Friday, January 31, 2014

Super Bowl 10k Course Preview and Short Night Run

It has been a tough week with 4 straight days of 10 miles or more.  I wanted to get in 12 more miles today, to hit 60 for the week.  Then I could rest up on Saturday.

Earlier in the week, I messaged Emily to see if she was available and wanted to run the Super Bowl 10k course with me one afternoon.  She told me Friday worked for her.  I had a work order nearby, so it ended up working perfectly and we met up around lunch time.

The plan was to run the course and maybe add on a few miles too.  I've run the Parkway many times, but never the race course.  Emily had never run in the Parkway at all.  I wish we could've run some of the stone path too, but it is snow covered.

The weather was pretty nice.  It was in the upper 30s for a change.  There was not really any wind.  The sun wasn't out though, so it was still a little chilly.  I wore a jacket, headband, gloves and a pair of pants.  I didn't need too many layers.

The course starts off by the LVRR Clubhouse.  Since it is a winter race, it is run all on roads.  I was very familiar with the beginning of the race.  The road out of the park starts off flat, but then begins climbing. 

I knew it was a tough climb to get up to the neighborhood above the Parkway.  It surely isn't an easy run at the start.  After climbing for a bit, I was disappointed to see that Lehigh Parkway North goes downhill because I knew it would be an uphill later.  The course then has another pretty wicked climb.

We were running a decent pace.  This was good for me to get familiar with the race course and it was good for Emily because she needs to get stronger on hills.  The pace was a fairly comfortable sub 8 minute pace for me.

I drove the course before we ran it, since I wound up in that area.  I was surprised at how hilly the neighborhood is.  I knew it was a climb to get there, but I thought the neighborhood would be flat.  It wasn't huge hills, but there were definitely rolling hills.

The legs weren't feeling all that great.  I went heavy with the KT Tape on both my left shin and left calf.  I could feel some tightness in the calf, but it didn't hurt too much.  My quads began to get worse too.  That was a big problem last spring, so I really have to watch that.

The neighborhood section goes in and out on a bunch of different roads.  I was glad that I printed out the map and carried it with me.  Otherwise, I would've had no clue where to go.  The course is mainly an out and back with a short loop at the end.

As usual, time flew by running with Emily.  Talking and joking around makes things go quickly and the miles just click off.  I love being able to run with someone.

I pointed out to her that at one point we were right above our cars, but had to run a couple miles to get back to them.  The nice thing is that most of the second half of the course is downhill.  If you can survive the first half, you should be good on the second half.  There is one solid hill before the final big downhill.

I hope I can save something for that downhill into the Parkway.  That is going to be awesome and super fast.  I can't wait for that part of the race.  It's a good way to finish with that and a long flat section at the end.

When we got back to the parking lot, Emily wanted to grab a quick drink.  She said her ankle wasn't too bad, so we agreed to run a few more miles.  I convinced her to run to mile 9.

We crossed the bridge by the LVRR Clubhouse and began running on the road on the other side of the creek.  That doesn't go out too far.  We ran out to the road and then looped back around to run through the Covered Bridge.  It is kind of weird running over the boards there and I forgot about that and she made a comment.

We encountered a couple cars on this road back.  There were some cars on the roads throughout the run, but overall it wasn't bad.  We were just past mile 8 when we arrived back at our cars again.

We ran a short out and back on the main road to finish up.  It was a nice 9 miler and a fun time.  We even chatted for a bit after the run, before it got too cold standing around.  It was  fun all around afternoon.

I'm glad I previewed the course.  I know not to push too much in the first half of the race on Sunday.  Of course that is easier said than done, especially as people begin to take off.  I need a strong second half of the race.  I was hoping to break 40 minutes, but that might be very tough on this challenging of a course.  I will at least PR unless something strange happens.  I'm so much ahead of PR shape right now.

I had to run 3 more miles to get to 60 miles for the week.  That meant another night run after a basketball game.  I thought about driving into town for the 3 miler, but then I figured that is just wasn't worth it.

It was a very nice night out.  I overdressed on purpose.  I wore a fleece and jacket.  I also went with a winter hat.  I didn't want to waste any more of my running pants, so I put on sweatpants.

I decided that I would start with a loop around my neighborhood.  I wore compression gear in between runs and I think that helped the legs recover.  They still felt kind of funny in the beginning of this run.

This easy paced run was exactly what I needed.  It was just under 9 minutes per mile and allowed for a good recovery.  A dog chased me in the street in my neighborhood, but luckily didn't do anything and the owner called it back.

After this opening mile, I was going to simply run a few loops around the elementary school.  When I got there, I saw a janitor had his car running.  I didn't want him to call the cops if I was running on their property after dark, so I crossed the road into the other neighborhood.

I figured that if I ran the short loop, it would be about a mile and a half.  I looked at my watch often as I cruised along.  There wasn't much mileage to go and it ticked on by quickly.

Oddly, I saw a couple in dark clothes walking.  At first, I thought maybe they were teenagers.  I was surprised when they were just friendly older people.  They weren't being very safe.

I actually ended up finishing the 3rd mile in this neighborhood.  I never even made it back to the school while I was running.  I walked a short distance to get back home.  The legs felt great and I hope they are even better after wearing compression gear tomorrow and doing some foam rolling.

As I said, tomorrow is a recovery day.  Sunday is the race.  If I feel good and recover well enough from that, I want to run 15 or more miles for a long run on Monday.  What I need to start doing is taking the day off after a long run.  That's what I'm hoping to do on Tuesday.  Maybe that will improve my recovery throughout the week.  I guess I will find out next week.

Afternoon Run 9 miles - 1:10:29 (7:50 pace)
Night Run 3 miles - 26:38 (8:53 pace)

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Cold Night Run in Easton

I didn't get around to running this afternoon.  I took a nap after lunch and went to dinner early.  That meant it was another night run.  I can't believe I'm crazy enough to do this regularly in this brutally cold winter.  I guess the thing is that it actually isn't that much colder at night than it is during the day.

It was around 20 degrees when I started.  I had on a lot of the usual gear, except my jacket instead of the fleece vest.  I was chilly, but not cold for a lot of the run.

I parked in the shopping center next to Easton High School.  The plan was to go out and back on the Palmer Bike Path.  I figured that it had to be at least 5 miles to Riverview Park from there, if not more.  I decided I would head out 5 miles and then come back.

I ran out and as usual, my eyes began to water in the cold.  At least there really wasn't any wind.  I was happy that the path was plowed.  I went along nice and easy.  My headlamp is dieing and I actually have to replace the batteries soon.  It did last the whole run.

The beginning was kind of boring.  It was just running alone through the neighborhoods.  Nothing too exciting.  The nice thing is that it is a gradual downhill in that direction.  Ideally, I would've started at Riverview and ran up the hill from there, but I didn't want to park at Riverview at night.

The first couple miles were good.  Then, my left Achilles area started to ache.  I had problems with that in the past.  I guess the miles were catching up to me this week.  I had to be cautious.

After some time, I was thinking maybe I wouldn't go too far out.  I was considering only 3 miles and then running more later if I felt alright.  I kept going.

Another reason I considered turning around earlier was it seemed to be getting colder as I got toward the Route 33 Boat Launch.  I put on my winter cap instead of the headband.  Even though my legs were cold, I figured maybe if I trapped heat from leaving my head, it would keep my whole body warm.  I don't know if it worked, but I did feel fine later on.  That might've just been my body getting used to running.

Although I wanted to turn around at mile 3, I kept going.  At 3.5, I thought of turning around again, but was enjoying the downhill, so I continued on.  Finally, just past mile 4, I did turn around and headed back.

I saw no one on the trail up to this point.  I was now in a wooded section of the trail, so I figured there wouldn't be anyone there.  I had to pee and thought about going right at the edge of the trail, instead of the woods.  I elected to hold it and it was a good thing I did.  Shortly after that, I saw headlights up ahead.  At first, I thought it was a truck.  Then, I realized it was a group of bikers.  I think there were 5 total.  They were the only people I encountered all night.

My Achilles still bothered me as I headed uphill, but it didn't get any worse.  I had quite a bit of elevation to climb now.  The nice thing is that it is so gradual that you almost don't notice it.  It was good to get out of the woods and back into the neighborhoods.  At night, that is a little more comforting.

I was going to run around one of the neighborhoods, but a dog was barking in that area.  A short while later, I saw a lightly traveled road right next to the trail.  I ran on that and around a neighborhood.  I got out about a third of a mile and then headed back.  I figured that by now, I'd be at almost 9 miles when I returned to my car.

I hit mile 8 and then mile 9 on the path near my car.  I opted to head out away from my car, because I knew a section of the path headed out a little farther.  I was behind the shopping center.  It looked like I could go beyond the road crossing, but I turned around at it.

I ran back toward my car and finished up right past my car.  It was a solid 10 miles.  I would've loved to have run 12 miles, but my body is getting too beat up.  Not only is my Achilles a problem, but my quads were getting sore.  I had real problems with that in the past, so I have to be very cautious there.

Tomorrow, I'm planning on meeting up with Emily to preview the Super Bowl 10k course.  I know the area in general, but don't specifically know the course.  She's not running it, but we'll both enjoy the company.  It should be a little warmer tomorrow too.  I'd actually like to run 12 miles if I can handle it.  I'll probably just run 60 miles this week.

10 miles - 1:24:41 (8:28 pace)

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Attempting Some Goal Pace Running

I'm putting in quality mileage during this cold winter.  If there is one issue, the cold and wind make it hard to put in faster workouts.  I decided that I needed to try to speed things up a bit this afternoon.

I've run faster than goal marathon pace and slower than it, but I haven't really done any goal marathon paced running (6:51 per mile).  The plan was try to get a few miles of that done in the cold this afternoon.

The weather was difficult today.  Not only was it around 15 degrees again in the afternoon, but the wind had picked up a bit.  I knew I'd have to work to meet my times.  The plan was to run at Riverview again, since I know that it is clear.  I wanted to run 10 miles.

I wore the usual attire.  I needed the fleece vest, but didn't want anything more than 2 layers because I was planning on running harder and sweating more than usual.  I had my lighter gloves and headband too.

I started off heading on the road toward Hugh Moore Park.  It was nice and comfortable.  That was good for the moment, but it meant that I'd be going into the wind when I ran around the park.  I went over to the park and hit the headwind right away.  It was difficult.  I wanted to do one loop around there and then head toward Easton.

I planned for a 2 mile warm up.  As I left the park, I was almost 2 miles into the run.  I went up a hill and noticed that my shin seemed to have a tweak, so I started what would've been the first fast mile off a bit slow.  Then, I felt fine again, so I picked it up.

In the beginning of this faster segment, I was kind of disappointed.  It said the current mile was just under 7 minute pace.  I was hoping with the effort I was putting in, it would be a little quicker than that.  I was pushing harder than normal, but trying to run more in the moderate effort range. 

I guess my body got into a groove because before long, the pace dropped under 6:40.  I was happy with that.  If anything, maybe it was even a little faster than I would've liked.  I focused on being consistent and continued to watch my pace.

One thing that was nice was that I was running with the wind at my back.  That first faster mile was a 6:40.  I turned around part way through the second mile and that was a 6:41.  I kept at it.

It was now tough because I was fighting the wind.  Still, I wanted to work hard, but not too hard.  I wanted this to be an effort that I'd be capable of sustaining during a race for about 10 miles or so.

I slipped a little in the next few miles as I headed back.  However, I was just trying to be solid and I continued to be under goal pace.  I ran a 6:43 mile and then a 6:45 mile.  It wasn't too long ago that I couldn't even run that fast in back to back miles.  My improvement is impressive.

I got back to Hugh Moore Park and figured this was my last hard mile.  I made sure to work hard against the wind and keep it under goal pace.  I had the wind at my back toward the end of this mile.  I had not been looking at my watch for the total distance.  I began to realized that I might've thought that I ran a mile farther than I actually did.  I ended this harder segment with a 6:44 mile.

When I looked at my watch as I headed toward Riverview, I realized that I only ran 5 fast miles, not 6 of them.  I didn't have the desire to push for another mile though, so I slowed down.  I still had 5 quality goal paced miles in terrible conditions.

Since I had 3 miles to run yet and my legs were dieing, I felt terrible for awhile.  It seemed to take forever too.  I was now running almost 2 minutes per mile slower than I had been earlier.  I ran out toward the Boat Launch for over a mile and then turned and headed back. 

They plowed some of the path across the road from Riverview, so I ran there.  I went under a bridge and up a hill slightly.  I was finished with 10 solid miles in the books.  This was just the workout I needed.  I can't wait until it gets warmer and I can run even faster or even farther at goal pace.

I'm now up to 38 miles for the week.  I'll probably be in the 60s when it is over.  I'm thinking I'll run 10-12 miles again tomorrow.  They will all be easy.  Most likely, I'll head to Riverview again.  I might get tired of it, but it's convenient and they take good care of clearing the path.  The scenery isn't terrible either.

10 miles - 1:15:21 (7:32 pace)

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Cold Ironton Night Run

The plan was for an easy 10 miler today.  It looked like it would be nicer later in the afternoon.  Every day sucks around here.  However, I was tired and just not feeling it as the afternoon came around.  Instead, I took a nap and I had to wander out after dark.

I had to go to a basketball game first, so I wasn't going to get around to running until about 9 PM.  When I looked at the forecast, it said 14 degrees and the windchill would make it feel like 14 degrees.  I figured that with little wind, I could handle it.  I am getting used the cold, but 14 degrees is still 14 degrees.

I started off with both my fleece vest and jacket.  I only had on my heavier pair of gloves and my hands got cold, so I put on a second pair.  I also put on a winter hat and took off my headband.  I needed every bit of that gear.  I was fine once I warmed up, but that took at least a good mile.

The run would be around the Ironton Rail Trail, since that was on the way back from the game and it is plowed.  I didn't want to park in any of the lots at night, so I parked on the street near the caboose.  Because of that, I began with about a mile on the streets of Coplay.  A few people saw me running with my headlamp and vests in this cold and they must've thought I was nuts.

After going to around the streets, I opted to get on the trail.  I normally run in a counterclockwise direction, but this time I wanted to go clockwise.  That would mean the isolated section of the trail would be in the beginning.  It was nice going downhill to start.

The trail was plowed, but there was a thin layer of snow throughout a lot of it.  I tried to find the clear pavement when I could.  Every now and then, I'd hit a slick spot.  It wasn't too bad though.

The run was kind of peaceful, especially in the isolated section along the river.  I wish it was easier to see the river from there.  It was peaceful, but also kind of lonely.  I sure didn't expect anyone else to be running there and I didn't see anyone.

I cruised along.  At night, I don't look at my pace much.  It was nice and slow after 18 miles yesterday.  I think it was around 9 minutes per mile.  After being out a couple miles, it seemed like my shin might start acting up.  Thankfully it didn't because that would've been a long walk back.

It was good to get back to the area with houses next to the trail.  In the darkness, I found this section more comforting.  At one point, two deer were in someone's yard and sprinted across the trail right in front of me.  Another deer stood in the yard and froze.  It was cool seeing them there.

When I got to about 4.5 miles, it seemed like my shin might start bothering me.  Therefore, I didn't chance it and I just ran on my toes.  That had typically relieved my shin problems.  I didn't have any more issues from that point on.  I was thinking that I might only run 7 miles though. 

I finished up the loop going uphill.  A cop car entered the trail on the other side of the road as I was leaving the trail.  They seem to drive on there often.  I wondered if he would've said anything to me if he passed me.  As I got to my car, I was slightly past 6.5 miles.  I felt good, so I kept running.

I took the same path as I did last time.  I hit mile 7 and continued on.  By now, I was figuring on doing 8 miles.  I saw that I was crossing Eleventh Street.  I knew the trail crossed over Second Street, so I thought maybe I would run to that point. 

I ended up doing that and it was a big loop.  I got back on the trail and now had to go uphill.  That was the only bad thing about where I started.  Everything was uphill.  I had gone past mile 8 and was approaching mile 9 when I got to the caboose.  I decided to continue on.

I ran down the hill and decided to take the spur trail.  That is stone and very isolated, so I was surprised to see that they plow that section too.  I didn't go very far on it, because going through the Whitehall Parkway and the old buildings at night would've been a little uncomfortable.  I turned around at about 9.2 miles.  I headed back.  I ran up the hill and then to my car and slightly past it.  I finished up with 10 miles.

Today wasn't an easy run with the cold and the loneliness, but I was proud of myself for getting it done.  It was a good challenge to pass.  This winter is certainly testing me and will make me stronger in the end.

Tomorrow, I'm hoping to run double digits again.  I want to run hard this time, at least for a couple miles.  I haven't run much goal marathon pace.  I feel like 5 miles at that pace would be good.  Right now, I think that is like a moderate pace, so I wouldn't have to push too much.  I didn't check the weather yet, but I'm sure it will suck.

10 miles - 1:28:57 (8:54 pace)

Monday, January 27, 2014

Finally Back to Running Long

I had problems with my shin, so I've back off for almost 3 weeks.  None of my runs have been over 6 miles long, since that time.  I've had no issues at all in over a week, so I figured it was time to test things again with a long run.

I didn't have any work today, so I started off after 11 AM.  The weather was beautiful at the start, compared to recent weather.  It was sunny with a slight breeze and the temperature was almost at the freezing mark.  That is now amazingly high.  I only wore my ColdGear top and started with my gloves on, but my headband tucked into my pants.  I was afraid I might be too hot.  I even wore sunglasses.

The plan was to see if I could run 15 miles, but really I had no idea what I could do.  If I started encountering problems, I would back off and call it a day early.  That's my plan from here on out.  I headed to Riverview Park, since that is one of the few areas that is usually plowed.  It was good before Saturday's snowfall, but I wasn't sure if it would be plowed since then.

I started off heading toward the Route 33 Boat Launch.  It had not been plowed yet.  The plow was actually in the parking lot, working on that first.  Running in this snow wasn't bad.  It wasn't deep at all, since we only had a few inches.  I was fine with it, but I wanted to be cautious early on in the long run.  I elected to only go out a mile and then come back. 

I also did this because I had to go to the bathroom and I knew they had one setup in Hugh Moore Park.  I ran out in the other direction toward Easton.  First, I stopped and moved my car for the plow to finish in the parking lot.  I then grabbed a quick drink too.  That would be my only stop of the run.

I went along Lehigh Drive for a bit (since the other section is never plowed).  Luckily, I only encountered one car.  I then ran the loop around Hugh Moore Park and stopped at the bathroom too.  I ran one loop there.  Each loop is about a mile in length.

I then ran over back on the canal path.  The plan was to go all the way out toward Easton and come all the way back.  It's about 2 more miles out from that point.  This part of the path was plowed.  It was a mix of a thin layer of snow and some asphalt.  It had pretty good grip.

By now, the sun had hit behind some clouds and it was starting to get colder and windier.  I knew the nice weather wasn't going to last long, but I was hoping it would last longer than this.  I put my headband and gloves on and wore them for the rest of the run.  I thought about even going back and grabbing my vest.  At least I wasn't going to sweat much any more.

It was cool running along the river.  At one point, it was completely frozen and covered in snow.  I ran out to the end of where they can go with the plow.  By now, I was over 6 miles into the run.  I wanted to keep going out farther, so I ran through the snow.  Quite a few mountain bikes had gone through there, so it wasn't bad.  I ran under the train and road bridges.

After the bridges, the snow became worse and it was hard to run in.  I didn't want to mess around with it, so I turned around and headed back.  Getting to the halfway point of 7.5 miles was important.  That was also farther then I have run in weeks.  I next focused on running to mile 10.  At least if I got that far, I'd be satisfied.

There rarely are people out in this section and that is especially the case in this weather.  I was running alone most of the time.  I got into a groove and was cruising along.  My pace was a little over 8 minutes per mile when I was on bare pavement, but in this partially plowed section, it was more like 7:50 miles.  That was interesting.  I guess the snow softened the impact.

I got back to Hugh Moore Park around 8.5 miles.  I decided to run two loops around that park again.  That would get me to 10.5 miles.  It was boring, but breaking the run up into different segments like this really helped.  I was having no pain, but the legs were definitely feeling beat already at 10 miles.  I guess I shouldn't be surprised, since I haven't run this far in awhile.  Still, I was disappointed.

I continued on.  I decided I would go back out toward Easton.  If I could just go another mile out and back and then run back to my car, I'd be at 13 miles.  Then I could add on a couple more in the other direction from Riverview.

I saw a kid walking twice in this segment.  After a mile in this direction, I kept on going.  I was feeling good, so I figured why not continue.  I decided I'd run out as far as they had it plowed again.  I turned around at about 12.5 miles.  A mountain bike flew past me, but he elected not to go through the snow.  He turned around too when the plowing had ended on the path.

I knew if I ran straight back to my car, I'd be at 15 miles.  By now, I was strongly considering running to 16 miles.  I tried to just focus on the upcoming mile though.  You never know because things can go downhill quickly during a long run.

I arrived back at Hugh Moore Park around 14.5 miles.  I elected to run the loop there again.  That was the 4th time around there.  It is boring, but doing it in between other segments, breaks things up a bit and makes it more manageable.

Although I was kind of beat up at mile 15, I figured that I'd pick up the pace a little for the end of the run.  It would still only be a moderate effort.  The overall pace was right around 8 minutes per mile, but that quickly dropped it below 8.

I ran back to my car after the loop.  When I got to the Riverview Parking lot, I was over 16 miles.  I had thought I might try to run 17 miles anyway, so I continued on.  This section heading out west was now plowed, so that was helpful.

I continued my moderate pace.  The first moderate mile was 7:09.  I pushed a little more on this one because I figured that it was my last mile.  The pace for this mile became 7:04.

As I got to mile 17, I was feeling awesome.  I thought why not add yet another mile.  That would be 3 more miles than I planned.  I knew I'd be very happy with an 18 mile run.  I ran out a little farther until I was 1 mile from the parking lot.

I turned around and headed back.  I was starting to tire now.  Still, I was giving a moderate effort.  I only cared about finishing though.  I ran by a walker.  I finished up at mile 18 with a 7:18 mile.  It was a great day and of course I was thrilled to be done and be running healthy again.  I hope I'm over all of that for good now.

I saw the plow truck come back as I was stretching at my car.  I was wondering if that guy saw me.  It would be funny if he did, because he started plowing almost 2 hours and 30 minutes earlier.  Surely, he would've thought I was crazy, if he realized that I was still running.

I am sore now and was during the run, but overall I'm not too bad.  I remember that it wasn't too long ago where an 18 miler would take days to recover from.  Now, it's not that big of a deal.  My strength and endurance are just so awesome.  I'm curious to see what kind of times I can run when the weather gets better.  I may have to rethink my goal of a sub 3:00 marathon.  I might be a bit faster than that in a few months.  Time will tell.

Tomorrow, I'm hoping for 10 or 12 miles.  Nothing big, just another easy effort.  I'll likely head to Riverview again or possibly Mill Race Park.  I'm hoping I can get back over 60 miles for the week.  Being consistent week in and week out from here on through to the spring is key.  Eventually as it warms up, I'll push the effort a little more too on some of the runs.  The mileage will be about the same throughout the rest of the winter and on into the spring.

18 miles - 2:21:51 (7:53 pace)   

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Speedy BCR Run and Snowshoe Run

I was startled this morning when I was awaken from a deep sleep by my alarm clock at 6:30.  I was puzzled as to why it was going off at such an ungodly time.  Then I recalled that I set it to run with the BCR.  As usual, I rested back down on my pillow.  However, when I was still wide awake 10 minutes later, I grabbed my gear and headed out the door.

They were meeting at Riverview Park.  I figured it was going to snow later and wouldn't be much warmer anyway, so I might as well join them for this lovely 15 degree weather.  Since there was no wind and I'm used to the cold by now, I wore the usual attire.  Actually, I threw on a lightweight jacket instead of a fleece vest.

I ran with Emily yesterday and she had planned on coming, so I was looking forward to an easy run with her again.  However, she injured herself yesterday and took today off.  Normally, my body isn't awake this early and I don't like to run hard.  Rarely do I bother to even try to run with Mertz.  If I do, I'm used to him killing me because his easy pace was usually a struggle for me.

I figured it was either hang with him for awhile or run on my own.  I caught up to him and we ran together.  The pace actually wasn't bad at all, on the partially snow covered trail.  We were running a little under 7:30 and I wasn't having any breathing issues.  That is now becoming an easy pace for me.  It is quite amazing.  I was able to converse with no issues.  The legs were well rested this week, so I felt great.

The plan was to go out 3 miles and head back.  Time flew by as we cruised along.  We got to the Boat Launch and took the access road into the parking lot because it was plowed.  Elsewhere, we knew the path would be snow covered.  We actually went down to the main path before turning around.

That was somewhat challenging.  It was snow covered and uneven.  We were only on it for about a tenth of a mile or two tenths.  We turned around and ran past most of the rest of the group.  I was surprised with how many people were running out to 6 miles.  They usually don't have that many going that far.  It is often a big mix of distances.

Mile 1 was a 7:21, mile 2 was a 7:26, mile 3 was a 7:27 and mile 4 was a 7:19.  That wasn't bad, but my legs were getting restless and I felt like pushing a bit.  I started to do that and Mertz didn't go with me, so I was on my own for the final 2 miles (not that he was ever far behind).

Even on this 5th mile, I didn't feel like I was going that hard.  I was stunned when I looked at my watch and saw that it was a 6:30 mile.  When did that pace become a moderate pace?  I picked it up a little more as I got into the last mile before Riverview.  That was an even faster 6:14 and a great way to finish up.  I felt so good and so strong.  Maybe backing off over the last two weeks is exactly what my body needed to be refreshed.

I'm having no shin problems any more either.  That hasn't bothered me in a week.  Next week is the Super Bowl 10k and even with bad weather, I should crush my PR.  If all goes well, I might even break 40 minutes.  That would be amazing.

I was sitting on 28 miles for the week.  I had some chafing issues from the morning run, so I figured I'd probably pass on a snowshoe run in the afternoon.  That was too bad because it was snowing and that would've been fun.  I was bored at night and was bothered by being at 28 miles.  I had to get out there for more, so I changed my mind.

I only wanted 2 miles to get to 30 for the week.  I elected to snowshoe run in the darkness at the schoolyard next to my house.  It was cold again, but with no wind, it was rather comfortable.  This time, I didn't wear a second layer of pants and the legs got cold as I kicked snow up onto them.

I ran the perimeter of the schoolyard about as much as I could.  That got me some extra distance compared to the last time, but it was still only 1.2 miles in that loop.  I had my first snowshoe fall.  I'm sure it is the first of many.  I rarely fall on normal trails though.  I was coming around a banked turned and slipped on the soft snow. 

I ran a couple shorter loops after the main one.  My pace got quicker, but this time, I was running with an easy effort.  I'm starting to get used to the snowshoe runs.  They are becoming a little less work and more fun.  It was a good way to end the week.

I'm not sure what to do tomorrow.  Jessica setup a group run in the morning at Liberty State Park across from NYC.  That would certainly be cool, so I might go there.  However, I'm not sure what it will be like after all the recent snowfall.  I'm also not sure if I can get up in the morning and drive over there.  I have to be back by noon to go to some basketball games.  I may just end up staying around here and try to run double digit miles.  I haven't gone that far in a couple weeks.

BCR Run 6 miles - 42:16 (7:03 pace)
Snowshoe Run 2 miles - 20:04 (10:02 pace)

Friday, January 24, 2014

Just Another Freezing Day at Riverview

I figured that I needed a road run today.  I was going to head out in the afternoon.  Then, Emily asked me if I wanted to join her for a late morning run.  Run alone later when it would still be freezing cold or run with a good friend earlier.  That was an easy decision.  We agreed to meet up at Riverview Park.

The plan was to run 6 miles.  We were going to run toward Easton and back.  We had to start out on Lehigh Drive to run since the path wasn't plowed through the small section.  That road can be a little dangerous and we had to run side by side when cars were coming.  At least it is a short segment.

I had brought tons of extra layers, but actually didn't need it.  Although the temperature didn't make it out of the teens, the sun was at least shining.  That makes a huge difference.  I had on my normal winter attire.  I actually took my headband on and off throughout the run as the wind direction changed.  I'm getting so used to this cold that it isn't even a big deal anymore.

We went out cruising along.  The path was in pretty good shape.  It was plowed all the way until almost Easton.  The problem is that it wasn't always bare pavement, so sometimes there was a layer of snow.  At least it wasn't slippery.

I say this all of the time, but I really need to make running with people a regular thing.  Time blows by when you have a running partner.  That is especially true with Emily as we end up talking a lot.  Most of it was about possible marathons and stuff like that.  We've both been trying to nail down our spring racing plans.

As we got toward Easton, there was an ice jam on the river again.  That was cool to see.  I joked around about walking across the river.  I wonder if it would've been possible.  The ice wasn't as thick as it was a few weeks back when it was full of mini icebergs.  Maybe it will be like that again in a couple days since it is supposed to continue to be freezing.

We were almost to Easton when the snow plow's path ended.  It was about 2.5 miles at that point, so we turned around and headed back.  I thought it would be warmer heading back, but it was just as bad or worse.  It was like there was a slight breeze in both directions.

Around the 5k point, Emily tripped and fell on the edge of the snow.  That hurt her ankle, so we stopped and walked briefly.  Then we got going and continued on.  The pace slowed a little from that point on, but it still wasn't slow. 

It wasn't long and we were back onto Lehigh Drive.  I asked her if she still wanted to do 6 miles and she said she did, so we kept going.  We needed a short out and back in the other direction.  That flew by quickly too.  I commented to her that I have probably run about 5 days ever that were colder to today prior to this year.  Now, I've probably run 5-10 days this bad or worse this winter alone.  The temperatures have been brutal and I can't remember when they were ever this bad.

We finished up at 6 miles and had a short cool down walk to the car.  The top of my foot bothered me a little, but I'm happy to say that I've had no issues with my shin all week.  Maybe I backed off enough now.  I've only run a little over 20 miles this week.  I'll push it a bit more now and then stop if I have any problems again.

This was a good run and it was great to have the company.  It made 6 miles in the cold seem like 6 minutes.  We were discussing getting together for long runs in the spring.  I'm used to doing those alone, so having Emily to run with could be a huge help. 

Tomorrow, I have no idea what I'm doing.  I might run with the BCR in the morning.  That may be tough though because it is going to be cold again.  It is a group run, so there is a chance I'll be there.  I'd like to try to see if I can run 10 miles regardless of where and when I run.  I haven't done that in over 2 weeks now.

6 miles - 48:06 (8:01 pace)

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Parkway Snowshoe Run

Since the snow isn't melting any time soon, I'll be getting a lot of use out of my snowshoes.  I ran 4 miles yesterday and was hoping for a full 10k today.  I didn't want to go to Jacobsburg again, so I opted to run in the Parkway in Allentown.  I figured that the whole thing is 6 miles and it should be mostly snow covered with some elevation change.

I headed out there in the early afternoon.  It was brutally cold, but the sun was shining and with the snow, that made the scenery beautiful.  I always struggle with what to wear when snowshoe running.  I always end up overdressed.  Today, I had on a second pair of pants and a ColdGear top with a fleece over that and then a jacket.  I also switched between a winter hat, my face mask and nothing.  It was tricky because one direction was warm and the other was a little breezy and freezing cold.  I actually don't even pay attention to the temperature any more.  It is so brutally cold every single day.

I started off at the clubhouse and ran east toward the Robin Hood Bridge.  I planned on running much easier today.  While I did that, it doesn't matter.  I am quickly learning there is no such thing as an easy snowshoe run.  It is tricky because it doesn't seem that much more difficult than regular running initially, but after a few miles, I am just burnt out.  It takes a lot of work to run through the snow.

I saw a few cross country skiers out there and there were a ton of tracks from that too.  One day I should try that.  The path has been fairly well used.  I tried to run on fresh snow for the most part.  Otherwise, it was uneven running.

I crossed over the bridge and was already getting warm.  However the wind picked up as I went the other way.  I came through the first mile pretty tired.  It was beautiful when I got to the section right along the creek.

I had some relatively flat running for awhile.  One thing that was tricky was running over all the small plowed access ways.  I actually stopped and walked over most of them.  I don't want to damage my cleats.  That did give me some rest later on.  I brought my GoPro out and took some photos and video of the run.

I continued to try to run easy, but was working hard nonetheless.  At least my breathing wasn't too labored.  The legs were just getting punished.  I could've skipped the Fish Hatchery Hill, but I had to see what it was like.  It is always hard without snow.  Today, it was brutal.  I ran up it slowly and barely made it to the top.  I was breathing so heavy by the top.

I cruised downhill and around the Fish Hatchery.  I had to run through some plowed snow around the edge of the road in this area and that was tough.  I came through the 5k point and was already so dead.  I knew I could run another mile and probably a second one, but that would likely be it.

One good thing is that with the soft snow, my shin isn't bothering me.  Hopefully that stays the same when I get back onto the roads.  The top of my other foot bothered me a little bit during the run.  It hasn't acted up in some time.  I'll have to monitor that situation.

There are three small hills on this final section heading back to the clubhouse.  I could've opted to stay on flat ground, but that just isn't in my nature.  I had to battle them head on.  It took its toll.  I came down the final one by the Police Academy and was completely gassed.  I now knew I could only make it to mile 5.

This last half mile was so difficult.  My feet were dragging.  I ran just past the parking lot and hit mile 5.  I was unbelievably exhausted.  I didn't even move.  I just stood there for a bit, like I would do after a hard race.  It is amazing.  I never thought such a short run could take so much out of me.

Even if I don't get get a lot of mileage or time on my feet while snowshoeing, I am definitely getting a killer workout.  This is better than any tempo workout or speed interval that I can do on my own.  It is unbelievable.  I haven't worked this hard ever without feeling like I was giving it my all.  I never thought running a 10k in any fashion could be so hard.

Eventually, I'll get to a point where I can run a 10k.  If today was a race, some how, some way, I would've ran another mile.  Still, I was right at my breaking point.  By the end of the winter, I want to be able to actually run 10 miles in snowshoes.  That's a strong goal for me, since I'm only at half of that at the moment.

Tomorrow, I'm unsure of.  Maybe I'll try to find somewhere for a regular run or maybe I'll snowshoe run again.  I'm not sure because I can't keep doing this day after day.  It's just too physically tough.

5 miles - 50:03 (10:01 pace)

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Jacobsburg 4 Miler in Snowshoes

After testing out the new Dion Snowshoes last night, I decided to go for a real snowshoe run today.  The plan was to go to Jacobsburg and run the Sober's Run loop and maybe a little more.  I didn't want to cross any roads though.  There was some talk about doing a night snowshoe run and I actually didn't feel like an afternoon run.  However, I got out there by myself earlier in the day anyway.

Not surprisingly, there was only one car in the parking lot when I started.  It was very cold out, but there was no wind.  Actually, it is amazing how cold it has been this winter and how used to it I am by now.  Today was no big deal.  I had on an extra pair of pants and my face mask.  I typically had the mask down though.

These snowshoes are great and I'm glad I bought them.  It almost doesn't feel like you are wearing anything more than regular shoes.  The snow was so light that I heard a lot of crunching.  I don't know if that is good, but the snowshoes don't look too bad. 

I was interested to see how I'd run the powerline hill.  It isn't steep, but it is long and tough in normal conditions.  I had to work hard, but it wasn't overwhelming.  My breathing became very labored though.  I managed to get to the top in one piece.

I knew getting to the top would be huge because a lot of downhill comes up after that.  I recovered then and cruised along as I watched my pace drop and drop.  The first mile ended up being a 9:16.  That was a solid start.

When I got to the one turn, I made a right and did a somewhat short out and back.  That added about half a mile to the run.  It had some small rolling hills that were challenging.  I had been following cross country ski tracks that I'd seen from the start.

As I got back toward the main loop, I came across a guy on cross country skis.  That was cool.  I continued out to the road.  I ran over an icy spot and a bridge.  By now, my miles were under 8:30 each.  I came back and headed back into the loop.

I was nearly at mile 3 and becoming exhausted.  I didn't feel like I had been pushing too much or that running through the snow was overly difficult, but I guess it was harder than usual and pushing me near the edge.

Finally, I was back on the main loop and heading for home.  It got harder and harder, but I kept pushing.  This was quite the workout.  I went past mile 3 and then 3.5.  When I got back to my car, I was at 3.66.  I turned and headed back out for a short out and back finish.  I ended with 4 miles.  The cross country skier came up behind me after I was finished.

It was good to be done and a lot of fun.  I was beat by the end.  I could've managed 2 more miles I'm sure, but I really would've been dead.  Snowshoe running sure isn't easy.  It's a quality workout.  I'm still unsure whether I will run the PA State Championships or not.

I signed up for my first 50 miler.  I'm pretty excited.  Angie said she'd do it with me.  That would be a huge help.  Misery loves company.  That means I have to change my plans for a full marathon.  Emily and I were talking about doing one.  It is tough to find one that is just right.  I kind of feel like Goldilocks.  I figure by April or May, I'll be quite fast anyway though.

Tomorrow, I'm not sure what I'm doing.  I may bike in the afternoon if the roads are clear.  I'd like to snowshoe run again.  I'm thinking Trexler at night could be fun.  I have to work early in the evening though.

4 miles - 33:54 (8:29 pace)

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Testing Out the Dion Snowshoes

Yesterday, I knew I couldn't run far, so I rode my bike for 2 hours.  That was a solid workout.  I was hoping for a couple miles of running today, but it snowed all day, so I never got the chance for a real run.  The good news is that with the snow, I was able to test out my new Dion Snowshoes.

I bought them because almost everything I've read about snowshoes said they are the best.  They also sell them in three parts, the frame, the cleats and the bindings.  I opted to go with the running frames, the secure fit bindings and the standard cleats.  They put them all together and ship them assembled.  Each piece can be replaced if broken or interchanged with another type of piece.

My plan for the evening was to just test the snowshoes out with a short mile loop around the elementary school.  It is nice having an elementary school right next to my house.  As I found out, the loop I'm able to do around most of the perimeter of their property is almost exactly a mile long.  There is some nice little elevation change for practice too.

I put these snowshoes on and they don't snap into place, so I was worried that I might not have them secured well enough.  However, they stayed on fine and I had no problems.  They never fell off and weren't even loose.

These snowshoes were designed specifically for running.  They are so much lighter than the snowshoes that I originally got for Christmas, which were hiking ones.  Since I haven't run much in snowshoes, it did take a short time to adjust.  Once you get going though, it isn't too difficult.  It is definitely harder than a trail run, but around the same pace. 

I ran along pretty good.  I had a headlamp, but didn't turn it on much.  The snow made everything bright enough.  That's one thing I love about snow. 

My breathing became labored as I approached 3/4 of a mile.  I wasn't going all out, but since I only planned on running a mile, there wasn't much point in going slow.  I ran that mile in exactly 9 minutes flat.

I can't wait to get back out there tomorrow and really run.  I want to at least run 3 miles and if I can do more great.  I'm hoping the shin will hold up.  I had no problems tonight.  Tonight was physically a good workout and I'm hoping I can have more of the same tomorrow.  I'm glad I now have an option when it snows too much.  This will make winter running even better.

1 mile - 9:00 (9:00 pace)

Sunday, January 19, 2014

A Pain Free 6

Yesterday, I woke up and there was about an inch of snow on the ground.  I didn't want to mess around and take a chance with my injury issues, so I opted to skip out on the BCR run.  I had to try to get in a run today though.

The plan was just an easy afternoon 4 miles.  It was quite cold today (below 30 degrees).  At least it was sunny out.  I went out to the Nor-Bath Trail.  I knew the worst weather would be the worst when running into the wind on the way out.

I started from Jacksonville Park.  I was disappointed that the trail was snow covered.  It wasn't a lot of snow, just a layer, but I thought it would be clear.  Most of the grass is clear and all of the roads are completely clear.  I was initially disappointed, but in the end, it might've been a good thing.

I started off nice and comfortable.  I had no problems.  I decided to try using KT Tape around the shin area before the run.  I wasn't sure if that would work, but it was about my last option.

I crossed Airport Road without any problems.  The snow wasn't bad at all.  It had a lot of foot traffic, so it was pretty well packed down.  It had decent grip and I guess it was actually quite soft too.

The first mile was a solid 8:30.  I passed a guy that was walking three dogs.  That was a challenge to get around.  They looked like Huskies and they must've been loving this weather.  As I approached Bicentennial Park around 1.5 miles, I felt strong.  When I got close to mile 2, I looked down and saw that my pace was a little over 8 minutes.  That meant I was running much faster than I thought on this mile.  It ended up being a 7:29 and it felt very easy too.  I guess that's what fresh legs will do for you.

I could've turned around, but I felt so good that I couldn't resist continuing on.  I figured that I might as well keep going until I started to at least feel the first signs of pain.  The last time out, it was around 2 miles.  I figured that it must be coming by 2.5 miles.  It never did and I turned around right before that point.  That was in front of the Weaversville Road crossing.

I came back and had a slight uphill, but still encountered no issues.  I was amazed.  I kept waiting and waiting.  It was weird having my mind free to think of other things, instead of the pain.

I was getting quite warm now, with the wind at my back.  I opened the vest and took off my headband and gloves.  It was very nice going in this direction.  I hit mile 4 with no problems and continued on.  Again, I cruised over Airport Road.

I was almost at 5 miles, but I felt so good that I opted to keep going.  I figured why not run to mile 6.  I went out and back on the short section toward Bath.  In total, that is close to a mile long.  I thought there was a guy way up ahead on the path, but it was just the wall at the end of the path.

I got back to Jacksonville Road.  Again, my shin had no issues.  I was starting to think that maybe the KT Tape was working its magic.  In the final tenth of a mile though, I ran on the road and it seemed like a tweak of the shin was beginning.  Maybe the soft snow had more of an impact than the KT tape.

Whatever was the cause, I was happy to be pain free for a full 6 miles.  That's progress.  I guess I'll have to stick with the KT Tape and maybe I'll need to get back off of pavement and onto soft surfaces.  That saved me in the spring and summer and I hope it would work again.  It's worth a try.

Tomorrow, I'm probably going to try to bike.  I haven't been on the bike in a couple months and don't enjoy it, but it is a necessary evil at this point I guess.  I need to be cautious.  I want to ride for a couple hours to replace my long run.  Maybe I'll stick to trying to run every other day.  I'm definitely hoping that I can run again on Tuesday.  I want this week to at least be a little more productive than last week.

6 miles - 45:54 (7:39 pace)

Friday, January 17, 2014

Shorts Weather

It was no longer "Sweater Weather" today.  Okay, that was a bad use of song humor.  It was "Shorts Weather" though.  I didn't know how long it would stay that way, so I ran even though I was unsure if I wanted to heading into the day.

I only had a day of rest, so the plan was a simple 2 miles.  I wanted somewhere soft, so I was going to run the Nor-Bath Trail.  I didn't eat lunch at 2 PM yet, so instead I ran at the Cementon Trailhead on the D&L.  That is closer to where I planned on eating in Northampton.  It is also usually nice and soft this time of year.

While I wore shorts, it was on the chilly side, so I was glad I threw on a jacket.  Also, some of the trail is blocked from the sun.  Still, it was a great sunny day out.  That's rare for a January run.  It really lifted my spirits too.

I started off nice and easy.  I was cruising along and feeling good.  I looked at my watch time and time again.  I was amazed that I had no stiffness in the lower leg.  I kept waiting and waiting and it didn't come.  I was thinking that maybe the soft, soggy surface was helping.  There was some left over snow here and there too and the occasional puddle.

I got to mile 1 and was amazed.  I still felt normal and felt absolutely nothing.  I started to begin to think that maybe I was over this problem.  I kept on going instead of turning back.  I continued on and was enjoying myself.  My pace was also well under 8 minutes and I wasn't working hard at all either.  I was thrilled.

Finally, as I approached mile 2, I could start to feel the tweak happening again.  I was disappointed, yet happy I made it significantly farther than last time out.  Maybe I'm slowly making progress.

Around 2.5 miles, it was getting quite tight.  Therefore, I went back to running on my toes.  That seems to relieve the soreness.  I can run a little longer then.  I strongly considered stopping at mile 3.  However, I would've have had to walk another mile back.  Since I was on my toes and it wasn't getting worse, I ran back.

I did a short out and back before I actually got to the parking lot.  That way I could walk back a bit and it wouldn't stiffen up in the car.  I finished up at mile 4.  I was a little sore, but not too bad.  One key will certainly be to continue to not push the limit more than my body will allow.  If I would've listened to my body early on with this problem, I might not be in the current situation.

I'm figuring that I'll probably have to start jumping on the bike now when a new week starts on Sunday.  I don't want to start losing fitness.  I'm hoping to get up tomorrow morning with the BCR group and see if I can run a couple miles.  I won't push it though, so I'll quit early and walk if I need to.  I'm also going to try wearing KT Tape.  I'm not sure if that will help.  At least things are getting a little better slowly.

4 miles - 30:58 (7:45 pace)

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Rather Unproductive Run

I was sick and in bed all day Monday.  That meant obviously it wasn't a day to run.  Yesterday, I had the time to run and just didn't feel like it.  Today, it was more of the same.  Eventually, I got bored of sitting around though.  I reluctantly left the house to get outside for a run.  I was hoping maybe that would help.

I headed to Riverview Park for a short run.  After all, I still was unsure of how my leg would be since I've only run once in the last week.  It felt perfectly fine while walking around, but running would be a different test.

It's tough to say whether or not this is nice weather.  It was certainly warmer than in has been, as it was around 40 degrees.  However, it was overcast and foggy.  I guess that's better than some of our winter weather.  I was able to wear shorts and a lightweight jacket.  Another plus was that the trail was clear.

I took off nice and slowly.  The legs felt good in the early going as I headed toward the Boat Launch.  I saw a couple walkers along the way, including a few with dogs.  Not only did the body feel good initially, but it was well rested too.  The days off sure didn't hurt in that regard.

I got out a mile and felt fine.  It was much better than Sunday's run at that same point.  Then, around 1.5 miles to 2 miles, my leg started bothering me.  It was more of a stiffness than anything.  Now, I figured that I'd probably cut the run short at 3 miles.

I went out almost 2 miles before turning around.  An interesting thing happened at that point.  Between miles 2 and 3, the leg started to feel better.  Maybe it was due to the blood flow, but the stiffness wasn't as bad.  It was still there, but better anyway.

I decided to continue on.  By now, I was mostly just focused on the leg.  It didn't get any worse and if anything, it might've become a little better as I approached mile 3.  I didn't want to walk back to the car for almost a mile, so I opted to keep going.  I figured that I could get a 4th mile in without too much trouble.

It would've been nice if the stiffness completely left, but at least I was doing better.  The pace continued to be rather easy, slow and comfortable.  I ran a short out and back from Riverview to finish up.

It was nice to get the mileage done and see where I'm at physically.  Unfortunately, I'm not completely over the problem, but at least I'm doing okay and can move on.  I may have to start working in some cross training.  I still felt terrible mentally after the run, but oh well.  Maybe that will come back in the next few days.

I'm taking it day by day now and have absolutely no plans going forward.  If this injury persists, it won't be the worst timing.  I have no real goals or ambitions right now anyway.  There are a couple races coming up, but they don't really excite me.

4 miles - 36:44 (9:11 pace)

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Short Run After Some Injury Issues

I clearly pushed myself too far last week.  I was hurting on Wednesday, but I tried to tough it out and finish the 10 miler.  I really should've cut it off around mile 7, if not sooner.  I paid big time for that decision.  The front of my left leg right above the ankle was very sore on Thursday.  I was limping around all day and Friday was only slightly better.

I couldn't walk well over the last few days, so I couldn't even think about running.  I iced and rested as much as I could.  I took 3 days off completely from running.  I still didn't feel 100% this morning, but I was light years better than the end of last week.

I felt good enough that I had to get out and run a little.  I needed to test things out.  The plan was a mere 3 miles.  I decided to head out to the Nor-Bath Trail in the afternoon.  I figured that maybe a softer surface would help too.

The weather was much better than it has been.  The temperature was around 40 degrees.  The only problem was that it was windy.  With a jacket on, I was fine.  I actually took my gloves and headband off fairly early on.  I'd be happy with this weather any day.

I started at Bicentennial Park.  I figured that I could run the entire 3 miles from there without even crossing a road.  Since I figured that the trail conditions would be sloppy, I wore my old shoes.  I don't think the new ones are causing the problem, because I had around 250 miles on them before any of the issues arose.  I can't rule that out either though.

The trail was a sloppy and wet mess, so the shoe selection was great.  The feet got a little wet, but it wasn't too bad.  At least things weren't snowy or icy.  I decided to head west to begin.  That way I wouldn't have to run into the wind for too long.

I felt great as I began.  I thought maybe I'd have some pain in the beginning, so I was thrilled with how I was doing.  I was so happy to be pain free.  I pumped my fist in joy.  I cruised along nice and easy; there was no reason to run hard.

I felt good as I got to the first road crossing.  I figured I might as well change plans and cross the road.  I got across it easily.  The next section was a little better, but still sloppy.  I ran out to a mile before turning around.

I started to feel some soreness as I approached the end of that first mile.  I carried on though.  It got a little worse as I continued on.  I considered stopping at 2 miles.  I don't want to overdo it. 

When I was close to finishing the second mile, I started running on my toes more.  That alleviated a lot of the soreness.  I just can't do that for too long.  I felt better as I cruised past the park.  I planned to continue out now. 

I ran out to 2.66 miles.  That meant that I'd have about a third of a mile left to finish up.  I did has some soreness as I finished that mile.  I never let it get too bad though.  The interesting thing is that where the soreness is located seems to have shifted.  Last week, it was more on the outside of the leg.  Today, I was having issues more directly behind the bone.

It was good to be done at 3 miles.  I walked back to the car without any issues.  The good news is that I was able to complete the run without any major issues.  The bad news is that I'm not 100% and could not have run much farther.  It looks like I'll need to rest even more this week.  All my runs will likely be short.  I might try to get on the bike to get some endurance training in and keep my fitness up.

Tomorrow, I'm not sure what I'll do.  Maybe I'll ride for a couple hours.  Maybe I'll do another short run too.  It might depend on how well I recover from today and how I feel tomorrow.  I'm grateful because this doesn't seem like it will be a long term problem.  I just have to be cautious with it.

3 miles - 25:42 (8:34 pace)

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Just Another Cold Day

Today was just another typical day around here.  It warmed up to almost 20 degrees with the windchill making it feel below 10 degrees.  The good thing was that it was so cold, that the temperature wasn't going to drop much after dark.  I was slow to get out there today, so I didn't start until 5:30 in the evening.  It was already dark by then.

Originally, I was hoping to make this a faster run.  However, the cold temperatures made me change my mind.  So did the fact that my left ankle area has been bothering me since the long run on Monday.  I still wanted to run 10-15 miles today though.

Since it was dark, I decided to stay local and run the neighborhoods again.  I put on my fleece vest, but my arms felt cold, so I swapped it out with my jacket.  I hoped that would break up the wind a little more.  It wasn't really windy, but any little breeze has an impact when it is this cold.

I skipped doing my usual loop around my neighborhood.  Instead, I headed straight for the other neighborhood.  It was a very cold start until I got warmed up.  These conditions are probably as bad as anything I've run in before this winter.  This winter, they seem normal.  It is so brutal.

I started with the one short loop.  I felt alright, but not fast.  I could feel my ankle area bothering me slightly.  In the cold, the pace was slow.  One thing I do like about running at night is that I don't look at my watch very often.

After that short loop, I ran the long main loop.  There were a lot of cars on the roads and although I had on a headlamp, I had to watch out.  I was wearing all dark clothes.  I passed some people walking throughout.  One guy with a dog, I almost didn't see any nearly ran into.

I got through the first 3 miles and already my ankle started bothering me.  It was most prominent when running uphill.  I notice that if I run on my toes, I feel much better.  I can only do that for so long though.  It wasn't killing me, but it was definitely annoying me.  I wonder if I am overcompensating for the minor issues that I've had on the top of my opposite foot.  I don't even notice that any more.

I wound up going from focusing mostly on how much the cold sucked, to thinking about my lower leg area.  I kept playing around with my stride.  It seemed fine on the downhill parts.

I battled and made it up the climbs.  There are quite a few of them on this rolling terrain.  I went around one of the other shorter loops that I like.  By the time I was done with that, I was really starting to struggle.  I gave up on the idea of running 15 miles and was shooting for 10 miles.  I wasn't even sure if I'd be able to do that.

I was at mile 7 and decided to keep at it until things got worse.  Eventually, I some how made it to mile 8 as well.  When I got back to the elementary school, it was 8.5 miles.  My pace had begun to slow thanks to the problem.  I figured by now I could tough it out and finish.

I opted to run the long loop through my neighborhood and a shorter one there as well.  For some reason, the leg/ankle felt fine for about a mile within this time period.  Maybe because I was nearly done with the run.  The last half mile was a struggle and my form was all over the place.  I was glad to finish and then I limped home.

I guess it is something that I'll have to monitor.  I'm going to try to work the tightness out.  That is really what the problem is.  It isn't painful, it feels like the muscle is tightening.  It kind of feels almost like a shin splint, but lower down my leg.

I still plan on running tomorrow, but if it continues to be a problem, I may need a rest day or two or three.  That would be disappointing because I want to get in another 70 miles this week.  However, I have to look at the big picture.  Now is the time to be cautious, not to push through problem areas.

10 miles - 1:26:17 (8:38 pace)

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Polar Vortex 10 Miler

I don't actually even know what a Polar Vortex is, but it sounds cool.  That is what we are having right now.  It is bringing some of the coldest temperatures on record.  Today was the worst day of all.  When I started my run, it was somewhere around 5 degrees with a windchill around -15 degrees.  Without a doubt this was the worst conditions that I've ever run it.

Of course I wasn't about to take the day off.  I had to at least try running in it and in fact, I wanted double digit miles.  I saw a couple friends did shorter runs during it earlier in the day.  That was encouraging.

I was about to head out and Flo said she was going to do some WDR training, so maybe we could meet up.  I would run first for a bit and then meet her and maybe we'd run together and I would watch her do some of her crazy stuff.

I was actually kind of overdressed.  I don't really have a good second pair of pants to wear as an additional layer, so I went with sweatpants over my tights.  For the top layer, I wore both my fleece and jacket over the regular top.  I also wore a face mask to keep my face warm.

I was comfortable as I headed out.  The plan was for 4 miles on my own before meeting Flo.  I went north toward Mill Race Park, from Penn Pump Park.  The trail was clear in the beginning.  Near Mill Race Park, it has some ice coverage.  That didn't slow me much though.

It was basically 2 miles until I got to the road crossing at Tatamy.  That was perfect.  The open section near Mill Race Park was absolutely brutal.  The wind was unbearable.  Elsewhere, it wasn't as bad.

What got kind of annoying was wearing the face mask.  It is hard to breath with that on and it gets moisture from your mouth, so it gets wet.  I took the mask down at times.  I bought it a few years ago, but I hate wearing it.

Another issue I was facing is that my legs didn't recover all that well from the tough long run yesterday.  Usually I can bounce back pretty good, even from a 20 miler.  They were definitely sore.  The front of my left leg actually hurt and I had to do most of the run on my toes.

I got back to the car at mile 4.  It was right around an 8:15 pace for this first part of the run.  I went in my car to warm up.  I then send Flo a text and it took some time for her to respond.  Finally, I decided I would run more until she was ready.

This time I headed out in the other direction toward Hackett's Park.  It was very windy going this way.  It was almost too difficult.  I battled though, knowing that I was only going out a mile and then I'd be coming back. 

I turned around right before the Crayola Factory and then I headed back.  This time the pace was much slower than initially.  One thing that was tricky is that my face mask was soaked, so I couldn't wear it on this trip.  I had to zip my fleece up higher and wear a regular winter hat.

I got back to Penn Pump Park.  I had run 2 more miles.  I saw Flo wasn't at the park, so I kept going.  I figured I could sneak in another mile.  That was a struggle going against the wind, but I got it done.  I had 7 solid miles in the book at that point.

I sent Flo another text and she was at Mill Race Park, so I had to drive there to meet up with her.  She looked funny all bundled up and with her training gear on too.  It was freezing at Mill Race Park.  She tried to run with her heavy pack, but that was short lived.  Since I needed mileage, I went ahead and ran on my own.  It was slow.

Because of the standing around and walking, my hands were freezing (even with gloves on).  I actually had to put them down my pants.  They were over my tights, but under my sweatpants.  That did the trick and warmed them up.  I must have looked ridiculous running that way though.  At least no one was on the trail. 

I turned around and ran back to Flo.  She was now near an intersection.  I was a little over a mile into this portion of the run when I stopped my watch.  I walked with her back into the woods.  She went looking for some logs to chop and did that.  I mostly stood there freezing and laughing.  I did use a saw for about a grand total of a minute though.

The sun was starting to set and standing around it was getting very cold.  I didn't want to bail on her, but I was getting close to needing to.  I came prepared to run, but I didn't have enough clothes on to stand around.  Finally, she was done with the chopping.

I took off and ran.  I wanted to get my last 2 miles in.  I ran to the road crossing again and then back to Mill Race Park.  I ended up passing Flo and then waited for her to walk back when I was finished.  It was good to be done with the tough weather run.

I'm glad I broke up the run into several segments and I got to be entertained by Flo too.  That was a nice bonus.  It made the cold a little more forgettable.  Quite frankly, it wasn't that bad while running.  It was far worse when not moving.  I'd run in these conditions again if we get them.

I think the weather is supposed to improve some, but still suck tomorrow.  I'd like to run hard, but we shall see.  The weather will have an impact, as will my muscle soreness.  Hopefully I recover from today better than I did from yesterday's run.

7 miles - 58:55 (8:25 pace)
3 miles - 30:35 (10:12 pace)

Monday, January 6, 2014

A Quick 20 Miles Against the Wind

The weather has been all over the map lately.  It went from snow to freezing rain.  Then it warmed up and went to rain.  Then the winds came and now it is supposed to dip into record low territory tomorrow.  It is making running difficult, but I continue to get out there and get it done.  It will make me stronger in the end.

I wanted to run the loop around Easton.  However, I was unsure if all the snow would be gone on those paved paths.  The roads are fine, but that is because everything was plowed.  A good portion of the snow is gone from the grass, but not all of it.  I figured the paved trails could have patchy snow cover.  I opted to do my long run around my neighborhoods.

I took an afternoon nap and didn't get out there until close to 4 PM.  That meant that the beginning of the run would be in daylight and I'd end in darkness.  I kind of like that mix.  It changes everything.

The temperature wasn't bad, but the wind had arrived and boy did it arrive.  Some directions it was at my back and nice.  Other ways, it was in my face and freezing.  Since wind was the main problem, I wore my jacket over my long sleeve shirt.  That breaks the wind up better than my fleece vest does.  My gloves were on most of the run, but my headband came on and off.  It was kind of annoying.

I started off with a loop around my neighborhood.  That was cold at times and took a little getting used to.  I haven't put too many miles on my legs lately.  Even so, they felt kind of crappy in the beginning.  It was odd, but the early pace was rather quick.  I opened with an 8:17 mile.  That is my usual pace in the middle of runs, so I knew it would be a faster run.

My effort was still easy, although maybe I pushed a little more than I realized against the wind and the hills.  I don't know though because I was definitely still at a conversational pace and not breathing heavy.  I felt good.  The run had gone into the other neighborhood by now.  I started it with the short loop.

I couldn't help but notice that my miles were getting faster and faster.  They went from 7:41 to 7:37 to 7:23 by mile 4.  That was when I really got into a groove.  I had run another shorter loop that I don't usually do.  I needed all of the miles that I could get. 

I went out and did this longer loop that I like.  It was difficult because I ran into a headwind for a good portion of it.  I battled on though and didn't lose my pace.  It now was consistently around 7:20 per mile.

I am used to this route, but it does contain a long of rolling hills.  I don't typically run anymore than 10 to 12 miles here.  I cruised along and enjoyed when the wind was at my back.  The good thing about this route is there are a lot of turns, so you are constantly changing directions and don't have to battle the wind for long periods of time.

I crossed the road and made the steepest climb of the run.  At this point, I was around mile 6 or 7.  It seemed like a long way to go.  I went back and repeated the long loop from earlier.  It is about 1.5 miles.  It's a good addition to the route.  I was still only at mile 9 when it started.

I was less than halfway done with the run, but things were getting tough.  The hills and fighting the wind began to take its toll.  My legs were sore and my back even began to get slightly sore.  It was certainly more difficult that my usual flat long run routes.

The pace didn't dip though.  Overall, it got closer and closer to 7:30.  That was encouraging and helped me keep pushing at it.  Getting over 10 miles was a plus.  I couldn't believe how little time had passed for how far along I was.

I headed back toward the school.  By now, it was starting to get dark and I was wearing dark clothes.  I was glad that I would be home soon and could grab some water and most importantly, my headlamp.  I ran the short loop for a second time.  Those two loops were the only ones that I repeated throughout the run (aside from my own neighborhood ones).

I saw a couple people running and a few walkers, but most people were indoors.  That was understandable with this weather.  I'm not going to pass it up though.

I checked my watch right around the half marathon point and it was a 1:38 something.  That's quite impressive for an easy effort, especially when my PR is a 1:33.  I could destroy that right now.

I ran around part of my neighborhood again.  I only did a shorter loop there this time.  I got back to my house at a little over 14.5 miles.  I was beat and badly needed a drink.  My rest was very brief.  I had run this segment at a 7:30 pace.

I knew keeping the pace up would be tough and I was happy to get in that many solid miles, so I backed off on my second go round.  I could finish with a real easy 5+ miles.  I went to the other neighborhood on the far side of the school.

This has one of the most difficult hills of the whole run.  It is so long and gradual.  Compacting the problem was that the wind was picking up and blowing right in my face.  I'm not sure how I survived it.  I took it one step at a time.  My legs were fairly beat up and I didn't think I'd be able to run 20 miles.  I figured I might stop at 18 miles or so.  If that happened, so be it.

I continued on and was grateful to have a downhill.  I usually like this part of the run, however the road through the industrial park was unusually busy.  I guess a lot of people were taking their kids to karate classes or something.  I had to be very mindful of traffic, even with a headlamp on.

I went out through the industrial park and turned around.  I decided that rather than run back on the busy road, I'd take a loop through a new street with houses on it.  That was a good option.  I still had some climbing on the busy road though.

I was approaching mile 18 and this climb into the wind was so difficult.  I was freezing and felt like I was being blown backward.  Miles 17 and 18 had jumped up to over an 8 minute pace each.  Still, I wasn't falling off the wagon too badly.  I sure didn't feel great, but not terrible either.

After mile 18, I had a beautiful downhill.  I knew that it was coming, so that kept me going on the uphill.  I picked up my effort slightly on the downhill.  I wanted to keep the overall pace under 7:40.  It had slipped to 7:38.  I ran mile 19 at 7:32.  Clearly I still had something left.

I got back to my neighborhood with about a mile to go.  I didn't want to run the big loop, so I opted for the slightly shorter loop and then followed that up with another even shorter loop to finish up.  I was pushing more now, but not really breathing that hard yet.  I could've given it more.  I ran that final mile at 7:19.

With the hills and wind, it was a tough run.  I was blown away by my speed.  I've basically been running around 30 seconds per mile faster with the same effort than I was just a few weeks ago.  Maybe that is the impact of all my big 70 mile weeks that I put in during December.  I really can't wait to see what happens when the weather turns.  I should be even faster.  I feel like I'm going to crush my marathon goals.

Tomorrow is supposed to be super cold.  I plan on being out there in the afternoon anyway.  I'd like to run 15 miles again.  That might depend on how cold it really is and how well I recover from today's run.  I want to at least put in another 10 miles.  That would have me off to a solid start for the week.  It will be another big mileage week.

20 miles - 2:32:15 (7:37 pace)

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Freezing Rain Run

Snowy, windy and cold runs have been the norm this winter.  The only thing that has been missing has been a little freezing rain.  We can check that off now today as well.  I got home late from the Eagles game last night and slept in.  That meant an early afternoon run.

The plan was to run at least 5 miles.  Originally, I was hoping for 10 miles, but that was before the freezing rain arrived.  I was actually driving out to the Ironton Rail Trail, but my windshield quickly froze up and I couldn't see, so I went back home to run.

I decided that I would run the neighborhoods around me.  With the freezing rain, I wore a jacket instead of the fleece.  I also had on a hat to keep the rain out of my eyes.  The temperature wasn't too bad.  It was just the eventual cold and wet combo that was a killer.

I began with the loop around my neighborhood.  I was worried that it would be slick, but it wasn't too bad.  Some spots I guess didn't have salt and they were slippery, but those were few and far between.

I crossed the road into the other neighborhood.  I did a short loop around there.  The first mile wasn't bad as I was still dry.  That wouldn't last though.  I got wet as the run went on.

I didn't want to go too far out, so I did another short loop that I don't often run.  By the time both of those first 2 loops were complete, I was over halfway done with the run (2.5 mile).  I decided to go out and run part of the Blue Eagle 5k course.  I ran that until I got near the race's 2 mile point and then I turned around.  By now, I'd be slightly around 4.5 miles when I got back to the school.

The tough thing was that my legs got cold when they were wet.  The same thing happened last week and I stayed out too long, so I didn't want to chance it.  With no wind it was find, but some directions, my legs became quite cold.  I probably should have on a second layer on my legs for conditions like this.

I arrived back at the school with around half a mile to go.  I thought about running to 6 miles, but figured 5 would be good enough.  What was another mile going to accomplish.  I figured I'd run again later in the evening anyway.

The pace was good.  The first mile was around 8:30, but every other mile was under 8 minutes.  Mile 4 was even a 7:29.  I wasn't pushing much either.

I finished up with a short loop around my neighborhood.  I was glad to battle some tough conditions and be done.  It is quite amazing that I signed up for the Lake Effect Half Marathon and now we are having one of the worst winters that I can recall.  This will make me tougher and prepared for that race.  That is for sure.

Everything was frozen after the run.  I couldn't even unzipped my jacket because it was covered in ice.  My hat had a layer of ice on it too.  I found it quite comical.

I wanted to do a 3 mile snowshoe run at night.  I was only going to run around the schoolyard.  However, I walked outside and it was raining again (after stopping earlier).  I didn't want to deal with that again.  I was hoping for a fun and relaxing run for a change.  I passed on the snowshoe run.  I'll leave that for another day. 

I haven't run double digit mileage in a few days.  I have to get back to that tomorrow.  The weather should be nicer, so I'm hoping for a 20+ mile run.  I may go to the Ironton Rail Trail since I at least know that that is plowed.  I hope it isn't icy.

5 miles - 39:01 (7:38 pace)

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Slightly Warmer

The snow yesterday was bad enough for us runners, but then it was followed up last night and today by bitter cold.  They were some of the lowest temperatures ever.  It was actually below zero degrees and that didn't even include the windchill.

With those temperatures and the lack of good places to run, I ended up passing up on the BCR run this morning.  I did kind of miss it because part of me wanted to run in those crazy temperatures.  I also didn't sleep well last night, so that was another reason to pass it up.  Props to those that were out there though.  It definitely looked crazy.

Originally, I was planning on about 10 miles.  Then when I saw the roads were still a little mess, I decided to cut it back to 5 miles.  That would give me over 40 miles for the week.  I passed on the 50k that I was signed up for this morning.  I didn't want to battle snow conditions and end up injuring myself.

Because I saw everyone's facebook posts earlier in the morning, I went out for my run overdressed.  I wore my jacket over top of my vest and long sleeve shirt.  That was too much.  The temperature still was only about 11 degrees out, but the sun was blazing and it wasn't windy.

I started off with a loop around my neighborhood.  As usual, my eyes watered early on from the cold.  The only difference was that they never stopped watering.  The sun was so bright and combined with the snow, I had to squint all run long.

There were patches of snow here and there, but the road was very runnable.  The wind was minimal, but you could feel the air was cold in a few directions.  I cruised along.  I had no idea what my pace was and I didn't care.

I decided after the first mile loop that I would head to the other neighborhood and I'd run the Blue Eagle 5k course.  I'd then end with a shorter loop around my neighborhood.

I ended up running all over the road.  Sometimes in the middle, sometimes on the side.  It all depended on where I could find clean pavement.  I only slipped once or twice.  I had to watch for cars, but thankfully there weren't many out there.

Around 2.5 miles, I opened up both my jacket and vest.  I felt some chafing issues potentially coming on and I didn't want to run into that problem.  The cool air on my base layer was surprisingly refreshing and I didn't close my jacket or vest again.

I didn't even notice my pace at all until I got to mile 3.25.  I looked down and was amazed that it was a 7:55 at the time.  I figured I was going slow and likely running in the upper 8 minute range.  This was faster than I usually am running on easy runs and I didn't put much effort into it.

I was thrilled to get to mile 4.  I was amazed to see it was a 7:27 mile.  The legs weren't feeling terrible at this point, but they definitely weren't sharp either.  The uphills were a little tough.

I knew I'd have about half a mile to go when I got back to my neighborhood.  That was almost dead on what I had remaining.  I did the short loop around there to finish up.  In the first loop earlier on a dog on its leash wanted a piece of me, but this time I had a peaceful finish.

It was a solid run to end a productive week.  I had a great race to end the year, a fun LVRR group run to start the New Year and my first snowshoe run.  Cutting my mileage this week will probably be better in the long term.  I'll get back to big miles next week.  I may run hills with a friend tomorrow and I'll also likely go for another snowshoe run.  It should be fun.

5 miles - 38:42 (7:44 pace)

Friday, January 3, 2014

First True Snowshoe Run

I tested out the snowshoes that I got for Christmas last night.  That was only a brief mile run though.  Today, I wanted to do more of a real run.  The roads were a mess anyway, so running in the snowshoes was the best option.

I decided I would start by keeping it easy.  I'd just run a 5k at Jacobsburg.  I haven't been there in some time.  I was glad that they plowed the parking lots.  It was supposed to be pretty cold and windy, but for whatever reason, it was kind of nice there.  I had on a face mask and a jacket over my vest and regular top.  Not all of those layers were needed though.

The biggest key to this run was to make sure I put on the snowshoes correctly.  Last night, they were loose and came undone.  Today, I figured out how to secure them and it worked out very well.

According to the park map you aren't supposed to use the trail down by the creek for cross country skiing, so I assumed the same thing for snowshoe running.  That area is overused and can get icy in the winter time anyway.  Instead, I walked across the street from the parking lot to the trail.

I secured my shoes and began to go.  The problem with starting here is that it is a tough uphill to begin.  Not the ideal way to begin my first snowshoe run.  It is what it is though.

I went nice and easy.  I didn't know how taxing this would be, especially since my snowshoes are kind of big and made for hiking, not running.  It went pretty well, even though it was a slow go.

The run was so peaceful and relaxing.  It was beautiful out there on the snow covered trails, especially with the sun shining brightly.  Almost no on had been on the trails yet either.  I was blazing the way.

The run was harder than a normal run, but not too difficult.  It just seemed to take awhile until I got to the end of the first mile.  Crossing over the creek on the bridge was really cool.  It was such amazing scenery.

This section has small hills, but nothing too bad.  The only thing that was bothering me was that the bottom of my feet were getting sore on the uphill parts of the run.  I often have this problem when running trails in normal conditions, so that was no surprise.  It could limit how far I run in the future though.

I was running out of trail options and I was only out a little over a mile into the run.  I decided to run through a narrower singletrack section.  This taught me an important lesson.  I need to run in snowshoes on smooth trails.  I didn't see the rocks hidden under the snow and often stepped on them awkwardly and twisted my ankle.  That was very uncomfortable.

I didn't last too long in this section.  I decided it was smarter to go back and run on the smoother sections.  Any time I found a short out and back opportunity, I used it to add mileage.

I brought my GoPro with me to take photos.  On the way back, I was able to get some cool photos of my snowshoe prints from the way out.  I didn't run in those, I started a second set.  Some of this time going back was difficult.  There was more uphill and I was breathing heavily and my foot was hurting.  I recovered soon enough once I got to the flats and downhill portions of the route.

I was thrilled to get past mile 2.  When I had the chance, I took an upper route to the red barn.  That wasn't too difficult and allowed me to add about half a mile to run.  I'd now be close to 3 miles when I finished up.

I retraced my path and headed back toward the start.  Now, I had about half a mile to go and I was cruising.  My pace was quite consistent throughout.  It was right around a 10:30.  Hopefully in my lighter running snowshoes, I'll be even faster.

I twisted my ankle a few more times, but I never fell.  I had a blast with the run.  I got to the end of the trail around the 3 mile point.  I ran back out very briefly before finishing up.

This was an awesome run and I can't wait to do it again.  It was refreshing after a lot of cold boring miles on pavement recently.  The workout was solid too.  I was definitely more beat than a normal easy effort 5k, but it wasn't too taxing because it was still a short run.  I can't wait to run in snowshoes again and I really can't wait until I get my new Dion ones.  Hopefully they will come next week.

Tomorrow, I want to get back onto pavement before the Eagles game.  It is supposed to be one of the coldest nights ever tonight, so I'm not sure that I'm going to run with the BCR early in the morning.  I may run on my own later in the morning.  Either way, it should be a nice way to finish the week.  Sunday I'm hoping to run some hills and maybe use the snowshoes again later on in the day.

3.1 miles - 32:32 (10:30 pace)