Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Long Run #7

Finishing up my 20 miles on my Garmin at the White Water Center on Saturday morning, I felt like I could go another 3 or 4 miles. That's what happens when the weather changes for the better. With the temperature in the mid 60s and a much milder humidity level, my body finally felt like running again.

To digress for a moment, Bobby and I were discussing how the heat and humidity seems to affect us more now a couple of weeks ago.  

Push the humidity up to 70, 80, or 90%, and going for easy run feels more like the last few miles of a marathon. Legs feel heavy and lethargic. Only sheer will power and muscle memory keeps them going when everything screams to slow down or stop.

One thing that I have noticed as I have gotten older, I sweat more. Not just a little, but a lot. May be my body through years of running had just adapted. However, I feel like the increased sweating is a double edged sword. Yes, sweating helps keep me cooler, but sweating also means that I am losing water – lots of it. More than I can put back during any run. This in and of itself can turn a decent run into a long slow march to the finish.

But enough about the effects of the summer heat and humidity. Fall is in the air. This means cooler temperatures, plenty of road races, and fall marathon.

So take advantage of this great weather and hit the roads or the trails.

As long as you are moving, nothing else is important.

The Cool Down Runner

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Trail Long Run #6

With the heat and humidity kicking runner's buts across Charlotte including mine, taking my long run back to the White Water Center trails made perfect sense this morning. About 7:30 AM, I loaded up and headed out.

This week, I needed to change up my usual plans. Instead of going out for one long run before returning to the parking lot, I made loops. Rather I made the 15k loops which composed the course for  the White Water Center race coming up in a few weeks.

Getting the terrain laid out in my head means I will likely run little faster on race day. However, today I found other motivation to be a little quicker.

Shortly after turning on the North Main trail, I was cruising along enjoy the morning when my eyes identified something that brought me to a halt.

Setting on edge of trail was nice fat copper head snake warming himself in the morning sunshine. Definitely, snakes are never part of my plans for a trail but occasionally, we do cross paths.

Once I could see he wasn't stressed i.e. looking for a nice lean runner's leg to bite, I gave him a wide berth and continued down the trail. Unfortunately, seeing one snake means that every odd shaped root which catches sun just right looks like a snake. Several miles passed under my feet before my brain stopped this ludicrous behavior.

Nine miles later, I made a quick stop at my car to load up on water and headed off again. I treaded lightly through the snake section but he most have moved on. Having a few Mt. Bikers flash by, he likely decided to find a better spot to work on his tan. He will get no objections from me.

After finishing up a my second loop, I headed over to the gravel path around the white water. With only a couple miles left in my long run, watching rafters seemed like a nice idea. At least this was better than staring at trees.

Looking at the Whiter Water Center now and 5 years ago, they seem like totally different places. They continue to grow and expand. Given the fitness craze that my people are on these days, the White Water Center makes for a ideal place to spend a lazy day for a fitness nut: flat water rafting in the morning, white water rafting in the afternoon, zip lining in the evening. If the mood hits, there also are plenty of trails and obstacles course to enjoy.

Definitely, they have a great place to get in a full day of fun and cool workout to boot. So check it out.

The Cool Down Runner

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Charlotte Running Company XC 5k

Boy, the humidity made running terrible this morning. I finished my warm up miles before the 5k race, and sweat dripped from shorts as if I had been standing in a rain shower. No amount of toweling off could keep it from coming back.

So this morning, I headed down Myers Park for the Charlotte Running Company XC 5k and High School Invitational Meet. The adults go off first at 8 AM. Then, starting at 9 AM, the kids get to run going off in groups every 30 minutes. Let me tell you, they are amazing to watch.

Adults run with caution. We totally understand that tomorrow is another day, and we are unlikely to push to the point that we put ourselves in harms way. Kids don't have that fear yet. They attack the up hills hard and even harder they attack the down hills with a reckless abandon. A fact made very evident to me while I was attempting to stay a couple runners likely not born before I ran my first marathon.

We start from the far side of the ball field. Run along a dirt trail until it pops out behind the school. We follow the edge of the campus until the course picks up the trail again. Some of course is rather rugged. Bone crunching down hills followed by heart pounding up hills. To make runner's life even more interesting, every type of surface is encountered on the course: from grass, dirt, asphalt, gravel, to concrete.

I had hopes of staying with Cory during the race but once we hit the rugged section, he opened up a lead that I never closed. When I came off the second loop, he was well out sight. He went on to beat me by some 50 seconds today.

I finished 6th overall in 20:45. This was a little better finish than my last XC race here a little over two years ago. Funny, my time was nearly same.

Kudos to Lamont from Myers Park High School, Start 2 Finish, and Charlotte Running Company for supporting this event. They did an awesome job making sure the race was organized, and this is all any runners wants.

While XC running has never been my real forte, the way this course challenges me keeps me coming back year after year.

The Cool Down Runner

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Long Run #5 – No trails.

With the off and on stormy weather for the past few days, the Whitewater Center Trails were closed today. So I was back on the roads for my weekly long run.

Why didn't I run the trails anyway? Well, during the early miles of my run, I contemplated this very question. The result, I came up with 3 reasons. Whether they are good reasons or not, I will let everyone else be the judge.

Reason #1 for not running on the trails, no one like being the trail cob web cleaner. Think about it. No one wants to be the first one on the trails. Catching a cob web across the face is just nasty.

Reason #2 for not running on the trails, didn't want to get busted for it. Yeah, I could sneak in and run the trails but with my luck one of the WWC guys would be out checking and I get kicked out of the center maybe even permanently. No point in taking an unnecessary risk.

Reason #3 for not running on the trails, this might actually be my best reason. The WWC team does an awesome job giving us all these trails and taken care of them. I should be respectful of their rules. If they feel the trails should not have runners, mt bikers, etc on them, we should obey them. Personally, I want these trails to be enjoyed for years to come. Tearing up the trails does no one any good, and likely gets additional restrictions imposed on their usage.

So how was my long run today?

The humidity was the worst this morning. Sweat quickly coated my skin and without the slightest hint of a gust of wind my shoes were soon making that “swooshing” sound of soaked running shoes. By 14 miles, my legs wanted to be done, and they still had another 5 miles to carry me.

But I stuck it out, and I finished my run. The ending was a bit ugly, but I finished it and will live to run another day.

See you on the trails,

The Cool Down Runner

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Trail Long Run #4

So late Friday night the storms rolled across the Charlotte area. When this happens, they often close the Whitewater Center trails. However, come Saturday morning, they were showing all trails open. It must be my lucky day or so I thought.

Long Run number four had a few surprises in store for me. There tumble on the trail. There was a snake out and about. A new section was added to the Thread trail.

Where should I start.

Ok, let's tackle these in the order that they occurred.

First, the new trail section, I am headed out on the Thread trail. I was about to cross the service road when the path a head was blocked. No, I don't mean blocked like a trail fell across the trail. Although, after last night's storms, several trees had fallen cross the trail in different sections. No, in this case, someone had made a big “X” with two trees blocking the path a head. Veering left, they had created a new entrance to a whole new section of the Thread Trail. This was no small addition. I felt like I ran forever before connecting back up with the old trail. A couple of weeks ago, I ran this same course, and didn't hit 16 miles until I was back side on the figure 8 trail. With this new addition, I was well over 16 miles before I even reached the figure 8 trail.

I love the fact that the Whitewater Center crew is always adding new trails. This keeps things interesting. We all know runners love interesting things.

Moving on to my tumble, well with rain last night, there were a few slippery sections. About 17 miles into my run, I was getting tired and probably wasn't paying close enough attention to my footing. Well, I started down this steep slope when my right foot just went right out from under me. I rolled down the hill and on to my side. I immediately popped right up and looked around to see if anyone had seen me. I was more embarrassed than hurt. Brushed off some of the dirt. Did a quick head to toe sanity check and headed off running again. Luckily nothing was hurt. I kind of bounced down the slope and on to soft sandy pile of dirt.

So last item was my snake encounter. I am heading back to the trail head along the Parkway trail, and this guy passes me. He is just head of me when we round this bend and suddenly out of the corner of my eye, I see the huge black snake crossing the trail and heading up the embankment. I don't know. May be he never saw it. If he did, would have been nice to give a fellow running buddy a little heads up. Nothing like being totally surprised by a black streak crossing the path in front of me.

Otherwise, this was just another boring uneventful time in the woods. I will say the fatigue was really starting to set in over those final miles. For the first 9 to 10 miles, I felt pretty good and probably ran a little harder than I should have. I, then, paid for it over the later miles. Most of the time, I always save the easier trails for the end because I know that I am tired. I don't pick up my feet as well so on the easier trails I am less likely to fall. Although, may I proved this wrong by falling on the Thread trail.

With week number 4 for trails in the books, I need to switch up my trails again. Run them in some different combination. Like I said earlier, runners like to keep things interesting.

See you on the trails,

The Cool Down Runner.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Trail Long Run #3

Ok, so Saturday I headed to the trails to knock out my 3rd long run in as many weeks under the shady leaves of the forest. The morning started out a bit rough. For the first hour or so, the humidity was something awful. Within the first 20 minutes, my body was dripping with sweat. Then, somewhere around around 9 or 9:30 the humidity lifted, and the breeze picked up. From then. On, my run felt totally different.

Everything was stark contrast to the previous week when the heat seemed to radiate from every possible direction. I couldn't get enough water in me to rehydrate.

The week, the miles rolled along. By the time my Garmin clocked 18 miles, I was pulling back in to the parking lot, and still felt good.

Three more weeks, my body should become well adapted to the stresses of the trails. Let's hope some of this trail strength will cross over and show up during my road races.

I do my best to keep you posted on my progress.

By the way, been thinking about doing another Crowders Mt. To Kings Mt. Trail run. I didn't do one last year, but I feel like time is right for another one. Of course, I need to pick a good weekend for it. Maybe one here during Aug or September.

The Cool Down Runner