I walked for 40 minutes today. With surgery coming next week and no serious exercise until mid-April, I’ve been free of the where-to-run concerns that normally would occupy me this time of year, a not unpleasant development given the current weather.

So I’ve gotten lazy. My weight ballooned to 180, where it has never been, so I have to get back to at least getting some exercise.

Today, as I turned on Sherman Street in Bronxville, I had a wave of recollection. Like a whiff of a perfume that reminds of a long-ago lover, I was suddenly turning onto Sherman on a chilly winter’s night — to keep off main roads I had a plethora of complicated routes — with a smooth stride and going fast as I entered the final mile-and-a-half of my run. It’s these little things and not so much the complexity of a race experience that are the foundation of my running. So I hope to re-kindle that come April.

One thing I won’t be doing is Paine to Pain. Too “technical” and risky for my money, much as I’d love to wipe my disastrous experience away. But RD Eric Turkewitz put me in touch with Trail Runner Magazine, and I wrote a short piece on the race. I don’t have a copy, although Eric posted a photo of the article on Facebook.

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 had a nice two-laps of Twin Lakes yesterday. I’m a bit concerned about the major renovations going on there. The County is attempting to resolve chronic drainage issues that leave certain spots quite muddy after a large rain. It is using some sort of crushed stone to do it and has been widening the trail. Stretches that were wonderful dirt are now not-so-wonderful stone. The price of progress perhaps. I hope things stabilize and become more natural come the Spring.

Today, it was 45. A nice run into Bronxville, but I faded and ended up stopping at about 2.5. Still a good run.

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 play the bass with folks who are in a band that is playing on the marathon course. So I took one of its songs, I customized it for NY, entitled “Gotta Go To New York”. (The original is “Gotta Go To Rehab.”) Music by Allen Reid.

Gotta Go To New York


Gotta Go to New York
Lyrics by Joe Garland, Music by Allen Reid

It’s cold and dark outside. You’re out of bed.
If you had any sense you’d be sleeping late instead.
But somehow you get your bones out the door.
This November morning is what all the training’s for.

Gotta go to New York. It’s where everyone wants to race.
Gotta go to New York. Make sure to find the right pace.
Gotta go to New York. It’s were everyone wants to go.
And it all starts at the Verrazano.

It’s when you get off the bridge that you first see the crowd.
And you never knew people could be so loud.
On Fourth Avenue you see the bank tower ahead.
But not too fast or by the Bronx you’ll be dead.

Barclay’s and BAM to Bedford Avenue.
Through Williamsburg and Greenpoint and you’re suddenly half-way through.
Into Queens, Long Island City, still feeling good.
And people still everywhere in this neighborhood.

Then the 59th Street Bridge or whatever they’re calling it today.
So many people rocking you think you feel it sway.
Then some sharp turns and you’re heading up First.
You hope for the best and fear for the worst.

Gotta go to New York. It’s where everyone wants to race.
Gotta go to New York. Make sure to find the right pace.
Gotta go to New York. It’s were everyone wants to go.
And it all starts at the Verrazano.

Into the Bronx but not for very long.
You want to look like you’re still feeling strong.
Back into Manhattan now you’re in the final five.
On Fifth Avenue Harlem comes alive.

Whoa there’s a mile hill just past Duke.
No one told you about that and you just might puke.
But the crowd carries you through mile 23.
You’re where you wondered whether you’d ever be.

Gotta go to New York. It’s where everyone wants to race.
Gotta go to New York. Make sure to find the right pace.
Gotta go to New York. It’s were everyone wants to go.
And it all starts at the Verrazano.

Now you’re in the Park but you’re all alone.
It’s just you and you to the end you’re on your own.
Still it’s beautiful as the trees are turning red.
There’s no other place you’d rather be instead.

Then past the Met, down the hill, wave to the cat.
The slight upgrade at 72nd, no one told you about that.
You make it through mile 25 and one mile to go.
You pass more and more of people getting slow.

Then back into the Park, the crowd goes wild.
And you can’t believe you’re in the final mile.
Though there’s a little hill to the finish line.
You don’t notice, suddenly you’re feeling fine.

Now you’ve done New York. It’s now your favorite race.
Now you’ve done New York. Sweat dripping down your face.
Now you’ve done New York. And you’re feeling dead.
You feel sorry for those who stayed in bed.

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.

I’m going to try posting on the 50+ page at LRC, a page for people 50 and up to post what and how they’re doing. Here’s my first post:

I’ve not posted here before but I figure the act of posting may keep me honest. I’m 57 (58 in a month). Been running since 1970. Live just north of the Bronx, near where I grew up. The last few months have been ups-and-downs with little injuries creating problems. But hope, springing eternal as it does, keeps me going. I hope to race again if I can get some consistency. I’ll be brief, with some color given this as my first time. Good weather all week, especially today.

Monday: Nothing (planned)
Tuesday: 5 easy in the morning. I’d been getting lackadaisical about these, but I have to do them to get mileage in.
Wednesday: Nothing (planned)
Thursday: 5 easy in the morning.
Friday: 5 in the evening. This was a run to the Bronxville track, 10 laps, and then home. I frequently do Friday runs there because I like the rhythm I get into. Because I don’t run at night (the consequence of a post-broken-elbow ban from 2008), I’ll often drive to the track and do an easy 20 laps on most Fridays. Those runs remind me of the many times I did 4 loops of the Reservoir in the winter, flat and a solid pace.
Saturday: I worked at a local race [this was the Bronxville 2.2 and 5 miler, and I volunteered to work with NYCRuns on it] and ran around a lot. In the late afternoon, having poured myself a glass of wine and some snacks I knew I’d regret not going out so going out I did, getting in a relaxed 5 in a light sprinkle. Then I had the wine, etc.
Sunday: There’s a local trail to which I can run (it’s about 1.25 miles away) but I like to be able to get the full trail-experience so I often drive to a stable lot and head out, which I did today. There’s a “lake” with a 1.67 or so loop and then a 1.5 mile stretch. I start with the loop and the out-and-back stretch — so 4.7 — and then the trepidation is how many loops I can then put in. Last week I ran with someone and we got one extra loop. Today my objective was to do two and that’s what I did feeling pretty fresh throughout with a fast final mile. Not so fast as it might have been a few years back, but these things are relative, and I was very pleased with today’s effort.

This is a non-running post.

I didn’t realize that it was so long ago, but in February 2013 I posted about taking up the bass. Then I did posts on writing and performing with a large group of acoustic players just over a year ago. Well I’ve been doing a lot of playing recently. Craig’s List is a means to get together with others, and I’ve played the bass with a number of people. I learned that I don’t like to play with drums. (It’s the noise and the subsequent ear-ringing.) 

I may have found a potential band position with a couple of acoustics playing original stuff. Maybe gigs beginning in November. One of the fantasies is playing in a band. 

I’ve also written a lot of things. I particularly like coming up with some lines and not knowing where they will lead. It feels creative. Notwithstanding my voice, I’ve put many of them on a SoundCloud page. I think the most-recent ones are the better of them, The Call, Visit, 31 (the latter being a song for my anniversary). Slipping into some of the recent ones is a piano. I’ve gotten a “studio piano” — an electric piano that doesn’t have a lot of bells and whistles just a limited number of tones. I’m trying to figure that out and integrate it into my things.

I haven’t had much to say on the running front recently. A continuation of the ups-and-downs of the last few months. Today was simply three laps of Twin Lakes, maybe 5 miles. Felt good.

Speaking of 5 miles, the Tuckahoe Challenge — a one-miler followed by a five — is in two weeks. I won’t be able to do it. There’s also a race the day before in Bronxville and apparently going into Tuckahoe and Yonkers as it meanders up the Bronx River Parkway path. While one can register via NYCRuns, the “race” page has no information except for trying to have people pledge to the cause behind the race, although the cause comes before the race. Whatever.

I’m pleased that we’re beginning to get some chit-chat on the WestchesterTrails Facebook page, which is its purpose, see if people want to get together, etc. On the other hand, I gave up on the monthly Rockies Run. The numbers had whittled down until there didn’t seem to be a point. Plus I have not been ready to run any distance up there.

Being lazy, I did a video this morning:

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.



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