Saturday, October 27, 2012

Keeping Myself in Check

Today is the usual weekly run with the BCR.  Earlier in the week, Flo asked if anyone would run with her on Saturday.  She got a lot of responses.  She was doing a 20 miler and the others were just planning on running shorter distances.  They were going to meet her at 7 AM and she was starting at 6 AM.

I figured that I'd give her some company at 6 AM for the beginning of her run.  I was excited to run a fairly fast pace too.  I was hoping for 12 miles this week before my half marathon next week.  Something in the range of 7:30-7:45 would be nice.

We started so early that it was nearly pitch black.  We ran without headlamps though.  I've done that before here on the Nor-Bath Trail, so it wasn't too big of a deal.  We just needed to adjust our eyes.

It is late October, but it was surprisingly warm today.  I ran with just a short sleeve shirt and shorts and I took my shirt off part way through the run.  I guess I shouldn't say it was warm, but it was humid.  Before the run, I knew I was dehydrated.  I didn't drink enough overnight.  That made this outing tough.

Flo and I cruised along.  The first mile was slow by our standards.  We couldn't go too fast anyway since we couldn't see the trail up ahead.  Things picked up as it got lighter.  We chatted about running and other things.  That combined with the fact that I couldn't see my watch made time fly.

I was glad I could give her company and watch out for her.  At one point, she almost ran into a gate at a road crossing.  Before we turned around, she went into a parking lot rather than staying on the trail.  Luckily, I run this trail a lot, so I know where I'm going, even in the dark.

With the humidity, the pace was a bit of a challenge early on.  I was definitely struggling some with my breathing.  Flo was having no trouble.  With the fast pace, I was running up on my toes.  My foot felt good when I did that.  I had no issues there.

We went out to a road crossing about a quarter mile before hitting the 4 mile mark.  That was a good start.  We needed to get back in time for Flo to meet up with Mel and anyone else that showed up to run.

I didn't think I could run on my toes the whole time, so I ran more with a midfoot strike the mile or so before we turned around.  That started to bother me.  I could feel each impact.  It isn't pain, but rather just some minor soreness.  It does get annoying though.

After we turned around, I told Flo that I wasn't feeling great and she could take off.  I don't know what it was, but even without the foot issue, I just didn't feel strong.  Flo said she was fine with the pace.  Before I knew it, she was long gone though.  Later on, she said she felt great today.

When we ran a couple weeks ago, she was ahead of me, but I managed to hang on.  I wasn't too far back of her then.  The problem today was that once she was just a little bit ahead of me, I couldn't see her any more in the dark.  At one point, I could see her watch light up way ahead.

With her gone, I backed off the pace.  I ran over 8 minute miles for the rest of the run.  I actually couldn't wait for the run to be over.  Not so much because my foot was bothering me that much, but because I didn't feel as though I was accomplishing much.  This run sort of ended up being like a reverse progression run.  It was faster in the beginning and slower at the end.

I figured that when I got back to the start, I'd be around 7.5 miles.  I like round numbers, so I decided that I would run 8 miles before quitting.  Running the extra 4 miles wasn't going to accomplish anything.  I'm already well trained for next week's race.  Doing more is only going to hurt me, not help me.

When I returned to the start of the trail, I did a short out and back.  I saw April starting her run as I was turning around.  I passed them on my way back in.  I also saw Flo, Mel and Angie starting up.  I was glad just to be done.

The only problem with starting this early was that I had to wait around before breakfast.  I chatted with the main group before they started up at 7:30.  Then I walked on the trail for about 15 minutes.  Without running, it was actually cold out and I didn't have a jacket.  I went back to my car to get warm and then I got some more water too.

It wasn't too long before some people were back from there run.  Then the whole group gathered.  There were a lot of people that were either new or that I had never met before.  It was fun to chat with them.  That continued on to breakfast.  We talked about a lot of things. 

One of the interesting items was Dave's new run.  It will be a 4.4 mile loop that begins each hour.  You have to complete a loop within the hour and then you run another one the next hour.  This keeps going until everyone quits.  It sounds like fun, but it also sounds like something I might get myself hurt doing.  I don't know if I want to participate or not.  When I do things like this, I do them all or nothing.  We'll see what happens between now and early December.

I'm definitely not happy with my foot.  I'll take even more rest this week.  I need to try as much as I can to be 100% for the race.  Otherwise, getting a PR will be tough.  I'm not sure that I'll run more than twice this week.  Better safe than sorry.

The good thing about my foot is that it isn't too painful at this point.  I feel as though I could tune it out come race day.  I just hope it is healed by then.  I know I can run the 13.1 miles on it.  It is just a matter of how fast I can go.  I was hoping to run in my lightweight shoes.  That is all that I've done my speedwork in.  Those are also the shoes that I was wearing when I hurt myself.  Therefore, I'm going to play it safe and wear my regular shoes.  That may end up costing me a few seconds each mile.

Since I'm beat up, I really have no idea when I'm going to run next.  I definitely want to get a few miles in this week.  For sure, I'll lead the group run on Thursday evening.  We have a hurricane coming through on Monday and Tuesday and running through that sounds like fun too.  Maybe I'll be smart about it and pass on running those days.

8 miles - 1:04:22 (8:03 pace)

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Not Alone This Week

The Thursday night group runs are going to be lonely affairs for me.  Luckily, that wasn't the case this week.  Jeff showed up to run with me.  I haven't seen him since August.  I knew he was injured before doing a half marathon and hadn't hear from him since.  I figured he was having some issues.

Jeff did say he tried to stay active by biking and stuff.  He ran for the first time yesterday and got 3 miles in.  Since my quads were still a little sore from two days ago, I figured that if I was alone I'd only run the 5K course.  We decided just to do 3 miles.  That was good enough for me.

It seemed chilly at the start, so I put on arm sleeves.  I was sweating by the end though.  I couldn't believe how humid it was outside.  I wasn't running too hard either.

It was good catching up with Jeff.  We ran out to the Robin Hood Bridge and then into the eastern section of the Parkway.  That was good because I don't run over there too often.  The pace was slow for me, so my form was a little different.  My foot wasn't a problem though.  I think it isn't going to be a big deal.

I needed a nice and easy and relaxing run.  We went out to the road and were around 1.3 miles.  Time flew by.  I couldn't believe how quickly this short run went by.  We talked about running and football and before I knew it, we were back at the Clubhouse.  Jeff stopped there and I kept going to complete the 3rd mile.

It was already quite dark by the time we finished.  I considered taking a headlamp with me, but decided not too.  I will definitely need it in the future, especially when we set the clocks back.

We are considering changing the run around, but I'm not sure what to do.  It is tough to find a place that is lit without any traffic.  I know the new Wednesday run is starting and Mulhenberg College and running around there.  I'm thinking that the Bethlehem Steel area might be a good place to run.  Something needs to change because we aren't getting anyone out anymore.  Maybe a change of scenery would help.  We will be kicked out with the Lights in the Parkway soon.

Speaking of Lights in the Parkway, they began setting that up already.  I don't believe it starts until after Thanksgiving.  It was cool running around some of the figures while we were able to see them with the daylight.

I need more nice and easy runs like today.  It is has been a great week.  My body is enjoying the rest.  I'm not even sure if I'll run tomorrow or not.  If I do, it will be short.  The D1 cross country meet is at Lehigh, so I'll be there a lot of the day.  I wouldn't mind getting 3 or 4 easy miles in.  It may be better to just take off and prepare for my final long run on Saturday.

3 miles - 30:27 (10:09 pace)

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Foot Test

Yesterday my left foot bothered me during the cooldown portion of my speedwork session.  That had me concerned.  I didn't hurt while walking around today, but it did seem a little tender.  The plan was to test it out and if it started to become a problem, I would back off.  I'm 10 days out from my half marathon and it is time to cut back anyway.

I wanted to run in the morning, but I had to have some blood drawn.  The afternoon was busy with the District XI Cross Country Meet.  Chasing around 6 different races at Bethlehem Municipal Golf Course wore me out.  The good thing was that all of the running around allowed me to test out my foot a bit.  It seemed a little sore, but nothing too bad.  My quads are beat up again after the speedwork session and in fact they felt much worse than my foot.

It seemed like forever until the awards ceremony was over for the cross country meet.  Finally, I got to leave and get my run started.  I decided that I was fairly close to Bicentennial Park, so I'd go there and run on the Nor-Bath Trail.  It was a few minutes after 6 PM and I was already losing light.

I knew with it being dark, I'd have to watch the road crossings.  I could actually get about 3 miles in without crossing any roads.  I wanted to run 4 miles though.

I was just running easy today and started out very slow.  There was some soreness in my foot, but I felt pretty good.  I knew early on that I would likely complete the run.  I may have overcompensated a little, but I made sure to try to put some pressure on it to test it out too.

Partly because of my worries about the foot, the 1st mile was very slow.  I came across in 9:19.  I got through the road crossing fine.  Usually I would head east to Airport Road in this situation, but I opted to go the other direction this time.  I figured that when I did decide to cross a road, I would hit less traffic.

I was hoping to get to 1.5 miles before turning around.  That would give me only 1 mile to run in the other direction.  As I approached 1.5 miles, I saw a woman up ahead walking a dog.  I thought it was a woman anyway, but it was too dark to tell.  I am a guy, so I had to run a farther and check her out.  She was decent looking.  This caused me to go to 1.75 miles out and turn around.

I actually passed a guy in this stretch too (didn't check him out).  That was weird because there was almost no one out on the trail at dusk.  I only saw those two and a guy on a bike fly by later on.

I continued on and by now it was getting quite dark.  I really couldn't see much of anything.  If there was an object on the trail, like a walnut, I would've tripped on it.  Definitely not good for a sore foot.  I'm not sure, but that might've been my issue yesterday, although I don't specifically remember stepping on anything.

The road crossing was busy the second time around.  I had to wait a little and dart out in front of some headlights.  I wasn't close to the car, but I probably should've waited.

By now, I had picked up the pace and was really moving.  I almost didn't notice my foot at all.  I was just cruising along and enjoying the cool breeze.  I couldn't wait to just finish up.

I got back to Bicentennial Park and turned around for the short out and back.  That was uneventful and before I knew it, I was done with a solid 8:14 final mile.  A nice 4 mile recovery run where every mile got a little bit faster.

When I started at that park, there were a lot of cars in the lot watching kids play a soccer game.  By the end of the run, just over half an hour later, all but two of them were gone.  They left while I was stretching.

The run was solid and I'm happy that my foot didn't give me problems.  I'm hoping things will stay that way.  If not, I'll back off if I need to.  For now, I'm good. 

Tomorrow will be the regular group run with the LVRR.  It sure would be nice if I didn't have to run it along again.  I wasn't going to wear a headlamp, but after tonight's run, I might have to reconsider.  It is getting quite dark by 6:30 PM now.

4 miles - 35:03 (8:46 pace)

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Killing It on My Final Tempo Run

It's been either easy running or no running for me over the last 4 days, but now it was time to go back to work.  I considered running yesterday, but took the day off after having my calf cramp up in the morning.  I knew it would be sore all day.  Instead, I went on about a mile or so hike each way up Mt. Tammany at the Delaware Water Gap. 

I was fine after the half marathon on Sunday, but this made for a nice recovery day.  It was challenging, with a lot of climbing (about 1200 feet of it) and rocks.  With all of the leaves changing colors, the view of Mt. Minsi on the other side of the river was spectacular.

I rested two days before the half marathon and then ran that at an easy pace and had another day off after the half marathon.  I'm 12 days out from my goal half marathon, the D&L Half Marathon on November 4th.  I figured that today would be the last day to get some hard running in.  I will be running semi hard with Flo for 12 miles on Saturday, but I won't be pushing it quite like I was today.

I've been doing a lot of mile repeats lately.  Those are certainly challenging, but at least I get some recovery breaks.  I was thinking that I really haven't incorporated tempo runs into my training very much.  I ran a lot of the 10K the other week alone, so it kind of became a tempo run.  I've done another tempo run here or there earlier in the summer, but that was about the extent of it.

I was going to run in the morning, but it was raining.  I love running in the rain, but I didn't want to try to do a key workout in those conditions.  If it rains on race day, I'll just have to readjust my goals.  For now, I wanted to try to run 5 or 6 miles straight near my goal pace of 7:00 per mile.  Hitting mile repeats at that pace was tough enough, so I knew stringing together mile after mile at that pace could be tricky.

It was still cloudy when I started out in the early afternoon.  Since my race is on the D&L Trail, I decided that I had to do this run on the course.  I've actually done most of my speedwork on the course.  The only thing is that I've done it on the early part of the course, not the final few miles.  That's not too big of a deal though.  I started off at the Cementon Trailhead and ran north.

I just bought a LVRR singlet over the weekend at the half marathon expo.  I'm excited because I want to represent the club in a race.  I've been waiting quite awhile for the singlets to be available.  I will wear it at the D&L Half Marathon, but wanted to test it out today first.  It worked great and passed the test with flying colors on this comfortable day.  Come race day, I might need to add arm sleeves into the mix.  We have LVRR ones of those too, but I didn't purchase any of them.

The extra rest lately has been huge for my aching quads.  I've felt so good the last few days.  Usually I can tell how well I'll do in hard workouts just based on how I feel during the warmup.  Although there was still some slight stiffness, I felt much more fluid early on than I have lately.  I wasn't going hard, but I was feeling fast and light for a change.  The warmup mile came in at 8:09.  I didn't push much until the end of it.

After warming up, it was on to the tough part of the run.  I was hoping that I could hit all my miles under 7 minute pace, but the big thing was to just run 5 or 6 miles hard.  Even if that meant they were only 7:10 or 7:15 miles, so be it.  This workout would give me a fairly good idea of what I can do in the race.

The first mile wasn't hard, but a little uncomfortable.  I got into a groove and cruised along.  I wish it would've been a little easier, but I was right around a 7 minute pace and didn't want to back off.  I felt good after that mile, but it was hard to believe that I still had 4 or 5 miles to go at or near that pace.  Hard mile 1 was run at a 6:57.

Things didn't get any easier in the second mile.  I tried not to think about how difficult it would be to sustain the pace for the duration of the run.  Instead, I just focused on getting through the next mile.  That wasn't easy in this mile, but I did it.  The mile got faster by the end and finished up at 6:51.

My legs were certainly feeling it at this point.  I kind of felt like this was a little fast.  Ideally a 7:05 pace would've probably been a little better.  I might've had more left for the end.  Regardless, I kept on pushing.  It's hard to slow by just that little bit. 

I planned on turning around after the third mile, so I knew I just had to focus on getting to that point.  It is more uphill going out than it is going back.  It might not get any easier on the way back, but I could run with slightly less effort and still hit my time goals.  My GPS was definitely a little off in the first tenth of this mile.  It said I was going at a 5:30 pace.  That certainly wasn't happening.  In the end, I think this mile was pretty accurate.  I came through that third mile at 6:56. 

These first three hard miles were right on target with my 5K pace for the race in early September.  That's definitely fairly impressive.  They did take a lot out of me.  The end of the third mile had a little more uphill that earlier on.  That was tough.

Turning around was a huge relief.  It was still crazy to think I had 2 or 3 more hard miles to go though.  I tried to sort of relax just a little and recover some on this mile.  Early on, it was around 7:30 pace, but for most of the mile, it dropped to around 7:10-7:15 pace.  I pushed more and more towards the end, but wasn't willing to kill myself to get that mile under 7 minutes.  I finished at 7:09 and that was good enough.

That mile and my final mile was what impressed me most.  Too often in these speedwork sessions, I've got to what I felt was my limit and just backed off.  If I hit a mile repeat that was around 7:10, I'd often just quit.  I don't push through enough whenever I don't hit my goals.  I knew I didn't have much left, but I kept battling through it.

The fifth hard mile was my final one at a fast pace.  I just kept telling myself to really give it my all and get through this mile.  Now wasn't the time to quit.  I was slipping, but I wasn't falling off that much.  I only had a few minutes of hard running left, so what was the big deal?  I need to be mentally tougher and today I definitely was.  I knew that if I tried for a sixth hard mile that I probably would fall off, but I just had to get through this fifth one.

The pep talk to myself worked.  I'm sure I had some help from the downhill slope of the trail too.  Regardless, I kept battling and battling.  I was happy to be almost done when I hit the slight uphill.  I was able to relax a little at the end and still hit my goal pace with a 6:53.  I guess the recovery I gave myself on the previous mile helped too.

One thing that is tough is that there isn't much time to relax in tempo runs.  Often times when I run mile repeats, I can back off a bit in the final tenth of the mile or so.  I do that if I am under goal pace.  I couldn't do that on a tempo run because then I'd start off the next mile too slow.  I had to be fairly consistent.  Overall, I felt that I was.

I was 2 miles out when the hard running was over.  I wanted to do a mile cooldown.  I decided that a mile was good enough and another mile of walking would be a fine way to finish up.  That worked well and I didn't feel all that sore when I got back to my car.  The only issue I encountered was some soreness on my foot during the cooldown mile.  I had to readjust how I planted my foot.  It is at the bone below the big toe.  I'll have to watch for that and be cautious.  I don't want it to turn into something big.  I may need to consider racing in my regular shoes rather than the minimalist shoes that I was wearing today.

I might not have got every hard mile under 7 minutes, but overall I was under my goal pace.  It would've been great to get another mile in under 7 minutes, but 5 miles will do.  It was a good workout and a good bounce back after some tough speed sessions lately.

Running on my own, I think this workout is a fairly good indication of where I am at for the race.  I would've liked if I could've hit these times with a little more ease.  It is what it is though.  I'd love to break a 7:00 pace for the race, but my PR pace of 7:06 is likely more realistic.  I will shoot for 7:00 and then if I don't get it, I should still be able to PR.

At least I now know that I can push through a tough 5 miles.  As long as I save something, I should be able to finish strong in the final 5K to 5 miles.  The key will be getting to that point without overtaxing myself.  I just need some decent competition to pull me through those early miles.  If I can hit those near goal pace and not beat myself up, I should achieve my goals.  This is a small race and I don't know what to expect on race day.  Either way, the fact that I can consider a PR after just 6 months back into training is impressive.

Tomorrow, I will start doing mostly easy running.  I have no idea where I'll go.  It will be 5 or 6 miles somewhere.  I have to run in the morning since the District XI cross country meet is in the afternoon.  I'm feeling good heading into the home stretch before my half marathon.  I can't wait for it to get here.  I'm so ready to see what I can do.

7 miles - 51:26 (7:21 pace)

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Pacing the Runner's World Half Marathon

It has been an outstanding weekend, capped off by pacing the inaugural Runner's World Half Marathon in Bethlehem.  This was a busy weekend for sure.  I started off by working the expo booth on Friday.  I got to meet some of the other pacers as well as just a few other folks.  On Saturday, I didn't get to race the 10K like I had planned, since I had a funeral to attend.

Saturday night continued the entertainment.  I was back from the funeral in time for the pasta dinner.  I got there earlier than some of the other pacers, so I just sat with a random group of people.  Kelley's dad actually ended up sitting at my table.  He had forgotten that I met him the day before.  I talked with a bunch of the other people at the table as well as him.  One of them was local, but another was from New Hampshire and yet another was from Florida.  That was kind of the theme of the weekend.  With all the races going on and the speakers that Runner's World had setup, they truly made this an event.

I sat with the pacers a little bit at the dinner too.  We discussed some strategy and other things.  We killed time until seeing Matt Long speak.  He survived getting run over by a bus.  He came back and ran a marathon and completed an Ironman.  Even though my post surgery wasn't anywhere near what he went through.  I can certainly relate to him in a lot of areas of recovery.  The hospital stay was tough and I was depressed for months.

Sunday was the feature race.  The Runner's World Half Marathon.  I chose to run the D&L Half Marathon in a couple weeks as my goal race because it is flatter and cheaper.  Thankfully, my friend Laurie told me that more pacers were needed for this race.  I signed up to pace the 2:10 group.  I knew that would be fun and also a challenge.

I'm shooting for running around a 1:30 half marathon in two weeks.  My training runs are fairly comfortable and I usually run about 1:45 in those for the half marathon distance.  This was definitely a slower distance that I'm used to.  We had two pacers, so that was a huge help.

Ingrid, who I didn't meet until this weekend, was the other pacer.  She is experienced in doing this, so I followed her lead.  Going between the parking area, bathrooms and start line was somewhat of a pain before the race, but I managed.  We had to meet early to get a photo of all the pacers together at the starting line.  Olympic Marathoner Shalane Flanagan was there all weekend to meet people and sign autographs.  She decided to run the race as a training run.  Some training run, as she was still the 2nd place female.  Since she was running, she got into the photo with the pacers.  That was cool.

Ingrid and I then lined up near our starting position.  They didn't have corral starts, but they still made signs showing the goal paces.  Kelley and her dad happened to be starting near me.  It was good to see them.  They made matching shirts to run together with.  Her dad hasn't run more than 5Ks lately, so it was impressive to see him running with her.  I ended up answering a lot of questions about pacing at the start.  Mainly, people wanted to know if we were running through the water stations or not.  We weren't ever planning on stopping, just slowing a bit maybe.

The weather and wind made dressing a little tricky.  I knew that the arm sleeves would be a bit much when running, but I felt that they would be needed while standing around.  Maybe I should've worn a junk sweatshirt to throw away.

We started off on time.  Since we were so far back, we didn't cross the starting line until over a minute after the clock started.  This was actually a perfect sized race.  It was big, the biggest in Lehigh Valley, but not as crazy as an overcrowded big city race.  As a pacer, I was kind of concerned that it might get crowded around us in the beginning, but it wasn't too bad.

The start is downhill in front of Bethlehem Steel.  With the excitement of the race, we went out a little fast.  It was fine to begin quick since we had a hill up ahead and a lot of hills in general.  I came in the first mile at 9:45.  Our goal pace was 9:55.  That was pretty good.

The first hill when up through Lehigh's campus.  Like most of the hills on this course, it was short and wasn't too steep.  One guy told us he ran the Big Sur Marathon, so this was nothing.  This course is meant to be a scenic race through a historic medium sized city, not a PR course.

After going uphill, it was back downhill and then more turning.  That's how most of the course was.  A lot of winding around and short climbs and drops.  We crossed over the Fahy Bridge and had a wonderfully cool breeze.  We settled into a nice and consistent pace.  Since I'm inexperienced, I was a little worried that we might be going too fast.  A few seconds too fast and it is just too much for some people, especially with the hills.  I let Ingrid lead the way.  As always, I was checking my watch way too much.

After crossing the Fahy Bridge, it was on to the cool section of the course.  This takes you through the historic area and then the quaint shops of Main Street.  The first water stop was around here.  We went through it and Ingrid took water, but I didn't.  I only drank once on the course.  I can run a half without anything to drink.  I will refuel a little more in my goal race.

Main Street isn't steep, but it a gradual hill.  After going up it and then turning, we dropped back down again.  For a short stretch here, it is kind of industrial.  At this point, Ingrid asked who around us had traveled for this race.  Just within our little group, we had two people from Texas, one from Florida and I think others from North Carolina and Minnesota.  They said that people had traveled into town for this race, but I figured it would just be a person here or there.  I really didn't think this many people would come from out of town.  I guess that's the power of  Runner's World.  Every other race around here is much, much more local.  This looks like it will be a nice little destination race for years to come.

Ingrid asked a lot of different questions to the folks with us.  She was cheering at time, giving instructions and often encouraging the runners around us.  I was a little more quiet, just chatting with some of the people as well as Ingrid.  I had to watch and make sure I didn't get too talkative though or I might've lost focus on the pace.  I need to say more to the group if I pace future races.

After the industrial section, we climbed up to Schoenersville Road.  This was the toughest section of the course without question.  The first hill of this part was steep, but short.  The main part of Schoenersville wasn't steep, but it was a gradual uphill.  It was quite long.  I felt bad because I told people that none of the hills were too steep or too long.  This one was definitely long and some people started dropping.

We turned onto Illick's Mill Road.  There was a slight break at this point.  This was the only time I took anything to drink.  I tried drinking some Gatorade.  I didn't drink too much.  I didn't need a lot though.  With this easy pace, I was feeling alright.  I was sweating, so I needed some fluids.  I wasn't breathing hard at all or really working.  I was just cruising along.

Our pace was quite solid at this point.  We were clicking off pretty consistent laps.  They were somewhere in the neighborhood of 9:45.  We were probably about 45 seconds or so ahead of pace.  We had a decent amount of people with us, but it wasn't crowded.  Other pacers said that mile 4 wasn't placed right on the course, but I didn't notice.  Now that I see that that pace was 10:00,  that is probably right.  Part of it was definitely the hills though.  We did slow the pace through that section.

I wanted my dad to come and take a couple pictures of me.  He said he wasn't going to go to watch me pace.  I had told him that he could get to this area north of town quite easy.  I was just about to tell the group how he wasn't coming, then he appeared along Illick's Mill Road with a camera.  I didn't notice the crowd too much, so I'm surprised I saw him.  Since I didn't think he was coming, I had my camera.  He had to use his crappy one.  I saw him and my mom by Bethlehem Catholic High School and then I saw him again at Moravian College.  It was good to see them there, even if it wasn't a serious race.

The hill up Illick's Mill was certainly tough.  More people dropped off here.  After that, we went through a nice little neighborhood.  There were a few people out in their yards cheering us on.  That was cool.  The road was narrow at one section and some people began walking or slowing at that point.  It was tough to get by them.

As we headed out of the neighborhood towards Center Street, we could see the runners behind us.  This is a rare spot where you see other runners besides the ones directly behind or ahead of you.  April yelled to me as she was in the other section.  I waved back to her.  She just set a 5K PR and was cruising around the half marathon.

On Center Street was one of the best spectators that I saw all day.  This little girl that could barely say much had a sign that said, "Go Runners Go" and she kept yelling the same thing.  It was cute.  I joked that those were her first words.  It was impressive how solid the crowd was for this event.

In this area, my pacer band on my wrist began to tear.  It was just a piece of paper.  I probably should've taped it all around to make it stronger.  It was a little tough to read.  What I could salvage of it, I taped to my pacer sign.  Ingrid is a veteran and she did that all day.

Dewberry Street, in front of Beca, was a gradual uphill.  This was actually the only tough section for me.  Most of the race had a lot of shade, either from buildings or trees, or it had wind.  This section had neither and suddenly I was getting hot.  I thought maybe I would struggle for the rest of the run.  I felt much better after this stretch though.

After going through another neighborhood, it was on to Washington Avenue.  That was an awesome gradual downhill.  It is near the great downhill part of the Freedom to Liberty run that I did so well in back in June.

Somewhere towards the end, my IT band bothered me slightly.  I was a little worried because when that happens, I feel better if I run faster.  I didn't have that option today though.  Thankfully, it went away.  I felt pretty good all run.  I found that I was running up on my toes a lot at this slow point, so I tried to mix up my form a little throughout the run.  I didn't want to stress anything too much.

We turned down Main Street and through Moravian College.  Their field hockey team had to wait for us to cross the street.  I asked them if they wanted to run with us before practice.  Then I saw that they had a bus, so I guess is was an away game.  If they had to travel, then not running the race was acceptable in my book.

The course then turns onto Fairview.  I thought this was the tough uphill near the end, but it was actually on New Street.  That hill was hard and spit out a lot of the runners.  Still no big deal at my pace, but it would've been hard if I was pushing it.  After this, it was nice as it was basically all downhill.

We ended up catching a lot of folks who were struggling as we turned onto Market Street.  Some said they were wondering where we were.  Other people were doing well and cruised well ahead of us once we started going downhill.  Coming down from Church Street to the Fahy Bridge, a lot of people went by us.  That was good to see.  We tried to made sure to keep going slowly.

On the Fahy Bridge, Joe ran by us.  Apparently he knows both Ingrid and I.  It was good to see him cruise on by.  Ingrid had to tie her shoe on the bridge and then catch back up to me.  I told her that if it was that late in the race, I would've just run without it tied.

We had slowed our pace slightly, but were still around 40 seconds or ahead of pace.  We were supposed to come in under 30 seconds under goal pace, so that was perfect.  Going around the Bethlehem Steel complex to finish was all flat.

We kept going and going and at one point, I asked Ingrid if we got to the Mile 12 marker yet.  She said she didn't see it either.  We should've been at it by that point.  Throughout the run, my watch was very, very close to the actual race distance at the mile markers.  At most, it was around .05 miles off.  Now, I was well beyond that.  Finally, we hit the mile 12 marker.  My watch said, 12.20 miles.

Up until this point, we were almost perfect on our pace plan.  With this screw up, we started to get worried.  If we had another mile to go, it would've been very close to goal pace.  Shortly after the 12 mile marker, my watch was at 2 hours flat.  We would only have seconds to spare at best if the last mile or so was accurate.

Because we were worried, Ingrid and I picked it up.  There isn't a more important mile marker than mile 12 for us pacers.  We needed that one to be accurate and it wasn't.  I tried to stay on the outside, so that runners could pass us if they were feeling good in this final mile.

We went around the Sands and had about 5 minutes to go.  I knew we were doing okay at that point.  We went between a couple of the old buildings and were on the final stretch.  The run finished up just after the flaming arch at the SteelStacks complex.  Race Director, Bart Yasso of Runner's World, was there at the finish announcing.  The finish area was crowded with spectators.  It was so loud there when combined with the buildings.  That might be the loudest finish I've ever gone through.  That would've been a huge lift it was running hard at the end and not cruising.

It felt weird to not sprint finish.  Ingrid and I crossed the line together.  Officially, our time was 2:09:22.  We couldn't get much closer to our goal that than.  Having an experienced pacer like Ingrid was a huge help.  I wouldn't have been that close on my own.  It was good to bounce our times of our watches off of each other.  Since we started a minute late, our clock time was off by about a minute from our chip time.  Chip time is what we were shooting for though.

The finishing area was so crowded that it was hard to find anyone.  I ran into the pace leader, Chris and a bunch of the other pacers.  We talked about that one mile at the end being too long.  I saw Kelley and her dad.  They finished behind me, but did well.  I'm so jealous that she gets to run with her dad.  I saw Gary from the BCR and he achieved his time goal.  Joe, who we saw at the end of the race, was right around what he expected.  It was a long way back to the car, so I started running.  Then I passed Tom and Sarah from the BCR.  Tom has been racing like crazy lately, but with Sarah's help, he ran a new half marathon PR.  He came in at 1:38 something.  He never broke 1:40 before.  I also ran into Lauren, who coaches the Nazareth cross country team.  I'm glad to see that everyone did so well.

This race was a lot of fun.  Sometimes it is nice to slow down.  I wasn't sore at all afterward.  Now, I'm just a little stiff.   It is nothing too bad.  I took a rare two complete days off before the race and that was big help to my quads.  They really weren't sore at all at the beginning of the race.  If I have to take off some more time to rest them before my real half, at least I know it is helpful.

All around this was a great weekend and a great race.  This is already the premier running event in the Lehigh Valley and I assume it will only get bigger.  I was so grateful to be a pacer.  I got to run a couple races for free and mostly importantly interact with fellow like minded crazy runners.  Seeing the seminars, getting a free meal and a free Garmin watch were all a nice bonus.  If it fits into my schedule, I will definitely pace again.  It is nice to just enjoy the run every now and then and not be so competitive.  I finished in 1863rd place overall and don't think I ever had more fun.  Of course, I'm still going to run serious, but this was a nice change up.

I didn't think about it during the race, but this race was special to me for another reason.  My grandfather came over to this country from Europe and worked many long and hard hours at Bethlehem Steel to help build this country.  I have a lot of respect for those guys back in that day.  It is assume what the steel became, but at least they've made good use of the area now.

The leaves are changing around here and are a multitude of different colors in the Poconos.  My dad is taking off tomorrow, so I want to hike up at the Delaware Water Gap.  There is an awesome view if you hike the New Jersey side and with all the different colors now, it will be spectacular.  That's another one of the great perks about living around here.  I may or may not run up there, depending on how I feel.  If I run, it will likely be just 3 or 4 easy miles on the McDade Trail.  I look forward to a great final two more weeks before my goal race.

13.21 miles - 2:09:23 (9:48 pace)

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Alone on the Group Run

I can definitely tell we are getting closer and closer to winter.  Our Thursday night LVRR Group Runs have never been strong, but they keep getting weaker and weaker.  Last week, it was just the two group run leaders, Akshay and I, plus Tim who leads the Sunday runs.  Today, it was only me.

I waited and waited and waited, but no one else showed up.  A woman pulled up and ran alone.  A group of three guys got out of the car and ran together.  Our group runs were light last year, but I don't think I ever had to run alone.  I know it was just Akshay and I one time.  I'm used to running alone, but it was depressing doing so on a day when I planned to have company.

It's still light out when the run starts, but it is getting dark quickly.  It is a shame that no one came out because the weather was beautiful.  The colorful tree leaves provided a nice background while it was still light.

Before I started out, I saw my friend Tim (not the same one as above).  He was running with someone else.  I should've told him to loop around and that I would join him if no one else showed.  I'm not feeling so strong and he's pretty fast, so that probably wouldn't have been a great idea anyway.  I certainly didn't want to go hard today.

I was actually looking forward to the run.  I was hoping at least one of the slower people that usual comes would show up.  I wanted some pacing practice for my upcoming half marathon. 

I decided that rather than run my normal pace, I would attempt running at the pace for the half on Sunday.  Usually I run about an 8:22 pace.  For the half, I'll need to run a 9:55.  I have run even slower in the past on these group runs, but it still takes some getting used to.  In those runs, like the race, I'll have others around me going slow.

My legs feel awful as I started out.  It was like I was barely moving.  At one point around half a mile, I saw that my pace was around 11:00.  I couldn't believe I could even run that slow at all.  Once my legs warmed up, I ended up going a little faster.  In this early stretch, I saw a kid running alone.  I've never seen someone that young by themselves before.  He couldn't have been over 12 years old.

Whenever I would start to speed up a little, I would tell myself it is time to slow down.  Staying consistent over the hills was a bit tough.  I love plowing up hills, so it was very hard for me to go up them slowly.  I managed to though.  My first mile came in at 10:08.  Not too bad of a start.

The second mile was very flat and I went way too fast.  It felt quite easy, but it was still 9:32.  By the end of those two miles, I was close to goal pace with a 9:48 overall.

Although I looked at my watch a lot to check my pace, I didn't find it as boring as I usually do.  I was so focused on nailing my marks.  That really kept my concentration.

Getting up the long hill near the Fish Hatchery was tricky.  I tried to go up it easy.  I was fairly successful.  Usually when I've gone up it slowly, I've struggled.  Maybe that was just due to the heat of the summer, because today wasn't difficult.

I came down the hill nice and easy too.  I passed a lady would was running with two dogs.  After the hill, it is flat and I sputtered along.  When I've run over a 10:00 pace in the past, it almost felt like I was walking.  Today, it was very slow, but at least kind of felt like a jog.  I came through this 3rd mile at a 9:47 pace.  That was nice a solid.

I bumped into Tim coming this way and he told me that another friend, Aaron had some health issues.  Good to hear he is back running though.  He's come to the group runs in the past and really pulled me along.

Again, the hills messed with me on mile 4.  They slowed me up just enough that I was at a 10:00 mile again.  Overall though, my pace was close to target at this point.  It was getting tricky at this point because it was almost pitch black.  I couldn't see my watch without lighting it up.

The last mile is flat and again I was too fast early on.  I kept having to tell myself to back it down.  It worked this time, as I came through at 9:47.  Overall, my pace ending up being 9:51.  That's very close to my target of 9:55.

Maintaining pace with the hills thrown in was a little challenging.  I'll probably need to run this way during the race anyway, to account for people who normally run like this.  The other big challenge of the run will be the curves.  Not running tangents always causes me to run additional distance.  Running a 9:51 pace by my watch's standards might be right around a 9:55 actual race pace.  It's something to really keep in mind.  I have to pay attention to the mile markers on the course, not just my watch.

I'm surprised that my quads were still sore even after this easy outing.  I guess they really need some full rest.  I'm just going to give them the next two days off before the race.  Maybe that will help.  I know I pushed them too far, so I can't complain too much.  It would just be nice if they would come back around for my half marathon in the beginning of November.  Although I can still run fast because they don't bother me much while running, I'd like to think I could be a lot faster if they would start feeling better.

5 miles - 49:16 (9:51 pace)

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Perfect Fall Day

I got up this morning and felt a bit sore.  I decided that it might be better to rest and wait until the afternoon to get my run in.  First, I was off to another high school cross country meet.  That was a good warmup. 

Even though I can't get myself up early, I do like to get my runs out of the way.  By the afternoon, I was dreading my run.  I'm used to it being done before lunch.

I decided on Jacobsburg in part because I hoped to reduce the pounding on my sore quads.  I also haven't been on a trail in awhile.  With the leaves changing, I thought the scenery would be a nice added bonus.

Originally, I was thinking of looping through the field west of the main lot.  Then I figured that it would be pointless to be away from the trees when they are changing colors.  As I got there, I saw that the part of the trail I would've come back on is now gone.  They are building a new center there.  I didn't want to mess around with trying to get back with that loop, so I opted to go the other direction.

I started off and felt awful.  My quads just aren't recovering and feel very stiff until I get them warmed up.  There isn't ever any actual pain, it is always just stiffness.  I was going slightly uphill and felt like I was moving like a snail.  There are a lot of trees in this section and I thought it would be great.  Most of the leaves were already gone though, so there wasn't much to see.

I was less than half a mile in and I was seriously considering quitting already.  With the sore quads, I was pondering what this run would accomplish.  Rest was probably a better option.  I wouldn't have quit right there, but I would've gone only 2 or 3 miles at the most if I made the decision to stop.

I figured that I had to at least get to 1.5 miles before heading back.  I kept going.  Of course, I started feeling better.  Some of the climbing was a little tough, but overall I began feeling okay.  I was running comfortably.

The trickiest thing in the earliest part was avoiding the leaf covered rocks.  I had to really concentrate to make it through this part.  I only stumbled maybe once or twice at the most.  It wasn't the rocks that I could see that I was so worried about.  It was more the rocks that were hidden under the leaves.  Thankfully, they didn't cause me too many problems.  The sunlight was going in between the trees too and also making it tough to see.

This run was so peaceful at this point.  It was until well after a mile that I saw another soul.  A couple of mountain bikers came by going the other direction.  I love that solitude sometimes.

The sections in between all of the road crossings were tough.  They were super muddy as usual.  For some reason, I wore a white pair of socks.  I avoided most of the mud, but couldn't miss it all.  What made things very tough was the long, gradual uphill.  For some reason, my right arch bothers me a lot now when I run in my trail shoes.  I'm not sure if the minimalist shoes have changed my foot or what.  It gets quite sore.

It isn't painful and I can tolerate it.  I just had to keep moving forward.  I knew it wouldn't be long until I was heading downhill. 

There were so many leaves down, that I actually missed a turn at one point.  It didn't even look like there was a trail there.  I know my way around Jacobsburg very well, especially the route I was taking.  It didn't take long until I turned around and was back on track.

The back section near the horse trailer area was exactly what I was looking for in this route.  Finally, I was running through an area of beautifully colored leaves.  There were some trees right along the trail with wonderful yellow bursts of color.  They were low to the ground too, so it felt like running next to a wall.  It was so relaxing.

Coming back to the long path was even better.  I think this part might be an old railroad bed.  It is a wide path.  With the yellow leaves overhead, this part felt like running through a tunnel.  It was so magical.  Even though this section is fairly long, it seemed much shorter today.  I'm glad there are few rocks in this part, because I might have tripped on them while I was looking all around.

A lot people were walking in this area and I even saw a couple runners.  One was a pretty big woman.  I give her a lot of credit for being out there.  Even though I like running along, I didn't mind sharing this beauty with them.

I usually come back on the road and then hop back onto another trail to finish up.  That was the trail that was now gone with the construction.  There might be a detour, but I wasn't going to find out today.  I just continued on the road.  I felt like I was running easy the whole time, but my miles were very fast as I finished up the run.  I hit mile 4 and saw that it was 8:05.  I couldn't believe it.  The final mile, which was largely on the road, was 8:04.

I didn't realize there was a small hill on the road.  That wasn't too bad, but I was glad when it was over.  When I got back to the parking lot and then over the bridge near the bathroom, I still had about a third of a mile to go.  I figured I'd go out and back on the wide trail just a bit.  This is nice and flat.  It is scenic along the creek, but it was nothing like the section with all the leaves.  I finished up and made sure to go back and take some pictures.

It was a very enjoyable run today.  It is amazing how different the same trail can look at different times of the year.  I've only been able to run in the spring and summer at Jacobsburg.  I have yet to experience the fall or winter.  I look forward to a few snow runs too.  I liked the run so much, that I only looked at my watch about half as often as I normally do.

I'm hoping that over some time, maybe the sore quads won't be as bad.  I'm not sure if they'll get better with less mileage.  It may require full rest days.  Tomorrow, I'll run with the LVRR Group Run.  I'll have to see how the quads feel then.  If they are bothering me on Friday, I might take the day off entirely.  I'm going to a funeral on Saturday instead of running the 10K race.  I might not run at all that day either.

5 miles - 45:11 (9:02 pace)

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Pulled Along by Mertz

I wasn't sure exactly what I wanted to do today.  I was actually leaning towards a trail run at Jacobsburg.  At some point, either today or tomorrow, I wanted to run hard.  My plans were cemented when I got a message last night from Mertz on facebook asking me if I wanted to run with him in the AM.

I wanted to get done in the morning because the LVC Cross Country Championships were at 1 PM.  We agreed to meet up at 8:30 AM on the Plainfield Recreational Trail.  My plan was to run 7 miles and his plan was to get 5 done.  He ran the Chicago Marathon under 2:50 a week ago and ran for the first time again on Monday.

This was perfect for me for several reasons.  First, my weekday solo runs are getting to be kind of repetitive and stale.  It isn't to the point where I dread them yet, but I'm not enjoying them as much as I once did.  Plus, with Mertz there, I knew the pace would at least be somewhat fast for me.  It was an easy day for him.

He told me he overslept and almost didn't make it.  When we started out, it wasn't cold, but it sure was windy.  I'm don't know what bothered my legs so much, but they were quite sore and dead at the beginning of the run.  Maybe it was being in minimal shoes yesterday.  I was back to my normal shoes today.  As usual, my legs got better once I warmed up.  The first mile wasn't easy though.

We ran along at what was a brisk pace for me.  It was still slow enough that I could chat though.  I was definitely breathing a bit hard.  We discussed marathons, other races and the upcoming cross country meets among other things.  Most of the way out, it was into the headwind.  That didn't make it easy, but the miles were quite fast.

We were out to 2.5 miles before I knew it.  I'm not a huge fan of this trail, partly because it is paved, but it sure does fly by when you are running with someone.  I still checked my watch fairly frequently.

On the way back, we lost the wind and were really starting to cruise.  Miles 3, 4, and 5 were between a 7:10-7:13 pace.  That's not quite tempo pace for me, but it is close.  I was definitely feeling it toward the end.

One thing that was annoying was the sun.  It kept going in and out among the trees.  Another problem I had was my new compression sleeves.  This is only the second time that I've worn them.  They fall right down my calves.  That is quite annoying and they won't get much more use from this point on.

Getting to the last mile before the parking lot was tough, but a little after the 4 mile mark, it seemed much easier.  I think that finish is downhill.  I tripped on something as I was wiping my face.  Luckily, I didn't twist an ankle. 

I went to 5 miles and Mertz left.  I continued on back out.  It was one more mile out and one more mile back.  That was brutal because I was no longer going downhill.  My legs were beat and I dropped my pace off dramatically when Mertz left.  That 6th mile slid to 7:49.

I turned around and the final mile was much better and easy.  At one point, a dog without a leash was on the path.  Lucky for me, it obeyed its owner's commands.  That final mile was a solid 7:24.

I couldn't believe how sore my legs were after the run, especially around my kneecaps.  This was a hard run, but not that hard.  I'm trying to back off now.  I may need to back off even more.  I stretched and used the foam roller.  That was some relief.  Running around the cross country meet was good recovery too.  I'm still so beat though.

Tomorrow, I'm not 100% sure, but I think I will go to Jacbosburg.  I haven't been there in awhile or been on a trail at all for some time in fact.  I'll probably do around 6 miles.  Hopefully the softness of the dirt will help my sore knees.  I'm also planning on attending the Colonial League Championship meet in the afternoon.

7 miles - 52:00 (7:26 pace) 

Monday, October 15, 2012

Just Ahead of the Rain

My timing couldn't be much better for this morning's run.  It was just an easy 6 miler.  I went out on the Nor-Bath Trail.  I thought about doing a run farther away, but I just didn't have the energy to drive anywhere.  I didn't get much sleep over the last couple nights.  I slept in today.

I started off at 11:30 in the morning.  It wasn't supposed to begin storming until 12:15, so I figured I could just about get this run in before that.  As I was at my car and ready to run, it began to drizzle.  So much for running with no rain.

I was parked at Bicentennial Park and decided to try running away from the rain, towards the east, first.  I knew that I could get in a total of three miles within the loop without crossing a road.  I figured that I would have to cross a road at some point though.

My legs felt surprisingly great yesterday.  I thought the 18 miler on Saturday would beat them up more.  Today, they weren't as strong.  They didn't feel bad, but there was quite a bit of soreness, even just walking around.

The first few steps were very awful, as usual.  I've been wearing my new shoes a bit too much since I got them last week.  I don't want to wear them out too quickly.  I opted for my minimal shoes today.  That made the run tough on my quads.  I could feel the impacts much more than with my new shoes.

I was hoping to go out to Airport Road and turn around.  I thought it would be 1.5 miles until that point.  It was only 1.25 miles at that point.  I decided to go across Airport Road.  Thankfully, that was easy.  That isn't always the case.

I could've turned around at 1.5 miles, but I just figured that if I got to mile 2, I'd only have 2 miles to run in the other direction.  After a slow first mile over 9 minutes, things picked up into my normal pace. 

I wasn't quite at 2 miles at Jacksonville Road, so I decided to cross that road too.  After that, the path is close to the end.  I passed a couple on this section.  One of them was walking and the woman was running slowly behind him.  I planned to turn around at 2.25 miles.  I wasn't paying attention though and didn't look at my watch until after that.  I just kept going until mile 2.33.  That was nearly the end of the path anyway.  I turned around and continued back the other way.

The rain was starting to come down a bit heavier at this point.  It began messing with my watch.  I was stuck in satellite mode.  Finally, I got everything back to normal and locked the bezel.

I made it through the rest of the road crossings.  I continued to go fairly easy.  The rain slowed again.  I was feeling a bit humid and it wasn't all that cold out, so I took my shirt off.  What a difference in temperatures between today and Saturday.  Then, it was around 32 degrees.  Now, I was running with it in the mid 60s.

I hit mile 4 and kept on cruising along.  I didn't feel bad, but I certainly wasn't strong either.  Finally, I got back to where I started.  That was at mile 4.65.  I didn't think I was going too hard, but the pace for this mile was certainly brisk.  It was down to 8:02.

I was at mile 5.25 when I got to the first road crossing in the other direction.  That wasn't quite far enough to turn around and make it back.  I decided to cross the road and go just a little farther until mile 5.40.

I felt good and cruised on home.  In the final .4 miles or so, I picked the pace up.  It wasn't hard, but faster than I had been going.  It was kind of like the pace that Flo pulled me along with during the beginning of Saturday's long run.

I finished up a little before I started.  My last mile was 7:43.  I was kind of surprised at how sore I felt.  I didn't run too hard.  My knee caps were a little sore and my IT band had given me a couple issues throughout the run.

As I was walking at the end, I saw the couple again.  They were now running together.  I hope they weren't running that entire time, because that was awfully slow.  I would've been almost 1.5 miles ahead of them.  I wasn't exactly moving that fast myself.

It rained quite a bit this afternoon, so I timed things perfectly.  I would've ran in the rain if needed, but it is nicer to miss a storm.  It is actually pouring pretty good now.  That wouldn't have been much fun.

It was good to get this run done.  I'm now working on the easy portion of this half marathon training.  I'm a definitely going to continue to back down.  Tomorrow or Wednesday, I will try some hill repeats.  Not too many, but enough to get a decent workout and some mileage.  I'll be at cross country meets both days, so I have to be cautious.  That will require a lot of running around too.

6 miles - 50:04 (8:21)

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Cold Long Run with Company

What kind of people are crazy enough to get up and begin running at 7:30 in the morning when it is 32 degrees out?  That's right, my BCR friends.  Most of them were at least smart enough to not start their runs until then.  I can't say the same for Flo and I.  We braved the elements and started even earlier, at 6:30.

I was planning my longest run of 18 miles.  I knew Flo did 23 last week, so I figured that this week she'd drop down somewhere around 18 miles.  I thought about asking her when she was going to start on Saturday.  Then I saw the weather forecast.  It said, 32 FREAKING DEGREES at the normal start time.  That was cold enough for me, especially with fact that the weather has been in the 50s, particularly when I run later in the day.

Flo then messaged me and asked me when I was starting.  She was able to convince me to begin an hour earlier at 6:30.  I looked at the temperature at that time and it was only going to be a degree colder than at 7:30 anyway.  It wouldn't hit the 40s until after 10 AM anyway.  My other big concern was how dark it would be.  I wasn't sure because I'm never up that early.

I arrived early and was the only one there.  It was definitely cold, but actually I thought it would feel even colder.  I took no chances with dressing.  Since it was unseasonable, I went with my UA ColdGear top, tights, gloves and a headband to cover my ears.  With these type of temperatures during the winter, I might not be wearing quite so much.

It was dark at the start, but getting light out.  It wasn't dark enough to need a headlamp, which was great since I found out this morning that my battery in it was dead.  Flo arrived a couple minutes late, but it didn't matter since I certainly wasn't going anywhere.  I was huddled in my warm car at Riverview Park until we started the run.

We didn't waste any time out in the cold.  Once our watches were ready to go, we took off.  The first mile was nice and comfortable.  Flo and I chatted for a bit, discussing a lot of the usual stuff.  We talked some about next week's Runner's World Hat Trick.  She's not running it partly because of the price.  That's why I didn't plan on initially running it.

I felt okay as we got to the boat launch.  The path then goes from being paved to a stone/dirt path.  It is pretty uneventful, especially this early in the morning.  The pace did pick up here and the path is narrow, so I tucked in behind Flo.  As we went faster, we talked less.  We decided to turn around at the 3 mile point.  My watch was actually at 3.11 miles when we made the turn.  I was amazed that I didn't look at my watch until almost the 2.5 mile point in the run.

Flo was definitely moving at a good clip.  It wasn't a pace I couldn't handle, but it was certainly a little fast for me to run 18 miles at.  I backed off a bit, but kept Flo a few feet in front of me.  I figured that when we got back, I'd have a nice rest.

One thing that sucked at this point was the weather.  My chest was actually a little cold.  My gloves and headband where making me hot though and producing quite a bit of sweat.  I didn't want to take them off though because I could still feel the cold air coming against me.  At least it wasn't too windy.  That is the worst thing when it comes to winter running.

We saw one of the other BCR women turn around in front of us.  She was wearing orange, so I thought it might be Kim, because she often wears bright colors.  I got confused though because we weren't gaining much ground on her and I know Kim isn't all that fast.  It turns out it was Sarah, so that made more sense.  Even when we passed Sarah, I didn't recognize her with her hat on.

Flo seemed like she slowed a little in the last mile as we passed Sarah.  I caught up and finished on her heels.  Apparently we didn't slow at all though.  In fact, we ran much faster.  It was a blistering 7:16.  It was weird because it seemed easy.

As I was hanging on to Flo, I was already wondering who else there might be to run with when the main group got together.  I knew running Flo's pace too much longer would kill me, especially in the last few miles.

After a quick Gatorade break, we were off and running with the whole group.  Sarah said she was doing 20+ miles and she runs fast enough, so I let Flo take off and I just ran with Sarah.

This was great.  Having someone to talk to makes everything fly by.  The pace was more comfortable for me, so we were able to chat a lot.  I don't see her too often, so that was good to catch up.  We talked about training, my health, work and the Runner's World races among other things.  At one point, I told her how sick in the head I am when it comes to running.  I can do a hard long run and drive home and be jealous of someone that I see running.

As we got a few miles out, my watch started to get messed up.  The bezel is too sensitive and my sweat can make it go crazy.  It went back to the satellite setting.  It showed my next mile when we hit it, so I knew it was still working.  I took it off and then when I got to the correct setting, I made sure to lock the bezel.  It was fine the rest of the run.

Sarah said that she didn't have enough nutrition, so we decided that we would turn around at the 4 mile mark.  That was fine with me.  It would get me to 14 miles when we reached Riverview Park again.  I told her that I haven't even bothered doing anything other than drinking this time during my training.  I didn't even do any drinking at all during my 16 miler.  That was tough.

Sarah tripped as we were near the boat launch.  That was interesting because we were actually just talking about falling on the trail.  At least she didn't take a spill.  She did need to stop briefly though.  I kept going, but slowed down.  I hate completely stopping during a run.

We got back to Riverview and I felt good.  I was worried about running so much on hard pavement during this run.  I think having new shoes were a big help.  I sure broke them in in a big way this week.  The sun was bright as we reached our cars.  In addition to getting some Gatorade, I decided to take off my gloves and headband.  It seemed to be getting warm and I was sweating a lot by now.

Starting back up after stopping briefly is hard, especially this late in the run.  We decided to run in the other direction.  I was intrigued by this because I had never gone that way before.  I had run that area on the other side of the river, but never linked between the two.

That first mile out was tough.  Suddenly we were in the shade and my hands were freezing.  I tried blowing on them and putting them between my tights and shorts.  After about a mile, my hands finally warmed up.  By the way, I haven't run in winter gear since 2009, so I was glad that everything still fit me.

We finally got to a point along the canal path where the sun was shining.  We had the option to run there or go in shade, obviously we took the warmer sun.  Two miles into this segment and we turned around.  This was the longest I had run to this point.  I told Sarah that I would probably be sore from this point on.  That is usually how it works.

Some soreness did creep in, but it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be.  Maybe it was the new shoes or maybe the slower miles.  Whatever the case, the last two miles were bearable.

I'm so weird when it comes to numbers.  With a quarter mile to go, I saw that the overall pace was 8:15.  I didn't want it to drop any lower, so I took off with Sarah's permission.  It was great to then finish up.  I felt bad that she still had 8 miles to do alone.  Those are the toughest miles too.  I told her that I felt surprisingly good and could've run another 2 miles.  I wasn't about to push it though.

The 16 miles alone two weeks ago were awful.  They seemed like they would never end.  This run was awesome on the other hand.  Running with others makes the miles just breeze by.  Although I ran 18 miles and for almost two and a half hours, it didn't seem anywhere close to that long.  I was grateful to have Flo and Sarah to run with today and make things better.

Since I'm only running a half marathon, 18 miles is long enough for my longest training run.  I'm up and over 60 miles this week.  I think this might've actually been my most mileage ever.  Looking back, the highest I see is 57 miles.  I'm not going to do a true taper, but I'll definitely back off over the next three weeks.  My body is beat up and a little extra rest would be a huge plus.  This has been one of my toughest weeks ever, but I'm glad it is over.

I'll be off tomorrow.  I'm going to the Eagles game.  I'm not sure where or how I'll be running on Monday.  I guess some of that depends on how my body feels.  If I'm okay, maybe I'll do a short speedwork session.

18 miles - 2:28:30 (8:15 pace)

Friday, October 12, 2012

Runner's World 10K Preview Run

I needed a six mile easy run today, so I thought that running the Runner's World 10K course would be perfect.  I ran parts of the half marathon course earlier in the week, but I didn't run the portion of it which goes through the south side of Bethlehem.  That is about half of the 10K course.  The 5K, 10K and half marathons take a lot of the same routes around Bethlehem Steel.

I started off by parking at the Steel.  I was surprised at how busy it was at lunchtime on a Friday.  There were a lot of people in SteelStacks when I went to use the restroom.  This weekend they are having a big Oktoberfest festival there and there were tents everywhere.  The festival had not started yet though.  I'm so glad that they are able to put the old steel to good use with a lot of events throughout the year.  One of the parking spaces said, reserved for Dick Yuengling.  That was pretty cool.

I put on my arm sleeves with my shirt sleeve shirt and it was still freezing with the wind.  I knew that that would probably be fine once my body warmed up.  However, I figured that since I was planning on running easy, I'd just go with a light windbreaker jacket instead of the sleeves.  In the end, that was a mistake.

The run begins somewhere in front of the old blast furnace.  That is such a cool structure and a great way to start and finish.  It then heads out west until Webster Street.  I forget sometimes just how big this whole steel complex is.  This part of the run was nice because instead of concrete sidewalks, they were paved.  It was quite cold and windy at this point.

From Webster it was a bit of an uphill to Lehigh's Campus.  The climb wasn't too bad.  All of a sudden it was warm and I had to open my jacket up.  I won't lie; running through a college campus with some eye candy isn't too bad.  Probably would've been better if it was a warmer day though.  The course turns onto Packer and then back down on Broadhead.  That is a nice downhill segment.

Now that I look at the map, I actually went too far before turning right again.  The course actually goes onto 4th Street.  I didn't turn until 3rd Street.  That didn't have any impact on the mileage though.  After that, it was on to New Street and over the Fahy Bridge.  Obviously on raceday we will run across the bridge.  Today, I had to go on the pedestrian walkway.  It was actually a bit tricky to find the walkway entrance.

As I crossed over the bridge, I was just getting too hot.  I knew the Lehigh River would produce some chilly air as I went over the bridge, but I didn't care.  I had to take my jacket off and carry it around the rest of the run.  That was a bit of a pain.  I often switched hands.

After the bridge, I originally thought the course went down towards the Celtic Classic and Musikfest area, but it actually just goes right up the hill across from the bridge.  This was a little tricky with the uneven brick walkway.  I noticed throughout the run that I was running up on my toes a lot, especially on the uphills.  I guess I do that quite often now both on hills and uneven surfaces.  That might be what gets me uphill faster than a lot of people, even when I don't run many hills in training these days.

When I thought about this route now, I got pissed.  It climbs up the hill on the side of the library and then drops right back down to Main Street and then Main Street climbs again.  I hate going uphill, then right back downhill and then right back uphill again.  Such a waste of energy.  Main Street is a cool place to run though.  It wasn't too busy today.  I did have to let a few people know that I was passing them.

This 10K course doesn't have any scary hills, but it sure does have a lot of small climbs.  There is no rest from climbing up Main Street.  You turn right onto Broad Street and climb some more.  This section brought back a lot of memories of going to Musikfest over the years.

After running through town on Broad Street for a bit, the course turns right onto New Street.  Then it makes a left onto Market Street.  This area is a little more open and the roads easier to navigate than directly downtown.  I actually couldn't believe that I was only at the 3 mile mark at this point.  It seemed like I had run a lot more than half the course, but obviously I hadn't.

This part of the course was flat and I cruised along comfortably.  There are some nice houses here, but I didn't check them out much.  I turned right again on Maple Street.  One thing I'm not crazy about is how much this course turns.  The good thing on race day is that at least I'll be able to run on the roads and not have to use the sidewalk.

From this point, a lot of course is downhill.  The course does turn right on Center Street and then left a block later.  I actually went a block too far and headed back onto Market Street.  That is one of the few times that I got this course wrong.  After that, it is back onto New Street.

New Street goes around City Hall and back to the Fahy Bridge.  The off ramp loops around under itself, but since I was on the pedestrian walkway, I couldn't go that way.  That shortened my route a little.  A lady in front of me had a dog that was going crazy with its leash.  I'm glad that she crossed the street before I got there.  I didn't want to have to deal with that at all.

I still couldn't believe how much of the run was left at this point.  It was well over a mile.  Again, I forget how big the Steel Complex is.  Plus the course goes around the back of the Steel to finish up.

There was one more little uphill to go as the road went along the front of the Steel.  It then went down in front of the outlet shops that are next to the casino.  There is an old bridge/walkway up above that you run underneath.  They are considering making this into a pedestrian walkway.  That would be a good use of it.

The race then finishes up under the flaming arch in front of the blast furnace and SteelStacks.  The arch wasn't flaming today, but I'm sure it will be lit on race day.  This a cool area to finish up at.  I just hope it isn't this windy next weekend.  My watch read 6.1 miles after the run.  That's close enough to 6.2 that it will be on race day.  I think running on the sidewalk made things shorter.

This was a nice and easy run.  The weather made it a little tricky, but I survived.  This course won't be too easy, but I'm glad that there will be a lot more competition than last week's 10K.  I think I can handle the hills fairly well and should run strong.  I might be able to set another new PR.  That's what I'll shoot for.

Tomorrow is the conclusion of my 60 mile week.  It is my longest run before my true half marathon in the beginning of November.  I look forward to getting through that 18 miler.  I am going to run it with the BCR.  I am going to end up skipping breakfast though and running after they finish up.  It is supposed to be cold in the morning, right around the freezing mark.  I'm not sure how I'll even dress.  I might bring a couple options of clothing with me.

6.1 miles - 51:31 (8:27 pace)

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Outstanding Group Run

Things have seemed to work out perfectly for me lately with the Thursday night group runs.  The last few weeks, I have done them as a second run of the day.  That was also after a hard run on Wednesday.  Thankfully no one fast showed up on those days and I got to run easy.  I wouldn't have been able to handle much more.

This week, I did my double run yesterday and had almost 24 hours of rest.  I also haven't run hard since Monday.  Although I'm still quite sore, I was in much better condition today than I have been lately.  I was capable of running hard.

At first, it only looked like Akshay and I would be running.  It is a good thing that we usually wait around until about 10 minutes after 6 PM.  Tim rolled in a few minutes after 6.  He's in charge of all the group runs and is the Sunday Group Run Leader.  He also runs quite fast.  In the 5k a month ago, he finished a few spots ahead of me.  Probably no more than 15 seconds.

I was pleased to have someone fast to run with and I knew we would push it a little.  The run started off comfortable.  The three of us chatted about various things, including the group runs.  The first mile felt somewhat easy and it was a solid 8:02.  Akshay stayed just behind Tim and I, but must've fell off at some point.  I'm not sure when that happened.

We ran towards the Fish Hatchery first this time.  That got most of the hills out of the way early.  The big hill came before the second mile was complete.  I hate spending too much time on the hills, so I really pushed to get up it.  Tim dropped back a bit.  I also like to open up and fly downhill too, so I got farther ahead of Tim on the way down.  I cruised by two slower runners.  Even with the climb, the second mile was 8 minutes flat.

This certainly wasn't a race, so I began to slow.  I looked back and couldn't even see Tim.  I continued to slow for awhile.  I thought that maybe he dropped back and ran with Akshay.  If he did that, I would've just taken off.

Eventually Tim caught back up to me.  He told me that he was going to fall back to Akshay, but couldn't find him.  Tim and I continued on running together and chatting.  We didn't talk quite as much since the pace was brisk.

We had some fun running around dogs in this run.  Early on, Tim went to the right side of an unleashed dog and Akshay and I ran along its left side.  It was so confused.  Later on, we passed a small dog that was running ahead of two people who were walking.  I knew that it wouldn't be able to run under 8 minute pace with its little legs, so I wasn't worried that it would follow us.

Tim and I went hard up the short hill by the Robin Hood Bridge.  Then I asked him if he wanted to go farther out on the trail.  I don't usually run that way since the main road has been closed after a retaining wall was found to have structural problems.  We kept going out that way.

We were discussing speedwork.  Tim brought up doing fartleks and I said those are great, except that I run them too hard and don't realize that until I'm done.  A faster pace works the muscles differently, even if it for a shorter period of time.

As we got near the main road, we had to get off the path and run up a grass hill.  This was so tough.  A hill this late was bad enough.  The grass threw everything off even more.  It took some hard work, but we got up it.  We were now in the final mile.

Coming down the hill on the main road was great.  I went ahead of Tim and since I was feeling good, I just took off.  He didn't stay with me.  I figured that I would just run until mile 6 and then get some walking done as a cool down.

It was nearly dark when I pushed it through the last mile.  It felt great to go so fast so late in a hard run.  I finished up at mile 6 and began walking.  I had less than a quarter mile walk back to the car.  Tim passed me and finishing run when he got to his truck.

Although I am very sore now, this was a great run.  I wanted to go a bit hard today and I am grateful that Tim was there to provide a good running partner.  The cool weather was great too.  It was actually so cool that I wore my arm sleeves.  Maybe I didn't need them after the first mile, but they worked well.

Tomorrow it is back to easy running.  I'm going to the old Bethlehem Steel and will run the Runner's World 10k course.  It will be good prep for the race next week.  It will also put me up to 42 miles for the week, with my long run still to go.  I look forward to a good final two days of my toughest week.

6 miles - 46:12 (7:42 pace)

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Double Day with New Shoes

I got my new shoes yesterday.  I was planning on running a speedwork session, so I figured that I wouldn't get to use them.  Then I woke up today and was very sore.  Running yesterday with my old shoes definitely beat me up.  I decided that speedwork was out of the question.  I opted instead for an easy run later on in the day.

I ate some cereal for lunch and went out a little later.  I decided to run on the Nor-Bath Trail with my new shoes.  The shoes are the same brand and style as my old shoes.  They are just a different color.  I wasn't quite sure how far I was going to run.  I hoped for at least 8 miles, maybe 10.

When I left the house, it seemed like good weather.  Then I felt the wind.  It was quite strong.  I still wasn't too worried about the weather since I wasn't doing speedwork.

I decided to park at Bicentennial Park so that I could run an out and back in each direction.  I began by going toward Northampton.  This is the shortest route to a road crossing.  With it being later in the day than I usually run, the road crossings were busier and occasionally I had to stop for cars.

My quads were stiff as usual early on.  That was the only early problem though.  With all the cushioning of my new shoes, my legs felt awesome.  Every step felt so much better than with my old shoes.  The shoes did feel heavier, so I slowed down.  I couldn't believe how slow the first mile was.  I came in at 9:22.  That is fine though because I don't need to run too fast on days like today.

Around 1.25 miles, I came to the path that the race went through on Saturday.  Before that, I had never run through there.  I decided to run on this path.  Before getting onto it, I had to cut in front of a woman who was coming from the other direction.  She followed me onto the path.

This paved path starts downhill.  That is a nice, although it has to come back up.  The beginning of it wasn't bad, but as I got near the tunnel, the wind strengthened.  It was blowing hard in my face.  The Nor-Bath Trail is protected some from the wind, but this path was exposed.

Coming up the hill after turning around was a little tough, but not too bad.  I was back on the trail before long.  At that point, it was mile 2.75.  I decided that I would run another mile out and then come back.  That would allow me to get around 6 miles in this direction and then I could just run 2 miles in the other direction. 

Some of the hills were a little tough as I went through the neighborhood section in Northampton.  I was exposed to the wind here too.  I got to mile 3.75 and decided to run another quarter mile to get to mile 4.  Then I turned around, not far from the edge of the trail.

Coming back wasn't bad.  My legs seemed to come in after 4 miles.  It seems to always take 4 or 5 miles until they come around.  I just watched the miles click off.  At mile 5, I told myself that there was less than a 5k to go.  I often do that.

When I got back to Bicentennial Park, I was at mile 6.6.  I decided that I'd go out and back to get the 8 miles in.  Trying to do 10 miles would've just been too much.  I was starting to feel a little sore at this point.

As I was going out again, I came to some more wind.  I guess this part of the trail wasn't as protected as the other parts.  There were still trees around, so I'm not sure.  I made it to 7.25 miles and turned around.  I had to go back past the entrance to finish up.

I knew that I would have to run double sessions tomorrow to get 10 miles in.  Those Thursday double sessions have been tough, especially when followed by a Friday morning session.  Rather than go this route, I decided to run after dark.  I ran 4 miles in the neighborhood near my house at 8 PM.  I was going on less than 6 hours since my last run.

I thought the first run was windy, but this was even worse.  The temperature was in the low 50s.  It felt good whenever the wind wasn't blowing hard at me.  That was only about half the time.

I went out with my headlamp and yellow shirt.  That was good for alerting cars.  They moved out of my way throughout the run.  Usually when I've run at night through the neighborhoods, I've done so without the any light.  This was much better and much safer.

Other than the wind, the run was peaceful.  I love running at night, especially through neighborhoods.  The early part had a lot of wind, but it was gone most of the way back.

I was disappointed when I looked down at my watch and thought I was past mile 2, but was only just before it.  I guess the course isn't quite as long as I used to think it was.  The good thing was that without light directly on my watch, I didn't look at it too often.

After the long hill in the run, I heard a dog barking.  I was thrilled that I didn't come across any of these during the run.  Dogs are a big reason that I don't run in neighborhoods much any more.  I would assume that they would all be inside this late at night, but who knows.  I was actually surprised that no one was out walking their dog. 

It was great to get back to the school and finish up.  I had to run around the parking lot to get to 4 miles.  I was surprised at how great I felt during this run.  I definitely wasn't as sore as I've been lately.  I didn't have much rest since this afternoon's run either.  Maybe the new shoes were a big help.  I certainly broke them in with 12 miles today.  I would've gone easier with new shoes, but these are the same ones as my old ones.

The shoes worked great and it was good double day.  Now, I can take tomorrow morning off.  I can get nearly 24 hours of rest until the next run.  That is the regular LVRR Group Run tomorrow evening.  I will run 6 miles again.  On Friday, I'm looking to run another 6 miles.  I'm hoping to do that one on the Runner's World 10k course.  Saturday will close out my 60 mile week with an 18 mile run.  This will be my longest run and my highest mileage week before the race.  Although I'm beat up physically, I just have to get through it.  I look forward to a good three final days of running this week.

Afternoon Run 8 miles - 1:08:33 (8:34 pace)
Night Run 4 miles - 33:34 (8:24 pace)