Monday, September 21, 2015

Central Sole Connection - Weekly Long Run on Saturday

This past week our church, Central Presbyterian Church of Athens, started its own running club in association with Connect Run Club. Central Sole Connection is for everyone - for individuals who walk, who job, who regularly run 5k or 10ks, and even those who are actively training for a half or full marathon. More information on the club is available on the club's Web site.

Gabriel Mundi and I will co-lead a weekly long run on Saturday mornings, leaving from Bishop Park in Athens. While both Gabriel and I are both actively engaged in marathon training (my training plan calls for a total of 18 miles this Saturday) we have prepared different routes that will allow us to provide a solid training experience for everyone - whether they want to go three miles, five miles, nine miles, or a longer distance depending on their individual training needs. We've got several routes available and will mix and match them to fit the needs of whatever runners participate each week.

Here's a three mile course that we could start out with for beginners.

Bishop Park - Prince 3 Mile Loop
From there, we could head back down Prince Avenue to tag on a couple more miles for a total of just over five.

Bishop Park - Athens Regional 2 Mile Loop

For those that want to go longer, I've also got a couple more routes starting from Bishop Park that would take the total distance up to a little over 9 miles (adding on 4 miles) or all the way up to 14 or 18 (adding on an additional 9 miles).

Bishop Park - Hendershots 4 Mile Loop
Bishop Park - UGA 9 Mile Loop
For the next few months we're going to start each Saturday with a fresh slate and we'll map out the morning's run based on the needs and goals of the entire group, mixing and matching the above courses so we can drop runners off back at their car when their training is done. Later this year, we'll survey the group and put together some specific training regimes to prepare participants for a half or full marathon.

The long run is the foundational training experience for all runners. It builds endurance, strengthens the entire body, teaches the body to burn fat as fuel, increases confidence, and reduces mental stress. The pace will be slow, averaging about 12 minutes/mile for the entire course. We'll also be following Jeff Galloway's run - walk - run method, running for four minutes and then walking for one minute. This method helps to speed recovery and avoid injuries (I can attest to that as I have run 1200+ miles so far this year without experiencing a single injury). For more information on this approach to the long run see Jeff's Web site.

Of course, runners are free to head out at whatever pace and using whatever training regime best fits their needs. The entire aim of Central Sole Connection is to connect individuals together throughout Athens and the larger community by sharing an appreciation of walking, jogging, or running. These weekly long run sessions will provide an opportunity to do just that.

We want to start running right at 7:30am, so runners are encouraged to arrive around 7:20 so we can plan the day's route before heading out. If anyone requires any information on the weekly long run please email me at

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Mondays are for Hills (and the Rest of the Training Program)

There are 23 weeks to go to this year's Savannah Rock 'n' Roll marathon and my training is well underway. Last week was the second full week of training and I logged 31 miles over five sessions, including a seven mile long run on Saturday morning. My training week starts with hill workouts on Mondays. With Monday being a holiday this week it was nice for once to be able to head out after sunrise.

Hill workouts are essential for getting stronger, faster, and staying injury-free during training. I'm fortunate enough to live in a neighborhood that has ample hills and this six-mile course features 891 feet of climb over nine different hills. My goal is to keep my heart rate in/above Zone 3 (143 - 157 bpm) throughout the session. Once I get to the top of any hill, I begin walking until my heart rate drops below Zone 3. Then, it's off to the next hill. This hill workout kicks off every week of training.

Tuesdays and Thursdays are for moderately paced runs, also in Zone 3. Sometimes, I'll simply do laps around the Spec Towns Track at the University of Georgia. Other days, I'll do one-mile laps around the larger Vince Dooley Athletic Complex. I am a big believer in Jeff Galloway's Run Walk Run method as I have found that it speeds recovery and improves overall running times. So, during each of these sessions I run for three minutes and then walk for one minute. The past two weeks I've run six miles during each session, but for the next four weeks I'm increasing the total distance by a mile a week until these sessions cover eight miles each. Once I'm at that distance, I'll gradually increase my Run Walk Run interval from 3/1 to 4/1 over four weeks. This longer interval will match what I plan to use for the Savannah marathon.

Wednesdays are for speed work, and I've joined the Athens Road Runners for their weekly sprints at Spec Towns Track. During these workouts, we typically complete multiple 800m or 1m intervals at a 5k pace. Including warmup and recovery runs, I typically log between five and six miles during these sessions. I really enjoy these workouts and I have found that I tend to push myself harder when training with friends.

Fridays and Sundays are days off and it's nice to be able to sleep late (until 6am or so). On training days the alarm goes off at 3:30am. In order to get enough sleep I usually head to bed around 8:30 the previous night.

Saturdays are for long, endurance paced runs. My wife Gail and I do these together and we are following a training regime that comes from The Big Book of Marathon and Half Marathon Training. We started with 5 miles on Saturday, May 17th and then ran 7 miles this past weekend. Coming up we'll increase our mileage to 9 and then we'll follow this weekly progression: 7, 10, 12, 15, 12, 16, 12, 16, 18, 20, 14, 20, 14, 8, 20, 14, 16, 18, 18, 12, 18, 18, 20, 14, 20, 14, 20, 13.1 (Athens Half Marathon), 10. Our goal for long runs is to keep our heart rate in Zone 2 (130 - 143 bpm) while we increase our stamina both physically and mentally.

One observation I'll make as I close, this training regime is much more intense on Tuesdays and Thursdays compared to my last program. In preparing for the Chick-fil-a Half Marathon, I only ran 4 miles on Tuesdays and Thursdays. And, the Thursday run was in Zone 2 and not Zone 3. I have purposefully increased both the distance and tempo for these runs, as I never, ever want to run out of gas like I did for that last race.

I've been training for marathons for just eight months and the Savannah race will be my fifth event, but my first full marathon. The regime I've laid out above should help develop the physical and mental stamina necessary to complete a full marathon while also further developing my cardiovascular system. It's based on a lot of reading, so I encourage those interested to check out the links to training material's I've embedded in the narrative above.

Friday, May 1, 2015

2015 - 2016 Annual Planning Memorandum for VPIT Units @ UGA

To My Dedicated Colleagues in VPIT Units at the University of Georgia,

Every year around the first of May, I write a planning memorandum for all employees that report to my office. These memorandums allow me to present our successes over the past year, discuss progress toward our strategic goals, share our initiatives and priorities for the next year, and comment on the challenges and opportunities we can expect along the way. This is my fourth planning memorandum since I joined the University of Georgia in September 2011. This year’s memorandum is linked below.

2015 - 2016 Annual Planning Memorandum for VPIT Units

This past year has been a very successful one. An all-staff townhall will be held on Thursday, May 21, at 2 p.m. to discuss these ideas and goals and to provide you with the opportunity to ask questions and provide feedback. Until then, know that I remain deeply grateful for each of you as you continue to ensure that the University of Georgia is a very special place for all of us.


Timothy M. Chester
Vice President for Information Technology
University of Georgia

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Things I Learned from Last Week's Half Marathon

Finally, on Thursday I began to get over my disappointment from an awful finish in the previous Saturday's half marathon.

Gail finished in 2:18:01, which is a new PR for her. I finished at 2:03:04, which is about five minutes off of my PR. I ran out of energy at around mile 11 and spent the last 2.1 miles watching dozens of runners pass me on their way to the finish. This was very tough emotionally and it weighed on me for several days. But, I've moved past the disappointment and realized that there is a lot that I learned from this half marathon.

First, I learned that race management is just as important as training. Gail and I had driven the course and were prepared for the hills. But, we didn't think about using knowledge about the course to develop a strategy for running the race. This was an incredibly deceptive course, dropping almost 200 feet in altitude over the first three miles. That means that everyone came out fast, incredibly fast for us. The bulk of the field started out at a 7:30 pace and both Gail and I finished the first 5k at an 8:36 pace. I was feeling great at that point, which had me thinking that a finish below 1:55:00 was possible. So I maintained that 8:30 pace even as we regained that altitude (plus 300 more feet) over the next five miles. That climb plus the rolling hills starting at mile 7 sapped all of my energy just when there were two miles left to go.

The second thing that I learned is that my taper before the race had me in great shape for the start. In the two months leading up to the race both Gail and I were logging 30 - 32 miles a week pretty consistently. My training includes substantial hill work on Mondays and speed work on Wednesdays. Three weeks out from the race I began dropping the weekly mileage to 25 miles, then to 20, and then to 10 the week of the race. The first week I dropped the hill work and I dropped the speed work with 10 days to go. The week of the race I ran 3 miles over a flat course on Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday. Because of the rest I continued to feel pretty good through mile 7. This contributed to the false sense of security that led me to maintaining too fast of a pace during for the first two thirds of the race.

Third, I learned that I have to hydrate at every available station during the race. Up until now, I would pass on the available water and sport drinks out of fear of having to stop and use the bathroom. Fighting that urge is an awful, awful feeling when you are chasing after a new PR. Part of my problem starting at mile 11 was that I was dehydrated and for the last two miles I was dying for something to drink. Taking advantage of every available drink station is something that I'll do from now on.

Finally, I learned that my nutrition needs just as much attention as training and race strategy. During this training cycle, I allowed my appetite to get the best of me too many times in the past three months which resulted in predictable cycles of over / under eating. After two months of this, I was finally getting it under control in the three weeks before the race. Then, during my training taper I put on 6 pounds, which I related to over eating. Thus, in the final 10 days before the race I was way too calorie conscious, which ultimately led to storing far less energy than I needed for the race. Moving forward, I'm being much more careful to match my days calorie intake to my calorie expenditure as measured by my Garmin Fenix3 watch. Then, during the taper before my next race I will be in a better position to ensure that my energy stores are filled to capacity. Given that my next two races are a half marathon in late October and a full marathon two weeks later (my first), getting the nutrition aspect right will be vital.

Thanks to my friends, family, and most importantly my wife Gail - for being so supportive with what is becoming one of the most important parts of my life - my running.