Sunday, August 30, 2009

Back on the Best Bike

I got back on the new bike again today. I rode along West River Drive and the Schuykill Banks. It was over 12 miles total.

It was a nice steady and hard ride. I pedaled very consistently. I tried to work on some technique stuff such as pulling my feet up when pedaling instead of only pressing down. I think raising my seat would be a big help actually.

The only riders that blew by me this time were riding in groups. A bunch of solo women went by me, weren't a lot faster. Some older guy with sandals cruised by me pretty easily. That was kind of pathetic.

Hopefully I can keep finding ways to improve and ride better. Today wasn't bad, but I still have a ways to go on the bike.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Through the City

Today was the weekly long run. The way the program works is an increase in long run mileage for a few weeks than a decrease week. The run today was a decrease week seven miler. I decided I'd use to run the first seven miles of the marathon program.

I got up very early and was out and running just after 6 PM. I started on the Ben Franklin Parkway. I actually went down Race Street instead of Arch initially so that added some time to the run. It's a cool route by a lot of the historic and interesting parts of the city.

At 4th Street, I turned up and went to look for Race, but actually missed it and wound up going all the way to Callowhill before turning around and finding it. During that portion, I had to use the bathroom very bad. After walking briefly, that went away. I then proceeded to Delaware Avenue. It was weird seeing that road so desolate (because it was early in the morning).

After going up Front Street, I had to go to the bathroom again. Again, I walked it off, but this time strongly considered wandering over to Penn's Landing. Next was a quiet South Street. That was dirty and disgusting after I'm sure it was crowded on Friday night. Hopefully it's cleaned up better because it's really embarrassing and I can't believe it's a destination in this city.

After that, I ran up along Independence Hall. That was really cool. Then went down Chestnut all through center city. That passes Liberty Place among others. I finally I ended at Drexel on 32nd Street. It'll be cool to run through my old school during the route.

Running on sidewalks was tough, so it'll be nicer to have streets during the actually race. There were a lot of lights, but at least that early in the AM no cars are out yet so I wasn't slowed much. The route I ran was mostly flat, but it'll be so early on that I just want to get in a groove running it. I'll especially want to do so on the long stretches of Delaware Avenue and Chestnut Street. I won't run this route much more in my training so most of my training will be focused on the final ten miles and the much more familiar Kelly Drive out and back.

I actually went out so early that it was still dark when I started. Rain started coming down in the last couple miles, but it was never too hard. All in all, the weather was nice.

I didn't plan to push very hard to begin with in this run. Add in all the lights and bathroom issues and I was slowed even more. It wasn't quite junk miles, but I didn't feel too far off of it.

Tomorrow will be an early AM hour long bike ride. I think I might head home and run my three mid week routes there.

7.45 miles - 1:10.17 (9:26 pace)

Thursday, August 27, 2009


Today was a relatively easy run from Lloyd Hall to the Schuykill Banks loop and back. I also added in three repeats of the Art Museum steps. I planned on going a bit hard, but my body dictated otherwise.

I was sore and didn't feel smooth as I started off the run. All throughout, I felt rather sluggish. I felt like a cold was coming on before the run. That or my allergies are acting up after yesterday's run through the wilderness.

I still worked on keeping good form and not over doing. The way out wasn't bad, but on the way back things became more difficult. It's been a bit windy the last two days and today I encountered a head wind on the way back. That slowed me a bit and made me work harder. It was quite cool and felt like a fall day already.

Tomorrow is the usual off day with the long run on Saturday. This is the cut back week for the long run so it is only 7 miles. I might try to run some parts of the marathon course that I'm not used to. In other marathon related news, I'm now done reading my fourth book on running a marathon. I'll grab some more at the library too.

24:41 (8.04 pace - 3.06 miles)

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Covered Bridge

Today was a fun new run. This time, I drove to the north end of Forbidden Drive and ran about 5 miles. I ran by a lot of interesting things. I first passed the only covered bridge within major city limits in the US. There used to be a bunch of covered bridges in that area when there were mills there.

Forbidden Drive and just Fairmount Park in general have had some bad press lately. There were two rapes and a broken tree limb killed a jogger. That did bring my attention to Forbidden Drive though. It's an area where I had never ventured before and I'm now finding it quite fascinating.

I think the parking lot that I started at is where one of the rapes occurred. It's odd because there were a lot of people in that area and it's pretty far from the main part of the city. The terrain on the drive is light gravel to some rougher gravel.

I planned on taking it easy today and just enjoying the run. That was good because my legs didn't have much in them. They really felt dead. Even though it's better to run on a softer surface, I think it bothers my legs and they don't adjust well. They haven't felt like this since I ran the gravel track workout in June.

I continued on though. The area is a little hilly, but overall relatively flat actually. The plan was to run for 42 minutes, since the distances aren't marked there. I decided to run out for 25 minutes before turning around, thus allowing me to walk to cool down at the end.

It was really neat running along the river. I came across the Valley Green Inn. It is a restaurant on the trail that is open for lunch and dinner. There's a nearby parking lot for runners and walkers there too. It was actually quite busy. A lot of high school teams were using the trail and off shoot trails to train.

I came across a makeshift memorial where the girl was killed by the tree branch. It didn't actually dawn on me until I passed it though. I feel like I should leave something next time. She was running with headphones and apparently never heard the branch fall. I never like wearing headphones. Not only do I want to be aware of my surroundings, but I want to take in the sounds of nature too. That's part of the experience of the run.

I didn't quite make it to where I had some when running from the south last week. I wonder how close I was. Eventually, I'll run the entire route. I think I might keep this to mid week runs. It's a nice break up in the middle of the regular Kelly Drive or West River Drive runs on Tuesday and Thursday.

I actually finished pretty strong. That was good. I have been a little concerned because the last two days, I've felt lightheaded at times. It hit me before yesterday's run, but didn't bother me during or after the run. It wasn't until walking around later in the day that I had trouble. I felt lightheaded at times this morning too. If it starts to really become a problem, I'll cut out some training.

I still feel good, although the trail runs seem to be making me quite sore. I'm looking forward to another short run tomorrow. I will probably add the Art Museum steps to the end of the run too. I need to get stronger on hills.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Bright and Early

I think this is the earliest I've got up and ran thus far. I was up at 5:30 AM and off an running by 6:30. I finished just before 7. It's kind of amazing. I never thought I'd be able to get up this early, let alone run too.

Today was an easy 3 mile run (technically 2.9 miles) on the typical West River Drive out and back. Once again, I struggled with the bathroom issue. This time though, I started running and made it through. It was actually quite amazing how cold it is that early in the morning too.

I ran out fairly easy and felt pretty good. I worked on nice form and breathing out instead of in. Once I turned around, I really started to push it as I headed for home. I finished with a much faster out than back. That was great because that used to be an area I was struggling with earlier this summer. I felt like I was about to cramp up and instead of backing off, I pushed even harder. I didn't use my strong finishing kick, but came through the line pretty strong.

Tomorrow is a 5 mile run. I think I'll head up to the other end of Forbidden Drive and run the rest of the route. I'm curious to see what the Green Valley Inn looks like. Hopefully I get there and also get to see the covered bridge. It's an exciting new area to explore. I'm not crazy about the fact that I have to drive out there, but I'll do alright. I'll be going for another 5:30 wake up then too.

22:32 (7:46 pace)

Monday, August 24, 2009

Full of Air

Yesterday was the weekly hour long bike ride. This time, I actually remembered to fill my tires with air. It made for a much better ride. I do need to adjust my seat even higher though. I rode along West River Drive (since it's closed) and back. I added in the Schuykill Banks loop as well.

The ride was outstanding. I got into a nice groove and rode a consistent pace the whole time out. Of course, I still had rider after rider blow by me. What bothers me most about that is that it's all types of riders. Some of the ones with their fancy gear are often chatting it up and they look like they're on an easy ride. An old guy that didn't look like a rider blew by me too. Luckily, I didn't get passed by any families with small children. At least I'm not that slow.

I really need to learn how to ride properly. I'm getting my good bike back this week and that'll be a big boost. I still need to improve my technique though. I'm pretty good and consistent on flats, but I just don't have a feel on when to change gears and go up and down hills. Obviously, it's too late once you're on the hill and that's often when I get stuck.

I'm hoping to get to the library today to pick up some books on running. I definitely need to find a cycling one as well to get some tips. I'm not looking to be a serious rider, but I want to know what some of the basic things that I'm doing wrong are and how I can improve upon them.

Since my workouts seem fairly easy thus far and I have all this free time, I'm considering adding a short and relatively easy half hour or so ride in the evenings too. I think I'd only do it twice a week at best. It would just be something to build up strength and endurance without stress being put on my legs.

This week is actually a week where I cut back. Tomorrow will be a three mile run to open the week. Following that is a 7 mile run at the conclusion of the week.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Double Digits

Today was my long run for the week. I ran 10 miles. It was the first time I ran double digit miles since 2000. That feels very good, although pretty sore right now.

It was certainly a very eventful run. First off, I didn't feel good on Thursday night so I slept a lot that night and on into Friday. That gave me trouble when it came to sleeping last night. Add on to that that we had thunderstorms for over 2 hours and I was up most of the night. I set my alarm back another hour, but still only slept 5 hours at best.

My biggest worry was that the storms would continue. They are supposed to be off and on throughout today. When I woke, it was wet, but not rainy so I headed on out the door.

I decided to do the loop plus about a mile and a half extension. It was only a slight drizzle, but there was still plenty of rain coming off the trees. Initially, I was unsure whether to go with old shoes or new shoes for this long run, but the rain made that decision easy. I stuck with the old shoes.

It really is amazing the difference in shoes. These felt really loose and like they had no support. At the end, my feet were sore and I had blisters. I think it'll be the last day in these shoes, unless I do some trail runs.

I started the run off quite fast. Through the first three miles, I was running fairly close to my 5K pace. I knew I had to slow a little. I ran with a hat on, but quickly tied it to my shorts because it was making me hotter.

I ran the loop the opposite way this time. I really don't like the West River Drive portion. A lot it looks the same with fewer distinctive marks, especially around Falls Bridge. I don't feel like I ever know where I am when I'm on that. So I decided to knock that part out first. I actually ran fairly hard once I got near the bridge.

During the second half of the run, the rain really started to pick up. That's just the way I like it. I've always loved running in the rain. It was just sort of a tough guy kind of thing and it causes me to run better. I'm like, "you are out here in these horrible conditions. Might as well go hard. You are already proving you are tough. Take it to another level" I did throw the hat back on to keep the water out of my eyes during the heavier rain.

I might've went too hard during this run. I was kind of hoping I could do it in an 8 minute pace. That was really a stupid idea. I rotated fast pace and slower pace within the run. I really like doing that and it should prepare me for the big races.

As I got near the final two miles (by the crew stands) a guy passed me. It actually worked out perfectly. He was going faster than me, but not by too much. I picked up the pace and worked hard to stay with him. I was able to do so for about a full mile and a half. That was a great challenge and something I need a little more of.

I finally lost it in the last half mile. I had nothing left and my legs died. Two people really blew by me, although I suspect they were on a short run because of their speed. I still had a kick at the end though so I managed to sprint hard and pass another guy.

One of the nice things about the long runs, is that you really get time to think about things and especially how you are running. I notice that I'm working too hard with my right side. That shoe has worn out a lot more and my right arm often gets tired on long runs. I need to do more with my left side, not just drag myself along.

I'd be lying if I said I was happy with my speed right now. I just still struggle to accept that I'm nowhere near the runner I used to be. I know he's in there somewhere though. The thing is that I can't undo 9 years of no running and almost complete inactivity within a couple months. I know that, but I still can't accept that. Maybe it's a good thing and it'll keep pushing me on.

The guy at the end of the run showed me what I'm capable of. If I pushed like that too often though, I'd probably get injured. I need to find a nice balance. I'm really glad I haven't joined a running club yet. That'll help me get to the next level and beyond, but realistically I'm not ready for it. I need to take this one step at a time.

I feel like I should be running more, since I have the energy and the free time right now. I guess I'll just keep taking it easy. While this marathon is a few month process, I plan on running for years to come now, so I have plenty of time to catch up later and run faster times. Even though the progress isn't as fast as I'd like, I've still come a long way in last then a few months. I remember back in the winter, I tried to run home from church one day. I was burned out and quit after about half a mile. Now, I'm doing ten miles without trouble. I have to appreciate that more.

Yesterday, I signed up for the Lancaster Half Marathon. I'm really looking forward to running through Amish country. The downside is that all these races can get expensive and I'm not exactly rolling in money now.

I put up my running ladder of all my training runs on my bedroom wall. I've come pretty far, but I sure have a long way to go until the marathon. It's already been such a rewarding process though.

Tomorrow, will be a day of cross training. I'll hop on the bike for an hour. I have to remember to put some air in my tires this time before heading out this time.

83:16 ( 8:20 pace)

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Fast and Slow

Today I ran three miles. I started on Boathouse Row and ran the Schuykill Banks loop back to Lloyd Hall. I didn't get out there until almost 9 AM and by then it was very hot.

I wanted to work on my pace some so I decided to do a tempo run of sorts. I ran hard for about a quarter to half mile on two occasions, once on the way out and twice on the way back. It was good to get up some speed and I didn't struggle too much in between. I think it actually helps me go faster during the slower part of the run too.

After my first fast segment on the way back, I caught up to a cute girl. Naturally, that helped me run faster. I eventually blew by her. Some of the short hills were tough after that, but I still pressed on through them.

It was a good run and also a good first week in my new shoes. I've had some minor soreness, but no real problems. I'm still undecided though if I should use them for my long run on Saturday. I think I probably will. I plan on doing a 10 miler then after a rest day tomorrow. The run will likely consist of the loop plus some add ons.

After all my runs this week, I've been using the ab roller to strength my abs and try to trim down. By today, I was quite sore in that area. I'm not sure if it's from the exercise or some food I ate, but I'm getting stomach cramps now. It is most likely just from the food.


Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Forbidden Drive

I'm starting to get a little tired of the same old routes. Therefore, today I decided to drive up to Forbidden Drive and go for a run there. Since I was unsure of the distance, I just ended up running for 45 minutes. It didn't start well as I had to go to the bathroom again right before the run. Luckily, I found a portable bathroom and used it even though it wasn't in the best condition. I need to get this bathroom situation timed out better. Maybe I have to wake up earlier.

I started at Lincoln Drive near Main Street Manayuak. That portion of the path is hilly and paved. The start was actually very rough as it was all up hill. After going over a couple wooden bridges, which don't feel very secure, I entered the actual Forbidden Drive. It was once a road along the Wissahickon Creek, but it's been closed to traffic for a long time. It's nice and wide just like a road and makes for a fine path to run on.

There were a lot of bikers and walkers on there too. Trees cover the entire path so it's nice and shady on a very hot morning. Most of the road was relatively flat. I went the wrong way a couple times onto some other paths. There are horse, bike and hiking trails that off shoot the drive all throughout.

The one path was pretty nice, but I figured it could get muddy, (because it rained last night) so I went back to the main road. Just before turning around, I saw a nice uphill path. I decided to run part way up the hill and back down. The hills defintely gave me a nice workout and I'm quite sore as I write this.

When I got back on the drive, I returned to the car by following my original path. I hadn't even realized how steep the one incline was because I was enjoying the scenery so much when I ran up it. I felt pretty good throughout the run. I didn't push too hard, opting instead to focus on better strides and breathing.

It got a little difficult when I got back the Lincoln Drive portion. That has a lot of shade, but not as many trees as the actual drive. It also was a lot more hilly. I have to check on shoes. I'm not sure I should be running too often with my good shoes on trails. The drive itself is a pretty smooth gravel path. The trails coming off of it look intriguing and I'd like to explore them in the future. I might have to get new shoes for that.

This is definitely a great location and I look forward to going back. The main trail runs about 5 miles and I want to see the rest of it. It'll be good on long runs. Maybe I'll try it again this weekend. It's a beautiful path that reminds me of some of the nature areas which I can run in back home. It's really hard to believe that Forbidden Drive is actually located in the city. I'm glad I'm starting to find more unexplored areas of Fairmount Park.

Tomorrow is another easy 3 mile run. Things will get interesting once these shorter runs start hitting 5 miles or so. I think I'm going to go down and run the Schuykill Banks route. I haven't done that in awhile.

Speaking of Schuykill Banks, they have a nice concrete wall that they've recently poured at the entrance to that portion. I sure hope that the graffitti jerks don't get to it. They already ruined a wall on stairs right near there. That was the only shame of the Lincoln Drive portion of today's route. There was graffitti at a bunch of locations. It really ruins the nice atmosphere of the place. It's one thing if these thugs want to destroy their already run down neighborhoods, but why can't they leave nice areas alone. I'd love to throw them in the creek!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

New Shoes

Today was my first run in my new shoes. I ran a short three mile route. I've been getting a little tired of the same routes, so I added Lemon Hill in with Kelly Drive. That made for some challenging hills as well.

I didn't run all that hard. We're in the middle of a heat wave and even at 7 AM it was quite humid. It wasn't unbearable, but certainly not comfortable either. I didn't encounter any problems with the shoes. Everything went pretty well.

I didn't feel very strong, so I elected not to push it at the end. Right at the end of Kelly Drive, two women blew by me. I hope they were doing a tempo run or something because they sure were fast. One of them really surprised me too because she passed me on the right.

I was hoping to run on the beach tomorrow. I found out AC is having some type of airshow. I don't want to have to deal with any extra traffic. I think I'm going to opt for heading out to Forbidden Drive to run my 5 miles. That's an area I've been wanting to run for awhile anyways.

There is a lot more to Fairmount Park than just the river drives and I have to start utilizing other routes. That was one of the issues I had in the past, I often got bored of the same routes. Forbidden Drive should have a lot of shade too so that'll be a big plus. I'm not sure about mileage out there so I'll probably just run for like 42 minutes or so.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Back in the Loop

This weekend consisted of the longest run to date and a short bike ride. On Saturday morning, I ran 9 miles. It's the first time I ran the Schuykill River loop in years. I add on another short portion too.

It ended up being an adventurous run. I got up very early and was ready to run by 630 AM. However, as I was about to start I had to go to the bathroom. The bathroom near Lloyd Hall was locked. I then decided to walk up to Lemon Hill. There were two portable bathrooms there. One was locked and the other too disgusting to use. I found a third one, but it was behind a fence and not accessible. I finally went back to Lloyd Hall and by this time it was open. Of course, I had to wait in line to go too.

Since I was doing such a long run, I really wanted to get out there early. Obviously the above issue caused that plan to back fire. I ended up losing about 30 minutes and it was hotter when I started and finished.

The heat still wasn't too bad and the sun was low enough that I got a lot of shade. As I hit Falls Bridge, I was wondering how I would be able to finish since I was already tiring. I actually got into a nice rhythm though and it wasn't too difficult. It's speed, not distance that causes me problems when running.

I finished at a decent pace of under 8:30 per mile. I didn't push myself too much. I did try to concentrate on my stride and breathing whenever I noticed I was getting tired. My feet were very sore and I actually had to ice them some that evening. Good thing I'll be switching shoes soon.

Sunday, I got on the old bike and rode. I didn't bother to fill my back tire up before going out, so it was very flat. Two people passing me on bikes actually stopped to inform me of this. I had already noticed though because I was traveling at such a slow pace. A women who was rollerblading actually pulled away from me. I turned around shortly after twenty minutes and thus rode for a little over forty rather than the scheduled full hour.

Today was a rest day. Tomorrow will be my first day trying out the new shoes. I bought the exact same shoes as my last pair. I'm going to incorporate Lemon Hill into my three mile run. Wednesday is a five mile run and I'm actually considering running along the beach, possibly in Atlantic City. We shall see.

I'm starting to make a decent in my training, but I still have a long way to go. I created a spreadsheet with each training run and race as a step and the marathon being the top step. I'm hoping to hang that on my wall this week. It's a good way to track my progress and keep myself going.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Catching Up

I've been getting behind on the writing lately. Luckily, I haven't slacked off in the running department. Since last time I wrote, I now officially signed up for the Philadelphia Marathon. I haven't missed a training run since before the NJMP 10K.

This past weekend, I ran the Blue Eagle 5K, right behind my parents house. I have run over parts of the course many times. Although I didn't quite follow the course correctly, I did run it twice last week before the race. Last Tuesday, I ran hard and went just under 23 minutes. On Thursday, I tried to take it easier, but actually ended up running only a minute slower.

The race itself was somewhat disappointing. I really felt that I could get into 21 minutes and possibly 20 minutes if I ran very well. Instead, I wound up with a 22.42. That was good enough to get an award, but only because there were few others in my age group. I actually finished 4 minutes behind the guy in front of me in my age group.

I went out strong and felt great. One nice thing is that it was a very competitive field (unlike my first two races). Since it supported the HS teams, there were a lot of young runners participating. The first mile felt great, but I knew I was in trouble when she read off my time as 6:36. I forgot to start my watch at the beginning, so my time was off.

That first mile felt comfortable, but I knew it was just too fast. I was really hoping to go out around 7 minutes, not that far under. The second mile was rough and I got side stitches. I thought getting a drink at the water station would help, but it actually got worse for awhile. It wasn't that hot, but still hot enough.

I was at least able to break this one guy who was working really hard to try to stay with me. He was nowhere in sight by the finish. I also had a great kick at the end and blew by one lady. I clearly went out too fast though and really paid for it at the end.

Hopefully one of these days, I'll have a good race. All three thus far have been terrible on my road back. I'm really prepping for long distances though so these fast 5Ks aren't concerning me too much, especially without doing speed sessions.

That evening, I decided to run two more quick miles to get to the scheduled 5 for the day. Since I wasn't worn out from the race, I figured this was a reasonable option. I ran the actually course again on Tuesday, but this time took it nice and easy.

Today, I got back to Philly. I ran along the river for the first time since arriving at my new place. I went out right to the stands and back for a 4 mile route. It started off cloudy, but started to get sunny and humid as I finished up.

I started around 8 AM and there were a lot of people out at that time, particularly women. I passed three of them who were slow. It was good though because it naturally forced me to push harder. I turned around right before getting to a male runner. I continued to work hard to keep him in front of me and I did so. I finished strong.

I am still concerned that I'm wearing down too much. I'm not finishing runs anywhere near as strong as I start them. This is the case even for these shorter 3 and 4 mile runs. I figured that as I added mileage, these would get easier. They are, but not as much as I would've thought. I still don't have quite the finishing stamina that I would like.

I bought a new pair of shoes. They are the same ones that I have now. I'm breaking them in with some walking and next week, I'll probably add them to my shorter runs. After that, I'll start using them full time. My shoes seem pretty worn already. It is probably because I wear them everywhere, not just to run.

Tomorrow is another short 3 mile run. I haven't decided the route yet. Saturday is a 9 mile run which I am very eager for. It will be my first time running the Schuykill loop in years. That is actually 8.4 miles so I have to add on a little bit. I'll get up nice and early for that run too.

I might not be making quite as much progress as I hoped, but I'm still improving daily. It just isn't coming to me as easily as it did back when I first started running. Although, I've hit a little rut lately, I still feel very good and positive. I'm definitely still focused.