Tag Archives: Jogging

EQT 10-mile training – final edition

Strange things happen on the road. Sometimes they happen in bunches.

Once, during an afternoon run on a short trail that runs alongside Clearview Avenue in Crafton, two young ladies sitting on a step asked me if I had a cigarette. To humor them, I stopped, patted my pockets and said, “Sorry, I forgot them.”

The final two weeks of training for the EQT Pittsburgh 10-miler, which runs Sunday and will be the next feature in the O-R Challenge series, were a bit unusual, though nothing quite as weird as being asked for a smoke.

It started with my third, and final, Fleet Feet Flyers group run. The gang met in front of a coffee shop on Walnut Street. A 7-mile run (technically, I believe it was a 6.91-miles) was laid out for those of us doing the Train to Run program. I went out with a group whose pace I liked, but ended up moving ahead on the climb along Penn Avenue to North Linden Avenue in Point Breeze. Eventually, the course led back to Shadyside but, somewhere along Ellsworth Avenue, I missed a turn. (Full disclosure: I’m blaming the gaffe on trying to check out the wooden street at Rosslyn Place.) The directions said to turn right on Filbert Street. I continued to run Ellsworth. After multiple blocks, East Liberty came into my sight and my run-tracking app told me I hit 7 miles.

A lady was walking down the sidewalk and I think I startled her when I asked between breaths, “Do you know where Filbert Street is?”

She told me I passed it a few blocks ago. I thanked her and made a right-hand turn. The good news was it added nine-tenths of a mile to my run.

Later that week, I broke my smartphone when it fell out of my pocket as I was closing my car door.

Crunch,

Now, I’m back to my old iPhone4 that can’t download my work email or add any apps. Sorry if anyone from Fleet Feet or EQT or the Observer-Reporter tried to reach me the past week. I still haven’t been able to check my work email.

Oh well.

And, on my final training run, which didn’t take place until Friday because of a Disney World vacation, a young man approached me on Broad Street in South Greensburg and asked, “I lost $280. It fell out my car window. Did you see it back there?”

I wish I had, but I was more busy wiping snot on my shirt.

So, unlike previous training updates, I can’t offer any mile or time updates other than Friday’s run, which covered 5.34 miles in 43:23.

Hopefully, I’m ready for Sunday morning. I believe I am.

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EQT10-mile training – Week 7 10/6/15

Fall in Western Pennsylvania. It brings to mind images like this:

Colors flourish during the fall in the Keystone State. (Photo from visitpa.com.)

Colors flourish during the fall in the Keystone State. (Photo from visitpa.com.)

Sure, pictures of fall foliage are pretty to look at, but, let’s face it, Western Pennsylvania weather doesn’t usually permit much time to enjoy the view.

Instead, we’re usually treated to sites like these every fall:

Wind, rain and dropping temperatures are part of every fall in Western Pennsylvania. (Photo from edgarsnyder.com.)

Wind, rain and dropping temperatures are part of every fall in Western Pennsylvania. (Photo from edgarsnyder.com.)

Training for late-season races, like the EQT Pittsburgh 10-miler, require logging miles in mucky, yucky, wet and windy conditions,which hit the region last week. Naturally, the bad weather coincided with the toughest week of training. Those following Fleet Feet Sports’ Train to Run program – like myself – faced a trio of 6-mile runs to go with a 9-mile jaunt. It created some interesting conditions in what had been an unusually warm and gentle weather cycle.

9/28  – A day after trekking up the sizable hill to my house, I opted for a course with a couple climbs, a mile or so on the Five Star Trail and finished 6.14 miles in 52:05.

9/30 – Made a left turn in a place I usually take a right and ended up running through Southwest Greensburg a bit. Ended up strolling along College Avenue,. eventually rolling though Academy Hill and St. Clair Park before heading home. The wind was strong and in my face for a long stretch of the run. It reminded me of running along Swan Beach at the Outer Banks during nor’easters. Not fun, but it makes a runner stronger. Did 6.06 miles in 51:45.

10/2 – The cooler temperatures were nice, but the wind wasn’t highly appreciated. So, on Friday, I sought a flatter run. I went through South Greensburg, went through Midway and caught Five Star Trail for a few miles before making a left at Sunset Cafe (great place to eat – the calamari is terrific) and returning home. Covered 6.56 miles in 55:02. Easily the best run of the week.

10/4 – The big day arrived. The longest run of the 10-week training program. After getting decent sleep, two mugs of coffee and some water, I went the same way as Friday’s run with a couple small variations to add distance. After taking Five Star Trail for about 3.5 miles, I hit Lynch Field. Now, during longer runs, I’ve noticed my brain stops complex functions. At some point, determination and stubborness  takes over, and it usually comes between miles 5 and 6. Keep in mind, this doesn’t happen for a 6-mile run, only when the run is 7 miles or longer. Not sure why. Anyway, the brain shut off before descending into Lynch Field, which is why – at Mile 8 – I opted to turn into Academy Hill. For the next sixth-tenths of a mile, I was running uphill. My pace slowed, my breathing intensified, but I made it. And I kept going. I covered 10.12 miles in 1:26.40. It took 9:35 to cover my ninth mile and 9:07 to cover the 10th.Other than that, my pace was great and, most importantly, my confidence for Oct. 25 is sky-high.

EQT 10-mile training – Week 2 8/30/15

It begins with a low, elongated growl. It quickly builds in volume and intensity. It’s followed by a mad sprint to the front door. By this point, Ringo, our loyal and overprotective Australian Kelpie, is in full intruder-bark mode.

Several things elicit such behavior from our 40-pound ball of muscle and madness – our mail lady, substitute mail carriers, UPS delivery drivers, passing motorcycles and the Sunday paperboy.

Somehow, Ringo senses the paperboy’s presence from our second-floor bedroom and, within seconds, he wakes up every living creature in the house, including Anna’s pet fish, Goldie.

This week, Ringo’s Sunday morning disturbance served as an alarm clock. It was time to get up, coffee up, hit the bathroom, gather belongings and make the early morning drive from Greensburg to the South Side Flats – a place I lived for 6 1/2 years as a fun-loving bachelor – for my first group training run for the EQT 10-miler with my new friends from Fleet Foot Sports-Pittsburgh.

For most runners, an early morning wake-up call and run isn’t mush of a thing. For me, it is. I’m the assistant night editor at the Observer-Reporter, a daily newspaper in Lil’ Washington. My typical shift runs from 3:30 to 11:30 p.m. Then, I have about a 50-mile drive home. I’ve worked nights and weekends in the newspaper business my entire adult life.

I'm hoping at least a few runners at Sunday's training run were as groggy as I was before it started.

I’m hoping at least a few runners at Sunday’s training run were as groggy as I was before it started.

In other words, I’m not a big morning person. And, yes, I worked Saturday night.

A couple of miles into my drive on Route 30 West, I realized I forgot my morning fuel – bananas for me and gas for the car. It required a quick stop to Sheetz, and I began wondering if I’d make the 7:30 a.m. start. I got there by 7:20, and was greeted by Fleet Feet’s Melissa Migliaro, who’s been beyond awesome since this training/O-R challenge started. She gave a quick rundown of what I could expect and, even with my morning brain fog, I’m certain I heard at least 50 percent of it. Melissa introduced me to Amy Zuckett of Fleet Feet. She was leading a group of runners near my pace, so I joined them for the early portions of Sunday’s 6-mile run, which touched parts of the South Side, North Side and Downtown.

More on that later. On to the weekly recap.

Monday, Aug. 24 – After running three of four days, Monday was lift day. Heavy chest and abs workout. My pecs were sore until Wednesday.

Tuesday, Aug. 25 – Did some pull-ups and dips before heading to a second-floor treadmill at LA Fitness Greensburg. I’m not a big treadmill fan, but I find doing a treadmill run per week helps build my pace, which was 7.3 mph for 4.02 miles.

LA Fitness frowns upon photo taking inside its gym, so consider this photo "sensitive material."

LA Fitness frowns upon photo taking inside its gym, so consider this photo “sensitive material.”

Wednesday, Aug. 26 – Tuesday’s run was a success, which made me excited to tackle Wednesday’s hilly road course. I covered 4.65 miles in 40:28. After slowing between miles 3 and 4, I picked my pace up by 11 seconds per mile to finish. This run was considered a triumph.

Thursday, Aug. 27 – Thursday’s goal was to run a shorter course but pick up pacing. Another success as I covered 4.01 miles in 33:33. Three consecutive good runs instilled confidence for Sunday’s long run.

Friday, Aug. 28 – Spin class at LA Fitness. Great, great workout. Best spin class since I bought cycle shoes. Feeling real good walking out of the gym.

Saturday, Aug. 29 – I enjoy weight training too much to abandon it, so Saturday was shoulders day. I tend to make my funniest noises on shoulders day. I also attended a seminar about good running form at Fleet Feet. Karen Harr hosted the program, and I found it highly informative.

That's me with Fleet Feet's Karen Harr before Sunday's run. If you want to learn about better running technique, you need to meet Karen. And, yes, I haven't grown since the last time you saw me.

That’s me with Fleet Feet’s Karen Harr before Sunday’s run. If you want to learn about better running technique, you need to meet Karen. And, yes, I haven’t grown since the last time you saw me.

Sunday, Aug. 30 – The time to run six miles – my longest since doing the 6.4-mile leg of the Pittsburgh Marathon May 3 – was here. The group I started with began an ascent of Arlington Ave. before a turn Newton St. to head back toward the South Side Flats. I went ahead of the group at Newton and caught view of another group – about five runners – descending those interesting South Side stairs. I followed them from a distance across 10th St. Bridge, onto Second Ave. and into Downtown. They stopped around Smithfield St. for a moment as I passed and meandered through downtown. At the 4-mile water stop, I grabbed a quick drink as other runners congregated. Now, I’m far from an expert runner but my 15-plus years of doing it tells me I’m not successful at starting, stopping and starting again. So, again, I soldered onward by PNC Park and across Clemente Bridge. My legs tired slightly at this point but the energy of Downtown helped provide a second wind, which would be needed crossing Smithfield St. Bridge. That’s when my body started to tire, my form got a little sloppy and I tried to remember techniques Karen focused on during the seminar. “Knee drive, knee drive,” I told myself. Too bad I wasn’t paying attention and missed the turn to the stairs leading to River Trail. No worries. It added a little extra mileage.

When I got back to the parking lot, I reached for my phone to stop the Map My Run app I was certain I started at the beginning of the run. Turns out, I never started the workout. So, I have no clue about my time. Not that it mattered. My focus was strictly on finishing, though I stood around for several minutes to stretch and change hoping to see a few people I encountered on the run. It didn’t happen. I’m taking it as a sign I ran well.

Sorry for being long-winded. It was a great week, and I’m excited for Week 3.

Road to recovery, 1/6/15

Blogger’s note: The following is the first installment of a new series on Kovak’s Corner, highlighting the trials and tribulations of overcoming middle age and injury en route to a return to top running form.

Monday (Jan. 5) went well. It needed to after obligations got in the way of missing the gym or any type of training Sunday. It’s rare to go a day without exercise, but the day off renewed focus for Monday’s session.

The day started with some heavy, isolated preacher curls on two separate stations. Followed up with front and back leg curls before heading back to biceps. After elevated curls and seated curls (all with heavy weight and four sets of 12 reps), it was time to return to leg work for kickbacks and leg presses. Given the extent of my left calf injury, leg work took an extended breather, but this marked a second “leg day.” Not going heavy yet, just getting the muscles used to the work. Stronger legs should help in the quest to make 2015 injury-free.

After biceps and legs, it was time for some ab work. Oblique twists and the seated-crunch machine before heading upstairs at LA Fitness Greensburg for a run. Since returning to running, I’ve gone for two outdoor runs and two treadmill jogs. This marked the third treadmill jog, and it went for 40 minutes at a moderate 6.5 mph. It only covered 4.35 miles, but my longest run in months was a significant personal achievement.  At my peak, I could run on a treadmill anywhere for 7.5 to 8.3 mph for an entire run (usually between 30 to 60 minutes) with a two-minute kick adding .5 mph to the speed.

But this is about baby steps on the journey back. Overdoing it could derail progress.

And there’s a voice inside telling me to go harder. The 40-minute jog felt great. My breathing was excellent, heart rate good. Basically, I felt great after my 2-minute cool down.

Today, Greensburg-Salem has a two-hour delay. So, the gym will have to wait until 11 a.m. And it’s going to be an abbreviated visit because a trip to the chiropractor is scheduled for 1 p.m. A quick chest and ab workout followed by a 30-minute run at 6.6 mph (one click faster on the treadmill but 10 fewer minutes than Monday).

On Wednesday, barring another delay or school cancellation, it’s morning spin class (my spin instructor has been instrumental in getting back on track) followed by evening yoga – my first yoga class.

Thursday will be a day off from cardio and a first visit to a massage therapist.

Have a great workout out there!