Sunday, July 27, 2014

3rd week recap

This week my mileage pushed upwards of 76+ miles. This included an 8 mile tempo run on Tuesday, a mid-week long run of 14 miles on Thursday and a 22 mile effort on Sunday(today).

My 8 tempo run felt the same as the one last week but the difference showed up in the splits. After a mile warm up, I shifted each mile in to a progressively higher gear. I was able to drop the last mile in 6:21 over a rolling hill course on a rather warm and muggy morning.

Thursday morning, I caught the group running out of the Dowd Y for 9 of my 14 miles. The miles felt brisk but bearable. We ran this long loop that finished with us returning along McDowall and Morehead back to the Y. David, who was finishing up this own 14 miler, hung with me for another mile. Then, I was solo for the last 4 miles. I loved the assist. They made the first 9 miles fly by quickly.

Fast forward to this weekend, my training schedule had my long run on Saturday and an easy run on Sunday. Luckily for me, I switched them around.

Sunday, I left my house with the sun just breaking over the horizon off to the east. While in the west, far too many ominous looking clouds were headed my way. May be 4 miles, a steady rain began to beat down on me. This lasted through about 8 miles when it stopped. I half expected the clouds to clear out and the temperature to rise quickly, but they never did.

Most of the run I felt like I was struggling. Then, with 3 miles left, I started just pushing the pace. Kicked in a nice 6 something mile for mile 22 which was a nice sight to see in my Garmin.

This places me 3 weeks into my marathon training plan, and I have just another 4 week of training before Lehigh.  I feel like I have way more work to get ready than I have time to do it.


Sharing one thought at time,

The Cool Down Runner


Friday, July 25, 2014

Every day runner

During our run Tuesday morning the subject was broached about running every day. Of course, this peaked my interest because I have some (okay, quite a bit of) experience when it comes to being a daily runner.

Becoming a daily runner is easy enough. You just go out the door every day and don’t look back.

However, once you have decided to switch to being an every day runner, these are some things to keep in mind.

For example, plan your daily mileage out. Try to keep a least one easy run day between each hard run day. Learn to take more easy days if your body starts to feel sluggish, tired, or sore.

Another particular scenario tripping up runners is running all of their workouts too fast.  I tell people to run their easy days easy. Put your Garmin away. Go for a run and just enjoy it. Be cautious of running with others because you can easily get pulled into running their pace. Your easy run can be transformed in to something much harder than you ever expected.

Based on my own running experience runners falling into this trap will eventually start to flatten out. By this I mean that their ability to continue to improve will level off. They may even start to slide slightly backward.  This cycle will like continue until their bodies have adequately recovered.

But if you keep my advice in mind and cycle in some easy days between your hard days, you should see some gains in your running performance.

 Just to clarify before someone goes away thinking this is the secret to all things successful in running. There is certainly more to training than alternating your hard and easy days. I suggest reading up on training plans. There are a number of great coaches that have created some awesome generic training plans. Read a lot about running and training. Look for a training plan that fits your personal running goals and life style.
Log those miles. 

Sharing one thought at time,

The Cool Down Runner




Monday, July 21, 2014

First Marathon training week

Was last week a strange week around Charlotte or what? Either it was 90 degrees and over the top humidity or the rain was falling. Either way, I always seemed to be coming home soaked.

Last week also saw me ramping up my training for the Lehigh Marathon. Tuesday morning there was 8 mile tempo run. This was followed by my first 20 miler on Saturday morning. I hadn’t run a 20 miler since January. Believe when I say that I felt those last 4 miles.

In addition, my mileage surged back into the upper 70s. Yes, I know first rule of them for runners “Don’t increase mileage and intensity at the same time”. The most common result is an injury. So far, I have been lucky.

I still feel like I am getting back from my vacation. Even thou, it was more than two weeks ago. I had a nice mojo going while I was running those track events. Now, I find that I am struggling a bit. I guess it is to be expected. It is also probably a good thing that I am not running my absolute hardest at this point. Give me another 4 to 5 weeks I should be back on solid footing and ready to roll right into the Lehigh Marathon – keeping fingers crossed.


Sharing one thought at time,

The Cool Down Runner

Saturday, July 19, 2014

CRC's Summer Track Night

Tuesday night, I organized CRC’s summer track night under the lights. Frankly, leading up to this evening, I didn’t know what to expect. I had never done anything like before so I was very nervous about doing a good job. Mostly, I just hope the runners would like the idea of running under the lights as much as I did. This is all came about because several years ago I ran a 5k under the lights in south Charlotte. I have run numerous night road races but there was just something different that night. I have always wanted to repeat the experience. Although on this night, I would not get to run myself, I would at least give others the chance at the same experience.  

Behind the scenes I had spent countless hours emailing and talking with people. I managed to get all the running stores in Charlotte to say that they were attending. I talked up the event almost constantly over the last couple of months.

In the end, I just hope to have 20 runners come out and enjoy a fun evening at the track.

The day before the event was pretty much a mad house. Tons of emails flying around asking where to park, what time to arrive, what was the address of UNCC. Oh yeah, and what happens if it rains. Just my luck, Monday not a drop falls around Charlotte. But Tuesday, the storms start rolling through about 3pm.

I tell everyone that unless it is thundering and lightening, we will be running. Luckily, the running gods smiled down on us. The rain halted or stayed at a distance from about 6:30 pm to 9:30 PM. In fact, it was starting to rain as we finished packing up.

I have to say I could not have done it with Mike, Jeannette, Lori, and Audrey’s help. They were just awesome. Setting here now, there is no way to fully express in words how thankful that I am. They were on top of the every task from handing out water, to registration of runners, to timing. I saw them doing things that I hadn’t even thought of doing.

Ed had sent me an email saying that the field was off limits. UNCC had invested in a new turf for the soccer field and didn’t want anyone on it.

I knew that I had a bunch of tents coming so I wondered where I was going to put all of them. A few minutes after 5, I was out the track and started accessing the situation.  Most people have either 10 x 10 or 12 x 12 tent or something slightly in between. Fortunately, the UNCC track has just enough room to setup the largest of these tents between the stadium seats and the track.  All during the event runners could mingle at the tents and watch the events as they happened. It couldn’t have worked out better.

I had budgeted out roughly 10 minutes between events with the first event starting at 7 PM. One of my main concerns was could we stay on time or would we be running behind. To my surprise, we stayed right on time and at one point were about 5 minutes ahead of schedule.

We ran two heats of the 5k. The first heat was an open heat and the night cap was the faster heat.  Counting laps while running can be difficult. This is especially true once a runner gets to laps 6 -11. I have done it numerous times. But everyone was great at counting their own laps. When it comes to runners,  I find they are all about the honor system. No runner wants to run a short race.

Thus, both races turned out to be awesome.

All in all, it was an amazing evening. Like I said, I hoped for maybe 20 runners to show up. We had over 70 runners and with supporting crew and spectators over a 100 people.  The event turned out to be something beyond my wildest dreams.

The one question that I have been getting is will I be doing more of them. The answer is probably yes.  Having never run track in high school or college, I find a certain fascination with track running.

At this time, I don't have any solid plans for events. 

I love the whole relay lay concept. I have had a few requests for a 4 x 800 event. I would like to do entire event of just relays. May be a relay with a 4 x 100, 4 x 400, 4 x 800, 4 x I mile, and a medley relay - 4 x with legs of 100, 400, 800, and 1.  

I have also never done a 10k on the track. This is something that I would like to do as well.

Then, there is the Ultimate runner concept that the Twin City Track Club does. Remember back our to local summer track meets where I ran all of the events, I would love to hold a similar event here in Charlotte.

In the end, it is all about time and energy. My family, my paying job, and my own running takes precedent. Then, there is being the Charlotte Running Club President and the running of the Charlotte Running Club. I sometimes feel like I need two of me to get it all done.

So stay tuned. If there is enough interest and I found the time, I may just make it happen.


Sharing one thought at time,

The Cool Down Runner




Thursday, July 17, 2014

Don’t fear making mistakes.

Some posts I know exactly what I want to say and I know how I want to say it. Then, there are times like today where I have this thought that I just cannot quite wrap my head around and put in to words.

Making the effort is what it is all about.

The thought has crossed my mind many times about why people tend to take the safer less risky path. The world tends to frown upon us when we make mistakes and fail at a given task. We are called out in front of our coworkers, our friends, or our family. Our failings are displayed for the entire world to see. Sometimes, this is even to the point of embarrassment. No one likes to be put in these situations because they just emotionally feel so uncomfortable. Taking the safer less risky path minimizes our exposure to adversity.

Most people know that I run. Others might know that I work with computers all day long. What people might not know is that I am an avid reader. I read extensively about developing healthy habits, about building and maintain relationships, and about leadership.

All of these books are great because they help provide me with a context beyond my own personal circle of knowledge. To be able to know that someone else has experienced a similar situation and how they handled it gives me guidance for what I should do.

I am no different from anyone else. I make mistakes and plenty of them. Where I am trying to grow is in how I deal with these situations when mistakes happen. There is an old saying “Treat others as you want to be treated”. When a mistake gets made people should look less at the person making the mistake and more at the reason why the mistake happened. Charging after the person making the mistake is the easy solution. Spending the additional time and energy to solve true origin of the mistake often gets lost in the ensuing chaos.  

Over the past couple of years, I joined the Charlotte Running Club board, became President of the club, and helped organize and directed club events. Along the way I have made numerous mistakes and have learned plenty from them. In fact, I view it like on the job training. Albeit, it is my nonpaying job.  Along the way, I have been extremely fortunate to be surrounded with numerous friends that have helped me make it all happen.  Plus, they helped me grow in ways that I never imaged.

To say it bluntly, the fear of making a mistake and failing often keeps us from doing something really awesome. By giving into this fear we are holding ourselves back. By fearing the commitment needed and repercussion if something goes wrong we never reach our full potential. In my opinion, good leaders understand this better than most people. They don’t charge ahead blindly but they do charge ahead. They understand better than most that the fear of making a mistake and failing shouldn’t be something that holds one back.

Fear is something that should be overcome.


Sharing one thought at time,

The Cool Down Runner





Friday, July 11, 2014

Lehigh Marathon Prepping

Okay, in just 8 and ½ weeks, I will be standing at the starting line for the Lehigh Marathon. Some people might think that 8 and ½ weeks is not enough time to adequately prepare for a marathon.  Honestly, I would agree with them. Most runners like a lead up of at least 12 to 16 weeks.  This extra time allows for them to gradual increase their mileage, long runs, long interval etc with a reduced risk of injury.

I followed this approach for several of my marathons but I found that I felt flat on marathon day. Yeah, I ran a decent time but the drive both in my legs and mentally was not what I wanted. Marathon training is tough. The intervals are tough. The long runs are tough. The commitment in time, energy, and motivation is greater on the body and the mind.

There is another reason why that I started reducing my marathon lead up time to around 8 weeks. Because my mileage already ranged from the mid 70s to low 80s per week, further increasing just didn’t make a lot of sense to me. Instead I concentrated on running my long runs and speed work.

Over my last few marathons, I have arrived feeling fresher and better prepared for the race. Does the reduced time hurt my performance on race day? Well, it is hard to say.  I do believe that I never achieved my best efforts when I felt tired while standing at the starting line.  

The old adage “better to be a little under trained and run above your ability than be overtrained and run under it” makes a lot sense to me.

The proof will be displayed on race day some 8 weeks from now so check back and see how that I do.


Sharing on thought at a time,

The Cool Down Runner




Thursday, July 10, 2014

Back to the grind stone

So the first couple of days back from vacation are like having back to back Mondays. Know what I mean. Finish your week where everything was flowing smoothly. Then, take a couple of days off and boom everything goes sideways on the first day back. Every task just seems to be a bit more of a struggle.

That’s what I am going through right now. While the rest of my body says go run, my legs would be oh so happy if I stopped after just two miles. It should come as no surprise that I cannot do it. I need copious amounts of miles. Mileage help me maintain my sanity.

The woes of vacation time will soon disappear and the steady beat of my running shoes pounding the pavement will return.


Sharing one thought at time,

The Cool Down Runner

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Hoarding from the post race food bins

Reading some of the articles about runners taking away huge bags of food from races frankly doesn’t surprise me.

On more than one occasion, I have seen runners carrying away extra donuts, drinks, and bagels post race.  

Up and until reading some of these recent articles, I never thought too much about it.

Personally, I rarely eat anything from the post race food tables. Aside from the bananas, bagels or sports drinks, any remaining food is what I consider junk food and therefore, would never eat it.

I prefer to have my own food available in my car or in my drop bag.

This makes it hard for me to explain why people take so much food.

Just the thought of finishing a race and being hungry, this leaves me feeling for the runners that finish later in the event. They have been out there for a long time and worked just as hard. They are probably more deserving of food and drinks than the faster runners.

Runners really need think about their fellow runners. Take what you really need and not more than you need.


Sharing one thought at time,

The Cool Down Runner

Ultimate Runner Recap

Sorry about the delay in posting this event. Vacation and downtime take a priority over posting to my blog. Family time as it should takes precedent.

Okay, the 28th of June my to-do list got another item checked off – The Ultimate Runner – presented by the Twin City Track Club.

These guys put on an awesome event from the logistic of moving runners through the events to the post race party at Bob’s.  This makes total sense when I think about it. They have been putting on this event for the last 28 years.

After spending all of June running track workout after track workout, the time had finally arrived for me to put racing shoe to track on last time.

The training workouts really paid off for me. The Ultimate Runner turned out to be no where as hard as the workouts that I had been doing. Which really make sense when I think about it. Drop an extra heat of the mile, 800, and no 200. Add in the fact that there was plenty of rest between events, and things couldn’t have worked out better for me.

To start things off, my warm up was shortened. Usually, my warm up consist of 3 to 4 miles before starting the events. This particular evening it would only be 2 miles before racing the mile. The remaining miles would be used later in the evening to keep loose between the events.

All week long there had been quite a bit of shifting around with the seed times so heading into the weekend, I was pretty happy to still being seeded into heat one. I felt like being in heat one gave me the greatest amount of time to recover between events. In hindsight this might have not been the best of ideas. Yes, being in heat one gave me the most recovery time as expected, but it also meant that I was running against guys much faster.

In the mile, I was seventh in my heat and forth in the XC 5k. Otherwise, I was pretty much last in the 400, 800, and 100 for my heats. The only bright spot because they were so much faster, the inside of the track was pretty much always clear for me to run. 

Mentally, I just had to put the “finishing last in the heat” thoughts out of my mind because the times that I was posting were still excellent for me.

Okay, here’s the recap from the events.

After a brief 2 mile warm up, we gathered at the starting line for the spreading of the ashes from last year’s shirts and the start of the first event.

We got 2 commands “on your marks” and the “gun”.

These guys took it out what I would describe as was pretty easy for the first 200 meters before kicking it into high gear. The gap between them and me was quickly growing wider. But with each pass of the clock, I knew I was running pretty fast. I was trying to dig in on the last lap and flashed across the line in 5:08. Compared to them, I felt old and slow but the clock said that I had nearly run my fastest mile of the year. I was excited about my start.

After the race, I walked it off to recover and saved my legs. They needed nearly 90 minutes to complete all 8 heats of the mile. As they neared the end of the mile heats, I was back out doing more strides in the shade because it was so hot and humid.

My 400 was 67 seconds. My best all time 400 is 66 and it was nearly 6 seconds faster than my summer track times.

Next up was the 800 which I again preceded with more strides. The heats of the 400 went by fast and rather than set down, I kept moving to keep my legs loose.  Boom, I ran 2:26.7. Again, this was a PR for the year.  In fact, it was a PR for the last couple of years.

Since the track only has 6 lanes, they run 100 meters with just 6 runners which made for more heats of the 100. Actually, there were 17 heats of the 100. My seeding positioned put me in the 2nd heat of the 100. In all honesty, this event worried me more than any other. A couple of runners had already pulled up with injuries. The last thing that my body needed was a hamstring pull.

When I flashed across the line and saw a 14.3 time for the 100, I was ecstatic. Finishing last didn’t matter when running over 3 seconds faster. Awesome!

The rest of the 100 meter heats went by fairly quickly and we gathered on the back side of the track for the start of the XC 5k.

For the XC course, we would be doing a lap and ½ on the track followed a combination of trail, dirt, grass, gravel, and pavement.

One thing I had not thought about was how dark that it was getting.

But I knew the course and I was looking forward to seeing how much that I had left in the tank.

After the lap and half, I was 7th leaving the track. By the mile I had moved up to 5th place. Even thou, the visibility was difficult as dusk gathered, I tried to keep pushing. On the final loop, I moved in to 4th place. The top 3 guys were gone.  I could not even see them as dusk fell over the park.

We finished with a lap and half on the track. I finished 4th overall in 18:50 for 3.22 miles.

My overall place was 15th and 14th among the males. They give away mugs to the top 15 males so I felt really lucky to have scored an Ultimate Runner Mug and one of the prized “Ultimate Runner” shirts.

Looking at the results, my worst event compared to the rest of the field was the 400 where I finished 42 overall. The 800 I finished in 14. The 100 I finished 27th overall.

Having never run track during either high school or college, I find that I have a certain fascination with going around in small circles as fast as I can. This is definitely an event that I will consider running again next year.

Great Job – Twin City Track Club – you guys rocked it.


Sharing on thought at time,

The  Cool Down Runner



Monday, July 7, 2014

A much needed vacation

After the Ultimate Runner, I really needed some much needed downtime. Easy running was just what the doctor ordered.

I had spent pretty much every week aside from my post marathon and half marathon weeks training pretty hard over the first six months of this year. Then, in April I started my first round of real hard speed sessions which lasted through the Ultimate Runner competition on Saturday a week ago.

The next day I started my vacation. I went for an easy 8 miles on Sunday, 4 miles on Monday morning. Then, Tuesday through yesterday, the days passed with me barely running - just 2 miles per day.

My legs really felt trashed on Monday and Tuesday. Wednesday, they still felt tired but more from the ton of walking that I was doing rather than running. Thursday through Saturday, my legs finally started to have a little more "pep" in them.

This week will be a return of  more normal schedule of running for me. Honestly, I am looking forward to it.

Taking those super easy and short days helped my body bounce back, but mentally, I can feel the itch to return for some longer harder runs.

Downtime is never easy for me. I like to be training hard all of the time, but sometimes, I have to get it through my thick skull that the easy days are just as important as the hard days.

Time to get back to work.

Sharing one thought at time,
The Cool Down Runner