Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Memories from '13 and more


Well, the year ’13 is just about wrapped so it must be time for me to do my yearly rear view mirror post. It is so hard to believe that another year has passed.

Time speeds by so quickly. It seems like just yesterday that my daughters would just a barely walking. Now, they can walk me to death at the mall.

’13 was great year because Stan and Jinnie and Ben and Megan brought another generation of runners into the world. I look forward to seeing them grow into awesome individuals and awesome runners if they so choose to be.

’13 was great in other ways too. I saw a runner coming of age. How many years has it been since Mark and Alana started coming to races around Charlotte. There was a time when she would go out hard but fade back after a mile or so. Now, she goes out hard and fades into the distance ahead me as I watch her go.

Life moves on and we should make the most of it while we can.

Before getting to my racing highlights, I thought I would share some of the numbers from my ’13 training regimen. I averaged over 77 miles per week for the entire year. My average long run was 19 miles as flagged in AthletiCore. I reached the 4000 mile mark with over a week to spare. I spent an untold number of hours running this year. But if I could do some quick math – based on an 8 minute pace, I would have run for roughly 547 hours or 13 weeks. Broken down by 52 weeks, I averaged 10 hours of running per week. It seems like a lot doesn’t it.

My ’13 season started early with the Frosty 25k in Winston Salem on a course around Salem Lake. The weather was cold but I had a good day. With a temperature of 25 degrees at race time, sweating wasn’t a concern.

Feb saw me racing Thomas down East Blvd during the Cupids Cup 5k. All the while gazing ahead to see  Aaron and Billy matching surges several hundred yards ahead.

Feb also saw me hanging with Bubbles the Elephant at the Myrtle Beach ½ marathon. Just a mile in to the race, my shoe lace came loose and I ran with it that way the rest of the race. Running 1:17 while trying to keep one shoe on is pretty good don’t you think?

In March, I ran two races: Wrightsville Beach Marathon and the Lake Norman 10k. March had been cool all month long. That is right up to the race morning when it was 60 degrees. I was sweating by the time that I hit the 2 mile point. Once the sun came up, I felt like a well done turkey. A couple of weeks later at the 10k, I ran the hills of Huntersville. This was a small 10k, but it was fun and good to see Allen and Laura at the event.

April was a busy month for me. First, Caitlin and I raced together at the BBT 8k in Greensboro. She ran up the hills like a mountain goat. I poured it on to catch back up on the downhills. The last mile was pretty much all up hill and she put on a move that I just couldn’t match.

The Tar Heel 10 miler was next. Michael and I exchanged moves throughout the race.  Then, there is long hill during the 8 and 9 miles where he put a gap on me. I made some of it up once we were over the top but not all of it. He beat me to the line by a scant few seconds.

My last race in April was the Sandy Feet 5k. I don’t remember the number of years that have passed since I last raced in Matthews.  The course had changed but the new one is a bit better except for the run up Fullwood. This part is still tough.

During May, I ran just two races. The first one was the Beach Blast 5k in Albemarle. For whatever the reason, I always enjoying running in Albemarle and catching up with my buddies. Peter always puts on a great race.

The following week, I headed to Mt. Holly for their 5k event. I remember we ran down, down, and more down for the first mile. Then, we went up, up, and really steeply up, over mile 2. Then, we turned sharply down hill before starting another climb back to the finish.

For the entire month of June, I ran track meets. The summer track series at high school was awesome, but trying to run every event was just plan crazy. I was so grateful to Jeff and Stan for running the events with me. But boy was I tired and sore. The first couple of weeks, I can barely run from the soreness.  Since Tuesday nights were not enough, I throw in the Jim Law 1500 and 5k on the track on one Friday night. We had just a few people in the 1500. By contrast, I ran the 5k solo. There is nothing like having everyone stare at me while I clicked off lap after lap on the UNCC track.

In July, I ran the Beat the Heat 5k and our CRC Summer Track Series. They call it beat the heat for a reason, but every year, it feels more like the heat beats me. I am always totally “gassed” by the end. Heck, I am usually totally “gassed” by 2 miles.

The first year of our CRC Summer Track Series was great, and I wish that I could have run it more than just one week. But this lone week, I was able to run 2 mile time trial in 11:01. Supporting an event can be its own reward as well and it helps our club to have an extra set of hands.

In early August, I got this email from Peter about his Trifecta Series. I thought why not. First, I ran Tour De Elvis 5k finishing second. We actually ran the course a little different and I liked it better. I don’t know if I can get Peter to keep it that way for future races but here’s trying.

Next was the YMCA Community 8k. They have this hill challenge in the first 3 miles of course so I had to try for it. I was so totally “gassed” by 3 miles. The rest of the way, I was just surviving until the finish.  However, I did win the polka dot shirt.

Intermixed in the Trifecta series, I ran the Charleston 15 miler. They say what doesn’t kill you then makes you stronger. I am not sure how true this is but the Charleston course definitely will test anyone.

My quads were totally smashed by the time that I reached 8 miles. The rest of the race, I was in cool down mode.

A couple of weeks later and hoping for some September cool weather, I ran the Badin Run the Valley 10k. This was the first time that I did the 10k. I have always done the ½ marathon which is one of the toughest ½ marathons around.

Just so you know, the 10k runs over part of the ½ marathon course so it isn’t much easier.

I did, however, pick up the RRCA-NC 10k Championship for my efforts as well as winning the Trifecta Championship. I really have to say “thanks” to Peter for coming up with these out landaus ideas for us runners and then making them a reality.

Oct saw me in full on racing mode. Early October, I ran the Wine Glass Marathon in 2:46. The heat was not bad but the humidity and the “Nats” were terrible. I had these huge black spots on my arms and jersey where I ran through just swarms of them along the course.

I guess during this race came my tough moment of the year. Someone yells to me that the 8th place guy is just in front of me at 25 miles. I cannot tell because of all the ½ marathoners. I tried to surge. At first my legs start to go then they fold. I realize that I need to focus more on finishing than catching this guy so I let off the throttle. With maybe ¼ mile to go, 2 guys bolt past me. When someone passes, I look to see who it is. I realized that they both are Masters’ runners so they are in my age group. However, there is very little that I can do about it. My legs simply have nothing left.  It made for a long drive back from Corning, NY.

Bad things happen for a reason. The best approach is to push them to the side and keep moving forward.

A couple of weeks later, I am at the Big South 5k. I am finding more and more that people seem to just launch off the line at 5ks these days. I cannot seem to match them anymore.

About a mile into the race I catch Dalena. Peeking at the turns, I know she is close behind me, and I run hard over the next two miles so I can avoid what I know is coming. No such luck. We come off the last corner and she goes flying by me. Even better the finish line photographer captured the moment so I can remember it forever.LOL.

I finished off October by running the OCCAAF 5k in Stalling, NC. Warren, the event’s race director, had reached out to me about organizing a race, and I sent him some pointers as well as suggesting that he get a timing company involved. While I was at the race, Warren asked if I would be willing to hand out the awards. I gladly accepted. Being an award presenter is awesome experience to me. Getting to congratulate each person that comes up to receive their overall or age group award is so very important.

With so many good races under my belt, most people might think that I would call it a year. Actually, I was just getting started.

During November, I ran ½ marathon and marathon on successive weekends, then skipped a week before running Santa Scramble and the Turkey Dash on Thanksgiving Day.

The City Of Oaks ½ marathon was a tough race. I thought I was ready but I took a different kind of Gu during the race. Within a couple of miles, I felt bad. Then, between the hills and the Gu, I really didn’t shake if off until the 10th mile of the race. That’s when I started to find my legs again.

My recovery was short and sweet because six days later I was headed to the Outer Banks for my six straight OBX marathon. I tried to rest up as much as possible. I don’t know how much it really helped. I jumped in after a mile so with Michael and a couple of other guys. We tore through the first 10 miles in well under an hour. I hit the dirt roads of the Nags head trails and I knew I had probably buried myself. I ran some slow miles during this 3 mile section before returning to some decent miles once back on the paved roads.

From there, I was just holding the wheels on with both hands. Things were going well until I ran up the bridge headed for Manteo. The bridge was like the last straw. I was basically in survivor mode the rest of the way to the finish.

Two weeks later, I ran what is my favor race to do – Santa Scramble in Concord, NC. There is nothing like running in front of so many people. I cannot explain why but when I might otherwise ease off a bit during a race, the energy from the crowd keeps me digging hard.

I would wrap my season up with a 3rd place finish at the Turkey Dash race in south charlotte. This was a first year race and they were having their growing pains. I also felt my own pains during the race. I ran the first couple of miles with the Turkey Dash – Turkey before watching him slowly pull away. This was my last race of the year and it was a good thing. My tank was empty and in needs of some long easy recovery miles to rebuild my strength.

Since I injured my hamstring a couple of years ago, I felt like I have lost a few steps. Things like getting out fast for a 5k or maintaining a long steady beat of 6 minutes miles just seems to be beyond my reach this past year.

The march of time waits for no man. I know I am slower and I know that I will be slower still with each passing day. All runners face the prospect of slowing down, but how they face this ugly monster will define more about them as a runner than anything else.

The same enthusiasm that made me a runner so many years ago is still the same enthusiasm that sent me out the door yesterday, sent me out the door today, will send me out again tomorrow, and will do so the day after.

 

’13 Rearview mirror,

The Cool Down Runner

Saturday, December 28, 2013

10,000 Consective Daily Runs



The date was October 19th, 1986, and my college dormitory was rather quiet for a Saturday night. A few hours earlier, I had returned from a local road race at Pipestem State Park. Little did I know on this very evening that I would make a decision which would alter the rest of my life. This was not a decision that was earth shattering or that changed the course of human history. I wanted to be a better runner. Running more seemed like the logical way to become this better runner. As I pondered how to accomplish this desire, the same thought kept coming back over and over again. I needed to run every day through the flu, the sickness, the heat, the cold, the rain, the sleet, the snow, the ice, and the injuries. Basically, I set forth on a plan of action to adapt and overcome any obstacle that stood in my way of becoming a better runner.
Well, the years went by and I never thought much about my daily runs. Running became like breathing for me. I just did it and went on with the rest of my day.
For lack of any better reason, this is still the premise that pushes me out the door each and every day. I want to be the best possible runner that I can be.
Recently, I begin to wonder how many days were in my current daily running streak.
On March 5th at 6:30 PM at the Triple C Brewery, I would like to invite everyone to run with me on my 10,000 day of continuous daily runs. The pace will be easy as I want to enjoy the moment and share it with my running friends.


Run with me, 

The Cool Down Runner

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Frank Shorter Shorts

Any time, I see an NBA video from the 80s; the first thing that jumps out to me is how short the shorts are compared to today’s NBA players. The inseam couldn’t have been more than 7 or 8 inches. Today, NBA players wear shorts that hang nearly down to their knees.

The same can be said for runners from the '80s. Trends and styles have changed so much. Finding the short, hip split shorts for runners is nearly impossible for a runner like me. Most of my daily running shorts cover nearly half my thigh. Luckily, I have run for a long time and I have several pairs from yester years in my collection so I keep them for race day.

What bring me to this topic? Well, during the Thunder Road Marathon Expo, I was checking out the different venders and stumbled across a pair Frank Shorter shorts. They were the "throwback" style shorts with the split running nearly the the hip. They had been $36 dollars but Run For Your Life had marked down 50%.

I checked the size, and they were perfect for me so I snatched them up.

This week, I finally got around to running in them. The feel was awesome. There is something about the high cut split hip that just makes my legs feel like they are moving faster.

I don’t know about the rest of the world, but I want them to bring this style back and keep them around permanently.

If you get a chance, search Google for the details on them and try a pair. See if they don’t make your legs feel like they are just moving faster.

 

Sharing one thought at time,

The Cool Down Runner

Friday, December 20, 2013

Experia Crew Running Socks

The guys at Thorlo were kind enough to send me a pair of their Experia Crew Running Socks. I have been wearing them regularly for several weeks now – yes, I have been washing them between each wearing. Before writing about them, I wanted to make sure that I tried them out both running and cycling. This way, I used them in different shoes, in different conditions both inside and out.

The socks have a nice feel to them. They don’t have the same level of padding that my normal mini crew Thorlo socks have, and this is something that I would really like to see Thorlo create. For general running, the mini crews are great. However, when I am racing, I would like to have extra cushioning in mid foot and heel that come with the mini crew. But I would like it with cut that the Experia have. My reasoning orginiates in the make up of most racing flats. Most racing shoes are about as minimalistic as possible when it comes to the sole of the shoe.  My older feet don't the extra pounding.

As for the crew style of sock, if I had my preference, I would select Thorlo’s over the calf version rather than the crew version. I always like the entire calf being covered. This is for two reasons. First, the cover the calf version gives me "near" compression feel. Second, of the shape of my calves, the crew style tends to slip down which is annoying during a run.

One thing will say about Thorlo, they have a multitude of colors for the Experia. For some unknown reason, I like have different color socks. Don’t ask me why? I just do.

Anyway, if you get a chance, check them out. If you are looking for a nice sock for racing or tempo runs, the Experia Brand is a great fit it. I use the Experia Bran for anything less than a half marathon.

 

Happy Holidays

The Cool Down Runner

Thursday, December 19, 2013

24 miles as part of the Huntersville Holiday Half


The weather man warned me that the last Saturday was going to be miserable, and this had nothing to do with the fact that I was running 24 miles.
The real challenge would be in conquering the cold and the rain.
Saturday morning started out with Mike and me running 10 miles prior to running the 1/2 marathon. The skies were mostly threatening and only once do I remember rain coming landing on us.
We finished the first 10 miles in 74 minutes or about 7:25 pace. I then made my way over to the half marathon start which was by Fleet Feet.
There were a lot of familiar faces in the crowd: Paul, Jay, Joe, John, Dennis, etc.
Bear played our national anthem and we were soon on our way.
While I had already run 10 miles, my legs still had some bounce in them them. However, my tail lights started glowing when I started dropping 6:50s. Let's not do anything crazy today.
We cruised through the neighborhoods and by Chris and Karin’s home. Next up, we worked hill after hill after hill. Near Gilead Rd, I came up on a runner that was walking. As I passed him, I realized that it was Jeremy.
I encouraged him to run with me but he said that his legs were done.
More hills behind the elementary school and along Stumptown Rd were now taking their toll on my legs. The friskiness from early miles was all but dead. I took some Gatorade in hopes that it would revive them.
After the “traffic circle”, one single thought rang in my head. Let’s get to this done. The rain had been falling for several miles now and I was cold and tired and “soaked”.
The Huntersville half marathon course is not an easily one. Tack on the 10 additional miles, I believe I enjoyed more than my fair share of hills for one day.
With just over 2 hours and 50 minutes of running for 24 miles, I enjoyed a nice walk back to my car and some warm dry clothes.
30 or 40 minutes later I made my way over to Chris and Karin’s home for their after race party. This was really nice of them to invite us over. I was certainly very appreciative. I was mostly staying by the fire because I was still shaking pretty bad.
Also I wanted to share that Karin has done an awesome job decorating their home. This was my first visit and I was very impressed. It just has the feel that this is a “home”.
Asside from the cold, the rain, the hills, I really did enjoy it.
Happy Holidays
The Cool Down Runner

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Nothing like a tail wind.

Sorry, but I have been busy. It is the holiday season, and I found that my time is monopolized by so many good things to do. Thus, I don’t have much time to set down and write.

But I am back to day and talking about the benefits of a tail wind.

Anyone that has done much running realizes how much better life is running with the wind at you back rather than in your face.

This effect was brought home to me during my last two tempo runs. Tuesday a week ago, I headed out for my 14 mile tempo run and during the first 7 miles I faced a stiff head wind. When I turned around, the effort seemed the same but low and behold; I was running 15 to 20 seconds faster per mile. Man, did this make me feel good.

Fast forward to my run this Tuesday, the wind was blowing just as hard but it was blowing in the opposite direction.

I was “killing” those first 7 miles. The thoughts resonated through my head that this was going to be an awesome run. Then, I made the turn. Suddenly, all those feel good miles turned into push harder and just hold on.

I sought shelter from the wind at every corner that I could find.

But true to form, my splits were off by 15 to 20 seconds per mile.

Overall, I was still 30 seconds faster or 2 seconds faster per mile.

Having experienced the benefits of a tail during the first 7 miles and the last 7 miles of my tempo, I have to say that I much prefer it during the second half of the workout.

Getting just the little nudge from the wind helps keep my body moving and help my fight off the effects of fatigue and lactic acid build up.

Well, this a wrap on this one,

Happy Holidays,

The Cool Down Runner

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Weekly tempo

Okay, so this training cycle I decided to limit my stressor workouts to one long tempo run and one long run. Yesterday just happened to be my long tempo day.

 I hit the first mile in 7:30 and was feeling every bit of it. My body just seems to take forever to get loose. Mile 2 was 6:59. From there, I never ran another mile slower than 6:52 for the next 12 miles. I will say the last two miles did feel rough. My legs were feeling the sting of the wind standing me up. My elapse time for the entire 14 miles was an hour and 34 minutes so I am pretty happy with the result. I am early in the process, and I am trying to build a strong foundation for a solid ’14 racing effort. I feel these are good first steps.

Sharing one thought at a time,

The Cool Down Runner

Monday, December 9, 2013

Turkeys run 7:30 pace

So once upon a time, the Cool Down Runner and Jeff were finishing up a run at the Huntersville Business Park. They  had just made the left on to Vanstory Dr. when they saw a couple of turkeys crossing the road. Now, this is not unusual because while this may be a business park, animals are abound – especially turkeys and deer.

Well, the Cool Down Runner and Jeff pass by the turkeys when Jeff starts doing his best Turkey imitation call. Well, these two most have liked Jeff’s calls because instead of heading further into the woods, they changed direction. They started following and eventually catch the Cool Down Runner and Jeff. Now, you have to understand. The Cool Down Runner and Jeff were not walking. They were running and running along at a decent clip - about 7:30 pace finishing up their run.  Well, these two turkeys were matching Cool Down Runner and Jeff stride for stride. First, it was just a 100, then 200 yards. Cars passing by were slowing down to watch the two turkeys run alongside two runners.

For nearly, a half to three quarters of a mile these two turkeys maintained a study 7:30 pace before deciding that Cool Down Runner and Jeff were not interesting enough to follow any more. At which time, they headed off into the woods.

Now, I have run a lot places and encountered my fair share of animals, but I have had a turkey fall in alongside during a run before. To be honest, I didn’t even know that turkeys could run this fast.

Cannot wait for the next time when I can go for another turkey run.

 

Sharing one thought at time,

The Cool Down Runner

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Training vs. Racing

Something with in my DNA just makes me relish competition. Maybe this is why I race more often than I should. Perhaps, I race to the point of over racing. There are others that race more often than I do and race at just as many different distances.

When do I know that I have reached the point of over racing?

The signs will vary. However, the biggest red flag occurs when my breathing is fine but my legs refuse to go any faster.     

I know it is time to drop every stressful workout from my schedule and just put in some nice aerobic miles. The recovery time also varies. There are times when I bounce back in a couple of weeks. Other times, the bounce back takes 4 to 8 weeks. I have even gone on recovery periods for 3 or 4 months.

I know when I am ready to return to something much harder when I start to feel eager to run again.

This summer I would head out for a run and it would take me 15 to 20 minutes before I made the first stride. I push through it because I had a full load of races that I had registered to run. But in the back of my mind, it nagged at me. I would run as hard as I could but I was not sure that I was giving my best. I was not preparing myself properly.

 This is a struggle we all face in Carolinas. The weather is ideal pretty much year round so there are a plethora of races.

The desire to race can overrule the common sense logic that a training run might be better for me than a race.

 

Sharing one thought at time,

The Cool Down Runner

 

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Running every day vs. running 24 hours straight.

Rob and I were having a conversation about his 24 hour run this coming weekend. I told him that I could never run 24 hours straight. After running 26 miles, I am pretty tired. I cannot image reaching the 26 mile mark of a race and saying to myself – “you are a quarter of the way done, just 75 more miles to go”.

Of course, his response was that “he couldn’t run every day”. I definitely understand what he was saying. Running every day is difficult but at least I have roughly 21 to 23 hours to recover between most runs.

I guess we each pick our poison. With the bottom line being we are all happy.

Sharing one thought at time,

The Cool Down Runner

Monday, December 2, 2013

Turkey Dash Four Miler

Thanksgiving Day saw the temperature in Charlotte dip down to 21 degrees, and with the clear skies and shining sun, the Turkey Dash 4 miler would be run with a temperature hovering just under 30 degrees by race time.

Sporting arm sleeves along with compression shorts and socks to stay warm, I was ready to run standing at the starting line.

Three guys sprinted out quickly for the first quarter mile or so. I watched as Ben settled in behind them. He pushes past them maybe a half mile into the race. I pass them just before the first mile mark. My Garmin chimes as we pass the mile. Someone ask if my Garmin was sounding the mile. I reply “Yes”, but in looking over, I see this guy dressed as a Turkey running next to me.

For some reason, I thought first mile would be mostly downhill going along on Rea Rd to Audrey Kell Rd. I make a mental note for next time– it is not.

The 5:36 first mile does not feel so bad, but I can see that Ben is expanding his lead. The Turkey and I hit the second mile in 5:51. I realize why. We are slowing down. Granted we are also climbing the hill behind the Blakeney Shopping Center. I do not feel out of breathe but my legs – especially my quads – feel really tight. The Turkey pulls a head of me on the climb. I am frustrated that my quad are feeling so tight but I am equally frustrated that I am being beation by someone dressed in a Turkey costume. The saddest part, I cannot do much about it.

Reaching the top of the hill, I try to raise my pace coming down the hill but I am having no luck. My third mile was 6:11. The reason being it is more about my legs than my lungs. Finally, I am back out on Rea Rd and heading for the finish. The Turkey is far enough in front of me that I am not going to chase him down in the final half mile.

My legs just feel totally gassed. I hit a 6:01 for the last mile and finish with a time of 24:03. This was a far cry from the 23 minutes that I hoped to run.

I finish 3rd overall and was beaten handily by a Turkey on Thanksgiving Day.

I find out that the Turkey’s name is Dan and he and his wife just recently moved to Charlotte form Colorado Springs. He is pursuing his masters’ degree and works at TrySports. Seems like a really nice guy. And,  I cannot hold a grudge.

With my yearly to-do list of running one Santa race and one Turkey Trot race checked off, I am ready to step away from racing for while and enjoy the holidays.  

 

Happy Holidays

 

Sharing one thought at time,

The Cool Down Runner