Saturday, June 29, 2013

2nd Group Ride in a year

I always enjoy going done to the Rea Road TrySports and getting in their group rides. There are multiple groups and lots of riders. Riding in a large group is more fun but also a little more dangerous. There are more people to make a mistake and have an accident. Of course riding on open rides is inherently dangerous. Now, don’t take this as I am all doom and gloom about riding. Bigger group rides are also in my opinion easier. There is more than enough people willing to do the “yeomen” effort on the front which means I can get in a hard ride, a good workout, and come out all the better for it at the end.

Wednesday’s ride was just such a ride until the thunder, lightening, and rain rolled in around Waxhaw. We had completed the “Rehobeth” hill and were coming around the back side of Waxhaw when the rain started to pour. Before we left Waxhaw the streets soaked and the rooster tail spray from wheels were kicking up into my face.

Like I said earlier riding can be dangerous, but riding in the rain is worse. The narrow tires have nothing to grip so there is no leaning my bike going into curves. Mainly, I just like to keep it going in a straight line and when I have I have to make a turn, I take it very carefully.

I guess the group was feeling the need to push along and get to the finish. I don’t blame them at all.

However, the risk was a little more than I was ready to accept. I drifted off the back and made my way safely back to TrySports. The next day I need to run and didn’t care to be nursing any road rash from an accident.

Funny, the summer storm soaked the roads of Waxhaw, but as we neared Rea Rd the roads were dry. This crazy summer time weather means I can be in the middle of a storm one minute and riding on bone dry roads the next.

Even riding solo over the closing miles, I still averaged 19 mph in only my second group ride in nearly 2 years.

I am not sure if I am going to do their group rides every week. The every other week option seems to be working well for me now.

Take the opportunity and join in for the next TrySports group ride. Wednesday nights will be different from now on.


Sharing one thought at time,

The Cool Down Runner



Thursday, June 27, 2013

Summer Track Wk#4 (Make Up Week)

Last week, I had to travel for work so there was no way for me to get into the 4th week of Summer Track. Then, the running gods smiled down on me and rained/thundered down on everyone else last Tuesday night. They had to cancel the evening events which pushed everything back one week.

Thus, week #4 really week #5 happened on Tuesday night.

Going into the evening my real concern was that I had lost my “mojo”. After 3 weeks of Summer Track, I was starting to find my rhythm. Missing a week, I was definitely concerned that I might not have it.

Tom announced that they were run 3 heats of the mile. Awesome, then the bad news came. The first heat would be 5 minutes and under. I could have probably gotten away with running, but I know my limits. I am not running a sub 5 minute mile.

Waiting for the next heat wasn’t all that bad. I got to watch “Fam” run a 4:08 mile. I saw some great runs by Paul and Jeff. I saw a huge battle between John and Billy. All in all, it was great watching them run, but now it was my time to run.

A group of guys jumped out fast, but they slowed by the end of the first lap. I took the lead and ran as hard as I could for the next three laps. This one kid set just off my shoulder and made his move coming to the finish. He just nipped me at the line. I ran 5:13 which was just a second slower than two weeks ago.  

Still breathing hard, I started the next heat. My legs were still wobbly, but I finished in 5:45.

It took some convincing but I got Stan and Clayton to run the 400 with me. They were in the next two lanes from me. Clayton and Stan both have some speed. I was closing on Stan a little but I just couldn’t make up the stagger. He probably ran a 70 to my 71.

Riding the confidence that I hadn’t lost too much of my “mojo”, I thought I could run a sub 2:30 for the 800. I went through the 400 in 74, but couldn’t close the deal. I ended with a 2:30. Still this is respectable for me, but not what I wanted. I wanted that sub 2:30.

This was followed by the 200. Here, I am not sure why I do the 200. The hurt is over pretty quick, but since I am pretty slow at the 200, I don’t think it counts. Everyone pulls away from me. I finish with a 36 which is actually slower pacewise than I ran the 400.

Ending the evening was the 2 mile. By now, I am already feeling the heaviness in my legs and I was still breathing hard from the 200 that I had just run.

The first 2 laps were run at 6 minutes while I found my “norm”. Then, I started to feel better. The laps clicked off and I passed a few people. I finished with an 11:45. This was one of my slowest times for the Summer Track series.

As with most Tuesday nights in June, I slept well. My eyes were closed the minute that my head hit the pillow.

Big thanks to Tom D. for his efforts. However he did it, the 50 and 100 heats went by so fast that we actually were right on time for the start of the first mile heat.  

Appreciate Jeff, Stan, and Clayton for helping me through my Runner’s “Hat Trick” of events.

Next week is championship week so I have to see how it goes. If they hold the open events, I will definitely jump into as many as I can. I want to run under 2:30 if at all possible. I just need to go out faster.


Sharing one thought at time,

The Cool Down Runner



Friday, June 21, 2013

Jim Law Track Meet

I am running a little behind in my reports because I have so much going on at the moment. However, before the details fade from my mind, I wanted to recap my efforts at the Jim Law Track meet held at UNCC on June 14, 2013.

The meet is organized by the Charlotte Flights Track & Field Club. Yes, this is the same club that also does the RFYL life events over at Myers Park. The truth be told, I didn't even know about this event until Butch told me about it the previous Tuesday. Not having any plans for Friday evening, I thought it would be great way to spend the evening. Lying in the sunshine on a grass field watching people run and getting do a little running myself. What's not to like.

Yep, this was pretty much how the evening went down.

After showing a little of my rookie stripes, I missed getting my lane assignment for the 1500. I was set. Just before the start, they listed the names of each entrant in the 1500. I have to say it was pretty nice seeing my name up in lights. I have to figure how to make it happen more often.

The gun fires and we are off. Wait! Hold up. We go maybe 20 yards and they yell fast start. What? Who false starts in the 1500? Actually, it wasn't the runners that false started. The tracking system failed to record the firing of the gun. Then after a few test firing, we were back at the line.

This time we were clean and green. I went hard right from the start. My goal was to break 5 minutes. The first lap, I was little head of pace. The second lap, I was on pace. The third lap, I was still on pace. Each lap, I could feel the strong head wind coming down the front stretch but enjoy the nice push heading down the back stretch.

I came off the last turn and was churning toward the finish. There were several people in the 1500 but I was solo in my efforts. I am trying to push to the finish but I feel my legs tying up.

Then, I hear Jay Rao yelling at me from the stands to "lift your knees". I thought I was lifting my knees but I guess not enough. The thought registers, and I start lifting my knees higher. My running feels easier. I flash across the line in 4:55 which is roughly the same pace as I ran on Tuesday night 5:12.

Next up is the 5000 in just over an hour and twenty minutes.

I spend the time lying on a towel in the infield. All the time, I switch between watching the clouds pass over head and watching the 400 hurdles and the 200.

Finally, the time comes to warm up again and to race. I am truly solo for the 5000. I have run some small races but I have never run a race solo. Running a 5000 solo is hard but strangely easier. There is no one there to push me but then there is no one there to beat me either. I run what feels comfortable and the laps click off. Mile one goes by. Then 6 laps are down and finally 10 laps are in the books.

Here's where things get a little funky. I run lap 10 which should give me 2 and ½ laps to go, but when I come by, the lap counter shows 1 lap and the guy rings the bell. According to my lap counter on my Garmin, I should have 2 more laps.

I run what they call lap 12.5 and finish in 16:33. I have to be honest with myself. I couldn't run a 16:33 even if I was being chased so I know it was their counting that was off and not my counting.

And since I am solo I keep going for another lap. More realistically I finish with a time of 17:53 which "let's be honest" is more in line with my running.

I walk for another lap and then head over to gather my stuff from the infield.

These guys do a nice job with this meet. I will definitely think about coming back next year.


Sharing one thought at time,

The Cool Down Runner





Thursday, June 20, 2013

CPR Certified

We all go through life while enjoying our daily runs. Most of us don't realize that running puts a huge amount of stress on our hearts. This stress combined with the rest of life's struggles, and heart attacks happen for more often than any of us would care to admit.

Then, there were the recent events in Boston which let us know just how fragile life really is.

With a little nudge from one of my fellow board members and I was started down the path of organizing CRC's first CPR training initiative. We had several members take part in the online course and then attend one of the two practical training sessions. I attended the session last night and received my CPR certification.

I had the distinct honor of going last so everyone was watching me. I followed all of the procedures and I went through the entire 2 minutes or 5 sets of the 30/2 cycles which is how CPR training goes now. I am not sure why I was so nervous, but I was. I guess with everyone watching, and being the one organizing it, screwing up wasn't an option for me.

My last CPR training was in college so it has been a while. Last night's session reminded me of a couple of things. Even thou, I was to do 5 sets of CPR and then check for breathing. I found myself losing count of the number of sets. I was concentrating so hard on 30/2 cycles that I wasn't sure if I was on the 4th or 5th set. The other thing was the effort needed to perform CPR. CPR doesn't look like it would require much, but after a full two minutes, I was sweating and this was inside not outside in the heat and humidity.

I would like to thank Tony Benz for his help in organizing our course. Tony works for "Select Physical Therapy" and provides training for many groups. To contact Tony, his email is and his phone number is 704.564.6381.

Our online CPR course was handled via the Red Cross which offers many training session options. Check them out to get CPR certified.

Remember, with just a hours of time and training a life can be saved. This is a rewarding investment unlike any 401k option out there.


Sharing one thought at time,

The Cool Down Runne




Friday, June 14, 2013

Summer Track WK #3

I made my way down to Myers Park High School Track for week number three of the Summer Track Series. During third week they typically substitute the 5k for the 2 mile run. This left me on the fence about how many events that I was going to do.

As the track meet start drew closer, I finally decided on skipping the 100 and 200. This left me running multiple heats of the mile, then the 400, 800, and 5k. This wasn't a whole lot different from the previous weeks but still, the work load is pretty stiff. After all, there is still over 5 miles in hard running.

We were called to the line for the first heat of the mile. I stay with my game plan and hit the first lap hard. I pass Billy Shue during this lap but honestly was expecting him to come roaring back by me.

Lap 2 goes in the book, I look at the clock. I know I am running faster, but it isn't easy. I hear them announcing that Billy is behind me. Still the expectation lingers that he will go flying by me any second.

We come around for the 3 lap. I am just under 4 minutes. Again I hear them calling out Billy's name. I know it is possible for him to blow by me at any second. However, this doesn't mean that I will make it easy for him.

Going down the back stretch, I found the oxygen to push harder. Then, coming off the final turn, I can see the clock ahead. My arms are pumping and my legs are churning. Each stride carries me closer to the finish. Finally, I lean across the line in 5:12. This is 6 seconds better than last week and a full 12 seconds better than week one. My lungs are still trying to process enough oxygen as my heart rate slows. Wow! This was fun.

I am still recovering when we are called for the second heat of the mile. I come off the line but I quickly realize this isn't going to be good. I was not completely recovered from the first heat. My legs are churning but they feel weak. The laps click off but I don't have the energy to drive them forward. I run in the second position most of the heat but settle for 4 when a couple of guys pass me in the final run to the finish. This heat, I was slower than last week but the same as week one: 5:45.

I get a few minutes to recover while the 400 heats start. I am so luck. I am running with 4 other ladies who say they are planning to run the 400 in the 70 second range. Tom fires the gun and these ladies are gone. I was being honest with my expected 400 time. My plan was to run the 70 second time range which I did: 72. However these ladies were running like they stole something. They all ran in the 60 second range. I am last but finishing last is okay. To me, it is all about competing.

Next up is the 800. Everyone one is running in the same heat so there must have been 18 of us. My legs are still wobbly but I am determined. They created a gap but I was still trying to dig deep. One lap in I know I got this one. I start pushing harder. My legs are shaking with each stride. I come off the final turn and start looking for the clock. It ticks slowly toward the 2:30. I try to surge again but there is nothing left for me to surge with. I cross the finish line in 2:30. This is still 3 seconds faster than last week and nine seconds after than the first week of summer track.

While they are running the 200 heats, I switch out to a racing flat with a little more cushioning. I need the extra support.

The 5k is 12 and half laps of the track. Everyone gathers at the 200 meter mark to start to the 5k. Brad and Chris quickly put some distance on the field. I settle in to my spot and watch Matt and Scott battle back and forth in front of me. They are gapping me pretty good.

Six laps in Brad and Chris catch me. A couple of laps later Dan surges past me. Finally Chad surges past me. My last lap comes and I am happy to be finished. My time isn't anything earth shattering: 18:44. Later when I was looking at my splits: I realized that I ran 12 and half laps. Each lap varied on by a second – from 1:29 to 1:31.

"Shouts-outs" need to be given to Danelle, Andrea, Jinnie, and CSB for their support on each lap that we ran. When I am hot and tired, even the smallest bit of support can make me feel better. Also Jinnie took some great pictures of us racing down the back stretch.

I have to give another "shout out" to Stan. He was running on a sore hamstring. Here's hoping that he improves before next week.

Without them Tim, Tom, and the entire crew from RFYF, this would not be possible so "Thank You"!!!!


Sharing one thought at time,

The Cool Down Runner

Thursday, June 13, 2013

On the Bike again

Nearly 2 years has passed since I have spent any significant time on my bike. After I pulled my hamstring in 2011 riding the bike was just too painful. However, with the weather man saying the Charlotte temperatures would be pushing in to the 90s, I really wanted to do some riding.

Last night, I ventured down for the regularly Wednesday TrySports group ride. I have ridden with these guys in the past so I know something about how the rides go and the course. I had no expectations of a great ride. I have only gone for a few really short rides and nothing hard.

Going into the ride, I thought it might be safe to ride with the "C" group, but then, I said "what the heck". Start with the "B" group and slide back to the "C" if I get dropped.

Mark kept the pace pretty solid and I drifted toward the back through the early part of the ride. Not spending much time on the bike or in a group ride, I didn't want my "rust" to cause an accident. 10 miles in to the ride sweat was running down my arms and off my helmet. Rolling along with the wind in my face on the bike felt awesome. We made the climb up to Waxhaw and I felt good. After a brief regroup at "Nicks", we hit the 2.5 mile Rehobeth hill climb. This would be my test and let me know if I still had any cycling legs. I rolled along with the guys as they were climbing. I felt good, strong, but winded. The regroup at the top was a much needed respite.

We then flew down the back side of Rehobeth and into Waxhaw. Here the group began to splitter into smaller sub groups. I got caught at a couple of lights on the way back and could never make up the distance.

There were three of us that rode back together. A nice little group where each of us was taking turns on the front.

Across the entire ride, we averaged a little over 18 mph. Not bad for my first ride group ride back.

Over the coming weeks, I am planning a few more rides and hopefully enjoy a few more of these sweltering summer evenings on my bike.

Everyone is welcome on the TrySports group rides. This includes TT bikes. They start at the Rea Rd store at 6:15. There is usually a "C" which rides around 15 to 16 mph. There's a "B" group that rides about "18". There is also a "B+" group that rides around 20+ and then there is an "A" group that rides over 23 mph.

The rides are pretty safe and the traffic is fairly light on most of the roads after 6pm.

Come out for an evening and check it out. I think the first Wednesday of each month is "Beer" night so after the ride, a frosty beverage awaits.


Sharing one thought at time,

The Cool Down Runner

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Testing one’s limits

I was watching the one of the several trailers for the new Superman movie and one of the lines from the trailer talks about "testing limits". Basically, what they were saying is that to know what a person's limits are, they have to attempt to surpass them.

Sounds simple doesn't it. I just keep pushing myself until I fail and that's where my limit is.

There is some truth here but the picture is completely painted with this analogy..

As a runner, I am constantly testing my limits. I want to try to exceed them. If I run a 5:24 mile, then I want to run a 5:18 mile, and then I want to run a 5:12.

But are these really limits are just hurdles that I hit on the way to my limit.

I think all limits are linked back to two areas: mental drive and then talent/training.

Training makes me better. It makes me stronger. It gives me a better chance of achieving my goal and overcoming my natural limits. Talent, well talent is just that. I freely admit that some people are just more naturally gifted to perform certain task betters than others. I cannot throw a baseball at 100 mph. I can probably shot 5 out 10 from the free through line. I could probably hit a golf ball several hundred yards, but I would hardly say that I am gifted at any of these sports or most any sport. I will also have to admit that I don't do any training for any of these sports so I should be expecting to "rock" the world.

Then, there is mental drive. Mental drive is an intangible asset that lies within all of us. Mental drive pushes us to excel. It makes us train hard and race even harder. More than a few times, I have see exceeding talented runners that my gut says have not raced up to their limits because they lack the mental drive to do it. This may sound like a criticism but it really isn't. I recognize that training hard and pushing their bodies just isn't a priority for them. There is nothing wrong with going through life this way. By all accounts, they are leading perfectly happy normal lives. But boy sometimes, I just wish they could see what I see and made the effort.

When I started writing this piece, I thought I knew what I wanted to say. However, as the words flew down and out my finger times, on to the key pad, and in this blog post, I realized something even more important.

Maybe the real limit factor in exceeding our limits is not mental or training or talent. Time is really the limit that we all "but" our heads against. A very few individuals actually earn enough income from their said sport full time. The rest of us fuel our love of physical activity around families and work primarily.

In the end, we all test our "limits" within the confines of the lives that we lead. Being happy, healthy, and enjoying life is what it is all about.


Sharing one thought at time,

The Cool Down Runner

Thursday, June 6, 2013

The almost Stan’s Workout

Tuesday was week 2 of the Summer Track Series at Myers Park High School. I must say that it was a blast. There were a lot more people running this week than last week. If I recall correctly, the number of people running topped 110.

That's an amazing total when you consider this a small event with minimal advertising for it. I guess "word of mouth" still carries a lot weight among runners. At least this is how I will frame it.

Days after last week's workout, my quads and hip flex were still sore. I feel that I can expect nothing less based on how Tuesday night's workout went.

Stan told me that he was planning to run all of the events – starting with the 100. A 100 meters, it has been forever since I last ran 100 meters. Honestly, I don't even want to recall.

Jeff and I swap lanes just before the start. Whether I ran in lane one or lane seven, I don't see my time being any different. Tom shoots the gun, and everyone is tearing down the track. I mean everyone. I was last in an outstanding time of 16 seconds. Stan gets me by at least a second or two.

Next up is the mile. I hit the first lap hard and then start slow slide down hill. I finish in 5:18 which is 6 seconds better than last week. Tim is a little slow gathering the cards for the results, and I finally ask Matt to give Tim my card. The second heat of the mile is lining up.

I jump in the back and head off. Jamaar, who I have not seen in months, rockets off the front. I end up 3rd or 4th after being passed in the 100 meters. I wish I had more to give but it wasn't happening.

I am turning in my position card when I realized that there was a 3rd heat of the mile. I wasn't paying attention so I didn't realize was that Bobby and Stan had jumped in to this heat.

They both looked strong and pushed each other to the finish.

Stan's up on me by one event now so I need to get back even. Bobby says that he and Nicole want to run the 4x100 relay. I quickly tell him that I am in. We get one other person and we are set.

I don't know where we finished in the 4x100. Running the relays is always special because it is the only event where everyone works as a team.

Next up was the 400. I don't know how many heats were run but it was a lot. Stan started in lane 1 and I started in lane 2. Stan pulls even with me by the 100 and slightly ahead of me during the 200 and 300 meter sections. I had my doubts if I could catch him but coming off the 4th turn, I found another gear. I just barely got past him at the finish while running 72 seconds.

This was a cool battle to the finish and racing against Stan made it even more fun.

Following the 400, comes the 800. The previous week, I knocked out a 2:38. This week, I ran a 2:33. I am not even sure where this 2:33 came originated. It was seconds faster than I ran in the mile.

Now, it was on to the 200 before the 2 mile. Clayton and Stan joined me for the 200. I never realized these two have a lot of good leg turnover. I ran 35 seconds, and they were both well in front of me.

Finally, the few, the proud, those running the 2 mile wondered on the track. Dusk was in full swing by now, so I left the sunglasses on the side lines.

Running the 2 mile should be easy – right? I mean; it is only 8 laps but it is 8 laps tacked on to the end of an already exhausting workout. We start and the guys quickly really stretch things out in front of me.

I am feeling okay but not great. I make it through the first mile, and I am starting to gauge my effort. 4 more laps are just in front of me.

After the first lap no one passes me and I don't pass anyone else. I settle into my place and just a 100+ meters or so in front of me is Billy.

I round the last corner and run an 11:33. I walk around to let my heart slow and let my breathing catch up.

The time is getting close to nine pm. I gather up my stuff and head toward my car. I am tired, and my quads are hurting already. They didn't even wait the customary 24 to 48 hours before the onset of DOMS.

Now, I need to give my legs a few days to recovery and to think about next week. I might be doing the same plan, but next week the final event is a 5k rather than a 2 mile. I am just wondering how much into the "well" that I want to go.

To find out, come out to Summer Track next Tuesday night and find out.


Sharing one thought at time,

The Cool Down Runner