Thursday, June 28, 2012

Getting ready for the next training cycle

My spring running was full of ups and downs, but I have to admit that I pretty pleased with the results. I got a solid marathon time from Disney. My 5k times have been okay. All thou they were not anything spectacular. But then, I wasn't really focused on a lot speed work. Really, I started to have more confidence in my hamstring after the Palmetto relay. Running 4 hard runs across a little more than 12 hours and it not cracking was more than I expected.

My 10 miler wasn't what I hoped it would be. The race was a solid effort but somehow I thought I was capable of breaking 60 minutes.

I only did a couple of more 5ks afterwards. But I was consistently clocking some solid 75 to 80 mile weeks. And best of all, I was starting to feel better about running again. I was feeling stronger doing runs.

Last week, I took some real down time and only ran 4 miles each day. I have not done anything like it in a long time. I decided to extend it into this week as well. But I upped the mileage slightly to 7 miles each day. I couldn't see lying around my house and only running 4 miles per day. Maybe I should be. Hindsight is always 20 – 20. But the itch to run is starting to rumble again.

That's good. Because next week I start my next training cycle that will lead to my OBX effort in the fall. Last year, my 2:57 wasn't exactly the stellar performance that I wanted. This year, I am going in with some very realistic goals. I would like to run 2:45 to 2:47. That's 5 to 8 minutes faster than Disney but if my training progresses well through the summer and fall, I feel it is a realistic goal.

Like anything else, I have to be the one to make it happen. No backing down and no backing away.


Sharing one thought at time,

The Cool Down Runner



Wednesday, June 27, 2012


Since 911, Airport security has been heighted to no end. All their work is in an effort to keep us safe while flying to our desired destinations. Personally, I recognize and value their labors. After all, they are there to make traveling safe for everyone. Many times, they get a bad rap because of what they have to do to keep us safe. The reality is that they have to be right every time while a terrorist only has to be right once. We should all do well to remember this while traveling.

Anyway, I thought I would pass along my interactions both going to LA and returning from LA with the TSA screening process.

Traveling out Saturday morning, we get to the air port early and checked our bags. Then, we headed for security.

They checked our boarding passes and my id. I let my daughters go through the screening procedures first so if there are any issues, I could help them. Well, we make it through to the other side and the TSA agent is standing there with one of my daughter's back packs. Each of them packed their own back pack so they would have some stuff to pass the time while on the flight out to LA. He asked me if the back pack contained anything sharp. This particular back pack belonged to my middle daughter. I look at her and she shakes her head. He then asked if it has a note book computer. I say no. She doesn't even own a note book computer. He pulls everything out of the back pack. Nothing but her itouch is in the bag. He then looks very puzzled. He goes back to the guy scanning the carry-ons and then comes back with my oldest daughter's bag. He asked if he can go through it. Sure, I say. We have nothing to hide. He searches through it and finds her notebook computer. Heck, I didn't even know she was taking it. And, I didn't even think to ask her. He takes her bag and the computer and runs them through the screening again. No more issues. We pack our stuff and head to the gate.

But on the flight out, this started me thinking; how many times do they pick up and examine the wrong bag. They find nothing and let the person or persons proceed through security. Maybe this one time was just a fluke. They caught my daughter having her computer in her bag. Maybe what puzzled me even more was they said nothing about my back pack. Because inside of it, I had an iPad, iPod, cell phone, a camera, and more plugs and cords than I know what to do with. I can only image what it must have looked like on the x-ray machine. Yet, it passed through without complaint. Leaves me to wonder what prompts them to check certain bags while letting others pass through. And are they only looking for the obvious rather than the unexpected.

Well, a little over a week has passed and our vacation is over. We again attempt to run the gauntlet called TSA security for our returning flight home.

We head in to the screening area at LAX. After checking our boarding passes, they direct us through to a separate screening area just for families. Honestly, I didn't complain since the normal screening line was quite long and the family screening line looked rather short.

Same procedure as before, I send my daughters through first. But this time, we know better and take out her notebook computer. This is one less thing to cause us to be singled out. I step through and I am immediately told that I have been "randomly" selected for additional screening. There goes the speedy family line. After waiting for what seems like forever, a TSA agent comes up to me and tells me that I need to tested explosives. I am suddenly left thinking that putting gas in the rental car before returning it might have been a bad idea. I have no idea what their test will find so I might just end up in jail because there might be residue of gas on my hands. Within a few minutes, she comes back tells me that I passed and can go. Time to wipe the sweat from my forehead has finally arrived or so I thought. I walk down to where my daughters were waiting and find another TSA agent waiting for me.

What now?

She tells me that my daughter's bag needs to be checked and tested for explosives.

Since my daughter isn't 18, they have to ask my permission first. Yes, they do ask for permission but somehow I don't get the impression that they are really asking me but telling me they are going to check my daughter's bag if you know what I mean.

So they started pulling the stuff out of her bag. They get down to the bottom and find this rock which is probably 3 inches by the 3 inches. We had been to the beach earlier in the week and my daughter found this nice black shiny rock that she wanted to take home. As most any dad would do, I told okay but stick it in your checked bag. Either she wasn't listening or didn't understand, but she put in the carry on. The TSA pulls out the rock and I try to explain that my daughter picked it up on the beach and wanted to take it home. I guess my excuse sounded just dumb enough to be believable because she tested it for explosives and then let us put it back in the bag. I was almost sure that she would either confiscate it or make us throw it in the trash.

As we walked to the gate, I was left to ponder. They have a sign saying that you cannot bring scissors, knives, guns, or explosives on to the plane. Not that I can think of a good reason to carry on any of these items on to a plane, but maybe they should think about adding rocks to their list. One can never be too safe.

On a side note about pat-downs, the news carries lots of reports about people not taking well to the TSA pat-down process. While I wasn't patted-down during my screen process, I did witness a woman being patted-down. First, the TSA agent offered to do the pat-down in private, but the woman agreed to do it right there in the screening area. But why they singled her out, I don't really know. She was wearing this short tight dress. If she was hiding anything, I have no idea where. They brought over this female TSA agent to do the pat-down. With each step the TSA agent told the woman where she would be touching her and how she would be touching her. I thought the pat-down was pretty aggressive but then what do I know about pat-downs. The whole process took maybe 90 seconds. Then, they checked the woman's hands and luggage for explosive reside. Everything came up clean and she was free to continue on her trip. Interesting process and I am glad it wasn't me.


Sharing one thought at time,

The Cool Down Runner

Tuesday, June 26, 2012


My post today is a little-off the running topic but I thought some people might identify with it.

This past week my daughters and I headed to the west coast for some R-n-R. Too much time had passed since I last visited the waters of the Pacific Ocean.

We flew out of Charlotte Saturday a week ago and arrived in LAX around 9:45. We picked up our rental van and then headed down the coast to San Diego. I love seeing the views of the coast line once we got out of LA. There are mountains rising up from east side and the ocean washing up on the beach from the west side. One of the most awesome sights to see.

10 years had passed since I last made this trip. I remembered the roads having several traffic lanes but there seem to be more. No not 3 lanes or 4 lanes wide. Not even 6 lanes wide. I5 down the coast is in some sections up to 9 lanes wide – all for the south bound traffic.

Even on a Saturday morning, the traffic was congested. One might believe that they were trying to evacuate all of the residents from LA and this was an early morning on a weekend. I don't really want to see what a week day looks like. We made the 70 mile trip in a little over 2 hours.

When I travel, I like to look for things that are different from where I live.

Things like:

  • On ramps with HOV lanes. Seriously, on ramps with 2 or 3 HOV lanes to get on the interstate.
  • Traffic lights on the on ramps. The lights alternate between the lanes so no two cars enter the interstate at the same time and they are spaced out by at least 5 seconds.
  • Cycling – helmets seem to be required in San Diego but they appear to be optional in LA.
  • Car Turn signals. Cars don't appear to have them or at least I didn't see anyone using them.
  • Bike Lanes. San Diego seems to have them everywhere while LA seems more like Charlotte. The gutter doubles as the cycling lane in many cases.
  • During my morning runs, I would regularly meet people out running and cycling in San Diego. They were always pleasant with a greeting. LA was more like running on the moon. I seem to be the only bi-pedal person in motion.
  • Some where I missed the memo when it comes to the water. According to the people at the aquarium, Atlantic water is 10 degrees warmer than Pacific water. I have to agree with this assessment. The beaches were warm but the water would chill you right to the bone.
  • Clouds, being along the coast, one never knows when the clouds/fog will burn off and the sun come out. Some days, it didn't burn off until 1 or 2 in the afternoon. Other days, it burned off by 10:30 or 11. The day we left; the cloud burned off by 7 AM – go figure.
  • SMOG has become a way of life for LA residents. So much so, they can now buy SMOG for $29.95. Of course, I am not sure what purpose SMOG provides. Maybe it is something one would want to release inside their house for effect. I am just not sure.
  • Side roads in San Diego were marked nearly as fast as the interstate. The road in front of my hotel was marked for speeds of 60 mph.
  • Coastal temps are fantastic for running. Mornings are clouding and cool about 60 degrees with a breeze. Days are warm and the evening brings the ocean wind and cooling off the temperature to the point I needed a jacket.


We stayed just north of San Diego – just below Carlsbad in a town called Del Mar. The hotel was half way up the Mesa. We spent four days here so each morning I went in a different direction to explore. Being the hotel was half way up, two mornings I went downhill for a couple of miles before turning and making the 2 mile trip back to the hotel. I quickly learned that I rather run the 2 miles up hill first and then have the 2 miles down hill back to the hotel second. The scenery was beautiful and I stumble across some nice trails that I just didn't have enough time to explore.

Our days were spent either spent sightseeing, at the zoo, at the aquarium, or at the beach. The evenings were spent at the hotel pool and hot tub. Mostly, the hot tub was for me. This was for the first part of the week. The later part was where the real work began.

On Wednesday, we drove back to LA. My daughters love going to Disney and my daughter was turning 16 this week so we would spend the entire day at the park. She specifically asked if we could go on her birthday. So I scheduled everything around making sure she was there on that day.

I love going to Disney but it is a lot like a marathon for us. I rise early to run and then spend the entire day at the park. We walked in the gates at 7 AM and walked out at 11 on Thursday. Friday, we went to California Adventure. We entered the park at 7 AM. The gates closed at 11 PM but because the new Cars Land ride broke down, they held the park open and specifically Cars Racers open until everyone with a fast pass was able to ride. I finally crawl into bed around 1 AM. Saturday was about park hopping. This was our last day at the parks and we wanted to do our favorite rides again. The Cars fast pass line was close to 300 yards long when we stepped to the back of it. We got our fast pass for 2:45 in the afternoon. From there we mixed in Space Mt. Matterhorn, Pirates of the Caribbean, Jungle Cruise, Toy Story, Buzz Light year, and Ferrous Wheel. We throw in a few shows and meeting with the princesses before calling it a day. In fact, by the time we left, they had shut off the lights on the castle.

So why is a trip to Disney like a marathon? Well, in the last few miles of a marathon, my legs hurt. My feet hurt. The same can be said at the end of the day at Disney. All anyone wants to do is set down. Who knew having so much fun could hurt so much. And usually, within a few days we start planning our next visit.

For runners down time can be hard to accept that we needed it. But we also need to remember that down time can be a perfect time to create some special family time. I highly recommend it.


Sharing one thought at time,

The Cool Down Runner



Friday, June 15, 2012

Getter older by the day

As children grow up, they like to race with adults. At least most like to do sprints against adults. Sprints are all about instant gratification and children like immediate results. The races might be 10 yards, 25 yards, or 100 yards, but these types of races allow children to show how fast they are and that they can beat their parents.

My daughters are no different. We have run a lot sprints through the years and I usually ran with my foot barely on the gas because that's what "Dad's" do. Winning was not what was important but the act of doing it with them was really the important part.

This past week after work, my daughters followed me to the soccer field and they joined me while I was going through my running form drills. What child doesn't like to jump, hop, skip, run etc?

Everything was fun and games for them.

The final part of my forms drills is roughly a 75 yard sprint because this is how long the soccer field is.

And of course my daughters were all into this drill.

So we count down and I yell go. They take off sprinting and I learn really quickly that they are getting bigger and faster. No longer do I need to barely touch the gas pedal, but I have step on it pretty hard just to keep up. We near the end and they are looking back laughing and enjoying the bragging rights of beating "Daddy" already. It was kind of like a wide receiver that holds out the football to the defensive back as he heads into the end zone.

After the first two sprints, there was some additional coaxing needed to get them to run the final two sprints. Apparently, they were completely and utterly exhausted by these first two sprints. They definitely had to work harder on the final sprint to beat me and I didn't do much soft pedaling. When it comes to sprinting, they can match me pretty well.

Winning or losing wasn't the significant part of this experience. Soon they will be grown and charting their own courses through life, but I will always be able to look back fondly upon this day with them. You never know when a special moment is about to happen so please don't ever waste any opportunity to enjoy one.


Sharing one thought at time,

The Cool Down Runner

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Thinking ahead

Before one acts upon something, one should put some thought into preparing for the "act". That is what I have been doing. Putting together some of the ideas for workouts that I want to use in my training plan for a fall marathon.

A couple of years ago, Mike and I did these fast finishes to long run as part of our preparation.

What is a fast finish?

We selected 3 weekends leading up before our fall marathon and did a long run where we cranked down on the miles over the last half of the run.

What we would do was run a 10 mile warm up. Then, we would regroup and run the remainder of the effort as tempo. The first weekend, we ran an 8 mile tempo. The 2nd weekend, we ran 10 miles, and on the final weekend, we ran a 12. I remember Mike leaving me in the dust for 2 of the 3 runs. But on race day, those ugly hard runs paid off. I felt really strong longer in the marathon than any of my previous marathons.

Not quite sure how I am going to work those into the schedule but I am definitely bringing them back.


Sharing one thought at time,


The Cool Down Runner

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Stuff-Ur-face ½ marathon

Latter part of last week Facebook seemed to be blowing up about an event in Charlotte called the Stuff-Ur-Face run. I was marginally interested until I just so happen to get an email from Peter a.k.a "Mr. Vac&Dash" himself. He would be coming over to time this event. His email included the full details about it. At about the same time I was putting together my weekend plans. Suddenly, 13 miles with a bunch of runners and tons of food afterward sounded like an awesome idea.

That's when I tracked down the Facebook invite and added my name to the list of those attending this event.

We met at the McMullen Greenway entrance off of 51. By the time, I arrived the parking lot was already full so I knew a big crowd was coming out.

There were quite a few familiar faces in the crowd. Picked up my number and shirt. Peter was making this unofficial race as official as possible.

Dropped my stuff at the car and then headed back to the start.

Phyllis and Kate need to be given all the credit for this event. From what I understand this came together in the last two weeks.

For our course, we ran to the end of the McMullen Greenway and back. We then did a little out and back on the side walk to almost 485 to make the distance 13.1 miles.

Events like this are what I find enjoyable these days. ¼ mile marks on the greenway. Water stops were available along the course. However, in place of the usual gels at the 7 miles, donuts were made available.

And for every donut consumed, a runner's over finish time would be reduced by 2 minutes. My stomach doesn't handle sugars that well during a run. A donut or worse a creamed filled donut would have destroyed my tummy. That's why I sipped a little Gatorade and water but skipped the donut option.

Rob and Brian did some talking after the race about me not catching them. But hey, I was cruised out at something like 8:40 pace for the first mile. Then, I worked it down to some 7:30s and followed it some 7:10s over the closing miles. I was enjoying chatting it up with people along the course.

I watched those guys pass me by at the turn around. They were taking the whole donut thing and race thing seriously.

My time was a 1:37 and change which brought me home 7th Overall and the same as the number on my bib.

Everyone just hung out for a while for some food and runner talk.

In all honesty, I cannot say enough good things about this event and the organizers. How could you do anything but applaud them after they put so much of their time and effort into give Charlotte a signature event


Sharing one thought at time,


The Cool Down Runner

Monday, June 11, 2012

Getting your head in the game

Saturday afternoon, I was reading an article about going from the marathon to the 5k and running a PR. In the article they talked about the transition in training but they also talked about the mental aspect of running a 5k instead of a marathon.

Running a marathon, I have stay well within my aerobic threshold. Otherwise, I am going to be either slowing down at the end or most likely walking before the end of the marathon. Mentally, I know what this feel like and the pain coming with it. Mentally, I understand and like the feeling of going out easy and pushing harder half way through the race.

To use a NASCAR expression, I have to be up on the wheel right from the start in a 5k. There is not laying back. Mentally, 5k means more stress and more pain starting from the beginning. There is very little time to get the body rolling or the race will be over before maximum effort is achieved.

Friday night I found myself struggling to get into high gear and I realize why. My running diet has consisted of a steady consumption of long easy miles. These are low stress and low pain points workouts which don't callus the mind to the much harder efforts required from a 5k. Sometime, I wonder if intervals actually help prepare the mind more than the body for running harder. I know it does help the body but the mind is also going through the same conditioning process.

Thus, I am left with the knowledge that my brain needs retraining to handle shorter and harder races. Maybe I will get my legs and brain on the same page before the end of the summer.


Sharing one thought at a time,


The Cool Down Runner

Sunday, June 10, 2012

China Grove 5k – “The Great Escape”

Friday afternoon, Mike texted me that he was going to China Grove 5k. Awesome, racing with Mike is always fun. So I head up I-85 fighting through the traffic or maybe I should say "set through the traffic". Travel time was roughly 1 hour and 10 minutes to Concord and then there was maybe 15 minutes of driving on to China Grove.

But all was well, because I expected the traffic delay and allowed plenty of time. Got to the race and picked up my number. Followed it up by hanging out with Dave Freeze until I heard from Mike.

A little after 8 we headed out for a little course preview and long the way we ran in to Tony. Tony was the guy who finished 2nd last weekend at the June Bug 5k.

We checked out the course and swapped stories before finally splitting off to make last minute race preparations.

The field looked fast. There was a bunch of guys from Asheville running and Devin Swann running from the Raleigh area.

There were some familiar faces that I hadn't seen in a while like Robert Miller. Robert turns 40 in a couple of weeks so add another tough Master's Runner to our ranks. My job never gets any easier. Is it possible for me to turn back time and turn 40 all over again? Help please.
We assemble at the starting and it is getting good and dark.

After a few prerace activities and the timing guys from RMS Sports arrive, we are set.

They blew horn and finally, we were off.

Man, I felt like I was stuck in the mud as hordes of people were passing me.
We pass by the finish and I am thinking "where are my running legs". I have totally lost count of the people passing me. Bobby Aswell is running in front of me. Milton Matheny was running beside me. Chris Page was front of me. Man, I am feeling like I going to get my lunch handed to me and shown the door.

But slowly my legs begin to windup. By the mile, I am starting to move past a few people.

I swing in behind this girl with a huge pony tail. Her pony tail was swinging back and forth. As I got closer, I recognized that it was Molly Nunn.

She was digging hard and going in the direction that I wanted to go. So I followed.

She was picking people off and I was just hung on.

As we near the turn around, I glance at each runner coming at me looking for Mike. I want to give him a shout out of encouragement as he passes.

But with each stride we are getting closer to the turn, I don't see him. But I do take note of a guy in a white shirt and in what I believe to be a red headband. This was exactly what Mike was wearing at the start.

I suddenly realize that I am only about 15 yards behind him.

We hit the turn and I make sure that I am on the outside of our little group. My hope is Mike doesn't see me.

I have no idea if he does or not. And, I certainly was not going to bring up the fact that I was close behind him. LOL.
After the turn, Molly makes a huge surge and I again follow. We pass Tony and a few other guys.

The distance between us and Mike gets trimmed to about 5 yards. I surge just ahead of Molly and close it to about 2 or 3 yards. Maybe Mike sees our shadow or maybe he feels us coming but he throws in a surge. This rest of the 3rd mile plays out this way. I get close and he surges. My plan is to hold just a little bit in reserve and throw a surge at him when we are side by side. We get to the 3 mile mark and someone from the side lines "yells get him Bill". Suddenly, Mike (I believe) realizes whose shadow is almost to his shoulder and puts in a sprint that I didn't think he had. At this point, I burn all of the matches in my energy book.
Who knew that a tenth of a mile could feel like forever?

The lights of the finish line were in sight but the last of my energy was gone. Mike snips me by 2 seconds and Molly and I cross the finish line in a tie.
Man, I got so close to beating him that I could nearly taste the bragging rights. Then, at the list minute the carrot got jerked away. That's just the breaks of racing. I realize; I probably would never have pulled that much out of my body if he hadn't been right in front of me and for that I do owe him a big "thank you".

Going into the race, my goal was to run a 17:30 time. I clocked a 5:34, 5:36, and 5:38 with a :38 tenth which gives me a 17:27. I am pretty happy with the time. This placed me as the top Masters Runner for this year. Chris Page was the 2nd Master in 17:44 and Milton was the 3rd Master in 17:47. The Master's division had a very tight race.

Warm down in the books and the awards complete, the drive back to Charlotte was the only thing left on the to-do list. I have to say. The drive home was pretty good. I was happy with the results of the evening.

Sharing one thought at time,

The Cool Down runner

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Wired Up

Anyone else ever ran a late night race and then couldn't go to sleep when you got home. Yes, that is exactly where I was last night. I didn't know if it was from the excitement of the race or from talking to all of my friends that I hadn't seen in a while.

But when I got home, I didn't feel sleepy.

Hoping to push myself toward bed, I tried propping myself up in front of the TV. Sometime around 1am, I finally started to feel a little sleepy and headed off to bed. Seems like I just need about 3 or 4 hours to unwind after these late night races. My brain works overtime processing all of the events of the evening.

I wish I could turn it off but I can't.

On the bright side, I don't race that often in the evening so it is not like I will die from it.


Have a great weekend,


The Cool Down Runner

Thursday, June 7, 2012

The weather

Ever stand around talking to someone long enough and the topic of conversation will almost always transition to a discussion concerning the weather. Mainly, this occurs when you have exhausted all other topics that you and this other person share. Or at least that you feel comfortable discussing.

Certainly, I am not at the end of topics to discuss on my blog but I cannot ignore discussing this June weather.

Pretty much the entire spring, I am soaked in perspiration when I finish my runs. With the onset of the summer months, this wasn't something that I expected to change any time soon.

Boom, June arrives. And, since then, the weather has been nothing short of awesome. Temperatures have been in the upper 70s to low 80s. Humidity has been low. My runs start a little cool, but once I get rolling, the body loves the temperature.

Do I expect it to change? Yes. Do I want it to change? Heck, no.

Give me this weather year around.


Sharing one thought at time,


The Cool Down Runner

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

K*Swiss Kwicky QT2

On occasion I branch out from my normal Brooks Running shoes. Mainly, this happens when TrySports runs short with shoes of my size. Jeremy returned from the TrySports shoe repository to tell me no size 12 for the Brooks Launch.

What is a runner to do? This is the time to make some lemonade out of lemons.

Browsing of the shoes they had in stock the K*Swiss shoes caught my eye.
Jeremy checked and they had the Kwicky QT2 in my size.

As human beings there are two types of situations (I believe it) that catch our eyes. Either something is very beautiful to gaze upon or something is so ugly that it draws our attention. Then, there is everything in between.

The Kwicky QT2 drew my attention because I don't know how to say it other than it just looked like an ugly shoe to me. Some years ago, Nike produced a sock type shoe. Those shoes felt pretty as I remember it so I thought "why not give these a chance".

Trying them on they felt good. Doing a few strides, they felt equally good.

Thus, I whipped out the credit card and bought a pair.

Sunday, I wore them around my house for maybe 20 minutes. Then, Monday, I ran 10 miles in them with no issues.

The K*Swiss labels it as a light weight trainer or racing shoes. For me, the shoes works best as trainer. And looks aside, the shoes performs as advertised. I don't know if I would get another pair, but I might be open to a different style. Maybe buy something which follows a more typical shoe design.
  • Cost wise, these shoes run around $144 dollar. A little more than some other brands, but still less than the Newtons.
  • Profile: A quick-transition lightweight training and racing shoe. 9.7oz, 274.99g
  • Midsole/Outsole: Guideglide ™ dual-density constructon featuring Blade-Light Technology ™ cushioning and side drainage. 
  • Superfoam ® heel crash pad and footbed. 
  • Aosta II ® heel outsole and Duraplush ™ forefoot outsole. 
  • Dynamic TPU arch support and 3D medial posting for enhanced stability. 
  • Upper: QT2 "quick transition" upper technology for easy- on and - off.
  • ion-mask ™ by P2i hydro-phobic nano technology for state-of-the-art water resistance. 
  • Seamfree ™ technology heat welded seamless upper for total comfort.

Sharing one thought at time,

The Cool Down Runner

Tuesday, June 5, 2012


Life is about balance. Family is about balance. Relationships are about balance. Running is about balance. Everything is about balance. Stay up too late and the next day drags by. Run too much and over the next few days sore muscles rule your life. Run some extra hours and the family suffers. Spend too much time with your running buddies and your wife or girl friend makes you suffer. (Or maybe your husband or boy friend)

Each training cycle we try to balance the hard efforts with the easy efforts. We try to balance the stress workouts with the recovery workouts. We balance the calories in with the calories out.

Yes, balance these different scales and "PRs" are just within grasp.

Balance. Balance. Balance.

I guess this is why "PRs" are so hard to come by.


Sharing one though at time,


The Cool Down Runner

Sunday, June 3, 2012

June Bug 5k

Friday, I was so on the fence about racing this weekend that I was ready to table it when the dark clouds appeared on the Charlotte horizon. But having put down my money to run China Grove 5k next Friday night, I felt that I needed to clean the dust out of the tail pipe to use an old expression. The time between races spans about 6 weeks of easy running. For a runner, this isn't much time, but watching all my friends race week after week and turn awesome times, deep down inside, I was aching to feel what it was like.

This sent me driving east of Charlotte over near Harrisburg to Frank Lisk Park.

Having run there multiple times in the past, I knew where it was and what the course was like. So I didn't have to worry too much about surprises.

Arriving early, I got in, got registered, got my number and shirt. Then, I settled down to change clothes and head out for some warm up miles.

Knowing the race course can be both a blessing and a curse. On the blessing side, I knew ever twist and turn so there was no chance to get lost. But on the curse side, I knew the course would be wet and the footing would be terrible.

After the warm up, I passed the time by doing hard/easy strides in the parking lot. 6:45 was the start time but it couldn't get here fast enough.

With some final pre race instructions, we were finally ready to start.

As is tradition with me, I look around to see who else is racing. Then, I estimate where I might finish. After that, I try to improve on upon that position.

The June Bug 5k has the first quarter mile downhill on pavement before it hits the dirt. Every time that I have run this course people go blasting out. And, I do mean blasting. Typically, by the time we hit the dirt, I am forty to fifty yards behind.

But when we turn on the dirt, the course goes up hill. This is where the real racing begins.

I am probably 6th place at the time.

I recognize that one of the guys ahead of me was a master's runner so I definitely needed to try and reel him back to me.

We top the hill and I watch while these guys swap the lead back and forth as I close in on them.

By the time we hit the mile mark, I am with them.

I don't really so down. I just wait on them to come back to me because they have gone out so fast.

We head down the hill and by the lake. I have opened a small gap. I know this because I sneaked a peek while making one of the turns. The last mile of the course run pretty much the uphill section of the first mile and back to the finish line.

Knowing this is the case, I focus on settling down and getting my breathing under control. The pace slows a bit but then we are running up the final hill and I know I can handle it or at least I hope I can handle it.

We make a left turn and then right turn. Each time, I am peeking to gauge the distance of 2nd place. On the last turn, my eyes pick up a green shirt. Mentally, my brain thinks "this is way too close for comfort" and suggest to my legs that they open it up a bit more. My legs on the other hand are not feeling they have that much punch left in them.

However, hitting the asphalt makes my legs feel better and I push on to the finish line.

I record a time of 18:06 which was about 6 seconds faster than last year.

I have to give the Park & Rec some kudos. They put on this race every year and each time, they did an exceptional job.

Oh, I don't want to forget. They gave out some unusual wood awards. I have included a picture of it here.

Now, I can rest recover and head into next Friday night at China Grove. This should be an awesome event and I will need to bring my "A" game if I even want to sniff the faster runners.


Sharing one thought a time,

The Cool Down Runner