Blame my low mileage on the Throgs Neck bridge

Today’s route

Today’s run (street): 4.25 miles
Yesterday’s run (street): 3.2 miles

It’s June and the weather’s getting better, but the traffic is getting worse. I had thoughts about leaving the office a little early a couple of days last week to get in late afternoon runs. My aim is to increase my weekly mileage. Due to the MTA’s brilliant plan to do concurrent construction on both the Whitestone and Throgs Neck bridges, my commute time is now averaging close to two hours each way. That got me home too late for running, showering and dinner before 8:00 PM. Lane closures are expected to happen throughout spring and summer until the work is completed. Fun!

So I’ll keep running three days a week (Fri, Sat and Sun) until I can figure out something else. I can always return to 4:00 AM runs, but so far my tired morning self has consistently outvoted my aspirational evening self. What I can do is work on increasing the length of my runs.

I generally don’t go into the office on Fridays, but it’s still a workday for me. Without my commute, I can usually get in a three mile run and be working by 7:30 AM. I suppose I can go out a little earlier, but that puts me on the road when recycling trucks and high school bus traffic is at its highest. I can run more on the sidewalk, but the hard concrete surface is wearying and the uneven sections are a serious tripping hazard.

Friday’s run went fine and I ended up pacing faster than I expected based on my perceived effort. This morning I considered other venues, including SIOR’s organized run around the extremely hilly SUNY OW campus. I elected to stay local and was later glad about that, especially when I saw they did almost 7 miles. Although my level of effort never got too high, I found today’s workout difficult. I would not have done well on the SUNY OW hills.

I hope they remember the roof

I did enjoy the overcast skies and 53° weather this morning. I never got my stride to feel right, so my performance was at the low end of the scale. Since I wasn’t going too fast, I was able to take the time to look around and monitor progress on all the new construction in the neighborhood. Last weekend I saw a lot with nothing but a foundation and today it was a house. Well at the least the framing was in place.

Tomorrow morning’s schedule starts early so I’m going to get out as quickly as I can and will probably stay local again to save time. I hear there’s a big party happening at SIOR’s in the afternoon and all the cool kids (plus me) are going.

The Runsketeers provoke a priest

We should look a lot more tired

Today’s run (SUNY Old Westbury): 7 miles

This morning the Runsketeers took on the hills at SUNY Old Westbury for an energizing run on a cold morning. We also angered a priest, but I’ll get to that later. SIOR, TPP and I (founding members of our prestigious running club) invited new members JC and KWL to today’s group run. JC is Celia’s coach and paramour and KWL is a good friend of mine who knows SIOR and TPP from our Brooklyn Half adventure.

The plan was to meet in the parking lot of a church that is located diagonally across from the entrance to the Old Westbury campus. We’d then run the (approximately) four mile loop a couple of times. Eight miles was a little longer than I was aiming to cover today, so I figured I’d do my miles independently of the group and catch up with them at the end.

It was great to see my friends since we haven’t run together in a number of weeks. I was wearing my new Opedix Knee-Tecs for the first time and we discussed the increasingly high cost of good running tights. SIOR mentioned that the Knee-Tecs retail for $225 and JC said no running clothing is worth that much money. He may be right, but I liked the Opedix a lot and thought they provided great support, warmth and energy return. If I race again this winter, I’ll be wearing them.

We all started together, but soon split up when KWL and I crossed over to a road that had facing traffic. I don’t like running with cars coming up from behind. We lost sight of the others when they continued on the northern side and followed the road in the other direction. The hills at Old Westbury are plentiful and a few seem to go on forever. KWL was a good sport and he followed my pace, even though he could have gone a lot faster.

Despite the frequent hills, I was able to converse well with KWL and we caught up on a lot of things. As expected, we crossed paths with JC, TPP and SIOR who were running counter-clockwise during our first loop and again as they completed their second. At that point KWL joined the others so he could ramp up his speed. I continued on alone with a goal of covering 7 miles.

I stayed on course and turned around at Store Hill Road and followed the drive back to Cedar Swamp Rd. I crossed the street and ran a loop around the church before returning to my car to wait for the others. Or should I say before not returning to my car. This is the part about the priest.

As I made my way closer to where we parked, I saw a person walking around the cars and thought that my friends had beaten me back. I saw that the person was dressed in church vestments and he was putting flyers under our windshields. Being the brave soul that I am, I continued running instead of risking a scolding. In fairness, I was at 6.97 miles and wanted to make it to seven, so I had an excuse to continue. I ended up at 7.06.

Today’s seven

Once the priest returned to the church I bravely sneaked back to my car and read the flyer:

Forgive me Father, for I have parked

I completely understood that the church didn’t want people taking up spaces in the lot. While I felt badly that we’d broken the rule, our four cars were the only ones in the lot. We weren’t putting anyone out unless their hearts were set on parking in our particular spaces. But the message was received loud and clear and we plan to park at a lot within the SUNY campus next time.

My friends eventually made it back to their cars and we headed over to the Starbucks near Whole Foods in Jericho. Since I wasn’t able to run with everyone today, it was great to spend time relaxing over coffee. JC and KWL are both avid cyclists and triathletes and they compared notes on bike gear and races. The five of us had plenty to talk about. I loved the run, but I loved the post-run just as much.

Running seven miles today was easier than I expected, even with the hills. Although KWL and I maintained a fairly easy pace, I still managed to stay in the 10:00 range overall. Since I’ve already completed 80% of my weekly volume I have a few options for tomorrow. I could go over to the track and run intervals or head to Stillwell for a change of pace on the trails. Even if I end up staying in the neighborhood on Sunday I can still say it’s been an interesting week of running.

Runsketeer Sunday on the mountains of Westbury

The concrete roller coaster

Today’s run (SUNY Old Westbury): 7 miles

What goes up must come down. That is an apt description of the loop I ran today at the campus of SUNY Old Westbury. SIOR, who discovered this beautifully torturous running venue, described the course as “hilly.” She certainly wasn’t kidding. With the exception of the short drive that connects the campus to Cedar Swamp Road, I don’t think there was a level section on our route today.

SIOR was unable to join us this morning, so it was left to TPP and I to conquer this undulating beast. She wanted to run 11 miles today and I had had 7 scheduled. Our timing was almost perfect. I arrived a couple of minutes before our designated meet time and I could see TPP heading in my direction. She was probably half a mile away, but her neon yellow running jacket made her easy to spot. TPP had already run 30% of her planned distance and would cover the balance while I did my seven miles.

We headed west toward the loop running against traffic. There were a lot of cars on the route because the college was having an Open House. Fortunately there was plenty of room for the many other runners and cyclists we saw today. I followed TPP who is a very focused runner. I had to constantly occasionally remind her to get over to the left when cars were heading in our direction. Apparently her friends from the Selden Hills running club are frequently called on to do this for her during their group runs.

Elevation chart from today’s run

We encountered the first of many hills soon after we’d started. We were running easy and took it on without much trouble. Every hill was followed by an equivalent drop, making it the least fun roller coaster ever. But the run was fun, because our pace allowed us to carry on a conversation most of the time. I’ve never been able to speak when running at my regular training pace, but I did okay today.

I had been concerned about being able to cover seven miles over what turned out to be 600 feet of elevation. We decided to walk parts of some hills, but I stopped my Garmin during those times because I wanted to make sure I recorded 7 full miles of running.

I’m looking at today’s run from a couple of different perspectives. On the positive side, I had a great time running with a friend, made my targeted distance and ran a lot of hills. On the not so positive side, I probably fell short on effort, as evidenced by my heart rate that averaged only 75% of max. I think this is a signal for me to start pushing my speed a little more on my long runs. SIOR suggested running a couple of miles at targeted half marathon pace on training runs and I plan to do that during next Wednesday’s run.

Raising HR should raise performance

I want to get my heart rate up to at least least 80% of max on long runs and average at least 85% on more speed-focused runs. This is a tough change for me because the harder I push, the less I enjoy the run. But I always feel great afterward.