Friday, November 28, 2008

CTS 697: The Weather Channel Atlanta Half-Marathon

CHAMBLEE, Ga. -- Memo to self: Even if freezing, try to warm-up a little before doing a race. Even if you don't usually do so.

We lined up in the darkness in 35-39 degree weather at the start of The Weather Channel Atlanta Half-Marathon on Thanksgiving Day. I felt good, had actually done the mileage before the race for once, and didn't think there would be any problems.

The course follows the second half of the Olympic marathon course from the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.

The start reminded me of something from a zombie movie -- thousands of people running in one direction along a four-lane road.

Within the first mile, the muscle above my left shin totally locked up, making it like I was running on a flat tire. My leg wouldn't allow me to accelerate and it was like that through the first six miles.

I thought about triage -- about DNF'ing the race and going home on MARTA at the N8 Lenox station. But for some reason I decided that the race was not done for me -- I would enjoy myself no matter what and finish however I could.

I dreaded the hilly second half of the race, but oddly enough the hills became my friend. The middle part of the course is the same as the July 4 Peachtree 10K and so the first large hill is "Heartbreak Hill," one that I usually dread in the 10K.

But I started running again. My shin muscle relaxed and I went up it with no problem. Same went with the next dreaded hill, a long nearly one mile incline up to 14th Street.

Then I tackled the next big hill, which stretches from 10th Street to the FOX Theatre near North Avenue. No problem.

And the next hill, from West Peachtree to Ellis Street all along Peachtree Road. These last two big hills were part of the 2007 ING Georgia Half-Marathon course and so I knew what to expect.

On the very last hill, a double set going up next to the state Capitol on Mitchell Street, I was finally able to accelerate and I hit the last mile through the Olympic gate to Turner Field pretty hard -- almost too hard, as I bruised my right foot sprinting to the line.

I had a lot of fun, guaranteed a negative split for the race (lol) but because I hadn't exerted myself too much in the first half, I had plenty of energy and was relatively fresh for the second half. I could tell as many spent runners were trying to tackle the hills with nothing in the tank.

Because I was able to finish strong in the second half, I think I can say the shin muscle thing was from not properly warming up instead of improper training for the race -- although I didn't really decide to run in the half-marathon until three weeks ago. lol

Not my best finish, but definitely one that I enjoyed, considering I didn't know how bad the injury was going to be. I've never not finished a race so I'm glad I didn't have a first there.

Time: 7:08 a.m.
Temp: 35-39 degree start, climbed to 50 degrees at finish
Gear: windbreaker, CFLST (William's Run), SST (El Paso), shorts, AP/D1.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Half-marathon packet pick-up

Yesterday I had to pick up my race number for Thursday's Weather Channel Atlanta Half-Marathon. The expo was located at the Intercontiental Hotel in Buckhead.

Only thing is I hate driving to Buckhead because of all the traffic. So I ran there. Hopefully I won't be hurting in tomorrow's race because I ran 9 miles a few days before!

Piedmont Road to Peachtree is part of the full marathon course. It's pretty much all uphill, which says something about if you really want to run that race.

But the day was pretty nice. I was nursing a runny nose that was irritating me but it all was good.

The expo was smaller than what I remember for the ING Georgia Marathon and Half-Marathon but was pretty efficient.

Instead of the old ChampionChip, they use these light disposable strips that I imagine has some kind of RFID in them. A neat example of how the technology changes.

I got home okay, swore I would just take it easy today and can't wait for tomorrow's race.

Time: 12:45 p.m.
Temp: 54 degrees
Gear: LST (Ted's), shorts, AP/D1

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Stone Mountain or bust, part 1 (Candler Park-Decatur)

I've been wanting to do this for a while but had never had the running legs or motivation to do so -- to run the entire length of the Atlanta to Stone Mountain PATH trail.

Not the entire 18-mile distance in a row. In segments, like how I did half of the Ouachita Trail in Arkansas.

The other day while I was out doing laundry, I did the Candler Park-Clifton Road segment, leading up to today.

My goal was to start on McClendon and work my way to Avondale Station in Decatur (it's Milepost 8.86). Here's a map of the section.

When I started, I was not very happy. It was about 42 degrees and I was pretty cold in my CFLST, SST (Carolina, dk blue) and shorts. My legs didn't really work well since I was pretty tired.

I thought I was going to turn around. But I trudged up the hill. I didn't find Park Place on the map so I made my way to Ridgecrest and then went out to Dekalb Avenue, where the PATH continues as a separate bike road.

It was pretty nice. You pass places like Thinking Man's Tavern and the PATH brings you right into Decatur. It was nice that the trail goes right next to the Dairy Queen and Chick-fil-A is only a few blocks away.

When I reached Avondale MARTA station I turned around and headed back. I veered off course a little to use the CFA restrooms and realized that Big Peach Running Co. is right across the street. I had never been there before, so that was pretty exciting for me.

On the way back, I had no problems at all and even though I had been running about 7 miles at that point, the L1 hill from my old Middlebear course wasn't any problem at all.

I'm looking forward to a hopefully fun diversion exploring the rest of the trail!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Operation Nuevo Laredo

I wanted to get in at least one 10+ mile run before deciding if I would sign up for the Weather Channel Atlanta Half-Marathon on Thanksgiving, and I got my shot at it yesterday.

The course was running past Atlantic Station another three miles or so to one of my favorite eateries- Nuevo Laredo.

The weather was good, about 55 degrees climbing to 61 degrees and I felt good the entire time.

While it's not exactly a run I'd do all the time (I had to cross busy Chattahoochee Avenue twice because of shrubs that blocked the way on the side of the road) I'm happy I was able to power through it.

The run ended up being more than 12 miles, and anytime I can burn up 1,200 calories in a go, that's fine with me. lol

Time: 10:45 a.m.
Gear: LST (Ted's Buffalo Stampede), shorts, AP/D1.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Operation Taco Mac - technical notes

I posted today about my run to Taco Mac-Metropolis in Midtown.

Here are the notes:
Temp: 36 degrees
Time: 9:20 a.m.
Gear: CFLST, SST (P'tree 03), shorts, AP/D1, hat.

The hat was pretty crucial since it was so windy. During the run my hands were extremely cold so probably the windbreaker wouldn't be a bad idea on other runs of the same temperature.

Normally 40 degrees is the cutoff for wearing running pants. My legs were a little cold but since they are the least crucial parts of me that need to stay warm, they were fine.

I felt like I could run forever in the cold air! I think my body doesn't heat up and lets me run longer.

Saturday, November 15, 2008


Yesterday I was on my way to what I thought would be a 12-mile run, to one of my favorite Mexican eateries across town.

But I made it to Piedmont Park and then just could not go any farther. One reason was I started out a little late and would have had difficulty making it back before I had to be at work at 2 p.m.

The other reason was my body was acting like a stubborn mule. So I made my way around the park and back.

I've been hesitant to really push it because I've added a lot of miles really recently. No need for injury now.

This morning, I was scheduled to run in the Mayor's Race 2 Recycle 5K at Piedmont Park, about a mile away from my house.

How lazy was I? I didn't want to get up at 7:15 a.m. for the 8 a.m. race. I surmised that I could sleep a few more hours then go for an even longer run. I also thought that I didn't really feel like sprinting a 5K when I could run at my own, leisurely pace.

...which I did. I ran in the hilly neighborhoods near Emory University, enjoying all the fall leaves.

My mileage goal for the week was accomplished with that run and I felt refreshed when I met up with the crew at the Mexican place for lunch.

It's good to 1). Have a plan but 2). Be able to deviate from it when necessary. lol

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Will run for food

I've been following the Jeff Galloway philosophy of having an easy run the day after a more challenging one.

But today was the last day of a free breakfast promo at Ikea. So...I decided I would run there.

By Google, the distance to Ikea from where I live is 4.9 miles. But I decided to cut through Piedmont Park, saving about a mile and a half in the process.

In Fallout 3 terms, I divided up the neighborhoods: Virginia-Highland, Midtown-Piedmont Park, Midtown-Peachtree, Midtown West Peachtree and Atlantic Station.

The breakfast was nothing special ... but it was the right price plus it was the right motivational tool to get me out for another 7 mile run.

Time: 9:45 a.m.
Temp: 55 degrees
Gear: CFLST (William's Run), SST (dk blue Carolina), shorts, AP/D1.

Monday, November 10, 2008

"You are ready"

Last night I sold another pair of Falcons tickets after I was at the office so today I decided to run down there and prepare the tix for shipping.

It took me the first two miles to really get a running rhythm going but after that the run was a true cruise. My speed was good.

The last minute before I ended up back at home from the 6.5 mile run, I kept repeating to myself, "You are ready. You are ready."

I do not know why this came up. And now I wonder, ready for what?

Time: 11:30 a.m.
Temp: 60 degrees
Gear: SST (Shamrock Guinness), shorts, AP/D1.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Strong legs 10K

The Strong Legs 10K is my first 10K in earnest since the July 4 Peachtree. I had scouted out most of the course, so I wasn't too worried.

It was pretty chilly waiting around at Turner Field, making me wish I had more than just a long-sleeved T. Still, it would be above 50 degrees after the race started so no need for that.

At about 25 minutes my muscle over my left shin got tight. That lasted until 33 minutes. A few minutes later, my right foot felt numb, something that lasted until somewhere near the last mile.

As usual, I felt extremely good on the hills, able to pretty much accelerate at will.

The last mile, which was downhill, was pretty fast but I felt up to it.

Definitely a good race for downtown Atlanta and one I hope to do again.

Temp: 50 degrees
Time: 8 a.m.
Gear: LST (Downers Grove), shorts, AP/D1.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Lunch place recon (Zaya)

I decided to focus my run today to find out exactly where my lunch meeting would be -- Zaya, a Mediterranean and Greek restaurant.

Early on, my calf muscles were extremely tight and maybe this discouraged me from running more miles over the summer.

I plodded along until I found the resturant. Then I turned into Little Five Points on my old Middlebear course. Along McDonough, I cut through Candler Street, since I knew I wouldn't have enough time to cover the full course in reverse and make it to lunch on time.

So I ran along the North Ave. edge of Freedom Park and back.

Very nice outside.

Temp: 69 degrees
Gear: SST (Carolina), shorts, AP/D1.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

A near wreck

As far as I can remember (knock on wood), I haven't had a laydown on a bicycle since I've been here -- that's more than six years.

Tonight as I was coming home, I almost did that by myself, I had turned from Piedmont onto Highland-Baker and was looking over my left shoulder to see about traffic.

Unbeknowst to me, I veered off the asphalt onto the concrete and was headed right for the curb!

I panicked and overreacted and was sure that I would fall off my bike trying to get back on the asphalt.

But whew. I didn't.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Course recon (Strong Legs 10K)

I had been hearing how hilly Courtland was on the way back in the Strong Legs 10K, so today I decided I'd run on it and see how it was, since I really hate surprises in races.

Course description is here. I went from my place on Highland to the Freedom Park PATH, caught up with the coures at Highland, followed my bike route to Central Park, turned on it.

Then I sort of cut through the course, turned on Park, continued on until Courtland and took it to the Capitol, where I turned and headed back along Piedmont for the start of the course.

It wasn't as hilly as I thought. The only bad stretch is a road overpass on Courtland near Edgewood, that I had run as part of a 5K to Oakland Cemetery in the past.

It's a really beautiful course, with nice touches running along historic Auburn Avenue.

Made for a nice day out. No knee troubles. I had the heroic horn bit from the Main Title of Fallout 3 in my head.

Time: 2 p.m.
Temp: 71 degrees
Gear: SST (Climb Atlanta), shorts, AP/D1

Saturday, November 1, 2008

William's Walk and Run 5K

I originally signed up for the 10K for William's Walk and Run but I really hate doing loop courses so I just decided to run it in at the 5K (like the Old Soldier's Day race in Alpharetta).

It was plenty cold -- about 40 degrees. While I got my bib number and really cool moisture wicking LST, I wore my windbreaker. Normally I would take it off before the race but I just decided to keep it on.

The local movie theater in the shopping center where the race registration/finish was kindly opened its doors -- there were plenty of people, including me, keeping warm inside.

The race wasn't too bad, so if I was more race ready, I'd say this could be a great 10K to do. I started off really slowly, sort of favoring my right knee, although it wasn't painful.

I just felt like I couldn't go very fast with it.

The second mile was pretty slow, but not as slow. The third mile I went about a minute faster than the first two and I was really blowing by slower runners. It's good to finish strong but hopefully I'll get my running back on pace.

Time: 8:15 a.m.
Temp: 40 degrees
Gear: windbreaker, CFLST, SST (Las Vegas), shorts, AP/D1