Thursday, January 31, 2008

On the road: Guitar and Lute Concerts

It's my concert season again. I'm kicking it off with a 'warm up' concert at MTSU on Groundhog Day - Feb. 2 at 8:00 pm in Hinton Music Hall. It's free, come on by.

As usual, I'll be playing an extreme variety of music. As my colleague Doug once mused , I 'go from Flamenco to Renaissance lute.' Yes, and a lot in between.

Since I've been so wrapped up in running and teaching, I'll be playing many of my old favorites and my usual 'out of the ordinary' stuff. For one, Elizabethan dances on the lute. I say 'out of the ordinary' because very few people have seen a lute, let alone heard one played. I was surprised that in a Music Appreciation class of 25+ students I recently played for, not one student could tell me the name of the instrument! Wow. (Pretty amazing since the lute has been depicted prolifically in paintings and sculpture throughout the ages... so much for culture).

I'll also be playing my trademark Rameau variations - Gavotte et Doubles, a French Baroque harpsichord piece that I transcribed for guitar. If you have 7 minutes, listen to this work, it's a lovely piece with a wonderful chord progression that pushes the limits of the idiomatic contrapuntal possibilities of the guitar (and the guitarist too!) . It starts slowly and picks up momentum through the 6 variations, often times sounding like 2 separate instruments playing together. In the same vein, I'll be playing a Scarlatti Sonata in that set.

I'll be starting with 'Delta' - the blues inspired piece by my colleague Roger Hudson and a Flamenco dance called a Farruca from the Spanish Gypsy tradition. Two other Spanish pieces on the program will include the Homage a Tarrega by Joaquin Turina, and the intense and mysterious Invocacion y Danza by J. Rodrigo. In addition to a few standards by Lauro (Four valses) and Barrios (Las Abejas), I'll be playing my arrangements of two pieces by Brazilian Jazz composer, Egberto Gismonti - Palhacho and Frevo.

Here is my full concert schedule.

At Austin Peay in Clarksville, TN, I'll be sharing a concert on 2/6 with the amazing Chet-style guitarist Richard Smith . . . what a privilege. It should be a great night. The only problem is that I have to drive 300 miles to play the next night at Mississippi State. Ugh!

After I get home on Friday night, as threatened, I will finally come out of a 30 year retirement as a sprinter. I am scheduled to run the 55 meter dash in the Middle Tennessee Valentine Invitational Track Meet at Murphy Center on 2/9. This is a definite go! I'll be running against some of the fastest college guys around, less than half my age. Should be a blast.

Talk about extremes ... going from the concert stage performing classical concerts to running a sprint race in a college track meet. Life is very full these days.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Well... it looks like I CAN run 5Ks


First Place
in my age group
. Third Prize Overall Masters Division. results

With over 1700 registered runners in the Nashville Zoo 5K Race, around 1000 running for time, I can't complain. This was a major race. I was 19th overall, with a 6:31 mile pace.

It was a very twisty slow course. Many tight turns, weaving in and out of park pavilions, running on gravel, mulch, and mud... it is totally amazing I smashed my personal record by more than 2 minutes! It looks like that speed work I'd been doing paid off. It appears my Adidas Adizero PR racing flats helped. Also, I'm exceptionally light right now at 142 lbs. And, I just love running in cold weather. For the first time in a big race, no one older than me beat me. This race is encouraging because, I only started running 5Ks seven weeks ago. I think on a good course, I'll go under 20:00. Evidence that is was a slow course was shown by the winners time, Jacob Carrigan ran only 17:44. He's usually in the 16s.

This is my fifth 5K race since Dec 1. I have increased my personal best in every race I've ever run, so... I'm still 'undefeated'. Never before had I made such a large improvement. It will be a tough act to follow.

I went out extremely fast today, 6:14 first mile. I think that is my best bet, run a fast first mile and finish with whatever I have left. 5Ks are painful races for me. But, my legs feel great and I hope to sprint soon, but that may have to wait until I get a chance to do more sprint specific training.

For winning Third Prize in the Masters overall, I got this gorgeous large coffee table size nature book: Hotspots Revisited: Earth's Biologically Richest and Most Endangered Terrestrial Ecoregions. It's filled with awesome nature photos and narrative, retails for about $65. I love it!

This may be the last 5k race I'll be able to run until March. I have a concert tour coming up and really need to focus on guitar now. This was a great way to end a string of races.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Sprint training, not what it used to be

I wanted to run a sprint race this weekend but I am not ready. My thigh flexor is a little sore and I obviously need the right type of training to prepare. So I've pulled out of the AL Masters Championships. I'm almost ready to resume distance running and start sprint training, and I don't want to get injured.

[UPDATE Sat am: I've decided to run the Nashville Zoo Run 5K today]

I just ran a 20:38 three mile tonight with no pain - 6:52 mile avg. Amazing how different the muscle groups used in distance running compared to sprinting.

When I was a sprinter in highschool and briefly in college, our training wasn't anything like sprinters do today. We'd just lift weights, static stretches, practice starts and ran combinations of distance and sprints.

Today, sprinters do core stability workouts, plyometrics, dynamic stretches, trunk exercises, stability exercises, ankling, high knee running, dorsiflexion, reactive jumps, and a variety of bounds, jumps, skips, lunges, hops....etc

Check out Tom Green's website for some of these power exercises.

Resistance work also is essential. Check out this video of sprinters, some doing resistance work dragging weights.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Ready to fly again, coming out of a 30 yr retirement as a competitive sprinter

Times have changed, but hopefully, my sprint times won't have changed much from high school. Maybe I'm dreamin', but if I can run just a step or 3 slower than I did in high school in the 55m or 60m dash, I could be nationally ranked in my age group. These short indoor sprints, are and always have been, my race. Even more so than the 100m. I've always had an explosive start and quick reaction time.

Yea, I run 5Ks but, I'll never be in an elite class of competitors at that distance. Most good athletes with discipline can train for a distance race, but sprint speed is in the genes, either you have it or you don't. We're talkin' about % of fast-twitch muscle fiber.

Grant it, there are not a helluva lot of competitors for this event in my age group (45-49). The All-American standard for my age group in the 55m dash is 7.2. As a NYS Sectional Champion, I ran 6.5 (hand timed) in high school - (that converts to a 6.74 electronic time). Last year in my age group (M45), the national rankings of 1st to 5th in the 55m dash ranged from 7.27 to 7.47. Not terribly fast. I really have no idea how fast I am now. I feel fast, am in great shape from training for 5Ks, and I'm light - around 144 lbs, exactly my high school weight. But ... I've NOT trained to run sprint races and just found about about the Alabama USATF Masters Championship indoor track meet in Decatur, AL on 1/26. ("Masters" - btw means us old guys). So . . . I am entered in the 55 meter dash in this meet.

Well, I've gone whole hog. I bought a pair of Adidas Demolisher 2 sprint shoes, borrowed a set of starting blocks from MTSU track (thanks Coach Hayes!), and have increased my stretching a lot.

I've just become aware of new tech advances in sprint spikes - the ceramic 'christmas tree' spikes (see below). These are what the elite world record holders are using now. (Michael Johnson used them in his world record setting 200m). I'd never heard of them.

After one day of working with the blocks, my upper quads were too sore to run for a day. Sprinting I know is high risk of injury but I feel I can do it. Coming out of the blocks felt great, like I was spring loaded. If only I had been practicing gun starts for a month, I would be so ready ... but this first race will just be a benchmark for further improvement.

I'll eventually go back to running those painful 5Ks. They are really good for my overall health. But, when I can, I'm going to blast out of those blocks a few times a year and run my race.

I feel fast, but we'll see what the clock says next weekend. A lot of trouble for a 7 second race, but I am as excited as a kid in a toy store. I'm gonna fly.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Healthy Sweets - Apple Crisp

Here at Bill's TN Paradise, a healthy lifestyle and a healthy diet doesn't mean abstinence from tasty sweet desserts.

It's all about ingredients that makes the difference. And if you're like me, you love sweet fruity and nutty desserts.

Here's Bill's Apple Crisp - low fat, no refined sugar, low carb recipe.

Bill's Apple Crisp with dried cherries and walnuts

  • Wipe a glass pie pan with canola or olive oil
  • Peel, core and slice 5-6 apples, since I don't add sugar, I use sweet apples like Fuji or Gala
  • Mix with a couple tbsp lemon juice and dust with cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice
  • Bake at 425 degrees for 15-20 min

While that is baking, make the topping.

Mix approximately:
  • 1/2 c. walnuts (or your favorite nut)
  • 1 tbsp. whole wheat flour
  • 2/3 c. rolled oats (oatmeal)
  • 1/4 c. maple syrup
  • (optional: add a 2 tbsp ground flax seed)
Make sure the entire topping is fully moist w/ maple syrup - I never measure anything, all amounts are approximate!

Take baking apples out of oven. Mix in a hand full of dried cherries (better than raisins, they don't burn), put topping on a little at a time. Reduce heat to 350 and bake another 15-20 min or until the topping is done and crisp.

Did you know, walnuts have the highest Omega 3 essential fatty acids of any nut? Ground flax seed too is a great source. That is the 'good fat' - good for your heart. And.. use pure maple syrup, none of that Aunt Jemimah crap. The less refined the sweetener, the better. I never use chemical sweetners but sometimes, I use stevia, an herbal sweetener, it tastes great on fruit (but it doesn't work in this recipe).

After my last physical/blood work, I guess I must be doing something right. I've dropped 12 lbs and my cholesterol dropped from 223 to 150 since last year. I weighed 143 this morning, I'm feeling really light and fast. Looking forward to my next 5K race.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Running and racing shoes

After running for years in Walmart Dr. Scholl's brand gel soles... (which I do recommend as the best brand of running shoes under $27), I got some real shoes for training and running 5K races.

Training Shoes:

Saucony ProGrid Triumph 4

This shoe really cushions the impact. It has a real soft heel and has made a difference in my knee fatigue.

They weigh 12.8 ounces each and have a super breathable net-like upper that really keeps the feet from getting hot. I like the aggressive tread pattern, great traction without being too wide. For a 'neutral' stride runner.

Racing Shoes:

Adidas Adizero PR

I ran my first three mile trial with these today and I was amazed. I took 40 seconds of my previous days time, and the shoes undoubtedly contributed. These are the lightest running flats available. At an incredible 3.8 ounces, they weigh less than one third of my already light Saucony training shoes.

These shoes were amazingly comfortable. Like slippers, they are ready to race right out of the box. I can't help but believe that lifting a half-pound less on each foot over the course of a 5K would most definitely help race time.... and I need all the help I can get. These shoes are what you'd expect from Adidas. High tech, super comfortable light weight competition shoes but they are a bit delicate, certainly not meant for anything but track or pavement. Not suitable for trails, grass, gravel, etc... I was surprised at how good my feet felt in these shoes. After running my first time trial, I felt these shoes were not lacking in padding or comfort in any way.

I bought these shoes on line without even trying a pair on my feet. I am 100% happy and satisfied and look forward to using them in many races. These are the kind of shoes that can just make you feel fast. Fire engine red and silver!

If I get nuts enough to start sprinting again, I'll be looking to get some of these.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

It doesn't feel like Sunday

... and there is only one person in this world who knows what I'm talking about.

Unseasonably warm and windy. Thunderstorms Tues.
... a welcome reprieve from the low of 9 degrees F. of last week, probably the lowest temperature in years here Middle TN

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Cold weather food - Bill's vegetable stew

Bill's vegetable stew is not an exact recipe, it's different every time depending on what is in the refrigerator.

It sure makes a great and healthy meal on a cold day. I can't believe it didn't get above freezing all day here in Middle Tennessee.

Here's today's recipe:

  • Destem and then finely chop one bunch of kale. (After removing the big stems, wad the kale up into a tight bunch and then chop finely).
  • Put 3 cups water in a large pan, add the kale and bring to a boil
  • Chop carrots, a bunch of celery, and an onion and add to the pot. Reduce heat and simmer.
  • In a mortar and pestle, grind 4 cloves of garlic with a tsp or 2 of kosher salt. Add Italian spices, 6 pepper mix and add a little balsamic vinegar. Add to stew. This is the most important step of flavoring the stew.
  • Add one can of vegetarian vegetable soup, a can of chick peas, and a chopped tomato.
  • (optional - add fish or canned clams)

This stew is hardy, has low carbs, and is packed with vitamins and antioxidant vegetables. It is really a fallacy that adults need to eat a lot of carbs and protein for good health. You're better off eating more fats in the form of nuts, fish, and olive oil than carbs like bread and cereal. (You know, the good fats - like avocado, nuts, seeds, and fish - not the bad fats - like chicken, pig and cow/dairy fat). By substituting more nuts, fruits and fish for the carbs I used to eat, I've dropped 12 lbs and my total cholesterol has dropped from 223 to 150 - 73 points!

Despite the 24 F. degree temperatures, I had dinner by the pool this evening.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Nashville 5K Resolution Run - another personal best

My fourth race in a month and still 'undefeated'... not really, but a personal best time every 5k race I've ever run so far. 22:17 today... although many voiced objections on the chip time. I had 22:10 on my watch. Jimmy who finished one sec behind me had 22:08. The Nashville Striders finish line clock said 22:10 when I finished so my chip time should have been faster than that since that is the 'gun time'. Two other reputable runners said the chip times were off by 7 seconds (slow) and 3 runners with Garmin GPS receivers said the course was 1 to 2 tenths of a mile too long!

OK... enough complaining. 22:17 is still a personal best. Thanks to Jimmy who had beat me 3 times in a row, I finally got him by a few steps today. He made me run faster, so has my running partner T. Peacock.

It was a very hilly course, crossing the Cumberland River twice, extremely cold with a strong headwind on the final mile. Tough conditions to get a personal best, so I'm pleased with the result. My calves are really sore, must have been the hills.


I finished 11th of 49 in the 45-49 age group. What I don't understand is why is the men's 45-49 age group SO much more competitive than the men's age group 35-39?? (I would have been 5th if I were in the 35-39 age group).

I think I'll do one more 5K race before my concert tour/season starts in Feb. - The 5K Zoo Run in Nashville on 1/26.