Today's thoughts

Category: Running Streak (page 1 of 13)

Retirement is not without Hassles: Heavy Breathing #1256

Too much wine, heavy meals, cold medicine, and a couple thousand more feet of elevation led to some heavy breathing this morning. It was day #4096 of my running streak that took place in the desert just outside of Tucson. I continue to battle chest congestion, but the warmer temperatures should have a healing effect. As I slogged along, I was easily passed by another runner, making me feel even more self-conscious of my slow pace. My feet felt like concrete and my breathing was labored. It was not an easy 5k, but I still managed to cross-it-off my list of things to do. 

I’m waiting for my turn in the bathroom at the home of our friends. Once everyone gets ready, we’re headed to either to the town of Tubac or Biosphere 2, both lengthy drives. I enjoy the scenic mountain views and ancient cacti that stretch for miles. We’ve stayed put the past couple of days, but their backyard affords plenty of sunshine. It felt so good to absorb the warmth on my face and appreciate the sun’s natural energy flowing through my veins. It’s just what I needed, an escape from our downtown Portland apartment where the sun rarely shines this time of year. In fact, it even snowed there the past few days. We’re in a much warmer place than home for the next 4 days!

We hope to have a home similar to this when we move to Florida next year. It’s set in a 55+ community with low upkeep and plenty of recreational opportunities. Unfortunately, because of the Coronavirus threat most of their facilities are temporarily shuttered, but we still got together with some of their neighbors last evening. One woman of my age was a very active runner of about 8 miles a day. She isn’t caught up in the “every-single-day” obsession like I am, but undoubtedly logs more miles at a faster pace each week than I do. I just keep plugging along – please excuse the heavy breathing!



Retirement is not without Hassles: Under Construction #1248

I survived another trip to the Social Security Administration offices this morning. I had expected to wait a long time, but surprisingly got in right away. Unfortunately, I got little resolved and had to fill out a form for review. As a result, the hassle still lies ahead, as I got stuck with a huge premium on my Medicare Part B insurance. I’m scheduled to now pay almost as much as a COBRA based on our income tax returns from two years ago. It was the peak of our income, before my wife’s retirement and included several performance bonuses. Our current income is less than half this amount, so hopefully I will be approved for an adjustment. Otherwise, it’s a big chunk added to our monthly budget and less to spend on travel. 

We saw the movie The Way Back yesterday, as part of our annual Regal movie pass. It’s the 14th show we’ve seen since mid-December when we bought the $560 package. In another 3 months we will have gotten our money’s worth, with six more months to go.  Also, with our apartment within walking distance of two theaters, we’ve also saved on parking and gas. It looks like it will be a great retirement investment even at one movie a week when you consider less than $5 a ticket. 

The daily routine is now temporarily under construction. Tomorrow, we’ll pack and get things set-up for the dog sitter, including clearing a parking space for her in the garage. We’ll move my car to my wife’s daughter’s house and take an Uber to the airport the next morning. Tomorrow night is another tourney-do-or-die IU basketball game, replacing “Date Night,” but I’ll watch this one from home. In two days, we’ll be in Phoenix, but many of our friends have decided against the trip. We’re there for three nights, including two Spring Training baseball games and a couple dinners. 

We’ll see an Arizona sunset from an old client’s Camelback mountain-top home. I got together with his wife while she was in Portland on business a few months ago, but it’s been at least 20 years since I’ve broken bread with him. On the phone, we joked about a chicken wing incident where another friend was piling his bones on top of mine. I used to go through mine a second time to get every remaining morsel of meat and was unaware that my pile had grown. I don’t do that anymore! Needless to say, he’s not preparing chicken wings as part of his appetizer menu. 

To further disrupt our normal boring routine, we’ll then head to Tucson for the last three days of this adventure. The home where we’re staying is familiar, and was an inspiration for our Florida building plans in a similar 55-plus community. Our overall Florida plan is still under construction and should come-together when we travel there in a few months. It should take about six-months building time, to be completed by the time our Portland apartment lease ends. In the meantime, there will be lots of packing, planning, and preparing as we construct our new life together and return to a final retirement routine. 



Retirement is not without Hassles: Patchwork #1246

When you navigate the sidewalks of downtown Portland and the surrounding neighborhoods as I do every morning, you have to keep your eyes focused on the uneven concrete. I’ve had an occasional stumble and certainly don’t want to break my mother’s back. (See Post #1159). It’s often boring to stare at the ground, but precaution is necessary, so mind games come into play. I see the sidewalk as a giant checkerboard or patchwork quilt, maybe hopscotch is in order. Each square of concrete has been poured separately to facilitate replacement if a root disrupts the originally level surface. As a result, the sections are different shades of gray. I like to hit all the newer, lighter squares as I run my course. It keeps me safe and entertained.

I just completed consecutive day #4088, despite some hip problems, a cough, and last night’s time change. Despite the hour difference, I tried to stay on the same schedule, but psychologically it affects my daily routine. It was still relatively dark when I woke up with the sunrise now at 7:30 a.m. and sunset at 7:08 p.m. It gives us an extra hour of evening light, but is also a big disruption in everyone’s internal time clock. Even Google seems to be struggling this morning, stuck in a useless loop. I’m all in favor of eliminating this biannual adjustment. It’s time for a change!

“Date Night” was last night this week, a Saturday for a change. Both of us are recovering from colds, so our ambition has suffered. We did go out to see Emma at the movie theater and the Frozen musical, but found little other motivation to go out in the rain. We also did some dog sitting but even their outside activity suffered because of rainy skies. It will be good to soon be sitting in the dry Arizona sunshine and watching baseball. I suffered a bad sports day yesterday watching both the men’s and women’s IU teams stumble badly. The men’s tourney hopes were dashed, as surprise BIG Champion Wisconsin once again spoiled our sacred Senior Day. I remain in a sour mood, as I think about how the Badger Cheeseheads have dominated the Hoosiers over their last 25 match-ups. It’s also shocking to note that IU finished 11th in what was once the Big Ten Conference. It’s more than a “rough patch” that can only be repaired by restoring our tarnished reputation.







Retirement is not without Hassles: Put On Ice #1243

I’ve moved to the cold seat, after sitting on the hot seat most of this past week. I thought the heat would loosen the tightness in my hip, but following yesterday’s morning run the pain was unbearable. Oddly, it did not bother me while actually running, but rather due to stiffness after I sat doing my writing on the heating pad. I reluctantly placed a call to the chiropractor and set-up an appointment. I also took a pain pill my wife had leftover from her recent foot injury. Yes, we’re quite the pair, suffering from the toils of growing old. At least, we can share our medication. She also shared her cold with me.

It was this stubborn cough and cold that ultimately led to my hip discomfort. I originally thought the related congestion had settled in this Butt area that had caused me problems before. The chiropractor indicated that perhaps the violent coughing had also partially caused a minor dislocation of my hip. He put it back in place and recommended ice treatments rather than heat. This makes me really feel old, when my injuries are no longer just sports-related. It’s sad that my aging body is becoming so frail that I can’t even fight a simple cold. It’s literally kicking my Butt! 

I did cut-back to just the minimum mile-run this morning to maintain “The Streak” at 4,085 consecutive days. I felt a little light-headed from the overnight medication, but it helped me get a better night’s sleep. The critical I.U. basketball win over Minnesota also made me rest easier. Getting out of bed numerous times during the night continues to be a stiff and sore process. It’s still considerably more painful to sit or lie down than to be up on my feet, but I wanted to reduce the impact on my hip joint by temporarily cutting back the mileage. As soon as I got back to the apartment from running, I immediately put myself back on ice. 

Retirement is not without Hassles: Bring On The Heat #1231

My lungs were on fire, as I struggled with this morning’s run through the streets of downtown Portland. As I try to write about the experience, my hands shake uncontrollably on the keyboard. It’s the dreaded combination of a bad cold and old age. I was glad to take a seat at the computer and let my blood pressure return to normal levels. My pace was much faster today despite not feeling much better. I’m down to the last of my cold medication so hopefully the coughing spells will soon come to an end and the congestion in my chest will loosen its merciless grip on my lungs. 

I don’t know if I’ll go back outside again today even though the forecast calls for more sunshine. Blankie continues to call. I’m now watching Safe on Netflix at the recommendation of a friend. It’s the second Harlan Coben novel made into a series. I also enjoyed The Stranger during this recent bout of sickness. It’s Netflix and Chills, as I shiver under the cover of my Cubs blanket. It has a big “W” on it for worthless, describing my lifeless condition these past few days. I missed a dentist appointment and two get-togethers with friends but at least kept my 4,073 daily running streak intact.  Missing a day would kill me, although I did have to cut back to the mileage minimum on the first day of this unforgiving crud.

I feel like I’m throwing away money by not using our Regal Unlimited passes these past two weeks. The first week we were in Las Vegas, while this week I haven’t been able to go fifteen minutes without coughing or sneezing. They tell you at the theater to turn-off your cell phone, but you can’t just shut off an annoying cough. If I was still working, I know that I probably wouldn’t have missed a day, selfishly spreading my germs throughout the office. It was apparently in my DNA, just like running, an unforgivable sin to miss even a single day. I blame it on the Perfect Attendance Award that I missed out on in kindergarten because my Mom made me stay home. Never again! At least with running I’m not putting others at risk. In retirement, I can stay in seclusion under the Cubs Blankie until I’m no longer contagious. 

It’s a Saturday, now lost in retirement. There’s no longer that anticipation of getting there every week since it’s just like every other day. In three more Saturdays we’ll be in Phoenix, soaking in some solar warmth. In eight, we’ll have been at Alcatraz, and eleven Saturdays from today we’ll be in Bali with the year nearly half over. By then, the Portland weather will be glorious and tempting us to stay. Florida is calling and it’s not just some telemarketer about extending my warranty or saving on credit card interest rates. We will make a life-changing decision mid-year on where we’ll build our “forever” home, and escape from the cold, damp winter temperatures that far too often leads to Blankie time. Bring on the Heat!

Retirement is not without Hassles: I Want My Blankie #1230

This morning’s effort to run was brutal, given all the chest congestion that had settled overnight. I’ve been on Alka-Seltzer cold medicine since yesterday’s shortened route following a sleepless night. I barely got in 5,000 steps for the day since most of it was spent on the couch underneath the warmth of my Cubs blanket, binge watching Narcos Mexico. At least, I did the full 3.1 miles today, although at a much slower pace and interrupted by a couple of coughing fits. I hope to stay on my feet most of the day and not have to cancel any appointments. All in all, I’m feeling better but nowhere near 100%. In fact, I’m struggling with what to even write about. 

I’m certainly not looking forward to visiting the Portland Social Security offices, but it should expedite the delivery of my Medicare Part B application. I’m worried about long lines and hours of waiting just to turn in a form that they should have received in the mail already. To add to the hassle, I also have to stop by my wife’s former employer for a signature. I’ll drive my car for the first time in a week and try to enjoy the rare blue skies and sunshine. I’d rather be going to a “Leadership Meeting” that used to be a Friday noon tradition. I had to skip a rare Thursday get-together because of this crippling cold. 

I’m getting reports from friends who are attending the first games of Spring Training in Florida and Arizona. I’ll be in Scottsdale myself in a couple of weeks to watch the White Sox and Cubs. It signals the end of winter, with warmer temperatures soon on the way. I’ve had it with foul weather, coughs, and colds. In the meantime, I only have my security “Blankie” to keep me warm and safe.

I was concerned on the drive into town, especially when I saw the “Congestion Ahead” signs.  I already had head and chest congestion as a result of the cold. The last thing I needed was more congestion! When I finally arrived at the Social Security offices, the screening procedures were worse than at the airport. I even had to take off my watch in addition to my belt. The clerks were all hidden behind security glass with a pass-through window. I had to question the necessity for all this precaution as I waited for my number to be called. There were different categories of numbers issued, depending on your reason to be there. Like the Bureau of Motor Vehicles, it seemed to move very inefficiently, and I was angry to even be there, considering they had misplaced my paperwork. For awhile, I wondered if the “R” category of numbers was the best choice? I was also worried about getting a parking ticket since it was taking so long. Finally, I was summoned to a window and surprised to find out that they could process it right there. I should have gone there in the first place rather than trusting the U.S.Mail to get my package to the right place. He entered me directly into the system and provided me with a Medicare Part B processing number to submit to a supplemental insurer. 

In the next 10 days, I should be good to go, so it wasn’t nearly the hassle or congestion that I anticipated. It was just like me to expect the worst and get all stressed out for nothing. I was actually back home within an hour-and-a-half, including a drive-thru stop at McDonald’s for a Diet Coke reward. However, the entire ordeal did take a lot out of me, so I’m glad to be back home writing again. Also, this nagging cough and the violent sneezes are exhausting. I obviously still don’t feel well and the Cubs blanket on the couch is once again calling me. “I Want My Blankie!”




Retirement is not without Hassles:” Rough Night #1229

A runny nose and constant sneezing were just the first step with this nasty cold. Last night, it evolved into an uncontrollable cough and fever that has me cancelling all outside activities today. I will miss lunch with my friends, but not making the trip to the dentist isn’t quite as disappointing. I got up at the usual time despite a sleep deprived night to let the dog out and do a shortened version of my daily run. I feel exhausted, having spent half the night on my office love seat so my hacking wouldn’t further disturb my wife. She’s getting over a similar bout with a nasty cold that has now become mine. However, I was not expecting the cough that may be the knock-out punch.

I ran the minimum mile-plus to maintain my consecutive daily running streak that has now reached 4,071. It will be enough stimulation to keep me from going back to bed for a few hours. I have a Social Security hassle to deal with, but that isn’t urgent. There’s some paperwork I have to get signed by my wife’s former employer to prove that I was covered by her insurance during the time period after I filed for Medicare. I already went through this once, but apparently the paperwork got lost in the mail. Yesterday, I called the Medicare hotline and was on hold for a half-hour before they informed me I needed to call Social Security for this Medicare Part B issue. That required another hour of patience. The forms they sent don’t even have a return address listed, to make matters even more complicated. They certainly don’t make it easy on us old farts!

I know this sounds silly but I may not have even had the energy to get out of bed this morning if the I.U. basketball hadn’t somehow pulled off a road victory last night. How can a grown man be so attached to a game played by college students? It shows that I’ve never really grown up, yet fully doesn’t explain why my mood often revolves around their success or failure. The much needed win made me smile when I had lost all hope a few days ago. For a few precious days, there will be no backwash on the coach and players, as it continues to be an inconsistent hot-and-cold season. After all these years, I can still feel my team’s embarrassments or accomplishments even though it makes no logical sense. 

On a more practical side, I’m waiting for my state and federal tax refunds, an unexpected windfall that was also a mood changer. It will help manage our expenses and keep me in cough syrup, but won’t have much of an impact on I.U. basketball. We’ll use some of it for our upcoming trips to Phoenix, Tucson, and San Francisco. I might even practically set-aside some education funds for my grandchildren. With a runny nose, achy joints, and nagging cough, it’s tough to think about any of these pleasantries. I just can’t take another rough night!



Retirement is not without Hassles: Poof #1211

Where’d they all go? The hundreds of downtown homeless camps that I run by every morning have suddenly disappeared. It was day 4,056 on the endless trail that now approaches 11,000 miles or 17,703 km.(not quite half-way around the world) after my standard 5k (3.1 mile) daily habit. I haven’t missed a day in 11.1 years as part of a personal streak informally monitored by the U.S.R.S.A. The United States Racquet Stringing Association also uses these initials, so don’t get confused if you look it up. If you do click on the link, I’m now #226 on a list of 2,081 active participants (runners not racquet stringers) that have at least run a mile every day for a full year. The amazing leader, Jon Sutherland, stands at 18,518 consecutive days (50.7 years). I will not live long enough to catch him, but will continue to try. My motivation is quite different than the homeless that are usually my only audience in the early hours.

Poof – they were not there to cheer me on this morning. The streets were clear of tents and litter. The City of Portland picked a rainy night to clean things up, so many were surely interrupted from sleep and forced to leave. It must have taken a massive force to complete this unpleasant task that was probably not without resistance. I could not find anything in the news about it, but it was clearly a highly organized effort. There were rumors that the city had organized a task force to concentrate on this highly-criticized problem. I’m sure it has nothing to do with the fact that this is a mayoral election year. 

Poof – I wonder where they all went? A much needed disappearing act. By daybreak, there were few signs of law enforcement in the area. Were the homeless  hauled away, arrested, jailed as vagrants, or simply ordered to relocate? This certainly doesn’t solve the problem, but effectively makes downtown less of an eyesore. Will they all be back tomorrow or will the city hold their ground? As a humanitarian, I try to be sensitive and provide monetary support for the less-fortunate, but I’ve also been burned a couple of times recently. There must be a better way, but no one has come up with a solution. In the meantime, I’ll see how things change on my morning runs?

Retirement is not without Hassles: Meandering Ramblings #1200

I’m amazed that I’ve now reached the 1200th post on my silly little blog. It’s been a staple in keeping my retirement sanity, along with my running streak. This combination occupies the first couple hours of each morning to provide me with a rewarding sense of daily accomplishment. Both can be tedious tasks that require discipline and mental strength to persevere. This morning, for example, I ran my typical downtown route but imagined that I was in my old neighborhood. I visualized every turn, landmark, bus stop, mile-marker and hill that was part of the course that became familiar over a five-year span. As I ran by the waterfront today, I was envisioning what I once called “retirement circle,” a cul-de-sac that was halfway through my former neighborhood route. Instead of seeing the homeless sitting on park benches, I was looking at beautiful landscaped yards and fine homes. 

By superimposing one route over the other, it challenged my mind to focus on the past and became a welcome distraction from the monotony of each step. There truly is a sharp contrast between suburbia and downtown, each with a distinct personality.  It’s not that I miss the old neighborhood – it’s just a matter of adjusting to running through busy intersections and on uneven sidewalks while avoiding scooters, bicycles, commuters, and homeless people. It requires so much more awareness to circumvent the obstacles of a busy downtown. It was a little less imposing this morning since it was a quiet Saturday and not a hectic work day. Otherwise, I might not have been able to complete this fun mental exercise that accompanied the physical strain of day 4,045 of my continuous running streak. 

After the run each morning, I like to relax at the keyboard and let my mind guide my fingers. Often I just start writing without a conscious topic or goal. As a result, many of my posts are nothing but meandering ramblings that somehow come together in the end. By 10 a.m. every single morning, I’ve run 3.1 miles and submitted another short chapter to this blog. Sometimes I add a humorous poem that comes to me during the run and keeps my brain off the tedious task at hand. Today, however, it was just a mind game that kept me going, as I mentally rambled through the old neighborhood while navigating the new.  

Retirement is not without Hassles: Emergency Room #1197

Just as we started to get back into our normal routine, a trip to the Emergency Room changed everything. My wife had tripped over the uneven sidewalk while pushing her grocery cart and landed awkwardly on her foot. We had plans to go to the movie Cats and decided it was still a good way to keep any weight off her injury, but predictably it began to swell and stiffen. By the end of the movie we were both in pain – me from the movie and her from the discomfort of a throbbing foot. She could no longer walk so we called for an Uber and went straight to the Emergency Room.

About once a decade I take her to the hospital. The first was the Y2K New Year after she cut herself badly trying to prepare our special crab-leg dinner – that was 20 years ago. Ironically, we struggled with ideas on how to make it memorable and this certainly will never be forgotten. The only other time was a kidney stone ten years ago, a painful affliction that we share. She’s reciprocated equally on ER visits for me over the course of our relationship. Fortunately, none of these situations was even close to life-threatening. Naturally, this most recent experience was just weeks after we increased the deductible on her insurance, so it will be costly once we get the bill. She’s not yet eligible for Medicare and COBRA is expensive in this retirement transition. Nothing was broken but she had x-rays and has to temporarily wear a boot. It could have been worse!

As I sat patiently waiting for her to be treated, my thoughts were focused on how fortunate I was to not be in there myself. Every day while running, there’s a real threat of falling, or worse yet being hit by a car or bike in the course of crossing over 50 busy intersections. I’m lucky to have run 4,038 consecutive days without a serious leg injury. As ambulances arrived with those facing much worse, I thought about my two business cohorts already lost this year. My boss from Joseph A. Banks in Austin recently passed, along with a fellow department head at WISH-TV in Indianapolis. Both were younger but faced weight issues, so I’m grateful to have the discipline to run every day in maintaining my good health. May they both rest in peace, and please no more emergencies in my life. 

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