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Showing posts from January, 2009

Pain versus pleasure

Be careful if you run into this character to the right.

He's dangerous and will cause you much pain.

That's Wayne Gregory, my ultra buddy from Sidney, Australia. Went I went "down under" in 2007, Wayne adopted me and took master competitor on two epic outback runs - Great North Road and Six Foot Track.

On one run, the Aussie boys told me about the highly poisonous snakes. One bloke told me "if you get bit, mate, just sit down and have a cigarette; that's all the time you'll have left!""

With that warning in mind, I took on some of the most amazing trail I have traversed in years. But the point of this story is the levels at which I can - and want to - train.

Wayne and his cronies are wide open, lactate dripping, endurance pain maniacs. The first run I did with this posse was the Sydney Running Club's weekly Sunday run...we did an 18-mile loop around the city, a wonderful journey, but at a pace that nearly exploded my ticker. I could barely …

Trimmed to fit...

This photo isn't the best quality, but I'm sure you "get the picture"...this is fall 2006, my first season in Florida, and I was fit and trim and wound about as tight as a guitar string.

Florida became many things to me. When I took on my first Florida summer, I thought it impossible to run; the heat and humidity were too oppressive and I had incurred several bad experiences in hot weather ultra runs.

But over time I understood. In Florida, even the fast dudes (and dudettes) lope along at a slow, methodical pace. It isn't pretty high speed running, but it's relentless forward motion.

I learned to get out early on those thick summer mornings, trying to stay ahead of what would become piercing rays of sun. And to add frosting to the cake, I joined the Florida Track Club. A small group of committed runners met every Tues and Thurs evenings and those runs turned into my weekly speed work.

Two running compatriots, James and Ed, were older than master competitor,…

Music time

Life is feeling pretty good right now. I've been racking up the miles and despite some aches and pains have returned to my run-every-day mode.

I know it won't last forever, but right now I am overcoming the body breakdown. As long as I focus on gentle foot strikes and stay in chi stance, my body has structural integrity and is resilient enough to keep going.

Thought I'd go on a short anti-iPod rant. It's not that I don't like Apple products...I just don't own any of them and don't want to pay the prices they command. Instead, I go alternative.

Check out the Ultra (gotta love that name) Hydra MP3 player to top right. I purchased this thing over two years ago from and the little soldier has been marching forward ever since. It's a simple 1GB player, links up to the USB port like a memory stick and never fails to get the job done. It also has a voice recorder - in case I need to leave my last will and testament on the trail - and a …

What's up with Willie?

I really don't know why I posted this...but here's a rather thick version of master competitor in 1993, chatting it up with country music legend Willie Nelson. I worked a bit with Willie when Wrangler Jeans sponsored his tour in the mid 1980's and then later crossed his path in this shot when Mercury Marine featured Willie at its dealer convention in Nashville. All good, the singing cowboy has fans all over the world and I am one of them. What does this have to do with this blog? Nothing really, but that's the glory of being a blog master...I rule this kingdom!

So back to reality...I ran four (4) hours at the San Felasco State Park running trails yesterday and backed it up with a one hour run this morning. There are a few telltale pains in my left leg (pinched nerve at the lower disc) and some pain in my right knee (meniscus or arthritis?) but in the end I remain encouraged and motivated.

I love to run. I realize that cross training with swimming and the gym and cy…

Gators on my tail...

Well, I wanted to post a quick master competitor update to all of you who are on the edge of your seats, waiting and worrying about my effort at the upcoming Green Swamp 50K.

There's a lot of hype around this event regarding its difficulty. As the artwork to the left suggests, we are to be fearful of semi-aquatic creatures that might devour us in the wetlands.

Actually, a course description has been posted and we're looking at a river crossing near the end of the race.

So bring on the Green Swamp monsters.

What I like about this race is that it's a true loop course. No disrespect to the other fine ultras in Florida, but multiple loop courses have a repetitious flavor of their own. A single loop adds the dimension that every foot strike is one more step towards the finish. And, all the terrain is new to discover and there is no pre-planning for the loops to come.

I'm getting locked and loaded for this race. It's a great way to break out the ultra calendar for 2009.

Cool running

Here's another retro shot of Tommy Terrific looking calm and collected in the Horse Camp aid station at the Mohican 100 mile.

This is the second time through, around mile 38. I'm fit and trim and making time.

In my previous video blog posting, you may have noted my voice was raspy, I was cold and wet, and the miles were coming hard. This is the same point in the same race one year later.

Though I ran one hour slower in 2003 - about 25 hours, 30 minutes - it was the "easiest" 100-miler I have ever done. I ran unencumbered and free, completed the race, hung out for a while and then went home to mow the lawn!

This was one of the only years I didn't tear up my feet in a 100-miler. How and why I don't really know, but on all accounts it was an exceptional year.

So here I am at the U of FL, doing morning runs on campus. It's been crisp and in the 20's and the sharp air invigorates my senses. Steam rolls off my wicking tights and my headphones are bundled i…

Thank you Brooks!

Here's a great retro file I just found in my photo's a shout out to my sponsor Brooks.

This snippet was taken at the 2002 Mohican 100 mile endurance run. I was cold and wet but was moving well. This race became my personal record for 100 miles - 24 hours and 32 minutes.

I have been a Brooks "Inspire Daily" athlete for over ten years. The Brooks credo of inspiring others to live a healthy and active lifestyle fits my own view of the world around me.

Thank you Brooks for allowing me to promote your products. I really do enjoy our relationship.

Shake down

It was time to stop the head fantasies and face reality.

Master competitor isn't ready for the Green Swamp 50K on February 7 and conditioning is in order.

So I did a 3-hour run on the San Felasco trails yesterday. I wasn't moving fast but three hours should get me somewhere near halfway in a tough 50K race - such as Green Swamp is portended to be.

I may have been at this game for a long time, but there are always new things to learn. I worked hard on my ChiRunning stance, working to keep my body erect, leaning slightly forward at the ankles, so that my footstrike hit exactly below my frame. This "structural integrity" allows the body to absorb each impact through its core and there is less torque on the knees and joints.

I also wore a pulse meter, an old Bike Nashbar model (I'd use my Suunto watch but didn't want to carry the 300-page owner's manual to operate it). Also used a new foot setup: wore a rather worn pair of Brooks Adrenaline ASR's, with w…

Now this is better...

Hey, I don't want to dole out too many epic photos in one day...but after that fatty shot from the New York City Marathon, I had to dig a bit deeper, and found this:

Check out that attractive specimen (second from right) circa 1986...only a year earlier and Tommy Terrific was looking pretty ripped.

I'll tell you this triathlon training camp was one of the high points of my master competitor career. On the left is Mark Hinson, the best triathlete in the southeast in the mid 19890's...and far right is Frank Kohlenstein, a soccer coach from South Carolina and the dude who got me into ultrarunning...that's tanned and toned Tommy next to David Bailey, one of the greatest men who ever threw a leg over two wheels with an engine.

So, right around the time of this camp, I crewed for Frank at the Western States 100 mile endurance run in California. Hinson ran with Frank through a very tough 20 mile desert section and when he made it to the next check, he pulled me aside and told…

Pounding New York circa 1987

Some would state that a picture says a thousand words. Well in this case maybe more than 1000.

That's master competitor on the right, circa 1987, pounding out something around a 3:30 at the New York City Marathon.

Those shorts give me the heebie-jeebies. What were we thinking, did anyone in that era ever hear of inseam length?

And how about the heavy cotton cutaway running top? Let me tell you, scratchy cotton on raw nipples...well...many of you know what I am referring to.

I think those are Nike Air Max on my feet. Is that what they were called? Those are faded memories. I tried Nike in my early days and then got on the right track when I went exclusively Brooks in the early 1990's...personal preference rules.

The other interesting fact is that my body looks thick! What the *$$%($#??? I had this vision of a taut, sub 6% body fat stud and then pudgy runs right into the frame of this photo!

One other thing people sometimes don't lie. And in this instance, I …

The ultimate ultrarunner

Here's a tribute post to my ultrarunning hero - Rob Apple.

Rob has been around for a l-o-n-g time on the ultrarunning scene. He now has over 500 finishes and is going more "global" with overseas events. Rob is pictured here with his ultrarunning partner and lady friend Susan Donnely. Susan is a big name in the sport and can get 'er done...she is a past women's winner at the demanding Superior Trail 100 mile.

So without waxing on, following are a few comments from Rob himself, off the web site. These thoughts are a few years old, but still ring true.

If you're a master competitor, can you see yourself in the profile?

Physical Considerations
Most ultrarunners in the beginning of their career are near the peak of their running years. They have probably reached PRs in the shorter distances and realizing this are seeking new challenges. I remember ten years ago I was much better trained physically than today. As an ultrarunner reaches their PR for 50…

I owe you one...

Sorry, ladies and gents.

I have been delinquent in posting. And that is not respectful to my worldwide base of master competitor disciples.

So, what do I have for you today?

Not much.

I seem to have a lull in motivation. And I'm still basking in the afterglow of the Tour deFelasco (see posting below) from last weekend.

The Green Swamp 50K looms ahead on February 7. Serious business and I should be into a heavy prep mode.

But I am not.

I was in the gym this morning, forcing a few reps on the weight stations. I was pondering the positive (no more back and leg pain!) but also the negative (how to get motivated for my 26th year of endurance sport).

A former student of mine is running a marathon in Jacksonville next month. She completed an 18-mile long run yesterday and is poised to nail a 20-miler before the race.

It's all so good. The first time is one of the best. I can live vicariously through these young athletes. I see the spark that was at one time within me, that spark of enl…

Heavy metal

I'm proud to report that Tom Terrific, master competitor who is a legend in his own mind, finished the Tour deFelasco 50-mile mountain bike ride this past Saturday.

What a rush. Being back in the woods on a mountain bike. I need to give a huge shout-out to Jeff Moser, my hometown buddy from Wisconsin who now lives in Gainesville and who loaned me a wonderful Trek Fuel dual-suspension mountain bike for the ride.

But to some, I was on dated iron. Trek (pictured above) and Cannondale were both on the scene with big rigs and demo rides. The latest in off-road technology is miles from when I first got into the sport in the mid 1980's. Front and rear suspension has been highly perfected; it's no longer the pogo-stick-like spring forks we initially rode, but now full hydraulic fork and shock assemblies with rebound damping that really works.

And, hydraulics doesn't stop there. Top of the line bikes now have full hydraulic brakes front a rear for maximum stopping power in th…

Chi master

What a weekend.

The folks at Brooks Sports - my #1 sponsor - emailed last week and asked for volunteers to assist on Friday in the Brooks sales area at the Disneyworld Marathon.

That was a must-do.

And, I had a standing commitment to ride the Tour deFelasco, the local 50-mile epic mountain bike ride in and around San Felasco State Park on Saturday.

Must-do #2; more to come on that fiasco later.

I drove over to Orlando early Friday and walked the expo. One of the first interactions was with none other than the running chi master himself, Danny Dreyer.

Danny has been a huge boost for the running community. He combined his knowledge of ultrarunning and his practice of chi sport to create ChiRunning (and walking). The chi stance - a vertical posture with the use of gravity to "fall" forward - has added a new, practical dimension to my running and has helped me deal with aggravating injuries.

I bought the ChiRunning book in May of 2006 and devoured it. Danny's approach to runnin…

"Lite" the engine

I love training and racing.

I really love life when I feel the motivation start to burn in my soul.

But most times it takes a few changes to build the discipline necessary to be an empowered master competitor.

I've been using Myoplex Lite the past week. It's not cheap, $6 - $8 for a 4-pack. But, drastic indulging calls for drastic recovery measures.

The website says:

"Myoplex Lite has a specially formulated proprietary blend of protein comprised of ion-exchanged whey protein as well as soy-protein isolates, which have been shown to support the metabolism as well as muscle mass, especially during a low-calorie diet or an intense training cycle. Scientific studies show soy-protein isolates may help minimize suppression of thyroid-hormone production, which frequently occurs during calorie restriction. Oftentimes, when you go on a low-calorie diet, your body fights back by slowing down your metabolic rate, possibly by reducing thyroid-hormone production. When th…

The ultimate test

Here's one to try at home - but make sure you have some soft carpet to land on. It's the very difficult movement of exercise ball push-ups with feet elevated.

I can do one or two before I buckle. Core strength, balance, patience and upper chest and arm power are necessary to keep your body stable.

I attempt to crank out a few fast reps, but fast won't work. It's about slow, methodical movement while maintaining perfect balance. Every muscle in your body goes taut with the effort.

So, tonight I might have a Heineken and give it another try. Take a shot at this and let me know how you do.

No moderation

It's time to tell a secret:

I am not gifted at moderation.

When I'm thin, I'm living on protein shakes and training like a banshee (I really don't know how banshees train but I bet they really hammer).

When I'm "off the wagon" it's sugar and snacks and overeating...and then slow, slogging jogs that take my energy.

So, I'm "on the razor" and attempting to purge my diet and get back on track for 2009. It's not so much a resolution, just a necessity, as I have a 50 mile mountain bike tour Saturday, and I've entered the Green Swamp 50K in early February.

I like gimmicks. Don't know if they all work, but they give me constant reminders that I'm turning it back around - Hydroxycut, Myoplex, Vitalert, etc. Bring 'em on.

After a few days of cleaning out my system, the engine is starting to purr once again. The runs are coming on with some steam at the finish. So, at 52, the master competitor can once again fantasize about what…

An aerobic start for 2009

The best way to kick off a new year is with a run.

Where ever you are.

We were able to get out every day while in Wausau, Wisconsin. Most of the mileage was logged in Marathon Park, a quiet and sometimes formidable course for fair weather runners.

On some days, the paths were plowed and then swept, which gave them a polished feel - much like glare ice that shines back at you. On other occasions we tramped through fresh show, where each step brought a squeak beneath your feet.

An outer loop of the park measured 1.5 miles, so we did four loops for a six mile total.

Most excellent.

Running is a foundational element in my life. 2009 will mark my 26th year of endurance sport. Despite aching knees and a tender back, plodding along at 12 minute miles still brings joy into my heart.

I am thankful that running has been a good friend and teacher. I hope to maintain the momentum going forward.