Saturday, April 30, 2011

University City Duathlon – Recap 4.30.11

Duathlon is a tough "beast" of an event. Before you slap me for saying this I have never tried a Triathlon so it maybe next step up on the "beast" scale.

The University City Duathlon was composed of three parts: a 5k run, 20k bike ride, and 3k.

Like I said in a previous post I didn't have any real goals for this race. I just wanted to get one under my belt to shake off a year's worth of rust since my last Duathlon.

Yesterday evening I went by the Bike Line store to pick up my race pack. This morning the only thing left to do was get my chip.

They were just opening the transition area as I rolled into the parking lot this morning. There were a few guys that I knew that cross over between sports– also I got a few congratulations on my Boston effort but overall, I went unnoticed.

Checked the tires and racked my bike before heading out for a 3 mile warm up. This was a good opportunity to explore the course and learn exactly where the turnaround points would be.

Around 7:50 AM they pulled everyone together for a few prerace instructions. Interesting this being such a small event, they spent a great deal of time on drafting. Even more interesting, they enforced these rules because next to the finish results, they posted a list of the athletes incurring a time penalty. I guess my luck held because I didn't see 113 listed on the penalty list.

The race started with a swift downhill start. My first mile was 5:28 and I moved slowing into 2nd place. The 2nd mile was part road and part gravel path on the Greenway. My split for this mile was a manageable 5:48. The 3rd was all on the gravel part of the greenway and include a steep uphill section.

My Garmin had already told me that I had run 3 miles and I hadn't even started the hill yet. The hill was tough and as I cresting the top, I realized that I would be doing this same hill again after the bike leg. Sometimes, it just takes a while for certain things to become clear.

The guy leading was just gone. Before I entered the transition area he was already headed out on his bike. That was the last time that I saw him.

My cycling has been a struggle with Boston training so I just don't the same cycling legs that I had last year. The sweat was pouring off my head and I was churning up the first hill in the business park.

I don't know why but the thought crossed my mind at that point "Why do I do this stuff?". This was one of those moments where something just doesn't sound like a good idea anymore. My legs were having a rough transition from the run to the bike and it took nearly 4 miles before my heart settled down and I felt like I was riding well.

I made it through the first of two laps and no one had caught me yet. On the second trip up the hill in the Business Park, I could see a number of riders struggling to climb it. I was passing them but I also took the time to shout out encouragement as well. We were all feeling the pain of the climb.

Just after I turned on to Harris Blvd., I got passed by another rider. He was making a surge and I was attempting to hold him close.

He was clearly a better rider and was gapping me pretty well heading up the hill on Mallard Creek. We made the turn on Prosperity Church Rd. I was trying to search ahead to measure the distance between us, but I didn't see him.

On the downhill back into the park, I was trying to dig deep and hold it close for the run. I didn't know him so I had no idea how fast he could do the last run leg. I turned on the final uphill before the transition area. I started looking for him so I could get a final gauge of the distance heading into the run. All the way into the transition, I kept looking for him, but no sign. I only did a quick scan of the transition area and was headed out for the run. I could not believe that he had gapped me by this much in the last couple of miles.

All the way down to the first turn of the run, I was still looking for him. I made the turn and headed back. 200 meters up the trail here he came. I could only assume at this point he made a wrong turn or had trouble in the transition area.

With only about a kilometer or so left to run, I focused on staying smooth and relaxed. I climbed the last hill but with no one near, I ran it a lot easier than I might have otherwise.

Topping the hill, the course has a nice downhill slope to the finish. With no one insight behind me, it was just cruise control to the finish.

The lead guy had laid waste to all of us. He had bested us by 8 minutes. My cumulative time was an hour and seven minutes to finish 2nd overall. I hung out in the finish area long enough to see the next several competitors arrived. When the guy who passed me on the bike finished, I asked him what happen. He had laid down his bike in one of the corners. I never even saw him. He had cuts on his arms, rear, and legs and possibly his back. I gave him all the credit in the world; he finished out the bike and run. I am sure he will be quite sore come tomorrow.

The run course is pretty good and with only one major hill it could be fast. I suspect it needs to be measured again at least based on my Garmin. The bike course is tough with two long hills. However, traffic was never an issue as they had it coned off fairly well with police at the major intersections.

The only part of the race that may need to be tweaked is the return to the transition area during the bike leg. I was catching a lot of riders during the 2nd lap and it was tough to navigate across for the right turn to the transition area.

They gave awards for the top 3 overall, top 3 masters, and top 3 age groups in 5 year categories. I won a set of ProDesign Areo bars and a plaque.

The Power Bar guys were out and with lot of new flavors of Power Bars and Gels. The Lemon and Tangerine packs I picked up to try. There was plenty of water and fruit after the race. The Great Harvest Bread guys were giving away bread but it was one of the funkier types. I tried a piece but I didn't much care for it.

Overall, these event organizers did a good job for a first time event. They had a good turn out and I everyone was generally happy with everything from the course to food to the awards.

I hope they have this one calendar for next year.



Thoughts from the Cool Down Runner

Friday, April 29, 2011

University City Duathlon – Run course Recon

Early this morning I took the opportunity to recon the run course for both the 5k and 3k runs. The 5k starts with a nice downhill then rolls through a couple of small hills before turning on the gravel greenway. Once on the greenway, we stay on the gravel section the entire way. That is until we head back to the transition are which is perhaps a quarter mile or so.

There is only one significant hill and this hill comes just before the 3 mile point. The hill is steep and has been washed out from all of the recent rains. Definitely, it is a good place to watch your footing.

The 3k course covers a portion of the 5k with the exception that it eliminates the rolling hills. But again, the organizers bring the runners up the steep hill just before heading to the finish.

Other than this one ugly hill, I like the rest of the run course. Both in the 5k and 3k you have an opportunity to see the runners coming back at you so you can judge how far they are in front of you.

For me, I don't really have any major goals for this race. I just want to go out have fun and enjoy getting in a good hard effort.

If you are racing this race tomorrow, I wish you the best of luck.


Thoughts from the Cool Down Runner

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

A little video from the Boston Marathon 5k

I had some time and put together this little video from the Boston Marathon 5k staring Ben.

Just something to share with fellow runners.

Great Accommodations

I was cleaning off my SD card and I noticed some photos that I hadn't shared from Boston. There wasn't anything great, but I did want to share the accommodations that Mike provided for us. This was the tent that we hung out before heading to the start. Mike went all out to make sure his friends were comfortable. I highly recommend traveling with Mike next year if he goes. I suspect he maybe planning to have a full travel camper at the start.


Pictures from the Cool Down Runner

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

University Duathlon – just a little recon

With Boston in the rear view mirror, I am moving toward some more summer time activities. Meaning, I will be spending more time on my bike and running – well just not so much.

First off, I am heading out to the University area on Saturday morning for a 5k, 20k, 3k Duathlon. This will be my first Duathlon of the year and an opportunity shake off some rust.

Yesterday, I was on the web site tracking down the bike course map. Then after work, I headed out to the University Y for a little recon on the course.

The organizers have laid out roughly a 5+ mile loop that goes through the business park, up Harris Blvd, runs along Mallard Creek between Harris Blvd. and Prosperity Church Rd.

The Y isn't the starting point for the race but it does make for a great base of operations.

I rode a couple of loops around the course just to get the general feel of the course. Traffic is definitely a pain on Mallard Creek. The business park was nice and decent for riding. However, the pavement has aged so a rider can expect to have a lot vibrations coming up through the bike.

I don't think the bike loop is very speedy. There are couple kick your "but" hills. One hill is just before you leave the business park and the second hill is coming up to the first red light on Mallard Creek. I certainly hope the organizers have the lanes coned off Saturday morning along the Harris Blvd section. There is a right turning lane between the exit from the park and where you turn for the Mallard Creed Road. From what I saw yesterday evening, people are treating this turning lane more like an express lane. And the last thing any rider wants is to pop out in front of a car traveling at 50 mph. The consequences would be ugly.

Most of the other turns are not quite as bad because the traffic has an opportunity to see a rider coming. Turning back into the business park is a little tight but at least you are not heading into a traffic lane. You can probably expect to have the entire turning radius.

There is one speed bump on the course. While it slows the cars going through the park, it doesn't present any real issues while riding over it.

Heading to and from the transition area, I found heading out that there is a fast downhill roll out which is followed by a hard right hand turn. Coming back is a different matter all together. Again, you have a right hand turn, but it is followed by a steep uphill. I'll definitely want to gear back before even entering the turn.

Later this week, I will be out looking at the run course so stay tuned for my thoughts about it.


Thoughts from the Cool Down Runner

Possible Return trip to Boston

Normally after a marathon I don't set down and start planning the trip back to the same marathon for the next year, but with Boston, we are talking about an entirely different type of race. The logistics are just so much more mind boggling from the travel to the hotel to the race morning. But these are just the big ticket items. Then, there are just a lot little details to work out and this doesn't even include the fact that I would still have to be accepted into the race. Also let's not leave out the months of staying healthy and the miles of running necessary to do it.

Makes me wonder how those runners with 5, 10, 20 or more Boston Marathons did it.


Thoughts from the Cool Down Runner

Monday, April 25, 2011

Brooks T7 Racing Flat

There is a wide selection of racing flats on the market and I choose to go with the Brooks T7 for my Boston Marathon.

When I am choosing a racing flat, I focus on two requirements: weight and flexibility.

How heavy of a shoe should I use? During all of my training runs, I wear a much heavier shoe – usually above 8 oz and most of the time around 12 oz. This is not by accident. Rather, it is something that I do on purpose. Wearing heavier shoes puts an additional load on the muscles. Then, swapping down to a lightweight racing flat makes it easier on the muscles and improves my running form. This alone can justify runner selecting to use a racing flat over a training shoe for a race.

The second requirement involves how the shoe is design. In a long race such as a marathon, the last thing I need or want is shoe that is stiff across the mid-sole of the shoe. This is why I always select a shoe that is extremely flexible. The greater the flexibility in the shoe, the less energy I feel is needed as the foot rolls through each contact with the pavement.

Before Boston, I spent a lot time looking at different racing flats. Of all the racing flats, I like Brooks T7 the best.

Before Boston, the only change that I made to these shoes was to substitute out the laces. I always use the Yanks so that untied shoe laces never become an issue during the race for me.

Wearing the shoes before hand? I have heard different opinion on this topic. Sometimes people say wear them beforehand. While others say they wear them just on race day.

For me, it all depends on the shoes. For the Brooks Green Silence, I probably had 3 or 4 runs in them before my marathon. For the Brooks T7, they never touched the earth until I put them on the night before Boston.

As with all information that I share on my blog please take what I have said in with a grain of salt. No two runners are exactly the same so there might be something that works one and doesn't work for another runner.


Thoughts from the Cool Down Runner



Sunday, April 24, 2011

Honey Roasted Nut PowerBar

I tried the Honey Roasted Nut PowerBar this morning. The consistency is similar to the Milk Chocolate Brownie but without the Chocolate flavor. Overall, it was okay and in a pinch, I would eat it but given some other options, I would choose something else. I hope I don't hurt anyone's feelings here. Someone that likes the Honey Roasted Nut flavor would probably jump all over this one.


Thoughts from the Cool Down Runner


Friday, April 22, 2011

Milk Chocolate Brownie PowerBar

Powerbar was one of the sponsors of the Boston Marathon and they had the products everywhere from the Expo to the post race food bags.

Being a fan of the PowerBar products, I took advantage of the situation and picked up some new flavors that I had not previously tried.

Please bear with me in the coming days because I will be trying each one out.

First up is the Milk Chocolate Brownie PowerBar. The bar is very similar to the more standard Chocolate version but the consistency is different. To some extent, I would say it has more a bit more chunky – tiny chunks inside a thin bar, but still with the overriding Chocolate Flavor. If I was looking for something different from time to time, I might jump over to this one.


Thoughts from the Cool Down Runner


Thursday, April 21, 2011

Post Race Lessons Learned

Just about every business that does project work will from time to time do a lessons learned analysis. Basically, a lessons learned is a look back at the just completed project. From this review a list of positive and negative points are gathered. Essentially, this process provides managers and workers with a list of talking points that they thought they did well and a list of points where they could improve upon.

While this concept is mostly found in the business world, the implications to the world of running can be just as significant.

From my just completed Boston Marathon, I have already generated a list of points both from the training period and from the race that I will use to build out my next training cycle. I highly recommend that people write it down rather than just think about it. Writing it down on paper or in a word document makes the positive and negative points concrete. Also ability to return to and review this information provides a positive influence on it. Too many times, we dwell in the world of negative thoughts.

These lessons let us know that we do indeed do some things well. This can be important step to help us as runner move past difficult training periods and toward reaching our goals.

Ben and I were discussing this very concept on Monday night. I had brought up the subject that while it was fresh in our minds, we should write down our lessons learned from the just completed race. As our conversation continued, Ben shared that he has his athletes write down the times when they had a good workout or a good race and then read over these accomplishments. Nothing but positive reinforcement can come from following this type of approach.

I suggest after your next training cycle take the time to do a lessons learn or like Ben does with the athletes write down the positives from your training and racing. Running definitely helps running but doing the right type running by being mentally prepared will always make you faster.


-btw I didn't share my lessons learned here. Nathan finished right in front of me and Mike right behind me at Boston. If I keep giving away all my secrets, I will never be able to keep up to them. LOL



Thoughts from the Cool Down Runner

Carolina Cycling Time Trial Recap 4.20.11

Maybe this was not one of my wisest decisions ever, but a decision to do this event was made no less.

Last night I headed out to Charlotte Motor Speedway for the first event of the Carolina Cycling Time Trials. I had no idea what I was going to feel like and I wasn't even sure if my legs were even going to be up for doing it. After all it was barely 48 hours from my run to the finish at the Boston Marathon.

There were a few guys there that know me and congratulated me on my Boston effort, but otherwise, I was just flying under the radar and doing something away from running.

I was scheduled to go off around 7:30.

My preparation started around 6:30 by airing up my tires and checking out my equipment. Then, I was off some up miles. After about 6 miles, I headed over to the start where I saw Scott. We chatted for few minutes. He always gives me a hard time because I have never done a triathlon. But hey, I am not a great swimmer and let's be honest; to improve my swimming I would have to actually swim more and I just not sure where I would find the time. Anyway, it was good to see Scott again. He is a nice guy.

Scott rolled out in front of me so he had about a 1 minute head start.

Then, my turn came. I was setting in the blocks and I guess out of habit; I looked down to see what gear I had selected. Ugh, it was easiest gear possible. I wasn't sure if this was a sign or not.

The timer beeped and I was off.

The first mile wasn't bad. I worked through shifting into smaller gears. The 2nd mile was little slower. The 2nd mile covers most of the front stretch which is notorious for providing a nice little headwind for the riders. The first time that I hit this stretch, I started searching for the gear that allowed me to feel the best without dropping too much speed.

Miles 3-8 helped finish out my warm up and got my system rolling. Honestly, my legs started out feeling stiff but once I got rolling on the bike, neither my hamstrings nor my quads hurt like they did when I was running. Somewhere around the 3 or 4 miles, I caught Scott and shouted out some encouragement as I passed him.

Closing out the final 2 miles "well" became my goal and I felt good all the way to the finish line. My last mile was my fastest which is what I would expect. I was pushing hard on the pedals.

Overall, I did much better than I expected. I was really just looking to clock some miles in the TT position in preparation for some upcoming Duathlons that I want to do. The fact that I was only a minute off my PR for 10 miles was an added bonus.

I finished off the evening with a few more miles in the infield before putting my bike away. It was getting late so I just wrapped things up and headed home.

It was a nice feeling driving because I was happy with the time and the effort.


Breakdown from my TT last night


H:M:S Time

Miles Distance

MPH Avg. Speed

MPH Avg. Moving Speed

MPH Max Speed





































































Thoughts of the Cool Down Runner

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Boston Marathon Race Recap 4.18.11

On this day, I ran in the steps of a runner that covered the marathon distance faster than any other person in history. This is how I wanted to start this post. Thinking about what a great day it was for running the Boston Marathon. Few people in the world can say they ran the same race where a "World Best" was run. Making memories, that's the best part of life.

I will try to run down everything that happened. I am bound to leave something out even thou; this is one of my longest recaps ever.

Mike was in charge of our logistics and had us staying in a hotel west of Boston the night before the race. Due to some mix up, the hotel gave us 4 rooms instead of 2 so everyone had a room.

Race morning, Ben was able to drop us off in downtown Hopkinton. We walked Megan down to the elite drop off location and then headed over to the Athletes' Village. The Athletes' Village is basically a huge field with a couple open large tents.

Volunteers were handing out snacks, water, and Gatorade. Power Bar who was supplying Gels for the race was handing out Power Bars to everyone. We arrived just a few minutes after 7 AM and the field already looked like it was filling up.

Mike had the foresight to buy a $30.00 Wal-mart tent the night before so Nathan and I pitched in to set it up. With the gusty wind cutting across the fields, the tent was a life saver. We hung out in the tent until about 9 am. Mike had thoughts of breaking down the tent but decided just to give it up to anyone else that might want to use it. So as we walked away, Mike said something about "here's a free tent if anyone wants to use it". I didn't see anyone wanting to use it, but I am sure by the time that we were out of sight someone probably did jump into it. With the wind blowing, the tent definitely made difference. On a side note, as we were walking out, I looked around the Village, but I didn't see any other tents similar to ours, but I suspect next year, you will most likely see a few tents. After all, someone has to be the trend setting.

If you are wondering, most people just brought tarps to lie on and set in tight groups to try and stay warm. A few people were trying to sleep but most everyone was talking and enjoying the atmosphere in village. They had music and an announcer that kept everyone abreast of the time and what you needed to be doing. He helped direct runners on where to go if they need something such as bath rooms, food, and/or water.

The even had a giant jumbotron where you text in supportive messages.

As we were leaving the Athletes' Village, we circled around to locate our baggage check bus. Each bus handled a certain range of runners based on your bib number. All we had to do was hand our bag in through the window again based on your bib number.

With this out of the way, it was time to head for the start with one last minute bath room break. The porta-johns were organized around the outside of the parking lot and along the inside so it was a little confusing as to which way the lines were running. Luckily, I found what I thought was a short line and made it through fairly quickly. A least I made it faster than Mike, but not as fast as Nathan. At the time I didn't think much about it but maybe it was just a forshadowing of things to come.

Next it was time to head toward the corrals. People were all ready filling them up. Mike, Nathan, and I were in the first corral right behind the elite runners. This was great spot because we got to see all of the elite runners come out from the church and head to the starting line. Ryan Hall was bouncing along "high –fiving" people as he headed for the starting line.

I pulled off the last of my stay warm gear and tossed it to a volunteer that was collecting donated clothes. Mike, Nathan, and I wished each other luck and got ready for the start. I took one last deep breathe. I always do this as the last step for the challenge that I am about to face.

Once the gun went off, it took us only a few seconds maybe 5 seconds to reach the actual starting line. People were streaming by me on both sides. I went slowly from walking to jogging to running. The start wasn't nearly as bad I expected. I guess because we started closer to the front. The first mile was a little crowded. I couldn't exactly run the tangents as I would like. By mile 2, things were starting to thin out enough that I can pick and choose my running lanes.

After the start, I lost track of Mike and Nathan. I looked around but couldn't see either of them.

I did spot Tim Meigs and Ulf Andre running a few meters ahead. Ulf, I had met at OBX. Tim, I hadn't officially met until we joined up for a few miles.

My race plan going into Boston was to run the 1st half in about 1:18 and change, but as the mile clicked off I realized that I was running a little quicker. Unfortunately or fortunately, depending on your point of view I went with the cards as they were dealt to me.

The miles were going by and I wasn't breathing hard and didn't really feel like I was pushing too hard. I was watching the city signs pass by. First, it was Ashland, then Framingham, and then Natick. I knew Wellesley was next and "Wellesley Girls". This was one of the portions of the course that I was most looking forward to experiencing. There is a slight hill leading up to Wellesley and I could hear them screaming well before I even reached them. Runners started surging by me on both side. I guess the screaming brought out a little adrenalin rush but hey, I still had just over 13 miles to run. It was definitely everything that I expected and more.

Boston has loads of clocks along the course. There are clocks at the mile marks and some at the kilometers marks. There are also some at significant marks like 5k, 10k, 15k, 20k, 25k etc. Thus, it is really important to recognize what the time on the clock means relative to the distance. I remember reading the 30k time and it didn't really mean anything to me until I then saw the 20 mile mark a short time later.

Boston also had more than ample number of water stops. Typically, every water stop has two sets of tables one on the right and one on the left. Gatorade was the first drink available and water was 2nd. What was funny is that depending on the course tangent one table or the other seemed to be the more heavily used. I mean, I wasn't going to run across to the other side of the road for water if it was available right along the path that I was running. But I don't want to suggest they do it differently, because I understand why it is organized this way. There were 27,000 runners behind me and they would essentially fill the entire road.

After passing through Wellesley, I realized I had only felt the wind a few times. I wasn't getting a head wind, but more of a cross wind when we passed through the cities. What I did notice that I was getting hot and starting to really sweat. Perspiration was running down into my eyes and it was starting burn. I did my best wipe it out, but once it starts, it is almost impossible to stop.

At this point, I was still clicking off decent miles but the legs were not feeling like they could take a big push. Once I entered the first of the Newton hills, I just tried to settle in and churn up each hill. The first went by okay. Tim Meigs had passed me and his passing comment was "this is where the race starts". Thinking back now, I think it was where my race ended. LOL. I churned through the 2nd and 3rd hills but it was taking its toll on my legs. The 4th didn't break me, but it was my slowest mile during the Newton hill section.

At 17 miles, Power Gels were given being given out. This was the first time that I had run a race where Power Gels were used. I probably should have taken one, but I decided to take my last chocolate Power Gel that I had been carrying from the start.

I crossed the 21st mile and saw the blow-up wall saying that I had crested "Heart Break Hill".

I knew from here the reminder of the course was on a downhill gradient. And while I had lost some time, I thought I could still break 2:40 if I just run a decent last 5 miles.

So once I topped over Heart Break Hill, I started to push the pace again. This is where my left hamstring balked for the first time. I could feel it knotting up. I slowed down and tried to lean forward so my quads could do more of the work.

The knotting let up but I found if I ran anything faster than 6:30 to 6:40 the knotting returned. What choice did I have? I focused on running 6:30 miles. By 24 miles I could see the Citgo sign easily but I knew my sub 2:40 was now out the window. I had lost too much time.

At mile 25, Nathan came by me not saying a word, but I recognized him and shouted out encouragement. I have no idea if he heard me. He didn't react if he did, but he looked to be having a great day and I wanted to add my support to his efforts.

The people all along the course were fantastic, but from about 24 miles onward the crowds were simply amazing. I found myself perhaps the only time ever in a race starting to soak up the ambience of finish. Mile 26 was my slowest of the entire race 7:17 but I wasn't feeling any pain during those moments. I listened to the roar from the cheers and screams as I headed down Boylston Street for the first time.

Crossing the finish line, I felt like I finally done something significant in my running life. I had completed the Boston Marathon in 2:42:39. I had finished 272 out some 27 thousand runners and finished 10th in my age group.

I slowed to a walk and just enjoyed that moment. I was totally spent. I left every ounce of energy along the miles between Hopkinton and Boston.

Guys all around me were giving either hand slaps and telling each other "good jobs". I walked over to congratulate Nathan on this run and starting looking around for Mike. Mike appeared about a minute or so later. Both Mike and Nathan would set new PRs. Both of them deserved it, because they had worked really hard and I was happy for them.

We walked slowly through the finish line area collecting water, food, more Power Bars, our Boston Finisher Medals, space blankets and finally our checked bags.

To some extent the entire experience still seems surreal. But now, I can say that I have run Boston and I have my own experience to share.

The top picture is of me about 30k into race. Basically, it is on the 3rd of the 4 Newton Hills. Jim Rhoades and his friends took these type of pictures along the marathon course. Jim then makes them available to everyone with just one request. He asked that we give him credit for doing it as I have done here. Jim, if you are reading my post. I appreciate the picture.


Thoughts from the Cool Down Runner veteran of the Boston Marathon


Thorlo Experia Socks – Design change suggested and no more color Orange

I dropped a note to the guys at Thorlo about their Experia Socks earlier today. I have now run in them enough that I feel like I can offer a greater opinion on them.

First, let me say that I really like the Experia Socks and have used them in my races. But I am now coming to the conclusion that Experia socks could stand a small modification to its design.

In shorter races, the Experia sock works fine but in longer races like the marathon where the sock can be on my foot ever several hours, the foot pad tends to scoot forward. This leaves the mid sole of my foot landing on the thinnest part of the material.

Last year, I ran 3 marathons and had 3 set of blisters right in the same sport. At the time, I blamed it on the shoes –thinking that I was not doing something right. But for Boston, I switched up and went with a different shoe but the same socks. The result was 2 blisters in the same location as last year.

Before I started using the Experia, I used the standard Crew Cut Thorlo Running sock and didn't have blisters, but I changed over to the Experia sock because I liked the way the Experia was made. I don't need the extra that the Crew Cut Running sock has across the top of the foot. I need the extra underneath my foot.

Hopefully, the Thorlo guys are listening and take my design suggestion into consideration.

The 2nd issue that I opened with the Thorlo guys is about the color. I talked to the rep at the Boston Expo and he said that Thorlo is discontinuing the Orange color. Actually, this is the only color that I ever bought.

I don't know why they are discontinuing the Orange color, but it cannot be because people are not buying them. They were sold out of the Orange color at the Expo. And, not just at the Thorlo booth but at the other booths with Thorlo apparel as well. I know because I asked.


Thoughts from the Cool Down Runner


Boston Tan lines

Most of you probably have probably heard of a farmers' tan or truckers' tan. Maybe you have even seen a cyclist with tan lines. You know what I am describing. The line where the sun tan ends and the white skin starts.

But did you know there is such a thing as the Boston tan lines. Mike had warned me of this after his first Boston marathon.

Basically, a Boston Tan line is where the right side of your body gets a good extra dose of ultraviolet light from the extended exposure to the sun on marathon day.

There are two reasons for this to occur. First, it is early in the year and most people have not spent much time in the sun. The second reason is the Boston course follows an easterly direction so only the right side of your body really gets exposed.

Right now, I am sporting a nice red tan line down the right of my head and across my shoulder. Does it hurt? Well, it does a little. At least I was only out there 2:42:39 seconds.


Thoughts from the ½ tanned Cool Down Runner



Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Boston Marathon Experience

For years, I have often been asked if I had run The Boston Marathon and up until yesterday I have always said "no". This typically was followed with whomever sharing their experience of why Boston is so great.

I mean I knew about Boston and knew that it was a big race. It was big enough to be considered a marathon major.

But until this weekend, I really didn't have a full appreciation for it. I am talking about the kind of appreciation that can only come by experiencing it firsthand.

From the time, I stepped off to the plane until I boarded the plane this morning, I saw what the Boston Marathon means to the runners but more so to the people of Boston and the surrounding communities.

The Boston Marathon is a race deep in history and tradition and the people of Boston totally embrace and display the feeling that comes such a rich legacy.

In the days leading up to Boston the entire city was a "buzz" with excitement. Boston running jackets from previous years can be seen everywhere and the marathon is the only topic of conversation that anyone seems to be discussing.

Every vender in the running world seemed to have a booth at the huge Expo and people are literally saying "Excuse me" just to pass the person next to them.

There are signs everywhere greeting the runners. I even saw public street signs saying "no stopping with a picture of a runner". I have never seen such signs in another city.

From the moment I stepped out of the car on Monday morning in Hopkinton, I felt like I was walking on special ground. Legends of races past and the runners that created those legends ran on these same roads. I ran through the same towns and most likely heard the voices of the people that had been cheering at these Boston marathons for years and maybe even their entire life time.

The masses of runners spilling into the Athletes Village covered every piece of available real estate and filled the air with a sense of excitement.

Watching the elite runners come out one would have thought that they were rock stars.

From the gun runners were rocketing down the hill.

The screams of the girls at Wellesley were ever-bit as good as the stories and as loud to the point of being deafening.

The Newton hills lived up to their reputation. I saw more than one runner reduced to walking up heart break hill.

The Citgo sign was huge in distance and welcome sign to tired legs.

The people by Boston College and Boston University were simply unreal. Their cheers and screams implored runners to pull out the last bit of energy in their bodies as those closed in on the finish line.

The left turn on Boylston Street told us that we were almost done and the people crowded both sides of the street several rows deep to yell their loudest so that even with tired and aching bodies there would be no way that anyone of us runners' would have an excuse slow down or quit.

Crossing under the Boston finish line banner was a special moment that I will never forget. I was no longer just a Boston Qualifier but now I was a veteran of "The Boston Marathon".

People were congratulating the runners as they moved through the finish area for water, food, space blankets, our checked baggage, and of course the Boston Marathon Medal. But the "thanks" didn't stop there. Mike, Nathan, and I were walking back to our place and all along the way – total strangers would congratulate us.

This just adds to the proof that Boston is a fantastic race to do and the citizens of Boston and the communities all along course are what has made Boston special and will continue to make Boston special for years to come.

If you have not run a Boston Marathon, I highly recommend you add it as a goal. And when you achieve your goal, you too will be a "Boston Marathon" veteran.


Thoughts from the Cool Down Runner



Sunday, April 17, 2011

Boston “So far”

Being this is the first time that I have traveled to Boston on something other than business, I have been looking forward to it for a few weeks now. Honestly, I have been quietly looking forward to it since I signed up last year.

Now, I am in Boston so I thought I would share what we have done "so far".

My trip started with an uneventful, but a pouring rain drive to the air port. I did get lucking in that the rain paused just long enough for me to get from my car to the shuttle bus without getting soaked. Definitely, this was one positive starting out this trip.

Airport check-in and security were not bad. The line was longer checking-in than it was for the security scan.

From there it was down concourse "C" to gate 9. Just a short time later Mike came walking up to me. We chatted and basically were checking out the other people preparing to board the plane. Between the running shoes and Boston Jackets, I would say the majority of the people traveling were runners. My guess is that this may have been one of the healthiest groups of passengers flying out of Charlotte Saturday morning.

Once in Logon Airport, we caught the shuttle to the Boston Mass Transit. Here was one of the less promising signs of the trip. The first train that pulls up to take us in to Boston breaks down on the spot. Everyone has to exit the train. They proceed to back the train out of the terminal and we all have to wait in the very windy platform. Let me tell you, the wind was really blowing.

But it didn't take long for the next train to come along. Soon we were headed down the blue line into Boston. There we switched trains to the green line for the rest of our ride. All told, we probably were on the two trains for about 45 minutes. The cost was 2 bucks which is cheaper than the 40 bucks Nathan spent on his ride into Boston. Albeit, his ride was actually quicker than ours so I guess there is some cost vs. speed benefit analysis.

The "flat" Mike found was great. We met the owner before dividing up the place.

Next up we headed out the door for 6 miles. I give Mike some credit here. He was my tour guide on this trip so I was just enjoying taking in the sights.

After a shower and change of clothes it was time to head off to the Bib pickup and Expo.

I have been through a number of Bib pickups for both large and small races. I have to say for the number of people entered in the mile through the marathon, the Bib pickup process was one of the easiest that I have completed.

After picking up our Bibs, we were funneled into the "buy your Boston gear section of the Expo". This was perfectly fine with me. For years, I have seen people wearing those Boston Jackets around and I was now on a mission to obtain one of my own. They had a huge selection. I ended up getting the traditional Boston jacket. Although I was disappointed to learn that Boston Logos were screen printed instead of embroidery as in previous years. Later, I learned from Mike that this was actually a mistake coming from the manufacturer. Personally, I would have sent them back if I had been Adidas.

Once I finished standing in line to purchase my jacket and some Boston Pins for my daughters, I headed into the rest of the Expo.

Wow, the Expo is huge. Every major shoe maker in the market was represented. Although, I think the Brooks guys were the tops because they created a theme for their exhibit. My "take" they used a Army triage type of theme were they funneled runners in and analyzed their running forms and wear patterns. No other shoe vender that I saw had this type of setup.

I circled throughout just about every aisle picking up as many freebies along way as possible.

By the time I walked out the door, I felt like I was on information over load. To put it another way, l felt like a kid in a candy store. There was so much to see that I could not take it all in.

From there we met up Young Megan's sister's boy friend, Megan, and Ben and headed over to the elite number pick up. Megan headed into pick up her stuff while we acted like her entourage and checked out the elite hospitality suite. In my opinion, it was very nice.

Megan got her number and we split up as we each had our own dinner plans.

Dinner of course included pasta and bread. I chased it down with a Protein Power Bar. A short time later it was off to bed.

Nathan who was traveling up on an evening flight finally arrived. I am guessing it was about 10:30. I don't really know. I only roused awake for a few seconds and went back to sleep.

I always know that I am surrounded by runners. The eye lids slide back around 6 AM this morning and I already heard Mike and Nathan moving around.

A little after 7 we headed out for our last run which would be just 4 miles. During the run, we took in Ben's 5k race.

Watching these guys run is simply amazing. They make running look effortlessly. We were watching from the 2 mile point and there was a group of probably 8 guys coming through in 9:30. They were followed by a steady stream of runners. Not too far back from the leaders was Ben coming through wearing his CRC shirt.

After the race, we spent a few minutes talking with Ben before running back to our place. Mike and I finished off with some nice strides.

For some reason, I just didn't feel all that great this morning. My legs seemed to be dragging which is something that I would have expected in my taper.

So rather than spend a ton of time walking around today, I choose to just lie around, watch TV, and read.

Tonight, I will get one more good night's sleep and tomorrow, we will see what we got.

Right now, the weather looks promising. The temperate should be mid to upper 40s at start. They should reach the mid 50s by the time that we finish. If the weatherman is correct, we will have a tail wind.

Well, this is rap for today. I will post something tomorrow after the race.


Thoughts from the Cool Down Runner

Downhill Running

A few years ago, I decided on doing the "Run the Red" marathon. My research showed it to be a fast course with a predominately downhill design to it. With this perceptive in mind, I set about building up my quads. I did lots of hill repeats and rode my bike to help strengthen my legs.

Going into the race, I thought my homework had been appropriate. The weather at the start was cold and wind was blowing something ugly. I remember just trying to settle-in and just run.

They didn't have clocks along the course and I don't look at my Garmin for my own reasons.

So I wasn't really aware of my time until a flashed through the ½ point in just over 1:16. My legs didn't feel great but they were still churning along. I remember going through 20 miles in just under two hours. From there, it seemed like every uphill hurt and downhill hurt more.

I felt physically like everything was coming totally unglued but mentally, I was just tackling each hill one at a time.

One of the things that I remember is coming on to track at the finish. For the first time, I looked at my Garmin and suddenly realized if I could push the hurt and pain aside for another 90 seconds, I could break 2:40. I did it with 15 seconds to spare.

Boy, I was really stiff after the race.

But the days that followed were even worse. For the next 5 days, my quads just plain hurt. Setting or standing required me to use both hands.

I thought going into the race that having strong quads was the answer to handling a downhill course and yes, it did help me run fast, but it didn't help handle the downhills.

Now, with Boston just a few days I once again stand ready to challenge the marathon distance. Again, I have used a lot up hills in my preparation, but with one slight change. For every uphill that I have run I have tried to incorporate a downhill section at a fast pace.

However, my biggest problem is that I will not know if I did everything right until I get ¾ of the way through Boston. By then, it will be too late to do anything about it. On the other hand, if my workouts were the right ones, then I am going to feel really good between 21 and 26.

Changing subjects slightly, I have been researching the Boston course. I have looked at spread sheet break downs of the course, elevation charts, you tube videos, and people's comments on marathon guide as well as listen to Grey Myers and Alberto Salazar give their thoughts on the Boston course. I put all of this information together and formulated my own plan for how I want to run Boston.

With that said, what most people say is that the hills are really tough and get most runners. Honestly, the hills don't really bother me. I know they are coming but I don't worry about them until I reach them. Then, I focus on running just that hill before moving on to the next and the next. After all, I ran Twin Cities last fall. The last 6 miles is virtually all up hill.

Right now, I have a game plan of trying to hit the ½ way point in about 1:18 and some change. This gives me roughly 60 seconds of banked time to give back going through the hills. I realize this is cutting it kind of close if I want to run a 2:39:59 or better.

Running fast really comes down to believing in the workouts that you have done and first and foremost "believing" in yourself.


Thoughts from the Cool Down Runner

Friday, April 15, 2011

This morning’s run

Following my usual routine, I headed out my front door this morning for an easy 7 miles and finished it off with some strides.

Typically, I find myself using the first couple of miles just getting my body moving. The legs always seem to be extra stiff with some soreness just above the knee caps. It was never anything too bad that bag of ice didn't help cure or at least mitigate. As too the cause, I suspected it was from all of the downhill running that I have been doing.

Anyway, I hit the street and the first stride felt decent and then the second stride was just as good. I wasn't speedy but I was moving well and better than usual. Then, I clicked off 8 nice strides which really felt good.

All in all it was a good morning run and I hope a prelude to a good day ahead.


Thoughts from the Cool Down Runner

Thursday, April 14, 2011

6 x 2 minutes with 1 minute recovery

This morning, it was time to head out the door for my last up tempo workout before Boston.

Since I returned to marathoning a few years ago, I have been constantly been refining my workouts during my marathon tapers. Like most people, I try to keep what makes me feel good and fast while dropping those workouts that I feel are not giving me the push that I need.

A workout that has become a staple in my taper is the 6 x 2 minutes with 1 minute recovery during race week. I always try to schedule this workout 4 days out from my marathon. There are 2 reasons why I like it.

The first reason is; it is short both in time and distance. 6 x 2 minutes only comes to 12 minutes of hard effort and distance wise it is just a little less than 3 miles. Because it is such a brief up tempo workout, it is very easy to recover from it before race day.

The second reason is that the workout is very up tempo. My legs will be turning over a little faster than marathon pace which ensures that my breathing is slightly labored. A workout like this helps with the imprint of the turnover on my nervous system. It also helps the mind acknowledge effort. Many hours during training have been spent callusing the mind in preparation for race day, so this workout just a touch of hard effort to keep this in place for just a few more days.

From here on it, I have just some easy miles and strides until Monday morning.


Thoughts from the Cool Down Runner

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

8 x 1 min w/ 30 second

Yesterday, I headed out for my regular Monday speed workout – a little later than usual. With Boston having a late morning start, I wanted to wait until lunch time so I could get in a little heat acclamation. The temperate was barely pushing 80 but I felt like an ice cube in an oven with the temperature set on broil. Sweat was running down both sides of my face and my clothes were soaked by the end of the run.

I guess to some extent there is some irony here. Each time that I enter my work room, I check my email. It is sort of like breathing, I don't think about it; I just do it.

Well, the sweat was still dripping off my forehead when computer screen displayed my latest email. At the top of my inbox was an email from the BAA group. On the subject line, they were giving me tips on racing in cold weather. How ironic? Here I am sweating and the BAA guys want me to worry about racing in cold weather. I say "bring on the cold weather".

Enough about the weather, my workout was okay. Running can be just a fickle thing. I feel good one day and bad the next day. But one of the things I try to pay attention to is how I feel during the run. How are the arms feeling? Are my legs dragging going uphill or do I have some spring in my step.

One of the things that I noticed, is taking days off from the bike can breathe life back into my legs. Yesterday, I was not "exactly" sprinting up the hills but even with the heat my legs were still decent.

I clicked off of all 8 x 1 minute surges with 30 seconds between mile 4 and 7. Then, I cool down on the run back to my house.

This leaves me with one more stressor workout before Boston. This will be 6 x 2 minutes with 1 minute recovery over 10 miles on Thursday.



Thoughts from the Cool Down Runner


Monday, April 11, 2011

Last Long Run in the Bag

On Saturday morning Mike and I planned to meet up for our last long run before Boston. This run would be 16 miles along the Mallard Creek Greenway. Mike had just pulled up and we were chatting when out of the "blue" Billy Shue pulls up. Billy needed a few miles before he headed off for a boot camp workout.

Billy is always good for keeping the conversation going. That's one of the reasons why I always enjoy running with him.

Billy ran with us for about 6 miles before breaking off. Mike and I continued down the greenway and out by the UNCC annex before heading back to the cars.

When we finished we were chatting about how quickly this run seem to pass. I totally agree with this assessment. When one runs for 3 and ½ hours to complete 28 miles, running 16 miles can seem like a drop in the bucket. At this point, it should feel like a drop in the bucket. We had covered 16 miles in about 2 hours at what felt like conversation pace. My Garmin said we had been averaging 7:30 miles along the way.

So now that our last long run is in the bag, I have a couple of stressor workouts this week to complete my preparation. One will be later day and one on Thursday.

Charlotte is starting to warm up now that April is here. Couple this with Boston having a 10 AM start time. There is a good chance the temps are going rise for us. I know it is a little late in the game for heat training but I am pushing my runs back to lunch time.

My hope is this will provide my body with a reminder that I am going to be running later in the morning and it gives me a chance to start adapting to the warmer temperatures.

Boston is calling for 50s for the high next Monday. Certainly, this should feel cool for us southerners. But it is always better to err on the side of caution. Most runners will tell you that they would rather train hot and run cool. Thus, if I can get a in a few days of hot weather adaptation, it can only help my chances of running well.


Thoughts from Cool Down Runner


Thursday, April 7, 2011

TrySports – First Group Ride of the Year

Some weeks ago, Rob and I had talked about me leading a TrySports Group ride. Well, I had not thought much more about it and then, I walked in the door of TrySports Store last night. He asked if I was up for leading the "C" group.


So while, I have pretty good marathon legs, I don't have much of my cycling legs yet, but I thought I could still easily manage a 16-18 mph effort.

Mainly, the "C" has a lot of people just starting out and a few trying to work their way into the "B" group.

Rob M. gave me a "que" sheet containing the "C" group route. Now, I have been on most of the roads before, but I was always following so I wasn't paying particular attention to the street names. Last night, I realized how important those street signs really were.

This was my first attempt at leading a group so last night's effort could be considered as my on the job training. For instance, people like to stay within a certain pace and they really appreciate the regrouping after long stretches.

When I ride with most groups, I don't pay any attention to pace. I am looking at my heart rate and trying to stay in the draft as much as possible. So at the first stop we made, I was scrambling down through my Bike settings. I changed my Garmin to display the current speed and from then I tried to keep a nice steady 16-17 mph.

Several of the guys that knew the course road ahead, but in all honesty, they should have ridden in the "B" anyway. They were already in way better shape.

For the rest, I lead them through the course and back to TrySports safely. This was my goal – have a nice, safe, fun ride.

Was I fantastic group leader? Ah, I give myself a C+. But I enjoyed the opportunity to give back and help others getting into the cycling. And, if the opportunity comes my way, I would happy help the TrySports guys out again.

I embedded and attached a link to some video that I shot via my video sunglass. –btw – mental note to myself, I need to keep my head up while I am riding in the future.

TrySports Group Ride - Click Here

Keeping the engine warm

Every marathon taper is different yet the same. For the most part, I try to taper in such a way that I keep my body ready to run hard while also giving it the much need time to recover for race day. This morning, I was out trying to keep the engine tuned up for racing and trying to not break the bank.

The workout this morning was a 5 mile tempo run. I was not feeling particular great. I imagine it had something to do with my leading one of the TrySports Group rides last night. Ironically, I felt really good last night during the ride, but it wasn't carrying over to today.

After a 3+ mile warm up, we started our tempo run.

For the first mile my legs felt stiff and tight: 6:04. The 2nd mile up and down the hill at McAlpine was 6:18. I always take my time coming off the hill. There is no sense tearing something for a training workout. The 3rd mile, I felt more like I was struggling and just couldn't find a good running groove: 6:02.

Miles 4 and 5 were on the way back to the Old Bell entrance. Mile 4 was 5:58 and mile 5 was 5:57. During these miles I was not breathing particular hard but neither was I feeling comfortable.

There is still 10 days to Boston and while my run this morning was somewhat in line with what I expected; I still have time to find the comfort zone that I will need.



Thoughts from the Cool Down Runner

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Winding down the Big Day

What was once months then became weeks and has now become days.

The recognition of this fact now needs to be crystal clear in my training. Gone are the days of needing a 10 mile warm up before 10 miles hard. This also goes for the need for 3 x 3 mile repeats to crank the body through the most strenuous of workouts.

But it doesn't mean going soft. And by soft, I mean only doing easy runs.

Over the last 3 weeks, I keep the runs shorter and the tempo quicker but I don't do anything all out. Each workout is meant to remind the body of the hard work expected but not to tax it beyond more than day or two of recovery.

On the easy days, I finish off my workouts with a Tabata workout or some quick strides.

Strides are a perfect way to keep the legs turning over quickly without doing any major type of damage to the muscles. All that needs to be done is tack them on to the end of your regular run.

To do a stride find a 30 to 50 yd preferably straight, flat piece of ground or road. Then, accelerate up to race speed by the middle of the distance before decelerating over the last 20 yards or so. I like to do it about 8 to 10 times.

My legs usually feel better afterward and the stride leaves me feeling like I have some spring in my step.

This is just a suggestion for keeping the legs in the groove until the big day.



Thoughts from the Cool Down Runner

Monday, April 4, 2011

16 x 1 minute with 30 seconds recovery

Early this morning, I began my 2nd taper week with a little speedwork over a 12 mile run. After about 5 miles, I started hitting the 1 minute hard efforts with 30 recoveries between each. With the first few in the bag, I was thinking this is going to be a breeze. My legs have some serious pop in them this morning. I felt like I was effortlessly bounding along the ground.

This feeling continue all the way until I made the turn and started heading south. That's when the rude awakening arrived. I had been bounding along but was being pushed by a wind out of the south.

Now that I was heading in a southerly direction, I was getting stood straight up and starting to feel like I was wading through quick sand.

The human mind can be fickle at times with human emotions running the gambit of highest of highs to lowest of lows in a blink of an eye. Feeding off the highs is easy but driving through the low points is incredibly hard. That's why I only worry about the ground right in front of me. The act of Running forces me to deal with the here and now and there is no need to worry about what I have done or what is coming. I will deal with it soon enough.

Boston is only 13 more days away and the swell of excitement is building.


Thoughts from the Cool Down Runner

Saturday, April 2, 2011

14 + 4 + 2 = 20 miles

With Boston a little over 2 weeks away it was time for our last 20 miler. I had emailed everyone begging for a 6 AM start so I could finish in time to make it over to a TrySports Sponsored 5k at Mc Alpine to help out. Clayton, Jon H., Mike, Jonathan S., Megan and I were joining me for this run on the Mallard Creek Greenway.

What we had talked about was doing 14 miles at 7:30 and then a 4 mile light tempo which would be followed by a 2 mile cool down.

I noticed that even in the early miles we were clipping a long pretty fast – pushing a few sub sevens. Mike, Clayton, Jon, and I cooled our jets for later while Megan and Jonathon S. speed off into the sunrise. Keeping the pace in check for me was the right thing to do. While I could have gone with them, I don't want to look back after Boston and feel like I left my best effort on the Greenway.

After circulating most of the greenway, Mike and I started our 4 mile tempo from the Soccer fields. The first mile was 6:15. Definitely, it was faster than the 6:30 that I was expecting and each proceeding miles was just a little faster.

Mike finished off with a 5:57 last mile and I was close behind at 6 minutes.

We finished off with a nice little 2 mile cool down back to the parking.

My legs didn't feel great but they didn't feel all that bad. It is just the first week of my taper and during the next week lower mileage should help my legs show some signs of life.

Mike's definitely is good shape for this marathon and I think he has bought into the big picture training method. Now, my last task is to keeping him from going out too fast Boston and if I can do that, then most likely somewhere around 22 miles, I will watch him disappear into the crowd of runners ahead of me at Boston.


Thoughts from the Cool Down Runner

Friday, April 1, 2011

456 Miles for March

I was gathering my totals in AthletiCore for March and thought that I would share them with everyone.

My total mileage for the month was 456. My average long run was 22 miles each week. I went out the door for a run 11.2 runs each week and had an average daily mileage of 8+ miles at least according to AthletiCore.

The total mileage across the month was: 89, 93, 100, 108, and 56. I never in my life remember running so many miles. This is more than I have ever put in for any previous marathon. Even last fall when I went over 100 miles for the first time in years for OBX, I didn't touch anything close to this type of mileage.

The question now is will I recover in time and will it help me achieve the results that I want.

I will let you know 17 days from now.



Thoughts from the Cool Down Runner