Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Breaking down a race

The mind is one of the most complex parts of our bodies which might explain why we as runners tend to over think any task set before us. This can be especially true of racing. Sometimes the sheer size of the effort can seem daunting.

When I feel like this is happening, I break things down into smaller and more easily manageable tasks. This way I don't feel like I have the whole task to accomplish at once. Also by using this method, my progress is easier to realize and thus, confidence is easier to attain. And, we all know that confidence is truly one of the key factors in our overall success.

Breaking down a race is fairly easy to do as long as it makes sense to the person doing it.

Let's take for example, my Greekfest 5k this past weekend. Going into the race, I broke the race down into three parts: the first ½ mile, the next 2 miles, and then the last ½ mile plus the .1. During the first ½ mile I wanted to get out fast but controlled. During the 2 miles I wanted to push my heart rate up nearly to the max threshold. And for the last ½ or so hang on and sprint to the finish.

Each part has its own nuances. Getting out fast but controlled is somewhat dependent on the people running around you. One can only go out so fast unless you are willing to run over someone. On the other hand if you get close to front, you can actually get pulled out too fast which will make it incredible difficult to recover. Finding the sweet at the start is really important.

The two middle miles are a little easy to stay with the strategy because other runners tend to spread out and I will most likely be running around people of a similar pace.

The last ½ mile or so maybe the hardest of all three parts to execute perfectly because this is the section where I will most likely feel my worst. My breathing will be labored. My arms and legs are beginning to burn. And my brain is telling my body that it will all stop as soon as I reach the finish line so hurry.

After crossing a junction point between any two parts, I forget about the last and I concentrate on the next part. And, I don't worry about the parts that lay further ahead. Also when I complete a part, I press the reset button and take stock of how I am running and continue forward into the next part. I do this all the way to the finish line.

Now, some else may break the race down differently and run it differently. Essentially, we all have the goal to race the finish line as fast as humanly possible.

I have used this strategy for all of my races and the majority of my harder workouts – especially if it is a tempo run.

Btw – I consider this a parity on the "KISS" method a.k.a. "Keep it simple stupid"

Hope this gives you a little something to add to racing strategy this fall.



Thoughts from the Cool Down Runner



Sunday, August 28, 2011

Greekfest 5k – Recap 8.28.11

Passing by the mile point, Spada was just in front of me and Jim was about 25 meters in front of both of us. Both lungs were screaming for air as fast it could be inhaled. Each leg was sending back signals that they were nearing their limit. Then, my eyes wondered just ahead of Steve and what do I see, but David Dye running right in front of us. That's 3 strong Master's Runners and where did David come from anyway? No sign of him at the start or warming up. Maybe he just jumped in the race somewhere on the Dilworth speed loop. But no time too really think about it only signals from my brain to push and keep pushing harder.

That's pretty much a summary of my race.

I posted on Facebook that I was heading out for a course preview around 6:45 race morning. Heading down East Blvd Steve pulled alongside and we ran our warm up together.

As usual the Greekfest 5k brings out everyone in Charlotte. All were looking for a fast time after a hot summer of hard training.

The start was crowded with runners stretching all the way across East Blvd. Chad and Billy were right on the starting line. They looked to continue their Grand Prix series duel.

Tim yells "go" and everyone surges forward. Going down East Blvd runners were starting to stretch out in front of me. Carolyn and Alice came roaring by me. Looking down at my legs, I wondered when they were going to get moving.

Steve's outfit was pretty easy to pick out among the runners ahead of me so I focused on trying to make up some ground.

Around the Dilworth speed loop, I was getting closer to Steve. By the mile, I was running off his shoulder. Then, David came next. Kingston Ave is just uphill enough to make it hurt. A brief glace over my shoulder, I thought it was Steve there.

But my focus was on trying to catch Jim. Left turn on to Lyndhurt Ave. the slight downhill wasn't much help. Then heading down E. Worthington Ave, the 2 mile point loomed just ahead. Time was running out to make any type of move so the last of my energy reserves were thrown at my legs. Any unused heart beats were directed in the same direction. All systems were at critical with the turn on to the Dilworth speed loop again.

Finishing the speed loop and turning left E. Blvd a core meltdown was starting to occur. Even thou, the distance between us was closer, close is only helpful in horse shoes.

On top of it, my legs had nothing left and were simply turning over. Then, the wind was blowing into our faces heading up E. Blvd toward the finish. Think – "wading through water while towing an ocean liner".

Adam flew by me on the way to the finish. Clearly, his legs had the speed needed for a fast finish.

A couple of other guys passed me as well.

The clock for me finally stopped at 17:16. That's good enough for 14th OA and 2 Male Master. And for the first time in 3.14 miles, my breathe finally caught up to me in the finish corral.

Thinking about the race I was pleased with my effort. Another stone was put in place with this race in what will hopefully be another successful marathon training plan.



Thoughts from Cool Down Runner



Friday, August 26, 2011

Brooks Run Happy Cavalcade of Curiosities Tour

An email arrived in my inbox asking if I was interested in helping with the Brooks Run Happy Cavalcade of Curiosities Tour last week. Not much convincing was needed to get me on board. After all, I would be getting the opportunity to spend several hours helping out at a running event all the while talking "running". This sounded like something right up my alley.

With a few email exchanges I was all set. The event ran this past weekend during the afternoon so I arrived a few minutes early to meet the guys from Brooks and find out what I would be doing.

Pretty simple stuff, they gave me a table with a bunch of Brooks stuff: bandana, stickers, ear buds, shirts, and hats on it. As people came by I offered them an opportunity to enter a drawing for 2 to any "Rock and Roll" marathon of their choice. Then, I scanned their entry to see what they won something that day. There were the items that I described above. In addition, they could win a pair of Brooks running shoes of their choice or a head to toe fitting shoes, socks, shorts, and shirt. That was grand price and unfortunately, I didn't give one them away, but I did give away some shoes.

As I understood it, the Brooks has this Tour bus going around the country. Some of the stuff they have on display in the bus was kind of cool. Several pairs of really out there shoe designs. A couple of displays showing the different components going into Brooks shoes – among other items. After talking a peek at this stuff, I headed to the top of the bus where the Brooks guys provided a gait analysis to the runner coming by for "free of charge". Very interesting process, gait analysis is more than just watching someone run. Really, there is a lot of interpretation involved. Then, there is the guidance provided to the runner which helps get them into the right running shoe.

Throughout the event I kept expecting to see people that I knew but strangely, I only saw one – Chad R. came by during the evening. The other surprising thing is how many of these people are really new to running. We talked about everything from running, training plans, courses around the Huntersville to which marathon they were doing this fall. The enthusiasm was so strong that it flowed throughout the building. More than a few people thought I was part of the Brooks traveling tour and were surprised that I lived just down the road them and was running many of the roads and back streets as they were. Just image it really is a small world.

At one point, I did get a chance to slip out side and check out Jordan's Nuun booth. He had a bunch of different flavors and I tried them all. On side note, I liked it enough that I bought a bottle but more about this later in another post.

I was actually a little sad to see the day come to an end. This was an awesome experience. I was glad that I agreed to do it. Too bad the Brooks Tour was only in Charlotte two days. They had a lot of stuff to check out. Maybe they will be back again.


Thoughts from the Cool Down Runner

Thursday, August 25, 2011

10,000 Hour Rule – my follow up

After I posted my comments concerning the 10,000 rule, Young and Spada made a reference to a book my Malcolm Gladwell called "Outliers". Not having heard of the book, but I was intrigued by their comments and went off to learn more about it. This past weekend, I picked this book up at Barnes & Noble.

I was not sure what to expect but I jumped right in. Reading a book with my eyes wide open is the best way to read any book. Accepting facts and listening to arguments made and then judging for one 's self if the material makes sense.

And an interesting book it is.

Mr. Gladwell provides explanation of what he sees as "Outliers" in society. This could be a single individual, family, or group. For that matter, it can be an entire culture.

At this point, I feel like I need to give a definition or better yet a translation of what an "Outlier" is but really I am not sure if it is possible. Being an Outlier doesn't necessarily mean that a person is smart, rich, or even successful. I guess if I have to give a definition, it would be a person who has an extreme appreciation for something – being that it could be skill, trade, and/or even knowledge. Or it could be something else entirely. Maybe the best definition is that the person is really good at what they do.

When I wrote my original post, it was in reference to once a person has performed a task or process for 10,000 hours (in my case running). This person could then think of themselves as an expert. I mean one would think after so many hours of performing this single rote action no matter how complex that action might be; this person would know the most efficient way of accomplishing that action. Now whether that is actually true or not is highly debatable I am sure.

Am I am expert in running after 10,000? This is probably even more debatable. Am I an expert at Software Development? Maybe not an expert but very experienced – "Yes".

In reading Mr. Gladwell's book, one is left with much to ponder. Following the theories outlined in this book - being born in the mid-60s, in the latter half of the year, in rural West Virginia, moving further into the south, and being an American, I'm not sure how I made it this far in life. But of course I might be too close and not seeing the forest for the trees. I do see some things thou. I had teachers that encouraged me. There were coaches that pushed me. Opportunities came for me to go to college and have a career much different from my parents. Maybe I just need to look at my cup as half full instead of half empty.

But is an Outlier truly the person born at the right time, in the right place, to the right family and only needing to connect the dots long their highly successful life. Maybe the true Outliers are the people that go against the statistics that they say they shouldn't be successful. And, who I am to say what is successful.

Success is not really something that is easily measureable in my opinion. Each person has their own "yardstick" for calculating their success and thus how they truly measure up. Furthermore, only they are in a position to do this self analysis.

All I really know is that come tomorrow morning I will get up, lace up my running shoes, run, come home, go to work, and write the best software possible for the company that employees me. Of this I am certain. For the rest of it, I will be keeping an open mind.


Thoughts from the Cool Down Runner





Wednesday, August 24, 2011

12 x 600 meters

This morning Megan and I were churning laps around Lake McAlpine. Roughly the distance around the lake is about 600 meters. Really, it is long enough to make it hurt but not long enough to make either of us want to stop.

We started with a 6 mile warm at just under 8 minute pace.

Each of the 600s was followed by 200 meter recovery. To keep me on track, my goal was to keep my heart rate in check around 165 bpm.

For the first 5 intervals I worked really hard getting my heart rate up and was coming home in about 164 to 165. As I wanted, this was pretty much on target for me. Megan was finishing right behind me. Over the next 6, she was doing much better. I would start the interval by leading out but with about 200 meters left, she would pull through and finish it off.

Once my heart rate hit 165, I had settle-in and finish out the interval. Where she started a little slower which gave her some extra room to finish out each interval strong.

On the last one, I pushed a little harder getting my heart rate up to 171 and ran the last 600 about 5 to 6 seconds faster than all of the previous ones.

Afterwards Megan examined each interval on her Garmin and read off our average pace for each one. Our average pace across the intervals was approximately 5:45 per mile .

Taking all things into perspective, this was a good workout. I am still a couple of months out from OBX, but the legs are beginning to handle both the extra miles and the harder miles.

Think positive and "Just Run"


Thoughts from the Cool Down Runner

Monday, August 22, 2011

Ordinary Runners

Want to know how to make yourself feel like just ordinary runner? Well, the answer to this question is pretty simple. Just register for a race, show up on race day, and suddenly you are surrounded by the nicest, friendliest, healthiest group of like minded people that you will find any were on this planet. All of you sharing an undemanding goal of going for a run.

Sometimes the simplest goals are the best. Leave the complexity of things to the other chores in your life.



Thoughts from the Cool Down Runner

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Long Run Sunday

Mike usually makes the long solo trip down to Charlotte for his long runs with us so when he asked if anyone was willing to come out the Concord way, I said "yes". We met next to Star Bucks' near downtown Concord. Personally, I think Mike does this so he has a carrot to finish his runs out quickly.

I rolled into the parking lot just before 6 am and we rolling out shortly thereafter. Mike knows all of the back roads and water stops. He even plans a restroom break along the course. The first half is tough but the 2nd made up for it.

We cruised through the first 10 miles in a little over 81 minutes and pulled it back over the 2nd half of the course with a 75 minute effort. We finished overall with a 2:36 effort. In my opinion, this was a nice effort for a warm August Sunday morning run.

I just wanted to pass this along because if you get a chance, head up Mike's way for an early morning tour of Concord. Definitely, it is worth the drive.


Thoughts from the Cool Down Runner

Saturday, August 20, 2011

ITT and TTT Recap

On Wednesday night, we had the Team Time Trial for our TrySports Team at Charlotte Motor speedway. This year I had been making inquiries since early in the year. My focus had been on building a team with members either directly or indirectly involved with TrySports. Luck was with me because Meredith, Justin, and Jeremy decided to risk life and limb to ride this 10 mile time trial.

To share a little personal thought here, back in March when I started making inquiries for other teammates, riding this time trial sounded like a really good idea. Standing on pit road just after 9pm a straddle my bike, I had that sinking feeling like I was a little over matched. It is the feeling that says this is going to hurt so run away now and avoid the pain. Unfortunately, I am not smart enough to run away from these situations I have to face my stress head on – no backing down and no backing away.

I guess the feeling was a holdover from the ITT. I had ridden 24:42 which is not a bad effort, but I just was not feeling great and didn't seem to be having the legs for a big effort. During the ITT, I thought I managed my effort well and ridden smoothly and evenly throughout.

As the 4 of us were warming up, my legs felt gassed but I thought the sluggishness would pass once my legs started moving again.

Of course, there were a number of thoughts resonating through my head. I had ridden with Jeremy several times, so I had a good idea of what to expect. But while Meredith and Justin are fellow Ambassadors at TrySports, we have never ridden together. So before we started, I asked what they average during their races – Meredith 21 mph and Justin 22 mph for an Ironman. 21 mph and 22 mph - really for an Ironman – that's 112 miles of riding after freakin swimming 2 ½ miles and knowing that you still have to run 26.2 miles. That's just awesome.

Back to the starting line, I led us off. Jeremy followed me. Justin was next followed by Meredith.

I pulled us through the first turn and down the back stretch. Jeremy took over as our rotation began. I was learning really fast. Meredith and Justin ride their TT bikes all of the time and it shows. They bodies and their bikes acted as one. Not leaving Jeremy out, he is pretty decent on his bike as well.

In the TTT, everyone must stay together and the third man inline scores for the team. If a team drops a man, they have one lap to reconnect or drop off the track. I made it through 7 miles. At which point, I had not only crossed the red line (max heart rate), but the line had disappeared in the distance behind me. There was no way I was going to keep up so I pulled over the infield and became our cheering section. My Garmin was registering speed in excess of 30 mph.

If I couldn't keep up, I would at the very least yell encouragement when they passed by me.

Justin, Meredith, and Jeremy would go on to ride 22:21 which is pretty darn fast. Our team would finish 8th overall among the 15 open teams with accumulative ages above 160. That's the category we were registered.

In '10 I did my first team time trial and learned at lot. This year, I learned even more and they say that the third time is the charm.

Maybe next March I was check in with Justin, Meredith, and Jeremy about doing another TTT-II edition. And, now that I know how each of them rides, I also know that I better spend more time on my TT bike next year. "Ride like the wind Bulleye" – a quote from Toy Story.


Thoughts from the Cool Down Runner




4 x 10 minutes with 3 minute recovery

I was up and out the door early Thursday morning to meet Megan for some up tempo running at McAlpine. The plan for the day was 4 x 10 minutes @ roughly 85% of max heart rate workout which was to be followed by a 3 minute recovery between each interval. Assuming we were running around 6 minute pace, we would be covering a little more than 6 miles at a solid pace during this workout.

We started over by Harris Blvd and ran together for about 9 minutes of the first interval. Meg slowed just a little to keep her heart rate in check.

The 2nd interval headed up toward Old Bell. Pretty much the same situation happened during this interval. Although, Megan did mention that during this interval we clipped off the mile around 5:50 pace. My body was telling me that it felt harder. This was partly due to my having rode both the individual time trial and the team time trial at the speedway the night before. Just because the bike doesn't pound the body like running, it does mean that it hadn't dipped into my energy reserves. It had and I was starting to feel it.

For the 3rd interval, we headed around upper Boyce. I took the lead going up the hill but my heart rate started pushing upwards. This meant, l had to let Megan gap me to pull back my heart rate. Low and behold, while circling through upper Boyce, we saw one her neighbors who let me know that I shouldn't be letting her beat me. I was thinking "let nothing, you should try chasing her up and down these hills. If I could keep up, I would". I was just thinking it and not thinking it out loud. LOL.

The 4th interval was run over lower Boyce and my fatigue was now starting to creep through. In addition, with the recent rain lower Boyce has some rough terrain. Megan probably opened about 25 meters during these rough sections. My legs don't like the dips and gullies.

So coming out back on the main path, I had a few beats to give. Let's see if I can run her back down. I watched first 1 beat more. Then, it was 2 beats more. Hummmmmmm, I was not closing and possibly I was losing ground.

That's about the time; the thought crossed my mind that Megan might just be exceeding our 85% agreement. Ok, now the gloves come off.

With the 85% agreement off the table, I was not losing any more distance and in fact, I was gaining, but it was costing me. The effort was starting hurt more than I wanted.

By time I closed all of the distance, my heart rate was running closer to 95% of my max rate. Fortunately, we only had 1 more minute left in the interval and I was able to hang on to her.

My reason for sharing this experience is for a couple of different reasons.

First, it makes for an interesting workout to run with someone where the objective is not to maintain a certain pace but a certain effort based on their heart rate. Because one's heart rate can be affected by more than just the current workout, you could find yourself running ahead of someone who is much faster. Thus, this creates a new dynamic for the workout.

The 2nd reason is one that I find far more interesting. Megan and I are separated not only by ability (she is definitely better), but by age, gender, experience, and miles logged. Yet, during workouts our heart rates track fairly closely. I have no real explanation for it and to be honest, I wonder if it was true for other people as well.

Anyway, if you and buddy want to try it – just put on your heart monitors and have a gentlemen's agreement about the % and off you go.

There is an old saying "sometime you have to slow down to go fast". It is as if this saying was tailor made for this workout.



Thoughts from the Cool Down Runner



Sunday, August 14, 2011

Rain and Thunder

I agonized about where to run this morning so much so that I just got up and went out the door. 70 degrees, rain coming down, and thunder roaring in the back ground were what welcomed me as I took my first steps.

There is something to be said for rainy summer time runs. Wearing only running shoes, shorts, and a hat I didn't have much to get wet. But then, I didn't have much to keep me warm. That's where the 70 degrees comes in. The cool temps were chilly but not too cool for running.

The shoes weighed a ton or felt like they weighed a ton from stomping through more puddles than I can count. Funny, the sound my shoes made this morning was pretty much the same as when I was running along with the temperature in the upper 90s – "swish, swish, swish". Ironic isn't it. All water ends up in the bottom of my shoes.

However, just after the 10 miles the clouds broke and the sun popped through to start the drying or should I say the baking process. My shorts dried fairly quickly but my shoe soaking would last well past me finishing my 20 miles. In fact, my shoes are in front of the "frig" right now drying out.

All things considered I would take a day like this over any of those cold freezing rainy runs that Nathan, Jeff, or Mike have put in with me. Those were some miserable days when only three things help me get through them "someone counting on me for the run, and guts and determination".


Thoughts from the Cool Down Runner


Tour De Elvis 5k – Race Recap 8.12.11

On what would turn out to be a pretty decent week of training would be capped off by a Friday night race in Albemarle, NC. Yes, after a somewhat disappointing effort at Blue Points, I was back on the roads Friday night to see what this old and tired body would give me.

The Tour De Elvis 5k is in its second year of existence. Not sure whose brain child this was to combine running with an opportunity to celebrate Elvis's Birthday but as far as I can tell most runners liked the idea. And how could anyone celebrate Elvis's Birthday without his favorite foods: PB and Bananas sandwiches, pizza, and Jelly Donuts. Well, it would be minus the Jelly Donuts this year. I think Peter said that he forgot to get them.

The rain has rolled through the area earlier in the evening so the temperatures were down in the mid 70s, but it didn't do a whole lot for the humidity. But what else is new. Summer time in the south, I expect it to be hot and humid.

Similar to last year, the several of the county XC coaches brought their teams out for preseason test. Standing at the start is looking at my self 30 years ago. I had a long and lanky frame and was trying to figure out what this running stuff was all about.

The start has a split in the middle for some trees which is kind of strange for a road race, but maybe even stranger is the fact that all of the XC runners lined up on one side and all of the older runners were on the other side.

The race was delayed a few minutes while they sorted out some issues but soon we were off. The first ½ mile is essentially flat and a lot of XC runners were bunched on the front.

I was running alongside Andrew. Andrew is a former runner from Stanley County and I believe now runs for Wingate.

I digress for a moment here to describe Andrew wardrobe. Andrew was doing his best Elvis impersonation. He had raised up hair, a silver long sleeve costume shirt, and white running tights. He had to be overheating in all of that clothing.

So we hit the first turn and the course starts up hill. Tour De Elvis 5k is much like Blue Points if it were started and finished on Kenilworth.

By the mile a few of the XC were still hanging tough but Andrew was making a move to pull away. I was doing my best impersonation of his shadow and trying to stay with him.

By two miles Andrew opened a couple of seconds' gap on me and try as might, I couldn't get my legs to turn over any faster.

I was using every trick in the book that I knew to keep it close, but Andrew kept looking over his shoulder to gauge the distance.

During the last mile, I made one last big push but nothing doing, Andrew had me by 5 or 6 seconds at the line.

My splits were something like 5:38, 5:33, 5:23, and .46 over 3.16 miles for a nice little 17:23 and 2nd overall. Actually, this was a bit of surprise. Maybe Blue Points was just my way of getting the rust blown away. After all, I hadn't run a 5k in a while and the body and mind both seemed to have a lot of rust built up.

Even more interesting it would be is if I can blow off some more rust in time to run well at the Greek Fest 5k.

In wrapping up this post, I have to give Peter and Dave Freeze major props. The timing and scoring was done old school style with finisher cards by Dave and his team.

And Peter, well, Peter doesn't just put on races; he puts on events. I guess that is why I drive over to do his races.



Thoughts from the Cool Down Runner


Friday, August 12, 2011

10,000 hours of running – Am I an expert yet?

Recently on a long run, Mark Hadley made a comment about being an expert once someone does a specific task 10,000 times. Later on TV, I heard someone else using a similar analogy about 10,000 hours of work before they were considered an expert. This got me thinking and googling (googling is now a word. isn't it?) the internet to see what the 10,000 hour rule actually meant.

It seems some long years ago that some guy did a study with violin students. From the study he concluded that those students practicing 10, 000 hours were pretty darn good. Actually, I guess he considered them really good because he labeled them experts. Students who practiced 8,000 hours were considered good while students who practiced only 5,000 hours were considered average. And, I am guessing that students that practiced less than 5,000 hours were, well, let's just say hard on the ear and leave it at that.

Meanwhile, once he concluded his study, he took the results and look to see if those same standards would apply to other disciplines. And, sure enough, he saw a similar trending nature.

So what does this mean to me?

Hummm, was I an expert at running? Have I run for 10,000 hours? Both are very good questions.

Since I have been running a long time – since 1983 and running every day since 1986, I must have a fair amount of hours already under my belt.

Since I have not tracked every run through the years, I don't have a definitive number of hours run. Therefore, I have to make some assumptions. My first assumption is that I averaged an hour of running every day. And, I started my calculations from 1986 since I wasn't running every day between 1983 and 1986. Thus, I have roughly accumulated 9125 hours in 25 years of running – give or take a few minutes.

This leaves me a little short of my 10,000 hour expert status, but it does mean that in a little over 2 and ½ years, I will reach that level. Then, I will be a "Running Expert".

On an interesting side note, not everyone adheres to the 10,000 hour rule. Some people become proficient and reach expert status in much less time. At some point, I guess ability i.e. talent enters the picture.



Thoughts from the Cool Down Runner




Thursday, August 11, 2011

TrySports as a new Sheriff in town

Last week, the "B2" had a new group ride leader – a woman. Now before you go shooting me down, let me tell the story.

I was leading the "C" group last week, so I wasn't on her ride and didn't even ask how it went.

This week, I decided on joining the "B2" just to check things out.

Definitely things were different.

To level set, I have been riding the TrySports group rides for 2 years now. I don't recall there ever being a woman lead the "A" or "B" groups. Women in the rides, yes, but lead no.

To add some perspective to the story, group rides can somewhat resemble the characteristics of a lawless old Wild West town. Pretty anything goes and the town a.k.a ride is ruled by the fast and strong. Everyone else hangs on for the ride.

TrySports advertises their group rides go at a certain pace. By and large, this is true. At least it is true for most of the ride.

Typically toward the end, everyone gets strung out as the faster/stronger riders continue to push the pace along. Then, there is the few that like to sprint out ahead of the group.

Now, in the interest of full disclosure, I have done this time to time. Chasing and pushing each other is all part of the improvement process. But these behaviors also disrupt the group ride and make it incredibly hard for people to stay together as the group expands and contracts. I have been on both ends of the situation. Smooth even rides take far less out of me than a surge, recover, and then surge again. Too much of the surge and recovery causes some riders to get dropped along the way.

Anyway, last night she wasn't having any of it. I guess the "Cool Aid" that Justin and Rob gave her was to have a nice steady pace group ride. So when guys went sprinting off, or not holding their line, or would cut in front of her to pull the group along, she "barked" at them. From what I heard, there wasn't anything harsh but she was making her points clear. If I stop and think about it, some of things they were doing can be downright dangerous.

Partly, the "barking" might be about getting respect. Anyone new to a situation has to establish respect and I suspect this is even harder for women than men. Although, I don't know if another guy would have gotten away with it. There might have been some serious "jawing".

In all honesty, she was doing all the right stuff and I have to admit it is probably long overdue.

We all want hard safe ride. Given that she may continue leading this ride, I suspect there were some guys that stop coming out but for every one that leaves, there will be another that finds these rides to their liking and stay.

As for me, I am staying. After running 16 miles in the morning, a steady paced 33 miles on the bike in the evening matches my needs perfectly.


Thoughts from the Cool Down Runner

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

3 sets of 4 reps - uphill

With my normal Wednesday training partner on the bench with an injury, I was left trudge ahead alone on this workout.

Our plan had been something faster but flatter.

Going solo that all changed. I morphed the workout into 3 sets of 4 reps - all of course on a gentle sloping hill.

First, there was 4 x ½ mile uphill with same recovery. This was followed by 4 x ¼ mile uphill with same recovery and I finished it off with 4 x 1 minute uphill with an equal distance recovery.

My motivation was low going out the door, but once I got rolling, I actually felt better. The temperature was down but more importantly the humidity was down.

I was also helped by the man checking the sprinkler system in the park. He turned them on about ½ through my workout. There is nothing like running through cool water on a hot morning.

I totaled out at 16 miles with a lot of good speed reps and lots good hill reps. 4 is actually quite a good number. Just enough reps get the engine turning over and not enough to mentally drag down the workout.



Thoughts from the Cool Down Runner

Saturday, August 6, 2011

71 biking miles today

After a discouraging effort at Blue Points 5k, I came home, loaded up my bike with water bottles, and headed out the door.

Sometime, I just need to get these things out of my system.

71 hot, sweaty, tiring miles later, I was pulling back in my drive.

I had not planned on riding that far. But I am glad it happened.

Everyone has their own way of working out their problems. Me, I workout and it is sometimes to the extreme.

But when I come back, the problem is behind me and no longer an issue that I need to mentally agonize over.

I am ready to move on.

20 miles tomorrow morning is up next.



Thoughts from the Cool Down Runner

Blue Points 5k Recap – 8.6.2011

If my legs could talk, I often wonder what they would say. This morning they certainly did some talking and in all honesty, I didn't like what they had to say. First, they complained about running down hill too hard on Stonewall and then they threw up objection after objection going up Morehead St. In fact, the only good thing they had to say was "Yes" when I crossed the finish line.

That's pretty much how my day when.

Even thou, we were running downhill, I felt like I was landing in sand. The quads were just not responding. I just hoped that going up Morehead would be better. It wasn't. The climb up Kenilworth took me right to the edge. I made right hand turn pretty felt like I was finished. First, mile was 5:26, 2nd mile was 5:42, and the third mile was 6:12. Put it all together and I got an 18 minute and 20 second 5k effort.

No excuses, I just didn't get it done today.

That's the bad part.

The good part is that I was racing in Charlotte again and it was a regular "who's who" of people that I know. And, not just people racing but people watching the race.

There is just something about hearing my name that keeps me going when everything else is telling me to quit.

To those people yelling for me I want to say "Thank You", "I really appreciate your cheers and screams", and "Yes, it does make me run a little harder".



Thoughts from the Cool Down Runner

Thursday, August 4, 2011

TrySports “C” Group Ride

Yesterday evening, I was hanging out talking to some of the guys before our TrySports Wednesday evening ride when Andre rode over. Not sure what happened, but he asked if I would be up for leading the "C" group. "Sure", I was planning on riding with the "B1" group, but helping new guys get started with group rides is just as important. After all, there was a time when I was new to group riding and someone took the time to teach me the rules of the road. Some things just need to be passed on.

Usually, there are 4 groups going out of TrySports on Wednesday evenings.

There is an "A" group which rides about 23+ mph. I image it is a pretty tough ride. Although I have yet to commit to one of these rides mainly because it is usually a small group. The smaller the group, the harder it is to hang on when someone throws in a big surge. To my knowledge, this group probably rides around 35 to 37 miles.

The "B1" usually rides around 21 to 22 mph and is much larger. Usually, there are one or two guys that keep the pace nice and high while the rest of us hang on (at least that's how I interpret it). Because the group is larger than the "A" group, there is less chance that I will get dropped.

Getting dropped is not bad thing. Some days, it does happen. But in order to improve, I have to stretch myself and only by trying to get in to these faster groups will I ever ride faster myself.

The "B2" group comes next. To back up for a second, when we started in the spring, there were 3 groups: "A", "B", and "C" . Over the summer as people grew stronger and more people started coming out on Wednesday night, the "B" group's numbers swelled. So much so, we looked like we had our own race going down Rea Road. That's when Rob and team decided to split things up.

So the "B2" group was created and averages about 19 to 20 mph. The "B1" and "B2" group are usually about equal in size. Both the "B1" and "B2" groups ride about the same distance 31 to 33 miles. They ride the same courses and stop in the same places.

One thing I have found is that the "B1" and "B2" groups tend to stay together for the majority of the ride. Only in the final miles where the stronger riders are still pushing the pace does it occasionally split.

The "C" group rides an average of 16 to 17 mph and covers about 19 to 21 miles. I have seen this group be quite small and at other times quite large. Truly, this is the best place to start learning about riding in a group. The pace is not nearly as hard and we regroup along the course. It also gives people the opportunity to ride next to someone which is considerably different than riding solo

So yesterday, we headed out. On the flats sections, I pulled us along at 17 to 18 mph. On the downhills, we let the pace roll a little faster - say 20 to 22. On the uphills, I took it nice and easy - say 13 to 15 mph. The uphills are where most people struggle. And, we stopped at the usual points to regroup.

We finished with 21 miles in the books and averaged about 17 and ½ mph. But more importantly, we had a nice safe, fun ride – no one crashed or fell down and we were courteous to the drivers.


Thoughts from the Cool Down Runner


Wednesday, August 3, 2011

12 x 400 plus 4 x 200

"O" I feel the need for speed or at least this was the thought resonating through my mind as I headed for the PDS track this morning. Let me assure everyone that I tried to "kick the tires and light the fires" another quote from the movie "Top Gun", but there wasn't much smoke coming out.

The first interval was a sluggish "felt like running through sand" 1:27. This was followed by a series of 1:25s, then 1:24s, 1:23s, and finished off with a 1:21 12th interval.

The final 4 x 200 intervals were solid but not real fast. Honestly, after 12 x 400, the tank was nearly dry and I was coasting home on empty.

But on the bright side, this was a workout to start the ball rolling.

With every mountain to climb, the first steps up hill are always difficult. The body begins the tricky transition from logging easy miles to dealing with the difficult steps as the intensity slope tilts upward.

"So it begins" is another quote from the 90s movie "Robin Hood Prince of thieves"



Thoughts from the Cool Down Runner



Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Video Recorder Sunglasses

Since I first posted a video taken captured with my sunglasses, other runners have asked just one question. What did I use to capture the video?

With so many people asking, I thought I would finally share where I got them and what I have learned from wearing them.

The sunglasses are called Air Venturi Video Recorder Sunglasses and I bought off the Pyramyd Air website. They sell paint ball type stuff and the accessories. The sunglasses are one of the accessories.

Originally, I bought them for when I am cycling. The thought being that I would record those guys that "buzz" a little too close to me during my ride.

But I started wearing them during my road races and as they say "the rest is history"

The sunglasses capture a 3Mpx video via pinhole camera. There is a built in 4GB drive which can capture about an hour and half of video. The camera actually has a little over 3 hours of battery life.

There is also an additional slot for an expansion micro-disk.

Once the camera is turned on you about a minute to start recording or it will go into sleep mode. Basically, you have to turn it on again. I usually wait until right before the race and then turn it on.

With the camera turned on, you touch a 2nd button and start the recording. A blue light will start flashing while it is recording. You cannot see the light flashing while wearing them. Then, to stop record you just press the same button.

It creates an AVI file which can be pulled up and played on most Windows computers.

Some other things that I have learned, the mic is really sensitive to the wearer's voice. I assume it is because of the close proximity to my mouth, but for other people, it captures their voice fairly well.

The video is decent. While walking around, it is no different than a handheld camera. Running is another story. For me personally, the video can cause a little vertigo issue. While I don't realize that I bounce while running, the video captures everything including me bounding along on the pavement.

One other note, the camera doesn't exactly capture what you see. Because glasses set on the nose, there tends to be a slight downward angle. The camera tends to capture about a 150 degree angle between the ground and directly overhead.

If you decide to purchase a pair of these glasses, there is something that you will soon realize. Your eyes and brain process information far quicker than the camera can take in video. Many times, I will find myself looking around or upward for a split second which is all the eyes and brain need to understand what is there. However, the camera only captures a quick glimpse so for anyone later watching the video they just get some blurred video. Now, when I wear them, I tend to hold my gaze a little longer so that there is enough time to capture some decent video. Usually it takes no more than 2 or 3 seconds.

There you have it - Video Sunglasses. If someone does buy a pair, please post your video. I liked to see how others see races.



Thoughts from the Cool Down Runner