Throwback Thursday – The Easter Keg

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This weekend is going to be crazy busy – both boys perform at the NYSSMA school music competition, Danny has his girlfriend’s prom, the SAT’s are the following weekend, closely followed by AP exams for both (e.g. loads of study time), there is a concert for both boys on Monday, Lisa has an important work trip next week she needs to prepare for … oh, and I’m going back to my alma mater for the 150th anniversary celebration for my fraternity.

I’m a member of Theta Xi, which was founded at RPI (Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute) on April 29. 1864. The national fraternity (there are chapters all over the place) hosts a national conference every two years in a different location. A few of us went to one in Scottsdale AZ in 1986, then I went to Washington DC in 1988, and then I actually went to the 125th convention in 1989, which was held in St. Louis due to costs of holding it on an off-year. This year the celebration moves to glorious (not glorious) Troy, NY! I have been back to Troy a few times through the years, the last time in 2009.

The big thing for me is getting to see loads of friends from throughout the years, some of whom I’ve not seen since I lost weight coming out of college. I am very much looking forward to having fun, relaxing, seeing the house, getting to watch it get entered into the New York State historical buildings registry, and just spend time sharing stories.

The picture above was from Easter 1986, and is really pretty self-explanatory – Easter weekend we had a keg party, and some of the more artistic and architectural types created this exoskeleton – which of course also had to keep the keg cold! Fun stuff!

Happy Thursday! Were you in a fraternity/sorority? Do you still keep up with your friends and chapter?

Marathon Monday – Who CARES Where the Motivation Comes From!?!

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Today thousands of runners will take the well traveled path from Hopkinton to Boston for the 118th Boston Marathon, with hundreds of thousands lining the streets. It is an event that is always celebrated, but this year also carries some trepidation after the events of last year.

For all those running and volunteering and spectating, I salute you and hope you have a fantastic day (weather looks great, perhaps a bit warm)! And for everyone else out running, thinking of Boston, or whatever – good for you, enjoy the ability to run! I know I do – this morning I ran just over 8 miles in brisk weather that I thoroughly enjoyed, though I still felt the hills from my long run on Saturday (I posted on Instagram) and our yard work yesterday.

I have talked before how as someone who ran in the Boston area in the mornings for nearly 20 years, every April around Patriot’s Day I would see an upswing in runners out on the roads … which would subside quickly over the next couple of weeks. Sad to say I have to confess to judging those people – much like the people who head to the gym after New Year’s, only to be no-shows before February arrives.

But as I think about it more, what does it really matter? Here are some thoughts about why we shouldn’t be so quick to judge, and why it doesn’t really matter where motivation comes from:

1. Every Journey Starts With a Step

This seems so simple, yet it is true – you really have to start somewhere, and like everything else it is often hardest to get started, and every journey has mis-steps. So if you get started with something – running, eating unprocessed foods, walking every day, vegetarian cooking or whatever – then it is the first step down a healthier path.

Most of us likely know someone who has quit smoking a dozen times and failed – there is a definite desire but something gets in the way. But eventually most people with that type of resolve will succeed. The same is true with health – who really cares if they run races, get faster or do a marathon? The fact that they get out and enjoy the same things we all feel when running, hopefully will entice them to an even more active and healthy lifestyle.

2. Once You Get the Taste, Maybe You’ll Return

Most of us know people who have tried every fad that has come along – diets, ‘lifestyles’, exercise gimmicks and so on – and have failed. They blame themselves, and keep looking for that one thing … but maybe what they need is to find a system that actually works for them and is ‘minimally invasive’. Megan had some great stuff in her reading list this week that focuses on ‘right-sizing’ your regime.

I have also heard about many people who hated running … until they loved it. And for me, after my thyroid issue, I really knew I HAD to get back to running, but struggled off and on for a few years. But now I am running like never before in my life. I know what it means to me and for me.

3. Maybe Running isn’t Your Thing?

One of the assumptions I would make was that people I saw running at Patriot’s Day went back to being sedentary by the time May arrived. But maybe they were just trying running? Maybe they belong to a gym and wanted to try out the roads and decided that between the chills and the a$$hole drivers that they were better off staying indoors?

Trying something new is one of the keys of keeping things interesting: new exercises, new recipes, new running routes, and so on. I would suggest that everyone try as many different things as possible to see what exercise works for THEM!

4. Every Little Bit Really DOES Help

Sure you won’t get chiseled features running once – but if you make strides, however small, towards a healthier lifestyle, your body will thank you! Your heart and lungs and circulatory system and all of your internal organs respond to exercise quickly … and every little thing you do matters.

Think about the teacher who did a ‘McDonald’s Challenge’, eating salads and burgers at McDonalds and also introducing walking into his routine – he lost weight and got MUCH healthier. Maybe running isn’t your thing – but if it helps you get yourself moving, that is a GOOD thing!

5. Just getting out there REALLY matters!

When it comes right down to it, it really doesn’t matter how fast you are, how many miles you run, what races you have run, what cool gear you have, or anything else. Just lace up a decent pair of shoes, dress for the conditions and run safely as far and as long as you want. Let your mind roam free, and soak in nature and the joy of movement. That is all that matters.

And come to think about it – what better time to head out? I mean, you have the greatest marathon in the greatest city being run on a holiday that celebrates the very foundation of our origins as a nation in the cradle of liberty?

Six For Saturday – Totally Random Things

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Hey everyone and Happy Saturday – and Happy Good Easter Weekend for Christians and Super Happy Weekend to those who didn’t have to work Good Friday and have a great long weekend! We are all together tomorrow, and looking forward to a fun and relaxing Easter before everyone heads back to ‘real life’ of school and all of us working and busy.

I have a few posts I am working on that I had grand plans to finish … but y’know, life and stuff. So instead, here are six totally random things … enjoy!

1. Kids Trip to Washington DC

The boys just came back from a three-day whirlwind trip to Washington DC with the marching band, playing at the WWII memorial and at a wreath-laying at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. As it turned out, the Washington desk of our local news station headed out and did a little feature. Check out the video:

Oh – and someone also recorded part of their performance at the WWII memorial and posted it on Facebook. Enjoy!

2. Yay for Amazon!

Last week I talked about screens, and how the light from LCD screens messes with your sleep. As noted my Kindle had died, leaving me to read on my Kindle Fire HDX – not optimal! Someone suggested contacting Amazon, knowing the worst they could say was ‘no’ … and long story shirt, they were Amazing as always, and between their service and using some of the credit I had from the ebook settlement, I now have a new Kindle Paperwhite. It really is the most amazing ereader I’ve ever used.

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Also cool? For my birthday my friends from Gear Diary (thanks!) got me the new Amazon Fire TV. Our Roku was dying, and was really slow and unresponsive after having it for several years (it was the first HD version). The Fire TV has Amazon Prime video, Hulu, Netflix and more. I know it is supposedly lacking some things compared to Roku, but considering 95% of our time is between Amazon Video and Hulu … it is great.

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Also, they have gotten me the gaming controller (still waiting for it to arrive), so it will be fun to see how that works. I haven’t played with the ‘second screen’ feature using the Kindle Fire HDX yet, should be another cool addition.

3. What Technology the 1964 World’s Fair Got Right (and Wrong)

It seems just yesterday that everyone was laughing about the idea of a video phone, and yet last year when I was traveling back and forth to Kentucky the twice-daily FaceTime calls home were a major part of keeping me sane.

The New York Post has a quick article about the technologies that were predicted in 1964 that have come to pass and those that haven’t. The ‘picture phone’ is one that has happened – though likely in a different way than anyone would have envisioned!

They also talk about the first real use of touch-tone phone technology … and for me that is interesting since most people I knew had rotary phones into the 80s. The dual-tone multi-frequency (DTMF) technology was actually introduced by Bell in 1963. But perhaps the bigger thing than the adoption of touch tone was the ability to use your own phone on a line (before that the phones were leased from Bell). I also remember that as the regional lines got updated phones had a ‘Tone/Pulse’ switch (anyone else remember that?) and you would press buttons and hear the rotary sounds.

4. Kids React to the Walkman

Speaking of old technology, a friend forwarded me a great video showing a bunch of kids – aged 6 – 13 – reacting to and attempting to deal with a Walkman. Just … just watch the video:

Of course, since I have fond memories sitting on the beach of Cape Cod with a single-speaker transistor radio discovering we could get AM radio from Long Island … yeah, I remember being amazed at the Walkman! So small, sleek, portable and easy to use!

Of course, this week I also came across some sheet music from a jazz harmony class I took as an undergrad – which was blue from the mimeo machine. And we were laughing at words like ‘rewind’ that are meaningless, disc icons for saving, and so on. And just think about the wide swath of movies that would be totally changed if someone had a cell phone!

5. The Yoga of (My) Body Hatred

This article was shared by Laura on Facebook, and I just love it. I had really planned a more elaborate post because there were other similar topics lately, as it seems that rather than improve things for women, we’re making them worse for men!

Because, while Ms. Kalafatas accurately points out that “96 percent of sexually objectified images are women”, we are also hearing that “18 percent of boys are very concerned about their weight and physique”.

I really recommend reading the whole article – and ask yourself some honest questions about how you feel about yourself and others. I think that while there is a natural human instinct to do some assessment of others (i.e. profiling), but what she discusses goes beyond that.

As someone who was very obese for a while, thin for many years with occasional bits of ‘overweight’ and then became obese again only to be very thin and athletic now … I have seen dramatic changes in how people look at and deal with me – and sadly I have seen changes in how I deal with others and myself. These are not proud moments … but they exist.

Do I hate my body? No, at this point I am fairly OK with it (that is supposed to sound wishy-washy). I know I am in great shape, that I am thin but healthy … but I also know that the ravages of obesity will never leave, and coming to this fitness level in my late 40s means not reaping the benefits of youth. The worst is that there will always be ‘more skin than there is Mike to fill it’ … which puts me into constant self-evaluation mode.

6. The Loss of Threaded Conversation

I’ve talked about the fact that I have issues with blogs and blogging in general (yeah, talking about it here – ironic!), and while I have a draft to detail some of that stuff, one of my big complaints is that we seem to be devolving in terms of discussion. Again you have to join me in the way-back machine, back to a time when you could actually type faster than your modem could transmit!

0. Modems – I just did Speedtest on my phone, and it is running at ~22Mbps – that is 22 MILLION bits per second, or a 3 minute song per second. Imagine back in the mid-80s, paying more than $200 for a box that worked at 300bps – which comes down to ~25 characters per second. I am a hack typist and I do better than that! At 300 baud your screen would take about a minute to load, and you could literally watch your characters appear after you typed them!
1. ListServ – chronologically these came after USENET, but they are smaller in scope. What you would do is sign up by email to be part of an ‘email discussion group’. You send messages to a server, and then your message is sent to everyone on the list, either immediately or part of a ‘daily digest’. These were great ways to centralize discussions, but also turned into email nightmares (I remember having more than 12,000 unread emails coming back from one vacation!).

2. USENET – my personal fave and I resisted leaving until the late 90s … These were ‘discussion groups’ – with a hierarchy of things like ‘alt’ for alternative, ‘rec’ for recreation, ‘comp’ for computer and so on. Under each heading there would be subheadings, and so on. So it could be Comp.lang.c++ or Rec.music.jazz.guitar and so on. Technically, basically you have a distributed file server backbone replicating discussions globally. Each server would contain some subset of groups, and your message would be quickly replicated globally. Someone with a newsreader anywhere would see your new post in rec. running and reply to your question about shoes or whatever. Then everyone who subscribed to that group would see the discussion. You could have thousands of comments in a given thread … and it could be insanely helpful. Because it was all in one place, it was also insanely efficient.

3. BBS / AOL / Compuserve – these bridged the 80s and 90s, and provided services you would dial into and had a bunch of possible things going on. BBS sites would generally have discussion areas, possibly files if they were related to programming, games, or whatever. Sites like Compuserve and AOL were the first place many people ‘got online’, and tried to provide a one-stop-shop of services … but were ultimately outgrown.

4. Web Forums – as more and more websites started up, people wanted to gain and keep visitors, and the best way to do that was to allow for users to have some discussions – like they did on USENET and BBS sites. Forums became commonplace, and would typically cater to the audience of the site itself – so a tech site would discuss the latest gadgets, gaming sites would have areas to talk about different genres, and so on. Most would have ‘off topic’ areas as well. The problem? If you liked more than one site, suddenly you are tracking topics in several forums on several sites … and it can get exhausting!

5. Blogs – OK, this isn’t a fair comparison, as the focus is very different – but my point is about conversation and ‘community engagement’. Continuing the paring down, these are single-point sources, where the blogger writes on a topic, and others can comment. There are thousands of blogs on every subject, and thousands of subjects. Each one is a distinct site, and there are multiple ways to track new entries – but no single way. Engaging with the community involves having your own blog as well as commenting on others, finding new blogs to follow and comment on and so on …

In my opinion we never have done better than USENET. Think about it – one place for all kinds of people from around the world to hook in and discuss things. For example, it is rumored Nike is killing off their wearable hardware division. On USENET there would already be a thread with a thousand comments. I’m sure there are multiple threads on various running forums about it this morning. Yet I haven’t seen it on a running blog yet, and when we do it will be a quick comment (like mine) and will have a small discussion – and then a different discussion on a number of other blogs. This decentralized discussion naturally limits the breadth of sharing and learning … and while I love blogs for many reasons, they are also very limited in terms of actually adding value through shared learning.

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OK, at this point I am definitely on the ‘Thinking Out Loud’ train … so I’ll link up with Amanda!

Bonus. Oh yeah, RUNNING!

We are coming up on the Boston Marathon, and with the weather improving, I see more and more people out running, or talking about running outside on their blogs and so on.

For me, I am excited for the Boston Marathon, and just pray that everything goes well for everyone who is there.

I also think about how it seems with each weekend of full and half marathons we also learn about someone who died in or after the race. There were a couple of runner deaths last weekend again in Raleigh, as noted here. It is a reminder that we need to keep a close eye on our health … and even still there are no guarantees in life.

Personally I have had ups and downs this week – we started in shorts and t-shirt weather, made it through single-digit wind chills, and by Friday is was above 30 again but windy enough I wore my heavy hat and gloves. The next week or so looks to have similar conditions – riding the tights/shorts, heavy/light glove boundary. And honestly … I am fine with that! Because none of it involves 4-layers and my brain in ‘self preservation mode’.

Have a great weekend, and for Christians, a Happy Easter!

One Year Ago Today

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A year ago today was the first Monday I wasn’t on a plane to Kentucky for the week since before Valentine’s Day.

A year ago today was my first day back to work after spending the week with my brother following he massive heart attack.

A year ago today thousands of people lined up for my ‘hometown marathon’, and hundreds of thousands lined the streets for the Patriot’s Day tradition.

A year ago today an unbelievable tragedy struck as two bombs were detonated at the finish line of the Boston Marathon, shattering lives and a city and a community.

A year ago tomorrow, thousands of runners got up and ran a memorial run for Boston, for those who died, were hurt, had their lives changed forever. We could not undo the tragedy, but we did what little we could.

And every day since, millions of runners have hit the roads and shown that while horrible actions can shatter lives, the human spirit will always prevail. We can never truly stop those seeking to do evil or inflict violence, but we can stop them from controlling our lives.

So today I run again, and I run for Boston, for the lives lost, the lives shattered, the lives changed, and the city and community that persists.

Sunday Runday – 2 Year Runner-versary, 23 Year Engag-aversary, and More!

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Happy Sunday – I hope that wherever you are the weather is making you as happy as it is making me! Yesterday it got close to 70F and today is supposed to be near 75F! There is so much to do … but I need to get my run in and soak up the wonderful weather! Last night I had an amazing sight as a family of deer crossed my path – it is included in the picture above, and I put it up on Instagram as well … breathtaking!

This week I have gotten a couple of ‘blogger nominations’ and mentions – and although I have done a Liebster post before, I plan this coming week to do another one … I just have to figure out what to talk about. I love how these have morphed over time, and will be looking at ones like those from Laura and Megan for inspiration doing my own.

Here are a few things rolling through my mind this weekend:

My 2-Year Runner-versary

Wait … didn’t I just celebrate my 25th anniversary of running back in February? Yeah, but this is different. I have talked about how in early 2012 I got to the point where I needed to do SOMETHING … since my thyroid had died and I got on meds, my weight dropped and slowly went back up even as I went to the gym, and tried several times to get back into running. My eating habits were more than a little to blame – the old adage “there is no exercise regime a poor diet can’t mess up” definitely held true for me!

But in 2012 Easter was the week after my birthday – April 12th – and my brother came to visit and we went for a run. Again, I have told my running story a number of times – my early years, the ‘in between times‘, and the more recent years – and as I said, I had made a deal with my brother to run the Wineglass Marathon in the fall … but in April 2012 I barely managed 2.25 miles at an 11 minute pace and quit and let him do another loop.

The two years since have been amazing – I am the fittest, thinnest and healthiest of my life, and it might sound weird, but I am younger than I have been in at least 15 years. My eating is a work in progress as it is for all of us, but with each passing week my tolerance for crap and processed foods becomes less and less. Whole, real foods fuel me day to day … and I am absolutely loving how I feel.

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My 23 Year Engag-aversary

Lisa posted this picture a week ago for a #TBT on Facebook, which is an ‘old school selfie’ from our engagement. Yes, this was with a film camera so we had absolutely no clue what it looked like until we got the prints! Not too bad for that.

It was April 12th 1991, and I took her to the Gregory House outside of Albany, NY. It was a fun time and amazingly special – and I was a total nervous wreck the whole time!

It is so much fun looking back at the pictures from when we were so young – and it is even better doing it together because we are still so in love and enjoy being together – I know I am so fortunate to have found an amazing person to share the ups and downs of life.

Are These My Favorite Shoes Yet?

I have already said I’m not so good at the whole ‘break in new shoes slowly thing’ as I did a long run in my Merrell Allout Rush trail shoes. Well, as noted I got a pair of Saucony Virratas last weekend … so naturally I headed out for a 15.5 mile run last night in the new shoes!

The Virratas are super-lightweight zero drop shoes, but with enough cushion to be very comfortable. When I tried them on last week they were like the best combination of the Saucony Kinvara and New Balance Minimus – and that is exactly how I feel after my first run.

Of course, it will be a bit before I really know how well they work for me, but after a first run I am in love with the feel – my body likes the zero drop, but getting a bit more cushion than things like the Merrell Vapor Gloves is definitely better for my legs!

Oh, the Weather! And my weekly Running Summary

As noted, this weekend is very warm – I ran in 55F temps Friday morning, 68F last night and it will be over 70 before I head out today. Yet this past week the temperature also got down to 20F with wind chills in the teens … and this coming week we have another cool-down coming with possibilities of snow and temperatures at 20 or below! That is just how April rolls …

Sunday – Rest (2nd birthday)
Monday – 30F – 8.5 miles
Tuesday – 40F – 7.75 miles
Wednesday – 20F – 6.75 miles
Thursday – 25F – 7.5 miles
Friday – 55F – 9.5 miles
Saturday – 68F – 15.5 miles

Not a bad week – I managed 55.5 miles, though I will confess that my attitude on Wednesday and Thursday was more than a bit grumbly, especially Wednesday when my hands wouldn’t warm up no matter what. Oh well, I know that my whining is more because of how much warmer it gets in the afternoons … but that is what you get being a 4AM runner!

How Quickly We Forget

Also this weekend we are getting the boys ready – it is their April break and they are headed to Washington DC with the marching band, and will play at the World War II memorial. They also get quick visits in a number of spots from the memorials to Smithsonian, Ford’s Theater, Pentagon Mall, National Zoo and more. It is fun getting them ready, but also loads of work.

A colleague at work who was works in a lab where we get some special testing done and was also on an earlier project with me is headed on vacation to Daytona this week – and when I said ‘get some relaxation’, he woke me up with ‘you remember having two kids under 3′ … and I DO – you get back needing a vacation from your vacation! There is endless chasing around and constant watchfulness as the little ones find adventure after adventure to get into!

It is funny, Lisa and I were looking through the album of our first Disney trip in 2001 with the boys, and it brings back all sorts of warm and wonderful feelings. It is a reminder that as time passes, you forget all of the frantic running around and hassles, and remember the good times having two little wide-eyed, full of love boys ready to accept just about any new adventure that comes along!

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SMOOTHIES!

This was my recovery smoothie last night – loaded with fresh and frozen fruit and some flax-chia blend and coconut milk. It was awesome – and reminds me that in the last week I have had at least one smoothie every day, with breakfast being a smoothie each day and a few dessert smoothies as well!

The Nutri-bullet came with a small booklet, and my mother got me a ‘smoothie recipes for runners’ guide … but honestly while I browsed both, mostly I am just doing my own variations to see what works well for me. I am happy with the results so far – but I bought some kale and spinach (we were out) so I am looking forward to some serious green machines this week!

So tell me about your weekend, running, favorite smoothie recipes, or anything else!

Five Things Friday – Inspiration, Perspective, Screens and More!

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Happy Friday! I have to confess that Wednesday I woke up and while running I thought it it was Thursday … and had an ‘aw crap’ moment realizing it was just Wednesday! It has just been one of THOSE crazy kinds of weeks!

Well – I am glad it is Friday, not just for the weekend, but also because the weather is supposed to be awesome this weekend … before possibly dumping more snow on us next Tuesday! The image from the top is this morning – which is 30 degrees warmer than yesterday!

I wanted to do a Five Things list of stuff that has been on my mind this week, and hook up with Amanda at Running With Spoons for her ‘Thinking Out Loud’ series. Here we go!

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Running (and Biking) for Dummies

Being a year-round outdoor runner, the month of April reminds me of the first snowfall – suddenly you have loads of drivers out who seem to need re-training on basic snow driving procedures every year, resulting in loads of accidents and dangerous situations!

And I have already seen it – bikers riding side-by-side along a road that is already narrow for two cars, runners with headphones running the wrong way down the street, not paying attention when crossing, not wearing bright and reflective gear in the early mornings and so on.

Every workplace talks a lot about safety – the mantra is that no one comes to work with the desire to get hurt … and the same is true for those heading out for a run! We go out for exercise, to clear our mind, or whatever … and should expect to come home in the same condition as we left – well, perhaps a little more sweaty and smelly!

So PLEASE be careful, and if you see someone being an idiot, don’t hesitate to tell them. And if you are driving, use extra caution to avoid hitting the people who might have forgotten that the road has different challenges than the treadmill!

Screens Before Bed are Ruining Your Sleep

One of my things for Lent was to limit pre-bed screen time. I have not been perfect, but my goal was to get back to reading more – and also to focus more on getting more and better quality sleep.

For a while now, research has shown that electronics before bed – video games, social media, whatever – tends to act as a stimulant and mess with your ability to get to sleep and have a restful night. There are a load of resources on this, so feel free to search it out if you have questions – or just ask in the comments and I can follow up.

Now we also know that the artificial lighting from LCD-type screens emits radiation that suppresses the production of melatonin and keeps us from getting restful nights of sleep! This BBC video talks about how our obsession with ‘one more check of Instagram’ can be ruining out sleep.

Back to my Lenten challenge … the problem? My Kindle died, and I have been using a Kindle Fire HDX – which is no better than using an iPad or laptop because of the screen technology. So while I have solved half the problem (by reading) the other half remains! Fortunately the people at Amazon are amazing, so between working with their service and using some credit I have built up … I will soon be reading on a Kindle Paperwhite. Yay!

Runners and Perspective

Are you a runner? Chances are you have uttered the phrase ‘easy’ or ‘quick’ related to one of your runs … and chances are that any non-runner around you rolled their eyes.

Last week I ran a ‘double’ – 8.5 miles in the morning and 9.5 in the evening, for an 18 mile day. On Instagram I used some of the typical runner words ‘quick’, ‘easy’, casual or whatever else. When Lisa got home she told me how annoying it was – that is the honesty that comes from 25 years together, and I appreciate it!

Early this week I was bringing my younger son to percussion ensemble rehearsal and they had to run the mile as part of their annual physical fitness assessment, and he was asking about how far I usually run in the morning, and I said ~7.5 miles or so on average. And he said ‘that’s insane, I just did ONE mile today and my lungs were screaming and my whole body still aches’!

He is young and active and not overweight … which puts into perspective exactly WHAT we are all doing … and highlights that we all tend to lack perspective! When I was running ~12-15 miles per week, the thought of running 7.5 miles was a big deal – this morning it was just a great relaxing run. Running a mile in less than 9 minutes? Not something I would have thought about even 2 years ago – now that is pretty much EVERY mile.

So when you talk about your ‘quick 10 miles’ or your easy 50 mile week or whatever … if there isn’t someone there to roll their eyes at you and call you annoying, remember that for most people, that falls somewhere between a landmark achievement and bragging.

I am wondering … WHY are you here

Have you ever looked at the little ‘about’ blurb on many blogs and seen something like “I’m __, a 20/30-something boy/girl from ___ who is trying to balance fitness, healthy living and a busy life, and sharing my journey”? Yeah, too many times to even count!

And that is fine – but what about when you look deeper? What is it that you REALLY hope to accomplish? That is what Harold asked this week in one of the most thought-provoking posts recently – about the larger sense of WHY he blogs.

When we are young, we all want to think that our voices will be heard by some grand audience who will appreciate the unique things we have to offer, to make some grand mark that will cause strangers to know about us in times to come. But the reality is that of the more than 7 billion people in the world, perhaps 0.001% will have a lasting document created for them.

The rest of us? We have friends, family, pictures, and other things. Here’s an example – I had a plaque at my undergrad alma mater with my name on it that a few years ago I found out had been stolen, and wasn’t replaced, but instead the area of the building was redone and new things are on the wall. Sure it had been 25 years, but it is a little disappointing to have your time gone by so quickly.

I don’t pretend that anyone outside of Lisa and my boys will really remember me more than a year after I’m gone … and I am OK with that. I would love to leave a bit more behind – create more music, maybe finish writing one of the books I’ve started for NaNoWriMo … but ultimately I am good focusing my energy on helping my boys realize their dreams and helping them build the lives they want.

It is something to think about – what sort of legacy are you trying to build, and how does blogging fit into that?

How Much Time Do You REALLY Have?

Going from morbid to MORE morbid, amongst the inspirations for my ‘Take Care Tuesday’ was a post by another of my absolute faves, Danielle at T-Rex Runner, called ‘Plenty of Time’. She talks about a friend of hers who died tragically at a horse show 11 years ago, and it is a reminder that none of us has a slip of paper telling us when we or our loved ones will die. The answer is simple – live every day like your last, and love those around you as if you will never get the chance to tell them you love them again.

This week has been filled with sadness in my extended family and friend group: an uncle of mine died, and my parents are down for the funeral. An aunt would have been there, but they discovered cancer in her mouth and she is dealing with that. Another aunt is in terrible health at a young age, and my parents are stopping to help her, but it is unclear if she will ever leave assisted living.

A friend from our infertility support group in the mid-90s (they ended up with twins) has cancer, and the treatment isn’t going as quickly, easily or successfully as initially thought … which is really hard for the family. And two Facebook friends I went to high school with lost parents this week … it is just that we’re getting to that age, but that doesn’t make it easier.

I remember being a little kid and having a girl named Kimberly who we played with all the time, but who had a bad heart condition. She had numerous surgeries and was proud of her scars. But one summer – we were all of 10 at the time – she never came home from the hospital. It was a very sad and confusing time for us, because pretty quickly the family moved away.

I have also talked about the difficulties when Christopher was born and how for a little bit I worried that I might be going home without a wife OR son!

We don’t know how much time we have, all we know is we have NOW. So take a second and look over at the ones you love, make a call, send a text or email, and let them know that they are important to you.

The Vocabulary of Runners

I love when sites put together lists with runner-specific terms and expressions and ‘translations’. This week, Competitor put out a ‘Runner’s Dictionary’, and Carina had a post about a ‘Google Translate for Runners’, from which this one made me laugh (because I know my family would laugh as well):

“Yeah, I enjoy running.”
Translation: “Let’s hope I never have to choose between running and my firstborn.”

But over at T-Rex again, Danielle talks about her dislike for the ‘running as therapy’ line. Her point is she has spent enough time in therapy – and running – to know the difference, but being sidelined with injuries and upcoming surgery, she appreciates the ability of a run to keep you from ‘going over the edge’.

That is something I definitely see as true for myself – running allows me to center myself, focus my thoughts, and distance myself from situations … my kids have asked me when I am ‘edgy’ whether I’ve gone for my run.

But I also agree with T-Rex’s sentiment – my issue is that I don’t like using serious conditions as casual joke-terms. Therapy is a helpful and important thing and is only more recently being viewed as a serious thing to do rather than something for crazy people or Woody Allen neurotic types. The same is true with terms like ‘obsession’ (which should be a negative term for over-the-top attention rather than something you think is cool), ‘OCD’ – again, a serious disorder, and my favorite for runners – eating issues. I will talk more about that in an upcoming post …

I AM Enough

I have said this before and will say it again, but this week on a blog I consistently love the message came up again and I needed to share. Kate Bortell’s ‘Serious Thoughts Taken Not Too Seriously’ has a Christian focus which would often be something to drive me away (even as a Catholic) – but she is smart, funny and sassy and always writes stuff that makes me think and laugh.

Her topic this week was ‘Yes, You ARE Good Enough’. Which is absolutely true … so go check out her post and remember that you ARE enough!

Well … that is about it for me! This weekend is supposed to be gorgeous – we’ll be getting the boys ready for their trip to Washington DC with the marching band, hopefully getting some yardwork and shopping done … oh, and of course some runs as well. But this won’t be quick, easy or casual – they will be hard, grueling and stupid-long! :)

So what are YOUR weekend plans?

Take Care Tuesday – Your Health Matters, Don’t Take it for Granted!

Brothers1

A year ago yesterday I posted the following on Facebook:

Asking for thoughts and prayers for my brother John Anderson, recovering from a very serious heart attack … yesterday morning he had the heart attack while at the gym, and fortunately they have a nurse on staff and the person next to him was a doctor. but it was a massive heart attack. He woke up briefly tonight, which was a very good sign, but he has a long road ahead.

The picture at the top is from this past Christmas – so you can be assured there was a happy ending! But when I wrote that, my brother had suffered a major heart attack, and had yet to really regain consciousness. It was slow going, and even now he has to deal with a new reality in how he goes about his life – but he is here, with his kids, friends and family.

It took a while for him to understand and accept how serious things were, even though he’d already had one heart attack (a minor one in 2006) and even as they implanted a defibrillator in his chest!

At that point I decided it was really time to get a full cardiac workup – not just because of my brother, but because I was the only one left in my immediate family who hadn’t had serious heart issues. My dad had a very serious heart attack at 45, and now with my brother having two at 43 and 49 – it was time for me at 47 to get myself checked.

The wonderful thing is that although there is that great saying ‘an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure’ – that isn’t how our health care system works. Think about it – between co-pays, deductibles, co-insurance and so on, the up-front costs are enough to keep healthy people from ever getting routine checkups. Then there is the ability to get anything beyond a routine checkup … fortunately I have a good relationship with my primary doctor, and she made sure I was able to get into a cardiologist in the same practice.

I wrote about this before, but basically where my brother got all the bad genes – cholesterol, blood pressure, etc – I got all the good ones. And aside from my thyroid my heart and cardio-vascular system is in great shape.

My message? Take care of your health – make figuring out your risks a priority, even when it is more money than you want to spend. Especially when you are younger – during your 20s and 30s you might still feel indestructible, but these are the years where a history can build. Learn your numbers, where your body is strong and weak, what you need to watch and what you don’t and so on. You don’t want to be feeling lousy when you need to know what is ‘normal’ for you and have no idea.

Take care of your health – eat reasonably well, stay active, keep to a healthy weight (and more and more research says weighing a bit too much is better than weighing to little), and keep a regular set of checkups. And know your family history of risks and make sure your doctor is aware of them. Do everything you can to make sure you are around for as long as possible with the ones you love.

Happy Tuesday!