An end to tepid hydration

My formally stingy bottle

Today’s run (Bethpage bike trail): 5.1 miles

The Dirty Sock 10K was held today, but I opted to go solo with a run on the north end of the Bethpage trail. Last weekend the Runsketeers owned that route, so it would have been redundant to return for the race. Besides that, today’s weather was fairly unpleasant for running. Garmin said the “feels like” temperature was 83° with 62% humidity. If it was that hot and humid on the bike trail this morning, the Dirty Sock course must surely have been oppressive.

I didn’t feel like doing another neighborhood run, so I headed to Bethpage with no particular plan except to start on Colonial Road. After a mental coin toss, I chose to go north as far as the Washington Ave overpass, that would get me about five miles out and back. It was the usual mix of walkers, runners and cyclists on the trail, although I did see a guy on an ElliptiGO about halfway through.

I carried an 8 oz. bottle of spring water that quickly warmed to body temperature in my hand. I was concerned about dehydration, so I continued to drink from it even though it provided no refreshment. Later in the day, I looked at insulated running hydration bottles in a couple of stores, but I’m always underwhelmed with what I find in stores.

I’ve been frustrated with my expensive Ultimate Direction bottle that, up until today, refused to give up any water no matter how hard I squeezed it or chomped on the bite valve. I challenged my kids to figure out the problem this afternoon and of course they did. So now I have a great, insulated 21 ounce bottle to take with me on my next long run.

There and back

My five miles went by fairly quickly, probably because I know the path so well I know exactly what’s left to cover at any time. I don’t need to go into the office tomorrow and I’m hoping to demonstrate some discipline and get out early before the heat comes. Is it time to return to the track for some speed enabling repeats? Probably. Will I? Maybe.

First foray up and down the Massapequa Preserve trail

Uphill in both directions

Today’s run (Massapequa Preserve trail): 6 miles

This morning the TV weather people were having a field day about how hot and humid it would be today. Hot and humid are two of my least favorite words when it comes to running weather. It was no surprise, since they’d been talking about that since Friday because of the the NYC Triathlon that was happening today. I knew I’d also need to deal with those conditions, as I planned to meet up with SIOR to run the second half of my six miler in the Massapequa Preserve.

Running with SIOR, even when she’s doing her easy long runs (14 miles today), is really more like running after SIOR. Still, misery loves company and it was fun to meet up on the trail and run for a few moments together. She waited up for me a couple of times and we had a nice recovery pause at one point. Although we only talked for a few minutes, we managed to cover some pretty gross subject matter. You have to know SIOR to understand that’s not at all unusual.

During my half marathon training periods, I would frequently run as far south as the Preserve, but I’d never made it to the start of the trail head. Today, that’s where I started. I parked in the Massapequa train station lot and quickly got onto the bike trail. My hope was that the expensive Ultimate Direction water bottle I’d bought a couple of years ago would be just the thing to keep me hydrated. I remembered having trouble with the bottle’s bite valve when I first got it and tested it today before I left the house. FAIL. I brought along a couple of Poland Springs water bottles instead.

The start and finish point

The Massepequa trail is verdant and has lots of dirt side trails. It also has tenth of a mile markers, unlike the Bethpage trail. I started my run shortly after 9:00 AM and the trail was already full of people. Many more cyclists than I’m used to seeing on the northern end. The trail seemed pretty much uphill until I reached Linden street, located just south of the Southern State overpass.

Once I cleared that challenging rise, I ran another half mile until I saw SIOR coming from the other direction. In order to get her full 14, we ran north another quarter mile and turned around. SIOR said the last three miles were mostly downhill and that made sense because it seemed pretty much uphill until that point. Here’s the thing I noticed about Bethpage (and apparently the Preserve): it always seems uphill, no matter which direction you run.

On the way back, I kept expecting to see the path sloping down gently and easing me through my final three miles. Strangely, the trail seemed mostly uphill the whole way back. It was like an MC Escher painting come to life. I knew there was nothing to do but run until I came to the end of the trail. Once I saw the bridge over the pond, I knew I was getting closer. When I saw that I was mere tenths away from the trail head, I was thrilled.

SIOR was already in her aircraft carrier-sized SUV when I caught up with her. She offered to drive me over to my car and the blast of AC that hit me was extremely welcomed. I must have looked like hell because she kept asking me if I was alright. She and her family were heading to the beach and I was heading home to spend time with the family in the pool.

TPP was in NYC because her paramour/trainer JC was participating in the NYC Tri (as was our friend KWL). Both of them did really well. We missed TPP, but then again we always do. I’m hoping the Runsketeers can all run together soon. It’s almost August and we agreed to do it once a month. So far so good.

Distance and dehydration

I should have bought water at the farm stand

Today’s run (street): 5.75 miles

I managed to get out a little earlier this morning than I did on Saturday and it felt cooler and less humid. That was a good thing, because I ended up doing my longest run of 2015. I didn’t really have a distance target, but I knew I would be spending time on  roads east of my neighborhood that would easily get me to 5 miles.

I’d originally thought that I’d cut through the area I call neighborhood #3 to get to the northern point of the Bethpage bike trail in Woodbury. I changed my mind during the run, opting instead to head for the business park to run the main loop. I did one rotation before making my way to neighborhood #3 and then followed Woodbury Road to my usual turnaround spot at Piquets Lane. I tagged the pole and took a selfie in front of a local farm.

By that time, I had passed the 40 minute mark. The heat and sun made me regret that I hadn’t brought water with me. I was pretty dehydrated and a little hungry. A gel would have been nice at that moment. I often bring a bottle on my long training runs at Bethpage, but I rarely do that when I’m running on local roads. With temperatures in the 80’s, I need to get in the habit of bringing water every time I run.

Today’s rambling route

I took it a little easier on my way back and had to be careful to avoid some slippery patches of mud on the sidewalk on Woodbury Road. I was surprised how quickly I made my way back home from there. I saw that I was approaching six miles, which would have been a good distance target. I didn’t make six, but I did come close.

I ended up covering 14 miles running this week, and also did a 30 minute elliptical session. It wasn’t the 18 miles I’ve averaged through the years, but I’m gaining distance every week. Next week I’ll look to go even longer. The Runsketeers are doing our June run next weekend. It’s always easier to cover long miles with my buddies.

Flexr running bottle, I hardly knew ye

Have you seen me?

Today’s run (Bethpage bike trail): 6.25 miles

This morning I met up with my running buddies to take on Bethpage’s northern bike trail. We haven’t run together since the Brooklyn Half (technically, only TPP and I ran together that day), so it was fun to regroup. Now that the weather is warming up, I’ve been thinking that I need to carry water on longer runs. I’ve had little luck with running bottles, but a company called Flexr Sports had sent me one that interested me, so I decided to try it today.

SIOR was waiting on the trail when I arrived at our rendezvous spot. I told her I was thinking of carrying the Flexr bottle today (she has one as well) but I was concerned about the weight (my bottle held 21 oz.) and its lack of a hand strap. I tossed it back in the car, but SIOR mentioned the rising heat, so I decided to take it along after all.

TPP arrived at that moment and we quickly decided to go north. I wanted to cover six miles today, TPP was thinking 6-8 miles and SIOR, who had already run a mile, was thinking about going beyond the Cold Spring Harbor Labs publishing building. We ran together long enough to hear the details of SIOR’s missing kitten saga (everything turned out fine!), but we separated by pace soon after that.

In terms of pace, mine was the slowest. That didn’t discourage me, but I wished I could get closer so I could participate in the conversation. Of course, if I did push myself to their pace, I wouldn’t have been able to contribute anything but gasps and grunts. My friends waited for me to catch up at the road crossings and that proved valuable for planning the next stages of our run.

The last section of our route, between Washington Ave and Sunnyside Boulevard, is very hilly going north. It’s so hilly that I tend to use the LIE underpass as my turnaround point instead of taking on that challenge. But the Runsketeers don’t shy away from hills, so I dutifully followed them up and over. TPP has had some recent struggles with endurance and speed (as have I) but today she moved along very well.

TPP and I reached Sunnyside after SIOR, who had continued on further north. We turned around at that point (3 miles) and headed back to our starting point. We knew SIOR would catch up to us eventually. Soon after we crossed Old Country Road, we were all reunited when SIOR ran into us like a freight train from behind. She is very speedy.

Although both of my friends got out in front of me after that, I picked up my speed and ended up covering the last 1.2 miles in a pace range that I haven’t seen in a long time. It felt great to run harder as I got to the end and I enjoyed being cheered in by my buddies who had already finished. We took our traditional selfies after that. My skill in that area seems to be getting worse.

Um, how do you use a camera?

I ended up liking the Flexr bottle for its squeezable (rather than rigid) construction and its cap that worked much better than my Ultimate Direction bottle. I did wish it had a hand strap, but the shape helped make up for that somewhat. The bottle retails for about $11 and has disposible liners. I think it’s a bargain.

Flexr has removable liners – nice idea

Unfortunately, I had placed the bottle on the back bumper of SIOR’s car during our photo shoot and then forgot about it. Too bad, I was really starting to like it. We kept our other tradition of post run coffee at Starbucks and it was great to catch up. Soccer mom SIOR needed to leave first, but TPP and I hung in for a while and talked about running shoes and proprioception, a word I bungled badly, although TPP could pronounce it perfectly.

It was a great day to run and to be with running friends. I wish I’d remembered to take my Flexr bottle, but it won’t cost a lot to replace. In the meantime, I’m pleased with my progress. I didn’t run fast, but I was faster than yesterday. As long as things keep going in that direction, I’m okay. Speed work soon. I think that’s the only way to return to past performance levels.

Fast Draw water bottle is leaving me dry

Stingy valve

Today’s run (treadmill): 25 minutes

I tend to over-plan for races, sweating the details a week or so ahead of time. I do this in order to minimize race day surprises. Detailed planning generally works out for the best when I do this, and the bigger the race, the more I plan. One area of focus this week is hydration. Should I carry water? Gatorade? Nuun electrolyte mix? Should I use water stations instead? After experimentation, I’ve decided to go with water + gels. That seems right.

Still, the method of water conveyance remains undecided. After my Amphipod handbottle began to leak, I replaced it with an Ultimate Direction Fast Draw unit. It has an insulated wrap, gel pocket and rubber bite valve. When I put it in my hand, it seemed enormous, but that also meant I would be able to carry five more ounces of water than I could with my Amphipod.

I thought I’d try a test run with the UD bottle, in experior, as I wound down my training this week. When filled, the bottle seemed even more massive, but I kept an open mind. I ran on the treadmill this morning because of the rain, and carrying this water bottle made things slightly more complicated. The weight of the bottle concerned me, and I began to wonder if I’d want to carry it for two-plus hours on Sunday.

About a minute into my run I took a sip of water. Actually, I tried to take a sip, but I couldn’t draw much water from the opening. I became concerned thinking, “How hard should it be to get water from a device that’s specifically made to deliver water?” The answer was very, very hard. I put the bottle aside for the remainder of the run and decided on the spot to use water stations, rather than carry water, during the race

When my wife came in to use the treadmill, I mentioned my trouble with the UD bottle and she promised to look at it. She tends to do better than me with mechanical challenges. Since then, she has figured out the method to get water from the bottle (not so easy, actually) but I am sticking with my decision. As I recall, there are numerous water stops along the way, so I’m not risking much by running bottle-free.

I’m disappointed with my experience this morning but this is why we test!

Finding my ultimate direction

Ultimate Direction Fastdraw Extreme

Today’s run (treadmill): 25 minutes

It rained overnight so I finished my work week training this morning with a treadmill run. I no longer despise the treadmill, but I don’t particularly like it either. What’s good about the treadmill is the control that it provides. I can better manage my schedule, because it takes half the time to prepare for a treadmill run compared to an outdoor run. Running outside often requires more layers, along with the extra gear like a reflective vest and headlamp.

The treadmill also allows me to lock into a fixed pace or set an incline at will, and I never have to worry about running out of time when I’m half a mile from my house. On the other hand, running indoors provides little visual or atmospheric stimulation. Inside and outside running both have their pros and cons, but I still prefer to run outdoors when I have that option.

I’ll be going out for my last long base run tomorrow and I’m hoping that I have a better experience than last week, when I only covered 9 miles. I ordered an Ultimate Direction water bottle after researching opinions on the web. This model has an insulated wrap and, supposedly, a better designed valve on the top. I won’t be able to test it until it’s delivered next Tuesday. I’ll need to decide whether to go with it, or whether to run without a bottle.