Sunday, June 26, 2011

Summer Track Series Update

Many times, we wonder if people are listening when we as runners have questions and concerns. In this case, I can say that "Yes" Run for Your Life is listening. Below is a copy of the email that I received earlier this week.

In the email, they indicate that they are planning to run an open companion event to each Championship event. The Open event will be run after the Championship event and will not be timed. Not a perfect solution in my opinion, but at least everyone has opportunity to run.

Too often, we want the whole thing all at once, but we all would do well to remember that everything is a work in progress. Even small steps will get you to the finish line.


See you Tuesday evening,


Cool Down Runner


----- Copy of their email -----


Summer Track Series Participants,

Championship week is Tuesday, so please read this important information regarding who is eligible.

Everyone is invited to come out and run for Championship week. Although, you must qualify for an event in order to participate in championship heats. We will run open heats for each event after all of the champion heats have run. Please note that normal track fees apply ($8 adult, $5 student), unless you have purchased a season pass.

Winners from each week automatically qualified. We then took the next 4 fastest times regardless of the week (4 male, 4 female). If someone won the event two or more weeks in a row, then we took the next fastest time regardless of the week.

** Non championship heats will not be timed and posted, so please look at the clock or your watch for your time of the open heats**

Please go to the Summer Track Series page to see what events you qualified for and also for the schedule of events. We will need to try to stick to the schedule in order to get all events done before sun down.

Thanks for coming out and making this event great. Please forward to your friends in case this message goes to their SPAM folder or they didn't give us their email.

 Run For Your Life Race Registration

(704) 358 - 0717 ext 204

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Summer Track Meek Wk4 Recap

Tuesday night the word on the street was that some new guys were showing up for the Open Mile heat. Sure enough, John Compton made an appearance and provided a great rabbit for us to chase.

Well at least for a few people to chase, personally, I was battling my own demons because my legs didn't feel like they were in any mode to run. My legs consider anything beyond a slow job too much work.

Stan and I headed out for an easy warm up and met Paul, Alex, among others. They looked like a motley crew so we felt right at home hanging out in the back of the group.

Tom was keeping things moving along so the heats were going off right on schedule or in some cases really fast. I will explain further in just a bit.

Chuck and I did a few laps together and talked about pace. Chuck smoked me a few weeks ago so I was hoping that I was up to the task of chasing him down that night.

Tom called us to the line and we headed off. The open heat for those running 5:30 and under was smaller tonight and probably was an advantage for me. There were less people for me to maneuver around.

John and Paul sped away from the gun and I found myself going down the backstretch of the 1st lap just behind Chuck. It was now or never so I pushed hard for the rest of the lap. Passing Chuck, there were still several runners just in front of me that I thought I could close the gap.

The 2nd and 3rd laps passed, I was not getting any faster but I wasn't slowing down much.

Coming off the last turn, I didn't know who was behind and honestly, I didn't want to look. I kept my head pointed forward and made sure the legs and arms were churning for the finish.

5:12:41 for the mile isn't all that fast, but for me I was happy. The time was 3 second faster for me which is a big drop considering that less than 10 days ago, I ran a marathon.

Chuck made a valiant effort but he could not get those all valuable 3 seconds back.

With the open mile in the bag, I turned around and headed back to the starting line. Tom was quickly moving everyone into position for the 2nd heat. Last week, we had maybe 3 and 5 minutes between heats. So with less than a minute recovery, Tom blew the whistle to start the 2nd mile heat. My breathing hadn't returned to normal.

5:47 for the 2nd mile was my finish time. Maybe I could have run a little faster, but last night it was just about getting a hard effort out of my body.

Normally, this would have ended my night but this night I felt like I needed to get a 2 mile effort. There was a daily total that I was shooting to hit and the 2 mile event fit right into it.

Mainly, I just cruised around while Paul, Alex, and Jack (13 years old) made quick work of the 2 mile event.

After the event, some of us went up to the guys from Run for Your Life to get the scoop on next week.

Next week is to be the Championship Week. Loosely, this means if you have 1 of the top 8 times, you will have qualified to run. Largely, we had questions like how does one qualify and will there be any open events.

As of the conversations Tuesday night and this may change between our conversations and next week, but there will be "No"; I repeat "No" open events.

Qualifying meant that you had to have one of the top 8 times in each of the event from the 200 through the 5k.

Now, I understand the concept of Championship week and branding of it so that it is set apart.

What I am struggling with is the qualifying and the alternate selection process. While my times will not automatically qualify me for any of the events, I could get in as an alternate. After all, let's be realistic this is a small meet with small group of runners. There is a lot of overlap between the events. Runners may select to only run one or two events. For example, Paul qualified for mile, the 2 mile, and the 5k. Paul is in great running shape and could easily do all 3 events, but one only has so many all out efforts in one evening. If he gives an all out effort for the mile and the 2 miles, chances are that his 5k time will suffer.

The question that I am pondering is do I wait around all day and see if I get a chance to run in one of these events or do I just go for a morning run. Then, I am left with no pressure, waiting, and an opportunity to watch some great races. Right now, I am leaning toward just running in the morning. But who really knows; I may change my mind.

Maybe next year, I can get on the committee that organizes this event. There are some ideas floating around that I really like: having an open and masters mile heats for both men and women and in addition to having championship races, there would be one open matching event. For example, have the an open mile, master's mile, and the championship mile.


Just some random thoughts from the Cool Down Runner

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Marathon Training Plans

Last night while working some emails in my inbox, an email arrived from Aaron, President of the Charlotte Running Club. For those of you that don't know Aaron just ran a smoking good time of 2:41 at GrandMas Marathon on only 6 weeks of training.

You might also not know that Aaron is big on keeping track of the details. We should all have this same attribute. But any way, attached to Aaron's email was a break down from his GrandMas Marathon as well as his previous marathons. He included much of his training plans, training strategies, and thoughts from each of his experiences.

There was so much information that I probably sent more than an hour just reading through it. Like Aaron, my goal is to dip under the 2:40 barrier. To date, I have gone under a couple of times, but for some reason, I spend more time knocking on the door than I actually do walking through it.

As I was reading through his spread sheet, something popped out to me. Aaron tracked how much sleep that was getting each night.

This is something that I also do.

Of all the different parts and pieces that we put together in our marathon training plans, maybe the most critical component of the entire plan is sleep. Sleep is the time when the body has a chance to rebuild itself to become stronger. Remarkably, this is the easiest part of our training plan. For we have nothing to do but rest and let the body recover.

I suspect with the busy lives that we all lead, sleep maybe the most underutilized part of any of our training plans.

I encourage everyone to start tracking their sleep hours. Then, try to increase it even if it is only by a ½ hour. This could be the one thing that helps you cross that huddle and achieve your goal.



Thoughts from the Cool Down Runner

Monday, June 20, 2011

Charlotte Running Club Social

On Saturday afternoon, the Charlotte Running Club had planned their June social for Colonel Francis Beatty Park. I was looking forward to seeing some new faces and along with the familiar ones. Emily and Brian were just unpacking when I pulled up.

A few more people arrived and soon we started putting on some burgers on the grill.

That's when the dark clouds arrived and the wind really picked up. The strong winds were breaking limbs from the trees and the rain was blowing sideways. Mike Kahn offered up a "Plan B" option where we all headed for his house which was about a mile or so away. Honestly, I have to give a big shout to both Mike for idea but also to his wife who welcome a bunch of runners into her home. I just wonder how it cost Mike to make it up to his wife. LOL.

Everyone grabbed something and headed for their cars. Being that I parked the closest, when I opened my trunk, people started putting stuff in the back. Not a problem, I was happy to haul to anything and everything over to Mike's home. We all followed Mike over to his house and then unloaded everything into his kitchen and back patio.

We cranked up Mike's grill and somehow, I got promoted to grill master. First, I started with hamburgers and then progress to hot dogs. Matt brought over these bratwurst sausages. Matt said to just cook them until they were black. I guess I did okay. Matt was still walking around after eating them. Then, came the veggie burgers and salmon patties. I just kept turning them until they said they were done. Later someone added chicken on the grill.

Stan was the first to take burger off the grill. The burger must have been good because Stan was quickly returned for seconds.

But finally, I was able to slide away for a few minutes and grab a burger for myself.

I also made the rounds inside to try some of the other items. Jamie brought this rice and chicken dish which was good and someone brought banana pudding. Ages have passed since I had banana pudding so I had to have to helpings.

When I finally pulled out my watch it was a little past 8pm. 4 hours had flown by but it was a lot fun and so many good stories were told.

Getting to meet other runners outside of running can be just as nice as getting to meet them during a run. And while weather did try to rain our on our parade, from what I saw everyone had a great time.

Again, big thanks to Mike and his wife for letting a bunch up running come into their home on short notice. Also I want to give a shout-out to Emily for organizing the social. Thanks Emily.


Thoughts from the Cool Down Runner.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Uwharrie Club Social

A couple of weeks ago, I got my Uwharrie Running Club email concerning their Ice Cream Social. See each year; they have an ice cream social and pool party at the Piney Point Country Club in Norwood.

Somewhere doing those intervening weeks, I mentioned it to my daughters so it was a lock that we were going. My daughters enjoy for one reason and one reason only, the club has a diving board. This is something that is hard to come by in the Charlotte area. I lost count of how many times that they jumped off and not to be out done, I took my turn jumping off as well. I was probably the only adult to do it. But I only did it a few times. Old bodies don't hit the water quite as easily as younger bodies but it was still fun to do.

Their Club socials usually flow along these lines. We gather about 6:30 for a little group run around the golf course and then head down to the pool for the ice cream social and swimming. I joined John and Rick for the run and caught up with Peter, Sharon among others later at the pool. Ice Cream, chips, soda, plus watermelon were shared by all. Then after some swimming, we hung out by the pool talked running while sharing our running stories.

Definitely, we had a fun evening. I am just sorry that I didn't snap any pictures. Next time, I will for sure.


Thoughts from the Cool Down Runner

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Summer Track Wk3 Recap 6.14.11

Thanks to Scott GreenApple for this photo

There is an expression "Where the rubber meets the road, things happen". Last night I had grand visions of running all 3 mile heats and doing the 5k. That didn't exactly happen.

My legs especially my quads and hamstrings are still pretty sore from the Hatfield & McCoy marathon. And at some point, one has to be honest with one's self. Do I really need to do this?

Rolling up just before 6pm I picked up my number and unloaded my stuff on the infield grass. Then, after making the rounds to catch up with a few people, I headed out for a few warm up miles.

Arriving back at the track, I heard Tim announce that the 5:30 and under mile was going off at 6:40 which was going to be followed by 6 to 5:30 pace at 6:50, and last one was the 6 and over at 7.

I did some long 100 meter strides on the grass and headed for the start of the mile.

This was going to be rough and I knew it even before I took the first step. My quads complained when I pushed off and my hamstrings complained when I was tightening it up. I could feel a nice "knot" developing in my right hamstring. My breathing was extremely labored and I just never felt in control. The 2nd, 3rd, and 4th laps were not any better. 78, 81, 83, and 81 were my splits for a 5:25 open mile.

Crossing the finish line, there was a lot of doubt about going any further. Should I even do a 2nd mile? Okay, I would at least try it? 83, 83, 85, and 82 were the splits for a 5:35 mile. Stan was trying to entice me back for the 3rd mile but at the last minute, I stepped off the track. The other adage "live to fight another day" was ringing through the back of my mind. The 3rd mile went off and I watched them go. I wanted to be out there running, but if I did, I would only stress a badly strained hamstring even further.

Instead, I changed back to my trainers and headed off to the dirt section behind the high school for a couple of easy miles.

I missed out on my plan and thought about just leaving the track but I decided against it. Last night was also the 5k time trial and there was a lot people that I knew running it. If I couldn't run myself, I could at least support their efforts. Tim and Tom didn't have anyone calling splits so I pulled out my Garmin. The least that I could do is call out splits. For the next 30 minutes I yelled out splits and cheered everyone to run hard.

Paul and Jay were digging hard. Chad was running well considering that he did all 3 heats of the mile and I don't know what else. Borianna and Danielle were making good time as well. Then there was Alex, Allen, Paul, Stan and darn it, a bunch of others.

I also want to give a shout out to Stan. He comes up to me after the open mile and says "I think this is the first time that I ever beat you". You know, I think he is right. I cannot even use the excuse that I ran a marathon on Saturday because Stan ran a trail race which was even longer. I have a ton of respect for Stan. Considering the number of miles that he runs verses his ability to just keep coming back and running either a short race like a mile or 5k, followed by 28 mile trail race, and to close it out a few days later with a fast mile is simply amazing (not one, not two, but all 3 mile heats plus the 5k). I wish I knew his secret. You are the "man" Stan.

For anyone expecting some video, there isn't any this week. My camera and sunglasses remained at home on the shelf this week, but more than likely both will be out there next week. And, remember to smile when you see me.


Thoughts from the Cool Down Runner




Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Legs improving

Sunday my legs were pretty stiff but were not all that sore. Monday morning I woke to found my legs went from stiff to major sore.

Going out for my run was more of a test in pain tolerance than a recovery run. When I finished, I was having some serious doubts about my ability to participate in the Summer Track Meet this week. The idea of not getting to run was a major bummer. I really enjoy the atmosphere surrounding our track meets.

This morning I woke to find my legs were feeling slightly better. My spirits were definitely improved by the lessening of the soreness

Usually, my schedule is for an easy 4 mile shake out run in the morning and then head down to the track in the evening for the meet. However, this week maybe the better option for me would be to skip the easy run and just head for the track. My legs still have that marathon soreness but with no running until this evening maybe they will at least allow me to jump in a couple of the miles.

Keep your fingers crossed for me.


Thoughts from the Cool Down Runner

Monday, June 13, 2011

Lessons Learned

Probably more than a few people are wondering why run a summer time marathon? Add to it, this was a marathon basically in the south so one would only have expected it to be hot and humid, right? I couldn't agree more. Truthfully, I was on the fence about doing it for weeks. My decision to run it only came the week before hand.

Basically, there were some things that I wanted to try out and only by racing could I do it. Let me explain it a little differently. Yes, I could have tested all of my ideas during a long training run but with nothing on the line, I wouldn't go into it with the same intensity. The same desire to push through the difficult sections. Effectively, I am saying I learned the most when I give it my all and this only comes out during my races.

There were a number of things that I was testing.

  • Running a summer time marathon
  • Drinking more water and electrolytes during the race
  • Using running shorts vs. compress shorts
  • Running in a singlet vs. a tri top
  • Not using calf sleeves.
  • Different Gels
  • Running a marathon with limited training preparation

Being the software profession one of the first things that a developer learns is one shouldn't make more than one change at time. Making multiple changes makes it much harder to determine what worked and for that matter what didn't work.

That's a good lesson to keep in mind but making minute changes for a marathon are more difficult because of the preparation time. Changing only one attribute would mean elongating the entire testing process or it would mean running marathons more frequently. Neither option really works well for me.

So I was left with making several changes during one test and hoping for the best.

Basically every marathon that I have done, I ran from the perspective go as fast as possible. To do this, I always choose a flat fast marathon. This time I wanted to try something a little different. That's why I choose a race that was tough and thus pushed any idea of running fast out the window.

The Hatfield and McCoy marathon fit the bill. The course was hilly, mixed terrain, and uncertified. And did mention it was expected to be hot and humid. Why else would they have aid stations at every mile starting at mile one. In addition, their web site clear states "This is not a Boston Qualifier". Although, I guess, I technically proved this statement to be incorrect since my time from Saturday's race will have qualified me for next the Boston marathon next year.

Drinking during race has always been a struggle for me. Usually most of the water spills from the cup when I grab it. Then, there is the sloshy water feeling in the stomach. I never liked that feeling. Saturday, the weather was expected to be hot and so I was determined to drink often which I did. Never once did I get the sloshy feeling but then I was sweating like I was setting in a sauna. Maybe the water was empting out as fast I was drinking it or maybe I just wasn't getting enough water from each cup. Probably, there was a little of both happening.

Since I returned to marathoning, I had used compression shorts. And recently, I had switched to wearing a Tri top during the race. I liked the compression aspect but I wanted to see what would happen without the compression and Tri top. I had selected the CRC gear and the Brooks shorts because they had pockets for carrying my Gels. I had no issue with the gear itself but the black color wasn't the "hottest" of ideas.

I wore my singlet on the outside of my shorts so each time in order to access the pockets, I had to reach back and pull up the bottom of the singlet. I'll probably consider putting the bottom of the singlet inside the shorts next time.

Normally, I wear my calf sleeves because I feel it helps with return blood flow, keeps the muscles firm, and prevents cramping. Man, do I wish that I had them on Saturday. I skipped wearing them because of the heat. Definitely, this was the wrong decision to make.

Gel-wise, I went with the Strawberry-Banana over the chocolate. The Chocolate even on a hot day, I have to squeeze it out. The Strawberry-Banana came out like water. Actually, the taste better as well.

The last bullet point was marathon training. Often when putting all of those miles, one has to ask one's self is it really worth it? Do the hard workouts really help?

For the Hatfield and McCoy marathon my marathon training consisted of 1 x 18, 20, and 22 mile runs. Otherwise, I just ran easy miles and raced some 5ks. I didn't even increase my mileage beyond what was added for these 3 long runs.

With all of this said, what did I learn? Well, the first thing that I learned is that like most people I don't handle running 26.2 miles in the heat and humidity very well. The Hatfield and McCoy marathon will likely be my first and last summer time marathon at least one in the south. Maybe a marathon in Alaska might be worth trying or the North Pole.

Otherwise, I took away a lot of good notes which I am already looking to incorporate into my fall marathon plans.



Thoughts from the Cool Down Runner

Sunday, June 12, 2011

2 IV bags later the lights come on

Many of you may have read race recap but I thought I needed to elaborate on the whole hydration and IV portion better. Going into this marathon, I knew it was going be hot and muggy. I knew that I needed to adapt to the heat beforehand as much as possible. Charlotte only turned hot in the last couple of weeks and I tried my best to do a few of my runs in the heat. I hoped the adaptation would come quickly.

Also knowing that hydration would be "key" to a successful race, my plan was drink regularly throughout the race which I did.

The Hatfield and McCoy's Marathon offered water and PowerAde at every mile. I drank water at every other mile until 18 miles. From 18 miles onward, I drank water at every mile. I drank PowerAde every 5 miles throughout the race.

Not once during the race did I really feel thirsty nor did I get that slushy feeling in my stomach that typically comes when you are drinking a lot.

From perspiration perspective, I was totally soaked. Both my singlet and shorts were soaked by 5 miles. I was wiping the sweat off my face.

I knew at the half way point that I really felt bad.

My miles were really starting to slow.

When I crossed the finish line, I asked the lady to take me some place where I could set down. They laid me on a cot and started putting cold towels on my head, neck, and legs. They also started loading me up on water and PowerAde.

30 minutes after the race my legs were cramping. First, the calves would camp and then the shins. I cannot begin to tell you how much it hurt. I have experienced cramp in my legs before, but I never experienced anything to this degree and I hope that I never do again.

After about an hour or so, I was feeling slightly better. At least I was feeling well enough to try to walk to the restroom. I wanted to get out my running clothes. But honestly, I really felt tired and sluggish.

The two nurses that had been helping me told me that I could go but that they wanted to send someone with me.

So we started across the street and into a restaurant. I made it inside the door when I suddenly felt like I needed to set down. From there, I put my head down on the floor and said that I don't think I can go any further.

He went to get help and both nurses plus two other guys came back. They told me that they were going to move me back the cot.

We started out the door. The two guys had my arms around their necks. I remember starting out the door and then, I just relaxed and closed my eyes. The next thing that I knew they were laying my on the cot. I was out of it. Betty, one of the nurses, was offering me water and I said "I can't". I felt like I was going to throw up and she told me to go ahead. Less than 30 seconds later, a combination of water and PowerAde came flooding out. Actually, that felt better.

They had the doctor come over to check my blood pressure and pulse: 118 over 78 and 68 bpm. Plus, he asked me the 20 question game. He then told them to hook me up to an IV.

With one IV bag in me I was starting to feel better and I was asking to eat some watermelon. When the 2nd IV bag finished, the lights were totally on. I was stiff and tired but I felt a lot better and was starting to get hungry. This is a good sign for me because I know that I am returning to normal.

Within 20 minutes of getting those two IV bags, I was headed off to change clothes. They left in the IV just in case I needed a 3rd bag and told me to come back to have it removed. Another 30 minutes went by and I was feeling a lot better so I went over to have the IV removed. Actually, they didn't even recognize me. This is how different that I looked.

They removed the IV and I had my photo taken with them. Their names were Vickie and Betty and they were so nice in making sure that I got the care that I needed. I cannot say how thankful I am for their help. In my opinion they were both "Saints".

On a side note, now that I understand how much an IV helps, I need to learn how to hook myself up after a race. I could save myself a couple of miserable hours after each marathon.

To end this post, I wanted to let you know something. Through my entire 46 years of life this is the first time that I have ever experienced anything like what happened that day. I never thought when the morning started that I would be flat on my back with an IV in my arm by the afternoon. Most people don't know this but this is the first time that I have ever had an IV. Honestly, there were way too many first for me on this one day.


Thoughts from the Cool Down Runner



Hatfield and McCoy Marathon Recap 6.11.2011

What does lots of tough hills, plus lots of heat and humidity, plus trails, plus a swinging bridge, plus 26.2 miles, plus 2 IV bags equal? Well, in my case it equals 3 hours 6 minutes and 48 seconds of running. So how do you like "that" for a topic sentence? One of my English teachers once told us that every paper needs a topic sentence as a way to let the reader know a little about what he is about read. Thus you have my best shot at leading you into what I am about recount to you from my weekend adventure.

Friday night, I pulled into the Belfry High School to pick up my race packet and have a little pasta for dinner. Part of the registration for the Hatfield and McCoy Marathon included a shirt, prerace dinner, 26.2 miles, and a post race lunch. Not bad considering the entry fee was only $50 dollars. In my opinion is pretty good deal for a Marathon these days.

While we were waiting on dinner to start, I was spent my time chatting with some of the other runners. I wanted to get a little insight from of the veteran runners of this race. And, just before dinner Bobby walks up. He was probably more surprised to see me than I him since I knew that he was planning to run this race. Yes, there were a few people that knew I was planning on running this marathon but only a few.

The dinner was followed with a nice little skit put on by a couple of local actors about the Hatfield and McCoy's Feud. Being from WV, I learned about the feud in school, but still they shared some stuff that I didn't know.

Btw – dinner was pretty good as well – Pasta – veggie or meat sauce, salad, and cake plus your choice of refreshments.

The dinner was lasting well into the evening and I soon had to say my goodbyes because I still needed to find my hotel for the night.

Paid $69 dollars for a room that I only spent 5 hours. I guess this was a good deal for them.

Because the race starts and finishes in two different locations, I headed back into Williamson early the next morning to catch the buses to the Food Mart which host the start.

The place opens early and serves a full breakfast buffet.

I hung out there until about 6:40 when I headed out to drop my bag. I was getting in a little warm up when I spotted Bobby coming toward the start.

We had been told that the race was started with the firing of a shot gun.

Dave Hatfield, the race directory, yelled "what time is it?". Someone else yelled "7AM", and then there a blast from a shot gun and people started running. No instructions, no pray, no anything. Heck I was even standing at the starting line. Bobby and I were still standing back in the crowd talking. People just started running so we followed them.

Things started spreading out quickly. A few guys take off and I am running just ahead of Bobby. This one guy blows by us and soon catches up to the leaders. I made my way up to them, and hung out for a while.

Once we started hitting the hills, they were still pushing the pace a lot harder than I was planning. I backed off and let them go. At the top of the hill my quads were burning pretty bad which I knew was a bad sign when you are only 7 and ½ miles into a marathon. The downhill wasn't much help either because it was so steep. I was jamming my toes into the front of my shoes.

Finally, the road flattened out or at least compared to the first 7 miles it flattened out. Around 12 miles we made this turn on to a cart path which put us out on another road. This road took us across the border and into a WV where we made a tiny little loop. The ½ marathon finished here. My half split was about 1:24 and I felt terrible. While it was still cloudy the weather was warm and muggy. The sweat was not evaporating from my skin.

After this little side trip into WV we were back on the cart path. It may have actually been a road because a couple of cars came up and basically wanted me to move over so they could pass. What was I going to do? I moved over and let them pass. After I don't know how long on this cart path, it turned to gravel and then to a trail that looked like it had just been cleared. This was the part where it started thundering and raining. Maybe a mile and half on this trail we popped out on the back side of a golf course. There we proceeded to pick up this two foot wide and very well aged paved path. This part had a number up and down short steep hills. Maybe another 2 miles passed and I came to this swinging bridge. No, don't picture the swinging bridge at Grand Father Mountain. Think Ann Springs – that swinging bridge. Picture the one near the rest rooms that bounces with every step. Yep, a good old fashion swinging bridge. Let me tell you, it does wonders for your legs around 20 miles.

So with 20 miles in the bag, we were finally out on the open just rained on road with not a shade tree in sight. At this point, I was about as close to phoning this one in as I have ever been in a marathon. If I hadn't been in 3rd place, I probably would have. The sun was so hot that I actually got sun burned

Each mile became an agonizing challenge. This was made worse by me wearing my black CRC gear which seemed to not only absorb all of the sun's rays that hit it but also any rays of sunshine that came near it. It was hot.

Mile 21 passed then 22, then 23. I was told there was another big hill which I found at 23.5 mile. Technically, I was still running but it felt more like I was climbing stairs. This uphill tortured my quads, and then the ensuing downhill tortured the hamstrings.

I looked back 24.5 miles to see if anyone was near me. Honestly, even if there was I wasn't in any condition to hold them off. I was overheating badly and I knew it.

Finally, I turned on to 2nd Avenue and I knew I was almost home. I took one last look back to see if anyone was near. After running 26 miles, I don't want to get beat in the last 385 yards.

The clock was ticking to 3:06:48 as I crossed the finish line and slowed to a walk.

This nice older lady came up to me and asked if I was okay. I told her that I really needed to go set down. Vickie and Betty two very nice nurses started putting cold towels on me and offering me water and PowerAde.

In the next 2 hours I drank 4 bottles of water and nearly 2 20 oz bottles of PowerAde. I had wanted to change clothes so they pointed me to nearest restroom. And, they sent this guy lead me to it which was a good thing. I walked across the street and in the door. I felt dizzy and told him that I needed to set down.

Some more stuff transpired and I was back on the cot. The doctor was checking my blood pressure and pulse: 118 over 78 and 68 bpm. Also, he was playing 20 questions with me. Where are you from? How old are you? What is today? I was like "darn do I look that bad?". So of course, the county coroner walks up as well. Hey, look I am not dead yet.

The doctor tells them to load me with 2 IV bags. Short story, 20 minutes latter I was back on my feet and walking to my car. They had pumped a liter of IV solution directly into me. I will tell this. Once those two bags went in, it was like someone turned on the lights in a dimly light room. I might just start carrying my own IV bags and just bypass the stomach all together after my marathons.

Later I chatted with Bobby for a few minutes, ate some lunch, and then picked up my award. I strolled around to see the rest of the festival and finally decided to head home about 2:30 in the afternoon.

Running is about making memories and the Hatfield and McCoy Marathon is one that I will not forget anytime soon.


Thoughts from the Cool Down Runner



Thursday, June 9, 2011

Carolina Cycling Time Trial: Event 3 Recap 6.8.11

Rolling into Charlotte Motor Speedway last night, the track was hot. To be more specific the air temperature was hot but the track temperature was even hotter. The sun burns when it hits your skin, but the asphalt doesn't really burn but it just radiates the heat back up and into everyone. Imagine sticking your head into an oven with lots of humidity. This has to be how it feels to me.

Now, that you have a feeling for how hot it was, you should also know that I like it hot. To be more specific, I like it hot when I am cycling. Believe me, I wish I could explain it, but some reason I just feel better. Now, I wish it worked the same way when I am running, it doesn't. Except this is another story.

But back to my recap, picked up my number and started circulating the grounds. When first started riding at CMS, I didn't know anyone. Now, I walk around and find plenty of people that I know. It is like having two circles of friends – one that runs and one that cycle.

And, there is possible a third group. Since I have been doing some Multi Sport events, I am seeing some of those faces at CMS. During my warm up in the infield, Wes came up by side me. He and I have been going back and forth in the Duathlons lately. I lead during the first run, the he catches me during the bike, and then I try to catch him during the run again. Sometimes, it works and some time it doesn't. Let's just say Wes is fast on the bike.

My starting time was a little after 7 so as soon as they allowed the yellow bib number to roll out, I was headed toward the track.

Lining up 3rd in line, I made some final adjustments and pulled in to the starting slot.

Got my 15 second count down and I was off.

Normally, I try to churn in the biggest gear because this one would think would give the most speed. However, this is not always true. Last night, I stayed in the easier rings and just spun my legs off. By 5 miles, I was ahead of my previous best times this year and knew I just needed to hold it together for 5 more miles.

So resisting the urge, I continued to churn away until I got to mile 9.

Coming down the back stretch I shifted down to the smallest ring and starting digging in.

As you can see from the chart below, I maxed out at 30 mph and rode the entire last mile at an average of 27.5 mph. I would have to do some research but that has to be one of my fast last mile splits at the speedway ever.

The total elapse time was 23:58 which was 11 seconds slower than my best time ever at the speedway.

I finished with a few cool down miles on the infield, then packed up and headed home.

I was pleased with the effort. Although, I tell people that my bike is better than rider setting atop it. But I hope one day to be equal to it or at least close to equal to it.

Below are my splits and a break down from my Garmin for those interested




Hour:Minute:Second Time

Miles Distance

Miles per Hour Avg Speed

















































Summer Track WK2: Recap 6.7.11

Week 2 of the Summer Track Series rolled around and I found myself once again pulling into the parking lot at Myers Park High School. Going from the air conditioned car to the outside world is rough because the heat was its usual suffocating self.

My daughters decided to come along this week so in addition to my normal stuff, I was carrying all of the stuff that they needed. Sometimes, I feel less like a parent and more like a pack mule.

But I digress.

Clayton and I headed out for a few miles warm up around 6 PM. Mainly, we circulated around the Myers Park HS Campus before heading back to the track.

Next up, I did a few strides on the grass infield and then switched over to my flats. Put on my heart monitor and CRC singlet.

Tim was messing with us this week. He shifted the schedule around with the 6 minute and over mile being run before the 6 and under mile. At the time, my training plan for the evening seemed totally screwed.

Watching that 6 and over mile, I wished that I had jumped in. Running a preliminary race would have been good for me.

At 6:45 Tim and crew started lining us up for the mile. We followed the typical "waterfall" start. One big difference from last week to this week was the number of people running. The open mile was huge. There must have been 25 people running in this heat. Running was a little congested in the first 200 meters because everyone was jockeying for a position as near to the curb as possible.

About half way through, the feeling had already started to settle in that it wasn't my night. My legs just were not feeling it.

Leonard was running just ahead of me. My idea was "Let's catch up to him". Well, catch him "yes" and pass him "yes". Stay in front of him "No". Passing him appeared to wake up his competitive juices because a short time later he roared back by me and would put several seconds on me before the finish. Who knew that he was such a speedster.

But he wasn't the only speedster, while coming to the finish, Chuck suddenly comes roaring by me. Dudes definitely got a fast kick at the end. Where can I get a similar set of wheels.

Anyway, for my paltry efforts I netted a 5:17 mile which was 2 seconds slower than last week. Luckily, Bob Nelson had persuaded Tim to hold a 3 mile heat. I quickly jumped back in along with Stan to give Bob some support. Besides, this had been my plan from the start. This time, I closed with a 5:27 mile verses the 5:42 from last week. 5:17 and 5:27 were not that bad for back to back miles.

Was there some disappointment in not running at least a little faster? Yes. But then, the more I thought about it; my disappointment kind of dissolved away. After all, I am not doing any speed work and really have not done any mile/5k type speed work in a year.

Next week, Tim suggested they might break it up into 3 different mile runs with a 6 and over, 6 to 5:30, and 5:30 and under. I am already thinking about how I can slip into all 3 heats.

In full disclosure, I am put together several video piece as well as sharing my Garmin Connect info. Putting all of this together is a challenging and delays my post for a little longer, but it is kind of cool.

And, if you are interested, I posted photos for the night on face book.

Video 1 link


Video 2


Garmin Connect Info


Thoughts from the Cool Down Runner

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Is recovery time overrated?

A friend of mine Steve Spada posted a recap of his King Tiger 5k race yesterday. In his post he described his race and his training days leading up to race. Incidentally this was Steve's fastest race this year. But what stood out the most to me were not the hard efforts that he put in but the rest days that he took. And he took not one but two days and his body rewarded him with the strength to score a fast time.

I know personally I am all to guilty of training too hard and training through races only to be left wondering exactly why I cannot get my times down. I remember there was a time when I only ran 6 miles and 4 miles in the days leading up to a race. These days, I am lucky if I am not running a long run 2 days out and running at least 7 miles the day before.

Somehow this mindset has worked itself into my training plan that I need to train hard every day and that every day needs a purpose.

To answer the question in the title of this post, recovery time is not overrated and when given the proper rest, the body can do wondrous things. Steve's run last week was a great example and his example is we should remember to follow.


Thoughts from the Cool Down Runner


Monday, June 6, 2011

June Bug 5k Race Recap 6/3/2011

The June Bug 5k race at Frank Liske Park takes place on the first Friday of June each year. For those not familiar, the June Bug Race usually is the first of a series of Friday night races held in various towns on the eastern side of Charlotte. The course itself is a mixture of road (1/2 mile) and dirt paths (about 2.5 miles). Running on the dirt paths is a lot like running on the beach. There isn't much traction and a lot of energy is spent moving through the loose grit. In the numerous years that I have run this course I have never had a fast time on it. And with hot dry conditions all week, the dirt could easily have doubled for beach sand.

At the start there some familiar faces in the crowd, I talked with Tom and Diane for a few minutes. The starting line was different this year because of a change in the course. The Park and Rec resources were doing some construction around the back side of the lake. This meant that we would be running around the front side of the lake. The front section has a couple of rolling hills and a small single person foot bridge to cross.

Part of our prerace instructions included a warning that the passage over the bridge was to be single file.

Looking around at the start, I took note of all of the young faces. Not long ago, I looked around we were only separated by a few years. Then, it was two of their ages together added up to my age. Standing there Friday night, I realized I now had to add 3 of their ages together to equal my age.

But what I lack in youthful enthusiasm and raw speed, I try to make up for with wisdom.

These young high school runners love to go out fast from the start and easily put anywhere from twenty to thirty seconds on me. But the real race is handling the combination of the 90+ heat and navigating the loose dirt.

We hit the dirt path and I was 6 overall. These guys are running right up the center of the path in the loosest dirt of all while I am running along the edge searching for any place with traction. By the time we reached the top of the first hill, I was just about the catch the 2nd place guy.

With the first mile under our belts, the lead guy didn't look like he will be coming back and I am plenty happy running where I was. We headed down the hill and long the new section of the course and then across the foot bridge before picking up with the regular course again.

At this instant, the thought suddenly occurs to me. He is not pulling away and maybe just maybe I am closing the distance. We head through the back woods section and over along the fence which has always been my favorite section of the course. Definitely, the gap appeared to be closing but along the fence the gap just disappeared and I am pulling up right behind him. For the first time, he realized that I am closing on him. His instincts I guess were telling to pick it up, but now I am right on his shoulder. After just a few more strides I am pulling in front of him.

We head up the hill and back to finish line. As we are making the turns through the woods, I shift my line of sight to check see how close he is, but I don't see him. With comfortable feeling starting to settle in, I try to as efficiently as possible to cover the remaining race distance. This was not one of my fastest times, but this race was one of my wisest. I ran a controlled smart race and felt good the entire way.

After the race we warmed down together, I learned that he had not one but two brothers in the race and that he was taking a year off after graduating high school and before heading off to college on a running scholarship. We talked again at the awards ceremony and I suggested if he were interesting logging more miles check into the Charlotte Running Club. Everyone is welcome on our runs.

Before wrapping up this post, a shout-out needs to go to the Concord Park and Rec Dept. In this down economy, a road race could easily get cut from the budget, but somehow these guys continue to put on a fine race. Keep up the good work guys.

For anyone that is interested, once again I took my video sunglasses into a race. Here's a link to the edited footage on You Tube.

Or for those viewing this via my blog – see blow



Thoughts from the Cool Down Runner


Sunday, June 5, 2011

Trail running at its best

This morning Justin, Stan, Jinnie, Mike, Megan, Ben, and Meagan were out running at the Sherman Branch with me or I was running with them. It is all about perspective.

Anyway, after some trail running last year, I had pretty much put any and all trail running on hold so today was my first time back tackling the dirt, rocks, and roots.

Mike led us out and kept the pace quick but smooth. Let's just say that I was pretty tired by the time that we returned to the parking lot some 12 miles later. But the run was fun and it was good to have the shade of the trees to keep the rays of the sun at bay as well as great conversation.

As side from my body dripping with sweat there was this buck fly that chased me for about 8 miles. He was insisting upon flying right around my head. I kept wishing that he would fly off and pester someone else.

Oh by the way, before I forget Jinnie was walking Roxie on the trail, but she (not sure – correct me if I am wrong Stan and Jinnie) got loose from her leash and came chasing after us.

She's a dog that loves the trails that's for sure.


Thoughts from the Cool Down Runner

Friday, June 3, 2011

Unsettled Stomach

Almost everyone run I know has at one time or another experienced some stomach issues. If they were lucky, these issues occurred during a training run rather than a race.

As a runner, avoiding those situations if at all possible always seemed like the soundest approach. We defer eating anything too close to race and watch closely everything that we eat in days leading up to race. Personally, I have a set routine leading up my marathons and try to stick to it as closely as possible.

However, in an article that I was recently reading, a runner took quite the opposite approach. As I was reading it, I totally intrigued by his technique for handling stomach woes.

Like I was saying, I try to avoid these situations.

His approach was to embrace it. He would purposely try to eat foods that would ordinarily turn one's stomach upside down. For example, he would eat nacho just before going out on a run. The result was frequent stops, but that's not all.

The more he did it, the more his body learned to handle it and continue running. I don't have to tell you that usually once a runner's stomach starts rolling downhill, the end is near for any of his or her race ambitions.

But because this guy trained his body to adapt to the very worst, if he had a stomach episode occur on race day, he had learned to better handle it and push through.

I hope my explanation made sense and I didn't ruin anyone afternoon run. As for me, I am not sure if I am a huge advocate of his approach. I know training your body to handle difficult conditions is part of the process. However, I have never purposely set out to sabotage a workout.

Clearly, this would be his intent going into his workout. Maybe it is just my perspective on it.

But in the interest of sharing, I thought I would pass this along to all of my fellow runners. Feel free to try it and let me know your results. LOL.


Thoughts from the Cool Down Runner

Thursday, June 2, 2011

TrySports Group Ride

After several weeks of helping out with the group rides, last night I was free to ride. And what a ride it was.

Well, first let me back up and start from the beginning. Since I had been heavily in to training for Boston, riding my bike had pretty much secondary. There were no long rides. There no hard rides nothing. Most of the rides were just maintenance rides to get in some miles. So after Boston, I have had this feeling that I have been playing catch up. With almost every ride, I felt like I was dragging. I cannot really explain why. Other than to say, my cycling legs were taking a long time to come around.

Last night, I actually felt like I started to find my cycling legs.

The "B" group rolled out in what turned out to be a very large group. We were riding 2 by 2 and at one I counted about 10 seconds for all of us to pass through a red light. Yes, this was a very long chain of riders.

The pace was definitely faster than I was accustom to riding, but being buried back in the pack also meant that I was being pulled along.

The heat was bad waiting for the ride or when we stopped but while moving, I felt great.

Things were not entirely perfect. We did have one incident about 7 miles into the ride.

We were headed down this side road when a little dog came running right out into the road. One guy hit the dog but as he hit his brakes the guy behind him ran right into him. Both guys went down and across the pavement. Fortunately, neither were seriously hurt. They just had some small road rash. The dog jumped up and ran off. I don't think anyone was able to find him but he didn't appear to be injured. Some of the guys tried to find the owner but to no avail.

I was probably 20 yards behind when it happened and was already head wide toward the grass. If I have learned one thing from my previous crashes, it is that trying to stop only creates a situation for more riders to go down. I am better trying to steer through it if at all possible.

After this little incident, everyone was a little more cautious so the next miles were probably slower than they would have been otherwise. As we headed toward Waxhaw the pace picked up again. We typically stop for a few minutes at this fish restaurant just outside of Waxhaw but we stopped only for a minute yesterday.

Next up was this 2.5 mile hill climb. I settled into a small group of 5 or 6 guys and we were flying up the hill. When we reached the water tower which is another usual rest stop, everyone kept right on rolling.

Heading back down into Waxhaw, I had this feeling things were only going to get faster. And this is just what happened. I was pretty much the caboose at this point on the train but it didn't really matter the train was a fast moving train.

We caught the light green in Waxhaw which was probably a bad thing for the group. As we turned back across the tracks, Rob yelled something about the pace to guys on the front. There was some acknowledgment for maybe a mile and that was the last time I saw Andre or Rob until we got back to the store. Coming up Crane, we started to ride a pace line and catching the lights green. Between Marvin Ridge High School and TrySports Store time seemed to pass in a blink of an eye. Riding in a group that is working together requires total focus. Time and distance lose all value in the workout. It is just the effort that is important.

Before ending this story, no one should go away thinking this was a testosterone Wednesday night ride, we had some ladies taking part. There was one lady with a Cheerwine Jersey that was mixing it up. I remember because Cheerwine is a Jersey that I hadn't seen on the ride before.

Best of all it was a fast ride and everyone made it back alive.


Thoughts from the Cool Down Runner

Charlotte’s Summer Track Mile Recap 5/31/2011

Tuesday evening I was headed across Charlotte to do something that I hadn't done in several years – run in the Summer Track Series. I guess above all; I wanted to see what I can do on the track. After all, my marathon training has taken me far from the track.

My motivation was so high to run the series that I signed up for all 5 weeks.

Rolling out of my car at 5:45 PM, the heat hit me hard. Pretty much the same thought was on everyone else's mind as well.

I put in a couple of miles warm up and then headed back to the track to finish with some strides.

Confessing here, I had not real idea what I would be able to do. Matt told me that he was planning to run 80 second quarters which actually sounded pretty good. Still, getting through the first lap and seeing what the clock actually said was going to be my true indicator.

Tim marked off the start so that it was 1609 meters for the full mile. With a few prerace instructions and the firing of the starter's pistol, we were off. Going into the first turn and down the back stretch, my focus was on settling into a nice comfortable pace. The Paul and Aaron were going out pretty hard with Chad close behind. The rest of us were stringing out behind them.

My first quarter was 78. There was some shock at seeing the clock because the time was faster than expected. My breathing was a little more labored than expected and a far cry from marathon pace. By the end of the 2nd lap in 78 seconds and 2:36 for the half, my arms were starting to tighten up. Definitely, tight arms were not a good sign so my thought shifted to trying to run more relaxed. Down the back stretch and round the track for the 3rd lap, the clock said 3:56 or an 80 second lap. Slowing down 2 second doesn't seem like much but in a mile 2 second is huge. My final lap found Joshua pushing the pace as he passed me. Could I stay with him? No, it wasn't happening today.

He finished 2 seconds in front of me.

My time was 5:15 which honestly, I was very happy to run. For not having ran any speed work and to have felt pretty decent the entire way, 5:15 was a result that could grow into something maybe a little faster.

With my sunglasses in hand, here's some first person video of my race.


Thoughts from the Cool Down Runner

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Belmont Classic 5k Race Recap 5.28.11

After some friendly banter concerning race times and wagers with Brian Trotter on Facebook, I found myself headed toward Belmont Saturday morning to run the Belmont Classic 5k. A few years had passed since I last visited this race. Not being sure if I remember all of the turns on the course, I pulled up the race map the night before. At least it looked pretty much like the same course.

The mile marks on the road during my prerace warm up, had me confident that I knew where I was going.

With no bike to setup, I found myself ready for the race in plenty of time. This was good of course because there were some familiar faces in the crowd: Diane, Richard H, Michael H. and of course Brian. And with every race I try to make some new friends. I got to shake a lot of hands with the Gaston Running Club members. I recently joined their Facebook group and haven't regretted it for a minute.

From what I hear, one runner in particular - Michael McWhirter – seems to be turning lots of heads. Michael W. has only been running a short time but his times are dropping faster than an ice cube turns to water on a hot August day. I also met another runner from Belmont that reads my blog. Unfortunately, I don't remember his name or his daughter's name. If you are reading this blog, remind me please. LOL.

Dennis from Queen City Timing was running the timing services and was pointing us toward the starting line. The Police Department of Belmont organized this race so we would head off on their siren. They didn't give us any real warning just the siren and we were off.

The two Michaels jumped out in front of me.

For the first ½ mile or so I was just feeling things out. How was the body feeling? Who was looking to push the pace? This is the usual stuff that I go through every race. I have expected Chad C. and his wife to come flying up to the start. Chad had run this race the last couple of years, but I found out later that he headed down to McAlpine. Thanks Chad. I owe you one.

By the time we hit Main Street, they were letting me get in front. At the moment, I wasn't sure if this was the best thing for me or not. The last race Michael H. and I did, he put a serious hurting on me at Turkey Trot 8. Thus, I was a little worried that he might be playing some games with me.

The first mile passed in 5:38. My breathing was a little more labored than I would like. The next mile was mostly flat and I covered it in 5:34. The final mile has a couple of nasty hills which cut into my efforts. I was only able to manage a 5:40 over the last mile.

I finished with a time of 17:45 on my Garmin with a distance of 3.15 to grab a win.

Not long after I finished, Brian comes flying across the finish in 4th place. Before the race I had spotted him 2 minutes. He ran 19:53 so I won our friendly little wager by 8 seconds. Honestly, this was too close for comfort. If we have a future wager, I am going to ask for more time for sure.

In case you are interested in watch me run this race. Honestly, I never find that it gets old to chase a police car since it is usually the other way around. If you are interested in watching, here's the link


Thoughts from the Cool Down Runner.