Sunday, May 17, 2015

Day 3,061: 5 x 1K intervals (1/4-mile recovery)

I skipped doing intervals last weekend because we were enjoying the Georgia coast on Jekyll Island. So this week it was hard to get back in it.

Even when I started the first two intervals I wasn't sure I would finish them. But I got a second wind and things got easier. On the very last one, a cyclist passed and I was able to pace off of the bike that was pretty far ahead. Even so I was surprised with the result -- a pace that was the equivalent of a 6:46/mile.

In the end, I was glad that I did the workout! Intervals were (mile pace equivalent): (7:11/7:31/7:15/7:11/6:46).

These workouts are still needed since this spring I was busy being a click monkey and I'm about to have a busy summer/fall full of races:

Saturday, May 30: Kettle Krush 5K, Piedmont Park
Saturday, June 6: Summerfest 5K, Virginia-Highland
Saturday, June 20: Braves Country 5K, Turner Field
Saturday, July 4: Peachtree 10K!
Sunday, Aug. 23: Hotlanta Half Marathon
Monday, Sept. 7: Big Peach Sizzler 10K (haven't signed up yet)
Saturday, Sept. 26: Southeast Beltline 8K (haven't signed up yet)
Saturday, Oct. 3: 13.1 Atlanta

Time: 8:48 a.m.
Temp: 70 degrees (73 percent humidity)
Gear: Technical T-shirt, short (Champion, gray), shorts, Saucony Type A6.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Day 3,048: My first Master's win ... and first time taking a wrong turn off course

I signed up for this evening's May the Fourth (Miler) Be With You race at the last minute thinking why not, since it was going to be held in nearby Piedmont Park.

Another carrot was that awards were going to be three-deep in age groups and it could be a good opportunity to make a PR in a 4-mile race (I've only run in four of these prior to this).

What I wasn't sure about was what an extra mile in a race would do to my run speed and also what it would be like to run in an evening race with evening heat (81 degrees).

My thought was I would try to run as much as I could at a 7:30/mile pace, which over 4 miles would easily break my PR of 30:41.

The race started fast and I was constantly trying to keep my pace down -- it started around 6:30/mile pace and then was hovering around a 7:00/mile pace when I encountered a puzzle.

There was a directional arrow for the race in between the fork that leads up to the Atlanta Botanical Garden and down by the tennis courts. Since I've run in several races here, I took the path near the tennis courts.

When I rounded the corner, I immediately knew I was in the wrong -- there were no directional arrows pointing up the path. So I turned around and went back to the way everyone was running -- a third route in between the Active Oval and the tennis courts.

It added .15 mile to my race. What happened was when the race started I was behind five runners and the first four quickly left our sight. I was behind a guy with a green lightsaber and he went the correct way and I did not, thinking he was wrong. After I backtracked I noted where was on the turnaround and that he was now a minute ahead of me.

At that point I decided not to worry about pace and then just ran evenly. I ran into another conundrum down the path to the dog park -- there appeared to be a turn onto the boardwalk that cuts over to the dog park.

One lady (who ended up being overall Masters female) asked which way to go. I saw two runners up on the path to the dog park so I told her the path was the way to go instead of the boardwalk. But when we reached the part of the path the boardwalk runs into, there was another lady running down it! She yelled something at the lady and at first I thought there was going to be some kind of argument over cutting the course. But they eventually continued on.

After exiting the bowl, the lady who became overall Masters female asked a guy which way to go. I was thinking we would turn to go up the path that parallels 10th Street but he said straight. I'm glad he was there at that moment because it was the correct way to go.

I knew the incline up the path near 10th Street would be a little bit of a bear. When I got to the base of the hill, the guy with the lightsaber was at the top of the hill and had slowed somewhat. I ended up passing him down the switchback back to the bottom of the hill.

When we exited the switchback, I was in unique territory -- I was in the exact location of my 400 interval training with the end of the interval at the race finish!

So I decided to wait until then (although my data says at the end of the switchback I was running at a 6:47/mile pace) and then I took off down the path to the finish like I would starting an interval. I decided I would remain in that gear as long as possible, saving any kind of kick if the guy with the lightsaber passed me.

But I could hear he wasn't and in the final turn only started my kick -- I ended at a sub-5:00/mile pace!

It was a great race -- at first I thought I was third overall male but then when they had the results on a small flatscreen I could see I wasn't -- the three men and one woman who finished ahead of me beat me by 5 minutes!

But then I noticed they were all in their 30s, putting me in the very unique spot of being the first Master's male.

The race wasn't what I expected and the result wasn't what I expected. But it was a great race and a nice outing with my brand-new racing flats. They only had six miles on them and I had blisters and a bloody shoe the last time I ran with them but today they were perfect.

Time: 6:30 p.m.
Temp: 81 degrees
Gear: Technical T-shirt, short (Champion, blue), shorts, Saucony Type A6.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Day 3,041: A Monday morning race where I didn't expect one to be (Silver Comet)

More double-strollin' on another beautiful stretch of the Silver Comet Trail
ROCKMART, Ga. -- We hadn't even gone a mile when the first runner came by on what I thought was going to be a pretty desolate area of the Silver Comet.

Yet it was less than a mile from the trailhead where we parked and near another trailhead and a residential area. "Local runners," I thought.

But as we got further into our run, we noticed more people. A pair of middle-aged women. Then a guy with a "7" race bib.

That was a little weird. Then when the next guy came by with a race bib, I had to ask.

"Is there a race going on today?" As in "Is there a Monday race that I didn't know anything about?"

It turned out it was the Race Across USA Marathon Series. The web site says, "Beginning January 16, 2015 an international team of athletes will cross the United States with the goal of inspiring a generation."

People can join in the stages, including running four back-to-back marathons along the 61-mile Silver Comet Trail or across Georgia.

We saw a dozen people at most on the trail. Unlike many sections of the Silver Comet, this one has some decent hills.

We continued on our way and then back to the Don Williams Trailhead, about 7.2 miles for our own workout.

Time: 10:11 a.m.
Temp: 59 degrees
Gear: Technical T-shirt, short (Publix Georgia Marathon promo), shorts, Nike Zoom Air Pegasus+ 31/A.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Day 3,040: In love with the Saucony Type A6 ... but not so much with my stupidity

I'd been waiting for this day to come by -- the first time I would be able to do interval training and break out my new Saucony Type A6 racing flats that I bought online.

After training in last year's Saucony Kinvara 5s and running races in Skechers Go Run 2 and 3s, I knew I wanted to try out a minimalist racing flat. This shoe has the same 4 mm drop as the shoes I previously trained in.

I ordered them online because even the local running store doesn't carry them. Racing flats are a totally different category of running shoe and these specialized shoes aren't really things that are introduced to the average runner (Mizuno even doesn't really recommend them for the average recreational runner).

It was also confusing asking the guy at the store if they had the Saucony A6, which sounds a lot like the brand "Asics." (Get it?)

Yet one thing about this class of shoe was different -- the issue of socks. Many runners in the forums I looked into typically didn't wear socks with their racing flats. And why not? These sleek shoes felt really comfortable without the thin (protective) layer I usually train in.

So this morning I headed out to the park. I didn't know what was in store, but I surprised myself at first. The first of my 3/4-mile intervals (1/4-mile recovery) was at a 6:57 pace! Wow, these shoes are fast! The next interval was even faster -- 6:52/mile pace.

But then the blisters started to form and even without the blisters I knew I would not be able to continue the pace. My third interval was 8:13/mile and the last one I felt refreshed enough to do a 7:46/mile pace but not before completely loosening the laces of my right shoe, which had developed a quarter-sized blood stain right above the knuckle of my big toe.

I developed about four blisters by not wearing socks -- something that I will do in the future. And while I was happy that I had a really fast start to my interval workout I now know I was running too fast -- in the past it would have been crazy for me to think I was just mailing it in with a 7:46/pace but I really wanted the workout to end.

The shoes were amazing. They had the right amount of protection for my feet at exactly the right place and felt like they were crafted for the way that I run. I'm looking forward to doing more running with them -- but next time I'll eat the extra ounces that a nice pair of socks will cost me in a speed workout or race.

Time: 7:07 a.m.
Temp: 64 degrees
Gear: Technical T-shirt, short (Champion, blue), shorts, Saucony Type A6.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Day 3,030: A warm fuzzy

Today I drove by Phidippides to pick up my first place for age group (40-44) medal for the inaugural Atlanta Dogwood Festival 5K.

The race only gave out awards for first place in age groups so I didn't even think to stick around for the awards after I crossed the finish line. Frank let me know in the comments section that I won my age group, so thanks Frank!

It's the first time that I won my age group since the 2011 O'Highlands Jig and Jog 5K. It's a warm fuzzy, since the award comes after a hard year of marathon training and I'm hopeful for my progress in the months ahead.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Day 3,028: Chasing a very old ghost

I got an email today about the Michelob-ULTRA 13.1 Atlanta race and intrigued by the fact that the course has been moved to the Cumberland/Galleria part of Cobb County, I signed up on a whim.

I ran in the inaugural version of the race in October 2009 when it winded around Oglethorpe University. At the time I credited it with bringing me back into the running fold after a very slow 2008 running year. Yet I wasn't really that enamored with the course and never ran it again.

This time, however, I sense an opportunity. I've run some of my fastest 5K races since last year's two marathons and wonder if it's time to tackle my biggest running ghost -- to break the PR I set more than 17 years ago when I ran 1:46:30 in the Vancouver (Wash.) Half Marathon, my very first try at that distance.

Back then, as a 27-year-old, I had no inkling of how to run the race. I remember during the race thinking I would take it easy for the first three miles then "make my move." I ran as fast as I could for the next seven miles before bonking hard.

Still, I ended up with a PR that I have never managed to break in 23 subsequent half-marathons (although I came within 30 seconds of breaking my best time in the February 2011 Run the Reagan Half Marathon) . Part of me always remembered the pain of that first race and just decided to "take it easy" for all of the other races.

But I never had a good plan to tackle that PR -- until now. Last year, I used Hanson's Half-Marathon Method to train for the 2014 Publix Georgia Half Marathon, but only as a way to beta-test what I would use to train for the Marine Corps Marathon. I also did not have much experience with the workouts involved and often did not pay heed to running at particular paces at the time.

This time I want to use the Hanson's method solely for this distance without having an eye on the full marathon. My thought is that I would train toward goal A, which would be to run faster than 1:45:47, the cutoff for Group A of the Peachtree Road Race's old time standards using a half-marathon time. Goal B would be to break my PR and run 1:46:29.  If I don't succeed on this hilly course, I'll have a second chance on another hilly course, on Dec. 14 in the Jeff Galloway 13.1.

Week 1 of the 18-week training program would begin on June 1. Unlike last year when I cleared my plate of all races except for the Peachtree Road Race so I could train for the marathon, I've already signed up for a few 5Ks and the city's best 10K.

In a sense, I came out of last year's marathons without a good sense of focus on what I wanted to do next but have gained confidence in recent 5K races with a lot better speed than I've had in recent years. It's probably the right amount of time to set a semi-reasonable goal. I guess we will see what will happen.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Day 3,027: The shoes I've been looking for (Saucony Iso Zealot)

On Sunday, I went for a semi-easy run with the wife up North Highland Avenue to the PATH trail to the Eastside Beltline.

Since she was pushing the double stroller, I wore the shoes that I usually wear when I'm not stroller-runnin' -- my Skechers Go Run 3s. These are the shoes that I've been doing intervals and racing in since last month, when I retired my Skechers Go Run 2s.

The last time she ran this way was during December's Inman Frosty 5K, and muscle memory must have been kicking in since we did Mile 3 in 8:58 and the last mile at 9:06. During that time, however, I could feel tinges in my right knee, which for me typically is a sign that my shoes have reached their limit.

Those shoes only have a little more than 230 miles on them, but I have heard that minimalist shoes have to be replaced sooner. I put more than 500 miles on my Saucony Kinvara 5s that I used to train for last fall's marathon(s) but my Go Run 2s only had 320 miles on them before they made comfortable slippers around the house.

So today I dug out a $10 off coupon and went over to Big Peach Running Co. and picked up the Saucony Iso Zealot, a shoe that attracted me three months ago when I heard about them from the running store's email.

Basically these shoes have more cushioning than the Kinvaras, which I wanted since it was not fun to roll over a rock on the road when I was training. They have the same 4mm drop as my other minimalist shoes and weigh a little more than the Kinvara at 8.3 ounces.

I see these shoes as my primary shoe to run in when I am not pushing a stroller. Since my Go Run 3s also were my main racing shoe, I decided to look into some more reviews and ended up buying online the Saucony Type A6 racing flat.

I haven't had a pair of racing shoes since 1998, when I bought a cool-looking pair of Nike cross-country racing shoes -- and proceeded to wear them unbroken in a 5K in the Chicagoland area. Needless to say I didn't wear them very much after that.

This will be an interesting experiment, since these shoes weigh 5.1 ounces and are said to have more firmness for racing, something that led me to ultimately run in my Nike Zoom Air Pegasus 31s last October in the Marine Corps Marathon instead of the Kinvara 5, which I did much of my training in. I felt at the time that the firmness in the Nike shoes helped me late in races, which is something that the softer feel of the Kinvaras did not.