Runsketeers weekend, dinner and a Mother’s Day run

Me and the moms (minus SIOR’s chin)

Yesterday’s run (street): 5.7 miles
Today’s run (Bethpage trail): 9.6 miles

This has been a Runsk-terrific weekend. Yesterday, our queen of speed, SIOR, hosted a great dinner for our small group, including grownups and kids ranging in age from 2 to (almost) 16. The food was great, the company was great, and the energy level was high. TPP and I finally got to meet Mr. SIOR, who was a personable and welcoming host, and their fantastic, adorable kids. It turns out that Mr. SIOR and I have some friends in common. What are the chances of that?!

Earlier in the day on Saturday, I went out for 5.7 miles around my neighborhood. My new schedule makes it difficult for me to run during the week, so I needed to cram some mileage into the weekend. The run itself was unremarkable, though I worried that a mid-length run on Saturday might affect my running performance today. There are a number of reasons why I fell short of my planned distance of 12 miles today, and that could have been a factor.

Today’s Mother’s Day long run started in different places for the Runsketeers. TPP and I met along the bike trail north of Haypath Rd with the goal of eventually meeting up with SIOR, who was starting her run at the southern end of the Massapequa Preserve. TPP and I ran north and turned around when we reached the point where I’d calculated that our southern direction would get us to the Bethpage lot in time to rendezvous with SIOR.

For different reasons, the timing had us at Bethpage earlier than expected. Me and TPP waited about 10 minutes before resuming out southern direction with the intention of intercepting SIOR along the trail. We all met up at the bottom of the big hill right before the lot, and ran north, making a brief stop at Bethpage. We all got water from the fountain because, while it was relatively cool, it was extremely humid. The two “rests” along the way may have contributed to a degradation in my ability to maintain pace. In retrospect, I think it was my failure to bring a water bottle that made my last miles very difficult.

We ran further north and I watch SIOR grow steadily smaller as she opened up space between me and TPP. TPP was able maintain a better pace than me and I followed about 30 feet behind her until we met up with SIOR who was waiting for us at Old Country Rd. SIOR suggested taking a picture at that point, which was a good idea since we often forget to do that. It would have been great to get a selfie at dinner last night, but we never got to it. I think that’s because we were having too much fun to think about it.

Shortly after we took our pictures, I reached the point where I needed to stop running. SIOR continued all the way to Sunnyside Boulevard (mind blowing, considering all the miles she’d already covered and the challenging hills north of Washington Ave). TPP ran another mile and met up with me where I’d stopped. After she returned, we started walking back to our cars knowing that SIOR would eventually catch up. That happened about a mile north of where we parked, so the three of us got to have a nice talk without anyone worrying about finding an oxygen tank for me.

I ended up covering 9.6 running miles, plus those walking miles at the end. I wanted to finish my Brooklyn training with 12 miles, but I didn’t quite get there. I think with a resting taper, carrying water and maintaining a consistent pace next Saturday, I’ll be able to get through the distance. There’s no way I’ll PR and there’s a good chance I won’t beat my original half marathon time when I ran with an injured knee. But Brooklyn is about the experience and being with friends. I hope they won’t mind waiting for me at the end.

Runsketeer run in Eisenhower Park

Well at least I can drink coffee as fast as them

Today’s run (Eisenhower Park): 6.7 miles

It took a lot of late night planning to choose today’s running venue, but it paid off for the Runsketeers this morning. With Bethpage’s trails still “out of operation” and the Runner’s Edge Fun Run taking place on public roads, we decided to meet at Eisenhower Park. SIOR qualified for Boston and has been following a training program that required her to cover 14 miles today. She ran 7 miles around her local roads and then met me and TPP at the park to run seven more.

I’ve been dealing with the beginnings of a cold that has sapped a lot of my energy. Yesterday’s run on the treadmill was very difficult and I wasn’t confident that I could run the miles that my Runska-buddies were planning. I was also concerned about maintaining a pace that wouldn’t bore them silly. Their support got me through the distance (I hadn’t run more than five miles on pavement this year). As usual, they were extremely gracious about accommodating my pace.

I don’t know why my stamina and performance have been so poor the last couple of months. I suspect it’s due to my lack of focus and boredom from running on the treadmill. SIOR runs faster on the treadmill to get through her workout faster. I run slower so I can be more easily distracted by the TV. In less snowy times, when I’d run outside every day, it was easier for me to add speed into a run. I would also add chunks of distance by spontaneously choosing different roads to follow. I know I can easily add speed and distance when on the treadmill, but I don’t.

All around the park today

Graphic courtesy of The Petite Pacer

Our route today went all around, due to construction being done to build ice rinks in the park. I lagged behind my buddies by a few feet much of the time, but they worked to adjust their speed to keep me within talking distance. There was one point when we followed the same route that we ran on the New Year’s Hangover Run. This allowed me to rest a minute while my friends followed the end of the loop and met me on the other side. So in terms of total distance, I probably ended up covering fifth of a mile less than my running partners.

With the exception of a few parts on the path that required careful stepping (and a short walk) over icy snow, Eisenhower’s trails were fairly clear. I didn’t think I would be able to go more than four miles early on the run, but the fun of being with my little group made the distance fully manageable.

Despite another snowstorm predicted early tomorrow morning and the return to Polar Vortex temperatures, I am hopeful that this snow will soon be gone and I can get outside and resume performance-focused training. I’d like to be able to keep up better with the Runsketeers so I participate more in the conversations during the run.

The good news is that it takes no effort to sit in Starbucks and recount the experience after the run. We were all time constrained today, but we made the best of it. It was so great to see my friends and spend time doing something we all love to do. I almost ran seven miles today after weeks of treadmill 5K’s. I couldn’t have done that without the Runsketeers.

Call me mister social

All for one, one for all, gluten-free! 

Today’s run (treadmill): 3.25 miles

Groucho Marx once said, “I refuse to join any club that would have me as a member.” Perhaps that’s been my policy as well, because I haven’t been a member of any social group since Economics Club in college. After five years of talking about running clubs, I finally took the plunge this week and joined the Greater Long Island Running Club (also known as GLIRC).

My running buddies and race teammates SIOR and TPP are far more social than me and both are GLIRC members. They get a lot of value out of the club and have encouraged me to sign up. Every interaction I’ve had with GLIRC members has been positive and the Clubhouse Run that they held in mid-December (open to non-members) was great. I finally ran out of excuses and joined. I’m already benefiting from my new membership by getting a reduced entry fee in an upcoming race.

Our relay team, the Runsketeers, will be competing in the Runner’s Edge 2×3 trail relay, held at Bethpage State Park on February 15th. I am the most experienced trail runner, but by far the slowest. TPP is quick and nimble and did really well in the Rob’s Run Cross Country race back in December. SIOR is seriously fast and can probably do her entire leg as a sprint. I plan to put it all out there that day. It’s Bethpage and it’s trails, so what’s not to love?

Membership has its privileges (and issues)

Last week I received a mailing from my old company, inviting me to join their alumni association. This offer was packaged like a wedding invitation, with a tasteful note along with the requisite response card. The value proposition was tempting, but I chose to decline, just as I have each time I’ve received solicitations from my high school and college alumni groups.

I mention this because I’ve recently thought about joining GLIRC, the local running club in Long Island that boasts a membership in the thousands. I usually enjoy running with other people, but I also find solo runs very fulfilling. But just like alumni groups, I can never bring myself to sign up.

I first wrote about joining a running club four years ago. At that time (and ever since) I’ve dismissed the idea. I wrote that, while I liked to run with others, it was, “mostly because [they’ve been] discreet events: assemble, run, depart. No barbecues, fund raisers, meetings, bylaws or committees. I’m not saying these things aren’t great, they’re just not for me.”

It may be worth re-thinking running clubs now that I have a little more discretionary time. Perhaps there’s an option to just do meetup runs, with no further obligation to participate in club activities. In that case, I might be tempted. Especially if they send me a nicely worded invitation in the mail.

Friends don’t let friends push the pace

Today’s run (treadmill): 25 minutes

“Easy” is relative

Yesterday I ran into a colleague whom I hadn’t seen in a while. She told me she was running again after taking a long break. About a year ago she’d gone from walker to runner and, by April, she was running about 15 miles a week. We last touched base in early summer when she planned to run in her first 5K. My friend said that, since that time, her discipline had really slipped. By September, she’d stopped running altogether. The New Year prompted her to restart her running routine, beginning with a three mile run on New Year’s Day.

I asked her why she had stopped after making so much progress and she told me she had felt too much pressure to run fast. Part of her interest in running came from the social interaction with her friends who also ran. Their easy pace required her to run a lot harder. She struggled to keep up and couldn’t really participate in their conversations. She ran her 5K and decided that running was no longer enjoyable, so she went back to walking for fitness.

This experience did not surprise me. My early-’90’s attempt to become a runner was thwarted by similar conditions. My only running partner at the time had run track and cross country in school and I found it difficult to keep up with her when we ran. I figured that was what running was all about – you push yourself hard and eventually you’ll like it. Or you’ll quit.

After many years, I returned to running on my own terms and set realistic performance expectations. I was amazed to see that running can actually be fun if you find a pace that works for you. My friend says she learned her lesson and will not sacrifice her running experience for the sake of social inclusion. I told her that this doesn’t mean she has to give up running with friends. If she suggests it, I’m sure they will be happy to run with her at a relaxed pace that works for everyone.

The Emerging Running Club

I’m planning to run in Central Park this afternoon with Steve, my banker friend. There’s something nice about ending the work week with a NYC run, especially on a cool fall day. Steve and I haven’t run together in a while so it will be good to catch up. I’ve been running more with friends these days and I really like the experience. It’s the variables that make it interesting. Last year I ran primarily with Adventure Girl and that set the bar high. We covered a lot of territory around NYC and ran with performance in mind. It was always a fun challenge keeping her pace.

When I run with my friend CK in the city I know it will be a workout that pushes me well past my comfort zone. Yet I still enjoy the experience. My runs with BJS and Dave are not “all out” although we do run hard. It’s a great balance between work and social and I learn a lot from both of them. My weekly runs with JQ are a treat. He’s a fascinating guy, the kind of person you’d pay to listen to. Our runs are relaxed and it’s as much about the conversation as it is about the activity. I’ve had some great runs recently with KWL who took up the sport when I co-organized a Fun Run last summer. He’s primarily a cyclist but he’s surpassed me in terms of speed. I had enjoyed an advantage on longer distances but he recently ran a 10K race on a Saturday and a Century (100 Mile) bike ride the next day. We usually run 8:30-8:40 miles but they don’t seem that hard. In most cases, running with a friend makes time go by faster. Hard runs just seem easier. It’s all about the company.