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).


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.)

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”.
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”

“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”
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.


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