Today's thoughts

Category: RUNNING STREAK (Page 1 of 18)

The trials and tribulations of running every single day

Retirement is not without Hassles: Average #1521

I tried to run faster this morning, but it was to no avail. With stiff joints and poor balance, I seem to have only one speed – slow. I do get the job done but it’s never pretty. There was something about the word “average” when it came to my running pace that struck a chord. It’s always been difficult for me to digest. I want to look younger and perform better than just average. I was always a “B” student and on the “B” team, so I’ve never been considered exceptional. There have been some “A” moments in life and rarely a “C,” so my achievement expectations continue  in my race towards seventy. 

The average life span of a white male in 75.3 years, so I certainly hope to be above average in this category.  This means I have at least five good years left or or 1,825 running days. This would put me over 6,000 consecutive days. There was also a point where I was 6 feet tall, but I am quickly shrinking to average height. My weight is slightly over average but that’s not necessarily a good thing. I often wonder how my spindly legs have held up all these years when most of my bulk is in my torso. Yesterday’s Thanksgiving meal certainly didn’t help.

Today, college basketball and football will keep me busy. We’re up to date on Yellowstone with Season 4 not expected until mid-2021. Shameless has a final season airing in a few weeks, so the Suits series is now our primary evening entertainment. There’s also one last episode of Fargo to watch. Only 8 days until we land in Kauai, if all goes well next week with Covid testing. At one point, this Hawaii trip was planned with intentions of following Indiana basketball in the Maui Classic. That event was of course delayed a week to start on Monday and moved to Asheville, North Carolina. I.U. football meets Maryland tomorrow, as the Hoosiers try to hold on to their #12 ranking. They fell short in their comeback effort against #3 Ohio State last weekend. I’m glad to see that I.U. football is no longer considered average. 

Retirement is not without Hassles: Turkey Trot #1520

Thanksgiving morning was once a time for recreational runs, but these races are all virtual this year. I’ve run Turkey Trots in Decatur, Austin, and Portland, and my own 5k version on every Thanksgiving Day for the last 12 years. This morning was no exception, even though it was undoubtedly one of the slowest I’ve ever run. It was consecutive day #4,351, carrying a couple extra pumpkin bars around my waistline. The weather was in the mid-40s and there was no precipitation. It’s always good to burn off a few calories before the traditional feast of turkey with green beans au gratin. There will be no family gathering today, as advised by the CDC

Nine days and counting until we’re on a Kauai beach, enjoying that family time we’ll miss today. With next year’s move to Florida, we’ll spend future Thanksgivings with my grandkids by the pool. 2021 will be the beginning of a new tradition. Hopefully by then, there will be a vaccine and life will return to somewhat normal. I’m just thankful today that my family has stayed healthy throughout a difficult 2020. I can still run everyday, continue to stay in touch with friends, and dream of a sunny future. We haven’t gotten to travel as much as we would have liked, but have still ventured to Florida twice, Phoenix, Austin, made a 3,000-mile cross-country drive, visited Glacier National Park, and visited out-of-town family and friends. Hawaii should soon add the crown jewel to our 2020 adventures.

I am discouraged with my running, considering the glacial-like pace, but I’m fortunate to still be able to do it. On the USRSA list of nearly 2,500 active streak runners, I haven’t been able to move-up from position #228. This puts me in the top 10%, with forty-five runners older than my age of 69. It’s encouraging to see these veteran runners continue to maintain their daily streaks. I hope that I can keep going into my 80s, but I can’t imagine how slow my feet will move at that stage of life. It could take all day to run the minimum mile. According to Healthline, the average pace for men my age (65-99) is 13:52 per mile. It’s about the same speed as this Turkey Trotted this morning!


Retirement is not without Hassles: Tip-Off Time #1517

Another day of rain here in Portland, with expectations of a few more days. This is typical at this time of year, but much preferable to the snow my friends in Indiana are beginning to experience. In a few short weeks, I hope to feel the warmth of Kauai and in a few months a steady diet of Florida sunshine. We’ll be stuck in front of the T.V. today with mindless episodes of Yellowstone, Big Sky, Fargo, Amazing Race, Shameless, and Gold Rush

It’s “Leaf Pick-Up” Monday, with on-street parking prohibited. I won’t have to worry about slipping on all those wet leaves tomorrow. I was rewarded with finding a dime before it was swept away. With gloves on, I had trouble picking it up, reminiscent of commercials for Playtex Gloves – “so flexible you can pick up a dime.” There was also a lot of interference from pedestrians, traffic, and street cars as I carefully tip-toed through the streets. I also had to avoid a homeless man with his pants down around his ankles, and piles of trash on the sidewalks. As is often the case, my morning runs aren’t very glamorous. 

I’m collecting documents to file with Social Security as they’ve once again raised my monthly Medicare Part B premiums based on past income tax statements. With both my wife and I retired now, my payments should be much lower. However, I have to go through the hassle of submitting all the appropriate forms and supporting paperwork to prove my case. With the local office closed due to Covid, I also have to submit everything on line with little control on when they’ll get through the backlog this time of year. As a result, I’ll probably be paying more the first few months of the year until they finally get to my appeal. On a positive note, it’s at least something to do on a rainy day.

College basketball starts this week, providing a fresh source of live entertainment. I’ll look forward to seeing how the season unfolds with my favorite sport. It’s been eight months since the last game I watched on T.V. and ten months since attending. Most likely, I won’t be allowed to see a game in person this season. However, we’ve come a long way since the BIG tournament was disrupted last March and the NCAA Tournament cancelled. It’s Tip-off Time!


Retirement is not without Hassles: Paranoia #1516

I woke up this morning with all the classic signs of Covid 19: chills, headache, fever, scratchy throat, and congestion. This has happened at least once a week since March when the possibility of catching it was initially discovered. One of the by-products of being a pessimist is also being a hypochondriac – if it’s out there, I’m certainly going to get it! The first thing that comes to mind is that I’m going to end up in the hospital and my 4,347 day running streak will come to an abrupt end. On the other extreme, I’m thinking that I won’t be able to pass the Covid test to get to Hawaii with my family in a couple of weeks.

Nonetheless, I got out of bed and made the 3.1 mile run, at first thinking I would just do the minimum mile in my frail state of health. As I got going, all the symptoms seemed to disappear, as often is the case when I’m either not feeling well or hung over. It would have been easy to get up this morning if I.U. would have pulled off the upset yesterday against Ohio State. All that adrenaline would have still been flowing through my veins. Instead, I was a bit depressed when the Hoosiers fell short. Of course, no true pessimist would have expected them to win anyway, so I got what I imagined! It looks like the loss has literally made me sick, or at least pretend sick.

I hope we can get to the island in early December. The boredom of sitting in an apartment all day is getting to me. I don’t have the yard chores or outdoor home projects that keep my friends busy. All I have is my running, writing, dog outings, and T.V. watching. The snacks in between are also a problem, like the chocolate chip cookies my wife baked for me yesterday. Live sports at least adds some excitement to the day, even if its not always the desired outcome. My half-sister sent me photos of her at the Alabama vs. Kentucky game yesterday to rub it in. I haven’t been to a game of any game since January, as is the case with most of American fans.

Yes, I’m paranoid that something will prevent us from traveling to Hawaii, as has been the case with Bali and Egypt this year. Retirement is supposed to be all about exploring the world, but just not going to work is certainly adequate reward, just as long as we stay healthy. Unfortunately, I can’t keep my mind from dwelling on the things that could go wrong. It’s a defense mechanism that I adopted early in life and protects me from disappointment. I believe that if you think of all the things that could possibly go wrong, it rarely does. However, paranoia like this  does have it’s price! 

Retirement is not without Hassles: Fifty Cent #1512

I play a lot of silly mental games while I’m running, trying to keep my mind off the task at hand. Sometimes, I count steps or blocks and on other occasions listen to the lyrics of a song on the radio. I write poems in my head and gather ideas for this blog. Some of my thinking is constructive, but mostly it’s just nonsense. I switch from street to sidewalk to avoid monotony and try not to step on cracks. Since I run by a number of parked cars, lately I’ve been counting the number of flashing security lights on the dashboards of these vehicles. This morning I only found 8 but yesterday was a record 18.

On this morning’s run number 4,342, I found two quarters. The first was one that I had previously picked up more than a week ago, but had somehow  missed getting it in my pocket. I found it again this morning hidden in the leaves and then picked-up a surprise second. Fifty Cents is a big find any morning, having long abandoned collecting all change but silver. Pennies were once my main quest, winks from angels, but they’re no longer worth the risk of viral contamination – a silly distinction, I know, but so are the mind games I play every morning. Of course, I disinfect these stray coins once I get home along with my hands. 

Fifty Cent of course made me think of Curtis James Jackson III, the American rapper, songwriter, television producer, actor, and entrepreneur known for his impact in the hip hop industry. Since I was in a silly mood, it was worth looking him up on Wikipedia:

“Born in the South Jamaica neighborhood of Queens, Jackson began selling drugs at age 12 during the 1980s crack epidemic. He later began pursuing a musical career and in 2000 he produced Power of the Dollar for Columbia Records, but days before the planned release he was shot and the album was never released. In 2002, after Jackson released the compilation album Guess Who’s Back?, he was discovered by Eminem and signed to Shady Records, under the aegis of Dr. Dre’s Aftermath Entertainment and Interscope Records.”

With the aid of Eminem and Dr. Dre (who produced his first major-label album Get Rich or Die Tryin’), Jackson became one of the world’s best selling rappers and rose to prominence with East Coast hip hop group G-Unit (which he leads de facto). In 2003, he founded G-Unit Records, signing his G-Unit associates Young Buck, Lloyd Banks and Tony Yayo. Jackson had similar commercial and critical success with his second album, The Massacre, which was released in 2005. He released his fifth studio album, Animal Ambition, in 2014 and as of 2019 is working on his sixth studio album, Street King Immortal. He executive-produces and stars in the show Power, which airs on Starz.”

I’m fifty cents richer this morning and more knowledgeable about Fifty Cent. It’s a silly combination, created along my standard 3.1 mile route. Speaking of silly, the final mile has been designated the trail of B’s, starting with the defunct restaurant Byways and ending with Bentley Bagels. Butch has recently gone out of business between the Bradshaw Building and the wall of Bricks. Once again, it’s a mind game to get me through that last mile every morning, while I’m counting Blinkers. 

Retirement is not without Hassles: 100 Years #1510

As I was completing consecutive run number 4,340 this morning, the song 100 Years by Five for Fighting came on the radio and made me reflect a bit on life with a lesson of living in the moment.

100 Years

I’m fifteen for a moment
Caught in between ten and twenty
And I’m just dreaming
Counting the ways to where you are

I’m twenty two for a moment
She feels better than ever
And we’re on fire
Making our way back from Mars

Fifteen, there’s still time for you
Time to buy and time to lose
Fifteen, there’s never a wish better than this
When you only got hundred years to live

I’m thirty-three for a moment
I’m still the man, but you see I’m of age
A kid on the way, babe
A family on my mind

I’m forty-five for a moment
The sea is high
And I’m headin’ into a crisis
Chasing the years of my life

Fifteen, there’s still time for you
Time to buy and time to lose yourself
Within a morning star
Fifteen, I’m alright with you

Fifteen, there’s never a wish better than this
When you only got hundred years to live
Half time goes by
Suddenly you’re wise

Another blink of an eye
Sixty-seven is gone
The sun is gettin’ high
We’re movin’ on   (I AM HERE)

I’m ninety nine for a moment
And dyin’ for just another moment
And I’m just dreaming
Counting the ways to where you are

Fifteen, there’s still time for you
Twenty-two, I feel her too
Thirty-three, you’re on your way
Every day’s a new day

Ooh, ooh
Ooh, ooh
Ooh, ooh, ooh-ooh-ooh

Fifteen, there’s still time for you
Time to buy and time to choose

Hey fifteen, there’s never a wish better than this
When you only got hundred years to live

Source: LyricFind
Songwriters: John Ondrasik
100 Years lyrics © Kobalt Music Publishing Ltd.

Old Sport Shorts: 0 for East Lansing #1509

I made it through Friday the 13th and running day number 1339, as I settle in front of the T.V. for The Masters and college football. The 10th ranked Indiana Hoosiers face another BIG nemesis, as they travel to East Lansing. I coined the phrase “0 for East Lansing” after many years of zero success in both football and basketball. Every time we visited it was a fruitless experience, never returning with the Brass Spittoon. The Spartans lead the football series 48-16-2, without a loss there since 2001, a game I must have missed. 1986 was a rare year of success for I.U., but then you have to go back to 1967-69 for victories, a few years before I was a student in Bloomington. 

To win in East Lansing would be another season jewel and a chance to go head-to-head with the Buckeyes for all the BIG marbles next Saturday.  I’m of course concerned about a let-down, after knocking-off both Penn State and Michigan. I could never be optimistic about I.U. football after so many years of disappointment. Purdue is also undefeated against Northwestern today, and Oregon meets Washington State later this afternoon. Between games, I’m taking a drive to McMinnville for lunch with the boys at Two Dogs. It’s the mid-point for our “Leadership” group whose regular meetings have been disrupted by the Coronavirus. It will be good to get together, eat a cheeseburger, and watch The Masters

My extended weekend of football started on a good note when the Colts beat the Titans on Thursday night, but soured when my high school team lost their Regional match-up last night. It was their first year of being Lions, abandoning the Blazer name in a merger with the Chargers. “Once a Blazer, always a Blazer” is our class motto, but Elkhart’s return to a one-high-school town, as it was when I attended, brought new strength to a steadily declining athletics program. It was enough for an undefeated season and Sectional Championship in the inaugural year. A great hometown achievement!

On Monday Night Football, the Chicago Bears get another chance for victory under the leadership of a new offensive coordinator, as the 5-day sports weekend  continues. Hopefully, Da’ Bears can end a bad stretch of losses after a strong start. In addition, the Portland Timbers also match-up against Dallas in the first-round of the MLS playoffs next Sunday, a week after final round coverage of The Masters comes to a close. However, the key to a successful weekend is to end my “0 for East Lansing” curse. 

P.S. Final Score: I.U 24 Michigan State 0




Retirement is not without Hassles: The List #1500

In preparation for retirement, I made a list of things to do to keep me busy. (See Post #1) At the top of the list was this daily blog, with a pledge to write an article a day. This has been a challenge, especially in these pandemic times when there’s been little to express. Few get togethers with friends, no games to attend, very little travel, and lots of time alone. It’s become a therapeutic diary, and along with running keeps me sane. Today marks the 1500th entry, so you would think I’d have something special planned. Maybe a poem or something important to say? I guess I’m just stunned by how everything has come to a standstill. People are restless, the economy is struggling, and health issues abound. We can’t even finalize an election.

The Presidential race is now in the hands of the Las Vegas showmen, who are obviously stalling for the last say. They want to be the state that decides it all, with only 75% of their votes counted. In Nevada of all places, they should be adept at counting. There’s also been little change in the vote tallies for Georgia, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, or Arizona. Who will make the first move, so we can eventually get into the recount process? No one is showing their cards! Politics is a nasty business. Election Day has become several days and could be weeks. It’s very frustrating!

My excitement for the day is an eye doctor appointment. The rain will deter any lengthy dog outings, so I will soon be once again in front of the television screen. I prepared my weekly meal last evening by roasting a chicken. This kitchen duty commitment was also on my initial retirement list and still remains the most stressful part of my week. Beef is slowly being eliminated from our daily diet in favor of poultry and vegetables. I’m still a little on the heavy side after gorging myself the last few weeks with steak, ribs, and burgers in anticipation of this change. It also could have been the pumpkin bars and cookies. The daily run is not burning enough calories.  Things have to change!

When I’m on the last leg of my morning run, I feel like an exhausted marathoner who somehow makes their way to the finish line with unsteady, wobbly legs. It’s only 3.1 miles but might as well be 26.2. I need to get in the weight room again to improve strength and balance. I will have free access to a gym in our new Florida neighborhood. However, I haven’t made any recent efforts to make my way to nearby fitness clubs. In fact, I haven’t been to a gym in years, relying solely on running to keep in shape. With all the sitting around, I now feel sluggish, while muscle is turning to fat. Other than walking the dog, I rarely venture outside after my morning jog. The initial retirement list also included dog walking and running every day, so I’m at least staying true to my plan but need to make some adjustments.

Retirement is not without Hassles: End of 2020 #1496

I run the distance equivalent of a marathon every nine days – 3 per month – 40 a year. I know from experience, that it’s certainly not the endurance challenge of completing a 26.2 mile race, but at my age I don’t think my body could handle it any more. It also might cause an injury that would jeopardize my 4,126 day streak. I certainly think about it frequently, but at my current pace it would take over six hours – twice the time it took to run my first one 41 years ago.  I always wanted to run the Boston and New York City Marathons but never got the chance. Now, you can run them virtually – even earn a medal from Paris. Unfortunately, with social distancing restrictions, it’s the only option for today’s competitors.

The intersection by our house is now a pumpkin graveyard with dozens of smashed remnants littering the street. It’s the only evidence that I saw of last night’s Halloween riots, inspired by a full moon. Violence rarely extends to our near- downtown neighborhood, but apparently no pumpkin was safe last night. It made me think of the alternative rock band, The Smashing Pumpkins and their hit song Tonight, Tonight. Yesterday, I did cut a pumpkin in half so my wife could make soup and dessert bars – two of my seasonal favorites.  The huge carving knife I used put me in the Halloween spirit, with thoughts of Freddy Krueger!

Sports were once again the highlight of my day, as I.U. and Purdue football moved to an unprecedented 2-0 BIG 10 starts. After last week’s controversial win over Penn State and unfamiliar #17 national ranking, I was worried that I.U. would stumble against Rutgers. The Hoosiers got off to a slow start but soon had the game in hand until a crazy 8-lateral TD gave the Scarlet Knights the faint hopes of coming back. It was typical I.U. football bad luck, but upon further review was reversed. Their next challenge is to put an end to the 24-game losing streak to Michigan. The Wolverines will certainly be on top of their game after being upset by rival Michigan State yesterday. It will be “Harbaugh Hell” in Ann Arbor this week, knowing that a loss to lowly I.U. could signal a coaching change. Purdue may not play in week 3 because of Wisconsin Covid issues. 

It will be an interesting week. This morning I felt out-of-sync with time change, but early morning light was welcome. November also arrived today with blue skies. Election Day will finally be here and the end of political commercials. I’m sure the outcome will be controversial, sparking more rioting and economic uncertainty. I only hope the stock market won’t overreact. I’ll spend today watching NFL football and admiring the beautiful fall colors outside my office window. Before we know it, Thanksgiving and Christmas will be here, along with the welcome end of a tough 2020. 


Retirement is not without Hassles: Shaken Not Stirred #1495

Old age is demoralizing. “Not for sissies,” as my mom used to quote Bette Davis. My hands shake badly, and with the added adrenaline of running, I have trouble typing every morning. Gravity is my worst enemy as extra weight settles into my waistline and jowls. Wrinkles and age spots pop-up everywhere and voices often sound like they’re whispering. My legs somehow managed to get me through run #4325, but it takes longer and longer to cover 3.1 miles every day. 

Losing your parents and friends is one thing, but when James Bond dies it really strikes a sour chord. He survived villains like La Chiffre, Mr. Big, Sir Hugo Drax, Jack Spang, Rosa Klebb, General Grubozaboyschikov, Dr. No, Goldfinger, Colonel Von Hammerstein, Hector Gonzales, Aristotle Krisatos, Milton Krest, Emilio Largo, and Scaramanga -to name a few – only to succumb to old age. He was only 90 – just 21 years older than me – Sir Sean Connery. He was also Indiana Jones’ dad, but hasn’t appeared in a film since 2003. I saw him once in the lobby of the Grosvenor House Hotel, his residence at the time, long before it became a Marriott property. I was the one wearing the tuxedo on this particular occasion, an awards presentation for my first wife. 

As far as I’m concerned, Sean Connery was the only one with a true license to kill, although the other talented actors that followed him were also entertaining. Daniel Craig stars in the upcoming Bond film, “No Time To Die,” that was originally slated to debut six months ago, but like everything else has been delayed by the Coronavirus outbreak. The delay has already cost MGM $30 to $50 million, as the movie business’ pending demise mirrors the film’s title. 2020 was also no time for the original Bond…James Bond….to sadly die. I’ll turn back the clocks in his honor tonight and have a vodka martini – shaken not stirred!


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