Running quote of the week

“Running isn’t a chore to fit in, but a privilege … I’m not trying to figure out the least I can do to keep up with my goals, but the most I can get away with.” – Jonathan Beverly

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Am I still emerging?

Can I find self actualization on a magazine rack?
Today's run (track): 3.6 miles
Yesterday's run (street): 3.2 miles

I do spend a lot of time worrying about safety
When I started running regularly in 2008, I had hopes of becoming a dedicated and competitive runner. I got that half right. If nothing else, I've kept a running routine going for over 8 years. I chose the term "emerging" to describe this blog, with a nod to Maslow's hierarchy of needs. In my case, the bottom level was being able to sustain a run for more than 30 seconds. Self actualization was quite a bit higher on the pyramid.

I had a few years when I competed frequently and my performances benefited from six day a week training. If I was going to self actualize, it would have been then. My goals for running are far more modest these days. This afternoon I was in Barnes & Noble looking at their sparse collection of running magazines that were tucked within an alarming number of gun orientated publications. I thought it would be nice if there was a magazine that was geared more toward mediocre runners. I'd buy that.

I haven't given up on self actualization, but my expectations for what actualization means has changed. My running schedule is typically three days a week: Friday, Saturday and Sunday. If I have another day off (or I'm working from home) I'll add more runs. I still track my performance and care whether I'm running slower or faster than the day before. But I'm not spending a lot of time running hill intervals.

Yesterday morning I did my usual Friday loop before my workday started. I like that route because three miles is a nice distance and I can get through it fairly quickly. Conditions weren't great, with a 13 MPH wind that made the 41° temperature feel like 34°. Even with gloves and a warm hat, I felt uncomfortable when the wind hit me head on. That discomfort probably contributed to my slightly better than average pace.

I'm smiling cause I'm done
This morning I was pressed for time so I made a beeline to the local high school track. I like running on the track because it's flat and the surface is forgiving. Every lap around the track is a notch in the belt of progress and I don't have to worry about being run over. I decided I'd do 14 laps and they passed quickly. Like yesterday, there was a stiff wind (15 MPH) that froze my hands and face every time my direction switched from north to west. Real feel was 26°.

There's always something to see at the track and today was no exception. About halfway through my run, a young couple showed up and started running around the track tossing a football back and forth. They weren't wearing gloves and they dropped the ball more than they caught it, but they seemed to be having fun.

Tomorrow's weather will be more of the same and I'd consider a run at Stillwell but I'm admittedly concerned about taking another tumble on the trail. I was happy with how I ran today and yesterday. Both runs improved on last week's performance. I'm still mediocre but at least I'm still aiming for the highest point in the pyramid.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Dinner and a movie with the Runsketeers

Hey, that ain't Starbucks!
Photo courtesy of KWL
Today's run (street): 3.8 miles
Yesterday's run (street): 3.3 miles

The Runsketeers got together yesterday to see the new film, Patriot's Day. I was initially disappointed that the film wasn't about my birthday (April 19) but I soon forgot the injustice. I remember the Boston bombing very clearly, but I learned a lot of new stuff in this movie, including the fact that Marky Mark figured out almost everything about the perpetrators for the Boston and Watertown Police and the FBI special agent in charge, even though Markey was suspended or on probation for some unexplained reason.

I also learned that if I ever find myself in the middle of a street shootout between police and terrorists, I should take cover behind a Mercedes GLS and not a Ford Explorer. Besides these valuable insights, I thoroughly enjoyed the movie and encourage all runners and non-runners to see it. It wasn't really about the Boston Marathon itself, but for those of us who grew up watching it live each year (me) or actually qualified and ran it (SIOR), it was personal. TPP and KWL also gave it two thumbs up.

It was fun to see my Runsketeer buddies wearing something other than compression gear. We settled into the theater's la-z-boy seats to watch the movie trailers that were basically a bunch of flashy cuts with lots of explosions and aliens, and a soundtrack loud enough to feel. I suppose that was the Dolby sound system turned up to 11. I don't get out much but I guess this is the new normal. The last time I'd gone to the movies I had to sit in a seat without a built-in foot rest or a cup holder capable of securing a gallon of soda.

It was a good thing those cup holders were as big as they were, because SIOR purchased a drink so big that Michael Bloomberg would have arrested her on the spot for possessing it. She needed it to wash down her one-two combination of Milk Duds and popcorn. We planned to have dinner afterward but I figured that all that junk food would ruin an appetite. Nope.

We ended up going to a Sushi place in Garden City. I couldn't stay for dinner, but I did have a beer and got to hang out with my buddies until my mommy wife picked me up an hour or so later. Along with TPP, KWL and SIOR, we were joined by Mr. SIOR and their four mini-SIORs. They were adorable and very well behaved and it was good to seem them all again.

I did get a couple of runs in since Friday, both around my neighborhood. Yesterday's route was a series of loops that never took me more than half a mile away from my house. I didn't match Friday's pace but I got it done. This morning I wanted to get out before the weather started to turn. We're supposed to get over 2 inches of rain and see 50-60 MPH winds by tonight. The skies were clear of precipitation but the moderate coolness and 93% humidity created a lot of fog which was fun to run through.

I wore my highest visibility shirt and took a circuitous route around my neighborhood that got me to almost four miles. My performance was better than Saturday's but slightly slower than Friday's. I'll admit that I've fallen back into the 3-4 mile distance rut and that probably won't change until get back to the Bethpage trail. Maybe next weekend.  In the meantime, I'm happy that I've been able to resume my weekend running routine. And very glad I got to see the mighty Runsketeers two weekends in a row.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Inaugural day run faster than expected

Here we go again
Today's run (street): 3.1 miles

The last time I ran, Obama was still president. Of course that was at 8:00 AM this morning. We have a new president now and it will be interesting to see how the next four years will play out (if he even makes it four years). For now, I'll just worry about running.

I managed to get in four runs last weekend because I had Monday off for MLK day. I was feeling very tired last night and worried whether I'd be up to running this morning. The skies were clear and conditions were decent, so I allowed myself no excuses to get outside. The 39° weather felt much colder and I probably over-layered, but I was grateful for my warm hat and new gloves from SIOR throughout the entire run.

Today's workout was all about maintaining fitness. The joy of the run was missing and I spent my time anticipating when I would finish. I blamed it on my fatigue and expected the worst when I looked at my Garmin. It wasn't great, but it was best performance I've seen since mid December. I can't blame my difficulty on pushing too hard, since my heart rate stayed below 80% max most of the way.

We've been fortunate to have a relatively snow-free January and I've been able get out on the road a lot this month. I compare that to 2015 when I was stuck doing indoor workouts for much of January and February due to snowy road conditions. Tomorrow's weather should be fine, but Sunday is supposed to be stormy and rainy. I'm hoping that will happen later in the day so I can make this a treadmill free weekend.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Runsketeer run at the Massapequa Preserve

Me, SIOR, virtual KWL, JC & TPP
Today's run (Massapequa Preserve trail): 3.1

The Runsketeers got together today (at the Massapequa Preserve) for the first time since late November. We almost ended up at SUNY Old Westbury out of concern that yesterday's snow would make the trail unrunnable. SIOR, who is training for Boston in April, had a long run planned today and got to the Preserve early to gain miles before we arrived. She texted us that the trail was fine so we all met there at 9:00 AM.

We had a complete crew today that included me, SIOR, KWL, TPP and JC. We were glad to see each other but quickly hustled onto the trail. There was a guy standing with his barking dog that SIOR said had been in that spot all morning. Better a dog on a leash than some of the other weirdness that goes on at the Preserve these days. I took it slow for two reasons. One because it was slippery. Two, because I'm slow. TPP and JC took off ahead of us, KWL eventually caught up with them and SIOR and I carefully made our way through the snow and ice covered sections.

I'm still coming back from a couple of weeks where most of my aerobic activity consisted of coughing and not running. I'd run about 6.5 miles since Friday, but today's weather and trail conditions discouraged me from going more than 3.1 miles today. SIOR and I were able to chat easily through our out-and-back. We took refuge in her monster truck to stay warm until KWL joined us after completing 5+ miles. The three of us hung out until TPP and JC returned from their 7 mile journey.

Unfortunately KWL needed to leave earlier than planned and couldn't join us for apr├ęs run coffee. The four of us made our way to Starbucks and commandeered a long table where we exchanged holiday gifts. I think this counts as the Runsketeer holiday party. SIOR gave me two ways to keep my hands warm - an awesome pair of UA running gloves and two packet hand warmers. Both will be well used. TPP gave me a couple of Daily Burn CDs which will finally force me to pay attention to my upper body.

The four of us talked a lot about running and TPP and I compared our PBs for 5K, 4 miles, 10K, and half marathons. She beat me by either a little (3 seconds on the 5K) or a lot (3+ minutes on the 10K). I wished I'd mentioned 8K, because I may have won that one since she probably hasn't raced that distance.

We talked about endurance events and I asked JC what part of a triathlon is the hardest. He said none of it is hard. In fact he said an Iron Man is a piece of cake because you have 17 hours to finish. Actually he said SIOR could do it in less than a day and I could do it in a week. I wonder if I should be insulted by that. I always thought a week was more than 17 hours. Maybe triathlon math is different than regular math.

We missed KWL, but I put him in the picture above. That was his picture from the last time the Runsketeers got together. This picture was the best of about five that I took today. SIOR was making faces in one (big surprise) and my phone distorted at the edges and made TPP (who is extremely fit) look like a candidate for the Biggest Loser.

It was great getting to be with my buddies all morning. I'm excited that I'll get to see them again soon when we all go to see the movie Patriot's Day. Due to the icy roads, I'm probably going to stay inside and do my fourth weekend run on the treadmill tomorrow. If I'm feeling ambitious I will take a crack at the Daily Burn vids. I really hope we have a thaw this week so I can run outside and use my cool new running gloves on Friday.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Back on the road in 2017

Fashion forward and functional!
Today's run (street): 3.4 miles
Yesterday's run (street): 3.1 miles

It was rough getting through my first full work week since mid December. I was happy when Friday finally came. The head and chest cold that kept me out of the office for a few days last week has pretty much gone except for an occasional cough. Runs in the cold on Friday and today did trigger a lot of coughing, but only after I'd finished.

Friday morning's weather was misleading in terms of the temperature. The local news was showing 50° and I dressed accordingly. When I stepped outside, I felt the 13 MPH wind and ran upstairs to put on a warm hat. Even with the wind chill, the "feels-like" temperature stayed in the 40's but it felt raw in my throat. It's been a tough start to the new year so I was glad to complete my first 3+ mile outdoor run in 2017.

Today's route
Today was much colder. The real-feel temp was 23° and the humidity was 12% lower than yesterday. I dressed almost the same as Friday except for wearing a heavier 1/4 zip instead of just a long sleeve running shirt. It was cold but manageable, although my face (especially my nose) was very uncomfortable. I've never really had an issue running in 20° weather, but this season my face has been extra sensitive to the cold. I wished I'd worn my bandito mask or bought this attractive product (see above).

Today's run was longer and slower than yesterday's, but I was fine with that. I know my sporadic running since 12/26 has affected my conditioning and the only way to build it back is to run longer and more frequently. With the long weekend I will get an opportunity for an extra run. Tomorrow I'll take part in a Life Time Fitness group run led by SIOR. If you want to channel your inner Runsketeer, meet us in the east side of the Massapequa train station lot tomorrow at 9:00 AM

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Running and coughing and slipping and freezing

Oh yes, it's January again
Today's run (street & treadmill): 3 miles total

Whatever cold or virus that hit me on December 29 is still with me. The only remaining symptom is a dry cough that just won't abate. I took a rare sick day on Tuesday, worked from home on Wednesday and returned to the office on Thursday. My coughing was so relentless that my boss, whose office is adjacent to mine, told me to work from home on Friday. She couldn't stand the thought of another day listening to my hacking.

The good news is that I feel almost back to full strength. I considered going for a run on Friday morning, but ended up doing a brisk (4 MPH) treadmill walk instead. This morning's weather was a lot colder, but I was determined to get out and run. 23° with winds dropping the real feel temperature into the teens meant a lot of layers head to foot. I did my best to prepare, but I ultimately found conditions too harsh.

I was fairly comfortable while I waited for the Garmin to acquire its signal. I started off optimistically, planning to only run fast enough to stay warm. When I took my first left off my street, I felt the wind on my face and it hurt. I decided to give it a few minutes, hoping that warming up would help minimize my discomfort. I thought I could tough it out for three miles and probably could have managed that. After completing a loop through the middle school, I saw that the lightly falling snow was becoming heavier and the ground was getting slippery.

That was enough for me. I made tracks (literally) back to my house and headed upstairs where my wife was just finishing up her treadmill workout. I quickly shed my heavy layers and hopped on the treadmill. I completed the balance of my run indoors and ended up getting in trouble for tracking dirt in the house because I'd forgotten to take off my running shoes.

I usually try to cover closer to five miles on weekend days, but the combination of not running for two weeks and feeling less than 100% made three miles seem like a good distance. Besides that, we're in the middle of our first snowstorm of the season. I knew I'd be going out at least four times to shovel as we're looking at 9"- 12" at this point. Between the running and shoveling, I've already covered more than 10K steps today. That number will go up further when we go back out again at 7:00.

I was glad to get back on the road this morning for the first time since Boxing Day. Unfortunately , it was for barely more than half a mile. Looks like another fun session on the treadmill tomorrow.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Caping but not running

Home away from home
I rarely get sick. As a matter of fact, I cannot remember the last time I had so much as a cold. When I do get sick, it's usually during the last week of the year. I always take the time between Christmas and New Year's day as vacation time. It may be due to transitioning from weeks of intense business to being free of work, but I've suffered my worst colds, flu and even a bout with pneumonia during that time.

My favorite view
My vacation had been going along nicely. I was running every day and looking forward to spending a few days on Cape Cod. My last run before our trip was at the local high school track and I ran well. That usually happens when I run more frequently, in this case five times in a row. We'd rented a house in Barnstable, MA, and my running plans included a visit to the Shining Sea trail in Falmouth. I was also hoping to run on the local roads near our rental house.

Wild turkeys in Falmouth
Our house was located on the north edge of town and overlooked the water. Growing up, I spent almost every summer at the Cape and was excited to duplicate the experience with my family. I naively assumed that driving from Barnstable to Falmouth would take 15 or 20 minutes, but when we headed over there, I realized it closer to an hour's drive. We had a great time in Falmouth, but I conceded to not running the rail to trail path the next day.

Nobska lighthouse, Falmouth
We covered the Cape out to Chatham and enjoyed the clear off season roads. The wind and cold on Wednesday pushed us to the edge of our comfort zone but we spent a lot of time outside. My son started feeling rundown by midday, but he was a trooper and stayed with us into the evening. By Thursday morning, my daughter and I started experiencing the same symptoms. I'd hoped to do an early morning run by our house before we hit the road, but I was in no shape to do that when I woke up.
Barnstable at dawn

Jiffy Pop. Too bad I burned it.
Chilly air and hot coffee
We left for home before 7:00 AM on Thursday. Fortunately, my wife has an amazing immune system and was able to pilot us back to LI without a problem. I spent the next couple of days feeling increasingly worse. My son started recovering by Saturday and that alleviated some of my concern that I was dealing with the flu or pneumonia. My daughter and I have been recovering on parallel tracks but progress has been slow. By Saturday morning, it was clear that I would not be in shape to do the January 1st Hangover Run with my Runsketeer buddies.

That was a good call because on top of my coughing and congestion, I was also experiencing significant lower back pain. I avoided taking any OTC remedies and rested as much as I could. This morning was a different story. My coughing has lessened and my strength has improved, but not enough to run. My daughter's progress has mirrored mine and hopefully we'll both be feeling much better tomorrow. I probably won't get out for a run again until next Friday, but if that's what it takes to beat this thing, I'm okay with that.
 

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