It’s been well over a year since I posted anything. That is largely because my running, such as it is, is crap. Just when I start to feel decent, something breaks. Yesterday it was pain on the bottom of my right foot. So I’m in it-may-be-over mode.

But that’s not why I’m posting.

I’ve posted about Mary Cain. That was all a while ago. I’ve not been following her or, for that matter, running generally for a while. Today, though, the Times posted a video in which she speaks of her time with the Nike Oregon Project. It speaks for itself. There’s a nice cover story by Lindsay Crouse.

My only comment is that when I followed Cain, she showed amazing mental strength. Under a microscope, she came through, at least while in high school (whether on or not on the Bronxville team). Much as I get stressed–or used to at least–for the most inconsequential race, she had it all the time on big races and small. And she came through.

When I think of Mary Cain, I think of the first time I saw her. I was in my kitchen, watching on a laptop. She ran anchor for the B’ville 4 X 8. She gets the baton at 6:46:

20180708_100728[1]My plan had been to post my workouts here, but that plan collapsed when I had a long little-or-no run stretch.

Slowly I’ve managed to get back up to 3 laps of Twin Lakes, which I managed this morning. The temperature was much cooler than it has been over the past few days, but it was still toasty. I got in 4 yesterday on the Eastway course, so 3 laps was the goal. It was touch and go, especially in mile 3, but I managed to hold on.

I got in 6 runs this week, and over 20 miles. So it was a good week.

My hope was to post each running-day. Alas, that plan came apart last Thursday when I felt pain behind my left knee about 2.25 into a run. It’s been sore ever since until today. So I went out aiming to do 2 miles, and I ended up doing that. Right now, in the afternoon, my right knee itself is a bit sore. We’ll see what happens.

In any case, I’m not doing the Bronxville 2.5 miler this week-end, which was, in 2017, the first race I had done in quite a while.

I took yesterday off simply because I didn’t want to push things.

Today’s plan was a nice-and-easy 4 on the Eastway loop. Turned out not to be so easy. Pace wasn’t hard and breathing wasn’t labored for the most part, but still a struggle. Cut out one stretch to get back and struggled home in 29:53 for 4.

This was the first day in which it felt like Summer was coming. Not too warm and not too humid, but I could feel the heat.

20180513_100546[1]Objective today was to go nice and easy and get 5 miles in at Twin Lakes. Focused on the easy part, and did not have any struggling stretches. But couldn’t have gone much farther.

Today’s Run

(Photo: Twin Lakes, looking south, on the western trail.)

I did not realize how long it has been since I posted here. And I’ve nothing interesting to post now, but while doing my morning run I figured I’d try to post regularly about my daily runs. We’ll see how long that lasts.

In recent weeks, I’ve had issues with breathing, as in, I found myself taking breathes every two steps (right-left) and couldn’t get comfortable. Struggle, struggle, toil, and trouble. Slow it down. So I tried 5 short repeats on the street on Wednesday, about 200 meters each. I was able to get to 4 on Thursday morning and took yesterday off.

Today I wanted to get  to 5. So I concentrated on keeping it slow. So Mile 1 was as slow as I’ve ever done, 8:09, and that left me in a position to keep relaxed and not be breathing heavily. And so it went.

Until it didn’t. Just past Mile 4, and perhaps because of a quick turn to get across Route 22, things fell completely apart within a matter of a few strides. Suddenly I was in distress. But I was determined to keep going, no matter what the pace. I decided to cut the course and just get to 5. Fortunately, after a quarter mile, I started to feel not-so-horrible again and was able to finish strongly. So that was today’s run.

Yesterday was spent trying to come up with an explanation for why I blew up so quickly in the Pelham Half. I think my explanation — that I paid a heavy price for going out too fast — is the correct one.

Doubts about my ability to race another HM were in my mind today. I headed to the trail and after feeling horrible early and wondering whether I’d get to 2, things quickly fell into place and I again felt fine and smooth and fast. I was a bit tired, sure, but it did not affect me. So I know I can do an HM, even though today was just a solid 8.

Over eight years ago, I wrote about the Micawber factor, i.e., a little too fast means disaster while a little too slow can do wonders. Perhaps it is better referred to as being in the Goldilocks zone, which is actually a term used in Astronomy, i.e., not too fast and not too slow but just right. As it was, yesterday found my too close to the Sun and I burned up.

The saga continues.

Seems I fell off the radar a bit. That was because about a month ago, just as I was nearing the end of an uneventful 5-miler, my left hamstring went squirrelly. No pop or anything. Just a major “ow”. I’m used to lots of aches and pains in runs and have been having a long-term ache in my right hamstring for a while. But the left one sidelined me for two weeks.

Three weeks ago, I started back, first covering a mile then two and two weeks ago I did 8 as part of a preview of the Pelham HM course.  No problem, nice and easy, and I broke off short of 6 to head back. Solid 8 on the trails the next day and consistently solid runs until last Saturday, when I got in 10 and felt good and fast (71 minutes) doing it. But on Sunday, I was dead and barely got through 3. So only a couple of 5-mile runs this past week, but they were fast and easy and dipping below 7 over the last miles.

My plan for Pelham was to go out very easy, as I’ve always done in HMs. Cruise through 8 and then head for home. The course itself has lots of turns and a bunch of small hills (I never reached the toughest one). Just get to 10 in 70 and then I could see what happened over the final 3+.

The weather was perfect. I had worn tights but switched to compression shorts before the start and just wore a t-shirt with gloves, deciding against arm warmers.

Now I haven’t done speedwork. You wouldn’t think that this would be an issue for an HM, but I think it was. Because while I tried to go out easy, I went through 1 in 6:38, over 30 seconds faster than I wanted. 2 in 6:48 after I tried to put on the brakes. At that point, I knew I was in trouble because I was dead and I knew it wouldn’t get better. I began to stop. Even with stopping several times mile 3 was a 7:05 and 4 a 7:07. I knew it was not going to work, as happened at Paine-to-Pain when I did that. So I shut it down.

As I walked back, I realized that the problem was not something fundamental but that mistake of going out too fast. When I run workouts, mile 1 is always 30 seconds (or more) slower than what it will be when I get into my groove. That was my plan for this morning, to race into the race, get comfortable at a pace slightly below 7 and cruise. Didn’t happen.

I haven’t tried a race longer than a 5K since that Paine-to-Pain, so this was quite a useful exercise. I’ll see how I feel tomorrow. If today is behind me and I run well into next week-end, I may run NYCRuns’s Big Apple HM in Central Park. I haven’t raced there in six or seven years. I realize that in my last post I planned to run a race but didn’t (because of the hamstring). So I may not do the Big Apple Half. We’ll see how things develop.

There’s something to be said for local, suburban races. I found a great calendar with races of all shapes and sizes: Running in the USA. Searching for a few, I came upon today’s Pelham 5K. It’s a mile-and-a-half from home, and I got a $15 entry (as 60+).

The race site had a good map, so I knew the course would be flat. It was a very laid-back affair, similar to Bronxville’s. I grabbed a spot on the front line — as with Bronxville, most of the spots are taken by kids — and the horn sent us up a slight hill. Two guys took off and I found myself alone in third. After going out too fast in Tuckahoe, I decided to take it easy. We ran on a pretty flat street for a mile and would then come back on it. The road was closed.

The guy in first was long gone, but second slowly came back. But I was simply running my own race, trying to run smoothly and avoid blowing up.

And I did. First mile was 6:23, and I was pleased. I pretty much maintained my pace throughout, although in the end in crept closer to 6:30. I got to second on a slight uphill when we turned back to the finish, which was on a slight downhill, and easily through. 19:36. My TomTom gave the distances as 3.02, and I’m going to call it a 19:45 5K.

When I got home, Ewen Thompson said he watched the 1983 NYC Marathon and thought of me. I told him that that was my year. I promptly went to the tape, and found my 20 seconds, being helped at the end of the chutes (they had them in those days) by two doctors, who asked me questions to see if I was OK. I was tired, cold, and hungry, but otherwise OK. That was a long time ago.

October 14 seems a good racing day for me. I’ve raced thrice. As a junior in high school in 1972, I won the Westchester County Junior Varsity Cross-Country Champs. More recently, I was second in the Scarsdale 5K (a race that is no more). And today a second in Pelham, albeit not with the most competitive of fields. Still.

I’ve been having a slight right-knee twinge over the past week, but it has felt fine while running. A couple of solid runs during the week. Next up, I think, is the Sleepy Hollow 10K, on a tough course. They love Halloween up there — there’s a headless horseman on each street-sign — and I ran the first of these. A couple of weeks.

Monday’s intended short run was aborted because of a misbehaving contact lens on the trail. Tuesday’s speedwork by the school’s use of a zip-line and consequent closing of the track, although I did get in six decent repeat 200s, running fast for a change and not hurting.

Wednesday was over 5, but a struggle in high humidity. But then Thursday again showed how different one can feel from one day to the next with a relaxed six with the last three at 7:11, 7:10, and 6:57. And a day off on Friday.

The day off was in part for Saturday. My goal: 12, but I talked myself into thinking I’d be satisfied with 10. So I took it easy, and got to 12.6, without problems although a bit of fatigue for the last mile. The splits were quite even: 7:58, 7:38, 7:24, 7:14, 7:17, 7:23, 7:23, 7:24, 7:23, 7:21, 7:18, 7:09. Longest run in who-knows-how-long. (1:33:37.) It was boring, lap after lap of one of my Bronxville loops. But I find the repetition relaxing.

And Sunday. I had thought of doing the Westchester Half-Marathon along the Bronx River Parkway, but decided not to spring for the $70. So five laps plus an extra 1/2 mile at Twin Lakes. This too felt pretty solid, and mile 7 was 7:10 (and mile 8 7:22).

So, all-in-all another good week. About 40 miles (Strava undercounts and it had me at 39.7). I don’t want to do much more than that and want to cap my “long” run at 15.

I found a new race to try. $15 (“Senior”) for a 5K in Pelham on my birthday. While 5Ks hurt, I hope to give this one a try.

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