Shoveling, shoeing and even some running

ER (left), Mrs & ER Jr (right)

Today’s run (treadmill): 3.1 miles
Yesterday’s workout (shoveling and snowshoeing) 

If I look back on the past seven days in terms of formal workouts and running mileage, it might seem like a low production week. My weekly workout schedule is, at best, a compromise, but I still aim to do at least three runs a week, plus an elliptical session. Occasionally strong weekly efforts come from different places and that was the case this week.

I try to work from home on Fridays, where I can do almost everything I do at the office (including participating in meetings via video chat). This past Friday I elected to go into work because there were a few things I needed to do face to face. I usually fit in a post-work elliptical session on Thursdays, but I got home a little too late that day. So it was all left for the weekend and a big storm was coming…

We awoke on Saturday to a substantial amount of snow and 20-plus MPH winds. I watched the local news at 6:00 AM in between storm related cable outages. I realized that we’d only just begun. Instead of doing my usual Saturday morning run, the Emerging Runner family was out shoveling the first 5″ of what ended up to be 23 inches of total accumulation. Our driveway gets much more snow than our neighbors, because of the unique way the wind channels through. The drifts added another foot of snow to our driveway in spots.

The winds were unrelenting and there was a layer of ice underfoot. I was able to stay on my feet and move what I’ve calculated to be 1.4 cubic tons of snow. Mrs. Emerging Runner probably moved even more than that, because I spent some time in the snow not shoveling at all. I should say near the top of the snow, in my new Tubbs snowshoes.

My wife gave me snowshoes in October for our anniversary, but this was the first time I’d had a chance to try them. After getting my Timberlands securely locked into the bindings, I bravely set out for a backyard adventure.

Tundra ready

The snowshoe kit included trekking poles that were helpful and gaiters that kept my boots dry. I stepped out onto the deck and sank about three inches into what was, at the time, about a 10″ accumulation. I trekked around the yard trying to understand if the snowshoes we providing a big benefit over snow boots. Sinking only a third of the way down was better than post-holing. In some spots, where the snow was less packed, it was easy to see how the snowshoes helped.

By the time I finished, the entire backyard was covered with my tracks. I discovered that it was easier to move over the areas where I’d already trekked, because that snow was compressed. I tried to run with them, but it was akin to running on sand. I think I’ll do better with denser snow.

This morning we went out for our fifth round of shoveling and faced some big drifts. Once again, there was a wall of snow that the town plows deposited across the end of our driveway. We made short order of that and were happy to see the end of the blizzard.

I have my methods to minimize wasted effort when moving snow, but it still ends up being a lot of upper body work. I really needed to give that half of my body some attention, but I thought it would also be a good idea to run a few miles indoors. I headed upstairs and fired up the treadmill. After watching the news people desperately trying to fill air time talking about the snowstorm, I decided to shut off the TV.

Although I missed one of my running days yesterday, I feel like I put in the equivalent amount of effort (or more) throughout the weekend. My goal this week is to get back to routine with at least three runs – possibly four if I switch my elliptical workout with another run. It was hard work shoveling this weekend, but the effort was well worth it. I’m really looking forward to getting out on my snowshoes again under more snowshoe-friendly conditions.

Hard to run and hard to start (talkin’ ’bout my generator)

Good reputation, but hard to start

Today’s run (treadmill): 3.2 miles

So much for running early today. Knowing that the temperature would exceed 90°s, I’d envisioned running the Bethpage bike path at sunrise. But the morning got busy and, before I knew it, it was past 8:00 AM. By then, the temperature had risen to the low 70’s and I considered going out for a run. After seeing on the news that a big storm is expected for Sunday, I needed to test the generator.

After five minutes of futility, my “high quality” generator failed to turn over. I bought this unit because the research said it’s a great unit. However, since we got it, starting it has been a problem. Without delay, my son and I took it to Home Depot to let Mike the technician look at it. I had to leave the generator behind and hoped it wouldn’t be an expensive service issue.

Somewhat helpful

I considered a neighborhood run when I returned home, but the weather was already past the point of bearable. I almost abandoned my plans for a workout entirely, but my wife said I’d regret that later. I took the opportunity to test a recently purchased cooling bandanna while I did a run on the treadmill. I figured that I could further optimize my cooling using the big fan.

I’d say that the bandanna was marginally helpful, but the heat and humidity were brutal. The protection from the sun and the breeze from the fan made the treadmill a good choice. I got through the run with little time to spare. We were getting together with some people right after lunch and I barely had time to cool off in the shower.

Later in the afternoon, Mike called and said, “Bad news, it’s going to be an expensive repair and it’s not covered by the warranty.” I was thrilled when he told me he was kidding. It was just $20 for labor, oil and additional gas. I hope the storm doesn’t materialize and that I can get in a decent run tomorrow. But if it does storm, at least I know the generator will start.

Blizzard conditions outside and hard running inside

Ready or not, here it comes

Today’s run (treadmill): 30 minutes

The snow is upon us and, as the local weather guy just said, “You ain’t seen nothing yet.” The wind is blowing and I’m worried about losing power. Despite all the contingency planning, I have little reason to believe LIPA and National Grid will be up to the task. I’m glad we have a generator that can power a hot plate and heater (plus TV, laptop, phone, and coffee machine) but I’m hoping we won’t need to do that.

It wasn’t snowing when I was ready to run this morning, but conditions had already turned unpleasant. The wind was building and there was intermittent rain. My wife did her daily treadmill workout and I followed her once she’d finished. Due to the weather, I had no intention of going into the city today. I was able to conduct a lot of business from the comfort of my home office/guest bedroom/fitness room.

I got right into my run, starting at a brisk pace and speeding up further as I got closer to the end. It’s true that the more you run faster paces, the easier it is to maintain them. I don’t think the treadmill display is close to accurate. A 9:30 pace feels super fast and a 9:00 pace feels like a sprint. Technically, I ran a 9:19 pace, but it felt harder than the 8:45 I ran outdoors a few days ago.

I may do a combination elliptical and treadmill workout tomorrow. If we don’t have power, my only option will be the elliptical without display or resistance. I’m hoping that we’ll get through this storm free of disruption to both power and running.

LIPA’s failure has ruined my motivation to run

#LIPAfail

Yesterday’s promise by LIPA that they’d reach 90% restoration of power for Long Island customers has been broken. We remain without electricity for the tenth consecutive day. The Nor’easter that came through yesterday was bigger than I expected, and it surely impacted LIPA’s ability to meet its service target. Still, for all those affected, it’s cold comfort to see @LIPAnews brag about its thousands of deployed workers while providing a completely useless outage map and no information about crews or restoration times. 

After an almost three hour commute home last night and facing even worse conditions in the morning, I decided to forgo my workout today. Between the weather, the loss of electrical power, storm damage and a significant scarcity of gasoline, Long Island living is not too great right now. At least the storm is moving out. Perhaps a miracle will happen and our power will return today. That could happen, but something tells me I’ll be putting another X on the calendar tomorrow.

Pancake fueled afternoon run

A stormy backyard scene on Sunday

Yesterday’s run (street): 3.3 miles at 9:00

It may have been the weather but I was suffering from fatigue and a dull headache when I arose on Sunday morning. I tried to sleep a little later than my usual 5:30 weekend wake time but that didn’t help much. By the time I felt ready for a run, the temperature and sun had risen to the point where I needed to execute plan B: run later in the day or not at all. By early afternoon I was feeling encouraged about conditions for running. The skies had become overcast and it wasn’t oppressively hot. My family had jumped into the pool and I decided to join them. I was able to get in for about five minutes before the skies turned dark and the rain and wind came through. Fortunately we’d all retreated to the house minutes before that happened. The storm was fierce and it knocked out our power. We decided to go out for dinner because the outages were spotty and we could get to a local iHop in about 10 minutes. We had a nice time there but when we returned the power was still out.

I figured that this would be an ideal time for a run since the rain had cooled things down a bit so I set off with a target of covering 3 miles. It was cooler than before but still plenty humid. I don’t like to run so soon after eating so I took it easy. Despite no attention to performance and some stomach cramping, I managed to cover my distance at 9:00 per mile, a pace I have not seen for a while. Perhaps this validated the point I made in yesterday’s post about peak performance. Or it could be from all that glycogen-rich fuel from consuming whole wheat pancakes. I returned to the pool to cool off after my run which I figured to be a better option than taking a cold shower. This morning I had no choice but to take a cold shower before work. It’s amazing how quickly one can shower, shave and wash when it means standing under a cold stream of water. We still have no power so tonight may be more of the same. It’s a good thing we have emergency rechargeable flashlights in the house. They certainly got some use last night.