Archive | November, 2011

FC Barcelona’s Offense? Slow Down Basketball

30 Nov

Full disclosure – I didn’t grow up watching or playing much soccer.   Our household were fans of University of Maryland basketball, beginning in the Lefty Driesell era and continuing through Gary Williams’ teams in the 90’s.  Likewise, basketball was a great draw at the High School level in Maryland and I saw a lot of the sport played there.

When a team in Basketball reaches a comfortable lead for the time remaining in the game, they will start playing an offense that involves passing the ball, holding the ball, and dribbling in place.  They try to maximize each possession to the full length the shot clock (if one is used) allows.

In my time as a basketball player, I never can recall being instructed to throw the ball to an open down court for my team to chase like so many U8 soccer teams do with their defense.

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Miles Aren’t All That Matters

28 Nov

I spent some time reflecting on the Atlanta Half Marathon over the weekend, and how I managed to improve on my 2010 time this year.

It’s undeniable – from the standpoint of mileage between August and race day, I dropped more than 70 miles (about 1/3 of my total last year) from training this year.  That’s a significant decline in mileage as I see it when you are preparing for a race of a half marathon distance.

So how did I improve my time by more than a minute versus last year, and run a half marathon at a 7:30 per mile pace?

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My Favorite Paleo and Primal Resources

28 Nov

A Twitter friend asked,

“I’m interested in trying out Paleo/Primal eating.  What are some books or websites for information?”

One of the great things about the Paleo and Primal communities is there is a huge cache of information on line for free.  It’s very much like open source software effort – everything you need to know can be accessed on line or there are people willing to help!

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A Non-Shopping Black Friday

26 Nov

In the United States, the Friday after Thanksgiving is called “Black Friday.”  For retailers, it means the day they change their annual balance sheet from a loss to a profit.  For shoppers, it means hitting stores early for deep-discounted items and huge crowds.

I skipped that entire affair.

After the race Thursday, I awoke Friday morning with a sore lower body and tired feet.

The boys and I ventured out to the Fowler Park Skate Park in the morning.  We enjoyed the morning outside – after an hour on the skate park taking a mile and a half walk (or in their case, bike ride) down the Greenway and back.  After some playground time, we went home for lunch.

After lunch, it was back out to Fowler Park – this time for some 5v5 pick up soccer.  There’s a regular group of pick up players I’ve found via Facebook and some prior connections. For two hours, we played 5v5 on the park’s turf field.

5v5 is a great format for Soccer.  In a lot of ways, it reminds me of playing basketball.  With a smaller field, you spend less time sprinting and running with the ball and you tend to make the ball work more.  When played without goalkeepers on small goals (we used 4′ PUGG Goals) – it means you either need to be a sharpshooter or get the ball right on top of the goal to score.  There’s really a need for close ball control and 1v1 defending as well.

A great way to spend a warm November day.

2011 Atlanta Thanksgiving Day Half Marathon

26 Nov

After a Fall of anticipation – race day arrived!  Whatever preparation I had or hadn’t done would be put to the test when the race started.

I drove down to the race start at Turner Field – leaving Forsyth County at 5:00 AM for a 7:30 race start.  Last year, there was some heavy traffic between exiting the Interstate and the Stadium.  I was delayed some last year (but still made the race start well) but wasn’t taking chances with it.  I arrived around 5:45 and took the time to sit and relax for an hour.

I stayed with my earlier decision – running in the Brooks Pure Connect – as it was the shoe I had done my long run, and most recent runs in.  I also decided to go with a long sleeve technical shirt and shorts as my race wear.

Around 6:50, I did about half a mile to warm up.  It was chilly as the sun came up – 40 degrees without any wind.  I went to my start corral – A – and awaited the race start while pacing, hopping and any movement I could as the corral filled in.  After the National Anthem, the race director gave a 30 second countdown and the race was off.

My Goals for the Race

After cutting back this fall on running, I wasn’t expecting to record a personal record this year.  My long run two weeks prior had seen me run 13.5 miles in about 1:44, so I didn’t see taking a better race than my 1:39:32 last year.

If I was going to improve, it would be through being smarter.  The weather would give me an opportunity to go out quickly before getting warm, and limit my fluid loss (and limit my fluid needs).  I was also planning to run a more efficient race.  In the course of last year’s race, I ran a total of 13.6 miles – a half mile longer than the official distance according to my GPS app.  If I could be smarter about weaving in traffic, then I could cut back on my steps taken during the race and shorten the distance.

Of course, I wanted to keep good form through the race and limit the possibility of any injuries.

Race Course

The course starts from Turner Field and moves northwest through Georgia State and along the west side of Georgia Tech.  It then crosses to the east through Atlantic Station along 17th Street, and crosses back over the downtown Connector and then starts south on West Peachtree Street.  The race then turns onto 14th Street and runs towards Piedmont Park.  The Atlantic Station to Piedmont Park is one of the race’s longest climbs – about 130 feet over 1.5 miles.

The race passes the 10k mark shortly after passing into Piedmont Park, and then heads onto 14th Street and runs the finish from the Peachtree Road Race in reverse before turning south again – this time for 2+ miles on Juniper and Courtland Streets.  The race then turns onto Auburn Avenue, and passes the Ebeneezer Baptist Church and the King Center.  The race turns onto Boulevard, and then Memorial Drive.  The stretch from the King Center has several up and downs, with a net climb of 70 feet over the mile between 10 and 11.

Heading back towards the Capitol now, the race does a quick lap of downtown and then heads back down Capitol/Hank Aaron Drive to the finish at Tuner Field.

How I Ran

Personal Record – 1:38:23!

The first 10k of the race went by in 45:29.  That’s faster than my Peachtree Road Race time by 14 seconds and just 12 seconds slower than my 10k Personal record.  I had some cramping in my side during the first part of the race that loosened up later on in the race.

My slowest mile was the time from 10-11 as I passed the King Center and the climb after the Oakland Cemetery.

mi  Pace (min/mi)  Elevation (ft)

1  7:28  71

2  6:56  -50

3  7:04  -9

4  6:59  -95

5  7:14  -28

6  7:23  93

7  7:37  -60

8  7:36  90

9  7:37  29

10  7:37  -30

11  8:00  30

12  7:27  27

13  7:12  -69

14  7:14  -21

Race Review

This is one of the Atlanta Track Club’s big events – along with the Peachtree Road Race.  I love having the different start corrals based on pace (but I’m sure there’s people who falsify their intended pace).

The course was well marked, with timing stations placed every mile along the course and support stations at almost every mile.  There was plenty of Police and traffic control support at intersections to ensure the safety of the runners.

An Injury

I picked up an injury – but a small one.  I had some severe bruising or a blood blister on my second toe on my left foot.  Some of the research I’ve read on the Internet suggests this is a result of the toe hitting the inside of the shoe repeatedly.

What’s Next

I’m contemplating another Half Marathon after the first of the year – there’s several in the extended area in January and February.

One of my goals over the past year has been to find my way into the sub-seed group for the Peachtree Road Race.  I’m starting to see that the time standards for that group – a 1:33:00 Half Marathon (or 41:59 10k) are going to take a lot of work to accomplish.  The McMillan Calculator says I’m capable of a 44:13 10k and a 20:31 5k (which I have already beat).  1:33:00 Half Marathon means moving from my 7:30 pace to a 7:06 pace.

I’m still not seriously contemplating the full Marathon.  For now, it’s too much of a time investment to train for.  I don’t foresee a huge amount of time opening up for me to train.  I also feel like in the long term, it’s destructive to my body to run the distances I need to do in the course of training.

The application process has also begun for our company’s soccer team.  I applied last year, but wasn’t selected to try out.  I’m hoping to get to the tryout phase this year and make the team – so selection for tryouts will change my workout routines.  In the meantime, I’m trying to make sure I get playing time regularly and I’ll be doing sprints training as well.

Pumpkin Custard

23 Nov

Over the past several years, I’ve acquired more of a taste for Pumpkin.

I enjoyed Pumpkin Pie at Thanksgiving and Christmas as a kid – but I didn’t have interest in it otherwise outside of the two holidays. But the last couple of years, it’s been something I would mix with yogurt or find other uses for. After going Paleo this fall, it’s become a bigger thing in my diet.

I’ve roasted Pumpkin, and now also modified a few Pumpkin pie filling recipes I’ve found to create a Pumpkin custard.

Pumpkin Custard

Pumpkin Custard

A custard is an egg-based dessert – usually it’s eggs, some type of dairy, and some type of sugar that’s mixed, and then baked.

Maple Pumpkin Pecan Custard

Pumpkin Custard

1 Can (15 oz) Pure Pumpkin

3 Eggs

3/4 cup of Whole Milk Greek Yogurt

1/4 Cup of Maple Syrup

3 teaspoons Cinnamon

1 teaspoon Nutmeg

1/8 teaspoon Ginger

1/8 teaspoon Allspice

Beat 3 eggs with an electric mixer at low to medium speed. Add maple syrup and mix throughly.

Add Pumpkin and continue to mix until smooth. Add spices and yogurt and continue to mix until smooth.

Bake in oven in a water bath for about 60 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Chill fully in refrigerator for 3 hours before eating.

Caramelized Pecans

1 Tablespoon Butter

About 12 pecans

1 Tablespoon Maple Syrup

1/4 Teaspoon Cinnamon

Melt butter in pan over medium heat on stove. Add pecans and toss with butter for two minutes. Add maple syrup and cinnamon and increase heat to medium high for 30 seconds, remove from heat and allow to cool.



Countdown to the Atlanta Half Marathon

23 Nov

In less than 24 hours – my race will be all done.  I’ve done almost everything I can do to be ready at this point – tomorrow it’s just a matter of going out, running well and enjoying the city and the crowd.  I don’t run many races that actually attract people on the side of the road, but this is one of them!

Usually before the race I go through some planning to make sure I have everything needed and I have my best performance possible.

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