Friday, September 30, 2011

Runners don’t smile enough

Kathi Belk was kind enough to share some photos from a 5k race that she put on in memory of her son a few weeks ago. She tagged the photos of me on Facebook which promptly dropped an email into my inbox.

Like any person, I always enjoy when someone shares a photo of me.

In this case, she shared a couple of photos from the start and a couple coming to the finish.

Runningwise, they looked like the usual photos of people getting ready to run or running.

But the thing that struck me the most was that I wasn't smiling. Now, this isn't the first time that I have noticed this occurring. I have probably a hundred or so photos taken during various races over the years and not one of them has me smiling.

I don't know. Maybe once I step to the starting line, I go into my serious mode and it does leave until I finish. I wish I could explain it.

Maybe what I really need to do is lighten up and start enjoying the race instead of trying to race so hard.

But in either case I do appreciate Kathi sharing her photos 


Thoughts from the Cool Down Runner



Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Willing to trade one slightly injured hamstring

A few weeks ago, I stressed my right hamstring. A week later, I dumped more stress on it. Then, a few days afterward, I practically felt like I broken it.

Now, sitting becomes very uncomfortable after just a short period of time. Driving is equally as hard because my hamstring is constantly going from a relax state to a contracting state. Thank goodness for cruise control.

My hamstring muscle simply will not totally relax which causes it to pull on the attachments under the Glut. The start of every run now is a session in mental toughness. Try to relax. Eventually, once the hamstring warms up, the pulling on the attachment eases up. The remainder of the run is filled with a dull pain from a hamstring because it just will not relax. My lower forward leg swing is limited.

And believe me, I am trying. I am stretching it. I am icing it several times per day. I went to see Mike at Performance Therapy. I use the stick and foam roller on it. I wear my compression shorts around to help with the swelling.

But I am impatient and want this thing to heal faster.



Thoughts from the Cool Down Runner

Monday, September 26, 2011

Shoes stories

For some odd reason this morning my brain was thinking about running shoes. This intern took me back to a couple of shoe stories that I thought that I would share – funny ones or at least I think so.

Both of the stories happened within the last few years so it could me mean that old age is finally setting in.

Both occurred during early morning predawn runs.

On the first one, I was meeting some people at Old Bell for a run at McAlpine. Several people had already arrived when I pulled up. As you might expect, I was talking with them while changing out my shoes. Then, we all headed out for our run. For the entire run something felt different. I just couldn't put my finger on it. At least not until, we finished and I was changing out of my running shoes. That's when I noticed it; I was wearing two different brands of shoes: one Brooks and one New Balance. Not one person noticed it during the run or if they did they didn't say anything. I noticed, but it took my 2 hours to figure it out. To this day, I have not made that mistake again.

The 2nd interesting story occurred a while back. Like I said earlier this was on an early morning run so maybe it is not my mind that is going but my eyes. Anyway, as usual I changed into my running shoes at the start of the run and headed out with the group. In the interest of over sharing, I usually only wear a pair of running shoes once a week, but after wearing them a few times, I tend to remember how they feel. In this case, my shoes felt like they had a lot of extra room. This is ironic because most running shoes are usually snug at the start and tend to stretch a little while you are wearing them, but not a start of this run. By the end of the run, I did notice that my legs felt a little more beat up than usual. My first thought, the shoes might be ready to turn out to pasture. But when I pulled them off, that's when I figured it out. No insoles. I had just been running on the rubber in the bottom of the shoes. To this day, I don't remember why I removed the insoles or didn't notice they were not in the shoes before putting them on.

Just so you know - One of the things that I strive to do is not make the same mistake twice, but it doesn't stop me from making new ones.


Thoughts from the Cool Down Runner

Sunday, September 25, 2011

3 Types of pain

As I battle this hamstring issue, the topic of pain is ever present in my mind. No one likes pain and most of us do everything feasible to avoid as much of it as possible. This brings me to the topic of today – types of pain.

Being a runner, I find that there are three common types of pain that I have encountered: race pain, post race pain, and injury pain.

Race pain or rather race discomfort as some people might see it is the hurt that comes with pushing our bodies to the absolute limit of our ability. Going into any race, hard workout, or long workout, we all know that there will be some level of discomfort before we finish. But mentally, we are able to easily deal with it for one particular reason. We know that once our endeavor is over the pain will cease for us. Crossing the finish line will allow us to return our bodies to a homeostasis mode. With the Salem Lake 30k finish just in front of me, I knew finally my suffering was just about over.

Post race pain is the result of a hard race or hard workout. We pushed our bodies to the brink of breaking and the soreness that results lets us know that our bodies are working to repair themselves. Like the pain from racing it is somewhat temporary. The soreness will leave us anywhere from a few hours to a few days. A long run leaves me tired for a few hours and then I start to bounce back. On the other hand, a marathon leaves me sore for 2 to 3 days after the event. Subsequently, life starts to return to normal.

In both situations, our minds deal with the pain appropriately knowing that in short the pain will disappear. Most of us never dwell upon it longer than a few seconds to a few minutes because we know that this type of pain is totally temporary.

Injury pain is something totally different. We know it and we feel it. Unlike the other two types of pain, there is no expectation that the pain will be gone tomorrow. We deny it. We battle it. Finally, we accept it. Only once we accept it do we start down the road to true recovery. The damage has been done and the body needs to repair itself. The mentally challenging part to the pain is the constant reminder that is being sent to the brain with every movement. No matter what we do, the body moves and the brain is told again and again with each muscle flexion that we can no longer do the activity that we love as well as we want. And we wonder, how long will it take.



Thoughts from the Cool Down Runner

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Salem Lake ??k Race Recap 9/24/11

One should never write a recap after a tough race. Too much of the frustration will bleed through the recap.

Admitting this up front will let you know what type of post this will be.

Got to Salem Lake early this morning so I could pick up my race packet. Also I was picking up Nathan, Mike, and Megan's race packets. They had made the decision for one reason or another not to run today. Maybe I should have taken their decisions as my que to do the same thing. But I digress.

Charlotte Running community was out in force with Carolyn, Michelle, Chris, Butch, Allen, Kevin, and Adam. Patrick also showed the colors for the Gaston County Running club. He said something about a bet with Heather and Brian. I hope he won. Kent, Billy and Chris's girl friend Karen were providing the cheering section for us.

Just before the race started, thunder was rumbling across the landscape. Rain arrived just behind the thunder. Luckily, I had a plastic poncho in the back of my car to pull over my racing outfit. Heading for the start, I had more than a few jealous looks.

I gave the poncho to Karen. At least someone could stay dry.

We got a few last minute instructions and updates that the course had been changed. Due to the rain over the last few days, the part of the course on the greenway was flooded. The 30k would still happen but we would be making loops around the lake. The race director told us that once we hit a certain water stop that we would reverse the direction.

We took off from the start Carolyn and Michelle plus a bunch of others were out front of me. My hamstring was hurting really bad and I was trying to get it to relax. Good luck making it happen in a cold pouring rain.

The first few miles passed uneventfully. I was running with Adam who is headed for Steam Boat marathon in a few weeks. We hit the back side of the lake and it was a mess. I was slipping and sliding. Adam slowly pulled away as I tried to just stay up right.

Let it be said that my Brooks Green Silence go well on the road but not in the slick mud.

We came through the start finish point at 7 miles and I have never wished more that I would have signed up for the shorter race. I was about as miserable as a runner can be. I had no motivation at all. In fact at the start, Adam said something to me about what I wanted to do. My reply was "finish and get back to my car". Clearly, my tone was I would rather be somewhere else. Like I said, I had no motivation to run.

The 2nd time around the lake was worse. Having several hundred runners cut up of the trail there was no place to find any good footing.

Somewhere around 13 miles Carolyn went by me along with another runner from Charlotte. However, his name escapes me at moment. She looked like she was handling the adverse conditions rather well.

About this time, I was starting to wonder where we were turning around. I had expected to see Adam coming back to meet me. No one had past me running in the opposite direction so I thought maybe I miss understood how we were running the course.

Okay, I little side bar here to share some in-race fireworks. This guy, honestly I don't know him, starts going off because we missed the turn around. I mean really going off. He was using a number of cuss words. Carolyn says something to him about shutting up. There were a few exchange and then quiet. Now, I don't know Carolyn all that well but I was a little taken back. I was not expecting that type of response from her. Honestly, I understood the guy's frustration about the course, but I choose to not express my frustration in the same matter. To his credit, he did come back by me and apologize. I hope he did the same to Carolyn.

So coming around for the 2nd lap and knowing the distance was going to be off, quitting was at the top of my mind. My hamstring was just stinging.

But as we past the start/finish again, the race director says do "two down and two back". I took a deep breath and thought "I can do two down and two back". During those 4 miles my mind drifted as the miles churned by and probably would stayed in the distance if Chris hadn't come by me. Just have seeing him going by pulled me back to reality and slowly I started picking up the pace again.

My goal going into this race was to run under 2 hours and 10 minutes. I slipped in with a 2 hours and 9 minute time. I have to give Chris credit for my finishing effort. Thanks Chris. –Btw, I cannot believe you didn't introduce me to Karen.

After the race, the back side of my TrySports Jersey was covered in mud. Taking my shoes, my feet were a tint of orange from the mud. Peeling down my calf sleeves, finally allowed the mud, grit, and/or dirt to fall from my calves. This is probably the dirtiest that I have ever been after a race.

I walked back to my car, changed clothes, and headed home. I was already trying to put this effort behind me.



Thoughts from the Cool Down Runner




Thursday, September 22, 2011

How the CRC Results are determined

After each weekend, I pulled race results for the local area races and scan them to see which Charlotte Runner Club members were out racing. This task came my earlier in the summer and I am starting to get the hang of it. Actually, massaging data is something that I do on a regular basis at work so this is really just an extension.

Being that I like an open door policy, I thought I would share a little bit about the process so others knew what each it is like.

First order of business, I have a list of race timing services websites that I have collected. For example, Run for Your Life post their results online. Once they do, I pull them down to my local PC. There I transform this information into something that my program can then understand and scan for CRC Members.

The output from this scan is a list of CRC members that ran this particular race, where they finished, and what was their finish time.

This sounds fairly easily doesn't it?

Well, yes, and no.

There are a couple of different parts to this weekly task.

The biggest challenge is pulling down the data. Each race timing service tends to have their own way of doing things. For example, Run for Your Life uses Queen City timing uses what appears to be an in-house results engine. Lee Timing uses still another format.

Basically, what I am saying is that each timing service has their own formats and these formats can range from HTML to straight text to a pdf.

This is the point where sites like "" should get a lot of credit. I deal with a few timing services. They probably deal with thousands and each probably with their own format.

So I have the data down and cleaned up so I can now scan it for CRC members. And what I mean by cleaned up, is there is no extra spaces, tabs, and comma etc in the racer's names.

The scanning process is straight forward. We pull a name from the member list and scan the race results to see if we find this particular name. When we do, we pull this user's statistics out and put in another file.

This part has its own set of "gotchas" here. Upper and lower letters doesn't matter because I can correct for it. But if someone is registers for a race as "Mike" but puts in the CRC member list "Michael", his results don't get included. This is has happened to Mike Kahn at least once that I remember. I hope Bobby doesn't mind but I will use him as another example. Sometimes Bobby registers as "Bobby Aswell" and my program finds him. Other times, he registers at "Bobby Aswell Jr" so my program skips right over him. For a while, I think he was alternating it back and forth so I just added both variations in my member list. This is an easy fix as long as I remember to do it to each club list that I get.

The other "gotchas" that gets me on a regular basis is new club members. Since I don't know when someone new joins the club, I periodically go out and pull a new club list. Other times, I get an email from Caitlin or Aaron letting me know that I missed someone. This means I need to pull a new list.

The last "gotchas" that I have seen is when someone shows up in the results but didn't run the race. Some people just have common names like "John Smith". If this other "John Smith" runs a race, then our club "John Smith" gets credit for it.

At the end of the day there is only so much anyone can do. If I ran a race or seen that someone ran a race on Facebook, then I will do a little fact check to see if they showed in the results. But our club has nearly 500 members and I don't know all of them personally nor am I Facebook friends with all of them. I'd also say 99% of the time, my programs scan successfully.

But if I happen to miss someone, always please let me know. There could be any number of reasons why, but we do our best to make sure their name gets pulled.

If we know about the local race, we should be able to pull a member's results and include them into the news letter.



Thoughts from the Cool Down Runner








Performance Therapy

The hardest part of any running injury is trying to figure out whether it is an injury that you can work through or it is an injury that you need help resolving.

I am at the point where I have 8 more weeks before OBX. Missing any training at this point means a lack luster performance. Worse, I can just see Mike B. running off into the distance as the sun rises over the dunes in Kill Devil Hills. It will happen someday, but when it does, I want it to be when I am running hard and not hobbling along.

Thus, I would be hugely disappointed in myself if I didn't do everything possible to return to normal as soon as possible.

The outside help I am talking about is seeing Mike at Performance Therapy.

Based on my understanding from talking with Mike, my hamstring needs some work. I didn't need any convincing here and I am guessing the work that he is talking about is A.R.T.

He didn't say no to running or not to run. Again I am guessing he knows that I will be going out the door to do it. He did say that it would slow the recovery process. And, I expected as much.

But I am a good listening and I will be following his recommendations for icing and stretching.

Let's see how the next week shakes out.


Thought from the Cool Down Runner



Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The things we do to just to tread our miles

They say there is a fine line between insanity and genius and runners appear to be an example of a group that straddles that fence. Take me for example; this little hamstring injury has me hobbling along.

The genius in me says to take it easy and rest your hamstring. The body will heal its self. It just takes time.

While the other side says, no, now is the time to go out the door and get in those miles. You have a race and marathon coming up. You have to be ready.


I guess in this case I am leaning toward insanity.

I will ice my hamstring. Throw some Bio-Freeze at it before my run and tape up the hamstring.

Out the door, I went.


Thoughts from the Cool Down Runner

Monday, September 19, 2011

Recovery Week on deck

My last recovery week was three weeks ago heading into the Charleston Distance Run. Two weeks later, my training has been filled with recovery runs, a long interval session, a surge and recovery workout, 2 medium long runs, and 2 x 22 long runs. That's about 190 miles of running; plus I threw in some cycling as well. Truly, more effort than I am accustom to putting out at this point in my training cycle.

Most likely, this is what led to my sore hamstring. To describe how it feels, one has to have run a marathon. It doesn't out and right hurt, but is more like a dull ache all the way up and into the Glut. To me it feels like the last 10k of a marathon where the hamstring begins hurting and feels like it is going to cramp at any minute.

So what am I doing about it? Well, I am still running but I am trying to not alter my stride. As we all know, running with one injury can lead to another and another and another. It becomes a vicious cycle. Thus, I am trying to become "one" with the pain as it exists in its present form. Although, I can assure you that it isn't workout out all that well for me or my hamstring.

Otherwise, I am sporting an ice bag on my hamstring and my Glut. I am stretching it out. In addition, I threw some Ibuprofen at it on Saturday to survive those two races. But I don't like doing it. Inhibiting the pain makes me think that I can run harder which will not do anything to make my hamstring better. However, during yesterday's 22 mile effort I persevered without any Ibuprofen. Those last miles were really hard and it took some encouraging getting to Mike run on. But I do appreciate his willingness to run with me. I was just doing what my hamstring would allow me and living to run another day.

Now, this week is another recovery week for me and ends with the Salem Lake 30k race Saturday morning.

Going into this race I was hoping for some cool temperatures and the possibility of running a solid fast time. With this hamstring bothering me, I have to tailor back my race goals. Thoughts of running less than 2 hours are out of the question. My goal now is maybe 2 hours and 10 minutes. Surviving a 5k with a bad hamstring is doable. Surviving a 30k with a bad hamstring seems less doable.

A wise runner would probably skip this race and run short and easy all week. I just wish I knew one.


Thoughts from the Cool Down Runner



Belk’s Brigade 5k Recap 9/17/11

After racing Saturday morning race, I really wanted to hit the Apple festival in Lincolnton, NC. Called my Dad and he didn't want to go. There was too much walking involved. Called my daughters and they didn't want to go either. They had been to Scarowinds until late and were sleeping late. They were still in bed and it was after 11 AM on a Saturday morning.

So with no one willing to hit the Apple Festival, I shifted gears and decided that I would just go racing again. Tired, sore, a strained hamstring would not deter me from doing something other than setting at home all afternoon.

Shortly after 2pm I headed over the Concord way to the location of the Belk's Brigade 5k.

The Belk's Brigade 5k is in honor of Christopher Belk who passed away in 2008. The race is put on by his parents and the proceeds go toward the local school and bible club. To honor someone memory - definitely this is a worthwhile cause if there ever was one.

Megan rolled in a few minutes after I did. Shortly after we had registered, Mike rolled in along with his parents and daughter. I think Mike conned his parents into coming so he wouldn't have to push the baby jogger. At least, this was my suspensions any way.

With bibs numbers and chips assigned, Lee Timing was the official timer of the event, the three of us headed out for a little course recon.

The course has 3 turns on it. The first mile is in the middle of a nasty hill that starts out steep and then transitions into a continuous climb. All totaled it was about a mile of climbing. The course then makes a 2nd turn and goes either flat or slightly downhill for the next mile. The third mile has a sharp downhill followed by a long climb up to the finish.

This course was way more difficult than my morning race. Things were not helped by the wind which blew into our faces both on the flats and the last climb heading up to the finish.

As we were pulling back in to the parking lot from our warm up, but who do we see. No, it wasn't Santa Clause, but close. Stan has made the trip over. Running a 10k race in the morning was not enough for him. With Jinnie working late at TrySports, Stan was out and about town.

A little side note here. Stan was practically a celebrity at the race or maybe I should call it Stan's family reunion. My count is probably off a little but I think at least half the field was related to him. Stan, correct me if I am wrong. It sure seemed like it.

Okay, back to the recap.

The race was to start at 5pm but was delayed because EMTs were needed for an emergency at the football field.

Stan, Mike, Megan, and I kept doing striders in a nearby field. Each of us was trying to keep our legs warm because the wind was whipping through the start area.

While we were waiting, this young kid was also doing striders near us. Mike kept eyeing uneasily. Not sure if Mike had a worried look on this face or not. But not one to be too shy, I introduced myself. Quentin was a student at the school and was on the cross country team. I also found out that he had been at XC practice that morning. It is always good to pick up as much tactical information as possible.

The race wasn't delayed too long but long enough. With the 10 miles from the morning, warm up and striders, I was starting this 5k with about 15 miles and one very sore hamstring in my legs. David gave us a countdown and we were off. We left the school parking lot and Quentin fell in behind Mike and I was a close 4th.

The downhill section before the big hill was enough to get me into 2nd place. As we climbed the hill, Mike was looking over his shoulder at me. There were too many miles in my legs for me to make any type of serious challenge to him, but I at least tried to make him think about it. And for whatever reason Mike was running the wide side of every turn. I was down on the yellow line running the tangents and would have been across it if I thought it was okay. But to no avail, Mike was increasing his lead with every stride.

I hit the 2nd turn and peek out of the corner of my eye. I could whip the sweat from my brow now. There wasn't anyone in sight. I headed down the long stretch to the 3rd turn. Again, I peeked out of the corner of my eye. I don't see Quentin or Stan, but I do see Megan. She was looking strong and had definitely closed some space between us.

I guess I am showing my age here because I learned a new term that day- "chicked" and what it meant. For those of you like me, here's what it means. When a woman passes a man in a race – the man's been "chicked". For the record, I have been "chicked" more than a few times. In all honesty, I am not ashamed of it. If she is faster, so be it. I don't mind chasing "fast" women. Although, my dad did warn me about chasing fast women. Not sure if this exactly what he meant when he said it however.

Anyway, if Megan was going to catch me, I was going to make her work for it. My hamstring was practically screaming at me to stop. I told it that I would but not until I reached the finish line.

No looking back going up the hill. I didn't want to give her any more encouragement. I was pretty sure that she saw me looking back at the 3rd turn.

Mike picked up the win. I finished 2nd overall in the race. Megan was 20 seconds behind me in 3rd.

Another 2 miles warm down, Megan and I were pushing 20 miles for the day. Mike pulled down 10 miles for the day and appears to have recovered quite well from the Blue Ridge Relay.

Looking back across the entire day, we had solid intense efforts, a double workout for the day, and covered 20 miles of running.

Megan is starting to shake off some of rust that builds up from not racing. Racing efforts and training efforts in my opinion are treated differently by the mind and the level of effort exerted i.e the tolerance of pain is higher for a race. Up to this point, I think she has been well under the red line of effort in these races. When she does open it up, I suspect I am going to get "chicked". LOL.


Thought from the Cool Down Runner.





Saturday, September 17, 2011

Boys and Girls Club 5k Recap 9/17/11

Another Saturday, another short tempo run was on the agenda. I was kind of up in the air about where to run this workout/race since there was a plethora of races in the Charlotte area this weekend. Megan was up for the same workout and wanted to do the Boys and Girls Club 5k race. So why not, a race is a race.

The Boys and Girls Club 5k was a first year event so it came with the usual issues: limited number of bathrooms and a course that took in more sidewalks than I would like, and no chip timing. But they did have plenty of course monitors which in my opinion was a good thing. Getting lost on a course is never any fun.

The guy blew an air horn and we were off and running. I was hesitating at the start because my hamstring has been sore all week. The more I dig it the more it hurts.

So we head out from the school and I hear foot steps behind me. At this point, I don't know who it is. We go into a parking lot but they are so close that I cannot catch a glimpse of them. Finally, we make a hard right turn and out of the corner of my eye, I catch a glimpse of pink. Okay, I now know it is Megan and not some other runner.

We go up the hill and past the mile mark. Then, we turn into this business park and Megan makes a move to go by me. The thought went through my head – "go girl". If you are feeling the MOJO, go for it. We made the turn along 160 followed by another right turn which took us back to the finish. The wind was now at our backs which made me feel better. My hamstring was stinging pretty bad.

Between the downhill and the tailwind, I finally get a gap on her. Yes, getting a gap even a few seconds on her is getting harder and harder. From my perspective, one of the best sounds that any runner wants to hear when he is racing is the absence of foot strikes and hard breathing behind.

And, for the 2nd week in row, I am just barely in front of her at the finish. Makes me think that I am glad I don't have to race her at the trials. 26 miles is a long time to have someone chasing you. And, I could be assuming too much here. The roles could be reversed.

What am I doing now? I am icing down my hamstring. If this is what it takes, I am good with it.

30k is next week and it is a recovery week. Crossing my fingers my hamstring comes right by next Saturday morning.


Thoughts from the Cool Down Runner



Thursday, September 15, 2011

Grass is always greener on the other side of the fence.

Over the last few weeks or so I have had some comments come my way that started the wheels turning in my head again. Here's a few examples – "I wish I was as thin as you", "How do you stay so fit", "I'll bet you can eat anything", and "I wish I had zero body fat like you". Really, when I look in the mirror, I don't see ZERO body fat. Maybe 15% body fat. But does anyone actually have ZERO body fat? Yeah, I agree it was just an expression.

Sometimes I wonder if other people get these same types of comments and if they do, what would be their response?

Most of the time, I just shrug off these comments. To be honest, I get a little embarrassed by them and more often than not feel a little undeserving of them. Occasionally I will try to make "light" of the situation by replying with some comedian like come back – "be careful what you wish for – you will be sore, tired, and eating more lettuce than a rabbit".

Honestly, I think we are all a little guilty of thinking the "grass is greener somewhere else". I freely admit I do. But of course I am a little shy about telling someone else that I like really like how green their grass looks. Call me old school, but just because I think something, it doesn't mean that I should say it.

Not sure what type of person that this makes me. I hope someday to find out.



Thoughts from the Cool Down Runner

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Life flashing before your eyes

Last night I picked up my daughter to help her with a school project. While we were working on it, she was telling me that she wrecked her bike. She's okay, but she went on to say that when she wrecked, she saw her life flash before her eyes. Now the comedian in me wanted to tell her that it was short film. After all, she is only 12. There is a whole lot of life yet to live. But the Dad in me gave her a hug, a kiss, made sure she was okay, and enjoyed the moment. She will not be 12 forever and will not always want to share those things with me.
Later in the evening, I was thinking back to what she said – about "life flashing before your eyes".
Now, I have heard other stories of people saying that right before some major event, their life flashed before eyes. Usually, based on what I remember these situations occurred when the people were in a near death experience. I have to say near death because if they had died, then how we know. But this is a side bar discussion.
Chances are highly unlikely that my 12 year daughter would have died in her bike accident. And, I am so glad that she didn't. But from her perspective, maybe she believed that she might. This raised a question in my mind. I have been in numerous accidents over the years and have never had my "life flash before my eyes".
I wondered if it was because I always believed that I would survive.
They say that runners have this mentality that they are invincible. They expect to succeed by shear "Will Power".
Because I do have a runner's mentality and might just have a little of the "invincibility complex", I do expect to survive.
Just for the record, in my accidents I either remember seeing the accident happen or see nothing. And, I saw nothing because I closed my eyes. But never have I seen "my life flash before my eyes".
Just another one of life's questions left to ponder when the mind has a free moment.

Thoughts from the Cool Down Runner

Surge and Recover workout

Oh, what a difference a week makes. Last week, my feet were digging at the soft dirt that we all know and love as McAlpine Greenway. My workout went awesome. This morning, those same legs seemed to have deserted me as I once again ran across the same piece of earth.
To give up some background info here, I have to share. Megan has started her build up in her Olympic trials training and I have more or less signed to be her mid-week punching bag. Not that I am complaining, the workouts are tough which only intern makes me better a.k.a faster. In a sense, I get as much or more out of it as she does.
Last week we did a session of 3 miles hard – 1 mile recovery, 2 miles hard – 1 mile recovery, and then 1 mile hard. My legs couldn't get enough of it.
This week was little something different. Depending on how one looks at the workout, we did 10 x 800 with 800 (hard) recovery or 10 miles with surge and recovery. We alternated between what I will call an easy 800 and a hard 800. Each one gets little faster.
At the start, our pace felt pretty easy. This got me thinking that I have this workout licked. But as the workout wore on, my legs were really starting to feel it. On the last ½ mile, my legs needed to run sub 3 minutes. Not happening. I crossed of the last ½ mile in 3:12. Megan was at least 15 to 20 seconds in front of me. Not that this struck me as odd, but she wasn't even breathing hard when I came up to the finish. I on the other hand found the last ½ to be run in what I will term a vacuum. Not enough oxygen going in my mouth through my lungs and out into my legs.
In retrospect, this was a good workout and I need to focus on that part. I'm in the middle of two 90 mile weeks so expecting a 46 year old body to suddenly have a huge explosion of speed is a bad expectation on my part.
Sometimes the mental aspect to running is tougher than the actual workouts. But it all comes down to believing in the workouts, the training, and my ability to a make it all pay off on race day.
Wait, when was the last time that all of the planets aligned. LOL.

Thoughts from the Cool Down Runner

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Race Awards

Should someone actually go up to a race director and complain about the quality an award they won in a race. Personally, I would consider this to be in poor taste. Only a small percentage of people actually win awards in any race. For someone that gets their first award or doesn't get one very often, they look upon the award as a treasure item. I really don't have any right to destroy that feeling they have. In my opinion, this is the scenario where one just walks away. If I can look at an award and recognize its quality then other runners will most likely do the same.

More often than not, knowing I am right is enough. Saying that I am right will not improve the situation.

Does this make this make me a hypocrite for discussing this topic? I hope not. It is like being caught between a rock and a hard place.


Thoughts from the Cool Down Runner


Monday, September 12, 2011

Camp Care 5k Recap 9/10/11

Saturday morning was to be a 10 mile workout with 3 miles of up tempo effort. This is all part of my fall marathon plan to get my wheels turning over faster than my expected marathon pace. So realizing that I could do solo effort somewhere or do a race, I opted for a race.

Camp Care 5k fit the bill perfectly. The race organizers were utilizing the McAlpine 5k course for their race. The cost was agreeable - $25 dollars. The start was 9 am which was a little late for me. But what the heck, I got a chance to sleep a little later.

Picked up my packet and then did my usual course preview. Even thou, my workouts earlier in the week had me covering the same terrain, recon on race is still important.

I came back to my car, changed over to my Brooks ST Racers (since I was treating this as a workout instead of a race, I left the racing flats at home), and then headed back to the start for some last minute hard striders.

Going into the race I set upon a game plan. I wanted to get out fast for the first half mile and then settle for the next 2 miles. The last ½ mile would hopefully be run at the same pace as the first half mile.

No cannon firing this week – just a command to go.

My first ½ mile was in 2:41. This was slower than I wanted and my legs felt extremely heavy. The next 2 miles I focused on settling. I eased back going up the hill and took my time coming down the other side. The hill on the McAlpine course and I have never had much in common. This explains why my second mile was 5:55.

Since there are no quarter mile marks on the 3rd mile, I guessed there was a ½ mile of running between coming out of the woods and the 3 mile mark. My 3rd mile was covered in 5:46.

The overlapping of slower runners made the last tenth a little tricky but I was able to hit the finish line in 17:57. I have to admit this was faster than if I had done this solo somewhere else.

Basically, this was more strength running than anything else. I didn't back down for the race. In fact, Friday I had covered 10 miles of running including a Tabata and another 20+ riding. For the week, I will hit 90 miles.

Before the event, I didn't know much about Camp Care, but listening to them describe their goals and achievements I have to remark at their wondrous efforts. The world is tough place and every kid should have an opportunity to excel in it.


Thoughts from the Cool Down Runner

Thursday, September 8, 2011

3, 2, 1 – we are done

Cross two runner related elements and one gets a jump start to their confidence. This morning certainly helped jump start my confidence.

First, walking out the door the weather was perfect – clear, dry, and cool. Add to it, a solid workout with fast splits and the confidence that it gives is practically overflowing.

And, as I was settling into my chair for work, my legs were all too happy to rest and begin their recovery. Yes, the running work day was off to a good start.

Megan and I started with a several miles of warm up. Then, we started the first 3 mile interval from Old Bell. My legs were trying to settle into our expected pace. The bridge kept asking the engine room for more power. The requests were by and large being ignored because the boilers were slow to come online.

But no fear, by the end of our 3 mile effort the boilers were online and producing power. Next, there came a 1 mile recovery before we were off again on the 2 mile interval. The pace was definitely faster but then it was not overwhelming. Like with any interval workout there is a time to be focused yet relaxed. We had reached this point for me; I was focused on the effort while trying to stay as relaxed as possible.

With the first two intervals in the books, we were already running ahead of schedule. Believe it or not, I was actually looking forward to the last 1 mile interval.

For our final mile, we ran the first mile of the 5k course in reverse so we could grab our quarter splits. Pressing my Garmin split and saying "go", Megan bolts head. We hit the first quarter and we are well head of our projected pace. Making the last turn and heading back to the 5k start, I finally pull even with her.

There is no backing down now. The finish line was ½ mile away and the only sounds in the air were foot strikes against earth and hard breathing from hard running.

Crossed over the mile point and slowed to easy pace to recover. I was left wondering – how many perfect days can one man have.


Thoughts from the Cool Down Runner

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Recovery Weeks

Last week was to be a recovery week for me. All of the miles were easy with the exception of a little up tempo workout on Wednesday and then a race on Saturday. Usually on recovery weeks by Thursday or Friday my legs really start to bounce back. For whatever reason, this didn't happen last week. Yeah, my legs were feeling better, but there wasn't that bounce in my step.

So when the first couple of miles passed during the race Saturday and the pit of my stomach was already telling me it was not going to be my day. Once that fact is finally accepted (about the top of Capital Punishment Hill), there wasn't much to do but try to salvage the best day possible. This is what I did.

Now, not all of the blame can be laid on my lack of recovery. The race day weather conditions were not ideal with warm temperatures and high humidity. A runner's nightmare scenario occurs when these two get combined. The legs basically feel like junk.

But the body is only half the equation. The mind is the other half. With fewer hours running and riding, my brain was freed from those dubious chores. My brain seems to have gotten the break that it needed or at least I hope it did. Mentally, I feel like I am ready to get back to some good hard workouts.

Now, if my brain can just convince my body of this same thing, I should be good to go.



Thoughts from the Cool Down Runner



Sunday, September 4, 2011

80% Rule of Running/Racing

What is the 80% rule of running/racing? Well, explaining the "what" is easier than explaining the why. I'll share my belief of the "what" and leave the rest for others to ponder.

The 80% rule of racing means that 80% of a runner's race times will fit nicely in the middle of a bell curve. The remaining 20% can be divided roughly among two other categories. 10% will constitute sub-par races better known as having an "off day" race. The remaining 10% of races are the "on days". These are the days where everything is clicking. The mind feels a painless, unlabored race.

That's it. That's what the 80% rule of running/racing is in my opinion.

But "ugh" this is too short of a post so maybe sharing a little of the "why" is okay if no one objects.

First, we are all human beings. We have good days and bad days. Our bodies are better rested some days and more tired other days. We have life stresses which push us out of our norm some days and we have days where everything is a smooth as glass and easy as pie.

For a runner, the majority of the time we are training for a goal race but will run other races during the build up to this goal race. In all honesty, a runner should not expect to have a PR during these races. Although, this type occurrence does happen from time to time. The most likely result will be for a runner to field times somewhere well below their best ever efforts. But if a runner is not recovered enough or if the conditions on race day are less than ideal, a "King Kong" size monkey usually jumps on the runner's back as they struggle home – ready to get out of "dodge" as soon as they cross the finish line. Yes, it has happened to all of us at one time or another. Admit it. We have an "off day".

The converse is just as true. Take some extra rest or do some easier workouts or just have life treat the runner a little more gently and "shazam" the runner's legs feel light and frisky which allows him or her to possibly nudge down a PR by a second or two.

As I said above, the rest of the time the runner walks away from their race knowing they put in a solid effort and added another big stone to the training pyramid for their upcoming goal race.

And yes, the 80% rule applies not just to racing but to running in general.

Think of it this way. If someone could pick a stock right 90% of the time, he would make a pretty darn good stock broker. At least, he should be a wealthy stock broker.

90% of the time, a runner has good decent days of running. Good decent workouts build up fitness. However, the 10% of the "off days" don't constitute a loss of fitness. Actually the opposite is still occurring. Because the runner still went through the workout, they were still adding to their stock pile of fitness. The improvement physically might be much smaller but it was still improvement.

To summarize and provide a moral to the story 80% of the time, a runner does what is expected and builds on their fitness goals. 10% of the times, their workouts exceed their expectations and increases their confidence. 10% of the time, when a workout or race doesn't go as expected, it doesn't do anything to decrease their fitness. Fitness was still increased. What was really hurt was confidence.

The moral to the story is look for the positives in your training not the negatives.


Thoughts from the Cool Down Runner



Saturday, September 3, 2011

Charleston Distance Run Recap 9.3.11 Recap

Going home is always nice. This weekend, I had a chance to race in a race that I first ran 25 years ago in 1986. For those that might be working their calculator, this means I was 21 years old for this race. At the time, I would have never guessed that so many years later that I would still be toeing the line again in one of the most unique race in American.

But this is enough history; let's talk about the race.

Who knew that I would leave Charlotte, NC where the temperatures are in the 80s with low humidity and head up to Charleston, WV where the high today's temperature was 97 with 90% humidity. The conditions were ugly from the start with a temperature of 72 degrees with 92% humidity. This was much like it was at Blue Point 5k a few weeks ago here in Charlotte. All I can say is there was a lot of sweating happening this morning but not much evaporation going on.

This was to be a recovery week for me and I was hoping that the recovery would result in me running a fast time.

Well, they fired a Cannon to start the race and runners quickly started stringing out in front of me. There were so many in-facts that I lost count of the number of runners ahead of me.

Hit the first mile in 5:52. The second mile was 5:59. Third and forth miles were 5:55. Then, looming in front of me was what they call Capital Punishment Hill. This hill is pretty a straight shot up hill and steep. My mile 5 split was 7:08. Even thou, they have a sign at the top that says Capital Punishment Hill ends, the hill actually doesn't end. It continues on a winding and twisting upward grade road until about 6.5 miles. Then the road rolls through a series of hills before heading downhill and back into downtown Charleston.

My legs didn't feel great during the first couple of miles and while I was not breathing particular hard on the hills, I just didn't have any spring in my step. Sluggish and heaviness feel just was leaving my legs. Partly, this can be attributed due to the heat and humidity of the day and partly to my lack of good recovery this week. Honestly, I just felt stale and slow.

Once we were back on the flats, I wanted to pick it up. We'ed finished the ugly loop which was about 8 miles. The last 7 miles were virtually flat. I so hoped my legs my find some speed. I was dumping water over my head at every water stop and running through every sprinkler along the course. At 14.5 miles, there was a guy with a garden hose. As I came up to him, I said let me have it. I was truly hot.

Finally, I hit the Laidley field track where the University of Charleston plays football. The stadium was a great site for hot, sweat covered eyes. I rounded the track and crossed the finish line in 13 overall and 2nd in my age group. When the announcer called me name, time, and place I was totally surprise. I guess the conditions effect more runners than just me.

My time of 1 hour and 35 minutes was a little disappointing. Definitely, I thought I could run faster, but given the race day conditions and my heavy training load, I guess this was all my body would allow me. Honestly, I am not great hot weather runner and never have been. I have to put today in perspective. 6:18 pace is a decent effort for me today and it added another stone to my marathon training pyramid.


Thoughts from the Cool Down Runner