Monday, January 31, 2011

30 seconds – hard up, hard down

After my run Saturday I was little disappointed in my climbing, but I was also disappointed my ability to descend as well. With climbing, we all have an excuse, the heart and legs will only allow us to go only so fast. However, descending is entirely different. This has to do more with how hard you are willing to push.

For whatever the reason, I just wasn't able to legs and body work as well as I wanted.

So this morning, I was back out pounding the hills again. This time I was going 12 x 30 seconds up the hill with a 30 second recovery and then hard down the hill for another 30 seconds.

I picked this little stretch of road which use to part of highway US-21 until they change the road pattern for 485. Now, it is just 300 meters of straight road with a slight incline. There is no traffic and is absolutely perfect for running repeats.


Thoughts from the Cool Down Runner


Sunday, January 30, 2011

Idiot Run Recap

Yesterday morning, my day started before 3 am as I prepared to head for another Idiot Run in Albemarle. Between packing and stretching, I barely made it out the door by 4 am. The drive over was warm and uneventful.

I was already to run until I opened the car to step out and felt the cold temperatures. A quick are dart up to sign-in for the idiot run. With so many running, Peter had to have everyone sign a release form. However, I am not really sure that it would stand up in court. After all, this is not called an Idiot Run for nothing.

Anyway, I signed-in and headed back to my car to change. Along the way, I saw Mike B. and then saw Mike K. Who let me know that Aaron also made it.

Around 5:30 everyone started to gather and Peter took a little video, some pictures, and then gave us some last minute instructions. It was good to see some veteran Idiots again.

Something new this year, we had a police escort to the Albemarle city limits. This was kind of neat and the police were really great. They stopped to the traffic for us to pass through the intersections.

The run out was brisk and the Morrow Mt. was just as tough as I remembered. However, the view from the top was as spectacular as ever. A beautiful red dawn gave us visibility for miles.

Peter's organization skills were on top as always. There were 4 water stops along the course along with 2 Gu stops.

Aaron, Mike B. and I were the first ones back in 2:17. I finished out the entire 20 miles in 2:22.

As for how my run went, I was a little disappointed in my effort. I thought I should have climbed better than I did and I really struggled running the downhills. Also I got several inquiries as to I keep looking at my Garmin. No, I wasn't checking the mileage; I was checking my heart rate. I wanted to keep my heart rate in a certain range. In doing so, I was limited by how hard I could push the uphill miles.

Don't get me wrong, the run overall was good and I enjoyed the opportunity to run with everyone.

And when I compared the times back to some of my other Idiot Runs, I was several minutes faster. All in all, it was a good run.



Thoughts from the Cool Down Runner

Friday, January 28, 2011

King of the Idiots

I am officially nominating Peter as "King" of the Idiots and I mean this in the most sincere way. Most people never realize how much work goes into getting a group of people together whether this is for a paid road race like the Beach Blast or for a free run like the Idiot Run.

Peter's leadership along with his drive and determine for putting on successful events is what keeps people coming back and bring in lots of new people to Albemarle.

Nothing could exemplify this more than the Peter's Idiot Run tomorrow. The run starts at 5:30 in the morning from the "Y" and has over 60 new people coming out to do it. What is most interesting is the most of those people are coming from outside Albemarle. Their only reward is they get a "T-Shirt" and are then consider a part of the Idiot Club. For the rest, there is a just a nice long group run.

Truly, this is a sign of something special and is lead by someone special.

  • See you are the "Y" tomorrow morning.

Thoughts from the Cool Down Runner

25% off on Winter Gear

It is always nice to save a little money when you need to buy some new running clothes. Rob just emailed me that they were doing a 3 day – 25% off on their winter gear.

With a few more months this spring of cold weather and then later on this year, I am going to try and swing to the store this weekend and see if I can add to my running wardrobe.


Cool Down Runner

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

90 second up – 90 seconds down

90 second up and then 90 seconds down, doesn't it sound like loads of fun? That is exactly what I thought about ½ through it yesterday. My quads didn't like it going up the hill and weren't much happier on the way down.

I just kept thinking "quads" you don't like this now, you are certainly not going to be happy about mile 22 of Boston.

This was my second hill repeat session in little less than a week. For it, I chose a different hill and different time table. 90 second up followed by a 30 second recovery before heading back down the hill at about ½ marathon pace for 90 seconds. This was followed by another 30 more seconds of recovery before repeating the entire process again – 6 times.

Setting here now with two weary and sore quads doesn't seem like the ideal way to train for a marathon, but hopefully, it will pay dividends on race day. At this point, there is no way of knowing but in the end time will tell.


Thoughts from the Cool Down Runner

Monday, January 24, 2011

Great Harvest Bread Company – mmmm – very good

When a company does a lot to support running in the Charlotte community, I always try to reciprocate. Normally, I don't announce my actions but this time, I thought that I would.

This weekend, I ventured down to the Great Harvest Bread Company. They have been part of the Charlotte Running scene for a number of years and after most of the bigger area races in Charlotte, they are more than willing to provide a hungry runner with a slice of bread. I know because I have taken advantage of their kindness are more than one occasion.

This weekend, I visited their Kings Court location and picked up loaf of Honey Whole Wheat. I was already nibbling on a slice by the time that I was getting back in my car. I have always been a big bread eater and there is nothing like fresh made bread.

I tried to interest my daughters in a slice but they weren't much interested. Oh well, sometimes it is okay if your kids on don't like something. It just means there is more for me. Now, if they just didn't like chocolate ice cream the same way, I would be all set.


Breading winning thoughts from the Cool Down Runner

Payback – the Army 10 miler

I have been meaning to write about this for months but for one reason or another, I have just been putting it off. This morning, I decided that it was finally the time or I would probably never do it.

Last year Peter B and I signed up for the Army 10 miler but then logistics got in the way and neither of us could go. For most races this would be the end of the story. However, the Army 10 miler has this resell message board on their site. Runners that for whatever reason cannot make the 10 miler can resell their entry to another person.

After Peter and I agreed that neither of us were going, I went on the message board and posted that I wanted to sell my entry.

Like within minutes, I got a slew of email responses. The hardest part of picking one was reading the heartfelt stories and then trying to decide. But after much deliberation, I chose an email from Caitlin Slaughter. I will not go into all of the details from our email exchanges, but I will share one particular part.

Having never run the Army 10 miler, I was just coming to understand how hard it was to enter and how much people were will to do for an entry.

I guess I could have asked for anything, but it wouldn't have felt right. And, it is just not my style to take advantage of someone else.

So what could I ask for? I pondered it for a while and came up with this idea. I asked Caitlin to take the entry fee money that she would expect to send to me and donate it to the Wounded Warrior Program and send me a picture of her and her husband at the finish of the 10 miler. Caitlin true to her word sent me the photo adjacent to this post.

To this day, I think it may well be the best money that I ever spent to enter a road race.


Thoughts from the Cool Down Runner

Saturday, January 22, 2011

A long run loves company

Earlier this week my thoughts drifted to today's long run. Somehow, I knew running a solo was possible but just undesirable. So I kicked off a few emails and did a couple of post on the Charlotte Running Club facebook site. At first just got one response. Then, I got another.

This morning I showed up and found more than a few new faces. This was along with many familiar faces. The only thought that came to mind was awesome.

As the hosting leader I took up the challenge for keeping things interesting. With a few people arriving later and a few running shorter distances, we couldn't venture too far from home base. While not easy, I was able to come up 3 different 6 mile loops.

For non-runners 2 and ½ hours might seem like forever, but when there is a group running together, time passes quicker than one can imagine.

I would trade solo long run for a group long run any day.

So guys, I am much appreciative of the group support. Today's run seemed to pass in no time at all.


Thoughts from the Cool Down Runner



First Uphill and then downhill

On my refrigerator I put a big sticky note saying "Boston or bust". Personally, I am hoping for a big day at Boston and not a bust. Funny, it seems silly to worry about the work it takes to do something and then later worry if you have done enough or maybe worse too much.

Thus, it is the perfect reason why every runner should have a training plan whether they create it their self or they have a coach create one for them.

Over the last few weeks, I have been introducing tempo runs slowly back into my training schedule. Thursday, it was time to take it a step further and add in a hill workout.

Now, most of us are familiar with hill workouts. We run up the hill hard as we can and then recover on the way down. Well, my hill workouts this spring have a slight twist to them.

I run up the hill hard as usual. Then, I recover for 30 seconds at the top before running hard on the way down. Once at the bottom I recovered for another 30 seconds before I began the process again. Today, I did this 8 times.

Why run down the hill hard. After all, this is harder on the legs and body. Well, this is all true. But let me take you back a few years when I ran the "Run the Red" marathon. This course has a predominately downhill grade to it but maybe not as bad as Boston but still close.

There I ran the first half really hard and by the time I reached 22 miles, I felt like my legs were going to break. For the week afterward, it was all that I could do just to walk around.

During that particular training cycle, I thought I had built up my quads adequately to take the pounding. True enough, I had the strength to power through the hills, but the lack of eccentric work between my quads and hamstring near shutdown my legs. Limping away, I made a mental note to add some downhill work into my training schedule any time that I ran a course with some significant downhill grade to it – case in point Boston.

So come race time in April, I planned to be a better prepared.


Thoughts from the Cool Down Runner

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

When 2 runs are better than 1

With every training cycle I make subtle changes to my training plan. I do this because I once read the following quote "if you do something the same way every time, why should you ever expect a different result". I may have paraphrase a little but you get the idea.

If you use the same training plan every time, how do you ever expect to improve?

Case in point, this training cycle I decided to introduce a 2-a-day runs but with a twist.

Now 2-a-day runs are not new for me. I have often run 2-a-day workouts and for that matter race more than once in a day. But training wise, typically, my 2-a-day runs consist of a heavy stressor during the morning and short easy run in the evening to help with the recovery.

For my Boston Training plan, I decided to go with to moderately short runs of 6 miles in the morning and 6 miles in the evening. Why 6 miles? Well, 6 seemed like a nice round number between 4 miles and 10 miles. Also I do a lot of 7 and 8 mile runs so I didn't want to make it the same as those runs.

I started doing these workouts at the beginning of January and so far I have to say that I like it.

And truth be told, I actually look forward to each Wednesday.

Generally, these runs take between 40 and 48 minutes to complete. Therefore, they don't last long enough that I feel tired as with my longer Tuesday runs or sore from my tempo or hill workouts. By and large, I am left feeling ready to start the day and with some extra energy.

And because it is only 6 miles, it is fairly easy to squeeze in a 2nd run during the afternoon and I am still hitting my mileage for the day.

Just a thought, but you might want to look are your own training plans. Breaking something up into 2 runs might just be the ticket to give both the body and the mind that much needed mid week break.


Thoughts from the Cool Down Runner

7 mile progressive run

The weeks seem to be flying and before I even realize it Boston will be here. But for the time being, I was out pounding the roads yesterday and use the word "pounding" for a reason. With each step, my feet felt like they were being banged into the asphalt.

I don't really know the reason for this feeling, but it was just one of those runs where I could hear the loud slap of my shoes against the pavement.

Of course how it really felt aside, the progressive run started off a little slower than I wanted.

After an easy 2 mile warm up, I started to push the pace. Almost, immediately, I hit multiple icy patches. I must have looked pretty dumb running along waving my hands and arms as I tried to maintain my balance.

Luckily, the icy section only was on a short section of the course. The rest was icy free which meant after a 6:50 opening mile, I could get down to business. Miles 2-5 were run all in the 6:11 to 6:15 range. Miles 6 and 7 were run at 6:06 and 6:03.

Mile 7 left me feeling pretty good because the last ½ mile started an uphill climb with the last 200 meters at about 7% grade. The legs were grinding to maintain the pace and just about the time I hit the top of the hill, I clicked over to 7 miles and was finished.

From there, it was a nice easy 7:30 cool down mile back to my house. Total time for the workout was 69 minutes including warm up and cool down for a grand total of 10 miles.

Now for the year, I have put in 3 nice progressive runs. Each has been solid and I felt good walking away from each one.

Thus, I am cautiously optimistic about my training and hope to continue these strong efforts throughout my Boston training.

On a side, I would have posted my Garmin Data but from some unknown reason the Garmin Connect is down. Their face book page says they are working on it. I have not seen when it will be back on line.


Thoughts from the Cool Down Runner.

Friday, January 14, 2011

6 mi. Tempo Run

Yesterday, the snow and ice finally melted enough that I could get out for a hard run. That is something other than just trying to stay up right.

This marathon cycle I have been approaching my training with a less is more ideology. In some of my past, marathon training session, I felt I worked so hard early on that I was exhausted by marathon time. This is probably not so much physically but more so mentally.

This is why I am starting my training cycle off with tempo runs. Tempo runs are the easiest mentally that I do. To use a "Kelly quote" – it is just one of those workouts where I can press play and go. To make the transition even easier, I use the progressive style tempo rather than the regular tempos which are started with a heavy foot on the gas. With these workouts, I am easing into it for the first couple of miles and then picking up the pace a little each mile. This allows me to finish the run feeling strong.

So now back to my workout, that's pretty much how yesterday went. Miles 1 and 2 of the tempo felt sluggish. I attribute much of this to my slow running the last few days and the fact that it was 30 degrees outside. Miles 3 through 6 felt a lot better and I was running as much as 15 seconds faster during those miles.

My heart rate is a little higher than I am really comfortable with but never did I feel like I was crossing the red line.

Overall, I give this work a B grade.

Here's Garmin Connect Copy of my workout.



Thoughts from the Cool Down Runner

Monday, January 10, 2011

Snow Covered Runner

Running in the snow is good for you. This morning, I had a difficult choice. I could have pulled out my tread mill and did 10 flat miles at room temperature. But instead, I opted for something that is good for the soul and the mind. I headed out the door and treaded through 10 miles of wind, snow and ice. Was it unsafe? Yeah, it was a little. Could I have gotten hurt? Yeah, it was a possibility.

However, life is too short to live it in the sidelines. And today's snow provided a great training opportunity. During those last 6 miles of Boston when everyone else's legs are crying for them will stop, my legs will have the strength of this snow run to see them through.

Along the same lines, memories are where you make them. Running on a tread mill creates a memory that will fade over time, but running through the snow creates a memory that will persist for my entire life.



Thoughts from the Snow Covered Runner

Thursday, January 6, 2011

First day back

After running easy for the last couple of month, it was now time to start turning up the screws a little tight. I am talking major effort, but this work out was something to get me rolling again. I felt tight and stiff throughout the run. And, I was happy that it took just over two loops to complete the workout.

The work out started with a 3 mile warm up. I am definitely getting older because it is taking me longer and longer before my heart rate starts to settle down. I suspect one day, I will need to run a full marathon just to get it to the point where I feel ready to run.

Then, it was off for 2 loops of a 2.5 course. The course was a rolling hill course with some long down hills which were followed by short steep up hills.

My breathing and heart rate remained high throughout the entire effort but I pretty much expected it.

The final 2 miles were used as a cool down back to my house. I could probably have used a little cool down but it was better to keep the entire workout to 10 miles.





Thoughts from the Cool Down Runner

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Being seen is always important

It can never be said enough that when running during the dark hours of the day, it is of the utmost importance to be seen. In recent years, manufacturers of running apparel have taken this to heart. All most everything that we runners buy these days from gloves, hats, clothes and even vest come with reflective materials made into them.

This brings me to my current topic – reflective clothing.

While browsing the Thunder Road Marathon Expo, I came across one vender selling Reflective running apparel. This is not unusual to see this type of stuff at an expo but what caught my attention was their unusual designs. Enough so that I bought both a long sleeve running shirt and hat.

The company is called RUseenN Reflective Apparel.

To date, I have worn my shirt and hat multiple times as those of you that I run with can attest. Both pieces stand up well to washing and regular wearing.

The long sleeve short cost $35.00 and the hat cost $12.00.

They also sell a number of other items including: arm band, belt/sashes, gloves, tape, safety lights, and vest. The shirts come in both a short and long sleeve option. Most items come in two basic colors: lime green and blaze orange. They do vary the color options from lime green and orange color when it comes to hats and vest.

While I didn't find any issues with either the shirt or the hat, there was personal preference that I would like. I would prefer the cuffs on long sleeve shirt to taper down tight against the wrist. The primary reason is the colder temperatures that come with running during the winter and at night. Loose sleeves let in the cold air.

The other change that I would like to see is having something other than the angel wings or the skeleton on the shirts. While I realize the significance of both, neither design is my favorite. Personally, I would like to see a big smiley face J with the words "runner" on top and "thanks" on the bottom. This would be my way of letting driver know that I am there and that I appreciate the extra space they are providing as they pass by me.

Just one of other note, some might consider the cost a bit pricey but at the end of the day can you really put a cost on your life. Running is dangerous enough. Running at night is doubly dangerous.

So be "Seen"


Thoughts from the Cool Down Runner

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Writing Positive Goals for ‘11

Like every good runner should do, I am taking the time to write down my personal goals for '11. As I was going down the list, I wrote down my goal for Boston which as many of you already know will be to run a sub 2:40 marathon time. But then, I stopped and looked it.

Writing a sub 2:40 didn't really make sense because I was in fact writing my goal as a negative. What I was actually saying was that I didn't want to run 2:40 or slower. Clearly, this is not the right way to think about it.

Goals should never be written such that you don't want to do something; they should always be structured to accentuate the positive.

So I struck through my sub 2:40 goal and wrote it as follows

"Bill wants to complete the '11 Boston Marathon with a time in the 2:30s" This is a much better way to write my goal even if I end up squeaking in at 2:39:xx.


Thoughts from the Cool Down Runner