Monday, March 31, 2014

I am “Spartan”


On the afternoon of March 23, the term “Spartan” was attached to my name. I knew of these races but really never thought much about doing them. Their reputation alone was enough to keep me away. After all, runners are not known for their upper body strength. These races appeared to require a lot of it.

First, I have to thank TrySports and Reebok for hooking me up with some great gear and the opportunity to do a Spartan race. The Cross Fit top and board shorts worked well. The cleat shoes grabbed a little extra mud but they also drained well when submerged in muddy water. They also helped me crawl out multiple thick muddy water pits.

If you read my blog, you know that I put in 8 miles during the Montrail demo run on this same morning. Rather than head home to clean up and drive to the Spartan Run, I hit the Siski Y for a shower. Lord only knows why I thought that I needed one. I knew that later in the afternoon I would be covered in mud.

Runners in the afternoon session were asked to park at the Concord Speedway. Then, there would be a 20 minute or so ride to the actual event location.

After parking and getting the bus ride over, there was a 10 minute walk into one of the fields on Porter Farm which was well out into the country side.

At the registration table, they asked me for my id. I always find this rather comical. Usually when I pick up my marathon bib or here my Spartan bib, they want to see if I am the correct person to receive the bib. As if any normal person would drive way out here, take a bus ride for another 20 minutes, and walk another 10 minute all to get a bib that would allow them to be challenged physically like they had never been challenged before.

In some warp sense, I just find it funny when they ask.

My start time was another hour or so away which was a good thing. Having never been to a Spartan race, there was so much to check out.

The first thing that I noticed there was mud everywhere, and pretty much everyone was covered in it.

The early waves are finishing and covered in mud. I do mean covered. The pit my stomach told me that I am both excited and anxious at the same time. I was also starting to wonder why I let Chris talk me into it.

I watched the people navigate the ladder climb, the Herc Hoist, the horizontal wall, and oh, yes, the rope climb.

Going in to the event, I knew there would be a rope climb. This worried me the most because I was probably 10 or 12 years old the last time I had to climb a rope. And, I surely wasn’t covered in mud or climbing some 30 feet into the air to do it.

I meet Michael, Alex, and Andrew. We hang out near the start and talk about our preparation for this race.

At 2:50 PM, they tell us that the 3 PM can load. To enter the starting corral, I have to climb over a 4ft wall, and I am struggling to do. What will the rest of the run be like?

They start with the whole “I am Spartan” speech. What they don’t know is in the back of my mind I am looking for the courage to not climb out of the starting corral.

I settle in to the middle of the 200 runners in my wave. There are several veteran Spartans but there are just as many if not more “newbies”. At least I wasn’t  alone for my baptism.

Finally, we are sent off through the smoke. There are lots of runners surging forward. I settle in to a nice slow jog.

There is no turning back now.

We run maybe ¾ of mile before we hit a series of walls. They are about 3 to 5 feet in height. Some of the walls, we have to crawl under. While others, we have to crawl over or through the opening in the wall. Between each wall is nothing but mud. My brand spanking new shoes are now a dark brown.

The mud is so sticky that I just try to walk through it. People are already walking so I pass a few of them.

The walls are not difficult so I navigate them easily and didn’t have to do any Burpees. We hit some field sections, trails, and then back to field which leads back to the main area where I watch the rope climb, walls, and hoist.

Watching the people climb the rope, it looked tough. Now crawling down in the pit of muddy water to find a rope to climb, it looked daunting. I find it best not to think too much and just react.  

I seize on a good rope and start climbing. I wrap my legs around and work my way up from one knot to the next. I am nearly at the top. The next bell is just out my reach and I don’t have any more knots to hold on to which would get me any higher. I keep trying but I am slipping back. Finally after multiple efforts, I give in and climb down.

 Failure to complete an obstacle results in 30 burpees. This seems to take forever. After all, I have only been practicing Burpees for the last week and never did more than 10 at any one time.

Finally, I finish my Burpees and head for the inverted wall. This looked a whole lot easier in the YouTube videos that I watched. A couple of guys came up behind me and gave me a boost to get over it.

Being a Spartan is both an individual and team sport. Participates are encouraged to help one another complete challenges.

So once over the top, turned and helped pull them over. Turnabout is fair play in my book. I climbed the wall tower, walked over the beam bridge, and climbed down the other side.

Next, I had the horizontal wall. I basically had to step from one tiny block to another long this wall. The blocks were really tiny so it was easy to slip off.

My shoes were covered in mud which made it even more difficult. I slipped off and headed to do my 30 Burpees. Participants only get one shot to complete a task.

This was followed by Herc Hoist. I set down in a puddle of muddy water and started my effort. Really, I didn’t give it much effort and gave up. The bag was really heavy. I headed to do the 30 burpees. While doing my burgees, I watched the others doing their hoist and realized that I was trying to pull it all with my arms. I really need to use my body wait to move it. I made a mental note and filed it way.

I finished my Burpees and headed off.

Andrew had caught up to me during the challenge, and I caught up on the run.

Some obstacles were close together while others were spread out with lots of running between them.

The barb wire was just plan awful. I was on my stomach pulling myself along. Going through the cold muddy water just gave me extra incentive to go as fast as possible. Although we did take the time to pose for a picture at the end of the obstacle.   

We did the sand bag carry down and up a hill. We climbed over several 8 foot walls. There was the tractor pull where I had to pull a 30 pound cement block.  There was tractor tire drag and return. I did much better on this one. This time, I used my body weight rather than just trying to use just my arms. The tire was still heavy to carry back.

We run along trails and over muddy fields to three huge mud holes. Each was easily over my waist.

Andrew must be part mountain goat and part pig because he just seemed to fly through this stuff.

One of the toughest challenges for me was the 100 pound Atlas ball. Picking the darn thing up was hard and I couldn’t have done it without Andrew’s help. Making things even tougher, I had to carry it about 20 yards, put it down, do 5 burpees, and pick it up, and carry it back. Boy, it was all I could do. When I finished, I promised myself that I would never do it again. Burpees are easer. I cannot believe that I am saying but they are.

The last challenge before heading toward the finish was the spear throw. Andrew suggested throwing high which sounded good me. I don’t get to throw a lot spears. His spear stuck in the hay bale, but my spear fell out. Ugh, another 30 Burpees needed to be done. I waved to Andrew to run on. There was no sense in him waiting me.

Finishing my burpees, I followed the crowd. Some people were running but most were walking. I don’t know how many I passed.

I could hear the music so I knew we were getting close to the finish. I passed more people on the trail where I could. Sometimes the trail was so narrow that all I could do is walk behind them.

I climbed through a ditch and made ready for the last 3 obstacles.

The first was a mud hole filled with water in which you had to pass under the wall. Meaning, I had to completely submerge myself in the water to pass under the wall.

I made my way into the water and got up close to wall. I took a deep breath, closed my eyes, and dove under. I could feel myself passing under the wall and headed for the surface. When I came out of the water, I tried to wipe the mud from my eyes, but I all could see was this brown haze. 3 or 4 more wipes were needed before I could see anything.

The slick wall was next but with the help of the rope, I was over it in no time.

I jumped over the fire and ran through the gladiators banging into us.

I crossed the finish line and became a “Spartan”.

They handed my medal, a banana, and bottle of milk. Andrew came up and we chatted for a few minutes before heading over to pick up our shirts.  

Andrew, then, headed off to get his camera and I headed into the tent to towel off the mud and change cloths.

Andrew and I had our picture taken at the Spartan banner.

Shortly thereafter, I headed back to the buses and my car. Setting on the bus, it finally hit me just how tired that I really was. I just rested my head against the window and waited.

My shower took about 45 minutes before I started to feel anywhere remotely near being clean. I had to wash my cloths 3 times before they were any color other than brown.

I knew this workout was a good one because even walking back to the buses my arms were already feeling sore.

In fact, through Thursday my arms, back, and neck are still plenty sore.

This is in contrast to most of my races where it is my legs that are sore. Other than one blister on my foot, my legs felt great. In fact, each time I took a dip in the cold muddy water, my legs even better during the run.

One of the common questions that I have been asked this week is would you ever do another one? In fact, Chris already said something about wanting to do another one later this year.

Going into it, I was expecting to have an obstacle every quarter mile or so. I am sure that different races have different layouts, but they were certainly a lot more running than I expected. Most of the challenges were not too difficult. I finished and only performed 120 burpees which I thought was excellent considering my total lack of training.

Completing this event, I was happy, tired, and dirty all at the same time. More than anything, I had an extreme sense of satisfaction. Spartan races are tough and they are meant to make you fail. Completing one is a great accomplishment because they definitely pushed me outside my norm.

I might consider doing another one. But one thing is for sure, I will be adding Burpees to my daily workout regimen.


Sharing on thought at time,

The Cool Down Runner










Saturday, March 29, 2014

Bean Town Boys - the last tempo

Dan, Mike, Adam, Billy, John and few others were doing their last tempo before heading off for the Boston Marathon in three weeks. I could resist the change to get out and do a few miles with them. They are all in super shape, and I suspect that they will do really well with their 26.2 mile pilgrimage to Boylston Street.

Me, I was just looking to get in my 16 miles and hopefully before the clouds opened up and dump rain across Charlotte.

Megan told me that she and Val were doing 10 miles at 7 minute. This was perfect for me. I figured to do 3 miles warm up and then 10 with them. I could do the last 3 mile solo if I needed.

There were a ton of people out this morning and they broke up into several groups. In full disclosure there were enough speedy souls to have won most any race in Charlotte this morning.

Megan, Val, and I are clicking a couple of sub 7s before hitting the hills of Landsdown. The pace slowed too just over 7 minute pace on the way back up to PDS. Then, we started our second loop. This time, we were not quite fast but we held study between 7:05 and 7:10 pace.

We finished up right around 70 minutes.

As we were finishing Megan asked if I was interested in going hard for 2 miles and then cooling down for 2 miles. Why not.  Getting in something a little faster might make for a better workout.

We hit the first mile in about 6:08 and then run the second mile in 5:59. Yeah, it was a little downhill but it still felt good to push hard.

And, from the looks of it, all of these guys had a good morning. The humidity was a little tough on them but the rain held off until just after we finished.

Keep your eye on them in three weeks. They are bound to have great runs.


Sharing one thought at time,

The Cool Down Runner


Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Support your local race by volunteering

Sunday morning I volunteered at the Charlotte 10 miler. My task was rather easy. I just had to hand out water at the 4 mile point in the race.

Andrew, Beth, Mo, and Jennifer joined me to work our water stop. They were already very busy setting up when I arrived.

I quickly got out my boombox and put on some of my favorite up temo songs. Music is such a great motivator for runners. Getting some inspiring music at the four mile point would hopefully spur them along.

Philip and Ben come through first. Jason wasn’t far behind. Megan, Alice, Dalena, Michelle were all running together at four miles. I wondered if they were talking more than they were racing. Butch and Chad were not far back. I was beginning to feel like I knew half the field.

Moving on with the story, why I didn’t start doing this, I don’t know. I brought my megaphone to help shout out encouragement while I was handing out water. About a third of the field passed before I started using.

There is nothing like having someone who is yelling specifically for you.

Being at four miles, the entire race field was through pretty quickly. We cleaned up and went our separate ways. Me, I headed over to the 9 mile point.

Stephanie was leading our Charlotte Running Club effort, and I promised to come by once our efforts were finished at four miles.

Stephanie and Julie had their water stop well in hand. At nine miles, runners were coming through one or two at a time. They were easily handling it.

Thus, I grabbed my megaphone and headed to the top of the hill about 20 yards from the water stop. The 10 mile course has a huge hill which finishes up right at 9 miles. I have run on it so I knew it well.

Jennifer joined me and we yelled for the runners as they come up the hill. Many showed the signs of burning quads and lungs as they made their way to the top.

Having a cheering section at the top would hopefully help get them rolling to the finish.

We stayed until the very last runner came through.

Every runner deserves our support, and we couldn’t just leave them hanging.

There are many ways to spend the precise moments that make up our lives. Spending time volunteering is a great way to spend a few of them. The reward for my effort was seeing those runners smile back at me.


Sharing one thought at time

The Cool Down Runner  




Tuesday, March 25, 2014

CRC Social at Vida Cantina

Vida Cantina invited our Charlotte Running Club to have our March club social at their establishment in the Uptown off of Trade Str.

My visits uptown are infrequent these days so I was excited to check it out.

Stephanie did a wonderful job working with the Vida Cantina staff to organize this event. They provided us with a ton of free appetizers.

They just kept bringing the chips and salsa to our table plus several other appetizers. My tummy was nearly at the full mark before I had a chance to order dinner. I choose a burrito with grilled chicken and veggies. I am a big burrito fan and this one was fixed perfectly. I give them a “thumbs up” on it.  

Hanging out with club members and talking running and life is always nice. We spend so much time “running” from one thing to the next during our daily lives that we never really stop and enjoy the friends and family around us.

Thanks Stephanie for all of your efforts on behalf of CRC and I appreciate Vida Cantina for inviting us into their house and treating us so well.


Sharing one thought at time,

The Cool Down Runner

Monday, March 24, 2014

Montrail Shoe Test Run

Saturday morning, I got a chance to test out the Montrail Fluid Flex trail shoe on an actual trail run. Often we, as runners, buy our shoes on faith and a few strides through one of our local Charlotte running stores or possibly worse, we buy them on totally blind faith over the internet. Latter being the worse one could do but this is for another blog post.

Marcus and Dan, from TrySports, were the organizers for our demo run, and I am very appreciative to them.

Before Saturday, I had never run in any Montrail shoe.  Getting to make a circuit on the trails at Beatty in Weddington was really.

The Fluid Flex shoe felt light and nimble. Only in a few instances did I ever feel any rocks underneath my feet.

This particular shoe has a rather snug fit. A size 11.5 could have easily fit my foot in length, but the size 12 gave me a better overall fit. The first thing that I noticed was Montrail shoes tend toward the narrow side. For runners with a narrow mid foot, they would be perfect. My feet are a little wider so in order to get a good fit; I had to go up a ½ size.

Dan and Rick were in my little run group. Pretty much the entire hour and nearly 8 miles flew by with lots of good conversation about shoes, injuries, running, and philosophy. Dan is a philosophy major.

If you are interested in checking out the Montrail shoes, definitely reach out to Dan at the TrySports in Blakeney. You might even talk them into another test run.


Sharing one thought at time,

The Cool Down Runner

Friday, March 21, 2014

Spartan Run is tomorrow

Tomorrow afternoon, my body will be straining to climb over stuff, under stuff, carry stuff, and otherwise doing a bunch of stuff that is normally not in my daily routine. Even on the boldest of days.  

Sunday if not Monday, my body will probably experience more soreness than was produced from my ½ marathon last weekend.

Such is life. We all like to challenge ourselves. I view this Spartan run as another way to challenge myself. Doing something different keeps life interesting.

In the back of everyone’s mind, we want, no we crave to be challenged.  Human nature needs it.

Most people struggle with one real question. How far am I willing to step outside my comfort zone? We all have one. We all wonder if the risk is greater than the reward. Most of the time, the reward is not a huge prize but the personal satisfaction from completing a difficult task and the rewarding experience from making the journey.

Yes, tomorrow, I will step outside my comfort zone. The butterflies will be bouncing around in my stomach at the start. But once committed, always committed.


Sharing on thought at time,

The Cool Down Runner

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Wrightsville Beach ½ Marathon

Early Sunday morning, Laurie and I caught the same shuttle to the start. The wait to be driven over is actually longer than the ride itself, but it did give me the opportunity to meet a few of the other runners.

It just so happens that Paul Sherman and I were on the same shuttle. We ran the Frosty 25k a couple of years ago. A conversation ensued and we talked about working together since we both had similar time goals in mind.

We got to the start. Then Laurie and I headed out for a little 2 mile warm up. Most of the time, my warm-ups are solo so it was really nice to have someone along. After some strides, it was nearly time for the race to start.

The timing guys kept us well back of the starting line so we didn’t accidently trigger the timing system.  

Laurie had said that we wanted to run in the 1:16s. This is fast. I wish that I was in this kind of shape. 

The race starts at 6:45. Meaning the first 4 miles are in the dark. There is plenty of ambient street light but by a mile into the race Laurie was out of sight.

Paul and I had settled in with a group of guys. I missed the first and second miles splits due to the darkness and not being able to see my Garmin display.

But the pace felt good so I figured that I was okay.

A couple of guys came up to our group. One of them, I recognized as Tim Pierce from City of Oaks race last fall.  Tim was setting a little faster pace but after a mile, I finally settled in just off his shoulder.

Another young runner joined our group. When I looked back at 5 miles, I didn’t see Paul. Somewhere in the darkness, he had lost contact with our group.

Maybe it was just me, but Tim seemed to be throwing in these little surges and then backing off ever so slightly. They were never very long or very hard. They were just little accelerations.

The three of us continued this routine along Military Cut off and into Land Fall.

My legs felt okay along Military Cut off but they felt better going through Land Fall. The terrain isn’t hilly. There is enough of a change that I was switching between utilizing my hamstrings and my quads.

By nine miles legs were starting feel the strain. At ten miles, three thoughts crossed my mind. First, I had just run 10 miles in a little over 58 minutes. Two, there were only three miles left. And, three, I need to hang with these guys for as long as possible.

My tank was nearly empty but I managed to stay close on mile eleven. Mile, twelve, they started to open some space on me, and mile thirteen, they will clearly opening some space on me.

My Garmin flashed up the thirteen mile split a 6:06. My legs were starting tie up. They had given me everything that they had. My Garmin read 1:16:51. I went the thirteen mile mark on the road 1:17:17. Could I do a sub 1:18? I knew it would be close. I tried to “will” my legs to run faster. They tried to respond. People were cheering me on. The announcing was calling me. I pumped my arms and forgot about breathing. I could breathe after the finish line.

I stepped on the finish line and stopped my Garmin. Rolling my wrist over to see the display, it showed 1:18:01. Ugh, I was so close.

Really, I was both happy and disappointed at the same time. My goal coming into this race was a 1:18, but I was really expecting a high 1:18. Running 1:18:01 was great, and much better that I thought I could possibly run. Disappointment is probably a little strong for how I felt. It only stemmed achieving one goal and seeing the next goal right there in front of me and ready for the taking. Then, having it snatched away in my case literally at the “last second”.

Looking back at the race, the temperature was right around fifty degrees. There was a little wind but nothing terrible and nothing compared to either Charleston or Myrtle Beach. The skies were overcast, but the threat of rain held off until well after we had finished the ½ marathon.

After the race, I was looking back at my splits. When I run, I like consistency. I really like a very even pace. Running with Tim, our split for miles three through eleven were pretty much spanned a four second range. I could definitely work with him anytime.

Having run both Myrtle Beach half and the Wrightsville Beach halves, in opinion the Wrightsville Beach half is a better course. Because of the change in the terrain between miles six and eleven, runners have a better chance to do well. The shifting terrain gives them a chance to change the working muscle groups which is exactly what they need during this part of the race.

Lastly, I want to give a big shout to Chad C for his race, John M for his BQ effort in the marathon, Jason P for running a 1:21 half after training 14 hours this week, Tim M who is making his way back from an injury, Ulf who is also finding his way back into shape, Laurie, who took no prisoners by running just over 1:15.  

This is definitely a race that I would recommend to others.


Sharing one though at time,

The Cool Down Runners

Monday, March 17, 2014

Spartan Prep Week begins

I signed up for the Charlotte Spartan Run last week, and you would not believe the number of emails that they have been sending me. The emails run the gambit of topics. A lot of them pertain to training but some reference their clothing, videos, and the Spartan food of choice Quinoa.

I must say that I found this “whole” Spartan thing interesting. For those people who live the cross fit life style, the Spartan training life style is perfect. The allure of totally testing out your body and mind could draw any fitness nut into their world. Personally, I like the idea of total fitness. While my fitness centers on running, having a fit upper body makes me a stronger and better runner. I have a few reservations about the climbing over walls, ropes, and crawling through mud.  

Through this week I will be getting ready for Saturday. My own preparations have and will include watching videos from their events on YouTube and practicing such activities as Burpees. Yes, my one week of Spartan training will not prepare me adequately for what they have in store for me. Like I said, my goal is to finish in one piece and enjoy the experience. Plus, I want to at least look like I know what I am doing. The “key” world here is “look”.

It will be fun. At least I hope so.  LOL.


Sharing one thought at time,

The Cool Down Runner

Friday, March 14, 2014

Off to the races this weekend

Well, just about four weeks have passed since my Myrtle Beach ½ marathon. I don’t need to remind you what a day that was. There was a driving rain right up to the start which was followed by one ugly head wind during the race.

This weekend Wrightsville Beach ½ marathon is on my plate. To get ready for it, I have been watching the weather forecast. If the weatherman is right, there will be 100% chance of rain on Sunday morning and 13 mph wind to face. Oh yeah, the temperature is expected to be a nice warm 52 degrees.

Enough is enough. I am starting to believe Mother Nature has it in for me. When I look back at Charleston, the conditions were just as tough. The temperature was in the lower 30s, but the wind was about as harsh as it can get.

Maybe I am expecting too much to expect anything different.

I ran 1:19 at Myrtle Beach and I am pretty sure that I didn’t get my best effort. My hope is to go 1:18 at Wrightsville Beach. Who really knows? I will wake up Sunday morning and run what I run.

Maybe my legs will finally show up.

One thing is for sure. I will be packing a few extra trash bags for race morning.


Sharing one thought at time,


The Cool Down Runner

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Spartan Races

Via stories from other runners, Spartan races have the reputation for being insanely hard. Flipping huge tires, climbing walls, crawling through mud is this really having a good time. Some people might say yes.

Doing one of these races just hasn’t been my radar. After all, I run every day. I cannot recall but it has been a long time since I last had to climb over a wall during one of my runs. I did get a plenty of mud on me during my last run at McAlpine. However, I suspect it doesn’t begin to compare with the amount of mud taken on during a Spartan race.

So why am I talking about the Spartan races? Well, this week my buddies at TrySports invited me to join them for an upcoming Spartan race here in Charlotte.

When the invite came out, I laughed. But as I thought more about it, why not try it.

Runners have a warped sense of what fun really is anyway.LOL.

So I signed up.

What is my goal for the race? The answer is easy. I want to finish and without hurting myself.
Maybe the real first clue that this is a hard race comes during the registration process. The checkout page list a line item for insurance and tells me that it is required. $14 bucks for this insurance. I have run quite a few races over my many years of running. Never have I bought insurance for a race.

Spartan races are more about the experience and challenging yourself to do something different and difficult. I want to believe this is the primary reason that people do them. I like to step outside my norm from time to time. This Spartan race should qualify.


Sharing on thought at time,

The Cool Down Runner

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Mt. Charlotte hill loop

Over the years, I have lost count of the number of times that I have run from the Old Bell entrance to the McAlpine Greenway. Many of these times, I have run the little out and back along “Old Bell” road just to add some mileage.

Never once have I been so incline to make the left turn and head the “super” steep hill at the end of this road.

Why not? Well, for starters, I run at McAlpine for one major reason. McAlpine offers probably the flattest stretch of dirt for running in Charlotte. Driving to McAlpine just to run hills doesn’t make a lot of sense.

Fast forward to last weekend, I am running with the Beantown Bound Boys on a 16 mile run. About 12 miles, they decided to do the Mt. Charlotte hill loop. I hear them talking about this loop only two things ring clearly: “4 phases” and “Steep”.  I suspect that I will regret my decision to follow them.

We head up the first hill. It hurts. My stride slows and my breathing picks up. We hit the second and third hills. They are just as tough and maybe longer. We hit the forth hill which just leaves my hip flexors aching.

I tell Dan that I really hate him for dragging me up over these hills. LOL.

We headed back to the park and I really wanted to finish with just some flat easy miles. No, the Beantown boys decided to do it again.

Yes, I could have opted out. There is no really shame in having some common sense. But no, I join in and run the Mt. Charlotte loop for a second time.

An age old question needs to be asked. Is it better to know what’s coming or to proceed forward blindly?

Speaking specifically for this particular loop, I would say go into it blindly.

My quads and hip flexors were absolutely trashed.

Will I do it again? Heck yeah.



Sharing one thought at time,

The Cool Down Runner

Monday, March 10, 2014

Time and Speed

How do a get my legs to turn over faster? Well, for starters, I need to perform activities that make them turn over faster. Sadly, admitting these activities are missing from my regular routine is a little embarrassing.

Like most working professionals with careers outside of running who still strive to run fast, I tend to cut corners due to the limited time in my schedule.

Instead of the extra five minutes to do some strides after a run, I jump in my car to head off for something else that needs to be done.

I tell myself. It is just this one time. Then, it happens again and again. Soon, I am just jumping in car every time and without doing anything.

Overtime, my legs grow accustom to running slower and before I realize it, this becomes my new norm.

Getting out of the “slow” norm and back to the “fast” norm is never easy.

We all budget our daily lives. 5 minutes goes here. An hour goes there. Before you know it, the day is over.

I wish I could set here and tell you that I have a solution for this issue, but I don’t. I struggle with the same problem.

But over the coming weeks, I do plan to share what I will be doing to get my legs turning over faster.  

Stay tuned here


Sharing one thought at time,


The Cool Down Runner

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Hoka One/One Stinson Tarmac

“Word” really started circulating last year about the Hoka running shoes. The first pair that I encountered, I thought they made the runner look two inches taller. The shoe’s outward appearance left every runner knowing that there was plenty of cushioning between the runner’s feet and the ground.

Fast forward to this year, runners everywhere seem to be talking about these shoes. Several firsthand accounts told of the difference that these shoes made with their running.

Trying a pair of them hadn’t been on my radar until my buddies at TrySports hooked me up with a pair of the Stinson Tarmac. TrySports now carries the entire Hoka shoe in their Charlotte stores.

From my first stride, there was clearly a difference in this shoe’s ride.

Most my people know that my training program contains loads of mileage and has numerous runs in excess of 20 miles. Near the end of these long runs my feet are usually pretty beat up.

My first run in the Tarmac was for seven miles. This was just to test them out and see how they felt. My second run was for 14 miles. To my surprise, my feet felt much better over the last few miles. Next up will be an 18 to 20 mile run. If my suspicions are correct, my feet will be much happier.
The Hoka running shoes come in two lines: trail and road and range in price from $130 to $170.
One might think these shoes were much heavier given the additional cushioning but the Tarmac weigh in at just 11.9 oz. This is pretty much inline with other running shoes in my collection.

Now, some of you may still be turning a questioning or sarcastic eye at them. But give them a try. Go into TrySports and do a test run in them. Then, decided for yourself.


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The Cool Down Runner

Friday, March 7, 2014

10,000 Days Group Run

My 10,000th consecutive day was just absolutely an awesome experience Wednesday. I could not have imaged anything better.

But before going forward, let’s go back.

Let’s go back a few months. This whole idea for this group run germinated out of a conversation that occurred during a run. I was telling everyone that I was coming up on 28 years without missing day. I guess the next logical question was that was asked – just how many consecutive days was it?

I did some calculations and discovered that I was coming up on my 10,000th day. This was back in early January. Someone actually told me last night that I was lucky. I could have discovered this fact on day 10,001. I had to laugh their comment because they were absolutely right. What a bummer it would have been to figure it out after the fact.

I, then, created a FaceBook event for it and added it to our CRC upcoming event calendar. There was the initial buzz about it and then, things died down about it.

About a week ago, things started pickup up steam again. We were posting it to our club’s FaceBook and Twitter accounts. Anytime I was running with a group, I told them about it and invited them to attend.
Melinda gets a “big thumbs up” for getting the word out to the Charlotte Observer which ran a store about it. Also, she got WBTV to run a piece about in their “Good News” segment.

By the time yesterday arrived, I couldn’t wait to for 6:30 and head down to Triple C Brewery for my run.
Running has given me a happy and healthy life, but it has given me so much more. Through running I have been blessed to have made so many great friendships. These are people that otherwise I would have never met.

Rick, Danny, David, John, Chaz, Loril, Wendy, Rob, Paul, Billy, Steve, Ed, Pete, Matt, Suzanne, Mike, Jinnie, Stan, “Roxie”, Noah, Peter, Sharon, Anthony are just a few of the runners and “dog” to help me celebrate this day.

I would like to especially thank Peter from Vac & Dash Running Store in Albemarle for giving out free “10,000 Day t-shirts” to everyone that ran last night.  I had no idea that he was planning to do this. Peter is an awesome guy which is major reason that I journey over to Albemarle to run their race during the year. 

I would like thank Mike for the picture that everyone signed last night. I met Mike about 6 years ago and since then we have done may runs together some through thunderstorms. His gift was awesome and one that 

I will treasure forever.

Just before we went running last night, Jinnie and TrySports presented me with a new Garmin. About 7 years ago, I got hooked up with the guys from TrySports. Like a bad penny, they just have not been able to get rid of me. They do a lot for running here in Charlotte, and I love being on their TrySports Ambassador team.

One of the nicest surprises came from Wendy and Rob. They presented me with a huge brownie with my “10,000 Days” inscribed on top of it. Thank you both for this gift. Please know that it went over well. Pete and Mike came back for seconds and possibly thirds.

What will I be doing on day 10,001? The answer is I will run. There is no end in sight at this point.

Also I want to announce right now that I will be holding my 30 years of running celebration on Oct 20th, 2016 at Triple C Brewery at 6:30 PM. Put it on your calendars now.

Sharing one thought at time,
The Cool Down Runner   

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

The 10,000 Day is finally here

I set here this morning and hardly believing that my 10,000 consecutive run is now here. Several months ago out a brief conversation, we started talking about how many days were in my streak. When I calculated the number of day and saw that 10,000 was just right around corner, I tossed out the idea of having a group run to celebrate it.

After all, runners love a good reason for gathering and running. This seemed like an ideal one.

Over the last few days things have snow balled up. The Charlotte Observer caught wind of it and is running a story about it. Yesterday, WBTV started talking about my 10,000 day run.

I had expected a few friends might show up, and we would go for a short run.

At last count, my FaceBook had close to 60 people coming.

I am so excited and honored that so many people want to share in this special day with me.

To each and every one of you, please know that I appreciate all of the kind remarks and hope to see you tonight at Triple C.


Sharing one thought at time,

The Cool Down Runner

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Getting older

As we get older we all lose muscular strength. The decrease usually starts after in our 30s and seems to increase as we enter are 40s, 50s, and so on.

I realize that I am not immune to this effect, but I thought I was doing the right workouts to slow its progress.

This all seemed to be working until the last couple of years.

Around 48, my stride rate seemed to slow by a few steps and my ability to tackle hills become tougher. Sometimes, I feel more like I am running in to the hill than running up it.

The frustrating part is to run up a familiar hill that I once bounded up effortless. The same hill now seems longer and steeper.

Combine this with the facts that my max heart rate is ever decreasing and my ability to recover from hard workouts takes longer and longer, I am now a runner that is being held together with duct tape and bubble gum.

The saddest part is that I will never be any better than I am today. Am I being too pessimistic or what?

Getting older and slowing down is all part of life.

At some point, I may decide the effort vs. the reward is just not worth it. I just have not reached this day as yet.

Today, I will head out for my tempo run and continue the fight against getting older for another day.


Sharing one day at time,

The Cool Down Order