Saturday, December 29, 2012

Moving Over Snow

My first memories of cross country skiing are a mixed bag. One one hand, I remember the heavy, wet, cotton t-shirt sticking to my chest and gloves so thick with perspiration that I could wring them out to get a drink with all the while wondering out in the middle of a trail when will it be over? When will I see the lodge (aka: golf course clubhouse) and be able to turn in these stiff boots and pencil thin skis and retreat to the car with maybe a Snickers and Hot Chocolate?

 On the other hand, I remember gliding through the trail at a snails pace at the wonder and beauty of a winter wonderland. I didn't crave the speed down a hill, I wanted and needed to soak it in. My body working hard to get into some sort of rhythm and knowing that not when I was done, but later on, that I would have a pleasant dull ache in my muscles. I was 12.

When we moved to Michigan, my dad thought it would be fun to take my sister and I cross country skiing. The first time it was hard. Trying to snap into the three holes on the skis and getting up when you would inevitably fall down were all to common. However, once locked in and gliding along, it was for me a lot like running. Steady as it goes and gliding into a flow. Little did I know that he had planted the seeds in me for it to become a seasonal sport that I look forward to.

These memories, long since thought about, came flooding back when I strapped on my skis the first time this season. Untouched powder on a rolling golf course was all mine. I was free to carve a path up for others to follow if they so choose. Free to move on the snow in a graceful glide.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Remembering a Runner



NEMO

September 27, 2001 (adoption date) - December 20, 2012

Before marriage and kids, we rescued Nemo. He had been an abused dog when we first laid eyes on him at a Meet Your Best Friend at the Detroit Zoo event. It was a match that almost wasn't. He was the first dog we saw, and we had told ourselves at the beginning that we weren't going to get the first dog we saw. However, we quickly decided to go back for him and the volunteer seeing us coming back, deftly talked a family out of getting him because of all the energy that he would require. They knew we were runners and thought Neo (his adopted name) would be happy together. Neo turned into Nemo after our favorite watering hole near old Tiger Stadium and we were a family.

I had longed to have a dog that I could run with, and Nemo was a willing partner. Faithfully, every day he would be up and waiting for me to run. He would run slightly ahead, low to the ground and kept a steady pace.He was all that you could want in a fellow runner. He never missed a running date, and listened to my diatribes. In snow, I would spray his paws with PAM so they snow wouldn't clump up and he would trudge on. He was most at home on the trails though when we got out there. Off the leash, he was free to run ahead and always stopped to check and wait for me.

My running log for several years was filled with his weekly mileage to make sure that he didn't overdo it, and yet he still logged thousands of miles. When kids became part of the mix, he took his side right next me as we rolled down the road. One dog, one man, and one jogger. The abused dog we had adopted had morphed into a loving dog who all the neighborhood kids would play with.

Time inevitably slowed him down and the runs became walks. Eventually, those walks became just letting him out to go, but he still retained his spirit. A nudge here with his cold nose or a paw flicking at you brought treats and petting.

We told ourselves that we wouldn't let him get to the point where he began having more bad days than good, and when the scales began to tip in that direction it was one of the hardest decisions we had to make. I was unwilling to keep him going because of my selfishness of wanting to have him around every day.

The morning we decided, I ran our old dog park loop by myself which was one of our daily run routes. I had to let my emotions spill out on the road and had myself a good cry. One of several that day. My wife knowing that I was far too emotional to bring him to the vet, offered to take him after work. I came home  early, and dammit, if Nemo wasn't moving around better than he had in days, but I new it was just a ruse. I layed on the floor with him and I think he knew it was time to go and was telling me that it was ok as he nuzzled in and licked my hands.

Thank you Nemo for being what George Sheehan had written for us as man to be which is first a good animal. .

Saturday, December 01, 2012

Egg Nog Pancakes

Post long runs I love a big breakfast. Heck, I love breakfast in general. Pancakes, eggs, burritos, potatoes,  and pots of coffee...it's all good. I mean isn't that why we run to some extent? To eat?

December brings the return of one of my favorite drinks: 


Good ole egg nog. The thicker, the better, and yes even the Egg Nog Shake from the Golden Arches is quite delicious. Calories....meh, I'm not counting them. It's an indulgence a few times a year.

Anyways, I was plodding around the tubes of the internet the other evening and ran across this recipe via  http://fueledbylolz.com/ that seemed like a great marriage, egg nog as an ingredient in pancakes. Perfection.

In order to properly indulge in this, I figured that  a 10 miler was the penance that I would have to pay in order to enjoy.  Rolled the miles this morning and then into the kitchen to whip up the following recipe.

Eggnog Waffles

½ cup flour + 1 tablespoon

¼ cup eggnog

½ cup milk (the more creamier the more fluffy your pancakes will be)

1 egg

1 tablespoon baking powder

Dash of cinnamon (had to scrape the tin we had...it was a dash at best).




Optional add ins: chocolate chips (kid requested and tested)

Directions:

Mix the wet ingredients then add in the dry ingredients.  Cook on a griddle or try them out in waffle maker.

On medium heat, I used a 1/4 cup scoop to measure out and dropped a few chocolate chips in. I liked how light and airy the recipe was as evident by the bubbles all over the surface of the pancake just prior to flipping them over.
My kids who  said, "Yuck!" when I  was adding egg nog to the mixture, quickly asked for seconds. For me, that's how I know a recipe is good. Thumbs up from the kids.  As for me, the only thing I would try next time is maybe add a dash of nutmeg, and it probably needs a liberally helping of whip cream before digging in. For presentation purposes of course.  Enjoy!!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The Mountain Runner Movie


                                         The true story of America's first adventure race.
video

The Mount Baker Marathon was an endurance/adventure race, which took place in Bellingham, Washington. This race was a grueling race that lasted only 3 years.  

The Mountain Marathon Movie and website can be found here: http://www.themountainrunners.com/index.htm

Monday, November 26, 2012

Child's Pose



  
(my daughter practicing her child's pose)

Since getting back on the mat, I have heard from several fellow runners about how they are interested in yoga but are unsure of where to start or what poses might look like. One of my favorite poses that can be done before and after your runs is Child's Pose. While it might look simple, it's benefits listed
below are numerous. 

 
The Benefits of Child's Pose (Balasana)
  • Releases tension in the back, shoulders and chest
  • Helps alleviate stress and anxiety
  • Flexes the body’s internal organs and keeps them supple
  • It lengthens and stretches the spine
  • It gently stretches the hips, thighs and ankles
  • Normalizes circulation throughout the body
  • It stretches muscles, tendons and ligaments in the knee
  • Calms the mind and body
  • Encourages strong and steady breathing

To settle into this pose, think of being a "fetal position". Shins are on the floor and the chest can either lay on the knees or on the floor depending on if the knees are spread apart. The head rests on the floor and the arms may be stretched out in front or at the sides depending on the comfort level.


With any yoga practice the most important part of any pose is the breath. Breathe deeply and settle in just a bit more. 

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thankful


Tap tap...tap tap..I lazily turn over and glance at the green numbers glowing on the clock indicating its just after 5 am. I've slept in so to speak and my dog is walking back and forth on the hardwood floors downstairs letting me know he wants to go out. He has a routine. I am thankful he hasn't barked yet and woken the kids.

Tiptoeing downstairs, I flick on the light and coffee maker, thankful I can take my time to get out there this morning to run or walk. Piping hot java in hand, I sit down to a calm silence in the house. The only sound the clickety clack of fingers touching the IPad screen.

It is in this silence that I am truly thankful. Thankful for what matters and is truly important. Thankful that my family is safe on this Thanksgiving, and I get to spend this day with them. I recognize that for some people that this is not a reality. However, this feeling of thanks should not be merely contained to just this day.

Given the pace that many of us take in our daily routine, days like today should not only provide us with a pit stop to pull off and enjoy the view, but to remember what we have and should be thankful for.

Enjoy this day my friends.


- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Premier Protein Review

After a particularly craptastic day at work, I was poking around on Twitter and was just on the interwebs at the right place and time to be selected by Premier Protein to receive a gift package of their products. In the past when I have received samples, they have usually been limited to one or two but I was pleasantly surprised when the box below showed up and had several of their products for me to try.

                                                 

From their website: We believe that everyone should live a healthy, active life, and nutrition is the cornerstone of that life. However, we know that eating healthy and staying active is challenging in today’s hectic life, so we strive to be your health and nutrition partner—making powerful, healthy choices easy.

           Our mission is to give you the energy to get the most out of every day — now. 

Protein, protein, protein. We love protein because it is essential for a healthy and active life. But getting enough protein is hard, especially protein that doesn’t come with too many calories or too much fat. That’s why we make delicious, essential healthy protein that curbs hunger and fuels your energy for whatever you love to do.

We’re showing the world how healthy protein can help anyone tackle life’s daily challenges, feel their best and live the life they want.

As a parent of two active kids, school administrator and runner, I know that with being on the go that I make poor nutritional decisions if I do not have readily accessible snacks. One of the easiest things for me to slide into a backpack or bag is a protein bar of some sorts. I don't have to measure a portion or worry about the Ziploc bag breaking open with them. However, my own taste palate for most of the protein type bars I have tried in the past have bordered on yucko. Consistent with the taste of cardboard,  I didn't care how many grams of protein it had, they usually have tasted like crap. Needless to say, I was pleasantly surprised with the Premier Protein bars that I have sampled so far.

Both the Chocolate Peanut Butter and Double Chocolate Crunch bars have 30g of protein and 290 and 280 calories respectively.


I have tried the bars as a mid morning or late afternoon snack and found them to be both tasty and satisfying.

As for the Premier Protein Shakes, I have only tried the Chocolate flavor so far. On both occasions they have been after 12 and 13 mile runs and found the taste to be quite smooth. Not to many calories, and plenty of protein to help rebuild.

Premier Protein can be found at Wal Mart, Costco, and Sam's Club.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Simply Yoga App






My buddy and I were talking about yoga the other day over a few cowboy pops at Dragonmeads,  and he said he wished that yoga places offered like a men's only beginner class to ease them into practicing yoga. Classic case of being a strong runner but inflexible and didn't want to look or feel like a dufus in a class.

Problem solved, I told him....Simply Yoga. Simply Yoga is an app that boasts a free version and paid version ($ 2.99) available on Itunes that has an easy way to immerse yourself at home, on the road, or wherever into yoga.  Each of the practices has a time limit of 20, 40 or 60 minutes. In the free version, you get access to only one routine while the paid version gives access to one more practice. Both of the practices are centered around multiple rounds of Sun Salutations which in their own right can be a challenging and invigorating practice.  There is also the availability to start a practice at a certain pose or create your own routine within the paid version.

The voice of the instructor is calm and even keeled. One thing that I enjoyed is that there is video of a woman going through the practice as the instructor calls out the next pose.  The woman does not use a mat instead practicing on carpet and there is no instruction for modifications to any of the poses if they prove to challenging.

I did several routines using the free version before plunking down to what amounts to a Vanilla Latte at Starbucks for the paid version. With local yoga class fees running from $5 - $15, picking up the paid version was a no brainer. I now have a traveling yoga practice available at my fingertips. For those looking to try out some yoga at home before going to a studio, this is a great introduction as well.


Monday, November 12, 2012

Finding Traction Trailer

Finding Traction

Finding Traction is a film about ultra marathon runner Nikki Kimball’s quest to become the fastest person in history to run Vermont’s 273-mile Long Trail.




Monday, November 05, 2012

Locks of Love

"I don't know who you are anymore" replied my son to his mother the other day. She left for work the other day with hair inching down towards the middle of her back only to return with a short bob and the remnants in a Ziploc bag neatly banded up and measuring approximately 10 inches ready to ship. 

Ship where? Since giving birth to our son, my wife has twice now grown her hair out for an organization called Locks of Love. From the website: Locks of Love is a public non-profit organization that provides hairpieces to financially disadvantaged children in the United States and Canada under age 21 suffering from long-term medical hair loss from any diagnosis. We meet a unique need for children by using donated hair to create the highest quality hair prosthetics. Most of the children helped by Locks of Love have lost their hair due to a medical condition called alopecia areata, which has no known cause or cure. Some also have lost their hair to cancer as well. The prostheses we provide help to restore their self-esteem and their confidence, enabling them to face the world and their peers.

If you can not stand the thought of growing your hair out 10 inches in order to meet the minimum requirements, you can also go to the website and make a financial donation to the cause.  I am proud of my wife for taking on the challenge to donate to such a worthwhile organization.



Sunday, October 21, 2012

Back on the mat


"I said well daddy, don't you know that things go in cycles..." Tribe Called Quest

Fall brings with it the explosion of colors on the leaves of trees before they begin their slow descent to earth. Skies turn grey and the days grow shorter. Those first few breaths when you step out on a frosty fall  day is a sign that old man winter is not to far away.  For most people it is time to turn inward both physically and mentally.

My yoga practice has always been something that gone in cycles. As a college student, I remember practicing poses awkwardly out by the Huron River and trying to make sure that no one saw me. When I met my wife, the local yoga studio was the place for a few of our dates, but I still fought the poses physically. I didn't take what I needed from them or focused on the breath. It wasn't until I found a new studio about 6 years ago before the birth of my daughter, that I really began to appreciate what yoga could do for me. A few classes a week, helped to quiet my racing mind and opened up the tightness in my hips and legs that I had from running. Through my time on the mat, it was probably the best physically overall I have felt. Not to tight and not to loose. It was a calmness that I carried from the mat and into my daily life.

In the midst of that cycle, the yoga studio owner changed up practices and demanded more from me both time and fiscally then I was able to give with the birth of my new daughter. Sadly, I had to roll up my mat and retreated to my home practice that was nowhere as frequent or focused as at the studio. I reached out a few years ago to the owner again because I did really enjoy the practice and had heard that they had softened their views, but alas, it was the same as before and my yoga mat grew cold from the lack of use.

Who knew that it would take a case of plantar fasciitis and a Groupon to get me back on the mat and into the studio? Since spring, I have dealt on and off with a case of plantar fasciitis and being somewhat of a bonehead, I have not given it my full attention to heal. I got the message loud and clear after pacing my friend last month at their 100 miler, that I need to not run races for the rest of the year and to focus on getting better. While I certainly had not been diligent in my yoga practice, a few downward dog and pigeon poses here and there were not enough to keep my body in balance.

I began taking to the mat a bit more regularly and when my wife wife purchased a Groupon for the local yoga studio, I was a bit jealous. She began going quite regularly and I could see a difference in her posture and energy level. I wanted that to.

Last weekend with no kids, we went on a yoga date. It was the first time to this new studio and when asked if I had practiced before and mentioned the previous studio there was a look of recognition like we understand because apparently lots of people have left for the same reasons I did.  In this new studio and space, I felt at ease. There was no judging and the instructor kept repeating to be grateful and to feel the breath.  Yoga is not about resistance. Yoga is about opening yourself and breathing into that tightness to release.

Like the previous studio, this new one offered one week trial period for free and then a 60 day $99 unlimited package. During the course of the week, I attended 2 more classes and decided to continue with the unlimited package. In the space of a week, while my heel feels a bit better, it is the opening of my body that has me excited to be on the mat. [ ]

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Magic Mile

Bippity Boppity Boo!!! With a swing of the wand and little swing in my hips, I thought I just might to see what this "Magic Mile" bit was all about.

It seems comes summertime as of late, I have been feeling the need for speed. Mind you, we are not talking the Goose and Maverick version that will have you doing an inverted cross with a MIG-29, but more of the oh shit, I opened the beer to fast and better suck down the head coming out before it spills kind of speed. Faster than I have been, but nowhere where I was as a yute.

Even though I am pacing a friend at the local 100 miler in September and am thinking of doing a timed 12 hour event after that, I have been hitting the circle of cinders weekly. A steady diet of  whatever # by 800's, coupled with the layering this week of 2 mile repeats, have the legs feeling like there is a little pop but I am not feeling the need to race at this point.

In the past, I have used the McMillan Pace Calculator to see where my workouts might project on race day, and they would probably be spot on if I didn't fall apart. So grazing the buffet of training plans available, I drifted over to Jeff Galloway and the Miracle Mile.

What I love about Jeff is he is a huge proponent of the run/walk method. As a newbie runner back in the day when gas was still, $1.08 gallon, I stated that I would never "walk" if I did a  marathon, I have done so in every one and found the magic that lies within this method when moving to ultras.

From the website, here is what Jeff has to say about the "Magic Mile":

After having worked with over 170,000 runners over 30 years, I've compiled hundreds of performances and have established a prediction formula based upon a one mile time trial. In other words, every 2 weeks or so, you can run a measured mile (at a good, hard pace for you) and use the time to predict what you could run at longer distances.
This assumes that
* You do the training needed for the distance and time goal (See my books Running Year Round Plan and Galloway Training Programs)
* The temperature on the race day of your race is 60F or cooler
* You pace yourself correctly and take the walk breaks necessary for your goal (see the same two books for details)  


 So the idea behind this "Magic Mile" is that after a proper warmup of at least one mile, and some acceleration gliders that you run 1 mile as hard as you can. Not puking hard, but so that you couldn't maintain that pace for another 100 yards. 

Mind you, I have not run an all out mile since high school. Back then, pimple faced and fueled by the Golden Arches, I remember running somewhere in the vicinity of 5:20-5:30's. Good enough for varsity, but only because no one else wanted to run the mile. 

With a slow building trot to the starting line, I threw my Road ID off to the side of the track to increase my aerodynamicness and began the 4 laps. A lot of rain had fallen in the last day so the inside lane of the high school tack was a bit muddy in spots and I swerved in an out to hug the inside. 


Round and round I went and with each lap so my rate of breathing became more labored. When I glanced down at my Garmin, I saw an uncharacteristic number at the head of the mile pace: "5" and the remainder of the mile became an effort to keep that number from turning into a "6". 

Crossing the imaginary finish line (Road  ID and hat), I checked the watch to see that I had run a 5:53 mile. Between sucking air down I cracked a smile and trotted the whole way home thinking that was a pretty good effort. 

Sitting down at the computer, I proudly punched in my "Magic Mile" time only to have numbers spit back out at me that turned my smile upside down. 


5k pace - 6:26/ 19:57 
10k pace - 6:46/ 41:57 
1/2 marathon Training Pace - 8:39 / 1:53:18 
1/2 marathon Pace - 7:04 / 1:32:29 
Marathon Training Pace - 9:39 / 4:12:47 
Marathon Race Pace: 7:39 / 3:20:23


In all honesty,  I should not have been disappointed. I have put in only about 4 weeks of speedwork, and have not raced at all to see where my fitness is at. A chart is chart. An algorithim taking into account many factors, it's not the end all be all. It is merely a reference point. Nevertheless, I think that I had better start scouring the interwebs for a race and make a date in a few weeks with another "Magic Mile".  



Thursday, August 09, 2012

Legs As Tour Guides




(Paul Revere statue on Freedom Hill Trail in Boston)

Heading out of town? First thing that goes in my bag are my running clothes. I don't know about you, but one of my favorite things to do when I am in a new place is to go for a run and use my legs as tour guides.

Sure, taking in the sights and sounds of a new place are exciting during a day when the city is alive, but I enjoy the stillness of the early morning when the city is just stretching it's legs and the promise of a new day rises above.

An added bonus to getting out there early and exploring is that I use the time to acquaint myself with landmarks and maybe even where we will be heading for the day or where to grab a bite to eat.

On a recent trip out east to visit my 94 year old Memere, we made a detour heading home to take the kids to Boston for their first ballgame at Fenway Park. Sadly, the Tigers got rained out and lost, but it provided me with the opportunity the next morning to take one of my favorite runs of all time.




Heading out from the hotel, I ran out and around Fenway Park, down to Boston Commons, and out and around the Freedom Trail before heading home. Nine miles of total bliss and a great way to see a big city.

Have you used your legs as tour guides? If so, what has been your most memorable run?



- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Chasing the Shadow of My Youth


 
 Legs searing
 Short stuttered breaths
 Another left turn
 Chasing the shadow of my youth

 Taken for granted
 Speed as a child
 Keep loose, relax the hands
Chasing the shadow of my youth

  Worn grooves inside track
   Time waits for no one
   Scrap, claw, sweat
  Chasing the shadow of my youth

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Running with the Kenyans


If you had the opportunity to pack up and move to Kenya in an attempt to "unlock" the secrets of the runners who live there, would you? Could moving there and having the ability to train with the best on a daily basis make you that much better? Author and runner, Adharanand Finn, writes about just that experience in his book, Running with the Kenyans.

After winning a local 10k in England, Finn's competitive desires are awakened and with the blessing of his wife, they pack up their three children to head towards the Rift Valley to the town of Iten in the province of Kenya, home to what many view is a mecca of long distance runners. The book follows Finn over the course of a year as he lives, trains, and learns from some of the best runners in the world.

Here are some of the ideas I took away from the book:

1.  In Kenya, there are only athletes.
          If you are not an elite athlete or trying to become one, then you do not run. There are no Team in Training, or fun running groups. You run in Kenya to make it to the world stage and win. Winning means $. $ means bringing that back to your community and family to help build a house, school, or purchase livestock. There is no running say a marathon to cross something off your bucket list.

2. Kenyans don't spend a lot of time analyzing their running.
     According to the book, many Kenyans run by feel. When asked about how they felt, they might say they felt good or that they were tired and stopped. No over analyzing. The run is done and over with. Compare this Westerners who can more often than not tell you every thought during the race, when, and why they might have done something differently.

3. Kenyans train in cushioned, clunky sneakers.
          Yes, most Kenyans begin by running barefoot, but tend to train in cushioned, clunky sneakers during their daily runs. One theory, is that it makes training harder. The early years of running barefoot means they have developed a forefoot strike that is still there despite cushioning and will wear racing flats come race day.

4. By the time Kenyans begin "training" in earnest they usually have thousands of miles on their legs already.

     Traveling by foot is the main method of transportation. Children run to and from school not because they want to, but because that is the only way they can get there. Cars are a luxury not an entitlement or necessity. Unknowingly, they have been "training" since they are young.

5.  Rest is serious.

     Kenyan athletes don't have jobs. They run, eat, and sleep.  Training hard means the body needs to have time to rebuild and that means not tweeting, checking out Facebook, or going out with friends with drink. To be the best requires sacrifice.


Overall, I believe Finn did a great job at describing what it might be like to live and train in Kenya for a year. There is no secret pill to become great, it takes hard work.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Getting Back on Track

It happens every year. In the blink of an eye, it seems like another school year is over and the routine of school, kids, sports, etc ends rather abruptly. When it does, it seems like my motivation to get up before the sun to run, and commitment to any sort of project (writing, podcasting) for at least a few weeks does as well.  It's not that I am not doing any of them at all, but I am just kind of when I get to it, I will sort of thing.

I tend to wonder if this is laziness or something else? Maybe like any training cycle, I need time to rest and recover. I'll be honest, after a school year of dealing with students, staff, budgets, legislation, etc, I need a break.  Is it that without the structure of having to get up and workout before work or risk the chance of not getting it in, the motivation is lost? How do you handle a break in the action so to speak so that you can reload the coil to spring off again?

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Running Ahead of the Sun (Book Review)

Most running books fall into two camps. Books written by elite athletes (Ryan Hall, Meb Keflezghi, Scott Jurek) or by the back of the packers/philosophers ( John Bingham, George Sheehan, Haruki Murakami). Nothing is really aimed at the competitive runner looking to achieve personal bests or win races. Enter Greg Strosaker.

Greg, host of the blog, Pre Dawn Runner, is a father, husband, winner of the 2011 Towpath Marathon, and author of the book, Running Ahead of the Sun. What separates this book from the elite and back of the pack/philosophy book is that it is a daily journal of a self described "Average Joe" as he chronicles his training leading up to the Towpath Marathon.  Greg blends blog posts and Daily Mile entries to give readers an honest account of what it takes to go through a marathon cycle and how even within a plan you have to be adaptable.

Here is a an audio interview with Greg that I did for an upcoming episode of the podcast:


Friday, June 01, 2012

Daily Miler of the Week

I was pretty honored to be nominated by someone as the Daily Miler of the Week on Daily Mile. When I first joined back in 2010, I thought it was just another website to log and track my mileage. However, Daily Mile has become for me an important social media network as it is great way to interact with other athletes as we get out there and get moving.

Here is a link to the story: http://www.dailymile.com/blog/community/10692

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Running Royal Oak

My wife has supported me through every running endeavor thus far, so it is only right that when she stated a few weeks ago that she had come upon an idea for her summer running goal that I support it. When she stated that she wanted to run every street in our city of Royal Oak, I was a bit surprised. I mean here is a woman that can get lost in her own city, but then again, when I thought about it, I began to see the sheer brilliance of the idea.

First and foremost is that she is guaranteed to see new things on her runs. Let's be honest, most of us stick to our same routes on a daily basis. There is a certain level of comfort that comes to us as we see the same thing day after day, but by venturing out, she will see parts of our city she never new existed.

Secondly, stating that you want to run every street in your city and then getting a map (cost $2) from the City Clerk's office to actually look at all the streets really highlights just how big our little city is. There is a sense of adventure already as she has begun to scout the map and plan out her run for the day.  A bonus here for me, is that if she gets lost, I have a map of where she should approximately be.

Third, it's a great motivator to get out the door every day.  While it is not a "time" ( sub 60 min 10k) or "distance" (marathon), there is a start and end date for her. From Memorial Day to Labor Day, her goal is to simply cover each street in its entirety minimally once. Yes, she will have to drive to some locations and then get out and run, but the fun part about it is that she will be doing it all within the city limits.

A bonus to all of this is that she might actually begin to understand what a Garmin is and what it can actually do. She was genuinely surprised when she learned that you can actually view on a map where you ran with your Garmin. And that my friends is what the true spirit of running is all about.



- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Ultra - the 100 project

Ran across this video done by a couple of grad students about this year's Philly 100. Enjoy!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Book Review: Wild by Cheryl Strayed

What is it about nature that makes us forget about the concrete jungle that we have left the moment we step foot on softer ground?  Why does nature eventually strip us to the core and expose us nakedly to the elements and ourselves? Cheryl Strayed explores these very questions in her most recent book, Wild: From Lost to Found On the Pacific Coast Trail. 

While most of us might take months or  even years to build up to an event or adventure like hiking the Pacific Coast Trail (PCT), Cheryl decides to begin hiking it with out even so much as any overnight backpacking experience. Her "all in" approach at the beginning of the endeavor could best be described as a metaphor for her life up that point. Weighed down by "Monster", Cheryl traverses the PCT from the Mojave Desert to Washington State, where at first she is beaten down by the elements, trail, and by her own inexperience.

In any adventure or in life for that matter, it is what you do when you are stripped to the core that will determine your success, and for Cheryl it is her brutal honesty in this memoir that you find she is not pulling any punches. She leaves no stone unturned as she vividly describes her experiences leading up to the hike on the PCT as well as on the trail itself. It is this bearing of all things, leaving oneself naked for exploration that ultimately allows her to be strengthened in a way that only an adventure like this can do.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Reflections from the Blue Ridge Marathon

Believe the hype. The Blue Ridge Marathon bills itself as  "America's Toughest Road Marathon." With 7,234 feet of elevation change over the full marathon it is definitely not flat and I can say unequivocally that it is the hardest marathon I have run to date. 

My goal heading down there was to complete the Double Marathon, a distance of 52.4 miles. I managed to complete just over 39. While I had worked diligently at getting on the treadmill and doing hill specific workouts along with utilizing the 100 pushups and 200 situp apps to improve my overall core and strength, I neglected recovery and stretching. This neglect manifested itself in a case of plantar fasciitis in my right heel that while I tried to rest going into the race, was compounded running down the descents on the first marathon. Near the end of the first marathon, my heel felt like I was landing on nails and heading up the first climb of the second marathon, I made the decision to walk the 1/2 marathon. While I recorded my slowest 1/2 marathon on record at 3 hr 19 min, I thoroughly enjoyed myself. My fun button did get pushed and I made at the time what I thought was the best decision for me not to do further damage to my heel.

What I can say is that the city of Roanoke has a first class event in the Blue Ridge Marathon. The city and people are really getting behind this event and it showed with the enthusiasm  throughout the weekend. Besides the race, there was also a tent set up for local area bands and a bike criterium on Saturday night.Don't go to the Blue Ridge Marathon looking to set a PR, go run the Blue Ridge for the stunning views, the unique challenge of running up mountains and a great atmosphere.


Saturday, April 14, 2012

Easy, Light, and Smooth

" @Dirtdawg50k why are you still walk-running? You have been running for years now! Man-up!  "

This was a tweet that I received the other day after posting a workout from Daily Mile. I replied to the individual that I want to be moving forward until I have no more breath and that was my chosen pace for the day.

"@Dirtdawg50k not judging, but from seeing your tweets your also interested in times or performances...your selling yourself short!"

True, I stated. There are times that I am interested in running fast or have a goal time in mind, but for this training cycle in prep for the Double Blue Ridge Marathon, I have not been interested in speed or time at all. My focus has merely been on getting in lots of miles and learning to like hills. A funny thing happened along the way in that as much as I disliked the treadmill beforehand, I found comfort in it knowing I could jack up the incline and learned to like going up.

Although, it was sad to hear about the passing of Micah True, aka "Caballo Blanco", who was a central character in the book Born to Run, his message of running Easy, Light, and Smooth has been popping up everywhere as of late. He was a man that lived simply, and ran freely. That is something that as I get older,  I have found great meaning in.

Having been a runner for the better part of 20+ years, I think I have gotten to know myself pretty well out on the road. On more than one occasion, I have been stripped down to the core and found out what I am truly made of. Some days, I have risen to the challenge, and others, when my heart and mind wasn't in it, I have walked away. No regrets, and no looking back at the "Glory Days".  There is only the road ahead.

That road ahead I am quite sure will never always be easy, light and smooth. There will be detours, stoppages, and maybe even some construction, but how will you approach it? For me, it will be at whatever pace I determine. Whether, it's fast or slow, I still will be moving forward.

Friday, April 06, 2012

Barkley Marathon: Interview

Fresh off their film making experience at the Barkley Marathons, I had a chance to chat with Tim and Annika about their journey. Help support their film making efforts here: The Barkley Marathon: The Trail That Eats Its Young.

Link to the article that inspired them to film this: The Immortal Horizon

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Barkley Marathon 2012: A Record Year

In the previous 25 years at the Barkley Marathon, arguably one of the toughest 100 mile ultras,  there had been only 10 finishers. The course record prior to this year stood at just over 55 hours and 35 min by "Flyin" Brian Robinson.

That was of course until this year, and not only was the course record smashed by over three and half hours, but there were 3 finishers as well. Brett Maune, became Barkley's first two time finisher and established a new time of 52 hours and 3 min. Jared Campbell and John Fegyveresi also managed to complete the 5 loop course in under the 60 hour time limit.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Book Review: The Art of Fielding


What happens when you lose the passion for the game you love so much? 

In the book, The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach,  this very topic is explored amidst the backdrop of a small liberal arts college and a unique batch of characters.  Henry Skrimshander has the potential to be a major league player but one play threatens to undo it all.  While Harbach has decided to use baseball as the sport to drive the story, I think any other sport could work.

Through sport, whether as a participant or spectator, our deepest secrets, anxieties and fears are put on display. In the end truths are revealed and new bonds are formed. An enjoyable book just in time for the baseball season.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The Barkley Marathons - The Trail That Eats Its Young

The Barkley Marathons is considered one of the hardest 100 milers in ultrarunning. In it's 25 year history, only 10 runners have completed the 5 loop course that has approximately 59,000 feet of climbing and a cut off time of 60 hours.

Held in Frozen Head State Park near Wartburg, Tennessee at the end of March or early April there is no set race time to start. That is decided by Lazarus Lake at his leisure notifying runners that they have 1 hour to the start with a blow of a conch shell, and once runners begin, they must seek out various checkpoint and tear out the page from a book that corresponds to their bib number.  Of course, after the completion of each lap the runner is given a new bib number.

I recently came across a project that is being funded via Kickstarter by a couple of people looking to make a documentary about the history and race that is The Barkley Marathons - The Trail That Eats Its Young.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Chia Surge Gel


Recently, on a 50k training run I tried out a new gel out on the market call Chia Surge Gel made by Vitalyte. Best to try new things out on training runs and not on race day and I have to say that I was impressed. After getting past the consistency of a tapioca pudding or chunky peanut butter, the pineapple orange taste was quite good. Inspired in part by the book, Born to Run, I think Vitalyte is onto something.

Here is a recent interview that I did with Milena Glusac about Chia Surge Gel. 


Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Squishy Earth


The weather was warm today here in the "D", and I couldn't help but slip on my NB 101's and trot a few miles on the grassy surfaces before slipping them off and running for a few minutes barefoot. It was great to feel the squishy earth still damp from the rains of a day ago and I could feel the neurons firing on my feet as they ran unshod. They were awakening from a winter of being closed in Brooks Ghost 3/4's and Launches.

I am not a barefoot or minimalist runner by nature. A few years ago, one of the first people I met via social media was my buddy Nate, and he was a barefoot runner. Out on the trails, he would run in these weird toe looking shoes (Vibrams) that had yet to explode on the market and I remember trying a pair on in Colorado but just couldn't pull the trigger. Slowly but surely though, I would end a few of my runs sans shoes and could feel my body react to the ground in new ways. Of course there were tight calves and creaky parts as I my body sought to readjust, but it was running and a new form of play. By the end of each of the past few summers, I have built up to a few miles barefoot.

Several pairs of minimalist type shoes, Brooks Green Silences, NB 101's,  lay about in my man cave and for some reason when the weather turns colder here in the D, I end up encasing them in shoes and losing all of the barefoot training. This season though with nothing other than the Unofficial Double Blue Ridge Marathon coming up, I am thinking that maybe I might just see how far I can take this barefoot and minimalist running thing.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Movie Review: Unbreakable: The Western States 100


In 2010, the stars aligned  at the "Boston" of ultras that is the Western States 100 miler. It was talked about in running circles that it had the makings of an epic race. You had the two time defending champion Hal Koerner, a man who had not lost any of the ultras he had entered in Geoff Roes, the minimalist in Anton Krupicka, and the European phenom, Kilian Jornet. Simply put, the race lived up to the hype.

The film, Unbreakable: The Western States 100 , follows these men and their significant others in the year leading up to  and during the race itself. Director, JB Benna an accomplished runner in his own right, covers the race with up close action that is simply amazing given the terrain and speed at which the runners were going.  Watching the film with my wife as part of date night, I was giddy. Having the chance to crew this past summer for my friend Kevin at Western States, made it even all the more real as I pointed out sections of the course that I got to see as crew member and then parts of the course that I ran in the dark as a pacer were given light by the lead runners.

What I took away from the movie was this. Elite athletes are no different than you or I. Sure, they might run more on a daily basis or cover race distances faster, but that doesn't mean that they are immune to injury, stress, and the physical and psychological barriers that we all as runners face. This movie showcases all of that and does it in such a manner that it keeps the embers going that I might just have to run a qualifier and throw my name into the lottery to run Western States one day.

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Running for Wounded Warriors


Jamie Summerlin is about to undertake a 100 day run across the country in an effort to raise funds for The Wounded Warrior Project. As a former Marine, Jamie ran his first marathon in 2009, and the idea to run across the country came to him during the summer of 2010. The purpose behind this run is to "to bring awareness and honor those warriors who had sacrificed life and limb to protect our freedoms".

The Run for Wounded Warrior's has a goal of raising $500,000.00 and you can help by making a 100% tax-deductible donation!* You can help by going here: Running for Wounded Warriors.

I had a chance to chat with Jamie recently for an upcoming episode of the podcast and was impressed with not only his dedication but the fact that his wife and kids were going to be his crew as he ran across the country. Please check out his site and follow him along as he begins his run for Wounded Warriors on March 26th.

Sunday, March 04, 2012

Book Review: The Cruelest Miles


In 1925, a severe diphtheria outbreak threatened to wipe out the town of Nome, Alaska. With aviation in the Arctic still in its infancy stage, the only way to "safely" get the serum to Nome was to entrust sled dog teams to traverse the 1,000 miles through the wilderness. These sled dog teams endured conditions that most of us would find dangerous, but for them it was simply a way of life. As the title implores, they were The Cruelest Miles.

While at the heart of the book is the story of the diphtheria outbreak and the sled dog teams, it also details Alaskan history. It is a history steeped in the love of the wild, endurance, and a willingness to adapt to the land.
The Iditarod which is currently taking place, was started in 1973 to immortalize and preserve the history and accomplishments of the sled dogs and teams of the 1925 run to save the town of Nome.

What I took away from the book was an appreciation of the connection that man has with dogs and the ability to push aside financial compensation for the greater good. There is also truth in that sometimes the best technology is what you have right in front of you.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Book Review: Hell on Two Wheels



Hell on Two Wheels by Amy Snyder is up close and personal view of one of if not the most demanding events in the world known as the Race Across America, or RAAM for short.

The premise of the race is simple. Ride across the country as fast as you can. First one to finish wins. In order to do this, solo racers push their bodies to their physical and mental limits and beyond to achieve this goal.

While the coverage of the race as to who wins, who quits, and who is forced to abandoned because of injury is thorough, I was really intrigued by the mental side of the race. What does it take to will your body and mind, day after day, pedal stroke after pedal stroke, down the road? How far are you willing to go to achieve your dream? What will you do when you are reduced to the core and your primal instincts are all that is left?


Thursday, February 23, 2012

Interview: View Sport

Sweat activated technology. The idea behind the company Viewsport, is that the harder you perspire, a design activated by the sweat will appear. Their idea is to showcase your hard work by the logo that appears. It is an interesting concept and below is an interview that I did with Ben and Chris over at Viewsport.


Special: 15% off thru 2/24/2012 with promo code: "dirtdawg"



Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Book Review: Good to Great


"Few people attain great lives because in large part it is just so easy to settle for a good life.
Jim Collins

Any book that starts out with the author finishing the manuscript and then heading off to the mountains for a run, is guaranteed in my book for at least a couple of chapters. While Good to Great is widely regarded as a book strictly dealing in the art of business and management, I found it to be equally as applicable to one's own journey in life.

Collins makes the point several times throughout that you do no simply go from good to great in an instant. Becoming a better business, leader, father, educator, or athlete is the result of a cumulative process. Step by step, action by action, and decision by decision. That is how you build the foundation and the path for greatness.

However, those steps alone do not ensure success. Are you passionate about what you are doing? Have you surrounded yourself with the best people? Are you putting into practice, disciplined people, discipline thought, and disciplined action? Without those things while you might achieve some measure of success, you will never have a sustained level of success or be in the position to be great.

As an educator, I thoroughly enjoyed the book because I firmly believe that the education world can learn so much from the world of business if they are willing to look at the big picture. This ideology while learned during my masters work, has taken some time for me to digest and begin to put into practical applications daily as an administrator. Personally, the ideas found in the book to be relevant as I train to run the Double Blue Ridge Marathon. Step by step, action by action.

In the end, the message I took away was simple yet powerful: Focus on doing the right things and doing them well.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Skora Running Interview

Skora Running is a new player in the running shoe market. From the website, at SKORA, we view Real Running as running how nature intended. As the foot strikes the ground, contact is made at the mid/forefoot, not at the heel. Compare this to running in conventional running shoes, built with large amounts of cushioning, support, and significant heel-toe drop, resulting in heavy heel-striking. A more natural running style promotes a more efficient gait which helps reduce impact-related injuries. Run Real™.

Click below for an interview that I did with CEO, David Sypniewski on the latest episode of the podcast: 

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Coming Attraction: Desert Runner Movie

 The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.
Lao Tzu

Running a marathon or farther takes a commitment. Attempting to complete just 1 of the  Racing The Planet’s 4Desert Ultramarathon Series is step up, and attempting to complete all 4 of the Desert Ultramarathon Series in one year is almost unfathomable.

A new film though called Desert Runners Movie, follows 4 people who have chosen to take that journey of a thousand miles with that first step in an attempt to cross 4 of the most treacherous deserts in the world.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Each Day

          
Mahatma Ghandi


"So what did you learn at school today?" That question is guaranteed to come up at the dinner table each night when my family gathers. It is directed at my second grader and pre-kindergartner, as both my wife and I are interested in not only what they are doing each day but serving as a point of reflection for them. I want them to get into the habit of looking back at experiences and being able to learn from each journey. But how often as adults do we look at what we have learned each day?

Reflecting on my recent experience of being judged by a check box, I thought that it would be of value if I started to on a daily basis whether at dinner, or as I wind down for the evening to go through my day and see what of value that I might have learned. While we might not see it at the time, there are always opportunities for growth.

If I am are instilling the belief in my children the spirit of inquiry and a love of learning I should be on the same page with them and following along.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Judged

Declined by a check box. Such was my recent experience with a central office administrator for a leadership position in a local school district.

I had received a call from this person a few days before,  inquiring if I was interested in the position and would I be available to talk. In his words, it was just a chat to see if I would even make it to the interview. Expressing my interest, he asked if I had time as we spoke to drive over and chat, but I had to schedule something for a few days later given that I already had commitments that day.

Going into the chat, I already knew my weaknesses . One, was that my professional experience had strictly been in a county based program. This program serviced the most difficult students in the county and was based in an elementary building. Therefore the number of students and staff that I worked with directly were significantly smaller than that of a community high school.  Two, Although my master's degree was in Administration with a  Leadership concentration, it was not in Education: Leadership and did not qualify me for the certification through the state. To this day, I do not regret learning alongside people that worked in the business world as it has given me a much broader view of the world.

However, I knew state rules  stated that if you were to obtain a leadership position and did not have the requisite credentials that you had to enroll in a program within 6 months.  My next goal after finishing another credential I was working on, was to enroll in such a program. For me, I see far more relevancy in going to school and learning at the same time for a position in which you are currently working.  Secondly, my administrative experience for the last several years has given me the opportunity to work with staff and students on a much smaller scale and achieve success. Those lessons I felt would be invaluable in being able to take that skill set into a larger setting.

Unfortunately, this central office administrator did not see it that way. As soon as he reviewed that I did not have the certification, I was judged. He couldn't check off a box and say that I had said credential and feel comfortable with that. For me, that's like saying that if you don't enter a race, then you are not a runner. It's not true. It didn't matter that the school in question had been failing for several years. In his eyes, because I didn't have that box checked he didn't think that I could do it. He also felt that going to school and doing the position would be too overwhelming. He relayed his experience with his children and going to school. That's him, not me. I will never regret spending all the time I have with my children as they have grown up. My challenge to him that I know several leaders with their credentials that are ineffective fell on deaf ears. His staunch belief that I could not hit the ground running was infuriating although I did appreciate his candor. He wanted a sure thing.

I politely told him we can agree to disagree and spoke of character and intangibles. Those are things that I told him you can't put a value on. A sure thing isn't always a sure thing when you place them into a situation. I knew that given a chance and with doubt in someone's mind about my ability, that it would be as if there was a target on my back. A bulls eye if you would and would only feed my desire to prove what said couldn't be done to be done.  In the end, I stated I expected not to hear back from him and left.

While I met with defeat in some respects, I reflected on a chat with an entrepreneur recently and his willingness, resolve, and passion to stay the course with his vision. My passion in working with students, families, and staff to collaboratively work together certainly did not align with that man's observation. I understood his position, but he could not look past the check box. However, no significant change has ever been achieved without taking a risk.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Running with Elk



Before David Horton, Matt Carpenter, Anton Krupicka and Killian Jornet, there was Rick Trujillo. A man who seeks the highest and hilliest routes and fuels with Oreo's and Mountain Dew. He is a throwback in the age of technology. This short book encapsulates the trials and tribulations of a man who has "run with elks".

At only $2.99 (think 3 gels worth or one specialty coffee), it is available on Itunes and other ebook formats. Well  worth getting one man's perspective about what it's like to run in the mountains.

Sunday, February 05, 2012

Shoreline Fat Ass Marathon


The first annual Fat Ass Shoreline Marathon was literally born over a couple of direct messages on Twitter. My buddy Kevin sent me a DM a few weeks back and the exchange went something like this.

Kevin: Sure thing. BTW, thinking about my Shoreline Marathon in February...what's better: Friday 2/3 @ 8 pm or Super Bowl Sunday (2/5) at 7- 8am?

Me: I'd be down for 7 am on 2/5 since I am not running the Super Bowl 5k ( Besides that, I didnt want to miss a new episode of Spartacus, that aired at 10 pm on Friday)

Kevin: Ok..I'll throw it out there and see what happens. My guess...you, me, and Ryan

And just like that a Fat Ass Marathon was born.

With a few tweets and some Facebook action the number grew to 7. Where else can you find a race where the living room of someone's house is where the pre race meeting occurs with a box of donuts and some gels for another race to fill your bag if needed, and the starting line is in the driveway?

Near perfect temps (27 degrees at the start) welcomed us as we ambled along the pancake flat, sidewalk and bicycle path route. I decided that I merely needed this to be a training run and quickly fell in step with Kevin. We decided that we would run the first 1.75 miles of each 2 mile segment and then walk the rest.

A gorgeous sunrise over Lake St. Clair was our guide and we made our way to Metro Beach and the turnaround overlooked the lake and a small cairn. Being a Fat Ass event where there were no aid stations, I did have $10 in my pocket, but used a bathroom sink in the Metropark to refill my bottles. I felt really good the entire route and even though the sun came out and the temps rose to 37 degrees at the finish, I had enough tops with zips to regulate my core.

7 starters, 7 finishers with an unofficial winning time of 3 hr 26 min. I finished up in 4:09 with an average pace of 9:31. Up before the sun and home before noon. Not a bad way to start off the day.

Saturday, February 04, 2012

Book Review: To Kill a Mockingbird



After completing  Following Atticus, in which the the dog is named Atticus M. Finch,  I was inspired to go back and read a book that as an adolescent I read with much fervor, but with my limited view of the world I don't think that I appreciated as much as I did this time around. 

To Kill a Mockingbird deals with issues of racial inequity and morality, all from the view of a 10 year old girl. However, those issues are still present today just in a different form. It's one of the reasons that this classic piece of literature is still as relevant today as it was when first published in 1960.

Thank you Tom and Atticus M. Finch for getting me to pick up this classic again.

Friday, February 03, 2012

America's Toughest Road Marathon?

At the beginning of the year I said that I was just going to run without regards to a time goal so it would seem only fitting that I were to choose an event, that it would take that right out of the equation. Enter the Blue Ridge Marathon.

Dubbed the "Toughest Road Marathon in the America", the Blue Ridge boasts a total elevation gain and Loss of 7,234 ft. Certainly won't be worrying about hitting the track for this one. Instead, I am going to have to turn my attention to the treadmill and starting getting intimate with it. Crank the incline and hold on to the rails.

As if the marathon wasn't enough, a couple of my knuckleheaded friends, Kevin, Ryan, and  JP decided last year to do an Unofficial Double Marathon in conjunction with the event. They completed one loop of the course before the official race started and then ran the real event with everyone else. Like them, I am not smart and will be heading down with them to do the "Double" this year.  52.4 miles of fun with 14, 468 of loss and gain.

I had a chance to chat with the race director, Ronny Angell, president of Odyssey Adventure Racing, for an upcoming episode of the podcast and he reassured my assumptions that this is going to be a challenge. As he put it, mile 17 - 18 is a "smack in the mouth" referring to the elevation gain in just over a mile.

Time to make friends with the hills.

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Race Entry = Runner?

"The difference between a jogger and a runner is an entry blank."
                                                                                         
    Dr. George Sheehan

For all the wisdom that sprang from his miles on the road, this is just something that I can't see eye to eye on with Dr. Sheehan. I will respectively agree to disagree on this matter. 

To say that you move from a jogger to a runner just because you sign up for a race just doesn't fit. This all came into focus recently as I was interviewing a fellow runner for the podcast, and we talked about his training and attitudes/beliefs about racing. His times in training were quite fast and I have no doubt that if he signed up for a race that he would be in the position to not only win an Age Group award but possibly win a race as well. However, he refuses to race.

His main reason for not signing up is he knows what a slippery slope he would be on. Toeing the line and racing he explained would lead to an obsessive nature to try and better oneself and race as frequently as possible. That cycle would only lead to injury and time away from getting out there.

So how do you define a runner from a jogger? One explanation out there is that if you are moving slower than 5 mph or at a 12 min/mile pace than you are jogging. Well, my wife has run 2 marathons slower than that pace but if you go by Dr. George Sheehan's definition then she is a runner.

In my opinion, no matter the speed, if you are out there moving forward on a frequent basis then you are a runner. You don't need a race entry form to tell you that you have made it as a "runner".