Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Nathan’s Quickshot Plus

After spending half the summer sweating out more water than I felt like I was taking in and spending the other half looking for any available water fountains during my runs, I felt like it was time to do something about it.

This past weekend, I picked up Nathan's Quickshot Plus Handheld Hydration Bottle. Carrying something in my hands isn't something that I like to do. I like my hands free. I have always been this way.

But with the Sun bearing down it was time to make a change.

Thus, let's pick up one of these hand held bottle and give it a try.

These bottles hold about 10 oz. of water. The strap allows for it to be worn comfortably on either hand. There is an extra storage pocket for a Gu or key or cash. There is also a pocket for your road id if you have one.

I am right handed so obviously I put the bottle in my right hand by default. By the mile mark, I am already feeling it in my bicep. At two miles I opt for changing hands. Better I try to fatigue my both biceps equally.

When the Sun is beating down, the sips of water do hit the spot and make the runs more bearable.

I will usually fill the bottle with cold water and then stick into the refrigerator to stay cool before the run. This probably keeps the water cooler just a little longer – maybe through 2 to 3 miles. Then, pretty much the water is room temperature.

Typically, I will sip water every 2 miles as well as switching hands holding the bottle. After a few runs now, my biceps seem to be adjusting to the additional water. I still find it a bit awkward while starting my runs but the feeling goes away in a few minutes.

For training runs I have been making it a habit to take it but I am not sure about racing. I tend to fall back to wanting my hands empty.

One other thing, I noticed initially I wanted to grip the bottle. Something in my brain kept telling my hands that it was going to fall out. But the urge to grip is slowly abating so I now just try to hold the bottle loosely.

Stay hydrated is the key to successful running so do what you must. I am.


Sharing one thought at a time,

The Cool Down Runner



Friday, July 27, 2012

Penn State Football Program

On occasion I drift away from running to address other topics. This post just happens to be on one those times.

Since the NCAA handed down their punishment on the Penn State Football program, most of the radio and tv analysis has centered around what it means to the program today and in the future. Clearly, the punishment will leave a stinging mark on the program the egregious offences that occurred. There is no way to justify overlooking them.

But I want to focus on one particular point of the penalty. This is Penn State's vacating of all their wins since 1998. While I confess to not understanding all the reasons behind this punishment, I suspect it has something do with removing Joe Paterno's position as the winningest coach in college foot ball as a way of punishing his legacy for his role in this entire dreadful affair. On some level, this makes sense to me. He should have made better decisions.

However, those losses don't just punish his legacy. Those losses whether wins during the regular season, conference championships, or bowl games means the legacy of the players on those teams also have losses attributed to their names. The old saying "Guilty by associate" just doesn't seem to fit in this case. I am sure these players shared a lot of blood, sweat, tears, and hard work to earn those wins. Sadly, the history books will write a different story now. That's why I feel for the players from those teams.


Sharing one thought at time,

The Cool Down Runner


Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Beat the Heat 5k recap 7/21/2012

Well, I thought I would take my chances and race with big boys in the Winston Salem area. Beat the Heat 5k is one biggest race around and perhaps one of the fast around because it draws such a huge pool of runners for the race.

The course had changed since I ran it two years ago. Instead of going up this one tough hill twice, they moved the start so we ran up part of the finish straight. The change was good in my opinion. The start area was much wider and made the starting line less congested.

After a little 3.1 mile preview of the course, sweat was running down the side of my face and my shorts were soaked. Mark Hadley was standing near the start and said something about it only being 3.1 miles of heat suffering. I guess he can see that I looked like I had already run the race.

The race counted down to 7pm and the gun sounded.

In my previous races I allowed myself to be boxed in by other runners. This was not happening tonight. But then, everyone appeared to have the same idea. I glanced to my left and saw Alana digging hard. We make the second turn and I looked ahead to see at least a couple of women in front of me. Later, I would learn that the lead woman was Pezz. She sizzled through the first mile in 4:59 if my old ears heard her correctly. I come through in a paltry 5:15.

When I feel the breeze blowing in my face, I feel good. Once we turn out of the wind, I feel like I am in a sauna. No air moving across my skin and a thick layer of sweat coating my limbs.

We make the turn and start up hill for the biggest part of the 2nd mile. Caleb flashes by me while Caitlin is right on his heels. Matt J is close behind with Alana looking smooth.

I already know it isn't my night. I go from feeling solid to carrying that big monkey on my back. I take two cups of water and dump it over my head. This feels good but does nothing to improve my ability to run faster.

We finally reach the top of the hill. 2 more right hand turns and I am headed on the downhill section back to the finish. I got nothing left. Mentally, I am telling my legs to go faster, but they are yelling back that they were at full power.

At last, the finish line comes into sight. This is when I see a runner ahead of me. I can tell that he is starting to struggle. This knees look like they are going to buckle any second now.

We are in the finish straight and his knees give away. He goes down hard on the asphalt. All sorts of things are running through my head at this point. Thoughts of other runners stopping to help a struggling runner to the finish is what comes to mind the most. He throws himself forward not once but twice to cross the finish line and then just lays there on his back.

After the race we talked for a few minutes. He name was Paul Sherman and he is a 2:50 marathoner. He came into the race having run a fast sub 17 minute 5k time. He was pretty frank with his explanation for the evening. He just isn't a great hot weather runner. Brother, I feel your pain and I believe that I am in the same boat with you. Jack up the thermometer into the 80s and 90s and my race times drop way off.

17:53 was what my Garmin recorded. This put me 37th overall. It is what it is. I have run this race twice and neither time have I come into the race running well.

But then, there is always next year.

By the way, Er Ralston gets a big "at-a-boy" from me. He directs a well run race and definitely is worth the drive up from Charlotte.



Sharing one thought at time,

The Cool Down Runner


Friday, July 20, 2012

Swimming for runners

Is swimming good for runners? Honestly, I don't know. What I do know is that unlike the last couple of years, I am not riding my bike as much so I need to get my aerobic fix elsewhere.

You have to remember that for nearly the last 30 years, my legs been the primary basis for my aerobic work. My arms have done little more than go along for the ride and provide me with a nice place to put my stop watch so I can track the elapse time.

This summer I have worked more on my swimming than any time in the last 4 or maybe in the last 7 years.

Swimming is still something is quite new to me. I took my first swimming lesson some 7 years ago because my daughters were taking them. Pools are fun but the real fun is swimming in the deep end. I knew once my daughters learned how to swim; this was exactly where they were headed. I didn't want to be left behind and I didn't want to be watching them from a distance. So this was my initial motivation for swimming but now, this motivation is shifting. Especially, athletically, I see myself doing more with swimming.

In fact, I am thinking about taking some more lessons. I realize that I am about as efficient at swimming as a toddler is learning to walk. And unlike running and to some extent cycling, swimming more will not make me better or stronger. Even thou, I would be working harder. I would also be more frustrated. No, I realize that swimming is so much more about technique and I have no problem saying that I have lousy technique.

While I will always see myself as a runner at heart, I would like to do a triathlon. I could even see myself possibly trying half and maybe later a full Ironman.

I have always been a person that relishes a challenge. Whether this is in the work place, athletics, or on my personal life, if I am not good at it, then I want it all the more. Swimming for me is a real challenge and triathlons are a way to show I am capable of more than just pounding out mile after mile on the roads and trails around Charlotte.

I have no desire to jump into one of these races tomorrow. I have enough respect for the event that I want to make sure I put in some proper training. But I see myself starting small. After two or three years, maybe I will feel ready to attempt one of those Ironman events. They just look like such an awesome experience and so challenging, I want to see if I can do one.


Sharing one thought at time,


The Cool Down Runner



Street Light 5k Recap 7/13/2012

Friday, I headed toward downtown Concord for the Street Light 5k. As luck would have it so did the area thunderstorms. While I was trying to find the race registration, the skies opened up and poured with rain.

The air was left so thick that you could have conceivable cut it with a knife.
Following my usual routine, I ran over the course as a warm up. I was careful to memorize that the first mile and half were fast and flat, but the 2nd was going to be tough.

The race started with us running about 15 yards before making a hard left hand turn. My struggle with getting out fast had left my hopelessly boxed in by other runners. We run maybe another 20 yards before taking a 2nd hard left turn. From there, the course opens up and I started passing a few people.

Reed, Patrick, and Caleb were making fast work of the first mile. They must have gone through between 5 minutes and 5 min. 5 seconds. My Garmin read 5:17 and I was pretty happy at this point and had pulled into 5th place overall.

We make the turn on the greenway and head back. I passed the 4th place guy. I can see Caleb running in the distance ahead of me and I am trying to keep him in sight so I have a reason for running hard. The heat and humidity are making running difficult because all of my blood is being circulated up next to the skin to cool me. The cooling isn't helping much because I am coated with a layer of sweat.

By 2 miles, Caleb has inched out sight. I have been running up hill for about ½ mile when we hit these switch backs. Really, I don't think I have ever seen a greenway that had switch backs but this one does.

I am just trying to keep my legs moving because I think I see the top. But no, it is a false top. I turn left and have another climb to which my legs don't want to do.

Some guy yells that I am almost there. I certainly hope so. My second mile had been 5:43. The third was going to be ugly a 6:24.

I crossed the finish line in 17:56 and finished 4th overall. I finished 1st in the 45-49 category.

Overall, I got what I wanted. This weekend I am headed to Beat the Heat 5k so having a shakeout race helps a little with the preparation.

One interesting note, this race had some 400 runners and they sold out. I talked to several runners that showed up 45 minutes before the start and were told they could not register because they had no more numbers. I have heard of racing have a cut off before race day but never running out of numbers on race day. I guess a lot of people like racing on Friday night.

See you at the races,

The Cool Down Runner

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Running out gas during a run

Running out of energy during a run is never pretty. There is no gauge to display how much fuel is left in the tank. All I knew was that the engine was starting to sputter and then suddenly there was no gas left.

Let me back up and start the story from the beginning.

This all started on Friday. I made plans for running the street light 5k so I could get some up tempo work in before going to "Beat the Heat" 5k next weekend. The street light 5k is a 7:30 PM start which means for me that I needed to watch what I eat and when I eat. To translate it means I probably didn't eat enough calories on Friday. But I like my tummy to feel empty when I am racing.

So I raced on Friday. It's after 10 PM when I return home. I hadn't eaten anything and had only drank my 20 oz of Nuun. Knowing that I was meeting Ben and Megan for a run at Ann Spring early the next morning, I took in just a little something and went to bed.

The next morning, I dumped in a little water before heading out.

I took a gel with me. Thinking I would need it, but then I didn't take it with me during the run.

For the 45 minutes everything was fine. I was feeling good and enjoying our run on some trails that I hadn't seen in a while. We made a stop at the Leroy Springs Complex and I took in some nice cool water. However, I was starting to feel really tired. We had only been running barely over an hour. I shouldn't be feeling this way.

The time slower crawled to 1:15. I knew we were headed back to the cars now. I thought I could hold on. At 1:30, I was sweating profusely. I mean I was soaked with sweat dripping off of every inch of me. My shoes were squeaking from the sweat. 1:45 and I was literally falling apart.

At the time, mentally, I was not putting two and two together. The only thought that resonated through my head was how out of shape I was. When we pulled up at Lake Hagler, my Garmin said just over 2 hours. Ben and Megan had waited on me. I just stopped at the point and put my hands on my knees. I knew at that moment that I was finished. 2 hours had been my goal for the day so there was no need to run any more miles. Ben pointed me toward the short cut back to the cars and while he and Megan did a couple more miles. Well, he did a couple of more miles. Megan probably ran for another hour.

Only later in the day once I put some real food on my stomach and starting thinking about it did the picture really become clear. I was clearly deficient when it comes to calories consumed.

This may sound funny but once my body gets into one of these states, the mind falls prey to negative thinking. I wish it didn't but it does. If I had been thinking clearly, I would have known that I had just run 16 miles on Tuesday without any issue.

Also, I should have planned better and taken my Gel with me which would have at least offset some of the effects.

Now, it is all water under the bridge and I have another experience to use. An experience that will help me plan better for the next time and avoid dreaded "bonk" during future runs.


Sharing one thought at time,

The Cool Down Runner



Friday, July 13, 2012

TIFOSI Sunglasses

If you have seen me in the last two weeks, you may have noticed that I have not been sporting my traditional orange sunglasses. For some unknown reason I felt like a change. This meant picking out a new pair of sunglasses. This time I picked out something in black rather than the usual orange.

Browsing through the sun glasses selection at TrySports, I spotted a pair of TIFOSI Optic eyewear.

They were model "Seek", color "Gloss Black", Style "0180400277".

The frames are "Gunmetal" color which is how the manufacturer describes them. They weigh "a whole" 24 grams and are expected to fit runners from small to large. I guess no matter the size of the body; all heads are relatively the same.

Based on info from the website, they have a high bending strength, low density, and high resistance to chemical and UV damage.

Thus for the last couple of weeks, I have been wearing them during my runs on very hot days. Other than a wipe off from the sweat they have been functioning as expected.

My biggest concern is that they provide protection against the sun's UVA/UVB rays. The sun's rays are hard on a runner's eyes and more often than not, runners tend to squint to limit the amount of sun light entering their eyes.

I see it far too often with runners.

Maybe you would like these sunglasses or maybe other brands. Regardless, the reason I am sharing this is that every runner should be wearing sun glasses. Eye protection whether it is from the sun's rays or from a rock picked up and flung at you from the tire of a passing car is very important.

Above all else, you should protect your eyes.


Sharing one thought at time,

The Cool Down Runner


Thursday, July 12, 2012

90% rule

This is a topic that I have visited in the past but each time I post something about it, I feel like I understand it a little bit better.

Over the years, I have seen more than a few training plans that give percentage of efforts. These plans tell a runner that they should be running their workouts at this percentage of maximal effort or that percentage of maximal effort.

Personally, I feel one should never go above 90% of maximal effort. Perhaps, the best plan is to keep it around 80 to 85 percent. Running at 90% or above is just too close to turning a workout into a race and when I turn a workout into a race, I lengthen my recovery time and my risk of injury increases. In fact, through the years when I am injured, I can pretty much put my finger on the workout that did it. I pushed well into the red for some unknown reason and the result was a pulled something or another.

Running at 80 to 85 percent is still a very tough workout. But by staying within this range, I can come back a few days later with another workout, more rest and then another workout because the recovery process is shorter. Furthermore, by keeping within this range, my risk of injury is reduced greatly. And, one thing that I can expound upon enough, the ability to race well comes from being able to run and run regularly. Being injured takes away from this body of work.

The month of July is well underway and lots of people are starting their fall marathon training. As you go about executing your plan, keep this in mind. You can have a few super fast workouts but risk missing days to recover or take a little something off the top and show up at the starting line healthy and having given yourself a solid chance at achieving your goal.

And remember above all else, 100% should be reserved for race days. This is when you want to push the risk aside and reach for your goal.

By the way, that's why workouts are called training and not racing. No one can race every workout.


Sharing one thought at time,

The Cool Down Runner


Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Can I get a Coke with my Big Mac?

Some weeks I have a list of blog topics and other weeks, topics just seem to fall from the sky. This is just what happened this week. I am feeling the urge to post on my blog and cannot seem to put a finger on a topic. Then, in the background from my TV I hear a CNN reporter talking about people trying to get Coke-a-cola and McDonalds banned from sponsoring future Olympic Games. Suddenly, like I said, the topic just falls from the sky.

From what I can gather from the report Coke and McDonalds have put billions into sponsoring the Olympics. However, this group wants to ban Coke and McDonalds from sponsoring the Olympics because they feel that having these brands so visible on a world stage will contribute to the obesity issue plaguing adults and taking hold of our children.

I guess their argument has some merit. After all McDonalds appears to be the only establishment providing food in the Olympic village so I will "Supersize it" after a long day of walking around and watching active people participates on the biggest sporting stage possible. And why not, those Big Macs taste so good and there is nothing like washing it down with some ice cold Coke.

Wait, this is the exact reason these people want to ban Coke and McDonalds. What am I thinking?

This is the point where I say that I am not on board with their effort.

Yes, there are some food choices at McDonalds that are less than desirable – healthwise. But to McDonalds' credit there are some good choices including water/fruit juices, salads, and apples etc.

Really, how I see it is – what people eat comes down to the choices they make. We don't ban Ford because the cars they make can end up killing the driver if he makes a poor choice. Some people are going to make poor choices regardless of what they know.

Each of us must bear of the responsibility and ownership over our bodies and stop hold others responsible for eating foods that we know we shouldn't be eating.


Sharing one thought at time,

The Cool Down Runner

Monday, July 9, 2012

First week of the next training cycling is in the books

The first few days of anything new is always rough. The task of acclimating to the change stresses both the body and the mind That's exactly how my training cycle started this past week. Monday was a rather easy day with 7 miles but then, Tuesday saw me logging some extra miles early to get 17 during Jamaar's McAlpine run.

This was followed by a rather sluggish Wed, Thurs, and Friday. Between the heat and the extra weight strapped on to my body during my two week downtime, I was pretty certain running the Bear last year felt easier.

Saturday morning, Mike and I ran through Huntersville. The entire run I felt like was just dragging. I was soaked. Water was flying from my shorts with each stride. Mike started before me so he had in a little over 14 while I gratefully accepted 10.3 miles. But when I looked at my watch, I was pleasantly surprised to see that I had completed my portion of the run in just over 75 minutes. No wonder, my legs were feeling terrible. My legs were moving faster than they wanted.

Come Sunday, I hit the trails at Beatty. Mentally, I was bouncing back and forth between feeling good and feeling bad. But when I finished, I still felt like I had something in the tank and could have potentially ran another 6.5 mile lap.

That's the feeling, I want to have when I finish running. Completing a run and the first thing that I do is put my hands on my knees isn't a good sign for the future. Knowing that I have more in the tank leaves me with the optimism that I need for the future.


Sharing one thought at time,


The Cool Down Runner

Friday, July 6, 2012

The Wind

What can I say? Runners have a love hate relationship with the wind. I know that I do.

Take this scenario for example. I am running during the month of January. There is snow, sleet, and rain pouring from the sky. I have a 20 mile run to complete. My hope is that the wind will be at my back because if I am running face first, then I will most likely be chilled to the bone and pleading for warmer days. These are the kind of days where I want the sun to be shining down me. I don't think twice about the skipping or even avoiding a shadowed area. All this is in the name of staying warm during the winter. A head wind makes miserable winter time experience.

Forward the DVR settings 6 months later and the thermometer is pushing toward the very top with the Mercury threatening to burst out the top. These are the days where even with SPF 50, one can still feel the sun's burn on his or her shoulders. These are days where shade is not only heavily sought after but actively searched for to help avoid the rays of the sun. But the shade is only part of it. All runs really become tough when the air being breathed in is so hot that all one really wants to-do is stop. Unlike the winter days when one wants a tail wind, the summer tail wind makes one feel like they are standing still. The only really change the constant drip, drip, drip of sweat off the forehead. But let the wind hit one's face and suddenly the world feels 10 to 20 degrees cooler. Everything about the run feels so much better.

Like I said, every runner has a love hate relationship with the wind.

This summer, I will take a head wind any day but 6 months from now, I will be looking for that tail wind again. I guess it is one of those circle of life things.


Thoughts from the Cool Down Runner

Monday, July 2, 2012

New TrySports Store


Last week, I was out of town for vacation when the new TrySports in South Park opened. Sadly, I didn't get a chance to check it out so this weekend, I put it on my to-do list.

Saturday afternoon came and I headed across town.

My GPS lead me right to the front door. Wow, this was a big building.

Inside, they have a big show room. Wait no scratch that, they have a huge show room.

There's room for tread mills, weights, bikes, bike machines, bleachers, etc. My little browsing adventure probably took 30 to 45 minutes as I tried to take in all of the details.

Then, there are the posters on the wall. I really like the fact that they included photos of people that work for TrySports. There were pictures of Chris, Jeremy, and Kent. The picture Kent was from one the Team's victory moments when we won the CO-ED division from the Palmetto Relay.

And as usual, they were busy. I never seem to catch the stores during a slow period. However, I did get a chance to talk with Lauren and just a minute with Justin. There were other new faces wearing TrySports shirts. They were busy so hopefully on my next visit I will be able to introduce myself.

The store is definitely worth checking out if you are in the area.

TrySports Charlotte South Park
721 Governor Morrison St, 150
Charlotte, NC 28211
Phone: 704-442-3930
Fax: 704-442-3933


Sharing one thought at time,

The Cool Down Runner