Monday, December 31, 2012

2012 “Moments in time”

2012 has been both a struggle at times and seen some great accomplishments for me. In this recap, I thought I would call out a few specific moments that stand out to me this year. I call this post "moments in time".

Moments in time….

The year started with me standing at the Disney Marathon starting line beside Mike and feeling both under trained and unsure if I was going to be able to finish it. At least, I was not sure I could finish it without walking, but this was Disney marathon. I paid a ton of money so I was at least going to try. The fireworks sent us on our way. Mike disappears in to the darkness ahead of me. I try to find my happy place and wait to see how my hamstring is going to take running 26 miles. The darkness keeps my mind off my troubles. I reach the ½ way point in just over 1 hour and 26 minutes. The sun rises and I see this line of runners ahead of me. For the next 13 miles, I charge after them and not once thinking about my hamstring. With the finish line finally in sight, I realize that my only walking today would be after I cross the finish line. My 2 hours and 53 minute time felt as good as the day I ran 2 hours and 38 minutes.

A few months later, l let Megan talk me into running a couple of local 5k races. In the first one as we are lining up, the rain starts pouring. They send us on our way and the rain only gets heavier. Then, the thundering and lightning happen. This isn't the kind of thunder and lightning that happen miles away. This is the sound and sight of it happening on top us. The thunder cracked and my adrenal glands dumped enough adrenaline into my system to last me for days. I felt like I was soaring to the finish. The second race wasn't quite as exciting but it was another pouring rain affair. Two soaking races made for an interesting start to '12 and I have Megan to thank for them.

From here, the memories shift to the running of the Palmetto Relay. We start the relay with several other teams. Glen is our lead out runner and I have never seen him run faster. I remember seeing Jason running along on a dirt road section of the course. With all the vans passing him, he came to the relay point and had this shade of grey about it him. I smile now just thinking about it. On Megan Fillnow's first leg, she takes off running at about 5 minute pace. I am not sure she realized that her leg was about 5+ miles. My leg is the first leg that transitions from daylight to dark. When I hit the transition zone, I hear people yelling for me, but I cannot see anyone. There seem to be about a million head lamps shining into my eyes.

There was the 3:30 AM 2.5 mile run. It was cold and I was more asleep than awake during this run. In the middle of the night, we found out that Kent couldn't go and Jason had covered Kent's leg of the relay. I volunteered to run Kent's final 5 mile leg. I kept looking for Mo as the runners came through. Then I saw her and I yelled to her. I had run already run 45 minutes for my first 7.5 mile leg and 13 minutes for the 2.5 mile. I had no idea what this 3rd leg would be like, but 28 minutes and 40 some seconds later I reached the next exchange point. I exhausted and my tank was empty. The night had been tough but interesting. I remember seeing Stan asleep behind the wheel of our van. No he wasn't driving. We were waiting in the parking lot and Jinnie was sleeping in the floor. I don't know how she could do it. I remember leapfrogging from relay point to relay point and chatting to Thomas to see how our Raleigh team was doing.

Jinnie and Stan had the two legs before me. Jinnie's leg lead over the bridge and into the Island Palms with an awesome view of the ocean. Stan's leg took him over the Charleston Bridge. I remember seeing him chugging away up the walk way on the side of the bridge and then sprinting to hand me the baton so I could run the final leg.

I remember being hot, tired, and worried that I would get lost. The best sight was coming to the finish and having everyone finish along with me. This was an awesome experience.

3 memories really jump out during the summer months and they were from the China Groove 5k, Beat the Heat 5k, and the Elvis 5k. For the entire race, I could see Mike running in front of me. I was closing and closing. With a maybe a half mile to go, I was almost to his shoulder. With the finish line in sight, I was about ready to kick when someone yelled "Go Bill" and Mike took off. I had nothing left and I could not match his effort and finished a few seconds behind him. But it was so much fun.

At Beat the Heat 5k, I am coming to the finish and this guy stumbles, falls, gets up, stumbles again, falls again. Finally, as I am almost to the finish he throws himself across the line and just lays there. I have never seen anything like it in a race before.

At the Elvis 5k, I am coming to finish. This 16 year boy has been setting on my shoulder and he strikes coming to the finish. Darn it, I would love to have those young legs. He just seemed to float by me and to the finish line.

Labor Day came and Mike, Megan, and I were in Charleston, WV for the running of the Charleston 15 miler. We were heading over the Bridge when Mike says to me "This feels like we are running a 5k". I didn't say anything in response, but thought "Oh, you have not seen anything yet". We were just about to hit a 2.5 mile climb. Charleston Distance Run has always been a favorite race for me, but "man" the last 2 years it has been hot.

2 weeks later I was in Badin for their brutally hilly ½ marathon. What I remember most is running through the 10k finishers. They were an awesome group and cheered me on. I also remember getting this awesome trophy. The thing was huge.

The month of October saw me battling Donny down to the wire at the Big South 5k. That was so much fun. I had passed Donny around a mile into the race and he just hung on my shoulder. Then, coming to the last 2 turns, he put a serious move on me. I couldn't respond to it on that day.

November turned into a busy racing month for me. I ran OBX for the 5th time. I was happy with the time 2:46 but I wasn't happy with how I preformed. I felt like I didn't run up to my potential.

A week later, I finished 3rd overall at Santa Scramble and 1st Male Master. I remember going through the first mile in 5:31 and feeling like I was sprinting. "Man" was I glad this was a flat and downhill course.

4 days later, I lined up at Charlotte's very own "Turkey Trot 8k". I had no real expectations other than just run hard and enjoy a run with 9000+ of my closest friends. Within the first half mile, I catch sight of Donny and quickly make my way across to run close behind him. Just before the mile, I make a move similar to the one in the Big South 5k and pass him. But this time, I don't try to settle. I keep pushing.

Turning on the Colony which is the new section of the course, I am holding something in reserve. We reach Sharon Rd and the 4th mile point. My Garmin dings with the split and I think I have blown any chance of running in the 28s for this day. With nothing to lose at this point, I charge the last mile. If I blow up, so what.

I turn the final corner and remember being confused by the time on the finish clock. Did is say 27 minutes or 29 minutes. No, it says 27 minutes. I charged to the finish and the clock just ticks too fast for me. I finish in 28:03 after having run the last mile in 5:14. I have no idea where the energy for this last mile originated.

Two days later with my spikes in my hand, I am ready to run the Foot Locker Open/Master. The ground was frozen that morning so while the spikes grabbed well in the grass, they were not very good on the dirt. And, I went out way to fast that first mile. This was not a case of oxygen debt. This was more like the running version "Fiscal Cliff" raising lactic acid levels and having 0 oxygen in my sytem . But the fun part is racing around so many other good runners. That's where I found the enjoyment in running and in competing. I would go on to finish as the 13 overall masters and receive a Foot Locker medal for my efforts. At the end of the day, I was happy that I choose to check the Foot Locker 5k off my bucket list.

Clearly, I have highlighted some of the most enjoyable moments of '12, but it wasn't all roses and smiles. My hamstring kept me in-check most of the year and only after seeing Dr. Markel did I feel the corner being turned. I missed running the New River 50k because of dumb incident with my quad. There were races where I just didn't race well and probably a few races where I should have just not run.

But when I look back on '12, I don't focus on the low moments. I focus on the good moments. I spent many miles running with friends. Some were speedy. Some were not so speedy. Some like running on trails. Some like running on the roads.

What I feel most fortunate about is they don't mind running with me.

Here's hoping '13 brings me as many good memories as '12 and hopefully more.


 

Sharing one thought at time,

The Cool Down Runner


 


 

Saturday, December 29, 2012

20 miler – 1st 10 in 73 and 2nd 10 in 66

Okay, consider me a major wimp this morning. While my friends were battling the rain and cold at McAlpine, I stayed warm and toasty in my bed. Taking advantage of this opportunity I got some extra shut eye.

When the rain finally did lift and the sun came through the clouds, I pushed out the door for my 20 miler.

My 20 mile route is an out and back course so I only felt the wind once in a while during the first 10 miles. While the first 10 miles didn't feel that hard, it might have been just an illusion assisted by the gentle shove from Mother Nature. 73 minutes was the time which incidentally was about the same time that I had just ran on Friday morning with the CRC group from the Dowd.

Oh, but when I turned around, I suddenly felt the chill from the breeze and the tightening of the legs and the arms. But somehow, I had this thought in my head that I needed to run the back half of this run faster than the first half. Honestly, the thought never crossed my mind that the first half would be run in 73 minutes.

Having a head wind doesn't make it impossible to run the 2nd half faster; it just makes it a little more difficult. I trudged onward. Each mile was tough. The wind only let up when I found the shelter of some trees or a house. Mainly, I just had to take it head on. I hit the 2 hour point with 3 miles run. I can do this. No hill or wind can stop me now unless I let it.

I climbed the last hill and turned into my development. I looked at my Garmin's pace reading for some encouragement and I was running 5:51 pace. The Odometer finally hit 20 miles and I pressed the stop button.

The first 10 had been in a brisk 73 minutes and really faster than I expected. But the 2nd 10 were run in 66 minutes. This was a nice confidence booster considering that I was running into the wind.

All in all, I felt bad for skipping out on the morning run, but just so you guys know, when I finished, I was hurting just as much. I just wasn't soaked by the rain however.


 

Sharing one thought at time,

The Cool Down Runner


 

 

Friday, December 28, 2012

TrySports Ambassador Team year in review

If someone had told me in '07 when I joined on to the TrySports Ambassador team, I would still be on the team 5 years later, I would have said no way. Before '07, I had never been affiliated with any running store in Charlotte. I raced where I wanted and shopped where I wanted.

Today, people recognize me more by the orange and black singlets or Try-Tops than anything else. I have worn the store colors all over the state of North Carolina and quite a few other states.

During these past 5 years, I have come to know many of the runners that have stayed on our Ambassador team from year to year and the store employees that make up the TrySports family. Maybe I am reading too much into it but I like to think that our TrySports Ambassador team is part of the TrySports employee's extended family.

Each year our Ambassador team has become a little more ambitious and this year, I feel comfortable saying was one of our best years ever.

Our team members won races and placed well in many events throughout this year. Our cycling team became an organized force this year not only on the roads but on the trails and on the track. Our Try-Team took the swimming, cycling, and running to a level not previously seen at TrySports. They raced events from local Trys to the most well known races of all the Ironman – Kona.

But our Running Team is the one that I am very proud to say out shined any of our previous year's running teams. We put together socials for the entire team. We created a team for the Palmetto Relay and finished 2nd overall to yet another TrySports team from Raleigh. We organized a water stop for the Charlotte's only 10 mile and 4 mile race. Our running team shared their enthusiasm and energy by volunteering to help Judy and her team captains by running with their boys running club. Our team members have run with Meredith's Running Works program and came out to support Meredith's efforts with the Monster Dash 5k. Our team ran road races, trail races, and track races. We lent members out so they could run relays in other states. We won team awards at the Charleston Distance Run and the Big South 5k. Our members raced everything from a ¼ mile to a 100 or more miles. We created our team ambassador news letter so other members of our team could stay abreast of team wide race results.

The best description that I heard anyone say about our team was "Hey, we knew you guys were here".

This speaks volumes in my opinion.

While our ambassador team remains a humble group of individuals, our silence illustrates strength because our actions do the talking for us.

Congratulations to our TrySports Ambassador team on a fantastic '12 year. You set goals. You worked toward them and you showed that hard work does pay off.

With '13 arriving in a few days, our Ambassador team members will once again be training themselves to reach their lofty goals. "Believe Achieve"


 

Sharing one thought at time,

The Cool Down Runner – TrySports Ambassador since '07


 


 


 

Shoe lace fartlek morning

Today, I have kind of a funny story to tell. It all started a couple of weeks ago when Mike and I started doing a Friday morning 6 am run from the Dowd YMCA. The first week, it was just a small crew: Jay-mar, Derrick, Mike, and me. This morning, I thought we were going to need a city permit. There must have been 15 of us touring the Tryon, Park, Freedom Park, Selwyn, and Morehead roads.

That I can remember, we had Jay (down from NY), Jay-mar, Derrick, Caleb, David, Brad, Paul, Tim, Mike, and a couple of other guys. Oh, yeah, Dalena, how can I forget the only girl or should I say "woman" to be politically correct to join us on this 29 degree morning.

First we swung by Caitlin's house to pick up Megan N. We rang the door bell but no one answered. Someone suggested that we start singing Christmas carols. Perhaps this would get them up and out running. After all, there were about 15 of us. "Deck the Halls" and "Jingle Bells" might have sounded pretty good coming from this group.

From there we swung back along the blue line. This is where the "shoe lace" part comes into play. I was taking out a new pair of shoes for their initial run. The strings would not stay tied. Twice I had to stop and tie them and then, I had to sprint i.e. fartlek back up to the group. There was no waiting from them. And, I expected none. But those were not little accelerations. I mean, we finished the entire 10 miles in 73 and this included slowing and stopping for lights among other things.

Around 6 miles, we cut through Freedom Park. There we split the group. Most were doing just 8 miles so they turned left on East and headed back to the Y. Jay-mar, Jay, Mike, and I needed 10 miles so we turned right and headed long Princeton and then cut through by the elementary school to pick up Selwyn and back to Morehead.

Here our group actually grew in size. We are all running along talking about CRC when we hear someone yelling at us. It's Billy out for his mid week – mid long run. He had Meghan and Jordan in tow.

We resynced the group and headed for the Y. This was actually fortuitous for me as those early sprint took it out of my legs.

But on the bright side with all of the left and right turns, we hit the Y right on 10 miles so thumbs up to those leading.

Really appreciate all of the people making an effort to hit the roads so early in the morning and get their days started right.


 

Sharing one thought at time,

The Cool Down Runner

Thursday, December 27, 2012

SLR #4 Ugly Sweater Run

We runners of Charlotte need to make sure that we thank the people who organize and support our social running events. We need to start with people like Phyllis and Peter. Phyllis puts in a yeomen's effort making these little Greenway efforts happen and Peter who drives over from Albemarle to time the events.

Last Sunday was Phyllis' 4th SLR event this year. I have personally run in 3 of them and always walked away having a good time.

This one was the "Ugly Sweater" run and there were a number of "ugly sweaters" in the starting line crowd. Long with them were a number of people in holiday costumes or decked out in some holiday attire including one "Santa Claus".

As for me, I was sporting my typical cold weather running clothes since it was close to 28 degrees. Mike and I were looking for a little tempo effort that morning so we met up around 7 AM. We started out with a 4 mile warm up and then

met up with the "Ugly Sweater" run group.

Starting from Rea Rd, the greenway feeds slightly downhill. Mike and I ran a couple of miles before being joined by Dennis L. Dennis was looking for an 8 mile effort. We were on the greenway for about 3 miles when we made this little neighborhood detour. Phyllis changed the course so we stayed away from the major traffic. And this neighborhood loop was hilly but perfect and added just the right amount of distance to our race.

Dennis turned back after the neighborhood loop and Mike and I headed for the 51 entrance of the greenway. We made the turn around and headed back. About a half mile in Mike slowed just a little and I looked back to check if anything was wrong. His calf was bothering him and he gestured for me to continue on. Even with this cold that I had been fighting for days, I felt like running.

The next mile was 6:08 and the cold morning air felt great. I made the 2nd loop of the neighborhood and was finally headed for home. I noticed only a slight twinge in my right hamstring over the final mile. Cruising to the finish in 1:26:09, my body felt like it still had

more miles in it. By the way, my Garmin measured the course in 13.11 so it was definitely pretty close to being a full half. Mike and I did a very easy 3 mile cool down. Our total miles for the day were 20 with 13 at a pretty hard pace.

Afterwards, I hung out and cheered people coming to the finish and chatted with Peter.

Wrapping things up, one cannot say enough – big thanks to Phyllis and Peter for stepping up to make these events happen.


 

Sharing on thought at time,

The Cool Down Runner


 


 

 

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Beyond the end of the world

As the end of the world loomed, honestly on the 21st, I really hadn't given it much thought. I mean, if the world really did end, what could I do to stop it? Hard as it may be for some people to comprehend, the world really doesn't revolve around me. LOL.

So I was making plans for running into the weekend and for races in the New Year, all this assuming I would wake up the next morning. And, I would NOT be floating off in to space because the poles for some mysterious reason got reversed.

More than a few people must have believed that the world would end when the Mayan Calendar ended. I heard one story about a Chinese man that cashed every asset that he had and spent his money. Imagine the surprised look on this face when he woke the next morning. I wonder if his first thought was "how could I have been so stupid". Well, least he enjoyed his money while he had it and now, he can start fresh and clean. – By the way, I hope he didn't max out his credit cards. Oh, this could get nasty for him.

Anyway, I just wanted to congratulate everyone on surviving the end of the world and now, get back to running. There is a ton of races in '13 that need to be run and you want to be in shape for them.


 

Sharing one thought at time,

The Cool Down Runner

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Cresting a hill

Finishing up one of my hill repeats on Tuesday reminded me of a good strategy to use during my next race. Maybe I shouldn't share these strategies but then again, a good idea should be shared.

Here's the race scenario.

You are running along with either someone right behind or right beside you. This nice long hill looms in front of both of you. You body is already straining from the effort and this looming hill will not do anything to alleviate the strain.

You push into the hill. Your legs grow heavier and your breathing becomes even more labored if this is possible. You pump your arms to gain every bit of extra drive possible. The guy right behind you is working equally hard and keeping pace with you.

The crest of the hill is just in sight and you know a momentary spot of relief is coming.

Finally, you start to crest over the hill. The thought resonating in your brain tells you to ease back even if it is just for a second.

DON'T. I repeat DON'T. Run through the crest of the hill with the same effort that you used going up the hill.

Nothing can be more demoralizing to another racer than seeing a fellow competitor crest a hill then surge down it. Just the thought alone can leave him defeated and possibly leave him willing to give up the chase. He then settles for running to the finish.

Now, when I run my hill repeats, I push through the top. I practice doing just what I said. Then, during a race my brain and body are tuned to do the same thing – push through the crest of a hill.


 

Sharing one thought at time,

The Cool Down Runner


 

 

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Status Update

Man, the month of December has been a blur. Between work, Christmas Parities, Running Club Activities, running, and some other stuff, I have been "running" none stop so far this month.

A lot of this stuff, I probably don't need to do, but I do – do it. For two reasons, I feel it needs to be done and I feel like I need to set the example when it comes to stepping up.

For instance, now that I accepted the role as CRC president, I feel like I need to pay attention to every detail. Our club has its 8k race in a little more than 5 weeks. For a non-paying job, the CRC BOD members have been putting in a "yeomen" work schedule.

You wouldn't believe the amount of different tasks that go into making a race happen.

In the past, I'd always viewed the race from the other side of the fence – as a competitor. When I flipped over to the directing side of the race, I quickly realize why "Advil" is the pain relief of race directors everywhere.

Race director try to have everything right and still someone is going to find a criticism for their efforts.

Putting in all this time really makes me appreciate how well most race directors handle the stress. My guess is probably 95% of all race directors and their race committees are all volunteers. They do it because they love it and they want to make it happen. If they didn't, then most likely the race would either not happen or cease to exist.

Next time a race doesn't go to my liking, I think I will count to 10 and just let it go. There no need for me to pile on to the race directors mountain of concerns.


 

Sharing one thought at time,

The Cool Down Runner

Sunday, December 16, 2012

First 20 miler of the month

Got a "txt" message asking if I was interested in running at the WWC on Saturday morning. I could have run 20 miles solo but why do that.

Time always pass faster when the company is nice.

Saturday morning, Val, Megan, Dan, Kent, and Mike B. joined me to hit these trails at White Water Center.

We started with the Lake loop and I got nothing but grief from Dan. LOL. Either I was running to slow or I was running to fast. For a while, I thought maybe I was running with Goldilocks. He couldn't get his porridge just right.

Next, we did the loop down by the rapids and back to the parking lot. Then, we did another loop of the Lake loop. Mike, Val, and I did another loop of the rapid trail.

The last 40 minutes, I was solo and back on the Lake trail on more time. I figure stick with it because my legs were starting to tire and I didn't want to risk a fall.

This lake trail was added back in the summer and is pretty nice. A few roots, but overall, the trail lets the runners hold a pretty good pace.

As I was finishing I noticed there is also a north trail. I have no idea what it is like, but next time I run at the WWC, this will be my first trail to hit.


 

Sharing one thought at time,

The Cool Down Runner

Friday, December 14, 2012

3 mile time trail and 8 x 200

This week, I am a partier by night and logging miles by morning. This sounds like I am burning the candle at both ends doesn't it.

This morning Megan was willing to run some easy miles around the track while I ran my up tempo workout on the track.

I am still early in my training cycle so I don't want to do anything too crazy.

Today, my workout was a 3 mile tempo with a quarter mile recovery. This was followed by 8 x 200 with a recovery 200.

We ran up to the track which gave us about 3 miles total for a warm up.

Then, I started my workout. The temperature was still in the low 30s and the sun had yet to rise above the tree line. Trying to shift my legs into a higher gear the process didn't want to go smoothly. My hamstrings, quads, and glutz were feeling extremely stiff. I hoped that it would shake off after a couple of laps and it did. But I still felt like I was slugging it out through mud.

4 laps into the 12 laps, I clicked the mile split. When I held up my Garmin to see the split, the sun was right in my eyes. I thought it said 6:48. The way my legs felt 6:48 seemed to be about right. I churned through another 4 laps and hit the 2nd mile split. This time I could see it clearly: 5:47. Wow, I knew then by the effort that the first mile split wasn't 6:48 but 5:48. Megan was yelling encourage from the side lines and I needed it for the last mile. I tried to just relax and keep the pace the same as much as I could. I never looked at my Garmin between the mile splits. I only listed to my breathing and monitored the general effort that I was putting out.

I circled the track 3 more times and hit the final mile split: 5:44.

I have no idea where this effort came from. I finished off the 8 x 200 with 200 recovery and we headed back down the hill for the cool down part of our run.

That's when Megan says that she isn't up for 7:15 pace recovery cool down and if I wanted to go on that I could. No, I was quite willing to slow it down, but on the inside, I did enjoy the moment at least a little. Usually, the shoe is on the other foot. I have left everything on the track and I am creeping along trying to keep up with Megan as we cool down. Although, I usually just suck up and run. LOL. I mean after all "she is a girl" albeit a fast girl.


 

Sharing one thought at time,

The Cool Down Runner

CRC Club President

When in 2011, I was nominated and later elected to the Charlotte Running Club board of directors, I was a little unsure of what I was getting into. I know my first few months were rough as I learned the ropes. But at the year rolled along, I felt like I was finding my footing and as the summer rolled into the fall, I was really starting to enjoy my role in the club.

When Aaron made it known that he would not be seeking reelection to the Presidential role, I begin to kick around the idea of running for Club president. That is, assuming I was reelected to our club's board.

Well, my fellow club members felt that I was worthy of another two year term on the club's BOD because they voted me back in earlier this month. Only then, did I start to public express an interest in the club's Presidential role.

People who know me – know these things about me. I am definitely not a social butterfly. I believe actions speak louder than words. I believe people need to lead by example and set a good example for others. I believe in listening first and then speaking.

Our club's '13 BOD is made up of new eager members wanting to make a difference and returning members that want to get things done. The combination of the two groups just make the anticipation for '13 almost too much to stand.

At our first '13 BOD meeting last night at Hickory Tavern, I was elected our club's President, Jamie was elected Vice President, Jon was elected our club's Secretary, and Billy remained our Treasurer. One the outside, I was trying to stay calm, but on the inside, I was doing a "fist pump".

I am really excited to take up this new challenge.

My philosophy will continue to be to have an open door policy.

If you have ideas for the club, definitely let me know. On that same note, if you don't like something, I need to know that as well.

This club is what we make of it and it is up to each of us to help by being involved in the club. This is the only way that you and I can successfully shape the future of our club.


 

Sharing one thought at time,

The Cool Down Runner


 


 

Thursday, December 13, 2012

TrySports Rea Rd. Store Customer Party

This is turning out to be quite a busy week for me. Tuesday night, we had our TrySports Ambassador Social. Last night, I dropped by the TrySports Rae Rd. store for their customer appreciation party.

Walking in the door last night, I spotted Rob and Cody talking to customers. The thought crossed my mind has it really been over 5 years since I met the both of them and got connected up with TrySports.

I ran a 5k race in Belmont some 5+ years ago and spent most of the race battling this kid before pulling away for the win. I say kid, but Cody was in his 20s at the time. We talked after the race. Later we did some runs together, and soon I had a TrySports running-Tec shirt to wear around at the races. Since then, I have been a loyal customer of TrySports and they given me few singlets to wear during my races over the years.

The party was in full swing last night. People were shopping and enjoying a nice spread of food, water, and wine. Jinnie, Jeremy,

Andre, Robbie, and Cody were organizing a raffle drawing. I walked away with a pair of very "Defeet" socks. But mostly, I got to catch up with the store employees and some of the customers that I knew. And, I met a few new ones.

The evening was marked by Andre presenting the store with a signed jersey from the cycling team for all of the store's support. Andre reviewed the individual race wins by the team, the

championships won, and the over results for the entire team. The jersey will hang in the Rea Rd which is where the cycling team was founded.

Around 8 pm, the evening started to wind down and I made my way slowly to the door. Tomorrow is another day and runners need to rest and recover before they attempt another workout.

TrySports customer appreciate events take on a different flavor than most of the other big stores that hold these types of events. The TrySports events leave the customer feeling like they are part of the family and that's a feeling people really like and it keeps them coming back.


 

Sharing one thought at time,

The Cool Down Runner

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

TrySports Ambassador Social

Last night at Encore off of Rea Rd in south Charlotte, our TrySports Ambassador team held our end of year social. For many of us, this was only the 2nd time that some of us had met each other.

Our TrySports Ambassador team is a diverse group which spans running, cycling, and triathlons. Because we are such a varied collection of athletes, most of us rarely race each other in the same races.

Getting to events like this give us an opportunity to catch up on what each other is doing but athletically and familywise.

Encore was great to us and gave us a back corner of their restaurant so we could hang out, talk, and eat. I made my rounds and tried to catch up with everyone. There were stories of the events we had completed this year and discussions about the race plans for the coming year. There was plenty of talk about the newest little TrySports Ambassadors that entered the world this year. Some talk of future little Ambassadors on their journey to join our team in the coming year.

We also welcomed back 2 long lost members back in to our fold. They were aboard for a few years: Cody and Janna. We also got a chance to see the newest "Angel" to be sent down to earth. She is cute and a sleeper. She slept right through the entire social.

Over the past year, I had been collecting pictures featuring various TrySports Ambassadors during either their events, runs, or just some training activity. I loaded all of those pictures on to my iPad and setup it up in slide show mode last night. The slide show was kind of a year in review.

There were pictures from our volunteer effort at the 10 miler in the spring. There were pictures of Mike K. and his kids and even a picture of Mike in his Ironman outfit. There were pictures from our efforts with Running Works. There were pictures from the long runs in the mountains. There were pictures of our cycling teams at the Team Time Trial at the speedway and during one of their races. There were pictures from triathlon team during their August half man. There were pictures from our Team win at the Big South 5k this fall. All told, I must have had 300 pictures.

Bringing out those pictures for everyone to see reminded us of our accomplishments by letting us look back and relive those fantastic moments.

The social lasted about 2 hours but before letting anyone slip away, I gave everyone a couple of "TrySports 5000" hand towels. Just a little memento they can use during their future training.

I saw many smiles and lots of laughter last night. My hope; everyone walked away having a good time and enjoyed catching up with their team mates.


 

Sharing one thought at time,

The Cool Down Runner


 


 


 

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

FlyWheel and Me

Last night was my first Fly Wheel class and let me say "Fly Wheel riding is a combination of fun and pain". The memory fades over time and recollects only the bright spots from our past. I guess this is why I remember only the fun parts from my cycling classes' years ago at the Y. That and the fact, I hadn't been on a bike of any time in 9 months. I am pretty sure; I wasn't going to be tearing up any records during this training session.

Around 7pm, they let us into the training room and I selected my bike. One difference that I quickly noticed, everyone wears cycling shoes so we are all clipped into our bikes. This part I like. I get a much better effort from the ride.

After some introductions, the lights go down, the score board comes on and our instructor rolls right into the workout.

5 minutes in and I am already breathing hard. Not mention, I am starting to sweat. No, I mean really sweat. Bubbles of perspiration cover my head and neck. She tells us to turn the torque up by 2. Ugh, I was struggling at the current setting. Then, she tells us to push the RPM up to 75. I tell my quads to go faster, but they refuse.

We finish this first hill section and she tells us that this was the easy hill. Fantastic, I am "so" looking forward to others. Next, we do an interval session of 100+ RPM for anywhere from 15 seconds to 1 minute.

The perspiration is now bubbling up on my arms. My towel is considerably wetter than when we started and my water bottle is nearly ½ empty.

I am feeling so gassed at this point and beginning to wonder was this a 45 minute or an hour long class. I am suddenly hoping, praying this is the 45 minute class.

We are back on the hills, then another interval session.

I

lose all track of time. All I really know is that my shirt is totally soaked and sweat continues to drip from my arms and head. I didn't sweat this much during the dog days of summer.

Then, she tells us to pull out these two long rods. Later, I learn one is 2 pounds and the other is 4 pounds. I miss the instruction that we can use either one or the other or both. I simply see her using both and follow suit. Maybe, we are two minutes in to the routine and my arms are burning and my deltoids are on fire.

She is making it look easy and I am just wondering can we go back to me suffering with some hard riding.

We finish up the strength slash core session and she puts us through one more hard session before we finish.

My legs are totally fried. Before we get off the bike, we run through some stretching routines. Our instructor then goes into covering what it means if you would like to join the "Fly Wheel" experience. Much like a marathon, don't ask me if I want to do another one right after I have just crossed the finish line. Give me a day or two to think about it.

Now, the lights are up. I look around the room. The class lasted maybe 50 minutes but everyone looks whipped. Billy has left a pool of sweat on the floor by his machine. Personally, in 50 minutes I soaked down an entire

20 oz. bottle of H20.

Man, I had forgotten how much fun one of these cycling classes can be. I am definitely thinking about adding it as an evening workout.

Big thanks to Chris for inviting up me to join his cycling class. Even with the pain, I definitely had a good time.


 

Sharing one thought at time,

The Cool Down Runner


 


 

 

Monday, December 10, 2012

Training during the holidays

Always, this time of year I really struggle with my training. After some 48 years of living and 31 years of running, shouldn't I have figured it out by now? Well, I am here to tell you that I haven't. Maybe this is just one struggle that I am doomed to repeat forever because I have never found a good solution for it.

This struggle stems from two very good reasons.

The first goes to just training. For the last 11 months I have pounded the pavement, planked, cored, stretched, lifted, and raced until my muscles "cried" uncle. Seriously, my muscles are ready for a break. They definitely deserve it. But the problem isn't limited to just the muscles in my arms, legs, and back, the muscle between my ears and behind my eyes also needs a rest. It may have been taxed even more than the one's in my arms and legs. It has kept me going when by all other accounts, I should have stopped. Shouldn't December be the month that it gets a chance to bounce back?

The second reason goes to just the holiday day season. There is just so much going on in our lives. We are traveling to see family and friends. We are shopping and chasing after that last perfect gift. We are going to holiday parties. And we are around good food. Really, we are around so much good food. A hungry athlete sometimes just cannot help himself. Maybe it is after the 2nd or 3rd plate that my brain finally says enough regular food and what's for desert. I mean – doesn't every meal need to be chased down like a slowing running in the last mile with some fantastic deserted prepared by an aunt or grandmother. You know the one that you grow up loving when she came over with a pie or cake in her hand. Oh, and don't forget the aroma created by those fresh made soft rolls. My mouth is watering just setting here typing this post. I am ready to go eat now.

I am sure you seen the logo "Life is Good" on hats and shirts. This is exactly what it means. How can anyone think they shouldn't eat more than they need or even want? This is the time when it just so hard to say "no".

Especially, when your Grandmother keeps saying that you look so thin, are you eating enough? She follows her comment with the largest piece of pumpkin piece that you have ever seen. And, you savor ever bite as it goes down. After all, you need to keep your Grandmother happy. Right?

Next post, I talk about some of the things that I have tried to get me through the toughest month of the year December.


 

Sharing one thought at time,

The Cool Down Runner


 


 

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Holiday Half Marathon

I had the pleasure of watching the Holiday Half Marathon from the 12 mile point. Each and every runner passing me looked to be enjoying a beautiful morning in the Carolinas. With my camera in hand, their moment of achievement was to be captured in a digital format. Those images have been uploaded on to my FaceBook account and are available for download.


 

I do want to give a quick shout out to our Charlotte Running Club. They made a strong statement with their

running: David, Caleb, Aaron, and Mike B. taking home the top 4 positions. Also newly appointed board member Jamie M. made her present felt in the race with a strong run.

Congratulations to everyone running the Holiday Half.


 

Sharing one thought at a time,

The Cool Down Runner


 


 


 

Friday, December 7, 2012

Hitting the dirt

I am making my way along a rocky trail this morning and minding my business today at Latta Plantation. Words are coming out of my mouth and my ears are picking up the reply part of the conversation. Suddenly, my brain registers that my foot is meeting a resistance and making the next stride impossible to take. The next moment, the view ahead is changed to a view of the ground in front of me. My palms have gone totally numb, my elbow hurts, my shoulder and back recoil from being slammed into the ground. My right knee hurts.

Laying there for a second, I am trying to make sense of what just happen. Slowly, I push myself up to me knees. Then, I push back on to me feet. My palms are stringing something awful. I hesitate to pull back my gloves for fear of seeing the skin being peeled back.

I risk it.

On closer examination, my palms looks like I have just run a wire brush over them but that's all. There is no blood spraying out. My elbow is a different matter. Even thou, I was wearing a long sleeve shirt; I lose a nice patch of skin. My knee faired pretty well. There were some small abrasions but nothing deep and no major blood lost.

Most of the impact when into my elbow and up through my shoulder and back. My shoulder is aching pretty badly and my back already has some soreness starting to settle into it.

What else can I expect? I am a guy. We "men" all should know better than trying to do 2 things at the same time. I was trying to do 3 things: talk, listen, and run. Note to self – just run.


 

Sharing one thought at time,

The Cool Down Runner

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Bummed about my spring racing schedule

Ok, I thought I had my spring racing schedule pretty much figured out and then the dates of certain races just started falling on all the wrong dates.

Here was my plan.

I was looking to run the Winter Flight 8k and then the Idiot Run on successive weekends. Following the Idiot run, I would be doing an afternoon of volunteering at the CRC 8k on the 26th of January.

In past years, Winter Flight 8k has always been on the 3rd weekend of January. Everything was lining up very nicely. Then, I found out that the Winter Flight race had moved their race date to the 26th.

While it doesn't conflict with my volunteering with the CRC 8k, it does conflict with my planned trip to the top of Morrow Mt. in the predawn hours of the 26th.

I only momentarily entertained the idea of doing both. But running 20 miles and then driving to Salisbury and running 5 more miles, ah, yeah, probably not the best way of running a good 8k time. Thus, I quickly scratched that idea off the list.

I really wanted the combination of racing on the 19th and running the Idiot Run on the 26th so I was considering maybe running the North Myrtle Beach 15k. This is a race that has been on my bucket list for a number of years and is again typically run on the 3rd weekend in January.

Well, this isn't the case this year. They have pushed the 30th edition of this race back to the 26th. Being that it is Myrtle Beach and on the 26th, this ruled this one off the list immediately. There is no possible way of driving back to CLT for our CRC 8k race from Myrtle Beach when the 15k starts at 9am. I guess it stays on my bucket list for another year.

So now, I am stuck in limbo. There is no good road race that I am anxious to do on the 19th and I am left with trying to decide – do I run Winter Flight 8k or Idiot Run.

If there's a good road race on the 19th, let me know.


 

Sharing one thought at a time,

The Cool Down Runner

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Running for President

Some people may think this post is stupid, but sometimes, we see parables where none may have existed before.

In a recent email, I expressed my interest in running for the President's position in the Charlotte Running Club. Now, this position doesn't come with the same type of perks as that other Presidential position has. Yes, there is no car, no plane, no helicopter, no staff of people waiting on you hand and foot, and most definitely no big white house.

There is also the perception of the Presidential role which often left me wondering why any person would want to be President. Why anyone would want to step in the limelight. Like I said above the perks for that role are kind of nice but the headache that comes with it should also come with an unlimited supply of Advil. Not to mention how many people telling you that you are terrible at your job.

Experience has taught me that everyone has their own opinion and at some point along the road of life, someone will disagree with you.

The primary reason behind my seeking of the CRC Presidential role is leadership. The easy road through life is to watch and let others do the heavy lifting. Leaders lead by example and thereby set the yard stick that others measure themselves.

One of my big sayings when it comes to the Charlotte Running Club is for the Club to be successful, members of the club need to be actively involved. They need to be involved in community activities, board functions, group runs, socials, races, etc,. I cannot say something like this unless I really mean it. I need to step up and do my part.

Our two previous Charlotte Running Club presidents have nurtured our club from its infancy to where it is day. Should I be elected to the role, I hope my example would forge another strong link in the club's history.


 

Sharing one thought at time,

The Cool Down Runner


 


 

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Starting Over

Today, I thought the title "Starting Over" was very much appropriate. On December 1st, my next training cycles started. This reminds me of when I was in high school. After spending the summer of letting my mind drift, the returning to the class room pushed my brain to a place it didn't want to go. My brain would continue to fight me for the first couple of weeks until the new routine became common place.

Post OBX, partly my mind but mostly my body has enjoyed the lack of long runs and tough workouts. I was still going out the door for runs and even did a few races, but as far as anything stressful, I was skipping it.

There was no swimming. There was no resistance training. There were no form drills. There was only limited core work. Basically, this is what could be called a runner's vacation. Like any vacation, I was enjoying all of the foods that I omit from my diet during my training phases. And, they tasted good, but they also dump some extra pounds on me to carry around.

This mode only lasted three weeks, but when I returned to some more aggressive workouts on Saturday, I felt like I was running in sand. On a side note, I always like to start new cycles either on the beginning of a week or the beginning of a month. This is a strategy that I use to mentally separate different training periods.

Muscle soreness permeated my entire body. Not only was I looking like an old man, but I was also feeling like an old man.

As runners, we know that downtime is good the mind and the soul, but does it have to hurt so much when I return to a more active life style.

I wish not. I hoped not, but I know it will and is happening.

In two weeks, I will again be heads down into my training and have forgotten all about the struggles entering this new training cycle.


 

Sharing one thought at time,

The Cool Down Runner


 


 

Monday, December 3, 2012

CRC Annual Board Meeting

The RRCA mandates that each running club must hold an annual meeting so on Dec 2, 2012, the Charlotte Running Club held their annual meeting at the South Park TrySports Store. The annual meeting gives the president of the club an opportunity to recap the club's achievements for the current year and to set some expectations for the New Year. But most people are really there for one thing, they want to know who would be the new board members for the '13.

When the Charlotte Running Club was setup, it was organized to have a 10 member board. There would be 2 members selected by the board from the at-large membership. The other 8 members would be serving 2 year terms with a twist. Of those 8 positions, each year 4 of those positions would be up reelection. Basically, 4 of the 8 positions would be voted upon every year. This may seem strange but after giving it some thought, the technique does provide a smooth transition from year to year.

Aaron called the meeting to order just after 3pm.

His first act was to thank Tom, Nicole, Emily, and Jamaar for their service to the Board during the '12 year.

Next, he announced the election returns. Two new board members were elected: Rob and Stephanie. Two returning board members were elected: Mike B. and myself.

This was followed by a recap of our 8k race '12 and the status for our '13 race. He covered our joining forces with Running Works and the making of them our official Charity for the 8k.

He also provided a recap of the following:

  • our socials during the year
  • the use of Constant Contact for the Club's newsletter
  • The use of Survey Monkey
  • Club Gear Status – bringing it in house
  • the monitoring of the Club's gmail inbox
  • Renewing of our RRCA and USAT&F memberships
  • Transition of club memberships to RunClubSignup.
  • BOD meetings are open and located on the last Thursday of each month 7pm – Dowd Y
  • Group Runs – new location on the club's website
  • Possible field trips in '13 Tobacco Rd, Frosty 50k, Savannah Marathon
  • Possible BOD retreat
  • Holiday Lights run 12/16/12 5pm – parking lot across from Freedom Park

Mike K. spoke about the 8k race, raffle, and sponsorship. Jamaar spoke about the Music and Entertainment.

Billy provided a review of the Club's treasury report.

Aaron thanked everyone for coming and pointed everyone toward the food provided for the meeting.

For the next hour people enjoyed a little socializing time and took advantage of the opportunity to renew their club memberships, register for the 8k and to buy club gear.

TrySports also gets a "shout out" for allowing us to host our meeting at their location and for providing the snacks.

CRC is still a very young club but the strides this club is making in the running circles of the Charlotte Community are a testament to drive of the individual member's willingness to effect change. The '12 BOD has maintained that momentum and the '13 BOD will be tasked with continuing the energy throughout through the coming year.


 

Sharing one thought at time,

The Cool Down Runner

Friday, November 30, 2012

Seeing Running Works in action

We are leaving what I will term the back way out of the Urban Ministries and following Tryon Street in a westerly direction. Meredith, Justin, and several of the neighbors are leading the way. This was how I was introduced into the phenomenon lead by Meredith and Kelly and known across Charlotte as "Running Works"

Meredith and Kelly have given so much of the time and energy to take Running Works from a start up charitable organization earlier this year to something that by all accounts is a wildly successful program. The Running Works program helps return confidence to individuals that for one reason or another have hit a difficult time in their lives.

Until now, my perspective of Running Works had been from a distance. Meredith and Kelly are my teammates on our TrySports Ambassador team, so I have been around when they talked about their efforts, then, through our Charlotte Running Club, our 8k race committee chose Running Works as their race charity for '13 race. Maybe my closest opportunity was during the lead up and running of Meredith and Kelly's Monster Dash 5k. A hugely successful event the last of October held at Rural Hill Farm.

But today was a real and up close opportunity for me to observe what Meredith and Kelly do when they are active on site at the Urban Ministries.

The first thing that jumps out when I walked in the door is how friendly everyone is. I have gone to parties and left without knowing anyone's name. Here, it is pretty much impossible to do so.

The second thing that jumps out to me is the smiles, the laughter, and the general spirit of happiness that seems to permeate the room.

The other thing that jumps out to me is their desire to run. They are eager for us to head out the door and take us on one of their regular routes.

We follow a route along Tryon to Trade – basically we are making a huge box shaped route. We cut through by Target and tackled this huge flight of stairs. A mile later, we are taking the steps near Time Warner Arena two steps at a time.

We cruised easily back into the Urban Ministries parking

lot and having covered just about 4 miles on the dot.

We all slowed to a walk and Meredith began herding us back inside for their post run discussion session. This is really where I got an eye opening experience while listening to what they have to endure during their normal daily lives. There are days when I really feel like my life has hit rock bottom. But listening to their stories just reminds me that I am nowhere near rock bottom. And, I really shouldn't be complaining about my minuscule struggles.

Each of their runs is always followed by one of these discussion sessions. Setting in a circle of chairs, the talking is not limited to just the neighbors but Meredith, Justin, Justin's mom, and Kelly each shared personal stores from their lives to bring relevance to the group discussion. For my part, I remained a quiet but an attentive observer.

My goal for the day was to experience what Meredith and Kelly were working so hard to achieve. Listening, watching, and learning was that best way that I saw of doing it and then sharing my perspective here.

Meredith and Kelly hold their Running Works group runs on Tuesdays and Fridays at 10 AM starting from the Urban Ministries Bldg. After each run, Meredith and Kelly lead a group discussion.

Most of us live our lives and stay well within our comfort zones. But sometimes, it is good to step outside and explore the world from a different perspective. Opening our eyes to a different view can help redefine who we really are.


 

Sharing one thought at time,

The Cool Down Runner


 

 

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Pain Relief & Wellness Center

Alright, I feel the time had come to do a little extra sharing.

On my blog, I have talked more than once about the effects of my hamstring injury in the fall of '11. Well, months and months passed and the healing process was slow. Truth be told, the healing was painfully slow – no pun intended.

But after Disney, my hamstring seemed to be improving. My running was seemingly on the uptick. At least, this is what I wanted to share publically.

Behind closed doors, I was setting on an ice bag after every hard run or every long run. Days would pass until the painfulness would subside.

This was basically how my spring, summer, and start of my fall went. Only a few people knew about it and they keep pushing me to do something about it. Being stubborn, I felt this was something that I could handle myself. That I didn't need help from anyone.

With about 5 weeks left until OBX I finally gave in to their efforts. I made an appointment with the Pain Relief & Wellness Center. They setup my visit to see Dr. Markel.

During this first visit, I explained my problem and he went to work on it. My first visit must have lasted 50 to 60 minutes. Then, he gave me some homework exercises to do on my own.

Before leaving, I scheduled a follow-up visit for later in that week.

Walking out the door, my hamstring did feel better but over the next few days, it seemed to be getting worse.

In the next visit we talked about what was happening and the pain that I was experiencing after the first visit. I guess he convinced me enough in his process, because I decided to stick with it.

Helping his cause was when I was racing, my hamstring actually felt pretty well. After all, during this time I ran a sub 17 5k and sub 1 hours 10 miler with tender hamstrings.

But with each visit, I also noticed that my hamstring tended to feel better and better and the soreness that came after the first few visits wasn't lasting nearly as long.

On Tuesday before my Turkey Trot 8k, I got my last treatment and then my hamstrings felt great on Thursday. I ran my fastest 8k in several years.

I am happy to say that I am also no longer needing an ice bag post any of my hard or long runs.

I have to give credit where credit is due. First, I give it to those that kept pestering me to seek help. And then, I have to give major credit to Dr. Markel for his efforts. After, that first visit I was seriously thinking it was wrong decision, but now, seeing the results, I am very happy that I did seek help and that I did stick with the program.

Runners are a stubborn breed and sometimes we think that we can do it all ourselves. I am here to say that it is okay to ask for help. Running tears our bodies down. We need people like Dr. Markel to put us back together again.

If you are experiencing issues like I was, I strongly recommend checking with the guys at "Pain Relief & Wellness Center". See if you can get on Dr. Markel's schedule. He put me back together and I am betting that he can do the same for you.


 

Sharing one thought at time,

The Cool Down Runner

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

What is the “right” decision to make?

Here's the scenario, you are late in a race. You have been battling back and forth with another racer. You have been exchanging moves and trying to gauge what to do next.

Finally, you make a decision. You go all out. Inhaling of oxygen becomes secondary to your effort. You are pumping your arms and driving quads into the air. Each step is made with a single solitary goal of getting you to the finish line before your opponent. Finally, the line is within reach. The bulging of your eyes, the puffing of your checks, and the display of the veins in your neck all go into telling spectators how much you want it.

Bang, you cross the line. So was it the right decision?

Let's be honest with ourselves and say it this way. During a race there is no way to know if a decision is a good one or bad one. All, any runner can do is make a decision and live with the results. Then, after the race if you were successful, your move was probably a good one. If you lost or didn't do as well as you had hoped, then maybe this wasn't the best course of action to take.

Remember, you should not be too hard on yourself when it comes to judging your race results. Just because you lose to someone doesn't mean your decision wasn't a good one. Your decision might have caused both of you to run much faster than you expected or it might have kept you ahead of someone else that was closing on the two of you.

Racing involves many, many factors. Of all these factors, you have control of exactly one of them – yourself.

Perspective is an important part when it comes to maintaining a healthy balance to running, racing, and life.


 

Sharing one thought at time,

The Cool Down Runner


 

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Nighttime racing

Recently, I was reading an article about nocturnal racing, and I found my head nodding at the author's comments.

Racing at night removes the distractions that otherwise sidetrack the runner's mind from their effort.

Take my Disney Marathon race earlier this year. We started at 5:30 AM and for the hour and half, I basically ran in a cocoon of darkness. I was only aware of the runners sharing my personal bubble of running space. The darkness shielded my vision of the long straight roads, the uphill grades, and the enormity of the task at hand. The lack of ambient light made me more focused. My concentration centered on where to safely allow each foot to impact the pavement. All other sounds and distractions seemed to drift away. Instead of the miles seemingly passing at a snail's pace, each split give the impression of flowing by like swiftly moving river. A quick nod was given to acknowledge that it occurred before moving forward.

Try it.


 

Sharing on thought at time,

The Cool Down Runner

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Beat the Turkey Award

The Charlotte Turkey Trot 8k listed a special category which many runners where probably not aware. Runners who beat the Charlotte Running Company Turkey during running the 8k race would receive a special prize.

When I read the online info at the race website, I didn't really think too much about it.

Thursday morning, I was still breathing heavily and walking around the finish corral when I see this runner dressed as Turkey come striding across the finish line. Wow, they were not only serious about this special category but one glance at the finish line clock to me they were serious about not giving away too many prizes for this special category.

Check out the race results. The CRC Turkey finished 23rd overall. See the label in the results "23 3/290 296 Crc Big Turkey 39 M Charlotte NC 28:36 28:39 5:46". Later I learned that the Turkey was supposedly Mark Carbone at 1:15 ½ marathoner.

The prize for beating the CRC Turkey was a pair of "Wool-E-Ator" socks from DeFeet. The socks were colored brown and orange with the image of a steaming turkey on the ankle. Sounds appropriate for this time of year don't you think.

Here's hoping they bring back the award for next but maybe find someone slower to be the Turkey. By the way, big shout out to the Charlotte Running Company for thinking outside the box and giving the runners a fun goal for the race.


 

Sharing one thought at time,

The Cool Down Runner


 

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Master’s Foot Locker 5k Recap

The stinging of the cold dry air entered my mouth and nose and burned as it passes down my throat and into my lungs. The sensation leaves me wondering do I really need to be racing this morning. Whole heartedly, yes, I do. This is one of those defining moments.

Having raced at McAlpine many times, but never in the Foot Locker 5k, my mind knows what to expect. The first half mile needs to be speedy and my legs are spinning as fast as they can. I know this, because I abandoned any attempt of normal breathing at the quarter mile mark. The term "hard labor" means something totally different to runners.

We round the first turn and start back. The pack of runners slowly thins out. I am still passing a few people but not as many as during the first half mile. We pass the mile mark. More heavy breathing and the legs are trending toward being numb. We wind our way along and coming to hill. I am determined to not let it slow me down. I hit it hard. Mentally and physically, my body responds as if I have slammed head first into a cement wall. The quads ache from being pushed to run so hard and then we reach the top where I am notorious for being a slow descender.

The last few strides I try to shift into a higher gear but I am going nowhere fast. We hit the last tiny hill and start around the lake. With a mile left to run, I know my goose is cooked and probably a little brunt.

A couple of guys go passed me.

We enter the back mile and I already looking forward to the finish line sprint. Beside the soccer fields, my quads are turning to butter. My legs feel shaky. The best sight of the race is the lake coming into view.

One last corner to go and then I sprint for the finish. Urging my legs to go faster and faster. My Garmin rings up the 3 mile split but it doesn't matter. People are cheering and I want to finish strong for them. I hear someone call my name. Where's that extra gear that I need now. Oh, no, I used it up during the first half mile.

The finish is in sight and so is the finish line clock. I cross it and finish with a time of 18:11. Not necessarily my best time, but then I don't usually bury myself with such a fast opening half mile.

Overall, the last 12 days have been awesome. I scored a 2:46 marathon at OBX, a 17:03 and 3 OA and 1MM at Santa Scramble 5k, a 28:03 and 1st 45-59 across 9000+ runners at the Charlotte Turkey Trot 8k, and finished it off with a 13 place finish in the Master's Foot Locker 5k and brought home the medal to prove it.

Perhaps my most prized award is the medal from Foot Locker. Competition is a premium at these events and is the very reason that I always look forward to doing them. Cross Country races are not for the faint at heart. Every event brings out a great field of guys who still enjoy the feeling that comes with racing on a cool crisp November morning.

Now for some "shout outs" – Matt – for keeping me entertained during my warm up and who put in a solid 18:33 time during the 5k, Brian – who I saw after the race – safe travels back to DC, Stan and John who passed by me during the girls race and didn't even notice, Caleb, Pezz – who I have seen quite few times running at McAlpine but officially met today, Todd and Mike B. for the warm down miles, and Mark – who was scurrying around watching Alana's race.

One last thought before signing off. Events like Foot Locker are exciting for me to do because growing up, I never raced cross country. I find the feeling of elation in the air something to behold. Runners of all ages come together and test themselves in the spirit of good healthy competition. No other sport on this earth matches running because only runners can follow in the footsteps of a best.


 

Sharing one thought at time,

The Cool Down Runner

Friday, November 23, 2012

Breaking out the Spikes

I have been setting here this morning and cleaning up my racing spikes. Why would I be cleaning spikes on the day after Thanksgiving? Well, just about 2 years have passed since I last wore them. That's was in a 10k cross country race. Since then, they have been setting on my shelf waiting to see action again.

Tomorrow morning, they will get their chance.

For I don't know how long, I have ventured down to watch the Foot Locker races at McAlpine. Not one time have I entered the open/masters race.

A couple weeks ago, I decided that this year I wanted to run it so I signed up. This seemed like a good time to check this off my bucket list.

Tomorrow morning at 8AM, I will be heading to the starting line and take my chances on appears to be a cool crisp November morning. The best type that a runner wants for racing.

Come out and watch us run.

Remember, the extra walking will help burn off the Thanksgiving calories.


 

Sharing one thought at time,

The Cool Down Runner

Thursday, November 22, 2012

South Park Turkey Trot 8k Recap

Gathering on the north side of the South Park Mall was the biggest crowd of runners that has assembled in Charlotte this year. Standing on the front line, my gaze turned to look over the crowd and the sea of runners extended all the way to Sharon Rd and covered both sides of the street. Like me, they were out for some exercise before heading to various ports of call and enjoying a wonderful Thanksgiving meal.

Surveying the runners around there were some familiar faces, Steve, Jason, Carroll, Kent, Dan, Richard, Tom, and Lana. Who I didn't see was Spada and who missed seeing was Donny. We are given our final commands and then we are launched on our way.

The opening ½ mile is mainly downhill beside the mall. My eyes are darting back and forth both to avoid running into someone and looking to see what other masters might be running. To my left, I spotted the distinctive singlet worn by Donny.

We make the first left turn and I am running a few yards behind him. Climbing the hill beside the mall, I feel a twinge in my glut, but that then nothing. We top the first hill and I am running just behind Donny and checking out the runners in front of me.

Just a short run on Fairview and we make another right. There is a long line of orange cones to keep the runners to the right. Stilling running off Donny's shoulder, I realize he is moving over next the cones. Literally, he is squeezing me into the cones so I cannot run beside him. Thinking to myself at that moment "did he just squeeze me in the cones". No, we cannot have that.

There is a break in the cones and I used the opportunity to accelerate around him. Let him chase me for a while. I knew he was coming off the Thunder Road ½ marathon last Saturday so his legs might not be fully recovered.

Thinking about it after the fact, Donny probably didn't even realize that I was right on his shoulder. Really, it was no harm, no foul.

We make the left and I hear people cheering: Billy and Jason. I don't know who else.

The pace quickens and my breathing becomes more labored.

We make a right turn and start climbing. My legs don't like the climbing. I feel like I am really slowing down.

We make another right on Colony. This is the new neighborhood section of the course. The course isn't steep but is a long climb. Well, it is a long climb when you are in oxygen debt. I felt like we never would get to the top of it. And I didn't want to push too hard for fear of running out gas over the last mile and ½.

Back on Sharon, I catch a couple of guys and a couple of guys pass me. I make the absolute worst mistake and look at my watch at the mile split: 5:54. Now, racing, I wasn't really taken into account that the last mile had been mostly up hill and I didn't think to look at the elapse time. The only thought resonating was "you have blown your race". With nothing lose, we turn right on Colony and I charge after the guys in front of me.

The course ends differently that previous years and we finish in front of Dicks.

I round the final corner and can see the clock in the distance. Wait, doesn't it say 27:44. Okay, maybe my eyes are playing tricks on me. No, it does say 27:47 and I realize I might be able to slip in under 28 minutes. I launch into a sprint. I am trying to cover more ground than my body is ready to cover. The clock ticks forward: 51, 52, 53. I am getting closer but not close enough. Maybe 20 yards from the finish it clicks over to 28 minutes. The air goes totally out of my balloon. I flash across the line; my Garmin records 28:03 for my finish time. By the far the fastest time that I have run in several years for an 8k race. Donny comes in some 20 seconds later.

After we catch our breath, we talk for a few minutes. Some simple kidding – "that my singlet was the wrong shade of orange". Funning that he should say something about it, I thought his singlet was the wrong shaded of orange. LOL.

All in all, this was my best Turkey Trot 8k that I have run in many years, yet, it didn't garner me a 1st MM Turkey Trot trophy. John Moss from CA ran away with the title. He ran 27:18. I have to give him major props. He is fast on Thanksgiving day.

Now for some rest and eating large amounts of Turkey.


 

Happy Holidays to everyone.

The Cool Down Runner


 

 

Monday, November 19, 2012

Santa Scramble 5k

Once again the holiday season is upon us and every year, I just cannot help myself. The time of year leaves me shivering with excitement. People are hustling and bustling as they jump from place to place meeting up with their friends and buying gifts. And along the way there is so much great food to enjoy.

But for us runners, there are races to run. I cannot keep count of the number of Turkey Trot races in the surrounding Charlotte area and sometimes before and after the Santa runs.

When my schedule permits, the Santa Scramble 5k in Concord is always on my must do list. This race is put on by the Concord Park and Rec. Dept. and is run as the first float in the Concord Christmas Parade. Meaning that contrary to must races that you will run around Charlotte, this one has people lining the streets for 75% of the race. Not to mention, the course is one of the fastest around. Thus, the combination of these two features, brings a ton of people to the starting line and regularly produces fast times.

Not surprising, I found myself standing at the starting line on Saturday afternoon. My mouth was watering in anticipation of the expected run. The race typically can start anywhere between 2 and 2:30. The parade director gives the park and rec guys a thumbs-up that we can start.

Runners are spilling on the street. The race director motions for us to back up. Then back up again. In fact, we back up nearly to highway 29. I have run this Santa Scramble numerous times and this is the fartherest back that we have ever started.

As everyone is moving back, I spend a few minutes talking to the guy directing us to the starting line. It is a good conversation and then, we hear 4 minutes until the start.

I say my goodbyes and head off to do a couple of more strides.

Then, finding my place on the starting line, I set myself for the task head. Every start, I make a mental note to see who else is in the field. What I see is a lot of guys who are not old enough to shave yet standing on the starting line.

The thought is interrupted by someone yelling 10, 9, 8,…3, 2,1 "Go". There's a surge of people across the starting line. Those that don't know much about razors take it out hard.

The first ¾ of mile have a slight hint of an uphill to it before the fun of the downhill begins. My legs are moving but I realize they are not moving nearly as fast as everyone else. Mentally, I am still set on marathon pace and my legs do not want to go any faster.

I put in all of the urging that I can muster. Slowly, my legs begin to move. We near the mile point and I pass a few of these guys. Mile 1 was in 5:31. There are still 4 people in front of me. I realize that I am probably not going to run any faster. My breathing tells me that this is the max; I am able to go.

Mile and half, I pass another one and move into 4th overall. This part of the course is slightly downhill and I pull even with the 3rd place guy. Through two miles, we go back and forth. Mile 2 was in 5:30. Turning off the parade route and heading for the finish, I start to pull ahead of him. I don't know how much and I don't look back. There is no time.

I cross Rt. 3 and hear my Garmin announce the mile split: 5:29. I start my sprint for the finish and cross the finish line gasping for breath in 17:03.

6 days removed from running a marathon, my legs were not ready for this effort. They complained but they did their best and brought me home in 3rd overall and 1s male master.

After the race, I hung out with Richard, Linda, and Steve while we waited on the awards. There is nothing like the post race story telling that goes on.

Wrapping up this post, might I suggest if you have never run the Concord Santa Scramble, put it on your race list for next year. I promise you will not be disappointed.


 

Sharing one thought at time,

The Cool Down Runner


 


 


 


 


 

 

Friday, November 16, 2012

Using 800s to determine your expected marathon time

A couple of years ago, I was reading an article about "Yasso 800s" and how this workout could help predict your marathon time. It seems that Bart Yasso was training a number of individuals for a marathon and as one their last workouts before the marathon, he had them do some 800 repeats. He meticulously tracked each of their splits in his log book. Then, after they had run their marathon, he just happened to be looking back at his log book. What jumped out was that the splits they ran for the 800s seemed to correlate to the hours and minutes of their marathon time.

For example, a 2 minute and 45 second 800 split would indicate potentially that the person could run a 2 hour and 45 minute marathon.

After reading the article at the time, I posted something here on my blog about it but never followed up to test the theory.

During my 6 hour solo drive back from OBX, there was plenty of time to think and one of the thoughts that kept getting turned over in my mind was this "Yasso 800" theory.

On Tuesday before OBX, I went to the track and ran 6 x 800. 5 of those 6 800s were run in the 2:45 to 2:46 range. Then, on Sunday, I ran a 2 hour and 46 minute marathon.

Pretty hard to shake the idea that the "Yasso 800" concept doesn't have at least some merit.

Of course, I am a single person and this was a single test.

Maybe during my next marathon training cycle, I will try it again. We just have to wait and see what happens.


 

Sharing one thought at time,

The Cool Down Runner

Thursday, November 15, 2012

OBX Marathon Recap

For the last 3 months, I have dedicated my running to a single goal. OBX would be my main race in the fall of '12. Sunday morning, standing at the starting line, the butterflies in my stomach told me that I was about to find out how well that I had prepared.

However, before recounting my race adventure, I want to back up a little. The weekend was more than a little interesting even before the race.

For nearly 4 ½ hours, my drive was anything but eventful. The last hour or so of the drive to the Outer Banks is along mostly a two lane road. Mind you, I have run OBX four other times and never had anything like what I am about to describe happen to me.

First, I am going through one the small towns along 64 to the Outer Banks. When I say small town, I am talking about maybe one grocery store, gas station, and maybe a few other businesses.

Just leaving the interstate, I have driven maybe 10 minutes and I am coming into the first town. I see what looks like a tractor and trailer attempting to cross through an intersection. Wait no, it isn't crossing through the intersection, it is setting in the intersection. As I get closer, I follow the flow of cars first slowing and then, turning right into the gas station parking lot and going around the back of the gas station. Then, they were merging back on to the road. As I passed by the tractor trailer, I could see that a car had crashed into the mid section of the trailer. Police, Ambulance, and Fire Rescue workers were attempting to extricate the driver. How awful I thought; I hope everyone is alright.

The rest of the driving remained peaceful for the rest of the long road to the beach.

Darkness had set-in as I headed for the expo. Parking some distance from the expo, I made my way into the building, picked up my number and goodie bag, and then proceeded to make the circuit of the expo.
I am just in the process of purchasing an item when suddenly the lights go out. Inside the building it is completely dark. Then, like something out of a commercial, lights begin to come on. No, these were not emergency lights. The light was coming from people's phones. Every person seemed to be carrying a Smart Phone and was using their flashlight app.

Luckily for me, the vender where I was making my purchase was using an iPad with a Square. I had no problem getting my stuff. From there, I decided to skip the rest of the expo and head out. I needed to look for some dinner. Walking out the expo, I suddenly realized that it wasn't just the expo that lost power, it was the entire island. It was dark everywhere.

My stomaching was beginning to ache and I wondered where I was going to find dinner. With no electricity, restaurants would not be able to serve any food. Well, I thought, let's get to the hotel. They should have generator for power.

But as I am driving along, like a beacon in the night, I see the Harris Teeter sign. Yes, Harris Teeter must have generators because they have power. No effort needed on this decision, I ducked into the parking lot and headed into the store. At least, I thought, I can resolve the issue with my growling tummy.

I figured a sub might be good so I headed for the deli counter. I asked the lady making sandwiches for a grilled chicken sub on white bread. She proceeds to tell me that they are all out of bread and they only have flat bread. Hummm, a grilled chicken sub on flat bread, well, I do have to eat so I agree.

I pick up a few other things for the rest of the weekend and headed for the hotel. All of the traffic lights are out so the only lights on the island come from the car head lights. But people are being extremely nice and letting others turn and pull out. Everyone seems to be in a good mood this evening.

Following the navigation system on my phone, I proceed to drive by the hotel not once but twice. It takes me this long to realize that the hotel doesn't have generators so it is completely in the dark. My mind then begins to wonder what this is going to be like.

Heading inside the hotel, they are doing everything with flashlights. They check me in by taking an etching of my credit card with a crayon. Thankfully, they have already assigned me a room so I gather my stuff. One of the workers with a flashlight leads me up to the room and opens the door with a master key.

So there I was setting in a dark cold room. Things could be worse, I guess.

I pop out my notebook and turn it on. It gives me at least a little light in the room. Then, I remember that I brought my head lamp. What seemed like a dumb idea at the time? I know felt like a genius now. So by light from my head lamp, I enjoyed my flat bread grilled chicken sub and two bananas. I crawled into bed to get warm and tried to pass the time by surfing the internet on my Smart phone.

The lights did come back on later in the evening. And, I was most thankful. That room was starting to feel pretty cold.

Fast forward to race morning, Michelle and I were hanging out waiting for the start after Thomas dropped her off early. He was running the ½ marathon. Jason M. comes by our van and joins us so we all hang out together until it is time to head to the starting line.

We all talk about our goals for the race. Michelle wants to run 2:56 to 2:57. Jason wants to break 3 hours and well, I want something like 2:45 to 2:47. We finish our prep for the race and headed for the starting line. Jason notices that I have a breath right strip on my nose and he ask me about it. Then, he asked if I have any more. Thus, he is breaking the first rule of racing – "try nothing new". Of course, I give him one. He puts it on this nose and asked me if he has it own right. I try to hide my smile and say "well, you have it on a little high". He really has it a lot high. It needs to be lower toward his nostrils and not between his eyes. But we get him fixed up and the three of us jog toward the starting line.

The start is 10 minutes away so I am doing some very easy strides on a side street. I flash by this guy and he looks familiar. I realize it is Martin. He and I ran together during the mid 90s. I hadn't seen him since that time. I also see Heather from the TrySports store in Raleigh. We met last year when she ran OBX.

We gathered at the starting line and they started giving us the final countdown.

I wish Michelle, Jason, and Martin luck and then turn my attention to mentally setting myself for the task ahead.

I took several long deep breathes because I knew it was be the last time for next several hours that my breathing wouldn't be labored.

Finally, we are off. The first few miles are slightly uphill at OBX. The first thing I notice isn't my breathing but my hamstrings. Both of them feel extremely tight. I can only hope that they loosen up after a few miles.

My first mile is 6:15 and my second mile is 6:05. I fall into this group of 3 guys and then Martin joins us. I look over at Martin and he says "I want to stay with you through the half way point". I nod "okay, that I understand", but I begin to listen to Martin's breathing pattern. We are two miles into a marathon and sounds like he is running a 5k. Not long afterward, I no longer hear Martin's breathing off my shoulder.

I try to settle in with these guys. The mile splits are faster than I really want to run, but on the other hand, my only other option would be to drop back and run solo. I go with running in the group even if it is too fast for me.

We proceed to click off the miles. By 10 miles, I realize that I have just run faster for these 10 miles than I did 2 weeks ago at the ATT 10 miler.

We hit the Nags Head Trail. After a couple of miles one of the guys bolts ahead of us and starts pulling away. The other two pick it up a little so we are starting to string out.

By the time we exit the trail section, I have perhaps 40 meters behind the two. Knowing the open roads during the 2nd half can be windy, I make an attempt to close the distance.

But after a couple of miles, I am not closing. If anything, I am losing some distance. Mentally, I think I am starting to fall apart.

But my Garmin flashes up that I had just ran a 6:04 mile. No, it isn't that I am falling apart; they are running faster. We make a right turn and I take the opportunity to check behind me. There is no one insight.

I have 10 miles left to run and it doesn't look like I am going to catch any of these guys. It is time to focus on nursing this one home.

Now that I am running solo, I notice every little pain. Mainly, it is my fore foot. They both hurt and I suspect they have blisters forming.

My splits are staying consist until I hit the bridge. I feel like I literally "hit the bridge". This mile is 6:43 and my quads hate me as I push them to climb up this steep long incline at 23 miles.

I cross the top and look to my right. I can see downtown Mateo and know that I have a little more than 5k to run.

Heading on the downhill side of the bridge, I feel like I can pick up the pace a little so I try. Oops, this was a bad idea. Suddenly my hamstrings are starting to balk. The downhill side of the bridge might have been worse than the uphill side.

Mile 24 was 6:58. Mile 25 was 7:02 and mile 26 was 7:15.

Mentally, I realize 7:15 isn't exactly slow so but after running so hard for so long, it feels like I am crawling. Add on top of it, my body is beginning to stiffen up from this effort.

I make the last two right turns and head for the finish line. I want to pick it up but my legs are having none of it. I cross the finish line in 2:46:05.

This was pretty much right in my target range. I wanted to run something between 2:45 and 2:49. I finished 8 overall and was the 2nd Master runner to finish so I finished 2nd in the USAT&F-NC and RRCA-NC Master's Marathon Championship.

Walking away from this race, there are some good takeaways for me to remember. The temperature was between 52 and 54 degrees at the start with 87% humidity. By 5 miles, I'd say the temperature had hit 60 degrees. We came over one hill and it felt a dryer was blowing heat in our faces. We followed the shade of the course as much as possible. I suspect it was well into the 60s by the end of the race. I felt little like I was baking during the 2nd half of the course. If you look at my race pictures, you will see that I had my jersey unzip the entire way.

The other observation is that I ran with a group of guys that were obviously faster than me. After the race, I was chatting with them and they were mostly 1:12 half marathoners. In hind sight, it is always about gut feel. Running with a group even if they are running faster can be a huge advantage over trekking the miles solo. Where the rubber meets the road is how much faster. In this case, I was running probably 20 seconds faster per mile than I really need to be running. The tough part to stomach is that once you commit to this race strategy, you cannot really pull back from it. On that day, you have already burned that energy and that effort has went into your body. The reality is that I lost a lot more time over the last 3 miles than I gained by running the early miles 20 seconds faster.

No race is perfect and you have to make split second decisions about who, where, and how to run the race. If you are not willing to take some risk, you will never see any of the reward.

One last bit about the race, I was running somewhere around I think 15 to 17 miles when I see Thomas coming toward me. He had run the ½ as I told you earlier and was running back to check on Michelle. He tells me that I am looking good and to keep going. Then, after the race, he tells me the truth. I looked bad and didn't know how that I held it together. I had to smile on the inside because what Thomas told me was exactly how I felt. But also makes me feel good that even thou my body was not performing at its best, I still mustered a decent effort from it.

Also, I need to give a big shout out to Michelle. Not only did she PR at 2:55 but she also won the race and picked up the USAT&F-NC and RRCA Women's Marathon Championship. Big congratulations to Michelle on her awesome effort.

Sharing one thought at time,

The Cool Down Runner