Sunday Randoms – Go See a Doctor, Safety, Pandas and Other Fun Stuff

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OK, since I jumped back in, I figured I would just continue as long as it lasts … and as I mentioned I had a bunch of drafts going anyway. This is really like a ‘wandering mind’ or ‘thinking out loud’ post, but let’s just roll with it!

Sexual Violence – Must Read Stuff

I have put myself out there pretty strongly in favor of just treating everyone fairly and equally … which apparently makes me a ‘social justice advocate’ and ‘feminist’ and a lot of other terms that I whole-heartedly agree with … but which shouldn’t be needed. I mean, isn’t it all just basic human rights and decency?

Anyway, I am also a big support of Laura and her Run Across America 2015, which is seeking to promote “sexual violence awareness and prevention”. This week she wrote a post called “Sexual Violence”, which was pretty cool but honestly what I thought of as common sense stuff. She said:

As I start to talk more and more about next summer’s Run Across America, I’m realizing that there is some confusion that revolves around exactly what sexual violence is, let alone why it is important to raise awareness. Understanding what sexual violence is, what it looks like, and how it affects the victims is an important first step in this awareness campaign. As I talk about sexual violence over the next 10 months (and hopefully longer), I’d like to make sure we are all on the same page. This is the first step towards a national and global understanding of what it is and why it is so important that we all work together to raise awareness and work towards prevention.

But then the next day she wrote about “Perpetuating the silence?” where she noted that:

Yesterday, after I posted an informative post on what sexual violence is, I watched as my number of blog followers dropped.

And THAT is what surprised me! First off because the basic post is pretty simple and obvious stuff … but also because the whole issue of sexual violence is at the core of why Laura is running across the country and doing her PhD. I mean, how could you even read her blog and not know this? Anyway, check out her posts, they are good stuff.

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Fall Safety – Remember YOU Are Responsible

Last month we got the news of a woman in a Central Park crosswalk struck and killed by a racing cyclist. It is a tragic accident but only the latest reminder of how fleeting life can be – and that we must take responsibility for our own safety.

An article from earlier this year talked about how distracted driving is not just responsible for more crashes and fatalities, it is also responsible for more loss of life for runners, pedestrians and cyclists.

The image above is from one morning a week or so ago when it was super-foggy, like National Weather Service fog alert level foggy. I ran (of course), but with headlamp and reflective gear and was super safe … and had no issues. But the next morning it was clear … and I was nearly swiped by someone who wasn’t looking while backing out of the driveway – and to be clear, I was on the opposite side of the street, and ended up well on the grass as his rear wheels nearly went off the road!

But I was alert and present throughout – and could see the potential for danger, and took action in advance and throughout. I never assumed he would see me or behave safely. I assumed I had to stay clear, and as a result all that happened was I uttered a few remarks and he drove off looking at his phone and listening to music and oblivious to the person he nearly seriously injured.

So as the days get shorter and people adjust to their commute being in the dark, take extra time and responsibility to keep yourself safe. Because all I want to read about for all of you is how great your running and health and life is going …

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Words for Runners to Remember From the T-Rex Runner

Sometimes it hurts having your own words turned around on you, and other times it is the absolute best possible thing. This week Danielle wrote a post called ‘Negative Nancy, Be Gone!’ where she whines discusses how her pessimism has gotten out of hand lately and is worried it might impact her going into her marathon this weekend.

One comment threw her own words back into her face … and they are absolutely perfect:

I’ve never regretted a race I’ve entered – even the one marathon that I did not finish. Every race is a learning experience, whether it feels good or feels bad while you’re out there. Remember, running is a pretty incredible gift that we’ve been given, and it can be taken away at any second, as this week’s events have proven. Celebrate the luxury of running while you have it, and don’t get too bogged down in worrying about the outcome of the race. All you can do it get out there and do the best you can do that day. If your best is a lot of walking, but a finish, then it is what it is. You can do it!

These are things to remember regardless – doesn’t matter if it is for a race, running for fun, or whatever … our ability to go out for a run is a gift, and one we should cherish. It is something I talk about a lot, because I see it around me. For me, approaching 50 years old with the ability to just ‘go for a run’ is a very precious gift, and I take it seriously.

The Luckiest Cyclist EVER?!?

After hearing about the Central Park accident I also came across a video at Buzzfeed that shows a cyclist who should have died two or three times during a terrible course of events … yet ended up helping others instead. Just check out the video:

An Interesting Look at Two Types of Marriage Equality

I love the web comic xkcd, as it often talks about either very technical or very important issues in ways I find both hilarious and engaging. Last week he had one that looked at marriage equality, and used inter-racial marriage as a contrast. I have mentioned that growing up I knew that so-called ‘mixed marriages’ were still rare and somewhat taboo, and this comic puts that in perspective:

Once again xkcd nails the essence of a critical point.

To me this tells a pretty great story. And while I am (obviously) strongly in favor of marriage equality, I have to applaud those who are opposed on moral grounds, because UNLIKE when I was growing up, it is rare to hear about violence committed against gay married couples unlike the violence against mixed-race couples. So I guess that is progress?

Don’t Say No To Panda

And to finish up … there was a great video Jonah Berger (also on Twitter) shared with us at the JMP Discovery conference as part os his talk … and then the subject of Pandas came up with my boys and I searched it out to show them … now it is your turn:

More Tech Fun

There is always something new to talk about, isn’t there? Here is some new stuff I am playing with these last couple of weeks.

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This is the Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4, a great Android tablet – and the Zagg Universal Bluetooth keyboard, which is just awesome and very portable. I always like having Android as well as iOS, and the Tab Pro has excellent performance and plenty of features … though I have hit the ‘phone vs. tablet’ wall a number of times already, which is frustrating after so many years.

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These two will have reviews coming soon – the Garmin vivoSmart and the Wellograph. Each is a fitness band that tracks steps and calories and distance, and reports to your phone via Bluetooth.

The Wellograph is amazingly stylish and has a sapphire crystal screen, and also has a multi-LED system for tracking your pulse in real-time. It allows for activities and a wide number of options. It stores up to four months of data, and the battery is supposed to last a week. And it costs ~$350.

The Garmin vivosmart is the next generation from the vivofit – not only does it track your steps and sync to your phone, it also acts as a smart-watch by reporting notifications (with vibration) from your phone by maintaining a low-power Bluetooth connection. It connects to an ANT+ heart-rate monitor for activity tracking (and real-time display). It costs $169 or $199 with a heart-rate monitor.

Each has pros and cons, and I will get into more detail in the coming weeks.

What great new stuff did YOU read or hear or do this week?

Friday Free-for-All – Look Twice, Save a Life!

Look Twice Save a Life - Runner

On Wednesday as I was out running I noticed a few lawn signs for the motorcycle safety campaign ‘Look Twice, Save a Life’. And since I had just done my ‘Slow the F Down’ post I was thinking how it would be great for drivers to be careful of all the runners out and about.

Here are some other thoughts this week:

Running – the weather has been hot and humid, but I am not complaining … it just awesome to toss on my shirt and shorts and GO! As a result I have been pushing it … I had done more than 70 miles last week, which caused me to look back: in May I’d done 29 of 31 days and over 250 miles, and was up to 14 out of 15 days in June with about 125 miles … and so I took off this Monday and will also be off all weekend and really try to get some rest.

Abs Challenge – I have been loving this challenge, but it has been a killer! Each day after my run I do my ab work and plank, and have happily gotten my planks well over 2 minutes, but they are TOUGH!

Rug burns on the elbows have improved by using towels, and my strength is definitely improved – carrying the air conditioners around wasn’t a big deal! The one thing – while my abs tighten, my skin does not … it is a reminder I will always carry with me.

Food – it is funny (and great) to feel like you are in touch with your body. As I have pushed the miles, my body has been very clear about wanting more, and so I have give it more. I have been happy that what it wants more of are fruits and healthy smoothies and veggies … but still, it is a great thing.

Also, I noticed just how many of my meals I cool are either Paleo or Vegan without even planning it that way – one night it was grilled Portobello with roasted vegetables and corn on the cob, the next grilled chicken with grilled veggies … it is amazing how these habits can enter into our lives so thoroughly that we don’t know they are there.

Why I care so much about ALL of this ‘Social Justice’ stuff

I have been asked a number of times why I have such a strong stance on ‘social justice’ issues, and I think I can sum it up pretty easily:
– Getting picked on for being fat in elementary school definitely had an impact. I am not a violent person, but all of my fights were in elementary school, and all come back to being made fun of for being fat. THAT has impacted my ‘view of the underdog’ throughout my life.
– I was best friends with the only ‘person of color’ in our baseball league … and I really had no idea about what that was like for him until seeing racism in action – what I got for being fat he got MUCH worse for something that was beyond his control.
– I had a few gay friends in high school, some who were ‘out’ and others who didn’t come out until later. Those who did took loads of abuse from so many people, which really bothered me (see above). Yet I didn’t know the extent of their abuse for many years …
– Going to RPI in the early 80s was a mostly-male world, and what women were there were typically stereotyped by the outside world in a certain way. In Troy there was an all-woman’s college (Russell Sage) … and THOSE women were stereotyped in an entirely different way (the ‘joke’ was that the most popular degree program was the ‘MRS’ degree). I knew women from both schools to be smart, funny and all-around great people. Heck, I even married one.

As a result I have always felt strongly about one thing: we are all people, and deserve to be treated fairly and equally. It seems so simple and obvious, yet it remains elusive as it seems that some will find the most irrational and unlikely reasons to pile hate on others. That said, I have seen progress in my life … and hope I continue to see more, and that I am right that so much of what we see are ‘last gasps of desperation’ from racists and misogynists and homophobes.

Did anyone get the reference?

I love how Cori and Laura have the ability to suggest songs into my head. I tend to drop a number of ‘lines’ and references into posts, some more obscure than others. In the ‘Slow the F Down’ post part of the title was ‘hey you there’.

That cracked me up as I included it … but realized that it was unlikely anyone would get it. So I have to explain it anyway – in the computer game Star Wars Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast, most of the game is excellent, but the Stormtroopers have little variety in what they said ‘stop Rebel scum’, ‘don’t let him get away’, and my fave – ‘hey you there’ … uttered hundreds of times through the 25 hour game! haha … well, I cracked myself up anyway 🙂

Speaking Of Video Games

Have you ever noticed that every main character in a video-game is a 30-something grizzled white dude? Well, if not … you haven’t played many games! I noted recently how a dozen years or so ago I was roundly thrashed in one particular game forum for noting the positive female image one game had presented. Um … yeah. And it hasn’t improved.

At the latest game conference (E3) publisher Ubisoft – whose games fit perfectly into the “Ubisoft: Straighter. Whiter. Duder.” description Shamus Young used to describe them.

Bottom line – video game development is a ‘dude bro’ culture, which is sad because ‘nerds’ were supposed to go against the ‘dude-bro’ culture. Shamus has a great take on it here:

I want to stress that I’m not coming at this from a social justice angle. This is about business and creativity. If Straight White Dudegames are really where the safe money is at (and I’m extremely skeptical on this point) then I’m really not going to demand a corporation like Ubisoft to deliberately make less money in order to make things more “fair”. I know some people do. That’s fine. This social justice stuff gets touchy, and in the end we’re all just trying to make the hobby the best it can be.

But like I said in the column, this is a hard thing to test and Ubisoft hasn’t even tried. (Read the article before nitpicking this.) And no matter which way the money goes, Ubisoft is still creatively impotent. Like, even if you can prove that games won’t sell unless the protagonist is a straight white dude, there’s still no excuse for Adrian Pearce, who has less personality than Gordon Freeman’s crowbar and less depth than the Adventure rectangle.

Further to the ‘Sexism in Gaming’ problem, NPR notes how one developer chose to compare a software service execution framework … to his girlfriend. With predictably sexist results.

And finally on the Ubisoft & E3 sexism front, GI.biz notes that it always seems to be inclusivity – different genders, races, nationalities – that always gets cut. It nicely rounds out the points that Shamus was making.

As I have noted, I am definitely a gaming fan, but although I was playing shooters from the very start (had Doom on a laptop right after it came out as we drove up to Maine for the weekend), I have never been a fan of the console macho-game culture. Right now I am playing ‘Might & Magic X: Legacy’, a continuation of the classic role-playing saga I had started playing nearly three decades ago.

Why the Amazon Fire Phone Will Fail

Did you hear that Amazon was launching a phone? Guess what? You probably won’t buy it – I won’t buy it, and nor will most people. I am predicting its sales will be rounding error compared to the iPhone and Samsung Galaxy phones … and not even hold up against the HTC phones and Microsoft’s anemic Windows Phone platform. Why?

I love this quote:

Amazon has spent years developing a phone that addresses zero needs and relies on features that no one wants.

There are definitely some cool things:
– Firefly recognition technology – see a book or piece of art or running shoes you want … point your phone at them and your Fire phone will help you buy them … from Amazon.
– Unlimited Free Photo Storage – this just stepped things up major-bigtime! Add to this a nice looking 13MP low-light capable camera, and you have a real winner
– 3D tracking with four low-power cameras. Advanced face tracking
– Tight Amazon integration.

But … then there is all of this:
– Mediocre specs – getting the Samsung Galaxy S4 from last year is a better phone
– Pricing – now THIS was actually surprising, but for a ‘mid-range’ phone you are paying ‘flagship’ prices – $650 for the base phone without contract.
– AT&T exclusive – by doing this they essentially throw away more than TWO-THIRDS of possible customers. I am sure that they are doing this because AT&T seems to be the place to launch for favorable terms (like the iPhone, Nokia’s Windows Phones, HTC’s ‘Facebook Phone’, etc). But … if that is the reason, why not attack with price?

The worst thing is that I should be part of the target audience for the phone, and I had made my decision before the product announcement live-stream was over.

Why should they want me? I have been on Amazon since … forever – I have order info going back more than 17 years. I am a long-time Prime member, have an extensive Kindle library, own Kindle, had every Kindle Fire up to the new Kindle Fire HDX, have loads of apps and games, am part of their digital video game system, have the new Fire TV with game controller, and we spend more money there than just about anywhere … basically I am pretty well committed to the Amazon ecosystem.

But I also live in a Verizon-only area, and with an all-iPhone house Amazon would have to give me a good reason to switch – and a load of stuff that does nothing for me but helps them sell more stuff is NOT it!

What about you?

Resiliance

I reblogged this yesterday, but I really think it is a great and important message. Here is the original.

The Passing of Another Legend Leads to a Reflection on Life

This past week has seen the passing of a number of celebrities and artists, and as often happens the majority are not widely known people who will be featured on news and entertainment shows, but journeymen artists such as jazz musicians Aaron Sachs and Jimmy Scott.

The two that crossed my news streams the most were baseball legend Tony Gwynn and jazz piano legend Horace Silver. There are articles everywhere about the two, but I love this take from Tony Gwynn’s batboy, and this retrospective on Horace Silver by Marc Myers.

When death impacts us directly it can be devastating – we get consumed by grief and sadness and despair. Yet what most of us want to leave behind is a legacy that makes people smile … for people to say ‘do you remember that time when … ‘ and have warm and happy thoughts.

I have been thinking about this because over the last couple of weeks there have been all sorts of other life-reflecting things: at work I know of people who have died or had cancer diagnosis or been hospitalized; same with friends outside of work – two friends from our past are dealing with cancer … and the sad reality is you know there is no guarantee. I know I am at that age when people start dying ‘young’, but from afflictions such as heart disease, cancer and diabetes that typically impact older people.

Kind of a heavy topic, I know … and I guess my take-away is to say that you should spend your life creating the moments that people will remember rather than the money they can spend when you are gone.

Here is a great classic song from Horace Silver to take us out …

Six for Saturday – Saucony Kinvara 5, Polar Loop, and Five Foods

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On Wednesday I talked about stopping my running streak – and the comments were all very positive and supportive. Over these past couple of weeks I have had the word inspirational used to describe me .. which already makes me uncomfortable. But my concern with my LAST running streak was that it did make for a good story, and I know a few people who did later streaks, some ended up fine and others wonder if it resulted in their injuries. Which all brings me back to my ‘Five Reasons Never to Take Fitness Advice From Me’ post. Yeah … still true.

Anyway, I have a few (mostly) running related items and my ‘Five Foods’. So let’s get started!

1. Saucony Kinvara 5

As you might have seen since I posted before and after pics on Instagram, I got a pair of Saucony Kinvara 5 for review this week. They are awesome … oh, you want more details?

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The Kinvaras are highly regarded lightweight 4mm drop shoes, which are very popular because they are both light and well cushioned. The fit on the first few models seemed to fit most runners – but then the Kinvara 4 came along and there were many complaints about the toe-box. Even my pair – which lasted over 1300 miles – shows considerable wear at both ends of the toe-box.

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The Kinvara 5 addresses that and pretty much any other complaint. In fact, the entire toe box has been reshaped (if you can see it in the picture above. The rear ankle padding has had the contour removed without reducing the cushion, the overall feel is more cushioned, they are still incredibly light, and extremely well fitting and comfortable. I’ve only done two runs so far … but these are definitely some of the most comfortable shoes I have ever worn – and it is like meeting up with an old friend who looks even better with age.

2. Polar Loop

Yesterday I (finally) got the Polar Loop after a whole series of mix-ups and miscommunications that has had the heart-rate monitor part sitting on my counter for three months! Anyway, I got it all set up and configured, I took it on my run with me. My first thought?

Having to permanently cut a wrist strap was really stressful – especially since my first cut went through one of the pin-channels. Fortunately I intentionally under-cut the first time just to be sure. I ended cutting more this morning and now the fit is perfect … for me.

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Quick thoughts:
– Love the wireless sync to the phone
– Not a huge fan of the display – it is useless in sunlight as the LEDs wash out and the time-out is rather fast for activating and then shading … not an ‘on the go’ solution
– The iOS app and PC software is solid, but doesn’t match up with Garmin app Lisa uses for the VivoFit and the site I use for the FR-15
– Also love the easy charge-sync cable
– Not a fan of the ‘cut-to-fit’ thing – if I did it for Lisa, no one else in the house could wear it. Since it fits me it would fit Chris and could be cut for Lisa, but would be too small for Danny.

So … my overall impression is solid but given the choice I would buy the Garmin VivoFit again for fitness tracking. However, I have not tried the heart-rate monitor integration. So that will be an interesting test.

3. The Importance of Taking Care of Yourself

One thing I always talk about is safety – and that includes hydration and fueling. Being caught unready to handle a situation due to too much exercise and too little food and water is very dangerous.

Over at Runblogger, Pete linked to a post from his coach about the time that he fainted in what was really a totally avoidable situation. But the way he describes it is something that we should all reflect on:

1. No matter the run, immediate re-fueling and re-hydration is essential. This was already a rule, but I ignored it on the day.
2. Pre-run nutrition needs to be better. If you’re going to run 19 miles in a day, you can’t go into the afternoon run with a calorie deficit.
3. Don’t be so stubborn. Real life does impact running, and sometimes you need to slow down and realize that being tired has an impact on your body.

4. Anniversaries of Historical Importance

This week marked the 70th anniversary of D-Day and the 25th anniversary of the Tian’anmen Square standoff. I loved the takes on both of these important milestone’s at Carina’s blog – and really, you should check out each of those links. I wasn’t around for D-Day (my parents were only 2 and 4 years old), but I remember Tian’anmen Square well.

5. Is Being ‘Fat’ Not So Bad After All?

Admittedly I am not a huge fan of this article in general, because it basically comes down to mostly being yet another ‘my BMI says I am overweight, but I am very healthy, so everything you’ve read is wrong’ story. But along the way he highlights (through links) some important things – mostly that BMI is largely useless as a metric as it only alters the weight equation by adding height without taking body type into account.

A few things of note:
– Most of his points relate to being ‘overweight’ – obesity remains incredibly bad for you.
– Being overweight is MUCH better health-wise than being underweight.
– For someone who is overweight, social stigma and shaming and discrimination are the biggest problems.
– Perfect health is a complete myth.

Again, I have a load of mixed feelings, but definitely have seem many people online who are underweight and have dealt with injuries and other chronic health issues as a result. This week Amy posted a great article about when she realized she was too skinny, and includes before and after pictures … it is an amazing post with some great comments.

6. Running Around the World

This isn’t new, but I never noted it, and still makes me smile. Astronaut Mike Hopkins tweeted the following back in March:

Ran for ~1 orbit today. 12 miles on the treadmill while the station travelled more than 25,000 miles. I’ve now run around the world.

Yeah, so there is THAT … which is pretty awesome.

10 Day You Challenge

I have to confess that I am loving this series, as it makes me reflect on myself and my life. I wouldn’t really think I would be learning about myself – but I am. And today I learn something again, as I list out my ‘five foods’.

Day Six: Five Foods

1. Ice Cream – No matter what, I will always love ice cream. It is one thing I will always allow myself – and I have stopped going ‘light’ or whatever. I get what I want. One of the first things I did with my Nutribullet was to figure out how to make desserts – and I make a wonderful banana-based ‘soft serve’ that can be chocolate, fruity, peanut butter or whatever … and it is awesome.

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2. Steak – steak has always been my favorite meat, but not something I get very often. I will have it for my birthday (and did), and also on rare occasions. I will have it for Father’s Day next weekend as well. I tend to eat a diet of mostly fruits and veggies and some lean meats … but I just love a nice juicy steak. Preferably with a nice glass of red wine.

3. Sweet Potato – I have mentioned it before, but growing up sweet potatoes were only at Thanksgiving. Then as a young adult I would have them at restaurants on occasion. Now? Whenever I can. Whole, mashed, cut up as oven-fries, grilled, roasted, whatever.

4. ALL the fruit – I always have fruit with breakfast and lunch, and would say that the vast majority of what hits the Nutribullet is fruit-based. To make this choice even easier, from Mayo Clinic:

The following are technically fruits: avocado, beans, peapods, corn kernels, cucumbers, grains, nuts, olives peppers, pumpkin, squash, sunflower seeds and tomatoes.

So yeah … it is ALL about the fruits for me! Sure I love my veggies … but fruit rules my world!

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5. Smoothies – I enlisted Lisa’s help for this on … I have now had my Nutribullet for two months – and I use it every day, some days twice, and occasionally even three times. I have found some great go-to recipes for thin, thick and spoonable smoothies that are sweet or savory, and really … I am thinking of what I will have for a post-run smoothie even as I type this!

What is your favorite running shoe and/or gadget, and how about your favorite foods?

Take Care Tuesday – The Other Side of the Finish Line, My ‘9 Loves’

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Last week I posted about non-running members, and while the comments here were all very positive … that is because we are all runners. It is the very nature of our somewhat insular community that we would share some common thoughts – and this would naturally include running, healthy pursuits and more. However, ourside of the blog … I got feedback. Feedback from a variety of sources, that was uniform – and uniformly different from the comments.

Feedback is good – it is a reminder that our perspective is incomplete. Running is inherently a personal endeavour, a selfish solo sport. That doesn’t make us selfish for running, because the health benefits make us better in so many ways – it just means that like pretty much any exercise, the focus is on us. Which means we aren’t necessarily objective about the greater impact of our activities – and so we need to listen when we are told “you have no idea what it is like to be waiting on the other side of the finish line.”

So let’s take a look at some other thoughts:

Thoughts from the Other Side of the Barrier

1. It is NEVER ‘Just a Run’ – sure you can get hurt stepping into the shower, but running presents unique challenges. All this winter I ran in some incredibly dangerous conditions – sub-zero temperatures with strong winds, days school was cancelled, unplowed roads and so on. In summer, there is heat exhaustion and dehydration to content with as well! Sometimes we say we’re going for 5-6 miles and end up doing 9-10 (that isn’t just me, right?) and our family wonders where we are. Things a runner might call ‘a challenge’, their supporters think of as ‘scary’ or ‘stupid’.

The longer the distance, the greater the chance of things happening, the greater the worry.

2. The Fear of the Medical Tent – this past year at the Wineglass Marathon was brutal. Not only were the temperatures over 80F and humid, it had already cooled down in our area so no one was ready for it! As a result I passed two people loading into ambulances, had a police officer ask about another collapsed runner, saw more people vomiting than usual, people really hating it, and so on.

But while I saw that from the road, all my wife and kids saw was the people in awful shape finishing before me, including one who collapsed and had to be carried off less than 100 yards before the finish – and an overflowing medical tent. The uncertainty is incredibly hard for those waiting for loved ones.

3. By The Side of the Road, Somewhere – pretty much every week this year there has been something on Facebook about a runner or biker who was hit or side-swiped or otherwise run off the road. And despite having ‘Find my phone’ and so on, it can be nerve-wracking when our loved ones head out the door, and don’t really know exactly when they’ll be home, and so on.

4. Running a Marathon? 3-4 Hours Means 2 – 3 Days! – last summer when I did the PA Grand Canyon, getting the packet was the day before, and the hours were about noon to 6, meaning that with the 1+ hour drive it ripped apart THAT day, then the race day is pretty much entirely consumed. And if you are traveling further then you might end up with two nights in a hotel.

And suddenly we see how a nice little morning run and cheap shoes twice a year can transform into something that takes up entire weekends and costs thousands of dollars per year between race fees, lodging, transportation, supplies, equipment and so on.

5. Fear of Injury – runners worry about injuries, but so do their loved ones for a few reasons: the obvious concern about any injury, knowing how much the inability to run will impact the person’s life, and the ‘stupid factor’.

There are some of my friends here who will laugh at that – but I can cite more than a couple of people who have ended up re-injured or hurt their recovery by being over-zealous, and at least one I am pretty sure did it but never fessed up.

6. More Than Just You – again, the risk you take, the chance of injury, and so on … they don’t happen in a vacuum. If you are hurt or hit by a car or suffer a heart attack, you are unable to be there for loved ones, your job, your kids, and so on. And while you can certainly get an injury doing anything, doing an endurance sport where you push your body like a marathon adds to the risk, and it is always worth considering the risk/reward in the context of all the others impacted by your life.

The bottom line? While running is a solo activity, it is very much a ‘team sport’. I am very lucky to have an amazing team to support me and call me out on all of the stupid crap I do … and I really try to listen to the feedback. As runners, that is what we need to do – be thankful for the love in our lives, appreciative of the support, and reflective of all the worry and concern these people have for us. And we should listen.

10 Day You Challenge

Day Two: Nine Loves

1. Lisa – I have been with Lisa for more years than I have been without her, and I cannot imagine a day where I am not connected to her. I get a little ‘eye-folly’ when everyone is a ‘soul mate’ … but all I know is I am very happy, have a great life, and feel incredibly fortunate.

2. Danny – Danny is a reflection of me in very many ways, but he also has elements of Lisa and is very much his own individual. I keep signing up for NaNoWriMo to write a novel, but the reality is Danny can jot off something for a creative writing assignment in 30 minutes that is better than anything I have ever written. He has great artistic vision, is funny and talented in many ways, and has a big heart. Oh, and I have to mention that in his room now he has CDs from both Miles Davis and Pat Metheny.

3. Chris – As Danny reflects me, so does Chris reflect Lisa. But he also brings in much of my musical passion and a sense of style and flair all his own. He is gifted musically and as a chef, but also in so many other ways. His photographic vision stuns me as someone who is a total hack, and his open heart and love for the downtrodden always inspire me.

4. Our pets – we have two dogs, two cats and two fish. We take in pets are parts of the family, not ‘things’ – they are our babies, and didn’t stop being so when we had kids. Our dogs are Norfolk Terriers, scrappy little beasts who are so full of joy; we have one cat who is 13 with cancer we got as a kitten, and who continues to terrorize the neighborhood … the other was dumped on us ‘to watch for a few weeks’ – three years ago. She was abused and neglected and is slowly adapting to love and togetherness.

5. Running – Yeah, no surprise here.

6. My job – I am very fortunate that I have had three really great jobs of the five (really four and one 3-month contract) I’ve had since starting my professional career. One got me started, the second allowed me to flourish, and at Corning I am growing and developing and experiencing the breadth of stuff the company does – and making a difference.

7. Music (making & listening) – I have a deep and intense of love of music. Listening to something I love has a profound impact … but nothing compares to the feeling of making my own music. For several years I have put my music on the back burner, noodling with guitar and keyboard – but this past month resurrecting my studio has been completely amazing. Listening to stuff I had been working on before energizes and transports me, and starting to do new stuff makes time evaporate!

8. Food – I might have a ‘complicated’ relationship with eating, but I love food. And really in the last year I cannot name any time I have had ‘food regrets’ like I have always had throughout my life. Yet I have baked cakes, eaten scones and gobs of ice cream, many glasses of wine and so on. I had called this approach ‘intentional eating’, and it has been the best thing I have ever done for my eating – I eat what I want and ‘own it’, but what I want is almost exclusively ‘good fuel’.

9. Technology – not just stuff like computer devices … just technology. Old telephones intrigued me as a kid, then programming, games, circuit boards, lasers, computer devices of all types. I used to joke that I interfaced better with machines than with people, not really true, but it was always a natural connection for me.

Bonus. My Blog Friends! – I am fortunate to have ‘internet friends’ I have known for almost 20 years now who I have never met in person but connect with at least annually. I also remain in occasional contact with a few folks from sites I’ve written for through the years, but mostly not.

Yet over the last few years things have changed: I have become genuine friends with the editors at Gear Diary – there is an annual ‘GearFest’ at one of the co-owner’s lake house which is a blast, and one of the editors and her wife were amazingly supportive taking me in and cooking me dinner one night while I was with my brother after his heart attack. Now I have made some excellent connections through blogging – people I consider genuine friends who I would love to actually meet someday, but regardless I am made better by knowing them. Thanks to all of you.

So what do YOU love?

Six Things Saturday – Running Reminders for Summer Weather

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Over the past couple of weeks I have run in weather that has ranged from 30F up to over 80F, from dry to very humid conditions, from sunny to cloudy to rainy, and I was reminded of the differences we need to make as the heat rolls in. Some folks in the southwest have been seeing temps in the 90s for a while, and as I was chatting with Laura about my guest post she noted that her weather (North Dakota) had jumped from ‘arctic tundra’ to ‘tropical’.

I was planning one of these ‘adjusting to summer running’ posts, but this past week two other posts specifically inspired me – Brianna from IRunHeTris guest posting on ‘beating the heat’ at Southern Running, and one on chafing from RunBlogger. Check those posts out, and let’s get to the summer tips!

1. Hydration

OK, so everyone knows that you need to hydrate properly all year long, yeah yeah yeah. But for me where it really hits is the summer. My dehydration rate definitely accelerates as a function of temperature. So once it gets above 60F and I am running more than 10 miles, I absolutely need a nice big water bottle. I’m sure many of you are saying ‘wait, only THEN’. Yes, I know – but up to that point I find chugging plenty of water before and after works for me.

Bottom line – you never know what might happen when you are out there, so always do yourself a favor and carry water. When it is really hot, having a water bottle is a safety element just like carrying your phone.

Also – remember that it IS possible to over-do it with hydration (hyponatraemia), where your electrolyte balance gets messed up and you are essentially drowning your cells. That is where a sports drink can help.

2. Sunscreen, Sunglasses & Hats

Because skin cancer is SO not cool! 🙂

UV light is strongest during the summer months, and also between 10AM – 4PM … so if you need to go out running during those hours in particular, make sure to protect yourself.

Get yourself some ‘sport’ sunscreen (waterproof), a running hat (and yes, it DOES feel hot) and some UV filtering sunglasses to protect your eyes. It only takes a minutes to apply the sunscreen, and the benefits are really important in the long run.

3. Rules of the Road

This past weekend I saw a number of runners (8-10, which for my area is a ton) during my long airport loop run. Some of them were doing everything right, others were running on the wrong side of the road, or side by side and forcing cars to work around them, crossing dangerously with earphones on and more.

It all made me cringe.

Add to this the number of bikers, walkers, motorcycles, and more that start making appearance this time of year and being proactive about safety is even more important than ever.

So learn the rules of the road in your area, and practice active safety. Don’t assume that drivers will see you. Glare is always an issue, more people are on vacation, riding with friends, and other distractions during the summer. In our area in the last week we’ve had three accidents due to cars driving into oncoming traffic, which is a reminder of the crazy dangerous things that can happen.

There is no ‘100% safe’, but we can all work to make things as safe as possible while we are on our runs.

4. Sweat = Good

Here’s the thing, sweating is your body’s way of temperature regulation – and if your body loses control of THAT, all sorts of funky things happen, none of which are good.

The recommendation is that if the temperature is above 98.6 with humidity above 80% … do NOT run outside. Because at that point your body is no longer able to efficiently deal with the heat, so adding exercise to the equation gets dangerous.

But aside from pure temperature considerations, if it is warm you should be sweating all the time. If you are no longer sweating, or getting chills, feeling light-headed, or otherwise ‘not right’ – there is a good chance you are over-heating and dehydrated (or perhaps even over-hydrated). Get out of the sun, stop moving, call someone if you can (better to be embarrassed than in serious physical distress) and drink if you need it.

5. Ease Up on the Pace

Michele wrote about ‘slow as a feeling’ last week, and guess what? When it gets hot you SHOULD slow down. Evidently the effort required to sustain the same pace goes up non-linearly at higher temperatures and humidity.

My approach? Switch my Garmin to display just the time of day or heart rate, so I am tracking but not pushing to maintain pace. This is a definite place where ‘effort based running’ is advantageous. Naturally if you are training for a race you know will be really hot then some of your runs should push the pace in the heat – but in general, don’t feel bad easing up on the pace when it is 90 degrees outside!

6. Chafing

Here is the reality: the worst ‘running injury’ I have sustained is bleeding nipples from chafing. TMI? Sorry, not sorry – this IS a running-related blog after all! I’ll spare you the bloody shirt pictures, but trust me that it is no fun.

Well, actually it is discovering just how badly chafed up you are as you hop into the showed that is that great moment of searing pain!

Last fall I discovered that the new band of band-aid (the real rather than generic) I was using lacked the proper adhesive to hold up to the heat and humidity of the Wineglass Marathon, and had to stop for more at an aid station! Crisis averted!

I am lucky to not have severe chafing otherwise, but trust me – Body Glide is your friend for a marathon. #mamaSalt gave a shout-out to Suz for advising her to use it for her first marathon.

Let’s put it this way – unless you are allergic, over-preparing for chafing won’t hurt.

Bonus: Check out this cool Nike running video from 1982!

This is a link from RunBlogger from months ago that has been sitting in one of my drafts. I always find it fun looking back at old commercials I grew up with, and while I wasn’t into running back then so this doesn’t register, it has that great ‘classic era’ feel:

What Summer Running Tips Do YOU Have? Weekend Plans?

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

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

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

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

Thinking-Out-Loud

Running (and Biking) for Dummies

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

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

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

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

Screens Before Bed are Ruining Your Sleep

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

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

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

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

Runners and Perspective

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

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

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

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

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

I am wondering … WHY are you here

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

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

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

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

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

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

How Much Time Do You REALLY Have?

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Vocabulary of Runners

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

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

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

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

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

I AM Enough

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

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

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

So what are YOUR weekend plans?

Anatomy of an ‘Extreme Sub-Zero’ Runner – The $750 of Gear That Keeps Me Safe and ‘Warm’

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As I mentioned on Saturday, I loved Amanda’s post at Miss Zippy about how to make running more affordable. After reading it I was thinking through just how expensive all of my gear is … and then Laura posted about not being able to afford being an Ultramarathoner at And This Is Thirty.

I recounted my cost estimate of what I wore out to run in -15F weather – putting the cost at an estimated ~$750 … not including my iPhone. I thought … that is worth breaking down for a post! Follow along through my breakdown or head straight to the botton to see the actual total!So here goes.

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1. Headlamp – $30 – I have a great multi-beam P-Tec lamp very similar to this one at Amazon

2. EMS Thermal Hat – $25 – OK, my great blue EMS hat is now old enough that I can’t find anything similar, but the closest I could get was this one.

3. Brooks Balaclava $25 – I got this for Christmas 2012, and it is the same one found at Roadrunner Sports.

4. Nike Livestrong ‘Pro Combat’ hoodie – $80 – The LiveStrong brand is pretty much dead thanks to the fall of Lance Armstrong, but this hoodie is just amazingly light and wind/weather resistant. Based on what I know it once cost it is most comparable to this one at East Bay

5. Nike ‘Pro Combat’ Hyperwarm heavy base layer – $50 – Another one from Christmas 2012, pretty much the same as this one at Dick’s Sporting Goods.

6. Nike ‘Pro Combat’ fitted base layer – $50 – Got this from my brother for Christmas 2013, most similar thing I can find is this one at Amazon.

Outer Gear_1

7. Reflective vest – $20 – not exactly the same thing, but fairly similar to this Nathan vest at Amazon

8. Under Armour Extreme Coldgear Infrared Gloves = $40 – I have gone on and on about these things (currently sold out at Under Armour and elsewhere), but the reason is that my hands are my ‘#1 cold point’, so how well these work for me is just … incedible.

9. Under Armour Compression shorts – $45 – The ones I wear are apparrently not specifically for running, but are similar to these ones at Dick’s Sporting Goods, and are a great set of shorts – I ran the PA Grand Canyon Marathon in them.

10. Under Armour Extreme Coldgear Infrared Fitted Running Tights – $70 – These tights are incredible … on sale at Under Armour now, they are the only outer layer I have worn in the very coldest weather. And never gotten cold.

11. 2XU Compression Socks – $45 – I started hearing about the benefits of compression in 2012, and after talking to my doctor last year she suggested trying compression socks to maintain blood flow in my legs. These are similar to the onesfrom Amazon, and I have not run without them since Christmas.

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12. New Balance Minimus MR10 shoes – $100 – Some would debate the wisdom of shoes that allow so much slushy water into them, but I am loving how quickly the water also gets OUT of them. Shoe prices are variable, but MSRP remains at $100 at Running Warehouse and Joe’s New Balance Outlet, where they sell for $70 on sale.

13. Lock Laces – $7 – After getting these for Christmas I have now decided they are absolutely essential. Why? Once you have your laces untie in the middle of a sub-zero run and you are actually contemplating how bad it would be to NOT re-tie them … you will understand!

14. SpiBeltRunning belt – $20 – the one I have is not exactly the same as this one from Amazon, but having a belt to carry my phone and maybe a couple of GU packs is essential.

15. Magellan Echo GPS – Yes, this isn’t exactly ‘required’, but I have found tracking and accountability to be critically important, and my favorite setup right now is Magellan Echo just like this one at Amazon.

MY TOTAL? – $807. Of course, I could cut that by $100 or so based on buying stuff on sale and using coupons and so on … but it puts in perspective just how much it can cost to keep safe and protected during winter runs.

One thing missing – YakTrax, selling at Amazon for ~$25. For snow/ice running they are definitely worth checking into!

Comparison to ‘Summer Gear’
Of course, if I go back to last July, my cost would plummet – $25 shirt, $35 shorts, $10 socks, $100 shoes, and $130 watch – to $300. OK, so maybe ‘plummet’ isn’t the right word!

So what do YOU wear as essential gear for YOUR runs?