Monday, January 30, 2012

Lessons Learned

Experience is a wonderful thing because it helps guide us toward making better decisions about future endeavors. In the business world that I live every day, we always do a lessons learned after each project. The premise being that we learn what we did well and what could we do to improve the process.

The same concept applies to the world of running as well.

Discussions are already being had about what we did well during the CRC Winter Classic 8k and what we could to improves the race for the runners next year. People have already posted some suggestions for improvement on the CRC Facebook page.

All of these ideas and suggestions are being gathered and put into a single list. From this list will come the improvements for the race next year.

No idea or suggestion is too large or too small to offer so if you see Mike, Ben, Laura, Aaron, Caitlin or myself, feel free to share your proposal.


 

Sharing one thought at a time,

The Cool Down Runner


 


 

 

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Winter Classic 8k – a view from the sidelines

On January 28, 2012 at 8 AM marked a special day and time in the history of the Charlotte Running Club. This was when the club held its first official race: The CRC Winter Classic 8k at Mc Alpine Park in Charlotte, NC. They used a course familiar to many runners which is the traditional 8k course at Mc Alpine that gives spectators several opportunities to see to runners pass: 1.75 miles, 3.5 miles, and at the finish.

By and large, the race came off with only few small glitches. Registration was open early and runners only had a minimal wait time to pick up their race packets. The start was on time and matched perfectly with the sun coming over the horizon to warm the runners up from the cool 30 degree temperature. The course gave the speedsters something to enjoy with along flat sections and gave those like the hills two trips up the same hill. Post race fluids and food were plentiful. The post race items given away keep the runners attention until the awards were ready. And, I would be remiss if I didn't point out that the awards actually started before the designated time.

The few glitches were with runners making the correct turns where the course over lapped. Next year, I am sure extra care will be taken to see that runners follow the correct path.

The open men's race featured a multinational flavor with an Aussie finishing 3rd, a Brit finishing 2nd, and an American and local boy finishing 1st.

The open women's race featured a strong showing by the local talent.

John and Dan got out fast followed by Paul and Chris. However, doing the 2nd loop of the course, Paul was able to close the gap passing both Chris and Dan before the finish.

Dalena was stalked the entire race by Michelle – making for a nail bitter right down to the end.

A very big shout out goes to David Lee and his son for their efforts in providing the timing services to the club for the race. A few of the runners seemed to have trouble keeping their chips attached to their shoes. I am sure giving David a few more grey hairs as he worked to resolve these issues for the race results.

Another big shout out goes to the race sponsors: Earth Fare, State Farm, Gore, and Charlotte Running Company. Earth Fare provided food and water for the event. State Farm provided water for the event. Gore provided product support. CSC gave post race massage which even volunteering, I wanted one. Finally, Charlotte Running Company for the race website and online registration services as well as helping with the race bag.

Last but not least were all of the volunteers that came out. No race is possible without the people that are passionate about running and passionate about making race events happen.

Then, there is the race committee of Mike, Aaron, Laura, Ben, Caitlin, and myself. We each played our supporting roles leading up to race day and then on race day. A special thanks to Mike and Laura for race day MC services during the awards and Ben for being out extra early to mark the course.

Sharing one thought at time,

The Cool Down Runner

Friday, January 27, 2012

Another busy weekend

Another busy weekend is on tap. Last weekend, I attended the extended board meeting and then I was off to the club social that night. Sunday was about recapping from my executive secretary duties and responding to the flurry of emails either club related or with the TrySports relay team. For those that don't know I volunteered to be our TrySports Relay Team Captain for the Palmetto 200. Not a physically hard duty, at least it isn't until the relay, but it is keeping fingers and brain busy working on getting enough runners for the team, figuring out the registration process, organizing members for the legs, and then there are the miscellaneous items – such transportation, lights, reflective gear, and food. But it's all fun and coming along quite nicely.

So what's on tap for this weekend – the CRC Winter Flight 8k race at Mc Alpine. I joined Aaron, Caitlin, Ben, Laura, and Mike in early December to help get the Club's first race off the ground. All of our work is about to be on display tomorrow morning at 8 AM.

If there is anyone that thinks we are not committed to this race, everyone is planning to arrive at 6am to help with the setup. Mike and Ben are marking the course this evening. Caitlin and Mike are picking up the water and food tonight. Dan is helping with the Nunn.

What else can I say, it is going to be fun and I am looking forward to it.

Btw – if you have not registered, come out tomorrow morning and sign up. The race is going to be a blast. Registration starts at 6:30AM and the race starts at 8AM sharp. The awards barring any issues should be around 9:30.

I am so looking forward to it.

So come out and see us.


 

Sharing one thought at a time,

The Cool Down Runner


 

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Narcotics should be avoid within 48 hours of race day

"You think"!

Packing way some the last stuff from Disney, I happened to flipping through the guide for the Disney races. As I was doing so, I stopped on the Medical Tips and Information page and began reading through it. Most of the information made sense. In fact, most of what they was said, I would actually consider to be common sense.

That is until I got down to the section on "Narcotics".

Here's what it said and I quote from the booklet.

"Narcotics should be avoided within 48 hours of race day due to the harm effect on performance, perception, and mental status."

"Duh", I think this is pretty obvious at least to me.

But as I think about it more; maybe there are some people that think it is okay to be loaded when they reach the starting line. I don't see how, but who knows what goes through a person's mind.

I mean, don't you have to be a little wacky to want to run 26.2 miles in the first place. LOL.


 

Sharing some of the crazier thoughts this time,


 

The Cool Down Runner

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

3 weeks into my downtime

After Disney, I just let things go. There has been no hard running and no long running. I just put in whatever feels good. The first couple of weeks were rather ugly because my legs felt like trash. In fact, my entire body felt like trash.

When I was at Disney, the temperature was in the 80s and I was out in shorts and a T-shirt. Warm weather is so much easier to adapt to than cold weather. Returning to Charlotte, the morning temperature shocked my body with some 20 degree days.

Throw-in, I got a cold which left me dragging my body from one day to the next.

Now, I am starting to shake off the effects of the cold and my legs are feeling much better. My hamstring continues to improve. I think because I have living on the hamstring curl machine. With each curl I only allow good thoughts to enter my mind as I flex my right hamstring on the machine. Give me a few more months; my hope is it will be close to normal.

If I am writing about being normal again, then it must be time to think about some fall marathon training. Currently, 11 extremely long and painful minutes separate me from Mr. Beigay. Somehow, I need to weave some magic and see what I can do about closing the gap. I tell you know lie. He was so far in ahead of me at Disney that he was in getting a post race massage before I finished.

However, only time will tell. And after all, 40 something bodies are not expected to run as fast as 30 something bodies. But I have plan………..


 

Sharing one thought at time,


 

The Cool Down Runner


 


 

Monday, January 23, 2012

Elitist reputation

Really smart people find ways to steer a course around controversy while others chart a course straight through horrific weather. All the while, knowing they have the fortitude to withstand the storm. One can only hope that "fair winds" lay ahead.

Delving into this subject is a sure sign that I will probably end up in some rough waters. But I cannot help myself; when I pushed the published button, my ship set sail.

More than a few times, the phrase "Charlotte Running Club" and "Elitist" have shared the same sentence. Honestly, I don't get it.

When they say it together, they make it come across as if it were a "bad thing" or something.

Is it so wrong to be successful? Is wrong for people to want to train hard and race hard? Then, do well in race? Personally, I don't feel like I am elite. Yet, I have had people say it to me. Let's be clear; I lace my running shoes pretty much the way as everyone else. I get tired. I have bad days and a few good days. I probably eat more bad foods than good foods. I love candy and chocolate chip cookies and a good Dr. Pepper when I can get one. I have a job. I have stress and yes, I have kids that I hope will grow into something better than me.

But what constitutes being elite. Is it being faster than someone else? So being faster means elite? Or is it running further than someone else? Does this mean elite?

Then why do people join a running club?

In my mind there are two reasons for joining a running club. I want to be around people who share a similar passion. Who will then help me enjoy the good days and help me through the bad days. But first and foremost, by joining a running club this likely means that I want to do more running. This then results in me running harder and further because in the running club I probably going to do more running with a group. This builds into me racing faster. Thus, the exact group that I once labeled as "elite" has helped me do something I never thought possible.

Best of all, they welcomed me in and shared their advice and their experiences. And as I start to close this post, the thought occurred to me. More often than not, I have heard people say "I don't want to run with him or her because they are too fast". But looking at it from the other shoe – I have never heard some say "I don't want to run with him or her because they are too slow". Usually, it is just "let's go run" which is what we want to do anyway.

So push the "pause" button the "elite" stuff and just enjoy the running. We will all be better for it.


 

Sharing one thought at time,


 

The Cool Down Runner

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Extended CRC Board Meeting 1-21-2012

Yesterday was my 2nd official board meeting and first of the extended board meetings. We spent 5 hours meeting at Mike's company's offices going through a multitude of agenda items. Aaron as president took the lead in getting our agenda put together while Nicole and Emily covered the snacks.

I have been on a number of boards through the years but so far the Charlotte Running Club has more initiatives being put in flight both inside the club and outside the club than any of the other clubs that I have been a member.

Letting thought wonder around for a moment, it is hard for me to say if this is good or bad because really there is no right or wrong answer here. The members of the club elected the board members because they felt these people were the best people to do job and represent the club in a positive matter. Thus, the values of the board should pretty much represent the values of our club.

Yesterday's meeting covered a gambit of items: dates for the board meetings, volunteering at races and in the community, how to make the news letter better, how to promote the club group runs, so on and so forth.

Maybe the best exercise that we went through was exploring the club's strengths and weakness. A little introspection is always good and there were a number of items in both lists. What I like best was that we took the weakness and made those weaknesses 1, 3, or 5 year goals for the club achieve. The idea of taking weaknesses and turning them in to strengths is not new but watching the process work its way from beginning to end can be a great exercise. Watching how people turn over ideas and twist thoughts to create something new is exciting to watch.

The other facet to the board is the diversity of the group. There are mothers and fathers. There are single people. There are "un" hurried people. There are people that ran in the Olympic Trials. There are people from different generations.

What's great about this is that they bring their own perspective in to the meeting. Often they share ideas that might not have ever crossed the mind of another member. Although, stating one's opinion is not always easy and sometimes the desire to share an idea can be tempered to the point of being a little intimidating. However, CRC board as a whole does seem to do a good job of reaching out and encouraging each and every individual board member to participate.

The reality of our club is that we will only be as effective as our members are willing to be involved. Being active member is more than just reading the news letter. Members need to support the group runs, come out races, volunteer at races etc. This is not say that they have to be at every single social, group run, or club event. Would it be great? Yes. But the reality is that we all have lives and families beyond running and they come first.

But if our members strive to reach out a couple of times per month, across 500+ members, we can have one of the most active clubs in the entire area.


 

Share one thought at time,


 

The Cool Down Runner


 

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Masters Runners - busted

Imagine my surprise yesterday evening, another article about a runner being busted for having performance enhancing substances in their system.

This time I was flipping through the pages of my just arrived edition of the Running Times magazine and saw the article on Masters Runners and performance enhancing substances.

A 68 year old woman was tested and found to have banned a substance in her system. Additional, the article also pointed out a few other examples where 40+ runners were caught with substances that shouldn't have been in their systems.

As I read the article I found it really hard to convict these people of the crime that they were being accused. Based on my understanding the banned substances were either suggested by their doctor or they were prescribed for medical reasons. In one case, the runner didn't even know that the banned substance was in the medicine that he was taking.

Being in the 40+ group myself makes empathizing with these people far easier. We all want to lead as healthy life style as possible. Therefore when a doctor tells us that we need a certain medicine, I for one would tend to believe him.

However, we cannot let them totally off the hook. Competing in USAT&F events, we are expected to know the rules going in to the events so when our family doctor prescribes a medicine, we need to ask questions. This is the only way to make informed decisions.

Additionally, the USA T&F provides for exception to certain drugs based off medical reasons. Again based off my reading of the article none of these people filed for this exception.

All I can say is - word to the wise, when seeing your family doctor and being prescribed a drug, ask questions. This is especially true if there's a USAT&F event on the horizon and you even remotely expect to participate in the event. Sometime asking permission is better than asking for forgiveness.


 

Sharing one thought at time,

The Cool Down Runner


 


 

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Busted

This morning an article came across my desktop about Martin Fagan being caught for taking performance enhancing substances.

Reading through the article made me suddenly flash back to a conversation between my daughter and myself this past weekend.

She asked if I had ever taken performance enhancing substances. Where she was getting her information or what prompted her questions, I don't know. Prying into the origin of her questions might have ended the conversation right there so I focused on answering her questions by being open and honest.

Explaining to a teenager that taking these substances will make you bigger, stronger, and faster is also wrong. It is also very hard. They don't see the world as an adult sees it. Being healthy, strong, and invincible is something they think will last forever. They see the world only for today and tomorrow is well tomorrow.

My hope is that my daughter will follow my lead and never consider taking them. The risk vs. reward is not worth it but is only part of the overall picture. After one starts down the slippery slope of taking those substances, then one has to live with one's self knowing that their performances were not all their own. Personally, living with not winning is better than winning and knowing that I cheated to do it.


 

Sharing one thought at time,


 

The Cool Down Runner

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

What to blog about?

I had this really good topic that I wanted to blog about but then decided against it because of the number of people that it might offend or just the number of people that were involved in the original conversation might not like me sharing those conversations.

So for the first time in a while, I am left without too much to say.

The legs are slowly bouncing back from Disney. The miles are easy and the downtime is really good. No pressure to run long or run hard. No events on the horizon

How long has it been since I have been in this mode. Thinking back, the last time was probably 2009.

Before I started all this marathon stuff, my season usually ended in November and I would not race again until March of the next year. I spend the holiday season just letting the legs churn through the easy miles and the use the cold January and February mornings to harden the mind, heart, and legs again.

This is something that I really need to get back to doing. Living the south lends itself too easily to year around racing. And if left to my own accord, I would be racing every weekend and twice on Saturday whenever possible.

That's why tomorrow morning; I will be churning through the cold air and just putting one front in front of another. Isn't that what running is all about anyway?


 

Sharing one thought at time,

The Cool Down Runner


 

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Say it isn’t so? My relay partner

Disney added a new event this year to the marathon weekend called the Chip and Dale relay. A team of two people – one runs the ½ of the Disney marathon – running though Epcot and Magic Kingdom. Then just outside the Magic Kingdom, the first runner tags off to the 2nd runner who runs through Animal Kingdom, Hollywood Studios, and Epcot. They finish just outside Epcot.

Or at least this is how it is supposedly should work.

On the bus ride back to my hotel after the race another runner shared her story about when the plan doesn't always worked as it should.

As the story goes, she and her teammate had agreed to do the relay. She was to run the first half while her teammate was to run the 2nd half. Everything was going to plan, she took off hard. She ran faster than expected through Epcot. She charged through Magic Kingdom and then headed for the relay point ready to handoff to her teammate.

Here's where the nightmare occurred. No it wasn't that she couldn't find her teammate, because she did.

But at the relay point, her teammate told her she could go. She injured herself. The common sense thing to do was drop out. After all, she was completely spent from dropping a fast ½ marathon time, but no, she asked for her teammate's bib. She exchanged it for her own and promptly took off to run the 2nd half of the marathon.

She ended up 9th overall female even with the time lost in the exchange.

However, do to the fact the she was in the relay category and not the marathon cartegory, she got no recognition for it, medal, or age group award for running the full marathon. All she got was a hard day's work and maybe a little personal satisfaction.

As I listened to her story, I could hardly believe it. I cannot imagine running the first half of marathon leaving everything on the table only to find out that I had another 13.1 miles to run.

Bad situations occur when we least expect them. We can either let them conquer us or we can go about conquering them. In the case, she gets my "kudos" award for being the ultimate team player

By the way, this is really a true story. In the Disney results, their team is called the Disney fanatics and they actually won the all female division. Look up the bib numbers on brightroom.com 70017 and 70018. The pictures are of the same woman coming out of the Magic Kingdom and at the finish.


 

Sharing one thought at time,


 

The Cool Down Runner


 


 

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Disney Marathon recovery

After any marathon the body and the mind switch from working hard to being ready for a recovery period. I am not exception. After Disney, my runs were limited to 2 miles Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. Thursday, Friday, and today, my runs were 4, 6, and 8. All miles were logged at whatever felt comfortable to my legs.

This is not my normal post marathon recovery. Typically, I will run 6 the day after and jump to 7 miles until the next weekend. I push the miles back up in the teens and pretty much return to normal weekly miles thereafter.

So did this change in recovery strategy work better for me?

In some ways, yes, the recovery did feel much better. Only running a couple miles before calling it a day was really nice. But it was more difficult to judge my recovery because I exchanged running for walking a ton of miles.

After running the marathon Sunday, my daughters and I headed for downtown Disney for some shopping and covered pretty much everything. Monday, we hit 3 different parks. We opened up Hollywood Studios, transitioned to Animal Kingdom during the afternoon, and finished of the evening by closing down the Magic Kingdom. Tuesday, we opened Magic Kingdom and closed down Epcot. Mike posted that he walked about 7+ miles per day. That's a lot of miles.

How many did I walk? I have no idea. I choose not to track them because seeing the actually number might cause me to have a heart attack. All I know is that the end of the day setting down and propping up my feet feels really good.


 

Sharing one thought at time,

The Cool Down Runner

Friday, January 13, 2012

Disney Marathon Recap 1/8/2012

Disney is a place where "Dreams come true". Certainly on Sunday morning my dreams came true as I made my way from park to park during the Disney Marathon.

Going into Disney, my expectations were quite low. Having finished OBX running basically on one leg didn't exactly inspire confidence for the future. Then, Holiday ½ stepped on the last of my confidence. Add in, most of my runs were at a dismally slow pace and only doing a couple of long runs, Disney was looking whole lot like a hard uphill climb. Think tougher than The Bear hard.

Saturday afternoon, we arrived at the expo at ESPN's Wide World of Sports for my packet pick-up. The parking lot was full so we had to circle for about 10 to 15 minutes before finding a parking spot. Then, we followed the flow of signs and people directing as we made our from building to building and through the expo. All toll, we were probably at the expo for 2 ½ hours. I could have spent even more time looking at the stuff, but my legs were starting to feel dead. I didn't want to make push them too much.

The hotel was having a 10 oz. penne pasta dinner offering so I took them up on it. This was about 4pm. The dinner didn't leave me feeling full, but strangely, I wasn't hungry either.

The Disney marathon starts at 5:30 AM so rise and shine time was going to be 3 AM. I tried hitting the bed about 8pm but could not get to sleep. The hours were crawling by first 9, then 10, 11, 1, and 2. I would drift off to sleep and then wake up.

Finally, the clock clicked over to 3 and I was up. I felt like I hadn't slept at all. May be it was excitement or may be just being scared of going into a race so under prepared. I don't know which one it was.

My plan heading into the weekend was to drive from the hotel over to Epcot for the start but at the last minute, I changed my mind and took the bus. I figured worst case; Disney would have the buses running even if the runners couldn't get their cars out of the parking lot after the race.

My bus was warm and I didn't really want to get off when we pulled into the Epcot parking lot. There we joined the other runners making their way to the runner waiting area. I txted Mike and he was taking the bus over as well.

We met up in the parking area and chatted for a minutes. Soon it was time to drop off our bags, make a last minute pit stop, and then head for the starting line. Disney must hoard all of the porta-jons in Orlando for the weekend.

Disney is all about walking and distraction. We have to walk probably a half mile to the runner's waiting area from the buses. From the runner's waiting area, there is a good 20 minute walk to the start line.

There was barely enough light to see and I even stumbled over a cone in the middle of the road. Runners were walking ever so slowly as we were all packed together. Mike was anxious to get to the starting line. I could tell. He kept dropping my along the way. Finally, he let me know that he was going to run ahead.

Both Mike and I scored "Elite" starting corral bibs so we had the longest walk – all the way to the front of the field.

There was more space than runners in the elite corral so I started doing my dynamic stretching exercises and eyed the other runners in the corral.

First off were the wheel chair athletes and two minutes later we were off. Mickey Mouse counted us down.

During the first mile, Mike was running just ahead of me but then slowly he disappeared into the darkness. This mile was really hard for me. My legs felt stiff and tight. They simply did not want to turn over.

When we hit the first mile, I realized that I missed something. My Garmin hadn't been set with the alert to light up so while I knew I hit the mile point, I had no idea what the pace was. Fortunately, Disney had ample clocks along the course.

Miles two, three, four, five passed by. Coming to the Epcot toll booths a recorded voice warned us of a road hump ahead. In my opinion it was more like a line in the road then a hump. The ones over by the Magic Kingdom were worse because they were hidden by the nighttime shadows and only when I stumble over them did I realize what it was. Yes, some of the roads around the Magic Kingdom are dark at 6AM.

This was when I took notice of one of the female elite runners. I heard someone yell that she was the fifth place runner. We were back and forth until we entered the Magic Kingdom. She dropped off the pace or maybe I was just better at handling the slick surface. They wash down the surface in the Magic Kingdom each night so my racing flats tend to slip on the surface.

After Magic Kingdom and the 10 mile point, I didn't think that I could run any harder, but I actually didn't feel too bad.

Miles 11, 12, and 13 passed by and the sun began to give us some light. For the first time, I could see a line of runners at head of me. They were strung out in a single file line.

This is the point where I caught up to another the 4th place female runner. She was running with another guy and I can only assume they were together since they had similar singlets.

We were all running about the same pace so I attempted to make a little conversation. May we could work together and pick off some of the guys ahead of us. I am not sure why but they spurn all of my attempts, so when we headed into Animal Kingdom, I decide to go it alone.

My strategy was simple. Run hard, and catch the guy in front of me. Recovery until I felt good. Pass and repeat the process.

Coming out of Animal Kingdom it was working like a charm. Until, these guys started passing me. I mean, they just blew right by me. My first thought, I was crashing, but at the next mile, no I was right on pace. Actually, I was a little ahead.

The next time, I got passed; I took the time to look over. These guys were running the relay so no wonder they were flying by me.

I knew when we got near the ESPN Wide World of Sports section; we had a little out and back to do. Turning on to this section, I kept an eye out for Mike. No luck, Mike had cleared this section. I thought he must be having a great race.

My legs didn't feel like they could go any faster, but they were not slowing down. Each mile passed by and I seemed to be holding the same pace.

We took a right and headed for Hollywood Studio Park. There was a small hill where they had this green army soldier outfit (think toy solder green) standing and yelling charge this hill. I took him at his order and passed two guys going up it.

We made the turn and entered Hollywood Studios. We ran down the back street next to Toy Story Mania. We ran around by where the stunt show is put on. We ran though the NY city lights. We ran over and down Main Street.

This is where something strange happened. I pass this guy and he passes me back. Okay, we can both play that game. I pass him again with more authority this time. This is where it gets a little hazy. I am front of him and said something really "smart" to me and then starts clipping the backs of my shoes.

Early in a crowded race, I would take something like this in stride. Those things happen. 24 miles into a marathon with two guys on an open road, I am not in the mood. I look back and say "not again". I guess he got a message because he dropped a way. There's a video of us running through Hollywood Studio Main Street available on BrightRoom.

Mile 25 was along the Disney Board Walk and the final mile was around the world in Epcot. I was never so happy to see that great big ball in my life. A quick glance at my watch told me that I was going to be well under my 3 hour goal.

My splits were:

33:17 for 5 miles

66:15 for 10 miles

1:26:56 for ½ marathon

2:12:22 for 20 miles

2:53:26 for 26.2 miles

My Garmin measured that course at 26.6 miles which doesn't surprise me. I am usually pretty good at running tangents, but the Disney marathon has a gazillion turns. I am sure more than one wasn't run along the shortest path.

At the finish, I wanted the moment to last forever. I had run faster than I had expected on nearly no marathon training. My time was 4 minutes faster than OBX and I felt a whole lot better.

But I did move on and found by Mike and Michael C. in the drop bag area. We talked for a few minutes before heading off in our own directions. Me, I had places to go and miles to walk the rest of the day.

What Disney did give me was a feeling that the future looks promising once I get this leg (hamstring in particular) back to full strength.


 

Sharing one thought at a time,

The Cool Down Runner


 


 


 


 

Friday, January 6, 2012

Trigger Point Roller

Before heading to Disney this evening and taking a few days off from blogging there was one more post that I wanted to get out. This one is on the trigger point roller.

A couple years ago when I had a case of ITB, the foam roller came to my attention. The foam roller allowed me to isolate and work my ITB which I believe helped with my recovery. Long after my ITB returned to normal, I continued using it regularly for my quads, hamstrings, calves, and gluts.

I felt like the foam roller really helped. But, with everything these days, there always seems to be a "but". My one beef with the foam roller is that over time the foam softens and contracts. Contracting to the point, a new foam roller needs to be purchased if one wants to work the muscles with the same intensity. The rate at which it reaches this point all depends on the daily usage. For me, a new foam roller became a necessity over 8-10 months. After a while, I began to wonder what other options were on the market and that's when I came across the Trigger point rollers.

They are made a little differently. The Trigger Point rollers have a hard plastic ring at the center and are surrounded by a padding that allows me to work the muscles with different degrees of intensity. I have been using my Trigger Point roller for the last month and I am very happy with the changeover.

Pricewise, the form rollers run between $8 and $31 depending on their length. Trigger point rollers come in one size about 13 inches. Only two colors seem to be predominating: black and orange all while running about $33 dollars each. Each roller comes with a 1 year warranty which is longer than the typical foam roller last for me.

My suggestion is once your foam roller wears down consider moving over to the Trigger Point roller. I am convinced; it is worth it.


 

Sharing one thought at a time,


 

The Cool Down Runner

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Post Disney Marathon Training

With Disney being the first week of January, my training is almost a continuation of the training at the end of 2011.

Only when the Disney is complete, will I start looking at 2012. However, I am not going to immediately jump into another training cycle. After Disney, there will be roughly 3 weeks left in January so for those three weeks; my plan is to have no plan. Each day will be what it is. If I feel like running longer, I will run longer. If my legs are tired, I might just run a mile. Why? Well, for the last few years, I have just stacked one hard training period after another. The transition went from hard running to hard cycling and then back to hard running. Partly, I attribute this to my hamstring injury last fall.

There is an old tire commercial which talks about riding on "borrowed time" once the tires wear down to the threads. In some way, my body has worn down to the threads. May be the time has come to let my body renew itself.

My hope is that 3 weeks will do it, but we will see.


 

Thoughts from the Cool Down Runner


 

The Cool Down Runner

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Dressing for cold weather

Someone once told me that dressing for a warm summer day is easy. All you need to do is wear as little as possible and hope you don't get arrested for indecent exposure. The same cannot be said for running in the winter time. During those cold frigid mornings, the only exposed part of my running body will most likely be my eyeballs. Everything else will have at least one layer and some parts will be covered in multiple layers.

Many years ago, a friend of mine looked into my closet and asked why I had all this ski clothing when I didn't ski. I replied "I am a runner and runners learn very quickly how to stay warm during the winter time".

This is why I keeping coming back to this topic year after year when the weather really starts to turn cold. Dressing correctly can make the difference between a good run and a chilly experience. And, I do mean CHILLY experience.

Every runner is a little different in how they handle the cold temperatures.

Me for example, if my hands are cold, I am ready for the run to end quickly. This is true even if I am only 30 to 45 minutes into a run.

Usually down to 30 degrees, I will go with hat, shorts, light jacket, and light gloves. If the wind is blowing, I might opt for a wind vest and maybe a little heavier pair of gloves. The wind more than the cold can cut right through any clothing and chill the body at its core.

The core body and the legs are usually the warmest because this is where most of the work is being done and most of the blood is flowing.

Once the temperatures hit the 20s, I like add in tights and may be a little heavier jacket but one that I can unzip. If I am running into the wind, I'll have it zipped up to my neck. When the wind blows at my back, I'll unzip it to let the excess heat escape. I wear the tights because old and tired muscles are more easily pulled when the mercury heads south. Another way to think of it is; having warm and toasty legs can be the ounce of prevention against a serious injury.

Below 20, I convert over to mittens instead of gloves and possibly tights made of a slightly thicker material. Having the fingers together creates more warmth than having them separated into individual fingered sleeves. I might even cover up most of my face if the weather is really bad. I have even been known to grow a beard.

If temperatures are cold enough, I will even put those hunting heat packets into my gloves. I always keep a few handy.

As far as my feet are concerned, pretty much I just wear my usual running socks. Like my legs, my feet just never seem to get cold.

With the thermometer hovering around 18 degrees this morning, developing a cold weather dressing strategy needs to start now.


 


 

Sharing one thought at a time,

The Cool Down Runner


 

 

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Rain Gear

With every week this fall there seems to be at least a few days of rain that I have to suffer through. This got me thinking about rain gear. This fall I picked up a Brooks Silver Bullet Jacket which is supposedly rain and wind resistant. These jackets run about $150 dollars each.

I have used it for several of my runs and "yes" up to a point it works. On windy days the jacket definitely keeps the wind out. Rainy days the jacket does up to a point. On one particular day, I was out for about 2 and ½ hours and between the rain and my body heating up, I was soaked on the inside of the jacket.

Thus, I am pleased with the Brooks Jacket and its ability to repel rain for shorter runs, but I wondered if there were other rain repellant jackets on the market.

A little browsing occurred and I came across four other jackets. Well, actually, there were five jackets. Most everyone knows of the Gore-Tex jackets. Gore-Tex is a membrane that has nine billion microscopic pores per square inch. Each pore is 20,000 times smaller than a molecule of water. But the pores are 700 times larger than the water vapor dissipating from our bodies.

Gort-Tex is pretty good and pretty pricey. That is until I looked at other comparable products.

Columbia "Flyin' Dry" has its own technology for keeping runners dry and comes with a price tag of $250 dollars. There is the Rab "Streatch Neo Shell" which will probably keep you dry in a rain storm. The price is "wait for it" - $365 dollars. Next up is the Mountain Hardwear "Dry Q Elite Quasar Pullover". This is jacket is one of the lightest that I could find on the market. This could have something do with the fact that a runner's wallet has some $375 dollars removed from it. Honestly, who knew that staying dry and comfortable comes with such a hefty price tag. My last example is the the Mammut "Flesturm Half Zip" jacket which uses some of the Gore-Text technology. This jacket can be yours for an eye popping $390 dollars.

To think, initially my Brooks Jacket at $150 dollars was thought to be expensive. When I actually looked around, I realized resistance to water is very expensive. Maybe I will just limit my rainy days runs to an hour and keep the other 250 in my pocket.


 

Sharing one thought at a time,


 

The Cool Down Runner

Monday, January 2, 2012

Disney Marathon is this weekend

2011 wasn't a banner marathon year for me. I started strong early on at Boston but faded late in the race with a cramping hamstring. For the Hatfield and McCoy Marathon, I did a few long runs, tempo runs, and intervals. Thus I thought I could proclaim that I was ready. And maybe I was for everything except the sweltering heat of race morning. Then, I moved to OBX where I literally ran 26.2 miles on one leg while dragging the other leg behind.

Let's just say confidence is not high going into the Disney.

Since OBX, I have done one race which was a disaster and one tempo effort if you could call it a tempo effort. Otherwise, I have just logged miles and waited on my body to come right and feel like running again.

This brings me to this coming Sunday morning. I'll be lacing up my flats and taking the tour of the Disney properties by foot. First, I'll run through the Magic Kingdom. Then, I will make my way through Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios. Finally, I will finish with a circuit of the world at Epcot. And to think, they don't require me to have a park hopper for it.

What kind of time do I expect? Truthfully, I don't know. Even my easy runs leave me feeling like I am dragging and my hamstring has only recovered about 40% of the strength that it had prior to my injury.

Definitely, I will be taking a conservative approach to the race and will not be chasing hard after Mike.

If I hit the ½ way point in 1:30, I will be very pleased. Then, my focus will become to run 1:29:59 for the 2nd half. Then, I could walk away feeling much better about where my training is going.

Time waits for no man and I have my date with the roads of Disney Sunday morning 5:30 AM.


 

Sharing one thought at a time,


 

The Cool Down Runner


 


 

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Treadmills, heart rate, and more

Last month, one of my post described my time spent running on a tread mill during a rainy day here in Charlotte. Not sure if this triggered this chain of events but I like to think so. Anyway, Eddie Pennebaker emailed me on Facebook. For those not familiar with Eddie, he builds and sells Eddie's Rollers. I did a write up a while back on his rollers. I have one and use it regularly. In case anyone is interested, here's Eddie's email address.

Back to his email, Eddie described that his 7:30 pace running on the treadmill felt much faster than the 7:30 pace he achieved during his outdoor runs and he ask if I experienced the same feeling. He also asked if my heart rate was higher while running on the tread mill.

So we exchanged a few emails where I described my thoughts on the subject. But after thinking about it more, I thought Eddie question was a question that might interest more people. Thus, I am taking the content from our emails and turning it into a post to start the New Year. With colder weather just around the corner, more than a few of us will head for those indoor flat sweat boxes called tread mills.

I'll break Eddie's question into two parts. The first part will address the question on the pace feeling faster on the tread mill and the second part will address the part about having a higher heart rate.

Does the pace on a tread mill feel faster? My answer to this question is always "yes, it does" for a few reasons. First, when I jump on a tread mill, I know what pace that I want to maintain so I crank down the settings to that pace. Basically, I am going cold turkey to hard running and I have not let my body warm up to this pace. Thus, my first few miles will always feel a little like I am sprinting and I cannot get enough air into my lungs. Usually, after a few miles, the effort starts to even out as my body catches up. But then comes the question, I don't feel that way when I run out side. Why is that? Well, whether I realize it or not, my earlier miles are probably slower than I think, but after my body warms up I tend to run a little faster so the average is somewhere in the middle. There are other factors such as wind and hills that can play havoc with running out doors. A tail wind can certainly push one along while indoors running in place there is no wind.

Now, there is another reason that has less to do with me and more to do with the tread mill. Unless, you have a tread mill at home, you will probably go some place like the "Y" to use one. Tread mills depending their maintenance cycle can lose their accuracy. Meaning 7:30 pace might actually be 7 minute pace. There is an unscientific way to check it. Set the tread mill on 8 minute pace when watch the distance and the time. If it takes 2 minutes to do a quarter mile then the tread mill is decently accurate. If it takes less or more time to do a quarter mile, then you know the tread mill is off. This can be applied to other paces and distances but 8 minute pace and 2 minute laps make the math pretty easy. And, if you find that it is off, then you have to adjust the pace accordingly to your needs.

To address the second part of Eddie's question is my heart rate higher while running on a tread mill? Here I am assuming that as a runner we would be trying to run equivalent paces indoors vs. outdoors. Also I know that there are a number of factors that can affect my heart rate, but the time of year seems to be the most prominent one. Setting aside a runner's current physical condition, heat will play the biggest factor one's heart rate. During my tread mill run a few weeks ago, my heart rate was clearly higher than it is normally outside. Why? Well, the ambient outside temperature in Charlotte averages from the 30s to 50s this time of year. And, my body gets accustom to running in those temperature ranges. But let me take my running indoors where the temperature is 72 or higher and suddenly I am trying to adjust to heat wave. My body will compensate by raising my heart rate, flushing more blood to the skin, and my perspiration rate will go into overdrive. This is pretty much what happened during my recent tread mill run. My running shirt was dripping wet by the end of my 12 mile run. Aside from doing a few more runs in doors there is not much you can do about it. Run slower is an option, but then who wants to run slower on a tread mill. I usually want to finish it as quickly as possible.

The one question that I couldn't address is what happens during the summer months. After weeks and weeks of running in the 90s, I suspect that 72 degrees in doors on the tread mill would feel great and my heart rate would be much lower.

Just some additional food for thought as you enter the New Year.


 

Sharing one thought at time,


 

The Cool Down Runner