September 2015 – Month in review

Septmber 2015 – Nike+ Summary

September 2015 – Nike+ Summary

Another busy month. According to my Nike app I ran 143 miles and my MapMyFitness calendar showed I had a total of 207 miles (143 miles running, 62 miles cycling and 2 miles swimming). 

September - Map My Fitness

September – Map My Fitness

This month included the Hightstown Triathlon, my 3rd(ish) and last triathlon of the year and also the last few weeks of training for the Marine Corps Marathon so plenty of training during the month in preparation.

Fall definitely made an appearance during the month but luckily it was still fairly warm during the triathlon so I was able to enjoy the last days of summer. Our boys went back to school, my youngest is now in Kindergarten so both boys are together again at the local elementary school.

My two guys heading into school together

My two guys heading into school together

Also, as he has now moved up to Kindergarten, he is now at Sunday school every week vs every other week like last year. This allowed my wife and I to have 3 hours together on Sunday mornings so we were able to get some marathon training in together which was a great as we probably hadn’t had a chance to run together as a couple since the Pittsburgh Marathon back in May.

Nice opportunity to get out on the trail together

Nice opportunity to get out on the trail together

We’ve been taking the opportunity to get some of the long runs in along the Delaware Canal as it is fairly flat but very close to where we take the kids for Sunday school so we can save some time. It’s been great running there as the temperatures have cooled. We changed our route up a bit this year and crossed over the Delaware River at Washington’s Crossing so we ran both on the Pennsylvania side and the New Jersey side. Just to mix things up. On one of the times we were running together we crossed back to the PA side and saw a group of Revolutionary War re-enactors walking around Washington Crossing Park. We got a bit of a surprise when they started shooting off muskets and it didn’t really help when we ran through the park and my wife pointed out to them that I was British…thanks Babe, appreciate that.


The British are running...the British are running...

The British are running…the British are running…

Work is ramping up again so I am back to traveling for a while and finding some time to squeeze my training in. I find fitting the swim training in a bit more difficult as I’m not close to my gym but I did manage to find an LA Fitness near the hotel in Atlanta to allow me to get a swim day in before the triathlon. My triathlon races are done for now for this year and once I am back home during the winter months I can ramp that up again with plans for next year.

So we end the month just a few weeks away from our big race of the year, the Marine Corps Marathon. My wife and I are really looking forward to running this together. We will be travelling down without the boys this time around as it is going to be a pretty quick trip. I definitely want to take them next summer to visit the museums and enjoy the sites. That will be a fun vacation. We can scope it all out as we are running along the route.

My upcoming race calendar should now be set through the end of the year (perhaps):

October 25 – Marine Corps Marathon (Washington, DC) – This will be our first time running this event.

October 31 – Rock and Roll Philadelphia Half Marathon – I ran this event on my own in 2012 and as a couple in 2013 and 2014.

November 1 – Cooper Norcross Run the Bridge (Camden, NJ) – I ran this event for the first time in 2013.

November 22 – Philadelphia Marathon – In 2011 this was my first marathon and also the first where I broke 4 hours in 2012. My wife and I ran this together in 2013.

November 26 – Bucks County Road Runners Thanksgiving 5 Miler (Langhorne, PA) – We try to run this every year (since we started running) and only missed it last year by being out of town. Here is my last recap of that race.

Looking forward to October and beyond. Thank you for reading.

November 2013 – month in review

November 2013 -  Nike+ Summary

November 2013 –
Nike+ Summary

128 miles this month but a very busy month.

I had been focusing my training on running the 2013 Philadelphia Marathon and strictly following the Hal Higdon Intermediate 1 training plan but somehow I managed to sign up for and schedule two races in the two weeks leading up to the marathon itself and one just over a week after. Yes, two races during the time I should have been tapering. Luckily they both went off without a hitch as did the marathon and I also managed to earn a PR in one event.

The weather was a big factor in each of the races I ran during November. The first race was the Benjamin Franklin Bridge 10K run. It was a cold start but I managed to warm up enough to earn a new 10K PR. I don’t run many 10K distances so it was one of my longer standing goals that I had to beat. I felt good on the day and just went for it.

The following week was the Trenton Half Marathon. It was a really nice course and I ran the race with my wife. We had a wonderful time despite the very cold weather. There was a delay at the start line due to a clock issue and so we stood around in the cold. It took me a couple of miles to feel my feet. All was good in the end. The goal was to do no harm as we were both running the marathon the following week and we stuck to that plan.

On Marathon day itself we ran in t-shirt and shorts. We lucked out for sure with the weather and again it was a wonderful race. It was my 6th marathon (3rd Philly Marathon) and my wife’s 2nd marathon (she ran the 2013 Walt Disney World Marathon with me back in January this year). We had a marvelous time together. Running 26.2 miles with your spouse is definitely both an enjoyable time and a test of how much we support each other. We are already looking to 2014 for another marathon together.

As the Philadelphia Marathon was a week earlier than usual this year I had a decent recovery week before we toed the line for the annual Turkey Trot 5 mile race that my running club hosts. This year my parents had flown in from the UK to join us on the day, taking our boys on the one mile fun run/walk. The temperatures were frigid. It was probably the coldest I had been all year. I had three layers on and was still shaking. Needless to say I warmed up with a nice fast time with my wife setting the pace and me following a step behind her.

With November ending I am now focused on the upcoming Dopey Challenge at Walt Disney World which is (at the time of writing) just over 5 weeks from now. I have spent the first two weeks following the marathon in ‘recovery’ mode, the next four weeks are the intense training weeks and then I will have about a week and a half to taper. Luckily I am spending a few days in Florida on the Gulf Coast perfectly timed (through a happy accident) for the longest runs of the training plan. Altogether my time in Florida will cover about 60 miles of running including one 20 mile long run which I am doing during the 8 weeks between marathons. I am looking forward to some sunshine.

Thank you for reading.

2013 Run The Bridge race recap

2013 Run The Bridge

2013 Run The Bridge

Yesterday I took part in the ‘2013 Cooper Norcross Run The Bridge 10K’ race. This is a race across the Benjamin Franklin Bridge spanning the Delaware River between New Jersey and Pennsylvania and then through the streets of Camden, New Jersey and along the waterfront before finishing in Campbell’s Field home of the Camden River Sharks baseball team.

This was the first time I have run this race although my wife has run this the last two years and my father-in-law has also run this event a few times. This was also a 10K race and I do not seem to run many of these. My PR for a 10K was set back in August 2011 of 52:07 at the Philadelphia LiveStrong Challenge. I hadn’t run a 10K race since then. I had it in the back of my mind that I was going to see how I felt given that I was 16 weeks into marathon training and if I felt okay I was going to go for a new PR. I wanted to see what I had in my legs going into the marathon and still I had a couple of weeks left for recovery and rest (the dreaded taper) before race day of the marathon.

We set our clocks back on Saturday night which provided an extra hour of sleep (not that I really took advantage of it) and the plan was to meet up with my father-in-law, my sister-in-law and her new fiance (see what I did there Mike?) at a central meeting point and drive down to the starting line together at the baseball stadium to pick up our race numbers and packets. Needless to say not all of us set our clocks to the correct time (not mentioning anyone in particular) but the good news is that we were all together before the race with our numbers on and ready to go.

All of us pre-race with the Benjamin Franklin Bridge as our backdrop.

All of us pre-race with the Benjamin Franklin Bridge as our backdrop.

I had done a 10 mile training run early on Friday morning and the weather was great. I was running in a t-shirt and shorts. What a difference a couple of days make. I woke up to find it was about 40 degrees and the wind made it feel about 10 degrees less. I dressed in my winter gear (tights, long sleeve shirt, gloves and a beanie). I wasn’t sure if I should wear an half zip over my t-shirt but I thought if I was pushing it I was better a little too cold than too hot as that would impact how I felt during the race.

Meeting the Camden River Sharks team mascot 'Finley' the shark before the race

Meeting the Camden River Sharks team mascot ‘Finley’ the shark before the race

We wished each other luck and headed for the walk to the start line. I wanted to get a little ahead so I wouldn’t get stuck in the pack and everyone was fine with that (they probably prefered that but I’ll say it was to encourage me, right?). The start line is at the base of the bridge on the New Jersey side. It’s probably a half mile walk from the stadium up to the start line. I had not eaten before the race so I had a Gu (yummy Salted Caramel) with me and a bottle of water and headed out.

I had turned my Garmin off when I was inside the stadium bathrooms as it had lost its signal and when I went to turn it back on it crashed. I rebooted it twice on the walk up to the start line. No good. Uh oh. I had also forgotten to stretch while I was getting my gear together and checking my bag. As I still had a few minutes I pulled over to the side of the road, rebooted my watch a third time and did my stretches. Third time was the charm with the Garmin. Well, almost. It had reset itself completely. I quickly set the watch up from scratch and changed the display to what I needed for the race (Distance/Time/Average Pace) and headed to the start. Once at the start line you actually had to jump a barrier to cross to the start line. I did that very carefully.

Wearing an extra layer at the start line waiting for signal to go.

Wearing an extra layer at the start line waiting for signal to go.

There was a decent crowd at the start. I think in total there were about 3,200 runners. What you see from the start line is the climb up the bridge. Nothing too exciting really. It was pretty crowded. Having run the Golden Gate Bridge earlier this year and having driven this bridge many times I remembered that you cannot really see much over the sides especially from the center lane of the bridge which was where I started.  The starting horn sounded and off we went. Not much time for selfies or bridge shots when you are aiming for a PR so this will pretty much be a recap and you’ll have to take my word for what I saw on route 🙂

View from the start line

View from the start line

The run up the bridge was pretty crowded as expected. It took almost the first mile to really start spreading the crowd out so there was quite of bit of weaving for me at the begining. I know it’s a bad habit of mine but I wasn’t as far up as I really needed to be among the pack of runners. Once I had reached the crest of the bridge for the first time I was able to let loose a little on the downhill section. I was wearing my Jeff Galloway Gymboss timer but I ignored the first couple of walk breaks as I wanted to get into position for the race and I felt okay. I was pushing hard but it was comfortable.

The turnaorund is at the base of the bridge on the Philadelphia side and then you are faced with running back up the bridge again. Honestly I just put my head down and didn’t think about the incline. I was running comfortable and it didn’t seem to bother me. There was a water stop on the way back across the bridge so I took my first walk break which was a little out of sequence but I took it for the full 40 seconds and then headed up the bridge and down into Camden.

Once across the bridge the race seemed to be pretty flat for a while. There were a couple of turns and I wasn’t sure when the next water stop would be so I took a walk break only to find the water stop around the corner. Ugh. Well, never mind, I can run and drink at the same time but I am useless at making the trash with an empty cup while running. As we were now running on the city streets and were sheltered from the wind it started to feel warm. I was still wearing my beanie and gloves so I pushed my sleeves up a little and rolled the beanie up to let me ears out.

The race along the streets was fine and then we turned and headed towards the navy yards entering it through a back entrance. This took us up to the waterfront where we ran alongside the pier where the SS New Jersey now stands as a museum. At the waterfront the wind picked up and I’m glad I had my warm gear on. From there pier the race headed up a small incline and down back to the streets of Camden. My time was going well and I felt that it was going to be possible to run a new goal under 50 minutes. We turned to the left and I saw the stadium and was thrilled that I could see the finish line location up ahead and my time was great. What I hadn’t done was read the course map correctly. D’oh! We didn’t run directly back to the stadium but took a turn right and ran around some rehabed condos and approached the stadium from another angle. Was I going to make it in goal time?

I entered the stadium into right field and the finish line was in left field. I dug deep and ran to the finish line. I hit my watch and it read 49:08:55 (49:09 was my official time). I felt great. I didn’t hurt and I made a goal that I set myself. Here is my Garmin file with the map and my splits

New 10K PR

New 10K PR

The event was run for the benefit of the Larc School. The students of the school were on hand to hand out the medals to the runners. From there I grabbed my water and goodie bag, picked up my checked bag, stretched and headed down to the finish line area to wait for everyone to finish. I grabbed a good spot and was able to cheer everyone on and get some great pictures of everyone coming down the chute to the finish line.

A big shout out to my father-in-law who was running a race after a lay off from running for about a year. He looked good and said he felt good after the race so I’m pretty happy about that as is he. Mike and Rina ran into the stadium with smiles on their faces (I think they knew I was taking pictures) but as far as I know they had fun. Mike is running with my wife and I in next week’s Trenton Half Marathon so I am looking forward to running alongside him for the first time then. I like racing with family and friends. It is rare that I really go all out for a PR but as I made my goal today I felt justified for being solo. There will be many races I run to be with others but there are the occassional challenges I set myself. Today was one of those days and it felt great.

Mike running in

Mike running in

Looking good - my Father-in-law running in

Looking good – my father-in-law running in

Rina - all smiles

Rina – all smiles

The race itself was fun. There was no expo for this race. Packet pickup was from a local running store in South Jersey but seeing as none of us were able to get there we did race day pickiup (as it seems most people did). There was also a walk and a Kids race but as I was running I didn’t get to see how these went. Everyone seemed to have fun and the ability to park in the stadium parking lots, walk up and get your number on the day and check a bag was really convenient. I’d recommend this race for anyone looking for a fun 10K.

New 10K PR -  2013 Benjamin Frankling Bridge Run

New 10K PR –
2013 Benjamin Frankling Bridge Run

Thanks for reading.

Marathon Training – Week 16

Week 16 Training

Week 16 Training

Week 16 is now complete. There are less than 2 more weeks to go to the Philadelphia Marathon.

I’ve really enjoyed my training for this year’s Philadelphia Marathon. Maybe it is because I’ve done this a few times now but coming off the feeling I had after this year’s New Jersey Marathon in May I have put a lot less pressure on myself and set out to enjoy this race.

My overall training mileage was about 10 miles less this week. I did manage to get out and cross train on Monday and luckily I took my workout indoors as this was the only day that rain would have impacted the workout.

The Tuesday through Thursday runs felt good and were uneventful (which is what you want at this stage in the training). It was a little foggy and cold (I was wearing my winter gear again) but it started to warm up on Thursday and was actually near 70 when we went out Trick or Treating with our kids on Thursday evening.

This weekend I was supposed to rest on Friday, do a 4 mile pace run on Saturday and an easy 12 mile run on Sunday. Of course our weekend plans did not allow for such a schedule but I moved my week to match the mileage and accommodate a race.

On Friday I ran (in t-shirt and shorts no less) a nice 10 mile run early before work. I needed to get this workout in as Saturday we were heading to Hershey Park with the boys.  On Sunday I had the Benjamin Franklin Bridge 10K run which I decided would be a goal PR race (which I accomplished in 49:09). I will be doing a separate race recap for this.

One thing I have done everyday since I started my journey back in August 2010 is to record my calorie intake. Can you guess which day this week I went to Hershey Park which included a slight detour to Hershey’s Chocolate World? 🙂

Hmmm....which day was I at Hershey's Chocolate World?

Hmmm….which day was I at Hershey’s Chocolate World?

The race was a great finish to a great week of running. I ran hard and felt good. Week 16 is done and now we continue the taper to week 17 which includes the upcoming Trenton Half Marathon.

New 10K PR -  2013 Benjamin Frankling Bridge Run

New 10K PR –
2013 Benjamin Frankling Bridge Run

Here is the countdown:

1 week until the Trenton Half Marathon

2 weeks until the Philadelphia Marathon

9.5 weeks until the Dopey Challenge (the event starts on a Thursday so I revised the countdown)

Thanks for reading.