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.

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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.

This was a so-so week and, more importantly, I had some injury/twinge issues. Hence a stop at 4 on Wednesday when I felt a pain in the right knee, the type of pain that usually, disappears, and in this case disappeared, and doesn’t bother me again. But then a pain in the bottom of my right foot, and so I skipped Thursday.

On Friday I met up with someone nearby with whom I’d not run before, and I had a pain-free eight even as my foot hurt when I wasn’t running. Yesterday the right foot was sore and the left Achilles tendon (plus we were doing a yard sale) so no run.

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Folks awaiting the start of the Preview Run

The no-run was in part because today was the annual Paine-to-Pain preview run, in which people run the course. I did not know whether the foot would hold. If it went out at, say, five miles, I’d have a long walk back. I figured, though, that if it went it would happen early.

The weather was not cooperative. Suddenly we were heading back into the 90s. But the trails are mostly in the shade and, well, there was nothing I could do about it. Eric Turkewitz, the RD, asked me whether I wanted to be the leader for the “fast” group, but I declined because I do not know how the course goes through Saxon Woods Park, which has a myriad of trails and numerous trails, and then someone who knew the course appeared, and he was the group leader.

So we started. Not where the race starts but about 3/4 miles later, where the race hits its first trail. (The race covers a number of independent trails. Hence there is a stretch at the very start and one at the finish that is on a road (plus a brief period to connect the Leatherstocking and Saxon Woods Trails).) I had forgotten just how rocky the Leatherstocking. I got to the back of the six-person group and navigated through, at times having to walk over rocks. The pace, accordingly, was not fast. Then the leader did something to his ankle and we slowed more.

After it became clear that he would not last much longer, I somehow found myself at the point and the pace picked up. I did not want to be there when we hit Saxon Woods. I figured I could get us through it, but I doubted whether it be on the actual course. In fact, I ended up navigating for the group, telling them “I don’t know whether we’re on the course” but assuring them that on raceday it would be well marked. (In fact, only one of group is doing the race this year.)

We did pretty well in Saxon Woods until the very end when I had us go right at a T when we could see the golf course then turn-around to go left only to turn-around to go right and then to turn-around yet again to go left and finally find the trail that got us to the course, where we stopped for much-needed water.

From there, the course has only a few turns and they are at Twin Lakes and Nature Study so I know them very well. I was getting tired but was able to control the pace from the front. With me were three guys from Google and a woman from the Upper West Side — on the street where I lived but at its other end — who’s from the area and was staying with her folks and who — and this is just crazy — is running the race and it’s her first race. Rachel, good luck on that.

I suddenly realized that by starting at the trail head it meant that there would be a mile of running, much of it uphill, when we exited the trails. This was with about three miles of trails ahead of us. I was hurting and decided that it was good enough for me to get out of the trails. That would be about 12. I hadn’t run that far since I ran (and walked) P2P in 2012. I had planned on 12 last week-end, after 11 two weeks before (with Tuckahoe in the middle), but died.

So after falling back a tiny bit at about 11, content the just finish, I somehow ended up in the front on the final stretch of Nature Study, and at the end of Nature Study I did stop and we waiting briefly for a couple who had fallen slightly behind. I was hot and humid and very tired. The other four then started up again, and after they were gone I started as well, but then my left Achilles Tendon got angry so I stopped, and walked (with an occasional jog) the remaining 3/4, hoping without success that someone on Broadview had her sprinkler on. So I drank a ton of water when I got to my car.

Right now, at about 3:30, I’m a bit tired. I had 1 1/2 Nuuns since getting home. But my foot does not hurt and I’m a little stiff. So it was a good run. Indeed, while I only ran 12.1, a last 8-minute mile would have me several minutes ahead of where I finished P2P. 12.15 in 1:42:45. Splits: 10:16, 9:22, 9:16, 8:53, 7:29, 8:35, 8:11, 8:10, 8:17, 7:48, 7:36, 7:44.

I don’t know whether I’ll try the Westchester HM next Sunday. It may depend on the weather. I was disappointed that I did not see many New Ro Runners. I was hoping to have further interaction with them to see whether I wanted to join that Club. Perhaps I’ll try to join it for another week-end run.

 

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I had fun at Tuckahoe. And I had a solid week, although two runs were cut short because of me dying. One was Saturday’s, which was supposed to be 12. It was humid, and I didn’t have it, so I stopped at 7.25 or so. And I just died on Friday. I haven’t had many such runs recently, so I don’t think they were a big deal.

I in part made up for them with today’s 9-miler at Twin Lakes. Six laps of the lake. I think that’s a first. Doing the same loop again and again, and again, is boring. But for some reason my brain can handle it. I would have been happy with 5, but knew I’d regret not at least trying 6. And while it hurt, I was never in great distress, although it was quite humid and drops were coming off the brim of my hat. For the week: 37.6.

After my runs on trails, I try to take a photo to update the Westchester Trails Facebook page. Generally it’s on the west side of Twin Lakes, and this gives a snapshot of the changing seasons. Today a small deer was on that stretch, and I got some photos. Hence the above. It’s looking north on the west side of Twin Lakes, north of the stable driveway.

The Tuckahoe Challenge. I’ve done it when it was a 1-miler followed by a 5-miler, although it was a 2 & 5 before that. The 5-miler is now a 5K. Because my back has hurt when I’ve tried to do track speedwork, I decided to skip the 1 mile and just do the 5K. As an old guy, it was just $10.

The course is similar to the old 5-miler, except when you get just past 2, you go around a cone and back. In other words, you skip the short but steep hills.

Beautiful day, sunny, and not hot. I was nervous about this. I “raced” the Bronxville 2.5 in May and a VCTC 5K shortly thereafter, but they were both let’s-see-how-it-feels events with little prep. Now I’ve been training for awhile, albeit with little speedwork, and have become more confident and stronger with seemingly effortless runs getting relatively quick. So this was a way to test where I am in all of this.

Where I am is 20:15 for 5K. That’s a 6:32 pace. (My TomTom clocks in at 3.08 miles.)

Without a sense of pace, I went out a little faster than I wanted to. At about the 1/2 mile, I decided to just relax and hold the pace. Through 1 in 6:28 on a flat stretch into a slight headwind (which I didn’t mind because I knew it’d be behind us on the way back). By 1 1/2, I was with the first woman and the first three men were well away. Then the search for the cone around which we would run. I see the guys heading south and then see the cone. I turn right before the first woman, but she’s ahead of me shortly thereafter and for the duration. This was good in that I had someone to watch. And using buildings as markers, i.e., once I get there I’m that much closer to the finish.

I see the flashing lights of the police car near the finish. I see the clock begins with “20”. She picks it up a bit, but I continue through.

Never in great distress. Not that I could go much faster. Just held my form and held the pace pretty well. No aches or pains, especially in the back. I would have been satisfied with anything sub-21 and hoped to be able to hold 6:30. The first was not a problem, and I was close to the second. So, all in all, a good result and positive sign.

Hate to say it, but another solid week. Bit of a bother on Thursday, when just sort of blew up shortly after 3, but I attribute that to wearing headphones and listening to Florence and the Machine, which may have had me going a bit too fast. Mile 3 was 7:10. So I took Friday off.

Today was the dreaded one-mile-more run. So 11 was the goal. The day is beautiful and temperature in the high 50s. So out I went; the watch started only when I got to Elsmere which has the upside of not including the slowest portion of the run. Back to the usual course with its multiple loops. So easy through 7 when I started to tire a bit but never threatened, although I was being bombarded with aches and pains that lasted only a few seconds, which was strange. But I had decided I was going to get it done.

And I did. Solid splits and sub-7 on the last: 7:48, 7:38, 7:31, 7:19, 7:28 (the turn-around into Tuckahoe), 7:22, 7:24, 7:11, 7:12, 7:04, 6:58. So 11:08 at 1:21:32 for 7:20 per.

Of course, one of the issues with this long of a run (for me) is the boredom. Doing laps, though, I somewhat go on auto-pilot and click them off. The “lap” here is about 3/4 of a mile. Light traffic, good road-surface, pretty flat.

The Tuckahoe Challenge next week-end, then I’m thinking of heading up to Sleepy Hollow 10K on October 28, maybe something in between. Then to the Queens Half on November 18 with the objective of getting under 1:30.

It’s amazing, or at least interesting, that once you pass a certain fitness-threshold things change. For the better. At the risk of cursing myself, the runs become smoother and faster and runs themselves become something to look forward to.

Since my last, I’ve had a good stretch, with the exception of speed. I again headed to the Bronxville Track for tempos and again felt back pain, of a muscular sort, after 1000. So I did a bunch of 400s after that and marked it as “5 miles” in my log. The almost-exception was Sunday’s trail run, in which I thought of going for 6 laps, which is nine miles. After being super-dead early, I was fine and consistent until about 5 when I suddenly was tired. By 6, though, it was good. But, alas, I stopped just past 7 because of an ache on the outside of my left knee.

For the first time, I felt my shoes had gotten past their sell-by date. Those were my Brooks Pure Flow 4s, and they have no been retired. I was alternating them with Brooks Launch 4s and today bought a pair of Brooks Ravenna 8s. Both pairs are black, one with gray and the other with red Brooks logos. I bought them at the Bronxville Running Company (no website as far as I can tell). I hadn’t been there for a while after Bobby P. left as manager, but gave it a try with the Launches, and it did a good job and so returned today. Again, I thought it did a good job, including checking me out on the old treadmill (starting with super-neutral Nikes as a test of landing).

Oh, and on Saturday, I got to 10 for the first time in I-don’t-know-how-long. On the streets, chiefly of Bronxville, with multiple street-laps. And perhaps it was the weather, but so much easier than the prior Saturday’s 8.5 with a 7:11 final mile. Go figure.

That picture above? I ran through there five times this morning.

I was disappointed last Sunday about doing an extra 1/2 mile loop at Twin Lakes when I got to 8, not having been significantly over 8 for several years. It ate at me during the week.

Yesterday, on a flat course I died late and my plan to go 9 ended when I got to 8.5, completely spent. But I regretted not going another 1/2 mile. It ate at me for the rest of the day.

Today, back at Twin Lakes, by mile 2 there was no way I was getting to 6. By mile 4 I was feeling better and figured 7 was not a problem. By 6 (4 laps in), feeling better still, I started wondering about doing 2 more laps to get to 9. Near the end of lap 5, decided not to risk it so added a 1/2 mile loop to get to 8 and decided to try one more 1/2 loop and got to 8.5 and then, still not straining much, decided to throw caution to the wind and start a final 1/2 loop, which was finished.

I don’t know why I was so spent yesterday and not so much today. Humidity likely played a part. Yesterday I was very tired all afternoon. Not so today. For the record, today was 9.03 at 1:11:03 for a 7:51 pace, yesterday was 8.5 at 1:06:55 for 7:50, last Sunday was 8.04 at 1:04:10 for 7:58, and last Saturday on local roads was 8.06 at 59:50 for 7:24. I put that last thing in as an indication that I’m showing some speed although I’m trying to keep it slow. But once I get into a particular pace, I tend to stay pretty close to that figure throughout, so if I’m a little quick early, it can be trouble.

In fact, I’m also feeling smooth on my runs, flowing nicely. I stretched a 5-miler to 6 on Monday and decided to go for a very easy 4-miler on Tuesday and ended up running the last two miles at a hardly-feel-it 7:06 pace. But back pain returned on Wednesday — a muscle pain that hit me the prior week but went away — so I skipped Thursday and Friday. It did not bother me on Saturday, but I felt a twinge briefly at about 7 today before it went away. I have, though, been having some back issues, perhaps from how I’m sitting, and sometimes feel it while standing. Not pleased about that. I don’t know whether it is running-related. Although it has appeared on a couple of runs it tends to just pop up during the day.

Still, 9 today is 9 today. I hope to race the Tuckahoe Challenge in three weeks — it’s a mile then a 5K (which was a 5-miler when I’ve done it before.

Summer just zipping by. And my running is, while not zipping, going well. At some point I’ve passed the threshold and am frequently feeling strong and fast. On six days last week, I was up to 35 miles, including a great 5-miler in Sheffield, MA where we spent a few days with the final 2 miles at 7:07 and 7:06 on a course that felt downhill on the way out and on the way back and a hold-it-together-for-final-1.25 for 8 miles on the roads this past Saturday, in very humid conditions, a solid 2400 10:10 tempo on the Bronxville track.

That 8-miler was largely a repeat of the prior Saturday’s, and I wanted it as a marker for how far I can make it. I’m not blowing up as much as I have recently — although that did happen this morning — and will try to up it this coming week-end. I also have had some solid Sunday morning runs at the Rockies with RiverRunners, but I’m largely in the gap; I can hang on to the front folks, but it’s a bit faster than I’d like. Plus we stop after a big climb just under 4 so it breaks the rhythm. So I think I’ll be going solo at the Rockies for the foreseeable future.

In need of a goal, I’m thinking of a 1:30 HM in the fall. I don’t know if I have a chance, but it’s something to look towards. Perhaps at NYCRUNS’s new Queens Half on Nov. 18. Or the closer Pelham Half a week later. All of that, of course, assuming I can keep body and soul together.

Well, on running, good progress to report. A 7-miler, non-stop, at Twin Lakes yesterday. I was able to keep things under control throughout and never felt under strain. 57:08 for an 8:09 pace. The splits were quite even: 8:32, 8:12, 8:14 (with a turn-around), 8:07, 7:50, 8:04, 8:03.

On Music: My nephew Patrick is a rapper, going by the name Wiki. I sometimes don’t understand what he says, but he’s known for his lyrics, and when I went to one of his shows the youngsters in the crowd seemed to know them all.

I did a stream-of-consciousness thing, some of which bears no relation to him.

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