Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Appreciating the obvious

Today's run (street): 2.5

In a recent Runner's World's "Daily Kick in the Butt", there was a quote that went, "Relish the bad training runs. Without them it's difficult to recognize, much less appreciate, the good ones." I thought about that quote on my run this morning as I made my way along my usual route. The run felt great and I could tell that I was pacing well. It was indeed a "good one."

The trick is to have more good runs than bad ones. I can usually tell within the first 10 yards of a run whether I'm in for a good or bad experience. Sometimes I'm fooled and a good run will turn bad. I've had times when I felt I could run all day but, after a few miles, I was questioning whether I'd make it back home without stopping.

On the other hand, there are times when you get a "second wind" that completely changes how you feel and what you think you can do. I recall a treadmill run a few months ago, when I was self-bargaining to keep going until I hit the 35 minute mark. I had nothing left until - suddenly - I felt boundless energy. I ended up running for over an hour that day. I only stopped because I'd run out of time.

Why are some runs better than others? Sometimes it's circumstantial. You're tired, feeling ill, had too big a lunch, or hadn't properly trained for the workout. Other times the cause is not so clear. While we always look for a reason when a run goes bad, we often just appreciate the ones that go really well.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Nature or nurture? Outgrowing my running shoes

A growing problem
A couple of weeks ago I gave away three pairs of running shoes to someone with same shoe size. My collection of running shoes had reached a point where I needed to store them in four different locations. When I made the exchange I had a total of 13 pairs. Now it's down to 10. I should probably get rid of most of the rest because, remarkably, the majority of them no longer fit me.

When I finished growing (at around 19 years old) I naively assumed that I'd never need to buy clothing again. Over the years I've had to replace worn clothes and buy more occupationally appropriate attire, but I'd always assumed that I would fit into the same shoes forever. Four years ago I started running again and bought a pair of Nike shoes. They fit me well and I liked them.

A lot has changed since that purchase in 2008. I no longer care for Nike's and I doubt I could even fit my foot into those shoes. It's strange, but since I started running, my shoe size has increased a full size and a half. I started at 9.5, moved up to 10's about a year later and, by early 2010, I needed 10.5's. Now most 10.5's are too tight in the toe for me to use, except on shorter runs.

The Spira's and the Kinvara 3's are both 11's and they fit me well. I was still thinking I was a 10.5 when  Brooks picked me to test a pair of prototype shoes a few months back. I really like the shoes but the fit is annoyingly snug on the outside toes. Had I asked for 11's, I'd probably be rotating these shoes with the Kinvaras on almost every run. Happily, the Saucony's provide me with a quality running experience and I appreciate them more every day.

Outgrowing shoes gives me an opportunity to buy new ones (and as my wife would point out, a reason to get rid of old ones). I'm wondering why this has happened. Is running flattening or spreading the volume of my feet? More importantly, when does it stop!?

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Good running follows a tough trail workout

Today's run (street): 3.9 miles

I was surprised to wake up today feeling ready for a run. After yesterday's tough trail run, I expected to feel sore and exhausted this morning. Perhaps it helped that I knew the hardest running of the weekend was already behind me. Either way, I was out of the house before 7:00 AM for a run around the neighborhood.

Lower humidity made a big difference compared to Saturday. The first couple of miles went by quickly and, without yesterday's hills, the run felt easy. I started feeling like I could run forever at that pace, but a glance at my Garmin told me I needed to step it up. I picked up my speed and that's when I started to feel the effort. By the time I finished I felt like I'd done a pretty hard run.

This has not been a typical running week for me. Due to Wednesday night's 5K, I'd rested on Tuesday and Thursday, putting me 5 miles behind where I'd normally be on a Friday. Since then I've covered almost 13 miles, totaling about 17 for the week. With both Dirty Sock and Cow Harbor happening soon, I'll need to work on my base and get my weekly mileage back up to competitive levels.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Trail running at Hook Mountain State Park

Hook Mt. trail head. Humidity fogged the lens!

Today's run (Hook Mountain State Park trail): 6.1 miles

The weather report called for thunderstorms today, but we kept our plans to meet friends for activities around Hook Mountain State Park. Happily, the storms didn't materialize, but the humidity certainly did.

We arrived at our friends home in Nyack around 9:00 AM and then headed over to the park. My wife and kids charted a hike on the blue-green trail while me and my friend Chris drove over to the trail at Nyack Beach. This trail runs along the Hudson River and provides a rolling route. According to my Garmin, we experienced 509 feet of elevation gain (and the equivalent loss since we ran it out and back).

The highs and lows of the Hook Mountain trail

We started our run at a brisk pace. The breezes off the water prevented us from feeling the humidity and it wasn't until the path moved inland that I noticed how muggy it was. We moved well considering the heat and moisture, but the constantly changing elevation sapped some of my energy. After a couple of  hills that rivaled James Street in Northport, my sweat level moved to "extreme."

Despite all that, I didn't want the run to end. The scenery was beautiful and the conversation was great. I didn't dread the frequent hills as much as I do at Bethpage. In fact, I had more problem on the steep downhills than on all but the toughest climbs. We made the turnaround after reaching the three mile point, despite Chris's suggestion that we go another half mile.

The second half of the run went by quickly. Before long, we were back to where we'd started. I had the same light-headed reaction to the heat and dehydration that I usually have after the Dirty Sock 10K. That meant I needed lots of hydration and electrolytes and Chris gave me a banana and a water bottle. That helped, as did the cooling breezes coming off the river.

After a quick shower, back at the house, we went into town to meet our wives and the kids for lunch. Pizza, followed by home made ice cream, was the perfect restorative. After 6 tough miles on the trail, I had no guilt whatsoever!

Friday, July 27, 2012

Are you getting your runner's daily requirement?

Today's run (treadmill): 25 minutes

One thing I learned from Wednesday's race is that I'm not working hard enough during my regular training runs. Over the past four years I've had phases where I've focused on performance and/or distance. That type of running has always paid off during races. Running fast workouts will usually produce decent finish times for 5, 8 and 10K's. The same goes for long base training runs used as preparation for a half marathon.

Some runners that I know enjoy the challenge of running fast. They approach every workout as an opportunity to test their performance. They enjoy the work that it takes and that's why they run.

Me? I like to run fast (or my version of fast), but mostly I like to enjoy the experience of moving along, outside, preferably along a wooded trail. Long slow distance is both a technique and a way to define the way I like to run. LSD is invaluable when doing base training, but it is only part of the runner's daily requirement for race preparation.

If race training was defined like a food label, recommended weekly percentages would probably look something like this:

Speed runs:               15%
Tempo runs:              25%
Hill training:               10%
Base runs:                 25%
Easy/recovery runs:   15%
Cross training/core:   10%

I fall short on everything but easy runs. It's the same thing as eating too many carbs and not enough protein. You just won't perform as well.

This morning I decided that enough was enough so I cranked up the treadmill right away, to a speed that felt similar to my race pace on Wednesday. It wasn't easy, but I was able to sustain it. That was probably because my last two runs were a speed workout and a race. Can I maintain this type of running going forward to the point where I'm getting my recommended doses of speed and hill training? Maybe not all at once, but a little harder training might be doable.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Race report: Corporate 5K

Registration check in. Sign those waivers!
Yesterday's run (Corporate 5K): 3.1 miles - 26:22 (8:30 pace)

I like to keep my running life and my work life separate in this blog, but every once in a while they'll come together. Back in June we had a summer picnic in Central Park and I organized my colleagues for a 1.6 mile fun run. Last night I participated in a 5K race that was put on by my company as part of a corporate wellness program. It was an interesting experience and a lot of fun.

This 5K consisted of employees from four of our corporate divisions that have offices in NYC. The company is holding 5K's in other cities for other divisions based in those locations. A group of us left the office for the 1 train that took us uptown to Riverside Park, where the race was being held. The registration process started out a little bumpy but they did get through the 170 or so runners (and walkers) reasonably fast. We were all asked to sign waiver forms even though we'd already done that online.

Pre-race warm-up
Before the race, the organizers had participants run through some dynamic stretching exercises. Soon after that, we assembled behind the starting line for the race. There were a few speakers who talked about the event, the importance of fitness and how our company is contributing to charitable causes that support this initiative. This went on so long that my Garmin turned off its GPS and I had to scramble to reacquire a signal before the start.

Our course was interesting. We started at 108th street and headed north about eight blocks before turning south. This turnaround put us on a secondary path that was, at different times, packed dirt and broken pavement, with lots of twigs and branches from the trees. I gingerly avoided those branches since I was wearing my very minimal Hattori's. There were a number of rises throughout the course and some were fairly challenging.

Our route took us by the river where we did a couple of out and back loops before heading north again toward the finish. This was my first evening race and I expected to struggle but I didn't feel much different than I normally do. The out and backs provided an opportunity to see my position in the race because I would pass the the leaders going the other way. At other times, I could see those who were behind me.

The race ended with a straight section of recently paved blacktop and I ran hard to the finish line. A number of us questioned the length of the course because our GPS watches showed it to be less than 3.1 miles. I looked at my run in Garmin Connect and saw that the signal had drifted in a number of spots. That usually accounts for distance loss since the GPS often "cuts corners" due to sampling frequency.

After crossing the line, we spent a few minutes recovering. After that we claimed our bags and headed back to the subway to get us to our trains and buses. Others stayed for drinks and hors d'oeuvres but most of just wanted to get home. I have to say that all my colleagues did well. KWL finished in the top 10% and FS also finished high. Everyone else came in around mid-pack, as I did. With the majority of runners in the 20-29 age category, I think we did just fine.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Dirty Sock and Great Cow Harbor are coming...

It's not yet the end of July and I'm already thinking about the two late-summer races that I look forward to each year: the Dirty Sock and the Great Cow Harbor runs. Both races are 10K's but that's where their similarities begin and end.

Dirty Sock is a trail race that begins at a small park close to Southard's Pond. The course takes runners north around Belmont Lake and then back down again. If it's raining, your socks will get dirty, and it has rained two out of three times I've run it. The race is held on the third weekend in August and conditions are usually hot and humid. I like this race a lot, but the last 1.2 miles always seem as long as the first 5.

This morning I got an email from the Cow Harbor race organizers saying that the 2012 event is 8 weeks away. The message was all caps and it carried some amusing urgency, especially this line that I pasted from the email: DON'T WAIT UNTIL THE LAST MINUTE.  THERE MAY BE NO ROOM FOR YOU! This race is run through and around the town of Northport, NY, and attracts over 5,000 people. The course isn't as tough as Dirty Sock, except for the James Street Hill that looms like a mountain at mile 2.

I'm hoping we'll catch another break in the weather (as we did last year) when conditions on both race days were considerably cooler and drier than the prior year. Speaking of weather, the forecasts are still calling for tomorrow to be the best day of the week. I'm hoping for low humidity when we line up at 6:00. THAT WOULD BE GREAT!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Will a late day start ruin my race?

I woke up with some calf soreness and I figured it related to yesterday's running in the Hattori's. Although I've been running in low shoes like the Kinvara 3's and my Brooks test shoes, neither pair offer a zero drop experience like the Hattori's. The difference is only 4 mm, but that could be enough to aggravate my calves. After thinking about it more, I've concluded that the soreness actually came from running at speeds I haven't attempted for well over a month.

I'm curious to see how I will do during Wednesday afternoon's race. I can't think of a time when I've run late in the day and thought I'd performed particularly well. I've done all that I can to maximize my readiness, including Saturday's 6 miles and yesterday's intervals. Two days of recovery from my weekend running will get me to Wednesday. Since the race is at 6:00 PM, I'll get another half day's rest. Perhaps that additional recovery time will counter-balance the performance hit that I expect to take from that late day start.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Wackos and backward walkers at the track

Round and round (and round) we go
Today's run (track): 1 mile warm up, 8 x 220 M, 2 mile run = 4.15 miles

I finished my training for this week's 5K with some speed work on the local high school track. I'm always ambivalent about track running because I find the experience excruciatingly boring. At the same time, with its precise measurement and flat surface, the track is a great place to run intervals. Plus, there's always an interesting cast of characters to help distract me from the tedium.

The temperature was in the 70's and the humidity was moderate when I started my workout, with a warm up mile that I completed in 8:19. I wore my Hattori's that I've kept in the closet over the last few months while I ran with the Spira's, Kinvara 3's and my Brooks test shoes. The Hattori's felt fantastic and I'm tempted to go back to them as my regular trainers.

My track-mates included a guy who had about a decade on me, running shirtless. He was covered in sweat and moving at an impressive pace. I wondered how long he could keep that up. Pretty long, it turned out. I suspect he'd been at it for a while when I arrived, and he continued for the first 20 minutes of my workout.

Also on the track was an older Asian woman whom I'd seen before. She circles the track walking backwards. I'm not sure why, but that's her thing. There was a stocky guy with long hair and a beard walking the whole time I was there. I noticed that he'd switched to a trot around the time I was leaving. I also saw two or three other fitness walkers, some fast and some slow, whose orbits coincided with my laps at various points on the track.

One of the walkers was a guy in his 40's who I first noticed when he ran the steps in the grandstand. I expected to see him run when he got to the track, but he walked. He did a couple of sprints and, oddly, it was only when our paths crossed (I'd reversed direction on the track). Was he trying to prove he could run as well? He looked angry the whole time he was there and I noticed that he sped out of the parking lot in his big BMW, with gravel flying, after he'd finished his workout. What a wacko.

I felt good running the 220 splits and averaged 7:01 for that mile. I know I could have done better than that, but my goal was to generate some speed without injuring myself. It had been a while since I did any speed work. I did the last two miles closer to a 9:00 minute pace and I was satisfied with what will be my last training run before Wednesday.

While I'm ambivalent about the track, I can almost guarantee my runner's high after a workout like that. I count on that to help me through the less-than-stimulating experience of running in circles.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Business park taper buster

Today's run (street): 5.8 miles

The Saturday before a race usually means that I have 7 or 8 days (depending on if it's a Saturday or Sunday race) to finish my training. This week is different, because my upcoming race happens on Wednesday night, five days from now. I'd normally be finished with performance training this close to race day. 

The race is only 5K but it would be a mistake to dismiss that as an easy distance. I'm concerned that, after a full day in the office, at 6:00 PM my energy will probably be low. Although it's not hot today, there's every reason to think that we'll see high temperatures by Wednesday. I can't do anything about that but worry. And I surely will worry.

Since I'm pushing my training into my taper period, I decided to go for some extra miles today. My target at the start was five miles, and I ended up almost covering six. I headed to the nearby business park to run the loop a few times and carried 4:1 mix of Roctane and water which I consumed around the 40 minute mark. It helped me get through the last 15 minutes of running.

I was pleased with my performance today and the route provided some elevation changes that will prepare me for the race's rolling course. I listened to the 3 Non-Joggers podcast to pass the time and it helped alleviate some of the boredom that comes from running around an industrial park. Tomorrow I may do some speed work to wrap up my performance training. The thought of circling the track isn't too appealing, but as Juma Ikaanga said, “The will to win means nothing without the will to prepare.”

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Running doldrums

Wednesday's run (street): 2.5 miles
Today's run (treadmill): 25 minutes

It's been a a tough week. I've done a couple of runs since Monday, but I haven't had time to post. I've had a lot of distractions lately, both in and out of the office. My motivation to run is definitely at a low point. The good news is that a lack of motivation has not affected my running schedule and I'm on track for a normal mileage week. I'm just not feeling it these days. I'll blame the hot weather and the numerous non-running related items that are taking up my time and attention.

Next Wednesday is our corporate 5K. It will be a new experience to race in the city. It will be fun to return to Riverside Park, where I occasionally ran when I first moved to NYC in the early '90's. The race starts at 6:00 PM. As an early morning runner, I expect to have some trouble hitting my stride so late in the day. But, perhaps, the excitement of this race will help get me out of my running doldrums. That would be great.

Monday, July 16, 2012

A recovery run on a recovery day

Today's run (street): 3.3 miles

I took today off to recover from the hectic weekend, but I spent most of the day working from home. That was partly by design and I was able to make progress on a few items that need to be completed before the end of the week. I was still able to spend some time with my family and get in a morning run that wasn't constrained by my usual morning schedule.

Yesterday's run was difficult due to the hot weather and the timing of my workout. Today's conditions were much more positive. Although it was hot at 8:00 AM, neither the heat not the humidity had reached unbearable levels. It was early and I was not weighed down by a big meal so I moved along much better. I wasn't sure where I was on pace and I chose to ignore my Garmin so I wouldn't feel compelled to push harder.

My route followed the perimeter of my neighborhood and I ran on the sidewalks along Jericho Turnpike and South Oyster Bay Road before turning east onto the service road. The sidewalks along these roads have broken sections, so I frequently needed to watch my step. On the positive side, I had more tree cover than when I continued through the main neighborhood.

I covered about the same distance as yesterday, but I beat Sunday's time by almost three minutes. It wasn't the easiest run, but I finished feeling strong. I need to get back to longer distances next weekend and my schedule should help me do that. In the meantime, I'm off to a decent mileage week with 3+ miles on my usual rest day.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Overdone for my run

Today's run (street): 3.3 miles

It's been quite a weekend and we bade farewell to our last guests around midday. I'd had no opportunity to run since Friday morning, so my calorie intake had far exceeded my burn rate. I was determined to get in a few miles today and finally made it out the door around 2:00 PM. With the high heat and humidity, I thought it might be tough to get moving. I had no idea how difficult it would be.

It's so easy to slip back into bad food habits during celebrations and I plead guilty to that. Prior to my run, I'd eaten a big lunch and two hours was clearly not enough time for proper digestion. I struggled as I made my way up the street. I felt like I was carrying ten pounds of extra weight.

I almost cut my run short after the first mile but decided to tough it out. I hoped I'd gain some strength as the run went on and to a degree, that happened. By the time I reached the second mile I knew I'd be able to complete my targeted 3 miles. But I still felt like I was carrying a lead-filled backpack. By the time I finished, I was fairly exhausted. I jumped into the pool after first checking my pockets.

It's now back to my healthy diet and proper portion control. I'm not sure it was a good idea to run on a day when the weather was so hot and my readiness was so low. I need to get back on track with my training, stating tomorrow. I'm out of the office Monday and I'm hoping to get in an out of cycle run. I just hope today's performance won't carry over to tomorrow.

Friday, July 13, 2012

This technique may have made me faster

Does back leg lift = faster running?
Today's run (street): 4.25 miles

I'm out of the office today and Monday and the weekend will be busy. We'll have a house full of people starting this afternoon and that will continue through Sunday. The major activity is on Saturday and the day will start early, so I'm probably going to need to skip tomorrow's run. I tried to make up for that by running a little extra distance today.

Conditions were pleasant when I left on my run around 7:00 AM. I tried to maintain a decent speed and thought about how my default pace has slowed over the last few years. I'd say, overall, that my speed has remained consistent. The difference is that my median pace seems to have slowed by about ten seconds since 2009. It could be that when I used the FR50 and 60 with a foot pod, my times were recorded more accurately (and faster) than with the FR210.

About halfway through today's run, I looked at my shadow and noticed I was running with a low degree of back leg lift. I've noticed that better runner's legs come up fairly high after toe-off and I suspect that helps their speed by reducing the amount of time their feet touch the ground. Inspired, I worked on bringing up my leg as I ran. I'm not sure if it made me run faster, but I did feel it in my hamstrings.

I'll look at my pacing across the timeline after I upload my data to Garmin Connect to see if my speed improved after making that change. I did finish with a decent overall pace, so perhaps it made a difference. It would be great if a small change like that could have made a measurable effect on my pace. It almost seems too easy. Then again, it did illustrate my need to do more core work.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Chillin' with my biggest fan

May the force be with you
Today's run (treadmill): 25 minutes

I decided to run on the treadmill this morning because I knew it would be humid and I wasn't too keen on gearing up for an outside run. In the past, a day like today would have been the reason to run outdoors. Things changed when we bought a stand up fan at Target and put it in front of the treadmill.

The treadmill itself has been a problem, with an ongoing issue with tread belt slippage. Although that's annoying, the machine comes in handy on days like today. I put the new fan on its highest setting, turned on the treadmill's small fans and started my run. Due to the slipping/jerking of the tread, I generally keep my speed at 6.5 MPH and below. I ran fairly slow today and set the grade to 2%, since elevation seems to minimize the slipping.

Although it was hot, I didn't really start to sweat until I'd covered a mile. In fact, the force of the air coming off the fan was almost too strong and I'd wished I'd chosen the middle speed. Fans are cheap and they can do so much to improve the indoor experience on hot days like today.

The treadmill repair guy is supposed to come next week and (hopefully) we'll get the tread issue resolved. In the meantime, we've been waiting months for parts for our elliptical. If you are thinking about getting a treadmill or an elliptical machine I would avoid buying anything made by Sole or BH Fitness.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

My first July race (corporate approved)

A corporate 5K - what's not to love?

Today's run (street): 2.5 miles

Today was one of those automatic pilot runs where I got up, got changed and headed outside without thinking about the effort ahead. Unlike yesterday, I let my natural rhythm determine my pace and I paid the price with a run that took over a minute longer than Tuesday's (along the same route). I gave myself a break after yesterday's hard run and was glad at the end.

It's all well and good to run easy, but suddenly I have a new race on the calendar and I have to train for speed. My parent company is holding a 5K in the city on July 25th and I've signed up. This would be my first ever July race. Most importantly, it's an opportunity to run with my colleagues. Many of my work friends have signed up to do it and I'm looking forward to the event. It's has an evening start time (6:00 PM) and I'm a morning runner, but I'm hoping to make the best of it.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

My $4 running phone decision

Tonight's dish: wet phone over rice
Today's run (street): 2.5 miles

After my pool screw up on Sunday, I got a tweet from a colleague, who suggested that I place my nearly drowned cellphone in rice. My daughter said that her teacher had done that and successfully restored her smartphone after an accidental bath. I figured, what the heck, I'll try it. I placed the phone in a small container and covered it with brown rice.

Last night I removed the phone from its rice bed and replaced the battery, but it didn't power up. That wasn't a big surprise. I expected that the lithium ion battery would have fully discharged after being held under water for a time. I plugged the phone into its charger and the Verizon screen came right up. I thought I might have lucked out, but immediately after the welcoming message, the screen said, "Use genuine battery. Power Off."

To be fair, the battery is genuine
Now I must decide whether to invest in a new battery in hopes of bringing this phone back to life. It looks like I can buy one for about $4 online (plus tax and shipping) but I'm not sure it's even worth doing that. There are still some drops of water trapped under the lens of the TFT that may interfere with the display. Also, the battery cover no longer stays in place and would need to be secured using a rubber band or something similar.

I'll make my way to the Verizon store at some point to get a new "running" phone. I ran without a phone this morning but felt okay about that, since I didn't stray too far from my home. Ironically, I looked to take off my SPIbelt when I got back, but realized I hadn't needed to wear it. I wish I'd remembered it as well last Sunday.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Involuntary phone slaughter

How not to clean your phone
Today's run (street): 5.25 miles

I thought my story for today's run would be how I covered 5.25 miles at a pace that handily beat my expectations. But it turned out that the real surprise was discovering I was still wearing my SPIbelt when I jumped into the pool following that run. I had carefully removed my Garmin and Road ID before hitting the water, but I'd forgotten about the SPIbelt and the contents within.

SPIbelt - definitely not waterproof
The great thing about the SPIbelt is that you literally forget that you have it on. I've discovered a number of times that I was still wearing it, even after returning my other running gear to storage. While in the pool, I'd re-checked the pockets of my running pants, thinking I might have forgotten to remove something. It occurred to me (too late) that I was still wearing my SPIbelt that contained my LG VX8300 "running" phone.

I noticed that my phone was vibrating in the SPIbelt pouch when I brought it to the surface. I'm not sure why it was vibrating, but I knew it wasn't good. I tossed the belt and phone on the deck and finished my swim.

I've kept that phone for almost eight years, using it primarily as a backup to my smartphone. It's been great to carry on runs because it's compact and light. I hope Verizon offers a similar model because I don't think this phone is coming back.

Hours after I pulled it out of the water, the phone is still not working. I'll give it a day to dry out and I'll try it again to see if it comes back to life. In the meantime, I'm happy that I was able to get out for a decent run on such a hot and humid morning. It may have cost me my phone, but perhaps it's time for a change. I did learn an important lesson that I won't soon forget: Look before you leap!

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Bugs, sun, hiking and running

Mislead by the map, much more to the east
Yesterday's activity (Stillwell Woods hike): 2.2 miles
Today's run (street): 4.4 miles

Surprise! It's hot in July
Despite the popular idiom, it really is the heat (but the humidity doesn't help). People talk about the heat like it's some sort of unusual phenomenon, but every July it's just like this. Today's temperature should get close to 100° F, so I got outside relatively early. Even at 7:50 AM, the thermometer was edging towards 80°.

Yesterday was equally hot, so after a morning of working from home, my son and I headed over to Stillwell Woods for a hike. A midday hike on a hot summer's day may sound like torture, but we knew that the tree canopy would keep the sun off our heads. For the most part, that was true, but we didn't count on the clouds of bugs that we encountered as we moved deeper into woods.

Despite the heat, gnats and occasional hard climbs, we had a great time looking for the elusive Ewok Forest section on Stillwell. I used Endomondo to record our hike and I referred to its real-time map a few times to help locate our position. The simple graphics on the map led me to believe that we were further east into the woods than we really were, so we never reached our intended destination.

My son did a great job tracking our direction and, when were ready to go, his compass skills led us straight back to our stating point. We headed home and cooled off in the pool with my wife and daughter. Our serenity was interrupted when a town worker in a lift truck surprised us by swinging over the tree line to trim around some adjacent telephone lines. Surprise!

I took it very easy on this morning's run. I briefly considered turning off the GPS so that I wouldn't track my pace. I tend to be self-competitive when I know I'm being recorded and I didn't want to move too fast in increasingly warm conditions. I ended up recording it, but I didn't look at my time until the end.

I needed to keep reminding myself that pace didn't matter, and that this workout was just about maintenance miles on an extremely hot and humid morning. The run never felt hard but I was glad to end it. I'm pleased that I put in a few miles today and I'll look forward to some easier activities in the pool this afternoon. Before too long, the T-storms will be here to finally cool things off.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

The holiday is over but the humidity remains

Today's run (street): 2.5 miles

The city is so quiet today it's almost like working on Saturday. Yesterday's holiday was short, but sweet. We had a nice 4th of July lunch and spent an active day outside, including a lot of pool time. I think all that fun, plus my surprisingly difficult treadmill run in the morning, has made me tired today. I'm not sure how I did it, but managed to get out for my run this morning.

The humidity at 4:00 AM was already insufferable and the breezes that pushed air from the south were not cooling. My legs felt heavy and I suspect that was due to lactic acid buildup from yesterday. I was able to maintain a steady stride but I knew I wasn't moving very quickly. I remember reading that high humidity will erode your pace measurably. I took comfort in that when I saw that my elapsed time was a full minute longer than usual.

I'm hoping this weekend's weather will be more conducive to running. The heat is fine but this humidity has got to stop. Of course it's great training weather for the Dirty Sock 10K that always seems to happen on a weekend when the dew point approaches 80. But it's a long time until that race. If conditions are hot and sunny on Saturday, I may head to the trails where the tree canopy provides some relief from the sun and the heat.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Sole treadmill slippage, once again

Today's run (treadmill): 40 minutes

Happy 4th of July. I keep forgetting that today is Wednesday because it feels so much like a Saturday. I'll feel differently tomorrow when I'm standing on the the train platform at 6:15 AM. But this morning I had the pleasure of sleeping in until that time.

The weather is alternating between sun and rain this morning. I'd hoped the skies would clear long enough for me to get outside for a run, but the rain was coming down too hard. Instead, I positioned the stand up fan that's in front of the treadmill and started my indoor run. I forgot to bring my iPad home from the office last night, so I didn't have the Virtually Active app to distract me. I had to make due with the scene out the window.

Our Sole F63 treadmill has been a disappointment in the two years since we bought it. We've replaced a lot of the components under warranty, but the labor costs have made this unit far less than a bargain. We are, once again, experiencing tread belt slippage and this is both disconcerting and borderline dangerous. Our low end Pro-Form treadmill gave us over a decade of trouble-free service. It's too bad that this highly rated Sole continues to experience chronic problems.

The slipping belt seemed to settle down after a few minutes of running, but it returned for short periods when I upped my speed. I ran about 40 minutes and was happy to come to the end. The AC and fan both helped against the high humidity, but it was still a soaking run. I'm glad to have completed a decent workout early enough to enjoy the rest of the holiday. The sun has returned, so today's outdoor activities will probably include a little time in the pool.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Malaise or maturity?

Today's run (street): 2.5 miles

I am definitely in a malaise when it comes to running, but that's okay. Since I started running on a regular basis, almost four years ago, I've worried about losing my core motivation. Every year I check in with myself in terms of interest and, so far, I've had no issues. My biggest concern has been that I'd tire of the activity and, ultimately, stop.

Lately I've become less energized by news of groundbreaking shoe technologies and I'm not scanning the web in search of interesting races that I could run this year. My gear site, Runner's Tech Review, has lain fallow, even though I've tested product in the last few months.

All this is true but, like I said, it's okay. That's because I still want to run. I expect to run and plan to run. I woke up this morning knowing I'd have a light schedule and an early departure that invited me to put off my workout. Despite that, I dragged myself outside at 3:55 AM to run my daily route. I paid attention to my stride, cadence and level of effort. I speculated on my overall pace and was slightly disappointed when I saw how long it took me to finish the run. But I was also pleased that I cared.

Tomorrow is the 4th of July and I get to spend the day with my family and enjoy a rare day off in the middle of the week. It's hot out, so I plan to get out early for my run. I won't think about it much until I'm out there but, once on the road, I'll be committed.

A friend of mine, who has run for decades, once told me, "Some day, you'll care much less about the gear and much more about the run." Runner's maturity? Maybe. However, that same friend recently got a Garmin 610 and won't stop talking about it.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Getting it done despite the heat

Today's run (street): 3.7 miles

A combination of hot weather and feeling a little ill delayed the start of today's run. We had friends over on Saturday and I got to bed pretty late. I woke up tired, with a dry throat and a queasy stomach and wondered if I was in shape to run. I had discussed my morning running plans with one of our friends last night (also a runner) and we both said we'd be going out early to beat the heat. I'm guessing that he actually did that.

I watched the temperature rise throughout the early morning and debated whether to skip my workout as I was already feeling marginal. I decided that an easy run would be better than nothing, so I got my act together and set out at 9:00 AM. Considering the way I felt and the extremely hot conditions, I did remarkably well through my first mile. I hoped to maintain that pace for the rest of my run.

I basically followed my weekday morning route and added a few additional sections. My original plan was to cover 3 miles, but I was .7 miles from home when I passed that distance. I continued my steady pace and made it home both tired and soggy, pleased that I went for it, instead of skipping my run.

Yesterday's distance got me to 80 miles for June, making that the forth consecutive month running 80 or more miles. My running average, prior to March, was only about 70 miles. I wasn't the only one running in the heat this weekend. FS was planning to do the Take Your Base 5 mile race in Coney Island and KWL did a remarkable job on his first triathlon, the NYRR Sprint. Both races were on Saturday. I'm looking forward to getting the scoop on both tomorrow!

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