Thursday, February 28, 2013

Getting to know people better

I volunteer my time with the Charlotte Running Club and having even stepped up to fill the role as President this year. Giving back to the community through an all volunteer organization can be both rewarding and challenging.

The Charlotte Running Club does a lot of good work. We help provide volunteers for races. Members of the club are active across a multitude of community organizations.

The club is just awesome all around.

Working with people can be interesting. This is especially true when I don't know them very well. Our club's board changes every year with potentially 4 to 6 new board members being added.

This year we had 4 new members join our board of directors. Some of them, I knew well. Some of them, I knew through running circles. Some of them, I didn't know at all.

The only way to get to know someone is to spend time around them. This is what I did this past weekend. Each year our club's holds a one day working session. Typically, our club's board meetings last about an hour and occur one time per month. There is very little time for any type of interaction beyond covering the business at hand.

We spent nearly 11 hours talking about many topics affecting our club and changes that we would like to make and things we would like to do. There was also time between these discussions where we talked out ourselves and our lives. I walked away seeing these people in a new way. I liked hearing their opinions and seeing their commitment to their ideas. I also learned more about them as person. Learning about someone helps me understand why they do the things they do and say the things they say. Also I feel like I can better work with them because I am able to better relate to them.

Knowing each of the board members better will help me perform my job better as President.


Sharing one thought at time,

The Cool Down Runner


Wednesday, February 27, 2013

20, 10, and 5 minute intervals

Every training cycle, I tend to land on a few key workouts.

For some reason, this time around I have landed on this 20, 10, and 5 minute intervals with half recovery. In the interest of over sharing, this wasn't even my workout. Megan started it a while back and ask me join.

We usually run about 8 miles beforehand and then, we launch into these 20, 10, and 5 minute intervals. By the time we are finished with them, we usually run nearly 15 miles. We finish it off with a 1 mile cool down which works out really well. I am always tired and ready to just be finished.

Before we started it this morning, I let her know that I was not feeling all that strong. My hard workout on Monday was still lingering in my legs early.

During the first 20 minutes, I ran 3.13 miles and averaged 6:23 per mile. The second 10 minutes, I covered 1.57 miles and averaged 6:27 pace. My last 5 minutes should have been faster but I had nothing left. I went .76 miles and averaged 6:34. My legs are showing the drag of some hard running lately.

Big picture running is difficult sometimes. I know I should be able to run faster, but I also realize that my body bounces back more slowly than it did years ago.

I have to keep this in mind. Keeping perspective is important.


Sharing one thought at time,

The Cool Down Runner



Tuesday, February 26, 2013

6 x 1 mile

After the Myrtle Beach ½ marathon, I only did two serious workouts last week. The first was 20 by 400 repeats on the track and then, I completed my final really long run of 24 miles. Getting older has the ugly side effect that it just takes me longer to bounce back from hard races. Fortunately, I have also gained the wisdom to know I need to take that time if I want to stay injury free.

Okay, now that my easier week is over, I usually follow it with a much tougher following week.

I personally think 6 x 1 mile with a quarter mile recovery fits the "bill". By no means was this workout easier for me. After my two mile warm up, I launched into the first repeat. My body was still tight and complained loudly that it needed more warm up time. My breathing was labored and the perspiration popped out on my head. As is usually the case, I was searching for my "running" rhythm. The nice smooth turnover while trying to stay relaxed.

Usually, my first interval is almost a throw away. I have come to realize that my first interval is just my attempt to kick start my body and mind into the doing the workout.

After the first mile repeat, the quarter mile recovery came and went fast. My breathing was still pretty labored during the 2nd mile, but definitely my body was feeling better.

The third mile went by, and I knew the workout was half over. My mind suddenly shifted from the stress of getting into the workout to trying to finish it out strong.

Miles 4 and 5 I felt good and strong. I was still working hard but it wasn't so hard that I knew I could not finish out the workout. Mile 6 I stayed pretty much on course for first 3 laps and I tried to open it up more and finish with a pace much closer to 5:30.

A few weeks ago, I did this same workout. I averaged something like 5:52 across the entire workout. This time I averaged 5:46 for miles 1-5 and closer to 5:40 on the 6th mile. I like to think I am in slightly better shape now, but the only true indicator will be on marathon day.


Sharing on thought at time,

The Cool Down Runner




Monday, February 25, 2013

Last major long run

This past weekend, I knocked out my last major long run before my marathon in 3 weeks. Usually, my last long run is 28 miles but during the last few training cycles, I have opted for the shorter 24 effort. Having run a few marathons now, I don't see that there is a major difference in my race day efforts when I have opted for the 24 mile effort.

With rain setting across Charlotte, I fully expected to have cold wet run. However, luck seemed to be on my side. Other than some drizzle and from time to time a few drops of rain, my run was completed without the soaking and freezing rain that I expected.

The first 15 miles passed rather quickly. This was largely due to the company that I was keeping. One of the things, I don't think I ever truly appreciate is how much the distraction of a conversation helps pass the time. My body gets tired and my feet don't like the pounding of those extra miles but keeping the mind distracted seems to lessen the extent that these external issues impact the mind.

The above statement really set in when I was left alone to run the last 9 miles. I noticed my pace slowed down for a couple of miles. I made my second turn on McMullen Greenway by Starbucks and headed back. Each quarter mile post reminded me that I was getting closer to the end of my run.

Strangely, my energy seemed to be wavering at 18 miles. Then, at 20 miles I started to feel better. My splits returned to what they were earlier in my run. My mind seemed to be holding back energy and then it realized that I was getting close to the finish. It suddenly released some extra energy.

My fatigue wasn't washed away by this release of energy but the last few miles just didn't seem to be as hard. I am glad of it.

With my last run in the bag, there is just three weeks of tapering to come. I will freely admit. I am ready for it.


Sharing one thought at time,

The Cool Down Runner


Thursday, February 21, 2013

20 x 400 Intervals

The sun had yet to rise over the sky line when I started making my loops around Providence Day track. Combing these predawn hours with the fact that my legs were still feeling the effects of the Myrtle Beach ½ marathon, the thought of not doing this workout did occur to me.

Mentally, I knew that I needed to make it happen so I pushed aside the mental anguish and ran the workout.

My strategy was to run these repeats slightly faster than marathon pace, but not so fast that I would be struggling to finish the workout. The first one, I hit in 1:29. Then, I proceed to clip off the rest in the 1:25 to 1:26 range. Each interval was followed by a 100 meter jog recovery.

During the first mile, I felt like I was fighting myself. I was not feeling all that smooth. But as the first mile transitioned to the second mile and the third mile, my confidence grew and I started to relax.

Because there was only a 100 meter recovery, I didn't have much time to think about it. My breathing had barely recovered, and I was off on the next interval.

Mile 4 felt better. Mile 5 my legs started to feel some heaviness to them. After all, I was basically running a 5 mile tempo at 5:40 pace while slowing for 100 meters every quarter mile.

When mile 5 was complete, I was tired but not overwhelmingly tired. I felt like I could do a few more which I will take as a good thing. Wanting to do a few more is a sign that I have more to give.

Something I will share with everyone. Running intervals isn't easy. I had to keep reminding myself by saying "this is fun", "this is fun", and "this is fun". If I say it enough, it becomes true. Right?

Now I am on to some rest days. I think that I have earned it.


Sharing one thought at a time,

The Cool Down Runner.


Monday, February 18, 2013

Dasani Myrtle Beach ½ marathon

My alarm went off at 4:15 Saturday morning and the time flew by. By 6 AM I headed out the door for my warm up run over to the starting line. Leaving the warmth of the hotel behind my shoulders were chilled by the morning air.

Conditions were definitely better that my last visit to Myrtle Beach. Snow came pouring down and they canceled the race.

This morning there would be no snow.

The weather was perfect. The temperature hovered around 40 degrees with very little wind.

I wished Adam Mays the best of luck. We saw each other in a side parking lot while doing strides. He was running the Marathon.

Once they moved Bubbles the elephant out of the way, the wheel chair athletes were off at 6:25. Our turn came some 5 minutes later.

The sun had yet to rise over the over ocean so much of the early miles were run under the street lights.

My first mile was spent just trying to settle-in to a good rhythm. I got in this group and it felt comfortable. I kept telling myself to just relax. The miles would be clicking off soon enough. I refused to look at my Garmin, but I could hear it chiming just as I was passing the mile flags. My way of thinking this is a good thing. I am running the tangents.

I made the turn at 6 miles in 34:51. The guy who I had been following grabbed some PowerAde from the aid station. I watched as he drank it and then went sprinting off. I just shook my head. There was no way that I could match his new effort. But I also wondered what was in his PowerAde.

There were several turns during this section of the course. For whatever reason, I didn't run it very well. By the time I closed in on the 7 mile point, my Garmin rang well before 7 mile mark. I thought I was doing a good job of it, but I guess that I didn't.

The Market Common was a tough section for me.

But once we were back on Farrow Parkway, things were looking up. I wasn't expecting it but I could hear people shouting my name. I saw Sharon, and I believe I saw Mitchell Rippy and Allen Strickland. I cannot be sure. My peripheral vision isn't what it used to be.

From here, we ran along the coast for miles 8, 9, and 10. I never felt the wind much during this section but I sure did feel like I was climbing up "Worthington Street" here in Charlotte. I was pumping my arms to keep the legs moving. I am not quite sure why but these miles seem to drag. I thought they never would pass.

In the 11th mile, I get to the point where the ½ and full races split. Being that this was my first time, I got a little confused by the guy giving directions. At first, I thought he was saying turn left, but then as I was slowing to turn left, I realized that he was saying move in the left lane. Ugh, I had to resume running hard for another block before turning left.

Once I turned left, miles 12 seem to come up quick. Then, 3 guys who had been just behind me made their move. I tried to respond but my legs just didn't have any more "go power".

I made the turn into BBT field and saw the 13 mile clock. It said 1:15:48. I thought "man" I got my "1:16" in the bag. But then, I realized the clock and the 13 mile was not in the same place. The 13 mile mark was well behind the clock. Thinking about it now, I guess the clock was setup for the 26 mile mark.

I could see the finish clock clicking toward 1:17. I dug down and pulled out everything that I had. I knew it was going to be close. Pressing the stop button on my Garmin, I glanced down at it – 1:17:00. Well, I tried.

I grabbed some water and headed back to the hotel to clean up. By 9 AM, I was back at the finish area to check out the results. After talking with Richard H. for a few minutes, I waited for the awards.

The directors of the race present the awards a little differently than most races. Age group awards can be picked up any time after the results are posted. The open and master awards are called out in front of the stage. Making it even more interesting, they had monkeys and a baby tiger at the awards. I got a cool photo of me with them. This was definitely one of the more memorable awards ceremonies for me. I need to thank Lauren for my awards photo with the monkeys and the tiger.

The Myrtle Beach awards are pretty nice. My third pace masters' award was a framed certificate for the 3rd Male Master and a half marathon finisher medal.

The two Masters' runners that beat me ran in the 1:14s. I couldn't match those efforts.

I was happy with the results. I finished 18 overall out of 5000+ runners. I got my last major shake out race before my marathon in 4 weeks.

Now, I have a few days of rest and then it will be time to finish up the training going for my marathon.


Sharing one thought at time,

The Cool Down Runner







Friday, February 15, 2013

Chiropractic Care

Over the last few weeks, I noticed my left knee has some increasing soreness. Usually, the first couple of miles I get steady stream of pain signals going to my brain.

Then, as my body warms to the effort of running, the pain abates. I knew I should have it checked out by a doctor but I was struggling to find the time.

On Wednesday, I dropped by to see Dr. Markel at Pain Relief and Wellness Center. I told him was going on with my knee, and he went to work on it.

He was digging in pretty good on my quad during the session. Yesterday, I could really feel the quad. There was definitely some tenderness, and there was some residual soreness from the session.

However, on a whole, it felt so much better.

Thinking about it now, I realized that I need reminding as much as anyone. When something doesn't feel right, I shouldn't put off having it checked out.

Suffering in silence hurts only me. Why I do it; I don't know. There is no real reason for it.

This is why I suggest that people don't follow my lead.

When those aches and pains don't feel right, don't wait. Have them checked out. In the long run, your body will thank you for it.


Sharing one thought at time,

The Cool Down Runner

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

“Under the weather” 10 x 800

This morning I went to the track for my workout – 10 x 800. I was hesitating to do the workout since I have been "under the weather" for the last several days. I felt this cold coming on last Thursday. Colds are the worst. I feel it in my back and shoulders. Maybe the worst is being "zapped" of energy. I could tell with my first interval this morning that I didn't have it. Throw on top of it; I have been taking this night time cold medicine. I sleep well but it leaves me feeling very lethargic during the day.

Marathon dates don't slide because I am sick so I have to just "suck" it up.

The first 800, I clipped off in 2:48. This was followed by a string of 2:45s and 2:44s.

All in all, this was not a total awful workout. Give me a few more days to get back to full strength. I can see myself repeating this workout maybe 10 days out from my marathon.


Sharing one thought at time,

The Cool Down Runner



Saturday, February 9, 2013

Cupid’s Cup 5k – 17:14 1st MM

Got to the parking area early, picked up my stuff, changed into my running shoes, and then I started out for my warm up. Going up East Blvd, I heard my name being shouted across the road. Chris Lamperski wanted to warm up together so I slowed to wait on him.

We made the loop of the course and before I knew it; it was time to head for the starting line.

Between my CRC and TrySports buddies, we were covering the front of the race. Aaron, Kent, Chris, Thomas, Michelle, Pezz, Billy, Richard, and Chris were spread out along the starting line.

To fill you in on the back story, I was coming off one of the toughest weeks of training in recent memory. I guess this is the reason that I started feeling a little under the weather on Thursday.

Jen gave us the final countdown and I launched myself across the starting line. But I wasn't nearly fast enough. Aaron appeared to be shot out of cannon because he was gone up the road. Billy was in hot pursuit of him. I spent the better part of the first mile just trying to get my breathing under control.

We turned right so we could make the loop around Latta Park. Chris Jones and I were running together. Thomas was just in front of us wearing his orange "Pace Leader" shirt.

Cresting the hill around Latta I got in front of Chris and set my sights on Thomas. We made another left back on to East Blvd. I knew from here that it was downhill or flat the rest of the way.

I was closing on Thomas but it was hurting. I could hear the cheers from friends along the course and this inspired me to push even harder.

Catching Thomas was one thing. Passing Thomas was another. The moment that I came up beside him he instantly matched my pace. I could see two other runners in striking distance. One was Chris Lamperski with his over the calf bright green socks. We hit the flat section beside Harris Teeter and my feet were being picked up and put down as fast as I could make them.

I caught the first guy, but Chris was well ahead of me. One surge and then another surge were being thrown in by me. I was closing but it was too little too late.

The parking lot and the finish loomed just ahead and I was in the highest gear that I had. Suddenly, my ears registered the sound of foot steps behind me. I had nothing left but this didn't stop me from pumping my arms as hard as I could.

I could still hear the footsteps echoing in my ears, but I was not given up. If he wanted, he was going to have to come get me. I was not coming back to him.

The guy was like my shadow. He was right on my heels to the finish.

For me it was a great race. I never set my goals too high during a 5k when I am marathon training. My training just isn't geared to give me that kind of leg turnover. My splits were 5:38, 5:50, and 5:20 with a finish time of 17:14. This made me the first Male Masters Winner.

The race was also good in another respect. While I missed the finish, for most the race I got to see Billy and Aaron battle it out. Billy got the better of him going down East Blvd.

Best of all, I got to see more and more CRC members. I talked Mike Lemons, Larry, Tom, Lana, just to name a few.

Congratulations to all the Cupid's Cup finishers today.


Sharing one thought at time,

The Cool Down Runner





Thursday, February 7, 2013

Trail Talk @ TrySports

Last week I received an email from Ben Hernandez a manager at TrySports in South Park. He was inviting me down to a group discussion on trail running. TrySports is forming a group run for individuals wanting to get into trail running. Ben pulled together a group of individuals to lead the discussion that have been very involved with the Trail system around the Charlotte area.

I guess living in Charlotte for over 20 years; I have run on just about every publically known trail around town. Like anyone, I have my favorite trails.

The group leading the discussion included a representative from the White Water Center, Ivan - President of the Tarheel Trailblazers, Andrew – a pretty darn good trail runner with a great knowledge to the Charlotte trail system, Marcus – trail runner and XTERRA racer, and me.

In my opinion, this was a very good group to have sharing their experiences and knowledge about the trail running and the trail system.

Hearing each person's perspective was great for me. For example, I knew about the Tarheel Trailblazers but knew very little of what they did. Ivan shared a lot about what goes into the effort for building and maintenance of these great trails that we have.

He and I also talked about a possible collaboration between the Trailblazers and the Charlotte Running Club. We have a huge membership and while I don't know exactly how many of our members use the trails around Charlotte, I would suspect that it is a sizeable number. One thing that I do know is during the heat of the Charlotte summers, our members love the shade provided by these trails.

One area where Ivan shared that they need the most help is with trail maintenance. He sent me a link this morning to their upcoming trail maintenance work days. Click here to see it.

I encourage everyone in our club to take time out and give these guys a hand on one of their work days. They provide the tools. All we need to do is provide the gloves, water, and the sweat equity. In my mind this is a fair trade for some great trails.


Sharing one thought at time,

The Cool Down Runner

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Dilworth Speed Loop – 3 x 2 mile

A couple of days ago Mike posted about a workout on the Dilworth Speed loop. The trouble was he wanted to start at 5:45. This is early. Actually, it is really earlier for me. My alarm has to go off a 4:15 if I have any hope of making at 5:45 start time. Thus, I was pretty much on the fence for attending until last night.

What the heck. Mike has come out for more than a few of my dumb long runs. The least I can do is drag my rear out of bed and go run with him.

I set my alarm to ring way before any rooster ever thought about crowing.

Charlie and Philip joined Mike and me for the run over to the speed loop. Along the way, we picked up Spada.

Through the years, I have run Dilworth speed loop many time but I had never run a 2 mile course on it.

The guys did their best to describe which streets to run but at dark thirty the streets all look the same to me.

We finish with our warm with a little loop over the last 800 meters.

I wasn't feeling particularly great. The worst case, I thought I could survive it. My legs were still tired from the heavy training last week.

Mike set the suggested pace at 6:30 to 6:40.

We headed off on the first repeat. I tried to settle-in and learn where to make the turns. It was just like old times. I was running just behind Steve.

With about a quarter mile left in the repeat, my right shoe lace came loose. I could feel it whipping again my calf. Sometimes, I have to just ignore the distractions.

Mike kept us on track - 2 mile repeat and then 2 minute recovery.

We were off again. This time I had a better idea what the course was like and I was feeling much better.

Definitely my breathing was more labored on this one.

Another 2 minute recovery passed and we were off on the third 2 mile repeat. My legs felt sluggish starting. The fatigue from last week may have been showing up. The drive to push harder was not coming as easily.

About a mile and quarter in there is this little rise. Unlike the previous two repeats, my leg just didn't have the drive challenge the hill. I settled-in and ran it smoothly. We made the final turn on to the Dilworth loop. This was my sixth mile. As much as I wanted to dig in and push, I focused on just keeping the engine running.

My last mile wasn't the fastest but it wasn't the slowest either.

I was dreading doing this workout for couple of reasons. I am not a big fan of running in the dark. It is too easy to step in a hole or miss a step because of uneven pavement. The other reason, I am really feeling the fatigue right now. Two months of nearly 90+ miles per week has left me feeling this way.

On the other hand, having some other guys set the pace and give me goal was really nice. No situation is ever perfect but workout went much better than I expected. I attribute this to the other guys in the group. Appreciate you guys letting me join in on the fun.

Wrapping things up, I wanted to include my splits from the workout which reminds me. Just for the record, Worthington is uphill. No, it isn't steep but it is straight and it does climb ever so slightly. My quads can attest to this being the case.

Open 2 mile repeat – 6:07 and 5:48

2 minute recovery

Second 2 mile repeat – 5:46 and 5:38

2 minute recovery

Third 2 mile repeat – 5:43 and 5:47


Sharing one thought at time,

The Cool Down Runner


Sunday, February 3, 2013

Charlotte Ultra Run 50k – an observer’s perspective

Early last week, I knew Stan was running the Charlotte Ultra 50k over on the Mallard Creek greenway. Stan was going to be out there for something like 4 hours so I figured he wouldn't mind a little company. This also meant that I could knock out my long run on Saturday morning.

As the week went along Stan ended up not being able to run and then, Megan decided to run the 50k. She signed up just a couple of days beforehand. I mean "really"; Megan may be one of the few people in the planet that "signs up" for a 50k a few days beforehand. Yes, I understand signing up for a "5K" at the last moment but not signing up for a 50k. 50k is a long ways.

Anyway, after some FaceBook and email exchanges, I agreed to run along with her for 4 of the 5 laps. The Charlotte Ultra uses approximately a 10k course which is repeated 5 times.

I arrived at the race site. The temperature was easily in the lower 20s. They had the school open so runners could at least enjoy the comfort of the indoors before the race started.

I walked in the door and was immediately in awe. Finian Curran, the event's race director, had been busy setting up this race. There was a rather nice little festive atmosphere going on in the gym with music and venders.

Most of the announcements took place in the gym and with about 2 minutes to 8, we all headed down to the greenway for the start of the race.

David Lee, from David Lee Timing, gave us a few more last minute instructions and then, using a blow horn sent us on our way. With a combined 10k and 50k start, there were a number of runners disappearing into the distance. Megan and I settled into an easy pace. Jamaar joined for a while. We also talked to the other guys around us.

By 5 miles, Megan and I were separated into a little pocket. We were between the lead runners and the rest of the field. The really cool part was seeing all of the other runners again and again. There were also the changes on their faces. Many went from talking and smiling on the first loop to not talking and not smiling by the 3rd loop. There were many grimaces seen during the fourth and fifth loops.

To be honest, I have run with Megan quite a few times, but this may have been the first time we ever ran very far in silence. Just to break things up, I ask her what her favorite song was. Then, I ask her to sing a few bars of the song. The realization set in that she was getting tired so I started after asking questions or pretended to be making mistakes so she would have to correct me. This seemed to help since it took her mind off the fatigue and toward something "dumb" that I was saying.

Having never interacted with this type of loop course race before, I actually find it kind of nice. Regularly each lap, I would see Jamaar and Rob making their way along. Meredith, Justin, and Matthew from Running Works were progressing their way through 31 miles.

Yelling encouragement and seeing familiar faces ever so often was really fantastic. I didn't know a lot of the other runners, but this didn't stop me from giving them a smile along with a "good job" when they passed.

Surprisingly, 3 laps went by pretty quickly. My quads were a little tired but overall, I felt fine. I finished up the fourth lap and let Megan set out alone for the final lap. I did pretty much what I had promised. I had run 4 laps for 25.25 miles and keep the pace pretty much on 7:10 pace the entire time.

Then, I waited around for her to complete the last lap. I knew she wanted to run under 3:50. This would qualify her for the Worlds. We had finished four loops in just over 3 hours so she would have roughly 50 minutes to run the last 10k. She did it easily. She finished in 3:47:41.

Major "kudos" need to be given to Meredith, Justin, and Pat. Their efforts with Running Works are showing major divides. Yesterday, Matthew Hoffman who is one of the "neighbors" in the Running Works program completed the 50k course in 5 hours 46 minutes and 33 seconds. This is a major accomplish given his circumstances and that he had never raced beyond an 8k which he did the week before. In my opinion, clear signs that Running Works is making great "strides" to get people back on the feet.

Two other groups were awesome long the course. The medical staff must have walked the entire course and kept checking to see if we were okay. This was a really nice touch for the race. My real appreciate goes out to the workers of the aid stations. Their smiles and encouragement were never more than a mile and half apart. This was something I started looking forward to seeing with each lap.

Last "kudo" item on my list today goes out to Finian for putting on an excellent race. From this runner's perspective, he did a marvelous job.

Click here to access their FaceBook page and see the results.


Sharing on thought at time,

The Cool Down Runner