Will what I do today affect how I’ll do tomorrow?

Aspiration or underestimation?

I’ve only run once since last Sunday and this will go down as the lowest mileage week I’ve had in over a year. There’s no one reason for this lapse, it’s mostly circumstantial. Monday was my rest day, Tuesday was taken up with family activities, Wednesday I ran, and Thursday and Friday were days in the city that started very early and ended late. Tomorrow I’m running a 5K so I need to decide whether I should do any running or maintain my hiatus/taper.

I’m tempted to run some intervals to activate my fast twitch muscles (assuming I still have any after a week of sloth) or play out my extended rest and see if that produces a better than expected time at the race. There’s an argument for both, although one involves  a lot more sweat and effort. I usually rest two days before a race, although I sometimes cut that to one day for 5K’s. If I stay on the rest vector and do well, it might result in a new taper strategy for future races.

Given my utter lack of focused training for this race, my goal for tomorrow is to finish below 27:50. If I met that goal it would be the slowest 5K I’ve ever competitively run, but I’d still be okay with it.

Summer is coming, but spring running is here

Work in progress

Today’s run (street): 3.3 mile

Our house has been taken over by tree service people, who are taking care of some much needed trimming. The pool is now open, but the water color is closer to Pantone 364C than sky blue. That should clear up after a few days of shock treatments. The only thing left is to replace the fence on the outward side of the pool that was damaged by overzealous county workers doing Sandy repairs. The new fence goes up next week. Summer is coming.

Happily, it’s still spring, and the humidity and gloomy skies have finally moved on. I went out for my run this morning, right after the last school bus exited the neighborhood. There aren’t too many days in the year where running conditions are near perfect, but today was one of them. It may have been the lack of heat, or perhaps the cooling breeze that made my start effortless. This run came after my one weekly rest day, so that could have been a factor as well.

Before I knew it, I’d passed my first mile and I was tempted to do a true distance run, rather than a standard weekday 3.x mile workout. I reminded myself that, although I follow a flexible schedule these days, I still have work to do. Especially on a day like today, when business will keep me in the city late into the evening.

I enjoyed my run today and finished with an overall pace that was lower than any run I’ve done in the past week. The great weather certainly helped that happen. I enjoyed the run a lot and, like so many great things, it was over all too soon.

Rejecting rest is easier when you have options

Today’s run (treadmill): 25 minutes

This morning was a time of quick compromises. I set out my running clothes last night anticipating a cold morning run. Occasionally, I’ll wake up an hour before I need to get up and then struggle to fall back asleep. I usually win that struggle, but the ensuing sleep cycle puts me out until my alarm buzzes. This leaves me groggy and without much energy.

Today I had one of those mornings. My first thought was how much preparation time I’d lost by sleeping to my alarm. I usually wake up ten minutes prior to that and take the opportunity to start earlier. The time it takes to put on layers of clothes, a hat and running shoes (plus my SPIbelt, reflective vest and headlamp) is longer than you’d think. Add to that the wait time needed to acquire a GPS signal, and suddenly I’m up against my time budget.

After waking up this morning, my mind went first to the easy solution: a rest day. Sleep induced logic argued that I’ll be off on Thursday and Friday leaving me time to make up the miles with longer runs. I then remembered that on Thursday we’re doing the 5K Turkey Trot and I’ll be running that at an easy pace with my family. Knowing that I’d lose another hard workout on Thanksgiving, I rejected taking a rest day.

The next best option was to run on the treadmill. Running shorts, shoes and a HR monitor were all I needed and in just a few minutes I was off and running . I started easy and it took almost ten minutes of speed increases to get my heart rate into my targeted zone. By the end, it felt like a good workout and I managed to salvage about five minutes of additional downtime before my shower. A quick compromise was better than an impromptu rest day. At least it was today.

Running, storm prep and 5,000 pumpkins

Today’s run (street): 5.25 miles

We’re counting down the hours until the hurricane hits. Fortunately we’ve had a few days to plan and prepare. The kid’s schools are both closed on Monday and it looks like the LIRR will stop running after 7:00 tonight. Looks like I may be working from home. If there’s any upside, it’s that the timing of Sandy allowed me to get in a couple of nice runs this weekend.

My original plan was to run at Stillwell Woods this morning. I got as far as preparing my bag that holds water and recovery snacks for when I run in places outside of my neighborhood. Before I left, my wife and I brought in the pots of flowers and the pumpkins that sit outside our house. With predictions of 70 MPH winds (and higher), we wanted to eliminate any loose items from around our yard.

By the time we finished storm proofing, I’d decided to stay local and do another neighborhood run. Rather than duplicate yesterday’s route, I starting picking streets at random and just let the run flow. I ended up running west along Jericho Turnpike and then took a turn onto South Oyster Bay Road. I followed the road south until I could tuck into neighborhood #2 that sits directly to the south of my neighborhood.

I continued around neighborhood #2 on my way to covering five and a quarter miles, just as I did on Saturday. The temperature felt far colder than the 56° that was reported on the news. I’d planned to run a little slower than yesterday (and I did), but I was still surprised to see my pace come in ten seconds per mile faster than how it felt. Even after missing my workout on Friday, I still managed to come close to my weekly goal of 20 miles.

One of the many groups on display

Last night we went over to Old Westbury Gardens to see the Rise of the Jack O’Lanterns. It’s an event where over 5,000 carved pumpkins are illuminated with color and arranged along the paths within the garden grounds. We were in the 9:00 PM group and even under a full moon the effect was amazing. The above picture does not do justice to the experience, but it’s the best I could do with my smartphone. This would be a great place to run, though I don’t think they allow people to do that.

Getting in a run before Sandy shows up

Ready or not, here it comes

Today’s run (street): 5.2 miles

Long Island is abuzz with talk about hurricane Sandy that is due to hit us some time between Sunday night and Monday. The power companies seem to be expecting the worse, and there’s only so much we can do to prepare. I’m expecting to face some commuting issues on Monday, though my company has told employees they should stay home if conditions warrant it.

After hurricane Irene in 2011, I fully expect that we’ll lose power to our home. Last year our electricity was cut off for almost a week. LIPA is saying that 7 day outages are expected. I hope they learned something from the Irene debacle. My level of confidence is low.

This morning I went for a run in the neighborhood and appreciated having at least one weekend day without torrential rains and gale force winds. I didn’t run yesterday and hoped to make up some mileage today. I thought about going to Stillwell but those trails make for hard running that sometimes limits my distance. Conditions for my street run were near perfect, with temperatures in the 50’s and partly cloudy skies.

If the weather holds I’ll be able to get out for some more miles tomorrow morning. I ended up covering today’s route 25 seconds per mile faster than I’d expected. That gave me a boost and it reinforced that my conditioning is in a good place right now. The Long Beach Turkey Trot is still a few weeks away. I’m hoping that hurricane Sandy doesn’t wash out my training this coming week.

Following the primary rule of racing

Today’s run (treadmill): 25 minutes

It’s probably overkill to rest two days before a 5K race, but that’s what I’m planning to do. I have gotten away with a single day’s rest before some races, but I’ve also paid the price for running hard prior to race day. The primary rule of racing is “Don’t change what works.” In the same way that you’d never try a new gel or sport drink or wear new running shoes for the first time on the day of a race, there’s little to be gained by changing your preparation methodology.

Today was supposed to be my last training run for my taper and I looked forward to running the streets of my neighborhood. The weather report said clear skies by morning, so I geared up and headed downstairs, ready to hit the road. Unfortunately, as the garage door lifted, I could see the rain coming down hard. I would have run in a light drizzle, but this was not going to work.

I headed back upstairs and shed my outdoor gear before hopping on the treadmill to do my workout. I ran fairly hard yesterday, especially with the 3% incline, so I locked into a comfortable pace and resisted temptation to increase my speed throughout the run. Sometimes you get more out of an easy run than an intense one. After the hard training I’ve done over the past few weeks, I’m going to enjoy the next two days of rest. Hopefully, that will put me at my best on Saturday.

Crossing the T’s before crossing the line

Staying the course on Sunday

There’s less than 20 hours left until tomorrow’s race. The only things left to do are to pick up my race number at the Expo and then prepare my gear. Actually, there’s a lot of detail to that part. If the weather follows current predictions, we will have great conditions at the start of the race. In that case, I’ve identified which shirt, shorts and shoes (Kinvara 3’s) I’ll use. Along with that are many other tasks (filling my gel flask, charging my Garmin, SPIbelt items, sunglasses, warm up clothes, gear bag, etc) that must be completed.

Last year I made a list that came in very handy in the morning, because I was able to quickly verify that I had everything I needed before I left. I’ll do the same this year. I’m still undecided if I’ll start the race with bottled water that I can throw in the trash when I’m done with it. Water stations serve that purpose so I’ll likely just use them instead.

Yesterday I went over the race course with a colleague, BL, who is running the LI Half for the first time (his first half marathon in fact). He’s only been running for a year but he’s made great progress and puts in the hard work to train. BL frequently races and that will yield benefits for him tomorrow.

Another colleague, TC, will be coming by my house around 6:00 AM tomorrow and we’ll head to the race together. TC ran a 1:55 half marathon on a tough course two weeks ago and he is planning to run the Brooklyn Half next weekend. I’ll see him at the start but I’m guessing he’ll beat me to the finish line.

A return to the Hattori’s

Today’s run (street): 2.5 miles

Super minimalist ninja

Hattori Hanzō was a famous ninja and samurai who lived in 16th century Japan. I’m guessing that his sword skills were the inspiration behind Saucony’s Hattori super minimalist running shoes. I’ve put about 250 miles on mine since I’ve got them and I’ve come to love their purposeful simplicity.

For the last three weeks I’ve been running in either my Saucony Mirages or Brooks GTS-10’s in an attempt to clear up a minor pain I’ve had near my right Achilles. I figured that the greater cushioning and stability control on these shoes (compared to the Hattori’s) would help my healing. It  must not be the shoes because the pain remains, although it always goes away after a few minutes of running.

Since Sunday is race day, I thought I’d end my taper with a run in the Hattori’s. It’s a different experience going back to a shoe 1/3 the weight of the Brooks. I worried that my layoff from these shoes would cause me some calf pain when I returned to them, but I had no problems today. I ran okay but I’m nowhere near my late September peak. I think the Hattori’s provided some benefit over the heavier shoes this morning since I ran 30 seconds per mile faster than yesterday. However, that pace was still far off my target for the 10K. I guess I should reset my expectations for this race and defer my focus on performance until the following weekend when I run the Long Beach Turkey Trot.

Post-doctoral run

Today’s run (street): 2.5 miles

A check of the weather last night showed the possibility of early morning rain. I decided to think positively and prepared my gear for an outdoor run. I figured that I could always defer to the treadmill if necessary.
I was pleased to step out to dry, cool conditions and a full moon. The low cloud cover defused the moonlight but it was still plenty bright. Satellites acquired, I bounded down the driveway feeling like I’d have a good run.

After Monday’s “holiday” spent doing medical exams and tests, I was ready to come off my rest day and run hard. The first road along my route is slightly uphill. I normally wish to get past that section quickly, but today I wished that it was a longer road. This wasn’t because I was enjoying the run (although I was), but because I feel like I need every hill I can get to prepare for Saturday’s 5K.

I finished up with a credible overall pace but I hope to beat that time by 40 seconds per/mile during the race. It will all come down to whether the slowness going uphill will be offset by the speed that I can generate going down. I won’t really know until I see the hill. Could it be as bad as Cow Harbor’s James Street? I truly hope not.

Liquid strategy for the Dirty Sock 10K

Performance in a pouch

Tomorrow morning at 8:00 AM I should be off and running on the Dirty Sock 10K trail run. It will be the third time that I participate in this out-and-back race that circles Belmont Lake State Park and passes Southards Pond on the return leg. The last two year’s weather was brutal, hot and humid and even some rain. Predictions for tomorrow show 77° and 71% humidity for the start. Not ideal but better than last  year when rain threatened and finally started falling about 45 minutes into the race.

Low cal libation
Favorite fuel

I’ve trained the best I could with the time I have and I’m planning to use GU Roctane gels for pre-race energy and to help get me through that endless last 2K. I picked up a packet of Gatorade G Series Prime 01 that I will add to my G2 (low sugar) Perform that I’ll carry in my water bottle. Both times I ran Dirty Sock I finished low on electrolytes and fairly dehydrated. Generally I prefer simplicity, but if these supplements help me through my expected struggles then it’s worth the extra care.

I’ll file a full report on the experience. My taper is complete, the race day gear selected and my nutrition plan is set. I’m hoping for the best, but mostly I’m just excited to run this course again and see my family waiting for me at the finish line.