Tag Archives: perkiomen river trail

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.


Out Early for Perfect Weather

It may seem strange to many people that we runners get up early on weekends, but it is often essential on the summer months. We need to be out there before the sun gets too toasty. 

Today I was up a 5:30 and on the trail at 6:30. I drove to Evansburg State Park and used the fisherman’s lot near the entrance as my base. This would leave me with more running through the actual park. As my route shows, I ran through a fair piece of the park and then headed out towards my favourite trail: Perkiomen River Trail. En route I am saw signs for Skippack village and thought: “hmm, perhaps I could go that way and make a loop out of it…”. 

I did some rough estimates in my head for distance and figured it would be around 15.5 miles. I was planning to do 13 but an extra two isn’t a problem… So off I jolly well went on a new route. 

The trail towards Skippack is relatively narrow and very twisty. Fortunately it is well signposted as there are several junctions and (small) road crossings. 

I also discovered that this was quite a hilly route.  

 The road out of Skippack was long. And straight. And hilly. 

It takes you past the entrance to S.C.I. Graterford which is quite well hidden and not really marked on any road signs. There are four roads around the prison and they are ALL called Graterford Prison Road. Very confusing. 

I had estimated that when I reached the Perkiomen River Trail I should be at about 8.5 miles and I hit it at 8.3. Not too bad for a guess! I figured it would be about 7 miles back from that point, but with one big hill to climb. 

I overtook a few runners on this piece of the trail, one who commented that I was fast. She was running with a full camelback water rucksack which looked too big and it wasn’t tight enough on her. Each to their own. Perhaps she was running a very long way today.

Going up the big hill a cyclist overtook me and then began to falter a little way ahead. I nearly managed to catch him to offer a push. That would have been funny! 

At a couple of points I did my cadence check and was at 197, 194, and 184 steps per minute. Not bad over this distance. 

Mapmyrun once again killed the music on my Bluetooth headphones. I use them regularly without the running app and never have a problem but as soon as the app gives announcements it kills the link to the headphones.  This time I simply packed them away and didn’t bother faffing around with them like last time. 

All in all I completed 15.3 miles in 2 hours and 11 mins. That’s about an 8:32 pace. It’s not very quick but the hills were harsh. 

Now I’m sitting outside Starbucks with my decaf iced coffee contemplating a refill before heading home. Life is good.  

 In other news, my local newspaper from home ran a “35 years ago” article the other day and featured in one of the shots was me shouting encouragement to team mates at a Keephatch Junior School sports day, 1980. How random is that? I’m the third one in from the right. 

I don think I ever saw these at the time so to find them 35 years later is really weird. 

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. 

Abandon Hope All Ye Who Run in the Heat

Is that a little dramatic? Perhaps just a little. 

I tried to run today after a late night the evening before, waiting until after lunch and in 80F heat… I just could not do it. 

My legs would not turn over. After ten minutes I had to switch to walking. Then tried again only to find myself walking a few minutes later. I tried a third time and then had to stop and sit on a bench to recover while several others jogged happily by. 

After about ten minutes I made the tough decision to abandon the run and start to walk back. I did get to see a very cool and large snake basking in a log in the river. 

 You may not be able to tell from the picture but he was about four or five feet long and very fat. 
I ran a couple of short sections on the way back and then drive to get a cold drink and recharge. 

I feel like I failed but sometimes you have to stop yourself if it is not going well. I’ll try again tomorrow… 

Meanwhile, I know some people (friends of friends) who are running their first fifty milers today. Good luck to them. 🙂

Walk. Lost. Found. Stumble. Relax.

Yesterday I took my friend for another long (6.3 mile) walk along my favourite trail; the Perkiomen River Trail. And, for the first time in a long while, I was able to take pictures while I was there.

IMG_3923.JPGAs you can see, the trail is resplendent in fall colours. It was a delight to walk this trail even though it was drizzling throughout the walk. In fact, that sort of added to the ambience. I had only just managed to dry my shoes from the previous weeks walk. It was nice to do the trail at a more leisurely pace and take in the sights.

Today it was raining again. Does that stop us runners? Nope. I grabbed a rain jacket and went out regardless. At about the one and a quarter mark I noticed that my rear blinky was missing. (Dah dun dah!). So, I quickly turned around and dashed back over the hill fearing it may be intercepted by a school kid or another runner (as if there were any others out!). I had a feeling I knew where it went to as I had to duck under a branch and twist slightly earlier on. Sure enough the light was sitting on a pile of leaves blinking happily to itself. Blackburn survives another near-death experience.

After clipping the light onto the back of my hat (rather than on the loose pocket of my rain jacket), I turned around and resumed my run back up over the hill. As I created the next hill, I was dazzled by an oncoming bus and misjudged my foot position. This caused me to stumble a little as my foot twisted on the edge of the sidewalk. Luckily I have strong ankles and recovered without falling in a heap.

After another couple of miles the rain stopped and I got too hot. Running with a loose jacket is very annoying but it has cool reflective sleeves (IllumiNite) that make me very visible on the roads so I wasn’t going to take it off and put it around my waist.

Not a fast run but an enjoyable one. 5.46 miles at 8:04 pace.

Favourite Trail During Favourite Season

I had a rare treat today as I headed out on my favourite trail with a perfect balance of leaves falling and still on trees. The colours were spectacular and the temperature a cool 48F. The Perkiomen River Trail is a lovely place to visit and I started from the park at Oaks.

On days like these it is an opportunity to reflect on all the good things in your life and be happy with what you have and who you are.

I was listening to Muse while I ran and that made me move a bit faster. I managed a negative split with a fast pace: 8.3 miles at 7:38 pace. This was a practice visit to the trail as I intend to come here mid-week with my friend for our walk but I wanted to ensure the trail was still in good condition.

It was a welcome break but now I have to get back to life.

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.

Taper Week and Not a Worm In Sight

Next Sunday I have my first official half-marathon HHHalf where I am registered in my own name. So in preparation I need to start scaling down my activity to build up some steam for the event.

However plans sometimes go out the window when you start running. Today I set my iPlod on My Chemical Romance’s Black Parade album and didn’t realise quite how zoned out I was until the album finished. Oops, I’d forgotten to turn around and was now at the 5.5 miles mark.

The perkiomen river trail was beautiful and had a good number of cyclists and runners out, most of whom would return my greetings and waves. I think the Superman shirt I was wearing makes people more inclined to respond. I was singing away as I was going along and playing air guitar and drums. Very sad, I’m sure.

Looking forward to a more relaxing week if I can remember to actually do less. We’ll see… As for this run 10.6 miles at 8:02 pace. I did stop to speak to a cyclist who was pushing her bike to make sure all was well, so that added to it a little. Most of the time I was under 7:50 pace.

Trials of Ice: Trails of Ice

Another cold LSD run today. 12 miles at an 8:45 pace which is not bad considering 6.5 miles were on snow and ice where trails had not been cleared. I ran through the Lower Providence Valley Park which is part of the Perkiomen Trail, and the Schuylkill River Trail between Oaks and Phoenixville Reynolds Dog park. The biggest problem with this route is that the last 2.5 miles home are all uphill. They are a drag at that point in the run!

I had four ‘oh shit’ moments while I was out there where the snow beneath my feet became icy. It is also hard to maintain running form (mid foot strike) when you are running in snow or putting your feet onto ice.

I’m also finding that I’m pretty tired after running 26 miles in three days. I hope that gets easier as I progress through the marathon training.

One of the houses along the route had a massive fire last night. At least three fire trucks were headed there. I hope all were okay.