Monthly Archives: July 2015

Runs in the UK

Dear Blogosphere,

A quick running postcard from Cornwall, England. The weather here is perfect for running but not summer holiday material with temps in the 60s, high winds and occasional rain. 

The title of this article gives a hint at one of the problems I experienced while running the other day. Thank goodness for large leaves and an abundance of bushes. I still ran for a few more miles but felt very self-conscious. 

Today’s run was all about the hills around Weeks St. Mary. They are long and a bit of a struggle after a few lazy days. The village is small and scenic with a queue outside the village post office. It must also be one of the only places  in England that doesn’t have a village pub. 

The roads around where we are staying are all narrow single lanes with 9ft high bushes on either side so you don’t get many views and you have to keep you eyes and ears peeled for approaching vehicles.  

 Not a typical road but a lovely view!

Big Wheels Keep on Turning

After my loooong run on Saturday I took a seven mile hike on Sunday morning to help loosen up my legs. Lots of hills and beautiful scenery climbing Mount Misery and Joy in Valley Forge National Historical Park. 

On Monday morning I went for a six mile run with my friend who ran into problems part way and we had to walk back. It was around 75F with crazy high humidity so walking was a nice option. My legs appreciated it too. 

Today is Tuesday and I took my freshly serviced road bike out for a quick spin before work. 15 miles of trails to Phoenixville and back was a lovely way to start the morning. 

I had my entire drive train updated and upgraded. New shoes, clip pedals, chain ring (36, 52), chain, gear cassette (11-28), and tyres (700x25C). 

I noticed that my shoes creak as the leather is starting to break in. They are my first road shoes that have carbon soles with no flex and the power transfer is very different to my previous shoes. 

   
  Bike Porn? 
On the way home tonight I managed to get up the monster hills in the big chainring still, no change there. It is easy to break 30mph on the flat now, too, assuming you can find a safe place to do this. 

Bailed on Marathon

I’ve posted no updates this week because I was planning to run a marathon today and was tapering… However, at mile 20 I’ve decided to bail. 

Cramps in my calf and dizziness when I stopped to tie a lace stopped me going any further. 

I feel like a bit of a failure but I guess I’ll just call it a 20mile training run and do the marathon attempt again in a couple of weeks. 

I hadn’t been following a plan and last weekend I did run 18 miles so I guess I was pushing it a little. 

The run was pretty good as I had planned it to hit several water stops and my car so I could refuel regularly. 

I ate well with sports beans, 2 packs of clif shot blocks and two clif bars. 

I drank three 20oz bottles of water and was helped by a friendly cyclist who gave me a bottle of Gatorade at mile 14.5. What a gent! He saw that the water fountain I was trying to fill at wasn’t functioning so he offered me his spare bottle. His shirt said “RoadDawgs” and they are a team I have drafted on the MS City to Shore ride before so a big “THANKS” to the anonymous rider. 

I was plagued with technical problems today. 

I forgot to charge my phone last night so had to delay my start by and hour to pick up some energy. Then my Bluetooth headphones refused to stay connected to my phone. Every 20 seconds they would disconnect. I tried everything to get them to work properly and ended up abandoning them at my car at mile 19. This is the second time that has happened with these headphones so I may have to return them. I seem to have no luck with Bluetooth tech and it is not like I’m hard on the equipment; I always keep them in their pouch. 

There were many cyclists out today and very few announced they were passing. Thanks to the four that did! 

The promised storm that I was hoping for never materialised so I ended up running in 75F temps with high humidity the whole time. Stupid weather. 

Anyway, I enjoyed the run despite giving up. I think it was a sensible decision to make given that I was heading out into the wilderness when I started to feel faint. 

The walk back to my car was relaxing and allowed me to write this article. 

Now to get some food, stretch and roll my muscles out. 

18 Lush Miles

Sitting recovering outside a Walgreens may not seem like a nice way to recover but they take Apple Pay and sell Starbucks Moccachino’s so that where I ended up. Shame on Dunkin Donuts and CVS who don’t accept it. 

Any way, I got out fairly early today while the temps were in the high sixties and hit the trails. I started in Collegeville, PA and ran towards Betzwood. 

Most of the trail is shaded by trees and it is a well used section. There are three water fountains and my running club also hosts water stops on Saturdays along this route, so it was perfect for a day that promises to keep getting hotter. 

Today I was helping things out. 

I cleared many large branches from the trail for the bike riders. 

I helped a frog get across the wide trail without getting stomped or riden over. 

I gave directions to two sets of cyclists that had become lost. 

I waved at llamas (and I think one waved back; very weird). Chased bunnies and squirrels. And scared a few chipmunks. 

I ran on the Perkiomen trail, the Schuylkill River trail, the Betzwood trail, the Audubon Loop, and managed to run through the grounds of my company. 

By the end of my run it was 80+F and I was completely burnt out but I’m starting to feel better now I’ve been sitting writing this for a while. 

My music today was an 80s throwback session. The whole of Frankie Goes To Hollywood’s Welcome to the Pleasure Dome album, then two albums of It Bites. All of it very enjoyable for a long run. Apple watch makes it very easy to choose more music while you are out on the trail. 🙂 

My phone says I averaged an 8:17 pace but I don’t think it paused properly when I stopped for water or to give people directions, so I may have been slightly faster. That’s not too shabby for the distance. 

Time to get myself together and get on with the weekend. 

Running Early

The summer heat has certainly arrived in PA and the only option for running without entirely melting away is to get out early. 

This doesn’t reduce the humidity but at least the temps are in the 70s with no blazing sun. 

Yesterday I met my friend for our Monday run at 5:30 am and ran 6.2 miles. We marginally missed a best time because I pushed him a little too hard in the first half of the run and he had to rest on one interval on the return. Lesson learned. Must employ reverse split. 

This week I am commuting to work on my wife’s hybrid. It is much nicer than my one and has had hardly any use. It is a little chunky but has good gearing and came back up the hills pretty easily. 

The tyres also have rather more grip than any of my other bikes so that’s an added benefit in these days of random thunderstorms… One of which I got caught in when I took my bike shopping last night. I put the baby trailer on and headed to the supermarket and then the beer shop. As I stepped out of the shop the sky opened. Most refreshing. 

Interestingly, in the half mile from the shop back home I saw about seven other cyclists. It’s nice to see others out! I then sat and watched the Tour de France. Some nasty accidents today and the climb looked like fun. 

Today I was out early for a 3.7 mile run. My pace was slow at around 8:07 but it is very muggy and it was supposed to be a recovery run. I took the hilly route to push a little harder. 
There were two other runners out and about five walkers. Again, it’s good to see other people being more active. 

Time to Upgrade

Holiday weekends are fun. It is easy to forget that we don’t have to do everything and try to overstuff the days, but this time I took it nice and easy. 

Friday was a party day with some colleagues from my old job… After an early morning run, of course. The drinks gave way to a Rock Band (game) session with lots of singing and bass playing. Excellent fun. 

Saturday led to the traditional Tour d’Omelette ride. I wasn’t sure if I’d actually make it after Friday so I left the arrangements to the last minute. Through some miracle I was up at 5:30 and made it to the start point. 26.5 miles of riding into central Philly to have breakfast at the Famous 4th Street Deli. The food there is incredible in both taste and scale. The omelette is a six egg omelette. Not two or three but six!  

What a beautiful bunch! 

The hardest part of the ride is getting home afterwards with all of that inside your belly. Here’s and example of the Corned Beef Hash.  

It took four people and a carry-out portion to clear this. It may not look it but this portion is about five inches high!

A few of the group decided we should ride up the legendary Wall in Manayunk. It is a steep hill and the crew handled it well. 

En route home our team witnessed and assisted at a nasty bike accident. A wife crashed into the back of her husband’s bike while trying to overtake our group. They didn’t see the bikes coming the other way and tried to slow too quickly causing her to go flying off the bike at about 22/24 mph. 

She was unconscious for a couple of minutes. Fortunately, one of the guys in our group is a trained nurse and he helped her out. Another of the team is a leader at a hospital and was onto the emergency service immediately organising an ambulance. I and another member setup traffic patrol to slow other cyclists and make the area safe. 

Once she was ‘back with us’ and the ambulance was on the way a few of us got moving again to clear the area a little. 

We all wish her a speedy recovery. Some important general safety points to consider though:

  1. Public bike trails that are busy aren’t really good for high-sped riding. Dial it back and ensure you can see before committing to overtaking manoeuvres.
  2. Announce clearly and well in advance before attempting an overtaking manoeuvre as the group may see something that you don’t or may be about to change direction.  
  3. Always, always, always wear a helmet. She was and it probably saved her life. Even if you don’t ride fast, others do. Also, bikes fail mechanically with no warning. Animals jump out and cars are unpredictable. Animals jumping out of cars are even worse; crazy bastards. Always wear a helmet. With a mushed brain you will no longer be yourself if you even survive. 
  4. If you ride or run alone make sure you have a Road Id or similar in case you are knocked unconscious and cannot speak for some reason. 

Today I tried to go for a long run but my legs were toast from the ride and the humidity was very high (waa, I know) so I bailed after just four miles. 

In the afternoon I took my road bike in for a service. It hasn’t had a full one in close to two years and I’ve just serviced it myself. 

I wanted to upgrade the drivetrain ratios because I haven’t used the low ring for three years and I find the bike tops out at 44 mph. The cassette and chain needed to be replaced anyway as they had worn from the 8.5k miles already on them. 

The tyres needed replacing too, so I had them add that to the list. It’s going to be expensive as it is a high end bike, but that’s what I bought into. 

I had to get a new light as my old one short-circuited from the heavy rain the other week, so I upgraded that too. Now I’m at 700 lumens which is about 20x brighter than my old one. Battery and LED tech moves so quickly. Given that I’m riding to work a lot now I guess that warrants spending some money on the gear. But this has been an expensive couple of weeks. Oops. 

In the meantime I setup my wife’s hybrid so that I can use that for work. My backup bike is at the end of its life too. At least her bike only has some small flashes of pink. I’ll cope.  

Ready for work tomorrow. 

But before work I’m meeting my friend for another six mile run and again we are upping our intervals. A new month = a new test. 2:00 easy. 2:30 hard. Kicking it! 

New Start Point

To celebrate the bank holiday here in the U.S. I thought I’d try starting from a different place on my run. 

Hunsberger Woods are on the outskirts of Collegeville, PA and near Ursinus College. They were given over to the public in 1994 and is a lovely starting point for running the Perkiomen Trail. 

A gentle downhill into some meadow lands start off the run, with a little stream crossing and an odd little outhouse building. The paved trail quickly gives way to a mown grass pathway that leads around the other meadows. Eventually it will drop you out on rt. 29 right near an entry point to the Perkiomen Trail. 

The temps were in the high 60s and with a little humidity from recent rains, but it was perfect weather run a run. 

Through the miracles of modern tech I can post a running selfie set-off by my apple watch.  

What a lovely day! 

Have a nice holiday if you are celebrating Independence Day. I shall be riding in Philly with my Union Jack cycle shirt on; that’s asking for trouble on parade day. 🙂