Friday, November 28, 2014

Turkey Trot 10k Recap

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sharing one thought at time,

The Cool Down Runner



Sunday, November 23, 2014

Santa Scramble 5k Recap

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My eyes are glued to the clock.

My sprint isn’t what it used to be.

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

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

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

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


Sharing one thought at time

The Cool Down Runner


Saturday, November 22, 2014

This time of year

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

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

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

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

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

Happy Holidays!!!!


Sharing one thought at time,

The Cool Down Runner  



Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Pacing at the Thunder Road Marathon

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Sharing one thought at time,

The Cool Down Runner

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Thunder Road MarathonExpo

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The Cool Down Runner

Monday, November 17, 2014

Evening Tether Practice Run

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Keep an eye on our Facebook page for updates.

Sharing one thought at time,

The Cool Down Runner


Friday, November 7, 2014

Treadmill Workouts for the cold weather days

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

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

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

Either way, the treadmill offers a decent alternative.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sharing one thought at time,

The Cool Down Runner





Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Todd Williams' Run Safer Clinics

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

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

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

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

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

Sharing one thought at time,

The Cool Down Runner












Saturday, November 1, 2014

Thunder Road Marathon – Course Preview Run

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sharing one thought at time,

The Cool Down Runner