Tag Archives: gear

Piling on the Miles and First Snow

An early start today as my son forced us awake. The first snow of the New Year fell overnight and so I had to get myself together to get out there.

Winter tights (as there was a wind and it always feels colder with snow on the ground), gloves and ear warmers while not essential, really help on days like this. It took about six miles of running until I found a section of trail that no one or nothing else had run or driven on, which was a surprise because this area isn’t exactly populous AND it was early on a Sunday morning!

Finally, some trail with no footsteps in it.

The trail pictured above felt *alive* because the snow was causing the overhead cables to crackle and buzz as I was running below. Quite a mysterious and alien sound but relaxing in a white-noise kind of way.

This weekend I increased my distance from 12 miles to 14 miles. I put some water in my belt and some shot-blocks, but didn’t eat any of them on the run. At one point around mile 8 my chin froze and I had to cover my face and blow warm air onto it to defrost a little.

From my house it is about four miles into Evansburg Park’s main area. From there it is possible to join onto the Perkiomen Creek And Skippack Trails. Seven miles out and back in the cold was more than enough today. Once home I had to scrape the drive and sidewalk to get the snow off; one of the problems of having a steep driveway.

During the week I managed to get out several times and one of the runs was a guided run from Nike+; featuring a long interview with Paula Radcliffe it was an insight into her career and how she drives herself to get results. An interesting short form interview with some quiet spaces for just running with your thoughts. I quite like that.


Froze My Butt Off

Finally some wintery weather has descended in the Philly suburbs. 

A light dusting of snow arrived Friday night and then the temperatures plummeted into the low teens Fahrenheit.  

This led to some great playtime with the kids on Saturday and to a very cold run on Sunday morning. 

The actual temp listed was 13F but the real feel was 3F; so getting the right kit was imperative. 

Kit included:

  • Snowboarding socks
  • Under armour underoos (an extra layer for butt)
  • Sugoi winter leggings
  • Under armour cold weather long sleeve shirt (x2)
  • Cycling wind breaker layer (has long back pockets that also cover your butt). Make sure this is a visibility colour against snow; do not wear white or grey. 
  • Balaclava
  • Baseball cap
  • Winter mittens

10 miles later, all that froze was my butt. My face and hands were toasty. I wore my iPhone holder inside my outer layer to stop the phone from freezing up. 

I wasn’t fast but then no one would be with all those layers on. 9:07 average pace reported by Nike+. 

I’m writing this sitting on a heat pad to defrost my extremities 🙂

Tech-wise I ran with my Lumo Run device today and I got ‘in the green’ results for four of the five measured categories, with the only exception being my hip rotation. 

I used Nike+ on my Apple Watch for tracking and started it from my watch. This meant that to hear the announcement for distance and speed I had to hold the watch up to my head as the sound wasn’t routed through my headphones that were connected to my iPhone. Nike really need to get their integration worked out. 

Now to get showered before my sweat causes me to get a chill. 

Have a warm week. 

Daylight’s Precious Hours

This weekend the clocks change. Spring forward and lend the evenings some light.

However, that is stealing the light from my morning runs. It has been so nice running these last few weeks without having to use a torch (Brit.). (In America they think a torch is something you’d carry to burn a village, or for the olympics).

This morning I finally got my Brooks Glycerine shoes over their four hundred mile mark so I went out and bought some new shoes. My massage therapist had noticed that I was having some foot stress and suggested slightly higher bridge support. When I took my last pair with me to the shop they said I was pronating ever so slightly but that a different shoe (less neutral) might help.

All this means that I’m now the proud owner of a pair of Brooks Ravenna 7 shoes.  

   These shots show the wear on my old Glycerine 12s. Note the slight wear on the outside of the heal area, but other than that era even. This is a good thing. Some people might be tempted to continue running with the tread in such a good state but I know from past experience that it is best for me to move on at 400 miles.
The new Ravenna 7s look like this.  

 I’m not sure about the whole “Carpe Runem” tag inside the shoes though. That seems a bit naff. 

Frozen Chips

Today when I set out for my morning run it was 4F actual with a feel of -10F. 

Pretty. Bloody. Cold. 

The last post had my list of winter running clothes but this kind of temperature deserves extra. So what did I change?

  1. swapped out socks to snowboarding socks. These are great because they grip your feet well and don’t slide down your calves as you run. 
  2. Swapped out running tights (lightweight) for winter weight versions. 
  3. Added a winter weigh cycling jersey. This may seem like an odd idea but there’s a great reason. Cycling jerseys have an extra long back with pockets. These essentially give you a couple of extra layers of warmth across your butt as well as helping to keep you much warmer. 

So how cold was it? I barely noticed the difference to be honest. However, when I took my phone out to snap a beautiful landscape at dawn… My phone froze within a couple of seconds, shut down and wouldn’t come back. I was 6.5 miles into my run when this happened and was about to head off into ‘unknown’ territory. 

Suffice to say I changed my plans and headed back to more familiar trails. 

I tried to restart the phone a little while later but the chips were still frozen. Oh well. 

Thankfully my Apple Watch kept going so I still got credited for the distance but all my gps apps died. Once home and in the warm my phone soon started up again. I just should not have taken it out in those cold temperatures. This has happened before with earlier models. 

My neck gator had icicles. My eyes had them, too, but it was good out there. 

There are very few cars out at six am on a Sunday and even fewer when the temps are sub-zero. 🙂 

<insert a picture here of my shadow illuminated by a golden rising sun that cast my shadow across a golden bush in front of a long valley filled with trees and power pylons; then titled “Man casts a long shadow across a beautiful landscape”. Deep man, and lost forever>

Have a great Valentine’s Day. 

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.

Trip the Light Fantastic? Early Morning Running

I mainly run pre-dawn on roads so I need to make sure that I can be seen easily by drivers and ensure I don’t trip over deer/sticks, etc.

As I didn’t run today I thought I’d jot down the things I use daily to help me stay safe on my runs.

First item: lurid t-shirt with reflective strips when possible. Normally bright orange, green or yellow. No cool black shirts at this time of day.

Second item: small white LED light. The one I have isn’t very powerful but it is good enough at that time of day to be able to see a few steps ahead. The one I have was a basic bike light so it has a handy Velcro strap that I use to attach it to my hand or to my waist belt. Once it is bright enough to see without the light, then I switch it to flashing mode so that it catches drivers eyes.

Third item: small red LED light. This is an old bike light that has a clip on it. I put it into flash mode and put it on the back of my shorts or my waist belt.

Fourth item: waist/water belt. I’ve run with a water belt for years now. At the moment I don’t tend to carry water as I’m running shorter distances and it isn’t very hot at 5:15 in the morning. When I run > 5 miles or if it is hot then I’ll put a water bottle in the belt. Also, some Clif Shot Blocks if > 8 miles. The belt is a convenient place to attach those lights. I put the light on my right-hand side so that it is shining forward down the road and marks the outside of my personal space; drivers can then get a feel for how wide I am.

Fifth item: Halo headband. Very 80s but I like the plastic sweat gutter they have as it stops my burning acidic sweat from melting my eyes as I run. If you don’t like that look, they do have hats with this tech in them that also work well.

For your general gear (shirts, shoes, etc) make sure they have reflective strips and that they are clean. They won’t reflect if they are covered in dirt.

Updated: the one thing I never leave the house without, whether cycling or running, is my Road ID. It is such a habit that I forgot to mention it initially. Silly me. Fixed now.

I know I look like a mobile 80s disco as I float down the roads around my neighbourhood but at least I reduce my risk of tripping over the uneven pavement and increase the chance that drivers will see me before I bounce over the front of their car.

Stay safe my shiny friends.