I ran 10 miles this morning, in spite of not feeling quite 100%. My pesky (but productive) cough returned yesterday, as well as some sort of weird acid reflux that started during yesterday’s bike ride, although the latter seems to have abated. This morning, I woke up with a mild sinus headache, which went away after I got moving. I felt fine for most of the run, and managed a pace of 10:43/mile and cadence of 183 steps/minute, both of which are about normal for me for a run of this distance. I was my first 10-mile run in just over 3 weeks, and I was definitely dragging a little bit for the final 2.5 miles or so, although overall, I felt like I finished strongly. Hoping I can get back into running this distance on a weekly basis.
I finally felt like I was back at 100% for this morning’s run. I covered 8.7 miles at 10:35/mile and 183 steps/minute. My energy felt good throughout the run, and unlike my past couple of times out, did not feel tired or lethargic afterwards. I believe that the lethargy may have partially been a hydration issue. I have not been carrying water with me recently, because of the cooler temperatures, but today, I’ve been making an effort to drink a bunch of water over several hours following the run. There’s a nor’easter blowing through today, but I got out ahead of the rain, and only had to deal with some sprinkles. I’ll probably take a shorter run on Thursday (Thanksgiving Day) and then, if all goes well, I’ll shoot for a 10-miler on Saturday.
As I alluded to several weeks ago, I’ve converted Monday into a telecommute day during the winter months (likely until March, when we go back on Daylight Saving Time). It works out well with my Monday evening climbing, and also gives me an opportunity to do something other than running or bike commuting one morning per week. Yesterday, I took a mountain bike ride ahead of today’s rain. I was out for a while longer than I had planned, but I did check out the new Bloede Dam Trail, which runs from Garrett’s Pass out to Ilchester Road on the Howard County side of PVSP, with a shortcut down to the River Road Trail at about the midway point. The second half, past the shortcut, has some incredible views, but some of it is well above my skill level. I’ll be happy if I can eventually get to the point where I can ride most of it, but it’ll take some practice.
I felt much more like myself running today than I had in the past couple of weeks. It was my first run in 4 days, mainly due to my schedule. I still have a nagging cough, but it has kind of gotten to where it’s more of a nuisance than an impediment to activity. Today’s weather was in the upper 40s with a slight breeze, and I wore long running pants, a long sleeve light wool running shirt, a windbreaker, calf compression sleeves, crew-height wool Injinji toe socks, a fleecy headband, and Vibram V-Runs. I did not wear gloves, and did not miss them today (they’re usually the first thing I end up taking off in this kind of weather). I ran 7.5 miles at a pace of around 10:50/mile and average cadence of 182spm. I felt like I could finally take deep breaths again without tripping my cough reflex, and I had more energy and was able to get my average heart rate up a little bit higher. It’s obvious that I’ve lost some conditioning over the past two weeks, but I feel like I now have the energy to start work on building that back up. I stopped a little bit shy of the end of my route, because I was starting to tire, and felt like I had already gone far enough. In spite of that, I was really happy with this run. My plan for the week ahead is to run Tuesday, Thursday, and probably Saturday, so I’ll see if I can continue to improve.
I took my third run in the past 4 days this morning, as I attempt to recover from my latest illness. I ran 5.35 miles at 11:09/mile, which is nowhere near 100%, but an improvement over Sunday and Monday. Of note is that instead of my usual Vibram V-Runs, I ran in Xero HFS with a pair of wool socks. The temperature was in the low 40s, and this combination seemed to keep my feet a little bit warmer. On the flip side, my cadence was slightly down (177spm) and the front of the toe box got “hung up” a few times — not really enough to trip me up, but something I’m going to have to keep an eye on as I start take more runs in colder weather. It may be that my Xero Terraflex trail shoes, which are more rigid but fit my feet a little bit better, end up being better winter running shoes than the HFS. We’ll see.
Also today, I went back to using my Polar heart rate monitor. I had stopped using it because I was starting to have difficulty getting it to pair with my Apple Watch. I put a fresh CR2025 battery in it last night, after which it paired easily, so I’m hoping that was the problem. The watch’s built-in HRM had been working OK for me in lieu of the Polar, but more recently, for some reason, it has been flaky at the beginnings of my runs. It seems to take anywhere between 10-20 minutes before it registers an accurate heart rate, and during that time, it either registers no heart rate at all, or gives an inaccurately high reading (usually 175-180bpm). Oddly enough, this only seems to happen during running workouts; I have no issues with cycling workouts, walks, or the periodic readings the watch takes throughout the day. It eventually will correct itself and give an accurate reading for the rest of the run, but the initial flakiness was enough to get me to switch back to the Polar, which worked great for me today.
I’m fighting my way through my second cold in as many months. This latest one has been worse than last month’s. I think I picked it up at the Ravens/Seahawks game a couple of weekends ago. It has featured the worst cough I’ve had in probably several years. In fact, the cough was the initial symptom — I never got a sore throat. Sinus impacts have also been minimal — I had a stuffy nose for maybe 2 or 3 nights. It laid me up for a couple of days with fever, chills, and cold sweats, to where I thought it might be flu, but I think the fever went away too quickly for it to have been flu. Then again, maybe it was flu, but the flu shot I got in September reduced the severity. I do know that it wasn’t COVID, unless the test I took gave me a false negative. The main story has been the cough. In the beginning, it was wheezy and unproductive, but it has become productive in the past day or two, which has me crossing my fingers that it’s finally on its way out.
The other thing this cold has done is to completely sap my energy. After spending last Thursday and Friday lying around doing nothing, I managed to get the swimming pool winterized on Saturday, over the course of the entire day, with frequent breaks. Sunday, I tried running, and struggled to complete 3 miles at 12:30/mile. Monday (yesterday), I ran again, with only slight improvement: I was exhausted after 3 miles, but managed a pace of 11:30. The silver lining was that my form and cadence seemed pretty good both days, which tells me that my running biomechanics are improving, as I’m no longer sacrificing form for less important things like pace.
This morning, I took the new hard-tail mountain bike back out. It was my first time on a bike in a week. While I was slower than usual, and got winded more easily, it was not a bad ride overall. It was more enjoyable than either of this week’s runs, but that’s not saying much. I have to say that I’m really impressed with how well this bike performs on technical climbs. There’s a trail in the PVSP Avalon Area called “Water Bars”, which is a rocky ascent straight up the river bank, with a few wooden erosion barriers along the way (the namesake “water bars”). I’ve struggled for years to get all the way up this trail on my full suspension bike without stopping or putting my foot down, but I have never quite succeeded. Today, I tried it for the first time with the hard tail, and rode right up it. It didn’t even seem very difficult, and this was in spite of my being under the weather. I’ll still take full suspension any day for descents, but the hard-tail is the clear winner when it comes to going uphill. I just need to get back to the point where I can do it without getting winded!
I had a really bad run yesterday. I went just under 6 miles, but both my pace and cadence were plodding, and I struggled almost the entire way. My right leg and calf were tightening up as I finished. Overall, it was not an enjoyable run. I think the main reasons were a lack of sleep the previous night, and possibly lack of hydration. I had run 10+ miles 48 hours earlier, but I don’t think that was an issue. I’m drinking more water today, and I slept better last night, but still am operating on a deficit over the past two nights. The elephant in the room is that I also have this weird dry cough today, which I’m hoping doesn’t mean I’m getting another cold. If I am, though, that might be another explanation for dragging yesterday. I felt fine climbing last night, though, and also on my bike ride this morning. I feel a little tired this afternoon, but OK otherwise. Maybe I just need a nap…
Over the weekend, we traded in my son’s 3-year-old mountain bike, a 27″ Norco Storm. He rode it a lot during COVID, particularly over at the Rockburn Skills Park, but he had outgrown it, and it had sat unused for the past year or so. The new bike is a Devinci Kobain 12S, which is a 29er hardtail. It has a size large frame, and should accommodate all 3 male members of our household. This morning, I took it out for a spin at PVSP, hitting a whole bunch of trails on the Howard County side of the Avalon/Orange Grove Area. Compared to my full-suspension Devinci Troy, the ride and handling felt similar, which wasn’t all that surprising, given that the frame geometries are similar. Also as expected, it felt more efficient on steep/technical climbs, at the cost of a rougher ride over rocks, roots, logs, drops, etc. I’m not sure how often my kids will ride it, but I plan on putting some miles on it myself for sure. For commuting, I’m thinking that a large custom-made frame bag, coupled with my lumbar pack, might be enough to haul all of my gear. I’m happy to see the Norco potentially go to someone who will ride it again, and I’m even happier to have another bike that multiple members of our household can ride.
I set another distance PR this morning, running 10.77 miles at a pace of 10:34/mile. This is the same distance as a lap around the BWI Trail, so I’m hoping to head over there soon to cross that off my bucket list. First, though, I want to get one more run of at least 10.5 miles under my belt. This was a really good run overall — I started and finished strong, and it seemed like I maintained pretty good form throughout. My watch reported my average cadence at 185 steps/minute. The temperature started out in the low 40s, and ended up in the low 50s. I drank about 16oz of water over the entire run, and ate a fruit and nut granola bar at mile 6. Troy Park, which I run through frequently, and is usually busy with youth sports on weekends, was empty this morning. I am guessing that the fall soccer season must have ended. I wonder if any other sports will come in to pick up the slack in November and December.
I guess I need to come up with a new running goal. 13.1 miles is starting to look like it might eventually be doable. Practically speaking, that’s about as far as I can see myself running on a regular (e.g. weekly) basis.
I ran at UMBC this afternoon, which I had not done in a while. I rode to work this morning, and I don’t keep running clothes at the office, so I had to plan ahead and bring everything I needed with me on the bike. I wanted to run 10K without running multiple laps around the campus loop, so I planned a route that took me through parts of Arbutus. It was a nice route, although the last couple of miles were uphill. Given that my office is near the highest point of campus, I don’t see a way around that. In spite of it, I ran well, and finished strong. If I can sort out the clothing logistics, I could see myself doing this every now and then during the cooler months, as it would give me some additional flexibility in planning my activities for the week. I don’t see it as a regular option during the summer, as the afternoons are usually too hot for running, at least for me.
I got back into the swing of things today with my first 10-mile run in just over 3 weeks. Actual total distance was 10.26 miles, which beats my prior distance record by a whopping 0.04 mile. I still hope to achieve my short-term goal of running the entire BWI trail loop (10.7 miles) by the end of the year. I could probably do it now, but would like to hit 10.5 miles once or twice before I commit to going over there and trying it. Barring illness and/or injury, I’m thinking second half of November might be a reasonable target.
On the coffee front, I disassembled and cleaned my hand grinder for the first time today. I bought it at the beginning of May, so I’ve had it around 6 months. I brush it off after each use, but it’s recommended to take it apart for a more thorough cleaning every few months. It’s fairly straightforward to disassemble and reassemble, and does not require any tools. The entire process took me about 20 minutes, and going forward, I suspect it’ll take 10 minutes or less, now that I know what I’m doing. I used the grinder about once a day when it was new, and twice a day more recently. The insides had a little bit of coffee residue on them, but it really was not all that dirty. I’m thinking I shouldn’t need to do this more often than every 4-6 months.
I took a “long and slow” run today, covering 8.7 miles over an hour and 34 minutes. It was my first 8-miler in about 3 weeks. It’s nice to be completely over the cold that hobbled me for the better part of October, but my right hamstring is still stiff, and I’ve kind of resigned myself that it’s going to take a long time before it gets back to 100%. One thing I have learned is that it seems to help my hamstrings if I flex/engage my glutes while running, particularly uphill. Also, stepping up (e.g. onto a curb or sidewalk) is more comfortable if I use the glutes to kind of assist the hamstrings, so the latter aren’t doing everything. All of this seems to tell me that I need to be using more of my core muscles when running, to help prevent these overextension injuries. Granted, this specific hamstring injury resulted from tripping, and a strong core probably wouldn’t have prevented injury, although it’s possible that it might have helped prevent me from tripping in the first place. Of course, it also would have helped if I had been watching where I was going, instead of staring at my watch. Several lessons to be learned here for sure!!