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


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, 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".