Showing posts with label Dirty Sock 10K. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Dirty Sock 10K. Show all posts

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Running blind to time and distance

One lacks GPS, the other lacks a strap
Today's run (street): 3.75 miles
Yesterday's run (street): 4.5 miles

They ran the Dirty Sock this morning and I cannot imagine how those poor runners managed through 6.2 miles of hot and steamy air. Make that wet air. Air that you can feel without a breeze. The humidity today and yesterday could only be described as brutal. Despite that, I did get out Saturday and today, although there was nothing about my running that could be mistaken for a racing level effort.

Yesterday was the first time I ran without my FR210 on my wrist since I bought it, and it was disconcerting not to be able to monitor time or distance. I put the watch in my SPIbelt and tried to listen for the chirp that indicated mile splits, but I was unable hear them. Without that information, I had to guess my mileage based on the route I was running. I was surprised at the end to see that I'd covered 4.5 miles in sweltering conditions. I got home and jumped in the pool wearing my running clothes. Learning from past errors, I carefully removed my phone, Garmin and Fitbit before diving in.

This morning I'd planned to get out before the direct sun added to the already hot day. Unfortunately, I didn't actually start until 7:40 AM. By then, the air felt like a steam bath. After yesterday's experience  running without either distance or time indicators, I decided to put a new battery in my old FR60. At least I'd have a stopwatch to reference.

Equipped with phone, Fitbit and two Garmins, I set off into the heat and humidity. I still couldn't monitor my distance progress unless I pulled my GPS watch from my SPIbelt, not an easy thing to do while running. I felt like I ran more than 3.75 miles, but in this weather, that was more than enough.

Running with 1 1/2 watches is going to get old real fast. My FR210 wristband has further disassembled past the point where I could repair it with this cool hack. I should probably buy another GPS watch, but that seems wasteful because both the watch and GPS part of my FR210 still works. I'm open to suggestions.

In term of this weekend's running, my paces today and yesterday were glacial. Still, I enjoyed the fact that I'm getting through every run without worrying when fatigue will kick in. Even though conditions were suboptimal, I never once wished these runs would end. If I had run the Dirty Sock today in this weather I would have gotten through it. But not very quickly.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

The Runsketeers take on the trails!

TPP, brat (aka, SIOR), ER, KWL
Today's run (Dirty Sock route: Belmont Lake): 6.5 miles

Adventure called and the Runsketeers responded this morning with a loop or two (or three) around Belmont Lake. KWL, SIOR, TPP and I planned to meet around 7:00 AM. I was the laggard of the bunch as they were all hanging out together by the time I arrived. I tried to explain the Dirty Sock course -- how it starts at the western trail head and branches off toward Southards Pond before dipping south to the eastern exit. After getting a collective, “what the hell are you talking about?” look from my companions, I suggested they just follow the trail as best as they could.

We began to walk to our starting point and bossy SIOR said, “Can we start running now?” So we did. Doing that, as well as running back to the western trail head when I finished, accounted for my additional third of a mile on top of running the full Dirty Sock route. We ran together at the start and then TPP and SIOR picked up the pace and went on ahead. KWL stayed back with me and we ran together and chatted until we reached Belmont Lake.

While KWL turned on the burners, I kept my moderate pace and circled the lake. About halfway around, I ran into SIOR and TPP who were running the lake clockwise. I soon saw KWL coming back on his way to catch up with the others. I again saw the three of them near the end of my loop. TPP ended up doing two lake loops and the others went around for a third time.

I am officially the least popular Runsketeer
The Dirty Sock route can be challenging when the path is wet and the humidity is off the charts. Neither was the case today. Just in case, I'd packed my gel flask with a mix of water and a Roctane Expresso gel. I haven’t used gels in over a year, so the one I had was well past its expiration date. I didn't realize that until I took my first swig and got a mouthful of coffee flavored grit. I finished it nonetheless.

I think the gel helped, because I felt a bit more energetic after ingesting it. Curiously, I detected an aftertaste that reminded me of alcohol and I wondered if the gel had fermented in its pack. Probably not, because a little alcohol goes a long way with me and I didn't feel any related effects. However, I did start to crave pizza.

I ran along the southern end of Southards Pond and went south for the last half mile of the route. This last section used to frustrate me when I did the Dirty Sock 10K because the trail seemed to go on forever. The greatest moment of that race was when I started to hear Terry Bisogno announcing runners as they crossed the finish line. I didn't get that today, but when I came around the final bend and saw the emerald green field ahead of me, I was pretty darn happy.

My route today
I extended my run to our starting location and waited of the others who were looking to cover more miles than me today. I ended up going over to the playground to get some shade and a minute later TPP appeared. We found a shady area close to where we'd see KWL and SIOR when they exited the woods. TPP and I caught up a little before our buddies arrived.

As tradition dictates, we headed to the closest Starbucks which had a very comfy seating section. After receiving gifts of coffee and pumpkin bread from SIOR and TPP respectively, the four of us recapped our run. Three of the four of us went over the moon about KWL's Apple Watch Sport that he was wearing. I am defiantly anti-Apple, and didn't join in that love fest. However, KWL did manage to take a remote selfie using his watch to control SIOR's iPhone, which was a pretty neat trick.

It was a great run for all of us and I was excited to share one of my favorite running locations with my best running buds. KWL is officially our d'Artagnan (although that honor is shared with TPP's JC). I look forward to more runs with these guys. I may even do Cow Harbor after all.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Cramming in my workouts

The Dirty Sock route
Today's run (street): 3.75 miles
Yesterday's workout (elliptical): 30 minutes

During yesterday's drive home I realized that I'd missed my morning workout window. I was facing another week with all my activity crammed into the last three days. I'm not likely to return to 4 AM weekday neighborhood runs, but I could run on the treadmill before getting ready for work on weekdays. And yet I don't. As I crawled along the Cross Island Parkway, I made the decision to do a workout when I got home.

I took little time changing into workout clothes and considered both the treadmill and the elliptical for my workout. My thought process went like this: 1) "The treadmill is real running and the elliptical isn't." 2) "The treadmill gets my heart rate higher. I can change elevation and even simulate downhill running." 3) "I hate the treadmill so I'm going to use the elliptical." With that, I turned on the big fan and had a surprisingly enjoyable session.

This morning I was determined to get out earlier than I have done on previous Fridays. At 6:00 AM I told myself I'd go out at 7:00. At 7:00 I said 7:30. By the time I changed for my run and put on sunscreen it was 8:00. By the time my Garmin acquired a signal, it was almost 8:15. So once again I found myself in the prime hour for dodging recycling trucks.

The weather was promising, not too hot and hardly humid. I felt good from the start and that continued throughout the run. About halfway through my route, I saw a car coming from the other direction around a tight curve. I tucked in behind a landscaping truck until the car passed by. Coincidently, it was my landscaper's truck and he was standing right there. We had a brief chat about how running and working in the heat kinda sucks and then I was on my way once again.

The rest of the run was relatively vehicle-free and the time went by quickly. I ran a little faster than I usually do, but it was still nothing to brag about. Tomorrow the Runsketeers will be taking to the trails to run the Dirty Sock course. It's been over a year since I've run that route and I'm excited that my friends will be running it for the first time. I hope conditions will be cool and the path will be dry. It gets very humid around there in August and muddy trails are why the race is called the Dirty Sock.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Hiatus from racing

Today's run (street): 4.6 miles

The Dirty Sock Run happens in 30 days and I'm thinking of skipping it. In fact, I'm also considering skipping the Cow Harbor 10K in September. I've always enjoyed these two races, so this would represent a big gap in my racing schedule. Although I continue to look forward to my runs, I've become disinterested in racing.

I'm only running half the days that I did prior to my return to commuting and this disrupts my running schedule. It also undercuts my excitement about competing. My performance has definitely taken a nosedive and that's probably contributing to my lack of racing spirit.

I got out this morning for the first time since Sunday and had a nice run. We've had a respite from the rainy, humid weather and it felt good to be outside. I'm not sure what I'll do tomorrow because I have an early dentist appointment. I'm planning to go for a run after that. I hope it doesn't get too hot.

I'm going to try to return to workday running at 4:00 AM, starting with a 25 minute treadmill run one morning a week. If that works out, I can expand the days and maybe even go back to early neighborhood runs.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Race report: 2013 Dirty Sock 10K

Final charge to the finish line
Today's race (Dirty Sock 10K): 6.2 miles (clock time 1:02:57)

This morning I ran the Dirty Sock 10K trail run for the fourth time since 2009 (I skipped it last year). Results have been posted, but they seem to be clock, not net times. Either way, it was the slowest time I've ever run this race. But in a race like this, experience is more important than time. As usual, the experience was great.

Team Emerging Runner arrived about 35 minutes before the start under overcast skies and fairly cool temperatures. Far better than in 2010, when the heat, humidity and occasional rain created sauna conditions on the course. After getting my bib number, along with the traditional pair of "Dirty Sock" sweat socks and race shirt, I regrouped with my family. Shortly after that, I ran into my friend Mike who was running the race with his brother Paul.

Paul, Mike and me
We walked together toward the western trail head, and told my wife and kids, "See you at the finish line." Mike, Paul and I continued toward the starting line and found a place to wait. At 7:55, I turned on my Garmin, thinking five minutes would be enough time to acquire a signal. I was wrong, and it took about 23 minutes for the signal to lock in. My hope of capturing full race data was lost, but I was getting my heart rate in real time and the watch came in unexpectedly handy near the end of the race.

A video on the Dirty Sock Facebook page confirms that it took about a minute for me to cross the starting line after the horn. I'm hoping they post the net times, because this would make a difference in my overall time, bringing my pace into the 9:00 range (if only by 5/100th of a second!). I felt good at that point (although frustrated by my Garmin's signal failure), and moved through the crowd of runners until I found a spot where I could open up my stride.

The first two miles went by fast, and I was beginning to think I might do well today. Like other times when I've run this race, the lead runners (winner set a course record of 32:48) were coming back after circling the lake, just as I prepared to turn right toward the Southern State underpass. It was a psychologically positive moment that confirmed my performance was on track. The transition from trail to pavement felt jarring, and I struggled a little as the course rose to the path that goes around Belmont Lake.

The three mile point comes about halfway around the lake and the clock showed that 29 minutes had passed. Thinking that we'd be measured by net time, I was feeling encouraged. But soon after that, I began to feel depleted. I took a sip from my gel flask where I'd mixed some Roctane with water. That helped a little, but I needed to adjust to a more sustainable pace. As we crossed under the low viaduct that leads back to the dirt trail, I thought about what I needed to do to get through the rest of the miles.

Without my GPS to tell me where I was in my progress, I tried to remember landmarks that I'd seen on the way up. I wanted to know how much trail I had left to cover. I started to get passed, indicating that I was running slower than I'd hoped. I finished the Roctane and soon saw the five mile clock that showed 50:40. I put everything I had into it, but still couldn't generate the speed I needed. Not long after that, my Garmin beeped that a new mile had started. Although it didn't correlate to the course, I used it as a rough estimate for the remaining distance.

Knowing that I only had a mile left put me in a state of hope. When I passed Southards Pond, I knew I was about to turn right for the final kilometer of the race. Halfway along that section of trail, my Garmin showed I had a half mile to go. I prepared for that, but when I saw a familiar landmark I realized the watch distance was off (compared to the course). I was really much closer. I put everything into my effort and soon heard the race announcer's voice. I only had a few hundred feet to go, so I accelerated once the finish line (and my wife and kids) were in sight.

Cool-down with Dave
I was fully depleted when I finished and my kids quickly brought water and bananas to aid my recovery. I was wishing for some electrolyte drink, but there wasn't any available. Although my heart rate dropped quickly to normal, it took about 30 minutes before I was feeling like my old self. Mike and Paul finished just a few minutes after me, and I was happy to run into Dave, who ran the course in the mid-50 minute range.

Award ceremony
We waited around and watched the award ceremony which was followed by an endless raffle where a hundred or more people won prizes. By then it was raining, but we hung in because my daughter was convinced I'd win the large screen TV (sadly, I didn't). One of the other big prizes was a $2,500 gift certificate from a hair graft surgeon. That was won by a high school-aged girl, who accepted it with good humor.

Although I would have liked to run today's race a few minutes faster, I was completely satisfied with today's effort. My first half performance compared to the second indicates that I need to work on my base, especially if I expect to be competitive at Cow Harbor in September. Five weeks should be more than enough time to prepare for that course, but I'll need to do plenty of hill, speed and distance training to get where I need to be.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Redemption run gives hope for Dirty Sock

The Garmin doesn't lie
Today's run (street): 3.25 miles

With the Dirty Sock trail race happening on Sunday, I had one more run to go before I finished my taper. Yesterday's run was disappointing and Tuesday's was similarly mediocre. I've recently committed to pushing harder on training runs and that paid off last week with a few decent runs. When I say decent, I mean closer to last year's average pace. Certainly not as fast as the paces I used to hit while training for a race.

The Dirty Sock is a tough course. The terrain isn't especially bad for trails, but the steamy weather conditions and muddy paths make the last miles difficult. My time expectation for this race is about 59 minutes, which is five minutes slower than my 10K PR. I'm usually happy to run it in under an hour. Actually, the way I've been running, I'm concerned about breaking 62 minutes.

Hope came this morning with a run that redeemed my spirit. The difference today was that I kept a steady focus on speed. It wasn't an impressive pace for many readers of this blog, but it was almost a minute per mile faster than what I "achieved" yesterday. I'm not going into Sunday's race with a string of fast runs under my belt, but at least I ended training on a good note.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Conditions are ideal for Dirty Sock race prep

Today's run (street): 4.3 miles

I've been thinking a lot about the upcoming Dirty Sock 10K that happens on August 18th. I ran this race in 2009, 2010 and 2011, but I skipped it last year. It's a hard race, especially at the end. Conditions are often brutal, with temperatures near 90° and humidity approaching 100%. The website describes the course as "USATF Certified and Sanctioned, fast, mostly flat, picturesque, wooded trails, only 2/10 mile paved. Splits, water stops, road apples, uneven terrain." The last mile of this race always feels as long as the previous five.

The best way to train for this race is to run the course, something I'm planning to do with my friend Mike in early August. In the meantime, I'm planning to push my speed more often in the training runs I do each day. This might be a challenge if the weather remains hot and humid, as it was today.

This morning I got out reasonably early. After a quick loop around the northern section of my neighborhood, I headed to the middle school where I could access the foot path that leads to a service road and local business park. I ran the park loop clockwise so I could take on all the elevation at once, rather than endure the long, but less steep elevation I'd encounter going the other way.

During yesterday's run I'd moderated my pace in response to the sweltering heat. Today was slightly cooler and the sun was less intense at the start. I focused on my turnover, in hopes of achieving a faster pace than Friday's. I ended up with a respectable time, although I'd like to improve that by 20 seconds per mile by race day. I'm thinking of visiting Bethpage tomorrow and hoping that this evening's rainstorm will chase away the heat and make running conditions more pleasant on the running trail.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Keeping my socks clean this year

As I was running the trails at Bethpage on Sunday, I thought about the Dirty Sock 10K and the effort required to run that course. Next to the half marathon, Dirty Sock is the toughest race I do each year. This is mostly because it's 6.2 miles of changing terrain, run on the hottest and most humid day of the summer.

I figured that I'd spend next weekend preparing for the race and possibly running the course to re-familiarize myself with the route. When I got home from yesterday's run I asked my wife what was on the schedule for next weekend and she said, "Well you have your race on Sunday." For some reason I thought the race was happening in two weeks. I decided on the spot that I'm just not prepared to run it.

It's fun to follow a tradition like running Dirty Sock every year, as I do with the Marcie Mazzola run, the New Hyde Park 8K and Cow Harbor, among other races. But I'm not feeling the need to run it and I'd rather focus on Cow Harbor that happens a month from now. I'll miss the experience of running the Dirty Sock, but I'm sure of my decision. I can always head to Babylon one of these weekends and run the course on my own.

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!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Exhausting run at Belmont Lake

Today's run (Belmont Lake State Park): 6 miles

I decided to finish my Thanksgiving break with a trail run at Belmont Lake, home of the Dirty Sock race course. I'd decided that a competitive run at Stillwell (the Rob's Run 5K) would have been too much to do without the proper rest. I have in my mind that the Dirty Sock route is an easy run if you aren't trying to beat other runners. That's wasn't quite the case today.

The weather was in the high 30's when I started my run and I'd overdressed with two upper layers, running pants and a wicking cap. By my first mile I felt very warm and by the two mile mark I was feeling overheated. Unlike previous times running these trails, I sensed more inclined sections. Halfway through the run I was feeling fatigued, possibly due to over training.

Once at the lake, I knew there was nothing I could do to reduce the amount of required effort since the route was out-and-back and I was already halfway through it. The course seemed extra long and the trail seemed extra steep as I slogged my way past mile four. I was tired and my pace was slow, but I was determined not to stop or walk.

I saw a few other runners on the trail who had made better decisions about their gear. They were moving along nicely in contrast to my slow motion stride. After I cleared the passage under the Montauk Highway at mile 5, I decided to return on the same trail where I'd started, rather than adding the extra distance passing by Southards Pond.

I was very ready to finish my run by then and caught a glimpse of the trail opening as I ran by a couple of equestrians out with their horses for a Sunday morning ride. I was glad to have finished the week with a decent length run and especially glad that I didn't race today. I need a break from running and I'm glad that tomorrow is my regular rest day. It was a good couple of weeks of intense running, but enough is enough.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Thoughts on yesterday's race

Yesterday's race wasn't the toughest run I've faced this year, but in some ways I consider it my best effort. That's true, even with the LI Half Marathon I ran in May that was both difficult and humbling. On that race, I missed my performance target by a significant sum, but I am proud that (even with an injury) I didn't walk a single step over its 13.1 miles. Still, I feel that yesterday's Dirty Sock 10K represented my competitive best. There wasn't a single moment when I backed off the throttle, even as my energy levels dropped sharply near the end.

You'd think I would have done better than I did with the effort that I put forth on Sunday. I'll admit that I felt dismay at the hordes of people who caught up and passed me at various times during the race. I thought, "Why are they all running faster than me? How have they trained compared to me?"  The answer is probably a mix of things. First, I'm no longer in my 20's or 30's. Second, I suspect that many participants in yesterday's race probably train regularly at 10K-plus distances with an effort that I usually reserve only for race day.

With that, I'm pleased with the work I did on Sunday to achieve the best time I've ever attained in that race. Like this year's NHP 8K, I've done better the third year than in any previous year. As long as I can hold the gains I feel that I'm on track with my training. It will be interesting to see how I do at the Great Cow Harbor 10K. I don't know if I'll improve over 2010's time, but I know I won't regret my effort.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Race report: 2011 Dirty Sock 10K

Third time's the charm
Today's run (Babylon Village Classic - Dirty Sock 10K): 6.2 miles (net time 58:26)

Sometimes we anticipate a difficult race experience and hope that we're overestimating the challenge. We do everything we can to mitigate the pain and enhance our performance. That doesn't necessarily make the experience any easier, but in the end the pain is usually forgotten. Not entirely, but enough to make you decide to do it all again.

Today's Dirty Sock 10K was exactly like that for me. It was my third consecutive time running this race and for the third time I wondered, in the end, if I will ever do it again. The course is straightforward, an out-and-back 6.2 mile run, mostly on dirt trails. The heat and humidity determine the level of difficulty and the last mile (for me) is always the hardest part.

Team Emerging Runner arrived a little later than usual but I had plenty of time to collect my race bib, along with my race tee (an attractive faded blue this year) and the requisite pair of socks. When we walked into the registration area I saw a rock band on the stage and that made me and my daughter smile. It was a nice moment and we felt we were at an event. I caught up with Dave who was there with his wife and we all hung out until we were called to the line around 10 minutes before the start.

By now I recognize many people who compete in local races and it's a nicely familiar experience when we congregate behind the faster runners. The trails are wide, but with about 500 people at the start, the runners are pretty crammed together. Soon the horn sounded (oddly it sounded like a ship's whistle) and we moved en masse, somewhat slowly, until the crowd began to break up.

I ran the first mile in 8:46, which was good, considering my initial slow start due to congestion. I knew I couldn't sustain that pace and it was obvious that I was running with a faster crowd when they began to gain ground on me. My buddy Dave, who did very well today, had moved ahead and I soon lost sight of him. I tried to use the runners ahead of me as pacers but, by mile two, I began to feel like I was going to have some trouble getting through the entire distance at a competitive pace.

Dave (left) and me post race
Usually I see the winning runner coming back in the other direction around the 2.75 mile mark, but not today. I'd hoped that meant that I was running better than prior years, because that meant the eventual winner would still be circling the lake. Soon I was on the path around Belmont Lake and it felt hard. I was frustrated by the number of people who had passed me, but I knew I was leaving nothing on the course.

Psychologically, I was pleased by how quickly I lapped the lake and passing under the bridge meant that I had less than halfway to go. I continued to get passed and wondered whether I'd finish last. After the race Dave pointed out that we'd started somewhat close to the line so it made sense that faster runners would make their way past me. For the record, I finished where I usually do, right in the middle of the pack.

I did begin to pass some runners as I made my way between miles 4 and 5 and I took water every time it was offered. I also took sips from my hand bottle that was filled with electrolyte mix. Mile 5 finally came and I prepared for the worst and maintained the best pace that I could. Soon we were following the path along Southards Pond. When we turned right I knew we were about a kilometer from the end, perhaps the longest thousand meters I run every year.

Dave and I ran this course last weekend, so I was familiar with some of the features on this section of trail. When I saw the first foot bridge I knew I'd soon see the clearing and then the finish line. I came around the corner and gave my final push, crossing the line over a minute faster than last year. The race announcer even pronounced my last name correctly.

Team Emerging Runner was waiting for me at the finish line and I grabbed some water and drank the rest of my electrolyte mix. I saw Dave and his wife and found out that he finished about a minute and a half before me. He had told me that he planned to go faster than in 2010 and he was right!

Me with Beth and Paul, after the race
I found Paul, who I had met at the NHP 8K race, and his wife Beth. They both ran today's race and did well. Paul's very fast, he came in more than 10 minutes ahead of me. I mentioned to both Dave and Paul that I didn't think I was going to run Cow Harbor but I was overruled. The pain of today's run has faded to the point where I'm prepared to sign up for the race.

Well another Dirty Sock is on the books and I'm happy to have bettered my previous times. More importantly, I fought off fatigue and pain but I still maintained my targeted race pace. I guess I'd better get started on my Cow Harbor training. Preparation will be the key and I'll try not to think about the pain.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Liquid strategy for the Dirty Sock 10K

Performance in a pouch
Tomorrow morning at 8:00 AM I should be off and running on the Dirty Sock 10K trail run. It will be the third time that I participate in this out-and-back race that circles Belmont Lake State Park and passes Southards Pond on the return leg. The last two year's weather was brutal, hot and humid and even some rain. Predictions for tomorrow show 77° and 71% humidity for the start. Not ideal but better than last  year when rain threatened and finally started falling about 45 minutes into the race.

Low cal libation
Favorite fuel
I've trained the best I could with the time I have and I'm planning to use GU Roctane gels for pre-race energy and to help get me through that endless last 2K. I picked up a packet of Gatorade G Series Prime 01 that I will add to my G2 (low sugar) Perform that I'll carry in my water bottle. Both times I ran Dirty Sock I finished low on electrolytes and fairly dehydrated. Generally I prefer simplicity, but if these supplements help me through my expected struggles then it's worth the extra care.

I'll file a full report on the experience. My taper is complete, the race day gear selected and my nutrition plan is set. I'm hoping for the best, but mostly I'm just excited to run this course again and see my family waiting for me at the finish line.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Time for some needed rest

Today's run (street): 2.5 miles

This morning I went out for my last run prior to Sunday's race. I wore my Mirages to acclimate to their feel, although the trail surface at the race will be different than pavement. I'll admit that I liked the luxury of this minimal, yet well cushioned, shoe. It's a nice change from the harder ride of the Hattori's.

It's often recommended that runners leave their watches at home and run by feel. I bring my Garmin because I have an irrational need to capture the metrics of every run but I rarely look at the display for anything except elapsed time. I purposely ignored my watch this morning and only checked it at the end when I pulled up by my house and hit the stop button. I saw that I'd averaged 9:14 per mile, which made sense based upon the effort I had made.

I'm still battling the feeling of tiredness and, although I was happy to have run 15 seconds per mile better than my July average, the fatigue was noticeable. Along the way I encountered both a car and a walker at the same intersection -- unusual because I rarely see either at 4:00 AM. That woke me up a bit. I'm done with running until the race, although I may do some less strenuous activities between now and then. Rest, I believe, will be the best thing to do before I line up for the Dirty Sock 10K on Sunday morning.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Singlet minded planning

I need to decide if less is more
With only six days before the Dirty Sock 10K, I'm working out my race day preparations. I've been thinking about whether to buy a singlet to wear as a hedge against the historically high humidity. The idea is sound, having less material on your body will allow more efficient evaporation of sweat. However, I've never run in a singlet and I don't know if I'd like it or if I would find it a distraction.

My fallback is my Craft Performance running tee that does an excellent job of wicking and evaporating sweat. I'm not sure what conditions to expect on Sunday but, if it rains, efficient evaporation becomes less important and, to the prior point, less material would be beneficial. I'll take a look at City Sports this week to see if there are any summer clearance bargains. If I get a singlet I can try it on one of my morning taper runs to see if I like it.

While I'm in shopping mode I need to remember to pick up more GU Roctane gels for the event. There aren't too many products that I think can make a noticeable difference, but this one does.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Pre-race training run at Belmont Lake State Park

2010 Dirty Sock race shirt. They also give you socks!
Today's run (Belmont Lake State Park): 6.2 miles

It's been more than two months since my last race (the NHP 8K) so I'm excited that I'll (once again) be competing next weekend. If we have weather like this weekend's on the 21st I'll be very pleased.

This morning I met up with my running buddy Dave at the south end of Belmont Lake State Park. We decided to do a last long training run along the Dirty Sock race course to prepare for the big event. We had plenty of company on the trails at 7:00 AM when we started. There were people with dogs, walkers, bike riders and a handful of other runners.

We took off at a pace that allowed for comfortable conversation and. before I knew it, I heard my Garmin chime the first mile. We reached Belmont Lake and chose to follow the same route that we'll take on race day. This involves a short section that crosses a highway access road and goes under the LIE. We circled the lake in short order and I was pleased with my energy level at what I knew to be the halfway point.

I never noticed before, but I determined the main trail runs uphill in the southern direction. That may be a reason why I have a tough time in the latter half of this race. Checking our watches we saw that we were coming on the one hour mark and I couldn't believe that much time had passed. Having an interesting guy like Dave as a running partner certainly helps on long runs.

At the last leg of the run, where the trail twists south after paralleling a section of  Southard's Pond, Dave stepped up the pace and I followed. He's a strong finisher and I did my best to stay with him. This last half mile is always tough on race day because it's hard to discern how much more trail is left before the finish line. I know to listen for the race announcer over the PA, that tells me to start my final sprint to the line.

The humidity finally kicked in and at the end we were a pretty soggy pair. I was extremely pleased with our run and I know I could have put another 10% into my effort if I had been competing. I'm saving that for race day. The taper starts tomorrow. Let's hope that the heat and humidity take a holiday next Sunday.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

The thing about the Dirty Sock course...

Link to picture at Bill McBride Photography

Today's workout (elliptical): 28 minutes

I'm thinking of heading to Babylon this weekend to run the trails in Belmont Lake State park. This is the location for the Dirty Sock 10K that's being held next a week from this Sunday. The course itself is straightforward, mostly flat and non-technical, and, unless it's been raining, well groomed. The thing about this race is the weather. On a cool fall morning it's as good as trail running gets: picturesque woods, a beautiful lake and some interesting sections with that cross over brooks or pass by another lake. But the weekend of Dirty Sock can show a different side of this course - the heat and humidity envelope you and the last mile of the race is plenty tough.

The last time I ran this course was in the spring when I closed out my half marathon training. I wore my Kinvaras on the trails and thought all was well but that night I awoke to significant knee pain that followed me for months. I've since gotten past that problem but I'm a little concerned about a recurrence of this problem. In truth, I had probably over trained the week that I did that run and the knee pain was likely a result of running 30% more mileage than normal.

I'm planning to run in the Mirages, a minimal stability shoe, this weekend and for the Dirty Sock race. I've been running almost exclusively with the Hattori's but I seem to adapt well between those shoes and Mirages. This will also be a big weekend for my friends who race. KWL will be competing in the Philadelphia Grand Fondo bike race (108 miles) and FS is due to run a race on Cape Cod. However, she is "day to day" on deciding whether to participate, due to an injury. I hope everything lines up for both of them this weekend (including good weather) and that we all have great experiences.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Runners: know thy enemy!

Today's run: 2.6 miles

Hoping to keep my cool
Like most runners, my performance degrades with a rise in temperature. Adding humidity makes it worse and it all makes sense scientifically. If your body needs to cool itself, it will deplete your body's fluid level through sweat. This leads to a loss in plasma volume and a reduction in oxygen to muscles because blood low is being pushed to the surface of the skin. Humidity prevents efficient evaporation of sweat that dissipates heat and helps regulate body temperature.

It seems like every running magazine I read has an article or two about running in the heat. They all say basically the same thing -- that proper hydration (including electrolyte balance) is key. They are also pretty clear that running in extreme heat can drive your body temperature up to dangerous levels. At that point it goes from bad to worse.

I'm thinking about this because I'm two weekends away from the Dirty Sock 10K trail run. It's a great race that goes through the woods and around a lake. It's always held the third weekend in August and the two times I've run it conditions ranged from high heat and humidity to high heat, humidity and rain. Last year I drank 24 ounces of water after I finished and still felt depleted. It wasn't until my daughter brought over an electrolyte drink that I finally felt restored and balanced.

This morning's run did not feel humid (though it was) and I appreciated the temperatures that were still in the 70's. I had a decent run and by the time I came home I was drenched with sweat but I didn't feel overheated. I'm looking for a singlet to wear on race day. Despite the "wife-beater" look that I've always avoided, that may be a good tool for keeping my body temperature down. One thing I'm counting on is that Dirty Sock will fall on a hot and humid day.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Dirty Sock prep: 60 humid minutes on the treadmill

Today's run (treadmill): 5.5 miles

The rain was coming down hard at 6:30 AM and the frequent thunder told me that the storm was close. I hoped that it would move through quickly so I could go out for a long run later in the morning. A check on showed no hope for a letup so I changed my plans in favor of an indoor workout.

If I had gone to Bethpage State Park I would have targeted 8 miles, but I knew that spending that much time on a treadmill would make me a candidate for the insane asylum. I decided that I would run for 60 minutes, including some time for warm-up and cool down. At the start, the temperature in the guest room seemed pleasant, and I had my trusty water bottle to help keep me hydrated. At the ten minute mark I still felt relatively dry and I wondered how long I would go until the sweating began.

By the time I reached the 15 minute mark I felt like I was in a sauna and I questioned whether I could really go the full 60 minutes. By 20:00 I noted that I was 1/3 my planned time and my running shorts were just about soaked through with sweat. I didn't bother wearing a shirt because I could get away without one indoors. I regretted that I'd forgotten to wear a HRM. It would have been interesting to record my physical response to the heat and humidity over the duration of my run.

I kept drinking water and by the 30 minute/halfway mark I knew that I'd be okay for 30 more. Passing 40 minutes was a welcome milestone and I reached five miles a little before the 50 minute mark. I continued for another 5 minutes and then dropped my pace and finished with a five minute cool down at around 11 minutes per mile.

I wasn't delirious when I stepped off the treadmill but I was sweating profusely and I made a beeline to the refrigerator and grabbed some Gatorade G2.  The very humid conditions, heat and 60 minutes of motion were exactly what I was after today. The conditions at the Dirty Sock 10K are usually brutal, not unlike today's. It occurred to me near the end of my run that I must be in decent shape to have gone through today's workout without quitting or collapsing in exhaustion afterward. I'm hoping that hard workouts like the ones this weekend will yield a good result on race day.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Making plans for summer racing

It looks like we'll be experiencing hot temperatures and daily thunderstorms this week. I'm resting today for the first time since last Tuesday. If the skies remain clear we may head over to Bethpage State Park to ride bikes. It's been a few weeks since I've done a 7+ mile run so perhaps that will be a goal for Wednesday or Thursday.

I'm still on the fence whether I'll race in July. I've never competed in July, mostly because it's such a hot month and there aren't any essential races. I'll look again at the LI race schedule to see if there's anything that seems fun. If not, perhaps July will be dedicated to training for the heat, humidity and seemingly infinite last mile of August's Dirty Sock 10K.

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