Wednesday, August 31, 2011

9 Great Places to Train in Atlanta - #6 Swimming at MLK Natatorium!

“This is no time for apathy and complacency. This is a time for vigorous and positive action.” - Martin Luther King, Jr.

I started coming to the Martin Luther King Jr. Natatorium back in 2008 when I was coaching a group of athletes who wanted help with their swimming. It was a great place to swim because they had recently remodeled the facility, it was open to the public and it was only $2 per visit. Things have changed a bit over the years. They no longer allow me to provide swimming lessons (they have their own instructors), they are closed on Fridays and they now charge $4 per visit. Regardless, it is still a great place to swim in Atlanta! I especially enjoy swimming at MLK in the morning. The floor-to-ceiling windows give a wonderful view of the sunrise!

The pool is located at 70 Boulevard NE near Auburn Ave. The parking lot at the natatorium is closed. Parking is free and the lot is located on John Wesley Dobbs Ave NE off of Boulevard near Jackson St. NE. It is always a pleasure walking from the parking lot to the natatorium and reading the plaques on the sidewalk with the names of the “soldiers of justice” who promoted equality for all. This is known as the International Civil Rights Walk of Fame and includes names such as Rosa Parks, President Jimmy Carter, Justice Thurgood Marshall, President Lyndon B. Johnson and Mayor Maynard Jackson, just to name a few.

The natatorium is open for lap swimming Monday through Thursday, starting at 6:00am and goes until 5:00pm. They are also open in the evening, starting at 6:30pm until 8:00pm. There are several activities happening on Saturdays, however I have usually been able to swim between 10:00 – 11:00am. The pool is closed on Fridays and Sundays. Be sure to call the folks at MLK at 404-658-7330 if you have any doubt about when they are open for lap swimming.

The indoor pool has six 25-yard lanes. The temperature of pool varies, however it is usually set around 80 degrees. There are locker rooms and showers on the bottom level, along with a workout room that is also open to the public.

I would definitely recommend purchasing a City of Atlanta Office of Recreation Aquatic annual pass for $110. This pass will allow you to swim at all the city pools, including Chastain Park and Grant Park. All you need is documentation that you are a resident of the City of Atlanta and a money order. Take these two items to MLK and they will provide you with the pass after you finish your swim workout!

I will be heading to the pool at MLK more often now that summer is winding down and the outdoor pools will be closing. I hope you all keep up your training over the Fall and Winter! The Spring races will be here before you know it!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

9 Great Places to Train in Atlanta - #5 Trail Running at East Palisades Indian Trail!

After spending this past weekend in the mountains with my husband, I was reminded how much I love trail running after hiking at the Black Rock Mountain State Park in Clayton, Georgia! After arriving home on Sunday, I woke up Monday morning, laced up my La Sportivas and headed to East Palisades Indian Trail, the group of trails that are part of the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area. Most people don’t realize these trails are ITP (Inside the Perimeter)!

The entrance to the park is just off of Northside Drive and Indian Trail in Northwest Atlanta. There is a short drive to the end of Indian Trail where you are greeted by the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area sign leading you along a gravel road to the parking lot. The park is open from dawn to dusk. Parking is $3 unless you have an annual pass which is $25. Annual passes can be purchased online. Mark your calendar for National Public Lands Day which is September 24th. The parking fee is waived for visitors in observance of this day!

The main trail is easily located from the parking lot. Once on the trail, runners will follow the blue blazes as they are led down to the river. Be careful! The trail is rather steep in a few areas. At the bottom, the trail levels out as runners approach the Chattahoochee River. Since the trail follows beside the river, runners are treated to beautiful views of the river through the trees. After following the river, the trail turns to head back up. There are spots along the trail that wind around trees and there are several hairpin turns. Again, there are many steep sections as runners head up this part of the trail. At the top of the trail, runners are lead to the gravel road. Make a right turn to head back to the parking lot. The trail is approximately 2.4 miles. This past Monday morning I decided to do the loop two times for a nice 5.8 mile run. I encountered three other hikers on the trail, two of which had their dogs on a leash. The times I have visited this trail, there have been just a few others along the way, however I have encountered runners and hikers who do not leash their dogs. Be sure to stay alert and keep your eyes open for any obstacles.

All runners are encouraged to check out East Palisades Indian Trail as a place to train in Atlanta! If you are new to trail running, this is a great place to get started due to the fact that the trail is short! If you are planning on participating in Vision Trek 10K Trail Run benefitting Georgia Eye Bank, scheduled for Saturday, March 3, 2012, this is a wonderful location to practice your hill climbing skills! If you want to beat the Atlanta heat, you will stay a lot cooler running on this trail since the trees offer a ton of shade.

I hope to see you on the trail! Enjoy your training!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

9 Great Places to Train in Atlanta - #4 Swimming at Chastain Park Pool!

As the dog days of summer are winding down, I am taking every opportunity to swim outdoors. One of my favorite places to swim has always been the Chastain Park Pool. The pool is clean, refreshing and open to the public!

The pool is run by the Chastain Park Athletic Club (CPAC). CPAC was founded in 2002 as a Georgia 501c3 non-profit corporation and was organized and at all times shall be operated exclusively for public charitable and educational uses and purposes.

Chastain Park Pool is located at the intersection of West Wieuca Road and Elliott Galloway Way (formerly Pool Road). There is free parking on both West Wieuca Road and Elliott Galloway Way. The pool boasts (8) 25 yard lanes, which are only crowded during the hours of swim team practice. The hours are as follows:

Monday – Friday: 10:00 AM - 12:30 PM free public swim time, 12:30 - 5:00 PM paid public swim time $1/children (5 yrs and under), $2/child (6 yrs - 16), $4/adult (17 yrs - 64), $2/senior (65 yrs and up) and 5:00 - 8:00 PM Chastain Pool members only (Fridays till 9:00 PM).

Saturday & Sunday: 10:00 AM - 5:00 PM $1/children (5 yrs and under), $2/child (6 yrs - 16) , $4/adult (17 yrs - 64), $2/senior (65 yrs and up) and 5:00 - 8:00 PM Chastain Pool members only.

Chastain Park Pool is a wonderful, outdoor pool to use for “getting your swim on”. You better hurry! The gate to the pool will close at the end of the day on Sunday, September 11th.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

9 Great Places to Train in Atlanta - #3 Running in Virginia Highlands/Emory/Morningside!

Matt Cole, CEO and Founder of Podium Multisport, introduced me to running in the Virginia Highlands/Emory/Morningside area, which is conveniently located to his store on Zonolite Place. I instantly fell in love with this area. Why? Three reasons: 1.) The beauty of the homes in the area, 2.) The hills, and 3.) The hospitality provided by everyone at Podium Multisport!

The homes around Virginia Highlands, Emory and Morningside are old, quaint and well maintained. Many of the homes show off their well manicured lawns, lush trees, bushes and flowers. It is so much fun to pick a new “favorite home” during each run!

The hills on this course are nothing to sneeze at! They are large and plentiful. A good workout will be had by all. Enough said!

Every Thursday Podium Multisport hosts a Group Run of 5.5 miles, starting at 7:00pm. Not only do they provide maps, they also provide ice-cold Ironman Perform sports drink by PowerBar for everyone to enjoy before and after the run! After dreaming about living in one of the homes in the neighborhood and sweating up and down all the hills, I’m usually ready for a cold beverage!

Anyone who lives in the area is encouraged to check out the Group Run on Thursday evenings. All runners and triathletes are welcome! I hope you enjoy the neighborhoods, the hills and the hospitality as much as I do!