Monthly Archives: September 2013

Recovery Run and MS150 City to Shore Update


This morning is the last day of my vacation time and is also a recovery day from my weekend of riding the MS150 City to Shore event. 180 miles over two days with good friends and 7000 other riders. It is a lot of riding for a weekend but no too far out of my comfort zone. The best part is riding as part of a team and I am fortunate enough to be associated with two of them (@ElectronicInk

  • and Team Force Majeure) and this means that you all ride together and support each other throughout the event. So many friends with similar interests.

    Having survived the event I am now going to focus on the running again. Today I did a short recovery run to help my legs relax a little after the weekend’s riding. Wonder of wonders, my recovery pace of 7:52 for 3.8 miles was higher than before I started all this ‘unlearn’ activity; it’s good to see that it is paying off even when I’m not trying hard.

    This is also the end of the month so I thought (for fun) I’d post a shot of my workout calendar from mapmyrun. It is good to reflect on what you achieve and it was another record month for me calorie-wise, even though I had a taper week.

    20130930-124021.jpgLooking forward to more running… Lots more running.


    Tapering? Sort of, I Guess.

    I’m not sure my brain entirely understands the concept of tapering as today I ended up running 6 miles at 7:49 pace. I little slow, but I am quite tired after the bike ride yesterday afternoon. It was nice to get back out on my longer and favorite routes. Sucking up some school bus fumes was not so much fun but there weren’t too many of them this morning…

    I think I’m done now until the weekend ride, but I guess we’ll see.

    Today is my daughter’s third birthday. She’s adopted and we got the call about her imminent birth while I was at mile 43 of the MS 150 in 2010. My wife drove up from the finish line to meet me and we went directly to the hospital to see her birth. What a tremendous weekend that turned out to be!

    20130925-075512.jpgThis in the poster from that weekend’s ride. We have this hanging in her playroom as a reminder of that day.

    Don’t Overthink It

    It is so much harder to get out and run when you are officially on vacation, especially after late nights with good food and a couple of beers with your parents. 🙂

    But I managed to get out for a quick three mile run today. For some reason my brain thought that 42F was going to be cold, but it wasn’t too bad once I was out there and the cool air was lovely to breathe in. Three miles @ 7:34 pace was good considering my brain didn’t want to run at all; my body ran out the door while my brain wasn’t paying attention. This is a neat trick that I’d recommend to anyone that finds themselves overthinking their runs. Let your brain focus in on something, let it continue to be distracted with some detail, but then just get up and walk outside… then start running before your brain concocts any other excuses! I found myself heading out of my road before my brain even realized it. Heh, heh, heh. Stoopid brain.

    This afternoon I managed to get out and do a quick bike ride in preparation for the weekend’s MS150 ride. If you are short on time but want to squeeze in a quality ride then aim for clear roads and hills. The hills help you build up more stamina for the longer rides. My tracking app freaked out and only recorded 4.16 miles instead of the 17+ that I did! but that’s no big shakes; I’d rather it did that on a bike ride than a run any day.

    One or two more mornings of light exercise before I taper down completely in preparation for the 175 miles I’ll be riding over the weekend. I have to also hydrate and not have too many beers until after the ride and that is difficult now my dad has stocked the house with beer, wine, gin and whiskey.

    It is so much easier to practice self-control when you have no good stuff in the house (our normal M.O.).

    Cross-Training Injury Narrowly Avoided.

    No run today as my father loaded me up with whiskey last night so I was too hungover to run. Plus, my gear was in the room that my parents are staying in, so I couldn’t get to it. I’ve already pulled some gear out for the next few days…

    However, it gives me a chance to comment on my cross-training from this weekend.

    Bounce-U with my little one on Saturday was entertaining, but my father (69) decided to climb up a tall tower and got caught partway for quite a long time. He did eventually make it to the top and come down the slide to rapturous applause from other parents at the place.

    Sunday was a cycling day. 77 miles of flat trails with my team mates. We are fortunate enough to rarely have accidents, but not this week.

    My friend Leo caught my back tyre as we squeezed through a small ramp near the Falls Bridge in Philly. I went right and he left, resulting in his tyre going into my rear wheel and causing him to rollover with the bike. His clips didn’t pop undone and he ended up with a deep and bloody cut around his ankle. Fortunately there was a police officer nearby who called for an ambulance and a medic (24 hour relay race was still going), who bandaged him up and shipped him off to a hospital. 11 stitches. Ouch.

    I’m not sure if I should feel guilty. I was in front and didn’t know where he was, or that he was that close. I went to the right which is unusual for that point and I didn’t communicate that I was going to go that way. Crunch! He seems to be recovering well and I’ll take over some whiskey to try and help him feel better about it.

    Thankfully he wasn’t intending to ride the MS150 next weekend with the rest of the group.

    It is important to keep communicating at every point of your ride when you are in a large group. Sometimes we all need reminders.

    Heel quickly mate. Two weeks and then we can be back on the trails…

    Practice What You Preach.

    I’m proud of myself today for I practiced what I preach on these pages: get up, get out and run.

    My parents are visiting for a coule of weeks and their arrival was delayed due to airlines, etc., so I got to bed two hours later than usual last night. Despite this my body woke me up at five AM as normal and rather than rolling over and falling back to sleep I got up, grabbed my running gear and went downstairs.

    I sat and contemplated it for a whole, but then headed out the front door. And the rewards were massive.

    Firstly, that rather splendid harvest moon that we are experiencing at the moment. Wow, it was so bright out there that I didn’t need to use my flashlight to see (I still had it flashing so that drivers could see me though!). No picture as I doubt my camera phone has the low-light wherewithal to be able to produce a good enough image. It will be imprinted on my memory though, as will the feeling of achievement and serenity.

    Secondly, my legs felt fast after a day of rest yesterday, resulting in a 7:17 pace over three miles. I had strong form and was starting to experiment with increasing stride without over-striding; a tricky balance to try and maintain. I still need to do more experimentation around this along with some appropriate training moves.

    Thirdly, running back home was towards a rather superb sunrise. There’s something poetic about seeing the road you are on rolling into a distant sunrise. Lovely.

    Really, I was scheduled to do a track day, but any run is better than no run, and this run was better than most.

    This next week is going to see a gradual reduction in workouts as I start a taper week before my one big cycling weekend of the year; the MS 150 City to Shore ride.


    Picking Up The Pace and Friendly Advice


    I managed to get out of the house this morning despite the chilly 42F temps. Hurrah for small miracles!

    My aim today was to increase my speed on my three mile course and I achieved this with a 7:15 pace. Good form held through the run and I think the few yoga stretches I’ve been doing are helping loosen my thighs and ease my back.

    Last night I did a little cross-training hill ride in my bike. Not a long course (twelve miles or so) but with a couple if solid climbs to build some stamina in my thighs. I tend to try to keep the bike in the large front gear to build resistance rather than dropping to the smaller chain ring and using a higher cadence. I do use both techniques but for different situations.

    After the ride I went to a local bar with friends, one if whom is just starting out in running and is having problems with shin splints. He had been told to do all his running on his toes and doesn’t have a decent pair of running shoes. Without seeing someone run it is hard to offer advice, but I did any way. I suggested the method I’ve been using of mid-foot strike then dropping to heel before the push off. But the method he’s using is perfectly valid (quite a lot have switched to that bare-foot style approach) it just takes longer to build up the distance.

    In reality it is probably best that he gets to a running store and seeks advice on the shoes he should use for his foot type, and then sees where that gets him. It takes a long time to get the supporting muscles when you start out so it is important not to rush the process; enjoy the gradual build up and savour the victories you make over distances and time.

    We each need to find our own ways to enjoy this sport.

    Danger: Do Not Engage Brain

    I awoke with a start. An hour before my alarm was due to go off I had a cramp in my left calf muscle. What the #? This jump started my brain and once your brain gets going that early in the morning there’s no shutting back down.

    I got up and put on my running gear and tried to loosen that muscle through walking. Not enough, unfortunately. I tried going back to bed. As it was I’d had an early night and I wanted to try and make up the forty-five minutes I’d lost at that end of the night.

    Chatter. Chatter. Chatter. My brain was having none of it.

    Eventually I gave in and got up and could still feel the knot in my calf, so I did some Yoga for Runners. Boy, are my thighs and calves tight still. Not enough. I got the hard plastic ball down and used that to roll my calf muscle out. Mmmmm, nice. Sweet, sweet pain.

    Now it is six fifteen and I cannot muster myself through the door. Even thinking about it now my butt is staying firmly on the stool while my mind is trying to push it out the door.

    I will ride my bicycle to work today, but I think I’ve missed my running window. I know I’ll regret it all day. I already do. But my butt is still firmly on the chair. I want to run three fast miles.

    Stupid brain.

    Be quiet.

    No, seriously. Stop it…


    20130917-063408.jpgYes, that is a Pig Riding a Pineapple. See: Noisy brain.

    Inspired. Driven. Faster.

    I’m not sure what made the difference today. Too many variables.

    I did some Yoga for Runners before I started.

    Last night I read about some crazy Boston ex-marathoner in Runner’s World who now competes successfully at all the tough mudders and similar races. He is really nuts but so focused. I love his training ethos.

    I tested out the ‘coaching mode’ on mapmyrun to see what that would be like with a pace of 7:20 set. Interesting but I’m not sure I can be egged on by an electronic voice. Besides she was telling me to slow down most of the time…

    My wife ran the Rock’n’Roll Half in Philly yesterday so I switched my cycling to Saturday. 77 miles in five hours, but 45 of those miles were Hills (capital-H; 12-16% in sections). This gave me an extra day to recover and all I did yesterday was two hours of Bounce-U with my daughter.

    Or was it inspiration from my track run on Friday?

    Today I ran a two mile short loop and just went for it. My result was a 7:01 pace and I had several sections that were faster still.

    20130916-062202.jpgMy heart rate was in the 90% range for the return mile of my run but that didn’t slow me down.

    I definitely need to do some work on my thigh strength and pushing back with my feet, plus I need to spend some time loosening my hip flexors and thighs to make my flow better.

    Now to build this level of performance into a longer run…

    Track Blast 5K

    I wanted to see how I was progressing with my speed work because the last few slow runs have been a little disappointing.

    So rather than doing an interval run I chose to do a track blast. Basically trying to run a 5k at race pace/conditions.

    I managed to run four laps straight at a consistent 7:00-7:10 range, then sped up a little for the next five laps at 6:55-7:00 pace. At this point I had to take a half lap walk as I was shot and had no power left in the tank. After that brief respite I powered through the last three and a half laps at 7:07, 6:47 and 6:16 pace.

    I ran a total of 3.25 miles (slightly over 5k) in 23:19. Not too shabby. I clearly need to do some more work on how long I can go at that pace which was more a mental battle than anything else.

    I held good form throughout but forgot my heart monitor strap so I have no stats on that.

    At least I feel a little better about my overall pace now which will spur me on for the next week of running.

    Breaking News: Champagne isn’t a Good Fuel for Runners

    20130912-062456.jpgI believe I have to publish the bad runs as well as the good ones, so here goes.

    After a night of celebration for 20 yrs with m’lady I put in my worst time recorded since starting this blog. It wasn’t a late night but the fuel wasn’t perfect from a performance point of view.

    After completing my exhaustive study, with no blinding and a group size of one, I can say that Champagne is not a good preparation for running. 🙂

    We had pizza, champagne, and choco lava cakes with ice cream for our little celebration, plus a couple of small cupcakes left over from an afternoon party my daughter attended.

    This morning I was very thirsty (mildly hung over, I guess), it was also hot and humid outside (71F) which was not a good combination.

    However, the measure of a runner is if they still get up and go out there regardless. And this I did.

    Four miles with a pace of 8:17 and my heart rate was pretty low the whole time until my desperate sprint to try and salvage my time. It didn’t work.

    I guess I won’t be changing my diet to have champagne more regularly… ho hum. If a champagne company would like to sponsor me to do some more research I guess I might consider it though.

    On the bright side I did see a meteor zoom overhead today.