Sunday, September 27, 2015

Races 13.1 – Charlotte

Races 13.1 brought their traveling road show to south Charlotte this morning. Setting the weather aside for a moment, their race production was flawless. Every turn was marked. Numerous water stops with both water and Gatorade along the course. For the most part, the course was decent. Much of it was run on the McMullen Greenway. The most treacherous sections were the wet board-walk sections on the greenway.  Mother Nature continued her role in the race by keeping a steady drizzle coming down on the runners for the entire race. Race organizers did their part warning us up front that the boardwalks were slick. Runners needed to beware. With all the rain over the last few days in Charlotte, I was really surprised these sections were not covered in water. I have seen it flooded more than once.

My race was decent. I missed my goal time of 1:24 – finishing with a 1:26:08.

My race started off okay. The early and middle miles were decent. There was a nasty neighborhood hill about 5 miles which I struggled to the top. Fortunately, the downhill side was long enough that I could make-up the lost distance. I stayed close to my target until about 9 or 10 miles. Then, my legs just wouldn’t respond any more and my pace slipped to 6:35 miles.

Running local races is always awesome because they are a lot friendly faces. Along the course, Tom, Mo, Donny, and few others were shouting out encouragement.

I got a chance to race against Carolyn and Brian. Brian, who I have not seen in a couple years, was sporting a nice ginger beard. I thought he might close in me after the turn around because he looked so strong. Carolyn on the other was passed my somewhere between 8 and 10 miles. She looked very smooth and strong and was eating up those closing greenway miles.

Then, there were my Skecher buddies: Chris and Glenn. Chris coming off a ½ marathon last weekend in NY opted for the 8k and huge lead the last saw him. Glen was out knocking off a solid ½ marathon.

Our Charlotte Running Company Hoka made its present known. Bert had a solid lead at the turn around and when on to beat Matt by a couple of minutes in the 1/2. Big congrats to Bert for a great effort.

Oh, I guess I should get back to my race.

Miles 11 and 12 came and went at 6:35 pace but my legs gave up while climbing up Johnston Road and then Community House Rd.

All things given, my time and race were okay. I finished 10th overall and won my age group.  

I wish hamstring healed as fast as other muscles but they don’t. Well, they don’t if you don’t rest it. To some extent, I am as much a part of the problem as I am part of the solution.

Just need to stick with the plan.


Cool Down Runner    



Thursday, September 24, 2015

Better to run than sleep

This morning, I really wanted a couple of more hours of sleep but instead I pushed myself out the door for a run.

As I walked out to pick up my mail this evening a cold rain has settled over Charlotte. I could feel the chill in my bones. Setting here thinking about it, being a morning runner isn’t so bad. At least it was dry - today.

Rain or shine, it doesn’t matter. Every day is a good day for running,


The Cool Down Runner.   

Monday, September 21, 2015

Finisher Medals

A few hours after my Charleston Distance run, I was headed down Interstate 64 listening to music playing on the radio. Out of the blue, a thought crossed my mind. This year, the race didn’t give finisher medals.

I wondered why.

Last week, I received this nice letter in the mail from the Charleston Distance run thanking me for my participation in their race along with my finisher medal.  This was a really nice gesture for them. At roughly $3 per letter and nearly 300 runners, if I remember correctly, finishing the 15 miler, they spent nearly $1000 sending out those medals. This is no small amount of money for any race.

As a runner, I truly appreciate it when I feel a race goes above and beyond to compensate runners for unforeseen circumstances. The old saying is a “Customer is always right” – even if they are wrong, it makes good business sense to send them away happy.

However, it begs the question why didn’t they give the medals out on race day. Now of course, it could have been that the medals didn’t arrive on time. Granted this was very likely scenario. Having been involved in our club’s race, I have some experience with getting custom medals made and how long it takes. In this case, the back story takes a funny twist. Granted, I heard this story via the grapevine so take it at what’s worth – hear say only.

But as the story goes, on race morning, they misplaced the finisher medals and try as they might, they couldn’t find them before the race. As I said having organized our club’s races, I found this story to be somewhat humorous yet at the same time, I can empathize with them. Race morning is a hectic time for everyone. Overlooking the most basic of tasks is quite easy to do.

I am sure next year someone will have it on their to-do list to have the finisher medals in hand before heading to Laidley field on race morning.


Make yourself a list,

The Cool Down Runner   


Wednesday, September 16, 2015

2nd thoughts

Heading to the Y yesterday evening, the thought crossed my mind that they might have deactivated my YMCA membership. After all nearly six months had passed since my last visit. Quite possibly they could have assumed that I was never coming back.
Surprising the card reader flashed from red to green, and the turnstile clicked to allow me through.
Minutes later, my favorite stair master look just the same as it did back March. May be a little more used but otherwise the same.
Climbing on and pressing start, my legs felt right at home going up and down. Almost as if they had never been way. Not wanting to overdo it, I would limit my workout to 30 minutes.  No sense in injuring my tender legs.
30 minutes passed faster than expected, and I moved on to the weight machines.
Turned into a pretty good workout.
As I left the Y, I reflected back on the fact of not cross training for the last six has had an effect on me, and it has not been a positive one.
In years passed, cross training has always been my mainstay while injured. I would always lower my running mileage but continued to make heavy use of the machines. In some sense, this helped maintain my aerobic ability. With my hamstring injury, I let the cross training slide, reduced my mileage, and crossed my fingers this would speed the healing process.  The thought process being less stress on the hamstring would be better.
There are times when you have to go down a path just to see where it goes and understand how it turns out. Knowing what I know now, I would have stayed with the cross training. I believe I would have better off.
Is this the ugly part of any decision that we make. Do we chose option A or option B? Only once we are down the path do we truly comprehend the ramifications of our decisions.
Thought from the Stair Master,
The Cool Down Runner

Monday, September 14, 2015

Shirt Required

Going out the door this morning, there was certainly a nip in the air. In fact, for the first time since perhaps April, wearing a shirt felt more like a requirement than an option.

I do love the summer months, however, but let’s just be honest here. After 4 months of oppressive heat and humidity, the cold tingle from the morning air feels quite good on the skin. The blood previously destine for cooling me can now be used to delivery more oxygen rich nutrients to my muscles. Who hasn’t felt the extra power that comes with it?

So get out the door and enjoy it.


The Cool Down Runner

Saturday, September 12, 2015

McAlpine Update

Getting back to running on the McAlpine Greenway was really nice this morning. Without looking back at my running log, a year must have passed since my feet last touched the dirt paths which make up this part of the Mecklenburg County Parks and Rec greenway system.

Seeing the changes was even better. The back side of the hill was much nicer. No longer do runners and walkers dodge gullies created by summer storms.

Add to it, the remains of the hill that came from making the lake at McAlpine are gone. Nothing but a combination of grass and mud for runners spread across now at the XC races. Once a good bed grass takes hold, this is going to be an awesome place to run.

Not to mention, the cement sewer lines are now buried. No more runners going around them in races.

Other changes include new bridges and paving. The old wooden bridge along with the two dip down cement bridges have been replaced with nice new cement bridges crossing the streams.  With the Parks & Rec crew replacing the bridge connecting Old Bell section with the XC course, they just made this quarter mile stretch even faster.

They are still working on stretch between the XC course and Old Bell. This continues to be dirt for now but they are in the process of paving it. This was always a great place to run intervals but soon it may well be one the best sections for running intervals in Charlotte.

Overall, the Parks and Rec guys get a thumbs-up for their efforts from me.




 Enjoying the dirt,

The Cool Down Runner

Friday, September 11, 2015

Rain drops are falling

Heading out for my run yesterday, the sun was bearing down hard for a September evening. Within the 10 minutes sweat dripped from every inch of my body. There is nothing like a hot and humid fall day.

Roughly 6 miles in to my run, dark clouds rose over the horizon and thunder rumbled in the distance. The wind picked up, and the temperature dropped easily 10 to 15 degrees. Having been a while since the rain has interrupted one of my runs, my expectations were abound to what might be coming.

By 8 miles, the sprinkles rained down. Minutes later, the skies opened up. Gosh, it felt so good. Yes, my shoes were soaked. My shorts were equally soaked but my struggle against the heat and humidity had been broken.

Moments like this are what make running outside so special. Feeling the elements on your face only serve to make you feel alive to enjoy this world that we live.
After thoughts from a rainy evening run,
The Cool Down Runner




Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Charleston Distance Run Recap

Five weeks ago, doubts were swirling in the back of my head if running the Charleston Distance Run would even be possible. My quad and hamstring seemed to be going in the wrong direction. Instead of climbing the hill of improvement, sliding backwards felt like the direction that I was going.  

But as each week passed, they seemed to be getting a little better. Good enough that I found myself standing on Kanawha Blvd in front of the West Virginia Capital building ready to run 15 miles. “Ready” is probably too strong of a word to use. Hoping, fingers crossed, or praying might all be better ways of describing how I felt. Never the less I was committed. May be more committed than I was in March when I attempted the Emerald Isle Marathon. Even if I had to walk the last whatever miles of this race, there wouldn’t be another DNF added to my running resume – not today, not ever.

To the many that don’t know, the Charleston Distance Run race starts with the firing of a cannon. The announcer lets everyone know that no two wicks are the same. Translation, no two wicks burn at the same rate so just be ready to run when it does finally fire. And, yes, it does take while, but it finally fires.

I move away from the starting line and head west on Kanawha Blvd. Settling in to some 6:30 miles, I hope I am doing the right thing.

Before the race, I came of up with 3 goals. Sub 1 hour and 40 minutes would be my “A” goal. 1 hour and 40 to an hour and 45 minutes would be my “B” goal. Over 1 hour and 45 minutes would be my “finish” goal.

Having not really did much in the way of training this summer, a 1 hour and 40 minute run was a stretch for me. But what is life without some lofty goals.

I crossed the Kanawha River and headed toward Capital Punishment hill. They call it Capital Punishment hill for two reasons. First, this hill last for a little over 2 miles. Two, it isn’t for the faint of heart. It goes up and up. Then, when I feel like I am at the top, it turns in a neighborhood and continues to up. Testing not only a runner’s aerobic conditioning but a runner’s strength at their core, most runners just want to walk at some point.

Then, the course makes an abrupt change in direction and we head downhill back in Charleston. This portion of the course is so steep that it tenderizes what’s left of our guads.

Once I started up hill, I settled into a comfortable pace. With each step, my brain was constantly monitoring my hamstring. Would it give out? Would it hold up?

Perhaps, I was worried as much about the going downhill as up. Whipping of my lower leg forward stresses my Bicep Femorus specifically.  Several runners flew by me during the downhill, but I stuck with my plan.

Crossing the bridge back in to downtown Charleston, there were 7 more miles to run – all flat miles for the most part.

I followed these two guys until we came 12 miles. Up to this point, I felt decent. No hamstring or quad issues. Other than general fatigue, I felt good. About 12 and half to 13, I started going in the other direction. This coincides with us moving away shaded areas of Charleston and out into the direct sunlight.

Talking Danny before the race he said weather conditions were lots better this year. If 72 degrees at the start and 93 percent humidity is better, I am glad that I didn’t run this race last year. My singlet and shorts were soaked early in the race. Coming down the hill into Charleston, my shoes had the squeaking of being water soaked.

At 13 miles, I knew a sub 1 – 40 time was out the picture. Miles 14 and 15 were some of my slowest miles. I lost nearly 2 minutes off of the pace I had been running up to 13. The lack of running and conditioning showed up.

Strangely, I was both disappointed and happy all at the same time. Disappointed in the fact that I was slowing down when I wanted to run faster. At the same time, happy because I was going to run the entire 15 miles with no hamstring or quad issues.

Finishing 17th overall was nice and first in my age group. My time was my slowest ever: 1:42:47.

Looking back, this race turned out better than I even expected it. The heat and the humidity don’t do me any favors. Of all the races I have run, this is the only one where I routinely dump water over head. I even held ice cubes on top of my head and in my mouth. No trick goes untried during a hot race.

But I would go back again and again. There are some races that you can just indentify with. The Charleston Distance Run is one of my favorites and always will be.


Sweat soaked and tired,

The Cool Down Runner