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A lazy post

I’m not running much. I have to have an operation in early March — straight-forward but necessary — and hard exercise is verboten until mid-April so if one needs an excuse not to run, that’s a good one.

It gives me a rare opportunity to assess things, as opposed to the opportunity-forced-by-injury. And I will be able to focus on preparatory stuff before hitting the roads and trails again and maybe start in better core shape than is my usual.

Will the fires be re-ignited? Who knows. But I’ve noted the simple exhilaration of the run. Whether that will translate into serious training remains to be seen.

In the meantime, it’s all about that bass. (I’m in a band with our first gig in early April in the City and starting up with a second group in Westchester. I played a few times with a couple of electrics and drums whose bassist moved away; it was fun, but too, too loud for me so I had to back out.)

(I came upon the foregoing because I enjoy Postmodern Jukebox. I thought it was a cover for something older and only later learned it was something contemporaneous.)

I ran today. 2.2789 miles, or so, per gmap-pedometer. It was a struggle over the last 3/4 but I made it. 2014 did not have as many runs as I might have liked, what with injuries — never “serious” but often requiring a decent lay-off — and the days when the motivation to get out in the morning was lacking. One race in 2014. The Scarsdale 15K, which I ran something like (I’m not looking it up) 8 minutes slower than in 2006.

On the other hand, I’ve taken to relishing Sunday morning runs at Twin Lakes where I simply do counterclockwise laps. I got up to five when an injury of some sort or another got me. As to Twin Lakes, major changes going on, with resurfacing to smooth parts out and avoid drainage problems. Right now, it seems overdone in spots, but in time let’s hope it becomes more natural. I also wrote an article, which was heavily edited, that will appear in Trail Runner magazine in the spring, on the Paine-to-Pain race.

If there’s one resolution, it’s to work on injury-avoidance. Right now I’m taking it one run, one stride at a time. It is what it is.

As to music, it looks like the band, still unnamed, will be having its first gig, on April 9 in Manhattan. One always aspires to be “in the band” and I may get my chance. I’ve also started to play with a couple of electrics and drum in Mount Vernon, also playing originals. They’re all younger than I am (unlike the other band, which is two acoustics (plugged in) and bass) and we’ll see how that turns out. So far, though, I’ve yet to get one of my own songs into the set. I’m trying to figure which of my songs would be compatible with the way the others play and the types of music they write.

Playing lots of Bach to work on my bass technique. I’m still posting songs on SoundCloud, now with a bit of piano, on which I’ve been writing more and more. I’m finding it tricky mastering comping, which is accompanying, on the piano, but it’s coming.

I had this idea but never put it down. Simple, really. It involves getting a place to stay when traveling to a race.

In 1985 Chip Carey and I drove up from New York for the Plymouth Rock to Provincetown relay, a 10-leg event populated mostly by Boston-area clubs. Indeed, Chip and I were running for the Cambridge Sports Union or some such — Chip had an MIT-degree I believe — and as the two New Yorkers, we were assigned the last 2 legs, which gave us time to get there. It was a Saturday race, and we drove up on Friday night, staying, and here’s the point, at a house in Newport RI at a friend of a friend of Chip’s. We also stayed at someone’s place in Boston before heading home on Sunday. Or in the first Shelter Island 10K, I stayed with Doug Broder, who had a house on the island, and he had two elite runners stay for the night after the race (which began late in the day).

Compare this to having to book a room at a hotel for a few nights. For some it mightn’t matter. But for others it would. So take the Boston Marathon. With entry fee and travel expense saving hundreds of dollars could help out lots of folks for whom the event has become too expensive.

My idea is to have members of a local club with rooms to spare make them available for a couple of days to people in town for the race. It would be run under the auspices of running clubs. So take the Greater Boston Track Club. A member has a room for three nights in April 2015. The GBTC gets credit for 3 rooms. Meanwhile, a Warren Streeter can have someone stay for 3 nights before New York. A member of GBTC — how the credits are assigned is an internal club-matter — can spend those 3 credits on the place in New York. Or maybe from rooms available in London by the Serpentine Club. A pool of rooms and the chance to share local knowledge with someone.

Basically it’s club runners vouching for other club runners. Like the Elks. Three days would probably be the most anyone could expect, but that’s three days off of a New York hotel bill and that’s real money.

I thought of this because it was mentioned that Airbnb is a sponsor of the NYC Marathon.

No, not me. As I was loping around Twin Lakes, on the east side across from Ursuline, I wondered when the marathoners would appear.  I figured I’d put something up encouraging the use of this trail for that race.

It’s simple really. When I last trained for a marathon, I did three twenty-milers. One on the roads up to White Plains and back. Once at the Rockies. Once on the Twin Lakes/Nature Study lollipop course. This post relates to the latter two.  With the caveat that I find it difficult to go “easy” on a trail since the terrain requires more than simply cruising along. Although that may be me.

As to the Rockies, I strongly recommend doing some long stuff there. Because of the unavoidable hills, maintaining a solid pace over 20 miles means getting unavoidable strength-work.

As to Twin Lakes/Nature Study, I refer to the lollipop as a loop of the lake and then the stretch up-and-back to Weaver Street. I figure it as about 4.6 miles. Do that 4 times plus a loop of the lake and you have your 20. You can also compare times for the 4.6 miles to see if, as you want, each loop is a wee bit faster than the one before. But I found that as I tired little irregularities in the course — small rocks and roots — that I barely notice when fresh become obstacles, so bear that in mind. (Also, because of its particular demands, I would not recommend doing a long run that includes Leatherstocking. Part of a long run is to develop a rhythm and to avoid overheating and I believe Leatherstocking compromises those objectives.

The main reason I suggest this, though, is the practical side. The 4.6 miles is perfectly set-up for getting water and gels without having to carry them.  While in the race itself one will take water more frequently, I subscribe to the idea that increasing the strain by pushing considerably longer between fluids (but not too much) facilitates the whole stress/recover principle. I simply parked in the stables parking lot off California — you could as easily park on Weaver by the entrance — placed a water bottle and gels on my car and stopped at the end of each loop for maybe 10 seconds.

I’m no marathon expert. I know people who have done more in a month than the two I’ve done in my life. The aforementioned runs were solo efforts and I encourage people getting together in groups (provided their paces are close enough) and I’ve seen such groups on various trails. For those in the northern part of Westchester, there’s a page by the Leatherman’s folks of weekly runs in various places. And I encourage using the WestchesterTrails Facebook page for that purpose. On raceday each of us is on her own. So I think it makes sense to at least once do a long run as a solo effort, starting comfortably and gaining pace, and confidence, as fatigue starts building.

 

It’s been a while. I’ve been frustrated. Just as I was getting places — getting regular solid runs on week-ends — I hit upon a stretch of little issues. Each would go away after a day or two but each would then be replaced by another. Right-quad spasm, left-hip pain, right-foot pain, left-calf pain. Oy.

Yet I continue pushing that rock up the hill, being thrilled about this morning’s easy 6. Because it’s not one thing I can’t, say, do exercises to address it.  So for the umpteenth time it’s back to square one.

Still, the fact is that  each time I step out the door it’s with the optimism of a newbie and when I am actually running I’m enjoying it as much as I ever have.

I’ve worked long and hard and, I think, successfully at establishin4g myself as a curmudgeon, and an elitist one at that. Every once in a while, though, something pops up that emphasizes the broad, communal nature of the sport.

On RunnersRoundTable last week (I was not involved) , a number of folks told their Boston stories, stories that exposed how important the Boston Marathon is to many people generally and how this Boston had particular meaning to three people.

RunnersRoundTable: Boston 2014

Running-wise, things have been moving along. I spent a couple of days out at Sag Harbor, and got in one very-nice run and yesterday in the humidity I made it to one of my landmarks, Hearney Road on the BRP. Week-by-week I work my way up. Scarsdale Road, Crestwood Station, Leewood. When I get to (and from) Hearney Road I feel I’ve gotten to a solid place. As noted in the following video, it was a run I needed to finish for my confidence. It wasn’t that fast, but I felt it late. So I followed it with a nice 47 minutes at Twin Lakes/Nature Study. 8 X 400 last Sunday afternoon with a 40-second rest between. Next up: Bronxville 2.5 miler on the Saturday before Memorial Day.

Well, I did head down to the Bronxville track yesterday morning and got in my Repeats. 200, 200, 400, full-length jog between.

  • 38.8, 42.3, 82.2
  • 39.6, 40.0, 81.4
  • 40.5, 39.8, 82.2
  • 40.2, 40.6, 81.7

The running was pretty relaxed, although it takes some getting used to the 400s.

But more, I wanted to post separately CG’s comment to that post and respond because I think she makes good points (I admit some typos.) She writes,

“i had to read your intro ¶ a few times to comprehend- i’m sure it’s just that i’m slow (mentally, too), and it wasn’t the grammatical errors, as i’m a neophyte there.

“i’ve wondered if it’s your ego that’s kept you out of much speed training and racing in the past few years. you’ve said you’ve had this-that-and-the-other issues, but i wonder if it’s just the fear of not running the times you used to that’s kept you away. when i was out on the track earlier today, i thought that someone like you, who (to your credit) has had very consistent race performances in the past might be intimidated when he shows up to a track workout and can no longer perform (even alone).

“it makes someone like you more like “one of us”. there a number of guys (and women) in your age group who run around your current race times out here on the island. but one thing i’ve noticed is that they deal with frequent ‘sub-par’ performances and ‘glorified training runs’ as part of a larger goal.

“the one thing that came to me as i putzed around the track this evening was that if you stop racing, you will hasten your decline even further (this is actually not a new “epiphany” for me- just something i re-acknowledge, as married folks re-acknowledge why they love their spouses). age is not working in your favor. that goes for the dilettantes such as myself, as well as the “racers” such as you.

“i would put to you, “what are your racing goals?” if it’s to run longer races, then adopt that sort of plan. if shorter (and that’s what i would pursue in your position), then adopt a more speed-focused one. running daniels’ paces for track workouts may cut it for longer stuff. even if that’s your goal, i’d say run your track workouts with other guys b/c i’ve noticed over the past few years that you have a tough time completing your projected workouts. i’m not sure there’s a one where you got through the whole thing. that said, maybe you should meet up w/guys like mark t who are around your pace now and could push you to complete the sets.

“but if your goal is to set some westchester 50+ records, you’d best work a bit harder. focus on the mile or another middle distance event. do the speed training for that. it’s another level than daniels and may help you at longer stuff eventually. find some guys to push you on the track. keep up a weekly, but slow, longerish run.

“my two. slow. cents.”

Ego plays a role. But I don’t know that it’s kept me from training. In fact ego may be preventing me from racing as much as I might for fear of falling short of my expectations. So I may make excuses for not doing the work and then justify not racing on the ground that I haven’t done the work. She’s right that the more I think along those lines and the more comfortable I am with just sleeping in the faster the decline.

In my defense, my work situation is such that I don’t often get the chance to run afterward. But cutting against that is that there’s no reason I can’t get up earlier than I do and run before. In the latter stages of winter, I got better at that, often heading down to the treadmill for 30 or 40 minutes.

She’s surely right that I need to decide what racing goals I have as that demands decisions on what need to be done to reach them. She’s probably right on the substance that I might do better focusing on shorter stuff, 5Ks and 10Ks and the like. As a practical matter, that makes sense since there are more of them than HMs around (and I expect to do the Loucks 5K in a couple of weeks).

When I spoke of Sound Shore, I noted that coaching was an excuse for structuring my own training, a win/win. (And I know there are those who took exception to my approach.) The Repeats yesterday were part of doing that, i.e., looking at where things stood and trying to specifically address them.

She’s right that it would be good to join with others for speed work, but that’s just not practical. I disagree about Daniels if only because his approach is useful for any racing distance. It’s just the types of workouts and the frequency of various types that vary. But, yes, if my goal is 5Ks and 10Ks and the like, a greater dosage of the faster types of training (Repeats and Intervals) over the slower types (Tempos) is in order.

 All-in-all, quite helpful. I’m feeling more comfortable about finding my Goldilocks LR pace and can mix that up with the harder (for me) runs I do with Warren Street or at the Rockies. mix in some serious speed work. To be clear, I don’t view speed work as a miracle cure in isolation. I view it in the context of the disconnect between the speed I can maintain in a long run and the speed I can achieve in a race (albeit using only the single data-point of the recent 15K). It may be for naught. And injuries may lay me low. We shall see.

It is April 21 and I am on the porch. The annual ritual of mopping and schlepping furniture and cushions is over.

And it is Patriots’ Day in Massachusetts which means it is the day of the Boston Marathon. A strange men’s race in which the supposed big-guns allowed Meb to go off the front and realized way to late that, you know, he has a silver medal and a NYC Marathon win and just might not be coming back to us and he  didn’t and he won. I thought he was toast but he actually ran the final 2+K 3 seconds than his main chaser, Wilson Chebet. It was, per Ross Tucker of Sports Scientists, also  seconds faster than Rita Jeptoo ran that same stretch. She got the winner over Buzunesh Deba of Ethiopia and the Bronx, who clocked 2:19:59.

CAM00580I’m not doing another marathon but watching a race like that seems an impetus for putting the effort to race again. I see the hundreds and thousands of runners streaming through the start and they all look so much faster than I feel. That’s silly, I know, but it also motivates.

I’ve been trying to connect some of the dots. We start from the fact that I ran a 15K at a pace only 15 secs/mile faster than I’ve been able to go during a work-out — solo or with others — for 10 miles, runs that were not easy but in which I had a good deal of pop over the final stretch. This tells us that the ability to go quick (speaking relatively) is still there, and the question is how to get there. We also have that it’s the legs and not the lungs that are hurting. Sure, I’m breathing heavily at times but am not getting  cooked in that regard. No, it’s the legs.

My thought is that I need to get the legs moving. I’ve done a number of tempo runs, at sub-6:30, but those too are slowed by leg-heaviness. All of which seems to suggest to me that I should return to the process that worked back in the Sound Shore days of including a fair number of repeats — as Daniels uses the term — at this point in the cycle. This means fast (relatively speaking) 200s and 400s and (maybe 600s to get the legs working efficiently. This is at least my theory.

So tomorrow, down to the track.

Racing-wise, I’m still undecided. I think I will do the NYRR Portugal Run, a scored-race in June. Before then, there are a few 5Ks in Westchester and environs that I might do. I realize that to get myself where I want to be, I need to focus and get serious. Watching all those swift folks in Boston may help get me there.

Last Sunday’s Scarsdale 15K recalled for me one of the highlights of my involvement with the Sound Shore Running and Multi-Sport Club, or SSRMC. It was a club created by Lisa Hamm-Greenwalt in Mamaroneck. Its membership consisted chiefly of runners (and triathletes) along the Sound, largely from New Rochelle to Rye with a splattering of folks from nearby.

Southern Westchester has long had a dominant club, the Westchester Track Club, and I’ve known and liked many of its members. But while I was running with the CPTC track group, I became involved as a “non-member” with SSRMC, becoming its newsletter editor/creator. When my track-running emphasis was gone — due largely to a series of bad injuries I attributed to my track/speed focus — I decided to join SSRMC and become involved. This meant heading to the weekly 5+ mile run in Larchmont Saturdays at 8 and then my volunteering to be the coach for Tuesday-night sessions at Mamaroneck High School. (An aside: the M’neck track was unusual in that it consisted of 4 equal segments. It had four short straights and a tree on the infield. As with the space-limits of the B’ville and New Rochelle HS (it’s 350 meters), M’neck had a baseball diamond in the infield. It had two goal-posts. They were at right angles to one another. We were forever having difficulty with people watching baseball games, sometimes putting lawn chairs in Lane 1. I would, politely (I thought) ask them to move. I was sometimes compelled to be, um, less than polite.)

I used my volunteering as a coach as an excuse to develop my own training plan, using Daniels’s Running Formula. But I designed the workouts for all, with the paces varying by people’s speed. We had a good solid core of regulars, of varying abilities but of (so I thought at the time) similar perspectives, i.e., to be the best runner I can be. I put the workout up every week on the (since-departed) club message board.

larchrunl04

The Larchmont 5K, 2006, with Gregg Rubin on my right

I enjoyed it. The highlight was the Scarsdale 15K in 2007. The club had new adidas singlets in a dark blue. It had a high turn-out at the race, or I should say races, since many ran the 4-miler that began 15 minutes before the 15K. We cleaned up on the awards, and I think R received the first award she had ever gotten.

That was one of the two highlights for me at SSRMC. We appeared at a race as a club and performed well and I felt personal satisfaction in thinking that the performances were due in part to the training program I had pursued with them.

The other highlight? 2006’s and 2007’s Reach-the-Beaches in September of those years. A bunch of mostly old (two of our number, G and E, were just kids) suburban folks selected because they wanted to do it and captained by T. We finished 29th and 21st, respectively.

I left the Club when tensions among various schools-of-thought on just how seriously we should take this stuff came to the fore. Indeed, that 2007 RTB was the beginning of the end as those tensions began percolating to the service on the long drive home. In the end SSRMC disappeared when it was taken over by NewRo Runners in 2012. A number of my friends are with that club now. (The SSRMC website is long gone.)

It was sad not to see many Westchester-club jerseys in Scarsdale, including from NewRo Runners. I don’t recall a one.

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