The ‘Goodbye Post’ – 26, 3, 7, 24, 49, 5 and a ‘New Home’

Hey all … yeah, another out of the blue post. This could very well be my last post on this blog, or not. I am setting it up that way – but who really knows, right? I mean, I just posted about Sexual Violence a couple of weeks ago, which was totally unplanned. Oh well …

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But in reality, I have titled this the Goodbye Post intentionally. Because it is my plan. I have deleted my drafts, removed the bookmark from my ‘Daily Links’ tab group, and at this point the only place I am maintaining the connection to the blog is on my phone in the WordPress app.

Why? More on that at the end.

Anyway, it seems like there are a lot of numbers swirling in my head right now. And not just because I am a statistician, either! No – these are all ‘life numbers’. So let’s go!

26 … years a runner!

I talk about this in my origin story, saying:

For some reason I can’t really remember, in early 1989 I started jogging. At first I started doing it at night, but found that I was full from dinner and tired from the day (I was working a couple of part time retail jobs), so I switched to the morning. It wasn’t much – a mile or two at most and at a very slow pace – and honestly after a month I didn’t notice any difference, and no one knew but my family so I was about to give up.

Yes, sometime in February of 1989 I started running. Exactly when I have no clue – or even why. I was losing weight, and for some reason must have thought that running in the middle of winter was a great idea.

That was 26 years ago … 1989. GPS wasn’t commercially available yet, tech clothes were still pretty rudimentary and expensive, shoes were much simpler in the days before minimal / maximal / neutral / stability / toe-shoes … and so on.

And for the majority of those 26 years running was just something I did – it was about staying in shape, weight maintenance, but it was never a ‘passion’ until a few years ago. But I don’t want to downplay it … I was running ~15 or so miles per week, 5 days/week, and still running outside all the way to -10 wind chills and trudging through up to a foot or more of snow. So while my view of running has changed, as has the volume of miles I do (and pace), the reality is that I have always been pretty hardcore about the whole thing.

Speaking of running becoming a true passion …

3 … years since I started ‘serious running’!

Easter weekend 2012, the weekend after my 46th birthday my brother came to visit and we went for a run … and it was awful for me. We apparently did a few miles (he went out again after I was done) and only managed an 11+ minute pace. WAKE UP CALL! The year before he had challenged me to run a marathon with me and I said ‘sure’ … and promptly went back to gaining weight and not running.

But 2012 was different … I had started and failed to sustain running beginning in January, but then restarted again … and again. But after that run on April 8th … I never stopped!

This is another reason I love TimeHop – a couple of weeks ago I saw a post from 2012 from the morning I really stretched it out and ran 6.31 miles … and was really feeling the after-effects. Amazing how time flies!

Everything changed that April three years ago – I went from running as weight maintenance to running for joy and a healthier lifestyle. I now eat more than I ever have when not obese, because I want to properly fuel myself to stay healthy and keep running. And I can feel the effects on my conditioning, endurance and overall health.

7 … years at Corning / in New York!

Another thing I have written about is getting laid off in October 2007, that I had already started my job-hunt, and that I had a great 3-months short-term job at a now defunct company AEB before starting work at Corning in March 2008.

Corning is a great company, they invest more than 10% into R&D – for comparison, Shipley (then Rohm & Haas and now Dow) invests 2%, which is more of a normal amount. This means that there is always something exciting happening, and I have been able to work on some great products, including some that were cancelled and others that have become commercially successful products.

But the move to Corning also meant uprooting from Massachusetts, the kids starting new schools, making new friends and so on. After all these years I have to be honest that I am STILL a ‘Boston boy’, but this area has been great, and is really home to the boys.

In so many ways getting laid off was the best thing that could have happened to me back then.

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24 … year Engage-aversary!

I brought this up last year as well … A long time ago when we were a young couple people told us that once married things like the date of engagement would matter less. Well, while it might be true that we don’t have the same level of celebration any more, April 12th will always be the day Lisa agreed to marry me, and I always make a point to … well, make a point about it.

And that is the thing for me – as a young couple you will have people around you always telling you stuff, what will happen, how you will behave and on and on. It is fine to listen and take in their data – just remember that what they are saying is about THEM and not YOU.

49 … years old!

Yes, back in early April I had another birthday. Darn things show up every year! My family always makes me feel special, and that more than material things is what really matters. Last year I got my beloved Nutribullet, this year I *really* needed a suit (haven’t had one that fits me since I lost weight). And the boys got me a cast iron pan and Lisa also grabbed me a travel mug for coffee/tea at my desk at work, and since it was also Easter I got some chocolate 🙂

We took the day and headed to Ithaca – it is a wonderful little community that is very much influenced by having Cornell University and Ithaca College there, and just wandering around town, then having dinner before heading home. My choice for an evening movie? Star Wars Empire Strikes Back … always a great time!

But seriously – LOOK at my life:
– Wonderful wife
– Two smart, funny, talented and awesome kids
– Great home in a nice area with two dogs, two cats, easy commute
– Perfect area for my daily runs

Here is the reality – I am in the best shape of my life at 49. Not too shabby!

5 … months since I stopped drinking soda!

With all of the healthy changes I’ve made in my life only one thing really remained (I don’t count my ice cream habit) – soda. If you go back to last November I was going through up to a dozen 24-oz Diet Mountain Dew bottles per week. Ugh – I knew I wanted to cut way back, and decided that it would be a cool New Year’s Goal.

But in mid-December I decided to start making the change, and just stopped. Between then and the end of December I had two sodas, both while out to lunch with Lisa and/or the boys. But nothing else since – not a single soda. I have had iced tea with meals out, and pretty much water (or coffee or tea) otherwise.

I don’t miss it … but the first week in January I noticed it was hard to stay alert (or awake) in post-lunch meetings! I’ve gotten used to it … and no longer crave soda!

It was also important to me to NOT increase my coffee intake, though I definitely drink more Green and Herbal Teas.

If you are contemplating it – give it a try! We know the stuff is bad for us, so why not?

‘New’ Home – The Monday Mile

I have been writing for the tech enthusiast site ‘Gear Diary’ since 2009 (another number – just passed 6 years!). The series I had started back in 2012 that looked at running – gear, clothes, health, safety and running itself – was called ‘The Monday Mile’. I did a post on occasional Mondays (in case you hadn’t gotten that yet) that allowed me to satisfy my ‘runner-blog’ itch in between all the other stuff.

As I pushed ahead with this blog my writing for Gear Diary waned and ‘The Monday Mile’ essentially formed my working template for posts I wrote. But I could write more personal stuff, really stick my neck out without worrying that it was someone else’s space. So as I leave my personal blog behind, I am still at Gear Diary and that is where my running posts will go.

So far I have done five ‘Monday Mile’ posts this year:

Running Visible is More Important Than ‘Looking Cool’

Five Reasons Not to Seek Advice From ‘That Running Guy’

What I Learned from My 65-Day Running Streak

Anatomy of an Extreme Sub-Zero Runner

Why Running Milestones Matter

However, as I slowed down here I started making the same mistake at Gear Diary – I dove in deep and between December and March did more than 300 posts. Ugh – “not sustainable” … so I won’t be THERE at the same pace either. But if I am writing, it will be there!

SO WHY is this GoodBye?

While there are several reasons I could discuss about why rather than ‘scaling back’ I need to just say goodbye, at least for the rest of 2015 – ultimately it comes down to two things:

Shifting Priorities and Unsustainable Effort:

When I really got into running I discovered that the knowledge that had sustained me for so many years was inadequate, so I started ‘reading’, by which of course I mean browsing web sites. I had a couple of sites suggested to me, which led me through comments to others, then still others, and so on.

But as anyone who loves scrapbooking but then takes on a Creative Memories home business will tell you, suddenly things shift from doing what you love to running a business … and you wonder what you got into.

For me the priorities have always been running and THEN (much lower) talking/writing about running.

When I look at my major pursuits outside of work, they include family, running, music, computer games, and books. Oh, and having a home and cars and pets, cooking & cleaning and laundry and occasionally ‘sleeping’. People have commented asking how I sustain all of it – and the basic answer is ‘with great difficulty’. But even then it requires compromise – less focus on music, fewer of the computer games I love, less reading, and I haven’t (re-)sharpened my programming skills the way I want to do (I love the R programming tool used for statistics, but I am very inefficient).

So this year I want to continue my focus on family and running … but I want to focus more on my music now that I have my music studio re-assembled. I also put aside mobile games and am focusing on the classic computer games I enjoy (for like-minded folks, definitely check out Pillars of Eternity!). And while my goal was one book a month and I have only finished 2.5 so far – that is more than all of last year!

Shifting priorities to expand effort in one area means less time for other pursuit. I am lucky that this has been my best year at work since … well, best ever at Corning and best overall in at least 10-15 years. Which is awesome – but also very demanding and exhausting!

Oh, one final number: 25.

25 … Awesome blogs you should be reading

Why 25? Who knows – it seemed like a good number, and a good representation of many of the blogs I love to read …and then suddenly I realized it could have been 30 – or 40 or 50! So I was more adamant about it being 25! One person not represented here is Laura Parson, as she has disconnected so that her social media identity is clear as she continues her educational path towards doctorate, fellowships, professorships and so on.

1. Harold at Aging Runnah
2. Ann at Ann’s Running Commentary
3. Danielle at T-Rex Runner
4. Megan at The Lyon’s Share
5. Sara at Life Between the Miles
6. Cori at She’s Going the Distance
7. Carina at Carina’s Running Career
8. Rachel at Darlin’ Rae
9. Mary at Four the Health of It
10. Laura at Fit Fresh and Funny
11. Lisa at Running Out of Wine
12. Michele at Paleo Running Momma
13. Olena at Candies and Crunches
14. Carson at Running Southern
15. Fallon at Slacker Runner
16. Colby & Tina at Marathon and a Sprint
17. Hollie at FueledByLOLZ
18. Sarah at Running on Healthy
19. Sarah at Shh… Fit Happens
20. Jennifer at Running on Lentils
21. Judith at So Very Slightly Mad
22. Lauren at RunSaltRun
23. Amy at Miss Adventures in Running
24. Andy at OmniRunner
25. Nicole at The Girl Who Ran Everywhere
… and as I said, there were several more I could have added that I follow!

So what next?

I don’t really know … I have still been reading your blogs, but not always and not completely and my commenting has obviously gone way down. But I still value your voices, and hope to continue to stay in touch.

I have also been playing around on Google+, Quora, Tumblr and so on. Not sure any of those will be a new place for me, but they are interesting, anyway.

Also, I exist in other social media:

So if you are on those places and we don’t already follow each other – hook me up and we can look at each other’s sweaty running selfies, kids, pets, and whatever else!

Thanks again for everything – you all inspire, engage, and amuse me!

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Wednesday Wandering Mind – Social Media Reset, Twain, Former Fatties, more

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Hey all! Happy Wednesday! I had a few things simmering that I wanted to put out there, and a New Year’s decision pushed me to put them out today. So let’s just jump around *** with it ..

1. Social Media Reset

Over the last couple of weeks I have spent time cleaning up my Twitter and Instagram feeds (no plans to mess with Facebook) as if with a machete. Some people weren’t following me back in spite of my follow and even exchanging comments, others I had no idea how/why I was following, and on Twitter I had to get rid of most of the super-chatty folks as well as people obviously marketing stuff. It has helped my accounts become more manageable, which is awesome.

But on Monday morning as I opened up my email after barely touching electronics all weekend (yay!), I read all of the pent-up blogs in my email as well as my WordPress reader. And my thought? Well THIS has to stop right now!

So I took a ‘scorched earth’ approach and simply started unsubscribing from the mailing lists of blogs and removing any that I did NOT get on email from my WordPress reader, and also killing anything I hadn’t opened in a week from my RSS feeds. Basically, if I didn’t follow your blog before I launched this one, I no longer get an email, if I didn’t get an email this past week I no longer follow you on WordPress, and only a very few blogs remained on RSS (basically those I can’t get through WordPress or email … like Blogger blogs).

So again, nothing personal … I needed to cut WAY back, and I also need to stop feeling like I have to comment on every post I read so you know I stopped by. If I ‘liked’ it, I actually DO … and if you don’t have a ‘Like’ button? Argh! As to how and when I will rebuild? Who knows.

2. Mark Twain’s Gravesite Vandalized

The image at the top is from the Mark Twain grave site, which is in the Woodlawn Cemetery in Elmira NY, about a 10 minute drive from our house. Lisa and I did a fun graveyard tour just before Halloween this year, and the curator who did the tour took us through all of the details of many area families, especially the whole tale of the Mark Twain connection to the region.

I’ll be honest, I’m not a huge ‘know the backstory of the person behind the art’ person like seems to be so popular today, so I never dug into the Twain connection – just assumed it was a ‘George Washington Slept Here’ thing. But it was not. He was buried here for a reason.

But sadly at some point between Christmas and New Year someone removed the likeness from his gravestone. It is noted in the local paper, where they say:

“Somebody had to bring in a ladder,” Hare said. “There has been vandalism in the cemetery over the years, but there has never been any at the Twain site, which is a revered site. Desecration of any grave is a horrible thing for people to do.”

This is a pretty sad thing – awful for someone to have done in general, and also because as towns and cities are continuously squeezed to do more with less money, things like graveyard maintenance fall to the bottom of the priority list. And to have one of our country’s great authors grave site defaced like this is a shame.

The only good news is that there was a cast made of the original plaque which could be used to create a new one.

3. Tales of Former Fatties

Over at Buzzfeed a couple of weeks ago there was a video about ‘what it is like to be a former fat kid’.

As a former (recovering?) fat kid, I certainly can identify with many of the things the people list. But as we have discussed here before, we could change it around to say ‘what it is like to be an adult who was body shamed as a kid’ … because that crap hurts whatever reason it happened.

4. Feats of Dog Standing

So Sarah Palin posted a picture of her 6+ year old standing on their dog. It sparked some outrage, including from PETA. Palin replied … well, I just posted the whole thing below. But one thing she DID note was Ellen Degeneres posting a picture of a small child (2 or 3 years old) standing on a dog.

Her point? Hypocrisy, of course … and the assumption that her frothing supporters would be so quick to be outraged and butthurt that they wouldn’t even contemplate comparative analysis regarding the size/weight ratios of the children and animals (I mean, they DO watch Fox News, so facts are obvious not a priority).

Anyway, I don’t recall the Ellen pic, but we were very clear about the safety of children and animals in our house … so, no dog standing.

ANYWAY … forget the factual discussion, read Palin’s missive and just LAVISH in the crazy as it washes over you …

Dear PETA,
Chill. At least Trig didn’t eat the dog.

Hey, by the way, remember your “Woman of the Year”, Ellen DeGeneres? Did you get all wee-wee’d up when she posted this sweet picture? http://conservatives4palin.com/… Hypocritical, much?

Did you go as crazy when your heroic Man-of-Your-Lifetime, Barack Obama, revealed he actually enjoyed eating dead dog meat?

Aren’t you the double-standard radicals always opposing Alaska’s Iditarod – the Last Great Race honoring dogs who are born to run in wide open spaces, while some of your pets “thrive” in a concrete jungle where they’re allowed outdoors to breathe and pee maybe once a day? (http://iditarod.com/ http://www.irondog.org/)

Aren’t you the same herd that opposes our commercial fishing jobs, claiming I encourage slaying and consuming wild, organic healthy protein sources called “fish”? (I do.)
Aren’t you the same anti-beef screamers blogging hate from your comfy leather office chairs, wrapped in your fashionable leather belts above your kickin’ new leather pumps you bought because your celebrity idols (who sport fur and crocodile purses) grinned in a tabloid wearing the exact same Louboutins exiting sleek cowhide covered limo seats on their way to some liberal fundraiser shindig at some sushi bar that features poor dead smelly roe (that I used to strip from our Bristol Bay-caught fish, and in a Dillingham cannery I packed those castoff fish eggs for you while laughing with co-workers about the suckers paying absurdly high prices to party with the throw away parts of our wild seafood)? I believe you call those discarded funky eggs “caviar”.

Yeah, you’re real credible on this, PETA. A shame, because I’ll bet we agree on what I hope is the true meaning of your mission – respecting God’s creation and critters.

Our pets, including Trig’s best buddy Jill Hadassah, are loved, spoiled and cared for more than some people care for their fellow man whose politics may not mesh with nonsensical liberally failed ways or don’t fit your flighty standards.

Jill is a precious part of our world. So is Trig.

– Sarah Palin

5. Interesting Findings from 2014

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Being a statistics dude and engineer means that I love having loads of data to gather and play with and am always looking for cool new ways to visualize that data. This week I came across a summary of a number of things from 2014 at the Pew Research site.

The image above compares median income of kids 25 – 32 (sorry, ‘adults’) who have a 4-year college degree with those with a 2-year degree or just a high school diploma – and the results show a greater disparity than ever. Recently there has been much discussion about the value of a college degree – but that is largely in the context of the staggering debt incurred by more and more college students.

As a parent sending one child off in a few months to what was ranked the #2 Most Expensive Undergraduate School, and another heading to college next year … this stuff really hits home for me.

Bonus. Warm Hands, Happy Runner

After a relatively mild pre-Christmas to post-New Year we have gone straight back to last years Polar Vortex it seems, with high winds and a display of the ‘many ways to get to sub-zero wind chills’. But of course I still go out for my runs – and the awesome news is that the Brooks 3-in-1 gloves my boys got me for Christmas are the absolute best things I have EVER (in nearly 26 years) worn on my hands. Each year I enter in fear of frost-bite, but now I can leave the house with confidence of returning with all appendages intact.

So … how are YOU? And how’s Winter treating you?

*** Yeah, Jump Around … like THIS:

Friday Five – Blog-ospheric Inspiration and Love

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OK, so while I noted I wouldn’t writing as much, that hasn’t stopped me from reading. And while I complained a bit a couple of weeks ago about what felt like ‘post fall-running hangover’ hitting lots of blogs with the ‘blahs’, and last week about some lazy link-ups … this week has been brimming with great stuff! To the point where I am quoting stuff below and feel bad because there is so much more great content out this week that I left behind.

As for the image at the top, it might not really seem fit with my theme – but it was in an email I got from Megan at The Lyons Share today, and she said “This quote is just SCREAMING “Michael”!!!!!!! Couldn’t help but think of you! Hope you have a wonderful day 🙂 🙂 “. It was an amazingly kind and thoughtful thing to do while I was sitting at my desk scrambling to get a ton of stuff done before heading home … and was so very much appreciated!

What I wanted to highlight was some of the amazing things I have been reading this week – there are just so many awesome people in our community that have important things to say. So I will start with posts from my two ‘Most Inspiring Runners’ and go from there:

1. T-Rex Runner – Eating Disorder Recovery

I have repeatedly recommended Danielle’s ‘Life with ED’ series as ‘required reading’ for anyone who needs to eat food, and last night she posted her last entry, about trying to normalize her relationship with food and her body especially in the wake of having had both major and minor surgery this year. Here is a little bit:

Eating disorder recovery isn’t linear, and it isn’t easy. I will probably never call myself “recovered;” I’ll be perpetually “recovering,” at least, I hope, since that is better than relapse. It’s a process and something that takes a lot of hard work. No one can do it for me. While some days it seems hopeless and that I’ll never be able to change the way I think about myself, some days are days like yesterday. And then I think, “Maybe not today, but one day.”

2. Gluten Free Treadmill – Falling in Love

Speaking of essential series, I really want Laura to re-publish her series from her ‘And This Is Thirty’ blog, but that is an entirely different topic. Right now Laura is doing a ‘Best of 2014 Series’, and the other day looked at her resolutions and bucket list. If you follow her you know she had a relationship earlier this year, so I loved reading this:

8. Fall in love. I did, and then fell out. But it was totally worth every second and I’m a better person for it and really ready for the next time.

And of course this one as well:

4. Be awesome and all-around hard-core. Obviously.

There is a ton more, and the rest of the series is great. And, oh yeah – she’s running ACROSS THE COUNTRY next year. So there’s that.

3. Fit Fresh and Funny – Loving Life While Facing Challenges

I have always enjoyed Laura’s blog, because she has had to deal with serious medical issues – and handles them honestly (i.e. they suck) but is always funny and up front with them. Recently what she thought was a migraine turned out to be viral encephalitis (in other words, swelling of the brain caused by a virus). If that sounds like serious shit – it is. But that didn’t stop her today from taking stock of all of the fortunes and happiness she has in her life:

Because I am exhausted, have a brain infection, and a relapse going on that makes me sorry I pushed myself the last week. But I also have a husband upstairs cooking me dinner while singing to the Violent Femmes at the top of his lungs.

4. Paleo Running Momma – But I Don’t WANNA!

I like to give Michele at Paleo Running Momma a hard time about being linear and structured – and she says it wasn’t always that way – but I also know how my wife doubled-down on structure and organization as a stay-at-home mom with little ones. It just works that way … or you get even more chaos! (heck, we still have a wall calendar with everyone’s stuff on it in our kitchen that we live by!). But yesterday she wrote about how without the rigor and schedule of a training plan in support of a marathon goal, she is floundering a bit finding motivation. I love that even as she is working hard to build her brand and coaching business (btw – she is doing special coaching deals right now, hit her up for details), she beings out some totally honest posts like this one. Check it out:

Because every morning I have been not wanting to get up to run. Like there hasn’t been even one day I just got out of bed without hesitating, it’s a struggle every day.

This really sucks! It’s amazing how I will complain either way. Which is it? Do you like getting up early or do you wish you could sleep later? Meh, I think it’s both. But right now I’m wishing I was happier with early. It makes for a much less rushed and stressful morning.

5. Fueled By Lolz – Body Image Insanity

Hollie can be totally hilarious – but she is often also quite pointed in what she is saying. Her post about signing a wedding dress waiver earlier this week is one such post. Because the need for a waiver is fairly new, and is based on the whole ‘bridezilla’ thing coupled with the trend of associating body image with a size number (which is why they say that the old store ‘5-7-9’ would now be ‘0-3-5’0! And so rather than think ‘I want to look my best on my wedding day’, it is ‘I am wearing a size 4 for my wedding’. See the problem for dress shops? Hollie takes it further:

It takes me back to this straight forward point: no one knows or cares what dress you are. No one cares your weight. At your wedding, people notice how happy and how glowing you are…not your damn dress size.

I used ‘bonus’ because I am sticking to ‘Friday Five’ as a theme and then cheating by adding two bonus items. So there are seven.

Bonus #1. Running Out of Wine – Phantom Technology Woes

I love when Lisa, who always comes across so structured and organized in her posts, lets things wander about with a ‘Thinking Out Loud’ that is true-to-name. This was one of those weeks – and what she said had me cracking up:

My Garmin keeps buzzing in the other room right now and I have no idea why. And I am too lazy to go check/go make it stop. Its also continued to do whatever it wants on many of my runs. Like the map will make it look like a ran through the harbor. I swear I’m not that talented.

Bonus #2. The Lyons Share – Own Your Feelings

I alreadu mentioned Megan for the quote at the top – which was an awesome event today. But I always love her posts – she is mainly doing a ‘Motivation Monday’ and ‘Foodie Friday’, but makes them all worth reading (such as this or this). Here is a great quote from her post about dealing with your feelings:

Even while there is a time and a place to put on a happy face, though, it’s not healthy to bottle up all of your emotions inside and pretend that you never feel anything but happy. I talk to my girls at Girls on the Run about the fact that emotions might be “comfortable” and “uncomfortable,” but they are not “good” and “bad.” Being angry, frustrated, sad, overwhelmed, or anxious might not be the most pleasant way to feel, but those feelings are valid and should be expressed rather than smothered.

How about me?

Well, if you follow me on social media you know I have had some good stuff happening in our family, which is exciting – more on that later. But aside from that it is just the normal wonderful life I enjoy – Lisa, the boys, the dogs and cats, great job, nice home, and so on.

What thoughts do YOU have to share?

Monday Moments – Grateful ‘Leftovers’, Pet Peeves and Random Reality Checks

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I survived 30 days of Grateful posts … and while it was rewarding and I loved all of the great comments, it was exhausting. But I was left with a bunch of thoughts – positive, negative, etc – that I figured I would just spill out … so here goes:

Grateful ‘Leftovers’
1. I am grateful for YOU. Anyone reading this, as I get a bunch of reads and views from non-commenters (which is fine, of course). The comments here, the great thoughts shared on your own blogs, fun pics on Instagram, and so on. They are great and make me proud to be part of this group.

2. The running community Here I am talking about online, local, pretty much everyone who runs or volunteers to help runners or works in some capacity helping runners. The stories I hear all over the place warm my heart.

3. The non-running community These are the people who get us to races, cheer us on, worry when we aren’t home when we said, and so on. They are also the people who deal with redirected traffic at races, runners with headphones not following traffic rules, and so on. I complain about the occasional ‘morning moron’ who intentionally tries to push me off the road, but in general everyone I meet and talk to and deal with is incredibly encouraging and kind.

4. My Co-Workers I have talked about how wonderful everyone was when I was losing weight back in 2012, and also noted the supportive people on my project team going back and forth to Kentucky last year. And this year has been great as well – I have loved watching as some people have succeeded at joining the ‘100+’ club and looking great, and continued enjoying the support. I got asked a couple of times about my 5K this week, and it is great.

While I’m at it let me add ‘The Power of a Simple Text’ – the way my company works is very project based, so I have worked with more than a dozen separate groups of people over the 6.5 years I’ve been there. For the most part things just fade into the background, you say a quick ‘hi’ in the hallways, or at local events if you see each other. But then there are occasional friends who stick with you – and I got a fun and friendly text from one person the other night that was just super-nice and very much appreciated.

5. Humor I love laughing and having fun – which is why I have shared things such as the Oatmeal talk the other day. I love comedy movies from Airplane to Monty Python to the Marx Brothers to Blazing Saddles and more …web comics, Dilbert, Bloom County, and on and on. I love the Instagram account ‘Unspirational’, and things like this:

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Pet Peeves
1. OK, this isn’t a pet peeve, but when I said in a post I would alienate some people … I wasn’t wrong. In spite of putting out content consistently for a month I have lost readers and subscribers and followers – and that is after being virtually silent for a month!

2. ‘Clean Eating’ – I am a huge fan of eating well, eating REAL food, and so on. But as I have said, ‘Clean Eating’ is seldom used in a positive way – I see it on Instagram, blogs and so on as a ‘brag-term’, or sometimes a ‘superiority hammer’, but never as anything constructive. It is a vague and largely meaningless term as used. It might as well be ‘#ImEatingCleanerThanYOUBitches’ for the way it is portrayed!

3. Instagram Hashtag ‘Attention-seekers’ (because I don’t like that word that rhymes with ‘store’, and find it still has negative connotations towards women) … um, there was one young runner whose blog I used to follow who tagged all of her Instagram posts with things like #fitnessmodel and #fitspo and about 25 more #things … and it attracted the type of attention you might expect. Sure Instagram is another way of getting yourself seen … but what is your message, and how do your hashtags convey that and what type of audience are you attracting? I do NOT believe that all attention is good attention.

4. THIS! – I mean, is there even a web site there?

Is There a Site

OK, it is pretty clear if you look at the title what site that is, and I have emailed Michele about it, and we still follow each other and comment on posts and it is all in good fun, but here’s the thing – on the one hand people need to pay for their sites, maybe for the effort they put into blogging, and if lucky enough to get a few more $ on top of that. I also understand that to get that money requires advertising, which requires code that needs to be *seen* to be useful.

But on the other hand there are limits to what people should have to deal with – and if I am an email subscriber to your blog, and click on that link in my email, I should NEVER see another thing to sign up! That is just not cool – and it is not an ad that is making you money. And to have them double-stacked with an advert on the bottom? Yeah, pretty much useless. There are more than a few sites where I see the sign-up bar at top – and I already get the daily email from all of them. Please make it stop – we should be partners working together for the best overall experience, and while we know that usually includes advertising … try to minimize the clutter wherever possible.

5. Deleted Comments, Non-Replies, Link-Ups.

Look, it is your blog, do what you want. But always be mindful of what you are doing compared to what you want for yourself. I have had a couple of ‘interesting’ experiences recently…

Replies – We want people to comment, and should honor the time they put into reading our stuff and commenting with at least a small acknowledgement. Or not – but be consistent. If you get 20 comments and respond to 5, that is one thing … but if you get 50 and reply to 49 – not so cool. And if it seems to happen fairly consistently? … well, I have ended up unsubscribing from a few sites after what felt like a campaign of non-responses.

Deletions – Personally I have never deleted a comment. I know several bloggers who HAVE deleted some, but generally because they are offensive and/or inappropriate. This past week I saw a blog post that I found a bit ironic (it talked about what it was like in the ‘old days’ and the blogger is under 25) … and replied in a light but needling manner. I started getting notifications, and headed to the site to read more comments … but noticed that there were fewer than when I had left my comment – which was also gone. Oh well – not everyone can take a joke, and it is the right of every blogger to control their own narrative.

‘Living for the Link Up’ – I love ‘Thinking Out Loud’ posts that actually ARE somewhat random – because let’s face it, at this point in our blogging community I will see close to 100 posts on my blog feed that are just ‘Thursday’s Post’ with a TOL slapped on it just to get in on the link-up. We get it – link-ups are a great way to build readership (or at least increase numbers of followers). But while anyone can add a link to the link-up, PLEASE at least try – an ordered list on a single topic? That is NOT a TOL post 🙂

OK … enough whining 🙂

Random Reality Checks

1. Exhaustion – I loved doing the 30 days of Gratitude, but similar to when I pounded out those ’10 Days of You’ in 10 days, while also doing other things … well, I am burnt.

2. Plans for Rest of 2014 Blogging – I have a couple of other posts planned: (a) a Year in Review and Goals for 2015, and … Chances are that will be all I post.

3. What Happens in 2015? – no clue. As of right now I have no concrete plans. I would like to say I’ll do a weekly check-in, but I have no idea. I’ll still be running, and you’ll see me on Instagram, but I don’t know how much (if at all) I’ll be here.

4. Focus on Being a Good Friend, Rather Than Popular! – here is the thing: as I have slowed up blogging two things have happened: (a) I enjoy my favorite bloggers more and (b) my tolerance for BS and shenanigans has dropped to nil. So rather than do the normal ‘follow 100 blogs and comment like a mad fool to try to get more followers and so on’ … I have already pared my list back considerably.

5. I Miss My Other Writing / Review Crew – before I launched this blog (and even with overlap) I was an editor at another site, and had been writing running-related stuff (The Monday Mile) for a while. But I felt like it encroached on the unified voice of the site (though no one ever said that to me) while restricting me from really exploring what I wanted to write about.

In the past 14 months I’ve published nearly 400 posts on this blog, and have really enjoyed myself, but it has been all-consuming of my internet time. So on the other site I went from being an editor to a contributor to a no-show (and on another site I have totally disengaged) … and frankly I miss that crew. These are the best people I have worked with in the 20+ years I have been writing things on the internet, and when we all met in person for the first time it was as if the email discussion just continued but live – and when Lisa joined us the following year she was immediately part of the crew. I want that back, and have started working on writing more for that site.

So that is everything for now!

Thanks again for all your support!

30 Days of Gratitude – Day #21, You Guys Are Awesome (Mustache Some Questions Post)

gratitude

Continuing with my 30 Days of Gratitude, I am thankful for this incredible blog and social media community.

Day #21 – Sorry … NOT Sorry!

OK, when I got tagged not once but twice I thought ‘how am I going to do ANOTHER’ award post as a Gratitude post? Then I realized something – I don’t have to fake it!

Truth is, I would have totally left this blog and the community behind if it wasn’t for all of you great people – over the last couple of years since I started reading running & healthy living blogs and writing my own blog, I have learned SO much (um, tapering, fartleks, compression, I could go on forever!) – and thoroughly enjoyed ‘meeting’ so many great people. It is definitely something I am grateful for!

So when I got nominated by Harold and Nicky Nicole (sorry, couldn’t help myself!) to add my own post, naturally I could’t say no!

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4 names that people call me, other than my real name:
1. Dad
2. Mr. Anderson (normal)
3. Mr. Anderson (Matrix voice)
4. Mikey A (old nickname from high school & college, heard it a couple of times at reunion this spring!)

4 jobs I’ve had:
1. Newspaper delivery (Brockton Enterprise, Boston Herald, Boston Globe)
2. Retail associate (Bradlees, through high school & college)
3. Optical Engineer
4. Statistician

4 movies I’ve watched more than once (OK, since THAT list is in the thousands I’ll go with the ‘memorized’ concept):
1. Star Wars original trilogy (OK, three movies is cheating, but at least I narrowed it from all 6!)
2. Harry Potter movies (more cheating)
3. Real Genius, Airplane and Better Off Dead (yes, still more cheating)
4. The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

4 books I’d recommend (I just did yet another book post, so these are recent books never on one of my lists … links are NOT affiliate, just Kindle links):
1. The Art of Racing in the Rain (2009) by Garth Stein
2. Burial Rites (2013) by Hannah Kent
3. Gone Girl (2012) by Gillian Flynn
4. Sweet Tooth (2012) by Ian McEwan (Lisa was *not* a huge fan of this one 🙂

4 places I have lived (yeah, not big on moving 🙂 ):
1. Stoughton, MA. (25 years)
2. Troy, NY (college years)
3. Acton, MA (4 years)
4. Townsend, MA (13 years)
5. Horseheads, NY (last 6.5 years)

4 places I have been (tough choices!):
1. Cape Cod (about a million times during my life!)
2. Disney World (by myself once, and a few times with the kids!)
3. Karlsruhe Germany (a couple of weeks on business but plenty of time to explore!)
4. Antigua (honeymoon – such great memories!)

4 places I’d rather be right now:
1. Boston area / Cape Cod
2. London
3. Somewhere in the Carribean
4. San Francisco

4 things I don’t eat (perhaps this illustrates part of my food problem!):
1. Clams due to a strong reaction (by extension I don’t touch mussels or oysters), not allergic, but will be on the couch all day
2. Um … I tend to avoid processed foods, fried foods, packaged sweets, ‘chemical soup’ etc. But those are ‘avoid’, not ‘don’t eat’.

4 of my favorite foods:
1. Ice cream
2. Fresh fruit
3. Sweet potato
4. Peanut butter

4 TV shows that I watch:
1. Twin Peaks (Old Fave / re-watching)
2. Doctor Who
3. Castle
4. Grimm

4 things I’m looking forward this year:
1. Maintaining running, fitness, weight
2. Danny graduating and starting college
3. Chris doing his college search
4. Whatever adventures Lisa and I have

4 things I’m always saying:
1. How are the college applications going?
2. Are you guys almost done with homework … we’re going to bed
3. Time to wake up!
4. True story!

Have you done one of these posts? If not … consider yourself nominated 🙂

30 Days of Gratitude – Day #18, Being Recognized

gratitude

Continuing with my 30 Days of Gratitude, I am reminded that we are never too old to appreciate having something nice said about us.

Day #18 – Aw shucks, thanks 🙂 !

OK, being honest here I got nominated for a Liebster award by Carmy last week, and thought about how I was going to integrate that into my Gratitude posts … and then on Friday I got a great recognition from the leadership of the project I am working on for some things I have done. This was great for multiple reasons – it is always great being recognized for hard work, I am enjoying what I am doing and feel like I am making a difference on a project that has the potential to make a REAL difference, and well … it gave me an excuse to do another Liebster post disguised as a Gratitude post! ha!

liebster

So first off, thanks to Carmy for this excuse nomination … and let’s go!

1. What is your current health related goal?

Maintain my weight (no more, no less) and state of fitness (best of my life) and keep up my running through this stupid winter we’re starting to feel!

2. What is your biggest irrational fear?

Getting stuck. I am sure this related to always being heavy and large (separate – I am not a small person even at my thinnest), but also because I have two occasions in my childhood that I always go back to. One time in the woods behind my grandmother’s house we were exploring rocks and there was one that had a decent sized entry but the exit was too narrow for me … I started to try but no way – fortunately I could back out easily enough. The other time a few friends and I were swimming and going through the ladder … and I got stuck. Fortunately I was tall and strong enough to get myself up and breathing and then out … but it scared the crap out of me.

3. Do you enjoy wrapping presents?

As a thing unto itself? No … but in the context of giving to others, especially the wife and boys, I totally get into it. When the kids were little wrapping didn’t matter. But now it does – so we will try to disguise what is actually in the package. It makes it loads of fun.

4. What’s your favorite cross training activity?

Biking – because it is something Lisa and I can do together. We did a couple this year, and my fave was our picnic 15 miler to Sperr Park.

5. If I came to visit you, what would we do?

Definitely go for a run through the area – maybe head to the Catharine Valley Trail for a scenic run. Depending on the weather we would hike one of the gorges, do a picnic up at the top … or if it is lousy we could hit the Corning Glass Museum then explore market street and end up at the Market Street Brewery (then Market Street Coffee and Tea after!).

6. You have 2 weeks off of work and 2 round trip plane tickets to ANYWHERE. Where would you go and who would you take?

I would take Lisa, and we would go to England, starting in London and working our way all around the UK.

7. What’s the most embarrassing thing that has ever happened to you during a run or race?

During my first run of the Red Baron Half Marathon I was coming to the final water stop. The road had been recently repaved, so the water stop was just off the side, and there were rough edges … and I caught one and went tumbling forward and almost took out a woman handing out water and the whole water table! haha um, yeah, embarrassing. Couple of scrapes, but nothing compared to how silly I felt!

8. Tell me the 3 best days of your life. Or at least the first 3 that pop into your mind.

The birth of our first son is definitely one of those days – Lisa had a c-section, but the OR was like a party, and Danny was so healthy and everything was just amazing and awesome.

My beautiful picture

That day when Lisa and I got together with our mutual friend in Boston and Lisa was getting off from work at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, coming down the stairs with a huge smile and her hair braided back … it is a magical moment emblazoned in my memory even 25 years later.

Wedding1

The third one that comes to mind is ‘our wedding’ … but it is funny, and Lisa and I were talking about it this weekend. We each grew up as ‘pleasers’ and it was something we worked on for many years, so it was hard to ever feel like the time leading up to our wedding was ‘ours’ – her family was in a power struggle and for my family our wedding felt like a speed bump on their quest for a great vacation with friends. And when we were married we had to deal with the shenanigans her cousins played in our room (oh so funny), and as we visited both after-parties we felt like an after-thought and were happy the next morning to be gone on our honeymoon. But we had seemed to forget how to relax.

So for my third day it would be Wednesday of our honeymoon – we’d absorbed being married, adjusted to being in a resort with a few hundred other couples with the same anniversary, and made a decision to relax. That day we were away from the hustle and bustle, playing ‘lawn chess’ with the big pieces, taking time on the tennis courts, hitting the beach to read, relaxing sitting in front of our bungalow … perfection.

ChrisRead1

Another memorable day that I would love to count as one of my ‘best’ was the birth of Christopher. But the c-section was very difficult due to extensive scarring – and ended up with Lisa in the horpital for two weeks, and having a recovery that took her 9 months to truly feel better. And Christopher decided to join the party by nearly drowning in the amniotic fluid and have a traumatic entry, then later on stopping breathing and turning blue in front of me and ending up in the NICU. Definitely a defining moment in our lives.

9. Okay, you HAVE to eat a fast food meal. What restaurant would you choose and what would you order?

Does Panera Bread count? No … ok.

Then I would choose Subway, and get the turkey footlong on the honey oat bread, loaded up with every veggie they offer and with honey mustard for dressing.

10. Have you ever met a celebrity?

I have, but I am not a ‘star struck’ person and think the whole ‘cult of celebrity’ thing is really bizarre. But one of my favorites was meeting guitarist John Scofield in the elevator of the Charles Hotel in Cambridge and just chatting for a few minutes. He had just released Electric Outlet and was just about to finish his time with Miles Davis, and I was just a college freshman and was totally into his music, and it was a great couple of genuine moments.

11. Share a picture of yourself in non workout clothes!

Unlike what seems like the majority of bloggers, I actually spend the majority of my time in non-running clothes! Here you go:

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12. If you could choose to have a ‘do-over’ and switch careers, what would you choose and why?

If I had known I would veer towards optical physics as I finished my degree and throughout my career, I think I would have chosen University of Rochester (at the time Kodak was SO huge and the university center on electro-optics was world-leading) … but then I wouldn’t have met Lisa and my boys and had all of my other life experiences.

I am never good at these ‘do over’ things …

13. If you won the Olympic Gold Medal – how do you think you would react?

Pure horror that so many talented athletes had died that they had to finally pick me to get the medal.

14. What do you want for Christmas?

Sadly what I need most is clothes. I love buying clothes but hate spending money on myself. So as we hit the fall I have enough work pants and short-sleeved shirts … But I just went through and disposed of about 75% of my long-sleeved shirts because they were all bought in Massachusetts (note: we’ve been more than 6.5 years). So that is where I am at.

Aside from that, surprise, surprise – running stuff. More specifically – running mittens, heated gloves and/or PLEASE something to keep my hands warm! haha

15. What skill do you lack?

There are MANY skills I lack … but I assume it is something that I would WANT?

Photography. I have never been a very good photographer, and although I have become much (much) better through the years, I still suck.

Still looking for more useless nonsense about me?

This is not my first post like this … I have done three before – here, here and here! Enjoy!

Nominations?

OK, so who can I put this one back onto? I looked at Carmy and those who nominated her and those who nominated them (yes, three levels back) and made sure (I hope) I wasn’t double-nominating anyone! I love all of these bloggers and can’t wait to read what they say.

Sara at LifeBetweenTheMiles
Ann at Ann’s Running Commentary
Harold at Harold’s Running Chronicles
Laura at Fit, Fresh and Funny
Cori from She’s Going the Distance
Fallon at Slacker Runner
Michele at Paleo Running Momma
Susie at TheSuzLyfe
Sammi at Peace, Love and Ice Cream
Carina at Carina’s Running Career
Rachel at Darlin’ Rae

And as a bonus …

Danielle at T-Rex Runner for two reasons (1) I always love reading her stuff and (2) she threatened my life the last time if I ever nominated her again.

And … a video!

And this year is my 30th high school reunion, which I can’t attend (7+ hour drive over Thanksgiving weekend? Um, no) and for some reason I have been remembering one of the first high school dances we had – in the cafeteria (much lower ceiling than a gym) and the theme was Celebration … and we heard THIS song a few times …