Tag Archives: blogging

Telling My Stories

I began this blog in 2011, which means this is my TENTH YEAR posting about my adventures in this spot. Wow. Really hard to believe. It really doesn’t seem all that long ago that I was writing my first posts and hoping someone other than my family would read them. And they have!

It amazes me to this day that people say to me, “I was reading your blog the other day,…” when I was sure they didn’t even know I had a blog, let alone read it. And for everyone who’s ever posted a comment, or liked my posts in WordPress or on Facebook, thank you so much. I appreciate it so much.

With recent happenings, my running adventures have been confined to my neighborhood, of course. No races, no run club (hey, I miss you guys!), and I even try to stay off heavily walked areas, including the wonderful new path along Huron River Drive to Dexter-Huron Metropark. When this all passes, you have to get on it. Walk, run, bike, whatever. It’s gorgeous, and will be even more so when it’s full of green things and flowers.

And the stay-at-home order does have certain advantages. One big one is more time with my wife. We actually get to see each other during weekdays, not just at the end when she’s exhausted from a long day and commute home. And we’re going on walks together just about every day.

Just yesterday we walked to the Fox Science Preserve about two miles from our house. I’ve run by it many times, but never actually went in. I had no idea that it’s 69 acres big, and represents a terrain very close to what it looked like when the glaciers retreated 12,000 years ago. We’re definitely going back to walk the trails sometime.

As for training, moderation is the conventional wisdom for now. I’m doing easy runs up to 16 miles, occasional intervals and hill work, walks, and reasonable strength training. Part of me feels the “guilt” of not hitting things hard as usual, but plenty of time for that later. And the fall racing season could be really packed, so it’s a good idea to rest up and be ready.

Training at Body Specs. I really miss this. Oh, yeah. Really.

And then there’s my creative writing. Funny, even with this enforced “at home” time, I still have to make time to write. And that’s what the most successful writers do. They sit down and work, even when they don’t feel creative. It’s the same thing I’ve had to do to train for races. Get my butt out the door even if the weather isn’t perfect, or to the gym even when I’m not motivated to lift heavy things or do pullups. You know what? It works. We shall see if I can apply the same discipline to my writing.

So I’m going to continue telling my stories, running and otherwise, on this blog and elsewhere. And if you have a story you’d like to share with my readers, running or otherwise, drop me a line. Stay safe!

The Write Stuff

IT’S TIME TO MAKE one of those “put up or shut up” moves. And ’tis the season to do so, after all.

I began this 2011 with the goal of sharing my journey to my first marathon and from there to my “year of being 50” celebrations, including a 600-mile bike trip and my first 50K ultra, among other challenges.

Like finishing this race (2016).

For eight years now I’ve continued to write about my adventures, mainly in athletics. But I haven’t shared much about my other writing, which includes fiction, essays, and technical papers. With everything else going on, including starting and running my own company, some things had to be set aside. And creative writing just for the sake of creative writing has been one of those things.

It’s a poor excuse. And it must end.

I’ve enjoyed writing since I was very young. In elementary school, my adventures of a police detective and his faithful St. Bernard were considered good enough to read to my entire class. And over the years I’ve written many short stories, worked on some ideas for novels, and even made some feeble attempts at poetry. I’ve also attended several writing seminars and been part of a writers group. It’s been fun, but always a sideshow to the rest of my life. In one of my very first posts on this blog, I confess to this. Here’s a link to it:  The Hard Work

Being part of a writers group helped me write more regularly, but it wasn’t enough.

I daydream about getting that work out to a wider audience, or even pursuing (yet another) career as a writer. That takes time and effort. And above all, having a writing routine. Among the “keys to success” of prolific writers is that they write on a regular basis. Stephen King writes every day. With no distractions or excuses allowed.

And so while I’m not big on New Year’s resolutions, I’m going to make one for 2020. And that is to find out if I really want to finish those stories and novels, and do my best to get them read by others. From ultrarunning and Aikido training, I know I possess the discipline to accomplish anything I really want to do. It’s time for me to decide if creative writing is one of them.

“If you want to be a writer, write.” – Epictetus (*)

And if it ends up that is not? Then at least I will know that. But even if I end up going in other directions, my athletic and other adventures will definitely continue. As will my dedication to share them with you in this blog. Thanks again to all of you for finding the time to include me in your life.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from my family to yours.

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(*) I suppose I should mention that, like Socrates and many other famous teachers (including the one whose birth we celebrate this week), Epictetus never actually wrote anything down. We are fortunate enough to have some of his teachings thanks to his students. (Then again, Epictetus never said he wanted to be a writer.)

My “Double Nickel” Promotion

I GOT A PROMOTION TODAY.

Not for anything I did, or didn’t do. No, this was entirely due to three lucky accidents: that I was born, that my parents didn’t kill me when I was a teenager, and that I have lived this long.

You see, I turned 55 today.

And it’s been a good day! I got in 14 miles with my favorite run club, birthday wishes from family and friends, and free ice cream at Coffee House Creamery to go with my Sweetwaters OMG Chocolate Cake. And kisses and a funny/sappy card from my wife. Can’t ask for much more.

Coffee tastes really good after a cold morning run!

Coffee tastes really good after a cold morning run!

But for a competitive runner, turning 55 means one more thing – advancement to a new age group.

What does that mean? Not much, really. While some “senior discounts” kick in at this age, they don’t include race entry fees or running gear prices. There are a couple of minor benefits, such as ten extra minutes on a Boston Marathon qualifying time, and, based on my observation of race results, an improved chance to win age group awards. (Not that I need more pint glasses or spray-painted shoes.)

Final race in the 50-54 age group. Went out with a bang!

Final race in the 50-54 age group. Went out with a bang!

The group I’m leaving (50-54) is a strong one. There were times over the past five years I’ve beaten every runner aged 40-49 and still not been the top Masters finisher. Heck, a 52-year-old won the Bigfoot Snowshoe 5K a few years ago. And there are some age 55+ runners much faster than I am; they inspire me to try to keep improving.

I know some people get bummed out about reaching a “milestone year” such as 30, 40, 50, or whatever. Not here. My “year of being 50” was a celebration of events such as a 600-mile bike trip and first 50K ultra, and “my year of 55” will be celebrated in the same spirit.

First 50K at 50. How to top that at 55? We shall see!

First 50K at 50. How to top that at 55? We shall see!

Like how? In addition to my first Boston Marathon, I’ve got some off-the-wall things on the calendar:

  • An ultra in the snow (likely) in January;
  • A 100-mile race that takes place entirely in New York City;
  • A 50K in the Nevada desert in August (at the Burning Man festival)
  • A special bike event in Portland this summer (details later)

As well as more Aikido, bike rides, and strength workouts at Body Specs. Skip just sent me an email promising a “special birthday workout”. I can hardly wait for Monday. Yeah.

And there will be more of the “Zero Waste” sustainable events work I’ve done this year with RF Events. We achieved some amazing results this year! In fact, I’m about to launch a new website dedicated to that topic. I’ll let you know when it goes live.

And, of course, this blog will continue. I hope to keep it going as long as I have stories to tell, And I also hope you’ll continue to read enjoy them! Hearing from readers is always heartwarming. You rock!

So Long, Mom, and Thanks for All the Comments

I was on mile seven of my Saturday morning run when I got the call. People don’t usually call me during this run, so I was pretty sure what it was about. And it was quickly confirmed. My mother had passed away.

The event was not unexpected; Mom had declined rapidly. For the last few weeks she’d been awake less and less often, finally slipping into a coma from which she rarely stirred. The night before, we’d had Thanksgiving dinner at my brother’s house, where Mom lived, and spent the evening with her. We’re very grateful for that final opportunity to include her in a family event.

We’ll hold a celebration for her during the holidays. In the meantime, life continues, as well as this blog, from which I’ve lost a dedicated reader. So this post is dedicated to her and the support she gave me in documenting my adventures on the web.

Mom's 80th birthday party last year.

Happier times: Mom’s 80th birthday party last year.

Growing up, Mom’s main contribution to keeping me and my siblings fit was kicking us out of the house on nice days. When I took up cycling, Aikido and running in my forties and began blogging about them, she became one of my first readers. Like the movie Julie and Julia, the first comment on my blog (then Fitness at 50) was from Mom. She continued to follow my posts and submit comments for over three years, until she was no longer well enough to use her computer.

She enjoyed the stories about the people I met and towns I visited on my long bike trips (click here for one in particular). Not so much with my race recaps. “Another one of those, ‘I did this, I did that’,” she’d say, discounting the idea that the blog was supposed to be about my personal adventures. Talk about tough critics! But I wrote more “color” stories as a result.

Mom's handle was "rhgramma" (rh standing for Red Hot).

Mom’s web handle was “rhgramma” (rh standing for Red Hot).

Here are a select few of her more colorful blog comments. You may get an idea where I get some of my sense of humor – and love for all things dark chocolate…

Oh! Usain Bolt is a man — a very fast man — I thought it was a name for a runner’s super drink. oh well . . .

Regarding Mr. Jurek’s book: — is “Eat and Run” anything like the signs you see along the country roads — “Eat and Get Gas’?

42 times the personal pronoun “I” appeared in this last blog. Only 8 (eight) more and you could have hit the 50 mark and added it to your goal of 50 things to accomplish. Oh well, there’s still time!!!

Have you considered giving up your day job and becoming a chocolate reviewer. Me — I’ll just go on being a chocolate “conna-sewer”: eating what I like and not eating what I don’t like. And right off the bat we can discard white “chocolate” and milk chocolate and any chocolate that has nuts or other ingredients that interrupt the chocolate flow ….

Stay tuned for a NEW BLOG! What it’s like to be Jeff’s mother — starting 50+ years ago.

Finally, I have Mom to thank for a great insight. I once wrote a post about going out one cold morning for a run, and how what started out as a slog turned into a terrific run as the sun came out and I warmed up. I wrote about how grateful I felt to be out there that morning, and it was almost like praying. Here’s the key paragraph from that post:

After six miles, the sun came out full and I shed my jacket. Conditions for the last twelve miles were perfect for running, and I was now grateful for choosing the morning to run. And while I was in the mood, I also took the time to be grateful for the other things that allowed me to be out there – for being healthy enough and strong enough to run, and having the freedom, both political and economic, to do so. It wasn’t a specific prayer; I just let myself experience the feeling of gratitude for a minute or so. I recommend this practice. It does a great job of making minor discomforts disappear for awhile.

Mom responded to the post by writing, “Gratitude IS prayer. Amen.”

Right on, Mom. Rest in peace.