Sunday, June 30, 2013

A Tale of Two Runs and June Recap

For this week's long run I ran the same 8 mile route as last week, only 7 minutes faster.  In all honestly last week's run was a bummer of a run, so I wasn't surprised this week was better.  Both weeks had about the same weather (80 degrees with 90% humidity), but last week I wasn't sleeping well and I didn't feel well hydrated at the start, and that translated to an icky run.  It's amazing how your performance changes when you body is prepared. That, and I had a few cups of super strong coffee before this week's run, so maybe I was a bit juiced.  I did managed to eat a whopping 2 Sport beans at mile 4 and I'm sure that had something to do with it.  I am a fueling goddess.

I felt good this week and much stronger.  I also felt like I could maintain a nice rhythm (unlike last week when I felt like I was going backwards).  I ran Garmin free as my honey borrowed it to take out on his run.  I enjoy running without a watch occasionally because then I don't fixate on my pace.  Being that it was a long run and in theory supposed to be LSD, I just wanted to run happy and finish the miles.  Instead, my legs wanted to push a little.

How do you handle keeping the pace low on long days when you body feels ready to push?  Do you let yourself push late if you still have the energy?

June Recap!

Miles: 72 miles

Races: Bootlegger Half Marathon

Current Gear Want: The Stick

Current Gear Need:  New running sneakers

Current Project: Overhauling the blog (what do you think so far?)

Things I am excited for next month:  Peachtree Road Race! My race flare is ready.

Another good month in the books! Summer's heat has descended on the city, but my running hasn't suffered too much.  My hydration pack has just become an essential part of any outdoor run.  Legs and fitness are feeling good and I am ready to start marathon training in 2 weeks!

How did your month finish up?

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Summer in the City

Each and every summer that I have lived in the south, I am certain the heat couldn’t be as bad as I remember it.  And then by the end of June, I am melting, sticky, and red. Now there is a good visual for you.  I try to remind myself of the benefit (southern ‘winters’) and tackle my runs at a slower pace the best that I can. 
Wait, what? I parked in the shade.

To be honest, I didn’t really realize what hot & humid was until I moved to the south.  Growing up in New England, I was use to winter and a short season referred to as not winter.   Moving to Texas and then to Georgia totally redefined what hot means to me.  For those of you who have never experienced this kind of heat, I made a little scale to help you understand what I mean.  You can never truly understand it until you experience it, but here is a short explanation to help you understand what I mean when I describe the weather for my runs.
Heat Index for Southern Running by Running on E.

Let me take you through the levels of southern heat & humidity.
1.   Sunny Day: That perfect sunny day you see in commercials where people are drinking lemonade and watching little league games. This is the chupacabra of summer days in the south.  They happen once, maybe twice a summer and if you don’t make the most of it, you will surely regret it. I beg/plead/make offerings to the gods of running that it will occur on long-run days!
2.   Feels like burning:  Super sunny days that look innocent enough, but you quickly feel like you are getting a sunburn.  It's hot, but not humid. The only difference between it and higher levels, it that the shade does provide some relief.  I run the shadiest route I can find and wear all my sun-protection (hat, sunscreen, sunglasses, etc).
3.   Sweaty Gym Sock:  It’s warm, it’s sticky, and sometimes it even smells funny, but it’s not so bad I can’t tolerate it.  I will still run outside, but will be soaked afterward and my face will look like a cherry.  Repeated reapplication of antiperspirant is a must.  You can’t get enough and you keep some in your purse, your desk at work, the car, etc.  Drink early and often while on the run and don't worry about pace.
4.   Sweltering Sauna: It’s hot and humid, like the bathroom after a hot shower. This is the kind of heat that makes you sweat when you are sitting still.  Like when you attempt to have cocktails on a patio, but head inside after 5 minutes because your ice has melted, your cocktail is warm, and you have already sweated through all your clothes. There is no chance of ever looking cute on these days, you just try to survive. Carry as much water as you can on your run and some electrolytes for salt replacement. Take it slow!
5.   Humid Inferno: This is just a whole different level of heat that I’ve only experience in cities like Houston and New Orleans.  It’s the kind of heat and humidity that is so oppressive, it hits you like a wall when you exit buildings and the air is so heavy with moisture you feel like you are swimming. Things have been know to spontaneously combust in this weather. It is the main reason I don’t miss living in Texas.  Hope it is a rest day.
How do you combat the heat?  What are your tricks?

Monday, June 24, 2013

Bootlegger Half Marathon Race Review

On the 8th, I ran the Bootlegger Half Marathon (formerly the Dawsonville Half Marathon) in Dawsonville, GA, about an hour north of the city.  In only its second year, the race was aptly renamed to reflect the heritage of Dawsonville as it is the only city I can think of that has a working Moonshine still in its city hall.
 Welcome to Dawsonville City Hall.
They are very proud of their history.
The race is tiny, but the race director is very hands-on and open to any ideas to improve the race.  He not only started the race with a mega-phone description of the course, but apologized in the barely 2 minute delay in starting the race due to one of the water stops being stolen overnight (I'm thinking high school prank) and it having to be replaced.  Thought there technically was a course time limit, the race director promised to leave the clock running until each and every last participant had the chance to finish. In addition to the name change and route redo this year, a 4 miler was added for those who might not be ready for a half.  My honey came along with me to run the 4 miler.  I think I had him at moonshine though I am not sure he realized there would be running involved.
Oh-oh Thunder Road

The race starting finished at the Georgia Racing Hall of Fame (cars, not runners) and the Dawsonville Moonshine Distillery.  Besides the awesomeness of these places alone, the other bonus of the start/finish area was access to real bathrooms.  Yes, you read that right.  The runners had full access to the Racing Hall of Fame pre and post race including the bathrooms!  Not using port-a-johns in the Georgia summer heat and being able to wash your hands makes me a happy runner!
The course is combination parks and farmland (I even saw a wild turkey), utilizing many of the same roads as the previous year just shuffled around in order.  The course has several rolling hills (about 3400 ft of elevation change), but it wasn't too challenging that you can't turn in a good time.
Good times at the race!
I enjoyed the race again this year.  It's always great to escape the city and get some fresh air. Staying with the theme, the finishers medals were mini moonshine jugs.  I finished in 1:55:48, good enough for third in my age group.  I was pretty excited having never placed in a race, but I was even more excited when I found out that I won a mini growler at the local craft brew store! Who doesn't love a cold beer after a long run?  To celebrate a successful morning of running we stopped at Dutch Monkey Donuts on the way home to refuel.  When I learned they had a Root beer float donut, I just couldn't resist!  Plus it was right across from the craft brew store and I needed to get my mini growler filled!

What is the best race schwag you've received?

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Back from the great beyond

I'm back!  Remember me? 
Probably not, but that's ok. 
It's been almost three years since my last post.  A lot has changed, a lot has stayed the same, and there is a lot to catch up on.

Let's see, where did we last leave off......

Yes, so I was battling a vicious round of ITBS.  I ended up taking an extensive break from running to allow it to heal (6+ months).  I did a lot of cycling in the meantime, but it just wasn't the same as running.  Add to that some major life changes (moving, starting a new job, developing a new family unit, etc) and the running routine I had developed kind of didn't fit my new lifestyle.  It took a lot of time to figure out how to balance everything while trying to regain my fitness, a feat which on it's own seemed like climbing a mountain.  The love for running was still there, I just needed to find a way to rekindle the flame.
 Peachtree Road Race '12

So once I started to feel like I had my feet back under me, I started to add in a few races.  I wasn't always prepared for them, but they ended up being a good kick in the pants as well as a way to bring my love for running back.  Some were tons of fun and some were struggles to make it to the finish line (I'll provide some flashback recaps).  About a year ago, I started to really get my rhythm back and could see the difference in my race times and overall comfort while running.  In the end, it all brought me to where I am now.
It was too tempting.

And where is that exactly?

I'm still living in the ATL and enjoying the hills and humidity for all they have to offer.  I am about to embark on my first marathon training cycle since Birmingham 2010 and I am very excited to test myself once again.  I've been trying a lot of new things (more on that to come) and enjoy running for running.  There's so much to discuss.

Let's get started.
Go time.
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