Back on the trail with Adventure Girl

Adventure on the OCA

Today’s workout (elliptical): 30 minutes
Yesterday’s workout (OCA Trail): 3.5 miles

It had been more than five years since I ran with Adventure Girl, but when we got onto the Old Croton Aqueduct (OCA) trail yesterday, it was like we’d never left. AG was in town from her home in Missoula for a college reunion and then some. Her schedule this week was very busy and I was thrilled that she came to my office on Thursday to run the OCA with me. Although it’s less than a half a mile from my office, it was the first time I’ve been on the OCA since we ran it back in 2009.

The plan was for AG to accompany me home after the run so she could join the ER family for dinner. Our challenge was getting on the trail in time to get a few miles before we made the long drive back to Long Island. We’d considered running at Rockefeller State Park, but the extra driving would have gotten us home too late. Instead, we relied on AG’s supernatural navigation skills and found parking that got us very close to one of the OCA entry points.

After running a steep grade north of Greystone station, we reached the trail and proceeded north. This trail runs from the Bronx to Croton and passes through a number of towns. The trail sits between residential areas yet feels as remote as being in the woods. We were able to see the Palisades and the Hudson River and shared our path with a couple of deer. We turned around when we reached Hastings-on-Hudson. Our pace wasn’t especially fast, but we moved along. I gave AG details about my back injury and recovery and she told me about her adventures running an informal 54 mile ultra across the Bob Marshall Wilderness and a 50K she did in Oregon.

Our run seemed to go by in minutes and we managed to get back to my house in enough time for dinner and a birthday celebration for both AG and my son. AG is like a family celebrity and we had a great time catching up with her. All too soon we were putting her on a train back to NYC so she could continue her New York adventures for one more day.

Between the two weekday holidays and yesterday’s run, I managed to get to the weekend with more miles than usual. I did an elliptical session today as a change of pace, but I’m expecting to get back out on the trail (paved or otherwise) tomorrow.

Putting the Garmin FR 35 to the test

First time with the FR 35

Today’s run (street): 5.2 miles

It’s October and I’m loving the cooler weather. But I wasn’t loving the light rain that greeted me when I stepped outside for today’s run. I considered staying inside and running on the treadmill, but I really wanted to see how my new Garmin performed. I learned later that the FR35 will actually track my distance indoors using its built in accelerometer. Better yet, no foot pod is needed, although the pod may provide a little extra performance data.

The 57° air felt chilly when I stepped outside. I decided to add a lightweight rain jacket that helped keep me dry, but I started heating up after a couple of miles. Had I run without the jacket I may have clipped a few seconds off my pace. Even with that, today’s run was the second fastest pace I’ve held since February.

It took almost five minutes to acquire a signal on the Garmin, probably due to the cloudy and raining conditions. I had hoped that would improve with the new watch. Perhaps it will on clearer days. Despite the rough weather, I encountered a number of runners and walkers within the first few minutes. My running felt strong and I looked at my watch to see my progress. It was then that I realized that I’d set up the display to show heart rate, running time and pace, but not distance.

That was frustrating, but I was able to estimate how far I’d run by dividing elapsed time by pace in my head. The Garmin connects to my phone through Bluetooth and acts as an activity tracker. When I got home, I discovered that my run data, along with all my steps, had been automatically uploaded to the Garmin Connect app on my phone. Even without the foot pod, I still got cadence and average stride length along with pace, elevation, heart rate, route map and a few other metrics.

I’m very happy that fall is happening and I’m excited that Adventure Girl will be coming for a visit in a couple of weeks. We’re going to run the Old Croton Aqueduct trail near my current office. I haven’t run that trail since AG and I took the train from our office in NYC to Irvington seven years ago.

Awesome day on the OCA

From a running perspective, NYC provides many resources either within the city or close by. Between the subways and the commuter train lines a number of great running paths, parks and bridges are just minutes away. While Central Park is a fantastic place to run it’s sometimes a great change to explore other places. Through the spring AG and I have run in some interesting places in and around NYC. We were combining our weekly business updates with our runs but once summer Fridays started we’ve ended that shortened day with more recreational runs. I mentioned in a previous post that AG will be heading to grad school at Yale in August (but happily remaining an integral part of my team in a part time capacity) so we will soon have fewer opportunities to run together.

We decided to have at least one more running adventure before her new schedule takes over and we jumped on the Metro North commuter train to Irvington, NY with a plan to run 5 miles along the Old Croton Aqueduct. The trip from Grand Central Station was quick and we got off the train and walked a few blocks to the entry point of this trail that runs 26.2 miles (interesting that it’s the same length as a marathon) from Van Cortlandt Park at the Bronx County/City of Yonkers border to the Croton Dam in Cortlandt. The trail is mostly hard packed dirt and fortunately the hard rain held off and that kept it from becoming too muddy. We both brought our trail shoes and they came in handy through some wet patches that we did encounter. In less than 5 minutes we had our first wildlife sighting, deer that were scattered on both sides as we ran by.

We saw many birds and at least one rabbit. The trail is basically flat which makes sense because the original use of this trail was to convey water to NYC. There were some uphill stretches and we wondered how they transported the water along those areas. Our plan was to run the trail south from our starting point to the Greystone train station and hop on the train back to NYC. We thought we’d built enough time into our run but near the end we found ourselves racing the clock and we covered the last segment at a faster pace before heading off to the street to run to the station. We made it with less than 5 minutes to spare and it was a bit of a shock to go from our hot, soggy, humid state to the refrigerated train car. Felt pretty good though.

I had forgotten to transfer the Garmin foot pod to my trail shoes so I had no way of judging distance or pace except to estimate that 50 minutes would approximate to five miles. AG wore the QStarz device and hopefully that will provide more data for us. It was a great start to the long weekend, a tough but exhilarating run that was exactly what we’d hoped for. I’m not ready to hit the street yet this morning but hopefully I’ll be up for nice recovery run this afternoon. I might hit the trails at Stillwell or Bethpage some time this weekend. I definitely have less leg pain after running trails compared to running on pavement. Maybe it is the shoes.