Friday, August 28, 2015


Everybody likes milestone numbers and 20 is my dirt milestone.   I just finished up Phase 1 of the      kitchen and the dishwasher is now working in the pantry!!  It is crowded, but this is the best design that allows us to do phase 2 in the format we want.  The dishwasher is super quiet and really gets stuff clean and sparky.   The 20 comes into the equation when you go below the floor of the house.  I have removed, by my calculations, 20 yards of dirt from the crawl space so I could get access for wiring, drains, and supply water.  Phase 2 will take more removal, but I am seriously thinking of buying a conveyor to move the dirt.  We will see what happens. 

I have been pretty healthy for the last two years, but I had a slight set back this week.  I was at the corporate office working and the ventilation is the building is uneven.  To say the least, I struggle keeping hydrated and it makes for a long day. One evening the weather was great and I thought I would go the local high school track for some speed and tempo work. 
  I was running at the Auburn Rockets track and had run two 200 meters cycles in 32.9 seconds each.  I was trying to up the speed just a but in the third one and I got a cramp in my lower right calf.  I felt the twinge at the 180 mark, and just cruised in to the finish.  I knew this would be trouble, so I gathered up my stuff and headed to the car.

 The infield was filled with high school girls practicing field hockey, which appears to be very popular in Massachusetts.  There were three fields training at the same time at the school.  The track was all weather in good shape and the field was the new sports turf, which makes for a great looking field.
I headed back to my hotel room, grabbed some food on the way,so I could ice and elevate the leg.  I iced hard for several hours and slept with compression on the leg.  I was not wearing calf compression when I got the cramp.  In the past couple of months I have worn compression socks for every work out, I am not sure if that was a cause or not.  

I limped for about a day and can walk fine, still having some discomfort from the area of the cramp.  Selling is minimal, but it is detectable.  I have been hot and cold treatments and will rest a couple more days and try it out next week.  My massage therapist gets to work on it tomorrow, and I hope he can get things back on the track.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Back to the track

I am always in search of some new gear and I picked up a pair of Nike Zoom Victory 2 spikes.  They scaled in at 4.8 ounces each and are several ounces lighter than my current spikes.  I tried them out tonite and they are wicked fast.  Since my best races start on the curve, I did some curve starts tonight with my blocks. They are really light and they will be great for race day, but they will not be good for training due to the incredibly light fabrics used. There is almost no protection anywhere in the shoe.  They are all about speed and I will have to careful not to use them much in training.
I ran on grass two nights ago.   During my warm up and stretching I almost quit.  Some feeling of aimlessness came over me and I almost packed up and went home.  Man, that would have been stupid, but the thought went through my head.  Where does that stuff come from ?  I had a pretty good work out, running with my parachute on some short sprints.
 Tonight was 200 meters from blocks  at 90%,  100 meter curve starts from blocks,
 stadium steps and some tempo work.     I also did some recruiting for the Senior Games.  A man who turns out to be 50 was doing some laps on the football field and he asked me if I was involved in USATF?  We got into a discussion about my current racing and I encouraged him to check out the local Senior Games and give track a try again. Hopefully he can make an event and get hooked like the rest of us old speedsters.

William Yelverton who lives near Chatanooga, won a Bronze in the World Championship this week in the 200 meters in Lyon, France.  He is 55 years old and also has the quick time in the quarterfinal heat of the 400.  Hopefully,  William can bring some Gold to Tennessee!!   Currently there is some really fast old timers in Tennessee .  Go get em William!

Friday, August 7, 2015

The Sound of Your Footsteps on the Trail

The view from the top of the trail head for the Grandview Trail in the Grand Canyon National Park. This view is to the Northwest.

Looking at the starting point with the Moon getting a view of the day in the canyon.

Trail on the left side-- some scary stuff here.

The scenery is just spectacular, you have to stop and just take it in.
Near my turn turnaround point there is an old mining works, with a modern sign to warn of radiation hazard. A lot of green rocks scattered about.

These are the notes that I took for the hike with my Apple I phone 6.  Some additional info has been added post hike.  But it gives good idea of the exertion required and the amount of fuel your body will burn. I was on the trial for 5 hours and there was 12 people including me on the trail of 6 miles round trip.
I was in Flagstaff , AZ this week to visit a tissue mill.  I made my trip long enough to get in a little Canyon hiking, I was too close not to give it a go solo.  I stopped in Phoenix to borrow a walking stick from Linda's Uncle Dan Sinclair and talk about some options for a hike.  I had one day, too short to go the river and return.  In the summer,  a roundtrip in one day is basically as about as crazy as thing that you can attempt in the Canyon.  Too hot at the bottom to get it finished.   He suggested a hike on the Grandview Trail in the Canyon just East of the main tourist center on the South Rim.   Dan had done this trip several years back and had enjoyed the challenge.  It is a true day hike, no access to the river and also no water.  You go as far as you dare and return the same day.  Pretty simple event while you are sitting in the AC at the kitchen table.
Since, I was alone for the adventure, I made sure I had the safety bases  covered and could survive a night if something really bad happened.  I took some extra clothes, first aid, a  really bright light, enough water to last several more hours, my road ID,  and extra battery  for my IPhone 6.  I sat down the night before the hike and calculated the water needed.  I allowed 1 liter per hour, just like the Canyon rangers suggest, for a total of 5 liter which gave me 2.5 hours and I would turn around..  5 hours total was my timeline-- I was not going to tempt fate while on a solo.    I also took enough dried fruit, one banana, and two energy bars and electrolytes for the trip.  Food is something that you force your body to do, it is really  not hungry, you put in fuel to burn.  And going up took twice the fuel as down.  I wore my hear rate monitor, that is why you see the calorie burn listed in the diary.  The heart rate monitor is critical coming back up so you can figure out when to rest and eat.  I tried to eat something every 500 calories and I drank water by the clock.  One liter per hour was my target rate. Another little assistant was a new app for my phone.  It is an app that gives your real time elevation.  It was critical to find my location, I could tell by the elevation of where I was on the trial.  I really love this new app for hiking, it will become a critical part of my gear and planning very quickly.   They also suggest getting a good night's sleep before leaving and I think I slept 90 minutes.  I wish I could make myself sleep with big events coming up, but I can not, so I disobeyed on that count.
I got up early in Flagstaff and hauled ass to the Canyon going in the East entrance and arrived shortly after sunrise at the trailhead.  Perfect timing to beat the heat.  The park is basically empty at that time and it is just you, a few hardy souls and The Spirit of the Canyon.  More on The Spirit later. I got all my gear on, put sunscreen on anything exposed and that was only my hands and face. .  The clothing is  basically my running gear with a goofy hat to keep the sun off my head and a pack with the water and other basics.  I had never laid eyes on this trail and the maps for the Grandview in my opinion sucked, so I headed for the edge looking for a sign.  No sign posted,  just a trail that looks lightly used and I am off.  Cool bright morning in August to start an adventure.  Another couple was saddling up as I left and I met them near the bottom, see the notes about them. 
As I started down, the trail was steep and hard immediately.  But what a view, it is the Canyon and I was looking across at the North rim the entire day.  The trail has had a lot of development with sandstone set as a steep walkway and some stairs made from wood in other areas.  The first section is just steep and my legs were getting a little wobbly from the steps down.  When I could get a little flat section they felt a lot better.
I was alone in the Canyon. I stopped several times to listen--nothing.  No cars, machines, planes, wind in the trees--absolute silence. No phone service either.   You can see for miles and no one was there but you and The Spirit of the Canyon. The only thing that makes a sound is your own foot steps.  I have been in the Canyon two other times and each time you climb out over the edge and return to the normal world, I get this incredibly Spiritual feeling.  It is just you and The Spirit in the Canyon.  You are in the Spirits' space, their turf, and hopefully you can come away with a great experience as you are allowed to be part of Spirits' world.  The last two trips I was with other family members and the Spiritual feeling was the same.  When you enter the Canyon, you enter a real wonder that The Spirit created to make sure you know how insignificant you really are in comparison.  The Spirit has scoreboard and if you think you are going to change that fact, the pain will be real, The Spirit is the all time champ.
The Canyon is a real challenge in the true sense.  In many ways,  it is my space exploration type event.  It is thrill when all goes well, but there are consequences from failure and the lack of proper prep.   It is normally a team sort of event and is much safer when performed in a group.  But this event was  a solo  challenge in my life.  Sometimes life will challenge you-- divorce, sickness, crazy relatives, idiots at work.  This time I thought I would challenge life.  Challenging life can be dangerous or crazy.  Failure is painful and effects a lot of other people.  But success is a true life event that will stay with you forever.   I will never forget my challenge in the Canyon for 5 small hours.  I got a chance to experience my limits and I think I am better off as a result. 



Wednesday, August 5, 2015

7000 Feet

 I added an APP to my phone that would give the elevation of my current location.   It also gives the pressure and boiling points as well.   As you can see, things are a little different at this elevation

I am in Flagstaff, Arizona this week working.   This is my first overnight here and I thought I would do a little training at the Northern Arizona University Lumberjacks stadium. The weather was in the 80's with no clouds in the sky and a light breeze.  I got the stadium around 5 PM and there was a steady stream of people that were coming to the stadium as well.  I asked a couple of people about the crowd, which ended up around 100 people, and  the local running shoe store did a weekly training session to help distance sunning get some speed.  Pretty cool deal.   There was all ages and abilities and they worked out for about an hour as well.  The area has a lot of runners, which speaks well of the level of wealth locally.

I had not been on a track for over a week and I wanted to do some 300 and 400's cycles.  I did a 400 first and the lack of humidity, none in reality, really dried out my mouth as I ran and I thought I was going to absolutely choke to death after the lap.   The dryness is really a big deal for me, and there was enough wind to make me suffer down the finish stretch.   I was also interested in how well I recovered after each cycle.   My fitness recovery was pretty good.  My breathing was labored and did take a little longer to get ready for the next cycle.  My heart rate recovered nicely.  I did a normal workout of 70 minutes and headed out when my right hammie was getting that early twing from the onset of dehydration. Plus the track was crowded enough that clean running line was impossible.   I drank about one liter of water during the training session and had some electrolytes before I ran. 

After the 400, I did just 200 and 300 cycles.  I still got really dry mouth at the end of each and had to drink water right after each cycle, but I could get my heart rate up to 95% of maximum for each cycle.  It is a sad day when I can't even get in a lap without a wet down.  I guess I would need a Camel back to do cycles at this altitude.   Today I feel fine and have no lingering issues.  I can see why Olympians and serious runners train at altitude,  you can do some real work.   When I did my running, even into the wind, the air density is low enough that the resistance from the air is noticeably less.  I can see how sprinters could lay down  great times at altitude.  I noticed the difference, but you pay in the lack of air.   One of the older runners at the track had a shirt that read-- Gaspin'-- and I was that guy.   

Today is rest and I will get in some walking tomorrow.  Stay tuned for some fantastic pictures. 

Friday, July 31, 2015

Smelling the Roses

I traveled to North Carolina this week and usually travel via Interstate 40.   Coming back I took a short cut thru the Great Smokey Mountains National Park.  It is shorter as the crow flies, but time wise it is a couple hours more.  I decided that sometimes you need to smell the roses or they will die and you will miss them.   The roses up on top of the Smokies smell and look pretty good.  What a view!  Next week I will be out West and may get a chance to visit the Grand Canyon.  Even though it is the prime tourist season, I may try to hike a bit.  The elevation is around 7000 feet, and I will have ,to wait and see how I adjust to the thin air.  If I adjust well, I will do some hiking, otherwise just smell the roses with some site seeing.

I finally got out on the track today and ran some sprints.  I worked on running 400 and 300 meters with the same time for the first section as the last.  I also experimented with a new parachute to get tired for the first section and then drop it off for the section and maintain the speed.  I liked the parachute option and will continue to work with that combination.  My left leg did hurt some, but for whatever reason, my work out was not hampered, it just hurt.

A shout out the local speedsters.  William Yelverton ran a 55.29 second 400 m at the USATF Masters meet in Jacksonville  last week. He was the US champ in the 55 to 59 class and will go to Lyon, France to run the World Championships!   William lives just North of Chattanooga, TN.  Go get'em.
David Schmanski of Nashville won the 800 m at the same meet in the 60 to 64 class. He also was involved with a gold medal  4 x 400 relay and world record 4 x 800 relay!!   Pretty good results for the local talent.

Tennessee is quickly becoming the a real hotbed for seniors running talent.  Hopefully we can continue the exceptional level of excellence.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Mt Hood

I traveled this week and spent several days crisscrossing the Western portions of Oregon and Washington.  It was very clear and Mt Hood looked fantastic.  I also got a chance to check out Mt Hood from the air.  It looks good either way.  We were in the Columbia River Gorge  as well, and the scenery was really something.   That is definitely big country out there.

The weather was really warm and dry in Albany, Oregon and I did try to run outside and it was so dry I really struggled with my breathing, so I just ran inside on the treadmill.  I am working on my endurance and weight loss, so I am doing 800 meter and 1600 meter runs.   I have finalized my racing schedule for the rest of the season.  I will run in Kentucky and do the 100 400 double.  They are electronic timed and I really want to get a good 400 time and break 62 seconds if possible.  Kentucky is a Sunday meet and that  helps logistics as well.   My last meet will be the Greater Nashville District Qualifier in October.  The current plan is to try for a great time in the 200 and get in the show for the rest of the events.

Pretty simple plan and I have enough time to get some good training done.  As it starts to cool off a little, I will start  harder outdoor training and get the 400 time coming down as we approach meet day.

By the way, after three weekends on the roads, we are are NOT going anywhere this weekend.  We need the rest.  Wedding, track meet, class reunion...  The weeds in the garden are calling really loud..

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Dark Side

The dark side exists.    This is a post that I have been thinking about for around a week and I need to get it out in the open.   Those who have known me long realize that I can get depressed in the winter due to the lower levels of light.  I have been dealing with it for a long time and I think the situation is under control.  I understand I have a problem and Linda is very helpful in reminding me that I am slipping and I need to fix it. 

A couple of days before the meet last weekend, my left side lower jaw was hurting.  I could eat, but the pain was significant enough to think about getting some help.   It was too late to get it looked at before the meet, so I had to just deal with the situation.  I have had some injuries on the left side of my head decades ago, but side effects of  those things will pop up after time.  I chewed long leaf tobacco for thirty some year and was a 'left sider'.  Two things that I did in the past that can have a  significant effect my body now.   I also like nacho chips and they can get lodged in the gum.   So we have 3 choices.....

The dark side says jaw cancer.   I thought about that a bit, but I am going to force the dark side to take me, I am not going willingly to the dark.  Thinking the worst is the worst thing I could do.     I flossed aggressively a couple of times to get any  chips worked out, used my mouth guard to sleep--was I grinding my teeth???    Gradually the pain subsided and currently I do not have any worries about my jaw.  

The dark side will take you down if you cooperate.  I am going to continue to fight and come out the other side into the light.  The mind is very powerful and it can overcome a lot of bad.  If I would have let the dark side take me last week, the devil only knows what how much fun he could have had with me.   

Tell the dark side to take a hike, and then continue with the good life that the light has provided.