Category Archives: Commute

London 2017: Running Tourism

I’m back in the U.K. for some charity business and found myself in need of a run. 

So, I planned an interest 5.5 mile route that took in many sights of London. 

I started on Kingsway and headed down toward The Strand and through theatre district. 

This led to Trafalgar Square and the entrance to The Mall. This run along St. James’ Park takes you to Buckingham Palace (“Mornin’ Ma’am!”). 

A swift left-turn takes you back towards the Thames and Westminster. And, yes, I timed it perfectly to hear the seven AM chimes. Dong!

Over the Westminster bridge and then down onto the South Bank and past the Millennium Wheel. It was quite icy down here by the river so I chose to run along the tree line as the roots provide a little extra heat into the ground and reduce ice (top-tip).

Running past the Arty cinemas and museums of the South Bank, I eventually ended up at the Millennium Bridge and crossed back to the north-side. 

This bridge leaves you with one of the most English view available: a clear shot of St. Paul’s Cathedral. Lovely. No time for picture though. 

(This is what I saw; thanks interwebs)

I made a right turn and turned north when I saw signs for Farringdon. After checking my gps, I found the road back towards my hotel and finished in good time. 

A really fast 8:08 pace which feels really fast when you are in a city. I only had to stop for lights four times on the whole run. 

It was again great to see sooooooo many cyclists and run-commuters in London. This always makes me smile. I saw a line of about thirty bikes at one point on my run. Crazy!

I was overtaken once on the route (as I headed up the steps in front of St. Paul’s) and overtook a lot of people while I was out. 

I hope to get out again in the remaining two mornings I have here. 

I’ll try to take some pictures on the next run. Promise. 


Lost my Running Mojo

The last couple of weeks have been an on and off relationship with my running. 

I have restarted my daily cycling commute to work and that is making me even more against the running. Strange, right?

The culmination of this being me stopping running after a half mile this morning; walking back and heading down to Starbucks. So much for the long run. 

Now I’m sitting here considering the world. Considering running. Considering cycling. Listening to Marc Maron talking with Louie CK on WTF!; two men at the peak of the game. 

Recovery Time

After my long run on Sunday I spent Monday recovering. 

My morning run on Monday was quite gentle but I did introduce my friend to fartleks. His performance has recovered suitably from his time off and I thought that adding these might be a nice challenge. 

The route we run has large pylons along the side of the trail that make for good markers for the fartleks. 

After giving some warning about it I was happy that he accepted the challenge. At the next pylon we upped our pace a little. Not too much, but enough to make it more difficult. We ran to the next pylon which is quite a distance; perhaps 1/8 mile. As I said, the pylons are huge.

We did three of these through the run. Consequently we got our overall time for the route back under an hour. It is good to try something different every so often. 

We saw our friendly Skunk again as we entered Norristown. He didn’t seem to care about us. 

During Monday I over indulged somewhat as I had a team lunch and then dinner with a friend in the evening. This blew me through my calorie limit for the day but I knew that I was well down on the previous one so I wasn’t too bothered. 

On Tuesday I cycled to work for the first time in ages. It felt great to get the bike back out on the road even for that short distance. It is going to take some time for my butt to readjust to the saddle again. 

This morning (Wednesday) I ran an early six miler so that my wife could get out after me. I nearly lost my hat three times as there were powerful gusts of wind on my way out. Fortunately it was behind me for the return trip. 

All in all, the week is going well. 

Tonight I go to see my trigger point therapist for a deep sports massage. It will be painful but good…

Run for a Reason: Car Service

I occasionally like to share an idea to help you find actual real life reasons to run. It’s all very well running around in circles at a track, or doing out and back routes through your neighbourhood, but sometimes it helps to have a purpose for your run.

Today my purpose was to get my (wife’s) car serviced. 

The garage we use is about three miles from my office so it is a comfortable running distance between them. My plans were somewhat screwed when I found that part of the short running route was inaccessible due to floods from the recent rain and snow-melt combo. This meant that I had to resort to taking roads (during rush hour is not ideal) and going an extra mile or so.

Of course, doing this also means that you have to run back to the garage in the evening to get the car. I’ve never really enjoyed evening running and top-and-tailing the day.

Eventually I got back out on the road after waiting for rush hour to pass. This meant it was dark but I had the foresight to bring my blinky lights. The run was hard work on tired legs and after a trying day in the office. 

Running for a reason is good, but hard on a work day.

First Footing Fresh Snow

Finally the snow has arrived in south-eastern Pennsylvania. It took until mid-January, but it has arrived. 

This meant that on Wednesday morning I got to go out early and ‘first foot’ many areas around my house. 

I chose a long hilly route that mixed roads and woodland. 

The roads were fine as it was only a light snow fall but you have to be extra careful when traffic approaches as they may not be able to easily move out around you. 

Wearing lots of bright clothing and make sure that it is NOT white. Green and orange are best. Also, blinky lights will let traffic see you from further and give them more time to adjust their road position and speed. 

Running through the woods can be a little tricky. You have to keep your eyes open for covered roots and look out for ice on the hills… In both directions! Running uphill and downhill gives traction issues. 

With temperatures in the single digits (9F) it was a very cold morning. This meant I needed an extra layer to cope with the wind, a neck gator and a hat. Mummification. 

And again today I was out with temps around 14F. I run the risk of using all my clothes up before the next wash cycle as I’m wearing so many layers each time I go out… Especially as I’ve riden to work a couple of times this week too! 

Stay warm, everyone. 

New Year Group Run

Well, Happy New Year to you all!

I trust you had a good night and didn’t stay up drinking too much (like I did). Partying at the neighbors house is too easy.

I went through my logs and calculated that I ran a total of 1367.57 miles in 2015. That’s significantly more than last year when I just made it to the 1000 mile mark. I guess marathon training really helps to pile on the mileage.

Today, my friend Ed and I started the New Year by joining the Fasttracks running club annual New Year’s Day run that starts in Valley Forge Park and goes out a couple of miles to the base of a big hill (Diamond Rock Road)… Which it is then an option to climb.

This was a challenging run for Ed as unlike our regular weekly run it was six miles with some significant hills and undulations. We normally run alongside a river and there’s barely a slope at all.

Nonetheless, Ed had agreed to do the run (even though he misunderstood the distance; ho hum) and so we started at 8:30 this morning with a hard run.

Here’s Ed and some of the others climbing Diamond Rock..

It doesn’t look too steep in this shot but there are sections that are 24%. It is a long tough hill.

One of the club members lives atop the mountain so we went there for mid-run refreshments and chatting, but, all too soon, it was time to saddle up and run back.

Coming done the hill was fine but they took their toll on Ed’s legs so we slowed the return run down and did more walking intervals. We don’t want to start the new year with injuries, after all.

On the way back into Valley Forge we stopped to get a photo with the State Park sign, using my Apple Watch as a remote for the camera; such a cool feature.

When we got back to the finish some people we still milling around for a celebratory toast which we missed. Some others came in after us so we hung out with them for a while to give everyone a chance to recover.

This was the first time my friend joined me at a running club event. Hopefully he didn’t feel like a stranger as they are a very friendly group.

What will 2016 bring? I’m not sure. Now I’ve done an official marathon, I’m not sure how I feel about it and whether I will do another one. I did miss Boston qualifying by a very small (8 second) margin but I’m not too hung up on that. I think I prefer running half-marathons and it takes less of a toll on your body, for sure.

I am going to try to be better about cycling to work more, even during the winter. I did buy some fenders(mudguards) for my bikes the other day so I won’t get quite so filthy when the weather turns. I’m looking forward to testing them out.

Other than that, I don’t really have any goals for this year. Maybe I can find some from around the blogosphere. 

I wish you all a good year. 🙂

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. 

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…

Turn of the Season

The weather looks to have turned decidedly toward Autumn. There are leaves down on every trail and the wind is starting to pick up.

In fact, the wind is causing problems here.

Sadly, the MS150 City to Shore ride that was planned for this weekend was cancelled yesterday when NJ declared a State of Emergency. This is the first time in its 35 year history that it has been cancelled. There’s a hurricane blowing up the coast and they can’t risk having cyclists, volunteers and emergency services on a charity ride. I’m disappointed but I think they’ve made the right decision. They have a great safety record. I’m sure the organisers are as disappointed as us riders as they put a lot more effort into the event than we do.

I had managed to raise $345 for the event so hopefully that will still do some good.

With that in mind, I don’t have to worry any more about my (slight) taper. I did ride my bike to work yesterday only to be stranded at the office for a few hours due to the torrential rain that was flowing outside the door. Thanks ‘The Weather Channel’ for the all clear forecast in the morning; doh!

Today’s run was brief and slightly damp at 3.75 miles and a reasonable pace of 8:03. I felt positively bouncy as I ran down the road. I took the 91 steps up the hill to the local school to get an extra challenge, although they are a little precarious when it is wet.

Time to go and wake the family so we can get out for breakfast…

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!