Thursday, January 31, 2013

Incredibly Windy Group Run

This evening was the weekly LVRR Group Run.  For the third time in four weeks, I was kind of hoping no one would show up and I'd run alone on the softer surface of the Saucon Rail Trail.  Instead, someone showed up again.  It was a woman that had never come before.  I can't remember her name.  That was pathetic with it being only one new person.  In my defense, it was a unique name.  I think it started with a C.

We had two nice days in a row, but that didn't last.  Today was brutal.  The wind was was crazy.  Although the numbers didn't indicate that it was as bad as last week, it felt worse.  That was especially true at SteelStacks where the wind really seems to come off of the Lehigh River.  I think the actual temperature was right around freezing with the wind chill making it around 20 dregrees.

I overdressed, but I didn't care.  I wanted to be comfortable as I waited for the run to start.  I not only wore ColdGear and a fleece vest, but I added my jacket on top of that.  I also had tights, gloves and a hat on.  I can't recall ever wearing 3 layers on the top.

The woman said she doesn't run too often and has only run 5Ks.  She did say 4 mile would work for her.  Her pace was around 10:30.  I sort of let her dictate it.  We just ran the usual route to the Hill to Hill Bridge, down Main Street, up Broad Street and then back over the Minsi Trail Bridge.

It was really cold and windy by SteelStacks and over the Hill to Hill Bridge.  We chatted and crusied along.  It was an easy pace for me, but she struggled a little bit.  That was especially the case as we went up hills like the Hill to Hill Bridge.

After crossing the river and getting onto Main Street, the run was great.  The wind was basically completely gone.  I even took off my gloves and switched my hat for a headband.  It made the run so much easier.  I tried to be cautious with all the hills around there.  I knew she was struggling on the them.  Finally when we got caught at a light, I just stopped and let her rest a little.

She got more rest a little later on.  She had to use the bathroom, so she stopped in Wawa.  That worked out great for me.  I told her I would do some more miles so I ran up the Minsi Trail Bridge and then back down the other side to meet her.

I went basically to the top of the bridge.  That was right around the far side of the river.  It was very windy when I got there.  I came back down and met her at the bottom of the bridge and went up it again.  That gave me some hill work and extra mileage.

The rest of the run was windy.  It even got worse and worse.  The headwind was brutal right it front of the Steel Complex.  I even tried running backwards for a bit.  It started to snow too as we ran by the outlets.  Snow would've been pretty if it wasn't blowing right in our faces.  Just when I though it couldn't get worse, we went on the road in between buildings.  It was so cold and hard to see.  Thankfully, we were almost done.  I sprinted ahead to finish up a few seconds earlier.

Conditions like this were some of the toughest that I ever faced.  It was good to have some else to run with.  Hopefully she'll come again and hopefully I'll remember her name next time.  I'm having trouble getting people to come back.  I feel like they enjoy the run, but then they don't go again.  I think part of that is because the group is so small and they are expecting bigger.  I also wonder if part of it is that they know I'm faster and they feel like they are holding me back.  I hope that's not the case because I don't care about the pace.  That's why I signed up to be a run leader in the first place.

Tomorrow will be an off day.  I'm not sure what I'm doing yet on Saturday.  The BCR is running on a paved path, so I think I'm going to skip that for softer surfaces.  I may run alone.  I'm also considering going to the LVRR Group Run on Saturday morning.  It may be tough for me to get to Allentown early enough to join the group.  We shall see.

4.55 miles - 47:17 (10:24 pace)

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Tough Trexler

After three weeks off in December, I wasn't ready to run at Trexler last week.  I wasn't ready to run again today, I probably won't be next week and maybe not next month either.  However, that won't stop me from going there.

The brutal hills are such a great way to get into shape, so I just have to keep going back and back.  I need to conquer them if I want to achieve one of my two main goals for the year (Top 20 finish at Quadzilla).

Yesterday was relatively warm.  Today, was even more amazing.  After still being in the 40s yesterday, it was over 50 degrees today.  The only downfall was that it was very windy and there was some rain.  The worst of the rain actually came right at the end of my run and after it was over.

I got to enjoy a winter run with shorts and a short sleeve shirt.  It wasn't all fun though.  It was still very hard.  I thought that the lack of cold air might help my breathing a lot, but it didn't matter with these hills.  There was also a lot of moisture in the air, so it felt rather humid.

Since I always start going the counterclockwise direction, I decided to change it up today and run clockwise.  It has been a long time since I went that way.  Part of it was that I wanted a different route and another part was that I was pretty sure the start is easier in that direction.  Not that anything at Trexler is ever easy.  It always throws out its best and makes you work.

I was correct.  That direction was definitely easier.  However, I did run into one major problem, which I discovered early on.  That would be mud.  In the other direction, the trail is a mix of dirt and rocks.  The way I was going it was almost all dirt.  With recent rain and snow melt, that made for one muddy mess.  Add to that some of the steepest hills around and you have a very challenging run.

It was amazing that I never fell.  I was slipping and sliding all over the place.  It was worse going downhill, but it wasn't easy uphill, on flats or slight hills either.  My feet could never get any grip.  It was like I was ice skating, my feet were sliding under me so much.  Some of the switchbacks are narrow and steep and it was incredibly difficult not to slip and fall down the hill.

The first part of the run was definitely tough, but it was mostly downhill until the Orchard Road crossing.  After that, was a challenging climb, but luckily it is very brief.  This area is so interesting.  All the tree branches are gone and the grass that is high in the summer time is dead.  It looks almost like a desert or maybe the old west.  You can see a lot more of the trail from far off.  The sight lines here in the winter are much better than summer.  It gives a different perspective.  Although a lot of the vegetation is dead, it is still a beautiful sight.

After the climb, this section does wind in and out.  It is a lot of gentle rolling hills.  It was still muddy and slippery.  I had fun taking pictures with my GoPro Camera throughout the beginning of the run.  The first mile was tough, but it was fast (8:54)

After coming out of that section, it is on to an old dirt road.  There is a lot more rock here and it is flatter.  It was still muddy, but much more runnable than the first section.  Last time I ran in this direction, I never did find where the Border Trail goes into the woods.  I've come out of the woods going the other way, but never into them.  Thankfully they have the trail marked with red triangles.  I didn't miss it this time.

The hill in the woods is always one of the more difficult climbs I encounter when I come the other direction.  With all the mud, it was probably the trickiest part off the whole run.  I was sliding downhill the whole time.  I was as cautious as I could be.  Usually, I'm reckless when I'm descending.  Today, I took it easy and ran downhill carefully, the same way I assume normal people run trails in normal conditions.  I went off of the trail and onto the grass alongside of it and was able to find more grip.  Even so, I was still sliding a lot in the grass.  Towards the bottom of the hill there were a couple sections with rock and that made such a difference on grip.

I got through the downhill section and then crossed the road.  There was a little uphill here.  After being careful on some more downhill, I emerged along one of the roads.  You have to take a bridge over the creek.  I did that and saw that the creek was almost completely frozen.  That would've made it difficult to cross at the other spot if I went that far.  I would've had to take the long way.  I wasn't going there anyway.

I faced a dilemma around this time.  I wanted to run out and back, but with the long steep hill and the other tough hill by the Environmental Center, I knew that I would never make it and I'd just have to walk.  Therefore, I just kept going and hoped that I would make it to the zoo area.

Shortly after the bridge, I had to change plans.  The trail went uphill.  It was challenging my lungs and my feet.  I was sliding everywhere.  I looked down at my watch and decided that since I was right at 2 miles, I would call it a day.  I was very frustrated that I couldn't run farther than last week.  I had quite the walk back to the Environmental Center.

After walking for a few minutes and recovering, I decided that I might as well start running again.  I really should've just kept the watch going while I was walking and kept track of those miles and that time too.  Instead, I just reset the watch and started over.

I started off on a downhill section again.  This was easy, other than the footing.  This place never gives you much downhill though.  Before I knew it, I was headed back uphill.  At one point, it was so muddy that while I was trying to go up the narrow trail, I had no choice but to stick my hand in the mud.  I then spent the next few minutes shaking it off.

I noticed a couple old abandoned cars in this area.  I thought that was odd.  I didn't remember seeing them before.  I struggled and struggled up the hill as my lungs burned.  That is both such a good and awful feeling.  It hurts, but it feels like you are accomplishing something.  I got to a fork in the trail and saw that the border trail went uphill, so I took the yellow trail that was going downhill.  I also noticed that a sign said, "New Border Trail" and was pointing the direction I had come from.  I didn't think that part of the trail was familiar.

I took the yellow trial and went downhill.  This is the one time where I really came close to falling.  Gravity took me down faster than I wanted and there was just no way to slow down.  I just had to pick the best landing spots and go with it.  It was a miracle that I didn't fall.  This part of the trail is the beginning of Quadzilla.  It meets up with a gravel path along the creek.  When I got there, I was able to cruise and rest.

I'm so glad that there is a pedestrian bridge over the creek, because I didn't want to go through the Ford.  It was weird because last time I was in this area, in the summer, there were a lot of kids playing in the creek.  Now, not a soul.  I started on the aqua marked trail back up towards the Environmental Center.  This was narrow and slick, but it did have some rocks for grip.  After a short while, I got to a small water crossing.  I decided I would go back and find another way back to the start point.

I went along the gravel trail next to the creek.  At first I thought it was the Border Trail because it was red, but then I realized it was two red triangles, not one.  I took this out to the road next to the covered bridge.  At this point, I was nearing 2 miles in the segment of the run and 4 miles overall.  I decided to stop at that point and walk back along the road.

I was hoping I could find the trail and use it to get back, but then I realized that it was actually in the opposite direction.  After a walk that must've been over half a mile, I got back to the first road crossing.  I was right near the Environmental Center.  I could've taken the road, instead I went up the trail.  I started running a 3rd segment.

It began raining harder now and the wind was really blowing.  Conditions were difficult.  Making matters worse was that the trail was longer than I thought and not only did it climb, but it dropped back down and then climbed again too.

I knew this last little bit of a hill would be a struggle.  It killed me for sure, but I pushed an pushed and tried to ignore the pain.  When I finally got to what I thought was the top, I saw there was still some more to go.  I just stopped at that point.  I was beat.  This segment was .29 miles, but it was a highly difficult short segment.  I now had a brief walk to finish up. 

When I got to the car, I was thrilled with how much I pushed myself.  I developed some blisters on my feet.  It was definitely hard work, but it was so rewarding.  I love the setting so much that I sat at the Environmental Center in the rain and wind for a few minutes.  I just had to soak it all it.  This place is so different from everywhere else I run.  It's almost like another planet instead of nearby.  It is so inspiring.  I guess this is what people feel like when they run in some of the most beautiful places in the country, like the Grand Canyon, the Rockies or the trails along the ocean on the west coast.  This place needs to be a regular destination for me, even if it is a half hour drive.

Tomorrow I will be running in the evening with the LVRR Group Run.  I think the weather is still supposed to be decent, before it gets cold heading into the weekend.  Hopefully some people will show up and I won't be forced to run alone.  This will be my first time running back to back days since December.  We'll see how it goes.  So far, this cautious, gradual approach has been great for my quads.  Hopefully it will stay that way.

2 miles - 18:16 (9:09 pace)
2 miles - 19:28 (9:44 pace)
.29 miles - 2:46 (9:36 pace)

Monday, January 28, 2013

Another Snow Covered Run

Although I would really like to get a run in while it is actually snowing, I feel fortune to do both of my last two runs on snow covered paths.  Today's run wasn't quite a much fun as Saturday for two reasons.  First, it was solo and not the fun of running with the BCR.  Second, it was actually raining when I ran today.

We had snow this morning.  It was only less than an inch.  By the time I got to running in the afternoon, it was raining and raining pretty good in fact.  I wasn't thrilled when I saw that.  If I was just doing 3 runs a week, like I have been recently, I probably would've skipped today and just ran tomorrow.  However, I am planning on running 4 days this week and the only way to do that would be to run today.  Otherwise, I would've had to run 3 straight days at some point.

I thought about heading to Jacobsburg.  I figured a trail run could be fun in these conditions.  However, I realized that I haven't run at the D&L Trail in Cementon in awhile.  I decided to head there.  The plan was for just 3 miles.  If I felt really good, perhaps I would stretch it to 4 miles.

When I arrived, there were no tire tracks in the parking lot.  I was the first person to go there all day.  I knew it would be a lonely run.  Snow was gone from the roads and most of the grass, but the stone trail was still covered.

Dressing for this run was quite frustrating.  It wasn't anywhere near as windy and cold as it has been.  However, with the rain, I had to wear a jacket.  I knew that would make me a little hot.  I still had on long pants, gloves and a winter hat.  I felt comfortable when I started, so I knew I had on too much.  I switched the hat off and went to a headband.  Since I just shaved most of my hair off, I had to go back to the hat.  Later in the run, I took my gloves off too.

I started off cruising along.  My tracks in the path were the first ones.  I didn't encounter any others until later in the run.  I looked back and it was cool to see my tracks in the snow following me.  I thought I would get a picture of my lonely tracks when I got back to my car.  I elected not to wear my GoPro today.  I figured that I had enough snow pictures.  I later on regretted not bringing it.

When I first looked at my watch, I thought I was around 1/2 of a mile into the run, but it only said 1/3 of a mile.  I thought it was odd and I couldn't be going that slow.  I felt good.  It was a little hard running in the snow, but wearing trail shoes helped.

When I looked at my watch for a 2nd time, it only read .78 miles.  I then looked at my pace and it was around 12:00.  I knew I might've been slower than usual, but definitely not that slow.  My GPS was certainly off.  I came through the first mile and it read 11:25.  I took my watch out of my jacket at that point.

I said earlier that I wished I would've had my camera on the run.  I can't remember where I was when I saw it, but there was a cool sight along the trail.  The old railroad (which is now the trail) was cut through some rock.  With all the cold weather we've had lately, the rock wall had large ice crystals come out of it.  That would've made for a cool photo.

Because the first mile was inaccurate and looked slow, it pissed me off.  I pushed the pace a little more after that.  I still wasn't going hard and I'm not sure I would call the pace moderate either.  It was definitely faster than an easy pace though.  With my watch out of my pocket, I checked it more often.  It seemed accurate the rest of the run.

Before turning around, I encountered another runner.  What were the odds?  He was running with his dog.  I saw that and was hoping that I wouldn't catch him when I turned around.  I didn't want to have to pass him and the dog again.  Luckily, they were pretty far ahead and must've been moving fast.  I don't think I even gained ground on them.

The 2nd mile ended up being blazing.  It was run at 7:36.  I can't even imagine how much faster it would've been on a normal, clear day.  I continued to plug along.  I couldn't wait for the final mile to be over.  I looked at my watch again and again.  My pace kept crawling closer and closer to a 9:00 overall pace.  My goal then became to get it below that.  I hit 9 flat when I was in the final quarter mile of the run.

I finished up under the 9:00 and felt great.  The last mile did wear me down a little and my breathing was laboring a bit.  That mile was done at 7:42.  It was good to complete this run.

Since I had gone out about a 1/4 mile that wasn't accounted for by my watch, I had a short walk back to my car.  The guy with his dog came by in the other direction.  That meant that my footprints weren't the only ones, so I didn't take any photos.  I was confused for a minute because I didn't see my prints.  Then, I realized that mine were actually just in front or behind his.

It was a good run and I'm very happy with how fast the last 2 miles were.  That's especially true considering that I wasn't pushing too hard and the conditions were tough.  I haven't done speedwork in so long, but with healthy quads, I feel like my slow paced runs are much quicker.  It will be interesting to see how fast I'll be when I run the 5K next weekend.  I'd like to think that I can at least break 22 minutes.  I might even be able to get under 21 minutes.

Tomorrow should be a little warmer.  I might go for a bike ride.  Wednesday, I'll be running again.  I'm leaning towards going to Trexler again.  It should be really warm then.  Maybe I can run better without cold air.  I'll need some better weather to conquer those hills.

3 miles - 26.44 (8:55 pace)

Saturday, January 26, 2013

BCR Through the Snow

I've been working on getting up earlier all week.  Maybe it finally paid off, because I got a decent amount of sleep last night and actually woke up about half an hour before my alarm.  I was happy because it snowed a couple inches and I really wanted to get out with the BCR this morning.  I did make it there for 7:30 at the Plainfield Recreation Trail.

It was one of the coldest runs I've ever done.  The temperature was in the teens and with the wind chill, it might've felt like single digits.  Even with that, we had a good crowd for the run.  It was over double digits.  It wasn't quite as windy as the other day.  I threw some shorts on over my tights.  I wore some ColdGear and my fleece vest.  I added gloves and a headband that I just bought to protect my ears.

This time, I remembered my GoPro camera and the camera card as well.  I took a couple pictures.  I wanted to get some action shots of everyone running, as well as a couple videos.  It doesn't zoom anywhere near as much as my regular camera, so I have to get used to when it is the appropriate time to take pictures.  Usually, I'm too far away.

We took off into the layer of snow.  I took a couple pictures.  I then saw Flo and Chris and they seemed to be going kind of slow.  I sprinted to catch up with them and did chat for a bit.  With the cold air, the pace did end up being a little too much.  My breathing was getting heavy.

I wisely back off and they gradually faded into the distance.  Now, I was on my own with this run.  That is one thing that is frustrating for me right now.  I'm faster than most of the group, but I can't hang with Flo or Chris.  Even though it is a group run, I end up running it alone.  It does help to be behind them though, so at least they are sort of pulling me along.

Between taking pictures and chatting with those two, the first 3/4 of a mile flew by.  The scenery was pretty and that made the run easier.  There were a couple sets of footprints in the snow.  I could easily tell where Flo's small feet had been.

The snow was soft and fluffy.  It wasn't too bad to run on.  It wasn't slippery.  Even so, your feet would slide a little whenever the path went slightly uphill.  I could even tell this by looking at the footprints that were dragging along. 

The 2nd mile was a bit of a struggle.  It must've had some uphill in it.  It was great to be able to turn around though.  I took a bunch of pictures of the group as I passed them.  The 3rd mile actually wasn't much easier than the 2nd.  I passed a guy running with his dog.  I wasn't sure if he was with the group, but I ended up sitting next to him at breakfast.  I've heard of his daughters because they are pretty good runners at Beca.

I knew the last mile would be downhill.  As I approached the start of it, I was glad that I didn't go out any farther.  My body would've really struggled to run a 5th mile.  I might've end up walking it.

That final mile was definitely better.  I cruised along, knowing that the end was near.  I finished up with a solid 4 miles.  They were all fairly consistent, from 8:10 to 8:26.  It was fun, but also a relief to be done.

I went back up the path to take pictures of everyone.  It seemed like it took them awhile to get back.  Obviously they went farther than me.  All I managed to get pictures of were Dave, Flo and Chris.  I started to get very cold and couldn't wait around longer.  Maybe next time I can get some better photos.

I love running when it is snowing.  I was happy to be able to finally run right after a snowfall.  I haven't done that since 2010.  It's been awhile.

My quads feel good.  I'm going to bump my running up to 4 days next week.  I need to gradually work back into it.  I think I'll be running Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday.  I have no real plan for Monday yet.  We'll see what I decide to do and where I decide to go at a later time.

4 miles - 33:08 (8:18 pace)

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Battling the Cold and Wind

I won this round today, but it wasn't an easy fight.  I made sure to get out and run on Tuesday because I knew the rest of the week would be brutal from a weather standpoint.  I also knew that I'd have to run it at some point anyway.  I tried biking indoors yesterday, but that was boring and lasted about 10 minutes.  Today, I just had to get out and run again.

It is Thursday, so this is usually LVRR Group Run night.  However, I actually wanted to go to a high school basketball game and I knew that no one would show up for the run anyway, so I cancelled it.  My friend, Laurie, heads up the Thursday afternoon run.  I messaged her to say that I'd join her for the run, but shortly after I did that, I saw she cancelled her run too.

I decided to start where her run begins anyway.  I went to the Saucon Rail Trail.  Instead of starting at my usual location, at Water Street Park, I went to the south end of the trail and started at Upper Saucon Park.  My plan was to run the whole trail and I figured having a different perspective would make that easier.  I've only run this trail from there one other time.

Upper Saucon Park is a longer drive for me.  It is right next to DeSales University.  One thing I love about this trail is that people actually use it.  It goes through well populated areas and isn't nearly deserted like a of other rail trails that I run on.  A nice feature of this park is that the bathrooms are heated.  After sitting in a warm car and then a warm bathroom, it was definitely hard to get out there and run through the cold.

The temperature at the bank that I drove by said 24 degrees.  With the wind chill, it was likely in the neighborhood of 10 degrees.  A lot of times, I have trouble deciding what to wear in winter.  Mainly, that has to do with not wanting to sweat too much.  Today, the only decision was whether to throw on a third layer.  I felt comfortable in the parking lot, so I just wore my ColdGear base layer with my fleece vest over it.  The vest was a great investment.  It keeps my core warm and allows my arms to breath.  My arms and legs don't need as much coverage.  I received a pair of biking winter gloves for Christmas, so I wore those instead of my normal gloves.  I don't like wearing a full hat, but this weather warranted that item.  Then of course I had my tights on too. 

As I was walking through the parking lot, heading to the trail, I saw two women running.  I said to them, "good to see I'm not the only one crazy enough to run in this."  They just laughed.  To my surprise, I came across two solo runners within the first mile.  After that, it was mostly just a couple walkers, specifically dog walkers.

It was definitely cold at the start.  My eyes watered early on, until I adjusted to the conditions.  They usually only water when I bike, so that gives you an idea of how cold it was outside.  I tried to make sure to take it easy.  I guess I was going slow enough because my breathing wasn't compromised.

The other day, my Garmin watch band broke again.  That is the 2nd time this year.  I guess I'll have to buy a new one again.  Because of that, I was forced to put the watch in my pocket.  That meant I had no idea of how far I had gone.  When I hit the first mile, I could hear it beep.

Going out was definitely cold and difficult.  The wind was just steady.  Thankfully, there weren't insane gusts.  I have run in worse weather, but not by much.  I kept moving along, all alone.  I told myself that it would be worth it on the way back.  I would have the wind at my back and things would get much easier.

Going out did seem to take a long time.  I didn't hear my watch beep for miles 2 or 3, so I never had any idea where I was.  Finally, I could see one of the road crossings up ahead.  I knew it was Walnut Street and after I got there, I had about 3/4 of a mile to the Water Street crossing.  That would be the end of the line for me.

I continued to just plug along.  It was hard work going against the wind, but my legs felt pretty good.  A few times, I was able to open my vest up more.  Most of the time though, it was windy.  It was so cold that the edges of the nearby creek were freezing over.  We haven't been over 32 degrees in two days now.

As I approached the Water Street crossing, I took my watch out of my pocket.  I was very happy to see that I was around 3.75 miles.  Usually, I look at my watch long before that.  That was the first time I took a peek all run.  I kept the watch out and had to cross Water Street a short distance before turning around.

I was shocked when I saw that my 4th mile was run at 7:28.  I didn't think I was going that hard.  I was pleased that my overall pace was right around 8 minutes at this point too.  The first mile was a slow 8:49.  The rest of my miles actually varied quite a bit.  Maybe that was from the weather conditions or maybe it was because I wasn't looking at my watch.

I headed the other direction and immediately felt warmer.  I took off my hats and gloves.  I thought things would get easier from here.  They didn't though.  It turns out that it was actually still cold and windy in this direction.  Shortly after the Walnut Street crossing, I checked my watch again.  I was disappointed to see that I was only at 4.65 miles.  I still had a long way to go to reach my goal of 8 miles.

The way back was quite unpleasant.  It got so cold that I put my gloves back on.  Fighting against the wind on the way out had taken a lot out of me.  I was exhausted.  Add to that the fact that 6 miles was the farthest I've run lately and I was toast.  My goal was to just focus on hitting that 6 mile point and then go from there.  The other thing that was disappointing is that I thought I'd be going downhill to finish.  If it was slightly downhill, it didn't feel like it.

I thought I heard my watch beep, so I took it out.  Sure enough, I was just over 6 miles.  Physically I was drained and mentally too.  The good thing is my quads, which have been giving me problems, were only mildly sore.  The thing that really kept me going was knowing that if I stopped early, I'd have a long walk in the freezing cold back to the car.

The next time I took my watch out to check it, I was right around 6.9 miles.  I knew it wouldn't be easy, but I could win the battle at this point.  I just had to keep pushing and gut it out.  I sure couldn't wait to be done.

The final mile I checked my watch over and over again.  I like to do that as I near the end.  It makes me feel good as every step goes by.  The pace continued to be just under 8 minutes.  Although I felt like I was slipping and I'm sure my form was breaking down, my pace held fairly constant.

I came across a woman running the other way.  This was the first runner I had encountered since early on in the workout.  Then as I got to the final road crossing and inside the last quarter mile, I was surprised to see a big group of runners approaching.  I was trying to figure out what group would be out running.  I was also jealous because having a group would've been a big help.

I got closer and could see that it was about 6-8 guys.  As I passed them, I realized they were college aged.  I think they were likely a few of the guys from the DeSales team.  The school was nearby.  I was disappointed that I didn't see any of the female runners from that team.  One of their freshmen when to Nazareth and another went to Freedom.  I would recognize both of them.

I was never happier to be done with a run than this one.  It seemed to take long, especially the last few miles.  It was quite the battle.  I was thrilled to see that my overall pace was spot on 8 minutes.  Not bad considering the conditions and that I wasn't going too hard.  That's the longest that I've run in over a month too.

My quads were a little sore by the end.  Rather than stretch out in the cold, I opted to go into the heated bathroom.  That was a good idea.  As I was stretching, I noticed that my stomach was red and then realized that my legs were still quite cold too.  I guess I didn't realize how much the cold and wind was bothering those two areas.  I thought both were covered well enough.  They are fine now, but it took some time to warm up.

I love and hate days like this.  I hate the actual run itself of course.  It is just miserable.  I love the challenge that it provides though.  Days like this in the winter make me mentally stronger in the spring and summer.  If it gets tough during a race, I can just think back to today and know I made it through a difficult day before.  People that skip runs on days like today will be wondering why they are behind me come May.

It is supposed to snow on Friday night.  I do plan on running Saturday, but because of the snow, I don't know how many miles I'll be able to get in.  That's why I wanted to make sure that I did 8 today.  On Saturday, I'm thinking it will be in the 3 to 5 mile range.  The BCR is meeting at Plainfield.  Although running in the snow is tough, I like doing it.  I'll be there if it does snow Friday.  Otherwise, I'll head somewhere else because I don't want to run on the hard pavement.

8 miles - 1:03:56 (8:00 pace)

Monday, January 21, 2013

Trexler, I Missed You

I've said many times that Trexler Nature Preserve is my favorite place to run and that I need to get there more often.  Once I was finally able to complete the 8.5 mile loop in the summer, I said that I would be going there a lot.  Instead, I have only been there once since then.  It is a half hour drive to get there with no traffic, but I still should run there more often.

There was a group run there last week.  I knew that I wouldn't be able to even come close to doing the whole loop if I went.  It would've required a lot of walking.  I'm just not back to form yet from the three weeks that I took off.  Finally, I headed over there today for my run.

I had no set plan, I had hoped that I could run 3-5 miles, but I know that I never know what to expect from the hills of Trexler.  I wanted to make sure to get there today because the temperature was in the mid 30s with a wind chill in the mid 20s.  Tomorrow, the temperature is supposed to drop into the teens with the wind chill around zero.  It is going to be very cold.

I did struggle with what to wear today.  I probably could've just opted for a ColdGear top to go with my tights.  Instead, I went with a lighter long sleeve shirt and a fleece vest.  That allowed for my core to remain warm and also gave me a place to stash my gloves and hat.  Additionally, the shirt was orange so I would stand out just in case people can still hunt there.  It was a fairly good choice of attire.

It definitely was a bit cold and a little windy, but nothing that isn't expected this time of year.  It certainly isn't something I can't handle.  I knew that my lungs aren't that strong and they would really struggle in the cold air.  Not only was the air cold, but the group was frozen too, making the dirt hard.

The fun part about starting at the Environmental Center is that you get to fly downhill.  I wore my GoPro camera here.  Running with it on this awesome trail is one of the big reasons that I bought the camera.  Senic runs and also running in groups will be fun to document.  The downhill was fun and the first reasonably short uphill wasn't bad either.

I got to the second uphill and that was a different story.  This is one of the 5 toughest hills on the course and it is always difficult because it is so early on.  You have no chance to get warmed up.  I didn't actually expect to be able to run all the way up the hill.  It goes on and on.  To my surprise, I nearly made it to the top.  If it wasn't so early in the run, I could've kept going to the summit.

Here is the video link to that portion of the run.

 Uphill at Trexler

I walked for a short distance to the top.  Then, I could cruise downhill again.  Before long, I was at the bison area.  I've probably run this trail about 15 times over the years and only once before have I seen the bison out right along the trail.  I was very happy to see them today.  I tried to lean my body that way, so the camera would pick up their presence, but it didn't show up on the video.

I made it up the next hill past the bison.  This one is tough too, but at least it isn't too long or steep.  Those are the two things that always get me at Trexler.  There are a lot of hills and they can wear you down, but it is the 5 or so really long or steep hills that will do you in.

Even with all of the walking, my first mile was still a surprisingly quick 9:37.  I had fun going downhill again and was then out of the Lehigh Valley Zoo area.  Right beyond this point, the trail heads into a fun little rocky section.  It is a joy to try to navigate through there.  I like to fly through this section and not pick my spots.  Some of the rocks are sharp and can be tricky.  I have some video of this section as well.

After that was a road crossing and the long uphill section.  This section goes on and on, but it isn't too steep.  I was hoping I could make it all the way to the top.  I quickly found out that I wasn't conditioned well enough to do it.  I got to 1.5 miles from the start and just decided to turn around.

Going back downhill and through some of the flat sections was fast and fun.  I was cruising along.  Then, I hit the gradual uphill paved section.  This isn't too bad, but I knew the upcoming trail section was very steep.  I made it to the trail and quickly just decided to give up on this run at the 2 mile point.  Trexler had won this round.  I'm just not in the shape to handle this place right now. 

My 2nd mile was still a pretty quick 8:29.  Although it was only 2 miles, my pace through this section looks to be significantly quicker than it was during Quadzilla in July.  I'm impressed with the speed I have.  My lungs just need to stop limiting me.

I probably should've just walked whenever I had to and completed around 5 miles.  I just hate to walk, unless it is on the super tough hills.  I walked a good part of the way back.  I tried taking some pictures of the bison, but they were too far away for my camera to get a good shot.

After the bison area, I decided to start running a little more.  I made this like a separate run.  The beginning was uphill.  I still had some energy now that I was recovered thanks to some walking.  I flew down the really big hill and passed some people walking a dog as I did that.  I thought about going up the next hill, but I knew it would just beat me down.  When I realized that another trail goes the other way, I opted to take that.

It was flat or slightly downhill for a while.  Sometime around .5 miles into this segment, I turned around.  The trail was starting go downhill a lot.  I didn't want to climb back up too steep of a hill.  When I got back to the big hill that I avoided, I elected to stop for good.  I got another .65 miles into the run.

This run wasn't what I had hoped for from a distance standpoint.  The other problem is that it wasn't much of a workout for my legs.  It just beat down my lungs.  This is always a good place to gauge your fitness level though and I did that.  It is always such a humbling experience to run here.  You certainly can't fake it.  Even if I would've slowed down, it still takes a lot of work to get up the hills and I likely wouldn't have made it.

Chances are that I won't go anywhere tomorrow with how cold it will be out.  Since I didn't accomplish too much today, I'm not ruling out going to Trexler again and running some hill repeats.  I need to mix in some hills to get stronger.   This is certainly a good place to improve fitness as well as gauge it.

I keep saying that I'm going to go to Trexler more often and I never do.  I think once March rolls around, I'm going to set a goal to go there at least 3 or 4 times a month.  I really need to make it a mainstay this spring and summer.  One of my two big goals for 2013 is to place in the Top 20 in Quadzilla in July.  That will require a lot of miles on these trails.  I want to know this place inside and out.  I also want to be able to run the entire loop without any walking.  There are couple hills that make it very tough to do that.  I also hope that I can run double loops there a couple times.

If I don't run or bike tomorrow, then I definitely plan on getting out and riding on Wednesday.  Thursday is the LVRR Group Run, so I'll be leading that.  Hopefully, I can get to the BCR Group Run on Saturday.  It might depend on where they are running, in addition to whether or not I can get out of bed.

2 miles - 18:06 (9:04 pace)
.65 miles - 5:34 (8:36 pace)

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Missing the BCR Run

I love running with the BCR folks.  The problem is that I just hate the morning.  I woke up a few minutes before my alarm and could barely drag myself out of bed to even turn it off.  I did manage to do that and just woke up later in the morning.

I was sort of glad I didn't go so early because the weather looked cold.  It seemed to warm up as the day went on.  I was having some trouble deciding where to run at because it seemed a bit windy.  I wanted to run at Lehigh Gap along the D&L, but thought the wind might be brutal coming off of the river.  In the end, that is where I ended up going.  The scenery of the mountains alongside the path just can't be beat.

I started off around noon and it was actually warming up quite a bit by then.  There was still some wind.  That caused me to struggle with what to wear.  I had on tights and a ColdGear top.  I decided to wear my fleece vest.  That was mainly because it had pockets and I could keep some gloves and a hat in case it was worse than I thought with the wind.  In the end, I would've been better off without the fleece and probably would've been okay wearing just shorts.  I definitely didn't need hats and gloves. 

As I drove towards the Lehigh Gap I noticed there was some snow on the ground.  Around us, all the snow has melted.  I was concerned that the trail could be snow covered.  To my relief, it wasn't.  There was snow here and there.

I started off heading north along the trail.  It was very sloppy in front of the Lehigh Gap Nature Center.  There was no snow, but because of the snow melt it was soggy and sloppy.  I cruised along.  I didn't think I was running as fast as I actually was, but my lungs felt it.

Before hitting the mile mark, I encountered some snow.  Most of the trees in this area are dead, so I figured the snow would be minimal.  I guess the sun just didn't hit some of these sections at all.  It wasn't more than an inch on the ground, so it wasn't too difficult to run in.  I did run on both sides of the trail, while trying to find the cleanest part of the path.

I thought about turning around, but then the trail cleared up and was relatively dry.  It was in the best shape that it had been in.  I was surprised that my first mile was under 8 minutes (7:58).  I certainly didn't try to pick it up in the next part, but with good trail conditions, I guess I went even faster.

Earlier, I saw a guy on a bike come up the trail from the south.  His bike said, "trail patrol."  I asked him how conditions were the other direction and he said much better.  Since the part I was on at that time was actually good, I kept going.  I wanted to go out 2 miles and then back.  Since I was planning 6 total miles, I'd have 4 of them done by the time I headed back the other direction.  I considered going up the short hill to the LNE to get some hill work in, but I missed it because I was talking to the guy when I passed it.  My lungs were working hard enough anyway.

With about 1/3 or 1/4 of a mile from turning around, the path got quite snowy and slow.  I wanted to make it to 2 miles though, so I kept going.  Eventually I hit the turn around and headed back.  Mile 2 was run at 7:51.  My breathing was certainly heavy.

As I headed back, I told myself to slow down a little.  I sort of did, but not too much.  When I got back to the good section of the trail, I'm sure I was moving well.  I starting off going this way because I thought going out would be the worse wind.  It turns out I was running into more of a headwind in this direction.  At one point as I was nearing the bend, it was very cold.  Most of the time, the wind wasn't too bad and I was actually hot. 

As I closed in on 3.5 miles, I was still running right at an 8 minute pace.  I took off my vest at this point and when I got back to my car, I threw it in there.  That was a big relief.  I was really dieing at this point.  Even though I slowed down some, I still worked too hard early on and struggled with my breathing.  These 2 miles were still run at 8:05 and 8:04.

The guy on the bike was correct.  The trail was in much better shape to the south of Lehigh Gap.  There was almost no ponding water and no snow at all.  I cruised along.  Since I was worn out, I backed off a little.  I didn't have the energy to push it, but I set a goal to not let my overall pace slip below 8:05.  I was still at around 8:02, so it really didn't take a lot of effort to do that.

I looked at my watch over and over again.  As I approached the small airport, I was nearing mile 5.  I just had to stay focused on getting to the turnaround.  Once I did that, I could battle through the last mile.  The trail still looked good when I hit mile 5 (8:05 pace), so I kept going.  At least I was fairly consistent with my pace.

I decided to go a little farther and actually head to 5.25 miles before turning around.  That would allow me to walk a little for a recovery after the run.  Finally, I was there and relieved to be on the way back.

I looked at my watch and counted down what seemed like every .05 miles.  That went by so slow.  My breathing was a little better at this point because I wasn't running against the wind and I felt like I was falling apart, so I couldn't push it.  Actually my pace was pretty quick.  My legs were finally tiring as well.  When I got into the last quarter mile, I picked it up slightly.  I finished up at exactly an 8 minute pace.  A good 6 miles in the book.

I'm still not sure what happened last week that caused me to be sore for almost three days after only a 5 mile run.  I wanted to run 6 miles then, but my legs didn't allow it.  Now, after 6 miles today, my quads are only mildly sore.  About what I would expect.

I'm still going to be cautious.  I am going to keep my running to every other day for at least another week.  Then, I'll add a 4th day to the schedule and a few weeks later a 5th day and then eventually a 6th day.  The only speedwork that I plan on this winter in the 5K race that I'm doing on February 9th.  I have plenty of time to get back to where I want to be for a spring half marathon and a fall full marathon.  I just need to keep taking it easy.

I'd like to try a long bike ride tomorrow.  I rode 7 miles yesterday while it was in the 20s and it was brutal.  We'll see what the weather is like tomorrow.  If I don't bike, maybe I'll hike.  We'll see.  If I feel good, I might try running at Trexler on Monday.  If not, I'll make it somewhere on Tuesday (likely Trexler).  Right now, I'm doing well.  I hope it keeps up.

6 miles - 48:00 (8:00 pace) 

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Another Good Night for a Group Run

I was encouraged by last week's turnout to the LVRR Group run.  I didn't know how this week would do.  I hoped someone would come back from last week, but no one did.  I thought I might end up running alone again.  Then a woman named Dana showed up.  As we were about to leave Ingrid made an appearance too.  I paced the Runner's World Half with her.  It was good to have some company.

Any time that we have anyone show up in the winter, I am thrilled.  It turns out Dana and Ingrid knew each other.  I thought maybe the weather scared some people off.  It was supposed to rain/snow 15 minutes before the run was scheduled to start.  That didn't happen though.  The storm never came.  The weather was supposed to be in the mid 30s, but with no wind, it was actually very nice.

I knew it was too cold to dress in shorts, so I went with tights.  I wore a bright orange lightweight long sleeve shirt and a fleece vest over that.  I actually wore the vest more because I'd be standing out there waiting to run for a couple minutes, rather than needing it to run in.  By the end, I was a little hot.  When I went into SteelStacks to use the restroom, I must've looked ridiculous in my outfit. 

We started off on the normal route.  I followed behind the two of them.  That was good actually because I can run a little faster than them, so I let them set the pace.  It allowed me to take it easy.  We chatted and the run flew along.  We talked about running, triathlons and a lot of other stuff.

Crossing the road after going over the Fahy Bridge has been tough, so instead we opted to run out to the Hill to Hill Bridge and then go up Main Street.  That worked out as a much better route.  It actually didn't add as much distance as I thought it would either.  Mostly importantly, it kept us out of danger.

We hit the lights pretty well and only had to stop for short periods of time, if at all.  We went up Main Street and then along Broad Street and before I knew it we were near the Wawa and headed back towards SteelStacks.  Running on the Minsi Trail Bridge was a little tricky because they had put down so much salt in anticipation of the snow.

Before I knew it, we were over the bridge, into the Steel area and headed to the end of the run.  It seemed like it was so quick before the run was over.  Group runs are great for that.  It must be fun for the people that train in groups everyday, although usually they have some intense sessions too.  I'm glad that so far since I've come back, I haven't had to go too hard during group outings.  I need to progress into it nice and easy.

My legs felt great during and after this run.  I'm not really sure why last Saturday was such a problem.  Maybe it was the mileage, maybe it was the terrain or maybe I didn't recover enough from this group run last Thursday.  Regardless, I do think that giving myself at least one rest day between every run day has helped a lot.  I'll probably do that for at least another week before I start slowly adding days.  I need to build up cautiously.

When we were discussing races, Ingrid said she is pacing the Garden Spot Half Marathon.  I might be doing that as well since I was given the opportunity.  I want to pace something faster though, like 1:45.  I'll see how I progress these next couple weeks and then I'll commit to it if I'm feeling good.  I also want to run a competitive half marathon somewhere in the spring.  I might do the Lehigh Valley one.  I'm not sure.  I'll commit to that later.  I'd love to be able to break 1:30.

Tomorrow is an off day from running.  If we don't get any snow, I might try to do a long bike ride.  Some of that would depend on if I can get up early too.  On Saturday, I'm going to try to make it out with the BCR again.  They are going to the Saucon Rail Trail, so I like that idea.  A nice and soft surface will do.  I look forward to it.

4.15 miles - 37:18 (9:00 pace)

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Changing the Course Around

I took three days off after my tough group run on Saturday.  My quads were bothering me for quite a while, so I sure needed it.  Finally, I got back out there this afternoon.  The plan was just for an easy 3 miler.  Since it wasn't much of a run, I opted just to head to the Nor-Bath Trail.

I get tired of running at the same places over and over again.  Because of that, I often like to go to different locations along the trail to start.  I still end up running the same areas that I do over and over again, but it does help.  It changes the perspective and makes the route feel a little different.  It was a big boost today and I never tired of the route.

This time, I decided that I would see if I could find the park that connects to the trail past Weaversville Road.  I only knew about this section because the 10K that I ran in October went through there.  After going around Bicentennial Park, I eventually found this park.

This park looks nice and new.  It has bathrooms that were locked.  I might have to try going there in the summer.  It was a couple tenths of a mile walk along the paved path to the actual trail.  I decided that I would head east as that seemed like the farthest way to go before I would hit a road crossing.

The weather was right around 40 degrees.  It was a bit chilly.  I still went with just a lightweight long sleeves tech shirt and shorts.  I usually wear shorts until it is under 35 degrees.  The legs don't get too cold.  The one thing I did regret early on was the lack of gloves.  After blowing on my hands, I realized that I could just pull my shirt over my hands.  That was a big help.

I ran along at a nice and comfortable pace.  The trail was a bit soggy from the recent rain.  I felt good.  My breathing wasn't a problem.  That is probably because I wasn't going as fast as some of my runs last week.  I just went nice and easy, not even worrying about the pace.

I passed a couple coming the other direction on my way out.  After going over the three pedestrian bridges, I was surprised at how close Weaversville Road actually was.  For some reason, it seemed farther during past runs.  I wasn't even 3/4 of a mile into the run.

I decided I would turn around if I had to stop for a car.  Otherwise, I'd cross the road and head toward Bicentennial Park.  A car was coming so I turned around.  I passed the couple again, this time from behind.  I also passed a kid walking home from school.  As I left later on, I saw that I was near Catty's High School.  I thought that would've been an awful far walk from Northampton High School.

I got back to the spur trail near my car and was just under a 1.5 miles.  I decided to keep going along the main trail until I hit the next road crossing.  That didn't take too long.  I was just under 2 miles into the run when I turned around.  After an 8:55 first mile, I ran the 2nd mile in 8:25.  I wasn't pushing any more than before, I guess I just warmed up.

I knew I'd get back with well over a half mile to finish up.  I debated going back in the original direction.  Instead, I just decided to run along the spur trail to my car.  That way, I wouldn't have to walk in the cold after the run.  I wasn't crazy about running on hard pavement, but I figured that less than a mile of it wouldn't hurt.

I got to the path with 7/10th of a mile to go and when I got to my car, there was still half a mile left.  This was tough for awhile because it is uphill.  Just past the tunnel, I hit 2.8 miles and knew I could turn around and finish up right at my car.  I did just that.  The downhill finish was nice.

My quads were only a little sore this time.  Only doing 3 miles was probably a big help.  I'm just going to do whatever my body dictates.  If that is no more than 3-5 miles each time out and no more than 3-4 days a week, then so be it.  Clearly, total rest didn't help, so I just have to run through this and be cautious.  I'm going to do a lot of self massaging and might get a massage as well.

I was considering a long bike ride tomorrow.  However, I heard that we are expecting a few inches of snow.  If that is the case, I might consider heading up to the Delaware Water Gap.  I would like to hike there to get some cool snow photos.  We'll see what happens.  Thursday is definitely the group run again.  Hopefully a couple of the women will show up again to run with me.  That would be great.

3 miles - 25:30 (8:30 pace)

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Breakfast Club Winter Run

It was Saturday, so it was the Breakfast Club Runners group run.  I only got 2 hours of sleep because I couldn't fall asleep last night.  I considered skipping the run, but I haven't run with the group in awhile.  I also wanted to test out my GoPro camera with the group.  So I headed out for the run.

We met at the Route 33 Boat Launch.  I like that trail because it was a soft surface.  With a lot of rain yesterday, it might've actually been too soft.  Chris said he was just doing an easy 6 miler, but he blew ahead of everyone.  Flo and I were already far back.  I got to chat with Flo briefly, but told her I wouldn't be quick enough to keep up.  She went ahead.

I then spent the rest of the run on my own.  As we turned by the boat club, I could see Chris, but Flo was no longer ahead of me.  I guess she just looped around and finished up early.  I kept on going.  Around this time, I decided to check my camera and then I realized that I didn't have my memory card in.  Now, I wasn't taking any pictures, but running with a device on my head.  The camera was a big reason that I went out to the run today.  Oh well.

The first 2 miles weren't too fast.  They were 8:16 and 8:15.  I was breathing a little heavy though and around 1.5 miles into the run, I was already struggling.  My legs were feeling weak.  I didn't know if it was the lack of rest or what.  I was planning on running 6 miles initially, but I quickly adjusted that to 5 miles.

I kept battling and just looked forward to hitting 2.5 miles.  Getting there and turning around was a big relief.  This 3rd mile was faster at 8:04.  As I was going back, I saw a lot of the others heading back.  That was a big boost.  I still didn't feel good though.  Every half mile felt like a mile.  I was so sluggish.

My legs started getting sorer and sorer.  I couldn't believe that with all the rest I had, that my quads could still bother me.  They sure did though.  The 4th mile was my fastest yet.  I just naturally ended up picking up the pace when I saw the others in the group coming in the other direction.  This mile ended up being 7:58.

With a little over a mile to go, I caught up to Bob.  He was running and walking.  He decided to run with me for a bit.  That was good and I needed it since I was struggling.  I managed to just keep pushing through.  Eventually he stopped and I was back on my own and back to struggling through the final mile.

My legs felt worse and worse.  I struggled even more at the end because I felt like I had to go to the bathroom.  I almost had to stop with 2/10 of a mile left because it got so bad.  I finished up back at my car though with 5 miles complete.  Amazingly, once I started to walk I no longer had to go to the bathroom.

The weather was great.  I wore shorts and a long sleeve shirt.  I was actually hot by the end of the run and could've worn even less.  It is winter though.

I hungout and stretched for a little and chatted with the group.  It was good to catch up.  I thought about breakfast, but then realized I didn't have my wallet.  I wasn't too hungry either anyway.

I really can't believe how sore my quads are.  I probably should've used the foam roller more while I was resting.  Maybe the slow miles on pavement on Thursday evening bothered me.  I bought a small foam roller that I can use while watching TV.  I am going to do that frequently throughout the day.  If things don't get better, I might use the massage gift certificate that I got for Christmas too.  I guess I won't be running consecutive days for awhile.  I need to take care of this somehow.

I'm not sure when I'll run again.  Since I'm sore, it will likely be Tuesday.  I either get an extra day of rest before or after my next run.  I might try a short run on the trails at Trexler.  I also think I need to keep the length of my runs relatively short for awhile.  I don't think I'll run anything over 8 miles until I'm completely healthy.

5 miles - 40:52 (8:11 pace)

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Shocking Group Run

Tonight was the regular weekly LVRR Group Run.  Since it is winter, I figured that once again no one would show up, especially since I didn't promote it at all.  I figured that if that was the case, I would drive over to the Saucon Rail Trail to run on a softer surface. 

I went to the bathroom and imagine my surprise when I came out and saw two young women ready to run.  It sure didn't hurt that that they were good looking too.  Even more amazing, a minute or so later another woman asked if we were meeting for the group run and she came back shortly with a friend.  I wouldn't have been shocked if it was just one or two people at most, but 4 new faces in the dead of winter was remarkable.  I guess that just speaks to how pathetic this group run has become.  I assume the warmer weather of today brought them out.

Two of the woman apparently actually ran with me in the pace group for the Runner's World Half Marathon.  How about that?  There were quite a few people and a lot of them were behind us, so I don't remember them.  They said they tried to get to one of the group runs before, but couldn't make it in time.

After some brief chatting, we took off.  Since none of them had run with this group before and I had not run the area in a couple weeks, I just went with the normal route.  It was good because none of them were too fast, so I could run at a comfortable pace.  They helped to hold me back as I was coming back.  All 5 of us ran together throughout the run.

I should probably work on the route because there are some tricky situations.  It is hard to see cars coming at the end of the Fahy Bridge.  One of the women thought we would go over the Hill to Hill Bridge.  Maybe we will do that next time.  Thankfully, a car let us cross the road.  Near Main Street another car stopped to ask for directions.

It was a great run.  Group runs just fly by, especially when running at a conversational pace.  It seems like they just get started and before you know it, they are over.  I ran most of the run side by side with the one woman and we chatted away while the others did the same behind us.  Hopefully, no one was stuck alone.  There were 5 of us, so someone kind of had to be the odd person out.

The woman and I talked a lot about running and work and so on.  By the way, I'm terrible with names, so I actually forgot everyone's name.  It's tough to remember 4 new names.  I have enough trouble with one.  The two of them run on the Saucon Rail Trail a lot.

After leaving Main Street and downtown, the route itself becomes quite on eventful.  That's why it was good to have conversation.  I think I kept a pretty manageable pace for them too.  No one fell behind.

The weather was great for this time of year.  I actually wish I would've been able to run during the day when it was even warmer.  It was still nice though.  I wore shorts and some arm sleeves with a short sleeve shirt.  That was plenty.

Just as we got past Wawa, the woman I was running with dropped back to talk to her friend.  That was good because it allowed me to talk to the two younger women and get to know everyone in the group a little better.  One of them ran at Freedom.  I didn't think to ask her about some of the Freedom connections I have.  Her mom also worked where my dad does (Air Products).  The other had apparently run the Philadelphia Marathon the year before I did.  That's the year that it was freezing cold.  I'm glad I picked the correct year.

After navigating some traffic going near the Shops at the Sands, we were back into the Steel Complex.  Before I knew it, we were done.  I told everyone about the Breakfast Club Runners too.  Any time that I get new people to the group runs, especially people from the eastern part of the Lehigh Valley, I like to tell that about that group.  I hope that they'll join us then as well as come back to the LVRR Group Run.  Only time will tell.

I think everyone had a good time and I'm really hoping they will come back in the future.  I could certainly use some more regulars in the group.  It's much better than running alone all winter.  If we could get a regular group here, I wouldn't even mind keeping the runs in this location.  I was hoping that moving the runs to Bethlehem could bring in some new people.  It has done that.  It just isn't a consistent group at this point.  Maybe we can build on tonight.  Hopefully I'll see everyone again.

I think I'm going to ride tomorrow.  I need to start doing something every day.  I need to lose some weight.  Watching what I eat has been a good start.  Now, I need to do more exercising.  I might even add a few hills sprints as well tomorrow.  That will allow me to strengthen, my legs and hopefully improve my breathing.  My breathing was much better tonight than the last two times out.  I'm sure the slower pace as well as the warmer weather both helped.

On Saturday, the BCR group is meeting at the Route 33 Boat Launch.  I'm hoping to make it out there.  That kind of depends on if I can get enough sleep and get up early enough.  I want to test out my GoPro camera with the group.  I didn't even bring it tonight because I figured that I would likely be running alone.

4.23 miles - 42:17 (10:00 pace)

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Difficult Conditions

I'm taking it easy and only running every other day.  The plan was for 5 miles today after coming back with 3 miles on Sunday.  I was about to head out the door and then I realized that I didn't charge my watch.  That meant that I had to wait another hour.  That also meant that I had to stay pretty local to get the run in before darkness.

Originally, I was going to try the D&L at Lehigh Gap.  It seems like that area might get a lot of sun and the path could be clear.  However, as I mentioned, I needed to stay local.  Even though I knew there would still be a lot of snow, I decided to just head to Jacobsburg.  I thought that could be fun.

It was fun, but not in the beginning.  I ran through the main area near the parking lot.  This area is heavily traveled, so all the snow was packed down.  The top surface was also icy because if it.  It made for some tricky running.  Where I could, I ran alongside the trail in the woods.

A guy was walking his dogs.  I saw him get out of his car as I was getting ready.  When I passed him on the trail, he told me to be careful.  I thought he meant because I was running near his unleashed dog.  Then I realized that he meant because of the trail conditions.  I guess he thought I was crazy trying to run on that stuff.  I guess he was right.

I continued along.  I wanted to loop across the road.  I don't normally go that route, but I have done it before.  It made for a long out and back.  Somewhere around half a mile, the snow had melted along the path.  That area was less traveled.

I turned and went up the slight hill.  Going up hills is just killing my lungs right now.  With all the time off, they struggle when I make them work.  I crossed the road and it was still some uphill.  I almost felt like I wanted to quit and I was only about a mile into the run.

This section then flattened out a bit.  There were still some rolling hills.  There was a lot of snow still covering this section.  It wasn't as slick though, so I was able to cruise along.  I was wearing my GoPro camera again, so I had some fun taking photos and video of the run.

I tried going a direction that I normally don't.  I quickly had to turn around though as my path was blocked by a downed tree.  I then took another path and shortly after that came to the road.  I was at around 2 miles at this point and quite exhausted.

I decided to just run along the road and back to the main parking lot.  I knew all along that I wouldn't be able to get 5 miles in.  I figured that I better at least get 3 miles again.  As I was running on the road, my lungs felt so much better.  Maybe it was the consistency of a smooth surface or that I was going downhill.  When I got near the Sober's Run area, I decided I would run there.  It is a flat area.

It was flat, but still quite snowy and not easy going.  There was some mud in this section too.  I turned when I got to the bridge and went along the dirt trail.  That was fun for awhile, but I decided to turn around.  I hit the 3 mile point when I got past the bridge again.

I just began heading back.  I knew I'd be running 4 miles.  At this point, both of my big toes really started to bother me.  My regular trail shoes were bothering me the last few times out, so I tried some older shoes.  I haven't worn those since 2010 and that was a mistake.  I guess they just weren't tight enough as my toes began to rub.

I toughened it out and headed back on the road.  There was a short hill on the road, but it didn't bother my lungs this time.  If not for my sore feet, I probably could've gone to 5 miles.  Instead, I headed back to the parking lot and back along the path to where I started the run.  When I hit 4 miles, I just stopped.  I could smell some weed nearby.  I guess someone was smoking in the woods.  I never did see them though.

It was a tough run, but certainly fun.  I do love running in snow.  However, I wish it would just melt.  It has been on the ground for over a week.  It was in the mid 40s again today, but I guess that isn't enough to get rid of snow in shaded areas.  Hopefully I can find somewhere clear to run the next few times out.

Thursday is the LVRR Group Run.  I don't expect anyone to show up, so I'll probably run alone.  Maybe I'll go on the roads, but I'd like to run on the trail at Sand Island.  Maybe if no one shows, I'll find somewhere else to run.  Since it will be dark, I'd really like it to be some place clear of snow.

Another cool thing happened last night.  I was looking for a 5k to run in February.  I happened to find one in Nazareth.  I had not signed up yet, but I "liked" their facebook page.  They got to 100 likes and decided to give away a free race entry.  I was the winner!  I planned on seeing if I could do some volunteering for it as well.  I love to help out in my home town.  Originally, I wanted to try to get back under 20 minutes again, but that isn't likely now with all the time I've taken off.  Now, I'll just see how it goes and run hard, but have fun.

4 miles - 35:48 (8:57 pace)

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Let's Try This Again

Things didn't go well last time I attempted to run on December 13th.  I was so frustrated that I didn't even bother writing about it.  After the half marathon, I tried taking about 10 days off and easing back into it.  That worked for awhile, but my quads still bothered me.  This time, I elected to take even more time off.  It was a full 24 days between running sessions.  I originally wanted to take off until the New Year, but I had a small procedure done at the end of December and it took some recovering from.

In the time off, I biked some, including a 25 mile long ride that took over 2 hours.  Biking is a good way to explore more of the trails than I normally would.  It just isn't the same from a fitness standpoint as running though.  For Christmas, I got a GoPro camera.  Now I can take photos and video while running or biking.  I tested it out while riding at Penn Pump Park on Christmas Day.  That was fun and I can't wait to use it when I run on trails and with groups.

I thought about running the last two days, but the weather wasn't great or I was just too busy.  Finally, today I felt that I had to get out there.  I've been disappointed that we had some snow a couple times the last few weeks.  I love running in snow.  While it wasn't falling, there was still plenty of if covering the rail trail today.

I went to Bicentennial Park to run on the Nor-Bath Trail.  The plan was to just run an easy 3 miler.  Another car pulled in right as I got there.  A girl got out and went ahead of the older guy.  I thought at first that it was a guy and his daughter, but I'm still not sure.  She was wearing Northampton colors, but since she was running and walking, she obviously wasn't a high school runner.

I wanted to start out towards Airport Road and then turn around at Airport Road and come back and head the other direction.  It was windy and I didn't anticipate that, so I was cold at the start.  As time wore on, I was fine.

I ran with a hat on my head and the GoPro camera.  That was a little weird and will take some getting used to.  I got one video and a couple pictures, but I guess the battery was low because it didn't work right and was beeping.  I didn't think it needed charging.  The video is very bumpy.

I felt good at the start.  My legs were great.  The guy passed the girl and I quickly did the same thing.  She was walking until I got next to her.  Then she started running again.  I'm not sure what the point of that was because she wasn't running fast enough to keep up.

The guy was moving pretty quick.  I slowly reeled him in, but I never did catch him.  I rarely have anyone else running on this trail, so I was glad that he was sort of pulling me along.

I was surprised with how fast my first mile was.  It was 8:18 and I wasn't running hard.  I guess I didn't lose any speed in my time off.  If anything, maybe the fact that my body is healthy will allow me to run faster.  My lungs definitely felt the time off.  I was struggling with my breathing, especially in the cold air.  I will get that back though.

I got to Airport Road around a mile and a quarter.  I decided that if I could cross the road clearly, I would keep going to a mile and a half out.  I got across with no problems.  I figured this would mean that I'd have to stop coming back, but amazingly that didn't happen either.

The trail was a real mess.  I was hoping that it might be clear and that the snow would've melted.  Instead, it was covered with snow on most of the trail.  I would've probably been better off if I wore trail shoes.  It was tough running on the snow, even though it was packed down.  I was slipping slightly with almost every step.  I sort of felt like I wasn't going anywhere.  That was especially true on the way back.  Wherever snow had melted on the path, it wasn't much better.  That just made the trail muddy.  My legs were caked in dirt by the end of the run.  That did make it fun though.

My second mile was the same as the first (8:18).  My third mile seemed to take forever and felt the slowest, but amazingly it was the fastest at 8:09.  Not bad in these messy conditions.  That final mile was really where my lungs started hurting.  That combined with the tough footing made me glad that I elected to only run 3 miles.

It was a good outing and great to get back to running.  I certainly missed it.  I just don't enjoy biking very much.  With all the time off, I want to continue to try to ease back into it.  I won't run on consecutive days for at least two weeks.  I also don't plan on doing anything fast or running on hard surfaces for awhile either.  Running a spring marathon is now doubtful too.

In addition to running and biking, I started tracking my calorie intake and I'm trying to eat better.  I'm up to 165 pounds from 150 pounds at the end of the summer.  I'd like to get back under 150.  It is better than the 110 pounds that I was when I was sick, but I still need to concentrate on what I fuel up with.  I also have quite the gut and need to get rid of that.  I won't become a healthy eater overnight, but I need to start somewhere and I think this will help.

Tomorrow, I'm taking off.  I want to run Tuesday, Thursday and maybe Saturday as well this week.  There is a group run at Trexler on Saturday.  I don't think I could do the whole loop, but maybe I'll give it a try and cut it short if things aren't going well.  With snow still on trails, I'm not sure where I'll run on Tuesday.  It would be nice to find an open sunny path, but I can't think of one.  Maybe I'll search around and see if any trails are plowed.

3 miles - 24:44 (8:15 pace)