Tuesday, October 30, 2012

3 x 2 mi with 2 minute recovery

After a busy weekend, life marches onward. Today, Megan and I were headed to the track for a speedy little workout. Megan had 2 x 15 minutes at 6:15 pace. Me, I was planning a 3 x 2 mile workout with a 2 minute recovery at roughly 6:10 pace.

We left Megan's house and headed up the hill to the track. We tallied about 3 miles in warm up and then hit the track. We started our workouts together but then, we quickly spread out around the track.

Having raced 10 miles on Saturday and then run another 20 miles Sunday, my legs surprisingly don't feel too bad. They don't feel great but they felt good enough to attempt this workout.

As I round each lap, I make a mental note of the lap number but ignore any thought of looking at my Garmin. Once the workout starts, I have never found looking at my Garmin makes me run any faster but knowing I am not running well, does some seem to make me spiral downward and run slower.

Clicking off the laps, I caught Megan on my 2nd to last lap. I make the last couple of circuits and feel good, out of breathe but still I feel pretty good. The wind is gusting and swirling inside the stadium so sometimes, I am dragging myself along and other times, I am being pushed along. Tail winds are always nice and I have never turned one down.

I start the 2nd 2 mile interval. I am chugging along. At various portions of the track, I can see Megan running her workout. She is running smooth and relaxed. I keep thinking to myself "when is she going to start her workout". She doesn't look like she is working hard at all. Personally, when I run, I feel more like a bull in a china shop as appose to deer running across the greenway. I have never felt like I run lightly.

Finally, the laps wind and I finish my 2nd interval and jog an easy quarter mile to recover.

I don't know how many runners experience this same thought but this is what went through my head as prepared for my last interval. Why is it that a recovery quarter mile seems to flash by while when I run a hard interval it feels like an eternity needs to pass before I finish my lap. I cannot explain it but that's how I feel.

The 3rd intervals up and I am pushing steadily through it. I don't want to kill it. This isn't what the workout is about. I just want to run a nice fluid set of miles and keep the engine purring toward OBX next week.

One by one the laps click off. Finally, I am working the very last lap. Mentally, I know that I am done when I complete this last lap. I push, but not too hard. Like I said, I want it to be steady.

I checked my splits from the intervals: 11:58, 11:46, and 11:43 running solo. My target going into the workout at had been 12:20 or just ahead of my expected OBX marathon pace.

This was definitely better than I expected and I am super excited about it.

We finished things off with a 3 mile cool down back to Megan's house and I put a done stamp on a great workout.

There are only a few more workouts to do and I am glad that most of the hay is already in the barn.


Sharing one thought a at time,

The Cool Down Runner

Monday, October 29, 2012

RunningWorks – Monster Dash 5k

Where do I get started? This time, let's pick up the events on Sunday morning. Mike B. and I had just finished running: 20 miles for me and 10 miles for him. Then, I jumped in my car for the short drive over to Rural Hill Farm for Meredith and Kelly's RunningWorks – Monster Dash 5k.

Timewise, it was probably 7:50 and there were already a number of cars parked in the field. Most everyone was dressed up for the event. Mike K. was dressed as Ironman, his wife as an Angry Bird, and his kids as Spiderman and Bumble Bee (the transformer not the insect).

Megan F. was dressed in a ballerina outfit with a tutu. She looked cold standing there with the wind whipping across the field cutting any thoughts of warmth from her body. Meredith's was dressed as a woodsman or at least this was my interruption of her outfit and was busy cutting down every obstacle in her path. Next, Justin was wearing his own variation of a man's tutu. Let's just way that it hurt the eyes. LOL. Justin's mom was working the registration table and barely taking time to look up as runner after runner stepped up to the table to register.

Theoden and Steve A. were also out there running but for whatever their reasons, these guys dressed in running outfits. Maybe they didn't get the memo. Mike Danenburg from Performance Therapy was there as a big supporter of the race.

From our TrySports Team, Glen, Chris, and Karin were out showing their support.

Things were moving along and I was mingling among the runners. This is when one of the neighbor's comes up to me and asked me if I am a runner. To which I replied "Yes". He tells me that this is his first ever race and asked me how people warm up for races. He knew warming up was important but didn't know if this was different than the group runs and that Meredith and Kelly do with them each week. I tried my best to explain what most people do. Then, he headed off; I am guessing to do a little of his own warm up. Honestly, what struck me the most was not that he asked me such a question, but that he was planning on running the 5k in blue jeans. I could not think of anything more restrictive and potentially less comfortable than running in blue jeans. I mean running after my kids in a park, okay, but a 5k, I wasn't sure if it was a wise idea. But to each his own.

Soon, the race would be starting so I moved out long the starting line. I wanted to take as many pictures for Meredith and Kelly as I could. Memory fade slightly over time but pictures help bring those memories back into focus.

The race starts and I am snapping tons of pictures as the runners roar by me. Then, I settle into a spot about 300 meters from the end and at the top of a big hill. This way, I can take pictures as each runner makes their way to the top and shout out encouragement to spur them on to the finish.

Chris and Noah come by first and then a few more runners followed my Megan F. in her tutu. From here on, there was a study stream of runners. Some runners were smiling while others had a "let me be finished" look on their faces. Justin's mom came by sporting a pair of Newtons. I saw the guy with the "blue jeans" run past me and looking none the worse for wear. I guess he did make the "blue jeans" concept work.

We cheered for each and everyone as they ran past us.

Being a part of the Winter Classic race committee, I am well aware of the back work that goes into planning and holding a race. Meredith and Kelly did an awesome job putting on their first event for RunningWorks and could walk safely away knowing that their event was a hugely successful. Meredith was already telling people about her plans for the event next year.

Something that I have come to realize is that successful event don't just happen. They occur because people are willing to spend countless hours working behind the scenes to make them a reality. Too often this hard work doesn't get recognized.

Meredith and Kelly, you give of yourselves and the results can be seen in the accomplishments of your RunningWorks program and with the Monster Dash 5k.

I just wanted you both to know that people do recognize the difference that you are making in our community.


Sharing one thought at time,

The Cool Down Runner

Thursday, October 25, 2012

RunningWorks, Salsaritas, and Guys with Ties

Earlier this week, Meredith sent out an email to our TrySports Ambassador team saying that her Running Works Organization – Monster Dash 5k would be holder a registration event at Salsaritas in Huntersville, NC last night. I hadn't see Kelly or Meredith in a while so I thought I would drop by.

Making the event even better anyone eating at Salsaritas – a portion of the store's proceeds for the evening would be donated to RunningWorks. A man has to eat and the opportunity to catch up with friends that you have not seen in a while is just too good of an opportunity to pass up.

After work I headed up to the restaurant.

Meredith and Kelly had setup shop just outside the door of Salsaritas. I was immediately pulled into conversations and meeting new people. I met individuals from Meredith and Kelly's RunningWorks program and from the "Guys with TIES" program. Everyone one was having a great time and once they found out that I was a runner, I got peppered with questions. One guy told me that he was worried about the 5k and thought that he might need to stop and have a cigarette during the race. My free advice on this was that it probably wasn't a great idea.

There was a steady stream of people coming by and registering for the race. Meredith's going to have a nice turnout for her first race.

I have a side story to tell here. Justin was helping out with Meredith's event. Justin always seems to be this high energy, full of life person. At least that is the impression that I get every time that we have talked. Last night, he was no different. He was talking and at the same time running around helping everyone with everything. Well, last night Meredith comes up and we are talking. Then, she goes on to introduce to me none other than Justin's mother. Looking at her, I would never have guessed that she's Justin's Mother. She seemed quiet and petite. The disparity between the two perceptions came out with my very first words even thou, I tried to hide it – "so you are Justin's mother". I guess that reason that I said it this way is because I can only image the task she had on her hands directing Justin's youthful enthusiasm. Anyway, it was all good with smiles and laughs.

Finally, I was finally able to slip inside the store and purchase my veggie burrito. Then, it was back outside for more talking. By a ¼ to 8, I had to say my good byes.

I wished them good luck on Sunday and told them that I would be out there cheering.

If you get a chance, come by Rural Hill Farm on Sunday. Meredith's 5k race starts at 8:45 AM.


Sharing one thought at time,

The Cool Down Runner



Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Alternating miles III

For the 3rd and probably the last time of this marathon training cycling, I ran my alternating miles workout. Interestingly, this was the fastest over time that I have run it – 64 minutes. But the workout came with a twist.

Today, I was a minute faster than when I ran it 3 weeks ago.

But here's the twist, my miles were not nearly as fast, but my recovery miles were much faster.

When I take the time to think about it, this really makes a lot sense.

My opening i.e. my warm up mile was some 8 seconds slower. Then, the next mile is probably 15 seconds slower. But then, my 3rd mile which is mostly uphill came in some 8 seconds faster. The 4th mile was 3 seconds slower this time around, but my recovery 5th mile was some 15 seconds faster.

Mile 6 was just a little slower than 3 weeks ago, but mile 7 was some 30 seconds faster and mile 8 was a few seconds faster.

Mile 9 was nearly 30 seconds faster and mile 10 ended up being about 10 seconds slower.

So what is the difference? Well there are two concepts at work here.

First, because I wasn't pushing so hard during my hard sections, the recovery process was quicker. Meaning, because I didn't push as far into the "red"; there was less clean up of lactic acid in the blood stream. Really, I was living more in my comfort zone and not pushing on the edge.

This goes back to the adage – "even pace or negative splitting a race is the best game plan". Pushing too hard too early and leave yourself open to slowing way too much during the latter portions of a race. Running with a more balanced approach tends to yield better results because the body is better able to deal with the stresses of racing.

I said there were two concepts at work here so here's the second one.

I wasn't able to push as hard and for a very good reason. As many of you know, I raced on Saturday (Big South 5k) and then I ran a decently hard 24 miler on Sunday. These back to back efforts took something out of my legs and left my hamstrings pretty sore. I knew going in that my body was not up to a gut wrenching effort and was just hoping for a solid effort. This is why I adopted the philosophy of ignoring the splits displayed on my Garmin and just running by feel. As long as I walked away from the workout feeling like the effort was solid, then the workout could be consider a success.

Yesterday's workout also gave me a strong indication that if I can get in to the 6:15 to 6:25 range of miles, I am going to be able to run a long ways at OBX. At least this is the theory. We will see if it becomes a "law" on 11/11/12.


Sharing on thought at time,

The Cool Down Runner


Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Big South 5k Recap

The Big South 5k was on Saturday and it was a race that I have been waiting the entire year to do again. Why you might ask? Well, last year, I was nursing a bad hamstring during the race which made running not only hard but nearly impossible.

This year, the hamstrings were much better and I hoped that I could turn in a little better time.

Following my prerace ritual, I made a slow recon of the course. Every turn, uphill, downhill, and flat were pretty much as I remember them.

Standing at the starting line, I saw some fast guys in the field. These guys were faster than Paul and Kent. Guys going so hard that the Mt. Bike pacer was out of breathe just trying to stay ahead of them.

But I really overlooked these guys and was looking for other Masters runners. That's when to my right, I caught sight of Donny. Donny is always in good shape and if he is racing he is probably in great shape. Now, I had my carrot to chase during the race. I just hoped that I could keep the carrot close enough to see during the race.

After what seems like an eternity – 2 minutes to be exact, we get the final countdown.

There's a surge of people from the line and I feel like I am being engulfed by the sea of runners around me. The start is uphill so my legs are struggling to come up to speed.

We make the first right turn and I am looking at head. I am trying to spot Donny among the other runners. Luckily for me, he is wearing one of the 3T singlets. It stands out in a crowd.

We make the left turn into the neighborhood. My feet are digging at the earth and my breathing is labored. We are barely ½ mile into the race. The distance between Donny and me is roughly 20 yards. It might well be 200 yards. I am not making up any ground.

We make a right turn and head uphill again. My throat and lungs are burning from the sudden ingestion of cold air. We make a quick right turn and a left. Now, I have closed in on Donny and am following in his tracks.

We are going uphill again and I know that I am running harder than I had expected. I can feel both the quads and the hamstrings burning. Mentally, I am trying to settling down and control my breathing.

After the mile, I pull even with Donny. There is another young guy here and the 3 of us form a pack with me in the front.

We reach the top and make the right turn into the 2nd neighborhood.

I know I am fully committed at this point. We hit the slight up hill and my body wants to rebel but I am urging it onward.

We cross over the top. The course goes downhill not a bad or steep downhill, but when you are running hard downhill, it still hurts. I know at the bottom of the hill is the 2 mile point so again I focus on controlling my breathing for the last mile to come.

Both guys are running on my shoulders.

We hit Rae Rd and I am trying to take it up a notch. We make the right into the Target parking lot. Here, the young guy throws in a surge and gaps Donny and me by a couple of yards. We go around the front of Target with Donny just off my shoulder.

Honestly, I knew what was coming and was racking my brain to find a way out of it.

For those not familiar with the Big South course, just before the finish, instead of going to the corner and making a left to the finish, the runners have to make a right turn and essentially go around this building. The 3 mile is on the final corner and the finish line is .1 ahead.

Mentally, I am preparing myself for one more surge. I beat Donny to the first corner, but not to the 2nd and he gets the inside track. This is a bad tactical spot. He accelerates off the turn and I try to follow. My legs are churning against the pavement but they are not churning as fast as Donny's legs.

We hit the final corner and my legs are giving me everything that they have. I realize that I am not closing on him. Under any other circumstances, I would have accepted my fate and cruised to the finish and known that I gave a valiant effort.

But today, I could see the clock and the clock was still reading a time in the 16s. Wow, 16s, the clock must be wrong. Mentally, I am focused on the clock. I don't hear my breathing. I don't feel my feet hitting the asphalt. I only have eyes for the clock and the little red lights slowly flashing 49, 50, 51….

Finally, my body carries my bib number across the line and the intersection of the two triggers the timing machines to stop my counter at 16:54.

By far this is the fastest that I have run in 2 years. Before the race, I had harbored hopes of running faster than last year, but I hadn't imaged going this fast.

This placed me 10th OA and 2nd masters. My congratulation goes out to Donny on his 16:51. He earned it with a great finish.

My run was a good one, but the whole event was made even better by the Team competition. Last year, our TrySports team took home the top honors in the Corporate Division. When, I saw the team competition was back this year, I was already putting our Ambassador team on notice that we were having a team.

Julie, Paul, Kent, Jason, Glenn, Stan, Stefan, Jeremy volunteered their efforts to our team cause. This year, we repeated as champions in the Corporate Division again. Although, we were not the top overall team. This year, it went to a team called the "Big Dogs". They averaged 14:49 as a team. I guess if your team averages less than 15 minutes a title of "Big Dogs" is appropriate. LOL.

This was just an awesome day not only for me but for our entire TrySports Ambassador team. Great Job ladies and gents.


Sharing one thought at time,

The Cool Down Runner





Monday, October 22, 2012

Last Marathon Long is in the books

Yesterday, I finished what will be my last long run before OBX. The morning was perfect for it. The weather was just cold enough that once running my body felt great. And making it even better was the company that towed me along for miles. The group included Aaron, Clayton, Dan, and Val, Kent, Paul, Mike M. and Billy just to name a few.

The conversations were great and kept my mind off the number of miles that lay before me. We kept making 7 mile loops for the purposes of either picking up or dropping off people along the way.

Overall, the run went well. However, the tenderness in my hamstrings seems to be a reoccurring theme these days. This could be the effects of running so hard during the Big South 5k on Saturday. Yeah, I agree probably not the best combination of events. Combing a hard race and then a super long run back to back just begs for the body to cry "uncle".

But now, I just need to focus on my taper and getting through the next 3 weeks without breaking anything.


Sharing one thought at time,

The Cool Down Runner



Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Wave 2 minute intervals

For whatever the reason, this fall I seem to be doing more and more of these wave type workouts. Like my alternating miles workout, my wave 2 minute intervals also follow a similar pattern.

So I headed out for my run this morning – looking to do something like 16 quarters which I converted to 2 minute intervals.

After a mile warm up I was off.

I would run 2 minutes hard at about 85% effort, and then I would recover at 70% effort. The point being, I never slowed enough that I would allow myself to totally recover.

The first ¼ of the intervals felt smooth. Then the legs started feeling the pain of the workout when I started hitting the rolling hills on the course. Sorry, I forgot to mention that I was doing this workout on the roads.

If I am going race on the roads, I might as well do my training on the roads.

Moving through the 2nd and 3rd quarters, I could feel my leg muscle tightening up. Not to mention, I noticed the traffic creating a headwind for me to overcome.

The last ¼ actually felt pretty good. I don't know if it was because of my conditioning or because I was getting close to the finish. Mentally, I knew the finish was close and could push through the fatigue.

Once I finished, I pulled the results into my Garmin Training Center so I could look at the paces and distances covered.

It was nice to see that I was running 5:30 to 5:45 pace during the hard efforts and 6:40 to 6:50 during the easier sections.

For the workout, I covered my course of 11 miles in 72 minutes – averaging 6:35 pace.


Sharing one thought at time,

The Cool Down Runner


Monday, October 15, 2012

Quad status update

In my last post, I announced my decision about skipping the New River 50k. Man, how much was I disappointed by that decision? I was very disappointed. Saturday morning was absolutely perfect for running and I wanted so much to be at the starting line.

But sometimes common sense has to prevail even when it comes to runners.

Instead, I headed out for a 14 mile run Saturday. My quad started feeling a bit uncomfortable in the last mile but never gave out like it did earlier in the week. This was a positive sign.

I saw where Caitlin was running a long run on Sunday at McAlpine. She was doing 10 at 7-7:30 then picking it up. I didn't think that I could do the pickup portion so I opted for an early start and then picked her plus others up for their first 10 miles. This worked absolutely perfect for me.

I cruised through the first 10 miles in 76. I then picked them up and went out for another 10 miles. I came home in 2:40 for 22 miles. Happily, I am reporting that while my quad started hurting over the last 3 miles. Again, it just hurt but didn't give out.

My quad injury is not complete behind me. I still feel a lot of tightness and some soreness, but with 4 weeks until OBX, I feel like I am going to be good to go.

Crossing my fingers that the next 4 weeks go well trainingwise for me.


Sharing one thought at time,

The Cool Down Runner

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Pulling out of the 50k

Man, how much did the pendulum swing today. The swing had to be 180 degrees from the start of my run to the 7 mile mark.

I went running this morning and for the first few miles, my quad felt fine. I made sure to keep it easy today and through 5 miles, my thoughts entertained the possibility of running the 50k this weekend. I crossed the 7 mile mark on my 10 mile loop and suddenly without any warning, my quad started hurting. The pain wasn't bad at first but within a half mile, it became substantially worse. Enough pain that it affected my running.

I spent the final 2 miles struggling back home and feeling dejected. All the while, I was thinking there is no way, that I could make 31 miles on Saturday.

Rather than agonize over it for another day, I just made the call. There would be no 50k for me this weekend. I am better off not running it than trying to.

I rationalized by decision by considering 3 possible outcomes.

I could:

  1. Run the race and hope to finish.
  2. Run the race, suffer badly and end up walking to the finish
  3. Worse yet, run the race, and drop out because I couldn't go any further.

When nearly 70% of my options end in a failure outcome, there is no point. Better if I just end all thoughts of it and live to run another day.

Thus, no 50k race plans this weekend for me. I'll be puttering along trying to get in some miles. Then, I'll be wrapping a ice bag across my thigh.


Sharing one thought at time,

The Cool Down Runner


Just off center

For the last 2 weeks, I feel like things have been just a little off center. Before my accident, I was starting to get that feeling. Some may call it "Mojo", but I felt like my running was starting to hit on all cylinders which has not happened in a while. I was hitting my workouts better than I expected. I was feeling motivated to go run and life in general was pretty good.

Boom, I get into this accident and life has just been different.

The following weekend, I seem to be dropping everything that I picked up. Sometimes, it was two or three times. I was making silly mistakes. I'd go out to my car and not take my keys. I would fill my hand held bottles and leave them at the house. I even headed to the "Y" one evening to run and took two different shoes. Lucky for me, I at least got on for the left foot and one for the right.

But there have been other things too.

Over the past week, my back has been extremely tight or stiff depending on what is the best word to describe it and the side effect has been that my gluts have been hurting. My hamstring has been hurting, and now my knee. It seems as if the effects from my back are rippling down my legs. I am sure continuing to run has not done anything to help it.

Today, it will be 2 weeks from the accident. And, I am hoping things get back to normal soon.

This weekend was to be my 50k long run before OBX. Monday, I was so looking forward to it. Today, I am not even sure that I am going. Yesterday's run was a painful 10 miles. As I walked up my driveway, I couldn't image running another 21 miles. But I am the eternal optimist and holding out hope until after my run tomorrow before I make my decision.

Keep your fingers crossed for me.


Sharing one thought at time,


The Cool Down Runner



Tuesday, October 9, 2012

My quad wants a day off

This morning I had intended on doing a hill workout, but it never happened. For one reason or another, my quad wants a day off.

Yesterday during my evening run, I noticed some tightness in my left medial quad. I didn't think much of it other than the usual stuff from the heavy load of marathon miles.

This morning, the same quad was extremely tight when we started running but usually it will loosen up once I get rolling. This morning it didn't.

It was noticeably hurting when we were rolling on the flats. Maybe it hurt a little more going uphill. But coming down hill, I noticed that it felt like it was going to give way. I stopped and tried stretching it. I ran a little further and it didn't seem to be improving.

We were now 7 miles in to the workout and I knew there would be no hills for me today. I told Megan to head on and I walked back to my car.

I came home and immediately put some ice on it and took some anti-inflammatory medicine.

This was not the sign that I needed with a 50k this weekend. Right now, I might be 50-50 for doing. I have to see how tomorrow goes.


Sharing one thought at time,

The Cool Down Runner

Friday, October 5, 2012

Mile repeats

For this past Thursday, Megan had asked me if I would help her with some mile repeats that she had on her training plan. Honestly, I wasn't really sure what to expect.

After my accident last Thursday night a week ago, I noticed that my back and hips have felt extremely tight on Friday and to some extent Saturday. Then, Sunday, I ran 24 miles pretty hard and later in the day my left hamstring was starting to hurt. My first thought was "oh no". My right hamstring issue lasted nearly a year. I was so hoping to not repeat those struggles again.

Monday, my back was still tight and stiff. Combined with my hamstring, I noticed that my left glut was also acting up. This makes me feel like I am falling apart.

Through more running Tuesday and Wednesday, my status stayed status quo. The hamstring issue seems to have abated, but the glut issue continued to exist.

So we arrive on "yesterday" Thursday and I tell Megan that I will run and see what happens. If my glut or hamstring really acts up from the hard running, I would shut it down.

We proceed into the McAlpine Greenway and cover about 6 miles before starting the workout of 3 x 1 mile. Openly, I have no idea what to expect.

We take off on the first interval. The hamstring feels okay but the glut seems to be just as tight. I clock in a 5:55 for the first mile. We recover and then it is time for the second repeat. I can still feel the stiffness and what I will call soreness but nothing that seems to be hampering my ability to run. I clock 5:54 for this mile.

We head for the back loop of the 5k course for the last mile interval. I figure that I will push and see what happens. I am coming around the back side of the soccer fields. I try to relax my shoulders and my back as much as I can.

The glut doesn't hurt any more or any less, but I do seem to feel looser. This mile I clock in with a 5:44 mile. I didn't see this one coming.

Even today, I am still struggling with a stiff back but once I get warmed up running, the stiffness tends to subside. I just hope it subsides all together before next weekend when I have my 50k run.


Sharing one thought a time,

The Cool Down Runner

Monday, October 1, 2012

24 miles at 7:08 pace

This week, my long run was set for 24 miles. Most marathoners don't really extend their runs this long but I like to because the workout puts me on the cusp of the full marathon distance. The fatigue, the muscle soreness, the mental strain are all part of what is felt during a run of this type. Leaving me with the experience of not only sharpening my physical conditioning but also of the callusing of the mental surface that goes on during the workout.

Sunday morning 5:45 we met at the Old Bell entrance. Megan, Caitlin, Billy, and, a new fast runner that just moved into town, Laurie. I believe I have her name right were in our initial starting group. We ran around under the lights near the entrance for about 20 minutes so we could pick up Aaron before heading in to the park.

With head lamps shinning we made our expedition down the greenway, across Margret Wallace, and along Harris Blvd.

By the time we returned to Old Bell, my Garmin has tallied up 11+ miles of the 24 miles that I needed.

A few dropped off, but we picked some as well. Included in the group were Alana, Ben, Kent, Mike, and Dan. I believe that I have everyone now and back out we went.

We had been running 7ish for the most part but as everyone got warmed up, then the pace started creeping under 7 minutes.

Normally, with a shorter run, I would not think too much about it. But now, I was starting to run miles 18-22 and the legs were starting to feel a little weary. These guys don't really think too much about it and honestly, I was not complaining. A side from trying to hang with them, I didn't have to do much work.

I have heard coaches tell their runners about the "rope" analogy. In this analogy, if I am trying to stay with another runner that is faster than me, I need to create a mental rope between us. The mental rope ties us together and drags me along when I am struggling. If the work load becomes too difficult the rope breaks and I lose contact with the faster runner. He then gets away. But if I can draw him back, I stay with him. By staying with him, I will, many times, be running farther and faster than I ever expected.

This was what I did toward the end of this run. My legs didn't feel like running faster, but I imaged the "rope" holding us together and I would dig down to keep contact. Knowing full well, if I didn't stay close, then the rope would snap and I would be on my own running to the finish. More than once I slowly tugged on the rope. Each time, willing myself back into the safety of the pack. At least until we reached the split between lower and upper Boyce. Ben took them up the hill. With a little over 1.5 to run, I decided it was time to sever the rope and run on my own so I took lower Boyce route.

Surprising, I didn't actually slow down that much. For 22 miles, I didn't have to exert too much energy focusing on my running and had leaned on the rest of the group to maintain the pace. And, I used the distractions of their conversations to keep my mind off the difficulty of the effort. I just had to maintain contact with them.

Now, with only a short distance to run that I was free to fly the solo to the finish. I cruised through the rest of the mileage with some looping around the entrance at Old Bell. And, I was feeling pretty good about the effort.

After the run, I checked my Garmin for the overall pace. The average across 24 miles was 7:08.

Not bad effort and it only took me 2 hours and 51 minutes.

These really long runs are tough. Doing them solo is the toughest of all. But doing them with a group is awesome because the miles wear on the body but the mind stays focused yet distracted at the same time. The difficulty of the effort is kept in the shadow by the energy of the running group.

That's why I give major props to all my friends in the Charlotte Running Club.


Sharing one thought at time,

The Cool Down Runner