Monday, November 30, 2015

Foot Locker – Race Day

I slept fast on Friday night so I could be back at McAlpine early on Saturday morning. The grunt work was over and now, the main event was about to start.

They put me on timing and later working the finish chute area.

Being a timer is a tough job. Ok, as the first few runners arrive it isn’t bad. But suddenly there are 8, 10, 15 runners all crossing the finish line at once. Keeping up with the count is hard. It is amazing that once they compare the total number of bibs pulled with the actual number of times recorded, just how close they really are.

Of course working the finish line chute is an entirely different experience. I am right in the middle of the action. Guys and ladies are coming in bunches. Our job is to keep them moving and to help those who can’t. I saw runners throwing up, runners weaving from side to side, runners falling down. Heck, I even saw runners crying as they crossed the finish line.

One runner, I held around the shoulders as I helped him to the medical tent. He told me that he couldn’t feel his legs. It is hard not laugh because I can empathize with him. Just as remarkable, 10 minutes later he was walking around as if nothing had happen.

Then, once the last runner crossed the finish line, it was time to clean up. All the hours that we spent putting up fencing, banners, flags, tents, etc, it all had to come down and packed up to be stored away.

The races were over a little after 1 and by 4 we were putting the last of the stuff away. It was like a sprint getting it all taken down. Tom was so tied that he was bent over looking at the ground. At first thought, I wondered if he lost something on the ground.

All of these guys and ladies put in a yeomen’s effort to make this happen. I was just fortunate that they allowed me to share in their experience.

I am already looking forward to helping next year.


The Cool Down Runner  


Sunday, November 29, 2015

Foot Locker Event Setup

With no racing plans on my schedule for the Thanksgiving Holidays, providing some race support sounded pretty good idea to me.
So a while back, I reached out to Tom about helping out with the Foot Locker events. I had run the Open and Masters’ race but never helped out with them.
Through our email exchange, Tom told me to around 9 AM to help with the setup. I arrived at 8:30. Actually, it was 8:20 because I had just finished a 10 mile run around McAlpine.
To describe all of the work that goes into the preparation for this event would make this blog go on for days.  What I can say is this. Aside from one 30 minute break for lunch, we were busy from 8:30 am to nearly 5 pm. We setup scaffolding, hung fences; put up more banners and flags than I care to count. We setup 4 huge, and I do mean huge tents. There were just hours and hours of work put in by Tom and Larry and few others to make this event happen.  
How do you know when someone has a true love for something? Well, this was the 33rd year for Larry doing the Foot Looker events. That’s a lot of holiday weekends give up by anybody. Not to mention, that’s a lot of drive by one individual to keep coming back year after year making it happen.
I applaud Tom, Larry, and Evine for their commitment to excellence. They truly lead by example. They were first to arrive and the last to leave. We could all do well to follow their example.
Btw, on Friday, I dragged myself home, took a shower, ate a small dinner, and fell into bed. Only the alarm for Saturday interrupted my night’s slumber.
The Cool Down Runner

When does one value a workout over self preservation?

Yes, on more than one occasion, I scurried across an intersection as the lights were changing from one color to the next. Not once did it occur to me that I actually might get hit by car. No idea why, the thought never occurred.

This leads me to a similar topic. This past week, I was at the Y spending some time on the stair master. I had just finished an hour long workout and was wiping down the machine when the fire alarm sounded.

One might think that my attention should have been focused on the insanely loud alarm blaring throughout the Y and the potential for real danger lurking just out of sight. Instead my very first thought went something like this – “Wow, I am glad I finished my workout before the alarm sounded”.  

Did I really need to smell of smoke or see the flames roaring in front of me to embolden me to action of exiting the building?

In this case, the great employees of the Y were directing to us to leave the building. Could there be a fire?

I made it just outside the rear entrance before they called off the alarm and said it was safe to enter.  

Still the thought stayed with me. I should worry less about my workout and more about my own personal safety.  On second thought, maybe I will keep my car keys with me as well. No joke. Without my keys, my car is a little more than 3 ton paper weight.

The Cool Down Runner

Spectator’s view of Santa Scramble 5k

I am behind in my blog posts for the last week and it is for good reason. The last week seems to have been a blur of different activities. Typing them up is time that I haven’t had.

I’ll get to each one but for now, let’s start with the topic of Santa Scramble 5k.

The Santa Scramble 5k in Concord is by far one of my favorite races to do. The course is lined with 1000s of parade watchers. There is just this feel that other races don’t have. Only by sheer determination of will, I wasn’t at the starting line.

The mental torture of being a spectator is never easy for me.  Watching as the runners milled around before the race start in the distance. Seeing them as they filled the entire road and made ready to race. Feeling the enormous energy being spent as they came sprinting by where I planned to watch the parade. The entire time, I wished desperately that I was among them. My legs would be resisting the urging to turn over faster. My heart would be rocketing from 0 to 50. My lungs would suddenly find themselves in a desperate need of additional oxygen. All of these things add to one’s discomfort yet I was somehow yearning for them.

Then, out of sight out of mind, the last runner disappeared in to the distance and I set back down in to my see to watch one for the best parades around.

But not before one last thought crossed my mind. Next year, yes, next year, I will be back. I will run it next year for sure.


The Cool Down Runner



Thursday, November 19, 2015

Fall Marathon Social

You missed an awesome Fall Marathon Social on Tuesday night. Charlotte Running Club provided the food, and Charlotte Running Company provided the adult beverages.  What more could any runner want.

Plus, any opportunity to talk running, count me in. With about 20 to 25 having shown up, there were plenty of post race recaps to hear. So for a couple of hours, we put the world on hold and talked about the sport that we all loved doing.

The evening drew to a close when Eric gave out some gift cards to the Charlotte Running Company. He covered our upcoming volunteer opportunities. One is this weekend for Let Me Run 5k near Huntersville, and then next week will be hosting H20 water stop for the Turkey Trot 8k in South Park.
Big "THANK YOU" to Charlotte Running Company for hosting the Fall Marathon Social. The support of our local running stores in Chalotte is second to none.  

Fun times,

The Cool Down Runner


Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Pacing Thunder Road

Pacing Thunder Road Marathon

(appreciate Scott for sharing)
Rolling up on the Thunder Road Marathon finish line a little before 6 AM on Saturday morning, Tim was doing a TV interview. The reporter was asking about what security precautions were be added to the Thunder Road events in light of the tragic events in Paris. After listening to Tim share his thoughts, the interview ended. Hearing him talk about it, my own thoughts drifted to those terrible events, and my prayers went out to everyone affected by those events.

 I wanted to hang out and enjoy the finish line view but my pacing duties called. I needed to head up stairs inside of the BBT stadium.

Our pacers slowly made their way in as we all gathered before heading to the starting line just after 7 AM.

Rob didn’t roll up until I was standing at the starting line. The thought had crossed my mind that I might be going solo today. I really needed Rob’s assistance. Rob and I work well together. I bring the enthusiasm. Rob keeps our pace in check the entire way.

Like I said, we work well together.

The final countdown goes by quickly, and we are off and running.

Launching from nothing to 7:15 isn’t easy. This is especially true as I get older. We were off by 15 second over the first couple of miles. No one really feels the hills until they hit the first real uphill on 4th street. Then, there are a few rollers as we go through Coleville. The first true test is heading up the long hill on Providence Road.

What is good about these sections is the crowd support. Lots of people were out bringing the noise as we pass by. Those not cheering were encouraged loudly by me as we passed.

We lost a few seconds on Providence but tried to make it up going back down Wendover. We ran even splits through the Myers Park area. So far, we had a pretty good group with us.

The long drag down Kings Dr. was awesome.

(appreciate this picture, Peter)
Then, the hated climb up Moorehead and by Latta Park tested everyone. We lost a large portion of our posse during this section. Let's be honest here. TRM is a tough course. For that matter, any uptown race is tough.

The bands playing along the course were a nice touch. I do wish they had been playing more enthusiastic/up beat music. I am working to motivate my posse so every little bit helps.

The last couple of miles in South End are some of the better running sections on the entire course. The view of the skyline coming up Mint Street is fantastic. As we came by the Panthers Stadium and move passed the Duke Energy Parking deck, the finish line can be seen in the distance.

Last year, I didn’t take the time to enjoy this moment, but this year I did. I slowed, whipped out my camera, and started taking pictures. I took pictures of the people coming to the finish line. I took pictures of the people headed to the finish line.

I even took pictures after I crossed the finish line.

With 2 Thunder Road pacing assignments now on my resume, I feel more like a veteran. Before last year, pacing was not something I thought much about doing. Now, my thoughts are already thinking about next year.  

If I have anything to do with it, our Charlotte Running club will be back in '16 to help with the pacing duties.
Think about joining us.


Best in Running,

The Cool Down Runner





Monday, November 16, 2015

Thunder Road Marathon Expo

If you want to talk running, then one of the best places to do it is during the Thunder Road Marathon Expo.

Over the course of 12 hours, numerous runners came by our Charlotte Running Club booth. We talked about everything from pacing, to the course, to the start and finish locations. We even gave recommendations on parking. We talked about other races coming up. We talked by races that we done in the past.

By Friday evening my voice was nearly done. It hurt to talk.

Was it worth it? Heck, yeah, and I would do it again. Actually, I have already made some notes about what we can do better for next year.

Our club played a small role in helping make the Thunder Road Marathon a success. The real praise needs to go to the race organizers. Tim, DC, Katherine and other did a fantastic job with the expo and race. They are truly leading by example.  

Billy, John, and Gurmit get a shout out for helping me out during the day in our expo booth. Gurmit gets an extra shout out for creating all of our pacing signs for the race. They are definitely difference makers.  

The most important part of our success story is our Thunder Road pacers which deserve a huge shout out. For the second straight year, our Charlotte Running Club organized the pacers for the race. These are an exceptional group of people that come out on a Saturday morning to do well by their fellow runners and help those runners achieve their goals. There are not enough words of appreciation to be expressed for how much this really means. All I can simply say is “THANK YOU”


See you at the expo next year,

The Cool Down Runner


Monday, November 9, 2015

Cold and Rain

Cold was the morning air. Every step made chiller by the rain trickling down the inside of my collar. A warm and cozy tread mill run sounded so very good right now.

These were the thoughts that plagued me during my run this morning.

Yes, I could have hit the tread mills at the Y for a run.

However, I do these runs not because I have to but because I want to.

From time to time, mental toughness needs to harden from a real life experience. Unless, one is willing to choose the difficult path, they will never appreciate the easy path. A pouring rain and 40 degree temperature certainly qualifies.

Of course the drivers at the corner of Selwyn and Providence watching me bounce from one foot to the other while the rain flows off the sides of my cap might consider me at something less than sane. But what they do they know. With a warm bagel and a hot cup of coffee, they idled their lives away while I was living my life.

Challenge yourself to the tough path,

The Cool Down Runner



Friday, November 6, 2015

Recovery Time

After a big race, we all deserve a few easy days. After all, we have worked hard. We went out and preformed at a high level. Our bodies took a beating. Recovery is part of the process.

For me, I like to take a few easy days running after my marathons. Usually about Thursday, I add back the core work and stretching. If there is no lingering soreness, Gtting back into the Y for a easy weight circuit and stair master workout are just the ticket for Friday.  

So this is how my week went so far.  Boy, did it feel pretty good.

Everyone is different. Their recovery may be a day or two like me or they may need a few weeks. The reasons why vary just as much as the recovery periods.

My general rule is to let any soreness fade way. Then, slowly get back to training. My legs will be dead for a week or two which is to be expected. They will need the long recovery period. But core, stretching, upper body lifting, non-impact activites help keep the aerobic engine well tuned.

Find your own recovery time, but remember to err on the side of caution. Coming back too soon can lead to injury and further downtime. Something that no runner wants.


The Cool Down Runner  

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Marshall University Marathon

Cruising down roads that I hadn’t seen in a long time left me nostalgic over the weekend, but Sunday morning it was time to get down to the business of running the Marshall University Marathon (MUM).

I would like to start off by talking about the weather. If only the race could have been on Saturday morning. The temperature was 40 degrees, low humidity, and no wind. In my opinion these were perfect conditions for running a marathon. Yet, we were running on Sunday. By race time, the temperature was 54 degrees and just a slight wind out of the south. But the overnight rain left the streets wet and the air nearly 100% saturated. These were definitely not nearly the conditions that I wanted.

When I tell other runners that I am running a marathon in WV, almost every time they reply with is it hilly. Yes, this is a good assumption. Finding a placed to run that doesn’t include a hill is nearly impossible. Yet, the MUM race team did a pretty good job with this marathon. This race only had 3 small hills of which 2 we ran twice. The first one, we hit at about 5 and 18 miles in to the race. The second one, we hit just before 10 miles and 23 miles. It actually is an underpass so runners go down and then back up. The third is on 29th street which is about 14 miles in to the race.

Continuing on the topic of the course, the MUM course is a two loop course. The race starts in front of the Marshall Thundering Herd Stadium. Then, it makes a short 2+ mile look before passing back by the Stadium and heading toward the west end of Huntington. Except for short stint where we run along the Ohio River, we run on the same road for about 3 miles. The course then turns south and runs over to Ritter Park where we did 3+ miles on the crushed limestone trails. These were my favorite miles.

After leaving Ritter Park, we turn right on 8th street, left on 4th street, and right to pick up the same road that we ran out. From there we retraced our steps back toward the start and do it all over again.

Before this race, I had never run a double loop marathon. There are some advantages. One of the biggest is that I know where I am going the second time around. Late in a marathon, I am tired and not having to think about where the course goes certainly helps.

I do want to give a shout out to MUM for water stops. There were at least 10 water stops spread over the 13.1 mile loop.  In total, we passed some 20 water stops over 26.2 miles.

There are some things that play on the mind when running this course. MUM marks every mile both on the road and with flag. Crossing the 24 mile mark 3 times before doing it for real kept reminding me of just how far that I had to go.

Then, there are the bricks. Ugh, I really hate running over bricks. They are never truly even so it plays havoc with my stride. If I had to compare it to anything, I would say it is like running cross country where you can see the grass but cannot see the slight undulations of the ground underneath. This course has a couple of brick sections. The 29th street is brick and there is a brick section when we passed through the university.

No recap would be complete without talking about MUM race finish. I turned right into the stadium, and was offered a foot ball to carry to the finish. I knew about this tradition from reading the many online blogs about this race. Up and until this moment, I hadn’t made a decision if I was going to take one. But when they reached out to hand it to me, I took it and headed off down the field. At about the 20 yard line, there was a hard U-turn and then the sprint of 80 yards back to the finish. My body was tired and making a u-turn wasn’t easy but the sight of the finish line spurred me forward.

What seems more unbelievable, I couldn’t find a single picture of me carrying the foot ball over the finish line. How could they have missed me? I have no idea.

There is one other tradition which I didn’t know about or understand but during our 26 mile, they ask us to take a flower and throw it into the fountain.  Never heard what this one was about.

As for me, I was walked away with a time of 2:55:16. I finished 9 Overall and first in my age. The awards were these nice green glass bowls. My bowl is setting here on my desk.  I would have to consider this a pretty unique award.

My 2:55 was better than I expected. I had set an A goal of sub 3 hours based on my training which I hadn’t done much. My lead up races: Charleston 15 miler and Race 13.1 hadn’t gone well so more than a few doubts about my fitness circulated in the back of my mind.  I fully expected to slow down during the last 6 miles, but I hoped I could maintain 6:30s through 20. I hit 10 miles a few seconds under 65 minutes. I hit 20 miles at 2:10:32. My last 6 were run at 7:05 pace so in the end, I executed exactly what I wanted in less than ideal conditions.

As I wrap of this post, I do want to give the MUM race organizers a double thumbs up. They do a great job with this race. If you are looking for a good race to do within easy driving distance of Charlotte, this is a good one to do.

The MUM's race will like get on my fall racing calendar a few more times before I hang up my marathon racing shoes.


Adding another marathon to the books,

The Cool Down Runner