Progress on Many Levels

It’s still a long shot, but we could be talking about a pedestrienne movie next week.

My post-surgery progress continues. My draining has lessened, my right arm is slowly regaining range of motion, and I’m feeling stronger. However, I still have some numbness in my upper right arm (not unexpected) and we don’t have the final biopsy yet. We should get that on Wednesday when I go in for my follow-up and close the drain.

The following week could be big. I have several meetings scheduled, most regarding the pedestrienne screenplay.

Finally, I’m always looking to simplify and streamline my business. I’ve been monitoring my social media outlets. I have something like nine, including three FB pages. I’ve found myself repeating info and just creating more work with little return.

To remedy that, I’ve decided to end this blog. Most of what’s here is posted on FB page pedestriennes, so if you are logged in there, you won’t really be missing anything, and what you get will be more immediate.

This decision will have no impact on any of our other outlets, including, “View From the Lectern,” our monthly e-newsletter that gives readers tips on overcoming the fear of public speaking.

So we aren’t going anywhere, we’re just streamlining, and making it easier for us to keep up with each other.

Thanks and keep following us,



Minor Surgery? Uh OK, I Guess

“It’s the size of a cantaloupe.”
That was the assessment of my doctor after running a sonogram under my right arm, where a lipoma (fatty mass) has been growing for several years.
“That needs to come out.”
“Can we do a local?” I asked.
“No, came the stereo response from the surgeon and the nurse, with the latter adding, “It’s too big.”
Oh yeah, the cantaloupe thing. Right.
“Did you have a problem with the anaesthesia last time? (He operated on me when I had melanoma three years ago).
“No, I just don’t want you cutting me open.”
He smiled and said, “I understand that. I never operate on myself.”
He continued by saying he didn’t anticipate any problems, that the surgery should take care of everything, but he added with typical and understandable doctor caution, “Never say never. There’s a small chance you’ll need radiation and an even smaller chance for chemo.”
We tried to make a schedule that wouldn’t interfere with my teaching schedule at the University of Dallas. I teach two one hour courses, Tuesday and Thursday afternoon.
Then the nurse said, “The doctor operates on Tuesday and Thursday.”
Just great.
We opted for Thursday, since that gives me five days recovery until the next teaching session.
And by Thursday, I mean today. As in three hours from now.

Surgeon continued by saying the down time should be minimal, that it’s outpatient surgery, and I could probably type and drive the next day, but there would be some muscular pain, “like a pulled muscle.”

Oh, that sounds like fun.
I know this is ‘routine’ and there shouldn’t be any problems, but I will be glad when this day is over. Positive thoughts and prayers would be appreciated.

I’ll keep you posted.


Fatty Mass Has Grown; CT Scan Will Reveal How Much

The lump has grown. A lot.
Three years ago, a CT scan revealed a lump under my right arm. Weird, I never noticed it until then. Afterwards, I couldn’t help but notice. The scan reported it was about the size of a pack of playing cards.
The last two years, I’ve gone to my doctor for melanoma follow ups. (I had surgery in July, 2014).
Earlier this month, on my latest follow, my doctor prodded a bit more than usual.
“I don’t remember that being so big.”
He told me to get another CT scan.
The initial diagnosis was a benign fatty deposit just under the skin. I didn’t notice it much until recently. I feel a new tightness in the area of my armpit. There’s still no pain, but it does get a bit uncomfortable.
So I get another scan this week and let my surgeon make a diagnosis.
My queasy gizzard tells me I’ll probably need surgery, which will put me on limited detail for a while. And of course, it’s the worst time of year for this, since I generally work several track meets in the spring. I work with great folks, the pay isn’t bad, but the best part is that my son, who has mild autism, works them as well. He’s slowly learning the sport, we get some time together, and he adds to his bank account.
My wife suggests I should try and have the fatty mass removed via local, which should cut down considerably on the rehab time. I’m pretty sure the surgeon will want to cut on me, a thought I do not relish.
OF course, that might not even be an option.
So this week, I’ll get the scan, we’ll review the results, and go from there.
I’ll keep you posted.
Positive thoughts and prayers are welcome.


A Strong Start to 2017

Pedestrienne Amy Howard held the women’s six-day walk record for 137 years. Courtesy of National Police Gazette Enterprises, LLC circa 1881.

Late last year, I got a call from HB Wise, who manages the webpage:
CRC covers carries columns and race reports in the world of amateur athletics, mostly in north Texas.
He asked if I was interested in writing for CRC. We got together, worked out some details and now I’m freelancing for them.
I’m thrilled to join other fine writers of this webpage, including Fiona Green, webpage founder, Charles Clines, and others.
I’ve turned in my first two reports. In the first, I traveled to Irving and covered the January 15, 2017 Texas Half-Marathon and five mile.
The second was a column I did on Yolanda Holder’s record performance in Glenadale, AZ, in which she beat pedestrienne Amy Howard’s 137 year old standard for the women’s six-day walk.
I’m scheduled for three stories each month. This weekend (January 28), I’m covering the Flannel and Fleece 5k Run in Arlington, TX.
Also, on March 3, I’ve been asked to be a guest on:
We’ll discuss the pedestriennes, and since March is National Women’s History Month, it should be a good attraction.
2017 is off to a great start.


Explanation for Recognizing New Record

Yolanda Holder battled the elements, but ultimately reached her remarkable goal.

So the question came across Facebook the other day. “How could Yolanda Holder break Amy Howard’s 137 year old record miles walked in six days when, in your book, you said the record had been broken?”
First, thanks for reading—or at least investigating.
The whole idea of Yolanda Holder breaking Howard’s record arose about a month ago after Holder read a copy of, Pedestriennes, America’s Forgotten Superstars.

Why The Record Still Stood

In Pedestriennes, I quote Ed Sears author of, Running Through the Ages as saying that Howard’s record of 409 miles walked in six days stood as the American Record for 103 years.
“So,” asked the questioner, “How is it Holder also broke the record?”
Apparently, all the 20th century six-day distance records involved the athletes running. With regards to that, Howard apparently still held the record for walking six days. I’d never thought about it.
But Holder had.
She, fellow walker Bob Davidson and I did some research and none of us could find a six-day walk record.
By default, the record still belonged to Howard.
At that time, Holder had a PR of 403, and as best we can tell, that was the best since the heyday of the pedestriennes. Now Holder, already mentioned in the Guinness Book of World Records, had a new goal: Howard’s 137 year old record, which she targeted for the Across the Years Six-Day Walk in Glendale, AZ December 28, 2016 thru Jan 3, 2017. She got that by 1.4 miles, and now has the record. But there were other pedestriennes besides Howard.
Next week, I’ll list the top six-day pedestrienne performances, including late 19th century results to what Yolanda has done.


Holder Topples Long-Standing Walking Record

Yolanda Holder after beating Amy Howard’s record.

I’d been checking FB, text and e-mail for hours; actually, for days.
For nearly a week, I’d been following Yolanda Holder’s attempt to break pedestrienne Amy Howard’s 137 year old six-day walk record in a way usually reserved for late September baseball scores.
Holder’s goal was to cover 410 miles in 144 hours. That’s just under 2.85 miles per hour, for six days.
She determined her own walk, rest and eating routine. Her first two days, she covered 82 and 66 miles, for 148. She was in good shape. Then the fatigue, and then rain, that muddied the hard dirt trail she walked on at the, “Across the Years” walk at Camelback Mountain Ranch in Glendale, AZ.
But in the last few hours, with fatigue a constant companion, you could tell it would be close.
She posted a short video at 340 miles, in which she lamented about the rain, her sore legs, and how she needed to complete 80 miles on the last day to reach her goal. She closed it by asking for prayers.
Thanks to fellow ultra-walker Bob Davidson, who continually kept me (and many others) updated with periodic reports at 355, then 360, and finally, with eight hours remaining, she reached 380 miles. The record was right there, sort of. She would need 3.75 miles in each of the remaining hours to reach the magical 410.
“She’s go no margin for error,” I told my wife, Susie, “even a 15 minute break at this point could prove a devastating setback.”
I received no more reports.
I figured she’d had some last-minute stumbling block. Blisters? Stomach problems? More rain? Could she have just collapsed with a few miles remaining?
About 5:00 AM, I finally nodded off.
Just after 8:00, I awoke and immediately checked my FB page.
I saw an exuberant-looking Yolanda Holder, standing next to a large chart, with the results of the ATY race, and her message: I did it…New American 6 Day. Ped Walk record 410 (actually 410.4)Miles of Smiles.
On her face you saw nothing but joy. The struggles of the week, the rain, the sore muscles and self-doubt were all gone. All that remained was the beaming face of a champion.


Holder Poised To Break 137 Year Old Mark

Pedestrienne Amy Howard standing next to one of the Championship Belts she won during her pedestrienne career. Courtesy of National Police Gazette Enterprises, LLC circa 1881.


Amy Howard had set a new, unbelievable mark in her sport. For days, she’d been the focus of San Francisco. All the papers had extensively covered her venture. The San Francisco Chronicle, SF Examiner, the Alta and other publications had followed her progress through her nearly week-long journey. Yet could anyone have known that on May 11, 1880, when pedestrienne superstar Amy Howard set the six-day record of walking 409 miles, that they were acknowledging a record that would stand for more than 130 years?

After all, the pedestriennes were on a high. Although kicked out of NY, they had experienced a remarkable renaissance on the west coast, with Howard’s mark the high point of what had largely been a successful streak for the pedestriennes. In addition to Howard, the previous summer Exilda LaChapelle had earned $6,000; teens Sadie and Alice Donley had each generated headlines, and been embraced by the public, and May Bell Sherman defeated a strong field and picked up $1,234 when she covered 337 miles.

Queen Amy

Others enjoyed success and wealth as well, but no one could top Howard, a one-time actress who set records no one could touch.
But just like in NY, the scandals and public boredom with the sport caught up to them. Quickly the sport collapsed.
So the women’s walking record of 409 miles. Just by the record’s duration, Amy Howard became the pedestriennes’ Babe Ruth. She apparently retired undefeated. A six day walk of 400 miles has only been accomplished by a handful of pedestriennes, Howard, Sarah Tobias(who placed 2nd in the record-setting


CA resident Yolanda Holder is shooting for a new six-day American Record.

race), and in the May 29, 1880 edition of the NY Clipper, the top sports reporting journal of the day, pedestrienne Cora Cushing totaled 401 miles in six days. According to what we have, those are the only pedestriennes who cracked the 400 mile barrier.

Until now.

Howard Long-Standing Record in Peril

She didn’t know it, but when California’s Yolanda Holder broke the 400 mile barrier with 403, that put her just seven miles short of breaking Howard’s all-time record.
Now, she is just hours from going for the record.
From December 28, 2016 thru January 3, 2017, at the Across the Years 6-day race at Camelback Ranch—Glendale, in Phoenix, AZ Holder, who can already claim several endurance walking records, will go after Howard’s.
In the true spirit of late 19th century pedestrianism Holder will, for six days, be responsible for her own eating, rest and sleep schedules. She will need to average 68.33 miles per day, or approximately 2.85 miles per hour, each hour for 144 hours.
Breaking it down like that, it’s easy to see how Howard’s record has stood for 137 years.



The Offers Were Intriguing, But….

This pedestrienne medal is worth way more than the $300 I was offered.

While manning my booth at last weekend’s Dallas Marathon Expo, a guy with a phone began videoing copies of my book, “Pedestriennes” and other pedestrienne artifacts.
After peppering me with questions about the women walkers, I explained how I uncovered this all but lost part of American history. Finally, I handed him my medal, one of only two known surviving awards from the dominant athletes of the 1870s.

What Is It Worth To Me?

He looked at it and said, “Is this for sale?”
“Everything’s for sale for the right price.”
“How much are you asking?”
I stood stupefied; I’d honestly never thought about it.
Finally I blurted, “$500.”
“Would you take $250?”
“No, I’m pretty firm at $500.”
“Let me think about it.”
He gave me the medal, bought a book and left.

Glad I Rejected the Offer….

Until then, I never fully understood the power of the urgency sale.
It was easy to picture him handing me $500 right then; with me handing over the medal.
As the afternoon passed, I thought about what I might have done for another couple of hundred dollars.
“This should be worth a lot more to you than $500,” said a friend who is familiar with the pedestriennes, the medal and me.
And he was right, of course.

….And This One

The next day, my office partner, Fred Campos had lunch with a mutual friend, who is a successful entrepreneur.
Fred gave me an update on their conversation.
“He asked me all kinds of questions about your screenplay,” said Fred, “then he said, ‘Would Harry sell me the rights to his screenplay if I offered him $10,000 today?’”
“I told him, ‘Hell, no.’”
Just like at the expo, my friend was right.

But Next Time…

Now these weren’t deals I found acceptable, but they were offers, and I didn’t pursue them, they found me. And that makes both of them intriguing.
It does make me realize that I might have some assets more valuable than I thought, and I should be prepared for more spontaneous proposals. Most would be low-ball deals, but under the right circumstances, it might actually come to fruition.
And now I’m more prepared to accept….or reject.

CA resident Yolanda Holder is shooting for a new six-day American Record.

CA resident Yolanda Holder is shooting for a new six-day American Record.

Yolanda Holder’s walking accomplishments would equal the best of the 19th century pedestriennes.
She’s the only woman to twice walk more than 100 marathons in a year (2010 and 2012). That earned her mentions in the Guinness Book of World Records. Last April, she shattered the women’s Sri Chinmony 10 day walk standard when she covered 622 miles, beating the old mark by more than 100 miles. In the pedestrienne-friendly distance of six day walks, she’s topped 400 miles three times, a milestone beaten by only a three or four pedestriennes.
And the Corona, California resident is 58 years old.
But she’s not about age; she’s about setting records.

And she wants Amy Howard’s

Holder’s six day PR of 403 still leaves her a bit short of Amy Howard’s remarkable performance, which has stood for nearly 137 years.
From May 5-10, 1880 in San Francisco’s Mechanics’ Pavilion Howard, a teen actress turned pedestrienne, walked 409 miles in six days. Howard was the ultimate pedestrienne superstar, who retired apparently without losing to another pedestrienne.
In The Pedestriennes, America’s Forgotten Superstars, I quote Ed Sears, who reported in his book, Running Through the Ages that Howard’s American Record stood until 1984.

Well, Yes and No

The 1984 total included running totals. Holder is a power walker. She never runs. (Even though they were officially walkers, the pedestriennes did occasionally run).
Holder has targeted her record-breaking attempt for the December 28, 2016-January 3, 2017 “Across the Years,” a multi-day, multi-race event in Camelback Ranch-Glendale, AZ. While the 24-Hour, 48-Hour and 72-Hour races will undoubtedly get a lot of attention, the lion’s share of focus might be on the six-day contest.
And she’s got a real shot.

Howard’s Record in Jeopardy

At Sri Chinmony, Holder averaged just over 62 miles for 10 days. To break Howard’s mark, she will only need about 68 miles for six days is certainly doable, maybe easily.
For more on Yolanda Holder and her book, “My Journey to Guinness: “Walking Diva” Walking My Way into the Guinness Book of World Records,” go to:
For more on the race:


Feeling the Accomplishment of Reading a Book

It took a while, but I finally finished, "The First American, the Life and Times of Benjamin Franklin."

It took a while, but I finally finished, “The First American, the Life and Times of Benjamin Franklin.”

I will read about a dozen or so books this year.
And I’m a little embarrassed about that, because some of my friends read much more than that, like triple. And yes, I believe them.
Regardless of how many books I read, I always get a feeling of accomplishment when I finish one. Of course, I don’t finish every book I start. In the sixth grade, I actually bought a copy of Dostoyevsky’s “Crime and Punishment.” I’m pretty sure I got to page 3, but maybe I’m just embellishing my achievement.

Books on Captain Cook and Benjamin Franklin 

About five years ago, I got a copy of The Life and Times of Captain James Cook by J. C Beaglehole. I got to page 40, found it too tedious for my taste, and bagged it. Then a few weeks later, I picked it back up and started over. I muddled through the first 40 pages again then continued. Either I got used to the tedium or Beaglehole got into the swing of things. I finished the entire book of 700+ pages.
I had a similar situation occur a few months ago. I purchased a copy of Dr. HW Brands’ “The First American, the Life and Times of Benjamin Franklin.” Now maybe you are familiar with Dr. Brands. He’s a University of Texas history professor who is frequently seen on the History Channel, maybe most notably on the mini-series, The Men Who Built America.
I was enjoying the book, especially how Franklin recognized early in life that he had been blessed with exceptional talents. And he traveled a lot, especially for the day.


But around page 270, I got distracted. I read two other books, and put down Franklin.
Well, I finished the other two books and finally returned to it.
Beginning at page 270, I couldn’t remember where he was, or how or why he was there.
I tried, but I couldn’t intelligently continue, hoping to pick up all the missing scenes. But I was at page 270. And like the Beaglehole, book, it was longer than 700 pages.
But I had to start over.

Sticking With It

It took a while, but last week, I finally finished it. If you credit me with the first 270 twice, it came to just under 1,000 pages.
But it was worth it. Not only did I learn a lot about maybe our most important founding father, but there was that great sense of satisfaction of reading it from the beginning so I could get a greater sense of the identity of this great man.
Now, on to the biography of Bob Hope, and even though it’s only about 500 pages, I’ve vowed to stay focused.