Monthly Archives: June 2014

Run Commute, Bike Ride and Beach Shorts

I am the very definition of a sweaty mess right now.

For some reason I thought today would be a good day to run home from work but it is 85F and very muggy. If perspiration can cascade then I am a bubbling mountain stream. I’ll have to run back tomorrow morning but I was scheduled to run that distance tomorrow anyway.

Given the heat, the hills (490 ft of climbing) and three short walking breaks, my pace was a healthy 8:35 for 7.12 miles. The first few miles were sub-eight minute but I was slower once the uphills kicked in.

Over the weekend I did a leisurely bike ride with a friend along the shore in Avalon, New Jersey for 12.5 miles. It was quite hot then with headwinds for half the distance, but it is always nice to be in a place where there are many people enjoying ridinbr even if they are going slowly and not wearing helmets!

Finally, it was fun to hangout with my friends and kids on the beach on Saturday afternoon where there were plenty of runners to watch (and envy) as they went along the shore front. It does bring me to wonder whether it is okay to follow (with eyes) the early-twenties girl that was running along in a bright red bra top and skin tight black shorts that cut across the middle of each butt cheek; it would be hard not to look, to be honest, but is that appropriate wear? I guess if she’s comfortable in it and doesn’t mind the looks from everyone then it’s okay… I’m always surprised by people having that much confidence that they can run in so little; she could certainly carry it off though.

The reason I raise this is because last week is the first time I ran with out a t-shirt and it is a very odd (and wobbly) feeling. (#FreeNipple, I guess this is appropriate given the women’s rights campaign that has been running for the last year or so). I did the same thing tonight once I got half-way to try and cool down; it does feel very strange but is much cooler especially when the wind blows.

I hope tomorrow AM will be a little cooler or I’ll be a puddle in the corner of the office!

Just a Quick Morning Run

After a slowish start I finally found my legs again. Just a short run today because both my wife and I needed to get out before our pancake breakfast.

The first couple of miles were relatively flat and then I took the new secret pathway up the hill to the school and then started to ratchet up the power.

20140627-190442-68682500.jpgAs you can see the last two segments were really fast for me. 6:20 for the sprint home was especially good. That’s is almost track speed! It was all due to breathing deeply, engaging abs and trying to use my glutes.

Also I had a wonderful massage on Thursday night that freed up some of my muscle tightness.

This has been a good week for speed.

Track Night: Timed Mile #2 and Cross-Training

Wednesday means it is track night for the FastTracks running club. The predictions were for mid-80s temps with quite high humidity and the weather delivered.

I also chose today to ride my bike to work so I clocked up 10 miles in the morning and then had to ride four miles up a big 450ft hill to get to the track. It was a nice warm up.

The practice tonight was to be another one mile time trial to see where we’ve got to since the last one, and then 6x 400m at two mile race pace with 200m jogging recovery.

I warmed up and felt fast like I did the other morning so I was looking forward to the time trial. This time I blasted through and completed in 6:08 which is 16 seconds faster than the last one I did. Whoop!

Then after a short break it was time for the rest of the workout. I did the first three sets and then started to get slight rapping in my thigh so I stopped. With a twelve mile ride home I needed to make sure my legs weren’t going to be shot. We had been running slightly faster (6 secs per 400m) than we should so maybe that contributed to it.

Oh, and not only was I faster we actually ran a true mile rather than just four laps. Those extra nine meters make a difference, you know!

20140625-204524-74724829.jpgThe twelve miles home were fun as the first three were all downhill. Whee!

Strike Your Superhero Pose

Stand tall all you runners. All you early morning risers. All those who stretch lightly on the driveway at 5 am and deftly head off down the road.

Some days you feel stronger than others. For me today was one of those days. After a light stretch I looked down the drive and I felt fast before I even took a step. Was it because I cross-trained on Sunday with a bike ride rather than doing a long run? Probably. Was it because I had a relaxing, fun-packed weekend? Could be. Was it because I ate more reliably and substantially over the previous few days? I’ve no way to be sure but I knew before I took flight that I was going to be faster today.

I eased into the first half mile and turned up the gas early on. I concentrated on my breathing, ensuring that I took deeper breaths rather than two shallow ins, followed by a deep out. I had to pause to cross one road to allow for traffic, but then it was away again to attack some hills.

The temperature was a cool 68F and the sun was clouded over so heat and humidity were very low.

Here are my pace times:

20140624-130416-47056429.jpgIs it a bird? Is it a plane?

I started out quite fast (for me) and steadily improved throughout with a scorching last mile pace under 7 mins/mile.

Awesome run. Awesome start to the day. I salute all you other runners and hope that you have a day like this in your near future so that you, too, may strike your superhero pose and stare off into the distance having vanquished the run.

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Friday Morning Combo Run

The temp this morning was a perfect 55F when I stepped outside. Oh yeah!

So I was in a quandary as to what type if run I should do. Should I run track to make up for Wednesday night’s meltdown? Should I run hills? Should I just relax and enjoy it?

I chose to do a bit of all three. I relaxed during the first two miles while I ran to a hill. Then I jogged down and ran hard back up the half mile hill. After this I tried to do a negative split on each remaining half mile. For the final half mile I shifted up to close to track speed and ripped my way back home.

A little bit of everything.

20140620-065726-25046463.jpg5.5 miles with and avg pace of 7:53 and some nice speed at the end.

Feeling good about things and setup for a nice Friday.

Only twelve miles to go before I graduate to the next level of my nike+ account; level 4, whatever that means.

Have a great weekend out there!

Track Night Meltdown

The summer finally arrived in PA this week and it hit with a vengeance. When I arrived at track tonight for the workout it was 91F (32.7C). Super hot.

I warmed up with two gentle laps and then did the prescribed dynamic stretches. By this time the sweat was pouring off my face so I returned to my car to get my halo headband as it is great at keeping the sweat out of my eyes.

The group was called to order and the workout began. The set was to be:
6x 400m @ mile race pace, with 200m recovery jogs.
4x 200m @ half-mile race pace, with 200m recovery jogs.

According to the coach, you can calculate your half-mile race pace by halving your mile pace and subtracting 3-5 seconds. It should feel like 95% effort compared to mile race pace being about 90% effort.

I started out strong and completed the first four sets of 400m but then bailed because the heat was just too much. My speed was going down quickly and I just wasn’t enjoying the run. After all, I do this because I like it so when it feels like that I just want to stop. I guess I need to build up my ability to run in the heat and running all through the winter and early in the mornings doesn’t help to build that stamina.

It was nice to sit in the shade with a cold water and watch the others finish off their runs. It gives me a lot of pleasure to see so many people that enjoy running being out together.

Father’s Day Blowout and Monday Delight

This Sunday was Father’s Day and I booked up to do a bike ride with my 3.5 year old daughter in the bike trailer. I thought this would be a great fun thing to do together for the morning and I had enjoyed the event in past years when I rode with friends. However, I didn’t pay close enough attention to the ticket because this year (probably in an attempt to improve attendance) they moved the event to the weekend after Father’s Day. But did I notice. Well, no, of course not. So after struggling to get my daughter out if bed early, breakfasted and out the door we arrive at the venue and there’s no-one else there… Well, other than a lawn mower man and one other cyclist. Grrrr, to put it susinctly.

Not one to be foiled by such a downturn we headed back towards home and went to the local trail instead. The trail is really heavily used so I knew this would give my daughter a lot of chances to use the comedy penguin squeaker and cowbells that we load the trailer up with. She didn’t let me down and was finding all sorts of excuses to make noise. We rode about 10 miles, I guess, with many stops and starts as we adjusted things on the trailer and with her setup (tyres had too much pressure and were causing to many vibrations to pass into the trailer; just let the pressure down a bit). We had a good ride and pulling a 40+ lb child and all their stuff is a good workout especially when you haven’t done much riding this year.

20140616-085852-32332674.jpgOn Monday morning I awoke around five AM and lay there until 5:20 when I heard my wife walking around to feed the bairn. So I got up and headed straight out for a run. My legs felt well rested and I wanted to go long to make up for my lack of a run on Sunday. I thought I would do around eight miles but somehow ended up with 9.5. Whoops. It was perfect outside with a cool 57F start to the day and a gentle breeze. I didn’t go very fast as I ended with an 8:26 pace but I really enjoyed the run. I had the volume set really low on my phone so I couldn’t hear the voices of my robo-judges chiming in.

I ran the Moran trail again today which is a wooded shortcut that runs near Evansburg state park. It is still quite muddy in places along the trail which is really meant for horses (I think) but it is okay to deal with sometimes.

Another thing I achieved today was to run over 1.5 miles with my water bottle in my left (non-dominant) hand. I normally find this debilitating and too distracting but something just clicked today. This is good as I feel I need to be more balanced when I am carrying he bottle in my hands rather than in a belt.

I have noticed that I really do not engage my abs or glutes very much when running slow long distances, so I’m going to try and work on that and will try to find some exercises that target those muscles.

Have a great day everyone.

A Disturbed Night = A Hard Run

The system we use for monitoring our baby was playing up last night. As a result it kept sounding false alarms all through the night. It must have disturbed me 10 or more times.

Consequently I struggled to run this morning. Firstly I laid in for an extra hour to try and recoup some Zzzs but that didn’t really help. Then when I it the streets the humidity was crazy. I chose to run a similar route to the new one I found yesterday so that I keep pushing myself with some challenging hills. I cut out one loop back to reduce the length to a mere 3.75 miles but that didn’t help. My legs felt like lead and my lungs burned with the heat. Trudging up the steps towards Arcola school made my legs ache and seeing the deer at the only have me a brief smile while I was trying to catch my breath.

I ended up with a slow pace of 8:29 which is 40 secs per mile slower than yesterday! That’s a dramatic drop in pace and while the muggy weather didn’t help, I’m putting it mostly down to the disturbed night.

I’m looking forward to having a rest day tomorrow and may simply do a bike ride for Father’s Day on Sunday. We’ll see as I’ve not commited yet.

One other thing: when will the World Cup end? Yes, I am British. Yes, I grew up playing football in school. No, I don’t like it or anything about it. I don’t have World Cup fever but more of an allergy. The constant bombardment from all sides (Facebook, podcasts, twitter) is already driving me nuts. I think I may step away from those feeds until the tournament is through. That would be a good thing to do anyway…

Continued Recovery and Race Photos

I took the night off on Wednesday and didn’t attend track training because I don’t feel like my legs have fully recovered from the extra effort I put into the half-marathon on Sunday. Instead I received an email from Runner’s World with a link to ‘my photos’.

Now, I’m in a quandary here as the site is so lax with its security that within two minutes I was able to fully access all of my photos without any security protection on the images. The quandary is that I have a good friend who is a professional race photographer and I feel that I wouldn’t want to ‘steal’ from him. However, this wasn’t related to him and I would hope that he uses a site that has slightly more challenging infrastructure support. I’m not going to say here how I got the images but it was stupidly simple. My advice to the photographers is to change their hosting service ASAP. If they would like some advice I’m sure I could provide some.

The photos did reveal a few things about my running that day. Firstly the shots from the start show good form and smiles. The photos from halfway and beyond are a different story though. There are plenty of shots that show heavy feet and heel landing while running, despite the efforts I’ve put into shift this to more of a mid foot strike. Clearly I was very tired and thirsty by this point in the run.

There are a few good pictures that show the ‘race face’ that I was deliberately pulling after attending Mark Remy’s session at the expo. Whenever I spotted a photographer I tried to turn my face inside out. It helped that I was genuinely finding the run tough!

Today I went for a short local run and found an exciting new hilly route that uses some of the service roads of a local school. In the 4.3 mile route it had an elevation gain of 200 feet. The surprise to me was that this was barely off my normal route but was hidden from the sidewalk by overgrown bushes covering the entrance. I achieved a pace of 7:50 despite the hills so I’m quite happy with that.

I’ll leave the blog today with a photo of my wife and I before the start. This is a picture that we had another runner take and wasn’t a part of my booty.

20140612-132732-48452592.jpg

Recovery: Roll Me with your Massage Stick, Roll me, Roll me.

Roll me slowly. Roll me quick. Roll me. Roll me. Roooo-la-me! (To the tune of “Hit me with your rhythm stick” by Ian Drury and the Blockheads).

In place of this morning’s run I got up early and spent forty-five minutes with my new harder rolling stick. Painful. Good. Ahh.

I also did some calf stretches and downward facing dog to ensure that my legs loosen up a little.

In truth my legs are still quite sore from the run on Sunday so I must have hit it hard. I spent most if the day hobbling around the office for the first ten steps when I initially stood up.

Come this evening though and I wanted to get out and run. The temps were in the low 80s with some cloud and I wanted to hit some hills. After my perceived defeat on Sunday I wanted to show I could still do hills so I chose a short five mile route around Valley Forge National Historical Park and headed there after work.

The heat was terrible and on a couple of occasions I felt like I should stop and walk but I fought through it and kept going despite it all. I had a water bottle with me and half filled it with gatorade as I am still trying to recover from the weekend. I was a sweaty mess by the end but I felt like I was mentally stronger for having done this. I didn’t want to feel beaten any longer.

5.1 miles (including bathroom stop) @8:15 pace. That’ll do.

20140610-195022-71422165.jpgThe Finish.