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Showing posts from July, 2009

Fat = $$$$

No matter where you turn in today's media circles, there are news reports and conjecture on the state of health care in the United States.

It's a time of polarized opinions and philosophical differences among many. But whatever your personal beliefs may be, master competitor has to share what he deems the "ultracare" model for pricing our medical services.

Someone on the radio yesterday (sorry that I didn't catch the source) suggested a new program where U.S. citizens would have to go to a registered physician for a body fat analysis. The bottom line of the program was that those who had more body fat would subsidize their health care at a higher level; those with less body fat would pay less.

There were times I was living on rice cakes and coffee, where my body fat hovered around the 6% range. At presents, I'm around 9%. Guess I'd be sitting in the cheap seats for a health care plan based on those body fat stats.

What I'm not sure of is the correlati…

Got 'er done

Still seems strange to report, but master competitor achieved "final clearance" on his dissertation and is now a doctor of philosophy.

Dr. Mueller is in the house.

Have to admit there's a vacuum on the back side of this accomplishment. The striving and work and effort and setbacks all blend together and the journey is past. It's now in the rear view mirror and new things are ahead. There's a completeness to it, a sense that this novel has been read and it's time to start a new chapter in the book of life.

Running and cycling help me process these thoughts. There's something about a casual jog along my favorite roads and trails that aid in synthesizing a complex time with many unknown variables.

What I have sensed most in the past few days is a desire to think less of self and help others. Whether it's endurance sports or students at Appalachian State or new friends who cross my path, I want to contribute to their lives. The 3-year PhD journey brough…

Salty talk

Busy Sunday. Got up early and did about 12 miles at San Felasco this morning with Joanna. She is committed to running the Croom 50K this fall and needs the trail experience. Conditions felt hot and wet. We talked at length about the 55 mile bike ride yesterday, specifically about how individuals interact and socialize.

Then I attended my final service at First Lutheran in Gainesville. Part of the readings included verses from Colossians 4. They seemed especially valid:

Walk in wisdom towards outsiders, making the best use of time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.

Just what am I contributing to others who cross my path in life? At times I'm elusive and isolated while riding. That's not a reflection on the group; rather, I daydream and think through many perplexing thoughts, meditate, and just plain check out mentally to rest.

But on other occasions, when I'm in a different place, I think le…

It's never enough

My running partner Joanna gave me a going away gift last evening. It's a DVD documentary of three individuals who ran across the entire length of the Sahara desert.

This saga generated chaos on many fronts. The journey was to take 80 days, and eventually took over 100; tempers flared and key crew members had to opt out as the weeks dragged on. But in the end these three adventurers slogged through about 50 miles a day - every day - and finished the trek.

But not all is well with the world. I felt the narcissistic pull of egocentrism that can plague the hearts of ambitious endurance athletes. It can become all about you and the goal, with little recognition or acknowledgment for loved ones around you. In an opening scene in the documentary, one of the runners is enjoying life at home with his girlfriend and two sons. His girlfriend makes several journeys to visit him on the run. But what of the boys and a four month separation from their father?

Many years ago, I was pulling m…

Good then, good now

I am once again in the process of moving. Part of that effort is purging what seemed important, but is now countless boxes of "stuff." While doing my clean-up, I came upon the following:

Enjoyment is something that will catch.
Contrary to belief, it cannot be caught.
Some people chase it to many strange places,
to bleak buildings, inside their own homes.
They run and run, passing the enjoyment itself,
to go beyond and find they have run the course,
outdistanced the most distant, and have returned
to find they are catching up on the beginning.

It's poetic rhetoric from master competitor, circa 1976.

I was studying under English prof John (J.D.) Whitney, a man with great influence in my life. John had a long pony tail and rode a Harley. He was somewhat out of the box but taught with a style that made me feel relevant and worthwhile.

Maybe I'm still chasing enjoyment and the poem above holds merit. It's interesting how the poem had a running theme, many years before I becam…

Humble beginnings

Heard a great definition of humility while in church this morning:

Humility isn't thinking less of yourself.

Humility is thinking of yourself less.

Simple, yet profound.

Tommy master competitor was attempting to filter this definition through his personal lens on life. I am one who is just now completing a career change (to being an academic and PhD) where I will head down a new path in life as an assistant professor at Appalachian State.

Millions of others are finding themselves unemployed, searching to re-employ, or planning to attempt their own career changes.

The rampant introspection that accompanies these changes will on occasion make one think less of self. When one's path breaks down and there is no clear direction, reinventing and altering the persona is a tough challenge.

The mind works best when the body is tuned, so if you're in this "special" place in life, please consider the endurance sport lifestyle. Work on the body and diet and the mind will have an…

Bike talk

Bicycles are a lot of fun. And I have been able to triple my pleasure with three very practical rides: My Felt F60 road bike, Haro mountain bike converted to a city commuter, and now the Gary Fisher Cobia I picked up used about a week ago.

There are better and more decorated rides to be had, but for master competitor's place in life, I have a nice stable of equipment. Please humor me as a give you a bit of "bike talk" on this Saturday afternoon.

Felt: Just came in from a nice 58-miler. After five years the Felt still feels light, tight and resilient. I paid $1500 for this ride in 2005 and it came with ShimanoUltegraderailleurs front and rear and "Flight Deck" shifters in the brake hoods. I bought a triple (three chainrings at the crank pedals) and could have opted for a double...wish I had bought the double, but sure have dropped it into the granny gear (lowest chain ring) during some big climbs like Hogpen at Six Gap. Downside of this ride is that Felt s…

Strange events

Are there strange or unique events in your life that puzzle and amaze you? Are they weird enough to stand the test of time?

Here's a goofy scenario. It was my coming back party to Mercury Marine (1993), just past the episode in my life where I almost succumbed to Guillaine-Barre - a nerve disorder that left me paralyzed and without the ability to breathe.

I was a bit tipsy and my balance wasn't all the way back, but I returned to work after the 3 month illness (a fast recovery by GBS standards).
On my way in the door, I received a motorcycle cake and the Twilight-Zone-like scenario of everyone in the office wearing a Tommy Terrific mask. There's something about seeing yourself in everyone else that bring terror deep into the psyche.

It was a strange time in that I wanted to return to the master competitor lifestyle but was inconsistent in my efforts. My body had been ravaged and I didn't seem to have the push to succeed. I did manage a 50 mile run that May, so life …

Old bones

Here's a funny one for you...old master man in 1985, racing in his Wrangler Triathlon Team colors. Check out that Bianchi with the pink handlebar tape; what was that all about?

At the time, I didn't know much about bikes and didn't want to listen, so I ordered the largest frame Bianchi had - a 63cm. Bike never fit, way too large and had to run a super short steering stem.

Strong body, weak brain, I guess.

Today's lesson is focused on adaptability. It's about how our body can accept and process change as we age over time - if we keep our bodies in motion and chugging forward.

I'm 52, have arthritis in my right thumb joint, a degenerating right knee and a deep pulled something or other in the right side of my groin. And for a reference on my back, please check out the MRI on the sidebar to the right. But each and every day, master competitor is out the door for his six mile run and on weekends the bicycle goes into play for 40-50 mile rides.

It's not that I&#…

Less work, more speed

Saw the following on Scott Dunlap's Trail Runner's blog. Seems that being out of work in a tough economy has one advantage. Check out this feature from the New York Times:

Today's run will feature Joanna. She is a neighbor and an emerging endurance sports athlete. It's fun to watch someone in their mid-20's get into the sport. We have been comparing notes on her journey and mine, over 25 years prior.

That's what works so well in the master competitor lifestyle; the essence of the run and love of the adventure bridges the gap of time and space.

Words to live by

Was listening to a podcast from www.enduranceplanet. com this morning. Heard a great quote attributed to running guru George Sheehan:

"Anyone who isn't willing to spend time with him(her) self on a two-hour trail run must not be a very interesting person."

Also read a before-service prayer in the bulletin at church on Sunday. It talked about "spending too much time inside our own story."

I hooked up and got some traction with that one.

So if it's really not about our story, what story should we be telling? What's your story? Is it more compelling that mine? Can I combine my story with your story to make a better story?

Was thinking that in just a few weeks, I'll be telling whatever story I deem appropriate when I hit the ground running at Appalachian State. Time to fine tune the message. What I say really shouldn't be about me, it should serve as a benefit to others.

I'll get started on that right after I get this PhD thing in my rear view …

That was then...

Just received this photo from one of the grad students who traveled with me to France. What's interesting is that these are the three females I did the most running with while overseas.

Left to right it's Kendall, Adrienne and Jesse.

Seems like a long time ago, now that life is on warp speed and I'm about two weeks out from North Carolina. But that's not to minimize the fine times I had running in France. In summary, it defined my trip.

There's something about running in a new place and talking with a friend that makes life worthwhile. Exercise, discussion and sharing views on eclectic topics is stimulating. I enjoy those moments and want to thank the three girls in this photo for sharing their running time with me.

I'm in the final stages of my dissertation and my PhD defense is on Wednesday. It's showtime and I need to be a rock star when that time comes.

It's time for master competitor to step up to the plate, swing the bat, and hit as least a doubl…

Sign o' the times...

It's Saturday am, the new (used) 29er is in the car and I'm heading out to San Felasco nature preserve to participate in a trail clean up day. Met my buddy Jeff Moser and his friend Dennis. We rode into the woods about 8 am with saws, shears and clippers.

Hey, that part's all was entering the park that was less than wonderful.

I rode up to the gate and jumped out to pay my fee...I use both the mountain bike and running sections of the park and am glad to pay my $2 each time. But today, the governmental authorities opted for a price $4!

100% increase in one fell swoop? That sort of mark-up bears some afterthought. Some of my managerial economics kicked in and I was processing utility cost - the next best opportunity foregone. Was there a better way to spend that four bucks on a Saturday morning? What's my threshold of spending for a couple of hours in the woods?

I realize times are tight and taxpayers are picking up more of the cost all the way aro…

Toy time

There's an old saying: One man's trash is another man's treasure.

I wouldn't say this Gary Fisher Cobia is trash; but it sure has become my treasure. A rider from the Gainesville Cycling Club posted online that he had this ride for sale, and I could barely believe it. I've been looking for a used 29er (29" wheels) with a suspension front end and hardtail rear frame. And, when this beauty became available with a 19" frame - my size - I almost soiled my pants.

A couple of days later it's mine. Don't want to say what I paid, but it was the right price for me. And the seller threw in SPD pedals and a spare rear rim, so I feel quite flush at present.

Other stuff to tell you: Sent out an email to three good friends, all of whom have been living the endurance lifestyle for over 25 years. Check out my solicitation and their responses.

Q: What makes the four of us so regimented in our endurance sport activities? We're all into this thing over 25 …

Ultra updates

There are some really cool things happening among my ultra compatriots this summer.

If you're into detailed reports of epic ultra experiences, check out the following:

1) Rob Apple and Susan Donnelly captured the essence of Scotland with a 150K (95 mile) adventure run -

2) Mark Carroll is one tough dude. He had a bout with the pukes at this year's Mohican 100 and tells the tale -

I enjoy my endurance sport community and the individuals it offers. Hope you enjoy today's reading assignment.

Posse time

Made a quick, yet rewarding trip to Ohio over the weekend. A friend had opted to remarry and had asked me to stand up in his wedding party. He's a good man who found a exceptional partner, and they share the same religious beliefs. I think the foundation is set.

So, the trip allowed for a journey back to Columbus, Ohio, my hometown for 12 years prior to the U of FL experience.

On both Friday and Saturday morning, I arranged for fun runs at Highbanks Park with former "posse" running friends; we were tight group that met met for weekly Sunday morning runs. It was as if three years hadn't passed. The chatter started immediately and was incessant. Ultra running stories were flying fast and furious and the miles flew by. Twelve or 13 miles later it was over and we all smiled and parted ways.

Some friendships last over time and distance. Here are a few that did.

After the wedding, stayed in a bed and breakfast in Granville, Ohio. This morning I jogged over to Denison C…

Eating for the good life

A big benefit of travel abroad is diversity. In culture, in geography and of course in cuisine.

On one special occasion in France, I put in for a non-meat option at dinner and came up with this half-cooked fish. Once I got past the eyeballs and the bones it wasn't bad, but to pick the flesh off a skeletal being was an interesting experience.

My diet needs some modification. I'm working on it, cutting back on the evening munchies to get my belly fat under control. I have eight or nine pairs of summer shorts and they were all too tight for comfort when I returned from France.

So what's a master competitor to do? Size up the shorts or size down the body?

I opted for the latter. Maybe more meals like my experience in France are in order.

Eat to live or live to eat. We each have the option to choose.

Good for the gullet...

We're into those brutal hot summer days in Florida. Morning runs burn the fat off your body and you stand at the finish, sweat pouring in rivulets across the torso, down the legs, and into a puddle at your feet.

I like this time of year. Hard to fathom that this is my fourth summer in Gainesville and I have learned to embrace the heat and humidity and usually drop a few pounds in the process.

When you're searching for that zero calorie refreshment, consider a diet Canada Dry Green Tea Ginger Ale. Now I know that's a mouthful and quite a combo of tastes, but it works. The can says there actually is green tea and "natural flavors" in the can, so have at it. Ice down a 12 pack and pour one back after a long jog.

Of course, you're getting the valuable antioxidants and a smidgen of chemical enhancers in the mix, but all in all I think it's a nice taste treat.

Let's all try and step it up a level this summer. Not to go faster, but to find a place where w…