The Secret Sauce

From my Soft Run newsletter:

The fun was meeting a pal from Instagram. 
The fun was running on some new trails. 
The fun was seeing some great puppers. 
Clapping for a guy riding his mountain bike up a big giant hill.

Always good to remind myself of why I go running at all. It’s not the paces, or the mileage – it’s the magic that I get witness when I do it consistently. That’s it. I would have missed all of the above if I stayed home today.

Running With The Past

This weekend I didn’t get out for any adventures. It was too hot at night, so I slept horribly, which meant I wasn’t well rested, so I didn’t want to over-exert myself and burn myself out. Better to be safe and healthy, I guess.

After working for a few hours at my local Starbucks, I hit the Bartram Trail, the trail head being less than half a mile away. I always make sure to get a cup of water when I’m doing these post-Starbucks runs, just to make sure I’m hydrated.

The trail is six miles out, six miles back, with a steady 0.5 to 1% incline for the first mile. I’ve never actually done the full trail yet on foot, so just did 30 minutes out to make it 30 minutes back, to get in a nice hour long effort. Low and slow, average pace was 11:48, to keep that heart rate down given the heat (86 ℉, 50% humidity). And really, every run doesn’t have to be hard. This was just enjoying time in the woods, in the shade, running past rocks that have been on earth for 480 million years.

Always nice to get in a post-work run.

Five Years Running

“I just wanna be in good enough shape to go on last minute adventures,” is how my buddy Jesse (above) puts it. He said this on Monday, on the observed 4th of July, and said a few years back during the 24 hour Loopy Looper in NJ, when I ran a few laps with him on a hot summer day.

A few days later is was stupid hot, but I’ve been deciding lately that instead of simmering and sulking in the heat, I’m gonna rush head first into it. In the 90s and humid? Fine. I’m gonna go out, take my time, sweat my ass off, and find a way to enjoy it. Slow and low. Lots of liquids. Walk when I gotta.

To wrap up this work week, I closed my laptop and set off for a loop I never did before. Still hot, still slow, but it was a solid 6+ mile run, and a nice way to finish off a shortened week of work, which is actually five days of work crammed into four.

It’s been five years of running. Just over 1,000 runs, almost 4,100 miles. Haven’t run a marathon yet, but I ran 18 miles in one shot. Ran a sub eight minute mile once, and came in second in a local 5K. Had a lot of fun adventures with good people, ran in a few different cities.

I turned 45 this year, and I’m feeling pretty fucking good.

The Heat Is On

Wrote a bit about running in the heat, over at The Soft Run:

We’re human, and we’re squishy (sometimes soggy). We’re made of red blood cells, not slabs of steel that arrange nicely on a blue-print.

Check it out here.

Not All Runs Will Be Blissful

New piece for The Soft Run:

A good run is like a good day; it’s not pure bliss, but a bunch of good moments all added together.

Check out the full piece here.

As much as I want a run to wash away all my problems, and be this big glowing orb of joy in a world filled with grimness, it’s just usually not the case. Not the entire run, of course. There’s usually a mile, or a section, or a hill, or a stretch, where the run feels great, effortless, and without bounds.

It comes, it goes.

I’ve had one run that I can remember, a small local 5K, where it all came together. Came in second overall. It was nuts. But that one run is a needle in a haystack of 1000s of runs since 2016.

And the wild part is this – it’s still worth it. I moved from third to second in like, that last 500′ or so. It was wild.

It took a whole lot of ugly, bad, gross runs to get there. I guess I’ll keep going.

Head to the Hills

I woke up today and my Whoop band said I was 95% recovered, my highest ever. So I set off a new route, with lots of hills, and felt… GREAT.

Since I’ve been doing around 50+ miles a week on Zwift on the bike, this run felt secure. Like, when it was starting to hurt, the miles and hours I’ve been riding have sort of shown me that I could handle it.

That’s the thing with running and biking and hiking – it’s not entirely easy. That’s what makes a different from eating a pint of ice cream (which I also did this week this weekend – it was my birthday).

There’s balance, too.

Eat the ice cream, just not every night.

Go for the 5.5 hilly run, just not every run.

Strain, rest, recover, repeat.

Running the Tortoise and Hare 5K Again

I ran the Tortoise and Hare 5K in Wind Gap, PA back on Memorial Day in 2018. What a differern time that was! Two things stand out; the Memorial Day picnic food spread – best I ever had! And the military person there doing the National Anthem (meh), she was introduced with her partner; a woman. I loved that.

Back then I wrote this on Instagram, from May 30, 2018:

Hey pals – thanks for putting up with my running nerd stuff in addition to my metal nerd stuff. This is me from Monday smiling like a goof because we all raised $260 for Project Child in the Lehigh Valley, then I ran a sub 30 minute (barely) 5K and ate vanilla cream cookies.

So they’re doing it in-person again this year. I did a 10 mile trail race back in October, so let’s see how this goes. THey’re limiting it to just 200 people. I’m also raising money again this year (you can do that here), help out if you can.

My time from 2018: 29:09 (9:24 mile), 118th out of 329, 70th male out of 136, and 6th out of 12 for my age group. This year I’ll be in the 45-49 age group! Moving on up! My goal is to hit 25 minutes this year, around 8 minute miles (my best 5K was in 2019, at 25:25).

Saturday Brunch

Since I’m sleeping so well lately, I’m actually recovering well, too. Seriously, the past few months I’ve felt wrecked, and oh my god, I feel great now.

Could I really head out for 1400′ of elevation over 6.5 miles on dirt roads? Well, only one way to find out.

Took me about 30 minutes to get to the top of the first climb, which is a bit slow for me, but whatever. I walked most of it – it’s mostly all 10% grade, and upwards of 15% in places. Figured I’d save my energy since I never attempted this route before.

Made it to the top! That’s the Appalachian Trail, heading north. I think the next trail head there is Palmerton, PA.

Now it’s time to head down the northern side of the mountain, which I’ve never done before.

I mean, it was gorgeous. Windy – I wish I wore my jacket at this point, but I survived. Had my first GU Energy gel while descending, and wow – that got all over my fingers and felt sticky like maple syrup. And it was very sweet. Like, I felt like I needed to brush my teeth afterwards. I usually use Spring Energy for food on longer runs (for me that’s 1.5+ hours), and wow… I miss them already.

This road goes out to Route 309, just another half mile down the road (to the right in this picture, not in the direction I’m facing here). Didn’t feel like testing if I had the extra mile in the tank, so back up the mountain we go!

Yea, that’s a “Fuck Your Feelings” banner there. So welcoming!

This side was much easier to climb. Still walked a bunch, but the grade was a little more forgiving.

In all, a good run. Took 1:25 to go 6.5 miles, with a total of 1,416ft of elevation.

Help Daryl Murphy Build Free Libraries

Daryl Murphy has ran a 5K every day for over 265 days in honor, and silent protest to the murder of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Elijah McClain and way too many others who’ve been killed by police. Now he’s onto his third fundraiser, using his running for another great cause:

The goal of Miles For Justice III is to raise $10,000 to bring 10 Little Free Libraries filled with books that feature POC authors and POC characters into communities with limited book access. Each library will be placed in a highly visible location with ample foot traffic that’s easily accessible for all members of the community.

Right now he’s at about $1,000, so if you can contribute, do it. If you can’t just share the link: https://pledgeit.org/milesforjustice/