Running quote of the week

Running! If there's any activity happier, more exhilarating, more nourishing to the imagination, I can't think of what it might be. " - Joyce Carol Oates

Thursday, November 26, 2015

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.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

A run through the park and a stop at the Depot

Getting around
Today's run (street): 4.6 miles

I was feeling a lot better today and went out early to cover a little more distance than yesterday. I wasn't ready to take on seven miles, like I did last week, but I planned to break out of the confines of my neighborhood. After a loop around the local streets, I crossed through the middle school and made my way toward the adjacent business park.

I did my usual clockwise loop around the park and double-backed at the end to gain an extra half mile. I added more distance along a stretch that runs west of neighborhood #3 and finished up with a dash down the middle school parking lot. I haven't looked at the Garmin data to see how I paced, but I did throw in some fartleks throughout the run.

Later in the day I went out to take care of some errands and stopped into the Home Depot to buy a couple of small items. While I was there I became mesmerized by rack after rack of tools and I remembered that I needed a large pair of tongue and groove pliers. I felt extremely macho evaluating the selection and decided on a rugged Crescent 12" unit that I took home and fixed something on my to-do list.

I'll take the one in the middle
So, despite a bad start to the weekend, I managed a decent run today. And I got to play with a big wrench.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Pumpkin bread day run

Today's run (street): 3.5 miles
Yesterday's run (street): 2.25 miles

Once again the Emerging Runner household is enveloped with the aroma of baking pumpkin bread. Every year, since our kids were in kindergarten, my wife has set up a bakery to produce dozens of her (now) famous breads that she gives to family, teachers and friends. It's a sure sign that Thanksgiving is near when I see her and my daughter in the kitchen organizing the mixing bowls and ingredients.

I'm looking forward to having some later, even though I've felt ill since yesterday morning, I had a tough work week that continued through Friday. I worked from home yesterday and had an early meeting via Google Hangout. I was feeling pretty low and considered skipping my workout. My wife said the weather was perfect and that I should go out for a short run. So that's what I did.

It was warm enough to run in short sleeves and shorts and I did a couple of loops that totaled 2 1/4 miles. My minimum run distance is three miles, but I made an exception yesterday to accommodate my schedule and condition. Even though I only covered 70% of my typical Friday distance, it felt like a full workout.

This morning I still felt sick, but ignored that and prepared to run. It was more than a head cold and I considered the "neck up run, neck down rest" rule, This was not going to be a long run either, so I figured I was safe. A quick check of the weather prompted me to go with long sleeves and shorts. That was a good idea, as the 9 MPH winds made the temperature feel like high 30's.

I felt good throughout most of my run, but near the end I felt tired. I took a recovery nap after showering and that helped me rebound well enough to socialize with some visitors in the afternoon. I'm still feeling fatigued and wondering whether I'll be up for my Sunday long run. I'll play it by ear and see how I feel in the morning. I'm sure a little pumpkin bread will help.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Personal distance best at Bethpage

Hardly sweating after seven
Today's run (Bethpage bike trail): 7.1 miles

I was determined to make progress against my distance goals this morning and set my sights on the Bethpage trail. I targeted seven miles to make this my longest run this year. The chilly, high 30's temperature compelled me to pull my Opedix Knee-Tecs out of storage as well as a mid-weight quarter zip. All geared up, I headed out early because I knew it would take a while to get through this run.

I didn't bother to drive to the park because last week they were still charging to use the lot. I went to our regular rendezvous spot and immediately took off south. I do most of my Bethpage runs north of Haypath Road, but lately I've been missing the old trail. I took off south and quickly got past the short, steep hill that greets runners about a third of a mile into that route.

This morning I read an article in Runners World that encouraged hill-haters to embrace them for their conditioning benefits. I tried to keep an open mind as I encountered one hill after another. The Bethpage bikeway is rolling, with a few challenging hills and a lot of elevation changes. Sometimes these lesser hills seem like bumps and other times they seem mountainous. It may have been the mindset I got from the article, but none seemed that bad today.

Record breaker
My longest run in 2015 had been about 6.4 miles, so my plan was to turn around after 3.5 to guarantee my seven. Since I went out early, I had the path pretty much to myself. I appreciated the sights, sounds and maple-y smells of the late fall morning. The few who were out on their runs were friendly, although there were two teams of three cyclists who didn't quite get the concept of sharing the path. One of them passed me pretty closely and almost got the concept of my sharp elbow.

Despite my layers, I remained fairly comfortable as the temperature rose to low 40's. It struck me that today's run felt no more taxing than yesterday's, even though that was less than half the distance. With four workouts this week and my personal best for distance, I'll consider this a good week of running.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

A good way to use a run

Je suis pissed
Today's run (street): 3.3 miles
Yesterday's workout (elliptical): 30 minutes

Were this was a political blog, I would be writing a few hundred words about how disgusted I am that a group of cowards killed a bunch of people in Paris last night. But this is a running blog, so I'll keep it related to that.

I worked from home on Friday and had an early call, so I opted for an elliptical session to save time. I set the resistance higher than usual and really felt the effect of the workout by the time I finished. Another reason I'd stayed inside on Friday was the very high winds that made outdoor running unappealing. I was glad to see that conditions were milder when I got up this morning and looked forward to getting out.

After a couple of cups of coffee and and an hour watching the news, I felt deflated and unmotivated to run. It's been almost 15 years since 9/11, but I felt the same way I did after all that happened. I got my act in gear just before noon and went outside. The winds had picked up, so I dressed as if it was 10 degrees colder. That turned out to be a good choice because I remained comfortable through the entire run.

Running is therapeutic and I appreciated how it distracted me from the news. I followed my usual Friday route (although it's Saturday) and, despite dealing with some wind resistance, I got through my miles fairly quickly. The post-run lift put me back on track, and that has carried me through the day. I really hope to get out early tomorrow so I have time to cover a lot more miles, although the today's three were really appreciated.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Be the first on your block to have a running Interocitor

L to R: Alien, Tom Servo, Mike, Crow, Interocitor
Today's run (street): 3.2 miles

Black Friday will soon be here, and it's time for the barrage of holiday catalogs to land in our mailbox. I ignore most of them because I don't really care about kitchen tools, home furnishings or women's sportswear. However, I came upon something called Hammacher Schlemmer, America's longest running catalog. This is not a running catalog, but rather a social experiment to see if people will pay $129 for a cotton bathrobe just because it's described as "Turkish."

As I read through the pages, I became increasingly appalled by these products that looked like Dollar Store rejects marked up 5,000 percent. That is, until I reached page 41 that featured the "Exotic Virtual Adventure Run." This item looks like the Interocitor from "This Island Earth" (a film famously mocked by Mystery Science Theater 3000) attached to a treadmill. The description states that the system will provide a "virtual adventure in some of the world's most exotic locales."

Operators are standing by
The treadmill in the picture was a Matrix, so I wasn't shocked to see the $8,000 price. I was surprised to see that this silly looking product does not even include the treadmill. Assuming you have an iPad, that money would buy 2,000 different runs (assuming that many are available) for the Outside Active Virtual Runner app. This catalog also offers a $25 cheap looking plastic tire gauge with "digital readout" and an incredibly spindly looking Elipti-Go knockoff for $999.95.

I had no special gadgets on this morning's run, unless you count my Garmin. I went with short sleeve shirt under long sleeves along with running shorts, because the local news station was showing 50° in the lower right corner. I was afraid I'd overdressed, but once I stepped outside and felt the 14 MPH wind, I was grateful for the extra layer. It wasn't raining, but there was a lot of mist in the air, making for a cold and gloomy experience.

Today's run was a bonus for me, made possible by the Veteran's Day holiday. Due to the miserable conditions, I decided to cap my run at around 3 miles. I was glad to get in the workout and happy when I finished. I suppose I could have accomplished the same thing in the comfort of my own home, had I purchased the Exotic Virtual Adventure Run.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Rolling along at Bethpage on a perfect fall day

Pretty, hilly 
Today's run (Bethpage bike trail): 6.1 miles

I've been thinking about my running this year. Even though I haven't competed in a race since last December. I'm not missing racing. However, I do miss the discipline that comes with race training. As a result, my longest run this year has measured only 6.5 miles. When I was training for 10Ks and half marathons, my typical Sunday run would extend seven or more miles and go as long as 12. I'm not ready to commit to a half, but if I train like I'm going to run one, I may feel differently.

SIOR suggested a program called "Run Less, Run Faster" that is geared to people like me who have limited time to train during the week. I'm going to look into that plan, but I suspect it will expect me to run lots of intervals and hills. I did run some hills today and did fine with them. Intervals are okay, but I only enjoy them once I've finished.

My goal is to exceed my personal distance best (13.1 miles) that I've done on my half marathons. Technically, I would beat my personal best by running 13.11 miles, but my target is 14. People who run marathons may look at 14 miles merely as a stop along the way to 26.2. But every time I've finished a Half, I know I wouldn't have been able to run that additional tenth of a mile.

I kicked off my long distance training this morning at Bethpage with a 6 mile run along the bike trail. I naively drove to the park thinking that they were no longer charging admission to the lot. I don't begrudge the fee, but I didn't have any cash so I turned around. My friend who mans the booth would probably have let me in, especially since I wasn't with his sworn enemy SIOR.

I ended up parking on Runsketeer Road and ran south on the trail. I turned around at the point where the bike trail intersects with the main driveway into the park. I had already taken on the short but steep hill south of Haypath and was soon running up the big hill in the park. The crisp fall air, bright foliage and crunchy leaves on the trail made the climb tolerable. The bike trail is rolling, but that hill was the biggest challenge of the run.

I'd targeted 6 miles today, but I could have gone on a lot longer. I decided to stick with the plan and noted my distance as I passed my starting point. I did the math to determine how much farther I'd need to run before turning back. I ended up covering a little more than six miles.

If my schedule cooperates, I'll go for seven miles next weekend. Perhaps the Runsketeers will join me and show me how it's done.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Why we spend $100 for running shoes

Run away!
Today's run (street): 4.4 miles

My new reality is long busy work days. I'm not complaining (well maybe a little) but my work schedule did take a bite out of my running this week. I made it into the city on Thursday for an industry meeting and saw my buddy and fellow Runsketeer, KWL, who ran the NYC marathon last weekend. I probably covered 20K steps that day, so at least I burned some calories.

We had to go out east this morning, which required me to get out early for my first run of the week. Even though it's early November, the temperature felt more like late September and the cloudy skies helped keep things cool. I had no particular route in mind when I took off and ended up circumnavigating the middle school before heading to the north end of my neighborhood. There was a little humidity, but otherwise conditions were fall-perfect.

We spent much of the day in eastern Long Island and we stopped at Target before we headed home. While my wife and kids looked for stuff on their lists, I ambled over to the men's section that has the Champion C9 line of athletic clothes. They had some nice, lightweight vests that would be perfect with a long sleeve running shirt on a 30° morning, but the price was higher than I was prepared to pay.

Out of curiosity, I looked in the shoe section, where they sell C9 running shoes for $29.99. Most of the big running shoe brands have entry level models that Dick's and Sports Authority sell for $50-$60. These shoes may not have the advanced technologies and features of their flagship models, but they generally provide a decent fit and feel. I decided to try on a pair of the C9 Drives to experience the difference between them and the ASICS Kayano 20s I was wearing.

Drive this off a cliff
The C9 shoes did not seem junky and I wondered what they'd feel like on my foot. After realizing they ran a half size bigger than most of the shoes in my collection, I found a smaller pair and tried them on. My first impression of the Drives was that they had almost no cushioning. That isn't a show stopper for me, because I like a minimal shoe. But when I stood up and took a few steps, I realized why I typically spend $100 or more for Sauconys, ASICS or Brooks.

The lack of cushioning and a poorly constructed mid-sole resulted in a lumpy, uncomfortable foot bed. I suddenly understood the difference between quality brands and cheap $29.99 knockoffs. I've been fortunate to either receive shoes for testing from the manufacturers, or find great discounted running shoes at places like SA Elite or Famous Footwear. Believe me, paying $60 for a pair of $100 running shoes is a much better deal than paying $30 for "bargain" trainers.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Marathon day but not a marathon run

I ran 1/6th of this distance today 
Today's run (street): 4.25 miles

After yesterday's horrible run I was a little gun shy about going out again this morning. Daylight Savings Time allowed me to sleep until 6:30 AM and still get up at 5:30 and I was hoping the extra rest would help. I think it did. I told my wife that I was worried about having another bad running experience but she dismissed the thought, saying every run is different. I managed to get out of the house early and my Garmin quickly acquired its signal. I wasted no more time thinking about how I'd feel once I got going.

I usually think out my route and distance before I run. Today I took off in a random direction thinking I'd figure it out as I went. I soon determined that yesterday's struggles wouldn't carry over to today and I focused on getting through the run as quickly as possible. I was anxious to get home so I could watch the NYC marathon coverage on TV and track a number of friends who were running.

I felt much better today and it was enough to improve my overall pace by 42 seconds per mile. There was a pronounced wind that both helped and hurt depending on which direction I was going. The temperature was 59° but I began to feel the heat due to the 72% humidity. I'd paid no attention to my time or distance and thought I'd only gone about 3.5 miles when I got back to my house. I was surprised to see that I'd run more than 4 miles.

It was fun to watch the the coverage of the elite runners when I got back. I had a half dozen people that I wanted to track and I was excited to find that FS was also running when I looked her up. I enjoyed being able to follow people's progress by laptop and wished that the network spent more time covering non-elite participants.

Watching the marathon was fun and I keep waiting for the racing bug to return for me. For now I'm happy to run on my own terms. I'm more interested in training to beat my PB for distance in a single run (13.1 miles) and I plan to start on that next weekend. Once I get my base up, I might be looking at 10Ks a little differently.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

One run interrupted, one run horrible

Today's run (street): 3.3 miles
Yesterday's run (street): 3.2 miles

Happy Halloween. It's hard top be spooky when you go out trick or treating at noon, but I saw a lot of little witches and goblins during today's mid-day run. We have weekend visitors and I delayed my workout so I could spend time with our guests this morning. It may have been the late start, but this was possibly my worst run of the year. More on that in a bit.

I had hopes of covering close to 20 miles this week like I typically did a couple of years ago. My vacation day on Wednesday got me off to a good start and I added to that on Friday morning. Since I work from home most Fridays, I use the time I normally commute to get in my miles.

That system had been working well until one of my work colleagues decided that early Friday morning was the perfect time to reach me. In those cases, I've either let the call go to voice mail or kept it very short. I was about a mile into my run yesterday when I heard the phone ring. I almost ignored it, but once I saw who it was, I knew I needed to answer. Ten minutes later was on my way, although my momentum was lost and a new work issue was on my mind.

Today was a different story. I wasn't feeling my best throughout the morning and hoped my energy would return by the time I was ready to hit the road. I got off to a slow start as I left my house, so I figured I'd keep it easy. I could tell right away that I wouldn't be up for my targeted five miles but hoped I'd gain strength throughout the run. Instead, I felt increasingly fatigued and even reached a point where I wanted to stop. Although I only covered a little more than three miles, the run felt endless.

I was thrilled when I finally reached my driveway. The run was a disaster, but at least I got it done. I looked forward to a relaxing afternoon that eventually gave way to a house full of Halloween-partying teenagers. It's been a noisy evening.

Tomorrow is a big day for two of my friends, but for different reasons. KWL and his wife will be running the NYC marathon and I'm wishing them perfect race conditions. Runsketeer SIOR will be celebrating yet another birthday (she's quite elderly) and plans to watch the marathon from her favorite spot in Queens. I'm hoping that tomorrow's run goes better than today's. It could hardly go worse.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

20th anniversary run and fun

Getting the scoop (or the schmear) at Bagel Boss
Today's run (street): 3.5 miles

I took the day off from work today because it was my 20th anniversary. Besides enjoying the luxury of sleeping until 5:30 AM and not driving 35 miles and back today, I got in a nice morning run. The weather is currently monsoon-like, but just before 8:00 AM it was cool and overcast with nary a drop of humidity. I like to start my weekday runs at 8:00 because that gives me about 40 minutes between the caravan of high school and middle school buses and the secondary wave of elementary school buses and kid drop-offs.

The buses don't bother me that much because I can hear or see them coming at a safe distance. I always hop onto the sidewalk in those cases. Parents dropping off their kids are a different story. They're typically aggressive speeders who don't even pretend to slow down for stop signs. I stay hyper aware at all times.

This morning I saw a car that was going at least 10 MPH faster than the speed limit almost collide with a car coming around a blind corner from the opposite direction. Besides that, I ran past a house as a car started backing out of the driveway without looking. I anticipated that and she heard my yell loudly and clearly.

The rest of the day was spent doing various anniversary-like things, including having lunch at our favorite Thai restaurant and going to Home Dept twice. We also walked into a location shoot that the local news station was broadcasting from a neighborhood shopping center. I have no idea what they were talking about, but it appeared to be bagel-related.

Tomorrow it's back to work, which doesn't seem fair as today felt so much like a Friday. Still, I did get in my run and I'm looking to do the same on Friday morning. We have family staying part of the weekend so I have to remember to grab my Saturday running gear out of the guest room before they arrive.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Eco challenged and rainy run

Imagine this car much dirtier
Today's run (street): 3.5 miles
Yesterday's run (street): 5.3 miles

Yesterday was extremely busy and I didn't get a chance to post anything about my run. Although I'd made a goal of breaking out of the confines of my neighborhood at least once every weekend, I didn't have time to do that on Saturday. I decided to cover some less familiar ground on local roads to make the route more interesting. And it was a little interesting.

After running a mile or so around my own neighborhood, I headed over to the adjacent business park to run the main loop. On my way out of the park, I noticed a rough looking Delorean making its way slowly up the road belching thick black smoke. Obviously a problem with the flux capacitor. With all the gleaming Deloreans shown in the news this past week because of Back to the Future time travel date, this seemed ironic, not to mention environmentally unfriendly. I thought those things ran on garbage.

Soon after that, I began to notice that many people's homes still had their sprinkler systems going despite the pact that we're in late October and the temperature was in the mid 40's. It seemed to be the day for eco-criminals, but the beautiful fall weather helped offset my annoyance. I covered more than 5 miles, which was my plan, and got home in time to stay on schedule. Our evening plans kept us out late, so the blog had to wait.

This morning I was hoping to run at Stillwell Woods or at the wooded trails at Bethpage, but the possibility of rain discouraged that. When I stepped out around 8:00 AM for a run in my neighborhood, the light rain was beginning to increase in intensity. I considered getting my waterproof running jacket or even taking my workout indoors. I decided to stay out despite the wet conditions. The rain was steady, but it wasn't a downpour. I did regret that I had my Kinvaras on instead of a more water friendly shoe.

Rainy run
I ended up fairly soaked, but it was more rain than sweat. I had one experience with a driver who was frantically trying to get his car into the drop off circle of the middle school so he didn't have to park in a lot that was 50 feet further away. As I ran through, I could tell he was focused solely on getting past the other cars. I yelled "Hey!" so loud that he practically slammed on his brakes. These people drive like animals and that's an insult to animals.

The Emerging Runner family caught up with Adventure Girl via Hangout  a little later and it was great to see her. She recently ran a 54 mile unsupported Ultra! That's 40.9 miles farther than I've ever run at one time. I think I'll make a goal of running longer than I ever have in a single run. That would be 13.2 miles. Hey, I may even go for 14!

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