Sunday, January 3, 2021

First 2021 run at Bethpage

Sunny and lonely at Bethpage

It's a new year and everyone seems pretty happy about that. There's reason to be optimistic: vaccines will get Covid under control this year and this country will (hopefully) unite under its first real president since January 19, 2017. If 2020 taught us anything, it's that democracy cannot be taken for granted. In the meantime, we can manage through any of life's negatives with a really good run.

My running in 2020 had its ups and downs. I ran a total of 962 miles (a personal record) and 33% more distance than in 2019. I averaged over 80 miles a month and averaged 3.2 miles per run. My overall pace in 2020 improved 5% over 2019. On the other hand, I only had ten runs greater than 4 miles and only one longer than 5. SIOR maintains that my pace isn't going to improve much until I incorporate a lot more long runs into my schedule.

I'm ambivalent about changing up my regular routine since it seems to work for me. My attempt to move the needle on my performance last fall yielded some improvement, but it was more high effort than foundational. There's an argument to be made that longer runs and (shudder) hill training are the best ways to deliver gains. I was thinking about that on Saturday on my way to Bethpage State Park to run with the Runsketeers. We had planned to participate in the annual Hangover Run at Eisenhower Park on New Years day, but it was cancelled due to Covid.

The Runsketeers decided to kick off 2021 at Bethpage, a venue that seems to work for everyone and happens to be close to a Starbucks that has outside seating. Our post-run Starbucks time is as essential as the run itself. Unfortunately SIOR and Professor Mike had medical afflictions and had to cancel that morning and TPP had to work. I went it alone and planned to run at least 4 miles.

Conditions were good, low 40's and sunny. I felt strong and thought I was running pretty well. The paved path at Bethpage has distance markings every tenth of a mile. As I went along, I was puzzled to see that my Garmin was showing less distance compared to the marked path. I thought it was a GPS error. I ended up running 3.8 miles thinking I'd actually covered four. Later, I Gmapped my route using the exact turnaround positions from my Garmin's download. Despite my perceived performance, I ended up running a less impressive pace.

Out 'N Back x 2

I think I've figured out why the north trail markings differ from my GPS tracking. The first tenth of a mile (position .1 mile) that you encounter isn't actually .1 mile from the trail head. It's actually .05 miles. The marker is, surprisingly, the distance from the top of the steep trail that comes up from the lot to the .1 marker on the north trail. It turns out that four times back and forth from the trail head to the one mile mark is - wait for it - 3.8 miles.

Me and the Runsketeer recruits


So lesson learned. I still had a very pleasant run, although I missed my buddies. When I returned to the lot at the end, I encountered four women who were getting ready to head out for their run together. I asked them to take a picture of me that I could send to the Runsketeers and one of the woman asked if I wanted them in it. I said, "Sure, you can be temporary Runsketeers!" I'm sure they had no idea what I was talking about, but I'm used to that.

I did my third run of 2021 this morning before the rain came. It was cold and windy and only about 3.4 miles, but it was nice to know my Garmin is working.

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