Monday, March 20, 2017

Day 3,732: Wanna run a half marathon for the cost of an overpriced 5K?

The blitz is back! I noticed a Facebook posting tonight showing great deals for the early bird registration for next year's Publix Georgia Marathon and Half Marathon!

The rates are basically 50 percent of the highest price for those events, for a limited time. Thus, $50 for the half marathon and $70 for the full marathon.

But wait, there's more! If you're an Atlanta Track Club member, you get an even bigger discount on the base price. It would cost $43.50 for the half marathon ($6.50 discount). That's basically like getting to run a half marathon (with all of the perks) for the price of a 10K or an expensive 5K today.

The full marathon would cost $60.90 ($9.10 discount). There's also an online fee of less than $4 as well.

It reminds me of when I signed up for the 2016 Publix Half Marathon for $38.80, after the track club purchased the event. It turned out to be even greater deal for me after I set a PR of 1:42:40.

Despite the great price I think I'll be skipping the race again, since I have other races around that time next year already mentally marked on my calendar.

But don't miss it if you're thinking of toeing the line again!

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Day 3,716: Red Hare Brewwatch 5K

MARIETTA, Ga. -- After about a year and a half, I returned to Red Hare Brewery to participate in another one of their great races.

Unlike when I ran in the Red Hare Chase 5K in September 2015, this race was held in the winter/spring and by a different racing company, Five Star NTP (which held the May 2015 race in which I had my first Master's win).

Despite the change I thought the race course would pretty much be the same, hilly for the first two miles and then screaming downhill for the finish.

Unlike in September, it was pretty cold this morning. I decided to not do two layers, instead depending on arm sleeves I picked up the year before at the Atlanta Track Club's warehouse sale (for $5, a great deal!). I also drove there an hour early to make sure I got a good parking space.

The race director announced it would be an "out and back" course, something I just thought he meant the loop that the previous race followed. When we started out I wanted to make sure I was running steady at about a 7 minute/mile pace to preserve myself for the hills in the middle part of the course.

The first time I realized something was different about this race was the fact that halfway down Cobb Parkway I could see one of the race leaders coming back up the road toward me. Then a few steps later I realized it was a literal turnaround after the first half of the race!

At this point I decided to run aggressively up the few remaining hills back to the start. I was passing people, including some who I thought might pass me back in the remaining part of the race, but no matter.

After the turn off of South Cobb Drive it was downhill and I was trailing a guy younger than me who was running pretty fast. I followed him for about a half mile and just pretended I was on a interval training session. He kept a few seconds ahead of me but my confidence increased in the last few meters before the finish because I could see I was gaining on him.

I finished in 21:13, which would be a 5-second PR for me, although later I realized my watch said 3.07 miles instead of 3.1 (and the course is not USAT&F certified). My splits were 7:00/7:05/6:46 with the last .07 miles at a 5:51/mile pace.

 But I've since learned that with "PR"s even in non-certified courses, it has not taken too long for me to make or surpass that mark on a certified course.

I ended up with first place in my age group and of course, the post-race party that included six 6-ounce pours of beer and hot dogs from Whole Foods and wings from Taco Mac (I didn't eat any wings but I did win $5 towards my next visit at Taco Mac).

Once again it was a nice event and I look forward to participating in more races there!

Time: 8:31 a.m.
Temp: 30 degrees
Gear: Technical T-shirt, short (Red Hare Chase 5K, 2015), Mizuno arm sleeves, shorts, cep compression socks, Saucony Type A6.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Day 3,715: The 500th Mile: Nike Free RN Distance

My first pair of Nike Free RN Distance shoes, after 500 miles.
I've been on a quest to find light, low-drop running shoes ever since I ran in the Saucony Kinvara 5 in preparation for the 2014 Marine Corps Marathon -- and didn't like how my feet felt when I stepped on a rock while wearing them.

When I bought these shoes I immediately loved what I had -- a light, low (4 mm) drop shoe that seemed ready to rock right out of the box. It was versatile for both running solo and stroller runs in the neighborhood. The Lunarion cushioning is great and I don't fear stepping on rocks in the park anymore. (Sometimes small bits of gravel will get stuck in the hexagon-shaped sole).

At some point last summer when I was training for the Chicago Marathon I injured my right heel and it made it unpleasant to run in these shoes. Even in September when I was testing various shoes for Mizuno I thought that these shoes were too light for me and that I might be better off with the Lunar Glide.

But after that, the shoes really grew on me. Maybe it was because I was no longer running higher mileage or high-mileage races. They seemed to improve as I got closer to 500 miles and are light enough (8.8 ounces for size 10) that they are my go-to shoe whenever I need to travel. I even thought about racing a 5K in them but really don't like the idea of doing so with a shoe that has so many miles.

I have a second pair of the RN Distance that I bought last fall, before my heel injury and am looking forward to continuing running with it. My newly retired pair likely will be stashed in my weekend bag (replacing an older pair of Skechers Go Run Ride 4s that will go to donation) for short getaways.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Day 3,709: Wiphan Warthog Waddle 5K

ROSWELL, Ga. -- I'd had this race on my calendar ever since falling short of first place in my age group last year by a single second.

I'd like to say I spent that year wisely, honing my 5K skills, but I really hadn't. I've been putting in some speedwork but nothing that will bring me to the next level yet.

Anyway, I left the house and there was light, misty rain. I wasn't sure if this meant I would have a rainy race but by the time I got to the race start it was looking ok. I got my bib and T-shirt from this well-organized race and put in maybe a third of a mile as a warmup.

The construction that was going on last year has been completed and the start and finish now wrapped around a different part of the church parking lot.

After running in two recent 5Ks in which I started out way too fast -- and paid for it -- I decided I would limit myself to about a 7-minute mile pace in the start. So when the start came I felt myself slowing down, and then slowing down too much. I worried I wouldn't be able to run anywhere near a 7-minute mile, but the first mile chimed at 7:01.

At the end of the first mile and throughout the second mile are rolling hills, which slowed me considerably last year. I felt like I was doing ok in them and no one was passing me, either. I ran this mile in 7:06.

By this time, I had a weird position. The really fast runners were at least 15 seconds ahed of me and the people behind me were back about the same amount of time. I worked to keep steady and when I entered the church parking lot again and neared the finish, I eased up a little bit as it seemed like no one was on my tail. Mile 3 was 7:03.

When I neared the finish I could see that 22 minutes had elapsed. I finished in 22:16 (my watch recorded a minute and three seconds for the last .17 miles for a 6:36/mile pace). It was 16 seconds slower than last year (Edit: it turned out it was exactly the same time as last year, I had no idea) but I didn't feel like I could have done any more.

While waiting for the awards, I looked at the monitor and it showed that I was second in my age group, behind a runner who ran in 20:15. I shrugged at that point, knowing that even if I wanted to, I would not have been able to run faster than that.

So I dutifully waited for the awards to come and I started to move forward after they announced the third place winner for my age group and then abruptly stopped in my tracks when second place was announced and it was not me. I was confused for a second but then elated when my name was announced for first place. The faster runner was first male masters.

It was a great race for a great cause -- the money goes toward the church's ministry in Zambia. I know that I'll have to work a little bit if I want to try for first in my age group next year.

I am a little confused, however, at my race tactics. I wonder how I would have done if I had just tried to run much faster in the first mile and then hold on the next two, as I usually do. I was glad that I had gas left in the tank for the rolling hills and the end of the race because I ran a little slower but am wondering if I need to take more risks to consistently run under 22 minutes.

Time: 8:30 a.m.
Temp: 57 degrees
Gear: Technical T-shirt, short (Marine Corps Marathon "Mission Accomplished" 2014), Patagonia Strider PRO shorts, cep compression socks, Saucony Type A6.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Day 3,692: A night with Nuun

It's a lot of fun to go to a company's event when you are a fanboy. Lots of swag here.
I wasn't sure what I was getting into when I shoved a tablet of lemon-lime Nuun in my mouth and started eating it.

Next thing I knew I'd won a pint glass from the Seattle-based company that selected me last month to be one of its brand ambassadors.

Nuun, pronounced "noon", was holding a free hydration class at the local REI to help prepare runners for April's Ragnar Trail Atlanta. I was just there because it seemed like a great way to learn more about a product I'd been using for the last few years training in Atlanta's hot summers. (I don't have plans to run in the relay but do have experience with relay races, having run in the 2000 Hood to Coast relay).

We learned about Nuun's array of products, from "Active" which is what you use to replace electrolytes after a run, to "Energy" which also contains caffeine to their new "Vitamins" which is more for everyday use.

They also have a Nuun Plus, which you use to add carbohydrates to another Nuun product to help your body absorb electrolytes better for longer runs of 90 minutes or more. (They told us that later this year they would be coming out with a powder form of this to make it easier to pour in a container of water).

I learned the trick of how you can chew a Nuun tablet to help replenish electrolytes in the middle of a run (hence the tablet eating contest) and we of course sampled different kinds of Nuun tablets mixed with water.

We also got to try mixing two or more different flavors with water and then we all did a blind taste test to see what concoction was the best. (I won that too, by just mixing together my favorites, blueberry pomegranate and blackberry citrus, which we learned about in last month's Hot Chocolate expo).

And then there was the swag, as seen above, which was a great reward for being present to listen to something the wife and I both love drinking after workouts.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Day 3,691: A gait analysis and finally wearing Newtons

I had some time on my hands today so I popped into Highland Runners, a local running store that specializes in selling Newton running shoes.

While I'm used to just going into stores and ordering what I need (I usually do a lot of research beforehand), the sales guy asked if I'd ever had a gait analysis.

Since I never had one, and I had a few more minutes to kill, I went ahead and did it. Basically I ran barefoot on a treadmill for a few minutes while he took video of my stride with an iPad. Then he showed me the angles of my stride -- possible minor supination, or my foot rolling outward during a stride.

I don't think there were any surprises here. I've been running for 30 years and I wear very neutral shoes -- I've even mentioned here that most of my running shoes show very little wear after 500 miles of running.

So he outfitted me in a pair of Newton Gravity V shoes, basically the shoe I'd researched would help me. The shoes have rubber "lugs" under the midfoot and they are to help guide your feet where to strike when you run. You replace the shoe when the lugs are worn down and he said they could go for 500 or more miles.

So I'm pretty excited about trying them out. I've been looking for another low drop shoe that is a little more cushioned than what I already have.

Below are a few pictures from Saturday's Tartan Trot:

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Day 3,688: Tartan Trot 5K

Win a medal, get a cake.
DUNWOODY, Ga. -- Ever since getting a free cake in last year's Tartan Trot 10K, this has been on my list of races to do this year.

It's such a nice community race and the donated cakes by churchgoers makes it even more fun to run in.

This year, however, I decided I would try my feet at the 5K distance instead of the 10K. After picking up the packet on Friday and driving the course, I was happy to learn the first two miles of the race would be all downhill, followed by what looked like a few uphill sections at the end of the race.

This meant the course was basically a lot like the Fast Track 5K in Duluth that I ran last May.

And I ran it nearly exactly. My first mile here was 6:27. Everyone was running hard! I felt like I was out of my element but I kept on chugging. Second mile slowed to 6:51 and a few people passed me. My last mile was 7:33 and I really wanted to quit.

Instead of two uphill sections, there actually are three on the latter part of the course. I was passed by three guys, then a few teenagers. I really thought my chance of winning my age group (and getting a free cake) were slim.

But I finished the race and waited around. When they finally announced my age group, I was concerned that after they read out the third- and second-place winners I was completely knocked out of the group!

I was elated when I heard the announcer fumble over my last name. Wow! I didn't expect to win my age group but yes, I will take a free cake!

I ended up the race in 21:57, which is a vast improvement over the 23:34 I ran at the end of the year in the Stamp Out Poverty 5K in Grant Park. Last year, it took until May before I broke 22 minutes in a 5K.

I decidedly dressed down for this race but maybe should have worn even less -- I learned during intervals last week that I needed to ditch the long-sleeve technical T-shirt because I got too warm running fast. I took off my gloves in the first mile but found my hands were freezing during much of the race.

The visor worked perfectly -- kept my head warm but also able to vent heat. And my Saucony Type A6 racing flats, which I haven't worn since last February, were excellent shoes this time around.

There are a few more 5Ks on my radar this winter/spring so I'm hoping to use this as a motivator to keep working on my endurance, especially in the third mile.

Time: 8:30 a.m.
Temp: 27 degrees
Gear: T-shirt, short (Falcons orbital), Techinical T-shirt, long (Locomotive Half), Brooks Spartan shorts, cep compression socks, nuun headsweats visor, Saucony Type A6.