Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Nighttime Loops

Tonight was the first time I had run since Dave Decker's Loopy Run on Saturday.  The legs were kind of beat up for a few days, but really it was more due to me being very busy.  I don't mind running only twice a week, but if I'm going to do that, I need to bike more often.  I only rode once this week.

I should have run last night, but I wouldn't have been able to until after dark.  That was the case again today.  When I got home, it was already dusk.  This time, I decided to just run in the dark.  I grabbed my headlamp and planned to head out the door.

Right as I walked outside, I heard the neighbor's dog barking.  I figured there might be other dogs out during the run, so I put my headlamp back and changed plans.  I decided I would just run loops in the parking lot at the elementary school next to my house.  There is no traffic and it is lit too, so that's a big plus.

It was hot and humid all day and really all week.  I thought running at night would be better and I guess it was, but it was still awful.  It was so humid.  I took my shirt off by the second lap.  I was soaked by the end.

I began by running counterclockwise.  So that I didn't stress one leg too much, I switched directions about every 4 laps.  The beginning was terrible.  My legs should've been rested, but instead they felt so slow and stiff.

I struggled through that first lap.  Things would get a little better, but not much.  I was slow and had some trouble breathing in the humid air.

I figured out that the first lap was about .3 miles long.  I calculated that it would take me 16 full laps and part of a 17th lap to complete the planned 5 mile run.

As usual with repetitive running like this, the first couple repeats are the most difficult.  During each lap, I said to myself over and over again, "17 laps to go."  Doing a countdown was kind of nice, especially when I got near the end.

Most of the run was kind of the same and uneventful.  The only interesting thing is that a car stopped at the school entrance.  I thought maybe they would talk to me for directions or something, but thankfully they didn't.  I kept wondering if cops would drive by, but they didn't.  They sure would've wondered what the heck I was doing in a school parking lot at 10 PM.  Long gone are my days of trashing schools at night though.

The course itself was generally easy.  The only challenging thing was that it was a slight uphill at one part.  That wasn't bad, until I had run it about 17 times.  By the end, it got to me a bit. 

This run was a mental challenge that I'm glad to be done with.  I wish I was feeling better.  I've been resting so much lately and still the legs feel like crap.  That really sucks.

I need to go to Trexler sometime this week.  I'm thinking maybe on Friday.  Perhaps I'll just do some hill repeats.  I'm not sure.  Quadzilla is almost here.  It was one of my goal races for the year, but with I'm feeling now, that is pretty much shot.  What a shame.  I'll just go out and run it hard and have some fun.

5 miles - 48:34 (9:43 pace)

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Dave Decker's Loopy Run at Lehigh

I didn't run on Thursday, but I did bike for an hour yesterday evening.  I thought that might cause me some problems for today's run, but it didn't.  It was one of Dave Decker's classic loopy runs.  This one was more challenging than the winter one because it was on the trails at Lehigh's Mountaintop Campus.  That made it a very hilly up and down course.

I was excited for this run because I couldn't really run much the last two times he put on runs like this.  A year ago, he held a trail run here, but I wasn't in great shape because I just came back to running.  I only managed 8 miles.  In the winter, my legs were beat up and I only ran 8 miles.  Today, I was hoping for much more. 

I arrived early and it was already crowded.  There was a huge turnout of close to 40 people on hand.  The way the run works is that each loop starts on the hour.  You have to complete the loop within that time frame to start the next loop.  The loops were a little over 4 miles long.  Dave marked the course with ribbons and also small American flags at the turns.

We started off as big group.  I wore my GoPro camera to get some photos of the run.  I especially wanted some of the group at the beginning of the loops.  The camera worked fairly well and got some good photos, although running through the woods, a lot of them end up blurry.

The weather was nice and cool at the beginning.  I was happy with that, especially since I knew it wouldn't last.  The start was actually very slow.  No one wanted to lead.  I started off easy and found myself out front.  Since I ran here last year, I did know the trails a bit.

It starts off downhill, but it doesn't take long until we are climbing.  Early on when I was out in front two deer ran across in front of me.  That was cool.  I thought I got some photos of them, but apparently not.

There was a guy, whose name I didn't know, out in front for some time.  Then, on the uphill I took the lead.  I ran a good amount of the uphill on the first loop, but also walked quite a bit.  There was a pretty long climb.  I wanted to make sure to save myself.

Eventually, Wayne and this guy Todd passed me and took the lead.  I wasn't too far behind the though.  For whatever reason, the first few miles seemed to take long.  I guess I just wasn't used to the slow pace.  I ended up running a lot this loop with Emily and her sister Allison.  I wasn't about to push ahead and try to stay with Wayne and Todd and I wanted to go easy on this one anyway.  Allison was complaining quite a bit.  She was also breathing heavy.  She doesn't run trails or hills much.  I felt kind of bad because this was easy for me.

I was actually amazed at how easy it seemed.  Maybe it was the slow pace, maybe it was walking up hills, or maybe I am just that much stronger than a year ago.  It was definitely easier now than it was then.

After the uphill, there is a lot of flat or downhill and that middle section is very runnable.  Then, the route ends with a lot of uphill in the final mile.  The end is actually an uphill stair climb.  When I got to that point, I was feeling good.  Wayne and Todd were walking up it.  I kept running and just passed them.  I knew they'd kill me later on, so it felt kind of good to be the first one done.  Emily was right behind me.

That first loop took 47 minutes.  The good thing about finishing early was that you get more time to recover.  I rested a bit and grabbed some Gatorade.  I think just about everyone was able to finish this loop in time.  I knew it would be tough for some of the slower people to do so later on.

We started off the second loop after some recovery.  In some of the early downhill, there are mountain bike obstacles.  Rather than take the normal route, I decided to try to be funny and run over those.  There was a jump at the end that I didn't see until I was basically on top of it.  At that point, I was flying and couldn't slow down.  I ended up over running the trail slightly.  I nearly took a major spill, but luckily I didn't.

This time, Wayne and Todd knew the course and they took off ahead of us.  I did more of the same as the first loop.  I walked a lot of uphills and ran the rest.  I was surprised how great my quads felt.  I love trail runs.  For most of this loop, I ran with Emily and Allison.  Around the halfway point, Angie came flying up behind us and passed us.  She was strong.  I followed her fast pace for awhile and could've kept with her, but I figured I would probably pay for it in later loops.

Now, it was Emily, Allison and I.  Allison was moaning after the first loop, but toughened up and headed out for a second loop.  Now, she was really complaining.  After a while, it got kind of comical.  One cool thing is that we ran on the road at the lookout.  While there, Emily and I stopped to wait for Allison.

Emily kept telling Allison that we would go easier.  Of course, Emily doesn't actually know the meaning of easy.  When we got to the uphill part in the final mile, she took off.  I didn't want to leave Allison alone and I was in no rush because we would easily finish, so I hung back with her. 

She fell at one point, but luckily was okay.  She complained and then complained some more.  Still, she was tough.  I tried to keep her thinking positive.  I made sure not to run too fast and I made sure to walk quite a bit.  Hopefully I was helpful.  When we got to the road section at the end, I ran ahead of her.  I finished up this loop at a slower 51 minutes.

We were over 8 miles at this point and I still felt great.  I couldn't believe it.  With my recovery time after this loop, I grabbed my chair, a towel and an energy bar.  It was starting to get warm and so that I didn't chafe, I took off my shirt.

It was off to the 3rd loop.  I knew by now that I'd have no issue finishing this loop.  Wayne and Todd took off ahead of me.  Angie and Emily did that same, but were behind them.  I didn't want to push too much though.  I thought I would have to run this loop alone for good portions of it.  Then, a woman came up behind me.  Later, she introduced herself as Linda.

At first, it was kind of annoying because I wanted her to go ahead of me.  I'd rather follow someone than be followed and have to set the pace.  She never did go ahead of me though.  Eventually, we got to the uphill final mile.  She fell off and I went ahead. 

I ended up running a good portion of the uphill at the end of this loop.  I actually passed Mel and Christina on this section.  After finishing this loop up, I was at almost 13 total miles.  This loop ended at just under 50 minutes.

One thing I did need was a new pair of socks.  There were a lot of rocks and my toes were paying for it.  I could feel the feet getting hot.  The new socks were a huge help.  That was just about my only problem, other than the heat.  I couldn't believe how good I felt and how easy the run felt.  I knew I'd definitely complete a 4th loop.

I tried to convince Emily to run another loop, but surprisingly it didn't work.  Now, it was just Wayne, Todd, Angie, Mel and I continuing on.  Wayne and Angie went well ahead.  Todd ran this loop with his wife, so they were well behind.  I ran with Mel.  He stayed behind me most of the run.  Angie walked a lot of the early uphills, as did I.  I wasn't too far behind her.  For some reason, there seemed like a lot more uphill in the beginning of this loop.  Maybe it was because I was walking more of it.

As I went through the flat and downhill section, my groin started to bother me.  It was a problem when I extended it, such as when I leaped over big rocks or logs.  One thing that was funny is how my attitude kept shifting.  This loop was tough and finally getting to me.  When I was running on flats or downhill, I felt like I could run a 5th loop.  On the uphill parts, I thought there was no way that I'd run anymore.

Ending this loop was definitely a struggle.  I still tried to run quite a bit of it.  Really, it wasn't that difficult to come in under an hour again.  This was the slowest loop yet, but it was still only 53 minutes.

I made sure to drink a lot more after this loop.  I was still undecided of whether or not I would keep going.  I waited to see how I would recover.  This time, the recovery period seemed short.  The heat was certainly getting to me.

I wasn't sure if I could run the whole loop.  I figured I could get about half of it, but I knew the rest would be tough.  I decided that I might as well try and I could cut back on a road if I needed to.  I headed out and felt good with the downhill.  Then I got to the uphill before the road crossing.  I walked up it and even walking it was tough.  I knew a lot of uphill would be coming up.

If I could've made it through that uphill section, I probably would've been good.  Just thinking about all that walking and how hard it would be caused me to call it a day.  I could've finished this loop, but I didn't want to overdo it and jeopardize my marathon training.

Of course quitting there didn't make it easy.  I still had to walk up the mountain along the road.  I had run almost a mile at that point and still had about another mile to walk to get back to the parking area.  I was exposed to the sun at that point too.  I walked back and sat right down because I was exhausted.  My feet were getting very sore.

I recovered some and then relaxed and chatted with everyone else that was done.  I waited until Wayne and Todd came back.  They were the only ones left running.  I was happy to put in 18+ miles on trails.  That was the most that I've ever done on a trail.  It would've been nice to get over 20 miles, but 18 was fine.

I watched Wayne start again for a 6th loop.  He was the only one that was going to keep going.  I was tired and didn't want to wait another hour, so I headed home.  It was nice to be running on trails, where my legs didn't get as beat up as they would've been on 18 pavement miles.  It was great having so many wonderful friends to run and hangout with.

Tomorrow, will certainly be an off day.  I might try an easy bike ride at some point.  I'll probably do a longer ride on Monday.  On Tuesday, I'd like to run again.  Maybe I'll do so at Trexler.  It would be nice to consistently get back to 3 or 4 days a running a week.  What I did learn today is that I might not have any speed right now, but my endurance is great.  It is probably at an all time best.  That will help for the marathon in a few months.  I was already thinking about running my first ultra in the fall and this might have pushed me even more into that direction.

 18.33 miles

Loop 1 4.25 miles - 47:04 (11:04 pace)
Loop 2 4.40 miles - 51:45 (11:46 pace)
Loop 3 4.30 miles - 49:53 (11:36 pace)
Loop 4 4.38 miles - 53:20 (12:10 pace)

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Perfect Evening for a Trexler Run

I haven't run since Sunday's long run.  I was on the bike on Monday.  I wanted to do something yesterday, particularly go for a run, but I was just too busy and couldn't squeeze anything in.  That meant that I had to run today and if I wanted to keep my weekly Trexler streak alive, this was a good time to do so.

I first went to a high school girls basketball game, so the run began around 7:30 in the evening
.  I started a little later than I would have because there was a fair right next to Trexler and they had hot air balloons.  I got some cool pictures.

All winter, I moaned and bitched about the cold and terrible weather every time I went to Trexler.  Today was one of the days I had been waiting for.  The weather was perfect.  It was in 70s, if even that warm, with low humidity.  I wish we had more days like that.

I couldn't decided what to do.  My legs didn't feel that great and I could already tell that before the run.  I actually almost considered doing hill repeats.  Even though that would be hard, at least there would be recovery in it.  I wasn't sure about running 3 or 4 consecutive hilly miles.

I did opt to run.  The plan was to try to get 2 miles out and turn around and hopefully run all the way back.  While I've been going to Trexler every week, I haven't been doing much quality running lately.  With the perfect conditions, I wish my legs were strong enough to run the whole loop.

The legs just felt awful when I started.  I lifted the other day and have biked quite a bit.  It was more of that kind of soreness you have after lifting some weights.  I just slowed down and tried to enjoy myself.  It's funny because when I was running here all winter, I didn't think I could slow down enough and actually have easy runs, but today I did just that because I didn't have much choice.

Getting up the big hill by the Environmental Center was as easy as it has ever been.  These cool conditions were amazing.  Shortly after that hill, a deer ran across the trail in front of me.  That is always cool to see.

I continued on past the bison pen and through the meadow section.  The first mile was a very slow and relaxed 10:54.  Whenever I do get healthy again, I need to learn how to run like this every now and then.

I went over the rocks and then had the long climb to contend with.  That wasn't too bad either.  The dogs that usually bark from the houses next to the trail weren't out.  Everything was going well.  As I ran through the one section with high grass alongside the trail, I kept looking in the grass.  I came face to face with a skunk last time I ran the area.  There was no such thing today.

After turning around, there is a lot of downhill for the next mile.  When going downhill, I felt like I might have to go to the bathroom.  Thankfully, this feeling only happened on the downhill and it wasn't bad enough to make me stop. 

After the rocky section, I headed back into the zoo.  This was probably the best part of the run.  I got so lucky.  Every time I've ever run through there, the gate has been open.  Right as I was approaching the gate, it began closing.  I sprinted through just in time.  I didn't even know they closed that gate and getting around it might've been difficult.  I could've taken a road back if I needed to, but that would've been a long route.  I timed that perfectly and it was a good thing that I didn't go out any farther.

After how well everything went, I couldn't help by think of Ice Cube's "It was a Good Day" song.  I made it up the short, steep hill with no problems either.  Taking it easy was a big help today.  It allowed me to get over the hills much easier.  Of course the perfect weather conditions helped too.

At this point, I still had quite a few hills left.  I knew the only one that would be difficult would be the last one before the Environmental Center.  I figured that I could probably will myself up that one if needed.  My legs still weren't great, but they got better as the run went along.

I even somewhat cruised up that final hill today.  I was breathing pretty good by the end of it, but there wasn't even a single thought of quitting.  It was a very solid 4 mile run.  I only wish I could've felt stronger and done even more.

Since I ran so easy today, I'm hoping I can run a tempo run tomorrow.  That will depend greatly on if my legs are recovered and feel better than they did today.  If not, it's no big deal.  I have a tough Dave Deck Loopy Run coming up on Saturday anyway.  Some additional rest wouldn't hurt.

4 miles - 41:35 (10:24 pace)

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Battling Through 14 Miles

I haven't run since Thursday.  The last few weeks, I've been going easy on the legs.  I've only been doing a long run and a fast session.  I'm trying to still get some quality sessions in without doing too much.  I am supplementing it with biking.  I rode 15 miles on Friday and 14 miles on Saturday.  I've also lifted some weights and did some pilates.  I'm trying to eat healthier too.  Hopefully I'll lose some weight.

Since it is Sunday, that meant a long run.  On Monday, I ran a 20 miler, so I needed to back off this weekend.  The goal was to run 14 miles.  I've headed to what is becoming my usual location of Penn Pump Park.  I actually like running on pavement.  I started off from there after 6 PM.  I worked in the morning and didn't get around to running until then.

It was windy and not too hot temperature wise, but apparently it was very humid.  I took my shirt off after a few miles and was still soaked by the end of the run.  It was like I went swimming.

I began by heading out toward Mill Race Park.  I didn't feel strong, but not terrible either.  It seemed more like it might've been from fatigue after the all the exercise, rather than my normal quad soreness.  I don't know.

In the beginning, I ran a faster pace because I was running on more of my mid foot or forefoot.  That's sort of how I had to run, because when I went slower my quads just felt awkward.  I cruised along.

I ran out past Mill Race Park.  I was then to Tatamy.  I wanted to go out farther during this stint.  I ran on the stone path for a short bit.  I went all the way out to the end of the path.  That was at 2.4 miles.

The start of long runs are always so tough.  The legs don't come in yet and knowing how many miles are left to go is a mental challenge.  That's why it was great to have Chris and Emily run with me in the beginning of last week's 20 miler.

I headed back and it was pretty uneventful.  When I got back to Penn's Grant Open Space, I went there.  It is a nice wooded path along a smaller creek.  It has some minor up and down, so that was good to do in the beginning.  This section added about .8 miles to the run.  I was now approaching 5 miles.

I had decent form and pace, throughout this first segment.  Most of the miles were under 9 minutes.  That's still kind of slow compared to where I used to be, but a decent pace for me now.  I was back at Penn Pump Park about 5.25 miles into the run.  I stopped for some much needed water in this humidity.

I didn't want to stop too long because it is tough to get going again.  That was the case as I headed into the closed section.  I didn't want to go all the way to the Arts Trail, so I was headed to the end of the trail and then a little bit onto Bushkill Drive.  I ended up going out about 1.25 miles.

I arrived back at the car at 8.25 miles.  I was so beat at this point.  My legs were dead and the humidity was getting to me.  I was about to quit.  I decided that I need to be mentally stronger, so after a water stop, I pushed on.

I was going slow again as I headed back toward Mill Race Park.  I now had 5.75 miles to complete the run.  I had no idea how that would happen, so I just focused on small pieces of the run.

When I got back to Penn's Grant Open Space, I headed out on that briefly.  It was about a quarter mile.  That was a nice, little addition.  This time, I only planned on going back to Tatamy and turning around.  When I arrived there, I was just under 11 miles into the run.  I decided to run to the 11 mile point and turn around.

It was hard to believe I still had 3 miles to go.  I was so exhausted and the legs were dead.  I guess the one good thing is that they weren't getting any worse.  When I was 4.44 miles out, I thought about getting to 3.33 miles.  Now, I was at 2.22 miles left.  I got to mile 12 and pushed on.

When I was back at Penn Pump Park, I was at the half marathon distance.  I headed back onto the closed section.  That didn't last though.  I noticed that the newer pavement was hard on my legs.

I went back on the normal path.  That was much better, although this final mile was a struggle.  I wasn't feeling good at any time during the run, but this last mile was noticeably worse.

I headed out less than a mile.  Then, I went back and stopped just before Penn Pump Park.  It was a relief to be done.  I needed a lot of water afterward and I walked briefly.  It was good to not be as sore as I was last week.  I just hope that one day I can feel like this after a 20 mile run.  That might take some time.

I was very disappointed with how crappy I felt, but so glad I pushed through.  I've had a busy weekend and my body could probably use some rest.  I'd like to add some more running days this week.  If I do that, it will only be 3 or 4 mile runs, not 8+ mile midweek runs.  I had been doing a lot of those and they might've been wearing me down too.

Tomorrow, I'm not running.  I might do an easy half hour ride just to loosen up the legs.  I'd like to run at Trexler on Tuesday.  That would be short.  Then, I'll try a hard run again on Thursday.  Dave Decker has another Loopy Run on Saturday.  I don't want to do too much this week, so I'll have to see how I feel then and let that determine how many loops I run.

14 miles - 2:11:06 (9:22 pace)

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Mixed Results

I haven't run since my 20 miler on Monday.  The legs have been sore since then, but they never were too bad.  It seemed more like a normal soreness, rather than an injured soreness.  I should've biked yesterday, that might've helped loosen the legs up.  However, I did nothing physical.

I couldn't sleep last night and I almost went for a tempo run at 1 AM.  It was supposed to rain all day today, so I thought getting out of the way might be a good idea.  I didn't feel all that great at the time though, so I passed on the idea.

It rained very heavy right before I went into work at lunchtime.  Then things cleared up and it was dry most of the afternoon.  I decided to head to Mill Race Park to run my tempo run.  I was hoping to build upon the run two week ago, where I ran 4 straight miles at just over a 7 minute pace.  I wanted to do 5 fast miles this time.

I started off heading toward Tatamy.  The legs weren't sore, but they just felt so tight and stiff.  Maybe some stretching would've helped.  The pace said it was about 10:30 after a half mile.  With how cloudy it was, I'm not sure the GPS was accurate, but I was definitely going slow.

Usually I can tell how good a workout will be based on how I feel during the warmup.  Since I was going slow, I figured that it might be tough day.  I was just glad that I chose to run a 2 mile warmup segment.  I wasn't quite sure what to think of today.

Again, my legs just felt kind of different today.  It seemed more like they would feel a few days after a 20 mile run, rather than the beat up soreness that has slowed my progress lately.  At one point during the 2nd mile, I pushed the pace a little, just to see if the legs would go.  They did and I backed off after a short distance.

When I finished up mile 2 and was into the fast part of the run I was already well on my way toward Penn Pump Park.  I had to navigate around the closed gates in the new section, but I didn't have to stop much at road crossings today.  That was a big plus.

I think the GPS was wrong early on in the fast segment.  At one point, it said I was running under a 6 minute pace.  I was going hard, but not that hard.  It came back up and crept closer to a 7 minute pace.  That was more realistic.

After about a quarter mile, I had been wondering how I would even be able to keep the pace for another few tenths of a mile.  My legs just wouldn't go.  There was no snap.  They were dead.

Still, I continued to push on.  I figured I might as well keep it up until my pace dropped.  It was at 6:58 for awhile.  The pace slid some, but not much more than 10 seconds as I approached this first fast mile.  That mile ended up being a 7:08.

I was working way too hard at this point.  My breathing was very heavy in addition to my legs bothering me.  Actually, by now my legs didn't feel as bad.  They were beginning to come around.  I had just been pushing too hard though.  I knew I couldn't sustain this effort for much longer.

I got to the end of the path about 1.25 miles into the tempo segment.  I turned around and headed back.  By now, I was really dying.  For once, I stayed positive mentally and kept going.  After all, my pace was about the same as the first hard mile.  With the effort I was putting out though, I felt like I should've been running around 6:30.  It just took so much work to get me going today.

There were some kids swimming in a pool next to the trail.  They yelled "hi" the first time I went by.  This time, I acknowledged them and yelled "hi" back.  I was too focused on finishing this second fast mile to pay too much attention.  I did finish that mile just before Penn Pump Park.

After two hard miles, there just was nothing left in the tank.  I had pushed myself through a tough spot, but I didn't have it any more.  Maybe I could've stretched this segment out a little farther if I was running with someone, but I doubt I could've put in much more.  I gave a lot of effort and now it was time to listen to my aching legs and back off.  There is no point in doing too much just a few days after a 20 miler.

Since I didn't run hard for very long, I opted for only a one mile cool down.  I cruised along now.  Even though it was only in the 70s, I was still sweating like crazy.  My singlet was soaked and I took it off at this point.  The cool down was okay, although I started to tightened up by the end of the mile.  I was glad to be done.

I had to walk a mile back to the car.  That gave me plenty of time to reflect.  I feel a little better than I did a week ago at this time.  The good thing about going through a tough patch like this is that hopefully I'll learn what doesn't work for me and I'll become a better runner in the long run.  I'm open to experimenting and trying a lot different things.  I definitely need to eat better and lose weight.  That is a given.  I lifted some weights with my legs after the run and hopefully I'll strengthen them.  I never use weights, so I don't want to do too much with them.

I'm just so frustrated now.  Friends post stuff on facebook all the time about being motivated and getting yourself out the door.  That's never been my problem.  It is figuring out how to run and feel great doing so.  If my body was on the same page as my mind right now, I'd be logging 80-100 miles a week.  Maybe one day I'll get there.

I expected my running to plateau or even decline at some point.  However, I figured it would be after a few years of consistent running, not this soon.  One of the biggest problems is that I try to compare 2010 me with the current me.  I was ahead of schedule last fall, so I figured I'd just keep improving like I did in 2010 and by now I'd be better than I was at this point in the past.  However, I have to accept the fact that this is a different me.  This current runner with Crohn's Disease and on medication is not the same one as when I wasn't diagnosed yet back in 2010.  That is certainly true when I consider that I'm probably about 30 pounds heavier right now than I was back then.

For now, I just have to experiment with what works and what doesn't work for the current me, not the past me or anyone else for that matter.  Hopefully, I'll be able to look back on this period in a few months and years from now and say I learned a lot and that it was a big turning point.

Today's run wasn't quite what I had hoped for, but just a few days removed from the 20 miler and I'll take it.  Tomorrow, I might do a short and easy run at Trexler.  If I feel good on Saturday I might run long with the BCR.  It would only be 13 miles or so, nothing as long as Monday.

5 miles - 41:45 (8:21 pace)

Monday, June 10, 2013

Finally a 20 Miler

I ran a 17 mile long run on the day of the Boston Marathon bombing, April 15th.  In the nearly 2 months since, it has been a slow go when it comes to long runs.  Some days, I wasn't able to go as far as I would've liked.  Other days, my quads were bothering me so much that I took off entirely.  I did get some good long runs in, including an 18 miler a while back and a 17 miler two weeks ago.  Still, I was hoping to have a 20 miler or two under my belt by this point.  Today, I finally went out and completed a 20 miler. 

When I was trying to find answers for my quad problems, I saw a crazy idea in Running Times a few years back.  It suggested running hard downhill for about 30 seconds and do 4 repeats to start.  They said that it would make them sore afterward, but the quads would feel great when they finally recovered.  I figured that I might as well give it a try.  I ran 4 downhill repeats at Jacobsburg in the rain on Friday.  On Saturday, I tried to do the same at Trexler, but after one repeat I just quit.  My quads were too sore and the hill I chose was too steep for running fast and under control.

Sunday, I was still too sore to run.  This morning, I woke up feeling much better.  There was some mild soreness lingering, but it wasn't enough to stop me from attempting my first real run since Thursday's tempo run.

It was raining when I left the house and looking at the weather map, it was going to ran all day.  I also wanted to go to some basketball games this evening and I have a doctor's appointment tomorrow afternoon.  I didn't have any options, but to run the long run in the rain.

Because it was raining, I had to stay on pavement.  There was no way I was going to run on a soggy stone trail.  At first, I thought of doing the loop around Easton, but I didn't want to have to stop for a drink and carry money that would get soaked.  Therefore, I needed a paved out and back.  I headed to Penn Pump Park to begin there.

As I was getting dressed, I saw vehicle pull in.  I thought it was my friend Chris's.  When I saw the running stickers, I knew it was his.  He didn't see me and was about to go run, so I yelled to him.  He waited for me to finish changing and I tried to do so quickly.  I actually wanted to put on a singlet, but in the rush I ended up wearing what I drove there with.  At least it was a tech shirt.

Chris and I took off and headed toward Mill Race Park.  I was glad that I bumped into him and had some company.  He was nice enough to run slow for me.  It was actually a little on the quicker side for one of my long runs, but I wasn't complaining.  It was good to have company.  We chatted and the first 2 miles went by rather quickly.  They were both over 8 minutes each.

When we got to the path at Tatamy, I told Chris that I was going to turn around.  It was stone and I didn't want to run through the slop.  Chris continued on.  I was hoping to run 2.5 miles out and 2.5 back for the first leg, but this would have to do.  I turned around and headed back.

I got just past Penn Treaty Park and I saw a young lady coming the other way with a dog.  I figured that it was likely my friend Emily, who I saw running with her dog there last week too.  Sure enough, it was her.  Funny, how we end up going there at the same time.  I wanted a little extra distance in this segment, so I turned around to run with her and her dog.

The dog, Brick, loves to run, but apparently he also likes to jump at me.  He kept trying to do that, until Emily got between me and him and then he ran along fine.  It was great to have some more company.  My long runs would probably be so much easier if I ran with people.

We went out to Mill Race Park and turned around.  That was some good extra distance.  I figured since we went out more, Chris would eventually catch up with us and he did.  The three of us, plus pooch, ran together.  Since Chris and Emily both tend to run faster than me, the pace picked up.  It became brisk for me, but I was glad that it didn't kill me.  Emily left us at Penn Treaty Park.

The next mile clocked in at 7:41.  That might've been correct.  I don't know if the three of us were going that fast, but it seemed likely.  Chris and I finished up back at Penn Pump Park.  It was 5.3 miles into the run for me.  The company was definitely great and as I said to the two of them, "I'm going to miss the company throughout the rest of my run."

The good thing is that my legs were feeling good.  There was still some minor soreness, but nothing like last week.  I told Chris that I should be able to do at least get to 15 miles now.  I stopped for some much needed water and perhaps mostly importantly, a change of shirts.  My shirt was soaked and I wanted a singlet.

I headed out next on the path toward Easton.  Technically, this is closed still, but I run it all the time anyway.  My plan was to go out 3 miles and back 3 more this time.  To do that, I knew that I'd need to run on the Karl Steiner Arts Trail for some time.  The current trail didn't go much farther.  I was really disappointed when I discovered that it only goes out one more mile.

The trail ended before I knew it, and I was quickly on to Bushkill Drive.  You have to run on the road briefly to get to the Arts Trail.  The roads had some ups and downs, but at least no cars sprayed me with water.  Running down the road to cross over to the Arts Trail was tough.  It was very busy.  I finally made it over to the Arts Trail. 

On the way out, I saw the only other person that was out during the entire run, besides Chris and Emily.  He was just walking.  This trail goes to downtown Easton, so it can be kind of shady.  I thought about that as I was running alone.  The trail doesn't have any real steep sections, but it does go up and down.  At this point, I actually enjoyed that change.  I ran by the cemetery entrance and next to Route 22.  I still felt pretty solid.

I decided to go out to 8.5 miles.  That was kind of where the trail ends.  It goes a bit farther, but the rest of it is more on roads than a paved trail.  I headed back uphill.  Although I felt good, I couldn't believe I had over 10 miles to go.  I plugged away.

I went back uphill and manged to cross the road again and was on to Bushkill Drive.  I ran by a woman who was walking along the road.  I was glad that I didn't startle her.  I couldn't wait to get back onto the main trail.  Finally, I was there at around mile 10.7.  It was good knowing that I only had a little over 9 miles left.

By this point, my singlet was soaked and I could tell that I was starting to have some chafing issues because of it.  I took the singlet off at this point and ran the rest of the run shirtless.  It was nice and cool, so that wasn't a bad idea.  I arrived back at my car at mile 11.70.

I stopped for another drink and dropped my shirt off.  This time, I picked up an energy bar as well.  I needed some nutrition.  I ate it while running, so it was kind of hard to swallow.  I headed back toward Mill Race Park.  I thought that I would be very sore and slow when I restarted, but I didn't feel bad.  I was beat up a little, but not more than I expected.  At this point, I knew I'd at least get to 15 miles.  I was hoping when I got around 15 miles, I'd still feel about this good.

When I got to the path by Penn Treaty Park, I decided to take it to add some mileage.  I went out a short distance.  I ended up adding another .65 miles to the run.  Every little bit helped that this point.  There were no major hills here, but it was a mild up and down section.

By now, my big toes were bothering me.  I guess I had been contacting the ground too much.  I carried on though.  I started to struggle just a bit, but I just focused on getting to Tatamy again.  When I did arrive there, I turned around and headed back.

I kept plugging along and was looking forward to getting back to my car.  I wanted more water and another break.  It was a slow go, but I arrived back.  I think I was just over 16 miles at that point.  The water was big help.

I knew from now on that I needed shorter out and back segments to survive the rest of the run.  I needed to break the run down into smaller and more manageable chunks.  I headed out in the other direction again.  This time, I only wanted to get to the road crossing and turn around.  That would add about a mile to the run.  Every little bit helps though.  I felt good when I went out, but coming back was a struggle.  I think it was slightly uphill and my toes really bothered me.

This time, I continued on out.  I was at 17.5 miles.  I was getting close to my longest run of the year (18 miles).  I had definitely fallen off at this point.  The miles were well over 9 minutes each.  Still, I was surviving and figured I could make it all the way to my goal of 20 miles.

My hamstrings were actually getting tighter at this point.  The quads weren't all that bad.  The rain had slowed and I no longer had my hat.  Of course, now the sky opened up again and it poured.  I do love that though because running through it makes me feel so tough.

I tried to focus on getting a mile out.  That would put me at 18.5 miles.  I got over 18, but around 18.2, I got sick of heading out.  I turned around there and headed back.  I was right near a road crossing.  When I got halfway between that crossing and the next one, I turned back around again.  I wanted to get the extra distance in.

I just focused on small increments.  I was falling apart though.  I was over 19 miles when I arrived back at my car.  I went out in the shorter direction for one final time.  Now, it was just a short out and back.  It was all mental.  I got a side sticker at this point and the only thing that helped was leaning forward.  I ran along awkward and slow.  Somehow, I got to the 19.65 mile point and turned around and headed back.  Then I continued on and lumbered back in.  This final mile was so slow.  I finished it at 10:40.  I ran for just over 3 hours and felt good to be done.

I was so happy to battle the elements and myself and make it through.  I thought this would be my first solo 20 miler since 2010.  With unexpected early company, it wasn't.  That was great to have friends to run with.  I need to run long runs with people more often.  I really enjoyed the fact that the three of us BCR folks were the only ones out there running during the entire 3 hours that I was on the path.

I realized afterward that not only is this my first 20 miler in 3 years, but it is only the 7th time I've ever gone this far.  That includes my marathon races.  My body is definitely not used to this distance.  I hope that one day that will no longer be the case.

I was so tight at the end of the run and was grateful that I didn't cramp up.  I thought my drinking was okay, especially considering how wet and cool the air was.  I weighed myself afterward and lost about 9 pounds.  I guess I have to drink more. 

My legs will be very sore from this run.  Obviously, I'm not running tomorrow.  If I opt to run on Wednesday, it will be very short and easy.  I'll definitely at least bike then.  I'm hoping to do a tempo run on Thursday.  A lot of that will depend on how I recover from this one.

20 miles - 3:00:40 (9:02 pace)

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Making It Moderate

Monday's attempt at a long run in Jim Thorpe just destroyed my quads.  Again, it left me rethinking how I train.  It's frustrating because I'm really not even doing that much.  I've trained far more and harder in the past, with less problems.  I imagine that all the weight I've put on is a big factor.  Whatever the case, I clearly have to adjust my training if I want to make any progress.

The thing I need to do right now is cut back on my running, but still keep a good fitness level.  If I can recover better, hopefully I can have more quality workouts when I do run and I'll get faster.  I don't think I'm going to run more than every other day for quite some time now.  Instead, I'll cross train by biking.  I actually did that on Wednesday.  I had an awesome ride of over 16 miles in  1:30.  I took it easy, but I guess that beat up the quads a little too, since they were pretty sore last night.

I woke up and at least felt better this morning.  There was still definitely some stiffness while walking around.  I was hoping for a tempo run.  I wanted to build on my 4 miles at tempo pace from two weeks ago.  I wanted to do that by either running faster or adding another tempo mile.  I honestly didn't know if my body would allow me to run hard at all though.

When I was ready to run, I looked at a weather map.  The radar showed a huge cell right over us already, but there was no rain at the time and the hourly forecast didn't show much rain either until the evening.  It was cloudy and the temperatures were cool.  I knew that would be a big help.

Even though it wasn't storming when I was ready to go, I decided to try to get in front of the storm more.  I opted to head to High Bridge, New Jersey, and run on the Columbia Trail.  There were a few reasons for this.  First, was the weather.  I also hoped some different scenery would help.  The last reason was that the only time I went there was one of my best and most surprising workouts ever.  I ran 10 miles there without trying to push myself and it felt so awesome and it was very fast.

I might've beat the rain, but I got lost getting there.  I've been there and in the area a few times, so I actually wasn't completely lost.  First, I ended up taking a shortcut, but I made the mistake of turning the wrong way and heading back on Route 31 North.  Finally, a few miles later and I realized that I was originally on the correct road, so I backtracked.  I then turned one road too soon before High Bridge and tried to find the main part of town that I knew, but I failed.  Eventually, I did get to it.

I parked in a lot right at the beginning of the trail and walked a bit.  Of course, pretty much right when I got out of the car, it began to rain.  It was funny seeing about 3 different runners coming in and I assume finishing up their runs.  I guess they were smart enough to pack it in when the rain comes.  Not me, instead I was just starting my run.  I did see a few walkers and runners throughout the run, so I wasn't alone.

The Columbia Trail has some nice scenery.  It is an old rail trail.  It goes through the woods and a lot of it runs on a ridge above a river.  It is very beautiful and peaceful.  It's not what you think of when you think of New Jersey

I think one of the problems I have with my quads is when the impact the ground more, they bother me more.  I don't seem to have as much of an issue with them on faster runs as I do on slower runs.  Therefore, I tried to start my warmup fairly fast today.  The beginning was still kind of awkward because I wasn't landing with too much pressure.  I was favoring the quads.  Still, they felt much, much better than they had on Monday.

The rain was kind of refreshing when it did come.  There were so many trees though that I didn't get hit by a lot of drops.  Wearing a hat helped with that too.

Mile 1 was pretty good.  I ran it at 8:21 and it was faster toward the end.  It was perhaps a little faster than I had hoped to push it in the beginning, but oh well.

I knew the beginning of this run would be difficult.  It is uphill at the start.  That makes it tough on the way out and great on the way back.  It is still a gradual climb, but I think it is significantly steeper than most rail trails that I run on.

One thing that was really frustrating was the surface.  I didn't remember it having so much decent sized stone.  Going uphill, it was tough to get any grip.  I actually ran along the tire tracks that vehicles had made there.  That had far less stone.  One section in the beginning had new stone that wasn't packed down and it was awful.  The type of stone used for these types of trails makes a big difference.

I was pushing pretty hard by the end of mile 2.  That mile was run at a nice 7:42.  Again, it was a little bit brisker of a warmup than I would've liked.  It was actually more of a moderate paced first 2 miles, rather than an easy pace.  Usually, I like to start out slower and build it faster.  I didn't do it on this day though.

I picked it up a little more at the beginning of the 3rd mile.  My pace wasn't too great.  I couldn't get much grip.  I was around 7 minute pace flat for awhile.  I started feeling like my stomach was upset and that I might have to go to the bathroom.  Therefore, I just decided to slow it back down to a moderate pace.  It wasn't the tempo pace that I was hoping for in this segment, but it would have to do.

There's this really cool pedestrian bridge over the creek, which sits far below.  Right before that, there was a steamroller that was compacting new stone.  The parts that weren't compacted were awful.  The compacted surface was interesting.  It was very fine, almost like sand.  It felt like good cushioning on impact, but I'm not sure if that hurt or helped with speed.  I wasn't pushing too much at this point anyway.  I was still running at a moderate pace.

I finished up mile 3 at 7:47.  Now, I was heading back and knew it would be on to mostly downhill.  I think the beginning of mile 4 might've been slightly uphill though.  My legs weren't terrible at this point, but they sure weren't sharp either.  I'm not sure I could've pushed myself at tempo pace for very long.  It wasn't what I hoped for, but I could've felt worse.

At this point, I knew I wouldn't really be doing a cool down.  Most of the run would basically end up being moderate paced.  Some sections when I was heading back were awesome.  I wasn't going too hard, but still felt like I was flying.  I had taken my hat off because all the moisture in the air had made me quite wet and sweaty.

Mile 4 clicked off at 7:33.  I tried to get myself to slow a little, but the downhill just made it easy to run.  My legs didn't have much, but the speed was still pretty solid.  I came through mile 5 even faster at 7:29.

I wanted to use the final mile as a slower mile, but again I just found myself pushing a little harder from time to time.  That was especially the case within the final half mile and particularly the final couple tenths of a mile.  At one point, mile 5's pace was around 8 minutes.  It finished up at 7:38.  With all the cloud cover, I'm not sure how accurate my GPS was throughout the run, but I would say it seems like it was fairly accurate.

The run wasn't quite what I wanted to be able to do, but I'm happy with it.  I took what my body had and still put in a quality workout.  I just need to keep getting more recovery, so that I can run stronger.  I'm working on changing my diet, so that I can drop some weight.  I also might try to do some strength training, specifically on my quads.  I'd love to get a gym membership somewhere, but that would basically cost about half of what I make a week.  I can't afford that.  I'm now a low budget runner.

I still do have quite a few months left until my marathon in September.  I'm not in an awful spot, the issue is that I need to get faster.  Someone was telling me last night that I'm still it a good position to run the marathon.  That would be all fine and dandy if I just wanted to run a marathon.  I have no interest in that though.  I've run 2 of them and neither one was much fun.  If I'm going to be running a marathon, I want to be doing it to put in a good time and heading toward a BQ.  Otherwise, I'd rather run a half marathon, where I can actually race.  If I was looking for something just to finish and have fun, then I'd dip into ultramarathons.  I want to do that some day, but not sure how I could since right now my body can't even handle this little training.

One fun event was last night's LVRR Summer Series 5K.  I never run it, but always go to take photos and talk with friends.  The socializing part is fun.  I don't like people in general, but I always enjoy talking to fellow runners.  After the race, they always have a picnic with food.  I stayed pretty late and sat chatting with a bunch of friends.  Stuff like that does make me enjoy running more.

It's also funny when I think about the social aspect of things.  I'm so quiet and shy in everyday life.  When I was in school, I was pretty much a mute.  I've gotten better and the running community has definitely helped.  I never used to get involved in organizations and such.  In fact, I started running because I had zero activities that I did in high school, so I went out for track.  Now, I'm involved in so much with the LVRR club or just other running activities and races in general.  It is so much fun and I have so many friends and contacts now.

6 miles - 46:29 (7:45 pace)

Monday, June 3, 2013

Disappointing Run in Jim Thorpe

Saturday's hard trail run at Jacobsburg took a lot out of me.  I wanted to get up and run Sunday morning, but was very stiff when I woke up.  I decided to wait until the evening.  I worked during dinner and it poured like crazy, so I passed on running then.  I thought about running around the neighborhoods in the dark, but figured that wouldn't be a good idea.

Finally, I got out this afternoon for my long run.  I was hoping I could run 20 miles.  I really need to start getting some of those done with my marathon approaching in 3 months.  I still have time, but I would like to get a few of those in.

I was struggling with where to run.  Since we got a lot of rain last night, I knew the stone trails might still be saturated.  That can make it tough on the legs.  I was going to go to Cove Road and run the D&L.  I wasn't looking forward to it though, so I thought running somewhere new would be a better idea.  I continued on to Jim Thorpe, to run the D&L there.

I ran on this trail briefly back in the winter.  A lot of it was snow covered, so I ended up running mostly on the long road into the Glen Onoko area.  That was my first speedwork session of the winter.  I drove down there today and was planning on running more of the trail.

I decided to head toward Jim Thorpe first.  My legs were still incredibly sore and just felt awful.  The first half mile to mile was like I wasn't even running.  It was almost more of a fast walk.  It is my upper quads that are a problem.  I notice that because the right one being sore, I favor it and land harder on my left leg.  I tried to concentrate on running evenly.

Things got slightly better for my legs as they got used to the run, but really it wasn't much better.  It seemed like a slow go, even with me running easy.  The one good thing was that it was cloudy.  There was a breeze along the river too.

I planned just to run out to Jim Thorpe, turn around and go back.  I saw a sign that said that that would be about 3 miles in each direction.  That seemed perfect.  I thought I would go about 5 miles total in each direction and do that twice.  Then, I could also go back to the car and rehydrate.

I passed two women on bikes and a couple walking their dogs as well as some other bikers in this stretch.  There are train tracks along this route and one cool section had old train cars in various states of disrepair.  Hopefully they will all get restored at some point.  Jim Thorpe does have a nice train downtown that they use.

There was actually some slight downhill just before the trail ended.  It stopped at 2 miles and then the parking lot continued on for another half mile.  Downtown Jim Thorpe is so cool.  It has neat old buildings and is a very charming small town.  It is also nestled in between some gorgeous mountains.  I do love going there.

The scenery and unfamiliarity of the trail did help.  It made the miles go by a little faster.  However, my hurting legs were counteracting that some.  I was so focused on them, that I didn't pay too much attention to the scenery.  There is a cool old bridge over the river right as the trail enters into the Lehigh Gorge State Park.

Turning around, I passed an older gentleman who was running slowly.  He had on a Run for the Diamonds shirt, so I told him how much I love that race.  It was a nice, brief conversation.  I was passed by the two women on bikes again.  They stopped on the bridge later and then I passed them again.  This would go back and forth.

Glen Onoko has a hiking trail and that seemed to be pretty busy, but the D&L itself was far from crowded.  I stopped at the car at mile 5 for a very brief drink.

I continued on, this time heading north.  I was hoping at some point, my legs might come around.  That sometimes happens around 5 miles into a run.  I was less than a mile out in this new direction and struggling a lot.  I decided to turn it around and call it a day.

When I went the other direction, I realized that it was much easier.  I figured that if I could turn around and go out a little farther in the uphill direction, I could run back with ease.  So, I changed directions again.  Once again, I was heading north.  It was good to battle and overcome this tough patch.

This was definitely difficult.  I just focused on half mile increments.  First, it was 6.5 miles, then 7, then 7.5 and so on.  I'm not really sure when, but at one point, my legs did start to feel better.  It seemed like I was still going uphill, so I was happy they were adjusting.

I continued to plug away.  There were beautiful mountains on both sides of me and a railroad track to my left, but not much else.  Very few people were out there.  The women on bikes passed me again and then I saw them stopped along the trail again.  Even with all the rain, the trail was in fairly good condition.  It is tough to tell if it was impacting my legs or not, but they sure didn't feel good.

I just kept pushing on, knowing that I would head back downhill.  When I got to mile 7.5, that was a big deal because I'd hit mile 10 after turning around and getting back to the car.  I continued on.  Going to 8 miles sounded good, but of course 9 was even better.  Sometime around then, a passed under a pipeline with a bridge above it.  That was neat.  There wasn't much else around after all.

As I approached mile 9, I looked over at the wall along the railroad tracks.  It looked like it could be going downhill.  That certainly would explain why things seemed easier.  I thought I felt good as I got to mile 9.  I had had a breeze at times and it wasn't too sunny.

I turned around and it almost instantly sucked.  My legs felt dead again.  This area was rough too.  There were a lot of tire tracks that had torn up the surface.  There weren't many good spots to run.  I was 4 miles from the parking lot and now realized that it would be a struggle to get back.

I just focused on getting to mile 10.  One of the park rangers drove by in his truck.  I saw him a few more times later on too as he stopped frequently.  I must've been running uphill now, because it was difficult. 

At mile 10, I just couldn't take any more.  I had thought about quitting earlier, but battled through it.  Now, it was just too much.  My legs were so sore and dead.  It was very frustrating.

I walked for half a mile.  I was still 2.5 miles out at that point.  I tried running again, but my legs didn't have it.  The biking women passed me once more as I was walking.  This would be a great place to ride far with a mountain bike.

I figured that when I had 1.5 miles to go, it was still a long walk back.  I was already exhausted and so thirsty.  I couldn't wait to get back.  I was glad that I went out so far, so that I forced myself to get back by any means necessary.

I started running again and it felt awful.  I knew I could muster over a mile of running though.  It did get better and better, but this mile still sucked.  I finished it up and had a short walk to my car.  The disappointing run was over.

I guess I just didn't recover from Saturday very well.  I thought having a day off after that would've done it.  I don't know what the issue is, but my quads really can't handle much right now.  Maybe it's the extra weight I'm carrying around.  Maybe the pills I am taking for Crohn's is having an impact.  Maybe I need new shoes.  Regardless of what the cause is, I'm struggling now and can't train as I'd like to.

I've been trying to be cautious too.  That is the frustrating part.  I'm really not doing much more than a standard marathon training program would be doing now.  My body just can't seem to handle it for some reason.  It is very frustrating.  If I could run on fresh legs, I would be faster now than I have been.  However, my legs are usually too beat up to put in the times that I'm capable of.

I guess I just have to run even less.  I need to make sure I'm well rested for my long runs and tempo runs, even if I need to cut out some of the easy runs.  I could always just bike.  I also need to continue to really work on the foam roller to massage the quads.  They are so sore after this run.

I was feeling good last week, but now I'm back to being terrible again.  I guess one thing I definitely can't do is run 4 straight days, like I did last week.  Maybe I'll even limit myself to only running every other day.  We'll see what I decide.

I'm going to try to give the legs plenty of rest. after this one  I'll do a tempo run on Thursday.  I won't run at all until then though.  I thought about doing a race on Sunday, but with how the legs are doing, that is probably out of the cards.  There is a group run at Trexler on Saturday morning, so I will probably do that.  Maybe I can try another long run (hopefully 20 miles) next Monday.  I need to recover better though. 

I feel like I'm 32, but running in a 50 or 60 year old's body right now.  It is very frustrating.  My goal for the marathon is pretty much out the window at this point.  I now don't know why I'm even signed up for the race and wish I hadn't done so.

11 miles - 1:38:25 (8:57 pace)

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Jacobsburg National Trails Day Run

Today was the run that I setup at Jacobsburg as a National Trails Day run.  It was designed as a LVRR group run, so it was a mix of people I didn't know from the club as well as many friends from various other running adventures.  I figured that Jacobsburg would be a good place for a run of this type because it isn't too hilly or technical.  It is just hard enough to be a good intro to trail running.

We met up at 8 AM.  The plan was to run a short 3 mile loop (which of course was longer than that) and then take a break until 9 AM and then run a 6 mile loop for those that wished to do more.

The turnout was great.  I didn't get an exact count, but was right around 30 people total.  Once again, it was very hot and humid.  The only good thing about that is that it was early in the morning, so the temperature began in the 70s.

We started off heading out the Henry Woods Trail.  This is nice and flat and wide open to begin with.  It is also scenic as it runs along the creek.  It makes for a good warmup.  I started off ahead of everyone at what I felt was an easy pace.  No one really went right with me though.  After a little while, this guy Art joined me.

Art and I chatted briefly.  He's new to the club and started off by running a Spartan race.  I'm not a big fan of those types of races, but at least it is introducing people to running.  He hung with me for awhile.  That is, until the steep hill anyway.

After making our way out, we came to that hill on the Homestead Trail.  It was probably the toughest climb of the whole day.  I figured it would split up the group early and it did.  There were some women from the LVRR right behind me and they managed to stay together through this tough part.  Most of the group fell behind though.

Two of my friends Wayne and Jerry came up with me after the hill.  We chatted a lot, quite a bit about running at Trexler.  Jerry has just started going there.  Another guy, Todd ran with us as well. 

The first mile was a 9:17 and the second mile, with the uphill, was a 9:42.  It was a decent pace, but nothing too killer.  What did make it kind of tough though is that at the top of the hill, it is all open field.  We were exposed to the blazing sun.  That really wore on me.

The nice thing is that what goes up must come down.  We really went flying through the remainder of this loop.  There is a lot of downhill where you can open it up.  I didn't think we were running as fast as we were, but apparently the third mile was an 8:15.

When I had last run and measured this loop, I believe it was about a 5K.  The issue is that since then, they are doing construction and closed the shortest route back to the parking lot.  We had to go up to the right.  This was a very tough climb and I was struggling a bit.  It took a lot out of me.  Todd said he saw a Bobcat up ahead of us on the trail, but I didn't see anything.

At one point, we ran into some of the group.  They had taken a shortcut (not on purpose).  I highlighted the route beforehand on a map, but it can be kind of tough to follow at Jacobsburg.  It is hard to truly get lost there, but it is easy to go off track.  There are so many side trails and trails that cut through the park.

There was a tight downhill turn with a cliff face that I forgot warn people about.  I knew my group up front got through okay and I was glad that everyone else did as well.  When we finished up at 3.86 miles, some people were already done.  They had just cut right through the construction site.  I'm glad my mileage was off.  It wouldn't be a true trail run if the advertised mileage was accurate.

The pace to that point had been quite brisk for me on a trail, especially considering the heat.  I usually don't push much at all when I trail run.  That loop's pace was an 8:57.

We had quite a bit of rest between loops.  I really needed it.  I drank a lot of water, but still didn't feel great.  I felt sort of lightheaded.  I knew that type of effort on the next loop and I'd be done for.

I saw my friend Aaron in the parking lot.  He was only doing the second loop.  It was good to see him, but I was also glad he didn't show up earlier.  He's so strong and always kicks my butt, so he probably would've worn me out even more in the first loop.

The second loop began just after 9.  This time, I wasn't out in front and others wanted to take the lead.  That was fine with me.  Aaron went out ahead.  I ran with Todd for a bit and then told him that he could run with Aaron if he wanted to.  Myself, Wayne and another guy stayed just behind them.  We ended up getting on the subject of early 90s high school basketball in the area.  That was fun and random.

I stuck with them past the road crossing near the red barn.  I knew I'd be in trouble if I tried to stay with them all run.  They were too strong and I wasn't adapting to the heat very well.  I was far ahead of the rest of the group, so I figured that I would be stuck running alone.

I probably ran about half a mile alone.  Then, right as I was coming to the small bridge over a creek, I saw a woman coming up behind me.  I don't think she shortcut the course.  She seemed to come from out of nowhere.

She wasn't really gaining on me though as we went over the three road crossings.  That section was muddy, as it always is, and was a blast to run through.  She faded a little with this section being uphill, but I could still see her.  Since she didn't know where she was going, I wanted to make sure not to lose her completely.  I kept looking back.

The frustrating thing is I can't recall her name and I ran a lot of this second loop with her.  I'm really bad with names and forgot a lot of the people that I met during this run.  I need to do a better job with that.  After the road crossings, it flattened out and she caught up and we ran together.  I was glad to see the group in front of us went up the powerline trail.  I wasn't sure if they would know that I wanted to turn there.  That hill is tough because it is wide open and exposed to the sun.

I saw Wayne and Todd up ahead and they were walking up the hill.  Even though this hill is tough, I wouldn't normally walk up it.  However, that looked like a good idea, so I did the same briefly.  The woman kept going.

Todd began running again, but started to slip.  I began to catch him and when I did, we chatted for awhile.  The first mile of this loop had been pretty fast, under 8 minutes.  The next 3 were over 9 minutes each.  The one where I walked was almost 10 minutes.  The final 2 miles plus were back under 9 minute pace.

Earlier, I had told the woman to basically turn right if you are unsure.  When she was up ahead of Todd and I, she did just that.  However, she would've come out at a road.  We yelled for her to come back and she did and then caught up to us.

Todd, the woman and I ran together on the flat part.  We came to Dave, Christina, Mel and a couple others.  They had cut back the other way earlier on and were actually doing the Sober's Run loop in the opposite direction.  That worked out in the end, although I think they got slightly lost.

Todd faded back and it was just the woman and I.  We ran together to the road crossing and then back onto the trail.  Now, we were finishing like we started the first loop.  I asked the woman if she wanted to do the tough uphill and longer finish or take the shortcut.  She was fine with either.  I really wanted to climb some more, but didn't feel like my body had it, so we went the easy route along the road.

I pulled ahead of the woman on the road.  It was just past 6 miles of this loop when we arrived at the parking lot.  I decided to run to 6.14 miles, so that I would have an even 10 miles for the day.  The run ended right at the bridge and we waited for others to finish up.  The group in front of us ended up running longer.

It was a good run.  Although some people got slightly lost, no one got REALLY lost.  I think just about everyone had someone to run with as well.  It was a good turnout and a lot of fun.  I'll probably do it again some time.  Maybe I'll try again in the fall when the leaves change.  I wish the trails at Jacobsburg were less confusing, but oh well.

My legs were feeling good, until I was on my feet at a kid's party all day anyway.  Now, the quads are sore.  I might have to get on the foam roller tonight.  Looking at my pace, it is amazing how relatively consistent both loops were.

I'd love to run 20 miles tomorrow morning.  After today's 10 miler, I'm not sure that that can happen though.  It will be hot again, so that will be tough as well.  I'll just have to see what my legs have.  Like last week, anything over 15 miles would be nice.

Loop 1 3.86 miles - 34:29 (8:57 pace)
Loop 2 6.14 miles - 55:36 (9:03 pace)