Thursday, January 28, 2016

5 x 1mile workout

Ugh, a few months have passed since I last ran a 5 by a mile workout. Ok, maybe more than a few months. Ok, it has probably been over a year.

The important point here is my need to get my “but” back in gear again. The lack of regular speed work was reather apparent. The first couple miles felt like I was running in sand. Then, slowly over the next 3 repeats I began to grind down the splits to something that looked more respectable.

With 7 more weeks until my next marathon, the grinding needs to pick up the pace if I am going to be ready.


The Cool Down Runner

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Good but not great

Between the 19th of December and the 16th of January so roughly in a 4 week period, I put together 3 decent but not great events for myself.
The first was a trail marathon which was close to 28 miles near Hoffman, NC. I ran this one in 3 hours and 34 minutes. Two weeks later, I was in Winston Salem for the 25k of the Frosty 50k where I ran 1:41. Ending up my trail running winter break was the Charlotte Running Company 13 mile trail race at the White Water Center on the 16th.
None of the races were really spectacular for me. But then, I wasn’t really looking for spectacular. More so, I was looking for some solid building blocks to lead me in to the rest of ’16.
In full disclosure, I trained through every one of these races so we have to see what happens once I get a little more taper time.
Now that I have crested the big 5-0, taper means more than it used to. There was a time when I needed a week to bounce back. Now, it seems like it is a month.
But I am getting off topic.
Going trail running during these winter months is actually a blessing for me. Getting off the roads stresses different muscle groups. In general just doing something different to break up the monotony of pounding the roads regularly is a good thing.
I highly recommend it.
The Cool Down Runner   

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Garmin 620, the ongoing saga.

So over the last several weeks, I shared some of my struggles with my new Garmin 620. Today, I thought that I would share another one.

Out the box, the 620 already has the auto lap feature enabled.  So, on my very first run, it very nicely recorded every mile split that I ran.

Recently, I did a hard reset on it due to the battery showing 100% charged when plugged into the wall. Yet, it wasn’t 100% charged. It was even 50% charged. In fact, there wasn’t even enough battery life to keep my Garmin on longer than 30 seconds out of the cradle.  

As you can tell, there is a bit of bitterness when I think about this one.

Anyway, so back to the auto lap saga, after the hard reset, I go for run. I pass by the mile point. Nothing happens. Meaning, it doesn’t pop up an alert showing my mile split.

Going through the watch settings, I see that the auto lap is one. I check a bunch of different things. Over the course of several runs, I still haven’t figured it out.

Finally, I am wondering down the through the various sub levels of the settings on my Garmin, and I stumbled across the auto lap distance. Interesting, I hadn’t looked here so I selected it.

What I saw next left me scratching my head.  

 The default mile split was 99.9 miles. Now, for every other Garmin that I have owned I seem to remember them all defaulting to 1 mile.

Why one would default the auto lap mile to 99.9 mile is beyond me. How many runners will ever hit 99.9 miles in one run? It is a pretty small group.

By the way, I have come to think of my Garmin 620 as a box of cracker-jacks. Every day there is some new surprise for me.


The Cool Down Runner




Sunday, January 24, 2016

Charlotte Running Company Trail Run

Being behind isn’t a bad thing. It just means that catching is my first order of business. For me, this means posting piece on my Charlotte Running Company Trail Run race.

For several years now, nothing but good comments has come out about this race. So much so in fact I signed up for it several weeks ago.

Taking it a step further I signed up not for the 4 or 9 miler, I signed up for the longest and toughest of the 3 races that they offered. I signed up for the 13 miler.

Considering that the previous Thursday and Friday rain covered the Charlotte area the course was expected to be nothing less than a sloppy mess. Not that I was disappointed. Getting muddy makes me feel like a kid again.

After a lap and half around the channel, we headed off into the woods.  A rude awakening it was. Immediately my feet were going in all sorts of directions. Staying up right was going to be more of a challenge that first thought with not pulling a groin or a hamstring rating a close second. However Chaz didn’t seem to have any difficulties with the course. On the first step downhill he yelled coming through and blew right by me and another guy. There was no way of matching his daringness on this day.

From there, we all started to settle and feel out the conditions. I passed a few guys and was passed by just as many.

After the south loop, we head through the power lines section. Mike was out there taking pictures. He snapped a few with of me. None were worth posting here. I looked horrible.
The lack of positive traction was also taking its toll on my legs. 95% of my energy was seemingly being spent to keep my feet underneath me.

I passed Theoden just before we hit the lake loop. Now, the lake loop is one of my favorite places to run at the White Water Center. Could I make some headway here today? The short answer is no.

The lake loop keep me spinning my wheels.

Coming out the lake loop, the 9 milers were turning for the finish. In fact, joining them sounded pretty good right about then.  I wish I could have, but no, Paul was directly us out for the last 4 miles on what was probably the toughest 4 miles of the entire course. This section is nothing but roots, rocks, and stream crossing. About the only thing it does well is put me in oxygen debt which it did rather quickly.

Scott passed by me, and Jim (new guy from Ohio) pulled in behind me. I offered to let him pass but he was more in to chatting than racing so we hiked/run the last 4 miles together.

Coming back up the hill near the end of the last 4 miles, Paul was directing us to the finish. My legs were absolutely shot. I had nothing left. I crossed the finish line and was very happy to be walking.

Those 13 miles kicked my “but” and did it in a big time way.

Would I do it again, heck yeah. I’d sign up again in a heartbeat.

How did I do? Well, I finished 7 overall in 1:19:14, and I won my age group. All things given, this day turned out pretty well.


The Cool Down Runner







Saturday, January 23, 2016

Garmin 620 not charging off a wall plug

So this week, my Garmin 620 battery’s life dropped to nearly zero. As every runner does, I attached it to its cradle and plugged in the wall plug. It immediately displays that it was 100%. That’s strange. 10 minutes ago, it displayed a battery life of nearly 0%.

Ok, it’s new. May be that’s the way it works.

Two hours later, I checked it again. It still says 100%. Ok, maybe it charges really quickly? Only recently did I switch to this Garmin, and I didn’t pay much attention when I recharged it the last time.

So I took it off the cradle. Within the 30 seconds, it died. I put it back on the cradle. Yep, it says that it is fully charged.

So what gives?

A few Google searches later; I learned the following.

There is a bug in the firmware of the 620. Sometimes it will display 100% charged when plugged into the wall – even when it doesn’t have a charge. In fact, it will not charge at all from a wall plug. To charge it, I had to attach it to my computer. Then, it showed a 10% charge and started charging.  Two hours later, the display showed 100% charge. (Crossing fingers this is correct).

To correct, this charging issue, Garmin recommends two things: 1) do a hard reset by holding the power by 20 seconds or until it powers off. 2) turn it back on and charge it to 100%. They are also recommended updating the firmware.

To learn about the hard reset, click here.

 This seems to have cleared up my issue.

Oh, and by the way, I also learned that if you leave your Garmin attached to your computer when you turn it off, the power will flow back in to the computer’s battery and drain your Garmin to zero. Whoever thought up this design was an absolute genius. Not!


The Cool Down Runner



Sunday, January 10, 2016

Heading Uptown

One of the great things about a long run is there doesn’t need to be a known course. Strap on a Garmin, head out the door, and let the road be your guide.

I like nothing better than to push beyond the boundaries of my normal run courses.

Nothing exemplified this better than my long run yesterday.

To get a sense of my route, here are the turns on it:

·         Out my door and by Northlake Mall

·         Left on Harris Blvd to Mt. Holly/Huntersville Rd.

·         Left on Mt. Holly/Huntersville Rd to Beatties Ford Rd

·         Left on Beatties Ford to Trade

·         Left on Trade into the Uptown.

·         Left at Tryon

·         Followed a side street back to Graham

·         Right on Graham – under Brookeshire

·         Left on Statesville to Harris Blvd

·         Left on Harris Blvd back to my house.

 According to my 620, this was a 23 mile run which I covered in just over 2 hours and 55 minutes – solo effort.

There were a few places where I had to stop for the traffic lights but overall, it wasn’t bad at all.

When a long run is on your schedule, take the opportunity to go exploring. You might find that the run goes better that you expected.

The Cool Down Runner





Saturday, January 9, 2016

Garmin 620 Issues

Over the last couple of weeks my transition to the Garmin 620 hasn’t been exactly a smooth. Today for example, a rock slides down inside my shoe. While stopping to remove it, I also stopped my 620. When a 620 workout is stopped, it automatically displays a “save” screen. Giving the runner the ability to either save or delete the workout.  Pressing the start button continues the most current workout.
Well, as I moved my hand across the face of watch to restart it, I accidently brushed the touch screen which caused it to the save the most current workout to memory and reset it. Not really what I wanted.
Ugh, its touch screen is most frustrating.
Then, there is there are the elongated mile splits issue.
For years, my Garmin 310 XT gave me great service. Running over the same routes so often I knew exactly where the mile splits would occur. Being the 620 was a later model, I expected no less from it. However, this hasn’t been my experience.  
Take for example, my regularly 10 mile course. Within 20 to 30 meters, I know every split on it from the 310 XT. For about 5 miles, the 620 is pretty much on course. Then, over the last 5 miles it seems to get lost. The splits get further and further off. By the end, there is nearly a ¼ mile gap beyond where I should have finished and where I did finish.
When I first noticed it, I chalked it up to the overcast clouds. After 5 different runs, a trend starts to show up.
Enter now a few Google searches on the 620, and it seems like others are also seeing the same issue. The 620 loses its signal, and I magically move further down the road. Then, it reconnects with the satellites and the workout recording continues. But it doesn’t seem to take into account that I was still running while the signal was lost in its overall mile calculation. Thus, I run further and mile seems slower. Fyi, the time function doesn’t stop with the loss of the satellites signal.  
Some runners said the 620 patch does help. While other said that it didn’t. I am planning to the download the patch and install it. We shall see.
Overall, I like the look and feel of the 620. But if I don’t have confidence in its accuracy, it will land in my shelf unused items. I will find another GPS watch. Maybe, I get another 310 XT.
Time will tell.
The Cool Down Runner

Friday, January 8, 2016

3 Month Y Membership Plan

Monday was a late evening of work for me which pushed back my getting to the Dowd Y until 6:30 PM. Ugh, being late getting to the Dowd Y is never a good thing. Between 5 and 7:30 the parking lot is full. The overflow is full and the church overflow is full. In fact, I am surprised that I don’t see more people fighting of over few available parking spots.
Anyway, I roll in to the Y parking lot and head straight for the overflow area. Darn, it’s full. So I head back to the regular Y parking lot, and as if by some mysterious freak of nature, I am in luck and get spot right next to the door.
To get some sense of how lucky this is, I probably have a better chance of getting struck by lightning than getting a spot near one of the Y’s doors. These spots are rarely open unless you are morning rooster, or a true late night owl.
Moving along, I have been a member of the Charlotte YMCAs going on 20+ years now. Every January, I see the same thing happen.
People make their New Year’s resolution to get in shape. For the first 3 months of the year, the Dowd Y is absolutely slammed full. Waiting to workout is similar to 485 heading to Ballantyne in the evening. Not much chance of driving 70 mph is there.
As the days stretch into weeks, and the weeks stretch into months, this rush tends to abate, and life slowly returns to normal.
Yes, there are a few that make the leap to staying active but most undoubtedly fall back into their old ways.  Maybe it is the lack of making their self personally accountable. Maybe their life, family, or job pushes them to stop coming. Maybe it is just the fact that spring comes early to the Carolinas, and there is just so much more to do once it gets warm.
Who really know exactly, but  I do want to say that I appreciate all of these people that join for the first few months. They pump the extra money in to Y which leads to the purchase more and better equipment. So long after they have gone, the sweat is dropping from my forehead on to this new machine that they paid for.
So I’ll wrap up by saying thank you in advance for your 3 month YMCA contribution.
See you next year,
The Cool Down Runner

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Take your phone to the Y day

After work yesterday evening, I headed down to the Y. I needed to spend some quality time on the stair master before hitting the weights to wrap up what had otherwise been busy day for me.

An hour later, I finished up my time on the stair master and moved across to the weight machines.

This is all part of the routine that I follow.

So, please allow me to digress for a moment here.

Often we go through our days and are so accustom to the world around us that we by and large ignore most of it.

I too allow myself to slip between the worlds of the here and now and the world of the seemingly unimportant.

Consider this fact for the moment; for as long as I can remember the Dowd Y plays music over the speakers throughout the building. If you were to ask a member on their way out if they remembered hearing a particular song, I would suspect they might raise an eye brow and give you a questioning look. They might even tell you that the Y doesn’t play music.

As I looked around the Y yesterday, numerous members had their ear buds tucked snuggly into their ears. Many, I am sure, used it to shut the rest of the world out.

I get it. Concentration makes all the difference. Having less distractions often leads to a much better workout, and I am will champion that goal anytime.

Yet, this wasn’t the only thing that I noticed.

Like I said, enjoying your personal musing over what Y pipes in – I get it. Yet, members are going too far now. They are carrying on conversations. No, I am not talking a phone conversation. Rather, they are emailing, imessage, texting, snapchat, etc.

How can I tell you might ask? Well, first, I have a phone as well so I know a little about how to use it. Last time that I checked I didn’t need to use both thumbs to select a song and I don’t change songs every 20 to the 30 seconds.  Secondly, they tend to treat the machines as resting spot over their true purposes.

When I workout, I like to move from machine to machine to machine. Now, I vary the order mainly because I work in around others during their workouts. As long as I hit every machine on my list I am happy.

But I have been noticing this trend of messaging and working out more and more. Yesterday, I had a case in point.

When I started my weight circuit, I noticed this guy just setting on one of the machines. He head was down, and his eyes were glued to his phone. His fingers were quickly and efficiently tapping out what I can only assume was a message. From his facial expressions, I took it that the conversation wasn’t going to his liking.

I took note of the time and continued on with my workout. I moved from machine to machine. A few times I waited until others had finished so I could get into a particular one that I wanted to do. As I circled back, this guy was still setting on the same machine. Thumbs still busy going tap, tap, and tap.

A quick glance at the clock told me that he hadn’t moved in over 20 minutes.

Without realizing it he had been drawn between the worlds. Broken was his workout that he convened during the entire day. The phone that once gave him motivation and focus during his workout was now a distraction from his original goal. Temptation was allowed in.

What is the moral to this story? Well, let’s be blunt here. Yes, one’s phone can be a great assistant to having a great workout, but don’t let it become a distraction.

Turn off the notifications. Turn off the data link. Treat it like your stereo at home. Let the music be the only sensory input derived from it.

The Cool Down Runner      




Monday, January 4, 2016

30 years of running

Has it really been 30 years since I started running every day? Well, this milestone hasn’t quite been reached yet. But time waits for no one. Come the 3rd week in Oct of ’16, I will, good Lord willing, have run at least 1 mile everyday for what will mark my 30 year.

Just thinking about it, it sounds amazing. With the obstacles that life has thrown in my path, I am not sure how I made it this far.

This reminds me of quote from the first Jurassic Park movie. “Nature will find away”. Meaning no matter how difficult life seems one just needs to look hard enough and a way will present its self.

The Cool Down Runner

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Frosty 25k Recap

Note to self, please cut down on the sweets during the Holiday season. Of course, maybe running a Trail Marathon had something to do with it as well but today, I just didn’t have much under the
hood for the Frosty 25k.

I do want to give a shout out to Danny K. He was down from WV doing another race in the Carolinas. Mark and Alana, she was doing a steady state run this morning. I’ll share more about this later. Carolyn and her husband were knocking out some miles around Salem Lake. There were a few others that I know from FaceBook, but I didn’t see them in person.  Chad and Danielle, not sure about Danielle but Chad was rocking the race course. He was in 2nd during the first lap and had cleared through the out and back section on the second lap before I entered it.

To the race, right from the start, my breathing was labored. I didn’t feel smooth and relax. I felt like I was forcing each stride to happen.

Mark had mention that Alana was doing a steady state run between 6:20 and 6:30. I told him that I was hoping run 6:30 but it was all depending on which of my legs that showed up. (Yep, the old and tired ones – anway).

Ok, side topic, with the demise of my 310 XT, I switched to the Garmin 620. Having only run with it a couple of times, I am still figuring it out. Today was one of those days where I learned something new.  Without going into all of the boring details, I somehow changed it into lock mode and didn’t realize it. When they said "go", I clicked the start button but nothing happen. I clicked it again and still nothing. I tried changing the display, and it said "locked". Crap, I didn’t know how to unlock, and I am running a race so I didn’t really have time stop and fix it.

So, I just forgot about it and ran. Does it really matter that I know what pace that I am running or how far. Well, today, apparently, it didn’t.

Back to the race, Alana jumped out to 30 to 40 meter lead on me. Much it owed to me attempting to start my Garmin.

Slowly over the next couple of miles, I whittled down her lead until I caught her about 3 miles into the race.

We ran together for a while and she let me pull in front for a few miles on the sunny side of the lake. But youth and talent have their advantages. She went back by me while we were pulling up the long hill by the boat landing. By the time we went through the start/finish for the first loop, she pulled out again to 30 to 40 meters on me.

My first loop split was 49:42. By my calculations, I had to run the equivalent to break 1:40 and stay close to my desired 6:30 pace. I wasn't having the postive feelings, and running faster the second half wasn't likely. 

Over the next 7 and ½ miles she extended her lead out to a couple hundred meters, but I never truly lost sight of her. She was wearing a blaze orange shirt so it tended to a beacon in the grays and browns of the winter colors along the trail.

I did notice at the start there was one guy wearing a jersey which had the computer generated print for camouflage on the back. Having never seen him during the race, I don’t know how effective it was.

So pretty much after settling in on the first loop, I was passed by one runner and passed one runner so my position was pretty much status quo.   

I finished up in 1:41:28. Yes, it was slower than I wanted. I don’t know where I finished overall. They have not posted the results.

I do want to mention a couple of things. One they didn’t have anyone passing out finisher medals when I completed the race. This seemed rather odd. Although, I was able to go up later and ask for one.

Then, there seem to be a total mix up with the age group awards. Their website says that they were giving them out. Yet, when I questioned one of their race resources about it, she said she didn’t know when the awards were going to be given out i.e. what time and they were only doing overall awards. Apparently, there was some disconnect here. I didn’t even wait around to find out.

Having run both the Frosty 25k a couple of times and the 30k in the fall, I am big fan of TCTC runs there. Here’s hoping they get their act together before September.



The Cool Down Runner.




Picking up a penny

Ever wish you hadn’t done something after it turned out differently than you expected? Yep, I have. Actually, an example happened to me just yesterday.

I was running along feel pretty good about myself. With less than half mile to go, I noticed a penny resting on the ground. Never one to pass a heads up penny, I stopped and picked it up.

As I fumbling to put the penny in to shorts pocket, I wasn’t watching where my next stride was going. I couldn’t have taken more than 5 steps when I felt the pain signals were rocketed in from my foot to my brain. Short stepping my left foot and high stepping my right foot, I attempted to compensate for the pain but the damage was done. 

This isn’t the first time that I have stepped on rock. In fact, I step on them quite frequently. In this case, it was just the right side (bigger than usual) and in the wrong spot. I stepped on it right behind ball and along inside of my foot. The pain lingered on for a several hours yesterday evening. By bed time, my foot was slightly swollen around the ball joint.

This morning after my race, I pulled off my sock to examine it more closing. My foot was still slightly swollen, but wow, there was this huge bruise starting behind the ball and down the inside of my foot.

Not the outcome that I expected from picking up a heads up penny. After all, a heads up penny should provide good luck not bad. Right?

If you see a penny on the road, don’t stop. I repeat “don’t stop”. It isn't worth it.   LOL.


The Cool Down Runner

Friday, January 1, 2016

Flashing Lights @ the Y

Well, yesterday was the last day of ’15. Sadly, the knowledge that another year has come and gone somehow makes life seem all the more real to me. Memories were added both good ones and tough ones as is to be expected. This is what life is about. Encountering challenges make us stronger as individuals.

Anyway, that’s enough of the sappiness.

Let’s take about something else.

Being yesterday was the last day of ’15; I hit the Y for one last workout. Arriving around noon, I headed straight for my hour on the stair master. The sweat poured out from the one too many sweets that I have been enjoying. A long with the hope I was burning nearly as many calories as I have been eating.

After checking this off the list, I headed into the weight room. A couple of circuits sounded pretty good and would definitely help me feel better about myself.

I was finishing up my core workout around 5 minutes to 2. Then, someone presumable with control of an intercom system announced that the Y was closing.

Wait did I hear this right? They are closing at 2 pm. I guess so because as I looked around, the Y was nearly deserted. Why am I the last to know?

Oh, well, I guess that I will finish things up at home.

I headed downstairs to grab shower. It is maybe 3 minutes to 2pm. While I am showering, they are flashing the lights off and on. Really, I get it. The Y is closing and I am hurrying along as fast as possible. I don’t really need them to act like a kid that just learned about the light switch.

After getting dressed, I headed out of the Y. I pushed on the door to exit and realize when it doesn’t move that it is locked. Ok, so I turn toward the automatic sliding doors.

Apparently, these work differently. If you are trying to exit, they will open but the outside sensor is turned off so you cannot enter the building. Well, I guess this makes sense.

So apparently, I missed the 2pm memo. However, I got 99% of my workout done.

And, I learned something new.

The Y doesn’t fool around. When they say, they are closed; they mean it.


The Cool Down Runner