The Runsketeers induct a new member

The Run Crew: ER, KWL, TPP, NIMC, SIOR

Today’s run (track): 3.25 miles

Today was a Runsketeer reunion run that coincided with TPP and her sister NIMC racing Rob’s Run, a 5K trail race that takes place at Stillwell Woods. SIOR was considering racing, but she was dealing with a head and chest cold. She decided instead to run with me and KWL across the street at the high school track.

KWL, SIOR and I met up at the tennis courts on Southwoods Road and did a warm-up jog to the track. Warm-up was the operative phrase because, according to Garmin Connect, the “feels-like” temperature was a chilly 34°. I’d brought a fleece vest to stay warm before my run and ended up wearing it the whole time. We reached the track and ran a few laps together before spotting TPP and her sister heading our way. It was the first time we’d met NIMC who was instantly inducted into the mighty Runsketeers.

NIMC lives in Minnesota and came to LI to spend Thanksgiving with family. She’s a very active person, an accomplished runner and frequent racer. It’s clear that speed runs in the TPP family. The two racers made their way back to Stillwell and the non-racers continued to circle the track. I decided to run clockwise after a while, because I do so much of my running on the left side of the street and I thought that might counterbalance it. I also did it because it gave me an opportunity to communicate with KWL and SIOR at least once a lap.

I ended up covering 12 laps, plus an additional .25 miles at the beginning. We then headed over to Stillwell to meet up with TPP and NIMC and watch them start the race. It was freezing and I could tell that TPP was anxious to get moving. I tried to manage her expectations that the huge crowd of runners (600 estimated), combined with narrow single track, would produce a slower time than a typical 5K run on pavement. Turns out I was wrong. NIMC PR’d and TPP ran sub-9:00 pace.

Rob’s Run start

SIOR, KWL and I headed to Starbucks after the racers took off. We managed to find a place to sit despite it being somewhat crowded. Soon after, TPP and NIMC joined us, looking like they’d barely broken a sweat. We had lots of discussions about running form, destination marathons and running at high elevations. SIOR wants to do the Maine Coast Marathon in Kennebunkport, KWL and his wife are going to run London and Berlin, and NIMC wants to run Athens. TPP and I are not hopping on the marathon train.

Selfie courtesy of  magnetic theory (and TPP)

Perhaps the funniest moment of the morning was at the end, when we were getting ready to go our separate ways. TPP was leaning her iPhone on the ridge of a column outside Starbucks to do a timed group shot. The column turned out to be metal and TPP has a magnetic gadget on the back of her phone for a car mount. That made it possible to stick the iPhone right on the column at the perfect height for a perfect selfie. That’s our TPP!

It was great seeing my buddies and meeting TPP’s sister today. Thanks to working at home on Wednesday, I was able to string together an elliptical session and four runs. SIOR has organized her army of friends to do a running streak (at least one mile a day) from Thanksgiving to New Year. So far, I’m on track, but unfortunately my streak will end tomorrow. I do hope to do at least four workouts per week whenever possible. That should count for something.

Race Report: 2014 GLIRC Runner’s Edge Trail Relay

First leg off and running (TPP is third from left)

Today’s run (GLIRC Bethpage 2×3 Trail Relay) 2 mile leg (Team finish time 56:05)

The weather finally cooperated enough to allow GLIRC to run the Runner’s Edge Relay this morning. This race was originally scheduled for February, but the unrelenting snow had made the trails at Bethpage State Park unrunnable. A little rain and a few days of 40 degree temperatures cleared out most of the snow, although there were still a number of icy and muddy sections along the path.

As the name implies, this race is a team effort with each member running one 2 mile leg. I haven’t been running well this year, but I did a few speed oriented treadmill runs earlier in the week and figured two miles wouldn’t be much to worry about. I was wrong about that. Today’s two miles didn’t feel endless, but I had much more difficulty that I’d expected. It was too late to help my teammates, but I discovered a large gap in my conditioning that I hope to address as I begin my half marathon training.

Runsketeers pre-race

Our team was called the Runsketeers, consisting of me and friends the Petite Pacer (TPP) and She Is Out Running (SIOR). SIOR had little prior trail experience, but she’s lightning on the road. She qualified for Boston this year and almost always wins or places in her age group. TPP is also very fast (she has racked up her share of podium spots) and takes performance training very seriously. Then there’s me. I used to be competitive in my age group and I’ve done a lot of trail running. These days I struggle to break 28 minutes in a 5K.

With that lineup, we decided to have TPP run the first leg, me the second and have SIOR bring it home. The idea was that TPP would put us in a competitive position, I would do my best to hold that and SIOR’s speed would help gain back minutes and position. We didn’t really discuss it, but that was my reasoning.

TPP has been feeling under the weather this week and is still fighting a fever. She’s a tough competitor but decided to run despite feeling sub-optimal. Our backup plan was either to have Mrs. ER run TPP’s leg or have me or SIOR run two legs. We ended up with the original lineup intact. SIOR’s marathon schedule had her running 10 miles this morning prior to the race. She anchored our team after doing that long run on the hilly Bethpage bike trail. These women are amazing.

Me and Mrs. ER after number pickup

Team ER arrived at Bethpage around 9:00 AM and I collected our bibs and t-shirts. SIOR and TPP arrived about 20 minutes later. It was nice bringing together my running friends and my family. Our talking kept our minds off the fact that it was very cold and we didn’t have any place to keep warm. There didn’t seem to be that many participants, but the crowd grew as we got closer to start time.

We headed over to the starting area a little before 10:00 AM and the race began on time. Each leg started on the open field and led to a path into the woods that eventually connected to the main trail. TPP and the others disappeared into the distance and I was still thinking this would be relatively easy as races go.

First hand-off, from TPP

It wasn’t that long before we spotted TPP exiting out of the woods from the opposite side and soon enough we slapped hands and I took off for the second leg. I made the mistake of starting too fast and I paid for that later in the run. The trail conditions were (at best) wet and stable, and (at worse) muddy, icy, snowy, sandy and slippery. There were plenty of race volunteers along the course to keep us on track and warn us of trail dangers. I was disappointed to feel overtaxed midway through the leg and I slowed considerably when running in areas of deep mud and sand. Bethpage doesn’t have hills like Stillwell, but this course did have its uphill challenges.

SIOR ready to fly
Seconds after the hand-off

I was not in great shape by the time I reached the field. My family described my “sprint” to the relay hand-off as “slow motion.” SIOR took off quickly and gained back some minutes. We all gathered near the finish line chute and saw her come through after covering her leg in about 16 minutes. There are no results posted, but her effort undoubtedly helped our race position.

SIOR brings it in

PHOTOS COURTESY OF EMERGING RUNNER JR.

The reward for our hard work was found at the food table where they served muffins and cupcakes as big as softballs. They also offered hot chocolate and noodle soup that was described by my wife and kids as “fantastic.” I had a great time although I am disappointed with the way I ran. I’m determined to get back to my prior level and I have a training plan that I think will help. My Runsketeer teammates both put in impressive runs and I’m honored to be part of that group.

I may return to Bethpage tomorrow to do my first Half training run. It’s just five miles, but today was only two and that was no picnic.

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?