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 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 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!