Monthly Archives: December 2015

Recovery? From What?

The human body is a strange thing. I ran 26.2 miles on Saturday and come Sunday all I felt was a slight tiredness in my knees. No thigh aches. No soreness. Nothing. 

It is a very odd feeling. I did run it far slower (30 mins) than the marathon at the start of December but I sill expected some aches and pains. 

On Monday I joined my friend for our last run-walk-run interval session of the year. We stuck to our previous 5 mins run and 2 mins walk intervals, keeping them pretty well as per the plan. 

Next week we will move to the next interval level using six minute runs and two minute walks. 

My friend had some new tech this week: shoe lights. They were an xmas present from his family. It is great to see them embracing his new healthy lifestyle. 

These rechargeable lights strap into your laces and give out about 150 lumens. They worked quite well but are probably best suited to running on a Tarmac or paved trail. I say this because they are so low to the ground that uneven surfaces can lead to you not being able to see very far down the path. At some points we could tell if we were about to run into puddles or if it was just a shadow cast by the ground. 

They do light up items on the ground really well so it is unlikely you’ll trip over branches but I’d be worried about using them solely (pun intended) on a run. 

They do make you visible and would certainly catch the attention of drivers. Here’s a pic of my friend running off into the woods wearing them.  On my phone the picture is animated but I don’t think WordPress supports that yet. 

One of my xmas gifts was a new bag for cycling to work. A Timbuk2 bag. It was raining today so I thought I’d test it out. The bag has many compartments and has a folding section for packing clothes for work. This bag is much larger than my previous one that was an emptied camelbak water holder. I’ll comment more on this after I’ve used it a bit longer. 


Boxing Day Marathon #4

It is done. In the bag. Completed for another year. 

In the past I have had to run on icy trails while being pounded by hail stones and snow, but this year was an entirely different story.

Today it was the perfect weather for a marathon. 51F. Little wind. No rain. No sun. Just steady temperatures and a grey sky. 

I chose to base my routes around the Betzwood River Trail location as this gave access to fully functional toilets and ample parking, plus lots of other people on the trails (which is a good safety thing if the marathon attempt goes to crap).

This year I was joined by my Monday morning running buddy for the first six miles of the route. For this section we headed out towards Phoenixville along the SRT. The trail has a gentle incline out of Valley Forge National Historical Park and the dives back down to run right alongside the river. At the three mile point we looked for a trail marker (in this case a bridge), ran to it, and turned around.

All this meant that the time we got back to the cars we had 6.4 miles under our belts. I grabbed a hat and my headphones and started out. My friend, Ed, ran a little further with me, then bailed at the end of the Betzwood lot. It was nice having someone with me for the first part of the run.

My plan was to do the next ten miles as a five mile out-and-back run through Norristown. This part of the SRT is quite pretty and goes past lots of riverside homes as it passes through Indian Head. There have been some issues for people in the past as they go through Norristown but I’ve been fortunate enough never to have issues. In general, I would advise women not to run alone through this area, but there were a few doing that today (well done them). 

The five mile turnaround point was part way through one of my favourite pieces of the trail when riding a bike… A fast and gentle downhill out of Norristown Railway station. On a bike I can hit over 30mph on this stretch, but today it was a more leisurely pace.

By the time I got back to the car I had 16.4 miles under my belt and felt fine. At this point I switched out my water bottle for a mix of water and Gatorade, grabbed another Clif mint chocolate bar, and a spibelt with two extra packs of Clif shot bloks in case I started having issues with cramps.

Then it was straight back out on the trail towards Phoenixville again, this time running all the way to the Reynolds Dog Park. I turned around when the trail hit the road and my legs were still feeling fresh. Distance-wise I was a little short at 4.8 miles out, but making up the last little bit by running around the car park is sort of a tradition on these… You don’t want to end up having to run further!

Through the last few miles my legs did start to tire, but they didn’t have any cramps or muscle issues at all. I think running with the Gatorade really helped on this front. As I spotted my car I still had another 0.7 miles to run, so I headed up to the far end of the car park, ran around to see the work on the new trail bridge over to Valley Forge (very nearly completed) and then turned back towards my car. As I reached the car I got the twenty-six mile announcement and had to go a little further to get to the final number. I did feel a bit of a lemon doing this, but I see other people doing this sometimes too.

Sitting in the boot of my Mini and drinking rather remainder of the Gatorade I felt really good. My legs weren’t too achy, I had some mild soreness from my shorts rubbing (my fault and not the shorts), I had only eaten one and a half Clif bars and six bloks, but I didn’t have any cramps or real fatigue.

I did run at a far slower pace (8:50) vs. the marathon I raced three weeks ago (7:50), but that was my plan so I don’t feel too bad about that. I didn’t use a music playlist but instead listened to podcasts for a more relaxing experience.

My weight before was 147 lbs and after was 146 so I think I did a good job with the nutrition and liquid intake. Here’s a recovery photo. Apologies for the unshaven wreck.

All in all, I finished in 3:51:44 and feel fine. Not a record run but the first time that I didn’t have to stop and walk near the end. Small improvements all add up.

There were a lot of people out on the trail today and most of the runners said “hi” and, in general, the cyclists also announced their passing and also acknowledged me. That’s nice.

Now to enjoy some of the xmas trappings that I had to avoid on Xmas day; bring on the wine and beer!

Early Xmas Present

In taper week the long run isn’t too long, so I only had to do a twelve miler on Sunday.

The temps were quite low (32F) but the morning was beautiful. I ran from home to save some time as we had family plans for the holidays. I headed out to Evansburg State Park and took a narrow unpaved trail through the woods. It was so nice out there. The trail ran along a ridge overlooking Skippack Creek as the sun was rising over the opposite bank. Halfway along it turned into a horse trail rather than a walking one; this means that the surface became far more furrowed and uneven, and had several water crossings. Some were so wide that I had to take a running jump to cross them and on one I ended up with damp feet, but that’s all part of the fun.

When the lady in my phone told me it was time to turn around, I decided to ignore her. I was having too much fun to retrace my steps and I thought I might be able to make the run into a loop rather than an out-and-back. Eventually the trail came to the other end of the park and I looped around some roads (narrow unused country roads) to head back toward home.

I ended up doing 13.5 miles which isn’t too far over the twelve required and it was nice to run a distance that wasn’t prescribed by a plan.

Last night I went to see the new Star Wars film. Wow. Nice work, J.J.Abrams. Very true to the original trilogy. This meant I had a late night before my early run with my friend so it was a struggle getting out of bed this morning at 4:45.

However, it was worth it. We decided that we would run our 5:2 intervals for the three miles out and then just run straight through for the return. Quite a challenge but I thought he’d be able to do this… And, of course, this resulted in us beating our previous route record by a couple of minutes; 58:38.

We broke the hour for the 6.2 mile route! Hurrah. 

Certainly a nice early Chrimbo present.

For the remainder of the week I am tapering down so I can run a marathon on Saturday (Boxing Day) as is my tradition.

Have a good week everyone.

Don’t Get Distracted

This morning I nearly came a-cropper as I had let my mind wander while running. There I was considering why the local middle school locked all their trucks and vehicles inside a high fenced area, when I suddenly found myself plummeting toward the floor.

For some unknown reason this closed off road has speed bumps on it and I just wasn’t paying any attention. Thankfully I have quick reflexes and managed to save myself before my face hit the concrete. But it certainly got my focus back to the running.

On Monday I ran a new record on the 6.2 mile run/walk with my friend: 1:00:34. We are so close to breaking the one hour mark now. The 5:2 intervals work well and we are running straight-through a couple of them on the return leg of the run. We are running about 17 minutes without a break at that point which is pretty good.

Medium Distance Run (Slacking)

After a long week of relatively short runs, and a hectic party schedule, I was a little more than reluctant to hit the streets this morning.

My son woke me at 5:30 and so we just hung out until the others woke up, then I sneaked off back to bed for a crafty catch up sleep.

Once I eventually got up at nine, I sat under a blanket and just enjoyed being lazy. This is very unlike me but felt great…

Then at 10:30 I just got up and went out. I managed a relatively slow 9 miles at a recovery pace of around 8:30. I think, strictly speaking, my training schedule called for fifteen miles, but it felt like my legs haven’t recovered from the last marathon yet, so I eased off.

It was crazily warm today. 65F when I went out of run. I sweated off 3.5 pounds. This is nuts for December! Normally it would be in the 20s. It has been like this for most of the week, too.

It was announced this week that the official marathon photos were available online and were free; this was a nice surprise. In a couple of them I look like I was about to keel over, but there were a few good ones.

The first of this set looks pretty good. The ear warmers look a bit dorky but they are so nice when it is cold out. I normally take them off after a couple of miles and just clip them around my arm. Very handy.

I also reached the end of life (400 miles) on one of my pairs of Brooks Glycerine 13s but have a new (cheap) pair of Glycerine 12s waiting in the wings thanks to some foresight with the Black Friday sales. The wear pattern shows a slight heal drag but they are generally quite evenly worn. This is in keeping with my neutral shoes and foot strike. I did start to find that I was beginning to feel the road through the soles by the end of their life, so I’m looking forward to the new pair.

Strictly speaking this week should be the start of my two week taper to the next marathon; my traditional and unofficial Boxing Day marathon. We’ll see how that goes… If anyone wants to run part of it with me they are more than welcome to come along… 🙂

Recovery Week

This week was supposed to be a slow one for recovering after the marathon at the weekend.  

 Recovering from this. I was asked to pose with this. And this. All courtesy of my new friends in the Marathon Maniacs. 

Recovery? Not so much as it turns out. 

I did take Sunday off and my legs were very tight. I couldn’t easily transition from standing to sitting which makes bathroom trips interesting and requires you to hold onto hand rails; I guess that is how old age feels. 

Monday morning I went out and did my standard 6.2 miles with my friend. He was happy that I was tired and stiff and running more slowly than usual. We stuck with our 5 min run, 2 min walk structure and I managed to get through it. 

This really helped my legs feel better and by Monday afternoon all aches and pains had passed. 

Tuesday I couldn’t get out in the morning so did a quick four miler at lunch time. 

Wednesday was another four miler just to keep my legs turning over. 

Today (Thursday) I ran a slow eight and a half miler under the stars, chasing deer and startling birds that weren’t expecting me to appear out of the dark. 

So, I guess it is fair to say, I’m through the recovery. My plan is to start preparations for my annual Boxing Day marathon run from home. This means it is almost time to start the taper. 

I also went through and counted the miles for November: 193.5! This is more than fifty miles greater than my previous best. Marathon training certainly pushes your distances. 

My total for the year is now at just over 1200 miles. 

Marathon Summary: Rehoboth Beach, DE. 

It is done and I am working through the aftermath of aches and pains, albeit only slight aches. 

So, I should return to the start and regale you with the full marathon story…

Friday I took the day off from work and started with a leisurely diner breakfast with the family, came home and packed all I would need for the trip. At one p, I hit the road to DE which was about a two and a half hour ride. Basically, a straight-line road trip that was dull and uneventful.

Upon arrival, the first thing to do was to get the race packet. This event was well organized and quite busy. Parking is plentiful and free at this time of year in Rehoboth Beach, so getting a space near the packet pickup was easy.

The packet contained very little of interest: a few race flyers, some freeze rub and, of course, the race t-shirt. 

Next stop the hotel and the staff allowed me to have an extended checkout for race day. Result! Nothing worse than hanging around in sweaty clothing with no shower available. The room had a side view across the beach in Dewey, DE. Quite pretty.

Then I unpacked all my race garb to make sure that I hadn’t left anything behind and laid it all out ready for the morning. Everything was present and correct.  

 After nipping out for a quick pizza I decided to hit the hay early at 7:30 after putting my devices on charge. Sometimes I’ve had issues with not being able to sleep the night before a big event so I wanted to maximize my chance to get some shut eye… However, it wasn’t a problem this time. I slept right through until 5:30 when my alarm went off. 

Parking for the race was very simple. Again, there are lots of free parking spaces there right near the start line. This meant I only had to brave the cold sea breeze for about 15 minutes before the race started. After a slow rendition of the national anthem, it was go-time. 

 Sunrise at the beach.

  Everyone is ready to go.
I started a little way back in the pack as I generally do. It allows me to feel like I’m fast as I overtake people in the first few miles and gets my legs turning over quickly.

I had some issues getting mapmyrun to start via my watch. My fingers were too cold for it too sense them, I suspect. I managed to get it started a couple of hundred yards after the start. The first few miles twist around the town and steer you out towards the Henlopen State park. Interestingly, they have the marathon and half marathon split around the four mile mark, sending us marathoners out into the wilds. The turn around point was at mile ten and was quite breezy.

The park was very pretty and nearly entirely flat.when we passed the thirteen mile mark I realized that my gps was entirely out of sync with the distance. It was well over half a mile off by this time. This was a concern.

The little voice from my phone had been telling me my pace was 7:30… Then it had dropped down to  7:25… 7:22… And eventually reached 7:15! I thought this was buying me extra time for later, but I guess it was because the distance measurement was so far off. This meant that I didn’t really know how I was doing.

Some slow mental arithmetic over the next few miles allowed me to work out what my time should be at the various mile markers, however, I didn’t know the exact time that I crossed the start line so it was going to guesswork to some extent.

At mile 18 I started to feel tired and eased up a little, figuring I had a little bandwidth. At mile 19.5 I was overtaken for the first time in the race and didn’t manage to retake them. A clear sign I was slowing a little.

At mile 23 I stayed to feel the beginnings of cramps in my thighs, so I waked for a 30 seconds. I had to do this three times. With two miles to go I figured I had sixteen minutes spare… Perfect for an eight minute mile pace.

I tried to pick it up a little but I couldn’t make much more headway… Finally I crossed the line with my gps saying 26.87 miles, despite starting it late.

After grabbing water, medal and a warm wrap I headed over to the official timing tent. 

 3:25:08. My BQ would have been 3:25:00… Well, except that you have to really beat it by a couple of minutes these days to actually still qualify. 

I missed by eight seconds… But this is still 13+ minutes faster than my previous personal best. Sweet. 

 I’m not sure why the camera inverted the picture for the selfie… Something funky going on there. You see all that salt… I certainly worked hard during the run.
Now I’m recovering at home after a long and enjoyable post-race party hanging out with a crazy bunch of marathon maniacs, some who did more than 30 marathons this year. Crazy.

Last Pre-Marathon Run

Well, that was it. The last gentle three (and a half) mile run before my marathon in Rehobeth Beach, DE, tomorrow. I’m nervously looking forward to the race and hoping that I can keep my pace under control in the first few miles; I must not go zooming off too quickly. 

I’ve packed all my running paraphernalia and some warm clothes for afterwards so that I can hang out for the after party. I’ve heard that the party is pretty good and has lots of pancakes; I will definitely avail myself of those!

Picture by TheOatmeal.

The temperature is looking to be perfect; around 40F with a light wind. There hasn’t been much rain recently so the trails will be in good order and I’ve managed to avoid the cough/cold bug that the rest of my household has been suffering. My throat is sore but it hasn’t impacted any of my running or my breathing.

This morning was supposed to be a very easy three mile run but it’s just not worth getting up and out for that so I made it a 3.8 with some hills. It was good to run as the taper has meant that I’ve done very few miles this week. 

Picture by TheOatmeal. 

I’ve not had too many of the taper-hebegebies; not going crazy in the office or getting stressed at the wrong times. I had two parties to attend last night and managed to have plenty of water with my meal. 

In about an hour I will hit the road down to Delaware to pickup my race packet and check in to the hotel.

I’m definitely getting excited now.