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Showing posts from January, 2011

Cycling weekend: Open roads and 3 mountain bike crashes

What a weekend...temps soared into the 60's both south and east off the mountain, so I made use of it and had a fun-filled cycling weekend...but not without a few bumps on the trail.

Saturday, we rolled at noon with nine riders from the power plant north of Lenoir.  Great day, good friends.    We went 17 miles to the baptist church turnaround, then broke into A and B groups.  I jumped on with the A's and we took a detour on the way back that added about 3 miles of climb and descents.  Fun.

On the route back, we saw a wonderful site...coming at us, over 30 strong, was the ASU cycling team peloton.  Fast and colorful.  One rider shouted, "come with us!"  Maybe 25 years ago, not now.

I love the small town feel of our ride group.  Check out the following email recap from Wayne King, our ride facilitator:

WoW What a Fantastic Saturday ride at Patterson !!!
Steve THE Clymer did it Again!!! Another GREATLY Planned Ride with Excellent Leadership!! Steve, Thanks so much!! Sorry fo…

3 Non Joggers give us a shout out

In the ever growing digital world of "I'll scratch your back, you scratch mine" I received a nice shout out on episode #16 from those silly boys at 3 Non Joggers.

Give this podcast a chance.  It's the most non-running, running podcast I have been listening to, but the chatter is infectious.

Why Amazon is #1

There are reasons why certain businesses thrive, while other languish and die a slow, painful death.

Amazon is a survivor and winner and it's easy to understand why.  They sell a wide variety of products, offer competitive prices, have a great "over $25 and shipping is free" program (which encourages me to bump up my order) and most important, they know how to deliver customer service.  Amazon has a solution-oriented protocol that sends buyers away feeling very ingratiated to the brand.

Here's an Amazon shout-out for the problem resolution they provided yesterday.  I had purchased a rather large order of pods for my Senseo coffee maker.  A no calorie evening treat has become small, strong cups of decaf coffee.  I tried a new brand of pods via Amazon.  When they arrived, I quickly realized they were very small in diameter and unusable in my machine.  I went to Amazon's easy-to-use return page, where I learned food items are non-returnable.

I wasn't a happy mas…

Appalachian State is "Born to Run"

In a rather surprising turn of events, Appalachian State University has chosen "Born to Run" as its summer reading book for incoming freshman. Master competitor readers may recall I posted a short review on this book several months ago and at that time, author Chris McDougall responded. He'll be back on campus for convocation next year, which is an interesting twist in my academic and endurance life.

As part of my new plans with an active living community next fall, I'll be teaching a first year seminar entitled "Endurance Sport and Society." McDougall's book with sync right into the content of that class, so all is good in the land of mountains and snow.
Following is the news report on the book announcement, published in The Appalachian, our campus paper:

2011 summer reading book changes pace, teaches new lessons

Monday, 24 January 2011 21:52

Christopher McDougall said the 1,000-year-old secret to the art of running he learned from the Tarahumara Indians …

Winter ride: No excuses

' I received a great post-Christmas gift this weekend; an email came through from our local riding group, stating that some of the crew were headed down off the mountain for an "easy pace winter ride."

Ya right.  We busted out of the power station just off 321 (north of Lenoir) and were out of the box at 20 mph.  Surges came fast and hard, leveling out around 24 mph.  Drop the draft and you're toast.  We took turns pulling and the pace remained air and hot lungs.  We hit the 16.5 mile turnaround at 19.5 average.

The leg back was a bit more civil, as we were facing a headwind.  I took a long pull off the front, trying to keep things active around 18 mpg.  It was a noble effort, but once I waved the pack by I couldn't jump back on.  They dropped me like a hot rock on the next climb and I had to spin the last 4 miles solo.

I'm fortunate to be included with this great group of guys.  The years are coming upon us, yet we hold the passion.  When one is …

3 Non-joggers who like to run

I heard about this crazy new podcast on Dirt Dawg's wonderful ultra podcast...and when the Dawg says something's a good listen, it's time for master competitor to investigate.

So I'll jump on the bandwagon with this:  If you ever wanted to hear a Three Stooges version of ultraunning, have at it with podcasts from 3 Non Joggers.  You'll need to delve into this one yourselves; the trio reports that they are "2 runners, 1 mailman, 3 microphones, all discussing the crazy-ass sport of long distance running."

There's more here than meets the eye (or initially, ear) but it's an interesting ride nonetheless.

Web site (with iTunes link):

RSS feed for podcasts:

Take in a few episodes and post a comment on your reaction.

The greatest song of all time: Grand Funk's "Inside Looking Out"

I was at the gym today, trying to take the weight off my bad right foot.  So part of the session was spent on the stationary bike.

Was a big burned on podcasts so I set my Zune to shuffle and the greatest song of all time popped into my earbuds: Grand Funk Railroad's epic 1969 tune "Inside Looking Out."

The version I have was digitized off a Grand Funk double album set, from my teen years.  When I listen I still get all the great pops and crackles.  I used to sit in the dark, listening to my army green GE record player with headphones blasting Grand Funk, among others.  My dad would come in and scream and me, but I couldn't hear much when Mark Farner was screaming the lyrics and playing guitar, Don Brewer was smashing the drums, and Mel Schacher did the bass lines proud.

Inside Looking Out has it all - lead vocals, guitar solos, bass instrumental lines, harmonica and percussion.  It takes a lot to call something the "best of all time" but this song stands t…

The proper diet for master competitor performance

Made a run to Sam's Club yesterday (during lunch while teaching in Hickory) and grabbed a good amount of food.  It was time to replenish the fridge and plan my meals for the next 7-10 days.

My mix of goods won't often look better than this, so here's a visual of the master competitor diet:  A big bag of broccoli, big bag of carrots, tub of fresh made hummus, naval oranges, gala apples, filtered water and Great Value fake orange juice.

Evening meals will consist of steamed brown rice and veggies, or raw veggies dipped in the hummus.

I'll complement this intake with fresh baked bread (also got a big bag of flax) and a few Larabars.  How's that for clean eating?

I wish this was the norm, but instead it's something to aspire to.  But for this chapter in life, I'm on top of my game and the photo tells the story.

Ultrarunner Engle sentenced to 21 months in federal prison

Breaking media news is reporting that ultrarunner Charlie Engle has been sentenced to a prison term for convictions based on a mortgage fraud scheme. 

The ultra community is polarized on Engle and his antics.  But as the news report below acknowledges, much good was generated by Engle's efforts, in spite of the tactics used to attain funds for his elaborate events.

I'll reserve judgement, just offer prayers for Charlie as he begins the next leg in his quite amazing life.

Ultramarathoner gets 21 months for mortgage fraud
By Tim McGlone
The Virginian-Pilot
January 11, 2011

Ultramarathon runner Charlie Engle ran his last foot race Sunday for
at least 21 months.

U.S. District Judge Jerome B. Friedman on Monday sentenced Engle to 21
months in federal prison after a jury in the fall found Engle guilty
of 12 counts of bank, mail and wire fraud in an Eastern Shore real
estate scam.

Citing Engle's clean record and 18 years of sobriety and charitable
work, the judge granted his request…

The fallacy of calories: Winter running vs. the gym

I had to face myself this morning.  It was time to get out of the warm cocoon-like confines of the rec center and man up (or for female master competitors, woman up) and head outdoors for a run.

The winter storms had offered a reprieve and it was sunny and 27.  A light layer of winter running apparel was enough.  I ran the plowed greenway sections and then incorporated an around town loop to make up for the woods trails I can't get to.  Ninety minutes later, mission accomplished.

Simple math told me I had to get outdoors. does a wonderful job of calculating calories burned via exercise; 90 minutes at a 10 minute pace delivers a whopping 1525 calories.  Add that to my daily 30 minute walk across campus and back and I'm burning 1754 calories.

Now, let's contrast that with a gym workout.  I can sum up elliptical, rowing, stationary bike and/or treadmill and barely crack 1000 calories.  Let's put that as a 500 calorie deficit per day x 7 = 3500 calories.  So, …

Master man chili

The snow and wind have been pounding us in the North Carolina mountains.  Next to snowshoes and winter running apparel, the one thing that pops into my mind is crock pots and slow cooking chili...yum yum yum on the stomach when the temps drop near zero.

My recipe is so simple it's almost embarrassing:

1) Purchase some McCormick chili mix (2 packs) from the store...I was reaching for the low sodium stuff but then grabbed Tex-Mex; I like it, but it won't like me.

2) Two 14.5 oz. cans of beans.  Be creative.  Sometimes I go black beans, other times pintos.  This time I went with two cans of chili beans in hot sauce. Here come the flames.

3) One 28 oz. can of tomatoes...again be creative and you can set the texture of your chili with diced, whole or smashed tomatoes.

4)  One bag Boca Burger or Morningstar fake beef crumbles.  Good stuff and good for you.  It's fake, so no need to brown...just dump it in.  This stuff is so close to beef that friends have tasted my chili and acc…

Hot style trends at the 1987 New York City Marathon

One of the great aspects of a blog is that the author can twist and turn in the wind, holding ever changing opinions and ideas.

On one day the author can relived his former life as a pseudo-biker, then shift within 24 hours to his closer-to-the-heart endurance athlete persona.

So in order to play homage to that theme, check out my new masthead image above:  A rather thick master man (on right) attempting to stud out at the 1987 New York City Marathon.

Think I ran 3:30-something but who cares, think it took me 11 minutes to get to the start line.  More important is the have to appreciate those crotch grabbing shorty shorts, coupled with the heavy cotton cutaway T-shirt.

Just what was I thinking? And by the way, check out the guy in the middle.  Guess he didn't like having his picture taken.

This photo just goes to show that memories don't always sync up with the realities of the moment.  You'll all be relieved to know I retired that outfit; now, I wear running…

Plantar pain, Trader Joe's coffee and making bread

I need to fess up to Master Competitor readers...that honey and spice race report from the Frosty 50K was...well...I was blowin' a little smoke up your patootie.

I have this plantar fasciitis thing grinding me down and the image at left (from says it all.  I have a micro tear or worse in the "thick fibrous connecting tissue" in my right foot.  I had this years ago and it can hang around for a long time.  Some of the pain is low grade and of course, I was running though it.  Was actually glad to keep it partially at bay and take that Frosty finish.

I'll try to curb my running a bit, but how realistic is that?

I'm back into my Boone groove after traveling for almost a month and one of the great joys of being back is grinding coffee beans in the morning and brewing that first pot of fresh Joe.  While traveling I went the instant route and want to give a shout-out to Trader Joe's brand instant coffee. It's a good price and I'd suggest equa…

Frosty 50K at Salem Lake

I was lucky to get off the mountain this morning at 5am...heavy snow and wind has moved into our area and driving was touch and go.  But, only 10 miles out, the roads were clear and dry and I was on my way to the 2011 Frosty 50K at Salem Lake Park in Winston-Salem, NC.

This fun, local event is a long-time fixture on the ultra scene and this year's version came in windy with temps in the low 30's.  I went off the back at the start, breaking in a new pair of Brooks Trance, and letting things sort out while I managed another sinus and chest infection.  Coughing seemed minimized so I turned up the wick a bit and went to work on the first leg of this double out and back course.

I made it through the first dirt portion then only the greenway section.  At one low point a stream was running over the path and cold icy feet were the result.  I made it to the first turnaround at 1:15, which allowed me to benchmark the 1/4 point in the race...I was on 5 hour pace.

It's fun to watch co…

Life without ultras: A sad outcome, indeed

I have been looking back while gazing forward over the past several days.  Running the Rock Creek Trail in MD, at a slow methodical pace while my mind spins with thoughts about the meaning of life and how we get to the place we call today.

At right is master man circa 1981...rather thick and meaty from fatty eating and beer by the gallon.  I was, at that point, still attempting to race motorcycles, which was hard to do when running somewhere near last at every event.  I didn't have the skill and my mind and body were slushy from over-indulging.

Then came my epiphany, where in 1983 I dumped 45 pounds and found the endurance sport lifestyle. There have been ups and downs, but I can't imagine life without it.  It has formed my mind, my body, my goals.  I view life through the lens of an ultradistance race.  I have gone further than I ever thought the finish line of 100 mile races, through relationships, and more recently to an academic finish line with the PhD.


Georgetown adventure: Bike & run shops + Mexican lunch

Despite wet weather (but warm temps in the 50's) we journeyed from Bethesda to Dupont Circle via train, then took a leisurely 1.4 mile walk to the southwest, to the wonderful shops and eateries in Georgetown.

Georgetown is a highly desired (and highly expensive) neighborhood in Washington, DC.  As part of our exploration, we visited a few fun and unique stops along the way.

I couldn't pass up a bag of Marathon Coffee (photo above) from the Georgetown Running Company (check them out at  This is a trendy yet "in the know" place to hang out, with an ample supply of Brooks products...always #1 in my mind.  The coffee project was created to honor the shop's fastest runner, Wilson Komen, who posted 27th at the 2010 New York City Marathon.  Neat promotion, neat establishment, all with the Georgetown "retro" feel.

Two bike shops sit almost side-by-side in Georgetown. Revolution Cycles (http://revolutioncycles.…

Looking back and gazing forward

I'm back from 10 days in Wisconsin, enjoying runs on my hometown loop and trudging through snow and ice to traverse the trail section around Oak Island and Fern Island Park.  Had some weather delays getting out of that part of the country, but did make my way to DC to celebrate the advent of 2011.  Here's a shot of old master man taking a New Year's Day walk on the Rock Creek Trail.

As with any 12-month period of time, 2010 had some ups and downs, some memories that I wish to retain, and others that I'd rather flush away.  Most recently was my crash and burn on good eating; while away from home - and many times Internet - I fell off my meticulous dietary planning on  Soon it was visual eating - if I see it, I eat it.  Many of the gains I made the past several months have been reduced to a place where I'll have to start over and build the temple once again.

I'm at a place of transition.  At 54, I'm no longer fast, or motivated to be faster.  My …