New Order "Crystal"

I've been on a New Order kick lately and this tune from their 2001 "comeback" album Get Ready is one of their best. This video is really funny because it has a fictional band called The Killers lip synching "Crystal". Apparently the current Killers (who are very Joy Division/New Order influenced) took their name from this video!

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Training Update

This winter seems to be a bit worse than last year's but I've been pretty consistent thus far in my winter base phase, managing to do a long run and moderately paced mile repeats and tempos each week. Yesterday I ran 12 miles in sub zero (with windchill) temperatures. Froze my nads off, but felt like a badass afterwards. It's going to get back into the 40's on Wednesday though -- perfect timing for my scheduled interval workout. March feels like a long way off. I don't have any races planned until the St. Malachi 5 miler on 3/14. Part of me wishes I had planned a race somewhere warm and made a vacation out of it, but the only thing that tempts me are the USATF Winter XC Nationals in Baltimore on February 7th and the weather there certainly won't be great. The masters race is 8K though, which is my favorite distance and I could do a shout out to Omar and Stringer Bell while I'm there (If you haven't seen The Wire you won't know what I'm talking about).

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Three Way Tie for First!




















My sister just forwarded me this photo taken in 1980 from a cross country meet at my first high school, Ann Arbor Pioneer. From what I can remember it was a dual meet against Ypsilanti and me, Dennis Conlon (center) and Kevin Collins (right) tied for first. This is right at the finish line, hence the linked arms. I think the spikes I'm wearing were Onitsuka Tiger Jayhawks. Onitsuka, of course, is now Asics.

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Training Update

The weather is starting to turn bleak, but my winter base training has been going really well. After a few weeks of getting back into the groove after my early November break, I feel "on" again. This week I had three solid workouts: a session of 4 cutdown mile repeats on Wednesday; a hilly tempo run on Friday; and a snowy 14 miler today. March is a long way off, but I'm feeling pretty optimistic that I can lower some of my masters PRs in the Spring.

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Some words of inspiration

I came across this quote from Wanderer, the autobiography of the late actor (and sailing enthusiast) Sterling Hayden, who stared in Fifties cult classics such as The Asphalt Jungle and Johnny Guitar. Pretty inspirational to say the least, especially in these lean economic times:

To be truly challenging, a voyage, like a life, must rest on a firm foundation of financial unrest. Otherwise, you are doomed to a routine traverse, the kind known to yachtsmen who play with their boats at sea... cruising, it is called. Voyaging belongs to seamen, and to the wanderers of the world who cannot, or will not, fit in. If you are contemplating a voyage and you have the means, abandon the venture until your fortunes change. Only then will you know what the sea is all about. I've always wanted to sail to the south seas, but I can't afford it." What these men can't afford is not to go. They are enmeshed in the cancerous discipline of security. And in the worship of security we fling our lives beneath the wheels of routine - and before we know it our lives are gone. What does a man need - really need? A few pounds of food each day, heat and shelter, six feet to lie down in - and some form of working activity that will yield a sense of accomplishment. That's all - in the material sense, and we know it. But we are brainwashed by our economic system until we end up in a tomb beneath a pyramid of time payments, mortgages, preposterous gadgetry, playthings that divert our attention for the sheer idiocy of the charade. The years thunder by, the dreams of youth grow dim where they lie caked in dust on the shelves of patience. Before we know it, the tomb is sealed. Where, then, lies the answer? In choice. Which shall it be: bankruptcy of purse or bankruptcy of life?

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I've become that guy

Having working in the music industry in some capacity or other from my mid-Twenties until present (while Elephant Stone is currently on hiatus, I still review music for Skyscraper Magazine), I always swore that I would be hip to current trends and not get locked in a timewarp. Over the past few years, however, I've pretty much only been listening to bands that I liked in high school, college and a few years after college. Basically, 1980 to the mid-90's. While I've bought a few releases by new bands, some very good, like the brand new Bubblegum Lemonade CD, I'm mostly digging reissues of stuff I bought eons ago on vinyl. Stuff like Sisters of Mercy, Echo and the Bunnymen, the first two Cure albums, Jesus and Mary Chain, and, most recently, the 'deluxe' editions of the first three New Order and first three U2 albums. The current bands that I do like, such as Interpol, are very influenced by post-punk bands from the 80's, so in a way I feel like I'm never listening to anything 'new' even when it's a new band! I'm at peace with this.

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Back on the roads

After taking a week off to heal the aches and pains and rest up after the end of a long racing season, I'm back to a winter base training phase. And yeah the weather has been pretty winter-like this week, low 30s (or colder) with lots of wind shooting off Lake Erie. Most of my runs are out and backs along Lake Ave. and Edgewater so I run into some strong winds and get sweet tailwinds on the way home. Today I did a moderate 5 mile progressive tempo on the one-mile loop at Lakewood Park and it felt good to work a bit. Made sure to be careful on the icy patches -- don't want to fall and dislocate my shouler again! The general winter plan is easy mileage with three key workouts each week: a long run (12 miles give or take), a fartlek session (i.e. 6 x 3 minutes on/2 minutes off or 4 x 5 minutes on/3 minutes off), and a moderate tempo. Nothing too streneous as the main goal for now is to build aerobic fitness and be in shape to tackle the faster workouts when it's closer to racing time.

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Super Furry Animals - Demons

This song has been in my head all week. Reminds me a lot of a '70s Bowie tune.

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Time for a break

I ended the season on Sunday with a pretty solid 10K at the Ann Arbor Turkey Trot. I ran 36:24 for second overall (top master), pretty much running by myself for most of the race. The guy ahead of me was in the mid 34's and the guy behind me was over 37 minutes, so I was in no man's land, which was kind of a weird feeling. My plan was to go out in 18:00 and come back in the mid 17's and I was on target in the first half as I ran my first three miles in 17:24, which is about 18 for 5K, hitting 5:48 exactly for each split. I felt really relaxed and thought for sure I could crank out some sub 5:40s in the second half, but then without warning my right calf (which was bugging me all week) tightened up and I started to wonder if I could even finish. I just focused on relaxing and pretending I was doing a tempo run and somehow managed to hold it all together and not slow down too much. Really happy with the way I gutted it out, even if that meant limping around all day Sunday and yesterday. I feel much better today so I know it's nothing serious. I'm taking it as a sign that I need some down time so I'm taking this week entirely off and will then run very easily the next week before getting back to a winter base training schedule. Being as there isn't a masters indoor track circuit in these parts, I probably won't be racing again until March.

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Oklahoma State 6 x mile workout


Track and Field Videos on Flotrack

This video is a little long (about 10 minutes), but if you want a really good inside look at a top NCAA cross country program, check out Oklahoma State's 6 x mile workout, which was done a few weeks about and recorded by the folks at Flotrack.org

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Day Off

My right calf has been nagging me all week. I think I must have done something to it on my 12 mile trail run Sunday, so I'm going to take a day or two off to make sure I'm 100% for my race on Sunday. I hate taking days off, but I think in this case the rest will help. I can still run fine, but when I was doing some mile repeats yesterday, I could tell that I probably should play it safe, so I cut the workout short. The other thing is that I've been racing at least once a month since mid-February of this year so I'm going to go back to base training soon. If Sunday goes well, I'd like to jump in a Thanksgiving Day race and then take a little down time before building it up again.

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Running Update

One week to go until my target fall race, the Tortoise and Hare Turkey Trot 10K in Ann Arbor. I backed down to 41 miles this week and I'm starting to feel some snap in my legs again that had been missing a bit since my 16:54 5K a month ago. On Wednesday, I had a really good session of 4 x mile in 5:41 with 2:00 minute 400 meter jogs going 5:44, 5:42, 5:42, 5:38. The effort felt pretty smooth and relaxed so hopefully I can hit a similar pace in the race. Today I did an easy 12 mile trail run. Other than that this week has been a lot of short easy runs. Next week I'll do a moderate race pace workout on Wednesday and then make sure I'm rested for Sunday's race.

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Mott The Hoople - Old Records Never Die


Old Records Never Die is an outstanding two-CD retrospective of Ian Hunter’s best work as the frontman and main songwriter for Mott The Hoople and his subsequent solo material. Disc One, which is all Mott The Hoople, contains pretty much everything most people would want from the band. This CD is a fantastic journey from the band’s Stonesy beginnings to their glam rock heyday, which commenced when David Bowie gave the band “All The Young Dudes” in order to jumpstart a then-sinking career. In addition to the aforementioned classic, other highlights include the stomping “Roll Away The Stone” (see lip-synched video above!), their gritty cover of The Velvet Underground’s “Sweet Jane” and the epic “Ballad of Mott The Hoople.” The Ian Hunter disc is also excellent. Weighted heavily towards his Seventies material, it’s easy to see how influential of a songwriter Hunter is. “Once Bitten Twice Shy” was later covered by Great White in a much more over-the-top form, while the poignant “Ships” was one of Barry Manilow’s last hits. In addition, a re-recorded version of “Cleveland Rocks” was used as theme music for The Drew Carey Show! Also great are two songs I fondly remember from my FM radio-listening youth, “Just Another Night” and “When The Daylight Comes.”

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Time to Taper

Decent 5K race today (well, yesterday as it's just after midnight as I write this) at the Amherst Skeleton Run in some windy and cool conditions. Fall has definitely arrived. Ran 17:19 for 7th overall and 3rd master. Top master was at 16:42. Felt ok, but a little stale, probably due to a combo of quite a few late nights at work the past few weeks and some pretty tough workouts. Definitely not as on as I was in my 16:54 race at the beginning of the month, but I felt a lot stronger than I did in the masters XC race in North Carolina. The race I've been focusing on all fall, Ann Arbor Turkey Trot 10K, is in 2 weeks (happens to fall on my 44th birthday too) so now it's time to back off on the intensity and trust that the hard work this fall will pay dividends. Peaking is always the hardest thing for me to do as I have a hard time easing up in my training.

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Jesus and Mary Chain - The Power of Negative Thinking


It was a little disappointing that Rhino’s reissues of the first five Jesus and Mary Chain albums did not get the deluxe over-the-top packaging and bonus track treatment that was bestowed upon The Cure and Joy Division, but this four-CD box set with extensive liners, including in-depth interviews with founding members Jim and William Reid, more than makes up for it. Quite simply, The Power Of Negative Thinking is the motherload for Jesus and Mary Chain fans. Though a lot of this material has already been compiled on the Barbed Wire Kisses, Speed of Sound and Hate Rock ‘n’ Roll collections, everything is in one place here, and there are a lot of added bonuses, such as previously unreleased demos and alternate takes of classic material. Perhaps the most fascinating thing about The Power Of Negative Thinking is that on many of these songs the Reid brothers really let their guard down, much more so than on their carefully constructed studio masterpieces. The Jesus and Mary Chain’s influences are much more varied than one may suspect. While the main albums tend to focus a lot on the band’s Phil Spector, Beach Boys, and Velvet Underground fixations, the group was far less restrained on their B-sides, especially on their covers of various rock ‘n’ roll legends, including Leonard Cohen, The Subway Sect, The Temptations, Thirteenth Floor Elevators, The Pogues, Bo Diddley, Elvis, and Prince. Original B-side compositions were also much more spontaneous, in some cases too much so—a handful of tunes, such as some of the early Psychocandy flip sides, are downright awful! Much more par for the course is the number of amazing gems on The Power of Negative Thinking that should have made their way to the ‘proper’ releases. This is especially true with the Automatic era B-sides. While that 1989 effort is a tad too produced and commercial radio-friendly compared to the other Jesus and Mary Chain albums, after listening to tracks like the gripping “In The Black” and “Terminal Beach” or the shimmering all-too-brief “I’m Glad I Never,” one wonders what Automatic might have sounded like if the boys had been able to let loose a little more in the studio. Other great discoveries here are some Honey’s Dead era cuts, including the infectious “Something I Can’t Have,” the tense “Heat,” and a sublime acoustic rendition of “Teenage Lust.” A must purchase for the hardcore Jesus and Mary Chain fan.

Video above is "Some Candy Talking" from 1986.

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Cross Country Photos

Here are a few photos from the Masters National Championship 5K in Greensboro, NC that were taken by my brother-in-law Andrew Proffer.

At the start with the other 'unattached' guys, including John Hinton (far right), who won the race









Early on in the first mile before we hit the trails...













Bringing it home


















Dead at the end....

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Running Update

Haven't done one of these in a while, but since running my 16:54 PR (and falling down in my cool down afterward and dislocating my shoulder!), I'm back at full strength again. I ended up missing 2 days of training with my shoulder and was on some heavy duty painkillers so I didn't feel my best going into the Masters National XC race in Greensboro on October 12. Nevertheless, I ran a pretty solid race and placed 36th in the 40-49 year old race. I didn't have my usual strong finish in the last mile, but ran as well as could for the day. It's always a good experience racing the best people in the country. This week has been great. My shoulder feels back to normal with only occasional soreness (no more painkillers) and I ran 58 miles this week with two really great hard workouts. Next week I'll be racinga 5K on October 26th and on November 9th a 10K in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The latter is a race that I have been keying on all fall.

My brother-in-law Andrew took some great photos from the Masters XC race and as soon as I get them, I'll post some up!

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Billy Bragg - Levi Stubbs' Tears (R.I.P. Levi)

In addition to Norman Whifield's passing, the musical world also lost Four Tops front man Levi Stubbs. This 1986 song by Billy Bragg describes the emotional impact of Stubbs' music more than my words ever could. 2008 has now seen the loss of Isaac Hayes, Norman Whitfield and Levi Stubbs. Legends all.

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Norman Whitfiled (R.I.P.)



Norman Whitfield was an underrated genius who pretty much invented the concept of psychedelic soul music in the late 1960s when he took over the Temptations' songwriting duties from Smokey Robinson in 1966. Born in 1943, Whitfield was a teenage pool hustler before discovering his musical talent. Before working with the Temptations, Whitfield wrote songs for the likes of Marvin Gaye. Under Whitfield's guidance, The Temptations branched out their sound on such classics as "Cloud Nine" (see above!), "Ball of Confusion" and "Papa Was a Rolling Stone". Whitfield's psychedelic arrangements and urban social messages paved the way for Sly Stone and Isaac Hayes and of course, the '70s Blaxsploitation sound. The man will be missed.

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Heavy Stereo - Mouse In A Hole

Before he was in Oasis, Gem Archer was the vocalist for Heavy Stereo who put out four great singles and one album circa 1995-96. This is one of my favorite Heavy Stereo tunes. New Oasis album is out this week BTW.

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New Masters 5K PR - 16:54

Today was one of those days where everything seemed to click. The weather was ideal -- somewhere between 45 and 50 with not too much wind. I didn't see too many faces I knew at the starting line, but then my Team Run Zone teammate, Pellegrino, showed up a few minutes before the gun went off, so I knew that it would be a good race. He ended up being the top master at 16:12 -- the man is a beast! He's had a really great fall after being injured earlier this year. The overall winner was a college kid who runs for Northern Arizona who ran 15:19. He was supposed to be racing at the Cowboy Jamboree today, but he had to be in Cleveland for a funeral -- guess he had time for a race! Anyway, I ran a 4 second masters PR and finished third OA, second master with a time of 16:54.

Normally the course at Lakewood Park is a straight out and back on Lake Avenue, but they changed the course quite a bit for this race. The first half of the race wound through a lot of neighborhood side streets, so there was a lot of twisting and turning. The last half, however, was all straight and I really got rolling there. After passing the usual suspects who start too fast, I was pretty much alone by the half mile mark trying to focus on Pellegrino who was ahead of me. No one else finished that close to me, so I'm really happy that I managed to stay focused and pushed hard. I think doing those Daniels workouts the past five weeks has really toughened me up. Hopefully, I can get down to 16:45ish by the end of the year. Next week I'll be doing the masters XC race in North Carolina ,but I'll try to find another fast 5K road race or two before 2008 comes to a close.

On a dumb side note, I messed up my shoulder really bad after the race. I ran a cool down with a group of guys and one of them tripped on a big crack in the sidewalk and he fell pretty hard and I fell over him and landed hard on my right shoulder. I was able to shake it off ok, but when I got home my arm/shoulder popped out of socket in the shower, but then popped right in again after about 30 seconds. It happened again about 10 minutes later when I put on a shirt. Since then it's been getting better, but still pretty sore and stiff. I can mimic a running motion ok, so hopefully with taking today off running I can get back into it in a day or two. Not the best thing to happen a week before nationals but you've got to roll with the good and the bad or as an old friend used to say, you've got to ride the waves of life like the silver surfer.

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Prefontaine Tattoo


No this isn't me, but whoever this guy is, that's one pretty cool looking Pre tattoo!

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Running Update

I've been pretty lazy with this blog lately, but everything has been going really well with my running. Since the Northcoast 5 mile race on August 30th, I've had four solid weeks of really good training with some of my best workouts of the year, including some really good threshold sessions like repeat miles and 2-miles with minimal rest breaks. Last Sunday I was the second Master and 5th overall in the Cleveland Heroes Run with a time of 29:08, 39 seconds faster than my time in 2007. This is a super tough course, so while the time doesn't seem all that fast, I felt like it was a much better effort than my Northcoast race. Next up for me is a low key 5K road race on October 4 and then I'll be running in the Masters 5K Cross country National Championships in Greensboro, North Carolina on October 12. In anticipation of that, I dusted off my XC spikes and did some repeat 1000s this morning. It went pretty well and I will try to do another workout in spikes at some point before the race.

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Jamaican Puma Commercials

These are the funniest shoe commercials ever!

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North Coast Challenge 5 Mile Race Report

Note to self: don't go this long without racing again! Nothing quite prepares you for race pace pain other than semi-frequent racing, so best not to avoid it for more than a few weeks at a time. I ran my first race in 6 weeks on Saturday and for the most part, I'm pretty happy with my performance. I knew I wasn't in PR shape after not really training that hard over the last few weeks (last two weeks my mileage was pretty low), but I feel ready to roll now and look forward to a good fall of racing and training. I ran 28:45 (5:45 pace) in hot and very humid conditions, which is a bit better than I was actually expecting. I'm quite a bit ahead of where I was last year at this time too -- in 2007 I ran 29:21 at North Coast in much better conditions. Another good sign was that I ran each mile in exactly 5:45, so my sense of pace is definitely there. I just need to get my mileage up and my times will get down to where they should be. The plan for the next 8 weeks is to try to hit about 60 miles a week and then back down a little in the 2 weeks before the Ann Arbor Turkey Trot 10K on November 9th. This Saturday I'll be racing in the Dances With Dirt 100K trail relay in Hell, Michigan, where I'll run three of my teams relay legs (probably about 15 miles give or take). Next road race will be the Cleveland Heroes Run on September 21. This is a super hilly 5 mile race and will be a good strength test.

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Marathon Madness

Watched the Olympic Marathon on TV last night and it was perhaps the greatest distance running performance I have witnessed. In mid 80 degree temperature with high humidity, Sammy Wanjiru of Kenya destroyed the Olympic marathon record by almost three minutes with an insane time of 2:06:32. Unlike the women's race last week, which started at an extremely conservative pace, Wanjiru ignored the oppressive heat and took it out hard from the gun and gradually dropped the field like a hitman on a mission. Only 21 years old, I think Wanjiru is a sure bet to take down the marathon world record if he can find a fast, flat race in cooler conditions.

While my running performances are hardly Wanjiru-like, I feel like I'm snapping out of a rut I was in and feel ready to start racing and hopefully PRing again. Saturday, August 30th will be my first race in 6 weeks at my favorite distance, 5 miles. After taking a month off of speed work, I just started on the 12 week Pfitzinger 8K/10K plan with the aim of running a nice 10K PR at the Ann Arbor Turkey Trot on November 9th. My week 1 interval workout, which I ran last Tuesday, was 6 x 800 at current 5K 'effort' and I averaged 2:41 with 2:00 jog breaks for recovery. My times were: 2:44, 2:40, 2:42, 2:40, 2:40, 2:41. They all felt easy and controlled -- a nice rustbuster. Wore my new racing flats, The Nike Kantana Racer 3, for the 800s and they feel nice and light. Started Week 2 of the program today with a solid 11 miler at 6:57 pace, hitting 7:10 pace going out and getting down into the 6:30s at the end.

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#3 Buzz Cut


No, this isn't a gang initiation! The last two haircuts I've had have been #3 buzzcuts courtesy of my friend Chris, both times after having a few beers at the Beer Engine in Lakewood. Bella snapped this photo on Friday night just as we were getting started. I just bought a pair of clippers yesterday at Target, so now I can buzz myself whenever I want and save haircut $ for cooler things like running stuff and beer.

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Isaac Hayes - R.I.P.

"Walk on By" from 1969.

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Christopher Tucker

"Latchkey Kids" was one of Chris' more personal songs so I thought this would be a nice way to share his music.

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General Running Update

I've had a really good last two weeks of running. 53.5 miles each week. Nothing fast, just a lot of strength work as I gear up for fall races. Both weeks I've done a 12-mile long run and a solid tempo workout, as well as some brisk nine-mile medium long runs. One observation I've made is that my times on my 12-mile and 9-mile courses have suddenly been getting a lot quicker, even as I've been trying to hold back. Feels like my aerobic strength is better than it has ever been since starting running again. Maybe taking a few weeks off of speedwork and racing has let my body catch up? Hopefully I can push it up to another level this fall. First race of my 'season' is a 5 miler on August 30 in Westlake.

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R.I.P. Christopher















I'm too shocked to really say anything right now, but my friend Christoper Tucker, who was the singer and songwriter for the Philadelphia band The Situation passed away on July 25th. I put out his band's two CDs, The Reece Nasty EP and The Situation on my label, Elephant Stone Records, and I'll always remember the times that I hung out with them, especially when The Situation played an Elephant Stone Records showcase at The Beachland in Cleveland with The Volta Sound and New Planet Trampoline and the great post-gig party we had at our place afterwards. R.I.P. Christopher and I hope you're in a better place. Love, Ben.

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Going Pro! :-)

No, I'm not quitting my day job any time soon, but I did win $50 for being the second master at today's Johnnycake Jog 5 mile race. Kind of cool to lose my prize money virginity so to speak. Not too many guys out there have made $ from both sports and rock 'n' roll. This was one of Ohio's premiere road racing events on the Grand Prix circuit. I was 33rd overall in a deep field full of lots of fast open, high school, and college runners. I didn't feel my best, and the 80F temperature and pea soup like humidity didn't help, but I ran a pretty solid, even paced race hitting 28:42. Splits were: 5:40, 5:55 (big hill), 5:40, 5:43, 5:44. The last mile and a half felt like a death march, but I was able to hold form and finish with good even paced splits, even while feeling like I was about to pass out. All and all I've had a good first half of the year, lowering my 2007 5K PR from 17:22 to 16:57 and my 2007 5 mile PR from 28:53 to 27:51. Over the next six weeks I'm going to take a break from racing and just get back to some good old base building. My plan is to follow a Jack Daniels (the coach not the whiskey!) schedule for the next 4 weeks and build up my mileage with a weekly tempo and repetition workout (economy stuff like 8 x 400 w/400 jog) and then I'll follow the 12 week Pfitzinger 8k/10K program and try to run a kick ass 10K PR on my 44th birthday on Sunday, November 9th at the Ann Arbor Turkey Trot.

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Denim - The Osmonds

Live performance from the underrated Brit Pop group back in 1992 on the UK show "Later With Jools Holland". This song always makes me feel nostalgic about my '70s childhood even though a lot of the reference points here are from a British perspective.

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Spiritualized - Soul On Fire (Edit)

First single from their long awaited new album, first in five years. Based on this, I'll probably buy the CD soon. Yes, I still buy CDs -- music is meant to be played loud on nice stereos.

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Bay Days 5 mile - 27:51

I seem to be on a nice roll now. Three weeks ago I lowered my masters 5K PR from 17:18 down to 16:57.6 and yesterday I ran 27:51 for 5 miles at the Bay Days race. Last year in the same race in similar weather conditions, I ran 28:53, so I'll definitely take a 62 second improvement in one year at my age! I was the third master and 13th overall. Next up for me is the Johnnycake Classic 5 mile race in two weeks. This is a super competitive race and it's certified so hopefully I can PR again if it's not too hot. After that I think I'll take a month or so off of racing before hitting the Celebrate Westlake 5 Miler on Labor Day Weekend.

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Joy Division - The Best of Joy Division (Rhino)

With the recent releases of the biopic Control, which focuses on the life of frontman Ian Curtis, and the documentary, Joy Division, interest in the legendary Manchester post-punk band has been as great as ever since Curtis’ tragic suicide in 1980. If for some reason you do not own the group’s two groundbreaking studio albums, Unknown Pleasures (1979) and Closer (1980) (both have just been given the Rhino Records deluxe reissue treatment), this compilation serves as an excellent introduction. While initially inspired by the manic punk energy of The Sex Pistols and The Buzzcocks, Joy Division explored much bleaker terrain. The combination of Curtis’ tortured lyrics and the band’s moody soundscapes, often dominated by Peter Hook’s haunting bass rumblings, led some to call Joy Division the godfathers of goth rock. It’s hard to pick out highlights from a band that was never short of amazing, but some personal favorites here include the dark disco vibes of “Transmission” and “She’s Lost Control,” the orchestral epic “Atmosphere,” the pummeling “Shadowplay,” and, of course, the band’s most famous track “Love Will Tear Us Apart” (see video above). As a side note, it’s nice to see that my all-time favorite track, “New Dawn Fades,” made it here after being ignored on some previous best-of collections.

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For Against - Shade Side Sunny Side

Lincoln, Nebraska’s For Against have been nothing short of great since their formation in 1985 and Shade Side Sunny Side, the group’s first release since 2002’s Coalesced, is the band’s best effort yet. With the return of original guitarist Harry Dingman III, who left the group after 1988’s incredible December, For Against have gone back to a darker, edgier sound that recalls the best of early Factory Records, namely Joy Division and Section 25 (an amazing cover of the latter’s “Friendly Fires” is included here), as well as the spooky atmospherics of Wire circa 154, The Chameleons, and The Comsat Angels. The interplay between Dingman’s guitar pyrotechnics and frontman Jeffrey Runnings’ low rumbling bass on tracks like the slow burning opener “Glamour,” and especially, the smoking hot “Aftertaste,” which strikes with a similar potency to Joy Division’s “Shadowplay,” put the likes of Interpol and The Killers to shame. This is what post punk is supposed to sound like! Lyrically, Runnings is totally on top of his game here with some of his most personal and heartbreaking compositions ever. Songs like “Spirit Lake,” the stark piano ballad “Game Over,” and “Why Are You Angry?” will cause even the toughest soul to tear up.

myspace.com/foragainst

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Brian Diemer 5K - Big Masters PR 16:57.60




















Ran the Brian Diemer 5K in Cutlerville, MI (Grand Rapids area) yesterday and I lowered my masters PR from 17:18 to 16:57.60! This was one of those days where everything clicked. Fast, flat USATF-certified course, tough competition (I was 27th Overall and 7th master -- 9 of us broke 17!) and perfect weather (heavy rains last night lowered the temperatures from upper 80s to about 70 at race time). Outside of the Crim 10 miler, this may be the most competitive road race in Michigan. As the gun went off, I almost felt out of my league. I felt like I was running hard, but people were just shooting out ahead of me and by me. Luckily, I trusted in my pace because it felt 'right' and I hit the mile in 5:33 feeling very relaxed. I knew then that I was on PR pace, so I just kept passing people who were dying ahead of me. I hit 2 miles in 11:03 and still felt good so I knew I would PR barring a major blow up, so I just went for broke. Up ahead I could see a fast masters guy I knew from Michigan who ran 16:49 at Carlsbad earlier this year and he looked like he was struggling a bit, so I told myself if you can catch up, you'll probably break 17. I caught him with about 600 to go and then he passed me again, but I dug deep and pulled away by a second or two in the last 200. This was the strongest kick I have had all year. Just one of those magical days that we all live for as runners!

Note: The official results that were posted yesterday had me listed as 16:57.60, but they've been posted online with everyone rounded up so now I'm at 16:58. No worries! I'm just glad I didn't run 16:59.6. It would have really sucked to run 17:00 on the nose.

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No Need For An Alarm Clock

























































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Lego Roger Bannister!

The original 4-minute mile!














The Lego Version!













Behind the Scenes:

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Columbus 10K Race Report

Record high temperatures were there to great us at the 31st annual Columbus 10K yesterday. At race time it was already over 90 degrees and humid as all hell. That said, Team Run Zone ran great, sweeping 1-4 in the Masters category. Brian Stern led the way with a stellar 35:51 (1st Master, 19th OA), followed by Rob Moore in 36:11 (2nd Master, 21st OA), Ron Dorfeld in 36:58 (3rd Master, 23rd OA) and yours truly at 37:23 (4th Master, 25th OA). The course itself was challenging and I would love do do this race again in more ideal conditions. After a flat first three miles or so, you wind your way off the city streets onto a scenic bike path that is gradually uphill, flowing along the Scioto River. When you come out of the park you then hit an absolutely brutal half-mile climb that takes you back into the downtown area. After that, it's flat and you just try to hang on as best as you can. The combination of the heat and the hill made the last portion of the race feel like an eternity. Anyway, I was really happy with my time. Though I was 59 seconds off my PR, I think that I definitely would have run sub 36 if it was say 60 or 65F outside. That said, racing -- especially in Ohio where it seems like it is either too hot or too cold -- is akin to a surfer chasing that elusive 'perfect wave'. Every once in a while you get that perfect course in ideal weather with lots of competition and it's surfs up! That's what us runners live for.

Here's a photo (LR) of me, Ron and Brian pre-race:

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Cat Days of Summer



















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The Hills Are Alive With Screaming Quads!

Ran my best race of the season today on what was perhaps the toughest road race course I have ever done, definitely the toughest since I started my masters career a few years ago. The Blossom Time Run in Chagrin Falls is a strange distance (5.25 miles), which is kind of cool, as it is a natural scenic loop course with some crazy climbs and tough quad blasting downhills. The official results haven't posted yet, but the clock read 30:03/30:04 as I crossed the line so I was just under 5:44 pace. My 5 mile PR set earlier this season at St. Malachi was 5:44 on the nose (28:40) so I ran a slightly faster pace today on a much tougher (and longer) course. This was a really completive race at the top end (1500 runners overall!). I ran a really smart even paced race and was constantly picked off people throughout, finishing 11th overall and I think 3rd master. No one passed me at all during the race though I was outkicked at the end by a youngster who I caught from my way back -- those kids! Hope this bodes well for the Columbus 10K in 2 weeks and the Diemer 5K in 3 weeks. Didn't taper much at all this week as I've ended up with 53 miles, which I think might actually be a season high for me. After my next few key races, I want to bump my mileage up to the 60-70 range over the summer while trying to maintain the current quality I'm at right now.

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Training Update

Haven't posted one of these in a while, but everything has been going really well as I'm aiming for back-to-back PR races at the Columbus 10K on June 8 and the Brian Diemer 5K in Grand Rapids, MI on June 14. This week my workouts have been especially strong. Last Saturday I did an 8 mile progression run on a hilly course at 6:22 pace, starting at 7:05 for the first mile and run each mile faster until I did the last 4 in 6:13, 6:10, 6:02, 5:56. Tuesday, I did the Aufdemberge interval workout (1600, 1200, 800, 400, 1600 w/ 200m jogs) and ran it faster than ever before, and Friday I hit the hills hard. Next weekend I will be racing the Blossom Time 5.25 miler. Kind of a strange distance, but it's supposed to be a really hilly course and the competition is tough.

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Obama a track fan?!

Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama (someone please tell the Clintons that it's over!) made an appearance at the Oregon Twilight track and field meet in Eugene last night. He's shown here shaking hands with University of Oregon track coach Vin Lananna. Pretty cool. When's the last time a politician showed up at a track meet! There's some video footage of Obama on the meet website too. Check it out here.

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Learning from the masters - Paul Aufdemberge

While there are a lot of dumb things about the internet, it is a total goldmine for training information. Back in my first life as a runner it was much harder to find out what kind of workouts other people were doing. I pretty much relied on what my coaches told me or read articles in monthly running magazines. Now you can find great stuff on a daily basis! This year I have had a lot of luck with certain workouts that star masters guys have utilized. Earlier this year I mentioned the Monoghetti fartlek workout, named after Aussie masters star Steve Moneghetti, and I have also written about Sean Wade, whose training site (listed on my links) is another great resource. Recently, I read an article about Michigan masters star Paul Aufdemberge, which mentioned a killer workout that I have tried several times over the past few weeks. If you are training for an 8K or 10K, I highly recommend it. It really teaches pacing and helps build mental toughness. After warming up for 2 miles or so, go to the track and run a ladder consisting of a mile, 1200, 800, 400, followed by another mile with jog breaks of only 200 meters. The brief rest breaks really make this workout. If you do the first mile portion too hard (like I did the first time I tried this workout) you'll suffer badly at the end, just like you would if you went out too hard in a race. If in doubt, hold back early on! The last mile is especially hard because the workout starts to feel easier and easier as the length of the reps go down. With upcoming 5 mile and 10K races in the next month and a half, I plan on doing this workout a few more times.

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Lakewood Ambulance Chase 5K

Ran a 4-second masters 5K PR today. Really happy with the result. It was more or less the same course where I ran the 17:22 last fall, though for today's race they moved the start a bit further back and the turn-around loop was a little longer. I had heard that the old course was slightly short, so hopefully it was corrected today. In any case, it felt 'right' based on recent workout performances. According to the McMillan Running calculator, 17:18 for 5K is equal to 28:40 for 5 miles, which is my exact PR for that distance. My current race plan is to race a 5 miler in 3 weeks, followed by the Columbus 10K on June 8 and the Brian Diemer 5K in Michigan on June 14. It would be nice if I could PR at all three of those races!

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Team Run Zone

Consisting of former members of Team Good River, Team Run Zone is a new Northeast Ohio masters racing team. We are sponsored by The Run Zone, which is operated by one of our star runners, Ron Dorfeld. More news to follow when the team website springs up.

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Simpsons Spoof Sid & Nancy



Great stuff!

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Pimpin' Myself Out!

I just learned that sales for the company I work for are down over 15% this year and morale in the office is at an all-time low. Lots of people have been putting in their notice this year. Without giving the name of the company away (if you read my resume, you'll find out), I edit press releases for wire distribution (mainly financial) for lots of publicly traded Fortune 500 companies. The job was great when I started three years ago when the company had a bunch of small regional offices. Just over a year ago, after a huge consolidation, Cleveland suddenly became the East Coast hub due to some incredible tax breaks we were able to get to create lots of jobs in Cleveland. Thing is we hired a lot of people and a lot of them have already quit after being here one year or less! The closeness we had in the old Cleveland office seems to have all but disappeared and there are a lot more corporate rules and regulations (see the entry I wrote last year about Rolling Stone being banned in the office for being sexist!).

I need to get out, sooner rather than later, so I've been getting off my ass and shopping around so to speak. If anyone wants to read my resume, I have a link set up to my Linkedin profile.

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Race Report: Old Oak Run 5K

Another 5K and another 'long' course and I've got the proof below! Anyway, today I was 4th overall and the 3rd master at the Old Oak Run 5K. I ran a solid even paced race, hitting 5:34 at the mile and 11:05 at the 2-mile. Those splits felt right based on recent workouts I've run, so I knew if I just held form that I would most likely get a nice masters PR. Somehow I ended up with a 17:31, which I know had to be off a bit as I definitely didn't slow down to 6:00 pace at the end! Anyway, the top master was my Team Good River teammate Ron Dorfeld who ran a 17:06. He clocked the following data. As you can see, Ron hit the actual 5K mark in 16:44, which means I was at 17:09 more or less:

Well, once again Hermes Sports changes a course around and screws up the overall distance. My Garmin had the course at 3.18, and below is the exported .GPX file to MapMyRun.com that had the course at 3.2 miles!

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With Sport Tracks training log you are able to pick up a split anywhere during the run using a GPS waypoint. The one below shows my actual 5K time was 16:44 which is more in line with the way it felt.

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Training Update

Like good rock 'n' roll bands, global warming seems to have bypassed Ohio, but I can feel Spring start to slowly kick in and I'm feeling ready to roll. I've got a 5K race coming up next Saturday and I think I can get damn close to breaking 17:00 for the first time as a Masters runner. This past week I ran 51 miles with two solid workouts. On Wednesday I did 3 x mile in 5:27 on the track with 2:30 rest breaks and that felt relatively easy and controlled. 5:27 pace works out to 16:59 on the nose for 5K so I'm getting there. Yesterday I did a 4 mile tempo run in the metro park in 23:46 (5:56 pace) in windy and rainy conditions and that felt relatively easy too. Short tempos (3-4 miles) are supposed to be run at 25-30 seconds slower than 5K race pace with the focus being on keeping your effort as smooth as possible, so again I hit the exact zone I should have been at for this workout too. This week's plan is for some easy running with a mid-week moderate speed workout. As of today, I'm thinking something like 8 x 400 @ slightly faster than 5K race pace (maybe 5:20 pace) with brisk 200 jogs in :60 for my rest breaks.

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Elephant Stone Podcast Interview

My wife, Bella Vendetta, did an interview with cool UK music podcasters, Frogcast the Podcast. You can check it out here. In addition to the interview, they play some tunes from the label, including "Neon" by Daydream Nation, which was used on a Tony Hawk commercial.

As you know, the label has been on hiatus for about a year though there was a good amount of licensing activity that more than made up for a lack of new release sales. As far as future releases go, I think I'm going to stray away from the mass produced CD business model. CD sales are dying everywhere and wouldn't you know, limited edition vinyl is coming back. Elvis Costello just put out an album that is only available on vinyl or digital download. We're thinking about doing the same thing starting with a series of limited edition 7" singles with screen printed covers done by cool artists.

Getting good at running is more important to me than rock 'n' roll right now, but I don't totally want to shut music out of my life so doing something more low key on a hobby level is a nice compromise and will help make working for the man more tolerable.

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Training Update

I haven't posted one of these in a while because I have a link to my training log on here, but everything is going really well. Did my first track workout of the year on Wednesday, April 2. No that's not a typo -- the weather has been really crappy here this winter. I did the old school Arkansas Breakdown workout (though some people say they stole it from the late great Athletics West club). My high school coach had us do this in the early 80s too. In any case, it's a ladder consisting of a mile, 1200, 800, and 400 with 400 meter jog rests in between. I started at 5K "effort" for the mile and hit 5:31, followed by 4:04, 2:39 and 75. A good rust buster. I'll try to forget that in high school I could start at around 4:45 or so for the mile and finish in like 64! I also ran a very smooth 23:56 4-mile Tempo today, starting at 6:11 and working down to 5:49. My next race will probably be a 5K in mid-April and I definitely plan to do the next Run Ohio Grand Prix event, which is a 5K in Barberton on May 3.

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The People's Revolutionary Choir - The Breeze That Blows

I've raved about PRC before on this website, but sadly they've just broken up. Here's the video from their last single. R.I.P. Long live rock.

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My Adidas

Just bought my first pair of Adidas running shoes since starting my 'comeback' at the end of 2004, a lightweight trainer called the Adizero Tempo. I had worn the Adidas Marathon 80 racing flats back in high school because my idol at the time, Craig Virgin, wore them. They were damn good flats too. These days I'm not tied to a single brand because a) I'm too old to hero worship and b) I'm not fast enough to get free shoes on a regular basis from any shoe company. The Adizero Tempo has a nice ride. When I bought them at Second Sole last week I liked them better than the newest versions of the Nike Zoom Elite and Mizuno Elixir, which were too soft for my tastes. The previous versions of the Elite and Elixir were right on and I loved them and even raved about them here. Why do shoe companies keep changing things? Right now, I wear the Tempos for my regular workouts and the Nike Zoom Jasari+ for my faster workouts. It feels good wearing lightweight trainers all week. As I've become faster, heavier more cushioned shoes have become more uncomfortable to me. Guess I have a need for speed!

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Pain Don't Hurt!

It's the last weekend of March but sub-freezing temperatures greeted us at the Canal Park Home Run Trot 5K race in Akron. In addition to the brutal cold -- the winds were REAL rough out there -- the general consensus was that the course was a little long. It appears that the finish line was further back than last year. My teammate, Ron Dorfeld, had it at 3.17 miles on his Garmin and said that the 3 mile mark was accurate, but that the finish was long. Anyway, to get to the point, I was 6th overall in 17:48 and the second master behind Ron who ran 17:16. Based on my 3 mile split I probably should have been around 17:15, which makes sense based on my 5 mile time 2 weeks ago. In any case, I'm really happy with the race and if nothing else it was a good threshold gut buster as my pained expression gives evidence too. This great photo was taken today by Dan Dudek, who emailed me via the Team Good River site.

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Elephant Stone Records Blowout Sale

Just a quick announcement to say that Elephant Stone Records is having a Spring blowout sale. All CDs are just $5 (including postage). This 'cheaper than crack' offering will only last until June 1.

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Team Good River R.I.P.

Tim Budic decided to shut down Team Good River effective April, so I just wanted to send out a quick thank you to him for letting this masters dude be on the team over the last 6 months. It's been a great experience and a lot of fun, especially competing at the Club Nationals Cross Country Championships in December and enjoying some post-race brews with the guys afterwards. With so much running talent in NE Ohio, hopefully another similar team will pop up. Thanks for all your hard work Tim! I'll be sporting the TGR colors until I get on another team and look forward to busting out a nice 5K this weekend in Akron.

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Beer Drinking Award Winner!


Giving props to Newcastle Bown Ale while receiving my 2nd place Master award at the St. Malachi 5 Mile Race.

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Beer of the Moment: Kentucky Breakfast Stout

(By Stephen Magee) OK if you can run as fast as you can to a store that carries great beer and buy this beer! Better yet ask your neighbor for his hummer, mortgage your house (it will hit your wallet hard at $20-24.00 a four pak) and drive to the store and buy as much as you can. If you are a fan of beer you will know this one, it has been rated and called by some the best beer in America, the best stout in the world, and some other very flattering names. I think it may be the best stout I have ever had. Last night I had several friends over with refined beer palates and they were Wowed by this one. This is the Founder's "Kentucky Breakfast" a stout that is aged for two years in Bourbon barrels. You will get a strong undertone of bourbon in each sip. Who thinks of ideas like this? It is very dark in color almost black, and very smooth with many complex flavors to enjoy while you sip this beverage. ABV 10%, IBU 25, Founders recommends that you warm to at least 42 and serve in a brandy snifter style glass. Heck it is even great tasting from a pint glass. If you buy one beer this year make it this beer. I give it my highest marks. Just stop reading this and go get some. It will be gone soon.

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St. Malachi 5 Mile - Masters PR 28:40

Had a great race this morning at the St. Malachi 5 mile run. I was 12th overall out of about 1,000 runners and the 2nd master behind my Team Good River teammate Ron Dorfeld who clocked a 27:54. My time was 28:40, which was a 13 second masters PR. Really happy with my race as this was a tough ass hilly course. Last year I ran 29:36 here and this year's course was even tougher as they reversed part of it, having us climb up a really tough gradual hill between miles two and three instead of having us run down it. Anyway, this really bodes well for 2008. I think sub 28 is definitely in the cards. My splits were solid and even: 5:43, 5:43, 5:49, 5:47, 5:38. On a funny note, the headband I was wearing flew off of me near the 2 mile mark. I didn't even notice it was missing until after the race but a couple of my teammates saw it fly off of me!

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Hungry Like The Spear Tooth

Just got back from seeing 10,000 BC. Not the best movie of all time by any means, but much better than the critics have been giving it credit for. This Sabre Tooth Tiger, or as it was referred to in the movie as a "Spear Tooth," got me thinking. Man used to have to kill to survive, but now we just sit around in cubicles, getting the life blood sucked out of us as we push paper around and dick around on the computer. Many of us, luckily not me (my wife rocks!), also get further emasculated as we get dragged around to the mall on weekends, buying stuff for our homes to somehow justify putting up with all the work crap during the week. The novel (and movie) "Fight Club" had it right. Men need to learn how to be men again, not in this faggy drum circle kind of way where we get in touch with our feelings, but by pushing ourselves to the limit. Chuck Palahniuk is right -- men have no business knowing what a duvet is! No, not all of us can kick the shit out of each other like in Fight Club, but we can do some sort of sport whether it's pumping iron, cycling, or in my case, competitive long distance running. I never feel more alive than when I'm redlining in a race and my legs and lungs are giving out on me but I keep pushing myself to the limit. Somehow it makes my life more tolerable when I come to the office with dead legs from my workout, numb enough not to give a shit about what gets thrown on me when I get to my desk.

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Great Spira Article on Letsrun.com

There's a really great in-depth interview with Spira Footwear's head honcho Andy Krafsfur on the premiere long distance running website, Letsrun.com. The article can be found here. One of the interesting things pointed out was how the Houston Marathon tried to make Spira disappear... literally! The photo on your right is of the winner, David Cheruiyot. As you can see he is wearing a Spira singlet and a pair of the most excellent Stinger racing flats, which I have raved about in the past. The photo on the left, which is on the Hoston Marathon website is the exact same photo, but Spira has been removed from Cheruiyot's singlet and the photo has been cropped so you cannot see the shoes. Anyway, please read the interview. Really great stuff.

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Kenyan Cross Country Championships 2008

It doesn't get much more competitive than this!

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The Hellacopters - Carry Me Home

These Swedes know how to rock!

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Masters Superstar: Sean Wade

Ever wonder how the best over-40 runners train? Well, Houston's Sean Wade is probably the best Masters runner in the US at the moment and he posts his daily workouts on his excellent The Kenyan Way website. Wade, a New Zealand native, competed in the 1996 Olympics and has a personal best of 2:10:59 in the marathon. He hasn't slowed down too much since then, most recently winning the Masters 8K Cross Country Nationals in San Diego a few weeks ago. In addition to being a competitive runner, Wade coaches hundreds of runners in the Houston area as well as others online. You can print out a sample training schedule on his website. Just plug in a recent PR and the program will calculate appropriate training paces for you. Wade seems to advocate moderate mileage with a good mix of long runs, speedwork and tempo runs.

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Viva Las Vegas

Just got back from Vegas with my wife. I stopped drinking whiskey over three years ago, but I still had the urge to pose next to this Wall of Fame at a cool low key bar called the Freakin' Frog near the UNLV campus. It looks like a hole in the wall from the outside, but it has an amazing selection of microbrews and imports. For a in-depth summary of our trip, visit my wife's blog here.

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The Situation - Why I Can't Relate

An oldie but a goodie from the Situation's 2003 Elephant Stone debut "The Reece Nasty EP". Shameless self-promotion? Sure! So buy the damn thing already.

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Gouchers Make Liz Smith again!

Adam and Kara Goucher were mentioned in Liz Smith's nationally syndicated gossip column for a second time on February 15th!

Here's what Liz had to say:

WE TOLD a while back about the hot running couple, Kara and Adam Goucher. They are beautiful, smart, ambitious and, well - they run fast! (Glam like Posh and Beckham, only less annoying.) The Gouchers are under contract to Nike, and have had even more visibility thanks to Kara's recent big wins in Japan and in New York's Millrose Games.

Now the dashing pair of athletes is being repped by Hal Lifson, who did his PR wizardry for the likes of Nancy Sinatra, Raquel Welch, Lesley Ann Warren and Jackie DeShannon. Lifson also toiled for years as a celebrity scribe. But the culture shift to mean-spiritedness drove him out of that world. (He's working on a book about his tabloid and glossy magazine days.)

Lifson is especially high on the potential of Ms. Goucher, whom he often compares, charisma-wise, to Julia Roberts. He says, "When Kara gets her Wheaties box, that'll be just the beginning!"

More on The Gouchers on their Nike Blog page

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Winter Road Race!

Ran the West End Tavern Chili Bowl 5K race in downtown Cleveland this morning and had a very solid race in some pretty brutal conditions. I ran 17:44 (5:42 per mile pace) for 4th overall and 1st Master (ages 40 and over) in a field of over 800 runners. It was about 15F and windy at race time. Even though I was dressed in my winter racing gear (compression tights, top, hat and gloves) I was still cold as hell as I finished my last pre-race strides. The course wasn't the easiest either. In the past the Chili Bowl run was held on a flat, fast course in Westlake. This year it was moved downtown. In addition to the always rough downtown Cleveland wind, the new course had two decent climbs -- going over the Superior Bridge into Ohio City and then coming back over the Bridge into Cleveland. Anyway, enough bitching since everyone else who ran suffered just as much as I did! I ran a very solid even paced race, hitting 11:30 at 2 miles and then running the last mile in the mid-5:30s before the final .12 differential that makes it 5K. Overall, a nice rustbuster and a good start for 2008. Can't wait till it gets warmer! I feel like I'm in as good of shape -- if not better -- as I was when I did 17:22 in the fall but that race was on a pancake flat course in perfect 50 degree weather.

Oh yeah, they do give you a nice bowl of Chili after the race too!

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Adorable: Footnotes - Best of (92-94)

Adorable was my favorite band of the mid-Nineties, so much so that I named my fanzine after their scorching second LP single “Vendetta,” and still use the Vendetta pseudonym for my writing to this day. Formed in Coventry, England in late 1990, Adorable was lumped in with the then-thriving UK shoegaze scene upon signing to the ultra-trendy Creation Records imprint. That said, their sound was much more aggressive than the likes of Lush and Ride, mostly resembling a more manic version of Echo and The Bunnymen, largely due to vocal similarities between Piotr Fijalkowski and Ian McCulloch. Like the latter, Piotr wasn’t afraid of running his mouth, making for some highly entertaining press interviews back in the day. While it is a little weird to see a Best-Of from a band that only released two albums, it should be noted that Against Perfection and Fake have both been long out of print and this collection of all seven of the group’s singles, key album tracks, and several B-sides flows remarkably well, demanding repeated play even from hardcore fans who have heard this all before. Footnotes perfectly balances the punk-fueled early classics like “Favourite Fallen Idol,” “Homeboy,” (see video above!) and “Sunshine Smile,” with later gems like the intoxicating early New Order-inspired “Vendetta” and the introspective, majestic pop noir anthems “Submarine” and “Lettergo.”

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Threshold is a Masters Runner's best friend

This winter I've been doing a lot of threshold work and the results have been really paying off. While my overall weekly mileage is a little lower than it was last year, I'm doing my Tempos and fartlek runs much quicker, while still holding back enough that I'm not running myself into the ground. I've been consistent as hell all winter with 3 key workouts each week. In addition to being inspired by the quality over quantity approach in the Bannister books I recently read, I borrowed this training idea from an article I read about Mike Scannell, who is from Michigan, and one of the country's top Masters runners in the 5K - 10 mile range. He only does about 30 miles a week, but his 3 key workouts are all Tempo/Threshold-type stuff. Today I did a 4 mile tempo in 23:39 going 6:07, 5:55, 5:49, 5:48 and it felt really easy. Earlier in the week I did my Moneghetti Fartlek workout, which consists of short surges at 2-mile/5K race effort with equal time rest breaks at about half-marathon race effort. It's a 20 minute workout in all and I hit the 3 mile mark in 17:26 going 5:48, 5:49, 5:49. Right now 5:50 pace feels as comfortable for me as what 6:05/6:10 did for me last year, so I'm very excited to race soon. I'm thinking about jumping in a 5K on Feb. 16 -- weather will be a high of 26F -- and will definitely do a 5 mile on March 15.

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The Libertines - Time For Heroes

Looking at Pete Doherty now, it’s hard to believe that he was once the poetic leader of the most exciting band in Britain before drugs, Kate Moss, and even more drugs destroyed him. Now with the release of a ‘proper’ Best-Of album on Rough Trade Records, Time For Heroes, it feels like a little piece of history has been cemented, and that saddens me. The Libertines exploded on the London scene in 2001 with the fantastic single “What A Waster,” and soon followed it up with the equally stunning Mick Jones-produced debut Up The Bracket. A long with the Jones studio connection, the band sounded quite a bit like The Clash, circa London Calling, as well as another legendary punk-era band with a chemically troubled frontman, The Only Ones. In addition to the striking vocal similarities between Doherty and Strummer/Jones, songs like “Tell The King,” “What Katie Did,” and “What Became Of The Likely Lads” have a similar down and out romantic vibe to Clash classics like “Lost In The Supermarket” or The Only Ones’ immortal “Another Girl, Another Planet.” Even if you already own Up The Bracket and the second and final self-titled album, Time For Heroes is still highly recommended for some non-LP bonuses, including “What A Waster” and it’s crushing B-Side “Mayday.”

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Training Update

I haven't been posting these as much because I figure anyone who is interested can read my workouts on my Training Log link. That said, my running has been going really well. I've had some really solid workouts over the past few weeks, including a very easy feeling 24:04 4-mile tempo run last week and a session of 3 x mile with 2:00 rest in 5:48, 5:40, 5:35 in very cold and windy conditions this past Thursday. Really looking forward to racing soon. I may jump into a winter 5K in 2 weeks and will definitely race the St. Malachi 5 miler in mid-March, which is the first big race of the season here in Cleveland.

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The Tamborines - Sally O'Gannon EP

I first heard The Tamborines a few years ago when I was visiting San Francisco and a pretty connected friend of mine played me a bunch of cool stuff by some then unsigned bands from the UK, including The Morning After Girls, The Lea Shores, and The Tamborines. He was also kind enough to make me a sweet CD mix, which I have been playing to this day. At the time I did not know that The Tamborines, though based in London, were actually from Brazil because damn if they don’t sound like the perfect marriage of the early Dandy Warhols and Ride. Fronted by former fanzine editor Henrique Laurindo on vocals and guitar and Lulu Grave on percussion, organ and synth, the band shines on this spectacular all-too-brief four-song debut EP on Planting Seeds Records. The title track and “Come Together” are amazing rave ups full of shimmering guitars and soaring melodies, while “Be Around” has a gentle Byrds-like vibe. The fourth track is a demo version of “Sally O’Gannon,” and while more raw sounding than the proper version, is still quite compelling. Apparently a debut album is in the can. Can’t wait to hear that because the two non-EP tracks on The Tamborines’ MySpace page are flat out amazing.

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The Raveonettes - Dead Sound

From the forthcoming album "Lust, Lust, Lust" due out on February 19. I have an advance of this and it's definitely the best of their three albums. Psychocandy with a Danish twist...

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The December Sound - The Silver Album

Sounding like a cross between The Verve, Honey’s Dead era Jesus and Mary Chain and Primal Scream circa Xtrmntr, Boston’s The December Sound give the current shoegaze scene a much needed kick in the balls on their stunning debut full-length. With way too many contemporary bands in the genre aping the slow, ‘dreamy’ (and far too wussy for this scribe’s tastes) vibes of Slowdive and The Cocteau Twins, it’s hard to forget that many of the legends back in the day like Swervedriver, Catherine Wheel, JAMC, and early Ride were known for their lethal combinations of noise and melody. Fronted by Zack Sarzana, The December Sound take no prisoners on the pulverizing Stooges-like gems “No Heaven Like Hell” and “Maker,” which smack you head on like prime time Mike Tyson punches to the throat. Equally great is the slow burning “Painkiller,” a heady combination of big beats, fuzzy guitars and soothing vocals. At other times, the band takes on a more hypnotic space rock vibe on “Drone Refusenik” and, especially, “Kill Me (Before I Kill You),” a six-minute plus space rock masterpiece that holds it’s own with similarly inclined epics like Primal Scream’s “Higher Than The Sun” and The Verve’s “A Man Called Sun” (perhaps it’s no coincidence that The December Sound reference the Sun in their lyrics too!).

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Elephant Stone meets Tony Hawk!!!

The music in the background of this Tony Hawk Proving Ground commercial is from "A New Dawn" by Elephant Stone artist Daydream Nation off of their second album Bella Vendetta. Pretty cool, eh?

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Roger and Me

No, nothing to do with that flick by Michael Moore (who probably couldn't even walk a mile!). I've been on a bit of a Roger Bannister kick lately after recently reading two books about him. "The Perfect Mile" by Neal Bascomb documents the pursuit of the first 4:00 mile by Bannister, Australian John Landy, and American Wes Santee. Bannister, of course, hit the mark first, but then lost his record to Landy, but came back later in the year to defeat Landy in an epic race at the Empire Games, the first time that more than one runner broke the once unthinkable barrier in the same race. Bascomb's book is a great read, which would definitely appeal to history buffs as well as running fans.

I also just read Bannister's autobiography, "The Four-Minute Mile" (the original title was "The First Four Minutes"), which was first published in 1955, the year after his record breaking exploits. I have the fiftieth-anniversary edition, which includes a new introduction by Sir Roger as well as various other articles he wrote. This book is probably the best book I have read on running. It is an amazing account of post-war life in England and what it was like to be an athlete as well as a medical student in those times and how Bannister managed to train with such a busy schedule. Despite not running nearly as much as elite runners do today, Bannister was genius in his ability to make the most out of his time and employ a scientific, quality over quantity schedule that worked for him. A true Renaissance man, Bannister frowned upon the growing 'professionalism' that was creeping into the sport in the 1950s. He has much more to say about that in his 2004 essay "After The Four Minute Mile," which is included at the end of the book.

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Training Update

I've been keeping the mileage at around 40-45 miles per week this winter and focusing more on hitting quality workouts, and making sure I fully recover, than aiming for arbitrary mileage goals. That said I'm trying to keep my weekly long run at 12-14 miles to keep my aerobic strength. This past week I had three really good sessions: a 6-5-4-3-2-1 fartlek on hills on Tuesday, a 20-minute Tempo on Thursday @ 5:57 pace (6:10, 5:54, 5:47, plus 2:09), and an easy 13 miler on Saturday. I was especially pleased with the tempo because last fall I was doing mile repeats on that loop with 2:00 rest breaks only a tad faster than what I averaged with no rest. Today I ran a Moneghetti Fartlek (named after the famous Australian marathoner Steve Moneghetti). This workout consists of short surges at 5K effort with equal-time recovery 'floats' at about 1:00 per mile slower. Today's effort totaled 26-minutes (4 laps of the Lakewood Park mile loop, plus a bit more). I hit each mile right around 6:00 (my 4-mile split was 24:08). Very windy today so I think it's a good sign that my winter conditioning is going well.

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Spacemen 3 - Revolution

One of the best Fuck Off anthems of all time. This came out in 1988, but still sounds timeless... well other than the Stooges guitar riffs that they ripped off!

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Guilty Pleasure! -- Duran Duran Ordinary World directors cut

While I'm not that big of a fan of the 'classic' Eighties Duran Duran material, I was always a sucker for this early Nineties comeback effort. And I'm not alone. Other people who have praised this song include Martin Carr of the legendary Creation Records shoegaze outfit The Boo Radleys and Rob Montejo of Smashing Orange and now The Sky Drops. Rumor has it that BMLC's rock star marathon runner Robert Cherry is working on a cover!

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Holiday Beer Reviews

My pal Stephen Magee was kind enough to taste test and review a bunch of cool beers:


Tis the season for the Holiday Beer reviews:

Out of the blocks my favorite Michigan brewery comes in with two heavy, heavy hitters! Founders of Grand Rapids brings you holiday cheer with a wet hopped beer called Harvest Ale, this beer is on the wave of the new additions of wet hopped ales. With a smooth yet good wallop of hops this beer will make you smile and beg for more. At rate my Beer.com you can find this brew at a healthy 97/96. I would rather drink a beer than smack it with a number. A true hop-head will enjoy the taste and the novice will get a mouthful of flavor that begs the question why do I not have two? If this is too tame for your gaster, bring in the "Old Curmudgeon Ale" in the squat Founders bottle this brew aged for two years this brings a smack to your mouth that is welcome among the mediocre beers of the season. ABV 9.3% and IBU 50. A deep brown unfiltered beer greets you with a "How's Life"! Try a few if you are at home or out only with a Designated Driver!

Anchor Steam comes in with a tasty spicy brew that greets the holiday season. As always they put out a brew with a different mix each holiday season. Grab a six and enjoy with friends always a welcome holiday brew. This is the 33rd year of a holiday brew from Anchor and it will tingle your taste buds and warm your belly! Drink up and you will have a bigger belly to enjoy a few more! Found in 6-packs and Magnums http://www.anchorbrewing.com/beers/pdfs/Flyer_XmasAle2007.pdf . This beer is well worth a taste and then another! A holiday tradition get a few and ring in the New Year!

A new addition to my list of very nice Stouts is the Brooklyn Brewing Companies "Black Chocolate Stout". This beer will wake up your glass and give you a nice kick. At only $9.00 a 6-pack well worth the price. I am not a big fan of the BBC beers, yet this seasonal beer brings out some flavor! With over a 10% ABV this beer drinks smooth and finishes with the best of them. Grab a 6-pack or a case and you will bring any party a much needed boost. Core stout drinkers will enjoy the rich complex taste. The novice will enjoy the chocolate and then enjoy the beer. Not to be missed. If price is a consideration this is the holiday brew for you.

Last a nice pair from Dogfish Head! If you like going to the extreme, please strap in and grab an "Olde School Barleywine". This beer is over the top! Smooth and full of flavor! Not to be missed! At over 15% ABV this packs a punch. Brewed with dates and figs it is great for the holiday season. Put out some soft Brie and pour a few glasses! Enjoy!!! Also from DFH is the release of "Golden Era" formerly known as 'Golden Shower" this beer is the only Pilsner beer from DFH and at 9% ABV a treat to the drinker of the traditional American sub-par pilsner. Grab a 4-pack and drink up. Crisp and clean with taste, something new for a pilsners.

Just a holiday smattering for all. As always drink more and experiment more, expand your selection and your friends! All the best for 2008!

-Peace Stephen

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Nike - A little less Hurt

Set to Johnny Cash's cover of Nine Inch Nails "Hurt." Check out Bob Kempainen at 47 seconds throwing up all over the place on the way to his victory in the 1996 Olympic Trials Marathon.

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trying to be healthier

Not really a New Year's Resolution, but I've decided to try to improve my diet a bit. I haven't had any soda or red meat in over two weeks and I've reduced my coffee consumption to one cup a day, as well as having less beer and wine. I don't notice anything drastically different though I feel less moody (probably the caffeine and alcohol reduction). Also, when I weigh myself each day I tend to be 2-4 pounds lighter than I was in the fall, which I think is entirely due to not drinking 1-2 cokes each day at work (lots of empty calories in soda). I've been drinking a lot more water and Green Tea at work instead. Running has been going pretty well. It's suddenly in the 60s here though that won't last. Took advantage of that and got in a really good 10 miler today on a hilly metro park course. In the middle portion I ran a 6-5-4-3-2-1 breakdown with half-time jog rests. I really like this workout a lot. It's a staple of the Zap Fitness Team and a real strength builder. As the reps get shorter, you try to go faster while dealing with the shorter and shorter rest breaks. Fun stuff. :-)

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Fantastic Article on Masters Star Brian Pope

It's not every day that a literary magazine will publish an article about running, but this recent piece in Oxford American magazine about masters running star Brian Pope is one of the best I've read on my sport in some time. The 45-year-old Mississippi native is the holder of several national records in the 40-44 year-old age group and has one numerous national titles. Pope is also an extreme example of someone living the running monk lifestyle. He is single, lives alone and survives on a beyond modest income, which comes entirely from prize-money earnings and the occasional work of art that he sells (he is a painter). This reminds me a lot of the so-called surf and ski bums whose entire lives revolve around catching the next wave or mountain.

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