Thursday, January 31, 2013

Toughening up the workouts

With just over 6 weeks from my marathon race, I am in the heart of my training. This week and next week may be some of the toughest weeks in this training cycle.

My week started off with a 5 mile tempo early Monday morning. I did a two mile warm up and then headed right into the tempo run. The first mile was 6:05, and the 2nd and 3rd miles were run at 6:00 minutes. Mile 4 was covered 5:52 and mile 5 was covered in 5:47. Talk about tough. I was whipped when I finished. Somehow the last three miles of cool down did seem much easier.

This was followed by another early more run with Megan on Wednesday. We ran about 6 miles before starting a session of very long intervals. The interval lasted 20 minutes. This was followed by a short recovery and then we cranked the pace up again for 10 minutes. We took another short recovery before finishing it off with 5 minutes really hard. This work out was done as part of a 16 mile run. I definitely felt the burn from it.

Tomorrow, mile repeats will be on the to-do list. This weekend, I will hit a 24 mile long run. Next week, I will be back on the intervals with some 800s and then finish off the week with the Cupids Cup 5k.

The following week I will for the most part let my legs rest and recover. They will need it because I will be enjoying scenery around Myrtle Beach while running the ½ marathon. My goals are not set for the ½ as yet. My legs have been slow to recover and I know it's from running too many miles and from running them probably too hard. If I can somehow get myself to give 85% to 90% on race day, I will certainly be happy. I never ask my body to give a 100% until marathon day.

I hope everyone else's training and races are going well. If you are out the next couple of weeks, look me up.


Sharing one thought at time,

The Cool Down Runner

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Winter Classic 8k – my perspective

On Saturday afternoon, our Charlotte Running Club put on their 2nd club race the Winter Classic 8k. My first year, I had been on the race committee only a few weeks and then came out to help on race day. Much of the logistics for the race fell on to Aaron's shoulders. 2013 came and with my new role as President of the club came a larger role in the race logistics and the race directing.

This was not an unwelcome challenge. Over the last few years, directing a race has been something that I become more interested in trying out. Stepping across the line from running a race to directing a race has opened my eyes to a whole new world and the challenges coming from it.

This is why I took special pride in this race. I wanted our Winter Classic 8k to be a success and it was. Although, I am not going to set here and say that all of our success from this race fell squarely on my shoulders, because it did not. Our club has a great group of people that contributed to our success. Our current board members Mike B, Ben, Stephanie, Jon, Billy, Aaron, Rob, Caitlin, and Jaime played a major role. Jamaar who was on the board last year contributed many hours before and on race day to our success. Then, there is Mike K. who isn't even on the board. He spent countless hours making contacts with sponsors and developing much of the artwork for our race. Across the board these are the leaders that made this race such a success in just its second year. I would also like to thank the numerous volunteers who came out and helped support our race on Saturday afternoon. Without their willingness to give back, no amount of success would have been possible.

One aspect of this race that I am most proud is our partnership with Running Works. Meredith, Justin, and Pat head up the Running Works organization and, it has been pleasure working with them and working with the "Neighbors". I have personally run with them from the Urban Ministries and it is an awesome experience. More people should make the time to run with them and stay for the post run discussion group.

My hope is the donation from our race will them continue their efforts long into the future.

For the rest of this post, I thought I would share some of the special moments that I remember from the race.

  • Mike rolling in that morning with a trailer loaded down with tables and chairs.
  • Seeing Jamaar and Ben assembling the finish line area.
  • Watching the numerous volunteers work the registration tables.
  • Hearing the music from Kiss 95.1 playing in the background and seeing the runners coming across the bridge.
  • Being there when the Running Works van rolled up and seeing the excited looks on their faces as they registered for the race.
  • Having the Pizza call me several times so I could sign the $490 receipt for 80 pizzas. This is the most pizzas that I have ever ordered
  • Making the rounds of meeting and thanking all of our sponsors that came out on race day.
  • Watching the Fun Run go off and seeing the kid's make their way around the lake and to the finish line.
  • Seeing the kid's get their Extreme Ice hockey puck and medal for running
  • Then, watching the 8k runners take to the paths of the McAlpine Greenway.
  • Watching the guys from Ashville dressed in their orange singlets and run some fast times.
  • Handing out water to all of the runners as they crossed the finish line.
  • Hearing the Running Works "neighbors" tell their stories after crossing the finish line in their first 8k.
  • Handing out the RRCA Awards and then the Winter Classic 8k awards. Congratulating each one of the winners for an exceptional run.
  • Big thanks to Peter from Vac & Dash and our RRCA State Rep for making the RRCA awards happen.
  • Once the dust had settled and the runners had left, we were breaking everything down and packing up.


At the end of the hard busy day when all of the work has been completed, the time has finally come to step back and enjoy the moment. You know you did a good job.

Lastly, every race is composed of three groups: the runners, the volunteers, and the sponsors. With the cost of races going up, our Winter Classic 8k was made possible because we have a great supporting group of sponsors.

To them, I send my personal "Thank You".

They were:

  • TrySports
  • Inside Out Sports
  • Extreme Ice presenting sponsor for the fun run
  • CSC
  • Omega Sports
  • Vac & Dash
  • State Farm
  • Road Runners Club of America
  • Great Harvest
  • Yelp
  • Earth Fare
  • Fly Wheel
  • Austin Photography
  • Dilworth Grille
  • Hickory Tavern
  • Sonny's BBQ
  • Mellow Mushroom
  • Carolina Sports Massage
  • YWCA 3 month membership
  • Fox-n-Hound
  • Sun & Ski Ballantyne
  • Panera Bread
  • Hooters
  • Columbia Marathon
  • Kings Mt. Marathon

Monday, January 28, 2013

Old Man Winter does me a favor

In a couple of my recent posts, I talked about doing some fast finishes on my 20 mile long runs. Each of those runs, I felt good going out but then, struggled against the wind coming home. Yesterday, I was not planning to do a fast finish. I just wanted a solid 20 miles under my belt and move on to the next day.

Going out the door, the first thing that I noticed was the wind hitting my face. My first thought was "Oh, great, the very day I choose to not run hard; I get a tail wind on the return trip". Thus, as you might imagine the first 10 miles was not nearly as easy as previous runs.

Turning around, the sun warmed me up and the tail wind pushed me along.

I found myself holding back. The last few miles were all decent splits and I found myself bouncing up the hills. I finished feeling strong.

I do appreciate the favor "Old Man Winter" did for me. Running 20 miles is never easy but on a scale one to ten, this one was easier than most of them.


Sharing one thought at time,

The Cool Down Runner

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The last few days

Across work, getting my hands around the CRC stuff, the Winter Classic 8k tasks, and running there is little time left for anything else. So if you are looking for an explanation as to why I have not been posting, this is it.

Okay, to recap the last few days, Saturday, I headed out for a 20 miler with the last 10 to be a fast finish effort. The first 10 were covered in 71 minutes. Then, I turned around and headed home. The wind along 115 and then 21 just didn't cut me any slack. Add to it, I wasn't feeling the greatest. Finally, by mile 18, I just shut off the effort and let myself cruise in the last 2 miles. The overall time was 2:22 with a 71 second half. I was disappointed in the effort. I thought I would do better. I really cannot explain my "lacking" of energy. This was just one of those days where I didn't have it.

Fast forward to this Tuesday morning, my workout was 10 x 2 minutes. The first couple of intervals, I felt like I was struggling. I couldn't seem to find my timing. Then, slowing I started to feel things out. The middle intervals were much better, and I finished feeling like I had a few more internals in the tank.

I didn't check the overall time for the run until the finish. I was surprised to see that I had covered 10 miles in 71 minutes and didn't even feel like I had done a work out.

This the strangest part of running. One day, I can feel like I am dragging my body through the toughest of conditions. Then, the very next day, I can go out and feel light on my feet. I am bouncing along with not a hint of stress in the world.

Man, I wish I could figure out the secret, bottle it, and use it every time that I needed it.

Early this morning, Mrs. Hovis and I were out cruising 16 miles and we averaged 7:23. By far, this was the fastest workout that we have run in months.

Like I said, I cannot explain it. I am just here to enjoy it.


Sharing one thought at time,

The Cool Down Runner


Thursday, January 17, 2013

Rainy runs = mental toughness

The weatherman predicted a cold, wet, rainy day and I wasn't disappointed. Today, the rain would have soaked through my running clothes no matter how many layers that I had worn. The rain weighed down even the lightest of running shoes. The wind pushed me along on the way but stood me up on the way back. The spray from the passing cars covered my face and body. Along with it, I gained about an inch of road grime. This is the kind of day that makes even the treadmill look all the more inviting.

Nay, did I really saw the word "treadmill".

Not for me, I went out the door and took my cold soaking beating from the wind and rain. I know I am better for it. Those that didn't run will have one less day of training under their belt. But they will also be missing the determination that comes running through some ugly conditions.

Mental toughness is an intangible asset. It is the swelling well of force that drives us forward even when the odds are stacked against us. Physical ability will only carry you so far. Mental toughness picks up where physical ability leaves off and carries us the rest of the way.

If you have not run today in the rain, give it a try.


Sharing one thought at time,

The Cool Down Runner

Tempo Run – interesting last mile

Normally, my tempos follow a particular pattern. The early miles feel hard. I start to settle into the effort during the middle miles. Then, I either finish feeling good or just finish.

On Tuesday, I didn't feel that I was having a particular good day. For a reason, I cannot explain; I just didn't feel like my normal self.

My breathing felt more labored than usual. I churned through the early miles, but I never really felt like I was settling into it.

Finally, I hit 7 miles of my 8 mile tempo and I just let up. At first, I was just going to run it on in to the finish. However, after about 10 seconds, I thought "let's just relax and push it little". Getting a little more in when I didn't feel like it couldn't hurt could it. My legs suddenly felt relaxed, and my breathing settled down. My gait finally felt nice and smooth.

This last mile just seemed to fly by. The final mile split was 6:03 and was the fastest of the entire workout.

At the time, I had no explanation to why I was able to run faster. I had certainly shown no signs that I would. My actions certainly wouldn't have led me to believe this last mile would be faster.

Somewhere embedded in this story, there is a moral to it. I am sure of it. Sometimes, we try too hard and are frustrated because our efforts are not meeting our expectations. Maybe the best suggestion that I can make is to count to 10, relax, and give it another try.

Monday, January 14, 2013

CRC Mileage Program and Awards

When I was elected to the CRC Board for '12, I wanted to add something to the club for the club members. CRC had a lot going for it but it didn't a mileage program. Most every running club has in some form or another a mileage program.

I know not every member is into tracking their miles, but there are a lot of members that do like seeing their miles slowly add up over the course of a year. They also like to see how they compare to other members in the club.

Right from the beginning, members were told; this is not about how many miles they can run or who can run the most miles. This program was about encouraging them to go out the door and enjoy their passion. If they were able to run a little more than 3 miles per day for the entire year, we would have an award for them at the end of the year.

This Saturday night, I passed out some of those awards at South Park TrySports.

TrySports really came through and provided those CRC members running 1000 miles with a really nice plaque.

They also provided a nice food tray and water for those that came by to pick up their awards.

I still have about 45 of the awards to give a way.

The rightful owners will need to see me to pick them up.

-btw if you won a mileage program award, I will have them at the CRC Winter Classic 8k race.


Sharing one thought at time,

The Cool Down Runner

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Mill Stone 50k Preview Run

On Saturday, Feb 9th, 2013, the Rock Hill Striders hosted a preview run of the Mill Stone 50k trail race course. In either late July or early August was the last time that I had taken to these trails on the ASC Greenway.

Really, it could have still been August in my opinion. The weather had me out in shorts and a try-top. This is not your typical January morning. By the time my Garmin flashed up that we had run a mile, the sweat was already running down the side of my face.

The way they have it setup runners will be making three 10.5 mile loops of the course. We run from the picnic table area over to the Leroy Springer Center and then back. The trails run near each other but for the most part, they hardly overlap.

I guess it was the warm temps because the first 5 miles, I felt awful. By the time, we reached the Springer Center, I was seriously contemplating just doing one loop and moving my long run back to Sunday.

Over the next hour, I kept taking my Cliff Blocks and this seemed to be helping. We finished our first loop, and I headed for my car to "down" a half a bottle of Nuun that I had prepared beforehand.

Heading back out for a short loop with a few others that wanted some more miles, I started to feel a little better. I never really felt great but at least I didn't feel any worse.

Finally, just Scott and I were left. We kept at it until my Garmin read 20 miles. In reality we were easy pushing 21 to 21.5 miles with all of the twist and turns that my Garmin failed to record.

I had to thank Scott for dragging me along. I knew he was doing 20 and I just needed to push myself to keep up with him.

The course isn't overly technical. There are numerous climbs, twists, and turns. There are also a number of bridges to cross unless one wants their shoes wet.

Runners will definitely be challenged by the nature of the course, but if you love a good run through the woods, this could be a course for you.

Big thanks to Craig Marshall for organizing this run.

More details about the course can be found here.


Sharing one thought at time,

The Cool Down Runner


Friday, January 11, 2013

2 x 2 mile, 8 x 1 minute

Who knew January would be 70 degrees yesterday and "boy" did it make my work out a struggle. The first two miles of warm up were not bad, but I was sweating. After cranking up the pace for the next 2 miles, the sweat was rolling. Perhaps, it was rolling faster down my face than my legs were turning over. I clicked off a couple of 6:10 miles, but they felt like hard miles

A 1 mile recovery followed. Then, I headed off on the next 2 mile interval. This was a little better 6:05 pace but still slower than I expected.

I trotted along trying to wipe the sweat from around my eyes for the next mile.

I wanted to finish things off with an 8 x 1 minute session. I really feel like I have not done much in the way of speed work in this training cycle. My legs need to know what is like to take it up a notch. I just wish that I had chosen another day for it.

My "up" notch was more like "same" notch. But at least I was trying.

Overall, I give this work out a "B-". Oh, well, they all cannot be "A+" and at least I didn't consider it to be an "F".


Sharing one thought at time,

The Cool Down Runner

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Check Engine Light is on

For the past few weeks, I have been taking a weekly cycling class at the YMCA. Sometimes, I like to do something different in my training. This is just another way to shake things up and get the body trying something new.

Each bike has a display which tells me the RPMs, overall time, plus a few other pieces of information.

Last night, I am cycling along during the class. We have just finished the first interval session. We are starting the hill section of the class. Training inside in January, it doesn't take much to make me look like I have been standing in the rain. Not to mention the fact, the heat plus the workout really push up my heart rate.

Like I said, we are starting through the hill section of the class. I am out of the seat straining to pull up on the pedals. Sweat is running down the side of my face. My quads, hamstrings, and calves are screaming that I should set down and turn back the tension on the bike. I glanced at the display to see my readings. This is when I notice that there is a little check engine type symbol flashing on it.

At first, I thought something might be wrong with the bike, but then I began to wonder if the bike knew something that I didn't. Maybe this was the bike's way of telling me that there was something wrong with me. After all, I guess, I am the engine on the bike. Right?

Well, we went on to finish the hill section and did another interval session. I survived it, but on the drive home, I kept wondering; was the bike trying to tell me something. I guess; I will never know.


Sharing one thought at time,

The Cool Down Runner

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Frosty 25k @ Salem Lake 1/5/13

In life you have to give people 2nd chances. The same can be said for races. The last time I ran a race at Salem Lake, I was covered from head to toe with mud. I walked away thinking that I would never come back. This time, there was not a speck of mud on my shoes. Granted, the temperature was 25 degrees so even if there was any mud, it would have been like concrete.

The Frosty 25k is part of the overall Frosty 50k and Relay race. I choose this race for two reasons. My spring marathon is a little more than 2 months away and after a lazy December, I needed a long hard study tempo run to get me back on course.

I headed up to Winston-Salem that morning, so when I drove out of my garage, my car showed a temperature of 29 degrees. When I parked at Salem Lake, I took a picture with my phone because it said the temperature was 25 degrees. Cold is cold, but this is cold for North Carolina.

After 3 miles of running before the race, I gave up on trying to get warm. I changed clothes and headed for the starting line.

I saw Bobby Aswell dropping off his drop bag and then, he was trying to buckle his fuel belt. Bobby was shaking so badly that he was having trouble getting it snapped. "Bobby, let me help you with it". He said "I'll be okay once I start running". I shook my head. He was tough because he was going to be running the 50k distance.

The starting line is crowded but I find a good spot next to Caleb and to the right of Laurie. They are running on our CRC Relay team.

The race gets rolling and my legs just don't want to turn over. My first mile is 6:23 and then my 2nd mile is 6:25. Somewhere in the 3rd mile, I start to feel better. I start to feel warmed up. I catch Molly Nunn. I recognize her by the huge pony tail of hair. I had spent 3 miles chasing that same waving hair at China Groove 5k in June of last year.

Next, I see Dennis L. and Kelly F. The line of runners in front of me is really starting to stretch out now.

I am actually glad that I wore my mittens. It makes eating my cliff blocks a little more difficult but otherwise, I was glad to have warm fingers.

By this time, I have rounded the far end of Salem Lake. The racers ahead of me are really off in the distance. I catch a couple of guys but for the most part, I am running alone.

At 6 miles, I climb the only hill on the course and then head down the switch backs on the other side. Flashing by the aid station, I hear Aaron hollering and I see Chris Lamperski taking pictures.

The trail turns to a paved greenway during this section which extends all the way to the turn around.

I pass 7 miles and begin to wonder when I will see the leaders coming back. I suspect – actually I hope the only people in front of me are relay runners. No such luck. Relay runners have different colored bibs.

I see at least 5 people with either 50k or 25k bibs. Maybe my only saving grace was that only one of them looked over 40.

12.5k or 7.75 miles, I hit in 48:03.

Up to this point, I kept telling myself. Hold something in reserve. This is 15.5 miles of racing. Those last 7.75 are going to be tough.

I now start to retrace my steps back to the start. I see Molly not far behind me. I see Kelly running hard. By the way, both Molly and Kelly were running the 25k. I see Allen Strickland and Bobby. Many others passed me but in the sea of racers, their faces became a blur. This was helped by the fact that most had chosen to cover up or freeze.

Just before the 8 mile mark, a runner flashes by me. He is running hard. Negative thoughts start to creep in and I think that I am slowing down. My 8 split flash up at 6:09. Then I realize he must be a relay runner. Honestly, I don't feel any better about it. I don't want to be passed by anyone. This is just the nature of racing.

I catch one guy and ask how he is doing. He is in the relay race. I catch one other guy. Again I ask how he is doing. He says that he is in the 25k race. "Oh". Note to self, I need to keep pushing.

Rounding the far end of the lake again, I know that I have a little over 3.5 miles to run. There are some small roller hills but nothing too bad. Then there is this one hill about a mile or so out from the finish. Darn, my legs don't like it but they climb it as hard as they can.

Now, I can see the finish area from a mile away but I have to weave in and out of these little coves first before I get there. Making the last turn, the finish line is in sight. My arms are pumping and I didn't even look back. I just surge across the finish line.

One of the race officials comes immediately up to me and tells me that I won the overall masters' award. There is no awards ceremony. I just need to come back when I am ready to pick up my award.

I change shoes and then head out on the back side of the course to watch the other racers.

I see Caleb and Aaron heading to the relay junction. Aaron is running our CRC team's last leg. Later, I see him flash by me. I yell encouragement.

Then, I head over to the finish area.

Caleb, Emily, Jason, Michelle who ran on the women's CRC team were hanging out. I see Aaron running hard all the way to the finish line. Dalena finds herself racing to the finish against another relay team.

It was really awesome to see our CRC Relay teams doing so well on a really cold day.

Our CRC team "Mixin it up" in the co-ed category finished in 3:29:58 averaging 6:46 pace and third overall in this category

Our CRC team "Too hot for the Cold" in the men's category finished in 2:57:46 averaging 5:44 and third overall in this category

Our CRC team "Gone Chickin" in the women's category finished in 3:11:39 and won the women's all female team category.

To our CRC members who either joined me in the 25k, 50k, or ran on another relay team, congratulations. Like me you all braved a cold morning just to enjoy "running with a passion".
PS. Special thanks to Chris L. for taking pictures at the race.


Sharing one thought at time,

The Cool Down Runner





Friday, January 4, 2013

Exploring your weaknesses

Recently, I received some feedback about my writing. The feedback was not terrible in nature but the point came across loud and clear. My writing skills are – well – let's just say - they leave something to be desired. I cannot argue the point. I know it is true and more than one English teacher can probably attest to this fact. The irony of the situation is that I actually enjoy writing. Something about the activity makes me think the time spent on it is worthwhile. I cannot explain it. But as usual feedback from a comment or an email or a post like this one triggers the idea for one of my post. So please pardon my interruption while I write about handling weaknesses.

People often look at strong leaders and they picture them as the most perfect people. They are able to do everything and do it well. In reality most leaders are imperfect. They have flaws. They have weaknesses. This is just part of being human.

If we were all perfect, we would never know feeling of lose or joy that comes with success. Life would be a long boring line of the status quo.

An attribute that makes a really strong leader is the ability to recognize his weaknesses.

The leadership comes into play in how he or she deals with those weaknesses. Everyone tries to hide their weakness because they know that it is a deficient in their ability to succeed. Thus, they try to cover it up.

Covering up weakness can take many forms. What is it that most good leaders do?

Well, once they recognize and understand their weakness, they try to find a way to correct or mask it.

Depending on the weakness, this could mean doing just about anything to offset it. But typically in the business world, good leaders surround their self with individuals that have complementary skills. Then, when a leader has a task that goes into his area of weakness, he can lean upon the people around him to help.

I wish I could say that I was a strong leader, but I cannot. I have plenty of weaknesses. I have too many to count. But hopefully, I have plenty of friends around me that I can lean on. And vice versa, if they struggle, I am here to lean on.

This is what makes us all successful. Right?


Sharing one thought at time,

The Cool Down Runner


Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Ab work

Over the last few weeks, I have been taking this class at the Y. Usually the last part of the class involves doing some "Ab" work. Now, I thought that I had been doing my fair share of sit-ups and plank and this would make me pretty good in this part of the class. But let me tell you, I feel like a total wimp.

Within minutes, I am sweating profusely and my "Ab"s are on fire.

Now, I know I shouldn't be looking around during the class. I should be focusing on my own efforts. But I cannot help myself. The class is probably 90 to 95 percent women and they are making it look easy. Granted, I am guessing they have been taking the class for a while but this guy "pride" thing in me just gets me into so much trouble. I am trying to do things and my body is balking at the effort.

But I wonder if they are also looking around and laughing on the inside at me while I work over time to perform the simplest of efforts. In fact, I am sure they are laughing. I walk out of the class and my stomach feels like it is in knots.

That's okay; let them laugh at my expense. I am certainly in there because I want to get better and if looking like a fool for a few minutes lets me put one foot in front of another faster and longer, then it is a burden that I am willing to bare.

Wouldn't you do the same thing?


Sharing one thought at time,

The Cool Down Runner

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Rainy Day Workout

There are lots of ways to start '13 but I guess the best way is to start it with a workout. Getting something up tempo sets the right frame of mind for the entire year. Although, I have to say; the rain wasn't scheduled in my training plan. But I just considered it one of my many challenges for the day to overcome.

Drizzle was falling when I went out the door and the steady pouring kept me cold and motivated to keep moving in the early miles. About 5 miles into the run, the hill where I do the repeats was looming ahead. I could feel the trickle of cold water seeping down the back of my neck with each strike of my foot to the ground. Ignoring the discomfort is just part of what runners have to endure.

Turning into the hill for the first repeat, the rain began to pick up. Soaking through my shoes, my Brooks Launch and Thorlo socks felt water logged. Three repeats in to my workout my breathing was labored but I was feeling much warmer. With each hill crest, the warmth felt awesome but turning around and jogging back to the bottom allowed the mind to return to the cold soaking rain again.

With repeats 4, 5, 6, and 7, the only noticeable change came in the form of my shoes. Stamping through the water streaming down the hill left them feeling more like cold lead blocks wrapped around my feet than super light running shoes.

Repeat 8 is usually followed by a two and half mile cool down run back home. Today, my cool down was more like an extend tempo run. Rain was soaking through my gloves and chilling my fingers. Spray from the passing cars covered my face and reminded me why I don't like running in the rain. My legs gladly accept the quicker pace without any urging. They like the rest of me was ready to get warm.

The best part was pushing open my front door and feeling the warm air hit my face.

Ah, the feeling of warm air is super nice after running in a cold winter rain.


Sharing one thought at time,

The Cool Down Runner