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Showing posts from August, 2011

Honest Jim says "Running is my mistress"

I've used the "endurance sport as mistress" theme and mantra on several occasions.  There's something about long distance aerobic sport that seems like an illicit affair.

To lend more credibility to the theory, check out the following from Honest Jim, who was recently featured on Dirt Dawg's Running Diatribe:

Here's what Jim had to say:

I listened to show 69 the other night, where you compare running to a marriage...I'm so with you on so many levels but running to me feels more like a mistress! My wife knows about her and tolerates her to a certain extent,  but I can't really talk about her too much! She competes with my wife for my time! I sneak out to see her - sometimes at night! I sometimes hide my clothes after seeing her so my wife doesn't figure out where I've been! She also excites me and I can share things with her others don't understand! 

Looks like Jim has a bit…

Pain management for endurance athletes

There are many things going on in my mind...and body...the past several weeks.

I did allergy testing this past Thursday to determine what family of wasps shoots deadly (for me) venom, then went to get my shoulder checked Friday.

Have been processing how to best deal with my recent onset of problems.  One advantage looms large when facing injuries:  Endurance athletes train for pain.

I had this discussion with Chuck, my riding buddy who suffered a horrendous cycling crash earlier this summer.  On every ride, on every climb, we practice the art of enduring pain.  More pain = a better performance.  You might believe you can't take any more; then the guy next to you upshifts from low gear and you can either drop back, or shift and absorb the next level of pain.

As we grow our tolerance, we also prep for the art of aggressive rehab.  Most times doctors will tell you "let pain be your guide."  My tolerance for pain lets me reach deeper and further than others who have not  dev…

Type 3 separated shoulder from mountain bike crash

Here's how it looks about one hour after impact.  Collarbone snapped away from the shoulder blade.

Three (3) tendons anchor the collarbone.  Three snapped for master man.  Type 3 separated shoulder. Didn't someone famous state that good things come in threes? Not for this broken competitor.

Saw orthopedic doctor today.  Options are 1) do nothing and go for natural heal with floating collarbone; 2) arthroscopic surgery to plant a pin and reset collarbone or 3) major reconstruction on the tendons.

Either of the fix options will require an immobility brace for at least 4 weeks.  Options are good, but can be complicated.  Time to think it through.

Avid Elixir: The brakes that slapped me on the rocks

I have been thinking quite a bit the past week.  Every time I move one degree beyond my range of motion, this wounded right wing sings out in pain.  Reliving the crash is part of riding anything with wheels.  Once you go down hard, you want to know what could have been done differently to avoid the carnage.

The 29er I was testing featured Avid Elixir hydraulic brakes. Twitch your finger and you're full lock.  Then I started to ponder the riding tactics of fast off road riders:  They carry maximum speed until the last possible second, then brake for an instant and turn.  It's an on/off and go model. Brakes are a necessary evil, but when fast riders need brakes, they need them full on.

This is a world apart from master man.  I like to drag my Avid BB5 brakes.  When I grab a handful, it's all friction.  I like the ability to reduce speed in a gradual fashion, many times braking throughout the entire turn.

It's not the fast way around and surely not recommended by anyone w…

365 Thank Yous: Gratitude, falling down and marathon running

John Kralik's 365 Thank Yous has become my feel good and inspirational book of 2011.  This "phoenix rising out of the ashes" piece of non-fiction drives the nail home again and again regarding the consequences of self-pity, altered perception of life, and how reaching out to others will bring reciprocal benefit.

The premise of this book comes to Kralik from an experience on a mountain trail.  Though the author does not adhere (initially) to religious beliefs, he does receive some sort of metaphysical edict, which tells him it's time to reach out and become thankful to others.  This takes the form of a special goal, that of sending one thank you note each day during the coming year.

I listened to this publication on audiobook while running.  As Kralik would profess, I want to say "thank you" to the author for reading the book himself; his soft, caring voice lends authenticity to the message.

It was time to chuckle a bit during the final chapters, as it seems…

Separated shoulder: A pic tells the story

Here's the graphic provides when you Google a separated shoulder.

The collarbone "break" is actually at the ligament connector point.  Guess that's good news based on what could have happened.

When I took the impact, the collarbone was raised about an inch off the shoulder blade.  That could have been a must-do surgery clue, but what's interesting is that over the first night, the collarbone settled back into place.

All that remained was swelling and pain.

I won't see the ortho doc for another week, but I seem to be experiencing reduced pain each day and a slow increase in range of motion.

Maybe I can heal and be free to hit the trails again soon.

Purging the Percocet

No secret that after you crash your body, pain ensues.  To that end, medical professionals are astute in prescribing meds that are up to the task.

My post-ER gift was Percocet. This little pharmaceutical marvel is actually oxycodon with a Tylenol chaser.

Here's how WebMD explains it:

This combination medication is used to help relieve moderate to severe pain. It contains a narcotic pain reliever (oxycodone) and a non-narcotic pain reliever (acetaminophen). Oxycodone works in the brain to change how your body feels and responds to pain. Acetaminophen can also reduce a fever.

There's much to consider when using this sort of pain killer.  It's amazing, yet to me worrisome, that a drug is causing effect in my brain. It's not simply dulling pain, it's turning off the pain sensors inside my brain.  Acetaminophen is known to relieve pain and is dispelled through the kidneys.  I'm not at true fan, as in most cases I am trained to accept and embrace pain; it's the hea…

Crashing a two-niner: Broken collarbone and separated shoulder

Life has been getting a bit "iffey" lately.  Had the wasp sting incident, now related $900 ER bill. Lost my tenant in FL house and taxes are due.  Car has emissions problems we can't seem to fix. I've been having some bad vibes ever since returning from DC on Monday.  And then...

Tested a Giant 29er Anthem at our local Rocky Knob mountain bike park yesterday morning.  Had not been on the trails so went early to pre-run the loop twice.  Nice, good jog.  Then student arrived with 29er, so very cautiously I set off on a short ride.

*($(##*##ing hydraulic brakes.  I knew they were touchy, but in a fraction of a second I had both wheels locked on a downhill and I was subsequently pitched onto a rock pile.  Didn't have to move to know I was hurt pretty bad.  Could feel the shoulder/collarbone thing, I broke the left side in the early 90's, this was on the right.  Crawled up and walked the bike back to the kid, handed it to him, told him my collarbone was broken, th…

Marshall Ulrich: 70 miles a day, run across the USA

If you want to stay abreast of all things ultra, make sure you're listening to  The latest installment is an in-depth interview with Marshall Ulrich, who knocked out a run across America in 52 days.  Let's keep in mind the fact this dude was 57 years old at the time of the effort...and that he was laying down about 70 miles a day.

It takes a bit of work to prep for such an attempt.  Ulrich states he went on several 18 mile runs - dragging a tire on a rope to help increase core strength.

Ulrich shares several memorable ultra moments, like the time he hallucinated that a woman in a silver bikini was rollerblading in front of him, or when a farmer in Ohio unloaded some buckshot when Marshall jogged past his property late at night.

At one point during his run across America, Ulrich stopped at an emergency room and had his body MRI'ed.  He wanted to make sure the pain he was encountering wasn't life threatening.  Seems that the docs noted he had …

Glutton man

This is a rather strange jump, but when visiting the National Cathedral in Washington, DC, we came upon Glutton Man in the gift shop.

Don't know why he was in the gargoyle section, but I loved the visual.  Fat greasy burger in one hand and big bag of fries between his knees.  Could be the stereotype for half the motorists in the USA.

I'm a big advocate of placing more emphasis on gluttony as one of the seven deadly sins.  Seems that organized religion point fingers at numerous sins, in most all cases ranking some as more preposterous than others.  But when it comes to belly fat jiggling over our belt lines, we most often turn the other way and head to the snack table following the service.

I may work off a few more calories that others, but please let me state here and now that I'm not immune from the sin of gluttony.  I'm shoving a large second helping of ice cream into my pie hole as I write this.  Controlling food intake is always a battle and I'm not going to m…

Jennifer Pharr-Davis cracks Appalachian Trail record

This is a story of something so big, it's hard to comprehend.

Jennifer Pharr-Davis cracked the Appalachian Trail record, traversing 2,181 miles in 46 days, 11 hours, 20 minutes.  The women's record for the trail had been 57 days, but Jennifer wanted it all and grabbed the overall record.

Pharr-Davis was pushing through about 46 miles a day...if you've been on sections of the trail you know it's no freeway.  Check out the embedded youtube video from

Darrell Shultz: "You can't remember pain"

Here's one of my retro shots, circa 1982, featuring 500cc National Motocross Champion Darrell Shultz (right) with his factory tuner, Chris Haines.

Shultz became a big contributor to my journalistic career as associate editor of Cycle News.  It was Schultz that dropped a big scoop in my lap...that Honda was paying a $100,000 bonus to win the Supercross secret info at that time.

Shultz succumbed to major injuries, including a totally destroyed knee. When it came time to race for the 500cc championship, "Shu" had to be carried onto his bike, with his knee shot full of unmentionables.  He was also recovering from a collapsed lung, so Honda hired a medvac helicopter to stand by at the race site in the event Darrell had to be lifted out.

It was during those events that I learned something from Shultz that has carried me throughout my endurance sport journey.  "You can't remember pain," said Shultz.  "So I just live with it now, it will be …

Crank Sports e-Gel vs. Gu Roctane

I have to admit that throughout my endurance sport career, I have never committed to a solid race day fuel strategy.

Most of the time I race on black coffee off the start, make sure I'm well into the race, then try to make semi-good choices at the aid stations.  That usually translates into chunks of banana and sometimes baked potato dipped in salt.

Things take more effort every season and I'm looking into how to take care of essential needs and keep the engine firing.  To that end, I have been researching the need for amino acids (minimize the breakdown of muscle mass), burnable carbs, and electrolytes.

Heard some good things about Gu Roctane, but when I checked it out online, I was a bit shocked at the cost - $59.99 for a 24 pack.  I'm a value shopper so more Internet digging was in order...and here's what I came up with:

Crank Sports e-Gel.

Check out the comparison chart between e-Gel and Roctane.  Seems like you get much of the same goods, no caffeine and about 2/…

Coupon shopping = $$$ in your pocket

There's a new "free" for all happening at your local grocery and pharmacy's called the coupon craze, a way to stock up, shop smart and pick up your favorite goods for little investment.

Here's my latest pirate's treasure.  Name brand goods, with coupon cost reduction, in addition to store rebates and other cash credit programs.  Buy a lot, pay a little, and go home happy.

Couponing won't be for everyone, as it takes an ample amount of pre-planning, calculation, and redemption certificate management.  But once you get your PhD in mathematics, you're good to go!

Using coupons is an old game that has been modernized.  Merchants wants returning customers and if you're ready to play the game the manufacturers provide, you'll have more goods at home and more $$$ in your pocket...and that translates to cash for endurance sport toys and event entries.

So I'd suggest coupon more and save!

Fluids and electrolytes: Should we throw them under the bus?

I listened to a mesmerizing interview on Ben Greenfield's nutrition podcast, with Dr. Tim Noakes. Noakes is the author of "The Lore of Running" and has 30 years invested in sport nutrition and injury research.

Bottom line, Noakes contends that the salt/electrolyte model promoted in all major sports drinks flies in the face of scientific research.  His "drink to thirst" model states that our bodies need less that 1.2 liters of fluid an hour and that salt/electrolyte balance is self-regulating.

According to Noakes, the reason for the burgeoning supplement industry is that sport drink manufacturers created the need for fluid replenishment to boost sales.

This material is controversial and flies in the face of all common knowledge related to training and racing.  I'm not yet endorsing Dr. Noakes' premise, but I will have to think more about my use of hydration tactics going forward.

There's no way I can present the material like Dr. Noakes...listen and le…

Rolling down the Silver Comet Trail

Had an opportunity to catch up with old friends from Florida...we converged on the Silver Comet Trail, just northwest of Atlanta.

We rode to the west into Alabama last Friday. Riding towards the Alabama side seemed most appealing.  Much of the trail intersects small towns that seem like yesteryear.  We rode about 40 miles out in rather oppressive heat.  Caught a lunch at a neat little diner and then pedaled back.  Some rolling hills, just enough to get some burn in the legs.

On Saturday we rolled to the east towards Atlanta.  Saturday morning proved to be a very popular time.  We rode in a heavy mix of joggers, slow recreational riders, triathletes in fast pace lines and a few mountain bikers.  The Atlanta side of the Silver Comet is much more commercialized; we spotted welcome centers with large parking lots and direct access to townhome complexes. We went about 30 miles out, stopped at a Shell gas station for snacks and fluid, then pushed it back. Rain hit in the final miles, so it …

Young people, joy sticks and the great outdoors

It's interesting to watch how many young people today hover over the computer screen, surpassing the time they spend recreating in the great outdoors.

Check out this excellent comment from a master competitor reader...he started as a kid outdoors, stumbled upon an ultra, and took it to fruition 17 years later!

Justushas left a new comment on your post "My nephews know how to climb Grandfather Mountain":

Hey Tom,

In this day and age where a lot of kids would much rather shoot aliens all day in video games than ride their bikes and be outside this really does matter. I remember being a 12 year old on a backpacking trip on the Laurel Highlands Trail and experiencing (by complete accident) my first ultra marathon. The idea that people were running the entire 70 miles at once really stuck with me. 17 years later I completed my quest and finished the Laurel Highlands Ultra. That day was really the beginning of my love of running in the mountains and helped to shape my life in som…