Friday, October 30, 2015

Flyers race, 200s, and more runnin'

Great experience last weekend putting on the 1st annual Monster Dash race for the Cape Fear Flyers Club. Got to be involved in all aspects of race planning, and specifically, in designing two courses and marking as well as decorating them in a Halloween theme. With of course the help of some of my fellow coaches. Friday evening I was walking by myself through the Carolina Beach State park woods where the race was to be held. As darkness slowly descended upon the silent, still woods, I prayed that the Gods of running would watch over us, the runners, and all those involved... and that a fun, festive, competitive day could be had by all. Which, thankfully ended up being the experience shared amongst a hundred and fifty to two hundred people who turned out on a sunny, gorgeous autumn morning.

Wednesday after the rains cleared, I laid out three 200 meter courses for the Flyers kids, and some of us coaches like me to run on. We've got the kids grouped A, B, and C per ability. I took the top A kids through a 14 x 200m workout, averaging each rep in about 38 seconds, with a forty second rest interval. Kids ran hard, efficient. Talking to them on some of the reps about how workouts like this make us tougher, faster runners... able to dial up or tap into those last crucibles of energy in the latter stages of races, when our bodies and minds are flooding us with distress signals.

Then talking afterwards about the timeless wisdom of Frank Shorter. The importance of running fast and hard when it's time to run fast and hard, but conversely running slow and easy when it's time to recover and run slow and easy.

Though I violated that a bit myself running four miles with Amie the next morning around Greenfield Lake. We averaged a low to mid eight minute per mile pace, which again I told her impressed me about her running, since she is more into strength and weight training, and runs to supplement those activities. In my mind I told her I'm gauging how she would do versus the female competition in her age group (35-39) around the Wilmington area. Learning some valuable tips from her for my own ancillary strength and core work, which supplements my running.

Friday morning ran the Copas Road loop from my Dad's house in Brunswick County. Another pristine, sunny autumn morning... though I'm hoping for some more cooler weather again like we had about two weeks ago. Enjoyed the rambling run through the country side, and closed the last mile and a half of the eight and a half mile run fairly strong in a mid six to low seven minute per mile pace. Got lost in my own thoughts... the rest of the Flyers cross country season, ramping my own training slowly back up, entering some upcoming races.  Cognizant of my form in the last three quarters of mile... something I need to be more aware of.

Looking forward to a Saturday morning run tomorrow in the Carolina Beach State park with Peyton and some of the kids.

If I can paraphrase what a wise man once said... if you get to spend an hour each day doing something you love... life aint half bad.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Fall rolls on

Last Friday ran 3 threshold miles on the roads in Carolina Beach. Splits were 6:25, 6:18, 6:19. Felt a bit better than the last time I tried a harder tempo run, but I still didn't have what I would call my top end gear.

I think part of this is that I am still recovering from the high mileage of the summer, followed by a grueling 30 mile ultra in the Appalachian mountains Labor Day weekend. Recovering in the sense of being able to tap into those higher end yet controlled paces as I was able to better do during the spring.

But late Monday afternoon was a different story as I ran another quasi time trial through the 6k course in the Carolina Beach State Park that we will be using for our inaugural Cape Fear Flyers Monster Dash. Running 95% on trails (some of which consist of loose sand, or are literally covered in six inches of water) I laid down mile splits of 7:02, 6:41, 6:22, 6:32.  And felt like I was cruising at a fairly hard but not too strenuous pace and effort. Was pleased afterwards.

Took the older kids through the course then later at practice. Told them my time, and that its the current course record. Sarah correctly pointed out that I was the only one who had run it so far. They enjoyed being out on the trails and in the woods. Mixed in several one minute bursts of race pace running. Got back to the marina parking lot just before dark.

The weather really cooled off the past few days. What a welcome change from the warmth and humidity. Even put on a long sleeve shirt and gloves running Sunday morning in the State Park with Amie. Took her through some real water logged spots on the trails too. She toughed it out quite well.

Playing the fall race calendar by ear, and slowly upping some mileage. Doing some calf/ Achilles exercises and stretches to try and heal up my lower left leg. Perhaps it is slowly paying some dividends. The negative side effects of the sport we love.

Which helps us all appreciate the runs we do get in all the more.

Monday, October 12, 2015

TaTas 5k

Ran an 18:59 5k at the Run for TaTa's race in Wilmington, NC on Saturday. Felt like it was a faster effort than that, and in fact my garmin recorded the distance run as 3.22 miles. So unofficially I am chalking the effort up as around an 18:30 5k. Finished 13th overall out of 750+ runners, and was the 1st Masters finisher. Actually was awarded $75 for top Masers, which unless I am forgetting a race, was the first time I have ever won prize money at an event.

Also the Cape Fear Flyers kids I help coach ran very well; was so pleased and happy for them afterwards as were my fellow coaches and some of the parents who were in attendance.  Several of the kids won age group awards in the 5k, and also we had the 1st place finisher in the mile race. It's a tremendous feeling to see hard work pay off, and the kids reap the benefits while also enjoying themselves

I am still fighting through some aches and pains; specifically my left achilles, and discomfort on the bottom and side of my right foot. For the moment neither of which prevent me from doing what I have been doing, and want to do.  Though it would be nice if some of it would abate in the near future, and necessitates continual monitoring and efforts to alleviate.

Felt like I had a pretty good effort and ran a fairly smart race Saturday. Splits were 6:04, 5:52, 6:00. First mile included some maneuvering around fellow competitors, especially the field of women who started this unique chaser race 2 minutes and thirty seconds before all the men.

Pushed the last quarter to half mile hard, and ended the race with a real hard kick from about 200 meters out. A guy who I passed even joked about it afterwards how I was flying on in to the finish. But I've learned from the past, that even if a gut wrenching kick is not necessary to try and beat a fellow racer, I usually will see my time later and think dam had I just gone all out it would have made my time 3, 5, 8? seconds faster which would have made my finish time a little more pleasing to me. And in this case it got my official finish time under 19 minutes. Plus it's good training for when I may really need that kick.

Mainly though I didn't shy away from the pain. I was able to sustain and push through especially in the darkest stretch of the race from about the half way point to around the two and half mile mark, where there was a turn around. And that voice which can get progressively louder, progressively more persuasive... the one which pleads and begs us to slow down, tells us this hurts too much, asks us why in god's name are we doing this?  That voice I was able to pretty much stifle and mute, and just for this race not pay too much heed to.

It'll be back again next hard workout. Next race. And I'll deal with it then.

For now, I will enjoy the fruits of my labor.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Unconditional Love

The roads, trails, the track... have always been there for me.

They have always loved me, no matter what state of mind, body, and spirit I show up in on that particular day.

Yesterday the trails in the Carolina Beach State Park provided just the solace, comfort, and communication I needed. They weren't particularly swayed by my confusion over a emotions rubbed a bit raw, my innermost self whispering "let go..."

And when I thought about my Mom and a tear rolled down my cheek as I ran up thru the Swamp Trail  ((everyone I know goes away in the end, I hear the guitar strumming gently, sadly, beautifully in the Nine Inch Nails version of the song Hurt))  -  the trails accepted me for exactly who I was at that given moment. They do not judge, pity, uplift, counsel, advise... they are just there.

There when we need them the most.

Wednesday night I ran 2 x 1200 meters before Flyers Cross Country practice, then 6 x 800 meters with Owen and Zac... all in the low 3 minute range. Tough, controlled running. I needed an outlet, I needed to rage a little in a constructive way... and the grassy half mile course on the Ashley and Murray school grounds was there. It didn't say a word to me, and afterwards I felt better.

Out here we get what we need. We can be our flawed, human selves... and not have to explain why we feel like we do, why we want what we want, why we act the way we act sometimes. Our sweat and tears fall softly into the ground, all to reappear later in this wonderful, mysterious grand circle of life.

None of us ever have to feel like we are not loved.

Monday, October 5, 2015


Some days that extra gear is not there. Such was the case this past Saturday morning. Got up early (6:30a) to meet the Ashley HS kids at the Carolina Beach Rec Center for their voluntary practice, but unbeknownst to me it had been cancelled due to the weather.

Perhaps since we usually run mile repeats, and get a harder workout in, I decided to try and run some threshold miles on the roads from Carolina Beach down to Kure Beach and back. A brief heavy shower hit, and I almost bagged it; perhaps mother nature was trying to send me a message.  But once my running shoes are on, and the garmin watch strapped to my wrist, it takes much more than a volatile atmospheric system to get me to abort the run.

The rains subsided and I got in a solid 3 miles, cutting the pace down to about a 7:20/ mile, before I ramped up for what I had planned to be 3 more miles at threshold pace in the 6:15- 6:20/ mile range.

I didn't feel too bad, but it also wasn't clicking. The effort was a bit too strenuous for what I felt the results should be pace wise, though truth be told it was still a pretty solid workout. I got 2.5 miles in at a 6:30/ mile pace before I shut it down along the main drag on the island, Lake Park Blvd. But the humidity was much more of a bear than I had anticipated, and when the winds gusted off the ocean it made the running doubly difficult.

After a real easy half mile though, I decided to add some hard, longer sprints in. I ran for a 10th of a mile close to all out, followed by a 10th of a mile slow recovery jog, and repeated 5 times. Felt pretty good doing so physically... ran them all under 30 seconds, or sub 5:00 / mile pace. And I felt good since I had salvaged some more of the work-out. Or perhaps a better of way of stating, is that I felt a lot better mentally about the entire output of the morning's running after the elongated sprints. I even dry heaved and almost yakked after one of them.

As a runner I've learned over the years to adjust on the fly... quite literally some days. It's better to get part of a work out in, then none at all. Or to not blow up a hard run too early, instead of attempting to recalibrate.

I've also had several harder efforts the past two weeks as well, which is likely adding a bit of accumulated fatigue to my legs. Will slot in some off days and easier runs before the big Tata's 5K this coming Saturday.

I carry forth, one step at a time.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Sloshing Along

8 mile run today in the rain.

Parts of the trails in the Carolina Beach State Park were flooded out. Mainly along the marsh lands that parallel and are back off the Cape Fear River in the southern section of the park.

I wore a lightweight and water proof jacket which kept me fairly dry, and a ball cap as well. Temps were fairly mild, which plays a large part in whether or not a run in the rain will be enjoyable or not. Today was definitely enjoyable. In fact it was one of those it's good to be alive type runs.

Especially back along the Oak Toe trail spur which travels almost right along part of the river's shoreline. A thick bank of whitish grey clouds hung low over the river. Sheets of misty wind driven rain fell a short ways down onto the surface of the river, which rippled steadily from the effects of the storm system moving up from the south.

The marsh and the river were almost sort of converging together from the edge of the woods about a quarter mile inland to edge of the river. I found myself splish splashing thru 6 inches to a foot of water, save for the one wooden bridge that goes over a small inlet. The pier at the trail's end was almost becoming submerged at it's farthest point, as the river was cresting fairly high.

And I had the park to myself, at least for the time I was out there I saw no-one. Just me and mother nature renewing our communion once again. Days like this I more acutely aware that I am provided with all I need at such moments in time. Maybe we truly are in our own heavens, and the trick is just to realize it as such.

Today I was able to reach out and touch it. Ended the run on the beach, while watching the waves unfurl, crash, and roll high up onto the sand...

Thank you.