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Saturday, November 30, 2013

Technology Break - Running Streak

I was taking pics of hubby after our freezing Thanksgiving Run and snapped this shadow shot of me

Took a little break from blogging over the Thanksgiving Holiday.  Just wanted to take a little break from technology actually.  Decided a little time connecting with my real husband and getting out and about would be good for the soul.  It has been and it has sparked my holiday plan.
I am actually not really training for anything, except of course a healthy life.  No goal race, in fact hubby and I don't really have a race on the schedule until Heart and Sole 5K in February.  I had been going back and forth about the Holiday Running Streak.  I did the spring streak and the holiday streak last year.  It is a good way to stay mindful during the holidays.  Hard to overindulge if you know you have to get out there and run, not waddle, at least a mile. 
As well as doing the streak I decided that though I love technology and I have gone on about how I love ISmooth Run, I have decided my streak will also be a running technology break.  I won't be listening for my splits or pace or distance.  Brace yourself, I am just going to run and listen to my body.  I will run as fast or slow and as short or far as I feel like running.  I will enjoy the Christmas lights that brighten my pre-dawn holiday runs and the good company of my husband.  Mostly I will just run for fun and kind of end the year just enjoying running. Not getting in my head and wondering why today I was slower than yesterday or telling myself  I have to get that extra 1/4 mile or I won't hit my weekly mileage. 
I am officially on day four of my RW Holiday Technology Detox Running Streak.  I look forward  to getting to know once again the simple pleasure of running to run. 
Hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving and celebrated with those closest to them.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

The Week in Review

It has been a mixed bag this week.  I am not training for anything in particular and I have been doing a lot of running by feel without any apps or tracking.  That has been nice.  I forgot how nice it could be to run without something reminding me that I could run faster or I should slow down.  I am sure I will refocus on some particular race goals but I think for the holiday season I will just focus on running for fun.  That can be a very valid reason to run too!

So this week I did really well on food.  I cooked a lot and we had a lot of new recipes including a delicious balsamic roasted butternut squash.  Thanks Food Network!  Oh yeah I might be addicted to Food Network.  That is a discussion for another day. 

Running went well.  Lots of running by feel.  I did not get my long run in because the end of the week posed some unexpected challenges.  Mainly I pulled a back muscle Friday trying to get into a parking garage all torn up by Downtown Atlanta construction.  Fortunately, my run Friday was already done.  By Saturday my back felt better but I had a slight stomach virus.  I thought I would feel better if I ran.  I did run 3 miles.  I did not feel better.  Today  I felt better but the pulled muscle and stomach virus combined with not eating yesterday made a longer run today a little out of reach.  Instead we headed to Cochran Shoals and did a 5K along the Chattahoochee River.  Temps were in the 30s so it was brisk.  I ended the week with 19 miles. 

So strength training and I were on a first name basis this week.  I had in two nice sessions in the afternoon after work.  One on Tuesday and one on Thursday. I was all set to do one more like my 3 time a week a goal but... see pulled muscle and stomach virus.  At least I got out there and did something this weekend.  Also got some of my pics from Soldier's Half.  Love the photos of hubby running me in to the finish.  Especially this one where he is literally pushing me through!

I only have two days of work this week.  Hubby and I are firm believers in no consumerism on Black Friday so we plan to hike the 6 mile trail at Red Top Mountain State Park instead of mall walking.  We love it there.  No turkey trot run for us on Thanksgiving we will do our own run.  I am hoping to get some good workouts in with a little down time.  I hope everyone has a great Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Goal Setting

I was pretty focused on my half marathon training and this week I took it easy with a low mileage week of pretty easy running.  The holidays are upon us and of course I have to decide if I am going to do the Runner's World Holiday running streak.  I did it last year and I did the spring streak.  They can be motivating when I am not training for anything. 

Now that my half is over and I am at a racing crossroads with the dramatic shift in direction of the Atlanta Track Club I guess this year will be a chance to try new races.  I definitely think I would like to do two halfs again next year. That number seems about right for me financially and physically.  I am not sure which ones, though I suspect the fall will be the Silver Comet Half since it is right down the road.

I am not ready to set goals for next year especially since I am still working on the ones I set for this year with mixed success.  I do need to refocus now that the half is behind me.  I have a few short term goals.

Strength Training - 3 times a week.  I have to get serious about this.  I have the equipment I just need to suck it up buttercup and get at it.

Eating - I need to enjoy the fresh organic produce we get each week and continue new and healthy recipes and cooking at home and bringing my own lunches to work.  I feel so much better when I eat fresh health food.

Decide on the running streak.  Either I need to do it or I need to recommit to 6 day a week running.  For me consistency is the key.

Add back in a middle - long distance weekend run. 

For now that seems doable. The strength training is probably the most challenging. 

Hope you are reaching your goals!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Just Do It!

I have been travelling, first for the Soldier's half, then back one day and off for a work related trip.  Came back today.  I did not feel like running this AM.  I am sick of travelling, tired, and had another long day of meetings and activities.  I set my alarm anyway and I went to the tiny fitness room and found the only treadmill.  I said to myself just do a mile and then you can quit. 

If you run, you know what happened. After a mile I felt less tired, and frustrated about travel and even though non-runners don't get it.  I had more energy and I pushed through to get my 3 miles in this morning.  Tomorrow temps will still be in the 20s here and I have my cold weather gear out.  I have a long night of work tomorrow with an evening event that will last until around 9PM.  I know running in the morning will make my day more bearable.  So I plan to enjoy my first run in the 20s tomorrow.  I actually enjoy running in the cold after the first 5 minutes.  In those first minutes I am usually saying to myself "are you crazy it is freezing!  Your bead was so warm!"

Does running recharge you?  I find that most of the time if I just get started I will end up feeling good and it will actually make me feel better. 

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Soldier's Half PR and Just Missed the Goal!

Yesterday was the Soldier's Half in Columbus Georgia.  It was my second half marathon and it was my first out of town race.  I learned a lot and had a great time!  First let me say overall what a cool race experience.  The course takes you right into and all around Fort Benning for7 miles. First of all when will I ever get on an air force base, let alone one lined with uniformed soldiers cheering you on and getting a chance to thank them.  Also you start and end the race running down the Avenue of Flags.  Seriously!  The only real hills on the course are in Fort Benning and they are lined with Drill Sergeants yelling at you.  It was just one of those races. I will admit that I crossed the road a couple of times to high five some soldiers and I was caught up in enjoying the experience, instead of focusing on pace.  The rest of the course was beautiful around the River Walk.  It is a nice course mostly flat except for two big hills in Fort Benning and rolling hills through the River Walk and golf course.  They have so many amenities.  Port-a-potties every 1-2 miles, lots of gels, water, Gatorade, and PowerAde.  What they did not have enough of was volunteers at the stations.  There was a wait for water and electrolytes at every stop.  So I lost a little time, but felt like it was better to wait a bit and keep my hydration consistent. 

The Good about the race and the trip:

Chip Time 2:01:31 - 92 seconds off my goal, but a PR by almost 4 minutes. 
Felt great.  My first half I was really feeling it at mile 10 for the rest of the race.  This time I felt great the whole time.  When I saw hubby at mile 12 to run me in I was like wow already 12 miles. That proved my training with more long runs paid off.

I had packed correctly and my belt, fuel, clothing choices, and technology all worked and were comfortable.

My first half was slower than my last half. That was a goal or me to hold back and leave some in the tank.

Hubby running in the last mile with me.  They tried to give him a medal, but he would not take it.  I knew he wouldn't that is not how he rolls.

Nice race swag.  We got a cute fitted women's shirt which I love and a cool bag.  Love the medal Dog Tags.

Cool vibe with 2,000 runners from 38 states. 

Inspiring to see the folks who ran for a fallen soldier.

The hotel we stayed at was across the street from the Infantry Museum the start and finish.  No parking stress, no logistic stress, and hubby could wait at the hotel in warmth and comfort for me.

Fun day after that walking the Columbus River Walk with hubby and watching the Chattahoochee River Games. 

The Bad or what I learned

The hotel was convenient to the race, but in a bad part of town with nowhere to get a decent dinner the night before.  We ended up stressed, late, and eating microwave pasta in the hotel. Not my ideal pre-race scenario.

A little disorganized.  We may be spoiled by ATC, but number pick up the night before  was chaos.  The volunteers did not know how to route participants and they did not have all the stuff  in one area.  As a result I was not routed to pick up the commemorative painted poster.  A bummer we were going to hang it in our office.  At least we made it to pick up my packet.  They advertised pick up until 7:30 but actually closed it at 7 PM.  In search of dinner that night, we saw a lot of angry folks standing at the closed Infantry Museum.

It was cold at the start, but after 2 miles everything was great. 

I started too far back in my desire to hold back my pace. I got caught in the crowd and spent the whole first mile trying to get out.  My pace that mile was 10:30 about a minute slower than I planned.

Not enough volunteers and the aid stations meant we had to wait.

Confusion with the 5K runners that delayed the start of the half.

Columbus is a pretty depressed area of the state and it was a little sad driving around there.

As cool as it was to run around Fort Benning you could not help but notice how young these soldiers were and think about all the wars still going on and what might happen.  Especially when the young families were out at the base cheering for you.

Lastly, hubby still has not agreed to run a half with me but I will continue to work on him. 

For now kind of glad to not be doing any special event races.  Just want to enjoy running with hubby.  Back to our regular 3 milers and 5-7 mile weekend long run. 


Sunday, November 3, 2013

Disappointing Shift in Focus

On the Banks of the Chattahoochee River after our run today.
No the shift in focus is not mine.  I remain focused on running because of health, fitness, and fun.  I was disappointed to receive my monthly Newsletter from Atlanta Track Club.  Atlanta Track Club is the second largest track club in the US, right behind the New York City Road Runners.  Atlanta is a town that loves to run and as you can see from the pics I post, it has tons of great places to run all over the metropolitan area.  The ATC has always had as a focus to increase health and fitness in Atlanta through running and walking.  One of the ways they did this was through a series of 13 races throughout the year called the Grand Prix Series.  Most were free races and came with your annual membership.  This is the series that hubby and I will get our Bunny Awards for this year and I will place 3rd in my AG in December at the annual awards breakfast. 

The great things about the Grand Prix series were it was affordable, only a few of the races were additional paid entry fees with a shirt.  You always had a race coming up to keep you motivated.  They took place all over metro Atlanta (a 16 county region) and they had the AG awards and the Bunny Awards.  Most of the races were low key and they really were accessible to all level of runners, giving everyone that feeling of crossing the finish line.  In the newsletter they announced that the Grand Prix series has been discontinued.  They will focus instead on a 7 race competitive series and they will award the top male and female, top masters male and female, and top grand master male and female.  To be considered in the series you have to at least win in one of these positions in one of the races.  They also eliminated most of the free races so now you pay your membership fee and the race entry fee.

I can see needing to recoup costs. I am sure those of us in the grand prix series would pay a smaller entry fee of $10 or $15 for some of the other races.  I also see this as an overall change in focus.  My husband and I are probably front mid pack runners.  We are dedicated members and really ambassadors for ATC.  I got 10 people in my office to join this year.  Now it appears ATC only wants the competitive runners.  They have cut the course open times for their races.  Not a big deal to us, we are well below them, but a big deal to those just getting out there trying to get in shape.  It does not seem these changes are consistent with encouraging fitness in Atlanta through walking and running.  Seems more like we want to be an elitist track club and we have no  intention or  time to waste on amateur runners just out enjoying the sport of running.

Hubby and I are of the glass half full sort.  We don't know that we will rejoin ATC next year.  They don't seem to want us there.  On the Brightside. Atlanta is a city that runs.  There are races every weekend and many cool new courses that we missed being dedicated to the ATC season.  So we will get to experience new courses and new races.  I am sad we did not know earlier in the season.  Some of my favorite races were cut and I would have savored those races a little more if I knew I was never going to run over the meadows with the sun rising over the north Georgia Mountain during the Cartersville 10K again.  Oh well there will be new opportunities.  I just hope ATC doesn't regret this change in direction, and I hope those who were going to start out running or walking  know there are plenty of races happy to have everyone who wants to participate, competitive or not!

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Pictures from Today's Run

Today's run was the last 5 miler before the Soldier's Half a week from today!  I can't believe it is here.  My legs felt great this week because I have been consciously slowing down and backed off the mileage.  I feel well trained so I decided fresh legs was important. 

Today's run was awesome because hubby was back and able to run with me.  For the first time in two months we headed out of the hood to run downtown at the Beltline.  We love running there because it is lined with public art, packed with people, and built along a riparian wetland corridor park.  All of our interests converging.  I have missed running with Dung where we were just out enjoying it.  Today was one of those just taking it easy, talking, laughing and taking some pics.  Hope you enjoy!

View from Old Fourth Ward Park from the Beltline

A Yarn Art Display using kids toys
Hubby at the EVEREMAN installation before Piedmont Park

Jamming on the Musical Art Installation made out of Bik Racks

Hubby in the Four Seasons Zen Garden