Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Day 3,125: Joined a running team. Team BEEF.

Team BEEF: The technical T-shirt.
It's been two weeks since I last posted, but that doesn't mean I haven't had anything to write about. I was in a three-day running funk last week, during which I re-read Christopher McDougal's Born to Run (made me want to run an ultra) and Scott Jurek's Eat & Run (made me focus on loving running).

My workouts have been ok although this season I've tended to default on cutting runs/intervals short when I've felt tired by the heat. It's something I think is ok and probably prudent given the conditions we run in.

Today I received my Team BEEF T-shirt and other goodies for joining the team. It's something I really considered doing last year after getting an email about it from the Marine Corps Marathon. But so many people wanted to join (and run in the marathon for free) that I missed out. I think the Team Beef efforts for that race focused around the Washington, D.C. and Virginia region.

Anyway, Georgia's Team BEEF had a booth at the Peachtree Road Race expo. I was beyond excited since I missed my original chance.

So how it works is you register (you can still sign up via their web site, here). You have a conference call with the Georgia Beef Board spokeswoman and review a Powerpoint document about the board's efforts and beef nutrition. They send you a Team BEEF shirt like above.

Then you race! You run in the team shirt and send a picture of yourself at a particular race (which must be in Georgia of course) and your race registration and they reimburse the fee ... typically up to $100 total for each fiscal year. It sounds like they love it if you race in cities around the state and larger races to get the most exposure they can.

As someone whose relatives still farm (in Maui), I think it's great to support local agricultural efforts. I am by no means shy about eating beef, as a beef brisket is one of my favorite things to put in my smoker and I crave burgers after a long run.

In one of my fastest running years ever, I'm looking forward to donning the shirt, having fun and perhaps setting a PR or two along the way!

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Day 3,107: My 11th Peachtree Road Race

This should be agony. I should be a mass of aching muscle -- broken, spent, unable to move. And, were I an older man, I surely would ... but I'm a man of thirty -- of twenty again. The rain on my chest is a baptism -- I'm born again.
                --Frank Miller, The Dark Knight Returns

I used to seriously fear the Peachtree Road Race course because of the huge hills after Mile 3 and Mile 4. Then for many years I used to not care too much about this race, other than qualifying for Group A, and so I would just run in whatever wave the wife was in.

This year put me in a unique spot. My year has gone from wondering where I would go after breaking four hours in the Marine Corps Marathon to a beyond banner year with a 5K PR and race times that were faster than anything I ever ran.

I was content to run with the wife in Group C but about a week before the race she told me to run in Group A since she hadn't been running too much lately and wanted to run at her own pace. (Incidentally, she ran well and qualified for Group B in this race).

So I started to plan. My previous best was when the wife and I ran 48:14 in 2010. I knew that the first three miles of the course are basically flat and downhill and then I would suffer in Miles 4 and 5 with the gigantic hills.

I told myself that at the very worst I would run it in 48 minutes, by running at a 7:20/mile pace the first three miles (basically a cruising pace in recent 5Ks) and then at an 8:00/mile pace the rest of the way.

Yet I also knew a PR could be had, by tweaking that formula just a little bit, to edge out the 46:29 I ran in the downhill Charles Harris 10K in 2011.

This morning I was a little worried about the weather conditions, which when we were dropped off at Piedmont Avenue and East Paces Ferry included a not-so-light amount of rain. Neither one of us had rain gear.

But the rain cleared just before the race start and the temperature had gone from the expected 72 degrees to a nice and cool 68 degrees.

I stuck to plan the first three miles, running splits of 7:21, 7:19 and 7:14. It was a little disconcerting to run near the end of Mile 3 and have lots of people be passing me. But I didn't press since the first of the big hills were coming up. I believe I passed probably hundreds of people here.

I continued up Cardiac Hill and then made my way up the long stretch to 14th Street. After Mile 5, I started to speed up and was happy I had a nice amount of speed in what was a steady rain at this point. My Saucony Type A6 racing flats were incredible again, having great traction in the wet weather and providing cushion at just the right places.

I kept running at a good pace when I thought my watch said 44 minutes at Mile 6 and I started to kick strong. I now know it couldn't have said this because I ended the race at 46:42, which was just 13 seconds off of my PR and is my second-fastest 10K. It also made this race a Peachtree qualifier, since it is well below the Group A cutoff.

I dutifully stood in the light rain for the wife to finish her race (although I did jump in the Mellow Mushroom line for a free piece of cheese pizza) and then we went to the Atlanta Track Club area, which was great because they had a large dome-like structure that kept us out of the rain. It was nice to hang out here also because it had its own supply of peaches so you didn't have to leave the area to get any.

Just before we huddled under this tent, the race announcer was warning people of the weather and telling people they should get their shirts and leave the area. Later waves were temporarily halted because of the extreme weather.

One great thing was Frank from Running for the second half of my life was here and we all chatted for a few minutes. This year I ran into the most people of any of the 11 Peachtree Road Races I've run, including a former colleague from my days in Little Rock, Ark. and I also ran into one of my fellow geocachers who has taken up running.

Transport: This year we jumped at the opportunity given by the Phidippides Running Store to use their van service to the start. It cost $8, so it was more than the $2.50 MARTA fee that I've used in 10 previous Peachtree races, but it was nice to know that we didn't have to gamble with train times and squeezing in train cars to get to the race. I would definitely use this service again. 

Beets and recovery: Took the Red Ace at 5:30 a.m., two hours before race start. It worked well although my calves were very sore after the race. So sore that I decided to put on my cep compression sleeves for recovery. A little after lunch time I was able to walk around normally again.

Time: 7:30 a.m.
Temp: 68 degrees, light rain during race
Gear: Technical T-shirt, short (Champion gray), shorts, Saucony Type A6.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Day 3,093: Braves Country 5K

Although I'd run in two previous Braves Country races under the 4-mile format, this was the first time I was running in it as a 5K race.

Not surprisingly, it was a hot morning at 78 degrees and I told myself that I would need to take it easy this time around. The person running the loudspeaker constantly told us to also mind the weather.

So when the race started, I took a comfortable pace. When I looked down early on, it said 7:20/mile. I was a little surprised since I'd gone a whole week in which I was unable to finish two separate interval workouts and a tempo run. So I wasn't sure what to expect.

My first mile seemed promising. The data shows it as 7:16/mile. I just continued on at what I thought was an even pace and I closed out the second mile in 7:18.

On the final mile I could feel people picking up their paces and I did so as well. I could feel myself double puffing right before Mile 3 and it really did feel like how I felt in those races in which I've logged a sub-7 mile. The data says I did this mile in 6:56, which would be the first time in any race in which I've run a sub-7 for the last part of the race.

I remembered to tell myself to not wait until we entered the field to kick since there isn't really too much race left at that point. So I did right after Mile 3 and really tried to motivate myself to kick hard on the warning track. I was running so fast that my shirt was riding up over my belly. 

Right before the finish line, I mean no more than 20 feet, some middle-aged guy stopped to catch his breath before continuing. It caused me to slow down and alter my path a little bit but I wasn't too concerned as it was the end of the race.

I ended up with 22:26, which is now my third fastest 5K time and the fastest 5K I've done outside of my PR at the May 30 Kettle Krush 5K. I felt happy that I ran a solid race and despite the race conditions (hot, hilly) performed well. My Saucony Type A6 shoes were again excellent when I needed them most. I think I might just use them in these kinds of races and do interval training with my older Skechers Go Run 3s.

Beets: We had takeout last night so I didn't make my usual beet salad. But the other day at Whole Foods I picked up Red Ace Organic Beet Performance Supplement, a 2-ounce bottle that claims to have 3 beets in it. I drank it -- it didn't taste bad at all -- an hour before the race started. I'll have to get a case of this stuff since my legs were not sore at all when the race ended.

Time: 7:30 a.m.
Temp: 78 degrees but breezy
Gear: Technical T-shirt, short (Charles Harris 2009), shorts, Saucony Type A6.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Day 3,086: What turns an easy run into a tempo run? Music.

Today I had four easy miles on the schedule so I thought it would be a perfect time to try out my new 7th generation iPod and more importantly, a pair of wireless running headphones.

Back in the day I loved running with music but it was pesky to have the headphone cord sometimes yanked out. So when I saw the new iPods had this capability, I was very curious.

I bought a pair of Jaybuds Bluebuds X Sport Bluetooth Headphones after reading some reviews on different kinds of wireless headphones.

When I started running this morning I didn't think they were going to work well. The cord that connects the two earbuds together was flopping around behind my neck but later in the run everything was fine.

I found that the music made me want to run faster and I ended up running what I should have run Thursday for my 3-mile tempo run.

Bluetooth makes for a nifty way to listen to music during the run. The headphones offer decent, but not exemplary, sound quality -- I felt like when I was back at home the earbuds that came with my Galaxy S6 smartphone were better for overall sound so I plugged those in for listening around the house.

But for running, I may be hooked on workouts with wireless headphones.

Temp: 70 degrees (88 percent humidity)
Gear: Technical T-shirt, short (2014 Publix Half Marathon In Training), shorts, Saucony Iso Zealot.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Day 3,085 8 x 20-second strides

This morning I decided to incorporate strides into my easy run routine after reading an article about them in Runner's World.

Basically, the article recommended throwing in eight 20-second strides during easy run workouts to be able to better handle changing gears and speeds in a race.

I decided to do four of them after Mile 1 of my workout and the remaining four after Mile 2. When I was doing them, it felt like 20 seconds was such a short amount of time, that it takes me about that long to ramp up to interval workout speed.

My data shows that I ran similar to interval speeds during those short spurts: (5:56, 7:17, 6:46, 6:49, 6:20, 7:19, 6:27, 6:59).

It felt great doing some extra speedwork -- I felt like I was more alert in the run than when I am just trying to slog out four easy miles.

Time: 6:33 a.m.
Temp: 70 degrees (94 percent humidity)
Gear: Technical T-shirt, short (Marine Corps Marathon "Mission Focus"), shorts, Saucony Iso Zealot.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Day 3,084: 3-mile tempo run

This morning I headed out for my first tempo run of this half-marathon training. Because all three half marathons I'm signed up for are hilly, I decided to run it along the Summerfest 5K route that I just raced this past weekend.

I felt like being able to run it at a pace well below my goal tempo pace (8:04/mile) during the 5K would be a confidence booster.

But during the tempo run, my goal pace never materialized. The best I got was 8:34/mile for the first mile and then nuttin' after. I pretty much called it a day after the first tempo mile, although I finished the run for 5 miles total.

It was a nice enough morning to run even if I didn't make my goal.

This afternoon I received my confirmation email for the Peachtree Road Race and I got into Group A. It's been an interesting year. I guess with pushing a double stroller since the end of September has really strengthened me and continuing to do speed intervals has also helped give me speed and confidence that I never thought was possible, especially this late in my running career.

Time: 6:31 a.m.
Temp: 70 degrees (100 percent humidity)
Gear: Technical T-shirt, short (Publix Half Marathon 2014, shorts, Saucony Iso Zealot).

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Day 3,082: 12 x 400 intervals

Today was the first set of intervals for my half-marathon training plan. I came into this workout with a few goals in mind and that was apparently a few goals too many.

In the past I was quite content to run at a 7:17/mile pace for intervals but today I was swinging for the fences, trying to run sub-7 for each one, being recently tantalized by the idea of breaking my new PR of 21:27 with an outside goal of qualifying as a sub-seed for the Peachtree Road Race with a 20:14 or better 5K time.

It was hot and humid and I felt the effects quickly. I went 1:46.2 (7:05/mile), 1:46.4 (7:06/mile), 1:42 (6:48/mile) and 1:31.4 (6:06/mile) for the first mile.

The second mile came and I went 1:49.4 (7:17/mile) and then on the 6th interval felt like I did not want to continue doing 7 more intervals. So I stopped. I've had busted workouts before so it wasn't that big of a deal for me. Next time I might pick a pace that is in between what I hope to do and what I have been doing.

It was fortunate that I stopped, since when I was walking my way around Lake Clara Meer, I looked up at the Active Oval and saw Frank from Running for the second half of my life. I'd never met him before so I walked to where there were steps to enter the oval and quickly introduced myself.

It was a nice way to end a broken workout.

Time: 6:25 a.m.
Temp: 73 degrees (89 percent humidity)
Gear: Technical T-shirt, short (Doug Kessler 10K), shorts, Saucony Type A6.