Running quote of the week

"I run because I am an animal. I run because it is part of my genetic wiring. I run because millions of years of evolution have left me programed to run. And, finally, I run because there's no better way to see the sun rise and set." - Amby Burfoot

Friday, September 4, 2015

Sidewalk running on a busy Friday morning

Hurry home K5s
Today's run (street): 3.2 miles
Yesterday's workout (elliptical): 30 minutes

It's Labor Day weekend and the end of the first week of school. Despite the heat wave we've had over the past few days, I know that fall weather will soon be here. I'm pretty excited about that. This morning's temperature was closer to 70 than 90, but it was still extremely humid when I stepped outside. I patiently waited for a phalanx of buses to go by and then I was off.

I knew it would be humid, so I kept a low effort for the first ten minutes. I've been eagerly anticipating the arrival of my Kinvara 5s, but I had to go with the Triumph ISOs today. That turned out to be a good choice because the high volume of traffic forced me onto concrete slab sidewalks a few times. The Triumphs provided a nice cushion from the extra hard surface, but I was still concerned about the possibility of tripping on the uneven sections. Halfway through the run, it seemed like all the school drop-off traffic was finished and it felt a little safer to be on the street.

Along the way, I ran by one of my wife's friends who was chatting with a neighbor in front of her house. We exchanged quick hellos, but I didn't have time to stop because I was on a split second schedule. I needed to be showered and dressed in time for a video call that was happening in 30 minutes. I got ready with only seconds to spare and did the call wearing gym shorts. Since my colleagues could only see my top half, that will remain a secret unless they read this post.

I did pretty well today despite the humidity and the fact that I haven't taken to the Triumphs. My new Kinvaras are due to arrive by 8 PM tomorrow, so I may not get to run in them until Sunday. I think it will be a little cooler on Saturday and plan to cover a little more distance.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Another Kinvara for the ER

This color was $52, the rest were more expensive
This weekend's runs (street): 8 miles total

This is the last weekend of summer before the kids return to school so we took off for some R&R. Due to that, I was limited in terms of running options. But between today and yesterday, I was able to cover a total of eight miles. The not so good news is that the upper thigh discomfort that I experienced as part of my ruptured disc has come back. It's not actually painful, but I feel it in every step and it's affecting my stride.

I'm doing some massage exercise to help deal with it. Fortunately, this discomfort only happens while I'm running. I ran with my Saucony Triumph ISOs today and it was a little better than with my Virratas that have pronounced heel wear on the lateral sides of both shoes. I've been researching shoes to replace the Virratas (my main shoe right now) and decided to go with the Kinvara 5.

Thanks to ShoeKicker, I was able to find a pair online for $52 with free shipping. I should see them sometime next week. I adored my original Kinvaras and the K3s have served me well for far longer than I'd deserved. I made the mistake of reading lots of user reviews that planted some doubt about the K5s.

The concern was mostly due to the Pro-Lock feature that the Triumphs also have. The K6 Pro-Lock is supposed to be worse, which is why I elected to get the 5s. I figure that everyone's foot is different and some people will always be disappointed. Despite some negative posts, most reviews were overwhelmingly positive, I'm hoping mine will be too.

Friday, August 28, 2015

ShoeKicker finds finds running shoe bargains

http://shoekicker.com/
Today's run (street): 3.5 miles

Back to the run today. I've been non-stop all week at work and getting home a little later than I'd like. Due to that, I wasn't able to fit in a workout last night. This morning I kicked off my weekend of running with a few loops around the neighborhood. The humidity was down, my energy was up and I thought I was really hammering my last mile. No such luck, but it was my fastest of the day.

Our plans this weekend may interfere with both my running and blogging so I'm glad I got out today. If I have time, I'll continue my search for my next pair of running shoes. The guy behind a new site and web app called ShoeKicker contacted me recently. That was timely, since I'm in the market for a new trainers.

ShoeKicker is a clever idea. Put in the shoe that you want to buy, plus your size and gender, and it quickly returns the best price on the web. There's a button to take you directly to the lowest offer, along with alternative sites that sell the shoe. The feedback I gave him was to add more capabilities to the site to bring people back more frequently. I also think it would be good for the app to provide some contextual information to help educate the user or provide an opportunity to price alternative models.

I miss the (defunct) Runners World shoe app and ShoeKicker could be a good, modern alternative. It has a clean design, easy to use interface and tells you how much you save in fun non-monitory terms. Dave, the guy behind the site, seems very interested in providing the best possible experience to his users. Check it out. Once I decide on my next shoe, I'll probably use the site to buy them.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Born that Way (running shoe version)

Mister minimal at Bethpage this morning
Today's run (Bethpage trail): 5.2 miles
Yesterday's workout (elliptical): 50 minutes

We are who we are, no matter what we're told to be. After the minimalist running shoe movement started by the book, "Born to Run", I broke from the traditional style of running shoe (Nike Turbulence, Brooks Adrenaline, ASICS 1130, Saucony Grid Tangent, Adidas Response) and took delivery of a pair of Saucony Kinvaras. It was love at first run.

I put 500 miles on that pair of Kinvaras before retiring them. It was a new design and Saucony hadn't yet figured out how to make the soles more durable. My last run in them was a nine miler at Belmont Lake the weekend before the 2011 LI Half Marathon. I finished that run with a sore knee that plagued me throughout the race and for a couple of months after that. Despite a bad end to a great experience with the Kinvaras, I was eager to explore more minimalist shoes.
The original Kinvara
I am not what most people would describe as an efficient runner but I do really well with lower, less cushioned shoes. Following the Kinvara, I ran almost 400 miles in the zero-drop Hattoris, followed by another 500 miles in a pre-production pair of Brooks Pure Drifts. I liked the connection to the road that I got with those shoes and followed the Pure Drifts with a pair of Kinvara 3s. I used the K3s on the road for over 700 miles before making them my treadmill shoes. They probably have 1,000 miles on them by now.

Last year I managed to snag a pair of ASICS Kayano 20s for the astonishingly low price of $64. I know people who swear by the Kayanos, calling them the Lexus of running shoes, for their highly cushioned but stable ride. My speed was suffering and I thought I'd change it up with a return to an old-school shoe design. My initial experience with the Kayanos was disappointing, but I like them better now, mostly as a casual weekend shoe.

Saucony provided me an opportunity to test the new Triumph ISO, a shoe similar to the Kayano but modernized and lightened. All the same, it's a lot of shoe and it's neither low nor minimal. With both the Triumphs and Kayanos in my stable, I should be happy, but I've find myself going with my semi-minimal Saucony Virratas that have close to 700 miles on them. The Virrata's out-soles are very worn at this point and I don't want to invite injury.

(I'll) take Five
Yesterday I looked at shoes at one of the big box sporting goods stores and didn't see much that excited me. They didn't have Virratas or Kinvaras and I didn't like the current models from Brooks, ASICS or New Balance. I may order the Kinvara 5s online (the 6s got some bad reviews because of a new lacing feature). I'm not sure they even make the Virratas anymore. Too bad, I thought it was a great shoe.

I ended up wearing my Kayanos on today's run. The original plan was for the Runsketeers to get together at Bethpage but my buddies weren't able to make it this morning. I parked on Colonial and ran south for about 2.5 miles before turning around for the balance of the run. Conditions were good, with no direct sun but the humidity was 83%. I brought my water bottle and that worked fine. The only problem was that 21 ounces of water is heavy to carry. I was wishing for a smaller bottle by the second mile.

Tomorrow I return to work after what felt like a very long vacation. I was happy with my running and the distance I covered. I also got in a couple of good elliptical sessions because I have some slight sciatica and the no-impact workout seems to help that. I may visit a couple of running stores next weekend in search of my next minimal running shoe. What can I say? I was born to run minimally.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Pouring without raining

 
Todays run (street): 3.5 miles

 As expected, I woke up around 5:30 AM to the percussive sound of rain on the skylight. This continued for at least an hour, but by 8:00 AM, conditions had improved enough for me to venture outside. The skies were dark and overcast and I couldn't tell whether the rain had completely stopped. Surprisingly enough, my Garmin grabbed a signal almost instantly and I was off.

I hadn't gone more than a few tenths before I felt a cascade of water drops as I rounded the first corner. Despite the rain, I decided to keep going. Interestingly enough, the "downpour" stopped as quickly as it came, and I realized the "rain" was merely droplets of water shaken off the trees overhead. I continued along, getting intermittently splattered every time I ran under a group of trees.

My route today was three 1.15 mile loops that started and finished in front of my house. As time went on, things began to dry and the tree showers became less frequent. The sun started showing through the clouds, but not enough for me to regret leaving my sunglasses at home. It was a decent run and I was pleased that the weather hadn't relegated me to the treadmill today.

Tomorrow is supposed to be dry all day and, if I get out around 8:00 AM, the humidity level should be a tolerable 52%. That would be a big improvement compared to all my other runs this week. If I get in eight more miles over the next couple of days, this could be my highest mileage week this year.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Return to Brooklyn Half, without the Half

Post-finish, pre-tent spot
Today's run (street): 3.6 miles
Yesterday's workout (elliptical): 30 minutes

I'm on day 2 of my vacation and it's been a nice break so far. Yesterday's plans included a stop at Coney Island which looked a lot different from the last time I was there. That's because the last time I was pounding along the boardwalk on my way the Brooklyn Half finish line.

My memories of that time consist of 1) walls of screaming people lining the street and boardwalk, 2) grabbing the first banana and cup of water I could find, 3) making my way through the crowd toward the big (decommissioned) parachute ride where my friends had gathered after they'd finished, and 4) being "triaged" in the medical tent by a bunch of bored EMTs.

 Ahh, memories. No post race-type food on Thursday. Just good old Nathan's. Before any of that, I did an elliptical session to maintain my goal of running or otherwise working out every day of this vacation. It was humid yesterday, so I did what I could to maintain airflow, opening windows and running the big fan at top speed. That helped but by the end, the humidity won.

This morning it was back to the road. Between the workout and all the walking yesterday, my legs felt like rubber. All the same (and probably due to consuming the equivalent of 20 Kw of carb energy at Nathan's) I was ready to run. I did what I could to mix up the route and was pleased with how I ran, despite conditions that felt even more oppressive than on Wednesday.

Tomorrow is supposed be rainy, so I'll probably be stuck inside with either the treadmill or the elliptical. If it's misting or only lightly raining I may go for a run anyway. The humidity is brutal, but it always is in late August. I know it won't be long until I'm back to running in long sleeves and wool running socks.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

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.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

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.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Neighborhood run and some kicks to the head

Today's run (street): 4.6 miles
Yesterday's workout (elliptical): 35 minutes

Another week has gone by and, once again, I squandered my chance to fit in a mid week run. My excuses are weak, I've been busy at work and Thursday's commute home took 2 hours, leaving little time for a workout. I was concerned that I wouldn't even have time to do anything exercise-related on Friday, even though I was working from home. I managed to fit in an elliptical session before dinner and felt better about my workout delinquency.

Although I count on my 3 to 4 mile Friday runs to jump start my weekend activity,  I was perfectly fine deferring to the elliptical. I'm on vacation most of next week and I expect to run almost every day except for Tuesday, because I need to go into the office for an important meeting.

I got out this morning and had a nice run around some local roads. I'm still surprised when I look at my performance numbers that don't match my perceived effort. If I ignore what the Garmin is saying, my runs feel the same as they always have. I spent a lot of time running around the northern end of the neighborhood and crossed paths a few times with a woman who was walking on the right side of the street. I refused to acknowledge her each time, because I get mad when people do that and I'm really petty.

My perpetual motion friends, SIOR and KWL, both did long runs through Manhattan and Queens today. I think they may have done different organized events. I would have joined them but I had a family obligation plus they were talking about 14 mile routes (as if). Conditions were pretty pleasant when I went out  and I'm hoping that was also the case for them.

Earlier this week, my son came upon a bunch of old photographs of mine that have been in a box on a shelf for decades. Many of them were amusing, especially these three from the early 80's of me sparring with a friend.

Standing sidekick
Jumping front kick
Reverse spinning crescent kick
I don't think I'll ever get that flexibility back, but I miss the workout. The above pictures were Tang Soo Do techniques. My preferred style is an Okinawan form called Uechi-ryu that doesn't have big kicks. I can probably still do that. I've been thinking about going back to practicing some Uechi forms as a way to build anaerobic conditioning. I'm pretty sure I'll prefer that to track repeats.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Runs go by fast in good company

 
Today's run (street): 3.8 miles

Running with friends, even when I'm not technically running with friends, is always a positive experience. I've had numerous running partners over the past eight years and I can't remember a single run that I didn't thoroughly enjoy. As a result, some of the longest runs I've done have felt much shorter. It's all due to the company I keep.

It used to be easier for me to run with other people, because our paces would generally match or I would adjust to other's slower paces. I've lost a lot of speed over the past few years and I've now become "the slow one." Whether I can come back from that is another story. In the meantime, my "group running" is usually done mostly on my own, with a mile or two spent with friends who slow down to accommodate me.

Even with that, I still enjoy group runs because much of the experience involves the planning, the meet-up and the moments where we do interact. Yesterday, while my friends did multiple loops around the lake, I followed the trail back anticipating our reunion at the trail head and the time we'd spend together afterward.

A shared experience can be defined a number of ways. I may have covered half of my miles by myself on Saturday, but I still felt connected to the group. Time went by faster than it would have if I'd done this adventure on my own. The apr├Ęs-run coffee provides a chance for everyone to interact when it's not possible to do that on the road or trail. Yesterday I ran my longest distance to date in 2015 and it seemed to take less time than the two shorter runs that bookended it.

Today's run around my local roads was perfectly fine. Conditions were great and there were enough runners out this morning to make me feel like I was part of something. I'm very pleased with my activity this week, both in terms of running volume and number of workouts. I hope I can maintain that level going forward.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

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.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Cramming in my workouts

The Dirty Sock route
Today's run (street): 3.75 miles
Yesterday's workout (elliptical): 30 minutes

During yesterday's drive home I realized that I'd missed my morning workout window. I was facing another week with all my activity crammed into the last three days. I'm not likely to return to 4 AM weekday neighborhood runs, but I could run on the treadmill before getting ready for work on weekdays. And yet I don't. As I crawled along the Cross Island Parkway, I made the decision to do a workout when I got home.

I took little time changing into workout clothes and considered both the treadmill and the elliptical for my workout. My thought process went like this: 1) "The treadmill is real running and the elliptical isn't." 2) "The treadmill gets my heart rate higher. I can change elevation and even simulate downhill running." 3) "I hate the treadmill so I'm going to use the elliptical." With that, I turned on the big fan and had a surprisingly enjoyable session.

This morning I was determined to get out earlier than I have done on previous Fridays. At 6:00 AM I told myself I'd go out at 7:00. At 7:00 I said 7:30. By the time I changed for my run and put on sunscreen it was 8:00. By the time my Garmin acquired a signal, it was almost 8:15. So once again I found myself in the prime hour for dodging recycling trucks.

The weather was promising, not too hot and hardly humid. I felt good from the start and that continued throughout the run. About halfway through my route, I saw a car coming from the other direction around a tight curve. I tucked in behind a landscaping truck until the car passed by. Coincidently, it was my landscaper's truck and he was standing right there. We had a brief chat about how running and working in the heat kinda sucks and then I was on my way once again.

The rest of the run was relatively vehicle-free and the time went by quickly. I ran a little faster than I usually do, but it was still nothing to brag about. Tomorrow the Runsketeers will be taking to the trails to run the Dirty Sock course. It's been over a year since I've run that route and I'm excited that my friends will be running it for the first time. I hope conditions will be cool and the path will be dry. It gets very humid around there in August and muddy trails are why the race is called the Dirty Sock.
 

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