Sunday, March 31, 2013

Long Run in the Rain

I woke up early to run yesterday morning.  I am going to meet Flo tomorrow morning and ride my bike.  I figured there was no way I could workout three mornings in a row, so I waited until this afternoon to run.  Even though it is Easter, I had to deliver a catering order at lunchtime.  I wasn't crazy about doing a tough long run in the AM and then doing physical work after that either.

The big issue was the timing of the run.  It was nice out in the morning, but I knew some afternoon rain was coming.  My sister came over for lunch, so I missed that.  She left her cat over, so after work I wasted some time playing around with it.  That meant that I didn't get out the door until well after 3 PM.

I went to what is becoming my go to long run location, the D&L Trail between Cementon and Slatington.  I love this section because it gives mile and miles of running.  It is also all stone, unlike the section from Easton to Allentown (which changes surfaces).  I went to the Cove Road Trailhead.  I like this location because I can run out and back in each direction.  It breaks down the run.

I looked at the weather map and it didn't look great, but not too bad either.  I brought a jacket with me, but didn't plan on wearing it unless things got bad.  I opted for just shorts and a short sleeve shirt.  It was cloudy when I started, but kind of warm.  The rain had just begun.  I wore a hat too, in case the rain got heavier.  I was glad I did.

Usually I like to head north first, that way I can go out farther.  Going south only goes a few miles to Cementon.  This time, I decided to switch it up and head south first.  I figured I could get about 3 miles out and 3 more back.

I started off nice and slow.  My watch showed it to be a lot slower.  With the clouds, I guess my GPS lost a signal.  I certainly didn't run over 9 minutes on that opening mile.

I felt great early on.  My calves weren't bothering me at all and I was cruising.  I was so sore all run yesterday morning.  I really think running in the morning throws everything off, since I'm not used to it.

Even with the GPS being off, the first couple miles went by quickly.  That is always a plus because these miles are mentally some of the most difficult, because you have so far to go yet.  The only thing that was a little tough was that I was running into a headwind.  It wasn't much of a wind and once I was warmed up, I didn't even notice it.

As I approached 3 miles, I saw something alongside the trail.  I think it was probably just a log, but it looked like it could be a dog sitting down.  I thought about going farther out, but when I saw it, I changed my mind and just figured I wouldn't mess with it.

Going back was a little tougher.  It was some uphill.  Still, I was feeling good and moving pretty well.  At times, my calves bothered me slightly.  Overall, everything was good.  I just looked forward to the 6 mile point.  When I got there, I would be able to get a drink.  There is a house not far from Cove Road that usually has some dogs that bark at me.  Today was peaceful though as they must've been indoors.  I almost forgot about them.

I was back at my car before I knew it.  I grabbed some water and headed up the trail.  I was going to drink a little and then run back to the car.  I didn't feel like heading back though, so I left my water on the trail.  There weren't many people out at this point, so I didn't figure that it would be a problem.

I was now heading uphill in the north direction.  Still, my legs were feeling great.  The rain was minimal through the first 6 miles, but it began to pick up as I headed out again.  It was refreshing for a while.  I just tried to focus on each upcoming mile.  It was hard to believe that I wasn't even 8 miles into the run.

I kept trying to figure out where to turn around.  I wanted to go 3 miles out because then when I got back, I'd be 12 miles into the run.  I was hoping for 15 or 16 miles total.  Of course, those last few would be difficult.

I hit the 3 mile point out (9 miles total) just before the stable that always has horses.  This is a cool spot because it is something different.  I was still feeling good, so I opted to go out another half mile.  I would then be through 13 miles when I made it back to the car.

I turned around and that was quite the shock.  I forgot all about the wind because it had been at my back for the last 6 miles.  Now that my clothes were starting to get soaked, I suddenly got cold.  Even the first half mile back was difficult.

I just tried to stay focused on each upcoming mile.  It did help when I went over 10 miles, then 11 miles and 12 miles.  It sure wasn't easy though.  I was getting wetter and wetter and thus colder and colder.  I didn't expect it to be raining this hard.  If I knew it was going to get this bad, I would've turned around sooner and grabbed a jacket.

I thought that going downhill would help, but I was too soaked at this point.  The cold and heavy clothes began to wear me down and weigh me down.   I sputtered along.  My legs and foot were getting a little sore too.  I knew I couldn't walk though or I'd be freezing. 

I made it back to my car and was just under 13 miles.  My arm went numb and I decided that there was no point in battling the cold to run just a few more miles.  Doing 13 miles isn't what I had hoped for, but it was still good.  With the rain, I really would've been happy to get anything over 10 miles in.  My body could probably benefit from a cut back long run anyway.  I was so cold after the run that I didn't even stretch.  I just sat in my car and tried to warm up and dry off.

Three years ago, I was back in Philly during Easter.  I remember a perfect spring day and a long run that I did while I was marathon training.  It was at Wissahickon and was one of the best runs that I ever recall.  The park was so crowded with people taking advantage of the great weather.  I'll never forget it.  With the rain, today was the total opposite.  It was good to battle it out though and get a quality session in.

Tomorrow, I will bike a little in the morning.  I have to check my schedule, but I might do a very short trail run at Jacobsburg in the afternoon.  That kind of depends on if the weather is nice too.  I'm supposed to take off, but maybe I'll just try a short and easy run.  Tuesday, I'm hoping to run at Trexler and possibly complete the entire loop for the first time all year.  Wednesday will be a fast day.

13 miles - 1:47:00 (8:14 pace)

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Group Run and a Bike Ride

So I finally got some decent sleep last night and made it out to the BCR Group Run this morning.  We met up at the Saucon Rail Trail.  I like running there.  It was the first day of trout season, so it was very busy at the Water Street Park.

The weather was outstanding this afternoon.  Unfortunately, not so much this morning.  The good thing is there was no wind and the sun was out.  The temperature was right around the freezing mark.  I would actually take that all winter though.

I wore some long pants, a heavy long sleeve Nike shirt, headband and and gloves.  I knew I would be warm once we got going and I was.  I ended up taking off the headband and gloves.

As usual, Chris took off ahead of everyone.  I weaved through the pack and was second in line.  I was planning a nice and easy 5 or 6 miles.  I was surprised when I heard someone coming up from behind me.  The only one I knew in the group that could probably do that was Mel and he often runs slower.

Not too long into the run, I was passed by the guy.  It turns out it was Jerry, who has run the LVRR Group Run with me a couple times.  That made a lot more sense.  If I really wanted to work, I could've stayed with him.  I had no interest in doing so though.  It was just an easy day.

The rest of the run was solo.  That's one of the issues I often face.  I'm too slow to run with Chris, but faster than most of the other people.  It is sometimes a reason that I don't look forward to the group run as much as I could.  There were a few people that I could've run with, but they had started out earlier.  Whenever I do have company, this group run is always so much better and seems to fly by so much faster.

My calves were starting to feel better lately.  That is, until my run on Thursday night.  After that, they were sore.  They were very sore for most of this run too.  I was really struggling.  I think that part of the reason for that is that my body isn't used to running so early in the morning.  Everything feels stiff.  Whatever the case, it definitely didn't help the run.

I just looked forward to getting to the turnaround point.  Most of the way out was pretty uneventful.  I passed a couple of the other runners coming in the opposite direction.  They had started earlier.  I knew going out was tougher because it is slightly uphill.

Finally, I was 2.5 miles out and I turned around and started heading back.  Coming back wasn't as easy as I had hoped.  It was easier, but my calves definitely still were sore.  Maybe all the building up of mileage that I've been doing lately has been the issue.

I watched all the guys fishing on the way back.  They had started casting at 8 AM.  I didn't notice anyone pulling in any fish.  When I got to mile 4, things finally started feeling better.  My legs came around.

I was back to the park before I knew it.  I added up my weekly mileage in my head.  I realized that if I added a half mile by going the other direction, I could go over 37 miles for the week.  That's just what I did with a nice and easy out and back.

Even though I was running alone most of the time, it was still a good run.  I did go to breakfast and enjoyed chatting with everyone.  After breakfast, I took a two hour nap.

I just had to take advantage of the nice weather in the afternoon.  I headed out to Riverview Park to ride my bike.  I decided that I would ride the 15 mile loop around Easton (than I just ran recently).  There was actually more wind than earlier in the day.  It was cold, but more than anything, it was just hard to ride against.  I was fairly fast on the flat and downhill sections, but I'm quite weak going uphill.  I barely made it up the hills at Hackett's Park.  Since my tires are thin, I did have to be careful where I rode.  My tires held up though.

I love doing these double days.  Now that I got my bike working again and it is getting warmer, I hope to ride more.  Perhaps I can improve with some cross training and save my legs.  My left quad was sore early in the ride, but everything felt good after some time.

I hope to be able to get a 13-16 mile run in sometime tomorrow.  I'd like to run on the D&L Trail.  I have to work at lunchtime though, so I'd have run early.  It is either that, or run later.  It is supposed to rain in the afternoon though.  It will be a busy Easter Sunday.

5.5 miles - 45:49 (8:20 pace)
15 miles - 1:11:09 (4:45 pace)

Thursday, March 28, 2013

A Decent Group Run

Throughout most of the winter, there haven't been many people at the Thursday evening LVRR Group run.  Now that it is light out and the weather will be getting better, I expect a few more people to come out.  That is what happened tonight.  We had 3 other runners in addition to me.

The weather still wasn't great.  It was cloudy and windy.  It was warmer than it has been though, so I wore shorts.  Since I had to stand around for some time before the run, I wore a jacket over my shirt.  I knew it would be too much during the run, but I didn't care.

This woman Tara, had been emailing me about coming for a couple weeks.  She showed up with this guy Jesse.  Another guy, Allen came as well.  It was about the turnout I expected. 

We all started off running together.  Tara ran with me for some time.  We chatted and I found out that she is running her first half marathon at the St. Luke's Half Marathon next month.  It is always fun to meet newcomers.  We ran together in the front of the group until the Hill to Hill Bridge.

I think the bridge slowed Tara down.  She dropped back and ran with Allen.  Jesse came up and joined me.  Him and I chatted and ran together for the rest of the run.  St. Luke's will be his second half marathon.  The Runner's World Half Marathon was his first.  Time flew by with all the chatting.

The pace was nice and easy.  I did have some soreness in my calves.  I think my form is different when I run slower.  I've run a lot of miles lately too.  I also was running on pavement, which I don't like.

When we were in town, it got so much warmer.  We were starting to sweat a lot.  Tara and Allen fell quite far behind.  We ran a fairly decent pace.  Our third mile was a 7:54 and our fourth mile was a 7:52 pace.

Jesse and I finished up and looped back to pick up Allen and Tara.  I ran a little farther and got to 4.5 miles.  It was a solid run and a good group.  Hopefully, they'll keep coming back.

Next week, I hope to try running the St. Luke's course with the group.  Maybe that can help make the group grow in the future.  I guess I'll see what happens.

Tomorrow, I'll probably take the day off.  After 3 years of not fixing my flat bike tire, I finally got around to doing that today.  I might ride tomorrow afternoon.  If I can get up and it is decent weather, I might run on Saturday morning with the BCR.  They are running on the Saucon Rail Trail.  I'll at least be running somewhere on Saturday.

4.5 miles - 37:58 (8:27 pace)

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

10th Week at Trexler

I headed out to Trexler this afternoon to continue my streak.  I have now run there 10 straight weeks and 11 times in that period.  Some days have been more productive than others.  Today, was the best yet.  I hoped to run the full loop.  That didn't happen, but I made progress and had a good workout.

I guess there really is no such thing as spring at Trexler.  It seems like there is only winter and summer.  At home, the wind was minimal.  Not so when I headed out west.  It was incredibly windy at the Environmental Center.  It might have been the worst wind of the winter.  Thankfully, the temperature was fairly warm (in the mid 40s).  The sun was shining most of the run too, so that was a big help.

I went back and forth on attire.  I couldn't believe that it was warm enough for just shorts and short sleeves.  At the same time, I knew when the wind was gone and I was working to get up the hills, I would be hot.  I thought about a lightweight long sleeve shirt or even arm sleeves, but it the end I went with short sleeves.  It was a good decision.

Starting off with the wind was freezing.  Of course, as usual, that didn't last too long.  I went out nice and comfortable.  I got over the big hill fairly easily.  The top is always very slow and my breathing is heavy, but that is only at the very end.  Maybe in a couple weeks, this will really seem like a small hill.  I'm happy that my progress is noticeable on this hill.  My legs don't really get sore on here at all now, it is just my breathing that I struggle a bit with.

As usual, there is opportunity for a lot of recovery after the hill.  The first mile was a comfortable 9:34.  Going up the gradual hill was brutal.  It is steepest in the beginning and the wind was directly in my face.  Luckily, I am so used to the trail that I knew once it went around the turn, it would get much easier.  That it did.  Again, I had two dogs barking at me.  There are two sets of them there and this was the second set I believe.

The wind was off and on in this part of the run, depending on which way I was facing.  The second mile became a speedy 8:39.  That is going uphill without working hard either.  What a difference some nicer weather can do.

Going over the grassy sections slowed me a little and provided some struggle, but I really was still feeling quite strong.  It is amazing how familiar I am now becoming with this section.  I knew right when I went around a turn that I would have to run over some old railroad ties.  I now need to learn the back section of this run as much as I know the first three miles.  Mile 3 was fast as well at 8:35.  I wonder what I could do in this section if I really pushed it and had no wind.  I could probably run the first one under 9 minutes and the next two miles under 8 minutes.  I hope to be even faster than that in the future.

After some downhill, I was now hitting the section that I was less familiar with and it would get tougher.  Last time I went through here, I wasn't quite sure where I was.  There is a very short uphill and then a "false" hill (meaning I always confuse it with the big hills).  I got up both of those without stopping.  There are some rolling hills after that, but they aren't too bad.  I was very hopeful that I could run 4 straight miles to begin the route.

Of course I knew that if I got to the big hill before 4 miles, I was screwed.  I would have to walk.  I was secretly hoping that I am strong enough to get up the big hill without stopping.  It turns out that was just because I haven't run or walked that hill in so long.  I had forgotten just how brutal it is.  I got to it and made it up the first curve.  It didn't take long before I was walking.  That was at 3.93 miles.  This hill is such a bear to walk up.  It is so steep and seems to go on forever.  I saw a trail off to the side, but that just went to a dead end and then downhill.  I had to bushwhack to get to the main trail.

At least I was willing to walk for a change.  After that hill, I got back to running again.  I ran along and was doing okay.  However, it wasn't long before I encountered the second massive hill.  This isn't as bad as the previous one, but there is just no way I could run up this one either.  I probably did give up too soon though.  In the future, I need to push on until I'm beat.  At the top, I stopped my watch briefly.  I thought I was going to quit, but realized that that was a dumb idea.  I kept plugging along.

After these hills, there is some recovery time and some downhill.  Throughout this run, I took it easy on the downhill.  I tried to use that as a recovery.  Normally, I let gravity take me downhill and I am just flying.  I'm not sure which one is better.  I definitely won't hold back on raceday.

I began to approach the next interesting segment of this run.  That is the creek crossing.  Since it is March, I knew it would be cold.  It is very refreshing in the summer, but I wasn't sure what to expect today.  I was just happy that the water wasn't too high today.  I crossed it and it was quite a shock to the system.  My feet seemed like they were numb for the next quarter mile or so.  Things were fine after that though.

By this point, my body was certainly beat up.  Usually it is my lungs that limit me here.  Now, I had got out so far that it was my legs that were getting very tired.  I came to a somewhat long hill and just didn't have much left in me.  I started here a couple weeks ago and getting up this hill wasn't a problem.  I even ran some repeats on it afterward.  However, there was a cumulative effect from all the hills and I just couldn't make it to the top.  I did run some of it and walk some more of it.  I was determined to make it to 5 miles and I was almost there.

I did make it to 5 miles and stopped my watch briefly again.  Then I realized I should try to keep going since I was at the top of the hill.  I knew I wasn't going to continue on on the trail though.  I headed towards the zoo and was going to take the shortcut back to the car.  After some fast miles, it was amazing how slow miles 4 and 5 were.  I ran them in 10:43 and 11:59.

As I headed toward the zoo, I was on pavement and going downhill.  Suddenly, I was recovering and feeling great.  I thought, why not keep running until mile 6.  I was actually near the race's starting line and considered running back on the trail.  Then common sense got the best of me.  I realized there was no point in trying to run 3.5 more hard miles.  I was too close to the limit.  I ran along the creek on a flatter trail and then over a covered bridge.  I was going to stick to the road and run back to the Environmental Center.  I changed my mind though and headed back along the other side of the creek.

At this point, I was getting kind of sore.  I ran past 6 miles, but realized running to 7 miles would be tough.  Since I was approaching 1 hour of running, I just decided to stop at that point and walk back.  That was tough because I was cold and it was windy.  There was some brief rain too.  Plus, I still had a lot of uphill walking to go.

What made today tough was deciding when I had enough.  I probably had another trail mile or two left in me.  However, when I got to the zoo, I had 3.5 miles to go.  I knew I couldn't do that without a lot of walking.  Eventually, I'll get to the point where I can run the rest of the thing.  I don't need to overdo it now though.

I felt so awesome after the run.  This is the first time all winter that I've run long enough here to really give my legs a workout.  I felt so beat afterward and I loved it.  There is just something different and rewarding about running these tough hills at Trexler and doing it right.  You really feel like you have accomplished something after a good workout here.

The workout also left me hungry for more.  I feel like I can run/walk the whole loop and do it at a good pace without running too fast.  I might try heading back to Trexler again on Friday, Saturday or Sunday.  If I do, maybe I'll try to run the exact race route.  If I can make it to the Environmental Center, perhaps I can get 7 straight miles of running in before the big hills.  That way seems better because if you are going to have difficult hills to walk, they might as well occur at the end of the run, not the middle of it.

I tried to compare today's run to last year's Quadzilla race times, at least the sections of it that I ran.  Even with running easy today, I think I ran over this part of the course faster than last year's race pace.  That is pretty darn impressive.  I think right now, I'd have no trouble running the course under 1:30.  I could probably even do it with an easy effort.  I can't wait to see how I strong I can be in a couple months.

Tomorrow will be my usual LVRR Group Run.  I'm hoping some better weather will bring more people out.  I wanted to run the St. Luke's course, but I haven't taken the time to figure it out, so that won't happen yet.  It should be a fun group run and hopefully an easy day.

6:16 miles - 1:00:01 (9:45 pace)

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Gorgeous Day for 800s

It looks like spring has finally arrived, at least for today.  It was a beautiful sunny day in the mid 40s with minimal wind.  Perfect for a run.  I've been waiting weeks for weather like this.  It is just so uplifting.

The timing for the weather was perfect too.  I want to run fast and get some 800 meter repeats in today.  I didn't work today, so I headed out around lunch time.  I went to the Saucon Rail Trail again, like I did last week.  The plan was 6 or 7 repeats with a 400 meter active recovery in between.  Shayne invited me to run a track workout with them tomorrow, but I was already prepared for a fast day today.  Maybe in the coming weeks I will join them.

Of course I had on shorts and a shirt sleeve shirt.  That was perfect.  I saw quite a few runners out there today and they were overdressed.  I bet a lot of them probably have been indoors all winter.  One guy was run/walking shortly before I started.  I ended up passing him early on.

I started off at Water Street as usual.  I tried to keep the warm up mile very slow.  I think sometimes I run  that mile too fast.  As I often say, I can tell in the warm up how good the run will be.  My calves were slightly sore, but overall my legs and body felt strong.  I knew it would be a good day.  I guess this is what it feels like when you go into a speed session and you aren't overtrained.  In the fall, I felt beat up before these type of workouts.

I didn't feel quite as strong at the end of the first mile as I did in the beginning of it, but I was still good and ready to go.  I took off hard after that mile.  I haven't run in good weather, so I really wasn't sure what to expect in terms of my time.  There wasn't really much wind, but I was still breathing in cold air in this direction and that did make it challenging.  I was happy to get through the first repeat at a 6:47.

Truthfully, I was hoping that I could be closer to a 6:30 pace throughout the run.  Battling some wind and also going slightly uphill on the way out certainly made a difference.  I tried to be very slow with my recovery segments, so that I could recover properly.  The second fast segment was sure no picnic.  I had to push quite a bit and the pace dropped to 6:53.  It took a little work to keep it under 7 minutes.  I'm still starting each repeat off strong and then fading a bit at the end.

I knew the third repeat would be my last in this direction.  Even though I was getting worn down, I knew the other direction would be easier.  That would be due to the lack of wind and the fact that I would now be running downhill.  The goal of this third repeat was just to survive.  I tried to keep it under a 7 minute pace, but that just took too much work.  It ended up being a 7:01.  A decent repeat, but the first half wasn't as strong as I had hoped.  Running hard, but not going to hard and falling off the cliff can be tricky.

Turning around was a huge boost as I expected.  At this point, I wasn't sure if I was going to run 6 or 7 repeats, but 6 was looking more likely.  I just wanted to be solid in this fourth repeat and then I could gut out two more after that.  I started off easy and it seemed like I was flying.  Without much effort, I was around a 6 minute pace.  I slipped as the repeat wore on, but it was still a speedy 6:45 pace.  Not bad considering I left plenty in the tank.

It is truly amazing what I difference a slight downhill can make.  The half mile repeats got about 10 seconds faster in this direction.  What I also find fascinating is how much faster it seems that each tenth of a mile clicks off on my watch.  Even though it is only 10 seconds faster in this direction, it seems much, much faster.

The fifth repeat started like the fourth one.  It was fast and again slipped a bit.  I pushed more on this one than the last one though.  That allowed me to come in faster with a 6:37 pace.  I was starting to get a bit of a side sticker and my legs were getting sore.  I definitely knew I had one more in me.

I wanted to leave it all out there in this last one.  I started off with a decent pace, but began to slide.  The pace was dipping to near 7 minutes.  As I approached the final two tenths, I really hung it out there.  I gave it about everything I had.  I was fighting hard and managed to run this one at an impressive 6:38 pace.

After some recovery, I thought about trying to start a seventh repeat.  I knew I wouldn't have much left though.  I also didn't want to have to run another whole mile to cool down afterward.  My cool down would now only be .75 miles.  I packed it in and called it a day.  As I was finishing up easy, I came to a headwind and was glad that I wasn't running hard. 

I'm glad I battled through this day.  I'm definitely more consistent that I was two weeks ago.  Today, I wore a wristband that I made to get me through tough patches.  Thankfully, I really didn't need it.  The wristband has the date of my surgery last year.  I often forget about that and don't think of it when I'm running.  I need to use that as a reminder when I want to quit.  I've battled and made it through tougher things than a hard workout or a race.  I just need to remind myself of that.

One thing I am very happy about is how hungry I am.  I have dreaded some runs over the winter just because of the terrible weather.  However, I can't remember the last time I didn't want to run.  I just enjoy it so much.  I never skip days.  I do move runs around if I need to, but that is it.

I don't have a set training plan right now and I kind of like it.  There's no pressure to do this workout or that one.  I do what I feel like doing.  I am disciplined enough to challenge myself with this style of schedule.  My main thing for the week is to run hard once, run at Trexler once, run a long run and then run with the LVRR group.  That doesn't leave time for much else.  Usually I am able to throw in another run.

Tomorrow is another running day.  I think I'll head out to Trexler for that weekly run.  I think the weather is supposed to be nice again.  Maybe I can complete the entire loop.  Thursday is the LVRR Group Run.  I look forward to that.

6 miles - 45:55 (7:39 pace)

Sunday, March 24, 2013

A Solid 15 Miles

As I figured would be the case, I didn't run the St. Luke's course with Shayne and her friends.  I couldn't drag myself out of bed.  It is much tougher for me to do that this time of year when it is so cold out.  Since there was the IndyCar season opener today, I didn't get around to running until after 3 PM.

I thought about going to Cove Road again for the long run.  Then, I changed my mine and decided to pick up the D&L Trail at the Lehigh Gap Nature Center.  The weather was excellent.  I was finally looking forward to a long run.  I debated whether to throw on a lightweight long sleeve shirt, but in the end, I ended up with short sleeves and shorts.  That was a good decision.

I decided to head north this time.  I usually go the other direction.  I thought changing it up would be good.  I planned on going out and back in both directions, but farther in the first direction.  I was hoping that maybe I could get to the end of the trail.  I wasn't sure how far away Lehighton was though.  I was looking for 12 to 15 total miles.

The first mile was pretty good.  There was a some cold air in that direction, but I can't say it was windy.  I cruised along at a comfortable pace.  Without wind, I didn't have to breath heavy for a change.

I love running in this area because it is beautiful.  On the north side of the mountain, there is still a lot of snow.  It made me realize that that is the same side of the mountain as nearby Blue Mountain Ski Area.  Now, I see why.

The trail was nice and dry and comfortable.  My legs were a little sore early on, but nothing too bad.  The first mile was a slow 8:20.  The next three were under 8 minutes.  It was great to get to 2.5 miles, but it was hard to believe how far I had to go.  A lot of people were out walking or biking and enjoying the decent weather.

Right around the 3 mile point, the trail kind of ends for a mile.  You have to run on the road.  The road did seem to beat up my legs some more.  I considered turning around, but kept going.  I really wanted to make sure I got at least 4 miles in before turning around.

When I got back to the trail in Bowmanstown, I was at the 4 mile point.  I didn't want to turn around and run a mile back on the pavement yet, so I kept going.  This wasn't bad, but as I approached mile 5, I was getting into some headwind.  I just battled on.

I turned around at 5 miles and it was hard to believe that I was only around 1/3 of the way done with the run.  Coming back was downhill, but for some reason my feet and legs really started bothering me.  It was odd.  I don't know if the stone they used in this section was a little different or what.  Getting back onto the road actually became a relief.

The road wasn't great, but I knew things would get better when I was back on to the stone trail.  That happened at 7 miles and it was a great change.  It was hard to imagine that I still had 8 miles to run at that point.  One of my problems is that other than my long runs, I don't run over 6 miles.  I need my second longest runs of the week to at least start going to 7 or 8 miles.  I get that far into the long run and I'm already hurting.

I knew I had to just keep plugging along and somehow I could make it.  I kept breaking the run down.  I just focused on getting to miles 8, then 9 and finally 10.  Getting to mile 10 would be huge because I would be back to my car and could grab a drink.  Being into the 2nd half of the run was huge.

As I was around 9.5 miles, I got a second wind of sorts.  Some of that was due to the fact that I was nearing the car.  I also think the trail was going slightly downhill.  It was still hard to imagine that I had over 5 miles to run.  Most of my miles were just over 8 minutes, but this 10th one dipped slightly under it at 7:59.

I got back to the car and grabbed some water.  I parked in the nature center lot and had a slight uphill to run.  I looped around the parking lot as I drank my water and then I threw the bottle back into the car. 

I then headed south on the trail.  I was hoping to go out 2.5 miles and come all the way back to finish.  That didn't last though.  They definitely built this section of the trail with a different type of stone.  Suddenly, my legs were getting very sore.  When I started this direction last time, the same thing happened.  I'll have to be careful when I go this direction in the future.

I made it to around 11 miles and turned around.  Again, I couldn't believe I still had 4 miles to go.  I just focused on small increments.  My time was slipping though.  I was in the 8:20s for quite a few of these miles.  I was now headed north and I wanted to make it to the half marathon point before turning around (13.1 miles).

I finally was turning around and heading back, but I still had almost 2 miles to go.  I just focused on getting to mile 14.  Eventually I did, but it seemed like it took forever.  The last mile seemed like it went on and on as well.  I was finally done though and relieved.

I couldn't believe how sore I was after the run.  Last week, I ran 14 miles and felt good.  That was on pavement too.  I only added 1 mile this week, but I felt so beatup.  The good thing is that my foot and calf, two areas that are normally a problem, aren't bothering me.  It is just an overall general soreness.  My lower back is quite sore.

After 5 straight days of running, I'm finally taking a day off.  I would've actually preferred to take today off and run tomorrow.  However, they are calling for 3-6 inches of snow.  That's crazy.  Hopefully it won't impact my Tuesday run in any way.  I'm not even sure what I'll be doing or where I'll be running then.

15 miles - 2:02:10 (8:09 pace)

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Nor-Bath Solo Run

I actually slept well on a Friday night for a change.  The problem was that the temperature was just brutal in the early morning.  It was supposed to be in the mid 20s with the wind chill in the teens.  I either had to battle that and run with the BCR or run on my own later, in some better weather.

I chose the second option.  I just am so sick of the cold and didn't want to have to deal with it again.  I started off an 11 AM and it was actually still cold.  I was glad that I didn't run earlier.  The sun was out, but as usual, it was still very windy.  Originally, I had on a ColdGear top, but I knew that with a jacket on top, that would be too much.  I wore a lightweight long sleeve shirt with a jacket and tights.  I also had on gloves and a headband.

Although I didn't run with the BCR, I did like their idea of where to run.  They ran at the Nor-Bath Trail and I decided to do the same.  It is a softer surface and nice and close.  Plus, I actually haven't been there in quite some time.

I started off a Bicentennial Park and headed west.  This start was so tough because it was right into a strong headwind.  I was freezing and had to battle to get anywhere.  That said, I still took off my gloves and headband pretty early on.

The first mile was a slow and comfortable 8:43.  I just took it easy.  Most of this path runs through fields was pretty uneventful.  There were a few people walking dogs, but not much else.  I just focused on getting to the turn around point.

I ran the second mile at 8:11.  Somewhere in this area, the trail is paved.  My sore calves definitely noticed the transition.  It was nice to get back onto the softer stuff later on.

At 2.5 miles, I turned around.  Going the other direction made such a different.  Suddenly, I was way overdressed and sweating like crazy.  I just continued to cruise along and countdown the mileage.  I was happy to get over all the road crossings with no issues.

The time for the third mile was 8:25 and the fourth was 8:09.  It felt good to nearly be done.  I also knew I was now over 30 miles for the week.  Technically, I came up just short of that last week.  This week, I finished with 32 miles.

I finished up right at Bicentennial Park with an 8:00 final mile.  It was good to be done.  There were a bunch of firetrucks at the park.  At first, I was confused.  Then I realized that people were putting Easter eggs in a field.  I guess some kids will be having fun this afternoon.

Spring just can't get here quick enough.  I dream of the days when I can wear shorts and short sleeves all the time.  I know they'll get here eventually, but this winter has been so draining.  I usually look forward to my runs, but I'm starting to get tired of them thanks to this weather.

I'm not sure yet if I'll run my long run tomorrow or on Monday.  I might run with Shayne and her friends on the St. Luke's Half Marathon course tomorrow.  Some of that could depend on when I get to sleep tonight after coming back from Hershey.  It will also depend on the weather and if I want to run that many miles on pavement.  I'm not sure, since my calves continue to be quite sore and I have now run four straight days.  A day off certainly wouldn't hurt, but I'd also like to run the course.  I might take my group run there later in the week, if I think it is a good idea.

5 miles - 41:28 (8:18 pace)

Friday, March 22, 2013

Keeping the Streak Alive

I headed out to Trexler for my run today.  The plan was just for a very easy run, 3 or at most 4 miles.  If I didn't have the streak going of running there every week, I wouldn't have made the trip out.  However, this is now my 9th week in a row going out there and 10th run in that time period.

As always, the weather kind of sucked at Trexler.  Just once, it would be nice to be able to run there in shorts and short sleeves.  Instead, it was long pants, a ColdGear top, a fleece vest, gloves and a headband.  As usual, the wind was just brutal at the Environmental Center.

I squeezed this run in at lunchtime.  I started off nice and easy for a change.  Sometimes, I probably go out too hard when I run at Trexler.  I pay for it on the early hill.  The hill was tough as always, but definitely seemed much easier than usual.  I made it up the first two segments of it with no breathing problems.  Those didn't arrive until the last third of the hill and even then I didn't slow too much.  This might have been the best that I've ever handled the hill.

I had to recover after the hill.  Breathing in some cold air didn't help.  This area was better as it wasn't nearly as windy as the top.  Still, it wasn't easy.  I did recover on the downhill and than ran uphill past the bison.  They were right out near the edge of their pen.  That was cool.  It was probably as close as I have ever been to them.  I remember that for the longest time I didn't see them outside, but they have been out all winter.

Some of the flat section after the bison area was tricky.  It always seems to be a little muddy.  I recovered well though.  I then finished up the 1st mile at 9:48.  That is probably around 30 seconds slower than I usually run it.  I was trying to survive the run though.

I came through the rock area and twisted my ankle a bit.  It bothered me for a minute or two, but it wasn't that bad.  It is always hard to see the rocks because this section is usually windy and my eyes water.  The rocks are also sharp.  On the way back, I ran around the rocks as much as possible.

I started up the long hill, but that didn't last.  Before I knew it, I was at 1.5 miles and headed back to the start.  The second half of the run was definitely going to be the tough part.  It was a lot more uphill.  Having partially run these hills last week, I knew that none of them would be tough on their own.  As a whole though, things would be difficult.

I nearly gave up before I barely even got going up the hills.  The short, but steep first hill usually crushes me.  I was already thinking of quitting before I even started the hill.  It wasn't that bad though and I made it to the top and then was on to a flatter section.  Getting past this hill and over the 2 mile point was a huge hurdle.

I just continued to take my time and cruise up the hills.  I haven't been able to make it back in this direction all winter.  I figured I could make most of the hills, but the last steep one back to the Environmental Center would be the real challenge.

Finally, I was on to the final hill.  Just as I expected, it was difficult.  It was tough to get some good footing too.  At 2.92 miles, I just gave up and turned around and ran back down the hill.  Then I had to go up a shorter hill to finish.  I was so close and disappointed that I had quit.  I just don't think I could've made it to the top though.  I really didn't want to have to walk. 

I didn't make it quite as far as I would've liked, but I made progress and was close.  I now know that I can go out farther and make it back since these last hills would be the hardest part.  Going farther out isn't much more difficult, until I get to the very steep hills near the end.

I really can't wait for some warmer weather.  I want to see what I can do.  I can't wait to run the whole loop and then improve upon that.  Today's weather was actually difficult because it was hot in the areas where there was no wind.  I was sweating quite a bit.

Tomorrow is the BCR run.  I am hoping to make it out.  As usual, that is dependent on my sleep tonight.  They are running nearby at the Nor-Bath Trail, so that should be easier to make it to.  On Sunday, Shayne is running the St. Luke's course.  I might join them, but I am worried about how my foot will hold up.  I don't know if it can handle 12 or more miles of pavement.  Rather than continuing to build up my miles, I probably just need to run 35 to 40 miles weekly for quite some time.  Maybe my body can adapt better.

3 miles - 28:25 (9:29 pace)

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Squeezing in a Run

Today, it was difficult to fit in my run.  I wanted to go out early in the morning and just run in the neighborhood near my house.  That would've allowed me to get done before work.  The problem was that I couldn't fall asleep last night.

I worked at lunch and then the NCAA Tournament was starting shortly after that.  Add on top of that that my sister was bringing her cat over in the early afternoon and I was heading to a Drexel women's basketball game later in the evening and I didn't have too many options for when to run.

I really wanted to see at least a good portion of Bucknell's game.  Since I was working near home, I was able to come straight home after work.  That gave me some time to rush out the door and squeeze in 4 or 5 miles.

When I was standing outside before the run, I thought it was warm.  I threw on just shorts and a short sleeve shirt.  It wasn't quite that warm and I should've actually had on a long sleeve shirt.  I managed to survive though.  It was more of the typical weather you would expect on an early spring day.  There was some sun and decent temperatures, but still wind too.

I started almost immediately and began running through the other neighborhood.  There aren't any killer hills, but there are a lot of rolling hills that aren't easy.  Almost immediately, I was into a headwind and freezing.  I had to just battle through it.

The first mile was tough.  My legs were still quite sore from yesterday's run.  My calves continue to bother me.  The biggest concern is my foot began acting up.  It almost caused me to consider quitting.  I definitely need watch how much time I spend on pavement.

Most of the way out was into the headwind.  It got a little better after I warmed up.  Still, it wasn't fun and I had to work too hard.  It was a double whammy whenever I had the wind in my face and was going over a hill.  That happened a few times.  The first mile was a slow 8:23.

My legs slowly started coming around with each passing mile.  I did sort of enjoyed this run because I don't run the route very often anymore.  It used to be a staple in my early running days after high school.  Now, I just don't want to have to deal with dogs.  Thankfully, there weren't any of them today.  The second mile was a faster 8:01.

Between miles 2 and 3 were some of the toughest hills.  The steepest one occurs in another neighborhood after crossing a main road.  This one is quite tough.  It is short though.  Going back over the road was another gradual one.  There seemed to be a lot of wind going this direction too.  I think there was a lot of wind coming from the side, not just head on.

I went up a very long hill and continued to feel stronger and better.  Mile 3 and 4 mile each got faster at, 7:55 and 7:46 respectively.  I got done with mile 4 almost exactly at the same location as mile 2 on the Blue Eagle 5K course.  That meant that I would have about a mile back to the elementary school next to my house.

The last mile flew by and I felt alright.  My calf was getting sore again, but I wasn't about to stop at this point.  I finished up with my fastest mile yet at 7:34.  Every mile throughout the run was progressively faster.  I was back in time to take on the rest of my day.

I did have to stretch and massage my calf a lot afterward.  I do have to keep an eye on it.  Maybe I'll have to back off a little bit soon.  While I'm grateful that I don't have major injuries, all these minor problems that I seem to get are annoying.

Tomorrow, I'll have to figure out my schedule again.  I want to run at Trexler.  I'm definitely not going that far out early in the morning.  I'll be there at some point in the afternoon.  It might depend on what the NCAA games are on.  On Saturday, the BCR is running nearby at the Nor-Bath Trail.  Hopefully I can make it there.

5 miles - 39:37 (7:56 pace)

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

First Day of Spring...HA!

Well, today is officially the first day of spring.  It would be nice if it felt like spring.  Today wasn't the worst weather of the winter because the sun has been out and the temperature has been in the low 40s.  However, the wind was still brutal.  It is definitely up there with some of the worst wind of the whole winter.

Getting a gauge on the wind before my run was tough.  There were some extreme gusts, but not a lot of sustained wind.  One moment, it would feel like a great spring day.  The next moment, it would feel like winter all over again.

The plan for the day was to try running 800 meter repeats.  Since I was planning for some fast running, I went with shorts and a lightweight long sleeve shirt.  I probably wouldn't thrown a jacket on over that if I didn't plan on running so hard.

Last week, I ran 5 repeats, so today I was hoping to do 6.  I followed a guy out of the parking lot and onto the Saucon Rail Trail.  He was definitely overdressed.  I was only warming up, but I blew right by him.  Having someone there to sort of pull me along probably got my legs going faster at the start.

Normally, I can tell how a fast run will go due to how I feel in the warm up.  The wind was a big X factor today though.  The legs actually felt great, but I started off running right into a strong head wind.  I wasn't working all that hard, but my breathing was still heavy, thanks to the cold air blowing in my face.  It wasn't ideal.

I started off into the headwind on my first repeat.  It took quite the effort battling the wind.  I wasn't sure if I could even last the full 800.  I managed to, but it was a pedestrian 7:01 pace.  Last week, I started out too fast.  That certainly wouldn't happen again this week.

The first repeat was so bad that I considered turning around already and either changing the workout up somehow or scrapping it altogether.  I said to myself, let's battle through one more repeat and then we can turn around and have the wind at our back.

The second repeat was even tougher.  I had to navigate around a guy on the trail.  I just pushed and pushed.  The wind was pounding me again though.  Also, going out on this trail is slightly uphill.  I like that on a calm day, but today it really sucked.  I came through that second repeat at an even worse 7:08 pace.

I went out about .1 miles and then turned around to continue with my 400 meter recovery in between reps.  I could already tell that going the other direction with the wind at my back would be significantly better.  The only real question was whether the first two repeats into the wind took too much out of me.

I started off the third repeat feeling great.  This one definitely seemed to go by faster than the first two as well.  Before I knew it, I was at .33 miles.  From this point on, getting to .5 miles was a little tough in each repeat.  I still managed to do it though.  Going in this direction, I knew there was no question that I'd at least get another repeat in.  The third one was so much faster than the first two.  It was a 6:41 pace.  I was very happy.

With the wind at my back, I could breath even better during the recovery portions.  The same thing happened in the fourth repeat.  I was strong at the beginning and faded just a bit towards the end.  The windy first two repeats surely took something out of me.  Toward the end of this repeat, I began developing a side stitch.  Still, I was happy to come through this repeat at an even faster 6:38.  These past two repeats are right around where I would hope that I my average pace would be right now on a normal day.

After the fourth rep, I was quite exhausted.  I didn't quite know if I had one more in me or not.  Just like last week, I decided that I had to at least start this repeat and see how things went.  If the tank was running on empty, I would quit.  If I felt good, I would press on.  I didn't feel great, but the number on my watch was making me happy.  At one point, it was under a 6:30 pace.  Again, I slid off a bit at the end of the repeat.  I definitely need to get a little stronger.  The pace for this final one was another pretty consistent 6:42.

I finished up with only a half mile cool down.  I didn't want to run any more than that in the wind.  A school bus waited for me at a road crossing.  That is the second time that happened during this run.  I was glad that I didn't have to stop for any traffic, especially during the fast segments.  That can really throw things off.

My legs felt pretty good after the run.  I took my baseball cap off my head and noticed that it was soaked.  I didn't realize how much I was sweating.  I felt quite exhausted, so I just sat in the car for a few minutes.  It was a good workout.

I didn't get as many repeats as I had hoped for, but I was happy to be more consistent today and not fade as much as last week.  Considering the windy conditions, I am happy with how it went.  I don't have the endurance that I did in the fall when I had a lot of speedwork under my belt and was running high mileage, but I feel like my raw speed is much better now.  That should allow me to run even faster when I begin adapting to fast running.  Some good weather would be nice too.  For now, I'll just deal with whatever we have.

I'm not sure what the plan is over the next few days.  I need to get three more runs in the rest of the week and one of them needs to be at Trexler.  I'm also going to a Drexel WNIT game tomorrow night and then to Hershey on Saturday for the high school state basketball tournament.  I'll have to figure it all out.  I might run in the parkway tomorrow afternoon, since I haven't done it in some time.  One thing that is frustrating is that I had two people commit to the group run for tomorrow night, but I won't be there and we won't have a group run leader.

5 miles - 38:12 (7:38 pace)

Monday, March 18, 2013

Looping Around Easton

I needed a day off on Sunday, so that I didn't run too many consecutive days.  That meant that my long run would be Monday (today).  I didn't have to work today, so that turned out great and gave me some extra free time for the run.

When I was on facebook the other day, my friend Tom posted a map of Easton and a route they were planning to run for a long run on Sunday.  It made me realize that I could basically run a nice, long loop around the perimeter of Easton.  They ran that route yesterday and I altered it a little.  They were on more roads and started from a different location than me, but it was generally the same idea.

The great thing about this new loop is that it basically goes from one paved trail to another.  I wouldn't have to spend too much time on the roads.  The other nice thing is that it is a loop.  Running long out and back routes can be kind of boring because you are retracing your steps.  Here, I wouldn't run past the same place twice.

The other important thing with the run was to make sure I got it in before it snowed.  I started around 1 PM and was able to beat the snow.  I'm sure glad I did because it is coming down very heavy already and sticking to the roads too.

Even though the snow had not arrived yet, it was still very cold and rather windy.  Just another typical winter day.  It wasn't as bad as a lot of the days that we've had this year though.  I had on a ColdGear top and a jacket over top, but I could tell that that would be too much.  I went with a lighter top underneath the jacket.  Of course, I still had on long pants, gloves and a headband.  It was definitely the proper attire.

I started off at Riverview Park in Easton, just off of 25th street.  I headed out along the road briefly.  When I ran 18 miles with Sarah a couple months back, we went this way to the canal towpath.  Prior to that, I had no clue how to get to the D&L Trail in that direction.  I had to cross over a bridge to Hugh Moore Park.  I then headed east along the towpath.

This section isn't bad, but it isn't great.  It is nice because it is along the water.  It isn't so nice because there is a lot of industrial activity in the area.  It was very noisy, not peaceful at all.  The south side of Easton is a shady neighborhood too.  This area is where the marathon that I plan on running in September finishes up, so it was good practice running through there.

The one thing I wasn't crazy about with this run was all the pavement.  I'm trying to avoid pavement as often as I can.  I just couldn't pass up this cool of a route though.  I was sore in the first mile.  Then at right around mile 2, I came to a stone path.  I took it because it eventually meets up with the paved path again.  This turned out to be a good choice because my legs started to come around and feel much better.  The early miles always seemed to be tough, until my legs are warmed up.

I passed a guy walking a dog and a couple out on a walk.  In this cold weather and on a Monday afternoon, most of the miles were logged solo.  Before I knew it, I was near downtown Easton.  I crossed over the bridge and headed down Larry Holmes Drive.  This was a nice and scenic portion of the run along the Delaware River and next to downtown Easton.  I continued on the trail under the free bridge and then under Route 22.

I then headed back west after crossing over a road.  I made my way toward the relatively new Karl Stirner Arts Trail.  That is a nice trail that follows the old railroad bed.  It goes behind some old factories.  This section was great because the headwind that I was running into earlier was now behind me.  I actually was sweating a lot.  I even had to open my jacket.  My gloves and headband had come off earlier.

At this point, I wasn't feeling bad, but I can't say I was feeling great either.  I would've liked to have felt stronger.  I was only about 5 miles into the 13 mile run.  My times were fairly consistent.  The first 2 miles were in the 8:40s, but the next 4 were well under than with a fastest mile of 8:09.  With the cold and wind and more clothes, I was definitely not as fast as last week.  Plus, I started off slower than last week.

One thing I enjoyed with the run was being able to kind of break it down into segments.  Since I went from trail to trail, I could just focus on the next trail.  I went along Bushkill Drive briefly, but then headed behind some apartments along the creek and picked up a dirt section of trail.  I had walked through this area just yesterday.

I then came out to Hackett's Park.  This was one thing I was dreading.  Climbing to the park would be a challenge.  It was really the only significant hill of the entire run though.  I was surely huffing and puffing at the top.  It wasn't easy 7 miles into the run.  In the park area, it levels off a bit and then there is short climb on the road again.  I crossed the road and knew I was in for some downhill fun.  That 7th mile with the climb was the slowest of the run at 8:46.

After Hackett's Park was one of the fun parts of the run.  It was a fast and winding downhill and then I crossed over Route 22 on a pedestrian bridge.  That was certainly cooler than going under the highways.  I ran through a park and had some more climbing.  At least this section was gradual.

On this uphill, I ran near a factory of some type which smelled funny.  I noticed that I could see my breath.  I thought that was odd because I hadn't seen it at all before and shortly after I passed the factory, it went away again.  I'm guessing I was breathing in some polluted air.

I crossed the road behind Taco Bell (which they are rebuilding) easily, but going across the road by Easton High School was a different story.  I ran along the road instead, until it was clear.  This section near the high school was the trickiest because it is the busiest road crossings by far.  I wasn't held up at either one though.

The hardest miles in long runs like this are often the first half of the run.  Once I get to the second half, I count down and think of how much closer I am to finishing.  At this point, I was 9 miles into the run and feeling pretty good.

I then headed along the trail through neighborhoods.  That would be the setting for quite some time.  There are a couple parks along the way too.  I like this area, except that the trail could use some new pavement.  I had to slow a little at some of these road crossings, but didn't do too bad.

This section was nice too because it was a gradual downhill.  It allowed my body to recover much more.  I'm not sure I could've handled any uphill running at this point.  I was still starting to get sore.  My biggest area of concern was my left foot.  It hurt mildly with every impact.  It had not been bothering me since the fall, so I had to watch it.

They were doing some construction along the trail, so I had to run on the roads around that section.  I then got back on the trail.  I crossed over the road on an old train bridge and was then heading toward the Route 33 Boat Launch.  The trail to the Boat Launch is very curvy.  It seems like it takes forever.

Eventually I came up to mile 12.  I was still pretty far from Riverview Park and wasn't feeling too bad, so I knew that I would run to 14 miles.  Otherwise, I would have had a ton of walking to do.  Even at 14 miles, I would have to walk quite a bit in the cold aferward.

I was sore at this point, especially my foot, but the downhill was a big help.  I was flying down it.  I thought the trail was steeper than it was, but it was still a nice downhill.  It was just more gradual.  I hit 13 miles and kept on going.  When I finally met back up with the D&L, I still had half a mile until the 14 mile point.  I got there in no time and it felt good to be done.

The big problem now was that I still had over a mile to walk back to my car.  The wind was in my face again too and I was cold.  When I got to the tunnel by the Chain Dam, I actually huddled there to get warm and stretch.  I was almost to my car at that point.  If I would've brought my full winter hat with me, that would've helped with the walk.

It was a great route and I might have to do it again for long runs.  The pavement is the only thing I'm not crazy about, but really that isn't too bad.  The mostly downhill finish and the lack of hills is great for a long run.  A loop is much better than an out and back.

I am working tomorrow and going to some basketball games an hour away in the evening, so I'll have to see if I can fit in a run.  I would love to do some speedwork, but I doubt that will be happening after today's long run.  I'm sure I'll be sore.  I might just end up running down near the games or possibly just skip the run until Wednesday.  I'll have to decide later.

14 miles - 1:57:02 (8:22 pace)

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Snow Run Near Reading

I wasn't able to fall asleep last night, so I knew I wouldn't wake up this morning.  That meant no BCR run and that I would have to fit in my run some other time.  I was heading to Reading for the 2nd time this week for some afternoon high school basketball.  I decided to pack the sneakers and gear again and try running there.  It is nice to be able to run on the go.

The plan was to just get in 4 miles to hit 30 total miles for the week.  It wasn't as cold as it has been, but it was cold enough that it snowed most of the day.  The snow stuck to the grass and here and there on the roads.

I looked at places to run near Reading last night.  I saw that there was a Muhlenberg Rail Trail north of the city.  I sort of knew where it was located and how to get there in general, but I wasn't sure exactly.  It was a perfect size because it is only 1.75 miles long.

I didn't feel great after the basketball games.  My right hamstring was sore.  I didn't drink much, so I think I was dehydrated.  With the snow, I wasn't crazy about running.  I figured that I would just head in the direction of the trail and see if I could find it.  If I couldn't, it would be no running for me today.

I wasn't sure where I was at one point, so I stopped and hooked up my GPS.  Having the map there, I then headed in what I thought was the correct direction.  My instincts were right and with half a mile, I found the parking lot and the trailhead.

I wasn't crazy about running the snow, but I figured I could manage 4 easy miles.  That would be over quickly and then I could be done for the week.

It wasn't that cold, so I wasn't going to wear a jacket.  As I changed clothes, it began to snow or sleet kind of heavy.  I opted for a jacket, gloves and headband to go along with my tights.  I also threw on a hat to keep the snow out of my eyes.

I started off nice and slow.  My calves were a little tight.  This route goes behind some houses and next to a few parks.  It is a very plain Jane run, but that's all I needed.  The snow made the setting a little nice.

The beginning of the trail had no snow.  Running there wasn't too bad.  The problem was when I got farther down the trail.  I don't know if it was different pavement or what, but the trail was snow covered.

There wasn't a lot of snow, but it was just enough to be annoying.  It made the footing a little tough and slippery.  Running was a slow go.  I tried to make fresh footprints.  That seemed to help.  I came across a couple kids walking on the trail, but few people were out.

Before I knew it, I was at the end of the trail.  I came across a guy heading onto the trail.  I was at 1.7 miles into the run.  I decided I would run on the road until I hit the 2 mile point.  Earlier, I had thought about seeing if I could run on the road instead of the trail.  I thought they might be clearer.  Now that I was on the road, I'm glad I didn't run on roads any more than I had to.  They were full of slush.  My sock got soaked and I had to puddle hop.

I then headed back and most of the run was uneventful.  It was just the same old boring trail.  I kept looking at my watch and watching the mileage tick off.  The footing wasn't great, but the miles did get faster and faster throughout the run.  The 1st one was 9:15, the 2nd one was 8:34, the 3rd one was 8:21 and the final mile was an 8:01.

The only interesting thing on the way back was a couple dogs out in a yard near the end.  They barked at me on the way out, but I had forgotten about them.  They ended up scaring the crap out of me.  I was done shortly after that and glad to be through the week.  My Garmin does say I only ran 29.99 miles this week.  Maybe I should go back out and run .01 miles.

Tomorrow will be an off day after 3 straight days of running.  I'm hoping for a long run on Monday.  It will likely be 13 and probably at the D&L Trail somewhere.  I look forward to another good week.  I feel like I'm making progress. 

4 miles - 34:11 (8:33 pace)

Friday, March 15, 2013

Some Improvement at Trexler

Yesterday's strong wind hung around for another day.  Nevertheless, I was off to Trexler for my weekly run there.  That makes it 8 weeks in a row now.  It is about 4 months until the Quadzilla 15K.  I can't wait!

I was hoping for 4 miles of running, but with the wind and hills, I just wasn't sure.  I planned on starting at the Environmental Center and heading the normal direction.  I figured that I could at least make it 2 miles out and then head back.  Coming back is much more hilly.

I knew going out wouldn't be too difficult.  I am so used to the first couple miles at this point.  I haven't run back all that often though.  When I did, it was during the extreme winter conditions, with snow on the ground.

I headed out against the incredible wind.  I wore shorts because it was actually sort of warm, especially when the sun was out.  It was so windy that I need a long sleeve shirt and a jacket over it.  I had on gloves and a headband too, but they came off quickly.

The wind was a pain, but it usually gets better after a short while.  I got to the giant hill and was feeling good.  The wind was making me breathing a little heavy, even on the downhill.  Still, I was feeling alright in general.

The massive early uphill is always a challenge.  That was especially the case throughout the winter with all the snow and ice.  With the trail clear today, things were much better.  I would still never call the big hill easy, but it was much easier than it has been.  I really didn't struggle with it until the final third.  Even then, it didn't bother me a lot.  It just slowed me down.  I haven't made it up this hill this well in a long time, if ever.  Maybe I am getting stronger.

As usual, it took a while to recover.  I slipped a little in sections where the trail was still muddy, but overall I did well.  I got to the rocky section after the downhill and had fun there.  I was impressed when I saw that mile 1 was 9:05.  That is pretty fast, especially with the big uphill.

After the rocks, I was on to the long climb.  I don't mind this section, except that in the winter there is always a strong wind.  It was right in my face and made climbing difficult.  I was nearly at 1.5 miles.  I knew I had to keep plugging along.

After the first section, this hill does get easier.  That is largely because the wind is gone.  It also isn't as steep after the first part.  I got to the top of that part and had some brief recovery.

I continued to climb gradually.  I then came across two dogs in the yard above the trail.  They were barking at me and running around like crazy.  Luckily, they couldn't get over the fence.  They were annoying and broke up this peaceful run.  I continued on.

Shortly before hitting mile 2 and the turnaround point, I came to another house with 2 dogs.  I guess that is a theme along the trail.  These dogs could only bark too.  I was very happy for that.  I didn't need any dogs chasing after me.  Mile 2 was an even faster 8:32.  I'm impressed with how well I can run uphill on this course.

I turned around and encountered both sets of dogs again.  Now, I was going downhill and away from the wind.  It was great.  I was sweating quite a bit though.  Before I knew it, I was back over the rocks.

I knew that going back into the zoo area would be tough.  From there to the Environmental Center is a lot of uphill running.  The trickiest part is the short, but steep uphill right after the pavement.  This is very short, but it had me increbily winded.  I got to the top.  It was a struggle though.  Right at the top, I hit mile 3.  This was an even more amazingly fast 8:15.

Three miles were now in the books.  However, I knew as I climbed the hill that I was just about done.  Knowing all the upcoming hills, I just threw in the towel.  I did have more left in the tank, but I'm my own worst enemy.  I don't like to quit in the middle of a mile.  That would've surely happened if I continued on.  I also don't like to walk.  That left few other options.  I just quit.

The good thing I did was run the remaining hills untimed.  At least that allowed me to improve my breathing some and my legs hopefully got stronger.  Most of the hills weren't too tough on their own, but together, I would've never made it over them.  The last one by the Environmental Center was very difficult.  I barely made it to the top of that one.

I have already run some fairly significant mileage and I wanted at minimum 3 miles today, so I got that accomplished.  I didn't need to kill myself.  At the same time, I should push on a little more, or at least give myself brief walking breaks.

On the plus side, I felt strong in those first 3 miles.  I haven't felt that good at Trexler in so long.  I'm getting faster and stronger.  I need to keep building up more.  I also shouldn't give in so easy.  When the weather gets better, I need to run the entire loop (even if that involves some walking).  I should do some faster runs there too.  During the Quadzilla race, Angie and Stan were walking uphill and ran flats and downhills.  I should consider doing the opposite, running uphill and flats, but walking downhill to recover.  That could give me some strength.

It was a mixed day, but was happy to get out to Trexler and I feel like I'm doing better.  I can't wait for winter to completely leave.  It sounds like there could be some AM snow tomorrow.  Maybe one day it will be nice out.

I'm hoping to get up in a few hours and run with the BCR group.  I haven't been there in a couple weeks.  They are running at the Route 33 Boat Launch.  I'd like to run an easy 5 or 6 miles.  We'll see how it goes.  That would be my 3rd straight day running.  Sunday will finally be an off day.

3 miles - 25:21 (8:37 pace)

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Winter Won't Leave

I was too busy yesterday, so I didn't run.  That means I'll have 3 straight days of running.  That started out today with the LVRR Group Run.  We finally have daylight for this run, thanks to moving the clocks.  Unfortunately, winter decided to make an appearance tonight.

After about a week of nice weather, it looked like we might be turning the corner.  Instead, it was extremely windy and cold again today.  The temperature was in the mid 30s with a windchill making it feel about 10 degrees colder.  It was definitely among the worst days of this winter and very frustrating.  There was one run on the Saucon Rail Trail that was colder, but that was all that I can remember that was definitely worse.

I wore the usual cold weather gear.  I had on my ColdGear top and long pants.  I wore a fleece vest and had gloves and a headband on.  With the sun out, it wasn't quite cold enough for a full hat.  The sun was the only thing that made the run bearable.

Not surprisingly, no one showed up to join me again.  I really need some daylight and good weather to get this run cranking.  Since I was alone and didn't want to run in the windy South Bethlehem area, I decided to head over to the Saucon Rail Trail.  That gave me a softer surface to run on too.

I started off at Water Street, like I usually do.  I went nice and slow.  I was tired this afternoon and had little energy, so I was glad there was no one there to push me.  Even though I felt like I was barely moving, I was surprised to see my pace at 8:17 early on.  I did slow down and came through the first mile at 8:36.

I just cruised along and tried to enjoy the run as much as I could.  The wind seemed to always be there though.  I rarely caught a break from it.  I just pushed along.  Early on, there was a firing range nearby.  That was kind of annoying and it sure destroyed the peace of running.  I'm just glad I don't live near there.

The second mile wasn't easy.  The plan was to go out 2 miles and then head back for 4 miles total.  I was also hoping maybe I could get 5 miles in.  Even though I wasn't doing all that great when I got to mile 2, I kept going.  The wind had died briefly.  When I ran there with Shayne during the group run a couple weeks ago, coming back was much easier than going back.  I figured I could battle to mile 2.5 and things would get better.

I turned around at that point and then really started flying.  The course definitely goes downhill on the way back.  I certainly wasn't pushing any harder or even very hard at all.  It was nice and easy.  That third mile dropped to an 8:13.

My pace kept falling and I felt better and better as the run went along.  Mile 4 was very speedy.  It was a 7:52.  Before I knew it, I was nearing the final road crossing.  I had a lot of wind in my face as I finished up at the Water Street Park.  That last mile was a faster 7:40.  It felt good to be done.

Again, my calf was a little sore.  I wish I could run without any soreness.  Maybe if I lose some weight.  That is something I really need to work on.  I definitely need to add a lot more exercising to my routine.  Whether that is another run or biking, it doesn't matter.  I need to do something.  I'm getting quite fat.  I've put on almost 60 pounds in the last year.  I'm nearly up to the heaviest weight I ever was.  That's pretty crazy too, considering how much I run.

I know I need to eat better.  Nutrition is just so frustrating.  It takes so much effort to learn what is good to eat and what isn't.  It is also annoying trying to find those healthy things to eat.  I wish we lived in a country where I could eat "normal" and eat healthy.  The more likely solution to my weight gain problem is to workout more.  That is something I can commit more to.  I'm definitely not eating well, but I also have to think that the medicine that I'm on for my Crohn's Disease is part of the issue with my weight gain as well.

Tomorrow, I'm hoping to make my weekly trip to Trexler.  If I get some time, I'd also like to try to fix my flat bike tire.  When it gets warmer out, there will be no excuses for not riding.  I think I might use the bike training portion of a Half Ironman training plan and incorporate that in with my running.  Maybe that will allow me to burn more calories, lose more weight, get stronger and fitter and of course run faster too.  I definitely need to "up" my training.

5 miles - 40:49 (8:10 pace)

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Running in Reading

One of the great things about running is that you can do it anywhere.  I was going to run at home today, but that didn't fit into the schedule.  The problem was that before work, during work and immediately after it, it was supposed to pour.  It sure did too.

I was heading to Reading for the Nazareth girls basketball game at 5 PM.  When I looked at the forecast for Reading, I saw that the rain would end early in the afternoon.  I thought, why not run there?  I packed my bags and headed there right after work.

Things worked out perfectly.  I had to find somewhere to change, but right as I was ready to start my run, at 2:30 PM, the rain stopped.  It was still cloudy, but quite warm.  The temperature was in the 50s, so I wore my shorts and a short sleeve shirt.

When I was in Reading a month ago, I stumbled upon a park area by a museum.  As I was looking for places to run, I saw this area.  I also saw that it linked with the Schuylkill River Trail.  I decided to run there.  The thing I needed was a paved path.  Although I'm trying to stay off of paved surfaces, a stone trail might be too soft after heavy rains.

I looked at the map and headed off on the Wyomissing Creek Trail.  It linked up with the Schuylkill River Trail about a mile into the route.  I wanted to do some speedwork today.  The plan was to run 800 repeats.

The thing that I was tricky was not knowing the terrain.  It would've made the run a little easier if I did.  Thankfully, most of the trail was pavement, but some of it was beat up and bumpy.  It also was curvy.  That's not ideal for speedwork.

The section of the trail near the museum was beautiful and the landscaping was spectacular.  I had to wait at a light to cross the road.  The trail then went around a park with a pool.  This area along the creek was nice too.

It didn't take too long for things to change.  Reading is a rough city and that was the case along a lot of the run.  It went through some industrial and run down areas.  There was a lot of graffiti.  It didn't seem too dangerous, but I wouldn't want to be hanging out in the area at night.

The trail crossed over the Schuylkill River and shortly after that, it was time to begin the 800s.  The first one was a little tough, but I felt pretty good.  My breathing was definitely heavy.  I didn't feel like I went out too hard.  I was very impressed when it ended with a 6:27 pace.

I still needed all the recovery I could get.  The second repeat was certainly tough.  My paced dropped, but I was still quite happy with it.  It was a 6:40.  I knew I was slipping though.  Somewhere around this point, the trail hit a dead end.  It must've went a different way.  I was beat, so I wasn't going to worry about doing too many repeats.  I had hoped for 6 of them, but 4 would be enough.  I opted to just turn around.

The way back was even tougher.  Not only was I tiring, but the wind was in my face.  I had to work harder.  I just kept pushing.  I couldn't keep this one under a 7 minute pace though.  It ended at a 7:02.

The good thing is that time was sure flying by.  Before I knew it, I was on to my 4th repeat.  This one took me back across the river.  I was at least able to hold this one fairly consistent when compared to the previous one.  It was a 7:01 pace.

I figured that I was done at this point.  I recovered well though and I was back near the pool.  I decided why not just run hard again.  If I felt like quitting before half a mile, then I would do so.  I continued on.  It wasn't easy, but that was fine by me.  When I got to the road crossing by the museum, I had the green light, so I kept going.  The curvy path of the park by the museum slowed me down.  I also came to a flooded section of the trail, so I took another part of the trail.  That was even worse and my feet got soaked.  I was done shortly after that though.  The pace for that segment was a very slow 7:17.  It was good to push myself through the extra repeat though.

Clearly I didn't hold back enough in the first repeat.  I was still happy with my progress.  I just need to get back to running hard again.  I was very happy with the opening 800 that had a 6:27 pace.  Now, I have to string some of those together.  I need to get my 5K pace just under that, so that I can break 20 minutes again.

I continued my cool down in this park area.  It was nice and peaceful.  I watched a couple ducks float down the fast moving water.  My feet got soaked again in another flooded section.  I cooled down for a mile and a half.  Finally, I was done with six miles in the books.  I need workouts like this to get faster.

Needless to say, my legs were quite sore after the run.  I stretched them out.  After sitting through three basketball games, my calf is bothering me a little.  Maybe some more massaging and stretching will help.

I'm not sure what my plan is for tomorrow.  I may or may not run.  I might try to squeeze in another run after work.  I want to run at Trexler though.  That might not happen tomorrow.  I'm driving a couple hours to the Patriot League Championship Game at Bucknell.  If I don't run at Trexler tomorrow, then I'll need to get out there Friday.  That is definitely a possibility.

6 miles - 48:28 (8:05 pace)

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Amazing Day and Run

 After running a poor 5K yesterday, I headed out for a long run today.  Last week, I ran 10 miles.  That was my first double digit run in some time.  I planned on running 12 miles today.  I decided that I would run the D&L Trail starting at Cove Road.  That way I could do some out and back runs in each direction.

For the 2nd day in a row, the weather was beautiful.  It is amazing what that does when we get the first warm weekend in months.  The Cementon trailhead was packed like I've never seen before and Cove Road was crowded too.  When I left, cars had to park in the grass there.  Everyone came out of the woodwork for this warm weather.  Most of them were walkers, bikers and dog walkers.  There weren't too many runners.  I rarely see anyone on this trail, so I welcomed the crowd.  The temperature was in the low 50s.  Of course I wore short sleeves and shorts.

I started off heading north.  Even though that is an uphill start, I prefer that direction.  It isn't a killer hill.  It is just a long and gradual one.  There was a woman that ran by me as I was at my car about to leave for the run.  That was both good and bad.  It was good because it gave me someone to chase down.  It was bad because it was so early in the run.  When I lived in Philly, I used to have people to catch all of the time.  Here, that rarely happens.

I wasn't trying hard to catch the woman, but it is only natural to run a little faster when there is another runner up ahead of you and you are faster than they are.  I slowly reeled her in.  I felt pretty good early on.  I caught and passed her right around the 1 mile mark.  That first mile was an 8:05.

Right around where I passed her were some tough trail conditions.  I guess it is an area that doesn't get a lot of sun.  The trail was soggy and wet and made running kind of difficult.  I got through it though.

These first few miles on the run were so tough.  I ran maybe a little faster than I should have.  I certainly wasn't pushing it though.  It was probably between an easy pace and a moderate pace.  With some sun, good temperatures, nice scenery around the river, and all the people, this was a fun run.  Much, much better than the harsh winter runs of recent weeks.

I just tried to stay focused on each upcoming mile.  My legs felt okay.  They weren't terrible or great.  I had some soreness in the inside of both calves.  It wasn't enough to bother me too much, so I kept plugging along.

I wanted to get to the 4 mile point before turning around.  That was the minimum.  If I did that, then I would only have 4 miles left to run in the other direction.  I focused on getting to 4 miles, but it wasn't easy.  There was a little breeze, which at times felt good and other times it was annoying.

I passed so many families out either walking or biking.  It was so energizing.  I wish they would come out all year long.  Somewhere around 3.5 miles, I got a glimpse of the mountains and the Lehigh Gap.  That was cool and I knew I was closing in on Slatington.  I wasn't going to run all the way to the gap, but thought maybe I would continue on to Slatington.  Miles 2 and 3 were a fast 7:38 and 7:42.  There must have been some downhill there.  Mile 4 was much slower at 8:39.  That was by far my slowest mile.  My pace was generally pretty consistent.

When I got to mile 4, I was hurting some, but I knew I could make it to mile 5.  If I did that, at least I'd have to run or walk 10 total miles to get back to my car.  That usually forces me to keep running.  I was going to turn around at mile 5, but right as I got there there was a lady walking a baby.  It would've been weird to turn around right at that spot, so I kept going.

At this point, I was close to the Slatington Trailhead.  I decided to just run there until I got to the road crossing.  Then I could turn around.  I looped through the parking area and headed back down south.  Heading that way wasn't a lot of fun.  It took some getting used to the wind.  It was stronger in this direction and blowing in my face.  I wish it blew in this direction during my fall half marathon.  After running just over 5 miles, I was pretty beat up.  I wondered how I could last and make it through 7 more miles, or at a minimum 5 more miles.

The key as always was just to focus on the next mile or two.  I got to mile 7 and that was a big mental hurdle.  I now knew that it would only be less than a 5K until I hit double digits.  I thought about getting to mile 8 and then mile 9 (3/4 of the way through the run).

I found another fun thing to do to keep me focused.  I saw my watch at 5.55 miles, I missed it at 6.66 miles, but I saw it again at 7.77 miles.  From then on, I focused on getting 1.11 miles farther.  Hitting mile 9.99 was a goal.  The time for mile 8 was back to an 8:01.  I thought maybe I was slipping.  I was happy to get that far at under an 8 minute overall pace.

There is a stable with a couple horses right next to the trail at one point.  As I came to that area, I saw 2 people were actually riding the horses in front of me at the road crossing.  That was cool and I had no trouble getting around them.

I was thrilled when I got to mile 9.  The only issue was that this area was sloppy again.  I could feel the tire tracks from the bikes that had gone through before me.  The softness of the trail as well as the downhill of this section, made it kind of easy.  It was definitely better than I was feeling earlier.  I knew at this point, I would get to 10 miles.  Could I run another 2?

My lungs were a problem yesterday, but at this pace today, there was no issue.  The issue was my sore legs.  I felt like I was slowing down and falling apart, but my times showed otherwise.  I was still going strong.

I got to mile 10 and ran that one in 7:54.  I wasn't quite back to the Cove Road Trailhead, but I was close.  I continued on past the parking area.  A woman was running from the parking lot.  Even though my legs were struggling, that gave me another thing to focus on.  I wanted to catch her before turning around a little after the 11 mile point.

It is amazing how legs can go just as far as they have in a recent long run.  Then, when you go past that point, they get very sore.  That was the case when I passed the 10 mile mark.  My lower back started to get sore as well, but I had to keep going.

I ran hard when I got to the woman.  I wanted to make the pass happen quickly, so that I could slow myself down a little after it.  I almost sprinted by here.  A little while later, a guy was walking his small dog in the other direction.  It looked like it wanted run with me.

The plan was to get to get to somewhere between 11.25 miles to 11.5 miles and then turn around.  There is a house about a mile south from the Cove Road Trailhead.  Their dogs are always out and they always run over to the fence and start barking.  They did that again today, so I turned right around at 11.26 miles.  They have yet to chase me, but I'm not taking a chance.

Coming back for the final 3/4 of a mile was hard.  It was back uphill and I was physically destroyed.  I went by the guy with the small dog and the dog ran with me briefly.  That was kind of cute.  It then went back to its owner.

I struggled through the finish.  I kept looking down at my watch and counted off every .05 miles or every .1 miles.  Eventually I was done with a strong final mile.  It was run at 7:45.  Only 3 of the 12 miles were over an 8 minute pace.  Two of them were barely over 8 minutes.  That was consistent.

It was a great run.  My last mile of the 5K was a 7:57 and my pace for the entire run today was 7:55.  That shows that I have some good endurance at a comfortable pace, but I need to be able to extend my faster pace.  I learned a lot with both of these runs this weekend.  I'm now ready and prepared to take what I've learned and improve my running throughout the spring.

When I was back at the parking lot, I saw the woman from the beginning of the run.  She was walking now, but I was still impressed.  She had started at some point before me and was still going over 1 hour and 30 minutes later.  That is some good exercising.

I'm not sure what my plans for the week are yet.  I'll probably rest tomorrow, but if I feel good, maybe I'll try running.  Running on Tuesday is more likely.  I'd like to do some speedwork as well as a Trexler run.  Mix in the group run and I don't have many other options for the week.  Wednesday I'm heading to the Lafayette basketball game at Bucknell.  That doesn't give me much time to fit in a run, unless I do a dreaded AM run.

12 miles - 1:34:56 (7:55 pace)