Monthly Archives: November 2015

Last Long Run: Full-on Taper Week

So that’s it. Less than a week to my first ‘official’ marathon at Rehoboth Beach, DE, and I’ve just completed my last long training run. 

It was supposed to be another LSD (Long Slow Distance) run but I got a little carried away with the excitement of the coming race. My pace in the first couple of miles was fast so I allowed my self to slow a little mid-way and then pushed to get a negative split on the return leg. 

At the turn around point I was running a 7:52 pace (which is less than I have to run to achieve my goal for the marathon) and by the time I was finished the twelve miles I was at 7:38 pace. A good strong finish.  

 Those last couple of miles were very fast. 

So that’s it. A couple of short runs and a one mile time trial and then it’s marathon time! 

Crazy. I’ve done all I can to prepare for the race. Now I have to carb load and watch my weight. I read the other day that every extra pound above your lowest healthy BMI number (18.5 BMI = 129lbs for my sex/age/height) adds a minute to you marathon finish time; in theory I could be sixteen pounds lighter but I doubt I’d be sixteen minutes faster!

I also need to make sure I hydrate sufficiently and then hope the weather stays mild for the weekend. 


Turkey Trot

Today was the annual family turkey trot that we run at Wilson Farm Park in Chesterbrook, PA.  

 This year it was sunny and quite warm compared to last year’s snowy day. We still wrapped the kids up in cosy layers. 

Harmony had a half mile kids run (that’s quite long for little kids) and managed to run/walk the whole thing; no riding on my shoulders this year!

We were joined once again by my friend Ed.  

 At this time last year he had been running for almost two months. We are now a year later on and he runs three to four times a week, covering at least fourteen miles per week. Impressive. 

Last year he was about 260 lbs and we ran it in 45:43. 

This year he’s about 180 lbs and we ran it in about… 28:35. What an achievement! We were hoping to break the 30 minute mark and this smashed it.  We were helped by us basically ignoring the intervals and running the first two miles with no walking breaks. 

 Here he is recovering at the end. And over his shoulder, I think, is one of my blogging friends Annie from . I only noticed her once I’d taken the shot and she walked off in the other direction.  

 Was that you, Annie? It was off the main trail to the right-hand side past the finish line… I shouted out to you but you were walking off the other way. 

Anyway, we all had a good time and went off for a diner second breakfast afterwards.

This tapering lark feels rather lazy but I’m enjoying it so far. 

Happy Thanksgiving, blogosphere. 

Running on Tired Legs Again

Another week of marathon training and with it long miles on tired legs. 

Around 45 miles total this week with the Saturday run being only 15 miles. Again, getting started was tough as I’d run three consecutive days beforehand, but that is the point of the training. 

When I hit the trail there was an old guy riding his bike so slowly I thought he may fall off. Indeed, whenever he got to even the slightest uphill he would dismount and push the bike up the hill. 

This meant that I’d catch up and over take him on each hill and then he’d ‘zoom’ past on the flats. This repeated about four or five times. 

Unfortunately, this led to me starting my run a little too fast. These weekend runs are supposed to be long and slow distance runs. I ended up running the whole 15 miles with a 7:41 average. A good speed for the marathon but not what I was suppose to do in this run.  

 At the turn around I had a 7:50 pace and managed to pull a negative split out of the bag even with that. Those last two miles I was really flying. I’m not sure where that comes from…

In other news, the friend that I run with sprained his ankle while doing a trail run on Saturday; I hope he recovers in time for our planned Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving morning as we’ve been preparing for it for months. 

I’m now officially into the taper for my marathon with only 32 miles on the card this week. That’ll feel weird. 

Less than two weeks to go to the race and the real deciding factor will probably be the one thing I can’t control; the weather. 

Mile Repeats and Meteors

Today’s training plan entry called for ‘Mile repeats’ which are described as:

“Run two miles to warm up, then run 1 mile at 10k pace, then a quarter mile easy, repeat three times, then cool down for two miles.”

This is fine if you are on a track as it is easy to count the miles (four laps) and quarters (1 lap), but out in the real world it gets very confusing. It is also odd because they aren’t really mile repeats; they are 1 1/4 mile repeats… Any way! 

So I switched it around a little. I ran the two mile warm up and then did 3/4 mile at 10k pace and a quarter mile at an easy pace. I did four repeats. This made me run for the same distance at the higher effort but was easier to keep track of with my gps. 

It was quite a tough exercise especially after my bike commuting the day before; I went out to the movies after work and had to ride a bit extra because of it. 

Right at the five mile mark I saw a meteor streaming through the skies. This was one from the Leonid meteor shower. I wasn’t sure I’d get to see any because it was cloudy but I kept an eye open and it paid off. 

At 35F it was a brisk morning but I overdressed a little and could have run with lighter clothes. 

Tonight I have an appointment with my trigger point therapist and hope that will not be too painful. 

Keep ‘Em Moving

Today was looooong run day in my marathon training and I reached the zenith of the plan with the most miles in the week and the longest weekend run. 

As I commented yesterday, the training is to get you used to running on tired legs and this was certainly achieved. 

It was quite windy but the temps were around 46F. This felt cold for the first four miles on the Perkiomen River Trail but was okay after that. 

My legs were tired and tight for the first eight miles of the run and then, all of a sudden, they freed up. Until then the run had been a real drag; at two miles I felt like I’d never be able to finish. 

Once I reached the turn around point deep in the heart of Green Lane Park, PA, I felt elated. That last mile (mile 10-11) had all been uphill but it was good to turn around and run down it. 

I also stopped at this point to empty stones out of my shoes. After this I was positively bouncing back down the hill. 

My pace to the halfway point had been 8:30 on the nail. Supposedly a minute slower than race pace for these loooooong runs. 

With about five miles to go the batteries in my Bluetooth headphones went out (I didn’t charge then the night before; my fault) but then I got to listen to the sounds of the trail, which was nice. 

I saw quite a few people around when I started out but after mile eight the number of people thinned out. 

I tried to up my pace for the last few miles. To reduce your average time by a second after doing twenty miles requires you run 20 seconds faster for that next mile. Quite a feat at this stage. However, I pulled it off. 

By the time I finished all 22 miles my average pace was at 8:18. Result. 

My legs aren’t too tired and I’ve just filled up with a monster burrito from Q’doba. 

I dropped three pounds while out on the run and ate one clif bar and eight shot blocks. I drank 3/4 of a bottle of water and the route included one thousand feet of climbing. 

  The route was beautiful (as ever) and I cleared a lot of branches from the trail as I ran. 
  My splits were good and clearly show the negative split that I was trying to keep up. 
Now to recover. 🙂

Thanks for the comments of support yesterday; much appreciated. 

Marathon Training: Running on Tired Legs

That’s what the training appears to mostly be about: Getting your body used to moving when your legs are already tired. 

I am at the highest mileage week of the training plan that calls for fifty miles, culminating with a 22 miler on already tired legs. 

I’m not really looking forward to it but hopefully it will pass easily enough. 

I’ve run the last three days in a row with distances of 10.5, 6 and another 6. I even cycled to work a couple of times just to add to the muscle confusion and tiredness. 

I’ve been stocking up on carbs and protein today to help with muscle recovery and energy reserves for tomorrow.  

 It will be interesting to see what the run brings after a few beers…

Change Category

Another year passes and this time it moves me from one category on a survey into the next block: 45-54. It also seems that one my birthday I ended up completing several surveys and having it hammered home!

This, of course, also moves me into the next category for possible Boston qualification (BQ) times. It makes them within reach but still quite a stretch for me personally.  

The long run on Sunday went well and was (only) 15 miles this week. It was good to have a shorter (!) run this weekend. It was a little chilly when I set out but I was soon warm. It actually felt quite hard for the first few miles. 

On Monday I did my weekly run/walk with my friend. It was even colder that day (32F) and getting up at 4:45 on a day off feels really wrong. At 1:01:09 it was eight seconds slower than the previous week. 

To celebrate my birthday I went out and bought some new clothes. Having shed some weight recently I decided I should buy some new (smaller) clothes so that I don’t look like I’m walking around wearing a potato sack. 

I also went to the cinema with my friend to see Bridge of Spies which was a very enjoyable film. 

Tuesday saw birthday cakes and candy trying to derail my diet but that’s what birthdays are for. Arun time spent with the kids. 

Today I ran extra to try and make up for all those bad calories. 10.7 miles at an 8:10 pace flew by and I took an old route that I hadn’t run in a while. Some lovely views and a little section of new trail run on; it is always good to see the trail network being extended. 

Now I have to avoid the donuts and bagels at work today… Alright, perhaps not ‘avoid’ but try not to eat too many of them myself! 😉

I’m supposed to run close to fifty miles this week according to the plan. Two more mornings of six to go and then a 22 miler on Sunday. That’s going to take some effort… But that’s the point, I suppose. 

That was the Week that was. 

It has been a packed week and I haven’t really had time to post any updates. 

It started out with a lovely run on Monday morning with my friend. We got another walk/run record for the course of 1:01:01 for 6.2 miles. This is always an excellent way to start the week and a nice recovery run after Sunday’s long run.  

Of course, one of the best things about this week is that the clocks got set back and there was some light in my morning runs. Generally I can switch off my torch (flashlight) by six AM now, unless I’m on roads. 

This does mean that I have to start sharing my running mornings with my wife again as she will run when there’s enough light to see by. 

On Wednesday I seized the chance to cycle to work after my morning run. The weather looked good (maybe a tad chilly) and I had a Java Users’ Group meeting in the evening that was within biking distance. 

It did mean riding a fair amount in the dark but I find that to be a feeling of adventure, especially as I mainly ride back roads. My seven mile ride home had me passed by just six cars. It felt good to get back in the saddle as I hadn’t done it since getting back from vacation. 

On Thursday I had a very early morning conference call with England that left me no opportunity to run. It is strange how much you miss a regularly planned run, especially when the alternative is sitting on a Conf call for five hours. 

My friends and I were discussing the possibility of running the Grand Canyon half-marathon next year until I read a post that pointed out that the course doesn’t go anywhere near the canyon. It doesn’t even offer views of the canyon. State Parks don’t allow organised events like that within their boundaries. 

And now it is Friday. I did a slightly longer run (8.4 miles) to make up for missing out Thursday and I am also riding today. 

This weekend is a recovery weekend in my training plan and only requires a 15 mile run on Sunday. That’ll be nice then.  

 I went out to lunch with my team on Wednesday and three of us had P. F. Chang’s Great Wall of Chocolate at a mere 1540 calories per portion. It is a good job that I like running and riding.

Poor Memory

**The title of this piece seems even more relevant now as I just stumbled upon this article sitting in my draft box. I thought I’d posted this 23 days ago, but clearly not. 

Therefore, forgive the time/date references but I thought I should still put this out there. 

After last week’s 18 mile long run, I had it in my head that today’s would somehow be shorter. I recalled past plans dropping back to 12-15 miles after the 18… But I thought I should do a quick check of the Higdon intermediate training plan. It turns out that I have a poor memory. 

Bugger! I think that sums it up nicely. Turns out I was expect to do 20 miles today. Lucky I checked. <grumble>. 

I had not eaten well on the day before (as we were visiting Dutch Wonderland with the kiddies) so I wasn’t loaded up with carbs and raring to go. However, that’s what the plan called for so I set that as a target in the back of my mind, with the understanding that if I wasn’t feeling it then I’d simply change my plan.  

 The Entrance to Dutch Wonderland: the most laid back young kid-friendly amusement park we’ve been to.

Next I found that the temperature had suddenly decided to drop massively. It was 38F this morning. Brrr. I wasn’t expecting that at all. I broke out a warmer long sleeved running top and some tights… Note that the tights probably weren’t necessary but I was feeling cold on the inside so I opted for them.

Geared up and psyched up I headed out to my usual spot on the Perkiomen Trail. A 20 miler would mean running from my start point all the way to the end at the edge of Green Lane park. 

The trail was stunning today, full of autumnal colours and smells but you have to keep an eye out for the fallen nuts from some of the larger trees; it would be very easy to step on these and twist an ankle. 

I got passed by a speedy chap who looked like he was also doing a long run… He was significantly faster than me. It made me feel quite down for a moment and then I decided, what the hell, it doesn’t matter as I’m really racing myself, not anyone else. So, I carried on and gave him a cheery wave as he passed me on his return leg.  

 How I initially felt as I was passed. Picture by: The Oatmeal. 

There were quite a few runners out, although they were mainly standing around rather than actually running each time I saw them. Also, there were many cyclists out and I suspect there was an event on for them. I think, perhaps it is a ride that I’ve done in the past.

As I drew closer to the end of the run, the temps crept up into the higher 50s and I found the last mile quite tough. I was convinced that I was slowing down but my tracker was telling me otherwise. I finished the 20.18 mile run (because the 0.18 extra counts even more!) with a pace of 7:59. Not too bad given my total lack of preparation or planning for a run of that magnitude. 

Now to get on with the day and with enjoying consuming all of those lovely extra calories I’ve earned. My wife is busy in the kitchen right now making cookies with my daughter… To misquote The Princess Bride: “There will be crumbs tonight!”. 

 Crumbs, Inigo. Calm down, mate. Have a cookie…

It’s All in Your Head

Isn’t it strange how the simple act of signing up for a marathon rather than just running a distance ‘because I feel like it’ changes your entire view of the run.

Before I went out today I was suddenly faced with a feeling of despair at ‘having’ to run a prescribed distance as per the training plan that I am following. It wasn’t a case of just running what I wanted to based on current fitness level and what I felt like doing that day.

I know it is all in my head and that following the plans is a good way to ensure that you get to your marathon at the right level of fitness, but it does feel like a constraint that I’m not used to having to put up with. However, at this point it is only just over a month away so it should not be too much of a problem for long!

Today’s 20 miler was beautiful. At this point most of the leaves have already fallen and decorated the ground. I had to face twenty miles of this: 

 The run went smoothly and I was averaging an 8:28 pace on the way out. Due to the time change there weren’t many people about early… I guess they were luxuriating in the extra hour of sleep they got; that doesn’t apply to any one with little kids or ‘poor starving pussy cats’.

The route has some significant hills but not too many. The evening before my wife had been describing an article she read about trying to get some extra value out of your long runs by doing a little bit of faster running in the last section. The idea being that you put some extra effort in when your legs are already tired. This didn’t seem like a bad thing to try so from mile 16 I started to speed up a little. 

This is the pace profile for the run: 

 It shows that I was still able to squeeze some extra speed out of my weary legs toward the end of the run. Hopefully this will help with race day, but I guess time will tell. 

Food-wise I stuck to my regular Clif mint chocolate bar and a pack of the cranrazz Clif shot bloks. I didn’t eat the chocolate bar quickly enough and found that I still had some left at the turn around point. Fearing I’d run out of energy, I scoffed down the last of it and started on the blocks. I also took a bottle of water with me on the trail. 

The temps were a lovely 54F and running in shorts and summer-t is good at this time of year. 

I feel like the run met several key points the training required; running a long way at a slower pace so that you are used to being on your legs for longer, and then increasing your effort when already tired. Now to get through the rest of the week with some speed work and recovery runs. 😉