Showing posts with label family. Show all posts
Showing posts with label family. Show all posts

Sunday, November 26, 2017

The Runsketeers discuss their interesting ancestors

L to R: KWL, PM, SIOR, TPP, ER
Today's run (Bethpage State Park): 3.1 miles

It has been a month and five days since I've posted anything on this blog. I can't really say why I'd stopped. I've continued to run, following the same schedule and covering the same distances, but my interest in documenting those runs had waned. It wasn't until today that I felt compelled to resume my posting and that's because the mighty Runsketeers all came together this morning for the first time since July. That's just crazy.

The last time we all got together, I ended my post with, "I'm looking forward to our next Runsketeer outing. Hopefully the humidity will be a little lower than yesterday's 89%." Well, my hopes were realized, because no one was complaining about the humidity today. We were supposed to get a lot of wind but it wasn't a factor this morning. A little chilly, but overall good running weather.

Shady shot along the trail
We agreed to meet at the Bethpage lot at 8:15 AM. Then it was between 8:30 and 8:45. Then it was 9:00. I won't say who kept changing the time, but it wouldn't be hard to guess. SIOR was probably frustrated that the park wasn't charging an entry fee because she likes to fight with the toll taker there. I always get my fee waved because I'm not pugnacious. Everyone arrived on time and we quickly made our way up the hill, turning left to follow the northern trail. SIOR and TPP took off in a flash while KWL and I ran a lot easier. We kept it to 3.2 miles and had great conversations on the path.

Once we got back to the lot, we convoyed to Starbucks for coffee and second breakfast (for me anyway). You'd think we would have spent time catching up on everything that had happened in the last five months, but we went right to what was on our minds at the moment: politics, races, racing t-shirts, running magazines, and KWL's and my long history working together. We also collectively agreed that Yonkers is a dump.


The usual suspects at the usual place
About halfway through our coffee time, we were joined by Professor Mike who had competed in Rob's Run this morning while we were at Bethpage. Rob's Run is a trail race that happens at Stillwell Woods. It's a grueling run but PM looked as refreshed as the rest of us. He had a Rob's Run thermos that was a giveaway to participants. That's what started the conversation about race shirts. TPP uses her old race shirts as cleaning rags (blasphemy) and PM raffles them off to his students. I've kept every one I've earned, even the hideously ugly ones.

At some point conversation turned to almost naked fathers and grandfathers. This started when PM showed us a picture of his dad from the 40's wearing little more than a loincloth. His muscles had muscles. KWL pointed out that was long before steroids. PM's dad was a circus performer who was once on the Ernie Kovacs show where he swung on a trapeze while eating pizza. Then SIOR showed us a picture of her half naked grandfather who was a professional wrestler back in the 30's or 40's.

Capping that off, TPP told us about her dad who is an amazing engineer who invented the jet ski and developed a bunch of other cool stuff while working for an avionics company. He still creates stuff like 3-D printers and robots. He does all that fully clothed. Amazing accomplishments from the Runsketeer lineage.

It was great to see my buds and get in my fourth run in a row, starting with Thanksgiving day. I may have run on Wednesday, but that was a lot of turkey and pie ago and my memory is shaky. I'd like to continue my streak but the work week makes it tough. I hope the Runsketeers don't go months again before we run together. We can't allow that. At the very least, we should all do the Hangover Run on January 1.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Fun with friends, Dim Sum and outrunning a drone

Run dad run!
Today's run (street): 4.4 miles
Yesterday's run (street): 2.25 miles 
Friday's run (street): 3.2 miles

Vacations are great, especially at the beginning. I took Friday off and it has been a busy three days so far. I kicked off vacation with a run around my neighborhood and followed that with a swim. It doesn't get much better than that, running-wise. That night we went to local fair and watched some spectacular fireworks later in the evening. Not a bad way to start a summer holiday.

Saturday morning's schedule was very tight and I went out early with the intention of covering just a couple of miles. I picked a few random streets and kept going until I reached the two mile mark and then headed home. I needed to get to the car dealership, buy a car for my son, and be home by noon to greet our guests. Somehow I managed to do that, although the car negotiation got a little tense and my daughter had to watch me thrash things out with the entire management team for an hour.

I got back home a few minutes after our guests KWL and his sister H arrived with a sizable amount of Dim Sum from Lake Pavilion restaurant in Flushing. With little delay, we got settled in the dining room and had a fantastic meal followed by an incredibly good (and huge) peach tart. It was all so good, and worth every carb and calorie.

Before the feast
And after
After Dim Sum, we walked to the neighboring middle school where KWL put his new DJI Spark into action. This drone has a high definition video camera and the controller connects to a smartphone. so you can see everything the drone sees while it's flying. It was amazing to watch the Spark rise up (and up) and see our earthbound crew getting smaller and smaller. At one point KWL had the drone track me as I ran around the field.

Rise of the Spark
This morning I got out a little later than I'd hoped, but the clouds were low and thick so I didn't pay a sun penalty. The temperature was cooler than yesterday, but the humidity was unpleasant and I didn't even try for speed. I avoided my usual route which made the experience marginally more interesting. Since I'm on vacation next week I plan to break away from my neighborhood roads as much as possible. We had a great time with KWL and H and we look forward to seeing them again soon. Next time the Runsketeers get together I think we may be joined by a new member who can really fly.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Runsketeer birthday surprise at Starbucks

Happy birthday to me!
Today's run (street): 3.3 miles
Yesterday's run (treadmill): 3.2 miles

Last weekend the ER family celebrated my birthday with a dinner, even though my actual birthday was this past Wednesday. Mrs. ER informed me that we were going to bookend things with a walk on the trail in Bethpage today. What she didn't tell me was that she and the Runsketeers had concocted a plan more devious than you could ever imagine. Actually, it wasn't devious at all. It was really very nice.

Knowing that we would be heading to Bethpage fairly early, I got out at 7:30 AM for a neighborhood run. Yesterday's rain kept me indoors on the treadmill. Despite this morning's threatening skies, I wanted to run outside. The weather was a mild 50°, with enough wind to cool things into the 40's. Humidity was high, but with the low clouds blocking the sun, it didn't feel uncomfortable. I added a little more distance to my standard 3.2 mile route and felt great throughout the entire run. Friday's treadmill session was similarly positive and I'm hoping this trend will continue.

Pre-surprise walk on the Bethpage trail
We made our way to the Bethpage trail and parked on Colonial Road, just north of Haypath. I knew that SIOR was leading a Life Time run on the bike path this morning and wasn't all that surprised to see her and TPP bounding down the path. They were in quite a hurry and TPP was uncharacteristically impatient to go. I wouldn't have noticed at all if SIOR was the impatient one. I learned later why, and that the ER family was in on what was to come.

We finished our walk and made our way to Starbucks. Mrs. ER told me that she and the kids wanted to us to visit Bethpage and Starbucks just as I often do with my  running buddies. I was happy to comply. When we approached the shopping center that houses Runsketeer Starbucks, Mrs. ER's phone beeped and my daughter grabbed it before I could see it. That turned out to be SIOR texting her to say that they had arrived. While the ER family made their way into Starbucks, TPP and SIOR were right nearby, sneaking behind pillars and garbage cans to hide their presence. There's even a video of that. I'm surprised it wasn't Livestreamed.

Starbucks was packed and there wasn't even room for the four of us to sit down. I popped into the men's room and when I came out I saw TPP and then SIOR who yelled "surprise!" It turned out that Mrs. ER had been planning with these two since February to arrange coffee with my Runska-friends. It took me a moment to figure out that this was not a coincidence. We arranged ourselves around a table that had opened up when its occupants saw that the Runsketeers needed it more. We have that kind of power.

I was really happy to see my friends. SIOR was wearing her 2017 Boston Marathon jacket that she earned on Monday, completing her second Boston effort and qualifying for yet another Boston race. Check out her entertaining race report to get the whole story. TPP has recently started a new job and I was very glad that she was able to join us. The D'Artagnan of our group, KWL, also ran Boston last week. He's in Hong Kong right now, but he was with us in spirit.

The official Runsketeer coffee mug
While Mrs. ER collected coffee and food orders, TPP and SIOR presented me with birthday cards and presents. I loved the cards and TPP gave me a potential fortune (lottery tickets) and SIOR gave me an awesome coffee mug with my favorite Runsketeer picture. Emblazoned on the other side was the motto, "All for one and Run for all!" It will be my post-run Starbucks cup going forward. I'd been too intimated to scratch off the lottery tickets because I hadn't held one since the 1980's and wasn't sure how they worked. I let my daughter do it. Despite some close calls, I will not be winning $1,000 a week for life.

Once coffee was served (along with that chocolate cake that I've been thinking about since SIOR and TPP ran on goat-less mountain a few weeks ago), the six of us spent a couple of hours talking and laughing non-stop. As much as I like the running part, it's the post run time that I value the most. We covered an awful lot of subjects and I took advantage of the fact that SIOR is a certified elite running coach and trainer. I interrogated her about the best approach to getting back into racing shape and will probably do a 5K with this crew in July.

I think we could have gone on for two more hours, but practicality prevailed and we needed to say our goodbyes. We did remember to get our selfie, using my daughter's new iPhone that takes much better pictures than my Android phone. I had a great birthday, thanks to Mrs. ER, and it was fun to be surprised twice by my Runsketeer buddies.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

O Canada and fitting in some running

Land of maple leafs, moose and fun
Today's run (street): 3.3 miles
Sunday's run (treadmill): 20 minutes
Friday's run (street): 3.25 miles
Wednesday's run (treadmill): 30 minutes

My running over the last week has been a blur. The only clarity being today after we returned from a trip. I worked from home on Wednesday and did a treadmill run. I got outside and around the neighborhood on Friday. I needed to fit those workouts into busy work days and didn't do a good job of tracking my treadmill mileage.

View of the Green Mountains
We headed to Montreal on Saturday and made a stop in northern Vermont to see my brother and his family, along with my mother who was visiting from Florida. We were only passing through for a few hours, but we made the best of it and the kids loved spending time with their cousins. All too soon we were on our way to Canada.

Cool happenings at Place des Arts
We stayed near McGill University in area that was adjacent to a lot of nice restaurants and close to the Place des Arts. I did a treadmill run in the morning on a machine that was not up to my standards for a fitness center unit. I was tired from travel and struggled to get through 20 minutes at an easy pace. Well it looked easy on the display, but it felt much faster. I ended up covering 16,000 steps that day, so I didn't mind the short workout.

Swim, Bike, Run in the Old Port
We met up with friends who live in the city and had a great time with them. While we were in the Old Port we stumbled into the middle of the Montreal International Triathlon. There were runners and cyclists flying along sectioned areas and swimmers in the St. Lawrence River. We needed to sprint to get past at the cross points.

Montreal has a lot of energy and it reminds me so much of Europe. My brother had mentioned that Les Habitants "didn't get the memo" that smoking is pas bien. Unfortunately that proved to be true. On the positive side, we covered a lot of interesting ground and had some great meals. We were sorry when we had to head back home.

When we got back, I went out for a run around my local streets to cap off a really nice mini vacation. My running was back to where it was prior to that hotel run and I did well considering the heat and humidity of the day. I really would have liked to run outside when we were away, but the timing didn't work out. The next time we go back - and we will - I'll definitely do my running on the rue.

Friday, December 25, 2015

Non-traditional Christmas day run

Wacky weather: roses on Christmas day
Today's run (street): 3.75 miles

Nothing says Christmas like 94% humidity on top of 57° weather. That's okay, at least it was dry and clear for my morning run. As expected, there were few cars on the road when I went out. I only saw one other runner and a few people out walking.

As I made my way around, I saw people packing cars with gifts or arriving at houses to drop them off. I could hear people's voices and Christmas music coming from homes as I passed them by. The warm weather didn't match the holiday, but everything else felt like Christmas. I pretty much floated through my run and was disappointed with my overall pace. This run was really more about the experience than performance, so I didn't let it bother me too much.

Before the stir
Since we don't follow Christmas traditions, like having a big family meal with turkey, ham or fish, we went a different way. My daughter and I made tofu stir-fry which is more modern vegetarian than old testament traditional. It was a big hit and we finished with homemade frozen banana sorbet with chocolate truffle sauce. Time to start watching calories again.

I'm not exactly streaking, but I have strung four nice workouts in a row and I plan to continue that through New Year's, if possible. We have guests coming to stay this weekend and I'm hoping I can get in my runs without disrupting our plans. I just need to get out and back before everyone wakes up because I'm the only one who knows how to use the coffee machine.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

One run interrupted, one run horrible

Today's run (street): 3.3 miles
Yesterday's run (street): 3.2 miles

Happy Halloween. It's hard top be spooky when you go out trick or treating at noon, but I saw a lot of little witches and goblins during today's mid-day run. We have weekend visitors and I delayed my workout so I could spend time with our guests this morning. It may have been the late start, but this was possibly my worst run of the year. More on that in a bit.

I had hopes of covering close to 20 miles this week like I typically did a couple of years ago. My vacation day on Wednesday got me off to a good start and I added to that on Friday morning. Since I work from home most Fridays, I use the time I normally commute to get in my miles.

That system had been working well until one of my work colleagues decided that early Friday morning was the perfect time to reach me. In those cases, I've either let the call go to voice mail or kept it very short. I was about a mile into my run yesterday when I heard the phone ring. I almost ignored it, but once I saw who it was, I knew I needed to answer. Ten minutes later was on my way, although my momentum was lost and a new work issue was on my mind.

Today was a different story. I wasn't feeling my best throughout the morning and hoped my energy would return by the time I was ready to hit the road. I got off to a slow start as I left my house, so I figured I'd keep it easy. I could tell right away that I wouldn't be up for my targeted five miles but hoped I'd gain strength throughout the run. Instead, I felt increasingly fatigued and even reached a point where I wanted to stop. Although I only covered a little more than three miles, the run felt endless.

I was thrilled when I finally reached my driveway. The run was a disaster, but at least I got it done. I looked forward to a relaxing afternoon that eventually gave way to a house full of Halloween-partying teenagers. It's been a noisy evening.

Tomorrow is a big day for two of my friends, but for different reasons. KWL and his wife will be running the NYC marathon and I'm wishing them perfect race conditions. Runsketeer SIOR will be celebrating yet another birthday (she's quite elderly) and plans to watch the marathon from her favorite spot in Queens. I'm hoping that tomorrow's run goes better than today's. It could hardly go worse.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Early run on an early Father's Day

Obligatory selfie at the business park
Today's run (street): 4.2 miles

Although Father's Day is officially on Sunday, we always celebrate it on Saturday. That gives my family an entire day to spoil me without the specter of the workweek starting the next day. On top of that, my son is still studying for Regents and finals that he'll finish on Tuesday so Sunday will be a big review day. So today is Father's Day (observed).

We had lots to do before lunch and I thought I would miss out on a chance to run in the morning. Like yesterday, I got out early and managed to get my miles in by 7:30. I'm planning to run with my buddies tomorrow morning and I'm targeting about 6 miles for that. I decided to cover less distance on today's run to ensure that I stayed on schedule.

I got my GPS signal and went directly over to the business park to run a few loops. Although the elevation loss and gain is the same in either direction, I prefer to run this route clockwise. That allows me to get most of the gain out of the way in the first third of the loop. I did two full and one partial circle before turning back for home.

As I mentioned in yesterday's post, I'm still struggling to generate speed. The perceived effort I'm putting in feels higher than the numbers I'm producing. Today's weather was as good as I could ask -- 70°, moderate wind and relatively low humidity, so I would have expected a little better performance.

We had a nice lunch in Huntington this afternoon and more Father's Day things will happen tonight. I'm looking forward to seeing the Runsketeers in the morning, although I may be seeing them through sheets of rain.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Two runs and a Trailview hike

The view from Mt. Olympus
Yesterdays run (street): 3.25 miles
Today's run (street): 3.4 miles

The first story I saw on the local news this morning was a feature on the LI Marathon/Half Marathon. The race happened today and if it weren't for my current injury, I'd probably be participating in one of the races. One year ago, I was in my last two weeks of training for the Brooklyn Half Marathon. That turned out to be a disappointing performance, but it was a really fun experience. These days I feel like I'm a million miles from doing that. 13.1 anyway.

I'm trying to maintain some perspective in terms of my current running expectations. Three weeks ago I would have been thrilled to run a mile without experiencing acute and constant pain in my hamstring. Last weekend I made great progress with my recovery with a couple of slow but mostly pain-free workouts. I've made further gains this weekend, although they weren't as dramatic as last week's.

I also hoped to improve my speed over Saturday's and got off to a good start. There was residual discomfort and tightness in my leg but no real pain. I moved along well and tried to focus on opening up my stride and getting more power off my back leg. Like yesterday, it felt like a tough workout. After mapping today's run, I calculated my pace. My improvement over yesterday: one second per mile!

Another carved tree in Trailview
The weekend weather has been superb so my son and I decided to visit Trailview park for an early afternoon hike. We like Trailview for its simplicity and the fact that it has a few technical sections. A couple of minutes into the hike, we saw a large oak tree with the word PROM carved into it in six inch high letters. We were flabbergasted, disgusted and saddened to see that someone had carved a swastika inside the letter O. There was more vandalism in other trees. My son said we shouldn't let someone's hate and ignorance ruin our experience.

We continued our hike until we reached "Mount Olympus" and watched from that overlook before turning back. I did pretty well on the steep sections and I think the uneven terrain gave my quads and hamstrings some sorely needed work.

I may not be ready for a Half Marathon or even a 10K right now, but I am glad to be running outdoors again. Three more workouts on the test machines next week will further help my fitness without providing any aggravating impact. My motto these days is, "No pain, my gain."

Sunday, April 12, 2015

The lost workout

Onion volcanoes and warm sake -
Emerging Sister-In-Law (L), Mrs. Emerging Runner (R)
Today's workout (elliptical): 45 minutes

In the almost-seven years that I've been running, I've prided myself on my meticulous process to record workout metrics. I can look back on Garmin Connect to see the detail about every run and elliptical session that I've done since early 2010. If I want to go back further than that, I can look at MapMyRun stats, or see my earliest running data on the Nike+ site. I also have years of Daily Mile records that capture different information like shoe mileage.

In addition to all this, I can look at the Emerging Runner archives for measured mileage on every run. All this data recording takes time, and over the last year my record keeping has gone from meticulous to casual. I stopped recording my runs in Daily Mile last July and most of the time I don't even wear my Garmin when I'm on the elliptical. It's because of this that I cannot remember whether I did a workout on Friday.

I've been on vacation this week, but my time off has been more busy than relaxing. On top of that, I needed to go into my office on Wednesday. That made this vacation more like a couple of long weekends. Friday afternoon my brother and his family came to stay for a few days and my dad and his wife came out on Saturday afternoon. Later we went out to a local hibachi place and had a great time, but I don't recommend the lukewarm sake administered via a squeeze bottle.

With all that going on, I didn't have the opportunity to do a workout on Saturday, because our guest room is also our fitness room. It's also my office. Maybe we should take page from the local elementary school and call it the multi-purpose room.

So I may have done an elliptical session on Friday morning. I know I did a workout this afternoon. My pain from the herniated disc has been manageable, although it does give me a small zap if I move my leg in a certain way. I've been applying heat and that seems to help. It's no worse after today's elliptical session than it was before I started.

My biggest concern is that I'm returning to a week of commuting. That means three hours a day sitting in a driving position. I'm convinced that driving has been a factor in this disc compression. My standing desk (or as they put it, "stand up desk adaptation") gets installed on Monday. I'm hoping that will help me counteract all that drive time. I'll know more about the problem on Friday after my MRI.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Lots of company on a neighborhood run

The neighborhood gang
Today's run (street): 5.3 miles

My schedule this week threw off my options for weekday morning runs. I've committed to running at least once during the week, plus on Friday mornings when I generally work from home. Yesterday required a trip into the office, so I missed that running opportunity. The only workout I've done since last Sunday was Thursday's 20 minute treadmill run that I did at a 4% grade.

I got home early on Friday and considered doing a run. We were expecting guests later in the afternoon so I decided not to do that. I didn't want to get sweaty and have to shower so close to when people were arriving. We had a nice evening that included my wife's college friend who she hadn't seen for almost 20 years.

This morning I got out early, happy to see that the rain would hold off until the afternoon. The temperature was in the low 60's and the heavy cloud cover blocked direct sun. These conditions brought out a lot of people, including dog walkers, run-walkers, walker walkers and runners. I saw the same woman in pink four different times along my route. It seemed as if she was running my exact route from the opposite direction.

I was pleased with the feel of my run. As usual, I started easy and picked up speed after a couple of miles. I'd planned to run between 3-4 miles so I'd be back before our weekend guests got up, but I felt so good I decided to run five-plus.

Tomorrow is supposed to be a better day weather-wise, and I'm looking forward to another early run. We have a big family event happening tonight so I'll have plenty of carbs to fuel my morning workout.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Morning run and Trailview hike

            Today's route on an old school map
Today's run (street): 6 miles

I came into the weekend with two expectations for running - one that I'd do a speed oriented run and the other that I'd run someplace more interesting than my neighborhood. Neither happened, but I did manage to cover almost 12 miles.

This morning I waited too long to get out and started my run at 8:30 when the temperature was already 68°. I started out easy and figured I'd pick up the pace once I'd loosened up. Afterward, I was surprised to see that the Garmin showed my first mile to be the second fastest of the run. At around the 30 minute mark, I checked my heart rate and saw that it was at 75% of max - too low for what I'd hoped to get out of the workout. I pushed further until I reached 80% and tried to hold it there.

There was a time when I'd comfortably average 85% max on a training run, but holding it above 80% today was hard to sustain. Despite the higher effort, I did enjoy the run. I wanted to cover six miles and did exactly that, with my last mile clearly my fastest. Overall, I beat yesterday's run by 30 seconds a mile.

The Emerging Hiker, Jr.
It turned out to be a beautiful day, so my son and I went over to Trailview in the early afternoon for a hike. That section of the Greenbelt trail has some steep inclines and descents and we took them on without a problem. He and I have been hiking that trail for years and he always wants to follow the toughest routes. He's almost my height now and when we run the trails, I can't keep up with him. But I can still outlast him.

I'm satisfied with the weekend's running even if I didn't end up following my plan. The unplanned hike was a fun addition and helped make up for all the hills I missed by staying in my neighborhood.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Berkshires, Vermont, treadmills and loops

Seemed like a good idea at the time
Today's run (street): 6.4 miles

Our treadmill is in tough shape but it still does the job. Our technician recently told us that it could go at any time. My wife depends on the treadmill for her daily workout and I'm a lot rougher on the machine than she is. I only use it as a last resort because I don't want to contribute to its demise. I did use it on Tuesday, because we were leaving on a trip that morning. Time was tight and I wasn't sure how (or if) I'd have an opportunity to run while we were away.

My second run of the week happened at our hotel in the Berkshires. I did a little more than three miles on their Precor treadmill and really appreciated the experience. There's a big difference between running on a mid-range consumer treadmill like our Sole F63 and a fitness center grade treadmill like a Precor. The Precor felt more solid and stable and I seemed to be able to run faster on it than on our home unit.

When the time comes to replace the Sole, I'll consider investing in a brand like Precor. They actually have a few models under $2,000, which is still pricey, but could prove to be a better value when amortized over a longer period. Our Sole F63 was recommended by the leading consumer product rating company, but after four years steady use, it's totally worn out. The Sole can be folded and put away to save space, a feature we've never used. I think we'll go with non-folding unit next time, because those units are probably more durable.

I didn't get a chance to run the rest of the week, but we covered a lot of ground in western Massachusetts. We also spent time in northern Vermont with my brother and his family who took us to (among many places) the Ben & Jerry's factory. It was great seeing them, along with my mom who was also up visiting. Due to all that, I haven't posted since last Sunday.

Loop-de-loop
This morning I got out early in hopes of beating the humidity. I ran six one-mile loops around some adjacent roads because I wanted to be close to home if it started to rain hard. Despite the repetition, this route was perfect for the workout I had in mind. The miles seemed to go by faster than they do on a more spontaneous route. I was better able to focus on my thoughts while I ran on auto-pilot.

In terms of performance, I did much better than expected. The humidity that I'd hoped to avoid was high from the start, but the low clouds protected me from any direct sun. My running volume for the week is even lower than normal, but I will begin to pick up mileage by re-introducing 4:00 AM workouts next week. I'm glad I got out early today. The rain never came, but the humidity has continued to rise.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Two runs and a Runsketeer party

What the Runsketeers do when they don't run
Saturday's run (street): 5.2 miles
Sunday's run (street): 3.5 miles

This week has been a throwback to April. That's the last time I was able to put four runs together in as many days. I worked from home on Thursday and, since then, I've have been on a 4th of July break. My company also makes Monday a holiday, so I expect to extend my streak to five tomorrow morning.

It's been a fun long weekend and yesterday we hosted running friends TPP and SIOR (and family) for a late day summer fĂȘte. Although the "Runsketeers" get together for runs fairly often, we usually don't get an opportunity to converse until after our workouts. Those post-run Starbucks breaks have become our valued tradition. The only downside is that we're usually all pressed for time at that point. That's why it's great to get together on non-running days (more below).

I went out for a run on Saturday morning and the weather could not have been better. It was 64 degrees and sunny without the humidity we'd had a couple of days before. I wanted to cover at least five miles so I took a detour from my usual route and went west along Jericho Turnpike and then South on S. Oyster Bay Road. Due to fast moving traffic, I always stay on the sidewalks when I run on those roads. Jericho's sidewalks are well maintained, but the ones on South Oyster Bay Road are in very poor condition. It's almost like technical trail running, but instead of root hazards, it's broken concrete and mud.

I turned back into my neighborhood around the two mile mark and ran on the street from there. The average length of my local roads is a quarter mile, so it takes a lot of streets to cover five or six. When that's my goal, I usually go somewhere else for my run. Unfortunately, I didn't have enough time to do a destination run that included driving. Overall it was a nice workout - energizing but not overtaxing.

Our guests all arrived together and we hung out poolside for a few hours before heading inside. The kids, who ranged in age from 2 to 16 (including our two) had lots of fun and did not stop until after 8:00. I am proud to say that I had half a beer (that I split with SIOR's husband) and didn't fall asleep or lose my ability to converse. We had lots of food, great desserts and lively conversation. Even though me, my wife, TPP, SIOR and Mr. SIOR are all runners, we left that fun activity to the kids. It was great having everyone here and we really enjoyed the day.

This morning we had plans to get out early, so I agreed to cap my run at 3.5 miles for the sake of time. Weather conditions were again optimal, and I took it a little easier than Saturday. Despite the pizza, chicken, fruit salad (courtesy of TPP) and chocolate mousse cheesecake (courtesy of the SIOR family) I felt great on my run. Maybe it was the half can of Cold Smoke Missoula Scotch Ale that provided the energy (thanks again Adventure Girl!).

Friday, April 18, 2014

Cadence increasing, visibility high

Artist's rendering using Google Maps street view
Today's run (street): 3.3 miles

I missed Tuesday's run and needed to make it up today, although the Higdon plan called for a rest day. I felt ambivalent about today's workout and whether to go easier this morning after yesterday's semi-fast run. My motivation for speed was low, so I decided to let my level of intensity play out as I ran. Once I got the door I noticed the cold, but the winds that made Wednesday's conditions feel like 24°, were no longer a factor.

My Garmin hasn't performed well lately in terms signal accuracy, making my real-time pace data suspect. I've been running by feel and heart rate which seem to provide more useful feedback. The type of workouts that I've been doing over the last five weeks have helped me increase my cadence. As a result, I'm finding it easier to hold a decent pace on shorter runs. I kept my heart rate around 85% today and ended up running my distance in the high 9's. That's exactly what I wanted to do.

Today's run was unremarkable, except at one point when I was running down a long road near my house. I spotted my wife's car heading in my direction. She and the kids were going out to do errands and when they passed me, the windows were down and they were cheering for "The Emerging Runner." They saw me from a distance because I was wearing a bright orange running shirt. High visibility isn't just for safety!

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Race Report: 2014 GLIRC Runner's Edge Trail Relay

First leg off and running (TPP is third from left)
Today's run (GLIRC Bethpage 2x3 Trail Relay) 2 mile leg (Team finish time 56:05)

The weather finally cooperated enough to allow GLIRC to run the Runner's Edge Relay this morning. This race was originally scheduled for February, but the unrelenting snow had made the trails at Bethpage State Park unrunnable. A little rain and a few days of 40 degree temperatures cleared out most of the snow, although there were still a number of icy and muddy sections along the path.

As the name implies, this race is a team effort with each member running one 2 mile leg. I haven't been running well this year, but I did a few speed oriented treadmill runs earlier in the week and figured two miles wouldn't be much to worry about. I was wrong about that. Today's two miles didn't feel endless, but I had much more difficulty that I'd expected. It was too late to help my teammates, but I discovered a large gap in my conditioning that I hope to address as I begin my half marathon training.

Runsketeers pre-race
Our team was called the Runsketeers, consisting of me and friends the Petite Pacer (TPP) and She Is Out Running (SIOR). SIOR had little prior trail experience, but she's lightning on the road. She qualified for Boston this year and almost always wins or places in her age group. TPP is also very fast (she has racked up her share of podium spots) and takes performance training very seriously. Then there's me. I used to be competitive in my age group and I've done a lot of trail running. These days I struggle to break 28 minutes in a 5K.

With that lineup, we decided to have TPP run the first leg, me the second and have SIOR bring it home. The idea was that TPP would put us in a competitive position, I would do my best to hold that and SIOR's speed would help gain back minutes and position. We didn't really discuss it, but that was my reasoning.

TPP has been feeling under the weather this week and is still fighting a fever. She's a tough competitor but decided to run despite feeling sub-optimal. Our backup plan was either to have Mrs. ER run TPP's leg or have me or SIOR run two legs. We ended up with the original lineup intact. SIOR's marathon schedule had her running 10 miles this morning prior to the race. She anchored our team after doing that long run on the hilly Bethpage bike trail. These women are amazing.

Me and Mrs. ER after number pickup
Team ER arrived at Bethpage around 9:00 AM and I collected our bibs and t-shirts. SIOR and TPP arrived about 20 minutes later. It was nice bringing together my running friends and my family. Our talking kept our minds off the fact that it was very cold and we didn't have any place to keep warm. There didn't seem to be that many participants, but the crowd grew as we got closer to start time.

We headed over to the starting area a little before 10:00 AM and the race began on time. Each leg started on the open field and led to a path into the woods that eventually connected to the main trail. TPP and the others disappeared into the distance and I was still thinking this would be relatively easy as races go.
First hand-off, from TPP
It wasn't that long before we spotted TPP exiting out of the woods from the opposite side and soon enough we slapped hands and I took off for the second leg. I made the mistake of starting too fast and I paid for that later in the run. The trail conditions were (at best) wet and stable, and (at worse) muddy, icy, snowy, sandy and slippery. There were plenty of race volunteers along the course to keep us on track and warn us of trail dangers. I was disappointed to feel overtaxed midway through the leg and I slowed considerably when running in areas of deep mud and sand. Bethpage doesn't have hills like Stillwell, but this course did have its uphill challenges.
SIOR ready to fly
Seconds after the hand-off
I was not in great shape by the time I reached the field. My family described my "sprint" to the relay hand-off as "slow motion." SIOR took off quickly and gained back some minutes. We all gathered near the finish line chute and saw her come through after covering her leg in about 16 minutes. There are no results posted, but her effort undoubtedly helped our race position.

SIOR brings it in
PHOTOS COURTESY OF EMERGING RUNNER JR.
The reward for our hard work was found at the food table where they served muffins and cupcakes as big as softballs. They also offered hot chocolate and noodle soup that was described by my wife and kids as "fantastic." I had a great time although I am disappointed with the way I ran. I'm determined to get back to my prior level and I have a training plan that I think will help. My Runsketeer teammates both put in impressive runs and I'm honored to be part of that group.

I may return to Bethpage tomorrow to do my first Half training run. It's just five miles, but today was only two and that was no picnic.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

A weekend of Yin and Yang

Yesterday's run (treadmill): 3.2 miles
Today's workout (treadmill): 40 minutes

My workouts really varied over the last two days and were as different as Yin and Yang. Friday morning had us doing last minute preparations in anticipation of a house full of guests. That, plus calls related to a big business project, almost forced me to cancel yesterday's run. By 9:30 I was able to break away and switch to workout mode. With little time to run, I opted for the treadmill.

For my Yang run, I decided to go full tilt from the start and set the speed at 6.6 MPH. On my treadmill, that speed feels much faster than a 9:05 pace. Though I feared it might be a hard rate to sustain, I quickly settled into the pace and was able to hang on for the duration of the run. I would have liked to have had a longer recovery period after I'd finished, but I was soon out of time.

Our guests started arriving around noon. My brother and his family were down from Vermont and my mother and her friend were in from Florida. The remainder of the day was spent on non-running activities and after a big dinner and desserts, me and my sister-in law took a walk around the neighborhood. We moved along at a brisk pace, but it was relaxing compared to my run that morning.

I wanted to spend as much time as I could with our guests this morning so I delayed my run until everyone had left. After a busy afternoon, I decided that I needed today's workout to be more Yin than Yang. Running hard late in the afternoon would probably not have positioned me well for another run tomorrow morning. I'll admit that I felt too lazy to put on cold weather gear and the thought of an easy workout on the treadmill seemed far more appealing.

I set the treadmill's incline to 3% but gave myself a break on speed. I eventually brought down the incline when I felt some leg burn. The intention of this workout was not to push to the level of discomfort. Although it's still only Saturday, it feels like it's been a three day weekend. I mean that in the best way.

My brother brought me a Keurig brewer and sent some coffee to go with it. I'm looking forward to having a cup of Kenyan to fuel my morning run tomorrow. Good coffee and running, yet another perfect Yin and Yang.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Father, son and the Bethpage trails

Take a hike!
Today's workout (Bethpage State Park): Hike - 60 minutes

Without a daily run to start my morning, I had little excuse but to get directly to work. I can't say that I used my time very productively, but I appreciated having a guilt-free break. The weather has been decent, so my son and I decided to go for an early afternoon hike.

We typically go to Trailview State Park or Stillwell Woods for our hikes, because these parks are located very close to our home. Just for a change, we headed over Bethpage to hike the dirt trails. It was fun seeing my friend who mans the entrance booth at Bethpage. We usually have a brief, but highly spirited conversation when I show up early on weekend mornings. He was surprised to see me there on a weekday.

Our hike went by surprisingly fast and, before we knew it, an hour had passed. I thought we'd stay on the main paths and circumnavigate the woods, but my son was having none of that. At each trail intersection he insisted that we follow the more challenging route. That was fine with me, and though we took a number of different paths, we somehow avoided the sand trap.

I had some business calls scheduled for the afternoon, so we steadily worked our way back to the trail head. Overall, today was more play than work. That's okay. There's only so many Fridays left before summer ends.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

I Love My Park Days at Caleb Smith

A beautiful day to volunteer
Today's run (street): 4.2 miles

We had a busy morning planned, so I got out on the road early, for a run around the neighborhood. It was another beautiful spring morning, sunny and cool enough to wear long sleeves. Just for a change, I took a route that goes by the middle school. It's always nice to see some different roads.

While approaching the school, I noticed a woman running about 100 feet ahead of me on the right side of the road. She was running slower than me, so I eventually caught up with her. As I was passing her, I said hello, and suggested that she run on the left side for safety. She said that she'd been running for 25 years and wasn't worried because there's hardly any traffic. I said that things are different now, with people talking on the phone and texting. She acknowledged that, but I didn't see her moving over. I can only do so much.

I completed my run and, soon after that, we all headed to Caleb Smith State Park to participate in "I Love My Park Days." This is a program where volunteers perform numerous tasks to help NY parks that were damaged by Hurricane Sandy. Caleb Smith lost 300 trees in the storm and the goal was to replace them all. Our task today was to plant a tree at a designated spot. Did you know that the New York State tree is the Acer saccharum, better known as the sugar maple? We didn't!

One down, 299 to go...
We were given a map and told to locate a yellow marker with the number "4" written on it. The park gave us a bucket of loam, a gardening spade and a sugar maple sapling to plant. We trekked along the yellow path until we found our marker. The kids did most of the work by digging a hole in the root-covered ground, planting and positioning the tree, and adding supporting loam. We remembered where we planted it, so we can visit it and watch its progress as it grows. 

We do love our parks!
After we turned in our bucket and shovel, the park people offered us the chance to fill a small cup with sunflower seeds embedded in dirt. My daughter took one cup to replant in the back yard, once the seeds germinate inside. We did a short hike in the park and were then rewarded with "I Love My Park Days" tee shirts. It was perfect weather for visiting the park and it was nice to be able to help out today. I look forward to watching our tree's progress every time I run or hike at Caleb Smith.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

NE recap and a return to the run

Ambivalence in Vermont (Go Sox, boo Yankees!)
Today's run (treadmill): 3.2 miles

The problem with vacations, even short ones, is that you often end up less rested by the end than you did at the start. This weekend was like that. We returned home exhausted, but for the best possible reasons. Our weekend started with a visit to Vermont, where we were excited to spend time with my brother, sister-in-law and their adorable 6 year old boys. They've recently moved to the greater Burlington area. Besides being visually beautiful (it's adjacent to the Green Mountains) there's plenty of places for trail running. Unfortunately, my injured hip disqualified me from doing any of that this weekend. 

Green Mountain highway view

Green Mountain Coffee HQ
Minuteman Centennial statue, erected in 1875
After spending midday in Stowe on Sunday, we finished up with a visit to the Green Mountain Coffee visitor center in Waterbury. We said our goodbyes there and headed south through New Hampshire, bound for my home state of Massachusetts. The rest of our trip took us to Concord, where we visited the Old North Bridge and battleground and then to Plymouth. That brought back memories of my primary school visits there, many years ago.

I was hoping that I'd make up for a lack of running by walking longer distances while I was away. I fell short of my daily goals, but only by a small amount. My decision to skip my run yesterday morning worked out well. I still felt some residual muscle soreness today, but didn't think an easy run would invite further injury.

I was a little gun shy about running on the road today, since my last two street runs had ended rather abruptly. I compromised by doing a treadmill run and closely monitored my hip for signs of weakness or pain. I set the speed to a moderate pace that didn't cause me to sweat until I'd reached the 15 minute point. Performance was my least concern. I began to feel slight discomfort at the two mile mark and decided to limit my distance to about three miles. I planned to stop right away if the soreness increased.

The good news is that I completed my run without any additional discomfort. It was good to get an aerobic workout done after three days away. I'll probably do an indoor workout tomorrow, either on the elliptical, or on the treadmill again. Either way I'll take it easy. I'm hoping that by Friday I will be back to form. If not, I still have my appointment with the sports doctor next week.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Family run at the Nissequogue River Turkey Trot

Scene at the finish line

Today's run (Nissequogue River 5K Turkey Trot): 3.1 miles

It's Thanksgiving and, for the third year in a row, the Emerging Runner family ran in the Nissequogue River State Park Turkey Trot. It's an event that draws a big crowd. With some races canceled due to hurricane Sandy, even more people gathered for the race. Me and my daughter ran the course and my wife and son walked it.

Clearing the path before the Fun Run
After the 1K Fun Run for kids that was led by a guy dressed head to toe in a turkey costume, we all made our way toward the starting line. The race is not very well organized and the start often runs late. Much of that is due to the high number of race day registrants who are still in line at gun time. Today the start was only six minutes late, which was a nice surprise.

The size of the crowd prevents any fast running at the start, but it worked fine for me and my daughter. We fell into an easy pace as we made our way along the first, mostly uphill, mile. It's a different experience running easy during a race instead of pushing for a PR. I enjoyed having my daughter by my side and we were happy to reach the turnaround at the halfway point of the race. We saw my wife and son, who were moving along briskly, on the other side.

The last mile is mostly downhill and we cruised along until we reached the finish line. My wife and son came in about six minutes later and we quickly headed to our car. The exit line from the race gets backed up fast and we needed to get home in time to shower, change and head to our Thanksgiving dinner.

The rest of the day was spent with family and we're all a little beat, but it was great to participate in a race as family. Tomorrow I'll go out for a nice long run and burn off some calories from today's feast.
 

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