Saturday, October 31, 2009

Longest Run

Today was the big day (well the one other than the marathon anyways). It was the 20 mile run, the longest prior to the marathon and my new longest run ever. Oh, and of course it was raining. What would a Saturday long run be without the raindrops.

I saw that the forecast said it was cloudy in the morning with rain in the afternoon. Of course it rained a lot during the run. Most of the time it was just an annoying mist, but sometimes it came down at a good clip.

I started off nice and slowly. An attractive female runner passed me early on. She had a nice pace going, so I tucked in behind her and took it easy early on. That was a big help in the early stages.

The fuel belt was bothering me during that part of the run. I filled it completely this time and it was really heavy early on. After awhile, it's not too bad because you get used to it and plus it weighs less after you drink some fluid. It does put quite the strain on your body though. The first 5 miles felt like 10 miles without the belt.

After about two miles, I decided that I was probably getting annoying being right on the girl's heels. I picked up the pace and passed her. I would've been better off staying behind for another mile or so.

Just like last week, when I hit mile 6, I was already feeling it. My legs were pretty sore, although I think running on the soft track the other day helped them recover. I was wondering how I'd finish. The back half of the first loop seemed like forever. I never enjoy the West River Drive portion of runs. Everything is too much alike. Key markers are hard to find.

Initially, I was going to run two loops and then run to the grandstand and back to complete the 20 miles. After the first loop, I was feeling kind of tired and sore, but I was in a good rhythm. I decided it would be easier both physically and mentally to do the out and back to the grandstands in between each loop. That way, I'd have to finish 20 miles to get back home.

That strategy worked well and when I got back to Lloyd Hall, I decided to take and quick bathroom break and do some stretching. I spent about 5 minutes total doing both. I think that was quite helpful.

On the second loop, I just took it short segment by short segment at a time. There were markings every quarter mile that said how far it was back to Lloyd Hall. That was kind of maddening early in the loop, but as I got closer to the finish, it was a huge relief.

Just trying to make it to Falls Bridge was a huge goal. West River Drive was lonely during the 2nd loop. I did pass quite a few runners multiple times. I'm betting a lot of them were on their long runs too.

On the way back, I just focused on the usual landmarks. First it was the Strawberry Mansion Bridge. Then came the grandstands, followed by the Girard Avenue Bridge and finally the start of Boathouse Row.

I was very sore from miles 16 on. As I got further and further though, it was rewarding knowing that only once I went farther in my whole life. Even as slow as I was going, I actually still passed a few runners. At one point, I decided to pick up the pace. That works wonder for your muscles. You wouldn't think that running faster after 16 or 17 miles would help, but impacting the ground in a different way is a huge plus.

I was quite sore, but my energy wasn't too low. I ran out of liquid at the end. I brought three GU gels this time, but unfortunately, I dropped one out of my fuel belt. I still felt that I could've pushed harder at the end though, if needed.

After finishing the run, I did longer stretches than usual. My legs are still very sore though. I can't imagine what they'll be like after marathon day.

I tried to take an ice bath after I was done watching a football game. I put in too much water and didn't have enough ice though. It just ended up being a cool bath. It still might've helped some.

Finishing this run was a huge relief. A few weeks back, I was riding my bike and nursing my sore leg. I was unsure if I could get to this point, let alone complete the marathon. Now, I know I can do both. This was huge, both mentally and physically. I'm really looking forward to the taper period now.

If I can get up tomorrow morning before the Eagles and Giants game, I'm going to bike for an hour. It might be tough to do with the World Series on tonight as well. If I need to, I'll ride during the Packers and Vikings game. Hopefully, I won't forget this time though.

20 miles - 3:02:49 (9:08 pace)

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Running in Circles

I stepped out the door this morning and realized that my legs were still quite sore. Instead of running some tough hills and on the pavement around my parents house, I decided to head to the track later. That also allowed a few more hours for my legs to rest.

I headed to my old high school's new track. It's really nice and an all weather track. It's located next to the new middle school. This is the second new middle school that they've build since I was in middle school 15 years ago.

I ran 5 miles around the track. I reversed directions after every mile, to be easier on my legs. The soreness that my legs are experiencing right now, makes for a slow and awkward start. The first lap took 2:30. Following that, most of my laps were about 2:00.

I felt pretty good once warming up. I ran very well in miles two and three before tailing off towards the end. At least I had some company. A little girl, who looked to be about 8, must've run 3 or 4 laps. That was pretty impressive.

Running in circles for 20 times was maddening. It was very difficult to go over and over again. I tried to just take it one lap at a time. I'd much rather run on the road and over an ever changing course.

I had chafing issues the other day and they crept up again. I took my shirt off and that was a big relief. It was cool by the end of the run though. It was also dark.

My marathon training is nearing a close and I'm already thinking a lot about the future after that. I can't wait to pump my training up even more, with speedwork and more miles. I'm happy with where I am and where I've come from, but I've only just begun.

The big part of the marathon isn't so much finishing the race as it is committing to the training. I haven't missed a single run to laziness. I only stopped running when I felt an injury coming on. When I ran my first half marathon, the opposite was true. I was incredibly lazy back then and often missed runs for no reason.

I am still focused on the long run this week. It'll be a 20 miler around the river loop a couple times. The training will be all downhill from there. I wish I wasn't so sore going into it.

5 miles - 41:15 (8:15 pace)

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head

Another run, another rain storm. I can't remember the last time I saw the sun during a run. Okay, it was actually last week. I ran the loop, starting at Lloyd Hall and running along Kelly Drive, plus an add on. The whole route was 10 miles.

For the first half mile to mile, I was very slow. My hip was still really stiff. I ran in the morning after running in the afternoon on Tuesday. Additional rest probably would've helped. It really took quite awhile for me to forget about my hip. I even stopped for a bathroom break and it was weird starting up again.

Once I felt better, I ran pretty hard for selected segments. Changes paces has really helped me work my muscles differently. After the sluggish first few miles, I was wondering how I'd ever finish. Luckily, I just stay focused on the short term and getting to different landmarks just up the road. Sometimes, I'll look across the ride and think about how great it'll be to get there in a few minutes. That makes it much more rewarding when I do arrive on that side.

The rain was very light on Kelly Drive, but started to pick up once I got on West River Drive. Combined with the leaves that have now fallen, conditions were a little tricky. There were a bunch of markers every quarter mile along the route and they aligned almost perfectly with my mileage. That was both a blessing and frustrating.

I kept changing paces along West River Drive. I tried at one point to run hard during one segment. I didn't make it as far as I was hoping though. My calf started feeling funny, so I backed off. I probably ran too hard, as I had little gas in the tank for the finish.

I did have energy, but my legs didn't recover from the day before or the weekend's long run. They became very sore and really slowed me down at the end. I felt like I was crawling for the final 20 minutes. I tried to pick it up towards the end, but my legs just wouldn't respond.

It was great to finish though and I just need to battle through this week. Things will get easier after that. This is the most mileage of my training.

I came back to my parents house to watch the D11 and D1 cross country meets at Lehigh. I'll do my 5 mile run here tomorrow morning. I need to find a relatively easy route with minimal hills. I'm a little beat up right now, but 15 miles are now down and only 25 more to go this week.

10 miles - 1:23:59 (8:24 pace)

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Gutting it Out

Well today wasn't a pretty day. What I ate the night before (probably popcorn) didn't agree with me. I had stomach cramps and wound up in the bathroom a lot. I felt so bad that I didn't even eat lunch. I slept from 1 PM to 3:30 PM.

I had to tough it out though. I got out of bed and finished my five mile, even when feeling in such awful condition. I grabbed a gel and some Gatorade and headed out to run.

Once again, it was more miserable, rainy weather. I guess it's my fault for saying how I like running in the rain. I'm getting really sick of it though. I like the warm summer rain, but this stuff sucks.

Once again, I went out overdressed. I wore a hat and my light jacket over a T-shirt. I still threw on shorts at least. I was quite hot throughout the run though.

I decided to start at Lloyd Hall and then run a mile out and back along Kelly Drive. Following that I ran the Schuykill Banks loop for the five mile total. Breaking the run into two short loops made it much easier.

I felt very good on the first loop and really started to fly. I caught a girl just before the turnaround. I decided to continue to really push myself and run hard until Lloyd Hall. I then slowed until the Schuykill Banks part flattened out. Right before that, I was passed by a fast runner, but decided not to go with him.

I then ran hard through the turaround on the Schuykill Banks loop. I just missed passing another girl that was going pretty fast. She turned off at the end of the path though. I continued to run hard until my watch hit the 30 minute mark. After that, I slowed and cruised to the finish for a cooldown.

While I was able to run at a fast pace, my legs were still sore from the long run the other day. The 16.5 miles really gave them a pounding. They just didn't have any zip in them. Now is the biggest week of training though, so it's not the time to worry about them. I'll be cutting back once this week is done.

Tomorrow, is a 10 mile run. I'll likely run the loop, plus a short add on. Sticking to the flat portions of the trail on both sides of the river has been a big help lately. I'm feeling as good as I have in awhile and I'm very confident.

5 miles - 40:28 (8:06 pace)

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Windy Biking

Today was my weekly hour of cross training, which I've actually skipped a lot lately. I did the usual bike ride to Falls Bridge and back. I pedaled in a low gear the whole time.

The temperature was in the low 60s, so I figured I'd just wear a long sleeve T-shirt and shorts. That was a huge mistake. The winds along the river were extreme. It was very cold and uncomfortable.

I was going to ride along West River Drive. There was huge walk when I got there though. Instead, I rode to Lloyd Hall and along Kelly Drive. The regatta was going on for a second straight day.

I rode along the close roadway where possible. I thought about turning around, but figured that it would only be windy on the way out and if I could just make it to the bridge, I'd be fine. It turns out that it was actually worse going the other direction. I was really freezing, but made it back home.

It was a good ride, other than the conditions. My quads were a little sore from yesterday, but not too bad. Overall, I recovered pretty well from my second longest run ever on Saturday. My biggest running week ever is coming up and I can't wait. It consists of a 20 mile long run and 40 miles of running total.

I had a text conversation with my friend Bridget today. She was asking about my running. Jokingly, I said, "now I have to get you running." She said she hates running, but would like to run a 5K sometime. I told her that I'll train her and run with her in the spring (since I know she won't run in the winter).

I've been eager to help friends that have started running, take their workouts to another level. Some people have said maybe, but none have really committed to it. I'd love to be able to get Bridget to the 5K distance and I'd run with her in the race too. She lives fairly close to Valley Forge Park and I've wanted to run there too. I think helping others with their running would be even more rewarding than improving my own running.

I'm not sure exactly what I'm going to run on Tuesday. I have to run 5 miles. I think I'll do an out and back on West River Drive. I'd like to make it a morning run, but we'll have to see because the Eagles play tomorrow night.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Back in the Green

On my marathon training schedule, I color in green for days that are successful completed. I haven't had a full green week since the week before the Lancaster Half Marathon. This week, I completed all of my runs. It has been a big boost. Technically, I still have to complete my cross training bike ride tomorrow though.

I felt great today so I actually ran about 16.5 miles instead of the scheduled 14 miles. I nearly did two full Falls Bridge loops. The weather was rainy, but what else is new for my long runs. It seems like it is always raining. I do like running in the rain, but it would be nice to get a clear day for the long run every now and then.

I started at Lloyd Hall since I had to make a stop at the bathroom. I ran along Kelly Drive after some good stretching. I ran pretty hard early on. I made sure to change paces throughout most of the first half of the run. That was a big help.

Early on, I felt hot and thought that wearing my special T-shirt with the fuel belt would be a big problem. As the rain fell harder, it did an excellent job of wicking away the rain water. The rain was in my face for most of the way back on the loop.

I'm starting to get used to the fuel belt, but I still don't really like it. Even with the bottles only half full, it is heavy. Because I ran so much longer than expected, I actually ran out of Gatorade and gels. It really didn't bother me though.

There was a high school regatta that was a pain to get by. Most people are considerate, but some just don't pay any attention and it becomes a real pain. It seems like there's always a regatta of some kind. I'm just glad I didn't drive down there, as I was considering doing.

There was also another charity walk on West River Drive. It wasn't as packed as the other week though and the participants didn't get in the way. They even offered me water at the water stop at one point. I was out of fluid and should've actually taken it.

Right as I was finishing my first loop I saw a guy in a hat partly blocking my path. I thought to myself, "what's wrong with this jerk. Pay attention." When his face came up from under the baseball cap, I realized it was Mayor Michael Nutter. I'm glad I didn't make a smartass comment.

When I got to Lloyd Hall, I turned around and ran the opposite direction for the second loop. Shortly after starting that loop, I came across one of the Drexel women's coaches. I should've just turned around and ran with her for a bit.

I kept going on West River Drive. I was getting tired and had to slow down. The road was closed on that portion, so I ran on it. One part is kind of tough because it slopes a lot. I started thinking about some other things rather than my aching body and that was a big help getting through the second loop.

On the way back, I wanted to just go to the Strawberry Mansion Bridge on Kelly Drive, but I realized that would make for a long walk back home. That was all that kept me going as far as I did beyond the 13 miles. Eventually I made it past there and ran the grandstands.

I really should've stopped at the grandstand and grabbed some water. Instead, I ran along, trying to get to Lloyd Hall. My left calf starting getting tight and I decided to stop running about 3/10th of a mile from Lloyd Hall.

As I walked back, it started raining hard. I was very sore, especially my feet. I had to stop a couple times to rest on the walk home. I did stretch very well again afterwards. That seemed to be a big help as I'm not too sore right now.

I've been behind schedule for quite awhile now. This successful week has been a key big boost for me. Just a week ago, I was wondering if I'd even be able to run the marathon. Now, I'm confident I can. It is still a little overwhelming to think that I'll run 10 more miles than today. It'll help to not being wearing a fuel belt and also I'll be running with a crowd then.

Tomorrow, will be another hour bike ride early in the morning. I'm really looking forward to the marathon now and especially this next week of training. My long run is a big focus right now. I need to complete the 20 mile run. There's still quite a few runs after that, but it gets easy as I taper before the marathon.

16.46 miles - 2:23:02 (8:41 pace)

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Making the Most of It

Today was sure an interesting day. I planned on running on Temple's track. Once again, the token machine tricked me. I put in 6 dollars and wound up getting a bunch of change plus tokens. When I got to the track, I found it was closed. That meant I had to change things up. I decided to starting running back towards my place.

I ran down Broad Street all the way to Callowhill. It was kind of weird running through a ghetto area. Running on sidewalks was the weird part though. After going along Callowhill, I ran to the Art Museum and then along Kelly Drive for about a mile. I turned around and finished up at the Art Museum.

It was very hot once again. The heat got to me a little, but it wasn't too bad. My legs felt pretty good, but I had a nice blister. I ran with two handfuls of change from the token machine and that wasn't very comfortable.

I bought orthodics yesterday, but after experimenting with them, I elected not to use them. I was wondering why putting the old insole in felt funny on my right shoe. I loosened my shoe and it then fit better. When I got home, I realized that the orthodic was still in place in that shoe. I might try to use those now.

I didn't quite go the full 5 miles, but I ran well over 5 miles on Tuesday. The run wasn't very fast, but I was thrilled to complete it. I'm happy to have made it through this week successfully thus far. The 14 mile run on Saturday will be a big test. Today is one month from the marathon!

4.58 miles - 42:42 (9:19 pace)

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Defeat the Heat

Once again, today was the best run in awhile. I ran the loop plus from Lloyd Hall to the Art Museum. That was the full scheduled 9 miles. I haven't run that far since the half marathon at the beginning of the month.

It was extremely hot and that had me a little worried. It was in the low 70s, after being in the mid 40s a week ago. I did drink before the run, but probably should've taken in more.

I started off slow, but picked up the tempo after a few minutes. I changed tempos throughout the run and that was a big help. I ran hard from about the grandstand to the Strawberry Mansion Bridge along Kelly Drive.

I then went slow for awhile. I picked the pace up again at the 44 minute mark on the way back. I made it a point to run hard for 10 minutes. By that time, I was at the Girard Avenue Bridge on West River Drive.

I cruised from that point on. A guy passed me, but he was going to quickly to try to hang onto. The change of paces was a big help. My legs felt good all throughout.

I did get side stitches. That's something I used to have problems with, but it hasn't been an issue much since I started running again. I think it was from eating hot dogs for lunch an hour and a half before the run. I also took a GU Energy Gel and I'm sure that didn't help.

The side stitches weren't a big issue until the cool down. I could barely run as I finished the loop and made it Lloyd Hall. I took a drink there and made it back to the Art Museum.

I was so thrilled to complete the run. I wasn't sure if I would be able to, especially after not feeling so great early on. I did have some chafing under my arm and a blood blister on my foot, but I survived.

My goal when I started running was to lose 25 lbs and get down from 180 to 155. Even though it wasn't my normal weight, I did hit 155 when I weighed myself after the run. I'm getting closer and closer to 155 being my actual weight. I still want to drop another 10 or 15 lbs though.

I'm very happy with my progress this week. I still don't feel too strong, but I've been able to complete my training runs for the first time in awhile. Hopefully that'll continue the rest of the week. I bought some orthodics today, but not sure if I'll use them now. My leg is still sore, but it's not a big problem. The stretching is really helping.

Tomorrow, I have a 5 mile run scheduled. I'll probably run an out and back along West River Drive. I'm holding out hope that I can finish the long run this Saturday.

9 miles - 1:16:02 (8:27 pace)

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Speeding Up Again

Today was one of the best runs that I've had it weeks. I ran over the 5 mile route with little trouble. I've been going slowly lately to be cautious. Today, I decided to push myself some more.

I think going slowly was stressing my muscles differently and causing all sorts of new pain. My hip and leg got a little sore towards the end, but it was minor. Stretching before and afterwards was a big help again. After a couple days off, the leg had been tightening up beforehand. I need to do a better job of stretching during rest days.

The temperature has been freezing lately. I decided not to attempt biking in the cold and rain on Sunday. It was in the 40s for a few days. Today, it warmed up into the mid 60s. It was actually almost too hot out there. Luckily, there was a nice breeze.

I started off the run by going at a nice clip. I ran fairly hard and smooth throughout. My legs felt weak, but I kept pushing. I passed quite a few people along the route.

I thought for sure I'd tire out, but I never really did. I slowed some at the end, but still ran strong. I didn't know where the turn around was supposed to be so I ran to the St. Joe's Prep boathouse and back.

For a little while, I thought about slowing down more or even quitting. I stayed mentally tough though and made it through the run. Certainly a lot of my issues are physical, but can't let them get to me. I need to be smart, but tough. I think this run will be a real confidence booster.

I ran in the afternoon again. That really is great from my leg muscle. It gets loosened up. It makes it a lot harder to want to run though. Getting up and running the same time every morning was good and made for a great start to the day. After lunch, motivating myself to get out the door is becoming difficult.

Tomorrow is a scheduled 9 mile run. Hopefully it can be another strong day and I can finally shake the injury bug. I don't plan on pushing like to day, but I still need to run fairly hard. These next two weeks are crucial and I need to make the most of them. I will probably run the loop tomorrow, plus Lloyd Hall to the Art Museum.

5.47 miles - 43:19 (7:55 pace)

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Just Another Injury

Well today was supposed to be my 2nd longest run of marathon training. It was supposed to end after 18 miles. Of course, nothing as gone as it is supposed to lately. I felt pretty good after my three runs this week. I didn't fully run them, but ran far enough.

Today, I didn't even make it to mile 8 before I had to quit. I'm finally getting over my hamstring issue. This time, of course I was done in a new injury to my ankle. It seems like every time I solve one problem, another pops up.

The weather was terrible again. It was dark, cold and rainy. The temperature was in the 40s. I ran slowly and easily at the start, along West River Drive. There was a little wind in my face, but overall I was feeling pretty good.

I wore a jacket, hat, gloves and shorts. At times, that was a bit much. I took my hat off, rolled up my sleeves and took off my gloves all at different times.

On the way out, I slowly caught up to a guy. When I got to Falls Bridge, somehow I lost track of him and ended up passing him. I took off my gloves and dropped one of my Fuel Belt bottles. He ended up passing me back. I followed him most of the rest of the way.

I didn't want to get in a race, but he slowed so much that I eventually caught up and passed him. It was as I was catching him that my problems started. I ran on the gravel part of Kelly Drive. As I ran on the uneven surface, I a felt a couple pains in my ankle. I went back onto the paved path and felt better.

I had to use the bathroom and was planning on stopping at Lloyd Hall to do so and stretch a little too. I was feeling a little sluggish at that point. Then as I got to Boathouse Row, a pain shot through my ankle again. It happened on two consecutive steps and at that point, I knew I had to walk and quit.

I might've been able to continue after some rest, but I elected not to risk it. We'll test it out again on the next run. I didn't want to aggravate it again and be much farther from my apartment. I walked home with no other problems. It was a little sore after a long walk this evening.

I don't know what caused this problem now. Maybe it was wearing my shoes too tight. That seemed to stop my foot issue, but now might've caused this problem.

This has just become so frustrating. I have problem after problem. Maybe it's an issue with my shoes. I don't know, but I can't seem to get past the 8-13 mile range.

I used a Fuel Belt again and I don't think it was as much of an issue this time. I only filled the bottles half full. My hip was a little sore from it, but it didn't seem like a big problem.

I'm trying to be cautious and ran slowly this week. Actually, running a different pace this week might've been a problem too. My muscles had to handle different impacts than they were used to. I don't know what the issue is, but it would be nice to get over it.

I really have to stay positive and just keep plugging away. At this point, I just want to be able to get one 18-20 mile run done in the next two weeks. That's a big physical and mental hurdle before the marathon. I wouldn't mind trying the run/walk technique, but that didn't seem to help much a couple weeks earlier. My sore leg just stiffened up.

I clearly didn't respect the marathon and long distances enough. This has been very humbling. I'd like to think I can still finish the marathon and that I have enough time yet to turn things around. I'm really not sure though. I always read about people running 5 hours marathon and think they're slow. At least they can finish though. I'm not sure I can do that, even if I am faster than them.

Maybe this is all just a big test to see how dedicated I am to running. Last time I got injured, I got frustrated and quit. I plan on being in it for the long haul now. I'm not a quitter now. It's going to take a lot more then this to stop me.

I just have to keep going. Tomorrow, I'll try to make up for today. I'm going to bike long again, rather than just an hour ride. I'm going to try to keep next week normal, but we'll have to see. They say that you should have a year of base running done before a marathon and now I see why. I'll be much stronger as I head into the spring marathon. Now it's just a game of survival.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Beautiful Day (for me)

Not exactly what U2 had in mind, but I thought it was a beautiful day for a run. There's just something about running in the rain that I love. We were hit by a Nor'easter today. Instead of the typical 66 degrees, it was a high of 44 with lots of rain. It was just like the first part of Game 5 of the World Series last year.

I guess I love this weather because I like to see who else is crazy enough to be out there with me. For the over half hour run, I counted a grand total of 7 other runners. Most were well dressed. One was crazy enough to wear a short sleeve shirt and shorts. I noticed he turned around quickly after passing me.

It was a tough day to dress actually. I knew I was overdressed, but figured it was better than being under dressed and soaked. I wore a light jacket, long pants, a hat and gloves. Walking over to run, I felt comfortable, so I knew I was wearing too much.

The attire actually worked well early on. I felt really good, especially after stretching beforehand. I ran along the Schuykill Banks from Lloyd Hall. I actually ran all the way home, so I wouldn't have to walk back in the rain.

Most of the run went smooth. I did struggle towards the end though because my wet clothes got heavy. Most of the time, they made me hot, but there were some big wind gusts too.

Overall, I ran pretty comfortable. My leg really didn't bother me much. I was surprised at how little soreness I had after yesterday's long run. I think the extensive amount of stretching is really helping. I took quite a few minutes to do so again after this run. My legs feel better now than they have in weeks. Still some soreness there, but they feel like they're improving.

Another thing that might've helped was tying my shoes tighter, especially my left shoes. I made sure to really tighten the laces all the way through. That gave my left foot a lot more support and my ankle and foot were no longer sore. Hopefully it is what helped my leg too.

I'm really interested to see how I feel after Saturday. That'll be huge in my recover. If I can finish the long run and feel anywhere near how I do afterwards, that'll be huge. I'm going to do a couple loops around the Schuykill and let my body dictate how far I go. I'd love to get the full 18 mile run in, but not sure I'll push anywhere near that far. I'm looking more at 15 or 16 miles again.

4.2 miles - 36:31 (8:42 pace)

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Around the Loop Again

Today, I ran most of the Schuykill River loop. I started at Lloyd Hall and stopped at West River Drive right where it goes over the river. It was about 7.5 miles.

Originally, I planned on some boring running at Temple's track. I went to the subway and the Fairmount stop doesn't have a token machine and the one at Spring Garden didn't take change. That was all I brought and only enough for two tokens. Rather than go back to the apartment and get money, I just decided to run the loop.

Again, my left ankle felt funny early on. I really don't think my shoe was tied tight enough and that bothered my foot later on. After going really slow at the start, I picked it up.

I ran fairly well on the way out. I went with a relatively slow and comfortable pace. I can only slow down so much though. Right as I got the St. Joe's Prep boathouse, I caught up to a guy that ran by me when I was walking before my run and warm up. Obviously he was going slow, but it was amazing that I caught up to him.

I felt pretty good as I got to Falls Bridge. I was slow and it seemed like the run took forever, but my legs were okay. As I got towards the end though, they really started to lose it. The week off made this long run tough.

I couldn't have run much farther and I elected to play it safe and just stop early. I'm planning on doing more than one loop on Saturday and quite frankly I'm not sure how I'll pull that off. I was beat at the end of this one. Both my legs started to get sore in the last half mile or so.

I didn't look at my watch until the end. I started the stopwatch, but changed the setting to the time for most of the run. I tried not to run too hard at any point. It wasn't easy, but it felt great completing the workout. I took extra time to stretch afterwards (as well as before).

The weather is starting to get frustrating now. Yesterday, it was sunny and the temperature wasn't bad. It turned out to be very windy by the river though. Today, it was cloudy and unseasonably cold. There was no wind though, so the weather was actually much better.

Obviously the cold weather kept people away though. It's interesting to watch how people dress. Some are way overdress already and some are probably underdressed like myself. I wore a short sleeve shirt and shorts. I did throw on gloves and that was a big help.

By the end, I was actually warm and sweating in the gloves. They were much needed as I walked to the river though. That's the hardest part. I walk quite a few blocks before getting to the run.

The shirt I had on had small holes in it. It's really a good thing that it wasn't windy. The wind is such an X-factor. Even if it's not windy at the apartment, it can be windy at the river.

Tomorrow is a scheduled 5 mile run, but I'll probably just do 3 or 4. I'm a little sore right now, particularly in my injured left leg. I just have to make it through the next few weeks.

I've been thinking about getting a massage. I wasn't sure where to go and googling it didn't help. It would be great, but not sure it's worth the money either. I might try taking an ice bath after Saturday's run. That was is scheduled for 18 miles, but I'll likely do 15 or 16 (if I make it that far).

7.5 miles - 1:05:11 (8:41 pace)

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Back on My Feet

After taking off since last Wednesday, I ran this afternoon. I did my scheduled 4 mile route along Kelly Drive. Instead of the usual morning run, I decided to wait until later in the afternoon. I read a few times where this is a better time to run because your legs are loosened up.

Having said that, I really didn't enjoy running in the afternoon and I'm not sure I'll continue it. It's not that it was bad, it's just harder to motivate myself to get up when I'm sitting around and watching TV. I'd much prefer to get up, eat and get it out of the way. That's definitely the best way for me to not skip runs.

My leg has felt much better lately, so the rest was a help. It still feels tight from time to time when I walk, but I'm no longer limping around. It felt really good as I walked to Lloyd Hall.

The leg was pretty good throughout the run. There was some minor soreness during and afterwards. I probably wouldn't have even noticed it when running if I wasn't looking for it.

The thing that bothered me early on was the outside of my left ankle. It starting bothering me right off the bat with my first step. I never had an issue there before. After about half a mile, it went away.

I ran with only a few minor aches. I was surprised with some soreness in my calves. All in all though, my legs felt pretty good. It it did seem a little weird after not running for nearly a week. I didn't push myself though, instead I took it easy.

I made sure to stretch beforehand. That's something I haven't been doing. I did even more extensive stretching when I was done, including when I got home and did my ab workout. I want to do all I can to keep my legs strong and loose.

The headwind was a real pain on the way out. It's getting to be that time of year where it gets very windy around the river. That's going to be very frustrating during the marathon. At least I'll be used to it. I have a fancy material T-shirt that I bought the other week and it proved to be quite wind resistant. That was nice. The wind wasn't a problem on the way back and it was ideal running conditions.

I finished solidly, not pushing myself too hard. It felt good to get that out of the way, but the real tests are yet to come. I need to see how my leg responds to see where I'm at. I hoped it would be 100% healed when I got back to running, but it isn't.

I really need to get through this next three weeks. After that, it will be my taper period. Then, I can relax and won't mind missing a run here and there if I have to.

Tomorrow's run is scheduled for 9 miles, but I'm going to take it easy and likely only run 7. To ease my legs on the long run, I'm going to run on Temple's track. That's going to be very boring, but will reduce the impact. I'm also going to reverse directions after every mile. Saturday's long run and recovery will be the biggest test. I'll probably cut that run from 18 miles to 15 or 16 miles.

It feels great to be back and hopefully good things are ahead. I still have a bit to go until the marathon and I can see the finish line. I just need to take it easy, be more cautious and patient. Hopefully, that'll keep me injury free.

4 miles - 34:59 (8:45 pace)

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Long and Wet Ride

I rode for nearly two hours today to replace my scheduled 12 mile run. I did two loops around the river, plus one time around the Schuykill Banks out and back. I did this to allow my injured leg to heal.

Everything started off pretty well. There was a crew meet, so I had to use the road on some parts of Kelly Drive. Luckily, they closed the road. People block the paths too much during events and are ignorant. One lady stood, chatting and blocking the path at one point. Of course she was a University of Delaware fan.

The real issue on the way out was the wind and rain. In certain sections it was incredibly windy on Kelly Drive. There was a light rain going out on both loops. It was weird because the rain stopped and the sun came out while I was on West River Drive. When I got back to Kelly, it rained again.

The wind was really bad near Falls Bridge too, but I pushed through it both times. I was happy to see more bikes out in this rain, than the rain a few days ago. I have so much respect for everyone out there biking and running in the rain.

I rode at a nice and easy gear. I had to go slower up some slight hills and when going into the wind, but I also went up a gear when going downhill. I didn't push my legs too hard and they felt very good. Rarely did I actually notice my sore leg/hip.

On West River Drive, I hit a walk towards the end. Luckily, I was going towards them and was able to navigate through them. On the second loop, I tried the path first, but it was crowded too so I had to dart around a few people on the road.

I thought I had another flat as I was nearly finished. It turns out it was just the rough pavement. The air in my tires was still good. I ran smoothly through the rest of the rainy route.

I ate some GU Energy Gel and a breakfast bar too. I didn't feel like I worked that hard, because my legs weren't sore. However, after getting off the bike, it was evident that I did get a nice workout. I was and am very tired. The lack of pounding on my knees was nice.

I still really don't like riding though. I don't mind doing it to relax, but I don't enjoy cycling for a workout. Riding at a lower gear is better though.

My leg is feeling much better and the cycling is clearly a big help. I'm still not sure what I'm going to do next week. I might bike instead of doing all those runs too. I want to make sure I'm fully recovered. I'll likely do less mileage than scheduled when I do come back. I won't try to run until my leg feels completely healed when I'm walking.

Tomorrow will be an hour bike ride before heading to the Eagles game to tailgate. Tuesday and the rest of next week is still up in the air. I need to make it to the marathon healthy, so I can have a decent finish. Even if it's not my best, I want to still run well. Healing is the number one priority right now.

20.3 miles (1:46:00)

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Nursing the Injury

Instead of the scheduled 5 mile run today, I rode my bike for nearly 40 minutes. I went out on West River Drive and back. I don't really like riding, but hopefully it'll be the best way to heal this injury.

It wasn't too cold out, but early on I was questioning if I dressed properly. I wore a jacket and shorts. Because of the wind that is generating when biking, I was very cold. I don't have a clue how to dress while riding in different conditions.

I began to question whether I had the proper attire on. Most people I encountered on bikes were fully covered. Later on, I came across a few others who were wearing less. After awhile, I did warm up.

Even with the cold, I was sweating at the end of the workout. I rode on a low gear and didn't feel like I worked very hard though. My legs didn't take a pounding. A big guy on a mountain even passed me at this slow speed. That was fine though. I could feel the injured part of my leg a couple times, but it didn't bother me.

I'm used to riding this stretch on the street, when the road is closed on the weekends. I forgot how bumpy the path is. It has bumps because of the tree roots. That made for a frustrating and rocky ride.

The leg feels pretty good after the ride and I'm going to continue to rest it with cross training. Hopefully that'll help and I can get back to running next week. I guess we'll see. I'm not too concerned if I have to do a lot of cross training, but I'd really like to get my 18 and 20 mile runs in.

Saturday, I'll ride again for about 2 hours. That should simulate the scheduled 12 mile run. Sunday will be the usual cross training hour. I'm trying not to walk around too much either. I'm also working on some strengthening exercises too.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Back on Flat

Well today I was back in Philly and running the Schuykill loop again. It was nice to be back on familiar ground after a week. I started at Lloyd Hall and ran along Kelly Drive and then most of the rest of the loop. I stopped a little short of a full loop so that I ran 8 miles.

At that the start, I saw what looked like a Kenyan runner. It was odd because he was running alone. Early on, I felt tight and stiff. After 15 minutes of that, I decided that it would be wise to take a walking break. I walked for 3 minutes.

After that, I would run for 10 minutes and walk for another 2 minutes. That helped me recover some, but it was actually quite tough towards the end. It's amazing how slow you start after a walk break, but also how much faster you become after a few minutes.

One of the last segments, I elected to take a 4 minute walk break. That was actually too long and much more difficult to come back from. I thought about quitting the workout a little short to rest, but I pushed through it.

Because of my injured right leg, my left foot is overcompensating and is starting to become sore. This was the case throughout the run. I iced it afterwards and I'm working on some stretching too.

The leg injury continues to bother me and did so during this run because I started and stopped so much. It just seems really tight and I'm hobbling around a lot when I go places too. I was pleased to find that it and the groin issue are related to my sore hip too. This became evident during some hip strengthening exercises yesterday.

I was doing hip strengthening earlier in the summer when my leg was bothering me. I really backed off of it once I felt better though. Now, I need to get back to that and add other muscle strengthening exercises too. I need to get stronger all around to help prevent injuries. I'm reading a good book on running injury free right now and it has a bunch of suggestions.

I've been going back and forth with whether I want to run, run/walk or cross training. The leg injury just doesn't seem to be getting any better, so I think I'm going to cross train at least through the end of this week. We'll see how I feel next week too. Maybe I'll continue it then.

I've really taken pride in doing all my workouts as planned, but at this point I really need to back off just to make sure I make it to the marathon. Doing some cross training to get healthy is better than doing half runs and becoming more sore. It'll be much better for me in the long run.

8 miles - 1:13:33 (9:12 pace)

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Lehigh Cross Country Course

I decided to stay at my parents a few extra days. Today, I ran Lehigh's 6K cross country course. I thought that running on grass would help my sore hamstring.

Early on, I struggled to run properly. Running on grass is just so different and takes some getting used to. My legs felt sore. With a short while, things improved. The course was still tougher than I anticipated.

Grass might reduce impact, but I don't find it very easy. I have to get used to the footing. At least this course was all grass, until the rocky Belmont course. There were some rolling hills and I guess they took a bit out of me.

The plan was to take it easy and use the first day back after the half marathon as a recovery run. Due to the terrain, I had to work harder than I wanted to. I kept a slow pace, but was breathing pretty hard.

Since they just had a big meet on the course on Friday, it was well marked out. It winds all through the Goodman Campus. Around the athletic fields and football stadiums and in between corn fields. It seemed like it went on forever.

I tried to run later in the morning so that the dew would be gone, but it still wasn't. I managed to get used to the damp grass though. At one point, I the course goes near their driving range. I noticed a golf ball had actually made it all the way to the course. I didn't get hit though.

My hamstring continues to be bother me. It was actually sorer on Monday than on Sunday. The extra day off didn't help. I'm going to run easy during the rest of the week and see how it feels. I really can't believe that all this rest in between runs isn't improving it. I might have to consider cross training for a bit.

I can run without pain, but it's still a long way to the marathon. I need to error on the side of caution. It really seemed like it was getting better at the end of last week. I knew the half marathon would be it up bad though. We'll just have to see how it reacts this week.

My groin was feeling much better too, but it started bothering a little bit again today. I applied plenty of ice this evening. I've been trying to sleep on my back more lately. I'm not sure if it was helping, but I was feeling better.

Tomorrow is a long 8 mile run, but I'm going to take it very easy. I'll probably just do the Falls Bridge loop. I'd love to go to Valley Forge Park to run on Thursday, but that might hurt my knees too much.

It feels good to be so far along in my marathon program, but I can't believe how far I have to go yet. I still have over 30 workouts remaining and a month and a half. That's definitely a lot of time to continue to improve too if I get healthy. I'm still looking forward to the remainder of my training.

6K - 31:26 (8:26 pace)

Monday, October 5, 2009

Lancaster Half Marathon

Saturday was the big prep race before the marathon. I ran the Lancaster Half Marathon in Lancaster, PA. It was a bit of a mixed result. My time was about what I anticipated, but I finished the race so poorly that it put a damper on it. I felt like I could've done better.

On Friday night, we drove the course with our car. It didn't look too challenging. There were two hills near each other, one steep descent and a lot of short rolling hills and curves. It sure didn't look like something I would have trouble handling.

It is an interesting setting as most of the course runs through farm land. There some nice wooded areas in the back too. It was really a beautiful and unique place.

The start was a little annoying as it was delayed a few minutes for whatever reason. I really got tired of standing at the line. Once we finally got going, I got in a good position. I tucked in with a few runners to save some energy. We went out at a 7:30 pace on both of the first two miles. There was a guy breathing hard when going up the long first hill. It must've been a long day for him.

I decided to drop back a little after that though. The pace wasn't super fast, but a little quicker than I was comfortable with that early on. I wanted to keep that group in my sites and within striking distance though. As I experienced in the past, there is nothing worse than running alone during a long race like this.

I battled for a little bit with a guy in a gray shirt. We closed some ground on the group. After the first water station, he took off though. I drank at the station and just regrouped. I ended up passing and battle with another guy or two with gray shirts. I was never sure if it was the same guy or not. You get too focused to the road straight ahead.

I seemed be going back and forth with people. I'd get passed by a group, catch back up to them and then fall back again. I think all the rolling hills made it tough for me to run consistently. I'm so used to basic, flat running.

Just before one of the two major hills, a women was laying on the ground already exhausted. I probably should've stopped. I'm not the only one that didn't though. I took it pretty easy up both hills, since they were early on.

I followed another woman for quite a few miles and was blown away with how fast I was still going at such an easy pace. She then peeled off for the bathroom though and I had to find others to go after. I got kind of tired of following her big behind anyways. It wasn't exactly inspirational.

I was feeling great after the hills. A little while later we got to the steep downhill. That's really where I made my mistake. It was so steep that you had to put on the breaks and slow yourself down. I usually like to just let gravity take me down the hill. I decided to do that even though the surface was wet. I flew by three people on the descent. That ended up destroying my hamstrings though and drastically slowed down my race.

I started to get sore as I entered the halfway point. I hit it still feeling pretty good though. I ran it in 47:41. This was in the turnaround area. That was a stretch of road where it was wooded and shady. There were actually some horses that stood right next to the road to watch at one point. This part was great because I could see that there were so many more people behind me than ahead of me.

My initial plan was to maybe push a little at mile 8 and definitely try to fly from mile 9 on. I really started to wear down though. Before mile 8, I relaxed and took my GU Energy Gel and Gatorade. I drank at most aid stations, only walking briefly. Hydration was definitely something I did right.

I hoped the gel would work its magic, but that never happened. Really, I had plenty of energy. My legs were just overworked and dead. I still managed to trot along. It wasn't until the last few miles that I truly died.

I think it was the rolling hills that really caught up to me. The hills seemed twice as long as they actually were as the day wore on. Towards the end, the gentle ones even seemed three times longer. The other problem was the heat. It wasn't super hot, but warmer than I anticipated. I wasn't dehydrated, but the weather definitely took something out of me.

There were some nice scattered crowds that helped a little. The most interesting one was towards the end. The run is all through Amish country. We passed by one farm and there were about four Amish children watching us run. It was really cute and one of the things I liked about the race. The smell of the farms was unpleasant once we first hit the farms, but I didn't even notice it after a few minutes.

With less than a few miles left, my legs started getting really sore. My IT band started hurting and I thought I might have to walk. It got better though. One thing that motivated me was catching a guy up ahead in a Philadelphia Distance Run shirt. He was in the pack that paced me early on and they had got way ahead. He was clearly falling back though. I caught and passed him with about a mile and a half left. I said to him, that I wasn't sure how he could run this race just a couple weeks after the PDR.

Just before the last aid station, a couple girls passed me. I managed to stay with them, but we all got split up after the aid station. One guy on the route kept stopping to stretch. I passed him about 3 or 4 times while he was doing so and then he'd pass me right back when he got going again. I think I beat him at the end though.

The last mile and a half was so brutal. Time and time again, I kept considering walking. I never did it though, instead I ran slower than I probably ever have. Walking probably would've improved my time. I was so dead that I basically just quit. I could've pushed a little more, but I figured what for?

In that final little bit, I was probably passed by about ten people. At one point, a guy yelled, "only 1.6 miles to go." I wanted to punch him in the face because that seemed like forever. I tried to think of it in terms of time, instead of distance, but that didn't really help.

As dead I was, I still managed to throw in my usual strong kick. I saw a crowd up ahead, where I thought the finish was. I kicked it into high gear and blew by runner after runner. As I approached the crowd, I realized the finish was actually around the corner and I had kicked too soon. Luckily, no one else could move fast at that point. I'm just so good in the last 200 meters or so. Always have been and always will be.

I finished in 1:41:25 and in 118th place. I could've probably gone under 1:40 if I pushed myself a little more during the closing two miles. I was happy that I went hard enough throughout the race to find my limit though. Sometimes, I have ended a race wondering if I left too much in the tank. That was not the case on this day.

I was disappointed that I ran the second half so much slower than the first half, but I'm not sure what else I could do. Even if I started slower, I'm still not sure I could've finished stronger. I just didn't have the training necessary to conquer the rolling hills. I tried adding more hill work within the last few weeks and then I developed some minor injuries.

I walked around the outlets in Lancaster on Saturday afternoon. That was a big help to allow my legs to recover. I used ice throughout the last two days. My quads and hamstrings are actually still sore today, but my groin injury hasn't been bothering me. That's very good news because that was lingering for awhile. The flat and slow recovery run on Thursday, as well as Wednesday's day off were probably a big help.

Even though the marathon will be much flatter, I still want to improve on the hills. I guess instead of doing more hill sprints, I'll just have to run on more hilly courses. Perhaps I'll have to leave the city for that.

Tomorrow, I'm going to stay at my parents and try running the Lehigh cross country course. I'll do it nice and slow though. I really need to work on making my slow days truly slow. I'm hoping to start doing more tempo runs for my Wednesday medium runs.

I'm still pretty far off of Boston Marathon qualifying pace, but some more quality workouts could bring me very close to that by the time the marathon rolls around. I don't want to overdo it, but I want to set that up as a goal now. If I don't acheive it, I won't be disappointed. If I don't in the spring marathon, that'll be a different story.

All in all, it was a good run and I'm happy where I'm going. It's amazing to think that 5 months ago a half mile run would've winded me. I've come a long way already. There are still so many people ahead of me though and so much room for improvement. I just have to keep working at it.

Time 1:41:25 - 7:45 pace (118 of 679 overall), (92 of 324 male), (15 of 42 age group)
Splits 1st half - 47:41 (7:17 pace), 2nd half - 53:44 (8:12 pace)

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Flat and Slow

After missing yesterday's workout, I took it very easy today. I ran a slow and flat four miles in the neighborhood by my parents house. It went pretty well and allowed some recovery for my sore body.

My hamstring, which had bothered me for a few days, is no longer a problem. I felt good early on and all throughout the run. The only issue was a headwind in two of the four directions that I traveled.

After finishing up, I felt a little sore. I noticed that now my left calf has some soreness. Stepping on it funny a few minutes ago briefly aggravated it too. It might be because I'm not putting as much pressure on my right leg when I walk.

My right groin does seem a little better, but it is still sore. I'm concerned because it isn't healing as much as I hoped. It doesn't bother me most of the time, only when I step the wrong way.

I should be ready to go come Saturday, but I'm definitely concerned going forward. I should be fine in the race because my injuries aren't bothering me during running. It is only afterwards that I have a problem.

Hopefully the two days off after the half marathon will allow me to fully recover. I've been using a lot of ice and heating pads lately and staying off my feet as much as possible (when not running). Regardless of how I feel, I'm going to take next week easy. I'll still try to do the planned mileage, but not with as much intensity as I had been doing before.

I'm just really concerned that this won't heal before the marathon and it will in fact get worse. This is the time where I should be building up and now I might have to cut back. I'm so focused on the marathon and I was doing so well in training and now this. It's really frustrating, but I guess I have to keep taking it day by day.

I'm not as eager about the half marathon as I was before. I'm still confident I can run well though. I guess that's a good thing. They made the course flatter too, with some recent updates. That should alleviate some of my issues.

I guess I just have to be patient and smart from here on out. I complained about training being too easy and then I pushed myself a little too far with hill sprints and more intense runs. It's time to back off a little after the race and see what happens.

Hopefully I can come up with some good stretching and strengthening exercises. That really helped me recover from my IT band syndrome this spring and early summer. If I have to, I might incorporate some walk/run technique to try to recover. The next few weeks will be crucial to see where I'm headed.

4 miles - 35:40 (8:55 pace)