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, August 28, 2016

Gateway to smooth running

Elderberry winds down smoothly
Today's run (street): 4.4 miles

I finally got out at a decent time this morning while the sun was still casting long shadows. It was hot, but the shade and a slight breeze hid that from me. At least it did throughout the first mile. I ran through my neighborhood enjoying the favorable conditions, listening to the late summer sounds and appreciating the quiet Sunday morning roads.

At mile one I was barely sweating and I hoped that the humidity was lower than what had been reported. It turned out to be wishful thinking. As I made my way around, I soon began to feel it, especially in the areas with direct sun. I went south towards what we call the "Gateway" neighborhood which has some long shady roads.

I'd stopped running in the Gateway neighborhood a while back because the condition of Ashford Drive & Elderberry Road, the longest of the long streets, had started to resemble the surface of the moon. I had prepared to step carefully through the worst parts, but once I reached Ashford, I saw that the whole span had been repaved. It was smooth and shady and a wonderful surprise.

Today's route
I wasn't monitoring my distance, but I'd assumed I'd covered at least three miles by the time I started heading back home. When I was getting closer to my house I heard my Garmin beep, telling me that I'd passed 4 miles. By then I was completely sweat soaked and realized that the humidity was as high as reported. When I mapped my run later with Gmaps, I saw that my Garmin had again under-counted distance, this time by 5.4%.

Getting out really early turned out to be a good thing as it left me lots of time to get things done today. One thing I did was look at DC Rainmaker's site to see what he currently likes for GPS watches. DCR strongly recommends the FR230/235 (the 235 is $80 more but has an optical heart rate monitor). I'm going to shop around to see how it's priced.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Inner enlightenment isn't improving my pace


Today's run (street): 4.25 miles
Yesterday's run (street): 3.2 miles

Those of you who know me personally will likely agree that I'm a pretty chill guy. Make that chilly. I get cold a lot. In terms of being calm and centered, I have a way to go. I recently read an article in Men's Journal called the "The Distracted Man's Guide to Meditation" and have embraced what the author refers to as "focused attention" meditation. It's a very simple breathing exercise that reminds me of the primary karate form (Uechi-ryu sanchin) that I would often practice prior to a stressful meeting or presentation.

This focused meditation exercise takes 19 seconds, although it can be repeated as often as needed. Breath in for four seconds, hold for seven and breath out for eight. That's it. In a very short time, you will shift your focus solely to breathing and will release anxieties in the process. It works anywhere and doesn't require mantras, sitting in a lotus position or burning incense.

I don't mean to suggest that I've moved one inch toward self actualization by doing this, but it's a good in-the-moment tactic when things get stressful. The combination of this exercise and a significant reduction of sugar have both made a positive impact for me. Unfortunately, none of this has translated to an improvement in my running performance except in terms of much better stamina. And that's probably due mostly to weight loss.

Yesterday morning I went out for my Friday pre workday run. I got out extra early because I had to bring my car to the dealership before my meetings started. It was a typical workout, the early hour shielded me from the hot sun but the humidity was clear and present.

This morning started early, but circumstances prevented me from getting out until 8:30 AM. Although they were touting low humidity, I found plenty. My running has reached a new equilibrium point. I can run longer and more comfortably, but I'm not going any faster. When I think about things like stride length and cadence I'll see some short term gains. By and large, I'm still where I was a month ago.

Shortly after starting  my morning run, a car drove up beside me and the driver asked me if Stillwell Park was close by. I told him I wished it was (imagine if Stillwell's trail head started in my neighborhood) but that he'd need to drive a couple of miles to get there. I gave him directions that he didn't write down so I hope he was a good listener.

Since my Garmin FR210's strap disintegrated, I've been carrying it on my SPIbelt. It works, but it's difficult to read the display while running. Having it on my hip rather than my wrist seems to affect accuracy as well. Today it measured my run 4.2% shorter than actual (per Gmaps). I'm going to have to break down and get a new GPS watch. Any suggestions are appreciated.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Yelling nice things on my runs

Weekend route triptych
Today's run (street): 3.4 miles
Yesterday's run (Bethpage bike trail): 5.1 miles
Friday's run (street): 3.2 miles

Every once in a while my enthusiasm for running ebbs a bit. I'd guess that most runners experience peaks and valleys over the years but sticking with it is the thing that defines us. I am doing better these days in terms of stamina, but, right now, I view running mostly as a means to retaining fitness. I'm not detached from it, but I don't think about it as often as I usually do. I know my enthusiasm will eventually return.

Even so, I am getting my workouts in. Friday I ran around the neighborhood before my workday started, covering my usual 5K route under very humid conditions. I'd hoped to defray some of the heat by getting out early enough to avoid direct sunlight. Unfortunately, the sun had other plans and it ended up being a hot and soggy run.

Yesterday I headed over to Bethpage to run the bike trail. I started about 8:00 AM which was probably two hours later than I should have gone out. Running in shade made it bearable. I've minimized my  sugar intake for over a month now. Besides losing ten pounds, I've also come to expect easier runs. For the most part I have, most noticeably in the way I feel at the beginning (no more starting struggles) and at the end (plenty in the tank for finishing fast). Yesterday, that was the case, except when I had the dual displeasure of dealing with big hills and baking sun.

At one point in yesterday's run, I was coming down past the water fountain south of Haypath when two guys started calling to me. As I got closer I heard one of them say, "Is that Greg? We thought you were our friend Greg." I said, "No, but I'll bet he's a good looking guy!" (yes they laughed).  Later on, after I'd turned around at Bethpage Park, I saw a guy who was dressed like me: white hat, sunglasses, reddish running shirt and gray shorts. I wanted to yell, "Hi Greg!" but I didn't want to freak him out.

This morning I managed to get out a little earlier because I wanted to be back in time to watch the start of the Olympic men's marathon. I was really happy to see Galen Rupp get the bronze, but disappointed for Meb who had an issue mid race that put him far back in the field. The other American, Jared Ward, finished 6th. Go USA!

I stuck close to home for today's run, and changed up my usual route. I was coming down the hill on Jericho, past a Starbucks, when I saw a guy walking out to his car eating a bag of chips. He looked at me as I went by and said, "You're making me feel guilty for eating this for breakfast." I shouted back, "There's no bad time to eat potato chips." I'm such a wit.

I ended up covering 3.4 miles, a little more than I planned. I was also extremely lucky because the moment I finished my run, the skies opened up to a downpour. Like my prior two runs, I didn't know my distance until I'd finished. That's because I have to stow my Garmin in my SPIbelt due to the broken strap. As much as I'd like to continue to run with the FR210, it's impractical. I need to decide whether to replace it with a new Garmin or look at models from the numerous competitors that have come into the market with reasonably priced GPS watches since I bought mine in 2010.

We're supposed to get some relief from the humidity next week and I would welcome that greatly. Perhaps the cooler, pre-fall weather will restore my enthusiasm for all things running.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Running blind to time and distance

One lacks GPS, the other lacks a strap
Today's run (street): 3.75 miles
Yesterday's run (street): 4.5 miles

They ran the Dirty Sock this morning and I cannot imagine how those poor runners managed through 6.2 miles of hot and steamy air. Make that wet air. Air that you can feel without a breeze. The humidity today and yesterday could only be described as brutal. Despite that, I did get out Saturday and today, although there was nothing about my running that could be mistaken for a racing level effort.

Yesterday was the first time I ran without my FR210 on my wrist since I bought it, and it was disconcerting not to be able to monitor time or distance. I put the watch in my SPIbelt and tried to listen for the chirp that indicated mile splits, but I was unable hear them. Without that information, I had to guess my mileage based on the route I was running. I was surprised at the end to see that I'd covered 4.5 miles in sweltering conditions. I got home and jumped in the pool wearing my running clothes. Learning from past errors, I carefully removed my phone, Garmin and Fitbit before diving in.

This morning I'd planned to get out before the direct sun added to the already hot day. Unfortunately, I didn't actually start until 7:40 AM. By then, the air felt like a steam bath. After yesterday's experience  running without either distance or time indicators, I decided to put a new battery in my old FR60. At least I'd have a stopwatch to reference.

Equipped with phone, Fitbit and two Garmins, I set off into the heat and humidity. I still couldn't monitor my distance progress unless I pulled my GPS watch from my SPIbelt, not an easy thing to do while running. I felt like I ran more than 3.75 miles, but in this weather, that was more than enough.

Running with 1 1/2 watches is going to get old real fast. My FR210 wristband has further disassembled past the point where I could repair it with this cool hack. I should probably buy another GPS watch, but that seems wasteful because both the watch and GPS part of my FR210 still works. I'm open to suggestions.

In term of this weekend's running, my paces today and yesterday were glacial. Still, I enjoyed the fact that I'm getting through every run without worrying when fatigue will kick in. Even though conditions were suboptimal, I never once wished these runs would end. If I had run the Dirty Sock today in this weather I would have gotten through it. But not very quickly.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Short and sweat

All the kings horses and all the black tape...
Today's run (street): 2.6 miles

So very hot and humid this morning. I probably should have stayed indoors, cranked the AC, and set the treadmill and floor fans to max. Instead, I decided to brave the mid-August swelter. I can usually endure any type of weather for three miles (or in today's case, something less to that) and would have done 3+ today, but I had very little time to run and shower before my first meeting of the day.

Gimme swelter
Despite conditions, I was eager to get outside,. When I picked up my Garmin, the bottom half of the strap separated from the top, despite the awesome repair work I've been doing with electrical tape. My sister-in-law told me about some material that will fix rubbery plastic like this wristband, but I fear it's too late to save the FR210.

I ended up taping the watch all the way around and that secured it well enough to get through 2.63 miles. I really don't want to do that every time I want to take it on a run. The watch itself works fine so I guess, for now, I'll stick it in my SPIbelt. There is a hack to fix a Garmin that suffered wristband failure, but it requires that the first two loops that connect to the watch case be intact. One side is beginning to rip, so maybe not.

So what to do? I can continue carrying it with me or I could buy another watch. I've had this Garmin for about five years and it has served me well. I don't like replacing technology that still provides utility, but in this case it wasn't the technology that failed me.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

O Canada and fitting in some running

Land of maple leafs, moose and fun
Today's run (street): 3.3 miles
Sunday's run (treadmill): 20 minutes
Friday's run (street): 3.25 miles
Wednesday's run (treadmill): 30 minutes

My running over the last week has been a blur. The only clarity being today after we returned from a trip. I worked from home on Wednesday and did a treadmill run. I got outside and around the neighborhood on Friday. I needed to fit those workouts into busy work days and didn't do a good job of tracking my treadmill mileage.

View of the Green Mountains
We headed to Montreal on Saturday and made a stop in northern Vermont to see my brother and his family, along with my mother who was visiting from Florida. We were only passing through for a few hours, but we made the best of it and the kids loved spending time with their cousins. All too soon we were on our way to Canada.

Cool happenings at Place des Arts
We stayed near McGill University in area that was adjacent to a lot of nice restaurants and close to the Place des Arts. I did a treadmill run in the morning on a machine that was not up to my standards for a fitness center unit. I was tired from travel and struggled to get through 20 minutes at an easy pace. Well it looked easy on the display, but it felt much faster. I ended up covering 16,000 steps that day, so I didn't mind the short workout.

Swim, Bike, Run in the Old Port
We met up with friends who live in the city and had a great time with them. While we were in the Old Port we stumbled into the middle of the Montreal International Triathlon. There were runners and cyclists flying along sectioned areas and swimmers in the St. Lawrence River. We needed to sprint to get past at the cross points.

Montreal has a lot of energy and it reminds me so much of Europe. My brother had mentioned that Les Habitants "didn't get the memo" that smoking is pas bien. Unfortunately that proved to be true. On the positive side, we covered a lot of interesting ground and had some great meals. We were sorry when we had to head back home.

When we got back, I went out for a run around my local streets to cap off a really nice mini vacation. My running was back to where it was prior to that hotel run and I did well considering the heat and humidity of the day. I really would have liked to run outside when we were away, but the timing didn't work out. The next time we go back - and we will - I'll definitely do my running on the rue.
 

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