It is that time of year again when I have to cut back on my running and start to actually ride my bike. At the end of September each year I ride the MS society city to shore ride that is 150-200 miles depending on your route. And riding that distance over two days requires some preparation. Most years I would have ridden close to 2000 miles by this point but this year it is closer to 150… That’s what you get when you switch to focusing on your running.
So, today I headed out and did an 82 mile exploration ride to find the West end of the Schuylkill River Trail. I didn’t realise quite how long it was heading out that way as it is broken into sections that aren’t joined together. However I did get to the end and take a picture where it turned into a single gravel path that sort of faded away.
The temperature and humidity was high and I believe it officially was ‘hotter than balls’ as it made it up to 96F (qualifying range 92-94F). Also, I got rained on for the last 1.5 miles which was lovely!
I think that running has definitely helped me with my riding as my legs were very strong. The only issue is that I have to get my butt used to being on the saddle against these sort of distances that really matters. The only solution is time in the saddle and that’s what I’m going to have to put in.
I will try to do a few runs too but the focus has to shift a little.
After our six month old decided to wake early and disturb his sister, I decided to squeeze an unplanned run into my vacation week. I hit the streets at seven am and it was still chilly with a mist rising in the valleys.
Being in an unknown area I decided to take a simple route out of the RV park and then head up the first decent side street I could find. Because our site is nestled in a valley that meant all side streets were going to be uphill runs. If you’re going to run a short distance you might as well make it count! Also, it is easiest to go uphill towards the start of your run.
So I headed up a brutal hill that just kept on going up and up. The 2.5 mile mark happened to be at the crest of the hill, so I stopped, snapped a couple of piccies and headed back down.
The view from the top was pretty and I certainly felt like I was out in the middle of nowhere with the farm animals. :-).
The run back was faster because it was all downhill. I was trying stretch my stride and increase the cadence to maximize this and did hit one sub-seven minute half mile. But, at the end of the day, it was supposed to be a relaxing holiday run and wasn’t part of any training plan, so it all counts as a bonus.
The skew on this graph shows how much faster I was downhill than uphill. Now to get back to the vacation.
On Friday I picked up an RV for the week and the family and I went up to the finger lakes. We have a lovely wooden spot up near Watkins Glen and I’ve not been planning any runs or blog updates, although I did bring my gear.
Turns out that was a good idea. While I’m not particularly proud of it, I ended up with a spontaneous 5 mile run back to the campsite after I asked my wife to let me out of the car… My daughter had been melting down for over thirty minutes at this stage and was inconsolable and I couldn’t take it anymore. I wasn’t in running gear (other than my running shoes) and I didn’t have water, but running back seemed like a great thing to do. I have to say it was very therapeutic to get that stress out of the system. I have also now had the best part of an afternoon without them so I can decompress and do the laundry, etc.
The heavy cotton knee length shorts weren’t particularly comfortable. I took off my t-shirt and used it as a mop for my brow. I had no cell signal but knew where I had to get to and that it was about 5 miles away.
Again, not the best situation to run, but it was preferable to walking and it was very good therapy. My pace was around 8:18 which is acceptable.
Perhaps I could get my conscience clean by using this soap I found yesterday. Warning: many bad Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy puns.
After last night’s track run I got up and out early today to rack up a few extra miles. My legs, however, we not quite so willing to play along with me. My hips and glutes were tight and did not want to loosen up at all. I had no bounce left. Tigger would be most upset.
So I clocked a slow ten miler out into the beautiful countryside, turning around at the edge of Skippack, PA, where they appear to be building yet another trail (whoop!). I’ll try to forget about the 8;52 pace although that was made worse by a few extenuating circumstances; I double bagged my iPhone to protect it from potential rain but that made it quite unresponsive to screen presses, there was one road crossing where there was a looooong line of cars stopping my from making progress, and I choose a particularly hilly route. But those are just excuses; I was slow today. Oh, well, it will probably be better next time. 😉
Back on the track tonight with FastTracks and the routine was updated to be 5 x 1000m with 100m jogging recovery.
This was a pretty intense workout especially because the temps were in the 80s and there was high humidity.
These were my times for each of the 1000m efforts. Not very consistent and they got slower throughout until the last one. I’m not very happy with those. The 5k time was 21:20 which is slightly slower than the one I ran last week. It was cooler when I ran that though.
After this we had to run 5 x 150m accelerations with 50m increments from medium effort through med-hard through hard. This was a fun set to do as you feel you can really throw yourself completely into the last 50m of the runs. My times were all around 28.5-32 seconds. Not too bad after the other intervals.
By the end I was a sweaty mess and decided not to go to the pub afterwards. Pizza was waiting at home. Yum.
On Sunday I swapped out my long run for a 45 mile bike ride in preparation for a 150 mile MS City to Shore ride I have signed up for at the end of September.
So, to try and keep my running miles up I decided to do another run commute. Up until now I have been doing them one evening and then the next morning, but today I am attempting the double. Running in and out on the same day.
The run in was fine and uneventful except for the squished turtle that I found just before my office. I didn’t even know we had turtles around here.
Now to get clean and wash out my running gear so that it will be useable tonight for the return trip.
Yikes. I hope this works out as this morning’s run was a little tough after the ride yesterday. Did I do any stretches in between? Don’t be daft. Why would I do that? Hmm, perhaps I need to try and be a little more organised with my stretches.
Seven miles at 8:16 pace. Not too bad given the pauses at road crossings and waiting for traffic.
Got up early. Ran without warming up and the pace for the first few miles really shows that. But that’s my running for the week done. Another 35 mile week and it feels good.
Saw lots of deer this morning and some of them were really agile; one ran along at full pelt and ducked through the gap in some fence railings that was only a foot wide. Really impressive. It didn’t miss a step. That herd were playing in a field that a local stable had setup for gymkhana. They didn’t go over and of the jumps but did go over the outer fences with ease.
This is not a post on self-flagellation, although many may disagree with that point when thinking about runners, but a post on running to beat your own best times.
Unless you are a pro, in most races the only person you are really competing against is yourself. Trying to score a new personal best time for a distance or segment.
So, because I missed track last night, I decided that today I should go out hard for a short distance and see what I can do at my current fitness level.
With my legs (briefly) stretched and my feet feeling springy I darted out off down the driveway. The first half mile felt fast and was a respectable 6’44”. The next half had a hill in it; you don’t get those impediments at a track. I slipped to a 7:07. Then it was down the hill and I was almost at the turning point.
I took the turn wide so that I didn’t have to slow down to change direction and then started the journey back, powering back up the hill and not worrying about being exhausted at the end. For the last half I tried to accelerate a bit to push the time even further. Here’s the result:
I took the liberty if awarding myself a gold star because I’m pretty happy with that. A 6’49” pace on a 5k is a good place to be for me and it feels like I haven’t had that sort if result off track for a while. Hurrah!
And this was with my ‘old’ heavier shoes (Brooks Beast).
Thanks FastTracks for the coaching and drive. Something seems to be working!
Wednesday night is track night but today I bailed. This morning I had a ‘disagreement’ with my 3 3/4 year old that left me in a bad state all day. I decided that I would rather go home and spend some time with her reading and playing rather than running. I may have been very fast with all that pent up frustration ready to burst forth, but sometimes you have to prioritise other things.
I think it was the right call. Everything feels so much better now, plus I got to read a book about dinosaurs. [grrr].