Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Slow Down

After yesterday's double session, I went out for an easy 10 miler. When I woke up, my legs seemed a little tight. I slept a little longer and then felt pretty good when I got up again. It was too late to run by then though, so I ran after work.

It was probably a good thing that I did that. My legs felt quite stiff early on. I was sluggish. Some of it might've been the double workouts yesterday and some of it might've been standing on my feet for five hours at work. Usually I rest a little after work before I run. Today, I went straight out though and starting running at the Art Museum.

Although it didn't feel too quick, I definitely went out to fast. Kelly Drive is now packed with people and it is hard to hold back and not pass people. Even without thinking about it, I naturally run towards the people ahead of me.

I wore compression sleeves and was a little hot as the run wore on. I was glad I had them on as I turned around and hit shaded West River Drive. By Falls Bridge, I was fairly tired and finally slowed to a more realistic pace. I felt good and got into a rhythm.

Again, I sped up when I saw a cute girl in front of me though. Other than that, it was pretty quiet and uneventful through that stretch. West River Drive is always much calmer than Kelly Drive. I cruised on back to the Art Museum nice and easy.

I finished up the run by heading onto Kelly Drive again for half a mile. Of course it was very crowded in this section again. This time, I used it run faster and finish strong. I had a nice closing mile. It was a solid 10 mile run, although I feel a bit beat up.

Tomorrow, I have off again. I'm heading to the Mass of Chrism in the early morning. After that, I'm going out for an 8 mile trail run. I'll likely head up to Wissahickon again. I haven't ruled out Valley Forge or anywhere else though either. I still have two more days of running left this week and I'm already approaching 40 total miles.

10 miles - 1:15:32 (7:33 pace)

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Dreary Double

For the first time today, I ran twice. I started with a morning trail run back near my parents house. I followed that up by running with the run club at City Sports. Of course, I couldn't have picked worse weather to do a double in. It was cold (upper 30s/low 40s) and rainy. Add to that a lot of wind when I got back to Philadelphia.

The plan for today was to get out and run a speedwork. That didn't quite work out thanks to the weather. Instead, I just ran on the trail and cut that run short by a bit in the morning. I actually expected to encounter a mud filled trail. Most of it was gravel though.

I started the Jacobsburg Park trail in a section with a lot of meadows. There were multiple wide paths in that area and it was easy to get lost. I followed one to the right and I could tell early on that it was going to be a tough run. This sections is mostly flat, but there are still some challenging hills in there too.

Before I knew it, I was a very hilly section that my dad and I had walked briefly a couple weeks ago. This was tough because there were a lot of trees with roots sticking out in this section. The trail was wide enough, but it was a cliff there. I actually flew down hill and over a footbridge very fast at one point. I was out of control and lucky I didn't fall, especially with the wet terrain.

I then climbed up a tough hill and wound up in the meadow section again. I looped around and thought I was heading towards home. It turned out that I was back by the environmental center though. At least I knew the way back from there. I was one of several times that I was lost. It is easy to find your way back in this park though.

I went through the meadow section again and followed a very difficult uphill. It took a lot out of me. I nearly walked this portion. I kept on though, with a goal to finish 5 miles. Eventually, I found the path back to the car. It was a tough run, but a good workout.

I was overdressed for both runs. This is one time when I don't mind being overdressed though (rainy and windy runs). Both times, I wore tights, a long sleeve shirt, gloves and my jacket. I was soaked and cold when I stopped though.

The run club was the usual out and back to Lloyd Hall. The only non employees running were the Brooks rep and coworker's wife and friend. It was fun and we all stayed together on Walnut Street. Once we hit the Schuykill Banks though, I picked up the pace a little. I actually tried to stay slow and just ahead of everyone, but it was tough to do. I flew up the hill and really ended up gaping everyone.

Since I was so far ahead on the way out, even while taking it easy, I decided to treat the way back as a speedwork session. I pushed very hard. Part of me want to just get the run over with anyways. The one good thing was that the wind was at least at our backs that time. I cruised at a very nice clip. My watch had trouble picking up satellite signals, so I never did know how fast I was going. Of course, I ended up finishing far ahead of everyone. Hopefully next week, we'll get some more fast runners out there too.

My hip is a little sore from the double session. Overall though, I think I recovered pretty well. I'm hoping I feel good enough to get out there early tomorrow morning and put in an easy 10 miler before work. If not, I'll run after work (5 PM). Either way, it should be a nice relief.

AM run 5 miles - 45:37 (9:08 pace)
PM run ~4.25 miles

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Running Long Again

Because of my injury, I hadn't run really long in a few weeks. Today, I got out and did an 18 mile run. That is now my fourth longest run ever. It was tough, but just what I need to do well in the marathon.

The weather was pretty cold and miserable. It was cloudy and in the 40s. There was a slight breeze that made things worse. I went with my compression sleeves with my short sleeve shirt. That worked, but I was never comfortable.

I'm still back at my parents house and I headed down to the D & L Trail, which is the canal path along the Lehigh River. I started at Sand Island in Bethlehem and looped in each direction. Before beginning, I had to used the bathroom. Of course the nearby one was locked. I had to run all the way into town, where the running store is.

I started off the run heading west towards Allentown. The path is small gravel there. The whole course is relatively flat, so I figured it would be a good route to run. According to their website, the path was only supposed to extend 2.9 miles from Sand Island. It actually went over 4 miles though, before turning into a grassy trail. I followed that park of the trail for a short distance until I hit 4.5 miles.

Running back was tough because the wind was blowing at me. It was cold in that air. I also ran at a pretty good clip (as I did throughout most of the run). I passed a few runners, bikers and a couple people fishes. I also passed a railway hub that was quite interesting. They were releasing the cars one by one and they were wandering down the track.

I had to go to the bathroom when I originally got to the end of the path. Even with that, I ran an 8:15 or so mile. Another mile on the way back was recorded as 6:50. I can't believe that was right, as I didn't think I was going that fast. When I got back to the car, I stopped long enough to drink some Gatorade.

I then ran east on the path towards Bethlehem. It starts out as gravel and goes by Bethlehem Steel. It is always impressive seeing how big the few remaining buildings are. It must've really been interesting to go by there when it was operating at full force.

I continued on and just focused mile by mile. It was tough because I was already getting sore as I hit mile 10 or so. I just concentrated on getting to the turnaround point though (mile 13.5). The trail turned to dirt at one point and that was a big help to the legs. Rather than run by some people with a dog, I actually turned around at mile 13.4.

I was able to get to mile 14, but was really hurting. I focused on pushing myself a little though. I was able to do this a couple different times. After about a half mile each time, my left calf would nearly cramp up. I just backed off a little then, but continued to work hard. I just concentrated on keeping good form and being steady in the final mile and a half. It was quite a chore, but I did survive and finish up.

My longest run in this cycle was weeks ago and it was only 17 miles. This was certainly pushing my limit. Running on a flat surface and softer terrain was a big help. It did cause me to run a faster pace than I probably should've though. I didn't feel like the effort was too tough though. It was a relief to finish.

I'm fairly sore, but I didn't have any actual injury problems. My IT band hasn't acted up in awhile. Hopefully that'll continue. Tomorrow is a rest day. I'll probably walk the mall with my mom in the AM. I'm heading to the Nazareth track meet in the afternoon too. On Tuesday, I'll do a speedwork session in the AM and run with the run club in the evening.

18 miles - 2:16:35 (7:35 pace)

Friday, March 26, 2010

NHS Track Workout

Like usual, I didn't get up to run this morning. This time, my Achilles was very sore. I wore my Vibram's running my shift at work on Thursday night and that led to the soreness. I guess I really have to be careful how much I wear them, especially now while I'm marathon training.

Instead of the morning run, I did a track workout when I got back to my parents house. I rushed home and hoped to get some it in before it got dark out. It was like for a few minutes, but got dark quickly.

The workout was a ladder workout, after 2 easy miles. It consisted of 1 min, 2 min, 3 min, 2 min, 1 min, 2 min, and 3 min, with equal duration recovery sessions in between. The pace for the fast intervals was from 3K-10K. The workout then concluded with 2 more easy miles.

I ran backwards on the first two easy miles. That seems kind of weird. I'm not sure if the track is designed a certain way that makes it harder to run in the opposite direction. I ran the correct direction on the intervals and recovery segments.

Early on in the interval portion, I kept a nice and steady pace. I was a bit faster through the shorter 1 minute segment. The run was tough because there was a head wind on the back stretch. That made each lap difficult. I just continued to focus from segment to segment. Breaking down the run like that made it more bearable.

I really hate speed, so that makes this time of workout a challenge. I also enjoy completing it so much. It is great to go out of your comfort zone. That's the only way I'll really improve in the long term.

It was dark by the time I finished my two easy miles. I had to keep lighting up my watch throughout the run, just so I could see. Not only was it windy, but very cold too. I didn't think I'd need to bring out the ColdGear again this year, but I did for this run.

My legs are quite sore after jumping up another 10 miles this week. Tomorrow is a much needed rest day. I might walk on some trails though. We are going to explore the Run for the Red Marathon course and probably Tobyhanna State Park as well. Sunday will be a long 18 miler. I have done a 17 mile run, but that was quite a few weeks now. We'll see how I handle it. I'm hoping to run on the flat canal path between Easton and Allentown.

8.30 miles - 58:41 (7:04 pace)

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Trail Recovery Run

As a recovery run, I headed out the door for a "easy" 6 mile trail run in Wissahickon. Of course a trail run is never quite too easy. I started off at Valley Green as usual.

The most difficult part is often the start. In this case, it was a very steep climb before things leveled off. I was winded and had just barely started running. After that though, the trail got pretty fast as I headed south. It is relatively flat and not very rocky for quite awhile.

Eventually, I hit a portion where I had to go downhill along a small stream and head back uphill again. It was the same path that I took two weeks ago. I would like to go the other direction sometime, but they are doing construction under the bridge.

After climbing some more, I sort of went the wrong way and lost the trail. I then backtracked, found it and ran some more ups and downs. Shortly after hitting three miles, I turned around. Getting back up the hill near the bridge was very tough.

I hit cruise control again following that. I passed some mountain bikers. I see quite a few of those during these trail runs, but rarely do I see runners. I then encountered the most difficult part of the run. Not only did the trail rise, but it was extremely rocky. It wasn't as steep as other sections, but the combination of elevation change and rocky terrain made it very tough. Add onto to that that I was entering the final mile of the run.

I was exhausted during this section and tripped and nearly fell on my face. Luckily, that hasn't really happened yet. It'll only be a matter of time though. Fatigue was definitely and factor as I was dragging my feet. I guess I have to learn to pick them up no matter how much I tire.

I finished up shortly after the near fall. The steep downhill finish was kind of interesting. Following the run, I went across Valley Green Road and ran 10 X 8 second hill sprints on the trail. That was quite challenging. I did find a section without too many rocks though.

As I was walking around before my run, I saw they have a 10K trail race in the park in early June. I have to take a closer look at it and see if it on the actual trail or Forbidden Drive itself. I want to run a race on the trails, but have no interest in running on the drive, although a mixture of the two could satisfy me.

This was a good run because it was a little exhausting, but didn't beat me up as much as the other trail runs. I got a decent workout, but at the same time, I was able to recover. My legs didn't take too much of a pounding. Tomorrow, is some interval work. I'm not sure if I'm heading to the track or sticking with the road yet.

6 miles - 53:37 (8:56 pace)

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Making a Strong Push

I'm really starting to make my push to qualify for Boston now. Today was an insanely tough workout. It consisted of running for 8 miles, easy for three minutes and then 30 seconds at 5K pace. That pattern repeated throughout the run. It ended up probably being close to 20 repeats.

Running fast for 30 seconds is tougher than you might think. I've adapted a little better to it since the first time I tried to run a Fartlek. That said, this run was still difficult. After a few reps and around 2.5 miles, I was wondering how in the world I would finish.

I was able to complete it by just focusing on the next interval. That makes the time and distance really fly by. Once I got to the turnaround point, just past Falls Bridge, I knew I'd make it. It seemed like I might've push it too much early on, but it turned out the pace was right.

I felt like I ran very consistent, even though it was tougher at the end. I had a side sticker that bothered me at times. The recovery intervals helped though. Just being so close to home got me through the last few intervals. I finished up exhausted and coughing. I was probably close to throwing up. Luckily, I only had a Clif Shot Blok before the run.

This run was so hard and also so rewarding when I finished. I got a bit emotional as I reflected afterward. I've always dreamed of being an athlete, but never actually put in the work. Now, I'm finally putting in the work and the results are starting. It is great to see how far I've come and wonder how far I'll go. I'm so passion right now and just enjoying the ride.

Tomorrow is an easy 6 mile recovery run with 10 hill sprints. I still think I'm going to make it a trail run. That won't make it too easy, but the effort will be easy. That'll be a good spot for hill sprints as well.

8 miles - 55:55 (6:59 pace)

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Rabbit Is Too Fast

I'm still really learning out to pace the run club and run in a group. Today was my second time leading the pack. Again, we had a three person break away. I knew I was going fast, but definitely didn't realize just how fast.

The first two miles were a blazing 6:34 and 6:36 pace. That's pretty fast even for me. The guy that ran with me the other week realized that was too fast. Another guy from Puma ran with me for the first mile, but then he knew that would be too fast as well. I need to do a better job of running just ahead of them.

Because we were so far ahead, we ran another quarter mile out and back. For that segment, we stuck together. I need to keep that pace I guess.

On the way back, I did a better job of controlling the pace, but was still too fast. I need to run it more like it is an easy day. These guys were pretty good though, so they pushed me a little past that pace. They'd drop back a little, I'd slow down, they'd catch up, I'd pick the pace up again.

I tried to really blast down Walnut Street on the way back and get them to finish strong. The guy from Puma didn't quite have enough, but the other guy stayed fairly close (helped by the lights) and finished strong.

It was a good workout and I'm actually glad I didn't run this morning too. This pace is definitely hot and would make for a challenging second run of the day. I might do that in the future though.

Now we'll see how well I recover. I need to get up early and run in about 12 hours from now. Tomorrow isn't an easy day either. It is a speedwork day. My speed definitely need to get better too. My confidence is starting to shoot through the roof even more now after the good run on Sunday. I'm making great progress, although the climb all the way to the top is still steep.

4.91 miles - 35:18 (7:11 pace)

Monday, March 22, 2010

Half Marathon Recovery Day

After yesterday's half marathon, today was an easy 6 mile recovery run. I had off from work, so it took a little while until I got out there. I should've ran early, as storms broke for a bit. Once I started up, it was raining pretty well.

Because of the rain, I started off at my apartment. I couldn't get my watch to work at first, but it after a minute. I started it and put it in my pocket to keep it dry. I ran down to Lloyd Hall and then ran the Schuykill Banks loop. As I made my way down the Banks, the sky really opened up. It poured like crazy.

I actually never cleaned the mud off of my old shoes from last week. I wore them during this run and the rain did that. Usually it doesn't rain hard enough to go into your shoes immediately. It poured that heavily for a stretch of this run though. The other frustrating thing was wearing my jacket. It was still very warm and kind of hot. Plus when it got wet, it really weighed me down.

I cruised on back to Lloyd Hall. After that, I ran out 3/4 of a mile. I then ran towards the Art Museum, heading uphill at the end of the run. I continued to take it easy. My Garmin claimed that I ran one mile at 6:07. That certainly isn't right, as I never ran that fast.

The run went pretty well and even though I'm a little sore, it isn't too bad. I might do an easy run tomorrow morning and run with the run club after work too. This week is going to be quite an increase in mileage. Hopefully I can handle it. My mileage was high for a few weeks, but dropped down over the last three.

It is always nice to reflect after a race. I was happy with the way I ran. I know I have even more in me though, particularly on a faster course. I looked into the Pocono Marathon again today. The elevation drop there is crazy. It goes from around 1900 feet to 400 feet. Even though I felt like yesterday's race had a nice hill, that was less than 250 feet of incline. The Steamtown Marathon is very popular and fast as well and it only drops 900 feet.

I started putting together my revised training plan for the marathon. It is about 8 weeks away, so I still have plenty of time. My biggest worry is that I'll increase my mileage too much. I'll just have to watch for signs of overtraining. I think continuing to run fairly long on trails will be a big help for my quads. That should strengthened them, as will be needed on this mostly downhill rolling course. I was told that some races can be comped by work. I'll have to look into it.

I was feeling a little run down before the half marathon and wondering if I'd even run a spring marathon. Running fairly well and not really killing myself was a huge boost. I know now that I can qualify in Boston in a few weeks. I just need to get in more long runs and speedwork. I've run some speedwork, but haven't done it consistently enough.

6 miles - 47:52 (7:58 pace)

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Caesar Rodney Half Marathon

On Saturday, I ran only briefly. I headed to the Heinz Wildlife Sanctuary on my way home from picking up my race packet it Delaware. After running only a little over a mile and a quarter, I had to stop because nature was calling. I walked back to the car and drove home. It was a pretty run. Perhaps it was for the better that I got some rest.

I ran the Caesar Rodney Half Marathon on Sunday. It was about what I expected in terms of overall time. There were certainly plenty of surprises though. The weather was nearly perfect. I actually didn't know what to wear. I went with regular short sleeves, but probably should've went with a singlet. I used the bathroom before the race, but there were long lines when I had to go again at the start. I passed on going then.

Although I felt like I went out easy, the first mile was just a blistering pace. Even with trying to slow a bit, I still ran it around 6:47. A lot of it was downhill, so I guess that shouldn't be a surprise. The pace throughout the first few miles was very fast. I was amazed at it. I didn't feel like I was working too hard, so I just continued to press on.

I continued to put in under 7 minute miles as we cruised along the waterfront. It was frustrating when I got to the 4 mile mark. We twisted and turned all throughout those first few miles. Because of it, my GPS said I actually ran 4.11 miles at that point. That was a bit frustrating. I guess I have to really work on taking the shortest route.

After the waterfront section, we headed slightly uphill back into town. That climb was a little rough, but overall not too bad. I ended up chatting with a guy for a bit during this section. We nearly got hit by a car that was pulling out and not looking. As we approached the big hill, he told me to pull ahead.

I had ran at a nice clip early on, but I definitely saved something for the climb during the middle portion. The hill wasn't steep, but it seemed never ending. There were some short, flat sections in between each climb. They were just long enough to catch your breath and get your legs back.

Even once I thought I was at the top, I still had some climbing to do. It was a slight uphill to the turnaround at a middle school. It seemed like forever until I started back down the hill. I took some Sport Beans at the top of the hill and it took awhile to swallow them. I hydrated quite a bit, but didn't take many of the Sport Beans.

Once I finally got to the downhill portion, it didn't seem like much of a decline. It didn't feel anywhere near as long as the climb. My quads were killing me, but I was able to open up my stride and cruise down hill. Every minor uphill destroyed me by this point though. There were a couple slight hills in this area too. I was pretty happy with where I was at at this point, but knew I was just in survival mode, not pick up the pace mode.

As if the middle of the course didn't have enough of a hill. The final quarter mile is all a slight uphill. Usually I have a strong finishing kick, but on this day, it didn't come until very late. I did pass a guy just before the finish though.

I was pretty happy with the way I ran the course. I planned on going out a little slower, but I didn't work that hard early on. I don't think that saving energy early on would've helped much. The uphill just took a lot out of me. I still wish I could get to the point where I could run very hard at the end of one of these races. I'm usually strong at the end, but just not strong enough to really turn it on.

I actually sort of just quit on the final mile and cruised home. I knew I was well inside my PR and nowhere near my better goal times. My GPS actually said that I ran an extra .17 miles and at a 7:01. I'm very happy with that. Hopefully next time, I'll run on a straighter course.

I was very happy that my IT band didn't act up. I wasn't very sore at all afterward either. It was sure a big different from my fall half marathon. I even got called into work and I worked for about 4 hours. I'm slightly sore from being on my feet all day, but it's really no worse than a hard training day.

I'm right around where I thought I was at this point. Obviously I have to extend my long runs, but I'm just so close to a potential Boston qualifier. I could probably do it with the right conditions. I'm going to work more on my speedwork, with some tempo runs and fartleks. I've done some speedwork, but really not enough of it. I'm going to go for broke when the spring marathon comes around too. I have nothing to lose.

Tomorrow is an easy run. I don't even remember the distance. Since I don't feel too bad right now and I'm off tomorrow, I'm sure I'll complete the scheduled run. For now, I just need to think about resting though.

13.1 miles 1:33:11 (7:07 pace)

147th of overall 1499
20th of 70 in age group

Friday, March 19, 2010

Easy Eight

This evening, I headed out for an easy eight mile run. I wanted to get up early and run in the morning before work. I was up too late watching the NCAA tournament though. Instead, I went for a run in the dark, after work. The weather was nearly perfect (in the upper 60s).

After a few miserable days last weekend, this week has had amazing weather. I did take it easy, but because of the excellent conditions, I might've been pushing it a little faster than I should've. Since I'm getting kind of bored running on Kelly Drive, I started at the Art Museum and ran along West River drive. I then ran to Lloyd Hall, to nearly finish the loop.

My legs were still a bit sore from the brutal hill workout the other day. My quads have especially taken a pounding lately. Hopefully they'll heel up a bit before Sunday's race. My right hamstring was pretty sore too. I was very pleased that my IT band didn't bother me at all though.

One thing that was annoying, was all the people without lights on their bikes. West River Drive isn't well lit, but I saw 4 bikes pass without lights. I was glad a few others that passed later on did indeed have lights.

I definitely don't feel like a ran hard. The pace felt comfortable, but it quick. The last mile and a half were tough on my sore legs, but I was able to speed up too. I definitely haven't gained speed with layers being removed. The injury time off I took recently, seems to have reduced my endurance. I'm still ready for the half marathon though.

Tomorrow morning, I'm going down to Delaware to pickup my race packet and run part of the course. I'd like to run the hilly segment. I need to actually take it very easy this time though. I will also drive the part of the course that I don't run.

8 miles - 1:00:13 (7:31 pace)

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Happy Trails

Today was another joyous and challenging trail run. Again, I headed out to the Forbidden Drive trails. I actually went out there on Wednesday morning, but decided to switch my 10 mile day and rest day, to recover better.

This time, I started on the northwest side of Valley Green. I first ran briefly out and back on Forbidden Drive, for a short warm up. Then it was straight uphill. During yesterday's short hike, I followed one path. This time, I took an upper route. That eventually led me off the trail completely. Luckily, I was able to get through the woods to the other trail. It actually crosses Valley Green Road.

One thing that I've been doing is always taking the uppper path. Why take the easier route? That sure makes it fun. It is also very taxing on the body though. Early on, I ran through some sticker bushes. That was no fun and I developed a few small cuts. One started bleeding. Shortly after that, I hit another run and lost the trail. After running down the road a bit, I found another trail and got back onto the park.

As I hit three and a half miles, I was already very exhausted. I wondered how I'd ever finish the run. It was supposed to be easy. The pace certainly was, but the effort required to climb wasn't. I just kept battling though.

Eventually I wound up on Bells Mill Road. After crossing the road, I wound up running through the trails in the nature area. That was a blast too. The start was a brutal uphill climb, but after that, it was fun. The trails wound through some nice areas, including a meadow. The coolest thing was seeing two deer, not once but twice. During the both encounters, they ran a little, but then just watched me. I was probably only 10 to 15 yards away the second time. They just started at me.

After running through that area, I made my way back along the eastern side of Forbidden Drive. I started off on the lower portion near the creek. That area was full of wet spots. One particular section was very muddy. My entire shoe nearly sunk into the mud. That was fun. Shortly after that, I followed a trail up along a waterfall. I also came across an indian sculpture that was carved out of rock.

I was thrilled that I didn't see any horses on the trail. I'm still not really sure how to get by them. I did encountered two dogs. The first one seemed to have a lot of energy as it ran past me. The second one was actually pacing me for a short distance, until it got to its owner.

I could've turned and finished up at Valley Green. Instead, I continued on on the lower trail. That was very rocky with some step like features. I was lucky not to twist my ankle. Finally when I hit a huge rock, I just turned around. I finished with a very short out and back run on Forbidden Drive.

In this heat (near 60 degrees), I probably could've used some more to drink. I might have to try strapping the new Camelbak on. It'll be nice when the trees grow in and there is shade on the trail. Until then, it is hot. I did eat some Sport Jelly Beans that I picked up. I think they gave me some energy, but not sure. What I did like is that they are tasty. Towards the end of the run, they were hard to chew, but I could still suck on them. They lasted longer than a GU Gel would.

I'm definitely falling in love with trails. Every step and every run is different. There's a lot of beauty to see, even though most things are still dead from the winter. I can't wait to watch the trees grow in. I really love the high degree of difficulty involved in trail running too. It's more along the lines of challenges that I like. Marathons aren't easy, but I don't see them as that big of a deal. A 50 mile trail run on the other hand, is a real challenge. I haven't even signed up for a spring marathon, but I'm already tempted to sign up for a fall 50 miler.

Tomorrow is an easy 8 mile run. I work at 12, so I might just run along the river before work. That or perhaps I'll head to the Heinz Wildlife Refuge. I'll likely save that for sometime next week though.

10 miles - 1:43:44 (10:22 pace)

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Speed Endurance Intervals

I had to work a couple extra hours today, so I couldn't run with the run club. It was a good thing, since the speed endurance intervals after work took a lot out of me. The 8.75 miles were a real challenge.

The weather was beautiful and it would've been great to get out and run in the afternoon. Instead, I ran at night. It was still nice and cool though. The workout called for 2 miles easy, 3 X 1 mile with 400 meter jogs in between and finally 3 miles easy.

Originally, I thought about heading to a track for the workout. I then realized that with my Garmin, I could keep tabs on the workout without running in circles. I headed out to Kelly Drive. I actually started with the Schuykill Banks loop.

The first mile was pretty easy and comfortable. A bit after that, a girl blew by me. I didn't want to run hard yet, so I let her go. I ended up passing a coworker, who was going for a walk. That "easy" mile actually went faster than it should've (7:03).

The third mile was where I really picked it up. The schedule called for 10K-5K pace. I went out in a blazing 6:41 mile. It actually wore me down quite a bit. I recovered though and ran pretty hard second and third segments as well.

My quads were very sore after the intervals and my right hip was hurting as well. Running a slow final three miles helped me recover better. I'm still quite sore though and I'm using the foam roller. It was definitely a taxing workout.

This speedy workout was definitely a good tuneup for this weekend's half marathon. I felt very fast and feel that I'm ready. I ran in my new shoes for the second time and that could be part of my soreness too. At least the IT band itself didn't start acting up.

Tomorrow is scheduled for an easy 10 miler. I'll probably hit the trails of Forbidden Drive though. If that's the case, it certainly won't be easy. Hopefully not as taxing as last week though. We shall see when I head out at mid morning.

8.75 miles - 1:04:59 (7:25 pace)

Monday, March 15, 2010

A Rough Few Days

Today was the first time I was able to run since Thursday. On Friday night, I was starting to get sick. That sickness ran all the way into Saturday. On Sunday, I headed up to Tobyhanna State Park to run on the trails. I forgot how much snow they had in the past storm. Even with all the rain, there was still a good six inches to a foot on most of the visible trail.

Even today's run didn't go very well. It has been a miserable few days weatherwise. It has been rainy and chilly. Walking back from work this evening, I got fairly wet. I knew that would make clothing selection tough and sure enough it did.

Because my jacket was already wet, I opted for ColdGear as a base layer. I didn't want to freeze if I was out for long and water started coming through the jacket. It turned out, the rain died down before I actually started running. The extra layer on top, combined with gloves and tights, caused me to be very hot.

I was able to get up early this morning, but couldn't get myself to start running. I was planning on a long and hard run and didn't want to do so before work. Plus, I hoped that the weather might clear up in the evening. It didn't and getting out the door at night was tough. As soon as I knew I was wearing too much, I backed off and elected for the regularly scheduled day. It was an easy 6 miler.

The first mile was very slow and sluggish. The extra clothes, combined with the long layoff, made it tough. I seriously thought about quitting early on. I just kept battling though and plugged away. I was able to catch a cute girl at one point.

It was still fairly windy. Even though I was hot underneath, I did need the wind protection. I'm really not sure how I should've dressed for this one. It was just one of those tough days. I eventually, somehow made it to the 3 mile point.

Shortly before turning around, a cute girl passed me going the other way. I ran pretty hard to catch her. She was actually moving at a good clip though. It took awhile for me to catch up to hear. Eventually I did though and also passed her. I continued to run hard through the finish.

One of the interesting spot along the run was at the Columbia Bridge. It is a low section of the river and must've been flooded over the weekend. There was a significant amount of water and mud on the path. I never really considered not running through it, even though I didn't have my trail shoes on. It was sloppy, but fun. Luckily, the river doesn't flood much and that is one of the few sections that does.

I need to work on getting to bed earlier and getting up earlier. That's a focus of mine this week. I want to get my runs in in the morning. Even though I'm running in the evening with the run club, I want to get in a morning workout tomorrow as well. I have an interval session scheduled. Hopefully I can crank that out before work.

Although I haven't run much lately, I still should be good to go for the half marathon this weekend. These last couple weeks have provided a nice taper of sorts. How I'll get back to high mileage afterwards is another question.

6 miles - 47:51 (7:58 pace)

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Back on the Roads

Other than Tuesday, when I ran with the run club, I haven't been on pavement since my injury. Today, I got back out onto Kelly Drive and ran an easy 8 miles. I went just past Falls Bridge and then back. It was a solid workout.

I put on my new shoes. They are the same shoe as my old ones. I want to break them in a little before my half marathon next weekend. There is nothing like the feel of new shoes. They make running seem so effortless.

I went out at a nice and comfortable pace. Perhaps I could've gone out easier, but I wasn't working that hard. I was running at night and I always enjoy that more than during the day. It was a little chilly though. There was a slight wind as well. I wore short sleeves with my compression sleeves. That worked out pretty well.

I felt good at the turnaround point. On the way back though, my legs started to become sore. My left calf, right hamstring and right IT band became minor problems. I think the lack of time on hard surfaces, combined with the difficult run that I put in yesterday, took its toll. I still had some energy, but my legs were beat.

I'm just glad my ankle didn't bother me at all. I think that was actually my problem and not my Achilles. Either way, it felt fine throughout the run. I hope I'm completely healed. I really think the Five Fingers contributed partly to that, so I'm going to stay off them in the near future.

Because my legs were so sore and I did a lot of hills yesterday, I elected to skip the 10 hill sprints. That was a good choice. I don't need to overdo it and get injured. Just adding more hilly trail runs should be a big help.

Tomorrow, I have another run down by the river. I'd like to run in the morning, but since I'm still quite sore, I'll likely wait until after work. I need to allow my body to recover. I'll probably head to my parents house for the weekend. I want to do a long trail run in the Poconos on Sunday. I might run a shorter trail run on Saturday as well.

8 miles - 1:00:59 (7:37 pace)

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Killer Trails

I made my way out to run some trails again today (technically yesterday I guess). This time, I ran the trails around Forbidden Drive. The schedule called for a progression run with 2 miles easy to start and 8 miles hard after that. Running trails is hard, so I didn't quite follow the workout, but I think I got the same effect.

I started off at Valley Green with a big climb. I tried to take it easy, but I knew it would be tough. I ran this early section before and it was flat after the beginning rise. That part was fun and I ran at a good clip.

It was after that where things got interesting. I went up and down and up and down, over and over again. I ran through an assortment of different areas, including next to a golf course and through a section of pine trees. I even ended up hitting a dead end to the trail in someone's backyard.

I led the run club on Tuesday night and felt like I was in good shape. I am, when compared to most of the running public. Trail running is a whole different animal. All the rises and descents are very taxing. I was incredibly gassed by mile 5 and unsure how I would even complete the run.

My times dropped significantly with each mile. I still managed to run most of the uphills, but they took a lot out of me. I did have to walk briefly over a couple of them. What really was tough was when you would descend and find the trail ended and then you would have to run back up it again. That happened a couple times.

I figured I wouldn't get lost, but I elected to take my cell phone with me in a small holder that I had. I wanted to have it, just in case I fell or something like that. There are some steep and dangerous sections of the trail. I dropped my phone on a downhill and luckily didn't break it.

I was so lost once again, but it was fun anyways. I knew there were really only a few trails and they all generally ran along the creek. I did end up crossing the creek at some point. I'm not even sure how that happened.

As I was close to the finish, I came across the small creek that I encountered last time I ran the trails there. This time, I decided to cross it. I couldn't find a good spot to go across without getting wet. The water was only ankle deep though. The best section appeared to be directly across the trail. I ran over there and found the water to be cold.

After that, there was another steep uphill. I was burnt out by that point, so I walked briefly. When I got back to Valley Green, I then ran a short out and back to complete the final 3/4 of a mile.

It's amazing that I'm considering running a 50 mile race on trails that I'm sure will be much tougher than this. I'm glad that this workout and that type of race provides quite a challenge. It's a whole different level of conditions from where I'm at now. I need to make it a point to get at least 2 of these tough trail runs in a week. They should really improve my road running. This workout seemed almost as taxing as the marathon itself and my body didn't get the wear and tear.

Trail running has become so much fun, but now it is back to the roads. Tomorrow will be an easy 8 mile run. Most likely, I'll head out after work. I was out pretty late tonight and don't think I'll be recovered by tomorrow morning. I'll probably head back out to Kelly Drive. Hopefully this weekend, I can get to some trails in the Poconos.

10 miles - 1:44:58 (10:29 pace)

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Run Club

Today was my first time leading the City Sports run club. It was a blast. We started off at the store and ran to Lloyd Hall and back. It was gorgeous weather for a run.

Running down Walnut Street with everyone out was quite interesting. We had to dodge a lot of people and cars. As I stopped at a light, there were several people still with me. I was worried that I wouldn't be able to go down to the Schuykill Banks loop from our side of Walnut. That wasn't a problem though.

When I started on the loop, I was really able to pick up the pace. A lot of people started dropping off. One guy hung with me quite well though, so I kept the pace fairly quick. I'm not sure if in the future, I should hold back a little bit.

As we hit the short hills, I could tell he was laboring. I slowed it down a bit then. It was really funny because I didn't realize that we were going to stop at Lloyd Hall. The pace was a little difficult for me, but I could've definitely kept it up for the rest of the run. Instead, we waited for the entire group to get to Lloyd Hall.

We then turned around and headed back. This time, in addition to the guy, a woman hung with me. The two of them ran together at a pretty good clip. I could tell the run was taking its toll on them though. They started to fall back, so I slowed the pace a bit. They basically wanted to walk up the stairs, while I preferred to run them. I waited at the top for them to catch up though. We ran together down Walnut Street. The woman backed off quite a bit towards the end.

I was impressed to hear that she was 42 years old. She looked about 10 years younger and was in good shape. The pace definitely wasn't easy for her, but I'm sure it was a good workout. She said she had run some marathons before, including Boston.

I was worried before the run that the pace would be too slow or that we might have someone very fast that would make me work really hard. The workout was actually perfect. It wasn't too easy, but wasn't too difficult either. I'll run with them again and likely add it as my second run of the day. I might have to work on pacing a little more, but that'll come with more runs.

It was fun to socialize a bit too. I got to talking with the woman and guy that I ran with for most of the run. I also had dinner with one of the employees from the store and also the Mizuno rep who ran with us. All in all, it was a good time.

Tomorrow, I'm thinking I'm going to hit the trails again. I'll like head over to the Forbidden Drive area. The short run today, didn't bother my injury, but I want to go out in the trails again anyways. The rest of the week, I'll try to get back on the pavement. This has turned out to be an excellent taper for the half marathon. Hopefully my Achilles is fully healed.

4.25 miles - 35:11 (8:17 pace)

Monday, March 8, 2010

Ridley Creek State Park

I'm starting to become addicted to trails. Today was another fun one at Ridley Creek Park. It is in Delaware County and about 45 minutes away. The drive was worth it though and I'll definitely go back.

The weather was a beautiful near 60 degree day. I forgot to mention that Saturday was excellent weather too. I started near the parking lot on what I thought was the yellow trail. I think I actually had to get off a little bit to follow the actual yellow trail. I was very discouraged because this section was paved. Luckily, it was only a short loop back to the office.

I then hit the paved portion of the park in search of some real trails. I quickly found exactly what I was looking for, in a short muddy and snowy trail segment. I was disappointed that it ended so quickly and that I was back one of the paved park roads again.

After running down the road for awhile, I eventually ended up on the real yellow trail. It was quite a treat. I encountered some tough early hitting. That section of trail was pretty short as well.

It wasn't until a few moments later, when I found the white trail, that things became fun. The white trail was appropriately named for the section that I started out on. It was covered in snow. Of course it was uphill too. It was quite a trek to get up it. My feet didn't slip, but I had to work extra hard to get up the hill.

A lot of the various trails were then interconnected. From time to time, I had to cross a road, but most of the time, I was able to spend on the trail. The uphill portions were extremely tough. I definitely need to get stronger with running on those on trails. They took a lot out of me. I basically had to walk for a short stretch at one point.

The trails provided every challenge I could've asked for. In addition to the hills, there was a great mixture of mud and snow. It made for some interesting terrain to run on. One section had some sticker bushes that fell onto the trail. I had to be careful getting around them. Of course, there were plenty of rocks and roots around as well. Most of the water crossings had bridges on them. There was a small section of stream where I had to cross on the rocks. I didn't get wet though.

I was actually kind of lost for most of the run. I just kept randomly following trails. I figured that I'd eventually find a familiar road. Sure enough, I did and decided to run back along the road. I went by some horse stables and finished up where I started. It was just over an hour after the run began. There are 12 miles of trails at the park and I hope to eventually get to know them well. Today was a blast and I'll be back.

I'm definitely addicted to trail running. I wish I could find sections where I could run for miles and miles. The problem with that though is I could get lost. Nice and short routes like this are very helpful. Eventually I will get stronger and learn how to navigate trails better. Then I can really have some long adventures.

My left big toe hurt me during the run, but the rest of my body felt good. My hamstring is a little sore now, but my IT band only had very minor problems today. I had no issues at all with my Achilles. The softer impact on trails is definitely a big help. I am going to run them more frequently now, in an attempt to stay healthy. I will just have to travel a little.

I actually walked around the John Heinz Wildlife Sancuary before my run. That has some flat trails, which I might run in the future. I'm considering heading to the Forbidden Drive trails in the morning tomorrow. I am leading the run club at City Sports at night. I might want to get in a better workout on a softer surface before that though. We'll see how I feel in the morning.

6.31 miles - 1:00:21 (9:34 pace)

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Batona Trail

Well it has been awhile since I got out and ran. I decided to just completely rest my injured Achilles all week, rather than bike. The weather wasn't terrible this week, but it was windy, so I passed on cycling.

I've been reading a lot about trails lately. Instead of hitting the hard roads, I decided to head out for some trail running. I wanted a soft trail and also a flat one. Therefore, I headed about 40 miles east into the New Jersey pine barrens and ran on the Batona Trail.

It is nearly a 50 mile trail through the pine barrens. The parking lot was still covered in snow and the dirt road into the trail was rough. I don't think I actually found the trail itself. I believe it has white blazes. I saw those with a hiking sign, but I never did see the main trail head. I did pick up a map where the trail head is supposed to be. That wasn't a help though.

A guy with a 4 wheel drive wished me good luck when I started. I was wondering what he was driving around for. I started off south down a dirt road. I then found and trail and started running through it. My GPS didn't get a signal, so I ran without it.

I quickly found out that this section has many trails in it, so it could be easy to get lost. I turned a couple times, but tried to mostly stay in a straight path. I didn't have my cell phone on me, so I wanted to stay safe.

The trails themselves were a blast. Most of the soil is the typical sandy type found in New Jersey. Since it is somewhat wet still, it makes for good running in most sections. There are also a lot of sections that are covered in pine needles. It looked neat and was a refreshing change from the boring city loops.

There were just so many challenges on the trail. Some sections still had snow. There were a lot of areas where trees had fallen onto to the path. I often had to leap over them, run under them or go around them. It made for a fun obstacle course.

One nice thing is that there are a lot of dirt roads running through the forest. Even if I got lost, I'd eventually come to one and it could help me find my way to a main road. After running through the trails for awhile, I came to a paved road. I'm still not actually sure what it was. I crossed it and stayed straight on the trail for most of the remainder of the run.

Since I haven't run in awhile, I started to tire out. After 30 minutes, I elected to turn around. I didn't have too much trouble following my path back. It was helpful that I had made footprints in the snow.

Eventually, I lost track though. Thanks to the sun, I still had a good idea which direction I was heading. I just kept heading west. I came out to one of the dirt roads. I then found one that lead to the highway. I thought it was the road the I parked on.

It turns out, it was south of that. I ran north, hoping I was going the right direction. I came across another runner. He was the only guy that I saw the whole time. It turned out that it was the guy who was driving around earlier.

I turned up the road and found my car. I ended up finishing in around an hour after the short detour. I talked to the guy for quite awhile. He is big into orienteering. That is a way to navigate through the woods to find different markers. Sounds like fun, but I would get lost. I was just glad that didn't happen today.

My Achilles held up fairly well. Towards the end of the run, it felt sore at times. That mostly happened when I pushed off on the uneven footing. I'm now using the foam roller to work the tension out of there.

I actually work at 8 hour shift tomorrow. I'm not sure if I am going to rest or get out and run or bike. Rest might be the best option. I am off Monday and Tuesday. On Monday, I'd like to do some more trail running. Tuesday, I'm going to run with the run club. I really hope my Achilles can hold up for a couple weeks. I'd at least like to get through the half marathon.

Today was a blast and the hour seemed to end quickly. I'm definitely going to incorporate more trail running into my training. It is certainly a good change up from the rigors of road running. Every step is different and interesting. I just wish I had more trails around here to run on. Most of them aren't very long.

Monday, March 1, 2010


Today certainly wasn't a fun run. I was hoping that the soreness in my Achilles Tendon at the end of Friday's run would heal by Sunday. As I was walking around, it became obvious that it hadn't. I wasn't in any real discomfort, but I did feel some minor soreness. Rather than risk running my scheduled hard long run, I took the day off on Sunday.

It was a decision that I regretted because I don't like missing days. However, after heading out today, I quickly found out that it was the right decision. I felt pretty good today and thought about running the hard run a day later.

I decided I would head out and let my body decide whether I would do the hard day or easy day. It was much warmer than recently, but still very windy. I knew I'd have trouble running hard against the wind. I also didn't feel that great as I started off. After a mile, I sped up a bit. I quickly realized that wasn't going to work though and opted for the easy 5 mile day.

I felt alright as I headed out along West River Drive. Going against the wind wasn't a lot of fun, but I've had worse days. The Achillies did feel a little stiff. It wasn't until shortly after the turnaround point that it really started to bother me. It got worse and worse as I ran on. I wanted to make it to mile 4 and if I really pushed it, I could've.

It was really becoming a problem though, so after 3.65 miles, I shut it down. I walked back Lloyd Hall and tried to stretch the muscle out. I know it is wise not to push through, so I didn't. I really think lifting weights and combining that with the hard pounding of running took its toll. Hopefully I caught it before it was too late.

I don't want to put my long term running in jeopardy. Therefore, I am going to rest for at least the remainder of the week. I will get out and do some non impact cycling instead. Hopefully that'll allow the Tendon time to heal and recover. I'll try to cycle for as long as I would normally run. That'll keep my fitness up. I might test the injury out on Friday, but until then, I'm going to back off.

I'm starting to reconsider my marathon plans too. Going out to Minneapolis is going to be expensive. I'm also not crazy about signing up for the marathon if I might get injured (like I am now). I feel like other than the injury, my conditioning is good. I know I still need some long runs of over 20 miles and to fine tune my speed. Other than that, I think I'm right where I need to be to qualify for Boston.

I might try readjusting my schedule and running the Pocono Marathon in May instead. I still will have time to put in the training that I need to in order to make it to Boston. The Caesar Rodney Half Marathon in three weeks might be the deciding factor on whether I opt for the May or June marathon.

I'd really just love to get a BQ so I can sort of relax over the summer. I'll rest longer after the marathon if that is the case. I'll still keep my miles fairly high when I come back, but I'll concentrate on faster stuff and the Blue Eagle 5K.

3.65 miles - 28:24 (7:47 pace)