Friday, August 30, 2013

Running on Fumes

Today was a pretty busy day, as a long week is winding down.  I had to run 8 miles and also bike after that.  I got out around 12:30 PM.  It was a little later than I hoped, but earlier than I usually run.  Since it was a short run by my standards, I headed to Jacobsburg.

I parked near the Sober's Run Loop and planned to just run that area.  I thought about doing a couple short 2 miles loops.  I wasn't really sure what to do though, so I just ran and decided on the fly.

It was hot and humid as usual.  I went shirtless as I always do.  Since I wasn't going too far, I decided to wear some shorts than don't work well in hot weather.  I figured that they could hold up for a few miles.  I was wrong.  That was a huge mistake and they were absolutely soaked in just a few miles. 

I started off on the flat section.  I then dropped down to the section along the creek.  When I came out at the end of this section, I decided to run another creek section.  I only went a short distance when I came across a woman on a mountain bike.  She was obviously couldn't ride well and didn't belong on this singletrack.  She couldn't even ride faster than I was running.  It was frustrating, so I turned around and ran back on the main trail.

I went a short distance and on to another singletrack section.  I ran this for a little while, but then it went uphill.  My legs were very tired from the beginning of this run.  They haven't felt bad in some time, but I guess this should be expected after back to back days of 15 and 17 miles with only one day of rest after that.  I turned around after some of the uphill.

I then took the long way back to my car.  First, it was the main stone path.  Then I was onto the singletrack.  I just concentrated on clicking off the miles. 

By the time I was back at the car, I was over 3 miles.  I still had a bit to go.  I decided to do the Sober's Run Loop.  That would put me over 6 miles and I could do a short out and back.

I walked uphill at the powerline section.  I could've run it, but I needed a break and relief from the heat.  I knew after the uphill I could cruise downhill. 

At one section, I I turned right toward a road.  This is a section that I usually don't run.  Going out and back on this rolling section added about a half mile or more.  I looked for more trail sections near the road, but never did find any.

I then ran back to through the rest of the loop.  I passed a guy with a couple dogs.  I did another short out and back to another road.  That added a little too.

I then enjoyed the singletrack on the way back.  I came to a couple people on mountain bikes going downhill.  I'm glad I heard their brakes or I might've run into them.  I was back at the lot at over 6.5 miles.

I just ran the out and back on the flat main trail.  That got me to 8 miles for the day and 40 miles for the week.  I was beat and soaked and glad to be heading home.  As I was walking back, I saw a snake on the main trail.  It was small.  I think it was a garner snake.

I was quite tired, but I still had to ride.  The ride was quite humid.  Plus, I carried a heavy camera bag on my back.  I rode to Moravian Academy and was going to watch a cross country meet.  It was just too crowded though, so I rode home.  I ended up with 20 miles, but my legs were gone by the end of it.

Tomorrow, I won't be running.  I still have 20 miles to ride.  If I can get up, I might bike with the BCR.  I would have to get there early to get those miles in and still finish in time for breakfast. 

8 miles - 1:16:41 (9:35 pace)

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

17 More in the Books

It didn't look to promising for a long run earlier in the day.  It was raining down buckets.  I don't mind running in the rain, so I probably would've done about 5 miles.  However, there was no way that I would run 15 or more miles.  I took a nap and had to drag myself out the door around dinner time.

I went to Jacobsburg for the run.  Of course being in the woods, everything was still wet.  The good news was that the rain had stopped.  I decided to park in the small lot at the far end of the trail, near the new Bushkill Township Trail.  I'd start with the Sober's Run Loop.

I went without a shirt and was questioning that decision briefly.  The temperature was nice and cool, in the low 70s.  However, the air was still damp.  I felt great in the first mile, but by mile 2, I was wiping sweat from my head.  It is amazing how used to it your body eventually gets.  That or you are just so soaked that you can't get any worse.  After an hour or so, I didn't feel bad.  It also got cooler I guess.

I began with a short loop along the creek.  Some of that is stone trail and another part is dirt singletrack.  I thought about continuing this loop over and over and over again.  I figured it would drive me crazy though.  I also ran along the other section of the creek, nearby.  This is a fun singletrack too.

Although I was back at the car, I didn't stop there.  I wasn't more than a couple miles into the run.  I continued on to the normal loop in that area.  That meant an early climb up the powerline section.  I decided to walk up it to be cautious.  After that, it is a lot of downhill, so I cruised. 

I had some issues trying to figure out where to go from this point.  I was going to run through the muddy section, but the mud I encountered was just too much, too soon.  I came out to a road and started running up it.  I then just decided to head back down it and take my normal route.

This meant a climb up the big hill by the new building.  I walked up this too, so that I could conserve energy.  I didn't walk much on this day though.  When I got to the water fountain by the main lot, I refilled my bottle briefly.  I was around 6.5 miles at this point.

I decided that I would take the long section from here that I usually begin with.  That would get me fairly close to 10 miles.  Then, I could stop and rest at the car.  There weren't many people out after such crappy weather, but I came across a very attractive young lady who was mountain biking by herself.  I can't remember the last time I actually saw a woman on a mountain bike, particularly alone.  I saw two guys on bikes with a dog later on.  Luckily, we didn't really cross paths.

I went through the muddy section and that was a blast.  Usually, I can hop over or go around the mud to avoid it.  There were some massive puddles today and I had no choice but to go right through them.  I crossed all the roads and came out near the Sober's Run Loop.  I was almost back to my car.  Rather than head there, I decided to go the opposite way and take the short loop along the creek to my car.  That would add some mileage.

This was about a mile and a half more.  It is an easy section.  Still, I started to get tired.  My only rest break was the brief water stop.  My legs had no time to recover.  After 15 miles yesterday, they were starting to feel it.

I got back to the car at just over 11 miles and was exhausted.  I toweled off a bit, drank some more water and ate a Clif Bar.  I definitely wanted to get to 15 miles, but in the back of my mind I was thinking I could do 17.  I had decided that fairly early on in the run.

I headed back out, planning the usual Sober's Run Loop.  That meant a walk up the powerline hill, but a lot of nice downhill after that.  That would be good as I would approach about the 14 mile point before getting back to the car.  At one point, you can turn right off of the main trail and go out to a road.  I ran a short out and back there.  In the end, it got me to just over 14 miles.

By now, it was starting to get dark.  If I wasn't behind trees, it wouldn't have been too bad.  The singletrack in the woods was getting tough to see though.  I had tripped over a root earlier and didn't want to fall.  I was cautious.  I made it out fine.

When I got back to my car, I had about a mile to go to 15 miles and 3 miles to get to 17 miles.  I decided I would try to run a little on the Bushkill Township Trail.  I needed flat and easy to run surfaces since it was getting dark and I was getting tired.  This worked out well because it was a little brighter in this area.

I got to mile 15 and turned around on the trail.  I couldn't see my watch, so I just had to listen to the beep at each mile.  I have a light on my watch, but when I sweat too much, it acts funky if I touch it.  I didn't want to mess with it.

I got back to my car just before mile 16.  It was very dark by now.  I continued onto the main trail.  This time, it would just be a short out and back.  Since I couldn't see my watch, I didn't quite know how far to go.  I didn't go out far enough, so I had to do another short out and back before I finally heard the beep.

I had a tough 17 miles in the books, after 15 miles yesterday.  That's definitely the most mileage I've ever done on back to back days.  I'm a bit sore, especially since I ran on a stone trail near the end.  My feet were bothering me a little.  If it wasn't dark, I might've really pushed myself to 20 miles.  I was glad to get a couple miles over 15.

Tomorrow will be a rest day from running.  I'm hoping to get on the bike for 30+ miles.  If I have time on Friday, I'll do the remaining 8 trail running miles for the week.  It would be nice to get to Saturday and basically be able to rest.

17 miles - 2:56:54 (10:24 pace) 

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Muggy 15

Yesterday, I was feeling a bit unmotivated to do a long run.  I postponed it to today.  I didn't exactly slack off yesterday.  I did bike 25 miles, for nearly 2 hours.  When I went out the door this morning to head to work, I knew that pushing the run off was a big mistake.  It was so much more humid than yesterday.

The plan was to run the usual 15 to 20 mile long run.  We had tickets to the ballgame tonight, so I kind of had a tight window.  Not that it was that tight, but 15 miles of running takes around 3 hours on trails.  I started off right at 1 PM.  So that I didn't waste any time, I ran at Jordan Creek Parkway again.  It is 5 minutes from work.

I got there and it was incredibly humid.  I was just thankful that I would be running in the shade.  I figured that that wouldn't help much though.  I ran shirtless as I have all summer.

There were far less cars in the lot today when compared to Saturday.  That meant fewer people were playing disc golf and I could run the trails around the holes more frequently.  I started off immediately to the left and into a new section by many of the holes.

This was a nice start.  It ran along the creek and was a flat, dirt singletrack.  I wasn't in the way of the disc golf course too much either.  It wasn't long before I came to an end and had to cross over a bridge to get back on course.  I then ran the singletrack out on the opposite side of the stream.

I stayed on the perimeter and eventually came out to a baseball field.  It was the park that I was in last year and I knew exactly where I was.  This area had a couple ponds and I looped around them.  Someone looked like they were pulling a trap or something like that out of the water.  At first, I thought maybe it was some fishing method, but now I'm thinking maybe a beaver trap or some other critter.  I don't know.

I thought the section that I ran the other day had so many options.  This area took it to a whole new level.  It seemed like every .05 miles there was a split in the trail and more options.  I felt like I could run there all day and never do the same section twice.  At times, I had no idea what direction I was headed.  One time, I thought I was going one direction, but I actually ended up going the complete opposite direction and came out right back where I started.

There were a few disc golf holes on this side.  I didn't get in the way at this point.  One of the holes had a steep uphill climb.  Since it was early, I walked up it.  Even with all of the in and out running, the mileage wasn't adding up too much.  Eventually, I came to the main stone trail and ran on it. 

When I got to the paved section, I decided to run the steep uphill.  I knew I wouldn't be able to climb this later on because I could trip when I was tired.  I ran about 3/4 of the way up it and could've actually run the whole thing.  After going in and out of some more trails, I eventually came to my car.  I did a little bit of out and back until the next mile. 

I was at 5 miles when I got back.  Although running wasn't bothering me too much, when I stopped it was awful.  I was soaked and could really feel the humidity.  It seemed like I might be getting a little lightheaded.  I strongly just considered call it a day.  Instead, I toweled off, drank some fluids and added some electrolytes to my drink.

I figured that I could probably at least get to 10 miles and then I could be somewhat satisfied and call it a day.  I headed back out.  This time, I planned to run the section that I had run last time I was there.  I was familiar with this section by now.  It had some climbing and that was tough.  Other than that, it wasn't too bad and it was fun.  I was still able to take a couple different routes.  

I just focused on getting to mile 10.  That would be huge.  By now, I was really soaked, but actually getting used to it.  You can only get so wet and as long as I'm not chafing and I'm hydrating properly, there isn't an issue.  I tried going through the section with all the disc golf holes and was hoping I'd come out with around 11 miles.  I got back near my car sooner than I thought though and I ended up at 10 miles when I stopped.  I interrupted to people who were trying to take their shots at disc golf.  It was later in the afternoon and the course was becoming crowded.

This time, I tried to make the stop at the car quick.  Not only was I soaked, but the legs were getting tired too.  I didn't know if I could make it to 15 miles, but I figured I'd at least get to 12 miles at this point.  I ran along the main path and the trail near the creek that I've run over and over again.  I crossed "The Bridge to Nowhere" as I learned it is called and headed onto the singletrack.  Normally, I've gone to the right and up this hill.  This time I went left.  I forgot that it goes along the creek.  I think I took this route early on on Saturday's run and had forgotten about it.  It didn't add a lot of distance, but every little bit helped at this point.

As much as I didn't want to run on pavement, it was flat and easy and wouldn't be a tripping hazard.  Therefore, I started out on the main paved path.  I was only going to to go out .15 miles, but I just kept going and going, knowing that I was knocking off distance.  Eventually I came to the end of the path and was into a housing development.  I turned around.

I ended up following a young couple on mountains bikes.  I lost them at the end of the pavement.  I realized that they couldn't be going where I was headed because they were riding slow and I likely would've caught them in the singletrack section. 

I was so thrilled when I got to 14 miles.  I knew I'd make it through the final mile.  I had to do a short out and back on the creek section through the disc golf course to finish up.  It was such a relief to be done.  I really still have no idea how I did it.  I just put my head down and kept pushing.  I'll need that type of mental toughness for the 50K.  It is good to get through a day like this too, in case I have a tough day again in the future.

Tomorrow, I'm hoping I can do another 15-20 miles.  I'd really like to get a 20 miler sometime soon.  I haven't had enough of those.  I think it might be humid or even storming tomorrow.  We'll see how it goes.  Although I'd like to travel a little for one of these runs, it probably won't be tomorrow.  I'll probably just go to Jacobsburg.

15 miles - 2:46:02 (11:04 pace)

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Jordan Creek Parkway

Once again it has been a busy week.  I had to finish it off with a 10 mile run and 10 mile bike ride.  Obviously the ride would be easy, but after 40 miles on the bike yesterday, I wasn't sure what my legs would have for the run.  I wanted to run yesterday evening, but I would not have completed the run before dark.

I'm always trying to come up with new places to run, especially if it is close.  A while back, I found that there were trails at Jordan Creek Parkway in Whitehall.  I went to the area, but wasn't really able to find them last year.  I found some short trails, but not much else. 

I looked these trails up again and found the correct parking lot.  I started off at 2 PM.  It was a little cooler today, but still hot and I ran shirtless.  I was surprised at how packed the parking lot was.  There is a disc golf course right there and a lot of people were playing there.  I saw a couple mountain bikers in the parking lot.  I had to make sure to follow one of them because I didn't even know where the trailhead was.  I couldn't find a map of the place.

I went on a stone path and over two bridges over the Jordan Creek.  I saw some disc golf holes, but I didn't want to run through there with all the activity.  Apparently some of the trails are parts of the course and I'll have to explore them when it is less crowded.

After the bridges, I found a trail going both ways.  I decided to take the downhill path, rather than the uphill one.  I didn't want to start by climbing.  That turned out to be a perfect decision.  The downhill was short and I was quickly running alongside the creek.

This section was pretty nice.  It was relatively wide for a singletrack and it was flat and smooth dirt.  Just the kind of trail I like for a long run.  It only lasted .85 miles though.

I was then back to a stone path.  I had multiple options.  I could run on the stone, take the paved path or cross over another bridge over the creek.  I saw a mother and daughter on the stone path, so I figured they weren't looking for wooded trails.  I went up the paved path for a short bit, but didn't find a trail, so I turned around and crossed the bridge.

That was the correct move.  Over the bridge, it turned into a nature trail.  I wanted to run along the creek, but the trail didn't go that way.  I then ran a little farther away.  It was a bit of an uphill to run on top of the ridge.  This area was a little more rocky, but still not too technical and it was enjoyable.  It looked like it could be fun for mountain biking.

This section had so many options.  It seemed like there was intersections with two options everywhere.  I had no idea what to chose.  I just decided on the fly.  I wasn't too worried about getting lost.

This is a difficult place to actually get lost because it is such a small area and eventually you will come to the main paths or houses.  I ran into yards a few times and had to turn around.  I did get disoriented at times because there were so many paths.  Even though I didn't exactly know where I was, I wasn't totally lost either.

I was happy that I ended up taking an entirely different on the way back.  It was in the same area as the way I came, but it was a different trail.  With so many small trails, it is no wonder there are no trail maps. 

I was around 3 miles when I came back out to the bridge.  I wanted to get to 6 or 7 miles before stopping back at the car.  I headed back on the initial creek trail and planned to run uphill this time.  However, when I got to that section, it was the disc golf area.  I ran back down to the stone path and decided to follow that for some time.

I ran by a couple cute young ladies.  Most of the run, I was alone, so this was a nice change.  They were walking the main path and I ran into them several times.  Eventually, I got to a doubletrack trail off of the main path.  I decided to just take it.

After a short time, the doubletrack turned into a singletrack.  Again, I had many options.  At one point, a mountain biker was on the trail.  It was right after an intersection, so I went to the right.  This area was a little overgrown, but not too bad.

I worked my way around the singletrack for a bit.  Then, I got to an interesting section.  It was a steep ridge.  It wasn't too dangerous, but there were a lot of rocks.  There would've been a chance to fall over the side if I did trip.  Plus, it was a fast downhill section. 

I came out onto the paved path.  I decided to keep running out it this time.  I ran by an older Asian couple that were fishing in the creek.  I then came back into a neighborhood.  I had to turn around. 

I still was only at around 5 miles or so when I got back to the bridge with the multiple options.  I decided to cross the bridge again.  This time, I tried running along the creek.  That trail was too overgrown though, so I headed back up the hill.

Again, I took a slightly different route through the top.  I always knew where I was when I came to an open section.  After that, I ended up on another lightly traveled area.  I was on a ridge again.  This trail went to a fence that said, "Private Property."  The trail did go downhill, but then into what looked like an overgrown field section.  I decided to just turn around.

I went back to the bridge and then headed through the first trail section along the creek.  I was back at my car at 6.85 miles.  That was a solid start to the run.  My legs were getting tired by now, but I knew I could manage to get to 10 miles.  I refueled and dried off a bit.

I headed back out.  I figured I would just run a lot of the same sections to finish up.  I went on the creek side trail again.  A family rode by on mountain bikes.  They had a dog running with the kids and too parents.  That was neat.

I came out and ran over the bridge again.  I went out for a little while and then turned around and headed back.  I figured I would just run on the paved trail.  I did that for a short distance.

I finished up by running through the section along the creek again.  By now, I had repeated myself and was more familiar with the trails.  I'll have to explore even more when there are less disc golf players.  This was a fun trail to run.  I'm not sure if I'd want to do 15+ miles there, but medium distance runs would be fine.  It is very close to my work too, so I can go there after some deliveries.

I finished up another week with 40 miles of trail running and 100 miles of biking.  I've done this 3 times now.  It is tough to do, but definitely rewarding.  I need to get some more biking mileage earlier in the week, so I'll try to ride from 15-25 miles tomorrow.  There will be no running.  On Monday, I'll try to do a long run and I'll run a second long run again on Tuesday.

10 miles - 1:46:06 (10:37 pace)

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Night Run at South Mountain (Emmaus)

Sometime plans change and you just have to roll with it.  It is good to squeeze in a workout when that happens.  Initially, I was going to head up to Stroudsburg for the Nazareth football scrimmage.  I decided not to go that far.  I would've run up there.  Instead, I was going to run closer to home.

Things changed again in the late afternoon.  I was riding my bike and apparently one of our other stores at work needed me to make a delivery around 9 PM.  That meant that I had to change up my plans again and run after work.  Actually, I probably could've squeezed in a run before heading to work, but I'll use any excuse I can to run after dark.

Our other store is close to Emmaus and I've been meaning to get over there and run the trails on South Mountain anyway.  That's exactly what I decided to do.  By the time I was ready to go, it was already 10:30.  Even though I still needed to run 16 miles during the rest of the week, I figured this would have to be a somewhat short run.

I thought about wearing a bright shirt, but it was just too hot for a shirt.  I figured I probably wouldn't run into anyone anyway and if I did, they should be able to see my headlamp.  I could've parked near the Alpine Street Trailhead, but then I would've been starting right at the singletrack and would've been climbing fairly early on in the run.  I opted instead to park in town in Emmaus.  I actually ended up right by the Emmaus Run Inn.

I headed out on the street and then went to the spur trail.  This gave me around a mile or so of relatively flat and fast terrain to warm up to.  When I first got to that spur trail, I was worried because I thought there was a car in the parking lot.  I wasn't crazy about encountering any people.  I then realized that it was actually on the road below.

It must have been over a year since I last ran there.  It seems like they've added things like benches and tables and such.  There are some boardwalks on the spur trail and it rained a lot today, so they were quite slippery.

I got the main wooded trail not long after that.  The spur is made up of stone and relatively wide.  This section to the top of the mountain is a narrow dirt singletrack.  I was now to the fun part.

Things got very interesting in this area.  I'm not sure if my batteries are low on my headlamp or if I need a stronger headlamp, but either way I was having trouble seeing.  I only had one spare battery available.  Some logs on the trail that were almost a foot high.  At times, I didn't even notice them until I was right on them. 

It was also foggy, so that contributed some to the poor visibility.  I had to be very cautious as I slowly climbed.  At one point, I actually didn't even notice a small spring and I ran right through it instead of over it.  Somewhere around 1.75 miles, I tripped over a rock or log that I didn't even see.  I maintained my balance.  At least I was going uphill.  I probably would've crashed if I was heading the other way.  I decided at that point that running on the singletrack wasn't a great idea.  I turned around and headed back down.

Coming down, I was very cautious.  I didn't come across any issues.  I was back to Alpine Street before I knew it.  The beginning of this area is flat, so I decided to start up the other side of the loop until I encountered any issues.  Not too far into that, the trail started to descend.  I didn't want any elevation change, so I headed back. 

I cruised along the spur trail.  I heard a dog in the distance.  He must've heard me running through the woods.  I'm glad he didn't try to find me.  I saw a cop go toward the trail just as I was back onto the street.

I was back onto the roads of Emmaus around 3.5 miles.  I headed away from my car for a short out and back.  Later on, I ran by a bar with tables outside.  The few guests/employees must've really enjoyed a seeing a sweaty, shirtless guy running through the dark.

I came up behind a cute young lady at a light.  I made sure to announce my presence so that I didn't scare her too much.  Back at my car, I was at about 4.25 miles.  My plan now was to get to 6 miles and call it a day.  My pace had now quickened thanks to the road running.  I was around a 9:30 pace.

I wanted to stick to the sidewalks of the main road.  That would keep me very visible and I wouldn't need a headlamp.  I kept going and going and going.  It seemed like running less than a mile was taking forever.

I tripped over a curb.  Again, I kept my balance.  Apparently the sidewalks were just as dangerous as the trails.  At least I survived both incidents without a scratch.

I finally was at mile 5 and I turned around to head back.  I figured that I would have a little extra running when I got back to my car.  I did that and ran a short out and back on the opposite side of the street.  I was now finished.  I grabbed a drink at the water fountain in the triangle and dried off my body.

I wish I could've run a little more trail, but I'll take it.  There's no point in taking too much of a chance at night, especially alone.  I also don't know this trail that well.  I would actually run after dark all the time if I had a training partner that was willing to do so.  I'm not afraid to run at night on trails, but if something ever did happen, I'd be screwed. 

I'd like to try to get 10 miles of running in tomorrow to complete the week.  If not, there is still Saturday.  I would like to use that mostly as a rest day though.  I still have a lot of riding to do.  I need to put in 50 more miles in the next two days (after 15 miles today).  My dad has off tomorrow and I'm hoping that we'll go to Lake Nockamixon in the afternoon.  If we do, I'll bike the loop around the lake.  It is a relatively flat 18 mile loop.  That should be a perfect location to do a long ride.

6 miles - 56:43 (9:27 pace)

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

New Jersey Pine Barrens

Today was certainly an interesting run.  Since I was going to a dirt track race at New Egypt in New Jersey, I decided to try to run around there.  When I was looking at the maps, I found that there was a Wildlife Management Area right by the track.  I didn't quite know what that meant, but I knew it was undeveloped and it looked like it had trails.

I assumed that the area (called Colliers Mill Wildlife Management Area) was a lot like the area that I ran farther south in New Jersey.  I was correct in that assumption.  They were both very similar.  Both are located in the Pine Barrens.  Both are a combination of dirt roads and unmarked trails, although by dirt roads it is really sand roads.  Everything in that area is made of sand.

I didn't realize how far of a drive it was, so I got there later than I had anticipated.  It was close to 4 PM when I started.  I wanted to run 15 to 20 miles, but it was so hot and humid that I wasn't even sure if I'd do more than 5 miles.  I figured I'd be thrilled if I could get to double figures.

I thought this area would be pretty remote, but I was wrong.  I saw quite a few people there.  That said, I was the only one crazy enough to run there.  Some people were walking.  I saw some horseback riders on the road as I was coming in.  I parked next to a small pond.  I figured no one would be there.  Luckily, I changed when I did because shortly after that, a whole group showed up.  They were kayaking in the pond.

I found a local group that maintains trails and their website showed a couple routes to take.  Really, they were more dirt (sand) roads than trails.  I figured that those would be safe to stick with.  When I ran the area in South Jersey, I nearly got lost with all of the crisscrossing trails.

I began by heading north.  I was relieved when I discovered early on that two of my biggest concerns weren't as bad as I thought.  First, it was definitely hot and humid, but with some shade and a breeze, it was manageable.  Second, the sand wasn't too bad to run on.  It was fairly solid in most spots.  It was really packed down on the roads.  At times, it was loose and a struggle to run through, but those sections were few and far between.

I ran up the road and it ended at a circle at the north end of the pond.  I thought there was supposed to be an office in this area, but I never did find it.  I did see a trail off of the main path.  I figured that I would take it north.  It was fairly clearly.  There was some higher brush here and there along the doubletrack, but it wasn't too bad.  It did get worse as I got farther from the road.

I was out about a mile and a half and I went over some short hills.  The trail started to get more overgrown, so I headed back and went onto a part where it had turned earlier on.  This was a good choice.  This section was more runnable than where I was heading.

This was a wildlife management area, but the first wildlife that I saw was a dead bluejay.  There wasn't much else out there, other than bugs.  They bothered me plenty.  There were trees, but the canopy wasn't very thick.  I was hoping to run through some soft pine tree sections, but there weren't a lot of those and I didn't see any clear trails when I did come across them.

I just kept running along.  At one point, I turned off and headed down another trail.  This quickly ended in what looked like a dried up lake.  I ran past a dog training area.  I guess that is where people train hunting dogs.  I was pretty sure that I was running parallel to the original trail and would be able to do a loop.  I wasn't 100% sure though.  I was slightly worried because as I got past 2 miles and near to mile 3, I was starting to get too far out to backtrack if I had to.  The heat would've really got to me at that point.

Eventually, I came out to a main road.  I'm amazed at how smooth and well maintained these sand roads were.  They must come through them with a grader or some type of equipment quite often. 

A short time later, I came to an intersection.  There was a sign pointing to the way I was coming from that said "ranger."  I figured that that meant that I if I ran to the right, I'd be looping back to my car.

I was correct, but for some time, I was concerned.  I couldn't see anything familiar (not that there was much familiar around).  The other issue is the trees were now gone from along the roadway.  I was in the blazing sun and headed uphill too.  I figured that by now I had to just try to keep going.  Eventually, I came out to the road by my car.  I was around 4 miles at that point.

I wanted to get to mile 5 before I rested.  I ran south on a stone path.  It went by a maintenance building and then along the edge of the pond.  The grass was cut in this area.  I came to a shooting range that I was glad was vacant.  I then turned around and headed back.  A woman was walking her daughter in this area.

I did some short out and back runs to finish up the first 5 miles.  It didn't feel too hot during the run, but when I stopped, I was dieing.  I dried myself as much as I could.  I ate a Clif Bar and drank some more water.  I felt slightly lightheaded, so I wanted to be cautious.  The route had be relatively flat, so I ran the whole thing.

It was already getting kind of late and I didn't want to overdo it in the heat, so by now I decided that I would run 5 more miles and get to 10 miles for the day.  That would be a solid outing in this weather, in an unfamiliar place.

This time, I figured that I would sort of do the same loop, but head in the opposite direction.  I wanted to go the other way when I got to the intersection.  I think if I could've stayed on that route long enough, I would've come to another pond.  I knew I wouldn't make it that far though.

Some guys drove by while I was running through the hot section with no shade.  They must've thought I was crazy.  By now, I was sweating a lot and soaked, but it didn't bother me.  I wasn't having chafing issues and I was very grateful for that.

I ran out the other direction for about half a mile.  I was getting hot and I was at 6.5 miles now.  I still had a tough 3.5 miles remaining.  I figured that I would head back and finish up the loop in the opposite direction as before.

As I was tiring, the footing was now becoming a little more difficult.  I thought about getting to mile 8 and then turning around and running back on the dirt road rather than the trail.  That would've put me in the sun though.  At least now I was enjoying the shade (somewhat).

I got to a turn and didn't think it was where I had to turn, so I kept going.  I was glad I did as the turn was just up ahead.  I added a little more distance.  I then was on my way back.  I was tiring and just focused on getting to mile 9 and then to mile 10.

I came off of the trail and back onto the dirt road.  I ran around a couple of the dead ends by the lake to add to my mileage.  I figured that I would be a little short of 10 miles.

I ran and couple short out and back segments around my car to finish up.  It was great be done.  This certainly wasn't the most scenic or enjoyable place I've run, but it wasn't bad.  It was easy and it was something different at least.  I've been getting tired of the same old thing.  I was also glad that I found that nice loop.  Some better weather would've been nice, but it is what it is.  If I'm in the area again, I'll definitely run there again.  I did enjoy running on my own.  Maybe I can explore more in the future.

It has been a solid last two days of running.  I wish I could've put in a few more miles, but I'll take it.  Back to back double digit mileage days is still solid.  I would like to get a longer run in of around 25 miles before my marathon and 50K.  Maybe I can do that next week.

Since I biked this morning and that was my first 10 miles of the week, I have to ride a lot tomorrow.  I'm hoping I can do 40-45 miles again to get me back on track.  I'll probably run again on Thursday.  I have no idea where at yet.

10 miles - 1:36:29 (9:39 pace)

Monday, August 19, 2013

Sometimes You Just Have to Get Started

I figured that my body needed a day off after I was pushing it so hard last week (especially at the end of the week).  I made yesterday a rest day.  I forgot I had a doctor's appointment today though.  It broke up my afternoon.  I didn't have time to run before it.  I wanted to bike then, but was just too tired and took a nap instead.

Even when I got back from the doctor, it took me some time to get going.  I still felt tired, so I made some coffee.  That did help and gave me a big boost.  I still wasn't feeling the long run though.

It isn't that I hate long runs; it is just that they are so time consuming.  I also don't have too many places to run, since I'm sticking to trails.  I'm actually taking a road trip tomorrow and have another long run to do.  I'm pumped for that one because it is a new setting.  For today's run, that wasn't the case at all.  It was hard getting out the door.

I drug myself out anyway and headed to Jacobsburg.  Even before I got started, I was thinking maybe I'll just run 7 miles and try to do back to back long runs on Tuesday and Wednesday instead.  I got started anyway.  As I learned, sometimes that is all you have to do.

I actually didn't begin the run until almost 6:30.  That meant that I would be doing some running in the dark if I lasted 15 miles.  Originally, I wanted to run 20 miles, but I knew I wouldn't run more than a couple miles after dark.  Thus, the new goal was just 15 miles. 

I started with my normal 6 mile loop.  The only difference was that I parked in a lot across the street from the new building.  There are gates in the main parking lot and I didn't want them to close those after dark with my car in it.

It was another decent weather day.  The temperature and humidity were low by August's standards.  That said, by the end of this long run, I was drenched in sweat.  At least my shorts worked pretty well and I didn't have any chafing issues.  I'm always happy whenever that is the case.  I ran shirtless again and was glad I did.

I cruised along nice and easy early on.  The rest day definitely helped.  My legs felt strong and I felt good.  The slight uphills weren't bothering me.  I planned the normal long loop to the Sober's Run area, but I would also add a short loop there for about 8 miles or so.  That would be a good start before getting back to the car.

As I got through the rocky dirt section, I had a blast.  I glided over the rocks.  I wasn't pushing hard, but I sure wasn't going slow either.  I decided pretty early on that I would try to run most of the route.  None of the hills are too steep.  I usually just walk some of them so that I don't wear down.  I thought I would try to keep going today.  For my 50K, I plan to run almost all of the time and just stop and recover at aid stations.

I saw a lot of horse crap, but thankfully not any horses.  I can't remember the last time I actually saw any horses there.  For that, I'm glad.  Oddly, I didn't come across any mountain bikers either.

I was climbing the powerline trail and I came across some of the few people that were out there on this evening.  A guy was walking up the hill with his son.  Then, I realized that he was actually walking his son's mountain bike up the hill.  When they were at the top, the kid rode and guy began running.  I don't see too many people running here.  I wasn't too far behind them.

I have few runners to chase when I run in this area, and even less now that I run trails all of the time.  This provided a good chase.  The guy was moving at a decent clip, but I was slowly reeling him in.  It might've been too early to go after him, but I didn't care.  I passed both of them on a downhill.

Of course, my pace ended up picking up.  I just flew downhill to stay ahead of them.  I knew they would turn off on the main path.  I was going farther to run on the dirt singletrack.  That mile that I passed them in was super fast.  It was a 7:57.  I could've pushed even more too.

Once I lost them, I was able to relax a little bit more and enjoy the run.  I ran on the singletrack with my thoughts.  One of them was about next year's Quadzilla race.  I love the trail and the race, but it is just too fast on too challenging of a course.  I've been debating whether I wanted to run it or not.  I think what I'm going to do is run it as an ultra.  I'll do two loops before the race, early in the morning and then run the final loop during the race.  That would be fun and maybe I can get some other to join me. 

I came out of the dirt section fairly close to the guy and his son.  Their route was shorter, but I was only about 25 yards behind them.  If I would've pushed through that section, I would've ended up ahead.  By now, I was over the 6 mile mark.  The pace became more reasonable. 

I headed onto the flat, stone path for a while before going down to the trail along the creek.  It is amazing the difference between the stone paths and the dirt nature trails.  My quads feel it so much more on the compacted stone.  This park is a mix of both.  I actually wish there was even more dirt.

By now, I was thinking about how far I could get without stopping.  Since it wasn't too hot, I still had water left.  That is usually why I have to stop after a few miles, but I was good to keep going.  I figured that I would get to over 8 miles and if I went out along the top of the ridge near the main parking lot, I could get close to 10 miles.  That would be awesome.

I did exactly that.  After running on the road briefly, I was climbing the trail behind the new building.  That took some work, but I managed and I think the pace might have even dropped.  It was a steady 9:35 for some time.

I made it up the hills without walking.  I had not walked one step to this point.  I can't remember the last time I ran this long consecutively.  Usually, I at least stop for a drink and often I walk the hills.

I am usually cautious at the ridge.  I had to climb and that was a little challenging, but I knew that it was a short climb.  I flew along the ridge.  I leaped over roots, roots and more roots.  I ran around a family walking a dog.  This section can be a little tricky because one fall the wrong way and I could go flying down the steep hill.  I felt strong and went over the roots pretty quickly though.

I then finished up this loop and was out to the main parking lot.  I had to run around some grandparents with their grandchildren on the bridge near the main lot.  I ran out to my car and had to do a short out and back on the road to get to exactly 10 miles.

I felt good during the run, but I didn't realize how soaked and sweaty I was until I stopped.  I ate the remainder of my Clif Bar, got some water and wiped myself off with a towel.  I was then off again.

It was just starting to get dark by this point.  I figured that I could survive 5 more miles though.  I didn't want to dig through my bag for my headlamp.  I took off from the trail just across from the main lot.

The long, gradual uphill in this section was some trouble for my legs.  I was planning a couple miles out and back at this point.  When I got into the woods and the dirt singletrack, things got interesting.  The rocks and roots were kind of hard to see as it was darker in here than in the open field type areas.  I had to really be careful.

My biggest concern was the downhill section.  A lot of it is washed away.  Where there are roots, it had created natural steps.  These drop-offs were hard to see at times.  I made it through though.

Now, I wanted to just stick to the smooth, main paths the rest of the way.  It was definitely getting too dark.  I went out a short distance, but then just headed back.  I figured that this time, I would take the long loop back to the main lot.  That would give me a good amount more distance.

There is a full moon out tonight and it looked awesome when I ran through open sections.  A lot of the remainder of the run was through the woods though and it was getting darker and darker.  At one point, I smelled a skunk.  I was very cautious and didn't ever see him.  He must've been in the bushes somewhere.

I continued on through the darkness.  I really wasn't quite sure what mile I was on.  I didn't want to light up my watch too frequently because that wastes the battery.  I could here it beep after every mile though.  The next time I heard it, I couldn't believe I was only at mile 12.  There was still a long way to go.

I ran by the red barn and started to go to toward the Boulton Historic Site for some extra distance.  When I lit up my watch, the screen had switched.  I couldn't get the display to show the time and distance.  I figured that it was still probably running though.  Now, I just decided to head back.

I couldn't see much anymore.  Every now and then there was enough moonlight to provide some visibility.  The trail was smooth enough that I didn't need any light.  I was more concerned that I might run into a person in the dark.  I didn't want to startle anyone.

I was also concerned about getting back to the main lot.  I know some Nazareth High School wrestlers were busted for selling drugs there.  I assume that that took place after dark.  Not exactly the activity that I would want to run into.  There were a few cars in the lot when I arrived there, but not many.  I heard, but didn't really notice the people.

I ran briefly on the road to my car.  I got my watch working correctly again.  I then ran a bunch of very short out and backs next to my car.  I was very close to 14 miles and I just wanted to get to that point.  I eventually did.  I was a mile short of what I wanted to run, but I didn't want to pull a headlamp out for one mile, so I just called it a night.

I wasn't looking forward to this run, but once it was over, I was glad to have got it done.  I definitely have to make it a point to run one of these weekly long runs at a new place or with people.  That will be the case tomorrow, as I'm headed to the Pine Barrens in New Jersey.  There is a WMA right next to the dirt track that I'm going to watch a race at.  I really am looking forward to the run and exploring new trails.  I am dreading the fact that it will be hot again.  I'm hoping that that doesn't limit my mileage.  I also hope the trails aren't too sandy.  When I ran farther south, there was a lot of sand.  It was in the winter time when I did that though, so the ground was more solid.

I thought about biking in the dark tonight, but I figured that that would be kind of pointless.  Instead, I'll just get up early to ride some miles.  Wednesday will be my long ride for the week.  I'm looking at putting in another week of 40 miles of running and 100 miles of biking.  I'm now on track with plenty of time left.

14 miles - 2:17:42 (9:50 pace) 

Saturday, August 17, 2013

It's Been Awhile

I haven't run with the BCR in a long time.  Part of that is because I have trouble getting up early to run, but another part of it is that I've run on nothing but nature trails for about 2 months.  I only needed a short 3 miles and they were running at the nearby Nor-Bath Trail, so I ran with the group.

It was nice and chilly early on.  I ran with a shirt for the first half of the run.  Sometime in the second half of the run I got kind of hot and took my shirt off.  It still wasn't bad though.

I talked with Mertz briefly in the beginning of the run, but I told him to go ahead.  I was planning on running nice and slow.  Angie blew by me at one point.  The first mile was around a 9 minute pace.

I was ahead of most of the group, but I ran with Jennifer and her dog and a guy Stephen.  The dog was having a blast running with us/ahead of us.  Stephen actually lives pretty close to me.  We discussed training and a lot of other stuff.

Time flew by in the first half of the run.  I was enjoying having some company, so I decided to keep going when I was at 1.5 miles, rather than turning around.  I went out to mile 2 before doing so.

The second half of the run reminded me of how much I hate flat, boring rail trails.  It was only 2 miles, but I still got sick of it.  Early on in this segment, it was nice to pass the others in the group that were going out.  There was a big pack together and when I passed them I commented how they were running in unison and looked like an army unit.

My friend Kelley was running with a jogging stroller behind those people.  I ran with her a lot last summer, but she has a three month old and is working her way back into shape.  It was good seeing her.

Frank was heading back and I passed him at one point.  Other than that brief moment, I was running alone.  My legs were a little tired from the long bike ride on Friday, but they survived.  Running so much on trails has made a huge difference.

The final 3 miles were in the low to mid 8 minute range.  I definitely lost some speed, but actually it's not too bad.  I had lost quite a bit of speed when my legs were beat up in the spring.  I do wonder how they'll handle a long and repetitive run like the VIA Marathon in a couple weeks.

It was good to be done with the run.  I do wish I could get up earlier more often because it is nice to get the workout out of the way early.  I had all afternoon to bike.

I had to ride 29 miles in the afternoon.  That was a bit of a challenge for my dead legs.  It was hot by that point too.  I managed to get through it though.  I finished the week with 41 miles of running and 100 miles of biking.

Tomorrow, I'd like to try to get in a long run.  That may depend on how my legs feel.  I'm not sure where I'll run at if I do.  I'd like to go to Trexler, but it could be too hot for that.  I'm also not sure if I can do 2 loops there.  That's how much I'd want to do.  I may end up at South Mountain on Lehigh's campus.

4 miles - 34:42 (8:41 pace)

Friday, August 16, 2013

Long Ride, Short Run

I've been slacking a bit this week, at least in the biking part of my workouts.  With two days left in the week, I was only up to 31 miles of biking and 33 miles of running.  The goal was to run 40 miles and bike 100 miles again this week, like I did two weeks ago.  I'm going to try to keep this level up for some time.

That meant I needed to bike and bike a lot.  The weather was pretty much perfect, so I headed out this afternoon to ride.  My longest ride to date was 31 miles.  The plan was to get 40 miles in today.  I knew that would be difficult for my body, but I was up for the challenge.

I thought about riding around Lake Nockamixon.  The roads there are pretty good, with wide shoulders.  The terrain is generally flat and you can make a nice long loop out of it.  I mapped it out and the loop came to 18 miles.  That would've been perfect.  However, I just didn't feel like driving that far to bike.  I'll have to go there with my dad sometime while he kayaks.

I opted instead to ride around the neighborhoods as I usually do.  Doing one loop around everywhere over there is typically about 15 miles.  That meant I had to do a lot of it over and over again.  It got kind of repetitive, but I got used to it.  I did go out a little farther than usual and rode a new section, but I usually wasn't too far from home.

I went the whole ride with nothing to eat and only 24 ounces of water.  I should've stopped back home and refueled, but I wanted to keep going.  I was starting to get a little crazy by the end.  I was singing Christmas songs and 80s songs to myself. 

It was great to finally be done with the ride.  I'm glad I was able to go that far.  I still have to put in 29 miles on the bike tomorrow.  Sometime in the fall, I think I want to try to do the bike leg and running leg for a Half Ironman.  That would be 56 miles on the bike followed by 13.1 miles of running.  That would be quite the challenge, but also fun.

I still had 7 miles to run this week.  I'm thinking about running with the BCR tomorrow morning.  They will be nearby at the Nor-Bath Trail.  I don't want to run 7 miles then, so I decided to do a short run at Jacobsburg this evening.

It was a great night for a run.  It was nice and cool.  I wish this weather would last, but I know it won't.  It'll probably be gone early next week.

I parked in the main lot and started out on the main path.  Since it was such a short run, I wanted to try to run the whole time.  My legs weren't great, but they weren't as bad as I thought they would be.  A 40 mile ride would tire me out no matter what.

The first mile was kind of slow.  I struggled some on the long uphill.  Then, I got into a groove.  I had so much fun flying over rocks and roots in the singletrack section, especially on the downhills.  I'm doing so many long runs lately, that I can't often run hard or fast.  Today, I just flew along.  It was starting to get dark out, so that was a little tricky.

It was still only a moderate pace.  The second mile was much faster than the first and I ran it well under 9 minutes.  I thought about turning and heading back, but I knew if I took nearly the same route, there would be a lot of up and down.  I figured that my legs couldn't handle it.

Instead, I ran out to the road.  I figured I could cruise along the road for about a half mile.  It was mostly downhill too.  I was back onto the trail in no time.

I knew this next section would be very difficult.  There is a pretty steep climb up behind the new building.  I had to just keep pushing.  I was going so hard that my overall pace dropped even while going uphill.

After the hill, it was all downhill or flat.  I was now inside the final mile of this 4 mile run.  I was cautious through the steep downhill section.  I didn't want to trip where I fell last week.  My pace dropped a bit because of that.

I then got back to the main parking lot and decided to do a short out and back on the main trail.  I was approaching 3.5 miles at this point.  I figured I'd either run out all the way until 4 miles or turn around when I got to the uphill part.

I came to the uphill at 3.7 miles and then headed back.  I was really flying and pushing now.  Most of the run was moderate pace, but this was closer to a fast pace now.  I finished up at the bridge and it was great to be done.

Tomorrow will be a busy one.  If I run with the BCR, I'll probably do 4 miles.  I was considering biking there and I haven't ruled it out, but it is unlikely.  I would have to get up earlier and getting up to drive there on time is hard enough for me to do.

Biking 40.13 miles - 2:49:13 (4:13 pace) 
Running 4 miles - 35:25 (8:51 pace)

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Perfect Day for Another Long Run

I was very frustrated that I only ran 2 miles yesterday.  However, I knew today's weather would be awesome and it sure was.  It felt like a crisp, cool fall day.  I planned on a second long run of the week.  This time, I just decided to stay local and go to Jacobsburg.

I am getting kind of tired of running the same routes there over and over again, so I changed it up a little.  I usually run the outside of the Sober's Run loop.  When I was leading a group run in June, a guy asked me if I ever run the inner loop.  He said it was fun.  I typically haven't gone that way because it is uphill at the start, after I had just finished climbing the powerline hill.  I thought I'd give it a try this time.  Then I could add some extra mileage too.

First things first, I had to get to that section.  That meant running up the powerline hill.  I started in the parking lot near there this time.  It is amazing how much easier this hill is when it is at the beginning of the run and when it is a day with low humidity.  I can't remember if I walked any of it, or just slowly ran the whole thing, but regardless I definitely ran a lot of it.

I got to the new section and ran through there.  At first, it was open field, but it quickly changed to singletrack through the woods.  It was a fun section, especially because most of it was downhill.  With all the recent rain, it was quite muddy.  The trail was also cluttered with small branches, remnants of the storm.

There was a section where I could continue downhill or turn uphill.  At first, I went downhill, but quickly turned around.  I walked some of this hill.  I came out to the main trail shortly after that.  I then ran the opposite direction from what I normally do, so that I could add distance.  I ran a nice singletrack along the creek that I've run a couple times before.

I was back on the main trail shortly.  Rather than stay on this smooth surface, I decided that I would take the next singletrack back to the parking area.  It is a nice ridge section.

I had started out wearing a singlet, but I just decided to take it off early on.  I ran shirtless, just like I have been doing for months now.  That made things much cooler.  Plus, I had something to wipe my head with.

I cruised along the singletrack.  I was back to the car before 4 miles.  I only stopped briefly to drop off the shirt.  I wanted to run about 6 miles before taking a break.  I decided that I would take the main path and then venture off along the creek.  This is wide and has some stone, but it is definitely more of a nature trail.  The same can be said for the other side of the creek.  I ran that one too.  The trails connect with a water crossing at one point, but I opted for the bridge.  I didn't want to cross a creek early in the run.

I was a little under 6 miles when I arrived back at the car again.  I wanted to get 6 miles before stopping, so I ran a short out and back.  It was good to get a rest.  I ate a Clif Bar, toweled off and rehydrated.

The plan was to run another 6 miles, for 12 total.  That would be a solid day and put me at 30 miles for the week.  This time, I wanted to run the open field loop.  I don't usually run that too often because it can be quite hot.  To get there, I ran along the singletrack again.  Of course I came across some mountain bikers in a narrow section.  I ran into quite a few bikers today.  I was just glad that there weren't any horses.  I hate those things.

About a mile into this second loop, I was to the Homestead trail area.  I ran this for a bit, but walked the steep uphill by the new building.  I then continued to run.  Since these trails aren't that steep and the weather was good, I ran almost the entire time today.  That made it a little challenging.

I came to the place where I fell last week and wondered how that happened.  There was a tree there and I must've tripped over its roots, but they weren't that exposed.  This time, I had no such issues.

I then ran through the trail from the large parking lot.  It was crowded with people as usual.  This place is a good combination of busy sections of trail as well as remote sections.  When I want to be alone, I can do that or if I want to see some other human forms, I can do that as well.

I walked up the big hill by the Boulton Historic Site.  I did run quite a bit of the early section.  I looked at my watch at one point and saw 10:22.  At first, I thought that was the mileage, but then I realized that it was the pace.  I was only slightly over 9 miles at this point.

My legs were getting kind of tired.  The 15 miles that I ran two days ago was taking its toll.  The good thing was I knew most of the rest of the loop was downhill or flat.  There was a little more climbing though.  A mountain biker flew by me going downhill while I was running uphill.  I almost didn't see him.

I then cruised downhill.  I was happy when I got to mile 10.  I knew there were only 2 miles remaining.  I knew I could make it that far.  Going downhill was easy.  I cruised along as the pace dropped and dropped.  I was getting closer to 10 minute pace.

I got back to the Sober's Run loop.  I then took the ridge singletrack back again.  I ran into some more mountain bikers.  I got back to the car and was over 12 miles.  I knew I had to keep going.  I figured I would run until 13.1 miles.

I planned a short out and back.  However, when I got to the creek trail entrance, I ran back down there again.  At this point, I was closing in on 13 miles and I decided that I would run to 15 miles.  I ran by a cute, young girl running with her dog.  I don't think they were actually running since she was in jeans.

Running along the creek was enjoyable.  It was so refreshing.  The legs were starting to feel beat up.  I was slowing, but I had to battle on.  I know I need to change my mentally if I'm going to run ultras.  In a road race, I kind of quit when the legs and pace start falling off.  With a long ultra, I have to keep mentally strong because my legs will fall off.  I'll still have a lot of mileage to run in a race after that happens.

I thought about staying on the main trail and that would've been better as I was tired.  I wouldn't have to worry about tripping over rocks or roots.  It is amazing how noticeable the difference is.  On the road, you don't realize you aren't picking your feet up as much when you are tired.  On the trail, you end up stumbling fairly often and sometimes you even fall.  I tripped a couple times, but didn't fall.

I got back to the parking lot and was around 14.25 miles.  I needed a short out and back to finish.  I went out and passed a kid walking with his mom.  Toward the end of the run, he was running too.

As I came to the creek trail section, a woman popped out from there.  She was going slow.  I felt bad because I would pass her and then be walking shortly afterward.  When I did that, she said, "you can keep going" or something like that.  I felt bad telling her that I had already run 15 miles. 

It was good to be done.  It is amazing how enjoyable this run was.  The cooler weather made all the difference.  Running the same trails that I normally do suddenly gave me some renewed energy.  I even ran 9 miles in the final loops.  There wasn't much walking during that time either.

I got home after the run and was exhausted.  I started off the run later than I usually do and I ran into the evening.  I debated whether to bike or not, but I managed to get on it for an easy 10 miles.  I finally ate after all of that.

Today was quite a challenge, but a lot of fun too.  I would've liked to have run back to back long runs, but I'll take it.  Now, I only need 7 miles later in the week to get to 40 miles of running.  That will probably be on Friday or Saturday.  I will definitely bike some more tomorrow.  At some point this week, I'd like to go for a 40 mile bike ride.  That would be a new high.

15 miles - 2:33:04 (10:12 pace)

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Walking Purchase Park Trails

After 16 solid miles yesterday, I decided that I would try for another long run today.  I didn't want to go to the usual places though.  I opted to try Walking Purchase Park, near Fountain Hill.  I had only run there once before.  That was about 2 years ago.  It was a bad experience because it was very hot and humid that day.  I almost passed out after just a few miles.  I remember it being quite rocky too.

Last year, I went on an LVRR hike and we started from Dodson Street.  The section we hiked seemed more runnable.  Also, when I was looking at a map of the place, it said that the outer loop was 10 miles.  I thought there would be enough distance for a long run, so I figured I would give it a try.

I started on the yellow loop and wanted to run the outside perimeter.  Instead, I actually ended up on the inside of both that and the red loop.  The beginning was nice because there was a lot of downhill.  It poured a lot early in the morning, so the trail was muddy and slippery in spots. 

Some of the vegetation was a little overgrown, but with all the rain we've had this summer, that seems to be the case anyway.  The Lehigh Valley Mountain Bikers built and take care of this place, so I'd imagine that they are doing maintenance fairly often.  My big concerns with vegetation is both ticks and poison ivy.  I must've brushed quite a bit of poison ivy this summer, so if I didn't get it by now, I probably won't.

The early portion of the run was flat and not rocky.  The problem was that it curved in and out.  There were no straight and fast runnable sections.  That made it fun to run, but it also made it slow.  That was something I couldn't afford.  Even without walking much, my pace was around 12:30.

After going downhill in the beginning, there was some up and down after the first mile.  The trail got very rocky too.  It is a good place for technical practice.  That is for sure.  I might use it in the future for exactly that.  I walked uphill every now and then, but not too often because it wasn't very steep.

I was frustrated not only with the slow go and the rocks, but the humidity.  I'm not sure if the temperature ever reached 80, but it was still very humid.  I was barely even running very long and was already soaked.  That was so frustrating.  I wish I didn't sweat so much.  It wouldn't be a problem, but no matter what I do, I end up with chafing issues after awhile.  I think I need to get another pair of compression shorts for long runs.  I have a pair somewhere, but I haven't seen them in almost a year. 

I knew the trail well enough that I knew I'd eventually come to a road.  I decided that I would just quit when I got there.  I had some nice views of the Lehigh River from the powerline cutout just before the road.  I got to the road and ran up it a bit.  When I got to 2 miles, I just stopped.

I had to walk about a mile back to my car on the roads.  I wasn't exactly sure where I was going either.  I did find my way though.  I had thought about running at Lehigh, but since I was already soaked, I just decided to call it a day.  I hate summer so much.

I guess I could try running in the morning, but I would imagine that no matter when I run it will be humid out.  The temperature isn't bothering me, it is the moisture.  The good thing is tomorrow is supposed to have much lower humidity.  I might do a long run then, so I could definitely use that kind of weather.  I'm not sure yet where I will go.

I didn't feel like riding my bike or running in the evening, but I was frustrated that I didn't do anything.  Finally at 8 o' clock, just before sunset, I took off.  I was only going to ride an easy 10 miles.  I forgot that a storm was coming.  I was riding in the school parking lot next to my house when the bulk of the heavy rains hit.  I had to cut the ride short after just over 6 miles.  At least I accomplished something.  Back at it tomorrow.  It will be a busy day with a lot of running and riding to make up for the slow start to the week.

2 miles - 24:59 (12:31 pace)

Monday, August 12, 2013

Blue Marsh Lake Recon

I wanted to get a long run in yesterday, but after getting home from a party, I was just too tired.  I ended up doing nothing.  That meant that I had to get out there today.  I didn't want to go to Jacobsburg again.  Since I signed up for the Blues Cruise 50K at Blue Marsh Lake near Reading, I opted to run there.

It is over an hour drive to get there, but I figured it would be worth checking out the race course.  The weather was fairly nice for August, but of course there was still some humidity.  It is also almost impossible to have nice weather when you are out there for 3 hours or more during the summer.

The plan was to do 20 miles, but really anything over 15 miles is satisfying for a long run on trails, especially during the heat of a summer afternoon.  When I looked at the map, I found a parking area and it looked like I could run a nice loop around the north side of the lake.  The south side of the lake was just too long of a loop to run.  I would've had to plan out where to refuel there.

The beginning of the loop could not have been any more perfect.  It was a beautiful, soft and mostly flat singletrack.  I couldn't have planned a better course for my legs.  There were some views of the lake, but a lot of the early route was under the shade of trees.

In order to survive this long route, the plan was to walk the open, sunny sections as well as the uphills.  The first three miles were so perfect though that these sections were few and far between.  I was beginning to think this is the most amazing place to run a long race at.  My big concern would be running too hard.

Just over a mile into the run, I came to a boat launch.  It took me some time to find the trail, but I was able to pick up a map.  I was then back on the trail.  There were two bridges in this first section that were quite interesting.  The first one had space between the boards, so it could be a trip hazard.  The second one rocked when I ran over it.

At about 3 miles, I was to the north side of the lake.  I had to run along the road briefly to pick up the trail on the west side of the lake.  It was hot, running in the sun.

Before crossing over the bridge, I had noticed that there was a hill with a communication tower on it.  I knew this side could be challenging, but I definitely wasn't prepared for it.  It was a pretty steep and long climb.  I walked a lot of it.  I probably could've run it, but that would've really burned me out.

The climb certainly slowed my pace.  This section was nice anyway.  It was a wide path through the woods.  Every now and then, there were brief glimpses of the lake through the trees.  I was so happy when I finally got to the top.

Near the top, I saw one of the best signs ever.  It read, "Caution: Long Downhill."  That is a caution sign I can live with.  It wasn't too bad.  They used some switchbacks.  I don't fly downhill like I used to.  I'd imagine this will be a difficult place to pass during the race.

When I got to the bottom, I was very disappointed.  I thought that I was done climbing for the most part.  Instead, there was yet another fairly significant hill to go up.  This wasn't as steep as the first, but not a lot of fun either.

After the hills and the woods, things didn't get much better.  I was definitely spoiled by the amazing early section of this run.  Now, I was out onto a singletrack into open field.  That was different, but definitely not fun on a summer day.  Toward the end of this section, the trail turned into a combination of stone and dirt road.  It was wide and I assume used by farm equipment too.

Eventually, I came to a road.  I got kind of lost in this section.  I ran both directions on the road, but couldn't find the trailhead.  There were some nice farms at least.  Then, I ran up a paved path with a gate near where I came out.  I didn't think this would be the trail, but I did see an arrow pointing the other way.  I assume those arrows were from last year's race that went in the opposite direction.

I ran up the road, but still wasn't 100% sure if it was the right way.  I didn't have many better options.  Eventually, it led back to the normal trail section.  This was a dirt path through the woods.  I enjoyed it.  I then saw the bridge by my car as I went through a powerline.  I was a little over 8 miles at this point.  The trail has mile markers on it.  That is kind of nice, but it can also be annoying too.

I thought I would cross the road and run to mile 9.  That was short lived though as that part of the trail went up and down.  I wasn't willing to climb at this point.  That also ruled out running this section later.  I ran across the bridge to my car.  I refueled with a Clif Bar and some water.  I tried to stay in the shade.  I was sweating a lot though.

At this point, I wasn't feeling too bad, but I figured with the heat that 20 miles wasn't in the cards.  Still, I would keep going and just see what I had.  I definitely felt that I could at least get to 15 miles.  I was now just under 8.5.

I ran on the east side of the lake again.  This time, I headed south instead of north.  I wanted to explore another section of the trail.  The beginning was flat and a solid singletrack.  It was muddy early on, but that didn't last.  I passed a family that was carrying fishing poles.  They were the only people that I saw on the trail all day.

Some parts of this were kind of annoying.  The grass was a little overgrown, but also some plants were on the trail.  I just had to try to dodge them as best as I could.  Running on a narrow singletrack when tired can be a little challenging too.  There were quite a few spider webs as well.  It was nowhere near as bad as Lake Nockamixon's trails the other week though.

After going through some open field type sections, it was back into the woods.  This part wasn't too difficult, but it sure wasn't flat either.  There were a lot of rolling hills.  They were short enough that I ran most of them.  They did sap some of my strength.

At 2.5 miles out on this part, I got to another hill and just decided that I would head back.  I figured that I would be right around 13.5 miles when I got back to the car.  Going back was pretty uneventful.  I tired a bit during the end, but made it to the car.

Again, I rest and rehydrated briefly.  My goal now was to run 16 miles.  That meant 1.25 miles in each direction.  I opted to go north again and run the nice and easy, flat section.  That was a good choice.  By now, my quads were sore.  I wasn't slowing too much though because this was such an easy section.

I turned around at 14.75 miles and headed back.  I ran the rest of the way.  I almost encountered some fishermen near the end, but they were still grabbing gear from the car.  I stopped at 16 miles and called it a day.

I probably could've willed another mile or two out, but I figured that it was pointless on a hot day.  It was time to just pack it in.  I had almost three hours of running under my belt anyway.  I saw over 10 miles of the course.

Sometime, I'll have to get back there and run the other part of the course.  Maybe when it is cooler out.  It is a nice trail and should be a fun place to race at.  It sure isn't going to be easy, but really I wouldn't expect a 50K to be.  I can't wait for the race.  October will have nicer weather.

I rode my bike for 10 miles after eating.  That ended a solid day.  It was my first time riding with a new tire and my tire seemed faster.  I've got another 90 or so miles to ride this week, so it will really get tested out.

Tomorrow, I'd like to run another double digit run.  Maybe I'll just head back to Jacobsburg.  Perhaps I'll change it up and go to South Mountain.  I would like to go to Salisbury sometime, but I think those trails are kind of short.  It might not be ideal for a long run.  I guess I'll decide in the afternoon.

16 miles - 2:53:53 (10:52 pace)

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Merrill Creek to End a Cut Back Week

After pushing pretty hard the last few weeks, including 40 miles running and 100 miles biking last week, this was a cut back week.  I sort of ending up taking it to the extreme and didn't do much at all.  I ran and biked way less than I had hoped to.

My bike tire had a hole in it and I had to get a new one before it got a flat.  It is now fixed, so I will test it out soon.  I ran on Tuesday, but the rest of the week, I ended up slacking off.  I wanted to run Thursday, but we had some pretty wicked storms.  Yesterday was unbearably humid, so I skipped that day.  I probably would've run one of those two days if it was a normal week.  Even today's run wasn't what I had hoped for.

Jacobsburg has been a perfect place to run, but I'm there so much that I'm getting tired of it.  Plus, I'm not crazy about having to do so many loops.  Still, it is good because I can at least run somewhat fast and it isn't too challenging, so I can do a 10+ mile run.  The biggest issue I've encountered since switching to all trail running is the time it takes.  I need to commit 2 to 3 hours for every run, since it is much slower than road running.  I guess I need to get faster on trails.

I decided to change things up and run at Merrill Creek in New Jersey.  It is a bit north of P-Burg.  I've run there some in the past, but I don't go there too often.  I'd bet that I haven't been there in 4 months or so.  It a trail around the outside of the reservoir.  A lot people boat there.  The scenery is great.

Each loop is about 5.5 miles and the trail varies.  It starts off as a wide stone path and eventually becoming a rocky and root covered singletrack through the woods.  The trail also goes over top of 4 dams.

I started off at the main parking lot by the boat launch.  This section of the trail is wide and covered in stone.  My legs have been off for days, yet my quads bothered me in this section.  The fairly even strides that I take combined with a harder surface than I'm used to, bothered me.  The upper quad area was sore early on.

The other challenge was that I was going uphill quite a bit early.  It wasn't steep, but it was a challenge with my legs not warmed up.  The temperature was pretty nice and it wasn't very humid, but the sun does shine on a lot of of this trail.  I was also somewhat hot because I wore a hat and my GoPro camera on top of it.

It wasn't too long until I was to the first dam.  It is awesome running on top of the dam (even if the stones are big).  It is cool having the water right next to you.  The scenery in this part was a big reason I wanted a GoPro.  I haven't worn it much in the summer because it is just too hot.  Today, I couldn't pass up the chance for some good photos.  I wasn't disappointed either.

After the first dam, it is back into the woods for a short while.  Then, comes the second and longest dam.  There is a gate in front of this one.  The trail goes down to the bottom and then comes back up.  The problem with this is that it is probably a couple hundred feet of elevation change.  I figured I wasn't supposed to run on top of the dam, but I decided to do so anyway.  I went down some big rocks and around the fence.  When I got to the other side of the dam, I realized there is a pedestrian walkway at the top.  I guess they don't care about foot traffic on the dam, they just don't want vehicles on it.  That was good to know.

I ran along the dam while people were paddling on the water.  One woman was facing me and rowing the same direction as I was running.  That was cool.  I was relieved to finally get to the end of the dam.  This time, I went right through the normal gate.

I was now onto the wooded singletrack.  I walked some of the slight uphills in this area, to make sure that I didn't run too much.  I was planning on 15 miles of running, so I needed to be conservative.

Around 2.5 miles, I came to a bench in the middle of the woods.  It is an odd spot.  I guess it is pretty accessible because there were 3 young ladies there.  I remember seeing some young kids there last year too.  I think last year they were smoking and maybe drinking.  Perhaps it is a teenage party type hangout, since it is quite remote.

Shortly after that section.  I followed the trail downhill to the right.  I wasn't paying attention.  I then realized that this went nowhere.  It was just straight into the water.  I had to walk back uphill.  My camera was dead at this point, so that sucked too.

I was now back on the main trail.  From this point on, I payed more attention to the blazes.  This back trail section was much more difficult than I recall.  Nothing is too steep, but it is like a roller coaster, up and down, up and down (although it seemed much more up than down).

I then came out on the third dam.  This one is much shorter than the previous one.  I passed some people walking on it.  I then headed back into the woods briefly before the final, short dam.

I was now about 4 miles into the loop.  This last section was anything but easy though.  It was a lot more up and down and even more roots and rocks than before.  I knew this could be a big challenge in later loops.

I passed a few people in this section.  I went by a couple on a narrow stretch.  Shortly after that, I ducked under a tree branch.  The top of my head hit the branch and I forgot about the GoPro.  That crashed right into the branch and fell to the ground.  Luckily, it didn't break.  Shortly after that, I bashed my foot into a sharp rock just before a footbridge.  That hurt and this section was no fun because of those two incidents.

I thought it might get easier in the last half mile or so.  I was wrong.  There was more uphill and more rocks.  I still would like to know where all the downhill was.

Finally, I went through a more pleasant section.  As I was heading down one hill, I realized I needed to go up the other trail a short distance to get to my car.  I turned around and finished up at my car.  I stopped my watch at exactly an hour.

The plan was to rehydrate and refuel.  I had not eaten any lunch.  I was beat and couldn't recover.  My quads felt better, but they were still bothering me.  I thought about how difficult the first loop was and how much harder a second loop would be.  I had had enough of the stone path, the sun and the rocks and roots.  I was disappointed, but I decided that calling it a day was the best option at that point.

I didn't do quite what I wanted, but I'll pick it up next week.  I think the most disappointing thing was how much my quads were bothered by the stone trail.  They've been better since I went to dirt trails, but I guess it will still be an ongoing problem on other surfaces.  I was hoping to just cruise through the VIA Marathon nice and easy, but it looks like those surfaces could be a real struggle for me.

As I mentioned, finding places for 15+ miles on trails is tough and it is so time consuming.  I guess I need to run more with friends.  That is difficult for me too because I hate getting up early to run and that is when most people who have a life actually run.  I guess it is a decision I will have to make.  What do I enjoy more, sleep or company?

Tomorrow, I am going to a 2 year old's birthday party.  Somehow, I have to find time for a run either before or after it.  I'd like for the run to be 15 miles, but I guess I'd be happy if I at least hit 10 miles.  I'm not going to up my weekly training much from the current 40 miles of running a week and 100 miles of biking.  I just want to stay consistent now.

The other big news of the week was that I signed up for a 50K.  It will be my first ultramarathon.  It takes place near Reading around Blue Marsh Lake in early October.  I can't wait for that weather.  I need to find some time to run there before the race.  I can't wait to dip into the world of longer runs.

5.44 miles - 1:00:01 (11:02 pace)

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Second Fall Ever

Today was just supposed to be about an easy 7 mile trail run.  I'm cutting back this week, so I wasn't going to do too much.  I thought about going to Salisbury, but then just decided to go to the usual location, Jacobsburg.  Of course one of the interesting things is that you never know what will happen on a trail.

I started off directly across the street from the main parking lot.  I was then going to run to the Sober's Run Loop.  This would be slightly shorter than my normal route.  I knew I would have to add a little mileage onto the end.

The beginning was tough with a slight uphill.  My body wasn't ready to go.  Still, I pushed on.  The uphill was over quickly.  The trail was still quite muddy in places.

The weather was relatively cool and the humidity was low.  It was a great afternoon to run.  I was running shirtless anyway though.  Because I was only running 7 miles, I wanted to run the entire time, rather than run/walk like I often do.  That meant the pace was quick.  I was under 10 minute pace for the first 2 miles and a lot of it was uphill.  There were a lot of horse droppings that I had to avoid in addition to the mud.

After crossing all the roads, I was on to the Sober's Run Loop.  The early part of the loop is largely downhill or flat.  The one path before the powerline just had new stone added to it.  Running on it was nice and soft.

I ran up the powerline trail, but that sure was a struggle.  It isn't super steep, but it is quite long.  Even when you enter the woods, it is still uphill for a bit.  I made it the whole way through though.

I then had a bunch of downhill.  I ran past a couple and was just cruising.  My pace dipped and dipped.  It was under 9:30.  Mile 4 ended up being so quick that it was an 8:35 mile.  That's pretty impressive on a trail.  My upper quad did start to get sore at this point.  The quads are feeling much better since I've started running exclusively on trails.  They aren't quite 100% though. 

I was done with the Sober's Run Loop and then back toward the main parking lot.  I continued to push a bit.  There were some fairly difficult sections in this portion and I had to battle.  I made it up them and my overall pace actually dropped.  It was under 9:20 overall for some time.  I wasn't running hard, but it was definitely a moderate effort.

I then started downhill.  I was over 5 miles and still had 2 miles to go.  I thought about running the longer loop through the narrow, hilly section.  I changed my mind and went the shortest route back to the parking lot.

This direction is downhill and quite steep, so I can really fly.  Just as I was cruising along when all of a sudden, I tripped and fell.  I guess I went over a rock.  It seemed like it happened in slow motion.  I actually stumbled first and almost recovered, but I fell right on my water bottle and other hand.  Since it was downhill, I also slid on my stomach and elbows.  Luckily, it was mainly just dirt.  I was also fortunate that I just fell straight down the trail.  There is a steep drop off if I would've gone over the side.  That could've been quite the fall.

I scraped my knee, elbow and chest a bit.  The worst problem was that bent my pinky.  It really bothered me the rest of the run.  It is better now, but still sore and I can't move it much.

Once I dusted myself off, I had to be tough and finish up the run.  When I got back to the car a short time after the fall, I was at 5.5 miles.  I ran out the way I started.  I got a half mile out before I was tired of going uphill.  I cruised back downhill.

I then ran a short out and back on the main trail to finish up.  I slowed down after the fall, but my overall pace still stayed under 9:30.  That was a pretty solid run and I was glad I could run all of it, except for the brief moments after my fall.

Today was only the second time that I've ever fallen.  I am usually pretty good with maintaining my balance.  The weird thing is that both falls have happened at Jacobsburg.  I've run on far steeper and more technical trails and run when I'm much more tired than today or during my first fall.  I guess maybe I was too relaxed.  At least this time I fell on a steep downhill.  Last time, it was on a flat section.

Tomorrow, will likely be an easy bike ride.  I'll run a couple other times later in the week.  My goal is about 25 miles of running and 50 miles biking this week.  A nice and easy remainder of the week.

7 miles - 1:05:49 (9:24 pace)