Wednesday, December 31, 2014

'14 Another trip around the Sun


Having lived to complete another trip around the sun, the time has come to recap my year that was. Thinking back to my recap of ’13, I had no idea of what ’14 might offer. I never set any big goals for myself. Mainly during the year, I just ran the races that interested me the most.

Reminiscing about those races now, I am pretty happy with how things worked out.

In the shorter races, I ran 5 x 5ks during the year with the fastest being a 16:54 at the Big South 5k. I ran one 8k – the Winter Flight race that Dave Freeze directs. And wrapping up the year of shorter races, I ran one 10k. The Turkey Trot 10k in Cornelius.  A long the way, I had some great battles with Steve and Cory. They beat me in a few races and got them back in a few races. This is the kind of stuff that I love about running and competing.

Next, I hit the trail races more this year than any other. An 8 miler, a 6 miler, and ½ marathon all of these races were at the Whitewater Center. The job that Adam and Lindsey do with those races is awesome. Definitely, it is worth the short drive out 485.

Late spring and early summer saw me hitting the track. I hit an early one in April, and another one May. I scored some decent efforts at the Powerade Games, the Jim Law Invitational, the RFYL Summer Track Series, and Winston-Salem Track night. But the one race that I most wanted was the Ultimate Runner race organized by the Winton-Salem Track Club. Running the mile, 400, 800, 100, and 5k all in one evening was a true test one’s ability. Throw in that it was bucket list item for me. I couldn’t have been happier to do it, score the coveted Ultimate Runner Shirt, and get the all coveted mug for finishing in the top 15.

Perhaps my most rewarding moments was in the longer distance races. After looking back through my many years of running, there has never been a year where I ran 3 marathons, a 50k, and 2 half marathons. I did more races over 10 miles than I did under it.

 The year started with my running the Charleston Marathon in Charleston, SC. The day was going great for me right up to the point where I missed a turn and ran 2 extra miles. During the race and right afterward, I was really bummed about it. There is such a feeling of disappointment. At one point, I even considered dropping out. However, there was just something inside of me that made it just felt wrong. Instead, I got myself back on course at the right spot and finished the race with a 3:01.    

A month later, the cold, wind, and the rain made the Myrtle Beach one tough race. I was so happy getting the 1:19 that you wouldn’t believe. Another month passed, and I dropped a 1:18 at the Wrightsville Beach ½ marathon.

Skip ahead to September, and I was running the Leigh Marathon in Allentown, PA. I wanted so badly to run well to make up for Charleston. It just never materialized. I felt tired right from the start. When I hit the finish line in 2:51, I felt like I got better than I deserved. Flash forward 6 weeks, and I was standing at the starting line of the Spinx Marathon in Greenville, SC. Really, I was doing this race because it was bucket list item. I didn’t feel very good through out the race, but my legs kept digging. Approaching the stadium, I was totally surprised to see a 2:45 was possible. This was perhaps my best race in two and half years.

Most runners would have wrapped up their season after such a great performance. However, I felt like I still had something more in the tank. Off I went to the Derby 50k in Derby, NC. The Magnum Track Club put on this race every year, and they give a Derby Hat to the winner. Just so you know, I will sometimes chase certain races just for the awards. For years, I have chased the awards at the South Park Turkey Trot 8k in hopes of winning one of their elusive Turkey shaped awards. It has never happened, but it doesn’t stop me from trying. Winning a Derby hat falls right in line with the Turkey award or the Pelican from Kiawah Island half marathon. Race day was cold and sunny. For 6 miles, Mike and I shared the lead. When he stopped for water, I pushed on. I would run solo for the next 26 miles. I ended up winning by 30 minutes but truly, I never felt safe until I crossed the finish line. My new Derby hat now sets on my desk, and I put it on whenever I think about that day.

This covers all of the road, track, and trail races that I did. Though, I did step way outside the box this year by doing a Spartan Race. Quite possibly, this was the toughest event that I have ever completed. I was tired, sore, and covered from head to toe with mud when I crossed the finish line. I spent the next two week recovering from the upper body soreness. The more that I think about it, this may well have been my one and only Spartan race. I am definitely glad that I tried it, but I truly believe that I am a one and down type of guy when it comes to Spartan races.

This year also saw me finish out my second year as the Charlotte Running Club’s President, and then step away from the role. Being President was something that I thoroughly enjoyed, but I found that I enjoyed organizing events for CRC even more. With each event that I did, I learned and improved. From the All-Around Miler, to the CRC Summer Track night, to our Guinness World Record Tether Team, the events got bigger and hopefully better. ’15 starts tomorrow, and I am already working on some ideas for later in the year.

As I put ’14 to bed, I cannot help but appreciate all of the good things that I have accomplished. What ’15 offers, I cannot say, but I can only hope that ’15 brings me as many new adventures and opportunities as I can hope to handle.

Happy New Year,

The Cool Down Runner   

Monday, December 29, 2014

Guinness World Record Tether Team




There is only a few more days left in ’14, and before it finishes up, I need write my about my CRC Tether team experience.

After months of planning, worrying if I would get enough runners to make it happen, and then worrying if enough runners would show up on race morning, the big day finally arrived. I slept only a scant few hours during the night.

By 4:30 I was awake and pacing the floor. By 5 AM, I was headed toward to the race starting area. Getting moving allowed me to focus more on the things that needed to get done rather than the things that could go wrong.

After all, with nearly 200 runners willing to participate in this effort, I didn’t want to let anyone down.

Bear and I had a quick call which told me where to setup our tent. This would be just outside Fleet Feet. To combate the dark of these late winter mornings, I had outlined my tent with Christmas lights and a rotating blue light. For those that don’t know, I love lights. I have since I was a child. Thus, I can never have too many of them. It is just not possible.

Setting up the tent is pretty much standard for me these days. I have the solo sequence of the setup down pat.

By 6 AM runners were starting to arrive. Between then and the race start, time literally flew by. Much of it was spent sharing information, demonstrating how to put on the belt and attach the carabineer, and mark off runners as they arrived.

At 7:30 AM I spent 10 minute updating the stewards and line captains of their roles and responsibilities. Passing out the bungee cord for each line was the easy part.

Finally, the time arrived for us to get started.

As I walked over to the starting area, I breathed a huge sigh of relief. Everyone was lined up and ready go.

The 5k started and I waited for all of the racers to clear the starting line before we began to move.  

For the next 3.1 miles, we would run/walk. The stewards did a great job making sure everyone participated and was safe. The runners sang songs but most important paid attention to those around them and had a great time.

I have watched the video of us finishing a hundred times. I am still amazed. The crowd roar was awesome. The runners were so excited.   Heck, I was on cloud nine.

The feeling of accomplishment is just beyond explanation for me. Bringing a Guinness World Record to Charlotte and making a whole bunch of runners in to World Record Holders, I could not ask for a better way to end up my CRC Presidency or finish up the ’14 year.

Afterwards, I just wanted to hang out with the entire team and soak up the atmosphere.

What an amazing experience. I am so appreciate of everyone that helped me make this happen.
 
Here's a link to the video of our record settting accomplishment.

 

Happy Holidays,
The Cool Down Runner

 

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Unbroken


Last night I saw the prescreening of the movie “Unbroken”.  Let me just say if you are interested in being entertained for a couple of hours, this is not the movie for you.

If you want to watch how one man survives despite what this world throws at him, you will find your time well spent.

This movie is set during the World War Two period of Louis Zamperini’s life but flashes back to his time as a child growing up, to his running track in high school, and to his participation in the ’36 Olympics.  The majority of the movie is spent watching him drift on a raft in the Pacific Ocean and later in a Japanese prisoner of war camp.  

Both were such difficult situations and so hard to fathom that it is difficult for me to understand why he just didn’t just give up. This would have been the easy way out. However, something tells me that he never looked for the easy way. He had a personal inner strength inside of him that drove him to stay alive.

We all have this same inner strength. Living up to Louie Zamperini ‘s example should be a goal for us all.

 

Sharing one thought at time,

The Cool Down Runner   

Monday, December 15, 2014

Ugly Sweater Run


Ugly Sweater Run

Getting out of bed early on a Sunday morning never gets any easier, but yesterday morning, I was making my way down to south Charlotte for Phyllis’ Ugly Sweater Run.

Rolling in the parking lot lit only by the street lights, what better way to start my run. The temperature hovered in mid 30s which was just cold enough to make my hands feel numb during the early miles.

Circling back by the parking lot after 5 miles, Richard and Sharon were ready to head out for a quick run before we all started the Ugly Sweater Run. While we often see each other before and after races, we rarely run together so I enjoyed catching with them albeit brief period of time.

Returning with just a few minutes to spare, it was time for a shoe change. My goal for this run was to have an easy 8 miles and then tempo the 12 miles of the Ugly Sweater Run.

Phyllis provides some course instructions, and Peter handled starting logistics. Even before we crossed the bridge; runners had broken in to small packs. Most were dressed in the some sort of Christmas sweater. I found myself running next to this guy that towered over me. In fact, the thought occurred to me that 3 of my strides were equivalent to just one of his strides.  Inching head, there was a small gap between us at the first turn around. He pulled even as we started hitting the board walks again.

Just past this section, I started inching head again. My breathing was well under control, and my legs felt fine. Catching a couple of splits on my Garmin which were in the 6:24 range, this was a pace that was perfect for me to maintain the entire way.

Having the miles marked off in quarters is the nice part about using the greenway. Every minute and half, the realization that the finish was getting closer comes to mind.

Soon, the second turn around arrived, and it was time to head back to the finish.

My legs were starting to feel a little bit of the sting now. Miles 14 and 15, my splits fell in to the 6:30s. But they bounced back once I hit the pavement again: 6:24, 6:25, and 6:23 over the last few miles.

This turned out to be an even better run than I expected. It was the first hard effort since the Derby 50k two weeks ago. My legs didn’t have quite the pop that I usually feel, but it will come. Usually around 3 to 4 weeks after a marathon or 50k my legs start to feel normal again.

Hopefully, they will bounce back a lot over the next 3 weeks. Otherwise, the 4 races of the Dopy Challenge will turn in to a very long weekend. LOL

 

Sharing one thought at time

The Cool Down Runner

 

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Skechers’ Go Run Ultra Running Shoe


 

Just over a month ago, the opportunity to try on a pair of the Skechers Go Run Ultra running shoes presented itself.

Since Skechers entered the running shoe market a while back, there has always been some level of skepticism in my mind. After all, when most people think of Skechers, kid’s shoes quickly come to mind. Maybe there are a few that think of adult shoes, but there are probably not many that would put Skechers and running shoes in the same sentence.

Surprisingly, their shoes felt decent. Decent enough that I decided to purchase a pair.

Since then, I have run some of my easier runs in them. Mostly, these were test runs to see how my feet and legs reacted to their ride.

The Go Run Ultras do have a different feel than the other running shoes in my collection. The heel portion tends to feel like it has more cushion than the forefoot. This is not to say that there is a rocking motion. My runs usually start out with me being a heel striker, but as my body warms up, my strides shifts to more of a forefoot striker.

These shoes will definitely stay in my rotation of shoes, and they definitely changed my perspective about Skeckers’ efforts to enter the running shoe market.

 

Sharing one thought at time,

The Cool Down Corner

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Derby 50k Recap




Working most of the 3rd of 3 x 10.5 mile loops, the wind is was blowing into my face without any mercy. My quads stripped of their warmth and loaded with fatigue had tightened up.  On top of it, after leading for the past 25 miles, the urge to glance over my shoulder is unnaturally strong. To think, there was still another mile and half to run in the Derby 50k.

Let’s hold up for minute, and rewind back to the beginning.

For a number of years now, the Derby 50k has been a bucket list item for me. Drawing my attention was their unusual awards. A derby hat was given to the male and female winners. Having heard stories about the toughness of the course and of the runners who ran it, there was plenty nervousness after signing up for it.

For those that don’t know. The Derby course is basically in the middle of nowhere. The course consists of about 7 and half miles of asphalt and 3 miles of dirt road. There is about a 3 ½ mile of climbing in the first 5 miles which is followed by a 4 ½ miles of climbing during the second 5 miles. Needless to say, the course is tough.

My plan going in was to settle in with the other runners and find a buddy for the first 10 miles. Not knowing the course, having four eyes to spot the arrows on the road seemed like a better idea than two eyes.

The weather was great for the 8 AM start – clear and cold. My hands are so cold in fact that they went numb while we are waiting on the start.

The Magnum Track guys gave us a countdown and we are off. Unlike a 5k, there is no sprinting off the line. Everyone just eases out slowly.

By the mile, Leigh Ann, Mike, Mike, and I are running together. Around 2 miles, Mike drops back. By 3 miles Leigh Ann drops back. I try to encourage her to run with us. Later she tells me that we were running the hills to fast for her.

Mike and I continue on. I broach the subject of expected times. Mike says that he wants to run around 4 hours which was my goal as well. The course was tough, the wind was terrible, and the cold makes running hard which is why 4 hours sound like a good goal for me.

We are chit-chatting until about 6 miles when I look over and don’t see him anymore. Glancing back he has stopped at the water stop.

Feeling the need to push on, I keep going. A mile or so later while rounding a turn, there is a glimpse of him a good distance back.

I push through the hill section and head back toward to start to finish the first loop.

Now, I have an idea of what the course is like after the first loop. The rest of the race is about running it in chucks. Don’t think ahead and don’t worry about how far it is. Just work the course one chunk at time.

The second loop is rather quiet for me. I catch my first runner with about a mile to go in the second loop.

As I pass the start, I yell two down and one to go.

The third loop is both hard and easier all at the same time.  My entire body is ready to be finished. Yet, the energy from seeing the other runners along the course keeps my mind focus on something else. Each one that I pass, I say an encouraging word or two. I recognize Jamie as I pass her. I touch Danny on the shoulder as I pass him to say hello.

My first climb up the 4 and half mile stretch wasn’t too bad. The second time around the climb was a little tougher. As I said in my opening above, the 3 time up the 4 ½ mile section was unforgiving.

Looking at Garmin, there has only been one other time a 30 and 31 mile split has ever been recorded while during my New River 50k run.

Finally, cresting the difficult section of the hill, catching me now would be tough. Yes, there was still a gradual climb, but if someone came into sight, there was enough in my tank now to get me home.

More runners are just finishing their second loop. I keep sharing the encouragement while I am slower than before but making my way to the finish.

The parking lot comes in to view. The feeling of achieving my own personal goal is just insight. My just seem to float across those last twenty to thirty meters to the finish. .

Oh, did it feel good so stop.

Driving me through those last 26 miles was one thought. Win the race and get that coveted Derby hat.

Suffice is to say, I am setting here now typing this recap while wearing my new derby 50k winner’s hat.

There are cool race awards and then are “COOL” awards. The Derby Hat ranks at the top of my list as most cool awards ever..

Let’s not forget. I ran 3:36:13 which was just 7 minutes slower than my last 50k at New River. This course was nothing like the New River 50k where the course is mostly flat, dirt trail.

I actually ended up winning the race by over 30 minutes.

Along the way, I made a bunch of new friends. I got a chance to go hang out with the Magnum Track Club guys. They are an awesome bunch.

Definitely if you are in to ultra running, check out the Derby 50k on the Saturday after Thanksgiving.

 

 

Sharing one thought at time,

The Cool Down Runner

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Monday, December 8, 2014

Leaving office

On Saturday afternoon, the office of the Charlotte Running Club Presidency was handed over to Eric. There is no doubt in my mind that Eric will do a good job for our club. He will bring a new perspective and new style which I am sure will help our club as we continue to grow and mature as an organization.

Thinking back to just over 2 years ago when I started my CRC Presidency. The time was both exciting and scary for me. We as a club were barely out of our infancy. Aaron, Jay, and Caitlin took an idea and made it a reality. They had gotten us off to a great start.

Driving home from the board meeting where I was elected President, there was little pit in my stomach. There was also this nagging voice in the back of my head saying don’t screw this up and above all don’t run our club into the ground.

People who know me; know that when I say I am in; I am in 100%. I learned so much about running our club. But those first 6 to 8 months were rough. There were times when I wondered if the rest of the board made a mistake in electing me.

But I dug in. I learned and listened to others. I tried to make the best decisions possible.

Yes, I had my fair share of failures. Who doesn’t have failures? Make small ones, and learning from them is what's really important.

Looking back now, there was a lot of hard work that I put in to this club, and I am proud to say that we did more and accomplished more than I ever expected or even thought possible. But I am not going to say that I did everything solo. Having a great group of board members over the last two years really helped. I would be entirely “white headed” if not for all the extra hours that they put in as well.  

Lately several people have asked me why I am stepping down. The answer is really twofold: time and preferences.

The demands on one’s time are much greater for the President than any other board position. Like I have often said, the “buck” stops here. Everyone looks to person leading our club for direction on nearly every issue. Whether there is a potential member with a question about joining our club, an existing member is changing their membership, or a vender wanting to do business with our club. All of it tends to flow back to this one person to figure out.

Throw in top of it; I really like organizing events. 10,000 Day Run, CRC All around Miler, summer track night, Holiday Lights Run, and Guinness World Tether Team were all things I had hand it making happen. In all honesty, my workload just become too much.

Stepping back will allow me to focus on the things that I truly like which organizing events for CRC. In all honesty, I will probably do an even better job with them. No longer will I be splitting my time across numerous different fronts. I can solely focus one thing at a time.

What's in store for me now. Well, I am looking forward to the next two years as being just a board member and seeing what I can do to continue our successes. Fun times are what lay ahead.  


Sharing one thought at time,

The Cool Down Runner


  



  

Friday, November 28, 2014

Turkey Trot 10k Recap

Thanksgiving morning I scurried up 77 to Cornelius, NC for the Turkey Trot 10k at Gold’s Gym. 37 degrees and darkness initially greeted me when I rolled into the parking. However, the greetings improved dramatically when I strolled up to the volunteers handling race morning registration. Starbucks coffee clearly makes a difference.

Runners had the option of doing either the 10k, 5k, or bore via the DARE challenge event.

My focus was solely on the 10k. With another race on my schedule for Saturday, this race would be treated mostly as a hard tempo run for me.

After a loop of the 5k, the 10k was a double loop of the same course. I felt reasonably sure that I could find my way if the course happened to be understaffed.

7:30 arrived and we rolled out of the parking lot. My legs felt like they were set in lead. Tim was already in front of me, and Ed passed me during the first half mile. I hardly recognized Tim.  Perhaps 3 years had passed since we last ran together.

By the mile, Tim, Ed, and another guy were easily putting some distance on me. A quick check over my shoulder told me that I was probably in for a sole tempo run for the rest of the race.

There were not many volunteers on the course and only a few people outside their houses. How could anyone expect any different. Thanksgiving, 37 degrees, 7:30 in the morning didn’t give them much reason to be out.

With the first loop in the books, we ran across the start/finish and headed back out for our second loop. The clouds rolled in and the wind was picking up. The forth mile was in the open so the win hit us right in the face.

On some of the longer straight-aways, Ed’s green jacket gave me reason to keep up the chase. Although, I could tell that he was getting smaller and smaller.

After a long uphill pull by Michael Waltrip Racing, the finish line came in to sight. I was ready to be finished. The rest of my day looked to be super busy. Putting a down stamp on this racing and moving to the next thing on my list was all that I was on my mind.

This was solid race for me. I averaged 6:04 pace and my splits varied only slightly off of it. I took home the 45—49 age group award while finishing 4 overall.

These Epic Marketing Guys deserve some credit. Over the years, I have heard they stumbled once or twice. This was race as least from my perspective went off without any hitches. The course was well marked. Police were at the major intersections. Water was available at every mile. The results were posted quickly and the awards ceremony was right on-time. They definitely deserve a pat on the back for their efforts.

The holiday season is now in full swing. Remember to enjoy some time with your family and friends. Pay them back for all the support that they gave you during the year.

Sharing one thought at time,

The Cool Down Runner

  

  

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Santa Scramble 5k Recap

Well, yesterday afternoon, I was off running what is perhaps my favorite 5k of the year – Santa Scramble 5k in Concord, North Carolina.

With thousands of people lining the parade route, I have this deep desire to never let up because I know someone is watching.

Chris, Adam, and I headed for the starting line around 1:30. We picked up Stan during our backwards run along the course.

Arriving with perhaps 10 minutes to spare before the starting time zone. Because the race is considered the first event in the parade, the start time varies depending on when the city officials say to start.

We got an 8 minute count down so I had just enough time to hit some strides before getting myself a good spot on the starting line.

Settling in to my spot, I was chatting with those around me. The race director is standing maybe 100 yards up the road. He looks to be saying something but with the wind and crowd noise; I have no idea what it is. Then, I see him drop his hand and jump in the truck. The high school runners to my right surge off the line. Ok, I guess this means go so I start to move. I am almost immediately engulfed with runners sprinting out. There must be 100 people ahead of me.

My legs need some convincing to go harder. After all, aside from just running I have not run a hard step since my marathon just over a month ago. Adam is a few strides ahead of me. I try to link up with him.

I never see the mile mark but I hear my Garmin chime. The runners have thinned out and we are moving up. I am in a solid 7th place now.

Adam starts to gap me and urges me to join him. Mentally, I want to but my legs and lungs have a sound argument for not doing it. At that moment, they were winning.

The head wind in the second mile is nasty. I try moving along the edges of the course in hopes that this diminishes the wind. No, it doesn’t.

Adam has a pretty good lead on me now, so I focus on catching the 6th place guy.

We turn off the parade route. I am running the tangents while he is running in the middle of the road. I am just about to pull even with him when a Concord Police car decides to block my section of the shortest path. I have to shift sides and loose several yards to him.

A quick glance at my Garmin tells me that I can break 17 minutes but I have to dig like crazy. I turn the last corner and see the clock. I am digging for all that I am worth as I surge toward the finishline.

My eyes are glued to the clock.

My sprint isn’t what it used to be.

Stepping on the finish line, I press the stop button. 17:00, ugh, I was so close.

Well, I was 17:01 last year so I guess I should count my stars that I was 1 second faster.

They always do pretty well with the awards at Santa Scramble and this year was no different. I finished as the first male master’s runners and received an awesome award.

With my Santa Scramble now in the books, the holiday season can officially begin.

 

Sharing one thought at time

The Cool Down Runner

 

Saturday, November 22, 2014

This time of year


This is one of my favorite times of year to race. Almost every weekend, there is a Turkey Trot, Santa Scramble, Reindeer Romp or some similar holiday themed race.

Personally, my race year is never complete unless I am getting in at least one turkey day race and one Santa/Reindeer race.

As with most years, the Santa Scramble in Concord will kick off my holiday race season. Of all the races that I run through the years, this one just keeps me coming back. The race is considered the first event in the parade and follows the first couple of miles of the parade route. There is nothing like running in front of 10,000 people. Throw in the fact that the course is fast and maybe a tiny bit short, a fast time is almost always guaranteed.

For turkey day races, my personal favorite is the 8k in South Park. The course is great. Scott and Danny do an awesome job putting on the race. There is always a huge crowd for it. The one drawback, the race doesn’t start until 9AM so depending on my plans for later in the day, I have to jump in something else. Last year, I hit the Turkey Dash 4 miler off Rea Rd. Several years ago, I hit the Turkey Trot races when they were in the Huntersville business park. These were practically a no brainer for me. I can run to the business park from my house. They have since moved these to Cornelius. Being that I am under the gun to get finished this year and need to head off quickly for my turkey day lunch, I am going to give this race another try.

Regardless of if or where you are racing this holiday season remember to take time out and show lots of appreciate to your family. They are the one that keep us going and support us in our efforts. They make us who we are.

Happy Holidays!!!!

 

Sharing one thought at time,

The Cool Down Runner  

 

 

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Pacing at the Thunder Road Marathon



Really, Friday to Saturday was pretty much a blur for me. After getting home around 9:30, there was only time for a quick bite and then to pack up before bed time.

Our pacer team was meeting at the BB&T VIP area at 6:45 the next morning. Meaning, I had to be up, get ready, then drive down, and make my way over to the stadium.

I rolled in the door about 6:30. There were a few orange shirts appearing in the crowd so I made my way over to catch up with them.

DC gave us a few last minute instructions. Eric, Rob, and I sorted through some last minute details on how we would sync up. The three of us were pacing the 3:10 group. Rob was run to the finish of the ½ marathon. I run through about 15 miles. Eric would jump in at 10 miles and run to the finish. With plans in place, Rob and I headed for the starting line. Eric headed off to get our club's cheer zone setup.

Believe me when I say “it was cold”. I had hand warmers in my gloves and actually kept them in my gloves the entire race.

They played the national anthem. Tim gave us the final countdown. Finally, we were off. It felt good to get moving. My face felt numb.

Pacing and racing have similarities yet are very different. When I am racing, I usually have specific splits to hit which will get me to my goal time. I rarely talk during a race, and I am totally focused on the road in front of me. Nothing else is important.

Pacing, I still have to hit my splits, but now I have talk to the people around me. I have to make sure that I am not leading them out to fast. I have to use my enthusiasm to push them to reach their goals.

Rob and I were running side by side. He was doing an excellent job keeping me in check. At the mile, we are about 5 seconds over a goal pace. The second mile, we brought it back to just about evening. For the next several miles, we alternated between being on pace and just a second or two over. Mainly, this was due to the long rolling hills.

At 10 miles, we are right on pace, and we picked up Eric by the Charlotte Running Club cheer zone.  

Miles 11 and 12 flew by easily which puts us about 15 seconds ahead of pace due to a tail wind. But the 13th mile was slightly uphill and into the wind.

Eric joins a group in front of us when they turn on the marathon course. Rob takes our group on to the finish. I slow a bit to catch to attach with the next group which I run with until about 15 miles.

At this point, I thought about cutting across to catch the end of the race but decided on a different approach. I would run backwards along the course to cheer on the runners. Running in the opposite direction does have it perks because I can see the smiles that come from my encouragement.

I ran all the way back to 10 miles and down around Latta Park. The trucks were picking up the cones as I came through. It was little sad to see the runners and walkers behind the trucks. Some of them didn’t know the course so they were asking me how many miles were left and which way did the course go.  It kind of pulls at my heart string to know they had paid their money to run and were working so hard yet they were being forced to the side walk to complete the race.

Let’s hope they all finished the race and received their medals. Better, this race gave them the desire to come back next year.

When it comes to running, I have always been focused on my personal goals. The rewards came in achieving something that was just out of my normal reach.  

Saturday for the first time, I helped others achieve their goals. Hearing their “thank you”s and seeing the expression on their faces was one of my most rewarding experiences ever.

Last but certainly not least, a big shout out goes to all of the pacers at Thunder Road for sharing of their time and energy to help someone else achieve their goals.

 

Sharing one thought at time,

The Cool Down Runner

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Thunder Road MarathonExpo

Friday was simply off the charts in awesomeness. An entire day spent talking about running and the Charlotte Running Club. What could be better?

Around 9 AM I was meandering my hand truck through the elevator to our expo booth. Hey, I had no way of knowing that the stuff I had just trucked over from the parking deck would be too wide to fit on the elevator. No fear, with just a little twisting and turning I got everything on and made my way down stairs to expo.

Just so happens that I met up with Eric at the entrance. Then, we then set out to find our booth.

Banners hung. Promo cards laid out. Shirts displayed.   We were finally ready, and just in time. The expo opened at 10 AM.

Runner traffic was slow for the first hour but picked up around 11 through about 1. Again things slowed so I grabbed a 15 minute break for lunch about 1:30 while Eric covered our booth. Later Eric took off to pick up his daughter from day care so I manned our booth until later in the evening.

I remember looking at the time around 8 PM and wondering where the day went.

We had so many club members come by our booth. I loved it. Getting a few minutes to chat with someone that is a member makes all the difference. I get to know them and put names with faces.

Add to it, I got to meet nearly all of the Thunder Road pacers. This is a fantastic group of individuals that give of the time and energy to help someone else reach their goal. I cannot think of anything else that is more rewarding.  

Eric and I packed up our gear at 9 and headed out. My throat was sore from the constant talking. I just hoped my voice would hold out for my pacing effort the next day.

I would like to finish up my post by giving a shout out to Run for Your Life and the Thunder Road Marathon. Specifically, I would like to call out Tim and DC for their efforts. Through their support, our Charlotte Running Club had a presence at the expo. For making this possible, I want to say “THANK YOU”.

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The Cool Down Runner

Monday, November 17, 2014

Evening Tether Practice Run


Thursday started off what would be a busy three day stretch for me. After a full day of work, I headed up the street to Charlotte Running Company's new store at Northlake for our tether team practice run.

I scheduled our first practice one in the evening and that was back in early October when the temperatures were better and there was still plenty of sunlight. The last three practice runs were on the weekend during the afternoon. The afternoon runs worked out pretty well and were much safer.

However, there were a few that asked about another evening practice run so when Charlotte Running Company said that they were willing to host a run, I put out the word.

We met up at 6:30 PM at their store. I had a smaller crowd of runners given the cold and drizzle that was settling over Charlotte.

We made two loops around Perimeter Woods business park. All of it was on the sidewalks and most of it was pretty well light. Several of us had head lamps which also helped.

2 miles complete and no falls. I counted this as a good practice run.

I would like to thank the Charlotte Running Company for hosting our practice run and for the refreshments afterwards.
Also, I would like to thank the runners for coming out. I know after a difficult work day driving to Northlake for a run isn't easy so I want to personally say "Thank You" for your efforts.

For those asking, there is a good chance that I will schedule one more practice run. If indeed this happens, our run will cover the majority of the course and will be on the first Saturday in December. We will most likely start from Jason Deli. Starting here we don’t have to cross rt. 73 which is safer when I have bunch of people bungeed corded together. Let me see if I can work something out.

Keep an eye on our Facebook page for updates.

Sharing one thought at time,

The Cool Down Runner

 

Friday, November 7, 2014

Treadmill Workouts for the cold weather days

Yesterday, an email from Active popped up in my inbox. As usual, I skimmed through it to see if there was anything of interest.

Being that cooler temperatures are upon us, one topic jumped out which talked about running on a treadmill during the winter months.

I from time to time jump on the treadmill during a cold snap for a run or a workout. Most of the time it is because I don’t like testing out my hamstrings on an extremely cold morning or I just cannot find a buddy to share the brisk cold air.

Either way, the treadmill offers a decent alternative.

So, in reading the article, they were talking mostly about doing sprint workouts on the treadmill. One specific example talked about doing a Tabata workout.

Now, I have run on enough treadmills to know that they respond to speed changes like pouring honey out of a jar at 10 degrees - SLOWLY. Treadmills just have not reached the point where their response time is immediate.

That being said, maybe a better solution would be to head down stairs or in whatever direction to find the nearest basketball court. Do the sprint workouts on it.

If the intent is to work out on a treadmill, I would suggest workouts falling into the categories of tempo runs, ½ or full mile repeats, or better yet, try a fartlek workout.

Tempo runs are pretty easy – warm up – get the tread mill running at the desired paces and stay alert for the duration of the workout.

½ and full mile repeats require a little more effort. There will definitely be a little lag time between the recovery phases and the intense phases.  On trick is to push the speed slightly above the goal pace so that you hit your average across the duration of the interval.

Perhaps my favorite is the fartlek workouts. Why might ask? Well, because they force me to stay mentally engaged. Running on treadmills can be a bit boring after a while. There is only so much CNN or Sports Center to watch before they start to repeat the same informaton.

Also during fartlek workouts, the running speeds are not as crucial. Maybe try doing a 2 min run at near race pace and then 2 minutes at 30 to 45 seconds slower to recovery. Time will seem to fly by. The change in speed is less important.

Setup the fartlek anyway that feels right. I have done workouts as little as minuters, 5, 4, 3, 2, and 1 workouts, have done 6 x 5 minutes.

At the end of the day, it is good to remember the point is to get in some good intensity. A little slower starting and little faster finishing can be a good thing.

Sharing one thought at time,

The Cool Down Runner

 

 

 

 

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Todd Williams' Run Safer Clinics


As much as I think that I am safe while I am out running, I fully realize that I am probably just one step away from someone with no “good” in mind.

This brings me to my topic for today.  How to respond when a threat happens?

Checking out Todd Williams Run Safer initiative is an excellent place to learn more about responding.

I met Todd in January of this year when he first came around holding these clinics. He was back in Charlotte at the Charlotte Running Company last week demonstrating to runners what to do when one of those bad situations happens. His clinics last about an hour and in my opinion are well worth the investment of your time.

If you missed these two clinics, check out his website. He has a lot of information and even demonstrates techniques to use. The videos are excellent.

Sharing one thought at time,

The Cool Down Runner

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

 

 

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Thunder Road Marathon – Course Preview Run

** Ignore the first and last miles on the profile below. These were my warm up and cool down miles to and from the preview run. **
 
November came in like a lion this morning but this didn’t deter a huge group of hardy runners from running the back half of the Thunder Road Marathon course.

With the rain coming down, I opted for parking at the Dowd Y and running over to BB&T Stadium where the run was to start. Yeah, I still had a mile to run back but I could hit the way for a chance of clothes and a warm shower. This was definitely worth the extra couple miles.

Pulling up to the park next to the stadium, there was with an awesome scene of runners warming up in the rain. Run for You Life’s training group organizes these preview runs and our Charlotte Running Club promoted them throughout the community and our club.

Our course preview run rolled off about 6:30 AM. Each pace group had a different lead to keep them on pace. I joined with the 8:30 and under per mile pace group.

Heading out on Caldwell, the wind was blowing without mercy. In fact, there were several places along the course that had huge head winds.

The NoDa area and 35th street was pretty much an uphill grind. Plaza and Central were pretty flat and downhill. In fact, our pace group ran some of its fastest miles in this section.

Heading over to Monroe Rd. by WCCB studios has a nice hill. Monroe rd. has some uphills all the way back to Presbyterian Hospital. We went downhill by the Memorial Stadium on CPCC campus.   

Then, other than a false flat by the NASCAR Hall of Fame, Stonewall is all up hill.

Maybe the toughest part occurred when we turned on North Graham Street. The wind was blowing so hard that it was all I could do to stay up right.

The RFYL guys get a thumbs-up from me. Pace groups, monitors out on the course, and water stops make the world of difference. Thank you for being out on a cold and rainy morning. I know the runners in my group really appreciated it.
Big shout out to John, Jason, and Clayton, you guys will do awesome on race day.

Sharing one thought at time,

The Cool Down Runner

 

 

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Spinx Carolina Marathon Recap



 
Saturday morning I stood at the starting line of yet another marathon. This time, Spinx Carolina Marathon in Greenville, SC was to be my test for the day.

My only knowledge of the course came from reading Marathon Guide website comments and studying the course map.

Otherwise, the course would be pretty much a surprise to me.

At least the temperature was somewhat on my side. 46 degrees was displayed on my car dashboard.

No one seemed to be pushing up to the starting line as we got our count down.

5, 4, 3, 2, and 1, we were off. Most of the first mile was downhill. Five guys got out in front me. My first mile went by in 6:35. I passed one guy to move in to 5th place. The second came in 6:35 again. When I looked at my Garmin, I just mentally shook my head. For whatever the reason, I just wasn’t feeling it. I was well off the pace that I wanted to run.

The first 3 miles of the course are run through the downtown area of Greenville. The course has some rolling hills. Maybe this was my issue.

Around 3 miles, we turned on to the Swamp Rabbit Trail. We would stay on this trail for about 4 miles until we left the trail to loop through Furman University.  Between 5 and 6 miles, I passed the 5th place guy. This was also the last time that I could see the flashing tail lights of the pacing cyclist for the leaders.

Just after 9 miles I turned into Furman. We ran around the lake and through the university grounds. Some of this was on the roads but a large portion was on the sidewalks cutting through the campus. The race organizer did a pretty good job marking the course with white pavement tape. Running through the campus was different but I am still undecided if I liked it. It is almost like running on a trail. I had to turn left then right. I was going uphill and downhill.  I struggled to maintain a consistent running pace.

Then, I was back on the Swamp Rabbit Trail again. From 11 through the turnaround, the course was a steady climb. I could really feel it in my quads.

After my frustration from seeing slow splits during the first two miles, I choose to ignore the heads up that Garmin kept displaying with each passing mile. Maybe to my benefit, there were no clocks along the course.

After 13+ I finally reach the turn around. Making the loop around a huge planter, I started my trek back to downtown Greenville.

Just before 14 miles, I split off to run the neighborhood loop. Man, this section was tough. With the possible exception of Hatfield and McCoy Marathon, I have never run a marathon with so many hills. They were steep, and they were long. I felt like I struggled up every one of them.

 Finally, I was back on the trail again. May be a mile later, I was heading back through Furman again. This time, the sidewalks were a little more crowded with runners still heading out to the turn around.

I was so focused on not running into the outbound runners that the entire Furman section seemed to fly by. Back on the trail again, I passed the 19 mile point. From here I knew what the course was like. I also knew there were no real big turns on the course so getting lost wasn’t really a possibility.

I passed 20 miles and hit a shadeless section and realized that the sun was starting to heat up. I just didn’t feel good. But as soon as I hit the shade again, I felt so much better. Over the next few miles, I tried to steer my path into the shade a much as possible. 21 miles passed.

The mental games were starting now. If I ran 7 minute pace, I had roughly 35 minutes of running. What makes this so funning to reflect on? I am a mileage guy. I rarely think of running in terms of minutes to run.

Anyway, I passed 22 miles. 28 minutes were left run. I wondered if my hamstrings would start to balk now. This is usually the point where they start to feel the strain and decide to falter.

Past the 23 miles point, I have just 5k to run.

Before race I had packed a Power Gel to take during the race. Up to this point, I had been taking water and Gatorade along the course so I hadn’t used it. Somewhere along this mile, the gel started to slip down in my running shorts.  Pulling it out, I tossed it the trash at the next water stop. I wasn’t going to take it and I didn’t want to carry it any further.

At 24 miles, I passed the train depot. No trains were insight. Thinking about it now, I am so glad. .

After the race, I learned that some runners were caught by the train coming out. One runner missed her BQ by 16 seconds while running around the train. What a bummer.

Between 24 miles and 25 miles, the trail splits into two different surfaces. Half is asphalt. The other is a track surface rubber. I had avoided running on it going out but coming back I moved over to run on it. My feet really thanked me. They felt so much better. I wished this surface ran all the way to the finish.  

25 miles came to pass. I grabbed a cup of Gatorade as I run under the overpass.

Leaving the trail, I hit Reedy View Drive and then over to River Street. Here I mix in with the ½ marathoners.  River Street and South Main Street are both uphill. The grade isn’t steep but after 25 miles, a mole hill can seem like Everest.

½ marathoners seem to float by as I meander through them. I focus on the road ahead of my training to gauge were they are turning to go around the stadium. My legs are grinding their way to the top.

The stadium appears to my left. I turn at the corner. I can hear them calling out the ½ marathoners coming to the finish.

I only need to run two more corners before entering the stadium.

Left at the next corner is followed by a downhill. My legs love it. My feet hurt and my legs are tight as I try to push on this last downhill.

Making the right into the stadium I give this woman a “heads up” yell so she doesn’t try to cross my path.

Running around the warning track of the baseball field feels good to my feet.

For the first time since mile 2 I look at my Garmin. I am momentarily stunned that it says 2 hours and 44 minutes. Looking across to the finish, I try to gauge the distance. With 2 tenths to run, I might be able to break 2 hours and 46 minutes.

I pump my arms. Pumping them helps me run faster but it also makes them start to tingle. I split some runners. I pass others either on the left or the right. My eyes are glued to the finish line clock.

The time is counting up to 2 hours and 46 minutes but I realize that I am going to make it.

I cross the finish line and come to a halt almost immediately. My hands are still tingling. I walk over to the wall and stand there for a second. My entire body is shaking. One of the medics came over to check on me. Yeah, I say. I am okay. I just need a bit to recover.

My legs are still shaking during my climb up the steps to the upper level.

My walk is slow back to car, but the smile on my face is huge.

My expectations going into this race, I thought I could run maybe 2:49. Then, after the 2 miles at 6:35 pace, I figured it just wasn’t going to be my day.

Now, I finished in 2 hours 45 minutes and 51 seconds. I finished 4 overall and won the Male Masters’ category. The day couldn’t have been any better for me.

After changing shirts and pulling on some pants, I headed back to the finish area. The marathon awards were to take place at the noon.

I looked at my phone. The display said 11:05 and then I heard them calling out the marathon awards. My name was being called and I headed up to pick up my glass.

They were calling out the awards out so quickly that some of the categories hadn’t been filled. The runners had yet to finish.

Myself, I walked very slowly back to my car and headed home. This had been a good day.

Spinx Carolina Marathon is a small race. Don’t expect to have a lot of crowd support or to have lots of runners around you. Aside from passing two runners in the first 5 miles, the rest of the race was a solo time trial for me. Overall, I would give them a pretty good grade for their efforts. The course was well marked. I would like to have seen a water stop in the first 3 miles but otherwise; there was plenty of water stops on the marathon course. The sidewalks through Furman were a little tight for runners to pass. Fortunately, most outbound runners gave way and let me through.  The stadium finish is nice for friends and family to hang out while you are running. By no means is this course flat. The first 3 miles have plenty of rolling hills. The Furman section has its own little hills. Then, there is a neighborhood section which is absolutely nasty with hills. However, if you survive to the 19 mile point, you are pretty much home free. From 19 through 25+ miles there are no major hills. Plenty of long uphill and downhill pulls but nothing too hard. River Street and South Main are an uphill grind, but I probably made them out to be harder than they were. At 25+ miles I am pretty much running at my limit. Nothing is going to be easy.

So to the Spinx Carolina Racefest organizers, I say good job.

I would like to wrap up by giving a shout out to Caleb and Steve. They have been so awesome in our Tuesday track workouts. They have pushed me to improve. I owe them a huge debt of gratitude. I could not have run so well without their supporting efforts. Thanks  Guys!

Sharing one thought at time,

The Cool Down Runner

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Big South 5k


The starting line is crowded with fast runners, and butterflies are circling in my tummy. After all, this is only my third 5k of the year. How I will do is any ones guess.

They give us the 2 minute warning. I look over to see Aaron and Paul. It might be just me thinking this but is everyone turning into a masters runners these days.

During my strides, Cory came up beside me. Yet, another good masters’ runner is toeing the line.

30 seconds to go.

By the way, Cory, welcome to our TrySports Ambassador team. For a long time, I was the only masters’ runner on our TrySports Ambassador running team. Now with Paul and you, our numbers are growing.

10, 9, 8, 7, 6, ….

I take a couple of deep full breathes.

3,

My fingers slides over my Garmin to the start button

2,

One last deep breathe.

1,

Go!!!

Everyone surges off the line. Even thou, this race has an uphill start, many runners go out like it is a downhill 100 yard sprint.

So many runners are around me that I am pushed right up to the curb.

Cory is running right beside me.

I am just trying to not run over someone.

Right out the parking lot, and suddenly my vision picks up a backwards ball cap and a familiar running stride. Where did Donny come from? No sign of him while I was warming up. It was as if he materialized out of thin air.

Left into the neighbor, I cut across the side to avoid running into anyone.

Cory surges ahead and passes Donny.

My legs feel like they are struck in concrete.

Cory is definitely feeling good. I catch Donny know. Cory is perhaps 15 to 20 yards ahead of us.

Mentally, I want to go after him. Yet, my legs and heart are sending off warning signals. Don’t do it.

We are back out on the main road and pass the mile. My Garmin chimes and vibrates that I have run a mile, but I ignore looking at it.

There are still two miles to run. No point in knowing if the mile is as slow as it feels.

Cory continues to look strong.

My breathing feels like it is all over the place so I am trying to get a handle on it.

We are topping the final climb and someone just barely clips one of my running shoes. Lowering my hand as if flashing a slowing sign and taking a quick peek back, I want to know who is riding my coat tails.

I see Donny and the first one woman. Donny tells me later that she keep cutting back and forth between him and me.

Right in to the next neighborhood, she surges in front of me. But she doesn’t try to capitalize on it, and I surge back by.

While this is going on, Cory suddenly seem a lot closer. Climbing the next little hill the gap between us narrows.

The next ½ mile to the 2 point is downhill. My breathing is finally starting to stabilize.

I surge up to Cory. Do I pass or set behind him? Pass.

Passing another runner during a race can often time wake them up. Then, they start to run harder.

I surge by him. Not 30 yards later, he surges back by me. Darn it. I have poked the “bear” and now he is “mad”.

My Garmin chimes to remind me that we have passed 2 miles.

Right on Rea Rd, I am charging hard to stay with Cory.

This time there is no thought of riding behind him. I surge by him.

There is a slight rise on Rea Rd; then there is a slight downhill until we reach the Target parking lot. Pretty much the rest of the course is flat. 

Donny, Cory, and probably the lead woman are right behind me. No point in looking, sometime I can just feel it.

I need someone new to chase i.e. Alejandro. He is about 20 yards or so in front of me. I am trying to close the gap without pushing too far into my red zone.

Right in the parking lot, the gaps is closing.

Left around target, my legs are feeling shaky. My thoughts focus on the fact that I have may 90 seconds of hard running left. Nothing else is important.

Perhaps, my most hated part of this course is the horse shoe finish. After all of this running, we get sent around the block.

At the first corner, I sneak a peek. I see the lead woman and Donny. I don’t see Cory.

At the next and last corner, I sneak one last peek to solidify what I had seen previously.

For the first time, I take a quick glance at my Garmin 16:25 or something like it.

The only thought now is to surge, push, and sprint.  Do whatever it will take. Forget about being caught from behind. 

Ignoring everything else, I will my body forward.

50 yards, 40 yards, 30 yards,

I hear the people cheering.

I cannot feel my legs

My heart feels like it is going to burst out of my chest.

20 yards

I can do it.

10 yards

I am almost there.

My hand almost instinctively moves to stop my Garmin as I step on the finish line.

Immediately, I rolled my wrist over so I can see my time.

16:54 is displayed. Yes!!!

I had no expectations of running a sub 17 minute 5k, but somehow I did.

I finished as the forth masters’ runner behind Paul, Aaron, and Curtis and won the 45-49 age group. Overall, I was 15th.

By far, this years’ race had the most depth of any Big South 5k. Each year, they are getting larger and larger as well as better and better.

Just goes to show what happens when you have good people organizing a race.

 

Sharing thought at time,

The Cool Down Runner