Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Covered in Webs

I decided to run and bike today.  I went out to run this afternoon.  The weather was perfect for summer.  It was cool and the humidity was low.

I headed to Nockamixon State Park to run the trails.  I often forget about that place.  It isn't too far away.  I haven't run there much.  My dad goes kayaking there all the time.  It's been over a year since I ran there.  I do remember liking it, but the terrain wasn't all that challenging.

Originally, I was going to start at the south side of the lake.  I had never run on those trails.  When I got there, they looked overgrown.  I decided to just run the trails on the north side. 

I was hoping to run 12 miles.  I didn't know how long the trails were, but I figured that I would need a couple loops.  I started off on a decent trail.  There were some woods and some grassy fields to it.  I knew that after a short loop I would get to a road crossing.  That was about half a mile into the run.

The trail was actually more up and down than I thought.  Some sections were a bit overgrown and that was annoying.  Other sections were good, open singletrack through the woods.  Early on there were some spider webs.

I could take a few of those, but after some time, it got really annoying.  I ran through web after web.  These trails must never be used.  I got tired of the webs all over my shirtless body.  It would be nice if I could at least see the webs coming, but I didn't.  It was frustrating because they weren't just in narrow sections, but wide open ones too.

There were some views here and there of the lake.  At one point, there is a clear opening and that is awesome.  Spots like that were rare though.

These trails were quite muddy.  I remember that from last time I ran there.  The tough part was that some sections had mud that wasn't even visible.  Other areas were impossible to pass without running through deep mud.  That was kind of annoying, although I do enjoy some mud.

The trails were steep, but they had a lot of rolling hills.  I ended up running most of it.  There wasn't much chance for recovery.

Some of the narrow sections had prickly bushes.  Those were annoying.  The worst was still all the webs.  Not only were webs sticking to me, but I had to pick off several spiders and quite a few of the insects that they had trapped.  That was quite gross.

I cursed over and over again, every time that I ran through more webs.  I guess the good thing is that I knew no one would be there since no one had gone through these trails in a long time.  I was so frustrated by now.  I was around 3 miles into the run and more run than happy to turn around.

I kept trying to find a way to a road or trailhead.  I didn't have much luck.  I changed directions a couple times.  Some of the trails seemed to be poorly maintained and difficult to follow.  I could hear cars on the road at one point, so I knew I had to be close.  I headed in that direction and eventually came to the road.

I ran on the road to go back.  I had enough of the spider webs and trails.  They were beyond frustrating.  Even though I hate roads, being away from the webs allowed me to enjoy the run more now.

A woman biked passed me.  The shoulders on the roads around the lake are huge.  It is great and I'll have to ride there in the future.  Maybe I can go when my dad uses his kayak.

It didn't take long until I was on to the trailhead access road.  I still wasn't close to my car though.  That ended up being quite far down the road.  I was running on the roads for over 2 miles.

When I was back at my car, it was around 5.5 miles.  I knew I wasn't going to run any more of the trails after I finished this segment up.  I ran another half mile and got to mile 6.  This was on the trail section that I ran earlier.  I ran this part hard.  I haven't run hard on a trail in some time.

I only did half of the distance I was hoping for, but I was just happy to be done and away from the webs.  I continued to pick them off of me when I was at the car.  Hopefully they are all finally gone, after my shower.

With my 15 mile bike ride in the evening, it was still a productive run.  My left quad seems a little beat, so maybe it is good that I didn't do too much.  I don't have a lot of time tomorrow, so I'll probably just bike in the afternoon.  I'll likely run again on Thursday.  Hopefully I can get into double digits then.

6 miles - 1:07:48 (11:18 pace)

Sunday, July 28, 2013

South Mountain (Lehigh) Night Run

After 20 trail miles yesterday, I wanted to run again today.  The quads were a little sore, but overall I felt like I recovered quite well.  I didn't get back from camping until almost dinner time.  I had to wait some time for my food to settle before I headed out to run.  I decided to run on the trails at Lehigh's Mountaintop Campus.  I started after 8 PM.

The plan was to run 10 miles.  I thought about parking at the bottom of the mountain, but I didn't want to get lost, since I didn't know the trails from that spot.  I hoped that the Lehigh security didn't mind my car being parked at night at the Mountaintop Campus.  I left a note on my car just in case.

The plan was to run the trail from Dave Decker's Loopy run last month.  I ran the 4.5 mile loop 4 times that day, so I figured I knew it pretty well.  Plus, there are still ribbons on the course.

It felt comfortable when I was about to start, but I know better this time of year.  It is always humid.  I think it was more damp today since it had rained.  Regardless, I was sweating early and often during the run and was glad that I went shirtless.

The run starts off downhill.  I cruised along, taking it nice and easy.  I was just enjoying the run.  I ran up the first short uphill, but after that, I walked most of the uphill sections, particularly the other early long one.

At times, the trail looked familiar.  Other times, I wasn't so sure.  Luckily, I continued to see ribbons, so I knew I was on the right track.  It was cloudy and with being in the woods, I lost visibility in a hurry.  I figured that I wouldn't need a headlamp until the second loop, but now I was regretting that I didn't have one.

I had to be careful.  Not only did I have some trouble seeing the rocks, but they were slippery too.  I sure didn't want to fall out there all alone by myself.

I figured that since it was dusk, I would see a lot of deer.  I often see them on this trail.  I was surprised that it took until almost the end of the first mile until I saw one.  I actually saw two of them and I ended up splitting them up.  Hopefully, they got back together.

At one point, I thought maybe I missed a turn.  Eventually, I came to the correct turn.  This happened later on too.  I thought I was supposed to cross the road, but that was actually farther down.  This part wasn't too bad, but I knew it would get tougher.

It was getting darker and darker and I knew the last 2 or more miles would be very rocky.  I had to take it easy downhill and take small steps.  I had to make sure that I didn't trip.  This section really winds through the woods.  I figured by now that I should probably head back at the next road crossing.  The final section would probably be too dangerous.

My decision to cut back early was quickly confirmed.  I was near the road and I saw the silhoutte of something climb quickly up a tree.  I think there were two of them.  They ran up the trees fast like a squirrel, but they were much bigger, possibly a raccoon or possum.  That made me a little uncomfortable running under them.

I came to the road crossing and the funny part of the run.  I emerged from the dark woods and there happened to be a Lehigh student running on the road.  I completely scared the crap out of him.  I had to say, "Sorry.  I was just running through the woods."  He really must've thought I was crazy.  I saw him again later on the road as I was running up the mountain.

I ran along the shoulder of the road, up the mountain.  It was less than a mile to the top.  I got to the building next to my car at exactly 4 miles.  I didn't feel like running another loop at this point, even though I had a headlamp in the car.  It was the time to just call it a night.  The 4 miles would have to do.

I might not have run as much as I wanted, but it was still a fun and quality session.  I'm also thrilled with how well I had recovered.  My quads do feel pretty sore now, so I'm glad I didn't run too much more though.

Tomorrow, I will definitely just be riding my bike.  I'm hoping that I can ride 20 to 25 miles.  That should be a good recovery exercise.  On Tuesday, I'd like to ride and run.  Summer basketball season is just about over, so I'll have more time to workout soon.

4 miles - 51:50 (12:58 pace)

Lackawanna State Park

After not running all that much earlier in the week, I wanted to get a very long run into today.  We decided a couple weeks ago to camp at Lackawanna State Park, near Scranton.  It looked like they had plenty of trails to run.  That’s always a hit or miss though; sometimes trails are better than others.

I was hoping to run 20 miles on the trails.  However, I haven’t run that far on trails alone before, so I didn’t know if I would be able to do it.  I also wasn’t sure if I’d like the trails and of course the hot weather could have an impact too.

Our campground is close to the RV dump station and one of the trails starts there.  There is a lake here and I was hoping to run a loop around it.  I wasn’t quite sure how far that would be.  There are so many different trails that I was just hoping that I wouldn’t get lost.

After a short grassy section, I was to a wonderfully forested floor.  It was wide and soft and also had a limited amount of rocks.  It was perfect.  I just hoped that it would stay that way.

Most of this early part was downhill.  I came to a road after a short while and I headed one direction and quickly found a trail.  I went down it and then I saw private property signs, so I just headed the other way, back to the road.

Shortly after I was back on the road, I came to a dam.  I knew the trail went around the dam and I found the bridge for it.  I came up behind some hikers and since it was uphill, I walked behind them.  I passed when it became flat.

It was nice because there wasn’t a lot of elevation change throughout the routes.  There were a lot of rolling hills in the area, but it seemed like there were less of them on the trails.  That can be good or bad though.  I actually ended up running a lot more of the route than I thought I would.

These first few miles just flew by.  I remember getting to about 2.5 miles and thinking this was some of the best trail running I’ve ever done.  It was mostly smooth dirt trails, like I imagine trail running should be.  There wasn’t much overgrowth with the high canopies and the few rocks that I came to were mostly flat.  It was nearly perfect.

I eventually came out to a boat launch area on the south side of the lake.  I had ridden my bike in this area on Friday, so I knew where I was.  After running up the road a short distance, I found the trail across the main road.  

I ran this section to continue the loop.  When I came to a split, I took the downhill part.  That is typically what I did in the early going.  This was another excellent section through the woods.  There are these old, flat stone walls everywhere in the area.  I came across a bunch of them.  Eventually, I came out by the main road.  I wasn’t quite where I had hoped to be.

The good news was that I was near a big boat launch area.  I ran over there and grabbed some water at the water fountain.  Even though I was in the woods, it was still pretty humid at this point.  It was approaching noon.  I ran without a shirt on, so that was a big help.

After the boat launch, I headed back to the main road.  Even though I had been close to our camper, I wanted to get some more mileage in before I headed back there.  When I was at the boat launch, it was 4 miles into the run.  Those miles seemed to go quick, but I still had a long way to go.  It is amazing how fast trail miles can be when you run a new trail, especially one that you are enjoying.

I wanted to loop around the outside of the lake.  When I found the trailhead that I was looking for, it said “Do Not Enter.”  I looked at the map and headed down the road to the trail on the inside of the lake.   

I ran along the lake.  Every now and then, I could see the lake, but it was mostly a wooded trail next to the lake.  Again, this was an excellent section to run.  It was pretty open and there was some gradual up and down, but not too much of it.

I finished this up and came to another road.  I crossed the road and started running up it.  I found another trailhead.  Luckily, the trailheads at each road were well marked.  This was another fun route through evergreen trees.  I only ran a short distance though and decided that I wanted to turn around and run around the lake.

I went down a boat ramp and looked at my map.  I realized that I wasn’t at the end of the lake, as I thought I had been.  I headed back to the trail that I had just been on.  Eventually, this would come back to the backside of the campground.  

After running through the woods for a bit, I came out to an open field.  In the heat, I didn’t like that idea.  Then, I came to a pond.  Even when I took my map out, I was kind of confused where I was at.  It wasn’t until later that I realized that I had actually crossed a different road.  That is what threw me off.  I saw the trail went to a parking lot, but not knowing where I was, I just decided to backtrack.

I ran all the way back through the woods and then through the lakeside trail.  Really, I should’ve just continued on and then went to that parking lot.  This still worked and I would get plenty of mileage in.  Eventually, I was back at the big boat launch.  I stopped for another drink and used the restroom.  I ran along a paved path along the lake.  It was crowded though, so I figured that I wouldn’t run there again.

I ran on pavement back to the camper.  I was happy to be over 8 miles when I got back.  I was actually just over 9 miles into the run.  I would’ve preferred to be at 10 miles or more, that way I’d be halfway done.  I was just under 2 hours into the run when I got to the camper.

I rested for about 10 or 15 minutes at the camper.  I was soaked, so I changed shorts and boxers.  That was a big help.  I also made sure to eat something.  I had a few pretzels.  I ate a big breakfast, but wasn’t planning on eating lunch because of this run, so I needed some calories.  I also drank a soda.  I realized that my electrolyte tablets were left in the truck and my dad was using that to boat.  I had to just fill up my handheld with regular water.

I began my run the same way as the first time.  I figured that that route was fun and I might as well stick with what I know.  I would’ve liked to have run the north part of the park.  My one concern is that there wasn’t anywhere to refill water in that section.

I cruised along, enjoying the second loop.  I tried the opposite direction briefly, but there were too many small up and down sections.  That was more suited for mountain bikers.  Later on, I could hear a mountain biker switch gears, so I got out of the way.  This seems like it would be a fun place to ride too.  It seems easy enough that I could even ride there.  I saw quite a few mountain bikers and hikers.  There was only one other runner though.

This time, after the lakeside trail and road crossing, I headed uphill on the trail.  I thought I’d try something different.  Plus, I knew that this section would cross the road and go around the side of the lake that I was hoping to run in the first loop.  I wasn’t going to run the whole way around the lake, but I thought I could do an out and back.  This section wasn’t tough, but it was hillier.  It was fun though.

I ran over the road and was headed to the lake.  I ran along a creek on another fun section.  By now, I was around half marathon distance.  It was tough to think that I still had 7 miles to go.  My first goal was to get at least 15 miles in and to run back the camper, so I just focused on that.  I could worry about the final 5 miles or so after some rest. 

I heard some people on the other side of the creek, but I never saw them.  Eventually, I was running along the lake.  It turns out I was still on the nearside of the lake, not where I thought I was.  I came out by the “Do Not Enter” sign that I saw earlier.  I figured I might as well just run an out and back on the section that I had run along the lake earlier.  I came across a bunch of hikers and a mountain biker.
When this section ended, I was just less than 15 miles.  I figured that I would at least get to 16 miles when I was back to the camper.  Then, I could manage to get 4 more miles in somehow.

It was funny because I was now feeling good and in a groove.  Earlier in this loop, around mile 11, I started to get lightheaded.  Luckily, that didn’t get any worse and it eventually went away.  Now, I was feeling good.  My legs were starting to get a bit sore and tired, but overall, I was happy with how I was feeling.  Nearly 16 miles into the run and I couldn’t have expected to feel better.

I ran 16 solo trail miles a couple weeks ago and that was my longest run alone on trails in my life.  Now, I was pushing past that.  I ran back on the road to get back to the campground.  I didn’t enjoy this too much, especially because there was some uphill.  I stopped at the camper at just over 16.5 miles.  I was 3 hours and 27 minutes into the run.

I thought about going farther since I was in a groove, but I figured I needed the rest.  I grabbed another soda.  This time, I just opted to fill my water bottle with it.  I grabbed some more pretzels.  I also drank an iced tea and water.  I didn’t have another pair of shorts to wear, so I kept this pair on.  It didn’t seem like I was sweating as much now anyway.  I had not changed socks earlier, but I did so at this point.  That was a great choice that my feet thanked me for.

I figured that I would head back down the original trail.  There was a lot of downhill, so that was nice and easy.  The big issue was that I wasn’t sure how long of a loop it would be if I decided to take that route.  If I ran an out and back, I would have to run or walk uphill quite a bit on the way back to the camper.

I just headed out, not worrying exactly what I was going to do.  At one point, I jumped over a rock and my groin tightened up.  I used shorter strides from then on.  I really didn’t have many muscle problems, other than some general soreness.  I think the slow pace was a big help.

I came do the dam and walked up the hill again.  I then passed a couple mountain bikers who were just hanging around.  I cruised around the forest path on the outside of the lake.  That was fun.  I just focused on each mile.  I really focused on getting to mile 19.  At this point, I knew I’d hit my 20 mile goal.  I was quite impressed because before the run, I wasn’t sure if I could do such a thing.  Anything over 15 miles would’ve made me happy.

There was a young kid will a small mountain bike.  He was riding with his father.  That was pretty cool.  Since I wasn’t sure how long the loop would take, I opted to turn around.  I knew there would be some tough uphill, but I figured I would just walk those sections if I had to.  I did quite a bit of walking in the slow last mile.  I finished up at the camper at just over 20 miles.  It was great to be done.

This was my longest trail run ever and obviously also my longest solo trail run ever.  It was the longest I’ve ever run from a time standpoint too.  I think my longest run ever before this was just under 4 hours, in my first marathon in 2009.  Even at 20 miles, this was one of my longest run ever.  I had a couple longer training runs on the road, including a few weeks ago.  Then, of course there are the two marathons.  Hopefully, I break through all those distances in the not too distance future.  I want run a 50K in the fall.  It is hard to believe that that is 11 more miles than today.  I’m sure running it with other people will be a big help.

This has been my most productive week ever.  I ran and biked for a total of 101 miles.  I ran over 35 miles and biked over 65 miles.  I hoped to bump those numbers up in the future too.  That was over 12 hours of working out and over 7400 calories burned too.

Tomorrow, we’ll be leaving here.  I’d like to either run or bike.  More than likely, I’ll do so at home.  It is raining a lot now and I’m not sure if that will continue on into tomorrow.  It is also a matter of how well my body is recovered.  My legs already feel pretty good, thanks to the soft trail.  I’m definitely going to run mostly trails, at least for the near future.

20.02 miles – 4:12:25 (12:36 pace)

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Tough Climb at Lehigh Gap

Today was some beautiful weather.  The temperature was cool, the humidity was low and there was a nice breeze going.  I had to take advantage of it.  I decided to both run and bike today.  I was hoping for 10 miles of trail running and 25 miles of biking.  It didn't quite work out that way.

I opted to head to the Lehigh Gap Nature Center.  I wanted to climb some, so I figured I'd head up the Appalachian Trail.  When I was hiking the other side of the Gap over the winter, I could see the AT.  It looked like a long, gradual climb.  I think it was, but that didn't make it easy.

The elevation at the Lehigh Gap Nature Center is under 500 feet.  The elevation at the top of the mountain is over 1500 feet.  That is quite the climb.  The one thing I wasn't looking forward to with this run is that I knew some of the most difficult climbing would be early in the run.  There was no chance to warmup. 

The beginning of the run is actually on the Woodpecker Trail.  It is uphill, but not as bad as the AT.  I was able to run a lot of it.  On the AT, a lot of the early portion was run/walk.  I'd run easy until I was tired, which didn't take long.  My breathing isn't that great right now.  The trail is also very rocky, so that caused me to walk some.  One section has huge boulders and there is no way to run it.  I had to walk that and I even had trouble finding the blazes on the trees.

Run, walk, run, walk, that seemed to be the theme in the early going.  I was able to run by the shelter along the trail.  No one was hanging out there.  The only time I actually saw anyone during the run was on the way back down.  A family was building a fire in a camping area near the shelter.

Most of the AT went through trees with barren ground.  Some sections were clear of trees and there was often brush along the trail in these sections.  I'm hoping none of it was poison ivy.  I was surprised that the trail wasn't clearer with how many people must hike through it.

I came to the blue blazed North Trail around .8 miles into the run.  I couldn't believe I was only that far along.  It said on the sign that it was 2 miles until both trails would meet up again.  The North Trail runs along the barren top of the mountain.  I continued on the AT.

The first mile was just so slow.  It was around 20 minutes.  All the walking caused it to take forever.  That first mile had the steepest climbing.  Still, there was plenty of gradual climbing.  Every now and then, there was a short downhill too.

Even though it was cool out, I still ended up being soaked from sweat.  Running uphill for a long time is hard work, regardless of how nice it is.  I was wearing a hat, so my head couldn't breathe either.  I also forgot my water bottle at home.  That would've been nice to have.

As I was near the top of the mountain, the trail passed over a stone road.  I thought it was odd that there was a road that high up, but then I realized that it probably led to the communications towers that are on the mountain.

At around 2.5 miles, I was finally at the top.  I saw the North Trail again and this time, I headed on it.  I went past one of the communication towers.  This trail made the climb worth it.  It provided awesome views.  I could see the turnpike below as well as the Lehigh River.  Palmerton was off on the other side.  It was hard to run and take in the view at the same time.  The trail was on a semi steep section, so I could've fallen if I wasn't careful.

The reason for the great view is that the zinc plant nearby had killed off all of the trees.  Now, there is a lot of tall prairie grass along the trail.  The trail is windy.  I know there could be rattlesnakes on the rocks in that area, so I was getting kind of uncomfortable.  I couldn't see very well with the tall grass.  After a short distance, I decided it was too risky to go on.

I headed back to the AT.  When I got there, I decided to head the other direction first, before coming back down the mountain.  This was mostly flat and wooded.  I ran until I hit the 3 mile point.  I then turned around and headed back down to the parking lot.

Going down the mountain was certainly faster, but it was still a slow go.  There are a lot of rocks and it is steep, so I didn't want to run out of control.  I did enjoy the easy of the downhill though.

When I was by the shelter, I saw a sign for a spring.  It was nearby and I saw it as I ran past.  I was tempted to drink from it, but I'm not sure if it is clear or not.

I was finally back at my car.  It was only 5.5 miles into the run.  The run was much slower than I thought it would be.  Thus, I was already around one hour and thirty minutes into the run at this point.  I thought about running a couple miles on the flat D&L or LNE Trail, but I figured there wasn't a point.  I had a good workout in.  I was planning to ride anywhere.  I didn't have a lot of time to do that before my evening plans.

Biking was tough because it was so cold with the wind blowing on my bike.  Riding into the headwind was so much harder.  I rode over to Notre Dame-Green Pond High School.  I also rode around NCC and Moravian Academy's campus for some extra distance.

By the time I finished the 25 mile ride, I was exhausted.  I only had about an hour of rest between tough workouts.  This was one of the hardest days I've ever had exercising.  Some time, I hope days like this are normal days.

Tomorrow, I'm going camping.  I'm hoping to ride my bike again and get a lot of long mileage in again.  After that, I plan on a very long trail run on Saturday.  I hope it all works out.  I've never run at the park that we are camping at.

5.5 miles - 1:25:20 (15:31 pace)

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

10 and 10

I haven't worked out at all since Friday.  I haven't become lazy, I've just been busy.  I watched over 20 basketball games over the weekend.  Yesterday, the weather was stormy.  That meant I had to get a lot done today.  I opted to bike and run.

I had to work at lunch and later in the afternoon.  In between, I got out for an easy 10 mile bike ride.  That was nice.  The weather was much better than last week.  It was still humid, but only in the 80s.

After dinner, I had to try to get my run in.  I needed to let my stomach settle a little.  I knew that starting around 7 PM would mean that I'd be close to dark when I finished my planned 10 mile trail run.  I'm basically just running on trails these days.  

I headed to Jacobsburg again.  This time, I parked in the small lot at the north end of the park.  I wanted to start somewhere different for a change, even though I'd be running about the same course.

I ran the Sober's Run Loop.  I went in the clockwise direction this time to change it up.  Usually, I run the other way.  The beginning was annoying because they haven't trimmed the brush along the trail in that section.  After I got past there, I was on to the nice, soft dirt section along the ridge.  I went along nice and easy.

I was on the main trail and instead of staying on that, I ran the winding dirt singletrack along the creek.  I just discovered this section and I really like it.  It is peaceful along the water and it is kind of remote.  Plus, it is something new. 

After that ended, I came back onto the main trail.  This was a different section than I usually run too.  I wasn't sure where it would come out.  I still sort of knew where I was.  The path then came out to a road and I had to turn around and come back.  It wasn't too long and I was on the section I am familiar with.

This next section was a long gradual uphill.  Usually when I run this loop, I go the other direction and I have a steep uphill and gradual downhill.  This time, it was the opposite.  Because this section was such a gradual ascend, I ran most of it.  I did walk for a short bit though.  I didn't walk much at all during this run.

It wasn't too long and I was back at my car to wipe off with a towel and refill my water bottle.  By now, I was at mile 3.33.  I still had 2/3 of the run to go.

I decided that I would run my usual long loop.  This time, I would going the opposite direction too.  It rained a lot and I was looking forward to running through the muddy sections between the roads.  That was sure a fun mess.  I was glad I didn't lose a shoe.  Going this direction, this section was mostly downhill.

I was now around mile 5.  By this point, my shorts were soaked from sweating.  Even though it was cooler, it was still humid out.  The most annoying part of the whole run was in this area.  As I ran through the woods, flies or some bugs kept landing on my sweaty head.  It was annoying.

I saw some bikers in this section.  I came across quite a few people on this run.  There were a handful of mountain bikers, some hikers and two runners.  I rarely see anyone trail running there.  Of course I was on the only one running shirtless, but I sweat so much that I'm glad I did that.

I cruised along the path toward the main parking lot.  This section was nice and easy.  It was starting to get a bit dark under the cover of the trees.  It was somewhere around 7 miles where I got to the water fountain for a brief water refill.  Luckily, I didn't really need it since it was cooling off a lot.

I watched the miles tick away.  Now, I headed up the steep path.  I ran just about the whole thing since I was feeling good.  I was going to run my usual route, but in reverse.  Then I saw the path that leads to the open field area.  I knew it would be a tough uphill, but it would be short.  After that, it would be mostly flat and I could cruise along.  There was a lot of downhill.

I cruised down the trail.  This section was nice because it was open to daylight.  I didn't have much of that remaining, but it was good to have.  Eventually, I was back to the road and going back to the Sober's Run Loop.

I was over 8 miles and figured that when I got back to my car, it would be 9 miles.  By now, I was getting a bit tired.  Plus, I was soaked.  I was also losing a lot of light.  I could've ran through the true dirt trail section back to my car, but with little visibility and my headlamp in the car, I opted for the flatter normal path. 

I got back to my car at almost exactly 9.33 miles.  That meant this longer loop was 6 miles long.  I decided to cross the road and do a short out and back on the Bushkill Trail.  I was just hoping they didn't ticket my car because it was after dark.  I went out and turned around and finished up at 10 miles.

My quads were a bit sore.  It was a nice run though.  I was happy to hit double digits.  I'm hoping that I can run another 10-20 easy trail miles tomorrow.  I'm trying to get myself used to running back to back long runs.  That is a staple of ultra running.  I did that pretty well that the other week.  I also hope for another double digit bike ride tomorrow.  It is time to get back to work with my training.

10 miles - 1:49:15 (10:55 pace)

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Hot as Hell

We've been experiencing a heatwave recently and today was the worst of it yet.  I struggled through a 20 mile bike ride yesterday.  I knew my planned trail run and bike ride today would be tough, I just didn't realize how tough.

I went to Jacobsburg to run.  The plan was to take advantage of the shade and run an easy 5 miles.  I haven't run since Sunday's race.  I was a bit sore for a few days after that, plus I was sick at one point.  I felt much better this afternoon.

I started off with not shirt on and my handheld water bottle to keep me hydrated.  I began across the road from the parking lot.  I knew I'd need to walk some.  I figured that I would run out about 2 miles and then come back.

Most of this section is in the shade, but even there, it was still hot.  I walked early and often.  The areas in the sun were just unbearable.  It was hard to even run a full mile, even at my slow pace.

I got out to about 1.6 miles and I had just had enough of going out.  If I wanted to run extra distance when I was at my car, that would be fine, but I couldn't keep going out.

I was soaked by this point and it only got worse.  The final half mile or more back to the car was downhill, so that helped and I ran a lot of it.  I passed some kids hiking.  Earlier, I saw a couple women hiking with a dog.  It was great to be back at the car, but I was only just past 3 miles at that point.

I stopped off at the water fountain to get a drink.  I just sputtered along the main path along the creek.  This path is flat, but busy with families using the creek to swim in during this time of year.  I had to navigate around them.

I walked some of the uphill in this section.  When I got to 3.8 miles, I was starting to go downhill.  I didn't want to have to come back up it, so I turned around.  It was mostly downhill back to the water fountain.

When I was back at my car, I was still only at 4.5 miles.  By now, I at least I knew I'd complete this slow run.  I went back on the original trail that I took earlier.  This required some slight uphill.  I cruised downhill to finish then and was just exhausted.  I couldn't believe how brutal it was.  I couldn't have done much more mileage, even if I would've rested more.  This was easily among the hottest conditions that I've ever run in.

I went home and rested for about half and hour.  I then headed out to bike.  When I rode yesterday, it was hot.  It wasn't too bad though because the air that blew onto me was cool.  Today, that wasn't the case.  The air was very hot and sticky.  I started to get lightheaded.  I felt so bad that I was afraid I might pass out if I kept it up.  I cut the ride very, very short, to just 7 miles.  That was enough in the heat.

I felt dizzy and overheated one time when I rode in this type of weather.  It took me hours to recover and I was so scared that day.  Luckily, I didn't push it that far today.  When I came in and got into the cool air, I was fine.

Tomorrow is supposed to be just as bad.  Since I want to get more miles on the bike, I'm going to try getting up early and biking.  I know that will be tough, but it is better than riding during the day.  I hate the heat so much and can't wait for this to be over.

5 miles - 57:00 (11:25)

Sunday, July 14, 2013

2013 Quadzilla 15K

Today was my favorite race in the area, the Quadzilla 15K at Trexler Nature Preserve.  It is the most beautiful and challenging course around.  I knew coming in that I wasn't running strong, or fast at least.

Last year, I felt like I ran too slow and conservative early on in the race.  This year, I decided to go out hard and see if I could stay in front of a lot of people.  I knew there was a chance that that strategy could blow up on me.

I took off very fast.  I was definitely inside the Top 10 as I was flying down the paved start of the race.  I ran fast and was breathing heavy.  Obviously, I knew I wouldn't sustain it.  I hoped that on the trail I could slow down a bit and recover.  I knew some faster people would certainly pass me.

The first uphill slowed me down and quite a few people passed me.  I continued to breath heavy and just couldn't recover.  The humidity was getting to me, even this early on.

As I got to about 2/3 of a mile, the lead women passed me.  I knew right then that I definitely went out way too fast.  Not long after the first mile, I already had to walk a short uphill because I had overdone it.  I definitely was the first person in the lead pack to be walking.

I think my friend Tim was the first person that I knew that went by me.  I kept waiting for Flo and was surprised that quite a few women were ahead of her.  She ended up passing me right before mile 2.

Of course I had to walk a lot of the long uphill after that.  Sarah passed me in this section.  The only cool thing about fading so badly was that I was passed by a lot of friends and got to chat with them.

Again, I was dieing as I started running after the uphill.  Of course it was cloudy at the beginning of the race and now that we were out of the woods, the sun was blazing.  That slowed me even more.  I did pass some people in this area and on the rolling hills.  As I was going by one woman, I realized that I had met her before when a friend was doing track workouts.  I chatted with her for a bit.  I was ahead of her, but then eventually she went flying past and finished well ahead of me.

I got to the first road crossing just after mile 3.  My friend Jessica was working there.  I already told her I was toast and that my strategy backfired.  I said the same thing to my dad who was taking photos just up the trail.  I told April that as well at the water stop by the Environmental Center.  I was low on water, so I took some to refill my handheld.

Someone was on the ground at the bottom of a hill past the Environmental Center.  I guess maybe he collapsed from the heat.  I knew if I didn't take it easy, that could very well be me.  I don't handle the heat well at all.

My friend Mel had caught me in this section and we ran/walked together for some time.  As I was cruising along, this cute young lady passed me and I realized it was another friend, Chelsea.  I chased her down to chat with her for a bit.  I gave her some idea of the course ahead.  I was impressed with how strong she was running.  She had never run there before.  Sometimes I think that that is more helpful than actually knowing the course.

It wasn't long until she left me and I dropped back to Mel again.  I passed some people on the long uphill and some passed me.  Mel was gone at that point.  The dogs were in their yard barking at every single person.

Around this time, I finally began to recover a bit.  Part of it was the easier trail section.  I think the biggest part of it was that it got cloudy again.  I was soaked from sweating, but at least I felt better for awhile.

I knew the hills at the end would continue to destroy me.  There was one short uphill grassy section and three people in front of me were going slowly.  I didn't want to follow them, so I just blew right past them.  I had to tie my shoe after that, but I didn't want to stop.  Eventually, I tied it later in the race.

I even struggled with the smaller hills before the big hills.  The last water stop was at one of the hills before the big hill.  My friend Michele filled me up with some water.  It was great to have so many friends volunteering.  At this point, I was in survival  mode.

I got to talking with and running with a woman briefly during this part of the race.  It was nothing exciting, just small talk.  Finally, we were to the dreaded huge hill.  I knew I had no chance of running it, so I just began walking from the bottom.  That was certainly tough, but it was much easier than running it partway and then trying to walk.  That can be very exhausting.  That is one key thing I learned today, either run an entire hill or walk the whole thing.  Don't start running and then walk when you get halfway up it.  That is so hard.

I walked up the other hill after that and that one didn't seem too bad either.  We then got to the creek crossing.  It wasn't as high as it had been a week ago.  It was quite refreshing.  It was funny because I came up from behind someone and he looked at the creek like he didn't know what to do.  I passed him and flew right through it.

I crossed the road and again walked the next hill.  Near the top, I think 3 more guys passed me.  I couldn't probably run this section and suffered, but by this point, there was no reason to.  It was already clear that my time would actually be worse than last year and I might not even break 1:40.

When I got to the grass uphill, I saw Ron and his wife volunteering.  I chatted with them briefly.  This grassy uphill frustrated me last year when I didn't know it was coming.  Being prepared, it was much better.  I just cruised up it.  I had to run it in some fashion. 

When you are going out, you can see the people coming back.  I saw Chelsea and told her it was all a downhill finish from there.  Then I saw Mel.  He was pretty far ahead of me.  Finally, I made it to the turn around.  My friend Laurie was there.  I told her that I was never happier to see her.  Now, I was heading downhill.

I saw another friend Tim behind me as I was running in.  I took off and blew passed a guy.  I thought maybe I started going too early.  I cruised through the grass downhill.  I saw yet another friend Christina coming in the other direction.  As I got onto the pavement, Tim came up and passed me.  I might've been able to get him back at the line because I usually have a deadly finishing kick, but I figured there was no point in doing so at that time.  I would've gone harder to defend my position at that point, but that was it.  I finished up and was glad to be done.  I didn't take a towel right away because I didn't realize they had finisher towels.  Those were cool.

I hung around after the race and chatted with Chelsea for a bit and someone from my old neighborhood as well as some brief conversations with other friends.  It was fun socializing.  My dad was taking photos and at that point, I didn't realize that he was still doing so.  I finally found him and let him go home.  I left too for a basketball game.

My strategy backfired, but I still think it was somewhat sound.  The key is to go out hard, but not too hard.  You want to go out faster than your race pace, but not too fast that you destroy yourself.  I sort of figured that might happen, but I had nothing to lose.  Go hard early and survive was about the only chance I had to run a fast time.

I was hoping that going to Trexler every week would pay off more than it did.  The problem is I'm still just beat up and because of it, I never run hard at all when I'm there.  I've become too used to just cruising around there and surviving the hills.  It pays to be able to run fast on the runnable flat and downhill sections.  I take those too easy too.

I love this race, but this might actually be the last time I do it.  It is just so tricky because it is a challenging course, but it is also a short enough distance that you kind of have to run it hard.  It makes for a difficult race.  My friend Aaron said he wants to organize an ultra there sometime and I think I would like that much more.  I love the take it easy and just try to cover distance approach.  That seems better than running hard for almost 10 miles.  If I don't run again, I'll volunteer for it.

9.21 miles - 1:38:06 (10:39 pace)

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Pushing Myself

Today was a great day.  The plan was to bike some and also run.  I wanted to ride in the morning before work, but I couldn't sleep last night.  I had to squeeze the ride in after work.  Then I had to run and get it done before some basketball games in the evening.  And, oh yeah, it was hot again today.

I went out and rode 20 miles early in the afternoon.  The plan wasn't to ride hard, but I often do.  I felt good and the pace was quick early on, so I pushed it a bit.  I think I rode faster than I ever have (4:07 pace) and that was longer than most of my rides.

I needed to get my Trexler run in for the week, so after an hour and a half of rest, I began a 4 miler at my favorite place to run.  Initially, I was just planning 2 miles out and 2 more back going to the normal route.  I'm tired of that though, so I decided to change it up and run most of the run in the opposite direction.

Every direction is downhill from the beginning, so that is a good way to start.  The ride did loosen up my legs, but they were still a bit sore.  I decided to bring my GoPro and get some good photos since I wasn't running hard today.  As I was running down some of the early hills, I saw Art from the LVRR, hiking with his girlfriend.  They might've been the only people that would see me with a camera on my head and not think I was completely nuts.  Then again, they might still think I'm nuts.  After all, I was also running in a lot of heat.

I brought the handheld along again and that helped with my hydration.  I still can't decided whether I'll run the race with it or not.  I probably will.  I walked the early hills to be conservative.  It didn't take too long until I was at 1 mile.  I thought about turning around there, but I was out on a fairly flat section, so I decided to keep going.

Eventually, I came to the woods.  I decided to run through there.  I figured that I would keep going until it started to drop and go downhill.  That actually didn't happen until right around 1.5 miles, so that was perfect.  I ran to there and turned around.  Most of my run would be done now when I got back to the Environmental Center.

I passed some people walking along the jeep trail.  They must've been from KidsPeace.  I also saw a deer that I startled on the main trail.  I couldn't get its photo.  The main trail section is rolling.  I decided to keep pushing on and running.

I had been taking it easy and was planning to continue that.  I had even walked on the slight uphill of the jeep road.  Now, however, I decided to change it up.  I focused on pushing myself through the soreness and tiredness.  My goal was to some how, some way run all the way to the Environmental Center.  After all, that would only be a little over a mile of running.

I made it through the rolling hills and was on my way to the challenging part.  Whenever I've started from the zoo, I've been unable to make it all the way to the top of this hill during the run.  I hope that isn't the case on Sunday.  I figured that trying to run up it today wouldn't cause any physical adaptations, but it could help me develop my mental toughness.

When I started up the hill, I just tried to focus on each step at a time.  I tried to look right in front of me and not at the top of the hill.  Occasionally, I took a peek though.  I developed a saying, "the hill is only 60% physical.  The other 90% is mental."  That actually seemed to help and I made it to the top.  I was dead and I didn't go fast, but I survived.  It felt so rewarding to get to the top.

There is still a short uphill to the Environmental Center, after a brief recovery.  I made it up there.  After accomplishing so much, I decided that I would try the same thing on the next steep hill.  This one is never easy.  I sputtered along, but I stayed focused and made it to the top, although I did so very slowly.  Still, it was another great sense of accomplishment.

By now, the hard hills were out of the way.  I was inside the final mile and knew I had to keep running.  I ran part way down one hill and then turned around at 3.5 miles.  I knew the final hill would actually be the toughest one on the way back.  I figured I now could conquer that though.

The short hill before the final one was a bit of a challenge.  My legs were very fatigued by then and I was sweating a lot.  I had to press on.  Eventually, I made it to the top and finished the run.  The last two miles or so were just about as challenging as any two miles of running have ever done.

I'm glad I was mentally able to test myself running over the hills today.  That is a big boost heading into the race.  On race day, I need to focus on steps going up the hill and just remain focused only on that hill and not look at the top of it.  If I can do that, I can push myself farther than I think I can.

The race is going to be interesting.  Last year, I held back and ran pretty smart, but I couldn't catch many people.  This year, I plan to go out hard early on.  I'm hoping that I can then recover some in the middle and push again toward the end.  I just hope I don't kill myself too much too early.  Regardless, I think this strategy is worth a try.

4 miles - 44:19 (11:05 pace)

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Another Double Digit Trail Run

Yesterday's 16 trail miles at Jacobsburg were definitely tough.  I felt like I had recovered fairly well from them though, so I wanted to try running a long(ish) trail run again today.  It does seem that riding my bike loosens up my legs too and makes my runs better.  Therefore, I opted for an easy hour ride before today's run.

I didn't get out until later that I wanted to to begin my ride.  By the time I was done with that ride, it was already after 6 PM.  I had not had dinner yet, but that would have to wait.  I was only able to get an hour of rest before my run.

I did want to run some in daylight, but also hoped to finish at night.  Originally, I was thinking about heading to Lehigh to run the trails there.  However, I just opted for Jacobsburg again.  That is a little closer.

I want to run ultras sometime and when you train for longer ultras, you do so by having back to back long runs.  It is hard to run 50 miles at once, so you'll run something like 30 miles on Saturday and 20 miles on Sunday.  I wasn't going anywhere near that far, but I wanted to try back to back double digit days anyway and see how my body would handle it.

The park is actually closed after dark.  There is a gate in the main lot, so I couldn't risk them closing it on me.  I parked up the road a bit.  All the other lots have "No Parking After Sunset" signs, but I didn't see one at this lot, so I went there.  It is where I used to park as a kid when my dad and I went fishing in the creek.

This spot was actually a good starting place.  It is right in between the Homestead Loop and the Sober's Run Loop.  I could run each loop and then add some mileage as needed.  I ran along the road briefly and into the Sober's Run Loop.  The very beginning was awful, but I felt better shortly.

I turned right early on and ran through a true dirt trail section.  A lot of this park has wide stone paths.  This section is a dirt singletrack on a ridge above the creek.  That meant it was mostly flat and the softness of the dirt felt great for my sore quads.  The early miles were still a slow go.

The roads were wet, so I guess a storm came through there.  The trail conditions seemed fine though.  After the dirt section, I had to run around some overgrowth.  They haven't trimmed the brush very well there.  I tried not to brush up against anything, but that was basically impossible.  It is the second day in a row that I went through that section.  I'm just hoping I don't get poison ivy.

My legs were quite beat, so I walked briefly every now and then.  I even did so on the flat sections from time to time.  I passed a dad walking with his kids just before the powerline trail.  They were cute.  I walked up the powerline trail to save my body. 

Just like yesterday, it was very humid.  It didn't feel too bad when I was running, but it was awful whenever I began walking.  With all this early walking, the pace was slow.  I knew it wouldn't be long until I was cruising downhill though.

It was great to be able to descend.  My pace was faster and I just stopped taking walking breaks.  I had to cruise along until I got back to the car.  I was only just over a 5K into the run and I was already pretty beat and my legs were struggling.

I figured that with this slow pace and all the walking I was doing, I could finish the 10 miles that I set out to do.  It just might take a while.  I finished the first loop at 3.25 miles.  I really was hoping it would be a little longer.  I knew the second loop was 3.9 miles yesterday.  I was hoping each loop would be 4 miles and then I could do 2 short miles to finish up.

I rested at the car briefly and grabbed some more to drink.  I wiped off with my towel.  Being able to just focus on each loop was huge.  Breaking down the run into smaller runs made it so much more manageable.  I guess that is how people are able to get through ultras.  They know they have a long way to go overall, but they just focus on getting to the next aid station.

Now, I was running the Homestead Loop.  This time, I would go in the counterclockwise direction.  That is the opposite of what I normally do.  By doing this, I would start uphill and be able to mostly cruise downhill to finish.

I walked a fair amount in the early portion of this loop.  This is the loop that is exposed to the sun.  The nice thing is that today, it was cloudy.  A saw a bunch of rabbits in this area.  They seemed to really be around as darkness was approaching. 

As I started coming downhill, I ran by some houses next to the trail.  I heard barking dogs and was a little concerned.  I heard them yesterday too.  They would've had to run through a lot of brush to get to me, but I wouldn't be surprised by that.  Thankfully, I had no issues.

I ran through the Boulton Historic Site.  There are some cool buildings there.  I usually run through there so fast that I don't take much time to look at them.  At my slower current pace the last two days, I enjoyed them a little more.

I didn't feel terrible when I hit mile 5, but I didn't feel good either.  I figured that I would finish the run, but it also wouldn't be easy.  I enjoyed a lot of this fast section back to the main parking lot.  When I got there, I refilled my water.  I drank a lot of water today, but only used 1 electrolyte tablet.

I went up and down the hills around the new construction site and was back at my car.  That was after exactly 4 miles on this loop.  I was at 7.25 miles total.  By now, it was really getting dark.  There was still visibility, but I knew it would be short lived.

I rested again, but only briefly.  The frustrating thing was that my shorts were just soaked by this point.  I really hate the humidity.  I grabbed my headlamp and headed out for the final 2.75 miles.

The bugs fly at the light of your headlamp.  That took some getting used to.  After some time, I didn't even notice it.  This time, I wasn't doing a full loop.  It would just be an out and back segment.  I figured that I would just run on the main path.  The problem was that I forgot how to get to it.  I didn't go out far enough and I ended up on a narrow, dirt trail.

I knew where I was, but wasn't really sure when this would come out to the main trail.  There was so much cover that it was tough to see more than a few feet in front of me, even with the light.  At one point, I stumbled over a root that I thought I was past.  At least I didn't fall.  I decided then that when I found the smoother main path, I would follow it.

Eventually, I came out to that path and ran out along it.  I was nearly to the parking lot when I turned around.  This was 1.25 miles into this segment.  That meant I would have to run an extra quarter mile at the end.  However, this trail actually curves near the end, so that added some distance.  I saw a small frog hop toward me on the trail.  That was kind of cool.

It was now very dark and I looked forward to finishing the run, as I approached the final mile.  This part was all flat, so I ran it.  I was sputtering along, but still going.  I ran most of these final 2.75 miles.

When I got back to my car, I had a tenth of a mile to go until I was done.  I briefly ran up the Homestead Trail before turning around.  I was beat, but glad to have 10 more trail miles under the belt.

Although I'm very sore, these last two days were a good test.  I'm sure no ultra runner yet, but I'm working on it.  I love being able to walk here and there and recover when I need it.  Not worrying so much about pace and just enjoying the trail has been a big plus too.  Bringing along water has helped as well.

Tomorrow, I might bike, but I definitely won't be running.  I need to take it easy now with Quadzilla coming up on Sunday.  To keep my Trexler streak alive before the race, I'll probably run there on Thursday.  It will likely just be an easy 3 or 4 miles.  I'll be quite busy with basketball games over the next week and a half, so fitting it workouts will be interesting.

10 miles - 1:53:18 (11:20 pace)

Monday, July 8, 2013

A Tough 16 Trail Miles

I biked last night, but have been so busy lately that I haven't done a whole lot.  Today, I was finally free and needed a long run.  Since I'm pretty much giving up on trying to run a decent marathon in the fall, I'm starting to work on my trail running and hoping that maybe I can enter an ultra in the fall.

I headed to Jacobsburg State Park.  It was super hot and humid out today.  It has been like that the last few days.  After a cool and rainy June, I was afraid that it would be unbearable once the heat arrived.  The good thing is that because I was trail running, I had a lot of shade.

I was hoping to run 20 miles, but figured that might be a lot on such a hot day.  Anything over 15 miles would be an accomplishment.  That distance has pretty much been my long run goal each week.  I want to run that much as a minimum.

With all of the heat and humidity, I knew that I would have to bring water along and some nutrition too.  I need to learn how to eat and drink more on long runs too, especially if I plan to enter ultras.

I was planning several loops.  I also intended to walk some of the hills.  The only thing is that there aren't many hills in Jacobsburg.  Most of the ones that do exist aren't very steep either.  It is an easy place to run.  I'm not sure if that was a good thing or not.

I bought a handheld bottle and some electrolyte tablets to drop into it.  That seemed to work out pretty good.  I had bought one before and found it kind of annoying.  That was when I was marathon training though and more worried about my pace.  Running nice and easy today, the handheld wasn't a problem at all.  I just switched hands every few miles.

I usually run on the main path out of the parking lot.  Today, I started the first loop by just going straight across the street.  That made the distance of the first loop slightly less than normal.

I cruised around and felt good.  The heat didn't feel bad at all, with all of the shade.  It was actually more noticeable any time that I stopped and walked.  I came to another guy running early on.  He was one of the few runners that I encountered.  I rarely see people running there.  There were quite a few hikers out.  I didn't see any horses or mountain bikers, that I can recall.

The first loop was easy and pretty uneventful.  I like these type of trail runs because I don't focus on pace at all.  When I saw that my first couple miles were around an 11 minute pace, I just decided to try to stay under that for most of the run.  Of course I could go much faster, but I wanted to survive the run and the humidity.

I ran through a lot of the muddy section.  We have had so much rain lately, so that was a blast.  Some parts were so muddy that it was tough to even find a place to run through.  This is a gradual uphill section and I did walk some of it.

Even when there are hills that I walked, they usually were short.  The one exception is the powerline hill.  It is fairly long and has a decent slope.  The other issue is that it is one of the few trails exposed to the sun.  I made sure to walk it.

Most of the last few miles of this loop were awesome.  The remainder of the Sober's Run Loop is largely downhill.  I was going easy and still putting in some nice times.  They were just over a 9 mile pace.

There was some walking to get around the construction area.  It will be nice when the new building is done and I don't have to detour around it.  I do sort of like going uphill there though and it does add some distance.  I finished up the first loop at 5.6 miles.

I was pretty beat when I stopped.  I tried to get shade and continue to drink and I also ate an energy bar.  There was actually a bit of a breeze and after stopping, I felt pretty good a few minutes later.  My shorts were unbelievably soaked though.  It was like I went swimming and I had not even run 6 miles.  There were just an awful pair of shorts.  Luckily, I had another pair with me and I changed into those.  They worked out much better for the remainder of the run.

The second loop was a shorter loop.  However, it had a steep climb and worse yet, a lot of it was run through open field.  I knew that would be a bit of a challenge.  Actually, it wasn't too bad because I walked a lot of the hill.  There also seemed to be some cloud cover when I was in the field area.

The first couple miles of this loop were slow and a little challenging.  I knew a lot of the end of it would be downhill though.  It seemed to go by pretty quick.  I had another electrolyte tablet with my water and that seemed to be helping.  I didn't notice much salt on my face.  That is usually a problem when I don't drink enough.

I startled a woman coming around a turn.  She was hiking.  I finished this loop a short time later.  It was 3.9 miles long.  I was now at 9.5 total miles.  Again, the rest helped.  I was quite beat though.  I knew the final loop would be tough.

This time, I did the same loop as the first time.  The only difference was that went out on the main path and thus extended it.  I knew that with the extra distance, I'd easily hit 15 miles and would probably run to mile 16.  By this point, I knew there was no way that I was doing more mileage than this loop.  It was just too hot and humid, even in the shade.

I passed a few people walking their dogs along the creek.  Again, not much happened on this loop.  It was rather lonely.  I kind of like that too.  It makes for a good mental challenge.  I do find running the miles on the trail can be more relaxing.

By the time I reached 13 miles, I was quite exhausted.  It dawned on me that I had never run this far alone on a trail before.  That was a nice accomplishment.  My legs were starting to get sore by now and my whole body was just tiring.  The good thing was that since I had walked quite a bit, I could walk again if I had to.

I still mostly walked the uphills, like the muddy section and powerline section.  Sometimes, I was so beat that I even briefly walked flat sections.  That didn't last long.  I was sore and exhausted, but I had to keep going.  The electrolyte tablets in the water were sure a big help, but I was still sweating a lot.

Right before the powerline trail section, it was quite a struggle.  I was losing it.  It was a big help knowing that when I got past the powerlines and back into the woods, it would mostly be downhill from that point on.

I was still tired, but I got a nice second wind thanks to the downhill.  I watched as my overall pace dropped.  It had slowed to well over 11 minutes on this loop, thanks to the extra walking.  I kept just focusing on the next half mile or mile.

Finally, I was downhill near the main lot and heading back to the finish.  At this point, I was very close to 16 total miles.  To get there, I ran about .2 miles out on the flat main path.  It was great to be done.

My legs were quite sore after this one.  It definitely beat me up.  It was great to be done.  This was one of my more challenging runs ever.  The heat and humidity made it so hard, as did running on trails and doing so alone.

It's hard to believe that a 50K is another 15 miles.  I would like to do that in the fall, but I guess I'll let time dictate that.  I think one of the things that made this run so tough was that so much of the route is runnable.  If it were a more hilly course, I would've walked and recovered a lot more.  I think that was why I was able to do more at Dave Decker's Loopy Run.  I guess having friends there helped too.

I was hoping that maybe I could run another decent length trail run tomorrow.  With how sore my legs are, I guess that is likely out of the question.  Trails seem better on the legs, but they still can beat them up quite a bit.  I'll probably just hop on the bike and try to take it easy.

Loop 1 - 5.6 miles - 57:40 (10:18 pace)
Loop 2 - 3.9 miles - 40:59 (10:31 pace)
Loop 3 - 6.5 miles - 1:12:07 (11:05 pace)

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Trexler Night Run

I haven't run much lately.  Mostly, I've been on the bike to save my legs.  I rode 30 miles on Friday (a new high) and 20 more on Sunday.  Yesterday, I added in an easy 12, after 8 the day before.  I had to get in a run and I had to do it at Trexler.  The end of the week is busy, so I headed there for a run that my friend Todd invited me too.

The run was at night.  I've been wanting to run at Trexler at night for a long time.  It was perfect.  The only issue was that I was going to a minor league baseball game.  Luckily, the people that run trails at night are a little bit crazy.  I couldn't make it for the first loop, but I arrived early for the second one.

They had about 15 people going and most of them were only doing one loop, so I didn't have a lot of company.  It poured so bad and there was thunder and lightning when I was at the game, so I almost didn't go.  I was glad I did though, because it didn't rain much up there.  It was just a nasty cell that went through the area, but missed this part of it.

I saw all the guys coming back from the first run and they were soaked and said it was very humid.  That was helpful to know because it felt nice.  I elected to run without a shirt on.  One issue was that I had no water, so running 8.5 miles would be a little tough.  With a few of the guys going 4 or 5 loops (I can't even imagine that there), I knew the pace would be slow and I could handle a loop without water.

It took some time until everyone got back from the first loop.  I guess they were waiting for people at some points.  I finally took off with a two guys that I didn't know.  We ran ahead of Todd.  It was already around 10:30 when this loop started.

I did run at night some, but that is on flat trails, definitely not places like this.  It was tricky for my eyes to get used to.  On the downhills, I was definitely slow and cautious. 

The ground was wet everywhere, but it wasn't too bad.  Most of the time, the trail was clear.  At night, you can't see much of anything at Trexler.  I'm glad I knew the route.  We actually took the loop backwards.  They were switching it up every lap.  That was good, since I don't usually go this way.  I usually follow the Quadzilla race direction.

I just ran along following these guys.  I felt pretty good and was only doing one loop, so I could've run ahead.  However, I wanted some company.  I just let them lead the way and dictate the pace.

We walked up almost every significant uphill.  That certainly saved my legs.  It also made the run go slowly.  Every mile seemed to take forever. 

The humidity was bad, but actually it wasn't that noticeable until we would stop and walk.  At times, there was a mist out and you could see it on your headlamp.

The guys I was running are military guys and they are a different bread.  They train how I wish I could train and hope to one day.  I want to be the guy that normal runners look at and think, "that guy is crazy."  They'll run several loops here and the one guy used to even do loops while dragging tires around.  I love all my normal runner friends, but these ultrarunning people definitely have more of my mindset.

These guys knew each other, so they talked a lot.  I didn't have too much to say, especially because I can't relate to their crazy training methods.  Maybe one day.

Even though I know this trail well, at times I wasn't quite sure where we were.  Part of that was that we were running the trail in the opposite direction that I am used to.  Normally, the scenery here during the day is beautiful, but at night, you can't see much of anything.

The hills were tough, but with all the recent rain, the creek crossing was definitely the most unique and challenging aspect of the run.  The water was almost waist high.  It was even trickier because it was so dark that you couldn't see the rocks at the bottom.  I made it across, but at one point, I could feel the current pushing me down stream.  Now, I see how people can drown so easily this time of year in real rivers.

The steep hill that is the toughest on the course was sure interesting going down.  Normally, I am running up it.  It took me forever to get down it.  The guy in front of me just flew down it.

It seemed like the run was taking forever.  Knowing how the trail is setup was helpful though.  I realized that the final 2 miles would be mostly runnable.  It was and that was nice as time flew by.

One big reason that I stuck with these guys was because I didn't know how to get around the gate crossing.  It closes when the zoo closes. I've never run through there when it was closed.  I didn't realize that you can just walk right around it.

After I got past the gate, I just took off.  I was beat and needed the run to be over.  I left those guys behind for the final mile.  I was only doing the one loop after all.  The hills from this point on were a bit of a challenge, but I ran most of them.  I walked only briefly.  I was still done in well under 2 hours.  That wasn't too bad.

I wish I could've done another loop, but I'm traveling a lot today and I needed some sleep.  It would've been after 3 AM that I would've been home after a second loop.  If only I could've started earlier.  If only I brought water too.  Maybe next time.  Running there at night was great and I definitely want to do it again.

For the longest time, I've known that I want to get into trail running and ultras.  I figured that would be my main type of running.  I just love the challenge of longer distances.  This run and Dave Decker's Loopy run have just reinforced this.

I figured that I would qualify for Boston first.  Then, I'd run it once and be done with marathons forever.  I enjoy distances, but marathons aren't much fun to me.  Since my body is crap now and I'm so slow, I might just sign up for an ultra and start running those and if my speed ever comes back again, I'll shoot for a BQ.  I already have my sights set on a 50K in the fall.

8.51 miles - 1:48:09 (12:43 pace)