July Triumphs

Photo Jul 04, 09 14 42

For the first time since March 2017, I broke 100 miles in a month. And by a decently-sizeable margin, too. I know it’s an arbitrary threshold, but it still feels good. Especially considering what the weather here in Athens has been most of the month of July: hot (highs in the 90s) and humid (99% humidity in the mornings). It’s been brutal, but I’ve even managed to top out at a 12-mile long run this month. The milestone is particularly satisfying, given how brutally awful this year’s Peachtree Road Race felt; at the time, it felt like an auspicious start to what historically was an awful month for weather.

Fleet Feet Athens celebrated its 4-year anniversary. Part of the celebration entailed setting goals for the next year. The last thing I want is for my 125+ mile month to skew my self-confidence, but I shot for the stars anyway: the highly-elusive sub-1:40 half, and the equally-intangible sub-4 full (fun fact: I haven’t run a full marathon since Big Sur 2015. high time I changed that!).

Until we celebrated my Dad’s birthday earlier this month, I hadn’t bowled in at least 3 years. I honestly don’t remember the last time, but I know it was before The Lady and I moved to Athens. So color me shocked when I not only broke 130 in both games, but nailed a turkey (not my first, I’m proud to say) in the 10th frame of the first game.

I have to admit: it’s been a good month! Bring on August!

Photo Jul 23, 13 53 20

They really shouldn’t let us out in public.

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Collecting race bibs

For my recent birthday, one of the gifts The Lady gave me was a “bib-folio“.

Keep ALL the bibs!

Keep ALL the bibs!

This thing is awesome. While I’ve only been running regularly since the latter half of 2010, I’ve participated in quite a few races in that time, in addition to all the racing I did in the years prior (5ks and 10ks). Upshot being: I have a lot of bibs, and no real way of organizing them. In fact, I’ve been pinning them on a bulletin board, one stuck on top of another. That’s it.

Armed with my bib-folio, I no longer feared the possibility of all my bibs exploding everywhere when I released them from my bulletin board. There were dozens which were fairly generic; Elite Runners hosts a LOT of races over the course of a single year, and most of them are fairly small and don’t warrant the name being put on the bib. I threw most of these out. But I also found some really awesome bibs. I’ll highlight a few here!

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Just a Short Run, March 2012 edition. As of writing this post, this race (nearly a year later!) is where I set my standing half-marathon PR of 1:43. This race was memorable because I had just returned home from a trip to Morocco a week earlier, and was still getting over a really bad cold. Furthermore, we were barely 2/3 done with our Pittsburgh half-marathon training, my goal for which was sub-1:45. Turns out, I didn’t need to wait until May: I shattered my goal over a month early! The weather was perfect, I was relaxed, and I even had a pacer for most of it before I sprinted the last 1.1 miles.

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Oh man. Are you ready for this? We did this race in Vancouver, BC. That’s right: we raced in Canadia. The Lady and I were in town November 2011 for me to give a talk at ApacheCon, and we just happened to be strolling by the local running store and noticed a huge line sprawling out from the entrance. Curious, we inquired within and discovered it was packet pick-up for a race that evening! Not wanting to miss a chance, we eagerly signed up for the 5k (the 10k was full by then). Despite some really crummy weather (cold + rainy + dark + too many people walking abreast on a narrow sidewalk), this was an awesome experience. Neither of us PR’d, but we can still say we did a 5k in Vancouver. BAM.

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The Great Race is practically a Pittsburgh icon at this point; I’ve run the 10k since 2010. It’s a really fast race: there are some brutal hills, but they’re quick and the course is a net downhill. The September 2012 edition pictured here was particularly special because it was the first time since 2006 I’d run a race as a seeded runner! I was definitely one of the slower runners in the seeded group, but hey: we had our own porta-potties. Yeah. We’re that awesome. Furthermore, this race is my current 10k PR at 43:15, despite the facts that The Lady and I had just completed Ragnar a week before, and the day before had run 16 miles as part of our marathon training. All-around, an awesome race!

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This race is special. Very, very special. It holds the honor of being my very first half-marathon over Thanksgiving weekend 2010. It arguably defines when I started thinking of myself as a “runner”, in addition to a general athlete. I didn’t do very well at this race; training in Pittsburgh in the late fall is actually quite beautiful. Unfortunately, Atlanta has a tendency to be very humid all year long, and come race morning in downtown Atlanta the air was so thick you could’ve kicked it and felt the concussion. Nevertheless, The Lady coaxed me into the finish line for a time of 2:09. I love to look back on this race and think how far I’ve come since then. It’s humbling.

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Speaking of Ragnar! This was our team’s bib (all 12 of us wore it) from September 2012. I could go on and on about this event (and both Megan and I have), but the upshot is that this event was spectacular. Cramming 11 (or in our case, 11 plus a dedicated driver!) of your closest friends into two vans for 36 hours with little or no sleep and no showers reaaaally defines a friendship! It was an epic event that took a ton of planning, but our team had a boatload of heart and no shortage in folks willing to get their hands dirty in executing. It went off without a hitch, and we all had a blast running nearly 200 miles from Cumberland MD, to Washington, DC. I hope to do it again someday!

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Now we’re really digging deep: this bib is from the September 2006 edition of the US 10k Classic, which to my great dismay has since officially retired the event. This is the first time I was ever a seeded runner, so I’m particularly proud of this bib. I didn’t do as well in this race as I would have liked–51 minutes and change–but at the time I still considered myself somewhat of an impostor in the running community. Still, I did pretty well overall, and this race was always exceedingly well-organized. And yes, those are in fact the same pins I used to pin it to my shirt all those years ago.

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This is quite possibly my favorite bib ever. I ran this race (also the 10k Classic) in September 2005 and is the reason I received a seeded bib the following year: I ran this race in 49:17 (I still remember the exact time!). It also has the dubious distinction of not only being the third 10k I ever raced, but also the first 10k I ever ran under 50 minutes. It had been my goal to run it under 50 minutes, but I had no knowledge of formal training. I trained for this race by (I kid you not) running hill repeats on the infamous freshman hill at Georgia Tech. At least once a week I would do 8x repeats up and down the hill, charging up as fast as I could, and jogging back down. No breaks, just an easy loop around and then starting again. Apparently it worked well enough for a kickass 10k time!

There were plenty of other bibs that I smiled at when I saw (the Air Force half marathons in particular!), but these highlight just a few. I’m excited to finally be able to organize them in a way that makes sense, and to ensure I don’t accidentally misplace one over the many races to come!