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Category: RUNNING STREAK (Page 1 of 34)

The trials and tribulations of running every single day

Retirement is not without Hassles: All Good Things must come to an End: #2527

Geoffrey Chaucer is credited with saying, “all good things must come to an end.” In other words, nothing lasts forever, including all of us.  Chaucer, of course, is best known for writing The Canterbury Tales. I do not recognize any of his other works, but just like his words, he died in 1400 and is buried in Westminster Abbey. I do not recall seeing his monument there when we visited exactly a year ago today, in fact. I was still running at that time, although I knew that the end of my streak was not far away.

Sure enough, January 15, 2024 was the last day, with open-heart surgery later that morning. I sent a notification to the United States Streak Runners Association to that effect, and today I saw the official word in the Summer newsletter. I had been moved from the active list to the retired list, slotted as #164 in all-time lengths of streaks, after 15.05 years of running every day. Realistically, others will soon pass me by, and this ranking will continue to fall. I will salute each one, as well as the 163 others that maintained longer streaks through the years.  

Even though I indicated that I had already started walking a couple miles every day in recovery, I have since had a setback. Charlie Horses and cramps in my left thigh and calf have led me to the gym. I can do the stationary bike and rowing machine, but after about 15-minutes on the treadmill the pain is too great. I do finally get an ultrasound next week in trying and get some answers. Also, for the first time in several weeks, I started to feel a bit light-headed during the course of writing this post. This had been an issue, along with balance, for some time. The treadmill at least allows me to hold onto the side rails for support. I did notice that my blood pressure dropped from 111/87 to 83/77 after this morning’s workout. 

Running for me was more than just exercise. It was a daily goal in my life that helped me transition from the working world into retirement. Now, I at least have the gym to keep me busy for an hour every morning. Writing is a secondary motivation that keeps me going every day. I’ve been so consumed in writing a neighbor’s life story that I’ve somewhat ignored my own personal need to get in touch with myself through these rants. I’ve often noted that putting things in writing is like having my own personal therapist – you, the reader. Thanks for tolerating my all-too-often-boring life stories. They, too, will inevitably come to an end someday. Right, Mister Chaucer?

Retirement is not without Hassles: Final Miles #2467

I guess I’ve been watching too much Lawman: Sam Bass because I’m beginning to liken my surgery tomorrow to a hanging. Obviously, the outcome won’t be the same, but the anticipation certainly is. I’m currently eating my last meal, sausage & eggs, before the restricted diet comes into play. It’s certainly not a pleasant experience trying to plan for a life-changing event. I will be glad when it’s over and friends stop worrying about me. I’m trying to process all the well-wishes, prayers, and goodies. “The Streak” stops tomorrow at 5,496 days, but I’m still harboring hope that the rope will somehow break.  

Surgery has been moved to later in the morning tomorrow, so I won’t have to run my final mile in the middle of the night. I’ll have the option of going outside or using the treadmill. Then, if I can even barely pick up my feet and cover a mile by Tuesday midnight, I could get to 5,497 or more. It’s probably a pipe dream, the same hope that any hanging victim might have in waiting out the hours and anticipating the questionable. 

This morning’s mile-plus was cold and windy, but not like the conditions of last night’s NFL Wildcard game in Kansas City. We’ll make the drive to Tampa in a few hours as I continue to contemplate my fate. My wife’s daughter, the Cardio PA at Stanford, just called to advise me to move as much as possible after surgery despite the weakness. However, the other implied message is not to overdo it. A mile is probably out of the question the day after surgery, but the intent is still there. 

I will not be able to continue my reports for a while and will not take my laptop with me into the Hospital. I might jot a few notes down on my phone, if that will even be allowed in Intensive Care? Just know that I will run tomorrow, likely for the last time on this particular streak. Beyond that is the unknown! Will there be more running miles ahead?


Old Sport Shorts: Minnesota #2466

The Hoosier men managed another home victory against Minnesota 74-62, with a game that was never in doubt. Malik Reneau’s lay-up at 13:02 took them over the magic mark (61-39) and went on to score 16. However, it was really Mackenzie Mgbako who flexed his freshman muscles with a 19-point career high. Two other starters were in double figures, including Kel’el Ware’s double-double and Trey Galloway’s ten. Xavier Johnson primarily rode the bench as retaliation for his actions at Rutgers. The Cream and Crimson accounted for 16-points off 14-turnovers, limiting themselves to a respectable ten, a vast improvement over the Scarlet Knight debacle. 

The Hoosier women were on a 13-straight roll since the Stanford loss. They stood at 14-1 headed into icy Iowa City to play before a national audience on FOX. The #3 Hawkeyes left little doubt after an 84-67 drubbing behind Caitlin Clark’s 30-points and 11-assists, after missing her first six three-pointers.  I can’t even say she then finished hot in the blizzard-like conditions outside because she has averaged 31 for the season. I.U. had fifteen-turnovers and only scored 20 in the second half. Mackenzie Holmes led Indiana with 16-points. Yarden Garzon and Sydney Parrish each totaled 11. Iowa is now in sole possession of the BIG Ten Conference lead, while I.U. will surely drop from their #14 national ranking. Purdue, Illinois, and Wisconsin, all ranked in the Top 20, loom for the men, while the women next host Minnesota. At least, the Purdue battle is at home.



Retirement is not without Hassles: On Hold #2464

Three more runs to go – or maybe not. As I completed my “Runella” this morning (See Post #2463), I got a call from Tampa General Hospital Financial Services claiming that my insurance had yet to be approved. Without confirmation by 3 p.m. this afternoon my surgery could be delayed. Just the kind of stress that a heart patient doesn’t need. I might need to cancel my transportation and accommodation plans and if so, “The Streak” continues. 

At the same time, I received two hard copies of my Storyworth contribution, “My Life in Black & White” in the mail. It’s 408 pages with photographs and a project that I’ve worked on since last Christmas. I’m finally published but not in the manner that I always expected. This was a wonderful gift from my family, and I personally autographed each one. Maybe someday I’ll be an “official” author, but at least my story is written and in book form. 

On another note, when I was a teenager, I would never have imagined running every day. I hated to run, so it’s even more remarkable that I’ve done marathons, races, and developed an uninterrupted daily running habit of over 15-years. I did expect at that age, however, that push-ups would become a daily endeavor. It was a Florida retiree and friend of my grandparents that was the inspiration. I admired his motivation in telling me at this vulnerable age that he had does push-ups every morning. As I watched, I decided to make the idea mine, and as a result do a short exercise routine of stretching, sit ups, and push-ups before my run each morning. In fact, I can’t remember a time in my life, running or not, that I didn’t do a regimen of push-ups. I currently do over 90 a day, but this habit will also soon be disrupted. 

I won’t be allowed to lift over 10-pounds for at least two months after this surgery. Sit-ups will also not be possible, so it’s hard to say what my new life will be like. Will I eventually get back to doing these basic elements of fitness or turn into a slug? At this moment, everything is on hold!


Retirement is not without Hassles: Runella #2463

Four days until surgery – four last runs. This morning I did the standard route down Rinella Street that I fondly refer to as “Runella.” I’m seeing all those familiar neighbor faces, many of whom are still nameless. There’s Leo, Johnny, several Mikes, Paula, a few Karens, Kathie, Big Jim, Diane, Steve, Rich, Maddie, and Nick to recall a few. Last names are not so easy. I run by the dog park, pickle ball courts, clubhouse, playground, basketball courts, and home after home. A big green utility box marks the mile mark, and a concrete garden monolith with holes is the half-mile gage. When I stretch it to three miles, a half-way pathway takes me over a Venetian-like canal bridge. I always add on that extra tenth of a mile to accommodate any GPS inaccuracies. 

I started watching the Lawman Bass Reeves series on Paramount last night. My interest was a result of a recent Ban(n)ister Family post. My birth name was Jerry Lee Banister. Apparently, Texas Ranger, John Riley Banister (1854-1918), Sheriff of Coleman County, participated in the arrest of legendary outlaw Sam Bass. His brother Will was also a Ranger. I was mistaken in thinking that Bass Reeves (1838-1910) and Sam Bass (1851-1878) had a direct connection, but they lived in the same lawless era. Bass Reeves is believed to have been “The Lone Ranger,” with several key similarities between the radio & TV character and the actual legend. 

My wife has the car today, tending to her substitute teaching duties, while our schnauzer Tally misses out on a trip to the dog park. A few of her buddies were there this morning as I ran by and waved. She seems content curled up in my office chair as I write this. Tally will go to Schnauzerville on Sunday, as I make final preparations for Monday’s surgery. Maybe there will be one final “Runella” before this streak finally ends?

Retirement is not without Hassles: Miserable Miles #2462

Despite consuming two bottles of white wine last night, watching the I.U. basketball loss with a neighbor, my run this morning was relatively good. There were no major breathing issues or strong winds and rain, so I was able to get back to a normal 2.1-mile jaunt. This was after four days of miserable miles and many thoughts of quitting “The Streak.” After all, there’s little motivation knowing that it will officially end next Monday morning. However, I now confidently feel I can muddle through the last five mornings. The end is now in sight. 

As I prepare mentally for a long stint of relative inactivity, I’m getting my financial affairs in order, along with a haircut and final tele-consult with my surgeon, Doctor Lozonschi. I’m finally learning to proper pronunciation of his name, moving on from simply Doctor L. He has a very capable team of associates to assist him on Monday morning. I still plan to use the hotel treadmill for a ceremonial final run. The days after will more than likely be a blur. 

On the home front, our pool heater is two months over the warranty, so getting it repaired will put another dent in the budget, let alone the out-of-pocket costs of the hospitalization. I’ve taken a three-month leave from my weekly Chiropractor visit to save a few bucks. This afternoon, we have to plan our shore excursions for my recovery cruise in mid-March. Most are included, but there is a wine-tasting event in Argentina that has intrigued my wife and some other tours that may add to our trip expenses. We’ve all agreed that tasting the local fare will not add to our costs since we’re perfectly satisfied with the on-board restaurant options. On a positive note, I won’t have to navigate the unsteadiness of a treadmill or ship deck in rough waters to maintain my running streak. By then, the addiction of running for fifteen years straight will have likely passed. I will need to simply relax. 

Before surgery, I will have to endure another I.U. basketball game, the Saturday night “Borrego Bash,” and another nerve-racking drive to Tampa.  My wife and I will also have another Sunday Night Financial meeting that has wisely been on hold for several months because they typically result in a disagreement. Holiday expenses were naturally extensive and mortgage/insurance costs have predictably gone up. I want to make sure that we’re both on the same page before my costly hospital stay, assuring a peaceful recovery period. She will be at my bedside as much as possible, as she reluctantly gives up any opportunity to substitute teach for the next few weeks. I think she enjoys having the rewarding responsibility, while my needs likely will be exhausting. Five days and counting, with just a few more miserable running miles to complete!


Retirement is not without Hassles: Struggle #2460

It took every bit of resolve to complete the minimum mile this morning. I got up early, did my pushups, sit-ups and stretching, took my wife to work, and drove Tally to the dog park. She is currently curled up in my office chair, seemingly content. I could feel the absence of Tylenol in my system as old age stiffness was more pronounced than ever. I wanted to quit in that first Fassio Street stretch as a strong headwind pushed me back a step for every two strides I progressed. My plan was to run 2.1-miles, but my heart was racing. Coordination and balance were difficult, as the 1.1-mile distance I covered felt like a marathon. It looks like I’m destined to finish this 15-year running streak in misery, as I huff and puff along. 

There’s an I.U. game tonight at Rutgers, and I hope the Hoosiers find the stride that I couldn’t this morning. A neighbor and Rutgers alum is coming over for some pre-game chicken pot pie and to watch the action while I wives are at book club. We’ll set our sights on a couple bottles of wine, since one of us will be the loser. Former I.U. quarterback, Michael Penix, Jr. did not set a good example of competitive play in the Washington loss to Michigan in last night’s National Championship. I send this important message to our basketball team: Don’t be like Mike!

I’m headed to Chair Yoga yet this morning, an eye doctor follow-up this afternoon, the chiropractor tomorrow, a tele-video conference with my surgeon on Thursday, and the Saturday night Borrego Bash before the drive to Tampa on Sunday. Maybe we can get in a movie, Date Night and a haircut? All of these routine activities, fun and not so fun, will come to an end on Monday as my new life begins. In the meantime, the struggle of anticipation continues.


Retirement is not without Hassles: Shirking My Duty #2459

It was Christmas Day when I posted my last story here, one of my longest stretches of inactivity since I started this blog. Everything seems out of sorts as I anticipate next week’s surgery. I finished all my pre-op tests this afternoon, after a long drive to Tampa General Hospital. This Sunday my wife and I will motor there again for her stay at the nearby Westin Waterfront. I will be in Intensive Care, much pricier accommodations. She will come back on Wednesday for her tap class and to check on Tally at Schnauzerville, returning the next day to check on my progress. I doubt that I will remember much of my time there, at least until I eventually am moved to a room. The last time I visited was well over 20-years ago, following my son’s accident. He’ll get to visit me this time. 

In those two weeks since Christmas, we’ve gone to several parties, hosted some good friends, spent an afternoon at the Peace River Botanical and Sculpture Gardens, watched some movies, had a cavity fille, dined at several restaurants, entertained neighbors over cocktails, and traveled to Orlando for the Mecum Auction and Disney World. I’ve, of course, managed to get a short run in every morning despite some uncooperative weather and a lack of motivation. In stepping on the scales today, I’ve beefed up a bit, devouring all my favorites before I’m cut-off in favor of a healthy diet. Knowing that my 15-year running streak is coming to an end is discouraging, while every mile has been a chore. Winds, rain, shortness of breath, stiffness, darkness, heavy legs, and even a mechanically challenged resort center treadmill have made things difficult. I don’t really know if my breathing issues are just psychological or a factor of these heart conditions. I’m naturally hoping to feel better overall after this surgery, once the pain of a severed breastbone subsides. 

I will probably use a treadmill in the middle of the night to get at least the last mile in before my 5a surgery block begins. “The Streak” will end on day #5,496, temporarily156th in the world on the U.S.R.S.A. all-time retired list. The surgical team has six-and-a-half hours reserved, but hopefully won’t need that long. The part where they stop my heart is a bit scary, and I’m glad that the anticipation will soon be over. Good drugs and bedrest will become my new routine. There will obviously be another pause in my posts until I get settled back here at home. Rehab will be determined based on the extent of the incision and how I respond. I will definitely be shirking all my duties!


Retirement is Not Without Hassles: Count Your Blessings #2455

I’m admittedly a bit bitter about this upcoming heart surgery. I want to feel sorry for myself and ask the question – Why Me? After all, I’ve sweated and strained all these years to keep myself in shape, and it seems all for nothing. However, my arteries were clear and weight gain controlled, even despite my reputation as the Cookie Monster. Diet has never been one of my strong points, since I eat everything in front of me, rarely close a snack bag once it’s open and ready for the trash and can’t get much satisfaction out of eating healthy vegetables. Give me ice cream, caramel, chocolate, or an Arby’s Jamocha Shake!

Outside of my parents and grandparents, who all lived long, healthy lives, I’ve never really lost someone close to me. If a friend passed away, they did so far away when they were not part of my day-to-day life. For example, I’m having trouble keeping track of the number of high school classmates that have recently died, but I haven’t seen or talked to them in years, outside of Facebook. All my cousins, aunts, nieces, nephews, kids and grandkids are present and accounted for. For this, I am very thankful. 

There is at least a dozen of my neighbors and friends that are currently recovering from knee, hip, and rotator cup procedures. I’m not alone when it comes to repairs. It’s all a part of growing old, so it’s not surprising that the odds have caught up with me on having to go through major surgery, especially after proudly avoiding hospital stays all these years. I’m a little depressed, knowing that I will soon have to give up my running streak after fifteen years of strenuous strutting and go through painful rehab. This will be a new challenge. 

I not currently comfortable in my sagging skin. I fight it with sit-ups, push-ups, and Chair Yoga, but I’ve gained some weight, especially after cutting my mileage back a third due to the hot summer mornings. Even though it’s cooled off a bit, I’m no longer motivated to go that extra mile. I’m also worried what will happen when the running addiction passes. Will I balloon into a Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade attraction?

I’ve been advised that my diet will be forcibly changed after surgery. It’s probably best that I enjoy the Holiday trimmings before I turn into a skeleton. I’m thankful we have a pool that will be helpful in my recovery, and I won’t have to expose my scary scars to the public. I will have time for lots of reading, writing, and browning my relatively pale skin. It’s been cool of late, so I’m looking more and more like Casper the Friendly Ghost. A healthy tan, nutritious food, and swimming could turn me into an aging Greek God. I’m counting my blessings!


Retirement is not without Hassles: Tis The Season #2453

I spent the past two days putting together the Barbie Dreamhouse for my five-year-old granddaughter. I was glad I had plenty of time, unlike years ago when you stayed up all night trying to get things organized under the tree. I ate my own cookies rather than save them for Santa Claus. I’m worn out from having to get up early since my industrious wife is substitute teaching this week. She does all the work, but I feel guilty enough just sitting at home watching TV, and certainly don’t want to lay in bed while she gets ready. It was too dark to let the dog out or run, so I checked all my news and sports sites and finished the daily Wordle puzzle.  School is closed for the next week so there will be no early morning calls or scrambling to get ready. Our dog Tally will be back in her normal routine, and no longer depressed without “Mom’s” presence. 

Gifts are wrapped, just a few gift cards to buy. We had a Winter Solstice party last night and have a cookie exchange on Friday night. She’s taking a neighbor’s family on a Christmas light tour of the edition on our golf cart tonight, while I have a Blue Breaks card shop Holiday party and Trade Night on Saturday. Date Night will follow. Christmas Monday will include a brunch and the Johnston family get together in the late afternoon. I still have several days to get the Dreamhouse finished and complete some last-minute shopping. Tis The Season. 

Tuesday night I joined the Rinella Street gang for a Holiday toast at the Oak and Stone in downtown Wellen Park. These are guys that I see and wave at on my daily morning run, so I’d been invited as a welcome outsider. Even though I don’t officially live on the street and am identified as part of the next-street-over Borrego Boyz, I’m as visible as any of their neighbors. After a few drinks and appetizers, I stopped at a house just down the street from us for a “Stooge-A-Thon.” We watched several “Nyuk, Nyuk, Nyuk” short films together while our wives conducted their monthly Book Club meeting nearby. Curly, Larry, and Moe were a great diversion from the traditional Holiday songs and movies. 

I’m pretty sure that everyone within a mile radius, if not world wide, is now aware of my upcoming heart surgery. It’s exhausting answering questions or discussing rehab. There are two last neighborhood get-togethers before they “crack me open like Humpty Dumpty.” A New Year’s Eve progressive dinner and a Clubhouse Meet-And-Greet will certainly mean additional good-spirited curiosity about my looming hospital stay. Fortunately, we have guests from Portland, Indianapolis, and Decatur arriving next week, so they will make the time pass quickly, as I count down the days until January 15th. My running streak will end early that morning at 15-years and 17-days. (5,496 consecutive daily runs). It’s been long, strange trip!

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