Runsketeers have the run of a "Lifetime"

SIOR asked me to substitute her face with the first lady’s 

Today’s run (Bethpage State Park Bike Trail): 5.1 miles

After Friday and Saturday’s mild weather, today’s 32° (with wind chill) felt darn cold this morning. I met SIOR and KWL at the lot in Bethpage State Park where SIOR was scheduled to lead a run for Lifetime Fitness. Unfortunately, our stalwart pal TPP was not able to join us today. She does very long bike trips with her cycling friends (I suggest she nickname them the Bikesketeers) and needed some recovery time.

KWL and I hung out in my car while we waited for SIOR to arrive. There was a guy dressed for running who was waiting in the lot, but we couldn’t tell if he was there for the group run. Once SIOR finally showed up, I tried to subtly convey that we were the Lifetime group by saying Lifetime really loud a couple of times. The guy didn’t respond and I’m guessing he looked at us and decided he’d be better off running alone, which he did. That turned out okay because I’d brought fresh pumpkin loaves for my Runska-buddies (baked by Mrs ER and ER daughter) and it would have been embarrassing not to give him one.

With that settled, we decided to run six miles. When I say “we”, I mean SIOR. I wasn’t sure I’d be up to doing six today and as it turned out, I was right. The plan was that KWL and SIOR would go three miles, turn back and intercept me as I progressed to the turnaround point.

The first obstruction to the plan came about a mile and a quarter after we’d started, when SIOR and KWL saw a sign that the bike trail was closed. We decided that meant closed to everyone but the Runsketeers so we kept going. That meant occasionally squeezing through barriers that reinforced that the trail was closed. We weren’t the only ones who ignored the sign’s suggestions.

I saw a few other runners and a father and his pre-adolescent son riding bikes. The bike riders ignored the fact that cars come quickly off the roundabout west of Quaker Meeting House Road and I almost witnessed a terrible accident. Thankfully the SUV’s driver was paying attention and stopped in time to let these oblivious riders cross. I yelled at the father who didn’t stick around to debate me.

Felt like freezing

I decided to run five miles rather than six, and turned around after I’d reached the  2.5 mile mark. I wondered how long it would be until I heard the footsteps of my run mates coming up behind me. I was surprised when I reached the final mega-hill without being overtaken. I made it back to my car and waited for my friends to come in.

It turned out that SIOR had experienced a problem with her toes and needed to walk that off before resuming her run. Soon enough, I saw KWL coming down the final hill into the lot, followed a minute or so later by SIOR. We immediately headed to our post-run coffee spot.

There were no free tables at Starbucks, but SIOR managed to intimidate a couple into leaving. I didn’t complain. KWL, SIOR and I covered a lot of topics including fasting and nutrition, Orthodox practices on the Sabbath and how we will survive despite the awful thing that happened on November 8. We spent time talking about guns and the dumb things that happen when people use them (let me be clear – we are not gun supporters). Without TPP, the technology talk was minimal and we missed her. I’m really hoping the gang can get in another run in December

I ended up having a busy afternoon spending more time than advisable in the windy freezing weather. It’s not getting any more pleasant outside so I’m going to stay in for the rest of the day. A slice of pumpkin bread and a cup of dark roast sound like a good way to round out the day.

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.

SIOR and ER take on Stillwell Woods

Post run selfie at the trail head

Today’s run (Stillwell Woods): 4 miles
Yesterday’s run (street): 3.2 miles

It’s been a long fun day that started with an excellent run on the trails at Stillwell Woods with running buddy SIOR. This was one of Life Time Athletic’s bi-weekly meet-ups, and we waited at the trail head for others to show. Unfortunately, people seem to have trouble getting up and out on a Saturday morning. After giving it a reasonable amount of time, we decided to head into the woods on our own.

SIOR had never run at Stillwell, so it was up to me to play guide. That’s easier to do as a leader, rather than a follower, but we worked it out. I warned her about the mountain bikers who go full tilt and come up fast from behind and pointed out certain sections of trail that harbored hard to see roots. For someone who runs primarily on pavement, SIOR proved quick and nimble on the trails.

Action selfie courtesy of SIOR

We followed my usual loop that’s less technical than other sections at Stillwell. This two mile route is mostly packed dirt, but it does have a few challenging features. We moved along from trail to trail and SIOR would wait for me to catch up at crossroad points. We had different interpretations of what constitutes left, right or straight when I called out directions.

After we completed our initial loop, we took a different route on a southern trail that brought us up to a steep, scree covered hill. SIOR scaled it as if flat and I scaled as if walking. I had a tough time with the humidity and pollen and took a few short breaks when I caught up with SIOR each time she waited for me. Despite our different running speeds. we managed well and I throughly enjoyed the run.

I think SIOR really liked the change of pace of trail running and I was very happy to be able to show her Stillwell’s charms. We decided we’ll do the next Runsketeer event there and (possibly) cover some of its more challenging sections.

The rest of the day was focused on my daughter’s high school graduation party with her friends, along with an end-of-school year festival at the high school. This morning’s run was a great start to a long and fun day. I really recommend that people take advantage of these Life Time runs. There aren’t many opportunities to run with a certified running trainer, and it’s free!

Neighborhood run around

Old neighborhood, new directions

Today’s run (street): 4.75 miles
Yesterday’s run (street): 3.25 miles
Sunday’s run (Bethpage): 5.1 miles

Another busy work week resulted in a zero workouts between Monday and Thursday. Last Sunday I went to Bethpage and ran along  the northern end of the bike trail from Haypath to Washington Ave and back. I worked from home yesterday and got in a surprisingly brisk run around my neighborhood. This morning I planned to meet SIOR at Massepequa Preserve for a group run, but I had an unexpected issue that delayed me from getting out early enough.

Everything worked out and I considered a number of places to run (the track, Stillwell, business park…) but ended up sticking close to home. My one  concession to routine was to run without a planned route. I picked a direction and chose lefts and rights at random. After seeing the route map on Garmin Connect, I realized that it looked pretty much like my usual pattern. What was different was the order and direction that made it seem like a different experience.

Only so many ways to cover these streets

Two years ago this weekend, me and my buddies ran the Brooklyn Half. There’s no way I’d be ready to do that today. I want to start working on my base and hope to get in five or more miles tomorrow. According to the latest prediction, the weather should start to clear around 8 AM.  I may bite the bullet and go out earlier even if the rain is still coming down. Maybe I’ll run at the track. If the rain gets too bad, I’ll never be more than 200 meters from my car.

Heroism by the book

A worthy sequel

Today’s run (street): 3.2 miles
Thursday’s workout (elliptical): 30 minutes

I’m reading an interesting book by Chris McDougall called Natural Born Heros (NBHs). McDougall wrote Born to Run, which launched the minimalist running movement. That craze has since given way to maximalist, pontoon-like trainers from Hoka and other shoe companies, but I still love my Kinvaras. Natural Born Heros is about athleticism and self defense that is developed through practical need rather than controlled competition.

The through-line story in NBHs is about how Churchill’s special agents worked with Cretan shepherds and farmers to significantly disrupt Hitler’s progress toward Russia during WWII. Like Born to Run, McDougall writes a lot of about physiology, especially the role the fascia plays in energy efficiency and power. I’m only halfway through the book but I understand running technique is discussed further in the story.

This was a particularly busy work week for me, so much so that I ended up going into the office every day. I count on my work-from-home Fridays for one of my weekly runs. Knowing that wasn’t going to happen, I did an elliptical workout the night before. This morning I needed to get back to the road, but that didn’t go too well. I can’t explain it, but I couldn’t really get going this morning. I tried to appreciate the pleasant weather and the fact that I wasn’t stuck on the treadmill. All the same, I was glad when the run was over.

If I’m up to it, I may head to Bethpage tomorrow and would like to cover at least five miles. My running buddy SIOR is up in Kennebunk for the 2016 Shipyard Maine Coast Marathon. She’s running it with a friend who’s doing his first marathon. I’m wishing them both lots of fun and I’m hoping she breaks 3:30!

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.

A great treadmill experience (finally!)

ER and SIOR take the indoor option

Today’s run (Lifetime Fitness treadmill run): 4.5 miles
Yesterday’s run (treadmill): 3.25 miles
Friday’s run (treadmill): 3.2 miles

I continue to battle a tough work schedule that makes it hard for me to fit in a fourth weekly workout. This week was no exception. There’s a lot happening at the office and it’s causing more meetings to push me past my usual departure time. I don’t get home as late as I did when I worked in the city, but post-dinner running doesn’t generally work for me. So it was three runs this week. All three on the treadmill.

I planned to run outside on Friday and put on my new running raincoat due to the misty conditions. As I prepared to go out, the skies opened up and my options switched to the treadmill or the elliptical. Since I didn’t do a mid-week workout, I opted for running.

I hadn’t run since last Sunday and I expected to have a tough time getting going. I was surprised to quickly find my stride and the minutes rolled by faster than my usual treadmill experience. I had limited time and cut it short after 3.2 miles. I played with tempo over the last mile and was able to get down to a decent pace.

Saturday’s weather was equally miserable, so it was back again on the treadmill. I didn’t have the same energy level as I did on Friday, but I pressed on. The minutes ticked by more slowly than on Friday and I didn’t start my progressive paces until I had 3/4 mile left to go. Still, it wasn’t as bad as some recent indoor runs.

This morning’s plan was to meet SIOR at Bethpage where she would lead the Lifetime Fitness group run. Unfortunately, the weather had gone from wet to worse overnight and plans were changed to running on the treadmills at Lifetime. As much as I dislike treadmills, there’s something I like about fitness center models and something I really dislike about running outside in 50 MPH winds.

When I met SIOR at the gym, she’d already completed a few miles. While she alerted the front desk that the workout was happening upstairs, I went to the locker room to take off my non-running layers. SIOR and I headed upstairs and I saw the huge gymnasium that had basketball courts and a rock climbing wall.

We found side-by-side Life Fitness treadmills and started them up. SIOR resumed watching a Netflix documentary about the Barkley marathons while I tried like heck to navigate to a watchable cable station on the monitor. I really didn’t need my screen because there was so much else to look at. The gym is enormous with lots of opportunities for people watching and lots of video screens that provided good distraction.

Treadmills as far as the eye can see

If Friday’s running felt easy, then today’s run felt effortless. Some of that was due to starting slowly. But even as I blipped up my speed every tenth of a mile, the run never felt difficult. I stopped when SIOR finished her planned ten miles and I ended up covering 4.5. SIOR had more training to do and I had to head out for a brunch. Before we said our goodbyes. SIOR showed me more of the gym, including the area with all the weight machines.

I wouldn’t have expected a treadmill workout to be so enjoyable but it was nice to be able to run along with SIOR. I really hope Lifetime gives her more resources to publicize these weekend events because it’s a great way to showcase the gym and attract new members. If our schedules work out next time, it will be fun to have the other Runsketeers on the run.

Run with SIOR for a Life Time of fun

Where the elite meet to run

Today’s run (street): 6 miles

After weeks of  unseasonably warm weather, our luck finally came to an end on the first day of spring. Yesterday’s  conditions were brisk but comfortable, but we woke up to a temperature that felt like 24° today. Although it was the first day of the vernal Equinox, I went to Equinox’s competitor: Life Time Athletic in Syosset. I was there for the Life Time group run led by the one and only SIOR.

I met SIOR in the lobby of the Life Time Athletic building. This is not to be confused with the Time Life building where I spent most of my career. Life Time is huge and opulent and and there were lots of people streaming in at 8:00 AM. As I mentioned, it was freezing outside and apparently everyone preferred to run on treadmills rather than join me and SIOR on the road. They missed out, because group running is fun and it makes long distances seem a lot shorter. At least that was the case for me today.

SIOR and I took off at 8:15 AM and tucked into an adjacent neighborhood that had long, straight and wide roads. SIOR’s phone app wasn’t telling her which roads to follow so we used our sharply honed innate navigation that pretty much kept us on the same two loops. We did branch off onto another loop for our last two miles. We’d both dressed for cold but it was really chilly. I managed to warm up about two thirds through, SIOR not so much.

I loved the run and the opportunity to chat which made six miles feel like I was only running three. I’ll admit that I ran extremely slowly, as I do these days, but my run coach didn’t complain about the slow pace bothering her knees. She did one-step me most of the run and I was really hoping that would produce a faster pace on my part. Nope. Closer to the end, SIOR picked up her pace but she never went so far ahead that she was out of sight.

Today’s route

We’d intended to run five miles but ended up covering six. If other people were brave enough to leave the temperature-controlled fitness club, they would have had their choice of 5, 10 or 15 mile distances. The group run is open to anyone, and you don’t have to be a Life Time member to participate. I really hope more people show up next time because it’s a good workout and you can learn technique from a certified running coach.

After our run, SIOR and I headed over to a Starbucks on Jericho Turnpike, a new location for a Runsketeer après-run coffee break. I am really glad to have covered six miles today. It was fun and I felt good. I probably could have – and should have – pushed a little harder. Warmer spring weather should bring more participants to SIOR’s group runs. I think the weekend group events will be posted on the Syosset Life Time Facebook page with time details. Tell your friends!

Running bargains, get them while they last

Friday run: note the runner on right side of picture

Today’s run (Bethpage bike trail): 5.2 miles
Yesterday (street): 3.2 miles

I got out early on Friday before my day started and covered my minimum distance for a run (5K). When I stepped outside, I noticed the scent of spring in the air. The temperature was 59° with a steady breeze that energized me from the start. It seemed quiet for a Friday, perhaps because I went out early. No recycling trucks or buses, just me, the road and a surprising number of people out walking. I also saw a runner (see picture) who decided that the middle of the road was a smart place to run.

Today’s route

This morning the weather was cooler, high 30’s according to News12, and I dressed for it. I wanted to cover five miles and headed over to the Runsketeer rendezvous point on Haypath Road. My route plan was to start at Haypath and run to Washington Ave. as my turnaround point. I had plenty of company on the bike trail, including some people walking with large dogs. I was careful to leave a lot of room each time that I passed by.

Later in the day we went to the Gallery at Westbury and saw (as I’d predicted), that the SA Elite store was closing. This used to be my favorite place for running clothes and shoes. In the beginning it was a beautiful store with most of its merchandise related to running. I’ve bought a lot of shoes and running clothes there over the last few years.

My bargain jackets

I ended up buying a duplicate of my dog-bitten ASICS rain jacket (discounted to $13!!) and a high reflectivity ASICS jacket for $23. We also got some old-school Onitsuka Tigers for my son for $30, a yoga mat for my daughter and a couple of shirts. The whole thing came to less than $100. There’s still a lot of merchandise, so I recommend a visit soon. They say the store will close when there’s nothing left to sell.

One last  thing – I want to give a big shout-out to Runsketeer SIOR for running a great 15K race on a very hilly course in King’s Park this morning.