February 26, 2008

Good gym workout

Two hours in the gym today. Here's the run down:

Stationary bike - 30 minutes
Pullups - 15 (a new high!)
Hamstring curls (one leg at a time) - 3 sets x 8 reps @ 25lb
Leg extensions (each leg) - 3 sets, 8 reps 24 lb
3/3 situps* - 60 on incline bench at 2nd setting
Lat pulls - 3 sets, 8 reps, 77 lb
3/3 reverse situps* - 2 sets, 5 reps, additional 5 pound weight
calf press (each leg) - 3 sets, 12 reps, 70 lb
Leg press (both legs at once) - 1 set 8 reps 150 lb
dumbbell walkouts - 3 sets @ 45 lbs in each hand
body curls - 2 sets of 4 reps
Tricep pulldowns - 2 sets 8 reps 70 lb
bicep curls 2 sets 8 reps 20lb free weights and 2 sets 8 reps 50lb bar
Standing broad jumps - 3 sets 3 reps
Foam roll IT bands, hamstrings, calves
Unstable platform single-leg balance - 30 seconds each leg
Pushups w/ pushup bars - 25

Turns out, I managed to not finish my reps of dumbbell lateral raises - which target the deltoids and trapezeus muscles. and I completey forgot lying dumbbell shoulder presses. guess I was getting pretty tired. I will probably hurt tomorrow.

* 3/3 stands for a cycle of three positions during the situps - one regular, and one each twisting to the side to touch elbow to opposite knee. I am learning not to rotate my shoulder to do this, but rather to put the work into rotating my torso. It really makes me feel my obliques.

February 25, 2008

I am enjoying this sunny weather

2.9 miles today. Started out as an awful run - strictly a recovery run I was planning to cut short at 2 miles. I did go to the hills, though, and as usual, by the time I was jogging up the third hill, I didn't need to walk any part of it. That one hill I can almost always charge. I continued on to the 1.5 mile mark, then turned around for home, taking a little different route. Wound up doing the last mile of the run at a pretty nice pace and it felt good. Wouldn't have had even a pause in that last mile if it hadn't been for traffic.

I can't believe the traffic. Contrasting a Monday to a Sunday around here is like contrasting a whorehouse to a monastery.

February 24, 2008

I am recovering from...the flu?

After the food poisoning earlier this week, I didn't recover well. It felt like I had the flu all week and I only just got over it yesterday. Because of that, Friday's workout wasn't stellar. I just couldn't get motivated.

For decades, they taught children in school that there were only four tastes. Bitter, salty, sweet, and sour. And those four tastes in combination made up all the flavors of the world. But I often thought something was missing. And now western scientists have embraced what the Japanese and French have known for a long time: that there is a fifth taste: umame, the name taken from the Japanese, of course. In short, it is "relish".

Well, Friday's workout lacked umame. I started out on the exercise bike and put in twenty minutes on that OK, and then did some foam rolling and stretching, but then my run on the treadmill - which was supposed to be 3 miles - was just kind of crappy. It wasn't a lack of energy, or a lack of time, it was just a lack of umame. I was overheated, it's true. I'd have gotten the run done had it been outdoors, but the sidewalks were in no condition for running. It was just too hot in the gym. And, truthfully, it seemed like everybody was there. All the treadmills were in use.

You'll see on the chart how I got to a mile quite steadily, but then had to take off the heart rate monitor. I was coughing continually and thought that might help. It didn't and I ended up just cutting the run short. Coughing so much with people so close to me wasn't fair to them and it was making me self-conscious, which is a rarity for me.

Now, TODAY's run - a 9-miler - really went quite well. Again, the chart tells the story. Some walking, but only at regular, timed intervals (after the first couple of walk breaks, which were necessitated by coughing fits). These walk breaks today were basically at every set of stairs on the bayside promenade and a little at my turnaround point. I see several breaks in pace due to traffic (and one to wait for a Japanese couple to get their picture taken in front of the Verazzano), but in general, this was a very steady run. Look at the pacing while I was jogging - just dead even most of the way. Everything was nice and measured.

There are two very long walk breaks, but those were forced by the one stretch of my route that was covered by an almost-unnavigable mixture of mud, ice, snow, and water. I had to be very careful here and running through it was not possible. It provided a good rest, though, and I think that's what led to the steadyness of the 3rd through 7th miles and the perfect, unbroken last two miles.

Look at that again: perfect unbroken two miles to wrap up this run. Nothing particularly fast, but certainly one of my best quality long runs in a long time. Gives me hope for a decent race in St. Louis.

The weird thing is, I think those two miles are so good because it felt like I finally got warmed up. It only took seven miles, but until then, I just didn't feel like I was actually ready to run. I hope it doesn't continue to take that long. Another thing that might have affected it is that my big toe felt like it had made a hole in my sock and pushed through - you know the feeling. I wasn't going to stop and find out. It wasn't uncomfortable, but it was enough of a strange sensation to distract me from the other aspects of running which are uncomfortable, particularly my lungs. Focusing on that little odd sensation really helped. This, I think, is how running superstitions are born.

February 20, 2008

I am feelin' it

I am feelin' it in so many ways. Let's see...where to begin.

Let's begin right here, where I am sick. Right now. Flu-like symptoms. But I'm not sure it's actually the flu, because of the story I'm about to relate.

Skip back to yesterday's gym workout. It was a good one: 30 minutes on the bike @ 130 bpm heartrate, foam rolling, stretches, weights, dynamic core exercises - the works. I knew, of course, that I'd be a little sore in the morning from the core exercises, but that's OK - that's the point. No pain, no gain. And I am literally trying to gain, trying to put on weight and maybe these core exercises and the other weights I'm doing will help. It remains to be seen.

I'm having to extend the dynamic phase of the core exercises for a week before going back to the static core exercises for a week - because I basically slacked off for the last two full weeks. This means, yes, the core exercises have me hurting.

But the real hurt didn't begin until halfway home. On leaving the gym, I'd stopped in the health-food shop there and got an apricot Cliff bar, which I've had before, a cream soda (entirely too sweet), and these:

I had the Japanese style. Ingredients include: Sunflower seeds, miso, sesame seeds, ginger juice, nori, wasabi, spirulina, and sea salt. It looked interesting and didn't sound too bad.

The experience, however, was something different. These long, skinny rolls were filled with a dry paste of unappealing look, flavor, and texture. Healthy they might be, but I thought, as I was eating them, "this must be what eating shit is like, if shit tastes a little like Japanese food."

I should have quit at the first bite. But, no, I was hungry and I ate the whole package. And partway home, the trouble started. These things might as well be sticks of strychnine for all the misery they caused me. My stomach started to cramp and my whole system went out of whack. For a couple of hours I was in a lot of pain, abdominal pain like I haven't had in years, but which I had a lot as a kid, and then the nausea came.

Fortunately, the nausea was reminiscent of the last time I was that out-of-sorts, after an afternoon of eating and drinking at Carlos 'n' Charlie's, in Cozumel, a place of infinite alcohol and frat t-shirts. It was that day that my brother taught me it is sometimes better to just go throw up.

So for the first time since May of 2001, I found myself praying to the porcelain god. And though I felt much better right away, getting back to feeling 100% seems to be taking awhile. I am still tired, achy, and having sinus problems. I figure the heaving also strained my abdominals and made them hurt even more today.

So today's run was a challenge. It started out pretty strong, actually, but I had problems keeping going. I just felt like hell and I didn't feel any better after the run. I iced my knees, took a hot bath, then a quick shower and I'm feeling better now, some hours later, but I hope I feel a LOT better tomorrow morning.

In other news, I have been challenged to go without TV for a week. There was a time when I didn't even own a TV - I still don't, actually, just a converter for the computer. And I took that challenge. No TV since Sunday night, so far. I am missing some of my favorite shows, but there's nothing I can't live without, obviously. It helps that the writers' strike paralyzed the industry, so I'm not missing any new shows. It also helps that even if I do, the shows I care about will get run over and over and there's plenty of chance to see them.

I am fudging on the challenge, a little, if you count iTunes movies and YouTube. I'm not firing those up much, but they are good inbetween reading things. I am not reading any fiction right now, so the non-fiction is getting a little stale.

I've also realized that this disconnection is not painful because I'm disconnecting from a lot of popular entertainment.

Here's a movie I won't be seeing:

And I won't be seeing this either, TV restrictions or not:

So the subway ads aren't working on me. What else doesn't work? Well, for starters, this:

That ad is why Americans are fat. Or maybe it's because of confections like this:

Ah...truth be told, I DID buy that candy bar and am looking forward to downing it halfway through my warmup for next Saturday's Al Gordon Snowflake 4-miler. (Warmup will be five so as to get my full 9 in for the day).

February 18, 2008

I am overheated

Well, today's run did not go well. In addition to battling continuing tightness and pain in my legs, I also ran in this:

Needless to say, it was quite a surprise. It was nice being able to wear shorts instead of running pants for a change, but the 30 degree uptick in weather was just a little too much. I soaked through my tech t in about fifteen minutes and completed my run shirtless. I'm sure it contributed to how difficult I was finding the run, too.

You can see my pace was not very good. It got better in the second half of the run, but not great.

I am wondering if these graphs might be better to post or easier to read. They don't tell the whole story, but the second one, especially, is a good summary.

Well, it is what it is.

I did the uphill and back 3.4 mile route, so it was a good workout, if not of particularly high quality. Perhaps tomorrow's stationary bike will be better.

By the way, we've been getting some newer street furniture around here. The busstops I pass are now very chic - all glass and stainless steel. And then there's this street furniture, outside of PetCo at Union Square:

Cute little parking garage for bicycles. I approve of the city's support of man-powered bi-wheeled transportation devices. It is ironic, though, that such street furniture makes its first appearance in the very location where bicyclists have been arrested during the monthly Critical Mass rides. Sure, they didn't have parade permits, but really, who's the bigger problem? Bicyclists or SUVs? During those monhly events, the police proved themselves to be real Mass-holes.

So why doesn't the city do more to promote healthy ways of getting around? If they expanded the sidewalks and squeezed the streets down by a lane or two, more people would walk and there'd be a lot less traffic, because driving in the city would be intolerable.

The street furniture is part of a large campaign to replace all bus shelters with the new style, add 200 additional ones, add bike parking, replace all current newsstands with the new style (which does look pretty nice - NY Modern instead of NY Grunge), and install public toilets. You can read about it all here. (pops)

The Central Park Conservatory has also been doing its part and has been replacing benches, including my favorite ones across from the Boathouse:

The new dedication plate on that one above really cracks me up.

Still, people will use whatever they can as street furniture:

Though I do wish they'd also replace the got-dam domed hexagonal pavers on the walk around the park, these mittens wouldn't look near as artsy without them:

February 17, 2008

I am still in the game

Halfway through training. My gym time is slipping - though that's understandably due to being out of town for work - and therefore my core exercises and weight training. (The new core exercises require weights, most of them, and full paint cans just aren't a good substitute.) Well, I'll get to the gym four or five times this week. Going to have to; my legs are becoming tight again and it showed in yesterday's run.

This run went much better than last weekend's long run, though not quite as good as Thursday's 5-miler. I didn't have that same sense of powerfully running through liquid air - and I had to walk a lot.

The REASONS for walking broke down neatly into three distinct classes, which came sequentially during the run. For the first five miles, it was simple tightness and the resultant pain in my IT bands and shin splints. I am kicking myself for falling behind in my stretching and foam rolling - this is an AVOIDABLE problem and I have run smack into it. Literally. Pausing to stretch just didn't seem to help.

After the fifth mile, the tightness eased up considerably, but by then I was running into the wind, having turned around at the Verazzano. I had to really work and had I been wearing my heart monitor, it would show clearly during the two miles between the bridge and Owl's Head park, where I got into the shelter of trees and buildings again. Still, the wind was worth it because Saturday was just such a beautiful day and running along the bay was ... well, there are some runs I don't mind being slow and filled with walk breaks, and this long run was one of them. The bay was beautiful, the greenway (park? non-wooden boardwalk?) was almost deserted, so there weren't many people or bikes to dodge. Most of the people I saw were out for their weekend workout, just like me. Hard to summarize the bay-side portion of the run. It made me less dissatisfied with my performance. It made me look forward to spring. It reminded why I like this particular 9-mile route so much.

The last 2.5 miles were hard because by then I was having a pretty good-size exercise-induced asthma attack. Been a long time since my asthma kicked in during a run. I'll have to start bringing an inhaler again.

The graph shows the walking, but notice that I was doing roughly half-mile stretches and the walk breaks weren't all that long. The graph is TIME, not DISTANCE, so the walk breaks are exaggerated. I finished strong, too, upping my pace a little bit. I thought that if I had to, I could have gone a full 13.1 miles and finished in uner two and a half hours.

So that's what makes me say, I'm halfway through training for St Louis and I'm still in the game. At this point, I have confidence my body can go the distance, and even enjoy the event. The second half of training will continue to increase the long runs, but hopefully see this continual slow two-steps-forward-one-step-back progress in eliminating walk breaks. In other words, I hope to get my consistency, form, and speed back together. I don't know that I'll PR in April, but I think I could certainly pull off a better time than in Houston and have every bit as much fun doing it.

By the way, three weekends ago, I switched back to carrying Sustained Energy for my long runs. I have no end of praise for this product. It really helps keep me going and is quite pleasant to chug on the run.


Saw these hanging in C-Town today:

Very good idea; nice to see C-Town is helping reduce the need for plastic grocery bags.


I became just a little bit more of a self-righteous asshole today. I admit that I tend toward that anyway, but this morning, I finally called the police. You see, I expect that on weekends, I can sleep in. I expect other people to respect a certain amount of a.m. quiet time, especially businesses. But Saturday morning, promptly at 8:30 a.m., I was woken up by a hammer drill. Some small team was tearing out the top step of a stoop two houses down. They'd poured new concrete and were gone by 1 p.m. But it just pisses me off that they'd do such a noisy job so early on a weekend. We do have noise ordinances in this city.

"24-224 Construction activities.
(a) Except as otherwise provided in this section, no person shall engage in or permit any person to be engaged in construction activities in any zone other than on weekdays between the hours of seven a.m. and six p.m. A person may, however, engage in construction activities on one or two family dwellings, convents or rectories, which are classified in occupancy group, J-3 as defined by section 27-266 of the administrative code, on Saturdays and Sundays between the hours of ten a.m. and four p.m. Such activities, however, must be located a distance of three hundred or more feet from a house of worship."

The GIANT ASSHOLES with the hammer drill were breaking the law. And had they waited until 10 a.m., I wouldn't have been quite as pissed off. I think I'm going to the neighbor and enquire about any further plans for home improvement. I'm also going to be pro-active about putting a stop to such activity.

But wait, it gets better.

This morning, I was awakened at 10 a.m. by very loud Mexican music. I couldn't tell where it was coming from from inside my house, but I didn't the the Hispanics down the block would do this - they never have before. I pulled on clothes and stepped outside to find that the workers at the car wash across the street were detailing a large SUV and had the CD player blaring. The absolute balls of these jerks amazes me - to have the effrontery to make such noise in a residential block on a Sunday morning calls for action. So I walked across the street and had to yell at the top of my lungs to get the attention of the detailer working fifteen feet from me. Had to yell three times before he heard me. That's how loud the music was. I told him to turn it down or I'd call the cops. I said this several times and he either didn't understand English or pretended not to. But in any language, what I was asking for would have been clear, even moreso with the word "police" at the end of it. He kept gesturing like he didn't know what I was talking about and looking over toward another part of the carwash, perhaps where his boss hangs out.

I went back inside. I called the city. The girl on the other end of my 311 call took the information and said the case would be forwarded to my local police precinct. Next time, I'll just call the precinct. They're two blocks away.

Now, this isn't the first time I've had to deal with this. Twice before I've had to deal with their noise, once for music, once for a fucking car alarm that they wouldn't disable while detailing the vehicle (another fucking SUV, btw). Unfortunately, being in an M1-2D district means that the commercial establishment falls under N-3 standard of the noise ordinance, which means a maximum of 70dB from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. without a weekend restriction, as far as I can tell. BUT, the same noise can't be more than 45 decibels when measured inside any residence. For comparison, 60dB is about normal conversational level and 70dB is your average radio or normal street noise, which I'm quite prepared to tolerate here. In short, my complaint is valid based on the volume, if not the working hours.

I'm trying not to let my hate rule my decision-making process. I'm trying not to let my hate of SUVs cloud my judgement. I'm trying not to just outright hate the carwash and its employees - they are my neighbors, after all. But the fact is, they violate noise ordinance incessantly, they constantly block the sidewalk out front with the cars they're drying and glossing, they often forget to shut off their immensely powerful floodlights or signs in the rear at night - which then shine into my windows all night - and their employees take up all the parking on the streets. If this business had any sense of community responsibility, I wouldn't be so upset - but they clearly have no respect for the people who live here.

Upon further research, I found this related to illuminated signs:

Surface Area and Illumination Provisions

M1 M2 M3

In all districts, as indicated, all permitted #signs# shall be
subject to the restrictions on #surface area# and illumination as
set forth in this Section, provided that the following #signs#
shall be exempted from such restrictions on #surface area#:

No #illuminated sign# shall have a degree or method of
illumination that exceeds standards established by the Department
of Buildings by rule pursuant to the City Administrative
Procedure Act. Such standards shall ensure that illumination on
any #illuminated sign# does not project or reflect on
#residences#, #loft dwellings# or #joint living-work quarters for


February 15, 2008

I am adjusting my sense of scale

I may have to quit publishing this blog. I was nearly hit by a car (again) and instead of thinking, "oh shit" or "this is gonna hurt," I was thinking only "well, this'll make an interesting blog post." And this was very close this time. Fancy footwork saved me, but I might not be as lucky next time. I am disturbed that my first thought was about what variety such an accident would lend to these rather boring posts. LOL.

I should at least switch the name and address and continue chronicling my runs, but without the overhead of having readers I know about. I wouldn't be the first person to do so, either out of desire or necessity. Beast had to stop publishing his, NYFlyGirl stopped publishing hers for a while, I think Uptown Girl had to switch hers because people at work were reading it... I just think I'd do a lot better if I weren't playing to an imaginary audience. Not to mention that there's some things I'd like to say that I simply can't, knowing who may be reading. I'll have to think about it.

so. Wednesday's run:

This actually happened on Thursday because I was too exhausted on Wednesday, not to mention the non-stop rain. I helped a client with some photoshop on Thursday and then left about 2 o'clock. After getting home, I changed clothes and was out the door by 3:15. It was just about the perfect time in the afternoon to get the run done. And for some reason, it was a really good run. Very little walking (only two real walking periods that I recall) and I felt powerful. I had a sense that I was pushing my legs through thick air, like wading in water, but that it was easy to do. I was pushing off well with each step, too. My lungs cooperated with only moderate coughing.

I wish I could say traffic cooperated, but...there was construction and the usual yahoos who believe that a stop sign means you are to barely pause well past the crosswalk with your nose in the intersection to ensure that nothing bigger than you is about to hit you, then floor it. I can usually see these guys coming if they're on my side of the street, but it's harder to catch them if they're coming from across the intersection. These guys are even more dangerous, because after barely pausing, they hit the gas, intent on beating not only other traffic, but ME. I've been cut off in this way more often than I can remember. Failing to yield right of way really pisses me off. I want every single one of these assholes to lose their license, whether or not they've ever had prior offenses. They are DANGEROUS DRIVERS and they do nothing to convince me that our current driving laws or licensing practices are severe enough.

I'm not so stupid as to think they all HAVE licenses, either. And if you're driving without a license...it's time to think about jail time and deportation. No, I don't think that's overkill. It won't take too much of that before everybody refreshes their memories on what the driving code actually says and start driving accordingly.

So. The run was pretty good. Certainly should have been, since I didn't run since Monday and that was only about a mile and a half, due to the 11 degrees I was running in. Just too cold to run in without some acclimation. And because it was so good, five miles has become my old three miles. I can do this. Three now seems short. Which is a good thing, because as long as every run seems SO LONG, training isn't much fun at all.

February 9, 2008

I am reversed

What a trainwreck.

As good as yesterday's run was, today's was it's evil twin, goatee and all. Nothing went right today, morning, noon, or night. Clusterfuck goddamn trainwreck. I haven't had a run this bad in a couple months. Since the Staten Island half in October, actually.

8 miles of misery and pain. Left knee hurt the whole time; couldn't get loose; asthma kept me to a crawl. I walked at least half the distance, I think, clocking about 14 minute miles the whole time. Hills were simply undoable. This whole workout was a seriously f'ed up walk-and-cough-fest. The weather was grey, drizzly, cold, sometimes windy, and dark. The very worst of February.

I'm not even going to download and post the stats. I took my heartrate monitor off after the first mile because I couldn't breathe, but that hardly helped. Absolutely nothing went right in this run. I hope Monday's is better.

--edit 02/17/08--

Portrait of a trainwreck:

I had to take the heart monitor off after I got to the park; I just couldn't breathe.

February 8, 2008

I am in and out of Joisey

You know, the "Jersey" accent really gets a bad rap. Most people who live there don't sound like that - only people from Hoboken, Jersey City, and other urban spots sound like that. The rest sound like normal people.

I've been in New Jersey a lot these last two weeks, out painting one of my scenic designs. This one was quite ambitious, and I knew it when I designed it, but it will get done on time. At this point, the vast bulk of the painting is done and the rest could be completed by the main painting help they've got - a graphic arts teacher who assists the technical director in lieu of coaching lacrosse. Right now, she's slaving away painting highlights and shadows of 422 square feet of theatrically over-sized (4.5" x 11.5") bricks - approximately 1050 of them. And she's doing it on units that curve up and overhead. I did all the base painting and will finish the brick when I go out to New Jersey next - on Sunday. The show opens Thursday, but I don't think I'll be there. I'm going to help them figure out the scene changes and then split.

Here's the plus side to New Jersey: the air is clean and the food is good and free (at least where this job is). I like visiting.

The downside is that it rains. A lot. In fact, every single morning I've been out there. And the rest of the time, I'm in the theatre, painting, until I'm so exhausted I can't paint anymore, about midnight.

So I did not feel particularly put out to realize that I'd forgotten to pack my running pants and could not go running (I'm not going to run in my jeans).

So, unfortunately, Wednesday's 5-miler is a dropped run. Today's 3-miler, however, got done just a couple hours ago. I arrived home, changed clothes, and headed back out the door, intent on the regular 3.4-mile hilly out-and-back. Keep in mind I have had to walk parts of this for a long time now.

I guess running with B taught me a little more about how to keep going through coughing fits than I realized. Except for one hard coughing fit (the first one), I didn't have to stop at all. Look at that chart! the blue line is pace. You can clearly see where I walked for just a minute - the rest of the chart is a smooth, almost steady line of running, broken only by two abrupt stops to avoid getting hit by stupid drivers who weren't checking for foot traffic at stop signs.

This was the run I've been wishing for for a long time. It isn't perfect, not yet, but it was surprising in how I was able to summon the effort to keep going through the coughing spells and didn't even stop at Prospect Park for stretching. My legs felt strong and willing.

Tomorrow is a client meeting, then 8 miles in Central Park, then probably top of the day with core exercises and weights at the gym. I have to go back to New Jersey for Sunday and Monday night's tech rehearsals, then I'm home for some time.

(At some point, I need to find a clear week where I'm not interacting with a lot of people - I'm providing some sputum samples for a study and it involves collecting them cumulatively each day, for a week. I'm curious about how much I actually produce per day and this should be very illuminating.)

February 4, 2008

I am still stressed and now I'm in pain

How's that song go?

"You woke up this morning
The world turned upside down,
Thing's ain't been the same
Since the Blues walked into town."

I felt like hell this morning. I slept poorly last night; just couldn't get fully awake. Took me forever to get going.

I'd gone to the gym yesterday and began the new stage of core exercises, the dynamic ones. They didn't look too hard judging from the article I'm working off of, but sure enough, just towards the end of the prescribed number of reps, I'd feel it. I also did weights on arms and legs and general pushups, situps, and pullups, doing 2 sets w/ fewer reps each, trying to get more general workout done.

Well, that came back to haunt me, as I have spent all of today with fairly tender abs and side muscles, whatever you call 'em.

My run wasn't too spectacular, either. Hard to get motivated under grey and rainy skies. Sleet, actually. Still, I got just over a mile before my first brief walk break and well past the halfway point before really getting tired. It was a slow jog today and far harder than it should have been for an "easy three". Well, maybe Wednesday's five-miler will go better.

And I'm still stressed about the issues noted before. In addition, MR. Anonymous, my comment on the TSA blog was spot on. Transparency, my ass.

Finally, I heard from B. She feels she wants to run faster and farther than I'm capable of - and she's right - so she's going to look for another partner. My search continues.

February 3, 2008

I am pleased with yesterday's run

Friday's 3-miler did turn out to be on a treadmill, though mostly because it was pouring outside and dark by the time I got time to exercise. I first warmed up with foam rolling, half an hour on the stationary bike, and some stretching, then headed up to the cardio mezzanine for the big treadmills. I chose the "real runners'" treamills this time. :) I like these a lot better. You can set incline to tenths of a degree, instead of whole degrees, and the controls are easier to figure out in general. I had good company, too; runners all.

You can see how nice and even the treadmill makes a run. Aside from some minor monkeying with the mph setting in order to set up a pace I could handle for 30 minutes, the run was extremely even. With the forced pacing, all I really have to do is keep up. Coughing spells were difficult to handle, but by leaning a bit on the handrail, I didn't have to slow down or stop. I DID stop at the halfway point in order to stretch - my left side was all knotted up and tight.

Overall, a good run, if fairly difficult due to the warmth of the gym and no airflow. It also doesn't help to have no scenery going by, as there's no way to get a sense of accomplishing distance without looking at the distance counter on the treadmill - something which seems to change very slowly and makes every tenth of a mile an achievement in itself.

It is bizarre watching my reflection in the window glass in front of me. I have a pretty good form, even if I do have skinny little legs and my shoulders go up and down too much. Problem is, the other reflections to the left and right of me were running much faster... It is also bizarre finally getting OFF the treadmill. There's a sense of vertigo - my ears have adjusted to the mismatch between non-moving scenery and moving legs - with the result that when I actually walk on real floor and things go past me, the slowest walk looks like a fast run.


You see that? YOU SEE THAT?? This was a very solidly good run, short of being "great" only by the walk breaks in the first half of the run and lack of temperature control. (Forgive the difficult-to-read graphics - I didn't wear my heart monitor, so without that data - no rainbow background.)

I've been looking around for a running partner and have thus far failed to find one. But B contacted me in response to my NYRR ad and we agreed to meet. I was a few minutes late, but she was very gracious about that. She was surprised to see me with a backpack and intrigued by my method of locking it to a bench. Anything she brings to a run, she carries with her. That impressed me right off the bat. I feel weighed down by winter running clothes as it is, and would find a jacket wrapped around my waist and a fanny pack to be too much. But she's used to it.

When I got myself sorted out, we started off. I planned two repeats of the four-mile loop. Taking the cutoffs at 102nd and 72nd streets caught B off guard. She usually just runs the whole park loop. She seems to like the Harlem hill, but I was glad not to have to do it today. (Next few weeks will be a different story.)

Pacing was the big issue on this run. She's slightly faster than I am and doesn't need the walk breaks I currently do in the first miles. She was a patient partner with a good strategy: while I took a short walking and coughing break, she'd slow her pace, but still keep jogging. When I got going again, my regular 10:15 (or thereabouts pace) got me caught up with her in a minute or two. She offered some good advice after the first two or three of these episodes and without much discussion, took the lead in setting the uphill paces, slowing down there, and then speeding back up for flats and downhills. While it is easy to know this strategy in the head, it's another thing to implement it while running and having B there certainly helped. I do need a lot of recover at the top of a hill and often can't utilize the downhill on the other side as well as I'd like.

BUT the results of this run were, in truth, tremendous. Look at the graph. In the first four miles, you'll see I walked five times (though ONLY five times!) and three of those times had me stopped, bent over, coughing my head off. (That's where the pace spikes downward to zero.) But after that fifth time, which was actually me stopping to put my sweatshirt with my backpack because I was too warm, the next four miles were a great achievement for me.

Look at that! Between markers 4 and 6 there was NO walking. Zero, Zip, Nada. And that two-mile stretch included Cat Hill! I had one bent-over coughing fit shortly after coming out of the 102nd street crossover, and then the rest of the run was pause-free. Having finally gotten my legs warmed up (though my upper half was freezing - I need a heavier shirt or should have kept my gloves on), I was able to keep moving through most coughing fits. It wasn't easy, and I'm sure B could hear my strange breathing, gasps, grunts, etc as I worked to keep up and keep going.

She'd asked me after mile 3 how I was feeling and at that time I'd answered truthfully I was tired - at that point the run was pretty miserable for me. But when she asked again on the 72nd street crossover in our eighth mile, I answered with a thumbs up and joked we could go another loop.

I didn't, of course - my mileage was done for the day and I ended it feeling strong and happy. B, however, has been training for the Bronx half, which is next weekend, and wanted to get a few more miles in, so I thanked her and wished her luck and we parted ways. I wonder if she did another four mile loop?

Anyway, I found B to be a quiet, patient, understanding runner. We talked only a little; mostly comparing notes about what races we've run and our goals for November. Hopefully, we can run together again. A few more runs like that and I should be able to reduce my walk breaks to zero.

One last thing to note: on my last few runs, I'm not ending up with happy, open lungs. Usually, after exercise, my lungs are in a refractory period where I'm free of asthma, but in the last three runs, my lungs have been just as closed as before the run. Hm.