Thursday, December 31, 2015

Day 3,287: The Nine-Year Run

This morning's run in Piedmont Park closed out 2015 and nine years for the streak.
I was able to get a short run in to Piedmont Park this morning before taking my parents to the airport, marking nine consecutive years of daily running.

The streak (now 3,287 days for 12,338.53 miles) has always been more of a trick for me to keep me active. I found in the years that predated it all the way to when I was 16 that if I didn't run continuously I would find ways to not run and then months would go by before the next time I put on shoes.

In the earlier years I used to use it as an excuse to not try to run fast and injure myself. I don't think I really knew much about training then. It's only been in the last few years with the influence of the Hanson's Marathon (and Half Marathon) Method that things have sunk in.

I still remember ending last year and not knowing what direction my running would take for 2015. And then I ran my first sub-7 minute mile in nearly two decades in the Hawks Fast Break 5K in February and was completely hooked. It led to PRs in the 5K, 4-miler and 10-mile distances. I also picked up a bunch of age group awards and my first ever Master's overall award in smaller races.

So for next year I plan to keep it going, with goals to hopefully finally break my half-marathon PR that's lasted since the first time I ever tried one, nearly 18 years ago. It would be great to PR in the 10K as well.

I'll have extra time from kiddo duties in the fall and I hope to possibly train for another marathon, maybe for early 2017.

Who knows, though? I should know by now that I just make up my plans as I go along.

Time: 8:05 a.m.
Temp: 54 degrees
Gear: Technical T-shirt, long (Atlanta 10-Miler 2013), shorts, Saucony Iso Zealot.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Day 3,276: Out of the Box: Skechers Go Run Ride 4

A brand-new pair of Skechers Go Run Ride 4s.
This year has been one of the crazier ones when it comes to running shoes for me. I have no less than five active pairs, not counting my racing flats, although three of them are nearing the end of their lifespan.

I have a pair of Nike Air Zoom Pegasus+ 31s, they are the oldest with 404.39 miles on them and I mainly use them when I run with a stroller. I still have my Saucony Iso Zealots (382.93 miles), an old pair of Skechers Go Run 3s (375.86 miles) and my Brooks Pure Connect 3 shoes, which have 58.31 miles. I bascially retire them when they hit 500 miles, so if the three oldest shoes are still in my rotation, it will be a while before any of them gets retired.

The other day my in-laws gave me a gift card to Dick's Sporting Goods and I found a great deal there -- a pair of Skechers Go Run Ride 4s for about $60, which is my eternal sweet spot for running shoe purchases.

Today I got to try them out on a 6-mile run in 35-degree weather. They felt light but they also were cushioned properly (my old complaint with Skechers Go Run 2s and the Go Run 3s were that they were light but I could feel it if I stepped on a rock on the sidewalk).

Comparing tread: The new Skechers Go Run Ride 4 (left); Go Run 3 (right).
I opted to use the additional inserts that came with the shoes (the yellow items with the shoes in the picture above). I don't know if that increases the drop from 4mm to 8 mm or more but it felt well worth it during my run to Atlantic Station and back.

The last two days have finally been cold (what a difference a week makes!) -- it was 33 degrees yesterday and I wore a little more layers than I should have but today I think I wore the right things. I thought I was going to run 10 miles today but my legs thought better of it, just a week after running in the Jeff Galloway half marathon.

Time: 7:39 a.m.
Temp: 35 degrees
Gear: Technical T-shirt, long (Triple Peach '13), technical mock turtleneck (Marine Corps Marathon '14), Brooks Spartan running pants, gloves, Skechers Go Run Ride 4.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Don't miss the blitz! (Publix Georgia Half for $38.80)

At the nice expo for the Jeff Galloway 13.1, I wistfully looked over at the Publix Georgia Marathon and Half Marathon booth but at $65, it was still too much for me to go over and sign up, especially since I've participated in the event six times.

But today is a different day. The Atlanta Track Club announced they've acquired the race that was their main competitor in the city and are now offering deals today.

They are offering the expo price of $65 for the half marathon today ... but if you're an Atlanta Track Club member you get an additional $26.20 off. That's $38.80, or cheaper than what I paid for the JG 13.1 yesterday!

So ... of course I signed up. The deal is only good today, after that the entry fee goes up on a sliding scale towards Christmas. And the $26.20 discount is only good today. Afterwards, the standard discount for track club members applies.

I signed up for two half-marathons in less than 12 hours. Someone stop me!

Monday, December 14, 2015

The early bird for next year's JG 13.1 costs $39

Wanna run a half marathon inexpensively? Flip the card.
In the race packet for the JG 13.1 was a coupon code that would reduce the early bird price for next year's race from $69 to $49.

But you have to register between today and Jan. 9 to get the offer. Tonight I decided to go ahead and register and it turned out that with the coupon code, the race costs even less --  only $42 ($39 for the race and a $3 fee).

Even better! It reminds me of the early years of the Publix Georgia Half Marathon where you could get in for $25 if you were one of the first 100 people to register.

I love great registration fee deals. My best marathon deal was registering for last year's Honolulu Marathon for $55 (it was only $26 for Hawaii residents). I doubt I will ever run another marathon for that cheap again.

So count me in. (I would have run in it anyway no matter the cost since I want to attain the race's five-year streaker status since I ran in this year's race and ran 13.1 miles with a stroller in March just to get credit for the 2014 race as a virtual runner).

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Day 3,269: JG 13.1

Just 17 days ago I was pretty upset with myself. Right before Mile 7 I bonked and I knew that having one of my best race times in the Thanksgiving Day Half Marathon would not even be close to reality.

I blamed it all on lack of running, running too fast at the start and not fueling properly for the race.

But this race, the JG 13.1, loomed. Seventeen days really wasn't enough time to fix any running issues I might have had in the last race. Plus I was eager to give myself some downtime after a busy running year and look forward to next year's goals.

So when race day came I told myself I would just do the best I could. I did try to help myself fuel better, eating half of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and half of a banana before I left home at about 7:20 to get to the 8 a.m. start (it's nice to live close to the start!). I also packed four GU gels, telling myself I would try to avoid bonking at Mile 7 by consuming the first one at Mile 5.

Since the start line was only two miles away and the finish just a mile, I opted to leave the car at home. I ran a warm up run from home through Piedmont Park and then walked up the large hill on 12th Street to get to the start.

Before the start, Jeff Galloway, whose name is attached to the race, advised runners to run the first three miles slower than their typical pace. I thought this was good advice because of the rolling hills on Juniper Street in Mile 1 and the hills along Central Park to Mile 2.

I thought I would run faster on the downhill section on Freedom Parkway and to the Carter Center, and while I did, it wasn't really enough to erase the deficit of time I was building on top of my PR time.

By Mile 4 I was 44 seconds behind PR pace.  At Mile 5 on the Eastside Beltline Trail I used my first (and only) GU for the race. I wanted to make sure I wouldn't bonk near Mile 7 like in the Thanksgiving race.

Really at this point I was skeptical of breaking my PR and so I just decided to run solidly through the race. Up hilly St. Charles Avenue to Mile 7 I just told myself that I was a good hill runner and didn't try to pay attention to the time. (At this point I was 1 minute, 3 seconds slower than PR pace).

It was nice that we entered my home neighborhood of Virginia-Highland. Part of the course here mirrors the Publix Georgia Half Marathon and it felt familiar. After Mile 9 on 10th Street at the edge of Piedmont Park I found myself running by myself with no other runners near me. It was a weird feeling, since in many larger races you nearly always have runners around you.

Once we entered Piedmont Park Commons past Mile 11 it felt very comfortable for me, since this part of the park is part of my tempo run trail -- and where I've single and double-strollered many times.

After rounding the bowl, we ran along Lake Clara Meer, where I do the bulk of my interval training. Only this time I didn't have any speed in me and wasn't too concerned about my finish since I could hear the announcer report a 1:45 finish for some runner and I was only on the south side of the lake.

A little bit later, I saw my watch said "1:46" and I knew I didn't have any chance of making a PR. I was amazed, though, when I finally looked at my watch after crossing the finish that it said 1:47:34, my third fastest race time and only 56 seconds off of my PR. (Incidentally I later saw my watch said the course was short at 13.03 miles, although my friend Anna recorded a 13.13 mile course).

I was pretty happy with my race time, my second 1:47 this year (I ran 1:47:46 in the Hotlanta Half Marathon in August).

Here I was about to write off this race before I even ran in it today and instead got back confirmation that my running shape is not as off as I thought. In any event, it's something nice to build on for 2016.

Time: 8 a.m.
Temp: 48 degrees
Gear: Technical T-shirt, short (Chicago Rock'n'Roll Half Marathon), shorts, Brooks Pure Connect 3.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Day 3,258: The South River Trail (Gresham Park to Georgia Perimeter College)

It was raining a little bit today so I decided to not do the double stroller to take the little guy to preschool. After I dropped him off, I still had a run I needed to do to continue the streak.

So I decided to take the 14-month-old on a single stroller ride on the PATH Foundation's South River Trail, the newest section connecting Gresham Park on the southeast side to Georgia Perimeter College. Round trip I got a 6-mile run out of it, something I'll take any day.

The trail follows Sugar Creek, crosses under Interstate 285 and then parallels the South River. It was mainly flat with some hills on the western part of the section. The path looks a little unfinished, with sawed off logs strewn along the path and metal posts that likely will become fences.

After parking at Gresham Park, I had to make my way over Clifton Church Road to find the start of the trail. There is an existing section of the South River Trail that goes west toward Bouldercrest and Constitution roads but apparently the new trail does not yet connect to the trail.

It only took me a minute to find it and I was on my way. In the middle of my run I happened upon three deer crossing the path. One deer stopped to watch the strange stroller runner, allowing me to get a decent shot with my camera.

 At Georgia Perimeter College I reached 3 miles so I didn't feel the need to run any farther. So I turned around and made my way back. It's pretty neat these trails exist all over the Atlanta area.

Time: 10:20 a.m.
Temp: 55 degrees
Gear: Technical T-shirt, short (Rock'n'roll Chicago Half Marathon), shorts, Saucony Iso Zealot.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Day 3,252: Atlanta Half Marathon

I didn't seek out this race and the Triple Peach series but am glad both are finished.
This race wasn't on my radar this year but when I wanted to do last month's Atlanta 10-Miler, I discovered that the best way to get the cheapest entry fee would be to sign up for the Triple Peach series.

It also made this race cost like $40, and how I can resist a $40 half-marathon?

So I dutifully made my way this morning to the starting line to run in this race for my seventh time. Unlike in 2013 when I ran in 23-degree weather, it was much warmer -- 47 degrees.

I also thought that I could have a shot at breaking my half marathon PR and when the race started, things seemed to go really well.

Like last month's race, being in the Triple Peach series allowed you to race in any corral you wanted. So I made my way up to Group A, where I could see 1:45 pace team signs in front of me.

The race even started at a pretty good pace -- not too fast but just right and I felt like I might have a good shot at breaking a 17-year-old PR even though I really hadn't done extra training for it.

But by the time I exited Piedmont Park right before Mile 7, I knew that a PR would not be possible. I dutifully snowplowed my way to the finish. I didn't worry about trying to regain my speed, just wanted to finish the race the best I could.

It turned out it still was my fourth best running of this race. It was nice to be among a really festive crowd of racers and volunteers, so it's definitely a race worth doing again.

I just need to make sure I'm properly trained for the distance and the hills.

Time: 7:30 a.m.
Temp: 47 degrees
Gear: Technical T-shirt, long (Locomotive Half Marathon 2010), shorts, Saucony Iso Zealot.

This year's Triple Peach shirt is a lot better than the one I got in 2013.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Day 3,248: Brave new toy! (Garmin Forerunner 630)

Putting the brand-new Garmin Forerunner 630 to work.
I mentioned previously the foibles of my previous running watch, the Garmin Forerunner 610. It basically wouldn't download my workouts to Garmin Connect and even lost satellite signal in the Atlanta 10-Miler last month.

The watch finally downloaded a month's worth of runs a few days ago but it was too late ... my new Garmin Forerunner 630 had already shipped from REI.

This watch is a pretty nifty piece of technology. Paired with a heart-rate monitor (which I'm using for the very first time), it can determine your VO2 max and your lactate threshold, the running pace and heart rate at which you will start to tire. And from this it can offer predictions on how you will do in a 5K, 10K, half marathon and marathon. These are offered to help you determine the best training possible based on how your run.

It also determines your running cadence and estimates how high your feet are off the ground with each bound.

The things I love the most about this watch, however, are the simple things. For one, it quickly acquires satellite signal and it also automatically downloads your workouts to Garmin Connect via Bluetooth with your smartphone. (No more having to deal with an ANT+ stick and the peculiarities of Garmin Express on your computer to wirelessly download).

I also like the fact the watch is light. It displays its battery power right on the watch face -- in the old 610 I would have to power up the watch and flip a few screens just to see if I needed to charge it up.

As you can see in the picture above, it has a red color lining when the watch is stopped and a green one when it starts, so no more confusion over whether your watch is recording or not.

I'm sure I'll have more thoughts on this watch in the days ahead but I'm happy that I made the purchase!

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Time for a new watch? (Garmin Forerunner 610 quirks)

This Garmin Forerunner 610 has been great, but also has had its quirks.
As I mentioned in my race recap for the Atlanta 10-Miler, my GPS running watch lost its satellite signal halfway through the race, forcing me to pace on my own. It's had its quirks but I'm thinking it's time to look for the next running watch.

The watch was released in 2011 -- I have no idea when I bought the one shown here -- and it was novel for its time, including wireless downloading of your run data and novel magnetic charging pins.

I also loved the ability to program my interval schedule into the watch so I wouldn't have to keep track of how long I needed to run fast and when I needed to jog easy. The touch screen bezel works great and was a tremendous improvement over its predecessor, the Forerunner 405, which had a bezel that at least on my watch would react if rain hit it.

This watch's problems increasingly have caused me to look for a new one. The charging pins drive me crazy -- if the pins do not align just right the watch doesn't charge. Plus in Atlanta's hot and humid summers, the pins develop corrosion. I have to scrape off the connections on the watch and the charger with a nail or a pin for it to connect properly.

The wireless downloading of data to the ANT+ stick on my computer worked really well for a while. But now I'm having trouble having the watch download to Garmin Express -- it just doesn't do it. Right now the last set I have up on Garmin Connect is Oct. 24. So the next day's run -- the Atlanta 10-Miler -- didn't show up. (For the running streak this isn't such a big deal -- you can manually enter data onto Garmin Connect and my running calendars have always held the definitive data on the streak).

And when I just looked at the watch's history, it now only shows data from April 11. In August, after running in the Bowerman 5K, I realized that somehow my watch lost that data set, so I have no idea how I ran in that race.

So ... just a long way of saying in about 30 days, expect a review of the next watch! :)

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Atlanta 10-Miler: If you're gonna outkick me, try not to win an age group for the other gender

At the end of the race, this guy outkicked me. It turned out he won the 60-64 female age group.
Like I've mentioned before, all races are different. I mentioned in my recap of the Atlanta 10 Miler that I was outkicked by a guy at the end of the race and while I couldn't catch him to the finish line, I was thankful because that surge helped me beat a 17-year-old PR.

The photo proofs came up yesterday on MarathonFoto and while I didn't really want to see pictures of me being outkicked, I did look and was a little surprised at what I discovered.

In the Michelob ULTRA 13.1 atlanta earlier this month, I also got outkicked by a guy at the finish line. I almost wrote a post about it since it turned out that because of chip time I ended up finishing the course ahead of him by an entire minute in the race. It's funny that you never know how you will do until you see the race results.

So anyway, I decided to look up this guy's bib and see how fast he ran, etc. Only thing was I couldn't come up with a bib representing a guy. The bib matched a woman who ended up placing first in her 60-64 age group with a 1:19 race time.

But in the race, it was just me and this guy on the breakaway. And the bib number is pretty clear in this picture.

I ended up submitting the possible discrepancy to the Atlanta Track Club since I thought it would be unfair to the woman who placed second in that age group if she got beat by not one of her peers but someone of a different gender.

The track club responded today, saying they are going to flag this bib number for review and that official race results won't be finalized for two weeks after the race. If they determine someone else other than the person who signed up for the race ran with the bib, the race result (and presumably the first place award) will be disqualified.

It still raises questions. The most likely scenario is that this guy decided to run at the last moment and had to buy a bib from someone else since the 10 Mile race was sold out. But it also seems this guy was a pretty decent runner, too, and wouldn't you want your race time to count? I think in many cases I would just skip a race that's sold out and focus my efforts on one that is available.

And if it didn't matter to you, why sprint to the finish?

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Day 3,220: Atlanta 10-Miler (PR)

It took five races spanning 17 years but I finally broke my old PR.
I was running the metronome during today's Atlanta 10-Miler, with really even splits of 8:06, 8:04, 8:10, 8:07 and 8:08 when something happened to me that I've never experienced during a race. My running watch lost satellite reception in the overcast sky. And did not pick up a signal the rest of the way.

It was a weird feeling, to suddenly lose my ability to pace myself in a race in which I believed I'd have a pretty good shot at breaking a 17-year-old PR. And there was nothing I could do about it but run the best I could the rest of the way.

I ran in the inaugural 10-Miler in 2013 and my lack of fitness in it put me on a 2-year running push that let me break personal records in nearly every distance. Last year I skipped the race because of the Marine Corps Marathon. This year I nearly missed it since we originally had travel plans. (In honor of the MCM, I ran in bascially the same gear that I wore in last year's race).

I signed up for this race since I felt that since I ran within 76 seconds of my half marathon PR in this August's Hotlanta Half Marathon I would have a good shot at breaking my PR for the 10-mile distance.

But it wasn't a certainty since I've had a bout of plantar fasciitis in my left foot and a left hamstring/glute issue after running in the hilly Michelob ULTRA 13.1 atlanta earlier this month.

I've been taking it easy since then and things felt fine until Friday, when I re-aggravated my left foot on a 4-mile run in a barely broken-in pair of Brooks Pure Connect 3 shoes.

Anyway, race day came and I decided I would just try to run at an 8:15/mile pace for as long as I could. The race started nice and cool and thankfully there wasn't any rain. I'd been studying last year's post about the race from Frank's blog so I felt like I knew what to expect with the hills on the race.

One thing that confused me were the starting corrals -- they went from A to F -- only thing was my race bib did not have a letter on it. Finally I asked a volunteer and she told me that my bib would let me join any corral since it was part of the Triple Peach Race Series.

I'd signed up for the series in which you get a special medal and T-shirt if you complete the Peachtree Road Race, the Atlanta 10-Miler and the Thanksgiving Half Marathon. I completed the inaugural Triple Peach in 2013 and didn't really think it was that big of a deal. I signed up this time since doing so made it cheaper to enter both the 10-Miler and Half Marathon than doing so individually.

But the any corral perk was also nice. I jumped in Wave A and although I stood a little too close to the loudspeaker, we were off in no time. The 10-Miler and 5K races started at the same time, so it was disconcerting to see all kinds of runners darting around in the first mile.

At this point I regretted going for a more cushioned shoe (Skechers Go Run 3) to run my race instead of my Saucony Type A6 racing flats. The Skechers shoes really showed their age and with more than 337 miles on them now, this will probably be the last race that I wear them.

The 5K runners split off right before Mile 2 and the 10-Mile course resumed through the neighborhood behind Atlantic Station. Right after Mile 3 there was a substantial hill. The hills rolled the next few miles until Peachtree Road at Peachtree Battle. After my watch stopped giving me pacing information, I just tried to keep up with the pack of runners around me.

At Peachtree, we entered a mini race-within-a-race -- the conquering of Cardiac Hill. Basically, you could win a special mug if you were one of the fastest 100 runners of this mile-long route. This was an interesting part of the race for me. In the Hotlanta Half Marathon, they had a similar mini-race to run up the 12th Street hill and I was surprised that even though I finished the race in 112th place out of 1,088 runners, I was the 59th fastest person to run up that hill (no award, though).

I thought that I might have a shot at an award in this race, believing that the race participation would be similar to when I ran it in 2013 -- about 1,000 or so. It turned out there were more than 4,000 runners in this race -- I placed something in the 300s for Cardiac Hill, running it at a 7:40/mile pace. Thankfully, having run in the Peachtree Road Race 11 times plus again in the 2013 10-Miler and the old Thanksgiving Half Marathon course, I have plenty of experience trying to run up this hill!

The good news about cresting the huge double set of hills on Peachtree was that the race was nearly over. At Mile 8, it looked like I had a so-so shot of beating my PR time of 1:22:39. After climbing the grueling hill to Mile 9 (which I called soul-killing in 2013), I think I had 8 minutes to beat the time and I gave myself a 50-50 probability.

All I thought at this point was to try to run faster after running over the 17th Street overpass near IKEA. Two things happened that helped at this point, first a guy passed me and was running at a good clip, so I followed him. At about a quarter-mile left in the race, I started following a pretty tall dude and even was trying to draft behind him since it was pretty windy near Target. When we saw the finish, we both kicked at the same time -- he finished a second ahead of me but I knew that by following this guy I made my PR!

I beat my PR by 23 seconds according to the official finish. Despite Cardiac Hill and the huge hills in the second half of the race, I ran a relatively even split, covering the first 5 miles in 40:46 and the last 5 in 41:30.

After the race, I felt good although my feet were pretty banged up and I walked gingerly to my free parking spot on the side of Peachtree Road and 17th Street (when I drove up to the race at about 6:20 a.m., the street was jammed with so many cars that instead of trying for the Atlantic Station parking deck I turned back to seek parking on Peachtree).

It was a nice feeling to work my way into a PR. But I think I'll have to pay better attention to properly training for this race if I want to run in it again.

Time: 7:30 a.m.
Temp: 61 degrees
Gear: Technical T-shirt, short (Publix Georgia Marathon white), shorts, Skechers Go Run 3.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Day 3,206: Ten miles at the beach

PENSACOLA BEACH, Fla. -- I had a perfect opportunity to run in a 5K race during our Florida vacation (it would have been my first race of any kind in that state) but I decided not to at the last moment because I still had some glute/hamstring soreness just a week after running in the Michelob ULTRA 13.1 Atlanta half marathon.

It freed me up for a long run on Sunday and it turned out to be a treat, a nice flat run with very cool weather and for the most part, not many other runners out. Doing a long run in a place I wasn't very familiar reminded me of my 10-mile run in Munich last year.

I started about five minutes after sunrise, which was good since for the first two miles or so I didn't have to worry about the sun and after the 5-mile turnaround, I had the sun at my back.

After the workout was over, I could look forward to eating some nice food, reading about how people did in the Chicago Marathon and taking a dip in the pool!

Time: 6:50 a.m.
Temp: 61 degrees
Gear: Technical T-shirt, short (Champion blue), shorts, Skechers Go Run 3.

This actually was from a shorter run the day before but you get the idea of the running conditions here.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Day 3,199: Michelob ULTRA 13.1 atlanta Half Marathon

Wearing the Team BEEF shirt for my second race!
There was one thing I knew coming into this race -- if it was raining hard before it started I would stay at home nice and dry.

But when I woke up at 5:30 a.m. it wasn't raining. So I decided to get my gear ready -- a poncho that folds up into a square, a hat, a ziploc bag for my cell phone -- and drove over near the Cobb Energy Centre to get ready to race.

This race was one of the few times in which I didn't feel 100 percent -- my left glute/hamstring was slightly sore coming into race day and I wasn't sure if running 13 miles would aggravate it.

It was still dark when I got to the race start and there wasn't really much places to do a warmup (I decided I wasn't going to do too much of one anyway because of the distance) and when I did it was disconcerting to be running against the stream of people headed to the starting line.

When the race started it was cool and a little misty, nearly perfect conditions. I actually felt like I needed to use the bathroom during the first mile but I told myself to just wait. Usually in hot races by Mile 3 the urge would go away, perhaps by dehydration? There were portapotties at nearly every water stop and by the time I reached the first one I didn't need to stop.

The hills in this race were no joke.
I didn't get too fast of a start in the race and by Mile 2 I could see that this would be a long race, so I just decided to stick to running by feel instead of any particular pace.

Just after Mile 7 thankfully my hamstring wasn't sore anymore. It also started to mist hard enough that I pulled out my hat, and then put it away just after Mile 8. At that point my legs started to feel a little sore so I ate a gel (this one was a green tea Clif Shot that I got in last year's Honolulu Marathon) and it tided me over the rest of the race. I also drank a cup of Powerade at the Mile 6 station.

Although the hills were monstrous, I knew I had a bunch of energy left in me since I was running slower than my typical pace so I started to pick it up at Mile 12. Only I dropped my hat at Mile 12.7! I was able to kick it in front of me then stoop to pick it up.

I made it over the final hill and thankfully it was downhill to the finish! My time was probably typical for hilly races but like the Hotlanta Half Marathon I felt pretty good afterward. In both races I felt like I probably could race three more miles beyond the finish.

It was a nice race with dedicated volunteers but the insane hilliness of it probably will make this a one-and-done race for me.

Time: 7 a.m.
Temp: 64 degrees
Gear: Technical T-shirt, short (Team BEEF), shorts, cep compression socks, Skechers Go Run 3.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Day 3,191: Red Hare Chase 5K

Trying a sample of Red Hare's Long Day Lager after the short race!
MARIETTA, Ga. --  I'd been looking forward to this race for quite a while, mainly to get a race shirt from the Red Hare Brewery.

Racewise, I wasn't sure what to expect. My last 5K was two weeks ago on a hilly course that I ran in 22:31. And that race had left me with a minor case of plantar fasciitis that luckily had managed to go away before race day.

And then there was the rain. Although I brought rain gear and a change of clothes with me I didn't think it would be raining on the morning before the race. But it was on the drive up and when I went to get my race bib.

Luckily right before the race started it seemed like the rain had gone away except for a minor mist so I ditched my windbreaker prior to the start.

The night before I had four different pairs of running shoes out, not knowing which ones I should wear in case of rain. Since my foot felt better I decided to wear my Saucony Type A6 racing flats and it turned out to be a good move since the outersole is made of rubber, which gave me excellent traction on the wet course.

When the race started I felt crazy running fast up the first hill but it felt ok. I wasn't sure if later on I would be caught by faster runners like in my previous race but I continued on anyway.

The race format involves two "hares" -- one male and one female -- in the race. The female one totally dressed the part (I overheard her say after the race that she lost her tail somewhere in the middle of the run), while the male just wore rabbit ears or a mask. If you finished before your gender's hare, you would be invited to take part in a special cask sampling after the race. I passed the male hare early before Mile 1 (but didn't stick around to crack the cask).

After running on Delk Road past Mile 1 (6:51 for me) of the race, the road goes up a short on ramp to Cobb Parkway. Here we ran for a half mile and it seemed like forever until we turned and I was sure I would get passed by someone.

As promised by the race director in his announcements, the first half of the race was indeed uphill. I just worked the best I could, although it did feel like these hills were less strenuous than the ones in my neighborhood during the previous race.

You eventually turn through an apartment complex and then just after Mile 2 (7:12) it turns onto Franklin Road, which is basically downhill the rest of the way.

Since I hadn't really burned myself out yet, I was confident that I still had a fast mile in me. Another guy passed me halfway down the hill to the end and I trailed him, keeping him in my sights and keeping my pace up.

Near the final turn back to the brewery, I passed another guy who told me jokingly that my shoes were untied. I ended up gaining ground past him but was worried that eventually he might catch up at the end.

So I kicked a lot earlier than I usually do and crossed the finish line in 22:01 (Mile 3 was 6:46). If I hadn't been following the guy who passed me, my race time easily could have been identical to the 22:31 that I ran two weeks prior.

The after-race party was great. Runners received a special Red Hare pint glass for the race and a pour (or more?) from the taps there. They also had pulled pork sandwiches, hot dogs, and 'jangles sausage biscuits.

I changed my clothes and waited in the rain for the awards. It turned out I was 16th overall and first in my age group. I think I missed being the Masters winner by about 30 seconds and two runners.

It was a great race and one I'll look out for next year, although I'll keep in mind the hills!

Time: 8:30 a.m.
Temp: 64 degrees, rain mist
Gear: Technical T-shirt, short (Big Peach Sizzler '09), shorts, Saucony Type A6.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Day 3,179: 1,000 miles for the year

It kind of looks like we're scouting for an episode of The Walking Dead but this is the Beltline trail near Ansley Park.
A one-mile double stroller run to K's preschool marked my 1,000th mile this year. 

I returned home to switch to the single BOB stroller and then ran through a crowded Piedmont Park (from the prep for Music Midtown) and onto the unimproved portion of the Beltline trail north of Piedmont Avenue to find a geocache and run a little more than six miles for the day.

It went from rocky trail to a little rockier to very rocky with two sets of train tracks! I had to stop and walk because it was way too bumpy for the stroller's sleeping passenger.

It will be great, though, when this portion of the Beltline gets paved!

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Day 3,177: Legal Runaround 5K

This classy plaque belongs in a law office, if I worked in one.
I heard about this race through a neighborhood listing. Since it was in the neighborhood (and because of a strange loophole on that enabled me to have the early bird price of $25 eight days after the early period ended) I signed up for it.

I came into the race with a lot of confidence that I could do well in this. The course was similar to that of the Inman Middle School 5K, a race that I PR'd in 2009.

So the race started and, since all races are different, I found myself with something that I'd never before encountered -- one of my safety pins on my race bib went missing and I found myself with the bib flapping horizontally (left to right) in the wind.

I usually only use three safety pins on my bib, a practice that dates back to when I lived in the Pacific Northwest. Over there, I would constantly wear windbreakers because of the rainy climate but many times would find myself taking them off mid-race.

So I learned to just pin the bib with one pin on the left side (usually on the windbreaker) and two on the right (usually on my shirt), so it would be easier to remove mid-race.

Anyway, the race continued down the hills of my neighborhood and it felt fast, although for much of that first mile a guy and his dog were ahead of me.

Near the end of the first mile, on the first incline, a couple of guys passed me as we approached the big hill at Greenwood. I continued on the best I could, trailing the lead pack of about 10 runners. I worried a little as I ran onto Courtenay Drive, since it would be downhill much of the way and I felt like it would be here where I would be passed by other runners.

I heard the clip-clopping of feet on this portion of the course but wasn't passed until it turned into Amsterdam Avenue, where I was passed by a couple of high-school kids.

We all went up the hill to Elkmont and then I remembered from the 2009 race that I waited until the second hill near the end to try to kick.

Just before this, right after turning onto Elkmont, I saw the young woman who was in the lead to be first overall female walking up the hill behind the middle school. I crested the steep hill and when I came down it I thought she would start running again and I'd get passed.

But it didn't happen. I finished 11th overall in the race. I wasn't really sure how it would play out when they read the awards -- they awarded overall, masters and then first in age group. Including me, there were about five people who potentially could be in the 40-49 category, and they all finished ahead of me.

I really didn't think I would get the age group win and I started to move away from the awards announcements were when I heard the announcer stumble over my name.

It was a great race but one in which I know I need to work on my hill running in the future.

Shoes: One of the changes I made for this race involved not wearing my Saucony Type A6 racing flats. I opted for my Skechers Go Run 3 shoes since my left foot has been sore since running in the Big Peach Sizzler just six days ago. The Skechers shoes were great in the race, however, and gave my feet a nice amount of cushion.

Time: 8:30 a.m.
Temp: 66 degrees
Gear: Technical T-shirt, short (Big Peach Sizzler '09), shorts, Skechers Go Run 3.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Day 3,174: Turn miles into dollars ... The Run For Good challenge

I just joined Saucony's Run For Good challenge. Basically this month if you run 26.2 miles using the RunKeeper app, the shoe company that makes my Type A6 racing flats will donate $26.20 toward "causes aimed at keeping children healthy and active."

When I saw this, I thought, "Why not?" I run every day anyway. The only thing I hadn't done in the past was use the RunKeeper app. For several years when my Garmin's batteries are dead I've used competitor endomondo instead.

Signing up and accepting the challenge was easy. I used the app while I ran this morning. Like the endomondo app, if I wanted to do other things with my phone (like check an Ingress portal on my route, for example), I'd have to end the workout and close it out.

But still. It's a great way to help others while doing something that I'd normally be doing anyway.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Day 3,172: Big Peach Sizzler 10K

It had been six years since I've run in this race but today was the day to do it!

I had pretty high hopes of breaking my 46:29 PR from the 2011 Charles Harris 10K with two recent 5K times in the 21-minute range and even my 46:42 time in the July 4th Peachtree Road Race.

But it was not meant to be. I started off way too fast for what I assumed would be my banner race and only slowed down from there. My splits were 7:05/7:12/7:21/7:31/7:45/7:49.

I finished in 46:48, which was only 19 seconds off from where I wanted to be but next time I think I just need to calculate a pace to make a PR (7:29/mile) instead of swinging for the fences. And doing more longer runs to build my endurance with tempo runs to be accustomed to that pace.

In the 2009 race I ran it in 50:25.

It was great to see my geocaching friend Anna (who placed first in her age group) and Frank from Running for the second half of my life and his wife, Bonnie!

Time: 7:30 a.m.
Temp: 70 degrees (94 percent humidity)
Gear: Technical T-shirt, short (Big Peach Sizzler '09), shorts, Saucony Type A6.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Day 3,168: Run a marathon for "nuun" at all!

I saw this on Facebook today -- a promotion by Seattle-based Nuun (which happens to be my favorite electrolyte replacement) in which the winner will get a free admission (up to $300 value) to a marathon of their choice. That is, one that isn't already sold out or one that you have to qualify for to gain admission like the Boston Marathon.

Basically you have until Sept. 15 to like their page on Facebook and fill out basic information about yourself. If you enter via this link, I'll get an extra entry!

In the last week since the Hotlanta Half Marathon, I've felt pretty good about running. I've been running with the double stroller a little bit, even in another rain bath on Sunday.

Although I worried that my smartphone would bite the dust during the half marathon, it didn't -- it waited a week to do that. So I've been without a phone for the last four days until today, when I was thankfully able to get it replaced.

I've been looking forward to the Big Peach Sizzler coming up on Monday -- it will be my first 10K since the Peachtree Road Race and what likely will be a good chance for me to break my 46:29 PR set in 2011 at the Charles Harris 10K.

Trying to keep my workout timetable going, since I have between three (Michelob Ultra 13.1, Atlanta Half Marathon, JG 13.1) and five (Jekyll Island Under the Oaks, OUC Orlando) half marathons to go in the next three months. But I really want to work hard at possibly dropping my 5K time even more, although the timetable in my mind would take about a year to do so.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Day 3,157: Hotlanta Half Marathon, a.k.a. "The Rainfest"

I'm thinking of taking this in to get sharpened and giving it a future life as a pizza cutter.
I'm no enemy of the rain. In fact, some of my best running moments happened in the Pacific Northwest where I loved to train in the rain to give me that extra edge come rainy race day.

It's just ... wow, really?

Today marked my 25th half marathon, the Hotlanta Half Marathon that started (dry) and finished (very wet) downtown. Overall, it was a pretty wonderful race, with sights that I remember including Turner Field, the Eastside Beltline Trail, Piedmont Park, Georgia Tech and Centennial Olympic Park.

It happened to be the rainiest race that I've run in Georgia, putting the December 2013 Inman Frosty 5K to shame. Despite this, I ran my third fastest time (1:47:46) of 25 half marathons that I've done and this is the second fastest half that I've done in Georgia. It sadly was 1 minute, 16 seconds off of the 17-year-old PR I'd hoped to break today.

Coming into this race I didn't know what to expect. My speed has been the best it's been all my life, with a recent PR in the Vinings Downhill 5K and only a few seconds off my best time in this year's Peachtree Road Race.

But I knew that running all those races would take a toll on my half marathon training schedule -- I'd be too sore to do long runs after a quad-busting 5K race.

I decided that I would look at this race as a 13.1-mile tempo run, with the goal of keeping my pace at 8:04/minute mile as long as possible.

When the race started, I saw the 1:45 pace group up ahead and thought that I would try to keep it in sights, no more than 10 seconds slower than it. But the first mile went up the long hill that runs alongside Centennial Olympic Park and soon that pace flag was no longer in sight.

I also thought to myself to pay particular attention to the first six miles that included plenty of rolling hills up to the start of the Eastside Beltline Trail. Here, I knew that the trail's 1.9 miles of downhill could give me a breather if I needed it. But it turned out the Beltline was the start of the rain for my race.

I plugged along the Beltline and then up 10th Street for Mile 9. Mile 10 involved running inside Piedmont Park, along the very stretch of pavement that I use for my interval training and while it gave me a nice psychological boost, I logged one of my slowest miles (8:26) of the race in this pretty flat surface.

I thought the next mile would give me the most trouble because of the 12th Street hill but after seeing so many hills it really wasn't much worse than any other hill we encountered on the course.

By this time the rain was in full effect and there was no attempt on my part to keep from getting wet. When I rounded the corner onto 5th Street toward Georgia Tech I thought to myself "This could be a $600 race," since my cell phone was in a fanny pack pocket and not protected from the rain because it hadn't even occurred to me it would rain. (In last December's Honolulu Marathon I at least put my phone in a Ziploc bag before running).

In Georgia Tech, the water was deep enough that if you made the mistake I did you would get right in it and it would slow you down. A younger runner near me at this point said she worried about what was in the brown streaks that flowed with the water all over the road. At one point near the finish it did smell pretty awful.

When I came out onto North Avenue near Bobby Dodd Stadium, I thought we would go straight toward the park but no, we had to turn up it as in the end of the Publix Georgia Half Marathon course and I didn't feel too happy about this. Then we turned left at the top of the hill and before passing the Georgia Aquarium there was another pretty big hill to conquer.

I'd been wearing my cep compression sleeves over my calves and they felt pretty good and my calves did not cramp (I felt a tinge on the very last turn to the finish as I started to kick) during the race. Completely soaked, I gave myself a good kick down to the finish and happily gathered my pizza cutting instrument, er medal.

I was happy to see they had water coolers with nuun flavors of all kinds after the race. I must have gone back four times for the lemon-lime that I've become accustomed to drinking after my daily workouts.

Hydration/fueling: The rain created a different hydration sequence for me. I kept putting off drinking water but eventually did near Mile 6. At Mile 7 I ate one of those frozen energy popsicles and it really was pretty nice so I ended up not using either of the 2 GU gels that I brought in the race. I drank water again at Mile 10 and 11 to fill out the race.

Shoes: I decided to not wear my Saucony Type A6s for this race because of the pounding and had put on my Skechers Go Run 3s. But those shoes were chafing a spot where I developed a blister while walking the littlest one in a stroller the other day so at the last moment I put on my Saucony Iso Zealots. They are my main go-to trainer and are heavier than my other shoes but they were perfect for this kind of weather.

Time: 7 a.m.
Temp: 72 degrees
Gear: Technical T-shirt, short (Asics blue), shorts, cep compression sleeves, Saucony Iso Zealot.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Day 3,155: My box of nuun, reviewed

You get 3 flavors in nuun's 63-count box. These are my favorites, from left to right.
After this morning's easy 6-mile run I finished the last of the 63-count nuun box that I bought from Costco at the end of May. The deal -- 63 tablets for $16.99, shipping included -- is still available until Sunday.

When I got the box, the only nuun flavor I'd tasted was grape, which I purchased in a 12-pack tube from Big Peach Running Co. in Decatur prior to running in last year's Honolulu Marathon. This box had different flavors -- lemon lime, strawberry lemonade and tri-berry.

Lemon lime turned out to be my favorite and the others grew on me as I tried to make lemon lime last as long as possible.

What was great was that I found myself drinking (nuun) water more, and I bought a reusable 16-ounce water bottle for that purpose.

Gone were the days that I would have to haul packs of Gatorade from Costco in the summer and have to drink a product that I considered heavy and something that I would not normally drink if I weren't running on hot days.

I found the nuun tablets to be light and pretty refreshing. They have great portability for travel -- I brought a single tablet with me to Oregon last week and drank it after running in the Bowerman 5K.

Perhaps in the future I'll try new flavors but I'm glad this deal was available to get me through the dog days of summer (and beyond).

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Day 3,153: A free 5K in Atlanta

Even though I went to the West Coast for a weekend, my sleep schedule is still not right -- I go to bed really early and wake up and, well, here I am. I miss already the lower humidity (it was only 38 percent in Portland on Saturday when I ran in the Beaverton AC 5K).

I've only done light running this week, my main excuse is that I'm resting up for Sunday's Hotlanta Half Marathon. I haven't run a half since March 2014 when I ran in the Publix Georgia Half Marathon. My training hasn't been perfect but I'm going into the race with a lot of confidence since I've posted my fastest year of race times for shorter distances.

Anyway, a few days ago I saw an email from the Rock'n'roll race series about a free 5K race that will be held downtown on Sunday, Sept. 13. The Humana Atlanta 5K is touted as a tuneup for the Rock'n'roll marathon series. I signed up since 1). it's free and 2). why not? It's a no T-shirt race but I imagine the cost to put on something like this is not zero since the race will be on streets downtown.

The only drawback would be running a 5K race that day would take away an easy 10 mile run I have on schedule for the 13.1 Atlanta half on Oct. 4. And subsequent runs on schedule if I get too sore because of pushing myself like I usually do during the race.

The other neat thing was that this week I got in the mail my Team Beef race reimbursement for the Vinings Downhill 5K. It's neat that it really works and I'm glad to support a local campaign.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Day 3,149: A 5K at Nike's world campus!

On the running trail at Nike's world campus, you don't cross streets. You go over them.
BEAVERTON, Ore. -- Whenever I go on a trip I like to check to see if there's a race being held. It's definitely a fun way to spend part of your vacation and even win an award sometimes.

The other day I came across a article titled "7-Must Do Races in the United States," saying the Bowerman 5k is one of the "few opportunities for runners to explore inside the gates of Nike's world headquarters."

Really? Well I had to check this out.

So I looked into it -- it looked like your average community race -- and signed up. Race weekend came and I found myself looking forward to this event in the Portland suburbs even though I had other activities planned that day -- including a daunting 7 hours in the car from Portland to Seattle and back. Plus I'd just PR'd the weekend before at the Vinings Downhill 5K.

Would I be up to it? Would my legs have any life? Plus the race was being held at a unique time for me -- 7 p.m., which translated into my Eastern Time Zone body, would be 10 p.m., usually the time I'm going to bed.

Luckily the I-5 traffic in between Portland and Seattle was kind and I got back to my hotel at a quarter until six, a little more than an hour before the race. I changed into my running gear (which I carried with me all day in case I got delayed and needed to change right then and there at Nike) and then made the quick drive over.

I entered at the designated spot, under a large white gate with the famous swoosh logo (it turns out these gates also dual function as overpasses for the Nike running trail, as in the picture above). and then made my way along a nicely forested curve of road until I found a parking space.

But it was the wrong one. A full-fledged soccer field was in between where I was and was supposed to be. So I drove around to that spot. Signs pointed me toward a cluster of modern and possibly futuristic buildings to a patio area on a pond that overlooks another part of the forest (the running trail goes by this pond so you can admire people blazing by on the wood-chips).

It sort of reminded me of being inside the Citadel in Mass Effect, or the place where you'd expect the Star Trek: TNG away team being beamed down in an old episode.

Anyway, races are races and I found myself at the back of a really long line for packet pickup. A lot of people wore the neon yellow shirts of last year's Bowerman AC 5K and many people were decked out in the company town gear (Nike shoes, shirts, etc.).

They had a DJ blasting out music near the lake. At one point they were playing the instrumental version of Young Jeezy's "Put On," which at one time was the intro to Hawks games at Philips Arena. While people mingled I looked over the lake, silently thinking the chorus ("I put on for my city, on for my city...") If that wasn't a sign, I don't know what is.

Once I got my bib and my neon blue T-shirt (for this year's race), I decided to stash what I didn't need in the car and make my way along the running trail (that typically is only for employees) to the start line.

Consider yourself warned: Runners ahead.
Seeing -- and plodding along -- the running trail reminded me of when Crash Davis talked about The Show in Bull Durham. Here, the trail was nicely padded with generous amounts of wood chips and even had at one point a statue of someone running along side it. Later on, after the race when I was leaving, I even noticed the trail had lots of little lights along it so you could run in the dark if you wanted to.

I made my way to the start line, which was just near the entrance afforded to us runners, and felt something I haven't felt in a long time -- intimidated. There were lots of fast looking runners in all kinds of gear. Many wore ultramarathon shirts and I was even jealous to see the technical shirts of runners who'd participated in the Hood to Coast relay (when I did it in 2000, cotton T's were the norm).

All I was wearing was a hodgepodge of gear that I travel with after losing a few prized race shirts on trips to Australia and New York -- my May the Fourth (Miler) Be With You shirt, which is a cool-looking charcoal grey but has the entire text of one of the race website pages plastered over the front of it. I wore a very worn-out looking pair of cobalt blue Nike shorts that I cannot wear here in Atlanta in the summer because of the humidity.

The only thing I brought with me that was part of my starting kit was my secret weapon, my Saucony Type A6 racing flats.

After seeing all these fast-looking runners, I told myself -- no need to worry, just do your best and have fun. You PR'd the week before and you have nothing to prove.

When the race gun started, I knew to expect a fast pace. And it really was. The thing that amazed me were the numbers of people who did not look like elite runners keeping up with it. I looked down at my watch at one point and it said 6:40/mile. Surely this would be untenable for some of these people. But I continued on.

After the first mile the race spills out of the world campus and into a wooded area that is a continuation of the running trail. But this surface was not wood chips, it was that smooth gravel stuff that I knew very well when I was 16 and running with the most basic of Nike trainers on a duo-exercise track called the Parcourse in Winston-Salem.

My racing flats had never touched this stuff. Suffice to say I don't know if they were meant for this slippery material. But I don't know if any shoe was. I decided to keep up with some pre-teen kids that were really killing it in the woods.

One of the kids came up on this trail, maybe 10 feet wide, on a guy who looked like he was in his 20s, really trying to burn it down (too much at this point?) and kind of moving back and forth on the trail from side to side like he was trying to prevent the little kid from passing him. That's what it looked like to me. The kid squirmed by and I told myself that we were going to have some words if his elbows touched me. I'd always heard about this kind of thing in cross country meets among school kids but had never experienced it.

Thankfully I was able to pass him. I kept up my pace, which was pretty much effortless. I told myself to just continue running, this was for fun. I imagined myself as one of the old Star Wars spacecraft -- like the aging A-wing fighter if you will, being led by, well, I don't know what you would call them in the Star Wars universe, young kids flying ... podracers?

Anyway, the two kids were pushing forward. I caught up with one of them and passed him. Right before we got out of the forest, the Mile 2 sign popped up and then I saw something incredible and unexpected -- two guys passed us from either side at the same time with a miler's kick. It looked like to me, still in analogy mode, as if X-wing fighters were starting their attack run.

Right before leaving the forest, and maybe now with .6 of a mile left, the kid I passed caught up to me, which was a relief, because he really was my fighter escort. We crossed the street, entered the campus again and was making our last turn before the finish, maybe .3 mile to go. The kid and another one entered the curve single file and I strode in behind him. I wasn't sure where I wanted to kick, if at all.

We passed Mile 3 and the kid really surged his kick. I did too, but nothing that fast. I crossed the finish line and then looked down at my watch: 21:20:83, basically two or three seconds off the PR I made last week on a downhill course.

My race time was good enough for 150th place out of 570 people. I was 15th in my age group (the Master's winner for the race, for example, is the current U.S. Master's 5K Champion and he dialed up a 14:59 race time).

I went back to the car and changed out of my tight racing flats for a pair of more comfy (and more rebellious?) Skechers Go Run 3s for the award ceremony and raffle of Nike gear, which included backpacks Nike gave to elite runners for the Hood to Coast relay. They had a cash bar and even healthy food like burrito wraps available to purchase. A little more than what you'd expect for your average Saturday evening race.

I stood on the patio and watched a trio of runners go by on the trail across the pond. In hindsight I should have taken a lap around myself for cooldown but didn't do so. I was elated. I'd never run under 22 minutes until this year and now I've done it four times.

I also felt like I earned this. It was a nice feeling to have.

Time: 7 p.m.
Temp: 79-80 degrees
Gear: Technical T-shirt, short (May the Fourth (Miler) Be With You), shorts, Saucony Type A6.

A little blurry but even my Garmin knows where we are!

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Day 3,142: Vinings Downhill 5K (PR)

It's been a month since I ran in my last race, the Peachtree Road Race. Today's race involved participating in the Vinings Downhill 5K in the hopes of setting another PR. It's a popular race because it is mainly downhill:

I also thought the race's popularity as a Peachtree 10K qualifier also would make it good to don the Team Beef shirt to spread the word about the Georgia Beef Board. One older volunteer said, "Team Beef -- that's my favorite shirt" as I walked by. Another group of runners explained to each other the race reimbursement benefits of Team Beef.

Anyway, when the race started it was a little congested but the downslope was so steep it was hard for everyone not to be running fast. Early on my watch recorded that I was running at a 6:05/minute pace. I basically went into this thinking that I would just try to hold on for dear life.

One thing about this race is that the 8 a.m. start was a little later than I'm used to running -- many times I'm out of the shower by the time 8 a.m. rolls around. The sun was up and very direct, almost oppressive.

In the first mile there's a hill that would be pretty brutal in any 5K but after that, as the announcer said, it was all downhill. My splits were 6:27/6:58/6:46, the first time that I've run sub-7 minute miles the entire race.

I finished with a PR of 21:19, which is just 8 seconds better than my non-official PR that I did in the May 30 Kettle Krush in Piedmont Park. (Edit: My race time was 21:18:34!) This race is USAT&F certified, and the other is not, so it is a real PR that I can use as a Peachtree qualifying time. (Incidentally before this race I researched the difference in times of the Master's winner in the Kettle Krush and even he only knocked off 20 seconds in last year's Downhill 5K, so I knew not to expect too much).

But it was nice. I loved the fact the early bird price for this race was only $25, which is what I'd ideally like to pay for a 5K but a rarity today. The race was well organized and it didn't take too long to get in and out of the parking deck. I would definitely do it again.

Time: 8 a.m.
Temp: 73 degrees (89 percent humidity)
Gear: Technical T-shirt, short (Team BEEF), shorts, Saucony Type A6.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Day 3,125: Joined a running team. Team BEEF.

Team BEEF: The technical T-shirt.
It's been two weeks since I last posted, but that doesn't mean I haven't had anything to write about. I was in a three-day running funk last week, during which I re-read Christopher McDougal's Born to Run (made me want to run an ultra) and Scott Jurek's Eat & Run (made me focus on loving running).

My workouts have been ok although this season I've tended to default on cutting runs/intervals short when I've felt tired by the heat. It's something I think is ok and probably prudent given the conditions we run in.

Today I received my Team BEEF T-shirt and other goodies for joining the team. It's something I really considered doing last year after getting an email about it from the Marine Corps Marathon. But so many people wanted to join (and run in the marathon for free) that I missed out. I think the Team Beef efforts for that race focused around the Washington, D.C. and Virginia region.

Anyway, Georgia's Team BEEF had a booth at the Peachtree Road Race expo. I was beyond excited since I missed my original chance.

So how it works is you register (you can still sign up via their web site, here). You have a conference call with the Georgia Beef Board spokeswoman and review a Powerpoint document about the board's efforts and beef nutrition. They send you a Team BEEF shirt like above.

Then you race! You run in the team shirt and send a picture of yourself at a particular race (which must be in Georgia of course) and your race registration and they reimburse the fee ... typically up to $100 total for each fiscal year. It sounds like they love it if you race in cities around the state and larger races to get the most exposure they can.

As someone whose relatives still farm (in Maui), I think it's great to support local agricultural efforts. I am by no means shy about eating beef, as a beef brisket is one of my favorite things to put in my smoker and I crave burgers after a long run.

In one of my fastest running years ever, I'm looking forward to donning the shirt, having fun and perhaps setting a PR or two along the way!

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Day 3,107: My 11th Peachtree Road Race

This should be agony. I should be a mass of aching muscle -- broken, spent, unable to move. And, were I an older man, I surely would ... but I'm a man of thirty -- of twenty again. The rain on my chest is a baptism -- I'm born again.
                --Frank Miller, The Dark Knight Returns

I used to seriously fear the Peachtree Road Race course because of the huge hills after Mile 3 and Mile 4. Then for many years I used to not care too much about this race, other than qualifying for Group A, and so I would just run in whatever wave the wife was in.

This year put me in a unique spot. My year has gone from wondering where I would go after breaking four hours in the Marine Corps Marathon to a beyond banner year with a 5K PR and race times that were faster than anything I ever ran.

I was content to run with the wife in Group C but about a week before the race she told me to run in Group A since she hadn't been running too much lately and wanted to run at her own pace. (Incidentally, she ran well and qualified for Group B in this race).

So I started to plan. My previous best was when the wife and I ran 48:14 in 2010. I knew that the first three miles of the course are basically flat and downhill and then I would suffer in Miles 4 and 5 with the gigantic hills.

I told myself that at the very worst I would run it in 48 minutes, by running at a 7:20/mile pace the first three miles (basically a cruising pace in recent 5Ks) and then at an 8:00/mile pace the rest of the way.

Yet I also knew a PR could be had, by tweaking that formula just a little bit, to edge out the 46:29 I ran in the downhill Charles Harris 10K in 2011.

This morning I was a little worried about the weather conditions, which when we were dropped off at Piedmont Avenue and East Paces Ferry included a not-so-light amount of rain. Neither one of us had rain gear.

But the rain cleared just before the race start and the temperature had gone from the expected 72 degrees to a nice and cool 68 degrees.

I stuck to plan the first three miles, running splits of 7:21, 7:19 and 7:14. It was a little disconcerting to run near the end of Mile 3 and have lots of people be passing me. But I didn't press since the first of the big hills were coming up. I believe I passed probably hundreds of people here.

I continued up Cardiac Hill and then made my way up the long stretch to 14th Street. After Mile 5, I started to speed up and was happy I had a nice amount of speed in what was a steady rain at this point. My Saucony Type A6 racing flats were incredible again, having great traction in the wet weather and providing cushion at just the right places.

I kept running at a good pace when I thought my watch said 44 minutes at Mile 6 and I started to kick strong. I now know it couldn't have said this because I ended the race at 46:42, which was just 13 seconds off of my PR and is my second-fastest 10K. It also made this race a Peachtree qualifier, since it is well below the Group A cutoff.

I dutifully stood in the light rain for the wife to finish her race (although I did jump in the Mellow Mushroom line for a free piece of cheese pizza) and then we went to the Atlanta Track Club area, which was great because they had a large dome-like structure that kept us out of the rain. It was nice to hang out here also because it had its own supply of peaches so you didn't have to leave the area to get any.

Just before we huddled under this tent, the race announcer was warning people of the weather and telling people they should get their shirts and leave the area. Later waves were temporarily halted because of the extreme weather.

One great thing was Frank from Running for the second half of my life was here and we all chatted for a few minutes. This year I ran into the most people of any of the 11 Peachtree Road Races I've run, including a former colleague from my days in Little Rock, Ark. and I also ran into one of my fellow geocachers who has taken up running.

Transport: This year we jumped at the opportunity given by the Phidippides Running Store to use their van service to the start. It cost $8, so it was more than the $2.50 MARTA fee that I've used in 10 previous Peachtree races, but it was nice to know that we didn't have to gamble with train times and squeezing in train cars to get to the race. I would definitely use this service again. 

Beets and recovery: Took the Red Ace at 5:30 a.m., two hours before race start. It worked well although my calves were very sore after the race. So sore that I decided to put on my cep compression sleeves for recovery. A little after lunch time I was able to walk around normally again.

Time: 7:30 a.m.
Temp: 68 degrees, light rain during race
Gear: Technical T-shirt, short (Champion gray), shorts, Saucony Type A6.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Day 3,093: Braves Country 5K

Although I'd run in two previous Braves Country races under the 4-mile format, this was the first time I was running in it as a 5K race.

Not surprisingly, it was a hot morning at 78 degrees and I told myself that I would need to take it easy this time around. The person running the loudspeaker constantly told us to also mind the weather.

So when the race started, I took a comfortable pace. When I looked down early on, it said 7:20/mile. I was a little surprised since I'd gone a whole week in which I was unable to finish two separate interval workouts and a tempo run. So I wasn't sure what to expect.

My first mile seemed promising. The data shows it as 7:16/mile. I just continued on at what I thought was an even pace and I closed out the second mile in 7:18.

On the final mile I could feel people picking up their paces and I did so as well. I could feel myself double puffing right before Mile 3 and it really did feel like how I felt in those races in which I've logged a sub-7 mile. The data says I did this mile in 6:56, which would be the first time in any race in which I've run a sub-7 for the last part of the race.

I remembered to tell myself to not wait until we entered the field to kick since there isn't really too much race left at that point. So I did right after Mile 3 and really tried to motivate myself to kick hard on the warning track. I was running so fast that my shirt was riding up over my belly. 

Right before the finish line, I mean no more than 20 feet, some middle-aged guy stopped to catch his breath before continuing. It caused me to slow down and alter my path a little bit but I wasn't too concerned as it was the end of the race.

I ended up with 22:26, which is now my third fastest 5K time and the fastest 5K I've done outside of my PR at the May 30 Kettle Krush 5K. I felt happy that I ran a solid race and despite the race conditions (hot, hilly) performed well. My Saucony Type A6 shoes were again excellent when I needed them most. I think I might just use them in these kinds of races and do interval training with my older Skechers Go Run 3s.

Beets: We had takeout last night so I didn't make my usual beet salad. But the other day at Whole Foods I picked up Red Ace Organic Beet Performance Supplement, a 2-ounce bottle that claims to have 3 beets in it. I drank it -- it didn't taste bad at all -- an hour before the race started. I'll have to get a case of this stuff since my legs were not sore at all when the race ended.

Time: 7:30 a.m.
Temp: 78 degrees but breezy
Gear: Technical T-shirt, short (Charles Harris 2009), shorts, Saucony Type A6.