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MBA Program Director, marathon runner, live music listener, academic adviser & occasional writer sharing thoughts on education, careers, fitness, music , travel and other passions

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Believe it or not, my first SXSW experience was way back in 1990 and though the experience has completely changed since then, it continues to be one of my favorite events of the year.  For seven straight years now, I have attempted to help TEMBA students navigate the SX waters for maximum enjoyment and as much free stuff as possible.  You can find all of my old posts in the archives, but here’s a link to my first one back in March of 2008, http://trentthurman.com/post/44072907425/temba-gazette-march-7-2008

Note that in that post I recommended going to Antone’s to catch and up-and-coming act out of New York that had just released its first album a mere six weeks earlier.  I went to the show and caught the group, Vampire Weekend, with a couple of hundred other folks.  Fast forward to 2014 and the well known band is one of the headliners for Lollapalooza and other major festivals.  That’s what I love about SXSW.

 I usually post detailed descriptions along with my recommendations, but time got away from me this year, so you’ll have to trust me this time.  If you want to meet up next week, I’ll be at a venue featuring one of these acts.

1)      SKATERS – Their debut album, Manhattan, was released two weeks ago.  This is my pick for the band that will explode this year.  See ‘em while you can…you won’t regret it.

2)      Ski Lodge – This Brooklyn group is literally touring their way to SXSW.  They played Atlanta last night and hit Charlotte, Savannah, Columbus (GA) and New Orleans before hitting Austin next week.

3)      Phantogram – A lot of buzz about this NY-based electronic rock duo…for good reason.  They’ve toured, collaborated and done everything you should do.  Watch for the release of an EP with Big Boi later this year. 

4)      Meg Myers - Meg Myers is from the same part of the world as me, though she now lives in LA.  I love her.  Listen to her single, “Desire,” and you’ll see what I mean. 

5)      London Grammar – Speechless.  That’s the best way to describe me after hearing this UK trio’s ”Hey Now” single for the first time.  Expect similar reactions after next week. 

6)      Lydia Loveless – Rolling Stone said this about Loveless:  “Sounds like Loretta Lynn and Patti Smith slamming shots at a Midwestern dive bar while cowboys and punks brawl out back.”   Does it get any better than that?

7)      Greys – Carpark Records knows talent.  The label of Cloud Nothings (one of my favorite bands), Beach House, Toro Y Moi, Class Actress, Speedy Ortiz and others signed this group last year.  Description on their bio?  “A loud rock band from Toronto.”  Fitting.  Very fitting. 

8)      YC the Cynic – Underground hip-hop artist from the Bronx has released three critically acclaimed mix tapes since 2010.  Describes himself on twitter as “your favorite socially aware/socially awkward rapper.   He should get plenty of attention next week.

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A quick Google search of “Best of 2013 Music Lists" yielded 7,020,000,000 results, so I figured one more wouldn’t hurt.  Below, I unveil my list of the 23 best albums of 2013.  My sole criterion?  I had to see the artist or group perform live.  Luckily, I live in Austin…

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                                       Valerie June at ACL 2013

The 23 Best Albums of 2013

1) Valerie June - Pushin’ Against A Stone

2) Autre Ne Veut - Anxiety 

3) Thee Oh Sees - Floating Coffin

4) Phosphorescent - Muchacho 

5) Unknown Mortal Orchestra - II

                                  Phosphorescent at SXSW 2013

6) FIDLAR - FIDLAR

7) Parquet Courts - Light Up Gold

8) Kurt Vile - Wakin on a Pretty Daze

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                                               Kurt Vile at SXSW

9) Foxygen - We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of People & Magic

10) Happy Hollows - Amethyst

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                  Sarah Negahdari of Happy Hollows, Houston show 2013

11) Portugal. The Man Evil Friends

12) Savages - Silence Yourself

13) Chvches - The Bones of What You Believe

14) Death GripsGovernment Plates

15) NO CEREMONY/// - NO CEREMONY///

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                                      NO CEREMONY/// at SXSW

16) Local Natives - Hummingbird

17) Surfer Blood - Pythons

18) Vampire Weekend - Modern Vampires of the City 

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                             Ezra Koenig of Vampire Weekend, ACL

19) Cayucas - Bigfoot

20) White Denim - Corsicana Lemonade

21) Okkervil River - The Silver Gymnasium 

22) Palma Violets - 180

23) Bleeding Rainbow - Yeah Right

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                          Chilli Jesson of Palma Violets, SXSW 2013

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My note to McCombs students, faculty, staff and alumni:

When asked why he was leaving Texas A&M to take the head coaching job at the University of Alabama, Paul “Bear” Bryant, an Alabama alum, simply said, “Mama called…and when Mama calls, then yu just have to come running.”  

I’m writing today to let you know that my Mama has called and I too must “come running.”  

I recently accepted a position with the College of Business Administration at the University of Tennessee, my undergraduate alma mater.  I will be the Executive Director for Graduate Programs and oversee the full-time MBA program as well as several specialty master degree programs, including accountancy, business analytics and  human resource management.  Further, I will be charged with developing and implementing a new global studies initiative for the college.  

To say I am excited would be an understatement.  The University of Tennessee shaped me in so many ways and I view this opportunity as a way to give back to an institution that has given so much to me.  The college recently hired a new dean and I’m excited to play a critical role in helping the school’s leadership elevate the performance and reputation of all degree programs.

 Now for the hard part.  I often say I have the best job in the world, and that is absolutely true.  I have loved every minute of it and am thankful to those who gave me this opportunity over eight years ago.  I’ve met amazing people, traveled the world and, hopefully, played a small role in helping some of you achieve your goals and dreams.  McCombs is an amazing place and I feel incredibly fortunate to count you all – staff colleagues, faculty, alumni and students – as friends.  It’s been an incredible journey and one that I will always cherish. 

 That journey’s not over yet though.  Thanks to the generous flexibility of both universities, I will assume my new role on August 1, 2014.  This will allow me time to fulfill my obligations and commitments to McCombs, including completing the current recruiting/admissions cycle, overseeing program completion and graduation for the class of 2014 and ensuring a smooth transition for returning students.

 It’s been said that you never really leave a place you love – part of it you take with you, leaving a part of yourself behind.  That’s exactly how I feel about McCombs and the University of Texas, and I have all of you to thank for that.  What started here certainly changed my world and, for that, I am forever grateful. 

With heartfelt thanks,

 Trent

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Tomorrow marks the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.  I will be in Dallas and plan on commemorating the event by running the motorcade route taken that tragic day.  If you want to join me, I plan on leaving Dallas Love Field at 11 AM (Air Force One touched down at 11:39 AM) for the roughly 7 mile run to Dealey Plaza. 

It is highly unlikely I will be able to actually enter Dealey Plaza given the security for the official festivities, but I plan on getting as close as possible in order to observe the official events.  The President was shot at 12:30 PM and tomorrow’s official commemoration will include the tolling of church bells followed by a moment of silence at that time. 

Here’s the route:

  • Left turn from the south end of Love Field to West Mockingbird Lane
  • Right on Lemmon Avenue
  • Right at the “Y” on Turtle Creek Blvd
  • Straight on Cedar Springs Road
  • Left on North Harwood Street
  • Right on Main Street
  • Right on Houston Street
  • Sharp left on Elm Street

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A nice piece in McCombs Today about our MBA leadership training with the Texas Army ROTC.

http://www.today.mccombs.utexas.edu/2013/08/mba-students-take-a-lesson-in-leadership-from-rotc

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On Monday morning, downtown coffee trailer Patika tweeted, “This is the Austin I remember,” likely expressing the sentiments of many others following the madness that is SXSW.  An estimated 300,000 visitors crowded into every nook & cranny large enough to plug in an amp and, in the process, pumped nearly $200 million into the local economy. 

The big names showed up.  At one point Saturday night, you could choose between Justin Timberlake, the Smashing Pumpkins or even Prince.  Well, “choose” may not be the right word as access to these shows was limited.  Prince played in front 300 people, perhaps his most intimate audience since the early days in Minneapolis.    

Palma Violets at KEXP Live Remote

Call me a SXSW purist, but I believe the event should gravitate back to its original intent – showcasing unsigned artists seeking that next break.  Sure, those bands were here, usually schlepping their own equipment from one venue to the next, but with nearly 2,000 total bands in town and media attention naturally attracted to the glitz of the bigger names, it’s becoming increasingly difficult for that discovery to happen.

Anyway, my highlights:

The Must Sees:  I managed to see four of my five “must see acts” and all exceeded expectations.  I have to put Palma Violets and Parquet Courts at the top of the list.  I saw both bands multiple times and each show seemingly got better as the week went on.  That’s saying something considering both probably played 10-12 gigs over four days.

Parquet Courts at Red 7

The Orwells at Scoot Inn

Biggest Disappointment:  The one must see I missed was Foxygen.  I had planned to catch them on Saturday afternoon at SXSJ on South Congress.  Earlier in the day, vocalist Sam France posted a note on Facebook lamenting the loss of his voice and apologizing to fans and his band mates.  Not surprisingly, they cancelled that final show at San Jose.  I guess I’ll have to be satisfied with listening to the We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace & Magic LP until they return to Austin.  

Best Discovery:  I’ll fully admit that the only reason I caught No Ceremony/// was because I had to leave the outdoor stage to use the indoor bathroom at Red 7.  Wow, am I glad nature called!  This was, without question, one of my favorite shows of the week.  Although the mysterious electronic group from Manchester, England has been around since 2011, there’s simply not a lot out there on them.   The group chose to skip the bio on the SXSW website and information on the web is very limited.  I did manage to snap a couple of pictures and can promise that the group’s post-rave vibe will soon make it next to impossible for the band to remain veiled.

No Ceremony/// at Red 7

Best Mistaken Identity Compliment (I think):  Following the No Ceremony/// set, two guys from London excitedly asked me if I was Roddy Radiation from The Specials.  Uh, no…but thanks, I guess?

Most Pleasant Surprise:  When I first heard The Mother We Share last year, I thought it might be the last time we would hear from Glasgow’s Chvrches.  I was dead wrong.  The electro-pop trio was seemingly all over Austin during SXSW and, after falling in love with Lauren Mayberry’s voice on Wednesday, I decided it wise to follow them around as much as possible.  I’m glad I did.   

Too Many Bands/Too Little Time:  I was fortunate to see many great performances during the week; including sets from Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Phosphorescent, Cloud Nothings, Bleeding Rainbow, Metz, Cayucas and Allah Las; yet still only managed to catch 1% of the total number of bands in town.  Alas, that is SXSW.  Thanks to all the bands for making the journey.  I hope Austin was good to you.

Phosphorescent at SXSJ

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For the fourth year in a row, the Texas MBA ranked 7th in the U.S. News & World Report’s study of part-time MBA programs.  I’m very proud of that.  You can see the full rankings here, http://grad-schools.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/best-graduate-schools/top-business-schools/part-time-rankings

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MBA-types call it onshore or domestic outsourcing.  My wife calls it me just being lazy.  I call it brilliant.  Whatever the case, I’m here to tell you about RSVPster.com.    

In previous years leading up to SXSW, I would spend hours researching hundreds, if not thousands, of free shows presented during SXSW.  I would then selectively RSVP for the ones I deemed the best and then meticulously catalog those in an elaborate spreadsheet.  By the time SXSW rolled around, all I had to do was execute the plan and enjoy the music.  It worked well.

This year, for whatever reason, my planning fell woefully behind.  I finally began my research for this year’s event about a week ago.  I frantically searched the web for shows that met my basic criteria:  strong musical line-up, solid venue and free Lone Star. 

After a short while, it became abundantly clear that I simply didn’t have the time required to carefully sort through the sheer volume of parties, shows and performance.  What was I to do?  Enter RSVPster.com.

RSVPster.com claims to be “your SXSW party assistant.”  For a nominal fee, the site will RSVP you to nearly all SXSW events.  I was initially skeptical, but given my predicament decided to give it a shot.  A few hours after I registered, I received email notification that I was “on the list” for the MidCoast Takeover at Shangri La, then came the confirmation for the My Secret Boston Northern Exposure show, followed by Spotify House, and on and on.  At last check, I was “on the list” for 84 shows for the music portion alone and the emails just keep coming.  Looks like this will be a fun SXSW after all.

Unfortunately for you, I am sharing this gem a little too late.  You can no longer register with RSVPster for this year’s showcase.  Ah, but never fear.  You guys are always on “my list,” and I would never let you navigate SXSW alone.   So, as has been the case for the last six years, I am pleased to take the hassle out of your SXSW experience by presenting the must see bands of 2013.  All free.  All fun.  Here we go…

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The Orwells – These guys aren’t old enough to get into most of the venues, so good thing they are the ones performing.  Ranging in age from 17-19 years old, these Chicagoland teens finished high school early to start their first tour earlier this year, so here’s an opportunity to catch a rising rock group that’s going places.  Best time to see them:  Thursday at 1 PM at a free unofficial show at Scoot Inn.  For more info,  http://sxsw.ohmyrockness.com/VenueDetail.cfm?VenueID=512.

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Parquet Courts – A homecoming of sorts for these Texans turned Brooklynites who turned some heads last year after releasing their second album, Light Up Gold.  The band’s lead vocalists and songwriters met while attending the University of North Texas in Denton, so look for a solid showing for the home state.  Best time to see them:  Friday at 3ish PM at Red 7.  For more info,    http://sxsw.ohmyrockness.com/showdetail.cfm?showid=79370.

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Palma Violets – NME named this UK band’s first single, “Best of Friends,” the best song of 2012.  While their initial fan base was developed primarily online, a solid showing at CMJ last year brought them wider acclaim.  Best time to see them:  Friday at 2ish PM at Red 7.  Here’s a 2 for 1 special as Palma Violets will play immediately before Parquet Courts at the same venue.  For more info, http://sxsw.ohmyrockness.com/showdetail.cfm?showid=79370.

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Sallie Ford & The Sound Outside – I love Sallie Ford.  She can drink.  She can yell.  She can raise some hell.  Or so she claims in the lyrics to one of my favorite songs, Bad Boys.  Mashable compared Sallie’s voice to “Ella Fitzgerald and Tom Waits.”  How’s that for range?  The Portland group is a fave in their hometown and picked up quite a following after terrific shows at Bonnaroo, the Newport Folk Festival and as the opening act for the Avett Brothers in 2011.  Best time to see them:  Thursday at noon at SXSJ (between Hotel San Jose and Jo’s Coffee).  For more info, http://do512.com/c/sx2013/event/2013/03/14/south-by-san-jose.

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Foxygen – While this psychedelic/classic rock duo from California has been around since 2005 (when they were both 15), they didn’t release a full-length album until last year.  Try listening to No Destruction (my favorite song of the year so far), without thinking Bob Dylan, which is fitting given Foxygen’s penchant for music from the 60s and 70s.  Best time to see them:  4 PM on Saturday at SXSJ (between Hotel San Jose and Jo’s Coffee).  For more info, http://do512.com/c/sx2013/event/2013/03/16/sxsj-2013-day-four-free.

There you have it.  Enjoy the shows. 

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If you have found this page, you now know I recently transferred my Running Commentary blog from blogger to tumblr and hope you will follow it here.  

Over the last year and a half, I have been unable to keep these posts going on a regular, weekly basis as I originally intended.

My goal with the new site is to provide shorter, micro-blog posts with a lot more photos and graphics.  My first post will appear later this week and feature my music picks for this year’s SXSW.

I hope you enjoy!

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A recent study released by researchers at the University of Texas suggests that exercise makes us smarter.  The study, which was published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, found that students earning A’s exercise at least 30 minutes 3.52 times per week compared to those making C’s and below who, on average, exercise less than 3 times per week.  If this research is true, allow me to introduce you to the smartest man in the world, Paul Terranova.  

 What makes Paul so smart?  Well, in addition to being a graduate of the Texas Evening MBA program, Paul is quite the athlete.  A former Army Ranger, Paul is well known in the Austin running and triathlon community.  He’s a fixture on the medal stand for many distance races and triathlons and even serves as an Austin Marathon pacer for those looking to break the elusive three-hour mark.  

 While those credentials alone are noteworthy, it is what Paul did earlier this year that makes him the smartest man in the world.  In fact, Paul’s feat is so impressive that he is the only person in the world to ever accomplish it.  He calls it the Grand Kona Slam.  Others would simply call it crazy.  

 So, what is the Grand Kona Slam?  The “Grand Slam” consists of four of the oldest 100-mile endurance runs that make-up the “Grand Slam of Ultra-Running” - The Western States 100 Mile Endurance Run, The Vermont 100 Mile Endurance Run, The Leadville Trail 100 Mile Run and the Wasatch Front 100 Mile Endurance Run.  Since 1986, only 234 people have completed this ultra-running juggernaut.  Not only did Paul successfully complete these four races, but was also the top finisher for 2012 and the 8th fastest finisher all-time with a cumulative time of 80:53:58…and he wasn’t done yet.   

Paul had one additional challenge remaining - the grueling Ironman World Championship in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii.   The Ironman triathlon, which consists of a 2.4 mile swim, a 112-mile bike ride and a 26.2 mile run, is generally considered one of the most difficult and challenging athletic events in the world.  Amateur athletes must qualify to participate.  Paul did so at Ironman Cozumel in Mexico last year.  Fresh off four 100-mile runs, Paul completed the Hawaii Ironman in 10:24:39 this October…an astonishing time all things considered.

 For those counting at home, that’s 540.8 miles in 91:18:37.  Put another way, that’s roughly the distance between San Antonio and El Paso, covered primarily on foot within a span of four months. Terranova?  Try Supernova.  

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 I recently caught up with Paul, figuratively of course, and asked him about his impressive feat, the Texas MBA and what’s next.  Here’s what he had to say.

 So, how did you come up with the idea for the Grand Kona Slam?

 The concept for the Grand Kona Slam arose from three different sources of inspiration over the past couple of years.  The first being my friend Lee’s shadowbox on his home-office wall containing just three items:  a Boston Marathon finisher’s medal, a Hawaii Ironman Triathlon World Championship finisher’s medal and a Western States 100 Mile Endurance Run silver buckle (awarded to those who break 24 hours).  When you already have the first two, attempting to get the 3rd is just a matter of time!  

          The second inspiration comes from another close friend Doug who completed the Grand Slam of Ultrarunning in 2004.  Hearing all the stories and tales of how singularly focused and epic his summer was that year, I knew that one day I’d like to give it a shot.  

         Finally, the third inspiration comes following a successful race at Ironman Cozumel in 2011 and re-qualifying for the Hawaii Ironman after having raced there previously in 2005 and 2009.  At the time, only 221 people had completed the Grand Slam since 1986, and none of them had also completed the Hawaii Ironman.

        And the follow-up that I’m sure people are wondering….why?

 Well, as the saying goes, you only live once and what better way to challenge yourself in a variety of ways than to try and do something that’s never been done before?

        Tell us about your training.  How many hours per week did you devote to the goal and what did you do?

 Well, this summer has been a culmination of many years of multisport training, starting with four years of lightweight rowing in college, six years of active duty in the Army, marathon running, adventure racing, triathlons, and, more recently, trail running of distances ranging from 30km to 100km.  My training log would not look much different from a typical marathon runner, except for the extra uphill and downhill repeat sessions, strength training, heat acclimation in the sauna, altitude acclimation treadmill runs, weekend trail runs, and monthly train-up races.  It’s not any one big workout that gets you there, but the compound effect of lots of little ones.  On average, probably 15 to 20 hours per week were devoted to training, not including routine physical therapy and massage sessions to help the body recover quickly.  Most of my runs were in the early morning hours before work with Rogue Running, gym work at Pure Austin, and weekend long rides with my triathlon teammates from Jack and Adam’s Bicycles.

        How did you balance your career and family life with the rigors of training of training?

 I like to think that training keeps me from overworking and work keeps me from overtraining.  As a consulting project manager for HNTB Corporation, I get to work on some exciting mobility projects in Austin - projects that in some cases take years or even decades to complete.  It’s complementary to also have the balance of some relatively shorter-term goals to strive for in my personal life.  Fortunately at home, my wife (and dietician) Meredith has been my biggest supporter this summer and as a result we’ve spent more time together than we ever have in our eight years of marriage.  She’s more of the trail runner in the family, and I’m more of the triathlete, so I’ve been dabbling on her turf this year.  Plus we’ve learned to alternate who has priority for races each year, so when she decides on her next epic year, I’ll be her number one supporter!

 What was the toughest part and was there ever a particular moment when you wondered if you could finish this feat?  

         No doubt the first 100-miler this year at Western States in June was my hardest moment.  It was my first taste of running over 100km and over nine hours, and my legs suffered mightily despite finishing well under the 24-hour mark.  My pacers, Matt and my sister Nicole, kept me moving forward and Meredith was eagerly waiting for me at mile 99 after pacing our friend Aliza to a 3rd place women’s finish.  She was not at all pleased to see me walking and properly motivated me to get running or else!

 I know you had pacers with you for some of the time, but I’m sure it got lonely at times.  What would you think about during those times?  Were you focused on the task at hand or did you try to take your mind off of what you were doing?

         My strategy for most of the runs was to focus on each section from aid station to aid station, typically about 5 to 7 miles, or anywhere from 45 to 75 minutes of running.  Each section by itself is absolutely manageable, whereas the enormity of 100 miles can be bit harder to wrap your mind around.  Along the way, the views, scenery, and fellowship with fellow runners helped to pass the time…not to mention keeping up with nutrition, hydration, and electrolyte balance needed.  Many times I had to virtually pinch myself and give thanks to God for the opportunity to be happy, healthy, and still moving forward! 

 Turning to TEMBA, what about your experience at McCombs helped you prepare and complete the Grand Kona Slam? 

        McCombs definitely taught me the value of prioritizing the activities in your life, the importance of sometimes saying “no” to commitments that don’t or won’t help in achieving a goal, and of course, the eternal value of teamwork.  Very few business objectives are accomplished alone by a single person.  Trying to squeeze in 5 races in 16 weeks meant lots of coordination, planning, and adjusting by our entire team along the way.

 What advice would you give someone considering the TEMBA program?  

         Without a doubt, try and soak up as much information as you can while drinking from the proverbial fire hose.  It will go by so fast - sometimes taking a moment to soak it all in and reflect on the journey you’re on will give you much needed perspective.

 Each Friday morning, TEMBA students and alums meet at Lady Bird Lake for a run, affectionately known as the TEMBA Trot.  Is it true that the Grand Kona Slam was at least partially fueled by post-TEMBA Trot blueberry pancakes at Austin Java? (laughs)

         Absolutely!  A weekly treat of mine this summer has been the post-TEMBA Trot blueberry pancakes with peanut butter and honey on top, and a side of egg-whites too!  It’s important to stay well fueled both while in the McCombs program as well as when training for ultra-marathons.  Offering some small incentives along the way doesn’t hurt either!

 Do you think others will now attempt the GKS?

 2013 will definitely see a number of top professional trail runners attempt the Grand Slam, whether any of them are in a position to qualify or be accepted into the Hawaii Ironman remains to be seen.  If you know of anyone else, send them here for more information: http://www.run100s.com/grand_kona_slam.htm

 What’s next for you?

 So far this fall I’ve been slowly catching up on the long list of home and vehicle maintenance projects that I deferred all summer.   After that, I will begin training in earnest for the 100km USA Trail Championships in Bandera, Texas in mid-January.  I placed 6th this year, so I’ve got some room to improve!

Thanks Paul and, again, congratulations.