Kinvara 5s with a side of sausage

Thinking out of the box

Today’s run (street): 3.8 miles

We had early plans this morning so I had to get out early to meet our schedule. Like yesterday, I was tight on time and that caused me to cut my targeted distance short. I didn’t cover five miles as planned, but I ran an interesting route. The run seemed to go by fast. After checking the data, I saw that I’d averaged 20 seconds a mile slower than yesterday.

Today’s route

When we got home I saw that my new Kinvaras had arrived. Over the years I’ve received shoes from manufacturers for review (most recently the Saucony Triumph ISOs) and that’s always fun. However, test models are not necessarily the shoes that I’d buy for myself. The Kinvara 5 definitely seems to meet my needs. In fact, it’s the third version of the Kinvara that I’ve owned, and I was happy to pay for them.

My Kinvara collection

I immediately replaced the K5’s original laces with a pair of “sausage” style. These laces never untie and I use them with most of my running shoes. The Kinvara 5s have a feature called “Pro-Lock” that provides a more secure mid-foot fit and I wondered how that would work with new laces. After trying them on and taking some steps around the living room, I determined that the combination worked.

I plan to use them for the first time tomorrow. I have no expectation that these new shoes will give me more speed or provide a noticeably better running experience than the Triumphs. But from the first time I put put on a Kinvara in 2010, I knew it was the shoe for me. I hope it still is.

Pouring without raining

 

Todays run (street): 3.5 miles

 As expected, I woke up around 5:30 AM to the percussive sound of rain on the skylight. This continued for at least an hour, but by 8:00 AM, conditions had improved enough for me to venture outside. The skies were dark and overcast and I couldn’t tell whether the rain had completely stopped. Surprisingly enough, my Garmin grabbed a signal almost instantly and I was off.

I hadn’t gone more than a few tenths before I felt a cascade of water drops as I rounded the first corner. Despite the rain, I decided to keep going. Interestingly enough, the “downpour” stopped as quickly as it came, and I realized the “rain” was merely droplets of water shaken off the trees overhead. I continued along, getting intermittently splattered every time I ran under a group of trees.

My route today was three 1.15 mile loops that started and finished in front of my house. As time went on, things began to dry and the tree showers became less frequent. The sun started showing through the clouds, but not enough for me to regret leaving my sunglasses at home. It was a decent run and I was pleased that the weather hadn’t relegated me to the treadmill today.

Tomorrow is supposed to be dry all day and, if I get out around 8:00 AM, the humidity level should be a tolerable 52%. That would be a big improvement compared to all my other runs this week. If I get in eight more miles over the next couple of days, this could be my highest mileage week this year.

High visibility bargain

Orange you glad I bought this

Today’s run (street): 4.25 miles

I spent an awful lot of time talking myself into running this morning. If I’d just headed out early, before all the heat, sun and humidity, I would have been a lot more comfortable. By the time I was ready to go, we were hit with a deluge of rain. I had another cup of coffee while I waited out the storm. Once the skies were clear, I was able to go out. But by then, I just didn’t feel like running.

Somehow I managed to make my way out the door. I planned to keep it simple and follow my one-mile loop as many times as I could stand it. As it happened, I could only stand it once. I changed my route and followed Jericho Turnpike west, going past restaurants and shopping centers before cutting back into the neighborhood. By the way, if you’re looking for a bargain, Rare 650 is offering a steak special for two – only $99.99!

Speaking of bargains, I found a better one at SA Elite this afternoon. It’s my favorite running store, full of great discounted running clothes and shoes. For some reason there’s never many customers and every time we go there I expect to see that it closed. My wife found a hi-viz ASICS packable running jacket for $16. Although I have a decent running raincoat, it’s a size medium and a bit snug. It functions better as a waterproof windbreaker and I always keep it in my work backpack. I ended up buying the ASICS jacket in orange  — size large.

I was glad that I managed to talk myself out the door this morning. Even though it’s been a low mileage week, I felt good about all my efforts This is going to be a busy work week and I’m hoping to fit in another mid week workout. And if it rains, I’m covered.

Triple celebration after a sweltering start

Today’s run (street): 5.4 miles

Today was a triple celebration day: Father’s Day, my daughter’s birthday and the first day of summer. Since we celebrated Father’s Day yesterday, there wasn’t much going on related to that. Celebrating summer is a passive thing unless you are a Druid, so today was really about my daughter. Except for the kids spending time in the pool midday, most of our celebrating happened indoors or out at places. A good idea considering the August-like humidity.

Loopy

The day did not start in a promising way. The torrential rains and heavy thunderstorms predicted by the weather services turned out to be less intense than expected. However, it was enough to discourage the Runsketeers from going out early as we’d planned. My friends switched the run to later in the afternoon, but I couldn’t join them due to birthday stuff. I’m truly sorry to miss that, but the 90° heat and 90% humidity would not have been too enjoyable. I’m curious to hear how that went.

I thought I’d be doing today’s workout on the treadmill and had considered doing a faux brick (30 min treadmill, 30 minute elliptical) to minimize my treadmill time. By 8:30 AM, the rain stopped and I went outside to run. My plan was to run loops around the neighborhood that would keep me close to home in case the skies opened up again.

Although it was overcast when I started my run, I thought to wear my sunglasses and that turned out to be a good decision. Over the course of my 50+ minute workout, the sun broke through the clouds and made for a sweltering experience. I kept my effort below anaerobic threshold to keep things tolerable. After three 1.2 mile loops, I expanded my route to ensure that I would cover at least five miles. That course turned out more circuitous than expected and I ended up adding another .4 mile to that total.

It was definitely 5 miles the hard way, and though I felt depleted and dehydrated, I was happy that I got out this morning. My motivation before my last three runs was very low, but each time I rebounded during the run. I’m almost as proud of myself for getting myself out there as I am for getting my runs done.

So happy summer, happy birthday and happy Father’s Day. With the 13 miles I’ve covered over the past three days, I think I worked hard enough to justify the birthday cake we’ll be having tonight.

Dog day run

When I Googled Dog Days, all I got was pages of this anime

Today’s run 4.2 miles

Well, it looks like a dog to me

This morning’s run looked more like a dog than a cheek-shooting bi-athlete. I think that’s appropriate because today was definitely a dog day. Predictions of rain got me out the door earlier than yesterday. Overall, I had a slightly better experience than Saturday, because the humidity and pollen levels were a touch lower. Still, the difference in comfort between shaded and unshaded sections of the road was huge.

I first thought about running at Bethpage and taking a route that toggled between the paved trail and the dirt side paths that cut through the woods. It came down to convenience and timing and I decided to stay local to get out faster. I’d put on my aging Virratas that would be a good shoe on both pavement and dirt. After I made the decision to stay in the neighborhood I forgot to switch to either the Kayanos or Triumphs – my current trainers.

I mentally mapped a new route and took off, keeping an eye peeled for my teenage daughter who was out practicing her driving. I immediately noticed how much I preferred the Virratas over the newer pairs of running shoes. Although some people I know love their super-cush sneakers, I’m still a fan of minimal models.

Probably due to pre-hyperthermia delusions, I took a wrong turn around the 2.5 mile point and made an ad hoc change that took me outside the neighborhood. It was fine but it forced me to negotiate some really broken sections of concrete. I watched my steps carefully to avoid a face plant. I cut back into the neighborhood at my first opportunity and completed the run by focusing on the tall glass of water that I would drink the moment I got home.

I ended up running close to 13 miles this week. Low by historical standards, but I only ran three times. I have moved out out of my 3 mile rut and next weekend I want to cover at least 5.5 miles on at least one of my runs. How I do in terms of workout over the next four days will depend on my schedule. I’m determined to get at least one workout in before Friday, even if it’s on the elliptical.

Running route or Rorschach test?

 

Today’s run (street): 4.75 miles

My grand plan for returning to my old weekday running routine went off the rails this week because of changes at work that took up a lot of my time. Bottom line, we had a big re-org that unfortunately affected a lot of people. As a result, I will take on additional responsibilities within the organization. Great, I guess. But I’ve liked the fact that (up to now) my role has been primarily consultative. That has allowed me to have a very flexible schedule and I’m hoping that can continue.

My flexible schedule allows me to work from home on Fridays and that allowed me to fit in my annual checkup with my doctor. One year ago, I’d told my doctor about ending up in the medical tent after the Brooklyn Half. He proceeded to put me through a long tedious day of tests and never gave me results. He only acknowledged I was fine by having his assistant send me a signed release form that allowed me to use my company’s fitness center.

I decided to switch doctors and I was happy with the change. Everything was fine but that caused me to miss one of my key running days. I considered running later in the day, but I was concerned about being depleted by the blood work. I think that was a good call because I felt lethargic on today’s run and I’m wondering if a slightly lower plasma level had something to do with that.

This morning I knew I needed to get out for more than a 3 mile easy run. We had some things going on in the morning that prevented me from getting out as early as I planned. I didn’t think that mattered but, looking back, I would have liked a little more time of the street before the humidity went off the charts. I sometimes experience a minute or two of discomfort at the beginning of a run that dissipates once I fully transition to aerobic breathing. Due to the humidity and pollen level, I never really got past that today.

My route started as a two mile loop through my neighborhood before I cut over to neighborhood #2. I’d targeted four miles but hoped to exceed that. The lower neighborhood is set up with multiple roads that provide different route options. I ended up doing an out-and-back along a road I like due to its length and shade. The humidity continued to build as the sun grew higher in the sky. I reached a point around 4 miles in when I considered a cool down stop. I decided to keep going, knowing I was less than a mile from home.

I was glad to get enough distance to support my goal of increasing my base closer to 6 miles. It wasn’t particularly enjoyable today, but it was necessary. After mapping my run in Gmaps, I saw that turning the route map 90° made it look a little like a tractor as well as roughly describing the shape of my home state of Massachusetts. I enhanced the image further to make the point (see above). Mrs. ER thinks the original route map looks like a person snowboarding. What do you see?

Tomorrow may be a good day for a trail run. I’ll need to watch my time because thunderstorms are supposed to come through at some point on Sunday. I’m hoping to get out earlier when it’s cooler and less humid. I don’t know how flexible my schedule will be next week, so I want to make the most of my weekend runs.

Late start on a rainy day run

Back in business

Today’s run (street): 3.4 miles

Our guests were leaving mid-morning, so I delayed my run until after they’d left. The intermittent rain made it an easy decision. I got out around 11:00 when the rain slowed to a mist. I only planned to run for about half an hour and thought that short period of time would help me avoid the next downpour.

The sciatic pain has eased considerably and didn’t restrict me much on the run. I’d forgotten that today was Tuesday and not the weekend. I was surprised to see so much activity on the road. When I came to the top of the first street, I encountered a gaggle of town trucks blocking my way. This caused me to change direction and follow a road that I rarely take. It was a nice change from my usual route.

The run was fine, but it seemed to take a lot longer than 32 minutes to complete. I put a little more into the second half and was pleased to see that I was maintaining about 80% max HR. If I wasn’t so concerned about re-aggravating my sciatica, I would have pushed even harder. The rain didn’t stop, but it never got any worse.

Later in the day I finally got around to replacing the battery in my foot pod. I haven’t used the pod in a number of weeks so I’m happy to get it back working. Next time I go out I’m going to be able to capture another important performance metric – cadence – and use that, along with heart rate, to help me amp up my speed.

Taking on all comers

Five loops with one variation

Today’s run (street): 5.4 miles

Things looked fairly bleak this morning when I looked outside to gauge weather conditions. It was raining, not a surprise, but I was still disappointed. I’d prepared myself for that possibility and my plan was to run outside as long as the rain remained moderate. I put on water-friendly running gear, including my ASICS running rain jacket and C9 running tights before heading out the door.

Once outside, I was pleasantly surprised to see that the rain had completely stopped. I didn’t know how long that would last, so I planned a route that kept me close to home in the event of a spontaneous downpour. I’d run this 1-mile loop a few times before. The first half has a 2% net incline and the second half has a 1.5% downward slope. I like it because, though modest, I get most of the elevation done by the half mile mark.

Since I frequently whine about the lack of visual stimulation I get from running in my neighborhood, you’d think following the same loop five times would be especially tedious. Surprisingly enough, I like this route because the cycle is so compartmentalized. Push through the first half and cruise through the second. No time wasted thinking about whether to turn left or right. Follow the loop, repeat as required.

I did vary one loop a little just for a change, but the rest were the same. I had a couple of situations when another runner entered my path, going in the same direction. In both cases, I was faced with the challenge of either passing them or being left behind. My competitive side kicked in and I took off in hopes of putting some distance between us. I was able to gain a lot of ground both times, especially when I was on my last mile and I pulled out all stops. I kept my pace in the mid-8 minute range for the last half mile.

It never rained during my run, but the skies opened up soon afterward. Despite that couple of faster segments, I didn’t end up with a great overall pace. Some of that may be due to my failure to stop the Garmin when I finished my run. By the time I discovered that mistake, a minute or two had elapsed and this distorted my data.

Even so, I was pleased that I was able to turn up the jets when the situation required it. Of course it’s easy to beat someone in a foot race when the other person doesn’t know you’re racing them. Can I maintain that intensity throughout the whole 5K next Saturday? Probably not, but when it counts, some tactical speed could come in handy.

Raw, dark, windy, rainy run

Rain puddle running

Today’s run (street): 5.6 miles

Last night the kids hosted a Halloween party and I did my best to avoid all the holiday related food and the tray of candy by the door. This resulted in a late night, but I wasn’t able to sleep later than 5:30 this morning. I only had a small cup of coffee when I got up, because I expected to be out running in short order. I looked outside and saw torrents of rain hitting the deck and decided to wait it out rather than do a long run on the treadmill.

The time went from 6:30…7:30… and on, but the rain continued to come down. When my wife got on the treadmill to start her run I saw that the rain had slowed down. I took advantage of this break and put on a few layers of running gear. Based on the weather report that said 40° temps and 14 MPH winds, I went for track pants and a long sleeve top.

Before I headed outside, I added my ASICS lightweight running rain jacket. I was sure that the rain would return at some point and I wanted to minimize soakage. It took forever to get a signal on my Garmin – the progress bar kept stopping short by a millimeter before dropping back to the halfway point. After 10 minutes of that nonsense, I decided to start without the GPS locked in, since I could capture distance later with Gmaps.

The combination of thermal and waterproof layers worked well and I followed a loop that was never more than a half mile from my house. I figured that if the skies opened up, I could get back in 5 minutes or less from any point. I know my neighborhood well enough to estimate distance without looking at my watch and I noticed that it took longer than expected to record the first mile. I guessed that the problem locking in all the satellites was affecting accuracy.

It was cold, dark and gray and the rain gained intensity as I went on. The jacket’s hood did a good job of keeping me dry, but it kept slipping forward and blocking my peripheral vision. I stepped in a puddle and was glad I wore Smartwool socks which are still thermal when wet. The winds grew stronger and it started raining harder. I was determined to complete at least five miles and ignored everything except the road ahead and any signs of approaching cars.

Looping the loop

I moved along fairly well considering the conditions and debated whether to add another loop to get me over six miles. Instead, I stretched out my last two loops into connected streets and ended up covering 5.6 miles before returning to my warm dry house. I was a little disappointed in my performance. After measuring my true distance and calculating pace, I had hopes that I broke 10 mins/mile but that didn’t happen. I guess I can blame the wind and the rain, but I know it was really my stride and cadence.

According to the weather reports, tomorrow will be cold, but at least the rain will be gone. I’d like to get out earlier than today and do at least six miles. I probably won’t make 16 miles for the week, but at least I’ll be getting in a couple of decent base runs.

I’m sending my most positive thoughts to friends KWL, NL, FS and other friends who are running the NYC Marathon tomorrow. I hope you all have great races and fantastic experiences. Enjoy every moment, stay hydrated and don’t over-layer!

The weird stuff I saw on today’s run

The Dark Knight visits the suburbs

Today’s run (street): 5.4 miles

One of the reasons that I love trail running is the ever changing scenery and the opportunity to be surprised by things I see on the route. I considered a trail run this morning, but for some reason, I chose to stay local. I’d just read in Running Times about the benefits of Long Slow Distance (not to be confused with involuntarily running slow as I often do) and decided to do a neighborhood run at a pace that would keep my heart rate between 70-75% of max.

I started out at a very easy pace – one that I felt I could hold for a long time. Running Times said that for proper LSD, you should run at a pace where you can easily carry on a conversation. I had no one to converse with, so I quietly recited the things on my to-do list and hoped no one thought I was deranged.

Even though my route was unremarkable, I did see some interesting things. About a third of the way through my distance I was coming up a road when I spotted a bright pink placard hanging from a pole that held a speed limit sign.

As I got closer, I saw that it had a graphic of a anime monkey and the word “Justice.” It was odd to see what seemed like an edgy street culture message – the sort of thing that you might encounter tacked up on a light pole in the East Village. Later I looked up Justice, saw the graphic, and discovered it was actually referencing Victoria Justice, who isn’t even edgy to 12 year olds.

Despite my easy pacing on this run, I began to feel fatigued. This was not the first time I’d had that experience after starting so slowly. I sped up the pace slightly and felt better. From that point I maintained a HR closer to 80% which carried me through the rest of my run.

The last part of my route took me to the westernmost part of the neighborhood. I turned a corner and did a double take when I saw what looked like the Batmobile parked on the street. I stopped the Garmin and pulled out my phone to take a picture. This car was enormous, the length of a stretch limo, which I’m guessing was its purpose. Weird.

A minute later I ran by another house that had put up early Halloween decorations in the form of malevolent-looking clowns standing in the yard. It was amusing, but I felt sorry for the people who live across the street and have to look at it for the next month.

I ended up running my last half mile at a decent pace, but overall my time was pretty slow. I did get my 5+ miles in as planned and saw some interesting things. I didn’t even have to run in the woods to see something completely surprising.