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It doesn’t seem like much. But it is what it is. It took quite a while to get over the strain I suffered on Leatherstocking in December. I was able, finally, to do a short run a few weeks back, but I died rather quickly and made it about 8 minutes. Since then I got it up to 17:30. Yes, the pace is probably too fast.

I felt I could give Twin Lakes a shot. The lap is about 1.6. So it was there I went. It was painful, and there was a time along the eastern edge, the part that runs along the Hutch, where I questioned whether I could make it around. That would have been a disaster. after crossing the dam, with about half-a-mile to go on the lap, I started to feel better. Still tired, but more a running tired than a blowing-up tired.

Through the lap and bolstered by knowing that there was a slight downhill to the wooden bridge. So I struggled and as soon as my watch hit 20 I stopped. Quite happy. And a nice walk to finish the lap.

It’s day by day. Maybe I’ll feel up to jumping into an April race, just for the fun of it. It is encouraging.

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When I finish at Twin Lakes, I like to take a photo along the trail’s western side and post it as the Westchester Trails Facebook page. It gives a sense of the change-of-seasons and of course had not put up a new one for quite a while. So this one is similar to the last, taken after the leaves had gone, but it on the other side of winter. Things will only get greener. Sometimes I happened to have a runner come by. I didn’t see many while I was running, but I saw this one, who probably thought me a stalker. It gives a good sense of what the trail is like and it will fill in rather quickly as spring approaches.

 

Not posting in a month is not a good sign. Alas, three weeks back, I dropped my wife off in Larchmont and stopped at Leatherstocking, since it was on the way back. Except for Paine-to-Pian, I’d not run on this trail for years. It was a bit of a schlep and it was too “technical” for my liking.

And so it was those weeks ago. I frequently found myself slowing or even stopping to get through rocky, uneven stretches. But I soldiered on and was completely spent when I turned after about 20 minutes. I was dead and stopped on the way back. So I walked and ran back south, finding the trail not well marked and stopping at one point with no idea how to go; I had become disoriented so I thought the houses I saw were to the left of the trail when they were to the right. (I also ran into a very unfriendly group of runners, something I’ve not encountered on any other trail.)

Anyhow, I ended up slipping on a rock with my left foot sliding down. Not good. I strained my tendon. I rested for a week and headed out on the next Sunday, feeling fine, including doing maybe 2 and a half on the track, clockwise. But I had a hard time walking on Monday. Last week, it started to hurt in the first half mile. So I’ve decided to let it heal. Maybe next week-end.

This won’t, I think, have much of a long-range impact, assuming I get over it presently, since I didn’t plan on racing until the Spring. But I truly miss being able to go our, especially since we’ve been having unseasonably warm temperatures.

So, January 3, 2016. No runs yet for the year.

Yes, “race report”. Haven’t done one of those for a long time. In fact, I ran no races while I was 58 and only one in 2014. Now I’ve run one in 2015.

The M’neck Turkey Trot is a flat 5K. The course is a bit different from when I did it in 2011; it now starts and finishes in Harbor Island Park (as opposed to starting on Route 1). This eliminated a bit of a side-trip on the course itself.

Since my last post, I’ve not run as frequently as I might like, but my runs are starting to come together. Two weeks back, 40 minutes at Twin Lakes/Nature Study and last Sunday 45 minutes for 6 miles to Scarsdale Road and back, which used to be a basic course but now was a stretch. But it was a stretch made.

I decided to do M’neck because it’s a nice course and I hoped to see some of my SSRMC teammates. The club that took it over, New Ro Runners is a race sponsor although NYCRuns puts it on. I was glad to see Mark in the race, Tom (who ran) afterwards, and Greg and Gregg afterwards.

So I took out my Warren Street singlet (which I washed last week in anticipation) On Friday I ran a nice easy 30 minutes and it turned out to be 4.5 miles. So I was pumped about what I could do. I thought I could get under 21 but hoped to get sub-20. Of course, my mileage has been low and my speedwork non-existent. But you never know.

Until you’re on the course. I’m embarrassed to say that my optimistic mind-set did not matach my start position and I was one of those guys who is passed by a fair number after the horn. Sorry to those I blocked. And by the time we hit Route 1 — you come out of the park up a slight incline and turn left, with the water (the Sound) to the left — and I took a look at my Garmin I realized things were too rich for my blood. “6:14” I saw, and so I throttled it down a bit. I was able to avoid heavy breathing well through the one mile mark, which was 6:20. But I felt it.

From the 1.25 point on, I don’t think I was passed by anyone (ecept in the finish straight) and I picked off a fair number. By the time I hit Rote 1 again, though, I was hurting. It’s about 0.75 to the finish, flat. I just tried to hold it together. One turns back into the Park and that incline is a decline yet the expectations on the course that the finish will be a breeze quickly fades as I look and look to see where the finish is. Finally, there it is the “FINISH” in impossibly-small print. So far.

So I just push through and am dead. The time: 20:45. I check it on an AG table and it’s 76. Ouch.  Nearly 2 minutes slower than in 2011. But the race felt smoothly enough, and some of my recent workouts have been smooth enough, that with a bit more dedication and speedwork I can get back to where I should be.

This will be my only race of 2015.   I can allow things to build into the winter. And we’ll see where things go from there.

Two weeks ago I was thrilled about having run for more than 40 minutes. Yay! Last week-end, though, I had another non-running related issue. Bizarre but it has passed. So I headed out yesterday and I immediately realized something was different. Over the past months, as I’ve complained, my legs have felt heavy and more often than not I’ve DNFed. Yesterday, though, I started at a nice tempo and felt nice. My legs were light and the pace quick, and I knew given the lack of running that I couldn’t get far. Into Bronxville and then heading home and deciding to take a short but brutal hill — where you can do quick, on-the-toes sprints — en route, not knowing whether it would finish me off, which it didn’t, and felt pretty good for the final mile. Yay!

Today’s objective was just two laps of Twin Lakes, about 3.25. Given recent disappointments in going counterclockwise, I decided to change things up an try it clockwise, the problem with that being that the final stretch is a long, gradual uphill. I immediately felt strong and light and fast. When I began to tire, it was not what it had long been, i.e., heavy legs, it was from the breathing. It was, in short, a difference in kind and not in degree.

So two laps it was. I felt a strain with the effort, but had none of the dread of a system failure that’s I had had for so long. No problem with the final uphill (slight) stretch.

Perhaps I’m wrong. Perhaps the recent malaise remains. Perhaps it is wishful thinking. Perhaps.

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.

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