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.