Saturday, December 7, 2013

Number 45 - 26th Annual Jingle Jog 5K

It's not too often when you show up at a race and find more people dressed in Santa hats or as an Elf than not :)  For race number 45, I did the 26th Annual Jingle Jog 5K and there were plenty of festive dressed people, they even gave us jingle bells for our shoes...

What I really like about this race, they encourage all to  purchase and bring an unwrapped gift to donate.  The Salvation Army truck is there, with the band playing Christmas songs.  It was just nice.

This is really just a fun race with a big theme - Christmas!  It is not a serious race (for those who actually do take racing these serious).  In other words I suspect one would not qualify their time in this race for the Peachtree Road Race.  The course started and ended in the Perimeter Mall parking lot, parking was super easy.

It was a quick course with many of the people just enjoying it - running, walking, jogging, it did not matter - folks were there for a fun time.

I was quite amazed at the sponsors at the end of the race - you could actually get stuffed partaking of it all:

Trader Joe's (hot cider!) with Santa and Mrs. Claus 
Firehouse Subs
Jim & Nicks Bar-B-Q, sliders & Brunswick Stew
Uncle Julio's
any many more!

I do  a lot of races and I do not think I've ever seen so many at a finish line.  It was nice of them to provide this.

After the race, it was still before 9:00 AM, had plenty of energy - headed up to Suwanee Greenway and walked another 12 miles.  The energy was gone after that!  It was a good morning.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Number 44 - 2013 Atlanta Half Marathon


It is not suppose to be this cold in Atlanta for Thanksgiving!

It was a crazy cold day for the 2013 Atlanta Half Marathon.  More than 8000 people signed up to do this race but the race results show that 6728 actually did the race.  Do you think the others basically said "too cold" and just stayed in bed?  Maybe they're the smart ones  : )

Although the race did not start until 7:30 AM, I volunteered to help out with crowd control prior to the start so I had to be there by 5:15ish.  Of course when I signed up for this I had no idea it would be this cold.  This meant besides figuring out what to wear for a race in these temps I also had to have more layers on for the two hours or so in the freezing cold before the start. This actually worked out well as the organizers wanted participants to have that top layer and take it off just before the race started as a donation to folks who have a need for some warm clothes.  This was good - the Atlanta Track Club volunteers would pick the items up, the ATC would wash them and donate them via

So there I was at 5:15, with a lined, hooded jacket and a fleece scarf over my race clothes looking for the volunteer check in tent.  But first, needed to use the porta-potty.  I was in luck, there were hundreds of them and of course at 5:15 there were no lines.  Life is good!  Oh wait a minute, they all had zip lock straps on them and I have nothing that will cut through.  Hmmmm...  Continued to look, got lucky found one not locked!  Great!  Took care of business and quickly discovered NO toilet paper!  Oh great!  No one around, in the dark, in a freezing porta-potty at 5:15 AM...

Exited the porta-potty a few minutes later minus one fleece scarf whose destiny served a different purpose.  I guess it was a good thing it was cold enough to have that scarf!  Lesson learned, again, always check first...

Next found the volunteer check-in tent.  This year was a bit different, it was definitely more secure.  I suspect this is byproduct of the Boston Marathon bombing.  This year we were issued credentials to be worn on a lanyard while working our volunteer shift.

Met the rest of the volunteers for Corral "E" and we moved into location.  We were freezing, especially toes and fingers.  I tell you, we are not use to 23 degrees in Atlanta!  As the 7:30 start approached I shed my jacket over the fence and we started moving closer to the starting line.  Was not quite sure what to do with the lanyard & credential so I just flipped it over my back and forgot about it.  Closer and closer we got to the start.  The start was under the Olympic Rings from the 1996 Summer Olympics:

And we were off!  The first couple miles, as usually, were very crowded.  But that is to be expected in any big race - it's just part of it.

A couple of things happened in this race that I had not seen before:

The first thing, because of the freezing temperature there was a pretty significant ice problem around the water stations.  Inevitably water gets spilled, this is normal.  However, the road was cold enough and the air was cold enough for that to form ice.  Much caution had to be exercised when going through these areas.  Again, in the deep south, we are just not use to this  : )

Second, I was moving along the course, minding my own business, and a runner (who I do not know) pulls up besides me and says "why weren't there enough parking spaces for the race"?  My initial reaction was, she's not talking to me, she must be talking to someone else.  Nope, she was taking to me.  Her tone was not a making conversation on the course tone, she was complaining to me that she had to pay $10 for parking.  This puzzled me, why was she picking on me?   About a half mile or so later I figured it out - she saw the credential on the lanyard that I flipped over my back when I switched from volunteer to race participant.  I did not have have the chance to tell her - I'm just a volunteer.

And last, I'm still not sure if I should have laughed at this or felt sorry for these people.  This happened in between mile 3 and mile 4 in the half marathon.  A little background first - there were two races today - a half marathon (13.1 miles) and a 5K (3.1) miles.  They were different courses with different starting areas and the half started at 7:30 and the 5K started at 8:00.  Well these three people were talking to one of the course monitors (volunteer who makes sure car traffic does not interfere) and basically were asking where the finish line was.  I think they were 5Kers who for whatever reason started with the half marathoners at 7:30!  They expected the race to end a 3.1 miles.  I have no idea how that one was ever resolved.

It was a good race.  It was a really good workout.  I walked the entire race in 2:56, had an average heart rate of 135, and according to my Garmin, burned 1410 calories.  That meant I could enjoy that turkey dinner even more!  And as usually each finisher gets a medal:

2013 Atlanta Half Marathon medal

Also, the race organizer - Atlanta Track Club - as a token of their appreciation for volunteering, gave us each a commemorative embroidered jacket.  Much appreciated!

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Race 43 - Chickamauga Battlefield Half Marathon

For race #43 in my quest to do 100 races before retiring (from work), I did the Chickamauga Battlefield Half Marathon.

The battlefield is about 10,000 acres and is located in northwest Georgia.  Prior to the race I did read up on  this Civil War battle and the facts about it were in my mind virtually the entire time during the race:

A three day battle in September 1863

125,000 Soldiers (60,000 Union  65,000 Confederate)

Estimated Casualties: 34,624

1,657 killed
9,756 wounded
4,757 missing & captured

2,312 killed
14,674 wounded
1,468 missing & captured

While on the course I tried to imagine what that must have been like for those soldiers.  I also wondered what they would think of us 150 years later doing a foot race where all of this took place.

The Race:

Since Mary & I drove up the night before it was no problem getting to the race on time (so glad we drove the 125 miles the day before instead of the morning of :)  Had plenty of time to look around - one of things I noticed, the Civil War cannon - I had heard they fire the cannon for the start of the race (and they did).

It was a chilly 29 degrees at the start of the race - think everyone wanted to get the race started just to warm up.

and we were off..

There was so much to see and read on this course. I found myself stopping and taking pictures of things that explain what was going on in the location during the battle.  I really want to come back here again (when it's warmer & not a race).  However, following are a few of the pics I took:

Baldwin's Brigade

Sept. 19, 1863 3 PM
3 men killed, 4 men wounded, 3 horses killed, 3 wounded
typically do not see things like this during a race
so many cannons
As you can tell, I'm not really "racing" in these races.  I do them for exercise and they actually are fun.  I walked this entire race in 2:57 (about 13:30 per mile) so it was a a good workout.  I do want to come back and really spend some time taking in all this history.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Race 42 - White Mountain Milers Half Marathon

So it's early Tuesday morning, about 20 degrees outside, listening to the radio - 93.5 WMWV in North Conway, New Hampshire...

Nice warm fire on a cold New Hampshire morning
and the sports report comes on and the first thing they broadcast - the results of the White Mountain Milers Half Marathon!   It even got reported before they reported the Boston Red Sox taking a 3-2 lead over the Cardinals in the World Series!

In a state with the motto "Live Free or Die" there is a running group with the motto "Run Free or Die", the White Mountain Milers and they hosted the 28th annual White Mountain Milers Half Marathon.  I had the opportunity to do this race with my daughter last Sunday in North Conway, New Hampshire.

Temp in the 30s for the beginning of the race

Besides doing this race with Jen, I was also looking forward to it because they had a "Walking Division" that you could sign up for it - so I did.  So this race was to be a bit different from any of the other 41 I've done so far because I actually had a chance at placing 1st, 2nd, or 3rd in the Walking Division.

We got to North Conway early enough to pick up our race bibs and cycle through the porta-potty line one time.  They asked during the announcements to line up according to your minutes/mile pace so I made my way towards the back.  I was hoping to walk the race in the 12-13 minute/mile range so I got to the sign that said 12:00 and waited for the race to start.

The race started out on the backside of the Schouler Park Train Station and I could see the guy way up front with the air-horn as the race started.  My assumption was (as this was a chip timed race) that my time would start when I crossed over the start line.  But as I approached the start, I didn't see any starting mats.  Hmmm... so I figured it was chipped timed at the end only.   So around the start line I started my Garmin.  Basically it added a minute or so to my overall time.  Funny, usually I could care less about this type of thing as I do these races for fun, health, & exercise - but since I was actually trying to place in this race I was not happy about losing that time :)  Oh well.

The race took us through the main street in North Conway and plenty of people were there cheering everyone on.  By the time we were at mile 1 the crowd support thinned out.  But in a ~600 person race, that is pretty normal.

The hills were not too bad in this course.  The only thing that was a bit frustrating (and a bit scary at times too), they did not block traffic on the majority of the course and we were all on the side of the road with traffic.  Most drivers were very considerate and took plenty of precaution not to hit us, a few were driving way too close - was not happy with them.  Most of the main intersections either had a member of the local P.D. or a race volunteer.  There were no problems at those intersections.

Since I was actually trying to place in this race, I did not stop to take any pics during it.  There were plenty of very picturesque views - the White Mountains provided some incredible views, quite a few farms, and my favorite - a covered bridge from 1890.

My chip time for this race was 2:48:39, a 12:52 mile pace and this qualified me for 2nd place in the Walking Division.  It was a good race.

Afterwards was fun as we had a lot of family there supporting Jen & me.  It always adds a really nice dimension to the race when family is there at the finish line!  My sister and brother-in-law treated us to lunch in one of the shops in downtown North Conway - it was very nice and much appreciated!

Later that night we had a surreal experience for a post race desert treat - ice cream from the Sandwich Creamery.  Luckily Jen & Will knew the way there (it would be really hard to find in the dark not knowing where you are going, it is really in the middle of nowhere) and the surreal part - it's the honor system!  No one is there, it's self serve from a freezer of prepackaged half pints, pints, quarts.   You just put your money in the slot for the ice cream you take.  It may have been the best ice cream I've ever had!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Bear Hair Gap Trail

Although this was plan "B", it turned out to be a really good hike.  With a 5:00 PM wedding to attend up in the North Georgia mountains and my desire to hike the Appalachian Mountains in Georgia (in sections), this was the perfect opportunity to hike a portion of another segment of the A.T.  The plan was to park near Neels Gap and do an out and back hike.  Good plan except the parking area was beyond filled - nowhere to park.  Plan "B", head north to Vogel State Park and see what we could find.

Bear Hair Gap Trail

Vogel State Park has four trails:

- Byron Herbert Reece Nature Trail  ( .8 mile )
- Trahlyta Lake Trail  ( 1 mile )
- Bear Hair Gap Trail ( 4.1 miles )
- Coosa Backcountry Trail ( 12.9 miles )

The choice was obvious for us this day.

More energy was spent in the first half of the hike with the elevation gain.  It was not too bad, but it was definitely noticeable.

Some of the things we saw on the trail:

this deserved a close up

Vista at the top

Huge granite boulders on the back side

And we made it to the wedding in time (after a quick shower - but no nap!)...

Ashley & Matt's Big Day!

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Race 41 - 13.1 Atlanta

Did the 13.1 Marathon in Atlanta this morning..  This race is so close to home it's just hard to pass it up.  Think just shy of 3000 people did the race.

Typically races of the distance of 13.1 miles are referred to as "half marathons" because it is half the distance of a "full" marathon which is 26.2 miles.  But not this race/series, they are referred to as 13.1 Marathon.  I think this all stems from some who do not think that a pretty tough event distance (13.1 miles) should be referred to as half of something else.  Oh well - any way you name it, completing 13.1 miles is hard.

With the race organizers telling us that parking would be limited (and suggested taking Marta (Atlanta's subway))  figured I should get there even earlier than I typically do : )  Arrived with plenty of time to spare, enjoyed a bunch of tunes on the iPod, very relaxing prior to a race.  So relaxed, noticed a resting heart rate of 45,  figured I should walk around, before a fell asleep!

One of the things I really like about this race is how organized they are.  They do this race series, 13.1 Marathon, all over the country so I guess they have some really good race day set up experience.   The volunteers were setting up the finish line area when I got these shots:

The bling table - medals, medals, medals,...
My favorite post race drink - ice cold chocolate milk!
Eventually got to my starting area.  Basically they had three areas, area A & B for fast runners and area C for everyone else.  But in area C there were signs with expected finish times so you could position yourself in the right area.  It all worked out pretty good.  The one odd thing about this race, it started at 7:00 AM with sunrise at 7:31 AM.   Not a problem, just different.

just before the start, in the dark

My plan for this race was to walk the entire race with a goal time of in between 2:40 and 2:50.  I've done half marathons in the past in that range but that was when I was still doing some running mixed in with the walking.   So that was my challenge in this race.

The only thing that stands out in my mind about the course was the hills.  None of them were "killer" hills but there were quite a few of these rolling hills.  Hills always makes it harder (heart rate rising) and always takes longer.

Finish time was 2:45.29, 12:37/mile.  I met my goal.  My reward - ICE COLD CHOCOLATE MILK!!!

And it was good.

Oh yeah, almost forgot, the bling...

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Race 40 - Duluth Fall Festival 5K

I walked the Duluth Fall Festival 5K this morning.  This was my 7th time doing this race, four times as a runner, twice as a walker/runner, and this time as a walker.  This morning I had an average pace of 12:07 per mile for a finish time of 37:39.  Ironically, my walking time this year was faster than my walking/running time last year.  The bottom line for me on the walking, no knee pain!

This is a fun race for me.  It's close to home, the Fall Festival is going on with lots of activity before and after the race, it's just a good community type thing.

This year four of us did the race.  My son, his fiance,  my wife, and I made our way to the starting line on a beautiful, crisp Fall morning, with temps in the mid 50s and enjoyed the race.  This was a very special race for my wife as it was her first race!

Raney, Daniel, me, Mary after the race

And of course, for participating we all received a 28th annual Fall Festival 5K, 100% cotton, long sleeved t-shirt!

Perfect timing as we make our way into the cooler weather!

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Race 39 - R4TF Trail Half Marathon

Finally, another race!  This was race #39, R4TF (Race for the Fallen) trail half marathon at Red Top Mountain in Cartersville, GA.  2nd time I've done this race, it supports the PBF (Police Benevolent Foundation) to provide financial support for the families and survivors of officers whose death occur in the line of duty.

As always, I start watching the weather about 10 days out from any race I'm doing.  Rain and possible thunder & lightning is basically what I saw the entire time.  The rain does not bother me during a race, lightning does.   Luckily we just had rain.

The day started early with a 50 mile drive to Red Top Mountain State Park but not before a stop at Quik Trip for coffee and some simple carbohydrates.  Got there, in the dark, with plenty of time to spare - no problem though, prefer this to rushing at the last minute.

parking in the dark, in the rain, in an open field in the woods - it's a trail race!
check in is a breeze in smaller races :)
and plenty of time to cycle through a few times...

As it got light we headed over to starting line and we were off.  Only a slight drizzle coming down at the beginning.

The first mile was on the road which allowed me to alternate between brisk and fast walking without any problem.  However once on the trail, with the rocks, roots, ups, downs, switchbacks,...  well the terrain pretty much dictated fast vs. brisk and at times, slow.  My idea of alternating between those will probably only work in a road race.  Oh well.

The race really was uneventful.  Everything went pretty smooth - I did not get lost in woods - there was great signage telling us which way to go, I did not fall, they had plenty of aid stations with water, Gatorade, fruit.  The only frustrating thing was not being able to see my pace, mileage, heart rate, time on my watch after about mile 4 - with the rain, humidity, body heat, my glasses were fogged up.

finishing the race at mile 13

I finished in 2:58:33, soaking wet!  It was a really good workout.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Race 38 - Virtual Race for Medals4Mettle: A Suburban Hike

I recently came across a different type of race - a virtual race.  A virtual race is basically a fundraiser that you can do at anytime (usually within a date range) and anywhere.  So for my 38th race I did the Swagtastic Virtual Race for Medals4Mettle.  They had three distance choices: 5K, 10K, or half marathon.  I signed up for the half marathon.

Medals4Mettle is an organization that presents donated finisher's medals from the completion of a marathon, half marathon, or triathlon to children and adults fighting debilitating illnesses who might not be able to run a race, but are in a race of their own just to continue to live their life.

Originally my plan was to do a half marathon hike up on the Appalachian Trail for this but the weather did not cooperate.  Instead I decided to simply do a half marathon suburban hike.  I was out the door before 7:00 AM heading east.  The goal was to go 6.5 miles out, turn around and go back.  I've experienced this before and have said it many times - you really do not see many things even if you have driven down a road hundreds of times.  There is just something nice about slowing down and really seeing your surroundings.

The only challenge (besides making my legs walk 13.1 miles) was - my footpod stop working at 2.34 miles.  So I really did not know how far I should go.  Ended up doing more of a lollipop route instead of an out and back guessing at the mileage.  When I got home retraced the route in my truck.  It was only 11 miles.  Went back out and did the last 2 miles.

It's quite different doing a virtual race, but it really does support something good.

Just a few pics from the route:

Berries!  everywhere
At the corner of Peachtree & Old Peachtree
New Life Baptist Church
Red Barn
Gated Community
Coming Soon
Sugarloaf Plaza
Home Depot on the 4th of July
Look who is coming to town
Crops look good