Saturday, December 31, 2011

’11 Year in review mirror

Not sure how long this "year in the review" will be. I even had thoughts of skipping it, but in each of the past three years the reflection helped with the planning for the year to come. Thus, the writing started with a single word, then a sentence, then a paragraph, and before I knew it; it was done. Besides one needs a little reflection because reflection is good for the running soul.

I often tell people that I rarely repeat the same mistakes. However, being human means we all find ways to create new mistakes. We are an ever learning species.

'10 saw me sign up for the Boston Marathon for the first time. This meant the spring of '11 would be spent in preparation for it.

At first, my training plan put together this aggressive racing schedule leading up to Boston. Plenty of 8k through ½ marathon races would be used to harden the lungs, heart, and legs.

For a reason that I cannot seem to recall now, I reversed course and spent the "Spring" logging tons of miles, lots of tempo runs, and intervals.

Boston arrived and I spent the morning huddled in a tiny tent talking to Nathan and Mike for the better part of 2 hours. By race time, I was ready to go.

The gun sounded and I lost track of Nathan and Mike in the crowed. Hitting the first in just over 6 minutes, I was only looking forward.

Looking forward, falling forward, hearing the screams at Wesley College, feeling the agony of spent legs crawling up heart break hill, my legs finally cried "uncle" on the downhill side.

22 miles were completed but that was as far as my left hamstring had agreed to go. A cramp occurred so I slowed.

Those last 4 miles were as tough as any that I had ever run or so I thought. Nathan passed me about mile 25. I was expecting to see Mike any second.

Finally came the finish line and cheering people and my first Boston Marathon was under my belt. Definitely this was a memory that I will treasure forever. Boston turns out for the runners like no city that I have ever encountered.

Fast forward through some Duathlons and Biathlons which I for whatever the reason didn't seem to enjoy as much this year. Maybe I am ready to try a Triathlon instead. The thought does seem to intrigue me.

With the Belmont 5k came a win. Winning a race always creates a special memory no matter the size field or the quality of the competition. For on this particular day you were the fastest person on that course. No one can ever take that away from you.

Summer rolled in along with the summer heat. Summer track started and an opportunity to run another marathon.

For many years, the Hatfield and McCoy summertime marathon had been held in mid June and had always caught my attention.

I throw in a few long runs and a few hard workouts and signed up. Believing one is ready and knowing one is ready are definitely two different mental states.

Hanging out at the prerace dinner the night before, a familiar face walked up – Bobby Aswell. To be on honest, I wasn't too surprised. Bobby runs marathons like I run recovery runs – almost every day.

Race morning was decent. The temperature was about mid 60s at 7AM.

The first couple miles were downhill and felt really easy. Then the climbing started. The road went up and up. Up to this point, this was probably the steepest and longest hill that I have climbed in race and definitely in a marathon.

Going down the other side wasn't any easier. The road was just as steep and the pounding into the quads was unrelenting.

By the time, the ½ marathon point came, I was already looking for the finish line. And, the course didn't get any easier.

The road narrowed to a cart path and then disappeared into a rutted out trail. Then, the course opened back on to a golf course and crossed a swinging bridge. The rains came with just enough water to wet everything down making for a nice sauna when the sun came out. And come out it did. I was drinking at every aid station and still felt like I was running in a furnace.

Miles 20 to 26 were a complete haze. There was this long hill that wasn't on the profile at 24 miles. This mile was probably in excess of 8+ minutes. I don't really know. Like I said, this was a hazy period of time for me.

I thought about quitting but there was no one to help. I thought about walking but it would only take longer to reach the finish.

Finally, I turned the corner and crossed the finish line. The hallucinations must have set in for when I saw the temperature on the local bank's sign, I couldn't believe it. Ugh, no wonder I was suffocating in the heat. The sign displayed something like 92 degrees.

An older lady asked me if I needed help to which I replied "Yes, I need a place to set down and cool off".

Two hours passed while they tried to stuff me with water and Powerade. It didn't work and all came up. I mean I felt awful. I couldn't even stand up. That is when the doctor came over and said "let's give him an IV". This was the first IV that I have ever had. Man, did it help. 2 IV bags went into my arm and within 20 minutes, I felt great.

This was also the point where I vowed to never run another summertime marathon.

The month of June also saw me do a cycling TT at Charlotte Motor speedway and complete the entire summer track series.

July rolled around and my bucket list needed to check off a couple of items: The Bear and The Scream.

First was The Bear. We started at foot of Grand Father Mt. and ran to the top. Up and up we went. I never ran a mile faster than 7:15. There was a point where I looked up the Mt. and saw Mike running a couple of switch backs ahead. When I completed the final switch back, the climb up the finish line was maybe the worst of all. Stepping across the finish line, I went from trying to run to walking without any effort at all.

My goal was to break 40 minutes and to get a cup. Both were accomplished.

Next up was The Scream. Race morning was cool and with a slight drizzle. My legs were heavy at the start but after 2 miles Mike and I were still together. Then, the downhill section started and I started throwing all kinds of crazy surges at Mike. One mile we hit 5:21. Mike can run those miles but I cannot. He put a nice little gap on me during miles 6 – 11 but I like to think that I was pulling back some time over those last 2 miles. We only finished about 40 seconds apart.

Two low points were hit at Blue Points 5k and cycling Team Time Trial. At Blue Points I just couldn't get going. My legs just would not turn over. At the cycling team time trial, Justin, Meredith, and Jeremy were my teammates.

I knew Meredith and Justin were good. I learned how good they were and how old it made me feel.

Tour De Elvis saw me have a little bounce back with a mid 17s. The Greek fest 5k saw a little more with a 17:16.

Coming off these two races I was looking forward to the Charleston Distance Run. The Charleston Distance run was race that I did several times when I lived in West Virginia. It was one of the biggest races around and one that everyone looked forward to running each fall.

This would be my first attempt in many years to run it.

Megan, Jinnie, and Stan had been talked into running it with me. Funny scene happened as we drove over the course the day before. The Distance run has this hill called "Capital Punishment Hill". The hill is probably a mile to a mile and ¾ long. One would think Megan had never seen a hill before because she curled up in this little ball staring up the hill from inside the car.

Race morning the temperature was anything but cool. Warm and humid conditions were not the makings for great race conditions.

I was ill prepared for this race and was struggling long before we returned the flats of down town Charleston.

The last 6 miles were in the "get to the finish" mode. Looking back now, the time really wasn't that bad considering the heat and humidity.

After the distance run, my ramp up to OBX was to start.

Megan and I were doing a workout at Mc Alpine. The last interval was a mile repeat. I finished it off in something like 5:48 but I felt a tweak in my hamstring. Tweaks happen all the time and I didn't think too much more about it.

A few days later my hamstring was really tight but I raced on it anyway. By the next week it was really impacting my running. I could not do anything hard without pain, but I raced twice the following weekend.

For the next couple of weeks, I tried to do some workouts but mainly I just ran on it. I was practically living with an ice bag attached to it.

Then I tried to do the Salem Lake 30k. This was an experience in misery because I couldn't really run. Heavy rains poured before during and afterward which made the course a muddy mess.

Another week off, then I crafted a plan of racing short races on Saturday and running easy miles the rest of the time. I was holding out hope it would improve enough by OBX.

Hindsight tells me that I should have just rested it right from the start. I didn't.

OBX, I was took some Advil and ran 10 miles pretty hard. Then I slowly spiraled downward to the finish. Megan had a great race and Mike, while being sick, turned in a gutsy performance and beat me to the finish by 7 seconds.

Running OBX didn't seem to hurt my hamstring too much but clearly it didn't help it any.

My final race of the year would be the holiday half marathon in Huntersville, NC. I am still not sure why I signed up for it because I struggled from about 3 miles onward. For the next week, I was left icing my hamstring and nursing some really bad blisters.

'11 saw me do some 25 running races, 4 cycling time trials, 4 duathlons/biathlons, and reach the 4000 mile plateau in early December. Through these many races, most of my time seemed to be spent having more valleys than peaks this year. The good news is that my hamstring is on the mend. My blisters are healing.

As I look head into '12 and ponder what the New Year holds. I know my '11 season was a season of a few good races but lots of struggles. Getting older hasn't helped but something else I realized. Back in '07, I ran 3407 miles and completed in 34 running races. I seem to be racing just as much. However, the extra mileage has not produced the rewards that one might expect. I literally ran 2 extra months of mileage in a 12 month period this year.

So for now, I will set here and gaze into my crystal ball looking for images to guide me back to good running form in '12.


Sharing one thought at time,


The Cool Down Runner



Saturday, December 24, 2011

The Story of Fatigue

Long ago in a far off land there lived a people in the kingdom of "it". Within this kingdom there was a particular village that I want to draw your attention to. This village was called "Runnerville"

Now, for the most part the towns' folk of Runnerville were simple people. They lived simple lives.

They lived healthy. They ate healthy. They drove green cars and recycling everything. Everyone drank water and not one water bottle went to the landfill. Everyone carried home their groceries in reusable bags.

But what made them the healthiest is that they loved to run. To tell you how much they loved to run, they named streets after runners. There was Frank Shorter Blvd which crossed Gold and Silver Avenue. There's Meb Blvd which cross Silver Avenue. There is the Bill Rogers Rd which is just 4 blocks long. Then, there is the downhill auto bond freeway named after Ryan Hall. His road intersects with Kenyan way which ends at Victory Lane.

They even named their children after famous runners. Just yell Kara or Ryan and at least 20 kids would a come running.

Runnerville was abound with parks and trails. One of the biggest parks in town was called Marathon Park. Everyone loved running in Marathon Park for it had everything a runner needed. There were long straight sections for running intervals. There were straight mile long hills. There were loops around the park so long that a runner could do a 30 mile run and never need to retrace his steps. Every path was marked in 200 meter increments and there was a restroom located every 3 miles. Runnerville runner's just loved their park.

After years and years spent holding just 5k, 10k, and 15k races in the park. The local running club decided to do something spectacular. They decided to hold a marathon. Now, everyone in town was super excited about the idea and almost everyone jumped on board to help out.

That is all but one person. His name was Fatigue A. Miles.

Fatigue didn't live like the other people in Runnerville. He was about average height and slightly overweight. He had big hands and feet that turned slightly outward when he walked. His house was a one story flat with all of the windows boarded up. He drove a big diesel truck – a 12 cylinder job which bulged thick clouds of black smoke.

But what made Fatigue most different from the other people of it was he hated exercise. Walking from his lazy-boy to the refrig left him winded. When taking out the trash on Friday morning, he had to bring along a chair so he could rest at the curb before walking back. Yes, Fatigue was out shape because he didn't enjoy running like the other residents of Runnerville and he didn't like it that they enjoyed it.

So when the flyers circulated about town that a marathon was to be held in two weeks, Fatigue was beside himself. How could they hold a marathon in his town and even want to run right down his street. No, this couldn't happen. He had to prevent it.

Just so you know, this was not the first time that Fatigue had railed against sporting events. Every year in the days leading up the New York, Chicago, and Boston Marathon he would send a very strongly worded email to the Race Directors detailing the pitfalls for running and ruining one's health.

When the emails didn't work, he would protest. He carried a sign before, during, and after races – shouting in large letters the "Hazards of Running". And, on one occasion he had attempted to block the start of race by having a sit down in front of the starting line. His cries to cancel the race could be heard over the noise of 5 bands and the cheers of the racers as he was handcuffed and dragged away by the local constabulary.

Now that a marathon race was going by his very doorway, he had reached his limit. He would do what he must but there would be no marathon. But how; how would he stop this marathon from occurring?

Then, the idea hit and he knew what he must do.

There was a precious few days before the marathon was to be held so he had little time to waste.

Pushing out of his lazy-boy and heading for his workshop at the back of his house, he started to work. He would not sleep. He would not eat. He would work day and night to make his plan a reality. He would do whatever he must. The pounding, the sawing, the wielding, the many trips to the local hardware pushed him to his physical limit, but he had no choice. The marathon shouldn't happen. It couldn't happen not on his watch.

While Fatigue was preparing, the people of Runnerville was also making their fair town ready for the marathon. The streets were cleaned. The lights were polished. The miles were marked. The porta-potties rolled in on the back of a flat bed truck. Hundreds of thousands of T-shirts were printed. Race numbers with the runner's names were prepared.

The vendors from the Shoe companies, running apparel companies, food companies were just a few of the people arriving into town for this big event.

This would be the biggest event to take place in Runnerville ever.

On the night before the big event, Fatigue was putting the final touches on his plan.

For this plan to work, he would have to remove every running related item from the town of Runnerville. To do this, he built the largest dump truck ever created. Just imagine if you will, the largest dump truck in existence and then multiple it by 10 times. In fact, just filling the tank cost him $567, 432.12.

When he cranked it up, the engine spewed exhaust into the air so black that one could not see their hand in front of their face for a half mile.

While Fatigue was making ready, everyone else in town was running the marathon so they were all off to bed early. Around, 10 pm he started silently slipping into each home in Runnerville and taking all of the running related items. Every singlet, running-T, shorts, socks, and shoes he took. He grabbed all of the petroleum jelly and body glide that he could find. He took the food from the frig. He took the oatmeal, peanut and almond butter jars. He took every ounce of sports drink that he could find. Gatorade, Powerade, Nunn it didn't matter. He loaded up on the bagels and bananas. He snatched up the gels no matter what the flavor or brand; he took it. He even took the last roll of toilet paper from the holder. One would think this would put runners in a world of hurt.

But Fatigue wasn't finished just yet. When there was nothing runningwise left in the house, he crept over to the alarm clocks for each family and turned off the alarm. What could be crueler than waking up late for a race?

When he had visited every home in town and removed their running stuff, he knew there was one last thing left to do.

So he drove over to the starting line, mashing everything in sight with the large rubber tires acting like four individual steam rollers. Once there, he loaded up the banners, the tables, the water, the fruit, the timing equipment, the mile marks, and the race numbers. And before leaving, he even scraped up the paint used to mark mile points and the start/finish line.

As he rolled out of town, there was nothing left in Runnerville that told of a city ready to host a marathon.

He would drive this stuff over and dump it in the nearby landfill where this huge waste of material would never be seen again. The road was bumpy and the springs on the dump truck creaked under the massive load as he ever so slowly rolled along.

As he left the city limits and headed up a mountain road, a freakish little smile came across his face. He had done it. He had stopped this exercise thing called a marathon in its tracks.

Reaching the dumping site, he turned the truck around and backed it up to the edge. Nearly 4 hours had passed since he had left. He thought he would take one last look at Runnerville down below before dumping this load.

He opened the cab door and climbed to the top of the truck so he could get a better view of Runnerville.

The marathon was to start in 20 minutes but he expected to see no one out. All should be worried and scampering around their houses wondering where their running stuff had gone and why their alarms didn't go off.

His eye must be seeing things. There was a huge crowd of people in Marathon Park. He scrambled to the cab for his binoculars. Yes, there were tons of people in Marathon Park. They were wearing boots, jeans, and coats as they were warming up. They had makeshift numbers made using notebook paper and a sharpie. A new line has been drawn across the road with two letters beside it "S/F" for start and finish.

And what astonished Fatigue the most, they were happy. Everyone one was smiling and ready to run. Why was this he thought? He had removed their running stuff. They should be miserable.

That's when the thought finally hit him. No matter how bad things are, people don't run because of the material stuff. Yes, the running stuff does make it easier and nicer, but more so, they run because it makes them feel better and it makes them happier when they do it.

He knew right then and there that he couldn't dump this stuff. He had to return each and every item back to its rightful owner.

With one hand he swung back into the cab and revved the engine. Down the road he went. Taking each turn at breakneck speed with the wheels scrapping the edge he was barely staying on the road.

He arrived back in town barely 10 minutes before the race.

Pulling up at the race start, he slowly climbed from the cab. Eyes down and chin on his chest, he begged for their forgiveness and explained the error of his ways.

To his surprise, the people of Runnerville forgave him. They immediately started passing out everything from the back of the dump truck. Within 5 minutes and with everyone's help every item was returned to its rightful owner.

The town's people were so sure that Fatigue had changed his ways that they invited him to race and give him the number one. To which, he gratefully accepted.

That day, he ran for the first time and finished the marathon in 5 hours and 7 minutes.

As he crossed the finish line, they put a finisher medal around his neck and asked him how he was able to do it. The lifting, the pushing, the hard work making the dump truck, the running to the local hardware store, he had been training his body.

Exercise in and of itself is good, but when combined with a goal, a purpose, then the hard work all makes sense.



Sharing one thought at a time,


The Cool Down Runner





Friday, December 23, 2011

Final 22 miler in the books

Boy was I glad the rain stopped today. With a holiday weekend fast approaching, I did not want to push my final long, long run before Disney into this weekend. When this morning broke sunny and clear, I headed out the door.

Man, I hope Disney isn't too warm. I felt like I was melting even with the temperature barely crossing the 60 degree mark.

However, the best part of the run was I finally returned home with no additional blisters to fix. After OBX and the Holiday Half marathon, each and every week was spent going from one blister to the next. Getting through any type of workout without getting one seemed impossible.

That is until today.

I have gone to coating down the blistered area with liquid bandage. The stuff smells like modeling glue, but the stuff does the trick. Pretty much, I found that it is a one application per run usage. Between running and showering, the liquid bandage is gone. This might seem strange but I am happy to coat it again and again if I don't get a blister. The simple things in life are all that is important.

If you have not finished your shopping hurry up, tomorrow is the last day.

Also tomorrow look for the post on "The story of Fatigue".


Sharing one thought at a time,

The Cool Down Runner


Thursday, December 22, 2011

59:59 then a treadmill expects a cool down

Yesterday, I learned two new things. First, the treadmills at the Y only go to 59 minutes and 59 seconds before they automatically convert over to a cool down run for 5 minutes. The second, if running on a treadmill is going to become a habit, my iPod needs a longer play list.

Going to the Y treadmill was my way of avoiding the rain yesterday. And, a lot of good did it do me. Running outside, I would have almost assuredly gotten soaked. Running inside, I pretty much got the same result. Crank up the heat to 72 degrees for an hour and half and the perspiration comes rolling out. Leaving me soaked with sweat dripping from my shorts and shirt. Yes, there was a towel handy. Well, the towel was handy at the start. Within 30 seconds, it fell to the floor and once running I don't stop.

Those who know me know that I don't run with an iPod. I am not fawn of the wire dangling against me. But with a 12 mile run staring me down, the silent movie version of Y TV overhead, and the distance counter on the treadmill O so slowly accumulating the miles, my mind need something to lose itself for a while. Out came my iPod.

Listening to music does help and really helped with the miles between 6 and 12. Getting lost in the song and mentally singing along helped to pass the seconds turning into minutes and the quarters turning into miles.

Running at the Y is kind of like having a group run with strangers. Being on the treadmill for a long period of time, gives the opportunity to see many people come and go. Many often stare either at the amount of perspiration dripping on to my treadmill or at the display on the treadmill. Most don't say anything. Leaves me wondering what they really think when they see me running.

Luckily, running on a treadmill is not a frequent occurrence for me, but who knows, I might become a regularly. If I do, I'll need more songs.



Sharing one thought at a time,

The Cool Down Runner

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Higher strung, more intense personality

During my Facebook browsing last night, one status update jumped out that interested me. Mark Hadley posted a piece on his Runner's Mental Predisposition Theory. No need for me to try to explain Mark's theory, because I couldn't do the expert enough justice. I do suggest reading it at the above link.

What interested me the most was trying to figure out where I fell within his theory? Self analysis is often a good thing and can be somewhat of a humbling experience. Maybe not as humbling as someone else's analysis but still good idea all the same.

Reading through the four quadrants and the attributes associated with each, I tried to fit myself into one of the four quadrants. My guess is that no one person fit perfectly into a quadrant so I tried to find the quadrant with which I shared the most attributes.


Quadrant #1:
• Higher strung, more intense personality (High Strung doesn't sound like but intense I would say so)
• Ability to stay aggressive and focused during lactate accumulation (I'd say sometimes)
• Becomes increasingly passive and distracted as energy system fatigue builds (Nay, not me)
• Under-performs training level in races over 60 minutes in duration (I'd say that I am the opposite here)
• On par or over-performs training level in races under 60 minutes in duration (I wouldn't say this is necessary true)
• Excels at shorter distance races (800 to 10k in length) (Maybe I getting order is the reason, but don't feel I exel here)

Quadrant #2:
• Extremely confident, self assured personality (I'd like to think so at least where running is concerned)
• Ability to stay aggressive and execute race plans in either fatigue situation (stay aggressive yes, execute is a strong word, I like the word adjust race plans better so yes)
• Ability to race on par or better than training level at all race distances (I'd say yes. My training pace rarely approach my racing paces)
• Can excel at any race distance and often has large race range (not sure about this one. 800 and a mile efforts hurt. Mentally, I wish they would go faster but most of the time they simply refuse)

Quadrant #3:
• More laid back or easy going personality (Outside of running, I would say yes)
• Ability to stay aggressive and focused during energy system fatigue (I'd say yes)
• Becomes increasingly passive and distracted as lactate accumulates (I am trying to stay open minded that maybe a little bit of "yes" here)
• Under-performs training level in races under 60 minutes in duration (I'd say yes)
• On par or over-performs training level in races over 60 minutes in duration (I'd say yes)
• Excels at longer race distances (half marathon to marathon) (Again, I'd say yes)

Quadrant #4:
• Apathetic personality (Definitely a "NO")
• Becomes very passive during lactate accumulation (I'd say no)
• Becomes increasingly passive as energy system fatigue builds (I'd say no)
• Underperforms training level at all distances (I'd say no)
• Does not particularly excel at any race distance (I'd say no)


Somewhere between quadrant 2 and quadrant 3 is where the Cool Down Runner falls. Being confident and self assured are attributes that I strive to achieve. Executing my race plans within reason. A race plan is only as good as your ability to adjust. Races never unfold exactly as one would expect them. Adjusting to the ebb and flow of a race is a key attribute and comes from your confidence in your ability.

I race at all distances but not always running well at all distances. However, I attribute this to a corollary to Mark's Theory. One can race well at all distances but to excel at any one distance, one needs to specialize. Thus, one can run decent race times over a number of different distances but may not have exceptional times. Only once they specialize will they get close to their maximum potential

Laid back and easy going personality is something that I hope comes out when I am not racing. Usually, for training runs and workouts, I am pretty flexible when it comes to getting it done either solo or with a group.

I like to think that my number of solid marathons efforts show my ability to handle energy system fatigue.

For races less than 60 minutes, I'd say that I race on par. Usually, I don't ever exceed my expectations.

Really, the last 2 bullets of quadrant 3 show where my forte lies. I like to think that I excel at these two bullets.

As for quadrant 1 and 4, maybe a little of me is present in quadrant run. I would like to think that quadrant 4 and I don't share any attributes, but perspective is everything.

So this is my read on myself. Anyone else that reads this and feel differently leave a comment with your thoughts. Maybe I am just blinded by my rose colored sunglasses.


Sharing one thought at a time,


The Cool Down Runner

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Front loading the week

The biggest holiday of the year is almost upon us and means time for family, food, watching TV, and above all resting.

For runners rest really only happens at two times in our lives. We are either injured or died. Injured can mean valuable rest that leads to a new PR. The latter of which there is no return, but just leads to one long extended rest.

Therefore in Holiday spirit, there will be no missed runs this week, but Saturday, Sunday, and perhaps Monday will be recovery days.

To make them true recovery days, the first few days of this week are being frontloaded. This means lots and lots of miles.

The miles will not necessarily be hard. The miles will not be unnecessarily long. There will just be a buildup which then justifies giving the body some downtime over the weekend.

For everyone out there running now, bulk up on the miles over the next few days and then enjoy a nice recovery during the weekend.


Sharing one thought at a time,

The Cool Down Runner



Monday, December 19, 2011

Charlotte Running Club Holiday Lights Run

Last night, a little after 5:30 PM the Charlotte Running Club members headed off in what is fast becoming a tradition during this time of year – Our Club's Family Holiday Lights run through the Dilworth area. Pretty cool event, it being my first time. Enjoyed seeing a lot familiar faces and meeting lots of new faces.

Even better entire families come out including children and pets. Many were dressed in holiday attire from antlers to green,red,and white socks.

While the air was a bit nippy, most everyone was able to warm their self with some hot chocolate and cookies.

I want to give out a major Kudos to our Social Director – Emily for making this happen. Most of us just want to run, but somebody has to step up and organize these events. Emily is our go to person and makes it happen.

For anyone missing this event, please plan to put it on your social calendar for next year. This is a must "do" event.

Photos from the run can be found here on Facebook.


Sharing one thought at a time,

The Cool Down Runner

Friday, December 16, 2011

Add 2 miles training program

After my blisters nearly brought my running to a crawl (in running terms), my miles took major hit. Thursday, my daily mileage tally stood embarrassingly at 2 miles. Friday, 4 more miles were put under my belt. Saturday, I found time to get in 6 miles. From there, I could feel a pattern forming and vowed to keep it going into the next week.

That is at least for a few days into the next week. Sunday, my legs carried me 8 miles. Monday, the miles put in were 10. Tuesday morning I found time to join the Miner's run and only stopped once I hit 12 miles. Wednesday morning, my legs were feeling trashed as I attempted to run some paltry miles around the PDS track to reach the grand total of 14 miles. Come Thursday morning, the daily mileage total got bumped up 2 more miles to 16 miles.

Today, did I do 18 miles? Actually, no, I did not. Why? Well, tomorrow, I planned to do 22 miles. Something tells me jumping over 18 and 20 is probably a bad idea, but the runner's mentality tells me that I am capable of anything if I set my mind to it.


Sharing one thought at time,


The Cool Down Runner

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Is the day over yet?

Is my day over yet? I hope it ends soon so I can move on to tomorrow. Complaining about it being a long day is probably not the most ideal way to justify my paltry mental attitude. Mike was up and heading toward the Miner's Run before my alarm clock even thought of raising a roar that would come to resonate throughout my room.

Miner's is one of the best ongoing runs in Charlotte. However, I have been skipping the Miner's Run lately for two major reasons. First, 5:30 AM comes long before the crack of dawn to run but even earlier when one has to drive across town. Add to it, the mercury is only able to reach numbers which make me think about just one thing. A warm and cozy bed being the best place to stay until the sun has at least crested over the horizon.

The other reason has less to do with the start time and the temperature but rather with something that we all preciously need – sleep. Lord knows that I need all of the beauty sleep that I can get. Each day that passes I am looking less and less like my twin - Fabio. But of course, even if I slept like Rip Van Winkle, I don't think my looks would come to match Fabio. Looks aside, slumber time gives the body a chance to repair most of the damage that comes from the day's hard work. The blissful time between dusk and dawn allow the rest needed so we can once again train to our fullest when the day begins anew.

Is my day over yet? Yes, I think it is. My post is now complete.


Sharing one thought at a time,

The Cool Down Runner

Monday, December 12, 2011

Club Mileage Programs

Being around Charlotte for a number of years, I have become a member of several running clubs. Many of which have club mileage programs.

So what exactly is a Club Mileage Program? Well, these clubs track the member's mileage participating in the program and once they reach their goal mileage for the year, they receive a recognition award.

I have participated in these programs off and on over the years but never really thought much about why. At least not until, I got into an email exchange with Ben on the topic last night.

Exactly why did I do it? Was it for the award? Surely, this wasn't the reason. I have collected numerous awards during my 28 years of running.

Writing my response, I finally had to put some of the reasons down in an email.

Partly, I guess I do it because to some extent it gives me some recognition for all the miles that I put in during the course of the year. But more so, I do it because I am held accountable, but in reality no one is putting direct pressure i.e. "peer pressure" on me. I know I have this goal and want to reach and even surpass it. One has to be accountable to one's self first.


Sharing one thought at time,

The Cool Down Runner



Sunday, December 11, 2011

Foot Locker XC Meet Streamed Live

Wow, how life and times has changed? Yesterday, I was able to use my Smartphone to stream live the Foot Locker Girls XC meet from San Diego, CA. Mark has posted the link on Facebook and using the link, I went to a web site where the XC meet was streamed live video right to my phone. I saw Alana being introduced and was able to watch as the race unfolded.

Some people might feel that this makes them feel too connected but not me. I love where technology is going and the ability it gives me to watch events real time from anywhere – anywhere that I am.

Now, if the guys involved with the Olympic Trial Marathons would wake up and give us the same type of access, I would be very appreciative. Wake-up NBC, throw in some side by side commercials but let the races be web cast.



Sharing one thought at a time,

The Cool Down Runner


TrySports Ambassador Team Social

Social are occasions for seeing new faces, old faces, and faces that I really need to remember. On Thursday night, we had a little social gathering for our Ambassador team. Some of them I see on a regular basis because they are either work at TrySports or run races. But there is always a few that I may have only met once a few years ago.

When this happens, I have to reintroduce myself and then apologize for not recalling the last time we met. This makes me wish that I had prefect memory recall.

But our social was good with lots of stories told, good food eaten, and a good time had by all.

Having socials are also good for another reason as well. Most of these people have only seen me in my running or cycling attire so a change in venue gives me an opportunity to see other people dressed for their day jobs.

One of the shows my daughters like to watch is "What not to wear". The show transforms people who normally dress down to being dressed up. Usually, the transformation is significant.

This is how I view these socials. Take away the running shorts and singlet and replace them with a dress or jacket/dockers and I am left wondering who this charming person is. Fortunately, I am bright enough to quickly realize who it is – at least in most cases.


Sharing one thought at a time,

The Cool Down Runner




Thursday, December 8, 2011

Blister – Oh so tender

After years of running my feet are pretty tough. Lots of miles will do that to them. But sometimes even the smallest pebble can feel like a boulder when I step on it.

That's what's happening right now.

Somewhere along the road to Manteo I developed this huge blister on my right foot. This was not the first blister to mark my completion of a marathon race, but this current OBX blister has been the most lingering.

For 3 weeks, I ran on a sore blister which was just about healed. Then, along comes the Holiday Huntersville ½ marathon. Here I created a new blister and reopened the old one.

Seems like since September, the only luck I can get is bad luck where injuries are concerned.

I mean a blister is a blister and it isn't like I have never had one before nor ever run on one before.

Sunday, I ran. Monday, I ran and so on.

By yesterday, instead of getting better, it was getting worse. I could barely put any weight on the middle part of my foot. I tried running on the outside part but after a while, this part even started hurting.

Now comes the gross part. You might want to skip the rest.

After my run, I knew I needed to open it. The trouble was; the blister is hidden under a large callus. This takes me back to a Tom Hanks movie – Castaway. In the movie Tom Hanks has a bad tooth that needed to come out so using a pair of ice skates and a rock, he knocks out the tooth. The scene hurts just watch in the movie and what I was about to do was probably going to hurt as well.

I sterilized a needle and prepared to open it. One of three things were about to happen. Water would come out. Blood would come out. I would hit a nerve. Of the 3 options, I hoped it was not the last.

No leather strap, I just gritted my teeth and plunged in the needle. No blood came out but a lot of water and pus. No wonder my foot has been hurting.

Next there was some squeezing to encourage all of it to come out and then applied some antibiotic cream.

My foot is oh so sore today. I may try to do just a few miles. I have to keep my streak going.

Otherwise, I am trying to stay off it. Maybe a couple of real easy day are what I need anyway.


Sharing one thought at a time,

The Cool Down Runner





Wednesday, December 7, 2011

CRC Board Meeting #2

Last month came my election to the CRC board which meant that I was now obligated to attend the monthly meetings. Not that I couldn't attend before because all board meetings are open to the entire club as far as I know. But being on the board comes with the responsibility that one needs to attend the meetings.

Thus, the December meeting rolled around last night at 7 PM and was held in the lounge at the Dowd YMCA. Having the meeting at the YMCA actually allowed me to combine two activities.

Shortly after 5pm, I headed for the Y with my workout bang in hand. A good hour and 15 minutes worth of easy cardio and strength training works wonders. A quick shower and up stairs to the lounge area for our 7 PM meeting.

Aaron, Billy, Ben, Mike, Emily, Caitlin were all in attendance.

Aaron handed out a copy of the agenda and we went through the items line by line.


  • Financial Update
  • Holiday lights run
  • CRC Winter Classic Update
  • CRC Race Series Update
  • Renewal Process
  • Nominating 2 additional members
  • Prez/VP/Treasurer/Sec roles assignment
  • Jan- day long working session


Billy reviewed the details of the club finances and updated us on the status of the club getting a P.O. Box.

Our "holiday lights run" was discussed and some thought was given to maybe altering the route to one with more lights. Emily is following up and will report back with more details about the course. Btw – this is schedule for later this month so stay alert and come out.

CRC Winter Classic update was pretty quick as only Emily and Caitlin hadn't been active in those discussions. The web site is just about ready with race information as well as registration. There is also the ability for mail in registration by printing out the forms to your local printer. The course has been documented. But like any race there many other tasks to complete.

CRC Race Series Update – This topic was discussed briefly but in large part was put on hold. Really, this is a separate meeting unto itself. I like the idea of a CRC race series so might just have to setup and help on this one.

Renewal process – there was some discussion about how the process currently works and what the vision is for this in the coming years. There is going to be opportunities at the upcoming runs where you can renew your membership in person. The other option is to mail in a check and of course there is the online registration option.

Nominating of 2 (at large) board members – This is one of the more interesting attributes of the CRC club. The board has the ability to choose 2 additional at large members. No other club that I am in allows this.

There were many good names discussed as possible candidates for these two positions. I could tell there was a lot of thought going into the nominations.

Board roles – most everyone agreed the board roles assignments for '12 would be pushed back until January when the two at large members could attend.

Day Long Working session – Although the club has only been around for a short time, these day long working sessions a couple of times per year seem to have become a tradition. Having not attended one, I am interested in seeing what these meeting involve.

That's about it.

The meeting lasted just over an hour. Billy was taking notes so he will post a more detailed account where ever the club keeps them. I am new so I am still learning.


Sharing one thought at a time,


The Cool Down Runner

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Follow up on the Huntersville Half Marathon

Late last night or really, early this morning depending on your point of view – 12:15 AM to be exact, I got an email from Bear Robinson. He is the race director for the Huntersville races this past weekend. In the email, he made apologies for the lack of medals, shirts, and beanies for the race participates. He went on to say that he was well under way in getting those items for the people that didn't get them on race day. I ran run enough races to know that I cannot fault a guy for running out of stuff when his race gets a huge number of participates last minute.

Additionally, in his email he sought feedback from the runners both good and bad on how to improve the race for next year.

All things given, his efforts were pretty effective for a first year race. I'd give him an "A" for his race director efforts

His email did allude to some requests from the Town of Huntersville. He didn't give any details, but I could give a couple of good guesses and it would have to do with crossing Highway 73.

Starting the race near Fleet Feet and crossing 73 probably wasn't a big issue but having runners crossing back in ones and twos put a busy highway at a standstill. I know when I crossed the intersection; the traffic was backed up a good ways in both directions. Thus, we probably delayed more than one person from getting to Starbucks on time – sorry, just a little sarcastic humor on my part.

As for changes, I have a few recommendations.

First, let's tackle the issue of crossing highway 73. Having the race start and then within a quarter mile cross 73 should not be a major issue for the Town of Huntersville because it would only tie up traffic for a few minutes. As well the roads are wider and it makes things much easier as the race grows. The bigger question is how to get runners back across 73 without tying up traffic. There is the option of moving the finish across 73 and maybe into the parking lot with Jason Deli. Another option that comes to mind is extend the greenway path under the bridge that carries 73. Then, the runners could come up the back way and still finish near Fleet Feet. I like this idea the best.

There is one other change that I would like to see. Today, we don't have enough out and back courses. The opportunity to see the runners ahead and behind is always something that I liked. Changing the ½ course to be out and back would not be too difficult. Not to mention, the change would reduce the number of water stops, course monitors, and other traffic congestion issues. Particularly, the sections we ran along Gilead and Stumptown Roads. Trying to give runners a place to run using cones to provide a small running space on a two lane road just doesn't make sense. Besides, I wan run through the area enough; we could easily get a 6.55 mile course one way.

However, I don't want to end my post on a negative note.

When it is all said and done, Bear and his team deserve a big pat on the back for a job well done. Congrads Bear.



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The Cool Down Runner


Monday, December 5, 2011

Large boulders don’t roll up hill easily

Yes, if one were to decide to push a rather large boulder uphill, they shouldn't expect the boulder to go up easily.

After my debacle during the Huntersville half marathon I finally gave in and said enough was enough. Trying to race, trying to put in training miles, all the while trying to recover was just too much.

Not to mention the huge OBX blister that was healing very nicely only to be reopened during the ½ . If there is such a thing as shooting ones' self in the foot, then I have been doing it.

For now, any expectations that I had for racing have been shelved. And other than maybe jumping into a workout to help Megan as she finishes her prep for the trials, my hard running will be kept to a minimum.

I'll do Disney as a long run in January and the look forward into '12. I will focus on getting my hamstring healed and with it hopefully a return to good running form.

On the marathon front, an extended break may be just the ticket that I need.

The last 4 years have seen me complete 10 marathons and a 50k. Then, there are the numerous half marathons, 10 mi., 15k, 10k, 4 mi., 5k, cycling races, and Duathlons. Looking back on it now, I feel like I lite the candle at both ends with a blow torch. Things seemed to have burned quickly.

Someone one said – "Getting to the top is hard work. Staying on-top means working even harder".

More than once I have looked toward the mountain top and salivated over it. Not that I wanted to be on top again, but that I craved the hard work necessary to get there. Maybe in another post, I'll explain why – someday.


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The Cool Down Runner


Saturday, December 3, 2011

Huntersville ½ marathon – recap – Dec 3 2011

Disappointing is probably a little too strong of a word to describe my effort today but that is how I pretty much feel. Going into the race I was expecting something in the 1:24 range but the effort just never materialized.

The start was delayed several times and most everyone was bouncing around trying to stay warm. When we were finally sent on our way, my breathing was unusually labored. The first mile was in 6:20. Mike, Chris, Megan, and Caleb were taking it out pretty slow so I was settled in behind them.

During the 2nd mile, we were doing a little more pulling and the breathing pushed to being heavy. Mile 3 and the first part of mile 4 were not bad. My legs were feeling decent.

Then, the hills started.

My hamstring wasn't having any of it and I was starting to slow. By mile 5, I realized things were not going to go well. Mile 6 and Mile 7 passed as we headed up Stumptown Rd.

After the neighborhood loop, I felt the first wheel come off. By 10 miles, both wheels were gone and I was riding on the rims. The last 3 miles were as much a mental torture as a physical one.

Before this race, I had decided on switching up my racing flats. After getting a bad blister on my right foot at OBX, I thought going in a different direction would be the right course of action.

Hindsight, it was probably wasn't. My right foot got another blister just in a different spot from the ones I earned at OBX. Thank goodness for small favors.

Crossing the last major intersection, I was all but done and the body was more than ready to be finished.

Navigating between the buildings seemed to take forever before the finish line finally came into sight. Time for racing was over and the time for walking was about to begin.

Mike came up to ask if I was alright and my response - "yeah, just having a bad day".

Disney Marathon is a little more than 5 weeks from now and normally, my training would usually look pretty promising.

However, since this hamstring injury occurred, my racing has gotten progressively worse. Today's race pounded the final nail in my coffin. The best thing to do is stop racing and go back just running aerobic miles until my hamstring and body "come right". That is except for Disney. 100+ dollar entry fee is pretty hard to throw down the drain so I will go, run, and take the unpleasantness that comes with it.

2011 is nearly over and I am ready to put it behind me. Come on 2012 and show me something promising; I am ready for it.



Sharing one thought at a time,


The Cool Down Runner

Friday, December 2, 2011

A 4000 mile year in sight

When I started this year, I set a goal for myself to run at least 4000 miles. That means, I would need to average at least 10 miles every day for 365 days in a row. For the better part of this year, my goal seemed achievable and maybe even easily reachable. Then my hamstring reared its ugly head like a troll requiring payment before letting me pass.

More than once the last three months, I had all but given up hopes of reaching it.

Now, with the arrival of colder temperatures and the day light hours growing ever shorter, my goal of reaching 4000 miles seems so close that I can almost taste it. Hopefully, it will not be like sticking my tongue to a pole in sub zero weather. Ouch, even the thought hurts while bouncing around my brain.

Tonight, I ran the totals for November and came up with 300 miles. This leaves me just 171 miles short.

Unless I get run over by a reindeer or maybe Santa's sleigh, I got an excellent change of hitting my mark.

Reaching 4000 miles would be quite an accomplishment for me. Most years, I will run somewhere in the neighborhood of 3500 to 3800 miles which in and of its self is a lot of miles, but 3800 just doesn't have the same ring to it as 4000.

Without really understanding why, running 4000+ miles in a year just seems to put one in a different category.

Exactly what that category is well, I am not sure.

By the way, the sound you might be hearing are the bells starting to warm up. Ring, ring, ring, 4, 0, 0, 0.


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The Cool Down Runner

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Putting on a race

Who knew that putting on a race could be so complex and so expense? Well, to honest, I kind of expected it to be expensive and of course nothing in this world is easy any more.

But as I sat through our meeting this evening, I was just taken back by cost of every little item that it takes to put on a race and the number of people needing to be involved in the race planning and organization just to get it on the calendar. Let alone the number of people needed on race day.

The logistics in and of its self are mind boggling from the number of water bottles for the race to the number of porta potties needed - from the mapping out of the course to the breakdown of awards. And these are some of the easier discussion points. There is the entry fee to charge and flyers that need to be approved and so on and so on. The list of tasks needing to be completed is only slightly shorter than Santa's list of kids getting presents this year.

Is there wonder why most race directors have white hair or if they have any hair at all?

Yet, races continue to pop up like dandelions in my yard. Almost every weekend there is a new race on the calendar.

And apparently there is no shortage of individuals either who don't know any better or are just to plain stubborn to realize (I count myself a little of both) the sheer volume of work that goes into making a race successful.

A while back, I wrote about saying "thanks" in one of my post. Today, I say "thanks" to the race directors of the world for all you do that gives me a safe race to run and marvelous experience.

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The Cool Down Runner

The Endless Season

I was flipping through on my Running Times magazine and found myself reading about running the endless season. Baseball, they play what – 163 games – seems like it takes forever. Basketball, they play something like 83 games not counting the playoffs. Pro basketball goes on forever as well. And then there is NASCAR which has about 60 days off between the end of one season and the start of another season.

However, none of them can touch running i.e. road racing. The road race season pretty is available to all of us 365 days per year from Jan 1 through Dec 31. We can usually find a race just about every Saturday morning and most Sunday mornings. Depending on the time of year, a race will spring up on most any week day.

Being one that races way too often and trains just as much, I have to admit that I need some down time from time to time.

The hard part is finding it. There are so many good races around and even more coming. I just read about Peter putting on this moonlight run that starts at the Badin Drive-In and runs to the top of Morrow Mt. The race starts at like 10:45 PM at night. Now who would not want to put something unique like this race on their racing schedule?

Oh well, I guess I am doomed to my running desires and will be running and racing for the rest of my life.

Now, if I can find a little downtime and get this hamstring working a little better, I would enjoy it even more.


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The Cool Down Runner




Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Oatmeal and Almond Butter

After my nutritional clinic a few weeks ago, I made a mental note try on the suggestion of mixing oatmeal with Almond butter. When I first heard it described, my first thought was "yuck". How could one mix these two foods? Maybe I am just too old school in how I view foods or maybe I am just too different.

But I am also someone who is willing to step outside my tiny little box and try something.

Yesterday morning, I mixed up a nice bowl of oatmeal and then mixed in the a little almond butter. Then, after giving the oat meal and almond butter a chance to intermix, I started to chow down.

I am not going to rush out to either invest in an oatmeal factory or start growing my own almonds, but the taste was better than I expected. Maybe even a lot better than expected and I will probably try it again.


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Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Foot Locker

Saturday morning started early so we had time to circle back and catch the Foot Locker races at McAlpine. I cut my run short at 10 miles and then only caught the open and freshmen races before heading out. But it was cool to see so many people out racing on a great Saturday morning just days after Thanksgiving. I wish I could have stayed to see Alana's race. From the Facebook post, she appeared to have a solid race that earned a trip to the San Diego next month. Gotta love winning a trip to the warm weather of southern California in the winter time and getting a race thrown in for free. Good Luck to her as she prepares for it.

Also I have to give a "shout out" to see Steve. He raced NY marathon, Thunder Road Half marathon, Turkey Trot 8, and the Foot Locker 5 and ran them all with real good times. Staying healthy is worth just about anything.

Lastly but not the least, I have to give Jamaar a shout out. He was doing his long run Saturday morning, but thought enough of his fellow runners to bring presents. He handed out Peppermint Stick Gu courtesy of Run For Your Life. Thanks Jamaar for the "Gu" and bringing the holiday spirit out to our runs.




Thursday, November 24, 2011

Turkey Trot 8k Recap

Over the last few years, I have run the Annual Charlotte Turkey Trot 8k race. Each time the lungs have burned and the legs shook and refused to run any faster. This morning was entirely different. I was just getting warmed up during the first mile. I cruised easily through the 2nd and 3rd miles as if I was the only person on the course. The 4th mile felt as if I had a couple extra gears that I could use if I wanted them. The 5th mile was up hill and into the sun but I was all alone as I stroll smoothly and easily across the finish line.

That's what it is like when you are run the course an hour and half before the actual race.

Today was not about running but rather watching others run.

First I saw Butch who is working toward getting another Running Journal Title as well as running a marathon in Charlottesville, VA next week. Saw Rocky both before and after his race. He mentioned that his hamstring was giving him trouble as well. He ran just under 26 minutes. I wish my hamstring gave me that kind of pain.

Saw Billy Shue. No race for him. He was riding Chris' mt. bike along the course. He also mentioned that he and Carolyn are now an official "item". Couldn't have happened to a better guy. I think his smile touched to each ear.

Saw the Staley family and the Seavers. Saw Chris, Glen, Michelle, Thomas, Matt, Alex, Pete, Jerry C., Steve S., Chuck, and Aaron. Saw Dan. He said look for Val. She is dressed in pink. Just for the record Dan, there were 8000 people racing and at least 3000 were wearing pink. Sorry, I never say her.

Sorry and a bunch of other people.

As much as I like racing sometimes it is nice to watch others race.



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The Cool Down Runner

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Hamstring Curls

Setting here typing on my key board, I am trying to come up with a good analogy for my current hamstring experience. In all honesty, there doesn't seem to be a single parity that looks just right to me. So when nothing fits, sometimes the best approach is to just move forward without one.

With any injury the muscle is weakened and my hamstring injury is no exception to this rule.

What I didn't know was how much the injury had weakened it.

That is, not until last Friday when I went by the Y.

I crawled on to the hamstring weight machine lying in the prone position and tried doing some very simple hamstring curls. I put 30 pounds on it and first attempted it with my left leg. No issues, I was able to do it. Then, I tried it with my right leg. I couldn't budge the weights. I then lowered the weight to 20 pounds and still no luck. Finally I removed all of the weight from it and still nothing.

Certainly I was feeling a little dejected at this point. I am right handed and thus right leg should be the dominate leg. Under normal conditions, my right leg would have been able to curl more weight than my left leg.

Clearly, this little exercise illustrated how much strength that I had lost and why my recovery/running has been such a struggle. This little test also showed me how much work that I needed to do.

As I laid there wallowing in my own despair, I resolved to spend at least 2 days per week in the weight room working my hamstrings.

Strength is not given but is earned.

Now, my road is clear in front of me. Hamstring curls will be part of my weekly routine going forward for the foreseeable future.



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Monday, November 21, 2011

Megan’s Clinic @ Fleet Feet

After running nearly 12 miles of running with Megan and Jeff over the Huntersville ½ marathon course, I wondered over to the Fleet Feet store to listen in my Megan's Clinic.

Megan is a registered dietician and was giving the group of runners gathered plenty of insights to help them with their training, pre, and post race diets. In fact, I learned a few things myself like – how much water I should be drinking and how often, some things about making better food choices, what to eat with my oatmeal, and oh, yeah, what state doesn't have a McDonalds in the capital – New Hampshire – right?

All kidding aside, the clinic was very informative both in the information that Megan provided and in the questions that were asked during the clinic.

Adding further evidence that a good diet is very important, one of Megan's clients was at the meeting – Jack. Jack stood up and gave a personal account of the 50 or so pounds that he had lost since Megan has been helping him with his diet.

That's the type of evidence that is hard to ignore.

Make me want to eat better. I fall of the wagon way to frequently.



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15 miles + 2 x 3k Turkey Trot

I thought I would share a little of how my morning went today.

The day started off pretty good since I had it off from work. Next up, Megan and I headed out on the McAlpine Greenway for 15 miles at 7:30 pace. I started to get a little tired toward the end especially when she dropped the pace under 7 minutes for the last mile. My hamstring and hip just didn't have the get up and go. One of these days, the healing will be complete and once again, my legs will feel like digging at the dirt beneath my feet.

After we parted, I headed over to CDS to run with my daughters. The school was doing a 3k race for each grade so after chasing one lady around for 15 miles, I moved over to chasing 2 other young ladies for two 3k races.

Becca's race was first up and when they said go, she launched off the line like a rocket sprinting down the road. Maybe a quarter mile later, I finally caught up to her. My legs struggled to resume running after my earlier efforts.

Becca's is only 9 years old and doesn't run much beyond what they do in her class. But she stayed strong. She stopped at both water stops along the course and was the first girl in her class to finish.

And just as I was finishing Becca's race, Natalie comes sprinting up to me and tells me that her class is about to start their 3k race. No rest for the tired, I jog over to the start again. Natalie and I are standing there as they give us a few last minute instructions.

I say to Natalie – let's take it out slow. To my surprise, she listens to me. Possibly it is the first time ever. The rest of her class takes off sprinting, but by ½ mile, we are passing her class mates in droves.

Natalie's runs the entire away and doesn't take any water. She finishes as the 2nd girl in her class – just behind the first place girl.

The school was lucky today because this morning was absolutely perfect for them to have this run. Most likely, they will have this for years to come.

For those that don't know my daughters don't really run. So a few weeks ago, they told me about their schools Turkey Trot race and asked if I was come down and run with them. There were a few butterflies in my stomach when they told. I have been waiting years to hear them ask me this question.

I try to be different from most parents. I don't push my daughters to do sports. If they ask me about trying a sport, I tell them that I will support their efforts. Running really has never been one of the sports that they have wanted try. They seen me run well and win races, but they have also seen me limping around and icing down various parts of my legs. Definitely, I am not a poster child for a running endorsement.

That's partly the reason that I was so ecstatic about running with them today.

Running may never be the sport they enjoy doing but as long as they are active and healthy, I will be happy with whatever they have a passion to do.



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The Cool Down Runner

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Charger Tune-up

After heading off to Santa Scramble last year, I was back helping Ben Hovis with his Charger Tune-up at the PDS track yesterday afternoon. The high school boys and girls headed for Foot Locker next Saturday morning were going through one of their final few workouts.

Ben had organized the runners into 4 boys' heats and 2 girls' heat. He did his best to coordinate the runners so they would be running with others of comparable times.

There were some boys that went under 10 minutes for 2 miles and a couple of girls that went under 11 minutes for two miles.

One of the most interesting aspects to me is watching them run. When I am running other people, I don't notice their gait quite as much. This is probably because I only see them from one perspective – behind.

But while watching these kids make their way around the PDS track, I marveled at how easy they make running a 9:50 mile to 10:50 mile look.

As for the support crew, Mike, Andrea, Megan, and I helped with the timing and tracking runners during each of the events. We left Ben free to start the races and help provide prerace and inrace commentary.

Other than the initial hiccup during the first heat with my using of the Ben's Mac, the timing went smoothly.

I shot a little footage that I have posted here. Forgive the fact that I was a little slow flipping over my camera.
Watch live video from Cool Down Runner on



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CRC – 11-20-11 Board Meeting

Okay, I have to admit this was the first CRC board meeting that I have attended. Thus, I was a little unsure of what to expect.

A few people wondered in after a short group run and Aaron was soon calling the meeting to order. He went over a bunch of stuff including who had been elected to the board for the '12 year.

The top four vote getters will serve a 2 year term while the remaining 4 members will serve a 1 year term. My understanding is that the '12 board will also choose 2 additional members from the at large group to complete a 10 member panel for the board.

The '12 board members are listed below:

  • 2 year terms
    • Ben Hovis
    • Caitlin Chrisman
    • Billy Shue
    • Aaron Linz


  • 1 year term
    • Bill Shires
    • Mike Beigay
    • Emily Barrett
    • Jamaar Valentine


Other topics discussed include budget, a timing clock, due amounts, RRCA membership, and USA T&F membership.

Billy Shue gave a breakdown from his treasurer perspective. Aaron then went over a few more things and opened the form for questions.

He adjourned the meeting and everyone then milled around for a short time discussing a multitude of topics.

There are roughly 600 members by my last count in the club and according to Aaron about 47 percent of them voted in our election. That's a higher percentage than the number of people voting for president in our last election. I will not take this tangent any further beyond saying people must think more about who is running our club than who is running our country.

On a personal note, I appreciate everyone that voted for me and I want to maintain an open door policy. If there is something that you would like to see in the club, let me. I make sure it gets discussed in our board meetings. On the hand, if there is something does not seem right; let me know that as well. All topics are fair game.

Our club will only be a good as the members that are involved in it so it is up to each and every one of us to voice our opinion.


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The Cool Down Runner


Friday, November 18, 2011

North Meck Cyclo Cross Series

Having a rest week this week has left me board as can be so Tuesday I decided to ride up to North Meck Park and check out the North Meck Cyclo-Cross Series.

The series takes place each Tuesday night in November except for the week of Thanksgiving.  
This past Tuesday was shorts and t-shirt weather so around 6pm I drove up to the park. The races were already in full swing.

Rob Morgan, one the bike mechanics from TrySports who frequently rides in these events, filled me in on the details.

Basically, they have a 1 mile long course mapped out with huddles where each cyclist needs to dismount and run over. Otherwise, they ride their bikes.

The course navigates around the baseball fields at the park.

With the lights turned on under the night sky, the settings for the race make it pretty cool to watch.

They have multiple races and welcome riders beginning to advance.

Makes me want to dust off my mountain bike and try it in two weeks.

For more information on the series check-out the following link: North Meck Cyclo-Cross Series.

The races are timed and awards are given.

They even provide food as you can see by the below picture.

Video From the North Meck Cyclo-Cross by the Cool Down RunnerIf you are in the area, the next event is slated for the 29th of November.

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The Cool Down Runner

The aroma from waffles fills the air and makes you hungry just watching.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Thanks for running our marathon

Having only run a small number of marathons in comparison to other runners, my perspective is not as broad as most. However, during my most recent OBX marathon the people along the course were saying something that I hadn't heard while running any other marathons.

Typically, people along the course yell encouragement to the runners as they pass them by. Often, the phrases might be "Good Job", "Looking Good", "Almost there", "Finish Strong", "finish is just ahead" to list a few.

The people along the OBX course were shouting something different. They yelled "thanks for running our marathon". How different is that?

When people use a word that I am not familiar or say something unique, my ears will suddenly close around what they are saying. Words used outside the norm are used for a specific reason and attention should be drawn to them. These people definitely captured my attention.

In this case, those five little words can make all the difference in one's day.

Far too often the word "thanks" comes flowing out of our mouths with no explanation. Making it almost to a point where most people expect it and all the while ignoring it.

But when one adds an explanation to the end of the word "thanks", there is clearly a difference. The explanation provides the person on the receiving end with a clear and specific reason for your appreciation. Intern, they will get that "warm glow" that comes knowing that someone is really acknowledging their efforts.

To the people along the OBX course last Sunday morning, I want to say "thanks for making me feel at home in your community." even if it was for the day.

For those of you reading my post today instead of giving the short "thanks" to someone, try giving the long "thanks …….." to someone and see how much better that it makes them feel.



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The Cool Down Runner



Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Unofficial Aid during a marathon

This morning I wanted to share something that happened during my running of the OBX marathon. At the time, I was more frustrated by it than I am now, because I was in the moment and being in the moment tends to heighten one's level of concerns.

I was just a few miles into OBX when I joined into this group – running with 3 other guys. Nothing really new about this, runners will often form packs and work together during race. As I was running with them, I took note that they must all be running together for reason since they each were wearing the same type of singlet. It was easy to assume they were together as part of some greater plan.

We chatted briefly – exchanging names and goals for the race.

Then, we settled in for long haul of working mile after mile.

Maybe 4 or 5 miles into the race, this guy rides up on this bike and starts handing them fluids and gels. A few miles later he appears again and then during the trail section he appears giving them aid during the race. At this point, I had dropped back so I cannot say if he continued this trend throughout the race. And, I will not make any assumptions either way.

Whether they sensed my concern at this rather overt effort of support is unknown. They did offer to share their drinks with me.

Similar to the group mentality when doing something contrary to one's expected belief system, viewing the action from an individual's perspective the action is viewed negatively, but if everyone shares in the wrong, the behavior somehow seems acceptable.

For my part, I respectfully declined their offers. Drinking some else's fluids could have a detrimental effect on one's race performance.

But really to me, I have principles that I followed. I want to live and fall by my own accord.

If this type of aid had been offer to every runner in the race, then I would have gladly accepted it. But in this case, the aid was being provided for only a few and my conscience would not allow me participate.

Being clear about this is important. Taking gels, fluids, etc not provided by the race itself is acceptable but in my opinion under only one condition. I have to have them with me from the start. When the gun goes off, what I have is what have for the race.

For example, during my marathon I often take Power Gels, but I will only take the Gels that I am carrying or if it is offered by the race support crews.

After the race, I talked to those guys a couple of times. They seemed like nice guys. But I didn't mention the support along the course. Sometimes, the best approach is move past it.



Sharing one thought at a time,


The Cool Down Runner

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

OBX Marathon 11/13/2011 Recap

Standing on the edge of a very long journey and looking forward at the road ahead, the thoughts of this being a bad idea were still prominent in the back of my mind. But the gun sounded and we were off. From that point I focused on doing what I could and then taking what was given to me. That's how my OBX marathon experience unfolded.

But let's take a step back and look at the entire weekend. Mike, Megan, and I headed out to OBX on Friday. Many hours of driving passed quickly as the conversation jumped from topic to topic to topic. Of my 4 trips to the Outer Banks, this was by far the easiest. Mike took on the chore of designated driver and Megan kept the conversation moving. While I had the good fortune of having the hours pass listening. But every once in a while interject some bit of banter or what I felt was an interesting bit if information. Either way, they humored me all the while.

We arrived in the afternoon and swung by the house to change. Before heading out for our run, we dropped by the Expo to pick up our packets. Lots of interesting stuff to see at the Expo, we didn't stay long. Time for a run, we headed for the trail section of the marathon course. 6 miles on the dirt felt good to the feet but to me felt hard on the body.

Grocery store and then we headed back to the house for dinner and a running movie – The Long Run.

Saturday we headed over to the activities occurring as part of the OBX weekend – 5k, 8k, and kid's fun run. We followed this with another swing by the Expo. I picked up some gloves – just in case Sunday morning was a little too cold for my hands.

Then, it was back to the house and another running movie – The Runner – starring David Horton and his PCT (Pacific Coast Trail) speed run of the trail. Dinner followed and then another running movie Hood to Coast Relay.

Watching this movie drew us into the experiences of several teams that were running the relay from Mt. Hood to the beach of the Pacific Ocean. From this movie a quote would come that changed how our Mike and I now view the world. The quote goes something like this – "You only regret what you don't do". And, this single quote would have a major impact on the rest of our weekend.

Mike who had been battling a cold all week spent most of Saturday on the couch sleeping. He had pretty much convinced himself into not running OBX.

Come race morning, both Megan and I encouraged Mike to take his stuff to the start. Maybe it was the previous day's extra sleep or the atmosphere of the impending start, but Mike and I were talking about him running and I said something about the quote from the Hood to the Coast Movie – "You only regret what you don't do". He admitted the same quote had been bugging him as well. By the time that I returned to the car from a rest room break, (Longer than expected – I caught up with Pete Kaplin for a quick conversaton – he was making a run at the 55-59 age group record) Mike was pinning on his number. He would run with Megan and just see what happens.

With the echo of the gun passing in the distance, the 3 of us along with 1400+ runners began our adventure by foot to Manteo.

The opening 3 miles have a slight uphill grade to it. There was a pack of 3 guys and I quickly dropped in with them. We hit the first mile in 6:26 and I could feel the twining of my hamstring and waited patiently for it to seize up at any time.

After two more miles, we topped out and were running on the flatter sections of the course. I tried to relax and stay comfortable. The miles were not difficult but the 6:08 to 6:15 pace was tapping into my reserves.

We made our way through the greenway section and got a great view of the intracoastal water way. Then we back in the neighborhoods and soon we were running by the Wright Brothers Monument.

The miles were growing heavy on my legs. We passed 10 miles and in the dirt road and trail sections of the course. By this time, we had caught up with the 3rd place runner and were running as 5 guys strong. Miles 11 and 12 passed in 6:32s but they were starting to open a gap on me. Any other marathon, I would have tried to find the energy to stay with them. However, my hamstring kept telling to hold what you got.

A couple of more guys came up and passed me just before the half way point. Then, we were back out on the roads. This is the point where OBX gets out on the open highway. Long stretches of road where one can see for miles. Also this is the point where the runners are no longer shielded from the winds by the houses. They have no choice but to take the winds head on. On this day, the wind was blowing about 8 to 12 mile per hour. The force wasn't enough to stand you up, but the drag was felt throughout my body.

I had been alone since the half way point. My miles had dropped to 6:45 pace. I kept thinking – just hold what you have. Don't push, but just don't slow down.

I negotiated the final two neighborhood loops at 6:45 pace and 20 miles soon passed. The road really starts to open up here. We begin a 3 ½ mile trek over the intracoastal water way and over the 4% grade bridge.

The wind really starts to wear on the runners including me at this point. Plus, not having done much hard running since August, I felt like I was at the mercy of the running gods. My pace pushed over 7 minutes. With no houses to shield us, the wind chills the body and causes the legs to tighten. Things are helped along as the lactic acid makes the muscles feel stiff and the feeling of fatigued grows.

My trek up 4% grade was struggle. Then, these two women on bike came up saying first woman – please move the right. I didn't have the heart to look back – more than anything; I just wanted to be finished.

But I did wonder who it was. Potentially, the lead woman could have been Heather. She works out of the TrySports store at Wilmington, NC. I thought about asking one of the women the bike what the lead woman's number was. I knew Megan's Bib number, but I wasn't really expecting it to be Megan. Her goal was about 2:59.

Then the pass occurred. Glancing to the left, I see that it is Megan. She was looking strong and tells me to come on. I believe I mumble something unintelligentable back to her. She soon moves away and I am left alone with my thoughts of just getting the finish. Off the bridge, I feel another runner starting to pass me. Mike is having a decent day for a sick guy after all.

He passes me and I try to stay with him, but legs just will not respond.

Turning off 158 for Manteo, the wind is finally at our backs for the first time in 25 miles. More instinct than mental strength guides me through this mile. Mike is a short distance head of me and I see he is running the wide side of the road. For the life of me, I cannot figure out why.

Closing through the final mile, I realize that I am actually closing a little on Mike. We pass 26 miles and hurt has already passed the point of screaming. Mike is just ahead but I decide effort is not worth the additional pain.

Mike crosses the finish line 7 seconds in front of me. He immediately goes for the wheel chair and they wheel him to the Medic tent. I follow grabbing some water and getting my medal. Pain of running has ended but the body was still struggling.

Going back to the quote " you regret what you don't do". Mike didn't regret running the race. He finished 2nd in the Open USA T&F NC marathon Championship and I finished 3rd in the Open and won the USA T&F Master's marathon championship in 2:57:04 and 13 overall. Do I regret not chasing him down – regardless of the pain – may be a little, but I was also very happy for him and have great respect for his effort and his determination.

We both battled our inner demons and finished only 7 seconds apart. Megan scored the open women's title and USA T&F NC Women's Marathon Championship title. By the way, Pete just missed the 55-59 NC age group record but did grab 3rd place in the USA – T&F NC Master category. Good Job Pete.

After the awards ceremony, we made our way back to the house.

Megan and Mike headed over to the ocean for a little ice bath. I tried to talk myself out of it. Soaking in the salty ocean water, let me be first to say if you don't already know this, the Atlantic Ocean water is cold – very cold – 50 degrees cold. I was the last one out and my feet and legs were absolutely numb.

From there, we cleaned up and started our drive back to Charlotte which was filled with music, talk about the race, and a ton of other stuff – making the ride feel far shorter than it actually was.

When all's said and done, the day was a good one for the Charlotte Crew.

Setting here now and getting a chance to reflect upon the race, my right hamstring really never did melted down. Many times, it felt like it was close. A few times, I could feel my left hamstring wanted to cramp. The other factor that was brought home to me is my right hamstring is still not extending properly. My right foot got a blister just behind the mid foot which is a strange place to get one. My suspicions – the cause is a change in landing patters due to my overly tight right hamstring.

In reality the missed two months of good training was really what made me suffer to the end. That and I clearly went out too hard for the conditioning of my body.

Don't get me wrong. I was happy that I finished and didn't break down into a walk. That was my worst fear going into the race.

At the end of the day, I finished OBX standing on my own two feet and was able to walk away. That's a good effort any day of the week.



Sharing one thought at a time,

The Cool Down Runner



Thursday, November 10, 2011

Packing for Race Weekend

Packing early must be a woman thing. Megan asked me earlier in the week if I had started packing for OBX. When I take my daughters to Disney, they start packing at least 2 weeks beforehand. Pack, unpack, and repack again. Check, recheck, and double check.

Me, I follow the typical male tradition and pack at the very last minute. I don't know why; I guess it is just something in my DNA. Anything else I don't have; I buy. LOL.

But whether you pack early or wait until the last minute, making sure that you have everything that you need is very important. Forget your singlet or shorts and you are in a little trouble. Forget your racing shoes and you are deep hot water. There is no getting around it; you are in trouble.

Thus, I thought for this post, I would create my OBX packing list (at least the main items) so here goes:

  • Brooks T7 Racing racings
  • TrySports Tri Top
  • 2XU Compression shorts
  • 2XU Compression calf sleeves
  • 5 Gels for race day
  • 2XU Quad Sleeves
  • TrySports Jacket
  • Brooks running tights
  • Brooks NightLite Racing socks
  • Advil
  • Lubricant
  • Bio Freeze
  • Gloves
  • Kinesio Tape
  • 2 extra pairs of trainers for Friday and Saturday's runs
  • Extra Running Clothes and Socks for Friday and Saturday's Runs
  • Phone, computer and power cords
  • Tooth brush, etc.
  • Nunn
  • Extra Bag for race morning
  • Running Movies for the trip down
  • The Stick
  • Wipes

As you can see the list gets pretty long, pretty quickly so I had better get started packing now.



Sharing one thought at a time,


The Cool Down Runner