Tag Archives: skippack

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.


Nike+ Niggles Resolved


Last week Nike released an update for their Apple Watch and iPhone app. 

One of the major things that it fixed is something I had commented on in these pages before: when you start the run from your phone it doesn’t put any info on your watch! 

Thankfully, they seem to have resolved this along with putting some additional thought into the solution. 

For one thing, once you start the run on the phone and then get going , if the watch loses contact with the phone it will politely ask you if you wish to continue the run from your watch. Nicely done, Nike. 

Also, if you are running this way and you pass a distance milestone (each half-mile in my setup) it will announce the distance through your headphones that are connected to the phone, but also do a little chime on the watch so that you know you are progressing. 

All-in-all this was a nice update from Nike and I haven’t seen any new problems from it. 

On Friday morning I followed along with my running plan and completed a sixteen mile run. 

To do this on a Friday morning met hitting the streets right around five AM so I could complete it and still get into work on time. The picture above shows the view from my front window. 

It was very cold at 8F (that’s including the windchill; 20F actual) but it was beautiful out. The full moon illuminated the streets perfectly and was enhanced by the snow fall from the previous day; so, while it wasn’t quite full daylight, it was very easy to see without a flashlight. 

To get to sixteen miles I had to make up a new route as all my usual runs of that distance would take in State Parks or Trails and they were all covered in five inches of snow. 

So I concocted a route on the roads of Trooper and Skippack that gave me the necessary distance. An out and back route that wound through some pleasant neighbourhoods and skirted along the side of the Evansburg State Park. 

I wasn’t fast but a steady 8:35 pace was pretty good for that early in the morning and being so  dry thoroughly wrapped up (this makes it harder to run). The route had quite a lot of rolling hills, hence the elevation number above. Notice that t also has my heart rate recorded! 

The rest of Friday was a struggle as I was tired and very hungry(rungry). I didn’t help myself as I was in such a rush to get the run started that I didn’t eat beforehand and I only took half a Clif bar with me; oops. I managed not to eat too much junk though. Honestly. 

Good Estimation

As I geared up to leav the house for my run this morning, my wife asked, “how far are you going to run?”. I thought about it and said, “somewhere between ten and twenty-four miles.”.

Looking back this seems like quite an odd statement for anyone to be able to make. My back has a slight kink in it currently after I fainted jumping out of bed on Friday morning (see the lovely black eye photo inserted below), but other than that I felt okay.  

 I ran twenty-two miles last Sunday but didn’t want to just run the same route and add a mile – that would be boring. So, I conjured up a new route that had me going out along a route I did a few weeks ago (8.5 miles), coming back in on the route I did last week (11 miles)… And the unknown bit in the middle joining the up would make up the difference. 

Turns out that my estimating skills are pretty darned good. Went I reached my driveway I’d clocked 24.3 miles. Nice. 

Running through Evansburg State Park, Skippack township, Perkiomen Trail, back through Evansburg State Park and then towards home. Very scenic. 

Everything feels fine although the last couple of miles consisted of a little more plodding that I would have liked. 

Now I’m doing this sort of distance in a training run where do I stop? Do I keep just adding 10% each week and see where it takes me? It is starting to chew up a lot of time on a Sunday morning…

Any way, now to each as much of anything I like. Need to reload with calories starting with the family bag of Twizzlers that I bought yesterday on the off chance I’d need them today. 🙂

Random Distance; Random Route. 

When I set out today for my long slow run I had no real plan for distance or route other than doing more than fifteen miles. I like days like these as it is good to not feel beholden to any particular plan. 

The temps were just below freezing at 29F and the sun was low in the Eastern sky as I topped the first hill and emerged into the orange hue of the morning light. 

I started along one my my regular routes out towards Skippack and eventually stumbled upon a new trail: Zacharia’s Trail. I’ve run parts of this out the other direction but I guess they must have extended it (or I just hadn’t noticed it before). 

The trail skirts a creek which looked beautiful in the early morning light. 

Eventually I came to a car park and saw that the trail continued across the road, so I kept heading in that direction… And half a mile later the trail just petered out with a six foot turning circle. Boo. I was enjoying that. 

 After backtracking to the car park I turned and headed up towards Skippack. 

I took a bathroom break at a Wa-wa and then decided to head off down a road I hadn’t been on before.  I was suitably far out that I had to resort to following route numbers to go back in the right general direction. 

A few miles down this road I came to a pedestrian crossing that I recognised from another trail run I do, so I took this and started heading back to civilisation. 

As I came through Evansburg State Park there were a couple of other runners in front of me (for a short time) as they were doing interval training. 

Then I caught sight of another with only three miles to home so I accelerated to try and race him a little. I know it is unfair to race someone when they don’t even know you are doing it, but I figured the 15 miles already under my belt were probably more than they had run that morning. 

I eventually caught and passed him. 

As I came into the last mile I chose to run the extra hilly route back just to finish off with a bit of a burn. 

All in all a nice nineteen mile run that was suitably random. I managed a clean negative split with an average pace of 7:49 overall at the end. 

Not bad seeing as I ran with only a special-k breakfast plus a clif mint choc bar and four shot blocks. 

As a bonus, this run actually pushed me over the final threshold of my company’s health care rewards plan (Virgin Pulse) earning me forty bucks (on top of the $60 I have already earned this year). What to spend the rewards on… Cake? Shoes? Both? 🙂


My musical entertainment today was a compilation of my own tracks from yesteryear; a blast from the past. Some mellow and some rock. A fun trip down memory lane. The picture above is of me and my best friend and co-writer/performer at the top of the Empire State Building, taken on a disposable film camera; those were the days. 

Off Into the Wild

Well, I guess it isn’t totally wild in the Philly suburbs around Audubon and Skippack, but it is a quiet rural area and sometimes it is nice to run without a plan. 

I knew that is wanted to hit around 15 miles and was comfortable with upto 18 so I just started at Evansburg State Park and headed off on a pseudo-random route around the area. 

I had the vague thought to run past my friends recording studio on the northern edge of Skippack and did eventually manage to do that at around mile 7 of my route. It took a while to find it as I was literally just picking small roads that looked like they went the right general direction. 

Once I had made that distance I had to try and get back. This is where running with technology is helpful. Out with google maps and a quick check of a route back to my car. 

Hmm, a hilly route through one of the little villages I’d riden through last year; Creamery, PA. It is a quaint village on the edge of Skippack. 

On the way I ran past an interesting new build so I stopped off to nose around the site. Great location as it is near Skippack but not near a main road. It always pays to be on the look out for interesting property. 

Once through Creamery I stumbled back onto a trail I had run a couple of months ago that leads back to the park. 

At mile 14.5 I chose again to go a different direction knowing that I was on the edge of the park and couldn’t go too far off track. 

A more technical dirt trail along the ridge above Skippack creek got me a small cut on the back of my left calf from a stick that entangled in my shoes, but the trail was very invigorating. Steping into a technical trail when your legs are tired is actually quite a fun way to wake yourself up again and engage with the run. You have to be very present to avoid tripping or twisting ankles. Great fun. 

The trail eventually put me back onto the main park road about half a mile from my car, so I ran back and finished.

16.1 miles @ 7:56 pace isn’t bad if you count the building site exploration, portapotty stop, and dirt trail. 

I saw and heard many beautiful things while I was out exploring. Sometimes it is good to have the confidence to go off your beaten paths and to try something new. 

Get out there and enjoy running the world. 

Cycling Vs Running

While I really enjoy the running, cycling truly makes me smile like a seven year old and I find myself smiling and giddy with excitement as I scream down a gravel trail on my road bike flirting with the edge of adhesion and a gravelly slide into oblivion.

One advantage of cycling is that you can cover significantly more distance on wheels and I could join lots of my favourite running routes together to make a good long ride.

Today I slept in and only had time for a quick forty two miler up the Perkiomen trail to Green Lane State Park which is where I stopped to have my lunch, with this wonderful vista:


Marathon Training Week 2: LSD 12 Miler

Well it was certainly slower than my last half-marathon race but still faster than the pace my training plan has targeted for me. 12 miles @ 8:41 pace. Not too bad. I found some pretty extra miles in the Skippack area today. Running by farms and lakes, and people that have to clean out their horses stables. All very idyllic.

Mapmyrun was bad again today. This time I had deleted the app, cleared the GPS cache and other location data, re-installed, then connected to my heartrate monitor. For the first four miles it wasn’t reading any distance at all. Then part way through it sprung into life. The GPS points are all a long way off though. I may have to concede and switch to an old backup iPhone for running. Boo.

Nike+ worked as solidly as ever. You’ve got to love a solution that robust.

My shoes are definitely wearing in a weird way again but not quite as quickly. I was trying to change my gait today to straighten my footfall but I don’t think it helped much.

The temps have plummeted to 24F actual with a feel of 18F, and when the wind blew it really did feel 18F. My chin froze after about mile four so I had to massage it every so often to bring some sensation back to it.

I took at water bottle with me and had two small drinks, plus I consumed two clif shot blocks at about mile eight.

It was a beautiful morning though and I saw a lovely red fox part way through. A lovely end to the second week of the training plan. Twenty-seven miles weekly total, forty-eight overall and nothing bad yet.

I wouldn’t want to miss out on running for anything!