Monday, November 13, 2017

Multiple Flavors

Tonight, I thought that I would write about selecting the Gel flavors in your next marathon.

During this past summer, I was finishing up the last few miles of my long run when I reached in to my pocket for a Gatorade Chew. I pulled out the next Strawberry flavored block. I looked at it for a long second. While I knew I needed to take it, just the thought of chocking it down was less than inviting.

Similarly in several of my marathons, I have pulled out my last Power Gel. Looked at it, and tucked it back in my pocket. Pretty much for the same reason, while starting out I loved the taste and the texture, but after running 20+, I just couldn't stomach another bite.

Maybe others have this same problem may be not.

So I pondered what to do about it.

So happens, I was by the store picking up some additional Gatorade Chews for my next long but they were out of the Strawberry flavor. Instead, I picked up a couple of different flavors.

I didn't think too much about it at the time but when I was preparing for my next long run, I realized that I had 3 different flavors of chews. Usually, I only take one flavor on a long run. However in this case, I had to take server different flavors to cover the entire distance.

On my long run and much to my surprise, I found myself rotating through the different flavors. Even thou, the texture was the same, having different flavors made all of the difference.

I decided to test out my theory during my 50k a few weeks ago. Yes, the test went well. I actually looked forward to taking them during the later miles. Then, a couple of weeks ago, I used the same strategy during my marathon. And, I found them much easier to stomach.

We all have favorite flavors, but when we are hot and tired, even something that is a favorite can seem unpalatable. I found something that works for me, so maybe it will help others.

The Cool Down Runner

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Shot in the Dark 10k Trail Race Recap 11-10-17

So my marathon is in my rear view mirror. Time figure out what’s next. For this week, I headed out to the Whitewater Center for their Shot in the Dark 10k Trail race. If you are not familiar with this event, the Whitewater Center puts on a trail race at night. Every runner is required to wear a headlamp. Heck I am not sure that even on a clear night with a full moon that I would want to do a trail race without at least a little light.

With Moores Chapel Rd being a mess while the DOT puts in a new round-a-bout, all of the traffic has been diverted over to highway 27. I can personally attest to the congestion. I spent nearly 30 minutes getting from the exit to the point where I can drive on to the Whitewater Center.

To help everyone out, they delayed the race by 15 minutes. Of course, this left me all warmed up and ready to go with no race for another 15 minutes.

Running at night has never bothered me. But I have always avoided the trails for fear of tripping over roots and rocks.

Given this race and my recent experience in the 50k, I am having a chance of heart. For the most part, the roots and rocks, I can see pretty well. What I really struggle with is staying on the trail. What is clear path in the daylight becomes a question mark at night more so now with the leaves falling.  And, I know the trail fairly well, but even I found myself running off of it in places. Although, once I stepped off the beaten path, the footing changes noticeably. I know that I need to back track.

The 5k and 10k start together. Marcus and couple of other runners are soon out of lamplight viewing distance. We pickup the south trail. 3 runners pass me. But over the next couple of miles, I catch a few others.

As I am coming up to the Lake Loop I already see head amps going out on the Lake Loop. My attempts to count them are unsuccessful because I need to focus on where I am running.  I catch one runner in mile 4, but as we are coming out the woods, another runner closes up on my “6”. I freely admit that I slow down on the trail. I have no death wish.

But now, we are clear of the woods, and I have just a gravel path back to the finish. I put roughly 30 second on him before crossing the line.

My time is 51:21, 8the Overall, and 2nd in my age group.

I am very pleased with my effort. While my time was some 3 minutes slower than over the same course during the River Jam 10k race, I am pretty certain the darkness had something do with it.

The reason for my delving in to night racing is my thoughts keep drifting to myself running the Whitewater Center 50 miler next year. The race starts at 5 AM. Runners have to endure more then 2 hours of darkness.  I am using these events to test out new lighting positions, shoes, clothing, etc. If something doesn’t work, then I only have to struggle with it for 30 to 50 minutes and not two hours.  Plus, I need to increase my comfort level of running at night on the trails. There is nothing like live action to test out my theories.  Like I described earlier, I thought running over roots and rocks would be a huge issue for me. The idea of running off the trail never really occurred but now, I realize where my struggles really are and what I need to improve.

That’s what life is all about. We each have to accept challenges to ourselves or we will forever be stuck in the dull and rut of mediocrity.

The Cool Down Runner

Monday, November 6, 2017

Marshal Marathon Race Recap 11-5-17

Setting down this morning, I wanted to recount my experience yesterday.

Going in to the race yesterday, I was expecting it to be warm if not hot. From 10 days out the weather man said it would be in the 40s, but my race morning morning, the temperate was going to be a mile 60 degrees at 8 am and mid 70s by the time that I would be finishing.

Having run a few warm weather marathons, my experiences were not been the most positive. However, rather than dwell on these past struggles, I decided to focus on the things that I could control - mainly my pace and my hydration.

By the way, the race starts with the firing of a cannon. Who knew that such a small cannon, could make such a loud bang.

Off we sent heading toward the east end of Huntington to brick street. Yes, we literally turn on to a street paved in bricks and run for 2 blocks. The bricks are so uneven from years of abuse that I have no choice but to slow down. As quick as we were on the bricks, we were off.

Back on 5th street, the runners start to stretch out. The 1/2 marathoners are pushing a head while us full marathoners are taking stock of who we are going to be around for the next several hours.

I found myself in a small group of 4. One guy never says a word and hangs just to our rear. The 2 place woman in the 1/2 marathon and guy in his 20s running his first marathon. We chat back and forth which helps pass the earlier miles.

We pass by the bakery and the smell of fresh back bread is intoxicating to the an unfeed stomach. We pass over the timing map at 6.1 miles. I am right at 40 minutes.

From here we pick up the Ritter Park tow path. The grit is hard back but it does seem to give the legs a break from the asphalt. We round the park, and head back on to the roads again.

Under the train trussle. I slow and allow my legs to just coast down the hill and make the slow climb up the other side.

I barely notice that we have passed the 10 mile mark.

The heat is picking up. Every few minutes, I am wiping the sweat from my forehead. Something else I noticed. I take the Gatorade chews during the race. I barely seemed to have soak one down, and I taking another.

We jump back over along the Ohio river for a short distance. I am continuing to grab water at every waterstop. I keep reminding myself that taking water is of the utmost importance today. Once the scales tip too far toward being dehydrated, I will never get them back during the race until I walk.

I am also reminding myself to keep my pace in check. A few times, I feel my breathing become labored and have to remind myself to slow down.

Marathon runners are directed through the Marashall University Campus, and then we run miles 14 and 15 in the reverse direction to our opening two miles. I pass across the 1/2 mat in just under 1 hour and 26 minutes.

With the 1/2 and full marathoner have split up, I see a runner a couple of hundred meters in front of me. He is like my carrot. I have to chase him. I am making slow gains on him, and I finally pull up behind him when we pass the start finish area and head out on our second loop.

We chat for a few minutes. I learn that this is his 50 state marathon, and he is in my age group. If I am going to win my age, I am going to have to beat him. I catch one more runner around 18 miles.

Picking up the Ritter Park path for the second time, I can get a good gauge of how far that I am head of them.

Did I forget to mention, the temperate was 65 degrees at the 1/2 point. But now, the sun seems to be burning my shoulders.

I am waiting off the sweat and drinking at every aid station. Sometimes, I am taking two cups.

Gong by the 24 mile mark for the 4th time, I have no rgegrets about not seeing it again. Mile mark 25 sets at the top of the ever so slight incline. My quads are feeling it but perhaps my hamstrings feel it more.

Passing through the campus for a second time, I know there is not much left. I urge the last out of my legs. I

I had forgotten that the football dips down. Oh, why does it hurt so much to run downhill.

This year, we all get our own football to carry to the finish and keep. I take my hand off like a running back hitting the line of scrimmage. Suddenly, I am using both hands to hold it. Being covered in sweat, makes the ball extremely slippery. I run the next 80 yards while attempting to not drop it.

A finish line never looked so nice. My time is 2:52:20, and I finished 4th overall. This puts me as the first Male Masters runner.

Given the conditions, I could not have been more happier with the race. I paced  my self well enough in the heat that I nearly ran even splits for the race. I was only 40 second slower over the second half of the race. 

The Cool Down Runner

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Marshall Marathon Shakeout Run

So to catch you up, I am back in Huntington, WV for another running of the Marshall Univ. Marathon. This will be my 3rd year in a row running this year.

To add to the events of the weekend, this year they decided to have a 5k shakeout run for the runners. The cost was reasonable at $25, and I would get a nice sweat shirt instead of the usual t-shirt that most races provide.

Yesterday, I dropped back packet pickup. When I got the sweat shirt for the shakeout run, I was very impressed. This was a super nice one with a cool logo on it. In fact, I felt it was nicer than the pullover that came with the the Marathon registration. I suspect more than a few others felt the same way. Of course, I also suspect a few people didn't like the fact that they switched from the nice ASIC jackets the previous two years to these pullovers. Likely, my pullover will go into my dungin of shirts never to be seen again.

But enough about shirts, the shakeout run took place at Springs Hill cemetery. The course was a bit hilly to say the least, but what else would one expect. WV isn't know for a lot of flat land.

I cruised through the course in 23 minutes, and I finished something like 5, 6, or 7th. Only a couple guys seemed to be interested in racing it. Most of the runners were like me. This was a just another easy day before the big day tomorrow.

I love the idea of a shakeout run, and I would love to see more marathons adopt this type of event. Give the runners something todo on the day before the big day. Run, eat, and talk about running, a shakeout run is event to do it.

Well, that it for today. I drop a recap of my marathon race likely the first part of next week.

Best in running,

The Cool Down Runner