Observing transformation on my morning run

Today’s run (street): 2.5 miles

One day can make a dramatic difference. During my run this morning I saw that most of the downed trees were removed some time yesterday. Some scary looking wires, artfully draped over a busy road for the past two weeks, were back up on their poles. The streets were clear of residual brush, and it looked like we’d never even had a hurricane.

This morning was colder than yesterday, but only by a few degrees. I wore my prized City Sports running pants and a lightweight 1/4 zip top with an short sleeve jersey over it. This combination worked well for the near freezing weather. Had I run longer, or pushed myself harder, I would have felt overheated. I ended up covering my route a minute slower than yesterday, although the effort seemed about the same.

I’m thinking about this weekend’s running and I was disappointed to see that the New York State Parks website said that, besides the clubhouse, tennis facilities and golf courses, “Other areas of the park will remain closed until further notice.” I need to find an alternative to Bethpage for my long weekend runs. Perhaps I’ll head to Stillwell Woods tomorrow to do some trail running. It’s been a long time since I’ve gone off road and I really miss that experience.

Running in Sandy’s spooky aftermath

The shadowy world of a 4 AM runner

Today’s run (street): 2.5 miles

Hurricane Sandy is more than two weeks gone but the after effects will remain for a while. People have been saying that it’s just too soon for Thanksgiving to be happening. One of my favorite times of the year is the period between mid-October and early December. That’s when the leaves turn, the air smells like fall, and Halloween and Thanksgiving kick off the holiday season. Hurricane Sandy interrupted that whole experience. On the other hand, having our power restored and not sitting in gas lines will be top of mind when we give thanks next Thursday.

As I made my way to the top of the first street on my morning run, my headlamp revealed what looked like two cords of wood stacked on the curb in front of a neighbor’s house. If I had a wood-burning stove or used our fireplace, this would be a good time to save money on firewood. Running through the neighborhood is a little eerie these days, especially on mornings like this when there’s little moonlight. My headlamp and the occasional streetlights played off the huge trees, downed by the storm. In the dark at 4:00 AM, it looks like a scene from “Where the Wild Things Are.”

In the days between Sandy and today, we’ve seen temperatures drop, especially in the early morning. I dressed accordingly and appreciated the extra layers as I made my way around the neighborhood. The cold air definitely helps motivate me to run a little harder and I found myself pacing faster than the day before. The spooky shapes created by the storm were a fun distraction and my run seemed to go by quickly, even though I only beat Wednesday’s time by 32 seconds. Sandy overshadowed Halloween this year, but I got it back a little today.

DIY 10K as November’s race schedule shrinks

Today’s run (street): 6.25 miles

Hot to Trot

For the past two years, November has been a big month for racing. Starting mid-month, I’ve run the Hope for the Warriors 10K and then the Long Beach 10K Turkey Trot the next weekend. A few days after that, I’ve run the Nissequogue River Turkey Trot (5K) that’s held on Thanksgiving day. This race is really a fun run for me. I run it at my daughter’s pace, while my wife run/walks the course with my son.

This year, things are very different. Hope for Warriors was moved back to October for reasons that I don’t quite understand. It usually coincides with Veteran’s Day but not this year. I was unable to make the new date this year because of a conflict in my schedule. That’s unfortunate because I really like that race.

Long Beach, New York, took a beating during Hurricane Sandy. The boardwalk and the beaches were destroyed and the storm left thousands of people homeless. It’s a tragic situation and the race has (of course) been cancelled.

So this leaves the Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving day and I’m happy to be running with my family. My kids are excited about it and even bought turkey hats to wear when they run. The Nissequogue course runs through the old former Kings Park Psychiatric Hospital that is being torn down. I’m curious to see if they’ll change the route this year.

Since I wasn’t able to run the Hope for Warriors 10K race today, I decided to do a symbolic run of the same distance. I first planned to run at Bethpage, but I saw on the website that the park is closed until further notice. I imagine that Sandy brought widespread destruction to the trees, paths and golf courses. I was left with little choice but to run locally and  set off in my neighborhood to complete my run.

I didn’t run very well yesterday, but I managed to stay within my normal pace range. I felt much stronger today, but the numbers showed that my average pace was 15 seconds slower than yesterday’s outing. The reason for that isn’t obvious. While I wished I’d run faster, I was pleased to have covered my intended distance feeling great throughout my run.

I spent the first half of my run on the familiar roads of my main neighborhood before heading south to neighborhood #2 where I surveyed the damage from the storm. The LIPA trucks were scattered about, attempting to get the last 7% of homes back on the grid. I feel great sympathy for Sandy’s victims, including those who remain without power two weeks after the storm. I’m hoping they’ll get it back soon. Personally, I’m still  excited when I walk into a room, flip on a switch and see something besides the dark.

Treadmill beggars can’t be choosers

Slipping and squealing but soft underfoot

Today’s run: (treadmill): 2.6 miles

When LIPA announced that it could take seven to ten days to restore power after Sandy came through, I thought they were setting up expectations so they could exceed them. After the criticism LIPA took about its response to Hurricane Irene last year, I wondered if their projections were exaggerated so they’d look good when they beat them. I’m obviously naive.

We are still without power eight days after losing it. I’m used to keeping our cars in the garage but we are parking outdoors while we stay with our hosts. That meant five minutes of scraping ice off the windshield this morning in 27° weather. Earlier this morning, the steam from my shower set off the smoke detector, waking everyone up at 5:30 AM. We miss our house.

I used my mother-in-law’s treadmill this morning because I wasn’t comfortable running in their neighborhood at 4:00 AM. The neighborhood itself is safe, but I didn’t want their security people to be alarmed by a crazy person with a headlamp running around this community. The treadmill is a Nordic Track and the tread platform has a little give compared to our Sole’s. The Nordic Track machine was in need of maintenance, judging from the occasional squealing and slipping of the belt. The slipping did decrease after a few minutes.

I discovered that the machine would not go any lower than a 1% incline, but in the spirit of making lemonade from lemons, I took it as a challenge on top of just pushing my speed. I ran faster on this treadmill than I usually run on our home unit, but you can’t compare machines that may be calibrated differently. With any luck, our power will come back tomorrow and I can return to the road. That is, if the coming storm doesn’t force me indoors, once again.

Still no power, but the running hasn’t stopped

Gas lines: the downside of using generators

Today’s run (street): 5.4 miles

It’s day three in our temporary home and our quality of life between today and last Friday morning is measurable. We stopped back at the house to get some needed items and though we hoped to find the power restored, our house was still dark and cold. We are probably (at least) three days away from getting our power back. That’s created some strain on the gasoline supply and we saw long lines of people queuing up to fill portable gas containers (above).

I’m concerned about having a much longer commute to work tomorrow. At least I’ll have a hot shower to start me off. I certainly appreciated having hot showers after the three runs I have done since we’ve relocated to “The Greens.” This morning I went out with a plan to cover about five miles. Just for fun, I decided to run yesterday’s route in the opposite direction.

The temperature was in the mid-30’s when I started out, but my City Sports running pants and two layers on top kept me comfortable throughout my run. I felt strong from the start and maintained that energy as I made my way through the neighborhood. The hills were in different locations today, but the net elevation was the same. When I returned to the house, my mother-in-law presented me with a couple of slices of challah french toast, fresh off the griddle.

The work week starts tomorrow and I hope that the trains are running on time. I’ll probably do some treadmill runs over the next few days. With any luck, we’ll be back in our house before the end of the week.

Running in the Greens

Verdant

Yesterday’s run (street): 4.5 miles
Today’s run (street): 5.2 miles

We’re staying at our in-laws for what looks like the duration of the power outage. The accommodations are first rate and we’re appreciating the heat, hot water and electricity. My running schedule has been disrupted this week by the storm, but I’ve managed to cover almost 14 miles, with 9.7 of them on the streets around our temporary location.

Yesterday’s run was a nice change from my neighborhood streets. Our hosts live in a gated community called “The Greens” that is meticulously landscaped. While the homes are fairly similar, the colors and architectural features vary throughout neighborhood. There are a couple of long roads that bend around, creating an approximately two mile loop. I ran variations of that route over the last two days for different distances.

I felt great on both runs, the roads varied in pitch all along the route. I wouldn’t call them hills, but some roads provided rolling elevations for short periods. The tough part of the run came during times when the wind was hitting me head on. Between the chill and the force it was hard to maintain a smooth stride. I ended up averaging mid-9:00 paces both runs. Without the wind I probably would have gained 10-15 seconds per mile overall.

I plan to head out again tomorrow for my second weekend run. There’s a chance that we could regain our power by the time I have to return to the office, but I’m not counting on that. If we need to stay longer I’ll use the treadmill during the week because I forgot to bring my headlamp and reflective vest from home. Oh well, using a new treadmill is always a fun experience.

In other running news, I was surprised to learn that the NYC marathon was canceled. I completely understand the reasons behind the decision but I feel badly for my friends who were planning to participate. It’s easy to second guess someone else’s timing, but I think it would have been better to call it off a few days earlier. That way more out of town runners could save their travel expenses and free up hotels for displaced residents. I’ll miss watching the race, but I respect the organizers and the mayor for doing the right thing.