Head for the treadmills, here comes the snow!


Today’s run (treadmill): 3.2 miles

Today has been highly productive yet I feel like something is missing. Perhaps that something is the storm that is making its way toward western Long Island. The town just sent an email saying that schools are closed on Friday, probably because the Governor is shutting down the LIE at midnight. I’m less worried about the snow than the 45 MPH winds that could cause a power outage or knock down trees.

Earlier today, I pulled the generator out of the garage and ran a test to make sure it will be ready if we need it. That went fine, but if I have a choice, I’d prefer not to be running 30 amp lines into the house to power hot plates and heaters. Predictions are for 5-8″ of snow but I’m betting it will be closer to a foot. Either way, I won’t be running on the road tomorrow.

It was snowing this morning when I got up and I knew I’d be better off with an indoor workout. I love running in the snow, but not running in snow with cars. I’m working on a big project, so I focused on that while I waited for my wife to finish her treadmill run. Once she was done, I headed upstairs for my second run of the year.

Yesterday’s Hangover run was lots of fun. Being with friends and among a crowd of other runners helped distract me from the fact that we were running the same one mile loop over and over. Despite having the TV news for company, I found today’s treadmill session extremely tedious. I set the speed a little higher than normal, hoping that would get me through the workout faster.

I tried to imagine being out running the trails, rather than suffering through the unchanging view of my snowy backyard. When you run outdoors you can tune your mental state to the task ahead. A third of the way through my daily training run, I can visualize the roads that I’ll need to cover to complete my distance. On the treadmill, the first third is no different than the second. The only excitement comes at the end, when I usually increase my speed to the highest setting I can sustain over the last quarter mile.

The rest of the day was dedicated to my business project. I’m hoping to complete that by next Wednesday. Looking back on the day I’m realizing that a lot got done overall. But what’s still to do can’t be done until there’s enough snow on the driveway to shovel. I guess that’s what’s missing. But an upper body workout at 10 PM tonight might make this an even more productive day.

Hard to run and hard to start (talkin’ ’bout my generator)

Good reputation, but hard to start

Today’s run (treadmill): 3.2 miles

So much for running early today. Knowing that the temperature would exceed 90°s, I’d envisioned running the Bethpage bike path at sunrise. But the morning got busy and, before I knew it, it was past 8:00 AM. By then, the temperature had risen to the low 70’s and I considered going out for a run. After seeing on the news that a big storm is expected for Sunday, I needed to test the generator.

After five minutes of futility, my “high quality” generator failed to turn over. I bought this unit because the research said it’s a great unit. However, since we got it, starting it has been a problem. Without delay, my son and I took it to Home Depot to let Mike the technician look at it. I had to leave the generator behind and hoped it wouldn’t be an expensive service issue.

Somewhat helpful

I considered a neighborhood run when I returned home, but the weather was already past the point of bearable. I almost abandoned my plans for a workout entirely, but my wife said I’d regret that later. I took the opportunity to test a recently purchased cooling bandanna while I did a run on the treadmill. I figured that I could further optimize my cooling using the big fan.

I’d say that the bandanna was marginally helpful, but the heat and humidity were brutal. The protection from the sun and the breeze from the fan made the treadmill a good choice. I got through the run with little time to spare. We were getting together with some people right after lunch and I barely had time to cool off in the shower.

Later in the afternoon, Mike called and said, “Bad news, it’s going to be an expensive repair and it’s not covered by the warranty.” I was thrilled when he told me he was kidding. It was just $20 for labor, oil and additional gas. I hope the storm doesn’t materialize and that I can get in a decent run tomorrow. But if it does storm, at least I know the generator will start.

Battery failure, goodbye data

Today’s workout (elliptical): 26 minutes

I was able to sneak in an elliptical workout this morning. I didn’t do a full 30 minutes because of my schedule. I figured that all the city walking I’d planned to do would constitute a full workout. I just checked my Fitbit to see how much ground I’d covered, but it had shut down due to having a low charge. I wouldn’t mind, except the device doesn’t warn you when the battery is low. Neither does it provide you any way of checking the level while in use. I’d write more today, except the battery on my phone has dropped below 10%, so I need to conserve. Technology tools can provide great data, but this dependency on batteries can be annoying.

Stillwell trails and a mystery solved

My Stillwell Loop x 2

Today’s run (Stillwell Woods): 4.2 miles

The Garmin power loss mystery was solved this morning when I uploaded my week’s runs to Garmin Connect. The duration of Thursday’s treadmill run was recorded at sixteen hours and forty-one minutes. I had forgotten to turn off the timer after my run, and it dutifully recorded time until it ran out of juice. I was happy to see that it was my lack of attention, and not an issue with my battery, that caused the power drain.

The Garmin was back to full power this morning when I headed over to Stillwell Woods. It was freezing cold at the start and I expected the dirt paths to be rock hard. Surprisingly, the ground had plenty of give. As I traveled further, I even encountered some muddy sections. My hip did not bother me like yesterday, but I could still feel some soreness.

I followed my usual loop, a route that I favor for two reasons: I don’t get lost while on it and it doesn’t subject me to the extreme inclines that exist further to the east. I was careful not to push too hard and further aggravate my hip, so I locked into a comfortable pace and enjoyed the scenery as I ran.

I saw a few groups of high school-age runners moving rapidly along the trail and figured they were training for cross country. There were some mountain bikers as well, and one rode behind me for a while, but didn’t pass. Knowing he was there made me nervous. I moved far to the right, hoping that he’d take the hint. At that moment, the rider turned onto a connecting path and my problem was solved.

I ended up covering my route twice and even added a little extra distance to make sure I made my targeted distance of four miles. So far my hip is still behaving and I’m hoping the residual soreness will go away. It was nice to be back in the woods and I look forward to more trail running as winter turns to spring. You can run the trails all year round, but it’s far better when the paths are clear.

Severely concerned about my outdoor running

The quiet of my mid-afternoon train heading out from the city was replaced by the squeal of a dozen cellphones that had just received the same Severe Weather Alert. The message was terse: “Blizzard warning this area. Prepare. Avoid travel. Check media.” After Sandy, Long Island does not kid around when it comes to severe weather events.

I decided to take a break this morning after considering either a run or an elliptical session.  I’ve been pushing myself rather hard of late and I thought a day’s rest would be the most beneficial path. I just gave up my monthly LIRR pass in favor of individual tickets. That meant that I’m also forgoing my monthly metro card. So on the days I came into the office this week, I walked from Penn to midtown and back rather than paying for a ride. It’s not a substitute for a workout, but it’s a couple of miles at a fast walking pace.

I’m hoping the dire warnings about a blizzard are more hype than reality. It’s not that I don’t like snow, or shoveling. It’s actually the opposite on both counts. But large amounts of snow interferes with outside running (How I wish I’d bought snowshoes last year) and it can bring LIPA to its knees. Of course we now have the generator in case we lose our power. Unfortunately I don’t have a 15 amp extension cord that will reach the treadmill on the second floor.

The elliptical is here, but the power is still to come

Today’s run (treadmill): 25 minutes

Today has been an interesting day and I’ll leave it at that for now. Over the next few days I’ll have some extra time, and I’m planning to get in some long morning runs. I’m really looking forward to that. The treadmill has began to lose its appeal, so I’ve decided to get outside as much as I can over the next few weeks.

Our elliptical arrived yesterday. It bears an uncanny resemblance to the old X1 unit, but it’s cheaper and not of the same quality. The console requires an AC adapter that we’ll need to order separately. Otherwise we’ll have to keep feeding it D batteries. I’ll be glad to have the elliptical option on windy, cold or rainy mornings. In the meantime, I just want to get outside and run.

Run delayed by vapor lock

30 amps of LIPA-less power

Today’s run (treadmill): 35 minutes

Hurricane Irene knocked out our power for six days last year and Sandy had us down for eleven. We figured enough was enough so we ordered a Generac 5500 watt generator to be delivered to our home. Weeks later, we saw that the unit hadn’t even shipped. We decided to buy an alternative unit at Home Depot (a 5700 watt RIDGID) and picked it up this morning.

We felt it would be best to get the generator early in the day, so we headed over to the store before 8:00 AM. I planned for a quick setup and start-up before going out for my run. I thought, naively, that I’d be on the road by 9:30. The setup went fine, but I couldn’t manage to keep the engine running for more than 30 seconds before it stalled out.

I tried every suggestion in the manual and called the 800 numbers for RIDGID, Yamaha (maker of the generator’s motor) and Home Depot. The others were not especially helpful, but Home Depot said to bring it to them and they’d get to the bottom of it. They quickly diagnosed the problem (vapor lock in the fuel line) and had the unit running smoothly in minutes.

Playing around with the generator took over seven hours, from initial pickup to a final (successful) test at home. I am definitely not a late-day runner and the weather was getting worse by the minute. I considered skipping my workout, but decided that the day’s frustrations needed an outlet. I turned to the treadmill and ran for 35 minutes. I’m pleased to have completed my workout, but I’m especially happy to finally break our full dependency on LIPA.

Selfishness, empowerment and running

People are suffering, but ya gotta pay us first!

Today’s run (street): 3.8 miles

Let’s start with the good news — the power to our house was restored yesterday and the Emerging Runner family has finally returned home. We are grateful to our hosts for seven (!) days of heat, lights and hot water. That was especially appreciated after enduring the first four days of Sandy in a cold dark house.

The not so good news is that our phone service, that stayed up during and after the hurricane, suddenly stopped working yesterday afternoon. Verizon is saying it will be nine days until the service is restored. It’s annoying, but we all have cellphones. And compared to losing your power, it doesn’t even register.

Now that things have returned to normal I am able to look at LIPA without the lens of anger and frustration. My view has not changed and after two consecutive years having lost power for multiple days (and with no communication from LIPA throughout), I’m advocating for a regime change.

Signon.org is collecting electronic signatures with a goal of delivery a petition with 10,000 names to the New York State House, the New York State Senate, and to Governor Andrew Cuomo. The petition is entitled “Hold LIPA Accountable for Poor Preparedness and Response to Hurricane Sandy.” Click this link to sign it: http://signon.org/sign/hold-lipa-accountable

In today’s Newsday there was an article about how LIPA’s workers forced out-of-state workers to join their union (and contribute 22.5% of their pro-rated pay) before the could begin to help storm victims. The level of selfishness, negligence and incompetence coming from LIPA and this union is astonishing. There’s a reason why the Department of Justice regulates the performance and behavior of monopolies. Too bad that LIPA is a New York State authority. The only way to effect change will be to vote the LIPA leadership out.

Since this is a running blog, I’ll mention that I got out this morning for my first run since Wednesday. I’d hoped that two days rest would result in an energetic effort, but my performance was decidedly average. As I ran, I saw many homes in our neighborhood that are still without power. Even after 12 days, the scars from hurricane Sandy are starkly visible. I could see many tree and line trucks along the street, a rare sight until recently. I’m hoping that our neighbors will finally get their power back today.  

The Powerless Runner

Should I make this my new logo?

Okay, time to put another X on the calender because my house is still off the grid. We are slightly encouraged to see that a traffic light on one of the outlet roads is finally working. Rumor has it that a couple of of neighborhood streets got power yesterday. It’s been eleven days with no power to our house and no communication from LIPA. Governor Cuomo is suitably angry about the situation, but in his press conference yesterday, he made it seem like the solution was out of his hands.

The disruptions caused by temporary living quarters, 2+ hour commutes standing in a packed LIRR train and other stressful forces have cut into my already too short sleep cycle. I went to bed intending to do a treadmill run this morning, but I decided to forgo it when I woke up. This isn’t the first step towards the slippery slope of skipping morning workouts however. Power or not, I’ll be doing my first weekend long run tomorrow. Where I’ll be doing it will be determined by LIPA.

LIPA’s failure has ruined my motivation to run


Yesterday’s promise by LIPA that they’d reach 90% restoration of power for Long Island customers has been broken. We remain without electricity for the tenth consecutive day. The Nor’easter that came through yesterday was bigger than I expected, and it surely impacted LIPA’s ability to meet its service target. Still, for all those affected, it’s cold comfort to see @LIPAnews brag about its thousands of deployed workers while providing a completely useless outage map and no information about crews or restoration times. 

After an almost three hour commute home last night and facing even worse conditions in the morning, I decided to forgo my workout today. Between the weather, the loss of electrical power, storm damage and a significant scarcity of gasoline, Long Island living is not too great right now. At least the storm is moving out. Perhaps a miracle will happen and our power will return today. That could happen, but something tells me I’ll be putting another X on the calendar tomorrow.