Monthly Archives: February 2015

Run/Walk At Last

For the first time in a couple of weeks I was able to get out for a run/walk with my friend. We chose to use a commuter trail so that we could be guaranteed that it would be snow and ice free; a rare commodity at this time of year.

We chose the Chester Valley Trail starting at mile 0.0 which is unfortunately by some very busy roads and quite noisy. However, the trail was in excellent condition and by mile 1.5 the traffic noise was greatly reduced as it moved away from the main Rt 202 and has sound baffles.

There were a few people out on the trail and, I have to say, it was nice to have temperatures above freezing; 33F. Toasty!

A major milestone was achieved by my friend this week as he passed the 200lbs lost mark. This is a great achievement especially as we haven’t been able to get out to exercise as much these last few weeks. He had been exercising on his treadmill and doing much longer intervals (7min run/3min recovery) than we employ when running outside. I think he had forgotten quite how much a treadmill assists your running and was expecting it to be easy returning to our 1.5min run/3.0min recovery intervals; when the surface you are running on itsnt moving itself it is quite a lot harder to run. The cold air and variable hills don’t help either…

We will still stick to our slowly building interval progression to minimise any risk of injury and to maximize the strength of his supporting muscles; I don’t want to trigger any knee issues that might stop him running. With strong supporting muscles and a lighter frame his knees should be fine.

Today I get to visit my new employer for the first time to have a pre-start planning meeting with my manager. I offered this up as I set my start date out a month and I wanted them to understand that this wasn’t a reflection of my enthusiasm for the role. I’m looking forward to it.

In other news, I’m spending my pre-work vacation time working on old recordings of my band. They need to be remastered and incorporated into a digital backup schedule so that they don’t get lost over time (original digital master tapes gradually fail).

IMG_4332once they are nice a clean I may upload them to my soundcloud account so you can have a listen.


The Air that we Breathe

It was cold again this morning and cold air is hard to run with.

Wearing something like a balaclava or neck gaiter that allows you to breathe through the material will definately help, but only to a point. The cold air shouldn’t hurt you but some people find it tough to run and breathe easily in super cold weather like we have been experiencing lately.

Today it was an actual temp (rather than feels like) of 2F. Bloody chilly with no wind factor. I had “eyecicles” hanging from my lashes and they froze together at one point.

IMG_4328I look like a member of the special forces in this get up. There’s even frost across my forehead and ears.

Dress appropriately and you shouldn’t have an issue but it takes practice to get the number of layers right and to not be too warm after a few miles.

4.75 miles at a pace of 8:01. The mounds of snow at junctions really slow you down. That’s my excuses and I’m sticking to it. 🙂

Run Until Your Butt Freezes

Okay, at least I feel like I’ve made up for my disappointing weekend attempt at running. Today I did get out and do just under 5.5 miles in a temperature that was crazy.

IMG_4314Yes, 2F actual and -15F feel. It was stupidly cold.

My balaclava froze solid. My glasses froze over. My eye lashes froze. I had icicles under my nose and frost inside the seams of my outer layer running jacket. And my butt froze by the time I was home. I also found my stomach was really cold and flushed. Not sure how that happened.

IMG_4315Be careful out there as it is dangerously cold. The roads were clear and frosty and hardly anyone was about. The schools were still opening but all the kids were behind closed doors rather than waiting outside.

This weekend I am home alone with the kids while my wife goes off to sunny Florida to run with Disney Princesses. That’ll be a nice break for her while we’re all shivering away in Philly. Brr. It means that at least I don’t have to feel guilty for not even attempting to set foot outside the door. Hurrah for that. And she will do a good job supporting her friend through her first Half Marathon.

Get Out and Run

Since my failed/abandoned run on Sunday due to the cold, I hadn’t been out until today. It was still cold (9F with a realfeel of 3F) but I just had to get out.

Sunday and Monday were write-offs due to cold. Tuesday was my son’s birthday. Wednesday was the only slightly warm day and my wife needed to get out for a run in preparation for the Disney Princess Half this weekend (tiaras and tutus; hilarious as she isn’t the Disney princess type at all).

So, today I went out despite having a sore throat and rasping cough. I swear I feel better since getting out there and running. Just getting the blood pumping really seems to help sometimes; just get out and run!

In other news I have officially accepted the job I was offered. The company is just three miles from my home and is a really interesting opportunity for me. They are in investment management and are also good to their staff; great art, gym, on a trail, open plan, flat-structure. All good stuff. I’m looking forward to starting there in late March after another trip to the UK for the British Computer Society, and a family holiday sometime in the next couple of weeks.

It is a huge weight off my shoulders to get a job lined up. I didn’t expect to find something so close to home and we were basically preparing to have to move as I’d applied locally and across the U.S. (TX, WA, OH and IL).

Good stuff.

Beaten by the Wind

I feel like a lightweight. I gave up on a run early and came home. Most unlike me.

The temperature was 7F with a real-feel of -12F due to crazy gusting winds. The roads had barely been ploughed and I was having to jump into the slush whenever a car came along. Once in the slush, a gust of wind (30-60mph) would knock you off your feet.

So, after cresting a nearby hill and feeling the full brunt of the wind, I turned myself around and went home to scrape the driveway.

I feel like a failure. Well, sort of. I have run in far colder temperatures but the conditions just weren’t safe. Even running in full winter gear with a full face balaclava I didn’t sweat.

IMG_4308-1In other news, I received a job offer from a very local company and will be accepting it next week. More details once it is sign and sealed. Hurrah!

Plus, it was my son’s early first birthday party yesterday with our friends’ two year old. We parents did a great job decorating/doodling on the table covering.



IMG_4299It was nice to have a party with good friends.

A Picture Paints a Thousand Swear Words

I humbly submit that the following picture should allow me to amend the classic ‘picture paints a thousand words’ to be more specific.

IMG_4268Yes, -7F. That’s with the wind chill factor fortunately, but it was bloody cold out there! 12F was the actual temperature until the wind would blow and then it was really cold. Disappointingly I only had an ice moustache today rather than a full beard.

IMG_4270It was a nice run despite the temperature and the sunrise was spectacular.

IMG_4269I had to stop four times on the run. Once for the photo, twice to adjust my neck gaiter and ear warmers and once to remove my glasses; they were freezing as I breathed out.

Mapmyrun failed to record again so I’m going to say it was four miles at a pace of 8:00. I should have gone longer but I have an important job interview this morning and I have to prepare… I probably shouldn’t be doing his blog so, until later, ‘ta ra’.

First Footing: Does it Count If Only a Dusting?

Despite the forecasts of grave ice and snow for Monday/Tueaday we have been given only a light dusting of snow, similar to sugar dust on a Victoria sponge cake (rumble rumble).

I was out early today as there are a lot of things to get done (meeting someone for lunch, careers fair, mentor group meetup). So at 5:45 I hit the streets and did a quick 4 miler, avoiding the deer who seemed to be stalking me throughout the run.

Mapmyrun failed again today. There was a new update available but that shouldn’t make the old version crash. So I’ve guessed my pace as very fast and super strong.

Seems only fair given how early I went out. 🙂
Now to find some cake…

It’ll Be Alright Once You’re Out There.

Some mornings it is hard to get yourself out the door. It affects me. It affects my wife. It affects all runners.

Some days you feel cold before you even set foot outside the door. Just looking at the snow outside makes you chilly despite the thermometer stating 32F/0C. It isn’t that cold, but something in your brain doesn’t want you to go out.

You know that you are wearing enough layers but still you put on a neck gaiter and ear warmers. Comfort in the cold.

Then, eventually, you step outside and press ‘start’ on your GPS and just go.

The first mile consists of catching your breath and saying ‘hi’ to neighbours that are thinking you are mad…

Then you find you are taking off the neck gaiter and threading it onto you fuel belt (so cannot lose it) and putting your ear warmers around your biceps.

About mile four you hit your stride. The pace times come down to a better level as your body remembers what it is supposed to do and you relax into the run.

I didn’t have any distance goals today but wanted to explore Evansburg State Park a little more. I took a circuitous route to get there and then ran by the ranger station to pickup a park map.

IMG_4261Good stuff.

Some runners pass by while you are at the noticeboard reading about the risk of black bears, but they are soon picked off as you head still further into the park.

Occasional ice patches and horse droppings are normal hazards here and you just have to keep a little alert as the roads are all closed to traffic or rarely travelled.

Out the other side of the park and time to start thinking about heading home. Trying to find a route that isn’t too similar to the one he brought you out but doesn’t involve too much traffic.

As I arrive home, those same neighbours are coming back from wherever they’ve been. Warm in their cars. I wonder what they think of what I do or if they even notice?

14 miles in 1 hour 52 mins with a pace of 7:59. Not too shabby.

I got lost at one point and had to check which direction to go at a crossroads. Glad I checked as I was going to go the wrong way!

My Brooks Dyad7 shoes are near their four hundred mile mark and I just noticed a slight hole in the top of the shoe. Time for some duct tape to keep my toes dry, I think.

It was a fun route with 814ft of gain. There is so much more of the park to explore. Perhaps that will motivate me to get out the door next week.


Heading West on the Chester Valley Trail

This trail has to be one of Chester county’s best health and fitness investment in years. It is always in use and today was no exception. Bustling!

I took my friend there for our weekly run/walk and started from the Wegman’s in Malvern.

We agreed to up our intervals to 1.5 minutes effort with three minutes recovery, with a ten minute warm up to get across the highway crossing.

I hadn’t realised quite how much of this trail was uphill when I did my marathon on it in December, but from the protestations of my friend, I now realise that is actually uphill for quite a long way… About three miles, in fact.

The trail at this point is a reasonable distance from the 202 and not as noisy as the other end near King of Prussia. Very quickly the trail is off between trees and small housing estates, and is always full of runners and cyclists. The trail is wide enough for all and is always treated and cleared in winter; it is a commuter trail so they keep it immaculate.

This section of the trail is also straight but I have no map data as the MapMyRun app crashed when saving. Doh. It saved the stats though, so that’s the important part.

6.18 miles with 14:46 avg pace is okay. We stopped intervals after about 8 of them, I think. It was quite a large step up for my friend, but he’ll cope with it as he gets used to the change.

IMG_4259I really wanted to correct their grammar. If I’d had a pen with me… Signalized, indeed.

Frozen Behind

It was chilly again this morning as the temperatures plummeted to 12F. So I wrapped up in warm clothes as I headed out the door for my morning run.

It was 5:45 am and the sky was a clear blue which illuminated the world well with reflections off the snow.

The roads I ran on we’re all clear of any ice (good job Township) and there were few cars out. The trip out was uneventful and enjoyable.

I turned around at the three mile mark and found that I had been running with the wind. Suddenly it felt much colder. The ear warmers went back on and I pulled up my neck gaiter which was frozen against my chin.

At mile 5.5 I realised I couldn’t feel my butt any more. A quick poke and it was confirmed. My butt was frozen. What! That’s a new one for me. It was an odd sensation and as I sit at home thawing it out I wonder if it will have any repercussions. Hopefully not.

6.5 miles run at 8:18 pace. I’m not sure why I was slower this morning as it didn’t feel slower. Perhaps that’s why my butt froze?

I was out early because I have a couple of phone interviews this morning. I’m hoping that things are starting to move.