Tuesday, December 26

Catch As Catch Can

Despite the busy holiday schedule this past week, the balmy weather made it nigh unto impossible to not squeeze in a few good runs. Thankfully, I am not training for anything right now so I am able to simply enjoy my runs--no worries about distance or time or training logs. For the next couple of weeks I will just catch as catch can.

I have not quite decided what I will attempt to do next. I am signed up for the Country Music Marathon in April and I am almost certain I will want to run the RC-Moon Pie 10-Miler in June. I have my eye set on a major triathlon in July--but, I haven't decided if I can really pull off all the training that would be necessary to do that. Meanwhile, I have already started lining up sponsors and course ideas for next fall's Uttermost.

For now though, I am just going to take it easy and enjoy my runs.

Monday, December 18

I've Got It Bad

Finally, I got in a long run today. The weather was perfect. I got home a little early. So, I quickly threw on some running shoes and took off. After it got dark, I just kept right on going. Ten miles. Man, it felt great.

It was my first really good long run since the marathon. My ankle, which has really been bothering me, held up fine. I really have missed the time to think and pray. I really have missed the major stress relief. I really have missed the road. And it has only been two weeks. I think I've got the run bug. I think I've got it bad!

Thursday, December 7

Post-Marathon Recovery

The almost universal wisdom is that following a marathon, runners should take time off. The formula varies, but regardless of who you read or listen to, there is good consensus that training should not resume for a least a couple of weeks--and even then, at a much reduced pace and intensity.

That is all well and good in theory. But, all this sitting around is driving me crazy! So far, I have been good. But, I am ready to get back out on the roads--even with all this cold weather.

Today, I travel to Dallas to speak and consult with a fine school I've walked with for several years. While I am there, the wonderful White Rock Lake Marathon will be staged. I am going to refrain from running. But, I do intend to stop by the expo to re-light the fires of inspiration and motivation--not that I need a whole, whole lot of either right now.

Sunday, December 3

It's Official

One of the goals I set for myself at the beginning of 2006 was to somehow, someway break 4 hours in a marathon. I did not do it at the Country Music Marathon in May. I did not do it at the Endurance 50 Marathon in September. I did even do it with combined times during the three days of the Uttermost in October. My last chance for the year seemed to have slipped away from me yesterday, especially after I passed the halfway mark in the St. Jude Memphis Marathon well off pace. Besides that, I had actually started to really hurt somewhere after mile 10.

By the 3 hour mark, despite having made up most of my lost time, I was absolutely miserable; everything hurt right down to my hair follicles; I just knew that I could not finish strong. But, lo and behold, I crossed the finish line close to what I thought might be a PR (a personal record). But, because the gun time and the electronic chip time can be separated by as much as four minutes (when you have thousands of runners in a race, they all don't cross the start line at the same time, obviously) I could not be certain of my time until the official race results were released this morning.

Well, the results are in. My time was 3:59.55. I broke 4 hours. Just barely. I slipped under the wire--with 5 whole seconds to spare. Let me tell you, 5 seconds after 4 hours of agony (well admittedly, the first hour or two weren't actually agonizing) and 26.2 miles seems miniscule. But this morning, I am awfully grateful for those 5 seconds!

I am also very thankful for the sponsors who supported the work of St. Jude through this run--as well as for all the amazing people I was able to meet from the St. Jude family. And those remarkable champions for whom I was running and praying--Todd, Josh, Carson, and Mary--I am most particularly grateful for each of you and your impact on my life.

Saturday, December 2

26.2

Well, I did it. I'd forgotten how much a marathon hurts. Man, it is hard. But, I made it. Official times have not yet been released, but I think I am very close to a PR. For now, I am just happy to be home and getting ready for a good home cooked meal.

Thursday, November 30

St. Jude Countdown: 2

I'm in rainy, cold, windy Memphis. Tomorrow, I will pick up my race packet, take a quick trip through the expo, rest, carbo-load, and read. I'll go for a very quick run mid-afternoon just to work out the jitters. And then, early to bed.

I love this marathon and the cause it supports. I have trained for it. I have prayed for it. I am ready for it. I can hardly wait for it!

Monday, November 27

St. Jude Countdown: 5

I am now down to the last few days before the St. Jude Marathon in Memphis. My training has gone well and now I am in my taper. I am also keeping an eye on weather. We've had spectacular temperatures and glorious weather all through the Thanksgiving holidays. But, it looks as if that is about to change rather dramatically. A cold front starts blowing through tomorrow. By Saturday, we should have clear skies again. But, temperatures could be in the twenties for the start of the race. Yikes! So, I am preparing accordingly.

Of course, the whole reason I do this is to raise awareness and finances for the Memphis hospital that has done more than any other single institution to pioneer new treatments for children's cancer. So, won't you help me support the remarkable ministry of St. Jude to children and families battling cancer? I won't even ask you to run with me! Just donate to the cause and come back to visit my st. jude sponsor site often. Tell others about what I'm trying to do. Learn how my effort to help find cures and save lives is going. Oh yes, and do pray for the final stretch of my training!

Saturday, November 25

Taper Time

My good friend and fellow-elder, John Scherrer, and I ran stride for stride in the Habitrot 5K. As you can see, it was a beautiful morning--albeit, just a little chilly. The run was a perfect start for my training taper. Yesterday, I did an easy 5 miles. This morning, I did another 5, slow and relaxed. Tomorrow, I'll take off entirely. Monday, I'll go just a bit longer--maybe around 10 or 12. Then for the rest of the week, I'll stick with 3-milers until Saturday when I attempt the 26.2 in Memphis.

Thursday, November 23

Habitrot 5K

Early on this beautiful Thanksgiving morning here in Franklin, nearly a thousand runners gathered for the annual Habitrot 5K. It was brisk and breezy at the start--with temperatures right at freezing. But, the sun was shining and there was excitement in the air. I always feel that this race has two very unfair aspects: first, we have to run right past the local Krispy Kreme donut shop and second, three-fourths of the course seems to be uphill. Despite these handicaps, it was a great day for a fun run--and good prep for my training taper this week.

Wednesday, November 22

St. Jude Countdown: 10

In just a little over a week, I will run the St. Jude Marathon in Memphis for the third year in a row. So, I am officially beginning my training taper today. I ran my last long, long run yesterday. Conditions were less than ideal--with blustery winds from the NNE, I was buffeted and blown so much that in the end, I had to cut the run a bit short, doing only 19 of the 21 miles I had planned. Nevertheless, I was able to stay on pace. So, I am optimistic. But then, I am always optimistic at this stage of the game.

Despite cutting it short, I am sore today. So, I'll go for a nice easy run to loosen up this afternoon. Then tomorrow morning, I will run in the annual Habitrot 5K--a great fundraiser for Habitat for Humanity and a great first course for our Thanksgiving feast.

One of my goals for this upcoming marathon is to try to break the 4 hour barrier that has bedeviled me ever since the first time I ran 26.2. But, my larger goal is to break the $1K barrier in fundraising for the remarkable work of the St. Jude Children's Hospital. You can help me accomplish the first goal by praying for me. You can help me accomplish the second goal by visiting my st. jude sponsor site and pledging your support.

Monday, November 20

Uttermost Site

A temporary Uttermost photo slide show has been posted on the web until I can get the permanent website updated. Enjoy.

Saturday, November 18

St. Jude Marathon

I am now down to the last two of weeks of training before the St. Jude Marathon in Memphis. My training is going well. I have just one more long run to do (I'll try to get it in on Monday). And then after the Habitrot 5K on Thanksgiving morning, I will begin my taper. Of course, the whole reason I do this is to raise awareness and finances for the Memphis hospital that has done more than any other single institution to pioneer new treatments for children's cancer. So, won't you help me support the remarkable ministry of St. Jude to children and families battling cancer? I won't even ask you to run with me! Just donate to the cause and come back to visit my st. jude sponsor site often. Tell others about what I'm trying to do. Learn how my effort to help find cures and save lives is going. Oh yes, and do pray for the final stretch of my training!

Lance Says Thanks

Check out the following e-mail thread between Lance Armstrong and his publicity rep at Nike (it was posted this past week on Lance's site after he finished the NYC Marathon):

From: Lance Armstrong
To: Scott M. (Nike)
Sent: Nov 5, 2006 2:48 PM
Subject: Idea
What do you say we buy a full-page ad & say thanks to all the NYCers for coming out and supporting? I couldn't have done it without them.

From: Scott M. (Nike)
To: Lance Armstrong
Sent: Nov 5, 2006 3:18 PM
Subject: Re: Idea
Checking on it. What would you want to say?

From: Lance Armstrong
To: Scott M. (Nike)
Sent: Nov 5, 2006 3:22 PM
Subject: Re: Re: Idea
Was thinking that we should thank the city for being so supportive of ALL the runners. For a big city to show that is unreal. It would be the only reason I would come back. They were AMAZING.

From: Scott M. (Nike)
To: Lance Armstrong
Sent: Nov 5, 2006 3:29 PM
Subject: Re: Re: Re: Idea
I think we can do it. I'll let you know for sure. BTW, how do you feel?

From: Lance Armstrong
To: Scott M. (Nike)
Sent: Nov 5, 2006 3:32 PM
Subject: Re: Re: Re: Re: Idea
I'm dead. Hardest physical thing I've ever done. Try your best to make this happen. No way I would have crossed the finish line without the cheering. I owe them.

Wednesday, November 8

He Did It

Dean Karnazes finished his quest to run 50 marathons in 50 states in 50 days. Along the way, he inspired a lot of people. Including me.

Sunday, November 5

Lance

Lance Armstrong, the seven-time Tour de France champion, accomplished his goal of finishing a marathon in New York City today. But, it cost him dearly. "I think I bit off more than I could chew," he said. "I thought the marathon would be easier." Though he finished in an impressive 2:59.36 in the ING New York Marathon, he admitted that the race "the hardest physical thing I have ever done." It was, he said, even more grueling than his worst days on the Alp d'Huez.

The 35-year-old Armstrong averaged less than 7 minute miles throughout the race until mile 21 when he fell off the pace briefly. Of course, it didn't hurt that he was paced for most of the race by former marathon champions Alberto Salazar and Joan Benoit Samuelson.

Memo to self: the next time I want to negative split the 26.2, bring along a couple of ringers.

Oh yeah, it wasn't Armstrong who actually won the race. That honor went to Brazilian Marilson Gomes dos Santos in the men's race and defending champion Jelena Prokopcuka in the women's race--but, judging from the crowd reaction, most of the crowd along the way cared more about the fact that Lance came in nearly an hour later.

Saturday, November 4

ING NYC Marathon

Tomorrow morning, New York City will come alive with one of the greatest spectacals in sports: the ING New York City Marathon. More than 40,000 runners will be winding through all of the city's five boroughs--beginning on Staten Island, across the Verrazano Narrows Bridge, winding through Brooklyn and Queens before crossing over into the Bronx, and finally finishing in Manhattan's magnificent Central Park.

Just One More

Just one more day. Just one more marathon. Dean Karnazes has nearly completed his Endurance 50 quest to run 50 marathons in 50 days in all 50 states. Yesterday, he ran in Philly. Today, he ran in Jersey. Tomorrow, is it. He'll run with 40,000 other marathoners--including celeb first-timer, Lance Armstrong--in the ING New York City Marathon. It will be a grand stage for his grand finale. Afterward, there will be a finish party from 12:00-4:00 PM at the North Face retail store. Located at 2101 Broadway at 73rd, the store is just around the corner from the NYC Marathon finish in Central Park.

Wednesday, November 1

St. Jude Marathon

I am now down to the last couple of weeks of preparation before I run the St. Jude Marathon in Memphis. Once again, I will be running for a very special cause. I will be raising funds for essential cancer research. If you'd like to make a pledge, you can do so online at my st. jude sponsor site. With the diagnosis of my dear friends Todd Burleson and Wes King with cancer during the past two years and the continuing battle against the dread disease by two of my students here in Franklin and three of my correspondence students in New York and Texas, I am more committed to this cause and this work than ever before. My goal is to raise $1000 for St. Jude Children's Hospital this year. Won't you help?

The reason I picked St. Jude as the focus of my fundraising efforts is actually very simple to explain: this nationally renowned children's charity hospital is one of the most remarkable and effective medical research institutions anywhere in the world. St. Jude has treated children from across the United States and from more than 70 foreign countries. And yet ability to pay is never an issue because St. Jude is the only pediatric research center where families never pay for treatment not covered by insurance, and families without insurance are never asked to pay. Not one penny! Not ever! Zip! Zilch! Nada!

The treatment of children and the onging research at St. Jude includes work in bone marrow transplantation, chemotherapy, the biochemistry of normal and cancerous cells, radiation treatment, blood diseases, resistance to therapy, viruses, hereditary diseases, infectious diseases, and psychological effects of catastrophic illnesses. Vital work, indeed. And again, always made available to families regardless of their financial means.

Obviously, this kind of care is very expensive. Won't you help me support the remarkable ministry of St. Jude to children and families battling cancer? Please donate now and come back to visit my st. jude sponsor site often. Tell others about what I'm trying to do. Learn how my effort to help find cures and save lives is going. Oh yes, and do pray for my training!

Tuesday, October 31

Team Nashville Half

On Saturday, I am planning to run the Team Nashville Half Marathon. Besides a couple of 5K races the next couple of weekends, it will be my final tune-up for the St. Jude Marathon in Memphis the first week of December. My training has only been sporadic since the end of the Uttermost due to an outbreak of busyness. Nevertheless, I am very much looking forward to the challenge. I've still got some time to get in a few really good long runs, so I am not to the panic stage just yet.

45 Down, 5 to Go

Just 5 more days. Just 5 more marathons. Dean Karnazes has nearly completed his Endurance 50 quest to run 50 marathons in 50 days in all 50 states. Yesterday, he ran the Kiawah Island Marathon in South Carolina. Today, he ran the Triple Lakes Trail Marathon in North Carolina. Tomorrow, he'll be in Maryland before making his way to Deleware, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey. Then, for the grand finale, Karnazes will run with 40,000 other marathoners--including celeb first-timer, Lance Armstrong, in the ING New York City Marathon.

Saturday, October 28

42 Down, 8 to Go

Tomorrow, Dean Karnazes will run in the Marine Corps Marathon. It will be leg number 43 in his Endurance 50 quest to run 50 marathons in 50 days in all 50 states. Yesterday, in Atlanta's torrential rain storms, he took a nasty fall. But, he hopped right up, bloody, bruised, and wet to the bone and completed yet another 26.2 miles in 4:08. Amazing! Simply amazing!

Friday, October 27

41 Down, 9 to Go

Dean Karnazes is on the verge of accomplishing something rather spectacular. For the past 41 days, he has run a marathon every single day in his Endurance 50 quest to run 50 marathons in 50 days in all 50 states. Yesterday, he was in Louisville. Today, he was in Atlanta. Tomorrow, he'll be in Largo, Florida before making his way to Washington, DC for the Marine Corps Marathon on Sunday. Then, it will be just one week and six more marathons up and down the East Coast before the grand finale, as Karnazes runs side by side with Lance Armstrong in the granddaddy of them all, the ING New York City Marathon.

Sunday, October 22

Chicago Marathon Heroes

This morning, the 29th LaSalle Bank Chicago Marathon saw 40,000 amateur athletes and weekend warriors, undeterred by cold, blustery weather, attempted something quite remarkable: the feat of running 26.2 miles. The news reports will likely focus on the elite runners (Robert Cheruiyot, winner of this year's Boston Marathon, held off fellow Kenyan Daniel Njenga to win in 2 hours, 7 minutes, 35 seconds while Ethiopia's Berhane Adere won the women's race in 2 hours, 20 minutes, 42 seconds for her first marathon victory, followed by Russia's Galina Bogomolova and Romania's Constantina Tomescu-Dita, who led the first 21 miles).

But for me, the real drama of the race takes place long after the elite runners have concluded their press conferences and returned to the comfort of their hotels, as moms and dads and next door neighbors, aunts and uncles and home room teachers, friends and acquaintances and cancer survivors do the inconceivable. Today they finally did it. They finished--having dedicated themselves to this over the long haul by investing untold hours of training over the course of the previous several months.

They are the ones who inspire me. They encourage me. They push me onward with their courage and tenacity. They are the real heroes today.

Oh yeah, and Dean Karnazes was there in the Windy City too. He ran his 36th marathon in 36 days. And he did it with a sub-3:30 time. Wow.

Saturday, October 21

E-50, Day 35

After a lovely week in New England, Dean Karnazes has returned to the Midwest in preparation for the big Chicago Marathon tomorrow. Amazingly, he has run a marathon a day--every day--for more than a month. But, even more amazing is the fact that he has run each one in a different state. He has already been to Alaska and Hawaii. He has run up and down the West Coast from the Pacific Northwest to the Southwestern Desert. He has run along the Gulf Coast and into the Deep South. He has run across the Great Plains and along Route 66. He even got to take in the glorious fall leaves in Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine. Yesterday, he ran through pouring rain in Cleveland. Today he runs in the breezy cold of Grand Rapids. Then after he tackles the Windy City tomorrow, he will head to Mineapolis, Green Bay, and Bloomington before turning to the East Coast. He only has two weeks to go in his Endurance 50 quest to run 50 marathons in 50 days in all 50 states. It is more than a little difficult to fathom.

Saturday, October 14

Mission Accomplished

The first annual running of the Uttermost was a roaring success. We did it. Every mile, every day, every event. I'll be posting photos and final tallies on our fundraising totals this next week right here--so, stay tuned. Right now though, I am going to rest--at least for a little while!

Wednesday, October 11

Final Prep for the Uttermost

How do you prepare for a three-day endurance event like the uttermost? When all the training is done; when all the logistics have been covered; when all the courses have been reviewed; what else is there? Well, plenty. There is the serious hydrating. Then there is the carbo-loading. And of course, there is the requisite kit and swag packing.

All the books say, "rest, keep off your feet, rest, hydrate, rest, plan, and rest." So, despite having several meetings that I have had to attend today, I am trying my best to heed that wise counsel.

Truth be told, I have no idea if I can actually do what I have mapped out to do. But, I'll never know until I try. To be sure, we'll soon see.

Halfway There

Dean Karnazes is halfway there. It was twenty-five days ago that he began his Endurance 50 quest to run 50 marathons in 50 states in 50 days. Today, he ran in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Yesterday, he was in Dallas, Texas. The day before, he was in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The day before that, he was in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Tomorrow, he will be in Huntsville, Alabama. After that, he heads north and east to New England for a week before taking another swing through the Midwest and the South.

Somehow, he just keeps going and going. He has yet to show signs of weariness—despite a lingering head cold that has plagued him since the second week. Amazingly, he is averaging around 9-minute miles. He is like a human metronome! But even more impressive, is how he has inspired others to tackle challenges they never thought they would or could. I know that I probably would not have attempted the Uttermost if it were not for the example of Dean Karnazes.

Three Days; One Goal

It starts tomorrow. 175 miles, 100 students, 12 stages, 9 sponsors, 7 ministries, 4 disciplines, 3 days, 1 goal. The uttermost. Together, we can make a difference. Won't you help us? Listen to our radio spot and then, pledge your support at our website. Our kids will never be the same. You will never be the same. Our world will never be the same--from here to the uttermost parts of the earth.

Tuesday, October 10

Just 2 More Days!

Make a difference. Have an impact. Use your influence, your gifts, and your opportunities. That's what I tell my students almost every day. With such heady imperatives, it is important that I steer those idealistic young men and women in the right direction when it comes to practical application. I can't just encourage them to change the world and then leave it at that. I need to give them some sense of how. I need to let them see that they don't have to wait until they're grown before they can excercise their influence for good.

That is why I launched the Uttermost. We are just two days away from a titanic effort to run and cycle 175 miles, raising funds for some of the most vital missions organizations in the world today--providing medical care for the poorest of the urban poor, raising up the next generation of leaders in benighted refugee camps and slums, educating young minds in war-torn Iraq, and digging fresh water wells in AIDS-ravaged communities in Africa.

So far we have raised just over $14,000. That is wonderful. My goal however is to top $20,000. We have two more days to get there. Will you help?

Won't you take time to listen to a brief audio message describing what the Uttermost is all about? Or, visit the websites of each of the ministries to which we are commited. And then, pledge your support--won't you?

Our kids will never be the same. You will never be the same. Our world will never be the same--from here to the uttermost parts of the earth.

Sunday, October 8

Endurance 50 in Alaska


Golf with Tiger? A marathon with Dean?

Endurance 50 in Memphis


Running in the rain with Dean Karnazes in Memphis! A lifetime memory!

Phedippidations Half

In preparation for my 3-day, 175-mile Uttermost challenge later this week in the Shelby River Bottoms, I participated in the First Annual Phedippidations World Wide Half Marathon Challenge yesterday. Along with 557 runners from 23 nations around the globe, the virtual race was organized by Steve "Runner," the host of the Phedippidations podcast. The show is just about the only web-broadcast that I faithfully listen to every week. I was able to maintain a brisk 9-minute per mile pace throughout and finished at 1:58.20. Obviously, I will not be running at anything like that pace for the Uttermost. But, it was fun to see that all my distance work could be translated into a PR.

Friday, October 6

The Uttermost and the E50

In just a few more days, I will be testing the limits of both my training and my endurance as I attempt to run and cycle 175 miles in 3 days during the Uttermost. But, that effort almost pales in comparison to what Dean Karnazes is doing.

On Wednesday, he ran 26.2 miles among the palms in 4 hours and 35 minutes on the island of Maui--it was his 18th marathon in 18 days in 18 states. Yesterday, he ran another marathon near Phoenix among the cactus in 4 hours and 45 minutes. And today, he ran near Las Vegas--a scorching pace of 4 hours and 8 minutes. He has now topped 500 miles in just 20 days in his Endurance 50 quest. And he is not even halfway to the end! Amazing.

It makes the Uttermost almost seem like small potatoes. But, only almost.

Tuesday, October 3

Uttermost at the Shelby Bottoms

The 3-day, 175-mile Uttermost will be staged in the beautiful Shelby Park and the Shelby River Bottoms Greenway. This past Saturday, I had a chance to run a 15K race there. It was the fourth time I'd had that opportunity--twice in the final miles of the Country Music Marathon and twice during the Tom King Half. This time though, almost the entire race was along the Greenway and so I was able to appreciate it far more than I could any of those previous times. It is such a beautiful pathway alongside the Cumberland River adjacent to downtown Nashville. I am now so looking forward to spending three full days there--right in the heart of the city but simultaneously tucked away in God's glorious creation.

On and On and On

Pushed along by 9,000 other runners, Dean Karnazes clocked his fastest 26.2 mile run yet. His 3 hour 44 minute time on Sunday at the Portland marathon marked his fifteenth marathon in fifteen days! Right after the race though, he had to zip straight to the airport where he caught a flight to Anchorage, Alaska. So then yesterday, under the threat of snow and sleet, he ran through the foothils of the Chugach Mountains. Strategically slowing his pace to an almost mortal 4 hours and 32 minutes, he was apparently saving his strength for today and the seventeenth leg of his Endurance 50 quest in San Francisco--where he ran the marathon in 4 hours and 8 minutes. Next stop: Maui, Hawaii.

A Message from Amy

Uttermost Link

Eat, sleep, breathe, repeat. That seems to be what I'm doing with the Uttermost now that it's October. It's not that I'm expressly busy with the planning and coordinating at this point so much as wracking my brain to figure out who else I can tell, where else I can post a flyer, what other creative things I can come up with to get people to GIVE MONEY! Especially on-line. I was so excited about getting an on-line giving feature up on the UTTERMOSTrace.com website, and you know how many people have donated...TWO! Come on folks! I love y'all with all my heart, but we can do better than this.

This week begins mega planning for me on the financial end of things. I'm in charge of keeping track of the financial donations that come in from around the country to help support organizations such as Blood:Water Mission and African Leadership, digging fresh wells and nurturing both the physical and spiritual needs of our indigenous brethren in Africa. Money to keep Mercy Children’s Clinic a thriving and vital part of our community, enabling them to give medical attention to a wide variety of children with varying needs and means. And then there's Servant Group International--what better way to bring the peace of the gospel to the Middle East, minister to our persecuted brethren, and raise up the next generation of Iraqi politicians, business men, and spiritual leaders than from within the country itself. I want desperately to be so busy this month that it takes me weeks to calculate how much money we've raised for these great missions groups!

These are exciting times. These ministries are doing exciting things. Won't you join us in encouraging them in their Kingdom calling?

Saturday, September 30

Uttermost Training

Today was a major benchmark training day for my upcoming Uttermost 3-day run-bike effort. First thing this morning, I ran in the Shelby Bottoms 15K--which was wonderful because that is precisely where the Uttermost will be held so it was like a test run. Then this afternoon, I got in a good 5-mile walk-run with my family. My plan was to run in the Franklin Night Run 5K--but, I have work to do so I will have to pass on that.

My illness a couple of weeks ago really threw me behind on my training. But, given that, I am feeling pretty good about where I am with my conditioning.

I'll throw myself into one more hard week of training and then really taper off for the big October 12-14 event.

If you have not yet visited the Uttermost website, by all means, stop by to read about each of the missions organizations we hope to benefit, and then pledge your support!

14 Down, 36 to Go

Dean Karnazes ran had his largest group of runners meet him to pace the fourteenth leg of his Endurance 50 quest. Next stop: Portland, Oregon.

Lucky 13

For his thirteenth marathon in thirteen days, Dean Karnazes ran the 26.2 miles in 4 hours and 16 minutes. It was a little slower than usual--but, not because of a slowing pace. It seems that a restaurant along the way attracted his attentions--it was called "Lucky 13"--and he just had to stop for a photo-op. And so goes his Endurance 50 quest. Next stop: Bellview, Washington.

Thursday, September 28

Uttermost: 15

In just 15 days, I will be undertaking a tough three-day challenge in an effort not only to raise thousands of dollars for vital missionary organizations but to also inspire my students to make a difference in their world right here and now. Together we will attempt a half-marathon, a 5K, and a 2 mile walk each day in addition to a 30-mile cycling course along the Cumberland River adjacent to downtown Nashville.

You can help us make this event a great success. Please visit our Uttermost website, read about each of the organizations we hope to benefit, and then pledge your support today!

12 Down, 38 to Go

In Billings, Montana today, Dean Karnazes ran 26.2 miles in less than 4 hours. It was an amazing feat considering the fact that he has now run 12 marathons in 12 days in 12 states in his remarkable Endurance 50 quest. It was the fifth time he dipped beneath the 4 hour threshold. My goal is to do that just once in my life! He's done it five times in less than two weeks! Next stop: Boise, Idaho.

Wednesday, September 27

11 Down, 39 to Go

After three marathons over three days in high altitudes, Dean Karnazes came back down to earth a bit today as he ran 26.2 miles in Fargo, North Dakota. He ran it in a brisk 4 hours and 16 minutes. Alas, his head cold is still plaguing his Endurance 50 quest to run 50 marathons in 50 days in all 50 states--but he remains focused, determined, and strong. Next stop: Billings, Montana.

Tuesday, September 26

17 Days Until the Uttermost


Yes, you read that right. Three days. 175 miles. And yes, I am going to attempt to do all of it. With the students of Franklin Classical School and Artios Academy, I will be running (about 70 miles of the total), walking (about 10 miles), and cycling (the remaining 95 miles) in an effort to raise support for some of the most remarkable missions organizations I know of--including Servant Group International, African Leadership, Blood: Water Mission, and Mercy Children's Clinic.

Won't you help us attain our goal? Visit our Uttermost website, read about our mission, and pledge your support today!

10 Down, 40 to Go

And, again! How does he do it? Dean Karnazes ran the 26.2 miles of Black Hills trails in the Deadwood Marathon in 3 hours and 53 minutes. His Endurance 50 quest to run 50 marathons in 50 days in all 50 states remains on pace--a very fast pace. Next stop: Fargo, North Dakota.

9 Down, 41 to Go

He did it again. Dean Karnazes broke 4 hours for the second day in a row--with a raging head cold, in high altitude, following 8 straight days of 26.2 mile runs. Quite simply: amazing. He is starting to make his Endurance 50 quest to run 50 marathons in 50 days in all 50 states look almost easy. Next stop: Deadwood, South Dakota.

Sunday, September 24

8 Down, 42 to Go

Dean Karnazes claims that he is a "slow runner." Yeah, right! Today he joined 2,200 other runners at the Boulder Backroads Marathon. He ran the 26.2 miles in three hours and 46 minutes. That is very nearly a Boston Marathon qualifying speed! That is in the top 10% of all marathons run in the world! And he did it in the thin Colorado air--at 5,500 feet above sea level. But, here is the kicker: Karnazes has been running a marathon a day, every day, each one in a different state for more than a week now! And to top it all off, he is doing so while fighting off the effects of a raging head cold! The guy is unbelievable. A great deal can happen during the course of the next 42 days, but it looks as if his Endurance 50 quest to run 50 marathons in 50 days in all 50 states is actually doable. Next stop: Casper, Wyoming.

Saturday, September 23

7 Down, 43 to Go

Today, Dean Karnazes faced his first real test in his Endurance 50 quest to run 50 marathons in 50 days in all 50 states. Last night, he came down with a raging head cold and hardly slept a wink. Nevertheless, he was able to drag himself to the start line right on time--at 7 AM. And then he promptly covered 26.2 miles in 4 hours 15 minutes--with 21 other runners, including two first time marathoners. Next stop: Boulder, Colorado.

6 Down, 44 to Go

Yesterday in Des Moines, weather was nearly perfect for running--68 degrees and partly cloudy. Inspired, the 35 runners who joined Dean Karnazes--including 5 first-time marathoners--kept up an amazing pace for all 26.2 miles of the Des Moines Marathon course. They crossed the finish line together in 4 hours and 6 minutes.

At mile 10 the course does a lap around the famous Drake University track, and standing there to meet the runners were the Drake University Mascot and fifty elementary school students from a nearby school. The kids ran the lap around the track with Karnazes and the other runners, cheering and high-fiving all along the way. It would have been impossible to know simply by looking that this was the sixth marathon in six days in the Endurance 50 quest to run 50 marathons in 50 days in all 50 states. Next stop: Lincoln, Nebraska.

Thursday, September 21

Nike+iPod

Nike reported Wednesday that in the 10 weeks since its iPod Sport Kit debuted, runners have logged more than 1 million miles on the nikeplus.com web site. 230 of those miles were mine.

5 Down, 45 to Go

The weather today in Wichita was cold and blustery, but Dean Karnazes remained undeterred in his Endurance 50 quest to run 50 marathons in 50 days in all 50 states. Today, he ran the 26.2 mile course of the Wichita Marathon. And, as always, Karnazes maintained an astonishingly consistent pace, coming in at 4 hours and 23 minutes. So far, he has run marathons in Missouri, Tennessee, Mississippi, Arkansas, and Kansas. Next stop: Des Moines for the Iowa leg of this epic adventure.

Wednesday, September 20

4 Down, 46 to Go

Relieved to be out of the Gulf Coast heat and humidity, Dean Karnazes ran his fourth marathon in as many days. Today, the 26.2 mile trek was along the course of the Little Rock Marathon. Once again, Karnazes kept up a blistering pace, coming in at 4 hours and 14 minutes. Mike Huckabee, Arkansas' governor and a recent convert to marathon running, joined Karnazes who now has 46 marathons to go in his Endurance 50 quest to run 50 marathons in 50 days in all 50 states. Next stop: Wichita.

Tuesday, September 19

3 Down, 47 to Go

After running in the rain Memphis yesterday, Dean Karnazes ran 26.2 miles in blessedly cool, clear weather along the Mississippi Gulf coast at Waveland in 4 hours and 30 minutes. He has 47 marathons to go in his Endurance 50 quest to run 50 marathons in 50 days in all 50 states. Next stop: Little Rock.

2 Down, 48 to Go

It was raining in Memphis yesterday morning as 18 runners lined up with Dean Karnazes in his quest to run 50 marathons in 50 days in all 50 states. I have to confess, I got caught up in the excitement of the moment. With the Endurance 50, we had the opportunity to do something historic. Plus, I wanted to have the opportunity to tell Karnazes about the Uttermost project we were going to undertake the next week. So, despite lingering Bronchitis, I ran. We were soon drenched, but altogether delighted. One runner dropped out at about 5 miles due to the blistering pace of just over 8 minute miles. Four of the 18 dropped out at the half-way point (me included). The rest finished with Karnazes at about 4 hours and19 minutes (they must have slowed down a great deal during the second half, thank goodness). I have to say, it was one of the most fun things I have ever been a part of--I just wish I could have done the whole thing.

Sunday, September 17

1 Down, 49 to Go

After reaffirming his wedding vows with his wife at the start line of the Lewis and Clark Marathon in St. Louis, Dean Karnazes ran the 26.2 miles in 3 hours 51 minutes. He maintained a pace of just under nine-minutes a mile! He has 1,282 miles and 49 marathons to go in his Endurance 50 quest to run 50 marathons in 50 days in all 50 states. Next stop: Memphis.

Marathon Countdown: 1

Today Dean Karnazes begins his quest to run 50 marathons in 50 days in all 50 states. He plans to run those 1,310 miles over the course of the next six weeks at about a 10-minute per mile pace. Yes, you read that right: 50 in 50 in 50. No breaks. No short cuts. 26.2 miles every single day for more than a month and a half.

The North Face Endurance 50 will include some of the most famous marathon routes all across the US. Today for example, he runs the Lewis & Clark Marathon in St. Louis. Tomorrow, he will be here in Tennessee to run the St. Jude Memphis Marathon in Memphis. Then on Tuesday, he’ll be in Mississippi for the Mississippi Coast Marathon. Wednesday brings him to Arkansas for the Little Rock Marathon. Next, he’ll be in Kansas for the Wichita Marathon. Then it is to Iowa for the Des Moines Marathon on Friday. On Saturday, he will be in Omaha, Nebraska for the Lincoln Marathon. Then on Sunday, he runs the Boulder Backroads Marathon in Colorado. During the six weeks that follow he will criss-cross the entire country in a tour bus running a full marathon every day in such races as the LaSalle Bank Marathon in Chicago, the Boston Marathon, and then ending in New York City on November with the ING New York Marathon.

There will be health and fitness expos in each city following the runs where the volunteer pacers (ordinary folks like me who will run with Karnazes to keep him on his target time of 10-minute miles) can revel in their small role in this rather grand accomplishment. You can visit the Endurance 50 home page to follow Karnazes' progress. But, be forewarned: you just might be tempted to lace up your old trainers and make good on your far-too-long-postponed resolution to get out there and start getting in shape.

Saturday, September 16

Marathon Countdown: 2

After a week of fitful rest and noxious medicine, I am better. I'm still a little woozy and wheezy. If I have attempted almost anything at all during the day, by evening I am worn to a frazzle. And of course, I have not run in a week.

So, if it were not obvious before, I am not going to be able to run the Endurance 50 Marathon in Memphis on Monday, alas.

Oh well. Que sera, sera. I am going to go to Memphis this afternoon anyway. I will volunteer at the race, visit some friends, eat some good barbeque, and get myself ready for the upcoming Uttermost (the website for that event is almost ready to debut).

I still have most of my conditioning, so I don't think it will be too difficult to get myself ready for that--though I am more concerned about the bike portions than I was prior to this little setback.

Tuesday, September 12

Marathon Countdown: 5

Well, I didn't feel any better this morning when I awoke. So, in desperation I did what I only do when I am really, really desperate: I actually went to the doctor! Come to find out, I have pneumonia. Thankfully, the doc loaded me up with antibiotics, inhalers, and cortisone treatments and said that if I am really good the next couple of days I can go ahead and try to make the Memphis trip. He didn't promise me that I'd be able to run next Monday. But, he gave me permission to try if I am feeling up to it. So, I am trying my best to rest. We'll see how quickly I can bounce back.

Monday, September 11

Marathon Countdown: 6

A couple of days have passed. My cold--or whatever it is--isn't any better. I've not run at all. And I'm starting to feel pretty frustrated. But, I still have plenty of time to get over this--and my marathon taper is probably a lot more restful than anything I would have allowed myself otherwise. So, I am still trying to look on the bright side.

Saturday, September 9

Marathon Countdown: 8

Just eight days to go before I am supposed to run with Dean Karnazes and the North Face team at the Endurance 50 Memphis marathon. Alas, I am sick, sick, sick. I just read in the latest Runner's World that the end of intense training and the beginning of a taper often results in a suppressed immune system--and inevitably, sickness. So, I am doing my best to drink plenty of fluids, rest well, and take lots and lots of Vitamin C. Hopefully, I will still be able to go. I have so been looking forward to this one.

Dosing Up

I had a good final week of hard training--I'm now starting my taper for the Endurance 50 Marathon in Memphis on September 18. The week began with the Franklin Classic 5K. And then it continued through 40-miles of workouts culminating yesterday with a brutal hill taining run that was supposed to be a 15-miler but wound up being just a 10-miler when I realized I was bonking big time. Last night, starting with what I thought was an allergy attack--but which has since proven to be a full-fledged cold--I realized the bonking was due to the fact that I was getting sick. So today, I am dosing up with Vitamin C, lots of fluids, and plenty of fruit. Unfortunately, I'll have to miss the I-Run-For-The-Party-5K later tonight--I'm just not going to risk getting any worse. It was to be the last of my speed work before the final taper in preparation for the big race a week from Monday.

Monday, September 4

Franklin Classic 5K

I thought I was going to miss it. Then, at the last minute, I was able to get back into town from St. Louis. I was weary, but I made my way to the square in downtown Franklin for what has always been just about my favorite race. The Franklin Classic 5K and 10K is a great community event benefiting the Mercy Children's Clinic. Thousands of runners, spectators, and vendors turn out for this annual celebration. Because of the crowds, we mid-packers rarely have a chance for a really good race pace--there are lots of kids and strollers and walkers and dawdlers--but it really doesn't matter. The race and the crowds create such a wonderful atmosphere.

So, bright and early on this coolish Labor Day, I lined up with the throng to run the 5K (I would have rather run the 10K in ordinary circumstances, but having just gotten back into town I thought discretion might be the better part of valor). I had a blast. I saw lots of friends, students, parishoners, and of course, fellow runners. The new race route was soooo much better than the previous few years. And, for the first time in recent memory, the heat had abated nicely.

So, this favorite race actually got better in my estimation. Can't ask for anything more perfect for the beginning of a family Labor Day celebration. Oh yeah, and my time was OK too.

Friday, September 1

What's On

The new HEM project, Funnel Cloud, is not due to be released until next Tuesday. But, somehow iTunes made a mistake for a few hours this morning and posted the files. I snatched them up immediately. It is a wonderful collection of thoughtful tunes, provocative lyrics, and richly layered arrangements. If you were to cross Aaron Copeland's Appalachian Spring and Cowboy Junkies' Trinity Sessions with Allison Kraus and Union Station's Live and Mozart's Woodwind Concertos you'd come close to describing HEM's lush chamber folk stylings. After just two listens, Funnel Cloud may actually be as good as their last project, Eveningland, was. And that is very, very good indeed. At any rate, that's what I'm listening to on my iPod as I run this weekend in St. Louis.

I'm on my way to a solid 50 mile week again--if I can get up and out the hotel door early enough tomorrow morning. I'll try to run a good 15 miles before breakfast in and around Maryville University and St. Luke's Hospital.

Monday, August 28

Junk Miles

Due to road construction along my regular run route, I had to cut my morning run a little short. So, when I got home this afternoon, I tried to get in some additional road time. Ouch. Those 3 measly little miles hurt far more than the 8 this morning. I was reminded--amidst the heat and humidity--just why junk miles are never really worth the time and the effort. Hopefully, tomorrow I will get in an earlier start so that I won't be tempted to repeat my folly.

Third

My milage was down a bit this past week. Nevertheless, according to the Nike-Plus website, which compiles statistics from all the runners around the world who use the new Nike-iPod system--the milage was sufficient to place me third in my age group. Third in the world! (Well, third in the world among those who happen own this system and who happen to use it every time they run and who happen to post their data whenever they use it--but hey, those are small distinctions)! Third!

Saturday, August 26

Big Difference

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

"Happiness is different from pleasure. Happiness has something to do with struggling and enduring and accomplishing." Dr. George Sheehan

The Courage of Your Lungs

"I always loved running--it was something you could do by yourself, and under your own power. You could go in any direction, fast or slow as you wanted, fighting the wind if you felt like it, seeking out new sights just on the strength of your feet and the courage of your lungs." Jesse Owens

Another Short Long Run

I was going to try a long run yesterday, but my weariness kept me to just 6 miles. This morning was not much better at 8 miles. I'll try to supplement in a little while with an additional 3, but it looks like my next possible shot at a long run will be early Monday morning. That's really fine since I am a little ahead of schedule on everything except the long runs. Everything I read says that rest and recovery are among the most important components of a training program. Maybe I'll start to believe that sometime soon.

Friday, August 25

Weary Were the World

I was going to do another long run this morning. But, I got off to a late start, my truck was nearly out of gas, and when I finally got myself out and running, I found that my legs were just numb with weariness. As the great Belloc poem for Advent intones, "Weary, weary were the world."

And, no wonder. For the last three days in a row, I have left the house before 5:30 AM, not eaten well during the day, and then not returned home until after 10 PM. That's not exactly a good prescription for training. But, I've just had a slew of appointments, meetings, and classes to teach. So, there you have it.

Despite all this, I was able to run 6 early morning miles on Tuesday, 4 on Wednesday, 2 on Thursday, and 6 today. Now, my Plan B is to do a long run tomorrow morning--I should get some good relaxation today because I only have three meetings to attend (it is my day off after all). I'll rest on Sunday. Then get in a second long run early, early on Monday morning.

Monday, August 21

Long Run

My long run hit two snags early this morning: first it started raining and then I looked at my watch and realized I had miscalculated the time necessary to complete the run. So, I ended up cutting the run short. I was able to complete just under 15 miles. But, that now means that I am going to have to somehow carve out more long run time later this week--perhaps on Friday or Saturday morning. Because I teach during the mornings starting tomorrow, I will have to get up extra early for the next several days just to make sure I stay on track with my training regimen. If I can get out the door at 5 AM, that should be sufficient. That's my goal at any rate.

Going Hard

"I always believe in going hard at everything, whether it is Latin or Mathematics, Boxing or Football, but at the same time I want to keep the sense of proportion. It is never worthwhile to absolutely exhaust one's self or to take big chances unless for an adequate object. I want you to keep in training the faculties, which would make you, if the need arose, able to put your last ounce of pluck and strength into a contest. But I do not want you to squander these qualities." Theodore Roosevelt

Friday, August 18

On Track

For the first time, I've had a good, full week of training that has me completely on my target times and distances. For the first time ever. This was largely accomplished because I was away at the start-of-the-year-camp that Franklin Classical School hosts for its students each year. I had good free time early in the morning (high schoolers sleep as late a you'll let them) and in the late afternoon.

It was hot and hilly, but I am so glad to have gotten in the injury-free miles.

I am on track to have my first-ever over-50-mile week. All I need to do is figure out how to get in my final 15-mile long run. It should not be too difficult--last Saturday, I was able to log a good 17-miler, so this oughta be more than doable.

Wednesday, August 9

Miles to Go

"Good things come slowly--especially in distance running." Bill Dellinge

The woods are lovely dark and deep,
but I have promises to keep,
and miles to go before I sleep,
and miles to go before I sleep.

Robert Frost

"Some runners like to train a hundred miles per week because it's a round number. But I think fifty is a lot rounder." Don Kardong

"If you want to win something, run a hundred meters. If you want to experience something, run a marathon." Emil Zatopek

"Anyone can run twenty miles. It's the next six that really count." Barry Magee

"A marathon is a twenty-mile warm-up and then a six-mile war of mind, body, and spirit." Tristan Gylberd

The Ultimate Test

I should have a better idea of my current conditioning by the end of this week. I have stuck pretty closely to my marathon training schedule for several days. My mileage is adding up nicely. And I am, thus far, injury free. The ultimate test will be my long run this weekend. I really need to have a good, solid 16-20 mile effort on top of the five-milers I've been doing every morning. If I can do that, I will feel all little more confident moving ahead with my aggressive race plans--despite my pokey average training pace.

Monday, August 7

Nasty, Brutish, and Short

I can't imagine how I could possibly squeeze in more training time than I already am. It seems as if I steal every available minute to either run or ride--or perhaps even trudge along on the elliptical. And still, I am only doing about half of the miles that I am supposed to be doing (according to a fairly standard marathon training schedule). How do people do this? And how do they keep the quality and pace up?

Maybe it is my age. Maybe it is my stage. I don't know. But, I am a lot slower and a lot more lethargic than I thought I would be this far along in my training. My workouts seem to be a bit like the Malthusian and Utilitarian vision of everyday life as articulated by Thomas Hobbes: "nasty, brutish, and short."

Early yesterday morning before church, I got in a quick three-miles. I was still very sore from all the biking I did on Saturday. So, I was even slower than ususal. Then, last night I ran a little one-mile warm down. Oy veh! Was it ever stiff and creaky. The decrepitude continued this morning when I slogged through a five-miler at a snail's pace.

I'll try to run another couple of miles this afternoon, but this is getting harder and more complicated rather than easier and simpler. Nasty, brutish, and short, indeed!

Saturday, August 5

Regions 5K

The second annual Regions Bank 5K was run this morning under misty skies and amidst considerable milder temperatures than what we have experienced during the past three weeks or so. It was blessed relief to run this very, very challenging, hilly course under better conditions than I'd expected. Don't get me wrong, it was still hot and muggy. But, it was tolerable. And the 250 or so runners had a great time. What a way to start off the Williamson County Fair.

When I got back home I jumped on my bike for a quick 12-mile ride. I stuck close to home so I was able to avoid the hills.

I love my new Shimano clips and shoes--they are so, so, so much better than my old ones. A "What Not to Wear" maxim is "Shoes make or break an outfit." Well, I don't know much about fashion--and I doubt that I ever will--but, I do know that in both biking and running, that maxim is all too true.

Floyd Responds

On his blog site, Floyd Landis has responded to charges that he took performance enhancing drugs during his amazing Tour de France victory:

In the past week, I have gone from the "Top of the World" to the depths of scandal. I have been thrust into the international spotlight and am being asked to defend myself against something that I did not do, for reasons that I do not understand. Although this has been a hard time for my family and me, we are confident that I will be vindicated. I am innocent of any wrongdoing and want to take an opportunity to clear up some misconceptions that exist regarding the situation.

It is widely known that the test in question, given as a urine sample after my victorious ride on stage 17 of the Tour de France, returned an abnormal T/E ratio from the A sample. I want to be entirely clear about one point of the test that has not been fairly reported in the press or expressed in any statements made by international or national governing bodies; the T value returned has been determined to be in the normal range. The E value returned was LOW, thus causing the skewed ratio. This evidence supports my assertion that I did not use testosterone to improve my performance. I emphatically deny any claims that I used testosterone to improve my performance.

Much has been speculated about the presence of exogenous testosterone in the A sample. Together with some of the leading medical and scientific experts in the world, we are reviewing the documentation about the carbon isotope ratio test. All I can say at this time is that I did not take testosterone, so there must be another reason for the result, as leaked by the UCI.

Beyond the specifics of the testing, however, I am particularly troubled by the actions of the UCI. Information about an "adverse analytical finding" was prematurely released by the UCI in order "to avoid a known leak" within the lab. A direct statement followed from UCI President Pat McQuaid that left little to infer as to whose test was in question.

I was notified of the A sample results while attending post-Tour criteriums in Europe. As a result of these breeches in protocol, confidentiality and disregard for due process, I view this as a clear violation of my rights as a professional racer licensed by the UCI.

I became the center of media attention with little time to understand the nature of the A sample results, possible causes or explanations. As I tried to come to terms with the situation, my statement and attempts to understand the results were interpreted as excuses before I had time to fully grasp the facts of the case. The inappropriate actions of the UCI has caused undue, and potentially irreparable, harm to my reputation and character. I feel I am being prosecuted without regard to my basic rights.

It is now my goal to fight to clear my name and restore what I worked so hard to achieve. I am a fighter. I did not give up during the Tour and I won't give up now, no matter what the results of the B sample are.

Thursday, August 3

Fairly Faster

Yesterday, I had my faster training 5K ever. Then this morning, I had my fastest 4-miler ever. The key has been wise use of my Nike+iPod training system--and of course, getting out before the sweltering heat settles in for the day.

Tomorrow, after several meetings, I am going to just go for a long bike ride--as a cross-training exercise. Then on Saturday, I will test my new-found speed at the Regions 5K race at the Williamson County Fair.

Nike+iPod

I've been using the new Nike+iPod system--or at least a "hack" of the new system. It has been really fascinating, fun, and surprisingly helpful with my training. I admit that at first I really thought it was just a gimmick, another unnecessary gadget. Of course, I am a sucker for unnecessary gadgets, so I went to the Apple Store and bought one as soon as I could. I strapped it on, signed up for the free web-based account, and started running with it. And now almost two weeks later, all I can say is "wow."

For many runners, music is an essential part of their workout. It isn't always for me. I love to run just listening to the sounds of nature. I also don't like the intrustion into my thinking and praying that music can sometimes be. But, even I like to run to Psalms or Hymns or new music every once in a while.

I do understand however, why iPods, have seemingly become both iconic and ubiquitous in the running community. The iPod can hold thousands of digital songs or dozens of e-books or the whole e-Bible or the Scottish Psalter or whatever--and then it can store playlists that you can arrange in strategic order especially for exercising. Various armbands, belts, clips and other accessories make it easy to carry your iPod with you while working out--especially if you have a Shuffle or a Nano (I use the Nano).

With the new Nike+iPod system you can do more than just play the soundtrack to your run--you can actually take along a virtual running coach. Apple and Nike teamed up to create a really nifty gizmo. Now, the iPod can measure your progress as you run, report it to you orally at regular intervals, and then post it to a Web site that tracks your workouts over time.

The $29 kit contains two small pieces: a receiver that plugs into the bottom of an iPod Nano and a small sensor that fits into a pocket in the inner sole of specially designed Nike running shoes. While you're listening to your iPod, the sensor calibrates your pace, distance and other data, and sends it wirelessly to your iPod, where it is stored and even announced every so often as you run. Upon returning from your run, you can plug your iPod into your laptop and load its data onto the free site at NikePlus.com, where you can view your progress. The charts, graphs, personal records, challenges, and other features are really informative and very motivational.

Now here's the thing: I don't wear Nike shoes. I wear Brooks. And I have no intention of changing. So, what I do is slip the sensor into a little key pocket that attaches to my laces. It works perfectly that way. Others have hacked the system by attaching velcro or simply tying the sensor right to the laces. Any and all of the above are suitable ways to take advantage of the system without having to actually wear Nikes.

I've been using the system for more than a week now--and I love it. It is as accurate as a bulky GPS, easier to use, contains many more practical features, much cheaper, and lots, lots, lots more fun. Having Lance Armstrong's voice (or Paul Radcliff's) congratulate you on a good workout or a record time is a hoot!

Oh yes, and because it was designed by Apple, it is elegantly, simply, and brilliantly designed. I'm hooked.

Tuesday, August 1

Much Better

My run this morning was much better than yesterday's sweltering disaster, primarily because I started much earlier. In fact, I was out so early that only the wild turkeys and the deer were the only living things astir at the time. I still lost all energy and pep by the end of the four-miler I ran, but it was so much easier to get through than the zombie-lunge I attempted yesterday.

Monday, July 31

Hot! Hot! Hot!

I went out to attempt my long run early this morning. But, I only got in 12 very feeble miles before I had to give in to the heat and humidity. My legs felt like Jello. My clothes were drenched. I thought I was going to melt away. It was only after I got back into the house that I discovered that the heat index was already at a hundred degrees! Yow!

Sunday, July 30

50 Until the 50

We're now just 50 days away from the Tennessee leg of the Endurance 50. Dean Karnazes is attempting an extraordinary 50 marathons over a 50 day span in all 50 states.

To prepare for this feat Karnazes, author of the bestselling Ultra-Marathon Man has been in intense training. Just this year he has already run the LA Marathon, Boston the?American River 50-Mile Run, the Whidbey Island Marathon, the Miwok 100K, the Big Sur International Marathon, the Mt. Diable 50K, the San Diego Rock 'n' Roll Marathon, the Western States 100-Mile Endurace Run, the Vermont Trail 100-Mile Run, and the Badwater Ultramarathon. In the next couple of weeks he'll add the San Francisco Marathon, and the Leadville Trail 100-Mile Run. Whew! And that is in addition to his regular 80 miles or so of regular workout runs every week. Oy veh!

My training has not been nearly so intense. But, it has been a full schedule nevertheless. I have run three half marathons, one full marathon, one 10-miler, two 10K races, and five 5K races so far this year. In the next couple of weeks I have three more 5K races and one 10K race in addition to my regular workouts before I attempt the Endurance 50 Marathon in Memphis followed by the three-day, nine-stage, 175-mile Uttermost along the Natchez Trace.

Friday, July 28

St. Louis Running

I've been in St, Louis for several days. The hill running here has been pretty incredible--and difficult. But, I am glad for it. On Monday at home, I ran five flat miles. Then afterwards I spent an hour on the eliptical doing intervals. Wednesday here in St. Louis, I ran three very hilly miles and then swam some good laps for about thirty-minutes. Yesterday, I ran another four.

Hill running has a way of reminding me that I am not quite as far along as I thought. That's good. Keeps me on my toes.

Next week, I'll reup my commitment to the hills, I'll rachet up my eliptical training, and I'll begin some serious cycling.

Floyd's Woes

Oh how quickly the tides can turn. Though Floyd Landis has never tested positive for any illegal drugs at any time in his long and storied cycling career, initial tests have shown abnormalities in his testosterone levels--and already the court of public opinion, especially in France, has ruled against him.

The sad fact is that the notoriously unreliable testing process for this particular abnormality can be skewed by any number of things. And besides, no one has ever determined any benefit that artificial testosterone use can offer an endurance athlete.

But for now, none of the facts really matter. Floyd is going to have to climb another mountain in an unlikely bid to reclaim his hopes for the Tour title--and this just four days after he thought he had won it.

Sunday, July 23

Tour de Landis

Floyd did it! Twenty-five years ago Americans were only starting to ride in the Tour de France. Now, they have won it eight years in a row. In fact, over the last two decades, they have won it eleven times! What a remarkable tour--if this can't inspire me to get out there and work hard, nothing can.

Saturday, July 22

TdF: Stage 19

Barring a bizarre finale--and given how unpredictable the race has been this year, a bizarre finale is certainly not beyond the realm of possibility--Floyd Landis should ride down the Champs-Elysees tomorrow as the victor in the Tour de France. With yet another stunning comeback in the final time trial, Landis reclaimed the famed yellow jersey today along with a 59-second lead. That should be more than enough to ensure he will stand atop the victory podium in Paris. But, the operative word here is "should."

Really, the only thing that is certain is that the cycling-mad host nation is more than a little uncomfortable and chagrined--after all, this is starting to look like the eighth year in a row that an American will have dominated this great event.

Thursday, July 20

Getting in the Miles

I am preparing for two huge events. On September 18, I will run the Endurance 50 edition of the Memphis Marathon. It is going to be a very special event--the second day of a 50-consecutive-day epic effort by Dean Karnazes to run 50 marathons in all 50 states! I'll just be a part of the pace team--but then again, it is a still marathon! 26.2 is 26.2 no matter how you run it.

Then less than a month later, on October 12, 13, 14, I will run and ride in the first annual Fitness Systems Uttermost. It is an event that I am actually directing myself--in an effort to raise support for several charaties that I am particularly commited to: Servant Group International, African Leadership, Mercy Children's Clinic, Blood/Water Mission, Franklin Classical School, and Artios Academy. It will be three days of running and biking across 175 miles of the Natchez Trace.

Both events are going to be really, really tough. So, obviously, I am now in the thick of the training program to get ready. This heat wave we've been experiencing is not exactly helping matters, but I got in 6 miles on Monday, 6 on Tuesday, 3 on Wednesday, and 12 today. I am going to go nice and easy tomorrow but then whallop the asphalt on Saturday.

Floyd!

Freelance writer, Andrew Hood, has written a great article for ESPN about the epic ride of Floyd Landis in today's Tour stage:

Floyd Landis was a dead man walking in the Tour de France.

Written off by pundits and rivals after bonking spectacularly in the yellow jersey in Wednesday's climbing stage and tumbling out of the top 10, Landis bounced back Thursday to deliver one of the most incredible resurrections in cycling history.

Now third at just 30 seconds back, he's in the pole position to win the 2006 Tour after winning Thursday's stage with an emphatic solo attack in the style of cycling's greatest heroes.

"What Floyd Landis did today was something mythic," said Juan Fernandez, Landis' sport director on the Phonak team. "This is something you can write in the history books, like the exploits of Eddy Merckx or Bernard Hinault. He was like a wounded lion. He wanted to take out the spine in his back and show the world who he was."

Fueled by anger, frustration and determination, Landis executed one of the most audacious attacks in cycling lore.

Defying conventional wisdom that says the favorites must wait until the final climb, Landis had nothing to lose and attacked on the lower reaches of the Col des Saisies, about 65 kilometers into the 200.5-kilometer stage.

Riding with wild abandon, he reeled in and then dropped an early breakaway, and then drilled it over four more steep climbs, including the knee-busting steep climb over the Col de Joux-Plane, towering 12 kilometers above the finish line in Morzine.

By the time the overall contenders organized a chase, it was too late. Landis beat second-place rider Carlos Sastre by 5:42 and race leader Oscar Pereiro by 7:08, clawing back out of the grave, moving from 11th at 8:08 back to third at 30 seconds back of Pereiro.

"This morning I saw the papers and they said I was out of the Tour, that made me mad," Landis said. "It wouldn't be any fun if I told you what happens next, but I think it's pretty obvious. I'd like to win the race."

The idea that Landis could win the race seemed unimaginable 24 hours ago and his comeback has few comparisons in the annals of cycling's century-old history.

"Floyd Landis turned himself around from a defeated, broken man to a probable Tour de France winner in the space of a six-hour stage," said Paul Sherwen, a former pro and play-by-play announcer for OLN's live Tour coverage. "What he did today was ride himself back into contention. Theoretically, that was impossible."

There have been equally spectacular bonks and there have been even more incredible comebacks, but having both packed into a 24-hour period is unlike anything seen before.

During Lance Armstrong's seven-year stranglehold on the Tour, the authoritarian Texan never truly had a bad day on the scale of Landis' implosion.

In 2000, Armstrong bonked over the Joux-Plane and suffered a similar fracture in a 2003 time trial loss to Jan Ullrich, forfeiting less than two minutes each time. He would shrug off those hiccups and roll on to overall victories.

In 1998, Ullrich cracked over the Col du Galibier to surrender the race leader's maillot jaune to Marco Pantani, but bounced back to win the next day's stage. But Big Jan only finished second to The Pirate.

The seemingly unstoppable Miguel Indurain bonked up Les Arcs in the 1996 Tour while trying to become the first man to win six Tours, but he wasn't wearing the yellow jersey at the time and never really recovered, finishing a distant 11th overall in his final Tour.

For similar exploits, you have turn back several pages in cycling's rich history.

In 1989, Greg LeMond came back from a life-threatening turkey hunting accident to win the Tour in a gripping, final-day time trial showdown in Paris. LeMond started the 24-kilometer stage 50 seconds behind race leader Laurent Fignon, but used special aero-bars and helmet to win the race by 8 seconds, the narrowest margin of victory in Tour history.

Italian attacker Claudio Chiappucci went on a similar suicidal attack over the Alps in 1992, winning at Sestrieres, but he never could steal away the yellow jersey from Indurain and settled for second overall.

Merckx, cycling's greatest racer, had similar extreme swings during his reign in the late 1960s to mid-1970s.

In 1971, Merckx was the heavy favorite for a third Tour when Spanish rider Luis Ocaña took a nine-minute lead midway through the race. Ocaña showed no signs of cracking, but Merckx went on a daring attack on the Col de Mente only to crash. Ocaña also crashed and was hit by another rider and was forced to abandon with severe injuries. Merckx refused to wear the maillot jaune the next day, but went on to win.

Ironically, it was a Merckx who had a hand in Landis' revival on Thursday. His son, Axel, is one of Landis' key teammates on Phonak. Team manager John Lelangue is also the son of Robert Lelangue, who was the sport director at Merckx's Molteni team in 1971. Both the elder Merckx and Lelangue called Wednesday evening to tell the team nothing is impossible in the Tour de France.

"My father called me after Wednesday's stage and told me, 'The race isn't over,'" Lelangue recounted. "Eddy Merckx was also on the phone, trying to give us some advice. He said the race is not lost and told us to go on the attack."

Landis woke up Thursday intent on erasing the image from the previous day, when he was bonked and beaten, looking defeat in the face. Just what did Landis eat for breakfast to propel him?

"He had muesli, an omelet, pasta, cereal, and a lot of belief," said Allen Lim, Landis' trainer. "He never doubted himself, even after the bad day, because it was just a bad day. Today was a good day."

With Saturday's decisive 57-kilometer time trial on tap to decide the overall winner, Landis once again is poised to become just the third American to win cycling's greatest race.

Everyone had written him off 24 hours ago. Now, Landis is writing the story for the ages.

TdF: Stage 17

Wow! What a stage! American rider Floyd Landis moved back into contention for the Tour de France title Thursday, winning the last tough Alpine stage in a heroic solo finish. Landis seemed to have fallen out of contention yesterday when he lost the leader's yellow jersey after struggling at the brutal uphill finish on the L'Alpe d'Huez. But today, he burst ahead of the main pack in the first of three tough ascents in the 17th stage. "He reacted like a great champion," said France's Cyril Dessel, who entered the stage in fourth place.

The American clenched his right fist in celebration as he crossed the finish and hopped off his bike after completing the punishing 200.5K ride in 5 hours, 23 minutes, 36 seconds. He cut 8 full minutes from his deficit and now only trails the overall leader, Spain's Oscar Pereiro, by 30 seconds.

With the tough Alpine climbs over, the individual time trial on Saturday shapes up as a crucial test to decide the winner of the first Tour since Lance Armstrong won a record seven straight titles. After 17 stages, the overall standings are now:

1. Oscar Pereiro (Spain)
2. Carlos Sastre (Spain)
3. Floyd Landis (USA)
4. Andreas Kloden (Germany)
5. Cadel Evans (Australia)
6. Denis Menchov (Russia)
7. Cyril Dessel (France)
8. Christophe Moreau (France)
9. Haimar Zubeldia (Spain)
10. Michael Rogers (Australia)

As for the other Americans: Levi Leipheimer is in 18th place; Christian Vandevelde is in 23rd place; George Hincapie is in 32nd place; Christopher Horner is in 62nd place; and Dave Zabriskie is in 79th place.

Wednesday, July 19

TdF: Stages 15-16

There is no more spectacular finish in the Tour de France than the 21-turn, 14K climb up to the top of L'Alpe d'Huez. This year it came at the end of an already demanding 187K stage that called for the beyond-category Col d'Izoard climb and the category-two Col du Lautaret climb. Needless to say, it was a bear of a day yesterday. Amazingly, though Floyd Landis was not able to win the stage, he was able to gain enough time to claim the yellow jersey.

But, his moment of glory was short-lived. Today, the race crossed the giant of the Alps, the Col du Galibier and the Col de la Croix de Fer before the finish at the ski station of La Toussuire. And it proved to be too much for Landis who lost a nearly insurmountable eight-minutes. He fell completely out of the top ten in the overall general classification.

The news was not much better for any of the other Americans, though Levi Leitheimer may have suffered the least-the Discovery team for instance, is not even among the top-ten teams on the Tour thus far. It looks as if Lance Armstrong's cohorts are having a hard time living up to his remarkable legacy:

1. Oscar Pereiro (Spain)
2. Carlos Sastre (Spain)
3. Andreas Kloden (Germany)
4. Cyril Dessel (France)
5. Cadel Evans (Australia)
6. Denis Menchov (Russia)
7. Michael Rogers (Australia)
8. Christophe Moreau (France)
9. Levi Leipheimer (USA)
10. Haimar Zubeldia (Spain)

Sunday, July 16

TdF: Stage 14

The 180.5K fourteenth stage of the Tour de France was difficult and dangerous. Three different crashes shook up the entire peloton--and actually knocked Rik Verbrugghe of Belgium, David Canada of Spain, Magnus Backstedt of Sweden, and Mirko Celestino Italy out of the race.

Pierrick Fedrigo outsprinted breakaway companion Salvatore Commesso at the finish to hand France its third stage victory in the Tour. Oscar Pereiro held on to the yellow jersey--with Floyd Landis nipping at his heels, just 1:29 behind. At 15th, Levi Leipheimer is 07:08 back. And at 38th, George Hincapie is 24:28 back.

Tomorrow is a rest day. And then the decisive part of the Tour really begins with three days of tough climbing--and an anticipated battle for the yellow jersey--as the peloton rides into the Alps.

The overall standings remain:

1. Oscar Pereiro (Spain)
2. Floyd Landis (USA)
3. Cyril Dessel (France)
4. Denis Menchov (Russia)
5. Cadel Evans (Australia)
6. Carlos Sastre (Spain)
7. Andreas Kloden (Germany
8. Michael Rogers (Australia)
9. Juan Miguel Mercado (Spain)
10. Christophe Moreau (France)

Saturday, July 15

TdF: Stage 13

Another surprise stage. Today, Floyd Landis let a breakaway steal his yellow jersey. But, it was apparently all a part of his larger strategy heading into the Alps. The brutal 230K stage from Beziers to Montelimar, the longest of the race, was won in a two-up sprint by German Jens Voigt. His breakaway partner, Spaniard Oscar Pereiro profited from their half-hour winning margin to take the yellow jersey. The newly shaken up overall standings offer new life to several heretofore struggling teams:

1. Oscar Pereiro Sio (Spain)
2. Floyd Landis (USA)
3. Cyril Dessel (France)
4. Denis Menchov (Russia)
5. Cadel Evans (Australia)
6. Carlos Sastre (Spain)
7. Andréas Klöden (Germany)
8. Michael Rogers (Australia)
9. Miguel Juan Miguel (Spain)
10. Christophe Moreau (France)

Friday, July 14

TdF: Stage 12

On a day when the French media was crowing about the demise of Lance Armstrong's legacy at the Tour de France, three of Lance's lieutenants made a big splash during the 12th stage of the grueling event. Less than 24 hours after it did indeed seem that Lance's team and his friends were crumbling under the pressure of a rugged five-climb stage across the Pyranees, the Discovery Channel riders redeemed themselves with a great strategy that culminated in stage win by Ukrainian rider Yaroslav Popovych. And Floyd Landis, another of Lance's old teammates, held on to the maillot jaune after he won it decisively during the mountain stage the day before.

The torrid 211.5K stage from Luchon to Carcassonne featured a brilliant breakaway led by Discovery's George Hincapie before the final successful attack by Popovych. It appears that the rumors of the demise Lance's legacy are more than a little premature.

Once again, the General Classification standings have been shaken up in this most surprising and exciting of Tours:

1. Floyd Landis (USA)
2. Cyril Dessel (France)
3. Denis Menchov (Russia)
4. Cadel Evans (Australia
5. Carlos Sastre (Spain)
6. Andreas Kloden (Germany)
7. Michael Rogers (Australia)
8. Juan Miguel Mercado (Spain)
9. Christophe Moreau (France)
10. Yaroslav Popovych (Ukraine)