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Showing posts from September, 2008

Six Gap...the pain is past

Check out these smiling faces...it's some of the Gainesville Cycling Club crew, acting rather chipper the night before Six Gap.

Dahlonega, Georgia is a beautiful area in the southeastern United States; I used to ride motorcycles in and around the curvy, scenic roads in the early 80's. But now it was time for a return on two wheels without the engine. The only pistons pumping on the Six Gap ride were my very sore and now tender legs.

I could go into dozens of details, but bottom line this was one of my most intense efforts, over a given time period, in my endurance career. There are concise explanations given for the actual 104 mile course, but I can sum it up simply:

You climb very steep and very long hills and then you descend.

Six times.

The start was massive, with 2300 riders off the line. The first 30 minutes was a 2000 rider peloton. Riders were shoulder to shoulder. During one of my first shifts, I threw the chain. As I scurried off the road, hundreds of riders rolled b…

Endurance stories for the human race

This is the last in my installment regarding podcast options for running and racing.

Endurance Planet provides short interviews and story lines with everyday competitors.

"Breakaway Friday" is one of my favorites, where an excerpt from a selected book paints the vision of endurance sport from many perspectives.

Check out the latest offerings at http://www.enduranceplanet.com/.

Competitor Radio and the latest on Lance

In addition to music from Podrunner, I enjoy the latest podcasts from the world of endurance sport.

Two of the all-time greats in triathlon - Bob Babbitt and Paul Huddle - host a great web-based interview show entitled Competitor Radio.

I have enjoyed excellent runs while the sport's elite tell their tales. One of my favorites is Dave Scott talking about Ironwars, the epic race with Mark Allen at the HawaiianIronman Triathlon.

And, there are other pertinent real-time updates. Check out this link for an in-depth interview with Bob Roll, regarding Lance Armstrong's return to the Tour de France in 2009:

http://www.competitorradio.com/details.php?show=265.

It's evident that the miles can get long and lonely. But when I have a download of interviews and music mixes, the miles float by.

Running and being an endurance competitor is a great opportunity. So come out and run and immerse yourself in the sport.

Ground-pounding tunes

I don't know about you...but having tunes blasting into my head during a morning run just seems to make the day turn out right.

Background music allows me to daydream and go deep within my thoughts. That's a positive element of endurance sport, the opportunity to think and reflect on one's core being and the journey ahead.

I'd like to give a shout out to one of the best values on the Internet: Podrunner. The music service is FREE and offers weekly downloads, set to various beats-per-minute.

This week's selection is "Rumrunner" at 169 bpm. That's a wild and hectic pace, and the beat will get into your head and eventually make your feet follow along. I used it this morning while doing my six mile loop on the U of FL campus.

Check it out at: http://www.djsteveboy.com/podrunner.html

I really do like the high bpm mixes. I used them to my advantage at the Sarasota 50K last year, where I was running along the last half of the race. I had downloaded and sa…

Time for new treads...

I just love this time of year, when my current running shoes have seen better days and it's time to transition to the latest models with the crisp, cushioned feel that new shoes deliver.

I've been training and racing in Brooks products for over a decade, so I really don't know much about other brands. I find it intriguing to test a variety of Brooks products, so that I have a broad understanding of the performance features available.

I had six pairs of Brooks shoes "in stock" in my closet, so for this rotation I chose the Adrenaline GTS 8 (top), the new Switch (center) and the updated Burn 3 (bottom).

One key suggestion I'd make to all road and trail runners is that they rotate a series of shoes. Each model of shoe breaks down in a different way and by rotating through 3-4 pairs at a time, a variance is created between the impact points on each day's run. I have been rotating shoes for a long time now and I believe it's part of the reason I have been…

A boost for the system

One of my rituals each morning is ingesting a daily intake of vitamins and other supplements.

I can't say that my combo of nutritional goodies has a highly scientific premise, but there is a method to the madness nonetheless.

I am not advocating these products for everyone, but simply want to demonstrate what has worked for me over the past decade or so:

B 1oo% complex (release energy from carbos, fat, and protein)
Vitamin E - 400 IU (for broken down immune systems)
Centrum-style "complete" multivitamin
Aspirin 81 mg (potential to avoid heart attacks)
Omega 3 (fish, flax and borage oils - reduce risk of heart disease and stroke)
Iron 65 mg (I'm a vegetarian)
C - 1000 mg (the body's defense, lower cancer risk, improve iron absorption)
Glucosamine & Chondroitin (healthy joints)

Daily supplements are part of a healthy and active lifestyle, where I maintain a level of performance that defies my age. There's always room for improvement on diet. Supplements alone can…

(I don't) know when to quit

The photo at left is a shot from the finish line of the Mohican 100 mile. You can see the deep tiredness in my eyes and face, a culmination of a lack of sleep combined with muscle groups that faded many hours before.

There's something about making the finish that means everything to me. It's a completeness of being, bringing closure to an epic journey you started over a full day before.

But, I also realize that my tenacity and strong will have been a burden to others. Those who crew me at races watch as I melt down, come unglued, and struggle to put one foot in front of the other. They have loved me and cared for me and knew that the best possible solution was for me to stop and call it quits.

That seldom happened.

There was the time my shin was throbbing and inflamed, where every step brought pain. So instead of dropping, I kept shoving backs of ice into the front of my tube sock, and death marched 40 miles to the finish.

On other occasions it has been my feet. It seems I se…

Ultra memories...and the new generation

Check out this dude.

Kyle Skaggs.

In July, he won the Hardrock 100 Endurance Race in the San Juan Mountains of Colorado. Skaggs won the race in 23 hours, 23 minutes and 30 seconds destroying the old record of 26 hours and 8 minutes.

Hardrock has an average elevation around 11,000, a total of 33,000 feet of climb and 13 peaks over 12,000-feet; finishing is a feat in itself.

This ultra man runs around 150 miles a week, mostly on the trails he races on. He represents the new generation of ultrarunners, those who are taking the sport to the next level.

It's a long, far cry from my ultra existence. I have yet to break 24 hours for 100 miles (24:32 is my best) and I was racing on relatively "flat" ground in places such as Ohio, North Carolina and Vermont.

But it's all good nonetheless. The great thing about ultrarunning is that most of us don't compete against each other, but rather ourselves. It's the war against our own inner spirit; many times quitting or finish…

Can we rise above the rhetoric?

OK, OK, I realize this isn't a political blog. But as I jogged this morning (there's the link) I was thinking: What would happen if politicians and their pundits refused to criticize or ridicule their opponent?

The anti-rhetoric is flying both ways, from both parties. Accusations of lies, deceit, incompetence.

Just what would happen if a candidate stood tall, and simply stated he/she would rise about the fray? What if the candidate stated that he/she would stand on the beliefs and ideals they presented, and would refuse to speak negatively about the other party?

Could an election be won without the hate-mongering so common today?

Maybe so, but I would guess not. However, I will make one point: Many of us have been raised to be respectful of others. My mother would teach me, "if you can't say something nice about someone, don't say anything at all."

I realize Pam Anderson, Lindsay Lohan, Matt Damon and others would disagree...and that is their right. But a…

The advent of a new beginning

It was the fall of 1983. I was living a unhealthy lifestyle, ingesting unbridled restaurant food and way too many drinks on most occasions. I was working the Wrangler PR account, and was traveling the motocross and Supercross circuits. I made almost every major sports stadium in the country that year, and attended approximately 33 events - including many NASCAR races when I could fit them in.

Something had to give, either my way of being, or my pants that were about to explode at the seams. So, I put one foot in front of the other, and began to jog in a slow and painful fashion. The exercise increased when I purchased a low end bicycle that came as a promo from Maico motorcycles...and I was soon spinning the crank.

Then, the most insane diet I ever embraced came next. I was living on about 1000 calories per day. Mid-morning, I'd have a thin PB&J, and then two Weight Watchers "meals" rounded out my intake. For a big treat at night, I'd pour my serving over a…

Chronically undertrained...

Here's another suggestion for master competitors who want to journey forward:

Don't train and race like me.

I have been known for being able to "pull one out of the bag" on way too many occasions; many times life got in the way of acceptable preparation for a race, but I'd turn out nonetheless and compete.

Sometimes a bit thick, sometimes hurt, sometimes just lazy and out of shape.

But when the gun went off, old ultramasher Tommy would burst onto the trail and into the woods, acting like a fine-tuned stallion.

The photo above is yours truly at the Guana 50K near Jacksonville in 2007. I was pudgy, and my belly had a bit of a flop to it. But that said, I ran hard and came up with a negative split on the last of four laps, passing several runners en route.

All good stuff, and once again, the performance was greater than the body that produced it.

What have I learned in all of this? I'll still pull a few out of the bag going forward, but I'll NEVER attempt it aga…

Keep on keeping on...

I was in the gym this morning, feeling pretty good about myself.

I'm back to a place where my fitness level is peaked and despite a bad disc in my back, my body is once again taut and lean.

So, let's get back to what Master Competitor was designed for...ramblings on how to stay in the game. I'm 51, have a degenerative right knee and the bulging disc in my back puts discomfort into my left leg, which keeps me up at night.

That said, I can still find a path around the pain and find a way to train. Hey, that rhymes, let's hold the thought.

Most of the endurance athletes I have known from my glory years of the 1980's have faded to black. That does not make them bad, just refocused on other things in life. But for me, the endurance lifestyle never ends, it's a way of being.

I'd like others my age to come back into the game. It's not going to be about more and higher quality workouts...rather gentle, ongoing effort that allows one to enjoy continued participa…

Memories of my past...

It was a hot, sticky morning in north Florida.

I ran without a shirt, something I don't often do. Sweat cascaded down my body, through my shorts, and eventually soaked my socks and the liners in my shoes.

While I jogged, my MP3 was blasting the Best of the 80's Hair Bands Volume II.

Very good stuff.

When I run, I daydream. About things past and present, and where the future is taking me.

Today's daydream incorporated some of my fondest memories, of my early training years in Greensboro, North Carolina. I was just coming into my triathlon era in 1984 -1986, and was loving life while running in Greensboro Park, Guilford Battleground Park, and on the Lake Brandt trails.

All of these wonderful areas were interconnected, and I would wander from pea gravel paths to wooded single track to paved run and bike trails. Runner's heaven, and it was magnified through four full seasons each year.

Running has been such a large component of my life. Recently, I have been opting out of my…

Favre and Armstrong...say it ain't so

There has been a big hissing sound in the world of professional sports over the past several months.

That's the sound of the air going out of the ball, when there's too much inflation, then a pop...then a shell without any pressure to hold it firm and intact.

That hissing sound represents the egos of Brett Favre and Lance Armstrong, as their retirement/unretirement dance continues to amaze and intrigue pro football and cycling fans.

Favre retired from the Green Bay Packers, unretired, and sent the Wisconsin team into a tizzy when reporting to training camp. After an ugly public feud, Favre moved on the the New York Jets, and resumed his career without much interruption. Lance is rumored to be coming out of retirement and riding for the Astana Cycling Team, though the team denies it at this point. The comback would include another run at the Tour de France in 2009.

This isn't a judgment call on either athlete. I can't imagine being on top of the world, admired by millio…

They're all equal...

I find the current presidential race intriguing.

And, my thermometer for excitement is my own opinion, and what issues/personalities either draw me to, or push me away from, a political party.

It would be highly interesting to conduct post-election political research, to determine the key indicators that influenced votes.

Some individuals are highly invested in the political process. I have a friend who was involved in Obama's campaign in the primary race, and I admired his commitment and level of knowledge. Many know the issues, where the candidates stand, and in turn make a very informed decision on how to vote.

Others may vote based on more peripheral information, i.e. the lifestyle represented by a candidate that mirrors their own. Or, a candidate's working class upbringing might offer a greater comfort zone.

In the end, however one comes to a decision to vote, each vote remains equal. Whether highly informed, or influenced by factors other than the issues, a vote is a vote…

This shouldn't affect me...but it does

The political battle leading to the next president of the United States is underway. It's a full on, knock-out battle to the finish. And, as responsible citizens, we should be taking in all the information available on the candidates, so that we can make an informed choice at the polls.

Sarah Palin has come into the national political arena like a whirlwind. You may either support or reject her premise, but nonetheless it's going to be a wild ride for the VP nominee on the Republican ticket.

So, in learning more about Sarah, we extend our knowledge base to her five children, and husband. And to that end, I learned this morning that Todd Palin, Sarah's husband, is a top competitor in the 2,000 mile Iron Dog snowmobile race in Big Lake, Alaska. Teams race for 1,100 miles to Nome, before heading to the finish in Fairbanks.

What does this have to do with politics? Really nothing, but it has affected me. I'm a small town boy from Wisconsin, who had a love affair with sn…