Monthly Archives: September 2015

Another Taper Week

I’m trying to keep my runs on the shorter side this week because I have the annual MS Society City to Shore bike ride this weekend.

Thus far I’ve done two five mile runs on Monday and Wednesday, and I’ll probably do one other before the weekend.

The ride starts in Cherry Hill, NJ and goes to Ocean City, NJ. The outward bound trip is about 100 miles and the return is 80. To spice it up again, this time I’ve decided that I will do a half-marathon when I reach the end on the first day… Because cycling one hundred miles isn’t enough stupid for one day!

Unfortunately the weather for this year’s event doesn’t look quite as good as it has been in past years. This is partly because it is later than normal due to being bumped by the Pope’s visit to Philly last weekend.

Typically, we don’t let the weather dampen our spirits on a ride like this, after all, any suffering we have for the weekend pales when compared to the daily suffering of people with MS. The ride does tend to bring out a certain amount of comradarie among the riders and that is often amplified by the rain. However, it does mean that we need to carry extra spare tubes because any rain washes the debris to the side of the road causing myriad punctures. It also lowers the speed of the riders, so I’m glad I’m not trying to do 125 miles down this year.

IMG_3851This was me (2nd from left) with some of my teammates last year. The weather was very nice. I love this riding kit as it brings out the super-hero in everyone!

Today’s run had a light rain falling and I managed to step shoe deep in one puddle when I wasn’t paying attention. 5.16 miles at a relaxed 8:14 pace. 

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Off Into the Wild

Well, I guess it isn’t totally wild in the Philly suburbs around Audubon and Skippack, but it is a quiet rural area and sometimes it is nice to run without a plan. 

I knew that is wanted to hit around 15 miles and was comfortable with upto 18 so I just started at Evansburg State Park and headed off on a pseudo-random route around the area. 

I had the vague thought to run past my friends recording studio on the northern edge of Skippack and did eventually manage to do that at around mile 7 of my route. It took a while to find it as I was literally just picking small roads that looked like they went the right general direction. 

Once I had made that distance I had to try and get back. This is where running with technology is helpful. Out with google maps and a quick check of a route back to my car. 

Hmm, a hilly route through one of the little villages I’d riden through last year; Creamery, PA. It is a quaint village on the edge of Skippack. 

On the way I ran past an interesting new build so I stopped off to nose around the site. Great location as it is near Skippack but not near a main road. It always pays to be on the look out for interesting property. 

Once through Creamery I stumbled back onto a trail I had run a couple of months ago that leads back to the park. 

At mile 14.5 I chose again to go a different direction knowing that I was on the edge of the park and couldn’t go too far off track. 

A more technical dirt trail along the ridge above Skippack creek got me a small cut on the back of my left calf from a stick that entangled in my shoes, but the trail was very invigorating. Steping into a technical trail when your legs are tired is actually quite a fun way to wake yourself up again and engage with the run. You have to be very present to avoid tripping or twisting ankles. Great fun. 

The trail eventually put me back onto the main park road about half a mile from my car, so I ran back and finished.

16.1 miles @ 7:56 pace isn’t bad if you count the building site exploration, portapotty stop, and dirt trail. 

I saw and heard many beautiful things while I was out exploring. Sometimes it is good to have the confidence to go off your beaten paths and to try something new. 

Get out there and enjoy running the world. 

The Best Thing About Running…

I like to eat. Or more specifically, I like to eat crap. Biscuits (cookies), cake, sweeties (candy). They are all good, so so good, but also bad. 

Therefore, the thing I like best about running is that it allows me to enjoy some of these pleasures and still be able to keep my weight under control. For the last month and a half I’ve consistently been losing weight in preparation for racing/running season. 

The days when I don’t run are far more difficult to get through as I have to be really careful with the calories. Days with running and riding are the best! 

I’m using the Lose It! App to track my calories. It can scan barcodes to get most products and then you have to guesstimate others. Best to err on the larger side if you want the diet to be successful though. 

I’m at the end of the day. I feel like I’ve  eaten well and I still have spare calories I could consume. I’ve had some beer and some candy. Hurrah. 

Btw, that sunrise picture I posted got picked up by Valley Forge park and has had 864 likes. Crikey! 

New Intervals & Sunrise

Today I met with my friend for our now traditional Monday morning run at Betzwood, PA. 

It was properly dark at 5:30 when we set out and didn’t really start to get light until we were on the homeward stretch. 

We adjusted our intervals to be 4:00 run and 2:00 recovery. This is good for me as a recovery run after a long Sunday. 

The sunrise today was spectacular.  

 This shot is without any filters or tweaking. That is now it looked! 
We saw one other person out on the trail walking. No record set today but the goal was to finish and complete the prescribed interval set. 

Because I see my friend each week it is easy for me to forget how much progress he has made with his weight loss. However, last Friday we met up with ex-colleagues for beer/food and some of them hadn’t seen him for a long time: what a difference. It just be a real confidence booster to hear those comments when you meet up with old friends. 

It was fun to hang out and bust on each other for a few hours. I then cycled home (10 miles in darkness) which really rounded the night off for me. 🙂

Busy Run on Perkiomen Trail

I’m back to my regular running schedule and did a fifteen miler on the Perkiomen Trail this morning. 

It was a beautiful morning out there and around 66F with clouds keeping the heat away. The wind was a little high but still very nice. 

I passed a field of wild sunflowers and snapped this: 

 

The run progressed well once I was over my initial stiffness at around three miles. 

I was thoroughly enjoying myself when, all of a sudden, someone came zoooooooming by me! This never happens when I’m out on this trail as generally I’m the fastest person out there, so I was a little surprised. 

Then a couple of minutes later someone else came barrelling by me. Okay. This was starting to be weird. It was then that I noticed they had race tags on their chests. So I expected to see people heading back the other way sooner or later…

Then, as I crossed over a bridge, I found a large group of people waiting and cheering on the side of the trail. I scooted around the side through a car park so as not to run through the middle of the group.

Shortly after, a couple of others went past me. This was weird. Why were they still running this direction. 

Eventually I asked one of them as they shot by. Turns out they were running a relay race; the only one in the tri-state area. I found the website for it when I got home: Creek To River Relay

It’s a 29 mile run from Green Lane, PA to Conshohocken, PA, running beside the Perkiomen Creek and then the Schuykill River. Up to six people. One car. Sounds like a lot of fun. 

I’m surprised that I hadn’t seen it advertised anywhere. 

By the time I was done with my run seven people on the relay had overtaken me. Each time within half a mile of a handover point, so they had fresh legs. Some of them were really moving though. 

It certainly made my run more interesting. 

Today I chose to run to the new Ben Folds and y-music album “So There” but I found that it isn’t really running music; more melancholy and moody (which I like but not necessarily while running). At the end of the piano concerto (last three tracks; nice work, Mr Folds) I switched to My Chemical Romance to get some speed back in my legs. 

15 miles with a 7:57 pace. A solid training run. 

National Run to Work Day

Unfortunately I can’t take part this year as I am going out with friends later, but I’ll compromise and ride my bike instead. 

I did run a quick four miler today and saw two other runners out on the roads. Quite a surprise for before 6am. 

The race photos are in from the weekend. They are all free with your entry which is nice as I don’t think I would have paid for any of them.  

 Me (Superman) with the winner of our age group. He looks much faster than me so I’m okay with that. 

  This is my group setting off for the run. Just over my shoulder you can see my wife in her blue CMTA shirt. What a big cheesy grin I have!
Will/did any of run to work?

Git

I believe this term isn’t really used in the U.S., but I found myself shouting it out this morning as a newspaper delivery car threw down a paper a few feet in front of me as they whizzed by me. How rude!

It certainly made me jump, I can tell you. But after I’d shouted out I had the thought that it probably didn’t mean anything to him. Oh, well. 

Yesterday I ran with my friend doing our run/walk combo and got another course record for our Betzwood route; 1:04:50. 29 secs faster than our previous best. 

Today my wife decided to take a day off running so I seized the opportunity to get an extra one in. A quick 6.8 miler just to help my legs recover from the weekend. 

In other news, I entered my timing info from the Beat the Blerch race into a timing calculator and it puts my estimated marathon time at 3:27… That’s just two minutes over the Boston Qualifing (BQ) time for my next age group (come November). This is good news. A little work to do but not too much! 

Beat the Blerch Race Report

Our anniversary weekend away to take part in the Carnation, WA, Beat the Blerch half-marathon is now drawing to a close. In fact, I’m writing this as our plane descends toward Philly airport. 

We had a lovely weekend with smooth flights and an enjoyable event. 

The run was as good as we expected. We met ‘The Oatmeal’ (race organiser, cartoonist & runner) Matt Inman on a couple of occasions through the weekend. 

We bought and scored a lot of ‘Blerchandise’ at the registration event. Here’s a photo of the collected items.  

 The race day started with a lazy breakfast at our hotel in Redmond. There were many groups of fellow runners staying at the hotel. The start time for the half was 9:30 so we didn’t have to rush to head out. 

When we arrived, everything was setup already; the marathon was already underway and there was a nice general buzz around the place. 

We posed and had our photos taken with gigantic tubs of Nutella and then put our bag into the checked luggage room. 

We lined up together and they let us all go in groups of about thirty. I shot off quickly from the start and was soon racing along the side of the trail overtaking lots of people. 

My initial pace reading was 8:15 which didn’t seem to bad… But the next was 8:04 and then it dropped further into the 7:50s. This was good but I felt it was too early to get times like that. 

I hadn’t looked at the course profile so when we started a hill climb at about mile three I hadn’t expected it to continue until the turn around point at 6.5! It wasn’t very steep but it did just… Keep… On… Going. 

I had all the food and drink I needed for the run on my belt so I didn’t slow for the rest stops. The first one had a guy dressed as ‘The Blerch’ chasing people and trying to tempt them to sit on his sofa (which they had shipped into the middle of the woods; good effort!). 

Immediately after the turn around I hit a rest stop and took a cup full of birthday cake to help me get into the spirit of things. It was good but messy to eat with no fork. :-). 

I was wearing my superman race shirt and getting lots of shout-outs from people as I went by. This certainly makes the event more fun but doesn’t add any encumbrance to your running effort; it is an easy dressing-up solution. 

At one of the stops there was a Saskwatch lurking in the woods. Very cool. 

I had intended to eat cake at the last stop but it was too busy. There was a 10k run too and the leaders had just hit that point so we all came together on the trail around the same tim; marathoners, halfers and 10kers. Very busy. 

I managed to navigate my way through the bodies and some people were very thoughtful in keeping their ears open for incoming runners. 

I had been keeping an eye on the clock and knew I might be close to a personal best so I really started to push the last couple of miles. 

Kudos to the person who did the 10k in the Godzilla costume, too. 

As I came into the final straight I turned the dial up again and finished smoothly. 1:38:47 on my watch. 

I had more birthday cake to aid my recovery and then watched the 10k awards. 

It then struck me that I should find out how I did, so I went in search of the computer: 

 Nice. 24th overall. 15th male. And 2nd in my age group. I’ll take it!

I waited around for my medal which is laser cut into wood and then headed out to find my wife on the trail.  

 Once I found her we ran back to the finish for her completion. 

We hung out for a bit and then took a few photos.  

 To top-off the weekend I got to meet and old college friend who I hadn’t seen in 20 years. 

All told it was a great weekend and the recovery margaritas were fabulous. A very well organised and fun time. 

Tapering for a Half?

On Saturday I will be trying to Beat the Blerch in Carnation, WA., and I am looking forward to it immensely. 

Matthew Inman (The Oatmeal; race organiser) has shared some photos of people in costumes and the race looks like it will be a barrel of laughs. We even have his game (exploding kittens) to play on the flight over. 

The run is either 10k, half or full marathon. I’m signed up for the half and have not really been planning to taper very much as I often run this distance (or more), but perhaps I should to give me a chance of a better speed/time. I’m torn and not sure what I’ll do… 

The heat returned to Philly with a few days now in the 90s and high humidity. It was 75F on my run this morning at 5:15! Crazy.

I’m looking forward to the Apple launch event today; 25 mins and counting!  

The Hills are Alive with the Sound of Runners

Monday mornings are traditionally my run/walk session with my friend. Because of the Labour Day holiday we let ourselves start after sunrise today as a special treat.

Also, it is the beginning of a new month and we normally change our intervals up. However, the mapmyrun app on android has a ‘feature’ that won’t let you adjust the run/walk intervals by seconds so you can only adjust it by whole minutes… 

Because of this I gave my friend a choice today: longer intervals or come and do a longer run with some hills in it. 

He foolishly chose the longer/hilly run around Valley Forge. It is a 7.25 mile route with rolling terrain that is a nice change from flat riverside runs. 

Hills are very difficult if you are not used to them. Even if they are only ‘rolling hills’. 

As we started the run Keith Straw (Ultra-marathoner) pulled into the lot. He caught up with us as we began our second interval and ran with us. I introduced my friend and we chatted about his running season. Once we moved into our walk interval he sped off to find the rest of the group.

We got to about the 5.9 mile mark before my friend asked us to to stop the running intervals. This is almost our normal interval distance but the added hills had really taken it out of him. 

That’s said, we still had to get back to the car and we were at the foot of Mount Misery. I’m proud to say that he chose to climb over rather than skirt around, despite being tired from the run. Excellent effort. 

With temps in the mid-60s and a low mist hanging through the valley, it was another beautiful morning. 

The hills were literally alive with the sound of runners today as the FastTracks running group did an extra group run at Valley Forge. It was nice seeing so many familiar faces as we ran around the park. We saw Keith another couple of times and got some banter going; always good for a long run. 

Our total distance was 7.7 miles with 760 ft of climbs which is a lot when you normally run totally flat ground. The pace doesn’t count because we walked the last 1.8 miles. 

We’ve also spotted another trail (Chapel Trail) through the park that is further away from rt 23 so we’ll be trying that out sometime soon!