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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.

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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.

I headed back to the Rockies today. My objective was to get a relaxed run in. This I did, running with two Rivertown Runners. They must have thought me a bit creepy since I said very little during the entire run, which spanned 8 miles. First time that far in years. On a convoluted and hilly course. And a reasonable 8:37 pace which felt easy. I was never breathing very hard and felt fine on the climbs. I’ve a few aches now and in particular continued tightness in my upper right leg.

So for the week. with one day off, about 31 miles. A few runs ended early. For example, I was aiming for 7 yesterday along the Bronx River Parkway and felt fine until a sudden down-turn shortly after I turned at 3.5. I ended up doing 2 more miles to get home and feeling better as I did. But it was pretty warm/humid.

On the other hand, I felt quite relaxed on several other runs, having crossed a threshold last week-end with my 7.5. Suddenly 5 milers seem pretty simple.

Little things can make big differences.

For weeks I’ve been thinking of heading up to the Rockies on a Sunday, but was concerned about how far I’d be able to go. A couple of Sundays ago I ran 5.59 at Twin Lakes and I got nearly 6 last Saturday along the BRP. And I died in high humidity yesterday a bit shy of 5.

On the other hand, I’ve done a few speed sessions at the Bronxville track — 8 X 400 and then a 10 min tempo — but barely started last Thursday’s VCTC 5K when I pulled over because of an upper (right) leg pain. It was lingering but not disabling yesterday.

Still, Charlotte told me that Rivertown Runners went out on weekends at 8, and I confirmed this on its website. Today I decided to do it. As ever, I’ve been too fast on my easy days. On a somewhat meandering route that included the 13-Bridges switchback, I ran chiefly with Charlotte and her daughter Hilary. It warmed up as we went and I was tired, but am pleased to say that I made it 7.49 miles, only stopping in the final stretch with a sudden but not dramatic sciatic pain in my left butt. No point in pushing it. The pace was faster than I wanted. It was slower than I’ve been going on my own though; I find that a slower pace with a group feels harder than a faster pace alone. I don’t know why.

The point of today was to get a bit farther and be a bit slower, and I succeeded. I hadn’t run with people in quite a while and I hadn’t been at the Rockies in quite a while so this was good on both fronts. So all and all a good day and a good run, which I hope will ratchet my other runs up a hair.

I met some new people. I’ve been wondering about whether to join another club. While I like the VCTC folks, the last time I did a Saturday run with them I tripped on a railway tie and got a bit banged up — on the Old Putnam Trail — so I won’t be joining them. I though of New Ro Runners, which took over my former club Sound Shore, but its workouts appear to be a bit of a schlep. Rivertown, on the other hand, might work. Although it’s a twenty-minute drive to the Rockies, it’s worth making.

What’ll I do? We’ll see. For now, a few aches and pains and sitting on the porch looking forward to tomorrow’s run.

Having raced less than 2 weeks ago after an 18-month lay-off, I decided to brave Van Cortlandt, for one of the VCTC’s summer series of (mostly) 5Ks. Given that my long run is 5 miles and I’ve done nothing fast (except that 2.5-mile race, fast being a decidedly relative term) I was hoping to survive the three short but steep hills and take advantage of the mostly down-hill final half of the race (with the flat final 1/2 mile, on the flats).

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Van Cortlandt, post-Race, June 8

I decided against wearing a team singlet because I’m between clubs. Well, I did finish in about 23:30. I stopped twice just before and just after Black Top. I felt pretty solid after that though, although had no speed in my legs.

These things can deflate or inspire. I choose the latter. It’ll be a while before I feel I can really race. My goal is to get up to 80% on the Age-Graded scale. So pull out my Daniel’s and see about getting some of that speedwork in, getting my legs accustomed to the strain of a hard effort. In some ways it’s not as bad as I remember. In some ways it’s worse.

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a runner in the final stages of a race will hurt like the dickens. It will not matter how fast she is, she will hurt.

And so it was for me. I had two objectives in my Bronxville 2.5 miler. Run sub-7 pace and not stop. The course has a couple of short but steep hills in the first mile and a couple of steepish downhills and a flat-to-slightly-downhiil finish to the track, after a brief trip into my native Tuckahoe, at the bottom of the hill where I grew up. Plus I’ve run parts of it thousands of times.

I felt a bit out of place in my Warren Street singlet, but my thinking was that if I going to race I might as well do it properly. Lining up with lots of kids at the front, most of whom will be passed in short order. I only knew one person there, Charlotte Rizzo, and I happened to run next to her at the start. I then was ahead of her but she passed me and opened up on those downhills. She would remain in sight for the duration.

I was breathing heavily in the first mile, recovering from the ups, and went through at 7:02. Since my goal was to go out easy, yet I was still hurting since I had not run that fast in well over a year, I figured I could get my sub-7 pace. One slight hill just past 2, and the sight of police-car lights, after which I know they’ll be a slight down to the track. I so much wanted to stop. I didn’t. As we hit the track for the final 200, a bunch of kids passed me. Charlotte was ahead, and I was in neither the mood nor the shape to bother picking it up.

So with a 16:48 for 2.46 a 6:50 pace. And it hurt. I hadn’t raced since the Nov. 2015 Mam’k Turkey Trot and this was only a 2.5 miler. Of course, my longest run in the past six months has been 4 miles so I’ve got upside. But I need to accept the reality that although I’ve slowed down, the hurt is still there. (I was 1st in my AG (which is 60 and over). There were two people in the AG group. Not the most-competitive race. I would have been 2nd in 50-59 and 3rd in 40-49.)

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