Running quote of the week

“I felt like I was breathing like a freight train and everything hurt, [but] somehow it didn’t bother me. The joy of moving and getting started overwhelms the negativity.”– Lauren Fleshman

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Sad way to make the LI Marathon a big event

Tragedy of the commons
Today's run (street): 3.5 miles

A few years ago, when I was frequently engaged with the MIT Media Lab, I was fortunate to spend time with Dan Airely who taught economics at the Sloan School of Management. Dan writes books about behavior, honesty and irrationality that are well worth reading. He used to talk about an economic concept known as the "Tragedy of the commons", that describes how the self-interest of a few people can negatively affect the larger society.

This concept is usually tied to selfish actions leading to broader consequences, like over-fishing a lake or poaching endangered animals. In today's world, I see it every time I pass through Penn Station where I see police and National Guardsmen patrolling with large automatic weapons. That has been a common sight since September 12, 2001, but it's still hard to get used to. I'm not complaining - I fully appreciate the need - but it's sad that everyone's behaviors have to change to protect against a harmful few.

This morning, I was watching the local news while Ed Mangano held a press conference. Mangano stated that, "In light of the tragic events that occurred at the Boston Marathon earlier this month, we have put forth enhanced security measures for the safety of the Long Island Marathon participants, spectators, and all members of our community." This involves the use of radiation detectors, K-9 bomb sniffing units and extra police.

If you've ever participated in the LI Marathon Festival of Races, you might react as I did to this. It's a really nice event, but I think the biggest concern the organizers should have is whether they'd rented enough Port-O-Potties. I wouldn't expect this race would be targeted by miscreants, but what do I know? The RXR LI Marathon has always aspired to be a "big race" event. Sadly, it's taken the atrocity in Boston to make that happen.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Trail fun (times two) at Stillwell Woods

Mountain biking is Scott to be fun
Today's run (Stillwell Woods): 4.4 mile + 4.5 mile hike

I returned to the trails in a big way today. This morning I went over to Stillwell for a run, and saw that Scott Sports was there, hosting an event. Scott, who also has a line of running shoes, was providing people with the opportunity to test their mountain bikes on Stillwell's trails. The Scott folks offered me the chance to try a bike, but I really wanted to get my run in.

I was concerned that the trails would be packed with novice riders, but that wasn't the case. I saw more bikers than usual, but most were skilled and courteous. Last night I noticed that the Fitbit had recorded over 10,000 steps, but only three staircase equivalents. My son and I decided to knock out a bunch of stair climbs, so we did another 26.

Despite some concern that I'd pushed too hard last night, I had no trouble taking on Stillwell's steep sections today. I ended up covering 4.4 miles and appreciated the change of surface after so many recent runs either on the treadmill or on pavement.

Choosing the difficult path
Later, my son and I returned to Stillwell for another hike. Our goal was to take on Stillwell's toughest trails and to find the elusive Ewok Forest. At every fork, we took the "more difficult" option. We found ourselves so far east that we intersected with the Trailview path toward Cold Spring Harbor. We doubled back from there, taking a circuitous route that involved a few side paths. We finally decided that we'd covered enough ground and headed back to the trail head.

One of Stillwell's sharp drops
When we returned to the car, I checked the Fitbit and saw that we'd covered 4.5 miles, which worked out to 10,200 steps and 23 staircase equivalents. We saw new trails and I introduced my son to the junked car that I always pass as part of my regular running route. We didn't end up taking advantage of the Scott event, but we certainly had a Stillwell workout. Today, that went double for me.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Running in the morning and (multi) culture at noon

Eye of the tiger (actually lion)
Today's run (street): 3.75 miles

I needed to get out early this morning for my run, so I deferred a visit to Stillwell or Bethpage until (possibly) tomorrow. I had more time than yesterday, so I figured I'd try to cover a little more distance. In an attempt to shave off a few minutes, I turned on the Garmin while I was still inside. I thought the chances of acquiring a signal were low, but I figured I'd try. Amazingly, while still in the house, the Garmin was ready to rock in about ten seconds. When I turn it on while standing outside (under clear skies), it can take five minutes or more to go to ready mode.

In keeping with my policy of never running the same route twice, I departed from my usual starting street in favor of another road to the west. I continued to choose less traveled roads until I reached a point that put me back onto my usual route. I ran easy today because I ran fairly hard yesterday. It wasn't a fast run, but all considered, it was still in the range of acceptable performance.

Indian music, dance and drum

Korean synchronized drumming
Lion dancers
Japanese calligraphy
Thai dancers

Multi-cultural parade
I returned home and quickly took a shower, knowing my wife would soon be back from a morning coffee date with a friend. We immediately headed out to a multinational cultural festival that was being held at a local college. This event, that was sponsored by the Asian-American Cultural Circle of Unity, had many exhibits that featured food, art and local products from around the world. There were many performances, including Korean drummers, Chinese lion dancers and numerous musicians.

We all had a great time, and I recommend this free event to everyone!

Friday, April 26, 2013

You have 28 minutes...Go!

Beat the clock
Today's run (treadmill): 3.1 miles

That annoying thing called a schedule forced me onto the treadmill this morning. I lost track of time and realized that I wouldn't have enough time to do an outside run and still make my first appointment. My only hope was to get it all done in less than 30 minutes. Since I've "retired", I've made three miles the minimum distance for my weekday runs. If I was to meet that rule today, I would have to run fast.

I hit the start button and set my speed a full MPH higher than usual. Surprisingly enough, that pace seemed sustainable and I looked at my HRM for guidance, in terms of how far to push. I don't really trust the treadmill display's accuracy, so I mostly go by perceived effort. When I run a 9:20 pace on the treadmill, it feels like 9:00. I really should put a new battery in my Garmin foot pod to compare speeds and see whether there really is such a margin of error.

I watched the clock as I nudged against my critical time window. I knew I needed to meet or beat 28 minutes to get in a full 5K distance. When I got to the 20 minute mark I punched my speed up to 7.1 MPH and rode that pace until I'd reached 3.1 miles. My heart rate was at around 88% of max by the time I finished, and I was about as sweat-soaked as a person could be when I turned off the machine.

I quickly toweled off and drank a big glass of water before changing into dry clothes. I was fortunate that this wasn't going to be one of those Skype conference calls that would have required me to look more presentable. I did let the time get away from me this morning, but running hard got me back on schedule. I've been wanting to do some speed work lately, but haven't been motivated to do it. Sometimes motivation comes in unexpected ways.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

The pendulum of minimalism

Today's run (street): 3.3 miles

I was reading an article that said the demand for minimal-style running shoes, once a growth segment, is beginning to decline. The book, Born to Run, made many people curious about barefoot-style running, and it forced us to reconsider the merits of the shoes we've always bought.

A few years ago, I saw a video of myself on the treadmill at Jackrabbit Sports. That clearly confirmed that I'm an over-pronater. The salesperson recommended that I buy a beefy, medially-posted "stability" shoe to correct that tendency. After all, they said, my stride made me susceptible to knee and IT band injuries. I wished at the time that I could wear a lighter shoe, but I feared the consequences.

Hattori
I thought about all this on my run this morning. The idea that shoes with lots of cushioning would prevent certain types of injuries has been increasingly debated and challenged by many. That includes me. I wore out a a pair of Saucony Hattoris after 400 miles and I now run primarily in the Brooks Pure Drifts, Brooks' most minimal shoe. The Hattori and Drift are both simple designs. Each shoe weighs less than 6 ounces and neither has any stability features. After more than 700 miles running in that type of shoe, I haven't encountered a single problem.

Pure Drift

The dash toward barefoot running probably got too many people into minimal shoes too soon. Many are now going back to more cushy footwear. But the game has changed, and now even stability shoes have lighter construction. I know that many people feel that the shoe makes the runner. After 3+ years of (mostly) injury-free running, in barely-there neutral trainers, I respectfully disagree.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Restorative running

Today's run (street): 3.25 miles

This morning was made for running -- 47 degrees, with sunny, cloudless skies and a minimum of wind. I had thought about going out around 6:00 AM, but instead opted to return some emails that came in overnight. I recently established a new business and did an email marketing campaign on Monday. That yielded a tsunami of responses and it tied me up most of Tuesday.

I still got out fairly early this morning. It was around the time that moms and dads stand outside with their little ones while they wait for the elementary school bus. It seemed chilly, so I wore a short sleeved running shirt with a light 1/4 zip and running shorts. Despite the 47° temperature, it felt cold while I waited for the Garmin to kick in. I knew, once I got going, that I'd start to feel more comfortable. I did warm up quickly, but I never felt too hot. Low humidity made all the difference.

Just for a change, I mapped out a new combination of roads for my run. I've been wearing my Pure Drifts for pavement runs, and the Kinvara 3's for the treadmill, and it's been an improvement at both ends. I felt a little tight when I first set out, but quickly got my rhythm. It was one of those rare runs that felt nearly effortless. And it was an opportunity to enjoy the run while it happened, rather than merely appreciating that the hard work had ended.

Although I only achieved an average pace, I was very happy with the run. I felt good, the sun was shining and the people I saw along the way were friendly and positive. After hours and hours of laptop intensity, it was the perfect way to re-energize, recenter and refocus.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Posting short

Today's run (treadmill) 3.2 miles

I've been swamped since yesterday and that's why I didn't post on Monday. In fact, I barely have time to post today. I wanted to get my run done before a morning meeting, so I tried to go out early. My timing couldn't have been worse. The rain started falling, just as I was ready to go outside. So another treadmill run was in order. Better luck tomorrow, I guess.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Another Trailview adventure

This must be the place
Today's run (treadmill): 3.6 miles

This morning was very busy, especially for a Sunday. My wife and daughter went to an early cooking class and my son and I had planned to go to the high school to run intervals at the track. Instead, he completed his weekend homework and I ended up doing a treadmill run. We finished our tasks, only to discover that our freezer was failing. So our morning time together involved salvaging food and trying to (unsuccessfully) restart the refrigeration process.

Ripped from the ground
Yesterday afternoon, my son and I returned to nearby Trailview State Park for another hike. I had run close to five miles in the morning, but I still had lots of energy. My son was also anxious to go. We took a different trail than we had last time, and we saw some new tree damage. One tree, measuring over 30 feet, had been pulled up from its roots. Another had broken off near the four foot point. Other than those trees, the trail was mostly clear of obstructions. We went off trail once, just to see where it led, but the thorny brush discouraged us from traveling too far into the woods.

You've learned well, grasshopper
It was a hike, not a run, but my son attacked the steep sections like an ultrarunner. He said he prefers hiking to trail running, and I'm good with that. With the rate he's growing and the speed he already possesses, I know I'd have trouble keeping up with him. We'll probably head to Stillwell Woods next time so he can get a bigger challenge. There are some sections on Stillwell's trails that make Trailview's tough climbs look mighty easy.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Happy resolution, happy morning run

I should design a route that spells out my name
Today's run (street): 4.5 miles

The outcome of the manhunt for the surviving Boston Marathon bomber ended with a live suspect and no further casualties. As good as that is, it's important to remember that lots of innocent people were killed or maimed this week in the name of religious zealotry and hate. The Boston Marathon's joy was hijacked for the benefit of no one. I only hope the city's powerful reaction to the senseless acts this week will ultimately strengthen the event.

There are a couple of high profile NYC races this weekend and I fear that some weak-minded fool will try a copy-cat attack. I also worry that the London Marathon will have similar threats. I'll never cease to be amazed by the level of depravity that exists in the minds of some people. Cowards will always look for easy targets.

Okay, back to talking about running! Less than half of my workouts over the past seven days have happened outdoors and I was determined to run outside today. It rained overnight and into the morning, so I waited until the skies cleared before going out. The temperature was 48° around 9:00 AM, so I dressed in shorts, but wore a log sleeved running shirt. That turned out to be a good decision, because the winds were strong from the south and the extra warmth was appreciated.

My Garmin annoyed me (once again) by taking over five minutes to lock into its signal. Standing in the shade of my garage was a chilly experience, but once I got moving I felt comfortable. I elected to run south on Jericho for a change, but the stiff winds forced me to duck back into the neighborhood. It was one of those situations where conditions were perfect in some directions and awful in others. Despite that, I felt great throughout the run.

I didn't have a distance target, so I just followed roads until I found myself heading in the direction of home. I could have easily run a few more miles, but my son and I are planning to hike later and I wanted to keep some energy in reserve. It was a completely pleasant experience today and, for the first time in days, I was able to think of things other than the events that have played out around Boston. I'm really hoping that this weekend the races will be about the runners, and the stories will be all be happy.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Patriot's Day, birthday & manhunt

Focal point
Today's run (treadmill): 3.1 miles

The story of the Boston Marathon bombing continues to play out with the suspect still on the loose. Today is my birthday, a date that used to coincide each year with Patriot's Day in Massachusetts. Sadly, that date has been usurped in recent years by bad elements. Timothy McVeigh blew up the Alfred P. Murrah building in Oklahoma City on April 19, 1995. Now the Boston Marathon will always be associated with terrorism.

I cannot imagine what it might be like for the people who live close to last night's shooting in Watertown and are now locked down in their homes. The idea that a desperate, remorseless, murderer could be hiding in their backyard is horrible to consider. My brother and his family recently moved to Vermont from Watertown and I'm glad they are now a state away from that town.

Despite gray skies, there was no rain this morning and I could have run outside. However, I opted to stay inside so I could watch the minute by minute coverage on TV as I ran on the treadmill. The media was setting the expectation that action was imminent, but hours later, the situation remains the same. I only hope that things are resolved soon, and that no more innocent people are hurt.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

City trek dwarfs morning workout

And the day ain't over...
Today's workout (elliptical): 25 minutes + 7 miles city walk

I figured I'd be covering some ground today, but I had no idea that I'd travel over seven miles in the city on foot. My meeting locations varied between east 53rd Street and Spring Street, with a couple of other spots in between. I could have used the subway, but I didn't see the point of that when I could just as easily walk.

Before I left for the city, I did an elliptical session. I wasn't thinking about the fact that I'd be getting a second workout later. The Fitbit recorded a couple of miles from the elliptical and, fortunately, I remembered to bring it with me when I left the house. I'd forgotten to take the Fitbit on Monday when I covered significant territory around Manhattan. The Fitbit recorded none of that, causing me to look like a slacker on the Fitbit dashboard. But today was a different story.

Should have that distance number over 10 miles tonight

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

The marathon story is no longer about the race

Correlation or coincidence?
Today's run (treadmill): 3.1 miles

I've been catching up on my Runner's World and Running Times issues going back to January and I'm saddened to see so many items and stories that reference the Boston Marathon. Who could have anticipated what happened at 4:09:43 in the race? I've wondered about the time the cowards picked to set off the bombs. Was it a coincidence that the highest number of people typically cross the line around the 4 hour point? My anger continues.

Today's schedule has me on the phone much of the day, and my window to run this morning coincided with some rainy weather outside. I ended up doing a typical treadmill run while I watched the news on TV. It was mostly a repeat of the Boston story. How many ways can you talk about something like that when there's no new information to share? Apparently, there are many.

The London Marathon happens this Sunday and, of course, there's a heightened concern for safety after Monday's bombings. The good news is that the London Olympics went off without any terror attacks last summer and they will probably use those same tactics to keep the crowds safe this weekend. The bad news is that the safety concerns for the race are now a bigger story than the race itself.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Heroes at the finish line, cowards on the run

Anger and sadness
Today's run (street): 3.6 miles

Yesterday afternoon I had just stepped out of a meeting in midtown and looked at my phone. My wife had sent me a text about the bombs that went off at the finish line of the Boston Marathon. I was stunned by the news and had difficulty with the idea that it happened. I hoped it was a prank, perhaps something innocuous like a smoke grenade, but I had the feeling it was much more than that. I had a little time before my next meeting, so I stopped into a nearby hotel to watch the coverage on CNN. As the story unfolded, it felt eerily similar to that day in September back in 2001 (my look back on that day).

I'm not going to talk about the horrible events themselves, or why some people decided that their twisted view of life was worth the life of a child, along with the deaths and carnage of others. The story that the world is hearing is about how the workers, spectators, police, EMTs, firefighters and residents responded immediately to those who needed help. If there is any justice, the malevolent animals who picked easy targets will be quickly captured and shown to the world as the cowards that they are. I suggest they be forced to run the Boston course indefinitely until they expire.

I had a weird run this morning. Besides having a lot on my mind, I'd gone to an industry event last night that put me well past my bedtime. If you looked at the metrics of the run, it would appear that I under-performed compared to my usual level. The entire time that I ran I couldn't shake the post 9/11-like feelings that resulted from yesterday's news. I think I ended up pushing harder than I normally would have on a weekday training run and, by the end, I was pretty tired.

It wasn't a particularly notable run for me, but I think I processed a lot of thoughts and have come out better for it. I'll bet being a runner would have come in handy on September 12, 2001. I can't go back in time, but I'm happy that I was a runner today.

Monday, April 15, 2013

The price of self esteem is apparently $7.99

Divide it by two and we'll talk
EDITOR'S NOTE: This is the 1,500th Emerging Runner post. It all started here.

Happy Boston Marathon Day. I grew up in the greater Boston area and have always felt tied to this event. The Boston Marathon used to be held on April 19th (Patriot's Day), which happens to be my birthday. That was, until Massachusetts began observing the holiday and running the race on Mondays. It was great that the Boston Marathon route went right though my hometown, and we could watch the runners go by from a hill behind our house.

I never thought about actually running the Boston Marathon (or any marathon for that matter) because it seemed like an impossible thing to do. Even now, the thought of running a full marathon seems abstract and unlikely. Having crossed the line on a couple of half marathons, I cannot conceive of running that distance twice, all at once. It's no longer impossible for me to imagine it, but I'm not willing to commit the time and effort that would be required. I fully admire those who do run marathons, but I'm sticking with halfs.

The Jan/Feb issue of Running Times featured a product that runners can use to brag about their marathon accomplishments. I'm not talking about the ubiquitous 26.2 decal. Apparently anyone can buy one of those, no questions asked. ProvenSport (I'm not including a link because I think this is a stupid idea) will only sell their $7.99 decals to people after they, "...validate every achievement and certify [your] legitimate bragging rights." This, for only $5 more than that unverified 26.2 decal!

I'm also offended by the poorly designed product
I know that every runner's motivation is personal and racing supports our self esteem. Those oval race decals are fun, and they don't bother me when I see them on cars. I never question the veracity of the statement, and have never thought once about the owner's possible finish times. Those who need to push the point of broadcasting to the world that they ran a marathon really, really fast probably need more than a decal to address their own self esteem issues.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

A practical replacement for a postponed race

Ran it in spirit
Today's run (treadmill): 3.25 miles

Today was the scheduled date of the Marcie Mazzola 5K that was postponed last week. I'm not into racing as much as I've been the last few years, so I didn't look for another race to run in its place. While I love the whole experience of racing, I tend to put too much time and attention into the preparation. Lately, I've enjoyed the opportunity to run without having to focus on either distance or speed training.

I'm still feeling guilty for not running one of the RXR LI Marathon races. A quick check on the site shows that registration is still open. But the price to run the LI Half is almost $63 (including "convenience" fee). I've run it the last two years, and I think I'm ready for a change of half marathon scenery. Frankly, I would rather put the $63 toward a pair of Saucony Virratas, that are high on my wish list.
Virrata - just a credit card away
In deference to the Marcie 5K, as well as a lack of time to run this morning, I picked the treadmill over the street. I figured that if the race was still happening, today would been a fast run. Instead of playing with the treadmill's controls, and increasing speed as I went along, I gunned it from the start. There are times when this tactic doesn't work, and I need to back off a bit. Today the fast pace felt sustainable, and I even increased my speed over the last mile.

By the end, I felt like I'd run a 5K. It may not have been the Marcie 5K, but it was no ordinary treadmill workout either. I could have made it even more like that race by ramping up the elevation of the treadmill (to simulate the big hill on Woodhull Road), but that seemed a little much. After all, I didn't even get a tee shirt for doing all that hard running.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Avoiding redundancy on a neighborhood run

Today's run (street): 5.4 miles

After yesterday's gloomy weather, it looked like spring was finally coming back. It was still fairly chilly when I stepped outside this morning, but it was mostly due to the wind. I stood in a patch of sun to stay warm, while my GPS took its time finding a signal. Today's route was around the neighborhood, and I thought about the combination of roads I'd have to take to meet my distance goal of five miles.

I wore my Brooks Pure Drift prototypes, rather than my Kinvara 3's. Lately, I've been wanting less cushioning in the forefoot, and the Drifts are similar in that respect to my old beloved Hattoris. I definitely prefer to run with shoes that have a low "stack height" and minimal cushioning in the mid-sole. The Kinvaras have been excellent, and I'm a stone's throw away from 500 miles with them, but I've been missing the feel of a firmer-landing shoe.

I felt great from beginning to end on today's run. It was one of those rare training runs where I felt I could just keep going all day. Adventure Girl used to call it "perpetual motion running." Since I only planned to run five miles, I figured I could spend some energy on speed. I opened up the throttle every few minutes without affecting my high energy level, and it paid off when I saw my overall time.

I managed to cover most of the streets in my immediate neighborhood without doubling up too much on any one road. For some reason, I dislike running on the same section of road twice during the same run. Even if it's just seeing different houses and cars on other streets, it's still a different view. I noted that my hip seemed completely fine, and I can probably stretch my base runs to six miles now. I haven't been to Bethpage in a few weeks, so it's a possibility for tomorrow. I guess it's as good a time as any to buy my 2013 Empire Passport

Friday, April 12, 2013

Hesitation forces a Plan B run

The soggy price of procrastination
Today's run (treadmill): 3.2 miles

All of today's business related activities could be managed by emails, calls or virtual meeting rooms, so I didn't need to go into the city. Knowing that, I took my time getting ready for my planned outside run. The weather was cold and the skies were overcast, but the local news channel was saying we'd see no rain until noon. I waited until both kids had gone off to school and headed upstairs to change.

The reported temperature was 43 degrees, but it felt colder than that. I put on two long sleeved shirts and a pair of medium weight running pants. I took my time getting dressed, including HRM strap, GPS watch, RoadID and SPIbelt. I was just about to head outdoors when I heard my wife call from upstairs, "Do you know it's raining!?" I looked outside and saw the water coating the back deck. Ugh. I headed back upstairs to implement Plan B.

Some people don't mind running in the rain, but I really dislike it. Besides the visibility issues that come from wearing glasses, the experience is worsened by soaking wet pants, jerseys and socks. Plan B is usually the treadmill, unless I feel like a change and use the elliptical. Today I wanted to run, so after a quick change into running shorts, I was on the treadmill once again.

There's never much to say about a treadmill workout unless something unusual happens, and today nothing did. If I had spent less time on my laptop this morning, and instead, headed out by 7:00, I would have enjoyed a refreshing outdoor experience in dry conditions. And if that was the case, I'd probably have something more interesting to write about today.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Transcendental treadmillism

Be the treadmill
Today's run (treadmill): 3.2 miles

Rainy weather put me on the treadmill this morning, but I was fine with that. I'm way behind in my magazine reading (I blame the lack of a daily commute) and have been catching up on recent Runner's World issues. I came across an article about meditation and running, and was curious to learn how the two might be linked. Were they suggesting that runners should meditate during a run? If that's the same as zoning out, I guess it could make sense.

Much of the article covered mental preparation for a run, but the writer also suggested some specific meditative running techniques. One example was taking a breath every three steps and exhaling for two. I tried that on the treadmill this morning with mixed results. Just like when I tried to calculate cadence by tracking my steps per minute during a run, I found it extremely hard to keep my counts. The challenge was maintaining synchronization between my steps and my breathing. I gave up fairly quickly. 

The one idea in the article that proved viable was simply acknowledging the tedium of the run and the pain and fatigue that may come with it. Instead of relying on TV or music, the meditative approach is to understand the discomfort and appreciate what's good about the experience. As I ran today, I thought about how I felt (strong, mentally energized), how the floor fan was keeping me cool, and how nice it was to have a schedule that didn't involve 4:00 AM workouts. I may not have reached the highest mode of consciousness today, but meditation did do a fine job of distracting me from the damn treadmill.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

An eight mile workout on top of another

Supremely lucky
Today's workout (elliptical): 30 minutes + 8 mile walk

It's another beautiful day in NYC, but I ended up doing my workout indoors this morning. No matter what, time always seems to influence action. I needed to make a mid-morning train and I'd squandered the early morning hours putting the final touches on my new business website. The elliptical made the most sense in terms of time efficiency, so I picked that over the road and the treadmill. If I'd known how much walking I would do today, I may have skipped my workout altogether.

My travels took me all around NYC today. With exception of a subway ride from Penn Station to Chamber Street, I walked up, down and all around. When I got back to Penn at the end of the day, my Fitbit showed 18K steps and 8 miles walked. My feet were fairly sore, but that's what recovery shoes are for. I put on a pair the second I got home.

The purpose of my trip downtown was to visit the Manhattan County Clerk's office at 60 Centre Street. I needed to do some legal work related to my new business. The Clerk's office is located in the basement of the Supreme Court building, and it looks like it hasn't been renovated since the 19th century. Seriously, go there and see for yourself.

It turned out that the filing (and its sizable fee) was unnecessary. Except for the cost of a subway ride, I came out well ahead. I walked from Centre Street to midtown, and eventually, back to Penn Station. Today showed that not every workout needs to involve aerobic intensity to make an impact. Sometimes it's a matter of taking some steps - maybe eighteen thousand or so.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Spring running is great, so the laptop can wait

Such that it is
Today's run (street): 3.4 miles

Yesterday was my scheduled rest day and I spent a good part of it in front of my laptop. Consequently, I  "achieved" a pathetically low step and distance count. If my Fitbit could talk to me right now, it would probably wouldn't. I'm under the gun with business related tasks, but I have been making great progress. After all that intense work, I needed to run today. The beautiful weather certainly helped get me out the door.

My treadmill workout on Sunday was short but extremely difficult. I thought this morning about the fact that the Marcie Mazzola 5K was scheduled for next Sunday. Sadly that race has been postponed due to the death of a Mazzola family member. The way I've been running lately, I don't think I would have been very competitive. I prepared to struggle as I took my first steps on today's run, and was surprised to find that I felt great.

It was a beautiful early spring morning and I'd taken the chance of wearing running shorts and a short sleeved jersey. Sunny skies and low humidity powered me through one of my fastest runs in weeks. I wasn't sure at the time how I was pacing, but I took advantage of my energy level and threw in some "speed play" a few times every mile. I covered the last mile at 10K race pace and finished feeling refreshed and energized. That was a good thing, because before long, it was back to the laptop for the rest of the day.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Business exhaustion + run exhaustion = redemption

Wheel of redemption
Today's run (treadmill): 3.1 miles

I thought that leaving my job might profoundly change my life. Actually, it has, but not exactly in the way that I expected. I'd imagined myself taking leisurely runs on the trail each morning, followed by a variety of activities that I've put off for years. Despite those expectations, my running schedule hasn't really changed. Highly anticipated activities, like returning to playing my classical guitar, have been put on hold. I may not be getting up at 3:30 AM anymore, but I'm working harder than ever.

Much of my attention has been diverted to a consulting practice that I recently started. Creating a business requires many steps, ranging from setting up legal and business resources, to selling services to clients. So far it's been energizing, but all the meetings, calls and proposals can wear you out. That became evident this morning when some work I was doing distracted me past my scheduled run time. After forcing myself to stop, I realized staring at web code for hours had given me a pounding headache. Instead of a run I felt like I needed a nap.

We were up late last night, but I'd found it impossible to sleep past 6:00 AM. I'd planned to go to Stillwell for a trail run. Soon enough, I started self-negotiating to shorter distances on local roads. The wind was blowing hard outside, further eroding my motivation to do my run. I started thinking about forgoing my workout altogether.

In the meantime, my wife who was similarly tired from our late night, had completed her workout and taken a shower. She said it made her feel better, although she felt her run was harder than usual. Inspired by her, I made my way to the guestroom to face the treadmill. I made no pretense that I'd make it a speedy run. This workout was far more about maintaining commitment than improving fitness and conditioning.

I started by running a pace that was 15% slower than usual, and stuck with it until the display showed one mile. From there, I began to increase the treadmill speed every couple of minutes. By the time I'd reached two miles, it was feeling like five. The experience of watching the readout slowly tick toward three miles was torturous, especially since I'd increased my speed to a relatively brisk pace by then.

Considering the short duration, I haven't had many runs that felt as hard. I was thrilled to kick down the speed after 3.1 miles for cool-down. Although I was wiped out, I was also energized, and my headache was gone. This workout felt like redemption and I was very pleased that I didn't skip my workout. On the downside, I realized that I'd failed to transfer my Fitbit to my running shorts so I didn't capture all those steps and distance. I may have lost all that data but I gained back some self esteem. 

Saturday, April 6, 2013

SNAP'd out of the gully

Surprisingly good energy snack
Today's run (street): 5.2 miles

Unlike blogger friends A.S.E., Petite Pacer and A Running Chick, who regularly do long distance training runs, I've seemed to settle into the 3 to 4 mile gully. This time last year I was gearing up for the LI Half Marathon and regularly running 8 to 12 mile weekend runs. With no half to prepare for in May, and a recent bout of pain around my hip, I've lost some critical base conditioning. I went out today determined to cover at least five miles and I managed to do that.

Non-runners think that a long distance run would be hard, because they perceive the challenge as not "having enough wind." Runners know that the toughest part of a long run is battling both tedium and muscle fatigue. Let's face it, much of running is voluntarily suffering and while we've all found "the zone" at one point, most runs are teeth gritting experiences. Nature's way of getting us to keep doing it involves the release of endorphins at the end. This make us forget how much we hate running.

I headed over to the local business park by way of a loop through the neighborhood. I'd forgotten to turn left into the middle school that has a passage to my planned destination. I ended up doubling back a bit, and taking the penalty of running up an unplanned span of inclined road. In the scheme of things, that mistake probably made it easier to achieve today's distance goal.

Before I left on my run, I tried a half portion of SNAP infusion "super candy" that was given to me by my friend KWL. I went out later than I expected and was feeling pangs of hunger as I prepared. This was due to only having a small breakfast hours earlier. SNAP contains a combination of antioxidants, electrolytes and carbs and the whole package (I had just half) is only 110 calories. I expected it to taste good, but this was legitimately great. Good enough to compete with real candy.

It didn't occur to me until I'd reached the first half mile that my effortless running may have been enabled by the supplement. Despite forceful winds chilling the already cold air, I felt great, engaged and ready to cover more miles. I didn't work out yesterday (though I covered a lot of ground on foot) so perhaps that break from running helped me today. But the positive experience I had with SNAP made me want to try it again.

I covered the business park and an adjacent neighborhood before turning back towards home. I enjoyed the run, but maybe I'm just brainwashed by the endorphin effect. I'll blame my middling performance on the combination of head-on winds and the hilly route around he park. No matter, I finally broke 5 miles for the first time since early March. Compared to the others, it's still not impressive distance, but it did push me out of my gully.

Friday, April 5, 2013

No race next week : (

I had no opportunity to run today, but I did cover enough territory on foot to reach my daily distance goals. I know this because my Fitbit has a full charge and it dutifully recorded my every move. I'm planning to go for a few extra miles tomorrow instead of doing speed work. Here's why:

This would have been my fifth straight year running it
I'm sad that this race (that my family enjoys so much) is being postponed. I hope it's due to something bureaucratic and not a personal issue affecting the race organizer's family. So no race to train for at the moment. Maybe it's a good opportunity to return to the Bethpage trail this weekend.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Battery failure, goodbye data

Today's workout (elliptical): 26 minutes

I was able to sneak in an elliptical workout this morning. I didn't do a full 30 minutes because of my schedule. I figured that all the city walking I'd planned to do would constitute a full workout. I just checked my Fitbit to see how much ground I'd covered, but it had shut down due to having a low charge. I wouldn't mind, except the device doesn't warn you when the battery is low. Neither does it provide you any way of checking the level while in use. I'd write more today, except the battery on my phone has dropped below 10%, so I need to conserve. Technology tools can provide great data, but this dependency on batteries can be annoying.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Spring run in winter weather

This morning it felt like this
Today's run (street): 3.4 miles

I'm pressed for time this week and I'm concerned that I won't even have time to do my scheduled workouts tomorrow and on Friday. Today had its scheduling challenges, so I made sure that I got outside for a run before being consumed with the business of the day.

Yesterday felt a lot like spring, but this morning felt just like winter. I didn't want to deal with the cold, so I added enough layers to be comfortable from the start. The sun was bright, and the air was dry and crisp. I couldn't bring myself to follow my usual neighborhood loop that, after hundreds of runs, has become extremely tedious. Instead, I charted a new route that was different enough to distract me a little.

Pounding the pavement didn't provoke any soreness or pain from my hip and I was grateful for that. Although I had dressed to battle the cold, the extra layers I'd worn were making me sweat. I found myself appreciating the freezing winds that hit from certain directions - nature's air conditioning.

I wish I could say that the cold helped me to run faster today, but that wasn't the case. I knew I wasn't making my targeted pace and all I could think about was how woefully unprepared I am for my upcoming 5K. The possibility of missing my next two workouts can't help that situation. Then again, two day's rest might be the perfect setup for some good speed work this weekend.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Fast week, faster run

Green light, please proceed with speed
Today's run (treadmill): 3.2 miles

This week is going by fast. I cannot believe tomorrow is Wednesday. Yesterday was a blur, involving much work that would contradict the notion that I have retired. The good news is that I'm liking the situation, especially since it only involves dealing with the Long Island Railroad a few times a week. Monday is my usual rest day, and I greatly disappointed my Fitbit by falling short of my daily goals by a substantial margin. I made up for that a little today.

The problem of not having a day that starts at 3:30 AM is that I end up having less day to work with. Even though I'm getting up at 5:30 AM now, my workouts and runs are colliding with morning commitments. Much of that is my own fault. Instead of rolling out of bed and then right out the door for a run, I'm taking time to have coffee, watch the news and see the kids off to school. At that point, it's a competition to see if I can fit in a run before my first call, meeting, or appointment of the day.

This morning I had an early call, but I had the flexibility to push it forward enough to allow a treadmill run. It was sunny outside and the temperature was in the 40's when I was ready to start. Even so, I stayed indoors to save the precious fifteen minutes I'd need to stay on schedule. Today's run was a bridge workout, where I would introduce speed in a way that would protect my recovering hip.

I started at a pace close to where I finished on Sunday's run, and started increasing my speed once I'd been running for 15 minutes. I've had no issues with my hip since last Friday and, after two pain-free runs, canceled my orthopedist appointment that was scheduled for this morning. Today felt like just another treadmill run and I think I can go a little more aggressively tomorrow. I hope I'm not fooling myself into thinking I'm healed when I'm not. Listening to my body helped me recover fairly quickly. Now it's saying, "Go for it."
 

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