January 12: Treadmill

Last winter was pretty mild and I only missed one speedworkout. I did some tempo runs on the road, with my Garmin, and I still got some long runs in even after snow. But I had thought I might join a gym, and this year I thought that again. One in Bronxville is offering a pretty good deal, particularly since it has a monthly membership (I can get one free month), so my wife and I went there to inquire. We received 2 free passes so that I could see whether I could actually run on a treadmill. I probably wouldn’t use the other equipment because I’m doing non-equipment supplemental stuff.

I have never run on a treadmill, but have been thinking of joining a gym in anticipation of bad weather ahead. So I tried it last night. It was fun!!! Started off at a walking pace and was afraid to let go. I was told, “Let go, you’ll be fine.” Feeling like someone jumping out of a plane for the first time, I let go. Got my balance and it wasn’t so bad. She said to go to 4.5 MPH and that’d be a comfortable jogging pace, and it speeds up, and I start to jog. Hands still ready to grasp the bars. I can do this.

It feels funny, so I crank up the speed. This isn’t so bad. Incline to 1. Check.

I’m staring at the readouts. Little dots going around a track. Dishhoutance. All sorts of stuff, but it gives me a focus point. And the little TV is on. It’s Katie Couric, but I don’t know how to change it. Fortunately I don’t have to listen to her. Then I realize that I can change the channel, so at 7 I switch to Jeopardy!. I have my MP3 player on, but I still haven’t figured out that I can plug the headphones into the unit for the TV. So I’m in this weird Jeopardy! world of not knowing whether I’m right or wrong. And what is Alex Trebek explaining? By the time I realize I can plug my headphones in, I’m afraid to break the rhythm of the run, so I soldier on.

It’s nice and comfortable. I’m able to keep the pace from getting too quick, a chronic problem. So nice and easy. Think of form. Relaxed arms. Herb spoke of being forced to keep your arms a little high, but I’m having no problems. People walking by — the treadmills face the front window — as trains come in. (This is in Bronxville, a small gym.) Guy next to me seems to be going at a good pace, but you can’t tell. I’m able to stay on for just over 50 minutes. Throw in 3 minutes at incline 3.0 towards the end.

Perhaps my mind-set is more atuned to constant repetition. I can go around and around a track in an easy run while many or most wouldn’t dream of it. I like the constancy.

Today was a very nice work-out. Not as long as last week (which was 14.75), but while I was a bit tight early, by the final miles I was hardly breathing and felt pretty relaxed, although my legs were a little tired. So I didn’t feel I was forcing matters at all. Total, 11.5, up the Bronx River Parkway. A beautiful day, and ended up in compression shorts and short sleeves; I took my arm-warmers off on the way home.

April 5: They Said Sit Down, I Stood Up

Way back in I guess 1978 I saw Bruce at the Garden, and there were a couple of stand-out numbers. One was “Growing Up.” He went into this long discussion about his childhood and the advice his father gave him, always coming back to “And don’t say nothin’ about that damn guitar.&@8221; Then Roy Bittan’s piano would play some triads and the band broke into “Growing Up.”

This I mention because I have rejoined the Warren Street Social and Athletic Club. It was the first club of which I was a member, back in 1983. The Club motto is “They Said Sit Down, I Stood Up,” which is from “Growing Up.” I made the switch from my former club, Sound Shore, after there were some discussions about what that club was and where it was going. I thought that while there were a number of competitive folks, at a broad range of speeds, the dominant view was that it was a group of people who got together regularly to go for runs and do the occasional race.

Joining Warren Street means a change in focus to doing more NYRR races, particularly those in the season-long club series. It doesn’ have the 50+ runners of Taconic and CPTC, but it would be nice to be able to contribute to its 40+ team now and then. I’ve done a few workouts with the team already, in Central Park (plus one run at the Rockies).

It has been a while since posting. I note that I have not returned to a treadmill, except for once while we took a few days in the Brandywine Valley. There was a rec room with a treadmill, and I tried that for half-an-hour. (It was the Sweetwater Farm B&B and it was one of the best B&Bs we’ve visited.)

Since that last posting, I ran the Bronx Half-Marathon, in pretty windy conditions, and ended up 18th overall in a 1:18:33, which is the fastest I’ run in many years. Last Sunday was the Scarsdale 15K. I won this race last year. This year, I was second, in 54:28, 2 seconds slower than in 2007. It was a good race, although there were stretches in which I was hurting pretty badly. But I just hung on to a steady pace. There were times when I thought I had a chance for the win, but I never got close enough. A satisfying race.

April 6: We’ll Not Have Paris

The Paris Marathon was today, which I mention because last summer I had thought of doing 2 marathons this year, and the spring one was most likely Paris, since it’s almost impossible to get into London and Boston is too down-hill for my liking. But, alas, my wife made clear that I was to do only one marathon a year, so it will be New York on November 2.

Today was my first run on the Nature Study/Twin Lakes trail. We had some recent rain, but the trail was in decent shape, albeit with some muddy spots. The County Parks Department has been doing some clearing on parts of the trail, and it should be in good shape in a few weeks, always subject to rain.

April 9: Death Loops

Last night was a workout with Warren Street and we did the toughest of things, Death Loops. As someone once put it years ago when I last did them, they’re not as easy as they sound. Lower loops of Central Park. Bit over 1.7 miles. Theoretically at a hard tempo pace, but really just really hard. 9:22, 9:31, 9:32. First one was suicidal fast, so relaxed a bit for the others. I find running hard on the roads, as opposed to the track, takes some getting used to, but may pay dividends in races. Still, you’re going and going and you’re only at the 440 (each 1/8 is marked off (we go clockwise from the mile mark)) and then the 880, etc. Hold it together. Dodging the runners as it gets darker. Big toe hurting (and would hurt even worse today).

I registered for the coming Sunday’s 4 miler in Central Park. I haven’t done a short race in a long time, so it will be interesting to see what happens. Plus it’s a club race there will be plenty of competiton. I may then do a 5K up in Chatham NY on April 27 followed by the Rye Derby on May 4.

Julie T, proprietress of Runs Like A Girl, ran quite a nice marathon on Sunday, so congrats to her, although she appears to have had quite an adventure doing it.

Finally, here’s another Ryan Hall workout video. He’s tough, but I don’t know how he’ll do in London on Sunday. Martin Lel is in the race and given his finishes in London and New York in 2007, I doubt anyone can beat him if he’s near the front at Buckingham Palace.

April 10

Whatever that toe thing was seems to have disappeared. Today was the first warm day of the year, getting into the 80s. So a nice, relaxed, but fast, run up to Crestwood.

Sunday is the London Marathon. Even if I wanted to run a spring marathon, it seems that this one is impossible for a foreigner to get in unless you go through a tour group or run under 2:10 (for a man). But it will be on WCSN, finishing a bit before 7. Perhaps I’ll try to catch it before heading out to my race. LetsRun has a piece on it, with the funniest point that the Kenyan runners have no idea how its Olympic team will be selected so they shrug their shoulders and let what happens happens.

Here’s a video from Toby Tanser on Kenyans. In a sense it’s like tons of kids playing basketball hoping to make it to the NBA. I wonder how many Americans would get to the upper strata if that was the mind-set. Of course, who knows what causes one to pick this, or any other sport. Surely not the hope or expectation of making tons of money.

April 13: Welcome to the NFL: Run as One Four-Miler

This was my first Club race since switching to Warren Street. This was the Run As One Four Miler, in Central Park. A problem with Club races is that they are very crowded and you have to get to the start at least 10 minutes before the start. Little chance to warm up. But NYRR has made a slight change in courses by expanding from one lane to about one-and-a-half, presumably via a deal with the Parks Department.

After the start, hurting by the top of Cat Hill, in the first half-mile. By then the course was crowded but not really a problem. Through 1 at 5:39, then 2 at 11:10. Down the west side — it finishes on the 72nd Street cut-through. I lost a fair chunck over the last mile, which was largely downhill. In the end, I was within 10 seconds of second in the age-group, but I ended up 4th. Greg Diamond, who I referred to as an ‒old man” at the Fairfield Half and who blew me away in the final 400 of the Empire States Games 5K, won the age-group, well ahead of me.

My time was 22:26, 93rd overall, 87th male. I feel it was pretty much as fast as I could have gone, and was 86.5 age-graded, my best ever. So I am content with it. But these are great competitive races. VIDEO.

May 7: I shoulda been a contender

I screwed up last week-end. I entered the Brooklyn Half because I thought I was needed by Warren Street’s Masters Team, so when on Friday night our No. 2 Masters for the race — lots of guys were unavailable — said he was out with an injury, I decided to pass on Brooklyn and run Rye instead. That decision was in part dictated by the logistics of getting out to (and back from) Brooklyn and in part by my wife’s plans. It turned out that had I run our team probably would be 4th or so. I think I made the wrong call on that one, given my commitment to the Club.

Of course, that left me to run the Rye Derby. This is an unusual race because it starts at 1:45pm. This year that was particularly important because while the temp in the morning was in the 40s, by race-time it had neared 70. Flat course, little shade. I went out a little too quick, but a slight uphill past 1.5 miles gave me a respite, and then I felt OK. Granted, as is typical, over the last couple of miles every fiber of my being wanted to stop (until I got to the downhill final half-mile), but I held on, actually passed 2 in the final mile, and came home in twelfth, seventh male, in 28:43. A good result.

I was worried about Greg Diamond running this race. He was not in Brooklyn, and Taconic puts the race on. Greg cleaned my clock in the four-miler a few weeks back. Turns out that he was there, but doing the two-mile splits. I had a nice chat with him after the race, and I’ll be seeing him racing again at the Healthy Kidney 10K in two weeks, where he ran very well last year. Having turned 50, age-group competition is suddenly an issue and I’ve developed rivalries with some guys, even if some of them don’t realize it yet. The ultimate question is whether I can get a podium finish on November 2.

Rye attracts a number of Kenyan runners. (There was a nice article about Kenyans running for WTC in the Journal News, discussing the conditions in Kenya.) So a number of them were gone at the gone, as were a number of woman. I caught one of the latter, but the rest kept a good deal ahead.

Tomorrow I have a track mile at the new White Plains High School track. My goal is to get under 5 minutes. My 1500 best of last year equated to sub-5. I hope I can do it again.

Speaking of the Journal News, there was an article in it today on the Leatherstocking Trail. I spoke to the reporter a few times. It’s a nice piece, and I get a brief plug.

May 10: 4+ laps of a new track

I like to get in track and cross-country races when I get the chance. During the summer, I’ll try to do some VCTC 5Ks on Thursday nights at Van Cortlandt. NYRR also has a series of track meets at Icahn on Tuesday nights, and I’ll do at least one 3000 there, hoping to break 10.

This week, however, the Loucks Games held its first Masters Mile. I ran the Loucks Games when I was in high school, and White Plains HS has a brand new medium Mondo track. The race was the final event of Thursday, which meant leaving the office a little early. Although the schedule was for individual mens and womens races divided up by age-groups, there were only about 15 participants, so there was just one race. I saw several folks I knew, including Jay Duggan of WTC, who was aiming for sub-5, which was my goal.

There were some faster folks, so at the gun, they were gone. I tried to keep close to Jay, and managed to do it. Through lap 1+ (given the mile starting line) I was at 75. I wanted 73, but that was fine. Then 2:31. I was hurting a bit, but within myself, as they say. The third lap was tough and we came through at about 3:47. Jay was about 5 meters ahead, and he started to pick it up. I realized that I could up the tempo as well, and I did. I was tired, but relaxed as I hit the 200-to-go line. As I neared the finish, I could see the clock saying 4:55 or something, and thought I could make it. Jay had opened up a nice lead and passed someone, but I was too far adrift to get him. But I was confident as I crossed the liine that I was under 5. And the result was: 4:58.93. Strangely, when I plugged that time into the Runworks calculator it came up with a 1:18:33 for a half-marathon, precisely the time I did in the Bronx in February.

May 11: A Little Rockier Than Expected

Today was a beautiful day up at the Rockies. I did my normal run out to Rockwood Hall and then back to 13-bridges, up the switch-backs, up to the Visitor’s Center, and on. Generally from that point I go in various directions, and this time was no different. But I found myself dying on yet another uphill and was really struggling through 1:20. Then my right knee started to hurt, so I stopped. I then proceeded to get lost trying to get back to Sleepy Hollow HS and jogged a little. I think it’s an IT Band issue. I’ve never had that before. A bit of ice and aspirin and we’ll see. This definitely puts Healthy Kidney into question on Saturday.

May 17: Healthy Kidney 10K

This is a big, fast, deep race. How deep? I got my highest Age-Grade ever, 86.9%, and had only the 25th fastest in the race. This is a big race, and it got lots of coverage on LetsRun.com (prerace and post-race). Full lap plus of Central Park, finishing at Tavern on the Green. NYRR is now using a corral system for its races, and it worked well, although, as always with NYRR races, you have to stand around for about 10 minutes before the race begins. The weather was a little warm, but not a problem. Nor, obviously, was the IT-Band about which I was concerned last Sunday. I had no troubles with it during the week, so I was good-to-go.

Horn goes, and we’re off. A little quick for mile 1 (5:30) going up the Westside, my old haunts (I was a long-time resident of West 85th just off the Park). My nemesis Greg Diamond passed me at 1.5, and I was dead, breathing hard. BUt it’s the same story. Really straining, wanting to stop, holding on. Toady in particular was for the team, after I screwed up 2 weeks ago when I missed Brooklyn. Mike G., team captain, is on the westside, and he’s on the eastside with Jim S., telling me I’m looking good and was 3rd, which I understood meant I was our third master.

There was a timing mat at 5K, and I went through there at 17:45. On the uphill. I struggled but held form and after the downhill on Cat Hill at 5 miles I started to feel not-so-bad. I started picking off people, and aware of that 3-second second-place at Run as One, I ran as hard as I could for the final stretch to the finish. 35:35, much faster than I’ve done a 10K in a while, but consistent with my other recent races. Greg was the only 50+ ahead of me, so I was 2nd in the AG, 94th O/A, 90th male. A good result.

The following is a “quasi-interview” of Andrew Carlson from the LetsRun race preview. Weldon Johnson, or simply Wejo, told me that he and Pete Gambacini (now of Runner’s World, against whom I raced frequently in the 80s) are the two guys talking. It’s just a nice little piece:

May 18: The Colonial Greenway and the Giro

I received an e-mail from someone I know at CPTC (ed.: that’s Nike CPTC) who said my race report made it sound like hell. I told her that it’s not quite that bad, but it always hurts. I also said that being back with my old Club has been good to me. After finishing yesterday’s race, and even waiting for the gun, I felt part of the running community in a way that you don’t get in small, local races. And that crosses club lines. A chat right at the finish with Greg D., meeting more WSSAC members (including one who apparently didn’t have a race history to show that he would run sub-32 or so and was forced to start in the last corral, which meant that even I could beat him), seeing my old CPTC (we didn’t need no stinking Nike then) coach Devon, and just soaking it up as part of the New York running community.

Sunday afternoon, and sitting watching the Giro d’Italia. I now get Versus (formerly Outdoor Sports Network), so I’ve taken to watch Versus’s weekly show on Sunday afternoon at 4. Now it’s the first full week of the Giro, and after a review of the week, I settle in to watch the as-it-happens race coverage by Phil Ligget and Paul Sherwood (or sometimes Bob Roll). It’s like watching the laid back atmosphere of the final day of a PGA Tour tournament, which I notice also have the flashy colors.

This morning was the unofficial opening of the Colonial Greenway. I started out with the group, and then broke off because the pace was a bit slow and the plan was for the group to go the full 13 miles. Too much for me, so after I left, I picked up the pace rather dramatically. Then, as I approached the finish, someone in Nature Study called out my name, and it turned out to be someone from Iona Prep who I last saw in 1974. So I ran with him until he finished. Then easy to the end. So it was a really weird in terms of pacing: slow, fast, slow.

May 24: The Bronx is Up

In my marathon prep, I think it important that I get in a longish run during the week. I’ve been thinking of doing it via a run from my office. On Thursday, I decided to give it a try. Kind of. I took the train to 125th and headed north. My objective was to hook up with Webster Avenue and take it north. Its name changes when it crosses into Westchester, but it takes me about a mile from home. It’s not the most picturesque run, but it served its purpose. Flat. I had to stop twice when I couldn’t get through the light, but it worked out pretty well. It was also faster than I expected, which was a bonus.

That put a bit of pressure on today’s run at the Rockies, since I was a bit stiff and tired and had stretches of struggling before finishing at 14.6 miles. I had planned on 15, but with slight knee-aching I stopped when I got to Sleepy Hollow HS, although I was a bit short. At about 12 I ran into Paul T., but after a mile or so, I let him go because I couldn’t handle the pace that late in the run. A nice run.

I actually ran with Paul on Tuesday night. I decided to skip the 3K at Icahn because I didn’t think I had recovered from Saturday’s 10K. So I ended up doing 3 1.1 intervals. Up the Harlem Hills. They were brutal, but I hald through. Paul ran with me for a bit then opened up. He and I ran to 125th to get the train, he to Peekskill.

Ryan Hall has a nice blog-post entitled “I can be beaten, but I cannot be defeated.”

November 2: ING NYC Marathon

It’s been quite a while since I posted, but with the NYC Marathon today, I thought it’s a good time to put something up. I did not run it. Short version: while training in August, I tripped and shattered my elbow, which required surgery. I still have plates and pins, but the bone itself is healed. But the arm is very stiff. As is the hand (because of a lack of circulation in the elbow caused a lack of circulation in the hand). It was my left hand; I’m right-handed.

I had run a couple of terrible races for the team, but they followed a series of injuries that put me off. I felt that I was just turning the corner and had enough time to get in good work before NY when I fell.

Given the gravity of the injury, though, I never had thoughts that I could still do it. And for the first time I really felt it today, when I walked from 125th Street to Mike G’s place for a pre-race get-together. They were setting up water-stops and bandstands and I really missed the fact that I was not doing it. That passed, and I enjoyed the race itself.

I’ve been running again for about a week. I bought a treadmill because I’m not going to run outside in the dark. Since I’d only been on treadmills thrice in my life for a run, it’ll be interesting, and boring. But after a week I’m getting used to it. I get to run outside on week-ends, and did 4.5 yesterday and about 4 (including 6 laps of the track) today, after the race.

It’s a process. We’ll see how it goes.