Running quote of the week

To me, the runner’s high is a sensational reaction to a great run. It’s an exhilarating feeling of satisfaction and achievement." - Sasha Azevedo

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Treadmill yes, shoveling no

Today's run (treadmill): 3.2 miles
Yesterday's run (treadmill): 3.1 miles

Winter luck has run out for those of us who prefer to run outdoors. Unlike last year, January was remarkably snow free. We've had some measurable snowfall over the last two weeks that is forcing me to run on the treadmill. I'm no fan of indoor running, but I have to say our FreeMotion 850 unit is pretty darn good. Compared to the noisy and scary Sole F63 that we replaced a year ago, it's almost a pleasure to use. I say almost, because treadmill and pleasure should never be used in the same sentence.

Yesterday was a planned work-from-home day and that worked out well for me. We received about a foot of snow between early morning and noon and I was very glad to skip the slippery commute. Schools were closed in my town and everyone was home. My wife and son did a great job of clearing the walk and driveway during the day. I would have gone out and helped, but as it happened, I was extremely busy with work. Really!

Earlier in the day, I managed to get in some treadmill miles in between meetings. I was more impatient than time-pressed and I set the speed a little faster than normal. I was fine until I began to blip up the speed every 10th of a mile. By the time I finished, I was very much out of my comfort zone.

Between some intensive video meetings and that run, I was exhausted by late afternoon. I also felt like I was coming down with a cold. We had dinner plans and I managed to get through that, but it was a struggle. On the positive side, I got a great night's sleep.

This morning I went back on the treadmill with the thought that I'd get out again with my snow shoes. I didn't duplicate yesterday's intensity, but I pushed pretty hard. I had a lot more energy today and all signs of an impending cold are gone. I didn't manage to snow shoe today, but I did do a little shoveling to clean up the end of the driveway. All by myself BTW.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Middle school snow shoe adventure

Trekking along the glacial firn
Today's workout (snow shoeing): 1 hour (2.75 miles)

I decided to go straight for an outdoor workout today and headed over to the middle school for some snow shoe trekking. There's still plenty of snow cover, but the roads are free of it. Wearing snow shoes on pavement is a no-no because of the crampons, so I elected to take a short drive over to the school. It's difficult getting my boots into the bindings, so I put them in beforehand and then stepped into my shoes when I was ready to start.

Once equipped, I walked onto the field and headed out. The school field's perimeter is about a half a mile if you keep to the far edges. I thought I'd do a few laps around and see how it went. I started moving at a brisk pace but had to ease up a bit after a quarter mile. Like running, you need to anticipate that you will heat up over time. Unfortunately, I didn't do that. After ten minutes I was ready to shed my top layer and ski mittens.

ER was here
Instead of laps, I followed the snow where it drifted and where there were interesting areas to "explore." I criss-crossed in both directions and, just for fun, spelled out ER in honor of the eponymous blog. Going in a straight line over a period of time (versus the frequent slowing and turning required in my backyard) was ultimately wearying and certainly a good workout.

I tried to gauge my level of exertion compared to running and ellipticalling. Running in snow shoes felt comparable to hard track intervals, while brisk walking felt like a challenging hike. Overall, I'd position the effort of snow shoeing as somewhere between running and the elliptical. Of course, that comparison only applies to me. People who are elliptical maniacs may consider that a harder workout. Then again, those people would probably be snow shoe maniacs too.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Dealing with the white stuff -- snow and sugar

Backyard trekking
Today's run (treadmill): 3.1 miles + snowshoe
Yesterday's run (treadmill): 3.1 miles

I had lunch this week with a work colleague who told me he'd given up added sugar just before the holidays. He looked like he lost at least 20 pounds. I asked him if he misses sugar. He said if he wants something sweet he's happy to have a piece of fruit. I often think about the amount of sugar I consume and I know I often exceed the recommended limit of 50 grams per day.

I know that if I try to quit sugar cold turkey I'll fail. However, if I pay more attention, I can probably step down my sugar intake over time. I started watching sugar content on Thursday and substituted sugar laden stuff for more savory options whenever possible. I estimate that I cut back about 50% through Friday and through most of today, but our post-dinner ice cream was a setback.

I worked from home on Friday and managed to get in a few miles on the treadmill. I usually start my work-from-home days around 6:00 AM which is when I typically start my commute. Once my wife finished her workout, I jumped on the treadmill. While I find the treadmill mind numbingly boring, I appreciate that it's a better indoor workout than the elliptical. Still, my patience can only handle about thirty treadmill minutes at a time. Once I hit 5K I was done.

My schedule was tight this morning so I got on the treadmill early. I wasn't feeling very motivated and would probably have stalled another hour if I didn't have such a tight window. It was tough going at the start, partly because I set my speed about 5% faster than on Friday. I eventually adapted and felt far better through the second half of the run.

Later in the afternoon, I pulled out my snowshoes and spent 40 minutes going around my backyard. The snow was better than the first time I tried this during last week's storm. The temperature had risen and fallen over the freezing point over the past week. That resulted in a nice firm crust that kept me from from sinking in too deep. After a while the snow shoe-ing motion began to feel very natural and the drifts in my backyard created some mogul-like challenges. My friend FS said she likes that snow shoes allow her to get up and over rock faces. In my case this afternoon, that was my back deck.

Exploring new horizons around the deck and swing set
After I'd finished my snow shoe workout, my wife put them on and did her rounds in the back, followed by my daughter. I may go over to the adjacent middle school tomorrow and try them out on the athletic fields. I would be fun to to see what it's like to trek more than a quarter mile without having to make any turns. I'll probably end up on the treadmill in the morning, but I'll be thinking about snow shoe-ing and low sugar snacking to distract me from that tedium.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Shoveling, shoeing and even some running

ER (left), Mrs & ER Jr (right)
Today's run (treadmill): 3.1 miles
Yesterday's workout (shoveling and snowshoeing) 

If I look back on the past seven days in terms of formal workouts and running mileage, it might seem like a low production week. My weekly workout schedule is, at best, a compromise, but I still aim to do at least three runs a week, plus an elliptical session. Occasionally strong weekly efforts come from different places and that was the case this week.

I try to work from home on Fridays, where I can do almost everything I do at the office (including participating in meetings via video chat). This past Friday I elected to go into work because there were a few things I needed to do face to face. I usually fit in a post-work elliptical session on Thursdays, but I got home a little too late that day. So it was all left for the weekend and a big storm was coming...

We awoke on Saturday to a substantial amount of snow and 20-plus MPH winds. I watched the local news at 6:00 AM in between storm related cable outages. I realized that we'd only just begun. Instead of doing my usual Saturday morning run, the Emerging Runner family was out shoveling the first 5" of what ended up to be 23 inches of total accumulation. Our driveway gets much more snow than our neighbors, because of the unique way the wind channels through. The drifts added another foot of snow to our driveway in spots.

The winds were unrelenting and there was a layer of ice underfoot. I was able to stay on my feet and move what I've calculated to be 1.4 cubic tons of snow. Mrs. Emerging Runner probably moved even more than that, because I spent some time in the snow not shoveling at all. I should say near the top of the snow, in my new Tubbs snowshoes.

My wife gave me snowshoes in October for our anniversary, but this was the first time I'd had a chance to try them. After getting my Timberlands securely locked into the bindings, I bravely set out for a backyard adventure.

Tundra ready
The snowshoe kit included trekking poles that were helpful and gaiters that kept my boots dry. I stepped out onto the deck and sank about three inches into what was, at the time, about a 10" accumulation. I trekked around the yard trying to understand if the snowshoes we providing a big benefit over snow boots. Sinking only a third of the way down was better than post-holing. In some spots, where the snow was less packed, it was easy to see how the snowshoes helped.

By the time I finished, the entire backyard was covered with my tracks. I discovered that it was easier to move over the areas where I'd already trekked, because that snow was compressed. I tried to run with them, but it was akin to running on sand. I think I'll do better with denser snow.

This morning we went out for our fifth round of shoveling and faced some big drifts. Once again, there was a wall of snow that the town plows deposited across the end of our driveway. We made short order of that and were happy to see the end of the blizzard.

I have my methods to minimize wasted effort when moving snow, but it still ends up being a lot of upper body work. I really needed to give that half of my body some attention, but I thought it would also be a good idea to run a few miles indoors. I headed upstairs and fired up the treadmill. After watching the news people desperately trying to fill air time talking about the snowstorm, I decided to shut off the TV.

Although I missed one of my running days yesterday, I feel like I put in the equivalent amount of effort (or more) throughout the weekend. My goal this week is to get back to routine with at least three runs - possibly four if I switch my elliptical workout with another run. It was hard work shoveling this weekend, but the effort was well worth it. I'm really looking forward to getting out on my snowshoes again under more snowshoe-friendly conditions.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Frozen face syndrome

Saving face
Today's run (street): 3.5 miles

Winter in January can be brutal and we got a taste of that today. The news was displaying 24° this morning and the howling wind made it seem even colder. I debated staying inside and running on the treadmill until I became distracted with a home electronics project. After finishing that, I bundled up and headed outside to face the freezing cold.

"Feels like" winter
I knew I'd be dealing with wind chill, so I went with track pants, two top layers, plus a windproof jacket, mitten-gloves, fleece hat and the buff that KWL gave me. The buff turned out to be my most valuable piece of gear, protecting my face from the 14 MPH winds. No matter how hard I try, I can never get my clothes completely right. My core got fairly warm, but my extremities bordered on freezing throughout the entire run.

At one point in the run, a neighbor yelled from his front porch, "Boy oh boy, this is some cold running weather!" I replied, "Grab your shoes and join me!" He laughed and wished me luck.

Although the roads were clear of snow, there were patches of ice that I was careful to avoid. The wind, cold, and my freezing face tempted me to head home to the treadmill after a mile. I decided to tough it out and was glad that I did. Running a little distance yesterday should have primed me for a more energetic run today. Unfortunately I had trouble generating speed except in those cases when I was running downhill with the wind to my back.

This will be another tough work week and, once again, I'll need to go into the office rather than work from home on Friday. That will impact my running schedule, but I'll try to fit in an elliptical session or treadmill run one night this week.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Running miles and talking cars at Bethpage

Me and "M" chillin' near the trail head
Today's run (Bethpage Bike Trail): 5.2 miles

I'm usually ambivalent about getting out for my longer weekend runs because it involves organizing my gear and driving somewhere. I woke up this morning feeling energetic and ready to break out of the bounds of my neighborhood. It was chilly, so I wore what I hoped was the right gear to keep me comfortable through my entire run. I headed to Bethpage and parked in the lot.

I decided to run the northern part of the bike trail. I have different experiences with that path, sometimes it feels flat, and other times (such as today) the hills really feel like hills. I rolled along and reached my turnaround spot faster than I expected. There were a few groups of women walking from the other direction, and when we crossed paths I heard snippets of their conversation. Every conversation was either about their job, their kids college plans or how a woman (who wasn't with them) doesn't understand something.

I came back from my run feeling a little overheated. As I was cooling down, a guy ("M") came over and asked me about my car. He was considering the same model for his wife, and we talked about the merits of my SUV versus other models. We covered a lot of other stuff in the 15 minutes that we spoke. He was a really nice and interesting guy -- a former runner who still volunteers at races. M has  a disc injury that sounds more serious than mine. He mostly does long walks at Bethpage to stay in shape. I'll look for him next time I run there.

Later in the day the snow began to fall and it's supposed  to continue through morning. I really hope the roads are clear tomorrow, otherwise I'll have to face the treadmill once again.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Strategic standing and overheated running

The scene of the summit but we had less chairs.
Today's run (street): 3.7 miles

Work took over all aspects of my life this week. I hadn't done a single run since last Sunday, but I spent a couple of days on my feet at a leadership summit. We did a lot of strategic exercises, so at least I got a mental workout. The summit was held in the ballroom of a beautiful mansion called the Tarrytown House. The days were a grind, but the food was awesome.

My schedule prevented me from getting in a weekday run, so this morning I knew it was time to pay the piper. Unfortunately, I was exhausted when I got up at 6:00 AM and did a rare return to bed after having coffee with my daughter. I didn't get my butt out the door until almost 11:00 and wondered at that point if I'd have the energy to get around the neighborhood.

The temperature was 45° with a "real feel" of 41, but it felt much colder. Due to that, I overdressed. I felt fine through the first mile, but then the heat started to build. I managed to get through the run, but I wasn't ready to do a lot of distance. Next time I'll leave off the extra layers.

It's a three day weekend so there's time for me to get in a couple more runs before I go back to work. I hope I'm feeling more energetic tomorrow. If so, I'll probably head to Stillwell or back to Bethpage. So far no snow in January and I need to take advantage of that as much as I can.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Two-fer workout on a rainy day

Rainy day resolve
Today's workout: (Treadmill) 3.1 miles, (Elliptical) 15 minutes

Rainy day and Mondays always get me down. While I'm not looking forward to this Monday, or any day this week for that matter, I had to deal with the rain today. I was optimistic that I would be able to get out this morning before the torrent. But even at 6:00 AM, it wasn't a situation fit for running. I had little choice but to use the treadmill, something I hadn't done since last October.

We're coming up on our first year with our FreeMotion treadmill and I have to admit that it's a pretty good unit. I had some bad experiences with it early last year, but that was due to pushing too hard during a run and severely aggravating my disc injury. The FreeMotion is far more stable than its predecessor, the Sole F63, and it feels more solid, like a hotel treadmill, than a home unit.

I was curious to see how it felt to run on the treadmill after so much time away. The experience of going from street running to treadmill running isn't that pronounced, but it is different. I set the speed to my usual pace and set my mind on running three miles, the longest I can go on a treadmill before going insane.

Once I reached that milestone (get it?), I hopped on the elliptical for 15 minutes of cross training. It was a good workout on a day when I had no other option but to stay indoors. I got through my rainy day and tomorrow I'll deal with Monday. I won't get a chance to work from home this coming Friday, so this may be a relatively low mileage week.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

The dirt trails at Bethpage

The path is clear
Today's run (Bethpage dirt trails): 4.1 miles
Yesterday's run (street): 3.2 miles

Back to work this week. I'd hoped to get a workout in on Wednesday or Thursday, but my @#$%& schedule got me home too late both nights. I know I used to rise and run almost every day in my previous job, but I can't seem to get back in that mode. The best excuse I can think of is that my old commute allowed me to rest and recover on the train ride in. My current commute involves driving, and I try not to sleep during that time.

I worked from home yesterday and, although I had early meetings, I was able to get in a few miles before I started my work day. I didn't go out in the dark, but it was before the school bus parade had begun. After last week's springtime weather, the cold and windy conditions reminded me that it is January. I've been wearing fewer layers lately and using my lightweight ASICS running jacket to help cut the wind chill.

This morning the temperature was 10° higher and I decided to break out of my neighborhood and head over to Bethpage to run the dirt trails. I get to Stillwell frequently, but it's been a while since I've done anything at Bethpage besides running the bike trail. With no once collecting admission, I breezed in, parked in the lot, and started my run on the paved path.

I wore my Brooks Cascadias because I knew I'd encounter dirt, mud, sand, leaves and rocks. I also figured I'd use the bike trail to get me to different cut-ins to the woods and the Cascadias are very runnable on pavement. I reached the trail at the half mile point and followed the marked trail north and then east, using the color codes to choose a direction when the path split. That worked well until I found myself near the intersection of the northern bike trail and took a hard right to stay in the woods.

Bethpage runaround
The trails were in great shape despite some muddy sections and there was a lot of elevation to test my hamstrings. Bethpage's trails are rolling like the bike path, but they're not as technically challenging as certain parts of Stillwell. The main trails are wide enough to accommodate a dump truck and are as pristine as any I've seen on Long Island.

I saw a lot of other trail runners today and it was nice to run without fear of being mowed down by a mountain bike. Bikes are not allowed, although I did see a few tire tracks in the mud. I ended up covering four miles, but with tired legs and all the ups and downs, it felt a lot farther.

Tomorrow we are supposed to see torrential rain in the morning and I suspect I'll be doing my run on the treadmill. I'm glad I got out for a stimulating and surprisingly taxing workout today. Winter trail running is always a pleasure, especially this season, when the trails are free of snow.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

The Christmas trees of Trailview

Because nature isn't pretty enough
Today's workout (elliptical): 45 minutes

I'm not sure why, but I was exhausted by the end of the day on Saturday. It may have had to do with running in the morning and then doing a hike in the afternoon. It could also been due to the fact that I'd done eleven workouts over the prior twelve days. Either way, I slept reasonably well last night and had no trouble getting through an elliptical session this morning. It was the 12th workout of my holiday break.

Yesterday my son and I headed over to Trailview State Park to hike the relatively short, but fairly technical trails. He and I have been hiking there since he was in grade school. Over the years, our conversations have progressed from silly topics related to sci-fi and robots to fascinating and challenging discussions about science and politics. We still occasionally talk about sci-fi and robots.

Did I mention it was cold on the trail?
Along the way we encountered a couple of trees in the woods that people had decorated with ornaments. That was unexpected and funny. What wasn't so funny were the two large dogs that were running around unleashed, one with a GoPro camera attached to its back.

I mentioned to the owner that the dogs should be leashed (actually dogs aren't even allowed in the park) and he gave me attitude. Not that I don't like dogs, but some people are afraid of them and it's obnoxious when people let their dogs run loose because they're supposedly friendly. A big dog ran up and knocked over my daughter in Stillwell Woods when she was little. That was a terrible experience for her.

Today is the last day of a long vacation and I've had a great time away from the office. Reality will hit tomorrow morning when I'm back to my long commute. My 2015 running mileage suffered greatly due to a few periods when I used the elliptical or alternative cardio machines while I recovered from my disc problem. I'm hoping that I can surpass 700 running miles in 2016 and supplement that with regular elliptical workouts. My schedule won't make that easy, but I'll do my best.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Part 2 - The Emerging Runner: A look back at 2015

The Glorious Runsketeers
Today's run (street): 3.2 miles

2015 - A look back from July to December

The second half of 2015 had a lot more runs with friends, starting in early July when SIOR and I met up on the Bethpage trail to run a few miles together before heading to Starbucks. TPP was with JC in Connecticut that day and was unable to join us. I ended up covering six miles, my longest run of the year at that point.

Missing TPP
Two weeks later, I met SIOR again, this time to run another six at the Massapequa Preserve that extends the Bethpage trail to the south. I'd run through the northern Preserve before, but had never started a run there from the south. I met up with SIOR once I was three miles in. It was super humid that day and the route seemed to defy physics, with both directions appearing to be uphill.

Massapequa Preserve: up and up
In early August the Runsketeers got together to run the Dirty Sock course at Belmont State Park. KWL joined us on this route that is primarily dirt trails. I stuck to the classic 6.2 mile course and added an extra third of a mile because SIOR forced us to start running before the trail head. The top of the route is a circle around beautiful Belmont Lake. I circled it once, TPP twice and KWL and SIOR did it a third time because they're the cool kids. We regrouped afterward at a Starbucks that we found in the area. It had really comfy furniture. One of my best running days ever.

Starbuck'n after Dirty Sock runnin'
After over-thinking my running shoe portfolio for months, I finally dropped $52 on a pair of Kinvara 5s in September that I bought through a startup app called Shoekicker. It was love at first footfall. I also did a trail run with my financial whiz running buddy Steve at Stillwell Woods. No one bought my theory that one trail mile equals 1.18 road miles.

❤ my Kinvaras
Me and CrossFitter Steve
In mid October, the Runsketeers returned to Bethpage. SIOR and TPP were both recovering from hard races and ran slowly. That allowed us to all run together the whole time, something we haven't done in a while. Later, SIOR drove TPP and I back to where we'd parked on Colonial Road. I figured out that five minutes is probably the maximum amount of time SIOR and I can spend together in a moving car.

All smiles after Bethpage
My work schedule did not help my running schedule and I found myself limited to three or four workouts a week. My typical run length had fallen to 3-4 miles and I decided to do something about that. In November, I ran 7.1 miles on the Bethpage trail which turned out to be my longest run in 2015.  I intended to do base runs in increasing lengths, but I failed miserably. In fact, I didn't do a single run longer than 5 miles for the remainder of the year.

Later that month, the group got together on a chilly post-Thanksgiving morning to support TPP and her sister NIMC who were racing at Stillwell Woods. KWL, SIOR and I ran laps on the track before heading across the street to the start of the race. We all ended up at Starbucks where the five of us didn't shut up for a second. When we finished, we grouped together for a picture that was taken by a metal column.

A Runsketeer Thanksgiving
In December, KWL visited the Emerging Runner household for a morning of running and food. Me and KWL headed over to Stillwell for a short but invigorating trail run and later he and the ER family had lunch at a new restaurant in my town that featured intestines and pigs feet. Tempting as those choices sound, we opted for vegetarian offerings.

Stillwell done well
I did 155 runs in 2015 but the best ones were those I did with friends. January started off great with the 2016 Hangover Run with SIOR and TPP and I got in a few more miles this morning. I've run every day this year. Let's see how long that streak lasts!

Friday, January 1, 2016

2016 Hangover with the Runsketeers

Mini photo bomber, SIOR, TPP, ER
Today's run (Hangover Fun Run): 4 miles

2016 has arrived and the Runsketeers rang in the New Year this morning with the LIRRC Hangover Run at Eisenhower Park. After so many days of unseasonably temperate weather, the cold returned for real. I arrived a little after 9:00 AM and met up with TPP. She and I walked over to the staging area where we signed the waiver doc and tucked into a corner to avoid the the chilly winds. SIOR texted that she was delayed and would join us after the start.

The Hangover Run is a perfect running event for me, because it has elements of a race like a formal start and timing clock, but no individual tracking of runners. Running distance is at the discretion of each participant although most people run five 1-mile laps. I normally do that as well, but I wasn't feeling great this morning and elected to run only four.

There's a lot of construction work going on at Eisenhower Park and today's route differed a little from the previous four times I'd done the Hangover. The old route was basically a half circle. This year it looked more like a giant comma. I actually like the new course better,  even though you still end up looking at the same scenery, mile after mile.

Comma course
TPP and I took off, she was the hare and I was the turtle. The course allows you to see runners coming back in the opposite direction and I was able to monitor her progress. TPP seemed to be running half a lap ahead of me but she covered five miles in almost the same time as it took me to complete four. I watched for SIOR and I think I saw her once along the way. She did a lap after TPP and I had finished and we took pictures and videos of her as she came around at the end.

SIOR showing her signature maturity
Once done, we made our way to the lot. SIOR started a conversation with a random runner who was walking ahead of us. She complimented his running tights and told him some websites that have good running gear bargains. The guy said to TPP and SIOR that they probably shop on-line a lot. I thought that was a sexist thing to say. I stood up for them and told him that SIOR prefers stores because you can't shoplift on a website. He left quickly after that.

As tradition dictates, we headed to Starbucks. Our timing was perfect because a motorcycle gang was just leaving when we arrived. We practically had the place to ourselves until some guy SIOR knows showed up and sat at the end of our table. To her credit, she didn't talk to him about his pants.

The Runsketeers exchanged holiday gifts. SIOR gave me a runner's headlamp and TPP gave me a framed picture of the Runsketeers that also included KWL and NIMC. Knowing them as I do, I gave them red wine and homemade chocolate truffles. As usual, we talked about everything and I was shocked when I looked at my watch and saw it was almost noon.

We said our goodbyes and talked about our next run which we hope will happen in January. Once again, the year started out great, with a bracing run and the company of good friends. Happy New Year to all.
 

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