Thursday, June 28, 2012

Solid Group Run

This evening was the LVRR Group Run.  It was a little hot out, but we still had a nice turn out.  Including myself and the other group run leader, we had five runners.  It was a nice and comfortable recovery run for me after a tough week.  We ran a total of four miles.

Before the run started, we had two deer hanging out near the clubhouse.  That was cool.  I'm not used to seeing them in the Parkway.  They were just hanging out.  Because of them, we headed the other way and let them be.

We went to Robin Hood Bridge and did an out and back to the end of the path.  Since I have to start slow, I let the other group run leader, Akshay take command.  It was a comfortable pace, but I didn't feel great.  The food I ate for lunch didn't agree with me.  I was wondering if I even could keep running.

It was funny because it was an easy pace, but I struggled a little.  It was almost like my body was saying, "okay this is an easy day so we are going to go easy."  I hung back and stayed with a women in the back of the group.  She even passed me going up one of the hills, as I wasn't feeling good.

When we got to the flats, I got back in front of her.  I wanted to pull her along.  I was feeling much better as time went on.  I was surprised to see that Akshay took us over the Covered Bridge.  I thought we would be going farther.  It was fine with me.

The hills going back weren't bad.  I was finally feeling good.  I pulled the women up the hills.  As we were finishing, I decided to finish fast.  Akshay hasn't run much lately, so he had to walk a little at the end.  We finished up right around the clubhouse.

Jeff and another guy went farther as the rest of us.  I took some pictures of them when they finished up.  It was great to see because a few weeks ago Jeff struggled with the hills and I had to hang back with him.  Now, he ran well.

Our runs still aren't big, but we are starting to get some regulars.  Jeff and the other guy have been there before and even though Kelley couldn't make it, she's been there twice in the last month.  It is good to get some consistency.  It's much better than when just Akshay and I ran together a couple months ago.  I wasn't very talkative tonight, but I usually am.

This was a good workout for me.  I need to take it easy sometimes.  After two hard days, it was exactly what I needed.  Now I can bounce back and run well this week.  I'm going to an auto race in New York this weekend, so I'll be running there.  Lake Seneca is near the track and it should provide some beautiful areas to run at.  The Finger Lakes Trail runs along the edge of the lake.  There is plenty of room to run within the track too.  I also may run steps in the stands.

4 miles - 40:22 (10:06 pace)

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Shorter South Mountain Loop

I was looking for another challenging day today.  Since it was a little on the warm side by the afternoon, I opted for South Mountain near Lehigh.  I missed Dave's run there on Sunday, but luckily he didn't take the pink ribbons down yet.

The start was tough.  Not only was I slow, but my wound burned a bit.  I had some anti chafe cream near it, so maybe some of that got in there.  Not sure, but the beginning was a struggle.  One nice thing is that early on is downhill.  That doesn't last very long though.

Within the first two and a half minutes, I already spotted a deer on the trail.  He ran down the hill and the trail actually looped around him.  When I passed him the second time, he just watched me.  I'm glad I didn't make him run back up the hill.  I was only about 10-15 yards away too.  It was the first of four deer that I came across along the trail.  I'm sure there were some more that I didn't even notice.

Shortly after my deer encounter, I was across the road and starting the long climb.  It was very taxing.  I was only a little over a mile in and I was exhausted already.  I saw my second deer around this point.  It was much easier last time I was there because I walked that stretch.  Today, I tried running on the uphills.  It was a slow go and difficult, but I managed it.

Once I finally got to the downhill and flat portions things flew by.  While the first mile seemed like it took forever, the second mile was gone before I knew.  I was sweating pretty good uphill, but downhill was great among the trees.  It was nice a cool.

The next section seemed familiar.  It wasn't just from Dave's run.  I had hiked parts of it near South Mountain Park last year.  I wasn't far from the disc golf course.  There are a lot of off shoot trails here that I'll have to explore in the future.  I'm actually glad the pink ribbons were still there, because I likely would've taken a wrong turn through this section.

At about the two and a half mile mark, I came across the trail where Dave laid out the cooler last time for a water stop.  To my disappointment, it wasn't still there.  I had a hydration pack anyway, so it was no worry.

Right after the water stop section is a grassy area with all this weird art.  It is interesting, but I really didn't have time to look.  Running through the high grass is a little tough.  I also worry some about ticks in this area.  Thankfully, I didn't find any after the run.

After the open area, it was back into the woods.  There was still some tough climbing.  Luckily, the hardest section was the beginning in that respect.  I didn't remember as much uphill in this section last time.  I remember flying downhill, but there really wasn't much of that until right at the end.  It didn't matter too much though since I don't have any speed for descending right now.

Before I knew it, I was at the four mile point and back at the water stop.  From there I could take a longer loop, but this was enough for the day.  The trail came out near the frats at Lehigh I still had a lot of ascending to finish the route.

The last mile on roads was a gradual climb.  It seemed like forever out in the sun.  Luckily, there was a nice breeze.  I kept checking my watch over and over again, hoping to be done.  I was finally finished right near my car.  It was a solid five miles.  I wish I would've been a little faster and ran the route under an hour.

This was another tough run.  It didn't beat me up as much as Trexler yesterday, but it was still very challenging.  I'm very proud that I was able to keep running throughout the route.  There were a few times where I considered walking, but I had to tough it out.  It was great to finish the whole thing running.

After the run I was hoping to go near the frats and get some cool trail pictures.  Of course two Lehigh police vehicles had to be parked right where I wanted to go.  I guess I'll get photos next time.

Tomorrow, I'm planning on running the LVRR Group Run in the evening.  It will be good to be back, even if I have to start slow.  I was considering a flat recover run.  Some people are running Trexler in the AM.  I'm tempted, but that just seems a little too crazy.  I need to give my legs some recovery.  I might just do some afternoon core work.

5.0 miles - 1:01:29 (12:18 pace)

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Shorter Trexler Loop

It was only my second run back, but of course I'm not one for taking the easy route.  Therefore, I headed to Trexler to challenge myself late this afternoon.  The goal was to run at least five miles and I did that.  I was hoping I'd be able to get the entire loop in, but I'm not strong enough for that yet.

The route starts with a downhill and then and short uphill to get warmed up.  With my wound, I probably could've used a little more of a warmup.  It didn't bother me too much though.  About a third of a mile in there is a big climb.  The last two times there I was forced to walk it.  I don't know whether I'm getting stronger or the slower pace helped, but I got up this hill without much trouble.

It was great start.  Climbed a few of the other hills nice and easy.  The long climb wasn't bad either.  I managed to finish that one last time too though.  It is much more gradual than a lot of the hills there.  The tough part about this climb was the lack of shade.  While it was 75 degrees and breezy, it still felt hot.  Wearing a hydration system certainly wasn't helping.  I hate some sections of this climb because they are on grass and I don't like running on grass.

The winds were pretty impressive while I was at the top.  At one point, I knew I'd have to turn and face them.  It actually wasn't as bad as I thought.  After some brief downhill relief, it was on to more hills.  I was thrilled that I continued to be able to run up them.  I knew the big hill was eventually coming though.

Running through a flatter stretch, I started getting lightheaded at around three and a third miles.  Not sure if I was that exhausted or what.  It might've been the medicine that I'm now on for Crohn's.  It is strong stuff that is used in Leukemia treatment.  Hopefully that isn't going to wear me out.  I was drinking plenty of water, so I doubt I was dehydrated.

I was doing well until the big hill.  It isn't that long, but it is straight up and does seem never ending.  It's probably the toughest incline that I've ever run on.  I started running up it, but became demoralized when I saw what I thought was the top.  It turns out it wasn't even close.  I ended up walking most of the hill.  It is even tough to walk up.  I had my hands pushing my knees and I got winded.  I had nearly made it four miles before walking, so I was proud of that. 

The hill just took everything out of me though.  My pace had been a solid 11:15 range, after that it dropped a full minute overall to around 12:15.  I was forced to walk up another fairly steep hill after that too.  It was looking more and more like I wouldn't be able to finish the full loop.

I got near the LV Zoo and decided to keep going.  I was right around five miles at this point.  I quickly decided that it was best to just take the shortcut back to the parking area.  Even though the rest of the course isn't as difficult as the part I had come through, I knew it would take a lot of effort to finish.  I didn't want to attempt that for just a midweek run.

I was hoping I could get to the six mile point.  Rather that going through the creek again, I opted for pedestrian bridge.  I started trail one of the trails back to the parking area, but it involved more climbing.  I also knew the climbing wouldn't end until I was back at the start, so I had to walk after 5.6 miles.  On the walk back, I spotted two baby deer on the trail.  I then saw their mother nearby.  She was worried about the young ones, that is for sure.  They initially froze, but then ran back to her.  It was a cool site.

I ran as much as I was hoping to.  I just didn't complete my big goal of finishing the whole loop.  Trexler always seems to humble me.  I get exhausted and beat up like no other run does to me.  I almost felt like I had run a marathon.  When I walked most of the uphills last month, completing the loop wasn't too bad.  With more running today, it was brutal.

I'm not sure what I should do during the Quadzilla race.  I think I have to pick some hills to walk up and others to run up.  I plan on a few more runs at Trexler between now and then, but I still won't be that strong.  I'm just happy that I'll be able to finish it.  Next year when I'm much stronger will really be the time to run.

I don't know what my plan will be for tomorrow yet.  I was thinking of going to Trexler again.  I might opt for some other hills, like the Lehigh Gap Nature Center.  It will be hotter tomorrow, but still not too bad.  I might go run the trails at Lehigh University.  Some of that might depend on whether my shoes dry out after today's creek crossing.

5.6 miles - 1:08:12 (12:11 pace)

Sunday, June 24, 2012

I'm Back!

The last ten days have been a mix of highs and lows.  I was disappointed that they found issues when I went in for surgery.  I was happy after surgery that I didn't feel bad at all and it was much better than the last two times I had this type of surgery.  I then got down again because I became sore as the days went on.  It then got worse when I couldn't even hill sprint on Thursday.  Running steps yesterday put me back on a high and today's run took me even higher.

Originally I wasn't planning on doing any running today.  I couldn't get up and join Dave's run this morning.  If I was running, I could've drug myself out of bed, but I wasn't too eager to do so to hike.  After reading all the fun everyone had, I got the itch to try a run.

As the day wore on, I passed on running.  I decided to give it a go after dark.  This was partly due to me eating late (Arby's) and partly due to the heat.  I decided that I would stay close to home and run the Blue Eagle 5k route.

I walked briefly to start and then began with very slow running.  It is always amazing how much harder it is to run slow than it is to run fast.  Taking all the extra steps just puts so much stress on the legs.  I felt awful in the first quarter mile, but it was great to be running.

My wound wasn't bothering me too much, but it was causing me to change form.  Somewhere between a quarter mile and half mile, I noticed I was running a pedestrian 12:34 pace.  It seemed like I'd never get done.  Then something amazing happened.  I was feeling better so I increased my stride a little.  When I did that, I felt even better still.  I knew I was going to complete the run and I knew I was back!

By biggest concern up to that point with regard to finishing wasn't actually my wound, but my shins.  That slower, awkward form was causing me some shin discomfort and it was still early on.  Once I picked up the pace, I felt free and that discomfort was gone.

Of course at this point I still had two miles to run and this isn't the easiest course either.  Nevertheless, I was ecstatic.  I cruised along at a comfortable, but still fairly hard effort.  My pace really began to increase.  With the slow start, my pace was 10:56 for the first mile, but I ran a 9:18 second mile.  My third and final full mile, I was booking and ran a 9 flat.

The only thing that was disappointing was that I was close to breaking 30 minutes and actually could've done so with a better start.  The run was still very encouraging.  I certainly felt a little rusty too, like I had not actually run in ten days.  Although the temperature wasn't bad, the humidity was pretty brutal.

It was another great run for me and I continue to exceed expectations.  I thought I might be able to complete a 5k, but never thought I could still have this kind of pace this soon back without fully being healed.  I'm also amazed at how the wound is responding to this running.  I guess sitting around a doing nothing makes it stiff and exercise loosens it up and makes it better.  I feel great now even an hour after my run.  The doctor said running could help it heal, but I didn't know it would work this well and be this noticeable.

I signed up for the Quadzilla again early last week.  Even though I had not run, I was still fairly confident I could run the race.  I began doubting myself a little with some of the setbacks last week.  Now that this run is over I KNOW I can run the race in three weeks.

From here on out it is all about preparing for Quadzilla.  I need to work in a lot of hills and even run the course itself a few times.  I want to be able to run more of the hills than I did during the group run a couple weeks ago.  There is a steep hill near the main building that has become my nemesis.  I had to walk up parts of it both times that I ran there this spring.  I might try some repeats there in the coming weeks.

I'd love to also beat my 5k time from the Blue Eagle 5k last year.  That race is in the beginning of August.  I'm not sure how much speedwork I can do between now and then, so I'm not sure how possible that is.  Looking at my last two miles today, it wasn't much different than most of my recent workout times.  The hard workouts and races were faster, but this was on par with most of my other runs.

I don't know what I'm going to do next.  I need to get to Trexler sometime this week.  I should probably take tomorrow off, but I'm so hungry to run.  I'm not sure I can get myself to commit to rest.  Maybe I'll do some core work.  I definitely need to do that.  I'm putting on the weight now and developing a bit of a belly.  I'm already 150 pounds and I'd like to get back down to 140 to race at.  Starting to eat healthier is definitely a must too.

3.16 miles - 30:31 (9:40 pace)

Saturday, June 23, 2012

One Step at a Time

After over a week of not being able to run, I was able to get a workout done today.  I knew I had to try something.  I was thinking that maybe I could run either after a decent warmup or by shortening my stride and running slow.  I needed to try something.  I was getting stir crazy.

I unsuccessfully attempted hills sprints last week.  When I ran the steps at Fisher Stadium before my surgery, I realized that it forced me into a slower turnover.  I tested the steps at my house and found that I could run up them without much discomfort.  So I headed to Lafayette to give steps a try.

I warmed up with a brief lap around the track.  After that, I planned on running up and down the steps 5 straight times and then resting and doing it all over again.  It wasn't going to be fast paced with recovery like last time I ran there, but I figured I could go slow and run continuous.

It is hard to really even call it running.  It was only slightly faster than a walk, but it was better than nothing and it certainly wound up being a quality workout.  The first rep went pretty well and I felt comfortable after not too long.  There was still some minor discomfort, but I barely noticed it. 

My pace was definitely slow.  It took me 37 seconds to get to the top.  Two weeks ago, my hard running was done around 28 seconds.  I slowly ran back down too.  By the end of the second rep, I was already starting to feel it.  I was overcompensating for my injury and could feel it with my right foot getting sore.  It was especially tough as I went around the tunnel in the stands.  After two reps, I was already pretty beat, but I kept going.

I had hoped for five reps, but it was just too tough.  The up and down was hard and it was blazing hot out too.  I managed to get to the fourth rep.  My quads were burning during the downhill of the third and fourth rep.  I guess that is good since I'm training for the Quadzilla.

After that first set was over, I walked a little to recover.  I also gulped down some water.  When I was ready to go, I embarked on the second set.  By now, I was starting to feel better and comfortable.  My form was still a little messy and my foot continued to bother me, but I improved some.  The short strides were definitely a help and as I loosened up and ran more, the sore area felt better.  It seems worse when I sit on it for a long time.  The second set was a lot like the first.  I felt good on the first couple, but exhausted in the last two.  I had to keep going and finish the workout though.

After I was done, I even did a short cool down run for about a tenth of a mile.  That was very slow, but I didn't feel bad there either.  I was warmed up.  I finished up with only a half mile of actually running, but it was still a very good workout.  I don't know if it was the long layoff or the workout was tougher than I gave it credit for, but I was beat afterward.  It was hard going up and down steps.  I'm hoping it isn't my new Crohn's medication that was making me sluggish.  It is some powerful stuff.

This was a great workout and I'm thrilled I was able to do something.  I'm also thrilled that I can work on an incline.  That will help keep me strong for Quadzilla.  Even if my workouts don't comprise of a big quantity of running at least they will be quality workouts.  Hopefully my body will get used to running after a few of these sessions and I can resume to normal.

I need to do some more stuff to supplement my training too.  When I'm healthy, I need to consistently run hill sprints and drills.  I also bough a pilates core workout tape that I'd like to start using.  I really need to eat healthier too.  I had a breathing device that the hospital gave me from my surgery in the winter.  I want to find it so that I can improve my breathing as well.  I want to make myself a more complete runner.

Dave put together another fun trail run at Lehigh for tomorrow.  I plan on going, but most likely will hike and take pictures.  I never know with myself though.  If I'm feeling good, I might go crazy and run some of it too.  At least if I can hike and run steps, I should be able to remain pretty strong for Quadzilla in less than three weeks.  I'm not worried about my time there.  I just want to finish it.  Today was a big help toward achieving that goal.

0.5 miles - 14:40 (29:21 pace)

Friday, June 22, 2012

The Next Year or So

Well I tried to run the other day, but it is uncomfortable and my form was awkward.  I feel like I might be able to gut through it if I needed to, but it is probably best to rest a little longer.  I'll see when I get out there again.

I can't wait to get back to running and I'm definitely going to give Quadzilla a try even though I'm not going to be near 100%.  I just love running that course so much and I don't want to have to wait another year to run it again.  Missing it last year was difficult enough.

What I'm really struggling with right now besides the injury is where I want to go with my running.  I enjoy road running and going fast and improving there.  My love for trail running is so much greater though.  I love the beauty of the trail and also the challenge that each new hill or turn brings.  I'm not one for pancake flat racing and running super fast times. 

That leads to my dilemma.  The more I read about ultrarunning and especially the crazy 100 milers in Colorado and California, the greater the itch gets to try my hand at those.  I was watching a video of the Leadville 100 again today.  It is set with U2's "Beautiful Day" in the background and it always brings a tear to my eye.  I hope to one day make it into a race there, the Western States 100 or Hardrock 100.

In the meantime though, I'm struggling with what I want to do next spring.  Do I want to chase Boston again or do I want to go after my first ultra?  I was looking at the North Face 50 miler in NY early next spring.  I'd love to be able to do that and also run a BQ in the process of training for that.  It would probably be very tough to do both.

I feel like I can get fast enough to qualify for Boston by next spring if I solely concentrate on that, but I wouldn't be able to put in enough long runs to complete an ultra too.  I'll have to pick one or the other come this winter.  Maybe I'll shoot for an ultra and try to BQ in the fall or maybe I'll try to BQ in the spring and shoot for an ultra like the Vermont 50 in the fall.  I'm just not even sure where my priority lies now.

I tell people all the time to be patient, but it is so hard for me.  I have such big running dreams and goals.  I am learning to be more patient when it comes to my actual training.  I'm still too impatient and dream too big in my head though.

Qualifying for Boston is a big goal for me too, but it almost doesn't seem challenging enough any more.  For me, the challenge and reason it has eluded me has been my inability to stay healthy.  I certainly don't want to say Boston is easy for me.  I trained very hard and missed it by three and a half minutes in 2010.  The thing is though that I was only training for a year at that point.  I feel like if I could string together two years of solid training, I'd be well under the time I need and it's very achievable.  I just missed it with  a tad over 60 miles per week of training.  If I can stay healthy, I plan to bump my training into the 80+ mile range, so that should really decrease my time too.

I probably don't give finishing an ultra quite enough respect either, but that seems like more of a challenge and something I'd enjoy more.  It also seems like the route I'll end up going in the end.  I just see myself more as an ultrarunner than a road runner.  My biggest concern with ultras would actually be trying to fuel properly with my Crohn's Disease.  That would be a great way to take on my disease and show it that I'm going to win.

It's funny because I grew up near plenty of mountains, but I never spent any time in them.  Now that I've started running some of them and just tough trails in general, I've fallen in love with them.  I keep telling my parents that I just want to live in some crappy cabin in the woods right next to a bunch of trails.  That sounds perfect to me.  I'm happy to live a simple life and not have much money if it means I get to enjoy my running even more.  I don't know if I'll ever move out of this general area again, but if I do, I know I'll wind up in the mountains of Colorado.

What to do, what to do?

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Doing a Little Walking

I haven't been feeling that great since my surgery, so I've been inactive.  It isn't as bad as the two previous times I've had this surgery, but it has been uncomfortable.  I'm not sure when I'll actually get back to running yet.

Today was a decent first step though.  Some of the BCR decided this afternoon to go for a run.  I opted to join them, but walk at the Plainfield Rail Trail.  I figured it was at least worth a shot.

They started off running and I brought my camera and took some pics.  It was kind of cool walking for once and looking at nature.  I got some pictures of a turkey vulture in a nearby tree.  I never would've noticed that while running.  I also had a squirrel with a nut.  There was some nice scenery.

I started off slow and had no plan on where to go.  I was a little sore, but not too bad.  I decided I'd try for a mile and a half.  When I got that far, I was still feeling good.  I kept going and made it a two mile walk.  With my slow pace and stopping for some picture taking, it took quite awhile.

I actually timed it perfectly.  The group came back from their run just as I was finishing up.  I decided to chat for a bit.  It was good just to get outside.  The next two days are going to be brutal, so even if I wanted to, I'm not sure I'd be out there exercising.

Walking without too much trouble was a very positive result, especially going as far as I did.  I have a month until the Quadzilla.  I won't lose too much fitness even if I don't run much between now and then.  The big thing is that I need to be comfortable enough to run/walk for nine miles.

I think I could run a bit now.  The problem I might have is with form.  I couldn't walk properly tonight, so I'm sure if I ran my form would be way off.  That could lead to some injuries.  There's no need to rush back.

The good thing is this showed that I should be able to do some hiking for fitness as I heal.  I'm hoping I can at least do some short running sessions to like hill repeats.  That will at least keep me strong for Quadzilla.  I'm healing better each day.  I just have to see where it takes me.  I'm really hoping I can be back to running a couple miles by this time next week.  We'll see what happens.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Post Surgery Update

Yesterday I had minor surgery.  It was a mix of news.  The bad news is that I did have a fistula, two in fact.  The good news is that one was already healing on its own and neither was that large.  Perhaps the best news of all was that I didn't have any pain.  I wasn't given a timetable on when I can run again, but I was told running could help it heal.

When I had fistula surgery the last two times, I was in a lot of pain before.  I was forced to stay at the hospital overnight and had pain and a long recovery afterward.  I was cut up pretty bad and it took a couple months to recover.  I was cut some yesterday and had some bleeding for the first day.  It will still take time to heal, but it won't be as bad as the last two times.

I feel as though I can already do most normal things.  It doesn't feel much different than before surgery.  Obviously, I was cut and still require some healing.  I'm going to take a couple days off from running and let everything get better.

I'm going to go out on Monday and give running a try again.  If it doesn't bother me, then I'll just jump right back into it.  If I need to back off a little or rest a bit longer, then I'll do that too.  If I don't have any problems, I'll be signing up for a bunch of races, including the Quadzilla 15k.

It wasn't quite the news I was hoping for, but it appears that my recovery won't be too long.  I'm very happy about that because I don't want to lose a lot of fitness.  I want to be strong and keep getting stronger.  I already started putting together my fall training plan with hopes that I can come back soon.  I definitely need to work in some more hills and speed to get stronger and faster.  Overall, I'm happy with how things have turned out thus far.  I'm also going to the doctor on Tuesday and should be getting on some Crohn's medicine again.  Hopefully that will limit my future problems.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Double Hill Day

Since this is my last day before surgery and I might be out for awhile, I wanted to challenge myself.  The hills were calling.  I had not been to Bear Creek yet this year, so I planned to head there in the morning.  I also decided to see if I could get the BCR folks together for running steps at Lafayette's football stadium.

The weather was almost perfect when I started at Bear Creek.  Last year, it took me quite a few times there before I could run the whole thing without walking.  That was my goal for this day.  Although it is a climb to the top of a ski slope, it starts out downhill and flat for awhile.  I weaved in and out of this area with no trouble.  It was a good warmup.

The legs were then ready as I started the climb.  The trail doesn't go straight up, so although the run isn't easy, it is a more gradual uphill for the most part.  It was still a tough climb, but I wasn't doing much huffing and puffing.

I passed some hikers on the way up and was cruising and feeling good.  Some sections are pretty rocky and technical and thus a bit challenging.  At one point the climb gets pretty steep adjacent to the ski slope.  I knew this section wasn't too long, so I battled through it.

The cruel part is that after climbing pretty hard, you drop back down again on the backside of the mountain.  That is a good recovery and nice and fast, but what goes down must come back up again to reach the summit.

The back section is mostly flat or downhill as you near the end of the first half of the run.  There are some climb that are a little tough, but they are usually short.  Recovery is possible.  The trail is winding and that slows the pace a bit.  There is a smooth and wide open section and I tried to open it up and fly while I was there.

Toward the top, I really started to struggle.  I thought I was climbing to the summit and I was breathing heavy.  It turned out there was still one more tough section before the top.  I made it through both, but it was very hard.  I didn't know that section too well, but I kept pushing through the tiredness and soreness because I knew the top was near and it was mostly downhill from there.

It was relieved when I reached the top.  You briefly go across the top of the ski slope and have a great view.  I was too tired to look though.  I walked very briefly.  Throughout the climb, I walked no more than a step or two.  Usually that was a short lived rest when I reached the top of a climbing section.

Coming downhill was fun, almost too much fun.  From the top, the descend is initially pretty steep.  I was going down it too fast and almost fell.  I was able to slow down and cruise at a much more reasonable pace.

The downhill part flies by.  There are some long and fast sections where you can really cruise.  One seems to be an old rail bed as there are still some ties in the trail.  I wasn't killing myself at any point in the run, but I definitely pushed more downhill.

As I got near the conference center, I realized that I'd be very close to breaking an hour.  Last year, it took me just over an hour to complete the loop, although it seems I ran a little further than (5.1 miles instead of 5).  There are some slight inclines and this section is more technical than most of the descending side, but it is still quite fast.

There is a mountain bike area and I always seem to get lost there.  I think I did an extra unecassary loop through that area.  The trail markings are a little confusing as to which direction the trail goes.  There were a couple times throughout the run where I almost when on the wrong trail.  It is pretty well marked for the most part though.

I finished up running quite hard.  I ran across the parking area and was just short of five miles.  I decided to head back into the trail briefly until I hit that part.  I completed the five miles in just under an hour.  That was great as it was faster than the only other time I finished the loop last year.  That was at the end of August too, so I'm way ahead of schedule.

I know I'm faster than I was at the same time last year, but I was still unsure how good my ascending ability was.  Some tough hilly runs over the last two week have definitely strengthened me.  I didn't think I was quite this far along on hilly terrain, so I am very pleased with my progress in this area too.

The second part of my hill day included running the steps at Lafayette's Fisher Stadium.  It was cool because I've been an LC football season ticket holder since 1992, but I've never run there.  The BCR have been doing this for awhile, but I never joined them.  I thought I'd see if anyone wanted to go and initially Bob was going to join me.  Something came up though.  I figured I'd go and if anyone else was there to join me, great.  If not, I'll just run alone.

I arrived a little too late to have some company.  A group of about eight girls, presumably Lafayette athletes, was running the steps with their coached.  They finished up as I was getting ready to run.  When the renovated the football field a couple years ago, they took away most of the track.  There are still about two lanes remaining though.  I warmed up on them with an easy half mile.

After the warmup, I started on the steps.  I really had no set plan.  I was hoping to do around five reps.  I went up them and then walked back down for recovery.  The bottom of each rep wasn't bad, but going around one of the tunnels and the top part of the climb were tough.  It was also a bit difficult for me too because I'm not used to such a quick cadence.  I usually take longer strides uphill.  It is better to take shorter ones though, so this was good practice.  I suppose that I could've skipped steps too, but this worked out fine.

I was pretty beat already by the second rep.  My breathing was a little heavy, but my quads were taking a pounding.  It was hot too.  My times were pretty consistent.  Although my first rep was 25 seconds, most of the time, it took me 29 seconds to complete.  My slowest rep was 30 seconds.  My last rep was at 28 seconds.  I ended up doing six reps total. 

After the fourth rep, I stopped a little longer to grab a sip of water.  That extra recovery was a big boost.  I felt much better on the fifth rep.  The last rep was tough, but I knew I was done.  Walking down wasn't too easy either.  It took awhile for my quads to recover. 

All those reps up and down only actually accounted for about a quarter mile of distance.  I might've been able to do some more, but I didn't want to push it too far.  There's plenty of time for more reps later.  I got what I needed accomplished today. 

My cool down was about three quarters of a mile slowly around the track.  This time there were some other runners on the track.  I found a penny that was heads up right before my warmup.  Normally, I'm not superstitious, but I decided to pick it up.  Hopefully it'll bring me luck for tomorrow's surgery.  If not, I'll get rid of it.  I just thought maybe it was a sign.  My sore area got so much smaller since I first discovered it in March.  There's almost nothing there now, so I'm really hoping the doctor finds nothing and that it is nearly healed.

I hope next time I do this workout it will be with the BCR group.  I'm not sure quite how they structure this workout.  I'm thinking maybe next time, I'll do five or six reps, then a recover half mile on the track, then another five or six reps.  After some recovery, I definitely felt like I could do more.

It was a great day on the hills and I'm getting so much stronger.  I can't wait to get tomorrow over with and find out which direction I'm heading.  Hopefully, it will be back to running over the weekend.  If not, I've built myself up pretty strong and I'll come back again.  I'd for it to be nothing so that I can put together an actual training plan and also sign up for races.  At least I'll finally know it 24 hours.

5 miles - 59:42 (11:56 pace)

1.5 miles 23:26 (15:39 pace)

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Rainy Double Schoeneck Loop

My surgery got postponed, so I was out running again today.  I went to the hospital and got registered and then the doctor told me we were going to have to reschedule because he had some emergency surgery to do.  I was disappointed because I just want to get this procedure over with.

It has been raining all day, so I was considering taking another day off.  My body could probably use the rest.  However, my doctor's office called and rescheduled my surgery for Thursday, so I want to keep running over the next two days.  I don't know when I'll be out so now isn't the time to rest.  After surgery it can be.

I was considering running at Bear Creek, but with lightning being possible, I didn't want to be near so many trees or get stuck too far from my car.  I opted instead to run Schoeneck.  I was hoping to complete two loops there, but I wasn't sure I'd be able to in the wet conditions.  I had never run two consecutive loops there before.

The big issue before the run was whether or not to wear a jacket.  My rain jacket is just too heavy for summer days.  I definitely need to invest in a lighter jacket.  I knew wearing just a shirt would get waterlogged.  I figured I could get through one loop that way, so I'd just go out with that on.  It was a good decision.  My other concern was chafing, because I had some issues with that in the long run over the week.  I put all the necessary creams on today and experienced no problems with that.

One thing that was an issue is that I didn't take the time to warmup.  Normally, this wouldn't be that big of a deal, I could just start out slowly.  The problem was in this route it is uphill at the start.  Because I wasn't warmed up, my shins bothered me a lot on the initial climb.  I was even wondering if I'd make it to the top.  I was wearing new compression legs sleeves and I began questioning if they weren't contributing to the problem.

I took it easy on the first climb.  It was a little challenging, but I eventually adapted.  Schoeneck is tough, but it is actually easy compared to a lot of places that I run.  The incline is long, but it isn't too steep.  It just seems to take awhile to finish.

One nice thing is that running uphill meant there wasn't standing water on the middle of the road.  So I was lucky that the cars driving by didn't splash me.  Some water was running along the edge of the road and occasionally I had to run through it.  People in cars must have thought I was crazy to be running in the rainy conditions and going uphill.  They'd be right.

The rain actually wasn't too bad on the first climb.  My shirt was relatively dry for the first mile and a half or so.  On the way downhill, it seemed like things picked up.  I ran past Marco Andretti's house and a beat up truck emerged.  I figured it couldn't be him and I was right.  It must have been a maintenance man's truck or something.  That would've been cool if it was actually him taking the trash out.

Downhill was certainly easy.  My legs recovered, so I decided that I would do a second loop.  I didn't want to go all the way back to the middle school, so at the bottom of the hill I tried to find some roads to get me back onto Schoeneck.  It worked and I came out right at the bottom of the hill.

I ran by the East Lawn Fire Company during this segment.  Right after I went through there, the fire alarm sounded.  I'm glad I missed it because it was loud.  That probably would've been deafening if I was right near it.

The second climb was certainly tough.  My legs started feeling it towards the top.  It still wasn't overly challenging though.  I actually thought it would be a lot harder than it was.  The slow pace might've made it much easier.  I will definitely have to try to push myself more on the climbs next time.  The downhill half gives such a good recovery anyway.

On the way up, there was a banana peel along the side of the road.  With that and the rain, I felt like I was in a video game with obstacles to overcome.  Cruising downhill was easy and I was thrilled to see my overall pace drop below 9:45.  On the way down, I saw a cool 9/11 tribute in someone's yard that I've never seen before.

As I made my way back toward the middle school, I was closing in on six miles.  I decided I'd run in front of the high school to get to that point.  There's a very short hill alongside of the high school and I pushed hard up it.  I was done shortly after that.

It was such a fun run.  I love running hills and I love running in challenging conditions.  The rain actually wasn't too bad until the last mile or so.  By then, my clothes were soaked.  It was one of the those days where you hate to get out of the house or car to start the run, but once you do get going it is so rewarding.  That's especially true after it is over.  There aren't too many people willing to train in conditions this bad.  Most would opt for indoors.  Me, I love the challenge of the elements.  I do need to add a hat and jacket to make runs like this more pleasant though.

Since I don't know how long I'll be out, I'm going to try some more hill running tomorrow.  I need to get stronger on the hills.  I might try my hand at Bear Creek again.  I don't think I can complete the climb without stopping yet, but I want to give it a try.  There could still be some leftover mud there too.  That would be fun.  I'm hoping Thursday's surgery goes well and I'm back on the trails and roads by the weekend.  If not, I'll deal with it like I always do and come back stronger.  I'm getting kind of used to that anyway.

6 miles - 58:12 (9:42 pace) 

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Last Run

Today was my last run of a long six straight days.  I'm having minor surgery tomorrow, so I wanted to get a good week in.  I'm not sure how long I'm out.  If they find something wrong, it could be a couple months ago.  That will determine my future running plans.  If everything goes well, I'm going to sign up for plenty of upcoming races.

After a challenging loop at Trexler yesterday, I needed an easy recovery run today.  I thought that I'd go out to Camp Olympic in Emmaus and give those trails another try.  Last time I was there, I couldn't find them.  I had a map this time though.  I did find the trail, but it was mostly wide grass around a field.  There is talk of making it a cross country course and I can see why.  That is basically what it is.  I don't like running on cross country courses though because running on grass can be tough.  It is so uneven.

Since I wasn't far from the Parkway, I decided to run there.  I was near the Fish Hatchery, so I parked across the street from there.  There was a small arts festival going on.  I ran on the south side of the creek to start out.  I was going to stay on that side because it seemed cooler and more shaded.  Then I realized there were a lot more hills there.  I wasn't looking for a hill workout, just some easy recovery running.

I turned back and crossed the road onto the other side of the creek.  I cruised along nice and easy.  My legs felt no affects from yesterday.  I recovered very well.  I did some icing and wore both compression socks and shorts.  It was after 11 AM and it was quite warm and humid on that side at that point.  Luckily, I wasn't planning on going very far.

One thing that sucked was that I didn't have my regular running shoes.  I was planning on doing trails, so I only had my trail shoes and the Karhu Strong Ride shoes that I wore there.  The Karhu shoes are kind of narrow in the toe box and I never ran much in them, so I've been using them as walking shoes.  Although they were a little snug, especially with my thicker trails socks; they weren't too bad on this short run.

When I got to the covered bridge, I changed my mind about the hills.  I crossed over and ran the short hill section back to the clubhouse.  That gave me some nice hills at a slow pace.  After the clubhouse I ran on the road for a short distance before turning around.

The turnaround spot was at the two mile point.  I only planned on another mile, two if I felt great.  The last mile of my run was uneventful.  At about two and a half miles, I was tiring a bit, so I decided I'd definitely end the run at three miles.  For the rest of the run, I just concentrated on my form and keeping my elbows in.  My paced picked up a little even though my effort didn't.

I finished up just past the covered bridge.  When I got to the Rout 78 overpass, I decided to do a couple short hills sprints.  The hill under the bridge was very steep.  I ran straight up it for about 10 or 12 seconds each rep.  I only did three of them, but was left exhausted.  I need to incorporate more hill sprint into my plan when I come back.

I don't know when I'll be back to running again.  If all goes well, I'm still taking at least two days off.  I might just come back on Thursday for the group run.  We'll see.  Whenever I come back, I'm going to start by making an actually training plan in addition to signing up for some races.  I hope my layoff isn't too long as I'm itching to run a lot more.

3 miles - 29:53 (9:58 pace)

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Conquered Trexler

Today I completed the Trexler Nature Preserve Border Trail loop for the first time.  The best I was able to do last year was 5 miles.  The loop is only 8.5 miles, but it is a bear of a course.  The hills seem to never end.  It is the site of next month's Quadzilla 15k and if all goes well with my surgery on Monday, I will be re-entering that race.

I slept very poorly last night.  Not only did I get home late, but then I couldn't fall asleep.  I didn't start sleeping until sometime around 3 AM and I had to be up by 6 AM.  I almost considered skipping the run.  I really wanted to go though because this is the last good chance for a group run there before the race.  I might be able to pull together the BCR to do it sometime, but I wanted to go today.  I figured I'd at least give it a try and if I didn't feel good, I'd stop early.

Not only was I tired, but my leg had some minor soreness too.  I was nervous that it might cause me trouble on a long and tough run.  It wasn't a problem though.  The run went pretty well from that standpoint.

The start of the course is tough.  It has a steep early downhill, but then there is a big climb following it.  I really wanted to run up that, but I just didn't have it in me.  I was behind the fastest three or four guys at this point.  Two others were able to run up it and pass me.  The three of us would end up running most of the route together.

I flew on the next downhill, like I always do.  I passed them both back and managed to climb fairly well on the semi short next hill.  After that comes some road and a fun rocky section.  Following that was the longest climb of the run.  It isn't steep, but very gradual and seems to go on forever.  Luckily, there are some parts that level off and I was able to recover on those.  I managed to run that whole part.  Aaron was hanging back for awhile and passed me on this part.

I had put some distance between me and the other runners on the downhill, but they were right on my tail at the top of the climb.  I can't remember exactly where they passed me again, but it had to be one of the tough hills on the backside.

I ended up walking most of these hills at this point.  It is hill after hill after hill.  I could've run up one or two of them, but it was too early in the run to take a chance.  I also haven't run most of the back part of the course either, so I didn't know what to expect.  I wanted to save something for the last few miles.

The creek crossing was fun.  The water was up to about half way up our knees.  The three of us crossed together.  They continued to leave me in the dust on the climbs and I'd catch up or go past on the downhill.

The section that I've never run actually wasn't too bad.  There isn't nearly as much uphill as other parts of the loop.  Of course, there are always climbs in this run.  I did alright through some of the gradual climbs and it was nice running through the grassland in this section.  I was able to catch the other two, but figured there was no point in passing them since they were stronger on the hills.

This was one of the few times I actually ended up talking with them.  Twice we sort of weren't sure where the trail went.  It was generally pretty easy to follow though.  We never got lost. 

The three of us then came through the last section that I've run before.  On the stone road, it was slightly uphill and I didn't like the terrain so I walked a bit.  I got back to running and caught back up to the other two on the winding section.  There were some gradual climbs and they really helped to pull me along.  If I ran this section alone, I might've been walking.

I was a little disappointed that I had to walk up the second to last climb of the run.  It was just too steep though.  That's one thing that was frustrating during the run.  Even if I wanted to run some of the climbs, I'm just not capable of it yet.  I did run up the last short climb though and finished with a brief run to the water fountain.

I was a little exhausted, but again all the walking uphill was a big help.  Now I see why a lot of ultrarunners do it.  Some of the steep hills did kill me, even walking up them.  I was breathing heavy.  There's no question that I need to get stronger on the hills.  If I stay healthy, I'm going to do a lot of hill work in the next month.  I ran a solid pace, but my times really slipped at the end of the run when I had to walk more.  I could kill it if I got stronger on the uphill portions.  I can fly downhill and on flats.

Although it wasn't uncomfortable and barely noticeable, I'm sure the added weight of my hydration pack contributed to slowing me down.  I hate carrying hydration of any type, but I definitely needed it today.  The nice thing with hydration is that as you drink the weight reduces and it is easier to run.

Now that I know the course better, it should be a big help in the Quadzilla.  I can definitely push the pace more in the relatively flat back part of the course.  Just being able to run up a few of the hills would make a huge difference.  Although the Quadzilla is over a half mile longer, I'd like to think that I could run it about as fast as this took me today.  That should keep me in the top half of the field.  Having even more runners around then today should be a big help too.

It's been less than two months since I started back up to running and being able to do this much at a decent pace is amazing.  I couldn't even complete the loop late into the summer last year.  Of course running with a group was a big help today.  Still, I'm doing very well.  What I really can't wait for is next year when I can actually race this course.  I'll be putting in plenty of runs there between now and then. 

Trexler is just such a cool trail to run.  There are plenty of amazing views and a good mix of the type of trails you run on.  It is easily my favorite place to run.  Plus, even though I'm not that strong yet, I love the hills.  I love the challenge.

I'm debating whether or not to take an ice bath.  So far, I am just icing certain areas.  I don't feel too bad.  I'm a little sore, but overall fine.  Trails prevent all the pounding on your knees that you get with road running.  That is a huge help.  The fact that I didn't bust my butt either was big.

Tomorrow could end up being my last day that I can run, so I'm definitely going out somewhere.  I'll probably do an easy 3-5 miles to recover.  It'll be six straight days of running.  This week, my mileage has jumped from 20 miles to 35 miles.  Not ideal, but I figure I can recover with at minimum a few days off next week.  After that, I'll drop down into the low 20s again if I'm healthy.  No need to push too hard.  I'd like to get into the upper 40s and maybe even 50s this fall.  I'll make sure to follow the 10%-15% rule though.

8.5 miles - 1:41:21 (11:55 pace)

Friday, June 8, 2012

Tuscarora State Park Run

I always love finding new places to run.  I am heading to a sprint car race that is a little over an hour from home tonight.  Therefore, I decided I’d find somewhere to run nearby.  That ended up being the Tuscarora State Park in Tamaqua.  I had actually run my first trail race there, but that was back in 1999.  I don’t remember much of it.  I actually thought it was just another road race.  Turns out it was more of a cross country race.

The Schuykill League has their cross country league championships there in addition to the run that I did there (The Truskey Memorial Run).  I figured I’d try to run the cross country course and maybe add on a little more.  I asked where the course was at the park office and the woman working there only sort of knew.  She gave me a rough idea, but I decided to run on my own.
I started off on the Old Log Trail near the parking lot.  This was tough because it was an immediate steep climb.  I love climbing, but hate it when my legs aren’t warmed up.  The trail was nice though.  It was grassy and wide.  It was very long though.  I then picked up the Forest Edge Trail.  After going through the woods, it came out into an open grass area that was mowed.  This definitely looked like part of a cross country course.  I didn’t want to run on the grass too long, so I went back into the woods when I found another trail.

This trail was called the Laurel Trail.  I saw a deer streak across the woods in front of me.  This section of trail wasn’t bad, but there were a lot of low bushes that brushed up against my knees.  I don’t like running trails like that because I’m always worried about ticks.  This section was short though and eventually I wound up back on the Old Log Trail and back to the parking lot.  Going downhill on the Old Log Trail was much easier than the uphill portion.

I was thinking about trying to find the trail that runs along the lake and then pick up a short, but steep mountain trail.  I ended up noticing another trail right near the parking area called the Spirit of Tuscarora Trail.  This was much better to run in.  It was dirt singletrack, which I love.  It was very winding with some nice up and down segments.  There were some roots and rocks, but it wasn’t too technical.  I had done about a mile and a third thus far and was hoping to get to about 4 or 5 miles.  

What was making the running somewhat tough is that I bought a new Camelback for trail runs.  My other one was too big, so I wanted something lightweight to use.  The Rogue model that I bought carries 70 ounces and has storage for a couple things, like keys, a wallet and some maps.  I was a little worried about the way it attached to me, but it worked out well.  Hearing the water move around was a little annoying.  Otherwise, it worked pretty well.  The biggest problem was just getting used to the extra weight.  Although it isn’t much, it still took a toll on me, especially on the uphill sections.  I definitely have to get used to it.  I plan on taking it on the Trexler Nature Preserve Group Run tomorrow.  It should work.

The Spirit of Tuscarora Trail was very nice as I said earlier.  From the start, it dropped down to the lake and climbed a little.  Most of it was composed of talls trees and fairly wide open.  There wasn’t too much thick brush.  Because of how open it was, it got a little tricky to follow at times.  It was well blazed though.

One section ran along a creek.  Another part was quite muddy and fun to run through.  My plan was to make it to two and a half miles and turn around.  I lost the trail though right before that and it seemed like I was running up a dry creek bed.  Therefore, I headed back the way I started.
In some of the open sections, I got lost briefly.  One crossed a mostly dry creek and I eventually found the blazes.  There was some climbing that was tough at times, but it actually wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be.  It seemed like there was a lot of downhill going out, but coming back wasn’t too tough.  It was fun and actually over before I knew it.  

It was an excellent run.  I’d definitely run here again if it didn’t take so long to get to.  I might run the Truskey race again at the end of the summer.  The 5k is usually very competitive since all the local high school cross country runners race it.  I might try the 10k version.  The history of the race is sad.  When I ran it, it was the Chris Truskey Memorial Run.  Chris was a Tamaqua high school runner who died in an auto accident.  Since I ran it in ’99, his brother Kevin also died in an auto accident, so both their names are now on the race.  What a terrible way to lose two kids and both at different times.  Kevin was 25 when that happened, but it is still heartbreaking.

I’ll be getting home late tonight, but I still plan on the group run at Trexler Nature Preserve.  I need to see if I can complete the 8.5 mile loop before the Quadzilla 15k next month.  Of course my health and upcoming exploratory surgery on Monday will be a big question when it comes to that as well.  This week, I’ve really been putting on the miles.  After 20 miles last week, I’m already up to 26.5 miles this week, with an 8.5 mile run to go.  Plus, I plan to run Sunday too.  That’s certainly not following the 10% to 15% weekly increase rule.  Even if surgery goes well, I plan on resting a couple days.  I should have time to recover.  If I was hurting from the higher mileage this week, I would’ve backed off too.  I feel good though.

4 miles – 49:31 (12:23 pace)

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Good Group Run

While I didn't get the workout of last week's LVRR Group Run, tonight was still productive.  Dave, from the BCR came out and joined me.  More importantly, we had two new runners Kelley and Jeff.  I did a nice 5 miles.  Kelley and Dave ran more and Jeff did a little less.

We had to get started because there was a huge 5k going on too at the same time.  We started off going away from the 5k.  The pace was nice and comfortable early on.  We cruised around.  Jeff was sticking with us, but falling back slightly.  I had a feeling he'd have some trouble when we went up the giant hill by the Fish Hatchery.  He did and ended up walking it.  I slowed to wait for him, but he told me to go.  Dave and Kelley waited for all of us at the top of the hill.

Since I wanted to get a workout out of this, I decided to fly down the hill.  I also really attacked the other hill sections in the run.  I waited for the group for awhile.  I was running with Dave and Kelley, but I could see Jeff was slipping back.  I hung back and waited for him.  He was good until we got to the big hill on the backside.

Everyone waited up and we gathered at the covered bridge.  I nailed the last hill section and then Dave and Kelley catch up.  I stopped at the clubhouse to wait for Jeff, who was running and walking.  He ended his run there and I took off to try to catch Dave and Kelley.  It was some good speed added to the end of an otherwise easy run.

I never caught Dave and Kelley and somehow I had lost site of them.  I finished at 5 miles right at the clubhouse.  Jeff was waiting there, but Dave and Kelley were no where in site.  Eventually, they came back they had actually gone out further.

I tried to stick with Jeff, but he insisted on me letting him drop back during most of the run.  I don't want to leave people behind though because I want to encourage them to come back.  Hopefully he won't be discouraged.  I think Kelley had a good workout and I'm hoping she'll come again.  We need more people to show up on a regular basis.  I want to do whatever I can to get them coming back.

Most of the run was nice and easy.  I got some good work in though on the hills and trying to catch Dave and Kelley.  I'm putting in a lot of miles this week, so I didn't need a hard run.  I just wanted to keep people coming back.

The only frustrating thing about being a group run leader is never knowing who is going to show and what pace they want to run.  Some days it is an easy workout for me.  Other days it is a hard day.  I'm fine with either one.  I just wish it was consistent so I know how to set my training schedule.

I'm very excited for tomorrow.  I'm going to go to a dirt track race near Pottsville, so I'm going to run at Tuscarora State Park in Tamaqua beforehand.  They run the Schuykill League Cross Country meet there and Truskey Memorial race was my first trail race there in '99.  On Saturday, I'm getting up for the T-Rex group run at Trexler.  I'm hoping to do the whole 8.5 mile loop.

5 miles - 48:13 (9:39 pace) 

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

D&L Trail Fartlek

I wore my compression socks last night and the soreness from earlier in the week was basically gone.  I'm sure yesterday's easy recovery run helped too.  Because of that, I decided it would be a good day to mix in some speed.  I decided on a fartlek run at the D&L Trail in Cementon.

For some reason, this has become a spot I like doing speedwork on.  It is flat and fast, so that's part of it.  There also are minimal road crossings and the ones that it does cross are very lightly trafficked.  It is scenic too as it runs along the Lehigh River.  The gravel surface is nice and forgiving too.

Fartlek is funny looking, but it means "speed play" in Swedish.  It is really an unstructured speedwork session.  You pick a spot, like say a pole up ahead and run hard to it.  You can vary paces and distances.  Like normal speedwork, you recover in between hard sections.  Recovery time can be based on how you feel too.

This type of run was perfect for today and early on in my training.  My goal was just to get some speedy running in amongst a week of a lot of running.  It was a good way to incorporate some speed without taxing myself too much.  It is also perfect to practice the changing paces that often occur during a race.

I started off by warming up for three quarters of a mile.  After that, I did a short hard run to a gate.  It was about .03 miles.  I forgot to adjust my watch.  Even though this type of run isn't meant to be structured, I do like to add some structure to it.  Rather than run to objects, I pick distances to run.  I use my Garmin watch for this.

This actually sort of turned into a ladder workout.  I started my second hard segment by running for .10 miles.  I build up throughout the run.  After short recovery, I then went hard for .15 miles.  These were all out efforts, but they were definitely out of my comfort zone.

I then did a .25 mile segment and .15 mile segment before turning around.  My recovery time varied depending on how I felt.  My peak distance on the way back was .30 miles of hard running.  I did that segment at a 7:00 pace.  Some of the earlier segments were faster, at around 6:30.  I was definitely falling off a bit by this point.  I can run fast, but not for too long.

This wasn't a true ladder workout in that I didn't going exactly the same distances up and down.  My last segment was a .15 mile hard run.  It was a solid 6:39 pace.  My legs were feeling it at this point.  I just tried to be solid and run with good form.  It is interesting because early on, my lungs were hurting and making the run tough, but by the end it was my legs that were slowing me.  All in all, my pace was fairly consistent throughout the fast and slow segments.  That shows that I have a darn good feel of how to run effort wise.

I finished the run up with a three quarter mile cool down.  I hate long cool downs after speedwork, but this wasn't bad.  I started thinking about my form and tried to work on keeping my elbows more straight during this segment.  My elbow position isn't bad, but they do swing out a little.  My form is pretty good and I wouldn't change it, but I do want to look at it more and find some little tweaks that can help me run more efficiently.

This was a perfect workout for what I was hoping to achieve.  It gave me some good speed without draining me.  I had a lot of energy afterward and felt I could do more.  That's what you want.  I also wasn't too sore.  That's a big plus in the middle of this week.  I did 20 miles last week and I'm already up to 17.50 this week, with three days of running to go.  I'll definitely be over 30 miles when the week is over.  Not a great idea to jump so much, but I plan on resting after surgery on Monday.  Hopefully the rest and recovery will me less, not more.

Tonight I'm going to take some more pictures of the LVRR's Summer Series 5k race.  It is free and fun and a good time.  Food afterward is a nice bonus too.  Tomorrow, I'll be leading the group run again in the evening.  Hopefully someone will show up.  I plan on doing about 4 miles myself.

4 miles - 35:00 (8:45 pace)

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Playing in the Mud

I was hoping to do some type of speed session after my day off yesterday.  I still had some muscle soreness though, so I elected for an easy day instead.  Either way, the plan was to fit the run in between my doctor's appointment and the Nazareth baseball game.  Therefore, running Jacobsburg was one of the few options.

I figured I'd do the longer loop that I did last year.  The plan was to do about 4 miles easy.  I couldn't remember quite how far that loop would take me.  The beginning of the run was a little tough.  It was a gradual uphill, but all the hills on Sunday had my calves sore.

Nevertheless, the first mile was a good warmup.  I came across the same cat on the trail that I saw a couple weeks ago.  It was in the same area, so I'm guessing it is a stray.  It darted in the woods pretty quickly.

I wore some new sunglasses that I bought today.  They are a little better than completely cheap sunglasses, but not expensive enough to bother me when I lose them like I always seem to do.  I wore them early on and they seemed to work pretty good.  Sweating on them is usually the problem, but so far so good with this pair.  I didn't wear them that long though since it was cloudy out and I was in woods most of the time.

Pretty early on, I encountered a pleasant surprise.  There was mud on a section that isn't usually mud.  I love mud, so this was a great sign.  We had a lot of rain lately and some of the shaded areas didn't dry out.  The second mile along route 33 winds in and out.  That combined with the mud made it a slow go.  It was fun and the times seemed to fly by.  I was taking it easy, but some of the short hills were a little on the tough side.  There is one section that goes downhill and it is often a stream.  I was surprised to see it was relatively dry.  I guess all the water had run down already.

Since I was already encountering more mud that usual in these spots, I knew the area that is usually muddy would be outstanding.  It sure didn't disappoint.  There was some fairly deep mud and plenty of standing water.  Some sections were almost impassible.  I went through them swiftly though.  I got my foot stuck in there last year and lost my shoe for a moment.  The key to mud is to be light on your feet and just go through it quickly.  Luckily, I am good at that.

After the muddy section the trail became a lot less interesting and much easier after that point.  I was disappointed to see that they cleared a lot of trees along the one powerline.  Because the one section was solid and boring, I decided to run on a dirt trail that was created just above the normal path.  That was good, but it didn't last long.

I was worried that I had gone out too far.  I didn't turn earlier because I wasn't in the mood to go over the creek crossing.  Instead, I used the bridge.  I then came out back on the road.  By this time, I was actually tiring some.  I hit the four mile point before the parking lot, so I decided to run past the parking lot and into the wide hard trail for awhile.  That added another half mile to the run.

After the run an old dog wandered toward me.  I felt bad because it could barely walk.  It was very friendly though.  Too bad it was so slow and its days are number.

I didn't even think about mud on the trail, so that was a huge bonus.  It made this run a blast.  At times, it was challenging, but I'm getting stronger and running at Jacobsburg is getting much easier.  It is nice a close though and I still enjoy going there.  I also didn't get into the steeper sections too much yet either.  Maybe I'll add those in more in the near future.

I'm hoping I'll be a little more recovered tomorrow.  No matter what, I'm doing some sort of speed session.  I'll like do a fartlek.  That will allow me to run hard whenever I feel like it and run easy whenever I need it.  I'm thinking I'll run it on the D&L Trail, but not sure.  I wouldn't mind something with some hills.

I have to get my run in early because I'm going to the LVRR Summer Series 5k in the evening.  I'll be the race photographer and I'll put my pictures on facebook.  It is fun and I enjoy doing it.  Hopefully I'll be recovered by then.  I might have to consider a post run ice bath tomorrow.

4.5 miles - 44:27 (9:53 pace)