Monday, October 31, 2011

The weird and the strange

Today must be Halloween because I don't think anything could have been more weird or stranger. Megan and I were getting in some miles on the McAlpine greenway this morning. On the paved section past Margret Wallace Rd, we see this stuff on the trail. Puddles look a whole lot like blood. And, not just a little bit but a long string of it - like it was gushing out. I have never seen anything like it before.

Not knowing was up, I check both sides of the trail. Nothing was in sight. But strangely, I see the remnants of brick house across the stream – mostly just the fire place and chimney – very eerie looking. Now, I have run at Mc Alpine "oh say – a thousand times over the years" never having seen that chimney.

But it gets better.

Then heading back toward Old Bell, we see arrows made out sticks on the ground. All were pointing west. Not just one, but several along the way. Like someone was enticing us to go in a particular direction.

As we go a little further, the crows seem to be circling overhead and making all kinds of noise.

At this point, my 10 miles are about up so I head back to the car. Megan continues on but later tells me she see a dead bird.

This is way too much strangeness for me in day.

I am just glad we got away unharmed.



Sharing one thought at a time,


The Cool Down Runner




Sunday, October 30, 2011

Brooks Silver Bullet Jacket

Charlotte turned cold and rainy Friday night through Saturday morning so this turned into the perfect time for me to try out a new jacket that I recently bought – the Brooks Silver Bullet Jacket.

The jacket is advertised to be both wind and water proof.

Saturday morning arrived with the temperature in the very low 40s, windy, and rain falling. This is the type of morning that most of us runners dread – being cold and soaked on a long run.

With a new jacket, it is always "IFy" what to wear. But I was feeling lucky and went only with a short sleeve running shirt. The first hour went by with the rain falling but I was still dry and warm on the inside and finished up the 2nd hour pretty much the same. I pulled off the jacket when I finished and my shirt was pretty much dry.

I was very happy with the results.

I posted the link here if you want to check out the jacket for yourself.


Sharing one thought at a time,


The Cool Down Runner

Saturday, October 29, 2011

On my own terms

Two early morning group runs and two times I have been hit with the same suggestion. Have you ever thought about taking a day off?

This suggestion was embedded within our conversations about my so slow in healing hamstring. Maybe it was my whining about my hamstring being slow healing that brought on this suggestion. I don't know. I didn't ask.

But my reply is always the same.

The short answer is – Yes. And I have had this thought of ending my running streak on more than one occasion. However, most of the time, I just dismiss idea. After so many years of going out the door every day, going for a run is as close to breathing for me as I can get.

I don't think about it. I just do it. Not too many of us can say that.

But if I ever do decide to end my running streak, I don't want it to come as the result of an injury or in some way being coerced in to missing a day.

I want it to be on a day where I decide it is time to end it.

I want it to be a day where I end it on my own terms.

I just have not reached that day yet.


Sharing one thought at a time,


The Cool Down Runner

Friday, October 28, 2011

Icy Hot Patches

Hoping the pain will be helped by applying a topical anesthetic, my hamstring has had copious amount applied to it in the past several weeks. Most topical anesthetic come in a gel form that can be applied by rubbing it on the skin. However, the side effect to these gels is that it leaves your hands covered with the residue which is great for opening up the nasal passage but not so great if you touch your eyes or mouth.

In my never ending search for a better way, I tried the icy hot patches. I peeled of the back and applied it to my hamstring. The result was nothing on my hands and some nice heat being applied to my hamstring.

In fact, I didn't even notice that it was still on. I pulled on my compress shorts and was out running when I reached down to rub my hamstring. That's when I realized that it was still on. The patch didn't roll up under my compression shorts nor did it come off from sweating during my run.

They are little more expensive compared to the gel products but for a race or run where you don't have a place to wash your hands, they could be a great alternative.

Before wrapping this up, I have one more thought to share. For guys, don't try applying them if your legs are hairy. It is hard to see when if I am wearing my compression shorts, but I shaved down my hamstring. The patches work much better when applied directly to the skin. They don't stick very well to hairy legs. In addition, their removal is made vastly easier if they are not pulling out your hair. Trust me, I have tried it both ways and the latter works much better.


Sharing one thought at a time


Cool Down Runner

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Pepsom Sports – Epsom Salt

Every day, I try to learn something new. Usually, it is a new word to add to my vocabulary. Yesterday, I got something a little different. I don't know. Maybe I have had my head in the sand like an ostrich, but I never heard of soaking in an Epsom Salt bath to reduce swelling and soreness. After nearly 30 years of running, this was a new one on me.

I did some "googling" and found a lot of people seem to believe it works. I was pretty surprised at the amount of circumstantial evidence. People seem to believe it cures just about everything.

But I am game for anything that will help my hamstring.

Yesterday evening, I went by WalGreens to pick up a bag. WalGreens' sells the Pepsom Sports in 1 pound bags. Essentially, the concept is to put 2 cups into a hot bath water and soak in it for 15 to 30 minutes.

Did it work? Maybe it is too early to tell. Maybe I need more than one treatment. But I did come out smelling fantastic. Spearmint filled my entire house and I have to admit; I sleep like a baby last night.


Sharing one thought at a time,


Cool Down Runner

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

½ a workout but a good one

Jogged slowing away from Ben and Megan's house this morning and headed for the PDS track. Ever had that feeling in the pit of your stomach that leaves you wondering if you can do something or not, that's how I felt heading for the PDS track.

My hamstring draws up in knots pretty much anytime that I try to run hard on it. Therefore agreeing to join Megan for some intervals probably isn't the best way to make it recover faster.

On the other hand, maybe I would survive it.

Megan had about 10 miles of intervals planned which I knew was way too much for me. So I agreed to do ½ of each one. I would run the first half of each interval. She would continue on to finish it out. 5 miles in intervals was still probably too much for me, but at least I was getting extra recovery time between each. I would continue running but at a slower pace and then run the recovery with her.

Megan was doing 2 x 2 mi, 4 x 1 mi, and 4 x 800. I ran 2 x 1 mi., 4 x 800, and then 4 x 400.

The workout went pretty well for both of us. She was ahead of her target times on all of the intervals and I was just happy to be able to complete a workout and still be able to walk and not limp away. 2 weeks ago, I couldn't even finish the workout. I was moral support only.

Today was much different. Because I was only doing ½ of the interval, I was totally recovered before the next one and Advil was doing its job by masking most of the hamstring ache. I could tell, however, toward the end that the effort and the mileage were starting to add up for Megan. She would finish the interval and bend over – putting her hands on knees. Running 10 miles progressively faster was taking a lot out of her. But never once did I hear her complain about it. We would finish the recovery interval and go right into the next hard interval.

For myself, I am keeping my fingers crossed that things continue along on the same path and in another two weeks, my hamstring will be even better.



Thoughts from the Cool Down Runner


Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Dumbest Goals Ever

Butch, Megan, and I were waiting for the awards after the Changing Leaves 10k Saturday morning. I was telling Butch about my hamstring issues. I explained that I had been struggling with it for about 6 weeks now. Butch offered up some really good advice. Why not cut back my mileage to 30 or 40 miles per week. His advice was meant in the best possible intentions. Yes, I am sure cutting back my mileage further would certainly help with my hamstring recovery.

However, good advice has to be weighed against my goals.

My goals included running both OBX and Disney marathons. But it also included another dumb goal - running 4000 miles this year. This latter goal has me dragging myself far longer than I really should be.

But this also takes me back to another piece of advice that I got long ago. Thinking about this advice now, makes me think how dumb that advice really is.

This precious piece of advice was "if something hurts, keeping running on it. If it really is a problem, the hurt will become bad enough that it stops me from running".

What can I say, I have lived by this advice ever since. And this has contributed to slower recovery times and probably slower race times.

Writing about dumbest goals slowing recovery times, it makes me wish that I hadn't ever started this running ever day goal.

Is taking a day off really going to affect my performance that much?

This just goes to show that the Cool Down Runner is a man of contradictions.



Thoughts from the Cool Down Runner

Monday, October 24, 2011

Changing Leaves Changing Lives 10k Race Recap 10.22.11

There were a number of races around Charlotte Saturday morning but I had kind of set my sights on the Changing Leaves Change Lives 10k at Mc Alpine. The race met a number of the things on my requirements list: early start 7:30, flat course – based on the map the course was flat, and close home – only a 30 minute drive time.

You might have guessed it; things didn't work out exactly that way.

As many of you know, I like to recon the course before a race. This being a 10k, I was not up for a full 6 miles of warm up so Megan, Ben, and I covered the last 3 miles. Pretty much the course was as we expected until we came by the McAlpine hill. The map showed the course passing by the hill but the marking on the course sent us up the hill. But hey, what can I say. The course is the course. I don't like have a nice nasty hill at 6 miles of 10k, but everyone else has to run it too.

Registration was slow getting off the ground as can be expected with any first time race. They were doing their best. It was dark at 6:30 when registration opened.

We finish our warm up and I had about 10 minutes before the 10k starts. I hustled back to my car to change clothes and shoes.

Back across the bridge and I headed to the 10k start.

Queen City Timing was doing the timing for the event. But strangely, I didn't see them anywhere. We learned that their truck had broken down on the way to the race. So things were being delayed.

I talked with one of the ladies with the race to see what the plan was. She told me they were going to start the race shortly and would refund anyone's entry fee that wanted it because of all the issues they were having. She then asked I was still going to run. I smiled back – "yes, of course". If they were going have the race, I wanted to run and that I didn't want my entry fee back.

First time races always have some rocky waters to cross before the smooth water starts. This was not my first "first time race" so I put the distractions aside and moved on.

The 10k start was delayed about 30 minutes which under normal conditions wouldn't have been too bad. But with my hamstring hurting, it was just enough time for it to cool down and tighten up. I kept trying to jog in place and flex it with only minimal success.

So we are standing around waiting the start of 10k and Ben is talking about how fast he was going to run the first mile. Something about, he plans to run 6:30 for the first mile. Not sure if my face showed it, but mentally, I am thinking "used car salesman".

They give us the countdown and Ben shoots out from the start. Kris and Megan fall in right behind. My hamstring is balking like you wouldn't believe. We pass under Monroe road, Ben's already pulling away. I pass Kris and am following Megan. She tells me that I am not allowed to draft and drops the pace – opening probably 10 meters on me. Who me, draft off of someone – really, the thought never entered my mind. LOL.

I realized right away Hamstring "1" running any harder "0" so I focused trying to get it to relax.

My first mile is 6:04. Megan is maybe 10 seconds in front. Ben is, well, Ben is too far for me to calculate. That's when I set a goal for myself. I know we have the out and back section to Margret Wallace Road so I will try to make that junction before Ben finishes it.

We continue and make the right turn to loop through lower Boyce as it is drawn on the map. Yet, another surprise awaits me here. We are not doing lower Boyce but upper Boyce. I turn left heading up the hill with my hamstring screaming loudly in protest.

Mile 2 is covered in 6:29. Back out of the woods on the main path I knock down a 6:14 3rd mile and 6:22 4th mile. Mile 5 out and back is 6:28 and Mile 6 is 6:17.

Yes, I did achieve my goal but just barely. Ben was coming back to the bridge before the main path just as I was crossing the Bridge.

Megan was a good distance a head me and I was a short distance ahead of Kris.

I endured the final hill and headed for the finish: 41:03.

My garmin measured the course at 6.5 miles which probably wasn't too far off.

Looking at the race, I was happy and dejected. My hamstring got me through the race but time was disappointing.

Megan, Ben, and I went for a cool down run afterwards. And, you guessed it the topic of conversation was the course. We were all surprised with the little detour on to upper Boyce. I really didn't want to go around through upper Boyce. If I could have, I would have skipped all of the hills.

Definitely, this race hit a few bumps in the road, but still, they made the best of it. Everyone had a good time. I got what I wanted out of it. They raised some money for a good cause. In the end, is there anything else that is really important?

By the way, the results listed the 5th runner as unknown but it was Butch.


Thoughts from the Cool Down Runner


Friday, October 21, 2011

Men vs. Women – running conversations

Up to this point, when I went for a run with someone else, not much thought is given to whether they are male or female. They were someone that wanted to run with me and that was enough or at least I thought it was.

That was until yesterday when I ran with Megan and Val. We had a conversation somewhat related to this topic which afterward left me wondering.

Did I treat runs with just women or included women (since being a guy, it would never be an all women run.) and men differently than runs with just men?

Well, let's see.

If I had been running with Ben and Dan yesterday, what would be our topic of conversations? We would have probably talked about Ben's Cross Country team. Maybe how his class is doing with the iPods'. Maybe we would have discussed his Team's upcoming meet next week. We would have definitely talked about Dan's move back to Charlotte and probably his new job. And, I am just throwing out the things that I can think about off the top of my head.

Would this have been any different running with Megan and Val? To some extent, the answer is yes and no. There were some topics that potentially would have overlapped - Ben's team's meet next week, Val's i.e. Dan's move back to Charlotte but there would be things that would be different. Like Megan and Val discussing Ultra distance running. Although, this isn't necessary a man vs. women thing as much as it is they have different interest than their husbands.

Honestly, how I view other runners - male or female depends a lot on how well I know them. For example, when I meet someone new, there is a "more of a get to know you period".

People like to learn about each other but we talk general terms – where they are from? What do they do? Where they went to school? How much they run – so on and so forth?

Where, with people that I know the conversations are much more specific. We are more likely to talk about their job assignments, their kid's activities, events happening their lives, pets, upcoming races, etc.

Although, I do have to admit one thing; I am not a huge talker and never have been. I tend to be a much better listener. Listening – really listening – is the only way to get to know someone.

In end, I guess I do have different conversations depending on who runs with me. But I like to let their interest drive the conversations and just listen.



Thoughts from the Cool Down Runner


Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Ouch – what popped?

About 5 miles into my run, things are going along okay. I am just enduring another painful hamstring "stinging" run.

Suddenly a truck pulls out from a drive way in front of me. I make an abrupt halt and end up on my bad leg on my toes.

All of a sudden, I feel a pop in my hamstring. "Ouch" comes flying out of my mouth. I come to a stop.

The truck pulls out and I am left standing there testing my hamstring. I slide my hand down my hamstring half expecting to feel a knot from a toren muscle. Hoping I hadn't done any permenant damage. Nothing.

I flexed it a few times. No pain.

Okay, let's try running on it.

First, I go a few slow easy strides. Then I run a little faster.

I finish out my run seemingly no worse for the wear.

First, thing I did upon returning home was ice it down.

I wonder what tomorrow holds.



Thoughts from the Cool Down Runner

Another day passes

This morning I was checking out my bike and realized it was starting to gather dust and cob webs. The same can be said for my running shoes – more dust.

Since this hamstring issue struck, my running has been on the only do what you must schedule and keep the ice bags coming.

Not exactly how I planned the weeks leading up to a fall marathon – if there is a fall marathon.

I guess if it is any conciliation, I am feeling more rested than ever and my house is cleaner than it has been this year.

I spent yesterday evening racking the leave up in my yard.

Honestly, sometime, I forget what it is like to have a normal life and not pour everything into work and running.

This evening I will be mowing my yard and cleaning out the gutters.

Hopefully, I will beat the rain that they say is coming.


Thoughts from the Cool Down Runner

Monday, October 17, 2011

Nomination for CRC Board 2012

Recently, I got an email from Aaron our CRC president telling me that I had been nominated for the CRC Board in the upcoming elections. He also asked if I was willing to accept this nomination.

Almost everyone is more comfortable being in the crowd. You can say what you want. You can do what you want. You can go where you want.

There is no pressure. There are no expectations and probably the best reason to be in a crowd is no judgment.

Often, I wonder why anyone would want to be President of the United States. While I do think it would be a really cool job and you would have a really nice bubble to live.

Your every word and action is scrutinized by someone and most of the time; you have a nearly impossible task of making everyone happy.

That's just the way it is.

Which brings me back to – how should I respond to Aaron's email – "Accept" or "Decline".

I chose to "Accept" for one single solitary reason.

For our club to continue to grow and carry on the successful tradition that Aaron, Caitlin, Billy, and Jay have laid down for us, our entire club needs to step forward and take on active roles in it. Only with a strong, vibrate, and active membership can our club ever expect to prosper. This is the main reason that I accepted the opportunity to be the club's results specialist. Gathering results is not necessarily a glamorous task, but it is an important task. Seeing a club member's name and time in the club news letter gives our members recognition for their accomplishments. If other members feel my being on the board will continue club's rise, then I am willing to take on this role and the responsibilities that come with it.

As I am sure the other candidates will be.

Here's the list of candidates as of October 14, 2011

  • Val Matena
  • Aaron Linz
  • Jamie Dodge
  • Chad Randolph
  • Billy Shue
  • Mike Beigay
  • Ben Hovis
  • Jamaar Valentine
  • Scott Helms
  • Bill Shires
  • Caitlin Chrisman
  • Emily Barrett

Also if you choose not run for a position on the board, be sure to exercise your voting rights. This way you have at least an indirect say in the direction of our club.


Thoughts from the Cool Down Runner

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Flat & Fast 5k Race Recap 10/15/11

Continuing with my much abbreviated marathon training plan, I was off racing in a 5k yesterday. This week, I headed down to south Charlotte for the Flat & Fast 5k. This race was held at the Steele Creek YMCA just off Tryon Street by 485.

The course description said the race was flat and fast. After running, I am in agreement with their assessment. There is one very slight incline during the first mile and that was pretty much it. The last ½ mile goes gently downhill back to the Y.

The course takes the shape of a Y. We start and head along one street to pick up the main course. We then return along a Tryon Street back to the Y.

The course was coned off and had plenty of volunteers and police presence. I give them a thumbs-up on the course design.

Standing at the starting line, I was looking up the street and here comes Jay Rao with his son and daughter. I hadn't seen Jay since Summer Track which seems like eons ago.

They count down the start to the race and we are off. For a small race, 175 runners, they took off similar to the way people took off at the Big South 5k. Although, I am now beginning to think it is me and not them. I am just going out so much slower.

Tony Rao takes has a solid lead over me before the mile. We both make the turn around and start meeting other runners still coming out. I meet Jay who is battling Ryan still headed for the turnaround.

I am not making up any distance on the Tony.

My hamstring is not cooperating very well. I feel the tightness and at the same time, I feel a weakness in it. Sometimes, during the weak moments, the hamstring doesn't slow the forward leg swing well. This causes my quad to full extend and I land on my foot awkwardly.

Mentally, I have no trust in it.

The other thing that I am starting to notice is tightness in my ITB. Because my running gait is different, I am favoring my right hamstring, I am aggravating other areas. In this case, my ITB seems to be getting the worst of it.

Crossing the finish line, I was so frustrated that I don't stop my Garmin. 5:43, 5:47, and 5:46 were my splits – 18:14 2nd OA. Cardiowise, I don't feel pushed at all, but physically, my body was just struggling. Mentally, it is just so exhausting to block out my hamstring issues.

Finished off a 3 mile cool down and headed home.

Hard to believe, I posted in September about having a perfect day. Four weeks later, my view of the world has totally changed.

Maybe another week and things will look better.


Thoughts from the Cool Down Runner


Thursday, October 13, 2011

Thoughts about scratching from a race

From time to time, we all go through injuries which cause us to think about scratching from a race. Today, I finally had to admit to myself that I am thinking about scratching from OBX. I was out running this morning and I just felt like I was dragging my right leg along.

OBX is just a little over 4 weeks away. What really makes me think in 4 weeks that I am going to be able to run a marathon?

How demoralized does one have to be to finally admit there is a problem?

Has my hamstring improved? Yes. Can I run a 5k on it reasonably well? Yes.

Can I run a marathon on it? Today, my answer would be no. We all know that a marathon taxes the muscles to the extreme. Taxing a muscle that is not working properly is going to show up sooner in the race and hurt even more.

In a 5k maybe in a 10k, you can push aside the discomfort for a while, but in a marathon, it is highly unlikely.

Wednesday morning Megan and I were just warming for our workout. The pace wasn't hard, but my hamstring was already starting balk. By the time we hit the track to start the workout, I was already struggling.

I don't want to scratch but I don't want go out there and struggle all the way to the finish.

Maybe I should scratch?


Thoughts from the Cool Down Runner


Wednesday, October 12, 2011

More about ties

Sometimes Pandora box gets opened and I never know where a topic may lead. In this case, Richard Hefner commented on my post about wearing the chip on your shoe. His comment was thought provoking and so I decided to do a follow up post.

What Richard was saying – even the slight of thing can impact your finish time. If I wear my chip on my right shoe, but the left shoe crosses the finish line first, there is that split second lost.

Now, in the grand scheme of things, it doesn't make much difference to most of us, but as you can see from my race last weekend, it could.

Richard made a really good point about which foot crosses the finish first. Yet, I am still unsure how to perfect my stride such that I always cross the finish line chip foot first. More thought needs to be given to Richard's idea.

However, Richard comment did point me to another place where I could conceivably grab an advantage. This is at the start. Now, if you are not on the starting line, I am not sure this would help you, but for those that do like to be right up front, it is food for thought.

Normally, I wear my chip on my right foot. I am right hand dominate and therefore my right foot dominates. When I start a race, my left foot is always forward next to the mat, and my right foot is back and ready to supply the first push of power out of the gate. A secondary reason I do it this way is since I don't have the chip on my left shoe, I don't trigger the timing software that a chip is in its zone of coverage. Thus, I could be a few inches closer.

But using Richard's idea, I am now thinking about reversing things. By putting the chip shoe first, I could gain a split second. My first stride over the mat would be with the chipless shoe and followed by the shoe with the chip. This slight delay should actually reduce my chip time over my gun time. One never knows, this could make the difference at the end of 3.1 miles.

Now most of you are out there saying that I am extending more effort than it is worth and maybe you are right. But just wait until you are the one coming up 2nd in a two horse race.

In being totally forth coming, none of this would have helped me in Saturday's race. Queen City Timing uses chips on the bibs. Myron and I started side by side. I just got out leaned at the line. Run the tangents. Pump the arms. Now, I have to remember to either lean at the finish or get my chip shoe across first.

Who says running is an easy sport?



Thoughts from the Cool Down Runner


Tuesday, October 11, 2011

When Runners tie

Have you ever wondered how they know which runner comes first when two runners have identical finish times in race? Wonder, yes, but given the notion much thought, I'd say - no.

That is until last weekend when the Big South results were posted and Myron Lowery and I were given identical finish times.

Now, I do know a little about how times are determined. I know that all finish times are round up to the next full second.

But I didn't know how the timing software handled when runners tie. Who get placed ahead of whom?

So after the race, I set off to find out.

Since Myron and I provided a good example for illustration purposes, I reached out the Dennis Joffe who does the timing for Queen City Timing. If anyone knew how ties were broken, he would. He did the timing for the Big South 5k.

Later in the weekend, I sent off an email to Dennis and he got back to me today.

Here's what I learned.

In deed the timing software does keep a more accurate time for runners than is published in the results.

Actually, it keeps two places better both the 10th and 100th place of precision.

Dennis was kind enough to go back and dig up Myron's true finish time 17:29:34 and my finish time which was 17:29:41.

Thus Myron beat me to the finish line by 7 hundredths of a second. If it were any closer, we might think we were running the 100 meter dash.

So the next time, you and another runner have the same time in the results but he is listed ahead of you. The timing software marked his time just a fraction of a second better than yours.



Thoughts from the Cool Down Runner

Race weekend commentary

Last night I finished gathering the Charlotte Running Club results from this past weekend's races. I don't know if it is interesting or not, but I thought I would share some of it with you.

There were 4 races in the Charlotte area that had published results: 2 x Lung Strong races, Live Well 8k race, and the Big South 5k race.

Of those races, the Lung Strong and Big South races were the biggest. The Lung Strong 5k and 15k races had a combined number of runners over 800. Similar, the Big South race had just over 800 runners. The Live Well 8k had a little over 70 runners.

All together, over 1700 people were taking to the streets on Saturday morning.

Here's another interesting fact. There were more women running than men. In the Big South race of the 844 runners, 480 were women. In the Lung Strong 5k women out numbered men 207 to 111 while in the 15k which being a longer distance one might expect to have more men. No, women again outnumbered men 248 to 256. Whether the race is large for small, the trend seems to be the same. The Live Well 8k had 73 runners with 44 of them being women.

I don't know; for some reason, I would have though the numbers would have been reversed.

Where did all these runners come from? Well, one would expect they would be local and this would be a good assumption. All 73 runners in the Live Well 8k were from NC. 718 runners in the Big South 5k were from NC. There 483 and 297 from the Lung Strong races from NC.

Where did the rest come from? Eye balling the results, there were runners from WV, LA, TX, and SC just to name a few.

There is a ton of more information that could be extracted, but hey, only have so much time and the above should give you enough to ponder for now.



Thoughts from the Cool Down Runner

You can’t handle the truth!

In the earlier 90s there was a film starring Tom Cruise and Jack Nicholson called "A Few Good Men". One of the scenes from the movie has Tom Cruise and Jack Nicholson going at it in a verbal sparring competition. From their monologue was delivered one of the best lines ever "You can't handle the truth!".

As runners we sometimes don't want to believe the truth. For instance, yesterday, I was getting my Monday evening hamstring treatment when the lady working on my hamstring said "Your hamstring is a mess".

Honestly, I know this but I want to believe it is better than it is. Hearing the cold hard facts stated out loud is a keen to getting a bucket of cold water dumped over my head. No, I didn't respond with a sarcastic comment. In fact, I didn't say anything. I just let her words pass silently away.

I can handle truth and accepted it.

I just don't have to like her opinion.


Thoughts from the Cool Down Runner



Monday, October 10, 2011

Big South 5k Race Recap 10.8.2011

While quite a few people were driving north of Charlotte to Lake Norman for the LungStrong races, I was actually headed in the opposite direction. Yes, I would be attempting fate and further injury to my badly abused hamstring by running the Big South 5k.

Over the last year, many people have sung the praises of this race from the organization to the food from the awards to the fast course. Also with TrySports being a major sponsor, this race was certainly must do for me.

With an 8 am start time I was whipping into the parking lot by side TrySports just before 7am. Julie, one of our fellow TrySports Ambassadors, and I had agreed to run a few warm up miles together. Being more focus on Tri events, Julie rarely does a 5k and wasn't sure how well she would do. Earlier in the week, she ran the course in 23 minutes. Thinking back now, I probably had more confidence in her than she did. I just knew she would go faster. After all, there was no swim or bike legs before the run and she would have a huge group of people to help tow her long. When I saw her after the race, she was all smiles after having run just over 21 minutes. I knew she could do it.

After finishing my warm up, I was headed back to the car to change into my racing flats. As I was passing by the TrySports store, this lean looking runner caught my eye. I had seen him before. As I got closer, I recognized him – Ryan Woods from Boone. He had made the trip down to Charlotte – by passing a lot of races just to do the Big South 5k. This speaks to the word getting out about this race.

Got the starting line where I saw Glen, Jeremy, Kaitlyn, Karin, and Chris. To side bar for a second, after the Salem Lake 30k my brain was in a funk or at least that is the reason that I am giving for putting Karin in my post race recap but calling her Kathy. So I extended my apologies for the mistake and had corrected my post – Karin - it will be going forward.

We are all getting on the starting line when here comes Mike Kahn – fresh off his fast time the week before and sporting his TrySports jersey. I didn't even realize that he was running 5k. Fortunately, when Mike registered, he got his name added to our TrySports team. This may have been the luckiest move of the day for us.

The Big South commissioner gave us few words. As he is doing so, Dennis is walking down the front of the starting line. There is more than one young kids standing on the starting line. He asked one if he is going to run 5 minute miles. Honestly, I think the kid said yes. This kind of funny if I don't think about it too long.

Finally, we get the countdown and we are off.

Maybe I should say blast off. People were sprinting by me like we were running the mile. Jeremy goes by saying something about "are you coming".

Maybe he should try running on one leg for a while. This is the first time that I have really engaged my hamstring and it wasn't happy. The middle of the hamstring knotted up and was yanking against the attachment under the glut. Let's just say for the rest of the race, I wasn't enjoying ideal racing conditions.

At the start, I had picked out one other Master's runner – Myron Lowery. He pulled out in front of me during the first mile, but I caught up to him just before the downhill section. I tried opening a little distance but wasn't having much luck. Lucky for me, James Gregory was barely 10 yards in front of me. I kept trying to close the distance on him but I think I was just pulling Myron along as well.

We cut the Target parking lot and at one of the corners, I took a quick peek. He was maybe 5 yards behind.

The thoughts of keeping him at bay looked pretty good. That was until the course gave me one of the cruelest turns possible. Instead of continuing straight and then left and being right at the finish, they made us turn right and go around the block. This left me with a good 100 yard to go on a downhill finish. I tried but my hamstring just was not cooperating. I couldn't get my legs or at least the right leg to turn over any faster. Myron caught me right at the line. We actually had the same times posted in the results.

With my best effort to not look dejected, I have him a congratulatory acknowledgment for his fast close. I had to respect his ability to dig deep and make up those yards. He earned it.

After the race, I caught up with Mike Kahn for cool down run. Well, I was running a "cool down run", Mike on the hand was practically floating along after his 16:23 PR. He now has a time faster than Billy Shue. I can see lot battles between those two in the coming years.

Lots of people told me the Big South course was fast. I am not sure about fast but the design of it is pretty good. The course starts out climbing then flattens out before climbing just a little more. Around 1.5 miles it crest over the top then goes downhill or flat the rest of the way. The downhills do seem to occur in the right places where I needed them Saturday.

Definitely, this will be a race that the Cool Down Runner puts back on his schedule for next year. I suspect lots of others will as well.



Thoughts from the Cool Down Runner


Sunday, October 9, 2011

My Bike is gathering dust

On sound advice, I have given up riding my bike for at least the time being or at least until after OBX. Because of my hamstring struggles and the way the cycling works the hamstring, riding the bike has been deemed counterproductive to the healing process.

Thus, my bike is leaning against the wall and has hats and coats hanging from it. Somehow, they have materialized on the bike in less than a week. This is eerily like the stuff that has turn up on my tread mill.

I miss it. I like going out the door and exploring on my bike. I can cover so much more area on bike than I can by running.

But if I want this hamstring to be recovered in time for OBX, I can do little more than glance over at it and think good thoughts with the beautiful October days passing by.

Please hamstring - heal faster.



Thoughts from the Cool Down Runner


Big South 5k Team Award – TrySports Team

There were 13 teams entered in the Big South 5k Team competition and fortunes were smiling down on the TrySports team. They were able to take the top honors with a combined team time of 49 minutes and 54 seconds for their top 3 runners which averaged out to a 16:38 pace. This was 4 plus minutes ahead of the second place team.

Below is a breakdown of the team's performance is displayed below.


Team Name: Trysports

Total Team Time: 49:54

Top 3 Average Tim: 16:38


Team Members:

1 16:01 Chris Lamperski

2 16:23 Mike Kahn

3 17:30 Bill Shires

4 ( 18:08) Glenn Carroll

5 ( 19:36) Jeremy Walton

6 ( 21:05) Julie Kelada

7 ( 33:09) Kaitlyn Walton


The team was led in by Chris Lamperski who is returning to Charlotte after winning the Wine Glass ½ marathon last weekend. Pacing close behind Chris was Mike Kahn. Mike showed unbelievable speed early on pushing Chris through the opening miles before closing out the race with a 16:23 time and a personal 5k record. Glen Carroll is fast rounding into shape with an 18:08 time and was followed by newly wedded and setter of a personal 5k record Jeremy Walton in 19:36. This was the first time that Jeremy has dropped his 5k times under 20 minutes. The ladies made a solid showing as well. Julie Kelada, who had run the course earlier in the week in 23 minutes, was worried if she could do it. Julie showed she can do it. Kaitlyn, Jeremy's new bride, showed that being married has not slowed her down.

All team members either work for TrySports or are on the TrySports Ambassador team.

Congrads on an awesome Team effort guys.


Thoughts from the Cool Down Runner


Friday, October 7, 2011

Top 10 Reasons to quit running

This is the back side of my previous post.


10. You have enough T-shirts

9. You are tired of running through your neighborhood.

8. You find there is life outside of running

7. Your body finally gets a chance to rest.

6. You realize that it is okay to wake up after the sun has risen.

5. Getting out of the chair after lunch on Sunday is easier. – no long run

4. You have more closet space without those pesky running shoes and your closet smells different

3. You can finally take the towels off the driver's side seat.

2. Your spouse doesn't have to work her schedule around your run. Sorry, I had to include this one.

1. You finally realize that every meal doesn't have to include pasta.



Random thoughts from the Cool Down Runner

Top Ten Reasons to be a Runner

You can thank David Letterman for this post. I was watching his count down when I got my idea to do something similar for runners.


10. You can cross in the middle of the street and have a really good chance at beating the traffic.

9. You can wear the same clothes that you wore in high school. Okay, may be college.

8. You get to buy a new pair of shoes every couple of months.

7. People always think you are really healthy.

6. Gives you a reason to get up at 4 AM to meet other people to run for a couple of hours. – call it a bounding experience.

5. You are willing to pay a huge amount of money for a Saturday morning breakfast with access to stale bagels and flavors of Powerade or Gatorade the some store couldn't sell.

4. You don't have enough T-shirts to wear

3. Runners are known as really smart people but sometimes do really dumb things.

2. Finally learn what being "hot and sweaty" really means

1. You can eat all the calories you want and never gain a pound – at least some people think this is the case.



Random thoughts from the Cool Down Runner

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Downtime for the Soul

People talk about why they don't see individuals out running any more. Why don't they come out to group runs, do speed work, or see them at races any more?

I have often wondered the same question myself from time to time.

With no single right answer, one is left to ponder.

I suspect at times family takes a precedent or their job or anyone of a number of things. More often than not, I believe they just tire of the rut that comes with hard training every day. The getting up at 5 AM to get in their run. Having the Saturday morning's weekly race to attend which is always followed by the ritual of a Sunday morning long run to finish. The endless effort to schedule life around a task that to others outside of running doesn't even see as having any value and leaves us dragging to recovery for the rest of the day.

Admit it, how many days in a row can anyone of us eat the same food every day. Burgers, fries, and drink get pretty old pretty quick.

There was a time in the early 90s where things were busy and running wasn't really a priority in my life. Perhaps these were some of my best times running ever. Never a care was given to how hard the run should be or how far it should be.

Mostly, the runs were governed by how I felt. If I had something going on, my run was short and easy. If the weather was nice, I might go 12 or 15 miles. If the legs felt tired, I would run easy. I never created a plan and never followed a schedule. I simply headed out the front door and went where ever I liked.

Running can consume your life if you let it. But it is okay to step back and press the reset button on life.

Taking a little downtime was is not only good for the mind and the body, the time away is good for the soul.


Thoughts from the Cool Down Runner

Manifesto of an injury

When any injured runner starts down the road to recovery, they begin the testing process. As soon as the eye lids push back the brain immediately goes to check the recovery progress of the injured body part.

The day progresses and injury is checked before each movement. It is checked again before the run and checked with each step during the run. Am I going to hard? How much does it hurt? Can it take any more? Will I hurt it too much? This is followed by the post run check to see if too much was given and the recovery progress will be delayed even longer. The remainder of the day is spent testing to see if the run caused too much damage. The evening is spent trying not to push it any more than necessary.

Finally, the last thought before heading off to slumber land is will it be any better tomorrow than it was today.

Then the process is repeat again tomorrow.


Thoughts from the Cool Down Runner