Showing posts with label dark. Show all posts
Showing posts with label dark. Show all posts

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Raw, dark, windy, rainy run

Rain puddle running
Today's run (street): 5.6 miles

Last night the kids hosted a Halloween party and I did my best to avoid all the holiday related food and the tray of candy by the door. This resulted in a late night, but I wasn't able to sleep later than 5:30 this morning. I only had a small cup of coffee when I got up, because I expected to be out running in short order. I looked outside and saw torrents of rain hitting the deck and decided to wait it out rather than do a long run on the treadmill.

The time went from 6:30...7:30... and on, but the rain continued to come down. When my wife got on the treadmill to start her run I saw that the rain had slowed down. I took advantage of this break and put on a few layers of running gear. Based on the weather report that said 40° temps and 14 MPH winds, I went for track pants and a long sleeve top.

Before I headed outside, I added my ASICS lightweight running rain jacket. I was sure that the rain would return at some point and I wanted to minimize soakage. It took forever to get a signal on my Garmin - the progress bar kept stopping short by a millimeter before dropping back to the halfway point. After 10 minutes of that nonsense, I decided to start without the GPS locked in, since I could capture distance later with Gmaps.

The combination of thermal and waterproof layers worked well and I followed a loop that was never more than a half mile from my house. I figured that if the skies opened up, I could get back in 5 minutes or less from any point. I know my neighborhood well enough to estimate distance without looking at my watch and I noticed that it took longer than expected to record the first mile. I guessed that the problem locking in all the satellites was affecting accuracy.

It was cold, dark and gray and the rain gained intensity as I went on. The jacket's hood did a good job of keeping me dry, but it kept slipping forward and blocking my peripheral vision. I stepped in a puddle and was glad I wore Smartwool socks which are still thermal when wet. The winds grew stronger and it started raining harder. I was determined to complete at least five miles and ignored everything except the road ahead and any signs of approaching cars.

Looping the loop
I moved along fairly well considering the conditions and debated whether to add another loop to get me over six miles. Instead, I stretched out my last two loops into connected streets and ended up covering 5.6 miles before returning to my warm dry house. I was a little disappointed in my performance. After measuring my true distance and calculating pace, I had hopes that I broke 10 mins/mile but that didn't happen. I guess I can blame the wind and the rain, but I know it was really my stride and cadence.

According to the weather reports, tomorrow will be cold, but at least the rain will be gone. I'd like to get out earlier than today and do at least six miles. I probably won't make 16 miles for the week, but at least I'll be getting in a couple of decent base runs.

I'm sending my most positive thoughts to friends KWL, NL, FS and other friends who are running the NYC Marathon tomorrow. I hope you all have great races and fantastic experiences. Enjoy every moment, stay hydrated and don't over-layer!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

The curious case of the runner in the nightime

Thanks for nothing
Today's run (treadmill): 25 minutes

A short treadmill run at 4:00 AM on a weekday can sometimes seem harder than a six mile hilly run on a weekend. Going from sleeper to runner in just a couple of minutes is tough, but I've managed to fit in at least one mid week treadmill workout over the last few months.

This morning felt a little easier than in prior weeks. That may be due to the lowering humidity. The time went by fast and I was surprised how quickly I reached the 15 minute point. I considered taking advantage of feeling that good and increasing my speed. I thought about the long drive to my office, the busy day that lay ahead and the possibility of wearing myself out. I stayed with my normal pace.

Later, as I made my way through the neighborhood, I came up behind a guy running in the middle of the road. It was still very dark, but he had no reflective gear. I didn't see him until I was practically on top of him. My headlights were lighting up his path and yet he didn't make any attempt to move out of my way. I drove behind him at 4 MPH until it was time to take a left, while he continued going straight. I wanted to roll my window down and say something, but I've learned that fools can't be taught.

I've been thinking about returning to 4:00 AM outdoor runs with my reflective vest and headlamp. After today's experience, I think I'll stick with my treadmill workouts.

Friday, October 10, 2014

A return to the darkness

Today's run (street): 3.4 miles

In my last post, I mentioned a Runner's World web post that was similar to one that I wrote a couple of years ago. The subject matter, gender equality in racing, was provocative enough to prompt a reader to leave a long, thoughtful comment. The funny thing about that is the reader left it on She Is Out Running's (SIOR) blog.

This was no accident. The commenter said that he views SIOR, The Petite Pacer (TPP) and this blog as a set. I now pronounce us the United Blogs of Long Island! Feel free to leave comments for any of us anywhere. We'll figure it out.

Today is Friday and that means working from home and finally being able to run outside. This morning I decided to get in gear early (pun intended :) and go out for my run. This wasn't a 4:00 AM adventure, actually closer to 6:30, but still dark outside. I put on my reflective vest and started my headlamp. It's hard to tell how strong the beam is until you are outside, but since I haven't used it in almost a year I didn't expect too much illumination.

Stepping outside in the darkness brought back a lot of memories of when this was a daily occurrence. I acquired a signal quickly on my Garmin and off I went. The neighborhood was still quiet except for the town recycling trucks that are driven by maniacs. I always try to avoid the streets along their route. If I can't, I'll stick to the sidewalks.

The batteries in the headlamp will need to be replaced as the light was fairly weak. There was plenty of light from the full moon, so the lamp served mostly as a way to make me more visible to cars. A little before 7:00 AM, I could see the sun starting to rise. By then, the middle school buses were on the road, the streets began to fill with cars and I was done with my run.

Even though some elements of this morning's run were similar to my 4:00 AM running days, today had a different feel. Back then, everything was timed to the split second and I ran the same route every day at around the same pace (9 min/mile). A minute's slip could impact my whole morning routine that included making an early train. I only needed to commute as far as my home office after today's workout.

Tomorrow morning is supposed to be rainy, so I'm not sure what I'll do. Sunday's weather looks better and SIOR, TPP and I are planning to get out for a few miles. It will be a momentous occasion for the United Blogs of LI.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Surprise encounter at 4:00 AM

Today's run (street): 2.5 miles

I've probably done close to 250 runs at 4:00 AM. Through that time I've seen a handful of walkers or people leaving their houses. A couple of years ago I was spooked to see what seemed to be a race walker pass me like an apparition one morning. There was no acknowledgement of any kind from this person who slipped by less than two feet away from me.

This morning I had my second close encounter and it was a different experience. I was running well and had just reached the halfway point of my route when I noticed movement about 200 feet ahead of me. It was very dark and this person was out of headlamp range, but I thought it might be someone walking in the opposite direction. Suddenly, as I rounded a bend, I saw it was another runner, heading my way. A young guy, teens or 20's, no reflective wear or headlamp. Not even a shirt. We got within ten feet of each other before he reacted with a startled sideways jump and a gasp.

He quickly realized that I was just another runner on the road and I yelled a friendly "Good Morning!" and he responded in kind. He must have been in the zone not to notice me until we practically met but I understand that as well. 4:00 AM running can be a little hypnotising until you get used to it. I'm hoping that my shirtless friend learned a lesson today about staying alert. Perhaps the next time I see him he'll have his own headlamp and reflective vest.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Back to the streets and the headlamp

Today's run (street): 2.75 miles

Yesterday was another exhausting day and last night I was seriously concerned that I'd have the energy to run in the morning. I laid out the running gear I'd need for a cold outdoor run in the dark, including various clothing layers, reflective vest, gloves, hat, socks, headlamp and running shoes. I tried to imagine my state of mind for the morning when it came time to put it all on. When the time did come I wasn't any more ready to run, but I knew I had to do it. So I did.

It was my first 4:00 AM run on the street in 2011 and I reasoned that it would be better than the treadmill. I stepped out and watched the moonlit neighborhood unfold as the garage door rose on its rails. It was a familiar scene though it had been a while. Without hesitation, I hit start on the Garmin and headed up the road. The air was chilly and the winds seemed to be coming from multiple directions. I was cold but not uncomfortable and though I would have appreciated milder breezes I was fine with the conditions. It's been a long enough time that I'd forgotten the timing of my morning routes and I ended up going a few minutes longer than normal. I got back feeling refreshed and happy that I'd once again gone out at a time when most people were still in their last hours of sleep. Even though I've made my piece with the treadmill it was good to be back running, once again, on terra firma.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Moonlight Paranoia

I awoke seconds before my alarm went off and stared in disbelief at the clock that flashed 3:50 AM. I went to bed last night exhausted and as I headed to the guest room to change into running gear I had to remind myself that running is something that I choose to do. By the time I finished preparing for the run I had transitioned from sleepy to semi-awake. I retied my right shoe and soon regretted that action when I took my first steps into the street and felt a sharp pinching at the top of my foot. Since I'm on a tight schedule in the morning I chose to run with the pain rather than stop and restart. I figured the shoe would eventually loosen up enough to displace the pressure.

That worked out okay and while I dealt with the pain I was distracted by the shadows cast by house floodlights, street lights and secondary shadows that came from the almost full moon. I'm already a little paranoid running around the neighborhood in the dark at 4 AM. The effect of two asymmetrically placed shadows, one ahead to my right and the other just in sight slightly behind me, created a sense that I was being closely followed. The quiet of the night punctuated only by the spitting sound of sprinkler systems and the thwacking sound of my own running shoes is both creepy and serene. With the addition of these shadows it was even creepier and much less serene. All the same I didn't worry much about it once I figured out the source of my paranoia. It helped that my shoe loosened up enough to make the majority of my run pain free.

I ended up covering 2.5 miles at 9:07 and I felt very good during the run. I'm discovering that hills and long elevated stretches are easier to take when it's 50 degrees outside. I'm really hoping for cool weather on October 25th. I have a feeling my experience at the marathon will be shaped as much by the conditions of the day as by my own readiness.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

BMW's look evil at 4:00 AM

Last week I borrowed a reflective vest, headlamp and tail light from Adventure Girl so I could try an early morning run outside. I'll admit that I was somewhat intimidated by the idea of running alone in what is the middle of the night to most people. I got up this morning and put on my running gear, taking some extra time as I figured out the right way to wear the vest and resizing the head lamp so that it fit around my big head. The last task was to attach the blinking red LED to the back making me visible from all directions. That done, I made my way out to the driveway for a few minutes of stretching before hitting the road.

As I turned off my street onto the road past the middle school I was surprised to see how well lit my neighborhood is at 4:05 AM. I felt really good as I ran, it was almost effortless and the temperature, dry, low 40's, was perfect. I also appreciated that there was no sun bearing down on me contributing to body heat.

As I exited the middle school grounds I was actually startled by the reflected light of a parked BMW whose Xenon headlights glowed malevolently in response to the blue LED from the head lamp. It looked like an eerie blue Jack-O-Lantern. I ended up seeing a number of other cars that reflected this way during the run. My goal was to duplicate the 2 mile circuit that I ran on Sunday and it went by quickly. Or so it seemed. As I ran the final leg up the service road that feeds into my neighborhood I upped my speed hoping to finish with an impressive overall pace. I finished the 2.04 mile run (the Garmin is spot on accurate now) averaging 9:20/mile. Clearly running in the dark alters your perception of speed because I would have sworn that I was tracking at a 9:00 or below pace.

In the end it didn't matter. It was one of the best morning runs I've had and I felt completely safe. I only encountered a car delivering the NY Times to homes and one truck during my route. Otherwise it was quiet and peaceful, just me, some scary car faces and lots of lawn sprinkler activity. I'll definitely invest in my own night running gear. It's a great alternative to the treadmill and it can be a good way to beat the summer heat for my daily runs.

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