Friday, November 26, 2010

Day 1,426: A no-watch run

This morning, still sore from running in yesterday's Atlanta Half Marathon, I ventured up North Highland Avenue with the fiancee. I wore an older pair of running shoes since my current ones (as well as my two Garmin watches, my Nike+ iPod sensor) were at her place.

I used an old-school stopwatch plus she had her Nike+ iPod. Either way, having run the route to Freedom Parkway and back many times, I was familiar with the 1.5 mile distance.

Nice day to be out, though. Today I made sure I had all of my running gear for tomorrow's run but I can't imagine that I'll do too many miles heading into next Sunday's Rock'n'Roll Las Vegas Half Marathon since my strategy of low miles a few weeks into the race seemed to help out yesterday.

Time: 8:30 a.m.
Temp: 56 degrees
Gear: Tech T (Champion C9 gray), shorts, Nike Air Pegasus+ 26/C.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Day 1,425: Atlanta Half Marathon

Nice weather greeted us today for the Atlanta Half Marathon. After the Atlanta Track Club ditched the full marathon for this year (it'll be back with a new course at Atlantic Station on Oct. 30), the half started and ended at Turner Field with a new course.

Because I didn't get out of my car until about 15 minutes before the race start, I ended up at the very back of my corral, which left second at 7:34 a.m. It was extremely congested at the start and maybe well past the first mile, which was 9 minutes for me.

Because of that, and the humid weather, I mentally discounted the thought of going for any record pace. But in the end, I ran my fastest half marathon in Georgia, and my third fastest half marathon time (I ran in the Aug. 1 Rock'n'roll Chicago Half Marathon three seconds faster).

Early on the course was pretty gentle and it was a nice boost to be running on home court surfaces, passing my office building, running along Marietta Street in the opposite direction of the Georgia Marathon/Half Marathon course (which is identical to my marathon training).

Then came 17th Street in Atlantic Station, also along the marathon training course. In Midtown, I took the 14th Street hill (which I ran up in the 2009 Four Seasons Race for Research 10K run) at an extremely good pace and then followed that course into Piedmont Park.

When the 10th Street hills came and later when the course turned down Juniper's rolling hills (that I raced on during the 2008 Peachtree Road Race's variant course end at Juniper and Ponce de Leon because of drought restrictions in Piedmont Park), I no longer had the decent acceleration that I had and basically just tried to keep a good pace.

For whatever reason the second part of Juniper that runs downtown always seems to suck the life out of me (as it did earlier this month in the Strong Legs 10K). But I tried to maintain a good pace and prepped myself for what I thought would be the last major hill on the course, up Auburn Avenue past the Martin Luther King Center.

Unlike in the Strong Legs run, I had no acceleration up this hill. I was thankful we turned down Boulevard but not real happy that the intersection with Memorial also is a hill. (It's funny the stuff you never notice in a car).

But around mile 11 I got a second wind and started to regain my pace. I still held back a little for the double hill at Mitchell Street next to the state Capitol and the I-20 overpass that I usually dread going.

But there weren't any fast kickers at the end here and I developed a nice kick of my own to the end. I was soaked in sweat and pretty tired but happy to do this race for the third time.

I think it's the first time I've had a pair of shoes that I've run a 5K, 10K, half-marathon and a full marathon in.

Time: 7:34 a.m.
Temp: 54 degrees
Gear: Tech T (CS yellow), shorts, Nike Air Pegasus+ 26/D.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Day 1,424: A day to relax

With just a day before the Atlanta Half Marathon, I took the opportunity to take a very easy run to get my haircut and to hit two grocery stores for things that we need for our Thanksgiving Day meal.

I hope everyone is healthy, happy and safe for the holiday.

Time: 9:29 a.m.
Temp: 57 degrees
Gear: Tech T (Big Peach Sizzler), shorts, Nike Air Pegasus+ 26/D.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Day 1,423: Atlanta Marathon announcement

The Atlanta Track Club today announced the new iteration of the Atlanta Marathon, an event that had been held since 1963 and predated the formation of the track club.

This year, possibly for the first time, they decided to not have a Thanksgiving Day marathon and instead offered a half marathon that starts and ends at Turner Field. (In the past, half marathon participants like myself would have to go to Chamblee and run pretty much the length of Peachtree Road and end in Turner Field).

So the next Atlanta Marathon will be held on Oct. 30 and will start and end in Atlantic Station. Of course, not everyone is happy that the race will be held outside of Thanksgiving.

The date was selected apparently to allow marathoners to run both the full and half in the same year:

"We think this will allow folks to do the marathon on Halloween and come back three weeks later and do the half," said Tracey Russell, executive director of the track club.

At this morning's press conference before the expo for the Atlanta Half Marathon, Russell said the entire marathon course would be "entirely in the city of Atlanta."

She said it would include Centennial Olympic Park, Georgia Tech, the CNN Center, Philips Arena, the Georgia Aquarium, Turner Field, the Martin Luther King Center, Grant Park, Virginia-Highland, Piedmont Park, Buckhead and Peachtree Road.

This does away with the previous course, which followed the marathon course of the 1996 Olympic Games -- start at Turner Field, run up Piedmont to Peachtree and up to Chamblee before turning around and pretty much following Peachtree back downtown and finishing at Turner Field.

"With a super-scenic course, we feel it's going to be a good opportunity for first-time marathoners," she said.

The race will include a marathon relay.

The club already is offering registration for this race. Until Dec. 31, the registration is $25 off, or $55.

It's really something that I'll consider, to run in a new course very close to home for the first time. I'd already put aside time to run in the 36th Marine Corps Marathon on Oct. 30, but I may belay that to do this race.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Day 1,413: Race2Recycle 5K (PR)

Talk about a last-minute decision. We'd discussed possibly running in the Race2Recycle yesterday. Piedmont Park is less than a mile away so how lazy would we be if we didn't run in it?

This morning, it seemed nice to stay in a sleep a while. But still, we made our way to the park for registration.

It was a pretty small group but a really nice day to run with temperatures about 40 degrees.

We started out with a fast first mile. I couldn't initially get my watch to start when the race started (there were a bunch of pre-race speeches and my watch went back to hibernation).

I thought my watch said "7:05" -- so my thoughts already were on trying to break my personal best, set June 5th in the Virginia-Highland Summerfest 5K run. The Garmin data, below, shows I ran about a 7:27 first mile.

I felt pretty comfortable after the first mile and when we got to the bowl section of the park (near Park Tavern), I tried to work my way to a group of three runners. My plan was to just try to settle in with them and then figure things out for the rest of the way.

But around the curve I ended up breaking free of them. I continued my way around the bowl and up its ramp. The course wound around a short side of the lake. Luckily I was probably about 100 feet behind a female runner who had a good pace going up the hill. (She eventually became the first overall female runner about 20 seconds behind me).

I caught up with her at the top of the hill that's just above the park's track and then started to make my way down it toward the finish. When I turned the corner and passed "Mile 3" I looked at my watch and then just gunned it in about three waves.

I beat my PR by about 17 seconds and finished 11th overall in the race. My fiancee placed first in her age category and was the fourth female overall.

I think the relatively flat race helped me, plus being able to pace myself behind the fast female runner at the right time of the race. I'm probably lighter than I've been in the past and running at least 4 miles a day also helps.

But what a nice way to finish the week and start out the day.

Time: 8:36 a.m.
Temp: 40 degrees
Gear: Tech T, short (Atlanta Green Dash 5K), Tech T long, shorts, Nike Air Pegasus+ 26/D.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Day 1,408: The Georgia Half Marathon course

After running over the weekend in temperatures that were in the low 30s, the weather returned with a treat -- temperatures in the 60s.

I woke up late to fully take advantage of this and I'd been thinking of doing the Georgia half marathon course for a while. In the past, I'd done the greatest hits of it, mainly not running up the hill at Freedom Parkway and also back along North Avenue and not running on Piedmont all the way to North Avenue and up the challenging Central Ave. hills.

Today I was feeling pretty good about it, so I headed off, catching the course at Virginia Ave. and Park Place and running through the park.

The one thing about the warmer weather was that I got dehydrated pretty easily. I drank a bunch near Edgewood and Piedmont avenues and then again when I stopped back at my place to check on the cats at mile 12.8.

On the way back, I had a pretty nice sprint.

I'd say that most of the hills that I used to fear on the course are no longer a problem.

Later on, however, after the route, my legs felt sore, probably because I decided to go light on hills when I trained for the Bank of America Chicago Marathon.

But now I've decided to add hill training in earnest to my courses for hopefully an enjoyable Thanksgiving Atlanta Half Marathon.

Time: 12:04 p.m.
Temperature: 64 degrees
Gear: Tech T, short (Big Peach Sizzler '09), shorts, Nike Air Pegasus+ 26/D.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Day 1,406: Strong Legs 10K

Today was the coldest Strong Legs 10K race in the last three years that I've participated in it.

More used to 50 degree starts, this morning it was 33 degrees. I brought a bunch of different clothes to the Turner Field parking lot but in the end didn't wear my hat or gloves.

After the first mile, my windbreaker came off and was wrapped around my waist. In between the 2nd and third miles, I thought about a way to rid myself of the light running pants I was wearing (running shorts underneath). But since there was no practical way, I just left them on. I probably would have warmed up had I just worn shorts.

Overall, I ran a pretty consistent race, even though I was about 1:20 off of last year's time. Compared to last year, I felt like I ran evenly the first two hills (up Auburn Ave.) and then later in the Central Park neighborhood.

But what surprised me was that after that 4th mile hill, I felt like I was done. There was one more difficult hill, the overpass on Juniper over Georgia State and I was surprised I didn't lose a bunch of time in the fifth mile.

In the last half-mile, I settled in with a group of three runners. They helped me around the curve toward Turner Field but on the last hill I had broken free and kicked my way in to get under 50 minutes. It's the fourth consecutive 10K I've run in (dating back to last year's Strong Legs 10K) that I've qualified for Group A of the Peachtree 10K.

I think I'll resume some more hill training runs. After being very comfortable with the hills in the Doug Kessler Lightning 10K and the Kennesaw Locomotive Half Marathon, I was a little surprised to have trouble with the race's third hill on the overpass.

Time: 8:04 a.m.
Temp: 33 degrees
Gear: windbreaker, CFLST, SST (Carolina gray), running pants, shorts, Nike Air Pegasus+ 26/D.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Day 1,404: The new shoes are back

Yesterday I started wearing my newest pair of running shoes, the ones that I used for the Bank of America Chicago Marathon on Oct. 10.

I'd only had about 350 miles on my previous pair, but recently I felt more aches in my legs and knees after running in them.

I know that manufacturing varies from shoe to shoe and this year my mileage has varied from shoe to shoe -- from about 500 miles with the all-black shoes that I ran the ING Georgia Marathon in at the end of March to 400 miles on its successor.

I usually like to keep two pairs of shoes that I can run in at any given time, so I guess that means I'll have to look around for a new pair.


Also recently rain and cold weather have come this way. Last month I was pretty spoiled as it was warm enough to run in short-sleeved technical T-shirts -- I actually had to go into the closet and bring out the box where they were all packed up.

Soon I imagine I'll have to put them back in the box -- the last few days I've been wearing their long-sleeved counterparts.