Sunday, July 4, 2021

Day 5,268: My 17th Peachtree Road Race (PR)


It's been more than 15 months since my last in-person race and since I've updated this blog. But my 17th Peachtree Road Race happened today and so I have to write about it!

The last 15 months I've run in countless races, many of them I was pleased to be a part of, including my 16th Peachtree which was virtual (I ran it at Jekyll Island). In the last few months, however, I found it difficult to get motivated for those races and even thought or wondered if I would have coaxed myself to run faster if there were other people around.

For this year's race you could choose Saturday July 3 or today. I chose today since July 4th is the traditional day of the race. While I expected everything to be the same, it wasn't! I would have missed my start time if it wasn't for the wife who read an elite runner's post that said she would be there at 6:20 a.m.

While the elite women's race starts before the elite men and the rest of the field, I was expecting to show up for a 7 a.m. race. It turned out my race started a half hour earlier at 6:30! Anyway, this meant I had to change a little bit of my morning wake up and drop off routine.

These days I usually like to wake up an hour before heading out for my regular workouts/virtual races. This gives me enough time to get ready. So I woke up at 4:30 a.m. and then around 5 a.m. I got on the treadmill and ran very easy for five minutes. I've found the muscles in my left leg are pretty tight around my knee and I can feel it if I run cold so I usually like to run very slowly at first and after about five minutes I am good to go.

By 5:20 a.m. we were in the car and I was headed to the drop off on Piedmont Avenue. Only this time the police blocked off the road a block earlier than the usual drop off at the Atlanta Bread Company at East Paces Ferry. No problem, I got out and then walked the extra block. There were a lot fewer people out and it seemed on our way there lots of non-runners crowding restaurants, etc. 

From the drop off it's about a mile to the corrals. This time around I decided to wear a pair of running shoes that I would leave at the start and carried a brand-new pair of Nike Vaporfly Next% racing shoes. I casually made my way up Piedmont Avenue with the shoes in tow. Two guys ran past me, one of them noticed and said, "Nice shoes."

When I got up to Peachtree Street I saw three members of the Atlanta Track Club's female elite runners doing a warmup jog. It was like 40 minutes before their race started and I wondered why they would warm up so early since a lot of stuff I read said it's not helpful unless you do it right before you start running. 

Then I passed a young guy throwing up in the bushes. And then, the sound of extremely fast light feet running up on me from behind. The woman stopped a few feet in front of me on the street (I was on the sidewalk) and it occurred to me that this might be Sara Hall, who as announcers later said, holds the distinction for being the second fastest female marathoner in American history. I hadn't heard anything about Sara Hall running in this race, though, so I wondered if it was someone else. I could tell though that the woman's shoes were Hall's sponsor, Asics. In any event, the woman then sped up and ran off. When I got to the corral they announced her first in the women's field.

I made my way around and through Lenox Square and turned up Lenox where you would typically turn to make your way to the start and the corrals. But this was blocked off. We had to walk several blocks more, to Wieuca Road and the Container Store where they had a junction for vaccinated people and those who weren't and had to be screened. I made my way up to Peachtree Street finally and then walked right through Corrals D-B until I finally made it to A. It was 6:20, an hour after I left home! My stomach was growling since I had only eaten a quarter of a Picky Bar (I usually eat an entire bar before a workout). It forced me to consume prior to the race the gel that I brought.

Here I changed my shoes and left my old shoes in the mulched median of the road. I was able to do a few strides before the race started. It wasn't very crowded although I was still near the back of the corral. In years past I would have made my way up but this year I didn't want to crowd anyone so I didn't. And maybe that was a mistake?


The race started and I could tell right away that something was wrong with my watch. It said we were running at a 10-minute mile pace. I know I started in the back of the corral but could this be right? I was near a trio of young guys who had one letter each of "USA" painted on their backs and they ran in formation. I felt like I would try to stay behind them and certainly they wouldn't be running at a 10-minute mile pace? The first mile beeped and I could see that I ran it in 7:06.

Confused, I made my way through the next two downhill miles in 7:03 and 7:02. I tried to estimate my pace based on the numbers that appeared to me on my watch and I really didn't know. When the hills started after Mile 3 I did my best to try to take it easy yet still keep a decent pace. Mile 4 beeped and when I saw 7:43 I wondered if I ran it too slow. Still I couldn't really run any faster and I made my way up the second set of hills to Mile 5 (7:29).

I crested the hill at 14th Street and tried to work myself into a decent pace, thinking I would try to run faster after the turn on 10th Street. When Mile 6 arrived, my watch beeped 7:08 and I wasn't really able to determine whether I would be breaking 45 minutes today. I kept on pressing but not kicking, passing up the crosswalk light at my old apartment, then the next crosswalk at the Yoshino Cherry pokestop where I kicked during my PR in 2019.

Not too long after a young guy in his 20s started to kick and I decided to just go with him. He got about three seconds on me to the finish and I hoped it was enough. I finished in 45:09, besting my PR from the last time I ran the Peachtree in 2019 by two seconds. I covered the last .27 miles in 1:38 at a 5:54 pace.

This time around I carried a small bottle with Nuun in it thinking I might need to drink during the race. I didn't but it was helpful afterward when I guzzled the entire bottle. The weather was exceptional (64 degrees via my phone, 61 degrees reported by my watch) and my fitness seemed ok, especially tied with the extremely comfortable Vaporflys. The one thing that still sticks out in my mind is my erratic footpod-derived pace reporting. Every race you tweak some part of your plan to get better, whether that's more mileage, speedwork or at-home exercises. This time it looks like I'll be trying to fix my watch.

Saturday, March 7, 2020

Day 4,814: Snickers Half Marathon (or, I'll do it for the shirt!)

So two half marathons in 7 days? Well, I liked the shirt!
ALBANY, Ga. -- If last week's Publix Atlanta Half Marathon wasn't on my radar, this race certainly wasn't -- it's difficult for me to break free for a Friday expo and a Saturday race.

Then they released the reveal for this year's race shirts and I was hooked. This year's color was black and I really loved the all-black look of the half marathon shirt.

So just 16 days before the race, I signed up.

In my mind, I was always going to take it easy on this one, what with the Publix half just six days before and especially knowing I would really have to run in that one to keep up with Silver medalist Meb.

But after running 1:39:49 in that race, I wanted to test out what it would be like to run this one entirely on power. I also knew that I've run a few times similar performances just a week after running in a previous race.

There was also a little peer pressure, as my friend Anna, who picked up my race packet, told me her friend Jessica was running in the half. "I told her to look for you, since you've run 1:39," she said. "So you may have a blonde chasing you!"

I left Atlanta much later than I did two years ago when I ran in this marathon and got my 3:40 PR, which still stands today. One benefit of leaving at 6:30 p.m. was that a lot of the traffic had left. But that meant much of the drive was in the dark, which turned out to be not so bad.

I ended up getting to my hotel room at 10 p.m. and ate a bowl of leftover spaghetti I brought with me. As I ate it, I thought it might not be a great idea since I'd be getting up at 4:30 a.m. but I ate it anyway.

When I got up, I ate a serving-size bowl of Picky Oats' "Can't Beet Chocolate" and made my way to the Albany Civic Center where the race was to start. Because of recent heavy rain part of the parking lot was a lake. Still there was enough parking and I had about an hour to kill. I stayed in my car until 20 minutes before the race started, went to a portapotty and then did a .6/mile warmup around the parking lot.

Unlike six days ago in Atlanta, it was fairly warm -- 38 degrees. So I didn't even need to use the throwaway painters jacket I received at the end of the Publix race. I just left everything I didn't need in the car and then went to the start line. The announcer had everyone sing the National Anthem -- I don't think I've ever experienced this in the probably 175 races I've done in my life -- and just like that the race started.

My goal for the race was to run at about 250 watts and this meant I had to slow a little on the first turn out of the civic center on Oglethorpe Boulevard. It also meant that I was chasing a small pack of people who were running way faster than I was, including Anna's friend Jessica. I paid that no mind and made sure that I kept my wattage in check on this first long hill. Mile 1 = 7:35.

As we ran the next few miles (Mile 2 7:29, Mile 3 7:22), I found myself still maybe 30 seconds behind Jessica's pack and way ahead of anybody else. I thought it would be prudent if I kept this lead pack in sight at least and let my power increase a little. Mile 4 = 7:12.

Just before Mile 4 we turned northward into the neighborhoods that would bisect the marathon route. During this time I could feel my left hamstring, it wasn't pain but it was definitely tight and I wouldn't have been surprised if I ended up pulling it and causing my half marathon effort to be done. But I decided to push ahead, especially when I realized I had caught up to this small group and had passed them.

I knew this northerly push would last to about Mile 7, where the route would push southeast toward the finish. About a half mile after Mile 5 (7:26) we turned on Dawson Road and this taller gray haired man passed me. He was running at too great of a clip for me to even consider catching up with him and I let him go. I was still a little worried about my hamstring but my effort felt pretty decent given my wattage goal and I just wanted to get to Mile 7 and assess how I was doing.

At Mile 6 (7:18) I took the first of my Salt Stick chewables. I reached Mile 7 in decent shape (7:20) and, having seen my split times to now, was really thinking if I just took it easy and didn't do anything rash I would have a PR on my hands. So that fed my thinking the next few miles (Mile 8 7:12, Mile 9 7:27).

At Mile 9 I reached in my waist belt and pulled out a caffeinated Spring gel. In the Publix race I didn't take any gels and I thought I really suffered the last few miles. So out came a gel and at Mile 10 (7:23) I started to get fairly excited. The second half of the course puts you through neighborhoods which are filled with turns and rolling hills. At times it felt disorienting, running at a fast pace and turning all the time. I took a second chewable at Mile 10 and noted my 10-mile split was maybe a minute above my 1:14:52 PR.

Mile 11 (7:17) flew by but just before Mile 12 (7:27) I felt a slight twinge in my right calf. This basically continued every quarter of a mile until the finish. I knew at Mile 13 (7:29) I was maybe three tenths of a mile off of what my watch said I had done and the official race distance, but I still hoped for the best.

I made the final turn for the finish and could see ... 1:39. I was a little deflated as I thought my splits had set me up for a massive PR and I worked to finish as quickly as I could, finishing in 1:39:27. My GPS said I'd run 13.5 miles (the last bit at a 6:59/mile pace) and my Strava also said I'd run nearly as far, 13.49 miles.

I'm not sure of the discrepancy, since the course was fairly compact given it was on small neighborhood roads and I'd even tried to run the tangents after passing the small pack in front of me at Mile 4 and definitely as I chased the older gentleman who passed me at Mile 5.5. The race was altered from its original course because of the flooding but since the marathon is a popular BQ race they made sure the alteration was recertified well before race day.

Jessica came running in 40 seconds behind me and I gave her a big high five at the finish. I'd thought she was the next finisher after me but it turned out two men finished in between. I received my race medal and a foil space blanket, which was helpful.

I wasn't sure if I'd placed or not so I waited around, my muscles getting pretty tight in the process. Finally there was a big line in front of the award table, so I waited my turn in line and meekly said, "I'm embarrassed to say I'm 49 and I'm not sure if I placed?"

But it turned out I did, good enough for second place in my age group. I might have placed anyway even if I had trouble or took it easier since third place was 1:47. I received a nice black fleece pullover with the race logo on it. I was happy for this as I immediately put it on and made the walk back to the parking lot. I made a mental note that if I ever ran this race again I'd park in the spaces in front of the civic center instead of behind, just a little farther to go.

Still, I was more than pleased having just run my second fastest half marathon (and two 1:39 halfs in 7 days) and being inspired for even better results in the future. It was such a well put-together race and one I guess I'll be happy having done for a while since now races for the time being have been canceled.

Time: 7 a.m.
Temp: 38 degrees
Gear: Technical T-shirt, short (Team BEEF), shorts, cep compression calf sleeves, Nike Zoom Vaporfly Flyknit 4%/B.

Sunday, March 1, 2020

Day 4,808: Running with Meb aka Publix Atlanta Half Marathon

Running with Meb! Following the 1:40 pace group through Virginia-Highland. Note my Group B bib among the sea of A's.
Don't stop, get it, get it/Peep how your captain's in it/Steady, watch me navigate, ha ha ha ha ha! - "Feel Good Inc.," Gorillaz

This race wasn't on my radar. I mean, I had a great time running sub-1:45 last year because I loved the race shirt but this year, not really.

That was until I learned I could volunteer for the February 29 Olympic Trials Marathon. The one condition was that you either had to volunteer for the March 1 Publix Atlanta Half Marathon or Marathon or -- you could run in the race.

So I decided on the latter. I didn't really devote any extra training in it as it's in the middle of my training cycle for the April 4 Cherry Blossom Ten-Miler in Washington, D.C. And I really hadn't thought much about the Publix half -- I even thought about switching to the 5K.

That was before I learned Olympic silver medalist Meb Keflezighi was going to lead the 1:40 pace group! The best I'd ever done on this course was 1:42:40 but I thought I still could do it. There was one problem, however ... I would be in the wrong corral from the 1:40 group.

On race morning I arrived downtown at about 5:50 a.m., an hour before the race started. Despite my problems finding street parking the last few years I actually found a few spaces where I have parked in the past. So I parked there and put on the free painter's jacket they give you at the end of races and a space blanket -- it was 32 degrees and pretty chilly but the space blanket made the difference.

I arrived and no one was in any of the corrals. So I couldn't determine where the 1:40 pace group would be. My corral was B and there was a 10-minute difference in start times, making it impossible for me to start in B and even reach this pace group if it was in A.

About 30 minutes before the start I decided to go into the Omni to try to use the bathroom but unlike years past this time there was a long line. So I left the hotel and walked across to try to use the portapotties in the race village. Still long lines there too.

That was when I saw two guys holding 1:40 pace group signs. I disregarded them at first but then made a beeline over to them when I saw that other portapotties were just as crowded. They and a female runner were headed directly for Corral A, where there was a line of bib checkers. I tucked in with them and still had my painter's jacket covering my bib -- and walked right in.

So I parked myself right behind their sign and waited for the race to start. It got wall-to-wall crowded in minutes and then Meb made his way to the pace group. He was signing people's bibs and taking selfies.

In no time the race started and we were off. I followed directly behind one of the pacers and the first mile was actually quite off the 7:40/mile pace we needed for a 1:40 half. There was even a guy who asked the pacer, who confirmed they would be speeding up.

The first three miles seemed difficult for me and at times I was 10 to 20 seconds behind Meb and the pace group. Lots of people chatted him up and took selfies but I felt like my business was trying to stick with this 1:40 group. The official time says I hit 5K at 24:19 for a 7:49/mile pace.

The next few miles we sped up a little bit -- my 10K split was at a 7:42/mile pace. Since the last time I tried to run a half really fast I ended up with calf cramps, I made sure to consume a salt stick chewable tablet at Mile 6. I'd never tried one before and they reminded me of a Sweet Tart.

At this point I was running right behind Meb as we went up Freedom Parkway toward North Highland Avenue. I wasn't real close but it reminded me of how he didn't like Galen Rupp drafting off of him in the 2016 Olympic Trials Marathon in Los Angeles. Just as I was thinking this, he put in a quick surge and instantly was about 15-20 feet in front of me!

As we rounded Freedom Parkway toward North Avenue I started to lose the pack again and I knew that once we ended up on North Highland Avenue the pacers and Meb would be speeding up again. Because of the cold I wore two technical T-shirts and really regretted this although there was no way I could take one off at this point. I was running at 7:10/mile pace for Miles 7 and 8. (I had just a sip of water at Mile 7 and my second and final salt chewie at Mile 8). I saw my friend Josh in front of Limerick Junction, which gave me a pick-me-up.

I didn't see my family across from John Howell Park like I did last year so I stashed my Headsweats visor and a pair of (now really sweaty) arm sleeves off on a stone wall at Inman Middle School (it was still there a few hours later after we came back from brunch). I had been about 7 seconds behind Meb and I figured if my family saw me I would be behind the pack, nothing that I could do about it.

I slowed a little when I turned on Park Avenue but caught up with the pack, which inexplicably slowed down when I saw a woman on the sidewalk who I thought was my wife. It wasn't her but my wife was actually just the next block over! At this point I was actually running alongside Meb and the only thing I could say was to yell out, "Meb, that's my wife!" and pointed while she took pictures. He was extremely gracious and gave us all smiles for the picture above. I thanked him and then made my way ahead of the pace group into Piedmont Park.

I'd been mentally preparing myself for this point. In this race, to me at least, it doesn't start until you exit the park -- here you have the long incline along 10th Street and the rolling hills of Juniper Avenue. I took my time but was starting to get passed by the pacers. I was even more behind on Juniper but there was nothing I could do. I kept trucking along and the great energy I had last year for these hills were gone, at least in my mind. I ran 7:40/mile for Mile 10 and 7:29/mile for Mile 11.

I knew there were two more giant hills left -- the one alongside Bobby Dodd Stadium on North Avenue and then the one on Techwood Drive. I ran my slowest mile here since Mile 1, a 7:55 for Mile 12.

As soon as I passed Mile 12, I reset my lap counter so it would measure the last mile. The two slight inclines here were pretty monstrous to me and maybe a dozen people passed me here. Nothing I could do about it although I ran 7:40 at this point. In the last tenth of a mile I was speeding up but before I could turn the corner into the park and the Finish I could hear the announcer say, "Only 100m to go for Meb!"

When I made the last straightaway I tucked in behind a young woman and put my head down and focused on my final kick. Since I accidentally started my watch about a minute after the race started I didn't have a good idea of the final seconds of the race. All I could see was the race clock saying 1:40 and counting. I figured there wasn't too much difference in my time and the clock time since I started in Group A and I told myself if I couldn't break 1:40 at least I could try the best I could to finish under 1:41.

Meb and the 1:40 pacers finished 12 seconds ahead of me. As soon as I crossed the line I jumped in with a big crowd surrounding Meb for a group picture. Then as I walked away, my wife texted me with my final time: 1:39:49, which is my second fastest half marathon time and just bonkers for me since the course is so hilly.

So this race ended up being really rewarding -- I never thought I'd break 1:40 here but it took a special day and a celebrity to do it.

Time: 6:55 a.m.
Temp: 36 degrees
Gear: Technical T-shirt, short x2 (Chicago Marathon 2019, Team Beef Georgia), shorts, cep compression sleeves, Nike Zoom Vaporfly 4 percent Flyknit/B.

Sunday, February 2, 2020

Day 4,781: Hot Chocolate 5K

It turned out this race was over for me before it began! I planned everything pretty well, I thought, until I took a slightly longer than usual warmup before the race start and found myself outside a crowded corral with two minutes before the race started, giving me little hope of a fast start that is crucial for a good 5K time.

In that moment I decided to wait with a bunch of people outside the corral and only was able to get in after the gun went off, maybe getting to the starting line about 45 seconds after. When I started running I was stuck behind the 9:30 minute/mile pacers for the 15K. I decided to just run when I could and just enjoy the race.

I finished the race in 23:04, losing about a minute in the congested first mile (the 5K and 15K racers share the road until the 5K split at about 1K into the race). My splits were 7:51/7:12/7:07 This actually could be a positive in that I need to make sure I get into the corral early when I am running in the Publix Georgia Half Marathon next month.

Here's some notes just for my own planning purposes in the future:

Getting There: Free street parking is really scarce downtown now. I drove around a bit and finally found a space on John Wesley Dobbs close to I-75/85. Gonna have to plan better for this next time.

Prerace: I walked up to the empty corral at 7 a.m., about 30 minutes before the race started. Since it was cold out I decided to walk toward Centennial Olympic Park and the portapotty lines when I remembered before last year's Publix half I went to the Omni for the restrooms and to shelter from the cold. This year I stayed in the lobby until 15 minutes before the race when I did my warmup.

Warmup: I wanted to see the last couple hundred meters before the finish but it meant running 1.08 miles, a little more than I would usually for a warmup. It was valuable to see this downhill finish but this got me to the corral just two minutes before race start and that meant having to wait in a line outside the crowded corral.

Gear: It was cold out (36 degrees at race start) but I wore too many layers for the race. I wore a Mizuno Breath Thermo layer under a technical T-shirt. Over that I had a throwaway long-sleeved technical T-shirt. But after Mile 2 I really wished I'd just worn the short sleeved tech shirt and obviously couldn't discard the under layer in the middle of the race.

Course: It is a little hilly, it had some screaming downhill but a half-mile incline that included a huge hill overpass with a half mile left in the race.

Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Day 4,748: The runstreak is now 13 years!

A short 2-mile run today closed out 13 years of the runstreak! I ended up with 2,130.11 miles for the year, the most I've ever run for that time period (I ran 2,104.33 miles in 2014).

All in all, it was a pretty good year. I focused much of my training on two marathons (Revel Mt. Charleston and the Chicago Marathon) but was happy that my times in shorter distances were good, including an unexpected PR in the Peachtree Road Race.

I'm hoping to work on my half marathon PR (1:39:14) this year and am training specifically for a PR in the April Cherry Blossom Ten Miler (1:14:52). I got into the Chicago Marathon for next year and that will be my 11th marathon.

I hope everyone has a Happy New Year and a great 2020!

Sunday, December 15, 2019

Day 4,732: First Watch Kennesaw Locomotive 5K

KENNESAW, Ga. -- After a few 5K races under my running shoes I had my eyes on one last one for the year, the First Watch Kennesaw Locomotive 5K. My wife and I had been to the race sponsor's breakfast/brunch restaurant recently and I wanted to see if I could win a gift card promised to age group winners.

This race is held the same weekend as the Jeff Galloway half marathon and 5K. I decided that after running in the Chicago Marathon in October, I would never be properly trained to run a December half marathon. I could have run in the Barb's 5K scheduled on Dec. 14 but my wife already was signed up to do another 5K. So in order to keep my "streaker" status for the Galloway race series I decided to run a virtual 5K so I could show up to this one.

Nine years ago I ran in the Kennesaw Locomotive Half Marathon, back when the race was held in September. At the time I was gearing up for my first Chicago Marathon. I didn't remember really any of the race route although there is some overlap.

I was happy to know however that the race overlapped a good bit of the Summer Steamer 10K that I ran in June. It was helpful to know exactly where to park and how long it would take for me to trek out to the suburbs for this race.

Instead of starting in the parking lot as in the Steamer, the 5K started directly on Vaughn Road, then turned down Cobb Place Boulevard NW before the hill at Auto Park Drive NW. Because I was following my power data, I let a huge group of people run ahead. Right before the turn I realized that I had not turned on my Garmin watch at all -- it was just showing my live power data. So with about a half mile in the race, my watch was finally on.

Running up Auto Park Drive I passed a man who was probably my age or so. I just kept going steadily up the hill, remembering how hard it was for me to run this section twice in the June 10K at a 7:15/mile pace.

The 5K turns southeast on Roberts Boulevard instead of going the opposite way in the Summer Steamer and I was greeted with another hill leading to Cobb Place Drive. At this point there was a boy ahead of me. I was running steadily but when he sensed I was close he would surge ahead. I didn't try to keep up with him since my experience with this (as recent as the previous weeks' race) is that surges in a 5K only serve to wear down the surger. I fully expected to overtake him at some point.

After Cobb Place we turned back on Cobb Place Boulevard toward Roberts Boulevard again. I ended up passing the boy on the descent and made my way through the Vaughn Road intersection to the turn-around point on Roberts maybe three-tenths of the way down the road. There was a clock at the turnaround and it said something like 17 minutes and change and it made me worry that I was going to run this race slower than 22 minutes.

When I reached the turnaround I saw that I was all alone in the race. The boy was not anywhere behind me -- when I turned on Vaughn Road to the finish I saw that he was only halfway to the turnaround -- and the lead pack was nowhere in sight. Tactically it was an interesting situation since I still had a bunch of running to do but really not the kind of running you would do if someone was close ahead/with or behind you. So I just plugged on. I tried to tell myself that the boy was about to pass me as I neared the finish (I finished almost a minute ahead of him).

I crossed the finish with a gun time of 21:51, on par with my last two other 5Ks. I was pleased with it but very unsure whether I had won my age group. I waited around for the awards and lo and behold I won my age group! There was a man in my age group who ran faster than me but he was the overall winner or the masters winner. I was seventh overall in the race.

During the wait for the awards I took a short stroll down the Noonday Creek Trail for a geocache -- this is part of the Summer Steamer course. I returned to the parking lot staging area and wasn't initially hungry but later decided to eat the very delicious pancake and chicken or turkey sausage First Watch provided for runners.

Because I started my watch late I only had partial data to work with after the race. My Garmin said I ran the first .4 mile at a 7:11/mile pace, then ran a full mile in 6:55 and the next mile in 6:48 before finishing the last .15 mile at a 6:27 equivalent pace. It was nice to win my age group but disconcerting that guys in my age group can run about an entire minute faster than me. Definitely more work for me in the future and this is as nice of a 5K I could hope to find in the area!

Time: 8:03 a.m.
Temp: 39 degrees
Gear: Technical T-shirt, short (Nike), shorts, Nike Vaporfly 4% Flyknit/B.

Running to the finish! (Photo by

Saturday, December 7, 2019

Day 4,724: Atlanta Running Festival 5K, my third Masters win

I signed up for this race about 10 hours before it started and it turned out to be my third Masters win!
I wasn't sure I was going to run in this race -- I ran a 5K a week the last two weeks and would another race in the park do anything for me? Still, I was buoyed by last week's 21:53 in the Leftover 5Ks event and wondering if my Stryd-paced footpod would come in handy again.

In the end I decided to register for the Atlanta Running Festival 5K the night before and I made sure that I got out to the park a little before sunrise so I could take advantage of street parking. I walked my way over to the registration table and got my bib and shirt (I felt a little guilty getting a shirt because of my very late registration) and returned to the car. It was only about 48 degrees out but it felt cold. Cold enough that when I started my warmup I debated running the race in my Under Armour running jacket that I was wearing.

Luckily after that mile I warmed up and ditched the coat in my car. It was really convenient to be able to change shoes from trainers to racing shoes and even, about an hour before the race, driving home to use the bathroom instead of a porta-potty. When I returned some minutes later, my parking space was still available!

When I got to the starting area, I grimaced, since the one guy who looked like he would win the whole race (and he did), wearing one of those Tracksmith sash tanks, also was wearing the exact same white Nike Vaporfly 4% Flyknit as I was wearing. I'm pretty sure we were the only ones wearing Vaporflys to this event. I debated wearing other shoes but after last week's great run I decided to see how the shoe would run in this race.

When the race started, I made sure that my wattage was under 300 and I pretty much kept it this way.. We made our way around the Active Oval and during this time I caught up with a younger African-American guy. He kept surging to stay in front of me and at times I would drop back, especially up the hill on the Active Oval, to keep my wattage down. I wondered if the entire race would be this way, with this guy pacing me. Eventually after Mile 1 and before the turn into The Meadow, I dropped him.

In past races without the footpod I would run way too fast around the Active Oval and then get dropped by people in the Meadow, only to have my slowest mile be Mile 3. This time I was passing people, but carefully and once I made my way back out of The Meadow, I caught up with a guy in a Georgia shirt. We basically ran step by step the rest of the way back to the Active Oval where we had to loop back around it toward the start.

Here I started to disregard my wattage up and back down the hill around the oval. Once we made the turn along Lake Clara Meer, I started to pick it up a little bit, waiting for the last turn as I did in last December's Jeff Galloway 13.1. When the turn came, I made for the tangent as fast as I could and outkicked this guy -- who was 14 years younger than me -- by two seconds to finish in 21:45. I was 6th place overall and first Masters male (the overall winner was 47 so the Masters win fell to me).

I was elated when I saw the results. I was worried that with only awards for the top runners in each age division I would walk home without an award, as I did the previous week in the Leftovers 5K. It helped that the popular Eastside BeltLine 10K also was held today, just an hour or so after my race started.

The Masters win was unexpected and great -- I got an award and a gift card to Phidippides running store. It also was my third Masters win, after the May the 4th Miler Be With You race in May 2015 and the Stamp Out Poverty 5K in December 2016. It's certainly the first time I've won a gift card for a race.

I felt extremely comfortable running this distance at this pace and this time around I used the footpod data to tell me when to increase my wattage and I included pace to appear on the screen to give me a sense of what the actual pace was during the race. My splits were incredibly even -- 6:57/7:04/7:00 and the last .13 miles I was running at a 5:50/mile pace. It will be nice to use this tool in a ramp up for longer distances -- and new PRs.

Time: 8:30 a.m.
Temp: 48 degrees
Gear: Technical T-shirt, short (Doug Kessler 10K), shorts, Nike Vaporfly 4% Flyknit/B.