Monday, September 9, 2019

Runsketeer reunion at the Massapequa Preserve

Usual suspects: Mike, TPP, ER, SIOR, KWL
Photo courtesy of woman SIOR asked to take the picture
For the first time in 21 months, the "gang of five" core Runsketeers came together on Sunday to run the Massapequa Preserve trail. It had been a while since we'd gathered for a track workout followed by post-run coffee and snacks at SIORs house. In between then, various Runsketeers had gotten together for runs, rigorous hill workouts (I missed the Selden adventure due to my hill allergy) or the year-starting Hangover Run (that one I did).

The plan was to meet in the lot adjacent to the trail head. We all arrived on time and it felt great to see the 'sketeers: TPP, SIOR, Professor Mike and KWL, together again. The weather was cool and dry and other groups were also gathering for their Sunday runs. We voiced our planned distances that ranged from three to six miles, and made our way out of the lot and onto the path. We normally go left, but Mike suggested that we take the unpaved trail  on the right that follows the side of the lower pond. It was a bit rooty and I worried that I might trip, but it turned out to be fine.

KWL graciously stayed by my side and ran at my pace. Soon we connected with the paved trail where SIOR, TPP and Mike were waiting. They were quickly on their way and out of sight. We saw them next at the Clark Avenue crossing, but not again until we all met up in the lot. KWL and I moved along, covering many different subjects: work, guitars, 3-D printing, glass blowing and driving in the Japanese countryside. When we reached Mansfield Park, I suggested that we turn around in a quarter mile at the Linden Street crossing.

We headed back and added another two miles to what turned out to be a 4.5 mile run. I kept waiting for our speedy run-mates to overtake us along the way, but we arrived first at the trail head. Mike had followed the dirt section at the end and we saw him shortly after we'd stopped. He was coming from the west and may have actually beaten us back. I think he did 6+ miles, SIOR did 6 and TPP did 6.06. She is amazing because she mostly cycles now, yet she did a six miler last week and impressive distance yesterday. SIOR and Mike are the varsity players (to be fair, so is KWL) who can bring it in fast at any distance.

By law, the Runsketeers headed over to the nearest Starbucks which was located on Sunrise Highway a couple of miles west of the trail. TPP thought we were going to the Massapequa Starbucks but she got back on the road and joined us a few minutes later. KWL brought gifts from his various travels and we settled around a long table with coffees in hand.

We talked about a lot of things: CBD and "pharmaceuticals", books, movies, soccer, academics, kids and parents, and (of course) the sorry state of leadership in DC. As usual, two hours went by like 20 minutes and we all agreed that waiting for months on end to do these runs isn't acceptable. I appreciate the friendship and fun and I selfishly benefit from the higher bar set by my buddies that prompts me to run a little faster and farther than I would have on my own.

Running in fall with cooler temperatures and low humidity is almost as good as it gets. Running with these guys is as good as it gets.

Sunday, September 1, 2019

Shifting back to miles per run

Happy September, my shirt even had a post-run smiley face
Labor Day greetings. I'm glad to report that I logged 80 running miles in August. It was actually 80.46 but who's counting? And don't get me started with Garmin GPS variance that generally under-counts run distance by 2.4%. So I ran 80.46 but I may have run 83.4. My August goal was 75 miles so any way you slice it, I'm happy. SIOR, who is not delusional even though she considers her upcoming trek to Everest base camp an easy hike, thinks I should go for 100 miles in September. I think I'm going to repeat the 75 mile goal for September and see what happens.

Now that I'm averaging 18+ miles a week, I'm ready to shift focus to running distances. My 80 miles in August and 71 in July were built around a lot of runs. With very few exceptions, I've run six days a week since mid June. I ran 27 days last month to get to 80 miles and I'm wondering if it would be more beneficial to aim for 75 miles a month, running 5 days a week. That would give me the flexibility to add another rest day to recover from long runs that aren't happening right now.

Back when I was commuting by train, I would usually run 2.5 miles at 4 AM from Tuesday through Friday and do 8-10 miles over the weekend. When I switched to commuting by car, my run schedule got disrupted and my weekly mileage and run frequency plummeted. Now that I'm commute-free, I have more options.

One thought is to do three days running with one day resting. It works out to six runs a week, but I'd never be more than three days from a rest day. My current schedule has me running five days straight for every rest day.  I could also go back to short runs (less than 3 miles) 66% of the time and longer runs (4 or more miles) 33% of the time. I could do that running either 5 or 6 times a week.

Since September has already begun and I've already logged 3.4 miles today, I think I'll aim for at least one run a week over 3.5 miles and edge up that target as I go. It's been a long time since I'd consider it no big deal to run six or seven miles on a weekend day. Right now, I just want to get back to doing four.or more.

Sunday, August 25, 2019

The Emerging Runner origin story

Perfect weather for running in circles today
I returned to running just about eleven years ago, mostly out of impatience. I didn't make any great decision to run. I just started doing it during the walks I'd began taking to lose weight and reduce cholesterol. After a month or so, I grew restless walking and began to fold in short runs along my route. What started off as a sprint to the next corner quickly turned into quarter mile runs. One day I just stopped walking entirely.

Prior to 2009, I had a few brief episodes of running, but I never made it stick. When I lived in Manhattan in the early '90s, I had a friend who encouraged me to run with her. I agreed and even went to Paragon in Union Square and bought a pair of yellow and blue Nike Cortez shoes. I'd dutifully rise, put on my running gear and go out for a few miles along Third Avenue, dodging people and stopping every block or so for lights.

I would occasionally trek up to Riverside Park to meet my running friend where I could run free of traffic, strollers and other obstructions. I put little thought into the way I ran and mostly went out full tilt every time. Part of that was due to my friend being faster than me and my fragile ego not allowing me to be left behind. I no longer have that issue, just ask any of the Runsketeers!

I continued to try and even entered my first race, the Manufacturer Hanover Corporate Challenge, in 1991. I have no memory of how I did, but ironically, it was probably the fastest 3.5 miles I ever ran. I have no records of my performance from those times and it was long before data tracking via GPS or foot pods, but I was 28 years younger. So probably.

Running hard without any conditioning plan or progress strategy led to a lack of motivation. I was tired of coming back from every run feeling terrible. When my running friend went on a two week business trip to LA, I had no daily accountability and started sleeping in. And that was that.

So in late summer 2008, as I walked up Underhill Avenue, I decided to run the 100 yards or so to Cheshire and that's how it started. Or restarted. As time went on, these runs grew longer and more frequent. I thought about the circumstances that undermined my running in the '90s and committed to a different tactic:
  • Run only at a pace that provides an enjoyable experience. 
  • Have a route plan.
  • Keep to sustainable distances.
I knew that if I struggled every time I ran I'd grow tired of the whole thing. The trick was finding a balance between comfort and effort that I could advance as my conditioning improved. As most runners know, it's possible to make dramatic progress when you are just beginning. Discipline, structure and performance targets reinforce gains. By 2009, the internet provided tools like MapMyRun and the Nike+ system that gave runners a way to capture, record, visualize and analyze their workouts. I was hooked.

When I started Emerging Runner in November of 2008, I wondered if history would repeat itself and I'd find myself shutting it down after a couple of months. Somehow it stuck and, after 2,186 posts and counting, I'm still at it. I've had my ups and downs but I have never lost my love for the run. 

Sometimes I get tired of running my neighborhood (I am reasonably sure I have run down Lenore Street at least 2,500 times) so I'll go out on the Bethpage trail or (like today) take 13 laps around the track of a nearby high school. But I never get tired of putting on my running shoes and heading out the door.

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

When it comes to pace, some things are obvious

Dare to believe
Some things are so obvious that we ignore what's right in front of us. I think I may have figured out something that could get me out of the performance stasis that I have struggled with for a very long time.

I've worked hard over the past 3.5 months to get back to my old running self. Since May, I've been consistently running six days a week. This has resulted in a 4X increase in mileage per month compared to what I was doing prior to May. My runs are peaceful, almost meditative. Compared to where I was, this all seems great. But it's not all great.

 According to Garmin Connect, almost every one of my performance metrics are at their lowest points in over a year. Speed, cadence and stride length are down compared to last summer and way down from where they were when I last competed (2014). I know I'm five years older, but I don't accept this level of decline. Some of it may relate to the medication I take, but I'm now rethinking that theory.

Back to the obvious. Most runners who focus on performance understand the basics. The harder the effort, the higher your heart rate. The higher your heart rate, the faster you go. Higher effort yields more steps per minute. A longer stride gets you there faster. So if your average heart rate on a run is 60% of max, your runs will be peaceful and meditative. But your cadence will be low and your pace will be awful.

I've always been a little suspicious of HR monitors because they occasionally give readings that would trigger a trip to the ER if they were real. It's a known issue across all brands, Garmin, Polar, Suunto, etc. I noticed that my heart rate on most runs was pretty low but I chose to believe the monitor wasn't accurate. If I thought about it more, I would have realized that I had fallen into cruise control running and I had no one but myself to blame for my poor pacing.

I decided to run 10 x 160 meter intervals to see if I could match my performance from years ago. I couldn't hit those numbers, but the times were faster than anything I've recorded since 2015. More importantly, my heart rate, cadence and stride length for those ten repeats were strongly correlated to the fast paces. One might say that was an obvious result, but I still didn't connect it to my daily runs.

It wasn't until I started tracking my all-day heart rate that I concluded that the HR monitor was fairly consistent from day to day. I realized that I should believe the readings I was seeing on my run. And if those readings were barely cracking 60% of max HR, I needed to ramp up my effort.

I look good in blue
So I did. Starting Monday, I focused solely on my HR on my runs with a goal of 70-85% max. The results have not been dramatic, but I'm running almost 2 mins per mile faster than I was a week ago. It's no piece of cake and I can feel the effort, but it's tolerable. Per Garmin Connect, my V0 max has moved from good to excellent for my age.

My challenge going forward will be to continue pushing on every run in hopes of making a higher HR my new normal. I don't think I'll be getting back to 9:00 paces too soon, but at least I know what I need to do to get there.

Sunday, July 14, 2019

SIOR and I hit the Massapequa trail

Well Preserved this morning
Happy Bastille Day! Despite meeting my distance target for June (goal was 65 miles and I actually recorded 66.84, but who's counting?), this is the first post I've written in July. I now have more time to post and I'm running a lot more, but there isn't a lot to write about when every run is pretty much the same. Today I had the pleasure of running again with SIOR who accommodated my mediocre speed and actually had me pacing at a level I haven't seen in a number of months, More on that further below.

Back to the monthly mileage goal for a minute. I measure my runs using Gmaps to get a more accurate distance number than the Garmin records. This is because GPS watches have a technical limitation with the way they track vectors around corners and sometimes on straight roads. You can improve the accuracy by increasing the number of GPS "pings" per minute. It would be an easy fix, but battery life would be terrible. I've figured out that my watch generally under counts distance by about 2% so (technically) I probably ran 68.17 miles in June. But again, who's counting?

Today was not about distance or speed, although I ultimately covered 3.4 miles and paced better than my average. It was about getting in an easy run and having good old conversation. I haven't been able to keep up with the speedy Runsketeers in the past year, but SIOR made it easy for me.

We met at the Massapequa Preserve trail head at 7:30 AM with a plan to do a three mile out and back. After the usual game of Marco Polo (SIOR was in the big lot, I was in the small lot) we found each other. I had a big day Saturday up in Putnam County at Cold Spring and Bear Mountain and wasn't feeling great. I told SIOR that I'd understand if she wanted to run her pace but she was having none of that and we took off together.

This looks like a lot more than 3 miles

SIOR claimed she also wasn't feeling great and we stopped from time to time and walked. That may be true, but I think she may have done that because 12 minute paces hurt her knees. Whatever the reason, today was a throwback to the "early" Runsketeer days when I was better able to hold my own in these group runs. Some pretty funny conversations used to happen back then, with me and SIOR verbally jabbing and counter punching and TPP laughing and encouraging it all.

According to my Garmin, me and SIOR covered 2.6 miles actually running. Since we turned around at the 2 mile mark (SIOR correct me if I'm wrong) I suspect that we ran more than that. After looking at the GPS map that cut out a lot of our route and my step count on my Garmin, I'm sure we covered at least three, if not more. Here's one example of GPS malfeasance:

I don't remember running across the water
No matter the actual distance, we enjoyed it. We saw a big dog chilling in a stream and lots of other runners on the trail. I felt 100% better after my run than before it. Then there was only one thing left to do: coffee at Starbucks! You'd think after all that trail conversation we would have covered every  possible topic. But you don't know us. The thing that always amuses me when the Runsketeers get together is how little we actually talk about running. And that's just fine with me.

I wanted to record at least three miles today so I ran over to the nearby middle school and did 4 x 160 meter repeats and ran back home. That added another .8 miles to today's total and finished off my week with 16.5 miles. According to Garmin Connect, I'm at 36.26 miles for July which they say is 48% of of 70 miles. But my math (backed up by a calculator) says that's actually 51.8%. So what gives Garmin? Either way, I expect to reach 70, even with GPS under counting and Garmin Connect's "math problem."

Sunday, June 23, 2019

I wish my run training worked like the movies

Another day, another 3.64 miles
There's a common trope in film, where the lead character goes all out training for a major challenge. There is usually one scene, played out in a series of quick cuts, showing the overwhelmed hero progressing beyond his or her physical limits. Typically, this is all done to the tune of "Eye of the Tiger." Two minutes later, the protagonist is ripped and ready to make something big happen.

I thought about that on my run this morning. Since I'm the hero of my own personal movie, I've set my sights on returning to performance levels I haven't seen for a few years. I'm not completely delusional. At my age, I know I'm not going to match my best times and that's okay. My issue is that I'm not where I feel I should be for my age range. In competition, I would usually finish between the 25th and 50th percentile (I placed best in 5Ks and worst in halfs). I'm not sure I'd even show up on the bell right now.

So my equivalent of this cinematic convention is the work I'm doing to build up my monthly mileage. In my movie, you would see a series of shots of me taking off on my daily runs, with a calender showing the day of the week superimposed transparently over my disappearing silhouette. In one shot, I'd pull up at the finish, look at my Garmin, and gasp at the evidence of improvement. My legs would bulge with muscle tone and I'd resemble one of those ectomorphs who start races in the front row and finish before most runners reach the halfway mark.

Well, in the 50 days since I rebooted my running approach, I've made some gains, but it's nothing dramatic. I've doubled my monthly distance in that time and my average run is a half a mile longer than it was in April. Despite all this running, my average pace has improved zilch. However, in the same period, my average heart rate during runs has dropped 8 bpm. That's telling me my fitness is improving, but I'm not taking advantage of it. I'm going to try to focus on that tomorrow to see if it's that simple. In the movies, the hero turns their hard work into victory. I'd settle for a mid-pack pace.

Friday, June 21, 2019

The shoes I run in, ran in and revere

All hail the OG Kinvara!
Unless you are a runner who follows in the barefoot steps of Abebe Bikila, chances are that you've put some time into selecting, using and eventually discarding your running shoes. In the ten years since running became an important part of my lifestyle, I've probably owned over 30 pairs of trainers. I still have a lot of them, but quite a few have been donated or trashed due to their condition. I have one pair that I no longer use, but will never give up. Yes, I'm talking to you, original Kinvara.

Now that I no longer spend 2-3 hours a day commuting, I have more time to focus on the details of life. Upping my running from three to six days a week has caused me to pay more attention to my gear. More running means more running clothes and I'm planning to go through my sizable collection of running shirts to see what to keep or donate. Today I took on the easier task of addressing the assemblage of running shoes in my gear cabinet and you can see the results further below.

Over the years I've owned just about every major brand of running shoe: ASICS, Nike, Adidas, New Balance, Saucony, Brooks, along with some less well known brands such as Karhu, Helly Hansen, Spira and Sketchers. Many of these shoes were sent to me by manufacturers when I was maintaining Emerging Runner's sister site, Runner's Tech Review. Some shoes were worn over 1,000 miles, but a couple of pairs were donated after only a few runs.

Right now, I have three categories of running shoes in my house: 1) regular rotation, 2) special conditions and 3) decommissioned. Category three is where I'll be getting rid of some pairs. Going through my shoe collection has caused me to reflect on all my shoes and I thought I'd share those thoughts here.

REGULAR ROTATION

I try to run in a different pair every day because I read that shoes need recovery time too. Happily, I have a lot to choose from.

New Balance Zante 2
Responsive and comfortable
If I ever race again, I'll wear this pair. Low and energetic. They remind me of the Kinvara 5, but feel a little faster.

Brooks Launch 
Smooth and stable
This shoe was a surprise gift from my daughter. They would be a great everyday trainer, similar to the Adrenaline, but lighter.

Saucony Triumph ISO
If the Toyota Avalon was a shoe
When my feet are sore and I have to run, this is my go-to pair.

Saucony Kinvara 5
Light and energetic
I stopped running in these for a couple of years because of heel wear, but now they're back in the rotation. Not quite as peppy as the Zantes, but they are running royalty nonetheless.

SPECIAL CONDITIONS

These are the shoes I wear for trails, bad weather or indoor running. I keep two of these pairs in a separate storage area and was too lazy to go get them when I was photographing my upstairs collection.

Spira Stinger XLT
Subtle as a chainsaw
This was a Runner's Tech Review special. Turns out they are pretty decent shoes, but the gimmick (springs in the mid sole) is ineffective. I use them when I run on pavement in the rain. Good traction.

Helly Hansen Trail Lizard
Not a good choice for technical running
Super lightweight and great for racing on hard packed dirt trails. No rock plate so they can be punishing on sharp stones and roots.

Brooks Cascadia 8
Unstoppable
Handles mud, rocks, scree and steep inclines like a Range Rover. Surprisingly runnable on pavement.

Saucony Kinvara 3
700+ miles on the treadmill
This was originally my primary 10K and half marathon shoe. I switched them to treadmill duty when I got the 5s. They still look brand new.

Karhu Fast 2
Alternative treadmill runners
These shoes were incredibly awkward on the road and only slightly better for track intervals. Stiffness lessened with use and they are now a decent treadmill and elliptical shoe.

DECOMMISSIONED

An interesting assortment of the good, the weird and the ugly. Sadly, the shoes with this little guy at the end of the description (🏃) will be recycled because they are no longer runnable.

Saucony Virrata
Minimal and cushy
I really liked these shoes because they were super light and near zero drop from heel to toe. I wore them out quickly because the out sole is primarily blown EVA. Tried them on to see if they were still runnable, but alas, they are done. 🏃

Brooks Pure Drift
Commonly asked at races: WTF are those?
Brooks sent me these as part of a wear testing program. Liked them a lot but wished I'd asked for a half size larger shoe. I thought they were as minimal as a shoe could get and then Saucony sent me the Hattoris. 🏃

Saucony Hattori
Weird but awesome
This is basically a pool shoe with better materials. No cushioning at all, no laces either. Ran a few PRs with them and used them as my daily trainers until I completely wore them out. 🏃

Saucony Kinvara
Perfect
I have never loved a running shoe as much as these original Kinvaras. I wore them out to the point where I risked knee issues running in them for more than four miles. Tried them on yesterday for the first time in seven years and they still feel perfect on my foot. No more running in them but they're staying in my collection.

Sunday, June 16, 2019

When your pace is slow, focus on the statistics

Saw this on a car in the REI parking lot today
Happy Father's Day. My goal of more frequent postings has been stymied (only six this year including today) but I'm definitely on track for running frequency. Over the 44 days since I finished up work on May 3rd, I've run 36 times (82% of days). Just to compare, I only did 33 runs from January 1st through April 30th (28% of days). So run frequency is good. End of statistical report.

June so far - 14 runs in 16 days
It's not all good news in the running department however. The three measures of progress I'm using are frequency, distance and speed. My plan is to meet a target for each point, hold that target and start focusing on the next point. I'm tracking just about 6 runs a week and have started to focus on increasing average distance per run. I'm going in the right direction, but the increase is small, up about 8% from May's average.

The third measure, speed, is my biggest challenge and I have done very little to address it. My pace is abysmal, but I'm hoping that by maintaining high run frequency and increasing distance, my fitness will unlock some of my old speed. I don't like being slow, but forcing my pace turns happy running into a dreaded chore. I guess I could go back to doing intervals which compartmentalize the discomfort. Once I reach my average distance goal, I'll start putting weekly track visits into my schedule.

I've been planning to buy a new hybrid bike to cross train. I'd like to ride some of the great bike trails on Long Island. Two of the other Runsketeers (TPP and KLM) are serious cyclists and I'm pretty sure Professor Mike knows his way around a bike. SIOR has a bike so she has one leg up on me. KLM has been giving me expert advice and will be helping me make a purchase in July. When that happens I'm I'll be looking to do the inaugural Runsketeer ride.

Sunday, May 26, 2019

Building up the monthly miles

On the comeback trail
Happy almost Memorial Day. It finally feels like summer and I've been doing my best to get out for runs early to beat the heat. I did that today and was rewarded with a cool and comfortable 66° temp. I wore a mid-weight shirt and shorts and wished I went with a lighter top by the end. I recently read that a worn heel is not a good reason to discard a running shoe because, "to patch such a heel prevents proper adaptation of the shoe to the runner’s particular heel strike pattern." That inspired me to pull out my well worn Kinvara 5s for today's run.

One of my goals for my post-work life was a return to running 18 miles per week. When I was doing 2.5 mile runs on weekdays and 7-8 miles over the weekend, I averaged about 75 miles per month. Over the past five years, my monthly average has steadily declined. Now that I'm running almost every day, I'm looking to build back to the 70+ mile target. A look back over the last 12 months shows an embarrassing monthly average of 30 miles with some pathetically low totals Jan-March.

The highest monthly total I've reached since June 2018 was 45.9. Now that I'm running six days a week, I was expecting to easily exceed that high point. A quick check on Garmin Connect made me think it would come down to the wire for May whether I would hit a new monthly high. When I went out on Saturday morning, my May monthly total was 40.8 miles. I was thinking I'd need to cover 5.1 miles before Monday.

We were invited to brunch yesterday and I was pressed for time, so I finished up after covering 3.2 miles. That left me thinking that I still needed 2.2 miles to reach my highest monthly total in a year. I beat that easily, and when I uploaded my final May runs to Garmin I realized that May doesn't end on the 26th. I actually have until next Saturday to build on that total. My new goal for May is 60 miles, double my 12 month cumulative average. 60 miles a month is a big improvement, but it's still less than 14 miles a week.

I will be aiming for 70 miles in June which would get me to almost to 90% of my target (18 miles per week). That means another 2.3 miles per week, either added to my shorter daily runs or as a step toward returning to long weekend runs. In the meantime, my performance is steadily improving. The gains aren't dramatic but they're real. Is it more frequent workouts, more miles or getting more sleep? Yes.

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Running mileage is up, performance not so much

Rat race
I think this running thing is starting to work. I knew that increasing my weekly run frequency would help my overall performance, but I didn't know where the benefits would come. Thanks to my Garmin F35 and Garmin Connect, I can compare my current performance metrics over the past 12 months. While I'm not quite at the pace and cadence levels I was achieving last July, I'm covering 10% more weekly mileage and my May performance metrics are up compared to the last five months.

That said, I'm still embarrassingly slow and that's primarily due to reduced cadence and shortened stride length. When I look back at my metrics on Connect from 2011, it's almost like I'm looking at a different person's numbers. I know I can knock a minute per mile (or more) off my pace if I commit to running at 85% of max. I'd still be well below my peak, but the improvement would be encouraging.

My plan right now is to continue to run six times a week. So far, that's been holding. I've been adding distance carefully and today I did my longest run in May, 3.3 miles. Not the six milers I used to do, but three miles a day, six days a week, would get me to my target of 18. If progress continues, I'll probably step down to five runs a week and go longer on the weekends.

I've needed to stay away from Bethpage State Park this week due to the PGA Championship. That has kept me in my neighborhood for most daily runs. I need to work on my timing to avoid the parade of aggressive parents dropping off their kids at the elementary and middle schools and escape the cavalcade of yellow buses. Just for fun, I Gmapped my entire neighborhood to see how much distance I'd cover if I ran on every street. It's a little more than 9 miles and it looks a lot like a rat's maze. That's definitely not the way I want to cover that distance. Happily, the golf tournament ends on Sunday and then it will be back to the trail for me.

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Emerging Runner - Here we go again

Wet day, dry run
The Emerging Runner has re-emerged. I know I've said that before but this time it may be true. After years of almost daily posts, I slowed to a near stop at the end of 2017. I had reached a point where both my commute and the medication I was taking for an eye condition were exhausting me and affecting my running. Doing less running meant having less to write about. I never actually stopped running, but my weekly mileage had steadily dropped almost 60% from peak. Over the past two years I've maintained that plateau and I knew nothing would change without real disruption.

While I couldn't stop taking medication, I could do something about the commute. So I did. About a year ago I informed my company that I intended to stop working and a week ago I finally left. One week after leaving my job, I'm asking myself why I waited so long to do it. Instead of heading out to the office around 6:00 AM, I'm getting outside for almost daily runs.

I'm keeping my distances short, but the increased frequency has brought me up to 12 miles a week. My performance hasn't improved much, but my stamina seems better. My hope is to return to averaging 18 miles a week, which was typical when I was training 5-6 days a week. I'd like to meet that target by the end of June, which I should be able to do while increasing weekly mileage less than 10%.

Today's weather was windy and rainy but I wasn't going to let that force me onto the treadmill. I dressed lightly and wore a hooded rain jacket and a pair of running shoes that do well in wet conditions. Now that I no longer wear glasses, running in the rain is a viable option. The low cloud cover made it seem earlier than 7:30 AM, and the streets were quiet. The only annoyance was the pooling of water at some intersections that required some careful stepping.

I finished my run very pleased that I'd ignored the rain. I didn't see a single car the whole time I was out there and it reminded me of the days when I'd run with a headlamp and reflective vest at 3:45 AM. I always felt like I owned the road back then. If I can maintain the discipline, I will aim to get out by 6:00 AM before the garbage trucks, school buses and commuters invade my territory. The only guy I ever saw driving in the neighborhood at 6:00 AM was me and I would watch the occasional neighborhood runner with envy. Now I get to be that runner.

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Hanging Over with the Runsketeers

Flower inserted due to behavioral issue
According to my records, I only had three Emerging Runner posts in all of 2018. That's pretty pathetic. This was mostly due to the fact that I didn't post on the other 362 days. However, I am proud to say that I've posted every day in 2019. I've also run every day this year. Not so pathetic now, huh?!

I give credit for today's run to my long time running nemesis friend, She Is Out Running (SIOR) who decided that the Runsketeers would return to Eisenhower Park to do the 2019 LIRRC Hangover Run. For some reason we skipped it last year, but now we're back on track. While some Runskies weren't able to make it today, they were with us in spirit.

The Hangover Run is a great event because it provides all the great stuff about being in a race (organization, other runners, time clock, free food!) without the pressure of competing. Everyone starts together, but after that you're on your own to do as many loops of the one mile course as you'd like. Since the event happens on New Year's Day, it's usually a chilly proposition, but today's morning temperature was about 56°, albeit with some stiff winds along the route.

I arrived at the park around 9:20 AM for the 9:30 start and looked for SIOR. I knew TPP needed to work, but wasn't sure if Professor Mike (PM) or KWL would be joining us. I didn't see anyone from the crew so I lined up for the start, figuring I'd run into the others along the way. After the LIRRC guy counted down the start, we were off. I knew I'd be running this course a lot slower than in the past due to some medication I'm taking. It was both interesting and a little humiliating to go from being a solid mid-packer to back-of-packer. At least I was passing walkers!

About 3/10ths into the run, a couple of speedsters slipped by and were running directly ahead of me when I realized they were SIOR and PM. I said something snarky, which they ignored, so I tapped SIOR on the shoulder and surprised them. We ran together for a couple of minutes. It was probably my fastest quarter and definitely SIOR's slowest of the day. She caught up with PM and they resumed their pace. I watched them on the other side of the loop each time I went around, getting ever closer to lapping me. On my third mile, that's exactly what happened and I ran the remainder of the route with SIOR.

It was the fastest three miles I've run since April 1st of last year. Still nothing to write home about in terms of pace, but it underscored how much I'd regressed by running solo much of 2018. We grabbed some coffee and food and then SIOR decided to run one more loop before we headed off to Runsketeer HQ, also known as the closest Starbucks.

Rare pic of SIOR acting like a grownup
PM and SIOR were waiting at a table by the time I arrived. Starbucks was sparsely populated and I gave my buddies holiday presents because last year we skipped the Hangover and I didn't give them their gifts until July. I grabbed a coffee and we got into it right away -- politics, religion, medical issues, work, kids, anything but running. It didn't matter that it had been months since we got together, it's always as if we saw each other the day before.

Seeing my buddies and running better than I have in a long time was inspiring. I really hope we can get the whole group together soon. I wouldn't call it a resolution, but I am serious about getting back to 18-21 mile weeks before mid year. I have a strategy to get me there, and running more with the Runsketeers is part of that plan.
 

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