Friday, May 31, 2013

Yeomen’s Workout

The last of May and throughout June, Run for Your Life puts on the Summer Track Series at Myers Park High School. Having missed all of summer track last year, I made plans for returning this year. Running on a track has always been a mystery for me. I never ran track in high school or college so running around the paper clip oval intrigues me. But for some reason, I have a love/hate relationship with the track. I enjoy the shorter heats and the multiple heats, but I hate the oxygen debt that my body endures while running them.

In years past, I focused just on running the mile heats. However, Tuesday night, I ventured out of my norm. I ran multiple events of different distances and just see how I would do.

I started off with two heats of the mile: 5:24 and 5:45. I went out way too fast on the first lap running a 75 and then 2:33 for the half. The second lap a monkey started jumping on my back. By the third lap, this same monkey was jumping on my shoulders. On the final lap, he was jumping on my head. I was just happy to finish. Maybe a minute later, I jumped in the 2nd heat of the mile. I just tried to relax and run it. The 5:45 seemed a lot easier than the 5:24.

Next up was the 400, I was in lane 5. On the start I launched off the line but by first turn those guys had made up the stagger. I thought this is going to be ugly, but I actually surprised myself and ran a 73 second quarter. This was the fast quarter that I have run in years.

I followed 400 with the 800 in 2:38. Gathering at the line, I looked across and saw Anthony Famiflietti. As a group we left the starting line together. By the first turn Famiflietti was already pulling away from the group. Talk about feeling slow. He looked like he was launched out of a cannon going down the back stretch. The thought actually crossed my mind "I hope I don't get lapped in the 800". I am coming to the line to complete the first 400, and I glanced across the track. Famiflietti is already more than half way down the back stretch. Well, at least I will not get caught in the 800.

Watching him run is just amazing.

I would like to thank Stan, Aaron, and David for some infield laps between the events. This really helped keep my legs loose while waiting between events.

Finally, around 8:15 it was time for the 2 mile. I just tried to settle in. My legs were tired. I was pushing very close to 13 miles. After the hard running from the 400 and 800, this actually felt pretty easy. I wasn't trying to push. The first mile went down a little slower than I expected, but the second mile felt good. Actually, I felt the best in the 2 mile of any of the events the entire evening. Strange as it may sound, I guess this means that I am just a distance kind of guy. I had a very respectable 11:36 for me.

Next week, I will be back, and I am thinking of adding the 200 to my list of events. I know that I'll get crushed but who cares. It is fun to do something different.


Sharing one thought at a time,

The Cool Down Runner

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

CRC handles the H20 for the Grand Slam 5k

Paul sent an email to our club asking if we would be willing to help "man" a water stop for the Grand Slam 5k on Saturday evening 5/18/13. This race benefits the boys of the "Let Me Run" Program and is also the culmination of their spring training efforts. A few emails and a few FaceBook post later, we had a good crew ready and willing to help.

Our crew included: Beth, Alex, Katie plus her 4 kids, John and his wife, Billy, Jinnie, Megan, Ally, and me. I have worked many water stops in the past. This one was amazing.

We filled a huge number of cups before the race, but there were 650+ boys taking part. They seemed to descend on our 2.25 mile H20 stop in one big group. In maybe 20 minutes, we emptied the table of cups. Saturday was a hot and humid evening so many of the boys were taking two or three cups of water.

Being a lifelong runner, I found it great to see these boys given the opportunity to be involved in the sport of running. We should all be a big fan of these programs because they will be corner stone which inspires a new generation of runners.

Lastly, I would like to thank our crew for volunteering the time and energy on a Saturday evening. Giving back is a good thing to do.


Sharing one thought at a time,

The Cool Down Runner

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

TrySports Tuesday night speed session

Starting last fall, TrySports has been holding weekly speed sessions on Tuesday night. The session ended during the cold days but now that the temps are up again, they resumed the sessions. The idea is a pretty good one. Runners meet at TrySports South Park and run over to AG Middle School where they do a track work. Each week there is a different person/coach leading the workout so most likely, the workout will be different each week.

Last Friday, Lauren posted on FaceBook that they needed someone to lead the workout last night. I had the evening free so I volunteered to be the leader/coach.

The crew last night wasn't their largest, but they were enthusiastic: Stan, Drew, Jeff, and myself. Pete Kaplin also joined in an 800.

Our workout for the evening was one of my regular 5K workouts: 200, 400, 800, Mile, 800, 400, and 200 with ½ distance recovery. I recommend everyone run up through the mile at a comfortable pace and then push the last 3 intervals.

Jeff definitely has some speed. I was chasing him through the first 800 and then we finished side by side in the Mile which we ran in 5:33. Stan was just behind us. Stan surprised some me. He runs all of these ultra long runs but he has a pretty good set of fast twitch muscles. He ran the last 200 in 35 seconds which was 5 seconds better than I could muster.

I don't know about the others, but the workout flew by for me. Maybe it was because I was leading it and had to concentrate where to stop and start or maybe it was just the company that I was keeping. Either way, the workout was over before I realized it. We had done almost 3 miles of intervals.

Our recovery miles totaled another mile and half, and when I add in our warm up and cool down to the track, we ran nearly 7 miles.

I never done anything quite like this before it was a fun time. I would do it again if Lauren calls.

Btw – Stan took one for the team during the workout. AG field is also used for lacrosse. Stan took a glancing blow from a lacrosse ball across the chest during one of the intervals. I could clearly see the red bruise where the ball hit. He was very lucky that it was a glancing blow. A head one hit might be enough to break a rib.

I also want to give Gatorade Ambassador Code Angel a shout out. He provided post workout Gatorade for everyone. Appreciate the Gatorade, Cody. The weather was hot and windy so having some Gatorade hit the spot after our workout.


Sharing one thought at time,

The Cool Down Runner




Monday, May 13, 2013

Beach Blast 5k

Three times in May I have visited the Beach Blast 5k in Albemarle, NC, and three times I have been lucky enough to win it: 2007, 2009, and 2013. For those that don't know this means that 3 awesome looking Gourds adorn my trophy case. The Gourds are just the "key" to some great memories. Running the Beach Blast 5k, getting to know many of the people, what can I say; Peter and his crew along with the entire Uwharrie Running club put on one spectacular race. The course is always well marked and has volunteers at every turn. The race is chip timed, and the results are posted shortly after the race by the "On the Mark Sports" timing crew. Post race, there was plenty of food and drinks. Not to mention, there were numerous door prizes donated by the Albemarle businesses. I have never been disappointed by doing one of Peter's races and I hope to do many more of them.
I could go on and on about how much I like running this race, but I also need to share some thoughts about my race before this post gets too long.
The last 2 races while I was warming up, I was wearing gloves and a hat. Apparently, the May like temperatures finally found their way in to south on Saturday. The temperature was hovering just under 70 degrees right before the start. I remember the race announcer saying something about "perfect" weather. Well, maybe if I was a spectator for the race. For us runners, we have a different opinion on what "perfect" weather means.
Right before the start, Peter comes over to tell me about "Seth". Seth is a member of Peter's Vac & Dash staff. He recently finished second in their moonlight half marathon race and narrowly missed winning it in just over 1 hour and 30 minutes. He had covered the last 3 miles at just over 6 minute pace. As Peter walked away, he told me that Seth was wearing a white Vac & Dash singlet. I peered across the starting line trying to pick him out. There were numerous high school kids at the starting. This is the point where I reflect about how old that they make me feel. I have a daughter the same age as most of them.
Well, I don't see him, so I turn my attention back to readying myself for the race.
The air horn sounds and we are off. These high school kids only know one speed – all out. If only someone was capturing the first ½ mile splits, they would all be winners. The Bleach Blast course isn't really a "PR" course. There are a number of hills along the way. The saving grace comes in the form of a 600 meter downhill just before the finish.
We cover the first quarter mile and I pick off a few guys. By ½ mile I pick off a few more. By ¾ of mile, there are only two guys in front of me. I catch the leader just before the mile. We are going up one of the steepest hills on entire the course. I am about to pass him and he says to me "I hate hills". If I wasn't breathing so hard, I would have laughed. In reality I could only mutter a small response of "Yeah, me too".
At the turns I am checking out of the corner of my eye to gauge my lead. By two miles, I am feeling pretty good about things. I knew I only have a couple of more hills to climb and then, I have a nice long downhill to the finish. I convinced myself to push hard on the hills and recover on the downhills.
I make the last turn to the finish. The view was awesome. Hearing Peter call my name again was fantastic. Three trips to the Beach Blast 5k and three wins. I must be living under a lucky star.
In 2007 I ran 16:53 on this course. In 2009, I ran 17:15. This year, I ran 17:51. The times are definitely getting slower and I know age has definitely played a role. However, on the drive home, the thought crossed my mind that my slowing times had more to do with my move up the marathon than it did with my age. In 2007, I ran 3400 miles. Since 2007, I have averaged close to or more than 4000 miles per year. This means I am running an additional 600+ miles each year. This is a lot of extra pounding. If I were 25, those miles would probably have made me faster. But being the 40+ runner that I am, I am running those miles much slower. I am taking longer to recover. I could potentially be just running those fast twitch neurons right out of my legs. Definitely, this is a thought that needs to be pondered further in another post.
For now, I am happy with the result.
With the conclusion of the Beach Blast 5k race, my spring racing season has officially ended. I am putting the speed work, tempo runs, and any other hard training on the back burner for the rest of this month. This is the first training cycle that I have finished in a while where I felt healthy throughout the entire cycle. Now, I plan to give both the body and mind a chance to rest before launching into another cycle.

Sharing one thought at time,
The Coo Down Runner


Friday, May 10, 2013

Yoga – Take 2

There is an old saying "If you do anything 7 times in row, it starts to form a habit". Last night, I did my second Yoga class ever. There was lots of – me trying not to hold my breath during the poses, of me straining to hold poses, and of course some grunting sounds as my body fought my stretching attempts. I could feel my muscles, ligaments, and tendons attempting to lengthen. A long the way, there were plenty of reminders for me to breath and focus on relaxing. This is definitely easier said than done. Caroline was our instructor this week. She does a really good job. But I find myself having to watch her. She calls out the poses by name and then demonstrates them. Since I don't have all of the names down, I have to follow her illustrations. She is good with the encouragement. Definitely, I need all of the encouragement that I can get.

Stan, Jinnie, and Paul joined me for this session. I am really glad to have some fellow runners in the class. I am quite possibly the least flexible of us. But then, I have had a few more years to enhance my inflexibility. LOL.

Does it work? Honestly, after my previous Yoga session, my run the next day did feel easier. Then, I fell out of the 20 to 30 minute routine of post run stretching. Obviously, my body quickly returned to its ridged ways.

This time, I hope to continue my post run stretching for more days and see if it makes me feel differently. I'll keep you posted on the results.


Sharing one thought at a time,

The Cool Down Runner


Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Why join a running club?

This morning I got an email from a runner asking me if she should join our Charlotte Running Club now or wait until her conditioning improved.

I don't know her personally so I was a little unsure how to respond. She seemed genuinely interested in running and in our club so I certainly didn't want her to get a bad impression of our club by giving her a flipped answer. After all, I only have one change to make a first impression.

Thus, my response went a little something like what I will describe next.


I ask her if she is a self motivated person. Running requires a lot of self motivation. Going out the door tired and sleepy is a fact of life for runners. Our running plans nearly always fall on the peripheral of family activities, work obligations, etc.

Joining a running club would allow her to find peers of similar abilities. A running club would surround her with people that will push her to train harder. A club would give her individuals to lean on when everything else says don't run. They would help get her out the door.

The best reason for joining a running club is the "Support System". She would be surrounded by people that understand the struggles of life and will empathize and support her.

I have been running for over 30 years now and every day since Oct of '86. A long the way I could not have done it without the huge number of people that tugged on me to come out for a run. More than once I pushed out the door when I would have otherwise probably stayed in bed. I just need that someone to give me that mental "gentle" push.

There are plenty of other reasons for joining a running club and probably just as many against it. Maybe the real question is to determine what we really want.

It is a question that each of us should ask ourselves.

What is it that we really want? The answer will make the path forward clear.


Sharing one thought at time,

The Cool Down Runner



Tuesday, May 7, 2013

6, 5, 4, 3, 2, and 1 workout

Seemly an eternity has passed since the clouds last parted over Charlotte and the rays of sunlight came roaring through. Personally, I am glad to have the sun back shining brightly again. Those dark clouds seem to make life so depressing and then to have the buckets of cold rain falling. I don't know. I guess I am ready for some warm days to be here.

Anyway, this morning was nice but it was just a little cold. This was also a nice morning for runners. I like being a little chilly at the start. This means once I am rolling, I am fine. Today, I headed out for my regular weekly speed session. This workout was a fartlek ladder workout: 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, and 1 with a 1 minute recovery.

I have gotten tired of my usual routes so I have been branching out. My route today had some nasty hills but also included some nice flats. A workout like this one goes by pretty fast. A one minute recovery doesn't give me much time to recovery. More often than not, by the time my breathing catches up, I have maybe 10 to 15 seconds before I have to go again.

Mentally, I like the first three intervals but I really enjoy the last three intervals. Three minutes, two minutes, and then just one minute of running, they really fly by. Then, I am cruising back toward my house with a nice little two mile cool down.

The rest of the week, I am on to some recovery days and then, I will be off racing again this weekend.

Wish me luck.


Sharing one thought at time,

The Cool Down Runner


Saturday, May 4, 2013

Mt. Holly 5k

This morning I continued my trend of racing places that I hadn't raced recently. My decision turned out to be a good one as Diane, Steve, Bill W, Clayton, and Richard also decided to run the Mt. Holly 5k. I always like catching up with them. Also I got to see many of runners from the Gaston Running Club.

Looking around at the start, there was some fit looking young guys so I figured that I would settle in and just try to run my own race.

During my warm up, I had prerun the course. The prerun turned out to be a good thing for me. The course was tough. Whoever laid out the course went for maximum elevation change within a 5k. We started near the highest point in Mt. Holly and within a mile descended to the lowest point. From there we would climb back to the highest point before making one last hair raising descent about half way down. Then, we made the final climb back up. The middle mile and half were absolutely brutal. We crossed Main St. and would climb to Crest St. it was pretty much putting one foot in front of the other. Several people told me that they had to walk it. I was close. It was "Bear" kind of steep.

Back to the race, with the downhill start the young guys took it out. I was probably a good 20 to 25 yards behind them within a quarter mile. By three-quarters of a mile, I started to close the distance. Just before the mile, I pulled even with them. At this point, knowing what lied ahead; I had thoughts of not pushing the pace any more. But being a good racer, I listened closely to their breathing and decided that the pace really did need some more pushing. The Mt. Holly police did an excellent job with the traffic. We had free run of the road. I climbed up to Main St. and then, I took a deep breath. I went right into the climb up to Crest St.

When I made the left, a quick peek told me that at least one of the guys was still close. I made a point to lean into the downhill. When I made the next right, I could tell that the gap between us had grown.

I felt if I could hold him off until we got to the top, I might be good. With no choice, I dug in and climbed the hill. "Boy", did it feel good when I hit the top.

Compared to the rest of the course, the last half mile was virtually flat. Coming to the school and the finish line; I took one last peek over my shoulder to gauge the distance. Today, he wouldn't be running me down.

I crossed the finish line in 17:31 to win the race. Then, just like last week, I waited as the others finished and congratulated them on their efforts.

Clayton and I then went for a cool down over the last half of the course. Catching up with Clayton was good. Too much time had passed since we last did a run.

For me, this was a decent race and another good day to hang out with friends. I always enjoy hanging out with friends.


Sharing one thought at a time,

The Cool Down Runner


Friday, May 3, 2013


Last night I did my first Yoga session ever. I known and understood what Yoga is for a long time, but watching them twist their bodies into the shape of a pretzel, well, I never figured it was for me. I had pretty much accepted the fact that my muscles were more like steel than liquorish. They only bent a little and anything further, they would break.

After our TrySports group run, Stan, Kent, Paul, Chris, Billy and I headed back to where Carolyn and Kasey were teaching our Yoga for Runners class. Kasey was a newly minted Yoga instructor and would be leading our class.

I was really amazed by how much flexibility they had. They made it looks so easy. Paul and I were talking about it and he told me that I made running "20 miles" look easy. I never thought about it that way. I know how much work goes into being able run 20 miles. The same I am sure can be said for them doing these Yoga poses as well.

I did all of the poses but that is all I will say. Thirty years of running creates some pretty tight muscles. A few Yoga poses are not going to do much to wash it away.

However, I will admit that afterwards I did feel better for a couple of reasons.

The post run stretching left me feeling much looser later in the evening and this morning during my run. But the thing that I think really made me feel better was the focus on my breathing and focusing on trying to relax. My world is filled with a little too much tension and stress. The breathing techniques just made me feel a little more relax. Relaxing is something that I really need.

After the class Kasey and Carolyn were telling us about the hot Yoga classes. I would like to try one of those classes. Trying something different is good right.

Kasey and Carolyn will be teaching another class next Thursday night. I am going to try it out. If you are in the area of the South Park TrySports around 7pm next Thursday night, come on in and check it out.


Sharing on thought at time,

The Cool Down Runner

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Do or do not, but don’t try

This morning I was having a conversation with someone, and I caught myself saying "I will try". The thought suddenly flashed across my mind to what was I was saying. At the same time, the memories came flooding back to a phrase. Someone had posted a few days ago on FaceBook the phrase - "Do or do not; don't try". Along with it, they posted what I am assuming is the origin of the phrase – Yoda from one of the early "Star Wars" films. Let's set aside for a moment that this phrase comes from a fictitious character and let focus what it means.

Let's explore the second part of it first – "don't try". Many of us use the phrase "I will try" because we can then lean on it as a "crutch". It gives us an "out" if we attempt to perform a task and fail. The irony is that we are not sure of our own abilities of our own efforts. We are not willing to make a full commitment to seeing something through to the end. We lack the confidence in our self. Think about it. How many times per day do we speak these words? This just isn't to our co-workers but our friends and family members as well. I wonder if this leaves them with some level of doubt to our ability to carry out some task.

Now, let's say something about the first part – "Do or do not". When an opportunity comes our way, we need to stand ready. I have the registration page of a marathon filled out, and I am about to click "process". I don't suddenly think "I will try". My decision is "Do it" a.k.a "click the process button" or "Don't do it" and close the browser. Once I have made this decision, there is no going back. I feel like I have committed to the effort. I know the impact to me economically, socially, physically, and mentally. I have charted my course of action, and I now have to have the confidence to see it through. If I had closed the browser, I would have known that it was better to walk away.

We often say "I will try" when we should say "Yes, I will do it or no, I cannot". Human Beings let the ring of "self doubt" champion their efforts. Could it that we use this "crutch" because we don't want to disappoint friends and peers? Is better that we tried than if we had say "no"?

I have reread the above paragraphs several times after writing them. I still don't think I have a full appreciate of it. Humans are complex creatures. Nothing is ever simple as "Do or do not".


Sharing on thought at time,

The Cool Down Runner