Monthly Archives: October 2014

Take Off Your Hat

Today I wanted to get a longer run in so I moved my lazy butt out of bed super early and hit the streets.

At 5:30 this morning it was pitch dark and 80% humidity so it was like running through a Halloween movie. As cars approached I felt like I was in a scene from ET.

I was slow to start up and get my legs moving and the first few uphills were not very impressive.

A few times it was so dark that I lost sight of the edge of the road. This was because I was trying to run without my light when no cars were around and most of the roads I was on had no curbs. Without that delineation it was difficult to sense where I was on the surface.

One thing I noticed today that I hadn’t before. When you wear a hat you really miss out on the view of the stars. At several points I just took it off so that I could bask in the wonder of it all. Of course, I put it back on as soon as I heard a car because my hat is super-reflective and part of my safety gear.

My avg pace was just 8:03 over the ten and a quarter miles but the first few were very slow and the last lot were quite fast (one 7:08). Definately a reverse split.

IMG_3948.PNGDon’t forget to look up at the sky when you run in the dark. It is wonderful.


Introducing the Running Interval

After having walked with my friend for the last four weeks at distances up to six miles, we introduced running intervals today. This was a first for my friend and I’m sure that he thought I was trying to kill him, but I wasn’t. Honestly!

We went to Lower Perkiomen Valley Park and headed out towards Phoenixville and the Reynolds Dog Park along the SRT. This is a flat walk on a paved surface and is ideal for this type of workout. We did a ten minute warm up walk and then a thirty second high intensity interval for which we ran. After this we walked for four and a half minutes to cool down, then we repeated it. I configured mapmyrun to give us cues for the interval changeovers and this was very helpful.

As an observation, we were surprised by how long the thirty second intervals felt and how short the four and a half minutes felt for recovery. They seemed to come around very quickly.

After ten interval repeats we decided to stop them as my friend was experiencing some difficulties from his clothing. However, we covered over six miles in one hour forty five minutes which is a big improvement over our normal walking pace. The intervals bring the average for those miles down to around 16 minute miles, whereas normal walking is around 18:30 minute miles. Next week we are planning to do the intervals throughout the whole walk and will target the Perkiomen trail again as we both enjoyed that.

This was a major milestone and I look forward to doing more of these intervals and start to shift the balance for run/walk as long as my friend can keep with it. We are monitoring for foot and knee issues and taking it all very gently.

The trail was beautiful today and I watched enviously as a group of cyclists glided effortlessly past us.

Any Way the Wind Blows

Oh. My. Goodness. It was windy on the trail today.

Early on (6:00) it was lovely. A crystal clear sky with many stars guiding the way. I always love starting out my rides this way as it makes me feel very connected to the universe. If I pedal fast enough will I see the view spin? No, I think not. But it sometimes feels like that.

After meeting my friend and rolling down to center city Philadelphia we stopped at Sbux for a light breakfast and to catch up on life. It is conversations like these that you miss most when you are made redundant. The social aspects of going to an office are an essential part of my life. I’m hoping to get back to it soon.

The ride home was where the wind became an issue. I had to ride alone and the wind was strong. There was no hiding from it. My normal speed is 18 mph for this journey and I found myself crawling at 12 mph. My gears were set to the ones that I use for uphill climbs!

Even others were feeling it. Tri-althelete cyclists were riding right in behind me rather than doing their normal thing of keeping their distance. When they tried to overtake they’d hit the wall of wind and end up falling back behind me again. Cheeky monkeys! They have aero-bars and aerodynamic bikes so they should be pulling me. Yes, I’m talking to you people with Kona scrawled across your bike shorts. I know you can do it! Share the work and pull the people you hide behind!

I had to make a rest stop on the way to try and help my legs recuperate. A large slice of Red Velvet cake helped power the rest of my ride. Yum.

Clear Your Mind

Running is many things to many people. For me I use it as a drug to cure whatever my ails may be on that particular morning.

Today is going to be an important day in my job hunting as I have a lot going on; meeting a resume and career advisor, webinar on negotiation, a call for the charity I work for, a phone screen for a job, and then an actual interview in Philly. It is going to be crazy.

And so, today, my run was for my mind. To give it a chance to think about putting one foot in front of the other. To allow it to count my breaths; in-2-3-out-2-in-2-3-out-2. To allow the stresses that have built up in anticipation to evaporate and leave space in my head for the important things I need for the interviews.

Yes, today’s run was much needed and I had perfect autumnal conditions. 48F, dry and with a smattering of leaves on the ground. I started out thinking I’d just do three miles but even before the half mile mark I knew I needed more, so I headed off up the hill on another road and made it a 4.7 miler. My pace wasn’t great at 7:56 but I did choose a hilly route. My first few half mile intervals were significantly slower than the others.

Not to worry though as I achieved what I had wanted to: some space inside my little head.

Have a good weekend everyone. When you are out doing what you do, take some time to let your mind wander too.

DSCN0193.JPGMy mind wasn’t quite as clear as theirs, however. Works from the Corning Glass Museum.

Walk. Lost. Found. Stumble. Relax.

Yesterday I took my friend for another long (6.3 mile) walk along my favourite trail; the Perkiomen River Trail. And, for the first time in a long while, I was able to take pictures while I was there.

IMG_3923.JPGAs you can see, the trail is resplendent in fall colours. It was a delight to walk this trail even though it was drizzling throughout the walk. In fact, that sort of added to the ambience. I had only just managed to dry my shoes from the previous weeks walk. It was nice to do the trail at a more leisurely pace and take in the sights.

Today it was raining again. Does that stop us runners? Nope. I grabbed a rain jacket and went out regardless. At about the one and a quarter mark I noticed that my rear blinky was missing. (Dah dun dah!). So, I quickly turned around and dashed back over the hill fearing it may be intercepted by a school kid or another runner (as if there were any others out!). I had a feeling I knew where it went to as I had to duck under a branch and twist slightly earlier on. Sure enough the light was sitting on a pile of leaves blinking happily to itself. Blackburn survives another near-death experience.

After clipping the light onto the back of my hat (rather than on the loose pocket of my rain jacket), I turned around and resumed my run back up over the hill. As I created the next hill, I was dazzled by an oncoming bus and misjudged my foot position. This caused me to stumble a little as my foot twisted on the edge of the sidewalk. Luckily I have strong ankles and recovered without falling in a heap.

After another couple of miles the rain stopped and I got too hot. Running with a loose jacket is very annoying but it has cool reflective sleeves (IllumiNite) that make me very visible on the roads so I wasn’t going to take it off and put it around my waist.

Not a fast run but an enjoyable one. 5.46 miles at 8:04 pace.

Running Backwards

First, let me say “No, not literally backwards!”, as that would be plain silly and a bit dangerous on the roads.

One good way to change up your standard runs is to simply reverse the route. What seems like a nice comfortable route going one direction may turn out to be rather challenging when you run it the other way. That nice long gentle downhill becomes a long hard slog uphill. The lines of oncoming traffic become a slight noise on the other side of the road.

Today I ran one of my usual routes backwards and it was refreshing. I noticed some houses that I hadn’t seen before and some little side streets that in sure must lead somewhere interesting (I’ll investigate on another occasion).

It is really surprising just how different a route feels when you go the other way. So, keep this trick in your bag to avoid getting repetition blues.

8.3 miles at 8:07 pace wasn’t blisteringly fast but was a solid ‘short’ run. I wasn’t supposed to go that far but was enjoying myself too much.

Today was the first time since being made redundant when I feel really happy and at peace. We received notification that my son’s adoption was finalised yesterday evening and that really brightened my week up. Life is good.


Favourite Trail During Favourite Season

I had a rare treat today as I headed out on my favourite trail with a perfect balance of leaves falling and still on trees. The colours were spectacular and the temperature a cool 48F. The Perkiomen River Trail is a lovely place to visit and I started from the park at Oaks.

On days like these it is an opportunity to reflect on all the good things in your life and be happy with what you have and who you are.

I was listening to Muse while I ran and that made me move a bit faster. I managed a negative split with a fast pace: 8.3 miles at 7:38 pace. This was a practice visit to the trail as I intend to come here mid-week with my friend for our walk but I wanted to ensure the trail was still in good condition.

It was a welcome break but now I have to get back to life.

Walk a Little. Run a Little.

Yesterday I walked with my friend on the Betzwood River Trail at Valley Forge Park. It is a great trail that provides good tree cover and is almost completely flat. The cover was particularly good because it poured down on us.

We knew it was coming. The storm had been forecast for days but still we went out. I’m trying to gradually lure him into the madness of a runner’s mindset.

It was a great walk and it was fast. In fact, it was 15 mins faster than when we did it two weeks ago. To get that much faster is impressive. I think he is coming along just fine. The warm embrace of crazy awaits him.

We only saw one other person out on the trail and normally it is busy regardless of time or weather so that gives an indication as to how much rain there was.

Soon we will have to introduce some running intervals as we completed 6.2 miles in 1 hour 49 mins. We were absolutely drenched but smiling from ear to ear. Awesome.

Today my legs would not budge. Whether it was because of tiredness or from the long walk yesterday, I don’t know. All I can say is my quads and glutes were not willing to engage properly so I crawled along at a sedentary pace. However, I did the run and I enjoyed it despite a slight sore throat. 6.6 miles at 8:27 pace won’t bust any records but I will cut myself some slack because I have to allow for three road crossings that were very slow due to traffic; it was busy out there today due to trees down from the rain.

Take your Breath Away

I did a quick run this morning to try and get my legs moving after a 48 mile bike ride on Sunday.

Today it was very warm. 65F and humid at 6am. Very odd. I had expected it to be in the forties. As I am just trying to get my legs rolling again (recovery) I ran 4.5 miles with a few hills. My pace was a little slow at 8:09 but my legs felt like lead when I started out.

Runner’s World republished the article about uneven breathing to their Facebook feed over the weekend so it reminded me to try that out again. I only think it reduces your risk of injury by about ten percent on normal pace runs (2:2 breathing = 50% breathing out; 3:2 breathing = 40% for breathing out, therefore a reduction of time breathing out of 10%). But I guess that might help some people. I’m not terribly convinced and I have covered it in a previous post so I won’t repeat myself here.

Wordle Word Cloud

Every so often it is a good idea to take a look back at what you’ve written. In these modern times there are easier ways to do this.

The site wordle is a perfect example. Go there and point it at your blog and it will generate a word cloud to show you the topics you’ve been discussing over the years.

Here’s mine:


It is interesting. Running and MapMyRun come up in big letters which is no surprise. Shoes and pace also come up quite large and I wasn’t aware that I spoke that often about shoes. GPS and distance are also quite large.

Any way, it is an interesting thing to take a look at if you have a spare moment or two.

If, like me, you are currently looking for work you can use this to analyse your résumé and could even compare the cloud with those generated by a set of, say, ten ideal jobs from various websites. This would give you a clue as to how well your résumé matches the job listings.

Have fun out there.