Monthly Archives: January 2015

Run/Walk/Slide

Finally I am back home in the US of A. After all the talk of a big storm it didn’t amount to much and my drive home from the airport was possibly the fastest I’ve ever had. Nobody was on the road. No snow was on the road.

I got a chance to go for a run/walk today with my friend and it was good to get out and about after spending so much time travelling.

We chose a different section of the Perkiomen Trail and heading to the edge of Schwenksville. The path was a mess of different layers of snow; the base was a layer of solid ice which was covered with a two inch layer of light snow, then topped with a crust of crunchy ice. Sounds yummy.

This was hard snow to run in though. You have to lift your legs straight in the new snow to avoid tripping on the crust and any ridges that have formed on the path. The ice patches were slippery as heck and you have to pay particular attention to all the slopes of the ground (both up and down hill are risky).

This lack of traction really slowed us down and we did six miles in 1 hour 35 mins. But we were out there doing our thing. One minute of effort followed by 3:30 recovery.

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Running Tourism: Extended Tour of Wokingham

As the storm hits the East coast of the U.S., it has also impacted me in England. BA cancelled my flight home yesterday because of the storm so I had an extra day with my parents and an additional chance to stuff a curry down my neck!

One of my friends suggested an extension to my last local running route in Wokingham which I thought I wouldn’t be able to remember… Turns out somewhere inside the dark catacombs of my brain it did get stored away.

However, it did take me through areas I didn’t know before and I had to consult a map twice to find the narrow country roads that got me back to familiar territory.

The park in Woosehill was pretty muddy in places but it made a change to be running through some woodland. Then some of the narrow lanes I vaguely remembered from my childhood (Ludgrove) and exploring on my bike, but it is the faintest of memories.

Here’s the route: all 9.45 miles of it. Rotated for best fit on my phone screen.

2015/01/img_4232.pngWhile out there I stumbled upon this wonderful old hospital building that is enormous but is right in the middle of nowhere.

2015/01/img_4231.jpgWhen talking about the route with my father he said that it went past his golf club and the lake that my brother used to fish (now a nature reserve). I have vague memories of that lake…

9.45 miles in 1 hour 15 gives a pace of 7:56. Not my fastest but my legs felt like lead.

Anyway, I’m back home to get cleaned up and to pack for home, assuming they don’t cancel the flight again. I expect I’ll have to dig my car out when I get there!

Running Tourism: Hometown Ghost Tour

No photos for this one because, quaint as it may be, I could not bring myself to take piccies of Wokingham.

It is very strange coming back to your childhood home and going for a run. Everything seems so much smaller and closer together than I had in my mind. Also, my mental map of the area was all based from my house which I had mapped as a southerly point… But it isn’t at all. It’s over on the eastern side of town. Weird.

There have been so many changes since I last lived here in 1991. Lots of new building developments are going up and the once charming small town is now being engulfed by housing estates.

I headed out towards my junior school and past the houses of my friends, then out to the Cantley Recreation ground. For a long time this was the furthest point I went on my bike as it felt so far from home… Turns out it was just a mile and a half.

Through the rec. and then onwards to run by Emmbrook school. Several of my friends at senior school came from this school and I think I’d only ever been past it one other time in my life.

After this I cut through to the main road and started back towards the town centre. I darted down another side street to pass another friends old house near the railway station and then headed out of town and cut through an industrial estate. This is now less industrial and more business focused.

Past the spot where one of my best friends was hit by two cars while crossing the road; it still makes my skin crawl to think of that. Needless to say I was REALLY careful crossing this road.

Back into town to see the town hall and fire station then out down another cut through and out of town again.

All of a sudden I found myself on my old St. Crispin’s senior school cross-country running route! Wow – that’s a blast from the past. I really detested running when I was in school but the fact that the route left the school grounds and ran you through some of the neighbourhoods (without ever crossing a main road) was a nice thing. Once out of sight of the teachers you could walk some of the route ;-).

I took another side street and ran past my best friend through college’s house; he was the guitarist in my band so we spent many years hanging out together.

Past an old girlfriends house and then down an alleyway. This is the alley that I had a terrible rollerskating accident when I was 14 or 15. I was bombing through the alley and the trucks of my skates got caught up in some weeds at the side. Boom. I was down and skidding along the Tarmac using my face as a brake. Ouch. Long ago now. I gave some weeds at the side a swift kick as I ran past. Just for old times sake.

Once out of the alley, I was shortly on the main London Road and heading out of town. Past another new housing development and then turning back towards my parents house.

Running around the outside of my parents housing estate I hit the narrow and winding Binfield Road. For the first time in my run I had to hit the road for a short time as there are still no pavements out here which was always a ridiculous safety issue.

Once back on the pathway, I ran past another ex-girlfriend’s house (it still looks like her parents are there judging by the registration plate on the Jag in the driveway). Back in towards my parents house and running past the shops, then the run was done.

Only 7.4 miles. Bugger. That’s not really enough. I was hoping it would be closer to ten miles. At least my pace was good at 7:38 and I am (sort of) on a holiday.

2015/01/img_4223.pngOne of the best parts of the run was seeing so many other people out running and cycling. What a noticeable change, England! Women running in pairs and men running alone seemed to be the order of the day but there were many people out; probably over twenty.

And so ends my entry on my ‘ghost’ tour of Wokingham. I ran past the houses of many old school friends, pubs, schools and incidents from my past. The town is busy reinventing itself and I hope that it manages to cling on to some of the simple charm that it had before.

Running Tourism: London Day 2

As promised yesterday, I took myself down the eastern side of the South bank this morning.

After the mile run down to the river I crossed on Westminster Bridge and then headed east. The view from the bridge this morning was a little brighter.

2015/01/img_4195.jpgOnce I started East there were plenty of photo opportunities along the river.

2015/01/img_4198.jpgFirst up was St Paul’s Cathedral which still looks good against the skyline despite all the modern buildings that are trying to take over.

2015/01/img_4199.jpgNext up was The Queen Elizabeth The First in a dock. Much smaller that version 2.

The trail around here started to get a little sketchy as it twisted in and it from the riverfront. When I found it next I had this view of a ship and the City.

2015/01/img_4200.jpgNext up was Tower Bridge. This is an iconic bridge and I had never run or walked across it before. I have two pictures of the bridge and one from it.

2015/01/img_4201.jpg

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2015/01/img_4203.jpgOnce over the bridge I headed underneath and back West along the north embankment. This took me past The Tower of London.

2015/01/img_4204.jpgThe run here was also quite twisty but it was at least signposted. A security guard waved me toward one entrance that I would have otherwise missed in my quick run.

I was out for an hour and 37 seconds and covered 7.75 miles. So the pace was… (You should be able to do that in your head)… 7:46! Not bad given all the photo stops.

I have to say how impressed I am with Londoners and their improved fitness. So many people were running along the river and there are many many people using bicycles throughout the City. It is a really noticeable change from when I was last working here 14 years ago. But they could all do with cheering up a little, the miserable buggers.

The run back up the hill to the hotel was hard because of the traffic fumes starting to build. I knew this would be the case but had wanted to have a little more light for the run today, plus I have no meetings that I have to rush too.

2015/01/img_4205.pngOff to see my friends in my home town tonight and maybe take a run around that area. My folks say it has changed completely…

Running Tourism: London

Surprise, I’m in London! One of the charities I work with is having a council meeting in London and they brought me over for it. Yay! Perfect timing as I’m still unemployed and it is hard to do things like this when you are woking full time.

I arrived yesterday lunchtime and spent the afternoon pottering around and buying some running socks as I forgot to pack them. Then I met up with my niece and nephew who both live and work in London for what can only be described as a skinful of beer (I believe that is the correct collective noun) at the Princess Louise pub. This is a very nicely restored old style british pub with many different parlours. Five pints and a small glass of wine, and a lot of good quality talk.

After closing out the bar at 11:20 and only having had 3.5 hours sleep over the 40 hours I made a plan for an early morning run.

Sleep. Water. Crisps for sustenance. More water… At five AM my brain woke up thanks to jetlag so I got up and ready to head out.

My hotel overlooks Tavistock Square which is near King’s Cross Station. I had checked on MapMyRun and it looked like a good place to go to was the Southbank of the River Thames which is pedestrianised.

I made sure to learn my route as I have no cell data plan here and then headed out.

At 5:30 London’s air actually doesn’t taste quite so bad as normal. It was a mile run down to the river and I took a couple of photos from the bridge.

2015/01/img_4183.jpgIf you look carefully you should be able to make out the dome of St. Paul’s Cathedral on the left of the image.

After all that beer I knew I couldn’t go too far so I chose to run towards the west so that I could go past the Houses of Parliment.

2015/01/img_4185.jpgNot too much to see in the photos at this time of day, but there you go.

There were quite a few runners out and one actually overtook me… He didn’t get away but definitely went past and held the lead. No one was very friendly despite my continued greetings.

I turned around at the three mile mark which was right by Mr. James Bond’s MI6 office, and ran back. Tomorrow I’ll go east along the river.

Six miles with a 7:44 average pace is not too shabby either. Now to get breakfast and lean up for the meeting.

Building it Up: The Longest Run/Walk Yet

Another week, another run/walk with my friend. For the first time in what feels like weeks the temperature was above freezing and the river trail we chose to walk was actually a little muddy and wet, with only a few patches of ice around.

There were plenty of regulars out on the trail (bird-spotting lady, old runner dude, a few other runners out) and it was nice to not be freezing out arses off.

We went with a five minute warm up and then 1 minute efforts with 3:30 recovery. As ever, my friend is running quite hard in the efforts but was noticeably able to speak while running today which is a first. He has got to a point where he runs on trails three to four times a week and does intervals for those!

We did 5.25 miles of intervals before we switched to just walking. This was the longest distance that we’ve covered with intervals too.

Overall we completed 6.14 miles at an average pace of 14:41. All done in 1 hour 30 mins. Excellent. It is so good to see the progress he is making.

We finished our training at the same time as an older gentlemen who had just run the six mile trail. He was moving very quickly. It gives me hope for the future.

Running or Ice Skating?

Before I headed out today I checked the forecast. Rain likely and possibly ice rain. That’s never good but I hoped to beat it and headed out quickly, choosing to run from my house rather than lose time heading to a trail.

My knee injury now seems to be fine. As is often the case with these things, it was my calf that was tight and not anything actually wrong with my knee. I guess the muscles got pulled slightly as I fell backwards. Nothing that a foam roller and The Stick cannot remedy.

My halfway point today was the start of a new trail in Worcester Township called Zaccharias Trail. I didn’t get to see much of it (about half a mile) before I hit my turn around point. It is a compacted gravel trail and seems quite pleasant winding through some trees. I’ll check it out when I do a longer long run.

I turned around at five miles and started back up the hills toward home. As I reached the 7.5 mile mark the rain started. Then I noticed that my toes were starting to lose traction as I pushed off with my feet. Bugger. Ice rain.

The last 2.5 miles were treacherous. The road surface became like glass almost immediately and any sidewalks/pavements were even worse. I tried to target grass verges and roadside detritus to ensure I could keep my grip.

I did slip a few times but managed to stay upright. Slopes become a real issue once it is this icy too.

I really had to slow down and change to a foot foot landing to maximize grip. My pace dropped from 7:56/mile to 9:11/mile. At a couple of points I had to try and drop all momentum to keep control.

Overall a fun run, but I could have done without the skating at the end.

10 miles at 8:22 avg pace which I will count as a win given the conditions!

You Did What to Hurt Your Knee?

I know, I know. As runners we all curse the inevitable comments that we get from non-runners about “won’t that break your knees?” And “my knees are too weak for running?”, etc., etc., etc.

Well, this week I hurt my knees and can you guess how I did it? No, you couldn’t possibly. Certainly not from running!

My four year old was on her way out the door to go to preschool and I was holding my eleven month old. I bent down to kiss her goodbye and her Pink Cowgirl hat (I kid you not, but in her defence it was the school hat day) brim knocked me off balance and I stumbled backwards… (Cue dramatic music)

Because of running, my knees and legs are strong so I managed to recover without hitting the deck or dropping the baby, however, I think I tweaked something in my knee as it happened and now my knee hurts when I step up.

Do we let sort of thing that stop us?

Today I took a quick cold run for 6.6 miles at a pedestrian 8:00 pace. I was taking it easy at first and, to be honest, this has been a lazy week where I have barely run at all. The knee held up okay but is a little achy now.

In other news, I believe I may have lured the Caped Crusader (featured in an earlier piece) out into the open. Conversations are in the comments section of that article along with an edit/apology.

How Many Miles of Mad Are You?

This is the question I thought up while out on my weekly run/walk with my friend. He’s at about 11 miles of mad (walking/running outside). I’m currently at about 22, I guess. A little lazy for me but whose to judge.

At the time of our walk it was mid-20s F with a real-feel of 18F and we’d both been out multiple times during the last week of very chilly weather. It was so cold on some occasions that he even had to run to keep warm… without me even being there. I’m sure that’s another level of running madness achieved. 🙂

Today we went to walk on the Perkiomen Trail at Oaks but found that it was completely iced over in both directions. After scouting around for a mile we decided to bail on that location. Even parts of the Creek were frozen over.

Instead we headed to Valley Forge National Historical Park and went around their 5 mile loop. They often scrape and clear the trail to ensure safety for trail users so there were only a couple of small patches of ice around. Hurrah for that. Very few other people out today though.

We also changed up our interval regime to be one minute running and three mins thirty recovery. The ratio is starting to shift in favour of running.

We managed about 12 intervals before the (surprise) hills from our alternative location took their toll on my friend and we dialed it back to a walk for the remainder. Still this meant we’d done over four miles total with those intervals which is probably a record.

The bitter cold wind was very sore against my face on parts of the trail and I really appreciated the hot shower when I got home. Bliss. I could feel the icicles melting away.

Total for today was 6.6 miles with a pace on the main part of 15:33 avg. During the run we were getting 14:12 intervals… A good improvement.

Early Saturday: Running Freedom

It’s a Saturday and the alarm goes off at 5:30. Either you work in a store OR you are a runner.

After a disturbed night of sleep (my four year old woke up twice for stupid stuff and my brain went off on a mental analysis of the differences between vinyl and CD recording qualities; weird) I sneaked out of bed and downstairs so as not to wake the monsters, and got ready to run.

With a ‘feels like’ temp of around -4 F I had to wrap up warm. I got everything ready and started mapmyrun… As I went down the drive I realised I didn’t hear the ‘start run’ message. So I stopped and restarted the app…then hit the road.

It was cold for the first mile and a half but oh-so beautiful out. There was still a little fresh snow around and very little traffic. In the first six miles I only saw five cars! Was there a zombie apocalypse while I slept?

I ran through one of my favourite places: Evansburg State Park. Plenty of snow on the ground and not a soul to see. I ran some challenging hills and realised that I hadn’t heard anything from my phone app.

Sure enough, when I got home I found MapMyRun hadn’t recorded anything. I think it was due to my phone getting confused as other things on the phone were misbehaving. Since iOS 8 I’ve found that I have to reset my phone once a month…

10.2 miles in about 1:20-1:24, I guess.

I really needed the run today as a mental break. Yesterday, for the first time since I lost my job, I started to feel like I wasn’t making much progress and felt slightly down about it. This run cleared out all those thoughts and banished them away. This is important because I think you have to keep a positive attitude and mustn’t seem stressed out during the recruitment process.

Thanks running.