Friday, June 28, 2013

Breakneck Ridge Trail -- Cold Spring, New York

The Breakneck Ridge Trail climbs haphazardly up its craggy namesake, rising in fits. And spurts. From the Hudson down below.

Just an hour and ten minutes up the tracks from Grand Central station, and two miles upriver from the posh hamlet of Cold Spring, the BRT offers weekenders the perfect mix of adventure and convenience.

I write this on the heels of my first trip to Breakneck last weekend, a trip I admit I was reluctant to take strictly on the basis of the trail's popularity. Beyond the Appalachian Trail, the BRT is the trail name most mentioned by my cohort over the last three or so years. But the verdict is in: it's still worth it.

This video is a dated, but provides a good glimpse of the area. 

The truth is, is that as with most trails, so with the BRT. Crowds inevitably thin out two miles in. Having swiftly but not hastily topped out, we saw very few people for the rest of the day. We matched strides with a late-twenty-something for a stretch. Friendly, but not overly chatty, she was preparing for a three-week trek on John Muir Trail. We talked about her trip, avoided the subject of work, and contentedly passed most of our hour or two together hiking silently amid the hum of cicadas.

We experienced, or nearly experienced, one hitch in what ended up being our 4-hour loop. The plan was to climb the BRT and continue on to the yellow-blazed Wilkinson Trail, which would take us back towards the Hudson. Along the way we expected to pass the red-blazed Breakneck Ridge Bypass Trail, the shorter return route. But after we passed it we also encountered a mysterious, orange-blazed trail not accounted for by local maps.

While the others waited, I ran down the trail a ways to see whether the orange blazing was revealed as yellow somewhere further on, or whether there were perhaps any other signs (faded blazes? signage?) that this trail was really Wilkinson. After all, blazing is often done by volunteers, and even though the many volunteers I've worked with over the years have only impressed me with their attention to detail in these matters, it was hard to look past the possibility that a can of orange paint had been used instead the perhaps-less-well-stocked, yellow paint.

With my exploratory sally yielding no clear sign that this was really our trail, though the timing of its appearance and the direction it ran in seemed right, we resolved to hike for 10 more minutes in the direction we'd been going. If we didn't come across a true-yellow (yellow-yellow, not orange-yellow) trail within 10-minutes, we'd hike back and take this one.

But as it happened, within a few minutes, there it was, the Wilkinson Trail. True yellow. There, we parted ways with the other hiker, who would continue on to Beacon, as we made our gradual descent towards the primordial waters of the Hudson from whence we came.

Friday, October 28, 2011

The Trails at Coffin Woods

Map of the trails at Coffin Woods, including proposed realignments (red and yellow) 

Photos of the yellow (or "Who") trail...

 Skirting "The Who" tree (before) 

 Skirting "The Who" tree (after) 

Trail unfurling to the southeast as roughed in on Day 1  

Same section of trail, finished

Photos of the red (or "Mooring Stone") trail...

 View from atop the Mooring Stone (before)

View from atop the Mooring Stone (after)

View of the Mooring Stone itself

 View from the trail head (before)

 View from the trail head (after)

Creating a drainage opportunity (the "Ditch and Drain")...

Before (looking uphill) 

 Step 1 - Digging the ditch

 Step 2 - Making the ditch wide and shallow

 Step 3 - Digging the drain at a 45 degree angle to the trail

 Step 4 - Further shaping

 Step 5 - Feathering out and track-packing the removed soil


Drainage around Blue Heron Lodge:

Before (I)

Before (II) - Sometime in late summer a tree fell across the prospective drainage area

Outsloping the land


Southeastern-most corner (or "Stony Point") of Coffin Woods...

Fall 2010

Beginning of the wall rebuilding process Fall 2011

Reclaiming cut stone from a dilapidated wall

Pulling out (above) and bucking up (below) a downed telephone pole

Beginning the primitive bridge building process...

Bucking up a blow-down for sills and stringers

Milling up the stringers

Moving bridge components across the forest 

Flora and Fauna...

Excavator truly mini beside this tree.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

2011 Ocean to Sound Relay

For much of August I hemmed and hawed about attending the Fingerlakes Trails and Greenways Conference to be hosted by Parks and Trails New York at the Cornell Plantations in Ithaca on Sept. 23 - 24.  As a professional trail contractor, I wasn't sure the nonprofit-oriented gathering necessarily would be worth the expense of attending, especially when I'm pinching every penny in preparation for my next trail construction project.

Needing another reason to commit, I decided a good foot race would fit the bill and rooted around the interwebs until I discovered the Pfalz Point Challenge, a 10-mile trail race through the Mohonk Preserve in the Shawangunks.  Though Mohonk isn't exactly on the way to Ithaca, the allure of the 10-mile distance on trail and through the Gunks was enough to make the minor detour east from route 17 seem reasonable.

At least six hundred other runners found the Challenge equally alluring, however, and while the hope of being called up from the wait-list was enough to motivate me to go ahead and sign up for the trails conference, it was not enough for me to pass up another opportunity.  Thus when a friend from Long Island asked me to join her trans-Long Island, "Ocean to Sound" (south shore to north shore) relay team, I quickly agreed.  (The following day I was offered a spot in the Challenge of course).  

So early Sunday morning I met 5 out of the other 7 members of my mixed (three women, five men) relay team at Cedar Creek Park in Wantagh, one finishing her (the first) leg from Jones Beach, another about to begin his leg, the rest of us eager to offer sporatic support to the extent we could from our chase vehicles.

Mine was the 10-kilometer 5th leg from the Long Island Rail Road station in Cold Spring Harbor  (A) to the marina on Huntington Harbor by Mill Dam Park (B).  Getting from point A to point B involved about 15 turns as I climbed away from the train station and westerly across the entirety of the Lloyd Harbor peninsula and by mid-morning it was sunny, muggy and breezeless, so I was happy to be supported by teammates supplying water and guidance.  Without them there's no doubt that I would have taken at least one wrong turn even with the crib notes I tucked in the pocket of my running shorts.

Because I've really only done one speed session (intervals) since April, the goal was control.  I wanted not to go out in 6-flat, but instead to hit 6:30 for the first mile and crank it down from there.  Even with the climb up from the station, I hit 6:30 on the nose for the first mile and managed to make up some ground on the woman running for the only mixed relay team still ahead of us.  By mile 2 (6:10) I'd overtaken her and by mile 3 (6-flat) felt securely in control.

Still, even with ample water over the first 5-kilometers I would be unable to negative split the second half, finishing steadily but not speedily in 39:08 (6:19-pace).  Even if it hadn't been humid, I doubt I would have had enough turnover to produce a second-half substantially faster than 19-and-change.

After I handed off to leg 6 I expected to trot back to my car and then follow the race on wheels, but realized that the fastest route back to my car on foot was the race course.   So instead I hopped in with teammates and cheered on our remaining three runners who carried us back around Cold Spring Harbor and into Oyster Bay where we finished as the 1st mixed team (3rd overall) in a total time of 5:22 and then partook of the festivities sponsored in part by Blue Point brewery.


Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Week Ending September 18

Mon - 57:36 easy.  Bizarro Manhattan Bridge (out across Williamsburg Bridge back across the Manhattan).  Slow and steady.

Tues - 27:48+ easy.  (Williamsburg) Bridge Run.  Loped along at my own easy pace, casually passing - and then being passed back by - another, apparently competitive jogger.

Wedn - off

Thur - 54:03 easy (~ 1 mi. brisk) Manhattan Bridge.

Fri - 29:32 Bridge Run + striders.

Sat - Intervals on Manhattan track.  23:04 w-u, 3 x 1 mi. w/ full 400 recovery jog (6:10, 6:12, 5:36), 22:23 w-d.  This odd-hour session was built around achievable goals as I restricted myself to 3 (as opposed to 5 or 6) faster miles at manageable paces.  Aiming to kick the night off with a comfortable, remember-how-it-feels, 6:30-pace mile, I was right on pace through the first 1/2-mile but succumbed to my own momentum over the final laps, cruising the last 1/2-mile at 5:50-pace for a final time of 6:10.  The near total darkness of the stadium and the presence of another runner who out of some irksome instinct felt compelled to try to stay ahead of me (at least until he realized I would keep going), contributed to my hurried pace (or lack thereof).  I'm typically pretty good about sticking to my own workout and not being bothered by interlopers whose workouts likely don't follow a broader arc and hence didn't bother to overtake this particular fellow, but I must have allowed myself to be pulled along a bit.  

The average for that first mile became the standard as I repeated it, conservatively, before blasting out the third and final mile in 5:36.  While pleased that even a 5:36-mile felt repeatable, I wasn't able to crank out a final lap much faster than 80 seconds.  Lessons?  I'll go ahead and kick off the next session of mile repeats at a controlled, 5:45-pace and work down from there and in addition to my weekly striders on the turf field of East River Park (Brooklyn side), I'll begin to build into my program 400 and 800 intervals so that an 80-second lap feels slow (or, conversely, a 60-second lap feels not that fast).

Sun - 87:28 long and steady.  Queensboro-Bburg Bridge loop.  I managed to run unimpeded through the security hoopla around the UN.  The oodles of police, the lines of paddywagons and mobile command units like taco trucks and the concrete barriers apparently were for President Obama who, I believe, subsequently addressed the General Assembly on Libya.

Total: 40 miles.

I took off Wednesday and managed a mere 3-4 miles on Tuesday, but passed the bulk of those two days delivering packages for the temp agency I worked through last winter.  Over 16-17 hours I walked about 450 blocks.  If on average blocks walked east/west are an 1/8th of a mile and blocks walked north/south are 1/20th of a mile, I covered perhaps 25 additional miles this week.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Out Running (in) Irene

Running progress has been slow and steady over the last couple weeks.  No leaps, no bounds, just regular mileage.  I put in maybe 20 miles in the third week of August, 25 last week, and will top out in the mid-30s this week.  Hardly impressive, though at the same time I've also managed to build back into my routine the basic calisthenics and stretching that were absent from my pre-Bear Mountain training.  I've done so, first, by actually using the recreational equipment in the park across the street and, second, by using the weird, inflatable ball my girlfriend likes.  I once eyed both types of equipment with haughty suspicion.  Widely embraced by the public as ways of avoiding real exercise, I thought.  But after looking for ways to renew my interest in more dynamic forms of exercise that would complement my running, I've developed a newfound respect for the elegant simplicity of the various park bars and benches and for the ball.  Charles Atlas would be proud.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

To the Prairie Garden State and Back

After taking the month of April away, I updated "On the Ground" with a race report from the North Face Endurance Challenge 50K at Bear Mountain.  Blogger apparently experienced some technical problems in the days that followed, however, as posts across the board were lost.  A day or two later most were reposted, though some, like mine, were returned in the form of an earlier draft.  In my case, a couple thousand, relatively polished, words were reduced to a mere two-lines.  That disappointment was enough to prevent me from reposting.  Until now, in fact.  

The day after the race, thankful for cruise control, I began the 1,800+ mile drive west to the badlands of western North Dakota for another trail project at Little Missouri State Park.  

View onto the new trail with my loyal stag in the foreground and a blossoming thunderhead in the back-.

There, with long days in the field and tired evenings cooking or chewing the fat with the other trail builders, equestrian enthusiasts or park staff in the former FEMA-trailer we temporarily called home, it was easy to not write and for three months, I didn't.

Me (The Black Earth Trail Co.) and Steve (Terra Firma Trails) eating lunch. 

Finally back in New York though, I'm trying to get back in a routine of running and writing.  I think I have just enough time before my next project to dig in and get fit such that "running through" my two months of trail work on Long Island won't be such a chore.  Thus all week I've been more consistently trotting around the neighborhood and along the way reacquainting myself with all the old landmarks: the Williamsburg and Manhattan Bridges, McCarren Park, the Navy Yard, the various side-streets.  I've even managed to join the North Brooklyn Runners on one occasion and built another run around a meeting of the Open Space Alliance of North Brooklyn (OSANB) at the Polish-Slavic Center in Greenpoint, two ways of making getting back into shape more interesting.  In a word, things are on the up and up.  

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Week Ending April 1

Mon - 5 mi. easy (47:34) on the treadmill.

Tues - off with a cold and an unrelated stomach bug.

Wedn - 8.5 mi. (75:xx) around Manhattan and Brooklyn Bridges

Thurs - 5 mi. (42:40) on the mill  +  steam room and sauna to try to help get me through this cold.

Fri - AM: 2.5 mi. (22:03) out to East River Park for some striders on the astroturf athletic field.  Raining!  PM: 6.5 mi. (57:xx) around the Manhattan and B-burg Bridges.

Sat - 18 mi. (2:40:38) w/ Steve along the Long Island Greenbelt from the Trail View trailhead, through Cold Spring Harbor via "Snake Hill", and then back.

I turned the big three-zero on Friday so Erin cooked a big, delicious dinner (of mussels and lamb meatballs) and we had a couple friends over.  I was therefore less than excited about getting up just a few hours after those friends departed, shortly before the crack of dawn, and driving over hill, dale, and the Long Island Expressway to meet Steve at 7:15.  But I figured bailing out, sleeping late and compromising on longer-term goals is no way to kick off my third decade in existence, so I forced myself out of bed, stumbled out to my truck, and an hour or so later with sleep still in my eyes was scampering through the woods.

Having run treadmills and pavement almost exclusively for the last several months, I promised myself I would use April to rediscover hills, trails and cross-training, and getting back to the Greenbelt was a good first step.  The narrow corridor of protected lands called the Long Island Greenbelt has little elevation to boast of.  It has none of the five-, six- or seven-thousand foot peaks common to the West nor even any of the four-, three- or even two-thousand foot peaks common to neighboring Appalachia.  But in spite of that fact and as in the Appalachians, the opportunities for climbing are many.  The trails within generally run from highpoint-to-highpoint, more often than not climbing the steepest grades rather than contouring serpentine across a wider swath of terrain as a result of the relative narrowness of the corridor of land designated for protection or perhaps simply because that's how the trails were originally laid-out (as was the case with the AT).    

Sun - off

Total: 48 miles

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Week Ending March 27

Mon - 10 miles relaxed -- Navy Yard -- Manhattan Bridge -- Brooklyn Bridge -- Navy Yard -- toward McCarren Park via Havermeyer -- and back home.

Tues - AM:  5 mi. easy -- Bedford Ave -- McCarren Park -- Roebling -- Driggs -- Roebling -- home.  PM:  6 mi. easy -- McCarren Park track

Wedn - 9 mi. hard on the mill.  Another work-up-an-appetite workout before lamb chops and brisket at Fatty Cue.

Thur - 8.5 mi. easy around the Manhattan and Brooklyn Bridges.  This dipper-shaped route has quickly become my standard loop.

Fri - off

Sat - AM:  8.5 mi. easy around the Manhattan and Brooklyn Bridges.  PM:  3.5 mi. easy w/ Erin across Williamsburg Bridge and back.

Sun - NOON: 20 mi. -- Five Bridges:  Pulaski  +  Queensboro  +  Williamsburg  +  Manhattan  + Brooklyn.  This felt smooth and easy throughout.  

Total: 70 miles.

I'm feeling pretty good after 70 miles in 6 days of running.  Taking off Friday seems to have added enough to my recovery to make the 32 miles of Saturday and Sunday feel smooth if not easy.  The goal is to gradually shorten the interval between the two weekend workouts that, taken together, add-up to more than 31 miles (or 50K) until, come May 7, I feel confident that I can run the Bear Mountain North Face Endurance Challenge 50K in one push.  

Monday, March 21, 2011

Chance Encounter

I headed out for a relaxed 10 miles this evening.  Since the morning deluge a heavy fog has settled in, keeping the City unusually cool, perfectly canceling out the warmth generated by my effort.  I moved briskly but comfortably along in this climatic equilibrium--around the Navy Yard, across the Manhattan Bridge, south through Chinatown into the financial district, then back across the East River by way of the Brooklyn Bridge where, as it happened, my path converged with that of another runner who approached from the west--straight-on, as it were--as I curled in from the north.  With an electric orange windbreaker and a pack galloping rhythmically on his back, he was 10 steps ahead of me, then 5.  I pulled up along side him as we passed the first stone piling, explaining quite honestly that I wasn't looking for a race but that we just seemed to be moving along at the same pace.  We chatted about Sunday's NYC half-marathon--where Galen Rupp finished an astonishing 3rd and before which Meb apparently was bitten by a dog--about our workaday lives--Nick is a writer--and finally about our routes--he had come all the way from Times Square, I from Williamsburg--before our paths diverged, Nick continuing on in the same direction--straight-on, as it were--as I curled away to the north.    

Week Ending March 20 - The Grind

Mon - 6+ miles around the Manhattan Bridge

Tues - 6+ miles around the Manhattan Bridge

Wedn - 11+ miles around the Queensboro Bridge.  Definitely feeling the latent fatigue in my legs from Sunday's 20-miler, which made it difficult to maintain a steady pace.  While grinding this one out, I still felt the reward of being able to take in from my vantage on the Williamsburg Bridge the entirely of my orbit including its apogee through the constellation of lights known as the Queensboro Bridge.

Thurs - off.  With my parents venturing into the City (from rural Illinois) by evening, I should have gotten in some morning miles but ended up tying up loose ends around the apartment to prepare for guests.

Fri - AM: 4 miles (36:26) across the B-burg bridge + a few add-on minutes toward McCarren Park and back.  The need to move my parent's car and my own truck to avoid getting ticketed--along with zero mileage yesterday--provided the additional incentive to get me up early enough to get some miles in.  The last patrons of our local sports bar--one of whom apparently goes by "Cash"--were stumbling into the street just as I was headed out into the pre-dawn darkness.  PM: 4 miles (perhaps a tad under, 28:xx) before receiving my parents, who were on their way back from a day at the American Museum of Natural History, and my girlfriend, who was cabbing it back from Penn Station after a week in D.C. on business.

Sat and Sun - off.

Total: 31 miles

A rather measly 31 miles this last week.  No doubt runners targeting similar times ran two-, three- or even four-times as many miles this week.  Still, today I'm back at and feeling fresh, ready to nudge up the mileage somewhere closer to around 70--back, in other words, to where it really should be.  I haven't had many two-a-day days since deep winter, but from this point forward do plan on splitting up my daily miles two or three days a week as a way of better managing this whole affair of volume-building.  If I can use the excuse of morning miles to get up a bit earlier, I'll not only feel energized for the workday ahead, I'll arrive home earlier after my evening workout.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Week Ending March 13

Mon - 8+ miles brisk:  out across the Manhattan Bridge into Manhattan then back across the Brooklyn Bridge into Brooklyn.  With training time sandwiched between work and dinner plans, this was a work-up-an-appetite-workout.  I kept a brisk but controlled pace for the first half, opening up a bit on the Brooklyn Bridge with the wind at my back.  Focusing on long strides and good form hooked back around the Navy Yard, I noticed a rally of members of the Orthodox Jewish community on Kent.  I eased up on the throttle as I approached the B-burg Bridge and trotted home, quickly showering before heading over to The Roebling Tearoom for a burger "all the way" (with an fried egg, bacon, and a Russian, mayo-based sauce).

Tues - 3+ miles, short and sweet.  Just got something in before scurrying to meet my Uncle Andrew who is in town for a real time data storage trade show.  (No, I don't know what it is either.)

Wedn - 12 mi. tempo run  -- My legs felt heavy on that slightest of climbs over the Williamsburg Bridge and back.  By the time I hopped on a treadmill, they were loosened up and I put in a solid 9 miles, gradually increasing the pace from 7:30/mi. to 6:00.  I ran the last 4 miles comfortably @ 6-flat pace.

Thurs - off

Fri - off

Sat - PM:  7 mi. relaxed.  Because we're enjoying what I hope is the first part of a long stretch of warmer weather, I ran past the gym, around the Navy Yard and across the Manhattan Bridge into Chinatown where I once again stopped by the Don Juan convenience store to find the clerk who graciously lent me a couple two-packs of Benedryll when I stumbled into the place, tingling and flush in the face, several months ago.  I paid him back, said thanks again, and with a sense that good karma would be on my side, trotted back home by way of the Williamsburg Bridge.

Sun - AM: 20 miles with Kathy and Steve out on the North Shore.

Total: 53 miles

Week Ending March 6

Mon - 10 mi. easy (80+ min.) across the Williamsburg Bridge then on to the treadmill for a few more briskly paced miles.

Tues - 7 mi. restrained on the treadmill (60:xx).

Wedn - 12 miles on the mill (90+ min.) -- 4 mi. @ 8:30 pace  +  1.5 mi. @ 7:30 pace  +  1.5 mi. @ 6:45 pace  +  4 mi. @ 6-flat pace  +  1 mi. w-d.

Thurs - 3+ mi. nice and easy to/from/at the gym before joining family for an early dinner uptown.

Fri - 5 mi. on the mill, easy (45:xx).  Mini-taper for tomorrow's 4-mile race on Long Island.

Sat - 12 mi.   Little Cow Harbor 4-miler (Greenlawn, Long Island)  --  5 mi. w-u (47:xx)  +  race (23:35)  +  3+ mi. w-d (30:xx)

Sun - off

Total: 50 miles

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Race Report: Little Cow Harbor 4-miler

Rather than run the Caumsett 25K this morning, I opted to run yesterday's Little Cow Harbor 4-miler.  My focus over the last several months has been on volume rather than speed--on (re)building my weekly mileage totals instead of on hitting interval workouts--so I feel better suited to the longer, endurance-style event than to the shorter, speedier race.  But with a whopping $40 race fee and a 5 x 5K paved-loop course ($8 per loop), it was relatively easy to make this weekend an occasion for shifting gears.

I arrived at the high school in Greenlawn about an hour and a half before the gun.  I paid the $25 registration fee in the already bustling gymnasium, politely turned down an electric green long-sleeved T-shirt asking "got hope?" across the front, and jogged what turned out to be an unabashedly suburban course that offered runners little scenery, only mail boxes, traffic cones, police and firemen.

I put in a longer than usual warm-up, jogging the entirety of the course and then some as well as a few striders just before the gun.  At 9 o'clock sharp we were off, the eventual victor, a guy with sleeves (who in my mind better run fast), a flock of local prep schoolers, and me.  The eventual victor and the guy with sleeves (much to his credit) quickly gapped the field, leaving me to duke it out with the expensive-singleted and somewhat bombastic teens.  The two leaders went through the first mile in a little over 5-flat while the rest of us trailed in a respectable 5:15.  Even though that pace was a bit quick, I decided to throw in a couple of surges in mile two with the goal of hushing the prep schoolers talking across me.  The apparent leader of that pack stuck with me for the first surge but announced to the others that he wouldn't be going along for the second, and from that point forward things quieted down.  Still, according to the clock we slowed considerably during the second mile, from 5:15 to 6:10, leading me to believe that mile two was actually a bit longer.

By mile three, most of the teen pack had fallen off but three had managed to work their way back passed me and a little too taxed by the early pace, I was unable to respond.  I did make one more move in the last quarter mile, surging into fifth place before being passed back in the final meters.

Afterwards,  I stuffed a post-race banana and a chocolate chip cookie into my face and trotted off to jog the course once more before jumping in the truck and heading back to Brooklyn.  All in all, I was happy with the effort.  Had I run even a second slower, which would have been exactly one second slower than the time I told Erin I realistically was likely to run, I would have been disappointed.  But I did run what I'd expected and also was able to challenge some of the other runners with some gutsy if somewhat self-defeating surges.



Thursday, March 3, 2011

Monthly Totals

Jan - 193 mi.

Feb - 189 mi.

Glass half-empty analysis: I ran fewer miles in February than in January.  Glass half-full analysis: Even after running only 22 miles in week 2, I still ran nearly as much sick in February as I ran healthy in January.  Whatever the case may be, I've started to feel comfortable doing 50 to 60 miles a week again.  After running 46 miles in 4 runs over the last 4 days, I'm doing a mini-taper for a 4-mile race out on Long Island on Saturday.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Week Ending February 27

Mon --  3+ mi. easy on the mill

Tues -- 7 mi. easy on the mill

Wedn -- 5 mi. on the treadmill (1% incline):  1/2 mi. w-u  +  2 mi. @ 6-flat pace  + 1 mi. recov. jog  +  1 mi. @ 6-flat  +  1/2 mi. w-d.  The quick 1/2 mile warm-up was way too little.  I wanted to shock the system a bit but shortening the warm-up wasn't the way to do it.  I was in a pinch time-wise, however, had only forty minutes before I had to be home, but wanted to get in at least 5 miles.  Should at least have pushed through and ran a full 5K @ 6-flat pace but simply didn't feel up to it; the recovery jog gave me a break.  

Thurs -- 12 mi. nice and easy on the treadmill.  Exercised restraint more than anything as I kept the treadmill at an easy, 7 mph (8:34) pace through the first hour.  

Fri -- 7 mi. easy

Sat -- off!

Sun -- 17 miles on Long Island.  Ran from Cold Spring Harbor to Caumsett State Park via Lloyd Harbor, around the 5K loop I'll run at least 5 times in next Sunday's race, then back to Cold Spring Harbor.  

Total:  51 miles 

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Week Ending February 20

Mon -- 5 miles easy on the treadmill.

Tues -- 7 miles hard on the treadmill.  1/2 mi. w-u  +  3 mi. @ 7-flat pace  +  1 mi. @ 6:40  +  2 @ 6-flat  +  1/2 mi. w-d.  Held back in terms of both intensity and miles, but was happy with the effort.    

Wedn -- 16 miles.  NOON: 11 miles untimed around the Queensboro/B-burg Bridge loop.  Felt pretty tired 9 or so miles in along East River Park.  PM: 5 miles on the treadmill.  Felt loose but still tired.  

Thurs -- PM: 5+ miles around Prospect Park.  I drove down Wash Ave. to avoid running the 6.4 extra miles to get to/from the park.

Fri -- NOON: 6 miles around Navy Yard and down Wash Ave. toward Prospect Park and back.

Sat -- 5.5 miles on the mill.  2 mi. w-u  +  3 mi. @ 6-flat pace  +  1/2 mi. w-d.

Sun -- 16 miles (2:06:19) -- Around Navy Yard -- over the Manhattan Bridge -- back across the Brooklyn Bridge -- back around Navy Yard to the gym (1:12) -- 7 miles on the mill between 7:30 and 6-flat pace -- 1/2 mile w-d.

Best run of the week.   Decided to return the shoes I tested out on the treadmill yesterday so I had to run in my old trainers which I was forced to dig out of the trash.  Ran the first 8 or so miles at a comfortable, restrained, 8:30 to 9-flat pace.  Enjoyed just loping along.  Had never done the Manhattan-Brooklyn Bridge loop in that order (counterclockwise) until today.  Somehow the Brooklyn Bridge feels easier in the direction of Brooklyn.

Ran the last 7 or so miles on the treadmill.  Focused on form and gradually going faster.  Great end to the week.  Back on track.

Total: 60.5 miles


Sunday, February 13, 2011

Week Ending February 13

Monday -- 3 mi. easy through Greenpoint via McCarren Park, Lorimer, Meserole, Franklin/Kent; home down S. 6th.

Tuesday -- 8 miles hard around Brooklyn/B-burg Bridges

Wednesday -- 0 miles.  Bedridden with a headache and wicked cough.

Thursday -- 6+ miles (55:xx) with Steve.  B-burg Bridge to Manhattan and back plus Monday's run but bizarro (in reverse).

Friday -- 0 miles.   Still working through illness.

Saturday -- 5 miles with Steve.  Lungs still felt like garbage, but thought Steve deserved the Brooklyn Bridge experience on his first visit to NYC.  Shortened the Brooklyn Bridge/Manhattan Bridge loop for my own sake by driving down to Dumbo.

Sunday -- zippo.

Total: 22 miles

Because I usually only get sick once or twice a year, it usually takes me a day or two longer than a normal person to realize what changes I need to make to hasten my recovery.  This time I realized that I needed to back off the running routine if I didn't want the illness to roll over into next week.  Had Steve not visited, I certainly would have done even less.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

The Blustery Brooklyn Bridge

I set out at noon to run the Brooklyn Bridge yesterday.  From my place in Williamsburg, the loop adds up to about 8 miles.  Glancing at the 40+ temps on the internet--my blood still warm from Sunday--I thought I could get away with wearing shorts and a t-shirt, hat and gloves.

Big mistake.  The wind swarmed me.  But rather than turn around and take the extra minute to put on a windbreaker, I opted to put my head down and speed up for what was intended to be a hard effort anyway, imagining I would heat myself from the inside out.  Even as I conjured an internal fire and tried to convince myself that eventually I would warm up, I knew I never would.

The stone and brick walls along Flushing did shield me as I rounded the Navy Yard and for a moment, the sun even broke through the clouds.  But as I climbed onto the Bridge, the delusion of shelter dropped away like a stage prop, and I sped enviously through the cozy pedestrian crowds in wooly mittens and furry Uggs.

With its narrow, bus-, truck- and vegetable stand-lined streets, I was relieved to arrive in Chinatown where I avoided the chaotic sidewalks by weaving briskly through the stop-and-go car traffic.  Numb, the B-burb Bridge passed in a flash and I was home, chilled to the core.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Week Ending February 6

Monday -- PM: 11.5 on the mill (1:25).  3 mi. w-u -- 3 miles "up" @ 7:00 pace -- 1 mile "down" @ 9:00 -- 4 mi. @ 6:00 pace -- 1/2 mi. w-d.

Tuesday -- NOON: 8.5 easy miles on the mill (1:14).

Wednesday -- NOON: 5 miles easy.  PM: 5 miles easy.

Thursday -- 6 miles (55:xx) Manhattan-Williamsburg Bridges loop.  Several of the streets through Chinatown were fenced off in anticipation of the upcoming Chinese New Year parade, part of Chinatown's broader Year of the Rabbit festivities.  A couple dollar bills tucked neatly into my windbreaker, I stopped by the Don Juan grocery on Forsyth St. in search of the clerk who several Thursday evenings ago graciously loaned me a couple packets of Benedryll when, red-faced and gasping, I stumbled in from the street after trying to ignore the on-set of a mysterious (but not entirely unfamiliar) allergic reaction.    

Friday -- 4 miles easy back on the treadmill (45:xx).

Saturady  -- 11 briskly-paced miles (82:17) around the Queensboro-Williamsburg Bridges loop in lieu of the Snowflake 4-miler.

Sunday -- 6 miles easy (62:27) with Erin.  Manhattan-Williamsburg Bridges loop.  Gloriously sunny and warm, we found ourselves uncomfortably overdressed but merry.  We enjoyed the open amplitude of the fenced off streets in Chinatown.

Total:  57 miles

Saturday, February 5, 2011

The Race that Wasn't

Historically there's been a yin and a yang to the names of the races I've ended up running.  After my triumph in the "Buttercup 5K" over a gaggle of mouth-breathing teens, for example, I ran the "Grizzly Half-Marathon."  Since I now plan to run the "Bear Mountain" race in May (Ursus americanus not Ursus arctos horriblis), I thought I would drive out to Long Beach and run the "Snowflake 4-miler," keep things in balance.

More than that, it feels good to race.  The Sayville 10-miler was my first race in 18 months.  After solid performances in several races largely out West in 2009 (the Medicine Bow half- in Wyoming and the Mickelson half- in South Dakota, among others), autumn project work in New York drew me away from a routine schedule and regular mileage.  Outside of a weekly run or two near my worksite on Bear Mountain, the occasional trot around my temporary dwelling in nearby Harriman State Park, and a longer, get-to-know-you run on the carriage roads of Minnewaska State Park on a rare day off, I didn't find my way back to steady running until the dead of winter.  And just as I was edging towards race shape along with some of the other North Brooklyn Runners, I got into a pinch at work.  Literally.  While building an accessible trail in New Jersey I hastily backed one piece of heavy equipment into another--a DitchWitch SK650 into a self-loading Canycom S100--crushing my right knee between the body of the former and the bucket of the latter.  I spent the remainder of the 2010 playing catch-up. 

Now that I can race again, I want to.  Sayville reminded me of how good it feels to get up, race hard, and then go on with your day.  So yesterday afternoon I registered for the Snowflake--correction--tried to register (electronic pre-registration closed earlier than advertised), packed a bag of post-race clothing, and copied down the directions to the start/finish area which, like the race itself, had been moved from its original alignment on the iced-over Long Beach boardwalk to a parallel street.  I'd be all set to roll out, and then roll, come morning.  

But in the wee, pre-dawn hours I let the combo of the alternative course, the uncommitedness of not yet having officially registered, and, of course, sleep, get the best of me.  The old 11-mile, Queensboro-Williamsburg Bridges loop even with slop of snow and ice on the ground and rain slanting in from above wasn't punishment enough.             

Thursday, February 3, 2011

The North Face Endurance Challenge Bear Mountain 50K

En route to the Deadwood-Mickelson Trail Marathon in June I thought I should do some overdistance. Thus in May I'll be running my first 50K an hour up the Hudson from NYC near West Point, at Bear Mountain.  Because I spent the greater part of the last two years building a re-route of the Appalachian Trail over Bear Mountain as a member of a professional trail crew contracted out by the New York-New Jersey Trail Conference, it seems only fitting that I return to enjoy the fruit of my labors.  Just as Geoff Roes was crossing the 50-mile finish line, I was somewhere in the woods upslope splitting rock for stone steps on the section of AT snaking up from Hessian lake to the summit tower.    

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Week Ending January 30

Monday -- PM:  5 mi. (44:01) on the treadmill.

Tuesday -- PM:  5+ mi. (45:00) on the mill.  The core of this impromptu speed session was a 5K @ 5:30 pace (16:40).  Running late for dinner--my week to cook--, I still wanted to get in some miles.  So after an abbreviated warm-up, I opted simply to do away with the full recovery intervals that traditionally punctuate my early season speed workouts and instead ran a single 5K at race pace.  Or race pace plus.  Because you have to consciously reach out and manually adjust the speed on a treadmill (at least as I typically use it), the machine challenges you to not back off your pre-set pace.  If you don't think you can hold it, you have to decide to back off by pressing the button whereas on the ground you can simply shorten your stride.  

Wednesday -- 0 mi.  Fell down the stairs in my apartment.  

Thursday -- AM:  12 mi. (1:43) on the mill.

Friday -- NOON:  6 mi. (50:57) on the mill.

Saturday -- PM:  3+ mi. (27:xx) on the mill.  Legs starting to notice the increased mileage over the last few weeks and early week speed session.

Sunday -- PM:  4 mi. (32:xx) on the mill.

Total: 35 miles

This was a recovery week for me after two weeks of increased mileage.  It seems I'm back in the natural rhythm of two-weeks-up, one-week-down.  As I get back in the swing of things and become more accustomed to the higher weekly mileage, even "down" weeks will be weeks of 50+ miles.