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Showing posts from August, 2009


Haven't had time to listen yet, but there's some exciting podcast time in master competitor's future. Check out for two new posts...interviews with Dave Scott and Mark Allen, recounting the epic 1989 Ironwar battle at the Hawaii Ironman triathlon.

These two dudes were so locked and loaded during the fall of '89 that they simple dispensed of the 2.4 mile swim and 112 mile bike ride...then went shoulder-to-shoulder for the 26.2 miles of the marathon.

If you don't know the result I'm not going to spoil the fun. Listen and enjoy.

Ultra material girl?

More breaking news...from Scott Dunlap's trail runner blog, attributed to reports that Madonna's handlers have already discounted the report. That said, I have a friend who has done the des Sables several times. It's brutal and totally self-supported. Water is rationed. If Madonna can make the journey totally solo...that would be something to observe.

Pop superstar and fitness fanatic MADONNA is preparing for a gruelling ultra marathon - dubbed the toughest race on earth, according to U.S. reports. The 51-year-old singer, who keeps in shape with regular yoga sessions and daily trips to the gym, has reportedly cleared her schedule next April (10) so she can jet to Morocco for the Marathon des Sables. The epic trek is 156 miles long, takes six days to complete, and is the equivalent of six marathons. A source tells America's Star magazine, "She's always been in great shape, but she is no…

Breaking news...

It was just reported on Scott Dunlap's trail runner's blog ( that Erik Skaggs was admitted to a hospital for renal failure in Medford, OR after finishing the Where's Waldo 100K in 9:11:o5 (

Those at the race said he looked good at the finish and was in good spirits. The symptoms apparently kicked in over the following 48 hours.

Erik and Kyle Skaggs are part of an elite crew that is crushing records on the ultra scene. But let's be honest...a 9:11 for 100K in Oregon terrain? Just how much can the human body take?

I love ultrarunning and what it has contributed to my life. But the duress the sport places on one's body is not to be minimized.

Journey on, but please do it sensibly.

Observations from Boone

I've been settled in this little mountain valley community for a month now, so here are a few master competitor observations from northwest North Carolina:

1) Most coffee shops opt out of the whole milk/2% milk/skim milk/soy scenario. It's half and half, white and cold and thick. No one seems to complain and boy does it go down smooth.

2) Rain is inevitable, suffering is optional. Most days include some morning and/or afternoon drizzle. Gore-Tex shells are everywhere.

3) Manners are in. It's a yes ma'am, no sir environment. I realize some of society has shifted away from this sort of behavior, but it's the way I was raised and I don't mind it.

4) People here smile a lot.

5) There are less iPods and MP3 players. People actually talk to each other.

6) There are less bike commuters, but more on campus runners.

7) As if a premonition to come, many are talking about "the winter." I don't think it's so much the severity of it, but the fact we l…

Track time

Went on another "wander about" this morning, putting in an hour run on campus at Appalachian State.

While meandering around the grounds, I came upon the university stadium and the wonderful running track. Didn't have a camera along, but here's a web grab image of the track during an athletic event.

The track has the same high quality surface that I learned to love at the University of Florida. Soft and forgiving, the oval allows for a great warm up for my sore and needy right back, hip, groin and knee.

Guess I'm right side disaster at the moment.

There's something comforting and familiar about a university running track. It exemplifies the great sport activities offered, where victory is embraced and defeat is managed.

For me, it's a different paradigm, more of a slow, methodical motion where time is only relevant on my stopwatch and there is only victory, never defeat.

When I am running and moving, I am winning. Life is full. The crisp air surrounds and i…

Master competitor special edition post!

Rule #1 for master competitors: No matter how bleak things look, go to the start line.

I've been having back problems again this week, enough to consider another L5/S1 nerve block injection (see images to lower right). But this morning was the 4-mile Challenge, a local running event hosted by the Alliance Bible Fellowship in Boone.

I had pre-entered, so opted to turn out just to get my hi-tech socks that came with the entry. To assure I wouldn't race, I didn't don running clothes - instead opted for my Tony Hawk baggy over the knees leisure shorts.

Well, once I arrived at the scene, here's how Tommy Terrific's logic worked:

Might as well put on some running shoes (a new pair of Brooks Axiom, which of course I brought along).

Maybe I'll walk off the start and go 100 yards or so and turn around.

Maybe I'll walk and see how my back feels.

Maybe I'll try a slow jog and see how that goes.

This feels pretty good...guess I'm just say in Chi stance and keep jogg…


Just finished a day and a half of new faculty orientation at Appalachian State. Many interesting topics and discussions, but what I took away is the realization I now have a full-time job and need to get it into the little chainring and grind the crank!

Heard a great quote today. B.F. Skinner, known to be the greatest psychologist since Sigmund Freud, once said, "Education is what survives when what has been learned has been forgotten.”

Since I'm all jacked up on integrative teaching and am supposed to sharpen my saw regarding crossing disciplines, I thought about applying Skinner's quote to endurance sport.

Let's call it residue.

That's the gooey, sticky leave behind we often get via an over-lubed chain; it's also the smagma that accumulates on one's shoulder from a spit and blow session during long training rides.

But residue is also that innate ability we all have inside to excel and succeed. Master competitors have polished their capabilities and created…

Hard to the finish

Here's how life looks from my new neighborhood in Boone, NC. Here's my view this afternoon, from the far side of bass lake looking up at the Moses Cone Manor near Blowing Rock.

Cone was a textile baron in the 1880's; his fortune later preserved this area - inclusive of 25 miles of wooded buggy trails - and also funded the Moses Cone hospital in Greensboro.

One can take the meandering buggy trails from the house down to the lake, around the lake on a picturesque path and then back to the house on a five mile loop. I plan to make this location my Sunday morning run before church. There are numerous opportunities to recreate, one simply needs to reach out and grasp the beauty.

I need to report on yesterday's Blue Ridge Brutal 100 - that became the Brutal 72 when I opted for a shorter loop. Bottom line I got my rear end handed to me by locals and went home with my tail between my legs. I was toast the last 10 miles. The relentless climbs and descents ate me alive. Desp…

Don't knock the brain box

Made a big investment in my commuter bike last week. The 10+ year old converted mountain bike is quite worn and the chain had started to slip on the sprockets. That's a no-no when you're climbing the abundant hills in Boone, so I had my landlord's shop - Magic Cycles - do the repair work. I came away with new sprockets from and rear, new chain, and even new crank arms, which came with the front chainring component set.

After I picked up my bike, I packed everything away in the panniers and took a walk through downtown Boone. In a rare moment of poor decision making, I opted to ride my bike back through town and left my helmet in the pannier. A slow 4-block excursion, yet dangerous nonetheless on the narrow streets with heavy traffic.

I then noted a posted sign: A Boone city ordinance requires that all cyclists wear helmets while riding. I had not only made a bad decision, I had broken the law! Then I started to process the mandatory helmet requirement; this has been …


At many junctures of life, it's important to step back and:

1) observe, don't judge

2) realize that life issues aren't always better or worse, but simply different

I was at that point this morning. I'm loving my new outdoor opportunities in Boone, but my daily morning runs have been problematic.

Traffic in this small town is heavy and students have yet to return from summer vacation. I can't really say anything more about it than that. But add relentless traffic to a town that has narrow winding roads, little runoff and no shoulders and you have a tense jogging scenario.

One of my new best friends in town, another prof at the university, disclosed a startling fact yesterday. We were on a sharp curvy road when he stated that the conditions were similar when his wife was hit by a car and killed while jogging.

I was speechless as that reality slapped me in the face. I must admit I've become slack about risks while running but my friend's story made me acutely a…

Trail time

Took a day trip to the W. Scott Kerr Dam and Reservoir trail system, about 30 miles east of Boone. The cycle shop mechanics at Magic Cycles told me this Army Corps of Engineers designed area was one of the finest riding areas in the east. That said, I loaded up and drove over to Overmountain Victory Trail, which was designated the "easy" ride.

Faced a bit of a setback when I arrived at the area. A major triathlon was underway and law enforcement was turning non-participants in the opposite direction. It made me wonder how many folks I have inconvenienced over the years, while I was competing (with little regard for others who might have wanted to use the same recreational areas).

A few miles of backtracking took me to the west end of the trail. The six mile length seemed appropriate for the day.

The trail was well manicured. My hardtail Gary Fisher 29er was fine, nothing too rough to send shock waves through my bikes rear end - and my rear end. The unique feature of this …

Micro adaptability

Sometimes the force and brunt of being a master competitor catches up with even the most diligent endurance athlete. We stretch and massage and ingest anti-inflammatories but in the end the pain hits crescendo and we pull up lame.

I'm not here today preaching miracles. At present I have carpal tunnel in my right thumb joint from too much shifting on my mountain bikes. There's something pulled in my right groin (no hernia, thank goodness) and my right knee remains questionable. But through it all, I keep on keeping on.

I'm coining a new term called "micro adaptability." It's the minuscule adjustments your body makes during training and racing, teaching itself to continue forward motion despite degeneration that occurs over time and age. But the key to this process is a consistent, never ending endurance effort.

I've written before on the fact I'm not much for taking days off. A while back I had a 3 1/2 year streak of running without missing a day. …

New adventures

Sorry for the delay in posting. It's been a whirlwind of activity. Packing my loading truck, driving 12 hours, and arriving in the little mountain community that may be home for some time to come.

Boone is an essential place for university life and hard training. The town sits 3,266 feet above sea level. The air is crisp and raw, not hot and wet as in Florida.

Went for a "fun ride" out of a local bike shop on Monday. Fifteen miles out starting at Blowing Rock and then a return on the Blue Ridge Parkway. The climbs were steep, the pace was fast and the attacks came early and often.

Once we turned back onto the parkway, we pulled a gradual ascent and then tucked in for a 2-3 mile descent while the lush forests and valleys loomed off to the right. I was numb and it seemed surreal. Quite the route for a quick after work ride.

Running has been difficult. I am struggling at 12 minute miles. I now live on the top of a winding road and that climb sucks the wind out of my s…