Archive for June, 2010

A Course Map of Memories

When prepping for any race, many of us have made a habit of studing course maps to familiarize ourselves with what’s ahead. I’m a planner… somewhat obsessive-compulsively so. Throughout my life, I’ve spent an embarrassing amount of time nervously analyzing elevation profiles, mile markers, aid stations, water stops and bathroom opportunities in the hopes of fully preparing myself for success on race morning. Not to mention street closures and spectator guides so my family can find ways to cheer me on.

But with the Peachtree… it’s different for me.

Please don’t take this as blasphemous, since I speak of speed work and training hard and pushing yourself, but I never “race” the PRR. It’s one of my favorite events of the year, and I thoroughly enjoy running it for fun, without the pressures of performing. I take it stride by stride, soaking up the joy of exercise, community, fun and patriotism that permeate Atlanta on July 4th.

Leading up to July 4th, I study a different course …

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The Peachtree – See it Like a Native

Saturday morning I ran five miles down Peachtree Street from Buckhead to Midtown for the third time since May 15. This time I saw more runners getting ready for July 4th, even though it felt hotter than a firecracker.

I know from my glory days running the Peachtree 31 years ago that it’s a good idea to run the actual AJC Peachtree Road Race course in the weeks leading up to it. I hadn’t done that in years, but I always knew it was a good idea for other people.

Saturday, after I cleared Cardiac Hill, I was surprised to see an Atlanta Track Club volunteer staffing a table on the sidewalk and handing out water. She said ATC volunteers will be handing out water along the race course during the remaining weekends in June. I thanked her, just in case she wasn’t a mirage.

If you give the course a try before July 4th you’ll notice a few things that might get lost in the bustle of the race.
PAINTED PEACH
For most of this decade the curbs of Peachtree Street developed a walled-in feel, as massive …

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Things I Think I Think

There is a great little column in many an issue of Sports Illustrated entitled, “Things I Think I Think.” In a slight homage to SI’s Peter King, I’ve been doing some thinking of my own on this fine (manic) Monday.

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I think the air was so thick over the weekend, I was swimming down the sidewalk. Passersby may have thought I was running, but nay… arm strokes were needed to make my way through the air.

I think I drank approximately 10 gallons of water between Friday morning and Sunday evening. Yet I still manage to feel at once puffy and dehydrated. Sweating all those gallons of water right out is a feat. Alert the Guinness World Record team.

I think sweating 10 gallons is pretty disgusting.

Successful cool-off Saturday morning!

Successful cool-off Saturday morning!

I think little kids need to quit hogging the Suwanee Town Park fountain. Even though you’re cute and adorable, and have way more right to be here, I just sweated my way through a 2-hr workout, and I want… NEED… to …

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Surviving the Sauna – One Sprinkler at a Time

I’ve been running for 18 years. I’ve lived in Georgia my whole life, minus a 1.5 year stint in New Orleans (the birthplace of humidity).

In short… I should know better.

But for some reason, every winter gives me amnesia, and come late spring the high temps and humidity leave me feeling really confused and flustered. And sweaty. And really, really thirsty. Where are all the sprinklers when I need to run through them?! Why I leave common sense and experience behind and neglect to prepare properly for running in this weather is nothing short of asinine. Every year it takes me a good month to remember how to be smart about dealing with our lovely Atlanta summer.

For survival sake, is it too much to ask for people to line my normal running routes with fire hoses and various other cooling devices to assist me in this matter? At least I don’t think people mind that I frolick through the sprinklers in their yards mid-run to cool off (wasn’t that lady waving her arms and yelling to …

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Time to Get Beyond My Slacker Ways

I went through a thorough vetting process by my AJC overlords before I was permitted to post here. It was made clear then that my voice would represent the average runner.

That made sense. My blogging counterpart, Lauren, is an elite runner and finished about 24,000 spots ahead of me in the 2009 AJC Peachtree Road Race.

But if I was an average runner in April when I publicly set a goal of crossing the finish line in less than an hour, I think I’m training with more of a purpose than average today.

Last year I had the 28,182nd best time at about 75 minutes. That puts me near the median, if not the average of the 55,000 runners.

Only a little more than 12,000 of the 55,000 runners finished the 2009 Peachtree in under an hour. So it seems like I’ve moved slightly above the average category if I can finish the Peachtree in less than 60 minutes. I won’t be within sniffing distance of elite, so I’m not sure what that makes me. Extra-average?

I’ve had ups and downs during recent …

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Social Masochism

Monday and Tuesday officially kicked my butt at work. Finally saying goodbye to the urban rat race of reality at 5pm yesterday meant two things – 1) freedom from a couple of high stress days, and 2) it was time to get my butt to the track.

Said butt was officially kicked again last night… on said track.

I joined up with a local running group – Christian Runners – at their weekly track workout at Holy Innocents School in Atlanta. As a first timer, I’d heard good things about the group’s Tuesday speed workouts, but wasn’t really sure what I was in for. We did a wildcard draw of sorts – various times/distances were listed on cards of which people would pick one and thus seal our fate for the next 2-6 minutes. We covered 4 x 30 secs, 2 x 2min, and 4 x 1min, and more… emphasis on the more say my jello legs. Solid, but intense.

Stacey, a USA Track and Field certified coach, leads the group each week and is really great about pushing, supporting and educating the whole time. It was …

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The Peachtree is not for the Claustrophobic

I have a few runner friends who are as proud of their streak of years not running the AJC Peachtree Road Race as I am of my two-decade streak. The main reason is they don’t like to run in crowds.

I can see how it might get frustrating for people. Even with my plodding pace in recent years, I spent a good bit of time dodging slower runners and putting on the brakes when a slower person unexpectedly moved in front of my just as I was passing.

It will be interesting to see how the wave system works. Implemented this year, it is designed to spread the runners out better and to put people with documented times in groups with the similarly speedy.

I resumed running in 1990, after a 10-year hiatus. According to the Atlanta Track Club’s history of the race, a big change took place between 1989 and 1990 to accommodate the growing popularity of the race.

“In 1989, the 25,000 was reached in just 9 days. Those not making the cut bellowed in anger.
Race organizers took heed. The start …

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Back on Track

“I am not a ‘good runner’ because I am me.  I am a good ‘me’ because I am a runner.”  
-Kristin Armstrong

Everything seems to be right with the world once again. At least in the ways of training. The Braves split their series with the Dodgers and Crystal Bowersox still isn’t the American Idol winner. But, hey… we can’t have it all.

As you all know I was struggling on the homefront last week. Life throws a lot at all of us, but I’ve learned to survive with the best cheap therapy there is – running – and a simple pearl of wisdom from childhood… “Goonies never say die.”

With this in mind, I turned my slackerdom upside down this weekend and managed to get myself back on track. Nothing too extraordinary, but after much unnecessary time off, I decided I deserved a little punishment. After a few hours each day of some grueling tasks, I’m greeting this Monday morning tired and sore… but feeling much better. Sometimes all it takes is a swift kick in the arse to get myself back on …

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Confessions of a Training Slacker

The body does not want you to do this. As you run, it tells you to stop but the mind must be strong. You always go too far for your body. You must handle the pain with strategy… It is not age; it is not diet. It is the will to succeed.

- Jacqueline Gareau, 1980 Boston Marathon champ

 

We all have our moments of weakness.

Cue a week that includes working late on job #1, nights with job #2, errands to catch up on, being a little too preoccupied with the 1st place (!!!) Braves, and an inability to get up before 7am.

(Admission is step one, right?)

I, Lauren, have not exercised in 4 straight days. In the middle of prime training time. And I am using some fairly lame excuses for the duration. Ugh. Coming home to a bottle of Shiraz instead of a run last night didn’t help (something I am unabashedly capable of consuming by my lonesome).

Sometimes I just lack that normal mental tenacity that keeps me on track. It’s strange – I know I’ve been busy, but seriously – what the heck have I …

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Have You Picked Out Your Race Costume Yet?

You’ll see a lot of wacky outfits on Peachtree Street the morning of July 4th.

My favorite was the year a guy ran down Peachtree in a chicken costume, repeatedly yelling: “How do I get out of this chicken outfit, anyway?”

OK, that may be wishful thinking. But I’m sure if a guy did that he would get plenty of laughs.

And laughs are clearly the motivation for many of the costumes you’ll actually see among the lower seeds at this year’s AJC Peachtree Road Race. One of the perks of being a “lower seed” is seeing guys decked out in black business suits with a “Taking Care of Business” sign on their back.

The most inspiring sights year after year are the soldiers and firefighters running with their gear through the heat and humidity. The crowds seem to like it when I run near these guys because the clapping gets really loud then.

The level of commitment for some of the entertaining costumes take must be huge, albeit less committed or inspired than the first responders and soldiers. …

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