Fun with friends, Dim Sum and outrunning a drone

Run dad run!

Today’s run (street): 4.4 miles
Yesterday’s run (street): 2.25 miles 
Friday’s run (street): 3.2 miles

Vacations are great, especially at the beginning. I took Friday off and it has been a busy three days so far. I kicked off vacation with a run around my neighborhood and followed that with a swim. It doesn’t get much better than that, running-wise. That night we went to local fair and watched some spectacular fireworks later in the evening. Not a bad way to start a summer holiday.

Saturday morning’s schedule was very tight and I went out early with the intention of covering just a couple of miles. I picked a few random streets and kept going until I reached the two mile mark and then headed home. I needed to get to the car dealership, buy a car for my son, and be home by noon to greet our guests. Somehow I managed to do that, although the car negotiation got a little tense and my daughter had to watch me thrash things out with the entire management team for an hour.

I got back home a few minutes after our guests KWL and his sister H arrived with a sizable amount of Dim Sum from Lake Pavilion restaurant in Flushing. With little delay, we got settled in the dining room and had a fantastic meal followed by an incredibly good (and huge) peach tart. It was all so good, and worth every carb and calorie.

Before the feast
And after

After Dim Sum, we walked to the neighboring middle school where KWL put his new DJI Spark into action. This drone has a high definition video camera and the controller connects to a smartphone. so you can see everything the drone sees while it’s flying. It was amazing to watch the Spark rise up (and up) and see our earthbound crew getting smaller and smaller. At one point KWL had the drone track me as I ran around the field.

Rise of the Spark

This morning I got out a little later than I’d hoped, but the clouds were low and thick so I didn’t pay a sun penalty. The temperature was cooler than yesterday, but the humidity was unpleasant and I didn’t even try for speed. I avoided my usual route which made the experience marginally more interesting. Since I’m on vacation next week I plan to break away from my neighborhood roads as much as possible. We had a great time with KWL and H and we look forward to seeing them again soon. Next time the Runsketeers get together I think we may be joined by a new member who can really fly.

Sometimes it’s hard just getting out the door

Hooray, weekend runs are done

Today’s run (street): 3.4 miles
Yesterday’s run (street): 3.3 miles
Friday’s run (treadmill): 3.2 miles

It seems like a long time since I updated the blog. You haven’t missed much. Here are two things that are new since my last post.

1. My plantar faciitis in my left foot is pretty much gone but now I’m starting to have the same problem on my right.

2. I hate running.

Okay. I don’t exactly hate it, but I’m having a lot of trouble getting myself out the door these days. One of the best things about being a runner is imagining the possibilities on every workout. You can run inside or outside, on trails, roads, parks and tracks. Do local runs, long distance adventures and all kinds of races. Over the years I’ve done a lot of that, but these days I can’t seemed to break out of my same old route around my neighborhood.

I work at home on Fridays and, with limited time, have few options for my workout. That’s actually a good thing because, in that situation, I don’t feel guilty for following my quotidian neighborhood route. Still, I was not psyched to run on Friday morning but I knew I had to do it. I dressed and made my way outside only to discover a light rain was falling. Some people don’t mind running in the rain but I’m not one of them.

I headed back to the house and changed my running shoes for my Kinvaras that I use only on the treadmill. My last few treadmill runs had been tolerable so I didn’t think much of it, but a few minutes in I just wanted to stop. I was totally disinterested in the experience and considered shutting down and calling it a workout. I managed to bargain my way through the first mile where I promised myself I’d stop and reconsider the next couple of miles. I ended up doing my entire run but the entire time I was asking myself why.

Saturday was better, both in terms of attitude and weather. But not by much, and I managed to putter joylessly through my local route. This morning I had the same negative view of running. I looked at past issues of Runner’s World and Trail Runner for inspiration but could not convince myself to get in the car and drive to Stillwell or Bethpage for a long overdue trail run.

I ended up going around the neighborhood once again. It was perfectly nice but the entire time I thought about the type of runner I have become. What happened to the person who wouldn’t think twice about running the Bethpage trail to the Preserve and back on a Sunday morning? Or run the Dirty Sock course around Belmont Lake? Those workouts aren’t even on my radar these days.

While I am having trouble with my run-magination, I haven’t stopped running. I did consider cutting it short on Friday, but don’t think there’s a chance I would have done that. Let’s see how things go this week. I have a vacation coming up soon and I plan to try some more interesting runs and cover longer distances. Maybe that will get me back on track.

The Runsketeers get schooled

If you squint it looks like we’re sitting by the water

Today’s run (street): 3.3 miles
Yesterday’s run (Bethpage bike trail): 4.25 miles
Last Tuesday’s run (street): 3.4 miles

Orthopedists and MRIs, contact lenses, laser surgery, religion and tribalism, genetic testing, cable provider frustrations, camping in France, speaking Italian and tachistoscopes. Those were just some of the things discussed by the Runsketeer gang after yesterday’s Bethpage workout. Despite the steamy weather, we made it through our runs. TPP and I covered 4.25 miles while SIOR and guest Runsketeer, “Mike the Professor” (MTP) ran 7.2. He’s an actual professor who teaches at my daughter’s college.

We met up at 8:00 AM on Colonial, with TPP and I arriving first before SIOR rolled in with her new Jeep. After a few minutes reliving memories (I used to have a Jeep that I loved) SIOR decided that we’d run south because we usually go north. We started off together but soon split, with SIOR and MTP taking the lead while TPP and I adopted an easier pace. I thought I’d be running alone (which would have been perfectly fine) but TPP stayed by my side. That was great because we had some great conversations along the way. She told me about the cycling groups she rides with which go from brisk to insanely fast.

Running and talking made the miles go by fast, especially the first two. By the time we turned around at Picnic Polo Road, the humidity had gotten to me and my pace slowed noticeably on the way back. I managed through the big returning hill, but asked TPP to take a short break with me when we reached the top. Despite the humidity I loved the run, but I was very happy when we finally reached our end point.

My route looked like a 7 but we only ran 4

Once SIOR and MTP made it back, we convoyed to Starbucks for caffeine and food. It was chilly inside so we decided to sit outdoors. I was able to watch a number of dummies crossing Woodbury Road without a crosswalk while cars whizzed by them on both sides. I was amazed no one got hit. The weather, that felt so humid on the Bethpage trail, was really comfortable during our coffee time. I even got to use my cool Runsketeers, “All for One, Run for All” coffee mug that SIOR gave me at April’s surprise birthday party.

It was nice having MTP with us. He’s an interesting guy who usually races once or twice a weekend. TPP and I had met him at SIOR’s BBQ a few weeks ago. We missed our buddy KWL but he was doing his final training for a triathlon that’s happening next weekend. Like always, it was great hanging out with SIOR and TPP who bring the perfect balance of intellectual challenge and absurd humor. I’m looking forward to our next Runsketeer outing. Hopefully the humidity will be a little lower than yesterday’s 89%.

Giving humidity its dew

The muggy trifecta

Today’s run (track): 3.3 miles
Yesterday’s run (street): 3.4 miles
Saturday’s run (street): 4 miles
Friday’s (street): 3.2 miles
Last Sunday’s run (street): 3.7 miles
Last Saturday’s run (treadmill): 3.25 miles

There are two periods during the year when running conditions are consistently good. One of those times is late September when temperatures begin to drop and the stifling humidity starts giving way to crisp fall air. The other time of the year is around April, when spring starts to take hold and I can transition from quarter zips and track pants to lighter gear with fewer layers. But all conditions are temporary. By late June, short sleeves and shorts essentially become survival wear.

This weekend the dew point has been at or above 70°, a point that news stations characterize with words like tropical, uncomfortable and intolerable. Running in those conditions is extremely unpleasant. I suppose there’s an actual limit to the amount of moisture wicking fabric can wick and I think I reached that point during each of my last four runs.

Even though I ran early, the temperatures were close to 80° and the difference in feel between shade and sunlight was huge. Some people thrive on these conditions, but to me it’s krytonite. Not that I’m Superman or anything. Give me freezing cold temperatures any day. Except not when it’s freezing cold and windy because my face hurts. Let’s just say late September and April are really good for me.

I ran around the neighborhood Friday, Saturday and Sunday. This morning I needed a change of scenery and headed to the track. It was early enough to avoid the direct sun but not the humidity. I wasn’t moving too quickly but speed is relative. A nice couple had started walking around the track and at one point the guy said, “slow down, you’ve already lapped us twice!” I laughed knowing how abysmal my pace really was.

I’ve managed four runs over the past four days and I have to admit that my running improves when I run more frequently. I’ll squeeze in a fifth run tomorrow morning to celebrate our country’s independence and then be back to running on Friday. If the dew point drops below 70, I will be happy but my expectations for that are pretty low.

A week of celebrations and bad running

Just a bunch of pomp and circumstances

Today’s run (street): 3.3 miles
Yesterday’s run (street): 3.2 miles
Last Sunday’s run (track): 3.6 miles
Last Saturday’s run (street): 4 miles

It’s the end of the academic year and my kids have finished all their classes. My daughter just completed her freshman year at college and my son graduated high school Wednesday night. Last Saturday we hosted my son’s graduation party and that was loud and fun. Mrs. ER and I had a table adjacent to the party space and the wait staff kept bringing us food. And then they brought cake.

Track be nimble, fog be thick

I definitely exceeded my calorie and sugar budget and hoped that I’d at least get some running benefits from all that carb loading. I didn’t. I ran around my neighborhood on Friday and Saturday with mixed success and decided to run at the track on Sunday. Conditions were very foggy (according to Garmin humidity was 100%) so I knew what I was in for.

In celebration of my son’s graduation and my daughter’s birthday, I took a couple of vacation days this week. I’ve been fighting a sore throat since Tuesday and worked from home on Tuesday and Wednesday. That would normally prompt me to get a couple of extra runs in during the week, but I wasn’t feeling up to it.

Even though Wednesday night went late due to graduation and post graduation festivities, I managed to get myself out the door for a run the next morning. I slept longer than on a work day, but was still tired when I got dressed for my run. Things didn’t get any better once I hit the road despite another night of carb loading. Every time I have a run like this I start to worry that I’ve gone over the edge and will never run well again.

Thursday was more celebrating with food, this time for my daughter. I told myself that despite the gluttony, residual head cold symptoms and my less than impressive running, I would go out with a good attitude this morning. It was very humid when I stepped outside so I didn’t overdo it. I ran far better than yesterday and felt encouraged that I’ve broken my streak of lethargic workouts.

Today was a vacation day from work but not from life and we all put attention to things that needed to get done. I spent a few hours replacing our home networking system which always brings joy and frustration in equal parts. But I got it done. Otherwise I wouldn’t be able to post today.

I’m not sure what the weather will be this weekend but I hope things cool off. If I can follow through with it, I’ll get out very early tomorrow to beat the hot morning sun. By 7:30 this morning things were barely bearable.

Blame my low mileage on the Throgs Neck bridge

Today’s route

Today’s run (street): 4.25 miles
Yesterday’s run (street): 3.2 miles

It’s June and the weather’s getting better, but the traffic is getting worse. I had thoughts about leaving the office a little early a couple of days last week to get in late afternoon runs. My aim is to increase my weekly mileage. Due to the MTA’s brilliant plan to do concurrent construction on both the Whitestone and Throgs Neck bridges, my commute time is now averaging close to two hours each way. That got me home too late for running, showering and dinner before 8:00 PM. Lane closures are expected to happen throughout spring and summer until the work is completed. Fun!

So I’ll keep running three days a week (Fri, Sat and Sun) until I can figure out something else. I can always return to 4:00 AM runs, but so far my tired morning self has consistently outvoted my aspirational evening self. What I can do is work on increasing the length of my runs.

I generally don’t go into the office on Fridays, but it’s still a workday for me. Without my commute, I can usually get in a three mile run and be working by 7:30 AM. I suppose I can go out a little earlier, but that puts me on the road when recycling trucks and high school bus traffic is at its highest. I can run more on the sidewalk, but the hard concrete surface is wearying and the uneven sections are a serious tripping hazard.

Friday’s run went fine and I ended up pacing faster than I expected based on my perceived effort. This morning I considered other venues, including SIOR’s organized run around the extremely hilly SUNY OW campus. I elected to stay local and was later glad about that, especially when I saw they did almost 7 miles. Although my level of effort never got too high, I found today’s workout difficult. I would not have done well on the SUNY OW hills.

I hope they remember the roof

I did enjoy the overcast skies and 53° weather this morning. I never got my stride to feel right, so my performance was at the low end of the scale. Since I wasn’t going too fast, I was able to take the time to look around and monitor progress on all the new construction in the neighborhood. Last weekend I saw a lot with nothing but a foundation and today it was a house. Well at the least the framing was in place.

Tomorrow morning’s schedule starts early so I’m going to get out as quickly as I can and will probably stay local again to save time. I hear there’s a big party happening at SIOR’s in the afternoon and all the cool kids (plus me) are going.

Street, trail, track and treadmill

 Memorably running

Today’s run (treadmill): 3.3 miles
Sunday’s run (track): 3.3 miles
Saturday’s run (Bethpage Bike Trail): 4.4 miles
Friday’s run (street): 3.2 miles

Happy Memorial Day. The past three days have been good for running, but this morning’s weather wasn’t very parade friendly. I found myself on the treadmill today and I think that was terribly unfair.

It’s always nice to have an extra weekend day and we’ve made the most of our Memorial Day break. Schools were closed on Friday so I was able to get around my neighborhood streets without dodging school buses and distracted parents dropping off their kids. Getting in a run on a work day morning is always good because you start with an accomplishment. Friday’s weather was cloudy and a little humid but, I managed to beat most of my recent paces.

Saturday was warmer and less humid. The early morning sun successfully tempted me to the Bethpage bike trail. I parked on Colonial and ran south to Bethpage State Park Picnic Polo Road where the northern part of the bike trail starts. That’s a fancy name for the part of the road that connects the admission booth (manned by SIOR’s bitter enemy) to the parking lot. He usually lets me in for free by the way, because I’m nice.

Anyway, as I approached BSPPP Road for my turnaround, I noticed a steady stream of people passing by the trail head pulling enormous coolers. I heard lots of cheering and yelling and determined that a big soccer tournament was happening on the polo field. I knew it was soccer and not polo because I didn’t see any horses, ladies in big hats or VIP areas with tuxedoed waiters pouring mimosas.

I did fine on the bike trail although I wasn’t able to match Saturday’s pace. Every time I encountered a hill (and there are plenty despite what KWL says about that) I thought about the days when I was indifferent to elevation. My favorite experience at Stillwell Woods used to be running the most technical parts, like the Viper Pit that leaves no where to go but up, no matter what direction you’re headed. Now I have to psych myself up to take on the handful of steep and mostly short sections that pop up every mile on the Bethpage trail.

Yesterday morning was a lot like Saturday, but the difference in humidity was measurable. I went to the track and was fully sweating by the second lap. Some of that had to do with my reaction to having a few other runners on the track which sparked what remains of my competitive side. One runner was positioned exactly half a lap behind me, so I could gauge my speed in relation to his. I did my best to maintain that distance and spent most of the run around 85% max HR. Despite the moist air, I ended up with my best performance of the weekend.

Which brings me to this morning. I thought I might wait out the rain, but the news reports weren’t very encouraging. By 8:00 AM, my wife was done with her treadmill workout and I was ready to start on mine. With better than average runs the prior three days, I decided to start a little faster than usual. For music, I opted for the 70’s channel and when “Low Rider” by War came on, I was inspired to hit the faster button. Today’s music mix was runner friendly and it motivated me to keep increasing my speed every couple of minutes.

I got up to 90% HR max by the end and paced just a few seconds slower than Sunday’s track workout. Overall, I strung four good runs together this weekend and determined that I can push harder than I have without feeling overextended. Even so, at 90% HR max I’m only hitting a mid 9:00 pace. That doesn’t give me much room to improve until I can build a little more fitness. I guess it’s time for intervals. And I guess a little hill training wouldn’t hurt.

The only spring in my run is new construction

Springing up in spring

Today’s run (street): 3.75 miles
Yesterday’s run (street): 3.2 miles
Last Sunday’s run (street): 3.7 miles
Last Saturday’s run (treadmill): 3.3 miles
Last Friday’s run (street): 3.1 miles

I know it’s been a while since I last posted, but here I am again. You’re welcome. It’s been a combination of busy schedules and the acknowledgement that my running journal-cum-social criticism blog has become somewhat redundant. The exception to that being my write ups of activities involving the Runsketeers. On the plus side, I’ve still been doing my runs and today I realized that the journal really helps me with the get outside and do it part. So here I am again.

Last weekend’s runs were unremarkable, although I did have a good treadmill workout on Saturday. I don’t remember the other two runs, but I know I did them because they’re listed in my Garmin Connect log. Further, these runs even have my average stride length because I wrote to Garmin about that metric not showing up on Connect. Amazingly enough, Garmin responded that they’d corrected the issue. Apparently this was a problem for many. I was able to re-import my runs that lacked that data. and it showed up when I imported this weekend’s activities.

My running has been dismal. With a few rare exceptions, I’m back to where I was last September in terms of performance. Slow doesn’t begin to describe it. Yesterday morning I did an early run in light rain and just couldn’t get into gear. I averaged 72% max HR which pretty much guaranteed a poor pace.

Today’s route

Today’s weather was far better, but my performance was exactly the same. I varied my route. Since I was running slowly, I took the time to look around my neighborhood. I noticed many new homes had sprung up in the places where prior dwellings were razed during the winter. These humble ranches and Capes Cods are being replaced big contemporaries that rise like Olympus above the Serengeti. Toto-ly stole that phrase.

Despite my lack of speed, I was happy to be outside on a cool and quiet spring morning. I know I can run faster, but lately I haven’t been motivated to push too hard. SIOR is guilting encouraging me to re-enter the racing realm by running a 5K in July. She’s even picked one for me. Okay, let’s see what I can do.

Twofer on the track and road

One run already done

Today’s runs: 3.5 miles (track), 1 mile (street) = 4.5 miles

For some reason my Garmin has stopped recording my stride length. It used to show up under “cadence” but it’s no longer there. A search of the web yielded no useful information and Garmin Connect does not mention it in any of its forum posts. I’m disappointed and puzzled why stride length is no longer displayed. It’s a useful data point that helps me understand why I’m hitting certain paces (or not). I looked to see if there was a new software update, but apparently I’m current. I sent a note to Garmin support and expect to hear back in one to never days.

My thoughts about running at Stillwell shifted to the track this morning. I felt like doing some mindless running that didn’t include the paranoia of tripping on hidden roots or having mountain bikers stealthily coming up behind me on a single track path. It’s hard to explain why I find the track so appealing. I think it may have to do with being able to run outside without too much distraction and no crazy drivers.

I had the track to myself until a woman showed up to walk. That was fine and soon another runner appeared. It was a woman who seemed to be moving along well, but somehow I caught and passed her. I was running okay but not all that fast. Just faster than her I guess. I did 14 laps and headed home. Along the way I started regretting keeping it to only 3.5 miles. I decided I’d add another mile when I got home.

Road & Track

Going out for my second run was strange. I was fully “recovered” from my track workout and probably could have repeated the same distance in my neighborhood. I decided I’d keep to the plan and followed a route close to my house. The whole time I felt I was running by remote control, as if I was still at home while my body was out doing the run on its own. That was probably due to being fully warmed up, making the run feel really easy.

After I finished I thought about my experience and realized that the second run probably felt effortless because I knew I only had to cover a mile. I started thinking about a “day of running”, where I would run a mile in my neighborhood starting early in the day and come back home. At the top of the next hour (and every hour subsequent to that) I would run another mile. If I did this from 7:00 AM to 4:00 PM I could cover ten miles. If every run was a little longer I could do a half marathon or more.

So if I cover 14 miles in one day, is that the same as doing a 14 mile run? Or would it be cheating to say that?

Once, twice, three times a lady runner

Today’s route

Today’s run (street): 3.4 miles
Yesterday’s run (treadmill): 3.3 miles
Last Sunday’s run (street): 4.7 miles

Yesterday morning was rainy, so I stayed indoors and cranked out a decent run on the treadmill. The music mix was worse than usual, causing me to toggle between multiple channels to escape a string of slow ballads from the 70’s and what seemed to be the worst songs recorded between 1980 and 1989. For example, anything by Cher. I followed my usual technique of upping the treadmill’s speed by a tenth of a MPH every quarter mile (or so) and by the end I was in a full sprint mode.

This morning’s run was delayed due to an early morning appointment, but I still managed to get out the door a little before 9:00 AM. The weather was mild (57°) except when the wind hit. I dressed light and stayed comfortable. There are only so many roads to run in my neighborhood and the challenge is to string together a route that somewhat breaks the monotony. It can be as simple as running a street in the opposite direction than I usually run it.

Today I began with a run around the grounds of the middle school and while rounding the front drive I noticed another runner coming from the opposite direction. As we got closer, I recognized her from other runs. This woman probably has two decades on me but she’s always out there, wearing her purple running jacket with a matching hat. We exchanged cheery hellos as we passed by.

About five minutes later I was heading up a different road when this woman and I crossed paths again. This time we exchanged shy waves. I thought that was that until I rounded another road and saw her once again in the distance. She wasn’t fast but she got around. As she got closer, I saw her go up on the sidewalk and run on top of some driveway edging stones. When we passed, she said, “I have to do something to make this fun!” I could see TPP doing the exact same thing 30 years from now.

I had hoped that yesterday’s good workout would continue into today, but I ended up having only a so-so run. That was okay because even a mediocre run is better than none. I’m thinking about a trail run and may return to Stillwell tomorrow. The last time I ran there I had a bad fall and now I’m a little gun shy. I love Stillwell too much for that to hold me back. So maybe.