Thursday, November 26, 2009

CTS 1,061: The Atlanta Half-Marathon

CHAMBLEE, Ga. -- There were new wrinkles to my second running of the Atlanta Half Marathon today but in the end, only two things mattered: I ran my fastest half-marathon out of five races I've run in Georgia and finished nearly 40 minutes faster than last year's race, lol.

This year my folks were in town and I also had to get a race number before the start to a cousin I hadn't seen since she was 9 years old (14 years ago). I even missed the first MARTA train from Five Points Station (and dropped and lost my MARTA Breeze card at Chamblee Station).

But everything went smoothly. I got there with enough time to reconnect with my cousin. We got up to the start line 3 minutes before the start.

This year was a slightly warmer morning (40 degrees) than last year's race. The only thing was it seemed it was much colder in Chamblee than in downtown Atlanta where I parked my car.

No matter. I was ready to run. Besides having run the course once already, I've participated in the following races that overlap the beginning, middle and end of the course:

Beginning of Course: Big Peach Sizzler 10K, 13.1 Marathon

Middle of Course: Peachtree 10K -- 5 times

End of Course: ING Georgia Half Marathon (inaugural course), Strong Legs 10K -- 2 times

So I'd had a lot of experience with various parts. The main thing though was getting a good pace for the first seven miles right up to Cardiac Hill and making sure that I ran strongly on the last rolling 6 miles. At this point I did take a bag of Sport beans because last year I ran the race so slow they were completely out when I crossed this point in the race.

The first test was Cardiac Hill and I zipped up the double hill up to Piedmont Hospital without using burners at all. It would not be a gross estimation to say I passed about 200 people in this phase of the race. The steepest part of this hill is nothing compared to the Piedmont hill on my gf's course.

Every hill that I mentioned in last year's race was of no consequence. I kept my split times pretty consistent from mile to mile. I didn't really have a kick at the end but at the same time I wasn't trying to turn it on because I felt my race was solid throughout.

I did notice a few strange things. My left calf cramped up a little bit at mile 11.90 on my watch and my right did the same right before the finish line at 13.05 (I ran 13.30 miles according to my watch). I didn't have any water at all during the race so this could be a factor, although it likely is more that I didn't run more than nine miles in preparation for the race (unless you count the 13.1 Marathon in October).

Still, I'm happy to close out the year on a positive note. It's nice to know I can run every day and still have enough to best some of my best race times when it counts.

Time: 7:00 a.m.
Temp: 40 degrees
Gear: CFLST (Atlanta Half '08), SST (Atlanta Braves gray), shorts, Nike Air Pegasus/D5.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

CTS 1,060: Half-marathon packet pick up, the sequel

Today I went to the Intercontinental Buckhead to pick up my packet for the Atlanta Half-Marathon.

Unlike last year when I ran, this year I decided to do a short run in the morning and drive there with my folks, who are in town for Thanksgiving.

It was exciting to be back at the scene where last year I was just getting back into half-marathons. My race last year wasn't the greatest so I'm definitely looking for some redemption.

This year I feel as lean as many of the other runners at the expo who also picked up their race numbers and packets.

I'm looking for a good race as a way to celebrate a very nice running year in 2009.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

CTS 1,056: With the new shoes

Early Thursday morning I ran with the gf on her course. The past few times my legs felt pretty banged up after the run so for that day I decided to use my sixth and last pair of the 2006-era Nike Air Pegasus shoes that I bought from the outlet.

The shoes worked pretty well. I was surprised I didn't need to break them in, they felt comfortable, like walking on an air cushion.

Yesterday I ran across the park to meet co-workers at TAP in Midtown for lunch -- the shoes also felt pretty nice. I am wondering if I should swap out my shoes after 300 miles or so. Seems wasteful but if my feet/legs are for the better for it, then I'm in.

Today I ran to Edgewood to try and get a haircut. It was crowded so I just ran back home.

I am thinking of using the new shoes for the Atlanta Half Marathon coming up next Thursday. We'll see.

Time: 11:00 a.m.
Temp: 52 degrees
Gear: LST (Turkey Trot), shorts, Nike Air Pegasus/D5.

Monday, November 16, 2009

CTS 1,051 Shoes done run their course

Today I ran the gf's route, stopping in between to drop off a video. When I was running up the big hill in the middle of the course, I felt like my shoes were striking the ground with very little bounce.

I hate the idea that it's time already to be breaking in a new pair of shoes, but maybe it's time. I have one more pair of Nike Air Pegasus shoes that I bought a while ago from the Nike Outlet in Dawsonville, Ga. Six pairs at $60 each ... about $20-25 off each pair.

I pretty much blew through them this year as my mileage has increased tremendously. Still, it's been great knowing that whenever my shoes got run down I'd have another pair.

It'll be neat to eventually be searching for a new pair ... but leave that to the new year.

Time: 2:30 p.m.
Temp: 66 degrees
Gear: SST (UNLV), shorts, Nike Air Pegasus/D4.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

CTS 1,049: Strong Legs 10K

It's been more than five years but I finally qualified for Time Group IA (10K time under 50 minutes) of the Peachtree 10K.

As always the race at hand seemed like an unlikely one to do it with, with its rolling-hill course. I mainly wanted to take it easy and run a good race. Last year when I ran the race, I had problems with leg tightening (that later manifested itself in The Weather Channel Atlanta Half-Marathon) but still felt good about the race.

This year, I shaved about 10 minutes off that time.

I had forgotten a lot about the course in a year, not realizing that it runs by the historic Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site before looping back on what is part of the ING Georgia half-marathon route.

I was ready for what I thought was a severe hill in between Courtland and Central Park but didn't know I was on pace to break 50 minutes until the 4th mile split. At the 5th mile split it seemed like it would be all but locked up but I didn't want to bonk out at the final mile. Fortunately two fast runners joined me on the I-20 overpass when we neared Turner Field. One dropped off but I ran pretty much with the other one to the end.

After running 50:25 in the Big Peach Sizzler 10K in October and being unable to kick because of a cold, I felt that I would eventually break the 50-minute mark to qualify for Time Group IA in February's Charles Harris 10K.

But now I can take it easy if I want to and focus on the ING Georgia Half-marathon in March.

Time: 8 a.m.
Temp: About 50 degrees
Gear: SST (Hawaii grey), shorts, Nike Air Pegasus/D4.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

CTS 1,047: A lighter cat

Although I only needed 4.2 miles over the next two days to hit 30 for the week (with the Children's Healthcare of Atlanta Strong Legs 10K on Saturday), I decided to do a reverse route of the Virginia-Highland Summerfest 5K run, adding another small loop with it.

Running that way is pretty nice because it made me feel like I was running on some fall country road somewhere.

I got home and stepped on the scale, something I haven't done in a long time -- I'm about 20 pounds lighter than I was this time last year when I ran in The Weather Channel Atlanta Half-Marathon. Although I haven't stepped on a scale in a long time, I could sort of tell because my race times correspond to the lighter weight.

Still, it's pretty cool. I don't worry about my weight (even when I was heavier), but I'll take it.

Time: 11:30 a.m.
Temp: 55 degrees
Gear: LST (Turkey Trot) -- although probably an SST would have been fine, shorts, Nike Air Pegasus/D4.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

CTS 1,042: Inman Middle School 5K (new PR)

It's funny, the races I've recently done pretty well in recently have been the ones that I told myself I'd just take it easy at the start.

Today I ran in the Inman Middle School 5K, which is only a few blocks away from my house.

The neighborhood is pretty hilly so I just thought I would take it easy. The race started pretty fast, possibly because of all the middle school kids in it. Even a dude in a stroller was faster than me. But near the end of the first mile, a serious incline started to happen and my hill running legs started to fire up. 1st mile: 7:15.

The second mile was sort of a helping of the first. You climbed up Hillpine, which I remembered from the steep Hillside 5K run from last year and then it went down and around past Hillside school, basically the first part of the Hillside 5K.

Then it came back up Park Place and up the monster hill behind Inman Middle School. Even on this hill I could feel my legs really trying to work. I wasn't sure if the kids and a couple of people behind me would try to kick on the other side of the hill but I was pretty beat and didn't care.

Coming down the monster hill, there was a second hill and then the turn to the finish. I told myself I would kick on the hill and see what happened. What happened was that I felt like I was at my VO2 max -- I felt I was at my limit.

But I saw the time and the clock was nearing my old PR of 22:49. I went to the red zone again and then saw "22:48" when I crossed the finish.

It's pretty awesome because I never thought I would be able to run faster than that and having my original PR in Eugene, Ore. -- a mecca of runners and running greats -- was a pretty magical thing. That race was much different as it was flat and fast and at the end I got behind a much faster runner and let him pace me in.

This time it was just hills and more hills and I pushed hard by myself for the milestone.

Time: 9 a.m.
Temp: 44-52 degrees
Gear: SST (Jingle Bell run), shorts, Nike Air Pegasus/D4

Friday, November 6, 2009

CTS 1,041: Middlebear

It was chilly in my place when I got up and I really didn't want to go outside. But I had a strange urge to go running.

I looked up the temperature -- 36 degrees -- and what I've worn in the past. I found a post from February saying that I didn't believe I would keep warm with what I'd recommended previously for that temperature, but it worked.

And it worked again. With the cold, I was able to run at a decent clip and decided I would do the entire Middlebear route.

Time: 7:50 a.m.
Temp: 35.8 degrees
Gear: CFLST, SST (KoL brown), shorts, Nike Air Pegasus/D4.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

CTS 1,039: Oh, dogcrap

After procrastinating for about an hour, I finally got out for my run today. It felt a little cool out but then was nicer as I warmed up.

Right near the end of my time in Piedmont Park, just when I was thinking I should be careful cutting through a grassy area because of the fear of dogcrap, I step in ... dogcrap.

After trying to scrape what I could from the shoe, it gave me incentive to run strong the rest of the way home. I was able to give my shoe a good Lysol dousing and then later fine washing with a hose.

Time: 11:10 a.m.
Temp: 66 degrees
Gear: SST (Caesar's Indiana), shorts, Nike Air Pegasus/D4.