Saturday, August 29, 2015

Sundae Run Race Recap

How often do you get to do a Sundae run on Saturday? Well, once per year it happens in Charlotte, NC.


Let me explain.

The guys supporting Carmel Middle School organize a Sundae Run 5k race. However, the Sundae is not in reference to Sunday which is the last day in the week. Rather they are talking about an ice cream sundae. Every racer gets ice cream bowl which if they like; they can fill with ice cream and all the topping upon finishing the race. Sounds perfect doesn’t it.

Ok, moving on to the race. Sorry, this week I am skipping over the warm up and prerace stuff. It’s all really boring and pretty much the same as I do ever race. No point in repeating here.

I meander my way through the crowd at the starting line, and who do I see already standing there but Donny. Oh, crap. Donny is here. This race just got a whole lot harder for me. Now that I think about it, I wonder if Donny was thinking the same thing. Oh, crap. Bill is here. Don’t know but just wondering.

They give us some prerace instructions most of which I don’t remember. I have already run over the course so there is no chance of me getting lost today. More importantly, my brain was working overtime to come up with a winning strategy for beating Donny.

We do nearly a lap on the track, and I settle in behind Donny.

Like I said, I run the course beforehand so I know that the first mile or so is pretty fast. The second half of the race is tough with lots of steep hills to climb.

Throw in another fact, my left hamstring hates the hills right now. I make my move early. I need a gap if I am going to have any chance against him.

We fly toward the first mile which I hit in 5:27, but I can feel him breathing right down my neck. Looking back isn’t an option because I don’t want to let him know that I am worried.  Passing the H20 stop at mile and half, someone calls out encouragement to him which was good him but not for me. Don't get me wrong. They need to call out encouragement but I need to hear them calling it out with a 15 or 20 second gap. This way I know how big my lead could be.  In this case, I hear it as I am passing the water stop.

We hit the hill section and it is as if someone puts up a brick wall. I got nothing. There is no strength in my left hamstring so I cannot drive off it. Donny roars by me with a pace that I have no hope of matching. I notice that he isn’t holding the tangent while I am. Can I close the distance? No, it isn’t enough. By the time, we get to the flat sections the damage is done. There is just too much for me to make up now.

I see him do a couple of those half sideways looks to see how far I am back. Rest assured my friend, you have bested me today.

They announce the winner is crossing the finish line just as I hit the track. Doing my own half sideways looks I want to know if I have a gap. I do.

Now, I focus on getting to the finish.

I’ll take a 17:54 given how my training has been going. This placed me 3rd Overall. Solid race, great competition, and ice cream, okay, I guess having 2 out of 3 isn't that bad.

I always enjoy going up against Donny. He like Steve always gives their best. We have had some terrific battles in the past, and I am sure many more in the future.


Post race Sundae thoughts

The Cool Down Runner





Thursday, August 27, 2015

Why we do certain tasks before others

This morning the sun had yet risen over the horizon, and I was already miles into my run. The thought crossed my mind about why I was out so early.

Never my mind the fact I have been running in the evening when the temperature has been pushing 90, and my brain is wasted from 10 hours at work as a reason. Getting in a morning run with 68 degrees weather was awesome. There is no other word to describe it.

No, I was out this morning for an entirely different reason.

Let’s go back a few years into the past.

The day started out promising. Work would the first order of business. Follow this up with a nice evening run and then finish the day off with a long massage.

Then, one of those days hits. You know the ones. Nothing goes right.

Work goes longer than expected. The massage times didn’t work with my schedule, and my run, well, my run had to be done no matter what.

Juggling what life throws at me is never easy.

Having worked longer, I suddenly found myself expecting to run after my massage rather than before it.

The more I thought about it the more it sounded like a bad idea. I could have changed the massage time and day but once someone starts talking about a nice juice steak, you just have to have one.

In this case, getting a massage was a must do.

An hour massage went by faster than I expected, and  I was changing into my running cloths and headed out the door.

From my very first step, the concrete sidewalk felt like loose sand to my legs. Lethargic doesn’t begin to describe how I felt.  Lifting my legs for each stride was a struggle.

Another hour later my run was finally done but I wasn’t better for it.

Walking back into the Y, I vowed to myself. I would never do a workout after any time of treatment. To this day I never have.

Long story short, later today I have a physical therapy session. Experience while a tough teacher is a good one. I learned my lesson and don't want to repeat it.

Always run first
The Cool Down Runner.



Sunday, August 23, 2015

Charlotte Running Company XC Race @ Myers Park High School

After much thought, I decided to enter the Charlotte Running Company XC Race at Myers Park for a couple of reasons.

First, and foremost, I am now a Charlotte Running Company (CRC) Race team member so I need to support their colors.  More than just supporting the colors, it is important to support their events. Throw in the fact that several of my new teammates were running. What better way to form new friendships and bond. But most importantly, being seen trump all other reasons because Scott and the rest of the CRC crew have gone above and beyond to make this team happen.  Asking only for me to wear their gear and support their events. Besides, I love running and pretty much love racing as much so this entire situation makes it a win – win for both of us.

Second, maybe qually important to me on a personal level; my hamstring has been feeling better so why not try racing again. The soft surfaces i.e. grass and dirt should be just the ticket for a test run. I do have to say that the Myers Park XC course is tough. Way tougher than I figured.

Everyone lined up on one of the Myer Park practice fields for our 8 AM start. Tom fired his starter pistol, and runners sprinted off the line. Not wanting to get caught up in this sea of runners, I let them go. Having run against runners of this caliber in the past, I knew most would come back. The point of return would be where lactic acid burn exceeds desire. By half mile into the race, I was picking off runners.  Eyeing Flavia, Sophia, and Steve ahead of me, patience had been my friend. Just before the mile, I passed Flavia. A little after the mile, I passed Steve and Sophia. Another quarter mile in to the race, the 5k race splits from the 2 mile racers. 5k racers make a second loop over the toughest section of the 5k course.

My first mile had need nearly 7 miles while weaving my way through the field. My second mile went by 6:43. Runners were really strung out now. After passing a couple more, I was pretty much left to push myself to the finish.

My last mile went by in 6:28, and I finished the course in 20:43. This placed me 6th overall out of 92 racers.

My Garmin measured the course in 3.11. Given my experience with Garmins and trail races, I would say the course is a good 3.2 miles or maybe 3.3 miles long.

I missed getting back for the awards ceremony, but I found out that I finished 3rd overall or this is what they called out. They had my name but Drew’s time and number. Somehow, they had mixed up our names and numbers in their timing system. I have no idea how this happen. Considering Drew registered race day, and I preregistered. Anyway, I did get the number and time situation figured out but I will have to follow on the awards later.

Overall, I would give this course a B. The shade was nice. There are some tough sections to the course, but there are some very nice sections to run.  Having this 5k as a preliminary race to the HS teams running creates such an electric atmosphere. It is a shame more runners don’t take advantage of it.

Look for this race to return my schedule for next year.


Kicking up some XC dirt,

The Cool Down Runner



Sunday, August 16, 2015

Every day is a test

Headed out for my weekly long run yesterday i.e. 16 miles. Didn’t really know what it might be like, but was hoping for something decent.

Par for the course these days, I could feel my hamstring whining like crazy through about 7 miles. Then, it pretty much gives up or gives in to the fact that I am not about to quit so the quad has to do more work. Of course, then my quad starts complaining.

I thought about stopping for a second. Stopping to shake it out always helps ease the spasming of my quad. Afterward I can do another mile or two before it goes back to spasming again.  Instead, I backed the pace off about 15 seconds. It took another mile, but the pain did ease up. I continued at this pace for another mile before picking it up again.

I could feel the spasming lying under the suface but to a somewhat lesser degree.  Another factor was creeping intot the picture was endurance. My long runs this summer have been nonexistent so once I push past 10 miles, it gets rough. The Charleston Distance run looms on the horizon so I did my best to stick it out. I needed the long run even if it did hurt. There are times when my brain wants to hold too much in reserve and doesn't want to release this reserve until the last couple of mile.

Given my current state of running, I was pretty happy with my effort. I finished in 1 hour and 58 miles for 16 miles. This was my longest run since July. I have been on fense about Charleston Distance run plans. There were even thoughts if I could run 15 miles. There are still 3 weeks and a lot of improvement can be made. I will not set the world on fire during the race but if all goes well, I will finish it.   

Besides, returning to my running roots always has me feeling nostalgic. I cannot explain it, but running the same roads that I ran in my youth brings back the memories as if they were yesterday.


Run, run, run, and run some more


The Cool Down Runner



Friday, August 14, 2015

Pulse Therapy

Four days after my Radical Ropes adventure, the moaning has ceased being necessary when raising my arm above my head. I cannot begin to tell you how sore my lats, delts, and shoulder blades felt. Heck, even my core stomach muscles felt like I went 10 rounds with a boxer.

Fortunately, time does heal all wounds. Some heal much faster than other.

Speaking of other injuries, my wicked old hamstring healing continues taking baby steps these days. Hoping to help the pace along, I headed back to my doctor.

With any injury, scar tissue develops around and over the injured area. Scar tissue is much less pliable than my normal muscle tissue so this limits my range of motion in my left leg to about 45 degrees. This is compared to 70 degrees in my right leg.  Ok, stop laughing. I am runner. Being flexible isn’t exactly at the top of my list.

My doctor asked if I was willing to try their sonic pulse therapy. With this therapy, they had good results with athletes suffering from chronic injuries – like for example a hamstring injury.

Why not? I like to run. I like it a lot less when I feel like I am running on one leg.

Yesterday, I had my first treatment so the jury is still out if it works. He told me it would take a few days to feel the effects, and I might be a little sore in the hamstring today. Ironically, having a sore hamstring is relative to your perspective.  When your hamstring is already sore, having it a little more or a less don’t really change much.

The flame of my fall marathon hopes continues to flicker barely but who really knows. Since I have already registered for it, I will likely continue training as best that I can and make a game time decision. If the training doesn’t go well, I will opt for the ½ marathon and enjoy a week without having any marathon soreness.

Good luck with your running. Greekfest is coming up in 2 weeks. The morning temps have dropped in the 60s so after suffering through 90+ for most of the summer, running is awesome right now.  Everyone should have a great opportunity to score a fast time.


See you on a run,

The Cool Down Runner




Monday, August 10, 2015

Radical Ropes

My daughters wanted to do one last blowout weekend beach trip before school starts back next week. Who was I to deny this to them.

So off we went after work on Friday evening. Throw in a fuel stop for both us and the car and we didn’t lay our heads on the pillows until after midnight.

Of course, just because we are on a beach trip doesn’t mean that I get to sleep in or lay off running. No sir. I was out the door by 7 AM and headed up the beach.  A full five miles needed to be run with lots sightseeing before heading back on the return trip. No rest for the weary, we headed out for a full day at the beach. Between the sun and surf, the hours just melted away.

After grabbing dinner, we were off to do put-put at Mt. Atlantis. Forty-eight dollars and untold number of steps, I was officially tired.  I did get 3 holes in one.

Back at the hotel, I barely closed my eyes or it seemed like it before sun shining into our room. Out the door for another 10 run, this time a southern 10 mile jaunt along the ocean.  While most beaches are relatively the same, the area around them can be vastly different. The highlight of this run was the spotting of a UFO saucer shaped house. The house had 360 degree view of the horizon. I would have loved to go inside and check it out.  

Off again to the beach until check out time. Next up came shopping before finishing the evening off with a spectacular adventure.  

Over the years, I have been on a few rope obstacle courses. Did a Spartan run a couple of years ago. Sunday, I did a new concept in rope obstacle course called Radical Ropes. Having recently opened, people were checking it out.

My daughters caught sight of it on Saturday evening while driving past so I promised we would come back to find out more about it. We would do the rope courses if we could get a reservation. Low and behold, they got us in at 4 PM. The expected duration time for taking the course was 2 and half hours.

Driving by, the course didn’t look too difficult. Once I got up close, I wasn’t so sure.

After a brief explanation on the rules and procedures, they sent us off on the course.  There are 3 courses. The first course is relative easy and is about 20 feet off ground. The second course is about 40 feet off the ground and is a little more difficult. The third level is about 60 feet off the ground and is about 50 times harder.  Each level consisted of 16 different rope obstacles.

My daughters went first and were flying along the course. I am bigger, heavier, and well, yes, I will say, a lot less coordinated. My heart was racing and sweat was rolling down my forehead. Each obstacle is different but all used lots of balance, coordination, and upper body strength. Not traits consistent with being a runner.

We finished up the first course in about 45 minutes, and I was spent. We grabbed a sip of water and head out on the 2nd course. My arms and shoulders were burning.  An hour later, we had finished the 2nd course.

When we got level 3, the guide tried to talk us out of it. He said it was exponentially harder and he was right. I was 60 feet off the ground. At this height the relay platforms sway in the wind. Add in the sun burning down on us. I was 2 obstacles in and my shoulders hated me for dragging them through this. At the vertical ladder crossing, I had to stop in the middle and hang on to the board to let my arms rest.  We past ½ point of the obstacles and my arms would shake with each crossing.

Level 3 is so hard that we were the only ones on it which was good. We spent time resting between each of the obstacles. An hour and half later, I stopped off the last obstacle. We were all so tired that none of us wanted to go back and do any of the other courses again.

Radical Ropes is a cool concept but similar to Spartan events, it isn’t for older or out of shape individuals. Throughout the courses we were secured to the cable so we were never in any real danger of falling.  The course are more about pushing and testing yourself.  Today, the soreness can be felt throughout my arms, back, and shoulders.

Driving home last night, I looked over to see them all fast asleep in their seats.  The thought occurred to me this may well be the last adventure we have together. Life moves on. My oldest daughter heads off to college this fall. Her sisters are growing up faster than I want them. I am getting older and they are getting stronger, more coordinated, and more adventurous. My days of keeping up with them may come to an end, but it wasn’t today.

Kids grow up in a blink of an eye, and it is true so don’t waste a minute of it. Make as many memories with them while you can. Even when it means, I am hanging from a cable 60 feet in the air.


Oh so sore,

The Cool Down Runner