Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Sat. Race - Sun Long

Talking long run plans over the weekend with John and Ryan, they seem to be amazed or at the very least curious about my plans to run 20 miles the day after running a 10 mile race. 

Well, may be running 20 miles after racing 10 mile isn’t the wisest of plans but give it some time. Quite possibly you will come around to my way of thinking.

Consider this situation…

“You are in the last 4 miles of your marathon. You are tired. Your legs are beyond stiff as the veins just below the skin do their very best to whisk away the blood laden with lactic acid.”

 It is very hard to simulate those conditions in training without actually running a race. But then, this is the purpose of racing. Right?

During training all you want to get as close as possible without crossing the line.

So back to my racing on Saturday for 10 miles and then running long on Sunday, yes, my legs were pretty tender come Sunday morning at 5 AM. I didn’t really expect them to have any bounce in them.

The early miles were not easy, but as the run wore on they began to feel better. By the 10 mile point, my legs already felt like that they had done twenty. My brain was forced to work even harder to keep them moving to keep them turning over and over. Is it worth it? Absolutely, it is.

Training the mind for a marathon is probably 90% of the real work while the remaining 10% goes into training the body. If the mind believes it, the body will follow. You have to "believe" first.

So on marathon day, when it comes time to run on tired legs, I’ll not only be ready but I’ll have the confidence to know that I can do it.



Monday, February 22, 2016

Charlotte 10 Miler

During every marathon build-up there needs to be a good tune up race several weeks out to help test a runner’s resolve, and to further callus the mind for the upcoming effort. One couldn’t pick a better race then our very own Charlotte 10 miler which is organized by S2F and Charlotte Running Company.

While there are some challenging sections, there also sections where the running is absolutely a blast.

Pretty much, this explains why I signed up.

From the gun, we headed off down Johnston Rd. Alice and Patrick powered by me, and I was impressed by the move because they looked like they came to run. The pace they were setting was solid so tucking sounded like a pretty good plan.

Joey joined us a little later so we had a nice little group for most of the race. We hit the green way for a bit. Then, we turned off for a section on Carmel Rd. Then, it was back the greenway for another 3 miles. We passed 5 miles at in 31:05. My body wasn’t feeling the greatest but it didn’t feel bad either.  

Between 5 and 8 miles, the pace picked up but our little group stayed tightly together. At 8 miles, Joey made the first effort to break up our group, and I followed along.  

Joey and I reached the “hill” in mile nine together but it dealt me more of a blow than it did him. He surged out to a 25 yard lead on me.

The more we climbed; the less that I felt like I was going to reel him back in.

Passing the 9 mile mark, my quads were cooked. Then, we made a 90 degree right turn for the nearly a mile run to the finish.

Lots of people say this last mile is downhill. Okay, yes, it is a bit downhill, but not enough that you can just let it go and roll down it. No, it just enough downhill to lull you in a fall sense of security. You still have to force those tired and lactic acid loaded legs to turn over.

Making right on Community House Rd, Alice and Patrick were right behind me. I could feel it. Donny, who had rode his bike along the course, came by to tell me that they were closing. Urging the last ounce of speed from my legs, I spurred them toward the finish line. Mere seconds separated us at the finish.

My time of 61:34 was minutes faster than I expected as was my 10th overall placement. Topping off my effort was winning my 50-54 age group.

All in all, this turned out to be a pretty decent run for me.  

Really appreciate having Joey, Alice, and Patrick along. Rather than feeling the painful side effects of racing, the comradery our group help carry me a long. Also, I have to give Patrick a big shout out for the music. Throughout the entire race he had some sort of device that played music loud enough that we could all hear it. It was actually pretty cool to hear.

Big thanks to the race organizers and everyone else that made this race go off with so much success.


The Cool Down Runner




Nascar drivers are not athletes

Do sports talk show host really know what they are talking about? This past Sunday I want to say it was on a Fox Sport radio that I heard a host saying that NASCAR drivers were not athletes because they set down, press a pedal, and turn a steering wheel.

At first, he just annoyed me. Really, his argument made no sense. Then he followed it up by talking about drivers that were no longer racing in NASCAR. Some had been out of racing for as much as 25 years. To make it worse, he called one of them by the wrong name which didn’t do anything for his credibility in my book.

But back to his initial premise of them not being athletes because they set down, press pedal, and use a steering. If I take this same premise and look around, then I see an equally comparable match between NASCAR drivers and cyclist. They for the most part set down nearly all of the time. They press pedals. They use a steering wheel so by his definition cyclist would not be athletes. I certainly consider them athletes.

Then, after about 10 minutes of listening to him, the thought hit me that he was taking this particular point of view – possibly - not because he believed it but because it would incite his listeners to call his show and attempt to repudiate his argument. He is a talk show host. Part of his job is to create a buzz about his show. What better way than argue an opinion which most people might not agree.  This intern gets them calling which can only serves to boost his ratings.

Anyways, I did what any good sports fan should do in this situation. No, I didn’t call his show. Instead, I reached up to my radio dial and changed it to another sport talk radio station.

Sometimes, saying nothing at all is better than yelling from the top of the tallest mountain.

The Cool Down Runner

CRC Weekend Board Meeting

This past weekend our Charlotte Running Club board met on Saturday and Sunday to discuss and plan our club’s activities for ‘16.  Is a meeting like this really necessary? The short answer is “Yes”. I cannot express strongly enough how important this is for a couple of reasons.

Our club is quite active in the Charlotte Running Community, and being active means more than just showing up. Anything worth doing needs to be done well. This requires weeks if not months of planning to bring ideas to fruition.

I don’t want to get in to the details of our meeting. Mike plans to share these details in our upcoming our March newsletter. Definitely, I don't want to steal his thunder. What I can say is – we are talking about bringing back some activities that we did in previous years, as well as attempting some different things.  Hopefully, our members once they hear the details will be chomping at the bit to get involved.  

But, beyond the planning of club activities these meetings offer our board members the opportunity to spend significant time together. In some respects these extend meetings become team building exercise. It allows us to get to know each other beyond the normal running and meeting circles. It’s this type of personal interaction that really improves our ability to work together.

As hard as it is to believe success often depends more on the people and their relationships with each other than anything else. I know it certainly help me to get to know some of our newer board members a lot better.

The Cool Down Runner

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Cupid’s Cut 5k Recap

What better way to celebrate Valentines Day than by running Charlotte’s very own Cupid’s Cup 5k. The only problem facing the runners today was chilling weather. With the temperature in the mid to low 20s at race time, the only way to stay warm was to keep moving. I felt sorry for the families, friends, and those volunteering for the race. They had a nearly impossible task of staying warm.

So, by now, I am guessing that you are wondering how my race went.  Well, it went pretty much as I expected. My lack of any true speed work was evident right out of gate.

We went on “go”. Well, everyone else went on “go”. My legs were only starting to turnover for the first time as runners were already streaming up East Blvd.

By the time, we turned right on the Dilworth loop to head down by Latta Park, I was in 6th place. One guy was gone from the rest of us. Then, there were two guys running together, and they were followed by the top two women.

I passed the second place woman as we started up the hill by Latta Park but was then passed by the kid (okay, he was 17. I consider anyone younger tham me to be a “kid”). He goes on to pass the lead woman. I am trailing along behind both of them by some 10 to 15 yards.

As we make the left turn on Euclid, I pass the lead women, but I am still trailing the kid by a good 10 yards.

Running along Euclid, I focus on claiming myself and getting my breathing under control. Once I turn on East Blvd the course is essentially downhill or flat to the finish line. This was the point where I  mustered my reserves for the task ahead.

Turning on East, the gap remains the same. Then, I hear breathing from someone coming up on my shoulder. She is breathing hard but throws a surge in that carries her past me and up to the kid in front of us. “Oh, this is going to get interesting now”.  But things actually settled out as we continued down East. My Garmin chimed that we had completed 2 miles.

It was now or never so I surged up to them. We were running 3 abreast passing the water stop. I throw in another surge, and this time only the kid goes with me. We pass the gas station. Then, we pass Outback. Time comes for another surge. No response from the kid.  I am clear now. If my legs hold it together, I am free to run to the finish. I hear people cheering, but I don’t have enough air to create any sound. All of my attention focused on getting to the finish line.

I don’t even peek while turning the corner into the parking lot. My legs are at their max. There is nothing else to give.

Crossing the finish line my time was 17:44 which placed me 4 overall and first Master.  Considering the high level masters runners in Charlotte area, scoring a masters’ win was an awesome feeling.

As I get older and work to maintain my level of running, the realization sets in that speed work has be a major part of my workouts throughout the entire year. Without it, my legs lose turnover way too quickly, and it so difficult to get it back these days.


The Cool Down Runner

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Kick starting speedwork

Kick starting my speedwork this season is getting so much harder. I go out and attempt to do an interval workout, but I feel like I am stuck mud. My legs seem turnover as fast as ever but when I look at the clock, they are clearly not moving anywhere near as fast as I want or need them.

Over the past 3 weeks, my workouts have been 5 x 1 mile, 10 x 800, and 20 x 400. This is a little longer than my normal marathon workouts and as such each was an okay workout. From past experience, I am normally a slow starter so typically, my first two to three weeks cranking up interval is always tough. This time around, however, the mountain feels so much steeper.

Roughly five and half weeks separate me from my next marathon. Time to agonize over which workout will give me the best chance of running faster on race day. I wish I could set here and say that I have a definitive list but life over 50 is an everyday experiment.

What works yesterday, last week, or last year, might not work tomorrow.


The Cool Down Runner

Thursday, February 4, 2016

CRC's Winter Classic 8k/4k

Growth is a beautiful thing. This year, we added nicer shirts, we added finisher medals, and we added a second race. The results couldn’t have been more positive. This nearly doubled the number of runners for our club's race. If the weather had cooperated a little better, it would have been thumbs up all around. But with the snow hitting Charlotte and the week postponement, we had several runners that couldn’t make it. We did our best to work with them on an amerceable solution.

As with those early years of youth, growth also brings growing pains. We realize that our awards didn’t go as smoothly as we would have liked. We also took note of the feedback about congestion on the course as the 4k and 8k runners attempted to navigate our double loop. We love the double loop concept because family and friends get to support their runners numerous times over the course of the race. This isn’t something that most race make possible. We will definitely work on ideas to make this better for next year.

But rest assured we are focused on more than these two areas. We are focused on gathering every bit of feedback possible about our race. All of it will go into making next year’s race even better.

On a more personal note, I am frequently asked why I do it. Why I do spend this time helping with the Winter Classic? After all, I don’t get paid for it. Our club gets nothing out of it. We donate our proceeds to the “Partners for Parks” fund.

It is somewhat of a hard question to answer because they don’t see the intangibles that I see. Yes, there is untold number of hours chasing down every task to make sure it gets done. There is the racer that doesn’t have the great experience and wants to share every detail of it with me. There’s answering the same question 50 times or 100 times and doing it with a smile and a pat on the back. The list of why "not to" could go on and on.

Really, I do it for a few reasons. First, I like helping create events. There is just something awesome about taking an idea and making it real. Few people in this world take the time to shape the world around them in some way. This is my effort to do so.  

Second, there is the sense of accomplishment. Saturday evening around 6 pm, I set down my sofa and turned on my TV. I wasn’t really watching it. My eyes were closed, and my thoughts were drifting back over the events of the day. I couldn’t help but feel a huge sense of pride in what our club had accomplished.

Last and probably most important to me is seeing the runners that made our race a part of their lives. From the youngest runner sprinting to the finish line to the oldest runner making their way over the course to the vendors, families, and friends, it’s like a huge social where we all get to smile, have fun, and play like we are all kids again.

As I wrap of this post, I need to give some major kudos to our race committee. Lori made things happen on race day. Jeannette was everywhere getting us pizzas to handing out medals. Steve is our volunteer coordinator. He does more than I probably even know about, and we will miss him when we moves to Florida later this year. Gurmit, he just jumps in and makes it happen no matter what the task. Last but definitely not least, there is Mike who without his direction and leadership, I am not sure our Winter Classic would happen. He is the key stone that makes everything work.

Finally, to all of the runners participating in our Winter Classic, you all are awesome, and I cannot thank you enough for coming out to our race. You guys are the best.


The Cool Down Runner