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

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Runsketeer birthday surprise at Starbucks

Happy birthday to me!
Today's run (street): 3.3 miles
Yesterday's run (treadmill): 3.2 miles

Last weekend the ER family celebrated my birthday with a dinner, even though my actual birthday was this past Wednesday. Mrs. ER informed me that we were going to bookend things with a walk on the trail in Bethpage today. What she didn't tell me was that she and the Runsketeers had concocted a plan more devious than you could ever imagine. Actually, it wasn't devious at all. It was really very nice.

Knowing that we would be heading to Bethpage fairly early, I got out at 7:30 AM for a neighborhood run. Yesterday's rain kept me indoors on the treadmill. Despite this morning's threatening skies, I wanted to run outside. The weather was a mild 50°, with enough wind to cool things into the 40's. Humidity was high, but with the low clouds blocking the sun, it didn't feel uncomfortable. I added a little more distance to my standard 3.2 mile route and felt great throughout the entire run. Friday's treadmill session was similarly positive and I'm hoping this trend will continue.

Pre-surprise walk on the Bethpage trail
We made our way to the Bethpage trail and parked on Colonial Road, just north of Haypath. I knew that SIOR was leading a Life Time run on the bike path this morning and wasn't all that surprised to see her and TPP bounding down the path. They were in quite a hurry and TPP was uncharacteristically impatient to go. I wouldn't have noticed at all if SIOR was the impatient one. I learned later why, and that the ER family was in on what was to come.

We finished our walk and made our way to Starbucks. Mrs. ER told me that she and the kids wanted to us to visit Bethpage and Starbucks just as I often do with my  running buddies. I was happy to comply. When we approached the shopping center that houses Runsketeer Starbucks, Mrs. ER's phone beeped and my daughter grabbed it before I could see it. That turned out to be SIOR texting her to say that they had arrived. While the ER family made their way into Starbucks, TPP and SIOR were right nearby, sneaking behind pillars and garbage cans to hide their presence. There's even a video of that. I'm surprised it wasn't Livestreamed.

Starbucks was packed and there wasn't even room for the four of us to sit down. I popped into the men's room and when I came out I saw TPP and then SIOR who yelled "surprise!" It turned out that Mrs. ER had been planning with these two since February to arrange coffee with my Runska-friends. It took me a moment to figure out that this was not a coincidence. We arranged ourselves around a table that had opened up when its occupants saw that the Runsketeers needed it more. We have that kind of power.

I was really happy to see my friends. SIOR was wearing her 2017 Boston Marathon jacket that she earned on Monday, completing her second Boston effort and qualifying for yet another Boston race. Check out her entertaining race report to get the whole story. TPP has recently started a new job and I was very glad that she was able to join us. The D'Artagnan of our group, KWL, also ran Boston last week. He's in Hong Kong right now, but he was with us in spirit.

The official Runsketeer coffee mug
While Mrs. ER collected coffee and food orders, TPP and SIOR presented me with birthday cards and presents. I loved the cards and TPP gave me a potential fortune (lottery tickets) and SIOR gave me an awesome coffee mug with my favorite Runsketeer picture. Emblazoned on the other side was the motto, "All for one and Run for all!" It will be my post-run Starbucks cup going forward. I'd been too intimated to scratch off the lottery tickets because I hadn't held one since the 1980's and wasn't sure how they worked. I let my daughter do it. Despite some close calls, I will not be winning $1,000 a week for life.

Once coffee was served (along with that chocolate cake that I've been thinking about since SIOR and TPP ran on goat-less mountain a few weeks ago), the six of us spent a couple of hours talking and laughing non-stop. As much as I like the running part, it's the post run time that I value the most. We covered an awful lot of subjects and I took advantage of the fact that SIOR is a certified elite running coach and trainer. I interrogated her about the best approach to getting back into racing shape and will probably do a 5K with this crew in July.

I think we could have gone on for two more hours, but practicality prevailed and we needed to say our goodbyes. We did remember to get our selfie, using my daughter's new iPhone that takes much better pictures than my Android phone. I had a great birthday, thanks to Mrs. ER, and it was fun to be surprised twice by my Runsketeer buddies.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

A thousand runs within a mile

Didn't seem like the same old route when I ran it today
Today's run (street): 4.3 miles
Yesterday's run (street): 3.2 miles
Tuesday's run (street): 3.2 miles

Last weekend's run with goats was an unusual break from my quotidian weekend workouts. I always appreciate the runs I do that go beyond the constraints of my local roads, trails, parks or the track. More often than not, I find myself running on the same streets I've covered a thousand times before. So far this week I've managed to get in three runs, all within a mile of my house.

Sometimes I ask myself why I used to be so quick to jump in the car and head out to Stillwell Woods, Bethpage, Eisenhower or Belmont State Park every chance I had. I do that occasionally, but usually it's because I'm seeing my buddies. That trumps tops any laziness that keeps me neighborhood bound. This morning I ran through all the possible venues, but ended up taking the easiest route. That was the one that begins at the end of my driveway.

Besides expanding my running geography, I also need to work on increasing my distances and consistently getting my heart rate into and above the 80% max rage. I didn't make much progress on any of that today. I went out in 50° weather to run close to my home. My one concession to the mundane was to follow a new route. On the map, it may look like every other run I do. But today I ran it in a different direction. 

Tomorrow is supposed to be another nice weather day. It's Easter and I'm hoping that will mean quiet roads and empty trails. I may run outside my neighborhood this weekend after all. Meanwhile, Runsketeer buddies KWL and SIOR will be in my hometown to run the 121st staging of the Boston Marathon. I'm excited for them. They have both trained hard and I'm hoping that they have great experiences. If I were ever to run a marathon, it would be that one.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Not my finest run

A few tired miles around the 'hood
Today's run (street): 3.7 miles

Despite better weather, today's run didn't go all that well. I'm either run down or I pushed too hard on yesterday's run. I'm not a fan of running uphill and my legs reminded me of that today.  I was hoping that (sort of) keeping up with SIOR and TPP at the NJL park might have activated my fast twitch leg fibers. I actually think they were deactivated.

My goal every weekend is to do at least one run outside of my neighborhood. Since I did that yesterday, I figured a run around my local roads would be just fine. I started out well, although I did experience sinus pain when the wind hit me head on. Thankfully that went away once I'd warmed up. I began to feel lethargic the more I went on and I noticed that my heart rate was showing less than 75% max. Despite the fatigue, I picked up the pace until I was in the low 80% range. That was all I could manage today.

Yesterday's run was understandably challenging because I ran about 10% faster than I normal do. Plus there were some hills. Today's difficulties are a little harder to explain. I never struggled, but I did get tired. Perhaps it was getting up at 4:30 AM this morning that did me in. I'll get some rest tomorrow and try this again on Tuesday.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

The Runsketeers fail to see goats

ER, SIOR (with Easter Bunny), B, S, TPP
Today's run (Norman J. Levy Park): 3.2 miles
Yesterday's run (street): 3.2 miles

According to Google Maps, getting from my house to Norman J. Levy Park (NJL) in Merrick, NY is fairly straightforward. Three short highways and then a right off a local road. Just to be sure, I used Google Maps navigation to ensure that I'd get there without a problem. However, when I got close, the navigation started to panic: "turn right, make a U-turn, turn left, take the ramp to the Meadowbrook..." and I ended up missing the entrance. I made the further mistake of letting navigation take me through the back streets that led nowhere. I ended up arriving fifteen minutes late after SIOR talked me through the landfill.

That's right, NJL is on a landfill. More specifically, it's landfill adjacent. The park itself is a circle within a circle of paths with 360° views of NYC, eastern LI and the ocean. Reaching the best view takes a little work. I'll get to that in a moment.

Today's run was organized by SIOR who is a run leader for Life Time Fitness. Today we were joined by a very nice couple, S and B, who have recently returned to running. SIOR and Runsketeer buddy TPP had been to NJL before, but the other three of us had never been there. SIOR promised us that we'd see goats, but none were around today. I wonder if they are used to trim the grass at the park.

S and B took off before I arrived, and SIOR, TPP and I proceeded south where we caught views of the Stadium Park Canal in Freeport before rounding back north. I was doing well and mostly keeping up with my buddies (or at least keeping them in sight). At one point the path split with the right trail following a downward direction and the left trail going up. And up. And up. I wasn't really expecting that and TPP assured me that the incline would end soon. I have a different definition of soon. We did finally reach the top, shortly after meeting S and B on the trail.

Middle loop is the highest point
There is a spot at the park's highest point (115 feet) where you can see for miles in every direction. That was cool and I wish I took a picture when we got there, but I was too concerned that SIOR was going to find an even bigger hill. For some reason, both TPP's and my Garmins registered the peak elevation at only 23 feet.

Happily, the route back was mostly downhill, although it did rise up again near the end. We covered about three miles, not the four that I expected we'd do. All the same, it felt like a good workout. That was due (I think) to keeping a faster pace than I've been running these days. Depending on if you accept my Garmin's read or Gmaps, I ran slightly more or slightly less than 10 minutes a mile. Given my frustrating experience with GPS navigation this morning, I'm going to give it Gmaps.

We finally gathered at the starting point and decided to head to Starbucks on Merrick Road. I drove the mile it takes to get there, while SIOR tricked the others into running there by saying it was only a half mile run. She also lied about the goats. Just saying. I got to Starbucks first and the others soon followed. We grabbed coffee and pumpkin bread, which TPP supplemented with a piece of chocolate cake that tasted amazing. Next time I'm getting that.

The Bethpage/Massapequa Preserve trail
We had our usual wide ranging and often ridiculous conversations that included city running, Brooklyn hills, scary Jeep stories and the origin of the name "Dirty Sock" (don't ask). Before we left for Starbucks we talked about the length of the Bethpage and Massapequa Preserve trail. I said the distance top to bottom was about 14 miles and SIOR said it was 7. TPP suggested I map it and saw that it's about 10 miles. So I was right.

I played Uber driver after Starbucks and dropped everyone off back at the park. Next weekend is Boston and SIOR and KWL will be running it. I'm going to get out tomorrow in what should be very nice weather. I'm taking Tuesday and Wednesday off next week and hope to get in a couple of runs on those days. It will be nice to run again sometime at NJL park, especially now that I know which entrance to use.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Going with the flow isn't very exciting

Going with the flow
Today's run (street): 3.4 miles

For no good reason, I had a lot of trouble getting myself out the door for this morning's run. I knew I had to do it and that I would, but I spent a lot of time internally debating what my run would be. Normally on a relatively mild and sunny day, I'd consider my options and choose the most appealing option. Today nothing reached the level of appealing. I considered the treadmill because it's easier to throw on shorts and shoes and grind out a few miles than gear up for the outdoors, adding layers, a hat, gloves, SPIbelt, phone, Road ID and sunglasses.

The sun influenced me enough to go out, but not enough to get in my car and drive anywhere. That left me with routes that would start from the end of my driveway. I thought through all the places that I run: adjacent neighborhoods, the business park and even the northern end of the Bethpage bike trail. I took the easiest option and did yet another run in my own neighborhood.

I've been running in my ASICS Kayano 20s which are well cushioned and don't aggravate my plantar fasciitis. Just for a change (and because my PF has much improved) I went back to the NB Zante 2s today. I really like these shoes that are light as Kinvaras but have even more response. Today's run was easy and I remembered to look at my watch to make sure I was hitting my targeted heart rate. I didn't quite get there, but managed to stay around 81% of max.

Same old, same old
While I struggled to get my butt out the door to run three and a half miles today, my Buddies KWL and SIOR were running 13 to 20 miles respectively as they begin to wind up their Boston training. How do they get it done every day with all their other distractions of life? I know in the past I've followed a regimen that involved tempos, intervals and weekend runs as long as 12 miles. But marathon training takes a lot more dedication and motivation. My next frontier is to simply get back to 5-8 mile runs on weekends.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

April fooled by the weather

Wind chilly
Today's run (street): 3.1 miles
Yesterday's run (treadmill): 3.2 miles

It being April Fools day, my daughter offered me a bite of her vanilla ice cream with caramel sauce. That turned out to be mashed potatoes with turkey gravy. Instead of being repulsed, I was inspired to add the rest to my lunch. The real April Fools joke seems to be today's weather trying to make us think it's still winter.

Yesterday started out rainy and cold and I didn't hesitate a moment before getting on the treadmill. That run was fine and I worked my pace into the mid nines by the end. I appreciated having the indoor option, especially on days like that.

This morning I was ready to get back to the road. The local news station was showing 37° and the view outside looked mild. The roads were still wet from the recent rain but it looked pleasant. I had just read an article in Runners World about Iditarod runners who drag their gear behind them along the 1,000 mile route. One runner mentioned the value of keeping your neck warm as that's an area where heat can drain quickly. I took another look outside and saw the trees were swaying a little so I put on my bandito buff to keep that area covered.

It took over five minutes to acquire a GPS signal through the overcast sky but soon I was off and running. I'd worn light track pants and a long sleeve quarter zip. That was fine until I changed direction for the first time and encountered a 19 MPH wind. Those blasts instantly brought the temperature down ten degrees. The buff helped, but my face was freezing. It was so bad that when I finally reach a point where I turned from north to east my glasses immediately fogged up from the sudden warmth combined with 93% humidity.

I took a roundabout route circling the neighborhood and covered my distance at a moderate pace. I was surprised to see that my average heart rate was below 80% max. I really need to look at my Garmin during the run to see if I should be picking up the pace. Tomorrow is supposed to be a lot nicer and, since I have a limited window to get in a run, I'm going to try to do it a little faster.
 

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