Thursday, May 31, 2012

Great Group Run

Nights like tonight are exactly why I love group runs.  It pushed me beyond a point that I'd go by myself and I got to chat about running a lot both during and after the run.  There were still only three of us at the LVRR Group Run, but I think we all had a great workout and a good time.

Aaron came who I've run with before at the Finish Line runs, including Tuesday.  It works out great because he's faster than me so I always hang with him for awhile before dropping off.  Even after dropping off though, my pace stayed strong.  In addition to Aaron, Shawn a high school runner from Central joined us.  He was fast too.

For the first mile and a half or so, I ran with Shawn, just behind Aaron.  I knew I couldn't quite keep the pace up for five miles, especially as it was getting faster.  I told Shawn to ahead and him and Aaron left me in the dust.  It was fine though because this is how I'll improve, by running strong with others.

We got near the big hills in the Fish Hatchery area.  I started up the hill, but knew that if I ran to the top, I'd pay for it on the later hills near the end of the run.  I know my limit.  I ran back after that and along the other side of the river.

The hills were killer, but I still ran strong.  The mile after I let Aaron and Shawn go, I dropped back to an 8:40 mile.  After that, I was able to crank it up again though.  I saw my overall pace was 8:20, so I worked hard to keep it under that for the remainder of the run.

Staying strong sure wasn't easy.  The hills were brutal.  I kept pushing though.  I was very happy with my pace.  The big thing I focused on was keeping good form.  When I do that late it a run, I'm so much more efficient.  I ended with an out and back when I passed the clubhouse.  Apparently Aaron and Shawn had a good workout at the end and really came in hard too.

I kept my pace under 8:20.  That's been by far my best run yet from a pace standpoint and it was close to my longest run too.  My progress has been great.  It's hard to believe I've only been running since April 18th after over a six month layoff.  That day I ran one mile at a 10:09.  Today, I ran an 8:18 pace for 5 miles.  This rapid progress is reminding me of my rapid ascent during high school track when I went out my Senior year.  The great thing is I'm not pushing too much either.  I did today, but most days I'm running comfortably.

It is great to get the legs back and equally as much fun running with and meeting people.  I think this was good run for Shawn and I'm hoping that I can get these high school group runs going.  That will help them make progress as well as myself.

Tomorrow is a rest day.  Hopefully I'll be strong for the Freedom to Liberty run on Saturday.  I don't think I beat myself up too much on this one.  That course is much flatter and faster than this.  I just have to make sure I hold back early and pick it up late.  I'm up to running five days a week now and I'll hit the twenty mile mark this weekend after the race.

5 miles - 41:41 (8:18 pace)

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The Hills are Alive...

With the sound of my heavy breathing.  Today, I decided to stay local and get a good hill run in.  I went to my original route up the hill at Schoeneck Avenue near the high school.  This was my first run every during track.  I was so new that I ran in basketball shoes.

I arrived right as school was letting out.  There was plenty of parking in the lot near the football field.  I headed out from the middle school and up the hill.  It is actually almost half a mile before you hit the climb.

Schoeneck Climb
The weather wasn't nearly as bad as it has been lately, but climbing the hill made it seem just as bad.  I had hoped to really bust my butt up the hill, but quickly found that wasn't going to happen.  I'm not strong enough yet to just cruise uphill.  It was a chore just getting up there.  Add to that that my legs didn't feel very strong in the beginning.

The incline is definitely pretty steep.  The one good thing is that it is really only about a half mile climb.  It is still very tough though.  The difficult part is that it is exposed.  There is little shade while going up.  It can get windy there too.

Luckily at one point the climb decreases in slope.  It makes things feel easier on the legs.  It is still tough and the top seems so far away.  I thought about walking at one point while I was breathing heavy, but I just kept telling myself get to the top and you'll be able to cruise the rest of the way.  That certainly helped.

Once I got to the top, I had to peak back and see where I'd come from.  It is definitely tough, but always looks worse than it really is.  It is funny to think that I actually used this hill in the middle of my 23 mile training run before my second marathon.  Now, I'm sputtering up it as its own run.

Being on the flat and coming down was a relief.  There was some wind which was nice at times.  I tried to get in the shade when I could.  It was still hot though.  Since the route was going to come up short of the four miles that I had hoped for, I turned on the road to Martin Guitar for an out and back.  That was a good add on after coming past the Andrettis' houses.

The out and back added close to a mile to the run.  It was definitely tough too.  There were some slight hills on it.  Any incline was tough after the big hill.  Coming back to the main road was the biggest climb.

I worked on maintaining my form for the last mile and a half or so.  I need to focus on that more.  Keeping smooth form allows your body run faster and more efficient.  When your form breaks down, you waste a lot more energy.  The final two miles ended up being quite fast.  Some of that was my form and some was the downhill running.

My first mile included the climb and it also took my legs awhile to warmup.  My last two miles had a good portion of downhill running, but were an impressive 8:40 and 8:06.  The form focusing definitely made a huge difference in the end because my effort really wasn't any greater than earlier.  I'll have to keep focused on my form during the race on Saturday.

I ended up finishing the route right at the football stadium.  I was hoping to go up the short hill by the high school.  After some brief walking, I decided to run hard up it.  It wasn't a full sprint, but it was fairly hard.

This was certainly a productive run.  I love hills and need to keep working them into my training now that I have a good base.  Nothing like running on old routes too.  My progress has been great and I'm definitely looking forward to Saturday.  I'd love to break 8 minutes.  Maybe it isn't realistic, but if I have a shot at it in the second half of the race, I'm going to go for it.  Before that though, I have one more group run coming tomorrow at the LVRR group run.

4 miles - 35:13 (8:49 pace)

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Back to the Finish Line

It has been awhile since I ran with the group at the Finish Line Running Store in Emmaus.  Even though it was blazing hot out, I decided to go with the group.  The temperature was similar to what I ran in in Indianapolis over the weekend, so I wasn't worried.

I was impressed by the turnout.  There were 8 people there.  I wish our LVRR group runs would get that kind of turnout.  We looped around Emmaus.  I ran most of the time with Mel from the Breakfast Club Runners group.

The weather actually wasn't too bad.  A storm was approaching, so it was windy and cool in the beginning.  So much so that someone's hat blew off.  It was good talking about various thinks from my health to trail running to other group runs and so on.  It makes the time fly by.

The pace was nice and comfortable.  I was a little worried that it might be too fast in the beginning, it never bothered me though.  We were running around an 8:30 pace and it seemed easy.  I hung towards the back of the group, not wanting to push it too much up front.  I might've been able to hang there, but I'm not worried about speed at the moment.

The first two miles were good, but the third mile was frustrating.  We had to stop at a light for quite a long time.  I kept my watch running, but I should've stopped it.  That's one thing I hate about running roads.  It was a good rest for the legs, although it was hard to get going again.

The time just seemed to fly by as it always does on group runs.  When we were near the stop Mel and another runners Aaron went longer.  I decided to go back with the rest of the group.  Running four miles was enough for the day.  I'm glad I chose that path as the storm hit right as I was finishing up.  To get a nice and round number, I ran a short out and back at the store.

The run was a good outing and my improvement continues to impress me.  I'm making so much progress and I'm not really even pushing myself at this point either.  I'm quite curious to see what I can do on Saturday's four mile race.  I'm not going to get out of my comfort zone early, but I'm thinking I might even be fastest enough to run under an 8 minute pace at this point.  Perhaps that is a little ambitious.  We'll see, I'm not going to force anything until late in the race.  I'm hoping the weather will be better too.

Tomorrow, I'm going to run alone.  Since there is a Nazareth baseball game, I'm going to that in the evening.  I'll have to get my run done in the morning.  I'd like to get up to some falls in Jim Thorpe for a trail run, but might opt just to stay local.

4 miles - 36:53 (9:13 pace)

Monday, May 28, 2012

Back Home Pennsylvania

I write this lame title every year after we come home from Indy.  Before the 500 they sing "Back Home Again in Indiana," so I figure my title is appropriate when I return East.  It was good to run out there, but I miss my hills.  I was pretty tired from traveling, but I rested most of today.

I headed out late in the evening for a run at the Lehigh Gap Nature Center near Palmerton.  I hiked there before, but never ran trails.  The zinc plant nearby killed off most of the trees on the mountain.  They haven't grown back, but they have been able to get prairie grass and some other vegetation to grow there.  Because of it, there are some spectacular views all around.

I started the run around 7:30 PM and sunset was 8:23 PM, so I knew I didn't have a lot of time to run.  I wanted to get a comfortable 3 miler in.  I actually wanted to run the LNE trail, but ended up on the D&L trail to start.

The D&L trail is nice and wide.  It is crushed stone and allows for bikes.  It follows the old rail line along the river at the bottom of the mountain.  Having a river on one side and a mountain on the other side is pretty cool.  It is nice and flat too, thus a good starting point.

I cruised along that trail for awhile, enjoying the views.  Eventually I hit the short trail that linked up with the LNE Trail.  It was short, but very steep.  I was having trouble breathing and almost considered stopping.  I made it to the top though.  Right at that junction was the Prairie Grass Trail.  I wanted to run on that, but couldn't take anymore climbing for the moment.  Therefore, I headed along the LNE Trail.

The LNE is still only part way up the mountain, but the views are amazing anyway.  It is hard to even focus much on running.  This is also a wide former railroad bed.  I didn't want to run too far out because I wanted to run some of the Prairie Grass Trail.  I was running at the setting sun and it looked wonderful.

Even with the sun setting, the run was pretty hot.  I also forgot my trail shoes.  Luckily, most of the trail was flat and easy.  After running toward the gap again, I headed up the Pairie Grass Trail.  It was a steep climb.  This was more of a true trail.  It was fairly rocky, but not too bad.  It didn't slow me much.

The climb was tough and I kept pushing myself, trying to make it to the 2 mile mark.  That was only about .15 of a mile, but it was still very tough.  I'm still building up my climbing strength.  I also knew coming down, the view would make the climb worth it.

The view was certainly great.  The only problem was that it was steep and rocky, so I had to watch my footing.  Every now and then I got a peek though.  I could see all the other mountain sections around and even the town of Palmerton.

Coming back on the LNE Trail was great too.  Since it was flat, I could enjoy the views.  There's this one house on a small hill that looks really neat.  I was running at that and then directly at the other side of the mountain across the gap.  I planned to use this trail to get back to the Lehigh Gap Nature Center.  For awhile, I was wondering how that was going to happen.  I was already pretty high when the rail part of the trail ended and there was some climbing along a regular trail.  I remember seeing parts of an old bridge when I was running down below, so I figured the railroad used to cross the river there.

I ended up right at the bridge and the trail just stopped.  I was stunned for a moment because it was almost a mile back to turn around, plus another mile on the D&L trail when I got down to it.  The mountain was too steep at this point to climb down.  I backtracked a bit and found where the trail actually continued.  I thought it went all the way back to the parking lot and it did.

I finished up at the 3 mile point before the downhill section.  It was a great run.  A good mix of hills and regular trails, plus some rail trails on the mountain.  The views are amazing.  It may not be quite what you see in Trail Running Magazine, but it is about as good as I'll do around here.  The drive isn't too far either.  I had heard a lot of people say they run there.  Now, I see why.  I will definitely be back.

Tomorrow should be another decent run.  I'm hoping to get myself over to Emmaus for The Finish Line Running Store group run.  I haven't done that yet since my comeback started.  No matter what, I'm running somewhere tomorrow.  I want to run on Wednesday and Thursday as well and take Friday off.  On Saturday, I'm running the Freedom to Liberty 4 miler.

3 miles - 29:24 (9:49 pace)

Indy Run #3 (5/26/12)

This was my last run in Indy.  Saturday has no track activities, so it is a perfect day for a run.  The only problem of course would be the warm temperatures.  I headed out around 9 AM.  I would’ve liked to have started a little earlier, but that’s what time it was when I finally got going after rolling out of bed.

The plan was to run along the soft canal path that I did the other day.  That planned failed miserably though.  I never found the right road to turn on.  At one point, I thought I was headed towards 38th Street and I instead ended up on 16th Street.  I completely had my directions backward.

Luckily, there are plenty of areas to run.  Eventually, I made a quick bathroom stop and just headed out along a different river path.  I figured I’d do two out and back runs, that way I could stop for water at the car in between.  I headed out and shortly crossed a bridge.  I went the wrong way at first, but I quickly found the path.

Although I wasn’t happy that the path was pavement, I was thrilled when I crossed the bridge.  That section was in the shade.  I cruised along there.  Early on, my legs were a bit sore from last night and I wasn’t sure if they’d get worse and I’d have to cut the route short.  They came around after a while though.

The route was nice and scenic.  The river was on one side (along blocked by trees) and a golf course was on the other side.  I passed a few people, including a woman that looked to be about 250 pounds.  It was nice to see her trying and hopefully she will keep it up.  Mostly, I had the trail to myself though.

After almost a mile and a half, the trail ended and I had to run on the road.  That might’ve been the perfect place to turn around for two even out and backs.  I wanted to keep going until at least mile two of this six mile run.  That way, I’d be in the shade much longer.  It turned out to be a good idea.

I managed to find the only hill in Indiana on the way out.  It wasn’t much of a hill, but it was a nice change.  I ran on the wrong side of the road, but there was a wider shoulder on that side.  I decided to keep going until I hit mile two and a quarter.  There were some nice houses around the turnaround point.

Going back, I just kept focusing on getting to the next mile.  Once I got to mile 3, I was getting a little sore.  I figured if I had at least made it another mile back to the car, I’d be happy.  I wasn’t too bad by the time I hit mile four.

The last two miles were mostly on the other side of the bridge and now directly in the sunlight.  I actually thought my pace might’ve been a little too fast, so I slowed down.  Shortly after mile four and a half, I was back and the car and got a quick bottle of water.  That helped some in the sun, but it was still hot.

The last mile and a half was really draining.  Luckily, my legs weren’t bothering me much.  The heat was just getting to me.  The few trees I ran by provided shade, which was a huge relief.  Right as I was about to turn around, I came across a stretch of trees.  I was going to keep going until the end of them, but I saw a guy who looked a bit thuggish, so I just turned around early.
The last half mile would’ve been really tough, but I knew it was almost over so it wasn’t too bad.  I finished up and stretched and rehydrated.  I have some soreness, but once I again I’m surprised at how minimal it is.

I’ll definitely be taking off tomorrow, with the race going on.  That will be some walking in the heat.  If I recover well (which I expect), I’ll run back home on Monday.  I won’t be getting much sleep the night before though.  There is also a LVRR picnic at 2 PM on Monday, if I’m not too drained.  It has been a fun week running here.  I’m very happy with my progress as well.

6 miles – 57:13 (9:32 pace)

Indy Run #2 (5/25/12)

I ran for the second night in a row in Indianapolis.  I decided that I wanted to do a run closer to downtown.  I knew there was a canal path near the heart of the city.  The plan was to go out for 3 scorching miles.  It was again very hot, even in the evening.  It is only going to get hotter too.
After a quick bathroom pit stop, I finally got going.  I was going to look at a map they had, but it was missing.  I turned around and followed a girl along the river.  She was quite a bit ahead of me, but it was good practice for catching up.  When we got to the actually canal, she ran one way and I ran the other.  We were on opposite sides of the canal.

The path was cool.  It ran by a lot of building including the NCAA Hall of Champions and Indiana State Museum.  There were also a lot of condos and even a shop or two.  The pathway was beautiful.  It was mostly concrete, but it was a mixture of that and different types of pavers.
As we rounded one corner, I thought the loop was over.  It turned out it kept going and going pretty far into town.  I felt good in the first mile and was thinking to myself that it wasn’t so hot.  My opinion changed quickly though.  Even without a shirt on and later in the evening, it was a hot one.  It also didn’t help that I was running on the sunny side of the canal.

I decided to keep going and going.  I was hoping and figuring the path would end soon.  Sure enough, I was correct.  After a little over a mile and a half, it finally ended and I looped back around the other side.  I shortly passed the girl.

Being on the other side was a big relief.  It was cooler there in the shade most of the way.  It was still quite hot though and after mile two I was starting to feel it.  The rough surfaces took their toll a bit too.  It wasn’t that bad, but my groin was getting sore.

I continue to be amazed at how rude people are here when you are running.  No one said hi.  Only one guy on a bike yelled “coming on your right.”  At one point two groups of walkers were passing in front of me.  The group coming at me was about 4 wide and the one girl could clearly see me coming.  She didn’t move over and I had to slow and brush up against the guy walking on my side.  I should’ve just plowed her over.

I was surprised at my pace.  I ran easy, but my time was pretty fast.  A big part of that was the flatness of the route.  At the same time though, I figured the heat would slow me a lot.  Instead, the pace was good.

I finished right around where I started and was very relieved.  It was hot and I was sweating like crazy.  My eyes have been bothered some by my allergies out.  It has caused me to rub them.  The sweat dripped into some of the sore spots and it burned.  Not too much fun.

It was another scenic and fun run.  I like exploring the city.  Indianapolis definitely has some good waterways.  I wish hills existed around here, but for now the flatness will do.

I really want to get a 5 or 6 mile run in tomorrow.  Running in the morning would be most ideal, but I’m not sure how recovered my legs will be after an evening run.  Tomorrow night, we are going to a race, so I can’t run then.  I’d either have to run in the dark or on Sunday morning (race morning).  Both might be a pain out here, as would a run in the heat during the afternoon.  We shall see what I do.

3 miles 26:25(8:49 pace)

Indy Run #1 (5/24/12)

We are on road to trip the Indy 500.  Yesterday was a travel day, so I took the day off.  I didn’t sleep much last night and we were walking around a good portion of the day, so I was a little beat.  I decided to head out for an evening run tonight though.

It was fairly hot all day, but also extremely windy.  I decided rather than run the roads around the track, I’d run along the White River.  We passed a path on the way in, so I sort of knew where to go.  We actually didn’t end up starting there though.  We drove along the path and eventually found a cool parking area.  It was near the Indianapolis Art Museum.

I started running around this art park.  It looked like there was a trail around the small lake there.  I started to follow it for a while, but came to a sign that said, “Trail may be impassible beyond this point.”  Rather than chance it, I ran the other direction.  Although the trails were long, there were a bunch of cool dirt trails all throughout the park.  There were surprisingly some hills.  After a short distance, I ended up on the river’s canal towpath.

The path was a nice, crushed white stone path.  I was glad too because I didn’t want to run on pavement.  I headed towards Broad Ripple.  That’s a bar area that I’ve been to before and I knew the canal towpath headed by there.  The running was easy, but I wasn’t feeling all that strong.  I ran at a nice and comfortable pace, but didn’t push it.

I went out until I hit the two mile point and then turned around.  There seemed to be a lot of different paths and trails shooting off the main path, but I didn’t take them.  I planned to run three miles, but ended up going an extra half mile to finish near the start.

One thing that surprised me was how unfriendly everyone was.  I expect that on the east coast, but not in Indiana.  Even a cop on a bike didn’t acknowledge me.  I only managed to get a couple smiles from some young girls after I passed them with my shirt off.  They didn’t even look at me when I first passed them clothed.  Maybe I should go skinless all the time.  Yeah right!

It was a decent run.  Certainly there won’t be a lot of challenging routes, but it was nice to run on a scenic and soft trail.  I might head more toward the city tomorrow or possibly on the actual river trail.  That looked paved though, so I’m not sure.  I still like running on the roads around the Indianapolis Motor Speedway too, so I might do that one day as well.  I plan on running tomorrow and Saturday and taking Sunday off.  Hopefully, I’ll get another run in on Monday even though I’ll be exhausted from traveling.

3.5 miles – 31:53 (9:07 pace)

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Testing It Out

Ice has definitely become my magical comeback curer.  I did a lot of icing near the sore groin area last night and it was a huge help.  I was a little sore walking around, but not bad enough that I'd skip on a run.  I decided I'd head to the softer trails of Jacobsburg and test it out.

I was in a rush to get the run.  I was at the Nazareth baseball game, which they won on a walk off double.  By the time I got to Jacobsburg it was after 7 PM.  I had to change and get running before they locked the gate.  Luckily, I was only planning on two miles.

I ran the reverse direction of a route I often take out of the parking lot.  It was tough because the first half mile plus was an uphill climb.  Going the other direction it is more abrupt than this direction was.  It was a long and gradual climb.

I came up on another guy.  I was relieved when he turned off.  I saw him earlier and he had headphones on.  I didn't want to startle him when I passed him.  The first mile went well.  It was a nice and easy pace today and my groin and legs didn't bother me much at all. 

Thankfully, the sun had dropped below the trees for the most part while I was running.  That made it cooler, but it was still very humid.  I actually ended up a bit dehydrated. 

From the half mile point on, the run was mostly flat or downhill.  From half a mile out to the turn around and back was almost all flat and winding through the open field.  It was easy to just cruise. 

When I got back to the parking lot after the downhill portion, I decided I'd add half a mile onto my run.  I did a very easy out and back on the path along the creek.  That allowed me to get two and a half miles done after yesterday's two and a half miles.

I'm really becoming an expert on pacing and coming back.  The key is to run with the same effort I did when I was in better shape.  The times just won't be as fast as they were then.  Eventually, you make progress though and the times come down.  I've almost become machine like on knowing what pace to go out.  Although I was faster downhill and flat when compared to the uphill in this run, overall I was almost a minute off my pace for fast days.  That is right about where you should be on easy days.

I'm glad I'm not sore much at all after the run.  I really wanted to be able to get this workout in because we are traveling to Indianapolis for the Indy 500 tomorrow and I don't want to try squeezing a run in there.  I'll get back to running when I get out to Indy.  It is always cool running out there.

2.5 miles - 24:16 (9:43 pace)

Monday, May 21, 2012

Back on Track

After recovering well from Saturday's long run, I decided that I'd do a track workout today to start working on my speed.  I haven't run on track since last year, so this was kind of just to get used to running fast again.  There was no set goal pace, just to run comfortably hard throughout.

Originally I thought about passing on doing this workout today because it was either cloudy or rainy all day.  Tomorrow looks like it is going to be even worse though.  Of course it was only cloudy when I left the house and then rained during the run.  It was still be better that it be rainy than really hot like it was yesterday.

Because some of the Nazareth runners were preparing for States, I waited until around 4:30 to hit the track.  There were a couple kids doing sprints when I got there, but I think they were football players.  Temperature wise, the weather was actually perfect.  The rain was the only issue.  I wasn't sure what to wear, but I just opted for a more breathable singlet.  That turned out to be a good choice.

I usually don't warm up enough for these runs.  Today, I did a half mile warmup though.  It was good to get the legs moving before flying.  I upped the pace for the fast segment and felt pretty good.  I didn't want to over do it as I was planning on doing 4X400 repeats.  That's not a lot, but it's a decent start.

When we did these in track, we usually just rested in between reps, so that's what I've typically done in my training as well.  Today, I decided to try a 400 active recovery jog in between.  It worked well although it seemed like it took me the whole 400 to recover from each set.

The weather appeared to get worse and worse too.  It wasn't actually too noticeable though while I was running.  My body seemed like it was starting to slip by the third rep.  I never pushed too hard today, even during the final rep.  I didn't quite get out of my comfortable zone.  There was no point in going too far at this soon.  I was just trying to get my legs used to running a little faster.

 One thing that sucks is my watch is terrible in rain.  It is too sensitive and it keeps changing every time a drop hits it (thinking it is my finger I guess).  Therefore, I was unable to stop it between fast and slow segments, so I don't actually know what times I ran during the speed segments.  You would think for a watch that cost over $300 there wouldn't be that problem.  I also broke the band last week and need to get a replacement one.  That's a pain because it looks like I have to get a new one online and wait for it to ship.

The other problem I encountered today was that I hurt my groin on the right side.  I did the same thing last year during speedwork too.  Then, I had to sit out a week.  Hopefully this time, aggressive icing will work.  It just gets very stiff when I sit down.  Stretching didn't help much.  Walking and keeping it loose seems to make it better.  I'll just have to monitor it.  Injuries are one of the problems of doing speedwork.  I was hoping I didn't introduce it too soon, but I probably did.

Because track practice must have just ended, there were hurdles all over the track.  I was tempted to try running them just for fun.  I don't know how they do it though.  I'm not sure I could even make it over one hurdle, let alone run it at speed.  I could definitely get over a girls hurdle though.

One cool thing that just came up is that I might try putting together some high school elite group runs in the Parkway over the summer.  A good runner from ACC messaged us about wanting to improve and join us for group runs and races.  We have some faster runs, but I'm not sure he'd find a run where people could even keep up with him.  So I was thinking of getting other good high school runs together.  I have interest from two of the top girls runners in the area, who are going to States this weekend.  That is a good start.

I'm a little concerned about the groin now, but this was still a good workout.  It is never fun on the track, but fast running is necessary.  It's the only way to get comfortable doing so in races.  Since I hurt myself, I doubt that I'll do another speed session before my Freedom to Liberty run next weekend.  I'm hoping I'll feel good and get out there to do an easy run tomorrow.  Running Wednesday with the travel I'm doing to go to the Indy 500 could be tough.

2.5 miles - 21:22 (8:34 pace)

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Back with the Breakfast Club

This morning was my first official run back with the Breakfast Club Runners.  We met at the Route 33 boat launch.  That was great because it is nice and easy for me to get to.  The trail is relatively soft and flat so that makes for an easier long run.

My longest run in this comeback was with some of the BCR folks a couple weeks ago.  On that evening, I ran 3.5 miles.  Today's goal was to get to 4 miles and maybe even 5 miles if I felt good.  I felt great and am happy to report that I completed the 5 miles.

I was hoping there would be people running around my pace.  I figured some might be too fast and maybe others too slow, but I had people to run with through most of the run.  I went under 9 minutes per mile too which was one of my goals.

The beginning was entertaining.  I ran with Sarah who I ran the relay with last fall.  I haven't talked to her much since, so it was good to chat.  She brought her dog along to run with us.  The dog was having a blast as it ran ahead of us, stopping every now and then.

After Sarah left, I ended up running with Chris.  Having conversations just make the miles click by.  My legs weren't bothering me at all so I kept going until I hit 2.5 miles.  I figured that if I could only complete 4 miles, I'd walk the last one.

Some of the guys up ahead turned around just before me, but I was persistent at turning around when my watch read 2.5 miles.  Chris kept on going, so I ran a lot of the second half alone.  It was good though because the guys just up ahead of me set a nice pace.  I was able to keep them in my sights and run solid.  Eventually they slowed towards the end and I cruised in the final half mile or so with them.

With all the running I did this week and this being 1.5 miles longer than I have run, I was surprised that I wasn't hurting more.  My legs were a little sore, but probably even less so than a lot of my other runs lately.  The soft trail definitely helped, even at a fast pace.

I wasn't planning on going to breakfast.  I figured that I'd be too sore to do so.  Since I wasn't opted for joining the group.  It was good to socialize some more, even if I didn't eat much.

What a great workout.  I knew it would be good, but it even exceeded my expectations.  I ran faster and farther than I had hoped and had fun along the way.  If I had trained with groups when I was in Philly, I probably would've qualified for Boston by now.  I will definitely get there much sooner now provided that I stay healthy.  I will reach my goal.

Although i didn't talk to her much, it was also good to see another of my former relay partners.  Bridget moved to Texas and she's come back to run the Pocono Marathon tomorrow.  If I can get everything coordinated, I'm going to head there to watch and photograph.

We'll see how I recover from this run.  I'm still going to do some icing.  If I feel good, I might run again on Monday.  I don't want to push it too much.  I'll let my body dictate what I do.  I ran only 3 miles last week and 15 miles this week.  I don't want to go too crazy.  I would like to get a speed session in before I go out to Indy in the middle of the week.

5 miles - 44:16 (8:52 pace) 

Friday, May 18, 2012

Running Anyway

Today was supposed to be an off day.  I was feeling so good and the weather was so great that I decided to go for a run.  I thought it would be the perfect kind of day to run around a lake, so I headed to Merrill Creek just north of Phillipsburg, New Jersey.

Merrill Creek has a perimeter trail that goes 5 miles around the lake.  I wasn't planning on going that far; I figured on an easy two mile run.  I discovered the place last year when I was looking at a map for mountains to run in. 

When I went there with my dad last year, I thought it was too flat.  There wasn't great elevation change where I ran, but it did catch me off guard.  It wasn't as pancake flat as I thought it would be.  It was a bit tougher than I anticipated.

The trail was tightly packed gravel.  It was almost like a road surface.  What was cool about it was that some of the trail was out in the open along the lake, while other parts were wooded.  That made for vastly different temperatures in the sun and in the shade.  I wore a singlet and was glad I did because I would've baked in the sun.

Running the section over the dam was pretty cool.  The only issue was that as I was doing it on the way out a maintenance vehicle was driving over it too.  The stone was compact in the middle of the trail, but loose and tough to run on at the edges (which was where I ended up for awhile).

I managed to get through a fairly tough uphill section just before turning around.  I even considered going out farther before coming back, but I elected to take it easy.  Yesterday's run didn't beat me up too bad, but the lack of rest definitely left me a bit sore today.  I probably should not have been running. 

My leg bothered me due to the lack of rest.  It wasn't enough to slow me down or stop me, but it was noticeable (which it hasn't been all week).  Where it really started bothering me was after I stopped running.  It then stiffened up.

I was starting to lose it at the end.  The funny thing is I looked at my watch and saw .4 miles left and thought, less than two laps around the track left.  I often think about track laps as I get towards the end of the run.  The thing that makes that so odd is that whenever I've run on a track has been fast and uncomfortable.  I'm trying to make myself feel comfortable about how close the finish is, but at the same time I'm reminding myself about terrible running experiences.

Speaking of fast, I did pick up my pace in the final quarter mile to finish strong.  I'm trying to do that at the end of runs that aren't too taxing.  It will teach me to finish fast and unleash my deadly kick.  One thing that is nice right now is that I'm not worried about the actual pace at all.  It allows me to just run relaxed and enjoy myself.  After I built up a good base, I'll become more concerned about that.

Although this place will never become a staple of my runs, it was better than I expected.  There is at least some elevation change.  Who wouldn't want to run next to a lake either.  I'll probably be back there again when I can comfortably run the full loop.  It will also likely make a good easy day when I get back into really good shape.

The goal for this week was three or four days of running.  This is already my fourth run and I'm planning to join the BCR group run tomorrow too.  I'll ice tonight and see how I recover.  I'm hoping to do 4 or 5 miles and I'm also hoping that it will be a nice pace running with a group too.  An ice bath afterward is certainly in the plans.  I'll be taking off Sunday no matter what and Monday too if I need to.

2 miles- 17:57 (8:59 pace)