Saturday, June 30, 2007

America's Greatest Runner!

My good and great friend Kristyn brought a magazine over to the house the other day. It had Dean Karnazes on the cover. Dean is the King of the ultra marathon. His book (mine will be better, and that is a stone cold promise, it won't sell as many copies, but it will be better), "Ultramarathon Man, Confessions of an All Night Runner," was a bestseller for a year. He has won Badwater (135 Miles starts in Death Valley, in the summer, and goes 1/2 way up Mt. Whitney,) and Vermont. Dean has run 50 marathons in 50 states in 50 days. He is an accomplished runner. Anyway the January 2007 issue of "Outside" Magazine listed him as America's Greatest Runner! Quite a title, for quite a guy.

No offense Dean, but phooey! In 2002, I met America's Greatest runner. I met him at mile 50 in Vermont. He was 58 year old Ron Balow. I looked over at Ron as we were running and he was just grooving, I said "Ron, there is nobody in America running any better than we are right now!" I then left Ron behind and finished not 1st but 76th.

In April of 2004 I met America's greatest runner again. This time her name was Becky and she was floating past me at mile 29 of the April Fools 50K in Croom Forrest. Becky went on to set a masters course record that day.

This last October I met America's Greatest Runner once again. This time I met him at mile 80 of the Arkansas Traveller 100. His name is Ted Bidwell and the 57 year old Colorado native finished 8th in the race.

Today, I met America's Greatest Runner one more time. I ran 30 Miles in the Florida Sun with three good friends. I talked I laughed, I made the most out of the situation.

Tomorrow who will be America's Greatest Runner? Who will get the most joy out of what they are doing? Who will glide along? I hope it will be you!

Thursday- Gym, 5 sets of weights.
8 mile run in Temple Terrace with Becky and Davo
Body Weight 181

Friday- 4 miles off road bike

Saturday- 5 AM - 11:30 AM 30 Miles at Croom with Becky, Jon and Julie

Friday, June 29, 2007

Failure? No, Starting Point!

Many of my friends think I'm already in good shape, and they may be right, I am in good physical shape for everyday life. But running 4x 100 Mile mountain trail races in four months requires that I be in great shape compared to those who run 100 mile races, not just to my friends. Were the grand slam to occur tomorrow or in 4 months, I would fail, no question. No false modesty, just fact.

Yesterday was my first day of official training. I had a simple workout planned, I thought it was a good place to start (i was right about that), I also thought I would accomplish it with ease (i was sadly mistaken about that!). I'll not kid you, I didn't mind being knocked down to size, I believe I needed it and I believe it will help me focus on areas of need.

Before the training started I was going to the gym almost daily. At the gym I would use the stair-stepper and the treadmill. This machine emphasize my strengths, cardiovascular endurance and the love of a good sweat! Not once did I do weight training, and the one time I started doing Abs I quickly ABandoned the exercise, claiming to be too sweaty.

Well, I promised I would do Abs and weight train. Yesterday's workout was basic:
5 Sets of 20 of crunches, 5 sets of 20 of calve raises, 5 sets of 20 squats, and 5 sets of 20 hamstring curls. I failed to accomplish all of these (except the squats, which were no problem) exercises even though I used modest weights. Here's what I accomplished:
Crunches, 20 X 3, 18 X 1, 15 X 1. Just a few short, but I want to get to 500 a day, long way.
Squats, 20 X 5 with 125 pounds (Devils Thumb and Hope Pass will need more than that!)
Calves, 17 at 155 #, 18 at 125#, 17 at 105, 20 at 95#, 17 at 95#. Those calves burn going uphill, on Monday, I'll try lower weight and complete all 5 sets!
Hamstring Curls: 15 at 65 #, 20 X 4 at 50 #. On Monday I'll try 5 X 20 at 50#.

So there you have it, I will have to do more work on my weakness and not neglect my strengths (I like throwing sweat on all the folks near my treadmill!)

Also, today I road the mountain bike here to the library, remember I've started riding, walking, or running on all possible errands of 6 miles or less round trip. Well the Library is 2 miles away and the ride wasn't easy! Granted my bike is stuck in a high gear so it requires some torque, but still, it's 2 miles!

Hey, yall be good, and feel free to help me with advice on the weights, I aint to Schwatzenhagger!

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Yes, Do get Tired!

I expect to get tired in my Grand Slam quest, which starts today. An attempt to do what only two from Florida have done before, and to be honest, an attempt to do it faster than either of them. Here's a few of the changes for the year:
1. As you know, no meat (except after completion of a 100 mile or longer run, then only a Nobleton Burger)
2. No driving to work, only running or biking (unless I have to transport my daughter, safety won't allow me to tow her on the bike, Tampa is already the MOST dangerous city in the USA for bikers.)
3. Add Weight training, first session today (yuck, I hate weight training!)
4. No complaining! This is my choice, I have no right to complain about it!
5. Yes, Do get tired! This does not merely mean "want to take a nap tired." This one is born from recent correspondence with an acquaintance in California who finished the tough Western States 100 Endurance Run when many faster, younger runners were unable to. How did the 45-Year Old Leigh (though she looks and runs 10 Years younger) accomplish this feat? She did it by asking herself how can I do this? She didn't ask why she couldn't. She prepared for success. For more information, check out her blog at: The most telling picture in her blog is of her running up a mountain trail while dragging a car or truck tire behind her. Have I ever cared enough about anything in my life to apply that type of dedication? I can't remember when I ever have. I vow to "get tired" during my quest.

All of us should take something important to us and treat it as so important that we are willing to "get tired" over it! Congratulations Leigh, you have inspired me!


Wednesday, June 27, 2007

The Anxiety Starts Today!

My year in the Slam starts tomorrow, but my anxiety about training for one full year and changing my life style has officially started! I am not a quitter, and I will be doing something I love, but can I do it? Will I have the desire for a full year? Will I maintain my health? It's all a big IF.

But, it's the ride, it's the journey, it's giving it the old college try, I am willing to put myself of the line, even though the chance of completion isn't great, the chance for success is 100%. I am going for it!

ps, Hey, I'm getting tired of writing for myself. If I'm going to do this for a 366 day year (i'd be fine on a regular year, but 2008 is a leap year!) I'm going to need a little help, how about throwing me a frickin' bone and putting up a post, you can do it!

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

The Beauty of the Trails

I don't live in California, Wyoming, Colorado or Vermont. But that doesn't mean there aren't some days when God's hand doesn't show itself in our humble Florida trails.

Yesterday (when I still had all 10 toenails) I started out on a 16 - 17 trail run at Morris Bridge Park. It was hot, it was humid, but it is Florida and it is June, so no sense complaining about it. About 15 minutes in I saw two wild pigs in the woods. The area used to have 100's of them, but development has encroached, and only a few remain. Still, what a great way to remember that we are part of nature.

Farther in I started thinking about one song. Now my I-Pod has 276 songs on it, but that one song was the very next that played, another sign that I was where I was supposed to be. My thoughts then drifted to my old friend Gary, with whom I spent many off road bike trips in these very woods, before the park got all gussied up! We spent half of the time lost guessing where we were and randomly choosing paths. With the Tampa area having so few natural spots left, the trails are marked and maintained, and almost anyone can challenge the trails without getting lost. I hadn't laid eyes on Gary in years, and had no idea how to contact him, his number is not listed. Anyway, right after than I popped out onto the paved trail and viola, there is Gary riding his bike on the paved trail! And why didn't I wish for 100,000 dollar bill! Hey, it was great to see Gary, but if I'd have known that I had that power....

Later, I was reflecting that it had been an incredible run, I thought the only thing missing is seeing an alligator, well you guessed it, sunning himself happily on the other side of the pond I was running by was the rather large prehistoric reptile, sent to remind me that God was in nature and that I was where I was supposed to be!

Tough ToeNails Turkey!

Chase would be proud of me! I've heard before you make any decision, ask yourself, "How would this make Chase feel?" Well, I'm sure he'd be proud of me. Yesterday after my 16 Mile trail run I had to do it, I sat down with the pliers, and yank, Off came the left big toenail! It had to be done, and it had to be done by me. And who says tail running isn't glamorous?

Have another trail run scheduled for Thursday, and another toenail that's almost ready to go, I'll keep you posted!

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Darn, This Cheese is Hard!

Holy Guacamole (pronounced like John Beliushi pronounced it in Animal House, with the horse and D-Day, and Flounder, in Dean Wormer's office), but this ultraRunning is hard!

Western States is this weekend, and many of my best friends in the Ultra world are there. Dan Miller, John Wood, Chase, and Chris Wedge are all people I have run with for many miles, and they are like family to me. Chrissy Weiss, Leigh Corbin, and Gordy from California are people I like very much and would be great friends with were it not for geography. Well, other than Chris Wedge, who went into this race in as good a shape as anyone I've ever known, and probably in better shape than I was in 2005 when I was the last Florida resident to earn the Silver Buckle for completing the race in less than 24-hours. all of my friends have either dropped, or are up against the clock in the race. Chris was comfortably under the 30-hour cut-off, finishing in 24:51, a great time for a flatlander, but I know not what he was hoping for. Word on Woody is confusing, the webcast was projecting him to finish just under the cutoff, but late word is that he dropped at 55. We'll get clarification soon. Chase dropped at Devil's Thumb, the toughest spot on the course. Gordy (paced by one of my best friends in the world, Mischa Redblurr aka, Michelle Barton), Leigh, and Chrissy are all projected to finish with about 1/2 hour to spare (not a huge window in a 30-hour race of 100.2 miles!).

The saddest story is poor Dan Miller. Dan and Woody have devoted 18 months of their lives to training for this race, and both are in great shape. Dan dropped in 2004 due to under training because of a broken heart. Dan's mother was ill in 2004 and he spend many hours and made many trips to Ohio to see her. She passed shortly before the race, and the whole scenario killed his chances for success. This year Dan trained so hard, and was in great shape for success, and a couple of weeks before the race his father took ill. Dan's dad passed the week before the race, the funeral was race week, and he had a late flight in the day before the 5 AM start, spending 10 hours on a plane. Dan missed the cutoff 30 miles in, at Robinson Flat, by seconds. He was literally on the scales waiting for his weight to be recorded when the horn went off. Without Dan, Woody's incentive was lessened, and may have also cost him a finish. When my mom passed, I used that as incentive to shatter my PR, but this was 4 months later, had I had to run that week I would have been lucky to finish any race, and probably wouldn't have been able to. I know Western States would have presented too much of a challenge.

Anyway, like the Penguin says, (paraphrased) "The wonder isn't that I finished, rather that I had the courage to start at all!" The only value is in the preparation and the attempt, weather we succeed or not is of no significance!

Best to you all, and please stay with me as I start my training on June 28, to put myself through this drama FOUR FREAKING TIMES!!!


Thursday, June 21, 2007

Poor Man's... er,a, Creative, Blog

I wonder if you guys know that the public library let's you use the Internet for up to one-hour a day, more if no one is waiting. Handy piece of information for those without home internet, handier still for those of us without home internet that are keeping a blog!

Being poor, er, a, Creative, make one appreciate the finer things in life, like gasoline! You know it's not free. But they do take quarters and nickels at the gas station. Did you know that a Honda Fit will travel more than 59-miles on $4 in gas? It's true, I'll get back to you on just how much farther it will travel.

There is something to be said for being Fit enough to run all over town, this Grand Slam thing may turn out to benefit me yet. Of course, I'll have to do some wheeling and dealing to figure out how to pay for these races and travel thereto (don't think it's a real word, but I like it!) Don't think for one second that I won't cash in my meager retirement account, because I will, if I have to. Jimmy Buffett said it, "I'd rather die while I'm living, than live while I'm dead!"


Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Speed Kills

Speed work kills, kills Wednesday morning sleeptime that its! Today was the third of the summer cross country practices for the TC Crusaders. This one was a bit different in that some of my team actually showed up! Darn, I was hoping that I could cancel the whole summer, but if they come, I'll coach them. By the way, if anyone would like to come and participate in Wednesday 8 AM speed work you are welcome, no charge!

Bring your own drinks if you come though, I am shutting down the Honda Fit for trips of less than 6 miles round trip. Part of my Grand Slam training will be to park the car. Whenever possible I plan to either run, walk or bike to work, I only live 2 miles from there, and if I can stand to smell me when I get there, let's hope my students can too!

I'll keep you posted!

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

A Year From Cody

Well, today is the one-year Anniversary of the death of my Mother. Most who know me know that I was in Wyoming having just completed the Bighorn 100 Trail Run. It was the Monday after the run, I was in the very quaint and cool town of Cody. I had the privilege of talking with my mother on the morning of her passing.

Dealing with the whole her death wasn't easy. I didn't really speak to anyone for about 3 months, all I did was run. Mom and I were able to set a PR in our next race the Arkansas Traveller 100 in October. You can read the story in the Jan/Feb edition of Marathon and Beyond.

Mom, I'm glad you are home, but I miss you!

Saturday, June 16, 2007

I Was Shot!

Good news, I found the culprit for my downfall in Wisconsin.
On a training run last night Jon Docs, The Beckster, and me met at Croom for a 6:30 PM start, our goal was to run deep into the night, Becky had never done a night run. We wanted to run till about 4 AM. About 5 Minutes before we finished our first 22-Mile loop, I got jolted by a stomach issue that made me want to Ralph Fortson all over the trail. This urge to purge stayed with me until we packed up and scrammed at 3 AM, after about 40-Miles. This was the same thing that happened to me in Wisconsin at the Kettle Morraine 100. I was on pace for a 20-Hour run, when stomach issues derailed me at mile 50, and I ended up finishing in 25-hours.
However, this time I found the source of the malady.
I was the victim of a shot in the stomach! A Cliff Shot that is! Now, I'm not blaming Cliff Shot, it's not their fault that I didn't through out my case of Cola Shot just because they were a year beyond the expiration date! I didn't know, but I should have. Candi gave me those over a year ago and she got them 6 months before that and they were given the Gasparilla to all be used at a one day event in February 2006, so you know they were right on the date back then. Not to worry, I have Chase buying some more for me at Tin Can Pam's, he's never had a problem with their, only slightly used food there!

Friday, June 15, 2007

The Bull Stops Here! A New Diet:

Ok, this one will be tough. I plan to celebrate June 27th with a steak dinner, then it's veggies, and seafood solemente! I am planning to go meatless for the entire year. In part II of the odyssey, I will celebrate each of the completed races with a world famous Nobleton Burger from the Riverside Restaurant in Nobleton, FL.

Good luck to me, and NO Cheating!

MicroSize Me; The tale of the Tape

Part of this crazy quest to run the Grand Slam will be keeping track of my body. Starting on July 28th, Dr. Candi Ashley, a professor and researcher at the University of South Florida and one of my great friends, will be measuring many of my body functions and body mass. Much like Morgan Spurlock did in the excellent documentary, Supersize Me, we'll be keeping track of changes throughout the year.

Obviously, I expect changes to occur, and I don't expect them all to be positive, but we'll see. Along with the clinical data, I'll also be keeping a photo log, so you can see and not just read about the changes over 366 days of extreme excercise.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Training Titles

In the Slam, obviously a reference to the Grand Slam, and to being in jail, and I certainly will be a prisoner to freaking training for like A YEAR! I figured it out and to do the mileage I am planning will take an average of two hours per day, that's 732 hours, guys, that is one full month of 24 hour days doing nothing but running (I haven't even figured in the cross training yet!) Oh, I'm going o be a bundle of Joy for about a freaking year!