Friday, December 30, 2016

St. Pete Running Company


In 2007, I ran a race in Belmont, NC and throughout the race this young kid stuck to my shoulder like glue.  Ok, as I get older everyone gets younger. It is just a fact of life. But anyway, after the race, we chatted for a bit and a friendship was born. Later that year, I ended up joining the race team they formed at the running store where he worked.

Over the years, we have run off and on together. Along the way, I watched him get married, start a family, move to another country, move back to the states, and then go on to open his own running store in south Florida.

They say - do what you love and you will never work a day in your life. Others might call it living the dream.  Regardless of how you want to describe it, Cody appears to be doing it.

So when I was in the St. Pete area a couple of weeks ago, I had to drop by his running store and check-in.

I was very impressed. He is doing quite well for himself and his family. Life is definitely treating him well.

Then, Cody always seemed to have a vision of what he wanted, and now his has found the right circumstances to make his dream a reality.

Congrats my friend, and continued success to you and your family.

The Cool Down Runner

 

 

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

2016 Year end recap

2016 started off well. I ran decently at the Frosty 50 – 25k race. I did a decent race at the Cupids Cup 5k, and then similarly at the 10 miler in south Charlotte. I’ll set the trail races at the White Water aside because, well because I have never been a great trail racer but I enjoy the running on the trails. I guess that explains why I keep going back to them.

Then, I ran 2:52 at the Wrightsville Beach Marathon. While it was not one my better races, it was still a solid race effort for me.

Then, it seems that from this point onward throughout the rest of the year, I never really found my groove. Yeah, I raced some different races but I seemed to be aimlessly moving forward with no real objective in mind.

By July, I was working through what I thought at the time was another hamstring injury but would turn out to be tendentious in my hip. I was doing the wrong treatments which just prolonged my recovery.

The rest of the year just seemed to be a march forward in frustration.

After the Marshall Marathon, I cut back my mileage and pretty much ran how I felt for the rest of the year.

The more one trains for something. The more mental effort allocated to a reaching a goal. The more body as well as the mind needs a recovery period. Having goals is a good thing, but they cannot be stacked one right after the other. Eventually, the mind burns out and the body wears down, and a recovery period is forced upon me rather than scheduled in to my overall training plan as it should be.

Whether this all makes sense or not only time will tell.  

 

Cool Down Runner

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Say No to Drugs 10k


With the weather in Charlotte dipping into the twenties and maybe even the teens, heading south for a few days of sun and surf sounded like a great idea. Even better, after a few Google searches, I found a timely 10k in Clearwater, Florida that fit perfectly into my plans.


From what I can tell the Say No Drugs 10K/5K races are a pretty big deal in the area. The regular draw for the event is between 2 and 3 thousand runners, and the event appears to have been around for several years now.

Since the cost to register for the events was the same $29 whether I opted for the 10K or the 5K so I said “let’s go big and do the 10k”.

After founding a hotel room just a few miles away, I was all set. I perfect little get away.

So Friday, I drove 10 hours down to Clearwater Beach. I settled in to my hotel room around 10 PM. However, I didn’t sleep much since I was anticipating racing the next morning.

During my shakeout warm up, the setting for 10 hours was playing havoc with me legs. They felt weighed down and lethargic.

Waiting for the start, I was mildly amused with seeing so many runners wearing long sleeve shirts and gloves. Race time temperature was expected to be 72 degrees. I even had thoughts of not wearing my Hoka/CRC jersey but opted for it.

Both the 5K and 10k races started at the same time. I didn’t want to get pulled out by the faster runners when I was going twice the distance so I held back on the gas pedal.

The lethargic feeling in my legs was slowly dissipating but it was being replaced by heat and sweat not to mention a more than healthy dose of lactic acid.

At the mile, my jersey was soaked.  At the first water stop, I took two cups of water. One was for drinking, and the other cup got dumped over my head.

As I was climbing up the bridge, I thought back to what I heard two runners discussing before the race. This was toughest race in Clearwater because it included the only two hills in Clearwater. The first hill was climbing up and over the bridge on the way out to Clearwater Beach, and the reverse coming back. Yes, this hill was long but it was not bad. Go run the Charleston Distance run where there is a 2 ½ mile hill, and it twice as steep as either of these hills.

Anyway, back to my recap, once I was off the bridge, it was pretty much a straight shot for the next mile. Then, we took a right at the round-about and went another mile to the U-turn point.

Sweat was flowing pretty well at this point. At every water stop, I dumped at least one cup over my head. The trouble was – it didn’t seem to be having any effect.

Coming back to the bridge, we were running into the wind which helped a bit if it hadn’t been counter acted by force of the wind pushing me back.

Starting up the bridge, one guy caught me, and then, we caught another guy who was walking up the bridge. Those two started racing together when we hit the descending spiral walk way. The 10k runners were on the left side of the walkway while the 5k runners were on the right. My entire time descending, I was leaning hard to right. Both guys got a gap on me that I couldn’t close over the final half mile.

I finished in 39:53 which placed me 10th overall and 2nd in my age group.

Afterwards, the race supplied all runners with a pancake breakfast. I walked away with a couple of nice medals for my efforts and pretty cool experience of running a spiral walkway.

I might just have to make this an annual thing but stay a bit longer next time. As for the weather, I might not like 72 degrees for racing, but it is quite nice for a training run.

 

Cool Down Runner

 

 

     

 

  

 

Monday, December 26, 2016

Sand Key Park

If you ever happen to find yourself in Clearwater Florida, I highly recommend spending some time running in Sand Key Park. The trails are soft dirt and most of them end up taking you along the Gulf of Mexico for several miles. This is a public park and while if you drive and park for a run it will cost you a few bucks, it is free to runners and walkers venturing down from hotel row a couple of miles away.

In general, Clearwater is pretty decent place for runners. The greenways are built along side the road ways. Yet, they are very much separate and can accomindate both runners and cyclist. I can easily see why exercise enthusiast journey to the St. Pete/Clearwater Beach area. If I ever decide to move, this would be a great destination to hang out. 

Cool Down Runner


Saturday, December 24, 2016

Walkabout

For most people a vacation is about kicking back, lying around, and generally just relaxing. Me, on the other hand, it is about walking and lots of it.

As many of you know, I am a huge Disney fan and being so, I am a frequent visitor of their theme parks.

So being a frequent visitor, I am well acquainted with two facts about Disney that are above and beyond the good time that I am having. No matter what I do, I know there is going to be plenty of walking and plenty of line standing.  This is the Disney way.

Through the years, I have often wondered just how far that I walked during a day at a theme park.  

With my recent update to an iPhone 6 plus, I had just the app to track my steps and mileage.

Here’s a breakdown of my daily walking over 7 days both during my brief stay at the beach and while visiting all 4 of Disney World’s theme parks and Disney Springs.

Note: this doesn’t include any running miles that I did before the sun rose above the horizon in the morning.

On the 17th, the walking was pretty brief – 2.8 miles. This was mostly strolling along the Clearwater beach and shopping.

On the 18th, we hit Downtown Disney for those of us that have been around for a while. For the new Disney fans, Downtown Disney is now called Disney Springs – 4.7 miles.

On the 19th, we hit EPCOT (Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow). This ended up being 9.3 miles. While it is a lot miles, it really isn’t that bad because it is a lot leisurely strolling around the world.

On the 20th, we hit Animal Kingdom for 6.3 miles. Again, Animal Kingdom is a lot like EPCOT lots of strolling with minimal standing.

On the 21st, we hit the Magic Kingdom for 9.4 miles. These are hardest miles of the entire trip. Because I am either walking or standing, and standing a lot, my legs get well beaten down.

On the 22nd, we hit Hollywood Studios for 8.4 miles. Hollywood Studios is probably the smallest of the 4 parks, but we are nearly constantly walking as bounce back and forth across the park from a ride to see a show.

On the 23rd, we finish our trip with a quick visit to Disney Springs for another 3.5 miles.

In full disclosure here, I am likely not your typical Disney Theme park visitor. I walk a lot because I am doing a lot. I am either headed to a ride for which I have a Fast Pass or I am headed to see a show. I build our schedule around bouncing back and forth between one of these two types of activities for the entire day. It keeps us busy but it can also carry us back and forth across the park many times.

Why do I do it this way? Well, I spend a 100+ dollars to get in, so I want to make the most of my visit.

This all started when my daughters were very young, and I wanted to them to experience as much of the Disney Magic as I could get for them

Now, this has become so ingrain in our visits that my daughters are actively participating in the planning of our schedule. They want to see if we can top what we did during our last visit. For example, a few years ago, we scored 11 Fast Passes in one day. We never come close to it again, but we keep going back to see if we can.

 

Life of the Cool Down Runner

 

 

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Backing it down


The Weather Man says that we will be getting some rain later today. Never have I been much of a fan for running in the rain so I grabbed my shoes and a couple layers of running clothes and headed out the door for a 7 mile run.

7 mile runs have become my norm lately.

After spending so much of the year struggling with injuries and still attempting to crank out some miles, cutting back to a mere pedestrian level of mileage felt like the right decision.

And, it has worked.

I feel better. My level general of fatigue is much lower now. I am actually finishing runs stronger and getting the itch to train again.

Cool Down Runner

Monday, December 12, 2016

Just a plain old club member these days


Well, it does feel good to be just a plain old Charlotte Running Club member again. After 5 years of planning and helping make many of our CRC events a reality, I can now look forward to showing up with no responsibilities.
It will definitely feel different that’s for sure.

What made me certain of my decision was the active participation of so many new board members throughout this year.  Now, I get to set back and see what creative ideas that they bring to table. I cannot wait to see what the come up with.  

The Cool Down Runner.

 

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Girls On the Run 5k – Charlotte –NC

Played Parking Marshall or at least that was my title on Saturday morning while volunteering at the Girls on the Run 5k.

For those you reading this and came in to the White Hall business park via Arrrowwood Rd. entrance, yes, that was a bundled up version of me directing traffic. Jen gave me the job of keeping the cars moving into the parking lot. For the most part, I was pretty happy with my efforts. I kept shifting the traffic between the different lots so there were no backups on Arrowwood or worse on 485 as happened for the Let Me Run race.

There were 3 of us acting as parking marshals, and we were at our post starting at 6:30 AM. Up to about 8 AM, my fingers were numb. Only with the shining sun did they even feel like moving. Even those 12 hour hand warmers didn’t work very well.

What did work great was my DeWalt electric warmer jacket. A couple of years ago, my brother bought me a DeWalt Jacket which has warmer electrodes built into it much like an electric blanket. Before yesterday, I had only worn it once, and it left me sweating. Yet, at 22 degrees, it felt super nice. I just wish that the heating elements extended down on to my hands.  

 
Before I wrap up this post, I thought I would share a couple of interesting stories.

Over the years, I have seen more than one police officer standing outside in the cold while wearing nothing more than what looked like their standard uniform. Often, I credited them with be hardy souls. None of us could stand up to the cold like them. Saturday, I learned their trade secret. They often put their Kevlar Vest over the heaters in their cars. Not only will these vest stop bullets but apparently these vests make a pretty decent hot water bottle to wear around on a cold day.

The other story is a bit more interesting.

So during the race, the police officers blocked off the entrance into the business complex. Literally, they barricaded the road off.   Well, I was standing there with a few other officers when this driver decides to avoid the barricade by driving into the park in the outbound lane which is separated the median.

Wait it gets better. So when they get her stopped, she tells them that the officer at the barricade told to drive in this way.  It was hard not to laugh given the fact that the officer at the barricade was calling over the police radios to stop her.  Apparently, there was a disconnect somewhere.

I don’t know if she got a ticket, but she had some nice shiny blue lights flashing behind her.

I’ll bet she doesn’t attempt that maneuver again.

Ended up being a far more interesting morning than ever imagined. I guess volunteering does have its own rewards.

 

The Cool Down Runner

 

Friday, December 9, 2016

Handling 20 degree weather


A friend once told that you can only take off so many clothes in the summer heat but you can always put another layer on in the winter. I guess, we will be testing that his theory over the next couple days. Temperatures in the Charlotte area are dipping in the 20s for the first time since February.

Wow, has it really been nearly 10 months since we had such cold weather. I guess it has.

If you are heading out tomorrow morning for a run, grab the heavy gloves. May be you could throw in some hand warmers. Another tip is to put Vaseline on your face. If the wind is blowing, this keeps the chill at bay.

Above all else, be careful. Frost bite is no joke.

The Cool Down Runner

  

Monday, December 5, 2016

Run Run Rudolph 5k


Picture this…. The finish line is in sight. Your legs are turning over as fast you are can possibly make them. The taste of victory is on the tip of your tongue. You can picture yourself raising the trophy.  You almost have it, but then a babe of a runner snatches it right out of your grasp at the very last second.

Well, technically, babe isn’t a quite accurate description of him. He was 16 years old. But when the guy, namely me, is nearly 52 years old, babe somehow does seem appropriate.

And, no, if you are setting thinking that I was celebrating over the last few yards to the finish. I wasn’t. I see far too many runners fail in this regard for me to even consider doing it.

This past weekend, I headed over to the university area to run the Run Run Rudolph 5k race. After nearly a month of looking at my racing flats setting in the corner, I finally decided it was time to do something about it. Thus, my entry into the Run Run Rudolph 5k.

My race started with me dragging myself up the hill and out of the business park on to Mallard Creek Prosperity Church Road.  By the mile, I moved in to 3rd place. Going back down in to the business park at the next entrance, I got by the 2nd place runner.

The leader looked strong, while I was catching the other runners, he showed no sign of coming back or so it appeared.

At mile 2 mile, second place looked about where I was destined to finish. Then, as if by holiday magic, I reeled him in the next quarter mile.

 We were side by side heading up Governor Hunt hill. Ugh, this hill is clearly in the wrong place in this race. My legs were crying for relief. Perhaps, his were crying as well. I made the U-turn first and well aware the rest of the course was downhill and flat.

I rounded the last turn and threw my last ounce of energy in to my legs. Only to be sweep aside as if by Santa’s sleigh passing me at full speed.

I may have lost the race but the thrill of racing was worth it.

Don’t misunderstand me here. Winning a race is always nice, but racing or better yet, the experience of challenging one’s self against another is the gratifying part for me. I’ll take being pushed or pulled along during race anytime. It brings out my best.

After the race, I jogged in place for a couple minutes until Chad came through. Then, I paced him through the 2nd loop of the 10k course. He went on to negative split the 2nd 5k and finish 3rd overall. Congrats on a fantastic effort.

 


 

 

Sunday, December 4, 2016

The tougher the task


44 degrees, rain falling, and the wind bellowing, yes, this doesn’t sound like a great day to run but it is.

The stiffer the challenge, the tougher the task, the greater the struggle, the more satisfying the sense of accomplishment is when we reach the far side. This intern spurs us on to even greater endeavors which make both ourselves and the world around us a better place.

Yes, you could accept the world as it is or you can step up.

Which will you do today?

The Cool Down Runner

Friday, December 2, 2016

Perfect Weather for Marshall Marathon


Race morning dawn over Huntington WV as the fog slowly rolled across the city from the Ohio River. Most runners only dream about weather conditions like this on race morning: 39 degrees and no wind.

I was excited about racing but worried about my lack training. For the record, my training consisted of the bare minimalist of long runs and no speed work or tempo of any kind. In the back of my mind, I knew I’d pay for this in the latter stages of the race. However, what could I do about it? The tendentious in my hip which flared up in late July and lingered for months kept me from running anything other than an easy runs. 

For my race day apparel, I opted for my Hoka\CRC singlet, no gloves, and sunglasses, and of course my 2XU compress shorts. Carrying me over this course would be my trusted Hoka Claytons.

I raced in WV for a number of years, and I cannot remember a race starting with a cannon blast. Yet, both Charleston Distance Run and the Marshall Marathon do so. A couple of us were chatting at the starting line. The announcer had indicated less than 5 minutes until the race starts. We were all talking then, the cannon fires. People kind of looked around and then realize that we should start running. Thinking back, we all probably looked a little bewildered at hearing the cannon fire.

Runners took off up 3rd avenue. We hit the “brick” street. Not my favorite section because the bricks are all very uneven. Runners will really have to concentrate on picking up their feet or they could easily trip. Nearing 2 miles, my fingers were tingling from the cold and my body’s sudden shift of blood from the hands and arms to my legs.

Back by Marshall Stadium and by the University we went. We made a slight right and went through the park so we could grab a quick glimpse of the foggy Ohio River. Then we were back out on the road and headed for the far end of the course.

The miles were clicking off and faster than I expected. However, once you have your book of matches on fire, there isn’t much one can do about slowing the fire.

From one end of the course to the other is roughly 6 miles. On the far end, the fog was rather thick. So thick in fact, that my sunglasses were covered with moisture. I had to push them on top of my head.

We picked up the trail section of Ritter Park. Running through here, is my favorite aside from the finish on the football field.

After 3 ½ miles, we were back out on the road and headed back to the University.

The ½ and full separated on the upper end of the University Campus with the ½ marathoners staying on the road while the full marathoner cut through the campus.

This time, I understood the significance of the rose and took one to toss in the fountain.

After the campus section, we repeated the opening 2 mile section except in the reverse direction. My half marathon split was 1:26 and some change. Although, instead of feeling strong, my body was sending up signals that it was headed the other way.

My goal, quite lofty in fact, going in to this race was to run between 2:55 and 3 hours.

With every mile, this seemed to be slipping away.

Strangely, the weather kept flip flopping. On ends of the course, the sky was foggy, overcast, and colder. While in the middle around the University it was clear and sunny.  I felt bad for the people wrapped in the blankets that waved and shouted encouragement as I ran by.

At 20 miles, my split was roughly 2 hours and 14 minutes. I was like a car with one of those little donut tires. I was still moving but at less than highway speed.

Between 20 and 25, I could literally feel the hemorrhaging of time. When a race isn’t going your way, the last thing that you want to do is look at your watch.

Passing the 25 point, my brain forced my arm up and eyes down to see the damage: 2 hours 50 minutes and 30 seconds.

With 1.2 miles to run, I “willed” myself to run faster. Every part of my body from the head down resisted the urge. But I had 9 minutes and only 1.2 miles to cover. I could do it. I would do it.

Back through the University Campus one last time we went. My legs were screaming for me to slow down. Changing direction, any direction other than directly ahead hurt.

I could see the 26 mile flag, and I heard my Garmin beep. I was well short of it. Either the flag is in the wrong place or my Garmin was confused about where the 26 mile point was. Mile 26 was 6:59, and yes, it hurt.

Right we went into the Thundering Herd Stadium, and on to the field we ran.

One of the guys tossed me a football to carry. Even thou finishing was the only thought ringing through my head; I took it. I ran the last 160 yards like a defensive tackle having recovered a fumble.

My time was 2:58:40 placing me 15th overall and 3rd in my age group which was far better than deserve considering my training.    

 The Marshall University Marathon Race committee deserves some serious credit for a job well down. Numerous water stops, volunteers, decent medals, unique awards, and yeah, they give some awesome swag. Just for entering the race at $70 when I registered, I got a nice heavy Asics Jacket MUM Branded, a long sleeve race shirt MUMs Branded, and nice large duffle bag MUMs Branded. I have run numerous races through the years. When it comes to swag verse the cost of the race, MUM does their runners right.

I’d also like to thank the people of Huntington for coming out to support this race. They were loud and supportive. You don’t know how much this means when you are tired and ready to be done. A kind word on the right moment makes all of the difference.

All are part of the reasons why I returned for the second consecutive year.  

 

 

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Let Me Run 5k Event


Last Saturday morning, I got a chance to do a little volunteering. The guys at Let Me Run held their fall event, and our Charlotte Running Club was providing volunteers.

With music blaring and the electrify excitement in the air, nearly 1600 middle school boys got their chance to show off all of their hard work from the last couple of months.

Let Me Run has grown from a grass roots organization into something very special.  It is all due to the people like Paul M who take on those leadership roles and make things happen.  Based on Saturday’s results, I’d say our next generation of runners is in great hands.

Good work “Let Me Run”.

 

The Cool Down Runner

 

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Charlotte Marathon – Race Day

 Saturday morning, I met up with our pacers that could not make the expo on Friday. What an amazing sight? All of those bright smiling faces, wearing those hot pink pacer shirts ready to help others meet their race goals. Having paced that last 2 years, I now know how they feel. In fact, I learned that several of our pacers have paced every Thunder Road/Charlotte Marathon. That’s 12 marathons. Quite an achievement if I do say so myself.

In fact, all of our pacers deserve a huge pat on the back. May be it has something to do with the passing of time and the gaining of wisdom, but I find giving back to be just as rewarding as running and meeting my own goals. In some ways, I found it more rewarding.

Yeah, when I run well, I feel good about it. However, when I help someone else achieve their goal or get their BQ time, the feeling seems to resonate so much better.  Until you experience it yourself, it is difficult to explain. If you have never offered to pace, let the guys at run.charlotte@gmail.com know. Next fall, they will be looking for Charlotte Marathon pacers again. Actually, there is a possibility our club will be helping organize pacers for the Corporate Cup ½ Marathon in Half Marathon in the spring of ’17. This gives our members even more opportunities to get involved with Charlotte Running Club events. Awesome! Dont you think so.

 

Living the Dream,

The Cool Down Runner

 

 

Charlotte Marathon – Expo Day


 

One of my favorite volunteer efforts to do for the Charlotte Running Club is to work the Charlotte Marathon Expo. Every runner that wonders by our booth wants to talk running. I mean – what could be better?

Friday started with me rolling in to Hall C of the convention center around 8:30 AM. After a few minutes of searching, I found our booth and quickly went to work setting things up.

Ryan came by around 9 AM and helped me finish things up. Then, all there was to do was hangout, pass out our pacer shirts, and talk running for the next 12 hours. John hung out with me so did Jason. Gurmit came over to drop off our pace bands.

By the way, the pace bands were a great idea and a huge hit, guys. Runners loved them.

After 6, I was solo but hey, maybe that’s the best part because I didn’t have to share the attention with anyone. LOL.

As the clock began to approach 9 PM, I took my raspy voice and loaded up our stuff to head home. Race morning came early for me. I had to be back at the BB&T Stadium to meet up with our pacers by 6:30 AM.
Big thanks to DC and Tim for allowing our Charlotte Running Club to have part in making our town's Charlotte Marathon a huge success. You guys rock.

 

Living the Dream

 

The Cool Down Runner

 

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Big South 5k Recap 8-22-16

Strapped on my racing flats and pulled on my Hoka/Charlotte Running Club jersey Saturday morning for the Big South 5k.

I wish I could set here and say that this was a great race for me, but it wasn’t. My legs felt sluggish, tired, and yes, I will say it “old”.

My Garmin flashed up a 6:09 for the first mile. Any other year, I would have felt like there wasn’t enough oxygen in the world. My legs were turning over but I knew that they were not turning over very fast. My breathing was barely labored.

Further up the hill we went.

Finally, we topped over for the last 1.5 miles to the end.

Making the turn on Rea Rd, my split was 5:59. I could feel the tendentious in my hip calling out to me, and it wasn’t in a good way. As best as I could I ignored my brain’s desire to slow down. Before I knew it, I was turning into the Target Parking lot. One, two, three, four turns, I am headed for the finish. A couple of young runners probably born in this century went by me sprinting all the way to the finish. I wanted to sprint, but I knew better.  In the grand scheme of things, a couple seconds in a race make no difference. Oh, yeah, my last mile was in 5:49.

Since July, I have done little more than log lots easy miles and cross train. May be in a couple more months, I can shake off this tendentious and work my way back to racing well again.

Time is both an ally and an enemy to me.

 

The Cool Down Runner   

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Weather Update


Wow, over the last couple weeks I went from running with no shirt, to running with a shirt, to now running with 2 shirts this morning.

Once Matthew blew through our morning temperatures dropped another 10 degrees. Not that I am complaining.

Returning from a run not soaked with sweat feels nice. Charlotte could keep this weather year around, and I would never complain about it.

So enjoy it while it last. Soon, we will be looking for even more shirts, hats, gloves, etc to wear on our runs. Winter weather will be here soon enough.

The Cool Down Runner

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Volition 1/2 Marathon Recap


Some races just cannot catch a break. Really, what are the chances of a hurricane roaring through the Carolinas on the same weekend as this race for two consecutive years?  Such is the life for the Volition Run ½ and 5k.

Runners were greeted with a steady rain and gusty winds throughout the race morning. If there was one perk, the runners got a tail wind on the mostly downhill out portion of the course. However, they paid dearly for it on the way back. The rain picked up and gusting wind slammed into them like a wall.

A couple of my Hoka/Charlotte Running Club team mates: Caleb and John came up to try their luck. John and I ran together through about 6 miles. He was feeling pretty good considering he just came off the Erie Marathon a couple of weeks ago.  He picked up the pace, and I didn’t want any part of it. This was the first time that I have raced since the Charleston Distance Run on Labor Day week.

I have been attempting to nurse this hamstring back to a healthy status while attempting get ready for the Marshal Marathon in November. As you might expect, my efforts have been less than successful either in the healing process or preparing for the marathon.

This showed today.

I went out easy and then faded toward the end. My last 3 miles were 7:10, 7:08, and 6:59. Finished 7th overall with a time 1:29:13. Good for 2nd in my age group.

I do want to give a shout out to Lisa W. for her second overall finish. She had been sick this week but showed her mental toughness this morning.

And a big kudos go to Whitney and Dennis. Given all the hoops and huddles that they have overcome to make this race happen, they deserve a huge pat on the back for their efforts.

Next up for me is the Big South 5k in a couple of weeks.

See you at the races,

The Cool Down Runner

 

 

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Charleston Distance Run - Race Recap


Returning to the Charleston Distance Run on Labor Day weekend has become a bit of home coming trip for me. 30 years have passed since I first laced up my running shoes and hit the streets of Charleston for their 15 mile run. Back then, life was far simpler.

I guess this is why I was leaning against the fence and soaking up the view of Laidley Field in the predawn hours. From the glow of the stadium lights across track and the finish line to the illumination of the gold colored dome on the Capital Building the feeling of nostalgia were welling up inside of me.

Life seems to move pretty fast. You need to slow down and enjoy it once in a while or it will pass you by.

In grand CDR tradition, the race starts with the firing of a cannon on the Capital Building steps. For the first 5 miles, my focus goes to settling into a nice pace. We ran along Kanawha Street, turned the corner near the Civic Center, then turn left again on Virgina Street, and the run on to the bridge which crosses the Kanawha River. This is an arched shaped bridge and presents each runner with their first real hill test for the miles ahead.

Rounding the corner, we run passed the sign explaining where the start of “Capital Punishment Hill begins”. This is the type of hill that gives most runners a nightmare. Arching your head back, fog hides the top from view. Heck, even thou there is another sign which says “Capital Punishment Hill ends”,  the hill doesn’t end. Runners make a left hand turn and then continue their climbing. Here the fog is really thick. Runners 25 yards in front of me are lost from sight.

My training for the last month has been nothing short of abysmal. But I push those thoughts away. On race day, you have what you have. You cannot improve it, and you cannot change it.

The hills seem a little steeper this year. Quite possibly, the addition of another year to my life might be the reason why.

People are encouraging, and I find that while I am not running as well as I have previously, I am enjoying myself a bit more.

Cruising down hill and back over the Kanawha River I am at 8 miles in to the race and have 7 pretty much flat miles to go.

As I am running down Virginia Street to the Capital Building, the shade seems different this year. While the sun is shining brightly, there is more shade on the course than last year. I cannot explain it, but this is how it seemed to me.

In to the Capital Building parking lot and around the back to exit, I crossed 10 miles in 67:34. Considering, I was 34 minutes and change at 5 miles, this makes me feel pretty good.

I have 5 miles left – 3 of which are along the river. This is one of my favorite sections to run in all of Charleston.

We make a right as we near the Civic Center which marks roughly the 13 mile point. At this point the bueaty of Charleston changes. Miles 14 and most of 15 mark my least favorite of the course. Mostly, I see lots of the backs of buildings, the underside of freeways, and oh, yeah, there is a correctional facility. I don’t ever remember seeing it before Saturday. Mayb it is new.

My legs wanted to tighten up badly. Even with my conscious effort to keep them relaxed. The long corridor of buildings which make-up the road to the entrance to Laidley Field seems like it takes forever. Suddenly, I bounced out on to the track. Even thou, the rubber on the track has aged; it still gives a slight bounce to my legs. The announcer calls my name, age, and city over the PA system.  He goes on to tell everyone that I am the oldest finisher so far. Not sure how I am should feel about it.

Coming to the finish, I feel better than I have in several years. With a time of 1:41:05 and place of 11th overall, I placed me 1st in the 50-54 age group.

Only minutes later, the track was now alive with excitement as runners streamed in to the finish. I stopped, listened, watched, and soaked up the atmosphere.   

Yep, this had turned out to be a pretty good day after all.
Life is about making the memories so make the most of them. 
 

The Cool Down Runner

 

 

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Injury Reserve


Saturday morning, my first 20 miler in a while went pretty well. Sunday morning, I headed out for 10 miles and from the first few steps there was a dull pain on the medial side of my knee.  At the time, I thought it was nothing more than some residual effects from working around my house on Saturday afternoon. Monday morning, the same dull ache continued, and I noticed some swelling and the area was painful to the touch as well. Tuesday morning, I had a mid week 14 miler planned. I made it to 12 miles before calling a halt to the run.

The pain was effecting my stride and nothing good ever came from this situation so I walked home.

I guess this puts me on the injury reserve list for a while. How long I am not sure.
I'll hobble a few miles each day. The streak must continue but otherwise, I'll let it heal.
 
The Cool Down Runner

Monday, August 1, 2016

A 20 miler on a cloudy Saturday morning

After postponing this run for several weekends, last Saturday morning I finally muscled together the necessary mental drive and forced myself to run 20 miles in this summer time heat.

There was even a token effort on my part to get out the door at an early hour. However, with the temperature already hovering near 80 degrees and the air thick with humidity, 6 AM seemed to be more late than early.

At least part of my run went off before the sun truly crested over the tree line.

For most part this was a rather quiet run. George A did jump in while I was passing through Huntersville. Rolling along Main Street, I noticed this guy pull in to a driveway ahead of me, and the run across the road. As I was passing him, he jumped in to run along with me. His face looked familiar but I couldn’t place the name. George lives in the Huntersville area and was heading for a run on the Davidson College XC course. We chatted for a few minutes and then he ran back to his car. His visit was an unexpected but a much appreciated distraction from what was otherwise a hot and tiring run.

The return trip home was less eventful. For the most part the sun stayed behind the clouds until I hit the 17 mile mark. Allowing me to feel better than I would have felt otherwise.

Hard to believe but I am roughly 12 weeks out from the Marshall Marathon in Nov. Where has the year gone.

The Cool Down Runner

 

 

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

CRC's Summer Track Night


Our local Charlotte weather men were calling for a temperature of over 100 degrees yesterday, and we were prepared with ice, coolers, plenty of fluids, chairs, and tents as we headed into our club’s track night. However, it was Mother Nature who kept us off balance. Several storm fronts rolled through. There was never much in the way of rain but plenty of lightning and thunder in the distance.

For the safety of the runners and guest, we cleared the track, and asked all of the runners to head back to their cars. We would signal when the all clear sign came.

This came roughly an hour later, and we kicked our events into high gear.

Aaron stepped up to organize a lot of the pre-event stuff as our meet director. Then, last night, he led our charge to get our runners through as many events as possible.  

The most disappointing part happened when a second storm front rolled through around 8:10 PM. This forced us to cancel our 4 x 400 and 5k events.

Wrapping up, I want to send a big shout out to Steve, Rich, Mike, Stacy, Gurmit, Paul, Adrian, Bobby, and Bev. My apologies, if I missed anyone.

You guys filled in wherever needed, and helped make this evening a great success for our club.

Over time, our club is slowing getting a reputation for putting on great events. Much like a lump of coal turning into a diamond, it takes time and the right amount of pressure. Come next summer, I truly believe CRC is at the right point and time to lead our local summer track series.

 

The Cool Down Runner

 

 

Monday, July 25, 2016

Lazy Summer Days


I certainly hope everyone is enjoying these magnificent summer time days. I know I am. Ok, maybe not so much while running but if I am just out walking, I love it. There is something about the feel of a heat and not just any heat like the dry oven heat but rather the moist heat of summer that causes a bubble of sweat to trickle down the side of my face while I am setting in my lawn chair.

All I have to think about is setting back, stretching my legs, and sipping something cool while the puffy clouds pass slowly overhead and the day lazily drifts away.
 
The Cool Down Runner

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Gastonia Grizzlies 5k


This weekend I was to have raced in Winston Salem at the Beat the Heat 5k, but life has a way of redirecting us sometime. Instead I found myself standing at the starting line for the Gastonia Grizzles 5k.

My car registered a temperature of 100 degrees, and with a 6 PM start time, it was not going to dip much below that during the race.

We started down the 3rd base line, and we ran across home plate on our way out of Sims Park. Not necessarily the best of starting locations. The edges of the mats were sticking up making everyone watch their step or risk tripping. Then, there was the 4 ft wide gate through which we were to exit. Ok, one, two, maybe 3 runners could pass through at the same time, but it soon backlogged up with runners.

Once outside the park, we ran up a gravel road to a side street. From there, we ran down to the local greenway. On the greenway, it was a two out and backs sections.

There was a bunch of people in front of me as we entered the greenway, and it was hot. My legs felt like they had already run 20 miles. But it wasn’t just having an effect on me but on everyone else too. They were slowing down. I passed this young kid who was leading about half way up the long incline to the 2nd turn around. However, once I was by him, he stuck to me like glue. I couldn’t shake him coming back. Then, at the steep hill just before we entered Sims Park, he made a great move which I couldn’t cover. He got out about 15 seconds on me. Between the gravel road and the grass around the outfield, I couldn’t muster anything to catch him.

This may well have been the hottest race conditions for a 5k that I have ever raced.

A couple of hours later, I was setting down to eat, and I just looked at my food.  I wasn’t even hungry, but I was tired. All I wanted to do was sleep.

After a certain point, the heat seems to zip all of my energy.   Leaving me with the feeling, I am going through the motions.
Before ending, I do want to give a shout out to all of my Gaston County Running Buddies. They turned out in force for this race, and it was good to catch up with them.
 
The Cool Down Runner

 

 

 

 

 

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Pace vs. Distance - Summer Runs

How does the heat affect your summertime runs? This was a great question that was recently posed to me during one of our Tour De Charlotte events. The question its self isn’t new to us weathered runners but to the new breed of runners coming into our sport, they haven’t caught on to the effects that the heat has on their bodies.

My particular take on the issue goes a little something like this.  

Based on my experience with higher temperatures three things happen. First, my heart jumps up to handle the extra stress of the heat. More blood will flow near the skin to help cool my body which means less going to muscles to reoxygenate them. Less oxygen means means my muscles will tirer quicker. Third, I will begin to sweat which is my body's way of attempting to cool off but depending on the weather, this can mean water running off me rather than evaporating.

What does all this mean? Well, we have to have to accept that either our distance needs to be shortened or our pace needs to slow. The only way to maintain both is to do the obvious – get in better shape.  However, this easier said than done during the summer.

So which is better running less distance but at the same pace or running slower but the same distance? Sometimes, I like to answer a question with a question. What are your goals? What races are on your upcoming schedule?

If you are running nothing but 5k and 10ks, then running a shorter distance but at the same pace or a little better is most likely the way to go. However, if say you are looking for a Labor Day Boston Qualifier, you are going to be pounding out the miles, the choice of running slower but going the distance makes the most sense.

I’ll throw out other request to you. Make sure you are seeing your family doctor regularly. Running in general puts a great deal of stress on your body and your heart. The summer time heat surely elevates this stress. As the commercial says, you should always think “Safety, safety, safety” first.

 

The Cool Down Runner

 

Monday, July 18, 2016

Soaked Runnning Shoes


What’s the worst part of summer time running? Is it the heat? Maybe, there are days where I feel like it would be cooler to stick my head in an oven. Is it the humidity? Possibly, there is nothing like being 5 minutes into a run, and you look like you have been running 2 hours.

For me, the wet shoes and socks are the worst part. Somehow, the constant squeaking of my soaked shoes and socks remind me of just how hot and tired that I am really am.  Just how much I really wished that I was finished. Water is literally dripping off both them, and it takes days for them to completely dry out.

On the brightside, fall will be here soon enough.

The Cool Down Runner

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Doldrums of MidSummer


Lately, I have been dragging myself through the morning heat and humidity for run and usually over the same course.

For reasons that I cannot explain, my brain will switch into auto pilot mode during these runs. The rest of my miles pass pretty much without any mental involvement on my part. Sounds funny doesn’t it. It also sounds a little dangerous as well.

So today, I switched up my course a bit. It was good thing too. There was more shade along this new course, and my body seemed to respond better during my run.

 Maybe this all has something to do with the doldrums of midsummer, but like I have always said. Change is a good thing. Change makes you better. Change makes you stronger. Embrace change as a way to reach the next rung on your ladder of success.

The Cool Down Runner

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Recovery Time


Eight weeks of speedwork is just about the max for me. After starting my first speed session at the beginning of May, the last week of June was a good week to put a done stamp on it.

While I only raced twice during this stretch, my legs felt trashed. To the point where my quads were extremely sore. Yet, I still don’t have a reason for why they are so sore, but they are. But, this isn’t my normal soreness. Rather, it is very similar to how my quads feel right after a marathon. Where walking down steps can take a bit more effort.

So the best remedy for me is to go out and log some easy miles. Give my body a chance to bounce back to normal and feel good heading into the fall where cooler weather and good racing are usually found.
 
See you on the roads, 

The Cool Down Runner

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Just a bit jealous

Steve was back from his recent trip to the Olympic Trials last week in Washington. So this morning, we synced up for a run together, and boy did I get the full scoop.

To say the least, I was a bit jealous of his trip.

Between the pictures that he shared and the stories he told, I don’t know how any runner wouldn’t be.  In fact, this morning, I barely said a word for the entire 7 miles.  Steve and Aaron literally geeked-out for the entire run.

It didn’t bother me one bit. I was glued to their conversation.
 
And, it is always a pleasure to run with Steve and Aaron.

BTW - Maybe I will think about making the trip west in 4 years.

 

The Cool Down Runner

Monday, July 11, 2016

Concord Street Light 5K Recap


Concord Park and Rec. Dept organized their Street Light 5k for last Friday night in downtown Concord. Similar to previous years, the temperature hovered near 100 degrees around the starting time, and the humidity created a lather of sweat on my skin that just would not go away.

Again, similar to last year, the start of race unfolded much the same way. Lots of people made use of the downhill first mile for a fast start. Even with the coolness of the greenway, their legs must have grown heavy from the heat and humidity and by the first mile, I grabbed the lead.

Back along the greenway and through the park, my legs too were feeling the heat and humidity. The first couple of miles on this course are pretty nice but the 3rd mile is a bit of a bear as it climbs back up into downtown Concord. It is gradual at first, but it then gets steeper. This is followed by a set of switch backs. And, when you think you are over the top, you turn on to the street only to realize there is yet more climbing to do.

Once I reached the top of the hill, my legs were done. There wasn’t even a sprint to the finish. My time was 18:31. Considering the course, the temperature, and the humidity, this race went about as expected. Although the win was an unexpected surprise.

The shirt was nice. The duffle bag was even nicer, and the awards were better than last year.

I ducked out right after the awards and right before the rain hit to head home. At least I thought I was. After making good time through the pouring rain to the interstate, I was just passing by Concord where the road widening is taking place.

Here’s where everything came to a halt. Traffic was at a standstill. After 20 minutes, I just turned my car off and took a nap. About an hour and half later, I heard the cars around me start up. Within a few minutes, we were moving again.

A tree had fallen into the road which caused all of I-85 to come to a halt.

The sad part of all this, when I was pulling out of the parking lot after the race, I decided to head for I-85 because I thought it would have been faster than 29 on my way home.

Food for thought, every decision no matter how big or small has consequences. Choose wisely.

 

The Cool Down Runner

  

 

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

One run but 2 experiences


Ok, I got a little lazy after celebrating the 4th of July, and I didn’t head out for my run until Tuesday evening.

One thing is certain these days. Afternoon runs could well feel like I am running on the sun. Leaving the cozy comfort of my house where it is a mild 70 degrees. Stepping to the curb, mind you, I have not started running yet, the perspiration is already bubbling to the surface. With each step, my feet feel like they each weigh 10,000 pounds.

Of course, I am coated with sun block, a hat, and sunglasses. Not sure how, but they seem to magnify the sun’s energy rather than repel it.  Ok, maybe the sunglasses were working but the rest definitely do not.

 Then, as if out of the Wizard of Oz, the weather shifts a 180 degree halfway through my run. The non-existent wind becomes the stand you straight up kind. Next, flashes of light and the rumbling of thunder in the distance lead me to believe I am going to get wet and soon.

Turning into the next neighborhood, I was met by a wall of water. Holding my hands over my eyes in a vain attempt to shield them from the rain, only one at a time was working, and then it only works for a few seconds after a wipe away the rain.

Of course, the 130 degree road temperature quickly turns much of the falling rain into a steamy bath engulfing my legs.

Maybe I caught a break at this point. My shoes were soaked with sweat so neither the rain nor the steam bath had much effect on them.

As quickly as the rain came, it was gone. Rolling up to my drive way there was but barely a few drops falling.

The humidity was still gosh darn awful, but at least the rain gave me something else to think about and alleviated the oppressive heat for this day.

The Cool Down Runner

 

 

 

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Time to put the speedwork on the self for a few weeks.


Tuesday morning, Sarah and I hit the PDS track for 5 x 800s with a 400 recovery between each one.  Today, I followed it up with 12 x 60 second hill repeats.

Even thou, I am not racing this weekend; I decided it was time to put a done stamp on my speedwork for a while The time has come to give myself a few weeks off and shakeout a bunch of easy runs before putting pen to paper and organizing my plan for the rest of the year.

Why idle back the speedwork?

Far too often, I keep pushing and pushing because my workouts seem to be going well. More often than not, I push to far and end up stringing together either a bunch of subpar workouts or races. There is no real reason for it.

Scaling back allows both my mind and body to rebound for the next round.

Tomorrow when the sun comes up, I will be out cruising along for a nice easy run.
How about you?

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

English Ladder


Last week, Meg and I ran the Metric Ladder of 3000, 1500, 800, 400 etc. This week, I joined Paul, Laurie, and Billy for the English version of the same ladder 3200, 1600, 800, and 400.

Just having someone else to chase made my workout faster. Even thou, I was about a straightway behind at the finish of the 3200, I still ran 11:31.

After what seemed like a fast 600 recovery, we headed off on the 1600. Again, I ran it faster than last week with a 5:40. Down the ladder to 800, I ran 2:45 or 5:30 pace. Billy and Paul went out way too hard for me in the 400. They were 70 to 71. I felt pretty good finishing in 80 or 5:20 pace.

All in all, it was another good workout and another Max VO building. I cannot have enough of those workouts.

Huge thanks to Paul, Laurie, and Billy for giving me motivation.

 

The Cool Down Runner