Making my last taper count

A serious threat to pant-kind

Today’s run (street): 3.1 miles

As much as I love running, business needs to come first. For that reason, I was unable to get in my workout yesterday. I was in the city all day for meetings so the opportunity for a run didn’t surface. I’m temporarily boycotting my Fitbit because the holding clip has deteriorated to the point where I fear it will rip my pants when I wear it. Without it, I don’t know how much distance I covered yesterday on foot, but I’m estimating it was between 4 and 5 miles.

Today I had no excuses. Without a commute into the city, I had enough time for one final run before Saturday’s 5K. Although I’ve heard that I need to do weekly speed work in order to avoid embarrassing myself on race day, I think I’ve prepared well for the race. I decided that a good hard run over three miles would be a nice way to end my taper.

I took off at a brisk pace and tried to maintain that turnover throughout the entire run. The difference between this type of workout and a race centers on two factors: the influence of other runners and the psychology of competing in a timed event. Without those two things, my expectation was to see a very good, but not spectacular performance today.

That’s exactly how it came out. I’d kept my heart rate around 85% max and covered the distance in a little over 28 minutes. For me, that was exactly on the mark. I could have pushed harder and dropped my pace into the 8:00 range, but I didn’t see any reason to do that. 9:06 was a decent average under the circumstances. I’m making no predictions for Saturday. A lot of it will come down to how I feel on race day morning.

Technology saves an operational goof

XML salvation

Today’s run (street): 4.25 miles

I did the unthinkable after finishing my run today and failed to properly stop my Garmin. While I happily traced the driveway on my cool down walk, my Garmin continued to count the seconds, obscuring the actual time I’d finished. By the time I discovered my error, at least a couple of minutes had gone by, so my calculated pace was way off.

I really envy people who tell me they run without a watch or track their performance in any way. I think about how liberating it would be to run without regard to time. Unfortunately, I’ve never been able to do that. On the plus side, I’ve compiled an online record of every run that I’ve done over the last five years. Despite my failure to operate my watch today, I was able to reverse engineer my finish time by reading the XML output file.

The run itself was nothing special, 4.25 miles at around 9:30 a mile. The weather was downright chilly, low 50’s with strong winds coming from the northeast. When I wasn’t heading directly into the wind, it was extremely pleasant. I had considered doing either a long easy run or a short, faster run and I ended up doing something in the middle. I’m not sure what today’s run accomplished or what I’ll do tomorrow. But Wednesday’s run will be the last one I do before Cow Harbor. I hope that one counts.

Frustration mounts with the ProForm CE 6.0

Hey elliptical, you’ve gotta screw loose!

Today’s workout (elliptical): 25 minutes

Today has been busy. This morning was filled with meetings and this afternoon I presented a technical paper at a W3C conference. I’d had a much different expectation about early retirement. Tomorrow will be even busier. 

This morning I decided to use the new elliptical while my wife ran on the treadmill. It was my second time using the machine and, once again, I was disappointed. I had hoped that this ProForm, that looks a lot like our old X1, would perform in similar way. Aside from the fact that they both provide elliptical motion, the user experience is far opposite.

The difference is in the quality. The X1 had its challenges, but it was a sturdy beast. The ProForm CE 6.0 is a wobbly contraption that squeaks and squeals. The display shows your distance only in revolutions (huh?) and there’s no way to pause the timer during a workout.

Why would need to pause the timer? One reason might be that the bolt that attaches the arm to the center post tends to work its way free. I had to jump off the machine this morning at one point and tighten it with an Allen wrench. Lucky for me, I’d removed the decorative plastic collar last week to get to this bolt. I needed to break the collar’s connecting tabs when I did that, so it’s not going back on.

The rest of my workout went without incident and the bolt stayed in after my mid-session triage. While I consider the CE 6.0 far inferior to the unit it replaced, I still ended up with good workout that got my heart rate to target. It will be back to the treadmill tomorrow. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I’m actually looking forward to using it.

Garmin FR210 behaving badly

Get back to work!

Today’s run (treadmill): 25 minutes

After two years of stellar service, my Garmin FR210 has started to exhibit some bad behavior. I bought this watch because it provided basic GPS metrics, elevation data and wireless syncing with my heart rate monitor. Like all GPS systems, the distance accuracy wasn’t 100%, but after a while I understood the margin of error and mentally corrected for it. There are things I still don’t like about the watch, such as the weird way it connects to a PC for data uploads, but overall it has been a great resource and a good value.

The bad behavior started on January 1st, with my first run of the year. I was a couple of miles into the Hangover Fun Run at Eisenhower Park, when I looked at the watch only to see that it wasn’t recording time or distance. I decided to let it go and just use the event clock to record my time. I figured that I must have neglected to fully push the start button and was paying the price for that inattention.

Since then, I’ve run five more times. On three of those runs I’ve noticed that the timer stopped recording after I’d initially started it. It doesn’t happen every time, but it forces me to pay careful attention to the watch on every run. I don’t know why this would suddenly happen. I checked the FR210 forum on Garmin Connect but haven’t seen anyone else with the same complaint.

It would be a shame to have to replace this watch because I’ve come to rely on it to capture all my metrics, including a map of where I’d run. I still have my FR60 that works fine, but it lacks GPS so I’d need to return to using the foot pad. If I did that, I’d lose the mapping but would gain cadence, something I miss since switching from the 60 to the 210. I could always use an app on my smartphone to do the mapping since I carry the phone on every run. It’s worth thinking about. But I’d rather have the FR210 working as it should.

From bad to worse and then worse again

Today’s run (street): 1.1 miles

Today’s workout started badly and got worse. Everything started out fine, I changed into my running clothes and was out the door ahead of schedule. I felt fine as I waited to get my GPS signal, but when I took off I noticed my energy level was a little below par. My legs felt heavy and my stride felt flat. I decided to press on in hopes that I’d loosen up and rebound after the first downhill section.

Instead of feeling better, I began to feel worse and around the half mile point I started to feel queasy. I decided on the spot to run straight home. When I reached my house I discovered that I’d locked myself out for the first time in four years. I had to call my wife to come down and let me in. I’m sure she was alarmed when the phone rang at 4:00 AM, but at least it wasn’t because of anything bad. Of all days to do that.

As a result, I’m going into the weekend a little short of my targeted mileage, but I hope to make that up tomorrow. My plan is to run the big hill at Bethpage a few times to prepare for the race the following weekend. I recovered quickly from this morning’s incident and I’m hoping to feel much better on tomorrow’s run.

Sole treadmill slippage, once again

Today’s run (treadmill): 40 minutes

Happy 4th of July. I keep forgetting that today is Wednesday because it feels so much like a Saturday. I’ll feel differently tomorrow when I’m standing on the the train platform at 6:15 AM. But this morning I had the pleasure of sleeping in until that time.

The weather is alternating between sun and rain this morning. I’d hoped the skies would clear long enough for me to get outside for a run, but the rain was coming down too hard. Instead, I positioned the stand up fan that’s in front of the treadmill and started my indoor run. I forgot to bring my iPad home from the office last night, so I didn’t have the Virtually Active app to distract me. I had to make due with the scene out the window.

Our Sole F63 treadmill has been a disappointment in the two years since we bought it. We’ve replaced a lot of the components under warranty, but the labor costs have made this unit far less than a bargain. We are, once again, experiencing tread belt slippage and this is both disconcerting and borderline dangerous. Our low end Pro-Form treadmill gave us over a decade of trouble-free service. It’s too bad that this highly rated Sole continues to experience chronic problems.

The slipping belt seemed to settle down after a few minutes of running, but it returned for short periods when I upped my speed. I ran about 40 minutes and was happy to come to the end. The AC and fan both helped against the high humidity, but it was still a soaking run. I’m glad to have completed a decent workout early enough to enjoy the rest of the holiday. The sun has returned, so today’s outdoor activities will probably include a little time in the pool.

Gear gremlins and going gloveless

A great headlamp when it works

Today’s run (street): 2.5 miles

My Petzl headlamp has served me well over the years but this morning I was ready to toss it into the trash. This unit (Tikka Plus) is extremely lightweight and I often forget that I’m even wearing it. But the light weight comes at the cost of fragility. The plastic assembly doesn’t secure the three AAA batteries in position very well and slight movements will occasionally disrupt the connection and cause the lamp to go dark. This morning it took me over five minutes to get it operational, time that’s much too precious to waste in the morning.

Once I was confident that the lamp was working properly I set out for my run in temperatures that felt far colder than the reported 45°. I immediately regretted not having gloves, but I had a long sleeved jersey that I pulled over my hands. That helped a little, but it caused my shirt to bind around my shoulders and I soon abandoned that solution. I’ll plan to bring gloves tomorrow unless it truly warms up as expected. The run itself was great and I nearly broke 9:00/mile which is hard for me to do at that early hour.

I’m toying with the thought of running in Central Park tomorrow. It’s been a long time since I’ve done a city run and since Friday’s the lead-in to a holiday weekend, my afternoon schedule is light. I’ll decide tonight so that I’ll have time to pack gear for the morning. If Friday is as cool and bright as today a CP run could be a great pre-weekend workout.

Jerked around by my treadmill

Today’s run (treadmill): 2.3 miles at 9:12/mile

The hill work I did over the weekend caused great tightness in my leg muscles on Monday. This morning that tightness was even more pronounced so I decided that the “hair of the dog” approach with more hill climbs would be the best way to deal with it. I had played briefly with the inclines on the new treadmill on Saturday and thought about running one of the built-in programs that included variable elevations. I had not read the treadmill’s instructions to learn how to start a speed or elevation program so after a few tries I gave up and used the manual method to set my inclines. A few minutes into my run I began noticing that the tread belt slipped every twenty seconds or so. These slips felt as though the belt was jerking and suddenly pulling forward for a second. It wasn’t so pronounced that it threw me off balance but it was concerning. The worst part was waiting for the next slip – nothing like feeling stress while running!

I decided to finish my run despite this annoying problem. I found the incline feature useful and varied the incline between 2% and 4% but backed off on that when the belt slippage became pronounced. The slipping and jerking may be related to inclines because it had not happened before I had used that feature. Unfortunately the slipping happens without an incline so there’s no safe condition although it seems to stabilize when the speed is lessened. I sent a note to Sole and I’ll report on what happens. It’s really too bad, prior to this problem I thought the F63 exceeded expectations.