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

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Six miles on the BBT

Today's run (Bethpage Bike Trail): 6.2 miles

Now that I'm back to daily commuting, weekends have become more essential. My consulting schedule provided a lot of time flexibility during the week, but I now need to use Saturday and Sunday for most personal tasks. Included in this is running. At this point, I'm cramming in all my week's running between Friday and Sunday so I have to make every run count.

I debated this morning whether to run the trails at Stillwell, or return to Bethpage (for the first time since Brooklyn) to run the bike path. I'm anxious to try out my new Cascadias, but I was was concerned that Stillwell's parking lot would be overrun with cars because of all the Saturday soccer games. So Bethpage was the better choice.

I parked along Colonial Road and got onto the path just north of Haypath. It was 63° and sunny with low humidity. I headed north and immediately encountered a number of cyclists coming from the other direction. There was a pronounced wind coming from the north that made progress difficult on hills. I reminded myself that the wind would work to my advantage after I reached my turn around point.

Although the bike trail goes all the way to Woodbury Road, I usually turn back at the LIE underpass. This gets me to 4.5 miles before I pass by the spot where I usually park. That was the case today and I continued south until I'd covered most of the northern trail. The run itself was very pleasant and I moved along well through it all. Unlike most times, cyclists far outnumbered runners. In fact there were so many bikers, I though there might be a cycling event happening.

I ran by feel today and was once again puzzled by my pace. I'm confident that I could have matched last year's pace for a 6 mile training run had I'd pushed harder. However, what seemed like something I once could do with a normal effort now requires a race day mentality. Still, I was happy with today's performance and I really enjoyed being outside on such a beautiful spring morning. I'm still thinking Stillwell for tomorrow. I hope this great weather continues.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Stress testing in sixteen steps

Not as fun as it looks
Today's run (street): 3.4 miles

Despite my resistance to the idea of taking a stress test, I finally acquiesced and went through it this week. My experience at the end of the Brooklyn Half provided the impetus to do it. Actually, it was strong encouragement from my wife, the Runsketeers and my friend KWL that made me go through with it.

If you've never gone through a stress test (this was my third), you should know that it's not particularly stressful. But it sure takes a long time. I don't know if the process is universal, but at my doctor, the process goes like this:

1. Arrive at doctor's office at your scheduled time.
2. Wait an hour to be called in.
3. Wait for the doctor in the exam room. You can pass the time by reading your chart on the computer display (at least that's what I did).
4. Have a conversation with the doctor about how you ended up in the medical tent after running a half marathon. Hint: his response will always be, "I want you to run a stress test today."
5. Have an EKG.
6. Have blood taken.
7. Have an heart ECHO sonogram.
8. Go to stress test lab and wait.
9. Get your first injection of thallium, a radioactive isotope that's used as a trace agent during the imaging process. Very reassuring.
10. Go into the imaging room and get scanned for 12 minutes.
11. Go into another sonogram lab and have carotid arteries checked.
12. Go into the room with the medical treadmill, where the technician attaches electrodes all over your body attached to a belt unit that you wear during the process.
13. Start at walking pace, with the goal of getting heart rate over 140. She ended up putting the incline to 16% and the speed to over 5 MPH to get me there.
14. Get your second injection of thallium and wait.
15. Get your second imaging to compare to the first after exercise.
16. Go home six hours after you arrive.

The good news is that you do get feedback throughout the process. My doctor said my EKG and ECHO were fine, the sonogram tech said the same about the carotid check and the treadmill technician said I didn't have a single missed beat during my session. I needed my doctor to review the imaging results. If there were concerns, I would have got a call yesterday. All of that, and no issues.

So why am I running so slow?

My doctor's office should now deliver my clearance form so I can use my company's fitness center. I can then do workouts in the morning when I get into the office. Without that, my options are either to go back to 4 AM runs, or work out when I get home from work. I worked from home today and got in a few miles before I started what turned out to be a busy day. It's the weekend now, and I hope to give those Cascadia's their first experience on the trails either tomorrow or Sunday.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

And all this time I thought I was running!

 It's official!
This past Sunday I wrote a post about my declining pace performance. I showed a graph with speeds in MPH based on GPS watch data. My Garmin often under-counts my distance, so the speeds on the graph are probably 3.2-4% slower than my actual average speed. I was a little surprised to see a comment that seemed targeted to the lowest pace on my graph. The comment said, "The official name of anything below 5.5 is 'walking.'''

This is good to know, because all this time when I was running 10-something paces for ten or more miles on the Bethpage trail, I thought I was actually running. But what about those race-walkers that reach paces in the 6:00/mile range? Very confusing. Technically, I believe it is considered running when both feet leave the ground, versus walking, where one foot always remains on the ground.

I know this commenter was just being sarcastic (if a little mean). Perhaps he/she can clear up some other questions for me, such as, "What's the official difference between rapping and singing?" In the meantime, I'm declaring anyone who calls themselves a runner to be one. And no matter what speed they actually run, it's still running.

Monday, May 26, 2014

SA Elite bargains: Cascadia, coat and curry

Trifecta
My new schedule doesn't provide much flexibility for running during the week, so I considered using my Monday rest day for my first workout of the week. I'll admit that I've taken it easy since the half marathon, running only three times last week for a total of 12 miles. That was due primarily to a lack of time in my work schedule, plus a couple of days that I'd planned for recovery.

The weather this morning was sunny and cool and I felt like getting outside. Despite having limited running time, I decided to walk around the neighborhood. It's a different experience walking roads that I usually run, and a little strange to be "the walker" when the occasional runner passes by. But when you walk, you notice details you never see on a run. You can also appreciate the smell of the spring air a lot more when you aren't focusing on using oxygen for fuel. I ended up covering about three miles. Very pleasant.

We didn't have a very Memorial Day themed holiday today, although we almost got caught in the middle of the Westbury parade. Our destination was The Gallery at Westbury Plaza on Old Country Road. This shopping center had four places of interest: SA Elite (for me), The Paper Source (for Mrs. ER and the kids), Trader Joe's and Noodles & Company.

I've been wanting to return to SA Elite, a Sports Authority specialty store that only carries adult running clothes, shoes and gear. My Brooks GTS-10's, that had a 600 mile career as my primary running shoe and perhaps another 800 miles as my weekend casual shoes, were due for replacement. I went looking for a shoe bargain, like the one I got on my Saucony Virratas last year.

As soon I walked in, I spotted a very nice Brooks running raincoat, but it was priced at $85. A lightweight coat like this is my white whale, and I've been looking a long time for a replacement for my ASICS rain jacket that has a broken zipper. Whenever I look at these jackets, they always seem to be too expensive, in weird remainder-type colors or either size small or XXL. I soon found an ASICS packable jacket priced at $40 but discounted to $29.95. This jacket had a hood (bonus), was available in my size, and looked good. Sold!

Next, I headed to the shoe section, first to the clearance section where I found a pair of Brooks Cascadia 7's priced at $39.99. They were a half size too large, but that would have been okay for wearing as a casual shoe. Unfortunately the Cascadia 7's were the color of vivid green camouflage and Mrs. ER rejected them for anything but running. After trying on a pair of well-priced ASICS Nimbus-14's that didn't fit as well as I'd hoped, I spotted a pair of Cascadia 8's in conservative blue and grey. $47.97 and my size. Ring 'em up!

After that, we headed next to Noodles & Company, where we could all have the genre of food we wanted as long as it was noodles. Or soup. Or salad. I had the Bangkok curry noodles. Fantastic. This is my new favorite place.

This was a great long weekend, with perfect weather. I'm not a fan of shopping, but today was really great. Now that I have the Cascadias, I'm definitely thinking trails next weekend.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

The history of my running speed

Directional declines
Today's run (street): 3.6 miles

I decided to do some data mining on Garmin Connect to compare my historical averages with my current performance. In order to keep the information consistent, I only used data captured from one source, my Garmin 210 that I bought in 2010. I know I've lost a lot of speed over the past year and my interest was in seeing whether my recent history is an aberration, or if it merely reflects a long term decline.

Charting the trends reveals a changing relationship between race speed and overall speed. My average pace has followed a linear decline, but my race paces have dropped measurably since 2012. Up to 2012, I generally paced 7.5% better in races compared to my overall average. After 2012, that gap has closed and is now almost equal to my training run times.

As I often say when working with business data, these findings are only directional. The Garmin data, acquired by GPS, has a variable margin of error. I tried to correct for that as much as I could, but the numbers do have some skew. I only selected runs I'd tagged as "street running" to filter out slower trail paces and faster track paces. It's also important to note that the 2014 data is only through May 25, not a full year.

In terms of these findings, I'm not happy to see declines, but at least the drop-off has not been as sharp as I'd suspected. I did today's run as a tempo, taking it easy through the majority of the distance and picking up the pace more at the end. The last mile was a minute faster than the prior few, and I finished feeling great. I wish I could tap into that speed more often, but based on my recent race performances, it's a little more complicated than just trying a little harder.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Running in the right direction

A subtly better run 
Today's run (street): 4.4 miles

This morning's run was 25% longer than yesterday's and 1% faster. In other words, better. What the numbers don't show is how I felt during and after the run, and that's real reason why I was pleased with today's workout.

Friday's run was the first one I'd done since the Brooklyn Half and, after five days rest, I'd hoped for a good rebound. What I actually got was a rough 3.4 miles featuring a cranky stride and more fatigue than the distance should have produced. Rather than benefiting from an (almost) full week's recovery, I felt as if I had over-trained. I don't know if it was related to the run (or a fairly intense week at the office), but I was tired for the remainder of the day.

This morning was sunnier than Friday and a little breezier. I didn't get out as early as I'd planned because I got caught up watching an episode of Lillyhammer with my son. Worth the wait. Once I got outside, I was ready to run. There was no delay with the GPS this time, 20 seconds and I was good to go. The air smelled of cut grass and something that might have been mesquite. I took off in a direction that bypassed the landscaping crew trucks that were parked up and down the road.

I had targeted four miles for my run today without any particular route in mind. I encountered some runners and walkers along the way and I observed a number of people packing up their SUV's for what I guessed were Memorial Day getaways. I felt relaxed and tried to open up my stride as the run progressed. Overall, I slightly improved on yesterday's pace.

I may go out for a little more distance tomorrow, depending on how our schedule goes. While I didn't see a dramatic improvement in performance over yesterday's, I certainly had a more encouraging experience. I finished the run feeling strong and had no after-effects like I did when I finished Brooklyn. After feeling a little down about running this week, my motivation is on the rise.

Friday, May 23, 2014

First run after Brooklyn

 
Today's run (street): 3.4 miles

It's only been six days since I ran the Brooklyn Half, but it seems like a long time ago. I'm sure that's due to a five day hiatus from running and the fact that my business focus is taking up most of my attention these days. I planned to take more than my usual three days off from running after Brooklyn and it wasn't until this morning that I finally got out on the road again. I'd hoped that all the rest I've had this week would result in an energizing run. Not quite, but it wasn't all that bad.

It was a gloomy morning and I'll admit to being less than motivated to do this workout. I had a lot of business items that I could manage from home today, so I replaced some of the time I'd be driving to the office with a short run. The skies were growing darker, so I got out early to try to beat the rain.

It took almost ten minutes for my Garmin to acquire its signal through the low cloud cover. I grew increasingly anxious as the progress bar on the watch moved slowly to the right. It repeatedly went 9/10ths of the way before dropping back toward the middle. I'd almost gave up on timing the run when it finally showed ready.

Once I got moving, I began to think about the run itself. Three miles was my target, give or take a few tenths. It seemed inconceivable that I'd participated in a 13 mile race less than a week ago. I wasn't feeling a long run, but I figured I could easily handle three miles today. The temperature was a mild 58°, yet I felt a slight chill with my short sleeve shirt and running shorts when I stepped outside.

With only one workout done in the past week (40 minutes on treadmill, not running), I was dealing with tight muscles. My stride felt cumbersome and mechanical. My form evened out after I'd fully warmed up and my cadence began to feel more natural. Even though it was a short run, my performance was marginal. I didn't try to push today as this run was primarily about getting back to routine.

I have hopes of putting in a couple of longer runs over the long weekend and, if possible, try to get in a trail run. My motivation remains fairly low right now, but that can probably be corrected with a couple of good runs.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Race Report: 2014 Brooklyn Half Marathon

Runsketeers represent!
PHOTO ILLUSTRATION COURTESY OF KWL
Yesterday's run (NYRR Brooklyn Half Marathon): 13.1 miles

My quads are aching this morning, no doubt due to the pounding that my legs took running down Ocean Parkway yesterday. The last five miles felt endless, but the final 200 meters along the Coney Island boardwalk made the experience all worth it. Although my performance wasn't great (2:25), it was in line with expectations. More importantly, it was a great day spent with great friends, each of whom ran excellent races.

After the horrible attack at the 2013 Boston Marathon, security has been stepped up at most major races. Due to this, race participants were asked to arrive extra early and were restricted in terms of what could be brought to the race. As a result, I only brought things that I could carry on my run or things I could discard. I ended up not "donating" my extra layer that I wore to stay warm before the start. In retrospect, I wish I had (at least) taken it off during the race.

My day started very early. I'd set my alarm for 2:35 AM so I could be fully prepared when my friends arrived at my house at 4:20 AM. The plan was for me, TPP and Runska-buddy LS to drive to my friend KWL's house in Queens. SIOR was to meet us there at 5:00 AM where we would then be driven by a friend to Grand Army Plaza near the race start. It was a tight squeeze in Mark's SUV, but that all went according to plan.

Clearing security
PHOTO COURTESY OF SIOR
Walking to corrals
Crowds building prior to the start
After going through security, we walked along Eastern Parkway, past the Wave 2 corrals and made our way to check out the starting line. We took some pictures and proceeded to the baggage drop off where KWL handed off his bag that contained items belonging to members of our little crew. Soon after that, speedsters SIOR and LS headed over to the Wave 1 corrals that started 45 minutes earlier than Wave 2. KWL, also a speedster, was relegated to Wave 2 due to his bib number.

ER, LS, SIOR & TPP looking fresh and ready
PHOTO COURTESY OF KWL
TPP and KWL near the baggage drop off
TPP and I walked around and tried to stay warm in the chilly, breezy 58° weather. We found a grate in the street that was supplying a little heat and stood on it for about 15 minutes. We were soon joined by other runners who had the same idea. We decided to head to an area that's adjacent to the Brooklyn Museum that had direct sunlight. We hoped that would keep us warm. KWL eventually came by, and we hung out a bit before going into our very crowded corral pen. People were very friendly and I enjoyed talking to other runners as we prepared for the start.

TPP and me waiting for the start
PHOTO COURTESY OF THE PETITE PACER
The Brooklyn Museum was the center of the start area 
PHOTO COURTESY OF THE PETITE PACER
View of KWL's corral
PHOTO COURTESY OF KWL
TPP and I were in the 6th corral of the second wave. We made our way to the starting line and began running once we crossed over the mat. Off we went! As I made my way down Washington Ave. with TPP at my side, I thought, "This is it. I'm running Brooklyn!" I adopted a brisk but sustainable pace and moved well for the first couple of miles that wended around the Botanical Garden and Grand Army Plaza. Prospect Park was designed by Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux who also designed Central Park. It's beautiful, though hilly, but much more manageable than some of CP's challenges.

I had hopes of finishing around 2:10 and was on track to do that through my first three miles. I thought that the seven miles in and around Prospect Park would be the toughest part of the race, but the final five miles really took a toll. I was discouraged to see my split times increasing after the fifth mile and by 10K, my overall pace had increased by 30 seconds. I felt okay as I ran, but was unable to generate much speed.

Once we came out of the park and headed towards Ocean Parkway, I had hopes of making up some time. The straight run down Ocean is primarily flat, although there was a small climb as we made our way up the ramp and turned left towards the road. The park provided a lot of shade, but Ocean Parkway was lit up by the sun. I kept telling myself to remove my long sleeve top layer that I'd planned to discard. For some reason I didn't. I'm not sure if that would that have made a difference, but had I done it, it probably would have helped.

I felt every mile, but never felt overly taxed until the end. I dutifully stopped at the Gatorade and water stations and, although I wasn't making good time, I felt fully in control. A woman who I was chatting with in the corral told me how the cross streets along Ocean Parkway are in alphabetical order. Watching the letters change gave me a sense of progress. In my two previous half marathons, ten miles is where I began to really feel the effort. Once again that was the case. I locked into a sustainable pace and tried to hold on for the final 5K.

I could see the Belt Parkway overpass in the far distance and I focused on that. Soon after, I saw the 20K sign and did the math in my head that I only had half a mile to go. We turned onto Surf Avenue where the roaring crowd of spectators provided a huge wall of sound. I spotted the Cyclone and the sign saying 800 meters to go, beginning the longest half mile of the race. We turned left toward the boardwalk and I saw the 400 meter sign. I was so ready to finish. When I saw the chute in the distance, I gave it everything I had.

The finish line, a sight for sore eyes and legs
PHOTO COURTESY OF KWL
I crossed the line and collected my medal, feeling completely drained. I downed a cup of Gatorade and grabbed a banana and made my way through the crowd. KWL found me and I sat down feeling overwhelmed. As in previous long runs and races, I felt a little light headed. KWL got me a space blanket and TPP gave me her cup of water. LS got me more water and I took a GU gel to try to get more electrolytes into my system.

LS, SIOR and TPP relaxing post-race
PHOTO COURTESY OF KWL
I was still light-headed even after taking fluids and electrolytes. My friends decided that I should visit the medical tent and I walked over with SIOR, TPP, LS and KWL. TPP spoke with one of the medical workers who allowed me to bypass the line and brought me right in. They put me on a cot, made me swallow two salt packets, drink Gatorade and eat a banana.

The EMT took my blood pressure which was a little low. The doctor said that the pounding my legs had taken had pooled blood below my waist and that lying down would help. It was feeling back to normal soon, but they insisted on running an EKG (I guess they had to run these tests due to liability concerns).

They eventually retook my pulse which had returned to normal and released me. Once I reunited with my friends we walked over to the street on our way to the F train that would get us back to Queens. We quickly realized that the F train back would take us over an hour, KWL suggested we take a car back to his house. He flagged down a limo, negotiated a great price, and we were soon on our way.

After we arrived at KWL's we collected our race bags, gave each other hugs and said our goodbyes. SIOR had driven her own car and headed off to LI while LS and TPP rode back with me. The LIE was like a parking lot, but chatting with LS and TPP made the time go by quickly. We arrived at my house and said our goodbyes.

It was only around 1:00 PM, but it already felt like a very long day. Despite my side trip to the medical tent, it was a great experience. I so appreciate the generosity and support of my friends. They happen to be extremely fun and interesting people and that made a good race great. I don't care a bit about my time and finishing when I did was not a great surprise. My race performance has definitely declined over the past two years and I'm planning to get a checkup to make sure everything is on track.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

An interesting day in Brooklyn

 
This morning started early and involved some complex logistics. The Runsketeers and our Runska-buddies managed our way from the top of Prospect Park to the Coney Island boardwalk, along with 27,000 others. We had lots of fun running the NYRR Brooklyn Half. I'll post a full race report tomorrow.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Brooklyn Half: The calm before the storm

7 miles around the park then five straight to Coney Island
The Brooklyn Half will happen in less than 24 hours. This will be my third half marathon and my first NYRR race. My training for Brooklyn started well and stayed on track until I accepted a full time position on top of my consulting practice. This caused my training program to go off the rails. However, until this week, I did manage to maintain my targeted weekly mileage.

Today is dark and gloomy and heavy rain is predicted for a good part of the afternoon, going all the way past midnight. Better that happen today than tomorrow. I'm working from home today, which will involve a busy morning. Later in the day I'll turn my attention to preparing for the race.

The increased security practices that have been put in place after the 2013 Boston Marathon are restricting what can be carried to races. I need to figure out my gear strategy since the only acceptable bag for race transport is being distributed today at the pre-race party that I cannot attend. Fortunately, SIOR and her entourage will be able to hold our stuff and hopefully get it to us at the finish.

I'm looking at tomorrow with a combination of excitement and curiosity, although I'll admit to being a little nervous about the logistical complexities. I also need to run 13.1 miles in the morning. I've done it before, and my weekend base runs should have prepared me for that distance. The last time I ran a half marathon was in 2012 and I managed to meet my performance goal. Unless I find some unexpected strength and energy that will allow me to maintain a competitive pace, I will be running this race purely for the experience tomorrow.

A large part of the excitement tomorrow is the shared experience. The Runsketeers (SIOR and TPP) will be there, plus friends LS, KWL, FS (among others). I've only run in Brooklyn once, when Adventure Girl and I crossed the bridge through DUMBO and then north to the water. I've always wanted to run in Prospect Park and, from the course map, it looks like I'll be spending more than half the race in and around it. Once we leave the park, it's a straight shot along Ocean Parkway. I hope the wind is coming from the north on Saturday!

Until then it's waiting time. Morning will come soon enough and my friends will be at my house by 4:30 AM as we begin our journey to Grand Army Plaza. This should be fun.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Runsketeers weekend, dinner and a Mother's Day run

Me and the moms (minus SIOR's chin)
Yesterday's run (street): 5.7 miles
Today's run (Bethpage trail): 9.6 miles

This has been a Runsk-terrific weekend. Yesterday, our queen of speed, SIOR, hosted a great dinner for our small group, including grownups and kids ranging in age from 2 to (almost) 16. The food was great, the company was great, and the energy level was high. TPP and I finally got to meet Mr. SIOR, who was a personable and welcoming host, and their fantastic, adorable kids. It turns out that Mr. SIOR and I have some friends in common. What are the chances of that?!

Earlier in the day on Saturday, I went out for 5.7 miles around my neighborhood. My new schedule makes it difficult for me to run during the week, so I needed to cram some mileage into the weekend. The run itself was unremarkable, though I worried that a mid-length run on Saturday might affect my running performance today. There are a number of reasons why I fell short of my planned distance of 12 miles today, and that could have been a factor.

Today's Mother's Day long run started in different places for the Runsketeers. TPP and I met along the bike trail north of Haypath Rd with the goal of eventually meeting up with SIOR, who was starting her run at the southern end of the Massapequa Preserve. TPP and I ran north and turned around when we reached the point where I'd calculated that our southern direction would get us to the Bethpage lot in time to rendezvous with SIOR.

For different reasons, the timing had us at Bethpage earlier than expected. Me and TPP waited about 10 minutes before resuming out southern direction with the intention of intercepting SIOR along the trail. We all met up at the bottom of the big hill right before the lot, and ran north, making a brief stop at Bethpage. We all got water from the fountain because, while it was relatively cool, it was extremely humid. The two "rests" along the way may have contributed to a degradation in my ability to maintain pace. In retrospect, I think it was my failure to bring a water bottle that made my last miles very difficult.

We ran further north and I watch SIOR grow steadily smaller as she opened up space between me and TPP. TPP was able maintain a better pace than me and I followed about 30 feet behind her until we met up with SIOR who was waiting for us at Old Country Rd. SIOR suggested taking a picture at that point, which was a good idea since we often forget to do that. It would have been great to get a selfie at dinner last night, but we never got to it. I think that's because we were having too much fun to think about it.

Shortly after we took our pictures, I reached the point where I needed to stop running. SIOR continued all the way to Sunnyside Boulevard (mind blowing, considering all the miles she'd already covered and the challenging hills north of Washington Ave). TPP ran another mile and met up with me where I'd stopped. After she returned, we started walking back to our cars knowing that SIOR would eventually catch up. That happened about a mile north of where we parked, so the three of us got to have a nice talk without anyone worrying about finding an oxygen tank for me.

I ended up covering 9.6 running miles, plus those walking miles at the end. I wanted to finish my Brooklyn training with 12 miles, but I didn't quite get there. I think with a resting taper, carrying water and maintaining a consistent pace next Saturday, I'll be able to get through the distance. There's no way I'll PR and there's a good chance I won't beat my original half marathon time when I ran with an injured knee. But Brooklyn is about the experience and being with friends. I hope they won't mind waiting for me at the end.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Better late than never

Today's run (street): 3.3 miles

Things are heating up with my new job and I've been a little concerned that my training schedule would suffer. That was the case yesterday. In order to avoid traffic that makes a 45 minute drive take an hour and a half, I've been leaving the house around 6 AM. I used to run on weekdays at 4:00 AM to get in my daily workout, but I'm not looking do that anymore.

I was resigned to the idea of, once again, missing a run. After a stressful morning I stopped feeling resigned and started feeling guilty. Once I had things in order, I decided to hit the road early to avoid traffic. I debated the idea of doing an elliptical workout when I got home, but the weather was perfect. I quickly changed and headed outside.

I'm definitely a morning runner, so going out in the late afternoon felt a little off. I'm sure my 11 miles on Sunday had something to do with that, along with a tiring day at the office. Getting through these miles was easy, but I wasn't particularly fast. I'm clearly behind the curve in terms of performance and I have no expectations of a PR at Brooklyn. I hope to get in another run in before Saturday, even if I have to do it in the afternoon.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

11 miles of fun and friends on the Bethpage trail

This was the best shot of me (out of 3) so imagine the others
Today's run (Bethpage bike path): 11 miles

This morning I set out to cover 11 miles on the Bethpage bike path. It was the company of friends that helped me manage so well and made the experience great. Prior to today's run, my longest run in 2014 was 9.7 miles. This was a 12% mileage increase, but I felt fine throughout the run.

We were hoping to make this a full Runsketeer run, but SIOR had to attend the soccer games and track meets for her dozens of children (4 really). TPP and I met up near the Bethpage trail and started our run north. We were hoping to run into Jonathan who I met on the bike path a couple of weekends ago. Our hopes were met when we saw he and his wife Katherine running in our direction. We quickly fell into formation running south.

Jonathan and Katherine are training for an upcoming marathon in Vermont and they have been training a lot on this bike path and the dirt trails that run close by. Bethpage provides a lot of hills and that's probably good since they'll be racing in Green Mountain country. We ended up running about two miles together before our friends, who'd started about three miles north of our starting point, turned back. They are great people and I look forward to running with them again.

TPP and I continued our run, going beyond the north trail head, passing through Bethpage State Park and then further south past Hempstead Turnpike. We turned around at 6.25 miles. On the way back, TPP unleashed her inner greyhound and began to insert 100-200 meter bursts of speed. She's very quick and I can see why she was a sprinter in high school. If she was the hare, then I was the turtle, maintaining the same pace throughout most of the run. I did pick up my speed a few times as we got closer to the finish point, when I felt I could spend some energy.

TPP, in living color
The trail wasn't as crowded with runners as it normally would be on a pleasant Sunday. Perhaps everyone was off running the LI marathon, half and 10K today. Still, there were cyclists and some runners. TPP, with her vivid attire, got her share of admiring looks. TPP felt that today's run was a good affirmation of her current conditioning and I felt the same. After covering 11 miles and feeling great, 13.1 miles in Brooklyn feels far less intimidating.

Our next Runsketeer event will be very different (more to come on that) and SIOR will definitely be a big part of that. We really missed her today. I'm very pleased with today's run and I owe much of it to my friends who make me a better runner.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Liked my run and loved my park

Been there, didn't do that
Today's run (street): 4.6 miles

I'm working through my new work schedule and trying to find the time to fit in all my training runs. I caught a break on Thursday by working from home. That was good for over six miles, something that I couldn't have done if I was driving to my office that morning. I was back to the drive on Friday morning and couldn't fit in a run before that. The saving grace is that my new office is in an enormous building and I cover a lot of ground on foot during the day.

This morning I targeted 4 miles around the neighborhood. I plan to run as close to 11 as I can on Sunday. Just for a change, I wrapped my run around the neighborhood, following Jericho Turnpike west to South Oyster Bay road and then onto Terrahans going east. The change of scenery was welcomed and I figured that this new route would distract me for the first two miles and make the overall run feel shorter. That sort of worked, even though I added another 2/3 mile to my distance.

I feel that I'm running exactly the same way and expending the same amount of energy that I did a year ago. Now my typical pace is now almost a minute slower. I used to be able to sustain sub-9 paces with a focused effort. These days I'm happy when I see that I've averaged mid-9's. Today I didn't even break 10:00. I'd hope that my weekly speed workouts would have moved the needle, but I've seen little payoff from it.

Later in the day, we all headed to Caleb Smith State Park in Smithtown for "I Love My Park Day." Last year we planted a tree and were looking forward to this year's tasks. However, when we arrived at noon, the event organizers were wrapping things up. Our information said that activities would go until 3:00 PM, but it was incorrect. We were disappointed, but it didn't prevent us for spending an hour hiking the trails.

If everything works out, we'll have a Runsketeer run tomorrow morning that includes a couple of guest runners (J who I met on the bike trail two weeks ago and his wife). I'm very curious to see how I hold up for 11 miles or more. Only two more Sundays before the Brooklyn half, and I need to make them count.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

The elusive convergence of speed and distance

 
Today's run (street): 6.4 miles

I was channeling Chicken Little yesterday as I made my way through my 4:00 AM run. All the hard training I've done up to this point seemed to be for naught and I struggled to get through 25 minutes of moderately paced treadmill running. Some of that was likely due to the very early hour and fatigue from my abrupt change in daily routine. Today's run was far longer, and much better than yesterday's, but it wasn't particularly fast.

My new work engagement provides a lot of scheduling flexibility and today I was able to work from my home office. That let me fit in a medium length base run and cover my longest distance since last Friday's 9.7 miles. This spring weather is puzzling, but I won't complain because there's no snow on the roads and temperatures haven't yet reached oppressive levels. However, my decision to wear shorts and short sleeves made me feel chilly throughout much of today's run.

I was concerned that I'd suddenly lost some endurance, but I could tell from the first few steps off my driveway that I would easily cover my targeted miles. That was good news. What isn't so good is that once I go beyond 85% of HR max, my stamina starts to slip. I can handle endurance or speed, but not both together. With only a couple of weeks until the Brooklyn half, I should be farther along in terms of performance. I don't expect to PR on the 17th, and I'm not even confident that I can break 2:10. I'm going to continue to focus on base because, while speed is desirable, endurance is what gets us over the finish line.
 

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