Thursday, February 26, 2015

Got a bad case of the race jitters

If you remember from my post about my ½ marathon last weekend, there were some pre race jitters being experienced. Most notably were the butterflies churning away in my stomach on race morning. Funny how our stomachs seem to display how anxious that we are feeling. I am sure this has a lot to do with our minds’ need to deal with the coming activity. With so much time and energy spent preparing for a specific event and yes, we are more than likely prepared; we still agonize over every “i” being dotted and every “t” being crossed. All the while hoping our training leads us down the most successful path. 

To combat some of this stress, I did two things last Sunday: followed my race routine and refocused my mind.

A prerace routine is as individualized as finger prints. The key for me is to always stay in my comfort zone. I like to be up at least 2 to 3 hours before a race. I like to make sure my clothes and shoes are laid out. If I am driving to a race, I like to be there at least an hour beforehand. Make sure I pick up my bib number and find the rest rooms. Go through my normal warm up progression.  Granted I cannot always follow my routine exactly. Huge races like at Disney, there is just going to be some things that have to be done differently. But still, staying close as to this routine as possible helps keep me from getting overly stressed right before a race.

Refocusing the mind means thinking about something entirely different from the coming race. Sometime, I will take my iPod along and listen to music. Other times I will pull out my phone, open my tune-in app, and listen to sports talk radio. This past weekend I cracked open my Kindle App for the iPad and let myself drift away while reading a novel. Regardless of what the activity is reading, listening, or talking to someone else, by taking way the focus from the race, I then relax which brings down my stress levels.

Ultimately, a relaxed, low stressed runner should be able to perform better.

If you find yourself nervous on race morning, follow your normal routine as much as possible. If time permits, shift the mind to focusing on something else. See if it doesn’t allow you to relax more.
Good luck with your training and racing.


Sharing one thought at time,

The Cool Down Runner

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

5 x 6 minutes with 3 minute recovery

The week after a ½ marathon should be a recovery week. Right? Well, may be for my competitors it is. But for me, it is the start of my final training cycle for my marathon next month. I guess this partly explains why I was headed out the door this morning to do my 5 x 6 minutes road workout. I so wanted to do it on a track but with yesterday little snow fall, I figured just stick to the roads. I even overruled the idea of going to the Y for some repeats on the tread mill. I just couldn’t muster the will power to put myself on the tread mill. Give me the open road any day.

After a quick warm up, I launched right in to my first repeat. I was still feeling some residual from Sunday’s race plus the cold weather wasn’t helping. Three minutes of recovery seemed to go by too fast when I am attempting to catch my breath. My second repeat was faster. So were the third and forth repeats. My last repeat was a second or two slower than all of my previous efforts. Overall my entire workout went pretty well.

I thought about postponing it until tomorrow. Another day of rest would be a good thing. However, with the coming snow storm, I figured that I had better do it today. I can always go for an easy run in the snow.

Anyway, hopefully, the weather will clear up by next week. If it does, I will be back at PDS for my Metric Mile workout: 3000, 1500, 800, 2 x 400. This was one my mainstay workouts from last fall. It propelled me to a great marathon time and I hope it does so again.


Sharing one thought at time,

The Cool Down Runner  

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

USAT&F NC State Age Group Record Holder

Over New Years, I started plotting out my race schedule for ’15. Along with it, I wanted to choose my races such that it gave me an opportunity to go after the USAT&F NC Half Marathon State record for 50-54 year old males

The Race 13.1 guys were putting on a half marathon in Wilmington, NC which fit perfectly in to my training plan. Their race was roughly 6 weeks after my Disney Dopy Challenge which meant that I should be adequately recovered and ready to run.

Fast forward to this past Sunday morning, my attempt at the half marathon state record was mere minutes away.

Needless to say, I had more than a few butterflies in stomach. I had watched their video of the course for like the 1000th time so the course was pretty much ingrain into my brain. When every extra second counts, taking a wrong turn would end my attempt pretty quickly.

Not to mention, race morning had arrived with a temperature 30 degrees warmer than the past 3 weeks. Then looking around the starting line, I didn’t know anyone (okay, I kind of expected this) but I worried about being solo for my entire effort. I always run well when I have a little peer pressure.

They announced that I am going to for the state record. This drew several guys over to ask me about it. They also ask about my time goals. The record was 1:20:02 so I tell them anything better than 1:20 and I will be delighted.

We get the 30 second warning and then we are off. The overnight rain left Wilmington with moisture basically hanging in the air along with patchy fog floating by.

Within 200 meters, I have already settled into 2nd place. My brain is scanning every inch of body trying to determine if I am feeling good or bad. The first 2 miles are straight line along Rt 74. My first mile is 6:04 which worries me a bit. My game plan was to run the race as controlled as possible with a goal of 60 minutes for 10 miles. I was already 4 seconds over that goal pace.

I was also keeping a careful eye on the leader. He seemed to be extending his lead as we went through the mile. My hope was to maintain eye contact because chasing is always easier than being chased.  Just past 2 miles, I realized that he was coming back to me or maybe I was picking it up. I was 11:58 at 2 miles. Before we hit the first of 3 hairpin turnarounds, I passed him. Would he go with me? No, he just let me slip away.

At the turnaround, I had a good 50 meters on him and several hundred meters on the next set of guys.

Now, I had the pressure leading the race and hoping that I didn’t blow up as well as trying to break the record and having to do it with a solo effort.

I turned on the cross-city greenway for a few miles. Then it was out on the city streets before heading back to the greenway again. The greenway led me into UNC-Wilmington’s Campus where I hit the second hairpin turn around.

Out and back courses have their good and bad points. On the bright side, I knew exactly how big of a lead that I had. On the dark side, I knew just how big of a lead that I had which was now several minutes.  I really needed the extra incentive to keep pushing.

The miles were slowly being clicked off. My Garmin was starting to gap the mile marks by a few seconds, but I wouldn’t check my Garmin until I hit the mile mark.

Heading back I got lots of “good jobs” and “looking strong” comments. I did my best to reciprocate their kindness. Although, I knew that I probably didn’t look like I was “looking strong”.

I crossed the 10 mile mark and checked my Garmin 60 minutes. I couldn’t have been more excited. I was right on the pace that I wanted and I knew if I just ran 20 minute for the next 5k, I would have the record. I told myself “I can do this”.

I made a left turn and headed out for the 3rd hairpin turn around. Ok, the first hairpin turn wasn’t all that bad at 2 ½ miles. The second hairpin at 7+ miles had been more challenging. At this 3rd one, my legs didn’t like this stopping, turning, and starting again. I just had “will” them forward.

The temperature at the start had been about 53 degrees. Over the course of the an hour, the clouds had cleared and the sun was making its presence known.

As I headed back the last 2 ½ miles, the sun was staring me right in my face and was making me feel a lot warmer than I wanted.

Mile 11 went by in 6:04. Then, mile 12 passed in 6:02. Roughly, I needed to run that last 1.1 in less than 8 minutes to get the record. The sun wasn’t helping. I was definitely running “hot”.

Mile 13 passed by in 6:00 minutes. Just keep pushing, I couldn’t think of anything else. I was passing some of the 10k runners. All the while, I was trying to not sway from the tangents. I made the final right hand turn and sprinted for the finish line.

I was going to break the record. I could see the clock counting down to 1:19 and I wanted to go under 1:19. I surged across the line in 1:18:56.

Breaking the 50-54 year old NC state record felt awesome. All of the cold days of running, the endless core workouts, extra effort that went into it now all seemed worthwhile.

Winning the race out right was just an extra bonus.

I cannot thank the Races 13.1 guys for their willingness to help me with my record breaking effort. Also want to thank all of the racers that cheered me on during the race. The emotional support definitely spurred me to keep pushing.
If you are interested, the Races 13.1 Series is coming to Charlotte in September of this year.  

Sharing one thought at time,

The Cool Down Runner


Friday, February 20, 2015

Calling Charlotte home

Several years ago I spent some time working Providence, RI. The weather was cold. Teeth chattering cold and I am talking about single digits for the better part of two months. Once it actually “warmed up” into the 20s, it felt downright balmy.

Yeah, I don’t miss those days at all. Charlotte may get a few cold days, but then it is gone.  With the temperature averaging between 30s and 50s most of the winter, I definitely found a place that I want to call home.
Sharing one thought at a time,
The Cool Down Runner

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Cold ladder workout

Yesterday morning, I headed out for my ladder workout. Even thou, the temperature wasn’t really idea for it. Then, looking at the weather forecast for the rest of the week when was there going to be an ideal day for it.

Bundled up, I pushed away from the curb. The wind immediately cut through my clothes. The extra layers didn’t seem to be helping at all.

Focusing on the workout and pushing the weather conditions aside I kept going.  

Originally, I planned a ladder workout on the track of 200, 400, 800, 1200, 1600, 800, 400, and 200. Switching it to a fartlek ladder was a safer option. So I went with 1 minute, 2 minutes, 3 minutes, 4 minutes, 5, minutes, 6 minutes, 3 minutes, 2 minutes, and 1 minute. This was probably a little tougher workout, but given it was on the road, it would have to do.

After 2.5 mile warm up, I rolled right into my workout. Clicked off the 1, 2, and 3 minutes efforts in a quick secession.  Intervals 4, 5, and 6 seemed to drag on a little longer but my legs started to feel looser and my running rhythm felt better. With the bulk of the workout in the books intervals 3, 2, and 1 felt downright easy. I actually felt myself working up a little sweat from it.

Warm up, workout plus recovery, I needed only about a mile and half warm down which turned out to be a perfect distance back to my house.

If you are struggling through this harsh weather like I am. Look at it from this perspective, a run is better than not running. A cruise interval workout is better than just an average run. Above all else keep your eyes on the prize. No one workout makes you better and no one workout will keep you from reaching you goals.


Sharing one thought at time,

The Cool Down Runner





Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Icy day run

The sun was ready to set over the western horizon. The time has finally arrived for me to lace up my running shoes and head out my front door. The predawn snow, freezing rain, and sleet had done a number on Charlotte. Travel was brought pretty much to a standstill. While only the hardest and most adventurous runners had attempted morning runs.

I might have chanced it but with a race looming this coming week. I allowed common sense to rule over my running sense.

To my surprise, the roads were pretty much clear and dry. Yes, there were a few places where the trees and houses had shaded the road. There was a good covering of ice in these spots. The same could be said for the sidewalks.

Even before pushing the door closed, I had decided on pushing out my ladder workout by a day. Getting in a nice safe run seemed the best option. The miles were slow but then I tiptoed through icy sections during my little neighborhood exploration.

In the grand scheme of things, this was just another day that needed a run checked off and this is exactly what happened - adapt, improvise, and overcome.


Icy thoughts,

The Cool Down Runner  

Friday, February 13, 2015

Windy Day

Wow, was it windy or what yesterday. Is this what it is like to be a kite just dancing in the wind? Steering it’s self away from power lines like I did as the wind pushed me into the oncoming traffic. Of course having the helping hand of the wind pushing on my shoulders helped me click off some nice splits without much serious effort.  Who doesn’t enjoy the feeling of floating on air?

Those miles were easily equalized when I turned directly into the headwind, however. Literally, with my arms churning and my legs pumping I was going nowhere fast. To casual observer, perhaps I gave the appearance of running in place.  I certainly felt like I was running in place.

And this is February, isn’t March supposedly the windy month.

Sharing one thought at time,

The Cool Down Runner  

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

4 x 1600 gets your heart turning over

The PDS track was a "buzz" with workouts this morning. Jinnie looked like she was doing 200s. Megan was doing her lane 8 workout. Paul ran some insane number of 300s. And last but not least, Caleb and I were tearing up the track with a 4 x 1600 workout. Well, to be honest, Caleb was tearing up the track. I was just hoping that he didn’t fade completing into the darkness while I chased him around PDS’s track.

In a similar workout last fall, I averaged around 5:36 to 5:38 for 4 x 1600. This morning, I just wasn’t up to the same task. My body spit out a 5:39, 5:38, then a 5:40, and 5:43. This was a workout where I just didn’t feel smooth and relaxed. Each lap, there was this constant feeling that I was tying up. Of course it could have been the wind that we faced each lap down the back stretch. Personally, I think this was one of my "struggle" workouts. From time to time, there is a workout that no matter how hard that I go, I still feel like I am running slower.

Over the many years and hundreds of workouts, I have learned much about not letting one so-so workouts psych me out. Everyone goes through periods where we feel awesome and then there are days that we feel like we are pulling a “tank” along behind us. Today, this was just one of those days for me.

Thinking over the workout, I am just appreciative for those that came out this morning. Having them out there watching made me work harder than I would have worked solo.  For this I am very grateful.  

Now, I am on to another workout next Tuesday. This will be a ladder workout.


Running track loops can be fun,

The Cool Down Runner



Sunday, February 8, 2015


Last Thursday night I went to see the prescreening of the Disney movie McFarland.

If you are a runner, this is the perfect feel good movie to watch.

Coach White seems to struggle with each of his coaching jobs until he lands at McFarland High School. After getting fired as their assistant football coach, he sees the kids in his class running and convinces the school’s administration to let him start a cross country team. These are the same kids that spend as much time working the fields picking produce as they spend in school.

The year is 1987 and California holds their first cross country high school state championship. The entire McFarland Cougar team consisted of just 7 kids. They come from not having a cross country team to qualifying for States by finishing 4th in their sectional championship in a matter of months.

During this time Coach White learns much about the community of McFarland and the people who call it their home. So much so that by the end of the movie he turns down other offers to remain in McFarland.

As with most movies possibly the best moment comes in the last moments of the movie. Danny their slowest team member has the race of his life during the championship meet and helps them win the championship.

This is a definitely a movie that will appeal to runners everyone.

See you at the movies,

The Cool Down Runner





Wednesday, February 4, 2015

400s at Bradley Middle School Track

Not sense last Oct have I ventured on to a track for an interval session so yesterday, I wasn’t quite sure how my legs would respond.

I wish they had responded better but I just broached the big “5-0”. As much as I don’t like slowing down, I know it is happening. Still, I plan to fight it every step of the way.

This session consisted of 12 x 400 broken across 3 sets. Each 400 was followed with a 200 recovery jog.

To warm-up, I hit the grass soccer fields for about 2 and ½ miles. The ground was like a sponge from all of the recent rain, but it still felt good to get off the pavement.

Then, I headed over to the track for my work out session.

The first set, I averaged 1:23s. The second set, I averaged 1:21s and 1:22s. The final set, I averaged 1:21s and 1:20. My legs seemed to settle into the workout after the first 6 intervals. Being solo probably didn’t help either.

After finishing my last interval, it was time to head back to the soccer fields. Actually, I was surprised at how good my legs felt running the last few miles on the grass. May be next time, I will just mark off 400 meters on the soccer field for my workout.

Up next week will be 4 x 1 mile. If the weather cooperates, I will do them at PDS. Assuming the temperature isn’t in the teens or the twenties.


See you on cool down run coming soon,

The Cool Down Runner



Tuesday, February 3, 2015

CRC Board Meeting – Jan.

We 'Charlotte Running Club' kicked off our first board meeting at Triple C Brewery last Thursday night. Personally, I was excited to attend. Having stepped away from much of the planning and running our club, I have been out of the “know” for what’s happening. What I did learn and makes me think that I did the right thing by stepping back. Eric is off to a great start as President. The committees are up and running. Maybe, they are little understaffed at this point, but give it time. Billy with the Community effort and Dave with the Communications effort seem to be excelling in their roles. FlaVia appears to have leaped in with both feet as our social director. She presented a list of events spread throughout the year. The birthday idea was awesome and I believe this is an idea that will resonate with our members. Lori is picking up the membership front. Melinda returns as our secretary and Rich is getting his hands around our Treasury role.

One of the biggest initiatives that I hope goes well for ’15 is connecting with new CRC members. This is not to say that we didn’t attempt to connect with our new members in the past. Because we did, but we tended lump the entire effort on one person. The ideas that I heard last Thursday night made a lot of sense and should bode well for helping new members feel a greater association with our club.

CRC is off to a great start in ’15. One thing would make it even better that is getting involved. Our club’s committees have plenty of room for more individuals. To join in the fun, just email


Sharing one thought at time,

The Cool Down Runner


New Stair Master have arrived

Yesterday morning after my run, I walked into the Y and headed up stairs to spend some time working out on the stair master.

I was greeted by the three new stair masters. Let’s just say that I wasn’t overly excited about the change. I had the old version figured out and like how they worked. These new ones have the bars at a different angle, interface board more slanted, and the interpretation of effort is different.

With the old modal, I could jump on at 97 steps per minute. With this new modal, I was over 110 steps per minute. This is based on trial and effort to gain a personal feel of what is an equivalent effort.   

I like to read while I am on the stair master. With the old modal, my iPad was roughly 24 inches away. With the new modal, it is close to 36 inches and since the interface board is inclined at a different angle, the light glares across my iPad. I can still read it but I definitely don’t like the glare.

Then, there is just frustration of how the two machines interpret a workout. 60 minutes on the old modal, was close to 7 miles and 800 calories. These new stair masters, 60 minutes is barely 2 miles and 400 calories. And, let’s not forget difference in the step rates.

But there is no going back now so I just have to improvise, adapt, and overcome.


Sharing one thought at time,

The Cool Down Runner

Monday, February 2, 2015

22 Miler over the week

Getting back down to business of running long runs this past weekend, I headed out for a 22 miler on Saturday morning.

The first mile, my feet barely felt like they were touching the ground. This was going to be a good run, and I knew it. The next couple of miles, I just settled in to a comfortable pace. The mile long hill climb didn’t seem to faze my legs at all.

With the first loop complete, I headed out for the second loop. My legs didn’t feel quite as chipper. The bounce was there but not to the degree that it had been in the first mile.

At mile 15 miles, the pace was still much better than I expected. However, I was about to test myself with the mile long hill which was followed by a nasty set of step rolling hills. At this point, I had two options. I could settle for the running the last 7 miles easy and finishing up the today’s run feeling good about it. The other option was to open it up and do a fast finish over the last 7 miles. Normally, I would have settle for the former, but today, I felt like going for it.

Instead of feeling tired and sore each stride felt strong and directed. By the time that I reached the top of the mile long climb, I knew the rest of this run was going to go well.

I rolled the last few miles clicking off some nice 6:30s miles.

Looking back now this was one of my best long runs in several years. I hope this bodes for my upcoming races.


Sharing one thought at time,

The Cool Down Runner.