Tag Archives: family

This Running Life

Life would be so much simpler if I hadn’t started running.

This fall has been ten solid weeks of continual “busy mode” with any time I haven’t spent at my office job consumed with working races, running them, or travel. All my own fault; I knew what was coming and signed up for the commitments anyway. And yet, even “winding down” has its share of little adventures. Here a just a few.

Half the fun is not the run: Earlier this week we returned from Richmond (their marathon weekend), where we visited my daughter and her wife. With fall race season (mostly) over, I was really looking forward to kicking back with family and relaxing. And we did the race: Tori and Jess ran the 8K, and me the half marathon.

Richmond lets you choose the name on your bib. Silly, but fun!

Richmond claims it has “The World’s Friendliest Marathon,” and they back it up well. Lots of cheering spectators on the course, a huge crowd lining the last half mile to the finish, and well organized. And when I couldn’t find my drop bag afterward, the staff invited me into the VIP tent while they searched for it. Turned out I’d been looking in the wrong station, but they forgave me, saying they were grateful they hadn’t lost it.

But my half marathon was a self-imposed sufferfest. I hadn’t trained enough to seriously attempt a PR, but I just couldn’t run easy, take pictures and enjoy the live bands and the junk food station. No, I had to run it hard anyway and be miserable for 13.1 miles. One of these days I’ll be able to get out of my own way and have fun. Maybe.

What is this “Free Time” you speak of? On the drive back I went over my upcoming commitments. There was a high-priority office task to work out, I had to finish a composting talk for Frost Middle School, and what about the weekend? Every weekend since early September has involved working a race, running one, or traveling somewhere. I had to finish planning for whatever this one would be.

Wait a second. What do I have coming up this weekend? Nothing. It’s a free weekend at last. It was true, but such was my frame of mind that I couldn’t process it. Even now, on this free weekend, it’s kind of hard to believe.

The keys to happiness: At 5 a.m. Wednesday I got up for the regular 6 a.m. club run. Despite my best efforts, I was unable to talk myself out of it. The run went fine and I returned to my car as the rest of the group went their way. You know that little fear we get sometimes that we’ve locked the keys in the car, or they’ve fallen out of our pocket? Well, I reached into my coat pocket where I keep my keys – and they weren’t there.

So: it’s cold out, I’m sweaty, by myself, with no nearby businesses to duck into. What now? Call an Uber? Run to the nearest coffee shop? And how will I find my keys? They could be anywhere on the 6-mile loop we all just ran. Then I checked more carefully and found they’d snuggled way down deep in the pocket. All was well. But the key gods were in a playful mood, because I misplaced them twice more that morning.

Snow long, it’s been good to know ya: Earlier this month we got a YUGE dump of snow – about nine inches in 24 hours – and after shoveling it all out of my driveway, I decided to make some hay with it, so to speak. I broke out the snowshoes and spent a couple of hours tramping down a quarter-mile trail around my property, and testing it with a mile run. I’d be able to get in some early training for the Bigfoot Snowshoe 5K in January! Then off I went to Richmond, and of course it warmed up and it all went away. C’est la vie en niege!

Just before we left for Richmond.

And when we got back. You can just make out the traces of the trail I made.

Why do I not feel so relieved? One recent Sunday morning I joined a group to run the Potawatomi Trail in Pinckney, just for fun. The “Poto” as we know it round here can be challenging with rolling hills and plenty of rocks and roots, but it’s one of my favorite trails. While we were out there, someone mentioned hunters. “Wait,” I said, “Deer season doesn’t start until next week, right?”

“Gun season hasn’t started yet,” he said. “Bow season is still open, though.”

Happy Holidays!

MERRY CHRISTMAS to all my readers and friends from me and my family. A morning of gifts, a great brunch, and a run – that’s a great day in my book!

Best wishes to everyone for a safe and happy holiday.

Running Into the New Year

A VERY HAPPY NEW YEAR to all my readers! I had a great time over the holidays with family and friends. And I hope you did, too!

Hope you got a visit from Santa Claus! (Or Santa Claws, as the case may be);

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Hope you got to dress up in your finest;

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That you got to spend time with your loving family;

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That you got exactly what you wanted for Christmas;

If you got socks for Xmas - and were happy about it - you might be a runner.

If you got socks for Xmas – and were happy about it – you might be a runner.

And, of course, I hope you got in a good run or two. Here I am with my visiting niece Stephanie and her boyfriend Austin. (They’re the good looking ones.)

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In one sense it’s sad to see the year end, since it seems only yesterday I stood outside my house with this sign:

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And yet after today’s 16-miler, it’s time to close the book on my running log for 2016.

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I’m looking forward to some fun and challenging events in 2017, starting with my first race just one week away. And I’ll continue to share my adventures and misadventures alike here on this blog. Thanks again for reading and I’ll do my best to keep you entertained.

Best wishes for 2017,

Jeff

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.