Saturday, September 21, 2019

Table Rock Ultra 50k

Today, I ran the Table Rock Ultra 50k at the Steele Creek Camp ground just above Morganton. This was a tough race on me. I finished in 6 hours and 15 minutes and 34th overall. I didn’t do as well as I wanted but I achieved both of my goals. I got in a tremendous climbing, and I brought home an awesome hooded pullover shirt.

My plan was to go up last night, but I had to work late. I couldn’t see myself driving up to arrive around 8:30 PM. Then, setup my tent in the dark only to pull it down by 6 AM this morning. I opted for just getting up early and driving up this morning.

The race started at 7 AM so navigating the trails were a bit rough during the early pre-sun rise miles. Then, the course opened up to a grassy road for about 3 miles. This was followed by a gravel road for several more miles until we finally picked up some trail miles. Here’s where we started the stream crossings. The water was cold. Really cold.

They did a pretty good job marking the course with blue ribbons. I only got turned around once, and I back to tracked to the last ribbon. I then did a 180 sweep of the trail and spotted the next one for crossing the stream.

About 10 miles, we popped out on another gravel road for some good climbing and some good descending. About 17 miles, we started the climb up to Table Rock. This part of the trail was toughest. I pretty much power hiked this section as best that I could to the top. I have to say that the view from the top was spectacular. My race was already a struggle so I took the moment to take in the view. I have to learn to enjoy these moments.

A bunch of runners took advantage of the downhill and rolled by me. Maybe I could have run a little faster during this section but the risk vs. reward wasn’t there for me. I have bigger races coming up, and turning ankle, breaking a leg, or worse was not worth it for me.

After the Table Rock climb section, we ran another trail section before picking up the gravel road back to the final aid station. Here we had a few more stream crossing but the cold water felt great on tired and hot feet. Hurting the runners, the sun was now out strong and heating everyone up. The last 5 miles roasted everyone.

I was happy when I finally popped out on the final section back to the finish. I could now relax and forget about any more roots and rocks to the finish.

Coming in to the race, they sent several emails. They talked about how tough back country trails were, and they talked about the potential for bees on the course. Yeah, some their trails were highly technical, but I never saw any bees. Thankfully, I never got stung.

Outside of the 4 mile out and back climb to the top of Table Rock, the majority of the course is runnable. The stream crossings are what they are. Just slow down and wade across to the other side. But be prepared to do some climbing. There is a lot of it.

Kickin’ up trail dust,

The Cool Down Runner

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

12K Days

I recently passed another running milestone - 12 thousand consecutive days. As thought about it, I wondered when I would pass 20k. So after some rough math, looks like I will be pass the 20k mile stone in Sept of 2041 or I have just over another 21 years of running.

Let's hope that I am still putting one foot in front of another in 2041.

Kickin' up trail dust,

The Cool Down Runner

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

When the fatigue catches up to me

I had just finished running 50 miles this past Sunday, and after a few minutes of talking the others around the finish line, I slowly made my way back to my car.

At that moment, I didn't feel too bad.

Then, I set down, and I took a deep breathe.

Suddenly, like an ocean wave breaking through a retaining wall, a wave of fatigue sweep over me. I felt tired all over.

I knew that I was tired running but I didn't really feel it. I was so focused on the race that the feeling of fatigue stayed at a distance.

Looking down at my legs now, a realization set in on me. I am really, really, really tired.

Then, even more daunting thought entered my mind. If I felt this tired after running 50 miles, what would 100 miles be like.

For the next 8 weeks, I can only imagine what this feeling might be. Then, I will know for sure. The butterflies are already churning in my stomach. I still am wondering what I signed myself up for.

Kickin' up trail dust,

The Cool Down Runner

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Mountaineer Rumble 12 Hour Race Recap

Just a few hours have passed since I finished this race, and I am setting here linking my wounds. I had 3 hard falls last night. Two, I walked okay with just some bruises. However, the 3rd fall left a nice scrap down the left side of my face. Seems that I am going to have scars on both my knees and my face.

Several ultra-runners recommended that I do a night time run in my prep for my 100 miler later this year. This race gave me this opportunity.

Having never run a timed event I had no idea what to expect.

The race started at 8 pm, and I would be for the most part running trails that I had never seen. Also, I had decided to go with just one head lamp vs. the normal two head lamps that I wear. This is my plan during my 100 miler. May be not my wisest decision given the technical nature of this trails.

I went through 22 miles in a little over 4 hours. I went through 30 miles under six hours. However, I was finding that as my fatigue grew, my ability pick up the subtle changes in the terrain was getting worse. This is when my first two falls happened. Then, I after the 3rd fall, I just slowed the pace way down. This really helped. Then, I would only run aggressively on the smoothest sections. Of which, there were few.

This course had more than its fair share of roots, rocks, and creak crossings. I remember on the first lap. I was rounding a corner to a creak and found these 4 widely spaced stepping blocks. I think that it was 8 or 9 more laps later before I started to manage them easily.

Going in to this race, I wondered if I would be watching the clock since this was a time event. This turned out to be a non-factor. I was so focused on the trail and the runners around me that the time just seemed to fly by.

Looking back now, the best part of the race was the last 45 minutes. My entire night was spent looking through the telescopic view of my head lamp. I had no idea what was round me. Then, the sun came up, and I could see the world around me. Even better, I could turn off my head lamp and get back to running hard.  

Kudo to Chris for a well-run race. The course was well marked. He laid all the logistics out for us so all we had to was arrive, setup our stuff, and run.

On a personal note, I got my goal of 50 miles in 11:35:57, placing 3 overall, and 2nd male. The men’s and women’s winners ended up running 1 more lap than I did. Big kudos to them for handling this course so well.

Kickin’ up the trail dust.

The Cool Down Runner

Saturday, September 14, 2019

WWC River Jam – September Edition

Thursday night, I ran the last of the 5 race WWC River Jam series. And, boy was it hot. My car showed a temperature of 97 degrees. Breathing in only added to the feeling of shearing heat. Sweat ran down my arms walking over to pick up my race bib. To my knowledge, this was probably the hottest race that I have run in the series ever.

My legs were still feeling the effects of walking the many Disney miles so I was probably a little slower than usual going out the first couple of miles. Yet, I was still passing other runners who seemed to be welting in the heat.

Usually, once under the foliage of the trees the temperature drops. None of this was happening today. Heat engulfed us, and worse, there was no breeze. Sweat ran off my skin faster than I was running. Hoping for any reprieve at all, I would take water at the aid stations to dump over my head. For a few moments, I admit I felt somewhat better.

Avery was catching me as we finished off the Lake Loop, and he passed me while crossing the parking. In the last few races of the series, Avery has been putting on a strong finish. Usually, he catches me in the middle of the final mile.

I crossed my finish line in 47:58, finished 4th overall, and first in the 50+ age group. I stopped and put my hands on my knees to just steady myself. My legs felt totally wasted.

Looking back, I was really happy with my effort. I battled the heat, humidity, and leg weariness, and I was still faster than in August during my big training block.

For those of us that completed all 5 races, the WWC gave each of us this nice scarf. I really appreciate the gesture. Although, it is a bit funny to be handed this nice heavy winter scarf on day when the temperature is well over 90 degrees. It will be a while before I use it. 

Another unexpected yet awesome award, I finished 3rd in the 10k series standing. For this, they gave the top 3 men and women branded WWC backpacks. Definitely, this turned to be a good evening to visit the WWC.

I highly recommend their series so put it in your calendar for next year. Races kick off the 2nd Thursday each month May through September. After the race, stick around to have some food and listen to some awesome music. 

Kickin’ up the trail dust,

The Cool Down Runner  

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Are those Hokas that you are wearing

I was strolling up Sunset Blvd at Disney's Hollywood Studios Park this past weekend when we decided to get our picture taken by one of the photo pass photographers. She must have taken note of my shoes because she asked if I liked them.

Like them; I love them. Going to Disney is like walking a 1/2 marathon every day. Wearing a good pair shoes means the difference between wanting to leave early and staying to the very last minute.

Apparently, she had order herself a black pair of Hoka similar to the ones that I was wearing. I told her that they were awesome. I wouldn't wear anything else at Disney. Hopefully, she finds her experience the same. I can only image what it is like to spend 8 hours taking pictures on the hot Disney asphalt.

Kickin' up the trail dust,

The Cool Down Runner   

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Black Diamond 375 Lumens Head Lamp – follow up

A while back I wrote about buying a new 375 Lumen Black Diamond head lamp. During the Tread Nightly race, I got a chance to put it through a full field test.

Am I satisfied with the results? Well, yes and no. Does this light put out some serious light? Yes, it does. Does it burn through batteries like a Hummer burns gasoline? Totally, so.

Before the race, I put in fresh batteries. I checked to ensure that the light worked, and then I turned it off until race time. Just before the start, I tuned it on and turned it up to full brightness. For the next 2 hours and 11 minutes, I made my way through the woods and back to the finish. Some 2 hours and say 15 minutes after turning it on, the lamp dimmed down and within 30 seconds later went out. I felt a sinking feeling as it happened, but I was so glad that I had finished.

I find the older 300 lumen modal on full brightness gives me hours more of light. When running at night, having a light that has some staying power is a must. I just don’t trust this new modal for anything more than a short run.

If anyone is planning on upgrading, plan on keeping a large pack of triple A batteries handy. It takes 4 at time.

Kicking the up the trail dust,

The Cool Down Runner  

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

52 Mile effort

Labor Day last year, I went for a 45 mile run. This Labor Day, I had even bigger goals in mind – 52 miles.

I hit the trails at 7 AM. The temperature were awesome, and I was rolling along. I wanted this run to be similar to how I thought that I would run my 100 miler later this year.

By 10 AM, the temperature pushed upwards of 90 degrees. Even in the shade, I was hot and drinking at every opportunity.

One realization that I have come to understand from this experience. Tailwind works wonders to keep me going through most of the day. However, after drinking it hour after hour, I find that I just want plain old water taste wonderful as it is. Also I found that I don’t like crossing Gatorade with Tailwind. By this, I mean; I don’t like going back and forth between the two. I get this awful acidic test in my mouth. Nothing but water seems to wash it away.

Between the heat and no air stirring, the feeling of being inside of an oven comes to mind. So much so, I had a steady stream sweat dripping from my hat. I struggled to eat my crackers and figs that I was carrying. They didn’t taste good. However, I did go through 3 packs of sports beans. Any that counter acted the taste of the Tailwind really seemed to help

As the afternoon pushed toward the evening I started to feel better and run stronger.

The one thing that tasted great throughout the day was the watermelon that I had stuff in my bag before leaving. I had planned it as an afterwards snack but I opened up the pack early in the run. It was a little piece of heaven each time that I passed by my car.

I pulled up to my car 12 hours and 30 minutes after starting. My Garmin was literally on its last power bar.  I looked down at my legs, and they were a dark brown with trail dust. I don’t know that I ever want to do a solo run like this again. It just a long time to be out on the trail by one’s self. Not the type training I am fond of doing.

Tail Dust Stories

The Cool Down Runner

Sunday, September 1, 2019

WWC Labor Day 15K Trail race recap

Today’s WWC Labor Day 15K race found some favorable weather conditions for runners, but it didn’t end without some controversy.

As we waited on the start, I was talking to a couple of runners from Greenville, SC. They had a big race coming up in a few weeks, and they were using this race as a tune up. One of the guys asked me about the course, and I gave him a quick breakdown. Then, I asked where he had been training which was at Parrish Mt. I told him that he wouldn’t find any hills here that matched up to the trail on Parrish Mt. but the trails here would roll him to do death.

We took off around channel and entered the North Main trail. One of those guys was gone. I settled in to 3rd place, and I began to open some distance on the guys behind me.

Coming down the Wedge, I heard the volunteers at the aid station talking with the leaders and guessed that they were about ½ mile or more ahead me.

I turned on the Lake Loop for the final section of the 15K. I know this trail well and could likely run it in the dark. At this point, I knew 2 runners ahead of me, and I couldn’t see anyone off to my right as I started these last 3 miles.

Rounding by the lake, I noticed one of the signs turned a bit straight up or say slightly to the left, but I didn’t think much about it. Like I said, I know this loop like the back of my hand.

I round the small lakes and did the back mile. Coming back by the lake, I suddenly see 2 guys coming at me which totally confused me. I thought that they were to the two leaders. I didn’t take notice of their faces just to two runners coming at me.

One asked me which way, and I indicated straight ahead, and to follow me.

I think that they were still confused but they did follow.

I came out the woods, and I saw another guy in front of me. I passed him as we went back in to the North Main trail behind the pavilion.

He was telling me that he was lost and had missed part of the course. I told him that I was headed toward the finish and to stay close.

I finished in 1:11:55, and according to the results, I finished 2nd overall and first in my age group.

After the race, I got the scoop on what happen. Apparently, these guys both in front and behind me took the arrow to literally. Instead of going around the lakes to the right as is normal, they went to the left. Both leader and 2nd place skipped the back mile so did several out runners.

They all self-reported ended up being DQ which was the right thing to do. However, I don’t think any of them was too happy about it. I totally understand their perspective. I have been put in the same situation a few times on a trail. Although, I have not been in this exact situation. In my experiences, I always back tracked to the point where I got off and went the other direction. The guy that had lead most of the race asked me if I was would have caught him, and I would not have. He would have had to slow to a walk before I could have caught by the finish.

Our markings conversations continued for quite some time. Another runner brought up the fact that WWC often has different color arrows directing runners along courses. He found the arrows confusing. This is something that I don’t understand. Before every race that I have run at the WWC, they tell us which color arrows to follow. Yes, runners will often see different color arrows along the course but they should follow the color that they are told.

By and large, the WWC does a pretty good job marking their trails. At the end of the day, we are still talking about a trail and no markings are totally perfect. The onus is still on the runner to pay attention to the course markings, and if you deviate from the designate course, return to the point of deviation to continue to course. If you end up cutting the course, then, a you should self-report.

Trail Dust tails.

The Cool Down Runner

Thursday, August 29, 2019

MorePro GPS Smart Watch

Recently, I became interested in monitoring my heart rate and sleep patterns at night. I wasn’t sure where this might lead me but I ended up with this MorePro GPS watch.

The watch has a decent profile to it. The watch interface is pretty straight forward. Configuring it required me to download their app. The app connects via standard Bluetooth to the watch. Syncing it is the same as any other syncing process, and it took me only a few minutes.

Once the watch is connected to Bluetooth, anytime I receive a message or phone call, the watch vibrates. Then it shows me the message or the phone number.

I get reminders to stand up, walk, or to just move if I have been setting for a while.

There are a ton of other features which I am still just figuring out. 

The display is off most of the time, and only when I roll my wrist inward does the display light up. I can also turn it on by pressing the hand side button.

The watch does do GPS tracking but I don’t recommend it. I went for a 4 mile run with it, and it burnt through nearly ½ the battery. The GPS was pretty accurate to my Garmin thou.

But to the real reasons that I bought it.

I found my sleep ranges between 7 and 8 hours per night. Nights when I go to bed by 10 PM, I tend to get a longer deep sleep. If my head doesn’t touch the pillow until midnight, I never get more than 15 minutes of a deep sleep. I have to believe that a deep sleep leaves me more rested. 

I also found while sleeping my heart dips below 60 beats per minute, and I have seen it go as low as 42 beats per minute.

As for what this all means, I am still working on this part. I am sure that I will be sharing more of findings. 

Trail dust tails,

The Cool Down Runner

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Tread Brightly Trail ½ marathon Race Recap

I pushed my Hoka blue feet back in to my Hoka Evos, and I headed toward the starting line to shake out my legs before race start.

Dark clouds and steady drizzle had settled over the area. On the other hand, the weather was much cooler than last night.

Looking around at the starting line, I only saw 3 blue bibs and lots of red bibs. Meaning, there were only 3 of us doing the double. The rest showed just to do the race this morning. I knew I was in trouble.

All of those fresh legs took off right from the start, and they gapped us by several hundred yards by the mile point.

Paul, Cody, and I settled in to a nice little group and were chatting back and forth to make the miles go by faster.

Cody picked up the pace heading in to thread, and soon just Paul and I were running together. By the time we reached the power line section the drizzle had turned to a steady down pour of rain. My legs felt heavy and slow despite the cooler weather.

Paul pulled away from me on the backside of the thread trail because I was having a bad spot during that section of the course. I grabbed some water at an aid which helped. With Paul out of sight, I was solo to the finish. . On top of the ridge of the North Main trail, I saw a couple of guys coming up behind me but neither caught me by the finish.

I finished 11th overall in 2:07:16. I am still puzzled how I ran nearly 5 minutes faster in this race when I actually felt worse. I really felt like I was running so much slower.

My 11th place finish put me first in my age but more importantly, I finished 2nd in the Treadmeister category. This is weighted category for runners competing on both days. Paul took home the first place in this division.

I really like these cool little challenges. They offer some different to the normal race routine. 

Lastly, kudos the WWC Race series crew. They dealt with some rainy and muddy conditions. Yet, they were out there with smiling faces to help each of us runners have a successful race. My hat is off to all of them.

Tail Dust Tails

The Cool Down Runner

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Rainy night camping at the WWC

With the Tread Nightly/Brightly races less than 10 hours apart, the WWC team makes an exception to their no camping policy and allows those running in either of the event to stay on the WWC grounds. I had enjoyed the experience so much that I did it again this year.

Check-in and my tent setup went by pretty quickly considering that I hadn’t had my tent out since last summer. New this year, I updated my camping amenities to include an air mattress. I even remembered to inflate it inside this tent when is a good thing. No way was it fitting through the opening.

Then, I headed off to get ready for the race.

That’s when the storms rolled in to the area.   

I didn’t make it back to my tent until after the race. Somewhere in the back of my mind, I was worried. I didn’t know what I would find. Worse case, I could bundle up my stuff and sleep in my car.

After a nice shower to clean off what felt like 10 pounds of mud, I grabbed my dinner, and I headed back to my tent. Side note here, I was running my Hoka Eva. I have never had this happen before but my shoes so soaked that the blue Hoka colored dye went through my socks and colored my feet. Like I said, I have never had this happen before.

Getting back to my tent, I peeled back the opening and peered inside. Water had definitely gotten inside, but my stuff had been on my air mattress. It was pretty much dry. At least dry enough, I crawled inside and ate a quick bite before heading off the sleep.

I had forgotten that the how bright the lights around the channel can be. I also remembered how much people talking wakes me up at night.  I don’t know who the two guys were that were talking but I heard all about their race at about 2 am in the morning.

This was not my best night’s sleep ever but it was good enough to get me ready for the next day. I rolled out about 5:50 AM to a steady heavy drizzle of rain.

All my stuff was soaked so I basically rolled it into a ball and took it back to my car. I would worry about it after the race.

Later Saturday afternoon, I spent about 2 hours laying it out and drying it out off. Two days later, my tent was finally dry enough that I could put it away.

Would I do it again – even after this experience, yes, I love the idea of cleaning up after the race, eating, crawling right in to bed, waking up, and going racing again. Race, Eat, Sleep, Repeat. This is every runner’s dream

Tail Dust Tails

The Cool Down Runner

Monday, August 26, 2019

Tread Nightly Race Recap

I was just heading out for a couple of shake miles before WWC Tread Nightly Trail ½ marathon. For the last hour the dark storm clouds had been gathering in the distance. I wasn’t more than ½ mile in to my warm up when the clouds opened up, and the lightening lite up the sky followed shortly by the rumble of thunder through the trees. I dragged my rain soaked body back to my car to wait out the storm.

I crossed my fingers that at best the race would be delayed and hoped that the worst didn’t happen. That it would be canceled.

The rain slowed to steady pour, and the worst of the storm moved off in to the distance. All of us were on edge as we were about get dropped in to a super dark trail with nothing more than tiny head lamp to illuminate our way.

I pulled on my Hoka Evos which have some nice lugs on the bottom. I so hoped that they gripped the trail well.

From the start to the point where we enter the trail is only about 100 yards, but it was like going in to a room with the lights out. I could only see the small piece of real estate covered by my head lamp.

We moved to North Main, to Figure 8. Here we ran a small parking lot section over to Academy. I saw one guy go down just after entered Academy. Incidentally, I met 3 runners before the race that this was their first night and first trail race. I wondered later if they will ever come back.

The weather had settled in to a steady drizzle, and the runners were starting to string out now.

With each step, I was feeling better and better about my Evos grabbing the earth rather than slipping and sending me to the ground.

We crossed over the power line section and entered the recently reopened Thread trails. Now, they have connector under bridge to the trails on the other side of the road.

This was all a new course from last year. For the first time, we were racing on the Bandit and Panda trails.

I was now about an hour into this race. Between the drizzle and the heavy humidity, I was pretty much running through a fog.

Panda was nice change as it is all flat.

Water was running through the trails in sections, and mud was sticking to my shoes.

Climbing up the hills of North Main, I was feeling the fatigue. Probably the best moment was popping out along the channel for the final quarter mile to the finish. I could finally put the worry of falling behind me for the night.

I finished in 2:11:27 for 6 overall, and first in my age group.

This was probably the one the toughest race that I have done in a while. From the rain to the darkness to the slippery trails, to the heat and humidity, all of the runners faced some real challenges.

Kudos again to the WWC race staff. The rain didn’t make things easy on them either but they still put on a great race. Even bigger Kudos to the race volunteers that were enduring the late night conditions on the weather. They made this race possible so “Thank You”

Tail Dust Trails

The Cool Down Runner

Sunday, August 25, 2019

Crowders Mt. Visit

For a couple of weeks now, I have been thinking about putting some climbing stressors through my legs. The kind of climbing that has my heart pumping, and my lungs and legs burning. I guess what started me thinking along these lines was my Ruckus Right 25K a few weeks ago.  

This morning as I was nearing top of King Pinnacle, I felt my ears pop. For some reason, I always find this weird. One might think that hard breathing should equalize the pressure in my ears but apparently, this is not the case.

Anyway, I had just finished a steady climb of the Turnback Trail to King Pinnacle. Today, I decided to take the time and see the view from the top. The steps were an added bonus to my overall effort of the climb, and the view from the top was spectacular.

Furthermore, I could not have picked a better day for this run. At the top, the summer time temperature along with a cool gentle breeze felt awesome.

After taking in the view, I had back down to pick up the Ridgeline Trail. I would follow the Ridgeline Trail to Lake Montonia Rd.

Why just to here, well, this section has a nice set of stairs. There is no away around not using them on my climb back to the top. I turned at the road, climbed back to the stairs, and then I tackled the stairs to the top.

Let’s just say, I was well warmed up by now

Then, it was time to make the return trip back down Turnback Trail to the Crowders Visitor center. I did a quick refuel, and then I was off to run up the Pinnacle Trail back to King Pinnacle. According to the signs, Pinnacle is the longer route to the top but according to my Garmin, Pinnacle and Turnback are roughly the same length.

Runner looking to do purely running miles i.e. avoiding climbing through rocks should use the Turnback Trail. With the recent changes, while super steep in sections, the trail can be run.

Finishing my second accent to King Pinnacle, I was ready for the real climbing to begin by tackling the climbs to the top Crowders Mt.

I took the Crowders Trail which is about 3 miles over the Backside Trail. Then, I took Backside Trail to the top. Along the way, I passed more than a few people that were just figuring out the walk to the top was not as easy as it looks on the map.

The view from the top of Crowders was equally awesome, but it was also crowded. I didn’t spend too much time taking in the view here. I was getting in to the back half of my 22 mile run, so it was time focus on the business at hand.

I headed down Tower Trail at a full gallop. My quads were aching from the near constant impact. I was actually happy to find a few small climbs on this descent back to the Linwood Rd access point.

No resting in the parking, I turned right around and started my climb back to the top. Believe me, when I say, this was hard. I so wanted to walk in a few of the sections but I wouldn’t let myself. If I cannot do this in a training run, there is no way I could run something like this on race day. It felt so good to hit that last switch back before the top.

No wasting time now, I headed straight for the stairs leading to the Backside Trail. One might think that I would be fast descending these steps but they are uneven both in the width of the step and the height of the step. I had to focus hard on each step or risk taking a header on the way down. Not something that I wanted to even consider.

Once I was back on the trail, I followed Backside trail back to the Linwood Rd access again. This was be my final major climb of the day. Backside Trail is rugged and steep, but it is not nearly as long as the Tower trail. And, after climbing the Tower trail to the top, there was no way that I was going to allow myself to walk this section.

I now see why so many area runners seek out these trails. Mastering them make other hills around Charlotte look small.

My legs were tired but I focused on the thought that this was my major climb of the day. Somehow, this made it easier to accept the pain.

I touched the top and took in one last look around before heading back down. A quick turn back on the Crowders Mt. Trail, I knew that I was in my final miles now.

As one would expect, there is much climbing heading out on the Crowders Mt trail. Other than a few rollers and picking my way through a few rough sections, I had nice easy run back to the Visitor center.

All in all, I had great weather and an awesome training run. My legs may be sore for a few days but it was worth it.

Tail Dust Tails

The Cool Down Runner

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Always double check that course map

This weekend, I am running the WWC’s ½ marathon double header, Tread Nightly & Brightly. I enjoyed this race last year so much I decided to return again this year. The course layout was so engrained from my last year that I didn’t think to check the course map until last night. I was shocked to find that they had changed it. Other than a small section that we will do right around the pavilion, we will be running an entirely new course.

This year, we will hit Figure 8, Academy, Thread, Bandit, and Panda, back to Figure 8, to North Main until we turn off near the pavilion.

I didn’t realize yet that they had connected Thread to Bandit. This opens up a ton of possibilities for larger loops.

I excited to see what it like. Although, I am a little concerned about the footing. Fresh trails tend to be muddy. With the rain this week, I suspect that we will be hitting some slippery trails and at night.

I am already planning to use my Hoka trail shoes. I’ll be a little slower do to the weight of the shoes but I will definitely have better traction. This will be key. I suspect that I will see more than a few runners to go down tomorrow night.

Kicking up some trail dust,

The Cool Down Runner

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Nighttime trail run

Early last week, I reached out to Justin about running this past weekend. His email response didn’t surprise me.

“What time?”

I responded with “I am running Tread Nightly next Friday night so I can love to go early but if you want to avoid the spider webs, we can go later”

He came back with “5 AM?”.

“Yep!” I responded.

So Saturday morning, we were off at 5 AM for a bit of night time running. I was happy about getting another shake run with my new Black Diamond head lamp. I like running two head lamps: a head lamp on my head and at my waist. This gives me two perspectives which helps with my depth for the rocks and roots. This new head lamp kicks out 390 lumens but it a bit heavier since it needs a 4 batteries vs. 3 in the older model. I can live with the extra weight 

Wish me luck with Tread Nightly next weekend. It should be fun to kick up a little night time trail dust.

Kickin’ up trail dust,

The Cool Down Runner

Friday, August 16, 2019

Energy Boost

Later on during my long runs, I have noticed that my ability to focus starts to waiver. This isn’t so much that my body feels like it running out gas, but rather I start to feel mentally drained. Concentrating on the roots and rocks laying ahead for hours at a time takes its toll, I guess. To combat this, I added some watermelon sports beans to my pack. Something about popping one of the beans in my mouth to chew slowly starts my mouth salivating. In turn, this triggers a response in my brain that energy is coming, and within a few minutes I start to feel better. I noticed this during the Stevest Run and later at the Rivermen 50k run. Both times, I started chewing on the Sports bean. My brain just seemed to be re-energized.

It strange how the body reacts to the stress of running over long periods of time. Even stranger the tricks we play to keep ourselves going.

Tail Dust Comments

The Cool Down Runner

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Summertime Interval Training

Normally, my yearly training plans only include 3 interval sessions per year. The first session goes along with my spring marathon training. About 4 weeks later, I start a second session which leads me in to my summer racing season. I then don’t start my last i.e fall session until about 8 weeks out from my fall goal race.

This year, however, I decided to add a summer interval session. With all the ultra-miles going in to my legs, I need to keep my legs turnover up. My hope is that this would do it.

The one difference with this session, I am doing shorter intervals, and I increased the number of sets. With the heat and humid of the summer, I am finding that the short, intense intervals make the session feel more lively and quicker. The recovery portion of my intervals are equal distance to the distance of the interval itself. Since my focus here is solely around getting my leg turnover up, I feel like this is okay. I will focus more utilizing my intervals for fitness during my fall session.

I am also tacking on some strides at the end of my easy day runs. I usually do between 8 and 10 strides. Each runs about 30 to 50 meters.

For those runners considering a adding a summer interval session, this doesn’t have to match up with your spring and fall sessions. It just has to be enough to remind the body how running hard should feel.

Trail Dust Talks

The Cool Down Runner

Sunday, August 11, 2019

Training Blocks

If you have been following my posts lately, you are probably questioning the amount of race miles that I have been piling on my legs lately, and you would be right.

In the last 14 days from the Stevest 42 miler through my Crowders Ridgeline Ruckus 25K yesterday, I have been more active on the racing scene than I have been all year.

Stevest-ish is more like 43 mile started my efforts. Seven days later, the Riverman Brewery 50k didn’t give my legs any recovery. Five days later, I was running hard and sweating even harder at the Whitewater Center River Jam 10k on Thursday night. I finished my gantlet of racing with the Ridgeline Rucket 25K which pushed my quads and lungs to their max while climbing up and down from Pinnacle Rock twice. That’s like 95+ miles of racing.

I expected it to be hard, but somehow I think it exceeded my expectations. By the time that I ran the River Jam 10k, I had no bounce in my legs. Saturday at the Ridgeline Ruckus, I needed the tough course to equalize the abilities of the other runners because I only had one speed. It was low gear.

On the other hand, this was one of my best training blocks this year. I was getting what I think were quality miles. I would likely have not run that far or that fast on a solo training run. These races pushed me to dig a little deeper, and find that strength that I will need later this year. These races also made me focus more on my recovery, hydration, and nutrition. I have often marvel at Michael Wardian’s ability race, recover, and race again. He clearly has his body figured out. I am still figuring my body even after all these years of running.  

I have two more training blocks to complete before I start my taper in to my 100 miler in November. Wow, November seems so far away at this time but in reality, it is just 3 months away. Those 3 months are going to go by so fast. Before I know it, I am going to be standing at the starting line of my 100 miler, and wondering what I was thinking when I signed up for this. This thought is going to be closely followed by, I hope my training pays off.

Trail Dust Tails.

The Cool Down Runner

Saturday, August 10, 2019

Crowders’ Ridgeline Ruckus 25K Trail Race Recap

Pulling in to the Boulder Access parking lot of Crowders’ Mt State, I had just under an hour to get ready to run the Ridgeline Ruckus 25K. Normally, I like to arrive early so I can relax and get ready. However, this race was being held in a state park which didn’t open its gates until 7 AM. Everyone was in a bit of a rush to get ready.

We started from the grassy field next to the welcoming center. We ran around the building and up the concrete walkway to the trail. I settled in to the back pack and let the other runners surge head. We followed the access trail down to the Ridgeline trail. As we were running, I was already imagining what a bear this was going to be climbing back out at the end of the race.

The runners were stringing out in front of me. This section of course is pretty much a bunch of rollers, and while it has plenty of rocks and roots, it plenty wide for passing.

I wasn’t making a huge effort to surge forward. I was focused on the letting the course bring them back to me. All I wanted to do was just maintain a nice, steady pace whether I was running uphill, downhill, or on the flat. Although, there are not too many flats on this course.

Once the climbing started, I started moving up.

The stair section was just as I remembered. I caught up to one runner as we were nearing the top of the stairs. He was a much better descender. He quickly opened up 50 yards on me on the far side.

Crowders’ maintenance crew has made some changes to the trails, and they are now bring people in to the Turn Back Trail in a different spot.  They are also cleaned up the Turn Back Trail making it like a sky slope. If I had wanted, I would literally have sprinted down it. But there was no way that I was going to this. My quads would have been wasted.

I caught one guy on the decent, and I caught a 2nd runner at turn around at the main Crowders’ Mt. Parking lot. At this point, the climbing was starting to be an effort.

Turn Back Trail is tough climb, and on the return trip, we had to run all the way to the top Pinnacle Rock. This further was up the slope, and the further that I went, the steeper it got. My quads were truly burning when I hit their check point at the top. 

From there, I knew the path back to the finish. I had to really focus hard on the trail. My legs were tiring so I knew full well that I was one misstep away from a fall.

I passed back by the mid-way aid station. The sun had for the most part remained hidden, but it was still warm and humid. I kept sipping on my Tailwind from my CamelBak.

I was disappointed to loss my new buff. I had tied it to my CamelBak shoulder strap, but somewhere in the first couple of miles, I had lost it. I looked for it on the return trip, but I am guessing that someone took home a nice prize from the race. Luckily, I never needed it.

I think that I finished 3rd overall, and 2nd male. I didn’t get the entire story but from what I gathered, she was runner from Colorado. Like I said, I didn’t get the entire story. All I know is, both she and the top male runner ran the course like they were part Mt. goats.

I was happy with my time. I ran 2:31:45. It was a solid effort on a hot and humid day.

I also want to give a shout out to the designer of their awards. They have some nice wood burn plaques. I really liked it. It will have a nice place on my wall.

That’s it for this race. Time to get some rest and recover for what’s coming up next.

Tails from the Trail

The Cool Down Runner  

Friday, August 9, 2019

River Jam 10 – August Edition – The long slow fade

Last night, I was back racing their 2nd Thursday of the month River Jam 10k Series at the Whitewater Center. The heat and humidity was on everyone’s mind, and there was precious little shade near the start finish line.

Even thou, I went out in 7 minutes for the first mile, the trail was jammed full of runners in front of me. The trail are extremely tight during portion of the opening mile so this makes passing very difficult. I worked my way up to Andrew, and we ran together for the next several miles.

My legs didn’t feel great but they didn’t feel bad. Andrew had asked me how I was feeling before the race. I replied that I feel fine but I don’t know how my legs will feel until I get a few race miles under my belt.

I led us through the next several miles until we turned on to the Lake Loop. Normally, this is a section that I thrive. The trail is fairly open and makes for some fast running.

However, this night, I turned the corner, grab a cup of water, and dumped it over my head. Then, like a light switch the wind went out of my sails. Andrew pulled up and passed me. I was making every attempt to hang on to him. In fact, I feel like I was closing some on the long gradual uphill on the backside of the Lake Loop.

But once we turned the corner, he was gone. I could see the gap was growing, and it was all that I could do just to keep my legs turning over. It wasn’t that I was breathing hard. Rather, it was like all of the drive had left my legs.

For some reason, on this night the Lake Loop was jammed with other non-race runners and walkers. I ended up passing by so many people.

In fact, I didn’t even realize that another racer was catching me until we left the woods. Andrew had pulled well ahead by now. Not helping my motivation, this new guy was pulling away as well. My legs were not cooperating so there was little that I could do about it. Then, with maybe 200 yards left in the race, I got passed by yet another runner. I am afraid to look back for fear that there are a stream of runners catching me. I just focused on moving forward and hoped for the best.

I would cross the finish line in 48:35 so roughly two minutes slower than my races here over the last 3 months, and I would finish in 8th place. I felt hot, sweaty, and miserable. Even the cold water that I drank afterwards didn’t help make me feel better.

I went home, ate dinner, and crawled in to bed for a good night’s sleep. Knowing full well, the sun will come up tomorrow no matter how bad one day may be. With it is another opportunity to excel.

Tails from the Trail,

The Cool Down Runner


Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Running through the night

A few posts ago, I talked about sleep deprivation not being on my training radar for my 100 miler that is before another ultra-runner pointed in out to me. Since then, the thought of how to make this happen has been circling in the back of mind like a Disney song that I cannot get out my head.

I wondered if I should do this run from my house or should I perhaps run it on the trails. Mostly, just the thought of slugging along at 3 AM alone kept me looking for options.

This past weekend, I stumbled across a local 12 hour event. Normally, timed events are not something that I am interested in doing. For some reason, I like the idea of having a fixed distance where time is variable and not the other way around.  The time is fixed while the distance is the variable. I liken these type of races to watching a tea pot and waiting for it to boil.

However, in this case, I signed up for this one. I did it because this race goes from 8 PM to 8 AM. This was perfect for what I needed to do my sleep deprivation run.  I could pretty much be up all day, drive to the race, setup my camp, and then run through the night. Bonus, I would have some other runners to keep my company. The course is a little 4 mile loop so I have plenty of access to fluids and nutrition. This was an added bonus because I can test out some different foods to see how my tummy handles them.

Strangely for someone not normally interested in these type of events, I am kind of excited about it. It is kind of like a new adventure. Who knows where it will led.

So look for more to come on this adventure...

Tails from the trail,

The Cool Down Runner

Sunday, August 4, 2019

Monadnock Ultra

This December, Richard is growing his Monadnock Ultra in huge ways. Last year, he put on a 50k race at Crowder’s Mt. State Park. From the stories, it was a great success. This year, he is back and expanding it in to a 25, 50, and 100 mile races.

I bring this for two reasons.

First, I definitely want to give a shout out to his races. Richard does an awesome job organizing his races. His reputation is what brought me to the Riverman Brewing Company 50k. To find more information about his Monadnock race, use the following link.  Looks like he already has 16 for the 100, 18 each for 50 and 25 mile races. The website doesn’t say anything caps but I think that he has one for each event.

To continue my story, yesterday, he was telling us about his efforts for it. Specifically, he was telling us about the buckle for the Monadnock race. The 100 miler belt buckle is going to be massive. Something like 6 inches by 4 inches. In my mind, I think about those belts worn by professional wrestlers. They are massive. A runner could well need suspenders to keep the belt up.

But to my second reason for writing this, I felt like that he was pumping me up to run either the 50 or 100 miler. Now, in full disclosure, I have run these trails several times. I know that they are tough. Leaving from the Boulder access point, going up to Pinnacle by the Ridgeline trail, descending by the Crowders' Mt. Visitor center before climbing to the top of Crowders' Mt by the Backside trail before returning over Rocktop via roughly the same route back to the Boulder Access point is hard to do just once. I cannot see anyone wanting to do it twice. Let alone someone doing it 4 times. I don’t know for sure but this has to be something like 30,000 to 40,000 ft of climbing. However, the time limit for this race is just 30 hours. Honestly, he is not going to give away many belt buckles. I don’t think it is doable.

Making this race even harder, the race starts 10 AM. Unless, a runner can knock out the first loop in about 6ish hours, he or she is going to need a headlamp before he finishes it. Then, let’s add in the fact that it is December. The Charlotte area gets about 14ish hours of darkness each night so runners will be covering laps 2 and 3 in the dark and the December cold. I get scared crossing Rocktop in the daylight on a warm day. I don’t even want think about doing it twice in the dark in the winter.

Bring this to closure, when I finished the “The Stevest” race, I saw Dave. I asked why that he wasn’t out running. He told me that he knew his limits. I look at this Monadnock Ultra, and I realize it is beyond any type of challenge that I want to take on it. My training doesn't line up well for this type of challenge. I am okay with it. There are tons of races that are ridiculously hard. Runners sign up for them. They spend tons of money and time on the race only to DNF. It is just something that I am not interested. I don’t mind a hard race but I at least want to feel like that I have an opportunity to finish it. This one is just not for me, and I freely admit that I don't think that I am up to this task. There is no shame in admit it. We all have limits.   

Thoughts from the trail,

The Cool Down Runner

Saturday, August 3, 2019

Riverman Brewing Company 50K Race Recap

A few weeks ago, I got an email from the Dirty Wolf Ultra running race director, Richard that the Riverman Brewing Company had closed. However, Dirty Wolf Ultras doesn’t cancel their races because of sponsor closings.

Thus, I was toeing the line for a 50k race only a week after running the “The Stevest” 43 miler. Yeah, I know. The idea seemed like a good one months ago when I signed up, and the weather was cool. This morning, the temperatures was already in the mid 70s at race time, and the humidity had us soaked before we reached the first mile. The heat would rise in to the 90s by the time that I was in my closing laps. So no; it didn’t sound nearly as good today.

Going to the race, I thought that I had a pretty good race plan but it didn’t work out that way.

This 50k took place on the trails of Rocky Branch Park in Belmont, NC. Going to the race, I had no idea what the trail was like. I planned to just follow some others through the first lap. Richard has already been pretty good with his course markings so I didn’t expect to have any major concerns with getting lost.

For a 50k in summer trail race, I thought everyone was going out a little too fast. I settled in back in the pack. The leader was soon out of sight. A group of 5 or 6 of us worked through the first 3.2 mile loop. Finishing the first loop, our little group split up. Dave, a young guy running his second ultra, and I headed out together.

We did the next couple of loops together, but I was hot and my stomach was not feeling the best. I decided to make a quick stop at my car to refuel and load up on cold fluids.

Dave and the other guy pressed on with me trailing behind. I resisted the urge to surge back to them. However, the race was quickly turning in to a race of heat survival, and speed would tank my efforts.

I worked the laps, and later caught up to Dave. He was struggling a bit with the heat. After those first 5 laps, I stopped every lap to drink cool fluid and reload with ice. I also added some Sports Beans to nutrition.

This worked for me. My stomach settled down, and I found my groove. I did take one fall today, but this happened in some soft dirt. So no scrapes which is a good thing.

By lap 7, I had moved in 2nd place.

The twist and turns, ups and downs, were like being inside of a washing machine. On the back side course was only major hill on the course. As luck would have it, when the sun rose in to the sky, all of the shade disappeared from this hill. This made a difficult hill even harder.

At 5 laps or 25k, I had been roughly 2 hours and 48 minutes in to the race.  Some runner math told me that I was looking at 6 hours or more of running.

However, the fluids and ice were working for me. I was started churning out consistent laps. I had no idea how far the leader was in front of me. I assumed that he was still running well, and I expected him catch me.

After the race, I learned that I was cutting in to his lead with every lap. He had run strong over the first 5 laps. Perhaps, he ran too hard because he was slowing in the 2nd half.

But on this day, we would run out of course before I would catch him. He finished in 5 hours and 53 minutes while I finished 2nd in 5 hours and 58 minutes. I have total respect for his efforts. His game plan was to go out fast, and he made it work. At the end of day, this is all that counts.

Personally, I am pleased with my efforts. I ran consistently strong over these two races in hot and humid conditions. My legs feel trashed, but this is to be expected.

Lots of runners emphasize learning to run on tired, hurting legs. All I can say; this is a miserable feeling, but I hope that it helps in my 100 miler.

Lastly, I want to give a shout out to Richard and Dirty Wolf Ultras. He is super stoked about running ultras and the races that he organizes. He has several races coming up. Check out to find his races.

Thoughts from the Trail

The Cool Down Runner

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

The Aid Station Boost

Starting my final lap on Saturday, I was zipping along the trail as if I were in the first mile. I had been so tired entering the aid station. Then, like a light switch was flipped; the men and women helping at the aid station were up-loading so much encouragement in to me that I sorely needed. The mental bust helped me wave away the growing fatigue. However, the surge was fleeting. Roughly 2 to 3 miles later, the fatigue of the day slowly came filtering back in to my body mostly my legs. But for those first few miles, I was rolling along. This made me realize how much energy not just in food and drink but mental energy the aid station had given me. I wished that I had one every 2 or 3 miles. I also want to give a shout out to everyone that helps out at an aid station. Yes, rest assured that your efforts are greatly appreciated even if no one says so. 

Never underestimate the power of emotional support.

The Cool Down Runner

Sunday, July 28, 2019

“The Stevest” Race Recap

The Stevest” course welcomed me back in the only way that it knows how. Just over a mile in to the race, it reached out and slapped me to the ground – hard. According those running behind me, I hit the ground, did a perfect forward roll, and ended up back on my feet running. I thought I was going escape without any further damage, but just when I was feeling a bit “full” of myself, “The Stevest” reached out twice more and slapped me to the ground on the third and final lap. My right knee has the look of having been run through a meat grinder.

The Stevest” crew gave us some prerace instructions around 7:45, and we were off and running at 8 am. The temperatures were better than last year. The high only got to about 88 degrees vs. the 95 degrees last year. I settled in running with Kim for most of lap one. I was walking the steep sections, and I was running everywhere else. I decided to adopt this strategy for this race because I wanted to test out some ideas in preparation for my 100 miler later this year.

The second lap I ran solo. I really don’t remember much about it aside from feeling the heat and humidity ramp up.

I came in after the second, grabbed my last CamelBak, and headed out. I was actually feeling pretty good starting this lap. I probably ran those first few miles a little too hard. I caught a couple of people which were a few minutes in front of me.

Then, I settled in to my usual pace. I was on one of the switchback when a rock snagged my foot and down I went. The 3rd occurrence on an easy section. I was tired and not watching my footing and went down.

After my numerous falls last year, this year I decided to wear gloves. Maybe it looked dumb wearing gloves, but they saved my hands, and they also worked great for wiping away the sweat.

I ran my first lap in roughly 2:35, second lap in 2:40, and my third lap in 2:45 for a total running time for 43 miles of 8 hours on the nose. I knew it was going to be close, and I was pushing hard in the wrong sections. My quads didn’t like this, and I had to slow for a bit to let them recover. Then, slowly I started pushing the pace again. However, it just wasn’t enough to break the 8 hour barrier.

I was happy with my race. Running 8 hours was about 70 to 80 minutes faster than last year. The temperature helped, but what really helped was improving my hydration and nutrition.

I felt solid the entire race.

Big shout out to the “The Stevest” guys.  They did an awesome job with this race. I foolishly missed signing up before it maxed out, and I had to wait list. Yet about a week ago, I got an email asking if I still wanted to run it. I clicked on “accept” immediately. I also want to give them a kudos for adding ropes to the “Death Valley” descents. I used them with every lap.  

Anyone building for a fall race needs to make “The Stevest” part of their training plan. I used it last year in my prep for a 50 miler. This year, I am using to propel me toward both a 50 and 100 miler this fall.

Just remember, it isn’t if a fall will happen, it is when will it happen.

The Cool Down Runner


Friday, July 26, 2019

“The Stevest” Take 2

Tomorrow, I will be returning to the “The Stevest” race on the Rocky River Tail. If you read my blog from last year, you remember that this course grabbed me by the back of the neck and gave me a good shake. Driving home that evening, I was questioning if I could even run 50 miles. “The Stevest” had really tested me.

But I learned from it, and I went on to complete my first 50 miler last fall.

Because of last year, I am going back again this year. Those 42 miles made me dig deep, and I am hoping that they add something to me again this year. I am telling you this because this fall, I am doubling down on the distance, and I know it is not going to be easy.

Wish me luck tomorrow.

Tails from the trail,

The Cool Down Runner

Saturday, July 20, 2019

Never Doubt Yourself

Charlotte is in the midst of a full summer time heat and humidity event, and I am feeling every bit of on my long runs. I finished up a 22 mile trail run this morning, and I couldn't have completed it if I hadn't drank nearly a gallon and half of water. Actually, it was Tailwind. I have to have those electrolytes and glucose to keep me going.

As I was churning through those final miles, I was wondering which was worse: the building fatigue in my legs, suffocating heat and humid surrounding me, or pouring of sweat off my body. I really hate hearing my shoes go "swoosh" with every step.

Mentally, I find these summer time runs to be some of the hardest to endure in my training. I find myself questioning why I am out there. Of course, I also question why I am out there in Jan when it is 25 degrees, but then, the heat of summer seems so far away.

But I have to keep reminding myself that the work I put in now will help me this fall. The mental toughness that carries me through each of these runs will make strain of those fall race seem so much easier.

So when you are out there, and you start questioning why, just remember, these runs give you the mental toughness to overcome anything that you will face this fall. 

Never doubt yourself.

The Cool Down Runner

Sunday, July 14, 2019

Think Safety First

This morning, I was running along the South Main trail at the Whitewater Center enjoying another one of Carolina’s best hot and humid summer days. For the most part, the trails were quiet. There was the occasional runner or mt. biker but as I said, the trails were otherwise quiet.

While cruising along next to the river, I heard mt. biker coming up behind me. I instinctively moved to the left to let him pass. Out of the corner of my eye, I could see him passing. Then, as if in slow motion, I could see him falling. Mentally, I tried to make sense of what I was seeing. Momentum carried my several steps down the trail where I came to halt and went back to help.

The guy had rolled out in to the trail, but what caught my eye was his 3 or 4 year old son lying next to the handle bars. Both seemed to be okay. The boy never cried.

Apparently, a brier snagged his handle bar and pulled them down.

They both got back on the bike and headed off as if nothing ever happened.

I spent the rest of my run thinking about it. I was reminded of the many times that I had taken my daughters on bike rides. Albeit, I never took them on a mt. bike ride.

I admit that I done a few dumb things while running and riding. There is an inherit risk to life and health anytime that I stepped outside my front door. Putting myself at risk is one thing. However, I never have or would put my daughters at risk. Yeah, I know that I can have an accident anywhere. That doesn’t mean that I should go looking for it. The risk of an accident on a mt. bike on a trail exponentially higher. I guess that I just cannot imagine why he would even doing it.

Strange isn’t how each of us view the world.

Growing up, I never wore a helmet or gloves. Yet, I learned there was a better way. I always wear a helmet and gloves now, and when my daughters ride, I make them wear both.

So maybe we do learn. Maybe we do learn from the generations before us what we can do better.

Let’s hope so.

Tails from the trail,

The Cool Down Runner

Friday, July 12, 2019

WWC River Jam – July Edition

I got out of my car yesterday at the WWC to face a shearing heat and oppressive humidity. I don’t think that there is any way that I could have felt more lethargic warming up.

When I feel this way, the negative thoughts of why I am doing this have their way with me.

Luckily, the storm clouds pushed into the area just before race time. This helped drop the temperature a few degrees but the rain stayed away. 

However, the shade cast by the clouds made the trail oh so dark. At some point, one might even consider wearing a head lamp.

Standing at the starting line, I wondered how much having run a 50k just 7 days ago would leave my legs with a heavy feeling.

Everyone jumped out quick as we circled the channel.

Six of us were running together when we entered the trails. Over the next couple of miles, Troy, Evan, and I worked past them.

We stayed together. Hitting the Lake Loop, I expected one or both to push past me. I gave them a several opportunities to pass. They never took me up on it so I settled in to lead our little group.

Exiting the trails into the gravel parking lot, we were all running hard. Evan and Troy pushed ahead of me at the hill by the upper parking lot.

They gapped me topping over the hill, and I was not sure that I could catch up.

Evan was pushing on but Troy, I caught by the bridges. I encouraged him to stay with me. On the other hand, Evan was putting just too much distance on me. I was not going to catch him.

I crossed the finish line in 46:51 which was actually one second slower than I ran in June. Having Troy and Evan with really helped keep me rolling along much faster than I would have otherwise. This placed me 4th overall and 1st in my age group.

This brings me to 3 River Jam races down and two more to go this year. I am racking up races faster than I did last year.

Tails from the Trail,

The Cool Down Runner

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Sleep Deprivation

Sleep deprivation is not something that is typically a concern with my races. Even if I am running night race, the length has never been more than few hours.

Recently, I was talking with another ultra runner, and she was giving me a few tips to use in my preparation. Sleep deprivation caught my attention real fast because getting shuteye was not on my radar. Hearing her describe what it was like, I can only image the feeling of fatigue at 70 miles in the wee hours of morning. I suspect that body will just want rest. My eye lids will want to drop over my eyeballs, and my quads will just want it all to stop.

To prepare for it, she suggested working all day on a Friday, then running all night Friday in to Saturday morning. Rarely, do I dread doing something. In this case, an exception may be in order. 

I am already wonder which will be harder: staying awake or staying moving.

I am not sure of the exact weekend, but it will be sometime within the next two months.

Tails from the trail,

The Cool Down Runner

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Garmin Band Woes

For the last decade, Garmin GPS watches have been my “goto” device for tracking my runs. I remember measuring a mile against a surveyed mile one time, and my Garmin flashed the auto lap right on the mile mark. So, I cannot argue with their accuracy.

Where Garmins come up lacking is in my opinion the quality of their bands. Numerous times over the years, I have replaced or returned it to Garmin to be replaced or had them send me a new band so I could replace it myself. Only once do I remember them covering this cost.

Take for example my current Garmin watch. I have had it for just about 2 years. In this time, I fixed the band in the first year. Here just last week, I was putting it on, and the band broke again.

This is most frustrating to me. If I wore my Garmin for every run, every day maybe I could see the see the wear and tear on it. I wear it may be two or three times per week. That’s a little over 200 days of running. I want to believe, no I have to believe that any watch band should stand the wear and tear of running for more than 200 days.

Oh, well, I guess I will see what it takes to fix it again. Next time, maybe I will look at some other GPS watches. Isn’t like that I am asking for a lot. I just want a band that will last at least as long as the battery on the watch. Is this really too much to ask from any maker of these type of products.

Tails from the Trail

The Cool Down Runner

Sunday, July 7, 2019

Tailwind Usage follow up

For the Big Butt 50k, I fueled almost entirely on Tailwind. I say almost entirely because I did take a few other items that included salt. With temperatures around 100 degrees, I was sweating profusely. Letting myself get low in electrolytes would have doomed my race.

After testing Tailwind during a training long run, I wanted to test it during race. I wanted to know how my stomach would handle it in a more stressful workout.

My race result was similar to my training run. I had no stomach woes. During the race, I went through over 9 liters of Tailwind. Thus, I was pretty happy with it.

I am still a big fan of Nunn, but I am slowly becoming Tailwind fan. On the plus side, I can buy a huge bag of the Tailwind powder for around $35 off of Amazon. Nunn runs about $7 for 10 tablets. For a long run, I can easily run through a couple of the little bottles of Nunn. I have been through 3 long runs using Tailwind and have barely put a dent in the bag.

For those looking to try something new or switch to something different, Tailwind is worth a test. I like getting the powder and mixing it myself. This way, I can control the consistency of it. The few other times that I have tried Tailwind in the past, the taste was too syrupy for me. Mixing it myself let’s get the taste just to my liking.

Tails from the Trail

The Cool Down Runner


Friday, July 5, 2019

30/20 Run

As I am putting together my 100 mile race training plan, I have been looking at number of different training plans. On a side note, there are so many plans that I could have my pick. However, in my case, I am attempting to merge concepts which I think will work best for me.

This is where the idea of a 30/20 run originated.

So what is a 30/20 run? A 30/20 run is where a runner goes 30 miles on the first day. The second day, the runner goes another 20 miles on those tired legs.

Yesterday, I ran the Big Butt 50k so this gave me the 30 part of the run. This morning, I was up early to knock out another 20 miles.

Let’s just say that I could still feel the fatigue in my legs. The first 5 were okay. The second 5, I felt it more. The 3rd 5, my legs were hating this idea. The 4th 5, I wondered what numb skull came up with this idea. Of course, there is always the numb skull was doing this run – mainly me.

Setting here now, I can see the value of these type of runs. Although, I am not so sure of the cardio value. To me, the real value here is how it callous the mind. We all have these imaginary boundaries which we limit us. Learning to keep pushing through those tough spots is the real value here. Realizing, the body has more to give. We just have to figure out how to dig it out.

It is like that tough teacher that you had in school. They pushed you to learn something that you never realized that you were capable of learning. We are all capable of more than we will ever realize.

Tails from the Trail

The Cool Down Runner

Thursday, July 4, 2019

Big Butt 50K Race Recap

I was back in Lancaster, SC for the Claude’s Big Butt 4th of July 50k race this morning. My hope; I was prepared. Based on the Weatherman’s forecast, today was expected to be a hot one. Hot, it was.

When I finished, I checked the temperature display in my car. The display read 106 degrees. I felt every bit of it.

Claude shared via email that the race time was being moved back to 6:30. However, the Ultra Signup website had 7 AM so the start was delayed.

The temperature was already in the low 80s, and I was sweating just standing at the start.

Finally, Claude blew his whistle, and we were off.

Claude’s 50k consist of 5 x 10k loops with us starting in the center and doing an out and back loop first left and then to the right of the start.

By the mile, I was leading, but more importantly, I was sipping from the CamelBak at every mile. In full disclosure, I was training through this race so my legs didn’t have much pop in them.

The first 10k went by smoothly. Being familiar with the course from the last year, I knew exactly where the turns were located.

With the sun on the rise, the temperature were going up. I started to feel the weariness in my legs toward the end of the 2nd lap.

At the end of the 2nd lap, I grabbed a 2nd CamelBak from the car. I also downed a 16 bottle of water, and I grabbed some ice to dissolve in my mouth over the next mile.

I had enough water in my CamelBak to do laps 3 and 4 but I decided that quick stop was needed at the end of lap 3. I toweled off the extra sweat, sip some more water, and grabbed more ice.

After lap 4, I pulled out my last CamelBak and headed off.

Lap 5 was one of those times where I just kept putting one foot in front of the other. Helping to keep me going was the encouragement from the other runners. This is something I found awesome about Ultra races. There is so much support exchanged between the runners during the race because we all know what the others are facing.

I picked up the win in 4 hours 17 minutes and 9 seconds. Everyone was struggling with the heat. Most runners were reduced to walking or run/walking. Some were struggling with cramps. Some came in between laps and set under the tents to cool off.

Last year, I thought this race was hot, but in comparison, this race was way hotter. I have total respect for every runner there today. They all showed so much determination and drive.    

Kudo’s go out to Claude and his support team for putting on a great race. He does an awesome job taking care of the runners.

Tails from the trail,

The Cool Down Runner