Thursday, August 30, 2012

Enjoying a Three Way

The title of this post is kind of a lie...I didn't enjoy the run that much.  It was just okay.  After a double day yesterday it was on to an easy run this morning.  I wanted to run very early, but I couldn't fall asleep until late.  I slept in a bit and started the run at 9 AM.  That is still early for me.  I was so close to running at 3 AM when I was wide awake.

Because it was an easy 5 miler, I decided to split it up.  That is where the three way comes from.  I ran an out and back in three different direction.  I went to the Route 33 Boat Launch and that setup allows you to run that way.  The plan was to go out in two directions along the flat for a mile each and then turn back.  The last segment would a half mile uphill onto the Palmer/Bethlehem Township Bike Path before turning around.  Since the routes don't meet at a specific point, it didn't quite workout like that.

The reason I like this type of route is that you are turning and heading for home before you know it.  Even though the distance is the same, it feels quicker than a straight out and back run.  Getting back near the car each time is a nice reward.  This can be especially good for breaking down a long run.  It also helps to refuel with drinks and gels if you are doing a long run.

The weather was beautiful again today.  I guess we are getting a two day preview of the fall.  I wore a shirt and it was chilly at the start.  Of course by the end, I was sweating.  The shade was a big help throughout the run too.

I started out heading west along the canal towpath.  I wanted to go this direction because it is dirt and stone at the beginning.  That would cushion the impact as I warmed up.  My legs didn't feel all that great at the start, but they came around.  The path is narrow at spots.  It was overgrown in one section.  I was thinking that that would be a problem for the upcoming marathon, but they I realized that the course goes around that section.

This part of the route was where I was stung by a bee last time I was there.  Thankfully, I didn't go that far out before turning around.  I heard some gun shots from the firing range across the river before I started the run and I thought to myself that it was nice that they stopped as I passed by.  Of course right as that thought went through my mind, they rang out again.  At least it wasn't too loud.

After turning around, a guy on a bike yelled that he was passing me.  He said it quite loud, I'm guessing because he had headphones on.  It startled the crap out of me and I jumped.  I'm just glad he passed me in the wide part of the path, not the narrow section.

I started to think about my running form and why I my left side seems to bother me when I go slower.  I believe it is because I was over using my left side and dragging my right side.  Therefore, I was impacting the ground more with my left side.  I need to find balance.  For today though, I did the opposite.  I pushed off a lot with my right side and drug my left side.  I'm not sure if this is caused by trail running or maybe one side being weaker than the other.  It also could have developed when I started running after surgery.  Whatever the reason, it needs to be fixed.  I am more efficient when running faster and don't have this problem.  So much comes back to form.

After finishing the first out and back some additional distance came about.  This is because I had to run through the parking lot before getting onto the eastern paved path.  When I hit this path, it was 2.2 miles into the run.  The pavement was a little harder on the legs.  It is interesting because there are mostly people bikes throughout this route.  With so few houses, there are rarely walkers or runners.  Busy weekends are an exception.  Of course as I was thinking about the fact that I had not seen a walker, I pass two in a short time period and see another up ahead before turning around.  One of the walkers drove into the parking lot with his dog and it was barking like crazy then.  I was glad that it was well behaved off of its leash.

Most of the people there were friendly.  There was one guy that really liked to waved.  He waved at me as he passed.  Then he waved as I was changing shoes in the car afterward and as I was leaving the parking lot in my car.  Usually you only acknowledge someone once on a path like this.

I turned around at 3.5 miles.  I figured that would give me about .4 miles to finish going uphill.  Then I would just walk back downhill.  The beginning of the uphill wasn't all that steep.  I never did hit the steepest section.  That comes later on the path.  It was a nice little ascending section to finish up.  I turned around at 4.97 miles so I didn't encounter a woman and her dog.

It was good to finish up and I'm feeling strong.  This easy week has been a huge help.  I only have two more runs to go.  I'll be running them Friday and Saturday (probably in the evening) at the State Park that we are camping at near Baltimore.  Tomorrow will be 4 miles and Saturday will be 8 miles.  It will be a nice way to end the week and the month.  After tomorrow's run, I will have run 27 of the 31 days in August and completed 28 total runs in the time period.  The mileage will be quite high too, probably somewhere around 150 miles.

5 miles - 43:03 (8:37 pace)

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Mile Repeats and Doubling Up

Wednesday is my speedwork day.  Recently, I've been running half mile repeats and building up.  I was up to 8 repeats last week.  I decided that today I would extend my repeats to a mile each and drop down to just 3 reps.  I will continue building on these mile repeats from now until close to my half marathon run.

I wasn't sure what the weather would bring, so I wanted to get out early and run.  It was actually quite chilly and in the 60s when I started out after 8 AM.  I decided I would run on the Saucon Rail Trail.  It has been awhile since I've been there.  The trail is well maintained, doesn't have too many road crossings and also has quite a bit of shade.  It was so cool that I probably could've done without the shade.

I went to the bathroom before starting out.  As I was heading to my car to get my running gear on, I noticed a familiar car and person.  It was Dave from the Breakfast Club.  I first noticed him because of his BCR logo on his car.  We chatted briefly and I told him I was doing speedwork today and had to get started early.  He took off well before I was ready.  If I was just doing a slower run, I might've joined him.

I started with a nice warmup.  My legs felt quite weak at the beginning.  The warmup is certainly a big plus.  By the time that first mile was complete, I was ready to go.  The plan was for 3 X  one mile repeats under a 7 minute pace.  I figured that could be tough because I was keeping the same pace, but doubling the distance of each repeat from half a mile to a mile.  I decided I'd allow myself a third of a mile recovery time rather than a quarter mile.

I was hoping Kelley would join me, but I never heard back from her.  I knew that would make this workout tough.  What also made it difficult is that the path goes slightly uphill on the way out.  I had to push quite hard to hit my goals.

I went hard and felt alright in the first repeat.  I passed Dave going the other way.  I was working so hard that I could only give him a smile or a nod.  I passed a lot of people while going fast and I didn't want to be rude, but it is hard to acknowledge them at such a hard pace.  I was surprised that Dave wasn't going farther, but he has been dealing with an injury.

My pace slipped slightly in the second half of my first rep.  I was happy to see I wasn't falling off too bad.  I was very winded and this was hard work.  I hit my goal for the first one at 6:55.  I was wondering how I'd recover in such a short period of time.

I came back okay though.  I figured that I would turn around halfway through the second rep.  I knew that would at least allow me some downhill running on the back half.  I just had to get to that point.  I pushed quite hard again and just focused on the first half of the repeat.  I had to cross one road and just made it around some walkers going around some gates.  They didn't slow me much.  What did slow me was turning around.  My pace suddenly went just over 7 minutes.  I figured I could keep going and get it back down.  Turning around and regaining momentum is usually tough.

I was definitely right with my prediction of how the downhill second half of the repeat would be.  That was a big plus.  I still had to work my tail off, but it felt easier and my pace got faster.  I was very happy to be under my goal for the second repeat.  I was quite exhausted though.

I recovered well again and I was on to my final repeat.  I knew this was about my limit, so I was glad to be almost done.  I started off very fast.  I'm not sure if my Garmin was correct as it said my pace was barely over 6 minutes.  Either way, I was still comfortably under my goal pace throughout this rep.  I just kept focusing on getting to the next quarter mile.  First it was to .5 miles, then .75 miles.  I was surprised to see that pretty late in this repeat my pace was still around 6:40.  There was a slight uphill finish, so my pace wasn't as fast over the final two tenths of this rep.  I just kept pushing though.  I cruised a little in the final tenth.  It was great to be done with the tough part of the workout.

I followed that up with a mile and a third cooldown.  I wanted to get to 6 total miles for the run.  I had to cross a couple roads in this slow mile plus, but thankfully not too many while I was pushing the pace.  It worked out quite well.  I was impressed with how many people were using the path.  Because I was a little short on distance when I got back to the Water Street Park, I continued north on the trail until I hit my desired distance.  I then walked back a short distance.

Even with the cooler temperatures, the hard running still soaked my singlet.  The nice thing was how quickly I cooled off once I stopped.  I'm also happy to report that I had no chafing issues.  I picked a good time to run.  I can't wait for weather this cool to be a regular occurrence.

I was thrilled to hit my goal on this run.  I'm not sure what next week will bring.  I think adding another repeat could be tough.  I'll just have to see what happens.  If I would've missed my goal, I would've repeated this week's run again.  Now, I'll just add a 4th hard mile.  I'd like to get up to at least 8 mile repeats before running my half marathon.

All this cutting back this week has made a huge difference.  Even after a hard run, my legs felt so fresh.  They are well rested and have some pop in them.

There was really no point in a second run today, so of course I went on one.  I didn't run as far as I wanted on Monday, so I tried to make it up with a late afternoon easy 3 miler.  I guess this would definitely qualify as junk miles.  It is especially useless since it is my cutback week.  Who cares if I ran 29 miles instead of 32 miles?  Of course, I (Mr. Numbers) do.

I went out to the Nor-Bath Trail.  I wanted an easy 3 miles.  I decided to run from Bicentennial Park so that I didn't have to cross Airport Road.  As I was driving in, I already saw that that was a good choice.  A group of 5 or so guys had to stop to cross that road.  I assume it was the Northampton Cross Country team.

I went shirtless, but probably didn't have to.  It finally felt like a fall day today.  I actually wore my grey shorts and they didn't even get that sweaty.  There was a nice breeze going too.  It was a great day for a run.

I ran toward Airport Road.  I was thinking that I'd be able to do about a half mile out before turning around.  Regardless, I figured that I would run until Airport Road.  The legs felt great when I began and throughout the run.  I started off nice and easy.  The pace for that first mile was comfortable and just under 9 minutes.  It was perfect.

I was surprised that I was able to go so far before coming to Airport Road.  I ended up getting to 1.25 miles before turning around.  Earlier, I thought I had heard someone behind me.  It was probably just my feet.  When I did turn around, I noticed that a speedy high school girl wasn't far behind me.  I love how high school kids are really the only fast runners that still wear T-shirts.  They are easy to tell by that.

The young girl ruined my whole run.  Even though she kept going and didn't turn around like me, I ended up running as if she was stalking me.  My stupid competitiveness always comes out.  I ran faster than I should've for the rest of the workout.  Eventually I came to a group of about 5 more young girls.  That must have been the rest of her team.  If it was and they started at the same time, I'm very impressed.  She was probably a quarter mile ahead.

I continued running and ended up passing the guys from the team.  At first I was thinking that maybe they were running from Northampton High School, but seeing them where I did on the trail, that wasn't possible.  They were still logging some good miles.  I think I saw the girls doing drills at Jacksonville Park as I was on my way home.

The rest of my run was uneventful, although it was too fast.  I came back to Bicentennial Park and was at 2.5 miles.  It was nice to almost be done.  I ran a half mile out and then turned around and walked back.  I came across a few adult runners too.  It was a busy day on the path.

It was a good second workout of the day that didn't feel too taxing.  I am a little sore afterward.  I'm thinking that my shoes are really coming to the end of their life and causing me problems.  Too bad I can't afford new ones.  I still ran much too hard in this second run.  The last mile was under a 7:45 pace.  All in all, it was a good day.

Now we'll see how well my body can recover.  I'll be running again tomorrow morning before we leave for a weekend auto race in Baltimore.  That will be three runs within a 24 hour span.  It will be good practice for the future though.  Some time later in the fall or during the winter, I'm going to start with running two times a day.  I have to do that to get to 80+ miles a week.

I have no idea where I'm going to run tomorrow.  I'll determine that in the morning I guess.  It is going to be another easy 5 miler.

6 miles - 45:56 (7:40 pace) AM
3 miles - 25:00 (8:20 pace) PM

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Beating the Trexler Heat

These days my schedule consists of mostly flat rail trails.  That is due largely to the fact that I am running the half marathon on this type of terrain.  I'm also looking to improve my speed.  It has been rare for me to be on a trail in the last month.  Today, I decided to head out to Trexler Nature Preserve.

As I've said a million times before, this is my favorite place to run.  I ran there and plenty of other hilly trails as I was building up to Quadzilla.  Since then, I've been absent from Trexler.  It was good to get back today.

I don't mind running hills.  The big reason I haven't gone back to Trexler is that I usually had to walk portions of the trail.  The first I time I was there in the spring, I walked less than a third of a mile into the run.  I was hoping I could handle 4 or 5 miles today without walking.

The weather fooled me again.  When I saw the forecast last night, it said upper 70s to low 80s in the morning.  I figured that I would sleep in and enjoy the run later.  Of course as I stepped out the door, I instantly felt the humidity.  There was a nice breeze too, so I was hoping that might help.

Since I have avoided hills so much lately, I wasn't sure how I'd handle them today.  I figured it could be a struggle.  At the same time though, my oxygen capacity is clearing improving too.  I thought that maybe the speedwork I've done would carry over some on the uphill parts of this run.

I was correct in that assessment.  The first steep hill was a bear, but actually seemed easier than any other time that I've ever run on it.  Once I got over that, it was a big hurdle complete.  I knew that would be probably be my toughest obstacle since I was doing an out and back route.  I wouldn't hit the big hills in the back.

I was breathing heavy at the top of the hill and it took me awhile to recover.  The hill near the Bison didn't prove to be much of a problem.  It isn't nearly as steep as the other hill.  Before I knew it I was cruising downhill and out of the LV Zoo area. 

The next section was the rocky portion.  This is another area that I wasn't sure how I'd handle.  Rocks can be tough on your ankles when you aren't used to them.  I was relieved to find that it didn't bother me too much.  I handled this section fairly well.

Following that was the long uphill section.  I'm actually starting to like this section more and more.  The gradient isn't that steep and it does level off in spots.  It is definitely a tough climb, but it is manageable.  It is also fast because it is straight with a stone pathwaye.  I'm always amazed to see my overall pace drop during this uphill section.

The first part of the long uphill seems like the steepest.  Once I got through that, it wasn't too bad.  The big issue with this section is just the exposure to the sun.  It was bearing down on me for this long stretch.  I was starting to fry.  Since the slope seemed less, I figured that I would just keep going.  I was cooking at 1.75 miles, but it got a little easier after that.

I figured that I would keep going until the terrain got too difficult.  Finally, I headed onto the annoying grass uphill.  I was just under 2.25 miles, so I headed to that distance before turning back around.  There are some houses next to this long section and a few dogs must have seen me.  They were barking like crazy.  They would have to get over the perimeter fence to catch me, so I was glad that I didn't see them.

I knew as I was going up that I would be turning around somewhere near the top.  That would mean cruising downhill for awhile.  Cruise downhill I sure did.  Even with the first quarter mile uphill, this third mile was still run at a blazing 8:25.  I was running easy too and that was basically my road pace.

It was a little over 3 miles when I came back down from the hill.  I was dreading the rest of the run and I was unsure if I could handle the upcoming rolling hills at that point.  I went back through the rock section, then onto the pavement.  I saw a hiker coming the other way on this road section.  After the pavement, it is a very steep uphill.  I've walked this in the past.  It is short though, so I buckled down and made it up.

At this point, I was breathing very heavy.  The next meadow section was flat, but I took awhile to recover.  I kept telling myself that I was almost there.  Going back uphill toward the Bison wasn't as difficult as I thought it would be.  It was still taxing, but it didn't kill me.  I then had a nice downhill before the final climb.

That last climb was long and gradual.  It was the back end of the tough climb in the beginning.  Going this direction isn't quite as bad.  The fact that you are warmed up might be a big factor.  I made it to the top and I was over 4 miles at this point.  I knew there was no way I was running 5 miles, so I ended at 4.25 miles.  I finished going downhill and fairly fast.

I walked the final quarter mile or so to the end of the trail.  The next hill didn't seem too bad, but then I realized that it wasn't actually the last hill.  I still had the steep one at the end near the Environmental Center.  I never would've been able to run up that.  Walking it was tough enough. 

The heat really did beat me down.  I went to the bathroom in the Environmental Center and felt a little light headed.  I got some water and that helped.  As I was heading back to my car, I noticed two deer right along the access road.  I watched them for a couple minutes as I cooled under the shade of a tree.  With the breezing blowing, it was quite cold in the shade.

After one of the deer crossed the road, I decided to walk back to my car.  I was hoping they wouldn't run away and I could get a good picture of them.  Of course as I'm nearing my car a van pulls up.  There were no other cars in the parking lot and only one employee car.  They stopped and watch the deer for awhile.  I got some pictures of the deer running away, but I didn't get the close up that I wanted.  The deer had let me get very close and I probably would've had some awesome pictures if not for the car.  Again, I need a GoPro.  My birthday and Christmas can't get here soon enough.

I was amazed at how fast this run was, especially considering my avoidance of trails and hills lately.  The thing with this course is that you have be able to run quick between the hills.  During Quadzilla, I had some faster friends that beat me by quite a bit.  I know they weren't doing the hill training that I was before the race, but I'm guessing they had a big advantage over me in the fast sections.  When you aren't running hills there, you can go quite fast when compared to typical trails.  The route isn't technical.  For next year's race, I'm hoping for the best of both worlds.  I'll be strong on the hills and fast in between.  That will get me near the top of the leaderboard.

Now that I know I can run a decent amount of the course without stopping, I will likely head there a bit more often.  I can't totally ignore hills either because I am likely going to run the hilly Run for the Diamonds race on Thanksgiving Day.  That is only a few weeks after my half marathon.  I have to prepare for those hilly 9 miles too.

The heat kicked my butt again today.  I can't wait for summer to be over.  The fall can't get here fast enough.  My easy week continues.  I might actually do a double run tomorrow or Thursday, just to make sure I get enough miles in this week.  Tomorrow will be another speedwork session.  I'm thinking of starting mile repeats.  It might be tough to hit goal pace, but I'm thinking I can do it with only 3 total repeats.  We'll see how I handle it.  I'd like a little more of a challenge than the half mile repeats are providing anyway.  I'm thinking I'll run on the Saucon Rail Trail.  Hopefully Kelley will join me.

4.25 miles - 38:04 (8:57 pace)

Monday, August 27, 2012

Disappointing Day

After putting a couple tough weeks in a row, this is finally a cutback week.  My body definitely deserves much less mileage.  My schedule also won't have a lot of time later in the week for more miles.  Since Monday is normally some type of speedwork, I thought I'd go with hill repeats.  They are tougher, so the mileage is usually much shorter than a standard session.

The plan was to go up to Schoeneck Avenue in Nazareth and run part of the big hill.  I ran repeats there last summer, but haven't done so this year.  I wanted to start at 8:30 in the morning, but when I woke up, it was raining.  I had left Kelley a message overnight in case she wanted to join me.  I kept my phone on in case I got a message as I went back to sleep.  I was relieved to never receive one.

By the time I got going, it was after 11 AM.  The rain might've cooled things off, but it was still very humid when I arrived.  I put on my socks and shoes and it felt like they could end up rubbing my blistered feet again.  Luckily, I didn't feel anything as I ran.

I started off with a short warmup.  There is a flat little circle neighborhood right around where I start up the hill.  It was a perfect half mile loop to begin with.  I got startled by a dog there, but other than that, it was uneventful.

That wasn't much of a warmup and my legs are never strong after a day off.  The first repeat was tough.  I can't remember what I did last year, other than it was 5 or 6 reps.  I seemed to think they were 3 minutes long, but I could be wrong.  If that was the case, it was definitely tough and maybe I was stronger last year.

I had no true plan other than wanting to run 5 or 6 reps fairly hard.  Originally, I was thinking .25 miles for each would be good.  That first rep was just too difficult though and I ended up just going .20 miles.  At this point, I figured that I would go with 5 reps.

One thing that makes this tough is that it uphill the whole way, but the slope gets even steeper at the top of the hill.  Each repeat doesn't actually last long, but it seems like it goes on forever.  I had some dogs barking at me from nearby housing and that was annoying too.

After the first repeat, I jogged slowly back down the hill.  I think last year when I did these, I walked to recover.  I prefer an active recovery though, so this worked out better.

The pace kept decreasing as I went along.  That first rep was a solid 7:07 pace, but the next one was 7:13.  Still a decent pace for going uphill though.  After the second rep, I didn't feel good.  I think going downhill was bothering me.  I let it go though and went on to the third rep.

My legs were definitely feeling it by this third repeat.  I slowed significantly and didn't feel like I could push hard anymore.  The sun was beating down on me and the humidity was killing me.  I slowed so much that this rep didn't feel all that bad.

Going downhill again, I didn't feel good.  This time it got so bad that I had to just quit at the bottom of the hill.  I was just happy that I didn't have an accident.  It forced me to end my workout early, 2 repeats shy of where I wanted to.  I also didn't even get to cool down, so the total running was just 1.75 miles.  I considering running a couple more miles later, but then thought that would be pointless.

This is a short week anyway, so it is isn't that big of a deal.  I just was hoping to get more out of this workout.  The other issue was that I sat down right afterward and never did get to stretch.  The inside of my left leg bothered me again, as did my left groin.  I am just so beat up now with nagging little issues.  They almost all seem to be on my left side too, expect for my right hamstring.

It was definitely a disappointing day, but I need to shake it off.  As long as I'm strong for my key workout on Wednesday, I'll be happy.  I'm planning on an easy day tomorrow.  I'm thinking I might add a hill element to it again and run at Trexler.  I haven't been there since the Quadzilla.  I need to get back to hills a little more frequently.  I'm thinking that I can do an easy 4 or 5 miles at Trexler.  I'd like to have my total mileage this week to down around 32 miles.  The long run will drop to 8 or 9 miles, depending on how the rest of the week plays out.

1.75 miles - 15:09 (8:41 pace)

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Finally a Challenge

Usually when you are building mileage, it is supposed to be a challenge.  Throughout this cycle, I've had no issue when adding just a mile each week.  Last Saturday's 12 miler was tough only in the pace, not the distance.  Today, my legs finally took a pounding.  The 13 miler seemed hard.

I think the big reason for it being so tough was that I haven't run on pavement for anywhere near this long in quite awhile.  I usually run on stone trail or if I do hit the pavement, it is for about 6 miles.  The other thing that put a lot of stress on my legs was that I wore my minimal shoes for the entire duration of the run.  The most I had done in them up to that point was 8 miles.

To get the miles in, I told Kelley and Flo that I'd be arriving at 6:35 AM.  I still can't believe I keep getting up this early.  Telling others that I'll be early holds me accountable.  I couldn't even fall asleep until after 1 AM.  I had very little sleep.  The group was meeting up at the Delaware Canal State Park on the South Side of Easton.  It is right next to the dam on the Lehigh River.

Kelley showed up a few minutes late as always.  I had not heard from Flo yet, so I just took off with Kelley.  It was a nice and peaceful run.  We ran along the same canal path that Flo and I did last week, so that part kind of sucked.  There is a lot of shade in that area.  That was great.  It was cool at the beginning, but got quite humid by the end of the day.

The time with Kelley flew by.  Even though we run together quite a bit, we still always seem to have plenty to say.  That's funny too because we both claim to be anti social.  The pace was nice and comfortable.  Just about the only interesting thing was that Kelley had to dodge a small dead rodent again.  She seems to do that a lot.  Before I knew it we were done and ready to go with the main group.  We had a nice 6 miles together.

The last few weeks, I've been alternating shoes.  Since I got blisters yesterday with my other shoes, I stuck to the minimal shoes.  I'm happy to report that the blistered areas didn't bother me at all today with socks and Bodyglide on.  It is still a little raw now that I am walking around.

When the main group got going, I hung with Mertz.  He went fast enough (under 7:45 pace) to get in a good workout, but not fast enough to kill me.  He's running a 5k tomorrow and only wanted to do an easy 3 miles.  We also had a good chat, including about the new bag check policy for the NYC Marathon.  It is quite crazy that they now won't check bags for all those thousands of people.  I only see Mertz at these group runs, so it is good to catch up with him and chat.  I also love running at a quicker pace.

Before Mertz turned around, I heard someone coming up from behind and hanging back just behind us.  I figured it was either Flo or Kelley.  I was correct that it was Flo.  That was good because Kelley and I run and talk together plenty.  I'm sure she enjoyed running with someone else too.  Flo forgot to set her alarm and missed the early start.

Flo and I cruised along.  We ran around 1.5 miles together.  All of it was comfortably under an 8 minute pace.  As we got into one of the parks, we split up.  She went left and I went right.  I wasn't sure where she was heading.  I haven't run here before, so I didn't know where we'd end up meeting up.  I kept going until my turn around point.  It was interesting because almost immediately after I left Flo, I started thinking about my legs and realized that they were hurting.  That next mile pace dropped from 7:50 to 8:23.  It's amazing how much tougher running alone is when compared to going with someone.

I eventually headed back at Hugh Moore Park.  I turned around earlier than I wanted to because the trail was turning into a dirt trail.  The park is cool because there is a dam there as well.  It is a chain dam and there used to be an old amusement park on the island in the middle of the river.  I forgot that there were mules right along the path as well.  They pull a canal boat.  I guess Flo ran along this canal towpath.  I never did see her there.  This would have been a great spot to have a GoPro camera to take some pictures.

Coming back I ran into a bunch of the BCR folks heading out.  Mel told me that Flo was looking for me up ahead.  I had no idea where.  Eventually I passed a couple of the other runners and heard someone yell for me from behind.  I turned around and Flo was there too.

Flo and I ran together for a couple more miles.  I considered telling her to go ahead because I was getting very sore and hurting.  I was sweating like crazy too and probably dehydrated.  Finally with 1.5 miles left, I told her to just go on without me.  She said she was feeling great and I wasn't.  I just wanted to cruise on in.

Before getting to the one small pedestrian bridge, I ran a short out and back along the canal towpath.  That allowed me to make up for turning around early.  The final mile was so tough.  My legs were sore and I just wanted to quit.  Of course I knew I wasn't going to.  This route is actually a bit tricky.  There are some small hills.  They are no big deal, but more hills than these flat group runs usually have.  When I was falling apart at the end, they were killing me.

The humidity destroyed me as well.  I was able to hydrate a little before the main group starting running.  I didn't have much water with me.  I was drenched with sweat.  Even without a shirt, my lightweight shorts were soaked.  It was like I went swimming in the river.  I can't wait for summer to end.  The heat hasn't been bad lately, but it still has just been so humid.

I was finally done and it was a big relief.  I ran the 13 miles in just over 1:46.  I guess it is safe to say that I'll have no problem breaking 1:45 in the half marathon in two months.  It was another good mix of comfortable running and some challenging running.  For once, just finishing was difficult.  It was an excellent workout.

I am quite sore now and I'm sure I'll be even worse tomorrow.  My muscles sure got a workout, especially my quads.  I was so sore that just lifting my knee and trying to put my socks on was a chore.  I felt a muscle cramp up in my upper legs when I did that.

I wasn't hungry, but I did go to breakfast at the Key City Diner with the group.  I've actually never eaten there before.  If I did, it was one time long, long ago.  We used to have a student teacher whose family ran the place.  It was a good meal.  I went mainly to socialize.  I ended up talking mostly to Dave and Kelley, but it was good to meet a couple other people as well.  I just wish I could eat more after running.

Tomorrow will definitely be a much needed day off and next week is a much needed cut back week.  I will still run as often, just with less mileage.  I'll cut back into the low 30s.  My long run with go from 13 miles to 8 miles.  That is good because I'll be traveling next weekend and I'll really need to squeeze the runs in.  I have run 22 of the 25 days thus far this month and certainly can use a bit of a break.

Monday will likely be some hill repeats.  I'm not cutting back too much on the speed stuff.  Hill repeats will allow for a little less mileage than the normal Monday sessions.  Kelley might join me for the hill repeats.  Tuesday will be easy again and then Wednesday will have more speedwork.  It is should be a fun week all around.

13 miles - 1:46:25 (8:11 pace)

Friday, August 24, 2012

A Nice Pacer

The last few weeks, I've been putting it off on my Friday runs.  Finally, today I headed to Louise Moore Park for this short 4 miler.  I said I was going to go there in previous weeks, but I wound up elsewhere.  My mom wants to lose weight and I convinced her to walk there while I ran.

I just hate running there because I don't enjoy doing multiple loops.  One loop is a little less than a mile, so even doing just 4 miles is over 4 loops around.  There isn't anything wrong with the park per say, it is just so repetitive.

As I got out of the car, I realized I didn't pack any socks.  I meant to get them, but never pulled them out of the drawer.  I figured this couldn't be too much of a problem with only a short 4 mile run.  I was very wrong though.

The weather was nice again.  It was in the low 80s just before noon.  The problem is that most of this loop is in the sun.  I'd estimate 95% of it.  Even without a shirt on, I was still sweating a lot by the end.  That's the norm these days.

I was excited when I started because a young girl was running.  I like having someone to chase down.  That doesn't happen too often now that I'm not in Philly.  It used to be a daily occurrence down there.  She was probably a good 50 to 100 yards ahead.

Because of the girl, I started off at a pace faster than I would've liked.  My legs had not bounced back yet from Thursday evening's run.  They were screaming at me early.  It did appear that I was gaining some ground on her, but not as much as I would've like.  I was running around an 8 minute pace and I'm guessing she was at like 8:10.  She was quite speedy.

I knew if I laid down a very fast half lap or so, I'd be able to catch her.  I didn't want to do that though.  I was just hoping I'd be able to slowly reel her in.  It became clear that that wouldn't happen on the first lap.  It would take a few loops.

The finish to this loop is always tough.  There is a short uphill, but making it worse are wood chips that they use for the trail.  That's one of the main things I don't like about the path.  They use wood chips at the end and small pieces of rubber at the beginning.  The surfaces are great for preventing the knees from taking a pounding, but it stinks for trying to run on.  It feels like running in quicksand (I am sure that would actually be worse). 

I was disappointed early in the second lap.  I still wasn't gaining too much ground on the girl.  It got worse though because she stopped and began walking.  Suddenly my chase was over and now it was back to thinking about these awful loops.

Some time around this point, my foot began to bother me.  The upper of my right shoe was rubbing against it.  I began feeling sore.  I didn't think it would be that big of a deal for the next two miles or so.  I figured I could deal with it.

As I was finishing up the 3rd lap, I looked back to make sure the girl wasn't sneaking up from behind on me.  She must've run some more because she wasn't too far behind.  She was walking again though.  I actually would've said something as I passed her the first time, but she had headphones on.  Her walking behind me was the last I saw of her.

By the time I finished up the 3rd loop, I was starting to die.  The fast early pace took a lot out of me.  So did the heat.  The blistering foot was becoming more of a problem too.  Finally, I gave in to the foot.  I stopped and adjusted the tongue on the shoe at the beginning of the last lap.  That helped bring some relief, but it didn't completely solve the problem.  It just got worse and worse over the remainder of the run.

Finishing up was great.  I untied my shoe right away to give the blister some relief.  I had a small one developing on the back of my left heel too.  I've been trying to tie my shoes tighter lately to give my ankle more stability.  Without socks though, maybe I should've put them on looser.  Either way, I learned my lesson and won't forget my socks again (I hope anyway).  If I do, I'll go back home and run later.

I'm glad the blister is just a small red spot.  It didn't open up or anything.  I'm thinking it should be fine by tomorrow.  I am sure hoping so anyway.  I have 13 miles to run then.  It did burn like crazy when I took a shower after the run.  I'm going to apply cream throughout the rest of the day.

Much as I suspected, this run was brutal.  I can do laps at a track, but even that is a struggle.  One mile loops just bore me to death.  Even 4 measly miles were torture.  There are 12 hour and 24 hour endurance runs on loop courses like this.  I know a friend who did one.  God bless him.  I could never do something like that.  I think I can run 50 to 100 miles, but not on the same short course over and over again.  I'd just go crazy.  He has a military background and you'd need that type of discipline to do something like that.  Maybe you just completely turn your brain off.  I have no idea. 

Tomorrow will be another group run with the BCR.  I'm planning on getting there early again.  This time we are running the Lehigh Canal from south of Easton.  A lot of it is the same path that we ran last week.  I'm hoping to do 13 miles.  Kelley said she'd be there this week and I'm hoping she will come early.  I'm not sure if Flo will be there or not.  It looks like Mertz might be coming as well.  That would be great to have all those fast folks.

4 miles - 31:41 (7:55 pace)

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Sometimes It's Good to Slow Down

I have a long recovery time between my Wednesday morning speedwork session and my Thursday evening LVRR Group Run.  That usually mean I can push fairly hard in the group runs.  That said, it doesn't hurt to slow down some times.  I did just that tonight.

It was the usual 5 mile loop around the Parkway.  Since Kelley and none of the other faster runners were there, I told Akshay he could lead and I'd just take up the back of the group.  I wanted to do this anyway since Jen got a bit lost by herself the previous week.  I didn't want to leave her behind.

Akshay stayed ahead of us and I ran with Jeff as well as Jen.  Jeff said he was having some issues with his ankle and had not run much in the last few weeks.  He only planned on a few miles.  I ran between him and Jen.  The pace was a little over 10 minutes.  That's significantly slower than I normally run.

My legs were thanking me for the slow pace though.  They really enjoyed it and my lungs liked no having to work so hard.  After we crossed the Robin Hood Bridge, a woman passed us.  Akshay followed her and it made a good pacer for him.  I hung back with the other two.

Shortly after we got past the clubhouse, Jeff started having some problems.  He just quit and headed back.  I stayed with Jen.  We chatted a little and I stayed just ahead and pulled her along.  It worked too as we got faster and dipped just under a 10 minute pace.

Jen had not run the big hill by the Fish Hatchery.  I asked her and she said she wanted to try it this time.  When we got to the Fireman's Bridge, Akshay had circled back around to us.  He went up the big hill too.  He hasn't done that in awhile either.  I kept trying to pull Jen along.  She did quite well and made it all the way up without stopping.  Naturally, the pace slowed, but I was so proud of her.  I was happy for myself too because sometimes going up the hill slow bothers me.  Not today though, it felt fine.

The hill definitely did take something out of Jen.  Our pace kept slowing and slowing.  I tried to slow down for her to catch up, but whenever I did that, it seemed like she slowed more.  We got passed by a guy with a dog that had an annoying rattling chain.  Thankfully, he was much faster than our pace.

I ran with Akshay for a lot of this portion of the run.  At times, he would go ahead and then walk for us to catch up.  We chatted some.  I wanted to make sure Jen got up all the other hills and she did.

The pace had slowed to like 10:13 as we started coming downhill for the third mile.  I want to get a bit of speed going, so I picked up the pace and ran hard.  My final mile was under 9 minute pace and overall the pace dropped to just under 10 minutes.  It was a good bust of speed at the end of the run.

Sometimes it is nice to just slow down and enjoy the scenery.  I'm planning on pacing the Runner's World Half Marathon and my pace will be around what we did tonight.  This was some good practice.  I'll have to work in some other slow runs too before then.  It isn't exactly easy to go slow.  It takes some practice, just like going fast does.

This was a good day to help someone along.  That's about as rewarding and accomplishing things for yourself.  If I can help people get faster or pull them up a tough hill, I'm thrilled.  I want to coach sometime, so this is good for that.

Now that I'm done, I am surprisingly sore.  Nothing bothered me during the run, but my quads are sore now.  I think using muscles differently at a slow pace was the culprit.  It is good to work some other muscles too though or to work them differently anyway.

Tomorrow will be another easy day.  It will be faster than today though.  I'm not sure where I'll run.  Maybe Mill Race Park.  Since Friday is only a 4 miler, I usually pick somewhere close.  Saturday will be 13 miles with the BCR.  Maybe I'll even go to 13.1 miles just to hit the half marathon distance.

5 miles - 49:46 (9:57 pace)

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Enjoying the Speed!

After a lackluster start to the week, today was an excellent workout.  I'm starting to really love my speedwork Wednesdays.  They aren't easy, but that's what I enjoy most about them.  It is fun pushing myself to the limit and seeing just where that is.

One of the big keys to making these workouts a success is getting up early.  Kelley needed to be at work by late morning, so we agree to meetup at 8 AM at the Nor-Bath Trail.  That is fairly close to both of us.  I was certainly beat when I arrived.  I was at a dirt track race last night and didn't get to bed until after 2 AM.  I had less than 5 hours of sleep.

I wanted to do some strides and drills beforehand, but the grass was still wet.  I was also worried about injuring myself some more.  My body is already quite beat up.  The weather was perfect for this run.  We couldn't have asked for better conditions.  Since I had some chafing issues over the weekend, I've been running without a shirt.  However, it was so cold when the run began that I opted not to do that.  I ran instead with my BCR singlet.  I ended up with some minor chafing again by the end of the run.

What a difference a week makes, and perhaps having a training partner.  I struggled last week, but felt great today.  You can tell a lot how the run will go by the first repeat.  The plan today was to up the half mile repeats from 7 to 8.  I felt great after the first one, it almost seemed to easy.  Although I hit my goal last week, every rep was a struggle.

Kelley and I switched off leading repeats again.  I liked being behind two weeks ago, but for some reason struggled with it today.  Kelley's watch wasn't working right, so I had to inform her when to start and stop when she was leading the way.  I also had to let her know if we needed to change the pace.  She's getting pretty good with knowing pace now just on feel and I don't have to correct her much.  I felt much better leading than following today, but oh well.

The thing that does suck is how the Garmin pace can be all over the place early on in a rep.  At one point, it would say a 7:30 pace then all of a sudden it drops to 6:45.  One interval said 8 minute pace and another under 6 minute pace when both were around a 7 minute pace.  Eventually they all evened out, although I don't think the 6 minute paced interval was ever quite right.

We timed out the road crossing fairly well.  During our 4th interval we had to speed across the street.  Luckily there were no cars coming, especially because I didn't even look when crossing the road.  I just followed Kelley like a deer.  We made sure to turn around after finishing that one up, so we'd cross the road at a slow recovery speed.

I really like these half mile intervals.  They are challenging for sure, but they are short enough that I can just battle through them.  The recovery seems like it is over fairly quickly, but I do feel like I am getting enough rest.  I'm not sure with Kelley.  She seems to be breathing heavy after each interval.  She keeps hammering away though.  I definitely ran under 7 minute pace for each interval and I think she might've too.  If not, she just missed it on the final one or two.

Now that we are up 8 intervals, it does seem like a lot.  It isn't that I can't handle it, it is just that it seems like forever.  It took awhile to complete 4 intervals and we still had 4 more to go.  I will say that it goes much faster once we get to the second half of the workout.  I'm not sure I want to do more than 10 intervals.  We might switch to mile repeats soon.

Since I was feeling quite strong and enjoying leading, I took charge of both of the last two intervals.  I had something left, so I wanted to up the pace.  I did fade down the stretch of the 7th interval, but most of it was under a 6:30 pace.  Kelley certainly struggled with this speed and fell back a bit.  The same thing happened on the final interval as well.  I didn't push quite as much on that last repeat, but I did battle through it.  It was tough, but I knew I was almost done.  I still completed that rep with a 6:44 pace, even after my legs were screaming. 

Kelley said she felt like she was holding me back.  While I might be able to go a little faster, the goal is the hit a 7 minute pace and extend it for a long distance.  If that is a bit easy than that's fine.  What I can keep doing is pushing the last interval or two.  It will help me finish strong at the end of the race.  I think these workout will help me chase my half marathon PR.

Kelley had a big PR gain over the weekend at a 5k.  She's around 21:30 right now, which is much better than me.  She seems to sustain a slightly slower pace over a longer distance than I can, but I'm able to get to a higher top end speed during these shorter intervals.  I also seem to recover quite well.  Even after the good race, I still can't convince her that she can break 20 minutes for a 5k down the road.  I keep thinking I'll get faster than her, but I don't know.  She keeps getting better and better and I think the speedwork is a big help.  She has a lot of potential.

It was nice finishing up with over a mile of easy running.  We get some good chatting done during that as well as the warmup.  We can finally enjoy the trail too.  It was quite crowded today.  There was a good mix of runners, bikers and walkers.

Not every run is great, but I seem to be doing well with these intervals.  I know they are making me stronger.  They aren't killing me either.  My legs actually feel great too and aren't sore at all.  I'm thrilled with my continued progress.

I was reading up on Yasso 800s yesterday.  It is interesting because they say that whatever pace you run for 10 intervals predicts what you could do in a marathon, taking into account that you are doing long runs of the necessary distance.  For our workout we are running the 3:25 range for each interval.  That would come out to a 3:25 marathon.  If I had more endurance, I don't think that is too much of a stretch.  I'll have to see how accurate that is in the future.

Tomorrow is the regular group run with the LVRR.  I have to check my schedule again, but I think I might add another mile to the usual route and get to 6 miles.  I have to look closer at what I have planned.  The idea is to run 42 miles this week after 40 last week.  Not too much of a mileage gain.  Mileage gains from here on out will be minimal from week to week.

8 miles - 1:03:33 (7:57 pace)

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Beautiful Day

One thing I sure can't complain about is the weather lately.  I wish we had this weather earlier in the summer.  It has just been gorgeous for late August.  Today, I got up and started my run after 11 AM and it was at most in the low 80s without much humidity.

After being quite sore yesterday, I opted for some flat running on a softer surface today.  I decided I'd head to the Lehigh Gap Nature Center.  I've run the trails here before, but never along the D&L Trail south of there.  The plan was 6 miles total, 3 miles out and 3 miles back.  This is the finishing stretch of the D&L Half Marathon in November, so it is good prep work.

Parking near the boat launch made for an awesome view of the mountains in the gap.  I started off going south and running away from those mountains.  An early sign said that I was almost 2 miles from Slatington.  I drove through there on the way up.

I started off not feeling so great.  It took awhile for my sore legs to get going.  The inside front of my left leg started bothering me.  Every now and then I'd take a step that would send a shock of soreness through me.  I think my stride was too choppy.  I began wondering if I would finish.  It wasn't that painful though, just more of a nuisance.

Time did fly by.  Before I knew it a mile was gone.  The flat trail ran along the Lehigh River.  I could see it through the trees, but I actually wish there were more open spots to view the river.  A good portion of the trail was shaded.  It was a mix of sun and shade throughout the run.

After a mile, I came to the small Slatington Airport.  That was cool to see next to the path.  It was certainly something different.  I saw two planes take off earlier while I was in the parking lot.  I wasn't quick enough to get a photo of the plane that flew through the gap.  The other cool thing along the path was that there were a lot of old railroad ties next to it.  I'd imagine they just left them in there from when the railroad was functioning.  Otherwise, it would've taken a lot of work to put them all there.

The second mile was still uncomfortable, but my calves were getting better.  I'm beginning to wonder if I overwork my left side or something.  I might lead too much with that leg.  I'll have to pay closer attention.  I crossed over the road in Slatington and felt another little shock to my legs.  By this point, I was in a good rhythm and using more consistent strides.  I was feeling better.  It definitely doesn't hurt as much when I run faster.

The final mile before turning around was upon me before I knew it.  This section was neat as well.  There were a few old bridge piers and a railroad signal with some switchboxes.  I always love when the remnants of the railroad remain on the trail.  I passed a few people shortly before the turn around.  I did see a runner or two, but it was mostly bikers and walkers out there on the trail.

Coming back, I really began to fly.  Every mile got faster and faster throughout the run.  All of the second half miles were under 8 miles.  I was going a little harder, but it was still comfortable and I was far from "pushing it."  In fact mile 4 back to Slatington felt so easy that I think it was probably slightly downhill.  It just blew by.

Even though I continued to run them faster, the last 2 miles certainly felt more difficult.  I think they were both back to being long and gradual uphills.  It did feel like I had to work a bit more.  I just concentrated on getting through small increments. 

The area around the airport was great.  I came out of the wooded path section there and could see the mountain in the distance.  I now knew about how far I had to go.  When I did hit the sun, my legs became a little sluggish, but I kept battling through.  I disappeared back into a wooded section again, before emerging right near the finish.  I completed the run directly under the bridge that runs over the river just south of the gap.  That gave me some spectacular views at the end.  It was great to be done.

I was quite sore afterward and begin to stretch.  I drove to the Lehigh Gap Nature Center to get out of the sun and finish my stretching.  I was hoping to find a hill to run short steep hill sprints on, but I never did.  There were plenty of hills around.  However, I needed something smooth and not heavily trafficked.  I was going to go to the AT at Blue Mountain, but they were doing construction on the road up to there.

It was a great day for a run, with outstanding scenery.  It is one of the things I love most about living in this area.  So many excellent places to to run.  If the weather continues to hold up like this, it will be even better.

Tomorrow, will be my speedwork day.  It calls for 8 X .5 mile repeats.  That could be a bit of a challenge.  I'm going to a dirt track race tonight and won't be home until late.  Regardless, I have to get up early in the morning to get this key workout in while it is cooler.  Kelley may or may not join me.  I'm not sure yet.  Her there would be a big help, but either way I'm confident that I'll nail the workout.

6 miles - 48:39 (8:07 pace)

Monday, August 20, 2012

Some Days You Just Don't Have It

The plan to kick start the week was to do a tempo run.  Originally, I thought this was a cutback week and I was going to run some shorter hill repeats.  When I looked at my schedule though, I saw that it was another long week before cutting back next week.  That will work well too since I'm going away next weekend and won't have a lot of time to run.

I decided that I would run 6 miles with 5k in the middle of it comfortably hard.  I haven't run on the Wilson/Palmer Bike path in a long time, so I opted to go there.  I ran a few tempo runs there around this time last year.

I was really hoping that I could run that middle 5k at 7 minute pace, I knew that might be a bit ambitious though.  I couldn't even run that during a race two weeks ago.  I still figured I'd see what I have.  I'd just run on feel and not worry as much about pace.

I'm consistent when it comes to running, but one thing I'm slacking off with is the other stuff.  I have done some ab/core work, but not frequently enough.  Same with hill sprints.  I rarely do strides and drills.  I need to do all that stuff more.  Today, I opted to start out with strides and drills to get my legs warmed up and ready for some fast running.  I started off on the path behind Taco Bell in Wilson.  I ran a few strides.  I then did three high knees.  That bothered my left calf a lot, so I had to stop.  I guess I should do them on grass.  The hard surface combined with the fact that I was wearing minimal shoes, took its toll.  I was surprised that my calf could get that sore from such short drills, but it did.

After the soreness, I elected to walk and stretch before running.  I then started out with an easy mile warmup.  That began right before crossing over the intersection to Easton High School.  This area is a pain because it is always busy.

I didn't start out until after 10 AM.  It was very cool and cloudy for this time of year.  The humidity wasn't too bad, but of course I was still sweating.  I even went without a shirt again.  I headed onto the main path after crossing another busy road.

I saw another runner going slow up ahead.  I was glad he'd pull me along.  The only problem was that I passed him before the tempo part of the run.  This path was quite busy with runners, walkers and bikers.  Most of the paths that I use around here are moderately traveled at best.  This one goes through mostly residential neighborhoods, so it is very crowded.  It also crosses quite a few roads.

One thing I don't like about that path is that it is quite old.  There are a lot of cracks and bumps in the pavement.  It clearly hasn't been paved in quite awhile.  This sucks for biking and it wasn't much better when I was wearing my minimalist shoes and could feel everything.

I started off okay.  My pace was right around 7 minutes for the first quarter mile.  However, I wasn't feeling strong and could already tell I was slipping a bit.  My legs never seem too sharp after a rest day.  They recover and aren't sore any more, but they just don't have any snap.  That was definitely the case today.  Even the warmup didn't help.  It didn't take too long before I was into the 7:10 to 7:15 range.  That first fast mile eventually ended at 7:13.

It was very discouraging and tough to keep pushing when I was so far off my goal.  I knew I just had to keep going and keep trying.  I hoped that maybe my legs would somehow come in.  They never really did.  I just had to keep battling with them.  It was a struggle all day.  I'm sure the 40 miles that I put in last week was one of the problems too.

The end of the second fast mile was great.  It went over an old railroad bridge and was heading downhill.  I took advantage and ran a fast second tempo mile (7:08).  The only issue I had was that I had to go around a dog that was laying in the middle of the path and resting.  The lady with him got him out of my way a little, but I still had to go around him.

Of course while that second fast mile was great with the downhill ending, that meant that when I turned around for the next mile, I had to go uphill.  The climb was tough, so I dug down and focused.  I lost some time and was flirting with a 7:30 for that mile early on.  When it leveled out, my pace did pick up.  I was getting sloppy, but did still try to focus on form.  It definitely worked some as I got faster.

As I was near completion of this mile, I passed the lady with the dog again.  I then came upon two slow bikers.  I had an extra tenth of a mile to go to get to 5k of fast running.  Rather than try to run around them, I turned back around to finish this segment up.  That meant I passed the lady and dog again and then I turned around and passed them back another time.  She must've thought I was crazy.

I was disappointed that I didn't run as fast as I would've liked.  I did feel better though when I added up this 5k segment afterward.  It ended up being 22:20 seconds.  That was the same time as my 5k two weeks ago!  I didn't run nearly that hard today either.  I could've easily gone under 22 minutes if I pushed more.  I need to save something for the rest of the week.

I was finally to the cooldown portion of the run.  Of course, the run was far from over.  I still had 1.9 miles left to run.  I'm glad it was a nice day out.  I saw that there was a guy coming from behind right after I turned around.  I guess he wasn't running faster than my cooldown pace though since he never passed me.

The last couple slow miles seemed to take a long time.  It was comfortable though.  I just didn't care much for all the road crossings.  At one, I couldn't believe a young kid on a bike just darted out right in front of a car.  I had to dodge another dog on a leash as I was nearly finished.

I look at my watch too much.  I saw that I was at a 7:49 pace overall in the final couple tenths of the run.  I just had to speed up to finish with that same pace.  I often do this at the end of runs.  I guess I like numbers too much and love going under this one or that one.  It is a little crazy.  Instead of crossing the road in front of Easton High School, I ran along side of it to finish up.  That left me a decent walk at that end.  That was probably good though, since my calf was quite sore during the easy part of the run.  It allowed me to actively rest it some more.

I put some cream on the calf to reduce the soreness.  Hopefully that will help and it won't linger on all week.  I guess we'll have to wait and see.  Tomorrow, will be an easy and semi short run.  I'm leaning towards another 6 miler.  I have no idea yet whether it will be roads or trails.  I'll figure it out in the morning.  On Wednesday, I'm doing another speedwork session.  I'm planning on 8 X .5 mile repeats.  Hopefully Kelley will join me.  This week is only going to be a 2 mile increase in total mileage from last week.  That shouldn't be too bad.

 6 miles - 46:56 (7:50 pace)

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Speedy Two State Group Run

My goal is to PR in the half marathon in November.  It is kind of a crazy and ambitious goal to do it so soon.  That said, I'm gaining more and more confidence thanks to these fast group runs.  Of course my weekday speed sessions are a big help too.

I struggle to get up to run, so it is great having the Breakfast Club Runners to go with on Saturday mornings.  It gives me a group commitment.  Flo was planning on running 12 miles, so I suggested that since I'm doing the same, we should meet up early.  I got there a little before 6:45 and she was running late.  I waited 5 minutes, but I had to go so that I could try to get 5 miles in before the main group.

We were meeting up at Eddyside, along the Delaware just north of Easton.  I figured everyone would run along the river, so I started alone going uphill towards Lafayette College.  I don't even think I made it a quarter of a mile before turning around.  It was just too early for that kind of climb.  Maybe in the second half of the run.  As I got back near Eddyside, I thought I saw Flo pull up, but I wasn't sure.  I should've checked.  Instead, I just headed south along the river.

Free Bridge, Easton (not my photo)
I settled into a nice pace.  This early section sucks because it is concrete sidewalk.  That is no fun for the knees and I'm already a little beat up.  Eventually, I got to the smooth river path.  It was still dark early and the weather was nice.  The humidity quickly kicked in though.

I never ran here before with the group, so I didn't know exactly where they normally go.  I crossed over the Lehigh River after Larry Holmes Drive and guessed correctly.  They ran west along the canal path.  I've also never run this section at all before.  I knew I had it right when I came to Angie and a bunch of the others from the BCR group.  I figured it was also time to turn around soon.

Right before I came to Angie, Flo caught up with me.  She must've been flying since I was quite far ahead.  She had asked me beforehand if I could do an 8 minute pace.  I was running about 8:30 on my own.  When she caught up, we picked up the pace and continued on.

We turned around at about 2.33 miles.  I knew I'd be a little short of the planned 5 miles for this leg.  That was okay though now that I had someone to run with.  We chatted a lot on the way back, discussing training and stuff like that.  I actually wanted to run over the free bridge into New Jersey, but we ended up going under it.

Before I knew it, we were back to Eddyside.  Flo ran a little farther around the parking lot to get her watch even with me.  I didn't know she was doing that, so I ran a short loop on the nearby road.  That got me to 4.73 miles before meeting up with the main group.  We must've looked ridiculous running around the parking lot.

We hung out in the parking lot briefly before heading out again with the main pack.  I quickly changed into my minimal shoes.  I've only run 7 miles at most in them so far, so I didn't want to push it too much.  I'll probably do the whole run in them next week.

Tom and another guy started a little earlier than the main group.  Dave started ahead of Flo and I, but we quickly passed him on the sidewalk.  It was a nice and comfortable pace at that point.  It actually felt slow now that I had on my lighter shoes.

This time when we got to the free bridge, we ran over to New Jersey.  I guess Flo thought I had a plan for running over there.  I didn't have one.  I just wanted to say that I ran in two states during the same run.  We went along the river for a short while before it came to a dead end at a business.  We then came back over the bridge and along Larry Holmes Drive.  Since we were the only ones that went over the river, we were now behind everyone else.

We then ran back over the Lehigh River and on to the canal path again.  It was a nice scenic run.  We passed by a family who was fishing under one of the bridges.  They must've thought we were crazy as over 20 runners went past.  For whatever reason, my legs didn't feel as strong once we hit this paved path.  I never could figure out why.

Flo was starting to struggle around this time.  Eventually, she stopped to stretch her calves and told me to keep going.  Since I was half a mile ahead of her in distance that I had run, I just turned around a half mile early.  She then met up with me.

We ran together for awhile.  We were now in the final 3 miles.  She didn't seem too strong.  Since we weren't talking too much at this point anyway, I decided to go ahead a little and hoped to pull her along.  I laid down a 7:41 mile.  It didn't even seem too difficult this late in the run.

One problem I encountered with a few miles to go was that my nipples began to chafe.  I put some cream on beforehand, but that didn't help.  My singlet was still drenched and rubbing.  It was crazy too because the temperature was still low.  I was wearing spandex shorts, so I didn't want to take my shirt off unless I had to.  I didn't want to run through downtown Easton in spandex without a shirt and with high compression socks.  That would not have been a pretty sight.  I decided just to deal with it.

After we got off the canal path, I pulled away from Flo a little more.  I didn't want to go too hard and lose her completely.  I was particularly worried because she almost got sick during last week's run and had to walk some.  I kept turning back to make sure she was still there.

I grew quite concerned as we made it back onto the sidewalk north of Easton.  I went around a curve and didn't see her at all.  Then she popped out around the corner.  I kept pushing fairly hard as I was nearing the finish.

Before I knew it, Flo was coming back on me.  I was surprised because I was quite far ahead of her at one point and I was already laying down a pretty quick final mile.  It didn't take her too long and she went by me with less than a quarter mile to go.  That was great because I paced off her to the finish.  I needed that after pacing her for most of the run.  I know she's strong and the earlier part of the run where she fell back surprised me.  Her blowing pace me at the end sort of did, but at the same it also didn't.

After the blistering finish, including a 7:19 mile, the pace dropped to 8:05 overall.  That is kind of crazy because 7:19 was around my pace for the final mile at the 5k two weeks ago.  Now, I did that after already running 11 miles.  I am surely getting much stronger.  I feel that if this were a race, I could probably run around a 7:30 pace right now.  Maybe my 7 minute half marathon pace is realistic for two months down the road.

It is about two and a half months until that half marathon and I'm already only a mile short of that distance.  My long runs will be well over half marathon distance.  I have never done that before.  That should make the half marathon feel like cake.  I guess we shall see.  I'm also excited because I am already at 40 miles for the week.  That was my peak mileage for my first marathon.  I'll be flirting with 60 miles per week by the end of this training plan.

This was a great group run again and a great week.  Faster runners really help to pull me along.  For next week's long run, I'm backing off to 8 miles.  I should be able to run that quite hard.  When I get back to 13 miles for my long run in a couple weeks, I'm hoping to do it well under 8 minute pace.

Tomorrow will be one of those rare days off.  I've run 16 of the 18 days thus far this month.  My body definitely needs to break.  I don't quite have a plan for Monday.  I'm leaning toward some hill repeats.  I need to get to the hills a bit more often.  The mileage throughout the whole week will be slightly shorter, with exception of my midweek speedwork.  Kelley will be back from vacation and we will run that together.  I'm thrilled with my progress and can't wait to do more.

1:37:05 - 12.01 miles (8:05 pace)

Friday, August 17, 2012

Just Another Lazy Friday

With these easy Fridays, I'm always looking for different places to run.  I had hope to go up to the Poconos to check out some waterfalls and run in the area.  Because it looked like potential rain in the afternoon, I scraped that plan.  Instead, I decided to stay local.

Even when making that decision, I couldn't figure out where to run around here.  At first I considered Louise Moore, but the thought of 4+ laps around there just makes me cringe.  I opted for the Forks Township Recreation Trail.  I had never run there before.  I scoped it out a little while ago.  First I drove up to Martin's Creek and along the Delaware though.

When I finally got to running after noon, it was getting quite humid.  There was no parking by the trail, so I parked in a new development.  I ran along the paved trail before it ended.  That was a little over a half mile long.  I was surprised that only one person with a kid was walking along this shady path through neighborhoods.  I thought it would be utilized more.

I had to go to the bathroom at this point, but the other direction along the trail looked like more woods to use.  I was correct.  That section was like a forest footpath.  It was partly dirt with a lot of grass.  It was covered by plenty of trees.  It was nice and peaceful and quite relaxing.

The scenery kept my mine off of checking my watch.  After cutting through some farm land, the path became a wider portion of dirt.  I was wondering what this path was.  It was flat and about the width of a railroad, but there was a lot of grass.  To that point I saw no signs indicting that a rail line went through there.  Then I ran across a concrete bridge like structure.  I figured it must be a railroad and shortly after that, I saw the old signals along the path.

This portion of the path was high up on a ridge.  I could catch glimpses of the Delaware River and Route 611 far below.  I could hear either trucks or boats, I wasn't sure.  I kept hoping for a good view.  As I approached the turnaround point, I thought maybe I had one.  There was a power line running through there.  Unfortunately, there was also an abandoned bridge that was closed off.  Rather than wander down the path below, I opted to turn around.

The second half of this part of the path was tough.  It was getting more and more muggy.  The path was a slight incline as well.  When I hit the three mile point, my body really began to rebel.  I couldn't wait for the run to end.  At three and a half miles, it was very difficult.  I just kept battling on.  These runs less than 24 hours after my Thursday evening runs are hard.  There isn't enough recovery time.

As I neared the end of the wooded part of the path, a couple with a little dog came the other direction.  They had to put it on a leash then.  I guess they weren't actually expecting anyone in this section.  They were the only people I saw the whole time.  It is a shame.  It is a nice place to run.  It is a bit secluded, but different from most rail trails.  I really liked that.  I had to finish up in the neighborhood.  The unshaded he was just brutal.  It was great to be done.

This was another solid run before my Saturday long run.  I will head out to run with the Breakfast Club Runners.  They are running at Eddyside, along the Delaware.  I've never run with them there before.  It should be interesting.  I am planning on heading there early to get 5 or 6 miles in before the group does.  Hopefully the group part will be fast and challenge me.

4 miles - 35:44 (8:56 pace)

Thursday, August 16, 2012

New Runners Join the Group

I ran pretty hard yesterday, but recovered fine with an extra couple hours of rest.  Even so, I decided that I wanted to just do an easy day.  I sort of did as I was leading the LVRR Group Run.  I only ran 4 miles and skipped the big hill.  It was still fairly fast though.

With Kelley and the rest of the regulars gone.  I was thinking I could relax.  One of the slower runners from last week, Jen, made an appearance again.  I would've ran with her if Akshay was there, but he wasn't.  That meant I had to lead.

I started off easy with one of the new guys.  I think his name was Rich.  For the sake of this writing, he will be referred to as Rich.  He was a former Lehigh runner.  We headed over the small hills first.  That gets your legs going quickly.  We also had to dodge some kids that were running the hills.  That was entertaining.

The weather was finally rather comfortable.  That helped make the workout a joy.  Rich and I chatted and time just flew by as it always does in group runs.  I felt like we were running very easy, but I was surprised to see how quick the pace was.  It was well under 8:30 and just kept going down as the run went on.

I was able to chat comfortably at that pace.  It is amazing because just two months ago running slower than this was very difficult and had me breathing heavy on a group run.  I guess the speedwork and group running is paying off and I'm improving significantly.

Since I was planning on an easy day, I opted to skip the big hill near the Fish Hatchery.  I also wanted to shorten the run because I ran too long on Tuesday.  Four miles would be enough for today.  It worked out well because that was almost exactly how long the route ended up being.  We stopped right after the clubhouse.

After stopping, another new runner, Steve finished up just behind us.  I think his name was Steve, but not 100% sure on that one.  Anyway, he said that he ran with Jen for awhile but she told him to go on.  He said he was running hard and could see us, but couldn't quite catch us.  He also said it didn't look like we were going hard and he was right because we weren't.

The three of us went into the clubhouse after the run and had some water.  As we were in there another guy came in and asked us if we were the group run.  He said he ran by himself because he was 20 minutes late, but hopes to join the group in the future.  It was great having so much new interest.

After a bit, I headed back out to see if Jen was still around.  I caught her in her car before she left.  She did say she got lost a little.  I was hoping now that she ran in the Parkway twice, she'd find her way back.  I feel bad because she drove over an hour each way to run with people and this week she had to run alone.  I'll try to stick with her more in the future if I have to.  That's more important that running at a pace that I want.

Without the normal group, I was worried that no one would show up.  It was great to have some others tonight.  Hopefully the group will continue to grow.  It would be nice if it got big enough that we could have several different small groups running at different paces.  That's ideal so that people don't have to run alone.

Tomorrow will be another short recovery day.  I was reading about a high school in the Poconos and decided that I should hike and run up that way.  There are some cool waterfalls on a trail.  If it isn't too crowded and the terrain isn't bad, I'll run it.  If not, then I'll just hike there and run the McDade Trail.  That is a long trail along the Delaware River.  It should be a fun and relaxing day before Saturday's long run.

4 miles - 32:40 (8:10 pace)

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

One of the Toughest Workouts Ever

With the weather changing around by the minute yesterday and it looking like the same thing would happen today, I elected to just run today's workout whenever I had an opportunity.  I didn't wake until almost 11 and it was clear, so I headed right out the door.

I ran this speedwork session on the D&L Trail.  This is the site of my half marathon, so I want to get there often.  I think my Wednesday speed sessions will probably rotate between here, the Irtonton Rail Trail and the Nor-Bath Trail.  My regular training partner is out of town, so I was on my own.

Last week, Kelley and I ran 6 X .5 mile repeats with .25 mile active recoveries.  This week I just added a 7th half mile repeat to the workout.  I felt comfortable after last week's 6, so I didn't think this would be too hard.  I was sure mistaken.

I got out of my car and already could tell it was going to be very hot.  I went with just shorts, no shirt.  I was almost defeated before I started as I was thinking there is no way I could complete all 7 reps under a 7 minute per mile pace.  Not only was it hot, but the trail run yesterday beat me up pretty good.  My legs weren't fully recovered yet.  That said, I tried to mentally block all that out and stay positive.  I need to think this way more often.

Those legs of mine were in top notch form for these Wednesday runs each of the last few weeks, but not today.  I could definitely feel it as I began my slow mile warmup.  They did start coming around by the end of the mile though.  I could still tell they weren't going to be sharp today.  I was just going to have to grind it out.

Grind it out is just what I did.  I didn't even feel good on the first repeat.  The second fast repeat wasn't much better either.  My legs seemed to start each rep well, but then faded toward the end.  That said, I managed to hold on and keep each rep under goal pace.

The third fast repeat was really tough.  I was hurting a lot and already breathing heavy.  I wasn't even half way into the workout and I was already struggling more than any point last week.  Again, I hit my mark for this repeat, but wasn't sure how I'd do any more.

I just focused on getting through that fourth rep and getting into the second half of my run.  The plan was to turn around shortly after the fourth rep.  It seems like the route is slightly uphill on the way out and slightly downhill on the way back.  I figured if that was the case, just getting past the turnaround would be a big help.

The fourth rep was definitely killer.  I was breathing heavy, but I just kept pushing and pushing.  Every tenth of a mile seemed like forever.  Maybe I looked at my watch too frequently.  I came into the sun as I finished up.  It was very tough, but again I was under goal pace.

Just turning around was mentally refreshing.  I now knew I was in the back half of the run.  Again this fifth rep was difficult.  I just kept battling the clock.  The good thing is that as long as you are close to goal pace, just picking it up slightly can put you under it.  I was able to start fast a lot of times and just hang on throughout the rep.

Once I got through five fast repeats, I was very happy.  I figured that even if I wasn't able to hit goal pace on the last two, at least I could complete them and I still had five good reps in.  I definitely ran smarter on the final two reps.  I started off slower on each one and saved myself for the final quarter mile.  That allowed me to have something in the tank to push through the end.  It wasn't easy, but I completed the sixth rep again under goal pace.

My legs were very beat and my breathing was so heavy.  I absolutely had no idea how I'd hit my goal pace for the final repeat.  Honestly, I just hoped to complete the repeat with a fairly hard effort.  I didn't think I could hang on to the pace any longer.  As I was nearing the start of this rep, I came upon a road crossing and a slight uphill.  I didn't want to start there, so I gave myself a little extra recovery.  Instead of .25 miles, it was actually .33 miles.  I'm sure that helped.

The final repeat was so hard.  I started off comfortable and my pace showed almost 8 minutes.  I was ready to give up.  Then it readjusted and was back right around 7 minute pace.  As I approached the halfway point of this rep, it was just over 7 minute pace.  Even though I was struggling, I knew I could dig down and pull out another hard .25 miles.  I did just that.  It was tough, but I kept pushing and pushing.  I wasn't shooting to make this my fastest repeat, but that's what ended up happening.  I completed the hard portion of the run with a 6:48 minute pace for the final half mile.  It was a huge relief.

Although I don't feel like I ran too consistent throughout each fast segment, my times by the end of each .5 mile portion were very consistent.  For the first six, they varied in total time from 3:25 to 3:27 (6:52 pace to 6:57 pace).  The final repeat was a bit faster at 3:23 (6:48 pace).  The downhill certainly helped on the back half, or at least the perception of downhill running did.  

I think the heat was a huge factor today.  My shorts were completely soaked by the end.  Of course a car pulled up while I was trying to change from running shorts to regular shorts in my car.  Thankfully, I had a towel on.  I definitely need to keep getting up early for these days, like Kelley and I did last week.  That will make a huge difference.  I'm thinking that in a few weeks, I want to switch to mile repeats.  That could be very tough.  Obviously we'll run less repeats, but even so I can't imagine holding that pace for a mile at a time.  Maybe it will be easier as we get faster.  Perhaps I should just transition us to .75 mile repeats first.  I guess I'll have to see how things play out.

Even though I complained about the heat during this run, running in the hot weather actually isn't that bad.  I don't enjoy being soaked, but I am so used to it by now.  People ask me how I can run in the middle of the day during the summer, but your body does adapt and it isn't too difficult after awhile.  Running with some shade sure helps too.  Don't get me wrong, I can't wait for the cooler temperatures of the fall.  Dealing with this heat will make me so much stronger when the better conditions come in down the road.  I can't wait to see what my times will be like in two months.  I wanted to run with a friend this week, but he complained that it is too hot to run outside this time of year.  Of course, he won't run outside in the cold either.  I won't run inside ever!

As I finished up, a young woman was completing her run too.  I couldn't believe she was wearing a cotton shirt and three quarter length sweatpants.  Even more amazing, it didn't look like she was sweating.  She commented that I'm the only runner she ever sees there.  I don't ever remember seeing her before, but I have run there fairly often.  It is mostly bikes and walkers.  I think I saw two or three other runners today as well.  She told me she is just getting back to running and is up to 4 miles and 26 minutes.  There is no way she is that fast.  Maybe 36 minutes, but even that would be pushing it.  I just let it slide.  I also told her she should find a group to run with, although I didn't offer up the LVRR or BCR Group Runs like I probably should have.

This was an awesome workout.  I can't remember when I taxed my body like that.  It has sure been awhile, if ever.  I need to run harder like this more often.  I usually run comfortably hard, but I often stick to the end of my comfort zone and don't go beyond it.  There is no point in killing myself all the time, but I should do it with more frequency.  It will make me mentally stronger, that is for sure.  That is an area I need to improve upon.

What I like about my Wednesday to Thursday schedule is the recovery time.  I usually complete my run by early afternoon on Wednesday and the Thursday group runs are at 6 in the evening.  That typically gives me around 30 hours to recover from Wednesday's hard workout.

I will need all that recovery time between now and tomorrow.  That is for sure.  With Kelley gone, I'm hoping I can run very easy with the group for a change.  That would be nice.  I need to relax for the next two days.  Saturday will be another fairly challenging long run.  I can't wait.  I need more days like today and some good recovery too.

7 miles - 54:56 (7:51 pace)

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Scenic Trail Run

I wanted to run at Bear Creek today.  The weather messed with my plans though.  When I went to sleep at 1 AM, it said that things would be clear until noon and then it was going to storm.  Instead, I awoke to rain at 9 AM.  That was frustrating, but I had to wait it out because there were potential thunderstorms.

I finally got a couple clear hours to work with in the afternoon.  Because it had rained, the temperatures would be relatively low too.  I figured that since it could still storm at any time, I would head to Jacobsburg.  Then at the last minute, I changed my mind and decided to travel.

I headed north to Big Pocono State Park.  It is just off of the Route 80 and Route 33 junction, near Tannersville.  It is close to the Crossing and adjacent to Camelback Ski Area.  What is great about this park is that you can drive right to the top of the mountain and get spectacular views of the other ridges and valleys below on both the north and south sides.  The elevation is around 2100 feet.

I made the trip to Big Pocono State Park when I was running the Pocono Run for the Red Marathon in 2010.  Packet pickup was nearby then.  I had never run there though.  The plan for today was to run 5 miles and get some hill work involved.  It would be an easy pace.

The run started out cloudy.  I ran from the top parking lot to the lower one on the Vista Trail (after checking out the great views of course).  Shortly after reaching the other parking lot, I headed west on the South Trail.  It runs along the ridge of the mountain.  The plan was to eventually run to the State Game Lands nearby.

Both the Vista Trail and South Trail were well maintained.  I don't think you would call them a doubletrack, but they were definitely wider than a standard singletrack trail.  There was tree coverage everywhere, so no more views at this point.

I heard some rain coming through the trees.  At first, I thought it was an animal.  Not long after that though, I did come across a deer.  I heard a lot of branches breaking nearby.  I saw the deer off in the back.  These two trails were a mixture of rocks and grass.  It wasn't too rocky, but enough to make the moderate downhill slightly challenging.

The South Trail ran along the side of the mountain.  There was some elevation drop, but it was gradual.  I saw some communication towers and thought that I was near the State Game Lands area.  It turns out I wasn't quite that close yet.  I was near some other towers, still about a half mile away.

I eventually made it to the State Game Lands parking lot after some brief running on the road.  Last time I was here, I walked this trail briefly.  It is a wide road composed of red rock and dirt.  A truck actually came out of there.  I thought maybe he came from one of the communication towers, but probably not since there were tire tracks farther down.

This section was a little difficult to navigate because there are no signs.  You just have to find it on your own or have a map.  I had looked at one briefly beforehand, but didn't carry it.  This section continued to be a gradual descend.  After maybe a half mile or so, I came to a split.  Both roads looked similar.  For no real reason at all, I went to the right.  I figured the path might turn soon.  It ended up being the correct move.

At this point though, I was unsure if I was headed in the right direction.  I have a hiking book about the Poconos and somewhere down this path were two lakes, Wolf Swamp and Deep Lake.  I figured that if I didn't find them, I'd just turn around.  After maybe another half mile, I came upon another split.  Fortunately, this time there was a rock painted with directions to the lakes.

After a little while, I came to Wolf Swamp.  It is really more of a lake than a swamp.  The trail runs right past it.  It is beautiful and even more interesting because it is so remote.  I suppose on a nicer day there would be a few hikers in this section, but I didn't come across any.

I kept going along the trail.  Eventually I came to another split and went the wrong way briefly.  I could see Deep Lake and finally came too it.  The trail didn't go directly by it, so I had to take an off shooting path.  This lake is more round than its counterpart.  There was even an old camp fire next to it.  It was still quiet and peaceful.  The only problem was that there were quite a few bugs bothering me. 

I've been asking for a GoPro camera as an early Christmas present.  Today, I could've really used it.  Getting pictures of these lakes would've been cool.  I'm not going to carry a big camera with me though.

After seeing both lakes, I turned around.  I was already somewhere past the 3 mile mark in this run.  I knew it would end up being longer than planned.  There was supposed to be a difficult climb if I kept going, but I didn't want to take a chance.  I just headed back the way I came.

It wasn't too tough to find my way back, but it was made even easier by the soft ground.  My footprints were left there from the way out to the lakes and they were the only tracks.  At one point, I lost them, but quickly found them again.  There were some muddy puddles along this route, but I managed to mostly avoid them.

Going back was hard because it was a long, gradual uphill.  I sort of wish the route was the opposite way, where I'd have to climb to get to the lakes and then cruise on back.  I had already reached my main destination and was now forced to ascend.  The one good thing is that it was a lot easier to run over the spaced rocks going uphill than it was downhill.

I'm glad it wasn't hot out, because these dirt/stone road were exposed.  I did start to get a little bit hot towards the end of the run.  I thought about stopping around mile 6, but I knew I'd just have to walk all the way back anyway.

Right near that 6 mile mark, I emerged from the State Game Lands.  Rather than going back on the longer South Trail, I opted just to stay on the paved road.  That was tough because it was still another long, gradual uphill.  I don't really like running with trail shoes on roads.  It also got hot and humid as the sun peaked out during this stretch.

I eventually made it to the finish.  It ended up being right at 7 miles.  The trail was quite fast and yet still had some climbing involved.  It was definitely the perfect easy day.  I had some awesome scenery with the views from the top of the mountain and then the views of the two lakes.  I'll definitely make this a regular run.

Angie and I were at the Pocono Marathon in the spring and we discussed how the southern part of the Poconos is relatively close.  It is actually easier for me to get to this trail than some of the trails in the southern and western portions of the Lehigh Valley.  I'm sure I'll be here again soon.  I might even add a couple miles to the run as well.  I'd actually love to run up Camelback Mountain on the road from the bottom.  That is quite a climb and would be very tough.  I'm not sure the elevation of the lakes, but they were quite high.

It turned out to be such a refreshing day and just what I needed.  With opportunities to run at places like this, I'm not sure my running will ever get stale.  I love trail running and I love new places.  This park delivered everything I expected and more.  It is definitely among my favorite places to run.

Tomorrow is a speedwork day.  It is back to the flat rail trails.  Since Kelley is on vacation, I'll be running alone.  I'm thinking I'll head to the D&L Trail, since that is where my half marathon is taking place.  It will be good practice.  I'm planning on 7 X 1/2 mile with 1/4 mile of active recovery in between.  The hope is to just run at 7 minute pace for each.  However, if I'm feeling good like last week, I might shoot for running the last two at a 6:45 minute pace.  We'll see how it plays out.  The weather is supposed to be off and on again, so I'll have to pick out a good window.

7 miles - 1:05:59 (9:26 pace)