Life, Running, & Medicine.
Notes on life as I see it.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

ING Georgia Half Marathon Completed!

For the longest run of my life I finished strong - a 2:00:53, well shy of my 2:10 goal.  By the last 3 miles I realized I could be shooting for a sub 2-hr time, which was exciting.  I worked to pace myself and unfortunately the Forerunner did me wrong a little and had me hitting 2h at with still a 1/4 mile or so left.  How frustrating!

The race started with a suprisingly wide open and free parking at the CNN center deck (I guess everyone took Marta).  We got there around 6:30 so plenty of time to find the start and get chilled in the 43-degree springtime weather.  The race had a staged start with the elite runners and the seven corrals having staggered start times by about 3-4 minutes.  I ran as "pace" for a friend of mine doing the full marathon.  The course winded through downtown, then north on Piedmont - suprisingly there was a water station at 1 mile (I'm not sure how at 43-degrees, full on pre-dawn still, and after having really only "run" 3/4 mile anyone could want water).  We then continued on through Old Fourth Ward, Inman Park, L5P, Highlands, Morningside, Piedmont Park, Midtown, Georgia Tech and finishing back at Centinneal Park.  Water/gatorade breaks were plentiful.  There was even a mile-9 GU station for the Half Marathon.

All in all I was very excited about my time and glad to see myself "finish strong".  The course was nice, especially going down all the smaller and medium neighborhood roads.  The weather was perfect for running, poor for spectating.  Biggest downside was coming back through midtown, seeing the Centennial Tower and Equitable Building and thinking the end was right around the corner, then an abrupt northwest turn looping us behind GA Tech and Howell Mill was a heartbreaker.  Equally disappointing was the Hill on Marietta at Mile 12/25.  Best parts was the weather, the crowd support, and the fact that a lot of the Half-Marathoners got to "run with" the elite marathoners on the last leg of the course.

I look forward to the ING Georgia's third running next year - hopefully by then I will be up for the full marathon.  Congrats to all that joined me today!

Saturday, March 22, 2008

ING Georgia Marathon Approaching

ING Georgia Marathon (and half) March 30th, Atlanta.
My first ever half marathon is approaching next weekend.  Since my 10K last weekend I have kind-of been on a taper, having only run once this past week.  I will do my best to get in a "long" 8 or 10 miler this weekend if the pager will keep quiet.  I have only run a 12 miler once (a few weeks ago) and it was tough.  I am hoping that a good raceweek diet, a week rest from running and raceday adrenaline will get me through it.
Also, the Chicago Marathon is now less than 7 months away.  I devised a training program that I will start the second week in April (after a week-long rest).  The program has me building a single long run each week at a 5% weekly distance increase.  Then two other runs during the week will be 6 and 8 miles each.  Every fourth week is a break with only 4,4, and 6 mile runs.  I am starting at a long run distance of 10 miles, and will get to a long of 23 miles 3 weeks before the marathon.  I will end with a gradual taper then a week-long rest before the big day.
I chose to schedule this out using only three runs a week because of time constraints.  I would love to run 4-5 days a week but my life is too unpredictable to count on for a scheduling the extra days; I will still try to run extra when I can.  Also, I used a 5% weekly increase (really <4% given that I break every fourth week) rather than 10% because it will be more forgiving for the weeks I can't get in any runs.  The break weeks give even more flexibility to this end.
I know it's not perfect but it seems like it will get me there (to 26.2), especially if weather is good and terrain flat.  I can work on speed building for the second...

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Somehow Pulled It Off: Atlanta Shamrock n Roll 10K

Wow I actually finished this race with a great time (for me).  Given that my training has been spotty, and that I've done 4 other tough runs the past 7 days (usually averaging 10min/mile) I still managed to do this 10K at an 8:26/mi pace.  I was expecting to finish around a 9:45 pace, but running with the 8 1/2 pack was feeling reasonable so I did my best to keep up.  I even had gas left for a nice sprint to the finish.  Funny I finished 8 minutes faster than I told my wife, so she didn't see me and we couldn't find each other for 30 minutes.  As for consistency, my mile splits were within 24s of each other.  The official time has me a little slower because I started in the back of the pack and didn't get my chip scanned at the end for a full 20-30s after the finish line.
Either way, the race went great.
The race is a mixed 5K/10K (the 10K serves as the last qualifier for the Peachtree roadrace July 4).  The course starts at Atlantic Station courtyard, winds through the outdoor mall then heads West.  There is 1 big hill, a couple other smaller ones and the finish is on a downhill.  The major criticism is that the 10K is basically 2nd lap around the 5K course with one small variance.  I'm sure it's done that way to be cheaper (more money for the charity) and easier, but it means the route isn't very scenic; so you're running for running's sake, not for the view.
So I think another long run mid-week and then I'm resting up for the Georgia Half Marathon in 2 weeks.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

The Atlanta Tornado

The Ides of March brought brought a fierce wind to downtown Atlanta.  Around 10pm last night the winds fell from a sky illuminated blue and eerie green with lightening.  I was visiting a neighbor for surf and turf and thought it a good time to walk back home, and just in time apparently.  All night long all I really noticed was the thunder (which my dog noticed more) and some torrential rain.  This morning I didn't find the occasion to check the television but got a few calls from family to "check on me".  Watching CNN I discover that sure enough an F2 tornado, some 200yds wide took a 6 mile long swipe at the city.
Touching down near the downtrodden Vine City neighborhood just west of the Congress Center the twister proceeded to hit the CNN center / Philips arena directly, marched eastward right on top of the EQUITABLE building, found the interstate then headed down towards my house, causing quite the havoc in the historic inburb of Cabbagetown (about 2 miles from my house).  Most notable were the holes in the Arena roof shaking up the SEC playoff game, the windows blown off the CNN center, and nearly the entire top floor of the Cotton Mill Lofts collapsing.  Other notables are the Congress Center being flooded with water (the now popular staircase waterfall pic) and the large monoliths at Olympic Park collapsing.
So far no deaths in Atlanta reported.  My thoughts are with the families of the handful of people in outlying counties that were killed by some of the sister storms.
I've always noticed Atlanta to get quite the wind sometimes.  Oft I've found myself traipsing the neighborhood looking for my patio furniture cushions.  We even had our upstairs balcony doors blow in once.  Several times my route to work has been diverted by fallen trees or cleanup left by "ordinary" overnight storms.  Coming from Florida I kind of look forward to a good hard thunderstorm, but destruction is another thing.
Some good amateur photos already up on Flickr today:

Tough Runs This Week

I don't know what it is about Chicago but since my seven miles there I haven't been the same (could it have been the absent recovery period or the filet at Morton's?).  I did a "short" four miles before I left Chicago and was tight as a guitar string.  Yesterday I got in 6 miles in between rain showers and just felt terrible with stiff legs and sore muscles all over.  Was all I could do to finish strong.
I guess that inadvertently I ramped my running upwards quite a bit this week, with 23 miles or so in total.  For a couple weeks there I was only doing about 15-20 miles a week, which obviously took its toll.
I am reminded that tomorrow I'm off to the Shamrock-n-Roll 10K.  I never really planned on it being a PR-type of run, and the way its working is it will just play into my half-marathon training (ING GA Half Mar 31).  I will be running tomorrow with only a 36 hour recovery period after a torrential run.  It will be ugly.
I will try to get in a longish run mid week then probably hit the brakes and let the legs cool for 10 days or so before the half marathon - maybe only heading out for some 1 mile leg-stretchers.  I used to worry that more than 4-5 days was too long a break to take before a long run, but before the Chickamauga 10 miler (with an astounding time for me) I was resting a bum foot for over two weeks.  I felt great and didn't feel like I lost a thing.
I'm going to have to get onto a real training program if I want to make it to Chicago in October.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

More Chi-town Running & The Forerunner 405

This morning (the warmest yet) I just finished a little four mile loop around Grant Park and back to our hotel.  Much of the ice has melted off the lake, but still a cool 34-degrees out.  Wind was light but definitely present.  The fourmiler was a bit weak as my legs were exceptionally tight the whole time.
Yesterday I sat out from running, walked about 10 miles through the city though.  Monday I ran a big South Downtown loop, first south through Grant Park, around the Field Museum / Soldier Field and doing the Northerly Island loop.  I came back through the financial district, right under the Sears Tower, on the way to our Hotel.  It was just over 7 miles in total and I felt great throughout.
While walking through the Mag Mile yesterday I stopped into the large Garmin store.  They did not have the Garmin Forerunner 405 on display yet, but after bugging the salesperson he brought me into the back and showed me an "engineering model" they have been hiding.  It is MUCH smaller, and much more watch-like than the 205/305.  Even more of the wristband is taken up by the antenna.  It has a touch bezel (iPod-esque) to rotate through the menus, but unfortunately this feature gave some trouble during my test drive.  Also disappointing is that it lacks biking and swimming modes, so it only does running; I really don't see how a few extra lines of code to interpret bike/swim data would be prohibitive.  Of course it's got the wireless sync in exchange for the shorter battery life.  Price point will be $299 without heart rate sensor (you can use your sensor off the 305 too) and $349 with the sensor.  All in all pretty good but I'm pretty happy with my 205 and will wait a generation or two before upgrading.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Chicago Lakefront Chill

We made it into Chicago Saturday afternoon.  We started our journey at Pizzeria Uno with a classic Chicago Deep Dish Pizza (Pizzeria Uno is the refuted home of the deep dish).  Next a walk down the magnificent mile looking to look for earmuffs, and finally an early retirement to the Hotel.
Sunday morning I met up with an old college friend and went for a run, leaving the hotel (Hotel 71) and heading down the river to the Lakefront.  We ran up the Lakeshore sidewalk about 2 1/2 miles, then cut back through neighborhoods to get back.  The temperature was around 25 degrees, the coldest I've ever run.  It felt great and was an excellent way to start the day.  Suprised to see how well I felt given it was so cold.  Pain is all about the mind I guess.
The rest of day was spent at the Field Museum (after the wife got up), Cafe Ba Ba Reeba (Another college friend lives in Lincoln Park), and wound up down at The Billy Goat Tavern near our hotel.
Planning to head out for another run today but currently gloomy and snowy, so will push it back to the afternoon...

Monday, March 3, 2008

Shamrock n Roll

So I can't say I've been proud of myself.  Since last Thursday (?) I've only gotten in 4 miles, and that was on the treadmill last night.  The past few days I've been a little tied up with other things.  I had a large medical exam on Saturday, which was supposed to have occupied a lot of my free time with study (all it really did was occupy my free time with procrastination and worry).  Then I finished the rest of the weekend on call at the hospital.

I may just head out tonight for a little moonlight run if I can get this cheap Chinese food digested.

My wife and I did register for the Shamrock n' Roll 10K in Atlanta March 16th.  I'm running the 10K and she'll be doing the 5K.  The race is complete with a live Celtic band and no doubt lots of Irish fare.  I don't know the course, but it starts in midtown at Atlantic Station.  I ran the Susan Komen 5K from there last year and had a great time.

Also upcoming is the Climb Atlanta race to the top of the Bank of America building in Atlanta.  This one is a crazy "sprint" up 55 flights of stairs.  The starting line is staggered so there's not too much pandemonium.  Proceeds benefit the American Lung Association.

see you out there