Monthly Archives: December 2014

And Now the End is Near…

Well, for this year at least!

I just completed my last walk of the year with my friend Ed. We didn’t do a run/walk because today we were trying something new; going up Mount Misery in Valley Forge and then along the Horseshoe Trail.

It was a beautiful cold day out there but we weren’t cold for long. The route very quickly turned into a climb as you can see from the profile.

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/5e7/55986753/files/2014/12/img_4136.pngNote that the elevation numbers on the side of the graph are way off (a quirk of mapmyrun). It actually climbs from 60ft to 500ft. Overall the walk had 709ft of uphill.

Once we were up the main hill we basically walked along the ridge of Valley Forge mountain upto the Wharton Esherick museum; we was a famous woodworker and this is a fascinating place to stop by if you have the time.

The mountain was lovely today so I snapped a picture.

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/5e7/55986753/files/2014/12/img_4134.jpgIn the background you can see the twin mountain Mount Joy.

While we were out we stumbled upon a kids campsite that was filled with all sorts of kitsch stuff, plus some pieces of wood to write entries in the visitor ‘log’.

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/5e7/55986753/files/2014/12/img_4132.jpg/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/5e7/55986753/files/2014/12/img_4129.jpg/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/5e7/55986753/files/2014/12/img_4130.jpg/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/5e7/55986753/files/2014/12/img_4131.jpgI don’t know who Kate is but it looks like she has a lot of fun at this camp.

As this was the last activity for the year I can finally publish my totals. But not before pointing out that this was a ‘devil’ walk with a distance of 6.66 miles. Yeah – great way to finish the year! /home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/5e7/55986753/files/2014/12/img_4135.png

My totals were (drum roll, please):
Running: 1035.92 miles (goal: 1000).
Run/Walk: 87.49 miles.

I also ran two (unofficial) marathons with reasonable times.

These achievements pail next to those of my friend Ed who has lost a staggering amount of weight and who a year ago couldn’t walk 200 yards. He has done so much this year and I look forward to helping him continue next year. I beat some arbitrary targets. He got his life back.

Have a great New Year everyone. Thanks for following along.


My Legs Still Work. Hurrah!

Finally I got out for a ‘recovery’ run four days after the marathon I ran on Friday, and I found that my legs still work. It’s a miracle!

I started out thinking I’d just do 3 miles but felt good at the turn around and opted to continue. At the two mile mark I was also feeling strong and chose to go further.

At the two and a half mark my right leg got a pang of aching; not really a pain as much as feeling abnormally tired and heavy, so I ducked off down a side street to start the return run up over Arcola hill and through the school.

This return route had some good hills which are useful as I’m thinking of doing a New Year’s Day hill run with the FastTracks running club. This has a very steep hill which is over 20% in places and is a good half mile climb straight up.

As I was coming into the last 3/4 mile I turned on the power and got my pace down to the 6:23/7:01 range. A pretty fast finish and I was out of breath. The cold air (32F) wasn’t helping much.

All in all a good run but not my last of 2014. Tomorrow I’ll be doing a run/walk with my friend and that should finish off my efforts for this calendar year. What a lot of fun it has been.

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/5e7/55986753/files/2014/12/img_4128.pngGood Stats for a recovery run.

Solo Marathon Tips and Recovery

It is two days after my solo marathon on Boxing Day and I actually felt like I could go for a run today. I didn’t as I have a slight hangover from visiting friends, but I could have run without problems.

I thought I should write a list of things to ensure I would be better prepared next time, so here goes:

1. Only wear clothes you have run in before. No new clothes as you have to be sure you will not get chaffing issues. I was wearing shorts under some thermal skiing leggings and had some discomfort from them gathering as I ran. I was able to get away without any soreness due to making a few ‘adjustments’ while I was running.

Ensure you have your clothes ready the night before so you don’t end up hunting around for things at the last minute.

At my seven mile stop I ditched my hoodie at my car but didn’t want to take off the leggings yet. Top tip: if your hoodie has string pulls to adjust the hood, tuck them inside the neck hole before you start running so that they don’t whip your chin as you run!

2. Wear good socks. I use smart wool socks as I find that they wick any sweat away and reduce the chance of getting blisters. I had none from this run. Hurrah. I keep my toe nails short so none were lost or blackened.

3. Ensure your shoes are properly broken in. If I were to put a number on this, at least 30 miles of wear on shoes before running to ensure that they will be comfortable and won’t rub.

4. Eating. Yes, eating is an important part of the preparation. Running a Boxing Day marathon makes this difficult as the day before is Christmas. Late and large breakfast. Late and large dinner. Lots of sugary snacks. Alcohol. All of these will sabotage your preparation. I need to ensure I eat more of the right things before I do these long runs. I only had one ‘drink’ on Xmas day so I did that bit right, but it is so tempting to have more. We had a veggie tofurkey feast but I only had three slices which probably wasn’t enough protein. I should have had more potato too.

5. Snacks for the run. I ran unsupported which means I was solely responsible for taking the right foods. Making an eating plan is important, using foods you are familiar with. Do not introduce new items on a run of this length. Unfortunately, I dropped one packet of Clif shot blocks as I got into my car so I was immediately restricted a little compared to my eating plan. If you are doing your own run try to do a circuit so you can pick things up at your car while partway through. This also gives you the option of bailing if you get injured.

6. Hydration Plan. It was winter. It was 34F. I still drank 2.5 20oz bottles of water while on the run and then went to the store after for two large coffees (decaf) and two cokes. Either carry enough or plan a route via water fountains remember that some public water fountains will be turned off in the winter! Drinking extra water a few days before is a good idea.

UPDATE: the hydration plan should also extend to the week after the run. I did not pay attention to this and suffered badly with what I will call ‘liquid bottom’. Keep drinking more water or gatorade through the week following the marathon. Try to avoid having too many celebratory drinks (NYE 2014/5) as that is what triggered it for me.

7. Toilet stops. Running that distance will probably mean you’ll need a bathroom break at some point. If you know where some are, plan to go that way. Toilet blocks (buildings) are often nicer than porta-loos (porta potties).

8. Breakfast. Make sure you have sufficient breakfast before you start out. Carbs like toast and bagels are probably better than a bowl of cereal as you may not want all that milk sloshing around.

9. If you are starting pre-dawn you may need extra layers and a light. You might want to plan a short loop back so you can drop these things off at your car (say, after 6 miles or so).

10. Tell someone where you are running, or run with someone else for sections of the route. Wear a RoadID (or equivalent) band. Have a phone with you for emergencies. If you are a member of a running club, start with them and make use of them having multiple groups starting out. Run with the 6am group, then the 7am group, for example.

11. Weigh yourself before you start and after you finish. This is a good indication as to whether you’ve successfully hydrated. I was exactly the same weight after the run.

As for recovery, I had a fairly restful day but didn’t nap to recover. I ensured that I rolled out my thigh and calf muscles that evening and the next morning.

Stairs are a bit of a challenge after a run of this length so be prepared to have to use the bannister or scramble on all-fours. Avoid carrying children up or down stairs for a day or so.

Drink plenty of fluids and monitor your weight.

You will be extra hungry for a few days. Do not deny yourself as it is a part of the recovery process. Well, that’s what I’m telling myself anyway!

Do you have any tips to add ?

Boxing Day Marathon

In the end I decided to break with my two year tradition of running two half marathons on Boxing Day (one early and one late) and instead opted to simply run a full marathon in one go.

I was making my plans last night when I saw a post from my running club (FastTracks) on Facebook to say that there was a group run at 6am from a supermarket that’s relatively close to my home. They were planning a six miler then regrouping at seven for an optional 10 or 14 miler. Perfect base for a marathon as that would leave me with only six point two miles to go!

The run on the recently extended Chester Valley Trail (CVT). This trail runs along beside the 202 in PA for quite a while but these further reaches are a little nicer and head off through parks and campuses.

We all started together but I quickly found myself a way out in front of the group. It was dark and most people were running with headlights. I prefer to only use my knuckle light when necessary and was soon far enough ahead to be able to turn mine off and soak up the glory of the early morning. It was beautiful. I felt strong and connected to the world.

The first section was supposed to be six miles but I decided I could do seven and still get back for the regrouping. Indeed, I did manage this. I took off my outer layer and left my gloves, ear warmers and torch in the car. Drank from a spare water bottle and then stood with the others for a minute and we headed off for the longer run.

This time two people went off in front of me and it was all I could do to keep myself from hunting them down but I knew I was in this for the long game. Sure enough, they turned around at the 3.5 mile mark and headed back to base. They hadn’t got out of my line of sight. I kept going.

When I hit the 11.8 mile mark there was a park with full restroom facilities. Never pass an opportunity like that! I stopped in for a much needed bathroom break in a heated and plumbed restroom; lovely. As I came out and joined the trail, the ten mile group were just passing. I scooted past them as I knew it was approaching their turning point. Sure enough, they called out to me and I told them I was going long.

I then ran to the end of the trail which now extends past the shops in Exton which is a darn sight longer than it used to be. I was exactly at the fourteen mile mark at this point.

On the run back to the car I passed a few of the runners in the group who were doing the ten and fourteen mile runs. At the car I swapped out my water bottle for my second spare and ate half a Clif bar then locked up the car and started out for the last five point two miles. 21 miles done.

Everything was fine until about mile 22 when my legs started to stiffen up. I ended up having to walk a little and switched to a regime of 0.2 miles walking and 0.3 running for a couple of miles. Then I ran the last three quarters of a mile as a block to finish.

Since finishing I’ve been sitting in the coffee area of a wegman’s supermarket supping coffee and coke, and eating cookies and croissant. I have been here for about fifteen minutes already and the shaking is starting to ease off. My legs seem to spasm if I tense them at all. I think they are trying to keep running. Stupid legs!

I wonder what the staff make of me sitting in the corner shaking away?

Okay – the shaking has passed now (30 mins). I wrote that paragraph first and then went back and filled in the details. Now I feel back in control. The sugar in the coke must have kicked in.

Time to do a quick shop, refill my coffee and head home to relax with the family. And maybe, perhaps, snooze a little later.

26.2 miles. 3:38:17. 8:19 pace. Not too shabby considering my total lack of a training plan. I guess we’ll see what the recovery looks like!

Merry Xmas

Just a quickie today to wish you all a Merry Christmas. Here’s a link to a song I recorded with my four year old and my ten month old.

Merry Christmas

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/5e7/55986753/files/2014/12/img_4082.jpgSaving my energy for tomorrow’s madness of two half marathons (or one marathon, I’ve not decided yet). I just have to drink plenty of water and eat a lot of carbs… Shouldn’t be too hard. Candy counts are carbs, right? 😉

Have a good holiday!

Not a Creature Was Stirring…

Well, that’s not entirely true. There were deer. Three of them. There were squirrels; myriad. There was also a runner… Just one. Who smiled and acknowledged us. But that’s it. No one and nothing else about.

My friend and I went for a 6.4 mile run/walk along the northern part of the Perkiomen Trail starting at the Spring Mountain Cedar Road trailhead. It was the first time I had driven to this point on the trail and when you do that you realise quite how far out in the sticks it is. Normally I run to this point.

The mountain (hill, really) is lovely and all the rocks that are scattered around the slopes stand out against the leaves covering the ground. The slope down to the river is a steep 12% and we didn’t run this because I didn’t want my friend to risk injuring his knees; plus it was raining a lot and I wasn’t sure whether the slope would offer good traction to us.

The trail going north is so very picturesque and even in a heavy downpour it was just a pleasure being out there.

1hour 38 mins for 6.4 miles with 45 secs running and 4:15 recovery. Starting next run we will change the intervals again. The run won the mapmyrun Night Before Christmas award; it’s official. I am an animal that stirs.

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/5e7/55986753/files/2014/12/img_4098.pngWhat a great award for Christmas Eve.

Gentle, Short, Fast Run

I know that the title sounds like a paradox but I’m supposed to be tapering in preparation for two long runs on Boxing Day (26th).

However, when I hit the streets today my legs were rolling really smoothly and quickly. I was later than normal and had done some stretches earlier in the morning. Everything felt well oiled and I was pounding the streets without much of a warm up period.

I was out of breath on the first hill but then heard THE VOICE IN MY PHONE tell me that I was running a 7:30 pace uphill. Hmm, cool. At that point I decided I would run four miles rather than the three I had planned, and I accelerated down the other side of the hill.

The rest of the run passed quickly. It was a little like running in England today as there was a light mist of rain and grey skies. The temperature was a balmy 50F though so I cannot complain!

7:15 pace over four miles. Hardly the relaxing run I had anticipated but a good result nonetheless.

Building Bridges

I took a quick five mile run today and found my legs were still heavy with yesterday’s exercise.

I chose to run from the Betzwood area in Valley Forge National Historical Park as I was interested in the progress of the building of the new trail bridge, “Sullivan’s Bridge”. It is definitely coming along as they have built a temporary road halfway across the river and have started building out the footings for the supports.

I ran across the old footbridge beside it today and it is a scary, narrow, high wood-beamed affair that is strapped over the side of a road bridge. Traffic is a couple of feet from one side and a wire fence with a fifty foot drop is on the other side. Yikes. I’ll be so happy when this is replaced.

I wanted to try out a mysterious trail that I had seen people ducking down for a few years but had never had a chance to investigate. What a waste of effort! It just went under the road and then faded out at an apartment block. Boo. I know that there are plans afoot to make this into a full trail that will run fifteen miles. That will be good but it won’t be completed until September next year.

It felt good to be out as I need to exorcise some demons after kiddy tantrums the previous evening. All better now.

1000 Miles in the Bag!

That’s it. I’ve done it.

My goal for the year was to pass one thousand miles and I just ran 6.9 miles at 7:38 pace to put me at a total of 1005.2.

Cheers for joining me on the journey!

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/5e7/55986753/files/2014/12/img_4075.jpgA little early for a G&T but it’s a celebration!

With two more weeks to go before the year ends, I have my annual double half marathon coming up on Boxing Day (26th Dec) so I’ll be well over the number by year end. Time to taper in preparation.

Now to get showered and get a job.

Hawk Run/Walk

Today I did a 6.2 mile walk/run with my friend. It was a beautiful day for getting out by the river and there were lots of people generally out and about. It was a busy place to be.

The trail is lovely in all seasons and looked so completely different now that there are no leaves left on the trees. This afforded us a great view of a hawk that was following us along the trail.

IMG_4071.JPGThe photo doesn’t really do it justice but it was really close to us and swooped by a couple of times.

Our average pace was 15:15 for 6.2 miles. My friend has now reached the point where he is voluntarily doing interval training on his treadmill; a sure sign that he is crossing over to the dark side and starting to enjoy the running. 🙂