Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Fix a Flat x 2

Last week, I bought these two new Continental Ultra Sport tires for my bike. Well, Tuesday was good and Wednesday was good, then Thursday was less good. I had my first flat during a ride since I bought my bike. 15 minutes used up for on the on the job tire changing experience/training. So then I headed out Friday evening for a ride and low and behold I had another flat. 2 flats in two days that is definitely a bit unlucky.

Fortunately, I had invested in a good tire changing kit so 10 minutes later I was back on the road again.

Definitely, if you are going to ride very much and very far from home, invest in a good set up tire changing gear.

I carry a new tube, 2 CO2 cartridges, tire changing tools, and patch kit. Sometimes, if it is a long ride, I will even bring along my mini tire pump.


Thoughts from the Cool Down Runner – out for a ride.

How to warm up and cool down?

No, I am not going to tell you how to warm up or cool down, because Mark Hadley has already provided an excellent post on this subject.

You can read his post here.

There is one piece that I think is very important that Mark doesn't cover. This is in the final prep steps before a race. In my opinion you need a couple of 1 to 2 minutes hard efforts at or near race pace just before the start of your race. The reason behind doing these 1 to 2 minute efforts at race pace is that it helps prepare the body and especially the heart for the race effort. In my research, I found that it takes my heart a few minutes to adjust from the warm up effort to the race effort. For me, this means about 3 to 5 minutes to come up to speed. Consider this for a moment; during the first mile of a race do you feel that you are not getting enough oxygen into your lungs, and then you start to feel better. Well, this is where the heart starts to catch up with your race effort.

Try a couple of 1 to 2 minute surges before your next race or interval effort, and see if it makes the first mile seem easier.


Thoughts from the Cool Down Runner

11 miles @ 7:12 pace

Headed across town early this morning for the Tuesday Miner's Run at Mc Alpine park. Totally, didn't expect my legs to be ready for this workout and sure enough, I was struggling but not nearly as bad as I expected.

Having a group tends help me get through tough days and today was one of them.

Definitely, it was good to catch up with Jay, Aaron – who is getting into cycling, Paul and Steve who are starting their own book club exchange, Megan and Mo who like to set the early pace, and Ben.

One of the best aspects of a group run is that you can just zone out and listen to all of the conversations.


Will definitely be back next week.


Thoughts from the Cool Down Runner


5, 4, 3, and the 3x 1

My hopes were set on getting in some miles at Mc Alpine this morning. But after driving by to drop my daughters off for school, I changed my mind and opted for some road miles.

Yesterday, the Mc Alpine trail looked to have taken a good soaking overnight so the conditions would not be right for a Fartlek workout.

The first couple of miles were rough. My legs felt like they were dragging me across a sandy beach.

But after running 5 minutes at ½ marathon pace and then 4 minutes again at ½ marathon pace, they started to feel better. I finished off the workout with 3 minutes at 10 mile pace followed by 3 x 1 minute at 5k pace. Each interval was followed by ½ interval time in recovery. I could probably had done the workout with less recovery, but being just a week out from my marathon, I didn't want to things too hard.

Better for me to get the legs turning over and continuing to run tomorrow than hurt something and be out of racing for a while.

Workout Today

5 minutes @ ½ marathon pace with 2 ½ minutes recovery

4 minutes @ ½ marathon pace with 2 minute recovery

3 minutes @ 10 mile pace with 1 ½ minutes recovery

3 x 1 minute with 30 seconds recovery.

I finished the workout with a mile or so warm down. Honestly, the legs felt so much better during the warm down that I could have done some more hard efforts. Clearly, this is a good sign for me.


Thoughts from the Cool Down Runner

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Rock Tape vs. Kinesio Tape Field Test

Coming off my marathon training, this is probably a good time for me to share my experiences using the two different tapes: RockTape and Kinesio Tape.

As many of you know, my left Achilles tendon was aggravated a little over five weeks ago. On suggestion from another runner, I checked into the Kinesio Tape.

Then, after wearing the Kinesio tape for a couple of weeks, I posted my feedback on my blog. Scott Regan a representative of RockTape saw my post. He offered to send me a sample of the RockTape to test.

Over the past week I have been wearing the Rock Tape including in my marathon this past weekend.

I decided to use the RockTape during the marathon based on reading the information on the RockTape website. Specifically, I liked that is was designed for endurance athletes. Interestingly enough, I was wearing the RockTape at the Expo on Saturday afternoon and a number of people came up to me asking about it. I shared my reasoning for wearing it and the help that I thought the tape was providing.

RockTape and Kinesio come packaged in several different ways. I started with the standard 5 meter in roll of Kinesio Tape that I purchased. For RockTape, I used the 1.5 meter strip which Scott sent to me.

The Kinesio tape cost about roughly 12 dollars for the 5 meter roll. RockTape cost about 18 dollars for the same 5 meter length.

I did the wrapping myself. For the Kinesio taping I used the following link:

http://link.brightcove.com/services/player/bcpid5988543001?bclid=0&bctid=6451361001. I found this link via a Google search.

For the RockTape, I use the following link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HNwCgGlWeUM. RockTape provides a number of videos for taping various injuries. The videos are well worth the time to watch in case you ever get injured.

Both videos illustrate wrapping the Achilles tendon in the similar ways, but there are some settle differences.

In all fairness, I spent more time using the Kinesio Tape so there were more opportunities for research.

Also, I wanted to note that once I applied the tape whether RockTape or Kinesio Tape, I didn't remove it for 7 days. In the case of the Kinesio Tape, I did have to trim the edges of the tape regularly as it started to peel off.

Here's my likes and dislikes for Kinesio


  • Likes:
    • Easy and simple to apply
    • Cost
  • Dislikes
    • Tends to come off it rub against. I guess that I toss and turn at night. The bed covers would rub against the Kinesio tape and cause it to peel off.
    • No explanation on wrapping techniques from the vender's web site.
    • If you don't apply it correctly the first time, pulling it off and reapplying decreases the tapes ability to stick.

Here's my likes and dislikes for the RockTape

  • Likes
    • Sticks very well and easy to apply
    • Good videos to show you how to apply it.
  • Dislikes
    • Where the tape is trimmed with scissors, little strings start to unravel from the tape. Not a huge issue, you can just clip them off.
    • 18 dollars vs. 12 dollars in the budget minded economy will probably send lots of people to Kinesio


A clear winner is difficult to choose. For my every day workouts, I might go with the Kinesio tape because of the cost, but on race day, I would probably switch out to the RockTape. The RockTape tends to stick better and stand the stress of the workout better.


Thoughts from the Cool Down Runner

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Road Trip

After my road trip to Tobacco Road marathon, I wanted to share something about road trips.

Normally, I travel solo to and from races so when I got the chance to hook up with Bobby Aswell and Jon Savage for a road trip this past weekend, I jumped at the chance.

Jon is into Ultra Running and Bobby is into Ultras but from a different perspective. Bobby is in to Ultra racing. Anything from a mile to 50k, you will see him racing and sometimes in back to back days, or even in the same day.

Both runners have a huge amount of experience running and racing. Spending 6+ hours riding in the car with them gave me an excellent opportunity to pick their brains on the topic of running, racing, stretching, recovery, training etc. And pick it I did, I was taking notes the entire time.

And this is one of the great things about a road trips, there is plenty of time to share and learn from our fellow runners.

I highly recommend everyone try it.



Thoughts from the Cool Down Runner

Brooks Green Silence – Feedback from my marathon testing

As many of you know, I field tested the Brooks Green Silence racing flats this past weekend at the Tobacco Road Marathon.

Well, I am back, resting, and ready to report on my experience.

Let me start by breaking it down for you.

  • Modifications to the Shoe
    • My only modification to the shoe was to replace the out of the box laces with Yankz.
  • Shoe Break-in
    • Normally, racing flats don't require much of a break-in period so I limited my break-in to 2 hours of wearing the flats around my house, 2 Tabata workouts, and a 2 mile interval last Tuesday.
  • Race Sock
    • Thorlo Experia Race Sock

With the above information now on the table, here's how my race went.

I put on the shoes about 15 minutes before the race and headed over to the starting line for some very easy strides. I double checked that the laces were secure and shoe tongue was not doubled or wrinkled.

Through the first 3 miles, I did not have any issues. Heading off for the first trail section was good. The shoes were snug enough around the ankle that no rocks slipped inside the shoes.

Around about 15 miles, I began to notice in the mid foot some tenderness. As most of you know some tenderness is expected when running a marathon. My first thought went to the sock. Maybe I hadn't smoothed out the Experia Socks when I put them on my feet or the sock got wrinkled when I put on the shoes. I spent a little time trying to alter my stride in hopes that it was something that I could work out. But after a few miles and nothing seem to be working, I finally gave up and just continued on with the race. Doing my best, I tried to not think about it.

By 20 miles, it was hurting pretty bad and by 24 miles, it felt like a nail was being inserted into the bottom of my foot.

Once I was finished and had reached our car, I pulled off my shoes and socks to see what was happening.

Right in the middle of the mid foot on both feet, I had this ugly blister. Definitely, the same place on both feet. I then examined the socks and then the Brooks Green Silence shoes.

Running my fingers inside the shoes and feeling the contour of the insole, I realized what the problem was. Most of my racing flats require little to no break-in period. When I bought the Brooks Green Silence, I follow the same break-in process. However, the foam mid sole unlike other racing flats is thicker and definitely takes longer to contour to my feet. That combined with the calluses on my feet created just enough friction to cause a hot spot on both feet.

From a racing flat perspective, the Brooks Green Silence worked exactly as expected and other than the two hot spots, I didn't have anything else close to a blister.

I will almost certainly use the Brooks Green Silence for my next marathon, but I will definitely add some additional time for break-in.



Thoughts from the Brook Green Silence field test by the Cool Down Runner

Monday, March 22, 2010

Thorlo Experia Cool Max Socks – Marathon Tested

This weekend I gave the Thorlo Experia Socks a good field test during my marathon and while I did have a couple of blisters, they were not a result of the socks but from my shoes. More about shoes is coming in a later post so hang on for it.

In fact as I think more about it, the Experia Socks may have prevented my blisters from being any worse than they were.

If you are interested trying out a good sock, check out the Experia style. More details can be at the Thorlo Web site.

The Experia Socks now have the Cool Down Runners recommendation.


Thoughts from the Cool Down Runner

Tobacco Marathon Road Race - Feedback

Going into this race, I had some concerns about the trail and the logistics of putting roughly 3000 runners into such a confined space.

On top of my concerns, this was a first year race so I expected there to be some issues.

So while my thoughts are fresh from yesterday's race, I want to post my feedback about the race.

Here are things that I liked about the race.

  • Packet Pick-up was simple and easy.
  • The Expo was excellent
  • Water, Sports Drinks, and Gels were excellent
  • Workers at the Aid Stations were very motivated
  • Police at the road crossing were great.
  • Enjoyed the trail section of the course. The packed trail wasn't a major issue. Not as fast as a road marathon but still nice.
  • Liked that the gates were all open at the road crossings.
  • Liked the race shirt
  • Liked the chip being in the race bib
  • Nice touch calling out the finishers names as they crossed the finishline.
  • Providing massages were great, but I didn't get one because the line was too long.
  • I like the parking procedures but it would have been nice to give those bused from the remote parking lots or hotels to some place go. Especially, if you arrived at 6am or before. Standing around trying to stay warm for an hour is very hard.

Things I would change

  • It would have been nice to have packet pick up on race morning
  • Extend the hours for the expo to at least 9pm on Saturday night so people have time to arrive for packet pickup
  • Would eliminate the rough section on the north end of the trail. It was extremely rocky.
  • The U-turn turn arounds. The first one at 7 miles isn't that bad, but at 19 miles making a complete stop and turning around and heading back is tough on tired legs.
  • Start ½ marathon 30 minutes before the marathon. There were many instances where I was weaving between runners – passing some from behind while trying to avoid those coming at me. With only 8 feet or less of running room, it was a real challenge.
  • Many of the ½ and some of the full marathoners were running 2, 3, or 4 abreast and didn't want to budge on the running room issue. I don't know how to fix this issue but it does make navigation very hard.
  • The portion of the course where we were coned down to the bike lane (miles 24 and 25) was nearly impossible. Just two runners, running side by side filled up the bike lane. We need the entire lane for running and not just the bike lane
  • Don't allow the IPods in the race. Many times I asked runners to make hole as I came up from behind. Many those runners never moved over, they didn't because they didn't hear me.
  • Have the finish line clock turned on. I saw the clock but it was turned off.
  • Sync up the ½ marathon clock. It was 3 minutes off.
  • I know this was first year race but the awards were extremely slow to happen and appeared to be much to disorganize. Many people left before the awards because it took so long.
  • The whole top 10 finisher didn't really make sense to me. If you are going to give a top 10, then give it to the top 10 finishers and not the top 10 after you have sorted everything else out. Giving someone a top 10 finish award when they finished 15 doesn't make sense.
  • Pizza. After race, I stopped by the snack tent for a banana, orange, and piece of pizza. They were only allowing people one piece of pizza. I just finished running 26 miles, and to only give out one small, tiny (and I do mean tiny piece) is just nuts.
  • Flat and Fast, I would disagree that this is a flat course. While there are no steep hills along the course – on the trail sections. There are plenty of long 2%, 3%, or 4% climbs some of which last more than a mile. For example mile 23 is essentially all up hill and 24 and 25 both are have some flat areas but are largely a long steady climb. This is really not what you want after running 20 miles hard – just being honest here.
  • Porta Potties. Turn on the base field lights much earlier if you are going to stick the porta potties behind it. It is pretty hard to us a porta potty in the dark.
  • I wasn't happy that Embassy Suites was charging for a late checkout – $25 dollars for each additional hour. I mean they opted to be the host hotel and giving runners a late check out should be part of the deal. In my opinion, Embassy Suites tarnished their reputation with this policy. I would probably opt for another hotel next year and suggested that the race organizers move the Expo to another hotel.


If you are planning to run the race next year, in my opinion, the ½ marathon is probably the better race of the two and definitely the ½ has the better of the 2 courses – even thou much it overlaps.

If I were to return for next year, I would probably opt for the ½ over the full marathon.




Thoughts from the Cool Down Runner

Tobacco Road Race Recap 3.21.10

Sunday morning was the Tobacco Road Marathon and for some reason, I had signed up for it so I was standing at the starting, trying to stay warm, and hoping that the sun would come over the horizon fairly soon.

The weekend started off with a road trip to Cary, NC with ultra runner Jon Savage and ultra racer Bobby Aswell. Jon was pacing the 4 hour marathon group as a final tune up before Umstead 100 miler next weekend and Bobby was continuing his ultra racer strategy by racing the Shamrock 4 miler in Charlotte on Saturday and doubling back for a marathon on Sunday.

We arrived at the host hotel in the afternoon, checked into our room and then headed over to the Expo for packet pickup and to check out the various venders.

Jon was working the pacer's table until later in the evening so Bobby and I headed out around 4pm to find some pasta and do a little drive over the course.

Then it was back to the room for a little TV i.e. some hoops action before heading off to bed.

4:30 AM came rather quickly the next morning. We met in the lobby and head off to the race start. A couple of other pacers joined us for the ride over.

With the time change, Cary is still fairly dark even at 7AM when the gun sounded.

Although, it was little chilly on the hands standing before the start, I warmed up quickly in the first mile.

I am not sure why but I was not feeling particularly good for this race. There wasn't much bounce in my legs and honestly, I was felt like I was struggling even in the first mile. I hoped that the feeling would shake off after a few miles.

The ½ and full were started together so I was looking around and trying to sort out which runners were in which race. At 3 miles ½ turns right while the full marathon runners turn to the left. As I watched the runners ahead of me, most runners seemed to be turning to the left.

I was running just over 6ish pace at 3 miles and there was a guy just ahead of me – maybe 20 meters. I figured I would expend the extra energy and catch him. Maybe we could hook up for some miles together.

When I caught up to him, we chatted briefly and I found out that he was planning to run 2:50ish. I looked at him and thought, you are going out way to fast.

He soon faded back. I could see another guy several hundred meters ahead dressed in an orange outfit. With nothing else to do I just focused on chasing him and see if I could close the distance any.

At this point, I was about 7th in the race order and about 7 miles into the race. I caught him a few miles later and just after I passed him, I looked back. He darted off the course for what I am guessing was a nature break. I would see him later in the race but many minutes behind me.

Crossing through 10 miles I was hoping that I would start to feel better but it just didn't seem to be happening. I was feeling more and more tired.

The ½ marathon point went by in a little over 1:21 minutes which is way slower than I usually do it. But given how I felt, it was probably pretty good.

Through these sections, I passed by a lot of the full marathoners. Bobby passed by me heading to the first turn around. Jon and his pace group passed by me. Actually, he told them my name so it was like having your very own moving cheering section. I loved it.

Rolled through 15 miles and was starting to catch a lot of the ½ marathoners by now. Also I noticed that my mid foot on both feet was starting to hurt. I thought maybe it was the sock doubled so I tried working it out, but nothing seemed to help.

I passed by the ½ marathon turn around on the way out to the marathon turn around. The 2nd turn around was a lot tougher than the first one. The legs were really starting to get really tired now.

Headed back through all of the full marathoners and was starting to catch many of the ½ marathoners.

Miles 20-26 really didn't have any downhill sections. I was either running on the flats or uphill. Most of the way I was darting between and around other runners. Sometimes, I had to take the wide side of the trail or road to pass them.

I was never happier to hit the 25 mile point. My feet were hurting pretty bad at this point.

Just after passing the 26 mile point, I thought I saw the 5th place runner ahead of me. Sure enough, it was the 5th place guy.

When I went by, I caught out of the corner of my eye that he was trying to respond but at this point I had the element of surprise and with the finish line insight I wasn't about to let him catch me.

Crossing the finish line and stopping my watch at 2:43:56, I was like darn that was a hard day. I was only about 11 seconds slower than OBX but felt like a truck had hit me and then dragged me along to the finish.

I waited around for the awards cermony which took a lot longer than anyone expected.

I placed 2nd in the Masters Category. A Master's runner from Morocco beat me with a 2:30 marathon time. I joked to Jon and Bobby that races are now bringing in runners from other countries to beat me. LOL

Afterwards, we headed back to the hotel and then drove home. My sincerest thanks go out to Jon for driving. It was really nice to stretch out in the back seat after the race.

By the Garmin, I ran 26:46 miles which make sense because it was impossible to run anywhere near the tangents along the course.

Here are my mile splits for those that are interested:

  1. 6:07
  2. 6:13 – 12:21
  3. 6:18 – 18:39
  4. 5:59 - 24:38
  5. 6:12 – 30:50
  6. 6:09 – 37:00
  7. 6:05 - 43:05
  8. 6:03 – 49:09
  9. 6:09 – 55:18
  10. 6:03 – 1:01:22 – 10 miles
  11. 6:00 – 1:07:22
  12. 6:17 – 1:13:39
  13. 6:16 – 19:56
  14. 6:05 – 1:26:02
  15. 6:04 – 1:32:07
  16. 6:00 - 1:38:07
  17. 6:17 – 1:44:24
  18. 6:10 – 1:50:35
  19. 6:22 – 1:56:57
  20. 6:16 – 2:03:14 – 20 miles
  21. 6:20 – 2:07:35
  22. 6:21 – 2:15:56
  23. 6:26 – 2:22:22 (all up hill)
  24. 6:22 – 2:28:45
  25. 6:17 – 2:35:03
  26. 6:00 – 2:41:03
  27. 2:52 – 2:43:56 (.45 mi.)


Hope you enjoyed it – thoughts from the Cool Down Runner



Monday Morning Injury Report

Roughly 24 hours have passed since the Tobacco Road Marathon and some DOMS is starting to settle into my body. The major DOMS is has hit my hip flexors and quads. Sleeping last night was rough. No position seemed to feel all that comfortable.

The only other sore spots were the two blisters in middle of my mid foot on each. One I could open the other was two deep to release. More about why they occurred during my Brooks "Green Silence" shoe review later this week.

On the lower back front, there were no issues. My lower back seems to be completely recovered from the mid February pain that I was experiencing.

On the Achilles my "Rock Tape" taping pulled my through the race. More about my Tape Wars Challenge coming up – maybe later today.

Otherwise, I am resting comfortable and looking forward to a easy, easy trail run during lunch today.


The Injury report from the Cool Down Runner

Sunday, March 21, 2010

The Magic Formula

We all have had races where everything goes perfectly from the food we eat, to the course we run, to weather we endure, and most importantly to how we feel during the race. Then, we do our best to try and replicate that same sequence of steps in hopes of repeating that same feel in our other races. Only to find that it is much harder to do. After a certain amount of time, we forget about it and focus on running and racing again. And, if we are lucky, out of the blue that feeling happens again.

If only we could discover the secret formula and bottle it. Everyone person in the world would want a bottle for themselves.

Before every marathon, I set here wondering if I have done enough hard workouts, long runs, rested enough, or eaten right.

The end result is that I am where I am and there is nothing that I can change about it. I have prepared the best way that I know how and it is money time. It is now time to go out and show the world the results of what hours and hours of hard work have done to my body.

Every person in every marathon puts forth their best effort on race day, and the fruits from their labor are displayed.

In just a few hours, when I step to the starting line, I will do as I always to do give my very best effort.


Good Luck to everyone racing this morning – from the Cool Down Runner

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Goal for tomorrow

I have been thinking about how I want to run this race tomorrow and I have come to the conclusion that I don't really know.

I know this is not a PR course based on the course, weather conditions, and course layout.

Realistically, if I run about 2:45, then I will be very happy.

Right now, my plan is to blend in with the ½ marathon group. Get to the 3 mile point and probably the first turn around for the full marathon to access the situation. If there is some guys close in front of me, I will probably work a little harder to catch them. Otherwise, I will probably just maintain the pace that I am running and see where I end up at the 2nd turn around.

I would like to get to 20 miles and still be feeling pretty good. Maybe if a few faster guys start to fall of the front pack, I might catch a few of them.

Right now, it is time to rest. After Kansas just lost, my brackets are totally screwed up and is no use looking at them anymore.


Thoughts the night before Tobacco Road by the Cool Down Runner.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

3x2mi. Workout

My last hard effort before a marathon is usually 3 x 2 mi. with a 2 minute recovery. There are probably a lot of places where I could do this workout, but I like to run it over at Bradley Middle School track.

Being rather lazy yesterday morning, I couldn't push out of bed early enough so I was heading to the track yesterday evening about 5pm.

For some reason I was expecting an empty track it but there were a lot of people out there walking and then after my first 2 mi. interval the school track team came out.

I guess the track team starts with a warm up mile. As I was working my 2nd interval some of them dropped in to run with me. Maybe I didn't look like I was running that fast. Well, after 100 meters, they started slowing. At 200 meters, they started walking.

I finished up the interval by weaving in, out, and around the track team.

I didn't feel all that great during the workout. In fact, I felt awful, but the splits were decent and in line with some of my previous marathon lead up intervals: 11:30 and 11:31.

After the 2nd interval, I changed into my new Brooks racing flats "Green Silence" for 2 miles on the road at marathon pace.

At 6.9 oz. there is not much weight being added to my feet, but foam foundation in these shoes clearly has a different feel than my other racing flats. I have a couple of more Tabata workouts over the next few days and plan to use these workouts for breaking them in.


Breaking in the "Green Silence" racing flats – Thoughts from the Cool Down Runner



Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Cool Down Runner goes “Green” for the Tobacco Road Marathon

In keeping with the trail theme I decided to go "Green" when selecting my racing flat for the Tobacco Road Marathon. So which shoe did I choose; it is the Brooks "Green Silence" racing flat.

This shoe is very eco friendly. The shoe uses soy based coloring and the foam breaks down in 20 years vs. the 1000 for other running shoes. The shoe uses a slightly off center lacing structure and a wrap around tongue. The midsole has a single layer of foam for fast running and responsive enough for longer runs. The shoe weighs in at 6.9 oz. which makes it ideal for marathoners.

This shoe comes with recycled laces but I replaced these with my TrySports branded Yankz. Yankz will keep my laces tied no matter what for the entire race.

My first test drive will be this evening when I do my last speed workout at the track 3x2mi with 2 min. recovery. The first 2 intervals, I will do in my regular interval trainers and the last interval I will use the "Green Silence".

Monday, March 15, 2010

Shamrock 10k sentenced to Probation after review

Last night, I was enjoying a pleasant evening watching the NCAA Bracketology when I got a phone call from Paul Nice. Paul is the race director for the Shamrock 10k in Mocksville.

And no, I didn't get give him down the road about this race. Actually, we had a rather nice conversation. He explained what happened with the race and I shared my experiences for the runners that went off course.

He did admit there were some logistic issues with the runners crossing paths at about 4 miles and issues with the course monitors.

He also promised to strive for improving on those fronts for next year.

He also wanted to send me my age group around. He was following up and sending out the awards to the people that could not pick them up on race.

I thought this was rather nice touch for their race and told him as much.

Therefore, I think maybe I was a little too harsh when I sentenced them to my do not ever race again list so I am moving their race to a probation status.

I am going to check-in with him next year before the race and decide then if a return trip is appropriate.


Thoughts from the Cool Down Runner

Monday morning injury report

Only a few more days are left before the Tobacco Road Marathon and I guess that I am ready.

My Achilles still has some swelling and the grapefruit size knot that I can feel in the back of my calf last week is now down to a tennis ball size knot today. That is if you want to call it an improvement.

I did notice something different this morning. My left shin is sore. I didn't notice it in either my 20 miler on Saturday or the 10 miler yesterday.

So I am erring on the side of caution and have my Achilles wrapped with an ice back on one side and my shin wrapped with an ice bag on the other.

Walking is a little more difficult with the extra ice, but hey, I am still running so life is good.


Otherwise, just trying to stay healthy for this weekend – The Cool Down Runner


Friday, March 12, 2010

Tobacco Road Marathon – Weather Forecast

As my marathon race date gets closer, I become a regular visitor to the www.weather.com website.

So this morning, I was checking out the weather forecast.

From the looks of it, we are in some potential bad weather.

The current long term forecast for the 21st is 40% chance of showers and 38 degrees. Now, the 38 degrees is not a so bad, but the rain could make trail footing a little treacherous.

I am going to keep my fingers crossed that it holds off until later in the day.


Checking the Weather Forecast – Cool Down Runner


A week out from Tobacco Road Marathon

Well, after tomorrow I will have finished up my long runs for a while or at least until I start my training for a fall marathon.

To be honest, this spring has been a struggle for me more than usual.

Typically, I take a break until the New Year starts but this year I decided to tackle Myrtle Beach Marathon.

So I have in a sense I have been in Marathon training almost continuously since last summer. That is a long time to be running 20+ milers.

Tobacco Road is little over 9 days away. I am ready to go do it and then move into do some shorter races for a while.



Looking forward to racing on the roads around Cary, NC – Thoughts of the Cool Down Runner

Tobacco Road Marathon – the Gates will be open

After I raised the question about the gates being opened on the Tobacco Road Trail, I decided to email the race officials about it.

Ben Dillon sent back a quick response.

Yes, he indicated the green gates would be open on race day. Which is really good news, the runners will not be funneled down to those narrow passages on the sides.

My other question to him was about the potential of runners/walkers going 2, 3, or 4 abreast on the trail. His response was that they would be requested to be no more than 2 abreast. I will keep my fingers crossed that most people follow this request. If they don't, you are going to see some very frustrated runners.


Update from the Cool Down Runner

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

12 x 400 at McAlpine

12 x 400 was the workout of the day. This morning, I headed across town to run my 400s around the lake on the Mc Alpine Greenway. I cannot take credit for this idea. I was merely following in the footsteps of others – mainly Mike B. He ran his 400s around the lake last Tuesday which is where I got the idea.

Actually, the loop around the lake is excellent place for doing as side from the ducks getting in the way.

The loop appears to be just slightly over 400 meters.

Since I didn't have any clear markers, I programmed my Garmin for 12 x 400s with 1 minute recovery. Then there was nothing left for me to do but listen to the Garmin. My Garmin counted down to the start of an interval and then beeped when to start the 1 minute recovery. Even better, I didn't have to keep count of the intervals. I just kept running then until my Garmin indicated I was finished.

Overall the intervals were a little slower because I was running them on the dirt, but I did tick of some of the latter ones in the 1:17 range. Which to me, it was a great confidence booster.



Thoughts after running loops around Mc Alpine Greenway lake by the Cool Down Runner


Keys to the Tobacco Road Marathon

After my Tobacco Road Marathon Course field trip, I started laying out my race strategy. As I was doing so, I wrote down some bullet points that I thought others might be interested in reading.

Here's my list:


  • Watch pushing too hard on the long down hills
  • Remember the up hills are long and gradual so manage your effort accordingly.
  • Watch the footing in the Tunnel. During my tour it had a little mud to maneuver around.
  • Pay attention at the green gates – especially if they don't open them
  • Something that was not an issue for me, but did come to mind. The clocks spring forward this weekend so there is a good chance that the start will be in the dark or at the day break. We might be getting ready in the dark. Let hope they have the lights on at the park.
  • If you decide to wear your racing flats, tread lightly at the road crossing and at the turn around points. This is where some of the biggest rocks are located. Then there is ¼ to ½ segment on the north end which is worst of the entire course.



Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Tobacco Road Marathon Course – Field Trip

The past weekend was expected to be nice and I had some extra time on my hands. This gave me the perfect opportunity to take a little field trip to Cary, NC and preview the Tobacco Road Marathon course.

After racing Saturday morning, I headed east on I40 to Cary.

Mapquest works great because I didn't have any problems finding the park where the marathon starts.

With a quick switch of clothes I was off on my Mt. bike for a course tour.

Because I had a course map, I had a fair idea of the roads that I was crossing. But it seems that I wasn't the only one out doing a little recon on the course. Several times, I got asked about the roads crossing the trail.

The course layout has roughly the 1st 3 miles on the road and the last 3 miles on the road with the other 20 miles being run on the Tobacco Road Trail. This was my first visit to the trail so I didn't really know what to expect.

The first 3 miles have some rolling hills. From there, you take a left on to the Tobacco Road Trail and basically do the south end of the trail. According to the Marathon website, you go almost to the trail head. Then you reverse course and head toward the north end of the trail.

Passing where you entered the trail and passing where you will later exit the trail at about 23 miles. Basically, the course forms a big "T" shape.

The south end of the trail is mostly this powdered dirt. It is similar to McAlpine Trail here in Charlotte. There are some later nasty rocks at the road crossings.

There are 2 bridges on the south end of the course and 1 tunnel. The Tunnel did have some standing water and mud in it. The bridges were maybe 50 yards long. The north end has at least 1 bridge crossing.

At each road crossing they have these green gates. There is a place to run around it but I wondered on race day if they will have these gates open for the runners.

The north section of the trail starts around Green Level Church Road. This section appears to be newer. At least, the new fencing and recently planted trees make it appear as such.

The trail also changes. In this section the trail has a paved half and a dirt half. So essentially, you can either run on the paved path or on the dirt path beside it.

My ride covered the course from end to end. And of the two ends, the North is much rougher and rockier but only near the very end. There you really only have to deal with it for maybe a ¼ to ½ mile.

This course has been advertised as one of the flattest course in NC and while that may be true, it is certainly not flat.

I covered the entire course running on Sunday morning.

You have to remember that this is an old rail road grade.

So once on the trail, you have lots of long stretches where you can just see the rising or falling of the course ahead. At one point, I could see in the distance cars crossing the trail at 3 different points at the same time. The climbs are not steep but they do seem to drag on forever. I could really feel them in my quads.

As I said, early the first 3 miles have several rolling hills. The last 3 miles isn't really rolling but is more of a steady grind either flat or uphill to the 25 mile point. After 25 miles, you are pretty much home free to the finish with some rough road and pot holes to step around. One additional fact about the last 3 miles, you are out on a wide open road so there is no shade and nothing blocking the wind from blowing into your face.

Reflecting on the course, I really only have two concerns. The first being the dirt trail. If it rains in the days before or the day of, it could make for a muddy race. The 2nd concern is with the width of the course. With 900 marathoners and 2000 ½ marathoners it could be a tight squeeze. Much of the course is no more than 8 to 9 feet wide. I am almost certain that we will be catching a lot of ½ marathoners before they make their exit on to New Hope Road. I am just not sure how we will pass them if they are walking 2, 3, or 4 abreast. Then, we have a similar issue meeting the marathoners on the return trip from the north end of the trail. I don't know if the race directors have thought this totally through, but I hope they have.


Thoughts from my field trip to Tobacco Road Trail – by the Cool Down Runner




RockTape vs. Kinesio Tape Challenge

After posting on my blog about using Kinesio tape on my Achilles, I got a comment from Scott Regan a representative from Rock Tape. Rock Tape is a tape specifically designed to be used by endurance athletes.

I was familiar with the Kinesio Tape Brand because some of my friends had used it in the past and was the reason that I started with the regular Kinesio Tape. Scott offered to send me a sample to try out and I accepted. After all, as runner and want to be cyclist, I am interested in anything that keeps me going and reduces or eliminates my pain points.

Yesterday, evening I received the Rock Tape sample in the mail.

I know it was just a sample, but I was more impressed with the material sent with the Rock Tape than the Kinesio Tape. The Kinesio Tape order came with several papers explaining the benefits about using their tape, but nothing about how to apply it. For this, they expected to sell you something separately. Rock Tape on the other hand sent me this nice little pamphlet which explains how to tape various common injuries. This I found to be a great gesture. Definitely, point one goes to Rock Tape.

From the instructions, I noticed that Rock Tape suggested taping my Achilles a little differently than some of the YouTube videos that I had been following. I plan to alter my taping going forward to try the Rock Tape approach.

So now the challenge is on. I have been using the Kinesio tape for two weeks or it will be two weeks on Friday. I am going to switch over to Rock Tape and wear it for a week to see how it works.

I'll be posting my opinion – probably after my Tobacco Road marathon.


RockTape – Kiensio Tape Challenge – Thoughts from the Cool Down Runner.

Kinesio Tape – The 2nd Taping

I taped my Achilles again last Friday, but I am already noticing a difference.

Let me back up to last Friday.

Removing the first taping was bit difficult and removed a little extra hair from my leg. For the 2nd taping I removed all of the hair from the back of my calf. Yeah, my calf looks a little funny but at least when I pull it off, it hopefully will not hurt as much.

However, I didn't expect the tape to start peeling.

Even the first night, the tape started to peel part of the way down my calf. This didn't happen with the first taping.

Either I didn't do a good job applying it or Kinesio Tape doesn't work well on hairless calfs and Achilles. Go figure.


Thoughts from the Cool Down Runner

Tuesday Morning Injury Report

Sorry, I forgot to post this yesterday. It was a monster day at work.

My body feels a little tired and quads are pretty sore, but I have a good reason. I spent Saturday afternoon and Sunday touring the Tobacco Road Trail in preparation for the Tobacco Road Marathon.

There is nothing too terribly sore. I just need a few days to shake it off. I thought about running the Miner's Run this morning but decided late last night that a little more rest a better way to go.

My Achilles continues to improve albeit very slowly. Motrin and an Ice Bag continue to my best friends for keeping me running.

Taking the long view, I don't see it hampering me too much for Tobacco Road Marathon.


Injury report from the Cool Down Runner.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Shamrock 10 Race Recap 3.6.10

I normally do not criticize races because I understand that there is a tremendous amount of work goes into them. But after Saturday's race, I feel I have to step up and say something.

This was perhaps the worse race that I have run in many years.

The course was terribly marked, looped and intersected itself, and was even close to be closed to traffic.

Some of the streets had no markings or had faded marks on the far side of the road from the runners. In other areas where the course looped over itself, you had arrows going in different directions. At one point, we looped through a neighborhood and crossed paths with the runners going into the neighborhood.

Making the situation worse, the police held up the traffic for the runners crossing in front of us so we were forced to run on the very edge of the road.

On the return trip, we were heading back along Main Street and cars were passing on either side of us because there were no course monitors or police.

Honestly, I just don't understand. They could have picked any road and ran 3.1 out and back. I mean Mocksville is not that big that we should have these problems. But no, they created this looping and intersecting course with the highest traffic volumes for a Saturday morning in Mocksville.

Ok, I am done unloading now – let me get on with the race recap.

We took off at the start and I quickly hooked up with this other guy. We were working well together and I was hoping we could pull away and battle for 2nd place. I had seen the 10k race leader win the 5k in just under 16 minutes so I knew better than go chasing him.

We crossed two miles and watched the leader heading around the curve in the distance.

When we rounded the curve, there was no leader in sight and no arrows on the road so we did the only think possible and continued on down the road. At this point, I was feeling pretty good and saving something for the last couple of miles. Then we came to a next intersection a "T" intersection with no arrows and no leader in sight.

About this time, a guy in his car came flying out the road blowing his horn and yelling that we needed to go back and turn before the rail road tracks. I was like "what". As we crested hill on the return to the course, tons of runners were already heading up the hill in the right direction.

The right thing to do was work my way back but logic never seems to work for me in these situations. I pushed hard – way too hard and way across the red line. Buy the time I hit the course 3 mile mark, my legs felt like lead weights were strapped to them.

I tried to shake it off but there was not time in the race to recovery. I think I finished 6th or 7th and ran 38:59 for almost 7 miles. I was so frustrated with the race that when we turned the corner for the last 30 yards, I just stopped and walked nice and slowly to the finish. This is something that I have never done before in a race. I did it as a way to let out my frustration in a non-verbal way.

I have already put this race on my do not do ever again list.

On a side note, I was surprised during my warm up to hear someone calling "Bill", "Bill". I looked up briefly but then "Bill" is a common name and I wasn't expecting to see anyone that I knew.

Then, Caitlin came running up beside me. I was totally surprised to see her, but it was good to see someone else that you know at a race.

I think she was equally frustrated by the race. She ran off the course as well. It may have well cost her first place.


Thoughts from a frustrated Cool Down Runner



Thursday, March 4, 2010

Transition Times

I finally had the opportunity to download my times from my Duathlon last Saturday.

My times were a little different from the times posted on line. Interestingly, I cannot account for the differences. I tried to hit the splits on the map.

Maybe they factor in something that I didn't realize.

But it is pretty clear; I had trouble getting dressed and out the door for my bike ride.

  • Run Time 1 – 3.08 miles – 18:06.95
  • Transition Time 1 – 3.13.75
  • Bike Time – 29 miles – 1:34.31.35
  • Transition Time 2 – 1:15.20
  • Run Time 2 – 3.06 miles – 18:36.82

Maybe I should do the run with my helmet already on to save some time.


Thoughts from the Cool Down Runner

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Some of my Duathlon lessons learned

Maybe a better way of putting it is things that I would do differently. Like anything that you do for the first time, mistakes are part of the learning process. I certainly made a lot mistakes during my first Duathlon.

Here are some of the things that I plan to do differently:

  • Put the number on my bike correctly. I put the number on the top tube with the sticky side of the number toward the back. So when I started riding it acted like a funnel catching all of the air.
  • Put my helmet on the ground next to my bike.
  • Hang the bike by the seat post
  • If it is cold, wear my riding clothes during the run
  • Find some Velcro riding clothes. It is a pain to try to zip a jacket while riding.
  • Put the Gels on the bike instead of in the bike jersey pockets.
  • Put the water bottle on the front tube.
  • Don't try to switch my Garmin to and from my arm to the bike and back.
  • For a short race on a cold day, I would just wear my bike gloves during the run portion of the race.
  • Energy management. I don't think I went out hard enough for the first 3 miles and then rode my bike pretty hard, and then I had plenty left for the run. Next time, I want to go a little harder.


With everything we do as humans, we learn from it. The only time that we don't learn is when we don't attempt it.


Therefore as someone once said it is better to try and fail then to never try out all.


Learning from everything and everyone - Thoughts from the Cool Down Runner.




Kinesio Tape – Achilles Tendentious

Since I came home from Myrtle Beach Marathon, I have been battling Achilles Tendentious in my left ankle. No, I didn't get it from the traditional method which is overuse, but I got it via a pair of 2XU tights which has a very tight cuff at the ankle.

But to treat my tendentious, I had been following the traditional approach which is to rest it, elevate it, and ice it. Then on race day I take a couple of Motrin help dull the pain.

Over the last couple of weeks the pain has lesson depending on the day and workout intensity, but the swelling has not decreased.

So someone mentioned that I should try Kinesio Tape.

This is my first experience with using Kinesio Tape so I wasn't sure what I was doing.

But after watching a few videos on the Internet, I thought I could tape myself.

I ordered a box from Kinesio Tex last Wednesday and on Friday it arrived via regular mail.

I watched the video a couple of times and followed the directions.

It did seem to help with the swelling and to some extent with the pain.

On Saturday, I felt my Achilles hurt a couple of times when I would get up out of the saddle on a hill and then when I switched from the bike to the run, it was really stiff. Otherwise, it felt pretty good. It doesn't really hurt too much, but just feels more like a huge "Knot" just below calf.

Sunday's 22 mile long run felt pretty much the same way with a huge "Knot".

There is a lessons learned here. I didn't shave my leg beforehand so pulling off the tape is a bit of a challenge.

And as advertised, the tape stays on for days (i.e. through races and workouts) and even when I take a shower. It does say to pat the tape rather than rub it if you get it wet.

A 16' roll of tape is roughly 12 dollars with 6 dollars for shipping. Which means it is not something that you want to just waste, but if you have a problem, it might just be the ticket to solving it.


Thoughts on Kinesio Taping from the Cool Down Runner



As I was getting ready for my first Duathlon, I picked up my first pair of Yankz from the TrySports Store. The concept is pretty simple so easy that I should have tried them a long time ago. Basically, there is a sliding device on the strings that controls the tightness. Slide it forward to release the tension and slide it back to increase the tightness.

I tried the strings in a training run beforehand. I wanted to ensure I worked out any kinks before race day. That test run went very well. I then switched them over to my Brooks racing flats for the race.

On race morning I put on my racing flats and played with the Yankz to make sure that I could loosen and tighten them on the fly as needed.

After the run, I pulled the slider loose and pulled on my bike shoes. Then after the run, I put them back on. It was one of the few things that actually went well for me during the run to bike and bike to run transition.

I have not totally switched all of my shoes to Yankz because they are little bit expensive at 8 dollars per pair. I might stick with the traditional method for my training shoes but for my racing flats, I will definitely make the switch. This way I have one less excuse for losing time in a race because one of my shoes became untied.