Saturday, March 17, 2018

Kings Mt. Gateway Race Recap

Sorry about the delay in writing this post. Work has been super busy lately so I haven't had the time to set down at my keyboard.

10 PM on a Saturday night, it is either now or never.

So a couple weeks ago, I headed out to Kings Mt. for the Gateway 10 mile race. The race is held on along the foot path and the section we run is mostly a gravel road.

Last year, I ran just under 70 minutes for the course so I was hoping for something close to it.

We start on a side road and quickly enter the foot path. I grabbed the lead. The first mile or so has some night rollers. Then, I hit a nice climb which is followed by a wicked decent. This is then follow by another nasty climb which forced me in to my lowest gear as drag my body over the top. From there to the turn around is pretty much flat.

At the turn around, I was a shade under the 33 minutes.

Heading back, I thought the monster hills were attacking me because my legs were wasted and my lungs were burning. The climb seemed to go on forever, and then, with a right hand turn, I was on a hard decent. This was followed by yet another nasty climb which left me with my slowest mile of the race. I swear I ran the next ½ mile before my legs felt right again.

I got myself over those final rollers and crossed the finish line in 65:42. Roughly, I was about 4 minutes faster than last year. Not sure where it came from. I wasn't feeling exceptionally good and those hills felt just a tough as last year.

I will give the race props for some nice awards even if they did have some strange age groups. Most of you are familiar with the standard award break down in 5 year age brackets. For this race, they had 39 and under, 40-44, 45-49, and 50 and over. In addition, they gave overall and masters awards. Talk about tailoring your awards to a specific audience.

I will sign off by saying that I am not sure if I will be back next year. After the race, they were telling us that they were considering making it a ½ marathon next year. It was hard for me to not cringe at this announcement. 10 miles/15K are my favorite race distances these days. I can find a ½ marathon pretty much any where in the spring. 10 mile races, however, are few and far between.

See you on the trails,

The Cool Down Runner

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Tales from the Trail

Sorry, I have been busy for the last several weeks so I just hadn't had a chance to set down and do some typing.

With a few minutes on hands this Sunday afternoon, I thought I would recount some of the experiences from the trail in recent weeks.

Let's go back about 3 weeks, I was out doing a 20 miler. The weather was unseasonably warm, and I found myself wanting some water. Wintertime runs, I typically don't carry much in the way water. I sweat but not enough to really feel thirsty during a long run. On this day, I found myself circling by the water fountains at the Whitewater center on multiple occasions. After the run, I made a mental to add water bottles and Gatorade Chews to my runs. Since then, my runs have been a lot better. 

Last Sunday, I was finishing up a 10 miler along the north main trail. With less than a mile left, I was letting my mind drift to what I was planning to do for the rest of the day. As I was running down the trails, I was gazing ahead. My eyes are constantly on the lookout for any objects that my might pose a danger.

So as I was cruising down the trail, my eyes took note of a stick laying across the trail, and then they gazed further down the trail. Who hasn't seen a stick a stick laying across the trail at one time or another. Seemed like it took several seconds but suddenly it registered in my brain; the stick was moving. Oops, sticks don't move. My brain was suddenly sending out all kinds of signals to put on the brakes. Crossing the trail in front of me was a 4 ft black snake. Heck, I didn't think snakes were out yet. I patiently waited while it moved across and continued on my run. And, I am glad that I didn't have much further to run because every stick that I saw looked like a snake. Funny, how this does happen.

Yesterday's long run was tough in all kinds of ways. My plan was to do 2 x 13 mile loops. I was managing my pace pretty well until two guys came by me. I couldn't helping picking it up just a bit to stay with them. Bad I idea. I didn't need to be running with them and finally let them go. I made it through the first lap, and started the second lap. Somewhere about 17 miles, I was coming down the trail and crossing through a rock garden. For some unknown reason, my legs got tangled up, and down I went. This wasn't a easy fall. This one hurt. I could feel it all the way through my shoulder, neck, and head.

I stood up and brushed off the dirt and leaves. Nothing seemed to be broken, but darn, did my palm sting. About a ¼ mile later my palm was still stinging. I reached down and slowly peeled back my glove. Oh, I could see now why it was hurting. There was a huge gash across it. My glove was soaking up the blood so I hadn't noticed.

I still had another 9 miles to run. My glove seemed to be doing a good job bandaiding the blood so I kept running. I made a point to be a little more careful. There was no point in tempting fate with another fall. Once back at my car, I cleaned and bandaged it.

Today, I am a little sore on my left side, and my palm is sporting a nice bandage, but nothing to stop me from another 10 miler this morning.

Anyone who is runs on the trails is likely to take a fall. As the miles stack up, the chances increase big time. The mind is tired and so are the legs. This presents the perfect conditions for fall.

I know that this will not be my last unless I decide to quite running on the trails. I don't see that happening anytime soon.

Happy Trails.

The Cool Down Runner

Monday, February 19, 2018

A little dirt makes for a better run

So this morning, I checked the Whitewater Center website, and to my surprise, I saw that the trails were open.

Ok, well, I thought some rain rolled through last night but may be not as much as I thought. When I went past the guard shack, the green flag was waving. This confirmed what I saw on the website.

I laced up my new trail shoes and headed off on the Figure 8 trail and then the Thread trail. The trails were definitely wet and slippy. By 2 miles in my new shoes were covered in mud so were my legs. Normally, I would have done a road run, but since this was President day, and floating holiday for my company, I had the time and the opportunity to hit the trails. A few of the hill climbs were a bit tricky. I could not churn straight up the hill. I had to do this side to side thing to make it to the top. Otherwise, my run was pretty much uneventful.

Of course, I always enjoy any run that turns muddy. This reminds of the days when my mother would tell me to stop splashing through every mud puddles. Now, I go through every one of them making an even bigger splash. However, I still get this eerie feeling that she is looking down on me and frowning – may be just a little bit. LOL.

Anyway, as I was driving out by the guard shack, I noticed that they had switched up the flags. Apparently, in hour or so that I was out running, the trail were determined to be a bit to wet. Luckily, I was finished so no way to undue my run.

You can never get too much mud on you,

The Cool Down Runner

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Charlotte 10 Miler 2-17-18 Race Recap

At some point in the past, someone has told me that what goes up, must come down. I guess the reverse is true as well.

In the Charlotte 10 miler we go down, down, and, down, and down some more in the first couple of miles. Everyone looks strong running downhill.

Then, we tackle a few hills thrown between miles 3 and 5, but they are not bad. They help break up running on the greenway.

Around 8 miles, we exit the greenway for the last couple of miles on the road which took us through a side neighborhood. Here's where the real climbing comes into play. I guess what makes the final hill such a challenge is that it climbs so much in just a short period of distance.

Up to this point, I thought I was managing my race fairly week. Dan, Ryan, and few others made up our little group leaving the start. Ryan looked strong heading into the greenway but then he drifted back. Meanwhile I was working hard to stay with our group. Warming up, I just felt tired today. My legs didn't have any pop in them. This partly explains why they were opening some distance on me, and the fact they were in better shape than me. Through miles 3 to 5, I felt like I was struggling. The hills were kicking my “but”.

I went through 5 miles in 30:30, but I wasn't feeling good about it. However, keeping me motiviated was catching the two guys in front of me. The first guy, I caught around 6 miler. The second guy, I caught him about 8 miles. We ran together until we hit the hill. Then, he says to me: "come on”. I wish. I felt like I was crawling up the hill. My quads were burning. I just wanted to get to the top and more so the finish.

He opened a small gap on me during the final climb. I thought I could close it back in the last mile, but it never happened. I watched his back as he stayed just out my reach all the way to the finish.

I really felt tired the entire race and never felt like I had any punch in my legs. They simply refused to turn over any faster. This is one of the cases where the mind was willing but the body was not.

Overall, I was still pleased with my effort. I ran 61:14 which is about 20 second faster than I ran this race 2 years ago. This put me 1st in my age.

Mostly, I was really happy that the rain held off. The greenway boardwalks get slippery when they are wet. Makes it very easy for a runner to down.

After two straight weekends of racing, I am looking forward to some downtime from racing next weekend. February is half over, and this brings a lot of good racing in March. I need to get my leg mojo back.

See you on the roads,

The Cool Down Runner

Friday, February 16, 2018

Caution - Warm Days a head

Walked outside yesterday, and wondered where all of the cold weather went. Suddenly, my body is fighting to compensate for the sudden change in temperatures. Sweat poured down the sides of my face.

As much as I am ready to pack away my cold weather running gear, this likely isn’t the right time yet. Give it until mid March and maybe even the first of April. The trees will be in full bloom. The time will be right to pack way my winter gloves and hats for the roughly the next 6 months.

That is until a stiff cool fall breeze comes blowing across Charlotte, but let’s not rush it just yet.

I like the warm days. 

Although, this reminds of something that a buddy once said to me. He preferred it cold. He said that as it gets colder that he could always put on another layer of clothes but when it is hot, you can only take off so much.

Every time that I am running down the street and sweat drops off my cap, I smile because I remember back to that conversation with him.

So go grab some miles. It is awesome outside. Sweating is a good thing. LOL

The Cool Down Runner