Sunday, October 8, 2017

Day 3,934: Army Ten Miler

The Army Ten Miler course.
ARLINGTON, Va. -- I'd first heard about this race a few years ago from a neighbor whose family had run it many times over the years.

At the time I went to the website to find out when it was. Unfortunately that was when registration had started and the whole system was frozen! I was never able to tell when the race was held!

So when this year's registration started in June, I decided to register for the race. I got in and started planning, noticing that I could rely on my experience in the 2014 Marine Corps Marathon, namely that both races start in roughly the same place, one of the outer parking lots of the Pentagon.

For the 2014 marathon, I stayed at the Residence Inn in Arlington, which was a great place since it was within walking distance of the Pentagon lots. This year, the hotel was booked and I stayed a little further down in Crystal City at a hotel called the Americana. It was a great place to stay since it is only a few blocks from the Metro station and also a brand-new Whole Foods Market where I filled up on beet salad and spaghetti the day before the race.

I knew it was going to be warm the day of the race but on race morning the temperature was similar to this year's Peachtree Road Race -- 76 degrees and humid. Even though I was less than a half-mile's run from the Pentagon, I had to make sure I got there in plenty of time since the cutoff for entering into the first four waves (I was in the first wave) was at 7:30 a.m. Plus, given recent security concerns, I was not sure how long it would take for me to get through security.

So I started out at 6:50 a.m. and really breezed through security. I got to my wave in plenty of time and waited around a little bit before the race started. When it did, it was crushingly humid. I didn't have a set time in mind -- with my training I knew I was going to be slower than what I'd intended on training -- but I was surprised that I was having trouble running faster. An early glance at my watch said I was running about an 8 minute mile.

I finished the first mile in 7:50 and then struggled to get speed on the second, finishing a little faster at 7:40. After that, it started to rain lightly but with the rain came a nice breeze that lasted the rest of my race. I took my first water at about 2.4 miles.

By this time I could tell trouble was brewing. I finished Mile 3, which has the only significant rise in the race, at 8:17 and just told myself to take it easy. I forgot to bring a GU gel with me and only had a caffeinated Run Gum packet. I'd originally hoped to use this for later in the race but the way things were going I ate it before Mile 4. It helped boost my confidence.

At this point I divided the race up into two mile sections and this one was very familiar to me. It overlaps the course of the Marine Corps Marathon and the Cherry Blossom 10-Miler, which I've run twice.

It was nice to just trot through the National Mall and when we exited onto the highway that brings you over the Potomac River into Crystal City, I noted that although I was running slow (Mile 7 was 9:10), at least on this stretch I did not have to struggle with calf muscle cramping like I did in the 2014 marathon.

I made my way into Virginia and soon you could tell the finish was coming. I finished in 1:27:30, which was a far cry from my 1:22:16 PR from a few years ago in the Atlanta 10-Miler. Coming into this race I thought it would be nearly a given I would PR on a flat course (and) only having to run an 8-minute mile pace.

But of course no race is a given and I was pretty fortunate to have slowed down and run carefully in the humid conditions. During the race I passed by three people who were receiving medical attention, something that I have seen in hot races in the past such as the 2010 Bank of America Chicago Marathon.

After I finished, the race trimmed a mile off the course because of the hot conditions, diverting people from the mall directly onto the highway back to Virginia.

If there's a silver lining to my race performance, I've nearly always rebounded from slow races with much better results in subsequent months. Today's race reminded me of the pretty slow showing I put up in the Atlanta 10-Miler in October 2013, followed up by almost not being able to finish in two hours the Atlanta Thanksgiving Half Marathon.

Those races set me up for a marathon push that ultimately led to my first sub-4 hour finish in the Marine Corps Marathon the following year.

But if anything else, I need to recognize that I have to remain more diligent with my training, especially getting in the right amount of weekly miles and tempo runs.

Time: 8:01 a.m.
Temp: 76 degrees, light rain
Gear: Singlet (Nuun, Pactimo Sports), shorts, Headsweats visor (Phidippides), Newton Gravity V.

Monday, September 4, 2017

Day 3,900: Big Peach Sizzler 10K

After two years I came back to run in the Big Peach Sizzler 10K, although probably not at my best training.

When I ran in it in 2015, I started out way too fast and paid for it near the end, something that I decided to take into account today.

This year, I decided to leave home at 6:30 a.m. and park in the plentiful MARTA lots around the Chamblee station. I had enough time to do a warm-up of about three-quarters of a mile and then settled in well behind the 45-minute pace group.

When the gun sounded, I found my pace was pretty quick, so I dialed it back and tried to settle in for a good run. My first mile was 7:23. I'd hoped to run in the 7:15/7:17 range but I wasn't too discouraged since it was within 10 seconds.

The second mile of the rolling hills came and went and I ran that a little faster, at 7:20. By the third mile I ran a little slower, at 7:27 and I was starting to worry about my pace, which really fell off at 3.8 miles. My fourth mile was 7:51 followed by a fifth mile of 8:15. Lots of people passed me and I started to worry how much slower I would be and whether I would drop out.

During this time my right foot must have been swelling in my shoe (that has only had 16 miles on them) because my foot felt numb. In between footfalls I would move my big toe of that foot back and forth to give myself some circulation. Mile 6 was a little better, 7:39, and I ran the last .26 miles of the race at a 6:19/mile pace, for 47:39, about a minute slower than in 2015.

My training hasn't been great recently although now that it's fall I will have more time to put in more miles and speed. So I'm not too worried but this is a good wake-up call to work harder for the races ahead.

Time: 7:30 a.m.
Temp: 59 degrees
Gear: T-shirt, technical (Team BEEF), shorts, cep compression socks, Nike Zoom Vaporfly 4%.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Marine Corps Marathon entries for sale

In case you missed out on the lottery for the Oct. 22 Marine Corps Marathon, there are entries to be had at the Phidippides running store here in Atlanta. They announced today that they had entries for sale on their website.

I ran in the race in 2014 and it was one of my top memories in my running career. When I saw the announcement, I nearly jumped to sign up for the race but then thought better of it, thinking that I would have some trouble gearing up for a marathon in eight weeks and just two weeks after I'm planning on running in the Army Ten Miler (also in Washington, D.C.).

Someday I'll run in it again and will base my training on the eight words that I said to the Marine who handed me my marathon medal three years ago: "Thank you for your service to this country."

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Day 3,877: Vinings Down Hill 5K

Rocking a sleeveless Team BEEF shirt for the first time for this race!
It's been two years since I ran my current 5K PR in the Vinings Down Hill 5K. I'd been eagerly awaiting this race, in part to have a good 5K qualifying time for Group A of the Peachtree Road Race.

But I also needed to be realistic -- I hadn't done any meaningful speedwork in three weeks, although this meant I was entering the race fresh, right?

I drove up to the Overlook parking deck about an hour before the race started. It was very easy to find parking and I was able to use the restrooms and get a short warmup before the race started. When I was waiting for the race to start, I was very sweaty, a testament to the humidity of this race.

When the race started I wanted to make sure that I did not run too fast like I did in the first mile of last month's Westside Beltline 5K. So I held back lots and made sure I ran strong up the hill that's at the first half mile of the course. My first mile time was 6:55.

I had enough energy to attack the next hill that comes at 1.06 miles. After this my pace started to slow down to about 7:20/7:30/mile. I noticed this after glancing at my watch but there wasn't much I could do about it. My data shows my cadence fell apart at 1.41 miles and I didn't run under a 7-minute-mile pace until well after the last hill had cleared at about 1.88 miles. Mile 2 was 7:11.

I ran at under 7-minute-mile pace until Mile 2.54 and started to slow my pace at the last set of gradual rises before the turn to the Lovett School. Once turned, even though the section is briefly downhill, I ran at about a 7:30/mile pace pretty much to the finish. (Mile 3 was 7:07).

I finished in 22:12, which was not really a time that I was expecting, although this time is a good starting point for what I need to do going into the fall and winter. Thankfully there are races ahead and I can submit my 1:39:20 half marathon time from May 28 for Group A consideration.

Time: 7:59 a.m.
Temp: 73 degrees
Gear: Technical shirt, sleeveless (Team BEEF), Mizuno shorts, cep compression socks, Newton Gravity V.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Day 3,873: Being a Mizuno shoe tester (again)

It was rainy testing shoes for Mizuno, but somebody's got to do it.
I returned to the Atlanta Track Club today to test more shoes for Mizuno. I did it last November and it was pretty fun to run in different shoes and give my opinion of them.

This time around they only needed people who wore men's size 9 shoes. I signed up since my shoe size varies from maker, from the size 9 I wear in the Newton Gravity V to the size 10 that I wear with the Nike Free RN Distance.

I dutifully reported at the Atlanta Track Club's headquarters. This time we were presented with five kinds of Mizuno shoes. We were to run 4-5 minutes in them and then rate them based on how we felt.

The first three were basic cushioned trainers. The last two were much more faster shoes and I ran the best in these, although to be honest, it was fully raining and I had a motivation to get back to the HQ!

In all I ran 2.6 miles. It was a nice way to provide some feedback for running and I hope to have the chance to do it again soon!

Friday, August 4, 2017

Day 3,869: Tread troubles: Saucony ISO Zealot 2

Trouble with tread: My Saucony ISO Zealot 2 after 275 miles.
After bringing my first pair of Saucony ISO Zealot 2s to 500 miles last December, it's clear my second pair won't last that long.

At least the tread doesn't appear to be able to last that long. The other day I noticed the orange rubber of the outsole start to peel off. Today it's clearly worn down to the foam, not a good sign. Most times after 500 miles there's hardly any wear on the treads of my shoes.

My theory is this shoe has extra wear from me using it during double stroller runs, having to push off on my right foot to get going, pushing close to 100 extra pounds.

In any event, these were basically my backup shoes, as I never wanted to race in this type of shoe again after I developed the stress fracture in my shin after last September's Craft Classic Half Marathon. (I'd already purchased these shoes before the injury and kept running in them for easy duty to get the most out of them for my money).

Still, for daily use, they were more than dependable. I'll still try to get as much out of them but probably will be hunting for a cushioned daily trainer.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Day 3,849: Atlanta Beltline Westside 5K

Second-place age group medal from the race.
I really enjoyed running in the Atlanta Beltline's Southwest 5K four years ago and decided to add this one to the calendar.

The current race, however, is slightly different from when I ran in it previously. It starts and ends at West End Park. The Southwest 5K also included cross country elements, such as running a grassy unimproved stretch of the Beltline for the start. Today's race was all on asphalt or concrete.

The race announcer said this year had the most participants for this race and you could kind of tell near the start, which was delayed 15 minutes so race officials could process a large line of people who still hadn't gotten their bibs yet. (It looked like almost 100 people before the race).

I'd already done my mile warmup prior to the scheduled 7:30 a.m. start. There was really nothing to do but wait.

When the gun started, I took off with everyone else running along rolling hills of city streets for the first six tenths of a mile until the course wound around to the Beltline concrete trail.

I'd been moving at about a 6:40/mile pace, which felt ok to me but turned out to be not that great. My first mile was 6:47.

I can tell by my data that at 1.22 miles, my cadence fell apart. I started to run slower and was passed by several guys with gray hair, including the guy who ended up with 1st place in my age group (he ran it in 21:11, which would be a PR for me and nothing I probably could have shot for this day).

Still, I tried to keep up as well as I could. I ran Mile 2 in 7:17 and at that point the race leaves the Beltline to to a turnaround on Langhorn Street SW. This meant going down a hill and going up the hill on the turnaround, so you can see who's ahead of you and who's behind you.

The hill ends at about 2.6 miles when it turns on Oak Street Southwest and it is mainly downhill from here. I ran Mile 3 in 7:23 and waited until the last turn to the finish to really kick. My watch has me running the last .05 miles at a 5:34/mile pace.

I finished in 21:45, which I was kind of surprised to do. Still, my watch had me short of 3.1 but I felt like it was a good effort, even though I need to work on my endurance for the latter half of the race.

I walked back to my car and changed my shirt and got some nuun to hydrate before coming back. With all the gray haired guys who passed me earlier in the race I wasn't confident I even placed in my age group but was happy to have placed second.

This race felt like a good warmup for future 5Ks. I have specific things I want to do with my 5K training and feel like a PR will be waiting ahead.

Time: 7:45 (scheduled start was 7:30 a.m.)
Temp: 75 degrees (90 percent humidity)
Gear: Technical shirt, sleeveless (Brooks), shorts (Brooks), Feetures socks, Newton Gravity V.