Monday, February 24, 2014

7/3.5 miler S2F fun runs

On Thursday Sean and Donny from “Start 2 Finish” were out marking the course for the 10 and 4 races that were to happen this past weekend. Thunderstorms and copious amount of rain were dropped on Charlotte on Friday morning. This added to the water already accumulating from the melting snow from a week ago.

When they checked the course on Friday afternoon, they found much of the greenway under water, and not just under water but up to your waist under water.

Doing their best, they then started working with the city officials on an alternate course so they could continue to hold the race. No matter what options they suggested, nothing got approved. Thus they had to postpone both races.

Word went out late Friday evening that the race was postponed, but they would be holding 7 and 3.5 mile fun runs.

I had been tapped work a water stop for the race. Yeah, I know. It does sound like an intended “pun” that the race was “stopped” by water. Anyway, since I wasn’t working the water stop, I decided to head over and run with the crew doing the 7 and 3.5 mile runs.

S2F had their tent setup, their finish line was up, they passed our shirts, and they would have a post race breakfast of pancakes.

This was a tough situation and very little that they could do about it. Fortunately, everyone was a good sport.

Really, we all should be. To hold a race, there are lots of moving parts. Some of those parts, race directors can control and some parts, they cannot. The weather is a major one of them.

I give Sean, Scott, Donny, and the entire S2F crew a “thumbs up” for their efforts.

For those registered for this race stay tuned to S2F for updates.


Sharing one thought at time

The Cool Down Runner



Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Myrtle Beach ½ marathon

3:30 AM Saturday morning, I pushed back the covers from the hotel bed and wondered over to the window. The weatherman had forecast a rainy race for this morning. The illumination of the parking lot below told me that rain was late arriving.

My ½ marathon was just a few hours away. There was still a chance that the rain might circle around use. At least until popped open my iPad and checked the local Doppler radar. Green covered the area just south of Myrtle Beach and in the center of the green was plenty of yellow. The rain would be here soon.

No more than 30 minutes later, the sound of the rain tapping against the window announced its arrival.

The rain was coming down but nearly in a horizontal pattern. The wind pushed it something fierce.

Every race I create a check list for the items that I might need on race day. For Myrtle Beach Half, I had left off packing a trash bag. Most experienced runners know the virtues of a trash bag. Large trash bags make the most ideal warm-up gear. They are cheap, easy to find, and easy to dispose. Between the rain and the wind this made me wish that I had packed one.

Perhaps the worst answer to any question is “No”, this is not possible.  However, the question must be asked before the answer can be given. I headed downstairs at the hotel in search of a very large trash bag. After all, this is a hotel. They must have an abundance of large trash bags.

Luck was on my side. The hotel clerk said “just a minute” and disappeared in to the back office. A few minutes later, she emerged with a huge trash back. All I had to do now was borrow a pair of scissors to make a few slight alterations.

From the Holiday Inn to the start is roughly a mile if I cut across the parking lot. The race started at 6:30 so I left the room about 6:10. A mile warm up and a few strides would be enough for today. Besides, there would be less time for the wind and the rain to affect me.

I had barely left the hotel when I stepped in to the first puddle. The feel of the cold water seeping through my shoes and then through my socks was not a promising start.

My skin felt the stings from the rain being pushed hard by the wind.

Many people were seeking the shelter of the tents. Most of the road was clear of runners. Everyone was waiting until the last minute before making their way to the starting line.

I saw a few guys that I know: Butch, Mike M, Mike B, Dan, and a few others.

The rain seemed to be lessoning as the starting time approached. During my last few strides, the rain had stopped but the wind continue to blow like “no tomorrow”.  

I positioned myself off the left side of the start with the rest of the ½ marathoners.

The start was smooth and efficient. Runners were quickly forming into packs. Everyone was looking for a spot to hide from the wind.

Initially, we were all one big pack, but this quickly splintered in to smaller packs. Checking my Garmin I realized that I needed to be in the pack in front of me. I pushed hard to catch them. Another runner came up beside me and we worked together to catch them.

The wind was buffeting us around, and everyone was jockeying for positions out of the wind. Shoes were getting stepped on and shoulders were getting touched. No one went down but there were a few close calls.

Our group had maybe 8 to 10 guys. I could not see anyone else ahead of us.

We made the turn for miles 6 and 7. Our group was finally starting to split up.

During these opening miles, I crossed my fingers that I would feel a huge push from the wind on the way back.

I saw Peter from Vac & Dash at the 10k point. He was yelling encouragement which I sorely needed. My stomach was churning. I have never had to stop during a race for a bath room break, but the thought crossed my mind. This might be the first time. I guess the Gel at mile one didn’t settle all that well.

I hardly felt any push from the wind long Ocean Blvd. Several places, I actually felt a head wind. I guess as the wind slammed into the hotels, it turned into our faces.

I reached 10 miles in just over an hour.

I knew that I had one more mile before taking the wind head on. My Garmin flashed up my 11 mile split, and I rounded the corner.

“Holy Smokes” was the wind blowing hard.  I leaned into it and forced myself to run forward.

A guy in front of me seemed to be struggling because the gap between us was narrowing. I caught him when we made the turn on Grissom Parkway. We went back and forth until we made the turn into Pelican’s Field. He surged and I chased him all the way to the finish.

My time was 1:19:37 for 19 overall.

After cleaning up, I headed back to the post race area. I looked at the results and was shocked to see that I was the first Masters runner. Last year, a couple of guys ran 1:14 on this course so I expected more of the same. I took home this huge award and had my picture taken with Bubbles the elephant.

All in all, I enjoyed the trip to Myrtle Beach and came away with a solid effort.


Sharing one thought at time,

The Cool Down Runner






Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Neither rain, nor cold, nor snow will stop my tempos runs

Ok, I am beginning to think Mother Nature has it out for me. Since ’14 started, I have been running my tempo runs on Tuesday. Every Tuesday, she has thrown something at me. She started with a Polar Vortex. Then, she moved to freezing rain and back to second round of the Polar Vortex. The last two weeks, she has thrown plenty of snow in my face.

Of course, I could be looking at this all wrong. Mothers tend to know things about us that we don’t realize ourselves. Maybe I have not been putting out my full effort. Clearly, I have changed some things about training for this cycle. Possibly, I need to be toughened up. This is Mother Nature's way of testing me. This is her way of making me prove myself.

Ok, Mom. How about some better weather on Tuesday? I promise to work harder next time.


Sharing one thought at time,

The Cool Down Runner


Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Winter Flight 8k

Until Wednesday, I had been kicking around the idea of running the Winter Flight 8k in Salisbury. My training has included lots of long tempo runs but nothing short or intense. In fact, the last time, I did any type of short tempo run or race was back in November.

On Wednesday, I finally landed on the side of running the 8k. With my Myrtle Beach half looming just over a week away, I really needed to jump start my leg turnover.

Looking around at the start, there are a number of runners that I didn’t know and the thought crossed my mind that any one of them could be a Masters’ runner. With the RRCA-NC 8k Masters’ Road Championship on the line, I wondered how deep that I might have to dig for it. Then, I saw Milton. Milton and I are roughly the same age, and Milton always races hard. I figured I  had my work cut out for me.

Having run Winter Flight many times over the years, I know the course well. The first mile has some climbing in it. The second mile has some rolling hills. Nearly the entire 3rd mile is uphill. The forth mile is about half flat and half downhill. The fifth mile is about half downhill and the rest is rolling. The last 300 meters is on a track inside of the Catawba College Stadium.

Within a quarter mile or so from the start, I had settled in to 4th place. Two lead guys were starting to pull away from the rest of us, and there is a guy running about 30 meters in front of me.

My instincts told me that I needed to catch up to him now. However, I am not absolutely sure of my fitness so I decided to maintain where I was running.

We pass the first mile, and I am not feeling totally winded. Unfortunately, I am feeling good enough to go after him anymore.

 We started climbing and then some rolling hills. I hear the 2nd mile split. My Garmin beeps just before the 2nd mile so I know I am about spot-on for distance. I am just not happy with the split. I feel like I am running hard. The split just didn't showing it.

I can see the police car and the lead runners well up ahead. The hill is pretty much straight up. I know I will be climbing until I can see the signal light. This is the point where the course flattens out, and then the downhill follows.

I finally make the right. I force myself to not look back. Thinking someone is right behind me is more motivation for me than knowing someone is behind me.  

By the way, the 3rd mile was my slowest split of the race.

I have to charge to the finish and I know it.

I am pretty much in “no mans” land now. I pass the 4 mile point. I hear the split being called. I have to keep pushing. I have no time to spare.

We cross the bridge and head up the final hill.

I can feel my ITBs tightening up. My breathing is labored. Cresting the hill, I have only a short distance to run now. I surge trying to find another gear.

Now, I am on the track. The track feels so different from the asphalt. I push again. I can see the elapse race time on the score board.

My time is going to be slower than I hoped but it is better than I expected after hitting my 3rd mile split.

I crossed the finish line, and slapped David Freeze’s hand.

Still I am happy with it.

I finished 4th overall in 29:28 and won the RRCA Masters’ 8k Road Championship. Better yet, I blew the rust out of my system.

Now, I have just a few more solid workouts before heading off to Myrtle Beach and the ½ marathon next weekend.


Sharing one thought at time,

The Cool Down Runner

Thursday, February 6, 2014

The ever changing weather

The weather in Charlotte has just been really crazy the last few weeks. One day the temperature is in single digits. The next day, the weather is nearly 70 degrees.

I am left bouncing between looking for my heavy jacket and even heavier gloves and a singlet and shorts.

Last week, I ran my 10 mile tempo through the snow and wind with the temperature hovering around 20 degrees. This week, I ran my second tempo in the pouring rain with the temperature at a more moderate 39 degrees.

I am still trying to decide which I like better.

One thing is for sure. After experiencing single digit temperatures for a few runs, 39 degrees should feel quite nice for a change.  I just have to set aside the rainy weather for the moment. 

Ok, enough about the weather.

Let’s talk about my tempo run.

My legs seem to be slowly shaking off the post marathon sluggishness. I was 8 seconds faster per mile over last week’s tempo. Ok, maybe not the last thing about the weather. Just because it is miserable conditions outside, I don’t make excuses. The workout goes on just like it would if it were the race day. Running is more mental than physical. I have to “think it” before I can “do it”. But it has to be with a single thought.

Tempo runs has long been my go to workout for building fitness. I have strayed from them in my previous training cycles so I am returning for this one. The nice part about tempo runs, I don’t have to think about them once I am rolling along. I always run them over a known course. I never look at my splits along the way. I run the entire way by monitoring my breathing and general feel in my legs. In my opinion this really helps me because I spend less time worrying about if I should speed up or slow down. Focus should be on running and running alone.

I hope everyone out there is running well and executing their training plans to perfection.


Sharing one thought at time,

The Cool Down Runner

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Run Safer Clinic

A couple of weeks ago, I headed over to the Charlotte Running Company for a Run Safer clinic. Todd William, a two time Olympic Runner, was in Charlotte teaching these sessions for the week.

If running were not dangerous enough avoiding cars, our society has people that will take advantage of an in tentative runner. Being prepared for such times is a must in my opinion.

While the focus of his class is tailored toward women, the concepts that he discusses should work equally well for men or women.
Having daughters, I tend to worry more about their safety. I guess it is just the nature of being a dad. Todd's clinic gave them a glimps in to the training necessary to handle a difficult situation. On our ride home, I was talking to them about taking a class over the summer to expand on his concepts.

During his clinic, he talked about 5 Run Safer Techniques. I have listed them below….

1)      Grip Breaking

2)      Targets

3)      Ground Escape & Offensive Tactics

4)       Counters to attacks from the back

5)      Demonstration of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu

He also discusses Safety Tips that everyone should know……

1)      Safety Word – Invisible Man

2)      What’s Available

3)      Walk Empowered

4)      Don’t Be Predictable

5)      Car Parking and Getting Prepared

6)      Avoid Isolated Areas

7)      Be Smart When Listening to Music

8)      Let Someone Know What You’re Doing

9)      Power In Numbers

10)   Go With Your Gut

11)   Educated Yourself On Self Offensive Tactics

12)   Always Be Aware Of Your Surroundings

13)   Targets And Correct Mind Set

14)   Safety Clock

Todd’s website is See Todd in action as he demonstrates one of his techniques.

Todd teaches these clinics for free.

After the session, I talked to him for a few minutes, and we made tentative plans to hold a clinic for CRC members somewhere in the fall Oct/Nov timeframe.

Like the name of Todd’s website, we could all “Run Safer”.

Sharing one thought at time,

The Cool Down Runner