Saturday, October 31, 2015

Nostalgic


Being a little nostalgic, has it really been 30 years?

They say nothing stays the same for very long but aside from a couple of new play ground sets, Ritter Park looked pretty the same as I remembered it some 30 years ago.

Wow, have 30 years really passed? It seems like only yesterday that I cruised over these crushed limestone paths. I ran 800s around the park until I felt like I wanted to throw up. Any time I was out for a long run, I made sure to cover the park from end to end. It was my favorite place to run in all of Huntington.

Once again this morning, I cruised along those same crushed limestone paths. Memories rolled back like a high light reel from an eighties movie.

Getting back to one’s running roots can make you feel good all over.

Well, this time, I am back in Huntington for the Marshall University Marathon (MUM). I doubt that I will be throwing up this time, but running a marathon, I suspect I will be suffering just as much.

The MUM race committee gets a big thumbs-up for race swag. The cool Asics jacket sports the MUM race logo. Their sweet race blanket sports the MUM logo as well. Together, they probably cost entire race entry fee. I also picked a nice running hat and beanie for $20 both with the MUM logo. I will be styling for days to come. 

Now for my race goals, my training hasn’t been up to my usual standards so I have set my goals accordingly. A sub 3 hours will be my “A” goal. 3 to 3:15 will be my “B” goal. “C” goal will be from 3:15 to 3:30. I ran a 3:09 for 24 miles a few weeks ago so this makes me comfortable setting these as my goals.

I had hoped for some good running weather but right now it looks like mid 50s, humid, and possibly raining. This could well be the worst conditions that I have run a marathon in a long time. I have not run well when it is humid. Both my Charleston race and m 13.1 race were ugly because it was insanely humid.

I can only control one thing that is me. I will get locked into my pace and attempt to run as even splits as possible.

Wish me well,

 

The Cool Down Runner

  

 

Sunday, October 25, 2015

“The Guy”

Wow, yesterday was a full day for me.

First off, I had my last medium 14 mile long run before my marathon next weekend.

Pushing the sleep from my eyes, I headed down the Charlotte Running Company at Dilworth. I was starting here for 10 miles and then looping back so I can pick up the store runs heading out at 8 AM. This runs were in celebration of the Charlotte Running Company 15 years of being in business. Wow, had it really been 15 years. I remember, when they first opened. It is amazing the changes across Charlotte that have taken place.
By way, big thanks to Flavia for planning our our 8 an 4 mile courses.
Back to my store, as I planning out my run, by large, I was looking to do this on the Little Sugar Creek Greenway but while heading down East Blvd by Freedom Park, I suddenly changed my mind. I pushed past the greenway entrance and headed up through the neighborhoods. I ran by the Myers Park Country Club. Took right on Chilton, another right on Sharon, then a left on Wendover. Took left on Providence, and then took a right on Coleville before picking up Randolph Rd. From there, I headed all the way in to uptown. Then, a left on McDowell, a right on Stonewall, a left at South Blvd, and a left back on to East and back to the Charlotte Running Company store.

Without really planning a route out, I managed to run just under 10 miles.

From there, I picked up the store group runs to finish out my last 4 miles. This turned out to be the best part. I have been running so much solo lately that I have missed the social interaction that comes from group runs. On top of it, the miles passed so much more quickly. We were headed back up East Blvd to finish out my run before I knew it.

Then, the mingling started. I got a chance to catch up with a few guys that I hadn’t seen in while. I picked up some shoes. Got myself a sweet Charlotte Running Company hoodie just for spending a $130 on two pairs of shoes. Which of course, I would have bought anyway but the hoodie was a nice perk.    

We took some pictures. I watched as Scott engraved glasses for anyone that wanted one. Wow, I learned that Scott does engravings. I helped Mike put some labels on the shoes boxes.

Before, I knew it; it was 9:30, and I needed to head out.

I swung by to pick up my daughter before heading back to my house. Along the way, we made a quick stop to pick a few items.

Our neighbor was having a block party, and it happens to be on my street.

Changing clothes in a flash, I was back out mowing and then finishing up all of my other chores before the party setup began.

My daughter was expected to do the face painting so we put out our tent, and setup her table, chairs, and supplies.

This was her first time ever doing face painting, and she was awesome at it. First, the girls wanted the frilly stuff done. The boys wanted the scary stuff. Even the adults were getting in on the act. She was painting the Panther’s Iconi Cat head image on their cheeks.

This is a sad but true side story. I have lived in this community for roughly 20 years but I hardly know anyone.  Yes, there are neighbors on each side of me that I know but overall, I don’t know anyone.

Then, yesterday, people were coming up to me and asking was I “the guy” that they see running. Quite possibly, I am. I have seen a few others running her, but not as often.

They were tell me that I inspire them to work out because I am out there rain, sleet, snow, cold, or hot. It doesn’t really matter; I am always running. Actually, I don't run that often. Ususally, my typical runs are over an hour, I rarely run much of the run inside my neighborhood but anyway. 

I don’t know but I wonder now if my cheeks turned red. I have never been one for seeking or expecting praise for the things that I do.

I feel that a man doesn’t need to seek praise for his actions. If he believes in what he is doing. then the results and the satisfaction from his efforts are all that really matter.

True satisfaction always comes from within one’s self.
Like I said, it was a full day, but an awesome one. I would trade watching my daughter face pain for any amount of money. Some memories are so much more valuable.

 

The Cool Down Runner

 

 

 

 

 

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Big South 5k Recap

One of my favorite races to do locally is the Big South 5k. One wouldn’t think this was a fast course after running it but it produces some very fast times year after year. Not to mention, each year it draws more and more fast runners.

This year I rolled out from the starting line for a prerace warm up with some of my Hoka Teammates and few others. Even thou, I have run this course 4 times; I still like to see the course on race morning to remind myself of each and every turn.

As for the race itself, I couldn’t have asked for a better morning. Temperatures were in the mid 40s and there was no wind. For a runner, this is like hitting the lottery.

Seems like every year, I feel like I am stuck in mud getting away from the starting line. People are passing me on both sides. This year was especially bad. My hamstring didn’t like the cold temperatures. I did my best to compensate for it by wearing my compression shorts. For most of the first mile, my breathing was more labored than usual. I couldn’t get comfortable.

Of course, having Corey and Donny up front surging a head me didn’t really help how I was feeling either.

When my Garmin flashed up a 5:45 first mile, I knew that I was at least 15 seconds off of last year.

A couple of hundred meters after the mile, I caught up to Donny. I expected him to go with me when I passed him, and he did. At the crest of the hill, I caught Corey and pulled in behind Andrew.

Andrew was pushing it hard down the hill. It was all I could do to hang on.

I hoped my second mile would be faster. I felt like I was running faster yet the clock showed an 11:31 at the 2 mile or 5:46.

Thinking back to last year, I was nearly 30 faster during that race.

Andrew and I took turns pushing each other over the last mile. We caught up to another guy, and he joined in with us.

I lead them through the last 3 turns. Then, they took off sprinting toward the finish line.

Remember those comic representations where the guy has the devil on one shoulder and an angel on the other shoulder. One was pushing him to be reckless while the other was screaming for him to take the safer course of action.  

During the faction of second while they were passing me this was exactly what was happening to me.

One was telling me to go sprinting after them while the other was telling me remember the big picture. Don’t spend another six months waiting on my hamstring to heal.

With a heavy sigh, I watched as they slowly pulled as away from me. Another day, I might have chased after them. Today, the wisest decision was to let them go.

Finishing with a 17:26 and 23 overall was still a great effort for me. In fact, the entire morning was spectacle for me.

I won my age group.

My Hoka Race Team buddies and I won the Corporate Division of the Team Competition. If memory serves me correctly, this was my 5 winning team award at the Big South 5k.

I count myself luck to have some great fellow runners to help me chase after this team goal.

They are the best ever.

 

The Cool Down Runner

 

 

 

Awesome morning for a run


My fingers were left tingling as the thermometer dipped into the 30s this morning. Months of sweat drenched mornings have passed since the last time they felt this way.

This all happens to occur on what I feel is arguably my favorite day of the week to run - Sunday. Rising early, I get to see the sun rise of over the horizon. My eyes slowly adjust as the darkness yields to the dawn. My shadow casting a long dark outline of a runner on the road ahead me but with each passing minute the sun rises into the crystal clear Carolina blue sky; I am gaining on him. As my shadow reluctantly relinquishes it lead, there is the sudden awareness that the long streets of Charlotte are car free for as far as the eye can see.

There is just this gentle quiet time before world begins to stir that make it seem so special.

Remember to stop and look around once in a while, otherwise you are going to miss out on the world around you.

The Cool Down Runner

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Shoulder Tension


Forever is a long time but this is how long that it seems since I had my last massage. Maybe you are asking how I knew that it was too long. Well, let me tell you. My therapist dug into my shoulders and trapezoids. When she did I came off the table." Ouch", were they ever tight. She must have worked them for twenty minutes. I was ever so glad that she moved on to my legs. Over the next two days when I rolled my shoulders, I rolled them very gingerly. As the soreness passed I felt so much better for it.

Body maintenance is important for every one of us. For those of us who are physically active the important cannot be stressed enough. Having a knowledgable therapist to help work out the sore or tight spots keeps us healthy and injury free. Think of a massage as “an ounce of prevention is a pound of the cure” or “an hour long massage can go along ways toward avoiding the weeks of injury recovery”.

 

Get one today,

The Cool Down Runner

 

Monday, October 12, 2015

Shaking out your arms


When looking through my yearly holiday calendar, Columbus Day isn’t one that jumps out yet, every October our company flags it as a floating holiday. Because our team works with a bank that has it as a holiday, we are expected to take it as well.

So while the rest of the world was heading to work this morning, I pulled on my big boy running shoes and made good use of my day off with a 20 miler. This would be my last 20 miler before my marathon in a little over 2 ½ weeks.

Two hours and half of running gave me plenty of time to work out my blog for today so here goes.

Over my many marathons, I have learned a few tricks. Here’s one trick that will help you later in the race.

As the miles mount up, we all begin to experience some discomfort. Most of the time, this happens in the legs. After all, they have to support the force of 3 times our body weight with every stride.

But nonweight bearing muscle can cramp just as well. For example, I have a bad habit of holding my arms pretty much in one particular position for the entire marathon. By the time that I hit 20 miles, I have trouble straightening them out. In fact more than a few time, I have had them cramp pretty badly.

How did solve this problem? Well, I came with a pretty ordinary solution which worked right out of the gate. Every marathon I always turn on my Garmin auto lap feature so it records my mile splits. When an auto lap event occurs, my Garmin lets out a little beep. This is beep is my reminder to shake out my arms. Surprising once I started doing this shake out, I found my arms felt so much better in the later stages of the marathon and especially in the post marathon hours. It has become part of my norm for every marathon that I do.

If you find your arms stiff, tight, or cramping in the later stages of race, give this a try during your next race. It doesn’t have to be with a beep. Do it at each mile mark along the course.

This little trick has made big difference for me.

The Cool Down Runner,

 

 

 

 

 

 

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Early start time


Rain was expected to arrive in Charlotte sometime during the AM hours this morning. As I thought about, it I had my choices for runs. I could run alone in what would probably be a down pour, but gain a few extra hours of sleep. Or, I could join in with a crew heading out of the Y at 5:30 AM.

Humm, decisions, decisions.

Ok, it wasn’t much of a choice.

I rolled out of bed and headed for the Y.

We had a pretty good group. John, Raiz, Laurie, Chris, and Zack made our 5:30 start. We followed the last 5k of the Thunder Road ½ marathon before joining the Run for Your Life training crew on their run. We also picked up John and Todd to add some spice to our running stew. Along the way, we also ran into a few other guys including Ed.

For the better part of 8 miles, we had dry weather. Then along Colville Road, the skies opened up and continued until we hit Queens Rd where it had not rained a drop. At least this was a decently warm rain and not one of those bone chilling rains.

Overall, I have to say this was one of my better runs. I suspect it was by in large due to the great company that pulled me along this morning.

I appreciate the assist this morning guys and lady.

 

The Cool Down Runner

 

 

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

24 Miler


I wasn’t really in the mood for a mid week long run but when it is must; there is no point in procrastinating.

So well before the sun rose over the horizon, I was already clicking off the first of two laps around my 12 mile course.

For the first time this year, I was carried my hand held bottles and Gatorade chews.  Many of my runs ended with me so hungry and thirsty that I was no desire in repeating those finishes. Just saying this was the reason for carrying this extra stuff.

The first loop was all about getting it done.

The second loop was more about pushing and pushing and pushing some more. My last 10 miles got progressively faster and I was able to finish the 24 mile with a 6:38 mile.

There wasn’t really good reason for me to run faster the last mile. Other than, I noticed my Garmin said 3:03 and running under 3:10 sounded like a pretty nice goal time.

The process continues and with each run I hope my endurance grows closer to what it was. Sub 3 hours is my A goal for this year’s fall marathon.

 

One more long run in the books,

The Cool Down Runner

 

 

 

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Getting it done


Well, after looking at the weather forecast for today, there didn’t appear to be any good times to run. So after dropping my daughter off for play practice, I figured it would be a good time for mental toughness training.

I parked at the Siski Y and headed out for my run. The rain was falling at a steady rate but at least it wasn’t dumping out of bucket. This was more than I expected.  

A mile or so in the rain changed over to a steady drizzle. Ok, this seems to be going in the right direction. That is other than being blown around like kite by the wind.  

Since I had plenty of time to kill, picking up some miles on the 4 mile greenway sounded pretty good. Entering through Squirrel Park, I was stopped by the water flooding over the greenway less than a half mile later. Ok, no big deal, I will just go in the other direction. Ugh, okay, it was flooded on the other side. I ended up going back out the way that I entered.  I should have expected it so I don’t know what I was thinking.

So with the greenway miles now off the limits, I was left to tour the streets of Matthews.  Actually, this wasn’t so bad. It has been years since I spent any real time running around Matthews. Seeing any town by foot is always better than in car. And, exploring some place different keeps me interested. I wish that I did it more often than I do.

Anyway, other than steady drizzle throughout my run and the occasional gust of wind, my run went very well. Nowhere near as tough as I anticipated so the mental toughness training will need to be done another day.

 

Another rainy day in CLT,

The Cool Down Runner

Friday, October 2, 2015

Matrix Stairmaster


Wednesday, I was late getting off from work so instead of heading to the Dowd Y where I knew the parking would be terrible, I headed for the University Y. My preferred location is the Dowd Y because I like their stair masters. The University Y only has the stair masters where you actually have to take a step as you climbing verses the stair master where I only need to raise and lower my knee.

But as I said, I expected parking to be terrible so my only real choice was to give the true stepper stair masters a shot this week.

At the Dowd Y, I will often be reading or listening to music while I am in my 30 minute workout. It didn’t take my long to figure this was not going to work with these Matrix Stair Masters. If I wasn’t watching where my feet went, I was stumbling on to the next step.

15 minutes into the workout, sweat was dripping from my forehead. By 25 minutes, I was ready to climb off of it. My quads were burning.

The last 5 minutes seemed like they took forever.

Were these Matrix Stair Masters better? Yeah, I have to agree that they made me work much harder.  My legs felt trashed for a couple of days.

Somewhere down in here, I do have a moral to this little story.

Life can easily get into a rut as our bodies and minds love a stagnate routine.  Look around to see what’s available and try something new.  You body will thank you it. Maybe not then, but later on for sure.

Matrix Stairmaster – monster workout

The Cool Down Runner