Archive for June, 2011

Looking for a sign


A well-placed sign during a race can make all the difference in the world.

I hit a wall during my first big race at about Mile 18. I could feel myself start to flag, dreading the next eight miles, gritting my teeth and saying a little prayer to the running gods.

And then, up ahead, I spotted what I first thought was a mirage — my friend Erick standing on the side of the race course, holding a sign that said, simply, “Run, Zusel, Run.” Normally, I would have chided him for being cheesy, but in that moment, that sign was my salvation. I’m not going to pretend that all of a sudden I felt like I was flying and the pain left my legs, but seeing him there gave me the little extra push I needed at that exact moment. My gratitude can’t be overstated.

It’s often said that running is mostly mental, and I think my sudden burst of energy during that race speaks to that. There’s something amazing about seeing someone you love — heck, even a stranger — on the sidelines, holding a sign …

Continue reading Looking for a sign »

A Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Run

Let’s hear about that run in which nothing, and I mean nothing went right.

Here’s my most recent terrible run, occurring today. I go out on the two-mile loop around a lake at a park near my house. Nothing bad about that; I’ve done it several times over the past few weeks with no issues. Trust me, there were issues today.

After not being able to find my way to finish the trail (there are multiple branches and I somehow kept getting stuck on a small circuit and unable to make it through to continue around the lake), I realize my car key has fallen out of my pocket. At this point, I was already headed back the way I came since I can’t make it around, even though I have several times before. This is a first for me, and I know this isn’t good. I start backtracking along the trail, walking and looking for my key. After walking probably about a mile, I am back at my car with no key. I head back out, trying to make it back as far as I went before turning around (I had already turned …

Continue reading A Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Run »

The AJC Peachtree’s growing rival race

I was there. Interning in Denver in 2006, I missed the AJC Peachtree but got my holiday 10K fix running the Memorial Day BolderBoulder race. (Flickr photo by: scubadive67)

I was there. Interning in Denver in 2006, I missed the AJC Peachtree but got my holiday 10K fix running the Memorial Day BolderBoulder race. (Flickr photo by: scubadive67)

Like any good sports franchise or college team, the AJC Peachtree Road Race has a rival. But it’s not Yankee-Red Sox or Alabama-Auburn ugly between the Peachtree and the BolderBoulder. Instead the Peachtree and the other huge, holiday 10K complete with qualifying times, staring corrals, costumed patrons, beer along the side of the road, and oh yes, a whole lot of runners appear to get along. In the past, Peachtree race director Tracey Russell has headed to Boulder to observe the race, and the two big events share ideas. But there are still bragging rights on the line.

Almost 55,000 people took part in the BolderBoulder on Memorial Day including 53 listing a Georgia city as a hometown as that race continues to grow. The Peachtree will have 60,000 or so this year after the field was increased by 5,000. Was …

Continue reading The AJC Peachtree’s growing rival race »

What to wear, what to wear

Like a lot of women, it takes me awhile to decide what to wear before I leave the house. I’m not one of those people who plan out their outfits ahead of time — in fact, true to my procrastinating nature — there’s not a whole lot I do ahead of time.

But for race days, I can’t afford the luxury of putting off deciding what to wear until the morning of the run (unless I want to have a mini-nervous breakdown before I even approach the starting line). There are too many other things to think about the morning of a race — making sure you hydrate, putting your number on, talking yourself out of going back to bed and pulling the sheets over your head — to worry about what you’re going to wear.

Of course, you can’t plan perfectly — meteorologists do their darndest, but they always seem to be off by a little bit. The forecast could call for clear skies and 90 degrees, and you could wake up to rain and 60. At the very least, though, you can pick out a shirt (Dri-Fit is always a safe …

Continue reading What to wear, what to wear »

How to be cool (running)

Not that it is breaking news, but the heat can be a major factor in slowing you down. After flying a few weeks ago running during a cooling severe thunderstorm and struggling in almost 100 degree heat on the same four mile loop, I decided to pull some numbers and investigate. That’s what is below, some data on my last five four-runs (all but the June 5 run were training runs on the same loop; June 5th was a race on a similarly hilly but different route).

Run time
Day’s mean temp.
Above/Below mean
Heat Index
Percent Humidity

June 7
9:45 AM

June 5
8:06 AM

June 1
5:28 PM

May 26
6:03 PM

May 24
7:48 PM

- Weather data from Weather Underground.

My quickest runs came when it was coolest. I remember after that June 1 run, I couldn’t cool off. I literally stood in …

Continue reading How to be cool (running) »

Do you stay with your friends when you run?

A few years ago, I ran the Rock ‘n’ Roll Half-Marathon in Phoenix with my then-boyfriend. We had trained together for a few months and had the same goal — to finish at about two hours. Because we were running at about the same pace, we figured we’d cross the finish line together — we never talked about what one would do if the other one got a cramp or got tired or got mowed down by an overzealous Kenyan.

We were in perfect sync until Mile 10, and then he turned to me and said those fateful words: “I have to pee.” He told me next time we passed an alley, he was going to duck in and relieve himself. He told me to keep running. “Are you sure?” I asked him, secretly wanting to keep going, but feeling guilty for not waiting for him. He assured me it was fine. So I left him. And when I crossed the finish line without him — he finished five minutes later — I didn’t feel nearly as excited as I know I would have if we would have done it together.

I remembered reading about this couple

Continue reading Do you stay with your friends when you run? »

Dr. Joe’s Peachtree Road Race Tips: The Body’s Radiator

On race day, you may have the horsepower in your legs to get the 6.2 miles down Peachtree Road, but if your cooling system is not ready, your tow truck may become an ambulance and your mechanic may be a doctor at Grady.

Any machine, such as your body or car, takes in fuel (food or gas) and burns this to produce movement and heat.  The food that you eat is quantitated in calories, which is a measurement of the heat produced when burned. For every calorie you use in running, 75% ends up as heat and only 25% as work energy in the most efficient athlete. As you exercise, the body must shed this extra heat.  To do this, you have a cooling system that must be conditioned to be ready on RACE DAY.

One form of heat loss is accomplished by radiant transfer from your skin to the air.  On cool days, this system works well.  To lose heat on the hot/humid days of July 4th, your body must sweat.  Blood and energy must be redirected away from the muscles used for running to the skin to …

Continue reading Dr. Joe’s Peachtree Road Race Tips: The Body’s Radiator »