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!

Running Holiday Games, Three Gifts and a Thought

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Hi everyone! Hope everyone who got a long weekend for the Christmas holiday had a great and relaxing time, and those who (like me) get even more time make the most of that! Just a quick few things today …

Running Holiday Games

As I have done a fair amount of miles – just over 23 on Christmas Eve, more than 10 the day after Christmas and about the same on Saturday. All of those were mid-day runs, so I got to get a good look around, and I just found it interesting. I typically run the same half-dozen or so routes, so I get accustomed to the sights. I don’t know about anyone else, but when things change – I tend to notice!

– Loads of out of state plates … family all over.
– I miss when their younger daughter was in high school and they put out the big inflatable dreidel an menorah.
– On their phone … on their phone … eating … actually paying attention … on phone …
– Gone for the holidays again, wonder where their families are located?
– Love seeing four generations out together.
– Hey – isn’t that ___’s daughter? Wonder how she’s doing at ___ (small Corning world when this is more than one!)
– They’re gone … wonder if their daughter had the baby?
– Is he actually old enough to be driving?
– Interesting they put up so many decorations and are gone all of Christmas week.
– Biking around Christmas … such gorgeous weather.
– Two people I work with – one is Jewish, the other Hindu … and they have Christmas decorations up for the kids – a reminder of my ‘two Christmas’ theory!
– Loads of cars yesterday, all gone today – wonder where they headed?
– He/She looks so fast but I am catching up to them … this HAS been a good year for me.

Have you been out and about and noticing all of the little things in your area?

Three Gifts

My Christmas list was pretty short – wardrobe replacement. Changing shape means that clothes no longer fit, and at this point I want stuff that fits rather than stuff that is too large. Which means a great new set of awesome clothes and an upcoming trip to the clothing charity donation drop. But I got three really cool running-related gifts I wanted to share:

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Brooks Glove/Mitten Set – I constantly complain about how cold my hands get … so I was thrilled that my boys ordered me a 3-in-1 glove/mitten set. The liners have a fleece interior and are pretty warm themselves, but then the mittens have a wind-block exterior to keep my hands warm and protected. This is just awesome and exactly what I needed!

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Frozen Band-Aids ‘for the nip-nops’ – OK, this just totally cracked me up! You really don’t think ‘bloody nipples’ unless you are a male distance runner – or a family member of a male distance runner! So opening this package … priceless!

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A Supportive Family – This was taken at the Woodhouse pub in Corning, which is really close to the skating rink where we just did a family skating outing. Over the last nearly 3 years of me being a dedicate long distance runner my family dealt with my new focus as it helped with health and weight and fitness, then became weary of how much of an impact it occasionally had, and in the past year it has become part of our lives.

And as the gifts above indicate, along with their concern about me ‘getting in my run’ … they really get it. Running is part of me, and therefore is a part of them – but like anything else, it is just a ‘thing’, and therefore when it seems to be pushing too high in my mind I can count on them to call me out on my BS. And that is part of being a supportive family – being there behind each other, but also providing a reality check when needed.

A Thought

Earlier this year I wrote about running from the perspective of the runner, and also the non-running family member. As I noted at the time, the feedback I got about the first one was it was a bit ‘tone deaf’ with respect to non-runners.

Well, a couple of weeks ago I read a post that has stuck with me, because it is a long post that is stunning in the extent that it is reactionary … to the point of saying of non-runners “they don’t understand what happiness really is.” Which is just plain scary. I’m not linking – I left a comment on how unhealthy I found the attitudes presented (not to mention the ‘hive mind’ replies), and that is good enough.

But reading that brought me a realization: if you re-read the post substituting the word ‘Vicodin’ for running you would be concerned for the life of the writer. Running can be an incredibly healthy practice – I am thankful every day that I can get up and go out running for about as many miles as I want with almost no repercussions. But it can be a substitute for dealing with reality, an escape from life and responsibilities, and can even become an unhealthy pursuit when taken to the extreme. Which left me with a thought:

If you have immersed yourself so deeply in something that you are skipping time with family, friends, work events, things you used to enjoy, obligations, think only of that thing, ascribe to it qualities greater than it can possibly deliver, and of those who question your newfound obsession you instantly assume nefarious intentions and doubt that they ‘know what happiness is’ … you might have a problem.

Happy Monday!

Recipe Sharing: No-Bake Peppermint Cookie Truffles with Candy Cane Sprinkles

The Finished Product

The Finished Product

This is a recipe I found on LovaLatte last year and we all thoroughly enjoyed them. Emily is Vegan and therefore her recipe … is vegan (surprise, I know!). So if you are looking for an incredible vegan dessert … DO IT!

But last year I also looked up the nutritional info between the vegan and non-vegan options and was reminded of a certain reality: just because something is Vegan or Gluten-Free DOES NOT mean it is healthy or low-fat/calorie/whatever!

So when I decided to surprise the family with these … I went for the non-vegan options.

Ingredients:
– Package of Mint Oreos
– Bag of milk chocolate chips
– 4oz cream cheese
– Candy Canes
– Muffin cup liners

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Just five simple ingredients

Two Thoughts
– Cream Cheese – mine was the ‘light’, but in this case it doesn’t matter which you choose … so do full fat, light or the non-fat types. It is flavor and consistency that matter (so probably stay away from the ‘whipped’ stuff)
– If you buy pre-smashed ‘peppermint dust’, you are paying WAY too much and losing the opportunity to smash things with a hammer … your loss. 🙂

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Your weapon of destruction

Directions

1. Put the Oreos and candy canes in sealable plastic bags (squeeze out the air)

2. Smash them to bits.

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Former candy canes

3. Combine the Oreos and cream cheese in a mixer until they form a smooth paste. Start on lowest setting and work up … otherwise the cookies will get everywhere.

4. Using the microwave, melt the chocolate until it is smooth and creamy. Tip: it is easy to seize chocolate – so do it for 30 seconds and stir with a spoon, then in 10 second increments. You actually want to see chunk in it while you stir it, as they will work out over a few seconds of mixing.

5. Take a melon-baller or small ice cream scoop and make balls out of the cookie paste. There is no ‘right size’ … I make them large so I only get 12, but there is no reason you can’t get 24 more reasonably sized servings.

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You can dunk the cookie balls or put chocolate on the top and bottom. Either way is awesome

6. This is personal preference, I’ve done both to equal acclaim:
– Dunk the balls in the melted chocolate and transfer to the muffin cups.
– Or, put a teaspoon (ish) of chocolate at the bottom of the cup, then drop the ball on top, then put another teaspoon or so on top.

7. Sprinkle some of the smashed candy canes on top of each cup. Make sure that the chocolate is still melted while doing this so the pieces will embed.

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Just one trip to the freezer away from eating!

8. Transfer to the freezer to chill.

9. Enjoy!

And that is it for me until next week – I hope everyone who celebrates has a great Christmas, everyone who gets time off from work gets to relax and enjoy, and in general I wish the best for everyone 🙂

Parent Brag Moment – NYU Tisch Film School Bound!

All The Broken Little Leaves

Last week I promised to share some good news with a little tease, and noted that those who follow me on social media already saw it. So for those who don’t, here is the news: our older son Danny applied ‘early decision’ to New York University and specifically the Tisch School of the Arts in the film program.

And … he was accepted! Not just that, he got what my wife called a ‘BIG ASS SCHOLARSHIP’ that meant rather than the expected tense sitting around the table with computer, pencil and slide rule trying to squeeze out enough money to get him there … last week were able to simply say ‘you’re going’, click the ‘Accept Offer’ button (which naturally comes with a good sized ‘deposit’ requirement) and that is it … he is part of the NYU class of 2019.

If you asked me a year ago when we were going to be now … I wouldn’t have known what to tell you. He was getting solid grades but his study habits were atrocious, and in one of his AP classes it was having a significant impact, and so we got him involved in a special ‘study plan’ that involved the teacher and guidance office. We did that for a few months and while I would like to say it helped, I think that simply maturing, having older friends graduating and heading to college and having his own aspirations are what mostly got him back on track.

It has been an amazing transformation – he has grown up and matured so much into an amazing young man, with an incredible artistic vision and deep and insightful way of looking at the world.

When looking at colleges it is one thing to look on paper, another to see it in person. So while he had an interest in RIT (Rochester Institute of Technology), he pretty well hated the campus. He liked the University of Rochester Campus, but not the programs. His other schools he liked for both academics and the campus were Syracuse, SUNY Purchase, and Boston University. But NYU … there was just a palpable difference … this was totally his place. There was no question – it was a great fit.

I want to share his portfolio video that he submitted (and wanted to get his permission, which he gave me yesterday), but first wanted to share some images from our trip:

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This was taken from the window of our apartment where we stayed for the week.

 

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Couldn’t have asked for a better place!

 

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Washington Square Park – NYU surrounds this, calling it ‘their unofficial quad’.

 

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In the bookstore … these were the books they were looking at …

 

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… not these. I was looking at these.

 

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Filming a jazz combo playing in the park.

 

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At Alice’s Tea Cup on the upper west side

 

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Central Park selfie!

 

It was a great vacation, and more importantly we came away with the school that was far and away his top choice … and will now be where he is living starting in Fall 2015. Here is his portfolio video (note – there is NSFW language and difficult themes):

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!

Why Not Everyone Should Run a Marathon

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The other day one of my favorite bloggers, Lisa at Running Out of Wine, posted about “Why Everyone Should Run A Marathon” … and since I was apparently feeling rather contrary, I had to disagree – at least in part. Not that I don’t LOVE the marathon and running long distances … just that I think it isn’t for everyone – not even all runners.

Actually one of the motivations for me to write about this and take an opposing view was that I felt like “everyone else is falling over themselves to agree”, and typically that means either an obvious truth or a bad case of ‘hive mind’. And apologies to the commenters, but I think it is the latter. As runners we so often just can’t see outside of our bizarre little cult! More on that later …

Anyway let’s jump right into things!

How I Agree:

Lisa made some really good points about the process – here are just a couple:

3. You will learn to push through when things hurt or get hard.
5. You will overcome self-doubt time and time again.

These are things I agree with, along with much of the basic reasoning she stated, and think that stepping outside your comfort zone is important, as is pushing yourself (basically the same thing) … and also setting and working towards audacious goals.

Where I Become Unsure:

2. The process takes a whole lot of dedication.

I loved this article about marathon running and what happens to you:

In the weeks leading up to the race, you will undoubtedly find yourself in the pub on a Friday night, talking to a friend with intense zeal about how you “really need to work on speeding up your splits”, or you’ve “been experimenting with a combination of electrolytes and gels”. STOP. Take a breath. Go and take a long, hard look in the mirror. And ask yourself why you have turned into a wanker.

That cracks me up, but the reality is that things like putting in a couple of 20 mile runs takes TIME. If you are working full time, are in a relationship, have pets and/or kids … then it is no longer about just YOU. Suddenly there are multiple people involved – and the ‘required dedication’ goes beyond you. Again, more on that in a bit …

How I DISagree: Here are 10 reasons you should NOT run a marathon:

1. You just aren’t THAT into running: if you managed one 5K on a ‘Couch to 5K’ program and thought it was OK, but suddenly have loads of people saying ‘you HAVE to run a marathon now!’ … and all you can think is ‘ugh, I thought I was done!’. Then you get registered and take a look at a training plan and realize ‘this sucks … I HATE running!’

2. You can’t afford to pay your rent: marathons are EXPENSIVE. In general you can plan at least $100 for registration alone. And unless it is local, plan extra money for food and travel and someplace to stay. Also plan to add money to your weekly grocery bill for the added fuel you’ll need … as well as new running shoes, more clothes, higher laundry expenses, and …well, if you get really into it the costs can quickly spiral out of control!

3. You can’t or won’t allocate the training time: maybe you have a job with long hours and a longer commute, maybe you’re in a new relationship, maybe you are addicted to Skyrim or Minecraft or quilting or origami or whatever … regardless the reason, unless you can plan to set aside at least a dozen hours a week strictly for running – as well as added time for stretching, icing, rolling and whatever else you need – you might be training for an injury rather than a race!

4. You have been injured running before: if you know anyone who has been injured in the past, you know that once your body is weakened in a certain spot it is more likely to get re-injured in that same spot. The saying I heard ages ago “bad breath can be cured with a Tic-Tac, bad knees are for life” comes to mind.

Also, unless you have experience or a coach or fitness partners it can be nearly impossible to find that line between GOOD pushing and BAD pushing. Another old saying “turn the screw until it snaps, then back off a half-turn” … translates pretty much into ‘keep pushing until you have a stress fracture … then back off’.

5. Your primary goal for running is weight loss: sure you MIGHT lose weight training for a marathon – but really only if you are very much overweight. The reality is that once you are close to your ‘correct’ weight (whatever THAT is) you are at least as likely to GAIN weight as to lose it. And for many … that is a total cause to freak out!

6. It will deplete your immune system: regular exercise helps keep you healthy. But like a few other things on this list, once you go past the 10 or so mile point and particularly up to the 20+ mile level for marathons, you are depleting your immune system. THIS is why rest and recovery are so important … and why with a busy non-marathon schedule it is so easy to end up sick and subsequently injured.

7. Your REAL goal is to go faster or do shorter distances: we have been sold on believing that races are progressive – a 10K is ‘better’ than 5K, half-marathon is more ‘real’ than 10K … and marathon is the pinnacle (ultras are just for crazy people 🙂 ). News Flash: It is NONSENSE! No race or distance is ‘better’ than the others – they are all different. What you need for each one is different and as we are all different people some of us will excel at shorter, faster races while others can plod along forever.

8. Because everyone else is doing it: good old peer pressure! I’ve known people who have done some running even though it wasn’t their thing, just because someone else was – one even tried to train for a race because they are very competitive with their significant other! Marathon training is a significant commitment that should really be internally motivated.

9. You Just Want to BQ!: this might seem weird, but I have heard and read about people who really weren’t runners but who were motivated to try to push for a marathon based solely on the Boston Marathon … and this goes all the way back to the 80s! The problem is that with THAT as a singular goal, unless you have significant natural running skill, you are likely in for a much longer and harder path than you imagined. And if you tick off any of the OTHER items on the list … maybe you should start with a 5K or 10K and see if you catch the ‘running bug’.

10. Your Heart isn’t healthy enough: we all know that exercise is good for your cardio-vascular system. But we have also learned that distance running such as marathons can damage your heart a little bit, especially if you have not put in the time to build up your fitness level. It is another good reason to know your risk factors and get yourself checked out before embarking on something like marathon training.

OK, so given that I do at least one run longer than a half-marathon most weeks all year long, and this summer seemed to have a 20+ miler at least every other week … I might sound like a hypocrite. But here’s the thing – I LOVE running, and for me running and marathoning have been some of the greatest things in my life. Running has been a constant companion for nearly 26 years, and I hope to still be running in another 26 years!

But perhaps the BIGGEST reason why not everyone should run a marathon is that they haven’t considered the impact that marathon training can have on their lives and relationships.

Understanding The Context of Your Running – It is NOT All About You!

Last May I posted about ‘Helping Your Non-Running Family Understand’ … and the swift, strong and negative reaction from non-runners in my real and virtual life led to me posting ‘The Other Side of the Finish Line’. The bottom line is this – these things are never so simple as they seem, and individual activities really don’t exist for anyone with attachments and responsibilities outside of themselves (which is pretty much everyone to varying degrees … and those with significant others and kids even more so).

There is a term used mostly jokingly called a ‘running widow’, basically talking about the impact of long training seasons on pretty much everything else in life. It wasn’t something I was really aware of for most of my life … until last year. During 2012 I was losing weight, on a great pursuit of getting fit and healthy and eventually running a marathon. Lisa was the most supportive person in the world, but worried about my restricted eating and constantly told me to ‘not do something stupid’. That is because she is smart – I WAS being stupid.

But in 2013 I was traveling a lot for work to Kentucky (pretty Mon-Fri much every week for 6 months), and also ran two marathons and a half marathon. It was a bit much, really – but again, my family was there for me every step of the way. But another thing I did in 2013 was to start taking rest days whenever Lisa and I both had a day off. And into this year Lisa would still feel odd when her schedule changed and we’d be together and it was obvious I had planned a long run – and to be fair it took me some time to let go of all of that – and talking it through with her (surprise – it all comes back to fear of getting fat again!).

Last year I also came across a couple of blog posts about the potential for training (running, triathlon, etc) to ruin your relationship, here and here. There was also an article in the Wall Street Journal back in 2011 on the subject.

I had thought about this more than a few times this year as I was reading about training, and also when I felt pressure that I HAD to go out for a run, or comments from friends or family or the boys. I am definitely fortunate to have moderating forces in my life to ‘keep me real’. Not that I am saying I see too much ‘not real’ on the internet … well, I guess I actually am.

A couple of other links to ‘running widow’ posts I’ve stashed in a couple of drafts over the last year or so (I’ve told you guys I am a ‘draft junkie’!) – The Running Widow, Losing a Spouse to His Hobby, The Non-Running Spouse, Confessions of a Running Widow, It’s Me or the London Marathon, Marine Corps Marathon Leads to Divorce … and OH so many more! Here are a few quotes:

… He was taking this running far more serious than I ever wanted to and at that moment, I remember looking at him and saying “I am done running with you. You just sucked all of the fun out of this.” And that is the day when I became a “running widow”.

It’s a common affliction, being a widow to a spouse’s hobby. My father was a golf fanatic and as a result, my mother was a golf widow, and I grew up a golf orphan. …

… These people, they are driven. You don’t try to shape the experience. You just accept them and support them and get out of their way, because they’re going to run. They’ll find the hour. They’ll work it in however they have to. You can stay in bed.

So if you read on and are nodding in agreement or perhaps sympathy then the chances are, you too are a Running Widow. And a Running Widow knows that the support doesn’t start and end on race day, but somehow (and none of us can exactly pin point when it happened) you turned into a one woman cheer squad/ exercise nutrition expert/cook/chauffeur/masseuse and nurse.

Now don’t get me wrong, you may like running. Indeed I am quite partial to jog along the beach on a sunny morning, and have even been known to take part in City2Surf, voluntarily. But a Running Widow knows another world of running. It isn’t a charity fun run, or just a way of keeping fit, it’s a world with words like Hoka, Garmin, S-Labs, Kilian, Skins and Glide, and where the North Face isn’t just somewhere you shop for a ski jacket. …

… Sporting widowhood spans all disciplines, from golf to football, but marathon running is by far the most all-consuming. It seems that jogging 30 to 55 miles a week is fundamentally incompatible with socialising, dating and basic conversation – unless, of course, it’s to do with the marathon. And I’m not the only one who’s struggling to cope. …

… Marriages across this great nation are being torn asunder due to excessive exercise.

Experts are calling it “exercise divorce.” The out-of-shape partner left on the sidelines calls it irreconcilable differences with someone devoted first and foremost to a great set of calves and the daily endorphine rush. …

Nicole wrote a great post (that referenced a great post from Michele that I couldn’t find anymore) called “Does life get in the way of running? Or running in the way of life?” … and it fully addresses the reality of the challenges of trying to have a full life AND be fully engaged with marathon training. Spoiler alert: it is NOT easy!

And that is OK – and the struggle those ladies express is natural and felt by many people trying to juggle too much and adding yet another demanding activity to the pile. THAT is not the problem … the problem is when you DON’T ask yourself that question … when you start saying “I have a long run, guess missing that dance recital is OK”, and of course your kids will say ‘sure, it is fine’. And then it gets easier … and easier … and suddenly you are easily missing birthdays, anniversaries, school events – and pretty much deserting your life FOR A HOBBY.

Am I making too big a deal of this? Probably – we are all a product of our likes and interests, and in a relationship we have interests that overlap, those that conflict and still others that are separate. But there is a significant difference between a 5K and a marathon in terms of the scope and time and length of training investment. If you are not in it together … then it is something that is between you. That doesn’t mean it is – it is just something you need to deal with, otherwise it can become a serious issue as noted in many places around the internet.

Just as divorce and breakups and other problems can lead someone to pursue a marathon … so too can the pursuit of a marathon lead to problems in relationships that you weren’t expecting.

What are YOUR thoughts on all of this?