Friday, August 31, 2007

And Then There Were Fewer

Ok, back to whacky crazy Birthday running stuff.

Fewer? Less? If you can count them it's fewer.... Fewer people, less butter. And then thew were fewer...... people...people running.... people running on my birthday... people running on my birthday in Croom.

For the 45 mile (er, 46) B'day run. I reckon I'm going to end up running more like 56. Decision has been made: Due to, Becky Baling (I really don't mind she has a good reason):

So, now I gotta get up to Croom in a way that is reminiscent of the Chase and Andy Dirty Water 40 miler in Pasco County. I'm just going to start at Midnight and flat run to Croom. I reckon I'll get there sometime around 9/9:30 am. What a way to spend a birthday (actually, I like the idea, it's a fun-scam I'm pulling on myself).

Geez, I hope someone shows up on the other end to drive me back home and has lots of beer and veggie-burgers and chips and sodas and ice and tater salad and could even bring one or two dogs and could get there around 10:30 and could give me a birthday hug. Of course, I'm talking about Dan Miller! I know he has the dogs and beer! (yeah ok, it was a joke, I don't even know Dan's dogs!, ok another joke, I really hope Barb comes up and gives me a birthday hug!

Yall come!


Andy's Doughnut tire, put on the Honda not-so-Fit on the way to last Sunday's run

This tire is not to be used on the dirt roads in and around Croom Forest!

Thursday, August 30, 2007

I'm Going to Disney!

Nah, I'm not going to Disney, but Barbara is, and she isn't just going to see Miguel Ratone, she's going to run the Walt Disney World Marathon. I'm so proud of her, she's doing Great. While I'm proud of Barb, I'm not so proud of Didney. Yes, it's the happiest place on Earth, but here are the top 5 new proposed slogans for Didney:

1. Gimme your money Sucker!

2. If you think we care, you're F'ing Goofy

3. The land of Tomorrow (and tomorrow and tomorrow on your credit card!)

4. Four Low Parks, One High Price

5. Disney, We're Great, so GET IN LINE!

As for the marathon, you spend so much time running on the service roads and behind the sewage plans they have a special slogan for the Marathon:

Come on in... Now get out... Come Again!

But, that's the park. I think it's great that Barb is running the Marathon, I hated it on 5 different occasions, so it must be ok. I certainly find value in it, and even more value in the quest to do it. Hey Barb, You Go Girl!

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

A Labor Day of ..... Er, Running

There it is! And isn't it beautiful? It's a gnarly tree on the Silver Lake Loop at Croom. How does an ultra-trail runner with Grand (slam) aspirations spend his 40-somethingth birthday? Dancing? Shooting Pool? Strip Clubs? Oh, I'll be staying out all night for.... a 46-mile trail run! Oh, here's another picture of the trail just to convince you to come along.... Of course the woods won't look like this when we start out at 2 O'clock in the AM (my initials, AM, coincidence? I think not!)

So, come on out and join Andy (1st billing as it's a birthday run), Barbara, Becky, Woody, Pete, Candi, MaryBeth, Julie, ah, come on Andrea, Joe, and friends (come on down Dave! We'll even shoot some pool and do fun stuff like that as well as BBQ. It'll be a stone groove my man (from what movie? I'm serious an allofMP3 album for the first person, Stone Groove my man. What movie?)

...........................The Croom & Que, Yall Come!...........................

And the King will be there!

Like my boy Big Bob would say, it's like salt peter, you can't beat it! So, you might as well join it!


ps, special thanks to E, for use of the term Birthday run. She invented the birthday run you know!

Monday, August 27, 2007

Catch An Auburn Tiger by the Toe!

Ok, don't play this one if you get squeamish. This is courteousy of Davo, he's my videographer, and he's good.

This is post Morris Bridge run with Davo, Becky, Randy and me. We saw Woody out on the trail, but he was too smart to run with us. Ok, here's the video click and view (I'll figure out how to just post it soon):

Ok, when your done with your movie, I want you to check out the link to Chase's blog, look at the picture of his feet. Come back for the re-vote on Quien es Mas Macho.

Can you say, WINNER! Oh, yeah, I finally won at something, the nasty-arse feet award! They are after all feet Lieutenant, not Roses.

Weekend's workout: Pretty darn productive: Saturday, 25 at Croom. Sunday 14 at Flatwoods, and successful toe surgery.
Not bad, 39 mile weekend :)

Friday, August 24, 2007

I'm In the MONEY!

If yall haven't figured it on out by now, I do like to run. Well, the last couple of days have not been so great for that. Wednesday, I flat lied to myself as I skipped my morning jaunt, "Oh, I'll go the gym after school." I hate the gym, I actually stayed at school and graded papers. Yesterday, I did do my speed work with the Cross Country team, that was cool. I am not the fastest one out there, but I was the only one enjoying the workout, that much I know. The CC workout was tough, but it was short, and I'm, no lie, a mileage JUNKY! I know better, and I don't care, it's a special kind of week when I can put triple digits down in my log. And, don't worry, I'll tell you about it when next I do it (can you say Labor Day?).

Ok, so my mileage needs (er, a, wants) have not been met this week, but not to fear, last night when I took my daughter to dance, there was a two-hour window in which to R-U-N. I can get in 8 miles easy, and still have time to stop sweating (mostly.)

We get there a little early, cool, no one would object if I do 10 miles instead of 8. Ring, Ring (my cell phone doesn't actually ring, very few phones actually ring anymore, but what else do you say, music, music?) It's Ali's mom, she is going to run by dance to let me sign a form for Ali's school. She'll be there RIGHT at 6. Ok, no problem, back to 8 miles. Ok, so at 6:25 I start my run. The weather starts to break, It gets down to 98, I'm feeling pretty good. Must be garbage day in Northdale on Friday because the cans are out. This being the case I do my usual, picking up a few brewski cans and bottles that are close to garbage cans. Not a good day to do this, someone had a little party and couldn't get these....

In the stinking rubbish bins. I picked 6 of these 32 oz suckers out of the ditches as I'm running. No problem, I've already done speed work today, so I can have a leisurely run. I've got till 8 PM. As I'm scooping garbage and running I see a black object on the sidewalk, and I stop, look at it.... It's a wallet. It's this wallet:

There is no driver's license and there is $61 dollars in it. Now here is an actual picture of my wallet:

Ok, I'm broke and no-driver's license guy has 61 ducats. Easy choice? Shoot, I remember when I was in 6th grade, my parents were split up, we were never rich. I had a field trip to the phosphate mines in Mulberry (it was a weird school.) Afterwards we were supposed to go to a museum, the entrance fee was 75 cents, I didn't have it. I had no money. I'm sure mom had a buck or two (probably), but I was either afraid to ask, or just forgot. But I remember the terrible feeling of being the only kid on bus that couldn't go to the museum (skipping a museum doesn't seem so bad now.) Then, fate intervened, and jammed in between the seat and the side of the bus, I found a wallet. The wallet had 2 bucks in it! woo, who! I was set! Museum, snacks, the whole 9 yards. Guess what, I took that money and I just jammed the wallet right back where I found it. Then......... our bus broke down. Now, I'm sure that the two events weren't connected (fairly sure). But we hung out in the hot sun for a couple of hours till another bus came along. No museum, no snacks, no nine yards. And where's the 2-spot? Couldn't tell. You. And that act... well, it still haunts me.

..............................Bad Karma!..............................

On the other hand... last year, in almost the same spot I found a check book, I called the owner. They were thrilled. The lady even, swear to God, tried to set me up with her daughter. Taking the 2 clams, bad karma, turning the checkbook, good karma. So the wallet, easy choice.. right?

No driver's license... Ok, even though I'm broke (and I do mean broke, I owe my girlfriend $125, hope to pay it back soon. I have to register for the AT 100 before Sept. 4th, I mean I could use that $61 clams). F*#$ it, I'm finding the person, I'm getting that wallet back. I run back to my car. There is a check in the wallet with an address, I don't recognize the street. No phone number on the check. There are a few phone numbers in the wallet. None of them work. That 61 bucks is almost mine! I can take Ali to get ice cream, maybe put gas in the car... One more thing. I call my buddy Jon, he mapquests the address, it's very close to where I found the wallet. I drive over (my run is shot, I got in 3 miles, better than nothing). Knock on the door. No answer. Ring the bell, no answer. I turn to leave, this sweet Indian lady answers the door, she speaks little English. I try to tell her that I found a wallet, (I'm just a sweaty American guy, I think she was scared out of her gourd). Just then a teenager comes up on his bike, I say, "hey, did you lose a wallet."

He gives me a bow, "Thank you SO MUCH!" His face lights up. He's a nice young man, his eyes tell the story.... Good Karma! Money, comes and goes, I've had it, I probably will again, but that was a moment worth far more to me than that tank of gas, besides, I get paid on Thursday, I can ride the bike till then.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Truant or False

You see, I should know better! I am almost 45 years old and I should know that if I don't run first thing in the morning I probably won't run at all. But, I tell myself, yeah well, we all need a day off.... Bullschmitz!
As if I didn't feel bad enough being a slacker my man Woody sends me this report that Davy Crockett (best ultra name since John Muir a 30-Year old MD from Arkansas that ran sub-21 at the AT100) wrote about Leadville. It reads like a well-written how to guide (here is the linK: ) I read a bit of his other adventures and we have been in the same place several times.

Here's the bad news... In his story Davy Crockett had a Leadville elevation chart (it's an out and back course, so it only covers 50-Miles). I was unable to copy it, so I made a pretty fair replica on paintbrush here it is, it's very accurate:

Anyway, some encouraging news from Mr. Crockett, he finished! And he smashed his goal time. Also, generally we seem to run about the same pace, perhaps, I run a little faster, but he's running tough races and doing a lot of them.

Conclusion, if you guys can just send me a couple of 100-thousand dollars each, I'll move to Colorado and train, and I'll then finish (wait, with that kind of coin, I'm going to start playing golf again, imagine how far I can hit the ball in that altitude..............
Today: Speed work with Cross Country team- Hill Kings! Tonight, 8 at Lake Park
Tomorrow: 6 in the AM

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

LA Story

There is a great scene (er, an ok scene) in the great movie (er, ok movie) LA Story. Steve Martin, the main character, is sitting by the window watching the rain. He uses his finger and traces the fog off of the window writing, "Bored beyond belief!"

Well, I'd rather be running, I really want to run, but I am trapped at work, so here is my window tracing:

Also, for fabulous prizes (a lounge suite, among them) answer:

Danny Zucco lettered in what sport?
Fritz Mondale was from what state?
Kitty-Litter refers to?
Steve Garvey went to what high school?
To "stray" is to wander, to "Strayer" is to ____.

Oh, yeah, I was going to the gym, but no way, I'm running after work today!

yesterday, 6 (ish) miles, 5 bridges
today: 7 miles

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

It Aint Fair, but it is Scary!

Well, tough news from Leadville.

My great friend Chrissy (Xy) Weiss (on left being groped by Western States founder, Gordy Ansleigh) was on track to do the Grand Slam plus 2 this summer. She had completed Western States with 20 minutes to spare. She had completed Vermont with 25 minutes to spare (even though she had taken the Red-Eye from CA on Thursday night/Friday morn). Chrissy has completed more than 20 100-milers in the last three years. She knows how to hang tough. In addition to all of this running she manufactures and sells all of those Dirty-Girl Gaiters that we love. All of this while working full-time as an assistant DA in Southern California. Any way, Chrissy's attempt at the Slam was waylayed at Leadville, she dropped at mile 50.

Another acquaintance, Don Halke, whom Becky and I ran with at Vermont, was also delayed at Leadville. Don was raising money for cancer research in his quest. He had a great crew with him at Vermont. He had finished Western States with 20 minutes to spare and Vermont with 30 minutes to spare. Don made it to mile 70 before he had to drop.
Besides Chrissy and Don, many others are out. The 2007 version started with 29 attempting to complete the Slam. Of those 29........... 13 are left. Of the 16 that have dropped, 10 of them dropped out at Leadville (5 at States, and 2 at Vermont.) Most runners agree that the toughest race is yet to come, Wasatch.

I TOLD YOU GUYS this is tough.

I'm thinking if I don't at least have a 4-hours of cushion at Western States, Leadville will be too tough. I need to drop a good 20 pounds to be capable of this. That being said, other than my post-Vermont burger, and one-bite of a sandwich while tubing on Sunday, I've been meat-free since June 28. I've also been virtually french fry free (that's a toughie). Still, I haven't lost any weight. That's ok, I've got time.

So, when I think about the task ahead, it's a little hard for me to be amazed at the 23-Miler that I did with you guys at Croom on Saturday. Yes, the run was very easy for me (until the hill repeats with Chris Wedge, yeah, he's 10-Years younger and a lot faster than me). Barb is a very sane and sweet person, she is amazed that I can easily run a marathon at the drop of a hat (as long as it's cool, and as long as you don't put a pesky five-hour limit on me). But when I look at what's ahead, a marathon seems like what it must seem like to me, if I am to succeed, it seems easy. It seems like 1/4 of the distance I need for 1/4 of the races I need to complete. On Saturday, I felt I could have easily run another 23 miles, geez, that would only leave me 54 miles short! And that wasn't in the cards. Like Woody said at the Vermont 100, "This makes that 45-mile training run we did seem like nothing."

However, I am not discouraged, not even a little bit. While I love Chrissy, she doesn't have the speed that I do (my speed isn't great, but I believe it's plenty to finish each of the races.) While Don seemed like a nice guy, he had very little experience in ultras and probably attempted the Slam too soon in his career. I am not discouraged, but I more than ever believe it will take a lot of luck, and that I have to go in to this task in the best shape of my life, this will be more of a challenge than I originally thought it would be. Being honest, I was naive.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Nobody Gets Hi Anymore!

I remember, way back when I used to run around Tampa, Florida when two runners would pass each other they would exchange cordial hello's. Me, I was always a "Howdy" guy myself. The unusual thing was when a runner lumbered on by and didn't say anything. Boy, that used to TORQUE ME OFF! I took that junk personally. Now I wasn't as bad as my old running buddy Mike Boza, I remember a runner snubbing us one day and Mike was dog-cussing the old fool, I hadda hold him back or it could have gotten much worse.

Now, we runners, we never exchange verbal greetings anymore. We do however give a slight wave as we pass. Still we are better than cyclists. When I was a novice cyclist I used to greet fellow pedal-pusher with a howdy, and I'd be lucky to get that standard cyclist wave, four fingers extended downward from the unmoving hand positioned on the handlebars. That's what you get from a "friendly " cyclist. An unfriendly one won't even nod. And triathletes, forget about those guys, they are the least friendly lot I've ever seen. I know that's harsh, but it's true. My friends Chris and Deborah Wedge have a rule (which I also follow), no matter how hot it is, no matter how long they've been running, no matter how steep a hill is, when they come upon a triathlete they absolutely do not walk. Can't give those turkeys the satisfaction of seeing a runner walk. They already think they are better than us, can't give them anymore ammunition!

................. Don't Expect this Cat to Wave, He Won't!..............

So, you know that now days we barely acknowledge each other on the roads. Imagine my surprise as I was giving a polite little wave to a fellow pedestrian, and was greeted with an actual "Hello." For a second I hardly knew what to do. I stammered and returned a "er, a hi" to my brother in New Balance. Later during that same run I was really hitting a groove. I was moving and I barely had time to wave to the runner coming at me. Well, waving wasn't good enough for this harrier, he busts out the, "How you doing?" This time, I was ready, "Let me tell you, I'm doing GREAT!"

Maybe it was just for today, but it was so good to have the salutations back in the running. Next time you are out there pounding the pavement or traversing the trails, give them the old fashioned "Howdy."
Today's Workout: 5 Miles, 5:30 AM, 80 degrees, I felt great!
Tomorrow: 20 - 25 Croom. 5:30 AM start.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

The Results are In!

Well, after a one-week poll, the results are in.

80% of you believe that I WILL make it in my attempt to finish the Grand Slam of Ultra Running. With a strong 70% giving me the effin' A, encouragement.

20% believe that I'll either, "Prolly Not" make it, or will make it when "Monkeys fly out of my butt!"

As school starts for me at Tampa Catholic, I pledge to run/bike to work as often as possible (I lugged a slew of clothes and towels and lunch stuff today to help this cause) to ensure I get in tip top shape. I really want to see what happens to that 10% with the monkey thing when I finish.

Thanks for your votes, new poll coming soon.

Today's workout: 8 - 10 miles at Pasco Wellfields with Becky
Tomorrow: Run to and from School, Cross Country practice with team, Hill Kings (total 11)
This weekend: Sat. Croom, Sunday: Urban Assualt in the hood

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Oh Really, it's hot at 4 PM?

What a maroon (who said it?)!

Ok, so at 3 PM I go out and cut the grass, that goes well, it's overcast, breeze kicking up, didn't want to weed eat because, well, I don't like to, AND rain seemed imminent. So, I'm thinking last time I did Hill Kings I only did 5 and I'm supposed to be working my way up to 50, so I really should some Hill Kings, I love to run in the rain. So, I trade in the nasty yard shoes for some nasty running shoes and I'm off like a ..... slug :(

It's not so bad a first, but the rain doesn't come, takes me about 20 minutes to get the 2 miles to the MLK bridge, and now the sun is out (don't like the Florida weather, wait a minute it'll change), but there is still a breeze, so it's not too bad. Do the first 3 Hill Kings and I'm actually starting to feel pretty good. Get ready to run up that bridge for the fourth time, and the breeze stops dead. Start over for the fifth trip up the bridge and the sun screen from my bald head melts and drips into my eyes, OK, that burns (I gotta market some better sun screen for the follicley challenged, Bean Screen, I'll call it, maybe even throw in a little Grecian and some Rogainne, stage 2 will have some hair gel in it as well.) I am SO happy I brought Gatorade instead of water, so I can't squirt that in my eyes. Regardless, I do #'s six and seven, and head for home. Man I it's so freaking hot by this point, I'd love to walk, but I am now travelling right past the school where I work, and my guys are having football practice in this heat. It's bad enough that they see me in my little running shorts, I can't let those guys see me walking too. So, I straighten up, puff out my chest, throw my shoulders back, and pick up the pace till I get past the practice field and around the corner, and then I stop like a runaway truck on one of those ramps near Mounteagle Tennessee! I walked off and on the rest of the way home.

It was a good time! It's hot at 4 PM in August in Florida? Who knew? What a maroon!

Yesterday's workout: 8 Miles with 7 Hill Kings. No wildlife, 3012 cars, lots of whinning.
Today: Gym for abs and leg muscles
Tomorrow: Pasco Well Fields 8 - 10

Monday, August 13, 2007

Run and Smell the Flowers

Running, it's supposed to be fun as well as exercise. It's always exercise, but it isn't always fun! However, I can tell you a secret that has made it much more fun and meaningful to me over the last 3 years:

When I run, I smell the flowers, well I at least look at them. I don't just glance, but I take them in. I hope this is elementary to most of you, but I had been running for well over a decade before I took notice of the beauty around me. This is sad, because one of my favorite and most vivid running memories is of doing a training run while pushing my then 4-year-old daughter in the baby jogger and having her ask me to stop so we could pick the flowers. I'll admit that I was training to qualify for the Boston Marathon and didn't want to stop, but I have always been glad that I did. We stopped for maybe 5 minutes and picked some flowers. But these were flowers that I hadn't even seen, that I don't even remember. We stopped because Ali wanted me to, and those are moments that one just shouldn't pass up! No, it was another 5 years after that when I was running in my favorite place in the USA, Northern California before I ever noticed a flower while I was running. I had just finished a brutal training run (I loved it!) in Eureka while visiting my mother and the two nuns she lived with (my mother was also a nun in that order), when Sister Teresa asked "Did you notice the wildflowers?" This question took me by surprise. I was training for a the Great Eastern Endurance 100K Run, held in the rugged Shenandoah Mountains, I wasn't concerned with flowers. Besides that, I'm a macho, toenail pulling, beer-swilling, sports-loving, hard case. I aint no Nancy-boy flower watcher! Until then. Sister Teresa took me outside and showed me some California's beautiful plants. Later that day we went to a nursery and bought some indigenous plants for their garden. The next morning when I got back from another long training run, she didn't even have to ask me, I described the flowers, and there were so many, that I viewed.
Now it's not just flowers I notice. It's stars, it's fireflies, it is sometimes a single leaf on a tree.

In the 2005 version of Western States in the Sierra Nevada mountains I stopped just before the coming to the American River near mile 70 and spread my arms as I looked at a clear sky full of stars. At Bighorn in Wyoming the stars were so bright against the mountain landscape that I stopped a train of runners and held my arms upward; the other two runners gasped, as they noticed the majesty of my vision. This summer in Vermont at around mile 32 the flowers were so bright and vivid that their beauty literally brought tears to my eyes (I am sure Becky thought it was the tough climb up the mountain, but it was the flowers.)

The places that we run are such a gift if we let them be. These places aren't just in the Mountains of California, Wyoming and Vermont. A year after my "awakening" in California, I was doing a loop in Croom that I have done 100's of times, and was literally brought to my knees as I prayed and thanked God for the beauty that surrounded me in a field of flowers. In the last 7 years I have probably run more miles in Croom than any other human, and yet, I had never noticed the flowers, I had never accepted that gift.

If you haven't run and smelled the flowers you should.

Thank you Sister Teresa!

Sunday, August 12, 2007

When it's Wong it's Right!

Special thanks to our own Julie Wong and her husband Eddie for hosting the August Croom and Que. We, Barb, Jon, Laura, Becky, Joe, Woody, Trudy, Davo, Lisa, Gio, Candi, Randy, and Andy, made the longer than advertised journey from Croom to their humble estate. All I can ask is, who knew? That's a slew of sweaty, dirty nasty trail running fools to feed, bath and entertain. Anyway, their home is lovely and they were wonderful hosts. Thanks again you two!

View from the Wong's 2nd story Deck

Now, speaking of our crew we had a new member in the fold, Barbara. It was her first loop up there and her longest run ever at 12 miles. She ran we great! I am so proud of her as she trains for her first 1/2 marathon on Sept. 7, in Chicago and then on to the Disney Marathon in January. Wow, it is inspiring to see someone attack that kind of challenge. It never gets old hat to me and I always appreciate the enormous challenge in tackling new goals. Way to go Barbie, you are looking and running great and all of us are proud of you!

Today's workout: 12 miles at Croom. 30 laps in the pool. And the days longest workout, a loop around Julie's house (can you say football season :-)

Please Check out Dave's slide show of the Croom & Que at:

And Don't forget pre-party video, where Jon and Laura drop the bombshell!

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Quien es Mas Macho?

Who's more macho, Chase or Me?

I only ask because Chase used pliers to rip off his toenail (his counselor thought the was nuts, I on the other hand was impressed.) Well, after Vermont one of my toenails was giving me some trouble and my tool kit was in the car and so I reached down and gave the nail a little yank. I aint lying, it only took me three pulls and, viola! that nail was no mas!

So, which is mas macho, pliers or hand? That looks like a good survey question.

Chase VERSES AndyMan

Today's workout: 15 miles at Flatwoods. Start 6 AM. Finish 8:53. 1 snake, 0 hogs, 0 alligatiors. 2 runners, the Beckster and Andy

Tomorrow: 12 -15 at Croom followed by a pool party!

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Hey, So Just what is the Slam?

I was looking at a comment from my great friend Steve Davis. He'd seen an article in Running Times about the slam. Seems that the Grand Slam is kind of a mystery even to Running Times, so let me fill yall in on the pacifics (spelled incorrectly.)

1- Not just anyone can enter. You have to qualify for and be accepted into each of the 4 races that make up the Slam.
2- Just qualifying and sending in an application are not enough to get you entered. Two of the four races choose entrants via lottery.
3- Here are the four races and when they occur
Race 1- June 28, 2008, The Western States Endurance Run. This race starts in Squaw Valley, Ca and end in Auburn, CA. These cities are about 80 miles apart via car, so you can't really just go out there alone, you have to coordinate with someone, or be a really good hitchhiker. Finish rate: 60 %, Florida finishers this year- 2 of 7. Under 24 hours 0.

Entering: First you must qualify for this race either by completing a certified 100 mile event or by running an age-graduated time in a 50 mile event. Second, you must have $250- $300 for the entry fee. Third, you have to pray that you get picked in the lottery. About 1200 people apply and they choose 400, a 33% chance. I ran this race in 2005, but my application was not chosen in 2006 or 2007. So how come I think I'm running the grand slam in 2008? Two-Time Losers who have qualified, applied and been denied are guaranteed a slot on the third consecutive year in which they qualify and apply. I have already qualified for the 2008 race, provided my check doesn't bounce I'm in Western States!

Race 2- July 19, 2008, The Vermont 100. This is the "easiest" of the four. This year's finish rate was 71%. Florida Finish rate: 2- 5

Entering: There are no special qualifications and normally they do not sell out. I will enter early just to be sure. Entry fee is $200, but entry fee is waived for those who collect $400 for their charity, Vermont Adaptive Ski and Sports. I have done this on 2 of my four trips there.

Race 3-August 16, 2008, The Leadville 100. This race in the Colorado Mountains is the one that really worries me, because the entire race is run at altitude over 9000 Ft, with a peak over 12,000. I have only run one race at altitude, and I did not fair well. I did poorly! But, I will be trim, and I will run hills and I will pray! The finish rate here is dismal, of 450 entrants in 2006, only 199, 44%, finished. As for Florida, only 1 of 4 finished, and he, Steven Schwer, a great runner, with only 20 minutes to spare! If I can get by this one....
Entering- No limit, must enter by May 31. Entry fee $200.

Race 4- September 6, 2008, The Wasatch Front 100. The WF 100 is staged in Utah's Wasatch Mountain Range. It is brutally hard, but it has a 36 hour cutoff time. It'll be tough, but if I make it to the start..... Finish rate 68%. NO ONE from Florida finished this race last year! Oh, that's encouraging!!!!
Entering- They choose only 220 from a lottery. Those that applied on time and have finished the previous 3 grand slam races do get consideration if they don't get chosen in the first lottery. This will come into play in about 4 cases.

Traditionally the finish rate for slammers is around 30%. 4 races in fewer than 4 months. California, Vermont, Colorado and Utah, just right for a Florida boy.

Hey, am I in for a treat of what? I'll be looking for pacers. Chris, Jon, Candi, Mischa, Deborah, Woody, Dan, Becky, Chaser, how about it gang, it'll be a stone groove!

Hill of the King

One of the keys to success in my 2006 AT 100 run was my commitment to hill repeats. The repeats weren't much fun, but they work (sorry Becky, I won't make that error of omission again, I hope!).

Ultra runners in mountainous states always ask me, "How do you train for this (pointing at a large landform which ascends thousands of feet, they are called mountains, but Chase knows this) living in Florida?"

Well, how do you drink water if you have no water? You don't! There is no way to adequately train for serious mountains living in Florida, you can't do it. If you don't have water, you can get by on Gatorade, it takes more effort to go out and find it, and pay for it, and it may not be as good, but it'll do.

What I did in getting ready for Arkansas is lots of Hill Kings. I live pretty close to the Martin Luther King Bridge going over the Hillsborough River. This is not a very long bridge, nor is it all that steep, but there is no limit to the number of times one is allowed to run over it, and there is no toll ('cept the one on the body.) Today, I started my hill training with 5 bridge repeats, I call them "Hill Kings." Just before Arkansas this year, I'll get up to about 20 repeats, and no telling before Western States in June, maybe up to 50, maybe 100, I really don't know.

It's a Mountain!

Anyway, come on over and run the King with me, it'll be..... our Gatorade.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

We've Got Each Other (aint that peachy?)

Ok, so this is cheating, it's from an e-mail to some friends that are "thinking" about coming over to the dark side and running a hunert-miler (you can take the boy out of Auburn, but you can't take Auburn out of the boy!) I am putting this in the blog because of something my brother said. He is a bit jealous of our "family" here. How we communicate and train together. He's lives in a town that's so small that they recently had the whole thing carpeted! I mean Dade City could kick the crap out of it in a war! (Ok, Free I-Tunes song for the first to come up with that movie)
Ok, here's the Reader's Digest Version of the story from today's e-mail to my friends, setting out on the journey to the Dark Side of Ultra Running:

Hey, for this training thing, at least you all have each other. When you go up, you will all have each other.

Man, when I did my first one, I didn't know if I was washing or hanging out! I knew nothing and no one! 50 Mile Training run? Alone (er, thanks Becky for meeting me for part of that back in 2001, but I had to do the night in the woods alone). What to put in a drop bag? Alone!

Travel to Vermont, where I never been? Alone! Sure, I know a lot of those people now, for instance, Dan and Woody, and Ron Balow and Barbara and Miles were all up there, but the only one I knew was Ron Balow (and no offense Ron), but he was as much a rookie as I was. I fly into New Hanover, NH figuring, "I'll catch a ride with one of the runners." I figured the race was a big deal, er, NO! There is only 100 - 300 in these races, no one knew about some 100 mile run. Fortunately I went up to a lady that had on trail running shoes and asked, are you doing the race? She was, I hitched a ride I got my buckle, but I was lucky!

Going Home Alone, that was another story: there wasn't a rental car available anywhere, Cabs don't come where we were, and it have been 50 bucks if they did. My friend that gave me a ride to the race had gone on, I was stuck, alone and they were kicking us out of our camping field a day early, OH SCHMIDTZ! What's a guy that can't walk because he's run 100 miles do? I hitchhiked into town, with my luggage, oh this was fun! I snagged a ride with some dude driving west to Michigan, whereas I needed to go East 1 hour to New Hampshire. The dude went out of his way, took me into town and dropped me off at a phone booth (remember those?) so I could call a cab. Well, he felt sorry for me and carted me back to the airport (even though my plane didn't leave until the next day). From there I got a room at the airport inn, thank Gawd (remember it's In New England) it was cheap. The next day my legs were so sore, still alone, I had to get a cab to take me across the street to the airport. But I made it! I reckon I was never alone, I had a lady with me the whole time.... Lady Luck! And my favorite deity was there too, thanks God!

Yall can use brains and each other, you don't have to be lucky, I envy you all!


Monday, August 6, 2007

Welcome Back Kotter

After a summer of recreation and some serious junk miles, I'm back. Oh goody goody gumdrops, I get to teach school, coach cross country and try to get ready to run 5 x 100 mile races over the next year.

What can I say, I thought it was going to be much easier than it's already proving to be. I had to do a little research didn't I? Turns out that there is about a 30% finish rate for the grand slam. Turns out only 2 people from Florida (I knew that, but it really hit home up in Vermont this year, when 3 of 4 very well trained people from our little group didn't make it to the finish) have finished. Our terrain really isn't suited for top finishes.

But, I am going to attack this thing for 366 days straight. Nothing will take precedent over this slam. Hence, starting with the first Saturday after Labor Day this blog will get more technical in nature. At that time I will do a lot of simple reporting on what I did for the day, how I feel, what I ate, and what I plan to do. I'll keep my medical information up to date. And I'll be open for suggestions. There may be other changes as well. I'll keep you posted.

In the mean time, yall hang in there with me.


Sunday, August 5, 2007


As a high school student, my good buddy Brian Russell and I were the undisputed experts of the neighborhood in lawn maintenance, you wanted your lawn mowed, you came to us. You wanted to mow a yard, you got our permission. Grass grew until we said it got cut. One day Brian and I were driving down our street and we see a couple of whippersnappers pushing a substandard lawn mower down the street trying to drum up business on our street. Well, the Gotti and Soprano of neighborhood lawn manicure couldn't let this slide by without action. Without consulting each other one glace showed us our course. We knew what must be done:

"Rookies!"we yelled simultaneous at these novices. Brian and I proved we still ruled the care of the quarter-acre lots in Town n Country. These newbies knew who was in charge.

Today, my guys and I were in our usual weekend workout haunt, Croom, when we were confronted with the biggest example of rookiedom since that faithful day as students at AP Leto Comprehensive (yeah right) High School. My gang included:

Woody, Boston Marathon Qualifier, grizzled veteran of countless ultra races, along with Dan Miller reigning Godfather of Croom.

Candi, Boston Marathon Qualifier, PhD in exercise physiology, budding ultra runner, very smart runner gal.

Becky, Boston Marathon Qualifier, Croom 50K Master's course record holder, top 3 female finisher in the GEER 100K

Julie, Boston Marathon Qualifier, Budding Ultra runner.

Yours Truly, yadda, yadda.

Trudy- Woody is the Envy of ultra runners everywhere because Trudy is the 2000, 2001, 2002, 2004, 2005, & 2006 Crew person of the year (don't know what happened in 2003). Trudy can navigate her around the Barkley course and have a cold Gatorade waiting for you after each loop!
The Rookies: 4 Chippies from Pinellas County training for the Pikes Peak Marathon.

Oh, where to begin? Their mistakes, too many to remember them all. Including, but not limited to:

Late start- We met these young ladies before they ran as were enjoying too few AFTER run beverages.
Fashion Faux- I wouldn't just use the term chippie (ok, I would) but this wasn't a Bayshore run. This wasn't a 5K, this is Croom. This is dirt, slime, spiderwebs, it's a sweat-yourtailoff-roast-your skin course. These newbies were wearing matching running skirts, hair teased to the moon, and I could swear there was some Lycra in the crowd. Oh, they were asking for it, chippies!
TMI- Ok, so I heard them say it was there first trip there, I gotta let them have it. They flat revealed too much information.
Not enough water- They took off with one water bottle each for a 15-mile training run. I know it's not their fault, but they wanted to know, and I'm not kidding, if they could buy some refreshments on the loop. Yeah, sure, just put your money next to the magic cooler which appears as you click your heels three times and say....

And their biggest sin:
They didn't ASK! Shoot, isn't it written somewhere that all newbies to Croom (and All Blue Sharks, always!) must inform either Dan, Woody, or me of their intent to train at Croom. We will consider the request and get back to the applicant in a reasonable time frame. They didn't ask.
So, how did we handle these rooks? Did we give them the ole' Brian and Andy salute?
Nah, we're all grown up now. We talked with them and even left them water and Gatorade at the 1/2 way point.
You know, we were all rookies once, even the Godfather!

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Surf's Up and I'm Out!

What's so great about running on the beach?

We have this mistaken idea that running on the beach will be so much fun.. Yipee, the beautiful water, the sun... It'll be great!

The sun, my least favorite star (cept for maybe Paris Hilton), oh it's there. You probably noticed that there are very few trees on Florida's beaches, so, not much shade.

The sand, now there's a nice Sunday surprise, it looks like it will be fun, but turns out, not so much. It gets in your shoes, it get's in your socks, it follows you like polonium-210. It sinks when you run in it.

The sights, ok, there's some water, ok, there's some water, squish ok, I stepped on a dead fish looking at the water... ok, there is a condo, there is a condo, there is a condo. Where are all the beautiful people that I am supposed to see at the beach, oh, they come out when it's sunny, when the lack of trees will roast you like so many marshmallows at a campfire, oh wait, there is some water, ok, there is another condo.

Ok, I'll just run to that pier up there and turn around. Ok, when am I going to get to that pier, it's so darn flat, it looks like it's just ahead. Oh, hey, if I count the condos between the pier and me, let's see, there's one, two, three, four, five, six, seventeen, eighteen, twenty-nine, thirty-four, and now I'm turning around.

Beach was fun, so darn good to be home, Croom tomorrow!

Friday, August 3, 2007

You Don't Spit in to the Wind!

Hey Jim, I agree, you don't spit into the wind, but rule #3, you do run in to the wind!

Ok, I have to do this every year, rules for running in Florida during our 9 month summer season:

Rule #1: 7/7 It's Hot out there! You should start all of your runs before 7 AM or after 7 PM. Understandably, if you are training for an ultra race, you can't always stick to this, but you should try.

Rule #2: Watch for traffic! Florida is the least state for pedestrians and bicyclists, Tampa Bay is the least safe area in Florida. Florida not the home of old people, it's the home of the parents of the old people! Guess what? They still drive! It's crazy, in the state where the average age is "near dead" it seems like we never have to renew our driver's licenses. I can't remember the last time I had to renew my license, or even take an eye test. I have moved 3 or 4 times in the last few years, I just go on-line shoot them my new address, and viola, a new license comes. Guys, I'm 45, my eye sight isn't even close to what it was 5 years ago, but I haven't had to get any glasses to keep driving. Personally, I run on the trails almost exclusively. But when I'm out there dodging Dodges, I've got my eyes wide open!

Rule #3: Run into the Wind when you are fresh. Aint much of a thing worse then taking off on a run full of enthusiasm, feeling like the Rock charging up those museum steps, knowing you were a Kenyan whose was switched at birth and then..... you turn around, you're miles from home and the wind hits you smack in the face, and you have to keep looking behind you to see if perhaps you are dragging a refrigerator behind you. So make sure you start dragging the refrigerator and end up feeling like a Kenyan, it'll help you come back for more.

Rule #4: Keep at it, the summer doesn't last forever, it only seems that way!

I think I can catch the old codger!

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Vermont Pix

Ok, I've been MIA from AOL, sorry, I've been soaking up rays and downing tuna colodas at the beach since my retrun from the green mountains.

However, I was on the comp usa long enough to download some pictures from the Beckster:

So, enthusiastic at the start are Becky, Andy and the Woodman.

Woody and Andy doing a little Carbo loading. What? No Red cup for Jon? No wonder Jon finished and the rest of us.... are left to try again!

Above: Now, if this isn't the sweetest picture. Woody and Trudy at camp 10 Bears. From what I have seen, Trudy could hold a clinic on how to crew an ultra, Woody is the luckiest of men!

Becky and I discussing "strategy" at mile 30. (Above)

Becky and I "revising strategy at mile 44." (Below)

Me, young (as I'm ever going to get!), and dumb (sadly, that may increase) and feeling great (yes Candi, I know, looks can be deceiving!) leaving camp 10 Bears.

Well, there you have it, for now. The picture tour. I haven't been running much here at la playa, but my comeback run is on Sunday at Croom. Hope you kin make it (kin is spelled incorrectly, should be can, but as you guys are my family, and in Alabama, that's kin!)