Sunday, March 29, 2015

Day 3,012: Cold weather, really? I just packed up my winter running gear

This morning I found myself back at Piedmont Park for 4 x .75-mile intervals (1/4-mile recovery) and, thanks to it being 27 degrees outside I pretty much had the place to myself.

One problem was a few days earlier I finally cleared out my dresser of my winter running clothes -- including donating a few pairs of running pants -- since the season had changed, right?


Well, I had to get the winter running clothes box out of the closet and raid it. I picked out two long-sleeve technical T-shirts and even though I knew I probably would want to wear shorts, I broke out my Brooks Spartan III running pants.

When I got to the park, I was extremely tired but piped up when the watch beeped "Go." It actually felt pretty good to be doing my intervals again. Halfway through I wished I was wearing shorts and after the third interval I put one of the technical shirts up on a wire fence, knowing that I would be back in 5 minutes to claim it!

My data for this one: 7:33, 7:27, 7:17, 7:16. I like that the splits are getting progressively faster in this workout.

Hopefully it'll be useful in an upcoming race.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Day 3,007: Virtually insane: The Virtual Jeff Galloway 13.1

It might be hard to believe that we ran 13.1 miles this morning just to be considered for a half marathon streak, but we did it!
I'm pretty sure I made clear that I had no desire to run in a half marathon, letting Sunday's Publix Georgia Half Marathon slide by the wayside.

But then yesterday I get this email from the Jeff Galloway 13.1 saying they have a virtual race that ends at 5 p.m. today. I didn't run in the Dec. 14 race because I was way in the Pacific to run in the Honolulu Marathon.

It mentioned that anyone who ran in this virtual race (and pays the not-so-virtual-but-very-real race fee of $49) would not only get the official race shirt and finishers medal but also would get credit for running in the Dec. 14 race.

This is important only for crazy people: The email said that those who run in the first five races will get a special award.and that those who ran in the 2014 race will have guaranteed entry into future Jeff Galloway 13.1 races.

So this was all good, but the only problem was that between the Dec. 14 race and now I never knew this possibility existed. It would have been nice to have done that over the weekend when the in-laws were in town and I could run by myself and not with a stroller.

The other problem was that my window was pretty limited since I also had to pick up the little one from preschool.

But it kept rattling on in my mind and I thought that I could try this with the almost 6-month-old in the single BOB stroller and then stop when the baby was fussy and continue on. (There was no time limit for this event, only that you had to run/walk 13.1 miles and that everything had to be submitted by 5 p.m.)

So we started off to the North Highland post office to drop off a book I sold on Then we went down to Virginia Avenue and then on Monroe Avenue to Park Street into Piedmont Park. Here I decided I would run as many loops around Lake Clara Meer (about .9 mile) as I could until the baby woke up or got too fussy.

Amazingly this worked out way better than expected. I had two miles in the belt before I got into the park because of the post office detour. Then I was able to run a combination of eight more miles in the park (I would detour if there were loud noises that could wake up the baby such as leaf blowers or truck beeping).

Ultimately around mile 10.25 the baby woke up and was not happy. I intuited a need for a diaper change so I went back home to change her out at 11.4 miles. Then we went back into the stroller and eked out the last 1.7 miles!

I finished the route in 2:12:53, which obviously is not a great time but 1). I didn't care about my time and 2). I was pushing about 40 extra pounds of weight.

Interestingly if you take the common thought that every extra pound adds 2 seconds per mile to your time, 80 extra seconds per mile for 13.1 miles is equal to about an extra 17 minutes to doing this course, which would put me in about 1:54, which is what I typically run in a half marathon race.

It was a nice feeling. If I didn't have other (baby) responsibilities, I would feel like I was in pretty good shape to perhaps train for a marathon (more crazy talk!) later in the year.

I felt about as sore as I would running a regular half marathon and had a pretty mellow runner's high afterward.

I guess doing this run was for the best!

Time: 9:05 a.m.
Temp: 52 degrees
Gear: Technical T-shirt, long (Atlanta Marathon promo), shorts, Nike Zoom Air Pegasus+ 31.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Day 3,004: Realized gains (5 x1K, 1/4-mile recovery)

I don't know why I never took intervals seriously until last year when my goal was to break four hours in the Marine Corps Marathon.

At every race distance, there's no better confidence builder for making time goals than when you can nail it week after week in workouts.

Today I ran to Piedmont Park to continue my interval training. They were setting up for the T21 5K but I knew I had more than an hour to pound away at the workout before the race would start.

Garmin Connect is having trouble with uploads today but the raw data really amazed me.

Interval 1: 4:25 (a little slower than 22 minute 5K pace)
Interval 2: 4:07 (a little slower than 20:30 5K pace)
Interval 3: 4:13 (a little slower than 21 minute 5K pace)
Interval 4: 4:21 (about a 21:45 5K pace)
Interval 5: 4:15 (about a 21:15 5K pace).

I looked back at the last time I did these intervals, which was on July 29. The above times are way faster at every level. (It was 73 degrees that morning, though).

I tend to look at interval workouts as somewhat theoretical, since the park is a relatively flat course, very familiar to me and there are no worries such as congested courses, etc. at the start. But I've found in the last two 5Ks that it's nice to look down at the watch in the middle of a race and know that I have run at certain speeds so I don't necessarily need to slow up for fear of running too fast.

Time: 7:51 a.m. 
Temp: 48 degrees
Gear: Technical T-shirt, short ( Doug Kessler 10K), shorts, Skechers Go Run 3.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Milestone: 3,000 consecutive days

Taking a break from the run in Piedmont Park
Today I remembered to wear green, got the baby in the single BOB stroller, dropped off mail and the wife's dry cleaning and picked up some milk and bread at Trader Joe's before rolling into Piedmont Park.

Only today's St. Paddy's Day run was a little different: It was the 3,000th day of the streak.

Even after all this time -- and the last 11,196.82 miles -- I don't really know what the streak is about. It is part hobby, part obsession.

I'm not sure where the streak will lead and when it will end but I'm thankful for everything the streak has done for me, from four marathons to breaking PRs set in my 20s.

Now it's back to what I really love, the minutia of the run -- what distance I'll run, the temperature, deciding the right gear for the run and then the pace.

And not having to worry about the streak for another 1,000 days.

Time: 9:17 a.m.
Temp: 52 degrees
Gear: Semi-technical T-shirt, short (Summerfest 5K 2013), shorts, Nike Zoom Air Pegasus+ 31.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Day 2,999: Forty miles out on the Silver Comet

ROCKMART, Ga. -- After a week of rain, we were ready to get back on the trail first nice day. This time we went on the Silver Comet Trail west of Rockmart.

Although I've run on the Alabama portion of this trail, the Chief Ladiga Trail, in sections from Piedmont, Ala. all the way to Jacksonville, Ala., this is the furthest west that I've run on the Georgia section.

So I wasn't sure what to expect. First, there was great parking at the Nathan Dean Park just a few miles west of downtown Rockmart.

Going westward, the trail continues on a boardwalk and then winds its way through a field and then along Highway 278.

Like most of this rail-to-trail corridor, the trail was flat, save for a few hills here and there.

It didn't take too long to get a 5-mile run in on a sunny day and before long we were back in Atlanta!

Time: 9:50 a.m.
Temp: 48 degrees (rose significantly during run)
Gear: Technical T-shirt, long (Eastside Trail 10K), shorts, Nike Zoom Air Pegasus+ 31.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Day 2,997: St. Patrick's Parade 5K -- PR??

When it's all said and done, I think I will be able to say this was a PR day for me, although not a personal record that will be seen as my official time. The official record will show that I PR'd this race by much more than I am likely capable.

Start with the last things first: I crossed the finish line of this Midtown race and was ecstatic. Not only did I do what I came to do (be one of the top 25 male runners who received an award) but my watch said 21:18, which would mean besting my PR by more than a minute, something that is pretty crazy once you think about it.

It took me a block or so of walking before I looked down at my watch again and it said "2.93 miles," well under the 3.1 miles that quantifies a 5K race. Hmmm.

The idea that the top 25 runners for men and women would receive awards is what drew me to this race. With the annual St. Patrick's Day 5K being held the next day, I felt the field in this race would be small.

The race started just on the east side of Peachtree Street on 12th, went down a screaming hill for .2 of a mile before joining Piedmont Road and then into Piedmont Park.

This pretty much is home course for me as anything. On Wednesday I even traced the course route with the double stroller, even dogging it up the huge 12th Street hill that is the start of the race.

As to be expected, people were flying down the hill. I was breathing pretty fast but just focused on running evenly. I passed some guy, he passed me and then I passed him. I passed another guy with grayish hair before getting into the park.

And that pretty much was the race order. Ahead or behind me, there were no changes (at least in how it affected me) the rest of the race.

The first mile turned out to be the only one that I saw that had a mile marker. I glanced down at the watch and, like the Atlanta Hawks Fast Break 5K that I did two weeks prior, it was another sub-7 mile at 6:47.

I didn't look at my watch the rest of the race until the end since I knew every turn and hill the rest of the way. I did all of my speed and strength training on this route for the marathon and it remains to be the main route (since it's pretty flat) when I am running kiddos in the double stroller.

I made some ground on the guy in front of me but mainly was using him to pull me into the finish chute, that's how brutal the final hill was.

In some ways, the course could have been 3.1 miles, especially since GPS watches are not always accurate (many times my watch says I have run more than the 5K distance in a race). 

But that means instead of me running what my watch data said was 6:47/7:23 and a projected 7:40 third mile for 2.93 miles or an average pace of 7:16/mile (which is very similar to what I did in the Hawks 5K), a 21:18 time over 3.1 miles is equivalent to a 6:52/mile race, which is something I have never done in my life.

It's ironic that the only two times in my nearly 30 years of running races in which my data has me short of the 5K mark for races involve St. Patrick's Day. The other time was a 2.67-mile course in the 2010 St. Patrick's Day "O'Highlands Jig and Jog" (the precursor to tomorrow's St. Patrick's Day 5K) but that involved the lead motorcycle missing a turn that would have added an extra .4 of a mile to the course.

If I extrapolate my speed near the end of the race, I probably can consider that I would have broken my PR of 22:20 for the .17 miles that are missing from my watch data. But I would have broken it by seconds instead of more than a minute.

I'll just have to let my training speak for myself and be confident that I likely can set a new PR in another race. And ignore the 21:18 time that likely will live on the Internet as my best 5K time.

Time: 10 a.m.
Temp: 48 degrees
Gear: Semi-technical T-shirt, short (Summerfest 5K 2013), Brooks Grit shorts, Skechers Go Run 3.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Day 2,994: Grocery getter

Today I spun the double stroller in the direction of Ansley Square Mall to drop off a few race entry forms at the running store Phidippides. It's extremely nice when you can sign up for races at a store instead of having to pay online fees.

I've signed up for the April 11 Atlanta Dogwood Festival 5K and of course, the June 6 Va-Hi Summerfest 5K, which long has been my home course.

While I was waiting for the store employee to file the race entry forms, I glanced at the store's clearance rack. I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw a pair of the extremely great Brooks Spartan III running pants in my exact size. I bought a pair of these last November for the full rack price of $85.

Here they were $59, or about 30 percent off! I won't need them likely until next winter but it means I can donate a few pairs of older running pants that are too long for me.

Later we rolled into the Publix store since we were in dire need of groceries. A double BOB stroller has ample space to haul things in its undercarriage basket and I found I was able to hold 3 12-packs of Diet Coke underneath, plus other groceries!

I was a little fearful of how heavy the stroller would be on the way back but it was mostly ok. First really hot day so far and I felt the humidity on the way back.

Time: 11:06 a.m.
Temp: 68 degrees
Gear: T-shirt, short (Beat the Street for Little Feet 5K), shorts, Nike Air Zoom Pegasus+ 31.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Day 2,992: Super security on the Silver Comet

Security cameras are the norm along the Silver Comet Trail near Dallas, Ga.
DALLAS, Ga. -- With only a day this week that it's not expected to rain, we set out this morning to our favorite double stroller spot, the Silver Comet Trail.

We parked at the trailhead behind the Paulding County Chamber of Commerce and right away you could tell something was different with this stretch of rail-to-trail that goes all the way to the Alabama state line -- security cameras dot the path.

I haven't seen this on other bike paths in the United States. Granted, there have been some high-profile attacks nearby on the Silver Comet -- there still are $23,000 reward posters for information related to the most recent attack. My first contact with the trail was covering the murder of Jennifer Ewing in 2006.

It's extremely nice, however, to know that this area is taking the matter seriously. I ran east along the trail for about a mile and a quarter before turning around. Not too long after that, the county sheriff's department's smart car came whizzing by me on the path. It's a great idea to have such a small motorized vehicle that can travel the trail quickly. I'm not sure if this was a routine patrol from Hiram or if they saw me on the cameras.

In all, I ran four miles on this stretch that I've run several times. We saw only a few people on this overcast day, a few bikers, a few walkers, so it was nice to know that the cameras kept a watchful eye on us every step of the way.

Time: 10:46 a.m.
Temp: 54 degrees
Gear: T-shirt, short (Be the Match 5K), shorts, Nike Zoom Air Pegasus+ 31.


Saturday, March 7, 2015

Day 2,990: 6 x .5 mile intervals (1/4-mile recovery)

Took advantage of a pretty crisp morning to go down to Piedmont Park and continue my intervals. This week it would be six half-mile intervals with a quarter-mile recovery.

When I got to the park cones were already up along the paths for a 5K race. Fortunately, the race didn't start while I was doing my workout!

My pace was a lot slower than in previous weeks. I made myself slow down about halfway through when I felt like one of the joints in my right knee was hurting. And after the run, both of my knees ached a little.

When this happens, it almost always means it's time to retire a pair of shoes. So I guess I'll have to retire my Skechers Go Run 2s, with only 320 miles on them.

My splits:

Mile 1: 7:38, 7:43
Mile 2: 7:51, 8:00
Mile 3: 7:49, 7:15

Not too worried about the slower times since I feel like I would run faster in a race. The 7:15 for the last interval was promising.

Since I'd already run in cool weather two weeks ago for intervals and noted how warm I got, I came prepared for today's 29 degree weather -- I wore shorts today and two long-sleeved technical T-shirts and a windbreaker. By Mile 1, the windbreaker was around my waist and I'd shed one of the T-shirts near the end of the workout.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Day 2,986: Trail running with stroller

LITHONIA, Ga. -- As a running tool, the BOB stroller has no peer. The version above (a Revolution SE) has done more than its share of plowing off of greenways and PATH trails in the nearly 3 years that we've had kiddos.

Today, we took it out for an excursion on the Wilburn Farm Trail in the Davidson-Arabia Natural Heritage Area. Just like with trail running, stroller trail running means you have to take what you're given.

It's not fast at times -- a rocky trail means you have to slow down or the stroller's ride starts to resemble something out of the covered wagon days.

Hills can even be no fun, as you're pushing the weight of the stroller (25 pounds) plus the stroller rider. But on a wide enough expanse of trail, even a nice dirt and grassy farm road once in a while, it can be fun.

By the time we made it around the farm's grassy dirt road and back to the paved PATH trail, the little one was fast asleep.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Day 2,985: A little bit of spring

After having so much cold weather lately (including a pretty frigid 38 degree run in the rain the day before), it was absolutely wonderful this afternoon.

It was in the 60s (my Garmin data said 61 degrees although my car recorded 66 degrees) and was the first time in a while that I was able to wear short sleeves and shorts, giving me a chance to rotate out all of those layers like my trusty old Nike windbreaker that have been covering me this year.

Today I ran through Virginia-Highland, onto the Beltline and into Piedmont Park. I swear even the ducks in Lake Clara Meer were wearing shorts! lol