I finally got a long run in! It only took me like five months but better late than never. Actually, last weekend turned out to be a pretty solid couple of days of training for me. Amanda went back home on Saturday morning so I really didn't have anything else to do. Between running and biking, I think I got in about 40 miles, which got me to 100 total miles for the week (64 running | 40 biking). Before the draft, I started trying to get 100 total miles per week as a way to get double workouts in without over doing it. It worked pretty well in the early spring but things got a little off track with work and that limited some of my afternoon rides. I think doubling (run-wise) works for me but I like that mixing in the riding has taken some of the pounding off of my legs. I also just like to ride bikes, because I'm a 12 year old at heart.
XTERRA Georgia Deep South 15k
Deep South is always a fun race, despite the steadily rising mercury this time of year. It's held at the Dauset Trails in Jackson, Georgia. A very cool, but very in the middle of nowhere spot about an hour south of Atlanta. The course is mostly made up of mountain bike trails but it treats you to a great section along a small river that is both fast and cool. Unfortunately, the last few miles mean climbing up from the river and back into the heat.
Things got off to an inauspicious start when I got my number. Nope, not 1 as has happened in the past but 666. I had to ask Tim and Linda (the Schroer family that puts on all these awesome races) if they were trying to tell me something, but nope just a funny accident I guess.
With both a 5k and 15k, the race went out fast. Mitch Novy (5k) took the early lead with a couple of fast looking high school kids right on his heels. I stayed relaxed and settled into a groove early on but eventually caught and passed both high schoolers before settling in behind Mitch. He was rolling, so I let him drift away from me a little bit around the mile mark - he would go on to win the 5k handily - and ended up running the remaining 8+ miles solo. All good by me. I did my best to push the pace where I felt like I could with the goal of getting under an hour for the race.
The first seven miles went very well, but like I said before the heat really makes the end of this race tough. As you climb up from the river, it gets hotter and it seems like the second you slow down you start to really feel that heat. It's hard to manage because as you start to feel that heat you think 'okay I'll let off the gas a little so I don't overcook it' then BAM! somebody opened the oven right in your face. Despite the heat slowing me down a little in the final couple miles, I ended up running 59:01 and winning by three minutes.
After the race, we headed back up to Atlanta and went to Bell Street Burritos for lunch before checking out the Summerfest festival in one of Atlanta's cooler neighborhoods (Virginia Highlands) before meeting up with some friends for dinner and promptly passing out from exhaustion as soon as we got home.
Dirty Spokes Haw Creek 10k
Another hot one! Shocker, I know. Haw Creek was warm from the get go, but luckily the majority of the race is well shaded. The heat kept people from going out crazy, which I appreciated. The course is two loops (with a one loop 5k race taking place simultaneously) over rolling mountain bike trails. It's a quick course but they've slowed it down a little over the last couple of years with some new trails and reroutes. We also ran it clockwise this year after going counterclockwise the previous few years.
I liked the clockwise change up. It made a couple sections easier to stay in rhythm, which is always a plus for me. Like I said, things were pretty calm at the start. Mitch Novy took the early lead and I worked my way onto his shoulder after a few hundred meters. We ran side by side for a bit but I took the lead around 1200 in. I didn't really want to but there was a clear racing line on the trail where the combination of mountain bikers and heat had made a fast, hard-packed strip. The rest of the trail was fine in most spots but there was enough sand and soft dirt to make me want to get into the race line so I took over. To my surprise, we rolled through the mile at 5:51. I figured I'd see 5:30 or something like that, but I was happy with 5:51 and felt like I could maintain that pace.
I opened up a little bit of a gap around a mile and a half but Mitch pretty much held things at 5-10 yards for the entire first lap to cruise to the 5k win. I don't know my splits because me trying to do math while racing is a futile undertaking but I knew I was under six-minute pace. That's generally a fast day on any of the mountain bike trails down here. Haw Creek and Iron Hill lend themselves to running fast and anything sub-six is usually good for the win at this one unless one of these fast young guns shows up.
As you can see from this photo, the heat struck again. Out of the fire and into the furnace on the second lap. Before I got to the four-mile mark I realized I needed to relax a little or I was going to overcook it. I tried to use the downhills to recover a little bit and just roll out the flats. This was where the clockwise course helped as the start of the second lap had a good section of down-flat-down-flat before I got into the small rollers. I focused on my form over the next mile and just tried to flow through the course. Once I got into the final mile I opened things up a little bit. The last mile is relatively flat and the trail is wide. That combined with lappers (that sounds derogatory but I don't mean it to be) serving as motivation - catch the next one was my refrain - I was able to push through the finish in 36:27. I feel like the clockwise course should be faster, but I've definitely averaged a faster pace going the other way. I'm going to chalk that up to competition though, as I've raced hard against Jesse Rappole and a couple other guys here.
Regardless it was great to get another win and I picked up a free pair of La Sportivas. Not sure what I'm going to go with, maybe Helios or Helios SR, we'll see. I feel like I'm rounding into form. I don't feel like I have quite the snap that I've had in other recent summers but my endurance seems to be pretty good right now. I'm in that place where you can run long - half marathon/10 miles - at the same pace that I can run a 10k/5k. Good for the longer stuff but not quite fast enough for the shorter stuff.
Summer Gear Picks
I'm not going to turn this into a review blog but I've got a couple of things that I've really been enjoying lately so why not pass it on. None of these companies have given me anything so these are my opinions of things I've purchased. Of course, if someone wants to hook me up well that would be acceptable.
Go to shorts
Myles Apparel - Momentum Shorts
These shorts are awesome. Okay, that's probably obvious since I'm putting them in my gear picks, but for real. They are amazing. I've been eyeing Myles Apparel's Everyday shorts for a while after coming across them on Huckberry but I finally pulled the trigger when they released the Momentum Shorts a few months ago.
You know what, I'm just going to skip right to the game-changer aspect of these shorts. Two zipper pockets that sit right at the hip seems and are cut backward and down. Who knew pockets could have such a big impact but I'm telling you they are fantastic. They easily fit an iPhone 6 or 7 and have a headphone slot, if you are into that kind of thing. No liner, but that's hardly a deal breaker. They are slightly more fitted than Myles other offerings, which I find more comfortable for running. They are a great short for everyday training and they are really stylish which means you can go from running miles to running errands without changing.
Honestly, I wear them hanging out on the weekends just as much as I run in them. I wore them for the entire day at Tuck Fest, running, biking, kayaking, whitewater rafting so they more than pass the adventure test. I've also dressed them up with a button down while grabbing pizza and beers with friends. I've been a big fan of Eddie Bauer's Amphib shorts as my 'any activity summer short' but these have taken their place and you can actually run in them. They come with a standard 8-inch inseam, good for running but not too short to hang out in. They also come in a 6-inch cut if you want to flash those quads.
One more thing, these shorts are perfect for travel. I discovered them right before I had to spend a week in Indianapolis in late February/early March and they will be in my travel bag from now on. That pockets make it comfortable to carry your phone and the two pockets mean you can carry a room key without having your phone destroy it, which is huge for me given how much I travel for work. No more death grip on my phone while running across the Golden Gate Bridge for me. They are a little on the pricey side at 58 bucks a pop, but given how versatile they are you are basically getting two pairs maybe even three - I absolutely plan on using these as a bathing suit at the beach - for the price of one. To be completely honest, unless you are getting those BOA split shorts from Running Warehouse, you are going to pay at least 40 bucks for a pair of shorts nowadays anyway.
Hoka One One Tracer
I've been intrigued by Hoka for a while now, but just recently pulled the trigger on a couple pairs. I picked up the Speed Instinct for some longer trail races (longer for me is 15k to half marathon) and they are solid, but I've been really happy with the other pair I bought, the Tracer. I snagged a pair on sale at Running Warehouse and they have been a great pick up. I've put about 70 miles on them between track workouts, uptempo runs, and one half marathon. They are surprisingly light and they strike that really nice balance of cushion and responsiveness that I like.
They remind me a lot of the first couple of versions of the Saucony Kinvara. A lightweight shoe that blurs the line between racing flat and trainer and sits in a 4mm drop sweet spot. The construction is very similar featuring a thin lightweight upper and a few welded overlays paired with a slightly thicker than usual midsole. They have that similar feel of a medium-high stack height but low drop which gives the shoe a plush cushion feel while retaining it's snappy responsive turnover ability. The Tracers are a touch lighter than the current Kinvara - 7 oz compared to 7.5 (the originals weighed 7.7 oz). I haven't run in the Kinvara 8 but I've run in almost every other version and the first is still my favorite so it's no wonder that I'm such a huge fan of the Tracer.
The one knock that I've heard about this shoe is that it fits differently depending on which factory it was made in, China or Vietnam. The pair I bought were made in the Vietnam factory, so I'll be keeping an eye on the durability but I don't really have anything to compare it to at this point. I'm a little concerned about my right big toe as it has a tendency to poke through uppers at will and at the points where the side of the shoe is glued to the midsole. Those have been trouble spots for me in shoes - especially the Kinvara - in the past, so if it starts to breakdown early that will be a bummer and change my outlook on the shoe.
The Hoka One One Tracers are still on sale at Running Warehouse, so if you are in the market for a new workout shoe for the track, something for those quicker days on the road, or a half marathon or even a full marathon shoe, I think it's definitely worth a try. Certainly better at $104 than $130. I do have one note for Hoka if they are listening. Throw a more aggressive sole on these bad boys and you've got a nice little trail racer on you hands.
What I'm Watching/Listening to/Liking
Ginger Runner - I came across Ethan Newberry a.k.a. The Ginger Runner on YouTube while looking for shoe reviews during the winter while I was trying to find a shoe for Dirty Spokes & XTERRA. He posts reviews on shoes and gear while also mixing in some vlogging and short documentary films - check out his mini-doc A Decade On about Brian Morrison's return to Western States after a heartbreaking DQ.
Newberry is a funny guy who doesn't take himself to seriously which makes him really likeable. He's just a guy that loves to run and make videos. He has some really interesting videos of others in the trail and ultra world but also throws in some cool stuff about his own goals and battles. He's also a very good videographer...cinematographer...YouTuber...whatever you want to call it. He gets some really cool shots for all of his videos and his Ginger Runner Adventure Club videos are just two minutes of running porn.
Human Race Podcast from Runner's World - I'm just getting into this one but I enjoyed one called "Tin Man" about a guy with an artificial heart and "Unknown Legend" about the world's longest urinal from the NYC & Boston marathons.
Whitetail Bicycles and Coffee Shop is a 'local' - it's like 35 minutes from me - bike shop that doubles as a cafe. Amanda and I were in the neighborhood so we swung by to check it out a couple weeks ago. This place is awesome. Cool bikes and good coffee. The owner Sean talked with me about Cannondale Slates for a half an hour and when I save up enough to get one that will be my first stop. They also carry Parlee bikes, which I thought was kind of cool since they are based in Beverly. Cool little spot. Amanda made me leave my wallet in the car though...probably a good choice.
✔ Finished! Thankfully there was #onlyonehill 😆 Someone pulled me aside post race and told me I became the fastest combined time 4-time winner @ this race. Took me a moment before it hit me! After my first go at this race I would never have imagined I'd win 4 times consecutive. My first win came in 2014 when I broke Matt Carpenters best time and set the American Record. That was an eye opening moment for me as Carpenter had accomplished some great feats at this event. In 2008 I was 4th and struggled gravely. In 2016 after a #3peat I didn't think I'd return for a chance at a #4peat. I'm so thankful I came back to race a field that put 3 past winners on the line with 🇰🇪Kenyan star mountain runner and friend Francis Wangari. Congrats my friend for your USA debut! Also huge congrats to @sagecanaday and Eric Blake, they kept it honest and I always respect those guys! . . This was a special moment, one that has me on a high, I'm going to need a few days off to let it all soak in. #lifeisamazing . . . . Shout out to @joevigerphoto for the dope pic 🤘 . . #journeyofjoegeezi #AdventuresAbove #onlyonehill
Shout out to Joe Gray for picking up his fourth straight win at Mount Washington, a week after winning at the GoPro Mountain Games no less. He's got the best range of maybe any american runner. Pick a distance and this dude dominates it. Maybe Max King would be the one guy that could take that title? We need there to be a US wide All Terrain runner series. That would be awesome. I'd even pay NBCSN 30 bucks to stream all of those races.
"The Golden Gate Bridge is a great location for photographers because there will be different views no matter what time of day you visit. I wanted to be there during sunset, but couldn't make it in time. It was still a memorable night for me, though, since it was my first time capturing low fog on the bridge during the Blue Hour, when the sun has gone down but there are still rays of light keeping the sky from becoming dark." @raphycruz San Francisco, California, USA #passionpassport
Just a cool photo of the Golden Gate Bridge from Passion Passport. Running out in San Francisco, even if it was only one run, was easily one of my favorite places of the last year. It's insane how the bridge can look totally different over a matter of minutes.
Recovery Beer of the Week
Catawba Peanut Butter Jelly Time - Bringing it back. Also a good excuse to get the peanut butter jelly time song stuck in your head. I don't really know what to say about this one. It's an interesting beer. Like a raspberry wheat beer but with a little peanut butter finish. It's odd but refreshing.
Amanda and I went to the Catawba taproom in Asheville during the Spring and this was our favorite beer. It's weird because I want to say that it's a dessert beer but it's not not like Terrapin's Liquid Bliss chocolate peanut butter beer. I don't know. You have to try it.
Oh yeah...I almost forgot.