Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Reflections and Great Race to Finish the Year

This has been a great year with a lot of growth, particularly in the last few months.  It is amazing to think of how much I was struggling with my running early in the summer and where I am at now.  I'm pushing near all my PRs at the moment.  I haven't quite got there yet, but I'm not far off.

I guess the lesson for the year is if it isn't working out well, keep working hard, but don't be afraid to change things.  In the summer, I realized that my legs couldn't handle the training I was asking them to do.  Rather than continuing to push through it, I hit the softer surfaces of the trails and rode my bike over and over again.  That allowed me to get stronger and also build up a huge endurance base, heading into the fall.

I ran all my runs easy during that time too.  That allowed me to put in so many miles with both my shoes and on the bike.  All that work got me healthy and I when I decided to run hard again, I started seeing amazing results.  Since I've gone away from biking (when it got cold) and replaced it with more running, I haven't missed a beat.  I've been running faster and faster.  The amazing thing is that I'm still not running hard too often.  Most of the hard runs have been races.

It is so good to finally be running strong.  I have a lot of friends that I have met since I've moved back home.  All of my best running days had been before I knew them and when I was running in Philly.  I used to talk about where I thought I could be and the times I felt I could still run.  I'm sure plenty of them thought I was crazy, based on where I was at.  However, I know what I've done before and what I'm capable in the future.  Even now, I'm still only just scratching the surface.  I've always have a ton of untapped potential.  The roadblocks have been my desire (when I was younger) and my health in more recent times.  It looks like I am finally breaking through those.

As I go into 2014, I need to be consistent and only build slightly on what I am doing now.  One of my biggest problems has been overdoing it and now I see the importance of reaching, but not too far.  I'm hoping for a spring marathon in about 4 months and I don't plan on pushing my mileage up much.  I will mix in some more fast running, but again, not too much.  I need more longer marathon pace training if nothing else.

Today was a perfect way to the end the year.  I wanted to run a sub 20 minute 5k.  That is something I haven't done since 2010.  I figured I was very capable and unless I had a bad day, I would crush that time.  I signed up for the Peeps Fest 5k.  It looked pretty competitive last year, at least at the front of the field.  That is exactly what I needed.

I wasn't too excited because the weather forecast predicted a big increase in wind by the start of the race.  My friend Jerry encouraged me to run it and that I'd do well.  I headed down there and signed up.  The wind did hold off and it just picked up now.

I saw a few people before the race.  Kelley was running to her car, so I ran with her for a short distance.  I then continued my easy warmup on my own.  I had to use the bathroom, so I ran there.  After that, I saw Angie about to go for her warmup, so I joined her for a bit too.  In total, it was an easy 1.5 mile warmup.  It was good to get the legs moving.

The wind wasn't bad, but it was still quite cold.  I had a tough decision to make on what to wear.  I wanted to wear shorts, but I wasn't sure if that was too crazy.  When I saw a few others in shorts, I went that route.  I figured that I couldn't freeze too much in 20 minutes of running.  I feel like my legs have more freedom in shorts and I can run faster than I would in long pants.  I made sure to wear a heavier top to keep my core warm.  I also wore gloves and my headband.  The headband came off pretty early on.

I looked at the route before the race.  It was basically the same route that I used to use to lead group runs there for the LVRR.  It starts near the ArtsQuest Center, goes over the Fahy Bridge, then climbs the hill and eventually goes onto Market Street.  After that, there would be a tough climb of the Minsi Trail Bridge.  I knew the course wouldn't be easy with the hills.  I was ready for it though.

The start area was nice and wide.  I started in the second row.  I knew there could be some fast college runners there, so I didn't want to be too far to the front.  With how wide that area was, I probably should've started in the first row.  It wasn't too bad, but I did initially have to dodge the guy in front of me.

As usual, I ran out at what I felt like was a comfortable pace.  I had to get the legs going.  My pace was 5:44 after a quarter mile.  Gradually, the pace dropped back into a normal zone and I got into a groove.

I went up the Fahy Bridge.  That climb was a bit of a challenge, but it isn't too bad.  I was passed on this bridge.  I think that was the only runner that passed me during the race, other than maybe during the shuffling at the start.

I could see a lot of the leaders in this opening mile.  Part of this course was the same as the Christmas City Classic course, so I knew what to expect with the hill past the bridge.  It was much easier early on today then it was at the end of that race.

The hill slowed me a bit and I came through the first mile in 6:07.  I was happy with that because I didn't feel like I was going too fast.  I wasn't cold and the legs felt awesome.  The breathing was a little heavy, but nothing that wouldn't be expected for a 5k.

Once I got up the hill, I told myself to be consistent and when it was flat, I even pushed the pace a bit.  There was another short hill before turning onto Market Street.  I attacked that and kept battling.  I passed a few people throughout and had runners not too far ahead throughout the race.

Maybe the biggest boost was seeing Kathleen up ahead.  She's an amazing runner, who won the women's race.   She was probably a quarter mile ahead throughout, but I never expected to even be that close to her.  That kept me motivated to stay strong.

That second mile had slipped a little.  It was a 6:13.  I was well under my goal pace of 6:25 though, so I was thrilled.  I still felt good and it would take a major collapse to not go under 20 minutes.

Going downhill on Market Street was great.  I think I might've passed one of the other top women in this area, but I don't quite remember.  I was only focused on getting up the tough climb of the Minsi Trail Bridge.  I knew it was downhill after that.

The bridge nearly killed me, but I kept battling and pushing.  I wouldn't let it win.  I was near a half mile left in the race.  One thing that was cool was that there were some snow showers during most of the race.  That was fun.

Coming down the bridge was great.  It was such a relief.  I focused only on continuing to be consistent.  I gradually chased down a woman (who I think was the 2nd female).  I did catch her, but I didn't have a desire to battle with her.  I was already thrilled with my time and working hard enough.  I could've dug extra deep for a few more seconds, but I figured that there was no point.  They were talking about opening part of a road once I went through, so I knew I had a gap to anyone behind me.

The woman took off in the final tenth or so.  I continued my steady pace.  The third mile had dropped back down to a 6:07.  I was very consistent.  The one downside is that the course was long.  My watch read 3.15 miles by the end.  I'd rather it longer than shorter though.  I can live with that.

I didn't stop my watch right away, so I'm not quite sure on my time.  I stopped the watch at 19:17.  I think my time was actually a 19:15.  I was thrilled with the result.  I figured I could easily run a sub 20 and probably under 19:30.  I hoped I could run a time around 19:15, but wasn't sure if I'd be quite that fast.  It was an awesome way to cap off a great end of the year.  I introduced myself to Kathleen and told her how much it helped me to see her up ahead all race long.

After the race was fun too.  Although it was cold out, I got to chat with a bunch of friends after they finished.  I met Kristin, Karla and Melissa.  They were doing the mileage challenge group with me.  That ended today with me running just under 310 miles.  I got a cool BCR group photo in front of the Peeps' car.  Waiting around for the award ceremony was annoying and the award was just a small candy cane.  Oh well, I don't run for awards anyway.

Tomorrow, I'm not sure what I'm going to do.  I might go to the LVRR run.  It depends on how much football I want to watch.  I will run somewhere and sometime though.  I have the 50k coming on Saturday, but we might get snow.  If that happens, I'll either skip it or do less distance there, depending on how much falls.

5k by watch 3.15 miles - 19:17 (6:07 pace) 11th overall 3rd in age group

Monday, December 30, 2013

Going Over 300

I joined a challenge group.  The goal was to run 100 miles between November 25th and December 31st.  Of course, I knew I could do that, but I wanted to push myself further, much further.  Initially, I set the goal as 250 miles.  When I saw 300 miles was within reach, I readjusted and went for that.  After today's 10 miler, I'm over 305 miles with another day to go.

This challenge included my first 3 weeks of 70 miles or more.  I've never run that much.  Of course without the group I would've still run a lot, but I doubt it would've been this much.  I was also proud of the people in the group that went over 100 miles.  A few of them even went over 200 miles as well.

I changed things around this week after last night.  I have a 50k planned for Saturday.  I signed up for it way back when the Eagles were like 3-5.  I didn't think I would have to worry about having a playoff game.  Instead, we have one on Saturday night.  The 50k is in Northern New Jersey on Saturday morning.  I should be done in the afternoon and then I'll rush down to the stadium to tailgate and watch the game.  That could be interesting because I will certainly be sore after the race.  Hopefully it won't be as bad as my first 50k, where I cramped up several times while sitting around afterward.

I got out in the afternoon for this 10 miler.  It was that instead of the planned 15 miles.  I need to back off slightly this week.  I may run a 5k tomorrow anyway, so no need to overdo it today.

It was a typical, cold day.  I started at Mill Race Park and that was tricky.  That place is exposed to the elements and always has the most wind of anywhere on the trail.  I had on the usual clothing, including my fleece vest.  The headband and gloves went off and on throughout the run.  It was actually quite warm on the way out.

I held myself back early on, but my legs were feeling awesome.  Maybe that was the result of 2 shorter mileage days in a row.  I've typically been putting together back to back to back big mileage days and sometimes even a 4th long run in a row.  Then I rest and recover at the end of the week.

I cruised along.  There were a few people out.  Most were walking dogs.  I saw a young girl running and I think she had on an Easton Lacrosse sweatshirt.  She looked like a girl I saw running there when I was with Emily the other day.  If so, good for her.

Most of my early miles were a little over an 8 minute pace.  As the legs came around, it dropped under 8 minutes per mile.  I tried to focus only on small increments, since I had a long way to go.

I usually go out and back in several directions for runs like this.  Today, I wanted to go out 5 miles and run all the way back.  That meant crossing over and running on the Karl Stirner Arts Trail.  It also meant adding in some hills. 

As I hit miles 4 and then 5, I didn't feel all that great.  My legs seemed like they were getting weaker.  I also felt a little lightheaded at times.  I didn't eat much, so that may have been a factor.

I ran to the end of the Arts Trail.  That was the 5 mile point.  Coming back was tough because it is an early uphill.  The legs were struggling some.  I knew they'd carry me through the run, but it would take some work.  I was grateful that at least the trail was clear.  The only issue was that it was wet, but that is no problem.

At the near end of the Arts Trail, I came to a family.  The 2 kids were riding in Power Wheels.  That was cool and I joked that I need to get one of those.  They looked like they were having a blast.  It brought a smile to my face.

I really wanted to get to miles 7 and then 7.5.  The rest of the run would be manageable by then.  I did that and continued to cruise along.  I thought about different landmarks, like road crossings.  I went past Penn Pump Park with about 1.5 miles to go.

I wasn't working harder, but my pace was dropping and dropping.  I felt good that the end was near.  The last uphill to Mill Race Park was kind of challenging, but I made it.  The final 4 miles were all under 8 minutes and the last one was the fastest at 7:43.

It was good to get the run in and be over 300 miles for the challenge.  Now, I'm hoping to run that Peepsfest 5k tomorrow afternoon.  If I don't work, I'll be there.  If I do run that, I think I can break 20 minutes.  It looked like the top of the field was quite strong last year.  I also love the fact that it is a 1 PM race.  That is more of my element than morning runs are.  I'm hoping to run home from the race too.  That is another 8 miles.  Then, I'll rest more later in the week.

10 miles - 1:20:38 (8:04 pace)

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Very Rainy and Cold

There was group run scheduled at South Mountain in Emmaus today.  It would've been nice to get a trail run done.  However, I have a nail in my tire and my dad needed the other car to go to work.  Therefore, I had to run around my neighborhood.

I took my good old time in getting ready for the run and out the door.  I knew it was going to rain, but since I was only going to do a 7 mile run, I wasn't concerned.  I should have been, as it was worse than I anticipated.

I wore a new pair of tights.  I also had on a jacket over a ColdGear top and I wore my gloves too.  It actually would've been decent weather if not for the rain.  I had on a hat to block the rain from my head.  That was a life saver.

What made the weather tricky was that it was nice in two directions and freezing cold in the other two.  Most of the first half of the run was of the nice kind.  I knew it would be a good day from a pace standpoint when the opening mile was 8:18.  Usually, it is closer to 9 minutes flat.

I decided to mix in the somewhat short loop.  It actually isn't that short, as it is over a mile long I think.  This was when I first realized the run could be very cold at times.  At least I was changing directions very often.  Whenever I saw a car, I tried to be on the opposite side of the road as it.

I hammered away and the first 2 miles or so were actually kind of enjoyable.  I was still dry and moving well.  I knew that would change.  I was thrilled when I reached the 3.5 mile point.  Shortly after that, I saw my watch at 3.77.  I thought about how nice it would be when I got to miles 4.77, 5.77 and 6.77.  I happened to look at my watch at 4.77 too.  I missed the other 2 though.

I was thrilled to click off every mile.  Most of them were now under 7:45.  That last 2 were certainly the toughest both physically and mentally.  My clothes were finally soaked and I was running into the wind for the most part.  I could feel that my legs were getting very cold.  I had to just push through.  In hindsight, I probably should've worn shorts over the tights, but I was worrying that that might cause chafing.

I got back to the elementary school at 6.5 miles.  I was pretty happy with that.  It mean only a short loop around my neighborhood remaining.  I did that and finished up right past my house.  I needed that because I was cold and couldn't afford to walk very far to warm up.  All of my clothes were completely soaked.

My legs were bright red.  It is a good thing I didn't have a longer run planned.  I couldn't have run much more without changing my clothes today.  I pushed the limit of running in the cold rain.  Few things are worse than winter rain, but this was a shorter run and I was able to make the best of it.  It was a good way to start off what I hope is another busy week.

Tomorrow, I'm planning to run about 15 miles.  I'd like to try to run the last 5 at my goal marathon pace.  I need to start incorporating more marathon paced training into my runs, now that my endurance is so good.  I'm hoping that I don't have to work on New Year's Eve, so that I can run the Peepsfest 5k in the afternoon.  That will be a game time decision.

7 miles - 53:59 (7:43 pace)

Saturday, December 28, 2013

A Productive Saturday

I had a solid week, so I needed only 6 miles on Saturday to get to 70 for the week.  I considered the BCR group run, but I'm never consistent when it comes to going there.  I wasn't crazy about running through what I thought might be sloppy conditions at the Boat Launch.  I did set my alarm and wasn't actually tired when it went off, but I went back to sleep anyway.

I had a backup plan.  Emily wasn't planning on going either, so I suggested that we meet up to run later.  I met her and her dog at Mill Race Park at noon.  Both of us were running 6 miles, although she had a head start because she began at her home.

When I got out of the car, I realized that I didn't need my fleece and even with my normal winter gear, I was overdressed.  There was a little breeze and I got chilly standing there waiting for her, but I it was relatively warm.  It was still probably barely in the 40s, but that feels like paradise compared to what we've had all winter.  A lot of people were out walking and taking advantage of it.

When she arrived, we headed out to Tatamy.  Most of that path was clear, until we got to the stone section.  Then it was partially snow covered and sloppy.  We ran past the end of the path and over the bridge to a baseball field before turning around.  That first mile went rather quickly.

I was hoping to push myself today and Emily wanted to go easy.  We kind of met in between as we clicked off most of the miles around a 7:30 pace.  That pace didn't bother her dog.  I was also glad he didn't mind running with me this time.  Last time I tried to run with them, he tried to jump all over me during the run.

We were in a groove for a bit.  Then, the dog decided to stop and go to the bathroom.  Emily stopped and I slowed down, but kept running.  They eventually caught up.  He did the same thing 2 more times.  I felt bad for Emily having to run harder to catch me, so finally the last time, I ran ahead and then back to them.

We crossed the road at Penn Pump Park and went over the nearby footbridge.  We turned around right after that.  Time flew by for the rest of the run.  Emily let me run with the dog to see how fast he would be willing to run, but when I picked up the pace, he was more interested in trying to eat his leash.

They finished up and went back to her house.  I continued on for the final mile.  I decided to push it in the final .4 miles.  I ran quite hard on the uphill and finished with a 6:48 mile.  I was soaked by the end of the run and it was a good workout.

When I got home, I saw that my miles for the week added up to 69.99.  Being a numbers guy, that is the kind of thing that bothers me.  Therefore, when I got back after 3 basketball games, I went for a night run.  Maybe it was just me looking for another excuse to run.

This time, it was a bit colder after dark.  There was no wind though, so the 33 degrees didn't feel too bad.  It was after 10 PM.  I couldn't do a super short run, so I opted for 3 more easy miles.  The plan was to run a loop around my neighborhood, then go to the other neighborhood and maybe even run down at the school.

I went around my neighborhood quickly and felt good.  I had on my headlamp, but dark clothes, so I had to watch for cars.  I saw 2 on that first loop, but that ended up being it.

I wanted to go down the school, but I saw two cop cars in the parking lot.  Rather than run there and explain what I was doing or even get chased, I played it safe and stayed in my neighborhood.  It was another uneventful loop.  I looked at my watch fairly often.

After 2 loops and 2 miles were done in the neighborhood, I figured I might as well finish up there.  I ran one more easy, quick loop.  I decided to make it 3.01 miles long, so that I'd end the week on an even number.  Instead, I am now at 73.01 miles.  That is annoying, but at least I'm over 70 now.  That run also made this my longest week of running ever.

Tomorrow, I'm meeting Laurie and a bunch of people at South Mountain in Emmaus for a 10 AM trail run.  I don't go there often, so it should be fun.  It is supposed to rain a lot tomorrow, so the run could get muddy.  I don't mind though.  It should be a good way to start the week and maybe my legs will enjoy the softness of the trail.

AM run - 6 miles - 44:53 (7:29 pace)
PM run - 3.01 miles - 25:43 (8:33 pace)   

Friday, December 27, 2013

Early Friday Miles

After 22 miles on Christmas Day, I gave myself Thursday off.  It is actually amazing how well I am recovering though.  I was sore right after the 22 miler, but felt good yesterday.  I probably could've run 8 miles or so if I tried to.  That was after a big few days earlier in the week too.

Emily asked me if I wanted to do a Friday morning semi long run (a long run by her standards).  I hate mornings, but I enjoy running with others and particularly her.  We usually chat quite a bit and the run goes by in no time.

We wanted to run somewhere different, so we agreed to run at the Arts Quest Center by the old steel.  She never ran around there.  I haven't really been there much since I ended my group runs there.  She wanted to run 10 miles, I was hoping for 12.

I arrived a bit late and was glad that Emily had walked up right before me.  I didn't want her to have to wait in the cold.  It was cold as usual.  It was in the 20s again, but at least there was no wind.  I wore the regular attire, including the fleece vest.

We started out heading west and ran over the Hill to Hill Bridge.  It is nice to run through Main Street Bethlehem during the Christmas season.  One of the problems was that my regular group run route in this area was only about 4 miles.  We needed a lot of extra mileage.

I decided that we should do a fairly long out and back on Broad Street.  This was trickier than I anticipated.  It had a decent uphill that I didn't realize.  Also, due to the light snowfall yesterday, it was snowy and icy.  The footing wasn't great.  I think my trail running has helped me a lot in conditions like this.  It seems that I shorten my stride.

We ran past my old dentist.  I don't remember quite where we turned around, but it was at about 3 miles.  We were likely close to Allentown.  We had just run downhill before the turnaround, so now we were heading back uphill again.  Early on, I thought I'd struggle a lot with the run.  My legs didn't feel strong, but they came around as the miles went by.

The pace started to drop and we began clicking off miles in the low 8 minute range.  Not too challenging for me, but the hills did make it a little tricky.  When we got back to Main Street, we headed farther out, toward Moravian College.  That meant another uphill.

I was attacking the hills, like I often do.  I thought Emily might be struggling with them at this point because her breathing seemed labored, but that has happened before and she's been able to stick right with me.  With this uphill, we ran a 7:27 mile.  I couldn't believe how easy it felt for me.  I guess it is just me getting stronger.

Running through Moravian was nice.  I then decided we would head toward Liberty High School.  We weren't even at 6 miles at this point, but it seemed like we had run a lot more.  Running back into town, we encountered more hills.  Emily slipped back a little bit.  I tried to slow down, but didn't want to slow too much as I was in a groove.  We came to a couple red lights and that helped her recover.

I felt bad when I realized that we would have to run up the Minsi Trail Bridge.  That is steeper than you would think when you are riding in a car.  Emily felt back here too, but made it over.  There is just a fence on the side of you and it makes for a weird perspective with the river down below. 

We were only over 8 miles when we got near the starting location.  I wanted to run part of Lehigh's campus to add distance.  That meant another hill.  I'm sure Emily wasn't thrilled about it, but she didn't complain.  She made it up that hill too.  She is a tough cookie.  I give her a lot of credit.  I might've packed it in early today if I was feeling how she was.

We got back to steel area as we approached mile 10.  I planned it out pretty close to accurate.  We actually finished up at 10.25 miles.  She ran hard at the end and I decided to follow her.  I then kept going on my own.  I ran a shorter loop around the steel area to finish up with 12 miles.

It was a solid, productive day.  Most importantly, I had some good company to make the run easier.  I also left myself with only 6 miles to run tomorrow to hit 70 again for the week.  That would be 70 miles in 3 of the last 4 weeks.

I'm not sure yet what I'll do tomorrow.  I'm leaning toward the BCR outing.  That is if I can get up on time.  I didn't get much sleep last night.  I'm also kind of concerned about the trail conditions because they are running at the Boat Launch.  I may opt to run toward Riverview if I go to the run.

12 miles - 1:36:23 (8:02 pace)

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

A Christmas Day 22 Miles

I didn't get my long run in earlier in the week, so that was the plan for Christmas Day.  We don't have a lot of family plans, so I figured that it would work out.  After I ate lunch and my sister left, it was time for the run.  I got started around 2:30 PM.

I decided that I would start at Penn Pump Park and do the loop around Easton.  That would give me most of the miles for the run.  Then, I'd only have to add a short out and back to get to 20 miles.  I ran 20 miles about 3 weeks ago, so I was hoping to do it again.

The weather was bone chillingly cold.  It was in the upper 20s at best.  The nice thing was that there was no wind.  Without any sun though, it wasn't great.  I still wore a fleece vest over my ColdGear top.  I had long pants, a headband and gloves.  For the most part, I was comfortable, but at times I got cold.

I ran 15 miles on Monday and 10 yesterday.  I hoped for 20 miles, but I wasn't quite sure what my body would be able to handle.  I had to at least make it through a full loop.

I started off slow and the legs were tight.  Once they loosened up, I felt pretty good.  It wasn't long until I was at Hackett's Park and had an early tough climb.  That got me going too.  It was a good thing that there is a nice and long downhill right after that.

Then, I had some more climbing as I headed behind the bakery, Taco Bell and the old Dixie Cup factory.  Nothing was too bad though and I knew things would get better with some downhill after that.  Right near the bakery, there was a giant dead raccoon in the middle of the trail.  I later ran by a dead possum on the road.  My friend Kelley would freak out when she saw a dead mouse.  I can't imagine what seeing those would've done to her.

I hit mile 3 right before Easton High School.  I felt good, but it was hard to believe how far I had left to go.  Crossing the two roads on each side of the high school was difficult.  They are always busy.  Luckily, most of the rest of the road crossings aren't too bad.

I came across 2 people walking in the neighborhood section.  I saw few people out today, but not many.  The 2nd woman wished me a Merry Christmas and I returned the favor.  That lifted me up a little.

I don't enjoy out and back runs too much, particularly when they are long.  It is tough mentally when you retrace your steps.  This was nice because it was a loop and the scenery was constantly changing.  I could also break it down into segments and focus on a landmark a few miles down the road.

The section through the neighborhoods and to the Route 33 Boat Launch was great.  It had a lot of downhill and I was flying.  I went under 8 minutes for one of the miles.  I wasn't working hard either.  I was going easy.  I couldn't believe I was only at mile 8.

I ran toward Riverview and the legs continued to feel solid.  It was nice and comfortable from a temperature standpoint.  I took my headband off.  Later on, it stiffened up and froze in my pocket.  I was glad when I hit the 10 mile point.  It was hard to believe that I was only halfway done.

From this point on, I really focused on getting to Easton.  I brought money with me and planned to stop at Wawa and get a Gatorade.  Before long, I was in town.  Instead of waiting for the light to change at an intersection, I crossed the road and got a Gatorade at a gas station. 

Refueling was a much needed blessing.  I stopped my watch while in the store, but I was quickly back to running.  I didn't take much of a break.  I carried the Gatorade and drank it fairly quickly.  My pace continued to be fairly consistent.  I was cranking off miles right around an 8:20 pace.  I was in no hurry.  I ran under the free bridge and was over the 13 mile point.

I headed to the Karl Steiner Arts Trail.  This has a gradual uphill and I knew that it could be tricky.  It had some snow on it too.  When I hit mile 14, I was amazed with how well I felt.  I started to think about maybe adding a couple miles to the run.

I was through this trail in no time and took the road back to the Crayola Factory.  There was some uphill here, but it didn't bother me too much.  The unevenness of the road's shoulder did mess with my legs a little. 

Once I got back onto pavement, I felt a little better.  I was amazed at how good I felt through 16 miles.  I guess that is because I run 15 miles quite often.  I started to slip up slightly after 16 miles.  The legs began to fade.

I ran through the new section to Penn Pump Park.  I was very happy to be over 17 miles when I arrived back at my car.  I probably could've stopped for a drink, but I didn't bother.  I continued on.

By now, I was already planning on running out farther, to get 21 or 22 miles done.  I figured I should just concentrate on hitting 20 miles first.  I came through mile 18 slipping a bit, but still not too bad.

As I got close to Mill Race Park, the trail conditions changed.  There was a decent amount of snow on the trail.  I guess that area gets no sun and the snow didn't melt yet.  It was very runnable, but I had to be cautious.  It may have messed with my footing a bit.

I wanted to get out to 19 or even 19.5 miles before turning around.  I was startled by a deer.  It was right next to the trail and it was staring at me, not moving.  It was only about 12 feet away.  I'm not sure I've ever been that close to one.  If I was, it was in the woods and at least there were trees between us.  This one was out in the open.

I got past Mill Race Park and the snow got worse.  Somewhere around 19.1 miles, I turned around.  I figured when I got back to my car, it would be near mile 21.  It was starting to get dark.

As I approached mile 20, I started having issues.  It might've been the running in the snow, but whatever the cause, the outside of my left calf started to bother me.  I adjusted my stride and that combined with leaving the snow seemed to relieve the problem.  This issue did cause the pace to dip a lot in the final 2 miles.  After consistent sub 8:30 miles, each of the final 2 miles were over 10 minutes.

When I got near the road crossing by Penn Pump Park, I turned around.  I wanted some more distance.  I decided to run out until I encountered snow.  It was now dark and I couldn't read my watch without lighting it up.  I got to mile 21.

By now, it had become a struggle.  I had debated whether or not to stop at mile 21.  I talked to myself though and said that I would take tomorrow off if I ran to mile 22.  I kept at it.  I crossed over the road and did a short out and back on the other side of Penn Pump Park.

It was great to hit mile 22 and be done.  I exceeded my expectations for the day.  I felt better than I thought I would.  There was some soreness by the end, but it was manageable.  I'm definitely comfortable running up to 15 or 16 miles at this point.  I need more runs over 18 miles in length, to make that distance feel good as well.  The longer I can extend my endurance before soreness kicks in, the better.

Tomorrow may or may not be a rest day.  I got snowshoes for Christmas and if I can find somewhere far enough north that actually has snow, I might try going there and running in them.  It would likely be a short run.  Otherwise, I will rest tomorrow.  Emily and I were talking about a double digit run on Friday.  We shall see.  After 47 miles in 3 days and 52 miles in 4 days, I only have 18 more miles to go until I reach 70 for the week.  It looks like it will be another productive week.

22 miles - 3:10:09 (8:39 pace)

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Welcome Back Winter

What a difference a day makes.  Long gone are the nice temperatures of the last few days.  Now, we are back to below normal.  Today was absolutely brutal.  It was probably the worst day of the winter thus far and it has already been a bad year.

I rested most of the afternoon and got out around 4 PM.  The plan was 10 easy miles around the neighborhoods.  My car had a light go on for low tire pressure and I didn't feel like checking it out, so I had to run from home.  That worked out good because I could get back around dinner time too.

I wasn't sure what to wear at first, but I was sure glad with the choice I made.  I had on the fleece vest over top of my ColdGear top and long pants.  I had gloves and a headband on too.  At times, that wasn't even enough.

I headed out and began with a short loop in the neighborhood across from the school.  I saw two women walking and was impressed to see them 40 minutes later too.  Not many people are crazy enough to be out in the cold.  Come to think of it, I almost never see anyone running these neighborhoods in the winter.  Of course I do run at kind of weird times too.

Some of this part of the run was brutal with the wind in my face.  Going the other direction, it was calm and nearly perfect.  That was the theme of the run.  When it was nice, I didn't want to sweat too much, so I removed my headband.  It went on and off throughout the run.

As I headed toward the main loop, snow flurries began.  That was kind of pretty, but I was running into it, so I was freezing.  I ran out over another mile and then did another short loop that I like.  It is about a mile long too.  Things were working out good.  It looked like over half of the run would be done when I got back to the school.

I ran a lot last night, but the legs felt pretty good today.  It is amazing how well they seem to recover now.  They weren't strong and didn't feel fast, but the soreness I had was only minor.  My body is definitely getting used to the crazy demands I put on it.  Still, I do need to hit the trails again some time, to lessen the impact.

Coming back to the school was nice because the wind was mainly at my back.  However, I knew it would suck once I ran into the other neighborhood on the side of the school.  That would be brutal on the way out and better on the way back.  As I entered that neighborhood, I was at mile 6.  It seemed like a slow run, but the pace was typical.  Most miles were under 8:30.

I went out to the small industrial park and then came back.  I was around 8 miles when I headed for home.  I knew this would be the most difficult stretch.  It was a long hill with a strong headwind.  It was so hard to get through and some of the toughest conditions that I've run in in a long time.  It was also getting quite dark and I was dressed in dark clothes.  Luckily, that neighborhood is lightly traveled.

Turning the corner and heading back to the school was great.  I got back there and to the parking lot with .2 miles remaining.  I planned this route out perfectly.  It is good that I know a lot of these distances by now.  I looped around a small section of the lot a few times.  I needed the lights to see when my run was done.

I'm sure there will be a few days colder than this throughout winter, but this is about as close to the worst conditions possible that you can get.  It was great to get through the run.  I feel tougher after battling the cold and wind.  Suffering through these winter runs will make me so much stronger and make my spring racing awesome.

Tomorrow, I'm hoping for 15 to 20 more miles.  Someone from the BCR was talking about running in the morning.  It sure would be nice to have some company for my run (at least parts of it).  If that doesn't happen, then I'll be running on my own.  That would mostly likely happen in the afternoon, when my sister leaves after Christmas lunch.  I hope for a good holiday.

10 miles - 1:23:23 (8:20 pace)

Monday, December 23, 2013

Christmas Lights Run

I run around my neighborhood a lot at night.  This time of year, it is cool with all of the Christmas Lights.  I thought, why not get a group run together to look at lights.  I proposed the idea and got a few people out for the run this evening.  Jennie suggested we run around Nazareth and that seemed like a good idea with the town being well lit.

The plan was to meet up at 7 PM at the circle in town.  I wanted to get in some good mileage.  I thought about running earlier in the day.  Then, I decided that I would run a few miles before the run and a few miles after the run instead.  I got started around 6:20.  That meant that I would get less than 5 miles in.

The weather was beautiful yesterday, but this evening not as much.  It actually wasn't that cold for December.  It was in the mid 40s.  However, it was very windy and that made it feel much colder.  I didn't quite know what to wear.  I had to put on a jacket over a long sleeve top.  It was just too windy.  At times, I/we were in the wind and it was freezing.  Other times, the wind was gone and it felt warm.

I started off heading south past the YMCA.  I figured that I would run to the end of town and then head back up Broad Street and see where I was at.  It was a great start because I was going downhill.  The legs felt awesome.  I went almost the whole way to the end of town, but cut across through an industrial area.

Instead of running up Broad Street, I decided to explore some houses behind there.  I'm not even sure what road I was on, but I came out at Mitch's Market.  There were a couple nice houses in that area.  I then ran down to the high school.

As I was by Shafer Elementary School, I saw a guy running.  At the high school, I saw a woman on a bike.  I thought it might be Gayle, but it was too dark to tell.  When I got back to the circle later, she was there with her bike, so I knew it was her. 

I ran through the school parking lot and around some of the neighborhood off of the Mitchell Avenue parking lot.  There were some decent lights there too, but nothing too great.  I ran back to the school and back toward the circle.  There was some uphill now that was kind of tough.  I saw that I could get in 4.5 miles before the group was going to meet, so I ran around the circle to hit that point.

There was only 5 of us total for the run, but it was a fun time.  I had no idea where we were planning on running.  Plus, I was wearing dark clothes.  Even though I'm normally faster than the rest of the group, I let them lead the way.

One of the first cool houses we saw had lights hanging over a tree and you could actually run under it.  There were some beautiful houses that had more traditional lights.  They seemed to work.  We ran out toward the high school and then into that neighborhood behind it.  I guess that is called The Gardens.  I'm from Nazareth, but never actually knew that.

We crossed Route 191 after that and ran through that neighborhood.  We ran up Rose Inn Avenue, which is actually kind of a gradual climb.  I was disappointed to see that the Andretti houses didn't have many lights.  In that area, there was a nice house.  It was a beautiful house and they had a huge Santa on the roof.  The problem was that it was on the back of the house.  We couldn't see it too well.

We then left that area and ran back through town.  We ran by Moravian Hall Square.  I never realized how big that place is.  They had a nice set of caroler statues out.  After that, we had to stop by a baseball field.  Jennie and I both graduated from high school in 1999 and our class put a time capsule there.  Neither of us could remember what was in it.

After that, we ran to Elyssia's house/business.  She had a nice display in front of their business.  It was small little houses/businesses.  That was as neat as anything we saw on the tour.  She came out to chat with us and take our picture.  We were near the circle, so after a few minutes of chatting, we ran back there. 

Everyone else was done, but I had more miles to do and Gayle had to ride home.  I ran toward her house.  It was downhill and I had run easy for the tour, so I started to open it up a bit.  The tour was almost 5 miles, so I was happy to get that much distance in.  That meant I only had less than 6 miles of running left to get to 15 miles.

I ran back to the high school and through the one neighborhood next to it.  Gayle lives near there and left me at that point.  I wanted to avoid a basketball game that was getting out, so that was why I ran in the neighborhood.  I looped around the new middle school.  I head back toward the circle.

I got back into the main part of town with about 2.5 miles to go yet.  I headed west out of town.  I wanted to explore that area.  It turned out to be decent.  There were a few lights.  The Holy Family Club was busy.  This was a bit tough because it is so hilly around there.

After looping around those neighborhoods for some time, I headed back.  The final 2 miles were quite tough.  Running on a lot of concrete was starting to take its toll on my legs.  My hip was getting sore too.  I continued on though.  Eventually, I did a short loop around the main part of town and finished up with 15 total miles.

This was an awesome run.  It was great to be able to break the run up into 3 parts.  That made 15 miles much more bearable.  Seeing the lights and running with friends was excellent.  That segment was slow running, some walking and some stopping.  That gave me some super easy miles.  Then, I had enough left for the remainder of the run.  Maybe next year I can organize this more and make it bigger.  I'd have to find somewhere better to go to as well, since the lights of Nazareth weren't that great.  I feel like people don't decorate like they used to.

I'm hoping I can recover well.  I am quite sore right now.  If I can recover, I plan on a long run again.  I'm hoping I can run 20+ miles tomorrow.  That may be a little difficult.  I have been hitting the pavement a lot lately and at some point, I need to get back on to trails.  Now that rain and warm weather melted a lot of the snow, I'll probably do that again.  Maybe later in the week.

15 miles - 2:38:03 (10:32 pace)

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Super Warm Sunday

A week or so ago, it was below 20 degrees.  Now, today it climbed into the 60s.  It was almost too warm actually.  I headed out for a short Sunday afternoon run of 5 miles.  I came back from the first LVRR Ice Scraper Series race (which I took photos) and went for a run around my neighborhoods.

I headed out with shorts and short sleeves.  It was very foggy and there was a lot of moisture in the air.  I was soaked by the end of the run.  It was kind of challenging.

I decided to run the big loop in the other neighborhoods.  I knew that was around 5 miles in length.  There are a few semi difficult hills, but it is fun. 

My legs weren't sharp at all after 2 runs on Saturday.  They seemed a little beat up for this easy run.  I plugged along and didn't worry about times.  It was so relaxing running in the great weather.  The run flew by.

The air was so muggy that it actually made breathing difficult at times.  Visibility could be tough too, so I was glad I was on quiet neighborhood streets.  The weird thing is that at the top of a hill the temperature was like 10 to 20 degrees different from the bottom.

My legs got better as the run wore on, but they were never great.  I was thrilled to be done because I was sweating by the end of it.  It was good to get some miles in to start the week.  Even without much effort, I ran mostly sub 8 minute miles.

Tomorrow, I'm hoping to run twice.  I'll probably do an afternoon run of double digits.  Then at night, it looks like we are doing a Christmas Lights run in Nazareth.  That should be a fun and easy group outing.  I look forward to it.

5 miles - 39:34 (7:55 pace)

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Outstanding Weather, Outstanding Runs

The weather early on this winter has been absolutely awful.  At least for this weekend, we are having good weather.  Today, it was in the mid to upper 40s and nearly ideal running weather.  My plan was for a pair of runs.  I slept in because I was overworked the last few days.

Finally, around 11:30 in the morning, I started off for a run.  I didn't have a lot of time, so I ran around the neighborhoods near my house.  I didn't have much of a game plan on the route.  I made it up as I went along.

With the nice weather, I walked outside with shorst and a long sleeve shirt on.  Immediately, I knew I was overdressed.  I went back inside for a short sleeve shirt.  I couldn't believe how awesome it was outside.

I ran over in the other neighborhood to start.  I began by doing a short loop that I often run.  I felt good and the first mile was a fast 8:16.  It usually takes me a bit to get warmed up.  I decided to run through a section that I don't normally go on.  This had some hills to it.  It wasn't bad though because I was going easy.

I then got back to the main area.  My legs felt awesome and I seemed like I was running so fast.  I felt so much more freedom with less clothing on.  I began enjoying myself so much that I almost forgot about my times and splits and stuff like that.  I didn't check my watch.

I ran around another loop that I use sometimes, but not too often.  Miles 2 and 3 went down to a 7:40 and 7:33 pace.  I wasn't putting forth much effort either.  It was simply amazing what I was able to do.  I did find one thing funny.  I was listening to Blind Melon's "No Rain" before the run and of course it started to drizzle during the run.

I went around through a short loop in another neighborhood.  This had a hill as did a section later on.  I think these eventually took their toll, but at the time, I went over them like they were nothing.  I was flying and feeling good.  Running well can put you on such a high.

During those first 3 miles, the legs were a little sore and tight.  After 3 miles, they really loosened up and my pace dropped even more.  From that point on, I was super consistent.  I ran every remaining mile under 7:20.

I got back to where I would normally head back to the school.  I still had a good mile and a half to go.  Therefore, I went around the first loop again.  Before I knew it, I was back at the school.  I had about a mile left, so I looped around my neighborhood to finish up.  Even with the legs falling a bit, I ended with a 7:17 mile.

I had 37 miles for the week after that run.  Really, there was no point in running more.  However, I love getting to round numbers, like 40 miles and I also like running at night.  I went to the BCR Christmas Party in the evening and that was fun.  I got back after 10 and went out to run 3 more neighborhood miles.

It is a nice night out.  I like that the snow is still around and the Christmas Lights everywhere make things so festive.  It is a fun time to run in the dark.

Normally, I would run some loops at the school or in the other neighborhood.  This time, I decided on 2 loops around my own neighborhood.  Then, most of the run would be out of the way.  Each loop is nearly a mile.

The run was nice and peaceful.  I rarely encountered any cars.  All I needed was a lightweight long sleeve shirt to go with my shorts.  I'd take this weather any day.  The 2 loops went by quickly.  I let my mind wander and it was relaxing.  I didn't even think about looking at my watch.

After the 2 loops, I headed down to the school.  I figured that I would loop around the parking lot.  I did that twice and already became bored.  I had over half a mile to go yet to finish up.  I ran the shorter loop in my neighborhood again and finished up right next to my house.

It was a good day and a fun pair of runs.  I was so amazed at what a difference the weather made.  An effort that was an 8:15 pace last week was a 7:23 pace today.  That pace includes 3 slower miles as well.

Tomorrow will  be another easy 5 miler.  It should be warm again too.  I know it is supposed to rain a lot as well.  I have to run and take photos for the LVRR Ice Scrapper Series.  It should a fun day before the Eagles big night game.  Next week, I hope to get back on track and run 70 miles again. 

Morning Run 10 miles - 1:13:53 (7:23 pace)
Night Run 3 miles - 26:31 (8:51 pace)

Friday, December 20, 2013

Finally Something

Today and yesterday were among my busiest work days ever.  Basically, I worked 23 hours in a 34 hour period.  I had few breaks and little time to even sleep.  If would've brought my shoes to work, I might've been able to sneak in a few miles, but that would've been it.  I had no other time to run.

Even though I'm dead tired, I still had to get a run in tonight after I was finally done with work.  In the challenge that I'm doing, I'm at 199 miles.  I naturally wanted to get over 200, so I decided on a short run.  I figured it would be around the neighborhood and only 3 miles.

The weather was great for a winter night.  It was still in the low 40s.  I wore shorts and a jacket over a short sleeve shirt.  The legs were slightly chilled by the end, but not too bad.  With the snow and Christmas Lights visibility was good as well.

I planned to start out at my house, but then run loops in the school parking lot.  That is because I had on black clothes and that would be dangerous on the street.  I ran a short out and back on my street to gain some extra distance before heading over to the school.

As I started at the school lot, I looked down and saw that it was only .4 miles into the run.  I ran one loop there and got tired of it.  I didn't want to run 9 more to complete the run, so I went to the other neighborhood on the other side of the school. 

I figured that I would run the short circle around it.  I did that once and looked at my watch and it was only 1.61 miles.  These short runs sometimes feel like they take forever.  I was starting to get lightheaded.  Clearly, my overall tiredness was really starting to kick in.  I couldn't do much more than 3 miles on this evening.

Not only did I do the loop, but I ran out and back on a connector road.  I went out until I hit mile 2.  Both of the first 2 miles were run at 9:00.  I started a second loop here and a dog was barking at me.  I was glad he was gone when I passed by him later.

After that loop, I ran back to the school and wanted to finish up in the parking lot.  I had to do that because I didn't take a headlamp and that was the only place I could see at.  I ran a few of the shorter parking lot loops to finish up with 3 miles and go over 200 miles for the challenge.  It is good to be that far.  I'm hoping I can hit 300 miles by the end of the year.

Tomorrow, I'm looking to get my miles back on track.  I think where the BCR is going to meet is going to be sloppy.  Therefore, I'm probably going to run on my own.  I also need to sleep in.  I'd love to run 15 miles.  Whether that is 15 miles straight or 10 miles and 5 miles later, I don't actually care.

3 miles - 26:33 (8:51 pace)

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

No Idea How I Did That

It snowed a few inches yesterday, but all the roads were clear by today.  I had a morning order at work and I have a night one later on.  I had plenty of time to get in an afternoon long run.  The plan was for 15 miles.  I figured that the D&L section between Riverview and Easton would be cleared, as it has been so far this winter.  I also thought I might be able to go from Riverview to the Boat Launch without too many problems.  I was in for quite a surprise.

It warmed up a bit today and actually hit the 30s.  I think it was just above freezing when I started the run.  I wore my jacket over my ColdGear top.  I figured that probably didn't need that much, but it was a bit chilly and I knew it would get worse as the sun went down (the run started after 3 PM).  I had on a headband and gloves.  I wore the headband for most of the run, but gloves were off rather early.

I wanted to go out pretty far away from Riverview and toward the Rout 33 Boat Launch.  I figured that if the trail was cleared, I'd continue on up to the Palmer Bike Path.  Then, I could get a solid 4 miles each way in that direction.

The section between Riverview and the Boat Launch was plowed.  However, it wasn't completely clear.  It was a mixture of pavement, snow and ice.  It was quite tricky at times.  With a lot of rest lately, the legs felt awesome in the beginning and I was absolutely flying without much effort.  The first 2 miles on the way out were just over 8 minutes long and after that, I got even faster.

The trail did get worse as I closed in on the Boat Launch.  When I got there, I started up the hill toward the Palmer Bike Path.  This was even worse and more icy.  Plus, it was uphill, so that made it extra tricky.  I was surprised it was even plowed.  I sputtered up the hill until I hit mile 2.  That was enough.  Running 4 miles total in this section would have to do.  I saw a lady cross country skiing next to the trail.  That looked like fun, although she was barely moving.

I ended up running miles 3 and 4 at under an 8 minute pace.  That 4th mile was even a 7:43.  I couldn't believe it.  Things slowed dramatically after that.  I headed out in the other direction and the short section before Hugh Moore Park wasn't plowed at all.  I could've used snowshoes for this part.  I struggled along, but managed to get through.  It slowed my pace though and took a lot out of my legs.  I continued to run much slower from that point on.

I don't usually run in Hugh Moore Park when I run here, so today I thought I'd give it a try.  The National Canal Museum is located there.  It is a long parking lot.  It was clear of snow and there was little traffic.  It was ideal.  The out and back route was a little over a mile long. 

After that, I figured I would run the D&L all the way to Easton.  After all, this section had been plowed after every other snowfall.  For some reason, they didn't touch it after yesterday.  It had about an inch or two on the surface.  That made it runnable, but slow and tricky.  Snow like this seems to really bother my feet and legs.  Maybe it is the uneven surface.

I passed a guy walking his dog.  The dog came up to me and I guess wanted to play.  It was well behaved, but I guess I should be more cautious of dogs without leashes, especially in more remote areas.  I didn't go very far out on this stretch before heading back.

I got back to Hugh Moore Park at about the planned halfway point of 7.5 miles.  I was already exhausted and the legs were beat.  By now, I was doubting that I'd do the mileage that I wanted to.  Since Hugh Moore Park was clear, I decided on another loop around there.  I figured I could run on the other side of the river then and get in around 11 miles.

After the first loop, I thought I might as well do a second one too.  That put me near 10 miles when I was done with that section.  I ran on the road back to Riverview this time.  That is tricky with no shoulder and narrow lanes.  It was a better option than the snow covered trail though.

I got back to Riverview at 10.4 miles.  I was so tired and thought I would only do a short out and back to get to 11 miles.  I had not had a drink and in fact I didn't eat or drink anything on the entire run.  I felt good when I got back on the pavement at Riverview.  I kept going and going.  I got out over a mile before turning around.

I passed a guy and he mumbled something to me.  I now was nearing 12 miles and figured I would get in more.  I thought I needed 14 miles to get to 200 for this challenge I'm doing.  It turns out I came up a mile short today.  I got to Riverview over 12 miles into the run.

I wanted to keep going, so I went back on the road and back over to Hugh Moore Park.  I figured by the time I'd get there, I'd hit 13 miles.  I then could gut out 2 loops over there and walk back.

I had to stop and stand on a snowbank along the road as some cars passed.  At least I didn't fall in the snow.  I got to Hugh Moore and was slightly over 13 miles.  I headed out around the parking lot.  There is a loop near the museum.  I ran it not once, but twice.

I was over 14 miles and approaching 15 miles as I crossed the bridge.  It was getting dark, so I decided to take the tough, snow covered route for the final .2 miles.  That was a real challenge, but I made it.  I still had to walk back through the snow and then I nearly fell on some ice while walking.  I run all over ice with few problems and walking nearly does me in.

It was great to have a productive run.  I got all the miles I was looking for, even though the conditions were tough.  My pace slowed and my body was beat up by the end, but I made it through.  I'm glad too because I don't know if I'll be able to run tomorrow with how busy I'll be at work.  I certainly need 1 mile anyway to reach 200 for the challenge.  How fitting will it be to do that on my birthday?  If I'm lucky, I'll get in 5 miles.  I hope I can find time for a few more on Friday, but I know I'm busy then too.

15 miles - 2:07:37 (8:31 pace)

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Tough Day, Great Run

It was a long day driving two orders to the Poconos for work.  The morning one was a real pain because it was snowing.  I knew running in the snow after it would be a mess, so I got very frustrated.  I thought this might be my second zero day in a row, as I was busy for work on Monday too and missed running with Tom later on.

Finally, the snow cleared up late in the afternoon and I got out there.  I wasn't going to be able to do the mileage that I wanted to, but I needed a run, any run.  I decided to run the snow covered roads in the neighborhoods around here.

As usual, the weather was crap.  It seems like it never gets out of the 20s anymore.  I had the usual gear plus my fleece vest.  I've also started throwing shorts over my long pants for an added layer of protect.

I saw my neighbor walking her dog in the beginning and a lot people were out shoveling.  I started with a loop around my neighborhood.  One guy down the street joked with me that I should help him shovel for the exercise. 

After the mile loop, I headed across the highway from the school.  I decided on a short loop to get some distance.  This is a newer section of the neighborhood.  I was very grateful to find a strip of clear road amongst the snow.  The strip seemed to go on pretty long too.  I was thankful for that.  The snowy parts of the road were very slippery.

I was debating whether or not to do this short loop.  Instead, I went out and back on a nearby section.  That is because this had a clear strip.  I got out to mile 2.5.  It was good to be halfway done.  I even went uphill, but didn't mind because I wasn't slipping and sliding.  I saw why this was clear though as several cars drove by me.

By the time I got back to the school, I was over 3.5 miles.  I thought about going in a different neighborhood, but would've had to pass a guy walking his dog.  I did a couple short loops around the school playground, because it was plowed.  That got boring quickly.

I ran a partial loop around my neighborhood and then another smaller loop to finish up.  Even though I didn't accomplish much in the run, it allowed me to recharge and get ready for the remainder of the day.  I thought of those Snickers "you're not you when you're hungry" commercials.  That was so me today, only replace hunger with running.  I was bitching to a friend right before the run.

Tomorrow I have morning and night orders again.  Hopefully I'll have more free time and can run longer in the afternoon.  I'd like to do 15 miles.  I guess I won't be doing as much as I hoped because work is so busy this week.  Instead, I'll use this as a cutback week.  It really isn't a bad idea after 2 weeks of 70 miles each.

5 miles - 41:47 (8:21 pace)

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Sunday Short Run

I was debating whether to run or take off today.  Sunday is sometimes my off day.  Other times, I'll make it my easy day.  Since I took off on Wednesday, I decided on a short run.  The plan was a mere 4 miles.  At least that would kick start a new week with something.  Then I wouldn't have to chase miles later in the week.

I was debating about where to run.  I wasn't sure what would be plowed and what wouldn't.  I also didn't want to drive for a short run.  Instead, I decided to run in the neighborhoods around my house.

The weather was kind of tricky.  It was in the 30s with a bit of a breeze.  In one direction it was warm.  In the other, it was cold.  I wore a jacket over my top.  I had on gloves, but took my headband off early.

It was so warm by the time I started that the roads were just wet.  I ran from my house down to the school and to the other neighborhood on the side of the school.  I timed it right as they were plowing the school when I went through.  They had a path cleared to the other neighborhood.  I was happy.

I was a little sore after yesterday, but not too bad.  The legs did feel kind of fast early on.  I cruised along though.  I definitely didn't want to push it at all.  Some people were out shoveling, but it was good to be done with that.

I climbed up a gradual hill and hit mile 1.  This was into the cold and that made it tough.  I figured that at least it would be warm on the way back.  Then, I turned and went downhill.  That was much warmer.

This road goes to the industrial park.  It was very sloppy, so I'm glad only a few cars went by.  Even so, one of them almost splashed me from across the road.  I turned down the road as I usually do and I got to the end of it and turned back around.  That was right at mile 2.

Coming back uphill and into the wind was tough.  That was the sloppy part of the road too.  It was very windy at the top.  I was glad when I finally finished that section.  I then turned again.

As I was headed downhill through the neighborhood, I heard a loud noise.  It was quite amazing.  I had seen hundreds, maybe thousands of white snow geese in a field next to the road.  Now, hundreds of them were taking off.  That was cool and I was glad they weren't flying over me.  Who would've known if I would've been crapped on.

Going downhill for the final mile was nice, as was having no more wind.  I went to the school and then finished up with a short partial loop around my neighborhood.  It was good to be done and nice to not have to run far or through snow.  All in all, it was a good weekend.

I'm definitely doing a long run of some kind tomorrow.  I'd like to do 20 miles, but that might depend on how my legs feel.  I want to run at least 15.  I'm not sure where to run either, as I don't know what trails will be cleared and which ones won't.  I may have to drive around and try to figure it out. 

4 miles - 33:14 (8:19 pace)

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Christmas City Classic 5 Miler and Snow Run

I don't often run the popular local road races, so I'm not used to running a race that a lot of my friends are doing.  Since I've been running so well lately, I decided to sign up for the Christmas City Classic 5 Miler.  That is a race a lot of people do and I ran into so many of them before, during and after the race.  It was awesome to have such a great support system there.

I ran a warmup mile and didn't feel all that great.  It wasn't surprising considering I had already put 58 miles in for the week.  I ran a 6:30 pace for last week's unofficial 5k, so my goal was a sub 6:40 pace for this 5 miler.  I figured that that was realistic on a hilly course on a cold morning.

Speaking of the weather, it was in the 20s again.  That seems to be the norm now.  The forecast called for a lot of snow later on, but it was clear at the start.  I wasn't quite sure what to wear for the race.  I went with long pants, a ColdGear top and my gloves and headband.  I figured I might be too hot with the last two items, but I could always stash them away if needed.

I lined up on the far end in the front row.  The starting line is quite wide, as the entire road is closed.  I wanted to start here because it looked like the course turned there not too far up ahead and I could be on the inside lane.  My friend Karl saw me in line and we chatted.  He asked my predicted pace and said he might try to hang with me for awhile.  I welcomed some company.

We started off and I took off.  I usually don't worry about pace in the first half mile.  I typically run on feel and how the race dictates.  That often leads to a fast first mile.  It does get the legs going though.  Karl ran ahead of me early and with me for a short time, but the pace was too much for him.  He probably could've hung with me if I ran the pace I told him I wanted to (6:40).  Instead, I ended up going out at a 6:14 opening mile.  I would've liked to have been slightly slower, but I didn't feel as though I was working too hard.

I was thrown off in the beginning, but then I realized that I read the course map backward.  Once I figured that out, I was good.  I got passed by a few people early in the race.  Going up Main Street, I saw another friend, Jerry, go by me.  It would've been nice to run with him, since we are around the same pace, but I had to be smart early on.

I got into a groove.  For awhile I became a bit frustrated because there was no one close to me or behind me and I couldn't seem to hang with the women in front of me.  Running alone is the worst thing at these races.  I was only about a mile and a half in at that point.

When we got near Sand Island, we became sprinkled in with the 5k runners.  That was slightly annoying because it was the slower runners.  They didn't get in the way too much though and weren't a huge problem.  The out and back on Sand Island was very helpful.  I was able to see quite a few friends that were behind me and that was a huge boost.  It kept me going strong, even though I felt like I was slipping.  Running out on Sand Island had been tough because it started to snow and the snow was blowing in our faces.

My overall pace at the halfway point had slipped to about 6:30, but I was fine with that.  I had closed the gap on the women in front of me and that helped.  I ended up passing both of them on the uphill to the Fahy Bridge.  I then saw Jerry up ahead.  I was slowly gaining on him.

I was starting to tire and I knew there were some hills left, so I didn't want to overdo it.  Seeing Jerry within striking distance definitely helped.  I took advantage of the downhill on the bridge while I could.  I was running the downhill and flat portions fairly well.

We went back up the bridge and I caught and passed Jerry about midway across.  I said hello and continued on.  He was still doing well and I could hear him not too far behind me.  I usually have a killer sprint, so I figured I could do that if I needed to stay ahead of him or pass anyone else that was in front of me.

After the bridge, we had a steep hill to climb.  I was breathing so heavily now.  I was a basically moaning as I passed slower 5k people.  Getting up the hill seemed so slow and I was struggling bad.  I was wondering if Jerry might get me on the hill, but I guess he had at least as much trouble with it as I did.

I was happy to see my pace was still around a 6:36 as I completed mile 4.  We had a nice and flat recovery section after the hill and that was a huge help.  I kept pushing and pushing.  We then went around a turn and up a short hill.  I saw two friends, Bob and Chris in this area.  They cheered me on and helped me finish strong.

I actually didn't realize how close the finish was to the last turn.  If I knew that, I would've pushed even harder.  I sprinted and started catching the guy in front of me, but he was an older guy and I didn't want to go into an all out sprint to pass him.  I was running hard enough as it was, so I finished up right behind him.

I stopped my watch and was surprised to see it was a 32:20.  That was under my top goal of 32:30.  The problem is that my watch only said 4.92 miles and a 6:34 pace, not a 6:30 pace.  Regardless, I'll take it and was thrilled.  It just would've been nice if the course was accurate or perhaps even longer.

I slightly exceeded expectations and ran very well.  I ran nearly as hard as I could.  I maybe didn't dig real deep to get that extra little bit, but I definitely gave a huge effort and am satisfied.  My breathing labored some in the cold, but wasn't too bad.  I ran this race back in 1999 and crushed that time.  Any time I can beat a time posted by myself at 18 years old, I'm thrilled.

I hung around after the run and chatted and then got warm inside the YMCA.  It was a great run and a fun day all around.  I can't complain about a thing.  It was pretty much perfect.

I still had a little over 6 miles to go to hit my goal of 70 miles for the week.  That meant an easy afternoon run.  I didn't feel too sore from the race and my legs seemed well recovered.  I was thrilled that it had started to snow.  I wanted a fun snow run.

I headed out to Riverview Park around 1:30 in the afternoon.  I made sure to take my GoPro for this scenic run.  I thought about going out and back in each direction.  Initially, I was going to run toward the Boat Launch, but I thought I heard an all terrain vehicle on the path.  I did see tire tracks in the snow there earlier in the week.

Instead, I went the other direction, as I have been doing all week.  I've been getting tired of this route, but it is so beautiful in the snow.  I knew I'd enjoy it and get some good photos. 

I wore the same type of attire as the race, except I added the fleece vest.  I had a fresh headband, but my gloves were still wet from the race.  That made for a cold finger when I was taking photos early on.  It was cold initially, but warmed up after some time.

I got plenty of awesome pictures as well as a video.  The snow was tough on the way out.  It was blowing in my face and I couldn't see too well.  I knew coming back would be much better and it wouldn't be as cold.  The canal was cool, but even neater was that I saw a group of ducks swimming in it.  I got some photos, but they didn't turn out that great.

I headed out to Easton.  I didn't want to cross the river, so I turned around when the normal trail ended.  I was at 2.75 miles.  It was a little farther than I wanted, but it meant I wouldn't have to do as much coming back.  On the way back, it was much nicer, although I did hit a stretch or two where the wind was blowing snow on me.

I saw a train go by across the canal.  I didn't really get any good photos of it though.  I got some cool ones of the bridge that I ran over.  I got back to Riverview Park and had less than .4 miles to go.  I ran a short out and back toward the Boat Launch to finish up.

The legs felt pretty good throughout the run.  I'm a little sore now, but not too bad.  When I took my headband off, it nearly stuck to my head.  I realized that my hair was now frozen.  That was interesting and I don't recall it ever happening before.

This second run was another fun run.  It was an amazing day all around.  I got to sit by the fire after all the running and having the big week done.  I might try to get a short, easy run tomorrow.  It will still be snow covered and might be icy.  I don't want to do too much.  I'd like to have a long run on Monday.

Warmup 1 mile - 9:25 (9:25 pace)
Race 4.92 miles - 32:20 (6:34 pace)
Snow Run 6.1 miles - 52:49 (8:40 pace)

Friday, December 13, 2013

Fighting Some More Cold

It has been so brutally cold lately.  I think it actually warmed up for my run today and might've hit 30 degrees.  It's so, so hard to get out there alone and run in that.  I was laying in bed trying to talk myself out of it.  Instead, I thought about where I was at 2 years ago.  I was in a hospital bed, in pain, not sleeping and depressed.  I took pain medication when I could and it was as much for depression as the actual pain.

I try not to think about that time too often, but it does help if I need motivation.  Sometimes, I forget how lucky I am to be able to be healthy and run.  I need to take advantage of it while I can.  After thinking about 2 years ago, I popped right out of bed, got changed and headed for the door.

I don't want to mess around with uneven surfaces, so I played it safe and headed to Riverview again.  I am starting to get sick of this route by now, but at least I know it is clear.  I was hoping I could run 12 miles, but even 10 would've been fine.

I started off heading toward Easton as usual.  It was a slow start as the body warmed up.  I had on my fleece vest to go along with the usual running gear.  Actually, heading in this direction, the wind must've been at my back.  It was warm and my headband came off quickly.

I cruised along at a comfortable pace.  I tried to focus on how lucky I am to run and that helped a little.  I still wasn't enjoying the conditions and after a busy week, my body wasn't feeling all that great either.  The top of my foot bothered me early on, until I was able to adjust to running.  The legs were only mildly sore, but they weren't sharp.

I headed out to Easton and came through the same route as the last few days.  I wanted more mileage this time, so I decided to keep going past the amphitheater.  I continued toward the arts trail.  I looped around a building and turned around when I hit 4 miles.  I figured that getting 8 miles done on this segment would be good enough.

Then, not long after that, I got to a hill that leads to Lafayette College.  I thought, why not run up it.  I went up and it was a little tough.  It was slow though and actually not as bad as I thought it might be.  It had a nice view from the top onto downtown Easton.

I came back down and started to feel some wind.  It was nice to get a little extra distance in before heading back.  It was difficult when I hit miles 5 and 6 and realized that I still had half of the run left.

I plugged away at it.  I just tried to focus on the next mile or two.  The legs weren't enjoying in though.  Around mile 7, my IT band started acting up.  I have to make sure to be cautious with that.  At least I've had problems in the past, so I know my limit when it comes to that.

I got back to Riverview at 8.6 miles.  I knew I had to head in the other direction.  I had been going into a headwind and couldn't wait to turn around.  Unfortunately, I still had over a mile to go until that point. 

The section between Riverview and the Boat Launch was much more clear than when Emily and I ran it yesterday morning.  However, it still had plenty of icy spots and I had to be cautious.  It seemed like forever until I got to my turn around point.  I wanted it to be mile 10.3, but it was getting too icy, so I turned around at 9.95.

I headed back and it was still a slow go.  I was struggling and trying to focus on small increments.  The legs were dieing.  I was thrilled to finally get to mile 11 and only have 1 more mile to go.  I did a short out and back at one point to get some more distance.  It wound up being perfect as right at the end of the path, I hit mile 12.

It was a tough run and tough to get started, but it was rewarding to be done.  I needed the mileage.  I'm now at 58 miles for the week.  I'm running the Christmas City Classic tomorrow.  That's a 5 miler, so I need 7 other miles as well.  It could be tricky because we are supposed to get hammered with snow.  It's cool because I ran that race back in 1999.  There aren't many races that are still around from then.  With the weather being crappy, I probably won't run all out.  It should be a hard workout though.

12 miles - 1:40:22 (8:22 pace)

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Dashing Through the Ice

I hurt my foot after Tuesday night's run because had on socks that were too thick.  The top of my right foot was bothering me.  Therefore, I took Wednesday off to rest.  The foot seemed better this morning. 

Emily had messaged me to see if I wanted to run this morning.  That was perfect, because I sure as heck wasn't getting out there early by myself.  She hasn't run double digit miles since the Philly Marathon and wanted to run 10 miles today. 

We agreed to meet up at Riverview Park at 7:30.  I would've liked to have gone later, but I couldn't do so with the potential for work.  This weather has been so crazy.  When we started, it was 19 degrees with a windchill in single digits.  I wore my usual winter gear, plus a fleece vest.

I suggested meeting there because I knew that the trail was cleared between Hugh Moore Park and Easton.  Emily suggested we start by running to the Boat Launch.  That area had been plowed, but it was plowed too late.  It was clear in some spots, but very icy in others.

It was an interesting and very slow start for us.  We were all over the trail, trying to find good footing.  The snow on the sides was often the best option.  Your foot would slide out from under you all the time.  We slipped, but neither of us fell.

The section near the Boat Launch was the worst.  We turned around and headed back.  It took forever.  Even conversation couldn't seem to speed things up.

It was great to get back to Riverview, especially knowing that the next section would be better.  From Riverview, it was snowy and slippery until we crossed over to the other side of the river.  That was a short distance though.  The trail was clear from that point.  Emily went ahead of me and for a minute, I thought she might fly ahead or really push the pace.  Instead, I ended up slightly ahead and controlling the pace a little more.

It was nice and easy.  It was cold, but it was also now fun because we didn't have to worry about slipping and falling.  I had been very worried about my foot acting up, but I had no problems.  I was rested, so the legs weren't sore either.

Some of these middle miles just seemed to drag on forever.  I couldn't wait until we hit miles 7 and 8.  As we headed toward Easton, there was an interesting sidewalk section.  It was still covered in ice.  It had been walked over, so it was very uneven.  It was definitely slippery, but it didn't bother me too much.  I noticed Emily fell behind and I had to look back to make sure she was still coming.

We ran out under the free bridge and to the amphitheater.  We turned around there and headed back.  I believe we were over 7 miles into the run at that point.  It was great to turn around.

Going back seemed much quicker than heading out was.  Before I knew it, it was mile 8.  Again, I had flown over the tricky part.  It must've been all my trail running that caused me to cruise over the ice.

Most of the miles in this latter half of the run were around an 8 minute pace.  It was solid.  We didn't quite have things measured out right.  We ended up hitting mile 10 before crossing the river.  We walked the short distance back to the river on the road.

It was great to get the run out of the way early.  I loved the company, as I always do.  It makes the miles go quicker.  It is really the only way I'll probably ever run mornings.  It was also great to battle and defeat the cold.  It is crazy weather we are having right now.  It's like February weather already.  The coldest days of winter are typically like this.

I took a nap in the early afternoon.  My foot started to get sore.  I guess maybe it was simply the position I had it resting in.  I was going to take a few days off, but then I walked on it and it felt fine.  I decided to head out for the second run after all.

This run was on my own.  I didn't want to travel anywhere, so I went in the neighborhoods around my house.  I figured I would only do an easy 5 miler.

The temperature was a few degrees warmer than in the morning, but not much.  It was still ice cold and actually it seemed like the wind picked up and it felt even colder than the morning run.  Heading west was freezing, but running east did feel nice.  I wore the same type of attire as earlier.

The plan was to run the one mile loop around my neighborhood.  Then, I'd run the Blue Eagle 5k course and finish up with some short distance around my neighborhood again.  Nothing too difficult.

The foot was slightly sore at the beginning, but it adjusted quickly and I felt good.  At the end of the run, I had some mild soreness on my legs, but overall it wasn't too bad.  The run itself was quite boring and uneventful.  It was just cold and not much else was happening.  I did tune out at times and the run seemed to go by quicker when I was with my thoughts.

Before I knew it, I was back to the neighborhood.  That pace had started slow, but it was the typical around 8 minute pace that I usually run by the end.  I did a shorter loop around my neighborhood and was done.

It was good to be able to run again and not have foot problems.  I would've liked a few more miles today, but I'll take it.  Tomorrow, I'll have to put in a solid run.  I'm thinking it will be 12 miles.  I don't want to do much more or run twice because I do have a race scheduled for Saturday morning.  I'll probably run again after that, to end my week.  I'm now up to 46 miles for this week.

Today was the two year anniversary of my bowel resection surgery.  It got me back to good health and maybe saved my life.  Even though I was initially depressed after it, I'm very grateful now.  It has given me great opportunities and I just try to get the most I can out of running and life in general.

I decided a month ago that I needed to eat better.  I figured that I could at least give it a try for a month and see if I can stick to it.  I wanted to start the program on the anniversary of my surgery.  I did that today, but I didn't eat much.  I'm still about 2,000 calories short of what I should be eating for the day.  That's partly due to all the running I did and also the fact that I don't have much good food to eat here.  Flo is helping me out with this and I hope it works and improves my running and makes me feel good too.  Time will tell.

AM Run 10 miles - 1:22:29 (8:15 pace)
PM Run 5 miles - 42:27 (8:30 pace) 

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Pair of Runs Through the Snow

It has been a weird couple of days around here.  Normally, we don't get much snow in December.  Typically when we do, it doesn't accumulate.  That hasn't been the case lately though.  It snowed several inches today for the second time in the last three days.

I do like snow running, but it does kind of throw a wrench into my plans.  I was hoping for 10 miles in the first run and 5 miles in the second run.  With the conditions on the paths, I had no clue if that would be possible.  Ideally, I would've run in the morning as the snow was beginning.  Of course, I couldn't get up though

Instead, I headed out mid afternoon as usual.  I wanted to get some cool winter scenery photos, so I decided to head to Riverview Park and run to downtown Easton.  That would put me right along the Lehigh River.

I knew I'd definitely be going slow, so I had on a lightweight long sleeve top with a fleece vest over top.  I wore tights and a glove and headband.  The headband was actually soaked by the end of the run.  Although it was probably around the freezing mark at the time, the weather wasn't too bad.  There wasn't much of a breeze, just a slight headwind at times.

The path was snow covered at Riverview Park as I headed east.  It wasn't snowing any more, but the trees were still covered and it make for some awesome photos.  I took photo after photo after photo in this run.  I ended up with 245 of them when all was said and done.

I got to Hugh Moore Park after crossing the bridge over the river.  Much to my surprise as I headed toward Easton, the paved trail was actually already plowed.  I was kind of disappointed because I wanted the soft surface of the snow.  I ran on the snowy edges of the trail when I could.

The scenery along the river was cool, but I think the best was the section with the trail running along the water filled canal.  It was stunning and made me really enjoy the run.  I figured this run would be fun.

That didn't quite last.  I had not recovered well from the long run on pavement yesterday and my legs were kind of sore.  They definitely didn't need more pavement.  I didn't have a lot of choices though.

I saw a guy walking, a family walking and a lady running with her dog throughout this section.  There were a couple footprints and later some tire tracks, but for the most part, the path was empty.  It was nice to take everything in on my own.

Getting to Easton and taking photos of the snow where the Lehigh River meets the Delaware River was cool, as was seeing the free bridge.  I was enjoying myself and not even worrying about the pace, although to my surprise it was under 8:30 for a good chunk of the run.

I ran under the free bridge and to the end of the trail by the amphitheater in downtown Easton.  I was right at 3.5 miles.  That would get me to 7 miles when I got back.  It was perfect.

Coming back was a lot more of the same, although I had a setting sun in the background during this direction.  That was nice.  I hit the halfway point and my legs were beat.  I focused on each upcoming mile.  I wanted to get back to Riverview at mile 7.  Then, I could run on the snow in the other direction to finish up.

It was a slow trek, but eventually I did make it Riverview.  I had less than a 5k to go.  I headed out west towards the boat launch.  I was surprised at how much more used this section seemed to be when compared with the section going toward Easton.  There were a lot more tracks here.

I saw something cross the trail up ahead and I think it was a deer.  I was a little too late I guess.  It would've been cool to get a picture of them in the snow.  I passed a lady right around this time too.  I then turned around after going 1.5 miles out and I passed her again shortly after that.

I chugged along, trying to find some good footing.  It was starting to get icy as I finished up at mile 10.  It wasn't easy, but it was a solid, productive run.

I had a few hours of recovery.  I then had a photo shoot to go to.  After that, I went out to run again.  I couldn't decide where to go.  At first, I was going to start at Nor-Bath.  I wanted something where I could go out and back in both directions, to make the run seem easier.  I finally decided on the D&L Trail.

Rather than start where I usually do, either Cementon or Cove Road, I started in between the two at Laurys Station.  The plan was to head north toward Cove Road first for 1.5 miles.  Then go out 1 mile in the other direction.

It was definitely colder out after dark than earlier.  It was probably in the 20s by then.  I wore the same type of attire as earlier.  This time, my legs were actually cold by the end.

It took some time to get the legs started.  Early on, there wasn't much snow on the trail.  That would change though and eventually, I had plenty of soft snow to run on.  I think that was a big help.  I was sore, but it could've been worse.

It was nice running with the water of the Lehigh River on one side of me and some houses on the other side, although sometimes it was fields on that side.  I actually couldn't see that much in the darkness anyway.  I focused on breaking the run down into small increments.  It seemed to take awhile to get through that first mile.  Then, I got into a groove though.

I was very happy that the house with dogs at it didn't have them out and barking at me on the way out.  One of them did on the way back, but at least it didn't chase me, as they sometimes do.  I got to 1.5 miles right before Cove Road.  I decided I would go out to 1.75 miles.

I was feeling good and continued on even farther.  Finally, at 2 miles, I turned around.  Now, I'd be able to get to mile 4 when I was back at my car.  Other than the barking dog, not much happened on the way back.  I guess my pace quickened, but it wasn't noticeable.

I got back to my car at mile 4.  I headed out in the other direction.  That starts up right behind a couple houses.  It wasn't long before I was a half mile out and able to turn around.  I ran back and finished up at the car with 5 miles.

Considering the conditions of the day, I was thrilled to complete my planned 15 miles.  I wish I was a little less sore, but I'll get through it.  I might need to massage and foam roll a bit more this week.  I need some recovery because I have two more big days coming up.

Normally, I would run hard on Wednesday.  However, with the snow and how beat up I am feeling, that probably won't happen.  It will likely just be another 10 mile run early and 5 mile run later.  These will both probably be easy.  I have a 5 mile race coming up on Saturday anyway, so there's no need to kill myself on a Wednesday.

Afternoon Run 10 miles - 1:26:31 (8:39 pace)
Night Run 5 miles - 44:06 (8:49 pace)