Thursday, May 30, 2013

Beating the Heat (Sort of)

Today was another blazing hot day.  Of course, I was stuck running in it later in the day.  The run began at 5 PM and it was still very hot then.  I think the temperature was actually 90 degrees.  A huge difference from last week's cool weather.

My friend Tom commented on facebook that he was going to run in the morning today to avoid the heat.  I saw that another friend, Emily, responded that she had to run in the heat.  I sent her a message, since I figured misery enjoys company.  We agree to meet up at the Route 33 Boat Launch, because she suggested running near some water.

It was one of those days that is just so hot and sticky that you nearly sweat just stepping out of the car.  That's including when wearing a singlet and shorts.  It was that hot.

I asked Emily what she wanted to do and she said she didn't care.  Two runners without real set plans.  Just get out there and run.  I told her I wanted to try to run 8 to 10 miles, but wasn't sure if the heat would allow it.  I suggested that we run 3 miles out and 3 more back.  We definitely needed to stop and rehydrate at some point.

We started off heading west towards Bethlehem.  The great thing about this run was that there was shade most of the time.  That was a huge relief.  It was still hot as hell though.  The first mile was a little slow, as it often is for me at 8:37.

After that mile, things got quicker.  Both of us usually run easy runs around an 8 minute pace, so it was perfect.  The only issue is that it became a struggle for me, where she adapted to the heat much better.  We chatted away and were busy talking throughout the run.  We discussed training, specifically things like speedwork and marathon training, as well as nutrition (something she is good at and I'm terrible with).  I still amaze myself with how talkative I can be while running, considering how quiet I am at other times.  I'm usually more of a person that avoids conversation.

Although running with someone did make it easier, the run was still tough.  Time didn't seem to fly by quite as fast as it does in a group on more comfortable days.  I didn't look at my watch as much though.  At one point, it read 1.86 miles.  I was frustrated because I thought we ran farther than that.

The second mile was pretty quick at under 8 minutes and the third one was 8 minutes flat.  I told Emily we should probably slow down or we might not make.  What I really meant was I might not make it.  We agreed to slow, but I think we actually ended up going faster.  The turn around was a great relief.

The heat was having a huge impact, but so was all my running throughout the week.  My legs were sore and dead.  They clearly hadn't recovered much from the tempo run on Tuesday and the hilly run yesterday.  I was hoping they might come around at some point, but they didn't.  They were holding me back for sure.

I thought coming back might be easier, because it is supposed to be slightly downhill I believe.  It definitely wasn't and I was struggling.  The heat didn't take its toll a lot early on, but by now I was really dragging.  The miles were coming in at just over an 8 minute pace.

I remember Emily commenting about not being far from our cars at one point.  That was at mile 4.5.  The remaining 1.5 miles seemed so far away.  My mouth was so dry and I badly needed a drink.  This mile, we definitely slowed down.  It was an 8:15 pace.

In the final mile back to the boat launch, the trail is narrow.  Emily asked me if I wanted to lead, but I was too dead.  I told her she could just take off.  She said she wasn't going to, but I guess changed her mind and flew on in anyway.  That was fine with me.  Even though I fell pretty far behind, she was still a good pacemaker.  I ran that mile at a solid 8:08.  Without her, I might've been walking in that mile.

There were a lot of kids swimming in the river.  That looked so tempting.  I was surprised that they didn't tease me about Emily being so far ahead of me.  They just went about their business though.

Having Emily there was a big help for the final two miles as well.  I was so exhausted and beat up and soaked when we got back to our cars.  I wasn't sure how I could even run any more.  I knew I definitely needed some water.  With someone else there, I knew I'd keep going.  Emily had asked me if I wanted to keep going and I said, "I don't know how I can run any more, but I'm going to try."  She suggested a slower 9 minute pace.

The rest and recovery was great.  I figured that some how, some way, I could tough out 2 more miles.  I didn't think we would actually run that slower pace, but we did.  When my legs restarted, I'm not sure I could've run a faster pace.

Something interesting happened too.  Maybe it was the slower pace, but my legs actually felt better.  The beginning leg of the run was on dirt and stone.  This part, toward Riverview Park, was paved.  Maybe that actually helped my legs rather than hurt them.  Whatever the case, I felt much better.

Going out, it was actually cool and breezy.  Now, these last 2 miles did kind of fly by.  I was relieved once we got to the turn around.  At this slower pace, I probably could've run another 2 miles and got to 10 total miles for the day.  I was happy with 8 miles in the heat though.

We came back and it was great to be done.  These final 2 miles were 8:51 and 8:39, respectively.  That was much more reasonable for me anyway.  I'm sure I was holding Emily back.  We stretched, relaxed and chatted some more afterward.  I ran out of water, so I did need to get back home for a drink.  I need to start bringing more water along with me.

It wasn't fun while it was happening, but running through the heat and being done felt very rewarding.  Emily was a huge help.  There's no question that I would've quit earlier without her.  My mental toughness does lack a bit when I'm on my own.

Tomorrow will definitely be an off day.  My legs surely need it.  I might walk a lot of the Jacobsburg course to make sure that everything is good for my big group run there on Saturday.  It will be about 9 miles.  I have almost 40 people committed to attend.  It should be fun.  I'm not planning on marking the course, so hopefully I can keep everyone generally together.  I'm not planning on running too fast, even though it can be a fast trail.

First Leg 6 miles - 49:00 (8:10 pace)
Second Leg 2 miles - 17:35 (8:41 pace)

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Adventurous Trexler Run

The rainy weather wasn't fun yesterday, but it was far better than today.  The temperature reached the upper 80s and it was steamy.  I knew I wasn't going to run in the morning, so that meant it would be a late evening run.  I also planned on running at Trexler, not the best combination.

I headed out there and got started after 7 PM.  I knew trying to get a full loop in would be cutting it close with daylight.  Still, I figured it was worth a try.  I saw a guy walking toward his car as I was about to start.  Someone on the Quadzilla page said they were going to run hill repeats there tonight.  It was likely him.  I should probably do that at Trexler again at some point.

I started off at the Environmental Center because I didn't want to waste time driving to the zoo area.  I was prepared for the heat, at least I thought so.  I wore a lightweight BCR singlet and even carried water.  Bringing my own water is some I absolutely hate to do, but it was a necessity on this unseasonably warm day.

I started off going downhill.  Having the water in my CamelBak slosh around was very awkward.  It also made the early going uncomfortable and slow.  I felt like I was barely moving.  I knew I would be taking it easy this day.

I was happy when I got to the big hill.  It was in the shade, so I was hoping that it would be easy.  I went up it so unbelievably slow.  I felt like I wasn't even running.  I made it to the top though.  I didn't get winded until the very top.

At that point, I realized that I would kill myself if I tried running all the hills like that in the heat.  When I got to the hill by the bison pen, I just decided to walk some of it.  It is very short, but I still wanted to save something.  I was really hoping to complete the loop.

The first mile was so slow.  The pack really killed my pace.  I came through that mile at 11:38.  Usually in nicer weather and with nothing on my back, I do that mile well under 10 minutes.  That actually ended up being the fastest mile of the run.

I do have to say that while I didn't enjoy the heat at all, going along nice and slow was very peaceful otherwise.  I walked often from this point on.  I walked up some of the long hill just past the rocky section.  There were some cars parked there.  I'm assuming they were mountain bikers on the other trail.

I did run up some of the long hill and it felt awful.  My legs were sore.  They clearly weren't recovered from yesterday's tempo run.  They also weren't enjoying carrying a pack either.  It was the usual spot on the inside of my left ankle as well as the bottom of my right foot that bothered me.  I did have on new trail shoes and Trexler probably isn't the best place to break them in at.  Running there after a hard workout isn't too wise either.

I just continued sputtering along.  The second mile was a slow go.  Battling the heat was my first big adventure, but the main one came just before mile 2.  I could already feel my shirt rubbing and it was nearly soaked by this point.  I decided to take it off.  I wasn't paying attention to my surroundings.  I then looked up and was face to face with a skunk.  He was right in the high grass directly next to the trail.  He was no more than 2 feet from me.  I was so startled.  Luckily, he just stared at me.  I had no reason to go into a staring contest with him, so I immediately took off.

The skunk scared the crap out of me.  I knew for sure that there was no way I was going to turn around and run through there again.  I was relieved to get out of there without any issues.  I finished up mile 2.

The next section was the best part of the run.  I was running next to the high grass and up along the hilltop with the great view of the surrounding hills and valleys.  I was reminded of why I love running at Trexler so much.  It was also nearly perfect with the sun low to the horizon and nearly setting.  It made me forget the heat for a few moments.

I got to enjoy some downhill running after that.  I ran some uphill parts here and there, but most of the time, I just walked the hills.  The good thing about walking them is that I could really survey and study them better than I do when I run quickly over them.

There are two tricky hills in this next section.  They are steep for sure, but they are very short.  I call them the "false hills" because they aren't the real challenging ones, but you can't actually tell where the top of the hill is.  I walked up them and it wasn't too bad.

I was then running along the ridge in the back.  This area was covered by trees.  The annoying part was that I had a bug (or bugs) buzzing by my ear for about half a mile.  Either one bug actually chased me the whole way or multiple annoying bugs kept coming up to me.  I couldn't wait to get away from it/them.

Finally, I was to the big hill.  I knew I'd be walking most of this.  It was such a struggle to walk up.  The only good thing is that my legs weren't hurting much any more.  That didn't make it easy though.  I had my hands on my knees the whole time.  My friend Aaron gave me a good reference point of where to try to run to during the Quadzilla race.  I will have to try it.  Having walked up it, I'm thinking that perhaps in race conditions, I might even be able to run all the way to the top.  That is still highly unlikely, given that it is so late in the race.

I got to run for a short while, then it was on to the next big hill.  Having walked up it today, I'm thinking that maybe I give it too much credit.  It is sort of long and gradual, but it isn't anywhere near as difficult as it's big brother.  The issue is that it comes right after the really big hill.  Otherwise, it might be just another hill (another hill by Trexler standards anyway).

I started running at the top and started preparing for the creek crossing.  I knew that would be nice and refreshing.  I took a photo and also a video of the crossing.  The video came out too bouncy though.  Eventually, I'll get a good video of it.

I then crossed over the road and was headed towards the zoo area.  I was about an hour into the run and still had over 3.5 miles to finish the loop.  It was getting dark quickly.  As I walked up another hill, I thought about the hills up ahead.  Like I often do at this point, I folded.  It's just so hard to mentally keep going when you are that exhausted and there is so much ahead.  I guess I need to learn how to push through that.  Giving up was probably the smart thing to do today though given the heat.

I ran a short downhill to the zoo.  I stopped when I hit the 5 mile mark.  That was right around the Quadzilla finish line.  I still had about a mile walk back to the car.  With some more uphill, it wasn't easy.  I was so soaked by the end.  It looked like I just stepped out of a pool.

I would've liked to have done more, but considering the weather conditions, I'm not too disappointed.  I really do need to push through though and finish a loop on my own.  It will help me a lot mentally when race day comes around.  Physically, I'm pretty strong at Trexler.  It is the mental part that gets to me.  I get in good workouts, but I don't push myself beyond my comfort zone.  If I do get a nice day any time soon, I need to make sure to get there and complete a whole loop.  I certainly know I can do it, especially if I walk a lot like I did today.

Tomorrow might be a run or it might be an off day.  I'm not sure yet.  It is supposed to be hot again.  The same goes for Friday.  I will be running one of those days and taking off the other day.  I am leading a big group run on Saturday and I do need to do some recon at Jacobsburg to prepare for it at some point.

5 miles - 1:04:23 (12:53 pace)

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Productive Tempo Run

After an easy run yesterday, I was planning on a harder workout today.  I've been doing so many 800 repeats lately that I am becoming comfortable with them.  I really like running hard for a short distance and then being able to recover.  Instead of running more of those, I need to start doing more tempo runs.  I need to get out of my comfort zone.  Tempo runs are more productive for marathon training anyway.

A few weeks back, I attempted a tempo run, but went out too hard and crashed and burned around mile 2 of "comfortably hard" running.  The goal today was to put in 4 miles with that kind of effort.

The tricky thing today was the weather.  It was raining all morning and afternoon.  I took a nap after work because of that.  I struggled to get up.  Things were fairly clear near dinner time.  I was just glad there was no lightning (as the forecast had called for).  It was actually quite cold, so I had on a regular shirt and shorts.

The plan was for a 2 mile warm up and cool down and then 4 miles at a tempo pace in between.  Since it rained all day, I need some pavement to run on.  I didn't want to run on a soggy, stone trail.  That could've really messed things up.

I went to the Plainfield Recreation Trail.  I haven't run there in awhile.  I don't really enjoy it there, so I don't go there often.  Still, I liked the idea of having no busy road crossings.  As I was changing socks and shoes in the car, I saw a skunk walk across the trail.  That was enough to make me run elsewhere.

I wasn't too far from Mill Race Park, so I drove down there.  This is a nice place to run, although it isn't totally flat (at least not near the park).  It is pretty along the creek and can actually be fairly crowded with people and activity. 

I started off heading towards Penn Pump Park.  I began nice and slow.  The legs felt pretty good.  There was no soreness.  When I got a massage last week, I thought it would have a noticeable impact right away.  That wasn't the case, but I think it is having some effect now.  I feel great.

I learned early on in this run that my GPS watch would be unreliable.  I was going slow, but I certainly wasn't running at a 10 minute pace.  At one point, it went from over 10 minutes, to 9:47 pace and then back to like 10:07 in a short period of time.  I didn't care how accurate it was during the warmup, but that would be more important during the key portion of the run.

I can typically tell how a tough workout will go by how I feel during the warm up.  The first mile was good, but the second mile seemed to drag on a bit.  I don't usually warm up that long.  I got faster and faster by the end of that mile.  It was right around 8 minutes flat.

I was now into the tempo portion of the run.  Last time I tried a tempo run here, I was in the 6:40s for the first hard mile and I burned myself out.  Today, I was able to start more conservative.  I wanted to make sure that I had enough for 4 good miles.

I was a little disappointed in the first mile.  I was hoping that I could run under 7 minute miles and maybe even under 6:51 for the entire tempo segment.  However, that first hard mile was only a 7:06.

One of the things that kept slowing me down were the road crossings.  At Penn Pump Park, I had to stop to cross the road.  For some reason, they still haven't officially opened the new section.  That's a little ridiculous because the paving was done in the fall.  Running around the construction gates slowed me up too.  More than that, it broke up my steady rhythm.

I ran by a house and a dog was barking.  I was glad it didn't chase me.  I continued on, running fairly hard.  My breathing was pretty labored.  Even though it was cool, with the rain, the air was very damp.  That made breathing difficult and also caused me to sweat.  I guess it wasn't exactly ideal conditions.

One good thing is that not knowing if my GPS was accurate caused me too push on and just try to maintain the effort I was putting forth.  If I was running that slow and I knew it was accurate, I might have quit earlier or slowed down when things got tough.

I ended up turning around at about 1.67 miles into the tempo portion of the run.  At this point, I was behind the Crayola Factory.  Some kids drove by and yelled something at me.  I was too focused to care.

I continued on and was disappointed that I wasn't running miles under 7 minute pace.  It is what it is though.  I just have to run wherever I'm at now and work from there.  It was better to run longer today than to run shorter and faster again.  I need to start extending my speed.  I don't need to get a lot faster.  Hard mile 2 was an identical 7:06.

My legs still felt good, but that this point, I was working really hard.  I didn't think I could possibly keep up this breathing for the remaining 2 tough miles.  I just tried to focus on making it to hard mile 3 and not worry about the other mile.  I did slow down in this mile.  Some of that could've been due to going uphill.  Also, I'm not sure if my GPS was correct.

I battled up the slight incline and hit 7:13 for this mile.  I thought I was slipping.  I was near Mill Race Park and decided to turn around for the final hard mile.  This would now be downhil.

The GPS was definitely off early in this mile.  At one point, it read 8:13 or so.  That was early and I was slowing some, but I wasn't going anywhere near that slow.  I just worked and worked.  I kept looking down at my watch, but it seemed like forever.  My legs were losing a little bit at this point.  It was still my breathing that was holding me back though.  It was encouraging to watch the pace drop for this mile.

I started to get a side sticker, but I was able to get through that.  I was now soaked.  Some of that from the rain, some of that just from sweating in the damp air.  I finished the last hard mile just before the busy Penn Pump Park road crossing.  It was a 7:07 mile.  That wasn't accurate either.  I might've been closer to a 7 minute mile.  I was happy to finish the hard segment strong.

After I hit that fourth hard mile, I immediately slowed to a crawl.  I should probably bring my speed back down gradually after a hard run.  I build it up gradually during the warm up and should do the same on the cool down.

I cruised on back at a nice a slow pace.  Now, I was actually close to a 10 minute pace.  I was glad that my legs weren't hurting.  Of course, I was more grateful that I was done with the hard running portion.

The last two easy miles seemed to take forever.  Just before the last mile, I took my shirt off.  It was soaked and sticking to me.  It caused some nipple chafing.  I must've looking crazy to the guy that I ran by, because it was pretty cold out and I was shirtless.  There were a few people running in the beginning of the workout, but most were done by the end.  One guy was running in khakis and seemed overly happy when he was waving.  I'm glad he enjoyed himself.

I didn't quite have the pace that I was hoping for, but I was still happy with the effort.  I do seem like I might be getting a little slower, instead of faster over the last couple weeks.  I don't know, but my progress hasn't been as great as I would've hoped for.  Obviously, I'm much faster than this time a year ago, so that is good.  At that time, I ran a 4 mile race at just under 32 minutes.  Today, I ran my 4 mile fast segment at just over 28 minutes.  I could've probably broken 28 minutes if I really killed myself.

I also looked at my watch at the 5K point of the fast running portion of the workout.  The watch read 39:20 overall.  That meant that I ran this fast 5K segment in 22:14.  I guess that pretty good considering that I ran almost 23 minutes in a race in March and today was also faster than my Blue Eagle 5K race last summer.  I'm curious as to what kind of 5K race time I am capable of running at the moment.

I'm hoping I recover well from this run.  Tomorrow, I will likely go to Trexler.  That could be interesting because it might be in the 90s.  I'll probably go in the evening.  I guess I'll likely have to carry water.  I'd like to run the whole loop, but the heat might dictate the distance.

8 miles - 1:05:09 (8:09 pace)

Monday, May 27, 2013

Perfect Dusk Run

Yesterday was an off day due to the Indy 500.  Last night and this morning, we made the long drive back from Indianapolis.  My friend Bill had a pool party today, but I was too exhausted to go, so I slept this afternoon.  I was about ready to run around dinner time, but my family wanted to go out to eat.  We grabbed some pizza, so I had to wait a couple hours to run.

I also slacked off a little and didn't get around to running until about 8:30.  The plan was an easy 5 miler.  I figured I'd start off in some light and then it would get dark.  I don't look forward to short, easy runs like this.  They just seem pointless.  I should try to find some ways to enjoy them.

That said, this run was actually great.  After the 17 miles on Saturday, I was thinking that my body would be beat up today.  That wasn't the case at all.  I went to the Nor-Bath Trail and took off right away.  I actually began running kind of gingerly because I was anticipating some tight quads or something like that.  Instead, my legs felt pretty good (as good as they are going to feel anyway).

It wasn't hot today anyway, but the weather was perfect when the sun went down.  I wish I could run summer races in these conditions.  A summer nighttime marathon would be great.  I just had on shorts and a short sleeve shirt.  The shirt was bright yellow, since it would be getting dark.

I was most worried about crossing Airport Road.  That wasn't too bad though.  I had to wait for 2 cars, but I was able to cruise along shortly after that.  It wasn't dark yet, but it was too dark to consistently look at my watch.  That meant the distance just flew by.

The first mile was a 9:27.  I don't need to go that slow, but going slower on recovery days would definitely help.  Running 9 minute miles would be much better.

I saw something in the field next to the trail.  At first, I thought it might be a large animal.  It didn't move though, so I guess it was just a rogue bush.  It seemed kind of weird out there.  A bunch of rabbits ran across the trail throughout the run.  Some of them continued up the trail for awhile and I ended up chasing them.

I got to Bicentennial Park and there were still a few cars in the parking lot.  I probably should watch when running around there after dark.  It seems like a teen hangout place.  I got past the park and around mile 2, it was very dark.  There are a lot of trees in this area and plenty of cover.

Just before mile 2.5, was the next road crossing.  There were no cars, so I ran over it and continued on.  I ran over 2 pedestrian bridges and headed back at mile 2.75.

Coming back over the crossing was clear again.  I cruised along and hit mile 3.  All of these miles were over 9 minutes.

When I checked out my watch before the run, it had 28% battery life.  I thought it would last, but I guess lighting it up at night eats up a lot of the battery.  It beeped several times.  Then, I went to look at it right before mile 4 and it shut off.  It really sucked because I thought it would record the mileage up until it shut off.  Instead, it went only to the last fully completed mile.

Even though I didn't have the remainder of the run being recorded, I still wanted to run to 5 miles.  I knew that that would be right past the Airport Road crossing.  It was lonely and dark until that point.  Sometimes, I would see a dark spot on the ground and think it was an animal.  It was usually just darker grass or a plant.  Even when I saw a bench, I thought at first that it was an animal.  It was quite dark by now. 

I finished up past Airport Road and walked to cool down.  It was good to have felt so strong during a run.  Maybe my legs can feel this good throughout the summer.  That would be nice.

Although I'm running well, one very frustrating thing is my weight.  When I first started running, I worked so hard to drop weight.  I went from 180 pounds down to 140.  Then I got sick and dropped even more weight.  I was as low as 110.  Now, my Crohn's is pretty well under control and I'm ballooning up.  It is very frustrating to be working so hard, but gaining so much weight.  Around this time last year, I don't think I was even 140 pounds, now I'm up over 170.

I definitely need to eat better, but I think my Crohn's medication is playing a part.  I wish I could just work harder and burn more calories, but I guess I'll really have to watch more closely what I eat if I want to lose weight.  I don't have a problem eating healthy, my problem is that I hate to cook and don't really know what a good nutrition plan is.  I don't mind working hard when running, but I hate having to do work to eat too.  I guess that is what I'll need to do though.  I wish I could eat a normal diet and that would be considered healthy.  Food in this country is so terrible though. 

I'd rather be overweight then underweight with all my Crohn's problems, but I definitely need to get this situation under control.  I'm actually amazed with the fast times I can run now and it makes me wonder how much better I could be running if I was 20-25 pounds lighter.  I feel so heavy when I run too.

Tomorrow, will be a challenging run.  I'm thinking that I'll run a tempo run.  I'm hoping for 4 or 5 difficult miles between a warm up and cool down.  I'll likely run on the Saucon Rail Trail.  It is supposed to be hot this week, so I'll have to check out the weather first.

Indianapolis Long Run

Normally, Sunday is my long run day and Saturday is much easier.  However, this week I’m at the Indy 500 and that is on Sunday, so I got my long run in today.  I am still recovering from my tough half marathon last week, so I wasn’t sure what I would do this week.  I really wanted to get my first 20 miler of this training cycle in.  I knew that that might be tough though, so I decided that anything over 15 miles would be a good run.  I let my body dictate how much I would do.

Last year, I ran here, but I was only running 8 miles or so.  This year, I had to find some longer places to run at.  The weather is like night and day between the two years.  Last year, it was unbearably hot.  This year, it is nice and cool.  I didn’t start until after 11 AM and I’m not sure that the temperature even reached the 70s.  It was cloudy the whole time.  There was some humidity though.

I went with a normal top and shorts.  I used some heavier shorts with pockets, so that I could carry money and buy a drink during the run.  That worked out well.

I’m familiar with the Butler University area, so I decided to start there.  The plan was to run to Broad Ripple, if it wasn’t too far.  That is a small bar district.  There is another trail that goes off of the canal trail that I planned on taking to there.

I began by parking in the Hinkle Fieldhouse parking lot.  The central canal towpath was a short distance away.  I was still mildly sore from yesterday’s hard work out, so I started out by walking briefly.  I then began running toward the path.  The good thing is that I began with a downhill run.

Right as I got to the road to the canal towpath, I came to another runner.  He was going faster than me.  I decided to just hang behind him.  It was weird running somewhere with other people that are faster than me.  I sort of tried to keep up and I certainly could’ve on a shorter run, but I wasn’t about to kill myself this early on.

Of course he was turning the same direction as I planned on going on the towpath.  It was weird because early on, the path became a road.  It wasn’t busy at all, but it was definitely something different.

There were people running, walking and biking this area, but I figured that there would actually be more of them.  It was far from crowded.  The weather was great for a run too, so that should not have kept people away.

Time seemed to fly by on the towpath.  I started with a slow 9:00 mile 1.  After that, I went only slightly faster.  I heard a car break behind me and I think a guy on a bike almost got hit at an intersection.  There were quite a few intersections, but they didn’t slow me down much.

There were plenty of geese and ducks near the canal.  Some of the ducks were in the grass right next to the path and a lot of them were sleeping.  They had their heads down.  That was neat and I wish I had a picture.

I cruised along and before I knew it, I was at Broad Ripple.  I crossed intersections were I could and ended up running right through the main bar area.  It was still early, but there were people out.

Just north of the main road was the trail that I was looking for.  It is an old rail trail called the Monon Trail.  It was really cool.  It was all paved from where I ran it to the north.  By Broad Ripple was cool because of all the bars and cafes.  Farther down, it was neat because it was surrounded by woods and felt like it was secluded and not in the city.

There were many more people here than on the canal path.  Early on, it was difficult to even get around them.  There were plenty of families, runners and bikers (including some nice looking ladies).

I really had no game plan for here.  I figured that I would be able to get a drink back in Broad Ripple, when I turned back around.  The farther I got out, the less likely that I would find a place to stop for a drink.

I was sore in the first few miles of the run, but by now, things were pretty good.  I got into a groove with a nice and easy pace.  Most of the miles on this section were within the 8:20 to 8:30 range.  It was definitely easy.

I noticed the trail markers and figured out that they trail would go 4 miles out before ending.  I wasn’t sure if I would want to go that far, but then I figured that I might as well.  That would put me 7 miles into the run.  Getting back to Broad Ripple would be another 4 miles, so I’d hit mile 11 then.

I continued on through the peaceful setting.  I then arrived at a Kroger.  I thought that that might be a good place to get a drink, but then figured that it was too early.  I would’ve continued on the trail, but it was a busy road crossing, so I turned around.  I was at mile 6 at this point.

Although the miles were flying by, I still couldn’t believe that it was only mile 6.  I felt like I had run through the whole city.  I started at around 52nd Street and had to be near 90th Street when I turned around.  On the way back and dog jumped out in front of me to chase a squirrel.  That was a funny incident.

I just clicked off the miles.  One of the odd things was that most of the runners seemed to be going the opposite way of me.  I didn’t pass any of them or they didn’t pass me.  Then a guy had turned around and he passed me around the outside of the trail.  He was moving pretty well.  I decided to pick up the pace.  It wasn’t too hard to stay with him.  I knew I was only about a mile from Broad Ripple (and my drink stop anyway).  I kept with him for about ¾ of a mile.  Then I slowed a bit.  After consistent 8:30 miles, this one was a nice 7:37.  Later in my training, I’ll have to incorporate some faster segments into my long runs.
I found a CVS and went there for a Gatorade.  I was going to buy an energy bar too, but they didn’t have any that I could find, so I opted for a candy bar.  At this point, I was at mile 9.40.  I did stop briefly at a water fountain within the previous 2 miles, so that did help.

I then continued back on the canal path.  I was quickly reminded why I hate carrying drinks.  The Gatorade was so uncomfortable.  Also, my legs felt funny after the brief stop.  After a while, they came back to me again.  I was glad for that.

Although it wasn’t hot, I began to have some chafing issues.  My nipples were getting quite sore.  I was planning on running back to the car anyway, so I figured that I would change shirts.  Before I knew it, I was back to Butler.  Now, that fun downhill in the beginning was a difficult uphill.  Factor in that I was 12 miles into the run and it wasn’t fun at all.  I made it up though.  That must be the only hill in the whole city.  Almost all of Indianapolis is flat.

I changed and stopped briefly for some water.  My plan now was to head the other direction on the canal path.  I ran that way and began getting a little sore.  My right quad was a problem, but that hamstring was getting tight as well.  I probably should’ve stretched at the car.  I just kept focusing on getting to the next half mile or mile.  I was struggling and it wasn't easy to keep going.

As I got about 1 ½ miles from Butler, I realized that I would likely be able to at least get 15 miles in.  That made me happy.  This area was now familiar to me.  I ran a lot of it last year.  It was nice and peaceful, but not much activity.  I did spot quite a few fast runners going the other way.

I was planning on turning around at 14.5 miles, but I convinced myself to keep going for some reason.  Not long after that, a super attractive girl went flying by in the other direction.  I decided to turn around and give chase to her.  She definitely could’ve pulled be through a few miles and I was really hurting at that point.  I tried to keep up, but she continued to pull away.  Maybe I could’ve run that pace on a shorter day, but definitely not today.  Not long after seeing her, she disappeared.  I guess she went off the path.

I struggled through miles 15 and then 16.  The good news though is that my pace was still consistent.  It was under 9 minute miles and I was going steady.  It’s just that my hamstring and the rest of my legs were hurting.

If I would’ve run back to my car, it would’ve been over 17 miles.  However, I didn't want to try to battle up that hill again.  Not this late in a long run.  I wanted to stay on the canal path, so I did that.  I started in the other direction, but quickly turned around.  I then went out a little bit to mile 17.  A few minutes earlier, I decided that I would at least try to run for 2 ½ hours since I was closing in on that time.  I barely went past 17 miles when I hit that point and I stopped my run there.  I could’ve willed my way to 18 miles, but it would not have been easy.

I had some post run issues.  I was sore as I mentioned and continued to have chafing problems.  This time, it was in some other areas as well.  I even had my shirt off at the end of the run to prevent more problems.  I knew I was dehydrated too, so I drank more water.  However, I cramped up badly when I tried to get out of the car back at the camper.  Sitting too long was a problem.

It was still a very productive run that I’m happy with.  I can’t believe that I have to go at least 6 miles farther than that in training and 9 more miles for the marathon in September.  I hope one day I can get to a point where 17 miles isn’t too hard on the legs.  I’m just not strong enough for that now and haven’t done enough long runs throughout my life.

These last few workouts weren't planned that way, but they followed the Hansons' marathon training style.  The idea is to run shorter long runs, but run them the day after a hard workout.  That is supposed to give the legs the impact of what running the end of the marathon feels like.  I did think today might actually be harder, but I have to say it was quite taxing by the end.  I just figured that it would feel worse earlier on.

I’m limping around today, so I’m very sure that I’ll be super sore tomorrow.  That means that I’ll be taking off.  My friend Bill invited me to a pool party on Monday and I’ll also be driving home that morning.  Squeezing in a run will be difficult, but I’ll manage.  This should be a solid week, but I don’t want to overdo it.  Maybe next week I can get a 20 miler in.  Only time will tell.

17.15 miles – 2:30:01 (8:45 pace)

Trexler Run and Butler Track Workout

This week worked out well for a recovery week.  I am on vacation at the Indy 500, so I don’t have a lot time to recover.  In the fall, I ran right after my half marathon and overdid it.  So far, so good this time around.

Before heading on vacation, I needed my weekly Trexler run.  I ran there after work on Wednesday (right before we left).  I was only running there to keep my streak alive.  

It was almost unbearable heat and humidity.  I’m not sure, but the temperature was close to the 90s.  At least there is now some shade on the trees there, but many sections never get shade though.

I started off at the Environmental Center.  I was really only thinking of running 3 easy miles.  In the heat, I knew even that could be a stretch.  I didn’t want to overwork myself.

I started off on the usual loop.  I got to the big hill in no time.  I ran up it semi easily.  Still, I wasn’t enjoying the climb or the heat.  Usually I break the hill into thirds.  This time, I actually made it into the final third and yet still turned around and ran back down.  I just wasn’t up for the hills on that day.  I ran about three quarters of the way up it before turning around.  

I then ran to the road to the zoo.  This is nice and downhill and shady.  Still, I was sweating like crazy.  At this point, I realized that I would likely only be running 2 miles.  As I got to the short cut back to the Environmental Center, I was near mile 1.

I ran down and headed onto the Covered Bridge Trail.  That is a nice flat stone path.  There was a school bus crossing the Ford.  I have never seen one drive over the water, so that was kind of interesting. 

I turned around at 1.5 miles and headed back.  It was a slow struggle through the heat.  I couldn’t wait to be done.  Now, I had some uphill running to do.  I got up that and had to briefly run up the trail.  That was steep and tough too.  I was done a short while later.  I still had some steep walking up the hill in the open sun though.  That wasn’t easy either. 

It wasn’t the most productive day, but it was still good to get some running in before the trip.  I was pressed for time, so I didn’t do as much as perhaps I would have.

When I arrived in Indianapolis, the original plan was to run a short set of fast repeats on Thursday after race practice.  It rained off and on all day, so that threw a wrench into my plans.  By the time practice was over, it was time to eat.  It was so windy and cold that I decided to postpone the workout.  I knew it wouldn’t be effective.

Instead, I went out Friday for the track workout.  I was going to run in the morning, but it was too cold.  I also would’ve been pressed for time.  I headed out just before dinner time.

I was unsure where to actually run.  There is a canal towpath that I know of, but I wasn’t really interested in running that fast, especially with plenty of road crossings.  I would’ve gone there if I had to.  

I first drove to Speedway High School, which is nearby.  There was a janitor there, but he was closing up and said I couldn’t run on the track because of that.  I moved on.  I went by another high school near there, but it was kind of a shady neighborhood.  I then decided to head to Butler University.  I thought they would have a track around their football/soccer stadium, but they didn’t.  I thought that was odd because I just read about someone that used to run at Butler on their track team.  I knew they must’ve had a track somewhere.

I then drove around some more.  I drove along the canal towpath.  I thought I would run there, but I needed to use the bathroom.  Then I stumbled into the Broad Ripple neighborhood.  It is a small bar area.  There is another trail there that meets up with the canal trail.  I was glad I found it because I want to run both trails for my long run on Saturday.

I opted to just head back to Butler, find a bathroom, and start from there.  I went in Hinkle Fieldhouse (where their basketball team plays) and used the bathroom.  That is one of the coolest arenas that I’ve ever been in.  

Before I went in there, I was looking for a bathroom at the football/soccer stadium.  I stumbled onto the track, which was tucked back in between all the athletic fields.  I decided I would run there.

Last time I ran repeats, I ran 8 of them.  It was a solid workout.  This time, I was looking to do much less since I was coming off a half marathon.  However, I wanted to run them faster.

They had gates up so that you don’t run the first 3 lanes of the track.  That meant that my laps would be a little over .25 miles long.  I just went by my GPS watch for each repeat.  The plan was a 1 mile warm up and cool down with .25 miles of active recovery in between each half mile repeat.

Tracks are a good way to save your legs, but they can also be awkward if you aren’t used to running them.  I like to do almost all of my running on roads these days, so it was very weird for me.

My legs didn’t feel very sharp in the warm up.  I could tell it wouldn’t be a great day.  My calf was sore and the legs just had no pop to them.  I went on though.

I really hate running longer workouts on a track.  Going around and around makes it seem like forever.  If it were half mile loops, that would be much better.  That first slow mile did feel like it went on and on.  It wasn’t that slow though.  I came in at 7:47.

I started off the first fast segment relatively hard.  I was breathing a little heavy.  Breathing was difficult because my nose was stuffed from my allergies bothering me.  Also, there was quite a bit of wind.  Most of it was in the turns, but the front stretch had a nice headwind too.  There was a tailwind on the back stretch.

Most of the first repeat hovered around 6:18.  That is faster than my usual 6:40 or slower repeats.  It was a nice pace, especially since I wasn’t feeling great.  As I got with the final tenth of a mile of this repeat, I picked it up and dropped the pace even more.  It was a 3:08 (6:15 pace).  I haven’t run a repeat that fast in a while.  That was a good start.

Ideally, I would’ve been more consistent throughout the repeat.  I didn’t want to start too fast though.  Two laps around the track seems like a long time.  I recovered well from the first segment.

It was a tough one again for segment two.  Again, I started off conservation.  Not surprisingly, this was going a little slower.  I still had pretty nice pace though.  I was happy whenever it was under 6:30 pace.  My lungs were what was giving me trouble.  My legs felt like they could go faster, but my lungs were causing me to slow down.  Maybe in better conditions (less wind and pollen), I could run much better.  Still, I came through the second repeat as a solid 3:09 (6:19 pace).  I was thrilled to have two repeats under 6:20.  I need to push myself out of my comfort zone.

I was definitely hurting at this point.  It caused me to start the third repeat much more conservatively.  For most of it, I was well over 6:40 pace.  I kicked it in gear on the last lap though.  Again, I should probably be more consistent throughout each repeat.  After really pushing in the final tenth, I got this repeat to 3:13 (6:26).  Although a few seconds slower than the first two, it was still faster than I usually run repeats.

I debated a lot about running a fourth repeat.  The recovery lap came up quickly and I had to make a decision.  Finally, at the last minute I opted to just begin the repeat.  Even though I knew I was dying it was worth at least seeing where I was at.  It didn’t take long to determine that I had nothing left.  At about 1/8th of the way into this repeat, I quit.  I was well over a 7 minute pace and wasn’t about to get any faster.  I finished up with a nice cool down.

I was quite sore afterward and hope I recover well enough for Saturday’s long run.  It wasn’t quite as many repeats as I was hoping for, but I was happy with the pace of my three fast repeats.  I need to get faster and faster and then extend that into more and more repeats.  That’s how I’m going to be able to get where I want to by the fall.

Saturday's run is a long run here in Indianapolis.  There isn’t anything going on on the track, so I have all day to run.  I’m not sure when I will do it.  I will be on the canal towpath though.  I might run with money and buy drinks along the way.  That way, I can run much farther out.  It shouldn’t be too hot.  I’m hoping to run 20 miles, but that might not be realistic.  I will have to see how my body feels.  I really want to get at least 15 miles in.  That would be a productive way to end the week.

Wednesday 2 miles – 19:04 (9:33 pace)
Friday 4 miles – 29:45 (7:27 pace)        

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Half Marathon Recovery Run

After Saturday's hilly half marathon, I was very sore on Sunday and took off.  I decided to get a massage on Monday, since my sister got me a gift card for Christmas.  That was great and just what my body needed.  It left me feeling good today.  I probably need to get those more often as well as give myself massages.

I decided that I would run this afternoon for the first time since my race.  I didn't feel like going to the usual places, so I decided to head to Freemansburg and run the D&L section there.  It isn't bad, but I'm not a big fan of that area because it has changing terrain.  Also, that town does seem a little shady.

I started walking along the canal towpath.  For some reason, I couldn't get a satellite signal.  I walked and walked and walked with no luck.  It was odd because it was a clear day and I wasn't in the middle of nowhere or blocked by buildings.  I probably walked almost half a mile with no luck.  I then turned around and headed back.  I decided that I would try running at Sand Island if I could get a signal.

Of course right as I was just about at my car, a signal finally came through and I began my run.  The walk was full of wildlife.  I saw some pretty ducks and I think even a beaver swimming in the water.  Now, it was on to running and getting focused.

The reason I did want to run in Freemansburg and need to run there more frequently is because my marathon course is on this path.  I need more practice there and to become more familiar with the course.

Instead of heading east as I originally planned, I started off going west towards downtown Bethlehem.  I didn't want to go too far out there.  It was super hot today, in the mid 80s, and there wasn't much cover in that direction.

I started off slow, but I was a little tight in the beginning of the run. I guess that would be a better way to describe it, since I wasn't sore.  It was just that my right quad was stiff.  I'm not sure if that was from the half marathon, my previous training, the massage or any combination of the three.

I had to be careful because I was definitely favoring that leg and I ran with different form.  Luckily, it didn't take long until it came around.  Some of this part of the trail is uneven.  There is some stone, but the nice thing is that a lot of it is very soft dirt.  It sure isn't hard on the legs.

I went out cruising along.  The path was pretty crowded.  I passed two guys going the other way.  One guy was going slow and wearing long pants.  I can't imagine that, as I was dieing in just a singlet and shorts.  The other guy looked a little more like a runner, although he did have on a Yeungling shirt.  I'm pretty sure they don't make technical gear.

There was a little bit of a breeze in this direction, so that was nice.  It was an easy 8:37 first mile.  I actually didn't go all the way to the mile point before turning around.  I was about .05 miles short of that.  I wanted to go out a little farther, but I came across a few geese with some young.  The trail was narrow there and I didn't want them to feel cornered.  I know that Philly geese are used to people and usually aren't aggressive.  These geese, I'm not so sure about.

On the way back, I saw the Yuengling guy again going in the other direction.  Just as I was passed where I parked my car, I came to the long pants guy going the same way as me.  He was going so slow and even though I was taking it easy, I blew right by him.

By this point, I was feeling good.  My legs felt better and fairly fresh and the heat had not taken its toll yet.  Right as I passed the guy, I came to mile 2.  That mile was a solid 8:21.  This time I ran through some geese.  Thankfully, they moved out of the way and I was able to do so safely. 

Heading east was the direction that the race goes.  It seemed quite easy and I'm thinking that it is downhill.  I cruised along.  I was on to more of a stone path when I got out of Freemansburg.  There were quite a few people out, but it was far from crowded.  The annoying thing is that the walkers block the path and I have to yell so that they move.

The second group of walkers that I had to do this for were some kids that looked high school age.  It was kind of funny because right as I was approaching, some guys boating in the water yelled really loud.  They startled the kids and they turned around and saw me coming and got out of my way.  As I ran by them, I said, "that wasn't me yelling, but that worked out perfectly."  It was great timing.

Two cute women were running the other direction as I went out.  I hit mile three with a speedy 8:06.  Towards the end of this mile, I started to feel it from the heat.

I told myself to just relax.  I wanted to get another half mile out and then turn around to complete the run.  It was getting kind of hard to breathe, even running easy.  The combination of the humidity and the pollen were taking their toll.  At one point, everything was calm and I could just really feel the heat.

I made it to three and a half miles and then turned around.  I just focused on getting to mile four.  At that point, I knew I could finish.  Somewhere around there, I came across those kids again.  They were hanging out with some other kids in the water.  Some other guy was walking away from them and looking pissed.  I just ignored him because he did look kind of shady.

I hit mile four at 8:23.  Coming back was a little more challenging as it seemed slightly uphill.  At least there was a little bit of a breeze.  The two cute women were walking now.  I was also passed by another attractive woman who was riding a bike.

The final half mile was so difficult.  I was along the canal behind Freemansburg.  There was no shade.  It was so incredibly hot.  Even with the easy effort, another mile would've been a struggle.  It was just such an unseasonable day.  With the sun shining though, I won't complain.

I just tried to focus on each tenth of a mile.  Finally, I was done.  The last mile was back to a quick 8:09.  I was exhausted and soaked when I finished.  It was so good to be done.  There is something so rewarding about a tough workout in the heat.  I just wish I didn't sweat so easily.

My friend Tom posted asking if anyone wanted to go for an evening run.  I had posted the same thing at almost the same time.  I decided to just alone though and was glad that I did, so that I could run at my own pace.  The Emmaus Run Inn had their group run tonight, but I would've pushed too hard if I went there.  I can never hold back with a fast group.

After some early stiffness, I felt great the rest of the run.  If I could manage to run feeling this way all summer, that would be a big plus.  Maybe I'll have to go to more regular massages.  I'd like to take it easier, but that will make it hard to qualify for Boston.  It is a fine line.  I know I need more quality workouts though than quantity.

Tomorrow should be interesting.  I have to run in the morning because I am leaving for Indianapolis in the afternoon.  I don't know if I work or not.  Complicating things more is that I haven't run Trexler this week.  I need to go there or I'll end my weekly running streak there.  It'll be an early morning run.  I'm thinking that it is probably just another easy 5 miles.  I need to be careful.  On Thursday, I'm running in Indianapolis.  I will likely do so hard, but I'm think it will be short segments, so that I don't overdo it.  I look forward to some great running in a different city later on in the week.

5 miles - 41:36 (8:19 pace)

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Movie Madness Half Marathon

After looking at the course for the Movie Madness Half Marathon last week, I lowered my expectations.  I drove the course and saw that it was incredibly hilly.  Still, just driving the course didn't give me a true appreciation of just how tough it was.  It was the most difficult course I've ever run.  Although the hills are no where near as steep as Trexler, they never seemed to end.

I wanted to PR or at least run what I did last fall, but there's just no way that would've happened on this course.  When I signed up for the race, I thought this area would be much flatter.  I would've rather have just ran up the nearby mountain and back down it.

I only ran once this week and I started off feeling great.  My legs were well rested from the taper.  I ran fairly hard early on as I was trying to stay near the front.  I knew that the race wouldn't be too competitive.  I was in 5th place overall.  At one point, about a quarter mile into the run, I looked at my watch and I was at a 5:55 pace.  That was WAY too fast, so I slowed it on down a bit.

A couple people passed me early on.  I wasn't going to kill myself to stay ahead of them.  The opening mile slowed down and it was a 6:45 by the end of it.  It was still definitely too fast, but I was at least feeling good.  I wasn't sure if I would have that kind of pace.

There was a huge hill at mile 2 and so began the killer rolling hills.  The lead female passed me at some point here.  The hills got to me, but I was still feeling okay.  I was breathing a little heavy.  I came through the 2nd mile at 7:02.  I knew I still wanted to slow down slightly.

We had already encountered a couple hills, but it got worse and worse.  Part of the problem is that I love hills, but I never train on them with any kind of speed.  It is always just an easy pace.  I couldn't believe how fast I was going.  Mile 3 did slow me up though with a 7:26 mile.

I looked down at my watch at the 5K point and even with mile 3 slowing me, I ran just over 22 minutes.  That was too fast obviously, but great because I didn't even know I had that speed.  I had hoped that I did, but I wasn't sure.  I ran almost a minute slower than that in a 5K in March.

One of the reasons I did go too fast is that I was hoping to have someone to run with.  There was a guy that had passed me wearing a Rocky robe (since it was a movie themed race).  I was hoping he might be able to pull me along.  Eventually, I let him go, but he didn't leave my sights.

Mile 4 was tough like every other mile of this run.  There was so much long, seemingly never ending hills in this area.  We were on the main road in the area, mostly going by farms and a few houses.  There were a couple people out cheering, but most of the course was quite lonely.  The 4th mile was a 7:23.  I was definitely slipping a bit.

There was a little bit of a hill as we turned off the main road.  I was relieved to turn off that road.  Of course the first thing we saw after that was a gradual uphill and another steep hill.  When I saw that hill, I just got frustrated.  I decided at that point that I was going be nowhere near the time I hoped and the hills in the 2nd half could kill me, so I'd back off.  I just figured that I might as well turn it into a training run and try to save my legs.  This isn't a goal race and I want to jump back into marathon training and focus on that.  I don't need to destroy my body on a half marathon.

I was breathing hard in the first 5K, but once I shut it off, I felt kind of comfortable.  As comfortable as one can feel going up hill after hill.  The funny thing was with all the hills, the worst was probably still yet to come.

On one of the steeper uphill near mile 5.  The Rocky guy began to walk up it and adjust his robe.  I ran by him.  He caught back up after that.  We went back and forth a bit in this section.  We chatted a little, mostly about how much the course was sucking.

Mile 5 was 8 minutes flat (that might be the only time flat will be used in this post).  From this point on, at least my miles were pretty consistent.  I was just taking it easy.  My legs actually still felt alright.  The next section was perhaps the most frustrating part.  It was a hill of course, but it was also a gravel road that had no grip.  I slipped and slide as I made my way up the hill.  I tried to find parts of the road that were in better condition.  I didn't have much luck.

I saw my dad at the cemetery at the top of the hill.  That might've been good if I was still actually racing at this point.  He gave me a GU gel, even though I probably wasn't working hard enough to need it.

There was a nice downhill as we approached the turnaround.  As I had told the Rocky guy, the problem is that any of these downhills now were just another uphill on the way back.  I knew we still had plenty of those to come.

It was good to turnaround.  I was happy that I could run downhill on the gravel road this time.  Passing all the runners coming back was somewhat encouraging.  Since I wasn't pushing that hard, I said "thanks" when they said kind words to me.

I was ahead of the Rocky guy at the turnaround, but I guess he got a second wind then.  He decided to fly by me shortly after that.  I told him that I've run a marathon faster than the current pace (just 7 miles into this race).  I still kept him in my sights as he pulled ahead.  These couple hills here were very steep on the way back.  I was so beat going up them.

I was in 13th place at this point and we were so strung out that I knew even with how slow I was going, I wouldn't be passed very often.  I ran a lot of this part on my own.  It was lonely running and of course more hills.  The frustrating thing about it was that there never seemed to be a better section to run.  It was all up and down, up and down.  Getting into any kind of rhythm was impossible.

Back on the main road, it was more of the same.  I passed the Rocky guy again.  This time, I knew it was for good.  He was starting to breath heavy and I wasn't.  I was just sort of on cruise control.  I knew there would be no way that he'd come back on me.  Right before I passed him, I said something and I guess he didn't hear me because he had headphones on (I couldn't tell because of the robe on his head).  I startled him when I went by a short time later. 

I was happy to make it to mile 9.  Somewhere around this point I looked back to see where the Rocky guy was at and I saw another guy coming up.  I knew that he would eventually get me too.  He did somewhere around the 10 mile point.

As I hit double digits, I was starting to get a little sore.  There was one interesting incident around this time.  They had blocked off a road crossing and I guess some hotshot on a motorcycle didn't like it so he drove through the roadblock and then sped up to about 60-70 MPH on this country road.  I yelled at him to slow down.  I wasn't concerned for myself, but the pack of runners that were behind me.  I guess there wasn't an issue.  Thank God, he could've killed someone.

Some time after mile 11, my left big toe started bothering me.  I guess that pushing off on all the uphill took its toll.  My quads were definitely feeling the brunt of all these hills by now too.  I couldn't wait to get through the last 2 miles and be done.  I noticed that my GPS was actually about a tenth of a mile ahead of their course mile markers.  That was so much better than being behind.

As I was nearing the turn onto the road to the casino, I knew another guy was coming.  I just didn't have the energy or desire to fight him off when he did come to me.  There was still one killer uphill on this road.  It was good to be over it, but I didn't actually know if there were any other hills or not.

I could see the light posts from the horse racing track.  That was kind of encouraging.  For about the final mile and a quarter, I saw that I would be just over a 1:40 finishing time.  I didn't even have the desire to kill myself and try to go under it.  Perhaps I could've, but it wouldn't been tough.  Although I ran much easier, that didn't save my legs a lot.  They were still quite beat up from the hills.

I was passed inside the final mile.  Even if I wanted to try to battle that guy, I couldn't.  He was just flying.  I looked back and saw that I had a good gap to the next guy.  At least a lot of the final mile was flat.

We entered the road into the casino and track.  That was a nice downhill and it was good to see the finish.  Of course, there was still a short uphill to go.  I just cruised in.  Some people were cheering at the finish, but I wasn't really happy enough to acknowledge them.  I probably should've.  I came it at just under 1:41.

I wasn't quite sure what kind of shape I was in, but never imagined that I could run anything slower than 1:40, regardless of the course.  Of course, I didn't anticipate the course being this hard either.  I did go out too fast, but even if I didn't, I doubt I could've done any better than a 1:38.  On a flat course, I'm confident that I would've run at least a 1:35, maybe better.  I don't quite have the ability to hold a fast pace for quite that long, so guessing a time would be tough.  I did feel awesome though and the weather was actually perfect.  What a shame.

What bothers me more than anything about the hills is that they made it so challenging on a race that is supposed to be a fun movie themed style.  I was talking to a woman in the bathroom line and she said this was her first half marathon and that she had only trained up to 9 miles.  This route absolutely must've killed her and others like her.  I was actually surprised that I didn't come across more people walking.  I guess that is because when I saw them, they were still in the first half of the run.

Even though I tried to save my legs, they still got quite beat up.  I'm very sore.  I went to the casino with my parents and at least my mom had fun playing the slots and we ate at the buffet.  It wasn't a totally wasted trip.  Had I know this course would be so hard, I would've ran the easier race of the two spring half marathons that I was looking at.

I was amazed at how competitive my 30-35 age group was.  I was 14th overall, 13th male and didn't even win an award.  Of the 12 guys ahead of me, 5 were in my age group.  I was kind of happy because the award ceremony apparently wasn't starting until an hour after we left.

I'm glad that at least all the resting I did seemed to help.  My legs were so fresh.  Hopefully I can get them to stay that way and still run a lot.  I'm not looking to increase my mileage, but I would like to put in 50+ mile weeks through the rest of the summer.  We also had to stop at bathrooms several times on the way out and I'm glad that I had no issues of those sorts during the race.

I thought about going to Jennie's Trexler run tomorrow, but I think I'm just too sore.  Even walking all the hills, it would still be very difficult.  I'll probably rest tomorrow and Monday.  On Monday, I am getting a massage.  Hopefully that will help my legs recover.  I won't run that day either and I'll take it easy on my Tuesday run.  Going forward, I need 20+ miler and faster speedwork sessions.  Those will be my main weekly focus.

13.1 miles - 1:40:51 (7:42)

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Taper Magic

I wasn't planning to taper for this upcoming half marathon.  It isn't a goal race and my goal races are coming up in July and September.  However, I did too much and beat myself up like I always do.  That forced me into a taper. 

Last week I ran 25 miles.  After struggling on Saturday, I hadn't run since.  I wanted to get my weekly Trexler run in to keep the streak alive.  I think it is up to around 18 straight weeks.  I don't have much time to run tomorrow or Thursday, so today was the ideal day.  I didn't have any real plan, other than to run there and not kill myself doing it.

The weather was great.  It wasn't anywhere near as hot as it has been lately.  There was also a nice breeze.  I still sweated plenty, but it was much better than it has been.  I bought new trails shoes.  They were updated ones of my last pair.  That pair had a hole in the toe, so I figured that it was time for an upgrade.  The shoes worked well.

I started off at the beginning of the Quadzilla course.  I decided right away that I would take it super easy and let my legs recover even more.  I chose to walk the tougher hills.  That turned out to be a great decision.

The start is on pavement and downhill.  It was an amazing feeling.  My legs felt so fresh and so much better than they have in weeks.  Finally, the rest is helping and I think this taper is working.  I was so excited in the early going that I wanted to dance around.

I cruised nice and easy and enjoyed a comfortable run for a change.  It was so much better than last week.  I went on to the Covered Bridge Trail, still running easy.  After that, I headed on to the true trail.  This part is uphill right away, so I began walking.

I hate the idea of walking, but it sure felt and worked great today.  It didn't last too long and I was back to running again.  I cruised along feeling fresh and truly enjoying everything.  The first mile finishes up near the first road crossing.  It felt like it was over in a flash.  Obviously with some walking, it wasn't as fast as usual, but it still wasn't too bad.  I came in at 9:57.

Shortly after the road crossing, there is some uphill.  I ran it a little bit, but when I rounded the corner, I just began walking.  I did develop some slight soreness, but it wasn't bad.  The undersize of my foot bothered me more than anything.  So many times, I've already been dragging at this point.  That wasn't the case today.

I was able to run for quite awhile.  I decided that whenever I got to a hill, if my legs started burning or I was breathing heavy, I'd walk.  That strategy worked great.

Right around the 2 mile mark, I began the fairly long and steep uphill.  I ran the bottom of it, but walked most of it.  I can run up this hill, but it always kills me.  With more walking, the second mile was slower.  Still, it was only a 10:59.

At the top of the hill, I felt awesome.  I began running again and cruised along the rolling hills.  I saw 3 or 4 animals cross the trail.  They were like the size of cats, but looked orange and kind of like they might be juvenile foxes.  I don't know, since I didn't get a great look at them.

This section of rolling hills was fun.  It is exposed to the sun, so that can be difficult.  I continued to feel great though.  I should probably run/walk more often.  One hill got kind of steep, so I walked it.  This area was just mowed and I was glad for that.  The high grass can sometimes have ticks in it.

I came down the hill and hit the next road crossing around the third mile.  That mile was run at 10:13.  Certainly, I was running slower, but it wasn't that much of a difference.  I was feeling so much fresher and enjoying the run more than I have in awhile.  I probably would've been able to run better here with some rested legs today, but the walking was definitely helping a lot too.

The time and miles seemed to go by fairly quickly.  That said, I still figured that I would cut the run short.  I didn't want to go the full loop when I'm working on cutting back this week.

I walked up the steep hill to the Environmental Center and then flew up some of the nearby short hills.  I knew I'd be walking up the really steep one soon.  I got to that one and began walking it.  I was still feeling good, but I thought I might as well head back.  I didn't need to overdo it.

I ran back towards the road to the zoo.  My friend Aaron told me about a way to cut off a couple miles and the tough hills.  Next time I'm there, I might try to do it.  Today, I just decided to pass on that.

I ran downhill with ease, to the creek crossing near the Ford.  I then ran in the flat area along the creek, towards the zoo.  I finished up in the back of the zoo and walked back to my car.  That was some uphill.  Next time, I should walk on the road.

It was amazing how fresh I felt and how much walking helped.  I might actually be able to strategically walk during the race and put up a faster time there.  It's an ego thing though, (how much I can run) so I can't see myself racing that way.  I will try walking more on training runs though.

I still love running at Trexler, but had kind of been dreading some of the runs lately.  It's a combination of being there so often and it being so challenging.  I never have a day there that seems easy.  That changed today thanks to walking the hills.  It made the whole run go much better.  Ultrarunners walk a lot of hills and I can see how that could be an effective race strategy.

On Sunday, I was out at the course preview for Saturday's half marathon.  I'm glad I took a trip out there.  I assumed the terrain was relatively flat, but it is anything but.  It is nonstop rolling hills through farmland.  I'm strong on hills, so I don't mind that, but it was good to know how it would be.  If I can run feeling fresh, like I did today, that would be a big boost.

I don't know if I'll run again at all before the race on Saturday.  If I do, it will be a short run, just to get my legs churning.  I might even make it moderate paced.  Resting more certainly wouldn't hurt either.  My legs still could use it.

5 miles - 50:41 (10:08 pace)

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Struggling Through Six

Yesterday's run went a little better than most of this week, but today's run was back to being crappy.  After an easy 8 miles yesterday, I was looking for an easy 6 miles today.  I was tired, so I slept in a little and didn't get to any of the early morning runs or races.

Instead, I ran just before noon.  I used to run all the time on the Nor-Bath Trail, but I haven't been there much at all since I took 3 weeks off in December.  I recall one run there when it was snow covered, but that is about it.  It is nice in that it is close, but I really don't care much for the trail.  It's just a boring run through farm fields.

I was only looking to do an easy 6 miles, so I figured I could handle it.  It is supposed to rain off and on today.  Most of the run it was cloudy with some breeze.  However, it was unbelievably humid.  I had on a normal short sleeve tech shirt and even it was soaked by the end.

I like to start at Bicentennial Park.  That way, I can run in both directions.  The plan was about a mile out and a mile back as I first headed towards Bath.  I then wanted to turn around and do the remainder of the run in the other direction.

I started off pretty slow.  I wasn't sore or in pain, but my legs felt so dead and sluggish.  Maybe last week is still getting to me.  I did cut my mileage in half this week, but that might not have been enough.  I guess I may need more rest.

I passed a couple people running the other direction.  I think they were starting from the far end when I was driving to the park.  Not too many people were out running.  I mostly just saw bikers and some walkers.  This trail is rarely used heavily.

I got out to mile 1 in a slow 9:01.  I was happy with that though, because I really don't want to push it.  I wish I could start out this slow more often.  I only seem to do it when my legs are kind of dead, like today.  Then, it takes them awhile to come around.

I saw a cat in the trail at one point.  He moved out of the way.  This was a busy run for animals.  I saw at least one squirrel, two chipmunks, a groundhog and either a groundhog or beaver.  Whatever the last one was, it was climbing a tree.

I did get better and better as the run went on, but still typically felt like crap.  After a mile, I decided that I would just keep going.  I normally don't go any farther in this direction, because I'd have to cross busy Airport Road.  I did have to wait briefly, but it wasn't too bad.  I couldn't believe that the 2nd mile wasn't faster than 8:50, but waiting did cost me a few seconds there.

I just decided I would continue on as far I could go.  The farther out I could get, the less I'd have to run back in the other direction.  I turned around at the end of the trail somewhere past 2.33 miles.

I headed back and continued to feel like crap.  My shirt was soaked and my legs were dead.  I actually considered quitting at 3 miles.  I would've had a long walk back.  I just focused on getting to mile 4.

I kept hoping it would rain, but it never did.  Now as I write this, it is pouring and there is some thunder.  Maybe I did get the run in just in time. 

I think this direction was downhill, but really I'm not even sure.  This trail is definitely pretty flat as neither direction seems much easier.  I struggled along.  I got to mile 4 and ran that in a solid 8:10.

I thought I had already come to the park entrance shortly after 4 miles, but I realized that I was wrong.  I didn't actually get there until 4.75 miles.

I was hoping that I could relax and enjoy this run, but since I felt like such crap, I was never able to do so.  I knew I could battle my way to mile 6, but I wasn't looking forward to that.  I just concentrated on smaller segments.

When I got to the next road crossing, I decided that I would either keep going if the road was clear or turn around if it wasn't.  I ended up turning around at 5.36 miles.  That 5th mile had actually gone under 8 minutes.

I wasn't feeling strong, but I wanted to get it over with, so I pushed a little more on the way back.  Finally, with about half a mile to go, I took my soaked shirt off.  That was quite the relief.  I probably should've done it earlier as the humidity just beat me down.  I finished with a strong 7:52 last mile.  I was just past the park entrance.  It was good to be done.

I was so exhausted when this run was over.  The humidity certainly got to me and clearly last week's high mileage week is still wearing on me.  I suspect my allergies are causing me problems too.  They were way worse when I was a kid and don't seem to bother me much now.  I still suspect they might be having some impact on my breathing and just how I feel in general during runs.  The trees have been going pretty crazy lately.  That was one nice thing about city running and living, a lack of trees and green space.  I really stopped having major allergy problems when I was down in Philadelphia.

Originally, I was thinking of a 10 mile run for tomorrow, possibly on the course for next week's race.  Now, I'm not sure if I'll even run at all.  The only thing I'm certain about is that I'll run Trexler once next week, to keep the streak alive.  Other than that, I don't think I'll be running much.  Dave is leading a trail run at Lehigh tomorrow morning as well.  I might give it a go. 

Clearly, my body needs more rest.  Maybe I can get enough before next Saturday and then I can run a good half marathon.  I'm not hopeful though and after this week, I certainly don't have my sights set very high for the race.  I'll just see how I feel and see how it goes.  Maybe I'll surprise myself.

6 miles - 50:32 (8:25 pace)