Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Running across the last decade

With only hours left in '09, we are going to move into a new decade shortly. And before I start to look forward, I thought I would take a second and look back over the last 10 years of my racing.

I am not sure how many people do this but I have kept every race number and tracked detailed information about every race that I have run. My records go all the way back to '83 and the Farmers Day 10k which was my first race. I was 17 years old and knew nothing about racing or even how far 10k was to run. My number that day was 88 and I finished 22nd overall in 44:25. Not bad considering I was wearing Converse Leather high top basket ball shoes. Hey, the running shoe craze hadn't hit the southern part of WV at that time.

But let's flash forward a few years and take a peek at my last 10 years of running.

Actually, I started the 2000s with a whimper. For some reason after running and winning a Santa Scramble in 17 minutes in '99, I didn't race again until another Santa Scramble in 2001.

Then, I didn't race again until June Bug in June of '02.

So for nearly two years, I didn't do much racing. I have often been asked why and the simple answer is downtime. I have always enjoyed running more than racing and racing was and still is not a necessity for me to run.

I ran about a ½ dozen times in '02.

In '03 there were 10 races on my calendar. The best of these races was Kiawah Island ½ in 1:14.

'04 marked a turning point year for me and mostly year of struggles racing. I had turned 40 and was expecting an awesome year, but for some reason it never really materialized. Maybe my best effort was Spencer Mt. 10 miler where I ran 59:13. Spencer Mt. is a tough course and breaking an hour is a fantastic accomplishment.

'05 saw me running most of the Grand Prix races for RFYL. I was not training all that well and my times showed it. I ran 38:30 at Hit the Brixx and 57 minutes at the 15k.

'06 started out decently well. I finished the Disney ½ marathon in 1:17 which placed me 16th overall and 1st 40-44. But things started getting into the groove by June when my 5k times dipped down into the mid 16s for the first time in several years. And possibly my all time best time in a 5k at the Concord Santa Scramble where I ran 15:49. Hey, that is what the clocked read when I finished it. By the way, this was before the onset of the Garmin.

'07 saw me join forces with the Guys at TrySports and was out racing a lot that year – to the tune of 38 races. If I counted correctly, I won something like 14 races that year. Which goes back to that old adage, if you keep trying often enough, you are bound to succeed.

'08 was really a turning point year for me. I started hanging out more with Ben, Megan, and Mike. One their hot topics were running a marathon. Megan has recently qualified at Thunder Road for the trials so everyone was a buzz with what marathon are you doing.

I had completely sworn off running marathons years earlier. But something about running with the group got me thinking about doing another one.

So after some decent runs, I put together a quick schedule. Spent my time putting in my long runs and slipped off to run the Snickers Marathon. Thinking if I bombed out, then I just wouldn't tell anyone.

But by not knowing any better, I went out ran 2:38. Then, later that year I ran 3:28 for 50k and followed it up a few weeks later with a 2:42 at OBX.

After running OBX, I was hot to do another marathon and soon.

'09 I started training for Shamrock Marathon in January when ITB derailed my training. It was a good 2 months before I could get back to full training and no possible way that I could do Shamrock.

But I did jump into a few races in March and a couple more in April. Training was going really well, so I looked around for a May marathon. "Run the Red" was perfectly suited as a late May marathon. After a few long runs, I tested the marathon waters again and ran a 2:39.

From there I ran the remainder of the Grand Prix races, picked up a nice set of titles at OBX, ran turkey trot (missing out on the turkey award), and finished the year off at the USAT&F Club Championship. Which I do want to add, was a great experience. Racing again your peers is great. Racing against your peers that are the same age as you is off the chart.

Interestingly as I look back over the last 10 years certain things start to jump out. When family or work took over my life, my times rose. When I struggled to put my life in order, running helped me do it and usually coincided with a drop in my times. It certainly explains why the last 3 years, I have been running faster.


Putting a wrap on the last 10 years by the Cool Down Runner

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Goals for ‘10

Okay, I have closed the door on the '09 season so now it is time to turn my attention to the New Year and decide what I really want to accomplish in '10. That's in fact good question and I am hoping by putting my thoughts down here that I can get a decent plan laid out.

So let me start by listing out my athletic goals then explaining why I want to do each. By the way, I have whole other set of personal goals that I want to accomplish but that is for another time and place

For my athletic goals, being able to explain why you want to do something is almost as important as the goal itself. By explaining it, you are backing up your desire to achieve a doable task. I say this because running is just like life and similar life is like running. We all have up and down but the important thing is to keep moving forward and keep our eye on the goal.

Hence, here's my shot at '10 goals.

  • Run a sub 2:40 marathon
  • Capture the Master's 8k RRCA –NC Championship
  • Ride in a century
  • Run under my 24:52 for the Lowes 10 mile time trial time
  • Attempt Duathlon
  • Return to OBX
  • Master's Team for the USAT&F Club Championship

Sub 2:40 given a fast course and good competition, I believe is still within my reach. I have done it each of the last 2 years and I feel confident that I can get it again this year.

Leading up to my spring marathon, I found a race having the RRCA NC Open and Master's Championship for the 8k. I have not run this race in several years, but it happens to be in the right spot for me in my prep for a spring marathon. I feel I have a decent shot at it.

In '09 my longest ride in an official event was 60 miles. My longest ride outside of an official event was 70 miles. Once you get to 70 miles, 100 miles doesn't seem all that much further. Now, I just need to find a century some time during the summer months.

24:52 was my PR at Lowes Motor Speedway in '09. Can I crack that number this year, we have to see. I have definitely been riding a lot more. Usually, the winter months my bike just collects dust until about April. But with my new trainer, I have been wearing out the rear tires pretty fast.

Duathlon, I guess it is time for me to step outside the running box and try something new. The Duathlon looks promising and there is an event here in Charlotte in late February. The cold might be a little tough to handle on the bike but the opportunity and the timing is right so I plan to put my name down for this event.

OBX, if I return to OBX this year, I will be running this marathon for the 3rd year in a row. Even thou, the drive to OBX is a long one, I still enjoy the trip. There something about the area and the people that pulls me back.

After running the Club Championship in Kentucky this year, one my major goals for '10 is to put together a Master's team. And with the Championship coming to McAlpine next year, travel should not be an issue. Now, all I have to do is find 8 guys between 40 and 49 who are willing to stay in shape and injury free until December of '10.

Well, these are my goals for '10. Nothing appears to be too outrageous. My only concern is the 24:52 at Lowes. I was riding pretty hard on that day. I don't know if I can take down the precious seconds that are needed to break this time. But then, I am still relative new to the bike so who know. Wednesday nights should really be fun over the spring and summer months.

Coming the first week of Jan will be my '10 racing schedule. Be on the lookout for it.



Goals for the Cool Down Runner in '10


Saturday, December 26, 2009

22 Miler

The day after Christmas may be the worst day for running throughout the entire year. If you are like me, you took in way more calories than one person should ever consume. Then to get up the next morning and attempt to run 22 miles on a long run is nothing less than a terrible idea.

The first 4 or 5 miles I felt pretty lethargic, but the legs were turning over and the mind was into the run. Then around 10 miles things just seem to go dark. The legs started tightening up and the feet started hurting.

I tried to focus my mind on other things but with 10 miles still to run there wasn't much else I could do but just keep running

I was certainly was happy to reach the 18 mile point which meant it was time to turn toward home.

Turning into my development my Garmin clicked over to 22 miles, I could have stopped right there. The workout was done and there was little need to run any further. But my house was still another ½ mile into the development. I stopped my Garmin but I didn't stop running. I started this run at my driveway so that is where I needed to finish.

4 minutes later, I coasted up to my driveway. I was never happy to be home and know that I am one long run closer to MBM.


Tales from the Cool Down Runner.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The rearview mirror – full of ‘09

With barely a week left in '09, I guess it is my time to reflect back on the year that was.

In all honesty, '09 was a year with some major up and downs for me. The year started off with ITB in my right knee which dropped me out of the Shamrock Marathon, March saw the judge finally sign off on my divorce (never a fun experience), and then late October my mother passed away after a long illness. To say the least, my life has been struggle at times.

But there have definitely have been some bright spots.

I met this new group of runners that call themselves the Charlotte Running Club and they breathed some new life into our running community. This was something that is much needed across charlotte and probably something that I needed as well.

On the racing, you sometimes get a few chances to win a race or two. But this year, I actually won some championships. I won the RRCA 5k NC Championship in the spring at Beach Blast and the USATF-NC and RRCA-NC Marathon Master's Championship in the fall at OBX. I count myself lucky for being in the right place at the right time. Isn't that what life is all about.

A special note about OBX, I was hoping for a better time, but I am a survivor and on that day it was all about surviving.

Good thing I had a better marathon in the spring when I ran 2:39 in a late spring marathon called "Run the Red" in Pennsylvania.

Then there were the 5k races where I dipped under 17 minutes in two 5k races in the fall. I have not been under 17 minutes in 2 years.

For most people, this might just be enough but I am not one that likes set idle for very long.

During the summer I picked up a new road bike and started riding on a regular basis.

Took my first trip to Lowes Motor Speedway for a time Trial in July and by September had lowered my 10 mile split to 24:52. And while I enjoyed the time trials, I was also riding for distance. I pushed my longest ride to 70 miles.

Keeping all of this training moving was constant challenge and to make it even more stressful, I was in a tight battle with Steve Spada in the RFYL GP series. For the last 2 years, the 2 of us have battle race in race out and never being more than a few seconds apart.

Steve's a touch competitor and he pushed me to work harder.

At the end of the year I did in '09 were to run the USATF Club XC Championship. I never ran XC in high school or college so sprinting across an open field on with a huge group of middle age runners was not something even on my todo list. But there I was on a cold field in the middle of December sprinting through the grass, breathing harder than I do in any road race, and getting covered up in mud. It was quite an experience.

So for the year, I did 2 marathons, 3 – 10k, 1 – 15k, 2 – 4 mi., and a bunch of 5k races – totally 22 races in all. More or less, the number of races that I did was on par with previous years. And, it was down a little from the '07 when I did something like 38 races.

A long the way, there were times when I was so tired that I wondered why I do it. But there were other times, when I really enjoyed the moment and knew exactly why I push myself even when I didn't have to do it.

With my thoughts



Monday, December 21, 2009

26 Degrees this morning

Riding down Independence this morning, there is a big sign showing a time 6:26 AM and temperature of 36 degrees. 1110 AM radio was saying otherwise. 1110 felt the actual temperate was closer 25 degrees. Personally, I like the temperature on the sign better.

Getting out of my car I felt the cold chill hit my hands and neck. Running tempo runs on very cold morning is always tough.

After a 2 mile "warm up" I headed down McAlpine from the Old Bell entrance. My cheeks felt the cold and my lips tingled.

The first 2 miles was slower than I expected. I guess by body was still needing to warm up. The 3rd mile was better. By the 4th mile things were good. Miles 4 through 8 were all run at 6:20 pace. Not bad considering I was bundled up like someone charging up the north face of Everest.

Not too many people out running at Mc Alpine. But there were a few walking braving the cold temperatures.

I guess each of us figured other was nuts for running on a day light this one.

A quick little 2 mile warm down and I was back in my car with the heart turned up full. Ah, the hot air.

Someone remind me why I was wanted cooler temps in August again. LOL


Tales from the Cool Down Runner.

Friday, December 18, 2009

12 Days of Running

Last night I was listening to my daughters sing in our school's Christmas program. As they were singing the 12 days of Christmas, it started me thinking about creating my own running version of this song. So below is my attempt at the 12 days of Christmas from a runner's perspective.


On the first day of Running, 
our Charlotte Running Club set out for me 
Mr. Hydro on the Truck of Aaron's car. 

On the second day of Running, 
my running friends gave to me 
Two pairs of Brooks Racing Flats, 
And a drink from Mr. Hydro on the trunk of Aaron's car. 

On the third day of Running, 
my running friends gave to me 
Three Eddie's Rollers with my college colors, 
Two pairs of Brooks Racing Flats, 
And a drink from Mr. Hydro on the trunk of Aaron's car. 

On the fourth day of Running, 
my running friends gave to me 
Four Gatorades Fruit Flavored, 
Three Eddie's Rollers with my college colors, 
Two pairs of Brooks Racing Flats, 
And a drink from Mr. Hydro on the trunk of Aaron's car. 

On the fifth day of Running, 
my running friends gave to me 
Five Power Gels caffeine free, 
Four Gatorades Fruit Flavored, 
Three Eddie's Rollers with my college colors, 
Two pairs of Brooks Racing Flats, 
And a drink from Mr. Hydro on the trunk of Aaron's car. 

On the sixth day of Running, 
my running friends gave to me 
Six Cliff Bars (Mini) various flavors, 
Five Power Gels caffeine free, 
Four Gatorades Fruit Flavored, 
Three Eddie's Rollers with my college colors, 
Two pairs of Brooks Racing Flats, 
And a drink from Mr. Hydro on the trunk of Aaron's car. 

On the seventh day of Running, 
my running friends gave to me 
Seven swimming workouts for cross training, 
Six Cliff Bars (Mini) various flavors, 
Five Power Gels caffeine free, 
Four Gatorades Fruit Flavored, 
Three Eddie's Rollers with my college colors, 
Two pairs of Brooks Racing Flats, 
And a drink from Mr. Hydro on the trunk of Aaron's car. 

On the eighth day of Running, 
my running friends gave to me 
Eight buddies for a tempo run, 
Seven swimming workouts for cross training, 
Six Cliff Bars (Mini) various flavors, 
Five Power Gels caffeine free, 
Four Gatorades Fruit Flavored, 
Three Eddie's Rollers with my college colors, 
Two pairs of Brooks Racing Flats, 
And a drink from Mr. Hydro on the trunk of Aaron's car. 

On the ninth day of Running, 
my running friends gave to me 
Nine Protein Recovery Bars, 
Eight buddies for a tempo run, 
Seven swimming workouts for cross training, 
Six Cliff Bars (Mini) various flavors, 
Five Power Gels caffeine free, 
Four Gatorades Fruit Flavored, 
Three Eddie's Rollers with my college colors, 
Two pairs of Brooks Racing Flats, 
And a drink from Mr. Hydro on the trunk of Aaron's car. 

On the tenth day of Running, 
my running friends gave to me 
Ten entries into the RFYL GP races, 
Nine Protein Recovery Bars, 
Eight buddies for a tempo run, 
Seven swimming workouts for cross training, 
Six Cliff Bars (Mini) various flavors, 
Five Power Gels caffeine free, 
Four Gatorades Fruit Flavored, 
Three Eddie's Rollers with my college colors, 
Two pairs of Brooks Racing Flats, 
And a drink from Mr. Hydro on the trunk of Aaron's car. 

On the eleventh day of Running, 
my running friends gave to me 
Eleven pairs of Thorlo Socks, 
Ten entries into the RFYL GP races, 
Nine Protein Recovery Bars, 
Eight buddies for a tempo run, 
Seven swimming workouts for cross training, 
Six Cliff Bars (Mini) various flavors, 
Five Power Gels caffeine free, 
Four Gatorades Fruit Flavored, 
Three Eddie's Rollers with my college colors, 
Two pairs of Brooks Racing Flats, 
And a drink from Mr. Hydro on the trunk of Aaron's car. 

On the twelfth day of Running, 
my running friends gave to me 
Twelve miles of support during a long run, 
Eleven pairs of Thorlo Socks, 
Ten entries into the RFYL GP races, 
Nine Protein Recovery Bars, 
Eight buddies for a tempo run, 
Seven swimming workouts for cross training, 
Six Cliff Bars (Mini) various flavors, 
Five Power Gels caffeine free, 
Four Bottles of Gatorades Fruit Flavored, 
Three Eddie's Rollers with my college colors, 
Two pairs of Brooks Racing Flats, 
And a drink from Mr. Hydro on the trunk of Aaron's car!





Happy Holidays from the Cool Down Runner

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Experia Socks – Thunder Road Expo – USATF Team Cross Country have in common

Okay, this is an easy one to answer – me.

This all started a few weeks ago when I posted a blog about my experiences with the Thorlo Experia Socks. A few days later, a comment was posted my blog from Tracy Harries a representative from Thorlo corporate.

Talk about getting into trouble with the big boys or in this case the ladies.

In my blog, I provided my opinion comparing the Experia Socks with the Crew Cut Thorlo Socks. And, it seems that the owner of Thorlo found my post and didn't quite agree with my assessment. He put Tracy on it to help set me straight.

A few emails later, Tracy explanation cleared up a lot. It also headed me down the road of going to the Thunder Road Marathon expo and meeting up with Tracy.

Tracy was great and explained to me about their line of socks.

I have been a Thorlo guy for years and will continue to do so as long as I am running.

But the story doesn't end here.

After meeting up with Tracy at the expo, I headed out to Lexington, KY for the USAT&F Club Championships. It is hard to tell from the photos but I was wearing my Thorlo Experia Socks during the XC Championship. XC Spikes are very narrow shoes so wearing a thick sock just doesn't work very well. That's why I took my Experia socks. Plus, I rarely if ever get blisters while wearing my Thorlos so what better way to test new sock than to wear them in my "NEW" XC spikes.

Just as I expected, I came through the race muddy and tired but with no blisters. This is always a good thing when you try out a new pair of shoes under race conditions for the first time.

Next up, I will test them in a few road races and if it goes well, I will use them at the Myrtle Beach Marathon.

As Paul Harvey use to say "Now you know the rest of the story"


Tales from the Cool Down Runner





USAT&F Team Cross Country Championships – Lexington, KY.

This past weekend, I took a 48 hour field trip to Lexington, KY for the USAT&F Team Cross Country Championships. Along for the trip were Ben, Dan, and myself. Ben and I were running. Dan volunteered to be our designated driver.

We left on Friday afternoon for the drive heading up 77 and over 64 into KY. For the most part, it was very smooth drive. We made a couple of quick stops for food and drinks. We only encountered one traffic jam along the way, but with Dan’s trusty iPhone, he navigated us right around it. I have no idea how he did it but he provided us some excellent views of Christmas lights.

Saturday morning arrived cold and drive. We arrived at the cross country course about 10:20. My race was out 11:30 and Ben’s race was at 1:30.

We picked up our packets and in addition, I picked up a nice souvenir sweat shirt with the event logo on it. Then it was back to the car to change and head out for some warm up miles on the course.

There is something unique about Cross Country Running that road racing just doesn’t offer. Maybe it is the fact that it takes men and yes, women back to their youth when they ran wild through the grassy parks and fields near their homes. Maybe it is the opportunity to run in the mud. Maybe it is running in very light shoes with what some people would consider nails sticking out of the bottom. Or maybe it is just the challenges that cross country running offers.

I never ran cross country in high school and pretty much my past cross experience has been running around McAlpine which is not true cross country.

During my warm up I found the footing difficult. There were sections where it was thick grass. Other sections had frozen ground and still other sections were quite muddy.

We lined up across this huge field and after a few last minute instructions we were off. Within ¾ of mile, our course narrowed down and people pushing and jostling for room. Some guys were moving up and some were moving back. And the race didn’t really string out until 3 ½ miles into it.

I kindof bided my time just staying out of the way and trying to not get either knocked down or spiked by another runner.

My first 3 miles were in 17:39 which was well behind the overall leaders. 4 miles went by in 23:55 and 5 miles went by in 29:59. I crossed the finish line in 37:47 which felt like I had just run a 35 minute 10k.

XC race are lean on the after race snacks with no munchies. There was only a cooler with water and Gatorade.

After the race I strolled around for a few minutes, met up with Ben and Dan, and then headed back to the car for some warm clothes.

Running cross country is way harder than running on the roads. Your feet are landing awkwardly which carries up through your legs and body. In the later miles, you start to find out just how much work the Gluts and hip flexors are doing since they really start to burn.

This weekend’s course really didn’t have any flat sections. You were either going uphill or downhill. And you were either running into the wind as the course looped south or had a tail wind when you were running north. Honestly, I never really felt the tail wind but some said it was there.

One feature I really like about cross country races is that they are different races in the same day. I got to see the Master’s women race, the open women race, and the open men race. That opportunity is not typically something that is part of a road race.

And, while cross country fields are relatively small compared to most road races, these fields are a lot more competitive.

Something other races might take note of is age numbers. In the master’s race, each competitor ran with his age group listed on his back.

Personally, I saw at least 2 50 year old runners pulling away from me during the race. Looking at the results, you had to look all the way down into the 60s before you found an age group with times slower than my time.

In looking at the crowed during the awards ceremony I would say it was a predominately middle aged crowd more men than women, but still the women are holding their own.

In checking the results, I finished 135th in the master’s race and 31st in my age group. When you take into consideration that I was running against some of the best masters runners in the US, being in the top 50% is pretty good accomplishment.

Looking toward next year, I am determined to see if I can put together a master’s team for the ’10 race. The USAT&F is bringing the 6K and 10k XC Team Championships to Charlotte, NC and to McAlpine Park.

Anyone interested in running on a master’s team, let me know.

Below is few of the master’s team from the race Saturday. From the times, you might believe that they ran on the road, but I can positively say no, they all ran on the grass.

Men 40 - 44
1 1 Tracy Lokken, 44, Marquette, MI 32:10 Front Line Rt M4
Men 45 - 49
4 1 Peter Magill, 48, South Pasadena, CA 32:26 Compex Racing M4
Men 50 - 54
42 1 Joe Sheeran, 52, Ellensburg, WA 34:45 Eastside Runners
Men 55 - 59
57 1 John Barbour, 55, Gloucester, MA 35:06 Greater Lowell Rr M5

200 196 JrM Ben Hovis, 31, Charlotte, NC 33:30

Saturday, December 12, 2009

The morning of the XC Race

I have determined that my sleep number is 50 after a pretty good night's sleep. The temps are cold – 20 with the wind, the temps are in the teens.

Looking out from the 16th floor, there are very clouds in the sky.

It should be around 34 at my race time 11:30.

We are going to head out to the park around 10 this morning.


More later today.

Friday, December 11, 2009

We have arrived

After many hours of driving, we have arrived in Lexington, KY.

Seven hours is a long time, but Dan and Ben helped it pass pretty easily. Dan was cracking one joke after another and Ben must have played every song on Dan's iPod.

We ran into some traffic issues on the far side of Charleston, WV, but Dan with his trusty iPhone lead us on a overland route and back to the interstate on the far side of the traffic jam. I have no idea where we were but I saw a ton of Christmas lights. Ben took a lot of pictures along the way. Definitely, if you are interested in seeing his pictures, you ask him for a copy.

We have now settled in at the Hilton in Downtown Lexington on the 16 floor. This might be my only chance this year to do some altitude training by sleeping high and training low.

The plan is to head out to the course around 10ish to get checked-in and get in a little warm up.

My race goes off at 11:30 and Ben's race goes off at 1:30.

We circle back by the hotel to get cleaned up and go by the awards ceremony and dinner.

So far it has been a good start to this road trip.



Tales from the Cool Down Runner on a road trip.

USAT&F XC Championships tomorrow

Here I am setting in the back seat of Dan's car as we ride up to Lexington, KY for the USAT&F Team XC Championships. I have been thinking about it but really I don't have any true race strategy going into tomorrow.

I come from a road racing back ground so running XC is like running trail races for me. I just want to survive.

More later when we reach the hotel.


Tales from Cool Down Runner.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

MBM Training Progress

My Myrtle Beach Training started on December 1st. In doing so my miles are starting to go up and the intensity has started to increase ever so slightly.

One of the things that I have noticed is that my legs don't have any bounce in them. Or to describe it another way, my energy levels are not at their usual levels.

Given that I am usually starting my marathon training several months separated from my last marathon, I suspect that this is the main reason.

There isn't much that I can do about it at this point but just continue to work through it.

By January 8, OBX will have been in my rear view mirror by 2 months so hopefully the legs will start to show some life. And, it will be at just the right time. During January I will be way more focused on speed work both on and off the track.

For now, I will continue working the hill workouts, tempo runs, and 20 mile long runs.



Tales from the Cool Down Runner.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Footage from Southern Foot Locker Regional

A few weeks ago when I attended the Southern Foot Locker Regional, I shot some foot age with my Flip and Share.

The footage shows the start of the open and masters races. Then I captured some of the mid race action. I would have caught more but the darn batteries when totally dead.

Enjoy it.

Start of the Open and Masters Races at Foot Locker Southern Regional

Mid Race Action

Wintery Mix for the weekend

This morning I was checking the weather in Lexington, KY to see what was in store for my XC race this weekend. Conditions on Friday and Sunday look pretty good but for Saturday, the weather looks to be a Wintery Mix with a high temp of 39 degrees. There might even be some snow on ground for our 10k race. I couldn't think any better conditions to test out my XC spikes.

Then, I turned on the TV and was listening to the weather man. It seems that Charlotte will be having a wintery mix as well for the ThunderRoad Marathon. Just wanted everyone to know that my spikes are taken, but if you want to get a pair spikes for the marathon, I can definitely give you some pointers. (LOL)


Tales from Cool Down Runner.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Official Pace Car

Yesterday afternoon, I swung my sleigh over to the RFYL Dilworth store to redeem my gift from the RFYL GP Series. As I pulled into the store parking lot, what to my wondering my wondering eyes did I see but "The new Official RFYL GP Pace Car". Clearly RFYL is raising the bar for next year. From unnamed sources I heard that this pace car will be used to pace the fields for all RFYL races.

Sorry, I didn't have my camera. I usually have it with me on always but for some reason, I left it at home.

Just so you know – I call shotgun for the first race J


Tales of the Cool Down Runner


Friday, December 4, 2009

Thorlo Experia Socks

It was back in October when I ventured by the Thorlo store to pick up some running socks. Usually two or three times a year I drive to Statesville, NC for socks. There is a Thorlo store just off the 77 before you get to Statesville.

There are two of reasons why I make this trip. The first reason is that it usually precedes a marathon. I always like to have a new pair Thorlo crew cut running socks for my marathon. The 2nd reason is that because this is a Thorlo Store I get a chance to check out all of the other types of socks that Thorlo offers.

Last year, I picked up two pair of compression socks which I continue to wear after long runs.

This year, I stumbled across a new type of Thorlo socks called Experia. These socks have the same padding in the forefoot and in the heel as your normal Thorlo Running Socks, but the rest of the sock is an ultra thin material typically found only in racing socks.

After puzzling over them for a few minutes I decided to pick up two pair. One would be used for testing leading up to OBX and if the testing went well, I would use the other pair on race day.

A few days later, the first pair was tested in a track speed workout. While the test went well, I wasn’t convinced enough to switch up socks for race day.

No don’t go away thinking that I shelved the socks entirely. I continue to use them on my speed days and I use them in my cycling shoes. For some reason, the padding is perfect in the forefoot of my cycling shoes and the thin uppers don’t leave my feet feeling cramped.

If you are looking for a racing sock, I would definitely recommend swinging by the Thorlo Store to check them out.

Tales from the Cool Down Runner wearing Thorlo Racing Socks.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Goals for the day

My goals for today are:


Finish work – check J

Get shoes soaked – check J

Get socks soaked – check J

Get running clothes soaked – check J

Get body cold and soaked – check J

Complete a 14 mile run in the pouring rain – check J


Looks like I accomplish everything that I set out to do for today.


Tales from the Cool Down Runner.

Time to get wet

Someone once told me that I was the most mentally tough person he knew. At that moment, it gave me pause. Never before had I considered myself mentally tough.

To me I just don't let the situation dictate my ability to overcome it.

Take today for example, it would be far too easy to hop on my tread mill and do a few miles so I could call it a day.

But if I did, then I wouldn't be as prepared come race. I often find the most successful people in this world are the people who handle adversity well.

And who knows, it might be raining on race day.

Time to go get soaked.


Tales from the Cool Down Runner minutes before he goes for a run in the rain.

3000 Mile Club

At the end of each month, comes the time to total up the monthly and yearly mileage. In Oct, my running totals surged over 3000 for another year and now my biking totals have reached that same magical figure as well. For the year '09, I have so far run 3356 miles and biked 3143 miles. That is pretty close to running across the United States and then biking home.

When the year started, my 3000 mile goal was in series jeopardy. Shortly after this New Year arrived, my right knee decided it was over worked and developed a bad case of ITB. Image that. But thing recovery quickly which allowed me to rebound and still attain my goals.

Reaching 3000 plateau also put a done stamp on my effort to run 3000 and bike 3000 miles in the same year.

But as these numbers rolled around my head, I wondered about the totals from previous years.

The '07 and '08 totals were relatively handy to track down.

Going back to '07, I ran 3407 miles. Then in '08, I ran 3764 which according to AthletiCore that is an average of 71 miles per week.

Bring the grand total to 10, 527 miles to be exact, and I am not done with this year.

That is a lot miles and a lot of tread being worn off my running shoes.

I wasn't sure of this number until I looked it up but the distance of the earth is 24,901.46 miles along the equator and 24, 859.73 miles going through the poles.

Meaning in the last 3 years I am pretty darn close to running half way around the earth. And if you give me credit for the previous 20 years of continuous running, I should have completed my fair share of world laps.

These were my goals for the year.

What were your goals 500, 1000, 1500, 2000 miles? Is anyone else going to hit 3000 miles?


Tales from the Mileage Club

Sunday, November 29, 2009

The First Annual BS Awards

Out of Nowhere award: Jay Holder.

Jay came out of nowhere to take the top spot in the RFYL GP series. Would have never guessed this at the beginning of the year.

Most Improved Award: Alejandro Arreola.

Alejandro started the year running just under 18 minutes for a 5k but took a huge step forward to run in the low 16s by April. Along the way, he started winning races and finished among the leaders in the RFYL GP series.

Most Enthusiasm Award: Billy Shue.

Billy would drive across Charlotte to just share the news about a workout.

Has us looking over our shoulder Award: Alana Hadley.

At 12 years old, it is only a matter of time before Alana catches all of us.

Weekend Warrior award: Richard Hefner and Bobby Aswell.

If there is a race anywhere near charlotte, one or both of these individuals will be racing in it.

Running in Pain: Peter Browne.

Peter ran and raced most of this year with a foot injury that would put most of us on the sidelines.

Biggest Influence on the Charlotte Running Community Award: Mr Hydro of the Charlotte Running Club.

Mr Hydro shows up regularly at the Charlotte Running Club workouts and hands out water to anyone that needs it. Without his support where would we be?

Mega Mileage Award: Nathan Stanford.

Nathan runs 1, 2, and sometimes 3 times per day and regularly totals over a 100 miles per week.

Unusual Training Methods Award: Chris Lamperski.

Chris spent plenty of time preparing for the Beer Mile and didn't even need to taper for the event.

Patients Award: Ben Hovis.

Ben earned this award for his patients while running the Hendrick Bone Marrow ½ marathon course and not getting upset for being misdirected along the way.

Taking the Lead Award: Jay, Aaron, and Caitlin.

Jay, Aaron, and Caitlin for forming the Charlotte Running Club and giving us a new group of friends to hang with.

The Right stuff Award: Megan Hovis.

Megan had a rough day at OBX and was passed for the lead during the last ½ mile of the race. What did she do first after finishing the race? She smiled and congratulated the winner. Now that is class.

Greatest Running Promoter Award: Peter Asciutto

If something running related is going on in the Albemarle area, Peter is most likely involved in it. He works tirelessly to help people with their running endeavors.

I have a Plan Award: Stan Austin.

Without going through a typical marathon training plan, Stan put together a great race plan to achieve his goal at the Richmond Marathon and then went out and did it.

From 0 to Marathon Racer: Paul Mainwaring

Paul came off a summer of being injured and no running to now be ready to run a fast time at Thunder Road. Way to go Paul.

Putting us on the Map Award: Theoden Janes

Running across the Charlotte has largely been unnoticed for years. That is until Theoden came along to put us on the map.

Out this World Award: Cody Angel

Well maybe not out of this world, but out of this country. Cody is following his passion for running and training like a professional in Australia for a month.

Wildest Running Club Name: Crazy Legs.

Crazy for a Running Club name – enough said.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Foot Locker Cross Country Championships – South Regional

Foot Locker Cross Country Championships – South Regional kicked off at McAlpine Creek Park this morning. The open and masters races got show off and running at 8AM and were followed at 30 minute intervals for Freshman, Sophomore, and Junior/Senior races. Next, there were seeded races for the very fast and the event finished off with events for 10 and under, 11-12, and 13-14 year olds.

Frosty conditions greeted the open and masters runners but that didn’t stop Stan and Brian from running in singlet’s and from posting very fast times. Brian crossed the finish line in the 16:30 and Stan was close behind with a time in the 18:30s.

Having lived in Charlotte for 20 years, this was my first time to attend this event. Definitely, there was a lot of excitement in the air. If you are not up for running it next, you should definitely come out to watch and support. That’s what I was doing today because I knew several individuals that had entered the race.

One of those runners was Tom Torkelson. As always, Tom never seems to miss an opportunity to race. And not be out done, Bobby Aswell Jr was enjoying a chance to take this weekly race addiction to a cross country course. Then, there were two girls from App State that finished the open race. Both very nice and ran very fast.

Beyond the racers, there was a preverbal who’s who from the charlotte running community watching: Jay, Aaron, and Lana to name a few.

Also I got my first change to meet Meredith from our TrySports team and Justin who are my co-director compatriots.

Certainly this is a must see race for next year so put it on your calendar to watch if you don’t plan on running.

Tales from Foot Locker South Regional by the Cool Down Runner

Thursday, November 26, 2009

The Unknown Runner

There is a question that I have been meaning to ask. If an event is a chip timed race, how could there be runners with chip times but no names?

I mean you must have signed up and picked up your chip and number. How does this happen?

Please share if you know.



Tales from the Unknown Cool Down Runner J

Charlotte Turkey Trot 8K Recap

The Charlotte Turkey Trot 8k kicked off at 9 AM this morning at the South Park Mall. After being way from this race for several years, I decided to return this year.

I knew I wouldn't be in the greatest shape but the opportunity to burn some calories and spend time with other runners was just too tempting.

So a little after 7AM this morning I headed across town and arrived about 7:35.

The parking lot was empty but filled up fast as the race time approach. And it emptied just as quickly after the race.

After picking up my packet and making the usual pre race stops, I headed back to my car to change over to my warm up gear.

Steve Spada and I joined up for a 2 mile warm up. It was nice to catch up and hear about his New York Marathon race.

Then, it was back to change over to my racing flats and head to the starting line.

The Turkey Trot 8k is one of the biggest races in Charlotte with 6000 runners. There is something awesome about being surrounded by 5999 people who share the same interest as I do.

There would be no splits from today's race. I started put on my Garmin but then, I laid it back in the car. Today, it was about running by feel.

From the start, I spotted Steve just ahead of me.

Followed him for about ½ mile before passing and then followed Logan for about one and half miles. We passed Shonts along the way. Then Chaz Hinkle came by me just before the 2 mile. He was looking strong. I was not feeling the greatest, but I tried to stay with him.

Going up Runnymede Rd Chaz pulled me by several yards. Along about this point my Gluts were telling my brain that it was time to slow down. Believe me I really wanted to slow down. But once we were back on Sharon Rd. I thought I could recovery.

I was able to get back to his shoulder. However, my legs were just about maxed out. I thought I would feel better once we rolled over the top on Sharon Rd. But when we hit the downhill section, Chaz put it into another gear. At this point, I could not match his effort. I don't think it was conditioning that held me back at this point because I was not in an anaerobic state. More or less, it was the legs just didn't have that extra gear that I needed. Understandably, I really didn't expect to have this extra gear. After all, my focus had been on OBX and with only 2 ½ weeks between OBX and this race, there was no opportunity for doing any speed work.

The gap between Chaz and me grew to about 40 seconds over the last mile and half.

One other runner came by me with about ½ mile left in the race, and this last ½ mile is pretty tough section. While it is not steep, my legs just didn't want to run up hill at this point.

Steve, Brian, Paul, and Aaron ran with me for another 3 miles to cool down after the race.

I had heard a lot about Turkeys being given away but I really didn't know what they meant until I saw the awards. The overall and master's runners get a trophy shaped like a Turkey. If I had known about this unique award, I might have dug a little deeper. Just kidding, I didn't have any more gears today.

But I did post something on Chaz's facebook wall. I congratulated him on his race and told him that I would be back next year. I was going to make a run at one of those Turkeys.

Then, it was time to head home and prepare for the Thanksgiving dinner.

I want to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving and to thank you for reading my blog.

No one ever said that I was a great writer, but sharing about my passion for running is something that I enjoy very much.



Tales from the Cool Down Runner on sharing a moment with 5999 friends at the Charlotte Turkey Trot 8k

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

My first XC Spikes

After 26 years of running, I test drove my new XC Spikes. Yes, that right. After 26 years of running, I bought and started the break in process for a new pair of Saucony Shay cross country spikes.

This might surprise some people. They may have assumed that I ran in high school or college and would have worn spikes. But no, I never have.

Until my Tabata workout this morning when laced up my new spikes, I could honestly say that I never put on spikes of any kind.

To back up a bit, a few weeks ago I was invited to travel along on a trip to run in the USAT&F Cross Country Team Championships. Not wanting to be the only one running without spikes, I decided to break down and buy myself a pair.

On Monday, the UPS man delivered them to my door.

Today, I took them with me so that when I did my Tabata workout, I could start to get the feel of them.

When I finished my normal run, I pulled my XC shoes out of my car and put in the spikes.

I carried them over to the grass and put them on.

The Saucony Shay spikes seem to run just a little large –maybe ¼ to ½ size large. Also they are very narrow. I thought my Nike shoes were narrow but these Shay shoes are extremely narrow.

They fit so snugly that I don’t need to lace them up very tight to keep them on.

Clearly running in them is different. They are light and they grab the ground. I found myself adjusting my stride somewhat so that it felt better.

About half way through the workout, I felt like I was starting to get the hang of them.

I did notice how hard they felt in the mid foot. That is something that I have never felt in my regular running shoes.

The plan is to continue to do my Tabata and Diagonal workouts in them until the XC race. After the XC race they will go on the self until the summer track season.

Tales from the Cool Down Runner with XC spikes.

Turkey Trot

Wow, it seems like only yesterday that I finished OBX and now, I have another race tomorrow. I really haven't give much thought to the Turkey Trot 8k. In hindsight, I am not really sure why I signed up for it. But having done so, I guess I am on the hook for it.

In looking at the web site, it looks like the course as changed some since my last visit to this race. Definitely, I am always a fan of downhill finishes.

I don't have any real goals or objectives for this race other than; I need to burn some extra calories before I set down at the table Thursday afternoon.

I do know that I am not in prime racing shape. But regardless, I will run hard and see what I can do.

Running under 29 minutes will be a plus but running over 29 minutes will not be a disappointment. After running so many hard races this year, I am due a "game off" race.

If anyone is interested, I will be running between 2 and 3 mile warm up starting about 8:10 from the starting line. And will be doing a couple of miles warm down afterward.

If you are interested, pop me an email or facebook post or just show up. No charge for running with me. J


Tales from the Cool Down Runner

Monday, November 23, 2009

HEED Powder by Hammer Nutrition

Heading out Saturday morning for my 20 mile run and later my 23 mile ride to the top of Morrow Mt., I prepared a couple of water bottles.

My first bottle was just plain water but in the 2nd bottle I added the HEED powder from Hammer Nutrition.

The packets come in single serving sizes weighing about 29 grams and can be mixed with the 16 to 24 oz. of water. Which works perfect, if you have one of those new TrySports water bottles.

According to the packaging, it is a complete–in-one fuel mix.

Not knowing much about the flavors, I selected the Melon flavor. To me, it tastes like a mild watermelon.

One package contains 100 calories of Carbohydrates, no fat, and no protein. It has several minerals listed on the package and also contains the sweetener xylitol.

I started sipping on the mixture before my ride and continued sipping it throughout my ride. Never once did I feel like I was running low on energy. Also the mixture seemed to settle well on my stomach which is always a plus.

The labeling from the packet indicates that it also buffers lactic acid build up and helps prevent cramps.

This was probably a good thing. My legs felt a little overloaded from both workouts.

By the end of the ride, I had consumed the entire mixture and pretty didn’t feel any ill effects.

Definitely, the HEED Powder is worth a 2nd look but possibly a different flavor. Maybe I will try the orange next time.

Tales from the Cool Down Runner powered by HEED

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Idiot Biathlon 11.21.09

A couple of weeks ago Peter from Vac&Dash sent out an email about a group run in Albemarle. This was not your average group run rather it is a run for only the brave at heart.

Peter calls this group run the Idiot 19.7 miler run. Why is called Idiot run? Well, they start this run at 5 or 5:30 AM in the morning and run from the Y in Albemarle to the top of Morrow Mt. and back. If you have never been to Morrow Mt., the drive up is hard on your car so you can just image what it is like heading up on foot.

This was not my first endeavor for the Idiot run. I had first attempted it in January of ’08 so I knew what I to expect. But there are always a few new brave souls willing to take up this challenge.

After a few days of thinking about this run, I thought I was recovered enough from OBX that I could do it. So finally, I worked up the courage and sent Peter an email. I was coming back to run the Idiot Run for a 2nd time.

That was about a week and ½ before the run. Then this week, for some stupid reason, the idea of taking my bike over and riding afterward seemed like a good idea.
I emailed Peter again. This time I asked if he could circulate an email to see if any of the other Idiot runners were interested in riding back to the top of Morrow Mt. after we finished our run.

Peter couldn’t find any takers from the other Idiot runners but he did find a cyclist willing to ride with me.

Saturday morning, I was up early 3:30 am and packing up everything that I would need for the day.

By 4:30 I was on the road to Albemarle.

By 5:30 I was changing into my running cloths and shoes and making ready for a run to the top of Morrow Mt.

Before the start we took a few pictures and soon we were off. I immediately hooked up with three other guys and we ran together most of the way over to Morrow Mt. Only once we hit the steep section of the mountain climb did we start to separate.

Knowing that I was going to double up today, I took along 4 Power Gels. Definitely, I didn’t want to take any chances on letting my energy levels drop to low.

On the way down from the top, a couple of guys caught back up with me and we ran to the together on the road back to the Albemarle. Two of us did get a little gap when the pace started to drop into the 6:30s for the last 5 miles.

Once back at the Y it was time to change over to my cycling gear and make ready for the ride back to Morrow Mt.

Peter hooked me up with Curt . Curt was a former Triathlete who is now a cyclist. Curt is 60 years old and is trying to ride to the top of Morrow Mt. 60 times this year.

He is good cyclist and I was having trouble keeping up on the flats and down hills. But then my strength is on the up hills. Fortunately, the course is rolling which afforded me many opportunities to catch up.

The climb to the top of Morrow Mt. was tough. My quads were really burning and the burning only increased as I neared the top.

But then the fun would start on the decent. Before leaving the top, I checked both the front and rear brakes.

Everything was a okay, and I headed off on the decent.

I checked my Garmin and the speed flashed up to 35 MPH. Coming into the first hair pen curve, I was hard on the brakes and sliding the tires. I made it through the turn and head off over the rest of the downhill section. There was no more need for the brakes for the rest of the downhill section.

Boy, was this the fun part.

Curt waited on me a little ways down the road and we rode the rest of the way back to Y.

Setting in the back of my CRV to rest, I marveled how perfect this day was. I am not getting younger but doing stuff like this sure is fun.

Tales from the Cool Down Runner after finishing the first and only Idiot Biathlon.

PDS Pre Foot Locker Time Trial

There is nothing better than spending a weekend surrounded by other runners and nowhere is the enthusiasm for running better than with high school cross country runners.

Early Saturday afternoon, I headed over for Ben Hovis’ Pre Foot Locker 2 mile time trial. This was my first time attending this type of event so I was soaking up everything.

Ben does an excellent job with this event. There were 3 different heats: a boys’ heat, a girls’ heat, and a very fast boys’ heat.

The regular boys’ heat kicked off at 3pm.
The girls’ heat kicked off at 3:20pm, and the fast boys’ at 3:40pm.

Ben provided the in race analysis.
I helped out with the race timing, and Stan helped with keeping the runners organized as they finished.

It was great seeing such youg runners pushing themselves on a Saturday afternoon. Many, I am sure, will be running Foot Locker next weekend and do exceptionally well.

Here's a photo of Stan before the heats. He warmed up but we couldn't get him in the race.
Maybe next year, we can move him from helping to racing.

I am already looking forward to helping out next year.

Tales from the Cool Down Runner

Hendricks Bone Marrow ½ marathon - Ben and Rebecca set course records

This morning Jay, Mike, Megan, and I met about 6:45 for a group run through the area around Lowes Motor Speedway. Our motivation for choosing such a location was that Ben was running the Hendricks Bone Marrow ½ marathon. Our hope was to finish early and give him some support during his race.

Our run started about 6:45 and we arrived back at the speedway between the starts of the ½ marathon and the 5k.

Ben came by the starting area at about 4 miles with huge lead over 2nd place. Then, we saw Rebecca come through a short time later both were leading their respective races.

The course curved its way around the dragway, dirt track, and speedway both inside and out.

Being that this was a 1st time race and with many turns, the runners struggled at times to stay on course. Ben ran just over 1:12 to win by about 7 minutes but he could have been faster if he had not stopped to ask for directions on several occasions. I expect with a year under their belt, the race organizers will definitely step it up next year.

Also the race had a rather small turnout but this could be attributed to the fact that it was lightly advertised and on the weekend before Thanksgiving as well as being a Sunday morning race.

Ben appeared to come through the race very well and show little sign of his OBX injury. Rebecca was all smiles as she crossed the finish line. Looks like those 2xu racing tights that she was wearing worked well for her as she won the women's race by a comfortable margin.

In the 5k race, Alejandro pulled away for the win on a fast 5k course that included running the length of the dragstip. I dare say the 5k course could potentially be as fast as the Runway 5k.

Lastly, my congrads to all of those runners that came out to brave both the 13.1 and 3.1 on this cold sunday morning. Luckly, the rain held off until this afternoon.

Tales from the Runner at the speedway

Saturday, November 21, 2009

TrySports Social

Last night was the first social for our ’10 TrySports Ambassador Team at the TrySports store and later a party and food at Meredith’s house.

Initially we met at the store where Rob shared updates about the team and passed out our ’10 uniforms. I had my choice of a running or cycling uniform and I opted for the cycling uniform. I have plenty of TrySports running gear but I need all of the TrySports cycling gear that I can get.

Since I am the running team director, I made an effort to chat with everyone but like most socialS there is never enough time to meet everyone. I still had a fun time. Hopefully, with future socials I will make the entire circle of meeting everyone.

I wish I could have made it over to Meredith’s house. I heard from Stan that a fun time was had by all.

Also we all wished Cody safe journeys. He heads for Australia today.

-btw looking around the store, I think we will have a strong racing team this year. I am going to do as much as I can to help make both TrySports and our Ambassador Team successful.

Tales from the ’10 TrySports Runner.

Charlotte Running Club Social

All I can say is "Wow". When I first joined the Charlotte Running Club, they had just started the club a few months back and had maybe 30 members. Now the club has a membership list of well over a 100 runners. And that is in less than a full year of existence.

Last night was the first club social at the Dilworth Bar and Grill and while I arrived late there were still a lot people hanging out.

I got chance to chat with Aaron, Jay, Allen, Paul and a few others. I wish that I had more time because there were so many people that I have not met before. Oh well, I am sure Jay, Aaron, and Caitlin will have another club social. I'll keep my fingers crossed that I don't have two club socials on the same night.

If you are interested in finding out more about the Charlotte Running Club click here. They are a great, friendly club with members that are always looking to hook up for group runs.


Tales from a runner that people are now calling the social butterfly.

Friday, November 20, 2009

North Meck Trail – Clear Trail ahead

Early this morning it was off the road and on to the trails. I headed up to the North Mecklenburg Park for a change of pace. It had been a few weeks before the marathon since I had last visited this trail and the leaves had yet to fall from the trees.

This morning the leaves were off the trees but the trail was relatively clear. Some very nice person had used their leaf blower to clear the trail for the rest of us. To that person, I send my heartfelt thanks. Being able to see those roots is something that I sometimes take for granted. Then I remember why I like having a clear trail when I twist an ankle.

So with the temps hanging in the low 50s, clear sky, and just a little fog, it couldn't have been a more perfect morning for a trail run. And, with the time change a few weeks ago, I can start my runs around 7 am.

Once the trail run was complete, it was over to the baseball field for a quick 4 minute Tabata workout. No high gears were used today but then there was not pain either. There were just some steady acceleration across the outfield of the base ball field – 8 to be exact.


Tales from the beautiful morning run.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Hills, hills, and more hills

Okay, you just finished your last marathon a few weeks ago and now you getting ready to ramp up for your next marathon.

What the first thing that you should do?

Go examine the course layout. Look to see if they have an elevation chart for it. If they don't, check out www.marathonguide.com. They list nearly every marathon in the US along with a course map and elevation chart.

So with the course map and elevation information in hand, it is time to build your training plan.

But wait, do you really need this information to create your plan. Well, my answer is both yes and no.

In the last month before the marathon, yes, you would want to tailor your workouts to fit the type of course that you will be running.

But in the months leading up to the race, the answer swings the other way.

In the months leading up to the race, your best option is hills, hills, and more hills.

There are two primary reasons why a steady diet of hills works best. First, hills whip you into shape much faster than any other type of workout. 2nd hills put a lot stress on the body but not in the same way that track workouts do. Hill workouts strengthen core running musculature much more because you are working against gravity. Hills are like an outdoor weight room for runners.

Basically, there are two types of hill workouts: short hills and long hills.

Short hills are no more than 100 meter in length and are used to build power. To build power, you can try one of these two alternatives: sprinting or bounding. Either one will get you ramped up pretty fast. But expect to start with about 6 reps and work up to 10 reps. And, you should never get anaerobic during this workout.

In my opinion, long hills should be considered anything between ¼ mile and 1 mile. So when you start running these longer hills, you will find that you get two benefits. You get the core running power similar to the short hills but you also build aerobic power. The body needs to work harder to overcome the resistance of gravity over a longer period of time.

So when should you use these workouts. The short hill repeats can be thrown in at the end or the middle of a recovery run. Because they are less taxing, it doesn't have a major impact on the recovery process. For longer hills, consider doing them no more than once per week and do a different distance each week and different locations. This breaks up the boredom of running the same workout every week.

Well, there you have it. If you want to improve, go to the hills. It will improve your running faster than any other type of workout.


Tales from a hills.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Eddie's Roller

For years, the “Stick” has been integral part of my pre and post run routines. That is until recently. During one of our group runs back in the summer, one of the other runners either Ben or Megan, I don’t remember which had this new type of “Stick”. Or that is what I called it at the time.

This new “Stick” that I now know is called “Eddie’s Roller” is both different and unique.

Many of you that have the “Stick” know of the flat rollers on the “Stick”. “Eddie’s Roller” uses something entirely different. "Eddie's Roller" uses golf balls.

The first time that I used it, I was like “wow” that gives an unusual, but a good feeling as the golf balls roll across the muscles. For some reason, and I cannot explain why the dimples from the golf balls seem to work better for me than the flat rollers from the “Stick”

While we were at OBX, I picked up one of the rollers to test it again, I was sold at that point. It was time to get one of my own.

So I tracked down the maker of “Eddie’s Roller”.

Eddie is his name and he lives near Clemson, SC.

What is even more remarkable as I learned through our email exchanges, Eddie does this out of house on the weekends. And he is remarkably quick.

I contacted him last Friday and after just a few email exchanges where I got the details about his “Roller” and how to choose the colors of the golf balls; he said that he would have one in the mail to me by Monday. And even more unbelievable, he sent the roller to me before I even paid for it. This doesn't happen to often these days.

The following Tuesday afternoon the mail man drop off a package at my front door. Opening it up, I had this nice new roller which I immediately tried on my legs. Shortly there after, I sent Eddie an email saying that my roller had arrived in the mail and that I would be dropping him a check in the mail the following day.

Eddie’s “Roller” is comparable in cost to the "Stick". The original “Stick” with hand grips sells for about $42 dollars. The marathon “Stick” sells for about $31. The travel “Stick” sells for about $27 dollars. Eddie’s Roller sells for $30 dollars with $6 for shipping if you buy 1 to 4 of them. The price drops if you buy more – 5 or more at $25 dollars each.

My old “Stick”s are now feeling neglected because I have been using my “Eddie’s Roller” all of the time.

If you are interested in getting one of “Eddie’s Rollers”, you can contact him at eddiepen@bellsouth.net

If you see me around and any to test drive it, just ask.

Tales from a runner using "Eddie's Roller"

RFYL GP Awards Dinner

RFYL held their annual RFYL GP Awards Banquet last night at the Dilworth Bar & Grill just off Morehead Street. Each year RFYL puts on a series of races and gives the runners points based on their finish race time from these races. At the end of the year these points are tallied up, and similar to the awards for an individual race, the GP Series offers awards for overall, masters, and age groups. They also gave awards for participating in all nine series races.

The evening started off with the runners gather together to chat about the various topics that runners chat about. Usually, these conversations involve one, two or all three of the following: racing, training, or injuries.

Circling around the room, I chatted with Billy, Peter, Bobby, Robert, Steve, Pete, Chris, Jay, Caitlin and many more runners. On an interesting side note, often we runners only see each other in running attire. The awards dinner is the one opportunity that we have to see each other dressed somewhat differently. For example, I had no idea that Jay wore glasses until last night. This is one of the many things that I found interesting about this yearly event.

Next up was the food. The Dilworth Bar & Grill put out a very nice spread with salad, mash potatoes, pasta, and grilled chicken. Not sure if it was just hunger or just good food, but 2nd helping became the norm for quite a few of the runners myself included.

After everyone had their fill from the buffet, Tim called everyone's attention for handing out the awards.

First, Tim honored all of the sponsors of the series which was a nice thing to do. Making this gesture is important because without them none of this would take place. So definitely, it was good take a moment and say thanks.

Next up, were the top 5 overall men and women awards, followed by the Masters men and women awards, and next were the men and women age groups awards. Everyone received similar awards i.e. money, gift cards to RFYL, and medallion.

Oh, let's not forget the participator awards. Tim and his team gave out about 80 ASIC backpacks to the runners that ran every Grand Prix race. This was an extremely nice gesture. Running all nine races over so many months is hard to do when you factor in family, training, injuries, jobs, and just life in general. Certainly, these men and women need to be congratulated for their efforts.

While we are congratulating different people, we should all take time to email Tim and his team to say "Thanks". For without them, we should not have these many opportunities every Saturday morning or this nice little perk at the end of the year. Tim and his team deserve a nice pat on the back for a job well done.

On the news front, there is high probability there will be a new race on the GP series for next year. Most likely it will be a Harvest Bread 5k event and will be added to the schedule sometime in May.

Other news, the Stonecrest RFYL store is moving to the Piper Glen area and this 5k race will be held near that store. And, no we will not be losing the Shamrock 4 miler. According to the Tim, the people from Stonecrest still want a race in their area as well.

That pretty much wraps up another year for the RFYL GP Series so runners rest now and get back to training because the '10 season is just few months away.


Tales from a runner who enjoyed an evening with like minded people – all runners J

Monday, November 16, 2009

First the Goal, then next comes the plan

Okay, now that my goal is the BiLo Myrtle Beach Marathon and my name has been officially added to the entrants list, a plan needs to be put together to achieve it. Under normal conditions, there would be several months of base work followed by a transition period and then a taper for my races.

But for this race, time and focus become all the more important.

Let's assume that I start my training plan for the Myrtle Beach Marathon the 1st of December, this give me roughly three weeks of recovery, eight weeks to whip myself into shape, and two weeks of taper. That is not a lot of time for a marathon plan.

For the next two weeks, my recovery from OBX needs to continue. Keep the miles easy but let the runs grow gradually longer. The only exception to this rule is for the Tabata workouts. These workouts are integral part of my recovery day workouts and have really been helping with my leg turn over.

For the month of December I will use both short and long hill repeats to build back leg strength and steady progressive runs to build aerobic power.

For the month of January I will move into some faster running on the track with some long repeats.

Along the way, I would like to pick up a couple of races to keep myself honest with my efforts and keep my racing edge sharp.

As I touched on early I usually do a three week taper, but with this accelerated plan a two week taper will be the max allowable time.

So for right now, this is just a rough outline for the plan that I am putting together.


Tales for a runner in search of a plan.


Sunday, November 15, 2009

I must be nuts

So why do I think that I am nuts. Well, tonight, I registered for the Feb 13th 2010 BiLo Marathon in Myrtle Beach. I guess running OBX was not enough for me so before the soreness has even left my legs; my name has been thrown into the bucket to be casted alongside the expected 2700+ runners to be at the starting line.

And what does it mean. It means as soon as I get done eating my Thanksgiving dinner, I start a 10 week training program that will hopefully give me another shot at a sub 2:40 marathon.

Can I do it? That's what we will find out so tuned into my blog.

Tales from a runner that thinks he is "Nuts"


Thursday, November 12, 2009

Dropping out of a race

As I set here with my bags of ice placed on my sore spots, my thoughts transition from work to running. Specifically, I want to talk about dropping out of races.

Throughout my running career I have always been a finish at all cost runner, but I do freely admit that I have dropped out of one race.

The race was the Springer ½ marathon in Fort Mill, S.C. I had been sick all week along with a fever, but I had signed up so I felt like I needed to race. For about 7 miles, I was survived even leading the race but around 8 miles my body started to rebel. By 9 miles, I was totally done and walked back to the starting area. I quietly showered while the runners finishing the race came in, showered, and talked about their races. Setting, there I thought maybe I should have just walked to the finish but I knew my body on that day was not able to do it.

But I left the race site that day knowing this race owed me one. A couple of years later, I returned to win the race and in a good time.

Now, we all know that runners dropout of races for all types of reasons, but predominately, runners will drop out like I did from illness or from an injury occurring in the race or from an injury occurring during the lead up to the race.

But this past Sunday, I came to realize some runners drop out just to race again next weekend. Around 22 miles of OBX, I saw one of the Kenyan runners standing on the side of the road. He had dropped out of the race. Talking with him later before we boarded the shuttle, he was heading to run the Richmond marathon next weekend for the marathon. I guess when your primary reason for racing is to earn money; dropping out when you are out of the money is okay.

I have never really thought about this way, but their reason for dropping out is just as legit as any reason that I could give.


Tales from a runner

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Cliff Bars vs. Power Bars

Until a short time ago I was a Power Bar guy through and through. Then by chance, I tried some Cliff Bars on a recommendation from some other runners.

The Peanut Bars is pretty good. I like the Chocolate chip better and I like the Brownie Chocolate the best.

The Cliff Bars are little more expensive than the Power Bars. As for variety, they come in similar flavors. Cliff Bars even come in seasonal flavors so try the Ginger Bread Bar.

And if you are just looking for something small to eat after a run, I suggest getting the snack size. At Wal-mart a box of 18 cost about $10.00 and has 6 Peanut, 6Chocolate Chip, and 6 Brownie Chocolate.

If you are counting calories, the large cliff bars run about 240 calories while the calories for the snack size run about 100 calories.

Tales from a runner living on cliff bars alone.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The Aftermath from OBX

Now being separated by a few days from OBX, it is easier to look back and provide some perspective on the race.

Heading into OBX, I had put a lot of pressure on myself to do well and add to that the fact; I knew many others would be watching. So later Sunday, it was like a huge weight had been lifted from my shoulders.

My race went reasonable well given the course and weather conditions.

And whether you believe it or not, I know the world would have not ended if I had not run well or been forced out of the race.

We all know the difference between success and failure is a very thin line. Stepping across can easily drop you from the race.

Fortunately, I walked away from OBX with only a few minor issues: soreness in the back and shoulders, some soreness in the hips, and no blisters.

I felt the stiffness from the 6 hour drive home more so than I did on either Sunday evening or Monday morning.

But otherwise, my runs continuing as expected. Monday morning, I ran 6 miles and 7 miles this morning. I followed it up with a 20 miles on the bike this evening. I am doing nothing really hard just some easy recovery running and riding. In addition, I am adding back some very simple and light core workouts.

For me, there will probably be no more racing until Turkey Trot 8k in a few weeks.

I am going to use these days to let my body rested.

Before you know it, I will be training for a marathon again. And if the running goods are nice to me, I will be in OBX come the fall '10.


Tales from a tired and only slightly sore marathon runner





Monday, November 9, 2009

OBX Recap 11.08.09

Running a marathon is not like running a shorter distances races. No marathon is has a lot more to do with the management of two things: energy and pain.

From an energy perspective, you have to go fast enough to stay on target for your goal yet slow enough, that you don’t burn off your reserves and hit the wall. Certainly, this is a lesson many people learn all too well somewhere between 18 and 22 miles of a marathon.

From a pain perspective, you go into a marathon knowing that it is going hurt. You muscles are going to tighten to the point that they will not want to move. All along they will be sending messages to your brain saying slow down or even stop. This is part of pain management that many people struggle with.

Today, I tried to manage both and I give me self a B+. Mainly, I give myself a B+ rather than an A because I didn’t achieve my goal of a sub 2:40.

But like Jay said in his CRC “Weekly Runner”, the marathon is a fickle creature. Not only are you competing against other runners but in many respects you are competing against the course and the weather.

The marathon is a long race and can encompass huge variations in course elevation and road surfaces from dirt to concert. And unlike a 5k or 10k where the temperature may rise a degree or two over the course of a race, during the course of a marathon the temperature can raise any number of degrees.

For me the day started little before 4 AM with a prerace snack, dressing in my race gear, packing my drop bag, and using body glide in all of the right places.

Also I inserted into my compression tights my 4 Power Gels that I would be consuming along the race course at 6, 11, 16, and 21 miles.

At 5:30 we were out the door to catch the shuttle buses to the marathon start. The buses were scheduled to pull out at 6 AM on the dot so we really don’t want to be late.

Our van was driven by Emily. She was a 20 something and clearly on a caffeine high. She was enjoying the some good music and bouncing in seat on the way to the start.

We did get to meet two Kenyan runners who joined us for the ride over to the start. In talking with them, they had not previewed the course beforehand and seemed troubled by my comments related the trail section.

For those interested, Megan, Mike, and Ben as well as I were the only other ones in the shuttle when it pulled out.

Just before the race start I spotted Alejandro and Steve Ahrens so I took a quick second to say high. Alejandro ran well for the ½ marathon but judging by his finish time he hit the wall really hard. Steve on the other hand had a great race and finished in the top 3 for the USA T&F NC Masters Championship.

With the starting gun sounding, we were off in waves with the 5 to 7 minute runners off first.

Megan, Mike, and I quickly joined up in the first couple miles before I surged up to the group in front of us. There were two guys in this group: Michael Combs and Jonathan Kinsey. Both were arming for a 2:40 and agreed to work with me for the next 20 miles. Remember my blogs concerning pre race strategy; sometimes you just have to wing it and hope for the best. Today, it worked out okay.

We went through ten miles in 60 minutes and with the trail section from 10 to 13.1. We ended up running just barely under 1:20.

Around 16 miles Michael started to fade back. Jon and I continued work together. We caught David Biko around 17 miles. About 18 miles, I noticed that Jon was no longer running just a step in front of me, but rather he was starting to run a step behind me.

As the race was developing, I targeted 20 miles to see what I could do. So I didn’t push the pace but Jon and David both dropped off.
From 18 to 20 I just focused on staying relaxed and running even pace. After 20 I tried to pick it up but nothing really happened. I ran something like 6:02 to 6:15 for miles 20, 21, 22. Then, I hit the bridge at 23 with a 6:51, and followed it with 6:40 and 6:39. So the 23 mile was my slowest race.

As opposed to last year the temperature this year at the start were much higher at 55 degrees and the humidity made it feel like 66 and the temperatures went up, up, up as the race progressed. Add to this a wind coming out of the South south-west direction, on a north to south bound course, you have a tough race.

It got especially tough on the long stretches of 158.

In all honesty, I was extremely appreciative of Jon and Michael to run with for 18 miles. It would have been really tough to run those miles solo.

Again this year, the crowd support is sparse in some sections. But in the sections where there was support, it is very enthusiastic and loud. And it is a great to see them dressed up in pirate outfits.

Another Kudo needs to go out to the volunteers along the course. While no race could survive without volunteers, OBX has some of greatest volunteers. Many of them, I am sure, were out early on a Sunday morning and continue working for the next 10 hours handing out hammer gels, water, and Gatorade to the runners.

One of the other things, I like about OBX is the finish medal. In the Dare county tradition, it always has a pirate flair for both the ½ and the full marathons.

At the finish, you can even have your marathon photo taken with the pirate.

One of the things OBX race organizers are very efficient at doing is handing out awards. They always seem to start on time and quickly disperse the awards. More races could follow there example.

I was very fortunate this year to place 7th overall with a 2:43:45. For this finish time, I finished 3rd in the USAT&F Open males, 1st for the USAT&F NC Masters Men, and 1st RRCA NC Masters Men.

Although, I didn’t get my sub 2:40 today and I am happy with race. I ran a better race than last year and given the trail section, temperatures, and the wind, I probably got the most out today that I could have.

My time was a little slower than last year, but when I looked at the overall times between last year and this year, I see the same slippage. So it leads credence to my opinion that the weather conditions today had a larger effect on our running. Also, my Garmin reported the distance at 26.5 miles. In looking at the distance from the race last year, I saw it was 26.48. So either it is a little long or I am not very efficient at running the tangent. I like to think that I am pretty efficient. And let’s be very honest here, there are some sections during the latter half of the marathon where it is just not possible to run the tangent. The reason why is there are so many ½ marathoner walking 3 or 4 abreast.

More credence could be found in Megan and Mike’s times. They are in better shape than they showed today. I know it from our workouts and races together. Hopefully, they will bounce back quickly from a tough today. Ben situation was a little different in that his Achilles tightened up during the race. This was an old injury that has affected Ben during other long runs and this old injury decided for whatever reason remind him of it today. Outwardly, he did say much about his disappointment, I suspect it was tougher on him than he showed. But I have my suspicions that he will bounce back just fine. He seems to have that type of personality.

After the race, we caught the shuttle back to the parking lot, picked up our car, made a stop for more food before heading back to the house.

I put some food in my system, rested for about an hour before heading over to the ocean for a little ice bath. The cold ocean salt water has healing effects on tired muscle but let me assure you of something. The water was exceptionally cold. I wanted to stay in the water for 20 minutes but it was probably more like 10 to 15 minutes.

We finished off the day with some pizza and games.

Lights were out by 9pm. I am still up only because I wanted to start working this blog post tonight.

One final note before I end. After the race, I received many post and emails with congratulations and I want to thanks to all of you for your best wishes both before the race with my quad injury and today.

Also I wanted to thank the CRC group for allowing me to tag along on their workouts and pulling me along when I didn’t feel like.

I want to especially single out Ben, Megan, Mike, and Nathan for sharing so many long runs, tempo, and speed sessions. They pushed and pulled me through and hopefully, I pushed and pull them through when they were having a tough day. Guys, I couldn’t have done it without you.