Tuesday, June 30, 2009

All exercise but running is boring

A big reason I like to run is the feeling of travel and progress. You start here, go there and if you're fortunate you'll see interesting things along the way. Eventually you'll come back feeling like something good has just happened. This travel and visual stimulation are lacking on the treadmill although some may argue that an HDTV can be a good substitute for the great outdoors. To me it's still work and I always have this nagging sense that I'm cheating with the treadmill because the tread helps move you along in a way that roads or trails do not.

The elliptical is a nice alternative and I am a fan but I also view it as a form of work. While the idea of it is great, it's just a machine built for repetition. Nothing stimulating about that. The end justifies the means but the means are a bit boring, HDTV or not. Some of my running friends are taking to their bikes for the summer and I'm starting to think about doing that as well but my bike needs a serious tune up or replacement. In the meantime my non-running choices are limited.

This morning I decided to give my legs a rest and instead did some work on my much neglected upper body. This, like the treadmill and the elliptical, is a tedious process. I worked with two 10 lb. free weights and did lots of repetitions, isolating different muscles each time. I spent about 25 minutes on this activity and built a good sweat (though nothing like what a get from a run). I have no idea if it did any good but I was happy that I gave my legs a break and still did a workout. All the same I'd rather be running.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Trail running as painkiller

As I prepared for this morning's elliptical workout I thought about all the mileage I'd put in over my vacation. I also thought about how it may have contributed to my nagging leg pain that started earlier this year. I'm still unsure of the cause of this pain, it may be a hamstring pull or something else entirely. I've thought numerous times about making an appointment with an orthopedist to figure it out. In the mean time it's probably a good idea to do more cross training to rest whatever gets aggravated when I run.

I checked my workout list before I stepped up on the elliptical machine and saw that I hadn't logged a session on it since June 11. I've taken every opportunity to run outdoors over the last few weeks and my early morning headlamp runs have contributed to that. I thought that an elliptical session this morning would be a nice way to use different muscles that could help strengthen my leg and lessen the pain. I then realized, for the first time in memory, that I had no pain. I was understandably happy but that made no sense to me. I ran a tough 4+ miles yesterday on the trails to top off a record mileage week. I should be hurting more, not less.

Perhaps it was the trails that made a difference. The softer surface absorbs the impact differently than running on pavement. If that's the case I wonder if I should be considering an even more cushioned shoe than the Brooks. The Asics are comfortable and it's my understanding that they represent the high end of the cushioning scale. Hard to know if it's a coincidence but I will plan more weekend runs at Bethpage and Stillwell if that's the case. Reminder to self: buy a compass.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

A trail adventure with AG

My excellent vacation was topped off today with a Bethpage trail run with Adventure Girl. We decided to run the trails instead of the bike path and set off without a map relying solely on our sense of direction. We started the run by discussing the Garmin 50 and the QStarz Sports Recorder and how annoying it is when you do a run and forget to turn the thing on or off. After we ran a little more than half a mile (at one point through a barely-there trail with snakes!) we saw that our trail ended at the edge of the woods. I looked at the Garmin to see how long we had run only to discover that I failed to turn it on. That was indeed annoying but we turned back in the direction we'd come, a little more knowledgeable about the layout of the terrain.

We ran a number of trails, staying primarily with the wider cinder covered paths, until we reached a clearing and took what I believed to be a northern route. That trail eventually ended along a road and we soon figured out that we'd been traveling west. Instead of heading back on the same trail we hit the road (actually the sidewalk) and ran north to where we could get back onto the trails from a neighborhood entry point. We followed that trail and switched over to others that looked interesting as we went. It was a great experience, our pace was moderate and the tree cover was good. The path began to get sandy which was tough for running (for me, AG never ever complains) and we reached a point where we weren't sure where to go. The goal was to head south but AG thought it was one way and I thought the other. The sun was directly overhead so that gave us no help. I decided to go AG's way because she's more experienced and, well, she ended up being right.

We followed the trail south until it intersected with the bike trail allowing AG to experience my hated run-ending hill with me. We flew down the final hill and headed to my car for water and then to the shaded benches for shelter from the sun. We were very hot and sweat-soaked and splattered a little with mud but we agreed it was an excellent run. We headed back to my house and AG enjoyed some swimming races with my son in the pool before we shared a high carb lunch with my wife and kids.

We downloaded the QStarz GPS data, which was wacky because it not only recorded our run but everything afterward including the drive home. That certainly helped our overall pace! The QStarz again failed to export the real time recorded data and even after a reset and re-test it still fell short. Too bad - so much potential but so many problems.

It's been a great vacation and today's 4.x mile run puts me very close to 30 miles since I've been off. Tomorrow and next week I go back to the normal routine but I look forward to my early morning runs in the dark. Today was a blast and I couldn't imagine it any better.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

3.5 under 9:00 = :)

After yesterday's long but unsatisfying run I decided to cut the distance and go for some speed. A person commented on emergingrunner.com that I should be doing tempos and intervals to get my speed up. I agreed with that and made it a point to actively think about my pace as I ran this morning. I went out around 7:00 AM before the sun got too hot and I tried to head off the initial leg pain with some dynamic stretching. I hit the road and felt a little better than I did on Friday but I also felt like I was expending a lot of effort and needed to throttle my speed if I was to complete even a short distance run.

My goal was to run about 30 minutes at a pace similar to my 5K run in May. I didn't feel the fluidity that I get at times but it was okay and I really liked the feel of the Asics 1130's I picked for today's run. I ran in the Brooks yesterday and while I have no complaints about them I think I like the feel of the Asics a little more. Hard to say, both are good. I took some less traveled streets, making up my route as I went along while staying conscious of my 30 minute timing. I wanted today's run to be low impact so I'd have something left for tomorrow.

As I hit the 26 minute mark I turned east to begin making my way home and stepped up the pace a little. It was beginning to get hot and I picked roads that had a lot of tree cover which really helped the way I felt. I was about a half a mile from home when I noticed an SUV pulling up along side me and saw a woman who had her window down to ask me the location of a street. I actually asked her to speed up because she was throwing off my pace and I carefully recited the series of lefts and rights she would need to follow to get where she wanted to go. It wasn't until afterward that I realized I was talking fairly well while pushing my speed.

In the end I ran 3.51 miles in 31 minutes for an 8:50 overall pace. I was happy to have broken 9:00 and I was very satisfied with my run. It's the weekend and back to work on Monday. I've put in a lot of miles this vacation week and I'm thinking that it's time to return my focus on speed.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Running faster than the rain

After Wednesday's ordeal I took a rest day with a plan to do another long run this morning. I decided not to go for a personal distance record because the weather wasn't ideal and I didn't want to be disappointed twice in one week. The skies were darkening and the humidity was 96% so I decided to run for about 45 minutes or until the torrential rains started, whichever came first. After a brief warm-up I set off along the service road heading north so I could follow the turnpike road that borders the neighborhood. My leg was quite stiff and sore, as usual, but I knew that the pain would lessen after a few minutes. I still don't know why that condition persists or why it goes away after warming up. The pain doesn't come back after running, at least not until much later.

One reason I chose the beginning part of the route was to use the mostly flat, downhill first mile to loosen up without sacrificing too much time in terms of overall pace. I maintained that route and made my way south entering a part of the neighborhood with multiple, parallel connected roads. I had planned to come in at the point to allow me to build mileage without duplicating my route. The whole time I ran I felt stuck in gear, maybe not second, but closer to third. It was good that I hadn't planned to run seven miles because I doubt I could have done it at a pace that I would call acceptable. If I'm going for a distance PR I want to be proud of both time and distance. The rain held off for the most part although it did start to sprinkle when I was fairly far away from my house. Rather than flashing back to Wednesday's difficult experience I almost welcomed a downpour that would cut the humidity. Besides, in my own neighborhood I could find my way home without glasses.

I ended up covering 5 miles exactly in 47:30. It annoys me that I'm consistently running paces in the 9:10 to 9:40 range after having a couple of months earlier in the year when I was coming in consistently under 9:00 for my distance runs. One thing that's different is that both my distances and frequency of longer runs have increased. After all, there is a difference between most people's 5K and 10K paces. I'm planning to do a shorter (and hopefully faster) run tomorrow and Sunday AG is coming out to run the trails with me.

We've been field testing lots of technologies and gear. Look for some reviews soon on Runner's Tech Review for the QStarz GPS Sports Recorder, Moji-To-Go portable icing unit, Helly Hansen Trail Lizard running shoes and more!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

The industrial park odyssey

Everything is gray and wet and it all looks the same to me. The buildings and the roads through the industrial park wind around in a pattern that probably makes sense when viewed from above but on the street it's hard to determine which way leads north or south. The rain, which began as a welcome sprinkle through the late afternoon haze has increased in force and the sun is gone. I pick a direction that I think will lead me out and back to my neighborhood only to discover that I'm 180 degrees off and dead ending at a point where cars are whizzing off the expressway onto a busy four lane road. As the skies open up and the rain gets harder I turn and run toward an office building to take cover under the overhang from a bank. Two bank employees step outside, look at me and giggle for good reason. In my bright yellow jersey, running shorts and lime green accented running shoes I'm the last thing they expected to see on this dark rainy day.

I see that the rain has slowed down and I head off in the other direction, the parking lot has filled with puddles and I step in one so my running shoes and socks are soaked to match the rest of me. I reach a crossroads and realize that choosing the wrong direction will put me even farther away from where I need to go. It's cold and getting darker and the rain starts again, harder. I decide to go right and quickly encounter dozens of cars rushing to get out of the park, leaving me little room to run, save the slick, downward sloping, landscaped grass that runs beside the road. I ask a young woman leaving work if she knows how to get to the service road. She points me in the direction I just left so I ignore her and soldier on hoping to recognize something familiar from the path I took to get where I ended up.

It's getting late and I'm expected home but I have no phone and no money for a payphone (if they still existed) to call and say that I'm stranded. My glasses are foggy and my vision is distorted by the rain. I'm amazed to have found myself in this situation. I feel like I'm headed in the wrong direction until I see two people at a bus stop and I ask them if they know how to get to the service road. They do! They turn me around and point out a road that bears right in the distance and they tell me to follow that. I take off at what I'll guess was an 8:00 pace and as I round the corner I see the familiar entrance to the service road that will lead me to the Middle School and then home.

I run with everything I have and make my way home in less than ten minutes. My wife opens the door and as I brace for the "Where have you been!? We've been so worried about you!!" all she says is "Hi! How was your run? Your shoes are all muddy!" It was a disorienting experience and a frustrating one too. I knew the whole time that I was half a mile from my front door yet I couldn't figure out a way to get there safely. I think I should start running with a compass.

So much for my attempt to break my distance record. I started well by picking up some miles in a previously unexplored neighborhood but the industrial park and the rain did me in. I'm taking today as a rest day and I'll go out again tomorrow morning. I never thought being 1,500 yards away could feel so far from home.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

For the record

I'm thinking of challenging my distance record today, going for 7 miles which would be .37 miles longer than I've ever run at one time. In order to do this within my neighborhood I'll either need to spread over to neighborhood #3 or figure out a way of covering that distance within the more contiguous areas of my neighborhood or the adjacent neighborhood #2. It's interesting to note that since I've been running distances in the five and six mile range I've had trouble finding routes that don't repeat. Crossing into the 3rd neighborhood would make that a no brainer because, in terms of area, the neighborhood is as large as mine. The gating factor is getting to neighborhood #3 would involve a road that has fast moving traffic. There is a traffic light but still it worries me that drivers are paying enough attention in an area where they don't expect foot traffic. There are a number of other close but unexplored areas where I could run but they are separated by roads that also have no provision for foot traffic. I do have the option of running the bike trail at Bethpage State Park where I can run over a dozen miles out and then back.

I decided this morning to forgo an early day's run in order to give my legs a little recovery time. Since Friday afternoon I've run over 22 miles and although I feel great, that's almost 40% more daily distance than I usually run. Another LI runner who I interact with often on the Runners World Loop noted that yesterday's pre-run icing was inadvisable because that works against flexibility and can hurt my performance. I still have a lot to learn. I've just done some light stretching today and I'll likely go out before dinner to challenge my record.

Adventure Girl is running the 15 mile Shawangunk Solstice run tonight at 6:30 in New Paltz. I've seen pictures (see above) and it looks beautiful. I hope she has good weather, as do I, for my planned late afternoon run. It's been cloudy and rainy on and off today. Come to think of it that's pretty much perfect running weather.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Me and my running shoes

To many, gear is gear. A pair of running shoes is merely a tool to faciliate the run. In some cases running shoes are a necessary evil, especially for those who would prefer to run barefoot but don't do that for practical reasons. I love running, that's pretty obvious to anyone who reads this blog. But it's not just running that I love, it's all the cool things that come with that: new technologies to enhance the experience and the other gear that you need to maximize performance and comfort.

When I first started running I was relatively indifferent to shoes. I had no idea what was important when I went to Foot Locker for my first pair of running shoes. These would actually be my second pair, having bought some in the early 90's during my earlier running days. I put myself into the hands of the saleswoman who admitted that she didn't run but said that she fits runners all the time and knows what works for most. I don't recall every shoe I tried on that day but the Nike Turbulence 13's that she recommended fitted me the best. I had a great 500+ miles on those shoes but in the end. after inspection, I'd wondered whether their neutral nature played into the upper leg pain I had experienced near the end.

Including those Nikes, I've bought a total of four pairs of shoes since my return to running last summer. I bought a pair of Nike Kutu trail shoes that were inexpensive but never felt right. My last run in them was so negative that I immediately put them away for donation. I replaced those with a pair of New Balance 460 trail shoes. I haven't liked the high-end NB shoes I've tried in stores but these 460's are great. They were inexpensive but they're solid performers with a good feel and nice response on both street and trail. No Gor-Tex or fancy features but they do the job well. I bought my Brooks Adrenalin GTS-9's the day after my 5K in May. These are good shoes, not as responsive as the Nike 13's they replaced but their stability properties have helped my upper leg problems. I'm not sure I'll get the same shoes next time but I'm pleased so far.

The last pair I bought were Asic Gel-1130's that I tried for the first time this morning. These are a few rungs down from Asic's top line but they are far from low end. The fit is nice - more comfort than the Brooks but only by a little. I set out to do a mid length run this morning after icing both quadriceps and I ended up covering 5.13 miles at a 9:19 pace. I thought I might have run a little faster than that but the Garmin doesn't lie (when calibrated correctly). The Asics felt really good and responsive and compared well against the Brooks. I's say the Brooks are probably better overall in terms of feel but not by that much. I will enjoy having the 1130's in the office, ready to take on whatever the streets of New York City can offer.

Monday, June 22, 2009

A new definition of work shoes

I took advantage of being on vacation and set out for my daily run a little after 9:00 AM this morning. I'd considered taking a rest day or using the elliptical as I usually do on Mondays but I couldn't pass up an opportunity to run outdoors. Since Friday's 6 mile run I'd run 3.1 miles on Saturday and another 3.7 on Sunday. I set out without any planned course or distance and settled into a comfortable pace for the first half mile thinking I'd speed up once I warmed up a bit. I reached the point where I usually turn left into the core neighborhood but I decided today to turn right over to Jericho Turnpike and ran west along the wide sidewalk. I've done this route a couple of times but from the opposite direction (uphill) so traveling this way was a lot easier. I actually felt so guilty for following such an easy path that I cut back into the neighborhood a third of the way in to find some more challenging terrain.

There were many people outside, mostly walkers, and I saw a couple of moms strolling with their middle school age daughters who would be graduating this afternoon. I purposely avoided the distance and pace readouts on my Garmin because I'd decided to run based only upon time. In all I covered 4.13 miles in about 38 minutes for a grand total of 17 miles over the last four days.

Later in the day my wife and I went out to do a few errands and we stopped into Marshalls along the way. Just for fun I looked at athletic shoes and didn't expect to see much but I tried on a pair of Salomon Tech Amphibian water shoes that looked interesting. The price was right but they didn't feel that good so I took a pass. The rest of the shoes were basically the same models you'll typically see at department stores - low end models of good brands. I was about to give up until I saw a pair of Asic Gel-1130's for under $40. I tried them on and liked the fit so I decided to buy them to keep in my office for both planned and spontaneous runs in the city. I may not have chosen the bright green trim if I had another choice but my daughter pronounced it a cool looking shoe.

I'm going to try the 1130's tomorrow. I'm curious to see how they stack up against the Brooks GTS 9's at almost three times the price. New running shoes, what could be better than that?

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Father's Day recovery run

This weekend has been busy between my daughter's birthday celebrations and Father's Day activities. I'm very happy to have found enough time to run on both days. Yesterday morning I got out a little later than normal and I paid for it with the hot sun and the humidity. The 6 mile run on Friday definitely fatigued me and I slogged my way through a 5K distance at a moderate pace and I wondered at the end whether I should have taken a rest day instead. I guess it makes sense that it would be tough going because I was covering 9 miles in a 16 hour span between Friday and Saturday.

There isn't much to say about that run except to say that I never really felt in synch with my form and pace and I was frustrated that three miles on a mostly flat course seemed harder than 6 the hard way. This morning was a much better experience although at the starting point I had some soreness in my right quadricep and groin area. I did some warm-ups (see the latest Running Gone Wild post for some examples) and that got me on my way. I started slowly to minimize any damage from the injury and hoped that the pain would dissipate with running. I cut over to neighborhood #2 and did a couple of miles crisscrossing those roads. I encountered another runner twice during that time and we remarked as we passed how nice the weather was for running. It truly was, cool and cloudy, just the way I like it.

I ended up covering 3.7 miles at around 9:10 which was fine considering my slow start. I would have run longer but I had an 11 year old at home waiting to celebrate her birthday and some things come first. Took the QStarz Sports Recorder with me and it dutifully recorded my run. One negative was that when I downloaded the data it showed a large margin of error in terms of route run versus route recorded. The QStarz seemed to cut corners, showing sharp vectors around corners rather than the actual rounding that I'd done. That probably accounts for the fact that QStarz recorded 3.3 miles when the run was actually 3.7. Too bad because the unit has a lot of capabilities but its limitations are problematic.

I'm happy to have covered over 12 miles between Friday afternoon and Sunday morning and that my first and last runs were very enjoyable. I'm hoping to do some long runs this coming week. Can't wait.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

6 mile loop has its ups and downs

This was a very long week and Friday was a busy day. I didn't mind the back to back meetings because I knew in the end it would be time for my work-week-ending NYC distance run. I've been working on distance so AG and I decided to run a 6 mile loop in Washington Heights that winds through Ft. Tryon Park, past the Cloisters, along the Hudson and over the GW Bridge and back. The weather was partly sunny and the humidity was high so I knew it would get hot in a hurry. The park was very pretty and the path included lots of switchback paths, some of which passed rock walls that people can climb. The air was damp but without direct sun it was bearable. At one point we were headed in the direction of the GWB that was off in the distance, then the path switched in the opposite direction and I realized how far we would have to run to complete this course.

Once we were headed directly toward the GWB we passed a number of interesting places. AG pointed out where George Washington and his troops crossed the Hudson after trekking all the way from Brooklyn. She also pointed out some architectural elements like stone arches and an old carriage road. We passed a structure that faced our path and the Hudson on the other side. It consisted of columns and a roof that was in tough shape but could be beautiful with some restoration. I joked that it looked like the Parthenon. At one point we passed a spot where we could see the outer wall of a high overhead pass and AG told me that the yoga photos from her Running Gone Wild page were taken there. I couldn't believe that because the the narrow wall looks down to a substantial drop to the West Side highway. I again understood why we nicknamed her Adventure Girl.

We continued along until we reached the bridge but the way it's set up we needed to run up a very steep hill for a few blocks before cutting over to the pedestrian entrance to the bridge. Once on the bridge we went up and down a couple stairwells before we zipped along the length of the GWB and back. The breezes helped combat the heat and the run across to NJ and back seemed to go by quickly. The view off the bridge was much clearer than the previous time we'd run there and I appreciated the perspective. In all we covered 6 miles, much of it including hills more challenging than those on my usual Long Island routes. It felt great, even with the humidity, and I'm happy to know that I can cover 6 miles under those conditions without significant problems or suffering. I'll be on vacation this coming week and I hope to do a few long distance runs, possibly even breaking my current distance record of 6.63 miles. My window for running this morning is closing as the bad weather moves in so I'll go out pretty soon.

Although the past week had lots of stress points I'm pleased that the run took the edge off things so well. Maybe there's something to this running thing after all...

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Silence is golden

During my last race I noticed a number of runners were running with music players strapped to their arm or hung around their neck. I know that many people listen to music while they run and if it works for them, great. It's a personal decision and I'm sure it can be inspiring to attack an imposing hill or forcing yourself to do that extra mile accompanied by an energetic soundtrack.

I choose not to run with music for a few reasons. First, I find it distracting. For me the best thing about running is that it transports me to a quiet place where I can think - or not - as I move along. I've written about running at 4:00 AM and how much I enjoy the silence of that experience. Second, the need to wear ear buds as I run is a big annoyance. The one time that I tried it the tugging from the ear buds bothered me so much that I pulled them off and tossed them away. Fortunately I was on a treadmill so I could do that. When I saw those other runners listening to music while competing it made me think they were less serious about their commitment to the run. This is a race people!

Lest you think I'm some kind of hyper judgmental person I'll concede that music can be a great companion for some. Perhaps those in the race were using the music to help them focus. I know there is a Nike+ iPod app that coaches you as you run. Maybe these iPod wearers were actually doing it for competitive advantage. I will be getting an iPhone soon, primarily for business related research. I am thinking about whether I would try the MapMyRun or other location aware applications that use the GPS signal to communicate speed, distance and other metrics in real time. If I did that would I also consider listening to some music since I'm lugging the thing around anyway? I'm thinking I wouldn't but you never know.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

The running clothes make the man

There's something very motivating to me about running gear. Walking through the running sections at City Sports, Paragon and even Target sparks a desire to buy something and then immediately go running. Those who know me understand how much I usually dislike clothes shopping. Every weekend my wife suggests that I go get some "clothes that fit me." I almost never do because I find it tedious. But if she suggested that I go spend the day looking for running gear I'd be out the door in an instant.

Last night I placed my morning running gear on the bed in the guestroom. Just seeing it this morning generated excitement and anticipation of a run. There's something about putting it all together: the running shorts, HRM, Garmin watch, jersey, socks, shoes, vest, hat, headlamp and tail light makes it seem purposeful. I recall having the same feeling getting ready before a hockey game or karate class.

The whole process of preparing for my 4:00 AM run is becoming more efficient. I still get a thrill watching my garage door rise up slowly to show the early morning scene of mist highlighted by house lights, everything quiet save for the sound of a few sprinkler systems and an occasional bird chirping. I usually do some quick warm-up exercises to minimize the initial pain and stiffness I'm still feeling from my right leg. Then, with a push of a button on the Garmin, I get a jolt of excitement and start to run.

I'll admit that these early morning runs feel easier that those I do later in the day. It may be the cool air or the fact that I'm not fully awake but it feels almost like I'm riding rather than running. That may be a reason why my pace times have been a bit slow since I started this routine. Today I tried to keep my pace brisk and I felt as though I was moving fast through the run and especially near the end when I poured it on. I was surprised to see the Garmin report that I'd run 9:12 for 2.4 miles. I was convinced that I was running at least 8:50 and even faster on the last half mile. Well 9:12 is certainly better than yesterday's 9:40 pace so I'm heading in the right direction. The only thing better than putting on the gear is taking it off after a good run and celebrating with a cup of coffee while the world is still asleep.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

SSD: Short slow distance

So much of running involves training: intervals, tempo runs, hill work and other exercises that can make you a better runner. Doing these things will help make you run faster and be more competitive and the harder you work (within reason) the better level of fitness you will attain.

I appreciate all that and while my dedication to hard workouts falls short of many I will step it up for a race. In the meantime I'm discovering that recreational running is equally important in terms of self motivation. What's the difference between recreational running and training? For one thing, when running for fun the only reason I check my Garmin is to monitor the time I've been out on the road. I purposely avoid toggling the controls to look at pace, distance or heart rate. In these cases it's often a surprise at the end to see how far and how fast I ran. Most of the time I'll see that I'd run slower than I thought. Still, it's okay because I enjoyed the experience.

After about 10 months of dedicated running I am now able to run for fun. My starting struggles from months past have largely disappeared and I have enough stamina to go some miles before the suffering starts. This morning I awoke with a lot on my mind. I have some stress weighing on me right now. I have tremendous support from my family and that helps a lot. As I prepared to go outside for a run I thought about what I wanted to do in terms of distance and speed. I thought that by running hard I might clear my head of some stress. When I got outside and started to run I noted that my right leg was still hurting and I moderated my pace to minimize strain. I took it easy hoping that once I'd warmed up the pain would go away. The conditions outside were perfect, both cool and dry. My energy level was high and the neighborhood was quiet and peaceful. Although my leg felt better a few minutes into the run I decided to maintain a comfortable pace and just enjoy the ride.

When I got home I saw that I'd covered 2.1 miles at about a 9:40 pace. I'm sure my slow start contributed to that. But it didn't matter at all. I felt great and was ready to face a tough day. Running short slow distance served me well today.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Going for distance

After covering almost 15 miles since Friday afternoon I decided to skip my usual Monday elliptical workout and give myself a rest this morning. Between Friday and this Sunday I ran a total of 15 miles, the longest distance I've run within that time period. I've definitely increased my weekly mileage in the last couple of months but I'm still averaging about 2.75 miles per day. I try to do a couple of longer runs (right now defined as 3 miles or more) on the weekends and my weekday schedule limits my morning workouts to less than 25 minutes. I typically average around 2 miles for those runs.

I'm getting better at running longer distances but the work week doesn't provide too much opportunity for that. Through city running I've been able to incorporate a longer weekday run into my schedule so between that, a rest day and my elliptical workouts I only have two "short run" days. I would be interested in expanding those two milers into three milers but I refuse to get up any earlier than 4:00 AM to do that. The only other way to do it is to run a lot faster!

In terms of distance I'm looking ahead to October when I hope to compete in the Cape Cod Marathon in Falmouth , MA. I'm in no way capable of running a marathon or even a half but they offer a five segment relay and I can probably handle 11 miles when it's broken up in some way.  I have a friend who runs marathons (he did Boston in April) who could possibly join me. AG is game to run some longer routes and she has other friends that are likely to compete. It's supposed to be a beautiful course. More to come on that.

I'm happy with my decision to forgo exercise today. I don't want to over-train and I'm expecting to do another Friday through Sunday long distance span. Tomorrow I plan to hit the road at 4:00, headlamp on.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

11K is my Sunday best

I had high hopes for a 6+ mile run on Saturday but I only had time for 3.8 miles. Still, that meant at least 8 miles covered between Friday afternoon and Saturday morning. AG told me she did 7.5 miles on Saturday and that inspired me to try for at least six today. My prior distance record was 5.95 miles, a point of frustration for me because I ran that with a poorly calibrated Garmin and I thought I had exceeded 6 miles on that run. I set off today armed with both the QStarz Sports Recorder and my Garmin 50 with a goal of running more than six miles.

After the first few minutes of slight pain from my right leg I felt good and I had plenty of energy for a long run. I made my way to neighborhood #2 to build some miles, and exited at the 3 mile mark as I made my way along the southern service road. I copied part of my route from Saturday but in an expanded loop and ran along the busy road that frames the western side of my neighborhood and meets Jericho Turnpike that parallels the north side.  I intended to exit into my neighborhood at the same place as I did yesterday but as I crested the hill I turned in sooner so I could run some less traveled side roads and accumulate more distance. I was pleased when I reached 5 miles because I knew that it would be at least one more mile until I reached home. I had a fleeting thought about running 7 miles but I thought that would be a fun milestone to break in the future. As I came around toward the middle school I saw that I had gone over a half mile past 6 and I followed a path that I know is exactly .25 miles from my driveway. As I ran by that point I noted my distance so I could benchmark the accuracy of the Garmin on this run. I still had plenty of energy when I reached my house and noted that I had covered exactly .25 miles from my marked spot so I had confidence in what the Garmin was reporting.

As I reviewed the run on the watch display I saw that I covered 6.62 miles (11K) at a pace of 9:12. I was very pleased by that. I did not look at pace data once through my run though I did think about moving along a little faster from time to time. I know I could have run a little faster at the end though I'm not confident I could have broken 9:00. Maybe. Overall it was a great run and I'm icing my quadricep with the Moji that is really a nice thing to have. My data from the QStarz was a little wacky, the GPS was confused at the beginning of the run so the distance didn't match. The additional data, like elevation is really nice to have. The Imperial measurement and the bias toward kilometers instead of miles is annoying because the interface doesn't give you good tools to modify these things. The exported XML file uses kilometers so while its great to see your speed every 30 seconds or so on the map you have to translate it yourself into miles.

AG and I are planning on a 6.2 mile run next Friday so I'm glad I got this one under my belt. A new distance record for the Emerging Runner. I'm halfway to a half marathon!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Faced the past, had a blast

Yesterday me and AG did our usual end of the week run in Central Park. We returned to the Bridle trail in Central Park that we ran a few months ago. That previous run was difficult for me. I wore a non-breathable rain jacket and between the heat from that plus the very giving mud-caked trail I had a hard time with pace and distance. Much has improved since then, the weather was cooperative but very warm and the trail was in much better shape than before. We ran the trail and circled the reservoir for a total distance of 4.6 miles (per Garmin) and 4.2 miles (per Central Park map). It was a great run. We didn't push ourselves and while our pace was moderate we had quite the workout. I was also able to carry on a conversation with a minimum of huffing and puffing. That may have had more to do with our pace than my fitness but I'll take it. Near the end AG decided to step up her pace and I watched her take off at a speed I could not match. I did try to keep her in my sight and though she finished well ahead I didn't embarrass myself.

This morning I switched my plans for a Bethpage run because the US Open has taken over that location. I was pressed for time so I did a 3.8 mile run in my neighborhood. I took a different route than normal and followed the western and northern boundaries of the neighborhood running parallel to a couple of major roads. The northern section has a decent hill that gave me pause but turned out to be much easier than I'd anticipated. I tested the QStarz sports recorder for the first time and was knocked out by the rich amount of information that it provided (click on the above picture to see an example of how it interfaces with Google Earth). I'm going to live with it for a couple of weeks and then post a full review on Runner's Tech Review. I'll use it again tomorrow when I hope to cover at least 5 miles.

Announcing the Expanded Emerging Runner

I am pleased to announce two new blogs from the Emerging Runner: Running Gone Wild, Adventure Girl's monthly column which covers fun and challenging activities that contribute to better running. This month's column is about Yoga and I even learned a few things. Also new is a blog called Runner's Tech Review that will review running technologies, running gear and nutritional products that enhance the running experience. You'll find a review of the Moji Knee icing system as well as our first review of MixMyGranola. As always, every week Sedentary Man shares his perspective on activity, motivation and life in general. I hope you enjoy these new features.

Friday, June 12, 2009

I used to run but...

Okay, I talk about running a lot. It's a great subject for casual conversation, especially with people you don't know well. While it might be dangerous to discuss politics or religion with acquaintances, mentioning that you run usually evokes the following responses:

1. I run too. What pace/distances do you run?

2. I run a couple of times a week. That's often followed by "but it's been a while since I've actually run."

3. Oh, I can't run. It's so boring.

4. I used to run but...

- My knees couldn't take it.
- I don't have time anymore.
- I realized I hated it.
- I wasn't any good at it.
- It was too much of a commitment
- I couldn't stay motivated.
- Now I swim, bike, weight train, etc.
Every once in a while mentioning running will spark enough interest to get people to try it. More than one person has told me they've taken up running (curiously it's often via the treadmill) after I've mentioned what I do. I still get "You've lost weight, how did you do that?" from people whom I haven't seen for a while. People love to talk about fitness and diet and they like hearing how small changes in both can make a real difference.

I don't try to convince people to run and I try to avoid the fanatic zealotry that often comes from those who find great satisfaction from athletic activities. Like I said before, it's best to avoid conversations about religion.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Hold the pace, improve your race

I heard from my friend and running advisor, CK, after I'd posted about last Sunday's 8K race. He was convinced that my stamina issue was related to the pace I'd maintained over the first three miles. My initial reaction was to debate this because I'd maintained the same pace pretty successfully in both my 4 miler in April and my 5K in May. But I think he was right. I know I can run a 5K at 8:33 and a 4 mile race at 8:50. Add another mile to that and I finished last Sunday's 8K with a 9:00 pace. So clearly my performance degrades with each mile after the first three.

I was only passed by one or two people in the 5K and that happened in the final 400 meters to the finish line. I was passed by a lot more people in the final mile of the 4-mile race and in miles 4 and 5 of the 8K. I experienced more than one "Where did they come from?" moment in reaction to hearing fast footsteps behind me as we moved toward the end of the race..

CK said that holding back on your pace is an effective race strategy, especially for a 5 mile distance. Perhaps, instead of 8:25,  if I'd maintained closer to an 8:50 to 9 minute pace through the first three miles I'd have had enough in reserve to pass instead of being passed. It's worth testing that theory. This weekend I'm planning to try one of my long runs starting at a moderate pace and then start increasing my speed as I get closer to the end.

I may find that this helps or that I'm simply losing significant energy after 4 or 4 miles due to a need to improve my level of conditioning. But when accomplished runners like CK give me advice, I listen.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

4:00 AM float

The skies were clear at 3:55 AM as I rose this morning, sleepy but excited to run outdoors. Every day I have the same reaction to the alarm: surprise that it's time to get up and incredulity that I'll be running in less than 10 minutes. When I run on the treadmill, or use the elliptical, the bright lights of the guestroom prepare me for athletic activity. Once I'm on those machines I'm fully engaged. It might as well be 4:00 in the afternoon at that point. Going from the darkness of the house to the darkness outside is a different story.

When I exited my house this morning equipped with headlamp and reflective vest I was struck by the way my neighborhood looked. There was a light mist, not quite fog, and palpable quiet. The darkness was peaceful and the streets looked inviting. As I made my way up the road the action of running felt effortless. It was almost as if I was still in bed while my body was outside doing this run.

My plan was to run about 2 miles to allow me to stay on schedule. I tried to maintain a brisk pace as I remembered my previous 4:00 AM run when the darkness made me think I was running faster than my actual speed. I monitored my time and distance on the Garmin and the Petzl Tikka Plus headlamp did a great job illuminating the watch and everything in my path. I tried to pick up the pace even more on my last stretch and when I finished the run I saw that I had covered 2.16 miles in a little less than 20 minutes. The Garmin showed this as a 9:17 overall pace which seemed a bit slow. I Gmapped it and confirmed that distance so the illusion of speed continues.

Like the first time, the experience of running this early was extremely satisfying and fun. I didn't encounter a single car or person this time. I wouldn't say the run was effortless but the cool air and light breezes felt great and counteracted the moisture in the air. The run was more like a float, part of that was due to not being fully awake by the time I hit the street. It sure beats the treadmill as a start of day activity. I can't wait to do it again.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Petzl postponement

I awoke this morning to the sounds of pounding rain and thunder. The room was illuminated by flashes of lightning and I knew there would be no outdoor workout today. I grabbed my morning cup and fired up the treadmill instead of heading outside with my new headlamp and reflective vest. My prior experience running at 4:00 AM was really nice and I had high hopes of doing that today. I visited Paragon in Union Square at lunch time yesterday and bought an AG- approved Petzl Tikka Plus headlamp and Nathan reflective vest. Last night I tried it all on for size and went to bed anticipating a peaceful circuit through the streets of my neighborhood. That will need to wait until tomorrow.

After Sunday's 8K race I decided to take a rest day to recover from that run. I knew, no matter what, that I would run today. My relationship with the treadmill has deteriorated - I don't like it and it doesn't like me. The display usually quits about a mile into a run so I depend on my Garmin for performance and timing data. I started at a comfortable pace and thought about maintaining that rate throughout the duration of the run. I wanted to cover at least two miles in my limited time so I pushed the speed slider further to the right and went with that. It was very hot in the guest room but that didn't bother me as much as I would have expected. In fact I enjoyed the run and finished with an overall pace of 8:57.

I'm really hoping for clear skies tomorrow morning. I much prefer the cool morning air and the quiet of dawn to the percussive noise from the treadmill. But I have to admit that the treadmill came through for me today: day one of training for my next race.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Mid year goals check

After yesterday's race I started thinking about my progress this year and how I have done against my running goals. In business it is common to set goals early in the year that become irrelevant by years end. Sometimes new objectives surface months later. In terms of running I'm pleased that the goals I set in late December remain valid. I suppose I could add a couple related to specific conditioning needs but those are really on the tactical side. Here's my mid year report card:

1. Participate in at least four local races.

As of yesterday I am 3/4 through this goal. I'm hoping to participate in a Summer Series run in July and I have targeted a few fall races including a local Thanksgiving race in my town.

Score: Ahead of pace

I have run 6 miles (actually, due to a Garmin calibration error it was 5.95 miles) but I haven't made 6.2. I was going to run the Great Cow Harbor 10K later this year but I have a schedule conflict. After yesterday I realize I'm not ready to be competitive at that distance so I'll likely hit that goal this month in a training run.

Score: On track

3. Run three miles under 8:40/mile.

I ran the LI Marathon 5K at 8:33 and have beaten 8:40 a few times on longer runs since then.

Score: Completed

4. Incorporate one rest day into my weekly training schedule.

I didn't take too many rest days until my first race in April when I forced myself to take a couple before that event. I've been taking them most weeks since then and I've also incorporated a light elliptical workout once a week.

Score: On track

The only goal I would add for 2009 is to run at least 20 miles per week. I've averaged 19.2 miles since the beginning of May so this is possible. I plan to do more outdoor early morning runs which will push my daily average higher than I've been attaining on the treadmill.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

The race is run: 8K - 53 yards = 9:00/mi

I'm happy to report that this morning I completed my third race in as many months. The race distance was 8K (53 yards short of 5 miles) and it really pushed the limits of my stamina. I've regularly run 5 or more miles over the last six months but usually at a comfortable (non-competitive) pace. I did well through most of the race but I did find myself questioning this whole running thing at one point. I'll get to that further below.

Now that I've experienced racing a few times I know better what to expect. I arrived early to ensure a good parking spot and to allow enough time between check in and the start of the race. Despite my concerns about the planning (online registration was not enabled until the week of the race) the event was well organized and check in was orderly and efficient. I got my number, timing chip and t-shirt and got myself set up. I was alone so I stowed the non-essential items in my car and then did some stretching and warm up exercises. There were a number of people doing warm up runs but with the sun and the 65+ degree heat a warm up did not seem necessary. Most participants belonged to running clubs and there were many of those. Each club seemed to establish a base camp where they stood around and talked as we waited for the start. I was one of the odd men (and women) out but I chatted with a few people. I even showed another runner how to attach his timing chip and that made me realize that I'm no longer a complete newbie.

We began lining up about ten minutes prior to the start. I stayed on the sidelines where there was some shade as the sun was already bearing down at 9:05 AM. When I did get into place I was behind 30 or 40 other runners. Once the starting horn sounded we were off and, with the crowd ahead, it took me at least 15 seconds to pass the starting line. My plan was to start fast so I had to maneuver around some slower runners to get a clear area for running. I was pleased with my pace and very happy when I passed the display at mile 1 which showed 8:25. The course was balanced between hills and downhill stretches. I'd guess that overall it was balanced neutral to downhill. There were no killer hills but there were a few stretches where I had to put my head down and just push on for a distance. I was still tracking below 9:00/mi after mile 2 and, like the 5K in May, the time between miles two and three seemed to go very fast. I must have started to lose speed after the third mile because I had managed to hold off from being passed until then. I even passed a number of other runners after the second mile but as I headed toward mile four I got passed by at least five runners. I tried to maintain some speed on the downhill sections but I wasn't feeling all that strong and started "borrowing" those stretches for recovery from the hill segments.

The last mile was the hardest and I seriously felt like I couldn't maintain my pace too much longer. It felt a lot more like suffering than fun at that point. There were many people cheering as I got close to the finish and all the volunteers who were passing out water along the route were very gracious and encouraging. I felt slightly more energized once I saw the green field ahead that told me the finish line was close. Once I reached the grass I gave it everything I had and sprinted the final few hundred feet and noted that I had finished at 44:42 which meant that I beat 9:00 per mile.

Except I didn't...

When I looked at the posted results near the finish line I was disappointed to see that I ran a 9:00 overall pace and it hit me that the 8K course was 53 yards shy of 5 miles! I started thinking about the crowded start and the fact that I probably would have beaten 9:00 if my starting position was closer to the line. But that's an excuse, if I'd maintained the same pace for the last mile that I'd run for the first 4 I would have made my goal. It was my conditioning that prevented that and now I know that I have to train better for longer distances. I can only be grateful that it wasn't a 10K!

Despite not beating 9:00/mi I'm happy that I came as close as I did. The post race experience was a blur. I remember having a banana, an orange slice and a bottle of water and I tried to keep moving to allow my heart rate to drop slowly. I was happy with the race I ran but I know where I need to improve. I've emerged a little more. So what's next?

Saturday, June 6, 2009

13 hours to the start

As I edge closer to 9:15 AM on Sunday I'm thinking a lot about tomorrow's race. Although this is the 32nd running of the New Hyde Park 8K there is very little information about it online. I haven't found any course maps or even a course description. One source, an experienced LI runner with whom I interact on the Runner's World Loop, described the course as fairly flat. He's not able to do the run himself because he has an EMT service obligation. Based on what he's said I'm assuming that it will be a fast course.

Unlike the other two races I've recently run, there is no pre-race day check-in so I'll be heading over early for that. I'm hoping the event is well organized and they get everyone checked in efficiently. I'm planning to run this race without my wife and kids attending and I'll need to time my check-in so that I get my t-shirt and/or goody bag back to my car in time to line up for the start. I've selected my race gear and I'm feeling about as ready as I can be. I'm wearing my Brooks GTS 9's that I bought the day after my last race and they have felt great. I'm hoping that I have good energy tomorrow morning. Five miles may be a standard length for my weekend runs but I haven't yet competed at that distance.

My race strategy will be to go out fairly fast for the first mile but to conserve enough to get me through the next four. AG taught me that I should use downhills to push speed and I've done that on my last few runs with good success. I'm worried how I'll feel around mile 3 but that will depend mostly on the course and the heat. I'm concerned that I won't be able to maintain my targeted pace over 5 miles. I'll soon know if my training strategy has worked.

I'm hoping that I get good rest tonight. We spent today doing family things and the closest thing to athletics was helping my daughter learn to skateboard. I took a rest day on Thursday and felt very strong on my Friday morning run. I'm betting that today's rest will help but it's still the longest distance I've had to cover in a race.  I'll let you know how it went!

Friday, June 5, 2009

Rest, rain, rest, run!

I had high hopes for a pre-work day run in Central Park this morning. I'm trying to optimize my readiness for my race on Sunday and I took yesterday as a rest day. I planned on a final training run today before resting again tomorrow. We had rainy weather this morning and while I actually enjoy running in the rain I didn't think it would be nice to spend the rest of the business day looking like a wet dog.

As I headed into the office I was disappointed to see the rain was coming down lightly but steady. I figured that I'd have to put off my morning run until later in the day. I made my way over to AG's office and she was already dressed for running. I tried to convince her to run later but she pointed to her calendar which showed meetings throughout the day. She said she was going to run with or without me so I gave in and changed into my running gear. It was rainy as we ran up town to Central Park but the air felt nice and cool. We started our timed run on the south end of the park and did one circuit around the lower loop which measured 1.76 miles. We ran at a fairly fast pace (8:30 overall) and I was happy that I was holding my own with AG - at least most of the time. Lately I've inhibited the pace when we've run but I think running in cool weather in the morning, for less than 2 miles, really helped. With our slower paced run from our office to the park we covered a total of 2.5 miles and it was a great final run before Sunday's 8K.

My concern that I'd look spent and soaked for the rest of the day was unfounded and I was very happy that AG shamed encouraged me into running despite the wet weather. I wish I could run in those same conditions on Sunday but the reports are saying 65 and partly cloudy. Come to think of it, that's not too bad either.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Pre-race rest

I'm still a racing newbie and while I have competed a couple of times in the last two months I'm not convinced that I have figured out the best strategy for optimizing my readiness prior to race day. I'd decided to take two rest days before my 4 mile race in April. The idea was to aid my recovery from the harder than normal training program I had been following. I ran a good race that day and despite a few killer hills I kept my overall pace at 8:50 per mile. The second race, in May, was a 5K on a flatter course and I decided to push my training a little more and my rest a little less. I only took one rest day the day before and ended up averaging 8:33 which pleased me to no end.

This Sunday's race is my longest yet, 8K/5 miles on an unknown course. I have not had too many sub 9:00 runs at distances greater than 4 miles so I'm not really sure how I'll do. My goal for the 4 miler was to break 9:00 and I did. My goal for the 5K was to break 8:40 and I did. My goal for Sunday is to do better than 9:07 which seems to be the best pace I've attained for 5+ miles in the last couple of months. If I can beat 9:00 I'll be happier still.

I'm enjoying a rest today although I could easily have run a couple of miles. I woke up with little leg and knee soreness (icing and compression helped that) and thought one more day of rest can't hurt. Saturday will also be a rest day if you consider back to back appointments at the eye doctor and dentist restful. Then it's race day. I'm hoping for the best.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

A penultimate pre race run

I took the day off today and sneaked in a longer than normal week day run. I'm in taper mode and wanted to get one more 3+ mile run under my belt before Sunday's 8K. Like other times when I've run during the work week morning I was cautious about sharing the road with cars and school buses and I stayed on the sidewalks more than I normally do. Sidewalk running has its own risks, especially when you encounter buckled or broken sections. But compared to a steady stream of cars making their way to the local school and landscaper's trucks maneuvering through the streets it's a better way to go.

I gave myself a quarter mile to work out the leg stiffness that remains on my right side and then focused on keeping my pace steady and brisk. I felt good and the weather was cooperative so I expected that I'd end up pacing below 9:00 minutes overall. I was a little time pressed and needed to return home within 35 minutes of departure so I knew I'd probably run less than 4 miles. I purposely kept the Garmin in time mode rather than pace or distance. I wanted to see how I would run if I concentrated on speed without knowing how much distance I'd covered or what speed I was running. As I came upon the last segment of my route I tried to run faster, lengthening my stride and quickening my cadence. I finished and saw that I'd covered 3.6 miles at 8:54/mile. I was happy that I broke 9:00 but I'm still wondering why I'm not in the 8:30 range at this point. Oh well, I plan one more run on Friday and perhaps I can again push the speed and get ready for a faster pace on Sunday.

I will soon announce a new section/site related to the Emerging Runner that focuses on running technology: Runner's Tech Review. The first review will cover the Moji knee icing wrap which I am wearing as I write this. AG field tested it with her team during her recent Patch Sprint mountain race. I am also starting to work with the QStarz GPS Sports Recorder and will report on that soon.

Stay tuned for lots of new stuff on emergingrunner.com including "Running Gone Wild" and, every week, "Sedentary Man."

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

BMW's look evil at 4:00 AM

Last week I borrowed a reflective vest, headlamp and tail light from Adventure Girl so I could try an early morning run outside. I'll admit that I was somewhat intimidated by the idea of running alone in what is the middle of the night to most people. I got up this morning and put on my running gear, taking some extra time as I figured out the right way to wear the vest and resizing the head lamp so that it fit around my big head. The last task was to attach the blinking red LED to the back making me visible from all directions. That done, I made my way out to the driveway for a few minutes of stretching before hitting the road.

As I turned off my street onto the road past the middle school I was surprised to see how well lit my neighborhood is at 4:05 AM. I felt really good as I ran, it was almost effortless and the temperature, dry, low 40's, was perfect. I also appreciated that there was no sun bearing down on me contributing to body heat.

As I exited the middle school grounds I was actually startled by the reflected light of a parked BMW whose Xenon headlights glowed malevolently in response to the blue LED from the head lamp. It looked like an eerie blue Jack-O-Lantern. I ended up seeing a number of other cars that reflected this way during the run. My goal was to duplicate the 2 mile circuit that I ran on Sunday and it went by quickly. Or so it seemed. As I ran the final leg up the service road that feeds into my neighborhood I upped my speed hoping to finish with an impressive overall pace. I finished the 2.04 mile run (the Garmin is spot on accurate now) averaging 9:20/mile. Clearly running in the dark alters your perception of speed because I would have sworn that I was tracking at a 9:00 or below pace.

In the end it didn't matter. It was one of the best morning runs I've had and I felt completely safe. I only encountered a car delivering the NY Times to homes and one truck during my route. Otherwise it was quiet and peaceful, just me, some scary car faces and lots of lawn sprinkler activity. I'll definitely invest in my own night running gear. It's a great alternative to the treadmill and it can be a good way to beat the summer heat for my daily runs.

Monday, June 1, 2009

8K's a week

It's getting down to the final days leading up to my 8K race on June 7. It's hard to believe that it's already June 1st. You wouldn't know it this morning with temperatures in the 40's in the suburbs east of NYC. It's too early to count on the long range forcast for next Sunday but the race starts at 9:15 AM and I'm hoping the humidity will be relatively low at that point.

I've decided to taper my workouts this week, starting yesterday with a shorter (but faster) 2+ mile run. I covered the distance at an 8:50 pace which compares to the 9:07 average I ran in May. Knowing that it would be short I kept up my speed throughout the run and benchmarked distance from the Garmin against known waypoints on my route. I saw that the Garmin was undercounting my progress so I ignored the readout and just followed the route I'd Gmapped prior to the run. In all, the Garmin was off by 5% and I manually adjusted the watch so it should be accurate now. I followed my run with some time in the pool where I did kicking exercises that, combined with the cold water, helped my quad soreness.

This morning I did 22 minutes on the elliptical as a weekend recovery workout (totaled 12.5 miles between Friday and Sunday). Tomorrow I plan to do a weekday run outdoors using the vest and head lamp I borrowed from AG. I'm taking off Wednesday so I hope to do my last long run before the race and follow that with a rest day on Thursday. Friday morning I hope to do a relatively short city run with AG to finish the taper and rest on Saturday.

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