Category: Running

Count Your Blessings

“Name them one by one,”  the song says. So here goes:

1. I’m running, not far or fast, but pain-free for the first time in quite a while. I’ve shifted my foot strike from my heel, which is where it’s been since fourth grade, to my forefoot. “Barefooting” as it’s sometimes called. I don’t exactly run barefoot on asphalt (ouch!), but I do use a “minimalist” training shoe, the Nike Free. This is supposed to be more “natural,” the way you were meant to run back in the day when your survival meant eluding a predator such as a saber-toothed tiger or that annoying herd of mastodons that lived over in the next valley.… Read the rest

Temperature Taunting

I’ve noticed a certain online phenomenon which seems to be on the rise along with the afternoon’s triple digit mercury: temperature taunting.

Temperature taunting occurs when friends in more moderate summer climes such as Seattle, New Hampshire, Michigan or Malibu post some ironic and sarcastic taunt on their blogs, Facebook or Twitter pages about how “godawful” their high-70s/low 80s/low humidity weather is and “However are we going to survive this heat wave?” or some such nonsense. If it were football season (and yes, Roll Tide, our boys reported for practice yesterday), these so-called “friends” would be flagged for a 15 yard penalty and loss of down.… Read the rest

Confessions Of An Old Cold Warrior

I had a very smart man, a rocket scientist in fact (we have a few in Huntsville), tell me recently that America was going to hell in a hand basket. He didn’t say it quite that way because a respectable Christian, Southern gentleman would never drop the “H” bomb in front of the ladies unless he was reading it out of the Bible. But that was the basic gist of it.

He said a lot of things, that we had strayed from the intent of the Founding Fathers to establish a “Christian Nation,” that widespread belief in evolution was the root of much of society’s evil and ills, including increasing teenage suicide rates, and that really things had grown much worse since prayer was banned in public schools.… Read the rest

He Did Jobs No One Else Wanted To Do

Dear Tim,

I don’t usually talk to dead people, but the special circumstances of your untimely death call for unusual tactics. You see, it’s very important for people to know the story I’m going to tell because I think it gives a capsule insight into who you were.

Or are. My apologies; I really don’t know what to say, because I really don’t really know what lies beyond that murky river. I guess that’s why they call it faith. I hope it’s all true, but I can’t prove it. For all I know, you could be sleeping soundly. If so, you can read this when you wake up.… Read the rest

Against The Stream


Saturday dawned, cool and crisp, autumn having finally made its official appearance in these Southernmost parts. Here summer begrudgingly lingers, sending forth its last waves of punishing heat even as the leaves suddenly turn brown (and only rarely yellow or red) and begin their free-fall toward the welcoming ground. Young and old alike consider this disorderly sequence, and the many dark, discouraging signs that surround us in these trying times, and we long for that first refreshing blast of cool. It perks us up. It gives us hope.

Among the pleasures of the past two days was the chance to sit on the banks of the Tennessee River and watch Number One and his University of Alabama teammates compete in their first regatta of the season.… Read the rest


That’s how fast a group of physicists have calculated Usain Bolt would have run in the recent Olympic 100-meter final had he not started celebrating and thumping his chest with 20 meters to go (he still ran 9.69, a new world record).

I don’t know about that, there are a lot of assumptions there as the article points out, but if he really would have ran 9.55 I’d bet that would surely eclipse the longevity of Bob Beamons’ 29 ft. 2.5 inch mark in the long jump which stood from 1968 to 1991.

Bottom line, whatever it is that you’re doing, people, run through the tape.… Read the rest

Bolt Bolts To Second Gold Medal

Sorry. I had to use that one because “lightning strikes twice” was already taken–about a gazillion times.

And this time he even ran through the tape (somebody probably gave him a talking to after the 100-meter showboating).

Yeah, he’s cocky, but mon, can he ever back it up! I like him, and I’m not going to jump on the old fogey bandwagon and start dumping on him. He’s young, on the biggest stage in the world, and he’s totally in charge. The other runners don’t seem put off by his antics at all, but instead seem to like him and enjoy being seen on the same stage with him.… Read the rest

Old Olympic Dreams Never Die–They Just Go Slower

Ah yes, the ol’ missing first paragraph is back:

My Olympic dream died sometime around 1978. The reality was that I could barely crack the top 10 of an average high school cross country race, so there was little hope of me ever mounting the winner’s platform and hearing “The Star-Spangled Banner” in my lifetime.

And here’s the rest.

Here’s some footage of me running the last lap in that charity fundraiser at Harding University in 1983.

And here I am today with my Sunday morning running buddies, “Team Wannabe” (that’s actual speed, not slow-mo).

Old Olympic dreams never die–they just go slower.… Read the rest

My Olympic Dream Dead? Not So Fast!

For Jim Ryun, his Olympic dream of winning a gold medal went unfulfilled. He failed to qualify for the 1500 meter final in 1964 (he was still in high school, though) and then finished second to Kip Keino in the high altitude air at Mexico City in 1968.

But the most bitter disappointment came in 1972 when he was tripped by another runner in a qualifying heat. Although the judges ruled that he was fouled, the International Olympic Committee (IOC), for reasons still not understood, didn’t reinstate him. Dream over.

Still, an Olympic Silver Medal, a world record in the mile and a high school mile record (3:55.3) set in 1965 that stood for 36 years–not too shabby if you ask me.… Read the rest

Me and Ol’ Earl

Okay, so I didn’t really look like Jim Ryun, even though I tried to, and I sure wasn’t as fast as he was.

What did I look like back in 1978 at the so-called “peak” of my running career? Behold:

The ectomorph in the middle is me. I think I may have weighed 130 lbs back then…sopping wet. The blond Adonis on the right who looks like he should be giving massages to rich, middle-aged women at Club Med is Lindsey. Coach Earl “Dude, where’s my car?” F. is on the left.

Now before all you ladies go getting too worked up over Lindsey, I should point out that he never beat me in a race, and we all know how important that is later in life.… Read the rest

The Morning Run, A Reprise

Some of you have been clamoring for a shot of the proprietor of this joint. Well, here’s a shot of me “back in the day” when my morning workout was truly a run and not just a slog:


I sense some skepticism out there coursing the interwebs and emanating from my computer screen. What’s that you say? Is that really the Eyeguy?

Would I ever pull your leg, kid around, be factitious, yank your chain, or otherwise out and out lie simply for effect?

Yup, you bet I would.

Actually, that’s a very young Jim Ryun working out in the 1960s when he was rising to the top of the distance running world and around the time that he set the world record in the mile run.… Read the rest

The Morning Slog

homer_running-754097.jpgIt’s August in Alabama, and that means triple digit heat indexes all across the state over the next few weeks. It’s sauna city the instant you step out the door, and then just try doing anything. The gurus at Nike haven’t even conceived of wicking fabric that can pump away the gallons of sweat produced on a typical Deep South “dog days of summer” afternoon.

That makes exercise in this stuff particularly tricky. Do I go for a morning run and deal with 90% + humidity and less heat, or do I wait until the evening when there’s typically less humidity but the temperatures often stay in 90s up until the time the sun sets?… Read the rest

Where Were You In ’72?

In a few minutes, I’ll lace up my Nike Vomero running shoes (black and gold swoosh for Harding–Hail, alma mater!) and once again hit the pavement for an early morning 5-miler. It’s a habit with roots from the early 1970s, more specifically, the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich, Germany.

I’ve been reminiscing some about that time these past few days as I’ve been writing my next Huntsville Times community column which will appear on August 10th, the opening weekend of the 2008 Beijing Summer Games.

Here’s a sneak preview:

During the 1972 Munich Games, American runners like Jim Ryun, Steve Prefontaine, Dave Wottle and Frank Shorter captured my elementary schoolboy imagination and launched my own much less stellar running career…

…I fashioned a makeshift running singlet by cutting off the sleeves of a white t-shirt and stenciling a crude “U.S.A.”

Read the rest

On Otter’s Summit We Made Our Stand

The last time I climbed Sharp Top Mountain, one of the two Peaks of Otter in Bedford County, Virginia, was in 1997. That year, I was in training for a marathon and had just run my first 20-miler. The very next day, my “recovery” day, I hiked the strenuous, 1.5 mile trail to the top of Sharp Top as if it were a mere stroll in the park.

A lot has changed in 11 years. This year, I only ran 4 miles and then hiked the very vertical trail to the top of Sharp Top the next day. And while I did feel a little more strain than last time, I’m pleased to report that I made it to the summit with oxygen to spare, passing several huffing and puffing younger men along the way.… Read the rest