Wednesday, July 1, 2020

July 1st 50K

A couple of weeks ago, my company decided to give everyone a company holiday on July 1. So, what should I do with it.

I pretty much expected the trails to be quiet so I decided to run some trail miles on my company holiday. It was new month, I figured I would extend it a bit and go for a 50k right on the very first day.

Rolling out at 8 AM, sweat was pouring by the time that my Garmin chimed at the mile. By 3 miles, my clothes were dripping with sweat as well.

I felt good over the first 10 miles. I was drinking more than usual but I had packed extra water just for this case.

Stopping by my car to refuel, I noticed that more cars had arrived, but overall the parking lot was still closer to being empty than full.

By the time that I finished my 2nd 10 mile loop, cars had filled up the parking lot. Although, I never saw anyone actually in the park lot.

Heat and humidity made the last loop more of  a struggle. My pace slowed down. I was drinking more often. I felt okay, but the heat and humidify just seem to amplify my feeling of fatigue. It is like after each loop someone adds 10 extra pounds to my shoulders.

I finished the 31 miles in roughly 6 hours and 10 minutes. I opened my trunk, then opened my cooler, and the taste of the cold water splashing down my throat felt great.

I kept drinking for another 3 hours. Hot days leave me dehydrated, and I need several hours before my body tends to return to normal.

This checked my ultra run for this month. Now, I am off in search of interesting things to do to fill up the other 30 days.

The Cool Down Runner



Saturday, June 27, 2020

Time to ride out side

I  freely admit that I am a fair weather cyclist. If the temperature isn't pushing 80 or above, I shy away from heading out the door.

Fortunately, June has finally settled in on warm days. Therefore, I pulled my road bike off my trainer and headed out the door. This is so much nicer. The wind in my face was awesome. I wish every day was similar.

I am taking my cycling a little different than what I did a few years ago. This time I cruise along on my own. I ride at whatever pace that feel comfortable. I want the enjoy the rides and make them less of a workout. I don't need to ride 25 miles per hour or do a big group ride. Just getting outside these day is worth its weight in gold.

I have seen so many new bikes at the WWC. Makes me wonder what will happen once this pandemic abates. Will those bikes gather dust in the garage or will these people find a new passion that will last the rest of their lives. I certainly hope that it is the latter.

If this pandemic teaches people anything, it should teach than that a healthy life does make a difference.

Hope you are having a fantastic weekend.

The Cool Down Runner




Friday, June 26, 2020

The Red Bull Story

As many of you know, I consider the trails at the WWC my home turf. Meaning, I spend a lot of time running there. Well, when you spend a lot of time some place, you get to know the people that work there.

One of those people is Abraham. Abraham works the guard shack pretty much every weekend.

After I don't know how many weeks of me flashing my pass and him waving me through, I decided to stop and introduce myself. After that, I still flashed my pass and he would wave me through, but if there are no cars behind me, I would stop and chat for a minute.

Abraham is super nice guy, and he always has a smile on this face whether the temperatures is 20 degrees or 90 degrees or anywhere in between.

So one morning a few weeks ago, I stopped and chatted for a few minutes. Somehow, the topic got on to needing caffeine to wake up. Seems the thermos of coffee wasn't doing the trick for Abraham. I laughingly said that he needed a Red Bull. That caffeine kick would wake him up for sure. He agreed with a laugh. I went on to say that next weekend, I would bring him a Red Bull.

The following Saturday rolled around. Being a man of my word, I picked up a Red Bull for Abraham on my way to the WWC.

This time, I didn't flash my pass. I rolled the window down and handed him his Red Bull. He laughed and said that he had been looking for me and this was exactly what he needed. I told him that I always keep my promises.

A couple of cars rolled in behind me cutting short our conversation, but we both left thinking the world is a little better. A little kindness to our fellow man or woman goes along way.

The Cool Down Runner

 




Thursday, June 25, 2020

Missing Amazon Neck Gaiter

Wanted to share this story because I thought that it was pretty humorous.

With all of the Covid stuff running around, I figured it was time to add to my collection of neck gaiters. I only have a couple of them. It isn't something like shorts or singlets which I have numerous ones. Mostly because, I don't wear them that often.

But with this Covid virus, I find myself wearing them more now.

So now that you have a little back story, let get the good part.

I went on to Amazon looking for them. I went to Amazon because I have a Prime membership. Stuff magically shows up on my door step anywhere from a few hours to a few days of ordering it.

I browsed the various ones available, and I made my selection. I clicked "buy". Amazon confirmed my order and told me that it would arrive yesterday.

Sure enough, my door bell camera gave a me a heads up that someone was at my door, and I could see my package being delivered.

I went and brought it in side. I was busy at the time so I laid it aside for the moment. But as I was picking it up, I struck by the fact that something felt wrong with the package. I was busy so I didn't linger on.

This morning, I saw package laying on the table so I figured that I would open it. I was kind of excited to test out the neck gaiter.

When I picked it up, I was reminded of the "thought" from yesterday. The package didn't feel right. This time, I tore it open and peeked inside. Oh, was I disappointed. My gut was telling that something was wrong and now, I was staring in to an empty package.

All sorts of thoughts went through my head. From how could someone seal up and send the package, to no one handling it found it odd, to the driver not thinking about it. Maybe handling millions of package makes you gloss over this fact. I don't know.

So I headed over to Amazon.com to see if I could get some help. After 20 minutes of clicking on screens, I found an option for a chat. I really think Amazon should make this easier to find. I have my suspension why it isn't and I am sure you do to. Anyway, apparently this chat agent recognized in some way what my issue was. It pulled in my neck gaiter order and asked me if this was what I needed help.

I responded "yes". Then, it went through a number of other questions. To which, I finally responded that my package was empty. This turned the entire chat. It asked if I wanted to reorder or a refund. Mind you, at this point, I am thinking that I am chatting with a real person. I said reorder. It then went on to say that it setup my reorder, and my neck gaiter should arrive in a couple of days.

I was happy about this but I was also now curious. Was I talking with a human being or some part of the supreme intelligence. After all, I just typed that my package was empty, and it recognized what I said. Then, it took the right action.

It asked if I had any other questions. This is when I popped the "pinocchio" question "are you a real person?". It responded that it would connect me with a live agent. Ok, so I am interacting with some fairly intelligent software or was I. May be because of my question, whoever was setting there, was pulling my leg. I have not way of knowing for sure. I stopped messing with it out of fear that it might start big brothering all of my packages. Or worse, send me more empty packages. 

Still when you think about it. If it was some software doing and it recognize my response about an empty package, makes you wonder if Amazon delivers more empty packages than one might expect.

Like I said, I found the entire experience quite humorous,

The Cool Down Runner




Tuesday, June 23, 2020

WWC River Jam Virtual 10k Race

So the rain finally let up enough that the WWC trails opened. Actually, they opened yesterday, but I couldn't make it work to get there. I prayed that the rain didn't fall too much yesterday evening that they would close the trails for today.

As today, I planned to run my River Jam 10k effort.

For a Tuesday, the trail were super quiet. I met no one on my run today. This is social distancing at its best.

I cruised over the 5k course to warm up my legs and get a little sweet started. I followed this by stopping my car to dry off and get a sip of water. Then, time had come to get this on.

I headed off from the starting line flag. Having been over 5 weeks since my last virtual run and even longer since I did something covering more than a mile or two, it felt good to run hard. I was probably a little over zealous starting out. My breathing was labored for sure.

I entered the wood and focused on treading lightly. While the trails were not muddy, there were plenty in slippy spots. On the hard decent to the South Main trail, my feet were going in all directions as I attempted to maintain my balance.

Running along the river was nice. A slight breeze blew in from the water. This helped push away the sweet running down the sides of my face.

I passed by the Tower, Wedge, and Goat trails. My breathing was settling down, and I was starting to lock in to a good pace.

Sweet continued to roll down my brow probably faster than I was running.

The first three miles seemed to fly by, and before I knew it; I was running along the Lake Loop.

My heart was racing right along with me, and I wasn't sure how much more that it could take. Then, I got a major dump of adrenaline in to my system. There was a huge black snake about 1/2 way across the trail. I didn't even slow down. I just took one long sweeping stride and headed on. I didn't even look back.

Aside from a couple of muddy spots, the Lake Loop was in good shape.

I heard my Garmin chime at 5 miles. I don't recall the exact order of events so I am not sure if this was just a moment of inattentiveness or a glance at my Garmin, either way, I stepped on a rock awkwardly, rolled my ankle,  and sent myself hurdling toward the ground. All of my momentum was directed at pushing my face right in to the dirt. Out of the corner of my eye, I spied a tiny White Oak tree. Out of instinct, with my left hand, I grabbed and held tightly on to it. My palm acted as my brake pad tearing at the bark and my skin while I did 3 complete circles before I could regain enough control to not go completely down. With one smooth motion, I came up running. Although, I ran gingerly for a few steps while I shook off the pain in my ankle.

I stepped around a couple of more fallen limbs and hurdled a small pine tree which had fallen over the trail. Finally, I exited the trail and was back on the gravel. I love the run around the channel back to the finish.

Six miles chimed from Garmin. I glanced at the time. Push harder was the only thought that came to mind.

I finished in 47:58. This was about 40 seconds faster than my May race here.

I have to say. I have done pretty much nothing other than log miles. Yet, my times are pretty much on par with last year. With a little competition, I feel good that I could probably do a little better. I have to admit; if I had someone either to chase or pushing me, I would be digging a little deeper. Me, myself, and I just don't do enough. Oh, well, for now, we have to take what we can get.

In May, I finished 3rd overall. I'll submit my GPX file, and I will see where I place for June. I so hope that July is a real race. Solo runs are nice but I crave competition.

The Cool Down Runner



  




Wednesday, June 17, 2020

June weather swings

Wow, the weather this month has been swinging back and forth. Ironically, I was soaked in both cases. Last week, the humidity was awful. Yesterday, I logged 10 miles in a steady rain. At least I cannot argue that the temperature this has been awesome the last few days.

I will enjoy it while it last. I hear that it will be back in the 90s by Sunday.

The Cool Down Runner

Saturday, June 13, 2020

Crowders Mt - June 50k Run

These days I try to be more flexible with my training. When an opportunity arises, I like to take advantage of it.

The weatherman forecasted that our local weather was going to be awesome today so I called an audible in my training plan. Great weather means a good opportunity to hit the trails for a long run or in my case 31 miles of running.

I had a few local options but settled on Crowders Mt. This would give a good chance to get in some nice climbing. Running the Ridgeline trail is one of my favorites.

The gates to the NC State parks typically open at 8AM so I timed my arrival to coincide as close to possible to 8 AM.

This morning, I turn right on Sparrow Springs Rd and in less than 100 yards, I was greeted with a traffic jam. Apparently, I was not the only one to have this idea. I realize that this was a Saturday but I did not expect so much traffic at 8 AM. Sure enough, the Rangers came down and opened the gate. Slowly, the line of cars filed in to the park.

I was surprised that my favorite parking spot was still open but I was also happy about it.

My plan for the day was to run the Turnback Trail to Ridgeline Trail and follow it to the Kings Recreational Trail where I would turn around. I guessed that this would be about 10 miles. I would run the same course back to the Sparrow Springs parking lot where I would refuel. From there, I would head off to the Crowders Mt. Trail to Backside Trail head up to the stairs, then down to the Linwood access. From it, I would turn the Tower Trail to the top of Crowders Mt. Then, I would do the reverse back to the Sparrow Springs parking lot. Based on my some of my previous runs, I thought that this would be about 31 miles.

 Shortly after 8 AM, I headed out on the Turnback Trail. Climbing up for 2 miles with no warmup is rough. Mostly, I have a lot of hard breathing and burning quads. I passed a few hikers making their way to the top.

About 3/4 of the way to Pinnacle Rock, this guy in a red singlet blow past me. Any other time, my competitive instincts would have kicked in but today, I had 29 plus miles still run. I would leave this challenge for another time. One other thing about Mr. Red Singlet, he disappeared. I ran to Pinnacle Rock before dropping back down to pickup the Ridgeline trail. I never saw him again. Maybe he is still lost on the trail somewhere. I don't know.

Ridgeline was pretty quiet. I saw maybe 10 people the entire time. Most of them were in the Boulder Access area. I touched the Kings Recreational Trail sign, and I headed back. I had 1/3 of my run in the books. My legs felt good. By large I suspect the 60 degree temperature and low humidity had a lot to do with it. Cruising down along the ridgeline, a soft breeze blew in to my face most of the way. I wanted to bottle the moment. 

The return trip seemed to go fast. Before I knew it, I was climbing the "steps" back to the overlook. Finishing off the Ridgeline trail, I turned left and finished off a second climb to Pinnacle before enjoying the 2 mile run back to the parking lot.

Turnback, while not super busy, it definitely had a lot more people on it. Most were standing or setting along side the trail watching this tail skinny guy with a salt and pepper bearded guy run by. I could hear them talking about me before I got out of ear shot.

I refilled my CamelBak with two liters of Tailwind. I tossed some food in the CamelBack pouch and headed off for Crowders Mt. I had burned through 2 liters in the first 20 miles but I now suspect that I would need the entire 2 liters in the next 10ish miles.

My Garmin showed  21+ miles but now, the real fun was about to begin. I still had the worst of the climbing ahead of me.

Crowders Mt. trail was busier than I expected or wanted. I think I said "pardon me" a few hundred times.

I could also tell that the day was getting warmer. The climbing made it worse. Sweat was running off my brow.

Popping out on Backside trail, I turned right and ran up to the "steps". While it is only a few hundred  yards to the "steps", it is also steep. My legs begrudgingly carried me.

I took solest in fact that with every step, I was a step closer to being finished.

Then, I ran down to the Linwood parking lot. I knew the climb up the Tower trail was going to be painful and sweaty. I felt that I was grinding my way to the top. The trail really kicks up right before Rock Top. Then,I run right and headed on to the top of Crowders. With each step, I wished that I was finished.

The view from the top was much better this time. Two weeks ago, I could only see rain clouds. Today, I could see for a 100 miles or more.

I rather enjoyed the run back to the Linwood parking lot. My legs wanted it. No, they needed it.

Before heading down the Crowders trail, I finished my last hard climb up to the "steps" on Backside trail. Now, I was ready to start my decent back to the Sparrow Springs parking lot.

When I reached my car, I opened the trunk and set down. I will freely admit; I was tired. I had been running for just over 6 hours and did a lot of climbing today.

Now, I have to let my body recover for the next  five days. LOL.


The Cool Down Runner




Tuesday, June 9, 2020

The Summer Heat has arrived

You know. May was a pretty cool month in my opinion. Yes, we had a couple of warm days but nothing was on par with this first week of June. This started me thinking that I am behind in my heat acclamation efforts for 2020. Before you ask, I have no idea why I am worried about this. Likely, it will be the fall or later before racing picks up again. 

Anyway, acclamation comes from training and training in the heat. Following that line of thinking, I decided to push my long run start time back to 10 AM last Saturday for my 20 miler.

Of course, everything starts out sounding like a good idea. Then, it usually turns in to total disaster.

Since I have find ways to entertain myself, I decided to do a perimeter run around the WWC trails. I started on North Main, and basically ran outside of every trail with a couple exceptions.  I was totally lost in thought and missed the Weigh Station trail. Later, because I only wanted 20 miles, I had to skip the Rail trail as well.

Essentially, I followed the North Main trail to the South Main trail. As I said, I absent mindlessly missed the Weigh Station trail. I did pick up Slalom and Lake Loops. I ran the back side of East Main and Tributary. Yes, this means running it backwards. Across the road, I picked up Smokey, and the back side of Bandit, and finally, the backside of Thread back to the WWC. This turns out to be roughly 20 miles - give or take some extra depending on Garmin.

It was something different to do and gave me a new challenge to complete.

Along the way, the 90 degree heat and humidity kicked my rear. In total, I drank more than 5 liters of water. In contrast, during Jan, Feb, and March, I rarely drank more than a liter on a 20 miler. Heat takes a toll on the human body. I suspect it is even greater on my aging body.

Still, I finished walked way happy. I knew that this was another great day to be alive and enjoying the great outdoors.

The Cool Down Runner


 

Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Running up the miles

Yesterday, I was settling up my running log for the month of May. I had not thought much about how many miles that I had been running. The quarantine life has left me in the rinse, eat, sleep, run, work, and repeat mode.

My eyes settled on the total for the month of May. Then, I leafed back through my log book to see what I had totaled for the month of April. My eyes grow a little larger as the realization set in.

In April, I ran 345 miles which is a lot for me, but my jar dropped at the total for May. I ran a whopping 405 miles.

Is there any wonder my legs have been feeling heavy. That's nearly 800 miles in two months. I am not 25. I should not be doing this quantity of mileage. It does not make any sense. Yet, this is where my mileage total landed.

Of course, I should have expected it. Having no races has left me looking for other ways to challenge my self. Ultra long runs seems to be where I have choose to spend my time. Is it a good use of my time. I guess it all depends on who you ask. To me, I get to explore a few areas that few others have chosen to venture. Running 20+ miles, I can cover a lot territory and see a lot different things. I say that it is worth it.

This summer may be even the rest of this year may become the lost year for racing but this just means that we should be exploring the world around more. Our legs can carry deep in the trails. Creating adventures we will remember for the rest of our lives.

Explore some place new this weekend. Make an adventure.

The Cool Down Runner

Saturday, May 30, 2020

The days after

Running 120 miles in 6 days probably was not one of my better ideas, but doing something does not always need to be a good idea. Sometime even if it sounds like a bad idea, it still might be something fun to do.

So I went 10 miles on Tuesday. The best way that I can describe it is during triathlon instead free spinning at the end of the ride, I try to crush it to the line. However, this leaves my legs totally numb when I start running. This is pretty much how I felt for the entire 10 miles.

Wednesday, my run was a little better. Friday's run was actually the first day that my legs started to feel normal again.

They still feel tired but at least they were not numb.

Recovery is always a slow process but with any challenge comes the need for recovery. In time, the body will return to normal. Then, it will be time to think about the next challenge.

The Cool Down Runner

Monday, May 25, 2020

Run-cation – Day 6 – Whitewater Center


I finished the last day of my 6 day 20 mile challenge on what I consider is my home trails – The Whitewater Center Trails. I could have run any number of trails, and I did think about running somewhere else. However, I felt that I needed to finish it where I enjoy running the most.



Frankly, after going so many other places, I was ready to hit my local trails again.

Today’s run held no surprises, and only a few people were frequenting the WWC. Social distancing was more like social isolation.

I clipped off my fastest 20 miles in 3:26:02 which also surprised me. Over the last couple of days, my quads seemed to be a bit more fatigued. Soreness became way more pronounced during the closing miles.  Then, my quads have weathered quite a few runs so maybe they do have a right to complain about how I treat them.

Being that this was my first run-cation, it provided some extra perspective. When the only things on my daily to-do list are eating, sleeping, and running, life is pretty nice.

I am glad to have wrapped up this challenge on a positive note, and I am looking forward to the rest of the summer. If racing does not pick up, I will have to come up with may own challenges, just like this one.

Challenge yourself first and your friends next,


The Cool Down Runner




Sunday, May 24, 2020

Run-cation – Day 5 – Kings Mt State Park


Last night, I decided to head down to Kings Mt State Park to recreate part of a run that I did a few years ago. This time, I would only be going 20 miles instead of those 45 Labor Day miles. That was indeed a very long day.

Kings Mt State Park is roughly 30 minutes west give or take from Charlotte. They offer a lot trail options some good and some not as good. The trails inside the military portion of the park typically are well maintained. Those outside of it, well, a good weed eater may be needed or perhaps a chainsaw in some spots. Those trails can be overgrown in places. If it were not for the trail markers, I am not sure that I was on the trail.

May be from anticipation or just from tiredness, I was up early this morning. I cruised in to their parking lot around 8:35 this morning. This was a good thing since the weatherman had forecast a temperature close to 90 degrees today.

Today’s run was 9 parts trail run and 1 part obstacle course. Those storms that rolled through Charlotte late this past week did a number on the trees in several places along the trail. I quickly realized that I was not the first through here, however. The path through the fallen trees were somewhat visible. I made every effort to follow the broken limbs.

Along the small creak, the cool air felt awesome during the first hour. Then, the trail meanders away from the branch. Sweat rolled down sides of my face and in to the ever growing beard. I finally gave up on my hat. The heat was just too much to wear it.

My course today took me out by the Kings Mt visitor center and later up the Ridgeline trail to the Boulder Overlook. This was actually the first time that I went up to the overlook. However, I didn’t climb out on it. I will leave that for another day when my legs were not so tired.

All in all, this was a good run. I am noticing that for the first 10 miles my legs have some bounce but over the last 10, the bounce quickly weans.

I have 1 more day in 20 mile 6 day challenge. Wish me luck on the final day of my run-cation.

The Cool Down Runner






Saturday, May 23, 2020

Run-cation - Day 4 – South Mountains State Park


For day 4 of my run-cation, I headed for South Mountains State Park.

When I started this little adventure, I knew that I wanted to run at least one place that I had never visited. I explored several possible locations, and I finally settled on South Mountains State Park. The next thing that I did was pull up park map and looked to see what the possible trails were. I noticed a couple of high points nearing 3k in evaluation. I marked both as places that I wanted to visit during this run. Because I was running a 20 miler, I decided that I would run on the perimeter trails.



South Mountains State Park is about 80 minutes from Charlotte along some beautiful country roads. But it is in the middle of a no cell service zone. As I pulled in to the park, my phone immediately went in to its no service mode. It never returned until I left the park. May be they have a cell phone jammer. Who knows?

I parked in the Equestrian parking lot. Since the trail that I expected to return on ended here. The moment that I stepped out my car, I noticed something different. The air was filled with two scents: wood smoke and Spruce Pine. In fact, I can still smell the Spruce Pine scent on me now.

Being totally unfamiliar with these trails I must have looked lost. I was smart enough to print out a map of the trails and have it with me. This was a huge help because while the trails are marked, they are marked for that location only. There is no map at the junctions to help orient the runner. Often I pulled out my map to affirm that I was still going in the right direction.

From the parking lot, I followed the Turkey Ridge Trail. This was tough because I started climbing almost immediately. I switched over to the Little River Trail which led me back downhill to the Hemlock Nature Trail. I was snaking my way along these interior trails because I wanted to run the Chestnut Knob Trail. This trail leads to the Chestnut Know Trail overlook at 2,291 ft. This trail was the most rugged of all of the trails. Rocks steps, roots, stumps, super narrow off camber trails, and numerous switchbacks were the norm the entire way to the top.

I made a brief stop at the overlook to take in the view. Several people were coming and going so I decided to not linger very long.

From Chestnut Knob, I picked up Sawtooth Trail. Along this trail is where I took this panoramic picture shown above. 


The climb up is a tough but once I was on top, I was mainly running on old washed out fire roads along the ridgeline. I would climb up and down a few hundred feet. Some of the climbs and descents were gentle but others were steep in both directions.

From Sawtooth, I picked up the Upper CCC trail which transitioned to Horse Ridge Trail, then to the Lower CCC trail, to Bern Knob Trail. I was basically running the perimeter of the park at this point. Somewhere along the Bern Knob trail, I passed over the 2,894 ft mark. However, I never saw anything noting this.

In fact, I didn’t even realize that I had transitioned from the Bern Knob trail to the Raven Rock Trail. 

I simply saw a sign saying Raven Rock. This part of the trail is strange. I say strange because I am running along on this old fire road and then, I step out on a paved road about 8 feet wide with a dashed yellow line down the middle. For a moment, I thought I had missed a turn but upon checking my map, I could only conclude that this was part of the trail. Definitely, this section of pavement see no traffic since grass was growing up in the cracks.

This was the hottest section of the entire run. With the trees cut back, I was in total sunlight.

This road must have run for a couple of miles with ugly climbs and nasty downhills. Eventually, the road ended, and I saw a sign saying the Raven Rock Trail. It was all very confusing, and this was another good reason for me having my map.

My plan had been to follow the Raven Rock Trail to Saddleback Trail which led back to where I parked. Unfortunately, this trail was closed which meant I would be taking the long way back to my car. Thus, I followed Raven Rock back to Little River Trail. A long the way, I met several horseback riders. Each time, I slowed to give them plenty of room and not spook the horses.

Once along the Little River Trail, I could feel the coolness of the water. I was hot, tired, and sweaty, and I was ready to be finished.

In time, I made it back to my car. I had run further than expected - 22+ miles in 4 hours and 11 minutes but it was worth it. I got see to see some new sights, and I got to cover some new trails.

After I finished, I walked over to the stream and set down in the cold mountain water. At first, my legs stung from the cold, but once the sensation went away, oh, did it feel good. I just laid there for about 20 minutes. I wish that I could finish every run with a dip in cold mountain stream. 

The South Mountains trails are definitely on my to-do list for going back. There are probably another 20 or so miles of trails that I never got to see. I want to do them too. 

Next time, however, I will have a better idea of where I am running. I suspect that I will still need a map, however.



PS, today’s miles were recorded by my iPhone. When I pulled out of my driveway, something in the back of my mind told me that I was forgetting something. Half way to the park, I realized what it was – my Garmin. I assume that my phone was roughly accurate. I included the screen shot above. Tomorrow, I will be back on my Garmin.

The Cool Down Runner    

Run-cation - Day 3 – Latta Plantation Nature Park Trails


For day 3 of my run-cation, I headed to Latta Plantation Nature Park for some miles. Honestly, I am not sure why I don’t run here more. These trails are less than 5 miles from my house. However, I have not run on them in more than say 3 or 4 years.



I started with the Shady Trail and headed toward the western side of the park. I picked up a few of their hiking trails down by the water. But with the recent rain, some sections of the trail were flooded. I had to do some inline trekking to get around the flooded areas.

Coming back on the other side of the road, I picked up the Catawba and Buzzard Rock Trails. Buzzard Rock does give a nice of the lake, but there is another view which is even better. I picked up a couple more hiking trails before back tracking along the some of the trails. Then, I ran the Shady Trail in reverse back to parking lot.

With nearly 13 miles in the books, I headed out along the Hill trail. A long the way, I picked up the Split Rock Trail. Then I moved to the Cove Trail. Toward the midpoint of the Cove Trail, there is a short path out to the water. This little extension is work the extra run because the water's edge gives a much better view of lake. I wish I had my camera.

As I was looping around the backside of the Cove Trail, I was lost in thought. Then, a noise registered in the back of mind which brought my attention front and center. I was trying to reconcile what I was hearing. Someone seemed to be singing. Was I really hearing this correctly? I rounded the bend in the trail, and here was another runner coming toward me singing. I wasn’t going crazy. He was truly singing. I didn’t recognize the song but I did remember his flaming red hair.

After passing him, the rest of my run was uneventful. But I couldn’t help but smile. In my many years of running, I don’t recall ever seeing another runner singing. That is, they were singing while running. That’s something that I don’t have the wind to do.

Changing shoes back my car, I heard a familiar sound coming in the distance. He was coming back in to the parking lot, and he was still singing. As I drove away, I wondered how much faster that he could run if wasn’t singing. Guess, I will never know.


The Cool Down Runner    

Friday, May 22, 2020

Run-cation - Day 2 – Crowders' Mt Trails


For day 2 of my run-cation, I headed down to Crowders Mt. Crowders’ is always good for some climbing but I didn’t know what would be open given our Governor’s new orders.


From the signs, nothing appeared to have changed since my visit two weeks ago. The parking lot was empty not that I expected it to be crowded. Heavy rains were forecast to fall all day so I was likely to be the only idiot on the trails.

They have mapped out a loop for people to walk which goes up the Pinnacle trail to the Turnback trail which returns back to the parking. This is about a 2.2 mile loop.

As I was going up along the Pinnacle trail, I noticed that they left trail leading over to the camp grounds open. With camping currently not being allowed, I assumed that they were still allowing people to stroll the trails and gravel road. This was fortunate for me. I wondered down in to this section last year, and I figured that this would give me an opportunity to grab some extra mileage before heading off on the Crowders’ Mt trail.

Unlike yesterday, the rain was already falling when I left my car. In some places, the water would like a torrent coming down the mountain. Dry little branches were now streams with water heading from the high spots to the low spots.

I circled the camp ground road and popped out along the power line. I guess when they built the power line years ago, this road was left over. I don’t know if anyone else ever uses it but I do. This little section adds about 3 miles out and back. It is not well maintained so footing isn’t the best. However, social distancing isn’t a problem either.

Instead of going over the rocks on the Pinnacle trail, I went around them. This was a big mistake. The footing was terrible and made worse the deluge of rain falling. The Turnback trail was flooded in several spots so grabbing the edges was my only choice to pass through.

When I reached the parking lot to end the loop, I quickly turned around and headed the opposite direction. I did not want to give myself too long to think about it.

Back up Turnback and down Pinnacle, this time through the rocks was uneventful. I only saw one other soaked hiker.

I made the hard left and headed toward Crowders’ Mt. I knew that Tower and Backside trails were partially open so I planned on running some repeats if necessary to fill out my 20 miler.

The rocks were slick so I was treading carefully. When I popped out on the from the Crowders’ trail to the Backside trail, I saw the barricades instructing hikers to not proceed to the top. I touched the barrier and headed down Backside to Tower. Then, I ran up Tower to where it intersects with Rock Top. Here, the rangers also had a barricade. I touched it and headed back down. Now, I had a pretty good idea of where I could run. I could run from barrier to barrier which would give me some good climbing.

On the way down Tower, I met a Park Ranger driving up. I suspect that he was wondering what kind of fool would be out in this weather running. Honestly, I was envious of his nice warm truck.

I touched the Backside barrier for the 2nd time and started my second repeat. On the climb back up Tower, I met Park Ranger coming down. He said nothing to me. I guess that he was leaving me to suffer in silence.

Rounding the turn at the Rock Top, I suddenly realize that the barricade was gone along with the signs. Apparently, Crowders Mt is now fully open for business. I couldn’t resist the temptation. I pushed on to the top. I was likely going to be the first person to stand atop Crowders in several months. Some things are just too enticing to fight back. .

Of course, the view was lost in the white fluffy clouds so in my big moment, I couldn't see anything. The rain was still falling so I only indulged myself for a second or two. Time to head back down the trail and finish up this run.

All told, I only saw 4 people during the entire run. Everyone looked pretty much liked I did – soaked.

Tomorrow, I am off to Latta Plantation for some miles.

The Cool Down Runner    

Run-cation – Day 1 – Kings Mt Gateway Trail


Rain was expected to fall pretty much all day so I opted to start my run-cation on an easy course. This would be the Kings Mt. Gateway Trail. Interested in checking out the Gateway Trail, more info can be found here - https://www.carolinathreadtrailmap.org/trails/trail/kings-mountain-gateway-trail.


I had run a couple of races on this trail in the past few years so I knew the location of the trail head and the course. This made my starting day logistics a lot easier. The course is less trail and more crushed gravel. Still, this is easier on my legs than asphalt or concrete.

From the trail head, I followed the main path down for about ½ mile to the beginning of the Foote path. But before handing out on the Foote path, I figured that I would hit their little Everest. This is about ½ mile climb to the top of the hill. This climb isn’t super steep but doing before I am really warmed up does leave my quads groaning about my choices. From the top, I can look off in to the distance and see the bottom half of Crowders Mt. The upper half is obscured by the clouds. I wondered if those clouds would be there the next day when I visited Crowders Mt. I pushed the thought aside since there was no point in pondering something that I would find out soon enough.

The Foote path starts with some rollers for about 2 and ½ miles. Then, the course flattens out to the turnaround at 4.5 miles. Those first few miles were pretty good. Drizzle had settled over the area, and I only had to deal with the wind on the outer half of the course.

Finishing up my first loop of the Foote path, I thought about dropping my car. However, the rain was starting fall. If I went by my car, I might just opted out, and my adventure would be over before it started. Instead, I headed up little Everest for a second time. The view from the top was even more obscured. Crowders Mt was completely hidden by the clouds.

The rain really started to fall now. The cold water was running off the back of my cap and down the back of my neck. Water coated my hands. While the temperature was only about 51 degrees, the combination of the rain and wind chilled my hands. This had been unexpected given that we are now in May. I worked my hands open and closed in hopes that this would restore some of the circulation.

If anything, the rain got harder on the way back. I wished that I had worn an extra shirt.

I finished up right and the end of the Foote a path. As if noticing that I was no longer running, the rain eased off as well.

Day 1 was in the books. With 20 miles done, I headed home to get ready for tomorrow's 20 miler.

The Cool Down Runner








Thursday, May 21, 2020

Run-cation

In January, I planned out most of my vacation schedule. This past Wednesday through next Tuesday, I was to be on vacation. At least, this was my plan until the bottom dropped out. With my plans gone out the window, I am falling back to having a stay-cation or better yet, a run-cation.

I started wondering what I could do for a run-cation. As I was thinking about this, I have also been eyeing this 250 mile 5 day race next year. Right, as if running 100 miles wasn't enough, I am considering something 2 and half times longer. May be I gone totally bonkers to even consider doing something this long. Currently,I am considering it, but I have not dropped any money on it just yet.

With this mind, I thought it might be interesting to do a bunch of 20 miler back to back. In other words, I planning to do 6 x 20 miles over 6 days. That's right, I said that I was planning to do 6 x 20 miles over 6 days. That's a lot of running even for me.

I am interested to see how my body handles it. I am hoping that nothing breaks or breaks down. It will be more mileage than I have done during single 7 day training period.

Look for my reports to pop up here in the next few days
The Cool Down Runner




Sunday, May 17, 2020

Keeping the feel for speed

With each passing day, I feel like I am always loosing steps - always. My leg turnover will never be what it was from even a few years ago. I hate it but I have to accept that this is a part of every runner's life.

Still, I want to do things to slow this process. However, having this Covid moratorium on races is not helping me. I am not going through my normally yearly training progression.

To at least feel like I a doing something meaningful, I have modified my weekly training routine. Three days week usually separated by a day, I have been ending my runs with a fast finish. This is a concept that I used for many years in my marathon training. I brought in to my daily runs because this gives me an opportunity to run hard without putting a lot thought in to it or overly stressful workout on my body. Usually on M, W, & Friday, I will do this fast finish over either the last 1, 2, or 3 miles. I find that I feel fluid and strong upon finishing, and I walk away from the workout feeling really positive about it. I don't exactly what other than running fast has always made me feel better.

Until races start to materialize over the horizon try doing a fast finish in your shorter workouts. I don't know that this will make me super fast. It likely never will but this will give me an easier transition back in to speed work once I have target set of races. Success comes out preparation. Preparation is the work being done now. 

Thoughts to ponder.

The Cool Down Runner

Saturday, May 16, 2020

Lake Norman State Park Marathon


Last Sunday, I was down at Crowders Mt for some miles. This week, I headed north to Lake Norman State Park for some miles. With the NC state parks reopening, I felt the time was right to venture out to other trails.

Lake Norman State Park has 30+ miles in its Itusi tail system. Probably more than most people realize. With it only being about 30 minutes from Charlotte, the drive is pretty easy and quick one.

Something else pulling me back, I did some running here several years ago, so I decided to head back and recreate this run.

Before heading out, I was loading up my CamelBak with water. As I was filling it, the thought crossed my mind that it was going to be hot today. I decided to fill it completely to the top. This adds a little more weight but having a sip of water when I am hot and tired never gets old.

I headed out from the Lake Shore Trail head running along the edge of the run until I picked up the Laurel Loop which runs roughly 10 miles. The Laurel trail is a bit on the technical side with tight meandering switchbacks. They squeezed a lot miles in to a small amount of space.

Off of the Laurel Loop, I picked up the Wildlife, Fox, and the Fallstown loops. Interestingly, these are easier trails than the Laurel trail. What makes this interesting, they have no way to reach these trails other than running the Laurel Loop. Unless one rides around on the road and there is no parking at the small entrance to these trails.

Probably my favorite was the Wildlife trail which is about 4.5 miles long. Tons of soft dirt and pine needles cushioned each step. I could run it every day.

Coming off the Wildlife loop, I glanced at my Garmin. I was going to be about 10k short of a marathon. I was tired but otherwise, I was feeling pretty well. The weather was much warmer than last weekend but not over the top hot. Today was a good day to be on the trails. This is the moment when I made the decision to push on and hit the marathon distance today. Then, the wheels started turning in my head. Where I could pick up the additional mileage. The Monbo loop checked my box. This trail runs roughly a 10k distance and is rated easy. This is perfect for my needs. Plus, I have never run the Monbo loop which makes it something new to check out. I always love checking out a new trail.

Monbo ran really well. Although, I marked it less than the advertised 10k distance.
Then, I popped out for the final 2.2 miles back to my car. With one loop of the parking lot, my Garmin flashed up 26.2 miles in 5 hours and 14 minutes.

I was glad that I loaded up my CamelBak afterall. I drank the last of it with a half mile left in my run.

Will I continue these longer than normal runs. I don’t know. I enjoy doing them but when the heat pushes upward of 80s and 90s, they are not as much fun. I have to drink so much more water. Otherwise, I turn in to a running zombie.

At this time, I have nothing longer on my calendar for this summer if they even happen. Even the WWC 50 miler this fall has been canceled. It might just be time to stay with some 20 milers until the cool weather comes again. If all goes well, I can load up on longer runs in the fall and be ready for the Black Canyon 100k next February. I am crossing my fingers that it happens.

That’s all I got for now. Hope your running is going well.

The Cool Down Runner





Thursday, May 14, 2020

Virtual River Jam Race 10k Recap

This evening, I ran my first virtual race, and probably not my last virtual race.

After 8 weeks, I needed to feel at least a little of a race effort. Even if my only other competitors were me, myself, and I. I am sure you already know this but they are tough competitors. They ran lock step with me over the entire distance. Try as I might, I could not shake any of them. We crossed the finish line side by side - socially distance of course.

Last week, I got an email from the WWC. They were holding the first two races of their River Jam series as virtual races. The July race was not listed as virtual so maybe they are holding out hope that this would be a "hard" event vs a "virtual" one. I hope so.

Their virtual races are a little different from most virtual races. To participate, runners must do one of the River Jam 5k or 10k courses at the WWC within a given set of dates. Then, send the gpx file to the race director as confirmation of their effort. They marked the course as they typically do, and they hoisted two flags for the start finish line. Having done this course for many years now, I had no trouble following the arrows.

Running a solo race is nowhere near as much fun as running with others. The anticipation of the start was missing. The adrenaline rush of the surging from the starting line was not quite the same. The only one breathing hard as I rounded the channel was me.

Entering the trail, I will admit was quite a bit easier. No one was there to jockey with for position. I could run where I needed to run.

I bounced along the river for a couple of miles before running by the Weigh Station. Only couple of hikers were on the trail. I entered the Lake Loop, and the thought popped in to my head that I had promised myself to not do the 10k races this year. This was just another New Year's resolution that is slowing going by the wayside.

After enjoying the last couple of weeks with ideal temperatures, today, I was sweating more than normal. I could feel a little burn in the quads and my breathing felt a little more labored than I expected.  Otherwise, this run was going about as I expected.

I exited the woods, crossed the parking lot, and climbed the final hill before making my push to those finish line flags.

To those only lookers, I must have looked strange. Seeing a skinny, bearded man with arms pumping run so hard for no apparent reason. 

I stopped my Garmin at 48 minutes and 31 seconds. This was better than expected but slower than I wanted. You know how it is.

If you have not signed up, I recommend jumping in one of their races. We all have to do our part to help others until we all get past this virus world that is our new normal.

The Cool Down Runner






Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Black Canyon 100k

The one buckle missing from ultra distance collection is one for the 100k distance. Since last fall, I have been looking for a 100k to catch my attention.

The Black Canyon 100k checked a lot boxes for me. The race is point to point which is a type of course that I have never done. All of my ultras so far have been loops. Loops are okay, but they can get a little boring. I like to see something new with each step.

Next, I have never raced out west. Black Canyon definitely checks this box. I want to see some other parts of the country, and this race gives me a good place to start. The southwest has some awesome running trails that are just waiting for me to explore.

I am not sure how much of a lung buster that this race will be for me. I live at around 800 ft above sea level. From what I understand this course runs from 6000 to 8000 ft. If my lungs are not burning, I am pretty sure that my quads will be. On the bright side, they give 17 hours to complete it. I think that this doable for me. Let's hope so.

The bigger question is will race happen and how will I get there. At the moment, the race organizer are wait listing all entries until they are sure the race will happen. I may not know for sure that I am going until nearly Feb of '21. Who really knows what the world will be like by then. I would like to fly. Driving while possible, it would be a few days.

All I can do is prepare to race and then scramble at the last minute to put my travel plans in place. Despite the likely numerous huddles, I know that this this will be a great experience. I am already looking forward to it.

The Cool Down Runner


Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Races, what are the next steps

Last night, I listened in on Theoden's Facebook Live stream with three local race organizers: Jen, Justin, and Tim.

I was interested to hear their thoughts on what racing will look like in the coming months ahead. They all seem to be searching for what is the right path forward. I am just not sure if there is truly a right path.

The real question will comes down to will they be able to present an conducive environment where we will all feel comfortable again. I hope so. I want to race again.

Check out the video on Theoden's Facebook page - https://www.facebook.com/runwiththeoden/

The Cool Down Runner

Sunday, May 10, 2020

Last Cool Days before Summer 50k

On Thursday, I settled down to watch the evening news. The Weatherman starts talking about the weekend forecast which caught my attention. He is saying that the lows would be in the 40s with the highs in the low 60s. In the back of my mind, I am thinking that this might be the last good weekend for running before the days turn hot, and I mean really hot.

With this mind, I just couldn't resist the idea of knocking down one more 50k run while I could still enjoy the run without needing to go through several gallons of water to make it happen.

Saturday morning, I rolled off just after 8 AM. The chill was definitely in the air. I could feel a little cold sting on the back of my hands. While I was in the sun, I felt great. However, when I stepped in to the shade, I was certainly a good bit cooler.

By the end of the first 10 mile loop, the temperature was nearly ideal. A small breeze blew just enough that any heat from the sun stayed at bay.

I repacked my CamelBack and headed out for my 2nd loop. My legs still felt pretty good. At least, they continue to do so through about 17 miles. Then, I started feeling just a bit of stiffness in my knees. This seems to be a trend for me these days. Somewhere between 17 and 23 miles, the fatigue starts to settle in to my legs. Around 25 miles, it starts to disappear.

What I don't know here is if this is from me mentally starting to ignore these pain signals or have I just beaten these pain receptors in to submission. Perhaps, both are the case. No way, I know for sure.

My 3rd lap was just as uneventful as the previous two laps.

Since I had plenty to think about this in my 5 hours and 40 minutes of running, I started counting up my runs of roughly 26 miles or longer in the past 3 months. I realized that I have been on this cadence running 26 miles or longer every other week. In the past 3 months, I have run 7 runs between 26 and 50 miles. This is more training that I have ever done in the past 2 years of ultra running. I wish I could parlay in to some ultra racing but this doesn't look possible anytime soon.

Will leave you with this short story. On the back side of my run, a buddy pulls up beside me in his car. He yells at me from his car and starts rubbing his chin. He is asking me what's happening with my face - specifically about my beard. I have to laugh. I tell him this is what happens when one leads the quarantine life.

The Cool Down Runner

  


Saturday, May 9, 2020

Expected but not surprized

Earlier this week, the WWC sent out an email telling us that the New South Trail Marathon has been canceled for '20.

I have to say that I have been expecting it. I had held out hope that they might have an opportunity to hold it over the summer, but I guess that they reached a point and decided to call it for this year. They gave every indication that the race will be back next spring. I certainly hope that they are right.

Counter to what happens with most races, they gave back a full refund of my entry fee. This, I had not been expecting, and I certainly appreciated it.

I suspect that the WWC runs on a shoe string budget so refunding those entry fees had to hurt.

They didn't have to do this. They could have refunded a portion or none of it. The fact that they did this, in my eyes, earned them my loyalty when looking for local race. As I see it, they are put their customers first and want to do right by them.

They will definitely get more of my dollars in the future.

Something for others to keep in mind when choosing a race,

The Cool Down Runner

Sunday, April 26, 2020

Stepper

I am a huge fan of using the Stair Master as part of my training plans. In fact, the Stair Master has been a part of my training plans for well over 15 years.

Running is a hugely pounding sport. Every step carries upwards of 3 times my body weight throughout my legs.

As I have mature in years, I found this pounding can be more difficult to handle. Also, my recover takes longer.

I have to find ways to workout which don't involve overly stressing my lower body. I have never been a great swimmer or even a good one, and well, I am fare weather cyclist at best.

Using the stair master has always been a good alternative for me. They are low impact vs the impact of a running step. They strengthen the musculature which makes me hopefully better at climbing hills. Lastly, they can push up my heart rate in an instance.

I typically do 3 - 20 minute sessions per week. Within just this little window of time, I will be sweating as if I was running outside on a 95 degree day.

During just one session, I will have climbed roughly somewhere between 2200 and 2500 steps depending on my level during a session.


Strangely, I have been missing my stair master sessions at the YMCA. Given how things are going, I am not expecting to be back any time soon. Therefore, I needed a substitute.

Searching around Amazon, I found simple stepper machine. The machine is not Stair Master quality by any means. However, it is filling the void. I am back doing my 20 minutes sessions but now, like everyone else, I am working out on it at home.

The settings are super simple. The machine counts steps, and it provides me with the elapse time. That's all I really need.

For those working out at home, there are plenty of options. I found something that works for me, so don't be afraid to do your own research. You might find something that works for you.

The Cool Down Runner

    



Saturday, April 25, 2020

Extending No Shave Date

With our NC Governor extending our state stay at home through May 8, I am extending my no shave April to May 8. There is no point in shaving if there is no place to go.

What really strikes me is when I look in the mirror each day I am not sure that I recognize the guy looking back at me. Heck, my friends may not even recognize me now.

When I decide to shave this off, I am going to need clippers to cut if first. There no razor on earth that is going to shave this off now.

Then again, may be i will keep it. If I had more pepper than salt, I might consider it.

Who knows.

Stay strong and stay health my friends,

The Cool Down Runner

Friday, April 24, 2020

Lonesome 50k


This weekend I was to be turning the numerous trail races as part of the White Water Center’s TuckFest. I did these races last year and loved it.

Sadly, world events took a hard left turn so there is no racing this weekend. Oh, well, no point in worrying about it. Let’s move on.

In preparation for this weekend, I had taken today off from work. Now, I have the day off but nothing to do.

With a day free of worry, I headed out for a 50k run this morning on the trails. Why not spend the day outside. Take the time to enjoy nature and running.

I selected a course which is a little over 10ish miles. This way, 3 loops would bring me back to my car at just about 31 miles.

The first lap, the temperatures were in the low 60s so it was warm and humid for me. The gentle breeze helped. A little mud kicked up on my calves but otherwise, the first loop went by uneventfully.

The second lap, I could certainly tell that the temperatures was rising. Sweat dripped from my head. After a while, I took it off my hat and attached it my vest. Oh, did this feel better. When I turned in to the wind, the breeze cooled my head. This felt awesome. From then on, I only wore my hat when I was in the sun for any considerable amount of time.

Around 17 miles, I noticed that my legs were aching. Mainly, this happened when I turned in to a hill. I guess pushing my body uphill created more strain on my legs than I was realizing.

I finished the 2nd lap, and refueled at my car.

Heading out for the 3rd lap, my legs were hurting more than I expected or really wanted. I seem to go through periods where they really hurt and then after a certain of time, the ache seems to drift away. I don’t know whether this is physiological or psychological. Maybe it is a little bit of both. Maybe I just get used to it.

I also noticed that it was getting even warmer. I was definitely drinking more fluids.

At 27 miles, I made the final turn and headed back to my car. Something about this, the mind moves passed the effort and focuses on what is left to get me to finish.

I kept glancing at my Garmin. I had this internal goal of running under six hours. Some quick calculations told me that it was going to be close.

I had to pick it up over the last mile, but I did achieve my goal in 5 hours 59 minutes and 29 seconds.

In the last six weeks, I have run: 42 miles, 50 miles, and now a 50k. Not too bad if I do say so myself. 

With these runs, I am doing my best to keep things interesting. Giving myself goals is something that I need. With no races, I need to find a purpose elsewhere. These long training have been serving as this purpose.

Hopefully, all of you are finding your own ways give your running purpose.

The Cool Down Runner  

  






Saturday, April 18, 2020

Will We Race Again in ’20?


While running my 20 mile long run this morning, I mulled over this particular question.

I do my best to listen closely to the various news networks. I know that each puts their own spin the news. As an adult, I have a responsibility to read between the lines because this is where the truth really lays. On top of this, our government only tells us what they think we can handle. In some ways, they treat us like children. Telling us life will return to normal or some facsimile of normal in the near future. Giving us small goals only to change the finish line as the current goal nears its end date. I understand why they do this but it is still frustrating which is a whole other possible blog post. I do not want to get in to here.

Is it really feasible to have a race this year or even until we have a vaccine?

From my perspective, even if we reach Phase 3 of the President’s Guidelines, holding a race is still risky.

These are the things that crossed my mind:

·         Races depend on volunteers. Will people still step up to do this now.
·         Will races be able to have water stops. Not just because of the availability of volunteers but just from the perspective of someone handing out water.
·         Sharing or picking up of food is going to be a no go. Someone touches something, then I touch it and put my hands to my face. We cannot do this anymore.
·         Literally, I think every runner would have to bring their own food and drink.
·         What about the race shirt, pins, and bibs. The race resources will have to wear gloves, and I still would sanitize my hands.
·         A-symptomatic person are the most dangerous. They do not know that they have this virus. Do I need to wear a mask the entire time.
·         While during the race, we do spread out but our competitiveness nature tends to pulls together.
·         Social distancing might be more difficult that anyone thinks as we all mingle before the race.  
·         Maybe we have wave starts and no awards ceremonies.
·         Will they be testing each of us race morning. Do I now have to pay an additional fee for testing.
·         We all know that we could negative yesterday and positive today. What does this mean if I would test positive on race morning. How does the race handle this? They have to refuse my entry and hopefully refund my money. They have also have to tell everyone at the event and probably consult with the county health officials. It could well stop the race cold on race morning and everyone have to go home for 14 days.   


These are just a few of things that came to mind.

Like I said, holding a race will be risky. But if there is one thing that I have learned, we are all learning about this virus every day. What we knew yesterday changes with what we have learned to day. I am sure tomorrow will bring even more knowledge. Possibly by midsummer or fall, we will know if know that we can safely return to racing. Time will tell. I hope so. I miss it already. 

Stay active and stay well,

The Cool Down Runner



Thursday, April 16, 2020

Corona Beard

I am 16 days in to my Corona Beard Challenge. This is the longest that my beard has been in many years. Not only is it getting longer but the "saltiness" is very prevalent. Of course, I am still a few years away from any Santa jobs.

Apparently, having a beard is good for thinking. I setting at my desk the other day working on a problem. I had been thinking about this problem for maybe 15 minutes. Suddenly, I realized that I was setting there rubbing my beard.

In this Corona world that we live I probably should not be rubbing my face at all. However, in full disclosure, I am washing my hands more often these days.

I have 14 more days to go in this month. I am not sure if it will last very far in to May. Temperatures are going to soon warm up fast. We will see how it goes.

Stay strong, stay healthy, and stay home my friends,

The Cool Down Runner



Tuesday, April 14, 2020

17 steps/15 Sets

With no access to the Y, I have not had access to a stair master these days. I now find myself missing it. Seems strange say, right so I have been looking for a substitution.

I stumbled across this flight stairs during one of my runs. Well, I did not exactly stumble across it. I always knew about these stairs, but I just never thought about using it for workout.

I started up it, pumping my arms, and lifting my knees. This was definitely different from the stair master but strangely it felt good.

I ended up doing 15 sets of these 17 steps.  I have been back by it several times to repeat this workout.

These days are an adjustment for us all. We are all finding ways make the best of this difficult situation.

Stay healthy my friends,

The Cool Down Runner

Sunday, April 12, 2020

Solo 50 Miler

In mid March, I was looking to sign up for a 50 miler this weekend. As we all know, the bottom dropped out . Well, the really the bottom fell out about this time.


Since then, I did a 42 miler a few weeks ago so I knew that I was in shape to do one. Earlier this weekend, I decided to throw this in on top of my existing training.

Saturday morning, I staged my car at a good point for a nice 10 mile loop off the trails.



Actually, this day turned out to be a better day than I expected. Temperatures started out in the mid 30s so I needed some gloves for the first lap.  Temperatures rose but stabilized in the 60s which was perfect for the entire run.

I finished the 2nd lap. I dropped my gloves, refueled and headed out again.My legs were not feeling greatest but I refueled and headed out for my 3rd lap.

I chose to 10 mile loops because this works well for keeping the fluids and foods flowing, and 10 miles turns out to be a pretty manageable distance for laps. Surprisingly, I thought that maybe I would hate running the same loop 5 times. Mentally, doing loops can be a challenge. Nothing changes. Yet, on this day, this never happened to me.

At 30 miles, I was over the hump, and running 20 more miles seemed to be more doable now.

During this loop, I noticed that my quads were showing some wear. Soreness was creeping in on the downhills, but still they felt good on the climbs and flats.

At 40 miles, I could have quit any time. This was just me doing a run by myself but my goal distance still lay in front of me. I pushed off for the final 10 miles.

Soreness was creeping more and more in to quads. I ignored it.

The soreness would have been less of an issue if I had tapered in to this run but this was never my goal.

The miles clicked off one by one until number 50 flashed up on my Garmin. I slowed to walk, looked up at the sky, stretched my back, and took a long deep breathe. I was reminded what a beating running 50 miles gives me.

I looked down at my Garmin to see my elapse time. I had been running for 9 hours 13 minutes and 57 seconds. This was nearly 29 minutes faster than last 50 miler. I never expected to be able to run this fast. I spent most of the day just letting my legs run whatever felt comfortable. I did not have any time goal in mind. I was focused only on getting in the miles.

I broke down the splits below to give everyone some idea my pace, etc. I did note that my heart rate seems to jump around. This is something do with my Garmin 35. There are times that my heart rate spikes up. I would be worried about this but it does not happen with my other Garmin. It only occurs with this one.


Laps  Time Cumulative Time Avg HR Elev Gain Calories
1 09:27.9 09:27.9 122 173 77
2 10:15 19:43 121 131 77
3 09:49.9 29:32:00 121 85 67
4 10:59 40:32:00 118 33 72
5 10:51 51:23:00 120 101 71
6 12:31 1:03:54 118 103 87
7 11:25 1:15:19 144 113 106
8 10:34 1:25:52 146 124 105
9 11:39 1:37:31 147 67 112
10 09:25.7 1:46:57 151 96 99
11 12:01 1:58:57 146 113 104
12 10:12 2:09:10 139 152 59
13 09:51.3 2:19:01 145 66 77
14 10:39 2:29:40 152 50 104
15 10:48 2:40:29 164 57 124
16 12:20 2:52:49 166 115 141
17 12:37 3:05:26 168 94 146
18 10:40 3:16:06 167 88 122
19 11:41 3:27:47 165 130 127
20 09:34.7 3:37:22 172 66 118
21 11:50 3:49:12 168 105 134
22 09:40.4 3:58:52 172 155 120
23 10:36 4:09:29 171 90 127
24 10:11 4:19:40 175 79 129
25 11:10 4:30:50 172 38 131
26 11:39 4:42:29 140 103 70
27 12:07 4:54:36 132 91 65
28 11:44 5:06:20 128 85 53
29 11:02 5:17:22 133 121 40
30 11:28 5:28:49 133 78 50
31 09:50.5 5:38:40 135 113 27
32 11:38 5:50:18 132 114 42
33 10:41 6:00:59 171 148 131
34 09:54.3 6:10:54 172 78 123
35 11:01 6:21:54 172 58 134
36 11:19 6:33:13 151 82 81
37 12:38 6:45:52 134 88 73
38 12:23 6:58:14 142 111 76
39 10:53 7:09:07 133 116 38
40 11:56 7:21:03 136 129 61
41 10:16 7:31:19 135 48 30
42 12:18 7:43:36 129 107 34
43 10:12 7:53:48 131 183 30
44 10:44 8:04:32 129 71 34
45 10:31 8:15:04 133 111 41
46 11:22 8:26:26 133 64 61
47 12:11 8:38:37 131 110 67
48 12:34 8:51:11 162 109 135
49 11:27 9:02:38 169 83 136
50 11:19 9:13:57 169 96 133
51 00:01.6 9:13:59 168 -- 0
Summary 9:13:59 9:13:59 146 4,922 4,401

Hope everyone is staying well and able to run some miles,

The Cool Down Runner