Sunday, November 25, 2018

Derby 50k Race Recap 11/24/2017

No lie, the rain was pelting down my roof at 4:45 AM Saturday morning. The sound was the second thing that hit my brain after my alarm. For fleeting second, I had thoughts of rolling over and going back to sleep.

I had to run sometime. At least this way, I had motivation so after 2 hour drive, yeah, between the rain and the slick roads, I finally pulled into the Derby community center parking lot. Many other runners had already arrived. I made my way inside, and I picked up my race bib. Now, all I had to do was settle back in my seat and rest.

45 minutes went by real fast, and we gathered at the starting line. The temperate was around 34 to 35 degrees according to my car. A steady down pour was already pelting us runners. Not to mention, we were standing with our backs to the wind.

I had selected my race apparel and hoped for the best. I'd be wearing it for the next 4ish hours.

Mark gave us a some prerace instructions. Most of us were anxious to get started. No body was getting warm standing around.

With in ¾ of mile, I moved to the front and was pulling away. At the first left turn, I felt the wind picking up now. By two miles, I was soaked. Coupled with the temperature and the wind, plus the fact that I was running into the wind, my lips fingers, and quads were literally numb.

By the time, I turned left on Derby highway, I could hardly open my ziplock bag of Cliff blocks.

The right by Sycamore camp rounds, I could feel the wind ease a bit since it was hitting me from the side.

I rolled the downhill and turned left on the dirt road cut through. Actually, this is my favorite section of the course. The road starts out pretty flat but soon begins a gradual climb over the next couple of miles. Only one or two spots were slippery.

Back on the asphalt, we run perhaps another mile before turning left and tackling the the longest and steepest hill on the course. Nothing to do but sink down in the a low gear and let my legs climb to the top.

With another left on Derby Highway, the wind was finally at my back. I was soaked and cold but at least the wind was no longer freezing me. 

Right on Jones Rd took me back by the Derby Community Center and the completion of lap number one.

My race plan was to stop at my car and grab a new set of hand held bottles. I must have lost two minutes here. I keep my key in a Velcro pocket on my shorts. But my fingers were so numb that I could not feel the buttons. Finally, I laid down my gloves and hand held bottles to fish out my key and unlock my car. 

Mark asked me how I was doing. I responded that I was wet and cold but still moving.
About ¾ of the way through the second lap, the rain finally slacked up. In the 3rd lap, the wind eased up and the sun popped out. I actually started to sweat in the latter half of the 3rd lap. I could finally feel my fingers again.

During the first and second laps, I found difficult to drink from the my hand held bottles so I started taking the caps off. By the 3rd lap, I decided to forgo the the bottles and make do with just eating my Sports Beans.

While 35 degrees isn't that cold, when combined with the wind and the rain, it really put a drain on me. At one point my teeth were chattering.

To survive the difficult condition, I broke the race in the chunks and focused on completing each piece. Also, being in the lead, made me want to keep going because I wanted a second Derby hat.

To give you some back story, for years I knew about the Derby 50k but I could never make it work with my Thanksgiving schedule. Then, 4 years ago, things fell in to place. I went and came home with my first Derby hat. Over the last couple of years a friend of mine picked up a couple of Derby hats for himself. This year my schedule again fell in to place and I headed back to see if I could perhaps grab a 2nd hat. In deed, I did. I am sporting my latest Derby hat while writing this post.

As I wrap up this post, I cannot say enough about the Magnum Track Club, Mark, and his team of volunteers. Saturday was miserable for the runners, but I can only image what it must have been like for the volunteers supporting us along the course. My hat is off to them along with a heart felt thank you for giving of your time to help us runners.

Oh, and before forget the local Jones Church puts on a spaghetti dinner complete with deserts. They had banana pudding. When the lady found out that I liked banana pudding, I had to literally tell her to stop piling it on my plate, and it was GOOD!!!. Your entry in the race gets you a meal afterwards. You can literally finish and walk in the door to eat.

If you ever get the chance, I highly recommend checking out Mark's Derby 50k. It is always the Saturday after Thanksgiving. I promise – you will not regret it.

1st overall in 3 hours 55 minutes and 40 seconds. 

Happy Trails,

The Cool Down Runner

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Lake Norman Turkey Trot 10k Recap 11/22/18

A several weeks ago, I was thinking about my to-do list for Thanksgiving Day. I quickly realized that I needed my run to be early. To motivate myself to get moving, I decided to sign up for the Lake Norman Turkey Trot 10k. The race is close to my house. The course isn’t overly difficult. But truly, the reason for me signing up was the 7:15 start time. 7:15 forced me to get out of bed and moving early. Plus, I would be finished with running before 8 AM.

I was cold walking to the front of Golds Gym to pick up my packet. The sun was still nearly an hour from coming over the horizon. The 34 degrees still bites.

As I getting ready to head out for my warmup, I ran in to a running buddy’s son. Jeff and I have run off and on over the last 20+ years. We spent more than a few of those years racing one another. Now, his son, Beck, is turning out to be a chip off the old block. He was out fast from the start, and he would go on to run 35:01. He took home the win besting me by nearly 3 and ½ minutes.

With Beck pulling away quickly, I settled in to a comfortable pace and focused on running smooth, even miles.

I completed the first lap in 19:05. The second lap, I would slow a bit but not as much as I thought. My legs didn’t feel fluid. More so, they felt like they tying up. Still, 19:20 was pretty good for me.

I was second overall male today.

These Epic guys do an okay job with their races. There are few thinks that I would suggest if they asked, but one a whole, if you have a busy Thanksgiving Day planned and want to get in a race, this could be the one for you.

Happy Trails,

Cool Down Runner

Friday, November 16, 2018

Yes, Virginia, There is a Sun

Ok, after days and days of overcast skies and more than a few rain drops falling not mention cold temps, I was ready for a change. This morning, I walked down my driveway, looked up, and I saw this strange yellow round glowing object in the sky. I had nearly forgot what it looked like.

So, yes, Virginia, there is a Sun up there.

Happy Trails,

The Cool Down Runner

Wednesday, November 14, 2018


I don't know about you but I am ready for Mother Nature to string together several days of dry weather. The cold doesn't really bother me, but the rain can down right chill me to the bone. Based on what the weather man keeps telling, I am not going to see anything in the way of sun until possibly Saturday and hopefully Sunday.

Hey, for those that are worried about drought condition in the Charlotte area, I can only assume that we are well on the surplus side. Just saying.

Happy Trails,

The Cool Down Runner

Sunday, November 11, 2018

32 Consecutive Years of Running

The latter part of October, I crossed the 32 year milestone of running day after day. I wish I could say that I did something special, but I didn’t. I got up, stretched, and headed out the door. I crossed off another day of running and went on with my day.

When other runners learn of my streak, one question frequently tops their list. How do I do it?  For lack of a better answer, I tell them that I don’t think about it. I just go do it. If I took the time to think about it, I might talk myself out of it.

That’s my best advice to anyone. If there is something that you want to do, don’t think about it. Just say, “I am going to do it” and let nothing else interfere with your efforts to do it.

Happy Trails

The Cool Down Runner

Thursday, November 8, 2018

WWC Shot in the Dark 10 Recap 11/2/18

This past Friday night, I headed to the WWC for their Shot in the Dark 10k night race. Of the things gave me pause about this race was the recent rain over the last 24 to 48 hours. In fact the trails at the WWC had been closed much of the week because of the rain. This meant that the trails would be leaf covered and slick.

On my warm up, I found this pretty much to be true.

Both 5k and 10k races start at 7:15 so darkness is well underway. I was sporting my double head lamp combination – wearing one on my head and one at my waist. Going around the channel, the runners were stringing out pretty good. I was thank for this because it was going to allow us to enter the trail without being all jammed up.

I had opted for my trail shoes over my normal racing flats. I hoped that they would give me better traction.

I never went down but I did hit more than a few slick spots. With the leaves covering the trail and everything being wet, I found the trail a bit more difficult to follow in sections.

Given these conditions, I found myself holding back more than usual. To me it was more important to prize my neck over my pace.

After the race I talked to several runners that had gone down. Some of them went down several times. One was even stepped on by another runner.

I placed 10th overall in a time of 48:24. This placed me first in my 50-54 age. Surprisingly, my time as more than 3 and ½ minutes faster than last year. Then, last year, this was really my first night trail race. I had no experience and by in large felt like that I spent most of my time avoiding running in to the trees.

Interestingly, the women made a strong showing on this night. They took the first and 3rd spots overall. I am glad to see this, and I wish more of this happened. I feel like there are a lot of strong and fast women that hit the trails around Charlotte. Hopefully, this strong showing will inspire more of them to come out.

With the arrival of November, I have a few more races on my calendar before I close out ’18. Two will be on the roads, and I plan to close out the year with the WWC 5k in December. Closing out the year with a trial race just like I started the year only makes sense.

Happy Trails,

The Cool Down Runner