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Race report: 2008 ING Georgia Marathon April 1, 2008

Posted by atlantarunner in Running.
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I have posted a race report for the 2008 ING Georgia Marathon on my new site, PaulMcKibben.com. Read about the thrills, chills, and hills, in the 2nd annual running of this race in Atlanta and Decatur, Georgia.


2008 Race Route Changes – ING Georgia Marathon and Peachtree Road Race February 20, 2008

Posted by atlantarunner in Running.
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The 2008 ING Georga Marathon has changed its route yet again, according to a proposed route map dated January 31, 2008. Also, due to the drought, the Atlanta Track Club has announced that the Peachtree Road Race will not finish at Piedmont Park this year.

Please see my article on PaulMcKibben.com for details.

I’ve moved… come see my new site! November 29, 2007

Posted by atlantarunner in General.
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I’ve been bad about keeping this blog up-to-date. But I am making a fresh start!


The new site needs work, but wouldn’t you know it, Tim tagged me, so I figured I’d at least start posting. I’ll be improving the theme and adding content as I have time.

See you all there!

I’ve got spurs… and they don’t jingle June 5, 2007

Posted by atlantarunner in Injuries, Running.


The above image is not my foot – I found it on http://www.wheelessonline.com as a result of a Google image search for “achilles calcification.”

So, I visited Dr. Perry H. Julien today, a noted podiatrist and runner here in Atlanta, to find out what I should do about my achilles tendinitis. He x-rayed both feet and found that I have what is known as “calcification of the achilles tendon insertion.” In plain English, it’s a spur that forms where the achilles tendon attaches to the back of the heel bone. This spur forms as a result of years of abuse: poor stretching regimen, overtraining, and bad shoes, to be precise. Although I only have pain in my right foot, I have this condition in both feet. The doctor said I’ve probably had these for at least 5 years. Yikes! I had plenty of warning signs in the form of on-and-off achilles tendinitis in both feet over the last 15 years, but because the pain eventually went away, I ignored it.

The good news is that I can keep running for years, perhaps decades to come, as long as I repent from my sins. The pain should mostly subside, but I’ve got those spurs for life. If I follow the doctor’s advice, the spurs should not get any worse. That advice includes:

  • Stretch my calves 6-8 times per day, every day, 365 days a year, forever and ever, amen. Each stretching session should take about a minute: 10 seconds for the left, 10 seconds for the right, repeat 2 more times. Note that when stretching the calf, do not stretch so much that you feel it in your achilles tendon.
  • Make sure I replace my running shoes promptly whenever they wear out. The general recommendation is 200-500 miles for a pair of shoes, but for me, 300 miles seems to be my absolute maximum.

While the pain lasts, he also recommends massage therapy every 7-10 days, for 2 or 3 visits, and icing the injury once or twice a day for 10-15 minutes at a time.

The good doctor also assigned me two chapters of reading from his book, Sure Footing (which he was about to give me a copy of, but I already own it). It’s a good book on running/exercise-related injuries and how to avoid them. Um… too bad I didn’t pay much attention to it until now.

One lesson learned from this experience is that I waited way too long to get the advice of a doctor. I’ve had these spurs for at least 5 years and never knew it, and I’ve experienced on-and-off tendinitis for about 15 years. For the mere price of a copay, I could have gotten advice much sooner. Luckily I finally did see the doctor before it got any worse.

Speed work sans track, sans treadmill May 22, 2007

Posted by atlantarunner in Running.
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Trying to do speed work without a track or a treadmill is very challenging. But I think I’ve found a reasonable way: use a site like MapMyRun.com to map yourself a stretch of road, or an around-the-block route, of your desired speed repeat distance.

For example, my speed training run this morning called for 4 repeats of 800 meters, or 1/2 mile. So I found an around-the-block route that could give me that. It is long enough to give me my 1/2 mile run, plus extra walking distance for the required 2 minute rest interval. Between the run and the rest interval, I can complete the loop and be back at the starting point for the next repeat.

Here’s my route (created on MapMyRun.com):
800m Route Map - Underwood Hills - Atlanta, GA

For those of you in the Atlanta area, this is in the Underwood Hills neighborhood, a delightful place for a morning run.

On the Road to Maui! May 21, 2007

Posted by atlantarunner in Injuries, Running.

On the Road to Maui!

I have formally started training for the Maui Marathon! Woohoo!

For the last couple of weeks, I have been swamped with work and activities, so I decided not to try and post anything. But now I’m back, and as promised, here is the training plan I am using for Maui. It is based on the Furman FIRST to the Finish plan, but with less long run mileage at the beginning. I have also adjusted for a couple of weekends where it will not be possible to get my long run in, due to travel (in one case) and a planned 5K race (in the other case). I handled that by adding two extra weeks to the plan at those points, and inserting the appropriate runs at those points: the 5K race + some extra easy miles, and a 6-8 mile run on the travel day.

Maui Marathon 2007 Training Plan

I am still dealing with achilles tendinitis in my right foot, but it has not gotten any worse. It had gotten pretty sore on Saturday after a 6-mile run, but I had not had very good sleep the whole week, so that may have had something to do with it. I’ve noticed a correlation between post-running soreness and poor sleep. I have continued ice massage on it, and it really helps.

The problem may also have something to do with my new shoes. A few weeks ago, I discovered that my local Costco warehouse had the Adidas Nova Control running shoe. I had been wearing Adidas Supernova Control shoes with great success, and I had read that Nova was basically the same shoe, just cost-reduced. So I decided to buy them. They feel great, but it just so happens that the worst of my achilles problems coincided with wearing those shoes. So I am going back to my old Supernovas, with 300+ miles on them, until I get a chance to get to the Big Peach Running Company (my favorite local footwear merchant) to buy a new pair, hopefully this week. If the Supernovas make a difference, I’ll relegate the cost-reduced Novas to cross-training.

Anyway, my achilles tendon is much better today, so I will go ahead with my scheduled speed training tomorrow. However, to be sure that I am not setting myself up for an even worse injury, I’ve scheduled an appointment at the Atlanta Foot and Ankle Center to get the advice of Dr. Julien, a respected doctor in the Atlanta running community. I won’t get to see him until 2 weeks from now, but hopefully my tendinitis won’t get any worse between now and then.

Sidelined! May 4, 2007

Posted by atlantarunner in Injuries, Running.
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Augh! No more running for me, at least not for the next few days. I’ve been dealing with minor achilles tendinitis for the last few weeks–until yesterday, when it finally flared up into something more than minor. Until yesterday, I had dull pain in my right achilles tendon that would come and go. I’ve had that before, and I’ve always just run through it with no further problem. However, yesterday, after my 6-mile tempo run, that ache in my right achilles tendon became persistent, with visible swelling. It lasted all day. It could be worse, but it’s bad enough now to tell me, “cut it out already and give it some rest!”

So I’ve been trying RICE: rest, ice, compression, and elevation–well, not as much elevation as I’d like, because that gets in the way of working and all. Plus, I’ve been taking ibuprofen a couple times a day as an anti-inflammatory. It all seems to be helping, as it’s a little better today, but it’s still not great. It bothers me a little when I walk, especially when I descend stairs (of course, I live in a townhome, where stairs cannot be avoided).

My self-prescription: no long run this weekend, and no other running for the next few days either. Instead, if my achilles tendon feels well enough on Sunday, I’ll get on my bike for some exercise–maybe 20-30 miles. It won’t work my calves as much as running the hills of Atlanta, so hopefully I can still get some good aerobic exercise while minimizing the strain on my tender tendon. During the week, I’ll use our community fitness center and get in some extra weight training, and possibly some stationary cycling too.

There’s a silver lining in this: I have not yet started my formal training schedule for the Maui Marathon, which will be September 16. I have a little time to rest up before I start that. However, I may need to modify my training plan. I was originally planning to use the Furman “FIRST to the Finish” program, which assumes you already have a decent base mileage before the first week. The first 6 weeks of the program feature long runs of 13, 15, 17, 20, 18, and 20 miles. I did 13 last weekend, so it may still be possible to use this program, but if I have to rest too long, those first 6 weeks may be too aggressive. No biggie – I used a modified version of this program for my previous marathon, with less mileage at the beginning, and it seemed to work. I could do that again.

My formal training needs to start soon, as Maui is only 19 weeks from this Sunday. As I look into my options, I will post my thoughts. Comments and advice welcome!

Coincidence or Grace? April 22, 2007

Posted by atlantarunner in Faith, Life.
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Amazing… just after I wrote my previous post, I read this:


Nothing like Robert Fulghum and a well-placed Psalm quote to put all my goals and priorities into perspective.

Too much! April 22, 2007

Posted by atlantarunner in Life.

Fallen Superhero

Most of us have recurring patterns in our lives. One of my patterns is as follows:

1. I get ambitious and think of a few goals I want to accomplish.

2. As I accomplish some of those goals, I get more ambitious and add more goals.

3. As I try to accomplish all my parallel goals, I do few of them well, and I get frustrated over the many goals that go unaccomplished.

4. As another couple weeks go by, my frustration turns to anger over my lack of progress. The anger builds stress and leads to sleep problems, making it that much worse.

5. Eventually, I crash, much like the fallen superhero in the illustration. I veg out for a few days (or weeks), and ultimately reset my goals.

6. Back to step 1.

I have yet to find the magic formula that will allow me to break this cycle, or at least soften it. I am very driven and like to have goals. I get excited about trying new things, learning, and growing. I also have obligations in my personal and professional life. Also, I realize that the effort to balance goals and obligations only gets more challenging as we grow in our families, careers, and personal lives.

It would be great if I could find a way in steps 2 and 3 to prioritize my goals and feel OK about backing off some of them. I want to avoid the frustration, anger, and ultimate crash.

Have you dealt with a similar pattern? Have you broken that pattern? How did you do that?

If you’re trying to break that kind of pattern, what are you trying?

Fraud??? April 8, 2007

Posted by atlantarunner in Running.


On Saturday, I listened to episode 91 of the Phedippidations podcast, by Steve Runner. This week’s podcast was a biography of Joan Benoit Samuelson, and it was interesting and informative as usual for Phedippidations. However, at the end of the podcast, Steve stated an opinion that bothered me: he fears that he will be considered “a fraud” if he does not finish his Fall marathon in under 4 hours.

For Steve to say that he could be considered “a fraud” is unfair to himself and to other runners. I applaud his goal, and I wish him the best on that effort. I hope to eventually do the same. But I find it offensive for him to use the term “fraud,” even against himself. I don’t think he meant to say that a 4-hour marathon is the dividing line between a real runner and a fraud, but his opinion could be taken that way. He probably meant that, given his abilities and experience, and with the right training, he should be able to finish a marathon in under 4 hours. I don’t disagree. But it is wrong for him to suggest that he could be a fraud if he does not achieve that.

For somebody to be a fraud, he must misrepresent himself. Though I don’t know Steve Runner personally, if you listen to his podcasts, he seems very up-front about himself, blemishes and all. If he is misrepresenting himself, he’s fooling me, because he seems very authentic. So assuming he represents himself pretty much as he is, would he be less of a runner if he didn’t achieve his goal? Would he be less of a runner if he didn’t even shoot for that goal? Should he be considered a “fraud” to call himself a runner? To all of those questions, I answer a firm and emphatic, “NO.”

A real runner has passion for running. A real runner sets goals for him/herself in the name of that passion. Possible goals could be a certain finish time for a certain distance, or to maintain a certain level of fitness, or just to be able to keep on running into old age without a specific time or distance. But somewhere there is a passion and a goal. Steve clearly has passion and goals. So to say that he could be “a fraud” if he does not actually achieve those goals is unfair.

So far, I have run two marathons. For my first, the 2006 Chicago Marathon, I set a finish goal of 4:45. I actually finished in 5:05:16. But that does not make me a fraud. I still trained for and finished my first marathon. For my second marathon, the 2007 ING Georgia Marathon, I set a finish goal of 4:35. However, I actually finished in 4:49:09. I improved over my first marathon, on a tougher course, with pollen allergies in full swing. I am not a fraud. For Steve Runner to suggest that he could be a fraud for not achieving his 4:00 goal suggests that we all are frauds for not achieving our own goals. I don’t think he meant to suggest that. We don’t deserve that designation, and neither does he. His passion, and our passion, make us all authentic, sincere runners.