Friday, April 27, 2012

I'd Better Start Running More Hills...

Between coming back from injury, and not being super motivated to really push myself yet since I don't have a long race until October (most likely the Atlantic City Half Marathon), I haven't been putting up the miles that I was last year nor have I been running the really hilly part of my local course.  

For those reasons, I was leaning toward skipping one of my favorite races from last year, the Dreaded Druid Hills 10K, this year.  But then I saw the shirt design:

So yeah, I think I'll limp through it, after all.  I was under 58 minutes in it last year.  I probably won't touch that this year, but DINOSAUR BONES!!!!!!!!!

Damn you, swag.  You've suckered me in again.

You can register for the Dreaded Druid Hills 10K here, but if you're faster than me I respectfully request that you sit this one out.

Thursday, April 26, 2012


It's been a little quiet around here again, I realize.  Maybe that's because I'm a lazy ne'er-do-well who hasn't run since Saturday's Sole of the City 10K.

It wasn't for lack of effort.  Well, ok, it was mostly for lack of effort.  I was going to run on Monday, but it was cold and rainy.  I like the cold, of course, but I just can't psyche myself up for cold and rainy.  Tuesday was very least I think that was my excuse, and on Wednesday (last night) we ran some errands and I was going to go out after the Orioles game, when it was cool and clear and beautiful, but I was tired.  

I should have gone out last night.  Instead, I went out ran 5 miles tonight at a decent pace, but was punished for idle-otry with massive humidity and tired, sore legs.  I don't think I was properly hydrated, and I blame the tired, sore legs more on that and my over-resting and a too-fast first two miles, but apparently the Brooks Adrenaline isn't quite the cure-all that it seemed to be last week.  Still, even though I really seem to be faster than in Tempos, the Adrenalines seem to be winning the shoe war.

I need to get a little more consistent; I seem to be stuck in a rut of really good week followed by a low-motivation week.  

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Race Report: Sole of the City 10K

There is a time to go for broke, and there is a time to not go for broke. As a runner who is a shadow of what I was last year at this time (not that that was elite or anything), I have to pick my battles.  Not every race can be a PR, and in a busy racing season, it's probably not wise or realistic to even have that as a goal.  (Though try telling that to Chris, who's PR'd in seven straight races going back to November!)  That's what I'm telling myself, anyway.  Maybe I even believe it.

I'd decided several weeks ago that I was going to push hard for a PR at either the Hershey 10K last Sunday or the Sole of the City 10K today, but not both.   I went way too fast out the gate at Hershey, died, somehow had an excellent negative split and finished with a 10K distance time that is a pretty significant outlier from any 10K time (race or not) that I've ever run before.  With that already under my belt, I decided I was going to take today nice and easy and have a good time, especially when I saw that the temperature was going to be quite a bit above my preferences.  I'd continue breaking in the new Brooks Adrenalines and try to run a good race, but not worry about busting my butt for fortune and glory.

So, in one sense:  mission accomplished. 57:17, much more in line with my usual 10K pace.  I felt like I paced myself better; my legs hurt a lot less than they did after both the Hershey 10K and my 6.3 at Cousler Park on Wednesday; and considering what a warm, sunny day it was, I felt good.  I followed my plan perfectly.

On the other hand, I thought I could come in a little under this, especially when I hit the 5K mark at just over 27 minutes, almost the same point I hit it at Hershey.  There was no sweet negative split this time, though.  In my defense, I see that my second-best 10K time this year was a 56:10 that I ran on a chilly night a month ago.  It was warm out there in Baltimore, and the sun was beating down pretty heavily for a good portion of this.  Don't get me wrong -- it was a beautiful morning, but a cold night is much more Brian-friendly running conditions.  But there's no arguing that I'm just not in the same shape yet that I was at Dreaded Druid Hills last year, where I was only 20 seconds slower than this on a much hillier course.  (I'm currently undecided whether I'll give the DDH 10K another try this year or wait till next.)

Race Review
I had a good time and I would run this race again.  There's nothing super distinctive about it that I would really plan my schedule months in advance to make sure that I'm around for it, but I think that's true of the vast majority of races; it's not really meant as a criticism. Other than the Shamrock races in Virginia Beach, I'm not sure that I've found that "Wow!  That was such a fun race I have to run this every year!" race (and since Virginia Beach is 1000 hours away, every year is not going to happen there, either).  I like that we're trying some new ones this year, and I enjoyed this one.

I thought it was well-organized, a challenging course, and the post-race festivities were fun, although we didn't stay very long since our friends were leaving and we felt more like breakfast food than Greene Turtle wraps (I have mine in the fridge, though, so I'll update in a future blog post if it's notable either way.)  Charm City Run did a nice job with it, and yes, we did check out their new McHenry Row store, which was probably their point, anyway.

A couple things stood out about it.  Whoever sung the National Anthem (I'll try get their names) was spectacular.  Great job!  The swag was nice. (The Under Armour quarter-zip pullover premium is nice and the regular race shirt seemed nice, too.)  And lastly but certainly not least, Chris and I both appreciated that we ran the Inner Harbor-Key Highway loop that every downtown Baltimore race seems to have in the opposite direction of the other races we've done (I've done MCVET 10K and the now-defunct Orioles 5K, she's down the Baltimore Women's Classic, and we've both done the St. Patrick's Day Parade 5K).  However, the Key Highway to Inner Harbor and back direction definitely made the second half of the race hillier and tougher than the first half!  

My only criticism (other than to have the race on a cooler day!) was that I didn't think the mile markers were prominent enough.  I missed mile markers 1, 4, and 6 (if there was a 6).  Only of our group of friends saw all of them, and I heard others say that they missed them, too.  On the plus side, at least they were mile markers. (Yes Hershey 10K, I'm looking at you).

Friday, April 20, 2012

Shins, Swag, and 10K Friday Ramblings

Thank Goodness It's Friday bullet points, again:
  • During my run on Tuesday night, I left the Shuffle at home since I didn't want to get hit by a car.  That left me plenty of time to overanalyze my splits from the Hershey 10K, and even more than before I am wondering if some of the course markings were misplaced.  I didn't have my Garmin, but here are the splits that I remember:
    - 5K: 27:00
    - 8K:  40:48
    -10K:  52:33
    Individually, each of these make sense.  27:00 is a pretty average  5K training time for me (I'm usually faster on race day).  My 8K PR at super-flat Shamrock was 41:40, so to be ahead of that is surprising, but out of the realm of possibilities.  My 10K finish time is in line with where I was at the 8K mark and how I was feeling at that point -- on my tired legs I was back at my usual 10minute-mile pace for the last 1.2 miles. And while it's considerably faster than I what I thought possible in this race (I thought the 54s or 55s was best-case scenario), I ran this very aggressively compared to my only other 2 10Ks (The first was my first time at that distance, period.  The second was the super-hilly Druid Hills 10K).

    What doesn't make sense is the combination of the three.  At Shamrock, I hit the 5K mark at right around 25 minutes.  At Hershey, it appears I ran 3K, almost exactly 2 miles, in 13:48.  I can get into into the low 6-minute mile range for one mile, but I'm just not that fast over two.  If anyone reading this ran the Hershey 10K, let me know what you think of the mile markers? (I'm pretty sure that last quarter km, at least, was super-wrong!).

    Or, maybe I did run the fastest 3K of my life in the middle of a 10K. 
    Do not try to bend the spoon — that's impossible. Instead, only try to realize the truth: there is no spoon.
  • I picked up our packets for the Sole of the City 10K last night. I admit that I love swag, and this is a pretty nice premium:


  • My strategy for this race is still to take it conservatively and just have fun.  My legs still felt tired on Tuesday, and yesterday morning's 6.3 mile run at Cousler Park ended with considerable soreness in my left shin.  Not the usual place, this time, but closer to the knee.  I don't think it's serious, because I feel better this morning, but I hope it's not my the new Adrenalines which I really like.  It was cool yesterday morning, but the humidity was oppressive.  I've always felt like the humidity takes a lot out of me and that I feel worse all over after a really humid run, so I'm just going to blame that, hydrate, and foam roll the crap out of it, and whatever happens at Sole of the City happens. The weather sounds like it'll be in the high 60s and either rainy or very humid, so this is not the time to be a hero. Race report on Saturday or Sunday.
Until then, Run Happy or Get Revenge!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

First Miles: Brooks Adrenaline GTS 12

A few weeks ago, I second-guessed my recent purchase of a pair of Adidas adiZero Tempo 4s, worrying that their lack of stability was going to spell doom for my IT bands.  Well, that hasn't happenned (yet).  I've been running in the Tempos and can't argue with the results:  Two races, the Shamrock 8K and Hershey 10K, and PRs in both of those distances. The Tempos are comfortable, well-ventalated, and light.  It's amazing what a difference 3oz makes from the Supernova Sequence 4s I'd been running in, but I feel faster in the Tempos.  (I'm not always actually faster, in reality.)  Bottom line is I like them a lot.

Still, the downside to them is that, relative to the Supernova Sequence, there's a lack of stability and cushioning.  The Tempo isn't a minamalist shoe by any means, but it's been a pretty big change from what I'm used to.  I notice the lack of cushioning, I do feel like there's a little more rolling in my ankles, and I've noticed some twinges of ITBS.  Nothing like the painful flare-up I had 14 months ago, but there.  

So, I decided to get a shoe with a little more stability as I eventually (and with warm temperatures here already and summer approaching, I'm in no hurry) build up distance again. I'd gotten a pair of Sequences ordered for me, but after trying them on I found that preferred the other shoe that I'd been considering when buying the Tempo:  the Brooks Adrenaline.  Brooks' motto is "Run Happy."  My motto is "Revenge!"  It seems like a good match.

It's a stability shoe, but lighter than the Sequence and less than an ounce heavier than the Tempo.  The cushioning in the Adrenaline, and other Brooks shoes I'd tried on previously, had felt very foreign too me (in my experience, you don't feel the cushioning in any of the Adidas I've run with -- I don't mean their hard, but the insole feels flat).  I had a gout flare-up at the time, so I wasn't going to do more than jog a little outside the store, but the Sequences just felt noticeably heavier to me.  They've been a good shoe for me, but if I can have the lightness of the Tempo and the stability of the Supernova in the Adrenaline, it seemed worthwhile to go in a different direction.

Having run the Hershey 10k considerably faster than I thought possible, and  in considerable pain afterward, I decided that I'm not going to kill myself for a PR in the Sole of the City 10K this weekend, so it seemed like a good week to break in the new shoes.  I took my first run in the Adrenalines last night, will hopefully get out tomorrow, and plan on wearing them for the 10K on Saturday.

Last night's run was 5 miles and I was really impressed.  The Adrenaline's weight difference with the Tempo doesn't seem noticeable while the increased stability and softer cushioning where.  My quads were still tired from Sunday, but my feet felt great!  The Tempos seem better ventilated, so they might be cooler in the summer, although that wasn't an issue last night (cool, but humid).  I felt good and felt like I was running hard, but my time, 47:30, didn't show that -- it's right where I usually am in a 5-mile training run.  Whichever pair of shoes I'm wearing these days, I just don't have a good feel for effort vs. pace right now.

I like both pairs of shoes.  Tentatively, my plan is to wear the Tempos for any 5K or 8K race, most training runs of 3-5 miles, and probably any 10K where I'm shooting for a PR (my time at Hershey is a pretty big outlier from any 10K race or training run I've ever done, so I might not touch that again this year even if I try!).  The Adrenalines will get the nod for any longer training runs, any 10-mile or half marathon races (I suspect I'll get there while this pair still has mileage left on it), and any shorter distance runs when I'm tired or sore and just want a little extra support.  If I like the Adrenalines as much as I think I will, they'll probably be my marathon shoe of choice as I get myself back in Shamrock Marathon condition. 

I've always had one pair of running shoes at a time (not counting the retired pairs I use for biking or the gym), but since I have both I might as well use them.  I'll decide over the next couple of months it's worth getting new sets of both models as they wear out, or if one of them will "win".  To that end, I'll try some longer runs in the Tempos to see how my IT bands hold up, and run some 5Ks in the Adrenalines, too.

In the past, I've mentioned some of the advanced technology contained in my running shoes (Pro Moderator, Adidaprene, Geofit), and don't worry, the Brooks Adrenaline GTS 12 has lots of top secret tech, too.

Apparently, the shoe is filled with DNA.  What kind of DNA?  I don't know.  I'm sure it's classified, but I suspect it's the DNA from ground-up cheetahs.  That would make sense, right?

The DNA is apparently stored in this round particle accelerator on the sole of the shoe.

Is this legal?  Is it safe?  I don't know.  I just don't know.  

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

And the Winner of the First Annual Earn Your Donuts Bad Race Photo Contest Is...

I know all of my 28 readers have been anxiously awaiting this announcement, so I apologize to them and especially to the two contestants, for the delay.

Danny, who blogs at "Math on the Run" sent us this entry:
XLMIC who blogs at "Taking it On", shared this entry:

The voters have spoken, and our winner is Danny!  I'd make a joke here about my low voter turnout, but I don't want to detract from the seriousness of this contest.

Thank you both for entering! Danny wins a $35 Road ID gift certificate and XLMIC wins a $15 Dunkin Donuts gift card.  I'll be contacting you about how to send your prizes.

I am also very appreciative of the support of RoadID and Inside PR, who contributed the first-place prize.

Thanks also to everyone that read these posts and voted.  I'll probably do this again next year.  It was fun for me, and hopefully others enjoyed it as well.  Maybe I can get more participants with prize winners to vouch that I didn't sell their e-mail to spammers or send them a box of cats or something like that.  I know that I've already got some new bad race photos of my own that it will give me a chance to share.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Race Report: 2012 Hershey 10K

So...hello blog. It's been awhile. I ran the Hershey 10K today, but first, I'll catch everyone up on my boring running adventures.

When I last checked in here, I was worried about some left leg problems that seemed to be related to the mystery bump (varicose veins for any new readers) on my left upper ankle. I crashed and burned on Monday of last week after only a mile and a half. On Wednesday, I suffered through three miles but had a lot of pain in my ankle and left shin. It turned out that I had a pretty painful flare up of gout (more on this in another post) in my left two that peaked Thursday and Friday. I think dehydration (which seems to be one of the contributing factors to my gout flare-ups) also seems to make my ankle/shin problems worse, and I think the swelling from the gout made my mildly sprained ankle hurt more. I was going to run last Friday, but I took one step and knew my toe was too inflamed.

I hydrated carefully through the weekend, did lots of stretching and foam rolling, and made a decent comeback this week: 5 miles on Monday, 2 on Wednesday (cut short due to rain and I think a little sleet, which stopped as soon as I got back to my car), and 6.2 on Friday, though my legs felt very tired and weak, though not sore, during it.

I thought I could make it through the Hersey 10K, but I wasn't expecting great things.

Race Day
The start time for the inaugural Hershey 10K was 7:00am, and we wanted to be on the road around 5:15-5:20 to give ourselves plenty of time in case there was congestion around Hershey, since there were potentially 2500 participants (the race ended up not selling out). This means I got up at 4:00 so I would have plenty of time to get ready, eat half a peanut-butter sandwich, drink some water, and do all my IT band stretches.

It turned out, there was nothing to worry about. We left a little late, but there was no traffic and we got to Hersheypark Stadium at about 6:20. The temperature was in the mid 50s (I'm was supposed to be 60 but it felt cooler than that) and it was misting a bit. The humidity would prove rather oppressive, but the temperature and rain wouldn't be too much of a problem.

I ran this race stupidly. The gun went off a few minutes after 7:00am, and I made some important tactical errors very early in the race. Typically, I line up too far toward the back of the pack, and find myself weaving through the crowd like Brian Westbrook. Today, I was too far toward the front. I found myself sprinting out of the gate and going full-tilt for the about the first 2K. As a result of my poor pacing, I found myself hurtin' very early in the race.

We're running two 10Ks in back-to-back weekends (Next weekend is the Sole of the City 10K in Baltimore), and my plan was to go hard for a PR in one of them.

I'd felt this race would be flatter and would give me a better shot, despite my pre-race tiredness. Well, after burning myself out early, I hit the 5K mark right at 27 minutes. While that wouldn't be one of my better 5Ks, it did put me on pace to finish under 57:37, my current 10K PR. But I was tired from my too-fast start, and the course was hillier than I was anticipating, with a long, soul-crushing incline up Hersheypark Drive before a brief respite right around the 5K mark.

Still, apparently, I rallied. I hit the 8K mark at 40:48, under my 8K PR time at the flat-as-a-board Shamrock 8K. I knew that as long as I didn't completely crash, I had a significant PR on my, feet and if I could run a great last 1.2 I could finish under 50 minutes.

Well, I crashed, but not completely. Though I felt like I had nothing left, I ran the last kilometer, entering the stadium and finishing the race in 52:33, a PR by over 5 minutes, meaning that I actually had a nice negative split on this race! I ended up running that last 1.2 miles at about my normal pace. Not bad at all considering that I felt like death.

I'm quite sore now, much more sore than I should be after this distance. I'm really thrilled with my time in this one, but it's clear that especially after what was basically an unplanned week off last week and a kind of mediocre week this week up until today, I'm not yet back in condition to have run this race this fast. I'll plan on taking it a little light this week, probably a 3-miler on Tuesday or Wednesday and then hopefully a 6-miler on Thursday. I'm not going to press myself for a PR at Sole of the City, just have fun and probably finish in about an hour.

Race Review
My enjoyment of this race was pretty much hampered by my idiotic sprint at the start, which left me in considerable discomfort for most of the race. I thought the Hershey 10K was a good event, and I'd run it again or recommend it to others. The course was hillier than I anticipated, but not terrible. It's fun to run through the park. (The course loops around the Hershey Entertainment Complex parking lot past the Giant Center, up Hersheypark Drive toward the outlets, and through parts of the park and then through the tram loop back toward the stadium). The race shirt is nice, the goodie bag is nice, and you get to see the Hershey Bears' mascot, Coco (Bears Bears Bears Woooooooo!). Mid Atlantic Timing had chip time results visible on a screen just past the finish line and had results on the web by the time we got home.

There's a few things I would change. The course markers were in kilometers. I've run two other 10Ks and both were marked in miles. I think in miles (I mean, come on! This is America.), and I forgot Garmin. The race directors did mark the course very thoroughly. In addition to large flags marking each kilometer, there were smaller signs marking distance every quarter-kilometer. However, the last quarter-kilometer seemed badly mis-measured. It was half a kilometer if not half a mile. I don't think it was just me -- I heard several other finishers talking about it as I watched for Chris to make the turn into the stadium.
Still, basically I'm an idiot who can't pace myself and I'm a double idiot for not remembering my GPS.

I also wish Coco would have stuck around longer after the race for photos. What's the point of an adorable -- I mean intimidating! -- anthropomorphic hockey-playing bear mascot if he doesn't hang around for pictures?

(Coco in his natural habitat.)

Overall, though, good race and thanks to the race directors for a good time. Time for a nap.

Note: My apologies to my two Bad Race Photo Contest contestants. I'll announce winners and get prizes sent out this week.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Hopefully Minor Setback

Considering where I started the year, I had a really good week of running last week, in which I ran a fast 10K-distance, challenged myself on some hills, ran my longest run of the comeback tour (7 miles) and racked up 20 miles total for the week. I've really felt good since returning from Virginia Beach, so I guess I was overdue for a bad run.

I just didn't expect it to be this bad: 1.4 miles in 12:38, bailed out with some left leg issues: Ankle felt sprained and swollen, calf was very tight, and lots of soreness on the on muscle outside of the shin/shin (didn't feel quite like my shinsplints, but like that muscle was tight/cramping). With two 10Ks coming up this month, I elected to just walk back to my car and live to fight another day. Wimpy, but I ran 7 miles on Friday, I felt like anything I gained by suffering through a painful 3 wasn't worth making something worse.

I've got a couple theories. The ankle problem is weird. Now that I'm not running, it feels stiff but doesn't really hurt. I did sprain my ankle on either Monday or Wednesday last week (can't remember which), and it didn't bother me during my runs on Friday or Saturday, though it was intermittently sore throughout the week. I also know that I forgot to foam roll my shins before leaving, so maybe that had something to do with the muscle pains in that area. Pacing's a problem for me lately -- I didn't feel winded, despite the high pollen count, but I know I started out my run going much faster than my normal pace. That probably didn't help. Lastly, after a weekend in which I celebrated a little too much with some of our college friends, I'm probably still a bit dehydrated. I'm not sure which of those things, if any, was the main culprit for today's bad run. I'll try again on Wednesday.

If this is a real setback and not just a bad run, the timing stinks: Chris and I just signed up for the Hershey 10K, on April 15 today, and we've got the Sole of the City 10K on April 21. No reason for me to panic yet. I'm a little concerned, but decent runs on Wednesday and Friday will reassure me.