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Showing posts from May, 2009

One more for the road

Well, just a moment to spare before blasting off for home.

It's 6:30 am here; we're on a flight from Paris to Miami around 10 am, back around 2, then a six hour drive to Gainesville.

How strange. Life does take courage as we march from one chapter to the next in our book of life. This concludes three fabulous years with the U of FL mass comm study abroad program. With it came epic runs in the Aussie outback, wonderful jogs on the peak of Athens, running the back roads and hills of Greek islands, the massive city park in Madrid, and now what I'll call the "river run experience" in France.

Maybe the coffee cups aren't big enough, but so many other things have been big in my life. Just the fact that tour leaders thought enough of me to keep me involved for three years will be something I always cherish.

I don't want to take good things for granted; I have learned to soak up and possess the good so that it can be a core strength when times are bad. For now …

Runabout in Paris

It's our last day in one last runabout through the city to cap a fabulous month in France.

I doubled back to the Parc de Bercy on the "right bank" side of the Seine; had to get an image of the character above; its expression so well represents the feeling I have just before urping up at ultra races...disoriented, sick and inquisitive all at once.

Jesse met me for the Bercy park run and since she's staying at one of our other host hotels, we opted to run north along the river, past Notre Dame and then on to the Louvre and the beautiful attached gardens. We did about 90 minutes total...Jesse headed back to her hotel and I took the tram back to my side of town.

This trip has allowed to me accept much more about who I am, about how to be comfortable in my own skin. I have invested heavily in endurance sport and Christian theology over many years. Of course, that eclectic mix has made me what I am today. There are other areas (many, actually) where my cohorts …

Le Parc de Bercy

We're down to 48 hours and then outta here, so it was time to take advantage of our final days in France.

This morning, I went on a bit of a runabout, first to the northwest from our hotel at Place d' Italie to Jardin du Luxenbourg. Three laps around the park and back gave me 60 minutes, but after a quick pit stop I headed out again, this time to the northeast across the La Seine River to Le Parc de Bercy.

A tremendous bridge - for foot traffic only - took me across the river to the park. Running was silent and valued, as I cut through and among the shaded paths and rows of flower gardens.

For the first time, the magic of it all came into my being: I'm running aimlessly through Paris. It's at these times in life I am glad I believe in God, because I really do need someone(thing) to thank. My life is just too plain good to be luck. Someone gave me a big spiff over the past three years and it just needed to be said...thank you God.

So, here I am, blogging to you this a…

I know where I'm going

Was running in Lyon yesterday and had some '80's hairband music blasting on my MP3.

Came across this David Coverdale tune from his Whitesnake era.

As I ran through a city park, I realized this song constitutes much of my life. But when it's time to once again fly solo, there will always be morning runs in my beloved North Carolina.

I played the song a couple of times. As life unfolds in front of us, we can be sure that new adventures await.

I don't know where I'm going
But, I sure know where I've been
Hanging on the promises
In songs of yesterday
An I've made up my mind
I ain't wasting no more time

Tho I keep searching for an answer
I never seem to find what I'm looking for
Oh lord, I prayYou give me strength to carry on
'cause I know what it means
To walk along the lonely street of dreams

An here I go again on my own
Goin' down the only road I've ever known
Like a hobo I was born to walk alone
An I've made up my mind
I ain't wasting no more time


Lyon and the river

This keyboard is the lobby of the hotel...been running at the convergence of the Rhone and Saone rivers in Lyon. The running and cycling activity is high along the river paths; to the left of the hotel dusty trails take me to an open city park and to the right is a paved path to the university and metro areas.

I'm now running 2 to 3 times a day. Kendall, Kim, Jesse and Alex have been running mates. Extra proud of Alex yesterday - it was her first run this year and we went out into the heat of the day. Two miles is a good start, I'm sure there will be more to come.

Master competitor is getting ready for the move to NC. Back into the lush green trees and elevation. When my life changes, running is part of the foundation.

I'll post some interesting photos soon.

Ged man

I've been running a bit in Bordeaux - our last day here before we transport the group to Lyon tomorrow. Did about 12 miles today, first to the north to Le Lac, where pine covered trails ran around the edge of the water.

Then, back to the hotel for a bit of hydration, then out again along the River la garonne. Today I ran south until the running path ended, which culminated in about 200 yards of boardwalk.

Folks, here's a lifestyle lesson.

This is Ged.

The Ged man. Ged-o-rama. Gedacious dude.

Ged is our AIFS (American Institute for Foreign Study) leader and tour guide in France.

He's been doing the U.S. student gig for about nine years. Ged's a Brit who spends much of his time in France, making sure groups like ours - 80 students from the U of FL - have a safe and enjoyable experience.

Jed likes to run, ride bikes (recently crashed and hurt some ribs) and enjoys spectating at some of the great world motorsport events (gotta love that). Ged keeps his car and a few belongi…

Power foods

Forgot I had this photo...thanks to Meredith Muller for capturing this moment.

I felt like Lance having a power meal before a big stage of the tour. We were having a welcome dinner at a rather fine restaurant in Paris. Under my usual protocol, I spoke with our int'l tour director and told her I would like a vegetarian option.

So here you have it: A splooge of milky mashed potatoes, pyramid of white rice and a smattering of vegetables.

Once the starch raced into my system, I capped the energy load with a sugar rush/creme brulee.

I have learned in my travels:

1) Observe, don't judge
2) Stay flexible
3) Find food alternatives

So it's been a shift of diet, I'm now into a modified Atkins program with cheese and eggs, supplemented with whole grain bread (it's wonderful here) and dried fruits.

Of course, wine and beer to wash it all down.

I have been running along the River la garonne in to come next time.

Not so ugly American

I have a confession. The photo at left is a French AGD - attention getting device - that I am using to lure you into my rant for today. I took this photo yesterday near the Louvre while wandering through Paris. But now, on to things related to this blog...

Today was a repeat of yesterday's run, northeast from the hotel about 1.5 miles to Luxenbourg Park. It's a 15 minute jog to gate 4, and the interior loops are about 12-13 minutes each. I did two laps plus a bit more, then headed back for a total of 60 minutes.

I have been pondering the "ugly American" stereotype that prevails. Though I have tried my best as a good German Lutheran raised-boy to be respectful to all, I do believe running may have allowed this American to to rear his (ugly) head.

Streets are busy to and from the park. It feels as if I'm playing human pinball getting through the streets. Sidestepping and lurching from fast to slow is hard on the knees and in many cases I'm dodging second-ha…

Germ wars

Living in big cities for extended periods of time can create an amazing opportunity for germ transfer. The air in London and Paris - pollution and pollen combined - can cause many to sneeze and hack.

So, it's easy to see where germs will be in and around us at all points in the day.

It seems that the swine flu crisis is behind us, at least for now. While in England, I noted a great UK public service TV commercial, where a man sneezes in an elevator, then touches a wall rail. A child touches the same spot, then holds his mother's hand...well, you get it.

So the campaign explains the tactics needed - use a tissue to "catch" the sneeze; get the tissue into a waste receptacle (there are very few garbage bins in London, that's another story) and then kill the remaining germs with a thorough washing of one's hands.

The imagery and message was well done. Simply "putting a face" on something we know and understand.

I'm out the door for anothe city run …

Knocking the dust off at Luxenbourg

Here's one of the athletic types who is traveling with the U of FL mass comm journey through France.

Jesse called me out for a run and her challenge actually fired my brain enough to get me out the door and into the park. I have been bagging the workouts for over a week and for the first time in ten years, I don't know why. Jet lag has taken hold of me, but it seems I could soldier on through. Today was the day for a new beginning.

It was really quite simple. We walked from the hotel to the subway, took the 6 line to the 4, and emerged a few hundred yards from Luxenbourg Park. We started a slow, methodical jog, with each loop taking 13 minutes running time. We put three laps in the books and started walking back to the metro.

But something had changed on the inside. Master competitor felt as if a layer of silt had lifted away and the sun was shining through. Flowers and trees were everywhere and getting off the streets of Paris offered a freash awakening.

Tomorrow, we'…

Ice Age tribute

Here's a couple of hungry young heroes, new to the ultra world.

And on this special day, master competitor needs to get them a shout-out.

It's the brother-sister team of Aaron and Annie Ruffcorn. Both are young and fast, but both have seen setbacks due to injuries.

But when they're firing on all cylinders, it's a fast-paced game to the finish.

Aaron and Annie ran together and posted a 5:08 at last Saturday's Ice Age 50K near Whitewater, Wisconsin. I hold the Ice Age course dear to heart and have eight (8) 50 mile finishes there. Now, a new generation is coming to the forefront and that is natural and good.

Aaron was well up in the 50K men's results, while Annie took top honors for the women's 50K. Both live and work in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and Aaron was a class cohort when we did an MBA together at Otterbein College in Ohio.

Good friends, good fun, I'm really happy for them and their success on the undulating hills of the Kettle Moraine.

Sorry that I hav…

Outta here and off to France

It's time to pack the tent and travel afar. I became part of the U of FL mass comm study abroad program in 2007, when we journeyed to Australia; last year it was Greece and Spain, and this time around we're off to France for the month of May.

Tomorrow it's Miami to Paris direct with 85 students and a support staff of faculty and trip supervisors. Now that I've done this gig a few times I know what it takes - a bit counselor, surrogate parent, instructor and drill sergeant.

We're in Paris for about 1o days. Next weekend I'm taking a side trip to London, then back for travel to Bordeaux and Lyon. The mass comm trips are always epic in nature and fulfilling.

You can expect updates, hopefully a connection with the Paris running community, and some interesting observations from Tommy master competitor along the way.

My life is speeding up and changes look to be in store. I'll report more soon, but my career may take me into a new and intriguing place, where the…