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.