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Showing posts from September, 2009

(My buddy is) fit as a fiddle

Photo at left demonstrates a contrast in training and endurance sport styles at the recent Bridge to Bridge mountain century.

Dude in red is my buddy Jimmy Clegg. We've known each other for over 20 years. Ran my fastest marathon ever with Jimmy (1988). He's fit, determined, rides high end well maintained equipment, and dons cutting edge apparel. Locked and loaded and ready to go.

Other dude is me. Looking like a walking eBay sale. Frumpy gear and a thick belly. Fatty fat fat diet. All hat and no cattle. Equipment last checked prior to the last ride - whenever that was.

Jimmy went out hard and fast, paced with the peloton and finished in 6:19, 54th of our 274 finishers. 105 miles to the top of Grandfather Mountain.

Tom got dropped like a hot rock off the start. Rode in the back and passed on guy from Ft. Lauderdale. Wet and cold and slow. Didn't finish because he pulled the pin at the 55 mile mark and drove home.

Nothing better than having good friends who can set h…

Beauty Mark

I took an opportunity to view Beauty Mark at Appalachian State last evening. Diane Israel, the Executive Producer, Co-Producer and Co-Writer of the film was on campus, and a large audience turned out to watch the film.

Beauty Mark's web site ( gives us this synopsis:

Beauty Mark is for anyone who has ever felt invisible because they didn't conform to our culture's impossible, unhealthy, abnormal beauty standards. This courageous film examines popular culture's toxic emphasis on weight and looks through the eyes of Boulder-based psychotherapist and former world-class triathlete Diane Israel-- who tells her own story while interviewing other champion athletes, body builders, fashion models and inner-city teens about their experiences relating to self-image.

The film was most highly targeted at women, but I most enjoyed segments that featured Dave Scott, the six-time Ironman World Triathlon Champion. Scott talked about his obsession with diet…

Rebuild and renew

Hello comrades. Sorry I haven't posted in awhile. Got my ass handed to me at the Bridge to Bridge mountain century last Sunday and haven't been the same since.

Truth is, I built my endurance plan like a house of cards and it all came tumbling down.

No excuses, just lack of preparation and a vivid imagination - an imagination that allowed me to believe I was capable of participating in an event that was way over my fitness level.

When Lance said the Boone area was one of the best training regions in the country, there was a reason: It's difficult terrain that can challenge elite cyclists. I'm not elite and Sunday was a good example. It rained all day and I was wet and cold and off the back. Finally pulled the pin at 55 miles, expired and humiliated.

It's going to be a long road back. I'm no longer a pre-master competitor of the 80's and 90's and rehab is slow. I've been sick and my lungs still can't pull air like they used to. My muscles are…

Making it stick

During the epic 1989 Ironwars battle in Hawaii, it was Dave Scott who commanded the lead, and Mark Allen who least until there was 2.4 miles remaining in the race.

Dave commented he didn't mind Mark tagging his shadow all day long. Disclaimer here: Dave stated that Mark was racing clean and held a legal draft distance throughout the 112 mile bike segment. In the run Allen was tucked in alongside the entire way, letting Scott set the pace.

After 25 years of endurance sports racing, I'd suggest it's best to get the dude off your tailpipe. Racing is a mind game and I don't like showing my hand of cards while someone watches.

This brings up the subject of passing. I'd suggest it's best to lay back, get calm, and then lay down a decisive move that lets your opponent know it's not tiddlywinks on this day. Here are a couple of master competitor moves you can try at home:

1) Get your breathing controlled and quiet. You don't want to be wheezing…

Allen and Scott update

Listened to the Dave Scott/Mark Allen podcasts on

Just to spur your interest:

A 61 year old motorist U-turned on Dave about two months ago and crashed him hard. Broken scapula and messed up hand that will need more surgery.

Mark recounted the epic battle at the '89 Ironman. The pair powered through the swim and run and then went to work in the marathon. Mark recounts how Dave threw down the gauntlet with sub 6's right off the blocks.

Mark panicked at first, then settled, utilizing his "peaceful but strong" mantra. Dave was ready to bust out on a downhill, but Mark executed first and surged on on uphill at the 24 mile mark. Dave couldn't answer and Mark won his first Ironman...and would go on to win 5 more.

Is this not good stuff?

Next time, we'll talk about the tactics Mark used - that of hanging in Dave's shadow for the entire race - and how master competitor would respond (of course in his middle-of-the-pack world).

Creeper trails

Took a solo trip to the northwest this past Sunday...first west into Tennessee, then north into Virginia to Damascus, for a short ride on the Virginia Creeper trail.

This rails-to-trails path runs 34 miles and offers a rather flat, meandering route along roadways and through sections of forest.

Thought I'd add a quick self-portrait of a rather enthused master competitor at a rest stop.

Another day of leisure cycling, and another chance to use my new (used) Gary Fisher Cobia 29er mountain bike.

My new home in Boone, NC is a get-up-and-go community. One hour in any direction takes active sport enthusiasts to many diverse locations.

I'm a creature of habit and I'm starting to patch together a lifestyle. It's all good and new adventures await.


Finally found a place to enjoy the finer points of leisure cycling in the high country of North Carolina.

Don't get me wrong, I enjoy the epic terrain in this area, a place Lance Armstrong called the best training territory in the United States. That said, I've been sick and tired and just can't push the hills.

So, for something completely different, I traveled north 30 minutes to Todd, North Carolina for some most excellent leisure riding this past Saturday. Flat, with some rolling hills, the area is beautiful and the company on the ride was enjoyable.

Note my new crew above: From left to right, that's 78-year-old Jack, Loraine, Tom, and ride leader Sarah.

We spun and talked and stopped and visited. A relaxed, laid-back approach to spinning the crank and it's quite appropriate for me, for now.

Trophy time

Life was good in the Appalachian mountains for the Mueller clan this past weekend.

My brother Richard (left) took top awards in the 40-49 division at the local 5K .

Interesting part about the run is that Rick almost dropped his lower units trying to out-sprint a dude the final 100 yards...who turned out to be racing in the 30-39 class. So it goes in the world of win-at-all-costs endurance sport.

I had a pretty good day coming off a bad respiratory infection and went second in the 50-59 old man class. Of course, if I keep doing this long enough, I'll be the last man standing.

Great place (Boone, NC greenway), great race (benefited a local Christian coffee shop) and fun with my brother. The sun was shining down on me once again.


Something's been on my mind and I'm going to write about it.

I don't know Eric Skaggs and I'm not aware of his personal situation in life. That said, I'm going to state a personal opinion: It's highly risky and not responsible to go through life, much less participate in endurance sports, without health care insurance.

This is a tough time in our country for health care access. I carried GatorGradCare through the University of Florida as a graduate student, but when that ended I had a two week gap until my Blue Cross kicked in at App State. Buying a bridge policy was not easy or pleasant; I came up with a $1000 deductible plan that excluded all pre-existing conditions. That's where the problem lies - if my back flared, which it did after I flamed out at the Blue Ridge Brutal 100 - all coverage would have been denied in the event I needed another nerve block at the L5/S1. The $5000 procedure would create a huge out-of-pocket hit for my budget and income…

Erik Skaggs recovery fund

Here's an update and a request for support to help Erik Skaggs through what might be a long recovery from renal failure (see earlier post):

"Many friends throughout the ultrarunning community have already asked how they can help. One of Erik’s biggest concerns is the mounting medical bill. Erik does not have health insurance. He may be eligible for some assistance through his membership with USA Track and Field, but will no doubt require monies for the deductible and for the expected costs well above the coverage. An Ashland runner and friend of Erik’s has opened a bank account at Umpqua Bank in Ashland, Oregon to receive donations that will be used to help defray these medical expenses. You can contribute by sending a check to Umpqua Bank, 250 N. Pioneer Street, Ashland, OR 97520 made out to the “Erik Skaggs Medical Fund.” Any assistance that you could provide would be much appreciated by Erik. Please note that the Fund name should be on the outside of the envelope."