Wind induced Turkey Trot flashback

Wind chilly

Today’s run (neighborhood): 5 miles

This morning I saw that the temperature was 33°, but the wind was making it feel like it was 19° outside. I weighed the pros and cons of going out or staying inside. I decided that I’d rather endure challenging winds than five mind-numbing miles on the treadmill. In retrospect, I’m not sure that was the smartest way to go

One of the reasons I chose to run outside was to confront this cold weather breathing issue straight on. By coincidence, the first three base runs I’ve done since starting my half marathon training have happened on the three coldest days. The theory I’m exploring is that cold air is affecting my ability to breathe efficiently and causing me to struggle far below normal lactate threshold. Interestingly, I found something online that said facial cooling triggers the vagus nerve (grow up, it’s located in your face) which can slow up heartbeat.

I’ve had trouble getting my heart rate above 80% of max on these cold runs, so the answer may be in there somewhere. My plan this morning was to run fairly easy, since I did intervals yesterday. I started out feeling okay, but not speedy (which was fine). I was also wearing more layers than a pâte feuilletée and that was probably slowing me down. The wind was brutal and running directly into it practically stopped my forward progress. It was like a flashback to the Long Beach Turkey Trot last November, but happily without the sandstorm.

Race fitness: It’s just a matter of Venn

The two main objectives to my training are to increase my endurance well enough to cover 13.1 miles and improve my stamina to allow me to maintain a targeted pace over that distance. I’ll be honest and say that today’s run did not provide any sign of improved speed, but I was able to handle the mileage better than on Sunday.

Tomorrow’s weather is supposed to be much like today’s. If that’s the case I’m going to stay inside and run my three miles at “pace” on the treadmill. I’ll plan to run longer distances outside and keep the speedier workouts indoors until the weather gets warmer. If that’s what it takes to bridge stamina and speed, I’m willing to spend a little time on the treadmill.

Arduous base run and an impromptu trail

Lots of cross country teams on the trails today

Today’s run (Bethpage bike and dirt trail): 6.1 miles

Tough run today. I went to Bethpage to get in some base miles and a little hill practice. From the start, my level of energy told me that this would not be a high performance workout. My intention was to make it a variable run: 20 minute easy warm up, 20 minute tempo and a moderate pace to the finish. I even intended to cap the workout with a couple of runs up the big long hill at the start of the older bike trail.

As I made my way the hill leading to the north trail entrance, I knew that I’d be hard pressed to manage the planned tempo. I felt a buildup of excessive lactic acid in my leg muscles and I tried to keep my form correct. I hoped that my stride would soon loosen up. I picked up the pace around mile one, where the biggest downhill section starts. I gained more speed down the hill, but soon encountered the two uphill sections that come just before the Haypath crossing.

Once I got to the other side, I made a split second decision to duck into the woods and follow the dirt trail that runs roughly parallel to the paved trail. I was surprised by the number of twists I encountered along this path. It went on much longer than I thought it might. As expected, the dirt trail terminated at a point on the paved trail, just south of Old Bethpage Rd.

The run in the shady woods invigorated me, and I ran the last of my northern route to Old Country Road. Instead of crossing the street to continue on the bike trail, I followed the sidewalk south about a few tenths of a mile before turning back toward the paved path. At the point, my energy level had dropped to the point where I struggled to maintain speed. I decided to dismiss the plan to do hill repeats at the end of the run.

Th only thing left to deal with were the three consecutive hills that come a mile north of the trail head. I locked in a cadence, shortened my steps and made it through the first one, and was grateful for the slight slope that comes before the next one came. I knew I was less than a mile from the end, so I maintained the fastest pace I could until I reached the end.

Today’s run felt far harder than the 7+ miler I did last weekend or yesterday’s hilly workout. I suspect that today’s difficulty was driven by too much hard effort over the prior six days. I’ve decided to take both Monday and Tuesday off from running this week to help me recover a little. I’ll probably do another core session on one of those days and/or some upper body exercises. I didn’t love the run today, but I’m glad I put in the miles.

Overdone for my run

Today’s run (street): 3.3 miles

It’s been quite a weekend and we bade farewell to our last guests around midday. I’d had no opportunity to run since Friday morning, so my calorie intake had far exceeded my burn rate. I was determined to get in a few miles today and finally made it out the door around 2:00 PM. With the high heat and humidity, I thought it might be tough to get moving. I had no idea how difficult it would be.

It’s so easy to slip back into bad food habits during celebrations and I plead guilty to that. Prior to my run, I’d eaten a big lunch and two hours was clearly not enough time for proper digestion. I struggled as I made my way up the street. I felt like I was carrying ten pounds of extra weight.

I almost cut my run short after the first mile but decided to tough it out. I hoped I’d gain some strength as the run went on and to a degree, that happened. By the time I reached the second mile I knew I’d be able to complete my targeted 3 miles. But I still felt like I was carrying a lead-filled backpack. By the time I finished, I was fairly exhausted. I jumped into the pool after first checking my pockets.

It’s now back to my healthy diet and proper portion control. I’m not sure it was a good idea to run on a day when the weather was so hot and my readiness was so low. I need to get back on track with my training, stating tomorrow. I’m out of the office Monday and I’m hoping to get in an out of cycle run. I just hope today’s performance won’t carry over to tomorrow.

Psychological struggles on the Bethpage trail

Six down and six up

Today’s run (Bethpage State Park): 12 miles

Unless you are an elite runner, or someone who covers 70 training miles a week, 12 miles is a long distance to run. It’s 92% of a half marathon and it felt very much like a full marathon this morning. I know a good number of people who run marathons and half marathons, and I am privately amazed by their confident view of these races. To me, a half marathon is an “Event” that takes many weeks of tough training and still guarantees to beat me to a pulp. My friends certainly give their training its due, but they don’t seem as intimidated by the challenge.

It was a chilly 34 degrees when I started this morning’s run at Bethpage and I decided to start with a lap around the large parking lot before reaching the main trail. I thought that front loading some distance would give me a psychological edge, making my long miles on the trail seem a little shorter. Unfortunately I miscalculated a little and paid for it at the end.

I ran without water because my Amphipod bottle is not usable and my Ultimate Direction bottle had not arrived. I could have run with bottled water but I decided to go without, rather than deal with the need to carry a bottle without a hand grip. I took along a GU gel in case I needed a boost later in my run. I ultimately chose not to take it because I didn’t want to consume it without water.

My extra distance at the beginning of my run provided the surprise of reaching the 4 mile point earlier than I expected. My milestone for that distance is a point just south of the Southern State overpass near the Linden Street crossing. Before long, I was running in the Massapequa Preserve where I planned my turnaround after six miles. That was a mistake.

Bethpage is a rolling trail that does a good job of torturing me at certain points in my run. There are some hills to manage during the first few miles, but it isn’t until I reach the Southern State overpass where it becomes hard. The section is steep, but not too long, and I get over it fine. The problem is knowing that I’ll soon face it coming back, the northbound section being longer, with two difficult inclines.

I like the Massapequa Preserve because the path is macadam, not concrete, and everyone on that section of the trail seems to be friendly and smiling. I cruised along well but I did begin to feel fatigue as I approached the six mile mark. I considered having the GU, but I didn’t want to deal with the stickiness without water to wash it down. That won’t be the case for the Half where I’ll run with water or take GU at a water station.

Once I cleared the Southern State I tried to feel good that I wouldn’t have to deal with big hills for a couple of miles. For some reason I began feeling down and was questioning why I was subjecting myself to this long boring run. I knew even then that much of running is psychological and that I needed to get my head straight if I was to cover the next five miles without going insane.

I did recover from that malaise, but my boredom was soon replaced by dread. I was facing the two big hills near the end and wasn’t feeling very strong. I again considered taking my gel but decided that I’d almost be finished with my run by the time I felt any effect from it. As I approached the Quaker Meetinghouse Rd. crossing, I seriously considered taking a break. The wooden bench looked tempting but, when I reached it, I just kept going.

The first of the two dreaded hills was easier to handle than I’d expected, though I knew I was running pretty slowly. Another runner passed me and disappeared into the distance and I cringed before looking at my Garmin to check my pace. The last big hill was harder than expected, but I knew once I passed it I’d soon be done.

Wrong!

In my decision to turn around at six miles, I failed to consider that I’d run about half a mile prior to starting on the bike trail. That meant that, by the time I reached the parking lot, I’d only covered 11.5 miles. In order to reach my 12 mile goal I needed to circle the entire lot. While the parking lot is flat, my mind was set to come off the trail and trot over to my car, stop the Garmin and rest. Instead I had to make that last loop, trudging through final half mile as I wistfully viewed my waiting car.

I was beat up pretty badly, but I succeeded in reaching all my training goals for next weekend’s race. I will definitely take gels when I fatigue and stop at the water stations or carry my own hydration. Next Sunday will be 1.1 miles more than I covered today. I know it will be hard, but at least the LI Half race course doesn’t have Bethpage’s hills. That’s what I kept telling myself this morning.

NYC Marathon morning run at Bethpage

Today’s run (Bethpage State Park): 7.1 miles

Today is the New York Marathon and I watched the race on TV after my run on the bike trail at Bethpage. It was an exciting finish for the women, with Dado overtaking Keitany’s lead in the last miles through Central Park. On Friday, I made my annual pilgrimage to the NYC Marathon Expo at the Javits Center and brought along KWL who had never attended it.

The Expo was even more overwhelming this year than last and I saw Dean Karnazes and met Marshall Ulricht, whose book “Running on Empty” I’d recently read. It was amazing to talk to this man who set records for running across America, starting in San Francisco and finishing in New York 52 days later.

With Desi Davila – Boston Marathon record-holder

I also met Desi Davila, who finished second in this year’s Boston Marathon and holds the fastest women’s time ever in that race.  Desi was sweet and humble, I mentioned the cover story about her in Running Times and she just smiled and nodded. She told me she was skipping the NYC marathon because she’s training for the 2012 Olympics. I will be rooting for her to make the team!

Today I took advantage of the Daylight Savings Time roll-back and got out early for my run. I planned to take it easy so I could benchmark my condition and see how ready I am for a 10K next Sunday. It was chilly and I wore layers and gloves and I felt pretty good for the first four miles. At around the five mile point I started feeling some weakness. I’m thinking that my base has probably slid back to about 4 miles since Cow Harbor. I slowed down a little to get past a hilly section and tried not to think about the last mile that is the toughest part of the return leg.

By mile six I felt similar to how I’d felt near the end of my half marathon, my spirit was willing but my legs were not. I told myself “just keep going” and I did, although I’m not sure how I managed to get over that final hill.

I may not run the Race for the Warriors next weekend because (as of right now) I don’t feel prepared to run a competitive 10K. I guess I can run it as a training exercise for the Long Beach Turkey Trot the following week. I’ll decide that in the next day or so. I’m hoping that my experience today had more to do with having a slight chest cold than the fact that my conditioning isn’t where it needs to be right now.

The agony and the not so bad

Yesterday’s run (Central Park): 3 miles
Today’s run (treadmill): 3 miles

I’m in a slump and I don’t exactly understand why. I suspect that it’s a combination of things. Since I suffered a bad fall on my driveway a week ago, I’ve been feeling slightly sub-par. My crash at the end of my run was probably more traumatic than I’d initially thought and, seven days later, I still have plenty of evidence of that.

I had been feeling run down by mid-week and though I did a couple of runs plus an elliptical session since the accident, I felt the need to skip my workout on Thursday. Yesterday I had plans to meet my friend CK for a run in Central Park and I thought the day and a half rest I’d have since Wednesday would deliver some needed energy. I was almost completely wrong but there were other factors at play.

First, I had gone to the company medical center in the morning to get a flu shot. I didn’t think it would have any effect on my running, but perhaps it did. Second, I was rushed for time at lunch and grabbed some spicy vegetarian soup and vegetarian dumplings that didn’t help my glycogen level. And third, I generally don’t run well in the afternoon. So some combination of the above, plus being generally run down, made for a tough run in the park.

CK and I started our run on the lower loop near the 6th Avenue entrance to the park and we headed counter clockwise up the hill. We were moving at a good clip with CK letting me set the pace. I felt okay but was concerned about maintaining that rate over our planned 4+ mile route. Shortly after we reached our first mile, CK asked to stop so he could remove his long pants that were making him warm.

What should have been an opportunity to rest turned into a significant energy drop and as we made our way up the hill I admitted that I wouldn’t be able to run the reservoir route. We modified our course by cutting across the Great Lawn and I was truly struggling to keep the pace under 10 minutes a mile. Still it was fun to run the west side of the loop towards Columbus Circle because they had put up the stands for the NY Marathon and were in the process of constructing the finish line area.

We ended up covering our three miles in about 28 minutes but it was the toughest 5K I’ve run in a while.

This morning, due to the inclement weather, I ran about three miles on the treadmill, starting with a 5 minute walking warm up. I did the running part at around 9:50/min, a comfortable pace, but I really felt it by the end. I’m obviously not at my best but this morning’s workout felt far better than yesterday’s run.

I’m not sure how far I’ll run tomorrow. More than one person has suggested that I take a few days off and get back to strength. It’s good advice, the kind that I’d give to others. I’m not sure I’ll take my own advice though. Who can resist going out for a run on a cold October morning?

Resting is as hard as running

Tapering for this race has been tough. My knee is still exhibiting some soreness but I know I still have 3+ days of recovery prior to the half marathon. I wanted to get in one more run before Sunday but decided that protecting my injury is a far better strategy. I know that I shouldn’t lose much conditioning after holding off from running for eight consecutive days but I’m struggling with the idea that I might. This lack of aerobic exercise is making me grouchy. I suppose it’s better to have a negative response to rest than to embrace the sedentary lifestyle.