Sunday, January 8, 2017

2016 Review

I'm a little late on the 2016 recap, but I decided to do something a little different than just rehash everything I did. I've been using Adobe Spark for work, so I thought I would put one together that has some of my favorite pictures from the past year. I think it came out pretty cool. Enjoy.

Year in review

Alright, 2016 is in the books and we're on to 2017. I didn't write much about my running in the Spark, but 75 percent of the photos came from different runs that I did. I ended 2016 by accomplishing a lot of my goals - winning the Dirty Spokes and XTERRA series, I won Tuckfest, and I rode my bike more. Running wise it was a pretty successful year. I didn't end up running Loon or a PR in the half marathon, but hey there is always next year.

Friday, December 30, 2016

Trestle Run: Shut Down & Reset

Shutting It Down
For the last couple of years, I’ve taken the first week of December as my week off. It seems to work out pretty well for me. My last race is usually early in December, so after that I try to shut it down for a week and let my body take some “extended” recovery time. I’ve been fortunate to be relatively injury free so that’s allowed me to run pretty much year round. The fact that I’ve been running races from January until December keeps me going year round but as I get older, I’m definitely seeing the benefits of taking some down time every now then.

I did a better job of working in cross training this year, at least I biked more and ran fewer doubles. However, I still should have backed off a little in the spring. I strung together about 10 weeks of 60+ mile weeks and I think that ended up contributing to some cumulative fatigue, which slowed me down some in the summer. I should have stuck to the plan of building three weeks then backing off a little bit until I was really ready to pile on the miles. I didn’t build up as slowly as I probably should have and then instead being smart, I just said ‘well I don’t want to ruin it by backing off’.  I can be a little OCD when it comes to getting miles in sometimes.

That’s a little bit of a long winded intro to what I’m doing now, “resting”. I say it quotes because I don’t exactly feel like I’m resting and that’s probably part of my problem. A lot of times when I should probably    take a day off, I say that I’m not going to be any less tired after work if I skip this run so I’ll just go out and get something in. I’m sure that’s mental more than physical though, so this week I’m really working on taking the week off from running and allowing my brain to be okay with that. I’m heading to LA for work so I’ll probably run a little out there, but other than that no running Monday-Friday. Then I’ll start back up with some easy miles through the end of the month. After that I’ll figure out my 2017 race schedule and start training for whatever my first goal race is (either River Gorge or Chattanooga ½ marathon).

That was a little rambling, but whatever. It’s my blog.

Race Recaps
Little Mulberry Park 10k
This is always one of my favorite races of the year. It’s always cross country weather, it’s one of my favorite courses, and it’s usually the last vestige of my summer/fall sharpness. This year’s race was all of those things. The weather was perfect, not too hot, not too cold. The course was in great shape. Huge shout out to whoever blew all the leaves off the trail (probably Tim and Johnny).

I didn’t feel awesome at the start, but I was coming off of some really solid workouts that were building 10k strength, so my plan was to relax for the early part of the race and wait till be were through the first section of cross country course (grass field) then pick it up on the long gradual paved downhill and go from there. That plan lasted about three quarters of a mile. There were a bunch of high school kids running the 5k, which shares the same course as the 10k until 2.5 miles, so naturally they went out really fast. I stayed relaxed and hung out in fourth or fifth just kind of surveying what was going on out front. I moved up to third when we started the first little climb. It’s not much of a climb but it can be a little rough if you aren’t quite warmed up yet.

When we hit the grass I was in third, but moved up to second to close a little gap that had opened up. Admittedly, I got a little antsy at this point and instead of waiting and steadily increasing the pace, I surged once I hit the front. I instantly opened a small gap and at that point there was blood in the water so I went for it. I pushed the first 2.5 miles pretty hard and had a sizable lead but I tried to keep on the pace once I got onto the equestrian trails, thinking that I could take a shot at one of my better times on the course. I struggled a little bit in the final mile and a half – which features a real grind of a climb – but ended up running my second fastest time on the course and my fastest time on the current course. I was really pleased with the result. It was nice to feel like all the workouts had come together for a good race. It’s easy for me to just kind of fall into the rhythm of going through the motions this time of the year, so It was a rewarding race.

Victoria Bryant State Park 10k
From one of my favorite races to one of my least favorite races. Victoria Bryant has been my last race of the year for the last three years or so. It’s not a bad race. It’s difficult. The course is constant up and down with very little room to settle into a rhythm. It’s also usually either super muddy (which can be fun) or treacherously leaf covered, or sometimes both. It’s also difficult for me to get into the race mentally. I almost always just want this race to be over. All that being said, it’s probably the least popular Dirty Spokes/XTERRA/Georgia State Parks race – this year it was part of the GA State Parks series, next year it’ll be XTERRA and it’ll be in April – so I feel like it’s a race I mainly go to in support of Dirty Spokes.

I ended up winning by a big margin, which had I known I probably would have eased off, but I was convinced that people were going to catch me because I was driving the struggle bus for the whole second half. As it turns out, most of the guys that would have been nipping at my heels ran the shorter race. Ugh, I don’t even like thinking about this race. It’s seriously all either up or down. And the it’s all short steep ups and downs. The ups grind you down and the down just blast your quads. The last mile feels like three. That’s all I’m going to say. Anyone that showed up for this race deserves kudos. It’s just a nasty one.

What I’m Reading
Phil Gaimon makes another appearance. Now that he’s retired from the pro peloton he’s set his sights on taking KOMs back from dopers. I read another story a few months back about how prevalent doping is among masters and age group racers and at first that kind of blew my mind. But as a read more I saw that a lot of it came from anti-aging clinics and supplements that I see commercials for on TV every day. “Boost your natural testosterone” is bullshit.

This thread on LetsRun caught my eye a few weeks ago. The poster was asking how/where people get their miles in when they have a full time job. Great question. This is something that took me a long time to figure out. Part of that is due to the fact that I changed jobs a bunch early in my career. There was even a time that I barely ran because of my work schedule.

When I was in grad school I’d run 5-7 every day at lunch and occasionally make an appearance at Phillips Andover for a Whirlaway workout. When I was interning, I’d get three in on the treadmill at the gym across from work two days a week, three if I was lucky. When I moved to Philly I finally settled back into a groove and ran almost every day. I moved back home and kept that alive (it helped I was working at a running shop) then I moved to Georgia and ran maybe 10 times in the first six months I lived here. It wasn’t until I stumbled on Dirty Spokes that I really started training again. And even at that it took me two years at my current job to find a rhythm and schedule that worked for me on a daily basis.

That’s what I’d say in response to that post. Find a rhythm that works for you. You also have to prioritize running to get it done. If it’s important to you, you’ll figure it out. Of course that doesn’t mean every run is going to be Instagram worthy. I was fortunate to go to college in a great area for running. Tons of trails and varied terrain. Now, most of my run are done on the same two or three loops either near my house or by my office. I mix it up when I can but I found a couple routes that work and those are my go to ones. Maybe it would be different if I lived in Marin, or Boulder or something like that, but I live in the suburban sprawl of Atlanta. Don’t get me wrong there are some awesome places to run here, but a lot of my running is pretty plain. I’m okay with that. Sometimes getting out with a headlamp on is tough on the motivation, but for me, having a routine is the basis of my training.

What I’m Liking/Following

Tuck Fest is back on my race schedule again. I mean, I have to go back if they are using me in the promo tweets right?
The story of the Millinocket Marathon from Down East magazine is a really cool one. I recommend giving it a read. The idea behind it is incredible. I makes me want to jump in the car and head up to Gaitlinburg and spend some money at local businesses after the crazy fires they’ve had up there. I realize that’s not some amazing noble thing, but I think the idea of trying to revitalize Millinocket that way is different and I’m always interested in people who are trying to re-think the standard way that things are done.

Wrapping it up here. I love that I start these and then three weeks later I realized I never post them. I need to start working on my 2016 wrap up now.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Trestle Run: Round 2

Originally, my intention was not to do these as back to back blogs but I got nothing else. Also I'm a week late in posting it...Here. We. Go.

This One Time at a CX Race...
Last week was Thursday Night Football, which is not super conducive to running - especially since we played in Tampa - but after the game we get what Amanda has dubbed the "mini bye", aka a full weekend off from work. It's glorious. I got runs in early in the week and even had a solid workout on Wednesday. We went 8x400 with float 400 rest so basically a four mile tempo run. I averaged 5:35's so it was pretty much right on goal pace for this time of year. After the workout I headed to the airport to go to Tampa where I got in a meh out and back five miler before the game. 

Friday I was on little sleep so I went for a quick ride after work and then I took Saturday off. It was a little weird to take a day off when I had time to go somewhere do a different run, but I felt like I needed a little rest. Sunday I woke up and headed down to Boundary Waters Park to pretend to be a cyclist.

I like to mix it up a little and "race" my bike every now and then. It's a nice change and, since I stink at it, there is very little pressure to preform. I'm really just out there to have fun, push myself, and get out of my comfort zone. I'm not sure what place I finished - I never saw any results - but I know that I didn't get passed at all, except for the start. Man, did I get left in the dust. I ended up settling in and working my way up past a pretty good size group after the first half of the first lap. A lot of people went out too fast. After that, I think I passed two more people so I'd say it was a solid race. I didn't get caught by any of the women or juniors either, so definitely positive results there. 

I still struggle in some of the tighter sections, because I'm a terrible bike handler, but I was able to hawk a few guys down on some of the sections where I was able to mash the pedals. I guess that's what happens when you have decent 10k fitness...even if I was on the least expensive bike in the entire field, $500 mountain bikes for the win...or like 10 or 15 place.

Why Can't We Have Nice Things?
Maybe it's because I have cyclocross on the brain, but can someone explain why cross country gets no love? If we are always looking for ways to popularize running for the masses, why not use cross country? It's the perfect event. It utilizes the fact that running is a mass participation sport, something that USATF seems to want to distance it self from, but also provides a spectator friendly product for the elites. 

Think about it, imagine a national cross country league - for lack of a better term. You have teams, say 10 franchises that are regionally based, that roster 10 runners with seven competing in the series of meets. These meets are run on spectator friendly courses and utilize existing iconic courses/meets - Franklin Park & Van Corlandt come to mind. Prior to the "pro" race you hold an open race for all comers. Anyone that wants to race, signs up and races. Teams are scored three deep and age group results are kept. Some places you could even hold a high school invitational before that. Following the open race, the racers become spectators and watch the pros duke it out on the same course they just ran thereby allowing everyday runners to see the pros up close and personal and see just how incredible they are since they are running the same course.

This whole time you have an expo/trade show/carnival going on providing sponsors with the opportunity to get out in front of the people who are buying their products. The season could run from August to December with a championship meet in January two meets per month spread out across the country. I know it would take a lot of money and it's a pipe dream, but I really believe cross country is the best way to create excitement around professional running beyond the 'once every four years' situation we have right now. How many people that ran cross country in high school never ran an xc race after that? How many new runners that didn't have the chance to run in high school have never run it? It would create an amazing atmosphere and most importantly, would be perfect for broadcast/streaming. I could go on about this for days. I actually went on a 40 minute diatribe about it the other afternoon. I really think it could work. Now who wants to spot me the cash to get it started?

NYC Marathon - Molly Huddle and Gwen Jorgensen are bosses oh and Michael Wardian is not human...
Molly Huddle finished third in her marathon debut, which is impressive but according to, she ran the fastest final five miles of anyone in the race. That's unreal. Having never run a marathon before that's where you'd expect her to suffer the most. Nope, she killed it. It sounds like she's going back to the track - and she should, being the American record holder at 10k - but I am looking forward to seeing the eventual Molly vs. Shalane vs. Amy Cragg vs. Desi marathon battle. 

Gwen Jorgensen is amazing. She finished 14th and ran 2:41 off of triathlon fitness/training. I know that running is her strong suit - and by strong suit I mean she dominates people - in tris but still, the marathon isn't something you just jump in and preform well at. She is a boss. 

What I'm listening to...
One more from Phil Gaimon's Real Talent podcast...Phil sat down with cyclocross stud Jeremy Powers in a wide ranging discussion in a recent episode. The thing that really stood out to me was their discussion about Jeremy hustling and learning to make himself marketable in addition to being a great rider. I found this particularly interesting at both a personal and professional level. Personally, it obviously an interesting topic. I definitely try to make myself somewhat marketable on a local level with this blog and on social media. If I'm an interesting follow maybe I can get a small level of sponsorship from a local company  - like Dirty Spokes - or even something larger like when I was on Saucony Hurricanes. Working in sports, I find it interesting because it's something that I see many pro athletes go throw. How can you add value in ways other than just your performance? Or how can your performance open doors for other ventures.

East Coast Trail and Ultra Podcast
It’s partially informative and partially irreverent, but I would expect nothing less from Sean “Run Bum” Blanton. The show generally focuses on trail and ultra running on the East Coast but I stumbled on this podcast because they had my cousin Greg Haley as a guest on their latest episode. Greg is a really interesting guy. I won’t spoil too much for you since you should give it a listen, but he’s a legitimate mountain man, living in the woods in Tennessee. He just started running a few years ago and now he cranks out trail 50ks left and right. That’s only a slight exaggeration. He also recently started a small business called Frontier Trail and Mountain Division, everything from buffs and neck gaiters to hydration pack add-ons. Give it a listen if you want to hear from a true mountain man. 

What I'm reading...
Michael Wardian is inhuman. I read an interesting New York Times article about Wardian and Dean Bell completing all six of the World Marathon Majors with Wardian setting a record for average pace, finishing in under 2:31 (on average). He ran nine marathons in 2016, in addition to 10 ultras...lite work. He is an incredible example of pushing yourself to the limits and finding out that those limits aren’t what you thought they were. The human body is seriously capable of some amazing things. You can check the article out here.

In other election news…
Not super psyched about the election results, but there was a bit of a silver lining here in Atlanta. With a new transportation vote passing a sales tax will send money directly to green space and public recreation. I’m not a big tax guy but I am a big outdoor recreation guy, so I’m really happy to hear that Atlanta is moving forward with its urban redevelopment efforts. The most exciting part of this vote passing is that it will give the city enough money to purchase the remaining right-of-way to complete the Beltline – a 22 mile rail-to-trail loop that will eventually circle the city with new parks, greenspace, and pedestrian transportation options. A two-mile section of the Beltline is complete and runs from Piedmont Park in midtown through the historic Old Fourth Ward to Krog Street Market. It’s a fantastic place to run, walk, bike, or just hang out. Amanda and I spent some time down their last weekend hanging out at Ponce City Market. It’s an old Sears building that’s been re-imagined to feature a food hall, shops, and a roof top carnival. It’s a must see if you are in Atlanta. You can read more about the future of the Beltline here. If you are in Atlanta, I absolutely recommend checking it out. 

What I'm following, liking, and retweeting...

A photo posted by (@rootsrated) on

Roots Rated is the absolute best site/app for finding things to do outside. When we have a free weekend or plan a trip somewhere it's the first thing I check for suggestions of where to go.

A photo posted by Jobie (@jobiewilliams) on

Jobie Williams is a southern trail runner who doubles as an awesome photographer. He snapped an epic shot of me at River Gorge last year and always provides some really cool trail running photos.

A photo posted by Greg Haley (@bulldogger72) on

In honor of his apperance on the East Coast Trail and Ultra podcast, and his race win this weekend, here's one of my cousin Greg tinkering with his Frontier Mountain and Trail gear. I love the Made in Appalachia tag.

Wild fires are doing serious damage in north Georgia, Tennessee, and the western Carolinas. The smoke spread was so bad we had to move practice inside one day last week. Wander North Georgia is trying to raise money for the fire fighting efforts.

A photo posted by The Northeast Collective ↟ (@thenortheastcollective) on

I'm coming home. Amanda and I are heading north for a few days of RnR this week.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Trestle Run - it's a working title

The Trestle Run was a pancake flat three mile run that we used to do back in college. It was the perfect quick shakeout in the morning before class or if you needed to add on a little extra in the afternoon. The run left campus and cut through the athletic complex before you jumped on an old rail road bed until you reached the trestle bridge. I've been trying to come up with a quick and easy blog that more than a race recap. Those get kind of repetitive when you do a lot of the same races each year. That's what the Trestle Run (working title) is, hopefully, going to be. It'll mainly just be a brain dump of what I've been reading, listening to, following, and or thinking about. Here we go...

For starters I'll give a brief recap of my running lately. Travel, travel, and more travel. I spent 10 days on the road for work, traveling from Atlanta to Denver and then on to Seattle. I got an awesome run in out in Boulder, Colorado as you can see in my last post. I actually ended up running nearly 50 miles for the week that I was out in Seattle despite some truly miserable weather, We stayed outside of the city, so I didn't get to make a trip to Gas Works Park, but I got some really nice running in around the Bellevue area. Despite the crappy weather it was really beautiful. We got two great days of 65 and sunny but after that it was nothing but rain until we left. I also ate one, maybe two, too many donuts (sorry that's how I'm spelling it, don't care) at Top Pot.

Still working on the GoPro photos
The trip was fun, but the 4 a.m. return to Atlanta, not so much. It took me until the Thursday after we got back before I felt normal and it took me another five or six days before I was fully back on schedule. I skipped a couple days of running to opt for some extra sleep and got in some afternoon mountain bike rides before getting back on track. I had to skip a track workout, but got back out there this past week for 3x 1.5 miles, which was solid if unspectacular.

This week also marked a return to racing for me at the XTERRA Battle at Big Creek. I know I've recapped it in the past so I'll keep it short. I finished the 10.3 mile race in 1:05 and change, which is one of the faster times I've run on that course. I was pretty pleased with the finish despite taking second place. I lost to Matt Johnson, who is training for TNF 50k in about a month so I'm not really too upset. He's fit. Like really fit. He looked like a Ferrari and made me feel like I looked like an old beat up F150.

What I'm Reading...
I sort of stole this idea or adapted this idea from Mario Fraioli's Morning Shakeout newsletter. Every Tuesday he goes through a few different things that are going on in the world of running. He's a coach, former editor of Competitor Magazine and All American at Stonehill who brings smart and insightful commentary on what's going on. I look forward to getting his email each Tuesday morning. You should too. The Morning Shakeout

Sometimes it's hard to find the time to get my running in. Other times the difficulty comes from feeling like all I do is run-work-sleep which can make running feel like a chore. That's why being part of a running community is important. Even if you only see people at races, it helps to know that other people are facing different struggles when it comes to getting their running in but they're still doing it. This post on Level Renner - 5 Ways to Fit Your Training into a Busy Schedule - is a great reminder that it's not always easy, but there are ways to make it easier. I pretty much live by the first two things on this list and they are probably the two biggest factors in going from someone that maybe ran twice a week during the football season to someone who runs 6-7 days a week for the entire year.

What I'm Listening to...
Like most of America, I've become a huge fan of podcasts over the last year and half or however long it's been since Serial came out. I like to mix up what I listen to and I still haven't quite found a running podcast that I love, but I have really enjoyed pro cyclist Phil Gaimon's Real Talent podcast. Gaimon is a pro rider for Cannondale-Drapac and he wrote an incredibly entertaining book about his journey from being an overweight kid to a WorldTour pro called Pro Cycling on $10 a Day. In his podcast he sits down with pro cyclists, triathletes, and a few non-athletes about how they got to where they are today. In a recent two-part podcast he sat down with former pro Mike Creed. I found this episode particularly interesting because Creed had some really interesting insight on routines. He spoke about how routines have a place but you can't allow yourself to become a slave to your routine. He talked about how some of athletes that he has worked with have self sabotaged themselves with their routines, allowing the routine to become a built in excuse if they didn't stick exactly to it. I thought that was really interesting. It bordered on OCD or superstition but I know that I've gone into races sandbagging because I was a little off my routine. It's difficult but it can be a little freeing to think about things that way.

If there is a way for me to keep my connection to New England alive, you know I'm doing to do it. In the spring I stumbled on Outside/In, a podcast from New Hampshire Public Radio about the natural word. It quickly became a favorite of mine. I've fallen a little bit behind on it but I definitely recommend giving it a listen. The host, Sam Evans Brown, is an environmental reporter for NHPR that brings enthusiasm to each topic and has a real knack for storytelling. The format they've created for this show has had me locked in on topics that I normally would have skipped over. Since it's Halloween, I recommend giving a listen to the episode about the downfall of Keene's Pumpkinfest. Obviously, this topic hit close to home for me so I was immediately interested but I thought Sam and crew did a good job of explaining what happened. It was a little hard to hear some of the residents that were disappointed that it was cancelled right after you hear from some jackass kids that thought the whole thing was hilarious and awesome (goddamn millennials!), but it's definitely worth a listen, especially if you've ever been to Pumpkinfest.

What I'm Following/Liking/Retweeting...
In the spirit of keeping this "short" here are a few of my favorite recent people/posts from Instagram.

A photo posted by Steve Kirby 🇬🇧 🚵⛳️🏞 (@skirby1234) on

I stumbled on this one when I was looking at pictures of Cannondale Slates. This guy took an old Cannondale mountain bike and turned it into a Frankenstein Stale, which is awesome. I been seriously contemplating trying to make one of these myself, however I know there is no way that I possess the necessary skill and or funds to do so. I'll just keep day dreaming.

I'm a little bit of a sneakerhead but only when it comes to running shoes. I've got five or six pairs of Saucony DXN Trainers and a few pairs of New Balance 574's scattered around the house. When I saw these, it took everything in me to not order them. Thankfully they sold out before I got home from work, otherwise Amanda and I would have likely had matching pumpkin spice latte Sauconys. Go ahead, call me basic, but that tongue artwork is (fire emoji).

People outside of Georgia, myself included when I moved here, don't realize that Georgia has some awesome mountain terrain. It doesn't have all the 4k footers of the Whites or the above treeline stuff, but the North Georgia Mountains are really spectacular. Wander North Georgia is a great place to get ideas for adventures up there.

A photo posted by Joe Reynolds (@reynoldsjosephp) on

My good friend Joe Reynolds has been traveling lately, which means some great landscape photos like this one.

A photo posted by Tanner Foust (@tannerfoust) on

Tanner Foust was up in New Hampshire recently and I'm a sucker for some foliage and a gravel road.

A photo posted by Zachary Andrews (@zeeger6) on

Zach Andrews is an ultra runner from Alabama. I raced against him up in Chattanooga a few years ago and I've been following his runs through Instagram for a while now. He does a lot of epic stuff in Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, and North Carolina as part of the East Coast Ultra crew.

That's all for the first Trestle Run. It wasn't quite as short as I'd thought, but I'm long winded. Hopefully, I can keep cranking this out weekly. I haven't done anything like that since back in the Red Seat days, but we'll see. If you know what the Red Seat days are then you are truly a friend...or my mom.  

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Rad Run: Green Mountain - Boulder

I hopped on a bus up to Boulder and ran up Green Mountain. 8,100 feet at the summit. Woof.

Friday, September 30, 2016

Back to the Recaps

After taking about a month off from racing during training camp and the preseason, I've gotten back out there with a couple of races over the last few weeks. The first was the Back to Football 5K at the Georgia Dome, my first road race in about a year. The race is put on by the Falcons and the Atlanta Track Club and kicks off the NFL season by finishing at the 50-yard line inside the Dome.

The Back to Football 5K is a race I've done a couple of times, mainly because a bunch of people from work do it and you can't be the guy at the office that runs all the time and not do the 5K that everyone in the office is doing. Plus, I figured a 5K would be a good fitness test to see where I was after some steady running and decent workouts but no racing. Leading up to race day, I'd been averaging around 40 miles per week with a day off mixed in due to travel and/or late nights working with one track workout each week.

The workouts had been decent, nothing spectacular but I figured that 5:00 to 5:10 pace would be doable as long as I didn't go out too fast. Having run the race a couple of times in the past, I had a pretty good idea of the course. It's flat to mildly rolling with a nice downhill into the mile mark, a flat second mile, and a few rollers in the third mile. They did make slight change to the route with the construction of Mercedes-Benz Stadium, forcing an alternate finish from what this race has had in the past.

Starting at Falcons Landing, which is just outside the Dome, the course took us around Phillips Arena (home of the Hawks) and then down through a couple of neighborhoods. The new route featured a shorter run away from the Dome and got us onto Northside drive a little bit earlier. As a result of the change to the first two miles of the course, the race followed Northside all the way up to Ivan Allen before turning into the service entrance for the Dome and running underneath the World Congress Center.

Here's a better look...

Based on the workouts that I've done over the last few weeks, a lot of 5K & 10K pace stuff, I figured that I had a shot at running under 16 minutes, so that was my race plan. Try to go out around 5:10 pace and work the downhill sections. When I got to the start, I was blown away by the number of people there for the race, over 3000 total. Saw a few guys on the line that looked pretty legit, so I was a little nervous when everyone from work was asking me how much I was going to win by, or when my boss told me not to come into the office if I didn't win. I did a few strides and just told myself to relax and run my race. I knew what I was capable of running and I felt like that would at least keep me in contention.

I got out well at the gun but eased back on the throttle a little bit. As I get older, I need to be more mindful of how fast I go out. it makes zero sense for me to go out in 4:50 pace and then come home in 5:30 pace. The law of diminishing returns is for real. Anyway, I settled in at towards the front of the group, running in second or third for the first 400 meters before settling into second. I stayed there for the first half mile before glancing down at my watch and seeing that we were running about 5:20 pace. I felt confident that I could pick it up a little bit, so I eased into the lead just before we started to head downhill toward the mile mark.

The acceleration opened up a little bit of a gap, so I tried to settle into a good rhythm and keep stretching out my lead. I went through the mile around 5:05, perfect. I can't overstate how important the workouts I have been doing were to this race. Having done a bunch of work at 5:00/5:10 pace, I was confident that I would be comfortable running that fast, or at least I thought I would be and sometimes that's all you need.

I split two miles at 10:11, 5:06 for the second mile and that really bolstered my confidence. I also stretched out my lead and really took control of the race by that point. After two miles, I knew that all I had to do was maintain and I'd get the win, but I also knew that I'd have to stay on it if I wanted to get under 16 minutes. As we passed the Georgia Dome on our way up Northside Drive I was still feeling pretty strong, that was amplified with the ensuing downhill, but as I made the short climb up to the service entrance I started to feel the effort.

I took a quick glance back and saw that I had a big enough lead to win the race, but tried to focus on staying in a groove to finish as fast as possible. The service entrance was brutally long and just when it felt like the finish was never going to come, I dipped under the GWCC and made my way up the loading dock. I probably had a little too much fun coming out of the tunnel and into the final 50 meters, but I broke the tape at 15:53. I was pumped to get under 16 minutes, which I'm pretty sure is a 30+ PR for me.

Here's a quick video of my finish. Unfortunately, I didn't save my buddy's snap when he was yelling "First place alert! First place alert!"

Getting the win for @WildEnduranceVT in the Rise Up and Run 5k #RunAllOut
This is what the race looked like on Strava. I didn't stop my watch for about 15 seconds after the finish. That was one of the first times that I'd gotten to physically break the tape, so I wasn't really sure what to do with myself.

Race #2

The XTERRA Georgia series kicked off with the Harbins Park 10K last weekend. XTERRA has been one of my goals over the last couple of years. It's a fun challenge because the series stretches from September until August (it used to be May), so it's good motivation to try and stay in shape for the entire year.

Harbins Park kicks off the series and generally kicks off the beginning of Fall here in Georgia. I say generally kicks off Fall because by the time I finished the race it was nearly 90 degrees, but the last two years it has been cool and rainy. I've probably recapped this race three times already so I'll keep this one pretty brief. The course follows the hiking path, which is 4-6 feet wide for its entirety. It starts out fast, being mostly downhill for the first 2+ miles. The trail features a decent climb around the half way point, but it's pretty gradual so you just kind of have to grind your way up it. After that it's rolling and net uphill to the finish, which makes for a rough second half.

I need to talk to Ferenc about a longer singlet #croptop
I felt pretty confident going into this race. It's the kind of trail race the suits me well with wide trails and rolling hills that allow me to stay in a rhythm. The trail races I struggle with are the ones that have a lot of punchy climbs or a ton of tight twists and turns. Also anything with monster climbs. I'm not so great that those either. Coming off of the 5K and knowing the course, I felt like I had a good shot to run pretty well.

As is custom at most of these races, everyone let me go right to the front. I wasn't overly excited about that as there were a couple of guys there that I didn't recognize, but sometimes that's the kick in the ass that I need to snap out of 'I just want to cruise through this' mode and into race mode. I had a few guys nipping at my heals for the first half mile or so, which is run on a paved path, but things started to string out a little bit once we hit the trails. There were still two or three guys right on me until we hit the mile, but shortly after that I could feel them start to back off a little. The risk here is going out to fast with the first half being downhill, but I thought if I could get away by the top of the half way climb I'd be able to cruise the second half and get the win. Once I felt them let me go a little bit I decided to push on.

This strategy worked out pretty well. I tried to grind out the rollers really work the flat spots by getting into a good groove. I opened up a nice lead going into the climb and worked on maintaining my effort level to the top. Once I crested the climb, I tried to relax and recover a little bit before I started working my way back up to the finish over the second half. I started to feel the effects of the fast start around the four mile mark and really struggled to hold onto my form. I ended up hanging on for the win, but the last two miles were a real struggle.

As you can seen in the photo above, I was pretty gassed at the finish. I think the combo of a fast start and hotter than usual tempurature took a toll on me. I crossed the line in 36:45, averaging just under six-minute pace. Keeping the average under six was my goal going in and it's always great to be able to get a win. I actually ended up beating a guy from Colombia, so go USA. 

Here's the Strava info...

If you look at the pace analysis, you can see how the fast start changed the end of the race.

My next race won't be for about another month as I've got back to back road games with work, including a week long trip out to Seattle, so I'm missing the next race on the Dirty Spokes calendar. With trips to Denver and Seattle coming up, hopefully I'll get a few fun runs in that are worth writing about, so I'm not just recapping the same races over and over again. I've got a post coming on my recent trip to San Francisco and my impromptu 15 mile excursion to the Golden Gate Bridge soon, I swear.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Wedding Photos

Since we've been married for a month I guess it's time to share some photos.

the adventures of amanda & matt