Monthly Archives: July 2014

Perfect Day for a ?

Today we had perfect weather here in PA. Mid-50a this morning and upto high-70s this afternoon.

I made the choice early to ride rather than run and I do regret it a little. The idea of another group hill run was not appealing as I regularly run hills anyway. Then I got the news this afternoon that the track that the FastTracks group use at Conestoga High School has been repaired and we could have a normal track night. Bah! I had already riden to work without my running shoes.

Oh well, there’s always next week. And I did really enjoy the bike ride to and from work. Plus, I also found out that my bike’s bottle holders can contain Venti Starbucks iced coffee cups very easily. I was sure to take advantage of the free refill that Gold status entitles you to. Lovely!


Chills are Multiplyin’

What’s this? Another sub-60F morning with a gentle cooling breeze. Is this really the middle of summer?

Another fantastic morning for running. After Sunday’s fainting episode (see the updated blog entry) I had a pint of water before I went out and then loaded up with a few shot blocks in my SPIBelt and my blinkie.

I chose one of my favourite out and back routes and struck out. Within 100 yards I saw another runner (she looked very experienced; good form and musculature) and nodded “mornin'”, then decided to take the more challenging hilly version of the run.

Once my legs warmed up at about the one mile point my speed started to improve. I was trying to remember to do the butt clench while running and think I did a reasonable job of that this time. My pace throughout looked pretty good.

20140729-065049-24649158.jpgThere are a couple of very respectable splits in that set.

On the return run I think I saw the same woman heading back the other way. I again nodded a greeting but it wasn’t returned this time.

I completed the run strong and without any faintness at all with a good pace of 7:44 avg over 6.6 miles. Not too shabby given this was a recovery run from the long weekend run.

I received a ‘congratulations’ message from Paula Radcliffe courtesy of nike+ for completing another 500 kilometres, so that was nice.

Lost in the Forest and Asking for Water

Today’s long slow run was an adventure for me. I headed out towards my favourite place Evansburg State park with the aim of trying to join my run from home up with a trail that I like to run over by the Perkiomen River. I knew I was going to run all that way because that would have made it a twenty plus mile run, but I wanted to over lap them at least a little.

My legs were weary before I started and perhaps going to bed two hours later last night wasn’t such a good idea as I planned for an earlier start to overcome Sunday morning dithering. I did a little rolling with The Stick and stuffed down a Clif bar. I loaded up my water bottle and some Clif shot blocks and headed out.

The initial 4 miles to the park went by uneventfully and thinking back now I can barely remember them. It’s only for the GPS that I know which way I went. That is weird.

Once across the Skippack river I tried to find the place where the the Perkiomen/Skippack trail joins into the park. I headed in the general direction I felt it should be and then spotted a horse trail off to the side and darted down that.

This trail twisted and became narrow and I soon lost all sense of direction but at least it was single track so I couldn’t get lost. Eventually it came back out on a park road and I could see the sign that showed the park rules. I was right where I needed to be. Talk about luck! I then headed off down the Skippack trail a little way until I thought I should turn back.

But did I turn back or go off exploring new routes? Silly question.

I headed off to try and find my way back to home through some different roads. Thirty minutes later I had no idea where I was so I stopped and brought up my GPS app. Yikes. I had made a few wrong turns that had me headed out further than I wanted to go. I plotted the fastest route back which would unfortunately mean running up a very long hill. A very, very long hill. It is known locally as Mile Hill and it is at least that long. Oh well.

Once I got to the foot of that hill unrealised I was about to run out of water. The sun had come out partway through the run and I was melting and was drinking too quickly. I popped into a Produce Shop and asked them to refill my water bottle, but instead they gave me a free bottle of water. What lovely people! It was enough to fill my bottle back to the top and to give me a little to refresh me.

Then it was time to take the hill. It was a long slow grind and I was already exhausted from the heat and miles. But I fought my way up the hill without stopping for a rest and then only had two miles to get back home. Hurrah.

There was an interesting decomposed possum by the side of the road. It was just bones and looked like a fossil (as I guess that’s how I’m used to seeing skeletons), but I find it fascinating to see how creatures are structured.

Anyway, I made it home and my distance/pace is nothing to write home about but considering two stops (and I don’t think the timers stopped) it wasn’t too bad. 14.7 miles with 8:50 pace. 876ft of gain through the run with most of towards the end.



** Immediately after this post I went inside to shower, felt faint and passed out. Too little food, a bit of dehydration, standing up too quickly and the crazy 86F heat were probably to blame. I now have a cut across the bridge of my nose where my glasses were when I head butted the granite countertop in my kitchen. My wife caught me so I didn’t hit the deck and after some TLC, Honey-Grahams and a cup of tea, I feel a lot better. During the run I lost 3 lbs from sweating despite having had 4 bottles of water when I returned. I should have eaten while I was doing the blog and messaging with my friend. Lesson learned.

Chill Out It’s Summer!

Or should that be:

It’s chilly out and it’s summer?.

I went out slightly earlier this morning to accommodate my wife’s need to run as well, but I was actually cold when I went outside. That seems like such an alien feeling at this point in the summer. Normally by mid-July it is crazy hot all the time.

Don’t get me wrong as I am not complaining. This is wonderful to run in.

Today I did a quick loop run with a little bit of hills. I had one issue with a gate I couldn’t get open and, once through, I couldn’t get it to stay closed. Despite this I still managed four miles with a 7:40 avg pace.

20140725-061347-22427065.jpgI think it is always interesting that you can see exactly where the hill is. I enjoy the fact that I know the area so well now that I can string different parts of various routes together to make the length that I want to achieve. MapMyRun had this at 3.92 but nike+ recorded 4.06. The difference: all those tiny steps I took to get up the staircase hill near the local middle school. 🙂

In other news I achieved the fourth level on Nike+ this week (I’ve only been using it this year). I expected the site to give me an achievement message but I guess they figure you are hooked in sufficiently by this stage. 🙂

Walk Run Combination

On early Wednesday morning my fellow FastTracks runner Keith completed his BadWater135 run after 42 hours and 21 minutes. Wow. An excellent job for a very challenging event.

Last night I decided to bail on yet another hill workout (the track is being resurfaced) and instead opted for a four mile walk with a friend who is on a massive weight loss campaign and is doing very well with it. It has been a long time since I actually just walked anywhere and it was a refreshing change for me. I also found that it tired me or more than I expected. My calves were achy afterwards and I found it hard to get going the next morning. It was quite hot when we started out (94F) but the path I chose was shaded and by the river, so it didn’t feel too bad. We had planned for a two mile walk but we decided to extend as we were both enjoying it. The Betzwood River Trail is a lovely place to run and walk and has good facilities around it; benches for resting, toilet blocks, water fountains. I’m glad we took the water along on the trail though because we needed it. We only just made it back to the car before a storm blew into the area.

I guess you use subtly different muscles when you walk and I don’t really use them too often. Definately feeling it. It was a very therapeutic walk though.

This morning (after struggling to get moving initially) I headed out for a quick ~6.5 miler. Pace wasn’t great but was a fair 7:48 and given the aches in my legs, I’ll take that. 🙂

Quick Out and Back

Some mornings it is best just to go back to basics. No fancy intervals, hills or such like. So. Today as part of my recovery from the fifteen miler on Sunday, I ran a quick four mile run; two out and two back.

The temperature was lovely and cool and close to ideal for running at 65F so I went out at full steam after eating one third of a clif bar and (dynamic) stretching a little.

I saw several small deer out today, one of which was clearly from Valley Forge because it had no fear of people and staid within a few feet of me as I went stomping by.

There was also one crazy dude out in his Mustang who ripped past another driver and then ran through a stop intersection at about fifty mph. I know it was early but there were clearly other people around. Life’s too short to be that stressed.

Four miles in 29:37 for a pace of 7:20. From the graph you can see that I started quite fast and managed to settle into a fast pace quite quickly.

20140722-061259-22379567.jpgEnough about me; now an update on Mr Straw who is running the BadWater ultra. Overnight he moved from 41st to 26th place and reached the 75 mile marker in 17 hours and 30 minutes. He’s gradually eating away at everyone’s times. :-). Follow the race on twitter with @BadWater or #badwater135 for some excellent photos.

BadWater Race: Move those legs, Keith.

Just a quick blog post to wish Keith Straw (fellow FastTracks running club member) the best of luck with the 2014 BadWater race.

Team Tutu hit the trail at 7am this morning and can be followed on the BadWater website: BadWater . The progress of the runners can be tracked with twitter too. Follow #BadWater135 or @badwater to see what’s going on.

This year they are not at the usual location due to Death Valley State Park reviewing their safety rules, so they’ve moved it and made it more difficult with over 14k ft of climbing. Crikey.

Stay safe everyone.

Distance Makes the Heart Grow Stronger

For my Sunday long slow run I chose to do a new route that took in parts of some of my other fave trails but joined then up with shortcuts that I had discovered on recent runs. I also needed to go quite long as I took rest days on Thursday and Friday.

Fifteen and a half miles on legs that are feeling a little weak (due to not eating enough, I suspect) was quite tough. The route was a little hilly with 870ft gain but nothing too excessive. My pace was dreadfully slow again at 8:40. I don’t think running later works for me. I’m better if I just get up and get out the door early.

There were many people out on the trails today. Some large groups of cyclists (Berks Counth bicycle Club were very polite) and lots of families walking. I love to see the trails in use. Many of the cyclists were not announcing though and on some occasions I called out for them as they were going to be overtaking me as I overtook others. If I hadn’t checked behind me it would have been a mess.

Today I chose to listen to music while I ran and made a running list of some of my own songs. I was out for over two hours and didn’t very to the end if the list so that’s always a good thing. :-).

Now to eat, shower, rest and play around for the rest of the day.

Big client go-live this weekend so I have to keep an eye on work in case I get called in to help out.

Climb Every Mountain

Okay, that might just be exaggerating a little but once again track night was transplanted to the hills of Malvern for an exciting interval hill workout on Old State Road. The track is closed for renovations for a few weeks but that doesn’t stop the club training.

Just as last week we jogged over and then did one interval so that people could get a measure of the hill. Then we had to do another six repetitions.

You have to choose your pace carefully so that you can stick to it throughout the set of repeats. The people that went out too hard last week didn’t make the same mistake this week and it looked to me to be a better, more evenly paced run.

Last week I came second but this week I was fourth. There were two other fast runners in the group that weren’t there the previous week. I think my time was pretty consistent.


20140717-124233-45753472.jpgFor some reason my app tracks the hill as only being around sixty feet but others in the club measure it to be much more with their Garmins.

I tried to continue my efforts at running with my butt clenched a little to engage the glutes but it seems that you can’t really do that when running hills. You have to lift your legs higher to get up the hill and I found I couldn’t hold the clench through that. Hills naturally engage your glutes anyway but it was an interesting experiment.

I took the morning off today as I had a late night partying with friends. It can’t all be just about exercise after all. 🙂

Clench Those Cheeks

After reading a post about Leg Muscles by BornToPlod the other day I decided that this aligns with my experiences with glutes muscle usage, in that I don’t often engage them while I am running. It is something I’ve been trying to work on and have mentioned in this blog before, but his post had the suggestion to try running as if you are clenching a credit card between your cheeks. So that is what I did today.

To start with it is quite an odd feeling and you will have to keep reminding yourself to reclench as you run down the road. I also found that it interfered with the light that I was wearing on my SPIbelt (it was an overcast gloomy morning and I wanted to be sure I oils be seen on the road) and kept making the light move around the belt which is something that never normally happens. Odd, huh? At the time this simply annoyed me and it is only in retrospect that I see it was related to the technique I was using. With my butt clenched I’ll have to start wearing the belt slightly higher.

I found that I had to engage my abs more while doing this as otherwise my hips rotated too far forward making it uncomfortable to run.

Now, whether any of this made a difference I cannot say as it was hot and 90%+ humidity this morning, so I was moving slowly. I can certainly feel it in my glutes now I am sitting in my comfy office chair. I’ll try it out for a few more runs to see how it goes. I guess you have to build up the use of these additional muscles too if you haven’t been using them properly before.

Today’s run was a ‘significant number’ distance of 6.66 miles but at a not so magic pace of 8’12. By the time I got home I was totally drenched as the sweat doesn’t evaporate when the humidity is that high.