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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Things have been up and down for a while, but since January 1 they’ve been looking up as I’ve started to work from home. I can do virtually everything I need to do from my desk, including filing papers in various courts. The modern age. And soon, I’ll be able to do them from my porch.

Since I no longer have to schlep to work, I have more flexibility running-wise, and am taking advantage. So far, not with anything dramatic. I’m slowly, very slowly, building up. I did 3 miles this morning.

I’ve taken a liking to a 2.5 mile lollipop loop; at its northern end there’s a 1/2 mile circle so it’s easy to add. (Hence today’s 3.0.) It has some very slight hills, bumps really, but I had gotten the first of them into my head and developed a phobia for the run. But I realize that that little up in the beginning is a down at the end. Very little traffic. People often walking dogs. It’s a nice little loop.

I haven’t posted in a bit. I drafted something about a series of back-and-forths with cg9m in some comments, chiefly on She’s Gone, but I decided it wasn’t worth posting. I’ll just note that I found her accusations misplaced (I think she was in a post-election spiral) and troubling and the whole thing sad, as it came from someone who I had coached and of whom I thought highly.

But what of running? Today I did two laps of Twin Lakes. 3.2 miles in 26:06. I got to 3 yesterday and in both cases the final stretch was painful. I’d gained weight and have tried to cut down on some of my eating and get more walking in. I then threw in some running, at first walking hard for 20 minutes, running a mile or so, walking hard for 20 minutes. Then just running. So far no injuries to report.

In any case, here’s a short post-run video from this morning:

Thirty-three years ago was wet and a bit chilly in New York. Ed Koch was the Mayor and his was not among the several names for the 59th, or TK’s, Bridge. I took the subway from my apartment on West 85th Street — just off the Park — and headed to a Warren Street mate’s apartment in the teens or twenties. After some mingling, we boarded a small bus/large van and drove across the Verrazano Bridge and were discharged near the start.

Things were different in those days. We used the “world’s longest urinal” and jogged in a parking lot south of the start. And we were told the race was to begin shortly and headed to the start. I had a very-high number, this being my first marathon, but I had convinced NYRRC that I indeed meritted starting near the front, and so had a blue dot on it. (This is why Geoff Smith had a very high number with an initial letter; it was his first marathon too.)

I had joined Warren Street the year before, and at my first race Tracy Sundlun had unceremoniously pulled a red singlet from a bag in New Rochelle for that city’s half-marathon and handed it to me. It said “Manufacturers Hanover” on the front — a bank that would ultimately be part of Chase — and “Warren Street” on the back. Tracy had now gotten us proper singlets, and shorts and other paraphenaila. In Raider black-and-gray, “Warren Street” dominated the singlet’s front.

I stepped in to perhaps the eighth or ninth row, and the cannon erupted. We were off. I had just gotten my first digital watch. When we hit the mile mark mid-span I checked it and to my shock read “00:00:00”. Oh well. Tracy’s instructions were clear: go out easily. And I did. I have no idea what my splits were, but from when we hit Brooklyn until the Bronx, no one passed me. I felt great.

I remember climbing the afrementioned TK Bridge and how quiet and spooky it was and then the hairpin turn onto 59th and lefthander onto First and going beneath the bridge to the sudden cacaphony of noise upon hitting 60th. I saw family members cheering at mile 17. It was wet and rainy, but not too much.

I felt good. I passed Grete at 19. She had a group of men with her, as was the tradition when the lead women started with the men, and I just cruised past. And then the Bronx.

Heading on that stretch that goes beneath Metro North’s tracks and to the Madison Avenue Bridge, I caught a group of guys and thought, maybe I’ll run with them for a bit. I was getting a wee bit tired. This was just past 20 so I was thinking to ratchet things down a tad. And down they went. As I got out of my rhythm, I started to fall to pieces.

I don’t recall much from then. In those days, we entered the Park at 103rd Street. While this cut the long hill to 90th, it added a steeper hill at the entrance. I remember cheering picking up as I reached the southern end of the straight stretch along the Resevoir, just before Mile 24 and the Met. It was not for me. Grete went storming past, having rid herself of her escort. My wife was there — we were newly-weds at the time — and has a photo.

Things became a bit surreal. With the first woman having passed, there was a let-down among the spectators, which would disappear when they started cheering for everyone. But for a brief interlude, they quieted.

It didn’t matter of course. I didn’t care who passed me at this pont. I hadn’t blown-up. I was just really tired and wet. And I felt betrayed. Running on the part of the course on which I ran nearly every day and expecting that this would be my strong stretch, I felt that it had betrayed me because I felt horrible.

I soldiered on, passing the one-mile-to-go sign. Turning onto Central Park South and looking west to Columbus Circle, it dawned on me that this was a long, slight uphill. This was depressing news to me. I saw someone stop, and I thought this was a good idea. I stopped. I had been keeping track of my time and realized that I had a shot at sub-2:30.

So with encouragement from the crowd, I started up again. Not a shuffle, but a run. Not that fast, but a run.

And so I ran the less-than-a-mile to the finish. And I did get there in under 2:30. For perspective, though, Grete covered the last 2+ 2:13 faster than I did.

And I was tired. Looking at the ABC tape later, it cut to the end of the chutes between interviewing Grete and Smith (who was passed by Rod Dixon at the 26-mile mark). There I was, fifteen sseconds of me being escorted by two EMTs trained to look for the struggling. They asked me some basic information and let me continue to get my bag. And there I was on national TV, with CPTC’s Fritz Mueller right behind, very tired and very happy.

A lazy post:

The reference to Micawber is from 7 years ago, and this post.

While I’ve written about runs I’ve had in Sag Harbor, some very good ones, this post is not about a run. It is, in part, about not a run. This is because I’ve been bothered by yet another malady and fear the fat lady has sung, bowed, and had her make-up removed. I may go out tomorrow. But the bottom of my right foot is sore, with no precise explanation.

But Sag. I wanted to write a song, and it was suggested in a video course on song-writing that one select a place and build from there, and so it was that I selected Sag. It is partly in East Hampton and partly in Southampton, to the north. One of my sisters has a house there.

A few spots immediately came to mind: the American Hotel, the pier.

So a while ago I started a song that didn’t really go anywhere. It’s in the first person and I’m walking around before meeting a former lover. But it didn’t, as I say, go anywhere. I had written a chord-structure: Am, Em, F#m, D, Am, Em, D, G.

A few weeks back, my wife was meeting someone about doing a sale at his house and, as is my wont, I had my guitar with me as well as some lyrics. Over a half-hour I worked out the heart of the story, although not the ending. That came shortly thereafter, and I fiddled with it.

Realizing that I run into difficulties with too many syllables, I cut where I could. I then did a rough recording, deciding not to worry about a chorus. I sent it to my sister with the house in Sag and some others, and my sister said that while she liked the lyrics, the melody didn’t work. Indeed, it had troubled me throughout. I knew she was right. So I took my guitar and decided to play a G chord to see where it led me. And it led me to a C and then I had the tune. Almost.

Because I didn’t have a chorus, things droned on. So, voila, I decided to simply change the chords now and then and it worked. So the verses are G C G D D7, G C G D G, and the “chorus” C G C D C G C D G. Much more pruning and tightening and I had my song. I had a nice rhythm and not too many syllables. I played it last night at the guitar meet-up. I’ve grown to like it. Plus I’ve always liked saying “Amaganset”. Here it is: Sag. (While I have songs on SoundCloud, I have nothing to do with the songs that autoplay after “Sag”.)

SAG, by Joe Garland

Capo: 2: G   C   G   D  D7,  G   C   G   D  G
I was a little early   /   So I headed to the pier
Heard a distant      boat’s bell
I checked my watch    /   Realized the time was near
For our meeting at the American Hotel
 
It’s quiet in September   /   Mostly locals are in town
No back-up     at Division    and Bay
Sweaters over shorts   /   Things very much slowed down
My only thought was convincing her to stay
 
She was five minutes late   /   Kiss on the cheek, she smiled
As we left, I held her hand
She laughed at the sea gulls   /   She hadn’t seen one in a while
She said, “I hope you’ll understand”.
 
[PLAY AS CHORUS]
C  I said, “We can do that later
G  “Right now let’s not talk”
C  /   D  We headed for what had been our old café
C  Each step echoed loudly
G  On our quarter-mile walk
C  /  D  G  I still didn’t know what I would say.
 
Silently we strolled    /   A piano playing scales
On the second floor of a house across the way
To our left we could hear   /   The fluttering of sails
Of boats that were bobbing in the bay
 
As we reached the corner   /   Her hand tightened its grip
As I opened that old café’s door
We sat at a round table   /   I asked about her trip
She paused, said “I can’t take it anymore”

[PLAY AS CHORUS]
“As I rode out on the jitney   /   “It gave me time to think
“You were a fool for letting me move on
“You said you weren’t ready  /  For your universe to shrink
“Now you tell me you were wrong”
 
I was taken aback/ By the venom in her voice
More so by the fact that it was true
I’d made a lot of damn ones   /   But that was my worst choice
I feared there was nothing I could do
 
“Look I was an asshole   /   “And, yeah, a fool as well
“And I regretted my words before they were said
“But I own each one of them   /   “More than I can tell
“What a waste, I could have been with you instead”

“I can’t say I’m a changed man  /  Though perhaps I’ve seen the light
“And hope to be blinded by you
“Give me a chance  /  I’ll try to make things right
“And we can have a universe of two”
 
[PLAY AS CHORUS]
When we finished eating  /  I asked her if she’d stay
“No”, she said, “I’m Amaganset bound
“But please come meet me  /  Tomorrow, say, mid-day
“I’ll tell you if I’d like to stick around
“Whether I’d like to stick around.”

 

On Thursday I did what was perhaps my slowest run ever. 4 miles in 32:28, for an 8:05 pace. I ran around the neighborhood, and felt great. It’s the type of run that boosts enthusiasm.

I ran into Yonkers yesterday and made it back, for a tad over 5 and this one hurt a bit, but I was determined to make it and did. I needed to add a bit of distance (to get to 5), and the most-convenient way is to run to the end of Stuyvesant Plaza and back, which is just south of my street. The problem is that there is a slight but formidable hill coming back. I decided that I wouldn’t wuzz out on it, and it was done.

The “45” is a reference to today’s run at Twin Lakes/ Nature Study. 45:04 for 5.6, and what was noteworthy is that I was hurting through 36. There is a long slight uphill to the end of a lap of Twin Lakes (heading clockwise), and I hoped that I would feel better when I had crested it and would do 40. But with each stride I felt better and decided, what-the-hell, go for 45.  Rejuvenation indeed.

So runs on Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.

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.

CAM01645

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.

Since the Mamaroneck Turkey Trot, things have been going well. Most important, I seem to have gotten to 6 as a standard run. Before this morning, I last ran last Sunday. I had dental work done on Wednesday and was told no-exercise-for-three-days. Today, Sunday, was designed to be a five-miler; around the B’ville Lake and back. But I felt good and decided at 2 to go to Scarsdale Road, which is right at 3 and that’s what I did and I did not have much of an issue in finishing. 6 in 46, and it seems that 7:40 seems a good pace for running relaxed.

As to 50, that was last Sunday, a beautiful run at Nature Study/Twin Lakes.

So my plan is really to have no plan. Just try to get out 4 or 5 times a week and gradually build up. Maybe even run my age one of these days.

I did come upon a fine, short piece by Scott Douglas, which reminded me of the importance as one ages of some speedwork. It seems that we are seeing study after study and story after story that says that the starting point for fitness is intensity as opposed to the view of building a slow base and only then ratchet it up. So I’ve taken to doing 4 strides after my runs when I can. Just to open things up and put some quickness into my legs. I’ve long viewed speedwork as important for form.

As I put it in a rplty post on the Maters Running in New York Facebook page, “Speed work, even forcing yourself to do 4 strides after a run but especially fast repeats, is largely about grooving and maintaining and strengthening form to hold it together in those late-race or -run moment when things start going bad. If you can maintain your form while those around you are losing theirs, you will be able to pick off a bunch of people before you are done”.

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