Turkey day run before the turkey

Time to ring the dinner bell

Today’s run (street): 3.5 miles
Yesterday’s workout (elliptical): 30 minutes

My Thanksgiving day run is done, but there’s no turkey trotting for me this year. Hooray for Runsketeer buddy TPP who had a 5K PR this morning in Oyster Bay. Had she finished ten seconds earlier, she would have averaged sub-8:00. TPP just keeps getting faster and I’m at the point where I’m happy that I’m not getting any slower.

I have day confusion due to the mid-week holiday and keep thinking it’s Saturday. I worked from home yesterday and kept confusing it with Friday. But it isn’t and it wasn’t and I’m happy to have a nice string of days off where I’ll get some workouts done. Yesterday was a busy morning at the office and that required me to participate in a few Google Hangout meetings. I sneaked in an early elliptical session to kick off my week’s activity.

Despite the fact that today will be a major meal, we went out for a get-together dinner last night. It was really great, but social rules forced us to all order dessert. I felt like a stuffed turkey by the end and decided that I’d skip dessert today. Ya, right. There’s homemade bread pudding, pecan pie and turkey cupcakes (happily not made out of turkey) in the refrigerator. Those are just the treats I know about.

In the spirit of burning calories, I went out this morning in fairly chilly (39°) weather. I’m not the biggest fan of running in my neighborhood, but it’s a very civilized experience on holidays. No aggressive drivers dropping off their kids, road-hogging school buses, landscaper rigs or sanitation trucks forcing me onto the sidewalk. Just the quiet of a late fall day.

According to my Garmin data, my first mile and last half mile were my fastest this morning, even though I’m still plodding along for the most part. Despite that, my run seemed shorter than the distance I’d covered and I was thankful for the hot shower that followed.

Dinner will be served soon and I was excited to see what my wife and daughter cooked up for today’s feast. I would have helped them, but there’s a perception that I tend to get in the way. Besides that, I have to entertain. A lot of people are out of town this year, so our guest list is fairly moderate and I’m glad for that. You could even say thankful.

Tomorrow is Black Friday but I will avoid the stores and take advantage of another (hopefully) quiet morning. I keep thinking about the trails and may go out early to Stillwell or Bethpage. Happy Thanksgiving to all and good luck to all you turkey trotters and streakers (I mean you SIOR). I’d write more, but dinner awaits.

Runsketeer run with a Vonnegut twist

I miraculously remembered to take our selfie

Today’s run (Bethpage bike trail): 4.5 miles

There’s a short story written by Kurt Vonnegut called “Harrison Bergeron” that summarizes today’s Runsketeer run. In the story, the main character is saddled with government-provided “handicaps” to counter his intelligence and athleticism and ensure an egalitarian society. In my case, it was my speedy friends who were recovering from recent races that allowed us to all run together the entire time.

TPP and I met up on Colonial Road around 7:30 AM to start things off. Our plan was to run to Bethpage State Park and connect with SIOR who who would join us around 8:00. TPP and I took off at an easy pace that allowed us to chat as we made our way south. It seemed like we covered the 1.5 miles in three minutes. We arrived at Bethpage a few minutes before SIOR, but soon enough her semi-tractor trailer of an SUV pulled into the lot.

We made a plan to run south for four miles out-and-back which would give me and TPP a total of 5.5 miles. Due to TPPs intense duathlon yesterday and SIOR’s marathon last weekend, everyone was happy to run my pace. It reminded me of the first time we ran together at Eisenhower Park, when I was better able to keep to the pace they’d set. Like before, the time went by quickly and we ended up turning around after 1.5 miles. That resulted in a total of 4.5 for me and TPP.

The route

There are a lot of hills in that section, so despite our leisurely pacing, we did a good bit of work. The last part of the southern path is a half mile hill with a 3.4% grade that I always dread. It was no picnic today, but I did fine. About halfway up the hill, SIOR caught up to a Facebook running friend and they traveled together as TPP and I took the lead.

Although we didn’t cover our planned distance, I think we were all happy with our runs. Me especially, due to the Bergeroning of my running buddies. SIOR drove me and TPP back to our cars. I played navigator and SIOR really appreciated that.* Later, at Starbucks, I realized how lucky I was to have survived the short ride after she’d told us that she views highway driving as a competitive sport. TPP views it as a chess game, which is slightly more comforting.
* Editor’s note: She did not

We did meet up at Starbucks. As usual, I arrived last because I’m a fan of speed limits. While they were waiting for their fancy mocha latte skinny no-caf drinks, I sat with my basic coffee and watched the guy to my left eat the biggest pile of something covered in syrup that I’d ever seen. I didn’t know Starbucks had that on the menu. It’s like an IHOP with better coffee.

We probably covered 50 topics in the same number of minutes, including that fact that TPP’s sister was running the Chicago Marathon today. We wrapped up around 10:00 to get to our days started. This is TPP’s first anniversary with paramour and sometime Runsketeer JC, so they’ll celebrate tonight. SIOR brought more chaos into her household today with the adoption of a puppy from a rescue shelter. I’ll continue to celebrate my son’s 16th birthday with the family tonight.

Tomorrow’s a holiday and that should keep the streets relatively clear for a neighborhood run. I’m glad to have the opportunity to run four consecutive days. After Monday, I won’t get too many chances for a workout until next Saturday. No working from home this week.

Unremarkable run on a milestone post

 

Today’s run (treadmill): 3.5 miles

It was nice to sleep later than 4:00 AM today, and my current schedule made a 5:30 wake up seem indulgent. We needed to start our Saturday early and, despite the crisp fall weather, I ended up running on the treadmill. Our morning plans limited my time and using the treadmill saved me precious minutes. I didn’t mind too much because low humidity plus the high powered fans on my Life Fitness machine would keep it pleasant.

I tend to dread treadmill runs because they are the least stimulating type of running. I say that knowing how interesting it is to run a dozen 1,600 meter ovals to cover three miles on the track. Even so, the track does offer some visual distractions and provides a real sense of physical progress. Watching TV while on the treadmill can distract me for a while, but I eventually get fed up with commercials and turn it off.

Today’s treadmill run was actually pretty nice. I knew I wouldn’t be on that long because of my time constraint and the first mile went by faster than expected. I started at my leisurely 60 minute pace (the speed I run when I expect to stay on the treadmill for an hour or longer) but upped that incrementally until I was in the 9 minute range. It always surprises me how easily I can run faster paces when I try. It’s the effort of sustaining those paces that works against me. I can do it, I just don’t enjoy it.

I got through my short-for-a-Saturday run this morning with time to spare and with a higher regard for the treadmill. This unremarkable run happened to fall on the day of my 2,000th post so yay for that. Tomorrow the Runsketeers will reunite for the first time in weeks. SIOR is taking it easy after last weekend’s marathon in St. George, UT, and TPP nailed 2nd in her age group at this morning’s Ceder Creek Duathlon. Even with their recovery top of mind, I’ll still be hard pressed to keep up with them.

Happy on the Bethpage trail

Trail appreciation day

Today’s run (Bethpage trail): 5.4 miles

The best part of today’s run came during the last half mile. I’d spent the previous five moving at my usual pace (slow) but opened up the throttle on the last stretch of the path. I ended up with a final split in the range of my old normal pace. That contrasted with the rest of my data and really highlighted how much my performance has dropped off over the past few years.

I wanted to break out of my typical 3 to 4 mile rut and I knew the best way to do that was to run the Bethpage bike trail. There was partial sun breaking through the clouds and the humidity didn’t seem too bad. But humidity can be deceiving and, a few miles in, I began to regret leaving my water bottle in my car. Garmin data says humidity was 83%. On the other hand, there was a steady breeze coming from the west that acted like a cooling fan, especially when I was heading south.

Rather than go north as usual, I decided to run south to Bethpage State Park, turn around there and head north to Old Country Road. I figured that would get me my targeted five and then some. Soon after I’d started, I saw a couple of people running ahead of me at about the same pace that I was running. Well the guy was running my pace and the woman was running faster and looping back periodically to run with him. It reminded me of running with TPP and SIOR!

I eventually caught up to them, but they kept going south while I turned around. I was feeling good and took the time to look around and appreciate how fortunate I am to have this beautiful trail ten minutes from my home. The abundant trees and well maintained paths make it a happy place. I noticed that they’ve put in water coolers near the end of the first section of the northern path. Very civilized. I wish I’d drank from it when I had the chance.

For some reason, I expected that my run north would feel short because I’d covered 2.75 miles by the time I’d looped back to where I’d started. It wasn’t a slog covering the remaining distance, but it seemed to take longer to cover slightly less distance. As it turned out, I went much faster during the second half. That was probably due to my more urgent pace towards the end.

The fact that I could hold a much faster pace for a fairly long stretch reinforced that my speed issue isn’t physical. I’ve definitely fallen into the habit of running comfortably rather than with a performance goal. My absence from racing explains that to some degree. I’m not sure that I want to start folding in faster paces in all my runs, but with cooler weather coming, it might be a nice thing to try.

Finally, I want to give a shout out to SIOR who finished in the top 8% of the Suffolk County Half Marathon this morning. It makes me proud to be a Runsketeer. Even if I’m the slowest one.

A day late and a mile short

Avoid at all costs

Monday’s run (street): 3.25 miles

By a day late, I’m talking about posting today about a run I did yesterday. I broke up my vacation with a trip into the office this morning to attend a meeting that I probably could have done as a conference call. But success in business often comes from just showing up. I have no regrets except for my decision to take the Clearview to the Grand Central on my way home. If you live in the NYC area you’ll understand exactly what I mean.

My running buddy TPP is back to blogging and her post today reminded me of Monday’s super-humid running experience. Although I got out before 8:00 AM, the temperature was just shy of 80° and the humidity was a solid 80%. I’m often fooled when I go out on humid days because the moisture in the air, combined with a slight breeze, can feel cool if you’re not sweating. It doesn’t take long before reality hits.

I had a decent 5 miler on Sunday and an almost 5 miler on Saturday, so I decided to be kind to myself and forget my four mile target. I took the best route I could to get me through my minimum run distance (MRD) of three miles with a quarter mile to spare. Although the air was heavy with moisture, I did manage a decent pace that was faster than my two prior runs.

I’m back to being on vacation and though the days are are busy, I plan to get in a couple more mid-week workouts. Having a heat wave during your vacation week isn’t as bad as having to go into the office on your vacation week. But it’s not too great either.

The Runsketeers take on the trails!

TPP, brat (aka, SIOR), ER, KWL

Today’s run (Dirty Sock route: Belmont Lake): 6.5 miles

Adventure called and the Runsketeers responded this morning with a loop or two (or three) around Belmont Lake. KWL, SIOR, TPP and I planned to meet around 7:00 AM. I was the laggard of the bunch as they were all hanging out together by the time I arrived. I tried to explain the Dirty Sock course — how it starts at the western trail head and branches off toward Southards Pond before dipping south to the eastern exit. After getting a collective, “what the hell are you talking about?” look from my companions, I suggested they just follow the trail as best as they could.

We began to walk to our starting point and bossy SIOR said, “Can we start running now?” So we did. Doing that, as well as running back to the western trail head when I finished, accounted for my additional third of a mile on top of running the full Dirty Sock route. We ran together at the start and then TPP and SIOR picked up the pace and went on ahead. KWL stayed back with me and we ran together and chatted until we reached Belmont Lake.

While KWL turned on the burners, I kept my moderate pace and circled the lake. About halfway around, I ran into SIOR and TPP who were running the lake clockwise. I soon saw KWL coming back on his way to catch up with the others. I again saw the three of them near the end of my loop. TPP ended up doing two lake loops and the others went around for a third time.

I am officially the least popular Runsketeer

The Dirty Sock route can be challenging when the path is wet and the humidity is off the charts. Neither was the case today. Just in case, I’d packed my gel flask with a mix of water and a Roctane Expresso gel. I haven’t used gels in over a year, so the one I had was well past its expiration date. I didn’t realize that until I took my first swig and got a mouthful of coffee flavored grit. I finished it nonetheless.

I think the gel helped, because I felt a bit more energetic after ingesting it. Curiously, I detected an aftertaste that reminded me of alcohol and I wondered if the gel had fermented in its pack. Probably not, because a little alcohol goes a long way with me and I didn’t feel any related effects. However, I did start to crave pizza.

I ran along the southern end of Southards Pond and went south for the last half mile of the route. This last section used to frustrate me when I did the Dirty Sock 10K because the trail seemed to go on forever. The greatest moment of that race was when I started to hear Terry Bisogno announcing runners as they crossed the finish line. I didn’t get that today, but when I came around the final bend and saw the emerald green field ahead of me, I was pretty darn happy.

My route today

I extended my run to our starting location and waited of the others who were looking to cover more miles than me today. I ended up going over to the playground to get some shade and a minute later TPP appeared. We found a shady area close to where we’d see KWL and SIOR when they exited the woods. TPP and I caught up a little before our buddies arrived.

As tradition dictates, we headed to the closest Starbucks which had a very comfy seating section. After receiving gifts of coffee and pumpkin bread from SIOR and TPP respectively, the four of us recapped our run. Three of the four of us went over the moon about KWL’s Apple Watch Sport that he was wearing. I am defiantly anti-Apple, and didn’t join in that love fest. However, KWL did manage to take a remote selfie using his watch to control SIOR’s iPhone, which was a pretty neat trick.

It was a great run for all of us and I was excited to share one of my favorite running locations with my best running buds. KWL is officially our d’Artagnan (although that honor is shared with TPP’s JC). I look forward to more runs with these guys. I may even do Cow Harbor after all.

Runsketeer run at Bethpage with SIOR

If she ran 12 and I ran six, why do I look twice as tired?

Today’s run (Bethpage bike trail): 6 miles

As they say in baseball, this is a rebuilding year for my running. I’m accepting the precipitous decline in my performance and, although my ego has taken a hit, I still enjoy the running experience as much as ever. I ran with SIOR this morning and admitted to her that I was a little intimidated by her speed. Usually TPP serves as the performance buffer, able to keep up with SIOR for the majority of the time while I languish behind. Today I had no buffer.

I mentioned my concerns about that to SIOR after our run and she was completely supportive of the effort I put in today. She is training for an upcoming marathon in Utah and following the Hanson training method that includes slow runs. Of course her definition of slow is my current definition of 5K pace. I was really happy that we were able to run together for much of the last three miles. The way it worked was for her to slow down a lot more and for me to speed up a little.

SIOR’s schedule called for 12 miles today and I was aiming to do about six. We worked out our plan so that SIOR ran six miles out and back north of the Bethpage lot and then three south where she’d rendezvous with me. From there we’d run our last three back to the lot together. We met up on the path just as planned and made our way north.

Today’s route

While I know I can run faster when I have to, I tend to default to an easy pace. Post workout, we discussed the fact that my breathing sounds labored during my runs and we wondered if my bout with pneumonia in 2010 has had a long term effect on my lung capacity. I wasn’t much faster when I ran with SIOR, but I did improve by a couple of minutes over the first three miles.

Once we’d finished our run, we headed over to Starbucks™, the official run recovery spot of the Runsketeers. We missed our buddy TPP today. She was with JC in Connecticut running with the Iron Cowboy to support his goal of running 50 Ironman distances in 50 days for the Jamie Oliver Food Foundation. SIOR and I covered a lot of subjects including her upcoming marathon and the challenges of high altitude running.

I had a great time with SIOR and realized later that today’s six miles was my longest run so far in 2015. In past years I would have already run a 10K and/or a half marathon by this point. My experience today motivated me to try to push a little more next time. I look forward to our next Runsketeer run and I’m going to try to keep up with SIOR and TPP a little longer than I have. After yesterday’s near trip that (happily) did not re-aggravate my disc issue, I’m think I’m ready for some intervals next weekend.

Runsketeer reunion: first spring run!

Our traditional selfie, courtesy of a random Starbucks customer (photo credit to TPP)

Today’s run (Bethpage State Park): 3.6 miles

Take a look at the picture above. Why is this man smiling? Is it because he ran 3.63 miles today, his first run in two weeks? No, definitely not that. The reason for the smile comes from the people to his right and left. While I suffered through a difficult and painful run this morning, I ended up having a great time today. I will admit most of that happened once we hit Starbucks.

I’ve been feeling good about my recovery. I’ve still experienced pain in my left hamstring that’s likely caused by my recently diagnosed herniated disc. I’ve tried a few easy strides along the halls of my office to better gauge my progress. Things have felt pretty good and I was both encouraged and excited to run with my buddies this weekend. But when the (blown and carbon) rubber hit the road, that familiar feeling of being stabbed in the leg with every stride was clear and present.

Our plan was to start out in our usual place, just north of Haypath Road. SIOR and TPP wanted to run longer than my planned 3 miles, so they arrived earlier and ran south for about 1.5 miles before turning around. I texted them when I arrived and SIOR texted back suggesting that I head their way so we could meet up on their way back. After just a few steps, I realized that this was going to hurt.

I took it slow but every step was painful. At least I could run. My doctor said I should avoid hills. Unfortunately, there are quite a few on this path. I made it to the top of a short, steep hill where I saw my friends coming from the other direction. We exchanged hugs and hellos and headed north together. There was no way I could keep up with them today (could I ever?) but they stopped periodically to allow me to catch up.

I had neglected to restart my Garmin when we met up. Fortunately I discovered my error at the point where I started so all I needed to do was double the initial distance to get my true mileage. We continued together but soon I watched my buddies disappear into the distance. I was not enjoying myself and it wasn’t just the pain. I realized that the combination of fewer workouts and less intensity (the elliptical can’t match the treadmill) has taken a toll on my fitness.

Somehow I made my way through the run and, as I approached my endpoint, I saw that TPP and SIOR were waiting near where I’d parked, talking to a person dressed in white. As I got closer, I realized that this person was on a bike and I was happy to see that it was TPP’s paramour, JC. We caught up briefly and JC suggested that steroid shots may relieve the pain from my disc issue. I’m really hoping it doesn’t come to that.

Happy birthday to me – thanks SIOR!

We left JC to his ride and the Runsketeers started a convoy to Starbucks. I led the way which involved Route 135, Old Country Road and South Oyster Bay Road. At one point, SIOR texted me asking if I was lost. She thinks she is funny. When we got inside Starbucks, SIOR presented me with a birthday gift – a SPIbelt – one of the best things you can give to a runner. Mine is getting old, ripped and frayed and I rely on it a lot. I’m happy to have a new one that I don’t have to worry about breaking on a run and dumping my credit cards, cash and cell phone on the street.

SIOR also bought me coffee. I should have birthdays more often! The three of us hadn’t got together since the morning of the Hangover Run  (Jan 1) so we had a lot to catch up on. They patiently listened to me describe my job and company and we recounted our various adventures in travel. SIOR wins hands down with her transatlantic crossing via catamaran from South Africa to Brazil.

As usual, we ran out of time long before we ran out of conversation. Despite the painful run, I ended today’s workout in a fantastic mood. The Runsketeers cannot go another four months between our runs! My current injury will make it hard to keep up with my friends for a while, but we know it’s the non-running part that puts the smile on our faces.

Wishing SIOR a great race tomorrow at the MORE Half Marathon in NYC. I tease her about it being a woman’s-only event, but I really do support it. It was a little less than a year ago when we all ran the Brooklyn Half. A lot has happened since then in terms of my running. At least I’m seeing an orthopedist and just had an MRI, so I can understand exactly what’s causing this pain. What to do about that will be another story.

Too short to be endless runs

January volume to date

Today’s run (treadmill): 3.1 miles

Yesterday morning I ran for the first time in four days. It had been a busy work week culminating with Thursday, where I had to give presentations five times in a single day. The week was exhausting and it left me no time for workouts. Friday morning was freezing cold, but I knew I needed to get back outside and get my run in.

The cold has gotten to me more this year than it ever has in the past. I used to look at 21° runs as a fun challenge, bundling up, but not so much that I’m overheated after a mile. This year, I’ve been especially sensitive to cold (especially my face) and I’ve been layering so I’ll be comfortable at the start. I almost always regret that by the end.

I’d hoped that taking four days off from running this week would provide me good energy on Friday. Initially it did. I moved swiftly through the first half mile and felt relatively strong, although I was colder than I’d wished. At some point, my gear began to work against me. As my body temperature rose, I considered passing my house so I could discard my outer layer. Unfortunately, I didn’t, and the ensuing heat made my short run seem endless.

This morning we needed to head into the city, so I fit in an early treadmill run. It was 16° outside (which didn’t seem to stop SIOR and TPP from tearing up the Run to the Brewery course today) and I wasn’t going to subject myself to another freezing workout. Despite the climate controlled environment, my experience was similar to yesterday. Endless, until it ended.

My weekly volume has really dropped since the New Year and I need to correct that. Running 3-4 miles at a time (as I have) isn’t going to get me there. I need to start putting some 5+ mile runs on the board soon. Tomorrow is supposed to be very rainy, so I don’t know whether I’ll be able to get outside for a long run. 6 miles on the treadmill isn’t going to happen, but I’d consider a dual workout with both elliptical and treadmill.

You need to run 600 yards to run a mile

1,800 feet of hell

As far back as elementary school, I’ve struggled with running fast paces over long distances. I really did try. In fifth grade, I ran the 50 yard dash for the track team and even placed first in my town for the standing broad jump (still the apex of my athletic career). These events were part of the Presidential Physical Fitness test that every kid had to take to pass gym class. Running 150 feet and jumping six feet was relatively easy. It was the 600-yard timed run around the field that haunted me all the way through high school.

I wasn’t alone. We all dreaded the “Six Hundred”, a seemingly endless distance. Now that I have some perspective, I realize that 600 yards is a mere third of a mile. One and a half quarter repeats! I actually remember my high school time (2:12, the temperature of boiling water : ) that put me right in the middle of the pack. What was regarded then as a mediocre time actually calculates to a 6:27 pace. If only I had more perspective back in those days. At the time, all I could think about was the painful burning in my throat and the relief that it was finally over.

A recent suggestion by my running and blogging buddy She Is Out Running brought back memories of the Six Hundred. SIOR proposed that she, TPP and I do a timed mile run. I thought that was a great idea. I’ve come to terms with my race times slipping over the past few years, but I’m still achieving credible times when I do repeats. A mile distance is a great way to see how far I can push my anaerobic capabilities.

Intervals (for most of us) are a combination of short but intense bursts of speed, followed by a similarly short jog or rest. The biggest challenge of running a flat-out mile will be to sustain that intensity for a much longer period. I can go full speed for 200 meters and maintain a 180 SPM cadence through a full quarter. After that I begin to fade. Maybe that was why running the 600 as a sprint was always so difficult.

The fastest mile I can remember running was a 7:51 at Long Beach that led to my 10K PR. I’d started at the front with all the hollow-eyed ectomorphs who took off at the gun like whippets. I was passed by a lot of people and thought I was having an off day. When I saw the Mile 1 timing clock, I realized those speedsters were running six and seven minute miles. So that’s why people use pacers!

Maybe speedsters SIOR or TPP can do a pace lap for me when I do my timed mile. I’d return the favor, but I fear my 6:27 days are far behind me.