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.


My fingers slides over my Garmin to the start button


One last deep breathe.



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










Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Old School Workout - 800s

We had a big crew of runners at PDS this morning. Paul was leading the 1600 crew. Aaron was leading the 1200 crew. Steve, Donny, Caleb and I were doing 800s.

With the temperature hovering just over 50 degrees at 5:30 AM, we were all intching to get started. Following the usual plan, we hit the roads for a couple of miles, and then finished with a couple of laps on the track. 

Since everyone was running a similar pace, we all started together. 

Boy, was I glad that I wasn't running the 1200s or the 1600s.

I was well in back of the pack with a 2:40. The rest of our workout, we were off sequence with everyone else. Caleb was looking smooth. Donny, Steve, and I were doing out best to stay with him.

After my 2:40 first interval, I went 2:42, 2:41, 2:40, 2:40, and 2:40. Each interval, I was running just off Steve shoulder. On the straights, I tried to push up along side him but on the turns, I would slip back. Through the first 5 intervals, I could never get a clear step in front of him.

Finally, on the last interval, I was able to push just ahead of him and grabbed the inside lane. Steve always closes strong. I just hoped that I was feeling strong enough to hold the pace that I was committed.

With 500 to go, my legs felt topped out. My breathing was more like a gasping of breathe and than my usual steady breathing pattern.

300 to go, it took all I could muster to convice my legs that I shouldn't stop. 200 to go, I didn't want to hold anything back.

100 to go, keep pushing to the finish.

Caleb finishes. I am just a short distance behind him. Then comes Steve and Donny.

I slow to a walk/jog and let my breathing return to normal.

This was on of my best workouts in a while. I attribute all of it to have Caleb, Steve, and Donny being out there. Getting out of bed and running at 5:30 isn't easy by any means. We would probably all rather be sleeping nice and warm in our beds, but we do this because we want something more. We all know that success is built on consistancy and hard work.

This is why we do it.

Sharing one thought at time,

The Cool Down Runner

Friday, October 17, 2014

Yearly Biometric Screening

A couple of weeks ago, I made my yearly doctor visit. Let’s be honest here. I really only make this visit because my company insurance knocks off $50 bucks each month from my health insurance premium. Over the course of a year, this $50 bucks translated into several pairs running shoes.  To a runner, running shoes are like gold, and who doesn’t need a little extra gold in their closet.

Anyway, yesterday, my results came in the mail.

With anything like this, I was trying to make sense of them. What might have been truly helpful is if I had my results from my last year’s test, but I didn’t. Since this visit occurs about the same time each year, I looked back to my blog post from last year.  

Overall the doctor said my labs looked great.

My Cholesterol level was 159 which was about 9 points higher than last year.

My HDL level was 54 which lower than the expected level of 60.

My LDL level was 90 which was good because the expected range needs to be less than 100.

My BUN (Blood Urea Nitrogen) test was higher than the norm of 8 -20. My level was 22. Okay, so when I find that I am not in the norm, I go searching the internet for the answer or possibly the excuse. Having a high protein diet (could be my large veggie diet) or dehydration, hum, maybe I should have drunk more water that morning. After all, I did hammer a big workout the same morning.  For sure, I was dehydrated because my weight was 144.

My glucose level was 83 which is on the low range. Again, it was post my workout. Okay, cut me some slack here. They just said that I couldn’t eat for the 12 hours leading up to my test. They said nothing about not running myself into the ground before the test. LOL.  

My sodium level was in the high range at 142. Not real sure if this was good or bad. It was on the high range.

My potassium level was 4.3 which was right in the middle of the range.

My Tryiglycerides level was 76 which was way less than the 150. Some additional reading says that I want this one to be low.

My CO2 levels were 29 for a range of 22-32. I wonder if the residual of lactic acid in the blood can effect this value.

So many questions and so few answers, education is a lifelong process.


Sharing one thought at time,

The Cool Down Runner

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Metric Miles

Yesterday evening, I watched the weather man talk about the potential for thunder storms to roll through Charlotte during the early AM hours.

Planning for the worst is always the best approach when it comes to dealing with the rain. Extra towels, socks, and clothes went in to the back of my car.

Then, there is nothing like raising from a heavy REM sleep to hear the rain pounding on my roof.

Pushing my car door open, I could feel the ugly humidity level and 70 degree temperature, but luck must have been on my side because there was no rain.

Ryan, Megan, Paul, Steve, and Caleb joined me for my warm up miles. Caleb and Steve would join me for my metric mile workout.

Why metric mile? Well, because this workout focused on the 3k and 1500 intervals during the workout: 3000 (800 recovery) 1500 (400 recovery) 800 (200 recovery) 400 (100 recovery) and 200 (then a cool down run).

This is one of my favorite workouts for a number of reasons.

·         Ladder workouts  - Different distance intervals requires different energy levels

·         Ladder workouts – Running descending interval means running each subsequent interval at a faster pace

·         This workout is also a great 5k race simulator. With these 3.5+ miles in intervals, it takes me just beyond a 5k race. Right up to the point where I would be sprinting to the finish line.

·         Then, there is the short recovery. My quads are burning still with lactic acid which scrubs off my ability to run well

·         Lastly, there is the twist of doing 3000 and 1500 instead of the more standard 3200 and 1600. Sometimes the brain can get locked into doing a certain pace for a certain distance. Throwing something different out can get the brain to run faster than it might otherwise allow.

During the 3000 Caleb and I ran stride for 2400 meters. Then, he pushed hard over the last 600 meters. I finished in 10:32. The 1500 was more of the same. This time Caleb punched it during the last 400 meters. I ran 5:16. Steve jumped back in for the 800, 400, and 200. I ran 2:46, 79, and 39 for these intervals. They were slower than I wanted but like I said earlier. The lactic acid burn was taking its toll on me. I clearly needed more recovery than I was allowing myself.

Over the last few weeks, Caleb and Steve have joined me for my Tuesday morning speed sessions. I cannot express how much that I appreciate their company. I can push myself pretty hard when I ran solo, but when I am running with these guys, I found that I can take a little more. This is the best kind of “peer” pressure.


Sharing one thought at time,

The Cool Down Runner

Friday, October 10, 2014

CRC Uptown Throwdown Run/Relay

I had forgotten how dark Freedom Park can be in the predawn hours. But I had little choice in the matter. Our CRC Uptown Throwndown was to begin at 7 AM last Saturday so stuff has to be setup and runners welcomed.

Of course, my first official task is to hang up our club’s banner. Then, it was just be the extra set of hands for whatever was needed.

Rob is a great race director because he had things running smoothly.

He gave everyone the “low down” on the course and the runners are off.

When everyone was safely away, I headed back to my car, grabbed my shoes, and started making my laps around Freedom Park.

The first few laps were solo. Then, I picked up a runner buddy through 19 miles when he dropped off for a break.

My last 5 miles were tougher than I expected. It had been a long week and to throw 24 miles on top of it was probably a bad idea.

My legs were pretty stiff when I finally finished up.

The rest of my day was the best part. I could hang out and enjoy a pleasant day talking running. I heard so many great stories, got some good advice, learned about some new massage tools, and tried to not get a sun burn as we chased the sun around the park.

Runners all have stories but some are far more inspiring than others. I had a great conversation with a runner that had gone through a massive weight loss. He had already lost 100 pounds in just the last 4 months. During our run/relay, he would run 28 miles. This is further than he had every run in his entire life.

When I hear stories his, I am just so amazed at how running can change people lives. And, I feel so fortunate to be able to enjoy it over the last 30 years and I hope to enjoy it for rest of my life.

Before wrapping up, I wanted to share something about Rob. I first met Rob when he joined the CRC board. In the last two years, I have grown not only to have a great respect for his running accomplishments, but to have a great appreciate for his willingness to be a constant team player and supporter of the Charlotte Running Club. He sets such great example that we could all do well to follow his lead.

I know that I appreciate all that he does. 

Sharing one thought at time,

The Cool Down Runner










Thursday, October 9, 2014

A Learning Experience – Tether Team Test Run

On Tuesday night, we held our first tether team practice run at the Fleet Feet store in Huntersville. Boy, was it a learning experience.

I can read about it. I can spend long hours thinking about it. I can write about it .

However, there is nothing like trying to put things into practice. These are the moments when I truly find out what works and what doesn’t.

Maybe this single most important obstacle to us succeeding will be communication. Without having eyes in the backs of our heads, we don't know what is going on behind us. Our stewards and line captain will have to be away of runners around them and signal when there is a issue. 
Another key component will be pace. The front runners will need to be very much aware of their pace because the rest of our tether team will follow their lead. For this reason, I plan to plant myself on the front row. This way the blame falls squarely on me to keep our pace in line for the entire run.

I also want to give Eric a big shout out for coming out and helping. I never realized that he had such excellent knot tying skills.

Our next practice test run will be 11/1/14 @ 2pm again at Fleet Feet in Huntersville. I am also working on another test run date. When I have locked down, I will be sharing it.

Lastly, we still need Tether Team members. Join our team by emailing: run.charlotte@gmail.com

Sharing one thought at a time,

The Cool Down Runner

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Ladder 1600, 1200, 800, 400, & 8 x 200

If it is Tuesday morning, I must be making the trip down to the PDS track for our weekly interval workout. Good company is always appreciated, and this morning Caleb, Steve, and Megan joined me for the warm up and cool down miles. Caleb, and Steve were also doing our workout.

Today, the workout was pretty simple. A descending set of intervals starting with a 1600, then a 1200, followed by an 800, then finally a 400, we finished it off with 8 x 200. We followed each hard interval with a ½ distance recovery.

Caleb, as usual, was running hard right out of the gate. Steve was chasing him while I followed close behind Steve.

Sometimes, all one can do is follow. A few times, I did actually pull up to Steve shoulder but each time he could pull me again by a few steps.

I went 5:29 for the 1600, 4:01 for the 1200, 2:40 for the 800, and 76 for the 400. The 200s ranged between 37 and 39 seconds. I tend to treat these like a really had stride and nothing more.

I really like the concept of running the longer intervals up front and the working the distance while while continuing to push the pace. I do a similar Fartlek workout where I work down from 8 minutes to 1 minute. The concept is really same. I am trying to teach my body to continue pushing hard as it get more and more tired.   

Big shout out to Caleb and Steve again this week. I would not be running this fast on my own. And, these guys are making me both faster and stronger with every workout.

Appreciate it.


Sharing one thought at time,

The Cool Down Runner

Monday, October 6, 2014

Running Log

Running Log books

Whether you like to record your running in a physically log book or through some online mileage tracking system (yes, there are numerous one on the internet), the point is that you really should do it.

Through my nearly 30 years of running, I kept detailed running log books some years. Other years, I didn’t. Looking back now, I wish that I had.

Let me tell you why.

For the last 7 years, I have been filling up Athleticore with my daily runs and workouts. Now, I can look back to any year and any day to refresh my memory about the workouts that I did or the races that I ran or just to see how I was running.

This gives me a great perspective to further refine my training, racing, or my running goals in general.

I highly recommend that if you are not tracking your running, you really should do it.


Sharing on thought at time,

The Cool Down Runner

Thursday, October 2, 2014

3 x (1600, 400)

Workout: 3 x (1600 with 200 recovery followed by a 400 with a 400 recovery)

Tuesday morning at PDS, Caleb and Spada joined me for my speed workout. Joined is probably too strong of a word to use when describing how this workout went. The reality of the situation was that I chased them the entire workout.

Caleb showed no linger effects from his marathon just a few short weeks ago. As usual, Steve was out running plenty hard.

I have to be honest with myself. This wasn’t one of my better workouts. Having run the Wild Vine trail half marathon on Saturday, my quads were still feeling the effects from the super steep ascents and toe jamming descents.

From the first 1600 Caleb displayed no loss in leg turnover. Then, he came back and ran the 400 equally well.

This is a good mental tester workout for me. After running 1600 meters, the body is consumed with a plenty of lactic acid. Then to get a just a 200 meter recovery before running a hard 400 means the legs are really going to feel the burn . Never once during the 400s did I feel comfortable. Then again, I never expected to.  Did this workout make me work hard – absolutely. Did I need this workout. I certainly did.

My mile splits were 5:37, 5:37, and 5:41. For the 400s, they were 81, 81, and 82. While they were not as quick as I would have liked, I still love to see the consistency.
Big shout out to Caleb and Spada for making me run hard when I might not have otherwise.


Sharing one thought at time,

The Cool Down Runner


Wednesday, October 1, 2014

49er XC Invitational Meet

Sometimes a little sweat equity is a good thing. Back in the summer, we worked out an agreement with UNCC to use their track for our CRC summer track night.

Last Friday, I returned the favor by volunteering with the 49er XC Invitational Meet. I had to take the day off from work but it was for a good cause. Plus, I got to spend a day doing something running related.

This was my first ever volunteering effort for a XC race so when I arrived at 8:50 AM, I told Tom to point me in a direction and tell me what needed done. We pounded poles in  to the ground, hung snow fence, put up pennants, and setup tables. Generally, just made sure the course was well marked and ready for the runners.

Really, this was an opportunity for me to watch and learn. Tom, Larry, and Randy knew what they were doing so I tried to absorb as much knowledge as possible. We spent a good 3 ½ to 4 hours on the course setup before breaking for lunch.

I grabbed a quick bit and was back at 2pm.

From there, I helped out doing whatever was needed.

I went through my first NCCA officials meeting and got my course assignment. As luck would have it, I could one of the critical sections. If I screwed up, everyone would know it.

First, we had the high school girls’ race. The lead girl was way out front by the time she passed my location. When she came back for her second pass, she was not looking so good. Her legs must have been overload with lactic acid. She was wobbling. I later learned that she fell down just short of the finish. She did finish however and was immediately rushed to medical.

There was not nearly as much drama for the high school boys. One guy had a big led but he looked strong the entire way.

The college girls race went off smoothly. They did two 3k loops.

The college guys ran an 8k race with lots of twist and turns. There were a few guys that wanted to turn the wrong way but with some extra yelling and hand waving, we kept them on course.

The tear down started at 7pm and before 8pm, I was driving one of the Gators back to the parking lot for drop off.

Working a XC meet could seem like a long day but this was a worthwhile day. I learned so much and got a chance to see lots of great XC runners.

This is definitely something that I would do again.

I really appreciate Tom, Larry, and Randy for sharing so much information while answering so many of my dumb questions.  

Sharing one thought at time,

The Cool Down Runner