Saturday, November 27, 2010

Atlanta Thanksgiving Half...

Can you call something that you have done three years in a row a "tradition"? If so, I suppose the Atlanta Half Marathon has become a tradition for me. This year, the course went from a point to point to a loop course so there was much anticipation and excitement over the changes at hand. In addition to the route change, this was the first year that there was not a full marathon to accompany the half. One of the big announcements this week was the date of the Atlanta Marathon. The race will be held on Sunday, October 30, 2011. (Side note, if you register before 12/31/10, the registration fee is $55 which is pretty cheap for a full marathon).

The past two years, I have volunteered at the race in addition to running. It can be a little challenging working out the logisitics of working right up until your corral passes over the start line but I highly recommend it! Last year I worked at the expo handing out race numbers and then race day at baggage check. Both were very fun jobs, you truly feel the excitement of the race! This year, I worked in Corral 4. You know, one of the people who try to make sure that only legit people get in the corral. As anyone who has run more than a few larger races know, the corrals do serve a purpose which is mainly to keep the race from being so congested once it starts. I am a pretty calm, follow the rules kind of person by nature. Apparently everyone is not that way. I was suprised how many people gave the volunteers a hard time for not letting them in a corral that they weren't supposed to be in. Given the chip timing, what difference does it really make?

Volunteer Pics

Me and my Dad (he and his wife Rita volunteered for finish line duties)

Once the first few corrals were sent on their way, my volunteer duties were over so I stuffed my volunteer fleece in my backpack and got ready to run. Normally, I wouldn't run with a backpack but couldn't figure out any other way outside of running with the vest on and it was a little too warm for fleece. The bag was a little annoying in the beginning but quickly got used to it. I have lived in Atlanta all of my life but really have settled into a comfort zone around my house and rarely venture into the downtown area to see some of the sights. For this reason, I was particularly excited for the new route. Some of things we ran by that I never have seen were the Martin Luther King Center and Oakland Cemetary. Oakland is a historic cemetary where Margaret Mitchell and golf legend Bobby Jones among many others are buried. We also ran past a homeless shelter. There were buses lined up to take them to go eat their Thanksgiving Dinner. Kind of a sobering sight.

The track club did an excellent job with water and signage. Each mile was clearly marked, there was plenty of water and gatorade every 2 miles and a sport beans stop around mile 8. The medal at the end was an improvement over previous years. I like for the ribbon to tie into the event instead of just being a plain color so to have the race name on the ribbon was a nice touch. All in all I think the track club did a great job!

My time was not a PR by any means. I wasn't really expecting one and just wanted to enjoy the race. I had been dealing with knee pain so I just slowed it down and soaked it all in. CR and I didn't have any big meal plans so ended up just staying at home and eating pizza. So very untraditional but we enjoyed it :)

Earlier in the week, I was interviewed by a local news station for a story on the race. Check it out here. I am the last one interviewed, not the pregnant lady or the man who lost 85 pounds in case you were wondering.

Today, I stepped back in to training for the Goofy Challenge in January. I had a 23 miler on the schedule and was so pleased that it went well! More on that later when I tell you about my experience with the Galloway method.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Looking Ahead...

My next race is the Atlanta Thanksgiving Half on, well, Thanksgiving... I have done the race for the past three years and really love that it is becoming a tradition for me. In the past, this race has been a point to point race. This year they are shaking things up a bit and changing the course. I am really looking forward to the change as it seems a lot of the Atlanta races tend to pick up the same route along Peachtree Street. I can't wait to see some new sights along the way!

Since I was getting up early anyhow, I decided to get up THAT much earlier and volunteer for the race before the start. My job will be to make sure no interlopers get into Corral 4 come race day. My Dad and Stepmom (Rita) will be passing out mylar blankets and medals so make sure you stop by and say "Hi" while you cruise through the finish area. ;)

If you aren't doing anything on Thanksgiving morning and happen to be in the Atlanta area, I know a great Half Marathon that is calling your name. They need quite a few more volunteers so if you are interested in keeping the peace in one of corrals or helping out in one of many other areas, go the Atlanta Track Club site and sign up now!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Chickamauga Battlefield Marathon

The Chickamauga Battlefield Marathon takes place in the Chickamauga Battlefield park. The 5300 acre park was the scene of the last major Confederate victory of the American Civil War. The park is in Fort Oglethorpe, GA which is a next door neighbor to Chattanooga, TN. If you are looking for a scenic back to nature, small town type race, this is your race. The marathon runs essentially through the park. We were only on stretches of what could be called a main road for maybe a half mile total. The rest of the race is run on paved roads within the park and winds through the various monuments. The monuments must have been erected at significant places in the battle as many of them seem to be just scattered about randomly. You are just running through the woods and there is some kind of monument to Illinois or a pyramid of cannonballs. It is really pretty interesting to think that a major battle took place right there roughly 150 years ago. My Uncle is a huge civil war buff and could give so many more interesting details than I could do here. If you are interested, you can buy his book here (insert shameless plug) ;)

and now for the rest of the story...

I made the 2 hour drive from home last night making it to the expo right as they opened. Did I mention this was a small race? I think there were 2 vendors at the expo which was fine with me as I had no spending money anyhow. I am used to mega-expos so this was a nice change of pace. In and out. Easy.

I can't remember how much the race registration fee was but as registration fees go I remember it being cheap. Considering the low entry fee, I was suprised that we were given a baseball cap and there were separate shirts for the half marathon and marathon. The half marathoners received a short sleeve tech tee while the marathoners got a nice long sleeve tech tee. I loved the slogan on the back "26.2 miles of history".

Getting to the start was a breeze. I got to the race at 6:45 for a 7:30 start. I literally got out of my car at 7:25 and walked 100 feet to the start. I loved not having to worry about a bag drop or freezing my booty off waiting for the start. The mayor gave a short speech, they had a brass band play the National Anthem to which most of the racers sang along and then BOOM the cannon goes off to start the race. An actual cannon shot off by civil war renactors. It was surprisingly loud!

The race has 700 runners total which were a mix of marathoners and half marathoners. The course was a loop course so the marathoners ran the loop twice. At several spots, the two races split off to do a dog leg to make up the mileage. If I were only running the half marathon, I would say I had a stellar half. Unfortunately, I ran a full... The weirdest thing. I was running 10 minute miles exactly for the entire first half. Once the half marathon runners split off for their finish, the wheels started falling off. I had this crazy pain in my hip so there was a lot of stopping to stretch it out. So very odd as I have never had that issue before. Had there been more aid stations on the course I might have stopped with a DNF but just kind of hobbled through it. If I kept running it actually felt better than walking. Eventually it would tighten up so I would stop and stretch it out again and get to running. Very strange. I powered through it and finished but it wasn't the time I thought I would have when I started. Not really disappointed as I kind of feel like I didn't stick to my training plan leading up to the race and through the taper so it wasn't like I did everything I should have to have a great race. I think my time was right at 5 hours which - UGH - but at least I beat Jared the Subway guy, right? LOL.

Post race, there was all kinds of food to be had - my Dad would have LOVED this part. Tons of pizza, cookies, and other typical post race food. They had a band playing and activities for the kids. Seriously it was small town america. So nice!

I slipped on some compression leg sleeves and hopped in my car literally 10 minutes after the race. This was my first time trying compression but am a believer. I was in serious pain during the run. By the time I got home 2 hours later, peeled myself out of the car and took a shower, my legs were fresh like I had not run at all. CRAZY.

All in all I loved the race. Truly a lovely course. I saw at least 6 deer cross my path at various times during the run. Not a lot of crowd support as the roads are a little isolated but they were there at the major intersections. The medal varies each year as they pay tribute to a different monument in the park. I think this year was Tennessee. OH - one more good thing about a small race, you might actually get a good race photo. At one point I was the only person for about 50 yards so the photogrpaher and I had quite the conversation as I ran toward him and he snapped shots. If I ever get a good race photo, that might have been my best opportunity! A few pics from the day, sorry there are not more but I was trying to be a zen runner and not have as many gadgets this time.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Taper Time!

Doesn’t everyone go on a four day tennis trip during the week before their marathon? Probably not the best idea for my race but I had a great time! The race this weekend has always been my B race so am not expecting any sort of PR – more of a goal to just finish it. I have decided marathons must be a lot like having children. The first is full of packing lists and fear of the unknown. The second marathon you strive to do better, you know what to expect and want to improve based on what you learned last time. This third race, well, I will be lucky if I remember to bring my running shoes. Seriously.

I was perusing the website for an idea of the hills that might be part of this race. I have decided that whether you think the race is hilly or not depends on where you live. The one review I read that I am hoping is correct said that “Atlantans would consider the race to be flat”. Good enough for me! As an Atlantan, I will take comfort in the relatively flatness. :) On a side note, there is nothing like reading race reviews to get you pumped up for the race. There are so many nice comments about the Chickamauga Marathon from the scenery to the cannon start and the post race food. I can’t wait!

I have bought a few GU Gels in anticipation of Saturday's race but have not given a lot of thought to it beyond a little mid race fuel. My prep for this weekend is completely different than the obsessive preparation I had for my first race. It is interesting how laid back I feel about it this time. To be honest, I have a very slight knee issue that concerns me so maybe I am avoiding a race prep to avoid thinking about the knee. After my last long run, my right knee hurt going down stairs. The pain after resting a few days was extremely slight and behind the knee cap but recurred this weekend after many hours of tennis. think it will be OK but a little unusual so hoping for the best.

This past weekend I was invited to go to Big Canoe in North GA with 11 other ladies from my tennis team. I am new to the team so it was a great chance to get to know everyone and was excited to be asked. I was a little concerned about messing up my running schedule but wanted to take part of the group outing so took a chance and threw my running plan out the window. We rented a 5 BR home and spent Friday through Monday playing tennis, eating and playing games. Such a great time! I brought my running shoes thinking I might get my 8 miles in that were on the calendar but when I saw the hills I quickly changed my mind! We are talking serious hills…

Some shots from the weekend...

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Food of the week...

As I might have mentioned before, CR and I tend to have odd schedules so there is definitely not a traditional, sit down together type meal in the evenings. Most weekends, I make one big pot of something and we eat that for the week, mixing in other things for variety. Last week it was vegetable soup that you might remember from a previous post. The funny thing about the soup was as I was letting it simmer I decided to go take a quick shower. I forgot to turn the eye down from "high" to "simmer" so by the time I got done it had reduced a bit. Not like a balsamic reduction or anything and there was no scraping food remnants off the bottom of the pot but the volume had definitely gone down.

As CR is eating the soup last night, he was going on about how great it was and how much thicker it was than usual. "Whatever you did this time, you need to do to it every time". LOL. From now on, taking a shower while the soup is on high and risking burning down the house will be part of the recipe.

Soup was soooooo last week. The big pot of something for this week is Beef Spinach Lasagna. My favorite boot camp instructor and all around training superstah, Herb Cables sent me this one. High marks. CR does not eat much spinach and he loved this dish! It has some unusual ingredients like nutmeg and red pepper flakes that give it a great flavor. If you are interested in Fitness Competitions or Bodybuilding, check out Herb's site here. He is quite the expert!

Beef and Spinach Lasagna

Makes 8 Servings

• 1 pound Extra Lean Ground Beef (I am thinking you could sub in turkey or a veg like carrots and squash here)

• 2 cup Fat Free Ricotta Cheese (I actually used cottage cheese)

• 2 big handfuls of Spinach

• 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

• 1 teaspoon crushed red-pepper flake

• 1 box of Whole Wheat Lasagna Noodles (cooked)

• 3 cups of Tomato Sauce (your choice of sauce)

• 1 teaspoon Basil

• 1 1/3 cup Low-Fat Mozzarella

• Salt and Pepper


1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Coat baking dish with no-stick spray.

2. Microwave spinach for about a minute until they soften

3. In a medium bowl, combine the ricotta, spinach, black pepper, salt, basil and nutmeg. Mix well.

4. Place a large no-stick skillet over medium heat until hot.

Crumble the beef into the skillet. Cook, for 5 minutes, or until the meat is no longer pink. Add the pepper flakes

5. Layer the bottom of the prepared baking dish with 3 of the lasagna noodles (must be cooked). Top with 1 cup of the tomato sauce and 1/3 of the beef. Spread the ricotta mixture over the beef and sprinkle with 1/3 cup of the mozzarella.

6. Top with a layer of noodles. Repeat the operation 2 times. Cover the last layer of noodles with 1/3 of mozzarella

7. Cover with foil and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until bubbling and heated through.

Nutritional Facts (Per Serving)

• Calories: 290

• Protein: 27g

• Carbohydrates: 32g

• Fat: 6g