Saturday, December 31, 2011

’11 Year in review mirror

Not sure how long this "year in the review" will be. I even had thoughts of skipping it, but in each of the past three years the reflection helped with the planning for the year to come. Thus, the writing started with a single word, then a sentence, then a paragraph, and before I knew it; it was done. Besides one needs a little reflection because reflection is good for the running soul.

I often tell people that I rarely repeat the same mistakes. However, being human means we all find ways to create new mistakes. We are an ever learning species.

'10 saw me sign up for the Boston Marathon for the first time. This meant the spring of '11 would be spent in preparation for it.

At first, my training plan put together this aggressive racing schedule leading up to Boston. Plenty of 8k through ½ marathon races would be used to harden the lungs, heart, and legs.

For a reason that I cannot seem to recall now, I reversed course and spent the "Spring" logging tons of miles, lots of tempo runs, and intervals.

Boston arrived and I spent the morning huddled in a tiny tent talking to Nathan and Mike for the better part of 2 hours. By race time, I was ready to go.

The gun sounded and I lost track of Nathan and Mike in the crowed. Hitting the first in just over 6 minutes, I was only looking forward.

Looking forward, falling forward, hearing the screams at Wesley College, feeling the agony of spent legs crawling up heart break hill, my legs finally cried "uncle" on the downhill side.

22 miles were completed but that was as far as my left hamstring had agreed to go. A cramp occurred so I slowed.

Those last 4 miles were as tough as any that I had ever run or so I thought. Nathan passed me about mile 25. I was expecting to see Mike any second.

Finally came the finish line and cheering people and my first Boston Marathon was under my belt. Definitely this was a memory that I will treasure forever. Boston turns out for the runners like no city that I have ever encountered.

Fast forward through some Duathlons and Biathlons which I for whatever the reason didn't seem to enjoy as much this year. Maybe I am ready to try a Triathlon instead. The thought does seem to intrigue me.

With the Belmont 5k came a win. Winning a race always creates a special memory no matter the size field or the quality of the competition. For on this particular day you were the fastest person on that course. No one can ever take that away from you.

Summer rolled in along with the summer heat. Summer track started and an opportunity to run another marathon.

For many years, the Hatfield and McCoy summertime marathon had been held in mid June and had always caught my attention.

I throw in a few long runs and a few hard workouts and signed up. Believing one is ready and knowing one is ready are definitely two different mental states.

Hanging out at the prerace dinner the night before, a familiar face walked up – Bobby Aswell. To be on honest, I wasn't too surprised. Bobby runs marathons like I run recovery runs – almost every day.

Race morning was decent. The temperature was about mid 60s at 7AM.

The first couple miles were downhill and felt really easy. Then the climbing started. The road went up and up. Up to this point, this was probably the steepest and longest hill that I have climbed in race and definitely in a marathon.

Going down the other side wasn't any easier. The road was just as steep and the pounding into the quads was unrelenting.

By the time, the ½ marathon point came, I was already looking for the finish line. And, the course didn't get any easier.

The road narrowed to a cart path and then disappeared into a rutted out trail. Then, the course opened back on to a golf course and crossed a swinging bridge. The rains came with just enough water to wet everything down making for a nice sauna when the sun came out. And come out it did. I was drinking at every aid station and still felt like I was running in a furnace.

Miles 20 to 26 were a complete haze. There was this long hill that wasn't on the profile at 24 miles. This mile was probably in excess of 8+ minutes. I don't really know. Like I said, this was a hazy period of time for me.

I thought about quitting but there was no one to help. I thought about walking but it would only take longer to reach the finish.

Finally, I turned the corner and crossed the finish line. The hallucinations must have set in for when I saw the temperature on the local bank's sign, I couldn't believe it. Ugh, no wonder I was suffocating in the heat. The sign displayed something like 92 degrees.

An older lady asked me if I needed help to which I replied "Yes, I need a place to set down and cool off".

Two hours passed while they tried to stuff me with water and Powerade. It didn't work and all came up. I mean I felt awful. I couldn't even stand up. That is when the doctor came over and said "let's give him an IV". This was the first IV that I have ever had. Man, did it help. 2 IV bags went into my arm and within 20 minutes, I felt great.

This was also the point where I vowed to never run another summertime marathon.

The month of June also saw me do a cycling TT at Charlotte Motor speedway and complete the entire summer track series.

July rolled around and my bucket list needed to check off a couple of items: The Bear and The Scream.

First was The Bear. We started at foot of Grand Father Mt. and ran to the top. Up and up we went. I never ran a mile faster than 7:15. There was a point where I looked up the Mt. and saw Mike running a couple of switch backs ahead. When I completed the final switch back, the climb up the finish line was maybe the worst of all. Stepping across the finish line, I went from trying to run to walking without any effort at all.

My goal was to break 40 minutes and to get a cup. Both were accomplished.

Next up was The Scream. Race morning was cool and with a slight drizzle. My legs were heavy at the start but after 2 miles Mike and I were still together. Then, the downhill section started and I started throwing all kinds of crazy surges at Mike. One mile we hit 5:21. Mike can run those miles but I cannot. He put a nice little gap on me during miles 6 – 11 but I like to think that I was pulling back some time over those last 2 miles. We only finished about 40 seconds apart.

Two low points were hit at Blue Points 5k and cycling Team Time Trial. At Blue Points I just couldn't get going. My legs just would not turn over. At the cycling team time trial, Justin, Meredith, and Jeremy were my teammates.

I knew Meredith and Justin were good. I learned how good they were and how old it made me feel.

Tour De Elvis saw me have a little bounce back with a mid 17s. The Greek fest 5k saw a little more with a 17:16.

Coming off these two races I was looking forward to the Charleston Distance Run. The Charleston Distance run was race that I did several times when I lived in West Virginia. It was one of the biggest races around and one that everyone looked forward to running each fall.

This would be my first attempt in many years to run it.

Megan, Jinnie, and Stan had been talked into running it with me. Funny scene happened as we drove over the course the day before. The Distance run has this hill called "Capital Punishment Hill". The hill is probably a mile to a mile and ¾ long. One would think Megan had never seen a hill before because she curled up in this little ball staring up the hill from inside the car.

Race morning the temperature was anything but cool. Warm and humid conditions were not the makings for great race conditions.

I was ill prepared for this race and was struggling long before we returned the flats of down town Charleston.

The last 6 miles were in the "get to the finish" mode. Looking back now, the time really wasn't that bad considering the heat and humidity.

After the distance run, my ramp up to OBX was to start.

Megan and I were doing a workout at Mc Alpine. The last interval was a mile repeat. I finished it off in something like 5:48 but I felt a tweak in my hamstring. Tweaks happen all the time and I didn't think too much more about it.

A few days later my hamstring was really tight but I raced on it anyway. By the next week it was really impacting my running. I could not do anything hard without pain, but I raced twice the following weekend.

For the next couple of weeks, I tried to do some workouts but mainly I just ran on it. I was practically living with an ice bag attached to it.

Then I tried to do the Salem Lake 30k. This was an experience in misery because I couldn't really run. Heavy rains poured before during and afterward which made the course a muddy mess.

Another week off, then I crafted a plan of racing short races on Saturday and running easy miles the rest of the time. I was holding out hope it would improve enough by OBX.

Hindsight tells me that I should have just rested it right from the start. I didn't.

OBX, I was took some Advil and ran 10 miles pretty hard. Then I slowly spiraled downward to the finish. Megan had a great race and Mike, while being sick, turned in a gutsy performance and beat me to the finish by 7 seconds.

Running OBX didn't seem to hurt my hamstring too much but clearly it didn't help it any.

My final race of the year would be the holiday half marathon in Huntersville, NC. I am still not sure why I signed up for it because I struggled from about 3 miles onward. For the next week, I was left icing my hamstring and nursing some really bad blisters.

'11 saw me do some 25 running races, 4 cycling time trials, 4 duathlons/biathlons, and reach the 4000 mile plateau in early December. Through these many races, most of my time seemed to be spent having more valleys than peaks this year. The good news is that my hamstring is on the mend. My blisters are healing.

As I look head into '12 and ponder what the New Year holds. I know my '11 season was a season of a few good races but lots of struggles. Getting older hasn't helped but something else I realized. Back in '07, I ran 3407 miles and completed in 34 running races. I seem to be racing just as much. However, the extra mileage has not produced the rewards that one might expect. I literally ran 2 extra months of mileage in a 12 month period this year.

So for now, I will set here and gaze into my crystal ball looking for images to guide me back to good running form in '12.


 

Sharing one thought at time,


 

The Cool Down Runner


 


 

Saturday, December 24, 2011

The Story of Fatigue

Long ago in a far off land there lived a people in the kingdom of "it". Within this kingdom there was a particular village that I want to draw your attention to. This village was called "Runnerville"

Now, for the most part the towns' folk of Runnerville were simple people. They lived simple lives.

They lived healthy. They ate healthy. They drove green cars and recycling everything. Everyone drank water and not one water bottle went to the landfill. Everyone carried home their groceries in reusable bags.

But what made them the healthiest is that they loved to run. To tell you how much they loved to run, they named streets after runners. There was Frank Shorter Blvd which crossed Gold and Silver Avenue. There's Meb Blvd which cross Silver Avenue. There is the Bill Rogers Rd which is just 4 blocks long. Then, there is the downhill auto bond freeway named after Ryan Hall. His road intersects with Kenyan way which ends at Victory Lane.

They even named their children after famous runners. Just yell Kara or Ryan and at least 20 kids would a come running.

Runnerville was abound with parks and trails. One of the biggest parks in town was called Marathon Park. Everyone loved running in Marathon Park for it had everything a runner needed. There were long straight sections for running intervals. There were straight mile long hills. There were loops around the park so long that a runner could do a 30 mile run and never need to retrace his steps. Every path was marked in 200 meter increments and there was a restroom located every 3 miles. Runnerville runner's just loved their park.

After years and years spent holding just 5k, 10k, and 15k races in the park. The local running club decided to do something spectacular. They decided to hold a marathon. Now, everyone in town was super excited about the idea and almost everyone jumped on board to help out.

That is all but one person. His name was Fatigue A. Miles.

Fatigue didn't live like the other people in Runnerville. He was about average height and slightly overweight. He had big hands and feet that turned slightly outward when he walked. His house was a one story flat with all of the windows boarded up. He drove a big diesel truck – a 12 cylinder job which bulged thick clouds of black smoke.

But what made Fatigue most different from the other people of it was he hated exercise. Walking from his lazy-boy to the refrig left him winded. When taking out the trash on Friday morning, he had to bring along a chair so he could rest at the curb before walking back. Yes, Fatigue was out shape because he didn't enjoy running like the other residents of Runnerville and he didn't like it that they enjoyed it.

So when the flyers circulated about town that a marathon was to be held in two weeks, Fatigue was beside himself. How could they hold a marathon in his town and even want to run right down his street. No, this couldn't happen. He had to prevent it.

Just so you know, this was not the first time that Fatigue had railed against sporting events. Every year in the days leading up the New York, Chicago, and Boston Marathon he would send a very strongly worded email to the Race Directors detailing the pitfalls for running and ruining one's health.

When the emails didn't work, he would protest. He carried a sign before, during, and after races – shouting in large letters the "Hazards of Running". And, on one occasion he had attempted to block the start of race by having a sit down in front of the starting line. His cries to cancel the race could be heard over the noise of 5 bands and the cheers of the racers as he was handcuffed and dragged away by the local constabulary.

Now that a marathon race was going by his very doorway, he had reached his limit. He would do what he must but there would be no marathon. But how; how would he stop this marathon from occurring?

Then, the idea hit and he knew what he must do.

There was a precious few days before the marathon was to be held so he had little time to waste.

Pushing out of his lazy-boy and heading for his workshop at the back of his house, he started to work. He would not sleep. He would not eat. He would work day and night to make his plan a reality. He would do whatever he must. The pounding, the sawing, the wielding, the many trips to the local hardware pushed him to his physical limit, but he had no choice. The marathon shouldn't happen. It couldn't happen not on his watch.

While Fatigue was preparing, the people of Runnerville was also making their fair town ready for the marathon. The streets were cleaned. The lights were polished. The miles were marked. The porta-potties rolled in on the back of a flat bed truck. Hundreds of thousands of T-shirts were printed. Race numbers with the runner's names were prepared.

The vendors from the Shoe companies, running apparel companies, food companies were just a few of the people arriving into town for this big event.

This would be the biggest event to take place in Runnerville ever.

On the night before the big event, Fatigue was putting the final touches on his plan.

For this plan to work, he would have to remove every running related item from the town of Runnerville. To do this, he built the largest dump truck ever created. Just imagine if you will, the largest dump truck in existence and then multiple it by 10 times. In fact, just filling the tank cost him $567, 432.12.

When he cranked it up, the engine spewed exhaust into the air so black that one could not see their hand in front of their face for a half mile.

While Fatigue was making ready, everyone else in town was running the marathon so they were all off to bed early. Around, 10 pm he started silently slipping into each home in Runnerville and taking all of the running related items. Every singlet, running-T, shorts, socks, and shoes he took. He grabbed all of the petroleum jelly and body glide that he could find. He took the food from the frig. He took the oatmeal, peanut and almond butter jars. He took every ounce of sports drink that he could find. Gatorade, Powerade, Nunn it didn't matter. He loaded up on the bagels and bananas. He snatched up the gels no matter what the flavor or brand; he took it. He even took the last roll of toilet paper from the holder. One would think this would put runners in a world of hurt.

But Fatigue wasn't finished just yet. When there was nothing runningwise left in the house, he crept over to the alarm clocks for each family and turned off the alarm. What could be crueler than waking up late for a race?

When he had visited every home in town and removed their running stuff, he knew there was one last thing left to do.

So he drove over to the starting line, mashing everything in sight with the large rubber tires acting like four individual steam rollers. Once there, he loaded up the banners, the tables, the water, the fruit, the timing equipment, the mile marks, and the race numbers. And before leaving, he even scraped up the paint used to mark mile points and the start/finish line.

As he rolled out of town, there was nothing left in Runnerville that told of a city ready to host a marathon.

He would drive this stuff over and dump it in the nearby landfill where this huge waste of material would never be seen again. The road was bumpy and the springs on the dump truck creaked under the massive load as he ever so slowly rolled along.

As he left the city limits and headed up a mountain road, a freakish little smile came across his face. He had done it. He had stopped this exercise thing called a marathon in its tracks.

Reaching the dumping site, he turned the truck around and backed it up to the edge. Nearly 4 hours had passed since he had left. He thought he would take one last look at Runnerville down below before dumping this load.

He opened the cab door and climbed to the top of the truck so he could get a better view of Runnerville.

The marathon was to start in 20 minutes but he expected to see no one out. All should be worried and scampering around their houses wondering where their running stuff had gone and why their alarms didn't go off.

His eye must be seeing things. There was a huge crowd of people in Marathon Park. He scrambled to the cab for his binoculars. Yes, there were tons of people in Marathon Park. They were wearing boots, jeans, and coats as they were warming up. They had makeshift numbers made using notebook paper and a sharpie. A new line has been drawn across the road with two letters beside it "S/F" for start and finish.

And what astonished Fatigue the most, they were happy. Everyone one was smiling and ready to run. Why was this he thought? He had removed their running stuff. They should be miserable.

That's when the thought finally hit him. No matter how bad things are, people don't run because of the material stuff. Yes, the running stuff does make it easier and nicer, but more so, they run because it makes them feel better and it makes them happier when they do it.

He knew right then and there that he couldn't dump this stuff. He had to return each and every item back to its rightful owner.

With one hand he swung back into the cab and revved the engine. Down the road he went. Taking each turn at breakneck speed with the wheels scrapping the edge he was barely staying on the road.

He arrived back in town barely 10 minutes before the race.

Pulling up at the race start, he slowly climbed from the cab. Eyes down and chin on his chest, he begged for their forgiveness and explained the error of his ways.

To his surprise, the people of Runnerville forgave him. They immediately started passing out everything from the back of the dump truck. Within 5 minutes and with everyone's help every item was returned to its rightful owner.

The town's people were so sure that Fatigue had changed his ways that they invited him to race and give him the number one. To which, he gratefully accepted.

That day, he ran for the first time and finished the marathon in 5 hours and 7 minutes.

As he crossed the finish line, they put a finisher medal around his neck and asked him how he was able to do it. The lifting, the pushing, the hard work making the dump truck, the running to the local hardware store, he had been training his body.

Exercise in and of itself is good, but when combined with a goal, a purpose, then the hard work all makes sense.


 


 

Sharing one thought at a time,


 

The Cool Down Runner


 


 


 


 

Friday, December 23, 2011

Final 22 miler in the books

Boy was I glad the rain stopped today. With a holiday weekend fast approaching, I did not want to push my final long, long run before Disney into this weekend. When this morning broke sunny and clear, I headed out the door.

Man, I hope Disney isn't too warm. I felt like I was melting even with the temperature barely crossing the 60 degree mark.

However, the best part of the run was I finally returned home with no additional blisters to fix. After OBX and the Holiday Half marathon, each and every week was spent going from one blister to the next. Getting through any type of workout without getting one seemed impossible.

That is until today.

I have gone to coating down the blistered area with liquid bandage. The stuff smells like modeling glue, but the stuff does the trick. Pretty much, I found that it is a one application per run usage. Between running and showering, the liquid bandage is gone. This might seem strange but I am happy to coat it again and again if I don't get a blister. The simple things in life are all that is important.

If you have not finished your shopping hurry up, tomorrow is the last day.

Also tomorrow look for the post on "The story of Fatigue".


 

Sharing one thought at a time,

The Cool Down Runner

 

Thursday, December 22, 2011

59:59 then a treadmill expects a cool down

Yesterday, I learned two new things. First, the treadmills at the Y only go to 59 minutes and 59 seconds before they automatically convert over to a cool down run for 5 minutes. The second, if running on a treadmill is going to become a habit, my iPod needs a longer play list.

Going to the Y treadmill was my way of avoiding the rain yesterday. And, a lot of good did it do me. Running outside, I would have almost assuredly gotten soaked. Running inside, I pretty much got the same result. Crank up the heat to 72 degrees for an hour and half and the perspiration comes rolling out. Leaving me soaked with sweat dripping from my shorts and shirt. Yes, there was a towel handy. Well, the towel was handy at the start. Within 30 seconds, it fell to the floor and once running I don't stop.

Those who know me know that I don't run with an iPod. I am not fawn of the wire dangling against me. But with a 12 mile run staring me down, the silent movie version of Y TV overhead, and the distance counter on the treadmill O so slowly accumulating the miles, my mind need something to lose itself for a while. Out came my iPod.

Listening to music does help and really helped with the miles between 6 and 12. Getting lost in the song and mentally singing along helped to pass the seconds turning into minutes and the quarters turning into miles.

Running at the Y is kind of like having a group run with strangers. Being on the treadmill for a long period of time, gives the opportunity to see many people come and go. Many often stare either at the amount of perspiration dripping on to my treadmill or at the display on the treadmill. Most don't say anything. Leaves me wondering what they really think when they see me running.

Luckily, running on a treadmill is not a frequent occurrence for me, but who knows, I might become a regularly. If I do, I'll need more songs.


 


 

Sharing one thought at a time,

The Cool Down Runner

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Higher strung, more intense personality

During my Facebook browsing last night, one status update jumped out that interested me. Mark Hadley posted a piece on his Runner's Mental Predisposition Theory. No need for me to try to explain Mark's theory, because I couldn't do the expert enough justice. I do suggest reading it at the above link.

What interested me the most was trying to figure out where I fell within his theory? Self analysis is often a good thing and can be somewhat of a humbling experience. Maybe not as humbling as someone else's analysis but still good idea all the same.

Reading through the four quadrants and the attributes associated with each, I tried to fit myself into one of the four quadrants. My guess is that no one person fit perfectly into a quadrant so I tried to find the quadrant with which I shared the most attributes.


 

Quadrant #1:
• Higher strung, more intense personality (High Strung doesn't sound like but intense I would say so)
• Ability to stay aggressive and focused during lactate accumulation (I'd say sometimes)
• Becomes increasingly passive and distracted as energy system fatigue builds (Nay, not me)
• Under-performs training level in races over 60 minutes in duration (I'd say that I am the opposite here)
• On par or over-performs training level in races under 60 minutes in duration (I wouldn't say this is necessary true)
• Excels at shorter distance races (800 to 10k in length) (Maybe I getting order is the reason, but don't feel I exel here)

Quadrant #2:
• Extremely confident, self assured personality (I'd like to think so at least where running is concerned)
• Ability to stay aggressive and execute race plans in either fatigue situation (stay aggressive yes, execute is a strong word, I like the word adjust race plans better so yes)
• Ability to race on par or better than training level at all race distances (I'd say yes. My training pace rarely approach my racing paces)
• Can excel at any race distance and often has large race range (not sure about this one. 800 and a mile efforts hurt. Mentally, I wish they would go faster but most of the time they simply refuse)

Quadrant #3:
• More laid back or easy going personality (Outside of running, I would say yes)
• Ability to stay aggressive and focused during energy system fatigue (I'd say yes)
• Becomes increasingly passive and distracted as lactate accumulates (I am trying to stay open minded that maybe a little bit of "yes" here)
• Under-performs training level in races under 60 minutes in duration (I'd say yes)
• On par or over-performs training level in races over 60 minutes in duration (I'd say yes)
• Excels at longer race distances (half marathon to marathon) (Again, I'd say yes)

Quadrant #4:
• Apathetic personality (Definitely a "NO")
• Becomes very passive during lactate accumulation (I'd say no)
• Becomes increasingly passive as energy system fatigue builds (I'd say no)
• Underperforms training level at all distances (I'd say no)
• Does not particularly excel at any race distance (I'd say no)


 

Somewhere between quadrant 2 and quadrant 3 is where the Cool Down Runner falls. Being confident and self assured are attributes that I strive to achieve. Executing my race plans within reason. A race plan is only as good as your ability to adjust. Races never unfold exactly as one would expect them. Adjusting to the ebb and flow of a race is a key attribute and comes from your confidence in your ability.

I race at all distances but not always running well at all distances. However, I attribute this to a corollary to Mark's Theory. One can race well at all distances but to excel at any one distance, one needs to specialize. Thus, one can run decent race times over a number of different distances but may not have exceptional times. Only once they specialize will they get close to their maximum potential

Laid back and easy going personality is something that I hope comes out when I am not racing. Usually, for training runs and workouts, I am pretty flexible when it comes to getting it done either solo or with a group.

I like to think that my number of solid marathons efforts show my ability to handle energy system fatigue.

For races less than 60 minutes, I'd say that I race on par. Usually, I don't ever exceed my expectations.

Really, the last 2 bullets of quadrant 3 show where my forte lies. I like to think that I excel at these two bullets.

As for quadrant 1 and 4, maybe a little of me is present in quadrant run. I would like to think that quadrant 4 and I don't share any attributes, but perspective is everything.

So this is my read on myself. Anyone else that reads this and feel differently leave a comment with your thoughts. Maybe I am just blinded by my rose colored sunglasses.


 

Sharing one thought at a time,


 

The Cool Down Runner

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Front loading the week

The biggest holiday of the year is almost upon us and means time for family, food, watching TV, and above all resting.

For runners rest really only happens at two times in our lives. We are either injured or died. Injured can mean valuable rest that leads to a new PR. The latter of which there is no return, but just leads to one long extended rest.

Therefore in Holiday spirit, there will be no missed runs this week, but Saturday, Sunday, and perhaps Monday will be recovery days.

To make them true recovery days, the first few days of this week are being frontloaded. This means lots and lots of miles.

The miles will not necessarily be hard. The miles will not be unnecessarily long. There will just be a buildup which then justifies giving the body some downtime over the weekend.

For everyone out there running now, bulk up on the miles over the next few days and then enjoy a nice recovery during the weekend.


 

Sharing one thought at a time,

The Cool Down Runner


 

 

Monday, December 19, 2011

Charlotte Running Club Holiday Lights Run

Last night, a little after 5:30 PM the Charlotte Running Club members headed off in what is fast becoming a tradition during this time of year – Our Club's Family Holiday Lights run through the Dilworth area. Pretty cool event, it being my first time. Enjoyed seeing a lot familiar faces and meeting lots of new faces.

Even better entire families come out including children and pets. Many were dressed in holiday attire from antlers to green,red,and white socks.

While the air was a bit nippy, most everyone was able to warm their self with some hot chocolate and cookies.

I want to give out a major Kudos to our Social Director – Emily for making this happen. Most of us just want to run, but somebody has to step up and organize these events. Emily is our go to person and makes it happen.

For anyone missing this event, please plan to put it on your social calendar for next year. This is a must "do" event.

Photos from the run can be found here on Facebook.


 

Sharing one thought at a time,

The Cool Down Runner

Friday, December 16, 2011

Add 2 miles training program

After my blisters nearly brought my running to a crawl (in running terms), my miles took major hit. Thursday, my daily mileage tally stood embarrassingly at 2 miles. Friday, 4 more miles were put under my belt. Saturday, I found time to get in 6 miles. From there, I could feel a pattern forming and vowed to keep it going into the next week.

That is at least for a few days into the next week. Sunday, my legs carried me 8 miles. Monday, the miles put in were 10. Tuesday morning I found time to join the Miner's run and only stopped once I hit 12 miles. Wednesday morning, my legs were feeling trashed as I attempted to run some paltry miles around the PDS track to reach the grand total of 14 miles. Come Thursday morning, the daily mileage total got bumped up 2 more miles to 16 miles.

Today, did I do 18 miles? Actually, no, I did not. Why? Well, tomorrow, I planned to do 22 miles. Something tells me jumping over 18 and 20 is probably a bad idea, but the runner's mentality tells me that I am capable of anything if I set my mind to it.


 

Sharing one thought at time,


 

The Cool Down Runner

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Is the day over yet?

Is my day over yet? I hope it ends soon so I can move on to tomorrow. Complaining about it being a long day is probably not the most ideal way to justify my paltry mental attitude. Mike was up and heading toward the Miner's Run before my alarm clock even thought of raising a roar that would come to resonate throughout my room.

Miner's is one of the best ongoing runs in Charlotte. However, I have been skipping the Miner's Run lately for two major reasons. First, 5:30 AM comes long before the crack of dawn to run but even earlier when one has to drive across town. Add to it, the mercury is only able to reach numbers which make me think about just one thing. A warm and cozy bed being the best place to stay until the sun has at least crested over the horizon.

The other reason has less to do with the start time and the temperature but rather with something that we all preciously need – sleep. Lord knows that I need all of the beauty sleep that I can get. Each day that passes I am looking less and less like my twin - Fabio. But of course, even if I slept like Rip Van Winkle, I don't think my looks would come to match Fabio. Looks aside, slumber time gives the body a chance to repair most of the damage that comes from the day's hard work. The blissful time between dusk and dawn allow the rest needed so we can once again train to our fullest when the day begins anew.

Is my day over yet? Yes, I think it is. My post is now complete.


 

Sharing one thought at a time,

The Cool Down Runner

Monday, December 12, 2011

Club Mileage Programs

Being around Charlotte for a number of years, I have become a member of several running clubs. Many of which have club mileage programs.

So what exactly is a Club Mileage Program? Well, these clubs track the member's mileage participating in the program and once they reach their goal mileage for the year, they receive a recognition award.

I have participated in these programs off and on over the years but never really thought much about why. At least not until, I got into an email exchange with Ben on the topic last night.

Exactly why did I do it? Was it for the award? Surely, this wasn't the reason. I have collected numerous awards during my 28 years of running.

Writing my response, I finally had to put some of the reasons down in an email.

Partly, I guess I do it because to some extent it gives me some recognition for all the miles that I put in during the course of the year. But more so, I do it because I am held accountable, but in reality no one is putting direct pressure i.e. "peer pressure" on me. I know I have this goal and want to reach and even surpass it. One has to be accountable to one's self first.


 

Sharing one thought at time,

The Cool Down Runner


 


 

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Foot Locker XC Meet Streamed Live

Wow, how life and times has changed? Yesterday, I was able to use my Smartphone to stream live the Foot Locker Girls XC meet from San Diego, CA. Mark has posted the link on Facebook and using the link, I went to a web site where the XC meet was streamed live video right to my phone. I saw Alana being introduced and was able to watch as the race unfolded.

Some people might feel that this makes them feel too connected but not me. I love where technology is going and the ability it gives me to watch events real time from anywhere – anywhere that I am.

Now, if the guys involved with the Olympic Trial Marathons would wake up and give us the same type of access, I would be very appreciative. Wake-up NBC, throw in some side by side commercials but let the races be web cast.


 


 

Sharing one thought at a time,

The Cool Down Runner


 

TrySports Ambassador Team Social

Social are occasions for seeing new faces, old faces, and faces that I really need to remember. On Thursday night, we had a little social gathering for our Ambassador team. Some of them I see on a regular basis because they are either work at TrySports or run races. But there is always a few that I may have only met once a few years ago.

When this happens, I have to reintroduce myself and then apologize for not recalling the last time we met. This makes me wish that I had prefect memory recall.

But our social was good with lots of stories told, good food eaten, and a good time had by all.

Having socials are also good for another reason as well. Most of these people have only seen me in my running or cycling attire so a change in venue gives me an opportunity to see other people dressed for their day jobs.

One of the shows my daughters like to watch is "What not to wear". The show transforms people who normally dress down to being dressed up. Usually, the transformation is significant.

This is how I view these socials. Take away the running shorts and singlet and replace them with a dress or jacket/dockers and I am left wondering who this charming person is. Fortunately, I am bright enough to quickly realize who it is – at least in most cases.


 

Sharing one thought at a time,

The Cool Down Runner


 


 


 

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Blister – Oh so tender

After years of running my feet are pretty tough. Lots of miles will do that to them. But sometimes even the smallest pebble can feel like a boulder when I step on it.

That's what's happening right now.

Somewhere along the road to Manteo I developed this huge blister on my right foot. This was not the first blister to mark my completion of a marathon race, but this current OBX blister has been the most lingering.

For 3 weeks, I ran on a sore blister which was just about healed. Then, along comes the Holiday Huntersville ½ marathon. Here I created a new blister and reopened the old one.

Seems like since September, the only luck I can get is bad luck where injuries are concerned.

I mean a blister is a blister and it isn't like I have never had one before nor ever run on one before.

Sunday, I ran. Monday, I ran and so on.

By yesterday, instead of getting better, it was getting worse. I could barely put any weight on the middle part of my foot. I tried running on the outside part but after a while, this part even started hurting.

Now comes the gross part. You might want to skip the rest.

After my run, I knew I needed to open it. The trouble was; the blister is hidden under a large callus. This takes me back to a Tom Hanks movie – Castaway. In the movie Tom Hanks has a bad tooth that needed to come out so using a pair of ice skates and a rock, he knocks out the tooth. The scene hurts just watch in the movie and what I was about to do was probably going to hurt as well.

I sterilized a needle and prepared to open it. One of three things were about to happen. Water would come out. Blood would come out. I would hit a nerve. Of the 3 options, I hoped it was not the last.

No leather strap, I just gritted my teeth and plunged in the needle. No blood came out but a lot of water and pus. No wonder my foot has been hurting.

Next there was some squeezing to encourage all of it to come out and then applied some antibiotic cream.

My foot is oh so sore today. I may try to do just a few miles. I have to keep my streak going.

Otherwise, I am trying to stay off it. Maybe a couple of real easy day are what I need anyway.


 

Sharing one thought at a time,

The Cool Down Runner


 


 


 

 

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

CRC Board Meeting #2

Last month came my election to the CRC board which meant that I was now obligated to attend the monthly meetings. Not that I couldn't attend before because all board meetings are open to the entire club as far as I know. But being on the board comes with the responsibility that one needs to attend the meetings.

Thus, the December meeting rolled around last night at 7 PM and was held in the lounge at the Dowd YMCA. Having the meeting at the YMCA actually allowed me to combine two activities.

Shortly after 5pm, I headed for the Y with my workout bang in hand. A good hour and 15 minutes worth of easy cardio and strength training works wonders. A quick shower and up stairs to the lounge area for our 7 PM meeting.

Aaron, Billy, Ben, Mike, Emily, Caitlin were all in attendance.

Aaron handed out a copy of the agenda and we went through the items line by line.


 

  • Financial Update
  • Holiday lights run
  • CRC Winter Classic Update
  • CRC Race Series Update
  • Renewal Process
  • Nominating 2 additional members
  • Prez/VP/Treasurer/Sec roles assignment
  • Jan- day long working session


 

Billy reviewed the details of the club finances and updated us on the status of the club getting a P.O. Box.

Our "holiday lights run" was discussed and some thought was given to maybe altering the route to one with more lights. Emily is following up and will report back with more details about the course. Btw – this is schedule for later this month so stay alert and come out.

CRC Winter Classic update was pretty quick as only Emily and Caitlin hadn't been active in those discussions. The web site is just about ready with race information as well as registration. There is also the ability for mail in registration by printing out the forms to your local printer. The course has been documented. But like any race there many other tasks to complete.

CRC Race Series Update – This topic was discussed briefly but in large part was put on hold. Really, this is a separate meeting unto itself. I like the idea of a CRC race series so might just have to setup and help on this one.

Renewal process – there was some discussion about how the process currently works and what the vision is for this in the coming years. There is going to be opportunities at the upcoming runs where you can renew your membership in person. The other option is to mail in a check and of course there is the online registration option.

Nominating of 2 (at large) board members – This is one of the more interesting attributes of the CRC club. The board has the ability to choose 2 additional at large members. No other club that I am in allows this.

There were many good names discussed as possible candidates for these two positions. I could tell there was a lot of thought going into the nominations.

Board roles – most everyone agreed the board roles assignments for '12 would be pushed back until January when the two at large members could attend.

Day Long Working session – Although the club has only been around for a short time, these day long working sessions a couple of times per year seem to have become a tradition. Having not attended one, I am interested in seeing what these meeting involve.

That's about it.

The meeting lasted just over an hour. Billy was taking notes so he will post a more detailed account where ever the club keeps them. I am new so I am still learning.


 

Sharing one thought at a time,


 

The Cool Down Runner

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Follow up on the Huntersville Half Marathon

Late last night or really, early this morning depending on your point of view – 12:15 AM to be exact, I got an email from Bear Robinson. He is the race director for the Huntersville races this past weekend. In the email, he made apologies for the lack of medals, shirts, and beanies for the race participates. He went on to say that he was well under way in getting those items for the people that didn't get them on race day. I ran run enough races to know that I cannot fault a guy for running out of stuff when his race gets a huge number of participates last minute.

Additionally, in his email he sought feedback from the runners both good and bad on how to improve the race for next year.

All things given, his efforts were pretty effective for a first year race. I'd give him an "A" for his race director efforts

His email did allude to some requests from the Town of Huntersville. He didn't give any details, but I could give a couple of good guesses and it would have to do with crossing Highway 73.

Starting the race near Fleet Feet and crossing 73 probably wasn't a big issue but having runners crossing back in ones and twos put a busy highway at a standstill. I know when I crossed the intersection; the traffic was backed up a good ways in both directions. Thus, we probably delayed more than one person from getting to Starbucks on time – sorry, just a little sarcastic humor on my part.

As for changes, I have a few recommendations.

First, let's tackle the issue of crossing highway 73. Having the race start and then within a quarter mile cross 73 should not be a major issue for the Town of Huntersville because it would only tie up traffic for a few minutes. As well the roads are wider and it makes things much easier as the race grows. The bigger question is how to get runners back across 73 without tying up traffic. There is the option of moving the finish across 73 and maybe into the parking lot with Jason Deli. Another option that comes to mind is extend the greenway path under the bridge that carries 73. Then, the runners could come up the back way and still finish near Fleet Feet. I like this idea the best.

There is one other change that I would like to see. Today, we don't have enough out and back courses. The opportunity to see the runners ahead and behind is always something that I liked. Changing the ½ course to be out and back would not be too difficult. Not to mention, the change would reduce the number of water stops, course monitors, and other traffic congestion issues. Particularly, the sections we ran along Gilead and Stumptown Roads. Trying to give runners a place to run using cones to provide a small running space on a two lane road just doesn't make sense. Besides, I wan run through the area enough; we could easily get a 6.55 mile course one way.

However, I don't want to end my post on a negative note.

When it is all said and done, Bear and his team deserve a big pat on the back for a job well done. Congrads Bear.


 


 

Sharing one thought at a time,


 

The Cool Down Runner

 

Monday, December 5, 2011

Large boulders don’t roll up hill easily

Yes, if one were to decide to push a rather large boulder uphill, they shouldn't expect the boulder to go up easily.

After my debacle during the Huntersville half marathon I finally gave in and said enough was enough. Trying to race, trying to put in training miles, all the while trying to recover was just too much.

Not to mention the huge OBX blister that was healing very nicely only to be reopened during the ½ . If there is such a thing as shooting ones' self in the foot, then I have been doing it.

For now, any expectations that I had for racing have been shelved. And other than maybe jumping into a workout to help Megan as she finishes her prep for the trials, my hard running will be kept to a minimum.

I'll do Disney as a long run in January and the look forward into '12. I will focus on getting my hamstring healed and with it hopefully a return to good running form.

On the marathon front, an extended break may be just the ticket that I need.

The last 4 years have seen me complete 10 marathons and a 50k. Then, there are the numerous half marathons, 10 mi., 15k, 10k, 4 mi., 5k, cycling races, and Duathlons. Looking back on it now, I feel like I lite the candle at both ends with a blow torch. Things seemed to have burned quickly.

Someone one said – "Getting to the top is hard work. Staying on-top means working even harder".

More than once I have looked toward the mountain top and salivated over it. Not that I wanted to be on top again, but that I craved the hard work necessary to get there. Maybe in another post, I'll explain why – someday.


 

Sharing one thought at time,

The Cool Down Runner


 

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Huntersville ½ marathon – recap – Dec 3 2011

Disappointing is probably a little too strong of a word to describe my effort today but that is how I pretty much feel. Going into the race I was expecting something in the 1:24 range but the effort just never materialized.

The start was delayed several times and most everyone was bouncing around trying to stay warm. When we were finally sent on our way, my breathing was unusually labored. The first mile was in 6:20. Mike, Chris, Megan, and Caleb were taking it out pretty slow so I was settled in behind them.

During the 2nd mile, we were doing a little more pulling and the breathing pushed to being heavy. Mile 3 and the first part of mile 4 were not bad. My legs were feeling decent.

Then, the hills started.

My hamstring wasn't having any of it and I was starting to slow. By mile 5, I realized things were not going to go well. Mile 6 and Mile 7 passed as we headed up Stumptown Rd.

After the neighborhood loop, I felt the first wheel come off. By 10 miles, both wheels were gone and I was riding on the rims. The last 3 miles were as much a mental torture as a physical one.

Before this race, I had decided on switching up my racing flats. After getting a bad blister on my right foot at OBX, I thought going in a different direction would be the right course of action.

Hindsight, it was probably wasn't. My right foot got another blister just in a different spot from the ones I earned at OBX. Thank goodness for small favors.

Crossing the last major intersection, I was all but done and the body was more than ready to be finished.

Navigating between the buildings seemed to take forever before the finish line finally came into sight. Time for racing was over and the time for walking was about to begin.

Mike came up to ask if I was alright and my response - "yeah, just having a bad day".

Disney Marathon is a little more than 5 weeks from now and normally, my training would usually look pretty promising.

However, since this hamstring injury occurred, my racing has gotten progressively worse. Today's race pounded the final nail in my coffin. The best thing to do is stop racing and go back just running aerobic miles until my hamstring and body "come right". That is except for Disney. 100+ dollar entry fee is pretty hard to throw down the drain so I will go, run, and take the unpleasantness that comes with it.

2011 is nearly over and I am ready to put it behind me. Come on 2012 and show me something promising; I am ready for it.


 


 

Sharing one thought at a time,


 

The Cool Down Runner

Friday, December 2, 2011

A 4000 mile year in sight

When I started this year, I set a goal for myself to run at least 4000 miles. That means, I would need to average at least 10 miles every day for 365 days in a row. For the better part of this year, my goal seemed achievable and maybe even easily reachable. Then my hamstring reared its ugly head like a troll requiring payment before letting me pass.

More than once the last three months, I had all but given up hopes of reaching it.

Now, with the arrival of colder temperatures and the day light hours growing ever shorter, my goal of reaching 4000 miles seems so close that I can almost taste it. Hopefully, it will not be like sticking my tongue to a pole in sub zero weather. Ouch, even the thought hurts while bouncing around my brain.

Tonight, I ran the totals for November and came up with 300 miles. This leaves me just 171 miles short.

Unless I get run over by a reindeer or maybe Santa's sleigh, I got an excellent change of hitting my mark.

Reaching 4000 miles would be quite an accomplishment for me. Most years, I will run somewhere in the neighborhood of 3500 to 3800 miles which in and of its self is a lot of miles, but 3800 just doesn't have the same ring to it as 4000.

Without really understanding why, running 4000+ miles in a year just seems to put one in a different category.

Exactly what that category is well, I am not sure.

By the way, the sound you might be hearing are the bells starting to warm up. Ring, ring, ring, 4, 0, 0, 0.


 

Sharing one thought at a time,


 

The Cool Down Runner

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Putting on a race

Who knew that putting on a race could be so complex and so expense? Well, to honest, I kind of expected it to be expensive and of course nothing in this world is easy any more.

But as I sat through our meeting this evening, I was just taken back by cost of every little item that it takes to put on a race and the number of people needing to be involved in the race planning and organization just to get it on the calendar. Let alone the number of people needed on race day.

The logistics in and of its self are mind boggling from the number of water bottles for the race to the number of porta potties needed - from the mapping out of the course to the breakdown of awards. And these are some of the easier discussion points. There is the entry fee to charge and flyers that need to be approved and so on and so on. The list of tasks needing to be completed is only slightly shorter than Santa's list of kids getting presents this year.

Is there wonder why most race directors have white hair or if they have any hair at all?

Yet, races continue to pop up like dandelions in my yard. Almost every weekend there is a new race on the calendar.

And apparently there is no shortage of individuals either who don't know any better or are just to plain stubborn to realize (I count myself a little of both) the sheer volume of work that goes into making a race successful.

A while back, I wrote about saying "thanks" in one of my post. Today, I say "thanks" to the race directors of the world for all you do that gives me a safe race to run and marvelous experience.

Sharing one thought at a time,


 

The Cool Down Runner

The Endless Season

I was flipping through on my Running Times magazine and found myself reading about running the endless season. Baseball, they play what – 163 games – seems like it takes forever. Basketball, they play something like 83 games not counting the playoffs. Pro basketball goes on forever as well. And then there is NASCAR which has about 60 days off between the end of one season and the start of another season.

However, none of them can touch running i.e. road racing. The road race season pretty is available to all of us 365 days per year from Jan 1 through Dec 31. We can usually find a race just about every Saturday morning and most Sunday mornings. Depending on the time of year, a race will spring up on most any week day.

Being one that races way too often and trains just as much, I have to admit that I need some down time from time to time.

The hard part is finding it. There are so many good races around and even more coming. I just read about Peter putting on this moonlight run that starts at the Badin Drive-In and runs to the top of Morrow Mt. The race starts at like 10:45 PM at night. Now who would not want to put something unique like this race on their racing schedule?

Oh well, I guess I am doomed to my running desires and will be running and racing for the rest of my life.

Now, if I can find a little downtime and get this hamstring working a little better, I would enjoy it even more.


 

Sharing one thought at a time,

The Cool Down Runner