Monday, December 31, 2007

Final Stats of 2007

Since tomorrow starts a new year I wanted to go ahead and post my stats for 2007 and get them behind me so I can start fresh for 2008. 2007 was a great year for me, nothing super fast but considering this was my 1st full year of running I think it was ok. Up until my injury, I was slowly increasing my speed. I ran my first 5K ever September 30th, 2006 and had a time of 37:43. On September 15th, 2007, I set my 6th 5K PR for the year with a 27:38 time. Thats a little over 10 minutes in a years time. That along with running and completing my first full marathon were the running highlights of my year.

On the biking side I really didn't start till May this year when I bought my road bike. The highlight was completing my first Century ride, The Big Dam Bridge 100 on September 30th.

I really wanted to hit the 1000 mile mark running but with pretty much no running since November 18th, there was no chance. Here are my final stats for the year:

Total Run Miles - 789.5
Total Bike Miles - 836.5
10 - 5k's (6 new PR's set)
1 - 2 miler
1- 4 miler
3- 10k's
1- Half Marathon
1- Full Marathon
1- Duathlon
19 Total Races
1- Half Century Ride (50 miler)
1- Full Century Ride (100 miler)

As for 2008, first and foremost I want to get back to running uninjured. I still have hopes of a spring full marathon (Nashville) and a fall marathon. I would like to get my 5K time down below 25 minutes. I am planning on doing at least two Century rides and at least two Duathlons. I have other specific time goals but I won't go in to that much detail. Of course PR's at every race and distance!

Happy New Year to all and I hope all your running dreams come true in 2008.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Last Ride of the Year

Today was my last bike ride of the year and it was a good one. I met some of the Cruisers at Mt Carmel Baptist Church at the usual 1:30pm Sunday ride time. It was sunny but just a little chilly around 52 degrees. I wasn't sure if I had enough or too much as far as clothes on. On top I had a moisture wicking beanie under my helmet. I had a long sleeve under armour shirt on then an LG long sleeve biking pullover to keep me warm. I wore my tri-shorts with my cw-x tights on top of them. I figured this would be enough. Its a good thing I had at least this much because it was actually perfect. If it had been any colder I would have been pretty cold and uncomfortable.

We ended up getting just over 22 miles in at a leisurely pace. There was only 6 of us that showed up. One of the objectives of todays ride was to ride with Charlie W. who was about to hit the 10,000 mile mark on his bike for this year. Thats right, he has rode his bike or will have by tomorrow, 10,000 miles this year! I don't think there has been a day this year that he hasn't ridden. Even if the weather was too bad to ride outside he would get some miles inside on the trainer. 10,000 miles is a lot of miles on a bike. Some people don't get 10,000 miles a year in their car. And this is not his first time either. I think he did it last year too. I think its totally amazing. It looks like I will end up with about 836 miles for the year. Not much compared to Charlie. When I left the church Charlie said he needed 40 miles and he was going to ride another 20 today. I have no doubt he will achieve his goal. Guess its time to start thinking about some 2008 goals for me.

Car Shopping

Shopping for a new car is one of the things I hate worst than anything. Actually it's not so bad sometimes if your just going out and buying one but it sucks when you have a trade in. So, yesterday Annette got her other Christmas present, a brand new 2008 Honda CRV EX-L in Glacier Blue Metallic. I really needed to get rid of my 2004 Ford Truck because it was getting too many miles on it so we traded it in. I plan on driving Annette's 2004 F150 for a while then I'll probably trade it for a new one.

She was so undecided, at first she wanted a white one and they didn't have any. (That was last week) Then Friday she decided that she might like the blue. Then when she was running on the River Trail on Saturday she saw a Saturn VUE and really liked the looks of it. So I told her to swing by and look at the blue Honda on the way home and if she liked it we would get it. So she did and she liked it but also liked the green. That triggered the fun part for me. I had to get my truck cleaned out to trade it in.

This entailed removing my Sirius Satellite Radio, removing my Ham/Fire Department Mobile radio, removing my two way antenna, removing the wiring to the radios, removing the Satellite antenna, bike rack, and tool box along with all the other junk, paperwork etc in my truck. I got that done within an hour probably. Much easier to take out than install.

When Annette got home and I was finished we decided we had to look at the Saturn VUE. So we went by the Saturn of Little Rock dealership and took a test drive in a white one. The outside looked very good, and so did the inside but nothing really fit like the CRV did. We had previously test drove the CRV. Annette did do a test drive of the Saturn but found more negatives than positives. So it was on to Russell Honda to see Stan.

Stan is not your average car salesman. He is very nice, no pressure and tells it like it is. We have had friends and family buy several cars from him and it was always a good experience. After we got to the dealership Annette had to make her decision. Was it going to be the Glacier Blue or the Green? I think I did all the work for Stan as I had to pull each one out in the sun so she could look and decide. The blue ended up being the final decision. It has a grey leather interior, sunroof and all the buttons. Of course it had the required "heated seats". This is a female runners must have evidently.

The new Honda CRV

I ended up taking a small hit on my trade in but after the discounts on the CRV it really wasn't that bad. It seems like anytime I trade something in I feel like I have just been raped but there is not much you can do. High mileage gas guzzlers just are not big sellers on the used market these days. The good thing about a Honda is that trade in values are very very good and the overall cost of ownership over a period of 5 years is about $15,000 less than the competition. This is the first ever new foreign vehicle I have bought and so far it seems to be a very good decision. So now all I have to do is put all my stuff in Annette's old truck. Lots of work to do there.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

The Gift of Running

I had a great Christmas, got to see a lot of family and spend some time with them. The best gift of all was the gift Annette received from her son Brett. He gave her the gift of running. He is 23 and has secretly been running a little and told his mom about it on Christmas day. To top it all off, we all went for a 2 mile walk/run after dinner. A mother, son, sister, aunt and husband all running together. Pretty cool! Well, we really didn't run much. It was more like a 1 minute run, 3 minute walk thing. But, the main point is that Brett got off the couch and is going to start running and he is going to the running clinic too. He has been a smoker so this should put an end to that hopefully. He was pretty excited to run with us all. It's really special when running creates a positive change in someone.

I also felt like I got a gift because I ran a little too and my leg didn't hurt. I didn't do much, but i was anxious to see how it felt compared to the last time I ran which was over a week ago. I may run a mile this weekend but I'm not going to do much till after I go back to the doctor. So, I did get to log 2 miles which is good. I really wanted to run more but I knew I shouldn't. It felt good though!

Also Christmas morning while Annette ran with a few of the Cruisers I did 45 minutes on the bike trainer. I used my new Garmin 305 and set up a screen so I could do heart rate training. I did time in zone 1, zone 2, zone 3 and zone 4. Never made it to zone 5. Zone 4 would pretty much be my lactate pace so I did a lot of my intervals in this zone. This really makes the workout go quick too as you never get bored. I really like my trainer. It's perfect for those cold rainy days. The bad thing is I am wearing my back tire out!

I did get some running gear for Christmas. Annette got me a Brooks Nightlife pullover and another nice pullover for biking when its cold. I got a couple pair of running shorts and t-shirts from some of the others too. So overall I had an awesome Christmas and I got to do two of my favorite things, run and bike. Best of all was the gift of running that Brett gave his mom.

Monday, December 24, 2007

The Real Santa Claus

Christmas Holiday Message

Remember those that can't be home with their loved ones. Happy holidays everyone!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Cold Sunday

This was one day I was almost glad I couldn't run. Annette got up about 6am to go run with the Cruisers and when I looked at the weather, it was like 30 degrees with a 14 mph wind and 20 degree wind chill. I really wanted to go bike with them but not that bad. They had a great run and about 13 runners showed up to run the hills at Greystone.

As for me, I got my workout in late this afternoon. I started with 20 minutes of abs and upper body. Then I moved down to the bike trainer, clipped in and took off. I did a bunch of lactate pace intervals which basically were high speed spinning for 3-5 minutes then a 2-3 minute cool down. This really makes a bike workout go quickly plus I was watching football and listening to the Ipod at the same time. I never used the big ring, I just concentrated on spinning different gears and my cadence. The best I could tell manually counting my cadence was around 130 most of the time when I was spinning. I don't know if thats good or bad. Let me tell you, this will get your heart rate up, even though your not pushing a big gear. Total workout ended up lasting a little over an hour and twenty three minutes.

This is what some hard bike training will give you:
Total calories burnt - 887
Average heart rate - 147
Maximum heart rate - 187

If I don't get to run soon I'll have to do some crazy long distance bike thing. Maybe I'll do a bike marathon on the trainer.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

3 days till Christmas

Three days till Christmas and I still don't have all my Christmas shopping done.

Why can't women be easy to buy for like men?

I have gotten two workouts in so far this week. A 1.7 mile walk with a little running mixed in on Monday night. On Wednesday I did an hour on the bike trainer plus about 20 minutes of upper body and abs. I pushed it a little hard on the bike and my legs were a little sore so I didn't get anything in on Thursday, then Friday is always impossible. Today I was hopeful but all my best intentions didn't work out.

I'm sick of this crappy weather. I'm tired of having to workout inside. I had plans to ride the bike early Sunday morning with the runners but now I probably won't since we are having major winds at the moment and its about 40 degrees and dropping. 7am is calling for 12-15mph winds and about 38 degrees. Not the kind of weather thats fun to bike in, especially when your the only one. So I guess I'll be riding the trainer again tomorrow. Not getting to run sucks.

Could someone send us some spring like weather early for Christmas? I'll even mow grass again for some warm, dry weather.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Christmas comes early

Well sort of anyway. On Wednesday afternoon I got a call from one of my LT.'s on the FD and he told me that they just found out that we were awarded our FEMA Grant to purchase a new fire truck. Probably doesn't mean much to a common tax payer but getting a new fire truck is a big deal. The grant is for $210,000 and we have to come up with like 5% in matching funds. Fire Trucks are very expensive to say the least. In fact any piece of fire equipment is expensive. A good example is an Air pack or SCBA (self contained breathing apparatus) as we call it sometimes. Just one of these is upwards of $6000. Tuesday night we tested some new nozzles we are thinking about buying. One of those was a portable master stream device which sells for $2500 by itself. $210,000 will not even get us the top of the line model truck. A ladder truck runs upwards of $800,000. So if you ever question paying fire dues or the amount you pay on your property taxes each year, just remember what some of this stuff costs. If we don't have the proper equipment to do our jobs, chances are a house may burn down that could have been saved otherwise or one of our firefighters stands a good chance of getting hurt. Also, the equipment and training of the fire department affects your insurance rating which in turn saves you money.

Back to the truck, when firefighters get a new truck or at this point just know that we are getting one, it's like little boys opening Christmas presents and getting that big toy truck they always wanted. My phone was ringing off the wall on Wednesday as soon as the word came out. It was almost funny because everyone was so excited. So I guess what they say is true, the only difference between men and boys is the size of their toys. Even though we didn't have the truck yet, myself and several others were really excited. After driving a 32 year old truck for 12 years, a new truck is a major Christmas present for me.

The downside to purchasing a new fire truck is the fact that you can't just go out and buy one off the lot. They have to be built to your specs. There are thousands of different options on fire trucks. Tank size, pump size, engine size, cab, number of seats, type of doors, types of generators, top mount pump or side mount....the list goes on and on. So, now that we know we are getting the money, we have to sit down and spec a truck, then take bids from different manufactures. It's a long process and in the past has taken over a year to take delivery of a new truck. Luckily for us, we may be able to tag along with Little Rock on some new engines. They have already put in service several new Pierce Contenders and will be doing another order soon so we may spec a truck the same as theirs which will get us a quicker delivery time and a discounted price. So, next week we start the spec'ing or probably arguing over what everyone wants. All I know is that hopefully in about 6 months or less, I will be Captain on a brand new pretty red truck!

I have to thank FEMA and the Fire Grants for making the money available for this purchase. Also LT Feagan and LT Darr for writing the grant on the truck. We have been blessed so far in that everything we have asked for in a grant, we have gotten. This is tax dollars being used wisely to make everyone safer in the country.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Injury Verdict is in

This morning I went to Ortho Arkansas to see Dr. Nix. The nurse asked me some questions about where I was hurting and how I did it. After telling her my quick story she sent me over to X-ray for some quick photos of my lower leg. Didn't take them but a few minutes and I was back to the waiting room waiting to see the doctor.

The first thing he asked me was had I ever been injured running before and I told him not to the point of going to the doctor anyway. Then he said well, you have your first official running injury then. He put the X-ray up on the board and showed me where I had a stress fracture on the upper part of my lower leg. It didn't really look cracked to me but he showed me where the white outline was and he said that was where it was healing from the injury. I guess since I haven't really ran for 4 weeks had helped it heal which is good. The official name for my injury is a "proximal fibula stress fracture." He said these were pretty rare. Of course, I knew I had something weird or rare going on because I couldn't find anyone that had some of the symptoms I had, even on the internet. It seems most stress fractures are in the lower part of the leg and mostly on the tibia. The fibula is the small lower leg bone and the damage on mine is right close to the top almost at the knee. He said this is usually caused from too much pronation and sometimes too many miles. Well I knew I had some moderate pronation but I didn't think it was that bad.

This picture show the lower leg bones. Right below the head of the fibula is where mine is hurt

He asked a lot about my shoes, if they were worn, etc. Then he asked if I had any spring time events planned. I told him I was planning on Little Rock in March, probably the half and maybe the full in Nashville in April. He was really positive and said I should have no problem being ready for those events especially since I had already done a marathon. They put me in some special orthotics to help the healing and reduce any pronation and told me to come back in four weeks. He did say that I should try to not run facing traffic as this would put more pressure on the leg because of the curve of the road. I really had other questions to ask but he was gone and had the orthotics person in there before I could. The nurse told me the best thing to do would be not to run for about 3 weeks and then give it a try before I come back in. Biking or other non weight bearing cross training is ok. I also have to drink more milk for strong bones. I have been taking supplements but I guess they didn't help.

So, I guess its more time on the bike for me. Maybe I can find some other cross training that will work too. So far I haven't found much info on the internet on this type of stress fracture but what I have read seems to lead me to believe that its better than a tibia stress fracture. So, now if I can just find something to keep my cardio and endurance where I was I'll be ok. It could have been worse I suppose. I will still be able to run again in a few weeks.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Ortho tomorrow

Well tomorrow is the big day. I get to go see a Sports Medicine Doctor at Ortho Arkansas. Does that mean I'm an athlete or just dumb for getting hurt? The Doctors name is Richard Nix and he is supposed to be a runner so hopefully he will at least be able to tell me something. The not knowing and trying to figure out whats going on is the hard part. Between that, deadlines at work, and the crunch to get Christmas shopping done I'm not a happy camper. Oh yeah and then there is the cold dreary weather.

On a bright note I went on the Christmas Lights Run with the Cruisers tonight. I wasn't even going to go but Annette talked me in to it. She got Kylie to go with us so i knew I would have someone to walk with. That little girl took off at the beginning though and I ran slowly trying to keep up. Annette and Vicki was there the whole time too so it wasn't bad. I think we got about 1.7 miles in mostly walking. What little bit I did run was more of a limping, foot shuffling run.

Afterwards everyone was invited over to Vicki's for snacks and fellowship. Had some great food and some great company with the other runners. We took Kylie home and she told her mom that she "did 1.7 miles". I failed to mention that I carried Kylie on my shoulders for probably 3/4's of a mile. Made for a good short workout anyway.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Saturday Morning Urban Renewal Workout

It's that time of year and this morning before I could even get my second cup of coffee the pager went off for a structure fire. About 4 minutes later my Asst. Chief arrived on scene to find an abandoned house trailer fully involved and already pretty much on the ground. I responded driving Tanker 2 out of my station with one of my probie's. It was about an 8 mile drive for us from Station 3 and Station 1's crew was already on scene and working fire attack. Station 2 was right behind them. When we arrived my crew was tasked to assist with overhaul and final extinguishing of the fire. First being getting the metal roof off of the still burning wood floor. This took about 3 of us with pike poles to push and roll the roof so we could get to the fire

The wadded up metal is whats left of the roof of the trailer

After we had the roof out of the way we had fire under the floor so we had to pull, chop and hammer our way through the floor so we could get to the fire. This made for a pretty good upper body workout. The ax and pike pole gave me a pretty good workout with all the chopping and pulling.

You can see the fire coming up from the floor

Another view of the smoldering floor

Luckily this was just an old junk trailer behind another one so nothing was really lost. I'm sure the owner's only disappointment was that we arrived too soon and left some of the floor.

Marcus putting the wet stuff on the red stuff

We spent at least a good hour and a half putting out the hot spots. Really the only reason being we didn't want to get called out there again. It's always best to spend a little extra time making sure its out. It took approximately 3000 gallons of water to extinguish this fire.

Most of the fire was put out at this point

After the fire I had to do inventory at my station and equipment checks. Then I went to The Daily Grind for coffee and a late breakfast. After I got home I did 45 minutes on the bike trainer which gave me about an 11.5 mile ride. A quick shower and then we were off to the Fire Department Christmas dinner. But before we could leave the house we had a mutual aid call with Gravel Ridge for a house on fire. Station 1 had a crew on E65 so they took the call allowing us to run by Kroger's for some last minute goodies for the Christmas Party. It's always good to get to hang out with the guys and this is sometimes the only time all the wives are there too. Luckily E65 did the assist getting the fire out quickly and getting back just in time to start the dinner. As we drove home afterwards I told Annette this may be one of those nights. Its in the mid 30's now with 25 mile per hour winds and dropping. Has the recipe for another disaster somewhere. Hopefully not, I'd really rather sleep tonight than fight fire.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Attempting to run again

Well tonight was the night. I took my brand new Garmin 305 out of the box, programed it and got ready to head over to the track for about 45 minutes of run/walk. Since the temperature was in the lower 40's it gave me a chance to try out my CW-X running tights also. My goal was to run the straights and walk the curves then see how the leg felt.

I started out with a brisk walk around the track. My marathon partner Jane was there running with Sara. It was nice seeing some people I knew at the track. After a nice warm up I started to run in the first straight. Well, it wasn't good. When my right foot would hit the track I could feel pain. I could still run, but not well. It felt about like it did during the marathon other than when I walked, I could walk pretty fast with no pain at all. I walked probably one whole lap before I ran again. Same thing, same pain. Hard to describe really, but it seemed to be more on the upper back of my calf. So whatever it is, its still not healed up.

It's pretty discouraging to not get to run when you can pretty much feel yourself sprinting around the track. The good thing is I still got some miles in. Even though it was more walk than run, I ended up with a whopping 2.6 miles in 45:25. Thats an incredible 17:04 pace. Probably the slowest 45 minutes I have ever logged but if it helps the leg I'd gladly do more.

I'm seriously considering getting an Ortho appointment but I have heard so many stories of mis diagnosis I just don't know. If I had a good diagnosis at least I would know what to treat and how. As it is now I'm at a loss what it really is. I would have thought that after almost 4 weeks of no running at all, the healing of whatever would have been much further along. As it is now, the only healing I have is that I can walk good again and fairly fast. Maybe I'm just getting impatient and need to give it more time.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Wednesday Training

First off I'm tired of the cold and the rain. Is it summer yet?? The weather is calling for possible snow or freezing rain Saturday. Yuck. I like snow but I HATE the cold.

Today I made room reservations in Nashville for the Country Music Marathon on April 26th. Annette and I both are planning to run the full along with several of the Cruisers. I signed up for a free online training program they have and yesterday was the first official training day they had listed. Well, zero for me yesterday.

Tonight's workout called for cross training so thats what I did. I jumped on my bike and rode the trainer for a solid hour. I really like the bike trainer. It's not as boring as most have said. I get my ipod going and watch TV at the same time. I had a pretty good workout and my heart rate monitor said I burnt 618 calories. My average was about 75% of my maximum heart rate and I was sweating! I normally do a 5 minute warm up in a small gear, then move up to the big ring and start working hard for 3-5 minutes at a time, then dropping down a couple gears to recover. I'll alternate this several times along with working each leg seperatly and moving to different positions on my bars. Thats the nice thing about using your own bike and not a trainer, I actually can get used to my triathlon bars a little more. Varying the hand position also works different muscles in the legs so I'll time different positions. On a long bike ride you have to move around on the bars and the more positions you have the better.

After the trainer I did some abs, push ups and some stretching. I may attempt a run tomorrow night. I was tempted to do a brick tonight but I didn't want to push it. My leg doesn't hurt and I only feel it with certain ranges of motion. After almost four weeks of not running, I have about come to the conclusion that I need to run now to get things back to normal. Irregardless, if I do it will be very easy and very short. The ticker has started so its time to get back to training!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Running technique improvement - comparing elite to average

I am not selling this product but the video has some cool running form comparisons. If the cranks were not so expensive I'd probably buy one.

Monday, December 10, 2007


Well about the time I thought I was about to get all healed up, now my leg is hurt in a new place. Last night I responded to an EMS call with the FD. We had a 15 year old male with a self inflicted gunshot wound to the head. In the process of helping get the patient on the backboard, I had to squat down almost to the ground and I could feel some pain in the back of my leg, just above the joint itself. Hamstring maybe? I'm not sure. I just know I didn't bend that way long and got on my knees instead. It probably didn't help that I was trotting to the ambulance to get needed supplies. It's just weird because now my calf feels fine. It's probably one of those tendons that is not quite all healed up yet. I really don't think it's that bad, just need a few more days.

I'm so ready to start running again. Thank goodness I have the bike I can ride inside or outside. And today I received my new Garmin 305 from UPS that I ordered from I'm not even going to take it out of the box until I start back running.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Cruiser Christmas Party

We had our Cabot Cruiser running club Christmas party tonight and it was awesome. There was so many people there and too many to mention. Next year we may have to find a facility as the club has just about outgrown the homes. It was potluck and there was tons of food along with great fellowship. It's always good to get to just sit around and talk to your running buddies.

While I couldn't walk right after the marathon I needed something to do so during Thanksgiving week I made a video with music for the club members. It has photos of several of our races and training runs in it and is about 13 minutes long. I wanted to post the video itself here but I haven't been able to yet so here is the link for now. Take a look and enjoy.

Indoor Bike Trainer

I broke down today and bought me an indoor bike trainer so I could get in some good workouts when I couldn't ride outside. We have an old exercise bike but that is nothing like riding your own bike. With this I can even clip in, shift gears and change positions on the bars. About the only thing I can't do with it is balancing. Rollers would be the way to go for that but those just seem too risky inside. Maybe out in the middle of the garage or something. I did get a 30 minute hard workout in this afternoon while watching one of the bike races in Europe I had recorded on the DVR. I didn't want to do too much till I saw how my leg would feel but so far so good. The trainer will allow me to ride at night, rain, sleet or snow so I hope that I won't get too bored with it. Another thing I can do is make different adjustments on the bike and test them on the trainer. It beats an exercise bike for sure.

I don't think Annette will let me keep it in the living room though!

Friday, December 7, 2007

December 7th

So I wonder how many people out there know what significant event happened on December 7th? Probably not as many as there should be and if you don't, shame on you. Most of us know where we were and what we were doing on September 11th, 2001 and will never forget that. I know I won't. My dad is 90 years old and he can vividly tell me exactly where he was and what he was doing on December 7th, 1941. Ok, if you don't know, this was the day the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. This was a life changing event for our forefathers as 9/11 has been for a lot of us.

So today, take a minute and remember those that fought and those that gave their lives so that we could be a free country. Support our troops and most of all Never Forget!!!!

Thursday, December 6, 2007

More on Ham Radio

I received this in an email today and thought it was fitting to add as part of my previous post.

Oregon emergency officials say ham radio operators the unsung heroes

12/4/2007, 5:39 p.m. PST


The Associated Press

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — When parts of Oregon were overwhelmed by wind and water during the recent storm, vital communication often was lacking, with trees down and across phone lines and cell coverage limited.

Even the state police had difficulty in reaching some of their own troops.

But ham radio worked.

In fact, amateur radio operators were heralded by state emergency officials as heroes. Ham radio is more than just a hobby to some. It can set up networks for government and emergency officials to communicate when other communication services fail.

"One of the problems in this is always communication," Gov. Ted Kulongoski said after a visit Tuesday to Vernonia and a fly-over there and other affected areas. "I'm going to tell you who the heroes were from the very beginning of this...the ham radio operators. These people just came in and actually provided a tremendous communication link to us."

A network of at least 60 volunteer amateur radio operators working along the coast and inland helped from keep crucial systems such as 911 calls, American Red Cross and hospital services connected. They relayed information about patient care and relayed lists of supplies needed in areas cut off by water.

In addition to getting an FCC license to operate, certain groups of operators are cleared by the federal government to work as emergency responders.

"You are amateur in name only," said Steve Sanders, a spokesman for District One of the Amateur Radio Emergency Service, which helped in several key counties hit by the storm.

The Oregon Office of Emergency Management said the radio operators were tireless in their efforts to keep the systems connected.

It was ham radio that kept New York City agencies in touch with each other after their command center was destroyed on 9-11, according to the National Association for Amateur Radio. When hurricanes like Katrina hit, amateur radio helped provide life-and-death communication services when everything else failed.

Amateur radio works on a set of radio frequencies known as "amateur bands" just above the AM broadcast band all the way up to high microwave frequencies. Operators use their own equipment to communicate with other operators, using different equipment and frequencies than emergency responders.

So when some services won't work, they can relay messages.

Sometimes it takes creativity and a lot of leg work, such as setting up a new link on the top of a mountain when no other options are available.

The only major limitation, Sanders said, is the number of volunteers.

"This was just the poster child storm for what we do," Sander said.

Something different

Since I really didn't have any running or firefighting excitement to report I thought I'd share something a little different. Below is a photo of my Amateur Radio Station or Ham Radio as some call it. For those that know nothing about Ham Radio, it has been used for probably over 100 years for communications throughout the world. During disasters, Ham Radio is sometimes the only means of communications. During Hurricane Katrina Ham Radio operators passed emergency traffic 24/7 while normal land line and cell phone service was out of commission. Hams were also embedded with emergency workers to help provide communications. This was just one of many disasters where Ham Radio was used. From wild fires in California to Tornadoes in the south, Ham Radio operators are there to assist in communications. This is all done as volunteers, with some often traveling and staying weeks in a disaster area using their own funds.

My Ham Shack - 2meter/440 radio, HF all band/all mode radio, power supplies, power amp, antenna tuner, computer

There are many bands, frequencies and modes that are used. A lot depends on the atmospheric conditions and also the type of license the operator has. You have to take a test and pass to becoome an operator. It's not like CB radio and a lot of it is very technical knowledge that must be learned. Operating rules are very strict. For more info on what Ham Radio is all about you can follow this link: .

As far as my station, I run a 24/7 Voice over Internet Station through a system called "Echolink". Echolink allows licensed hams to communicate all over the world through computer links. Basically how it works is that the computer and internet are connected to a radio. The internet acts as an antenna allowing an operator to talk into a link through a radio or by computer. It's pretty cool what you can do with it. I once talked to a guy that was driving through the bush in South Africa while I was using a hand held radio. We were both connected to computer nodes in our areas that connected each other together. I have been able to communicate all over the world with this while walking around my house.

During non-emergency times, operators prepare and practice a lot for disasters by running local Nets, contests and just experimenting with different equipment, antennas, modes, etc. We build a lot of our own antennas and equipment. Also during severe weather, ham radio operators man the National Weather Service stations and do storm spotting while driving around. Ham Radio operators along with fire and police departments are the first line of defense when it comes to major storms.

With the advent of cell phones, Ham Radio has seen a decline in the number of operators but cell phone service is not reliable in times of disaster. Two-way radio is the ONLY reliable means of communications during these times. Recent changes in license requirements has allowed more people to get into ham radio so it is coming back some. A lot of it is really old school technology but it also is on the leading edge of digital communications throughout the world.

There is really too much to write about this in one post but I just thought I'd pass on a little of the info on the subject as something different.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Back to the Track

It was back to the track tonight with the Tuesday Night Flyers. We normally run in Magness Creek but tonight we were at the High School track. I didn't actually run any but I did walk 1.2 miles. That was the furthest I have walked since the marathon a little over 2 weeks ago. It may even be the most combined walking I have done since then. It was nice being out with the group again even though I wasn't running the work out with them. Coach Dennis assured me that I was being very smart and doing the right thing by not running too soon. He explained how my muscles will come back stronger than before by letting them rest more. I have been concerned about losing my level of fitness but he told me that after the first week running I'd be back at full speed and maybe then some.

The walking felt pretty good and I did try to walk at a pretty fast pace. It was so hard not to run though. I could sense the speed of the track just walking on it. I just kept telling myself that I was doing speed walk training for my next marathon. The down side to walking is you don't stay as warm. And it felt pretty cold out tonight. The best part was getting to talk to all my running buds. I will probably go back to the track on some week nights and get some more walking in or when the time is right, run a few laps. Soon. Soon we will run again.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Thoughts of 2008

I guess I should be looking back at accomplishments for 2007 but all I can think of is whats coming up in 2008. The 2007 racing season is basically over. I won't be running any more races this year. I would like to be able to run a few miles before the first of the year and hopefully I will be able to. The leg feels pretty good, not 100% but at least 80% right now.

So today I worked up a running/biking calendar for 2008. The Grand Prix season kicks off on January 27th with the One Hour Track Run at Russellville. Thats pretty much it for January. February comes in with the Valentines 5k on the 9th and then the River Trail 15K on the 16th. Last year the River Trail 15K was one of my training runs for the Little Rock 1/2. Not sure yet if I am doing the half or the full. It all depends on the injury and if I can con some other runners into doing the full. It's just so much easier training with a group or at least one or two people doing the same event. I really want that Little Rock medal. It is the biggest marathon medal in the world they say. And it is big!

March has the Little Rock Marathon on the 2nd and then the Chase Race 2 miler on the 8th. The Cabot Spring Fling 5K is on the 29th. April will be somewhat challenging. On the 5th there is the Capitol City Classic 10K and then the next day is the Hogeye 1/2 Marathon in Fayetteville. Then the big question in our running group is which full marathon to run. Several have run Little Rock before so they are not as interested as I am. Nashville has the Country Music Marathon on the 26th of April and Oklahoma City is the 27th. So for now these two are a toss up. I'm sure a decision will be made soon. I have plenty of time to train for either of these and I could do the full in Little Rock and then one of these since they are way over a month apart. Of course that all depends on so many factors. I can't even run right now and I'm planning almost back to back marathons. Oh well, its fun to dream anyway! I'll talk about other upcoming races later.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Saturdays best intentions

I started Saturday with a plan to go get in some bike miles around noon once it had warmed up a little. About 11:30am I get a call from the alarm company saying that we had an alarm going off at our West Little Rock shop. 99% of the time these are either malfunctions or false alarms so the lady told me she would dispatch the police to check it out anyway just in case. About 15 minutes later the phone rings again. I was in my office and the phone was in the kitchen so I knew it was the alarm company so I almost sprinted to get the phone. Bad move. I could feel it in my right leg. I didn't hurt it, but it just told me that I'm not ready to run yet.

So I get the phone and the lady tells me that evidently someone failed to lock the door properly and that the police wanted me there to check the building. So, I had to drive 35-40 minutes to West Little Rock to meet the police. Luckily no one had been in the building and nothing was missing. Needless to say, I wasn't a happy camper.

To make matters worse, people were just driving crazy. I almost had three people run into me and I was driving the big red 4x4 truck. What the heck was people thinking when they can't see me and try to cut in my lane?? By the time I got some lunch and got back home, loading the bike and heading back over to the River Trail was the last thing I wanted to do. I did manage to clean the leaves out of the pool a little then I aired the tires up on my comfort bike and rode it around the block just to see what it felt like. Well, it wouldn't be a good day for biking anyway, the wind was blowing about 20 miles an hour it felt like so I called it quits. The exercise bike upstairs is starting to look better and better. (yuck)

I am so ready to start running again but who knows when that will be. I was hoping I might get a short run in next week but thats looking doubtful. The Grand Prix season kicks off on January 27th so that will be my training goal for now so I still have some time.