Sunday, April 26, 2020


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

Thursday, April 9, 2020

Wearing a face mask

I never thought in my life that I would be wearing a face mask out in public - running aside.

Given our new normal these days, I needed to swing my the grocery store, and when I stepped out of my car, I was wearing my face mask.

Yes, I felt awkward wearing it. I wondered if anyone would notice when entered the store.  As far as I could tell, my entrance drew no attention.

Based on a rough head count, I would say only about 50 percent of the people were wearing face masks. Most everyone was observing the social distancing as best as possible in the store. After all the aisles are only so wide and with two way traffic.

I did not linger. I got what I needed, checked out, and headed back home.

Listening to the people that know way more about this than me, I expect to be wearing a face mask in public for the foreseeable future.

At least until they have a vaccine for the virus.

Right, I have no idea if I have had it, have it, or have not had it. In any of these 3 cases, I do not want to expose myself to it, or if I am a-symptomatic give it to anyone else.

Better to be safe than sorry.

Thoughts from the Cool Down Runner

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Social Distancing

Today, I was talking with one my friends, and I was going on about the loneliness of a long distance runner.

Yes, having a buddy to share the miles certainly helps. No argument here.

However, lately, there has been a no fly zone for running buddies. Runners really need to heed the warnings our government health officials. Runners right now need to be doing all of their runs solo, and I am going to tell you exactly why this should be the case.

If I were to run with a buddy, and they later develop this Corona Virus and die from it, while I would never be sure that they got it from me, doubt would always lay on my mind for the rest of my life. I do not want this to ever be the case. No, the best option is to for now run alone. I want my running buddies to be around for many years to come and giving me a hard time along the way.  At no point do I want to put their lives at risk.

Just think about this before you ask someone to run with you. You will survive, and eventfully, you will be able to run with them again.

The Cool Down Runner

Monday, April 6, 2020

Washing your hands

I always thought that I was pretty good at washing my hand. I knew about washing them with soap and hot water and counting to 20 seconds or singing the happy birthday song.

Watching Dr. Sanjay Gupta demonstrate how to way your hands made me realize that I needed to do a better job.

If you have not watched this video, please take a few minutes and watch it. I changed how I wash my hands. You might well find that it changes what you do as well.

The Cool Down Runner

No Shave April

I have not had a full beard in many years, and I have realized in the last couple of weeks that my beard has become a salt and pepper beard. In truth, my beard is more on the salty side than the pepper side these days.

I really like to have a clean shaven face but given that I am no longer going out in to public these days, I figured that shaving is more optional than a requirement.

My plan is do this for all of April.

Who is going to join me?

The Cool Down Runner

Sunday, April 5, 2020

2nd Shift

A couple of weeks ago, my company came to many of us and asked about some of us working 2nd shift. With so many people in our company now working remote now, we were overwhelming the VPN in to our company's network during normal business hours.

Being a team player, I volunteered.

After working this schedule for the last couple of weeks, I am thinking about asking if I could make it permanent.

Instead of juggling emails with tons of questions and back to back to back etc meetings on top of my existing work through out the day, I now have my meetings squeezed in to a 3 hour window in the afternoon. Then, around 6 pm things quiet down. I am able to get so much work done undestracted. I feel that I am so much more efficient now.

This is a time to flexible and team player as it turns working 2nd shift is not all that bad.

The Cool Down Runner

Thursday, April 2, 2020

Breaking down my Enchiladas last weekend

This is pretty unimportant considering what’s going on in the world, but for me, writing serves as a diversion. Right now, we all need a little diversion in my life.

When I first started thinking about this run, I played out the different ways that I could run the trails. My goal was to run as much of every trail as possible. I wanted to maximize my on trail time.

To do this, I decided to break the trail in to 3 sections. Section one, I would do the trails to the west and the south of the WWC. Section two, I would do the East Side trails, and Section three, I would those to the north of the WWC.

I placed my car in the parking where I could easily access it between each of these sections.

I started out along North Main trail, picked up Jack Rabbit, Figure 8, Tortuga, Academy, Thread, Needle, back to Thread, back to Figure 8, and then finally back on to North Main. I wanted to do this section first when it was cool. I knew that the day was going to be hot. Air does not stir very well in this section so it can be very hot. Getting it done during the cooler morning hours made a lot sense.

From North Main, I picked up South Main, Carpet, Tower, Wedge, Goat, Weigh Station, Toilet Bowl, Slalom, and Lake Loop. By the time that I popped out of the woods, I was at nearly 22 miles. Roughly, I figured that I was half way.

I refueled at my car, and I headed off on section 2. During this section, I would be running along the East Main and Tributary trails. This covers another 9ish miles.

By the time, I returned to my car, I was at 30 miles. I was feeling a little tired but I felt it was more do the temperature being in the upper 80s. This was warmest day so far in 2020.

However, I was eager to get started on the final section of my run. During this section I ran Parkway, Prairie Dog, Bandit, Panda, Smokey, and Rail. I put this section last because I knew my legs would be tired. These trails are some of the lesser technical trails at the WWC. However, I thought this was about 9 miles. It turns out that it was closer 12 miles.

I finished my run where the trail runs out near guard shake.

Now, I have pretty fair idea how many miles that the WWC has. 

Stay strong and stay well,

The Cool Down Runner  

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Climbing the Stairs

With no ability to use a stair master lately, I am facing a bit of withdrawal. Today, I was walking by this flight of stairs so I had to do it. After the first set, I did 12 more sets. Doesn't equate to doing a stair master workout but I was able to get a little burn from it.  Felt good.

We all must do what we can.

Stay Active and stay healthy,

The Cool Down Runner