New Orleans running report

Just spent a week in New Orleans and had a blast. My wife publishes a much better blog (, which will give you a recap about our trip, so since I just write about rock 'n' roll and running here goes. The running scene is actually WAY better than I thought it would be. We were staying downtown on the corner of St. Charles and Poydras. St. Charles is actually a prime running spot as there is a grass/dirt path that runs down the middle of the street in the neutral ground in between trolley car lanes. The area is also very shade which is essential in the south. Be careful of those cars though! They even have PSAs on TV there.

While I was there I got in several nice runs on St. Charles and also did some running in the very beautiful Audubon Park, which is across the street from Tulane and Loyola. It's interesting that the two main universities in the city are literally next door to each other.

I also ran in a 5K race this past Saturday, which started at the rather unusual (at least in these parts) time of 5:00pm. Never mind that it was well over 80F, I had a lot of fun. The post-race party had an amazing spread: jambalaya, pulled pork, burgers, gumbo, you name it! I grabbed what I thought was a lemonade -- turned out to be a mint julep! As for the race, I was second overall and the first master with a modest time of 18:20. Factoring in the heat and humidity, I feel like the effort was much better. I went out slower than usual, passed a few kids who went out too fast and picked it up a bit the final mile. The winner was way ahead like 16:30s so it was a no man's land a bit in the second half. Really nice course: out on a scenic road, back on a bike path on top of a levy on the Mississippi.

The start. Number 238 won the race. He ran a 32 minute 10K at another race in the morning and came back to win this race in the afternoon!

More from the start. Some hot Saints cheerleaders even showed up!

Finishing on the levy:



Summer in March

We've been enjoying some unseasonably warm weather lately, with the last two days over 70F. I took advantage of that and went to the metro park for a couple of good runs. 10 miles yesterday and 9 today. Nothing special, just solid runs in the 60-70% heart rate range, which for me these days falls in the 7:15-7:30 range. Going to New Orleans tomorrow for a week where it will be even hotter. Hoping to get a good run in on Thursday and then I'll be doing an evening 5K race on Saturday. Not sure what to expect there as far as competition goes. From results that I've seen, New Orleans has a lot of fast younger guys but there doesn't seem to be as much depth in the masters ranks. Not sure if I'll get a chance to blog, but I'll update my running2win account on my iPod touch and post my race result on Facebook.


St. Patrick's Day 5K Report

Until recently I had never even heard of Louisville, Ohio. Apparently it's pronounced Lewis-ville not Louie as in the more famous Kentucky city. A friend told me the course was pretty fast so I drove the hour and twenty give or take to the Canton-area town to redline on a day when most sane people were already drinking. Some observations on the way in. I saw a drive-thru party store called Butts & Beers and a very mean looking bar called Deuces Wild. Tough town. I was also about to find out that they had a pretty tough 5K course.

I learned that the 2011 race was run on a flat course due to snow, which forced the organizers to change things up. That was not the problem this year. At gun time it was already mid-60s and very humid. I almost opted to race shirtless. The first mile was quite challenging and I made the mistake of going out a tad quicker than I probably should have in those conditions and the heat. The race started with a very gradual uphill through a residential neighborhood before hitting a small hill in a cul-de-sac. We got a gradual downhill after that before hitting another climb that led to a park. The park entry had yet another hill and I was surprised to hit the mile in a fairly quick 5:36 given the elements. I felt pretty good though and I was able to pass people who went out too hard. After the mile no one would pass me but the other people ahead of me were too fast to pull in, so pretty much a no-man's land run. Mile two was in a scenic park along a path. We hit another hill at about the half way mark and then a very long stretch on blacktop. You could really feel the heat there. I hit the two mile in 11:30 (it didn't seem like I had slowed down that much - maybe the mile was short) and at this point it was just survival, trying to lock my eyes on the guy who was ahead of me.

I ended up hitting the line in 18:02 (5:48 pace). Slower than I wanted to but I felt better after talking to other people I knew. I was 7th overall and first in 45-49. Everyone seemed to run about 30 seconds slower than they expected to based on recent workouts and races. Next week I'm running a 5K in New Orleans. It's a 5pm start and it will probably be 80 degrees so I'm not expecting anything blazing. There's supposed to be a fun after party  with beer and jambalaya. Report forthcoming -- I'll be there from March 21-28.


St. Malachi 5 Mile Race Report

The St. Malachi 5 Mile Run in Cleveland is the first big race of the year in Northeast Ohio, featuring an extremely deep and competitive field in all age groups. This year was no exception. I've done this race six times since I've lived here and though the course has been changed four times, the one constant is that it's always on the hilly side. I liked this year's course the best though it may have been the most challenging. 

The conditions at guntime were a little chilly but pretty ideal -- sunny and about 30F. The race began on Washington near the church but instead of having a crazy downhill start into the flats, we hit 25th and made a quick left over the Superior Bridge. The gradual uphill beginning gave the faster runners more breathing room to maneuver. I got off well and was able to lock into a good groove, trying not to go too hard too soon. The first few miles were very quick as we barreled down the bridge and then hit another downhill as we worked our way down to and around Cleveland Browns Stadium. I hit the mile in 5:40 and the 2-mile in 11:35, feeling pretty under control. the third mile was flat as we headed by the Rock and Roll hall of Fame and down a stretch near Voinovich park where we hit the halfway mark and turn around point. I hit the 3 mile mark in 16:57 and was now starting to get that redline feeling you get in the last third of a race. The last mile and a half was also the toughest part of the course as we hit a steep quad busting downhill into the flats followed by a brutal climb out, and almost immediately, a big climb up the Superior Bridge on the way back. I was battling it out with a good group of three or four runners at this stage and this helped me focus on the race and not the pain. Once I got to the downhill portion of the bridge, the finish came almost too quickly. In retrospect, I wish I started my final sprint a touch sooner. In any case, I crossed the line in 28:50, ending up 25th overall and third in my age group. A good start to my first serious effort of 2012.

Next up is a 5K this coming Saturday in Louisville, OH (Akron-Canton area). This course is supposed to be pretty fast so it will be nice to get on the south side of 17:30 again. According to the McMillan Running calculator, 28:50 is equal to 17:25 for 5K and 36:09 for 10K so I'll see how this holds up.


When Saturday Comes

Saturday will be my first race of the Spring, the St. Malachi 5 mile run, which is considered the first big race of the year in these parts. The course isn't the fastest in the world, especially when the course changed in 2009. Before that, the race was still hilly, but we enjoyed a decent downhill stretch in the last two miles before the uphill finish. My best time on the old course was 28:40 in 2008. The race is a good gauge for predicting how I run in the Meteor 10K in April. In 2009, I ran 29:00 at St. Malachi and 36:06 a month later (pretty much the same pace but 1.2 miles longer). In 2010 I ran 29:39 and then 36:14. I feel if I can run in the 29:00-29:20 range on Saturday, I should be able to break 36:00 in April. When I ran 36:06, the conditions weren't so good and I probably could have run around 35:45. Workouts have been going well since my 4 x 1200 session -- good steady runs at 65-70% of max HR. We'll see what Saturday brings, or as The Undertones once sung: "When Saturday Comes"


Back on the Track

No, I don't work out on an old school grass track like this one in Dublin, Ireland but today was my first workout on the oval since last fall. In any case, Rocky River's new track is great (really nice resurfacing job). I did 4 x 1200 meters in the threshold zone, not letting my heart rate get over 90% of maximum heart rate reserve. For breaks I took standing recoveries, starting each rep when my heart rate dipped below 70% of max HRR. My times for the four repeats were very consistent: 4:22, 4:20, 4:21, 4:20 (5:48 pace on the nose). The first two breaks were around 50 seconds, the last one was 58 seconds. It will be interesting to see how much my rest breaks decrease in future workouts like this one as I get more fit. Really happy with this workout. Between this and my 17:39 road tempo last week, I'm defnitely stronger than I have been in a while.


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