Tag Archives: distance

Take it in your Stride

It’s the last day of the month so I thought I’d finish it with a bang. 

I’m doing a lot of work on the house at the moment, so I wanted to ensure that I had enough energy left after my run to actually achieve some things today; therefore I chose to run a mid-distance,  eighteen mile route. 

The Perkiomen Trail was beautiful this morning with a temp in the low 70s. The humidity, however, was close to 100%. I was essentially dripping with sweat within a mile. It is a shame that water weight doesn’t count as weight-loss. 🙂

The trail greeted me with many wild animal sightings in the first mile: a doe and her fawn, a fox, a groundhog, some rabbits, a buck and then a heron. 

Clearly I hit that perfect time in the early morning when they are all about the business of getting breakfast. Silflay was the word used in Watership down, I believe. 

It was quite busy out for being so early. At one point (around mile five) I passed the chap that overtook me a couple of weeks ago. He was sitting resting so it didn’t count. But, he did start heading my direction.

I stopped to clear some branches from the trail and glanced behind me about a mile further up the trail and, sure enough, there he was stalking me. 

Not again, my friend. Not again!  

As it happens I could see another runner in the distance and decided I’d use him as my quarry. I increased my pace to pass him. 

It took me close to a three-quarters of a mile to catch up with him. He said he was doing five miles out and about to hit his turn around. This was now about mile eight and I decided I’d do another mile before turning. 

Determined not to be passed now that I had no direct target before me, I tried a few tricks to help keep my pace up:

  • Light on my feet
  • Pushing back as if on a skateboard
  • Standing straight
  • Powering with my arms
  • Engaging my abs. 

It seemed to work as I reached nine miles without being hunted down. 

This list reminds me that my LumoRun is supposed to arrive this week. A cool new gadget to test out. 🙂

Once I started heading back down the trail I saw him about half a mile back. Clearly I’d actually be putting more distance between us. Yes!

The rest of my run was at a more relaxed pace as I took in the lovely scenery and feed across the river. 

I stopped to refill my water bottle with two miles to go. The humidity was really oppressive by this point and I was looking forward to the bottle of Gatorade that awaited me in my car. 

I was basically out of running juice by this time and jogged at a slower pace for the remainder. 

The Gatorade was like nectar and I had soon consumed the entire bottle. 

Now, sitting eating my well-earned lunch on the last day of the month I thought I should check-out my annual mileage thus far. 

Today’s run pushed me upto 156.07 miles for the month and to a total of 921 miles for the year. My second biggest month of the year thus far (March = 170). 

I got a text from my friend that I train with and he said he managed to do 116.5 miles this month which is his highest ever. Having a dog to run with twice a day is really ramping up his mileage and helping him shed some extra pounds. 

Here’s a screencap from a video I took of them them other week. She’s a lovely dog. 

Now I need to get back home and carry on decorating my garage. Some patches to smooth off on the wall and then to put a second coat of primer on to drown out the brown (why’d they choose brown?) drywall. 

My wife is away at the moment but had this t-shirt shipped to me. Funny. 

I guess that’s a good point to finish for now. 

Living the dream, man. 

Living. That. Dream. 

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Eventually, My Legs Gave Out. 

And that sums up today’s run pretty well, so I’ll just end there.

What, you want to know more? Well, okay then!

I planned to run twenty plus miles today and headed out in the shade of the Perkiomen Trail. It was a lovely cool 67F when I hit the trail and all was well with the world.

There were plenty of cyclists out in the early morning light and they were all courteous. There were a few runners out there including several people who looked like I hoped I look (I know that I don’t as these people were perfect physical specimens and I was just lumbering along). In my mind, I was running like those elites. 🙂

All was going fine. I started slightly earlier on the trail to give me more miles before hitting the end. I then ran a bit further and when I clicked over to eleven miles, looked for a turn around point. I don’t like to just stop part way on the trail and like to find something to use as a turning marker; a sign, a junction, a gatepost, etc. 

At this point I was all the way up in Green Lane Park and the day suddenly got a lot warmer. The temps were soon close to 80F and I had a whole lot of miles to get back through.

I also hadn’t brought enough snacks for the extra distance which is something I only realised once I was out at this point. Why I didn’t think that before I set out, I don’t know. One Clif bar. 6 Clif shot blocks and a bottle of water. Nowhere near enough for this distance. Bugger. 

In the woodland trails I had a moment where a stunning Buck appeared on the trail before me. He stood there and assessed me, then decided he should duck under the trail railings and disappeared down towards the river below. A beautiful moment, albeit only briefly.

Eventually I knew I would run out of food I was was trying to eat slowly, but I needed to keep hydrated. Then I realised that my route went past the back of a bicycle shop; perhaps they’d have water. Indeed, they had a soda machine (alas I had no funds) but on the side of the building I found a hose.  I ran it until all the warm water stored in the hose had gone and then filled my bottle. At last, water! At this point I still had four and a half miles to go.

I headed on down the trail and drank the water. Soon I had emptied the bottle again, but I knew there was a water stop at a toilet block on the trail at the two and a half mile mark. Once there I filled up again and rested briefly. I was out of food and starting to feel out of energy. I continued on for another mile or so and then had to stop and resort to walking the remainder. 

I started walking at the 20.6 mile mark and had 1.4 miles left to go. It felt bad having to walk the last bit, but I had no energy left to run that last bit. So, I soaked in the morning sun and enjoyed natures abundance; squirrels, chipmunks, people boating, cycling and running… Ah, someone overtook me that I’d passed earlier. Boo. I tried to run a little but soon decided that there was no chance I’d get past them, so I switched back to a walk.

Eventually I arrived at the car and scooted around the corner to the local Dunkin Donuts to get a very large icee drink. Lovely. And a couple of donuts, too, of course. Yum.

It was a fun morning run but I now know that I need to plan the water fill-ups a little more and take more food for that distance. The half bottle of red wine the evening before probably didn’t help much either…bad Rex Goliath!

Even after all the walking at the end, my average pace for the 22.25 miles was 9:19 which is still pretty reasonable. 

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. 

~~Px
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…

S.P.E.E.D.

One thing that I am finding as I keep dropping weight, is that it gets easier to run longer distances and my speeds seem to be improving. Now, while this may be related to the weightloss it is also probably due to the extra miles I am putting in to help with the calorie scores.

September turns out to have been another record month for me from a distance point of view. I managed to run a total of 137.45 miles. This is the second month in a row that I’ve got a new record. I think I’ll add a section for this on my represent page.

My legs feel strong and my times are dropping. I wanted to make sure that people understand, however, that this is all related to a very gradual increase in my activity levels over a long period of time. It is not just someone starting to run and suddenly doing those types of distances; if anyone does that they will undoubtedly get injured.

It is a careful balance of increasing activity, monitoring calories and nutrients, and remaining focused.

Yes, it does appear to be possible to train for marathon-distances and actually lose weight (which goes against many an Internet meme) but only if you do it slowly and carefully.

Yesterday, I tried a lunchtime run from my office rather than an early morning one. It was really fun as there are a number of people that hit the trails at lunchtime and that gave me some ‘rabbits’ to try and pass. My pace over the four miles was around 6:53 which shows just how much faster I was going. It really was a fun run with ideal temps and some good competition, although, to be fair, they didn’t realise that they were the competition!

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 Longer

After a month of shorter runs due to travel and holidays it was time to up my distance again. 

To get back in the spirit of things I did a ten miler this morning. And guess what? It was bloody freezing again. What is going on? It was 27F with a feel of 20F. I’d already packed away my winter running gear. Oh well. 

Although cold it was beautiful out today. A fresh spring morning with a clear sky and low sun. The bite of the air meant that I needed my ear warmers and neck gaiter when I started out. The warmer came off at mile two but I kept ducking in and out of the neck gaiter as my chin froze when I was running in shades areas. 

All in all I did ten hilly miles with a pace of 8:00 which is reasonable as I haven’t run that far for a while. My legs were still strong at the end of the run and I could have gone longer if I’d prepared more. 

Distance Makes the Heart Grow Stronger

For my Sunday long slow run I chose to do a new route that took in parts of some of my other fave trails but joined then up with shortcuts that I had discovered on recent runs. I also needed to go quite long as I took rest days on Thursday and Friday.

Fifteen and a half miles on legs that are feeling a little weak (due to not eating enough, I suspect) was quite tough. The route was a little hilly with 870ft gain but nothing too excessive. My pace was dreadfully slow again at 8:40. I don’t think running later works for me. I’m better if I just get up and get out the door early.

There were many people out on the trails today. Some large groups of cyclists (Berks Counth bicycle Club were very polite) and lots of families walking. I love to see the trails in use. Many of the cyclists were not announcing though and on some occasions I called out for them as they were going to be overtaking me as I overtook others. If I hadn’t checked behind me it would have been a mess.

Today I chose to listen to music while I ran and made a running list of some of my own songs. I was out for over two hours and didn’t very to the end if the list so that’s always a good thing. :-).

Now to eat, shower, rest and play around for the rest of the day.

Big client go-live this weekend so I have to keep an eye on work in case I get called in to help out.

“Advice for Aspiring Runners” and Long, Slow Distance Run

Firstly, I did my first deliberately slow run today as all the marathon training books seem to insist you run slow when you go long. One to two minutes slower than your goal marathon pace. Well, I couldn’t go to two minute out so I chose a target pace of 8:20. At the end of eight miles I was at 8:33 so pretty close.

Now that’s over with I can get onto the meat of today’s post. One of my friends (LeoV) is a professional race photographer and he posted his advice to runners on his Facebook page yesterday following a harrowing morning working at a finish line. It is hilarious and has some wise words, so I asked him if I could reproduce it here for you all to enjoy.

Take it away, Leo:

“To all you aspiring runners out there, some unsolicited advice:
1) Don’t be a dick. Many of you are dicks. Please, just stop being a dick.
2) If you stop ON THE START LINE to play with your iPod, with over 3,000 other runners surging behind you, you deserve to be trampled.
3) You don’t have to juggle while you run. It’s been done. Next.
4) Yes, it is important to finish strong. No, nobody is impressed with your finishing sprint into a crowded finish line. Earn your PR out on the course, not by endangering other runners at the finish line. You ran with the herd; finish with the herd.
5) Your personal finish line celebration is stupid, unimportant, and inconsiderate. Little Miss Cartwheel? You kicked someone in the head. Mr. Zoom Zoom, pretending to be an airplane. You cut off several runners and you tripped someone, whom you didn’t help up. Most unbecoming for a 50-something “man.” Yelling BOOM! while you stomp on the finish line. Yeah, we’re impressed with your 3:30 half, too. I walk faster than that.
6) Don’t pull your children on the course to run across the finish line with you. It’s unnecessary and dangerous. Share your “moment” with them off the course. No one wants to have to hurdle your spawn 20 yards from the finish.
7) If you’re going to vomit… Oh, never mind.

Many of you may think that all the time I spend around racing has made me cynical. The above observations were from just three hours, today. Can’t wait for next weekend! ”

Some very wise words there. Well, it made me smile. 🙂