Tag Archives: phoenixville

And Just Like That, Summer Arrives

After a long and enjoyable Springtime in Pennsylvania the summertime heat is finally upon us. Gone are the gentle cool morning runs through the refreshing morning air. 

Today I ran a 13 mile route along the Schuylkill River Trail, along past Reynolds Dog Park, along the shaded canal, up past Lock 60 in Phoenixville, then along the river bank to Upper Schuylkill Valley Park, around a field along a little bit of Route 113, then back down the other side of the river. 

They’ve done some really nice work on the trail up this end now. It still isn’t suitable for cyclists but most runners should be able to enjoy this. 

On the way back there was one short section where I had to climb up a stony bank close to a railway line to cross a spur of the river, but there was plenty of space and no danger (plus it is a freight line that doesn’t have too much use, especially on a Sunday morning of a holiday weekend). 

Another section was through quite an overgrown Pathway that required me to slow down a couple of times as it became so thick. Time for a tick check when I get home, me thinks! (All fine).

Once I got back close to my starting point, the last half mile was across an open car park with the sun in full blaze. So, I opted to walk and found a shady route behind all the local big box stores. My final destination: the Starbucks counter in Target. Ah, sweet blessed relief by iced decaf Americano. 

I stopped off at a rest room during my run and had to take a photo of the toilet roll dispenser. I’m not sure I want to slide the door on my bottom, no matter how emphatically they propose it. 

Changing gear a little, it is Memorial weekend so a big shout out to all the Military Vets out there. Thank you for your service and for ensuring our freedoms. 

12.8 miles of steamy woodland running completed. 

This also led me to complete one of the #mapmyrun annual challenges, albeit quite a light challenge of 1000km in a year. 

I’m not sure if I posted my April mileage but it was significantly lower than previous months at just 113 miles contributing to my total of 525 for the year. It’s good to have a bit of a rest and in glad I did most of my running during the winter coolness. 

Where have these days gone? Brr. 🙂


Another Reason to Run

For the second time this week I’ve managed to find another reason to run other than ‘for the sake of running’. I like to think of these as illustrations as to how running can fit into your life to help get things done. Perhaps they will serve as a case to help persuade others that it isn’t all about running around in circles.

On Friday I got to ‘first foot’ as some light snow was coming down. This is always a nice thing and it was a lovely morning. The snow was quite wet but it was light and didn’t cause me too much difficulty with running.  

footsteps on the sidewalk

 On Saturday night my wife and I hired a babysitter and we had the chance to go out for Indian food with some friends and then had (many) beers at their house. We planned to use Uber to get us home and I would go and get the car the next day. 

Our friends live nine miles away and this isn’t really quite long enough for my long Sunday morning run, so I added a few extra miles and explored some new parts of the Schuylkill River Trial in and around Phoenixville, PA. 

The trail was recently extended to run right through the Center of town along the edge of French Creek, over an old railway bridge, and then out of town (via a steep hill). The run is really nice.  You have to cross a couple of roads but at that time on a Sunday morning they were quiet. The trail stays out of the main town areas and along the back of the Main Street shops. It passes the old foundry building which has been turned into a museum of the areas history. 

Once through the town the trail turns very rural very quickly gang through areas that are clearly old train yards and foundry works. It also heads up quite a steep hill for well over a mile. Fun.  

I ran the trail until I hit a point were I had been before, then turned off and head toward my car. Some of the roads weren’t ideal and weren’t familiar to me either, which always feels a little more risky to me. I tried to make myself as obvious as possible.

Three and a half miles later I was back at my car with 15.5 miles under my belt. My times weren’t great because of the hills, the late night and, probably, the beers too. I did enjoy the run and it felt good to run some new trails. The air was a cold 23F but the sun was shining and the world felt good.

Utility Running

It’s not often I get for run for a real reason and by that I mean to get somewhere specific rather than just for exercise. Running for utility. 

However, last night we drove to a town about ten miles away for a grown-ups night out, drank heartily and the ubered home at the end of the night. 

This left our car needing to be retrieved today, me with a slight hangover, and in need of my regular weekend long run. The perfect combination. 

The temps were perfect at 55F but it was raining quite thoroughly. It’s just rain though. I loaded up with my new knuckle lights (slightly different logos for the latest model but works the same) as I wanted to make sure that traffic would see me in the rain. 

Most of the route was to be trails after the first 2.5 on roads. The trail by the river was completely flooded out so I was treading water quite a bit. I had expected this though so I wasn’t put off. 

The canal was getting quite full from the extra water but not enough to encroach on the trails, thankfully. 

Anyhow, mission accomplished and I retrieved the car and shook off the hangover. 

My wounds from Friday’s fall are healing well. Scabs are forming nicely on my knee and elbow. And I have to say that the band aids I’ve been using (Star Wars and Peanuts) have worked incredibly well, remaining adhered despite being on areas that have a lot of movement. 

I find myself thinking about my friend running the last part of his Dopey Challenge down in Florida today. I hope he’s doing well…

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!

Level Up Your Crazy

Today I had a run/walk scheduled with my friend despite the light snow that was coming down.

We headed to a section of the Schuylkill River Trail that we hadn’t attempted before between Phoenixville and Royersford. There was about an inch and a half of snow on the ground so enough to slow us down and make surfaces slippery. It was about 20F.

For most of the trail we were the ‘first footers’ on the pristine snow. I always like it when I get the opportunity to do this. /home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/5e7/55986753/files/2015/01/img_4150.jpgMy friend had injured his knee earlier in the week climbing over a fallen tree on another trail so we were trying to be careful with our efforts so as not to make it any worse.

However, we chose to up our intervals to one minute on and four recovery. This worked out well for us. But we were manually timing and didn’t do all the intervals. Oops.

The trail is quite winding and has some gentle rolling hills, but is quite picturesque, if you ignore the old power station that appears to be shutdown now.

The run was was good and represents another level of madness for my friend; going out running in the snow. Hehehe. There’s no going back!

5.5 miles done.

Introducing the Running Interval

After having walked with my friend for the last four weeks at distances up to six miles, we introduced running intervals today. This was a first for my friend and I’m sure that he thought I was trying to kill him, but I wasn’t. Honestly!

We went to Lower Perkiomen Valley Park and headed out towards Phoenixville and the Reynolds Dog Park along the SRT. This is a flat walk on a paved surface and is ideal for this type of workout. We did a ten minute warm up walk and then a thirty second high intensity interval for which we ran. After this we walked for four and a half minutes to cool down, then we repeated it. I configured mapmyrun to give us cues for the interval changeovers and this was very helpful.

As an observation, we were surprised by how long the thirty second intervals felt and how short the four and a half minutes felt for recovery. They seemed to come around very quickly.

After ten interval repeats we decided to stop them as my friend was experiencing some difficulties from his clothing. However, we covered over six miles in one hour forty five minutes which is a big improvement over our normal walking pace. The intervals bring the average for those miles down to around 16 minute miles, whereas normal walking is around 18:30 minute miles. Next week we are planning to do the intervals throughout the whole walk and will target the Perkiomen trail again as we both enjoyed that.

This was a major milestone and I look forward to doing more of these intervals and start to shift the balance for run/walk as long as my friend can keep with it. We are monitoring for foot and knee issues and taking it all very gently.

The trail was beautiful today and I watched enviously as a group of cyclists glided effortlessly past us.

Sometimes You Just Enjoy The Run

Saturday I was supposed to be in Nashville for the Rock’n’roll Country Music Marathon, but the adoption of Louie stopped my training and meant that I didn’t want to go away for the race.

I saw lots of pictures from my friends that did go down; their bar adventures and shots from the race. It looks like they had a good time.

So, this morning when I went out I packed an extra clif bar and tried to see how far I could go. My previous record was 18 miles and that was quite a long time ago. It was quite warm today so I headed down a route that would take me past plenty of water fountains and was ‘mainly’ flat.

At mile four I saw one remaining leg attached to the spine of a very dead deer laying in the middle of the trail. It had been picked clean by the animals but it was an odd place to see it as the trail is heavily used.

At mile 8 I felt fine and headed out further towards Phoenixville as I haven’t been that way for a while. It seems that they have done a lot if work on the trail out there and added in a new bridge on the canal and an underpass by a very busy road. All very nice. At mile ten I was stil feeling fine so I went a little further out past Lock 60 and into the great unknown. This really became a trail run at this point with me having to climb across some culverts and ditches, plus wading through some muddy waters. It made a nice change from the pounding of the pavement. I turned around when it got too muddy. While out there I spotted a chap painting a landscape in the wood next to the trail. All very picturesque.

When I got to mile 17 I had a choice: head home for a 21.5 run, or run a couple of extra miles and make it a marathon distance. My legs still were fine so I headed onwards. This is where it all went a little off course. At the 19.5 mile mark I turned around and realised all the remaining distance was uphill. 7 miles of uphill to be precise. Whoops. The climb was gradual but went from 85ft to 312ft. Constant climbing. Nothing for it at that point but to knuckle down and do it.

I didn’t experience any wall or similar. I always knew how far I had to go and can relate that to the distances I run during the week. Eight miles. Six miles. I know how each of those feel, so it was no problem.

When I got home the total distance was 26.41 miles in 3 hours 47 mins. Not too shabby given I missed a lot of training and the profile of the run.

20140427-220822.jpgThen I had to get showered and shaved as 1.5 hours later we were leaving for my friends wedding ceremony and reception. I danced most of the evening with my daughter and my legs still don’t feel too bad. That said, I wouldn’t have wanted to go much further than I did. Well, not with anymore hills any way!

So, that’s it. Marathon done. Ticked off the list. Self-supported, except for the omni-present iPhone and my A-ha playlist (don’t judge me). Four bottles of water. Three cliff shot blocks. Two clif bars. One crazy person. No country music.

Surprisingly easy. Or perhaps I should wait until tomorrow before I say such things.

What to do next, I wonder?

Weekend Update & Gingerbread Pancakes

There’s a reason why I like to ride my bike as my cross-training exercise. It is the group that I ride with. Oh, and the pancakes.

Today marked the first day official day of our winter season which is marked by breakfast stops at a diner in Phoenixville to warm our frozen, erm, fingers. My personal favourite from the menu are the Gingerbread pancakes, preferably with a mountain of powered sugar (thanks to my team mates telling the waiter to put ‘their’ helpings on my pancakes; thanks folks). Good times and hanging out with mates.

One of my friends is just starting out and getting into running. This is great. I love it when others start to enjoy running so I hope she can stick with it and get as much out of it as I do. As I say to all starters, just take it slowly and build your distance at your own pace. Don’t worry about how fast you run. Don’t worry how fast others run. The trick is to get moving and do it in such a way that you can keep on running with no injuries. For life!

Battery died in my Bluetooth transmitter. Don’t care.

Battery died in my rear blinky. Don’t care.

Puncture 1.5 miles from home. Humph. Stuff happens. I knew I should have checked the pressure this AM.

Tonight I decided I needed to get out and run my legs a little so I did a quick 6.5 miler. Much harder after a ride on the same day but I have to get my miles per week up. Pace around 7:45 so it was a middling speed which I am trying to avoid as per the plan; run faster or run easy and not in-between. Saw some friends out in the trail again so that was nice. 53F in shorts and t-shirt at dusk was a little chilly though.