Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Where do I put my car keys?

Saturday, I was cruising during the race when for some unknown reason, I reached out down to where I kept my car key in my shorts. I squeezed my shorts, and I sudden feeling of panic rocked through my brain. I did not feel my key.  That’s bad feeling, but when running, I think it is 100 times worse. Finding a lost key on a trail has got be next to impossible. May be it was that intuition feeling that saved me. I felt round my shorts and then realized that string hold my key had come loose. It had then slide further down. If not for checking for it, I would have likely lost it somewhere over the course.
I never had this happen before. Usually, I have shorts which have a nice pocket that keeps my key safe.

But this started me thinking, I wonder where others keep their keys. I have seen other runners put their keys inside the gas lid, on top of their tires, behind their tires, or under the bummer. I always thought this was kind of dumb thing to do because it is easy place to look. Worse, is the fact that they put it on their tire or under their bumper right in front of me. I don’t see this as a good way to keep it a secret.

Where do you keep your key while racing?

Tails from the trails

The Cool Down Runner

Monday, March 25, 2019

CamelBak Hydration Vest vs. Nathan Handhelds

There are two ways learn either through my own trial and error or by watching others. I was looking around at the start of the marathon on Saturday, and I saw a pretty even mix between runners using a hydration vest and runners using hand held bottles.

Numerous races I have used the hand held bottles, but last year when I got into doing some seriously long runs, the hand held bottles just didn’t cut it. Since then, I have found that I prefer the hydration vest to the bottles. Mostly because, I like to have my hands free. Plus, I think having the water on your back creates a better center gravity for running on a trail. Where I am constantly readjusting my balance. Throw in that with most vests, they have a pocket which I can stuff in some food to enjoy on the run.

Like myself, I think for most people it is a manner of personal choice.  Which feels the most comfortable when you are going to be away for hours at time.

One benefit the vest, I can exchange one vest for another and keep going. This is what I did on Saturday. I had already pulled off my vest, I then opened my cooler, I pulled out my loaded vest, I dropped in the old one, I closed the lid, and I was off running. No fuss. My water and snacks were ready to go. No fumbling to load anything up during race. This reduces things that I have to figure out when I am tired, and things that I can screw up or leave behind during the race.

This is all free advice, and along with, I suggest testing out your ideas during your training runs. 
There will always be little “gotchas” along the way.

Tails from the Trail

The Cool Down Runner

Saturday, March 23, 2019

New South Trail Marathon Recap 3/23/19

Today, I ran my second New South Trail Marathon at the US National Whitewater Center. I finished 4th overall in 4 hours, 8 minutes, and 34 seconds. This effort placed me tops in my age group. I am happy to get in another solid run this year.

My day started with me leaving the house a few minutes after 6 AM for the short drive out to the WWC. One of the perks of running this marathon, I get to sleep in my own bed, and I only have to drive about 20 minutes to reach the WWC.

Time passes quickly. I placed my drop bag in the designated area. Chatted with Dave, Jenn, and Jenny for a few minutes before heading to the starting line.

Because the temperature was in mid 30s, I wore a thin pair of gloves. They were just enough to ward off cold. Later, they came in handy to whip away the sweat.

The course changed in a few places from last year. Due to construction along the channel, we entered through the North Main trail to Figure 8, and they changed the Parkway trail so instead, we ran up the parking lot road to the Academy trail.

The leaders were out quickly. I settled in to 4th overall by mile 5. From then, I was solo for the rest of the race. It is a lonely way to run a marathon but then this is the way of trail marathons tend to go done.

The race does come with some nice perks. The race hoodie was awesome. Fits like a glove. Postrace for the marathoners, they had a pasta lunch. This was definitely worth it. Nothing like finishing a race, a full spread of food is put right in front of you.

I did hear that one runner got turned around in the parking. Not sure how this happened, they had setup plenty of cones and barriers to direct us across the parking. The other weird happening, I was churning along on the thread trail when I met up with another runner heading in the opposite direction. But he was wearing a red marathon bib. I did a double take because it did throw me off to be meeting someone wearing a marathon bib. I don’t know happen to him. I kept going in the opposite direction.

I did do one smart thing today. I took my reclining lawn chair. After the race, I found myself a comfortable spot, and spent the rest of the afternoon relaxing and cheering on those coming to the finish. Felt good give some other support.

Tails from the trail.

The Cool Down Runner

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Washington's Farewell Speech

While I found my passion in writing software, I have always had a passing interesting in history. The adage "we either learn from history or we are doomed to repeat it" has always stuck with me. During my college life, I took more than few history courses. And through the years, I have found myself drawn to history documentaries.

When my daughter went through school, we never talked much about history. She would tell me about her classes, and how she was doing but we never got into philosophical discussions.

Once she entered college, history became a topic of interest to her. So much so that one of her two minors will be in history.

Her interest in history paired with my passing interest in history has formed a connection between us that I never expected. Now, when she has a history assignment, she often shares her assignment with me. I'll read the same passages, and we talk about the passages and her assignment. I guess that I give her a sounding board. I don't know if helps or not. I hope so. Personally, I have found my self looking forward to each new assignment that she is given. 

Just this last week, we read George Washington's Farewell Speech. As I set here still digesting his words, I cannot help but reflect how much of his warnings still ring true today. Two hundred plus years later, America continues to face those same challenges. This takes me back to the adage that I started this post with. Are we really learning from history or are we just in an endless cycle doomed to a world that Washington warned us about.

The Cool Down Runner

the channel runs green

So Saturday, I was among the mass of people at the WWC for their go green revival. Mass is really an understatement. They closed the entrance to the WWC so people were parking at the near by school and walking the nearly two miles into the WWC. I guess most didn't realize the trail short cut into the WWC,.

But the cool part of the experience was when they dye the water green. Not just any green, but a  florescent green. The color green which might glow at night. It is a cool sight to see the water slowly  makes it way around the channel to the basis.

Tails from the trail.

The Cool Down Runner 

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

The need for speed

As a runner and perhaps more as racer, we all have a quest for speed. Go faster. Make our legs turn over faster. Pump our arms more to force our legs to turn over faster.

This morning, I was making my own endeavor to push my legs to turn over a bit faster. I will be the first to admit; I am fighting an uphill battle. Getting older means my legs no longer respond to the training as well. I have been compensating for this by running more hill repeats for my interval training which is were a bit of irony comes into play. I am getting older, I am slowing down, I am using intervals to slow the progress which is an uphill battle, yet, I am using hill repeats to do it. 

Doesn’t it just sound like there is some irony in there somewhere.

Irony aside, I was happy to see my intervals were my best set so far. May be my legs are totally dead yet.

Stories from the trail,

The Cool Down Runner

Monday, March 11, 2019

Hoka Evo Jawz

I have no reason to believe that the rain is going to stop anytime time soon so either I have to accept slipping and sliding as part of my trail racing or find a good trail racing shoe.

Enter the Hoka Evo Jawz trail racing shoe. Weightwise, the shoes comes in a little over 7 ounces, and the bottom of the shoes has some nice large lugs to grab the mud.

Given the heavy rain leading up to the Weird Root 10 miler, it was the perfect conditions to test them out.

General impressions, it seems to be a decent trail shoe if the intent is to use it for racing. It is not going to stop anyone from totally slipping on a muddy trail but it doesn’t slip anywhere near what my other shoes do. With one possible exception, I was slipped coming off a wet wooden bridge. I never even thought about it until I started my cut. My foot just slipped right out from under me. Luckily, I was able to maintain my balance and keep going.  

One note on the sizing, these shoes seem to run about a ½ size big. I normally wear a size 12 but with these shoes, I had some extra toe room. If I order another pair, I would definitely consider going 11 1/2.

Stories from the trails,

The Cool Down Runner

Sunday, March 10, 2019


After finishing the 10 mile race yesterday, I slipped in to run with the leaders of the 50K race. I needed 20 miles for the day so adding another lap and having company along the way made a lot sense.

The first guy wasn't a talker. After a few questions and not receiving a response, I gave up. I guess he was totally focused on race and wasn't up for some idle chit chat to pass the time.

Then, I slipped back and started up a conversation with Griffin. Griffin was the total opposite. He was from Charlottesville, Va. We got into a conversation about his racing, shoes, the course, and few other topics. He was legit ultra runner. He had done numerous races including some 100 milers. He did some “Hell” Series where they do a bunch of 50k races in the spring with some 50 and 100 milers in the fall. It sounded extremely hard. When he completed the series for 10 consecutive years, they gave a huge Griffin. I thought that this was a pretty cool thing to do to recognize his achievement.

I think that he was a little disappointed that I was going around for another lap. In deed, the miles seem to fly by while we chatted. We were back at the start/finish line before I even gave much thought to it.

Another adventure from the tails.

The Cool Down Runner

Saturday, March 9, 2019

Wicked Root 10 Miler Recap

For the last couple of years, I headed down interstate 85 to Kings Mt for their Gateway Trail 10 miler. However, this year, I was went looking for something a little more trail and a little less greenway. Through my Ultra Signup searches, I stumbled over the Wicked Root 50k and 10 miler this weekend. I had made a mental note of this race a few years ago when Spada ran and won the 50k

This race was like a blind date for me. Having never ran these trails, I was could be in for some thing awesome or totally nasty.

I pretty much knew going in to this race that it would be muddy mess. To that end, I was sporting some new trail racing shoes, but I save my thought about them for a post next week.

At 7:50 we were given our prerace instructions. Honestly, there were a lot of words spoken but what I heard was that the trail was marked in orange ribbon. I hoped this was true.

The start was a low key roll out. The lady next to me ask me if I had run the course. I replied that this was my first time here.

I eased in to the pace and the trails. I wanted to feel out what the footing was like. I also wanted to get a sense of what the course was like.

The course is riddled with switch backs and crossing of paths. Without the orange ribbons and signs, I would have been hopelessly lost. There is one section of the trail called Deja Vu and for good reason. It loops back upon itself twice before splitting off to run the rest of the Spencer Mt. trail. Thanks to a another runner that was making his way through for pointing me in the right direction.

While the course wet, my trail shoes stuck well. The one place where I did slip was coming off one of the bridges. The wet, muddy lugs don't have much traction on the wooden bridges.

I finished up the up course in 1 hours 26 minutes and 42 seconds for the win. For my efforts, I am now the proud owner of Huskie dog stuffed animal. I am going to name him “Clyde”. He and I might be making appearances at other races now.

Major props to the race director for an awesome job marking the course and for the post race food spread. Even bigger thanks to the volunteers manning the aid stations, and to Tin specifically for the photo and for pointing me in the right direction around the soccer fields.

With one of these Wicked Root races under my belt and a better understanding of the course, I might venture back to another of their races.

Adventures from the trail,

The Cool Down Runner

Monday, March 4, 2019

Losing a mouth piece

Saturday morning, I headed out for my long run. As I usually do, I took along my Camel back vest. I find that I favor running with a vest over running with my Nathan handheld bottles.

Everything was going along fine during my run. I was sipping at my usual intervals. At 15 miles, my Garmin chimed its usual alert. I instinctively reach down to take a sip, but the moment, it touched my lips, I realized something was wrong. I looked at the end of the hose to see the shut off valve but no mouth piece.

I guess I was lucky that the mouth piece and the shut off valve were not made as one piece. Otherwise, I would have lost my entire supply of water.

Even now, I cannot figure out how it came out. Removing it to clean the vest is nothing short of a pain so having it fallout seems strange to me.

I thought about back tracking to find it, but I could have lost it anywhere in a 5 mile stretch. Backtracking didn’t seem practical when I was already at 15 miles.

I guess now; I have to buy a replace valve. However, this time, I will keep a better eye on it when I running. I don’t want this to me habit forming.

Stories from the trail,

The Cool Down Runner