Sunday, December 31, 2017

Day 4,018: Eleven years for the runstreak!

The vest I'm wearing is from the 20th Portland (Ore.) Shamrock Run. It's 20 years old.
It was fitting that I began Week 11, Day 1 of my marathon training today, since today's easy 6-mile scheduled run meant the completion of 11 years of my daily running streak.

I meandered through my neighborhood before making it to the sign in front of Piedmont Park where I've taken my picture at the end of years of my run streak.

It was a particularly cold day, 33 degrees, and I wore running pants, two long-sleeved technical T-shirts and a running vest, as well as gloves and my running visor. I thought I would certainly shed the vest during the run but I needed all of the clothing to keep me going.

If anything, the visor was a mistake -- usually I like to have the open nature of the visor to vent out heat when I run, but running in such a cold day, all it did was keep my head cold!

I was happy to be able to run after running 18 miles on the Silver Comet the day before. That was my longest run since the 2016 Chicago Marathon and I was pretty happy with the workout (ran in 2:34:34 for an 8:35/mile pace). It's probably one of the fastest long runs I've done in training and it deserves a write-up that will probably be backdated.

I ended the month with 216.91 miles, the most since the 243 miles I put up in August 2016 in the height of my Chicago training. Also closed out 1,668.98 miles for the year and 15,824.69 miles for the runstreak.

Looking forward to more running in the New Year!

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Day 4,004: Jeff Galloway 13.1

Jeff Galloway 13.1: This pic sums up my race, basically pacing behind faster runners for a 1:41:47 finish.
Kicking around on a piece of ground in your hometown/
Waiting for someone or something to show you the way
 -Pink Floyd

The last time I ran in the Jeff Galloway 13.1, I was running at a projected 1:45 pace when calf cramps struck at Mile 10 and I was forced to slow down.

Had I been able to run 1:45, I would have placed in the top three for my age group. So I lamented having to take it a little easier after running in the Chicago Marathon with a stress fracture in my shin a few months before that race.

I had the 1:45 mark for this year's race on my mind the entire year. I added two extra races, the Atlanta 10-Miler and the Thanksgiving Day Half Marathon to help give me some additional work with Atlanta's hilly streets.

Yet often plans don't go the way you think they will and instead I suffered a four-race streak of sub-par race times, starting with October's Army Ten Miler (1:27:28) in Washington; the Atlanta 10-Miler (1:26:58); the Rock'n'Roll Savannah Half (1:56:03) and the Thanksgiving Day Half (1:55:49).

While those times were disheartening, I kept my head up and worked through a new marathon training segment, running nearly 300 miles in the last 5-1/2 weeks. On Dec. 6, I'd hit seven tempo miles out of a 12.63-mile run in what was my first 50-mile week in more than a year.

So I had confidence going into this race but I still was wary of being so snakebit the last four races. My plan was the same as last year, to go out at an 8-minute mile pace, something that would give me a 1:45 half.

The race starts downhill and it is a fast start. I've learned to not just fly down it and so I played it carefully. As we continued down Juniper I recognized ahead of me, maybe 20 seconds or so, a female runner who I know only on Instagram who has a consistent 7:40/mile pace. It was extremely helpful to guide my own pace, even if I had no plans of keeping up with that pace.

We went up Juniper's rolling hills (Mile 1: 8:00) and then later on up Central Park's hills, which I've always disliked as they are also part of the Publix Georgia Marathon/Half Marathon course. This time they felt extremely doable and Mile 2 went at 7:48.

We turned on Baker-Highland and then onto Freedom Parkway where Mile 3 is (7:53). Here I could tell people were pushing the downhill section and I felt like I wasn't properly warmed up.

I ran 1.13 miles into the park on my way to the starting line and ran into my friends Frank and Bonnie. I ended up walking with them up the big 12th Street hill and then it turned out that the race didn't start at 7:30 a.m. that I thought it did, instead at 8 a.m.! So I basically stood around and shivered for a half hour.

Mile 4 (7:59) is right before the North Highland Avenue intersection with Freedom Parkway. I kept running pretty well and it was here where I saw Frank making his own way toward the intersection. I gave him a wave and a thumbs up and then I entered the Eastside Beltline trail.

Here I felt like I was cruising pretty well (Mile 5: 7:35). I ran back and forth with a female runner down this stretch but the weird thing about this race is it happened pretty often even though I kept running my own pace without worrying about the jockeying. Each time except at the end of the race I ended up passing the jockeying runner.

At the end of the Beltline Mile 6 came and I ran it in 7:48. I'd been mentally preparing for this series of uphills, up to Virginia Avenue. Although I brought my trusty visor to the race to warm my head (it provides enough warmth while letting heat vent out the top), it was really sweaty at this point and I had been holding it in my hand for a while. So I found a big bush with a tree in it and chucked it in it. I hope it's still there, I'd like to get it back!

I also had been toying with the idea of trying to take off my long-sleeved shirt under my short sleeve shirt mid-run, as I did in the Thanksgiving Half. Next time I'll have to just wear a short-sleeved shirt and my Mizuno arm sleeves and maybe have a throwaway layer while I wait for the race to start.

We turned onto Ponce de Leon and then the big hill up St. Charles Ave. Here I gave the hill a lot of respect (Mile 7 8:00) and just worked my way back up to North Highland Ave. It was nice to be back in my home turf and this stretch down to Virginia Avenue is always fast. I ran Mile 8 in 7:23 and was starting to feel extremely good. I'd whittled down the distance of the Instagram runner (she had stopped briefly on St. Charles) and when she accelerated down Virginia, I followed in kind.

The race turns up Park Avenue and then out to Monroe Avenue. This flat section has caused me a little trouble in the past but I ran Mile 9 in 7:22, feeling great. Frank's wife Bonnie was taking pictures along 10th Street on the edge of the park, so I decided to ham it up while running on the uphill slant.


Maybe a minute or so later I'd caught up with the Instagram runner. This wasn't really my plan at all but she'd stopped briefly twice so far during the race and kept running. There was a point where we ran side by side for a second but then she pulled behind me and stopped. I kept running and made my way to the Piedmont Avenue turn.

Here on Piedmont is Mile 10 (7:47) and where I developed calf cramps last year. The section goes downhill and then is a little rough uphill past 14th Street and up next to the Atlanta Botanical Garden. I worked my way up and on the way down saw my friend Anna further down Piedmont Avenue. On this downhill stretch (Mile 11 7:24) I went back and forth with another female runner and this continued as we turned into Piedmont Park Commons.

Just then a young guy in his 20s passed us and made his way up on the paved trail that leads to Mile 12. I settled in a few steps behind him and it felt effortless following him up the trail. Right before the dog park he moved to his left and I wasn't sure if I needed to take the lead and do some work so I did but he ended up passing me again. It felt ok. Mile 12 as we entered the park's bowl was 7:47.

At this point I could tell on the watch that this guy (and myself) were fading a little bit. I also could see that wow, there was a remote chance that I could even break 1:40 if I played things right. But I was also fading and really wasn't able to get the 6:55 surge that led to my PR in Boston last May. The young guy got about eight seconds ahead of me as we entered the path around Lake Clara Meer.

On one of the corners we'd caught up with Anna and I could tell that she saw me as she turned the corner. Here I pretended that I was in my 800 meter interval set and ran down the length of the lake, thinking I would kick at the turnaround that leads back along the other side.

It was here that I finally ran alongside Anna and I told her, "We have 400 (meters) left. Let's do this." But her reply was almost like a painful cry and I left her alone. It turned out to be the first time I ever finished in front of Anna in a race.

I started down the downhill stretch with about a quarter-mile left in the race. I could see the younger guy ahead and was surprised that he didn't kick after the first curve. It gave me a little scare as maybe the finish was further back than I thought it was and I'd expended too much energy.

But when I made the turn myself (Mile 13 7:47), I could see that there was only a little bit of race left. I started my acceleration but there was no way I would catch the younger guy. As I approached the finish I let out what really was more of a roar as I worked to summon as much energy as I could to pound out to the finish (the last .16 miles on my watch was at a 6:38/mile pace).

And just like that, a 1:41:47 finish. It is my second fastest half marathon time after the 1:39:14 that I ran in May on a flat Boston course.

Also good enough for 6th place in my age group! lol I was still extremely proud to have placed 39th overall, especially when my last two halfs were in the 1:56 range.

I'm happy with the Hansons program, if anything in the future I would just use the marathon program instead of the half marathon program because I think the extra miles and speed/tempo work really helped.

I'm not sure I'll be able to run this kind of race next year, since I have plans to run in the Berlin Marathon in September. If I do, I'll have to train to be faster to place in my age group, possibly having to break 1:40 to do it.

Time: 8 a.m.
Temp: 34 degrees
Gear: Technical T-shirt long (inaugural JG 13.1), short (Big Peach Sizzler '09), shorts, cep compression socks, Headsweats visor (Phidippides), Nike Zoom Fly.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

My runstreak is now 4,000 days!

I still have hat head from my visor after today's 7-mile tempo run.
I had a 7-mile tempo run on schedule today and after that workout, which totaled 11.37 miles, I reached my 4,000th day of my running streak.

In the beginning, the streak had a practical purpose. I used to run and then, thinking I was super-fit, I would stop running and then weeks and months would go by before the next time I ran again. Each time I would start running it would take four to six weeks before it was painless to run again, whether it was pain in my legs or my lungs trying to catch up.

Now it's just something I do. I was asked today when it is going to end, and I really don't know the answer to that. I like the idea of continuing my runstreak as I'm continuing (and hopefully crushing) my running goals. I like that I'm a much faster runner than I was in my 20s and even in high school.

So who knows when it's going to end? I'm looking forward to more miles and adventures in running!

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Day 3,999: No love from Chicago (whew!)

At the end of October I must have had some free time on my hands because I threw my hat in the ring for two marathon lotteries -- the BMW Berlin Marathon and the Bank of America Chicago Marathon.

The Berlin entry was a longshot -- I've tried for several years to get into the London Marathon and once to get into the Tokyo Marathon with no success. Both races have separate lotteries for foreign entries, making the chances extremely small to get in. I had no idea what my chances were with Berlin but figured it was the same.

Chicago, well, that was different. The two previous years in which I entered the lottery for my hometown's race -- in 2010 and 2016 -- the lotteries opened in February and you received word around April.

After the October 2016 race, however, the marathon opened the lottery at the end of the month and notified you if you were in by the end of the year. I was still coming off of the stress fracture in my shin and really it was too soon for me to decide to want to go through training for another marathon that soon. So I didn't apply.

This year, however, I loved seeing pictures of the people participating in a race that I still loved. I've kept myself marathon-free for all of 2017 and thought it would be great to run it in 2018.

But when I received notice that I was accepted in the Sept. 16 Berlin marathon, some worries immediately popped into my head -- the Chicago marathon is literally three weeks later and waay too soon to recover and continue training for a second marathon.

The only time I did two marathons in that close of a period of time was in 2014, when I did the Marine Corps Marathon in October and then the Honolulu Marathon as a basic fun run about six weeks later in December. I remember the Honolulu race was extremely painful, it felt like my fitness had gone out the window in an extremely short period of time.

I'd actually tried to stack marathons again in 2016, with the Chicago race in October and then the Chevron Houston Marathon the following January. Yet I didn't even go to that race after I felt bogged down by training that December and felt my focus was gone.

So whew! I save the $195 it would have cost me to participate in Chicago. Yes, you can defer to the next year if accepted into the race and didn't want to run in it but you forfeit the race fee and must pay it again the next year.

I'll keep applying. It would be great to somehow qualify for guaranteed entry under the new time guidelines the Chicago marathon released this year. I don't see any statistics from the race but I wonder if the increased guaranteed entries affected the number of lottery entries available.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Day 3,998: Your Nuun ambassador -- Year Two!

Earlier this morning I was greeted with a great surprise -- to be named as a Nuun ambassador for a second year.

It's been a great honor to help spread the word about electrolyte replenishment and to be connected to a really great running community via Instagram.

Looking forward to helping continue to spread the word and run great races in 2018!

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Day 3,997: An icy spill

A slip on an icy patch resulted in my finger being splinted for part of the day.
I've run nearly 4,000 days in a row and can tell you the one streak I could never do is run without falling down at some point. I can't tell you the last time I did fall down -- it's such a rare occurrence that I usually note it in this blog.

But today ... lol.

I had an easy 6-mile run on the schedule and it was kind of warming up and the streets were clear. Sure there were icy spots on some sidewalks here and there but largely nothing to worry about. I left the YakTrax at home since I would not need them 99 percent of the time I was out there.

But I was about four miles into the run when I slipped on an icy patch on a driveway. All that I know is that my cell phone that I was carrying in my left hand took the brunt of the fall as it got thrust right into the snow/ice. Only problem was that my left index finger also went into the driveway. I also fell/rolled on my right arm and right leg.

At first I wasn't sure if my finger was broken as it was incredibly numb for a while. It never swelled and I didn't have any trouble running the rest of the route home and holding my phone (which survived the fall).

When I got home, my finger felt a little better being taped to something straight (such as the IKEA pencil in the photo). A few hours later, when I took a shower, I took the makeshift splint off and my finger felt better without a splint.

The next day the finger felt fine although there was a bunch of bruising on either side of the knuckle and I couldn't really make a fist.

It just goes to show you that you never know what might happen when you get out on the run. I've learned my lesson, though. Uncomfortable or no, I have to wear YakTrax if there's any snow/ice out at all.

Time: 10:15 a.m.
Temp: 32 degrees (?), wind chill 29 degrees
Gear: Technical T-shirts, long x2, windbreaker, Brooks running pants, Saucony ISO Zealot 3.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Day 3,996: My first 50-mile week (in a long time)

Ran into another runner on my snow run!
I had an easy 8-mile run on schedule today that would give me 50 miles for the week for the first time since the second week of September 2016 when I injured my right shin after running in the Craft Classic Half Marathon in Atlanta.

It was sort of incredible to think it had been that long to put up that many miles but even in my lead up to running 1:39:14 in Boston's Run to Remember, the most weekly mileage I'd put up in that training cycle was 41.1 two weeks before that May race.

Up until today this week had been all smiles -- I'd fully recovered from the Thanksgiving Half Marathon and was able to put up workouts that showed it -- I did 6 x .5 mile intervals on Monday and then hit seven miles at tempo pace on Wednesday in a run that totalled 12.63 miles. Then, of course, yesterday's 10.54 miles in the snow.

I've been pretty careful about my running, though, always cognizant of that injury that led up to the 2016 Bank of America Chicago Marathon. Yet so far the extra mileage has been a joy -- before this training cycle I'd hovered around 30 miles a week and it's been nice to let the cats loose toward the 40-mile range last month.

Still I had this run to run and while the snow looked like it was melting, I wasn't totally convinced that just going in running shoes was the best idea, so I strapped on my YaxTrax traction control devices on my Saucony ISO Zealot 3 shoes and headed down Ponce de Leon Avenue into Oakhurst.


It was nice to get this run in. Really no matter what happens in the marathon, doing this training program is a good way to get in shape through the winter.

Time: 8:53 a.m.
Temp: 30 degrees
Gear: Technical T-shirts, long x2 (Nike black, JG 13.1), Brooks running pants, North Face windbreaker, gloves, Hoka One One beanie, Nuun hydration hat, Saucony ISO Zealot 3.

Friday, December 8, 2017

Day 3,995: A rare snow day in Atlanta

A bit of snow remained on my hat after today's 10.5-mile run
It's funny just two days ago I was running a 7-mile tempo workout in a t-shirt and shorts.

Today I had an easy 10-mile run on the schedule but it was cold (maybe 34 degrees or so) and a little rainy. With the kids schedules, I didn't have any other choice but to dress for the elements and get out there.

I made my way to the park and it was sleeting pretty heavily. I didn't really feel it because of the waterproof shell I had on but at about 2.5 miles I had a choice -- return home and change my shirts (I felt like maybe sleet had fallen in my jacket behind my neck) or keep going. I decided to keep going at the last moment, making my way out to Ponce de Leon Avenue and up to North Highland Avenue to the PATH trail.

On the PATH trail there was a younger guy really blazing it to the North Avenue intersection and then back up to Boulevard and around. Dude was only wearing sweats with no gloves. I was glad to have worn what I decided to wear for the workout. That started with long- and short-sleeved technical T-shirts, my North Face waterproof shell, a hat as you see above, gloves and shorts. I debated wearing my running pants but thought it would be warm enough.

For shoes, I went with a pair of Saucony Zealot 3s, the ones that the running shoe company sent to me after I sent them my pair of Zealot 2s that had the outsole peeling away from both shoes. Saucony uses rubber on the outsole and this provides excellent traction on wet surfaces.

I looped back down the PATH from Boulevard and out to the Atlanta Eastside Beltline trail. It was nice to have the trail almost to myself, with the exception of a few dog walkers and one or two runners during the entire length from Irwin Street to Monroe Avenue.

It seemed surreal to see the snow falling down pretty heavily among trees that still were full of yellow fall leaves as I approached Irwin Street. It almost looked like something I'd see a computer trying to generate in a video game. After turning around at Irwin and heading back, a woman in her 20s who was sitting with two girlfriends outside one of the buildings alongside the Beltline said, "I'm so proud of you!" I said thanks and waved, not sure if it was sincere or in jest.

The snow was really falling pretty heavily and my shell and my face and my hat were encrusted in snow. Near the Monroe intersection some guy on his bike filmed me running down the trail and later on another guy with a wrapped up professional camera did the same. I just focused on having a good pace and getting back home.

In the end, I ran 10.53 miles. It was nice to have a relaxing, almost leisurely pace. I could have changed my workout and run much shorter for the run streak but snow comes so infrequently to Atlanta that I'm glad I had a chance to enjoy it this time around.

Time: 9:39 a.m.
Temp: 34 degrees
Gear: Technical T-shirt, long (JG 13.1), Technical T-shirt, short (Atlanta Braves navy), North Face windbreaker, technical hat, Brooks shorts, cep compression socks, technical gloves, Saucony ISO Zealot 3.


Thursday, November 30, 2017

Day 3,987: Lottery winner: BMW Berlin Marathon (or "Off the fence and into the fire")

Today before I even was able to get in my run of the day (7 miles easy on the schedule), I received an email notifying me that I won an entry into next September's BMW Berlin Marathon. It was my first time applying for the extremely fast race that has netted world record times.

It's also the first time I've been able to win a lottery entry into one of the three international marathons that are in the Abbott World Major Marathon series (the other three are in the U.S., Boston, New York and Chicago). I've tried without success to get into the London Marathon for several years and did not get into my lone attempt to win a lottery draw for Tokyo a few years ago (I forgot to apply this year).

I put "Off the fence and into the fire" into the title of today's post because the announcement also pushed me towards running in a race that I've thought about for several months, the March 8 Snickers Marathon in Albany, Ga.

All month I've actually been following the Hansons Marathon Method schedule but hadn't signed up yet. This month's 166.85 miles that I ran is my highest mileage since November 2016, coming off of the Chicago Marathon a month earlier that year.

For the last four weeks I felt that running in a run-heavy schedule of 40+ miles a week was a good way to get in shape without necessarily committing to a race distance that I've yet to conquer.

But now that I have a chance to run in my second World Major Marathon (I've run in Chicago twice, in 2010 and last year), it seems logical to put myself through training over the winter to work out the issues I've had.

It would be nice to get through a marathon strong, without hitting the wall and without the painful calf cramps. I'd love to see exactly what the same kind of training I did in 2016 would have resulted in if I hadn't developed a stress fracture in my shin.

I'm really glad now I let myself take a break from marathons for a whole year and now am looking forward to being fresh for the two races next year.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Atlanta Track Club's great Cyber Monday deal


It's Cyber Monday, so that means great deals on the Internet, including at the Atlanta Track Club! There's a 30 percent discount that lasts today only for items on their site, including shoes, clothes and even New York City marathon winner Shalane Flanagan's Run Fast Eat Slow cookbook.

Everything means everything however, and that includes an item that usually is not discounted -- membership to the ATC, which provides guaranteed entry to the July 4th AJC Peachtree Road Race and member discounts on that race and others by the ATC, including the popular Publix Georgia Marathon and Half Marathon and the Thanksgiving Day Half Marathon. Certain other races are free for members as well.

Typically an individual membership costs $35; a dual (for two people) is $60 and a membership for the whole family is $75.

Many people probably don't realize the track club sells memberships in their online store. I learned of this last year when the club announced they were planning to raise their membership fees for 2017, so I bought a gift membership for the wife (that would cover the both of us), locking in the 2016 rate.

The code is CYBERMON30, if the picture above doesn't show up.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Day 3,980: Thanksgiving Day Half Marathon

My eighth running of this race in the last 10 years.
I signed up for this race last month at the last minute thinking it would be good to have some hill work leading up to December's JG13.1,

It turned out to be a race in which I was snakebit in all kinds of ways. But I was able to power through and probably ran one of the fastest times I've run this race -- if you take out the delays I had.

First, I thought I would be able to leave home and arrive with as little time as possible. I used my sneaky route up Georgia Avenue from Grant Park to get to the Gold Lot. Unfortunately, when I got here about 7:15 a.m. -- 15 minutes before the race start -- the lot was packed! I wasn't sure I would get a space but I ultimately did. Parking was kind of at a premium.

Then I waited in my car until five minutes before the race started. Where I parked was a little further from the start than I thought so no problem, I started trotting ahead and saw the Wave A sign, getting there with a few seconds to spare.

The only thing was on my side of the road, the corral was fenced off! I went to the sign thinking I could just enter there, but no!

Wave A started and I had a choice. I knew it wasn't kosher to hop the fence, but that's what I did and immediately started running ... for a bit. At .41 miles, the shoelace in my left shoe became untied so I stopped off to the side and tied it before continuing.

Just after 1.5 miles I really felt like I needed to stop and use the bathroom. This really hasn't happened to me since I ran the Portland Marathon in 2000. I saw a private lot with two porta-potties so I went over to those. But they were zip-tied! So I crossed back over the course and went over to CNN Center, where I have had bathroom stops on long runs in the past. But at first the guard didn't think it was open. Another guard said it was, so I went in.

This whole exchange cost me about eight minutes and an extra half mile to my half marathon. When I came back to the race (I made sure I entered at exactly the spot I left), I was running with the 2:15 pace group!

I decided that I would treat this as a fun run but I also wanted to run as steadily as I could. I eventually started catching up with the 2-hour pace group (I was passing pacers in this group from Mile 4 to Mile 10) and I wondered if I would break 2 hours because of my detour.

But I continued. I felt great, churning away the miles into Piedmont Park. Just before Mile 7, the shoelace in my right shoe became untied so I stopped on the side of the course (just under the basketball courts) and tied my shoe and went on. It was great to be running on my home turf and I didn't have any signs of slowing like I did in the past.

When we exited the park I made sure I ran carefully up the hills on 10th Street and Juniper. In the past running on Courtland Street back into downtown would wear me down but I ran one of my fastest miles of the race here in 8:05 for Mile 9.

We continued up the steep hill right when you get on John Wesley Dobbs and onto Irwin Street. Right before Mile 10 I decided to take off my long-sleeved technical shirt and just wear my short sleeve Team Beef technical shirt. I'd never done this in a race but I was starting to get uncomfortable wearing the layers.

It resulted in me juggling my Headsweats visor, my sunglasses, my wireless headphones, my short sleeve shirt and then my long-sleeved one. It actually felt great to be wearing no shirt at all for the short segment that I didn't have it on. Then I finally figured out the right way to put on my red shirt and for a few seconds I couldn't see anything around me! Luckily I didn't run into anyone or anything.

At Mile 10 I decided to eat a GU gel because I felt like I neede an extra boost. We turned down onto the suicide lane of DeKalb Avenue just like we ran the other way in the Craft Classic Half Marathon. I still felt pretty strong here and by Mile 11 I reasoned I would have a good shot at breaking 2 hours if I could just run 10-minute miles.

At Mile 12 I was still running strong and knew I only needed to negotiate the double stacked hill on Mitchell Street near the Capitol Avenue. Just on the first part of this section a burly guy running ran into my left side and instinctively I pushed him away with my arm and continued up the hill.

On Capitol Avenue going down to the Memorial Drive intersection there were two young women who were starting to run fast. The section over the interstate is basically hill, hill over interstate, then downhill. I don't think I caught them but I really started to kick it on the last portion of the race, but really waiting until I passed the Mile 13 sign. I had lots of energy for the finish and negotiated the final .13 miles at a 5:48/mile pace, which was a great sign of my running. Finished in 1:55:48 and this easily could have been in the 1:47/1:48 range without stops.

It was a real relief to finally get a good race in, even if circumstances won't reflect it in the final time. I really didn't know what to say after the last three races in which I constantly was being blown up after the first five miles of the races. I think being back on the Hansons program has been helpful with additional weekly mileage and speed/tempo work.

Postscript: I see this race is called the "Thanksgiving Day Half Marathon" but will always be the Atlanta Half Marathon to me. Plus the Atlanta Track Club changed the course again (a straight section on John Wesley Dobbs to Irwin Street instead of turning down Boulevard), the third different course I've run on in the last 10 years).

Time: 7:30 a.m.
Temp: 43 degrees
Gear: Technical T-shirt, long (Locomotive Half '10), Technical T-shirt, short (Team BEEF), shorts, visor, sunglasses, Newton Gravity V.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Day 3,961: Rock'n'Roll Savannah Half Marathon


SAVANNAH, Ga. -- After major disappointments in October with the Army Ten Miler and the Atlanta 10-Miler, I hoped to rebound with a race I've always wanted to run: the Rock'n'Roll Savannah Half Marathon.

I'd always wanted to run in it but never was able to have my schedule work out for it. This year there was a kind of serendipity, some friends were going to be in town and the race was introduced at a heavily discounted price of about $50 after another company purchased the Rock'n'Roll series.

Despite that, we had to plan the trip around the race expo. We arrived on the expo's first day, Thursday, since we'd heard horror stories of the traffic jams that happen on the second day, Friday, when most people from out of town attend the expo. The expo is across the river from Savannah on Hutchinson Island and the only way you can get there is by car over a highway bridge or by ferry.

Arriving on Thursday was a breeze. We got in, got our bibs, enjoyed the expo, including a crazy booth sponsored by Brooks where you had to grab as many colored tickets as you could while they swirled around you (one of them was a ticket for a free pair of shoes). I didn't get to do this, but the wife did ... and I probably don't have the permission to post the pictures, lol.

Afterward we checked into our hotel, which was the Courtyard by Marriott, which was convenient since it was about three-quarters of a mile away from the race start at Bay and Bull streets and a half-mile from the finish at Forsyth Park.

On race day I made my way down to the start. It was pretty crowded but my corral was conveniently the first one. I felt a little concerned given my recent race performances and the fact that when I applied for the race I thought a 1:35 half marathon time would be a good goal. (When the race started, I saw a 1:45 pace flag in the first corral so I didn't feel too bad about being there).

This year because of heat concerns, the race announced the start would be 10 minutes earlier than the scheduled 7:30 a.m. start. No big deal. It was actually a little cool and breezy and the conditions really reminded me of some years doing the Publix Georgia Half Marathon.

We started and it wasn't crazy fast. Visibility was pretty good, I think it was only 30 minutes before sunrise there.

The first five miles are out along an industrial area, which is not really that interesting. My hope was to run maybe an 8-minute mile pace and I largely succeeded in going about 8:05/mile for the first three miles. Mile 4 was 8:13 and I was a little worried about the dreaded slowdown.

Mile 5 was 8:36 and so I knew I would be slowing. Incidentally a third of a mile into Mile 5 you are in the downtown area and this included some brick-lined streets, which reminded me a lot of running in the Ukrops Monument Avenue 10K last year in Richmond, Va. Fortunately I was wearing some very cushioned shoes that I'd never before used in a race, my Hoka One One Clifton 3s because of a weird happenstance.

When I checked into the hotel on Thursday, I immediately realized something was wrong -- I had a bag containing my Clifton 3s, which I only have used on very easy runs, and a pair of flip flops. The shoes I'd planned on using in the race, my Newton Gravity Vs, were nowhere to be seen. I lamented leaving them at home in the study while carrying the other bag instead.

So here I was in the race, clip-clopping along with a pair of shoes I had never raced in. They actually felt fine.

By Mile 7 I'd slowed to about a 9-minute mile pace and I stayed at this rate for two miles until I slowed to 9:45 for Mile 9. When you go 1-2 minutes per mile slower than you started out, you get lots of people passing you. I slid into the slowest mile time for a non-marathon race in recent memory at Mile 10, 10:20.

But it was here that I realized that if I somehow kept my running under a 10-minute mile for the last 3 miles I would at least break 2 hours. So I focused on this and told myself Mile 11 would be crucial (9:21) to set up a good Mile 12 (9:06) to make sure I had enough time banked to break 2 hours in case I had a bad last mile.

But I continued at this pace (9:05) for Mile 13, despite being warned that this last mile has a gradual hill. It looked like two separate hills, really nothing to be concerned when you run in Atlanta every day (and have experienced the mega-hills of the Atlanta 10-Miler).

I was glad to see the Mile 26 sign for the marathon portion of the race, since it meant I had .2/mile to go! I waited until I passed the Mile 13 marker and then just kicked it the last tenth of a mile at a satisfactory pace (6:34/mile).

I finished and I was glad! 1:56:04, which is my slowest half marathon in two years but definitely something that has been instructive to me. I did the distance, running at least 10 miles in training runs and having done two 10-mile races prior to this race. But I did not do very well with interval training (when I tried to do 7:15/mile interval runs for a 1:35 half pace it did not work out as well as I wanted) and my speedwork was choppy.

I remain confident that I have the speed to run the way I would like (I've run under 1:50 in 11 of the 34 half marathons I've run) and sometimes a(nother) slow race is a good kick in the pants to get myself going. Of course, I've been saying this and writing this since August, so I will have to focus and make sure I put down the right road work for a good spring.

As a postscript, it was only after I returned back to Atlanta that I discovered I had brought my Newton running shoes all along! They had fallen in between the second and third row of seats in my car and I did not notice them in my rush to unpack the car when we had to leave it with the hotel valet (the only parking option we had with the hotel).

Time: 7:20 a.m.
Temp: 57 degrees
Gear: Technical T-shirt, sleeveless (Team BEEF), shorts, cep compression socks, Phidippides Headsweats visor, Nike X1 sunglasses, Hoka One One Clifton 3.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Day 3,948: PNC Atlanta 10-Miler

Medal from my third Atlanta 10-Miler
I signed up for this race at the last minute to be a tune-up for the Nov. 4 Rock'n'Roll Savannah Half Marathon.

The course is new this year (incidentally the three times I've run in this race each time was on a different course), with the Atlanta Track Club marketing this as a race where you can run down Cardiac Hill, not up as in the Peachtree Road Race.

(It turns out that, according to Frank's blog, the old route up Cardiac Hill would have blocked access to Piedmont Hospital. Running down Cardiac Hill would leave this entrance open as runners ran along the opposite side of the road).

I also felt like my slow race in the Army Ten Miler two weeks ago was some kind of fluke because of the humidity, so I looked forward to trying to make a PR on this course.

As I did in 2015, I parked along Peachtree Street, this time right across from the High Museum of Art. Last time I did it was because of the huge backup of cars on the 17th Street bridge over I-75/85 and to be able to return home quickly without being in a big traffic jam.

I ran over the 17th Street bridge to get to the race start, stopping at a short row of porta potties the race put out. It was fortunate that I did because when I got to Atlantic Station the line was huge for the porta potties there.

This was the first time (ever?) that I used the gear check. I felt like it would be good to have some things accessible immediately afterward, including a change of shoes, a T-shirt and towel as well as a few nuun tablets and a container of Muscle Milk.

I had only a few minutes before the race started when I got to my corral, Wave A. It was packed. When the race started it was pretty congested. I wasn't in any hurry and felt like I would pick up my pace as the race went on. Mile 1 was 8:28.

We continued along Peachtree down the second hill that you get after running up Cardiac Hill in the Peachtree Road Race. My pace felt easy and I logged an 8:07. After here you went through the race's Cardiac Hill challenge, to be one of the fastest 100 people to run this 1-mile stretch. There were a lot of people increasing their pace here -- I thought it was fool's gold, considering the monster hills on the back half of the course (I ran down Cardiac Hill in 8:10).

At Mile 3 (8:08), you are on Peachtree Hills and there are two pretty big hills along this stretch. I couldn't remember exactly what this stretch was like so I ran up these carefully. Closer to Lindbergh Drive I recognized this area from some geocaching-related running I'd done in the past. The hills slowed me to 8:32 for Mile 4.

Then we finally got to Piedmont and the site of the I-85 bridge fire. I've run in this section in the past but it's a little tricky to go under the overpass when traffic is busy, especially on the west side where the I-85 ramp is. Mile 5 was 8:04.

After this there is a gradual hill up to Cheshire Bridge Road. I felt pretty good here, since I was close to my own neighborhood. But even on the downhill, lots of people were passing me. There wasn't much I could do. I logged Mile 6 in 9:04 and before this was the CLIF gel station.

I wasn't going to get one (I carried a GU gel for this purpose) but at the last moment I decided to get one and when I reached my arm out, my left calf started to cramp. I was a little surprised at this since I've been running the 10-mile distance recently with no problems.

Then the course goes up the Piedmont Avenue hill near where I proposed to my wife during a run 6 years ago. I ran this carefully, knowing that there would be the killer 12th Street hill outside Piedmont Park. The course cut into the Botanical Gardens and around the oval where Mile 7 was (9:10).

I slowly made my way up the 12th Street hill and then picked up the pace a little bit on Juniper, although I knew that right after you cross 10th Street it is a series of rolling hills for three blocks. But after that, you turn down 6th Street for a downhill section. Mile 8 here was 8:56. About a quarter-mile later I started to get subtle cramps in both my calves that would intermittently happen the rest of the race.

We cut onto West Peachtree and I was surprised for a second. My map that I downloaded before I signed up last month had Spring as the turn. But this is actually better since the part of 6th that goes to Spring is narrow and would bottleneck. Here my GPS watch started to go haywire and gave me ridiculous splits of 7:15 and 6:22 (I extrapolated that maybe I ran these last two miles at an average of 9:13/mile). It also said I ran 10.71 miles, which I know isn't true.

It was good knowing the end was soon. But I wasn't sure if I would run this slower than the Army Ten Miler. I ended up crossing in 1:26:58, about 30 seconds faster than my effort two weeks ago. I'm glad I did the race. It is hilly but I liked the course. I'm not sure it's USATF-certified, as there's nothing listed in the search but ironically they still have listed with USATF the old 2013 Atlanta 10-Miler course that was basically "do the last 10 miles of our marathon course."

So I'm back in a puzzle. It wasn't even 5 months ago that I posted a half marathon PR of 1:39:14. I guess my training has taken a hit, I've been sick and this was pretty hilly. Yet I know that I still have that old cat speed and endurance. It just might take a little more prodding than usual to see better results.

Time: 7:15 a.m.
Temp: 57 degrees
Gear: Technical T-shirt, short (Team BEEF), shorts, cep compression socks, visor (Headsweats nuun), sunglasses (Nike Show X1 Pro), Nike Zoom Fly.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Day 3,934: Army Ten Miler

The Army Ten Miler course.
ARLINGTON, Va. -- I'd first heard about this race a few years ago from a neighbor whose family had run it many times over the years.

At the time I went to the website to find out when it was. Unfortunately that was when registration had started and the whole system was frozen! I was never able to tell when the race was held!

So when this year's registration started in June, I decided to register for the race. I got in and started planning, noticing that I could rely on my experience in the 2014 Marine Corps Marathon, namely that both races start in roughly the same place, one of the outer parking lots of the Pentagon.

For the 2014 marathon, I stayed at the Residence Inn in Arlington, which was a great place since it was within walking distance of the Pentagon lots. This year, the hotel was booked and I stayed a little further down in Crystal City at a hotel called the Americana. It was a great place to stay since it is only a few blocks from the Metro station and also a brand-new Whole Foods Market where I filled up on beet salad and spaghetti the day before the race.

I knew it was going to be warm the day of the race but on race morning the temperature was similar to this year's Peachtree Road Race -- 76 degrees and humid. Even though I was less than a half-mile's run from the Pentagon, I had to make sure I got there in plenty of time since the cutoff for entering into the first four waves (I was in the first wave) was at 7:30 a.m. Plus, given recent security concerns, I was not sure how long it would take for me to get through security.

So I started out at 6:50 a.m. and really breezed through security. I got to my wave in plenty of time and waited around a little bit before the race started. When it did, it was crushingly humid. I didn't have a set time in mind -- with my training I knew I was going to be slower than what I'd intended on training -- but I was surprised that I was having trouble running faster. An early glance at my watch said I was running about an 8 minute mile.

I finished the first mile in 7:50 and then struggled to get speed on the second, finishing a little faster at 7:40. After that, it started to rain lightly but with the rain came a nice breeze that lasted the rest of my race. I took my first water at about 2.4 miles.

By this time I could tell trouble was brewing. I finished Mile 3, which has the only significant rise in the race, at 8:17 and just told myself to take it easy. I forgot to bring a GU gel with me and only had a caffeinated Run Gum packet. I'd originally hoped to use this for later in the race but the way things were going I ate it before Mile 4. It helped boost my confidence.

At this point I divided the race up into two mile sections and this one was very familiar to me. It overlaps the course of the Marine Corps Marathon and the Cherry Blossom 10-Miler, which I've run twice.

It was nice to just trot through the National Mall and when we exited onto the highway that brings you over the Potomac River into Crystal City, I noted that although I was running slow (Mile 7 was 9:10), at least on this stretch I did not have to struggle with calf muscle cramping like I did in the 2014 marathon.

I made my way into Virginia and soon you could tell the finish was coming. I finished in 1:27:30, which was a far cry from my 1:22:16 PR from a few years ago in the Atlanta 10-Miler. Coming into this race I thought it would be nearly a given I would PR on a flat course (and) only having to run an 8-minute mile pace.

But of course no race is a given and I was pretty fortunate to have slowed down and run carefully in the humid conditions. During the race I passed by three people who were receiving medical attention, something that I have seen in hot races in the past such as the 2010 Bank of America Chicago Marathon.

After I finished, the race trimmed a mile off the course because of the hot conditions, diverting people from the mall directly onto the highway back to Virginia.

If there's a silver lining to my race performance, I've nearly always rebounded from slow races with much better results in subsequent months. Today's race reminded me of the pretty slow showing I put up in the Atlanta 10-Miler in October 2013, followed up by almost not being able to finish in two hours the Atlanta Thanksgiving Half Marathon.

Those races set me up for a marathon push that ultimately led to my first sub-4 hour finish in the Marine Corps Marathon the following year.

But if anything else, I need to recognize that I have to remain more diligent with my training, especially getting in the right amount of weekly miles and tempo runs.

Time: 8:01 a.m.
Temp: 76 degrees, light rain
Gear: Singlet (Nuun, Pactimo Sports), shorts, Headsweats visor (Phidippides), Newton Gravity V.

Monday, September 4, 2017

Day 3,900: Big Peach Sizzler 10K


After two years I came back to run in the Big Peach Sizzler 10K, although probably not at my best training.

When I ran in it in 2015, I started out way too fast and paid for it near the end, something that I decided to take into account today.

This year, I decided to leave home at 6:30 a.m. and park in the plentiful MARTA lots around the Chamblee station. I had enough time to do a warm-up of about three-quarters of a mile and then settled in well behind the 45-minute pace group.

When the gun sounded, I found my pace was pretty quick, so I dialed it back and tried to settle in for a good run. My first mile was 7:23. I'd hoped to run in the 7:15/7:17 range but I wasn't too discouraged since it was within 10 seconds.

The second mile of the rolling hills came and went and I ran that a little faster, at 7:20. By the third mile I ran a little slower, at 7:27 and I was starting to worry about my pace, which really fell off at 3.8 miles. My fourth mile was 7:51 followed by a fifth mile of 8:15. Lots of people passed me and I started to worry how much slower I would be and whether I would drop out.

During this time my right foot must have been swelling in my shoe (that has only had 16 miles on them) because my foot felt numb. In between footfalls I would move my big toe of that foot back and forth to give myself some circulation. Mile 6 was a little better, 7:39, and I ran the last .26 miles of the race at a 6:19/mile pace, for 47:39, about a minute slower than in 2015.

My training hasn't been great recently although now that it's fall I will have more time to put in more miles and speed. So I'm not too worried but this is a good wake-up call to work harder for the races ahead.

Time: 7:30 a.m.
Temp: 59 degrees
Gear: T-shirt, technical (Team BEEF), shorts, cep compression socks, Nike Zoom Vaporfly 4%.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Marine Corps Marathon entries for sale

In case you missed out on the lottery for the Oct. 22 Marine Corps Marathon, there are entries to be had at the Phidippides running store here in Atlanta. They announced today that they had entries for sale on their website.

I ran in the race in 2014 and it was one of my top memories in my running career. When I saw the announcement, I nearly jumped to sign up for the race but then thought better of it, thinking that I would have some trouble gearing up for a marathon in eight weeks and just two weeks after I'm planning on running in the Army Ten Miler (also in Washington, D.C.).

Someday I'll run in it again and will base my training on the eight words that I said to the Marine who handed me my marathon medal three years ago: "Thank you for your service to this country."

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Day 3,877: Vinings Down Hill 5K

Rocking a sleeveless Team BEEF shirt for the first time for this race!
It's been two years since I ran my current 5K PR in the Vinings Down Hill 5K. I'd been eagerly awaiting this race, in part to have a good 5K qualifying time for Group A of the Peachtree Road Race.

But I also needed to be realistic -- I hadn't done any meaningful speedwork in three weeks, although this meant I was entering the race fresh, right?

I drove up to the Overlook parking deck about an hour before the race started. It was very easy to find parking and I was able to use the restrooms and get a short warmup before the race started. When I was waiting for the race to start, I was very sweaty, a testament to the humidity of this race.

When the race started I wanted to make sure that I did not run too fast like I did in the first mile of last month's Westside Beltline 5K. So I held back lots and made sure I ran strong up the hill that's at the first half mile of the course. My first mile time was 6:55.

I had enough energy to attack the next hill that comes at 1.06 miles. After this my pace started to slow down to about 7:20/7:30/mile. I noticed this after glancing at my watch but there wasn't much I could do about it. My data shows my cadence fell apart at 1.41 miles and I didn't run under a 7-minute-mile pace until well after the last hill had cleared at about 1.88 miles. Mile 2 was 7:11.

I ran at under 7-minute-mile pace until Mile 2.54 and started to slow my pace at the last set of gradual rises before the turn to the Lovett School. Once turned, even though the section is briefly downhill, I ran at about a 7:30/mile pace pretty much to the finish. (Mile 3 was 7:07).

I finished in 22:12, which was not really a time that I was expecting, although this time is a good starting point for what I need to do going into the fall and winter. Thankfully there are races ahead and I can submit my 1:39:20 half marathon time from May 28 for Group A consideration.

Time: 7:59 a.m.
Temp: 73 degrees
Gear: Technical shirt, sleeveless (Team BEEF), Mizuno shorts, cep compression socks, Newton Gravity V.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Day 3,873: Being a Mizuno shoe tester (again)

It was rainy testing shoes for Mizuno, but somebody's got to do it.
I returned to the Atlanta Track Club today to test more shoes for Mizuno. I did it last November and it was pretty fun to run in different shoes and give my opinion of them.

This time around they only needed people who wore men's size 9 shoes. I signed up since my shoe size varies from maker, from the size 9 I wear in the Newton Gravity V to the size 10 that I wear with the Nike Free RN Distance.

I dutifully reported at the Atlanta Track Club's headquarters. This time we were presented with five kinds of Mizuno shoes. We were to run 4-5 minutes in them and then rate them based on how we felt.

The first three were basic cushioned trainers. The last two were much more faster shoes and I ran the best in these, although to be honest, it was fully raining and I had a motivation to get back to the HQ!

In all I ran 2.6 miles. It was a nice way to provide some feedback for running and I hope to have the chance to do it again soon!

Friday, August 4, 2017

Day 3,869: Tread troubles: Saucony ISO Zealot 2

Trouble with tread: My Saucony ISO Zealot 2 after 275 miles.
After bringing my first pair of Saucony ISO Zealot 2s to 500 miles last December, it's clear my second pair won't last that long.

At least the tread doesn't appear to be able to last that long. The other day I noticed the orange rubber of the outsole start to peel off. Today it's clearly worn down to the foam, not a good sign. Most times after 500 miles there's hardly any wear on the treads of my shoes.

My theory is this shoe has extra wear from me using it during double stroller runs, having to push off on my right foot to get going, pushing close to 100 extra pounds.

In any event, these were basically my backup shoes, as I never wanted to race in this type of shoe again after I developed the stress fracture in my shin after last September's Craft Classic Half Marathon. (I'd already purchased these shoes before the injury and kept running in them for easy duty to get the most out of them for my money).

Still, for daily use, they were more than dependable. I'll still try to get as much out of them but probably will be hunting for a cushioned daily trainer.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Day 3,849: Atlanta Beltline Westside 5K

Second-place age group medal from the race.
I really enjoyed running in the Atlanta Beltline's Southwest 5K four years ago and decided to add this one to the calendar.

The current race, however, is slightly different from when I ran in it previously. It starts and ends at West End Park. The Southwest 5K also included cross country elements, such as running a grassy unimproved stretch of the Beltline for the start. Today's race was all on asphalt or concrete.

The race announcer said this year had the most participants for this race and you could kind of tell near the start, which was delayed 15 minutes so race officials could process a large line of people who still hadn't gotten their bibs yet. (It looked like almost 100 people before the race).

I'd already done my mile warmup prior to the scheduled 7:30 a.m. start. There was really nothing to do but wait.

When the gun started, I took off with everyone else running along rolling hills of city streets for the first six tenths of a mile until the course wound around to the Beltline concrete trail.

I'd been moving at about a 6:40/mile pace, which felt ok to me but turned out to be not that great. My first mile was 6:47.

I can tell by my data that at 1.22 miles, my cadence fell apart. I started to run slower and was passed by several guys with gray hair, including the guy who ended up with 1st place in my age group (he ran it in 21:11, which would be a PR for me and nothing I probably could have shot for this day).

Still, I tried to keep up as well as I could. I ran Mile 2 in 7:17 and at that point the race leaves the Beltline to to a turnaround on Langhorn Street SW. This meant going down a hill and going up the hill on the turnaround, so you can see who's ahead of you and who's behind you.

The hill ends at about 2.6 miles when it turns on Oak Street Southwest and it is mainly downhill from here. I ran Mile 3 in 7:23 and waited until the last turn to the finish to really kick. My watch has me running the last .05 miles at a 5:34/mile pace.

I finished in 21:45, which I was kind of surprised to do. Still, my watch had me short of 3.1 but I felt like it was a good effort, even though I need to work on my endurance for the latter half of the race.

I walked back to my car and changed my shirt and got some nuun to hydrate before coming back. With all the gray haired guys who passed me earlier in the race I wasn't confident I even placed in my age group but was happy to have placed second.

This race felt like a good warmup for future 5Ks. I have specific things I want to do with my 5K training and feel like a PR will be waiting ahead.

Time: 7:45 (scheduled start was 7:30 a.m.)
Temp: 75 degrees (90 percent humidity)
Gear: Technical shirt, sleeveless (Brooks), shorts (Brooks), Feetures socks, Newton Gravity V.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Day 3,846: Back on the Silver Comet


DALLAS, Ga. -- I had to replace a geocache I have on the Silver Comet Trail so we headed over with the double stroller.

I don't normally go shirtless but I ended up having to because the only shirt I had on me -- or in the car -- was a cotton T-shirt from the Richmond Children's Hospital Foundation 4-Miler  from September 2013.

In no time that shirt started to get soaked in the 79-degree, humid weather. Normally I'll wear a technical T-shirt on runs but when I do any kind of geocaching that involves woods I don't. That's because sticks easily catch on those kinds of shirts and they end up tearing or being pocked with holes.

We parked at the Rambo Trailhead, had a brief picnic at the tables there and then headed on our way.

Right before we got to our geocache, we had to enter a tunnel that goes under the street above. When we were in it, we heard a mechanical whirring sound from a car -- that's not a good thing to hear when you're in the middle of a tunnel!

I turned around and it was the smart car of the Paulding County Sheriff's Office on patrol! As soon as I exited the tunnel, I pulled aside to let them by. Two officers were crammed in the little car.

It's nice that they continue to patrol this section of trail. I saw one runner, a lady walking her dog and a few cyclists while we were here.

It felt nice to run shirtless, and it really didn't feel too different from when I wear a singlet.

Later on we drove over to the trailhead in Hiram for a short geocache hunt while the kiddos ate Chick-fil-A icedream cones in the stroller. It was a nice outing for everyone involved!

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Day 3,842: 15,000 miles for the streak!


I didn't get too far today, running less than 3 miles when I needed a little less than 8 to put up 15,000 miles for the run streak.

But then, later in the afternoon, I got a second wind. Part of it was it was during the hottest part of the day -- 90 degrees. I knew I was properly heat acclimated and wanted to prove it -- so I set out to do the remaining 4.8 miles I needed.

It was nice. I got sweaty. At about 2.6 miles the Atlanta United sleeveless training jersey I wore started to bead sweat right on my back as it did the first time I wore it. It felt weird the remaining 3.25 miles of the run.

But I did it. I finished near the Active Oval in Piedmont Park, so I trotted up there for a picture.

My daily average has risen to more than 3.9 miles a day since the last time I checked. Will be interesting to see what else is in store.

Time: 2:55 p.m.
Temp: 90 degrees
Gear: sleeveless training jersey (Atlanta United), shorts, Nike RN Free Distance.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Day 3,838: My 13th Peachtree Road Race



The day before my 13th Peachtree Road Race we were greeted with news that the Atlanta Track Club increased the race's alert level to red because of high heat and humidity.

On race morning, it was 72 degrees out. It just seemed like another day for the streak. Still, I decided to wear the lightest singlet I owned, a simple Mizuno top.

Once again, thankfully, my father-in-law drove us race morning up Piedmont Avenue as far as he could go. We got out and the walk was about a mile, making our way up to Peachtree Street and around to the Lenox Square parking lot. I had a lot of trouble getting a warm-up last year because of the crowds and I noticed people doing laps in the parking lot. Since we'd already walked a good distance, I decided to not do a warm-up.

My thought this year was to not try to run at the pace I did two weeks ago at the Possum Trot but one that was a little easier given the weather conditions. So when the race began, I had my sights set on a 7:20/mile pace.

I could feel immediately in my shins that the muscles were not getting loose and I really lamented not doing a warmup. In the first mile you frequently dodge people, even in Group A, and I ran it in 7:27. I continued on and down the course. Mile 2 was 7:20, what I'd expected to run.

I should have known that my running was going to be off today, as I ran Mile 3, which includes the start of the slight hill before Cardiac Hill, in 7:26. In previous years I've run that mile a little faster than miles 1 and 2 because of the steep decline to the base of Peachtree Battle and it's usually the place where people speed up, only to hit the hills.

Going up the hill I focused on a steady pace, my plan to conserve as much energy as I could here to be able to negotiate the double hill that leads up to Mile 5 later on in the race. As I climbed Cardiac Hill, I clapped as we passed the Shepherd Center, as it's always inspiring to see people here in wheelchairs cheering everyone on. My shins finally seemed to unlock but I wasn't really running too fast anymore.

When Mile 4 came I ran it in 7:56, which was not the worst thing in the world but not the best. I pulled out my race straw in the middle of this mile and got a cup of water. (I carried a GU gel that I didn't eat also thinking that I could have used a boost near the end of the Possum Trot).

My plan for Mile 5 felt ok, I just couldn't run very fast. I kept on going and crossed that mile in 8:06. Soon I could see 15th Street and it seemed here we were on top of the very last hill on the course (it actually dips a bit and there is a slight rise to 14th Street).

Here I hoped to run steady for the last mile. I didn't feel like I did last year when it was so warm out that I just wanted to quit the race. I made the turn onto 10th Street and started calculating how much race was left. I really just wanted to truck it in until I saw the Mile 6 sign (I don't know if there actually is one at the end of the course. My Mile 6 was 7:27).

Finally the downhill came and I put myself right behind a taller guy and we trucked it in to the end (my watch says I ran the last .32 miles of the race at a 6:31/mile pace). I finished in 47:45, my third fastest Peachtree I've run but kind of a shock when you've run 45:26 a few weeks earlier.

I hadn't trained for this race, especially this year when it fell right between the half marathon I ran at the end of May and a new training block that will start soon for some fall races. But I was still a little disappointed, as I thought I was properly acclimated to the heat and maybe I still had a little bit of the pace I ran the Possum Trot in.

I've also had trouble with multi-block hills since the start of the year in many races. I'm not sure what I will immediately do to remedy this but this somehow has lit a fire under me. It's only taken me 13 races, but I plan to be ready for the 14th.

Maybe. Depending on what else I'll be running for next year.

Time: 7:30 a.m.
Temp: 72 degrees
Gear: Singlet (Mizuno, blue), shorts (Brooks), cep compression socks, Newton Gravity V.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Day 3,832: Brooks Endorsed!


 My "endorsement" contract from Brooks Running came in the mail today, just as I was considering retiring their now-discontinued Pure Connect 4s from my shoe rotation.

Last month, the company, in what I think was a brilliant ad campaign, allowed runners to "sign-on" with them. Runners would get access to a tip website at www.brooksathlete.com and ... wait for it ... a check for $1.

"While running, you have the right to yell at the top of your (very healthy) lungs, "I'm getting paid to do this!" as you pass pedestrians and other runners," the contract says. "They don't have to know it's just a dollar."

I signed up, but I didn't even think I'd get the check -- the tiny print said they would mail out a max of 20,000 checks in the United States -- and my runner endorsement number was in the 25,000s.

The check comes with the "contract" as seen above, and a code of conduct, that includes lighthearted expected athlete behavior, running do's and don'ts and unacceptable behavior.

Some of the points are well taken, including making sure to "think twice, speak once," and "Yes, you have the right-of-way, but you're always going to lose a fight with a car."

All of it is in good spirit, as they say they've "made it as easy as possible to abide by our expectations, thereby giving you no excuse not to have a fantastic run every time you lace up."

So maybe those Pure Connects can stay in my overflowing shoe bin for a little while longer, even though I think they are hard on my feet during runs. It's the least I could do being #BrooksEndorsed.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Peachtree Road Race relaxes time standards


After making it tougher last year to get into the top waves, the Peachtree Road Race this year has eased back on time standards.

This year, a 10K time of 45:32 or a 5K time of 21:57 is needed to get into the first group called Wave A. Last year, you had to have a respective time of 45:23 or 21:52 to get into that wave. In 2015, the Wave A standard was 47:39 for a 10K and 22:58 for a 5K.

The time standards can be seen here.

Similarly, the Atlanta Track Club eased their Wave B standards by 38 seconds for a 10K, so you don't have to break 50 minutes for that wave. For a 5K, you can get in that wave with a time of 24:16, as opposed to 23:58 last year.

For the last several years, the track club's time standards have shifted yearly, presumably because of varying numbers of applicants for each start wave and to make sure each wave is properly filled and not too crowded.

Because the official standards are released a few months after the deadline to register has taken place, runners do not always know if the race times they submit will qualify them for a particular starting wave as those times may have in the past.

Without knowing the time standard for this year, I would have thought my 45:25 in Saturday's Possum Trot 10K would not have qualified me for Wave A according to the 2016 standards but it would have squeaked in by seven seconds this year!

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Day 3,821: Possum Trot 10K

Map of the Possum Trot 10K course.
ROSWELL, Ga. -- I waited until the last minute to decide to run in the Possum Trot 10K this year, and was extremely glad I did. I'd wanted to run in the race that helps the Chattahoochee Nature Center for years now but just never was able to fit it in my schedule.

This year, however, the weather looked good (I wouldn't have signed up for it if rain had been in the forecast for race day).

My main reason was to see how realistic it would be for me to try to run a 7:17/mile pace for a longer run, including for the 10-mile and half marathon distance. For this race, my goal was to try to run at a 7:15/mile pace to see if I could break 45 minutes for the 10K. (My PR is 45:17 from the 2016 Charles Harris Run).

I left at 6:04 a.m. or so to get up to the race. I arrived after 6:30 a.m. and the overflow lot at a nearby church was nearly completely full. Luckily there were a few spots left (and after I parked no one else filled the spaces).

It was about a mile run to the start line, something that was perfect for my pre-race, pre-workout routine. When I got to the starting line I probably had five minutes until the race started. At this point with the humidity, my singlet already was sweaty.

The night before the race, I found an old race recap online from 2013. Of specific interest to me were the noting of hills just before the turnaround that leads to Mile 3, then a rise after Mile 4.5 and then a hilly last mile.

When the race started, I tried to keep my pace at 7:15, even with a slight hill in the first mile. It didn't seem too bad but I ended up a little faster for my split (7:11). The race continued down Azalea Drive and Mile 2 was similar (7:12).

Right around the turnaround before Roswell Road I passed a guy in a yellow singlet with a bald spot in the back of his head. The incline here did not seem to be too significant so I was happy about that.

After Mile 3 (7:10) a guy wearing a bright yellow Big Peach singlet passed me. He seemed to be trucking along and I was following along pretty well even though he was well ahead of me. It seemed like this is the kind of situation that normally helps me in a race, having a faster runner to focus on.

At the same time, I felt like I was struggling a little bit with my pace although when I looked at my watch it was pretty much locked on 7:15. Mile 4 was 7:16.

I felt like I just wanted to hold on and Mile 5 was 7:11. After this, there is the hill that was noted in the 2013 account. Here the author had some difficulty and for whatever reason, I was, too. The hill seemed very long and I was only able to run at an 8:00/mile pace. The guy with the bald spot passed me here and I felt like my chance to make my age group was dwindling with him doing so.

At about 5.5 miles or so there is the turnaround. It felt like a lot of work to be running and I was doing my best to keep running. When Mile 6 came I just wanted to finish. I ran this in 7:44.

Somewhere around this point, a middle aged female runner started to pass me and she said something like "Nice job" and I made a friendly reply. It was a little awkward since I knew I would be kicking soon. I did, passing her, and finished the last .28 miles at a 5:45/mile pace. I had been expecting this finish to be a little uphill but it looked like this section was entirely downhill! Something to remember for the future.

I finished in 45:25, which is my second fastest 10K. I guess I need to look into my endurance and doing hill repeats but I'm pretty confident I would have broken 45 minutes without that last hill that gave me pause. When I looked at the elevation profiles on my Garmin data, the hill barely registers anything!

I skipped getting water at the last aid station after Mile 4, which may have been a mistake and I wonder if taking a GU gel would have helped me in the latter part of the race.

I felt like the race was a good tune-up for what will likely be an equally hot and humid Peachtree Road Race on July 4. I was happy that I was able to run five miles at or under the 7:15/mile pace although I would honestly say only three of those miles were cleanly run at that pace. I'll probably start my tempo runs at three miles and work my way up from there.

After the race I walked the half-mile from the nature center back to my car, changed out of my completely soaked singlet and put on a dry shirt, some more cushiony running shoes (Hoka Hoka One Clifton 3s) and drank some nuun. I walked back to the nature center pavilion in the unlikely event I might have placed but they announced my age group right when I walked up.

The three guys who placed all ran in the 42-43 minute range so me and the guy who passed me were fighting for 6th place! You never know, however, as third place in my age group last year ran a 45:24.

After that it was nice to run into Frank from Running for the second half of my life. It was a nice way to catch up and celebrate the running of a nice race.

Time: 7:04 a.m.
Temp: 68 degrees
Gear: Singlet (Saucony), shorts, cep compression socks, Newton Gravity V.

Monday, June 12, 2017

25 percent Nuun discount!


The Nuun hydration friends and family discount is back! 25 percent off at nuunlife.com until June 23!

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Day 3,814: Braves Country 5K

This was not the course initially shown on the Atlanta Track Club site.
Although I skipped the final year the Braves Country 5K was held at Turner Field last year, I knew I wanted to do the first iteration of this race at the new SunTrust Park.

At the same time, I was a little apprehensive of the race, knowing that it would likely be hilly since course looked like it overlapped the Michelob ULTRA 13.1 atlanta half marathon route that I ran in 2015.

So I decided I would just do this one as a fun run and not worry about the time so much. Last month I'd planned to leave my Saucony Type A6 racing flats at home (to save on wear from meaningless races) and I decided to wear my Brooks Pure Connect 4s, which I haven't worn in a long time. (Even during the prerace warmup, I felt like the shoes were causing my heels to be sore but in the race these shoes were very comfortable and there was very little contact with the heels).

A few days before the race, I printed out the course map. But it turned out this was not the right course map! The map had the race starting in the battery and making its way down to Cobb Parkway before going up Circle 75 Parkway and out to Windy Ridge Road.

Then it would turn on Interstate North Circle and Interstate North Parkway before going back to Windy Ridge Road. I drove this route and then walked and ran the last half mile or so as a warmup.

So imagine my surprise when the race started and went in the other direction, directly over Windy Ridge Road and then out as far as Powers Ferry! It wasn't that big of a deal, since I knew that the race would have to come back to the stadium. I decided to hold back a lot in the first mile and I ran that in 7:03.

The first big hill was at mile 1.38, a short but steep incline of 67 feet. The rest of the way is not too bad but on the elevation profile it looks pretty rolling. I ran Mile 2 in 7:19. The next, and worst hill, is back over Windy Hill Ridge over the interstate at about 2.3 miles. It rises from about 864 feet to 1,004 feet over .6 miles.

In the middle of the hill, I was running at an 8:30/mile pace, similar to what I did in the huge hill at nearby Akers Mill (157' rise over .5 miles) over the interstate during the April racetrac Run for Research 5K.

After that it was downhill all the way to the stadium where you enter and then run on the warning track that separates the ball field's grass from the wall and seating area to the finish. My third mile was at 7:30 and I ran the last .13 miles at a 5:29/mile pace, although I could tell my shoes were not optimal for the crushed gravel of the warning track.

I was happy with my time, it wasn't great but I knew it wouldn't be a PR since I am only a few weeks out from running in a half marathon.

PARKING; Before the race they warned people to come early because parking was limited to the Red deck. But when I went to packet pickup on Friday I was given a slip of paper that said as a thank you for getting your bib and T-shirt early, you could park in the Delta deck, which is separate from the Red deck (and not advertised as a parking option).

I left home at 6:14 a.m. and when I got to Circle 75 parkway about 15 minutes later, there was a long line going to the Red deck. But virtually no line when I drove by the Delta deck. That gave me the confidence to drive the (wrong) race route and then come back and park in the Delta deck.

The only problem with this convenient deck was when it was time to leave. The police and volunteers did not know what to do with cars exiting the Delta deck and we waited for a bunch of walkers to make their way on Circle 75 before officials opened up a lane of traffic that already was blocked off to the walkers. It made for a slight delay but a pretty minimal one.

Time: 7:34 a.m.
Temp: 63 degrees
Gear: Technical T-shirt, short (Team BEEF), shorts (Mizuno), cep compression socks, Brooks Pure Connect 4.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Day 3,811: RnR Savannah Half Marathon sale

It's hard to beat a great deal for a half marathon.
This morning when I opened my email I saw the Rock'n'Roll race series was throwing a huge sale on their race slate for Global Running Day.

The international lineup includes a race in Georgia I've wanted to run in for a long time, the Nov. 4 Rock'n'Roll Savannah Half Marathon.

The limited offer price is $50.99, for a $35 savings. (A steep online registration fee of $9.99 also applies, putting the price slightly above $60).

But still, it's a decent price for a half marathon. I paid $113 (base $109) for last month's Boston's Run to Remember half marathon.

So it's definitely something to think about!