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?

Things People in the ‘100lb Club’ Wished You Knew

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This month marks two years since I joined the ‘100lb club’ … again. A couple of weeks ago a coworker posted that she has also joined the club. Well, that isn’t what she said, but it was basically the same thing.

Note: my focus on the 100lb club is not intended to diminish what people experience who have lost 10 or 25 or 50 lbs or struggled to gain weight … it is more focused on the physical reality that rather than an ‘adjustment’, a 100lb weight differential represents a true body-morphing.

And further, when Lisa lost about 50 lbs a decade ago many things I talk about below happened to her – it was amazing watching some of the preschool moms change in how they looked at and treated her … all of the ‘catty’ stereotypes were in full force.

What is the 100lb club?

The 100lb ‘Club’ isn’t a club at all, but is quite simply about people who have lost more than 100 lbs. I had read about it as a term used on several forums and fitness groups to identify as a milestone for extreme weight loss. Bottom line – if you have lost 100 lbs or more … you started out significantly obese.

As I said, this month is two years of re-joining the 100lb club. Actually, I am in the ‘110lb club’ – I am approximately 110lbs lighter now than I was in March of 2012. But as I have noted – I was much heavier when I graduated college – in fact, as of my wedding in 1992 I would put myself very close to the 200lb club! The reality is I won’t step on the scale until I feel I am making positive steps, for fear of being so dejected I would quit. So when I weighed myself over 375lbs, I know I started higher. And before my wedding I was down to about 185lbs, which is 190lbs weighed difference.

My colleague posted about her weight loss as part of a Facebook ‘gratitude challenge’. What she said was touching and poignant, so I am stealing it:

I am grateful for my willpower and motivation. It has carried me through this journey to a healthier me. I am also thankful that I have found inspiration through others – their stories, their accomplishments, their pictures (thank you [redacted, but included me]). 112 baby!

She has lost 112 pounds – and it shows in every way. She looks great, feels great – and has the confidence to KNOW she looks great and be happy with that. Honestly it is great seeing that in someone else.

But something happens when you lose that much weight – the world shifts. Sure YOU change as well, but you also become aware of things that perhaps you didn’t notice before. Or maybe people feel more comfortable saying things around you that they wouldn’t have before. Either way, I thought it would be interesting to share some things I have found through the years personally, and have shared with others who have lost large amounts of weight.

We Will ALWAYS Be That Fat Person Inside

It is really weird – I have spent nearly all of the last 25 years within 20lbs of my ‘target’ (I am actually ‘below target’ now), and yet I cannot look in a mirror and see myself for the thin person that I am.

Part of that is self-image. Being so large as a child, my formative years were filled with self-identification (aided by the joys of other kids) as a fat kid. So I will always be that fat kid in my mind.

The other part is physical – losing so much weight changes your body, and unfortunately not everything falls neatly into place. The most recent public example was the case involving Shape magazine I’ve discussed in the past. The reality of ‘loose skin’ is perhaps the biggest disappointment of extreme weight loss – because all of the shows and magazines make you think you will suddenly look like one of the models they show off … or quite frankly, like a normal thin person. But you don’t.

No, Fat Jokes and Making Fun of Fat People are NOT Suddenly Funny

This one honestly shocked me when I first lost weight – because it started with people who knew I had been fat for 23 years and thin for less than a year – and yet I was suddenly supposed to take pleasure in ridiculing people who were heavy or who got out of breath easy?

For people who don’t know me, I had it explained that no one would ever look at me and think I was morbidly obese – I mean, I have a large enough frame that at 6’1″ I was on the offensive and defensive lines in high school football and was a force to reckon with … and now I have a ‘runner’s body’ and that is how people see me.

But that assumption has led people to feel it is ok to berate fat people with me standing there – someone said something last year, and another person in the group said ‘you know Mike was even bigger than that guy just a couple of years ago’. You could have heard a pin drop.

So what that did for me was to show me that that I was NOT imagining the eye-rolls, and looks and snickers and so on … because once I was no longer fat, I heard them used on other people.

We Can Never ‘Take it Easy’

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You see that tiny bag of Peanut Butter M&Ms? It has sat unopened in my work backpack for a couple of weeks now since I got handed a sample in the store.

I will never eat it. Never.

Sure you can tell me it is only 100 calories or so and not a big deal. You can compare it to other things I eat such as the peanut butter chocolate cake recipe I shared.

But it isn’t about the nutritional content – it is an ’emotional trigger’ food. In 2011 and into 2012 I would very often have a bag of Peanut Butter M&Ms in my drawer at work, and one of the ‘WTF moments for me was eating an entire ‘large’ bag across two days. I felt disgusting in many different ways, and haven’t had any Peanut Butter M&Ms since I started back with running.

And for me processed and packaged ‘junk foods’ tend to fall off when I am running, but this time is different in many ways – I simply don’t want to eat them, and I am more careful than ever about what I put into my body.

And I hear about it – regularly.

‘Aw c’mon … you can just run another mile’.
‘You could use some extra calories, you’re too skinny’
‘You can just eat whatever you want’

And so on. Point is – once you have lost this type of weight, you don’t want to gain it back … ever. You want to maintain that great healthy feeling, so you avoid foods that make you feel lousy, and more important you avoid foods that you associate with being fat – and most of all you avoid ‘downfall’ foods. Quite often you no longer want them …

… but sometimes with food for someone who has gone through extreme weight loss, it is like waving a drink in front of an alcoholic.

Our Clothes are About US, Not You

Honestly this is true for pretty much anyone – so I am sure many people can identify with this: that moment when you go from wearing clothes that are 1 – 2 sizes too large to hide your body, to wearing fitted items that show off your body! Last Friday I wore my skinny jeans to work and realized the biggest problem with my new Samsung Galaxy Note 3 was the whole issue of pockets and fitted clothes and huge phones …

I have incredible memories shopping at the Jordan Marsh back in ’89 & ’90, totally transforming my wardrobe, showing off my new looks. I never really cared before … but now suddenly I did.

You Treat Us Differently … and We Notice

When I first lost weight, I was also getting my first job, and my life was changing in many ways. But I also maintained friendships with many people from high school and college and the retail store I worked all during those 8 years … and once we got past the issue of my weight and body transformation.

It is like you are suddenly part of the ‘in crowd’ … and it feels really good, until you pass someone who is NOT … and you realize THAT person was YOU a few months before.

Some of the ways I was treated differently:
– Before Lisa and I were dating, I had a flight delay on a connection, and had a girl sit down next to me, and she ended up inviting me to come to Shakespeare in the Park with her and her family.
– I no longer feel judged based on what I eat.
– Even at 48 I have women (some uncomfortably close to my kids age) who flirt with me.
– People seek me out, remember me, and go out of their way to include me.
– I realized that for more than a couple of people my weight loss suddenly made me ‘an option’ … which seemed flattering until I realized how incredibly insulting it was.

But the biggest one is the most ironic … when I was at my heaviest, when I could literally fill a door way – I was invisible. Now I am noticed.

We Are Not Experts, Spokespeople, or Advocates

It is incredibly awesome to have people come to me looking for ‘my secret’ … sadly many people leave disappointed when I say ‘eat less, eat better, and get some exercise’ as my secret.

I have talked about it before, but I feel that just as my body seems to conspire to gain weight when I do not exercise and watch what I eat – I get into a spiral of unhealthy habits, excessive portions, and lethargy … so too does it conspire to help me when I run. When I run I want healthy foods, I tend to eat less (it has been an effort to properly fuel my running), and so on.

I am a person with a story, who has successfully lost weight – I am not a nutritionist, a fitness coach or personal trainer, or someone who can ‘help your friend/spouse/child lose weight’. Yes I have been asked to talk to someone ‘as a former heavy person’ more than once.

But at the same time, I LOVE being a sounding board, I LOVE sharing my story, what I have been through, and how much running and eating well has transformed my life. But it is hard because I become a magnet for people trying to lose weight … who then avoid me like the plague if they fail.

What This All Means to Me

To repurpose the end of this article“But deep inside, I still am and always will be a fat boy, with a fat boy’s awareness that the world is not nearly as nice as it sometimes seems right now. “

But at the same time I notice something else that I saw elsewhere and copied into a draft months ago “Turns out I was the meanest person to me while at my fattest. There was nothing anyone could’ve said that would have been worse than the constant track running through me head of “You’re a fat piece of shit and deserve nothing”.

That One Person Who Is There For You

I have heard the line countless times on TV and in movies, and I saw it again just the other night “would you love me if I was fat?” Bottom line – someone whose love is conditional upon a pant size or number on a scale doesn’t really love you.

I have talked about my love for Lisa many times, and the great fortune I feel at the life and marriage we share and work to maintain … but beyond anything else she has known me not just at my best and worst, but also my thinnest and fattest. And she loves me regardless … because beyond thin or fat there is ME. And while her weight has also fluctuated through the years, my love for her has never been in question, and neither has hers.

I have always been lucky to have the greatest supporter and teammate in the world.

Monday Musings and Music and More

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Well, another long weekend of me not being around much … but something Megan said in response to a comment from me really rings true: “Isn’t it amazing that once you start to disconnect, it just seems so much easier to do so?” And the reality is – YES, it is true.

Sure I got runs in on Friday and Saturday, and had a very busy weekend, but normally I would have made sure I got some blogging done on Saturday … but instead I got in my run, and made sure I chatted with my older son about his girlfriend and how both were doing, and brought my younger son to do his DJ gig and then a few hours later had a late lunch with him and Lisa, and so on. What it comes down to is this: I prioritized reading and writing blogs lower than I ever have before. And that is OK.

1. Run for the Memories

I have talked before about how much I love exploring places by running, and for more than 2 years I have run everywhere I have visited. In fact, in a month I will be in North Carolina for a conference, and aside from meeting with some of the best minds in statistics and seeing one of my friends and colleagues speak, I am really looking forward to finding a new place to explore through running!

But this weekend Harold had a great post about when running is about MORE than just the run. He details what I would call a ‘run through the generations’ – his dad, an old coach, places where his siblings lived and grandparents and grat-grandparents lived, old factories long forgotten, and so on.

As I mentioned in the comments for his post, I wonder what that would be like for me. For the house I lived in until the middle of first grade it is impossible, as it and the whole neighborhood are now part of an industrial park. And my parents lived in a different town than their parents, who were half-way across the state from their parents. And for me, no one in my immediate family lives near where we grew up, and most of my extended family is scattered up and down the east coast.

What would a ‘running through your memories’ look like for you?

2. No Race Weekend

I didn’t run the race I was planning on Saturday, for several reasons:
– Friday was very busy with the move-in, and also emotion, and a long day (past midnight)
– Both Lisa and Chris had to work Saturday, and I knew they would be long days.
– The previous year had 700 runners and about 1400 people … and a parking lot that fits about 16 cars (and on the other end of the trail one that fits a dozen.
– I would have had to bike over due to logistics, and when we were sitting up past midnight the night before I thought ‘no … not gonna happen’.

Am I disappointed? A little … Lisa and I were planning to do it together, she would have walked and I would have run and it would have been fun. But ultimately I am more disappointed that we didn’t do it together than about my choosing not to go.

I had decided I would have done the 5k, because I really was interested in that ‘sustained pain’ feeling. I still haven’t run a 10k so it would have been ‘instant-PR’. Oh well … there are always other 5ks – even this coming weekend!

3. College Move-In

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The situation that had us with a fully loaded car last Friday morning is someone else’s story, but it was a fun and rewarding day and I was glad we could help out. The picture above is our son and his girlfriend.

Cornell is a beautiful campus that is really its own community, isolated by a few miles from the heart of Ithaca. It was a very busy day, but we were there to help every step of the way and got to see how much things have changed since Lisa and I had OUR first college move-in days 31 and 30 years ago respectively.

I do love how much has changed to really focus on the successful integration of new students. When I started it was more just a few social events then BAM into classes. Now they have loads of things throughout the calendar to help the kids learn how to navigate the school and their future.

4. New Phone

I posted about this on Instagram, but I got a new phone this weekend. It is a Samsung Galaxy Note 3 – and it is HUGE. The goal? To see if this device can replace both my iPhone and iPad for the majority of things, such as blogging, email, RSS feeds, and so on. Music software remains pathetic on Android so the iPad will remain for that, and I am really not doing much gaming recently, so it will be interesting to see if there is any impact on that front.

While I have had Apple products going back to 1979 and the Apple ][+, I have been an Android phone used from when they first came to Verizon right up until getting iPhone 5. At this point I have regularly been using the iPhone 5, iPad Air, Macbook Air, gaming PC laptop as well as a Kindle Paperwhite, Kindle Fire HDX, and Sony Playstation Vita. Yeah, too much stuff. Worse yet – I regularly find myself seeing something on the phone and then grabbing the iPad to type the reply. Makes no sense!

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One immediate thing? The Note 3 deoesn’t fit in my running belt. I see that the SPIBelt ‘large pocket’ fits these things well.

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And in general, I forgot how clunky so many things are in Android, as I work to get devices to pair, apps to link together and so on. I STILL haven’t gotten the Polar Loop to pair up correctly. Here is a good mantra: “With great flaxibility comes many hassles.”

5. Wealth vs. ‘Class’?

I subscribe to Quora because I love all of the discussions and reading great answers to questions. But sometimes the questions are … interesting. This one in particular documents parents who have shown their child a very warped view of the interaction between money and class.

Here is an interesting – and demonstrably true – view of reality from a different post:

in most cases lazy sons of multimillionaires end up better off than hardworking daughters of slum-dwellers

And from the post in question?

•My parents always told me to never leave a tip for waiters/waitresses at restaurants because they are just fishing for tips

Aside from being incorrect (and really just the tip of the iceberg of the article), it engenders an attitude of elitism that is unconscionable. And the wealth-based discrimination is every bit as real as any other type.

But the question I have for myself, and that I think we should all ask ourselves: in what ways do I have similar attitudes about things? I know that as a professionally employed, home-owning white Christian married male in America I have a position of considerable privelege. I just hope that when I can affect change, I do so to the best of my ability.

6. THIS Is America?

I have started and deleted many different things about the ongoing violence and racial tensions … and none of it felt right to me. I have always been a ‘question authority, but support your police & fire’. Because OF COURSE there is racism in police forces – these are people, and people are racist.

But there is also tremendous bravery and kindness and goodness and a desire to help – because these are people, people who choose a dangerous profession hoping to make a difference.

Here is my basic thought: the problem isn’t the police, it is US. Because they are us – and the problems reflected there in terms of race, religion, gender and so on … are problems endemic in our society at large.

My biggest problem comes with the militarization of America. When Reagan invaded Grenada, there was a groundswell of pride, and the decades since have built up the concepts of ‘American exceptionalism’ and ‘might = right’. More scary is how starting in the late 90s we have seen police forces equipped with tanks and so on.

So what we see more and more in the country is exactly what is shown here:

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7. Movies are Easily Diagrammed

You know how most times when you are watching a Rom-Com you can see the formula coming into play? Y’know, how the two people who will eventually end up together have a ‘near miss’ (or are just friends), there is at least one ‘other’ romantic interest, then in a dramatic turn there is the realization that ‘the one’ was always rigt there? Over at Neatorama this is diagrammed out for a number of genres:

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How do you feel about this? Is it accurate?

7. Do You See a Problem?

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I just started getting Tennis magazine, and two issues arrived at once. Both covers are from the very top playes in the field, one is male and the other female. One has a person playing tennis, the other has a sultry, over-the-shoulder barely clothed shot. Am I overly sensitive thinking WTF? Personally I think Maria Sharapova looks awesome playing tennis, just like Roger Federer.

8. Almost School Time!

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Hard to believe that we’re already at the point of heading back to school. This past week was band camp – a week of 9AM – 8:30PM spent playing and marching and drilling … the kids were lucky that the weather was generally nice. Two years ago we had a heat wave, last year alternated between hot and thunderstorms. There was only one rainy day this year.

If you are looking for my boys, they are the tuba on the left and bass drum on the right. This was as close as they got during the ‘public practice’ on the last night. The final song was rough – but what I love is that we will see an amazing progression from now through the competitions throughout September and October.

9. My Running Summary

For the most part this was a pretty ordinary summer week – out early, do my run, do my abs, get ready for work and go. Here is the summary:

Sunday: Bike trip with Lisa
Monday: 9.75 miles
Tuesday: 9.75 miles
Wednesday: 10.1 miles
Thursday: 9.75 miles
Friday: ‘Rest’ Day (College move-in)
Saturday 14.5 miles, fast & flat

The weekly total was about 54 miles running, plus a great long bike trip with Lisa, and a busy day walking around with heavy boxes at Cornell! I was definitely happy with my runs this week, especially my long run on Saturday – I really pushed the pace throughout, trying to keep my heart rate up at all times. And I continue enjoying trying to get in my ab work and planks every day! I don’t want to let this great habit stop!

10. Music New and Old

We watched a bit of the VMAs last night … and as always I don’t know why. For me, they represent the absolute WORST of music – it isn’t a celebration of artistry, or even of music … it is a self-gratifying celebration of celebrity as personified by those with the most marketing money to spend. I have very little good to say – except that I loved Ed Sheeren thanking and handing the mic to the ‘guy who made the song’. That is important – pop music isn’t made by the people singing them … they are just the new ‘Johhny Bravo’.

Anyway, the most annoying thing for me was Nicki Minaj, whose one-trick schtick of fast-rapping is played out, augmented for the video crowd by booty-shaking. The song she did shows the depths of the current state of pop music – she has made an entire song from a line from a throw-away one-hit gimmick song from the 90s. Here is the original:

And here is the new rip-off:

The distinction? One was a joke when it came out, the other is supposed to be ‘artistry’. Puh-lease.

Finally, Lisa came across a new song she loved this weekend, and we added it to our iTunes and listened on YouTube – ‘Night Like This’ by LP:

Myself? I have mentioned that I’ve been re-stocking my iPod with older music that has sat un-played for too long as I was reviewing more and more albums over the last 5 or so years. One song I had completely lost track of? ‘Night of the Iguanas’ by Joni Mitchell from her 2007 album Shine.

Did you do any races this weekend? Any cool new music? How was YOUR week?

Motivation Monday – 21 Tips to Help You Keep Going

Long Distance Running

Last week I came across a post on Inc.com about ways to motivate yourself. I thought these were excellent, and while they were cast in a business frame, I could easily see them in a running and nutrition content. Here is a great quote:

You’d like to think you are going to be just as motivated and enthusiastic on Day 1,672 of work as you were when you first began.

But sometimes we can all use a bit of help to keep going.

I don’t know how often I remember reading very similar words on blogs during spring marathon training season … and while everyone is super-excited and motivated right now for their fall marathons, how long before we could all use a little push? Yeah, I thought so! 🙂

So I decided to pull out ten and apply them to our lives as runners and people doing the everyday battle of balancing fueling and weight control through their eating.

1. Necessity:

Unlike in business, you aren’t getting paid nor do you have employees – so ‘necessity’ is relative. Actually all you have to do is drive by a hospital and witness someone with an oxygen line taken off so they can smoke to realize how relative ‘necessity’ is.

We don’t NEED to run or race or whatever … or do we? Since many of us use running to feel better both physically and mentally, to be the best version of ourselves. We also talk about how it helps as friends, spouses, parents and employees, so maybe it IS a necessity for some of us!

2. Personal pride:

We all want to be our best, look our best, and feel our best. By eating healthier and exercising we can work at these things – I have said I am the youngest I’ve been in more than 15 years … and while a bit silly, I really mean it.

By correcting the disordered eating habits I relied upon to stay thin and replacing them with ‘eating clean’ (whatever THAT is) and a more robust exercise regime, I am in the best shape of my life, and getting better all the time!

3. Consider the alternative:

For me the alternative is right there in pictures – and I NEVER want to go back … not to the 240 lbs I hit a couple of times over the last 25 years, not to the 275 lbs I weighed in early 2012, and most certainly not to the 375+ lbs I weighed a year out of college in 1989!

The thing you have to ask – what is YOUR alternative?

4. “I’ll show them.”:

Lisa had a difficult time losing the baby weight after our second son – not helped by the very difficult complications, 2 weeks in hospital and 9 months before she was ‘herself’ again. But then she did it – and totally kicked butt! Once she lost weight she had a number of reactions – not all of them positive (and the worst of all were from other women). She once had someone say to her ‘I thought you would have been fat again by now’. Seriously.

So yeah, it seems small and petty – but so are the awful things people say sometimes. And if it motivates you to keep going, that is good enough.

5. Figure out why you are tired:

If your get up and go has got up and went … it is worthwhile to figure out WHY.

Maybe you have been over-doing the cardio workouts, under-resting, not fueling properly, getting dehydrated, not sleeping enough, too much stress, and so on. Figure out your reason and get yourself some rest before pushing it again. If none of those are true and the exhaustion lingers, maybe it is time to see your doctor.

6. Learn from your mistakes:

I always refer back to my utter stupidity leading into my first half marathon, and how trying to diet my way into and through a race was incredibly dangerous. I have become incredibly good at fueling and listening to my body since then.

Then in 2013 I constantly struggled with self-sabotage through WTF syndrome – Way Too Fast (Thanks Cori!). I dealt with that by making my winter half marathon all about even pacing. I feel so much better this year after doing that and have continued working on ‘running by feel’ ever since.

7. Don’t get in your own way:

Several people have written recently about issues caused by being overly Garmin dependent, or by getting in their own heads in any manner of ways.

As the saying goes, running is largely a mental sport, and as such your mind can be your ally or your enemy. Your body can do great things – but your mind can shut it down quickly. I remember the difference when doing planks that helped me jump from 1:15 to almost 2 minutes in a single day – I stopped believing I couldn’t do it. Then I did it.

8. Keep telling yourself the best way to predict the future is to create it:

We all have running goals – endurance, longevity, speed, whatever. Maybe we have a goal race or time or whatever – the main thing is that if we want to reach those goals, make them specific, then make the plans to get them done.

No it isn’t easy – just saying ‘I want to BQ in 2014’ won’t make it easy or possible … but it gives you a goal. Take that goal and make a plan, then take that plan and put it into action – and you will be amazed by the results! Just like none of us started out being able to do a 20 mile weekend run, so too are many of our other goals possible with hard work and patience.

9. Get some sleep:

Sometimes the right answer is to take a rest day. So what? That doesn’t make you a failure even if it means missing your goal mileage for the week or a ‘key’ training run. The phrase ‘recharge your batteries’ is apt because sometimes it seems like we are a cell phone that is in the ‘red zone’ for power and all we are doing is getting a small charge here and there but never really getting out of the red zone. That only works for so long … eventually you need a total refill.

10. When all else fails… keep putting one foot in front of the other:

I feel like this was what got me through the winter – people would say I was an inspiration, and yet all I did was say ‘crap, here we go again’ and headed out the door even when it was -20F. And they said it was THAT action that made me an inspiration.

But that is always my thought – just get out the door. Generally speaking within a mile you will get your mojo and be glad you did it. And if not … cut it short and take a rest day or two.

Final Thoughts

I get these business motivation articles all the time, and most of them are either too specific or too generic – which is pretty much true about all of the emails I get from Runner’s World and Competitor and so on. But the reality is that for all of us, at least ONCE we can use all of that advice.

Keeping up our motivation isn’t something that is ever a ‘one and done’ thing, so when I saw the article I read it and saw the instant connection to running. We all deal with days when it is a struggle to get out of bed, to lace up and go, to eat right, and to keep it all together.

Articles like the one at Inc are a reminder for all of us – that like everything else, our relationship with running and eating healthy is a long journey, with twists and turns and ups and downs. Like running a marathon you will have moments when you just don’t want to go on, and others when you feel like you are soaring. It is all about building energy to sustain you through the low points.

What do YOU do to keep yourself going during the depths of training season?

From the Archives: What Is A Runner’s Body?

As a reminder, I am on vacation this week and planning to be ‘mostly offline’ – so I scheduled a few post ‘reruns’ from the very early days of the blog (when I had very few readers)! This one was originally posted here.

The other day in her otherwise great post, Laura said “I don’t even “look” like a runner”. My first thought was ‘SURE YOU DO!’ … but my second thought was ‘I know EXACTLY how you feel!’ In fact, just before I started this blog I did a guest post on the subject for Ann’s Running Commentary. Here it is:

Here’s a quick mental exercise: close your eyes and think of a large group of people. Maybe folks you work with, go to school with, ran your last race with, or whatever. Have them in your head? Great – now separate them into two categories: those WITH runner’s bodies, and those who do NOT have runner’s bodies. OK, now place yourself in a group.

First off, I am going to assume that most of you put yourself in the non-runner’s body group. If not, you probably don’t need to read this … at least not for yourself!

Next, I am going to further assume that the division you made was very easy for some body types and difficult for others. Morbidly obese = non-runner; looks like Ryan Hall = runner. But what about someone who looks like Kara Goucher but is 50 pounds overweight? Or someone who has short legs, awkward joints, but is thin and muscular? And when you got to the ‘toughest’ group, what divided them?

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Right around college graduation

Now to break it down further, select 5 people from each side. Five runners, five non-runners. Choose gender as you wish to break down the differences. At this point you should have a pretty distinct idea about who does and does not have a runner’s body – and what it is about YOU that puts you in the ‘NOT’ category.

But what if I said that ALL TEN of these people had just completed a marathon? Suddenly you would start reassessing your decisions. And if I further said that of these ten, four had ‘Boston Qualified’ … but only TWO from the ‘runner’s body’ side? Again your decision-making would be thrown into turmoil.

So … What is the Deal with the ‘Runner’s Body’?

For many of us who came to running not as a high school or college sport but as a purely optional activity later on in life, weight loss was at least part of the motivation. Perhaps overall fitness, but even in that case it generally starts with dissatisfaction over how we look.

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At a convention the summer before college senior year

As I mentioned before, I graduated high school at 275 pounds and college at 375 pounds … so it is a fairly safe assumption that I was very unhappy with how I looked and felt. As I also mentioned, for me running was all about weight loss and maintenance – and after that the ability to eat more or less whatever I wanted with few consequences. Well, other than the consequence of never really hitting my ‘ideal’ weight, and that when I stopped exercising the weight would gradually come back.

But for the last year or so my goals have been about speed, distance, and seeking constant improvement in my running as well as my diet and overall health and fitness. It might seem like the same thing, but in reality my outlook, priorities and goal system is very different than ever before. I concerned myself with running shoes (instead of whatever fit and felt decent and was less than $50 on sale at Foot Locker), running clothes, form, pace, and general tracking.

I also learned about looking at food as fuel. Again, it is something I have always known and my eating habits tend to be naturally pretty good, but I learned about losing weight by myself with the advice of others in the 80s and again when my wife was in Weight Watchers a decade later. And frankly, aside from ‘eat real food and avoid processed crap’, most of that stuff was wrong. So now I am properly fueling and eating more ‘superfoods’ and learning great (and not so great) new recipes every week.

To go along with it, I started caring more about my appearance. Whereas before I was happy running ~12 – 15 miles a week and being ‘thin’, now I am asking more of myself. Not just more mileage, but also more speed, variety, and overall fitness.

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Early in the 2012 weight loss process … still close to 250lbs

I lay this all out for a reason: for the first time in my life people are quick to assume I’m a runner – I have been told that I ‘look like a runner’ in some form many times this year. Before I would get a ‘oh, you’re a runner’ reaction that was not dismissive but also did not do much for my already crappy self-image. Now I will get comments like ‘you can save on car rentals by running to the plant’ from people I have never directly mentioned my running.

It is weird – because I certainly do not see a ‘runner’s body’ in the mirror. What is it that holds me back? It is pretty simple: I do not see myself as either small or thin. Let’s take those one at a time.

I do not see myself as small: look, I played on the high school football team for a year until a faulty set of pads combined with a well placed hit gave me a hairline fracture on my sternum. More importantly? I played on the line. I played intramural football throughout high school and college – always on the line, where I was a force to deal with. My waist is a 32, and I am not likely to ever be smaller than that. That is small – but not something likely to put me on target for a ~0.5 height to weight ratio typical of elite marathoners. So … I will always see myself as ‘big’.

I do not see myself as thin: part of weighing 375 pounds when I was 23 before I started losing weight is that there are remnants that will never fully go away. By remnants I mean ‘loose skin’. Yuk, I know. Also, having regained 50 pounds a couple of times and the 100 pounds I lost in 2012 means more ‘skin stretching time’. Basically at the top of my stomach I have a ‘six pack’, but by the bottom I have a small ‘spare tire’ that will never fully disappear. While I KNOW it is loose skin in my head, the ‘u r fat’ voices in there always manage to drown out that knowledge when I feel vulnerable.

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2013 Finish of PA Grand Canyon Marathon

So … I have a ‘Runner’s Body’, but I don’t.

And that is where the problem begins and ends – inside of my head. Because since I started running in 1989 I have been a runner – and I’ve had a runner’s body. And so do you. It might not be your ultimate goal weight or fitness level, and you might not have the arms or legs or butt or abs you would like. But you have a runner’s body.

Because you know what defines a runner’s body? The body that carries you through the miles of running.

Wordless Wednesday – One Picture of Me

10 Day You Challenge

Today is the last day of my ’10 Days of You’ series … and the theme is “One Picture of Yourself”.

Well … I decided to cheat. Sure I will use one ‘picture’ – but I decided to make it a collage. Rather than just me, I included many views of myself, as husband, father, worker, runner, crazy-cold weather endurance runner, dog lover, and someone for whom family absolutely comes first. Here I am:

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Again I want to thank everyone for the amazing support and comments throughout the series – I have learned loads of things about all of you as well as myself, and this ended up being much more fun and more rewarding than I ever could have expected.

I was just looking at that picture again and realized something – there is NO ‘Fat Mike’ picture … does this mean I no longer count that as part of my core identity? Now THERE is a great way to end this series!

What would YOUR ‘one picture’ look like?

Wednesday Wandering Mind, “I Run …”, Stopping the Streak, and My ‘8 Fears’

i Run

It has been a while since I did one of these Wandering Mind posts, but not for a lack of randomness! Since I have so much stuff … let’s get right to it!

1. Shaking Up The Workplace

A really interesting article at HuffPo last week looked at the worst places in the world to work. The worst places had obvious problems such as “murder and disappearance are regularly used to intimidate workers”. Denmark was the only country to meet all 97 worker’s rights criteria. How did WE do? Not so great … and really not a surprise to me.

The U.S., embarrassingly, scored a 4, indicating “systematic violations” and “serious efforts to crush the collective voice of workers.”

OK, that is fine – but what should YOU do?

Well, a few articles this week look at a variety of options. First off, you might need to deal with shifting workplace standards like this woman who suddenly found herself with a much younger boss. Personally for me the difficulty has always been the boss themselves, never the age – old, young, same age … who cares, doesn’t matter is they are good. Actually doesn’t matter is they aren’t good either – except that perhaps there is the opportunity for feedback to help them out more if they are younger (and if they are older and are lousy, that is really unfortunate).

You might even try to make big changes at your company – I know I read these posts about good and bad habits of various companies and see both sides in pretty much every company I have worked for or worked with.

But, ultimately maybe you have found yourself in a job or company you know you hate – check out this list of 10 reasons you need to quit your job in 2014 and see if it is time for a change.

2. National Running Day

Cori is hosting a link-up for National Running Day, and while we discussed the insular nature of many of these sorts of things (i.e. most of us will ‘run for running day’ … same as any other Wednesday), I still think that any effort to get people moving is a good thing – even if it is a ‘greeting card holiday’ (e.g. Brooks is sponsoring some of the efforts around, which gives them free advertising).

For my ‘story’ … well, I am going to be lazy and just refer back to my posts on the story – because it was just last week! Here is part one, and part two – which point to my guest posts for Laura here and here.

For today? Like I said, I got up and ran. And with no watch, no GPS, nothing – and I tried to mix up my route as much as possible in the time I have. Did about 9 or so miles, and felt lighter and speedier than I have since last week.

3. Powerful, Poignant Slam Poetry

My kids participate in an after school club called ‘WAS”, which stands for ‘wider arts society’. My older son did a slam poem at one meeting recently, and he previewed it to use … powerful stuff. This video was put up on YouTube a month or so ago and I have had it in a ‘drafts for later’ post ever since. It is something everyone should watch … and if it doesn’t move you, check your pulse.

4. On the Santa Barbara City College Shootings – Yes, The Onion is Satire, But …

I don’t even know where to start with the recent mass killing in California, but it was interesting that The Onion did a take that was poignant enough that there wasn’t the normal confusion over whether or not it was real, and people on my Facebook link just expressed sadness. I am not sure exactly what to do with that … but I’m pretty sure that it is meaningful.

Also, Mark Manson has an article on how we miss the point on these shootings. Thought provoking stuff.

5. Ending My Runner’s World Streak

I talked about the brutal hill repeats I did with my 12.5 mile run on Sunday on Instagram, and coming after my 14.5 mile long flat run on Saturday, as well as coming after 3 rest days in all of May … well, my body was telling me on Sunday that it was exhausted.

So I woke up on Monday ready to NOT run … and that was exactly what my body was telling me. I got up out of bed … then went back to sleep. Because a running streak is essentially meaningless – but listening to your body, is incredibly important.

6. Own Your Happiness

The other day Suz talked about regrets, and Sara in her ’10 Day You’ post ‘called BS’ on people who “don’t have at least one thing they wish they could go back and change.”

Over at Greatist, they take it a step further – rather than looking backwards, they look at the NOW. What can you do NOW to be mindful of all the little decisions we make every day to control our happiness? It is a fun little read – and it is always worth looking at the things we can do to improve the quality of our lives.

7. OK … just randomness

I love this video of a reporter trying to keep up with elite marathoners at the Stockholm Marathon.

What happens to our body when we stop drinking water?

More on Water – from Medium: ‘An Explanation of Water and Our Bodies’:

I drink lots of water but still feel thirsty!
This happens to a lot of people. Some research groups have calculated that about 95% of North Americans are constantly dehydrated. Normally trying to drink the right amount of water every day can fix this (side note: the ‘correct’ amount of water for you is half your weight in ounces, meaning a 150lb person should drink 75 ounces per day, equal to 2.25 liters), but most people don’t drink that much.

I have talked before how I really don’t like all of these artificial ‘love’ and ‘celebration’ days – Valentine’s, Mother’s, Father’s, Bosses, Grandparents, and so on. I love this Penny Arcade comic on the subject … because regardless of what we say, there are almost always at least minimal expectations.

I am often posting about the BS of the music business, and how much of what we think we ‘choose’ has been force-fed into our brains. So if you think music has become more diverse, or your tastes are ‘I will listen to just about anything’ – there is a REALLY big chance you are very wrong. Why? Because 1% of Artists Earn 77% of Music Revenue. So those few names you hear? The industry makes sure to concentrate YOUR dollars there to keep up their (the executives) revenue streams … which in turn makes a very few people very, very rich. All of whom are mainstream and have massive teams who do most of the work behind whatever you hear.

Are you a fan of the classic story Strega Nona? Here is a Barnes & Noble ‘Online Storytime’ feature on the book.

And finally – and assuming everyone knows already how I would feel about this … “11 Signs You’re A Men’s Rights Activist”

1. You have no problem with the gender wage gap. But you hate having to pay for dates.

2. You insist that it’s a scientifically proven fact that men are stronger than women. But you complain about society believing that it’s worse for a man to hit a woman than for a woman to hit a man.

3. You believe that the age of consent is unfair and that there’s nothing wrong with having sex with teenage girls. But when you find out that a teenage girl enjoys sex, you believe she’s the biggest slut in the world.

4. You hate when a woman automatically assumes that a man is a douchebag before getting to know him. But when you like a woman who likes another man, you assume he’s a douchebag just because he’s not you.

5. You believe that if women want equality, they should be drafted into the military. But you also believe that the military is not a place for women.

6. You hate when women assume that men are like wild animals. But you believe that a woman who doesn’t cover up and make herself invisible to men is just like someone wearing a meat suit around wild animals.

7. You hate the fact that men are bullied for not conforming to their male gender roles. But when you find out that a man disagrees with your beliefs about women’s rights, your immediate response is to try to emasculate him by comparing him to a woman as an insult.

8. You hate when women assume that there are no nice guys. But you call yourself a nice guy and act like it’s a rare quality that should cause women to be all over you.

9. You hate when women assume that men just want to get laid. But when you find out that a man is a feminist, you assume that he’s just doing it to get laid.

10. You hate when women make generalizations about all men. But when a woman calls you out for being sexist, you claim that all men think like you.

11. You insist that women should be responsible for protecting themselves from being raped. But when they follow the one piece of advice that actually works, which is being aware of red flags, you complain about them assuming that all men are rapists.

10 Day You Challenge

OK, so now I am up to Day 3, and the theme is Fear.

Day Three: Eight Fears

1. One of the boys dying – they say there is no worse feeling as a parent than losing your child … and honestly I never want to find out.

2. Lisa dying – at this point in my life I know people who have lost spouses. Not to freak accidents, but to cancer and heart attack and so on.

3. Being Unable to Provide for My Family – Getting laid off put the impermanence of things in perspective … and coupled with the info above about the US as a not-so-great place for workers, I worry that something will happen and I will not be able to work and keep us going financially.

4. Being stuck someplace confined – I don’t have severe claustrophobia, but I remember being a kid and having a narrow spot between rocks to get through … twice, and barely making it. Being larger than the other kids didn’t help.

5. Becoming Mentally Incapacitated – the threat of Alzheimer’s disease is very real and very scary. On the good side I look up and down both sides of my family and there is no history of dementia. But the thought of being unable to function in that way scares me.

6. Losing my vision – I am very fortunate to have great vision, but I have also noticed in the last couple of years that my up-close vision isn’t as strong as it used to be, to the point where for really small print I will just use the magnifier on my phone. I know reading glasses are in my future – which is fine … but the thought of being completely unable to rely on good vision? Not fun.

7. Losing My Love for Running – I hope to always remember that awful feeling of trying to restart running in March 2012, because (a) it makes me appreciate how far I’ve come, (b) it helps me empathize with others just starting out and (c) it is a reminder how different my post-thyroid landscape is.

8. Getting Fat – Yeah, this really shouldn’t come as a surprise. I know it is one of few things on this list entirely under my control, but it is still a deeply held fear that motivates me in many good and not-so-good ways.

Bonus. Miles Davis and Keith Jarrett – Last Concert of the Bitches Brew Era

From November of 1971, a DVD was made of the Miles Davis group that disbanded later that month. The group consisted of Miles on trumpet, Gary Bartz on saxophone, Keith Jarrett on electric piano and electric organ, Michael Henderson on electric bass, Leon Chancler on drums, and Mtume and Don Alias on percussion. The band represents the last links to the “Bitches Brew” era. The concert is sublime, and as the DVD is out of print, a YouTube version is available that no one seems worried about taking down.

Here is the entirety of the concert:

So what is wandering through YOUR mind today?