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Week 7 and beyond…

March 20, 2010

Well after week 7 I sort of feel off the training schedule. The holidays came and went the cold weather came and went and here I am the day before the marathon having trained hard only for the last month and a half. I took about 2 1/2 month off of training due to a lack of motivation and an injured knee. With only one or the other of the aforementioned ailments I could have pushed on but with both it made training nearly impossible for me. I’ haven’t run more than 15 miles in my training but feel pretty confident that I’ll be able to finish. I’ve tried to add more medium runs during the week and not so long long runs on mondays. I ran about 7 or 8 miles during the week and only a 10 or 12 mile long run. I think increasing overall volume helped me to train more an recover faster rather than a day off before and after a long run and another day of easy running to recover. I did two weeks of 40 miles and one of around 35. I also started sporting a knee brace which kind of embarrasses me but I think makes me feel better whether it’s all mental, physical or a little of both is still to be determined. This had been the worst part of the long runs for me, knee pain had plagued me after 12 miles and on into the week early on so I think this is a good plan for me.It’s been tough to go from the beginning when I’d tell people about my training and they’d assure me I’d have no problem with the milage I’d been putting in to now when people would give me a doubtful, pitying and concerned look when I told them I haven’t run over 15 miles. It’s really hurt my confidence but it’s also acted as both a reality check and a challenge.

My plan for tomorrow is simple: wake up early and eat a good breakfast, show up and find my starting corral, then just run, stay hydrated and focused. I have friends at mile 8, 11, and 22 for support. My main concerns are nutrition during the race and chaffing. It’s been saying rain all week but it looks like the thunderstorms should hold off until the end of the race. Here it goes race day is quickly approaching and my nerves are getting worse the cloer zero hour comes.

Polar Bear 5k

January 30, 2010

My coach had suggested that I run the Polar Bear 5k on the first day we met. At his request, I soon signed up.
The Polar Bear 5k run is put on by Johnson Ferry Baptist Church and I am pretty sure the money goes to support their annual summer choir trips. I am not usually one to put my money towards religious organizations unless the money is going to directly benefit the community and its residents (food banks, money for those less fortunate) but I set my opinions aside for this particular race.

Johnson Ferry Baptist Church is located in Marietta, GA in, what I would consider, a rather nice neighborhood. The race started at 8:30 AM and I left my house around 7:15 AM to allow myself plenty of time to find the place and get my race number. I found the church pretty easily (easy to find because it is a GIANT mega-church) and parked across the street in an office park so that I could avoid the crowds. After playing frogger to cross the six lane road, I made it to the church and was immediately greeted by a nice women telling us where to go to get our race numbers. It was a loooong walk to the gym where we picked up our numbers but it was organized very well. I quickly found some of the guys that I have been running with and made a little small talk. I found my coach not too much after that and we soon began about a mile warm up run. I had good advise on this run to make sure I didn’t talk.

The start of the race was a bit of a mad-house. It was not clearly marked, so people were just wandering around. We ended up starting towards the very front and I felt a little bad because people were having to go around us. This was not a flat course as it was advertised (there are NO flat courses in Georgia. STOP advertising this!) but there was only one major huge hill around mile 1.5. I had a goal to finish in under 24 minutes and was quite pleased when I came in 23:03.

Apparently this year they had a new course. In years past, this race was two loops, and this year it was only one. I, of course, do not have a preference as this is the only one that I have done. For what its worth, I liked it.

Crowded Mass of People at the Starting Area

Now some of the problems with the race:

First, this course was some 260 feet short of a true 5k. Really? You couldn’t find that extra 260 feet? Nowhere?

Second, they used a timing system, which seems like a good idea on the surface, but in reality, the timing system didn’t utilize a “start mat” and therefore everyone got a gun time, and no one got their actual time as the starting line wasn’t marked clearly.

Third, this timing system does not utilize something that goes on your shoe, it utilizes a large format set of wires that is placed in a pouch on the back of your race number. For this system to work, the race number is bigger than usual ones and it is rather stiff and heavy. I initially tried to use my race belt (as this is my preferred method of wearing race bibs) but the number was so heavy and stiff, it was interfering with my stride. I had to ditch my race belt and pin the thing to my shirt. I felt like I was wearing a sheet of armor. The good thing is that this system is recyclable. Someone at the finish line plucks it out from the back of your number as you cross. I am also not too sure how accurate this system is as someone had to manually swipe a wand across your number after you crossed the finish line. I don’t know how the system works, but I am a little apprehensive about its accuracy.

Fourth, the money thing. Put the money back into the community… don’t use it to send a bunch of rich teenagers to Florida for a week in the summer. Everyone knows what goes on on church trips, and I don’t want to be responsible for funding that.

Fifth, I don’t know if this is a complaint for anyone else but me. BUT… they provided nice moisture wicking long sleeve shirts for this race. And this is very nice, but they did not offer extra small sizes, therefore I have a shirt that is just too big to wear. This has been a complaint of mine for years. I will gladly pay a few extra bucks to have the option to get an extra small shirt.

The only reason I will not run this race again is because of the money thing. I like my money to go to good causes. Otherwise, this was a very well run race with awesome volunteers and a very competitive bunch of runners.

Peachtree City 5k/10k 1/16/2010

January 16, 2010

Golf Cart Path Sign

Peachtree City Running Club

Golf Carts? Road Running? What could the two possibly have in common?
How about the Atlanta Track Club and Peachtree City Running Club’s annual Peachtree City 5k/10k? This is another one of the Atlanta Track Club’s Grand Prix Races. This one is put on in conjunction with the Peachtree City Running Club.

This is my first time participating in this race so I was glad when my coach offered up a spot in his carpool. I arrived at Oglethorpe University at 6:45 AM and packed in the car with four men. The trip down to Peachtree City took about an hour.

The weather was surprisingly awesome. Since it has been so cold and miserable for the last two weeks, this weather was greatly appreciated. It was probably in the mid 40’s and overcast for the entire race. I felt a little light running as this is the first time I haven’t been wearing multiple layers.

My coach was nice enough to offer to pace me during the race so that I could finish in my goal time of 49:59 (a qualifying time that I need for another race).  We spent a little time after registration warming up on the race course.

Golf Cart on Path

The unique thing about this course is that the majority of it is run on golf cart paths. This is not to say that the race is around a golf course. In fact, there was not a golf course in sight. Peachtree City is known for it’s use of golf carts to get people around, so they have built miles and miles of golf cart paths.

The course was not as flat as advertised (then again, I have not come across any “flat” races in Georgia.) There were many little hills, which is fine with me. The real challenge was that these were winding paths through the woods and sometimes they weren’t very wide, so if people were running two or three abreast, it made it difficult to pass (not that I was passing too many people).

Running Through Golf Cart Tunnels

The course took us uphill and on the “regular” road for about a mile and a half and then it was onto the cart paths. These paths were mostly scenic with views of the woods and sometimes they took you right behind neighborhoods. My favorite parts were when we got to run through the tunnels. I don’t know why, but I like bridges and tunnels and stuff like that.

My coach was doing a great job pacing me for the first four miles. I was getting the times I needed to finish in 49:59. Then came mile 5 where I seriously slipped up and lost a lot of momentum. Then after a dismal mile 5 came a disappointing mile 6. I lost about a minute off my time on each of those miles. The final .2 miles (where I can usually kick it up and finish strong) was almost all uphill. And not a slight uphill, but a for real up hill. There was a little more than a tenth of a mile where I was not able to push it because of the incline, but as I got to the flat finish and that last tenth of a mile I could see the finish clock. It read 49:56. I really kicked it into high gear and made it in at a clock time of 50:06. I knew that wouldn’t be enough to reach my goal, but I wouldn’t be sure until we got our official chip time results.

My coach was awesome. I spent the majority of the last 2.5 miles staring at his backside as he tried his damnedest  to get me to move faster. I just couldn’t keep up on this race. I know I was holding him back, but I really appreciate his effort.

In the car on the way back home, I predicted that my chip time would be 50:01. When the official times were posted at about 3 PM I checked and was spot on. A chip time of 50:01. Two seconds over my goal time. Two seconds! I just need to work harder and I know I will get the time I want.

This time was a 12 second improvement over my last race, so I know I will be able to knock off those last couple of seconds with a little more training.

Of notable interest in this race was the fact that all the 5k times had to be thrown out due to a volunteer not being present on the course. This was a vital volunteer position as it told the 5k participants where to turn. It seems as though the very fast runners ran too far because no one was there to tell them where to turn. This error means that no one will get any grand prix points for this race. I was just a little disappointed because I would have at least earned 40 points (or maybe more if one of the top three in my age group was not a track club member). There were some very irritated runners in the crowd following that mistake. Oh well, mistakes happen.

As I mentioned, I did get fourth place in my age group. I was a minute and change behind the third place finisher. I really want to work extra hard to start placing in these challenging races.

Iron Girl 2010

January 15, 2010

I was very excited to do the Iron Girl Triathlon again this year, but learned a valuable lesson about procrastination.

Last year Iron Girl was my first triathlon, I wrote about it here. I was excited, nervous, worried, and happy. I was waiting patiently to do this again in 2010. I knew with four triathlons under my belt, I would do a lot better this year.

Registration opened on the first day of January and I didn’t sign up. Earlier this week I emailed a training buddy to see if she wanted to sign up. I didn’t hear back from her. I found out today that an old training buddy was trying to email me (at my old work address) to see if I was going to sign up.

Well, the stars did not align for me this year. I talked to both of my friends today at about 3:20. We all decided that we wanted to do it as long as the other would be doing it. I quickly got on active (I really dislike active) and tried to register… only to find out that the event was full.

Damn. So sad. I checked Iron Girl Atlanta’s website and saw that they posted that the event sold out at 3:00 PM today.

I was really disappointed. I really wanted to do the race. I just need to push my friends earlier next year to register sooner.

The up-side of this story is that I saved $100. This is good because the friends that I do triathlons with really want to start doing olympic length triathlons, and this will give me more money to invest in those races.

Good luck to all those participating in the Iron Girl Triathlon this year. It is a great first race.

Atlanta Track Club Resolution Run 10k 01/01/2010

January 1, 2010

ATC Resolution Run 10k

It was a cold, windy morning, new years day 2010. I put on my warm gear and headed to Kennesaw, Georgia, which google maps said was a 22 mile ride from my midtown house. Whenever I  have to drive this far I get very afraid that my car will not make it, but alas, the Civic did it’s job and I arrived safely.

The Resolution Run is part of the Atlanta Track Club’s Grand Prix Series of races. This is the first year that they charged for this race, and it turned out to be a large group of people. This race included a 10k, 5k, 1 mile fun run, and kids tiny trot. It was nice to be able to watch the kids do their thing before everyone else took off for the longer distances.

The race started right on time in the windy weather. The 5k and 10k took  off together and ran the same route (the 10k participants just did two loops instead of one). This route was not my ideal route as it had long steady hills. Not very steep hills, just really long ones. I don’t mind hills, I just like short, steep hills better. Anyway, there was water at about the two mile mark at the top of one of those long hills. This was great for me  because it allowed me a quick break from the hill to get re-hydrated.

I had a goal of finishing under 50 minutes, but as I reached the six mile mark, I was right at 49:11 and knew I wouldn’t make the last .2 miles in less than 50 seconds, but I sure did try. I was able to sprint past a nice group of people to finish in a clock time of 50:20 (tag time of 50:13). So, I was over my goal time by just a little, but that just means I need to work that much harder on my next race.

This was a great race. The Atlanta Track Club really knows how to plan and carry out a very well organized race. They never fail a the task of running a smooth event. I also like the ChronoTrack D-Tag timing system that they bought. Now we don’t have to fill out cards anymore!

December Cross Country 5k 12/5/2009

December 5, 2009
Runners on the Milton High School Trail

Runner on the Milton High School Trail

The day started off very cold. I put on some warm clothes and made my way to Milton High School in Milton (Alpharetta) Georgia. Milton has hosted the Atlanta Track Club’s Cross Country for a few years and when I arrived I could tell why. This was nice school with a lot of money and I knew their facilities would bet top notch.

As I arrived at the school I noticed the snow flurries start to develop. Great. It had been raining for some time and now it starts to flurry. I put on an extra layer and went to register for the race. This was another Grand Prix series race, so it didn’t cost me any money, but I had to get my bib and D-Tag. I believe the race started at 9 AM, so being as cold as I was, I went back to my car to try to get warm.

I had never done a cross country race before, so I really didn’t know what to expect. I knew things would be muddy and slick due to the rain, but I didn’t know much else.

The race started on time and as the runners made their way across the field I encountered the first major surprise. There was about a 15 foot hill, a 45 degree angle that we had to tackle. A lot of people were scrambling on all fours to get up. I just took a little longer route and went around. The trail was well marked and there were plenty of course monitors to lead the way and offer encouragement. Where the course was particularly slippery (going over bridges) there were extra monitors there urging people to slow down. It was quite dangerous. This type of running definitely tested my abilities. I was totally worn out and completely exhausted when I finished in 27:57. This time was enough to earn me LAST PLACE in my age group.

I was warned ahead of time that this would be a difficult race, but I didn’t know until I experienced it, what people meant. Running cross country requires a lot more skill and thinking than regular road running. I was constantly scanning ahead and underfoot for roots and other obstacles. It is almost impossible to gain time going downhill because the leaves on the ground are so slippery. There were puddles everywhere and it was too cold to go through them, so I had to make my way around.

I can’t honestly say that I like trail running. I have grown accustomed to the easy drone of running on streets and sidewalks where my only real obstacles is dog poop.

Simeon Smith Benefit Race

November 21, 2009

Our good friend Simeon has been in the hospital with strep pneumonia for the last 2 1/2 months. Due to his lack of a spleen which was removed after a bad bicycle accident in 2003 (which is when the above photo was taken and explains his lack of teeth) his body wasn’t able to fight off the infection. His wife and daughters have barely been able to see him and of course the medical bills have been adding up. He has had his right leg amputated below the knee, but even as a cyclist is still in the best of spirits. We’re throwing a benefit race for him to hopefully raise a little money for his family to help them through this tough time.