Sunday, July 10, 2011

The 2011 Peachtree Road Race - Part 1

When I was told three months ago that we won the lottery to The Peachtree Road Race I was both excited and worried. I was coming off of an injury and had started increasing my distance again. Unfortunately, I was only running quarter miles(just to be safe). I figured I could run the 10K by the end of the three months, but I didn't expect to perform as well as I did.

Jump forward three months and we are driving in my car for an hour and a half to Atlanta on July the third... without air conditioning. Miserable? Much.

Whitney is laying next to me with a wet towel on her head. Most of the ice cubes in the cooler have melted and the water temperature is rising. "Almost there... Almost there." I say, wiping the sweat off my brow.

Fourty-five minutes later we arrive at a AmericasMart. The place is packed with runners.

I remember Nicholas Rominov, the creator of The Pose Method was doing a lecture. Maybe if we rush we can get to it. Before I walk in I tell myself, "I usually don't run with this method. I really don't use any method, but I'm sure he has something important to say." Discussing gravity, foot cadence, and body posture, Nicholas actually leaves out a majority of things that create a stir in the Pose vs Chi debate, for example foot-strike. The more I listen, the more I realize he just wants everyone to be an efficient runner. I catch myself laughing at his jokes, some of which the surrounding runners aren't understanding. Crazy Russians!

He asks, "Does anyone here think they can run right?" I look around and nobody raises their hand. I think, "Are you kidding me? Twenty runners at a running expo and not one is cocky enough to raise their hand." After a moment of silence and persuasion he pulls someone out of the group, watches their form, and critiques it. This is where I spot a difference between Nicholas and Barefoot Ken Bob. With Nicholas, he firmly believes he is right and that  runners must run his way for maximum efficiency. Barefoot Ken Bob, on the other hand, doesn't correct runners until they have a problem and ask him about it. I believe Barefoot Ken Bob is more of a "You can learn to run by correcting your mistakes and listening to your body. Who am I to tell you what is right and wrong for your body?" This probably has to do with Nicholas Rominov being a coach and Barefoot Ken Bob saying, "I am not a coach, I am just a guy with experience."

Discussing downhill technique with Nicholas Rominov

After the lecture I approach him and start asking him questions about running down hills. I have been having problems with gaining too much speed down hills and stressing my knees. He tells me to not lean forward while going down the hills, while still keeping the Pose form. This is what I feared. I already run down hills this way(of course with my own form). For the record, the best way I have found to go down steep long hills is to use Jason Robillard's skiing slalom technique mentioned here.

All-in-all Nicholas Rominov is a great guy and really a pleasure to listen to, but he is a bit set in his ways. But as it goes, extremists get the most work done in life.

My dad and I just happen to be wearing...
...the same shirt.

Next we start to explore the rest of the expo. Venders are lined up and down the isles. The first spot we hit is the Spibelt stand. Spibelts are great running belts because they are tiny and can hold a ton. I actually end up running the race with them.

Accelerade, a sports drink I had heard much about previously, has coolers of their drink. I try it and am surprised by the watered-down taste of it. I think, "This tastes like a watered-down Gatorade" then I remember that I water-down my Gatorade anyway because it is too thick during runs. On second thought, it is really refreshing! We grab a biased performance nutrition handbook and move on.

My dad points out to me a shirt stand filled with funny shirts. I read, laugh, read, laugh, repeat. My favorite shirt was this one:

The 5-Hour Energy vendor catches my eye. I have only had one of them before, and I liked the way it made me feel. I happily take one. Little did I know that it could be the death of me.

"Oh look! Nuun! Barefoot Angie Bee talks about this stuff all the time!" I fill up a cup with confidence and take a swig... "Meh... It tastes like a slightly better, but still not that great, Airborne." Oh well, not my cup of sports drink.

My eyes widen at the adjacent vendor: vegan protein. I had recently purchased a vegan protien powder and it was one of the worst tasting things I had ever tasted. Cautious, I approach the table and take a sip. It is a little better but, still has that nasty and bitter taste that doesn't leave your tongue unless you eat a pack of Taco Bell hot sauce(a lesson from experience).

I go back to the Nuun, which tastes much better the second time. :P

I get a decent taste in my mouth and spot a group of people being checked for intonation. I chuckle and think, "I have never had this done before. I wonder..." I approach the attractive sales lady/person that is supposed to tell you that your foot is deformed and say, "I am not going to buy your product. I am just doing this for research purposes." She laughs and tells me to stand on this platform, spread my legs, point my feet straight, and bend my knees. Apparently this unnatural position that I am rarely in(never when I run) relates to my running form. Whatever, I do what she says and she tells me that I intonate heavily on my left foot, but my right foot is neutral. I say, "Okay" and leave. And here I am giving Nicholas Rominov hell because he is stuck in his ways!

My dad tells me that I need to talk over at the Merrell tent. Kyle Ballard, a race coordinator for Merrell's Down and Dirty Mud Run, is there. We meet, I give him my card, and we talk about a good way to get barefoot/minimalist runners to run in the barefoot division of the race. Honestly, I don't really agree with barefoot divisions. One, because they are hardly ever barefoot and consist of a bunch of minimalist runners(not that there is anything wrong with that...), and two, because it separates runners in a way that presents barefoot runners as having a handicap. Anyway, I agree to work with him on that and send him some links to help get the word out. At this tent I attempt the pull-up challenge. Essentially, for each gender, whoever can do the most pull-ups wins a pair of shoes. I don't really need shoes, but I try it anyway. Plus, it wouldn't hurt to get some trail gloves. I get to the eighth one and feel myself getting weak. The top person has 41. Nope! Not gonna happen! I drop down and catch hell for doing eight by a bunch of people that didn't even attempt it. :)

All-in-all the expo is a great success. We make plans to take naps and go out to dinner. After stuffing our faces and drinking more than we should the night before a race(where's the fun if you don't feel like crap before the race), I drink a CamelBak and hit the sack.

Part 2... The race.