Monday, April 25, 2011

The Final Chapter

It's been awhile, I know. And, now, I don't want to make a big deal out this.  But, it's time to say good-bye to this blog.

That doesn't mean I've quit running.  As a matter of fact, I've signed up for a triathlon class.  It doesn't mean that I'll quit writing.  I just don't know what format that might be in the future.  I will tell you that, if I start another blog, I will post a link to it on here.

A lot of things happened over the past two years that have changed my life and my way of thinking.  And, everytime I wanted to come back here and write, I couldn't.  It was too hard.  I had nothing to say or, at least, share.  But, it kept bothering me that there was this blog thing I started but, really never quite had closure on. 

Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed doing this and sharing my experiences with the world.  Along the way, I 'met' people through comments, e-mails, posting on SteveRunner's blog, etc. who eventually 'friended' me on Facebook and, truly, I consider a friend of mine though I never met them face to face.  What a weird, wacky, world we live in.  But, they thought enough about me to do this and I am grateful that they did. 

My idea of starting this blog was to share some of experiences with SteveRunner, traveling, being part of a running group, training for events, etc.  But, life has gotten in the way, that, well, frankly, I'm not that interesting any more.  Steve does a great job on what he does and you should continue listening to his podcast.  I don't travel for work or pleasure as much I used to so, it's not like I can show you places I run when I travel.  And, economics has forced me to take a long, hard look on events I sign up for so, instead of the 14 or so per year I was doing in the past, I only do a handful from time to time. 

Looking back, I had fun with this blog. I used to look forward to doing this and sharing pictures, videos, trying to figure out new ways to make it interesting.  But, when I wasn't writing as much, because of work, family circumstances and other things, I thought it was time to shut this down.  But, it's like saying good-bye to an old friend.  You know you have to but it's a tough thing to do and find the right time to do it.

So, this is my closure.  Those of you, who actually read this throughout its life, I can't thank you enough.  You kept me coming back and wanting to do more.  Those of you who've left comments and told me they enjoyed the blog, I'm still trying to figure out if you were just being polite or if you actually did enjoy it.  :-)  Either way, thank you.

I hope everyone meets their goals in running and life in general.  The number one thing along the way I learned most, whether its running or life, is you are the only thing stopping yourself from achieving your goals.  I KNOW you have or can have the physical capacity to do the things you want to do.  I KNOW IT!!!!  It's convincing yourself that you can.  One of my favorite quotes I read about running (and life) and I'm paraphrasing, 'the courage is not in finishing a marathon but showing up in the first place'.

If I decide to start it up again, I will post where I will be. Peace be with you all. 

Monday, January 24, 2011

2011--Another New Chapter in Life

According to the Mayan calendar, Hollywood and The National Enquirer, this is the last full year of very existence because, in 2012 we are all going to kiss our behinds good-bye.  Don't have enough savings in your 401(k)?  Don't even worry about it because you won't be around to spend all that money you saved.  Kids' Education?  Only if they are graduating this year do you even have to think about.  Go ahead.  Let them take the next year off, lie around the pool, heck, even travel.  Just make sure they are home in time for the end of the world next year.

Me?  I'm making contigency plans just in case they got it wrong.  So, I'm not spending 2011 making up for lost time and entering a race every weekend while I can.  I'll assume I'll see 2013 and spend the year like any other year and try to race a normal schedule.

2010 took an emotional toll on me where exercising, running and competing took a back burner.  I thought I lost my competitive edge and wondered how to get it back.  It wasn't the love I lost.  It was the heart.  There is only so much you can deal with at the same time.  And, somehow, stressing myself out to train or participate in a race wasn't in the cards.  And, I thought there was something wrong with me.  Turns out there wasn't.  Just being human last year.

So the goals this year are:  Half-marathon sometime in the spring, a tri here and there, marathon in the fall in tribute to those I've lost over the past few years.  I'm not following any training schedule but I am preparing myself to get better.  I'm upping my running mileage during the week, doing dreadmill work, and wanting to get my basement heated to use for exercise useage especially strength training.  That might not be much but it's a heck of a lot better than I've done in awhile.  There is some stuff that lingers from 2010 that I'm still dealing with.  But, I know the times I've been out and exercising, it's been a lot easier to deal iwth. 

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Much to My Surprise....

Ah, Florida.  The sun, the beach, the palm trees, the COLD?????

Yup.  I was in Florida over the weekend and it was a bit nippy.  Not just Florida nippy.  But, anywhere nippy.  Temps went down into the 40's, which wasn't too bad.  It was the wind that went with it that made it a bit chilly. 

While I was there, I thought it would be a good idea to run one more 5k race for the year.   I've only run two previously this year and found one in Daytona Beach, just a half hour from where I was staying.  Paint the Towne Palmer College 5k starting at the Jackie Robinson Ballpark on City Island at 8a. 

As you'll see from the pictures and video, people were bundled up. 

The course was through the historic district of Daytona Beach and was flat.  Very flat.  The biggest hill was the one you see on the video when we crossed the bridge to the finish line.  I kept on thinking, 'boy, I wished I was in shape.  This would be a perfect course for a PR.' 

I finished in 91st place with a time of 26:47.  Not bad considering.  I always liked to hang around for the awards just in case.  Good thing I did.  Much to my surprise, I finished third in the Male 50-54 age category.  Now, let's put this in perspective.  If I was any other category older than me, the only age group I would have finished in the top three was the Male 70-74 age group.  So, it was one of the those days I was in the right place at the right time. 

Pictures and video from the race below (and my award).  Enjoy!

Entrance to the field

Where you pick up the numbers

Bridge you cross at the finish

Jackie Robinson Ballpark (Home of the Class A Daytona Beach Cubs)

The finish

After the race

Not a great picture but my third place award
The finishing line
Kid's run

Friday, October 29, 2010

A Tribute To My Father

I am trying to adjust.  This new way of thinking, living, doing.  You see, my father passed away earlier this month.  And, even now, almost 4 weeks later, I still can't believe it.  I think it's all a bad dream.  I relive over and over the last conversation we ever had.  Not knowing, it would be our last conversation.  Talking about how great he felt, about my garden, the weather, and not having to cut my lawn for three weeks because of the lack of rain over the summer.  I want to remember every word we said to each other that night but I can't.  Because I thought I was going to talk to him again.

I did talk him.  In the last hours of his life.  I told him that I loved him and he was the best father a son could ever hope for.  He didn't respond.  He couldn't respond.  But, I was assured he could hear me.  And, I thought to myself, 'why didn't I tell him all those things when he could understand?'  Because, in my family, you didn't say it in words.  You said it in actions.  And it was understood because you can see the love in the things we do for each other.

In the first 80 years of his life, my father was never in a hospital.  Not even when he was born.  The family story was my grandmother refused to pay the doctor when he showed up at the house because he wasn't there when my father was born.  ('Why should I pay?  You didn't do anything!')   But the last two years were very difficult for him.  We joked with my father and told him he saved up all his sick time for the those years.

He fought a brave fight.  Never complained.  Okay, only once.  When he couldn't get his driver's license earlier this year.  He didn't want to be reliant on my mother to drive him to get his haircut.  Wanted to do it himself.  Even though he could barely walk. 

The night he was dying, we looked in the Bible for words to comfort us.  We found, what we thought, were the exact words to describe my father in 2 Timothy 4:7:

I have fought a good fight,
I have finished my course,
I have kept the faith:

Dad, I will miss your wisdom, your kindness, your advice, and your love.  I will miss talking about the weather, the garden, the Steelers, fixing things around the house and fishing.  I could never have asked for a better father than you.  The pain is over, Dad.  Rest in Peace.

Monday, September 27, 2010

My Three Sons

(Ernie, Robbie and little Chip)

On September 6, 2010 between the hours of 8:30-11:30p, my dog, Ellie Mae, gave birth to three boys.  We named them Robbie, Chip and Ernie, in reference to the 'sons' on the 1960's TV show, 'My Three Sons'.  Two of the 'boys' were healthy and strong.  One of them, Chip was a preemie.  We knew it was going to be a struggle to keep him alive and healthy.  But, my wife and I decided it was worth the effort and we had to take the responsibility to do so.

For the first week, it wasn't so bad.  Little Chip would get pushed around when he was nursing so we had to keep an eye on him to make sure he was getting his share.  As added nourishment, we were told tube feeding him as a supplement would be good.  We were nervous about doing this as putting the tube in wrong could go down his lungs instead of his belly.  But, after awhile, we got comfortable with what we were doing.

The second week, something changed.  Chip was no longer nursing and was strictly relying on the tube feeding for his meals.  No matter how hard we tried, he wouldn't take his mother's milk.  We had to tube feed him every 4 hours day and night to keep him alive. 

It was hard.  Boy, was it hard.  My wife would set the alarm in the middle of the night and we would both feed him.  One of us would stay with the puppies to make sure they were ok at night.  Little Chip, whose legs and arms weren't fully developed yet, struggled to keep warm and would cry at night as to find his brothers to lay next to them.  We then had to pick him up and have him snuggle to one of his siblings, which would quiet him down.  Until they moved, and we would have to do it again. 

As time went on and I grew more tired by the day, I realized that my past marathon training really was helping me get through this time.  I knew I couldn't give up.  That, this would end at some point and, if I kept going, the reward would be at the end of the adventure.  So, through the tiredness, we pushed on because we felt little Chip was worth it and would make a good pet someday.  As the days went on, he was gaining weight, grams at a time, but still the weight was going up, not down. 

I wish I could tell you this story had a happy ending.  Little Chip died on Sunday, September 26 in the morning. Nature, indeed,  loves her little surprises.  Even though Chip lived for three weeks, he left a mark in our lives, one that we will not soon forget.  In looking back, I can only say we wouldn't have done it any other way except change the outcome. 

So, those who are thinking about doing a marathon or are training for a marathon, know that what you are doing is not just preparing for a race but preparing for things in life that will test your patience, your endurance, your soul.  And, at the end, no matter what the outcome, you will be a better person for it. 

Friday, September 17, 2010

Fat Elvis

Still the mucous monster holds me captive as I enter the third week on what seems to be an endless sickness that I can not shake.  I had to go back to the doctor once again to get another round of anti-biotics and to be scolded (in a nice way) that I shouldn't have stopped my inhaler just because I misplaced it.  The good news is I am breathing once again, albeit, with some periods of utter clogginess that has to be cleared.  I am being faithful to the doctor's orders this time and am taking my meds as prescribed.  Again, I say, I am SO glad I am not running Sunday's the Philadelphia Rock n Roll Half Marathon (nee' Philadelphia Distance Run) as I would be pulling my hair out now worrying about whether or not I should run it afterall.  Luckily, I can sleep in and take care of my health.  (To those who are running, the very best of luck.  It seems they have changed the course this year and the last 4 miles will be on MLK Drive, not Kelly Drive).

But, the lack of races doesn't bother me one bit, though, in truth, I thought they should.  So, why isn't it bothering me?  There is a special edition of Rolling Stone out that names the Top 100 Beatles Song.  I saw Paul McCartney this past summer and he talked about some of the meanings to the songs he wrote as a Beatle.  This peaked my interested as to the origins and inspirations of other songs, so I purchased a copy of the magazine. 

I had the magazine for awhile but, late one night while not being able to sleep, I picked it up and started reading about each song.  There was a picture in it of 'the boys' that John Lennon talked about later in his life as he mentioned he didn't particularly like.  He remembered there was so much going on in his life at the time when the picture was taken, that he wasn't taking care of himself at all and, frankly, didn't care how he looked.  He admits this being the 'fat Elvis' period of his life. 

And, so it is with me.  Not that I've gotten fat.  Maybe a little.  But, since the beginning of the year, I couldn't drive my life with an exercise regime or race schedule.  There were too many other things pulling at me that I didn't want to be responsible for yet something else.  I wanted to let go and have a 'fat Elvis' running period of my life.  If I ran, I ran.  If I raced, I'd race.  But, I didn't want to look at calendars or charts or calories.  

I will one day.  I promise.  I see my friends improving their running while I muddle about.  I'm envious.  That's good.  I think about what location I can go to in order to run a fall half marathon, or, dare I say, a marathon?  So, there is hope.  I just need to be 'fat Elvis' a little longer.

Friday, September 3, 2010

A Yearly Tradition Continues

Though I love this time of year when the weather gets cooler, there is one downside.  Every year, I seem to get sick just before August ends.  This year was no exception.  I'm not sure if it's the change in temperature (though, in truth, was very little change in temperature over the past week as it's been freakin' hot all summer long) or what happens to be flowering this time of year (ragweed, maybe?).

It irrititates me to no end when I'm training for something like the Philadelphia Distance Run (now known as the Rock n Roll Half) and get sick.  Panic mode sets in as when to go out again without coughing up a lung.  Luckily, I have nothing like that on the horizon so I'm just sitting on the sidelines until breathing becomes more of a normal activity rather something optional.  By the way, the diagnosis was bronchitis and very strange how it all happened.

Wednesday of last week, I woke up with a minor sore throat.  'Uh-oh', I thought, 'here it comes.'  It starts out as a cold or persistent allergy symptons.  But, I'm a mere speed bump for colds as it quickly develops into a sinus infection before long.  And, so, it was no surprise when I started coughing on Thursday but well enough to carry out the day at work.  By Friday, well, you have to make a choice here.  Do you tough out over the weekend or go to the doctor and nip in the bud right away?  I'm not one of those people that hem and haw about visiting doctors.  Nope.  Fix me up and get me back out there again as fast as you can.  So, off to the doctor I went.

He listened to my chest, looked at my ears, nose, throat and said, 'well, it's not pneumonia.'  I started at him blankly as I didn't even know that was an option we were discussing.  "OK,' I said, what is?' expecting to hear sinus infection.  'You are borderline bronchitis,' he stated.  What?  How does one become borderline bronchitis having feeling sick for just over a day?  But, there it was and here I am now.

I feel better now.  Sort of.  I can function on most things.  Though eating ice cream is a bit of trick.  (Let's just say it was a kin to having diarehha of the nostrils.)  A couple of more days and I'll be out again soon enough.