Skip to main content


Showing posts from December, 2011

Garmin update: A shocking discovery

Got up this morning with a fresh 1" snowfall blanketing central Wisconsin.  I got out and shoveled our walks and also played the good neighbor by shoveling the walk for the house next door - old timer there said he blew out a knee so thought it best to lighten the load.

Went out for another loop on my Wausau streets and trails. I'll make the run 8 out of the 10 days here and there has been a bit of variance each day.  Some winter runs are almost perfect - one has to appreciate the nuance of winter, with fresh snow and mild temps. Not all winter is pleasurable, but some segments are a great alternative in a runner's life.

Please let me rant for just a moment on the new Garmin. Upside is that I'm having giggles each morning when my laptop sucks the data out of the watch and I get to see how slow master man traverses his course.  I ran an 11:21 pace per mile average today and that's good to know. But the part that goes beyond comprehension is the array of settings th…

Merry Christmas #2 - study abroad from Italy

Just when I say no more posts before Christmas...I receive notice that I was part of an intimate photo (just me and 100 others).

It's the University of Florida study abroad crew, part of master man's adventures in May of this year. I'm the dude in back with the appropriate master competitor thumbs-up pose (in red shirt).

Have to love the life.  And staying on message...God is good.

Merry Christmas from Master Competitor

I was out for a run this morning (15 degrees in Wisconsin) and was framing up all the things I want to discuss and state in future blog posts.  Funny how clarity in thinking is heightened when your eyeball fluid is freezing.

Don't know how much I'll be able to post in the next few days.  I'm working from McDonald's at the moment - parents' house doesn't have Internet.  Seems medieval, but it also demonstrates life goes on without being "always on."

I could rant a bit about field settings on my new Garmin watch, or my push-back on Endurance Planet's latest "you have to trail with a goal" podcast.  But I'll leave that for later.

On this day, I want to say Merry Christmas to all master man readers.  Thank you for joining into the discussion by engaging in this content.  I may ping around like a pinball hitting triples, but there is one theme that threads through all that I am:

God is good and the endurance sport life is a gift.  None of…

Old(er) runners: We're efficient and injured

There's an interesting piece in today's New York Times, regarding a recent study on aging runners:

You can plow through all the scientific findings on your own, but here's my nickel tour of the results:

1) Older runners are just as efficient as younger runners.  We can turn energy into footstrikes with the best of 'em.

2) We're losing upper body strength and flexibility.

3) We're getting injured from the knees down and we stay injured longer because we're old and we don't heal  well.

4) When we are hurt, we keep piling on the miles.

Does any of this seem like new information?  I've been living in the bubble described for the past 10 years or more.  Conserve energy, run smart, get hurt, run more.

The hardest part is staying in the game.  Few of those who started the endurance sport shuffle when I did, remain.  More are coming into the sport at a later stage in life (read the…

Garmin Forerunner 405: Data doesn't lie

I've been strapping on the new Garmin and heart rate monitor for morning runs.  Now have data from both the Birmingham and Wausau, WI, loops.

Things I have learned:

I'm a bit faster on the Wausau  loop - 10 minute/mile average vs. 10:34 minute/mile for the Birmingham loop. That's interesting because there's ice on portions of the course in WI.

Not much elevation to report...about 800 feet up and down in AL and 175 feet in WI.

Pulse has very little range - I maxed at 131 bpm on the Wausau loop, climbing Callon Street hill this morning.

A true master competitor might observe and track each of these dimensions, watch for trends, and then chip away at improvement.

I won't.

There is only one training solution for master man: Get light(er).

I'm so frail that pushing on increased speed or endurance might crash me for the 2012 racing season.  The only logical way to get faster is to pull less fat along the trail.  Less weight means that the same effort will carry you …

Happy birthday to me

It was a big day in the life of master man.  After a rough endurance sport season that included my crash-o-rama on the mountain bike and "I can only see white" allergic reaction to yellow jacket venom, I was ready for things to wind down to a quiet conclusion for 2011.

So, the meter click over and I tagged 55 today.  Yikes.  There's some hard miles on this body and at times one needs to recharge. That requires a substantial amount of calories - check out the sugar monster in the pic. It had everything I needed for instant energy...laden with Reese's peanut butter cups on one side and crushed Butterfinger on the other.

Then things got over the top when I opened my gifts and there it was - a Garmin Forerunner 405. Now, it the tips of my fingers, I'll be able to track speed, distance, heart rate and time. Walk the watch within 3 feet of my laptop and all the data gets sucked out of the watch into the computer.

So now I have to face the realities of training.  I…

Cyclists and the Blue Ridge Parkway: Let's get the facts

I received a rather urgent list serve email from the Boone Area Cyclists. It was forwarded by the League of American Bicyclists. It stated:

"The National Park Service is asking for feedback on its Draft Management Plan, a 684 page document that will set management policy for the Parkway for the next twenty years and beyond. The proposal favored by park management (option B) could restrict future encouragement and promotion of bicycling and hinder the Parkway’s ability to evolve to meet the growing demand for active transportation."

Embedded in that email was a click-and-go form email.  Cyclists were being prompted to forward their stance against language in the Draft Management Plan that hindered the future use of the parkway by cyclists.

This form of political action concerned me.  I wasn't prepared to stamp my approval on a topic without being more informed.  I made a few calls to the Blue Ridge Parkway office and was eventually connected to Dawn Godwin, Community Planner…

Lees-McRae cyclist killed in head on crash

A cycling tragedy occurred near Banner Elk, NC on 12/15. Lees-McRae cycling team member Megan Babb, 19, was hit head-on by an Appalachian State student who veered left of center.  The student claimed he fell asleep while en route home after completing exams.

Babb was a resident of Texas and was training to compete in the USA Cyclocross Championships in 2012.

It's impossible to fathom the heartbreak facing both families this Christmas season.  For the Babb's, who lost a daughter, and also for the family of the driver, who took a life.

Five seconds.  That's all that would have been necessary to shift the point in time and the accident would have been avoided.  A stop light, reaching for a water bottle, a bathroom break.  Any small event would have been the difference.

We can't live in fear of life.  But as cyclists, we must accept the risks that accompany sharing the roadways with motor vehicles.  None of us will know the moment when our guest pass on this earth will exp…

Pure Protein Plus

I'm running wide open posting final grades for the courses I teach.  Prioritizing my workday is essential.  I must move towards the important, not the urgent.

Of course, that means I have to start the day with a blog post.

Taste is a big priority when I'm mixing smoothies after a morning workout.  My favorite protein mix is Naturade soy protein, but it's such a small hit in grams that I wanted more and I wanted whey...need to buff it up this winter.

I went for a big jug of Pure Protein Plus...this product is an exclusive item at Sam's club.  Great price, just shy of $20 for a big 2.25 pound quantity.

This stuff mixes thick and yummy, so I'm into the flavor.  And two scoops delivers a 46 gram blast of whey protein, so the body should be sucking in some good stuff after the exercise sessions.

Hey, you can swig a Pure Protein smoothie between sets in your 500 push-ups/hour program.  Life can't get much better than that.

Bittersweet day @ Table Rock 50K

I took a shot at a new event this past Saturday and ran the Table Rock 50K near Lake James, NC.

I could rant for awhile, but instead I'll take the Clint Eastwood approach - the good, the bad and the ugly.


1) Ran every step of the event with my buddy and ultra rock star Rob Apple. Rob has now completed 640 ultras and he's going strong for many more. We caught up on old times and had some good laughs en route.

2) Weather was spot-on perfect for a NC December day.  Sunny, clear and high near 50.

3) Aid station volunteers were exceptional.  Great engagement and conversation.  Thanks to all.

4) Sites were spectacular.  We ascended forever and saw striking scenery along the course.  At the 50K turnaround, there were epic views of Table Rock from the Wiseman's View Overlook.

5) Tech shirt and finisher's sweatshirt provided.


1) Course didn't provide much variation.  It was 5-6 miles of pavement, then a gravel mountain road you climbed for a couple of hours.  Up,…

60 minutes and 500 push ups

Some of the students from our Active Living community banged on my door tonight (I'm faculty in residence in one of our student facilities). They wanted me to witness their workout. They have built themselves into ripped specimens over the past semester.  The game was to amass 500 push ups in one hour.

It's a systemic program, 10 per minute the first 30 minutes, which then drops to 7 per minute to conclude the hour.  Of course, that's only a guideline; three of the boys hit 500 while Josh, the "winner" on the night, performed 640 clean executions.

What's remarkable about this process is that one can see the physical changes in these students over the semester.  They work hard and perform the 500/hour most every night.

It's interesting to watch how others develop physical fitness - during a daypart I'm almost always asleep.  Many different approaches to working out.  It's not a master competitor protocol for me, but I enjoy watching how the younge…

Liza Howard: Practice contrived suffering

Here's another shout-out for; a recent episode featured Hal Koerner and Liza Howard.  Both are top flight endurance athletes.

Liza won the 2011 Rocky Raccoon 100 mile women's category in 15:33 and was fifth overall on the day.  She's the type of individual who knows how to perform. Part of that success comes in the form of mental capacity to process the challenges that come from long-distance racing.

Liza made an interesting comment during the podcast that engaged my thinking.  She stated that we need to practice suffering in contrived situations (i.e. ultrarunning) so that we can step up to the plate when true events of suffering come into our lives.

I find this profound and good advice.  It's interesting to note that this topic came up in a discussion with my riding buddy Chuck...the guy who took that terrible fall on a bike descent this spring.  Chuck broke a collarbone, ribs, his pelvis and had a concussion.  It's been a long road bac…

North Wilkesboro Speedway bike ride

Did a great ride after church today. Met Lou and Tim for a leisurely-paced loop.  Lou is going through a tough time with her father's cancer and can use some prayers; Tim was crashed out by a pit bull earlier this spring and crushed his hip...he had a long recovery and is back on two wheels this winter.

I'm fortunate to have friends who will include me on their loops.  I haven't done much road cycling around Wilkesboro and today was a great event - 50 miles in sunny 50 degree weather.

The ride included a lunch break at Subway at the 30 mile mark.  From there it was a quick spin back, with several descents and subsequent climbs.

I entitled this loop the North Wilkesboro Speedway ride because we came past the speedway from the south, then crossed 421.  I had a lot of history at that track, back in the mid-1980's when Wrangler and Dale Earnhardt were big in NASCAR and I worked on the PR account for racing. Who would have believed I'd be riding past on a bike ride 25 y…

Mountain biking on the Overmountain

I felt quite proud of myself last evening...dropped two new sets of brake pads into the BB5's on my 29er.  Had a bit of trouble centering the calipers but a bit of Internet study helped me determine how to get it done.

I was back on the Overmountain Trail once again today. Familiar territory and my 29er hardtail is more than adaptable on that terrain.  It's all good and I'm over my whine fest from last weekend's ride at Oak Mountain.

Had a good talk with my mother.  She is my wisest advisor.  Mom told me "you'll know when it's time to slow down" as it regards my desire to once again gain speed while cycling.  This is coming from an 84-year-old woman who hits the Y four times a week, so I'll listen.  She's an excellent example of how to hold it slow and steady, yet retain the fire inside.  Many her age might have pitched in the towel, but she keeps on jamming the workouts.  She commented on young guys speeding like fire on the indoor running tr…

Exercise now...become a fit senior citizen

I have been able to overcome my whine fest after getting my butt kicked at the Oak Mountain trails.  I have a tendency to focus on the fastest and generalize over the entire population of riders.  I may be slow, but not the slowest.  Sometimes as we age, it's important to step back and look at the entire journey.

Here's a shout out to my mom and dad.  They have maintained a solid aerobic base over many years and it's been payday at this point in life.  They're now in their mid-80's.  Mom still gets to the YMCA for a workout 3-4 times a week; dad has been a fast paced walker for many years, covering six miles on most days.

Many folks their age are confined to wheelchairs or reside in assisted living homes. Life-long fitness plays a huge factor in the quality of life, later in life.

So maybe I'm getting my behind handed to me on the mountain bike loop, but I'm out getting exercise nonetheless. I'm not winning the race back to the parking lot, but I hope t…