A rare Friday double

View from the high ground

Today’s run (street): 3.75

I can’t believe it’s already Friday. Yesterday was taken up by business tasks and the only workout I got was a short, easy elliptical session. That was actually fine, because I’d covered over 11 miles on Wednesday and I needed to give my legs some rest time. I wanted to get back on track today, so I went out fairly early for a neighborhood run. It was cool and sunny at 7:30 AM, with a breeze that made it feel colder at times. I felt great from the start, and adopted a pace that was neither slow nor aggressive.

Hurricane Sandy did a lot of damage to my neighborhood and uprooted many trees that stood for decades in front of homes. Over the last few weeks, the town has rebuilt a number of sidewalks that were torn up by these falling trees. The sidewalks in my neighborhood were already in rough shape due to years of wear. I’ve always avoided running on the sidewalk because I feared I’d trip on one of the many uneven surfaces. Now that the sidewalks have been repaired, I’m using them more often. I feel much safer when I’m out running, especially during the time when the school buses are on the road.

Do the  twist

My son did not have classes today, so he, my wife, and I went over to TrailView State Park for a hike. My wife had heard all about our previous adventures and my son was happy to play guide. We took the hiking path north and came back on the longer bike trail. The weather and tree cover kept us cool and comfortable and we covered a couple of miles. There’s always something new to see in the woods, like a tree whose branches wrapped it like a rope (left).

 It was great to, once again, get two workouts in on the same day. I highly recommend a mid-afternoon hike to break up the work day.

Running in Sandy’s spooky aftermath

The shadowy world of a 4 AM runner

Today’s run (street): 2.5 miles

Hurricane Sandy is more than two weeks gone but the after effects will remain for a while. People have been saying that it’s just too soon for Thanksgiving to be happening. One of my favorite times of the year is the period between mid-October and early December. That’s when the leaves turn, the air smells like fall, and Halloween and Thanksgiving kick off the holiday season. Hurricane Sandy interrupted that whole experience. On the other hand, having our power restored and not sitting in gas lines will be top of mind when we give thanks next Thursday.

As I made my way to the top of the first street on my morning run, my headlamp revealed what looked like two cords of wood stacked on the curb in front of a neighbor’s house. If I had a wood-burning stove or used our fireplace, this would be a good time to save money on firewood. Running through the neighborhood is a little eerie these days, especially on mornings like this when there’s little moonlight. My headlamp and the occasional streetlights played off the huge trees, downed by the storm. In the dark at 4:00 AM, it looks like a scene from “Where the Wild Things Are.”

In the days between Sandy and today, we’ve seen temperatures drop, especially in the early morning. I dressed accordingly and appreciated the extra layers as I made my way around the neighborhood. The cold air definitely helps motivate me to run a little harder and I found myself pacing faster than the day before. The spooky shapes created by the storm were a fun distraction and my run seemed to go by quickly, even though I only beat Wednesday’s time by 32 seconds. Sandy overshadowed Halloween this year, but I got it back a little today.

The Emerging Runner risk mitigation policy

What’s wrong with is picture (see rule #1)?

Running after Hurricane Sandy (though I think we’re supposed to call it a “post-tropical cyclone” now) has become a little more complicated and dangerous. I do everything I can to avoid risk when I’m out on the roads, but two weeks after Sandy hit, my local streets are still covered with debris. In addition, some roads still have hanging or fallen wires, along with electrical cords running across the street from neighbors sharing generator power.

I got a comment from Running On Candy who expressed concern about the dangers of the road under these conditions. I was horrified to read that she had some close calls with cars due to limited room on the roads that she runs. I’m a low risk runner and, even under the best conditions, I’ll never cross a busy road on a run unless traffic is sparse. I’ll only run on a main road if there’s a sidewalk and most of my runs happen within my neighborhood or at parks and preserves like Stillwell and Bethpage.

I occasionally see a hostile dynamic with drivers who don’t like the idea of sharing the road with runners. Ask any runner and they’ll tell you the same. I also don’t trust that drivers are paying attention or consider stop signs anything more than a suggestion. For what it’s worth, this is the The Emerging Runner’s risk mitigation policy:

  1. Always run on the left side of the road (facing traffic).
  2. Assume that every driver is distracted, drunk, high, texting, on the phone or incompetent.
  3. Do not run on main roads that don’t have a sidewalk.
  4. Keep in single file formation when running with others on the street.
  5. Wear bright, colorful, reflective clothing no matter what time of day you run.
  6. Wear a reflective vest when it’s dark, at dawn and at dusk.
  7. Wear a headlamp or some type of light when running in dark (too be seen as much as to see).
  8. Avoid crossing four-lane roads, even those that have traffic lights.
  9. Don’t listen to music at a level that will drown out the sound of approaching cars.
  10. Always have an exit strategy for cars (run up on the lawn, prepare to dive into a snowbank).

It’s also a good idea to bring a phone and carry ID of some kind for emergencies. Accidents can be avoided as long as runners consider their safety as importantly as the do their workout.

DIY 10K as November’s race schedule shrinks

Today’s run (street): 6.25 miles

Hot to Trot

For the past two years, November has been a big month for racing. Starting mid-month, I’ve run the Hope for the Warriors 10K and then the Long Beach 10K Turkey Trot the next weekend. A few days after that, I’ve run the Nissequogue River Turkey Trot (5K) that’s held on Thanksgiving day. This race is really a fun run for me. I run it at my daughter’s pace, while my wife run/walks the course with my son.

This year, things are very different. Hope for Warriors was moved back to October for reasons that I don’t quite understand. It usually coincides with Veteran’s Day but not this year. I was unable to make the new date this year because of a conflict in my schedule. That’s unfortunate because I really like that race.

Long Beach, New York, took a beating during Hurricane Sandy. The boardwalk and the beaches were destroyed and the storm left thousands of people homeless. It’s a tragic situation and the race has (of course) been cancelled.

So this leaves the Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving day and I’m happy to be running with my family. My kids are excited about it and even bought turkey hats to wear when they run. The Nissequogue course runs through the old former Kings Park Psychiatric Hospital that is being torn down. I’m curious to see if they’ll change the route this year.

Since I wasn’t able to run the Hope for Warriors 10K race today, I decided to do a symbolic run of the same distance. I first planned to run at Bethpage, but I saw on the website that the park is closed until further notice. I imagine that Sandy brought widespread destruction to the trees, paths and golf courses. I was left with little choice but to run locally and  set off in my neighborhood to complete my run.

I didn’t run very well yesterday, but I managed to stay within my normal pace range. I felt much stronger today, but the numbers showed that my average pace was 15 seconds slower than yesterday’s outing. The reason for that isn’t obvious. While I wished I’d run faster, I was pleased to have covered my intended distance feeling great throughout my run.

I spent the first half of my run on the familiar roads of my main neighborhood before heading south to neighborhood #2 where I surveyed the damage from the storm. The LIPA trucks were scattered about, attempting to get the last 7% of homes back on the grid. I feel great sympathy for Sandy’s victims, including those who remain without power two weeks after the storm. I’m hoping they’ll get it back soon. Personally, I’m still  excited when I walk into a room, flip on a switch and see something besides the dark.

Treadmill beggars can’t be choosers

Slipping and squealing but soft underfoot

Today’s run: (treadmill): 2.6 miles

When LIPA announced that it could take seven to ten days to restore power after Sandy came through, I thought they were setting up expectations so they could exceed them. After the criticism LIPA took about its response to Hurricane Irene last year, I wondered if their projections were exaggerated so they’d look good when they beat them. I’m obviously naive.

We are still without power eight days after losing it. I’m used to keeping our cars in the garage but we are parking outdoors while we stay with our hosts. That meant five minutes of scraping ice off the windshield this morning in 27° weather. Earlier this morning, the steam from my shower set off the smoke detector, waking everyone up at 5:30 AM. We miss our house.

I used my mother-in-law’s treadmill this morning because I wasn’t comfortable running in their neighborhood at 4:00 AM. The neighborhood itself is safe, but I didn’t want their security people to be alarmed by a crazy person with a headlamp running around this community. The treadmill is a Nordic Track and the tread platform has a little give compared to our Sole’s. The Nordic Track machine was in need of maintenance, judging from the occasional squealing and slipping of the belt. The slipping did decrease after a few minutes.

I discovered that the machine would not go any lower than a 1% incline, but in the spirit of making lemonade from lemons, I took it as a challenge on top of just pushing my speed. I ran faster on this treadmill than I usually run on our home unit, but you can’t compare machines that may be calibrated differently. With any luck, our power will come back tomorrow and I can return to the road. That is, if the coming storm doesn’t force me indoors, once again.

Still no power, but the running hasn’t stopped

Gas lines: the downside of using generators

Today’s run (street): 5.4 miles

It’s day three in our temporary home and our quality of life between today and last Friday morning is measurable. We stopped back at the house to get some needed items and though we hoped to find the power restored, our house was still dark and cold. We are probably (at least) three days away from getting our power back. That’s created some strain on the gasoline supply and we saw long lines of people queuing up to fill portable gas containers (above).

I’m concerned about having a much longer commute to work tomorrow. At least I’ll have a hot shower to start me off. I certainly appreciated having hot showers after the three runs I have done since we’ve relocated to “The Greens.” This morning I went out with a plan to cover about five miles. Just for fun, I decided to run yesterday’s route in the opposite direction.

The temperature was in the mid-30’s when I started out, but my City Sports running pants and two layers on top kept me comfortable throughout my run. I felt strong from the start and maintained that energy as I made my way through the neighborhood. The hills were in different locations today, but the net elevation was the same. When I returned to the house, my mother-in-law presented me with a couple of slices of challah french toast, fresh off the griddle.

The work week starts tomorrow and I hope that the trains are running on time. I’ll probably do some treadmill runs over the next few days. With any luck, we’ll be back in our house before the end of the week.

Hurricane damage assessment run

Yesterday’s run (street): 3.5 miles

Hurricane Sandy has left most of Long Island a mess. Our neighborhood sustained a lot of damage.Yesterday, I went out for a run for the first time since Sunday and saw the damage up close. A number of roads are blocked by safety tape due to fallen trees or power lines. We, like hundreds of other families in the neighborhood, still have no power and it’s not likely that we’ll get it back until next week.

My run was interesting because of what I saw, but the run itself, in terms of performance, was not very good.  Without the ability to charge my Garmin, I used my old FR60 as a stopwatch and timed my run which I was able to Gmap at 3.5 miles. I’m hoping to get out for a run today but I’m working remotely and today is (unsurprisingly) busy.

We’re planning to stay with my in-laws tomorrow so we’ll get to enjoy hot showers, access the Internet and not worry about draining cellphone batteries. This is very much like what we experienced last year with Irene. That took far longer to resolve than we ever expected. Hopefully, LIPA will surprise us and restore our power before we overstay our welcome.

Running, storm prep and 5,000 pumpkins

Today’s run (street): 5.25 miles

We’re counting down the hours until the hurricane hits. Fortunately we’ve had a few days to plan and prepare. The kid’s schools are both closed on Monday and it looks like the LIRR will stop running after 7:00 tonight. Looks like I may be working from home. If there’s any upside, it’s that the timing of Sandy allowed me to get in a couple of nice runs this weekend.

My original plan was to run at Stillwell Woods this morning. I got as far as preparing my bag that holds water and recovery snacks for when I run in places outside of my neighborhood. Before I left, my wife and I brought in the pots of flowers and the pumpkins that sit outside our house. With predictions of 70 MPH winds (and higher), we wanted to eliminate any loose items from around our yard.

By the time we finished storm proofing, I’d decided to stay local and do another neighborhood run. Rather than duplicate yesterday’s route, I starting picking streets at random and just let the run flow. I ended up running west along Jericho Turnpike and then took a turn onto South Oyster Bay Road. I followed the road south until I could tuck into neighborhood #2 that sits directly to the south of my neighborhood.

I continued around neighborhood #2 on my way to covering five and a quarter miles, just as I did on Saturday. The temperature felt far colder than the 56° that was reported on the news. I’d planned to run a little slower than yesterday (and I did), but I was still surprised to see my pace come in ten seconds per mile faster than how it felt. Even after missing my workout on Friday, I still managed to come close to my weekly goal of 20 miles.

One of the many groups on display

Last night we went over to Old Westbury Gardens to see the Rise of the Jack O’Lanterns. It’s an event where over 5,000 carved pumpkins are illuminated with color and arranged along the paths within the garden grounds. We were in the 9:00 PM group and even under a full moon the effect was amazing. The above picture does not do justice to the experience, but it’s the best I could do with my smartphone. This would be a great place to run, though I don’t think they allow people to do that.

Getting in a run before Sandy shows up

Ready or not, here it comes

Today’s run (street): 5.2 miles

Long Island is abuzz with talk about hurricane Sandy that is due to hit us some time between Sunday night and Monday. The power companies seem to be expecting the worse, and there’s only so much we can do to prepare. I’m expecting to face some commuting issues on Monday, though my company has told employees they should stay home if conditions warrant it.

After hurricane Irene in 2011, I fully expect that we’ll lose power to our home. Last year our electricity was cut off for almost a week. LIPA is saying that 7 day outages are expected. I hope they learned something from the Irene debacle. My level of confidence is low.

This morning I went for a run in the neighborhood and appreciated having at least one weekend day without torrential rains and gale force winds. I didn’t run yesterday and hoped to make up some mileage today. I thought about going to Stillwell but those trails make for hard running that sometimes limits my distance. Conditions for my street run were near perfect, with temperatures in the 50’s and partly cloudy skies.

If the weather holds I’ll be able to get out for some more miles tomorrow morning. I ended up covering today’s route 25 seconds per mile faster than I’d expected. That gave me a boost and it reinforced that my conditioning is in a good place right now. The Long Beach Turkey Trot is still a few weeks away. I’m hoping that hurricane Sandy doesn’t wash out my training this coming week.