So, it’s been a while since I posted anything and I am sure you have been wondering what I have been up to. Okay, okay – only one of those two things is probably true.
I think it’s safe to say that two of my favorite things to do are run and travel. And when I have the chance to do both at the same time, I usually jump at the opportunity.
Luckily, this year has presented me with several such opportunities!
After I went to Denmark in May (here’s a reminder of that trip), I had another covid-delayed trip – this time to England in July. Then, at the beginning of September, I ran in the Bird-in-Hand 5k and Half Marathon in Pennsylvania.
So, here’s a run down of the different places I have been running over the summer.
I have been to England before, but on those trips the running was really just a side note to the other things I had planned. This trip was different as I had running planned at every stop and I would also have the chance to run with a couple of friends that I have connected with on Instagram.
Running has to be the best way to see a new place. Especially when there isn’t a lot of time or there are a lot of things that you want to check out.
Even though this was my fourth time in England, this was my first time in London, so after arriving, I went for a short run to get my legs moving after the flight. I used this run to see Buckingham Palace and a few of the sights around it at a quicker pace. Even though the weather was perfect for it, my legs and body were feeling the effects of the long overnight flight, so I kept this run short and easy.
Then, the next morning I ran from Big Ben along the Thames River to Tower Bridge and then back to Westminster. On these first two runs, it felt almost surreal to be running by these sights in person for the first time.
These two runs were just a warm up to the first big one of the trip.
Now, it was time to leave London and meet up with my friend, Mark. Mark and I had been talking about running a race together for a while (including one we registered for but deferred to 2023 – stay tuned for that), so in the spring time, we registered for a 7-hour event at a vineyard local to him. Mark dubbed it the “Vineyard Ultra” because completing the ultra distance (more than 26.2 miles) was the goal.
The gist of the event was to run as many loops as possible of the approximately 5km course around the vineyard in the allotted time. When we first registered, the goal was to run 10 loops for 50km (~31 miles), but as the event got closer, we were more focused on enjoying the day running and seeing how we felt and how many loops we could complete.
Unfortunately, the week that I arrived, they were experiencing a record heat wave in England!
Preparing as any sensible person would for an event like this, Mark prepared a spreadsheet which would give us the exact time that we needed to be starting each lap throughout the 7 hours. It allowed us 42 minutes to complete each lap (including the rest time in between) to stay on pace to reach 50km, which was still our goal as we started.
Stocked up with food and drink to last significantly longer than 7 hours, we began our first loop.
The first two loops were pretty straightforward and we were right on target according to the spreadsheet, but then the short break we took after the second loop quickly vanished. I think it was at that point we realized it was going to be tough to make it through the 10 loops necessary to get to the 50km.
The increasing temperatures combined with the lack of any meaningful shadow cover on the loop and the 330 feet (100 meters) of elevation gain on each lap told us that it was probably a good idea to adjust our goal for the day.
With a now-revised goal of 8 loops to reach the marathon distance for the day, we got into a good rhythm (at least for a couple of laps) and knew which parts of the loop were most conducive to actually running (i.e. the downhills and flats) and which areas were better for walking (the uphills).
Eventually, with about 30 minutes to spare on the 7 hour clock, we completed the 8th loop and with that the marathon distance, but I would be lying if I said that the last 2 (or 3) loops were anything but a battle.
All in all, I was quite happy with the day’s effort and equally impressed with Mark’s ability to go that distance without as much training as he’d have liked for an event like this. I’m quite confident that we could have gone at least 2 additional loops on a cooler day.
After the race, it was great to be able to hang out with Mark and his family for a couple of days. I can’t really thank Mark and his family enough for their hospitality during my stay there.
I don’t think it will be too long before Mark and I are running a race together again!
Running Through History With Another Streaker
After a few days of exploring and running on my own in the Lake District, I met up with my friend, Kristen, in Northumberland.
Kristen started his running streak only a few days behind me, so we’ve shared a lot of thoughts since we have been talking about the good and bad of running every day and I think we have really helped each other to keep going.
Just a few weeks before my visit, Kristen ran across England in 7 days – averaging over a marathon each of those days!
So when I told him that I might be in Northumberland during my trip, he offered to show me around Hadrian’s Wall and some of the surrounding area on a run.
If you don’t know, Hadrian’s Wall was built about 1,900 years ago and served as the northern boundary of the Roman Empire. While some sections are no longer there, the wall was 73 miles long when it was built, which covered the whole width of England. That’s enough of a history lesson from me, but I’d recommend it to anyone visiting England, even if you aren’t a runner.
It was mostly tough running, but it was still a great day out running next to and on the wall itself! Kristen even made a great reel and posted it on his Instagram page, if you are interested in checking it out! (check out the Reel here!)
Also, it was cool to be able to add a day to each of our streaks while running together, even if it felt like he was trying to make it so I couldn’t run the next day!
All kidding aside, it was a really fun day out, made even better by the beers in the pub afterwards!
Bird-in-Hand 5k and Half Marathon
After a summer full of running and traveling, in August I began training for the Philadelphia Marathon in November. As part of this training cycle, I registered to run in the Bird-in-Hand 5k and Half Marathon in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania just as I did last year.
This was an event that I really enjoyed running in last year (here’s a reminder of how last year’s went) and was hoping for a similar experience again. My plan was to essentially go all out in the 5k on Friday evening and then see how I felt for the half marathon on Saturday morning.
After completing the 5k in 20:38, I felt physically beaten up and, honestly, I was not feeling the best mentally. I was hoping to run sub-20:00 for the 5k, so that was definitely affecting my mental state. And that, combined with how my legs felt after the effort, made the prospect of running a half marathon in only 12 hours quite daunting.
When I woke up on Saturday morning, I was feeling a bit better, but there was also a feeling of just wanting to get the race started. That way I would be done sooner and be on my way home.
In hindsight, I hate that I was feeling this way because I have rarely experienced that before a race and it really affected how much I enjoyed the race.
Even with these feelings, I knew I still had a race to complete. So as I walked to the start line, I tried to give myself a pep talk to just do what I have trained to do. I knew that once I started the race, I would be fine and complete the miles, but it might just take longer than I was originally hoping.
Ultimately, I just decided to take it easy and not push too hard. While I wasn’t exactly thrilled with my finishing time of 1:43:51, I also wasn’t too disappointed in it all things considered.
In addition to my horseshoe medal for the half marathon, I also received the coveted “Road Apple Award” for completing this race as well as the Garden Spot Half Marathon this past March.
On the way home after the race, I was able to leave the bad feelings and any lingering disappointment behind and mostly just be grateful to be able to run in races and have experiences like I had in this race and over the summer!
Now, I am fully entrenched in my marathon training plan for the Philadelphia Marathon in November. I’ll have an update on how this training cycle is going soon!