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Showing posts from July, 2010

Rainy day

Drove about 20 miles to Todd for a leisure ride along the river.  Rain came and never stopped.  Tried to wait it out but no go today.  One other guy was waiting, guy named Donnie who told me he was trying to get back into riding after a woman came out of a parking lot and ran him over in Georgia.  Nine pins in his collarbone and four broken ribs. Ouch.

Went to the gym, and set the elliptical to my usual 12 setting.  Felt like the thing was free spinning, legs are stronger that in the spring and it shows.  But, jumped from 30 minutes there to the rowing machine, set on 8 of 10 setting for the 5000 meter workout. Guess I lost my Popeye arms since spring because the upper body was sucking wind...don't have the torque up there that I used to. Went to the compensated chin up machine and same thing, arms don't have the juice they used to.

I invented a new formula:

Master competitor lifestyle ≥ momentum generated in aerobic activity.

Here's how it works - the more I can keep thing…

Barefoot runner on the loose!

Had a wild experience today.  Was in our church's stretch van with a gaggle of senior citizens, headed for an outing in Little Switzerland, North Carolina.  We opted to take the Blue Ridge Parkway most of the way.  We rounded a turn and saw a barefoot man running, wearing a reflective vest, pushing a jogging stroller.

Some of the folks in the van commented it must be a homeless person, while others wondered why he was pushing a stroller with no baby in it.

We were down the road quite a few miles before I realized we had spotted a local celebrity.

Right after my diatribe on barefoot running...please meet Matt Jenkins.  Matt is running 760 miles across North Carolina to raise funds for the Western Youth Network, an organization that serves youth and family issues in Watagua, Avery and Ashe counties.

You can check out a story on Matt's run at

I'd still much rather have a high tech Brooks shoe wrapped…

Burning the fuel

Check out the Ben Greenfield podcast that includes an interview on plant based diets:

Interesting philosophy that when we calorie count, we need to incorporate the amount of caloric burn associated with different types of food.  Dense products, such as processed foods, take more energy to burn and digest. Non-processed foods, like getting carbs from fruit, move through quickly, take less energy to digest, and turn to fuel more efficiently.

The same interview talks about making a pizza crust with lentils and other assorted items for a vegan delight.

Greenfield throws some high tech stuff out there.  Good to broaden the horizons. Enjoy.

No Five Fingers for me...

There's a big movement underway for minimalist footwear and/or barefoot running. Articles and authors on the subject purport that modern runners have become injury prone due to over protective running shoes, which led to massive heal strike and related injuries.

I have come to believe that barefoot running and the Vibram Five-Fingers craze doesn't reduce injuries; instead, it provides "forced awareness."  What ever way your foot is impacting the pavement, you'll know it in these low cushion contraptions.  I'm a Brooks runner, have been for a long time, and enjoy all the protection I can muster.

So here's a test for you on your the next run.  Be conscious of your footstrike.  Don't change your gait or stride, simply feel where your foot connects with the ground.  I'm a big proponent of chi running, which encourages a body position that brings the mass forward and weight off the heels.  I have noted that in chi stance, my footstrike is mid-foot with…

Wet and wild

I'm 3-for-3 when it comes to wet weather training.

Storms come onto and off the mountains in rapid succession.  We got nailed descending off the parkway on the Bistro Roca ride on Monday, then got hammered again with the Eastside Ramblers last night.  I have no idea how to reconstruct that ride, so instead here's the recap email from ride leader Wayne King:

Wow what a Ramble!!! 30 miles of some of the best in the High Country!! We took on Browns Chapel then up the parkway to Greenhill to The Green Park! In to Blowing Rock past the Bistro Roca to the Blowing Rock Stable Rd and then to the left to the Parkway.  UP and Down the Parkway to 321 Boone exit and zipped right down 321 to the Hospital turnoff to get on the Green Way Trail and back to 421 to Food Lion!!! Yes we got rained on but it was still a Fantastic ride with 7 of us laughing and encouraging one another all the way!! I really wish all of you would join us!!

When the rain hits, it pools up fast on what was already a rat…

I'm not an Indycar, I'm a SUV...

One of my favorite listening experiences while running are the days I get to listen to sermons by Rich Nathan from the Vineyard Church in Columbus, Ohio, and Joel Osteen, the mega-pastor who preaches out of a sports stadium in Houston, Texas.

I call these sermons "bookends" because Nathan takes a scholarly, academic approach to theology, while Osteen is a good-old-boy storyteller with a "glass is more than half full" mentality.  I enjoy both and feel rejuvenated by their messages.

You can grab their podcasts at and

Today, Osteen spoke on being OK with who we are, the level God sets us at.  He demonstrated by talking about the attributes of a Indy racing car versus a Suburban sport utility vehicle.  His point was that both vehicles are designed for specific purposes.  If you drive an SUV, don't expect to compete in an Indycar race; if you race a car in t…

Prayer tower

Sort of a vacuum in my life this morning.  Flipped on Versus out of habit as the coffee was brewing, hoping for some sort of Tour de France recap show.  Not to be, instead a couple of camo dudes were putting a bead on some live game in the woods.  Hunting is not my thing and I'd rather see the pelaton sorting itself out, but I had to face the fact that the tour is over for yet another year.  Word is that Lance is focused on triathlon (he initially started in that sport) and will come out at the 70.3 distance and possibly step up to Ironman after that.  Lance knows the sprint events will carry too much speed, but when endurance at greater distances takes over, he still has the stuff to perform.

Was out on my campus trail loop run this morning.  Explored a few legs I hadn't been on before, and came upon a platform about 20 feet high in the woods.  Must have been some sort of orienteering point in times past, but master competitor has christened it his prayer tower.

Now, on each …

Purge the jersey

Lance's Radio Shack team and Tour de France organizers had some friction on the last day of the epic event.  Lance wanted his team to run black jerseys with "28" emblazoned on them, to pay tribute to the 28 million individuals worldwide who are fighting a battle with cancer.

The team started the day in the jerseys, but was stopped and threatened with a disqualification for donning unauthorized apparel.Story link at

As a former director of professional competition for the American Motorcyclist Association, I can understand this dilemma.  The cause is noble, but event management is afraid of setting precedent that might influence and affect future issues with race wear.

What's your take on this conflict?  Let Lance run the special jersey?  Or did the tour maintain authority by demanding the apparel change?

I feel like…

Product updates

Have to admit I'm a sucker for marketing pitches and I got a bit hooked reading USA Weekend's story on Jillian Michaels, of "Biggest Loser" fame, talking about diet changes.  One we've heard before is don't suck down liquid calories and get off the sodas.  Her recommendation was the new Crystal Light Pure Fitness, made with the natural sweetener called Truvia.  I'm a Splenda man from way back, have tried Stevia (another natural sweetener) and found it to have an aftertaste.  But I did pop for a box of the grape Pure Fitness...I mix it in a large water bottle with ice and it's a tasty after-workout treat.

Just busted a new pair of Brooks Ravenna out of the box.  Here's a product description from the site:

Combining BioMoGo cushioning with a mild support post, the smart, adaptive Ravenna meets your changing needs. Some runs demand more support than others, so the Ravenna provides just the right amount, when and where you need it.…

More stuff from the snake...

My ultra friend Susan Donnelly forwarded some shots from the Rattlesnake Trail 50K. Top shot is old master competitor and my ultra buddy for the past 20+ years, Rob Apple...Rob gets 'er done almost every weekend and is approaching the 600 mark for ultras completed.

The other shot depicts my mood at the first check on the course.  Think I was already into Sarah Silverman's shtick on bed wetting so I was pre-occupied.

Was thinking on my run today how wonderful it is to have free weekends. Over the next two days, I have options for a laid back ride with the Watagua Leisure Cycling crew, a pick up ride in Valle Crucis with some hammerheads searching for climbs, a quiet hike at Linville Falls off the Blue Ridge Parkway, or mountain biking at Kerr Scott Dam.  In my former life as a marketer in sports and entertainment, many weekends were committed to being at motorsport events.  As the decades ticked by, standing around race cars didn't hold the attraction, versus bicycling on co…

Pictures in my mind

I'm teaching COM 1200 this summer - foundations of human communication. It incorporates some heavy lifting for the students, inclusive of work by Walter Lippman.  We're studying the formation of stereotypes and "pictures in your mind" so I thought I'd share a few from today's run:
1) I'm in a great place with my job.  I have the opportunity to invest in students as a university professor, while gaining respect from my peers.  It's in great contrast to other era of my career, when I was in sales (tons of rejection) and motorsports (where marketing reps are viewed as a necessary evil).  In addition I have flexibility and time off for travel and endurance sport.
2) I have decided to spend another season or two on my Felt F60.  It's now six years old but still getting the job done, so I'll have Magic Cycles here in Boone install a new chain tomorrow.  The founder of Felt bicycles was an old business associate, and Johnny O' was part of my scene …

Rocket "Fuel"

I'm a value shopper, aka penny pincher.  My frequent awards program at Big Lots alerted me to a 20% off sale last Sunday, so I went down ready to stock up on every good deal in the store.

Picked up two boxes of Wheaties "Fuel" for a buck a box.  Little tiny boxes I might add, but still a buck. This super energy food is backed by a cadre of top athletes in various sports and also boasts a sexy web site.  Here's the bottom line, this stuff is a candy bar in a box.  It triggered my sugar addiction and I couldn't stop jamming this stuff into my pie hole.

So, I Googled around a bit, and found this on

"Regular Wheaties is a pretty simple cereal with only five ingredients: Whole grain wheat, sugar, salt, corn syrup and trisodium phosphate. One serving (3/4 cup) has 100 calories, .5 grams of fat, 4 grams of sugar, 15 grams of other carbs, 3 grams of fiber and 3 grams of protein, alo…

Two wheel adventure

Finally ponied up and had enough courage to attend the Bistra Roca group ride last night.  Did that ride one year ago and it crushed me.  Serious group of cyclists who climb out of Blowing Rock and onto the Blue Ridge Parkway.  Thirty miles of pain.  I left about 90 minutes early for the 5:30 pm ride.  Garmin took me to a very wrong place, was reading a "drive" instead of a "trail."  Called the restaurant and got bad directions, so drove around aimlessly in frustration.

It was 5:15 and I thought all bets were off.  Said to myself, "God if I'm going on this ride, you have to get me there."

A Mini Cooper with a Kestrel on top drove by.  I spun a U and chased after him, and  a few turns later turned into the restaurant parking lot with four minutes to spare (I hate to be rushed and flustered).  Got out, got ready, and hit the road.

The ride was good. I was good.  Climbed well and hung with some of the bigger dogs.  We reconfigured and went onto the Blue …

Purge the PR's?

Did my favorite 90 minute run this morning, through Boone and onto the lush trails off the greenway.  It's the great equalizer and puts some salve on the wound created from my miserable mountain bike performance yesterday.

Was listening to the latest "running with the pack" podcast.  The show co-host suggested that we should erase our PR's (personal records) every 5-10 years.  This was based on the theory that life and environment and our bodies change over time and we shouldn't have to compare against a high mark set many years ago.

Master competitor stands firm against this sort of nonsense.  My 10K PR of 37:02, set in 1985 (I think) is still meant to be bettered.  Hey, all I need to do is lose 20 pounds, live on green algae for a month, and have the Hand of God touch me...I'm sure if those three elements comes together, a sub-37 is still out there.

And what of my 8:53 50 mile PR from 2001 (once again it was somewhere around then)?  Give me the right course…

Trail trouble

Went out after church today on what I hoped would be a master competitor adventure. Took my Gary Fisher Cobia 29er to Sugar Mountain, where a good trail system was available.

Had the 29er prepped and ready.  New tube in the once-flat front tire (running 40 psi front and back), a freshly lubed chain, and 160 psi in the 80mm Rock Shox Toro front suspension.

So what started well went south pretty fast.  The trails at  Sugar Mountain are in and around the ski hill; "Easy Street" was a major climb that revved my heart rate within just a few hundred yards.  Most of the trails are utilized by young hotshoes who take the chair lift to the top, then banzai down.

I packed up and went over to a greenway riding area near Banner Elk, where I had ridden before.  Found some trail that had a skull and crossbones on the arrow.  I gave it a shot, fell when I couldn't get out of the clips, and hurt my right hand (arthritis in the thumb joint can't take the torque).

Saw a couple of &quo…


In my never ending quest to pack more outdoor experience into my life, I borrowed a frame and backpack, threw some gear inside, and hiked two miles up Grandfather Mountain to camp.  A couple of observations:
Even minimally packed hiking packs get heavy.  They put torque on your knees and ankles, where one bad foot strike could cause injury.I sweat.  A lot.  Even moving very slow and deliberate, I was dripping off my face and through my shirt.  The pack rides on your hips and shoulders and the heavy straps were wet.  Not a good feeling and once you're moving with that monster pack, you don't want to stop until the destination is at hand.Camping is cool.  You pitch your tent and settle in.  The forest is quiet and the steady wind moves through the trees.  I sat on a rock and read an entire book.  Can't think of the last time that happened.Bear warnings were posted at the site.  A bunch of stuff about hanging your food in a bag over a tree branch.  I had a banana peel and a pr…

Know what bugs me?

Ordering something off the menu that looks really good....and getting a big surprise.Breaking out a brand new pair of Brooks shoes...and then torching them at an event like the Rattlesnake Trail 50K.Seeing guys older than me at the ultras...who are scary thin and fit and are already showered and BSing in the finish area when I stumble in. Breaking trail on my morning runs with the summer growth hanging over the path...and the nettles cutting into my calves.Listening to exciting podcasts when my Zune dies because I forgot to charge it.Having things pop up that cause me to miss races I have pre-entered.

Master competitor design update #2

Thought I'd bring more pleasure to your eyes with a photo image in the blog masthead.  Here's a shot of what one observes when traveling from Anchorage to Seward (pronounced Soo-ward) Alaska.

When you're an endurance athlete, God's nature is your playground.


Any of you like the action/fighting/heavy weapons/martial arts films?

Check out this movie synopsis I just pulled off Netflix:

The Expendables(2010)NR

Barney (Sylvester Stallone) leads a ragtag band of hired guns charged with overthrowing a South American despot, a job no official military unit is willing to touch. But once on the ground, the team learns there's more to the mission than they were told. Their next move determines whether they survive -- or are, indeed, expendable.Jason Statham,Mickey Rourke,Dolph LundgrenandJet Liround out a stellar cast.
What a date night flick...and all my action heroes in one bloody setting!

Run and stumble

Did my normal 90 minutes this morning.  Feel totally spent, out of it, ready to be bagged and recycled.  My 10 minute walk across campus seemed like a day hike.  Where did the energy go?

Was catching up on podcasts from Endurance Planet ( and heard some startling news.  The Philadelphia Triathlon had a tragedy - one swimmer didn't make it back to shore during Saturday's short course competition.  The athlete was a first time racer, father of two.  And to compound matters, they had not found his body by Sunday morning, when the pro long course race was scheduled.  Event promoters turned the  tri into a duathlon and ran run/bike legs.  Can't imagine a worse scenario on any occasion.

Endurance Planet also featured a piece from Joe Henderson, a noted runner and author.  Joe suggested one day off for every mile run in a race - even more for masters.  So after Rattlesnake I'm supposed to park it on the couch for 31+ days?  I g…

Catchin' up

In complete opposition to my doctoral research training, I often have spontaneous random thoughts while running. So in no specific order, here they come:
Looking at events for the fall...there's the Valle Crucis Marathon (NC) on 9/18, the Stump Jump 50K (TN) on 10/2, the New River Trail 50K (VA) on 10/9 and the Cumberland Trail 50K (TN) on 10/16. Can master competitor go 4 for 4?
Anyone into that PX 90 DVD workout, or its latest replicant "Insanity?" Guess I'd rather be outside sucking clean air than flogging myself in front of TV set this time of year.Like hummus? I made my own fresh stuff this week. Get two cans of store brand garbanzo beans, a can of sesame Tahini (in peanut butter section), some lemon juice and olive oil. I blended mine on pulse setting in my blender. Drain and add the garbanzos, add about 1/3 of the Tahiti, and then set the viscosity using the olive oil and lemon juice. Yum. I flavor mine with organic hot sauce and eat with raw vegetables…

The snake is great

Here's one other shot from this year's wonderful Rattlesnake Trail 50k.

This photo holds symbolic meaning: The event banner and my rear end are both drooping at this finish.

I wanted to take time and encourage any readers who are past competitors, but have fallen out of the endurance sport lifestyle. The race doesn't always go to the fastest, or the strongest, but in most cases the race goes to each and every runner who crosses the line. If you're interested, the trails are still waiting and we'd love to have you back.

Rattlesnake and bake

The 16th annual Rattlesnake Trail 50K was, as usual, a very tough affair. The ultra is in the Kanawha State Forest near Charleston, WV. Ten climbs totaling 5000 feet of drop and climb wore me to the bone. I last did this race about 10 years ago and ran 6:30. This time around it was 7:11 and I had to take it to the bank. Check out the photo of master competitor at right; this semi-prone position was the best I could come up with for over an hour after completing the course.

Temps were steamy, in the 80's with heavy humidity. I was soaked and dripping by the first aid station. It was time for a Hammer Gel and a bottle of Heed before heading back on the trail.

In short fashion I was alone in the woods so opted for my Zune. First listen was a new (audio)book by Sarah Silverman. After about an hour of a half on bed wetting and bowel movements I had enough and shifted to the album shuffle mode. Things were great until 4:25 into the race, when I sweated out my headphones and the …

Get Jack Black!

The folks at Jack Black skin care products have been working with the Brooks endorsed athlete team, to gain feedback on new products targeted for the endurance sport crowd.

I've been testing this new "Performance Remedy" Oil-Free Sun Guard. The stuff goes on fast, feels powder dry, and actually beads up sweat on my skin. It stays on and does its thing, even in hot and humid conditions.

I'm also testing their Dragon Ice relief and recovery balm. It has a strong mentholated odor, but contains MSM - a new ingredient I have been reading about that is the street-legal version of what used to be DMSO. If you don't know about that magic elixir, Google it sometime.

Check out the Jack Black line of products at

Catchin' bugs

Check out Dirt Dawg's latest podcast. This hammer head did a 50-mile night run in preparation for the upcoming Burning River 100-miler in Ohio.
Here's a novel approach to adversity: Flies were biting incessantly during one section of the journey, so these innovative athletes chose to embrace the attack...each runner was encouraged to swat and kill as many insects as possible, then save them in a plastic sandwich bag.
At this finish, each runner was allowed to deduct one minute from their official time for each fly in his/her bag.
Don't you just love this sport and the ingenuity it generates?

Friends and adventures

Finally got my paws on some of our "wrecking crew" photos from the bike adventure across Wisconsin. From left to right is master competitor, my brother Rich, old high school buddy Jeff and his main man Allan.

Seeing these pics (thanks Allan) made our journey seem almost surreal. Only weeks before, yet seeming like a long time ago. Riding almost 500 miles across the state had many more highs than lows. We had a great time spinning the crank and solving the world's problems.

Here's the point on the day: Make time for your friends and find events where you can share and enjoy endurance sport experiences. Life is rather short and our timelines are decreasing. It's many times easier to say "no" to these sort getaways but on occasion say "yes" and jump in with both cleats. The opportunity to share and grow together will present itself.

I learned that over the years, we travel divergent paths, but friendships act like glue. Make a plan to conta…

Climbing up Grandfather

Thought it was time to explore the North Carolina high country at yet another level and drove over to the Profile Trail parking area off Highway 105. The plan was to speed hike Profile to the intersection with Grandfather Trail, turn right up the mountain, and see how far I could get. Here's a link to more on the Grandfather hiking opportunities:
I christened a new pair of Brooks Adrenaline ASR trail shoes. I seem to do well with a minimalist approach to footwear, while others on the trail opt for heavy, ankle high hiking boots. The early sections of Profile offered good footing but the ascents started early. I hit mile 1 in 20 minutes, mile 2 in 25 minutes, and a tough mile 3 in 27 minutes. I was a bit cocky in my mind, then the party was over.
The next sections were brutal. Large rock formations were mostly straight up. Some transitions over the rocks intimidated me. A slip could have been bad and to my right …

Western States warfare

There was a fierce battle at this year's Western States 100 mile, the grand daddy of ultrarunning in the mountains of California.
Tony Krupicka, Geoff Roes and Kilian Jornet challenged for the lead throughout the day, with Alaskan Roes taking the win with an extraordinary new course record of 15 hours, 7 minutes. Second was Krupicka, also under the former course record at 5:13.
Check out Krupicka's site and dramatic race photos. This says it all. The big boys at play. The bodies of warriors at a pace that isn't even comprehensible.
Enough said, enjoy:

Snakes on the trail

Arrived home Monday from my cycling journey across the great state of Wisconsin. Clothes aren't even in the washer and it's time for master competitor to transition into preparation for the next great adventure of the summer - the Rattlesnake Trail 50K near Charleston, WV on July 10.
The "Snake" is one of my greatest 50K's of all time. The promoters do an excellent job with runner services. One year they trucked in a generator, which powered a freezer, so that all finishers could have Popsicles and ice cream bars.
And it's a great race course in Kanawha State Forest. Six major climbs, six descents, plenty of rocks, a few obligatory snakes and in some years, a black bear or two.
I've been hitting the trail loops near my apartment in Boone. Instead of being the wimp I can be, I'm opting to look for the hills and methodically shuffle up and over the crest of each. And I met with a great surprise when finding that many of the paths had been groomed wit…