St. Jude Memphis Marathon Training – 2 Weeks to Go

Last week of training before Turkey Taper 2k14!

Total miles: 47 (!)
Total recommitments to good habits: 2
Status of said recommitments: improving and needing further improvement

Monday: unplanned rest day

I felt run down from all the traveling I’d been doing, plus Saturday’s rough long run left a bad taste in my mouth. Decided to begin my last real training week on a little extra rest.

Tuesday: 6 miles easy @ 11:06/mile; strides; hips

The plan was to do 7, but I had to squeeze in this run during my lunch break and get back for a conference call. Recommitting to “easy days easy” went really well on this run. And I did hip strengthening work! Pats self on back.

Piedmont park

Wednesday: 10 miles // 4-5 @ tempo pace; 6 x 1:00 @ 10k pace w/ 2:00 recovery; core

Another long treadmill run fueled by a long string of Fresh Air downloads. I felt really strong during this run, so I did the tempo portion at an 8:41/mile pace and the 10k portions at an 8:29/mile pace. It was a little bit faster than normal, but just by one treadmill increment. Also, Jeff showed up on the treadmill next to me. We seldom run or work out together, so it was fun having him there.

My right leg/hip was still bothering me, but has improved a good bit. On this run, I noticed that the discomfort went away as I ran faster. I’m not going to read too much into this for now, but it might be meaningful if it persists.

Thursday: 7 miles // 4-7 @ goal marathon pace

The plan called for steady-state pace, but I was pretty fatigued from the 10 mile Wednesday workout, and I skipped the normal rest day between the long workout and the steady-state run to get back on schedule.

It was another treadmill run, and I knew it was going to be rough when my normal super-slow-starting-pace, 5.5 mph on the treadmill, felt kind of hard. I felt really out of shape working so hard to run 9:41 marathon-pace-miles, but I’m sure the last 4 miles of the race will be even harder.

Friday: 4 miles easy @ 11:36/mile; strides; hips

EASY DAYS EASY!!!! I got this, y’all. I really needed a super easy run to recover from the week, and this did the trick.

Leaves

Saturday: 20 mile long run @ 10:09/mile

I finally made it to the hallowed 20 mile training run, and it was better than I expected it to be. After a slow start, I started feeling super strong, and that feeling never went away.  Even though my pace was quicker than normal, I felt like I was running quite conservatively until the last 3 or 4 miles. Other than the feeling of “I’ve been running for nearly 3.5 hours and walking is awkward,” I felt amazing after the run. I had gas left in the tank, and I had the time to reflect on how far I’ve come with my training (I even got a little emotional about it).

20 miler splits

After the run, Jeff made us beef and cabbage soup, and I ate three bowls 🙂 Then I woke up hungry in the middle of the night and ate a Larabar.

Is this normal? Do you guys get outlandishly hungry after a 20 miler?

Advertisements

St. Jude Memphis Marathon Training – 3 Weeks to Go

I didn’t spend a single day at home during Marathon Minus Three Weeks. I missed this furry little buddy.

furry buddy

Thankfully I get #littlebuddy updates while I’m out of town. Photo courtesy of Jeff, aka Stedman.

I was in Boston for work this week. (again!! I love Boston.) Boston in November is a bit of a weather-gamble, but we got lucky to be in town during a week that was about 10 degrees warmer than average.

Boston

This photo pretty much sums up the week of gorgeous weather.

Total Miles: 42

Monday: 7 miles easy @ 10:20/mi; hip strengthening work

My easy pace was quicker than normal from a combination of a) being amped from my half marathon on Saturday, b) being amped because I love Boston and love running in Boston, c) running late for work, and d) running perhaps a bit faster than I should have.

My leg pain flared up again a bit and I spent some quality time with the foam roller. Huge shout out to the Financial District Hilton for having a full assortment of foam rollers in the gym. This seemed to help.

Tuesday: 9.5 miles // miles 4-5 @ tempo pace; 6 x 1:00 @ 10k pace w/ 2:00 jog recovery; core work

My plan was to run 10 miles, but I was running late for work again and had to cut the run short. The theme of running too fast continued on this run. During both the tempo pace and 10k pace portions of the run, I looked down at my Garmin and found myself running about 0:30/mile too fast. My splits don’t clearly show it because the too-fast segments were offset by stoplights and hills. I attribute this poor pacing to the causes listed above.

Tuesday Workout

9.5 miles // 4-5 tempo; 6×1 10K

After this run, I started feeling the mystery leg pain in my right leg – not severely, but enough to make me aware of it. Fan-f-ing-tastic. More foam rolling and core work are clearly needed.

Wednesday: Rest day
Thursday: 8 miles // miles 4-7 @ steady state

This run was supposed to be 7 miles, but I got lost by Boston University campus and it became an 8 mile run. In other noteworthy occurrences, I nearly got run over crossing Massachusetts Avenue when I finally found a recognizable landmark (the bridge to the Charles River Esplanade) after getting lost by BU.

Charles River

Dear Boston: You are pretty and fun to run in. Except in the winter. XOXO, Sarah

Continuing the week’s theme, I ran too fast. In addition to the causes listed above, it was the same temperature as the rest of the week, but with a nasty wind chill that I didn’t dress for. Faster running = warmer body. Getting lost definitely slowed me down and moderated my split times to about the pace I was supposed to run (9:00-9:20/mi). I actually cut through a BU building (did not run; brisk walk) at one point because I was so lost.

11.xx ss splits

Friday: unplanned rest day; hip strengthening work; travel to New Orleans

I had a 4 mile easy run on the schedule, but I started feeling symptoms of a cold, and it was nearly freezing and rainy outside, so I just decided to rest up for my 19 miler on the schedule for Saturday.

I went straight to New Orleans from Boston (via LaGuardia, which by the way, has a super nice Delta terminal). We had dinner at Mr. B’s for our friend Randy’s birthday, and it did not disappoint.

cajun BBQ shrimp

BBQ Shrimp at Mr. B’s, highly recommended.

bib

This is what happens when you order BBQ shrimp

birthday bread pudding

This is what happens when you have a birthday: bread pudding!

I booked a room at the Roosevelt Hotel for the weekend with points. I got an upgrade to a suite, a points rebate, two free cocktails, and the room was so nice. I’m now a huge fan of this hotel.

Saturday:
Plan: 19 mile long run
Actual: 17.5 mile long run @ 11:14/mile

File this one away under “it’s not always your day” long runs. I had every intention of just going slow and steady, since I still felt a little cold-y, but I was super excited because Jeff found me an awesome route to run. Around mile 5, the pain that crept into my right leg earlier this week (was originally left leg, but that seems to have gone away) really came in with a vengeance. The streets and sidewalks in New Orleans are pretty rough, and I got to the point where I didn’t want to land on my right foot anytime I stepped off a curb/pothole/etc because I really felt the hip/upper thigh pain with every downward step. Running on the dirt on the streetcar route along St. Charles for part of the run was probably really helpful.

Audubon Park

Audubon Park

The run was fine and I enjoyed taking in the scenery until mile 15. This was basically the only hill in the entire run, an overpass over I-10. I was almost to the bottom of the overpass when I tripped and fell and got some pretty nasty New Orleans street grime in my scraped-up hands.

Sidebar: There was once a time in college when I went to happy hour before quarterbacking a flag football game. I got tackled by an overzealous Zeta and hit the ground pretty hard, no doubt a result of slow response time. I started crying in the most unattractive way possible. My friend Haley came over to see if I was ok, and upon realizing I was totally fine, she started laughing hysterically at my ridiculous sobbing. I realized how absurd I looked, and my sobs turned to heaving laughter.

I basically relived that moment lying face down on the side of the road on my long run, minus having Haley physically there to laugh at me (her cheer was there in spirit, and it was infectious). Once I recognized that I was basically in the same position with the same unattractive-crying as in that football game, I mustered a little laugh, got up, and kept running. I stopped at a gas station to wash my hands, drank a Gatorade, and resumed the run.

street view

Google street view of the place where I fell.

The run was going slow but OK until I arrived in a residential neighborhood and felt a call from nature. I slowed my stride a bit and hoped to find a business to patronize/use facilities. Before too long, I couldn’t even jog without feeling like I was going to involuntarily answer the call of nature. I’d walk, try to jog, have to stop immediately.

long run

Loooooong run.

By this time, I’d been running for 3 hours, I was a mile and a half from being done, and the prospect of walk/jogging the final 1.5 miles seemed ridiculous, especially with my hands in need of some serious antibiotic ointment. I called a cab and that was that. Best $11 I’ve ever spent.

I took the best shower of my life (the shower had not two but THREE shower heads), and Jeff brought me a muffuletta from Central Grocery. Post long run food is the way to my heart.

Muffuletta

Not just any muffuletta. The ORIGINAL muffuletta.

After a much-needed muffuletta coma, we went out, watched football, and spent the evening bar-hopping the French Quarter and eating po’ boys.

po boy

Grilled shrimp po’ boy from Erin Rose.

I think we stayed out until 1 or so – I did flame out earlier than the rest of the bunch, but it was still a respectable showing.

Sunday: Rest day; travel to Atlanta

I woke up at 10:45 and missed breakfast, so we had a delicious lunch at Mother’s. Jeff and I split the combination platter (jambalaya, etoufee, red beans & rice, collards, and potato salad) and the house special po’ boy, the “Famous Ferdi Special.” This isn’t something I would have ordered without direction from Jeff – it’s a ham and roast beef po’ boy sitting in roast beef gravy. It was PHENOMENAL. I ate it mostly with a fork and knife. I can’t even put into words what made it so good, because I don’t even like ham, but please please do yourself a favor and get this sandwich if you go to New Orleans. The combination platter was excellent as well, especially the jambalaya, but given a choice I’d have to rate the Famous Ferdi as #1.

Famous Ferdi Mother's New Orleans

The Famous Ferdi Special, so good it will take away your ability to take acceptable photographs.

For “dessert” we went to the French Quarter and had Frozen Irish Coffee from Erin Rose, also excellent. We spent the afternoon walking around the Quarter, popping in bookstores and art galleries and bars, witnessed an attempted robbery, then headed to the airport to go back home.

Frozen Irish Coffee

Erin Rose’s Frozen Irish Coffee

I love New Orleans. I haven’t eaten so well in YEARS. It’s easy to bounce back from an awful long run when there are so many wonderful things to do and eat with wonderful people.

I’m not certain of it, but I suspect that running at faster paces than normal in Boston contributed to my awful long run. It’s so tempting to give in to adrenaline and run as fast as you want, but I’m coming down off the adrenaline rush and am rededicating myself to “easy days easy, hard days hard.” Last week I rededicated myself to core and hip strengthening work, and I managed a total of 3 days doing hips/core this week, which is meh better than normal. I wonder what next week will bring on the rededication front?

(This is a no-brainer by the way. I will rededicate myself to not eating like a trash compactor. Other possibilities: updating my blog timely.)

All right guys, help me feel better about all my bad habits. Let me know about all those good habits you keep having to recommit to.

PS – I’m thankful that Thanksgiving Day is a day that allows for the suspension of all self-control or good-habit-forming. Live it up with your friends & family, and smother everything in gravy! I know I will!

St. Jude Memphis Marathon Training – 4 Weeks to Go

Now that I’m officially tapering, I’m catching up on old training updates. This one is for Marathon Minus Four Weeks.

Total Miles: 33

Monday: 4.5 miles easy @ 10:44/mi; strides

First treadmill run of the cold, dark winter. Felt like a 2 hour run. My attempt at “strides” on a treadmill actually went really well, they felt surprisingly good.

Tuesday: 
Plan: 10 miles // 4-9 @ tempo pace
Actual: 8 miles // 4-7 @ tempo pace

I honestly felt so nervous going into this workout. I wasn’t sure if I could do it. My 10 mile run a week before with 5 tempo-pace-miles had been hard enough.

When I started the tempo-pace-miles, I felt a little pain in the upper part of the outside of my left thigh, almost the hip. It wasn’t IT band pain, it was a little further forward and didn’t go down very far. Anyway, as I kept running, the discomfort increased, so I ultimately decided to cut the run short and hope for the best in advance of the Savannah RnR Half Marathon that I planned to run on Saturday.

I did feel that 8 miles with four at tempo pace (hovering around 8:50/mile) was still a solid workout, and a little extra taper for the half marathon wouldn’t hurt. I recommitted myself to core and hip strengthening work that I’d been doing only sporadically for the past couple of months.

Wednesday: Rest day

My left leg felt like death, to the point of hurting when I walked. Over the course of the day, I realized that the pain went away almost entirely when I consciously engaged my core and glutes to pull my pelvis into a straight line with my torso and legs. I suspect I’ve been running with my pelvis angled forward, and this has caused strain on whatever muscle/tendon is bugging me.

pelvic tilt

Illustration of my bad running/walking form. Photo courtesy of builtlean.com.

Did some clamshells, leg lifts, and single-leg bridges at home after work.

Thursday: 5.5 miles easy @ 10:45/mi; strides

Another treadmill run. To make things worse, Fox News was on my work-gym’s TV WITH SOUND (barf). I can really only handle Fox News segments when they’re on the Daily Show. Counted down every 5% increment of the run. I would hate running if I could only run on a treadmill with Fox News blaring.

Quick tangent//Book recommendation: The Loudest Voice in the Room by Gabriel Sherman, a biography of Roger Ailes’ life and building of Fox News. This book is certainly from a liberal perspective, but it sticks to well-researched facts, so I wouldn’t say it’s specifically for a liberal or conservative audience. Rather, it’s for an audience who wants to be aware of the driving forces behind the man in charge of a highly influential news source. I “read” the audio version on Audible, and for my nerdy taste in books, I thought it was sufficiently scandalous/interesting for a boring treadmill session or long run.
Recommended if: you find the media/politics/Washington power structure interesting.
Not recommended if: you believe President Obama was born in Kenya or is a Muslim, think there is a “War on Christmas,” etc.

Friday: Rest day; travel to Savannah
Saturday: 2 miles easy @ 10:49/mi (pre-race)
Savannah Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon: 13.1 mile race @ 8:50/mi (13.2 miles @ 8:47/mi per Garmin)

The only thing I really have to add to the race recap linked above was that I did feel some pain during the race, but managed it by consciously running with my pelvis aligned correctly. It was pretty easy to be conscious of any misalignment because my leg basically screamed at me every time I let my pelvis tilt forward. I felt some discomfort, but it certainly wasn’t as bad as Tuesday’s tempo run, and the next day’s pain wasn’t as bad either.

Sunday: Rest day; travel to Atlanta; travel to Boston

Highlights of the trip back to Atlanta from Savannah included a gas station petting zoo and a South Georgia Sunday lunch buffet, both in Metter, Georgia off of I-16.

Regrettably I didn’t get any pictures of the buffet food, but if chicken and dumplings, pot roast, collards, mac ‘n’ cheese, cornbread stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy, etc. are your cup of tea, it’s a good spot. I’m generally not a huge buffet fan, but this place was busy enough that the food was pretty fresh.

Regarding the gas station petting zoo: it’s one of those roadside absurdities that is 100% worth seeing. I was against the idea in theory, but we had so much fun.

petting zoo

Feeding the animals // Mike is way braver than me.

petting zoo

I can’t make this up, y’all.

petting zoo

I spent about 30 minutes packing at home before going to the airport for a week of work in Boston. It was such a busy day, and I’m really glad the race was on Saturday and not Sunday!

What’s your preference, Saturday or Sunday races? Why?

St. Jude Memphis Marathon Training – 5 Weeks to Go

Here’s the first in a three-part series of training and travels I have not yet blogged about. I’m starting with three weeks ago, which was Marathon Minus Five Weeks.

Total miles: 45

Monday: Rest day
Tuesday: 7 miles easy @ 11:06/mile; strides
Wednesday: 10 miles // 1-3 easy; 4-8 tempo; 9-10 cool down

There is a slightly-longer-than-half-mile gravel track in a nearby park that I’ve been using for tempo runs. I did a boring record 10 laps around this oval during this run. It’s actually quite a pretty spot for a run, but I was decidedly unaware of the scenery while pounding out tempo-pace-miles.

piedmont park

Piedmont Park Active Oval // photo courtesy of Delta Sky Magazine

Once I got to the tempo-pace miles, the first one felt amazingly easy, like I could run a half marathon at that pace (spoiler: I did). The second mile was unremarkable, but the third felt like holy hell. Thankfully I’ve read enough articles in Runner’s World that I’ve heard of this nifty trick called visualization, and I imagined myself giving it my all in the last three miles of my upcoming half marathon. I’ve never been into visualization (it strikes me as something this weird guy from my grad school class would have liked) but in that moment it was very effective. I may be a visualization-convert.

tempo run

10 miles / 4-8 at tempo pace

Thursday: Rest day
Friday: 7 miles // 1-3 easy; 4-7 steady state

This run was tough because I woke up at 5 to get the run in before going to the office and taking a conference call, then I had to go to the airport and catch a noon flight. Of course it was dark and chilly, but I also felt soooo sleepy. In the first mile at steady state pace, I felt like I was dragging and was 0:20/mile off the pace I was aiming for. Once my legs woke up, the rest of the run was good; I was aided by a slight downhill in mile 6, and ended mile 7 on the 10th Street Hill of Death before jogging home.

steady state run

7 mile run // 4-7 steady state

By 1:00 in the afternoon, I was in my old homes in Texas (Dallas then Waco), reuniting with wonderful friends, eating Mexican food, and visiting our old campus haunts. Besides being Baylor homecoming weekend, this was a special weekend because it was our friend Switz’s last weekend in Texas before making the big move from Dallas to Lusaka, Zambia. Check out her story here and here and prepare to be impressed by this woman.

Baylor

Waco reunion essentials: Tex-Mex and cheesy Judge Baylor photo

We were so fortunate to be able to stay right by campus in an apartment with a couple of college girls. Jess and Anna were the hostesses with the mostest, and I wish I’d been half as cool as these cats when I was their age.

Saturday: 18 mile long run @ 10:32/mile

On Saturday, I ran in the morning before the 3:30 football game. The conditions for running couldn’t have been more perfect – low 50s, sunny, and most of all, FLAT Texas terrain.

Waco Lasalle

Mile 1 of my run; aka Asphalt Pancake

For those of you who are familiar with Waco, I ran from campus to Cameron Park (about 5 miles on the route I took), along the River Trail for about three miles, headed back downtown and wound around the downtown streets for a while before heading back to campus and doing a couple loops of the Bear Trail. It was all flat and paved except for the  River Trail, which got a bit tricky several times.

Waco is known more for cults than natural beauty, but Cameron Park has unexpectedly pretty scenery.

Cameron Park

Cameron Park River Trail

Brazos River

Brazos River from Cameron Park

Because it was game day, I went with a green and gold themed outfit, because I can’t help but be cheesy like that.

Runootd

Team spirit #runootd

When I got back to the Bear Trail, my old campus stomping ground, I knew it was prime time for a fast finish and cut the pace down to 9:50/mile by the time mile 18 rolled around.

Baylor bear trail

The Bear Trail. Homecoming.

Long run splits

Long run, Waco edition. (KD Cannon is a speedy Baylor wide receiver)

Saturday ended up being a gorgeous day for football, and our team won in a blowout. The real highlight for many of us was seeing the gorgeous new football stadium in its inaugural season.

Some young whippersnappers or people who don’t follow college football wouldn’t know this, but Baylor’s football team was miserable when we went there. I remember going to games that ended in out opponent scoring more than 70 points (although I probably didn’t stick around for the fourth quarter). The team’s play on the field was matched by an equally unimpressive stadium off campus.

Attending this game made me think, I didn’t go to school here. I’m glad for all the young kids who will look back on their college years and remember a shiny new stadium and a team that put together a damn good resume for the College Football Playoff (no matter what the committee decides or how they want to justify it). But I’m also glad to have seen the really low years, because I think it is that much sweeter to witness a complete transformation. I returned to my alma mater and didn’t recognize it because it was more amazing than when I left. I’ll take that kind of homecoming any day.

McLane Stadium

McLane Stadium

We also had an unplanned pledge class reunion. Yes, I was in a sorority. It’s silly, yes, but I bought made some great girlfriends that I might have never met otherwise.

reunion

Spent at least a quarter of the game catching up with these ladies.

I made it a personal mission to eat as much Texas BBQ as I could during the weekend. Getting to go to one of my all-time favorite spots, Vitek’s, was a huge treat.

Vitek’s is a former grocery-store-turned-BBQ-restaurant in Waco known for its signature menu item, the aptly named “Gut Pack.” This delicious combination of brisket, homemade sausage, pinto beans, cheese, BBQ sauce, corn chips, pickles, onions, and pickled jalapenos is worth the acid reflux, if you get that kind of thing. The Gut Pack is kind of a big deal: it won the Cooking Channel’s Best College Eats competition.

Vitek's Waco

The Gut Pack. Photo courtesy of the Cooking Channel.

the best

Friends & Vitek’s = the best.

Sunday: 3 miles easy @ 10:32/mile

I ran the Bear Trail again on Sunday. I loved every second of being back at Baylor and felt super strong just a day after my 18 miler. This week of training was that aha moment when I realized I really will be ready for the marathon.

This was the best week/weekend I could have imagined. Our Texas reunion for Switz was so wonderful, and I managed a solid week of training around it.

Football fans: how’s your team doing this year? Love or hate the new College Football Playoff?
Is there anything better than a long run around your old stomping grounds or a delicious greasy treat from your younger days?

Belated Race Recap: 2014 Publix Georgia Half Marathon

Since my half marathon PR in Savannah a week ago, I’ve been doing a little reminiscing on my first two half marathons.  I remembered enough to go ahead and write a recap before I forget even more than I already have. Most of the recap will be from the Publix Georgia Half Marathon this past year since I remember it better. 🙂

I didn’t have a blog when I ran the race, and probably wouldn’t have wanted to recap the race at the time anyway. This race was the biggest disappointment I’ve had as a runner to date, and has therefore influenced many of the goals I have and training I’m doing now. Here’s the story.

A Little Background – My First Half Marathon

For my first half (Savannah RnR), I attempted a training plan that was both too long and too ambitious. It was a 20 week plan, for a 1:55 half. My most recent 10k time was 59:00. I was delusional. Surprise of all surprises, I fell flat in workouts, then dreaded workouts, then skipped workouts, and hated everything about running. Work got crazy a month before the race, and I ended up working 12 hour days and some weekends. Once I logged all the missed runs into my run tracker, it suggested I might reconsider running the race. I did not reconsider anything. I forgot to pack my shoes and wore a 60 year old lady’s walking shoes for the race. I ran the race in 2:02:13, and collapsed (figuratively) in the final 5k. I knew with proper training, I had a sub-2:00 half in me. When I changed jobs not long after the race (for other reasons, but having the time and energy to train properly for distance races was a nice benefit), I signed up for the Publix race.

Savannah Half Marathon

My first half marathon. #positivesplits

Training a brief summary concocted from 9 month old memories

I trained for 11 weeks, starting at 17 miles per week and peaking at 27 miles per week. I nailed most of my workouts (on the treadmill), which were typically a total of 6 miles including warmup and cool down, and consisted mainly of 4 mile tempo runs around 9:00/mile and 3x mile repeats between 5k and 10k pace with 800m recovery intervals. (Fewer of the mile repeat workouts were “nailed”; this is my least favorite workout ever.) I knew the course was more challenging than Savannah, so I ran hilly long runs through the city, spending a lot of time on the race course itself. The long runs were HARD, and I think the hilly ones averaged around 10:45/mile, although I don’t have data on it. I did really enjoy this training cycle.

My training for this race was so much better than my training for the Savannah half a few months prior, so I was excited and felt ready to crush the sub-2:00 half.

The week before the race, for my last 13 mile long run, I decided I’d done too much slogging on hills and wanted to run fast and flat, with a fast finish. I headed to my trusty flat long-run trail and ran my heart out in the last 5k. I also missed my last speed workout on the Thursday before and did it on Friday before the Sunday race. I don’t know what you’re really supposed to do for a half marathon taper, but I’m fairly certain experts don’t recommend what I did for this race.

The Expo and Pre-Race Activities

I don’t have much to say about the Expo – I was in and out as quickly as possible. It was well-organized, short lines, and I appreciated that the safety pins were already precounted in the race packet vs. having to fish them out of a box. (The little things get me.) The Expo is located at the Georgia World Congress Center, which is easily accessible by MARTA (Dome/GWCC/Philips Arena/CNN Center station on the Blue or Green line). It’s the same location and setup as the Peachtree Road Race expo for those who have run the Peachtree. Thankfully MARTA has increased its weekend service since then, so wait times should be no more than 10 minutes for future races.

The day before was a friend’s birthday. There was a birthday party, and I went. I had 3 or 4 beers, crushed the cheese plate, and ate a couple of generous helpings of pasta salad. We went to the roller derby and had a great time. File this one away under “good times I paid for later.”

roller derby

Totally normal pre-race activities.

 The Race

The corrals are a short hike from the Peachtree Center MARTA station, but early in the morning in March, I was happy to do some walking and keep the blood flowing. The organization of the race/corrals is pretty standard – overall what you’d expect from a well-organized race.

The weather was great: around 50 degrees at the start.

Miles 1-3

These miles are net downhill, but there are a couple of uphills that really hit you hard when your belly is still full of cheese and beer from the night before. The course starts on Marietta Street and goes past Georgia State campus, then turns north on Piedmont through downtown up to North Ave. The course then heads south on Central Park and Jackson Ave. to Old Fourth Ward.

Towards the end of mile 3, there is a nasty hill on Central Park that I’d encountered on a couple of training runs. I’m pretty sure I was already out of breath at this point. Mile 3! I probably should have slowed down, regrouped, and enjoyed the race, but I couldn’t let go of my competitiveness, not even with all that junk in my belly.

Georgia Half Marathon

Dark outside = there’s still hope for sub-2:00

At my pace and corral start time (~2:00 finish), it was dark outside until mile 3 or 4.

Miles 4-9

These are my favorite miles of the course. I ran some variation on this route a lot during my training runs. The course goes through Old Fourth Ward past the Martin Luther King Historic Site. The course turns through the gorgeous tree-lined neighborhood of Inman Park, and up past the eclectic Little 5 Points. After passing Little 5, there’s a bit of a dull stretch up Moreland and Freedom Parkway, past the Carter Center (snoozefest, and a big hill on North Ave.), up Highland Ave. through the Virginia-Highland neighborhood and into Piedmont Park.

Around mile 4 or 5, I looked at my Garmin, did some math, and realized I was not on track for my goal time. I was also still feeling the cheese and beer in my stomach. I tried picking up the pace a smidge and hoped my stomach wouldn’t revolt.

The 2:00 pace group passed me running up the hill by the Carter Center, around mile 7. I tried to keep up, but this was the first point when I thought it might be a good idea to ease off the gas, considering that the race was only 7 miles in and I was running at an effort level that, frankly, was not sustainable for 6 more miles. Continue reading

Savannah Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon – Race Recap

Lately blogging has felt like a chore, hence the weeks since my last post. But this past weekend I ran a race that I’m pretty excited to recap.

Going into the race, I wasn’t confident that I’d be able to pull off much more than a squeaker under 2 hours. I would have even been happy with that result; I haven’t run a half marathon in a while and I only needed sub-2:02 for a PR. My old PR of 2:02:13 was from this race last year. With much better training this year, just eking out a PR would have been underperforming.

RnR Savannah

#raceOOTD in as close as I could get to Baylor green and gold. 

I would have liked to make the 4 hour drive to Savannah early Friday afternoon, but circumstances didn’t allow us to arrive until nearly 11:00 the night before the race. I didn’t exactly eat the pre-race dinner of champions: I snacked in the car on a couple small slices of pizza, mashed sweet potatoes, prosciutto-wrapped asparagus, and barbecue potato chips. Not much planning or preparation, but it had some salt and carbs. On race morning, I had my normal pre-run banana-walnut-cinnamon oatmeal which I made ahead of time and brought with me. I didn’t think to bring coffee, a super important part of my pre-run ritual, and may have had a mini-freakout as a result of not being able to use the bathroom before the race. I was certain I’d have to take a portapotty break during the race and lose valuable minutes off my time.

Thankfully – and unlike last year – I remembered my shoes.

My training plan had me running two miles easy before the race, which I had just enough time to finish before the race. I did a few “strides” through the crowd to get to my corral and wake up my legs.

My projected finish time put me in corral 4, but I started in corral 6 because I didn’t want to be tempted to go out too fast and upset my often-fragile digestive system.

Miles 1-5: 9:23, 8:53, 8:49, 8:56, 9:00 (Garmin)
Through 5k: 27:56 (Official)

The first mile of the race has the only hill of any significance on the half marathon course, a bridge. I ran the first mile in 9:23 at what almost felt like an easy run pace. The next 3 miles were pretty flat, and I crossed the 5k mark at a decent but conservative mark of 27:56. I took the race pretty easy through mile 5, with miles 2-5 ranging in pace from 8:49-9:00. I had a Gu and water around mile 4. I remember thinking to myself that I was just going to hold myself back to have gas left for marathon training.

Miles 6-8: 8:31, 8:54, 8:32 (Garmin)
Through 10k: 55:37 (Official)

During mile 6, I realized my stomach felt fine and I started to really have fun and picked up the pace a bit. I owe a lot of this to meeting a couple of marathoners who were running a good pace and chatted with me about football. They gave me a good chuckle and a high five when I yelled “sic ’em Bears!” at an unsuspecting spectator in an Oklahoma hat. I ran mile 6 in 8:31 and didn’t even notice because I was having so much fun. It’s probably a good thing I didn’t notice that mile split because it probably would have concerned me. Mile 7 included a Gu and water station, so I looked down and saw a very normal/expected pace of 8:54 for that mile. The first mile that I noticed the mile split time and got nervous was mile 8 at 8:32. Continue reading