This fail is all on me

Post-fail elapsed time

Today’s run (street): 4.5 miles

Once again, I encountered a problem timing my run and this time it was self sabotage. Without a working watch to help me keep track of time, I took my stopwatch that I sometimes use for intervals. That simple tool would give me everything I’d need to calculate my performance on today’s run. I’ve had so much bad luck with the devices I use to capture my running metrics that I decided going low tech was the right path. What I didn’t count on was how easily I could screw that up.

The weather was perfect when I went out this morning. There was no sign of humidity and the strong breezes cooled without biting. I love fall running and easily settled into a steady rhythm while I mentally mapped out my route. I’ve been taking advantage of the new sidewalks along SOB Road that provide a nice straight section that goes on for a while. As I neared the end of that road, I stopped for a moment to check my time. I put my hand in my pocket to pull out my stopwatch and my finger brushed the reset button. Before I looked, I knew I had wiped out my time.

Gmap’d route

I stood in front of the town library and thought about what to do. I had only a hazy idea about when I started my run so that wouldn’t help me calculate my overall time. The one thing I knew was where I was when I checked (and screwed up my time) so I could use that as a starting point for timing the rest of my run.

Now where did I put that cheap trinket?

I restarted the stopwatch and continued along through my last miles, pushing harder than I had before my timing failure. The cool weather helped a lot and I probably would have gone further if I was able to track my actual distance. Now that I know how easy it is to accidentally reset the stopwatch, I’ll be a lot more careful. A few years ago Runners World sent me a “running watch” as a subscription premium (see above) that was laughably cheap looking. I put it away somewhere. At the time I dismissed it as junk, but who’s laughing now?

Personal distance best at Bethpage

Hardly sweating after seven

Today’s run (Bethpage bike trail): 7.1 miles

I was determined to make progress against my distance goals this morning and set my sights on the Bethpage trail. I targeted seven miles to make this my longest run this year. The chilly, high 30’s temperature compelled me to pull my Opedix Knee-Tecs out of storage as well as a mid-weight quarter zip. All geared up, I headed out early because I knew it would take a while to get through this run.

I didn’t bother to drive to the park because last week they were still charging to use the lot. I went to our regular rendezvous spot and immediately took off south. I do most of my Bethpage runs north of Haypath Road, but lately I’ve been missing the old trail. I took off south and quickly got past the short, steep hill that greets runners about a third of a mile into that route.

This morning I read an article in Runners World that encouraged hill-haters to embrace them for their conditioning benefits. I tried to keep an open mind as I encountered one hill after another. The Bethpage bikeway is rolling, with a few challenging hills and a lot of elevation changes. Sometimes these lesser hills seem like bumps and other times they seem mountainous. It may have been the mindset I got from the article, but none seemed that bad today.

Record breaker

My longest run in 2015 had been about 6.4 miles, so my plan was to turn around after 3.5 to guarantee my seven. Since I went out early, I had the path pretty much to myself. I appreciated the sights, sounds and maple-y smells of the late fall morning. The few who were out on their runs were friendly, although there were two teams of three cyclists who didn’t quite get the concept of sharing the path. One of them passed me pretty closely and almost got the concept of my sharp elbow.

Despite my layers, I remained fairly comfortable as the temperature rose to low 40’s. It struck me that today’s run felt no more taxing than yesterday’s, even though that was less than half the distance. With four workouts this week and my personal best for distance, I’ll consider this a good week of running.

Running with pride in the 18th ranked state

Greenbelt trail head

Today’s run (street): 5.3 miles

A few years ago we went on a vacation to Colorado Springs, supposedly the fittest city in the country. Except for the Olympic Training Center, I saw scant evidence of that. Even on the trails I saw few other runners, but I did see some fit looking deer. I hadn’t thought much about fitness relative to geography since then, but Runner’s World has an interesting analysis of how each state compares in terms of running.

My home state, Massachusetts, came in first (overall), followed closely by my brother’s adopted state (Vermont) which ranked third after Oregon. New York, where I’ve lived since 1990, came in 18th. At the other end of the scale is South Dakota (48), West Virginia (49) and Louisiana (50). South Dakota’s low ranking surprises me because I’d assume the runners there are fairly hard core. I also expected New York to rank higher given the active running communities on Long Island, NYC and boroughs, as well as the suburbs north of the city.

The route

Doing my part for New York, I got out early today and headed off to the northern end of the Greenbelt bike trail. After seeing people on the trail yesterday, I thought it would be interesting to take on the long hill along Sunnyside. The air was cool and dry and the sun was still rising when I made my way across the middle school field. I quickly reached the Woodbury neighborhood that leads to the start of the bike trail.

Running before 8:00 AM on a Sunday in the fall is a peaceful experience. Almost no cars and just a few people out walking their dogs. I made it to Woodbury Road and followed the path that starts flat but begins to climb after a quarter mile. The section I ran continues on a moderate incline until reaching the apex where it gets somewhat steeper. I took it to the overpass at the Northern Parkway and turned around. It was far easier going the other way, although a 10 MPH wind undercut the downhill’s efficiency.

Once I reached Woodbury Road, I turned right and followed it east for half a mile before crossing the street and switching direction. Along the way I passed Meyer’s Farm that had a sign saying you could buy ears of corn for $0.16. I thought that was a good deal until I realized that I have no idea how much an ear of corn normally sells for. So I continued on cornlessly.

The section of sidewalk that leads to the Woodbury neighborhood is one of my favorite local routes. In fall, the path gets covered with leaves and parts of the walk are unpaved so it’s like being on a mini trail run. I soon reached civilization and did the opposite route through the neighborhood before crossing back toward the middle school and then back home.

Later in the day my son and I retraced part of my morning route (walking, not running) and I took the above picture of the trail head at Woodbury Road. I felt I covered a lot of ground this week, but I only totaled 17 miles. Not too far off the mark, but I do need to stretch my base runs past six miles on weekends.

That "women-only" thing, again

 

Today’s run (treadmill): 26 minutes

Runner’s World ran a story on their site today that reminded me of a post I did in June 2012. The RW article is titled “Do Women-Only Races Still Have a Purpose?”and my post was titled “Are gender-specific races sexist?” In both posts, the point was made that the original reason for having “women-only” races was to provide a safe experience for women.

I didn’t write my 2012 post to debate that reasoning. I agreed that women-only races were a good idea back in 1972 when women were marginalized as competitors. Even worse, women encountered hostility from men who were clearly threatened by female competition. But in 2014, gender plays no role in the outcome of an open race and I have never seen hostility directed towards women at any event. In fact, in 2013, almost 2/3 of participants in open races are women (per the RW article).

I think what continues to bother me about women-only races is the tacit suggestion that: 1. women are still disenfranchised, 2. women have not yet achieved parity with men in non-professional competitions and 3. women need to be treated differently. This type of exclusion would not fly in other circumstances where a population’s civil rights have been restricted. Can you imagine if someone suggested a “gay-only” race to the LGBT community or a race that excluded all but one ethnicity? You can say this is different, but is it really?

Despite my arguments, I appreciate that many women seem to love the experience and the camaraderie of events like the Mini-10K and the Diva and Princess Half Marathons. But I still think it supports a double standard.

No resting on this Labor Day

Hard core

Today’s  workout (core, upper body): 30 minutes

Happy Labor Day. It has always bothered me that this holiday serves as a gateway to the start of the new school year. After all, how can you enjoy the day knowing that your summer will end abruptly at 6:00 AM the next morning? It’s been a while since I’ve personally experienced that dread, but I still feel it for my kids. However, they seem to be just fine about it.

Grey skies and high humidity undercut the opportunity for outdoor fun most of the day, but we managed to get out for a while for some backyard fun. Monday is usually my rest day, but I felt the need for some additional activity. I pulled out my floor mat and my four year old issue of Runner’s World that has my favorite set of Lolo Jones core exercises. I followed that with some upper body work, along with a set of sit ups and push ups.

That may sound like a lot of work, but it really wasn’t too bad. Just like yesterday’s experience on the elliptical, I realized how long I’ve neglected core and upper body exercise. Does my departure from running over the last two days mean that my workouts will now involve more cross-training? Based on my history, I’m guessing no. But for now, it may provide some extra dimension in my Cow Harbor training.

Four years emerging and a trail run to celebrate

Today’s run (Stillwell Woods): 4.2 miles

Four years ago today, I published my first post on the Emerging Runner. I had made some unsuccessful attempts to run in the past, but in 2008 I fully committed to running as a lifestyle. I’d also started a few blogs before that time but never managed to keep them going. My hope on that day that I published that post was to break that cycle. After four years, I think I can say that I did.

In the October issue of Runner’s World magazine, Captain “Sully” Sullenburger was featured in the section called “I’m a Runner.” The interview is short, but interesting. I especially liked this quote, “I’m not a good runner, but I’m better than someone who doesn’t do it at all.” That statement sums up everything I’ve written over the last four years.

Over the past four years I gone from being someone who faced every run as a difficult challenge, to a solidly mid-pack race competitor. I was talking to my brother yesterday about my four years as a runner, and how I struggled so hard on my first runs. I remembered hoping for the day when I’d be able to run and think of something besides discomfort and pain. Soon enough, my runs became my best process for thinking through any problem.

If not for Hurricane Sandy, I’d be spending most of this post recapping the Long Beach Turkey Trot that was scheduled for this morning. The hurricane devastated that city and destroyed the boardwalk that is almost half of the 10K course. I love racing in Long Beach for its ocean views and flat, runner friendly roads. I hope the community gets back to normal quickly, not for the runners, but for the sake of the residents. 

High visibility on the trails

Today called for a change from the neighborhood roads that I’ve run since returning home after our power was restored. Stillwell Woods was the perfect choice and I headed over with a plan to run my favorite two mile loop a couple of times. I’d recently bought a nice, high visibility running shirt at TJ Max for the bargain price of $7.99 and thought Stillwell would be the perfect place to use it.

The mountain bikers were out in force and most shared the trails very well, politely warning me when they were closing in. I’m sure the bright orange shirt helped them see me in plenty of time. I took it easy on the trail and was careful to avoid branches that had fallen on the path from Sandy. It was difficult at times to see the trail because the rising sun was hitting me head-on. I got whacked in the head a couple of times by overhanging branches but my hat protected me from any damage.

It’s been a nice fourth anniversary of my running/blogging life so far today. Later on, the Emerging Runner family is heading to East Northport to assist in an effort to get food to elderly and housebound people whose lives were disrupted by Sandy. Next week is Thanksgiving but I am thankful often, especially today when I am able to help myself and help others. The decision I made to run in 2008 has much to do with that.

Take it easy (at least 70% of the time)

Today’s run (treadmill): 2.5 miles

I read in a recent Runner’s World that 70% of your running should be done at an easy pace. This was defined as running at a speed that allows you to comfortably maintain a conversation. The concept behind this “Easy/Hard” ratio is that slower running helps build capillary beds within muscles. Hard running tears up  muscles and easy running repairs and strengthens them.

With the almost constant rain we’ve had since Sunday night, I planned for an indoor morning run. I really don’t like the treadmill but I planned to focus on easy running and save the harder stuff for the end of the week or the weekend. Since I was indoors I skipped wearing a running shirt and that helped keep me cool. I started very slow (5.1 MPH) and worked my way up by tenth of a mile increments until I reached a 9:00 pace. 

In all, I covered my usual morning distance although it did take me a couple of extra minutes to do it. Hopefully the weather will clear and I can get back outside in the morning. Will I run it easy or hard? With my lower back still slightly tender, I’m thinking that I’ll defer to the 70% side.

My Runner’s World moment

Emerging Runner: “Don’t quit your day job”
Today’s run (street): 2.5 miles

Besides my occasional Central Park runs, my “day job” has nothing at all to do with running. Yesterday these two worlds collided (or at least touched) at an industry lunch event. A small group of us had been invited to discuss digital media and sitting across the room from me was David Willey, the editor of Runner’s World magazine. Despite the temptation I didn’t ask him if I could write a guest column.

My run this morning went fine. The humidity is supposedly lower today, and that may be true, but lower is a relative term. I was already drenched in sweat by the 1.5 mile mark but in certain directions the cooling breeze worked as effectively as an air conditioner. I chose a completely different set of roads to run, yet completed today’s run in exactly the same time as yesterday’s. I am consistent if nothing else. C’mon Runner’s World, give me a shot!

Runner’s World got it wrong on the Hattori

I’m happily in the middle

Yesterday afternoon’s workout (Cycling): 4.6 miles

After a year of trying to adapt to a mid-foot stride I am finally sure that I’ve actually done it. Not everyone is comfortable running this way but (fortunately for me) my transition was fairly painless. The Saucony Kinvaras helped that a lot. I’d assumed, after running in the Kinvaras for over a year, that I’m landing closer to my mid-foot. However, the 5-6 mm ramp angle of  both the Kinvaras and the Mirages made it difficult to know that for sure.

Every sharp rock that I land on with the Hattori’s (as happened on Saturday) confirms that I’m landing on my mid-foot. Sunday’s run of almost seven miles in the Hattori’s showed me that heel cushioning and forefoot padding aren’t necessary for middle distance running. A mid-foot stride lets your foot’s natural shock absorbers — the arch and the ball — disburse the pounding.

Experiencing this, I was dismayed to read Runner’s World’s characterization of the Hattori as a “trainer for efficient runners to use as cooldown shoe or for speedwork drills on grass.” This bias surprises me. I’m certainly not an efficient runner when running in highly constructed, stabilized and cushioned running shoes. But when I run in the Hattori it’s a whole other story.

Run before the rain

Today’s run (street): 4.15 miles 

Today’s weather is supposed to include soaking rains starting some time this morning. I thought that after yesterday’s 8 mile training run that I might stay inside, especially if it was going to pour. I’ve been thinking about my conditioning gaps and what work I should be doing to prepare for the half marathon. An article I just read in the March Runner’s World focused on the glutes and how they affect running performance. I’ve often thought that this is a weak spot for me and I’m constantly planning to do the core exercises that will build up my gluteus muscles. I figured that today was as a good a day as any so that was my plan.

When I got up I saw that the rains hadn’t started so I changed my mind and went out around 6:30 AM for a neighborhood run. The Sunday morning streets were quiet and the skies were getting cloudy but I managed to get through my miles before the rain started to fall. While there wasn’t any precipitation, the winds were stiff and it felt like 75% of the time I was was running against them. I started off feeling energized, somewhat surprising after covering so many base-building miles yesterday at Bethpage.

After a while the wind resistance and my actual energy level caught up and it started to feel like a tough run. I’d planned to run 3-4 miles today and I ended up keeping to that distance. My pace was decidedly slow – about 9:50 – but between the wind resistance and some built up fatigue it made sense. I’m thinking of doing some core exercises later to work on those glutes.

Finally, my friend FS was planning to run the Coogan’s Salsa, Blues, and Shamrocks 5K / Kids’ Races this morning. I hope that was a good experience and not too wet. The course is run around Ft. Tryon Park and the Cloisters, an especially scenic area. Happy Sunday. I’m glad I missed the rain.