Running quote of the week

“I finished Boston last year with my hands over my eyes wiping away the tears. The people lift you up the entire race.”– Sam Ryan

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Some improvement running at Bethpage

Making strides
Today's run (Bethpage trail): 5.1 miles

I'm happy to report that I was not the dog's dinner on today's run. I wanted to break away from my neighborhood and headed over to Bethpage to run the bike trail. I know I should be running 6 or more miles at least once a week to raise my base, but that hasn't been happening. I wasn't prepared to do six today, but I thought five was reasonable.

With 9 MPH winds, the real-feel temperature was 42°, although it felt much chillier. If my running jacket hadn't been ruined yesterday, I may have worn it as a top layer. I was lucky not to have that option because I heated up a lot as I progressed. By the end, I was regretting my second layer, hat and gloves.

The run went okay, but the hilly route felt ponderous. I felt a little rough throughout the first half mile and realized that I'd only covered a tenth of my targeted distance. I hoped that my aerobic engine would soon kick in. I cruised along, tolerating the ups and downs of the rolling course and dreading the mini-mountain I knew I'd need to climb at the start of my last mile.

Most of the run was at my usual speed but, near the end, I began experimenting with different pacing. I shortened my stride and increased my cadence while maintaining the same level of effort. I didn't know this at that time, but this change provided a measurable improvement in my pace.

I don't know if I can permanently adapt to this running style, but if I'm successful, I should be able to improve on my current performance. I plan to try doing it for longer periods in hopes that it will begin to feel more natural.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Attacked on my run

Ruff running
Today's run (street): 4.25 miles
Yesterday's run (street): 3.2 miles
Thursday's workout (elliptical): 30 minutes

This is not the post I expected to write today. I thought my theme would relate to our experience having dim sum with Runsketeer KWL this morning, or how much difficulty I had during yesterday's run. Instead, I'm going to talk about the curious incident of the dog in the run-time.

Earlier in the day, the Emerging Runner family got together with our buddy KWL for a delicious (and filling) meal at a cool place in Flushing, Queens. Dim sum (per Wikipedia) is a style of Cantonese cuisine prepared as small bite-sized portions of food traditionally served in small steamer baskets or on small plates. We had a great time, tried a lot of new foods and didn't need to eat again for the rest of the day.

Dim sum central
Our schedule was tight this morning and I wasn't able to run before we met up with KWL. Although I prefer running early, I was left no choice but to go out later in the day. As I'd mentioned above, Friday's run was tough. It was a combination of end of week fatigue, 19 MPH winds and real feel of 20°. Today was nine degrees warmer and the winds were somewhat less intense and I got off to a good start.

My goal today was to cover 3-4 miles depending on how I felt. I was inspired by something I'd read in Runner's World that suggested running your usual route backwards to keep things interesting, I did that for the first half and then settled back to my usual direction. It was shortly after I'd passed my third mile that I encountered my attacker.

There were a number of people walking dogs this afternoon and I saw group about a hundred feet ahead of me. As I got closer I realized they had two dogs, one small and the other a large standard poodle. They were walking with traffic on the right side of the road, on the same side as me. As I passed them by, the poodle jumped towards me and, although I shifted to the right, the dog managed to clamp its jaws on my left forearm.

Fortunately, I was wearing my ASICS running jacket that prevented the dog's teeth from breaking my skin. I pulled my arm away and yelled, "your dog just bit me!" The owner said "Sorry" and I went on my way, thinking that it was nothing more than a scare. About a quarter mile further I turned my arm and saw that the dog had ripped a big hole in my sleeve.

I was mad and decided to retrace my route in hopes of intercepting the dog's owner down the road. I really liked that jacket and I wanted these people to be accountable for the damage. The group wasn't where I expected them to be, and I kept running until I caught them on a connecting street.

Dog bite timeline
I was upset and told the guy that he owed me for damaging the jacket. He said, "Absolutely" and offered to pay, saying he'd bring me a check by that night. And he did! So now I get to buy another running jacket and that makes getting chomped by a giant poodle totally worth it.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

The Runsketeers talk a lot about a supermarket

KWL, TPP, Stewy, ER
Today's runs (Bethpage and neighborhood): 4.6 miles total
Yesterday's run (street): 3.4 miles

I was not feeling too well on Friday morning and elected to postpone my run until after business hours. I had a busy day, but felt even worse by the end. I considered doing a workout at that point, but decided there would be no fitness benefit. I took sinus medicine before bedtime which caused much restless sleep. By morning, the pounding sinus headache was gone and I was excited to get outside for a run.

We've had a lot of snow and ice since late January and I hadn't run outdoors in over a month. I've made my peace with the treadmill but being on the road on Saturday was a welcome joy. Still not feeling 100%, I managed to get around the neighborhood without much problem. Unfortunately, I was not fully recovered and conked out by early evening. That was probably related to the rigorous hike my son and I did in Cold Spring Harbor later in the day.

Long climb to the top at Cold Spring Harbor
This morning I met my Runsketeer buddies for the first time since the New Year's Hangover run. Between schedules and weather it has been tough to find a weekend to get together. SIOR and KWL were looking to run about 10 miles and TPP and I were looking to do less, so we met them in the Bethpage lot after they'd covered five.

We decided to head north and things got off to a rocky start with a discussion about running pants that I still don't understand. That was the first of many discussions we had today that didn't make a lot of sense. TPP and KWL took the lead and SIOR and I ran and chatted until she stopped to walk because my pace was so slow it hurt her knees. We walked almost a mile where we caught up with the other two and ran together back to the lot.

I felt badly that my inability to run my friend's preferred paces interfered with their objectives for today's workout. But they never complain about that and supported the fact that I wasn't feeling great today. I had expected to run at least three miles today but, with the walk, I fell short of that. But I got to have a great conversation SIOR without my usual huffing and puffing.

I'm sure SIOR did this by accident
We decided to switch venues and went to a different Starbucks today. After coffee was ordered, we began the first of many interesting conversations. SIOR, TPP and I talked about strategies to restore my speed to previous levels before we got into some serious discussions. We began with the extremely complex subject of supermarkets. Actually a supermarket called Stew Leonards that recently opened in the area.

I am not kidding when I say that it took over a half an hour to successfully explain the following:

1. Stew Leonards is a supermarket.
2. There is also a Stew Leonards wine store.
3. They are not the same thing.

Once that bit of highly intellectual discourse was completed, we moved onto less challenging subject matter: whiskey appreciation and rock climbing walls. As usual, the time went by too quickly and we needed to start the non-running portion of our days.

Probably due to these energizing discussions, I decided to go for a couple more miles when I got home. Although I ran pretty slowly with my buddies, I did a little better on my second run, I'm sure that being warmed up with my earlier effort helped that.

Back to the work week tomorrow. I'm hoping to do at least four workouts this week and dedicate one of them to speed. SIOR made a point that adding distance is a good way of increasing performance. I should probably work on that. I reached my top performance when I was running six days a week and my speed has declined commensurate to the drop in run frequency. I don't have an easy way to get back to that schedule. But the point is, this is not easy.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Musically mindless on the treadmill

Rock on, but watch your back
Today's run (treadmill): 3.3 miles
Yesterday's run (treadmill): 3.4 miles

Happy President's Day. While my Runsketeer buddies were doing 8-12 mile runs out in the freezing cold this weekend, I took the path of least resistance. That would be the treadmill, and it's probably more disinterest than resistance. I've bashed the treadmill enough this weekend, so no more complaining until next week.

I've determined that watching scripted TV shows doesn't work for me when I run indoors. I have a lot of trouble concentrating on the dialog and plot. I do better with news but they run the same stories over and over. That repetition eventually becomes tedious and the commercial breaks are frequent and long. However, I think I've found my solution: music.

Instead of watching the news yesterday, I switched to one of the cable music channels. I listened to 70's music which didn't require any concentration. Perfect. I occasionally switched to a different station when a slow ballad came on, because faster tempo songs better matched my stride rate. I did the same this morning and had to admit that listening to music made the time go by much faster.

I used to listen to music when I ran outdoors, but I stopped due to safety concerns. I also used to listen to Pandora, but the Sole treadmill would pass along big shocks through my headphones. Our FreeMotion machine is far better behaved and I can probably go back to doing that without fear of electrocution. Plus the treadmill has big speakers that would negate the need for headphones.

In the case of my source of music I'll probably end up following the path of least resistance once again and stick with the cable music station. It's easy and there's no commercials, unless you count the ads for geriatric home care and other products targeted to the 70's channel demographic.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

A choice between boring and freezing

Today's run (treadmill): 3.2 miles
Yesterday's workout (elliptical): 30 minutes
Last Sunday's run (treadmill): 3.2 miles

It's cold. The real feel in my town is -5° and it's going down to -16 tonight. I'm doing my best to avoid the freezing weather. I haven't been in a blogging mood so I didn't post anything about last Sunday's run. Here's my writeup for 2/7:

I got on the treadmill and ran 3.2 miles and then stopped.

I worked from home on Friday. I would normally do a neighborhood run before beginning my workday, but due to our tight morning schedules, my wife and I had the same time window for our workouts. She doesn't care for the elliptical and I don't mind it, so we divided up the machines and exercised together. It was like having our own version of Equinox in the guest room. The only thing missing was the juice bar.

This morning it was even colder. The sidewalks are still covered in snow so there was no way I was going to run on the street. I liked the change of pace using the elliptical on Friday, but I really felt I needed to run today. The heat in the house was not energizing and I stalled as long as I could before facing the treadmill. I didn't expect to enjoy the run.

And I didn't. Treadmill running would be tolerable if there was a way to turn off  my brain or redirect it from a constant thought-stream that usually goes like this: "OMG is this boring...I can't believe I'm still on the same minute...why do the news stations have so many commercials..." I find treadmill running very tedious without the sense of progress I get when running outdoors.

To distract myself and combat my treadmill frustration, I challenged myself and pushed my speed to the edge of tolerable. Actually, that was only true for the last half mile. Most of my run involved self pity. I ended up having a pretty good run which is different from have an enjoyable one.

The weather isn't supposed to be much better tomorrow and we have a full day planned, I expect to be back on the treadmill in the morning. Yay.

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.
 

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