Sunday, December 30, 2018

Planning my '19 race calendar

For the last month, I have been looking at my spring '19 race calendar. Two races that I wanted on this calendar were the Hot Chocolate 15k and the Start 2 Finish Trail race When I started lining up the dates, I suddenly realized that when the Hot Chocolate 15k shifted their race date to January, they overlapped with the Start 2 Finish/Charlotte Running Company Trail races at the Whitewater Center. This was a major disappointment to me since I wanted to do both races as I had done in '18.

So I had a decision to make. I could run either the Hot Chocolate 15k or the Start 2 Finish Trail race. I really liked doing the Hot Chocolate race but equally, I enjoyed knocking down the trail miles at the Whitewater Center.

Ultimately, the decision came down to who do I want to support. Do I want do support a local business vs. visiting business? Jenn and Donny are huge supporters of our local running events so my decision was a no brainier.

I signed up for S2F Trail race. I feel like that I would be remiss as a responsible runner if I didn't support businesses that provide us with so many opportunities to race.

I am still disappointed that both races ended on the same day and hope next year, they will figure out a way to separate them out to different weekends. For now, I am happy with my decision.

For those facing this same dilemma, please consider supporting those businesses that support our local running events. Without these business, either the entry feeds would be enormous or these events would not be possible.

Happy Holidays

The Cool Down Runner

Friday, December 28, 2018

Looking back '18

I rolled into the '18 with one thought nagging me. Did I want to do the Whitewater Center's 50 miler? Adam had planted the seed to do it in the fall of '17 for the WWC race but the question still lingered should I run their 50 mile race; could I run 50 miles. The furthest that I had run was a 50k and while 50 miles is only 18 miles further. It is still 18 miles further and 18 miles further than I had ever run.

In some ways my entire year was tailored around getting myself to this one race.

I started the year with the S2F 13 mile trail run at the WWC. I finished 8 overall on a soggy and in some places snow covered course. From there, I hit the Hot Chocolate 15 and placed 7th overall. I liked this race. I love Chocolate so this race was right up my ally. Next up I knocked off two 10 milers. The Charlotte 10 miler was fun, and I surprised myself with a 61:14 time. A couple of weeks later I won the Gateway Trail 10 miles in 65:42.

Two weeks later, I ran the New South Trail Marathon at the WWC. I caught Nathan and another guy on the back half of the first loop, and I ran as if my hair was on fire in hopes that no one would catch me. I won the race in 3 hours and 50 minutes.

4 weeks later, I pulled on my On racing flats to run the Christina Latini 8k race. Again, I surprised myself with a 30:01 time to win the race.

At this point, I quietly focused my energies toward running the 50 miler. I keep my long trail runs at 22 to 24 miles, and I committed to doing them every weekend.

A long the way, I signed up for the entire season of Thursday night River Jam 10ks. Andrew and I had a back and forth battle all year.

My Memorial Day 8 mile went well. I had hopes of breaking 60 minutes but ended up with a 61:02.

Knowing that I needed to run longer races in prep for the 50 miler, I went against norm and signed up for 50ks in the summer time.

The last of June I ran the Easter Divide 50k. I finished 10 overall in 4 hours and 33 minutes. While I looked at the course map and read the description of the course, it didn't prepare me for what I encountered. I walked, climbed, and scaled sections of the course. This is the one race I would like to do again because I feel like I could run it faster now that I know course.

Roughly, two weeks later I headed for the Big Butt 50k in Lancaster on the 4th of July. I cannot think of anything more crazy than attempting a 50k in July in South Carolina. It was hot. My right hamstring cramped up with about ¾ of mile left in the race. It brought me to a walk. I don't know what I was thinking about sticking to an entirely water diet for the race, but it was a lesson learned. I never ran a long run after it without mix Nunn tablets in to my water, and I never had incident of cramping not even in the 50 miler.

Probably my most humbling run was the Stevest 50k. Well, I thought it was a 50k but we did 3 loops of 14 miles so let's just say it was closer to 42 miles than 31 miles. I ran okay for the first 2 laps, but they wiped me out. I knew that I needed energy, and I was eating tons of food. It took an hour before I felt like run walking again. I finished the course because I wouldn't let myself in think of quitting. It was another powerful lesson in prep for my 50 miler. I credit Martin for his willingness to help me get my race day diet on track.

I have always been of the mind set that I could not eat much more than Gels during race, but after working with Martin, I found that I could actually stomach more than I thought.

In August, I ran the WWC's Tread Nightly and Tread Brightly races. In truth, I was more interested in the Tread Nightly because I wanted to experience some night time miles on the trails in prep for the 50 miler. I finished 5th on in the Nightly ½ marathon and then 3rd in the Brightly ½ marathon 12 hours later. I ran well enough that I finished 2nd in the Treadminister category which scores runners across all of the events.

I started September with the WWC's Labor Day 15k. I finished 3rd overall in 71:53.

A week an half later I finished up my final River Jam 10k by running 45:24 which matched my fastest time from May.

A week later, I ran the Wild Vine ½ marathon. Ugh, was this race hot. The start time was 9:30, and I was hot by 3 miles. I suffered the rest of the way to finish in 1:52

Three weeks later, I quietly setup my chair and cooler for the WWC's 50 miler. I was excited and scared at the same time. I had run the course numerous times, so I knew what to expect. However, I had never ran the full distance. This was the day that I would put all of my training to the test.

The race started at 5 AM, and we immediately jumped right on to the trails. No warm up for those of us that need it. I found myself in 2nd place as the lead guy pulled away in to the night. I wasn't even sure that I should be in 2nd place. I wanted some one else to lead us out.

About 3 miles in to the event and in front of 5 or 6 guys, I rounded a turn, planted my right foot, and promptly went down. Without thinking I jumped right up. I wouldn't realize until some 8 hours later that I blood had run down from my knee.

Justin and I run together and back and forth during the first lap. On the 2nd lap, I caught him going out on the Thread Trail.

I got by him at one of the water stops, and this was last that I had anyone around me. I saw Chris finishing up the 50k when our two trails came together. Otherwise, except for catching a few runners I was solo. I guess it isn't surprising how much we get spread out over an 18 mile course.

On the last lap, I broke the lap in to chunks. First, there was the lower Thread Trail. Then, I moved to North Main and South Main. I completed Goat and Toilet Bowl. Last but not least, I was did East Main. Here, I broke it down in to even smaller sections. Each mile that passed, I felt more confident that I would finish, but I wasn't totally certain until I came out of the last trail section.

I crossed the finish line, and Jenn handed me my 50 miler belt buckle. I felt an enormous sense of satisfaction. I finished 2nd overall and ran just over 9 hours and 50+ minutes. I had erased all of the linger questions in the back of my mind about doing it.

A week later, I strapped on my racing shoes to finish 2nd in the Trick or Trail race in Gastonia. Two weeks later, I finish 10 overall in the WWC's Shot in the Dark 10k. Last year I ran this race and couldn't wait to finish it. I wasn't sure if ever wanted to run another night race. This year I was several minutes faster on a soggy, muddy trail and thoroughly enjoyed it. 

I like to end the year by running at least one Turkey Trot race and Christmas race.

This year I jumped in the Lake Norman 10k, and I finished 2nd to Beck. Beck has come a long ways from a few years ago. I remember running with him and his dad. He has gotten bigger, stronger, and much faster. I am impress by how much he has improved. I know if he keeps running that he is going to get even better.

Two days, later, I headed over to Derby, NC for the Magnum Track Club's Derby 50k. Mark and his crew always put on some great races, and I always enjoy every opportunity that I get to run with them.

However, this was day was a tough one. The temperatures was in the low 30s, the wind was blowing, and the rain was coming down. I was soaked by ½ mile. At one point, my hands were so cold that I could not move my fingers, and the wind chilled my quads to the point that they ached. I am not sure if it was a blessing or a curse but after ¾ mile, I took off on my own. I ran the next 30+ miles solo. Numerous runners bailed before the start, and more bailed during the race. In truth, I wanted to bail myself but I don't know if it was pride, determination, or just plain stupidity but I would not allow myself to stop. I wanted that Derby hat to complete my set. 3 hours and 55 minutes I completed my journey for the win.

Three weeks later, I finished my '18 racing season at the WWC's Santa, We believe 5k. Charlotte had been inundated with rain this fall, and this was day was no exception. The course was muddy, slick, and had plenty of standing puddles. I went slip sliding my way through it to a 5 overall place.

'18 turned out to be a pretty good year. I challenged myself with some different types of races and different distances. In a few I struggled but most I came through fairing pretty well.

I can only hope that '19 and the years to come provide me with the same type of challenges and the same sense of satisfaction.

Happy Holidays,

The Cool Down Runner

Thursday, December 27, 2018

New Equipment at the Y

After a week long vacation, I headed back into the Y last Monday. I was strolling along to my favorite stair master when I noticed something different. They had rearranged the machines. Every few months the powers that “be” move the machines around. At first, I thought this was just to shake up the people using them but on second thought, I suspect that this is their way of cleaning up the dust and dirt that builds up around.

However, as I peered closer, I noticed that not only were the machines rearranged, but they were also different weight machines.

I like it when they get new equipment, but I am always disappointed too. Each time that they do this, they usually swap out the machines that work well for runners. I would love to know what criteria is used to select the new machines. May be some day I will ask them.

For now, I will adjust my work out circuit to include all of these new machines. And, here's hoping this little shake up will shake me up to running better i.e. faster in '19

Happy Trails,

The Cool Down Runner

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Wilderness Lodge

So with my racing season wrapped up for '18, I headed south for a few days of warm temperatures and some much needed fun and downtime.

We left Sunday morning at 3 AM, and I was setting by the Wilderness Lodge pool by 12:30. After shaking off the drive, I can a chance to run some miles at a warmer temperature. I cruised through the Wilderness Lodge grounds, and then I picked up the New Balance Trail over to Fort Wilderness Camp Grounds. I got a chance to cruise along the beach, along their dirt trail, and through the camp grounds. Pretty cool to see how they decked out their campers with holiday decorations. I saw one camper that must have had 100 inflatable Mickey's. It was quite a sight to behold.

Later in the afternoon, and evening we cruised by boat over to the Magic Kingdom resorts to check out their ginger bread houses. The Contemporary Result had an alright ginger bread house, but the one at the Floridian resort is pretty awesome. Lots of people were stopping in to see it.

The Wilderness Lodge had some awesome decorations as well. They had one of the largest indoor trees at Disney. We had our picture taken in front of it.

We took the bus to downtown Disney, and boy was it busy. We did the Wreckin' Ralph 3d adventure at The Void. We did the Star Wars version during our past visits so we opted for the Wreckin' Ralph encounter this time. I believe that I enjoyed it more than the Star Wars adventure.

Monday, I was up at 6 AM for a few miles before heading to the Hollywood Studios. Tuesday, we were off to the Magic Kingdom. We spent the day riding and seeing shows, and we stayed the evening for the Mickey's Merry Christmas party which was pretty cool. Everyone should do this at least once. They provide snacks all evening, different shows, and an awesome fireworks.

Wednesday, we were off Animal Kingdom. We stood in line for for 2+ hours for the flight of passage which I guess wasn't bad since at one point the line was close to 4+ hours. We were there and in line before the park opened. People absolutely flock to this ride. Later, we did the Na'vi River Journey, the Dinosaur ride, Everest, and the Safari ride after sunset. Anyone visiting Disney's Animal Kingdom needs to do the night time Safari ride. The animals tend to be up and moving especially the lions.

Thursday, we headed for EPCOT. This day was a wet one. The rain was absolutely coming down. My shoes were soaked, but we were not deterred. With rain pouches, we kept going. The crowds were staying away and most of Disney's rides at EPCOT were inside so we road and rode and rode some more.

The rain slacked off in the evening so we decided to park hop over to the Hollywood studios where we rode the Slinky Dog, Toy Story, Aliens, and Tower of Terror. We finished off the evening by seeing Fantasmic for the second time this week.

I had no trouble falling in to bed each night. In fact, with in minutes of my head touching my pillow, I was a sleep until my alarm sounded.

Friday, we hit the stores of downtime Disney for one last time before heading home.

As my daughters get older, I treasure each of these adventure more than ever. I know before long that they will have families of their own, and hopefully, they will continue to find their way down main street at the Magic Kingdom for years to come.

Happy Trails,

The Cool Down Runner

Saturday, December 15, 2018

Santa, We believe 5k Trail race

For the 2nd straight year, I finished up my racing season at the US Whitewater Center's Santa, We believe 5k trail race.

This year the course was a bit different and had a lot more water on the trail. I spent a lot of time slipping and sliding along the way to a 6th place finish in a time of 21 minutes. I didn't fall down but it was not for a lack of trying. More than a few runners were not so lucky. They crossed the finish line with a rear covered mud.

Going in to this race, I knew I was going to be out of shape, and I was a bit worried about my hamstring. Racing doesn't do it any favors, and the slippery conditions are not exactly ideal for a weak hamstring. Luckily, I came through with no issues. In a few weeks, I should be back to my regular miles and soon - crossing fingers - long runs.

Felt good finishing up my season.

Now, rest for next two weeks.

Happy holidays to all of you.

The Cool Down Runner

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Wintery Run & more

As the wintery weather rolled across Charlotte today, I couldn't resist the opportunity to knock out a 10 mile run. At first, the snow blew across my face making for a picture perfect view. Soon this transitioned to a pounding of ice pellets against my rain jacket. Four miles in to my run, a steady down pour of rain took the place of the ice pellets. The road were a snowy slush if I were running in the tire tracks. Outside of those tracks, however, I was trudging along more than running. I had opted for my trail shoes in hopes that they would provide a some small amount of traction. Hard to tell if they were really helping. My gloves grew wet, and my fingers were cold. The last 2 miles, my fingers were felt numb if one could consider numb as a feeling.

I did do a good deed today during my run. These two had their car cross ways in the road, and they were going no where fast. One of the guys crawled out, and together we pushed the car in the right direction. Not the workout that I expected what left my front door. Still, this made for an interesting experience. 

They thanked me for helping, and I told them that I was happy to help. The wintery weather is tough on us all.

Hopefully, everyone enjoy the snow today and is now safely tucked in their homes tonight.

Happy Trails,

The Cool Down Runner

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

WWC Series Meeting

On Tuesday night, I got the chance to attend the Whitewater Center’s race series meeting. Jenn and Jenny, yes, the two women leading the Whitewater Center race series have nearly the same name, asked a group of us that frequent the center’s events to provide some perspective on the ’18 events and to listen in on the events that they have planned for ’19.

Having been on the race director side fence more than a few times, I can identify with some of the issues that they have encountered. I can also speak to the eminence satisfaction that comes with putting on a well-run event.

Their enthusiasm for what they have planned for the ’19 spread throughout the group. I found myself thinking ahead to how I might get even more of their events on my race calendar.

One of the events that jumps out is their Tuck Fest weekend. Events start on Thursday and run through Sunday. Runners get a chance to do races at night, twice day on a week day, and both Saturday and Sunday. Think of it like a mini version of the Disney Dopey Challenge.

If you get a chance, definitely check out their race schedule for ‘19. If you have not already done so, their Santa 5k Trail run is just over a week away. Registration is still open

Happy Trails

The Cool Down Runner

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Stepping over the edge,

So last Sunday, I went for my run. Other than being tired from the Derby 50k, I didn’t notice anything special during the run. Monday, I headed out for my run, and my hamstring wasn’t having any of it. I had to break off my run after just a few miles.

Tuesday, my run wasn’t much better. Neither was my run on Wednesday or Thursday. I was feeling a bit sorry for myself on Friday. I was back and forth on whether I was going to the Y for a workout. I hadn’t been all week. At the last possible second, I forced myself out the door.

The workout was just what I needed to shake me out of my funk. After the workout, I was back home icing my hamstring. Also, I had pulled out my 2XU compression shorts to help. I hadn’t worn them in the last couple of years. Now, wearing them felt like the right thing to do.

Sunday, my hamstring felt much better. I can feel the weakness while running, and there is still a sore spot to the touch.

I kept my mileage down in the meantime.

Too often, I have pushed through the pain. This resulted in my hamstring pain dragging out for months. Hopefully, I am learning from my mistakes.but each day is a new test.

The Cool Down Runner