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

Monday, May 30, 2016

An entire post about a little rubber loop

If you look closely you can see my perfect repair job
Today's run (treadmill): 3.2 miles

I've had my Garmin FR 210 for over five years and I've been pretty happy with it. Sure, it sometimes takes more than five minutes to grab a GPS signal and a close look at the GPX file on Google Earth shows why there's always a margin of error in the reported distance. Those things can be managed. It's why I Gmap every run I do for exact measurement. However, there's one thing about Forerunners that gives me pause. If the strap wears out, it can't be replaced.

There are hacks I've seen online that address this flaw, but they're a little complicated. So far my strap has held up, but the retaining ring has broken twice. The first time it happened I was able to fix it with electrical tape because it broke down the middle. Today it broke again, this time along the edge where it's harder to wrap tape or otherwise secure it. I did my best to repair the loop, but it looks ugly and I worry that it will break and I'll lose my watch.

An online forum had a poster who suggested using a plumbing O-ring. But I'd have to go to Home Depot for that! Amazon sells one for $4.49. Maybe I'll make the investment, since they're offering free shipping. Based on all the posts about these things wearing out. I'm wondering why Garmin doesn't include a replacement.

I suppose I could go super low tech and use a small rubber band, but anyone looking closely at my watch may realize that I'm not quite the style icon they thought I was. For now, it's being held in place by a whole lot of tape. If it breaks, I'll have an excuse to buy the Forerunner 630 with a color display.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Lost and found running in the Bethpage woods

Excuse me, where am I?
Today's run (Bethpage State Park trails): 3.6 miles 

I really like long weekends that follow a work-from-home Friday. That's eight times I don't have to deal with highways, bridges and stop and go traffic. Plus, I get to be with my family. So far, the weather has been clear and that's allowed me to get in runs over the past three days, including today.

I was fairly exhausted when I got home from yesterday's run. My wife was in the backyard painting the deck in the blistering heat. She asked me to run to Home Depot to pick up another can of paint. I heroically got back into my air conditioned car and drove over to get another gallon. Our deck now looks brand new, thanks to me. She washed the shed and deck around the pool area today and I would have gone back to Home Depot if she needed anything, because that's who I am.

Mrs. ER's masterpiece
I was ready to help at a moment's notice
This morning I drove over to Colonial Road so I could run the path to the trail head at Bethpage. I cut in near the new building that has a water fountain and also appears to have rest rooms. Those facilities must be extremely clean, because I've never seen the gate open to the public. I paid careful attention to the trails I was on because I usually get lost when I run there. Within twenty minutes I was lost, but I knew I'd eventually come upon familiar terrain.

That was actually true. I did not one, but two loops that landed me in the same spot close to the big field. It didn't really matter, but my random direction running looks a little crazy on the route map. It's ever crazier when you look at the animation in Google Connect that traces the route you ran from start to finish. Besides going in circles, there are a few abrupt changes in direction and one dead end at Plainview Road.

I didn't realize the Greenbelt ran through this park
Bethpage's trails are well groomed and the running experience is less treacherous than at Stillwell. Like Stillwell, there are lots of little critters running around the woods. In one case, a cottontail rabbit jumped into the path directly in front of me. Instead of darting into the woods, mister bunny stayed the course, zig-zagging from one side of the trail to the other for a few hundred feet until he cut away into the bush.

Once I felt I'd spent enough time in the woods, I looked for the route that would connect me back to the bike trail. This wasn't as easy as I hoped and I ended up doubling back a few times until I found my path. The last half mile on the paved trail was rough, as the sun was beating down and the route was mostly an incline. It wasn't my best run, but I enjoyed the experience.

Tomorrow I'll probably be stuck indoors on the treadmill. But due to the holiday, at least I'll have an extra day to run.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Street running without giraffes

Giraffes would have made this run memorable.
Today's run (street): 4.2 miles
Yesterday's run (street): 3.2 miles

Happy Memorial Day weekend. So far, my running has been anything but memorable. Yesterday's run was awful from start to finish, with a combination of tired legs, low energy, sun, heat and humidity. I plodded my way through my neighborhood and frequently reminded myself that I was getting closer to home. I hoped that I was getting the bad stuff out of the way and that today's run would be better. It was not.

I tried to stack the deck in my favor this morning by putting on my lightest gear and getting out early. I didn't feel as fatigued as I did on Friday and the cooler temps got me off to a good start. My plan was to run over to a different neighborhood that's directly south of mine. I moved along at a steady pace. Make that slow and steady. Actually, just slow. Really slow. It wasn't Friday's torturous experience, but I didn't feel good about a mediocre run following a bad one.

The one good thing about today's run was the interesting route map that was created by my Garmin. I couldn't resist getting my AI robot buddy CaptionBot to weigh in on it. I definitely would have enjoyed this run more if I ran into giraffes along the way.

Monday's weather is supposed to be stormy, so I'm looking to get out of the neighborhood on Sunday. I may head to Stillwell if I'm up to the challenge or to Bethpage where the trails aren't as technical. I really hope that I'll break out of my current performance malaise soon. I'll be stringing four runs together in four days, something I haven't done in a month. Perhaps by Monday, I'll have made some positive progress.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Track run and a come from behind story

Lapping up the miles
Today's run (track): 5.3 miles

It was helpful to have today's workout already planned so I didn't waste time determining where I'd go and what gear to wear. As expected, there was light rain falling when I got up. I decided to give it until 8:00 AM to go out, hoping that the wet weather would soon move off. By 8:15, the rain had turned to a light mist and I headed over to the high school track.

Although the temperature showed 54°, I felt chilly in my short sleeve shirt and shorts. I'd taken along the running raincoat that I bought to replace my dog-mangled jacket and wore it for the first two laps. Even with an unventilated top, I stayed fairly comfortable, but I was starting to sweat. The rain had completely stopped at that point, so I ditched the coat.

At the time I arrived, there was only one other person on the track. This was neither a walker nor runner. It was a pied piper with a rolling speaker that was blasting out an energizing mix of music. As I ran by this man, I saw a group of high school aged girls gathering around him at the top of the oval. I realized he was the track coach and practice was about to start.

It's always tricky to do a track run when a practice is going on. I did my best to stay out of their way, keeping to the outside lanes as much as I could. I like to alternate running direction every six laps and, the first time I ran clockwise, I saw the girls practicing 200's. While they took a cool down lap, I noticed the distribution of runners. There were a few at the front, a larger group in the middle and a couple of others running ten feet behind the middle group. Further behind was a final runner and she didn't look very happy. I felt badly for her.

When I came around on my next lap, I saw the coach lining everyone up to do an all-out 400. Two runners quickly broke away, leaving the rest of the pack behind. I was surprised to see the straggler from the cool-down moving up to the front. She pulled ahead and it was like watching the Preakness again. This girl ended up finishing well ahead of the others and I was happy for her.

I lost count of my laps, but had 5.3 miles on my Garmin by the time I finished. I felt almost as strong at the end as I did at the start, making for three good runs this weekend. Not only that, I hit 15K steps both yesterday and today. I probably should start using a heart rate monitor again to help me differentiate between real and perceived effort. It may help me push harder if I see that I'm training in a lower zone than I realized.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Neighborhood run around

Old neighborhood, new directions
Today's run (street): 4.75 miles
Yesterday's run (street): 3.25 miles
Sunday's run (Bethpage): 5.1 miles

Another busy work week resulted in a zero workouts between Monday and Thursday. Last Sunday I went to Bethpage and ran along  the northern end of the bike trail from Haypath to Washington Ave and back. I worked from home yesterday and got in a surprisingly brisk run around my neighborhood. This morning I planned to meet SIOR at Massepequa Preserve for a group run, but I had an unexpected issue that delayed me from getting out early enough.

Everything worked out and I considered a number of places to run (the track, Stillwell, business park...) but ended up sticking close to home. My one  concession to routine was to run without a planned route. I picked a direction and chose lefts and rights at random. After seeing the route map on Garmin Connect, I realized that it looked pretty much like my usual pattern. What was different was the order and direction that made it seem like a different experience.

Only so many ways to cover these streets
Two years ago this weekend, me and my buddies ran the Brooklyn Half. There's no way I'd be ready to do that today. I want to start working on my base and hope to get in five or more miles tomorrow. According to the latest prediction, the weather should start to clear around 8 AM.  I may bite the bullet and go out earlier even if the rain is still coming down. Maybe I'll run at the track. If the rain gets too bad, I'll never be more than 200 meters from my car.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Heroism by the book

A worthy sequel
Today's run (street): 3.2 miles
Thursday's workout (elliptical): 30 minutes

I'm reading an interesting book by Chris McDougall called Natural Born Heros (NBHs). McDougall wrote Born to Run, which launched the minimalist running movement. That craze has since given way to maximalist, pontoon-like trainers from Hoka and other shoe companies, but I still love my Kinvaras. Natural Born Heros is about athleticism and self defense that is developed through practical need rather than controlled competition.

The through-line story in NBHs is about how Churchill's special agents worked with Cretan shepherds and farmers to significantly disrupt Hitler's progress toward Russia during WWII. Like Born to Run, McDougall writes a lot of about physiology, especially the role the fascia plays in energy efficiency and power. I'm only halfway through the book but I understand running technique is discussed further in the story.

This was a particularly busy work week for me, so much so that I ended up going into the office every day. I count on my work-from-home Fridays for one of my weekly runs. Knowing that wasn't going to happen, I did an elliptical workout the night before. This morning I needed to get back to the road, but that didn't go too well. I can't explain it, but I couldn't really get going this morning. I tried to appreciate the pleasant weather and the fact that I wasn't stuck on the treadmill. All the same, I was glad when the run was over.

If I'm up to it, I may head to Bethpage tomorrow and would like to cover at least five miles. My running buddy SIOR is up in Kennebunk for the 2016 Shipyard Maine Coast Marathon. She's running it with a friend who's doing his first marathon. I'm wishing them both lots of fun and I'm hoping she breaks 3:30!

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Mother's Day soaker run

Gray skies are gonna clear up
Today's run (street): 3.5 miles

Happy Mother's Day. In the spirit of the holiday, I got going early so I could get my run out of the way before celebrations ensued. These celebrations included gestures of giving, such as making the bed before my wife could and putting up a shelf that resembles a surf board for my daughter. That one was trickier than it sounds. I plan to empty the dishwasher too. But don't hold me to that.

It was dark and gloomy before 7 AM and I thought about using the treadmill for a nanosecond. I quickly decided that running in the rain would be a preferable choice. Out the window, the precipitation seemed minimal, although the weather report warned that Long Island would be getting more rain. I put on my new running rain jacket, the Spira XLTs that I use in wet weather and some wool socks that came in handy during the run.

Predictably, the rain started to pick up the minute I stepped outside. I mapped a route that looped around my immediate neighborhood. I figured that if the weather got really bad, I'd never be more than a half mile from my house. I put on the jacket's hood and took off. Despite the 49° temperature and the high humidity, I still felt a little chilly. I knew that my jacket, with its lack of venting, would warm me up as I went on.

My 1.2 mile loop
I expected to be the only one on the road this morning and was surprised to see people out walking and riding bikes. I suspect those people scurried for cover once the skies opened up. The humidity began to fog my glasses. Between that and the rain, my forward visibility had been reduced to to less than 30 feet. But 30 feet was all I needed.

Around mile two, my fogged view prevented me from noticing some pooling at the intersection of two connecting roads. I cursed when I felt the water saturate my right shoe. The only thing worse than running in the rain is running with soaking shoes and socks. Fortunately, I had a pair of Ballston socks that can get soaked and still provide warmth and blister protection. It wasn't the most pleasant feeling, but neither is running in the rain in general.

My three loops totaled 3.5 miles which I thought was a decent effort on such a miserable day. Had I waited a few more hours, I would have been running in sunny, but windy conditions. But I got my run done by 8:00 AM and my Fitbit captured over 7,000 steps in the process. Time for more Mother's Day celebrating. For the record, I did empty the dishwasher.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Fitbit fits and multicolored running

These colors do run
Today's run (street): 3.6 miles
Yesterday's run (treadmill): 3.1 miles

I really liked my Fitbit yesterday, because it showed that I had reached 6,500 steps after my morning run. I really despised my Fitbit this morning when I checked post-run and saw that it didn't record a single step. What a waste of exercise. The saving grace is that my Garmin captured my run and, using the SPM metric and elapsed running time, I estimated that I ran about 6,400 steps. My Fitbit will never know this. Adding insult to injury, I expect the Fitbit to put a message on the display tonight shaming me for moving so little today.

After eight straight runs over my vacation break, I had a long layoff. My return to the office resulted in no running until yesterday. I was able to determine that my average step count during a work day is about 5,500 and I've been adding about 5,000 more when I got home. If I can't fit in runs Monday through Thursday, I need to generate more steps at work. I've been using a stand up desk in my office for the last year and that's better than sitting, but it's impolite to stand during meetings and worse to pace around the conference table.

The weather this week has been cold and rainy. Yesterday I stayed inside and used the treadmill. As I ran, I thought about how much I dislike the treadmill experience. I tried to think about the positives - the softer surface, no wind resistance (except for the fan), no broken pavement, no cars, and no hills. I had the TV to distract me and I could just set my pace and zone out. Unfortunately, it doesn't quite work that way for me. I usually turn off the TV after a few minutes because it starts to annoy me. The lack of true forward progress feels futile. My only thought is that every step gets me incrementally closer to finishing.

This morning started with rain, but I had to bring my son to the high school and wouldn't have been able to run before then anyway. By 9:00 AM the skies had cleared, and I got outside for a neighborhood run. There was a lot going on for us, so I wasn't able to cover that much distance. I appreciated the cool air and the cloudy skies. My run almost felt automatic. It was as if I was riding along, rather than doing any work.

While my son was getting through his SAT and I was running through my neighborhood, my wife and daughter were at Citi Field participating in the Color Run. This is a non-competitive run where participants get sprayed with colored corn starch along the way. The "race" starts in the corridors under the ball park and winds through the playing field and then around the stadium area. It was a fun pre-Mother's Day activity and definitely more fun than taking the SATs.

Tomorrow is officially Mother's Day so I'll need to get out early. I hope the rain will stay away long enough for me to get a few miles in.
 

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