Running quote of the week

“It’s an honor to hit the wall… If you hit the wall you know you gave it everything.” – Lauren Fleshman

Friday, September 30, 2016

Garmin FR 35: I never saw it coming

Welcome back data
Today's run (street): 3.2 miles

This afternoon the fine folks at UPS dropped off a package at my house. I opened the box and saw that it contained a Garmin Forerunner 35 GPS watch. I really wanted the FR35 to replace my FR210 that I lost on the Bethpage trail a couple of weeks ago. Interestingly, I never ordered the watch. It wasn't until my wife told me that my friend and fellow Runsketeer KWL had sent it. I couldn't believe it, but I was very excited.

One of the reasons KWL wanted me to have the watch was to encourage me to focus again on my performance when I run. The FR35 has a lot of tracking features including an optical heart rate monitor that obviates the need for a chest strap. I prefer to run by heart rate/zone rather than pace and I'll be able to do that easily. It also works as an activity monitor. I didn't realize that until it rudely beeped at me and said "Move!" on the display.

I wish I had this watch when I went out this morning on my run. Instead, I ran with my stopwatch. That was fine, but I missed being able to track time and distance. All the same, the stopwatch did give me some useful feedback. I generally run the same route every Friday and knew exactly where I'd hit the one mile mark. Although my stopwatch was securely attached to my SPIbelt, I was able to catch a glimpse of the elapsed time. I saw that I ran the first mile 30 seconds faster than my most recent (improving) pace.

Going forward, my challenge will be choosing to push performance rather than enjoying the experience of a free form run. Today's conditions were cool and fairly dry and my running felt easy. I ran faster than I have in many months but it didn't feel hard. It felt great. I can push even harder and run even faster, but I don't know how far to go with that. I'm going to target 85% max HR tomorrow and see how that feels. If it feels okay, maybe a little speed will be worth the extra effort.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

This fail is all on me

Post-fail elapsed time
Today's run (street): 4.5 miles

Once again, I encountered a problem timing my run and this time it was self sabotage. Without a working watch to help me keep track of time, I took my stopwatch that I sometimes use for intervals. That simple tool would give me everything I'd need to calculate my performance on today's run. I've had so much bad luck with the devices I use to capture my running metrics that I decided going low tech was the right path. What I didn't count on was how easily I could screw that up.

The weather was perfect when I went out this morning. There was no sign of humidity and the strong breezes cooled without biting. I love fall running and easily settled into a steady rhythm while I mentally mapped out my route. I've been taking advantage of the new sidewalks along SOB Road that provide a nice straight section that goes on for a while. As I neared the end of that road, I stopped for a moment to check my time. I put my hand in my pocket to pull out my stopwatch and my finger brushed the reset button. Before I looked, I knew I had wiped out my time.

Gmap'd route
I stood in front of the town library and thought about what to do. I had only a hazy idea about when I started my run so that wouldn't help me calculate my overall time. The one thing I knew was where I was when I checked (and screwed up my time) so I could use that as a starting point for timing the rest of my run.

Now where did I put that cheap trinket?
I restarted the stopwatch and continued along through my last miles, pushing harder than I had before my timing failure. The cool weather helped a lot and I probably would have gone further if I was able to track my actual distance. Now that I know how easy it is to accidentally reset the stopwatch, I'll be a lot more careful. A few years ago Runners World sent me a "running watch" as a subscription premium (see above) that was laughably cheap looking. I put it away somewhere. At the time I dismissed it as junk, but who's laughing now?

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Bad Garmin, bad judgment

How far & how fast? Garmin's not talking
Today's run (street): 4.4 miles
Yesterday's run (street): 3.2 miles

My stopwatch would have been a better choice than my FR 60 on today's run, but I didn't realize that until I was about three miles in. That's when I experienced another Garmin meltdown. I naively thought that the Garmin was back to its old self because the timer seemed to be working again. I wasn't able to pair it with my foot pod, but I didn't really care. In fact, even if I could, the data would have been flawed because I hadn't calibrated the foot pod in six years.

It's finally fall and that means the weather is much more run friendly in the morning. Yesterday I ran my usual Friday circuit a little faster than usual and I was happy about that. I don't know if I've turned a corner in terms of pacing, but I'm generally running 45 seconds to a minute per mile faster than just a few weeks ago. I suspect cooler conditions contributed, but some of it must be due to improved fitness.

This morning I completely ignored what was happening outside and only noted the 59° temperature posted by the local news station. When I stepped outside, I felt a light but steady rain falling. I went back inside to change my running shoes because I didn't want the Zantes to get soaked. I went into the guest room to get new shoes from my gear cabinet and my wife was running on the treadmill. I told her it was raining and she said, "I told you that twice this morning." Actually she had mentioned it, but I'd decided the rain would stop before I went out.

A few minutes later I was out the door with different shoes and my ASICS rain jacket. Despite the extra layer, I stayed comfortable because of a steady breeze coming from the north. I wore the hood for the first mile. Although the conditions were cool, the humidity fogged my glasses. Things got better when I removed the hood when the rain lightened to a mist.

At least Gmaps still works
I enjoyed the cool breeze and the cloud-covered sky and I started to wonder how much time had passed since I'd started. I glanced at the Garmin which showed I'd been running about 30 minutes. I calculated in my head that, based on the rest of my planned route, I'd end up running about four and a quarter miles. About a minute after I'd checked the time, I heard the same sound that I heard at the end of last Sunday's run on the Bethpage trail. Once again, the Garmin's display said "Scanning" and I knew that I'd lost both the timer and my elapsed time.

I finished the rest of my run without knowing how long or far I'd gone. I hadn't taken note of the time when I left, so I couldn't calculate my pace based on post-run mapping and duration. I can estimate it roughly, but the margin of error is wide. I located my stopwatch when I got home and will take that along tomorrow. I'll get a GPS watch eventually, but for now I'll track my metrics like they did in the olden days. By that I mean in 2005 when Google launched Gmaps.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Running Watchpocalypse on the Bethpage trail

Somewhere on that path sits half a Garmin.
Today's run (Bethpage bike trail): 5 miles (estimate)
Yesterday's run (track): 3.5 miles

On November 18, 2008, I published my first post on Emerging Runner. Today, almost eight years later, I'm publishing post number 2,100. I've covered many subjects over that time, and my tag cloud on the left lists well over a thousand of them. This blog has definitely accomplished my initial objective, serving as my training journal and an outlet for communicating with the running community. Writing 2,100 posts took a lot of time and effort, but it's been worth every minute. If it wasn't for this blog I wouldn't have met my Runsketeer buddies who I both adore and admire. Don't tell them though. It would only go to their heads.

Running is a simple thing, but it has its nuance. One aspect that fascinates and frustrates me in equal measure is the technology we use to gather running data. I've been through three Garmins over the past eight years and most of that experience has been good. My original Garmin, an FR 50, served me well until I accidentally destroyed it while replacing its battery. I replaced it with an FR 60 that improved on the 50 and has a far better battery replacement system.

About a year after buying the FR 60, I broke down and bought my first GPS watch, a Forerunner 210. It was big step up from the 60. I liked it a lot, despite occasional issues capturing a signal and the need to replace the data cradle after a while. Recently, the loop that secures the strap broke so I took the intact loop off my retired FR 60 to replace it. Soon after that, the FR 210's strap broke off making the watch unwearable. I returned the loop to the FR 60 and resumed wearing that watch on my wrist as a stopwatch while I secured the FR 210 to my SPIbelt using a keyring loop. That worked fine until today.

Yesterday's run - the FR 210's last map
Yesterday, I went to the local track to get in 14 laps before the sun came up. I had to be somewhere at 8:00 AM, so that was the best way to get in my miles. I ran well and have really taken to the NB Zante 2's that did great on the track. It was a typical track experience with the usual personas walking, running, sprinting and one guy who was throwing a medicine ball around.

This morning I headed to the Bethpage bike trail. My plan was to run about five miles, which I think I did. I'm not sure, because the god of watches decided to mess with both my Garmins today. My run started fine and I was in a great mood. The clouds hid the sun, but not the humidity. I made my way south from Haypath Rd and ran through Bethpage Park almost to the Parkview Court crossing. There were lots of walkers and it looked like a large group had come out together because many were wearing tees that said, "Move It." Early in my run, when I was halfway up a short steep section of the path, a runner coming north shouted, "I hear that hill is pretty steep today." I laughed because it was true.

I ran well despite the humidity and was about a half a mile to endpoint when I reached down to my side to look at the FR 210 and see how much distance I'd covered. There was nothing to grab and I discovered that my Garmin had fallen off the SPIbelt. It was probably sitting on the side of the path somewhere. I doubled back about a quarter mile, but was unable to find it. I was upset, but I've been planning to replace it since using it that way was fairly awkward.

Without a GPS map of my run, I figured I'd look at Gmaps when I got home and use the time from my FR 60 to calculate my pace. Annoyed, I ran the final half mile and about a hundred feet from the finish, my FR60 started to beep and the display blinked, "Scale Not Found" and then "Scanning." I couldn't turn off the message or get back to the timer (or turn that off for that matter). The watch would not respond to the buttons when I pressed them.

So in the space of five minutes, I went from having two functional running watches to none. When I got home I removed and replaced the FR 60's battery. That got it working, but I lost all the data from today's run. Before I could declare even partial victory, the watch started flashing "Scale Not Found" again.

It's time for a new watch, so my search begins in earnest. I doubt I'll have a replacement in time for next weekend. Until then, I'll rely on Gmaps and my $15 stop watch to capture my distance and pace. That should give me something to write for my 2,101st post.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Cool weather returns but so does traffic

Today's route
Today's run (street): 3.25 miles
Sunday's run (street): 4.4 miles 

The weekend is here and I'm very glad about that. Since the school year started, my commute has gone from easy and breezy to not easy and not at all breezy. It takes me approximately twice as long to get to and from my office now than it did the last week in August. Working from home on Fridays makes the prior four day's driving more tolerable. No commuting means I can get in a run before my workday begins.

It was 54° when I got outside at 7:30 AM. The air felt cool but not uncomfortable. I wore the runner's mullet: a long sleeve shirt with shorts, that were perfect for the conditions. I'm getting used to feeling good from the start of my run after a year or so of struggling during the first few minutes. I ascribe this change to weight loss that has come mostly from consuming less sugar. My weight loss hasn't been dramatic, but it's been enough to make a difference in my running experience.

I ran my usual Friday morning loop. Due to the hour, I spent a lot of time running on the sidewalk to avoid maniac parents dropping off their children at the elementary and middle schools. The aggressive driving, speeding and ignorance of stop signs kept me off the road. Running on sidewalks is not my preference, but it's the place to be on mornings like this.

I felt I was running well and my numbers showed it. I paced 8.7% quicker than my current average and I felt like I got around my slightly modified course sooner than I expected. That said, I wasn't particularly fast compared to how I ran a couple of years ago. I'm loving this cooler weather and I'm looking forward to my weekend runs. Tomorrow morning's schedule is tight and I'm hoping to get out early enough to get in some miles before 8:00 AM. Otherwise I'll need to do a rare afternoon run.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

First impression: running in the New Balance Zante v2

Better watch out Kinvara!
Today's run (street): 4.9 miles

It's so annoying when business gets in the way of running, but that happened this week. I missed my Friday morning run because I had to go into the office for a meeting. I did run on Monday because I was home for the Labor day holiday. I don't know if that counts as part of last weekend's activities or it it's part of this week's. I'll have to look in the rulebook to get that answer.

One other thing I did on Labor day was order a pair of New Balance Zante v2s through the Shoekicker site. It was just about a year ago that I got my Kinvara 5s the same way. In both cases I got significant discounts. I have no affiliation with Shoekicker, but I recommend it if you are confident enough to buy a shoe without first trying it on.

I picked the cheapest shipping option and didn't expect to get them for at least two weeks. Last night, in the middle of dinner, Mrs. Emerging Runner said, "Oh, I forgot to tell you, your shoes came today." Here's the thing about me and running shoes. I like them a lot. Especially new ones. I couldn't believe I'd just wasted the past hour having dinner when I could have been trying on my new Zantes. I hurried through the rest of my meal and then scoured the den in search of a box from Jackrabbit Sports.

I purchased the Zantes because my beloved Kinvaras were getting deeply worn on the medial side of the heel.This is the curse of the pronator and, due to the type of shoes I favor (blown rubber out-soles) I tend to wear them out after 500-600 miles. It was the exact reason why I'd replaced my Virratas with the Kinvara 5s last year. Years ago, I ran in less minimal shoes like the Brooks Adrenalins that had EVA and carbon rubber in high wear areas. They were heavier, but I could get over 900 miles out of them.

I've had shoes sent to me by manufacturers to review or mention in the blog. Due to a possible conflict of interest with my day job, I no longer do that. I wasn't paying for those shoes, so I didn't particularly care if they fit me well. When I'm paying, I'm very concerned. There's a moment of truth when I first try them on because there's something at stake and a decision to be made whether to keep them.

Once the Zantes were unboxed, I began to gather impressions. Lightweight, but not as light as the Kinvaras. Nice, breathable one piece upper. Slightly higher drop than the Kinvara, but similar stack height. I've always liked New Balance shoes, but did not like their Minimus models that I felt ran too narrow and had a pronounced bump toward the forefoot. The Zante v2 is very new school, similar to Saucony and Asic's newer, less structured models.

I tried on the Zantes and my first impressions were mixed. The toe box is roomy. That's something I like due to the shape of my foot. However, I was concerned that I ordered them in too large a size. I have to be careful about sizing. I normally wear size 11s and run mostly in Saucony models. The size 11 Zante felt a half a size larger than the Saucony size 11. Due to that, I was concerned the Zantes might run a little sloppy. When I cinched the laces, the upper wrapped securely and held my foot well. A few quick steps around the house and on the treadmill confirmed that they were keepers.

I went out early this morning because I needed to finish my run in time to make an appointment. I also wanted to beat the heat, but there was little chance of that. At least the sun was low and mostly hidden by cloud cover. It was humid but still runnable. I paid close attention to the feel of the Zantes as I took my first steps from my house. They felt stable with no issues with the fit. Toe-off was smooth and responsive. The forefoot was supportive but not overly firm. I felt a little more cushioning than I get from the Kinvara. To be fair, the Kinvara has 500 miles on it and the Zante is brand new.

Just shy of 5
I moved along well and my run felt faster than the numbers indicated. The Zante's mid-sole promotes a rolling gait and the overall firmness gave it a fast feel. I wasn't tracking my mileage but in the almost five miles I ran with them, I could tell that this would be a good distance shoe. I picked up the pace on my last mile and got some decent speed despite the increasingly oppressive humidity.

I'm looking forward to my next run in the Zantes. I decided to get them after reading a review in Runblogger that suggested the Zante as a strong competitor to the Kinvara 7. I wanted a change and I was curious to see what New Balance had to offer. So far, it's an offer I can't refuse.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Labor Day running and waiting for Hermine

Just keep heading east
Today's run (street): 3.8 miles
Yesterday's run (street): 5.1 miles

Happy Labor Day! After experiencing Irene and Sandy, we Long Islanders take tropical storm warnings pretty seriously. Since Friday, we've been planning for disaster and doing things like moving outdoor furniture and pool toys into the storage shed. The Nassau County Office of Emergency Management has broadcast messages warning people to take precautions due to anticipated 55+ MPH winds and flooding. Happily, the storm has taken a more eastern direction that will (hopefully) minimize impact. That said, we could still get rocked with strong winds tonight.

By Saturday morning I'd expected the rest of the weekend to be a washout. I resigned myself to a few boring treadmill runs and was really happy to see clear skies on Sunday morning. I didn't get out until about 8:00 AM, but the 66° weather and 8 MPH breeze made for pleasant conditions. My prior two runs were three milers, so I felt like I should add some distance. I came up with a route that had me going around the neighborhood and through some roads that I don't normally follow.

Since my Garmin's strap separated from the watch, I've been hanging it off my SPIbelt. Without easy access to the watch's display, I have to estimate how far I've ran. Occasionally I'll hear the chirp notifying me that I've passed another mile. Most of the time I'm just guessing. I've probably done over 1,300 runs around my neighborhood over the last 7 years, so my guessing is usually pretty accurate.

Sunday: 5.1 miles by pure guestimation
I'd hoped to get out for 5 miles on Sunday. I ended up running 5.1 without looking once at my watch display. This morning I had no route plan or targeted distance. The skies were gray and conditions were cool and breezy. Once I got going, I decided I'd run about four miles, but I actually did 3.8. I could have restarted the watch and run the extra fifth of a mile, but I'd really poured it on towards the end and was happy with my results.

Monday: lower for distance, higher for speed
Although the temperature was 64° with a 13 MPH wind, I felt a lot of humidity. That could have been due to running the last mile at 9:15. While that may not sound very impressive, it's a pace I haven't run in a very long time. If I do end up getting a new Garmin, I will opt for the the FR235 with built-in optical heart rate monitor. Having that real-time feedback will force me to pay attention to my training zones and will hopefully ease me back to performance running.

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Runsketeers run an easy, peasy three-sey

Bananas, coffee and happily no crickets
Photo courtesy of TPP
Today's run (Bethpage bike trail): 3 miles
Yesterday's run (street): 3.2 miles

Could it be possible that the Runsketeers had not got together for a full group run since February? A look through the Emerging Runner archive confirms it. Unbelievable. Criminal really. Well, no matter, we reunited this morning at Runsketeer headquarters adjacent to the Bethpage bike trail and had a short, pleasant run and a long pleasant coffee-breakfast at Starbucks.

The plan was to meet in our usual spot at 8:00 AM. Although we have met there many times before, it's always necessary that I send out an actual address to my run mates to GPS, lest they end up going to Bethpage State Park instead. That worked, and when I pulled up at 8:00, KWL, SIOR and TPP were sitting curbside talking about some unmentionable affliction being suffered by TPPs paramour. I now understand KWL's expression when I arrived. It was a silent thank you for interrupting that conversation.

The four of us chatted for a surprisingly long time before we started to run. Usually SIOR demands that we get started when I'm about halfway out of my car. SIOR and TPP took the lead while KWL and I followed. Unfortunately, my Garmin had gone from ready mode back to nothing mode. When I reignited the GPS, it wouldn't find a signal or let me start the timer. By the time KWL and I got going, our runmates were a quarter mile up the trail.

SIOR has been unable to run for a number of weeks because she has tendinitis and a slight tear in her meniscus. She became a vegan and everything is fine now. Actually, it's been a tough recovery for her but she's back running easy 8:30 miles. Or as I call them, going full bore during a 5K. KWL and I ate up the trail, moving along at my meager pace. The good news was that I could run and talk with no problems, something I have not been able to do for some time.

At the 1.5 mile mark we caught up with SIOR and TPP who had stopped because that was the turnaround point. Soon after, we were passed from the north by a couple of runners, one that SIOR knew. He was a run leader for Life Time Fitness, which SIOR does as well. We chatted with them for a few minutes covering important topics like dead mice on the bike trail and why I can't run in the Diva half marathon unless I pretend TPP or SIOR are my daughters.

The 1.5 miles back seemed to take no time at all. Soon enough, we were back again at Starbucks for post run refueling. I got a Grande coffee and an egg and cheese muffin because I don't eat sugar very much anymore. KWL got a much meatier version of that, because he's running 18 miles tomorrow and had ridden his bike 25 miles to meet us this morning. Oh, and he's running a half Ironman in Atlantic City in two weeks and then running the Berlin marathon a couple more weeks after that. SIOR had two bananas and TPP had pumpkin bread which I would have shared with her while she wasn't looking, but held back due to its sugar content.

We covered a lot of subjects, most having to do with nutrition, tech gear or politics. We are pretty much aligned politically which made that okay. The one area where we violently disagree is the consumption of crickets (and silkworms) as a protein source. Well I violently disagreed. KWL was fine with both, SIOR eats silkworms (sort of and also, gross). I don't think she was in the pro cricket camp, but I think it's because she's a vegan now. TPP was pro cricket, but I don't know her position on silkworms.

The great thing about the Runsketeers is that we can go seven months and start exactly where we left off the last time we got together. But it's better when we don't go seven months between our runs. We agreed that we'd do this all again next month after KWL gets through his international running tour. I really loved today's run with my buddies and was very happy with my workout. I could have easily gone six miles or more today. SIOR's knee held up great and it looks like she's back to normal. Well, at least her knee is.
 

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