Dinner and a movie with the Runsketeers

Hey, that ain’t Starbucks!

Photo courtesy of KWL

Today’s run (street): 3.8 miles
Yesterday’s run (street): 3.3 miles

The Runsketeers got together yesterday to see the new film, Patriot’s Day. I was initially disappointed that the film wasn’t about my birthday (April 19) but I soon forgot the injustice. I remember the Boston bombing very clearly, but I learned a lot of new stuff in this movie, including the fact that Marky Mark figured out almost everything about the perpetrators for the Boston and Watertown Police and the FBI special agent in charge, even though Markey was suspended or on probation for some unexplained reason.

I also learned that if I ever find myself in the middle of a street shootout between police and terrorists, I should take cover behind a Mercedes GLS and not a Ford Explorer. Besides these valuable insights, I thoroughly enjoyed the movie and encourage all runners and non-runners to see it. It wasn’t really about the Boston Marathon itself, but for those of us who grew up watching it live each year (me) or actually qualified and ran it (SIOR), it was personal. TPP and KWL also gave it two thumbs up.

It was fun to see my Runsketeer buddies wearing something other than compression gear. We settled into the theater’s la-z-boy seats to watch the movie trailers that were basically a bunch of flashy cuts with lots of explosions and aliens, and a soundtrack loud enough to feel. I suppose that was the Dolby sound system turned up to 11. I don’t get out much but I guess this is the new normal. The last time I’d gone to the movies I had to sit in a seat without a built-in foot rest or a cup holder capable of securing a gallon of soda.

It was a good thing those cup holders were as big as they were, because SIOR purchased a drink so big that Michael Bloomberg would have arrested her on the spot for possessing it. She needed it to wash down her one-two combination of Milk Duds and popcorn. We planned to have dinner afterward but I figured that all that junk food would ruin an appetite. Nope.

We ended up going to a Sushi place in Garden City. I couldn’t stay for dinner, but I did have a beer and got to hang out with my buddies until my mommy wife picked me up an hour or so later. Along with TPP, KWL and SIOR, we were joined by Mr. SIOR and their four mini-SIORs. They were adorable and very well behaved and it was good to seem them all again.

I did get a couple of runs in since Friday, both around my neighborhood. Yesterday’s route was a series of loops that never took me more than half a mile away from my house. I didn’t match Friday’s pace but I got it done. This morning I wanted to get out before the weather started to turn. We’re supposed to get over 2 inches of rain and see 50-60 MPH winds by tonight. The skies were clear of precipitation but the moderate coolness and 93% humidity created a lot of fog which was fun to run through.

I wore my highest visibility shirt and took a circuitous route around my neighborhood that got me to almost four miles. My performance was better than Saturday’s but slightly slower than Friday’s. I’ll admit that I’ve fallen back into the 3-4 mile distance rut and that probably won’t change until get back to the Bethpage trail. Maybe next weekend.  In the meantime, I’m happy that I’ve been able to resume my weekend running routine. And very glad I got to see the mighty Runsketeers two weekends in a row.

Runsketeer run at the Massapequa Preserve

Me, SIOR, virtual KWL, JC & TPP

Today’s run (Massapequa Preserve trail): 3.1

The Runsketeers got together today (at the Massapequa Preserve) for the first time since late November. We almost ended up at SUNY Old Westbury out of concern that yesterday’s snow would make the trail unrunnable. SIOR, who is training for Boston in April, had a long run planned today and got to the Preserve early to gain miles before we arrived. She texted us that the trail was fine so we all met there at 9:00 AM.

We had a complete crew today that included me, SIOR, KWL, TPP and JC. We were glad to see each other but quickly hustled onto the trail. There was a guy standing with his barking dog that SIOR said had been in that spot all morning. Better a dog on a leash than some of the other weirdness that goes on at the Preserve these days. I took it slow for two reasons. One because it was slippery. Two, because I’m slow. TPP and JC took off ahead of us, KWL eventually caught up with them and SIOR and I carefully made our way through the snow and ice covered sections.

I’m still coming back from a couple of weeks where most of my aerobic activity consisted of coughing and not running. I’d run about 6.5 miles since Friday, but today’s weather and trail conditions discouraged me from going more than 3.1 miles today. SIOR and I were able to chat easily through our out-and-back. We took refuge in her monster truck to stay warm until KWL joined us after completing 5+ miles. The three of us hung out until TPP and JC returned from their 7 mile journey.

Unfortunately KWL needed to leave earlier than planned and couldn’t join us for aprés run coffee. The four of us made our way to Starbucks and commandeered a long table where we exchanged holiday gifts. I think this counts as the Runsketeer holiday party. SIOR gave me two ways to keep my hands warm – an awesome pair of UA running gloves and two packet hand warmers. Both will be well used. TPP gave me a couple of Daily Burn CDs which will finally force me to pay attention to my upper body.

The four of us talked a lot about running and TPP and I compared our PBs for 5K, 4 miles, 10K, and half marathons. She beat me by either a little (3 seconds on the 5K) or a lot (3+ minutes on the 10K). I wished I’d mentioned 8K, because I may have won that one since she probably hasn’t raced that distance.

We talked about endurance events and I asked JC what part of a triathlon is the hardest. He said none of it is hard. In fact he said an Iron Man is a piece of cake because you have 17 hours to finish. Actually he said SIOR could do it in less than a day and I could do it in a week. I wonder if I should be insulted by that. I always thought a week was more than 17 hours. Maybe triathlon math is different than regular math.

We missed KWL, but I put him in the picture above. That was his picture from the last time the Runsketeers got together. This picture was the best of about five that I took today. SIOR was making faces in one (big surprise) and my phone distorted at the edges and made TPP (who is extremely fit) look like a candidate for the Biggest Loser.

It was great getting to be with my buddies all morning. I’m excited that I’ll get to see them again soon when we all go to see the movie Patriot’s Day. Due to the icy roads, I’m probably going to stay inside and do my fourth weekend run on the treadmill tomorrow. If I’m feeling ambitious I will take a crack at the Daily Burn vids. I really hope we have a thaw this week so I can run outside and use my cool new running gloves on Friday.

The Runsketeers take on Eisenhower Park

The homeless guy offered to take this picture but I wanted to keep my phone

Today’s run (Eisenhower Park): 6.4 miles

As I selected my gear this morning for today’s run with my Runskebuds, I was a little concerned about the howling winds outside. I wondered if the story of the day would be about our group being blown all around Eisenhower Park. The wind didn’t turn out to be much of a factor after all, but we did literally run all around the park.

I met the usual suspects in the Bear Park lot (#2). I don’t know why it’s called that. In fact, there isn’t one sign calling it that, but SIOR told us to go there. It was pretty damn chilly and most of us dressed for the weather. One of us wore shorts. Guess who that was. We debated whether to run through the park, over to Hofstra University or along the perimeter of Eisenhower. We decided on the latter and off we went.

We stayed together for about a half mile, long enough for me to think I might be able to keep up my fleeter friends. KWL stayed with me and videoed our progress while TPP and SIOR burned up the bike trail. I did run close to my current pace which is much better than the last time I ran with this bunch. We regrouped around the two mile mark and made our plan to continue circling the park. I naively assumed that would total about four or five miles, but it turned out to be over six.

My splits were fairly even as I made my way around. My slowest mile was my 4th because I elected to run on the grass strip along Salisbury Park Drive because I didn’t want to run on that road due to cars. The surface was pretty runnable but the uneven surface slowed me down. The slope at times was a foot higher on my right leg compared with my left.

We regrouped again when we reached Carmen Ave, just short of five miles. My friends fed me a line that we were “very close” to our endpoint. I appreciated that because running Salisbury seemed endless. As it turned out, running Carmen was more of the same. When it spilled out to Hempstead Turnpike, I realized I’d been duped. I had no choice but to keep running and I eventually made it back to reunite with my friends at the Bear lot.

It seems smaller when you’re driving around it

We headed to Starbucks, as is our wont, and the place was crawling with Alpha Epsilon Phi sisters who were getting their mid-morning caffeine rush. By the time we got our coffee, the big table was free, so we swooped in. Well the table was mostly free. There was one guy sitting there who may or may not have been a homeless person. He was kind of creepy but we were nice to him.

SIOR sent a group picture via Instagram and Facebook and hash tagged some of our conversational highlights: Garmin, Shoekicker, Sketchers, Underarmor, ASICS, Brooks, Apple, Time Warner, Jeep Wrangler, politics, flashers, clowns, Berlin Marathon 2016. There was certainly more than that, but I thought that was a great summary.

The time went by unbelievably fast, but then again it always does. We agreed to meet again in November and the plan right now is to run a 5K in early December. It will be my first race in two years. I’m not quite where I want to be for a race right now, but I’m getting there.

I love the Runsketeers and today was great as always. They made me run over six miles, something I probably wouldn’t have done without their company. Despite feeling like parts of the run would never end, I really liked today’s workout. I feel like I’m holding my gains and I know I will soon be a little faster. KWL, SIOR and TPP inspire and motivate me to push harder than I have in a long time. Our Starbucks conversations go everywhere and are always entertaining. I look forward to the day when I can join the conversation while we’re still on the road.

Runsketeers run an easy, peasy three-sey

Bananas, coffee and happily no crickets

Photo courtesy of TPP

Today’s run (Bethpage bike trail): 3 miles
Yesterday’s run (street): 3.2 miles

Could it be possible that the Runsketeers had not got together for a full group run since February? A look through the Emerging Runner archive confirms it. Unbelievable. Criminal really. Well, no matter, we reunited this morning at Runsketeer headquarters adjacent to the Bethpage bike trail and had a short, pleasant run and a long pleasant coffee-breakfast at Starbucks.

The plan was to meet in our usual spot at 8:00 AM. Although we have met there many times before, it’s always necessary that I send out an actual address to my run mates to GPS, lest they end up going to Bethpage State Park instead. That worked, and when I pulled up at 8:00, KWL, SIOR and TPP were sitting curbside talking about some unmentionable affliction being suffered by TPPs paramour. I now understand KWL’s expression when I arrived. It was a silent thank you for interrupting that conversation.

The four of us chatted for a surprisingly long time before we started to run. Usually SIOR demands that we get started when I’m about halfway out of my car. SIOR and TPP took the lead while KWL and I followed. Unfortunately, my Garmin had gone from ready mode back to nothing mode. When I reignited the GPS, it wouldn’t find a signal or let me start the timer. By the time KWL and I got going, our runmates were a quarter mile up the trail.

SIOR has been unable to run for a number of weeks because she has tendinitis and a slight tear in her meniscus. She became a vegan and everything is fine now. Actually, it’s been a tough recovery for her but she’s back running easy 8:30 miles. Or as I call them, going full bore during a 5K. KWL and I ate up the trail, moving along at my meager pace. The good news was that I could run and talk with no problems, something I have not been able to do for some time.

At the 1.5 mile mark we caught up with SIOR and TPP who had stopped because that was the turnaround point. Soon after, we were passed from the north by a couple of runners, one that SIOR knew. He was a run leader for Life Time Fitness, which SIOR does as well. We chatted with them for a few minutes covering important topics like dead mice on the bike trail and why I can’t run in the Diva half marathon unless I pretend TPP or SIOR are my daughters.

The 1.5 miles back seemed to take no time at all. Soon enough, we were back again at Starbucks for post run refueling. I got a Grande coffee and an egg and cheese muffin because I don’t eat sugar very much anymore. KWL got a much meatier version of that, because he’s running 18 miles tomorrow and had ridden his bike 25 miles to meet us this morning. Oh, and he’s running a half Ironman in Atlantic City in two weeks and then running the Berlin marathon a couple more weeks after that. SIOR had two bananas and TPP had pumpkin bread which I would have shared with her while she wasn’t looking, but held back due to its sugar content.

We covered a lot of subjects, most having to do with nutrition, tech gear or politics. We are pretty much aligned politically which made that okay. The one area where we violently disagree is the consumption of crickets (and silkworms) as a protein source. Well I violently disagreed. KWL was fine with both, SIOR eats silkworms (sort of and also, gross). I don’t think she was in the pro cricket camp, but I think it’s because she’s a vegan now. TPP was pro cricket, but I don’t know her position on silkworms.

The great thing about the Runsketeers is that we can go seven months and start exactly where we left off the last time we got together. But it’s better when we don’t go seven months between our runs. We agreed that we’d do this all again next month after KWL gets through his international running tour. I really loved today’s run with my buddies and was very happy with my workout. I could have easily gone six miles or more today. SIOR’s knee held up great and it looks like she’s back to normal. Well, at least her knee is.

Running the SOB route

At long last

Today’s run (street): 4.25 miles

As the old proverb goes, nothing succeeds like success. In my case, this means good running experiences are changing my attitude about running. In a very short time, my view of running has greatly improved. Rather than dragging myself out the door because I know I should, I now look forward to every run.

It was cooler this morning (75°) than yesterday, but the humidity was ferocious. I wondered how I’d do under those conditions. Things started out well, although I did feel a little taxed as I made it to the end of first rise. I quickly bounced back and had no further trouble, even on bigger hills. I was going to follow one of my usual routes, but then I remembered that the sidewalks along South Oyster Bay Road had just reopened. Or I thought they did.

I’ve complained for years that the sidewalks along SOB were a disgrace. The concrete was in such disrepair that it was even hazardous to walk over its broken slabs. Running on it was downright dangerous. I made my way over to SOB Road at my first opportunity and saw newly paved concrete and brick stretching as far as the eye could see. I also saw a sign showing the sidewalk was still closed to the public. I decided it didn’t apply to me.

It was nice having another route option and I followed the sidewalk all the way to the library where it was again blocked off. I would have kept going but there was a police officer standing on the corner of the fire station driveway. Instead, I cut through the library lot to the service road and ducked back into the neighborhood from there. The thought of finishing never crossed my mind and I headed north to pick up another mile before heading home.

In terms of performance, today was a little better than I’d been averaging a month ago, but not especially fast. I know I can run faster, but right now I’m just enjoying, rather than dreading my workouts. I don’t want to push too hard or heighten expectations too quickly. My goal now is to be able to do a Runsketeers run and stay with my buddies the entire time. SIOR injured her knee and KWL is in Asia, but when the recoveries and travel are over, I look forward to seeing them and TPP who is spending a LOT of time riding with her bike group.

Running in circles while my friends ran at Bethpage

I forgot to mention the invisible airplane on the track

Today’s run (track): 4.1 miles

Due to a science fair scheduling conflict, I needed to run extra early this morning. That was fine, as I’m trying to go back to early day running. The downside was that I missed SIORs run-palooza at Bethpage this morning. This was another Life Time Run Club adventure and today’s group included both TPP and KWL. Long before they all went out, I was at the Syosset HS track getting in 16 laps. The Runsketeers had a great time and I’m very jealous.

I always hope that the track will be empty when I arrive, but there’s usually someone there before me. That was case today. It was mostly walkers, but there were a couple of guys running intervals and one person run/walking wearing a pair of big studio headphones. I tuned everyone out for the most part rather than construct back stories of every person on the track like I usually do. I just wanted to get through the workout and stay on schedule.

I’m going to need to go out early again tomorrow. I’d like to do at least five miles so I’ll probably run somewhere outside my neighborhood. I can’t go too far or too long, because I need to be ready for yet another science fair. But no such problems next weekend. After Monday, science fair season will be over.

The Runsketeers talk a lot about a supermarket

KWL, TPP, Stewy, ER

Today’s runs (Bethpage and neighborhood): 4.6 miles total
Yesterday’s run (street): 3.4 miles

I was not feeling too well on Friday morning and elected to postpone my run until after business hours. I had a busy day, but felt even worse by the end. I considered doing a workout at that point, but decided there would be no fitness benefit. I took sinus medicine before bedtime which caused much restless sleep. By morning, the pounding sinus headache was gone and I was excited to get outside for a run.

We’ve had a lot of snow and ice since late January and I hadn’t run outdoors in over a month. I’ve made my peace with the treadmill but being on the road on Saturday was a welcome joy. Still not feeling 100%, I managed to get around the neighborhood without much problem. Unfortunately, I was not fully recovered and conked out by early evening. That was probably related to the rigorous hike my son and I did in Cold Spring Harbor later in the day.

Long climb to the top at Cold Spring Harbor

This morning I met my Runsketeer buddies for the first time since the New Year’s Hangover run. Between schedules and weather it has been tough to find a weekend to get together. SIOR and KWL were looking to run about 10 miles and TPP and I were looking to do less, so we met them in the Bethpage lot after they’d covered five.

We decided to head north and things got off to a rocky start with a discussion about running pants that I still don’t understand. That was the first of many discussions we had today that didn’t make a lot of sense. TPP and KWL took the lead and SIOR and I ran and chatted until she stopped to walk because my pace was so slow it hurt her knees. We walked almost a mile where we caught up with the other two and ran together back to the lot.

I felt badly that my inability to run my friend’s preferred paces interfered with their objectives for today’s workout. But they never complain about that and supported the fact that I wasn’t feeling great today. I had expected to run at least three miles today but, with the walk, I fell short of that. But I got to have a great conversation SIOR without my usual huffing and puffing.

I’m sure SIOR did this by accident

We decided to switch venues and went to a different Starbucks today. After coffee was ordered, we began the first of many interesting conversations. SIOR, TPP and I talked about strategies to restore my speed to previous levels before we got into some serious discussions. We began with the extremely complex subject of supermarkets. Actually a supermarket called Stew Leonards that recently opened in the area.

I am not kidding when I say that it took over a half an hour to successfully explain the following:

1. Stew Leonards is a supermarket.
2. There is also a Stew Leonards wine store.
3. They are not the same thing.

Once that bit of highly intellectual discourse was completed, we moved onto less challenging subject matter: whiskey appreciation and rock climbing walls. As usual, the time went by too quickly and we needed to start the non-running portion of our days.

Probably due to these energizing discussions, I decided to go for a couple more miles when I got home. Although I ran pretty slowly with my buddies, I did a little better on my second run, I’m sure that being warmed up with my earlier effort helped that.

Back to the work week tomorrow. I’m hoping to do at least four workouts this week and dedicate one of them to speed. SIOR made a point that adding distance is a good way of increasing performance. I should probably work on that. I reached my top performance when I was running six days a week and my speed has declined commensurate to the drop in run frequency. I don’t have an easy way to get back to that schedule. But the point is, this is not easy.

Musically mindless on the treadmill

Rock on, but watch your back

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

Happy President’s Day. While my Runsketeer buddies were doing 8-12 mile runs out in the freezing cold this weekend, I took the path of least resistance. That would be the treadmill, and it’s probably more disinterest than resistance. I’ve bashed the treadmill enough this weekend, so no more complaining until next week.

I’ve determined that watching scripted TV shows doesn’t work for me when I run indoors. I have a lot of trouble concentrating on the dialog and plot. I do better with news but they run the same stories over and over. That repetition eventually becomes tedious and the commercial breaks are frequent and long. However, I think I’ve found my solution: music.

Instead of watching the news yesterday, I switched to one of the cable music channels. I listened to 70’s music which didn’t require any concentration. Perfect. I occasionally switched to a different station when a slow ballad came on, because faster tempo songs better matched my stride rate. I did the same this morning and had to admit that listening to music made the time go by much faster.

I used to listen to music when I ran outdoors, but I stopped due to safety concerns. I also used to listen to Pandora, but the Sole treadmill would pass along big shocks through my headphones. Our FreeMotion machine is far better behaved and I can probably go back to doing that without fear of electrocution. Plus the treadmill has big speakers that would negate the need for headphones.

In the case of my source of music I’ll probably end up following the path of least resistance once again and stick with the cable music station. It’s easy and there’s no commercials, unless you count the ads for geriatric home care and other products targeted to the 70’s channel demographic.

2016 Hangover with the Runsketeers

Mini photo bomber, SIOR, TPP, ER

Today’s run (Hangover Fun Run): 4 miles

2016 has arrived and the Runsketeers rang in the New Year this morning with the LIRRC Hangover Run at Eisenhower Park. After so many days of unseasonably temperate weather, the cold returned for real. I arrived a little after 9:00 AM and met up with TPP. She and I walked over to the staging area where we signed the waiver doc and tucked into a corner to avoid the the chilly winds. SIOR texted that she was delayed and would join us after the start.

The Hangover Run is a perfect running event for me, because it has elements of a race like a formal start and timing clock, but no individual tracking of runners. Running distance is at the discretion of each participant although most people run five 1-mile laps. I normally do that as well, but I wasn’t feeling great this morning and elected to run only four.

There’s a lot of construction work going on at Eisenhower Park and today’s route differed a little from the previous four times I’d done the Hangover. The old route was basically a half circle. This year it looked more like a giant comma. I actually like the new course better,  even though you still end up looking at the same scenery, mile after mile.

Comma course

TPP and I took off, she was the hare and I was the turtle. The course allows you to see runners coming back in the opposite direction and I was able to monitor her progress. TPP seemed to be running half a lap ahead of me but she covered five miles in almost the same time as it took me to complete four. I watched for SIOR and I think I saw her once along the way. She did a lap after TPP and I had finished and we took pictures and videos of her as she came around at the end.

SIOR showing her signature maturity

Once done, we made our way to the lot. SIOR started a conversation with a random runner who was walking ahead of us. She complimented his running tights and told him some websites that have good running gear bargains. The guy said to TPP and SIOR that they probably shop on-line a lot. I thought that was a sexist thing to say. I stood up for them and told him that SIOR prefers stores because you can’t shoplift on a website. He left quickly after that.

As tradition dictates, we headed to Starbucks. Our timing was perfect because a motorcycle gang was just leaving when we arrived. We practically had the place to ourselves until some guy SIOR knows showed up and sat at the end of our table. To her credit, she didn’t talk to him about his pants.

The Runsketeers exchanged holiday gifts. SIOR gave me a runner’s headlamp and TPP gave me a framed picture of the Runsketeers that also included KWL and NIMC. Knowing them as I do, I gave them red wine and homemade chocolate truffles. As usual, we talked about everything and I was shocked when I looked at my watch and saw it was almost noon.

We said our goodbyes and talked about our next run which we hope will happen in January. Once again, the year started out great, with a bracing run and the company of good friends. Happy New Year to all.

A run in the brume

Can you see the oncoming bus?

Today’s run (street): 3.2 miles

As the song goes, it’s the most wonderful time of the year. In terms of working, it really is. I worked from home both yesterday and today and my office will be shut down on Thursday and Friday, I’m also taking next week off. All that time translates into more time for running. This week got off to a good start with an elliptical session yesterday and a nice run this morning.

I knew we’d get rain today and it looked pretty gloomy at “sunrise.” I planned to do something but I figured I’d be doing it inside. At around 7:00 AM, I verified no rain was coming down. I dressed for the 49° temperature and headed outside. As the garage door rose, I saw that my neighborhood was enveloped in thick fog. Fortunately I’d worn high visibility gear.

Running in the fog was an ethereal experience. Like freshly fallen snow, it made everything look a greeting card photo. I appreciated the visual effect, but I needed to be careful because visibility was measured in feet today. If I couldn’t see school buses, they couldn’t see me. The roads were reasonably clear, but I did need to detour over to the sidewalk a couple of times.

A year ago, I was doing my Christmas week run in much colder weather. It’s supposed to hit 71° on Friday. Me and the Runsketeers will be carrying on our New Year’s day Hangover Run tradition on January 1st. It’s really fun to hang with my buddies before the start, but we’re usually shivering up until the horn goes off. I won’t complain if this weather hangs around until then.