Sunday, March 27, 2011

Tour Decatur Race Recap

What a terrific day for a run! Over 1,700 people signed up for this neighborhood race in support of Decatur schools. And it was truly a community event. Each Decatur elementary school fielded a team of students (joined by parents) while Decatur High School students served as event volunteers. As a parent, it was a great experience to run the 1-Mile Fun Run with my child and her friends. We ran the city block that circled around Decatur High and the school’s football stadium. At the finish line, student runners proudly received a medal to commemorate their success. The 5K runners hit the road after the Fun Run – and the rain fortunately held off until after the race.

Tour Decatur celebrated its ninth year and race organizers do a great job of running an efficient yet friendly and slightly informal event. Despite the number of people who participated in the race, I saw several friends and neighbors – and that makes an event really fun. Proceeds from Tour Decatur benefit the Decatur Education Foundation which serves the needs of students in the Decatur school system.

Looking for a good 5K route? Here’s the course for yesterday’s Tour Decatur:

• Start at Decatur High School on N. McDonough Street

• Head south, running past the high school and turn right on Howard Avenue

• Turn right on Commerce

• Turn right on W. Trinity

• Turn right on N. McDonough (head past the high school again)

• Turn right on Howard

• Turn right on Patillo Way

• Turn left on Greenwood Circle

• Turn right on Ridley Lane

• Turn left on Hibernia

• Turn right on Greenwood Circle

• Turn right on Howard Avenue

• Turn right on Adair

• Turn right on Ponce de Leon

• Turn right on Trinity

• Turn right on N. McDonough

• End at Decatur High School

Monday, March 21, 2011

Tour deCatur: Run for Kids with the Kids

Most road races are geared towards adults. Sure, you’ll typically see a handful of kids running with a parent. But for the most part, it’s grown-ups who are running the races. That’s not the case with Tour deCatur.

Started by Kira Wilsterman, who’s the P.E. Coach at Clairemont Elementary, Tour deCatur is geared around kids. Decatur elementary schools host track clubs that help students train for the race’s 1-Mile Fun Run. Last year’s event hosted 1,200 participants – with school-age kids representing a notable number of the runners. Proceeds from Tour deCatur support schools in Decatur through the Decatur Education Foundation.

My husband and I have been runners for years, so I was excited to sign my child up for the track club team at her school. Tour deCatur will be our first opportunity to run a road race as a family and I hope the experience will foster a love of running for her.

Interested in joining the fun? There’s still time to register for the race. Sign-up online until March 22 (that’s tomorrow) or at the event (registration starts at 7:30 a.m.). The 1-Mile Fun Run starts at 8:45 a.m. and the 5K race kicks-off at 9:15 a.m.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Publix Georgia Half-Marathon Recap: Holy *#? Hills!

This is my fourth time running the Georgia Half-Marathon. Overall, it’s a great event and one of my favorite races to run. But for some reason, the hills felt more unforgiving this year. Yes, I’ve resorted to using comic-strip profanity to express my dismay (this is a G-rated blog).

If you run in Atlanta, it’s hard to avoid hills. But the last three miles of the course seemed particularly ruthless. My struggle with the hills resulted in a slightly longer finish time this year – 2:10 vs. 2:04 during my 2010 race. Despite a lackluster training schedule, my husband had a finish time of 1:47 which is a 3-minute improvement from last year’s race.

On the plus side, the weather was fantastic for a long-distance run -- cool temperatures and overcast skies. The hydration stations were well staffed. I’m always impressed with the number of volunteers who support these events. It takes a lot for someone to show up for a volunteer gig at 5 or 6 a.m. on a Sunday. On behalf of the more than 18,000 runners who participated in this year’s race, we thank you.

While the volunteers were in full force, the spectators were fewer than in years past. Last year’s highlight was a gospel choir in the Old Fourth Ward – they were dearly missed this year. The post-race food line was well-organized and plentiful, which is not surprising with Publix as the sponsor. Centennial Park was festive and the live band near the bag-check tent was a lot of fun.

It was great to see that several of top finishers in the race came from Metro Atlanta. Jynocel Basweti from Marietta repeated as the top finisher for the marathon with a time of 2:29:44. For the half-marathon, Atlanta’s Leo Kormanik took top honors with a finish time of 1:06:53. Check out photos and race coverage at AJC and the Publix Georgia Marathon site.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Publix Georgia Marathon/Half-Marathon: Are You Ready?

This is it … the final week before Atlanta’s big race during the spring season. Mother Nature delivered some amazing weather this weekend for those final training runs. Purchasing new insoles and energy chews were on the top of my “to do” list.

Here are a few tips to keep in mind before you head out to the race on Sunday morning:

Prepare for warm weather – A check at shows this weekend’s warm weather likely to stay with us through the race weekend. While temperatures could be near the low 50s at start time, if you’re running the full marathon it could heat up to the low 70s by late morning.

Grease up – Avoid chafing (and discomfort) by applying a layer of lubricant to your skin in those areas were clothing will rub. I’m a fan of Aquaphor, though Vaseline or Body Glide work just as well. Band-Aid’s Friction Block Stick is great for feet.

Stay fueled – Pasta is a favorite meal for runners the night before a big race. But staying fueled during the long run is what counts. Water stops will offer plenty of Gatorade, but don’t forget to bring energy chews or Gu to keep you going on the race course.

MARTA or drive? – MARTA has cut back on its service this year, with Sunday trains starting at 6:00 a.m. (check schedules at individual stations). If you plan to take the rail, race organizers suggest runners only use stations that offer a short trip (no more than 4 to 5 station stops). Planning to drive? There are 5 parking decks open in walking distance to Centennial Park.

Enjoy the race! I’ll provide a recap of my experience at the Publix Georgia Half-Marathon next Sunday.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Atlanta Spring Road Race Roundup

Trees are blooming and daffodils are sprouting … sure signs that spring is just around the corner. Ready to hit the pavement with fellow runners? Here’s a roundup of races to check out.

ShamRock ‘N Roll Road Race – March 13
Get into the spirit of St. Patty’s day with the Junior League’s annual race. Got a kilt? Wear it during the race for a chance to win a $250 Belk gift certificate. The event features both a 5K run and 10K that’s a qualifier for the Peachtree Road Race. Strollers and dogs are welcomed. As an added bonus, runners are eligible for a variety of discounts at Atlantic Station shops and cafes by showing their race bib.

Publix Georgia Marathon & Half-Marathon – March 20
It’s the big race of the spring running season. And there’s still time to sign-up – online registration closes March 16. This is one of my favorite races – terrific routes through Atlanta neighborhoods and convenient access to MARTA. With Publix as this year’s sponsor, there’s sure to be a great selection of post-race food. Not up for running the 13.1 or 26.2-mile distance? Grab a cup of coffee and join one of the neighborhood cheering stations.

Tour deCatur 5K & 1-Mile Run– March 26
This is truly an event designed for families. Last year’s race hosted more than 1,200 runners, with several hundred school-age kids among the participants. In fact, Decatur elementary schools host track clubs to help kids train for the 1-mile fun run. Proceeds benefit the Decatur Education Foundation, which supports educational programs and offers assistance to students in need.

Emory PA 5K Charitable Fun Run – April 2
For intown runners, this Druid Hills race is a convenient option. Physician Assistants’ students at Emory University host the annual race to help fund healthcare programs that serve the needy in Georgia. Proceeds from the event benefit Camp Sunshine, the South Georgia Farmworker Health Project, and the American Academy of Physician Assistants. As an added bonus, the first 250 race registrants get free breakfast and coffee from the Waffle House.

Run Before You Crawl 5K – April 9
Yes, you guessed it – this event mixes a road race with a pub crawl in East Atlanta Village. Fortunately, the race takes place before the drinking kicks off. With a 9 a.m. race and 10:30 a.m. start for the pub crawl, it does seem a bit early for the alcohol-infused festivities. But, as the event organizers claim on the site “…it will be 11:30 in Nova Scotia, and that’s nearly noon.” Register by March 13 and the combo race/pub crawl fee is $27; it increases to $32 afterwards. If you plan on drinking, consider a designated drive since the MARTA rail line is not conveniently located near East Atlanta Village.

Sweetwater 420 Fest 5K – April 16
What’s not to love about this race … an 11 a.m. start time, beautiful intown neighborhood, convenient MARTA station and free beer. The Sweetwater 420 Fest is a great local gathering with festival food and bands. You can spend the day (or the weekend) hanging out. The race bib tear-offs are redeemable for a free beer plus festival wristband. Proceeds benefit the Candler Park Neighborhood Organization.

Big Peach 5K Walk/Run – April 30
The folks at Big Peach offer a fun racing experience through the streets of Buckhead and Brookhaven. The race kicks off at the Brookhaven MARTA station and ends at Big Peach’s store location. Post-race, runners are treated to food, prizes and music in the parking lot of the Cherokee Plaza Shopping Center.

Girls on the Run 5K – April 30
I’m a big fan of this organization, which operates running programs for girls aged 8 to 13 to foster a healthy lifestyle and self-confidence. During the spring 5K race, GOTR participants “graduate” by running the race with their team mates, coaches and family. West Stride in Buckhead plays host to this year’s event. Proceeds from the race benefit the scholarship fund for Girls on the Run of Atlanta.

Lauren’s Run 5K & 2K Fun Run - May 1
Lauren Zagoria and Lauren Kochman were two little girls who shared a legacy – both succumbed to childhood cancer. In honor of their memory, runners will gather at the Concourse Office Park in Sandy Springs in support of pediatric cancer research. For an additional donation of $25, runners can pay tribute to a friend or loved one affected by cancer. Tribute signs will be placed along the 2K race course. Registration is available at the event site.