Category Archives: Writing

2012 – The Fitness at 50 Year in Review

IT’S STILL A BIT HARD TO BELIEVE that 2012, my “year of being 50” is over and done with, even as full a year as it was.

As a forward-looking guy, I’m more interested in what I’m doing and learning now, and training for events to come. But readers who joined me during the year (thank you, thank you!) may not be fully aware of everything I’d planned for, and did, during 2012. So, in a nutshell, here’s what I’d set for myself to accomplish last year, and how it worked out.

2012 – The Setup

The idea to do something special at age 50 began in 2007 as a “500 at 50” bike trip, in which I would ride from home to our campground near the Sleeping Bear Dunes and back (500 miles) in the summer of 2012. As I continued to train and get in better shape, however, I thought of other things I could do to celebrate being 50, and gradually the plan developed for all the 50-related goals in 2012 – including creating a blog to tell the story.

In addition to the bike trip and a total running/cycling goal of 2,500 miles (50×50), I set monthly targets in the various activities and hobbies I pursue.

With such a great coach, success was a near guarantee.

With such a great coach, success was a near guarantee.

Calisthenics (January):  I kicked off 2012 with a modest goal of 50 pushups per day in January, and despite getting a cold a couple of weeks in, made the goal. A good start!

Cooking (February & March) – This part didn’t work out so well. My initial goal was to cook 50 new recipes in February. I didn’t get near that number, even when I extended it to March. A key certification effort at work meant I didn’t have the time or energy to get there. On the plus side, I created or found some recipes that became family favorites. Later in the year I tried out a few new truffle flavors, too. My experience with durian in December was less pleasant, but a learning experience nonetheless.

Of course, these are all "calorie-free" - since I don't sell them, all the calories are free.

Of course, these are all “calorie-free” – since I don’t sell them, all the calories are free.

ReverseHandThrowAikido (April, July) – Goal: attend 50 classes in one month. I chose April because the big push at work was over, and it wouldn’t be too hot in the dojo (our school doesn’t believe in air conditioning). By attending my regular Rec & Ed classes and getting in lots of extra training at the main dojo, I wound up with 55 for the month. We celebrated by doing 55 pushups at the end of the final class.

Bokken - KamaeIn July my goal was buki (wooden weapons) practice in increasing sets of 50. So at the end of the month I was doing 200 sword strikes per day. I think I improved my technique as a result, although I’ve been told it takes 1,000 strikes per day to get really good.

Cycling (May, August) – The August “500 at 50” bike trip was the main event, but I wanted to get some serious BIS (butt-in-saddle) time before then. I decided on some all-weekend rides in May, with the goal of visiting 50 small towns during the month. Town #50 was Honor, which I reached during our Memorial Day weekend trip up north.

Doing my part to save lives!

Doing my part to save lives! (Breast cancer walk fundraiser in Clinton.)

Daughters - the best welcoming committee!

Daughters – the best welcoming committee! (Arrival at the campground.)

The August 500-mile trip wound up being 600 miles due to back roads (and getting lost a couple of times), and despite some unexpected detours and riding an entire day in the rain, made it there and back on schedule, meeting a number of wonderful people and eating a lot of cookies and scones along the way. You can read about it here.

NaNoWriMo 2012 Winner CertificateWriting (November) – November was National Novel Writing Month (fondly known among writers as NaNoWriMo), whose annual challenge is to write a novel of at least 50,000 words during the month (how convenient!). I selected a story idea that had been bouncing around in my head for a couple of years, and finally put electrons to it. I got over the 50,000 word mark with a day to spare. Now comes the fun part – completing it, then edit, revise, and repeat.

Mile 19 - State Street - croppedRunning (year round) – Wow. When did I turn into a runner? My count shows 20 races from December 2011 to December 2012, with age group awards in 12 of them, a PR (personal record) in every distance, and a finish under 20:00 in a 5K, something I’d been working toward for two years. I also set a distance PR by running a 50K (31.2 miles) ultramarathon at Run Woodstock in September (and did something else for the first time that you can read about here). And you couldn’t ask for better support than my coach, Marie, and the wonderful folks who run with PR Fitness.

The PR Fitness teams at the Crim 10-mile. (I'm the last row, far right.)

The PR Fitness teams at the Crim 10-mile. I’m in the back row, far right. Marie is center, bib #2875.

You may have noticed that not every month is covered. June was the Dexter-Ann Arbor half marathon and the Ann Arbor Marathon, so I figured that was enough to go on. October I just couldn’t think of anything, so I let it go. (That was the best part of this whole thing. My year, my rules!)

So, have I set goals for 2013? Yes – and no. Details to follow.

Have You Seen This Man? And other Miscellany

Thomas Jefferson - 2 Dollar BillJUST WONDERING IF YOU’VE SEEN THIS GUY RECENTLY. I realize that old T.J. doesn’t ‘circulate’ much these days, but I’m doing my best to keep him visible. The $2 bill is my tip of choice at coffee shops and other such places. I’ve been doing it for years as a sort of schtick, and this year I added the following touch:

Back of 2 Dollar Bill

Why not a little self-promotion with my latte? Anyway, I was at the bank recently reloading my stash, and I got one that was already stamped – the first time that has happened. But no one has yet emailed me or left a comment saying they got one, so I have no idea where it’s been between when I spent it and when I got it back. So if you do happen across one of these, please drop me a line. I know this site isn’t exactly, but it would still be fun to find out that someone got a stamped bill and checked out my blog as a result. So speak up, people!

I should also update everyone on how my effort for National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) turned out. So here you go:

NaNoWriMo 2012 Winner Certificate

Yep, I got to the 50,000 word mark with a day to spare. I’ve since taken a brief hiatus from writing it, with training for 5K races and upcoming Aikido test taking priority, but I’ll be back to it shortly. Last weekend I went to a followup session called, “You’ve Written a Novel – Now What?” which featured a local writer and a small press publisher explaining the best way to market your work and what kinds of things will annoy an editor or otherwise make him stop reading. Very useful information, given that I’m writing the Great Interstellar Novel!

DurianFinally, an adventure in food to relate. The day before my 51st birthday, I decided to sneak in one final thing I’d never done before, and settled on attempting to eat durian. For those of you who aren’t familiar with this exotic and odiferous Asian fruit, let’s just say that the first person to eat one must have been either very, very brave, or five minutes away from starving to death. Today it is considered a delicacy in some parts of the world, dead-skunk like aroma notwithstanding.

But where to find one? Surprisingly, it isn’t always available at Meijer. However, living in East San Francisco (a.k.a. Ann Arbor) has its advantages, and I procured one at a local Asian grocery store – the kind where nobody in the place speaks English. (Talk about a “fish out of water” feeling.) As I stood in line with the spiky football I was pretty sure that a couple of people were snickering, but it was in Chinese, so I have no idea who or what they may have been laughing at. Probably me, though.

Me contemplating eating a durian

Should I, or shouldn’t I? I have to, I’m wearing the magic sweatshirt.

Anyway, I got it home, and after getting on the Internet to find out how to open it, I managed to get a couple of spoonfuls down. So how was it?

Me eating a durian

Okay, mission accomplished. But now the problem is I have most of the fruit left. What can I do with it? Sure can’t compost it, and the garbage man has his standards. There are a number of durian recipes on the Internet, however, including durian cheesecake and durian ice cream. Dare I try them? If I do, and manage to keep the HazMat team away, I’ll let you know.

Warming up for Cold Weather

TEMPERATURES MAY FINALLY BE FALLING, BUT IT’S PLENTY HOT in the Fitness at 50 world. There are several events yet before the year’s over, and they’re coming up fast. For instance:

Running – The weekly miles continue; this is something I do year round, and almost never inside. I’d rather be out in the cold and dark and the snow, than on a treadmill. Most times.

Believe it or not, I really enjoyed this winter race. (Super 5K 2011)

My final race of the year, the Holiday Hustle 5K, is this Saturday. I will be there early to help set up, then at 4:30 comes the race. It’s my last chance to finish a 5K under 20:00 before I turn 51 on Monday, so you can bet I will be giving it everything I’ve got.

Aikido – My 1st Kyu test is Tuesday, Dec. 11. If I pass this test, I will become eligible to test for black belt in 2013. So I’m getting in some extra classes this week and next, and my four classes today gave me one heck of a workout. So I’ll be taking it easy tomorrow – or not. At this point, every chance to practice is gold. So we’ll see.

Writing – My 50,000 word goal is in reach!  The novel is coming right along, and I have less than 3,000 words to go, with the deadline of tomorrow (Friday). Looks like the final novel will be much longer than 50,000 words, but that’s okay, As the NaNoWriMo people put it, November is the beginning. Just get the words down. December (and the rest of your life, if need be) is for finishing and editing. Once I bang the thing into more reasonable shape, I will share some excerpts with you all.

That’s all for the moment. Gotta get back to the novel!

Putting the P.I.E. Together

IT’S BEEN A QUIET FEW DAYS at the Fitness at 50 household, primarily because I’m spending a lot of time writing. It’s National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) and my goal this month is a novel, from scratch, of at least 50,000 words. I’m trying for an average of 2,000 words per day, which is tough given a full-time day job, and Aikido and running in the evenings, but so far I’m close.

So what is my novel about? At this point I will say only that it is science fiction and it’s in very rough form. I spent a few days in October putting together character sketches and a plot summary, but the story itself is just sort of coming out as I write and think about the next day’s direction.

I won’t be sharing much of it for a while; the idea is to use November just to write, and not do any editing until December. That means what I’m writing now – the first draft – is very rough and full of unfinished ideas and conversations. Even the main plot has shifted a couple of times already, but that’s okay. It’s all part of the adventure.

I did find time this weekend to make a pie, at the request of my daughter, and who can turn down that kind of request? Here’s a photo of the finished pie. Can you guess what kind it is?

Give up? If you guessed it’s a custard type of pie, you are essentially correct. But I’ll bet you don’t know its featured ingredient. Here’s a photo of a slice, although I doubt it’ll be much of a hint.

I won’t keep you in suspense any longer, especially because I have no idea if anyone’s bothered to get this far in the post anyway. (Reading about writing is rather like watching golf. No, scratch that, it’s even more boring.) Anyway, along with sugar, eggs, vanilla, cinnamon, and a touch of maple syrup, the featured ingredient is…well, here’s the recipe:

Apple cider vinegar? That’s right! I never would’ve thought you could make a pie featuring vinegar. And yet, the result is not sour at all – it’s sweet and tangy. Now you can definitely taste the vinegar, and it stays with you a bit, so I think I’ll play with it some more before I officially add it to The Recipes I Am Famous For. My daughter is a big fan of it, however.

P.S. The title of this post comes from an article I read online that talks about proper paragraph structure. You can read it here.