Runsketeers have the run of a "Lifetime"

SIOR asked me to substitute her face with the first lady’s 

Today’s run (Bethpage State Park Bike Trail): 5.1 miles

After Friday and Saturday’s mild weather, today’s 32° (with wind chill) felt darn cold this morning. I met SIOR and KWL at the lot in Bethpage State Park where SIOR was scheduled to lead a run for Lifetime Fitness. Unfortunately, our stalwart pal TPP was not able to join us today. She does very long bike trips with her cycling friends (I suggest she nickname them the Bikesketeers) and needed some recovery time.

KWL and I hung out in my car while we waited for SIOR to arrive. There was a guy dressed for running who was waiting in the lot, but we couldn’t tell if he was there for the group run. Once SIOR finally showed up, I tried to subtly convey that we were the Lifetime group by saying Lifetime really loud a couple of times. The guy didn’t respond and I’m guessing he looked at us and decided he’d be better off running alone, which he did. That turned out okay because I’d brought fresh pumpkin loaves for my Runska-buddies (baked by Mrs ER and ER daughter) and it would have been embarrassing not to give him one.

With that settled, we decided to run six miles. When I say “we”, I mean SIOR. I wasn’t sure I’d be up to doing six today and as it turned out, I was right. The plan was that KWL and SIOR would go three miles, turn back and intercept me as I progressed to the turnaround point.

The first obstruction to the plan came about a mile and a quarter after we’d started, when SIOR and KWL saw a sign that the bike trail was closed. We decided that meant closed to everyone but the Runsketeers so we kept going. That meant occasionally squeezing through barriers that reinforced that the trail was closed. We weren’t the only ones who ignored the sign’s suggestions.

I saw a few other runners and a father and his pre-adolescent son riding bikes. The bike riders ignored the fact that cars come quickly off the roundabout west of Quaker Meeting House Road and I almost witnessed a terrible accident. Thankfully the SUV’s driver was paying attention and stopped in time to let these oblivious riders cross. I yelled at the father who didn’t stick around to debate me.

Felt like freezing

I decided to run five miles rather than six, and turned around after I’d reached the  2.5 mile mark. I wondered how long it would be until I heard the footsteps of my run mates coming up behind me. I was surprised when I reached the final mega-hill without being overtaken. I made it back to my car and waited for my friends to come in.

It turned out that SIOR had experienced a problem with her toes and needed to walk that off before resuming her run. Soon enough, I saw KWL coming down the final hill into the lot, followed a minute or so later by SIOR. We immediately headed to our post-run coffee spot.

There were no free tables at Starbucks, but SIOR managed to intimidate a couple into leaving. I didn’t complain. KWL, SIOR and I covered a lot of topics including fasting and nutrition, Orthodox practices on the Sabbath and how we will survive despite the awful thing that happened on November 8. We spent time talking about guns and the dumb things that happen when people use them (let me be clear – we are not gun supporters). Without TPP, the technology talk was minimal and we missed her. I’m really hoping the gang can get in another run in December

I ended up having a busy afternoon spending more time than advisable in the windy freezing weather. It’s not getting any more pleasant outside so I’m going to stay in for the rest of the day. A slice of pumpkin bread and a cup of dark roast sound like a good way to round out the day.

Giving some credit to my NB Zante V2s

These are a few of my favorite things

Today’s run (street): 4.4 miles
Yesterday’s run (street): 3.2 miles

I didn’t really think much about running this week but it didn’t stop me from having two good runs since last Sunday. Friday was a work from home day and I ran early so I’d have time to shower. I needed to be presentable in video meetings. Although they can’t tell I’m wearing sweats, they can still see my face.

It was 48 degrees but the air felt chilly when I got outside. I probably overdressed but the weather didn’t make me regret the light short sleeve shirt that I wore under my top layer. The cool weather prompted me to start fast. Looking at my splits, I saw why that pace wasn’t sustainable. All the same, I missed averaging in the nine minute range by only a few seconds.

As I ran along, I thought about my New Balance Zante 2s that I bought to replace my venerable Kinvaras. I think the Zantes may be my favorite running shoe of all time. Like the Kinvaras, they are light, low and surprisingly well cushioned. Unlike the Kinvara, they are slightly less flexible and that’s why they’re working me for right now. The energy return is good and they respond very well on grass.

Since switching to the Zantes, my cadence has increased 1.2% and my average stride length has increased 5%. Some of that increase is due to my focus on heart rate, but I do credit these shoes for helping me move along.

This morning was ten degrees cooler than Friday, but I dressed about the same. That worked out, although, in the 40 or so minutes that I ran, the temperature rose almost five degrees. I tried to push as hard as I did on Friday, but I wasn’t quite able get to match yesterday’s speed. I see that my pace has increased in recent weeks relative to HR, which I see as evidence of improved fitness. I’m almost 30 seconds per mile faster at 80% HR max than I was a month ago.

I’m not sure what I’ll do tomorrow but I’m thinking about running in the woods at Stillwell or Bethpage. I’m curious to see if my newfound speed will carry over to more technical terrain. I’d also like to do some speed drills to help further increase my cadence. If I can get myself out early enough, I may go to the track instead so I can run before the crowds show up.

Not every run is stimulating

Four miles in da hood

Today’s run (street): 4.2 miles
Yesterday’s run (treadmill): 2 miles

Friday morning was cold and blustery and I needed to get out early for an errand. Due to major time constraints, I opted for a quick treadmill run that I figured would be better than postponing my workout until later. I wasn’t sure how long my work day would go and it was also my anniversary. I didn’t think it would be polite to delay our dinner by doing an early evening run.

I ended up running a couple of treadmill miles and loved that the Garmin FR 35 captured all my metrics without a foot pod or chest strap. I should have gone all out during that short workout, but I chose to start off at my current pace. I bumped up the speed once I reached the second mile and I finished in the mid nine minute range. It was a good use of the small window of time that I had.

This morning’s schedule was a little more flexible and the weather was decent. It was 39° when I went out and I wore track pants and two light layers on top. That would have kept me comfortable throughout the run, but the temperature rose four degrees in the 40 or so minutes I was out there.

I’m still not used to starting strong since most of this year I’ve lacked energy during the first minutes of my runs. I expected to go easy today and was prepared to run a little slow. Somehow I ended up doing better than normal. I’m improving but still running half a minute off my targeted pace.

Today’s run was pleasant but my neighborhood roads were not very stimulating. The only interesting thing on my route was the work being done using heavy equipment at the middle school. Steamrollers are cool. I hope to go somewhere more interesting tomorrow and cover about five miles. I may do even more if conditions are good.

Denial of both service and stimulation

Treadmill data more stimulating than treadmill

Today’s run (treadmill): 4 miles
Yesterday’s run (street): 3.1 miles

This weekend’s weather isn’t great for running, but I managed to get in a couple of workouts today and Friday. Yesterday my friend and portfolio advisor (Steve) came by for one of our periodic financial reviews. Before we got down to business, we hit my neighborhood roads for a tidy 5K run.

Steve is a Crossfit guy whose workouts focus primarily on strength training and high intensity activities. Cross-fitters incorporate running into their training, but it’s typically 400 meter intervals between squats, push ups and other dynamic stationary exercises. I imagine it would be hard to adapt from intensely anaerobic workouts to an aerobic training event like running. Steve said the first mile is always his slowest. I’m guessing that’s due to the heavy cardio aspect of running.

Steve and I ran my typical Friday route and the pace we set seemed challenging to us both. We were surprised to discover that our speed did not reflect our perceived efforts. After Gmapping the route, I calculated that we’d averaged about 10:30 a mile. We did talk the entire time and that’s an indicator that we weren’t pushing all that hard. According to Garmin Connect, I averaged 76% max HR which is about nine percentage points lower than what I’ve recorded on recent high 9:00 runs.

After Steve and I finished up, I settled into my work, only to discover that my company’s email system was down due to the massive DDoS attack on Dyn. That was fine as I had plenty of non-email work to do and, fortunately, our other systems were accessible through the VPN. By 5:00 PM, our mail server started pushing through messages. I caught up with the most important stuff and left the rest for Monday morning.

This morning the weather had taken a turn for the worse. I’m willing to run in sub-optimal conditions but the howling winds, steady rain and chilly temperatures forced me to accept the treadmill as my only real option. My enthusiasm for today’s run dropped a few levels, but I dutifully got on board.  I set the speed to 5.6 MPH and edged it up to 6.1 throughout the run. Unlike running outdoors where you can see your progress, the treadmill provides very little sensory stimulation. I spent the entire time thinking about the wonderful moment when I would hit the stop button.

With humidity close to 100%, I felt all used up at the end. I’ve been hoping for more dramatic improvement in my performance but I’m leveling right now. Still, at this level, I’m running almost a minute per mile faster than I did in September. Yesterday’s humidity was 94% and today’s was worse, so I’ll blame that for not pushing any harder.

I’m excited that I’m going to see the Runsketeers tomorrow. Per my opening reference to the weather, the winds on Sunday are supposed to be fierce, with gusts up to 40 MPH and a real feel in the high 30’s. Should be fun.

Labor Day running and waiting for Hermine

Just keep heading east

Today’s run (street): 3.8 miles
Yesterday’s run (street): 5.1 miles

Happy Labor Day! After experiencing Irene and Sandy, we Long Islanders take tropical storm warnings pretty seriously. Since Friday, we’ve been planning for disaster and doing things like moving outdoor furniture and pool toys into the storage shed. The Nassau County Office of Emergency Management has broadcast messages warning people to take precautions due to anticipated 55+ MPH winds and flooding. Happily, the storm has taken a more eastern direction that will (hopefully) minimize impact. That said, we could still get rocked with strong winds tonight.

By Saturday morning I’d expected the rest of the weekend to be a washout. I resigned myself to a few boring treadmill runs and was really happy to see clear skies on Sunday morning. I didn’t get out until about 8:00 AM, but the 66° weather and 8 MPH breeze made for pleasant conditions. My prior two runs were three milers, so I felt like I should add some distance. I came up with a route that had me going around the neighborhood and through some roads that I don’t normally follow.

Since my Garmin’s strap separated from the watch, I’ve been hanging it off my SPIbelt. Without easy access to the watch’s display, I have to estimate how far I’ve ran. Occasionally I’ll hear the chirp notifying me that I’ve passed another mile. Most of the time I’m just guessing. I’ve probably done over 1,300 runs around my neighborhood over the last 7 years, so my guessing is usually pretty accurate.

Sunday: 5.1 miles by pure guestimation

I’d hoped to get out for 5 miles on Sunday. I ended up running 5.1 without looking once at my watch display. This morning I had no route plan or targeted distance. The skies were gray and conditions were cool and breezy. Once I got going, I decided I’d run about four miles, but I actually did 3.8. I could have restarted the watch and run the extra fifth of a mile, but I’d really poured it on towards the end and was happy with my results.

Monday: lower for distance, higher for speed

Although the temperature was 64° with a 13 MPH wind, I felt a lot of humidity. That could have been due to running the last mile at 9:15. While that may not sound very impressive, it’s a pace I haven’t run in a very long time. If I do end up getting a new Garmin, I will opt for the the FR235 with built-in optical heart rate monitor. Having that real-time feedback will force me to pay attention to my training zones and will hopefully ease me back to performance running.

Short and sweat

All the kings horses and all the black tape…

Today’s run (street): 2.6 miles

So very hot and humid this morning. I probably should have stayed indoors, cranked the AC, and set the treadmill and floor fans to max. Instead, I decided to brave the mid-August swelter. I can usually endure any type of weather for three miles (or in today’s case, something less to that) and would have done 3+ today, but I had very little time to run and shower before my first meeting of the day.

Gimme swelter

Despite conditions, I was eager to get outside,. When I picked up my Garmin, the bottom half of the strap separated from the top, despite the awesome repair work I’ve been doing with electrical tape. My sister-in-law told me about some material that will fix rubbery plastic like this wristband, but I fear it’s too late to save the FR210.

I ended up taping the watch all the way around and that secured it well enough to get through 2.63 miles. I really don’t want to do that every time I want to take it on a run. The watch itself works fine so I guess, for now, I’ll stick it in my SPIbelt. There is a hack to fix a Garmin that suffered wristband failure, but it requires that the first two loops that connect to the watch case be intact. One side is beginning to rip, so maybe not.

So what to do? I can continue carrying it with me or I could buy another watch. I’ve had this Garmin for about five years and it has served me well. I don’t like replacing technology that still provides utility, but in this case it wasn’t the technology that failed me.

No longer running like a broken down car

Out and back on the north trail

Today’s run (Bethpage bike trail): 4.4 miles
Yesterday’s run (street): 3.2 miles

Going back into the office after two vacation days was a challenge. I didn’t get back into workout mode until yesterday. I’m happy to report that I’ve maintained my nutritional discipline, cutting out the bulk of processed sugar in my diet and avoiding conditions that may spike blood glucose and insulin response. The results speak for themselves. I’ve lost some weight, gained more energy and I’m handling work stress far better than before.

As far as running, there has been impact, but no tangible performance gain. Using automobiles as a analogy, I would compare my running a month ago to one of those cars from the ’80s or early ’90s that I often see on my daily commute. These junkers sound like they need mufflers, transmissions and valve jobs and struggle just to keep up with traffic. It takes everything they have just to get where they’re going. That was me in June. I struggled through every run at paces that were 2-3 minutes per mile slower than I used to go, just a couple of years ago.

Using the same analogy, my current running is more like me in my car. I can keep up with traffic without struggling. If I want to drive faster, I can. The only reason  haven’t pushed the pedal any harder is that I’m enjoying running for the first time in a long time. I now look forward to getting outside instead of dreading the effort. The question is, when should I shift to focusing on pace?

Yesterday’s run around the neighborhood was easy and I threw in some speed at times. I’d gone out around 6:30 AM before the sun was baking hot and the humidity reached 90%. That would have been a good idea this morning, but I didn’t get to Bethpage until 8:00 AM when the temperature was already in the mid 80s and getting hotter.

I had the same energy at the start that I’ve experienced since my diet change, but I did have some trouble loosening up. It took about a half a mile before my stride felt fluid. The trail was fairly shady and it made a big difference when I was shielded from the sun. I didn’t feel as strong as I did on Friday, but the difference in temperature probably had a lot to do with that. Despite weather conditions making it tough, I still felt like I could cover more ground today.

I considered running past Washington Ave which would have extended today’s run to five miles. I had the energy, but I hadn’t fueled properly and didn’t want to overdo it. Better to run well and appreciate the effort than to go too far and regret it. The trail was full of cyclists today, many more than usual. Curiously, there three or four dead mice on the trail, something I rarely see. I also saw a fair number of bunnies who were happily hopping around.

If I can get my act together I may get out really early and run at the track. I’d like to do a few intervals to activate muscle memory and push myself out of my current pacing. I’m looking forward to running tomorrow, no matter where I go or what I do. That’s a great change in a very short time.

A long run and an unconnected home

Along the Bethpage trail

Today’s run (Bethpage bike trail): 5 miles
Yesterday’s run (street): 3.2 miles
Sunday’s run (street): 4.4 miles

Last Sunday I wasted so much time on a home technology project that I ran out of time to write about my run. I barely recall the workout and had to look at Garmin Connect to remember the route. It was around my neighborhood and not very memorable. Later in the day I took on the challenge of adding the internet of things to my home network, involving a linking hub and programmable LED bulbs. I expected that to take about 45 minutes. After resolving all the technical issues, it ended up taking over three hours.

As much as I wanted to run on Wednesday or Thursday, my work schedule didn’t allow for it. I didn’t have bandwidth to do a workout until Friday. I worked from home and wanted to get out around 6:00 AM. That’s when I typically leave for work and I often see runners around the neighborhood. I was curious if I’d see the dummy who runs in the middle of the street and never moves over when I’m behind him in my car.

The runners I did see were self aware enough to to keep to the left side of the street. I had a little more flexibility in my schedule yesterday, but decided to stick with my usual Friday route. It’s always a struggle resuming my running after not running for four days. After a couple of minutes I fell into a comfortable stride.

Weather conditions during my run

I had a early task this morning that delayed the start of my run. I ended up going to Bethpage for five miles on the northern end of the bike trail. The weather was near perfect, perhaps a little warmer than I’d have liked. I did fairly well on the hills, although I did get passed by a guy pushing a jogging stroller up a steep a section.

But not very well

I’m not sure where I’ll run tomorrow. It’s supposed to be very windy, although the weather reports aren’t talking about rain. Hopefully I’ll get to some other home projects on my list. I ended up sending back the bulbs and hub because the app used to control the system was pretty useless. Being a technical masochist, I’m planning to get a different brand and try again. Just like running, you can’t stop just because of one bad experience.

A great treadmill experience (finally!)

ER and SIOR take the indoor option

Today’s run (Lifetime Fitness treadmill run): 4.5 miles
Yesterday’s run (treadmill): 3.25 miles
Friday’s run (treadmill): 3.2 miles

I continue to battle a tough work schedule that makes it hard for me to fit in a fourth weekly workout. This week was no exception. There’s a lot happening at the office and it’s causing more meetings to push me past my usual departure time. I don’t get home as late as I did when I worked in the city, but post-dinner running doesn’t generally work for me. So it was three runs this week. All three on the treadmill.

I planned to run outside on Friday and put on my new running raincoat due to the misty conditions. As I prepared to go out, the skies opened up and my options switched to the treadmill or the elliptical. Since I didn’t do a mid-week workout, I opted for running.

I hadn’t run since last Sunday and I expected to have a tough time getting going. I was surprised to quickly find my stride and the minutes rolled by faster than my usual treadmill experience. I had limited time and cut it short after 3.2 miles. I played with tempo over the last mile and was able to get down to a decent pace.

Saturday’s weather was equally miserable, so it was back again on the treadmill. I didn’t have the same energy level as I did on Friday, but I pressed on. The minutes ticked by more slowly than on Friday and I didn’t start my progressive paces until I had 3/4 mile left to go. Still, it wasn’t as bad as some recent indoor runs.

This morning’s plan was to meet SIOR at Bethpage where she would lead the Lifetime Fitness group run. Unfortunately, the weather had gone from wet to worse overnight and plans were changed to running on the treadmills at Lifetime. As much as I dislike treadmills, there’s something I like about fitness center models and something I really dislike about running outside in 50 MPH winds.

When I met SIOR at the gym, she’d already completed a few miles. While she alerted the front desk that the workout was happening upstairs, I went to the locker room to take off my non-running layers. SIOR and I headed upstairs and I saw the huge gymnasium that had basketball courts and a rock climbing wall.

We found side-by-side Life Fitness treadmills and started them up. SIOR resumed watching a Netflix documentary about the Barkley marathons while I tried like heck to navigate to a watchable cable station on the monitor. I really didn’t need my screen because there was so much else to look at. The gym is enormous with lots of opportunities for people watching and lots of video screens that provided good distraction.

Treadmills as far as the eye can see

If Friday’s running felt easy, then today’s run felt effortless. Some of that was due to starting slowly. But even as I blipped up my speed every tenth of a mile, the run never felt difficult. I stopped when SIOR finished her planned ten miles and I ended up covering 4.5. SIOR had more training to do and I had to head out for a brunch. Before we said our goodbyes. SIOR showed me more of the gym, including the area with all the weight machines.

I wouldn’t have expected a treadmill workout to be so enjoyable but it was nice to be able to run along with SIOR. I really hope Lifetime gives her more resources to publicize these weekend events because it’s a great way to showcase the gym and attract new members. If our schedules work out next time, it will be fun to have the other Runsketeers on the run.

Of running and furniture

A metaphor for running

Today’s run (street): 4.1 miles
Yesterday’s run (street): 3.2 miles

“The miracle isn’t that I finished. The miracle is that I had the courage to start.” ― John Bingham, No Need for Speed: A Beginner’s Guide to the Joy of Running.

I always liked that quote because it sums up the fear so many people have about going out for their first run. Or maybe it’s about their first race. Either way, it’s about overcoming fear related to running. I have my own, similar quote, but it’s not about running. It’s about assembling a Danish modern dresser with directions that contain confusing illustrations with no words.

“The miracle isn’t that I managed to assemble this overcomplicated bunch of furniture parts that came with indecipherable directions. The miracle is that I had the courage not to ship it back to Denmark and ask for a refund.” ― The Emerging Runner.

Also, I haven’t finished assembling it.

Besides spending time on that project, I’ve actually gotten out for a couple of runs. I’d hoped to complete four workouts this week but my hopes for an after work elliptical session were dashed by a late day meeting on Wednesday. Thursday night I had to attend a business dinner and didn’t get home until 10:00 PM.

Friday was Mrs. Emerging Runner’s birthday and I took it as a vacation day. My kids were off from school so we celebrated the day together. I got out fairly early and did my usual 3 mile neighborhood loop. Despite some misty rain at the start, 94% humidity and 10 MPH winds, I was comfortable in shorts and a single shirt layer. I ran okay but I was impatient to get through it. No miracles on that run.

This morning I got out a little earlier and faced much colder conditions. I’ve been trying to be better about selecting running clothes that will keep me comfortable through my run rather than only at the start. The 16 MPH wind was more than I bargained for and I regretted not having an over the ears hat. I broke away from my local streets and ran over to an adjacent neighborhood in Woodbury after covering a little more than 4 miles.

I went back to dresser assembly in the afternoon and made some progress. I’ve discovered that putting this unit together works better when I just focus on one challenge at a time. Just like the expression, “run the mile you’re in”,  my approach is to assemble this thing one confusing instruction page at a time.