Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Back With a Threshold Run

My calves were extremely sore when I woke up yesterday morning. The hilly 23 miler really took a beating on me. It was odd, because that area isn't typically sore. Stiffness, might be a better way to describe it. Because of the calves, I took yesterday off from running. Getting through my 8 hour shift with sore calves and a sore back was quite difficult.

I woke up today with the stiffness remaining. I was off from work completely though and decided that I had to run. The workout called for a speedwork session. I was unsure if I should run the threshold run in my condition. I figured I'd let the 2 mile warm up make the decision.

After the first 2 miles, I had to run 2 repeats of 15 minutes each at half marathon pace with 3 minute active recoveries in between. The run then finished up with two more easy miles. I had decided that they best place to run this would be a softer surface. I drove up to the Delaware River Canal path. I parked and started at Washington's Crossing State Park.

The weather was tough to gauge. The temperature was great, but the sun kept going in and out. It was also very windy. I was unsure what to wear. I opted for my long sleeve tech shirt from the Casear Rodney Half Marathon. That turned out to be a good decision.

The first mile was on the slow side, but my legs didn't feel bad as I started on the flat gravel path. The calves didn't bother me at all. This is actually a great route for doing speedwork. I passed a couple people throughout the route, but for the most part the path is clear.

As I hit the second mile, it was obviously that I was going to do the speedwork session. I actually didn't have to pick the pace up too much. I ran pretty consistently around a 6:50 pace during each mile of both speed sessions. That's a bit faster than half marathon pace, but not faster than I can handle right now.

At times, the headwind was tough on the first repeat. That repeat was on the way out (north). The time seemed to go by pretty quickly and I was running nice and smooth. There isn't much to see along the path and that also makes it a good session for focusing on your speed. I finished the first session right after passing a guy and I was pretty tired.

The three minute recovery was a big help though. It got me reenergized for the second repeat. I started off pretty fast in that one and had to slow a bit. The same thing actually happened on the first one as well. I was on my way back and I cruised along the path. I checked my watch every few minutes and the time ticked away pretty quickly. That last 4 or 5 minutes were definitely tough, but I pushed through, knowing that it was almost over.

The toughest part of the run was actually the final two miles easy. They just seem to drag on forever after a faster early pace. The first half mile really seems the longest too. After getting through the first mile, things weren't as bad. The only issue was a couple road crossing and the area by Washington's Crossing has much bigger rocks. My left calf and right hamstring were starting to get sore as usual. When I got back to the park, I still had half a mile to run, so I had to go south for a short out and back.

It felt good to finish up. My legs were bothered a little, but I didn't really beat my body up too much. It was definitely a workout that I could handle. I wasn't sure if that would be the case after the 23 miler. I jumped back into it and felt good though.

One thing that is bothering me lately is my left big toe. It was very sore during and after last week's rocky trail run. Using it to push off caused some problems. It bothered me again during the 23 miler, but went away. I didn't notice it too much today during the run, but it was a little sore afterward, when I was wearing my Five Fingers. Luckily, there isn't much pain yet and I can run through it. I just hope it isn't a stress fracture. I'll just have to monitor it and stay off trails for awhile.

Originally, I tried to cram all my runs in this week, even after the long run was pushed back a day. I just decided it would be wiser to just start tapering, instead of risking injury. I got my longest run in already, so I'm good to go. This will still be a 50 mile week. I was just hoping to top 60 miles. That is a barrier that I haven't reached yet. Hopefully, I'll get there in the summer.

I actually open tomorrow at work. I work from 9-4. That'll be an interesting shift. I've never started before 11 AM. I switched with Bianca though. Because of that, I'll be getting my run in later. I only have 5 miles to run, plus some hill sprint. I'll probably just head over to Kelly Driver after work.

9.15 miles - 1:07:54 (7:25 pace)

Monday, April 26, 2010

Final Long Run

Well after a delay, I finally got in my final long run of this marathon training cycle. It was a challenging 23 miler in the rain. I wanted to run the marathon course on Sunday, but held off because of the rain. This morning, I ran back at my parents house because I had no choice. This is now my second longest run ever. It is second only to my first marathon.

I had hoped things would clear up, but they obviously didn't. After running for over a week straight, it was nice to have two straight days off. That allowed my body to recover, although I was quite slow and stagnant early on.

I knew this would be a difficult run requiring multiple loops. I decided to start by combining some of the toughest track routes together. I parked near the center of town. I first ran the Flurer's loop. That is a difficult and hilly loop around the old folks home, Gracedale. There is actually a shorter Gracedale loop as well. The Flurer's loop adds an extra challenging hill.

I wore my rain jacket for this first loop. The rain was fairly hard when I started, but quickly died down. I was way too hot. As soon as this loop finished, around 4.5 miles, I took off my jacket and changed to a short sleeve shirt and compression sleeves. At the beginning of the route, I had to use the bathroom. Towards the end of the loop, I had to make a second longer trip. Luckily, there is a portable bathroom at a baseball field near the town circle.

After the first loop, I decided to add track's most challenging run. That is Red Bridge. It consists of a very steep climb to near where the Andretti's live. There's then a steep descent and another ascent. I added a longer and flat section to this run too. The first hill didn't bother me much, but the second hill was a struggle.

I was a bit worried as I cruised downhill. My big toe started to get sore. I was hoping that it wasn't fractured. I think I irritated it while running over rocks during the trail run last week. After a little while, the pain went away though.

I felt pretty good as I headed back to the car. I was just past the halfway point when I got there. Even though I was feeling okay, I was still questioning how I'd be able to run 11 more miles. This always seems to be the case at the midway point, but I always seem to survive.

I decided to run the Flurer's loop again. I was out of ideas on where to run. As I got to Flurer's, after struggling a little uphill, I decided to run out on Route 946. I planned to do this for a mile and then come back. This would add some flat distance. The rain really started to pickup at this point. I cruised along and ran my fastest miles during this portion. I passed into Lower Nazareth Township and nearly headed all the way to my parents house. This was the 4th township that I ran through, plus the borough of Nazareth.

Getting up the last hill by Gracedale was somewhat challenging. It is amazing how much tougher these hills seemed during track though. They certainly aren't easy, but I'm in the best shape of my life. Adding hills to my workouts has really paid off too.

The hill was somewhat tough, but it was the rain that was becoming a pain. My shirt was pretty good against the rain, but after over 10 miles with it on, it became soaked. My nipples were starting to bother me. When I got back to the car again, I was at mile 19.4. I changed out of my shirt and put on a dry one. I put my jacket back on too. I knew I'd be hot, but figured it didn't matter for this final stretch.

I had less than 4 miles to go. I wasn't really sure where to run though. I went back towards the high school. I didn't want anything to do with hills, so it was tough to find a route. I thought about going east past the high school, but as I got to the road I wanted to take, I could see the shoulder was flooded. It was a steeper downhill too, compared to what I remembered. I decided instead to run through the flat neighborhood around the school. I was struggling a bit at this point, but I weaved in and out, adding miles to the route.

There was one more climb from the school back into town. It isn't too steep, but it was tough this late in the run. I got up it and was relieved. I then went down one road a couple blocks to added some distance. I was inside the final mile and needed to cover a little more ground. I ran back through the circle in town and finished up just over a block away. I was sore, but actually felt like I could've run another mile or so.

I think running hills rather than flat was a big help. It kept my pace slow. I run too fast on flats and often somewhat out of control. The hills didn't beat me up as much as I thought that would. I was certainly very sore, but actually seemed better than some of my other runs. It was certainly better than last week's concrete sidewalk heavy 18 miler.

I feel like I'm ready for the marathon. I have three runs of 20+ miles under my belt. I actually want to get even more of these as I train for my fall marathon. I want to become so used to them that I can actually speed up at the end of the marathon, rather than hang on.

It would've been nice to run the actual course and use my times to come up with a game plan. This was still a very good and challenging workout. I feel as though I'm ready for the race. The hill work I've been putting in has been huge. I'm so much stronger than I was before my fall marathon. It is like night and day.

I was relieved that they cut me from work this evening. I was pretty sore and would've struggled, even with a short shift. I'm not sure how to run the rest of the week. I want to get in all my runs, so I can run over 60 miles. I was hoping to just swap easy and hard days around. That might be tough though. Tomorrow's run would wind up being 10 miles. I'm likely going to run on a trail, so my legs don't take a pounding. I'll shoot for 10 miles, but really I'll just see how I feel. It'll be tough too because it is supposed to still rain in the morning. We shall see.

23 miles - 3:12:35 (8:22 pace)

Friday, April 23, 2010

Back to Memorial Hall

Originally, I was just going to walk to the river and then run. It was quite windy and very chilly though, when I stepped out the door. The forecast was supposedly 54 degrees and felt like 54. No way that was the case though. I quickly went back in the house and got my car keys. I decided I'd drive up to Memorial Hall and run again.

The run was an easy 4 miler. I figured I'd run the 5K course from last week, plus nearly another mile. This time, I wanted to run the full course, including the portion that we cut off during the race. It was great at the start, not nearly as windy.

I felt a little sluggish early on. It has been a long week and now a new mileage high of 57 miles. The first half mile of this run seemed to drag on forever. It got much better as a made it around to the back of the course though. The Japanese House and Horticultural Center are beautiful.

Even though there are some paved running paths, I mostly stuck to the roads. This actually a great area for a short run, because few cars travel the roads around there. The roads do curve a lot, but there isn't much elevation change.

I actually started to shortcut the course again in the same section. Then I realized my mistake and backtracked. I nearly turned at the wrong spot at another location too. I noticed that mistake as well though.

The race flew by so fast last week that I really didn't even notice a lot of the course. I don't remember running past my car early on, but I guess I did. At that point, I was trying to slow down a little because of the killer early pace. I also don't remember running behind Memorial Hall, but obviously we had to. I was able to take in much more of the scenery this time around.

Needless to say, my pace was much slower this time. I cruised to the 5K point around 23 minutes. I then looped around similar to the start. I finally finished up near the car.

The pace was nice and easy and it was great way to end the week. It was a good recovery run that didn't put much stress on my body. My toe was a little sore, I presume from trail running yesterday.

I look forward to tomorrow's total rest day and camping with my dad. I might hike some of the trails around the lake. I'd like to get a feel for their layout. I don't want to overwork my body though. I'm also very ready for my 23 mile long run on the actual marathon course. We'll see how I do. It will be a key to planning out my race strategy.

4 miles - 31:31 (7:53 pace)

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Just Another Challenging Trail Run

This afternoon, I went out for a very challenging 11 mile trail run at Wissahickon. That is the longest trail run I have done. It was fairly hot out too, so that made it tough. At least it was shaded though.

I started off running on the east side of the trail. This time I started on a different section than I typically do. It was a longer and more gradual climb. It was definitely tough, but not as tiring as usual. I passed two people riding horseback at the top of the trail.

There was still plenty of climbing and lots of rocks after the initial climb. It wasn't nearly as bad as some of the other sections though. I was able to fly through some sections though. I came out and could see Bells Mill Road below. I didn't want to run down and back up.

I ended up running through an open field that they are now clearing with construction vehicles. I followed some blue flags, but it led to nowhere. I then turned around and ran back. I was getting pretty dehydrated by that point. I was relieved when I finally made it back and sipped some Gatorade.

Following that stop, I ran along the lower trail on the west side of the park. I ran north this time, rather than south. This section is quite rocky, although I remember it being worse than it actually was. I did have to slow down through some of the terrain though. It was deceptive too, because there were a lot of small rolling hills.

One section was basically like a small creek with water flowing across it. I slowly navigated through it. I did have to cross an actual small creek later on. My new North Face shoes did hold up pretty well on that. There were a lot of other sites too as I made my way along the trail. There's a pedestrian bridge. There was a beach type area along the main creek, with some teenagers swimming and sunbathing in it.

I eventually came out and crossed a bridge. That led me to an area of Forbidden Drive that I am familiar with. I came across some more horses. I decided to walk by them. I then ran down Forbidden Drive for a bit, so I wouldn't come up behind them.

I eventually made my way back to the car on the trail. I was very exhausted by this point. I found myself walking for briefs periods. This happened quite often, especially on rocky sections. It was a struggle to finish. It was definitely one of my most difficult runs ever.

When I got back to Valley Green, I ran out almost another mile. I then came back and finished right in front of Valley Green. The last mile and a half or so was pretty comfortable. It was a relief to finish.

My new trail shoes weren't bad, but they did cause some problems. My trail socks were too thick and I nearly blistered. I rolled my ankles quite a few times with my shoes. I bought them a half size bigger than my other trail shoes. I might have to make sure my laces are tighter in the future. I really don't want to get seriously injured.

Speaking of injury, I really need to learn how to run downhill better. I don't extend my stride, but I don't slow down either. Eventually, I might trip on a rock or root and hopefully won't cause myself to be injured.

I continue to be amazed at how well trails allow my legs to recover. They were very sore after yesterday's 10 mile run. After this exhausting 11 mile run, I wasn't sore at all. I feel great, but still might go on the foam roller.

It is amazing how much energy I still have too. I drove by Kelly Drive and almost wanted to run again, even after the tough run was over. I actually seriously considered riding my bike in the evening.

Tomorrow is a very easy 4 mile run. That'll probably happen fairly early in the AM. I don't work until 4, but it'll be nice to get the run out of the way. That'll be a new high mileage week of 57 miles. I'll take a much needed rest day on Saturday too. Sunday, I'll be camping and will run some of the marathon course.

11 miles - 1:49:38 (9:58 pace)

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Long Recovery Run

Today, I headed out the door for a recovery run, following yesterday's speedwork. Usually, these type of runs are 6 miles or less. This one was 10 miles though. That made it quite difficult.

I only had a little over 12 hours between runs, so that made things worse too. As I started out on the Schuykill Banks loop, I didn't feel too bad. I was a little slow, but my legs weren't sore. It was pretty warm out though and I didn't hydrate enough during the run.

I didn't feel great or terrible early on, it was somewhere in between. I churned through the miles, but they did seem to take awhile. Although it was hot, there was also quite a breeze and I struggled running against it.

As I hit the halfway point or so, my body started deteriorating. My times didn't slow, but I started to feel more sluggish and sore. I continued to just battle mile after mile. It was a big relief to make it to Falls Bridge.

The run back was quite tough. It was only 3.5 miles, but it just seemed like forever. My body needed more recovery time or a shorter run. Throughout the whole run, I had to try to tell myself to slow down. I wasn't working hard, but my times seemed too fast. I hit a couple miles right around a 7:41 pace. I wanted to be closer to 8 minutes.

Eventually, things got the better of me and I got a side sticker and had to slow down. That happened between the Strawberry Mansion Bridge and Columbia Bridge. That finally slowed me to under 8 minutes. After recovering though, I was back under 8 minutes for each of the final two miles. Another side sticker forced me to slow towards the finish, after I had tried to pick up the pace.

Thankfully, I don't get side stickers very often more. I think that probably occurred because of the lack of fluids. I probably should've stopped at the grandstand water fountain. My legs really took a beating towards the end too. They were quite sore. Using the foam roller afterward helped, but they were very sore again after work.

My body has just taken a beating lately. It hasn't fully recovered from the fast 5K on Saturday and tough sidewalk pounding 18 miler on Sunday. This Saturday's rest will be much needed. Ideally, I should've run a shorter distance today. Six miles would've made for a better recovery run. It is hard to believe that it is only Wednesday and I'm already up to 42 miles this week. My maximum miles during training for the first marathon, was only 40 miles.

Tomorrow won't exactly be a rest day either. I planned for a tough 11 mile trail run. Hopefully my legs won't take as much of a pounding and I'll get through it better. If not, perhaps I'll cut back on mileage. I got my new North Face trail running shoes and I think I'll try them out. Not sure which trail I'll actually run on.

1:18:44 (7:53 pace)

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Ladders at Night

I love challenging Tuesday speedwork sessions. Today was no different. I wanted to get up before work, but I thought I was too sore. It appears that I really wasn't though, as I felt good later in the morning. I headed out after work for a speedwork session.

The workout was ladder interval. After 2 miles easy, I ran 1 min, 2 min, 3 min, 2 min, 1 min, 2 min and 3 min. Each of those was followed by a recovery run period of equal time. Finally, the workout ended with 2 miles easy.

The first 2 miles are a great warm-up. I try to get faster as it goes on and I get closer to the speed intervals. The intervals are supposed to be from 3K-10K pace. I was definitely consistent in that area, from 5:52 pace to a 6:12 pace. I am really doing a good job of learning my pace at this point.

The first few intervals were great, as I headed to Falls Bridge. It was perfect weather and I was cruising along. I worked on keeping a nice and smooth form. I guess I did tense up a bit as my shoulder became sore. I tried to loosen up and shake my arms to get the tension out.

Time always flies by on these runs and before you know it, you are nearly to the halfway point or done. The first interval happened to be uphill, as did the interval at the foot of Falls Bridge. I turned around on the hill, just before the bridge. That uphill interval was hard work.

Coming back, the last few intervals took quite a bit of effort. I wasn't completely dead, but I did really have to push myself. It sure wasn't easy. I would've needed a longer recovery period to run another interval. The last 3 minute interval seemed like forever. It was a relief to finally be done.

The final two easy miles were very difficult. My calves and hip were quite sore. My hamstring bothered me a little too. Even though the miles were both under 8 minute pace, they seemed like forever. I guess that is what happens after running some intervals at a pace 2 minutes faster. I finished uphill to the Art Museum. I was thrilled to be done.

My body seems to really be struggling from the last few days. My hip hasn't been this sore in weeks. I used the foam roller, but I need to do more before bed. I need to get my hips, calves and hamstrings loosened up.

Tomorrow, I'm running 10 miles easy. I don't work until 4 PM. I'll probably head out Pennypack Park. I haven't run there in awhile. I need to rest a bit and recover before heading out to the run.

8.15 miles - 59:00 (7:14 pace)

Monday, April 19, 2010

Boston Marathon and Van Cortlandt Park

Rather than run in Worcester again (which I didn't enjoy much the first day), I decided to save the run until later. I figured I'd be stuck in traffic in NYC anyways, so why not run at historic Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx. It is one of the most famous cross country courses in the country and has hosted numerous championships.

So I headed from Worcester to Wellesley (where I planned to watch the marathon). I stopped at a Dunkin' Donuts and it was packed. I thought it was because of the race, apparently not. On the highway to Wellesley, I saw bus after bus taking the runners to the start. That got me a little watery eyed.

I started driving toward the center of town, and quickly found the road blocked. I parked at a nearby shopping center and walked over. I wandered around the course a bit. It was before 9 AM and the race didn't even start until 9:22. There was plenty of real estate still available.

I took some photos, including one of the halfway point. I was surprised that they didn't have a timer there. Maybe they put one up later on. I realized that I would be better off setting up on the other side of the street, so I didn't have to cross the street during the race. That proved to be a good strategy. I found a section of curb that jutted out. It was perfect for photos. It turned out that I was actually in front of the park that they suggested setting up at on one of the webpages that I read.

It took awhile for the first wheelchairs to come through. They really fly and the lead pack was all together. They were there in around 40 minutes. They are so inspiring. I'm not sure I would be able to do the same if I was in their position. Seeing a few mentally handicapped people being pushed in wheelchairs was pretty cool too. I did miss Dick Hoyt pushing his son. That's too bad.

The elite women had a bit of a breakaway when they came through. The men were altogether with Ryan Hall leading the way. He eventually took 4th and Meb was 5th. Not what we were hoping for, but still a great showing by the Americans.

The marathon was fun. The crowd support was amazing. I can't even imagine running all 26.2 miles with that many people watching. It has to be astounding. I can't wait to run it. Hopefully I won't get too emotional. That might be tough for me though.

I got to Van Cortlandt before 4:30. I didn't have a second set of running clothes, so I used some of my stuff from yesterday. I started off walking through the paved trail. Once I walked over the pedestrian bridge over the highway, I began to run. It started with a tough run uphill on the cinder surface. As soon as I could, I found a dirt trail and ran on it. I was hoping to find the cross country course. I also wanted to give my legs some nice recovery.

The trail ended after a mile or so and I had to backtrack. It was good though because some of the sections were getting muddy and I didn't have the shoes for that. I ran around the stadium and pool, this time on pavement. The pool was beautiful. I then looped back near the start.

Most of the rest of the run was on the looped paths in the northern side of the park. They are a mixture of stone and old pavement. The inclines have wooden boards every so often. They are quite annoying and slowed me down. I wasn't very fast anyways though, as my legs hadn't fully recovered from yesterday's run and today's long drive.

A lot of high school teams were doing workouts on the trails. I came up behind a fairly fast male runner. It was annoying though because he wasn't pushing much. After following him for a bit, I blew by him. I was glad he didn't follow. I didn't really want to have to go fast, I just didn't like his pace. I quickly cut off the main path anyways.

For awhile I was getting worried. I didn't have a clue where I actually was. The sun was my only compass. I figured I wouldn't get lost in such a small park. At that point, I still had well over a mile and a half to go anyways. I didn't want to go too far north though.

Around the five mile mark, I finally got my bearings. I did a couple loops of the areas that I knew, so that I wouldn't get lost. I ran back over the bridge and flew by the high school teams and their coach. I might've opened up my stride a little bit then. I'd never actually show off though. I finally finished up at my car near the horse stables.

The park wasn't bad, but it wasn't that great either. Some parts are nice and others are run down. It won't win park of the year or worst park either. The history of the place is impressive, it is ashame it isn't in better condition all throughout. It sure has a lot of options and challenging hills. I didn't run any hill sprints after the workout, because the run was hilly enough. Even though it wasn't overly impressive, I'm still glad I ran there.

Tomorrow I have some ladder intervals scheduled. I will get out and run them early in the morning. I work from 12-7 tomorrow. It'll be great to have the workout out of the way first. It should take me about an hour to complete.

6 miles - 50:06 (8:21 pace)

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Worcester Long Run

Originally, I was going to run early in the morning before leaving for Massachusetts. I decided it would be wiser to run when I got there. I knew my legs would be sore after 18 miles and driving for 5+ hours would be tough.

I got into Worcester around 2 in the afternoon. I asked the hotel clerk where to run at. He suggested a nearby park. When I got there, it I could tell it was way too small. I saw a sign for what looked like a much bigger park a few miles away.

I decided to run out of town. It was a beautiful start to the route, with some very big and obviously expensive houses. Some of them even had gates. I started off mostly by climbing. There were a lot of rolling hills. Most of the hills were uphill on the way out though. They seemed never ending and became very frustrating.

I continued to press on though, mile after mile. I kept hoping that things would eventually change or I'd wind up getting to the park. I passed Assumption College and plenty of housing complexes and woods. One complex was actually named Salisbury Hill. I didn't see how it got that name since all of Salisbury Road was a hill!

Finally after a little over 5 miles, I gave up my quest for the lake. I still don't know where it is actually at or if I was even close to it. The turnaround was a huge relief though. It was almost all downhill and my time was cut dramatically. I cruised with little effort. That was fun. It was also a lot like my marathon run will be in a few weeks.

I finally got back into town. I tried to loop around the park that the clerk told me about. The trail ended shortly though and I wound up in an apartment complex. I then headed back into town.

I needed some fluids pretty badly by this point. I came prepared and brought money with me to pickup a drink. I had only eaten some Sport Beans and salt packets up to that point. I got a Gatorade at the local market and continued on my way. After drinking about 2/3 of it, I tried running with it. It was too cold and heavy to carry though, so I threw it away.

I was hoping to run to the College of Holy Cross. Instead, I just ended up running 1 mile to 1 1/2 miles into the dumpy southern section of town. I passed by two strip clubs and a lot of run down buildings. I turned around and headed home.

By this point, my legs were really starting to bother me. Today was supposed to be an easier long run than the last couple weeks. It was a way to cut back. Instead, I ran on a lot of sidewalks and my legs to a real pounding.

Despite the soreness, I was determined to finish. As I was heading back out of town, a girl passed me on her route. I ran behind her for a bit and then passed her. She turned one way and I went the other. The path I chose, climbed uphill again. I sputtered and just focused on getting to mile 16. I finally did that and turned around. When I got back to the hotel, I still had about .7 miles to go.

I ran around downtown a little more and then finished up. My legs were unbelievably sore. They haven't taken a pounding like this in awhile. I think running on the softer Forbidden Drive surface back in Philly has been a big plus to savings my legs. I made sure to massage them quite a bit after the run. I didn't bring my foam roller along, but I did use the Stick.

Tomorrow, I'm going to head out for an easy 6 miler. It was supposed to include hill sprints, but I think I'll just run on the hills of Salisbury again. I might loop around Assumption College too. I have to get up early and get my run in. After it, I'm heading to the Boston Marathon. I plan on staking out a place around the midway point in Wellesley. I'm about a half an hour from the start. It should take be another 15 minutes or so to get to Wellesley.

18 miles - 2:22:15 (7:54 pace)

Saturday, April 17, 2010

An Outstanding Surprise

You typically know that the hard work you are putting in is leading to improvements, but sometimes it takes a race to see just how much. That was the case as I ran Step Up, Step Out Walk/Run for the Red Cross this morning. I'm not doing any 5K training, but I ran the race faster than I ever have and far better than I could've predicted.

I took home 3rd place overall and was the 2nd male to finish, after an astonishing 18:40 time. My goal coming in was modest, just to break 20 minutes. That would've been a nice step. This was great. I sort of knew from my speedwork sessions, that I could run around this fast. I just didn't really think I could string together 3 miles at that pace.

The start of the race was a sign of things to come. The eventual winner asked me at the beginning if I knew where we were turning. I wasn't sure. I'm not used to being that far up front. He did actually miss the turn and so did I. We all had to backtrack and he had to pass me again. Another entertaining part to the start was a kid from Students Run Philly Style asking me if it was the start of the race. After I told him it was, he backed off and slowed down.

I ran a very fast first half mile. The pace was blistering. My legs were really hurting and I knew I had to slow down to survive. That said, the fast started definitely helped keep me from dropping off too much. Warming up before the race helped loosen up my legs some too. I flew to a 5:58 first mile. I didn't even know if I could run a single mile that fast at this point.

I was pretty comfortable and relaxed, but still working hard as we continued on. That is something I have been trying to work on lately and have been doing a much better job of. Going so fast, the race just flew by. There was some beautiful scenery around, but we didn't have much time to look at it.

I had passed someone around the mile mark and that launched me 5th overall. There were still two guys up ahead running together. I just ran my own race though. I was more concerned about losing a spot to those behind me, than catching those ahead of me. I slowed down some in the 2nd mile 6:19. I was in a groove though.

I noticed I was really catching one of the guys ahead of me. I thought we actually short cut the course at the Japanese House and later found out we did. It was poorly marked though and all the leaders in front of us did the same. We just followed.

For most of the final mile, I found myself in 4th place and as the 3rd place male. I knew that was $75 of prize money, so I wanted to hold that position. The guy ahead of me wasn't sure where to go on the course, so I got up along side of him and told him where the lead woman went. He lost a lot of momentum and was slowing. I knew I could out kick him down the stretch, but I didn't expect him to fall off that much.

I ran hard down the long finish straight and briefly looked back to see I was pulling away from him. I was just so amazed to see that I was 3rd overall and the 2nd male as I neared the finish line. I blasted through the line. The time would be a new personal record by 12 seconds, but as I said earlier, us leaders did cut the course. My watch said we ran .05 miles short of a 5K. That is even after going a little further past the one turn.

I'm still very impressed with the outcome. I knew coming in that I could run up front, but I just didn't realize that I had that much speed right now. Clearly the speedwork I've been doing, even though it for longer distances, is really helping. Running short and fast with the run club on Tuesdays is a big plus. What a great way to end a terrific week. It is scary to think what I could do with 5K specific training.

It was a good day for all of our team. Bill took home a new PR. Nate finished just behind him and actually won an age group award. Dan finished the whole race and ran most of it. Lisa, Kim and the others ran well too. We then had a cookout at Dan's afterward took. It was a fun day for all involved.

It is amazing how much base mileage can do for you. I knew I was in the best shape of my life and my endurance was better than ever. I still didn't think my speed was quite to this level yet. One of my goals is to run a PR this year in the 5K as well as the longer events. I basically already did that now, even though I can't count this since the course was short. I know I'm fast enough to do so though.

This was a huge boost of confidence. That's not exactly something I need more of. I'm already a very confident runner by nature. This 5K time actually projects out as a 3:01 marathon. If I can run close to that, I'll be tickled. Before this race, I was on the fence about whether I could run a marathon fast enough to qualify for Boston. Even though a 5K time isn't a good judge, I know I'm capable of running a few minutes under qualifying time. I still will have to run a smart race and do a lot of things right during the marathon, but I'm fully capable of doing so. I just really have to learn from next week's training run on the course and develop a strategy.

I was a little behind on writing about Friday's trail run, so I'll do that now as well. I finally got up early and ran in Wissahickon. I was up by 6:20 and on the course by 7:30. It took quite awhile for my body to adjust to the early start. I felt very sluggish early on. Luckily, i took a nice and easy path to start.

There was certainly plenty of climbing as always, within the first mile. It was nothing compared to some other days though. I ran on the east trails and took off running north. The weather was gloomy and cool early on. It was cloudy, but even when the sun did peak out, it was covered by the tree canopy.

This section really sucks and isn't the best way to start the run. It is big rock after big rock after big rock. It got very annoying after awhile. I was forced to run slow. Some of the other trail sections are rocky, but they usually have fast and flatter sections too. I had to be careful not to injure an ankle. I cruised along. I was actually lost because there are quite a few trails connecting in that area. One time, I came out onto a road. I had to backtrack and eventually I made it to one of the main road crossing.

I decided to continue running north, through a section that I had never run before. It was very tough. It was right along the creek and even more rocky. It was cool to see the creek, but the route was almost not runnable for awhile. Some sections were sandy too. Eventually that ended and the path went through a section of bushes. It was just barely wide enough for one person to run through.

When I hit a road, I decided to just turn around. As I was coming to the end of the bushes, I saw what I thought was a dog. After a few seconds, it appeared to have a longer bushy tail and was orange. It disappeared before I got a really good look at it. Either way, I was taking a chance, so I went back to the road. I ran by Chestnut Hill College.

When I got back to the nature area, I had a tough time finding my way around. I was climbing and climbing and climbing and not even sure if I was going in the right direction. That combination is frustrating, especially when you are only halfway through a run. I kept going what I thought was the right direction. After seeing sign after sign of landmarks that I didn't know, I finally found one for Forbidden Drive. I made my way back there.

I started running on Forbidden Drive, but shortly had to stop to use the restroom. I went to where there was a portable one last year, but it wasn't there yet. That has been the case thus far this year at a couple locations. I walked for a bit, until I felt better. I then was able to run after a few minutes.

I decided to just run to Valley Green. That was closer than I thought. After two miles, I came to it and used the bathroom. I still had a mile and a half left. I started on Forbidden Drive, but quickly found a steep trail to climb. That was challenging, but fun. I always loving working on going uphill. I did finish the run on a downhill though after turning around.

Not everything went smooth in this run, but I got through it. I thought I was getting better on the hills, but I was still quite winded at times. No question, I am getting better it is getting easier, but it is still very tough.

Tomorrow, I'm running 18 miles. After back to back 20 mile Sundays, I'm backing off. I'll probably just run the loop twice. I need to make it a little easy after the hard 5K today. After the run, I'm heading up to Boston for the marathon. I got a great deal on a hotel. It is only $58 and half an hour from the start line. It is a Crowne Plaza with their regular rate being $152 and up. I can't wait for the race. Hopefully it'll inspire me even more.

3rd overall (2nd male) won $150
3.05 miles - 18:40 (6:07 pace)

Trail Run
9.05 miles - 1:20:58 (8:57 pace)

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Ben Franklin Bridge

Today was a recovery day after yesterday's hard session. I wanted to get up kind of early, but ended up sleeping in until after 9. That was helpful when I did get to running.

By that time it was nearly lunch time. Even though it was an easy 4 miler, I still made today's run a little more difficult. I elected to run the Ben Franklin Bridge. I actually started off just past Broad and Spring Garden.

I ran through some dumpy neighborhoods. Eventually, I got to Franklin Square. That place is a really nice park for kids. It is at the foot of the Ben Franklin Bridge. Also at the foot of the bridge was a portable bathroom. That worked out great since I really had to go at that point.

I felt pretty good as I hit the bridge. My legs weren't sore or anything. I had recovered nicely. The bridge itself was a bit of a challenge. I didn't quite respect how long it was. The climb isn't steep, but it seems never ending. I got very winded by the end of ascent. It didn't help that I only drank coffee before the run, no Gatorade or water.

Running towards Camden isn't that exciting. Looking out over the water is nice though. I decided to keep going long after I hit the 2 mile point. I ran most of the way down the bridge and nearly into Camden.

I then turned around and ran back. It wasn't quite as long of a climb on the way back. Looking at the city skyline was great. I cruised back down the other side. I finished the run just past the foot of the bridge. I then ended up walking the final mile or so back home.

I was called into work early today. I felt pretty good for most of the day, even after carrying heavy equipment boxes around all day. Eventually, everything caught up with me though. I was very sore by the end of the day. My legs are quite sore now as I lay in bed. Work is great for keeping me active, but combined with all the running I'm doing, my body is really taking a beating. I'm so tired and ready for bed already.

It is a good thing too because I have to get to sleep shortly. I work at noon tomorrow and need to get in a 9 mile trail run before that. That requires me to get up at 6:15. I really need to start my run around 7:30. It'll likely take me close to two hours to complete. I look forward to it. Friday will be a much needed rest day. I can't wait.

4 miles - 33:12 (8:18 pace)

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

A Boston Kind of Day

Well I started off the day hoping to get in a tough 9 mile speedwork session in before work. After being up for almost an hour, I still hadn't gone to the bathroom. I didn't want to run without first doing so. Before long, it was too late for that long of a run, so I elected to pick it up after work.

Luckily for me, it was rainy and miserable outside. Because of that, business was slow and I was cut at 2 PM. That was great because it allowed me to do the speedwork in daylight. The session consisted of 5 minutes easy, followed by 3 minutes at 10K pace for the entire 9 miles. It would've been tough looking at my watch in the dark.

When I start my run, around 3:30 PM, the rain had just about stopped. It was still cloudy and cold though. I decided to run with just shorts and a T-shirt anyways. I probably would've worn my compression sleeves if I was doing a slower workout. The attire worked well, although I was a bit chilled by the end of the run.

Things got off a little slow. It seemed like the 5 minutes segments took quite awhile early on. I got up to speed quickly though. I busted out the first 3 minute segment at a 6:43 pace. That is actually pretty close to my 10K pace. Probably a little faster, but not too bad.

I ran the loop from Lloyd Hall and onto West River Drive first. I love these type of runs because I really focus on the next fast segment while I'm in the easy segment. When I'm in the fast segment, I'm so focused and in the zone. The miles just seem to click by and I don't even notice the scenery.

Before I knew it, I was at Falls Bridge. My pace actually dropped below 6:30 for most of the 3 minute segments. I even had two segments at a 6:17 and 6:18 pace. That's probably more of a 5K pace than a 10K pace. I recovered pretty well though. Even my recoveries ended up being pretty fast (typically under a 7:30 pace).

I didn't feel as though I was falling off too much. My times in fact got faster. At one point, I blew by a young lady. I passed some Philadelphia University runners going the opposite direction. They were moving at a nice clip.

I ran the last hard segment right around the mile marker from Lloyd Hall. I decided after that segment to just finish up the final 8:30 easy. I ran a little bit in the parking lot behind the Art Museum to finish the run. It felt good, even though my hamstrings and calves were screaming. They caused me to slow a little during two of the fast segments, but I still really cruised.

This customer in work today scared me. He said that Boston had lowered their qualification standard. I had heard there was talking of it happening, but I hadn't heard of it actually happening. I suspect if they do do it, it'll be for the 2012 race, not next year. While I wish the standard would lower, it would throw a wrench in my plans for this spring marathon. I might be able to run under 3:10, but I definitely am not ready to go under 3 hours yet. I'm relieved that I found out that they haven't changed anything at this point.

My hard run ended around 4:30 PM. That gave me enough time to stupidly run with the run club too. I showered and ate a sandwich. I then headed to City Sports. I decided I would take it easy after just finishing up the hard workout.

That worked well for awhile. Erik and I cruised at the back of the pack on Walnut Street. We let most people ahead of us as we just relaxed and chatted. I just can't stand being behind people though. Therefore, we picked up the pace as we got onto the path. The others were very far ahead. I didn't anticipate catching them, but I did want to make up some ground.

Erik has been running slow with his wife to train for Broad Street. Although the pace was faster than he is used to these days, he didn't seem to be laboring at all. I, on the other hand was breathing pretty hard. Certainly the early run took a lot out of me. I we got near JFK, it became apparent that the lead runners were slowing down. We caught them and cruised on by.

We were told to run to the Art Museum. We weren't sure if that meant the Museum itself or Lloyd Hall. We turned and ran to the Museum. I bolted up the stairs. It took awhile for the others to catch up. I was wondering if we even went to the right location. Eventually, we met up and went for a group picture.

I thought maybe I would take it easy on the way back. That probably would've been the smart thing to do. After a long break at the Museum, my legs actually got very stiff. I hung in the back for a short while. Once I got loosened up though, I got cranked up.

As we passed under the Spring Garden Street Bridge, a girl was hanging with me. I quickly lost her and the rest of the group up the short hill though. One guy did hang with me though. Steve, one of our manager Josh's friends, kept with the nice pace. We started chatting for a bit. He was pushing pretty hard and I didn't know if I could hang on. I knew I had to mentally be strong and keep pushing. It isn't often that I get to run this hard with someone else.

We got to the end of the path and the stairs together. I was surprised to see Erik close behind. He worked hard to catch us. When we got to Walnut Street, I was feeling great and really turned it up another notch. I lost the two of them at a traffic light. I think they cruised home a little more, whereas I had to fly like always. I pushed very hard and was really hurting at the end. I was exhausted and sweating. I wore a jacket, so I sweated a lot. It was a tough workout, much more difficult than I had hoped for. I just can't back down though when I have competition.

The Mizuno rep was supposed to run with us. He got stuck in traffic in Maryland though and never made it. I was really hoping to get my shoes tonight. I guess they'll just get shipped to the store. That was a big reason I came out to run. It was fun anyways though. I didn't struggle with the second run as much as I thought I would.

I did do quite a bit of massaging of my legs with both the foam roller and the Stick. That seems to really be a big help, especially with my hamstrings. They aren't bothering me as much as they once were. My back has been a little sore lately, but I'm still feeling strong. I might have to add crunches back into my routine. I haven't done them in over a month, because my belly button was sore.

Tomorrow is scheduled as an easy 4 miler. I am working late in the afternoon, so I want to get the run done in the AM. I'm thinking I might run it on the Ben Franklin Bridge. That is supposed to be a decent hilly workout. I'll probably give it a try, but also take it easy. Thursday is a tough trail run. I think I'll likely take off Friday, since I am running a 5K on Saturday. It should be a fun and challenging remainder of the week.

Run 1
9 miles - 1:04:22 (7:09 pace)
Run 2
3.85 miles - 32:20 (8:24 pace)

Monday, April 12, 2010

Too Much Caffeine

I was a little sore when I woke up in the early morning. I elected to rest some more before going out for my run. I wanted to maximum my rest, so I decided to head out after work.

I was only doing an easy 4 mile run. Rather than waste time walking to the Art Museum or Lloyd Hall, I elected to start the run at my apartment. By the time I got to the Art Museum, it was already half a mile. At Lloyd Hall, I hit a mile.

I headed out on Kelly Drive. At mile 1.5, things got interesting. Before the run, I ate a Hershey's bar. I also ate a few Sport Beans. That gave me a caffeine high at this point in the run. My head was really messed up and it was hard to run. I was wondering if I'd even finish. If I wasn't going so short, I might've quit the run.

Turning around at 2 miles didn't help. It wasn't until I hit 2.5 miles that I started getting a little better. I still never fully recovered, but felt much better later in the run. I ran back down Spring Garden and finished a block from my apartment. It was great to be done.

I nearly caught a runner from behind at one point. He saw me coming up though and took off. Of course, he quit the run before I even caught up to him. I wasn't trying to race him, especially with how weird I felt. His speeding up was just annoying.

My body was only mildly sore. I felt pretty good. My legs were completely fresh, but they weren't hurting either. I was mostly recovered.

I'm actually going to be running in only about 8 hours. I have a hard fartlek scheduled for tomorrow morning. Hopefully I feel strong. I look forward to it as I always do on speedwork days. The weather should be pretty good.

4 miles - 33:34 (8:24 pace)

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Longest Training Run

I both love and dread the long run Sundays. They are fun to see how far I can push myself. They are just so tough though and so time consuming. Last week, I ran my first 20 miler of this program. That was my longest training distance during the first marathon too. Therefore, today's 22 mile run was the longest training run that I ever did. The marathon is the only time I've run longer.

Again, I parked near Falls Bridge. I had to go to the bathroom this time though, so I ran to the Prep Boathouse. There was a regatta going on that tied up traffic, but at least it allowed for a lot of bathroom. I ran out about a mile and a half and relieved myself. The out and back in total was nearly 3 miles. It was a nice little start.

Just like last week, I ran through the paved Lincoln Drive path and then on threw to Forbidden Drive. The Lincoln Drive section is tough because it is hilly and paved. That gives the knees a good early pounding.

I was wondering early on if I allowed enough recovery from Friday's hard trail run. My legs were bothering me quite a bit at this point. The opposite of my kneecap from my usual IT band issue, had some minor soreness. Things did get better as I entered the gravel Forbidden Drive path. Less pounding on my legs was a huge relief.

My toes were actually a bit sore, but it didn't bother me too much. I also got used to it. I continued to be amazed at how little the early hills bothered me. I cruised up them on the gravel path. I passed quite a few female runners along the way.

It is so peaceful and calm on the path. I'm really taking a liking to running on it during my long run days. It is definitely better than the overcrowded Kelly Drive. The miles on Forbidden Drive seemed to fly by. Before I knew it, I was at Valley Green.

I originally intended to turn around at this point. I wanted to hydrate better today than last week. This time, I the water fountain was working though. I took a nice long drink and also stopped at the bathroom too. I kept my watching running during that. I decided I would continue on until the 8 mile point.

When I hit mile 8, I was just a few hundred meters from the covered bridge. I just ran to it before turning around. At this point, I was still feeling pretty good. On the way back, I stopped again at the water fountain.

Hydrating better during the run definitely helped. I also grabbed some salt packets from the movies the other night. I ate four of them throughout the run. That didn't taste great, but seemed like a big help. I definitely lost a lot of salt, as usual. My shirt was even stained with it.

Around miles 9 and 10, the hills started to bother me. It wasn't terrible, but the soreness and tiredness that early were tough. I wondered how I would last. Taking some Sport Beans a little later definitely helped. It re-energized me.

I was passed by a lady who was going pretty fast. Chances are that she wasn't going 22 miles, but she was still moving. I was impressed. I don't think anyone else actually ran by me today. Early on on Forbidden Drive, I saw a lot of fast runners coming the other way. I never encountered them on my side though.

Getting through the hilly paved section on Lincoln Drive was tough again. I knew I just had to keep battling and make it back to the car. Drinks were waiting for me there. I was relieved when I finally hit the last hill.

I got back to my car and wolfed down some Gatorade. I actually drank too much and had some side stitches when I started back up. The brief rest was great though. I ran along West River Drive. That section was again boring during this long run. It just seems to go on forever.

I felt like I was slowing, but really my times didn't indicate so. One big thing is that I was able to stay relaxed throughout the entire run. That allowed me to make it through this tough section. I just focused on getting to mile 18, so I could turn around.

I started having my IT band act up around mile 17.5. Thankfully, I turned around shortly after that and it went away. I stopped at the water fountain near Montgomery Drive. My body was hurting a lot before that. I got some side stitches. The water definitely helped. Shortly after, I ate my final salt packet. That was a big boost.

I didn't have much trouble getting to mile 20. I felt much better and stronger than last week. Although I didn't push it, I didn't feel like I was close to cramping either. It felt great to still feel that good that deep into a run.

When I got to my car, I was just over 20.5 miles. I took in some more Gatorade. I decided to run a mile down Kelly Drive and turn around. That would allow me some walking back to the car, so I could recover. My hamstrings definitely started getting sore during the final mile. I had to simply focus on each up coming quarter mile. The last turnaround was a big help.

I was so happy when I finally finished. My last mile was under 8 minutes too. I was still pretty dehydrated, but definitely better than last week. I had more in the tank. I probably could've even laid down another mile. I was excited that I didn't have to though.

Whether it was eating the salt, drinking more fluids or just the 10 degree cooler weather, I didn't felt better today than last week. That said, I still need to hydrate more, especially on race day. I lost about 3 pounds during the run. That is quite a bit. I am going to have to really run at the end of marathon day, not just survive. I won't be able to do that without being well hydrated.

I have two more long runs left. Next week, I am going back down to 18 mile to rest my body a little. The week after that, I'll bump back up to 23 miles. A lot of that will probably be on the marathon course. That will be the real test.

Tomorrow, I have an easy 4 mile run before work. I'll probably run then, because my body seems to be recovering well nowadays. I'm definitely sore at the moment, but not as bad as I'd expect to be. Later in the week, I might have to skip a run, since I'm running a Saturday 5K. We'll see how my body feels after another 50+ mile week.

22 miles - 3:05:29 (8:26 pace)

Friday, April 9, 2010

Cooler Weather

I took yesterday off since I didn't sleep much on Wednesday night and also my body was pretty beat up. Today, I went out to challenge myself with a 10 mile trail run. I drove to Ridley Creek State Park for the run.

Before the run, I headed to the Bryn Mawr Running Company in Media. I tried on a bunch of racing shoes. I was happy that they all fit pretty well, especially the Brooks. When I get my free pair of shoes, I'm going to get those. I'm also going to probably get some good North Face trail shoes soon. They are very cheap on 3point5. I'll have to try them on at our store.

The run started off near the main parking lot by the office. This time, I headed on the yellow trail, but the actual trail rather than the paved path. I wandered all through the various colored trails. The hills were tough as always, but not as bad as the first time around. I am definitely getting stronger on those.

Some of the trails were familiar from last time, but I often got lost. I now at least had a general idea of where I was though. I also encountered some new sections, including one with an old crumbling building and wheels from an old plow.

One of the areas I ran in before was the section with sticker bushes. I tried to dodge them and it was a little better than last time. Shortly after, I noticed a sticker was stuck in my head though. There were a lot of sections full of mud. It was pretty deep too. I had a blast running through it. The only thing that sucked was that I had on my old regular running shoes. My trail shoes have sat in a bag for over a week and haven't dried out yet.

At one point toward the end, I tried to run around the mud. Of course, shortly after that I came across more mud. It was still fun though. I worked on running harder through certain portions. That was great. I also was able to learn where to step better.

I seemed to a good job of timing my run. As I got around the 8 mile point, I started heading back. When I got back on the yellow trail, I decided to push it up the gradually inclining hill. It turned out it when on and on though. I was very exhausted by the end. At the parking lot, I had to run about a third of a mile to complete the 10 miles.

Although it is called Ridley Creek State Park, I really didn't see much of the creek. Only once did I seem to run by it. I ran by a lot of nice trees and such though. They are finally starting to come in.

Thankfully, the weather was better today. It was a nice and cool 60 degrees. That was a big help to run well. It was a relief from all the really hot weather.

My hamstring still bothers me, but it was definitely better by running on the soft ground. It really got stiff and sore when I was driving home. I stopped at both sides of the Heinz Wildlife Refuge afterward. I also found the Bartram Gardens on the way back. Using the foam roller afterward was a big help.

Tomorrow is an off day, but I am working from 12-8. I'll be running my long 22 miler on Sunday. I'll probably stay around here, but I have considered running some trails in the poconos. That would certainly help my sore hamstring. I hope I'll be recovered well by then.

10 miles - 1:3319 (9:20 pace)

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Heat Wave Continues

More near record highs and another brutal run. At least today was an easy day. I went out and ran a 5 miler to recover from yesterday's speedwork. I did get out about an hour earlier today (around 9 AM). That might've helped a little, but it was still blazing hot.

I decided to change up my running route a bit. I want to work in some hills, so I started off going on the Lemon Hill route. I headed straight though and towards the east side of the park. After crossing Girard and briefly heading north, I turned around and decided to run on the west side of the park instead.

I ran through the first section during the marathon. It is a tough and gradual uphill climb. It really killed me in the marathon and wasn't much better in the heat. After that, I wandered through the nearby roads and eventually ran behind Memorial Hall. This is a great area because it was used for the Worlds Fair many years ago. This section is also lightly traveled by vehicles and some of it is closed to construction too.

After that, I continued on through the Japanese House and Garden. That is beautiful as is the Horticultural Center that I ran through next door. It was nice and scenic early spring run. Definitely a little bit different than the river route.

I then came out onto West River Drive via Montgomery Avenue. I made sure to stop at the water foundation across the stretch. That helped, but I still struggled to finish the run. It was just too hot and there's still so little shade because the leaves on the trees haven't come in yet.

I had to focus from half mile to half mile just to finish the run. I managed to do so about a mile from Lloyd Hall. I then had to walk back there. That was a good recovery. The one good thing with the heat is that it slowed my pace down, more to where it should be.

My hamstring continues to bother me. I'm sending more time on the foam roller now. I used it before the run and before bed. I'll need to work it in daily. I am considering buying the stick, but it is quite pricey.

Tomorrow is an early morning trail run. It is 8 miles at a moderate pace. I think it is going to be hot again, so I might have to bring my Camelbak. We shall see. It'll be a nice and challenging run before work.

5 miles - 41:36 (8:19 pace)

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Too Hot for Speed

I complained about the weather on Sunday. Today, it got much worse. The high was actually a new record of 87 degrees. Because of the heat, I didn't get to sleep for quite a few hours. That caused me to sleep in more and thus run in more of the heat.

My the time I headed out the door, late morning, it was blazing hot. I knew it wasn't the ideal day for speedwork, but I decided to give it a try anyways. The workout started with 3 miles easy. I cruised at a nice and comfortable pace. I was already hot though, even without doing much.

The middle of the workout, consisted of 3 X 10 minutes at half marathon pace with 3 minutes of easy recovery in between. The first interval was a little bit of a challenge. I started off smooth and very fast. It got tough as I approached Falls Bridge though. Not only was it uphill, but there was actually a pretty good wind coming right at me. That provided a nice cooling affect, but also made it much harder to run. I continued to push on though at a fast and steady pace.

Focusing on staying relaxed seemed to help. I tense up too much when things aren't smooth. I need to really work on relaxing, even when the going gets tough. I seem to do that pretty well today.

The heat and speed were really wearing me down as the 2nd interval approached. The recovery helped a little, but not enough. I was still pretty dehydrated. Shortly after passing the water fountain at the Columbia Bridge, I turned around. I decided to finish this tough segment before getting a drink. At one point, I thought about half the interval must've passed by, but it was only a mere 2 minutes.

The drink was definitely a big help and couldn't have finished the workout without it. That said, I still wasn't hydrated and the brief 3 minute recovery period just wasn't enough. I mentally had to talk to myself to battle through the final interval. I just focused on getting to the first two minutes. After that, I focused on five minutes. Then I told myself I was pathetic if I couldn't go another measly five minutes. That was sure easier said than done. I pressed on and stayed focused. It sure took a lot out of me though.

I definitely took myself beyond my body's limit. The final three easy miles became a slow trot. It really seemed like I was getting nowhere and I definitely wondered how I would finish. I stopped for a drink at Lloyd Hall. On boathouse row, I tucked in behind a slow runner. He pulled away from me though. During any other run, I just would've cruised past. I was just trying to survive though. I haven't been this dead since my half marathon last fall.

Finishing the run was tough, but definitely very rewarding. Every time the going gets tough, I say to myself, "you aren't going to get to Boston if you quit now. These type of runs make Boston." It really works to keep me going strong and seeing how far I can push. Speedwork in this weather was definitely tough though.

They called me into work early. I went right from running to the shower and then ate and headed to work. There was no time to recovery. I felt like crap early in my shift, but actually wasn't too bad later on. The walking was a good recovery. My right hamstring was quite sore though. It seems to be getting worse. I really need to work on it. I might have to massage it more.

Again, I'll try the get up early thing tomorrow. Eventually, I'll succeed and get into a rhythm. It might take awhile to get used to getting up early though. I just need to do it and rest after the run if necessary. That worked well last summer. Tomorrow's run is an easy 5 miler. That should help me recover.

11.5 miles - 1:29:05 (7:45 pace)

Monday, April 5, 2010

Chick-fil-A Run

Normally I don't like to run after a meal. I've been doing a good job of eating light before one, if I do eat. Today, I was just too hungry after work though. Not only did I eat, but I ate a chicken sandwich from Chick-fil-A.

Normally, they suggest to hold off on running until 2 hours after eating. It was only an hour and a half and I felt terrible. I knew I was only doing a four miler though, so I figured I'd get through it. Of course I did.

I started at Lloyd Hall and ran to the Art Museum and onto West River Drive and back. I ended up turning around just by the normal 5K turnaround. In addition to the food I ate, there were a couple other problems. First, I decided to carry my Five Fingers along in a small backpack. That added some weight and made it a little tougher. I also ran at dusk, so there were a lot of bugs.

The bugs made breathing tough, as I didn't want to swallow any. I actually had to do that yesterday. One flew at my eye during this run, I managed to close the eye in time and wipe it off of my face.

My legs were a little sore, but not too bad. It was definitely a good thing that I rested though. I figured they would be sore, so I that's why I elected to run after work. The run wasn't fun, but I survived.

After the run, I did some strides and other drills in the grass near Lloyd Hall. The catch was that I used my Five Fingers though. It is the first time I did any sort of running in them. It felt pretty good. The grass is actually uneven and dead in spots, but I managed. I hit a couple rocks and my feet were sore after each impact. After the run, my toes are a bit sore now. That seems like a good way to work them into running though.

Tomorrow is a speed workout. I really love those because I focus so well on short term, the next interval. It makes them go by so fast and makes running along the same route, much less boring. It should be a fun, but challenging run on a beautiful morning. I will get out in the morning this time!

4 miles - 32:27 (8:07 pace)

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Easter Hilly 20

It was a great Easter Sunday. I started off with a packed Easter mass with the Cardinal. That was pretty cool. I then got out for a though 20 mile run in the afternoon. I ran Forbidden Drive and West River Drive on this route.

I wanted to get in a hilly long run, since the marathon I'm training for will have hills (mostly downhill thankfully). Therefore, I parked near Falls Bridge and started towards the Lincoln Drive path. That is paved until Forbidden Drive. I carried a 12 ounce Gatorade with me to start, so that was a little difficult. At least I had some good hydration early. That didn't hold up throughout the run.

Forbidden Drive was nice as peaceful. It was fairly crowded, but overall not too bad. The trees still aren't quite in yet, but they did at least provide some shade from the 75 degree temperatures. It hasn't been close to this warm for quite awhile, but I managed to survive. Having on a singlet was definitely a help.

The Forbidden Drive stretch was definitely tough. The hills actually didn't bother me as much as I thought they would. They seemed much tougher months ago when I didn't have much hill work. I've clearly made progress in that area. Running the trails around Forbidden Drive has been a huge plus.

Slowing my pace down helped too. That said, it was still a big struggle coming back. A guy came off the road near Valley Green and ran near me. I stopped at the water fountain after passing him. It wasn't working, so I went back to running. I caught back up to him and passed him again. I'm not sure if it was him or someone else, but a runner was right on my heels heading downhill. I lost him though on the uphill and he got off the road.

When I hit mile 9 of the run, I was really wondering how I'd finish. My left calf was sore as was my right hamstring. They seem to always be a problem and get close to cramping when I don't hydrate right. Even though they are different muscles on different legs, they seem to always act up together. I made it through mile after mile though. My main focus was to just get to mile 14 and back to my car for some Gatorade.

I made a brief stop to grab another 12 ounce Gatorade. I polished that one off very quickly. I was quite thirsty. I still have to find a better way to hydrate. Handhelds are uncomfortable and I always have to switch hands. The belts aren't bad, but my IT band often acts up.

I was relieved to find a trash can just past Falls Bridge. I ran on West River Drive, because it was closed to traffic. That is nice, but at the same time, there was no shade in this section. I wondered how I could make it much further, as the hydration didn't seem to help much. I just keeping going though. Several times, I thought about turning around before the 17 mile point. I knew the further I went though, the less miles I'd have to add when I got to my car.

I was about to turnaround early at mile 16.5. Then I noticed two attractive girls on the path. I had to pass them, so I kept going. I went the final half mile and turned around on the path, just past where the road was closed.

As I was headed back, a park ranger was taking down signs on the road. It opens to traffic again at 5 PM and it was right around that time. I elected to head back on the path for the rest of the run. There was a water foundation that another runner used right by the Columbia Bridge. I forgot about it. I stopped and got a drink. that probably would've been helpful on the way out too.

The last few miles were grueling, but I kept a pretty solid pace. I was under control on this long run for a change. I actually felt better than last week's run, even with all the hills in this one. Running more controlled was probably part of the reason. Last week's run was too flat and fast.

I just kept focusing on the next mile. That was the only thing that got me through. When I got a little sorer, I slowed down a bit. I still finished fairly well, even though I was exhausted.

I concentrated on my form at the end of the run. I need to do that more. In addition to not hydrating enough, I think my other problem is tensing up. I get sloppy with my form as I tire. I end up becoming tense, instead of relaxing. I tried working on that today and it seemed to help. I need to do even more of that.

It was an amazing run. I was just thinking of how far I've come in the past year. Last Easter, I couldn't even run at all. Now, I'm finishing up a hilly 20 mile run in preparation for marathon number 2. I think if I wasn't injured and got a few more 15+ mile runs in, I'd feel even better right now. I still have a pair of 20+ runs and an 18 miler before the race though. I should be good to go.

I'm a little sore as I write this, but my body has definitely adapted to this. I feel better than I did after 12 mile runs last fall. Even after being on my feet all day yesterday, I'm still pretty good.

Tomorrow is an easy 4 mile recovery run. Since this is so short, I need to get up and run before work. I want to add some strides and such on the grass with my Vibram Five Fingers too. That will be a nice and soft way to test them out.

20 miles - 2:46:44 (8:20 pace)

Friday, April 2, 2010

Finishing Up 50

I got up early this morning, but still elected to run after work. I ran an easy 5 miler. I started with the Schuykill Banks loop and finished with a short out and back on Kelly Drive. I added 10 hill sprints to conclude the workout. That got me to 50 miles of running again this week. I haven't done that in over a month.

I do really like running at night. It's just so much more peaceful to me. Without seeing my watch as easily, I controlled my pace better. I kept it nice and slow on the first mile. The weather was nice and cool as well.

I had to go to the bathroom before the run, but the bathrooms at Lloyd Hall were locked. I hoped I could run it off. Just after two miles, I realized I wouldn't be able to. I then went behind an old bridge pier along the path. That was a good rest, but after that it was uphill.

My legs are still a little sore, but overall they felt pretty good today. The slower pace probably helped them recover better. I didn't think this would be the case after being on my feet for 7.5 straight hours at work today. I didn't get a break, so I was a little sore. I guess the half hour or so off my feet after work helped.

I ate a tuna hoagie after work. I was happy that it didn't bother me when I was running. I felt quite good. Overall, my body felt about as well as I'd expect at the end of a long week. I was even hungry to run again afterward. I continue to think about 80+ mile weeks. It would be nice to rest tomorrow, but I do have an 8 hour shift now. I'm not running though.

After my run, I ran into a couple guys that were asking about the loop and area around there. It turns out they are running the loop 12 times tomorrow. It is an ultramarathon that I saw before. There is no real organization to it and no fee to enter. I'm tired of running the loop though, so I'd never want to run that. I wish I would've actually asked them more about ultras.

I am off on Easter Sunday. I'll be running my first 20 miler of this training plan. I'm going to park near Falls Bridge. I will start by running the tough hilly section of Forbidden Drive. I'll then add the loop as needed. I need some hills on long runs because this marathon will be quite hilly (even though it is downhill).

5.01 miles - 40:31 (8:06 pace)

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Paved Hills

Well my schedule got changed up again this morning. I was planning on running 8 miles on a trail this afternoon. Instead, I was called in to work. I worked from noon to 7. Afterward, I was able to get in an 8 mile dark run.

For once, I started and finish on Green Street near my apartment. I don't really like to run in this area because it is a lot of uneven surfaces. Some concrete, some brick and some slate type of rocks. Because of it, the first mile was slow.

I hit the Art Museum and then added the challenging part to the course. I ran over the short but steep hills on Lemon Hill. I did three loops around there. It wasn't as difficult as running on the trails, but it was still a good workout. Each loop is a little short of a mile.

I didn't realize how dark it was up there. It is a lightly traveled road, but I was still surprised there were no street lights. I did have to avoid a couple cars. There were also some people out. One group was definitely smoking weed and it smelled like another was barbecuing. I was just glad I didn't trip over anything in the dark.

The good thing about the early hills was that it slowed me down. My pace was well over 8 minutes through the first four miles. After the three loops, I added the Schuykill Banks loop and then headed home. This whole route was about as hilly as you can get near Center City, yet it is no longer a challenge. I have definitely improved greatly on the hills, even though I can still get much better. I need to add the Lemon Hill loop more often.

As I hit mile five or so, my legs just felt really dead. The high mileage build up over the last few days has taken its toll. Resting instead of working most of today would've been a big help. I work two long shifts again on Friday and Saturday now too though. I'll just have to try to get through it. If I'm still struggling next week, I might have to take an extra day off to get some rest. I still don't know my work schedule yet.

I'd really love to get up early tomorrow morning and just bang out my run before work. We'll see how that goes though. I start work at 11 in the morning. The good thing is that it is only an easy 5 mile run. I'll likely just go out and back on Kelly. We'll see how I feel in the morning. I'm not sure I'll be recovered enough. It isn't like working all day will allow me to actually rest though.

8 miles - 1:03:21 (7:55 pace)