Friday, July 31, 2015

PRs and legit courses


Yesterday evening, Eric, Pete, and I were chatting and our conversation as most conversations for runners do they ventured in to the area of PRs or Personal Records.

Pete was talking about one of his PRs and made the statement about it being on a legit course.

For some unknown reason, this statement sent me wondering about my own PRs. Since I started racing in ’83, I kept track of every one of my races: the time, date, race, awards won, etc. During this time, I have run some decent race times that I am very proud to talk about.

Again, going back to Pete’s statement, I was left wondering.

When I ran my first road race in ’83, I wasn’t even wearing watch. I depended on the race organizers to record and tell me my time. I don’t remember exactly but it was probably a year or two later that I began using a stop watch – mostly for capturing my mile splits during a race.

For the next 22 to 25 years, I ran numerous races using only a stop watch. Only in the late 2000s did I make the move to using a Garmin.

My first encounter with GPS watch came at the Greekfest 5k. This guy behind me had this massive looking watch strapped to his wrist. It had to weigh 2 pounds so of course; I had to ask him about it. These days, I wear a Garmin around, albeit not as big, without thinking about it.

In all those years running without a Garmin, most races I never questioned the race distance. If I ran 10 to 15 seconds faster, I had a good day. If I ran slower, I had a bad day. As with anything there are some caveats. On a hot day or hilly course, I expected to run slower times.

As a runner after a couple of 5k races, we have a pretty good feeling for our level of conditioning. If we suddenly ran 1 minute faster, we don’t know for sure but we will often suspect the course of being short.

I am still left wondering how many of my races were on legit courses. I mean it was the ‘80s. How many race directors just drove the course with their cars to mark it off?  

Should I put an “*” beside those races and say these were the advertised distances. The actual distance was not verified.

Then, again, does it matter to any other than me. In any one of those races I ran the course the same as everyone else. A time was recorded for my effort. The awards were given out based on our finisher times. The rest is just a part of history.

 

Races display the hard work for the rest of your running,

The Cool Down Runner

 

 

  

Nagging injuries

Ever think that an injury will just not go away. This is exactly where I am right now. My hamstring was on the mend but somehow over the last 4 weeks it has reared its ugly head again.

The first of the month my running was good. My only complaint was this nagging Charlie horse feeling in my left quad. The only way to describe it would be to say it felt like a huge bruise. After a 5 or 6 miles it became painful similar to the way cramp would feel.

From all indications, my quad seemed overly tight so I went about loosening it up.  In process I got more in the bargain than I needed or wanted. My quad loosened up but immediately my hamstring began complaining again. This shouldn’t be any surprise to me.  Our bodies are all counter balanced with one muscle relaxing while another muscle is contracting. It is all a circle of life analogy.

The harder runs make it hurt more.  Each run starts with the feeling of my hamstring held in a tight grip. Then, it shifts up into the glut after a few miles. Around five or six miles, my quad starts to get in on the act.  Beyond 6 miles the pain floats between the quad, the hamstring, and the glut. Never once do all hurt at the same time.

Strangely, once I am finished with my run, the pain is gone. I am not bothered by it walking, laying down, or sitting.

 The pain isn’t debilitating, but it does hold me back. I feel similar to finishing a 20 mile run. My breathing is fine. I, however, don’t have the will push any harder. In the back of my mind, if I push harder, I could end up hurting it more.

I know in time it will heal. However, being patience has never been my strong suite.  

 

Stay healthy my friends,,

The Cool Down Runner    

Monday, July 27, 2015

Beat the Heat 5k Recap


I race around Charlotte as the mood hits me, but I enjoy getting out to race in other communities. See some new faces. Make some new friends. Check out some new areas.

Over the weekend, I drove up to Winston Salem for the Beat the Heat 5k. Having run numerous races organized by the TCTC, I know their races will always be top notch and attract a strong field of competitors.

Saturday evening’s race was no different.

There were plenty of runners competing which had participated in the Olympic trials. There was one runner which had just wrapped up competing in the PAN-AM games earlier in the week.

Skipping forward, the “Beat the Heat” course is one you either love or hate. For spectators, it is great. Runners pass near enough that they can be seen several times. For runners, for me personally, the course is a tough one. The opening mile is okay. There is a small climb but it has ample downhill to make up for it. Roughly, around a mile and quarter the course turns up hill. There are a couple of false flats over the next mile or so but runners are essentially running uphill the entire way.

Perhaps it is poetic justice or perhaps it is the race organizers way of playing a joke on the runners but when I passed two mile point, I noticed this grave yard to the right of road. How appropriate was it? I would say extremely appropriate. My legs were dying. My lungs were gasping for air. Oh, yeah, my glut and hamstring hurting badly.

Yet, I would not allow myself to give in to the temptation of slowing down nor dare shall I say that ugly four letter word – “quit”

Once we topped the hill, the last half mile consist of a set of gentle downhill rollers to the finish. If a runner has any mojo left in their legs, this is the section to use it. The guys around me throw in surge while I do my best to pull them back after each surge. My glut and hamstring provided no help by sending a constant stream of pain impulses to my brain. At three miles, Joe throws one massive surge and goes flying back by me. There is nothing left in my legs today. Throw in the glut and hamstring complaints and I am ready for the finish line.

I cannot explain it but doesn’t the last .1 of mile seem to take forever. Life moves into slow motion between 3 miles and 3.1 miles. Too bad race clocks don’t slow down to match.

I finished 36th overall. This placed me second in the Grand Masters’ division for the USAT&F standings. I ran 18:13. Joe, who surged past me in the last tenth, finished in 18:09. He won first place in our Grand Masters’ division.  So close yet so far.

Helping out runners this year was the weather. Normally, July gets plenty of hot and humid evenings. This year the temperature was in mid 80s with a nice breeze blowing. I cannot say if it improved times overall, but at least the running was bearable.

The Charlotte area was well represented. Chad ran in the 16:20s and scored an age group award. Alana had a great race to finish 2nd overall among the ladies in 17:20.

TCTC, the Beat the Heat 5k organizers and volunteers did a fantastic job putting on this race. Their efforts keep this race on the top of a runner’s must do list year after year so kudos to them.

 

Enjoying an evening in Winston Salem,

 

The Cool Down Runner

 

 

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Saturday Evening Races

Did you race this morning? If you did, you are ahead of me. I will drive up to Winston Salem this evening for Beat the Heat 5k.

If I had to guess, you are well on your way to having a great weekend. As for me, I will only be having 1/2 of a weekend. The first half will be spent avoiding any hard task so I will "hopefully" race well tonight. This leaves just one day to break free and do a fun activity or two.

Don't waste any more time. Get started today with your end of week break.


Do a fun activity,

The Cool Down Runner



Thursday, July 23, 2015

High noon of Summer


Charlotte is in the middle of the hottest summer on record. Could runners be facing any worse conditions to start their training for an early fall marathon. Cranking out a 20 miler is tough enough. Cranking it out when the morning temperature is 75 degrees before the sun comes up, is even harder.

A side from starting runs way earlier i.e. before the sun crests the horizon and staying well hydrated, there isn’t much else for one to do.

May be trying running on a tread mill in doors. A few friends that I know have taken this approach. Although, I don’t understand how they do it. Tread mills in my opinion borderline on cruel and unusual punishment. A 20 miler on a tread mill can easy approach between 2 and 3 hours or more.

How many Seinfeld, Friends, or Big Bang Theory reruns can one person truly watch?  Here’s hoping they have a Netflix account to help them through it.

Recently, I read an article about breaking up long runs. For example, instead of doing a 20 miler, the article suggested doing 2 – 10 mile runs separated by 8 to 10 hours.

As we run of course, we get tired. A tired runner is less efficient i.e. meaning their forms starts to break down. This can be very true during a 20+ mile run. The theory behind the split long run is getting 2 quality runs. During the 2nd run there will still be a certain level of fatigue, but there should be sufficient recovery time to allow the runner to keep good form during the run.

Could everyone do this method? It isn’t likely. Most working class runners are also time crunched runners so getting in a 2nd run would be considered a luxury. Having the ability to fit in 2 – 10 milers in the same day means these runners live in a utopian runner's society.  A society we would all love to live.

Whatever training method you use, just make sure to be safe.  As tough as a cold day is for training, a hot day can easily put you in the hospital.

 

Stay safe and hydrated my friends,

The Cool Down Runner

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Charlotte Running Company Race Team


I’m excited to announce officially that I am a member of Charlotte Running Company Race Team.  

This change began several months ago when Scott, one of the Charlotte Running Company Owners, reached out to me. Life moves on and change is always good so I agreed to come on board.  

Since then, he, Flavia, and I have been working on the formation of our team which has been a really exciting process for me.

Our team has fantastic team members, and I am looking forward to wearing our Charlotte Running Company Race team colors in some local races around Charlotte. Look for us to be racing alot and especially if the race has a team category.

When you see me from now on, the jersey colors will be in Green and Black.

See you at the races,

The Cool Down Runner

 

 

Monday, July 20, 2015

3rd Annual CRC Brain Freeze Run ‘15


On a hot day there is nothing more freshing than nice ice cold Popsicle or maybe two or three of them.  

This all started a couple of years ago when Rob had the inspiration to create our CRC Brain Freeze Run.

Each year during one of hottest days of summer our club members gather to eat popsicles and run. This club tradition has runners eating a Popsicle before starting a 4 mile run. Then they eat a Popsicle at miles 1, 2, and 3.

This year Omega Sports off Park Rd stepped up to host our event. We are very appreciative of Dan and his Omega Sports Team for helping us out.

For those wondering, there was no running and popsicles for me. I set up shop to crew our 1 and 3 mile popsicle stations.

Watching hot and sweat runners arrive to quickly devour their second Popsicle was pretty cool to watch. Most put it away quickly, and they headed on to the 2 mile station.  Fast forward to mile 3, the ice cold Popsicle was not looking quite as inviting. Runners were taking a bit longer to eat them.

There was a report or two of runners leaving their popsicles along the course because they couldn’t hold them down.  How they kept them down in the first place, I will never know.

Big thanks to Flavia for organizing our event and Joe, Dan, and Billy for helping crew our Popsicle stations. Nothing happens without good people making it happen.

To view pictures from the event, click here.

If you want to learn what it is like to eat a Popsicle and run, watch this video.

 

Eat a Popsicle and go for a run,

 

The Cool Down Runner

 

 

 

    

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

EnduraCool – Multi Cool

During the warmer months my sweat level increases in what seems like an exponential rate mainly between May and Sept. My shorts are dry for may be a mile into my runs. By the end of my runs, they are completely soaked. Typically, they are dripping water as I walk back to my car.

While wearing soaked shorts isn’t fun by any means. Having sweat run down in my eyes is even worse. The burning sensation makes a hot run even harder.

These days I have gone to wearing a baseball cap during my runs but even caps don’t do much after a certain point.

So I am always looking for something new.

Back in June while channel surfing I stopped on some random channel showing an Ad for the EndurCool – Multi Cool. After watching the commercial, I decided to try it.

Ok, now, I am struggling on how to best describe it. May be the close analogy is comparing it to a neck gaiter. The material is similar to what is used for compression shorts and calf sleeves.

The package comes with instructions for 12 ways to wrap it around your head and neck. I use the skull cap and neck skirt variation.

From my personal experience, the EnduraCool works well. Sweat no longer gets in my eyes.  For the most part my head and neck seem to stay cooler since they are now covered. Additionally, EnduraCool material provides SPF 50 protection so I don’t have to worry about getting a sun burn.

Post runs, I hand wash it, and then, hang it up to dry.

Currently, they only come in blue and pink. EnduraCool is available online or at Lowes. I purchased my EnduraCool at Lowes because I wanted to look at it before I made my purchase.

At $24 the cost is a bit pricey, but I do like the convenience of it.

 

Stay cool my friends,

 

The Cool Down Runner

 

 

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Concord Street Light 5k

What was I thinking when I registered on race day for the Street Light 5k. The thermometer on my car showed a temperature of 102 degrees. If this does not dissuade me from racing, nothing else will.

Stepping to the starting line, a nice thick layer of perspiration covered my skin. I wasn’t expecting much based on my recent training and the heat. Thus, I definitely checked my expectations at the door.

 During the first mile, I moved slowly up to 4th place over all. My only real goal was to win my age group if possible. Then, the racers ahead of just seemed to slow down. Shortly, after the mile, I moved in 3rd place. Before the turn around, I moved up to 2nd place. Then, after the turn around I passed the leader. Between the heat and his fast first mile, I suspect his legs felt quite heavy.

Having raced this race before, I knew exactly what to expect. The 2nd mile is fairly flat but the 3rd mile is truly grueling. The course climbs and climbs. A set of switch backs come next, and when it feels like it is over, the course hits the main road and goes up hill again.  For a 5k, this one is absolutely cruelty on runners.

I looked over the edge of the switch back to see if the second place runner was in sight. Nothing caught my eye.

Confident the race was going my way. There was nothing left to do but focus on getting to the finish.   Rounding the final two corners, I headed for the finish line. There was nearly a minute before the next runner arrived.

My effort was solid for me again given the conditions and my training. I ran 18:18. My first mile was 5:27, 5:48, and 6:36. Best of all, I got a much unexpected “W”.

Now, my attention turns to the “Beat the Heat” 5k later this month. I expressly ran this 5k because it very much parallels the start time and weather conditions for the “Beat the Heat” 5k. Let's hope if gives me an edge.

 

Best of luck with your training,

 

The Cool Down Runner

 

 

Monday, July 13, 2015

Volition Preview Group Run II

 


Saturday, I drove up to Mooresville for the Volition Preview Group run II. Whitney, the race director, and Todd, the Charlotte Running Company manager for the Mooresville store, along with Dennis, owner of Queen City timing, have been organizing these monthly group runs over the expected race course.

We left the Food Lion on Brawley School Rd. around 7:30 and headed out toward the point. If you read my previous post, you will remember that the course runs down toward the lake. There are three small neighborhood loops near turn around. Then, everyone heads straight back to the start.

While Saturday morning was again extremely warm, Todd, Dennis, and Whitney made sure everyone in the group had multiple opportunities to hydrate with four water stops along the course route. Two of the stops had Nuun as well.

Equally exciting was to see the size of the preview run group take a huge jump. More people are hearing about this race.

From what I heard, they are planning two more preview runs. There will be an August edition and a September edition. Potentially, the September run will be a simulator run over the first 10 miles with a 3 mile cool down back to the start.

Race and registration information are available by clicking here.

 

See you at the next preview run in Aug,

 

The Cool Down Runner

 

Friday, July 10, 2015

Voltion 1/2 Preview Run tomorrow

Getting out the door will be easy tomorrow. I will run my second preview run over the Voltion 1/2 marathon course. Special thanks to Dennis, Whitney, and Todd who have organized this second preview run from the Food Lion on Brawley School Rd. in Moorresville.

This run is open to everyone and there should be a number of people running different paces. There will also be H20 along the course so you can stay hydrated on what is expected to be another hot day in Charlotte.

The starts at 7:30 so don't be late.


See on the roads,

The Cool Down Runner

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Record your workouts


They say a camera adds 10 pounds to a person’s frame. They might want to add – a camera also adds 10 minutes to a person’s pace.  Watch my video and you will see it.

A couple of weeks ago with my camera in hand, I recorded my strides and form drills during an evening workout.


There are no super secrets here. Strides, high knees, and butt kicks constitute the entire workout along with a warm up and cool down mile.

More so, recording the workout allows me to go back and see where my running technique needs improvement. We all slack a little bit and the only way to see if I am slacking is to watch myself while running.


In the video, there was several areas right off the bat which need changing. One big one was my shoulders. I have a bad habit when running of pulling my shoulders up.  When I do, it tightens up my back, traps, and neck muscles. This really affects how well that I run. Occasionally during my long runs, these muscles can even cramp up on me. Then, there was my less than stellar ability to either get my knees higher or actually get the heels of my shoes to touch my gluts. One day, I wonder if I will even be able to move.

The point of this blog is – make use of your smart phone or camera. Record your workouts. Later take a look at your form. Cameras don’t lie and can be a great tool for helping make you a better runner.

 

See you at the movies,

The Cool Down Runner

  

 

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Morning Run

How was your morning run? If you were running here in Charlotte this morning, you most likely felt like you were in the side of a vegetable steamer.

7 miles in to my 10 mile run with Megan, Steve, and Aaron, we were headed up Sardis Rd back to PDS. Sweat was dripping off my nose, my hands, and just about everywhere else. My running shorts were absolutely soaked. Pressing the concede button seemed inorder. I was toast. Or to use a steak analogy, I was well done. Actually, I was blacked on the edges.

I have to say that most of the year Charlotte is a awesome place to run. But there are those occasional hot and humid summer days that just leave me drained.

This morning just happened to be one of those days.

 

Sharing thoughts from one hot summer morning run,

The Cool Down Runner

 

 

Sunday, July 5, 2015

HFFA Fire Cracker 5k

Ok, so several months have passed and I finally worked up the nerve to test my hamstring in race again. Besides, sometimes, I need to blow out the pipes and get a feel for my current conditioning.

Megan, Paul M., and I knocked out our warm up run over the course, and then we went our separate ways to finish final preparations.

Paul and Chad were coming off racing the Fire Cracker 5k in south Charlotte the night before. Actually, this was Chad’s 3rd race, I believe, in 5 days. He also ran the Championship 5k on Tuesday night at our summer track meet in 15:57. I knew these guys were going to head out pretty hard.

Gathering on the starting line, the butterflies should have been turning over in my tummy while we awaited the final countdown. But other than the constant doubt if this was really a good idea, I just tried to ready myself for the task ahead.

Having run this course a few times, I know about the fast first mile, the uphill next mile and half, and the fast downhill finish at the end.

The horn sounded, and we bolted from the starting line. Andy, one of the Gaston County Runners, was a few steps ahead of me as we all charged down the hill. In the back of my brain, there was too much thought going to my hamstring. I could feel it twitch from running faster than I had run in months. Then, we settled on the ½ mile flat section that runs to the first mile marl. Paul N. (different Paul) passed me and I focused on staying right behind him.

Thoughts of my hamstring slowly faded away when we hit the long climb on the course. Paul and I picked off a couple of guys. Turning left on 115, Paul opened a gap on me. My legs just wouldn’t respond with any more speed.

We finally made the right to head downhill and back to HFFA. It was going to be close. There was a clock at the 3 mile which told me just one thing. Sprint if you want that sub 18 minute 5k.

I stepped on the line at 17:54 so I am pretty happy with my race. I had fully expected to run 18:30 or slower. With no ill effects coming from my hamstring, I couldn’t have been happier.

I actually finished 6th overall and won my age group.

Major “kudos” go to Jones Timing Company. Not only were the results available and awards given out before 9:15. They started them 30 minutes early – actually before we finished warming down.

We also learned that HFFA is retiring the Fire Cracker 5k and starting the Red, White, and Blue run next year. Excited to see what they do with it.

Based on how this race went, there is a good possibility that I will race again this month. I need something else to blow out a little more dust before I head into “Beat the Heat” 5k the last of this month.

Feeling better about racing,

The Cool Down Runner

 

 

 

 

Friday, July 3, 2015

Hydration, Nunn, and recovery


Charlotte has been overtaken by a rainy overcast morning as we head into a holiday weekend. Once the forth is in the books, runners will probably be looking for races to do. Others like me are starting to plan out their race schedules with a fall marathon in mind.

Unless you are running on a trail, anything more than a 10k in the summer time just isn’t feasible. The heat is just too much. Our bodies are tuned to run but they really struggle when most of the blood normally used to power our muscles is instead sent toward the surface of our skin to help cool our bodies. Then, there is just the normal recovery time from a hot run. A few days ago I jumped on my scales after a run. I had to step off and back on again just to make sure it was reading correctly. During the run my weight dropped 10 pounds. Drinking copious amounts of H20 isn’t easy so taking in enough to recover from losing 10 pounds can be even more difficult. And, if the water doesn’t get replenished before the next run, then this run starts with a deficient.

This is the point where spiraling downhill can occur. Hitting the bottom probably means walking.

My favorite way to replace these missing electrolytes is with Nunn. Drop a Nunn tablet into a bottle of water, let is dissolve, and then give it a good shake. I get the electrolytes without the loads of calories.

The Nunn gives the water some flavor and helps my body recover much quicker than if I just use H20 alone.

Just remember the more you run, the more you need to be concerned about hydration.  Being dehydrated can definitely affect your performance.

Drink up,

The Cool Down Runner

 

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Guinness World Records Title Holder


 
Our Charlotte Running Club is now an official Guinness World Records Title Holder. Yesterday afternoon, an email arrived in my inbox stating that the Guinness Records Manager had accepted my application i.e. documentation, pictures, videos, etc as proof we broke their record for most linked runners completing a 5k race - 179 Runners strong.

What is not to feel good about? I am now an official world record holder along with a 178 of my fellow runners that helped me achieve this huge accomplishment.

They say to do something that you love, and you never work a day in your life. Truth be known, it doesn’t really matter how many hours I spent making it happen. The fact is that we did make it happen and a Guinness World Record now resides in our great city of Charlotte and with our very own Charlotte Running Club.

I am so thrilled for our team, our city, and our running club.

If you would like to see Guinness's listing of our record, please click here.

If you were member of our team and would like to buy a participate certificate from Guinness, there is an id and code that is needed to be able to purchase it. Either email or message me on FaceBook and I will provide you with this code.

Guinness charges $25 for this participate certificate.

 

So excited,

The Cool Down Runner

 

 

 

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Summer Track Program Wk #6 – Championship Week


 
 




US National 800 Record
Holder
Over the last 5 weeks Charlotte has smothered with the most oppressive heat possible. Our Tuesday night track series often left runners wondering if they were actually running on the sun as the heat zapped the strength from their bodies.

Last night was nearly a complete 180. With the temperature in the upper 70s and a humidity that didn’t leave them sweating most runners found a bounce in their step.

The rest they say is history.




Start of the Open Mile
I saw some great efforts and great times last night. Chase led Bert out for about 600 meters and then Bert had to do the rest himself. His legs were pumping hard as he crossed the finish line with a great time. Steve, who has been nursing a quad injury, was back and running hard last night. He and Cory were battling for most of the mile race. Stan was back from vacation and was looking both fit and fast. Bobby and his daughter were pushing hard to lower their times for the summer.  Andrew led the open mile followed by Allison. If memory serves me correctly, this was Allison only week running in the series but she was also the fastest female with a time around 5:17.

In the 800 for either 60 to 64 or 65 to 69, a runner broke the US National record 2:26 (I think). Like I said, runners were flying last night.

The two big events of the evening were the 5000 and the 4 x 400 relay. Starting with the 5000, with the exception of a couple of laps Chad led wire to wire to win in 15:57. He looked strong the entire way. Danielle was calling splits for him and kept him on pace with each passing lap. David, who was looking for a 20 minute time, settled for a 21 minute time but still had a fantastic effort. Both Mike and Eric ran strong 5000 as well. Stan, Lisa, Rob, and Carroll opted for the 3200 event which started at the same time as the 5000. They equally ran strong and well.  

The night ended with the 4 x 400 teams. Relay races are some of the most exciting races to watch because it is probably the only time in a track meet where the word “team” effort plays a true role in the outcome of a race. The race was close but the Meredith’s Running Works team showed that they have some serious leg speed with a 4:12 (Don’t quote me) time.

Before wrapping up this post, I feel I really need to editorialize one point about our local summer track program. There is a lot of hard work that goes into making this series happen each and every year. Whether runners say it or not, I have to think they truly appreciate Tom, Tim, Steve, and the rest of the RFYL gang that puts on this series. They do a fantastic job and dont' get enough credit for their efforts.
100 Meters Sprint

But if there was one thing that I could change, it would be how they market their Championship week for this series. To runners that don’t have a history around Charlotte they think this week is only for the fastest runners. While, yes, there is typically one event for the fastest from the past 4 or 5 week (like this year), there are still open events. The way this final week is marketed; runners just don’t realize it, and most of the time they just skip the Championship week. I have lost count of how many times that I have been asked about Championship week and what it means.  The explanation literally just rolls off my tongue as if on a record player.

Otherwise, we have one of the best summer track programs around, and hopefully, it will remain strong and vibrant for many years to come.

See you next summer on the paper clip,

The Cool Down Runner