Wednesday, June 30, 2010

More things that glow at 4:00 AM

Artist's rendering
Today's run (street): 2.4 miles at 9:14 per mile

I was hoping for some relief from the heat after yesterday and the weekend but I wasn't prepared for the blast of cold air that I felt when I stepped outside this morning. I'm not complaining -- it was fantastic. The change in weather inspired me to take a different route than usual. For the first half of my run I chose some different roads and also followed streets in the opposite direction than I usually run them. That small change makes a big difference in terms of novelty. I fixed my headlamp problem so that was one less issue to address today and I felt more energized in my run than any other in recent memory. Unless you count my last race.

I encountered three cats and two rabbits along the way, but with the temperature at 63 degrees the fireflies weren't glowing this morning. I did see a strange sight along one street though. A house that was under construction had one of those large storage containers parked in the driveway. All four corners of the container had segmented lights running top to bottom that emitted an eerie glow. It looked like a spaceship sitting there among the houses. About halfway through my run I glanced at the Garmin and saw that I was tracking at about a 9:30 pace and I knew I could do better than that. I picked up my speed and ended up gaining back enough time to push my overall pace to 9:14 which is (according to Daily Mile) the fifth fastest run that I've done over the last four weeks. I'm not sure what that means except that I haven't run below 9:20 too often in recent days. If tomorrow is equally comfortable I'll look forward to pushing even harder. There's a long weekend coming up and I'm hoping to accumulate some good mileage during my days off.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Who needs a headlamp when you have fireflies?

Today's run (street): 2.42 miles at 9:23 per mile

One benefit of high humidity
There's no relief from the heat and humidity this week, even at 4:00 AM. On occasion I'll catch a break when a slight wind pushes the mist from a lawn sprinkler towards the road. This is akin to walking along the streets of NYC on a hot day and feeling the cold blast of conditioned air from an open door. Most of the time it's just hot and humid and you appreciate that there's no sun to add to the misery. Running and discomfort go together like politics and blame so runners suffer through the tough parts and enjoy the good. Or as Haruki Murakami says about running: "Pain is inevitable; suffering is optional."

Despite the weather, I was pleased with how I ran this morning. I still cannot understand how running the same way on different days yields such different results. I definitely did not slack off during my workout this morning and I consciously focused on my cadence. I may have moved the needle a little in terms of overall pace but not by much. At one point in the run I was traveling down a dimly lit street and noticed something shining back at me. I first thought it was a cat or small animal whose eyes reflected light from my Petzl headlamp. I then discovered that my lamp was off so it couldn't be that. I've been having trouble with the unit switching itself off for no apparent reason and I'm wondering if a replacement is needed. The light wasn't a reflection after all, it turned out to be fireflies. I soon saw a bunch more and also noticed the air was fragrant with the smells of honeysuckle and dogwoods. I forgot the heat and the discomfort for a few minutes and focused only on the scene before me.  Soon I was back to the job at hand, finishing my run and starting my work day. It would have been nice to experience cooler conditions this morning but overall it was darn good run.

Monday, June 28, 2010

The key to keeping my cool

Brooks Rev-T
It was already 83 degrees at 5:00 AM this morning and I was glad that I usually rest on Mondays. On my way to the train I saw some runners out for their workouts and was surprised to see one guy in sweats and a woman running in a long sleeve tech top. It often puzzles me the way some people dress for their runs. I often see people running with what look like cotton sweatshirts even when the temperature is above 70 degrees. These people either don't sweat much or they think that wearing heavy layers will generate more heat and burn more calories. My preference is to wear as little as I can, even if it's very cold when I start. On 25 degree days I warm up sufficiently within ten minutes with only a long sleeved jersey, compression pants and a hat. Once temperatures get closer to 40 I switch to short sleeves and generally wear compression shorts. Any temperatures warmer than that will move me to regular running shorts.

I've come to appreciate the differences in wicking efficiency between the shirts I own. The Champion C9 shirts do a credible job but the quality isn't great and a few are starting to fray at the seams. I bought a Zoot shirt that should be great. It's constructed of ultralight material with fine mesh in areas that need extra ventilation. This shirt does a good job but, perhaps due to its lack of material mass, it gets overwhelmed fairly quickly. I also have an ATAYNE shirt that's made from 100% recycled material. It's great for spring and fall but a bit too heavy for humid summer days. I've had less success with shirts that have a tight weave and satin-like texture (e.g., Old Navy REC shirts and cheap tech tee's from races) than with shirts with more open weaves and a little more material. My three best shirts, by far, are my Nike (Sphere), Adidas ClimaCool 365 and Brooks Rev-T. These shirts meet my needs very well in almost any weather. I've learned that the cooler I run, the better I perform. That's why you won't see me in a sweatshirt, even when the mercury hits 20 degrees.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Summer running will take some patience (and better conditioning)

Today's run (street) 3.82 miles at 9:43

Shady activities
It's been a fun weekend with our guests. The weather has been hot and sunny and the kids have owned the pool. I even accomplished a chore; assembling one of those new offset swing umbrellas that can tilt and move laterally. That created a perfect place for the grownups to sit poolside while we watched the kids in perpetual motion in the water. Yesterday was a hot and humid five miles and this morning it was even more humid. I got out before 7:00 AM but it was already uncomfortable. I was glad to be wearing my Adidas AdiStar running shirt that does an excellent job of managing moisture. Eventually the shirt reached 100% saturation but I was fairly comfortable throughout the run. I wore my Brooks because I wanted maximum comfort on what I knew would be a difficult run.

I did a mile loop near my house and then headed to neighborhood #3 for a change of scenery. By the time I reached my second mile I was hot and tired and focused only on finishing my planned route. Although my leg turnover felt fast my Garmin told me otherwise and I knew I would need to work to keep my overall pace within the 9:00 range. I returned to my neighborhood for the final mile and a half and, like yesterday, finished hot, panting and soaked. I've run every day since last Monday and I'll rest tomorrow after covering about 20 for the week. We were discussing the runner's high this weekend and one of our guests mentioned that he's never finished a run and then felt a rush of euphoria. I usually feel good when I finish and, depending on the run, I can carry that feeling throughout the day. The last two days have only brought relief that the runs were over. I keep telling myself that it's good practice for hot conditions and high elevations in Colorado Springs. That said, I'm still looking forward to Tuesday morning when I get out there again.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

5 humid miles

Today's run (street): 5.2 miles at 9:31

I intended to get out before 7:00 AM because I knew the heat would be intense by mid morning. It took longer to get out than I planned and I hit the road at 7:18 under sunny skies. It took me about a half mile before I started feeling the humidity but, bam, there it was. I decided to give myself a gift and followed the road along Jericho Turnpike that runs downhill for about a quarter mile before leveling off. At the next crossing I headed south along South Oyster Bay Road where the sidewalk runs the gamut between level concrete to broken up cement with overgrown grass. I continued across the LIE overpass and entered neighborhood #2 from the west side. By this time I was feeling the effort but I knew I wanted to get a couple of more miles in. After a run around the western loop I headed east and extended my normal route by hitting a few extra streets.

I ended up covering about 5 miles with the last mile proving a major challenge. I often think, at the end of a run, how much farther I could have run. Sometimes the answer is "a few miles more" but today the answer was "not one foot more." The humidity was overwhelming and an extended run was not in the cards. Tomorrow I'll aim for an earlier start to avoid the heat and the storms that are predicted for Sunday. Our guests will probably leave by midday tomorrow so I'll want finish up in time to spend most of the morning with them. I wouldn't mind a cooler experience tomorrow but I'd settle for a lower dew point.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Another good Kinvara run

Today's run (street): 2.5 miles at 9:11 per mile

We have friends arriving later today who will stay with us over the weekend. I think we're due for some decent weather today but I decided to forgo my usual Friday city run in favor of an early morning run. I checked last night and with sun and temperatures in the 80's by mid day, it made more sense to go out in the dark when it was still relatively cool. I've worn the Saucony Kinvaras the last four times I've run this week and I do like the feel of the shoe. I know many people who are highly sensitive to the nuances of every shoe they wear but for me the threshold for satisfaction is low. The shoe either feels good or it doesn't. The Kinvaras feel good and I believe they are helping me strengthen my legs by forcing more of a mid-foot striking style. The people at Jackrabbit showed me that I tend to come off the heel (albeit quickly) when I run which contributes to my pronation. I don't know if a neutral shoe like the Kinvara heads off pronation by guiding the foot towards the front. I haven't suffered any problems running in this neutral shoe so that may be the case.

My run today felt faster than yesterday's but it was actually a little slower. I think going out at 6:15 AM gave me an advantage yesterday. I simply run slower at 4:00 AM. That's okay though, this morning's run felt energizing and good. I'm not sure of my run schedule for the weekend. My guests are not runners so I'll probably go out early tomorrow, before everyone else is up, and be done in time for breakfast. I have no real goals for the weekend but I need to think somewhat about my conditioning. We're heading to Colorado in a few weeks on vacation and with elevations of a mile or more I'll want to be as prepared as I can.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Unexpectedly positive run

Today's run (street): 2.64 miles at 9:09 per mile

I was ambivalent about going for a run today. Tuesday and Wednesday's runs were tough and I questioned whether I was pushing myself too hard. The last two times I went out it seemed like I just couldn't get myself out of second gear and I wasn't looking to repeat that experience today. With the temperatures approaching 80 degrees by 6:00 AM and the dew point rising, I considered cranking the AC and jumping on the elliptical. I decided to run but to keep my pace moderately slow. I targeted a top end range on my HRM and I used that as a guide for my level of exertion. Wearing my Kinvaras I took off at a comfortable pace and I was surprised to find the effort was less than anticipated.

Although I had a little more time than usual this morning (I took the day off for my son's graduation) I wasn't planning to go out for more than 25 minutes. The tightness of my upper hamstring was hardly noticeable and, unlike yesterday's run, I had no pain in my right knee. After about five minutes I knew that it would be a good run regardless of my overall pace. Mile one seemed to come when I expected it and I hoped that last night's calibration had finally restored the Garmin's accuracy. I didn't feel like I was moving along very quickly but I refused to look at my watch because I didn't want to feel pressure to speed up. The second mile came faster that I expected it and I was farther from my house than I thought I'd be when I hit that mark. I finished the run with 2.64 miles recorded and thought that the Garmin was way off. My heart rate never climbed to a level of high exertion so I expected my true distance was far less than indicated. When I got inside I Gmapped my route and it came to 2.64 miles so not only is the Garmin accurate but I hit 9:09 on a brutally hot morning.

It was a great feeling knowing I was back running closer to 9 minutes per mile. My son's graduation followed and was also great. He was a host for the day so I got to see him up on the podium a number of times introducing speakers and talking about the school year. A great day with a great start. In terms of my runs, I'll see what tomorrow brings.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Do, or do not. There is no try

Today's run (street): 2.2 miles at 10:05!

Much to learn, you have
It stormed last night and I was concerned that it would still be raining at 4:00 when I was due to start my run. My plan B was to do an elliptical workout rather than a treadmill run. The skies were clear when I went out and the temperatures, while not exactly cool, were still tolerable. Like yesterday, I experienced some flexibility issues and even felt pain in my right upper hamstring and right knee. After about ten minutes the pain had mostly subsided but I still felt like my gait was restricted. I made a few halfhearted attempts to introduce some speed but I just couldn't get things going. As my son often says (quoting Yoda) "Do, or don't do, there is no try." True enough, I probably should have ended today's run early after such a bad start.

I ended up running a relatively short 22 minutes because I'd started a bit late and wanted my 15 minute post-run coffee/recovery time before I officially began my day. My son has elementary school graduation tomorrow so I'm taking Thursday off. That will give me more time to run in the morning. I think some dynamic stretching may help my performance tomorrow and I'll try to sleep past 5:00 AM for the additional rest I surely need. Tomorrow I will do. Trying doesn't seem to help.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Hard to be fast when you're lazy

Today's run (street): 2.5 miles at 9:35 per mile

Things felt a little off today as I began my run. I had no complaints about the weather and I didn't feel particularly tired. I just didn't feel in rhythm with the process, either physically or mentally. Although this was my first run after a rest day my legs felt inflexible and heavy. It was almost as if  I was wearing ankle weights. The other analogy that fits is the feeling of being tethered to a weight that inhibited my speed. I tried to up my pace a couple of times but overall I defaulted to the rate I could sustain. Fortunately I've had enough experience running by now to know that unsatisfying runs sometimes happen and that bad runs are often followed by good runs. I'm hoping that will be the case tomorrow.

After a few weeks of very good performance that followed my receipt of two pair of lightweight Sauconys I have definitely moved back to averaging mid-9 minute paces. I want to break nine minutes consistently so I have to decide how serious I'm willing to get to add some performance training to my routine. Although I'm dedicated to my schedule I'm actually a lazy runner. It's rare that I push my speed during my training runs. It works for me because I almost always enjoy myself when I run but I also get frustrated with my lack of progress on speed. I read an article on this morning about using track work to gain speed that can be applied to distance running. I need to decide how serious I am about making a focused effort to improve. The only practical time to do that is on the weekend and I'm reluctant to give up a slot I reserve for longer runs. Perhaps I can do 20-30 minutes of running and then switch to speed work as the article suggests. Sounds worth a try.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Adventurous running can also be local

Today's workout: Rest day

The first day of summer has brought a welcome reduction in humidity. I looked at the early morning runners that I passed on my way to the train and regretted that I wasn't one of them. I could have run this morning but I need to make sure I consistently take at least one day off to rest each week. I don't go out for long weekday runs and could probably get away with running seven days a week, but I believe that a marginal rest day is more valuable than a marginal run day.

Yesterday's run on the trails was a nice way to cap off three days of 4+ mile runs. Trail running has become my preferred style and I always consider those runs special. I love the constantly changing terrain, elevations, scenery and the mystery of the experience. I'm often accompanied by animals in the woods, I can hear them rustling as I run by and I never know what I'll encounter around the next bend. Unless I stick to a familiar route I can count on getting lost. That's fun for me because I know I'll eventually find my way back. The biggest challenges I face are fast moving mountain bikers and steeply carved pathways that are almost as hard to descend as they are to climb. The hidden danger is roots along the trail that can bring you down hard, often before you know you've tripped. I had a near stumble yesterday and the adrenalin rush provided sufficient energy to scale a sudden steep embankment. Stillwell is only five minutes away from home but it always provides some great adventure.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Father's Day run at Stillwell

Today's run (Stillwell Woods Preserve): 4.4 miles at 10:06 per mile

Happy Father's Day to friends and readers (plus my dad and brother). This weekend has actually been 2.5 days because I worked from home on Friday and switched over to leisure time at noon. It's been a l-o-n-g weekend and I've enjoyed every minute so far. I started the day early with a run at Stillwell Woods Preserve. It was a little after 7:00 AM by the time I made my way into the woods and I entered on the northwest side and followed the path whichever way it led. I've run in these woods dozens of times and I thought I'd figured out the trails but I was experiencing today's run almost as if it was the first time I'd run there. After breaking past the "Interpretive Trails" section I found myself on a singletrack path that took me almost two miles before I reached a cross roads and had to choose a new direction. The choice I made led me through some tough terrain, lots of ups and downs with a mix of dirt, scree, sand and rock. I was very glad to have the tree cover that kept the temperature at a tolerable level. Still, the humidity had me sweating so badly that my running shorts and shirt were completely soaked through by the end.

There was a lot of activity in the woods this morning. I saw a hare and some rabbits, chipmunks, and lots of birds. There were a few dogs with their owners and a fair number of mountain bikers, most of whom were gracious and polite. Not all, but most. I'll admit that after the third steep approach around mile three I needed to stop for a minute to restore my energy level and check my compass. That action prompted a course correction and soon I was on my way through familiar territory and I found my way to the trail head after covering a total of 4.4 miles. The rest of the day has been equally fun and we spent late afternoon in and by the pool until sun showers chased us indoors. It was a good week for running despite some work responsibilities that prevented me from going out on Wednesday morning. I exceeded 20 miles for the week and although I'm not running very fast these days I'm pleased with the way I've felt on the roads and trail. I'm looking forward to cooler running at 4:00 AM during the week. Summer is here tomorrow and I'm ready for whatever it throws at me.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Energy drinks. Really?

 Today's run (street): 5.5 miles at 9:30 per mile

We're celebrating my daughter's 12th birthday today. Among other activities we made a visit to the local bowling lanes this morning. I'm not a fan of bowling, and no offense to those who are, but I have trouble viewing it as a sport. That's why I was so amused when we took a break so the kids could play some arcade games and saw this display of energy drinks in the vending machine.

An impressive display of energy drinks
Do you really need a 16 ounce can of Amp or RockStar to get you through the rigor of rolling a ball down a lane twenty times? Maybe so. My daughter and son wanted to bowl and I was expected to participate so I did my best. My wife is a good athlete and has no problems with the game but I have little skill with it. I quickly noticed that each time you take a turn the scoreboard displays the speed of the ball, presumably when it hits the pins. Now the game was interesting for me. We bowled two games and though I barely broke 100 each game I managed to improve my average speed from about 16 MPH to close to 20. I never did reach 20 but I came close - 19.86 MPH was my best of the day. With that, a good time was had by all.

Next time I break 20!
 Earlier today I went out for my first weekend run. I didn't have a great night's sleep and started with less energy than I normally have at 7:00 AM. I had no allusions of speed but I wanted to get some mileage in. I hadn't run more than four miles since last week's race so I figured today would be a day to do that. It was cool when I went out and I watched my heart rate to maintain a pace that kept me about 70% of max. No heroics for me, especially since the humidity was about to climb. I made my way over to neighborhood #2 where I did most of this morning's run. By 7:30 there were lots of people out, preparing for the day's activities, washing cars, walking dogs and running. I followed a different direction just for the change of scenery although it really just amounted to looking at different cars and houses. By the time I re-entered my neighborhood I had about 4 miles done and my heart rate had risen to over 80% of max. I covered another 1.5 miles before finishing with a total of five and a half. I then made a beeline to the pool for a cool-off dip. Perfect.

I'm not sure how much I'll run tomorrow. I'm thinking that a visit to Stillwell may be a nice change from the road and I'll see how I feel when I get up. In the meantime I'll enjoy the activities still to come as we continue the celebration of our daughter's birthday.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Not quite the run I thought I'd done

Today's run (street): 4 miles at 9:16 per mile

After today's run I thought that my best performance was tied to the time of day that I ran. My energy level at 6:15 AM was high and I started out well. I wanted to run about 3 miles this morning because I had some extra time. Usually I'm constrained to less than 25 minutes on weekdays but I'm working from home today so (without the commute) I was able to get out for over 30 minutes. It was only 61 degrees outside when I started and the first mile came quickly. That, as it turned out, was because it wasn't quite a mile. Unfortunately my Garmin has not served me well of late and switching the foot pod from shoe to shoe has not helped. I thought I'd completed 4.17 miles in about 37 minutes, a time that I considered good and reasonable. I figured that running at 6 AM simply gave me boost over how well I usually perform at 4 AM. My actual distance was well off what the Garmin recorded. It turned out I'd only run 4 miles.

 Forgetting performance for a moment I thought I'd run well today. I continue to like the feel of the Kinvaras and I'm hoping that they are facilitating mid foot landing when I run. I don't feel much difference in padding or support with the neutral Kinvaras and (knock wood) I have not experienced any tweaks or strains from wearing them so far. It makes me wonder if I could get away with a neutral everyday trainer. Not that I'm in the market for that. I'm just curious. I'm hoping to do at least one measurable run (over six miles) this weekend. I'll probably enlist my Brooks for that task. They remain my go-to shoe for distance. Why mess with success?

Thursday, June 17, 2010

The morning blues

Today's run (street): 2.3 miles at 9:16 per mile

I looked forward to this morning's run as I prepared my gear last night. I've just come through two weeks of tight deadlines and four speaking obligations and today's run was the first time in a while where I could go out free of those pressures. I'd run in my Grid Tangents the last three times and the magic of speed seems to have slipped away. Tuesday's performance was no better or worse than my usual experience with my GTS-10s. I decided to return to the Kinvaras and see if I could gain some efficiency by running in this light neutral shoe that promotes mid foot landing. I know two other people who own Kinvaras and they have both had concerns about running longer distances with them. So far my experience with the Kinvaras has been good. I see little difference between them and my other trainers.

Some mornings I move faster than others and today was a slow day. I'm not talking about on the road, I mean the process of preparing to run. Consequently I didn't step outside until 4:06 and I took off without doing any stretching because I didn't want to fall further behind. The skies were dark with no moon and overcast conditions. The rain had stopped but the roads were wet and the streetlights were reflecting garishly. It was quiet and I saw no other activity but it didn't feel peaceful. During Tuesday morning's run I saw a few cars and trucks and even saw another person on the street. It was a young woman taking a walk near the middle school. I kept my distance because I didn't want to spook her. Odd to see someone out walking at 4:30 AM.

I ended today's run after about 22 minutes. I was glad that I had run but slightly disappointed by the experience. I'm hoping to go out longer tomorrow morning and take advantage of the extra time I'll have working from home. I think I need rest and I'll try to sleep a little longer on Friday morning. It's been a while since I've had a satisfying long run. I'm hoping I can change that this weekend.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Not sure what to make of my FR60 calibration

Yesterday's run (street): 2.8 miles @ 9:29/mile
Today's workout (elliptical): 25 minutes

I've been focused on business needs this week and that has disrupted my blogging schedule. I'm at an industry event today where I presented in the morning. That was the last big thing I needed to get through for the week (so far). I'm thinking again about my running.

Yesterday I returned to the street and ran (according to Garmin) 2.95 miles. Knowing that my distance number on the FR60 was overstated by 6.5% against the distance of my 8K, I suspected that I didn't actually cover what the display showed. I "Gmapped" my route as soon as I could and discovered my true distance was 4.4% less than what was indicated. This didn't surprise me but it also makes me wonder if the 8K course was actually 8.2K. I have not moved the sensor on my foot pod the last three times yet my margin of error seems to have swung from calibrated to over counting by different amounts on subsequent runs. I'm transferring it to the Kinvaras tonight for tomorrow morning's run. I'll see what happens after that. My run on Tuesday morning went well although I didn't go particularly fast. Once again I surprised myself by not really caring about my pace. I've decided that I can either dedicate time to speed drills and tempos and improve my average pace or I can go out almost every day and just run for fun. I'm definitely focused on the fun option right now.

I chose to do an elliptical session this morning which was a perfect workout to prepare me for today's events. Tomorrow I'm planning to go out again and run. I'm thinking of pursuing a new distance goal this weekend. I think breaking 10 miles is the next frontier for me. Perhaps not this weekend, but soon.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Why I race

Today's workout: Rest day

My hopes for this weekend's race were to run well on Sunday and to beat last year's time. Doing the first thing should have resulted in the second but despite everything I'd done, the results were exactly the same. I would have liked to PR on the 8K but I'm pleased with my overall experience. I'm on track for completing at least six races in 2010 which would equal the number of races I ran in 2009. I could have run even more this year but I blew it in May when I failed to check the date of a local 5K. Earlier that month I chose to skip the RXR 10K. That may have been a good call, as weather conditions were close to intolerable with the heat and high humidity.

Each time I race it motivates me to race again. There is little in life that provides such a satisfying set of activities as racing. First is selection of venue. There are many race choices but some events are more appealing than others. Then there's training, strategy and anticipation of the race. I love the week leading up to race day. It's a time to think about the possibility of accomplishing a new PR and a chance to try new things. I was going to try some extra caffeine before the start of yesterday's race but decided to skip that. Perhaps that would have helped my performance. The night before a race is also fun with the planning of race day gear and working out morning logistics.

Once at the event, it's the process of checking in, getting your numbers and receiving your t-shirt that makes it feel like something great is about to happen. The pinning of the bib, attaching the timing sensor and the countdown to the start builds to the excitement of lining up and waiting for the gun. The race itself is always a little different but certain things always remain the same. The rush off the line, navigation around slower starters, the moments of overtaking other runners or being passed despite all efforts to hold them off. There's a time in every race when I feel I've pushed as hard as I could and there's not going to be anything left at the end. Most of the time I find the energy to come over the finish line feeling like I'd done my best. I'm never going to be a competitive runner but that's not why I compete. The fun and satisfaction before, during and after a race makes the typical entry fee seem like the best bargain around.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Race report: New Hyde Park 8K

At least the t-shirt was different this year

Today's run (New Hyde Park 8K): 44:42

I ran my third race of the year this morning. It was the second year in a row that I've run this race. Last year I ran it in 44:42 for an overall pace of 9:00 per mile. This year I prepared well for the race, rested two days prior and wore my new Saucony's that have proven to help my performance. Last year I struggled to get through the race and this year I felt good and thought I'd managed a fairly competitive pace. Despite my preparation, greater familiarity with the course and feeling very strong I still finished the race at 44:42. Exactly to the second what I ran last year.

Pre-race check- in
I arrived an hour before the race and they had already blocked off the parking lot at the school so I had to find a place to park on a nearby street. I checked in and was happy to see that the bib number was kinda cool looking and the race t-shirt  was nicely designed. The shirt I received last year was so garish and yellow that my wife forbid me to wear it out of the house. No problems with this year's t-shirt. I wore my new Brooks running shirt and that served me well. I also wore my Saucony Grid Tangent 4's that I really like but they didn't seem to give me a speed benefit.

I have to admit that I'm a little suspicious of the course distance. According to my Garmin the course length was 5.32 miles. That is .35 miles longer than an 8K. I checked the Garmin calibration on Thursday with the Tangents and it was accurate to less than 1%. I'm puzzled why it would suddenly be off by 6.5% - an unusual variance for a device that's usually within 3% accuracy even without calibration. I Gmapped the course and came up with 5.1 miles which is about 3% longer than 8K. Nonetheless, I fully accept the NHP Runner's Club's measurement as well as my time. It's just that if the course was actually 5.1 miles I would have broken 9:00 per mile. Oh well!

Although I wanted to do better than 2009 at least today's effort proved that I'm consistent. I don't have another race on the schedule yet but I'm fairly sure I'll run the Dirty Sock 10K again in August. It was nice to run this race today in the middle of a busy time at work. It's hard to be stressed after giving your all for 44 minutes and 42 seconds. Besides that, I got a cool t-shirt!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

A weekend for racing

This is a racing weekend, not only for me but for my colleagues FS and MO who participated in the NYRR Mini-10K this morning. No word on how they did, but I'm hoping they both had a good time. It was cool and dry this morning on LI and I hope that was true for NYC when the Mini-10K started. According to, at the start of tomorrow's race temperatures should be in the low 70's with a 40% chance of precipitation and 81% humidity. Not exactly ideal for a fast run but you can't pick your weather. Clouds and light rain surely beats having the hot sun bearing down on you.

I've been feeling slightly guilty for not running on Friday because I took an extra rest day on Wednesday. There's a lot happening with work so getting some additional rest was appreciated. Tapering is a valid method of preparing for a race and I need to keep that in mind. Tomorrow will be a busy day so I'll be doing the race without Team Emerging Runner. It doesn't matter, I just need to get there early so I can park close and stow my gear while I'm running. I'm really looking forward to the run. After a busy and demanding week of work and a tougher one to follow, I can briefly forget everything except for my goal of covering 8K as quickly as I can.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Race day Sunday: may the best me win

Today's run (street): 2.6 miles at 8:44 per mile

Despite my racing I'm really not a competitive person. When I line up for a race I sincerely hope the other people run well and when someone finishes ahead of me I am happy for them. But there's one guy I really want to beat this weekend. He's a year younger than me but I'm a year smarter than him. Last year he went out too fast and finished too slow and I plan to do the opposite on Sunday. I think I'll have some other advantages this year. I know the course ahead of time and I'm planning to wear my Saucony Grid Tangent 4's that seem to perform better than the other guy's Brooks GTS-9's. We'll see how it goes.

I'm not sure I'll run tomorrow. I may do an elliptical session or just rest for two days. This morning's run was one of the best I'd done in the last couple of weeks. Conditions were ideal at 4:00 AM. The air was cool, the skies were clear and I felt more rested than I did on Tuesday. I knew I was moving faster than normal, helped along by the Tangent's, and the first mile came faster than I expected. That's always good. There's a way of running when everything is working together and I had that this morning. I felt a bit like I was running my whole route downhill. I regretted my limited time today and wished I had another 20 minutes for my workout. I know I'll need to deal with sun and more heat at the race but I'll be mentally prepared for that. It would be great to have some cloud cover on Sunday morning but I won't count on it. That other guy better watch out.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

High Altitude Adventure (Girl)

Today's workout: Unscheduled rest day

Adventure Girl is taking on running at great heights in her latest post on Running Gone Wild. Reading about her experiences at 4,200 feet is making me wonder how I'll do on the trails in Colorado this summer. Perhaps I'll practice running while holding my breath for long periods of time. Just kidding - but I'm curious to find out if there are ways to practice for higher elevations.

No running for me today. The weather has laden me with a sinus pressure headache and I chose to grab some extra sleep this morning. I'm planning to do my final week's run tomorrow (maybe one more on Friday if I feel strong) and then rest on Saturday for Sunday's race. That's the plan. At least the elevations at the New Hyde Park 8K don't approach those in Bend, Oregon.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

A cool 4:00 AM run was a nice (and slow)

Today's run (street): 2.54 miles at 9:30 per mile

I was surprisingly alert this morning when I got up for today's run. After a day of meetings and travel I'm usually far more tired the following day. Every night I set out my running clothes, reflective vest, headlamp, etc., in anticipation of my morning workout. More often than not, in my just awakened fog, I entertain thoughts of skipping that day's run as I drag myself downstairs to pour some coffee. The process is so ritualized that despite my semi-conscious state I know to the second how things will play out. A few sips from my coffee mug are followed by a change into running clothes. Out of the house by 4:01, I hit start on the Garmin and pick a route.

Once out the door things vary: weather, energy level and activity. Most often there are no cars and rarely any people. This morning I saw both. This morning's temperatures were cool and that helped me get going. Unlike other mornings I avoided running through any sprinkler spray for the first ten minutes  of today's run because I was cold enough already. Even though my pace felt brisk I was obviously not moving very quickly and it seemed to take a while to complete my first mile. A look at my watch told me I was pacing around 9:45 which did not match the way I felt. My level of effort was low so I knew I could push it and I gradually increased my speed to finish with a 9:30 overall pace. The cool weather and no sun were greatly appreciated and I'm a bit concerned about covering 5 miles competitively on Sunday with heat and sun. I'll just run my race by going out at a moderate pace and making sure I have enough left to attain a negative split on mile five.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Smartening up for Sunday's race

Today's workout: Rest day

It was a beautiful morning today in Washington DC, the temperature was 65 when I woke up at 4:00. I looked out the window just as the sun was coming up to see two runners making their way along D Street. How I wished to join them! Unfortunately my schedule was too tight today to do any running, but next time I return I plan to do a few loops around the National Mall. I've reconciled my missed opportunity by acknowledging that I usually rest on Mondays anyway. Technically I'm tapering for an 8K I'm planning to run this coming Sunday.

I'm excited to be racing again for the first time since early April. I blew it on my last race, arriving the day after the event. This time I'm pretty sure it's on the 13th and since I've pre-registered and pre-paid I'm going to pay a little more attention to the details. Last year I ran the New Hyde Park 8K with no understanding or expectations of the course. I started fast and did about 8:25 for mile one and went downhill from there. The course isn't challenging in terms of hills but there are a few elevated sections. I recall the moment I knew I had overstepped my conditioning, I was on a section of road heading east when I started getting passed by other runners. I can remember the sound of approaching steps as one, two, three and more runners ran by and though I tried to speed up to hold them off I just couldn't sustain it. The fifth mile was brutal although I did manage to put enough energy into a final sprint that kept me under nine minutes for pace. Barely under: 8:59.

I have not run too strongly in the last week and my pace numbers reflect this. I had been hitting 8:40 fairly often and I'm almost a minute behind that of late. The good news is I don't really care. I'm judging the value of my runs by my level of satisfaction rather than purely by performance. However, I do want to beat last year's pace on Sunday and finish feeling stronger. I guess I'll need to run smarter as well.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Short day, short run

Today's run (street): 3.4 miles at 9:34 per mile

It's been a nice weekend despite my need to cut things short and travel to  Washington DC this afternoon. It was nice to see friends last night, especially those who enjoy running as much as I do. I was glad to hear that my friend RDV has signed up for a race later this month. Although he has been running fairly high mileage over the last few years this will only be the second time he has raced. I gave him some guidance to help ensure a better experience. I reinforced the need to go out at a moderate pace and not get swept up by the fast starters who may force him into an unsustainable pace. That's a lesson I learned the hard way last year when I was building my racing experience. I'll keep that in mind for my 8K next Sunday.

I've been feeling tired lately and I think it has much to do with a busy time at work and not getting the important sleep that I've needed. I wish I could sleep past 5:30 AM on weekends to bank some additional rest but I haven't been able to do that. I'm giving a talk on Monday but my voice has been rough over the last couple of days. I need my voice to be in decent shape tomorrow so I questioned whether a run would help my energy level or just run me down further. I felt good enough for an easy three mile run and wore my Brooks to ensure a comfortable experience. I followed a course that differed from my usual neighborhood loop and maintained a pace that allowed me to enjoy the sights, sounds and smells of the clear springtime morning. The humidity started to get to me by the end of the second mile. I toughed out the third plus a little more before finishing with a total of 3.4 miles. I'm glad I did this run and I'll rest until Tuesday. I'm happy I'll get a few more hours to spend with my family before I leave today. The work week will start again, all too soon.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Bad run, good run - it's all about attitude

Yesterday's run (Central Park): 2.3 miles at 9:18 per mile

Today's run (street): 4.2 miles at 9:38 per mile

"A good attitude ensures success." I actually saw someone in my neighborhood wearing that slogan on a tee shirt as I ran through the neighborhood this morning. It made me think about my running experiences yesterday and today and how the outcomes were so different. Yesterday was 85 degrees in the city, humid as heck with lots of sun bearing down. I was on the fence whether I would run at noon or take off early and run near home. I had been feeling tired all morning so I decided to have an early lunch and wait an hour to see how I felt. By 2:00 I had completed a presentation that I need to give on Monday so it was time to decide - either exit now or head to the park for a run. My planned running partner needed to take a pass today but I spoke to a few people, all of whom encouraged the running option. I figured that if I followed the Central Park bridle trail I'd have some tree cover to take the edge off the heat.

In the back of mind I was concerned about the weather, my fatigue and the fact that I was running after having lunch. I walked to the park and hit start on the Garmin as I crossed Central Park South. Within a minute I knew I was in trouble and by the time I reached the start of the bridle trail I was already  thinking that my run would be very short. The bridle trail was shadier than the road but the surface is softer and that requires more work. By the time the Garmin chirped the first mile I felt like I'd run five hard ones so I decided I'd only do one more. I headed east and picked up the paved path going south on the upper loop. The heat was brutal (apparently there was an air quality warning as well) but there were a few other runners out there who passed me at a brisk clip. Once I reached the 7th Ave. cut-over I stopped and cooled down having completed 2.3 miles. I realized that I had set my expectations for a difficult time and got exactly that.

This morning my goal was to get out early before there was too much sun and heat and cover a moderate distance within my neighborhood. It was important to put a good run on the books after yesterday's struggle and I could tell right away that the going would be easier than on Friday. I wore the Kinvaras because I didn't plan to run too long. Despite their light weight I didn't go very fast but I certainly didn't care about that. It was important that today's run be enjoyable and beneficial. Since my going-in attitude was positive I ended up pleased with my performance even though I was fairly tired by the end. I know it was just a slogan on a tee shirt but having a better attitude this morning did help ensure a better running experience today.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Hoping for a Central Park run today

Yesterday's workout (elliptical): 25 minutes
Today's run: Central Park (planned)

For some reason four day work weeks can feel longer than five day work weeks. That certainly wasn't the case this week as I still can't believe it's already Friday. I've had so much to do lately that I wasn't even able to post on Thursday. Not that I have much to report. Yesterday's workout was very low key, about 25 minutes on the elliptical. The high humidity that morning produced a sweat that made it seem like I was working hard but I wasn't really pushing it. Today, if I'm satisfied with my progress with my current project I'll head out for a mid-day run.

I've been thinking about some of the more adventurous runs AG and I did last summer; over bridges and exploring places that were new to me. If I had more time today I would consider doing one of those runs. Given my schedule, if I do get out it will likely be the park. With the sun and temperatures in the high 80's it will be difficult to cover a lot of distance. I may run the bridle path because there are many spots with good tree coverage along that route. If city running doesn't work today I will probably take off early and do a run closer to home followed by a swim in the pool. I'm going to have a short weekend because I have to leave for a trip on Sunday afternoon. I still hope to get a couple of decent runs in both days.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Three cheers

Today's run (street): 2.5 miles at 9:38 per mile

It has been an interesting week already. Two of my colleagues have left my office floor, one permanently and the other for a few months. My friend Sedentary Man is moving to another division located three floors down from mine. Happily our paths should continue to cross and while I'll miss my neighbor I benefit by having a great new neighbor (and dedicated cyclist/runner), FS, who will be taking over Sedentary Man's department. Also leaving this week is Adventure Girl who is doing graduate school research in the northwest this summer. I'll miss SM and AG but I'm excited for their new opportunities and experiences. The other big news is that last night Mrs. Emerging Runner was honored to receive a national PTA award as a life member of the New York State Congress of Parents and Teachers. This was a big surprise and our kids were very excited to go up with her as she received the award. Even after that late night she was back on the treadmill this morning at 6:00 AM!

Speaking of early mornings, I somehow made my way outside at 4:00 AM for my daily run. I was also tired from the long day and evening's activities but I used my sleep-like state to ease me through the workout. Halfway through my 2.5 mile run I started putting a little more speed into my stride but my overall pace was, well, sleepy. I'm not sure whether I'll run or elliptical tomorrow, I'll see how I feel in the morning. I'm hoping to do a noontime run in the city with my friend Steve on Friday to end the week. Next week I'm traveling again which presents another chance to run in a different city. My schedule will be very tight on that trip so a run is unlikely but you never know.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Summer running

After four days of sunny weather it really feels like summer has arrived. I'm no fan of the heat but I'm not dreading it as much as I did last year. It was the hot weather that pushed me to do more trail running last summer and I've enjoyed that experience many times since. Now that the state parks on Long Island have been fully funded I'm looking forward to revisiting some, like Caleb Smith State Park along with others that were due to close. My company is once again offering "Summer Fridays" that allow staff to finish the work week around 1:00 PM. I usually work the mornings, go out for a NYC run at lunchtime and then head home. I did some great Friday runs last summer with Adventure Girl in Central Park, on the west side bike paths, over the Brooklyn and GW Bridges and along the Old Croton Aqueduct trail. Just thinking about the possibilities gets me excited and I hope to recruit some running friends to join me this year. I used to dread summer because of the heat, but running on the trails and in the city has turned that into a real positive.

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