Final 2017 Running Stats

Well the final run is done, the hay is in the barn so to speak and it is time to see what my running final stats of 2017 ended up looking like.

Let’s start with what my running goals were for 2017:

• Run 1,800 miles between January 1st and December 31, 2017.

• Run at least one half marathon

• Run a sub 22:00 minute 5K

• Run a sub 6:00 mile

  • Weigh under 150

I didn’t meet a single one and looking back on the year that was – that is okay.

What did I end up doing?

Some high points:

  • Total miles: 1,343.1
  • Total number of runs: 320
  • Races: 2
  • Longest Running Streak: Two — 21 Day running streaks
  • Best Month: April with 153.4 miles
  • Worst Month: October with 36.65 miles – I was fighting a bad right hip
  • No single pair of running shoes made it to 200 miles

Looking back

A lot happened in 2017 and I learned a lot about myself and my running, so while I didn’t meet any of those goals, I did make it to my 60th birthday and right now I am running pretty decently. So I am ending the year on a pretty good note.

If you want a more comprehensive overview of what happened in 2017 please read this post and what my plans are for 2018 can be read here.

I am looking forward to having a better year of running in 2018 and will be focusing more on running better – than anything else. I have a feeling if I do that, my running will be just fine.

Last Run of 2017 – RunLog 12-31-17

The last run of 2017, was a quick 3.0 mile treadmill run.

Sure I could have gone up to Bangor or down to Portland to run in one of the end of year races. I chose not to, it is just too cold for me right now – other runners in the area are a LOT tougher than I am and competed in those events or others this morning. Good on them and in a way I am jealous, but not enough to head outside to run anytime soon.

Yeah, it was still -7F when I left the house, with a nasty breeze bringing the wind chill down a lot closer to -20F, not fun to be outside in.

Looking back at my log, I haven’t run outside since December 19th. Yeah, it has been that cold out there.

A lot of people were at the gym with me, only one treadmill was available when I started to run. I almost allowed myself to get caught up in my ultra competitive self and match the guy that was running at 7.6 mph. Instead I was a good boy and started out at 7.1 mph which is the speed I went into the workout planning to do.

Although I did keep peeking over at his treadmill to see what he was doing, then suddenly at 1.0 mile he stopped. Okay, his plan was very different than mine was. So I kept on running along and moved the speed up a notch at 1.0 mile, then at 2.0 miles I decided to increase the speed by .1 every tenth of a mile until the last .25 and then I picked it up pretty good.

I felt good during the entire run and just enjoyed running, without any pressure once the guy beside me stopped. I really wanted to put it on 7.7 mph and “show” him that an old fart could still run. Harold, he really doesn’t give a rat’s arse what you are doing or thinking. Get your head focused on what you are doing, not what someone else is doing on the treadmill beside you. ;-).

I am such a silly old fart sometimes.

Although I really do want to go to Camden to run in that 5K tomorrow morning, but with the forecast for temps to be in stoopid range, the wife has just about convinced me that I should go ahead and keep the treadmill streak alive. Bah humbug.

2018 – What Will It Bring

Well, we made it to another year – tomorrow starts a new one and many of us are all full of piss and vinegar to get started on things that we want to accomplish during this new year. That is if we don’t freeze our arses off first with this cold snap that has enveloped us for the past couple of weeks and appears that will be with us for a couple more.

I am thinking about the many choices I will have to make daily to accomplish or do some of the things that are important to me throughout 2018 and beyond.

As I have gotten older and hopefully a bit wiser, I have figured out that life is all about our choices and how we chose to react to choices made by others, especially when “they” attempt to impose their will upon us.

Life is a journey and it is more often the “so-called little” choices that we make or do on a daily basis that make the biggest differences in our lives.

That being said, what are ten choices that I would like to make for myself in 2018.

Since this is supposedly a running blog, I will pretty much stick to the healthy stuff here:

1. Run better. Notice what I didn’t say — faster at some distance or for my age, stay injury-free or give an annual mileage goal – all those things will happen if I run better. Which means that I have to make the choice to: warm-up before most runs, focus on my running when I am running and do the work after my runs at least 3-4 times a week that help me remain stronger and maybe a bit more limber or is that less like lumber.

2. Simplify my Running shoe choices. Newton Running shoes are working quite well for me. What I need to focus on is running in what works for me and how I run now. Not worry about the latest or greatest running shoes that are out there. The choice that I need to make here is not buying more running shoes until I actually need them, versus continuing to to get sucked into the next great deal or great magical shoe that I don’t really need. This will be a hard one, but I can do it. I might have to turn in my Running Shoe Geek card if I accomplish this choice.

3. No running with Bennie. Since I made the choice to stop running with Bennie, my body has healed most of the niggles, aches or pains that I had accepted to simply be a part of my running. Which means for me to run better going forward, I cannot run with him.

4. Get rid of “stuff”. I have too much old running “stuff” that I put in storage as keepsakes from my running career or old gear that I hang onto, because I really don’t know what else to do with it. I am choosing to go through and get rid of all the old running tech, gear, running shoes that I no longer use. All those old race t-shirts that have so many memories that are stored away – I am choosing to get rid of the raggedy old ones and will start wearing the others. Also I am getting rid of a lot non-running “stuff” around the house that I do not need or want. I see a big yard sale coming at some point this summer. Who knows maybe I will chose to continue down the path of minimalism a bit more.

5. Race more often. I will choose to challenge myself by racing more and would like to do 10-12 races, in addition to the Quarry Road and Bond Brook trail race series this year. I have a feeling that most of my racing will be 5K, because that is really the distance I enjoy. However, I do want to add in a 10K, Half and maybe some odd distances as the year goes on and I am running better. If we travel out of state, find some local races along the way.

6. Get back to running trails. I have pretty much stuck to the roads the past few years, it was easier running with Bennie to do so. However, since I will not be running with him, choosing to running more trails brings me closer to my cross country roots and that in my mind is a good thing. As long as I pick up my feet and don’t use those other roots to kiss the ground — too often.

7. Weigh under 150 pounds. Yes, I will lose 12-15 pounds in 2018. Going back to work introduced many bad habits back into my diet and along with all the traveling to New Hampshire in 2017, I put on about 20 pounds. Time to get rid of that excess baggage, now that we will have less stress and I will make more time to take care of myself. I got to look good for all those race photos – right. Well at least not break the cameras.

8. Eat less processed foods. I will be making the choice to eat foods that are less processed or more homemade, so that I know what ingredients have been put in them. I have a feeling that chips and ice cream will always be a part of my diet, it doesn’t mean that I have to eat a whole bag or a half gallon at a time. Portion control will also be a choice that I make more often going forward. ;-).

9. Meet some of the people I have met through Social Media. I have been on social media for over 10 years now and have “met” many people. I think in 2018 I would like to meet some of you in real life for a cup of coffee or lunch and talk face-to-face. Mike, Andy, Stefan you guys come to mind pretty quickly. At some point this summer I know that I will have to make a trip to Southern Maine, so Sam please expect a message to see if you are available for a run and lunch after. As Mary and I travel around this summer, if any of you who I haven’t mentioned are interested in something like this let me know, I got time and would like to hear from you.

10. Be more willing to take the road less traveled. I tend to get into ruts, routines, follow along with the crowd (even though I don’t like crowds for the most part) and went out of my way to fit in with others. Which often left me feeling like a square peg in a round hole. I want to get back to being a bit more off-center. I like old weird Harold and know that I no longer have do things or even train like everyone else…I see him coming out a bit more often in 2018.

The rest of the choices I see me making in 2018 are more personal and not things that I really want to share with the world. Although I do want to travel a bit with Mary and see some of the Country at a slower pace than the frantic one that I seem to have been living since I left high school so many years ago.

Also I have simplified and cleaned up my spreadsheet running log and think that it will track what is actually important for me this year. Gone are the average pace/miles, intensity and any other extraneous field that I really don’t need to track how I am doing.

I still have some formulas to clean-up/repair, but otherwise I think it is ready to go.

Looking Ahead

The choices I make going forward in 2018, will be the result of attempting to live a full life and damn well enjoying it as much as I can.

That having fun thing.

Follow my adventures and probably a few misadventures along the way if you want, the choice is yours. Either way I believe that 2018 is going to be a very good year when it is all said and done. If you keep reading I have a sneaking suspicion that you might even have a good chuckle or two at my expense.

After all I get to laugh at myself and then write about it.

Still Chilly and Working on Aerobic Capacity – RunLog 12-30-17

Yeah, it’s still damn cold, enough that when I left the house for the gym it was still well below zero. I’ve gotten to the point where I am tired of Bitchin about it and just want it to end – it looks like a week from Monday it “might” break – if you don’t count the snow predicted for Thursday where it may get up to 20*F – a damn regular heat-wave for a day, then back to the ice-box.

So if I want to do stuff outdoors, just gotta suck it up, dress appropriately and do what I got to do.

Which also means my streak of running on the treadmill continues.

It was nice in a way, because one of the neighbors joined PF and we gabbed for a couple minutes before I started running. It was good to catch-up on what’s been happening at her end of the neighborhood.

The run was 7.0 mph for 3.0 miles and then the last mile increasing the speed to the end with a nice last .25 kick. The left calf is a bit tight and has been since Thursday’s acupuncture appointment, so I have been keeping a close tab on how that is feeling. No issues during the run, just tightness.

I did work on making it so I wasn’t reaching forward with my foot and activating the gluteus more during a stride. I felt like I was doing better, but I will keep working at it and take another look at my form in a month to see if the exercises and stuff are making a difference or if I just have to accept that I run like I run and can only tweak small things – I think this old body has too much damn muscle memory to bother messing around with too much.

One thing that I think might help me in the long run is to keep doing the elliptical. It forces me to have a more compact stride and I push downwards with a lean (sound a bit similar to some running stuff I read once or twice) and use my gluteus to go through the stride motion. All without the pounding that I would during a run. We will see if any of this extra work pays off or not. Although adding 8.23 miles of elliptical work to my running will help with the aerobic capacity building – well at least that is the hope.

Overall, a good day of getting chores done and getting in my aerobic conditioning. However, if this weather keeps up, it is going to be a loooonnnngggg winter and all too much time spent on indoor stuff and not enough time on outside fun. Who knows I might just get the snowshoes out and bundle up a bit for some fun in the sun – even if it is forecast to be subzero temps.

Running Form – Sometimes Things Are Not the Way You Think

I have been reading or re-reading a bunch of books on running lately:

  • Chi Running – Danny Dreyer
  • Natural Running – Danny Abshire
  • Your Best Stride – Jonathan Beverly
  • Master The Art of Running – Malcolm Balk
  • 80/20 Running – Matt Fitzgerald
  • Run – Matt Fitzgerald

Trying to figure out this running thing a bit more and finding out that I like reading them on the iPad than hardcover or on other electronic formats. I think that I have read more books since I started using the iPad than I have in a long time. Oh well, that is a different post, come Harold – get focused back on this running stuff.

Anyways, the other night I was re-reading Master The Art of Running and came across the below:

Which got me to thinking about how much my form has changed since I started using Chi Running back in mid October. It really feels as if I have made a LOT of progress on changing some of how I run.

At least that is what I believed.

Well, today I asked the trainer at Planet Fitness to video me in slow motion to see how much I had actually changed my running style.

I ran at various speeds (6.5 to 9.3 mph and then slowed back down again), because I believed that your form changes as you change speeds. I didn’t try to force things and just let myself run – I figured that would be the best way to see how much of the Chi Running stuff I have incorporated into my running.

  • Align Posture – not really
  • Slight lean – nope
  • Midfoot landing – nope
  • Landing under hips – nope
  • Lifting foot – nope
  • Arms 90* angle – maybe
  • Running everything going forward – nope
  • Cadence 170-180 — 175 spm

Saying that I was shocked at what I saw when I watched the video for the first time would be an understatement. I have watched it several more times since then and each time I can believe how little my running mechanics have changed.

The strange thing is that I felt really good running during this video, nothing hurt, I felt smooth, in control even at the 9.3 mph speed. I thought I was running with a much more of midfoot landing and was leaning into the run. I guess I had a classic case of Faulty Sensory Awareness and wishful thinking that I had actually improved my running form.

I found this old video from 2013 and except that it is not in slow motion, the form is basically identical – no changes. If anything my form now is worse than it was then. Needless to say I am disappointed, but after reading Your Best Stride (before I did the video), I was not as surprised as I would have been before I read that book.

It seems that I have not made a whole helluva lot of progress on improving my stride in over four years.

Well, I don’t have a lot of answers and the video only raises more questions about my running and how I do it.

I have a sneaking suspicion that my stopping running with Bennie was more of the solution than “improving” my running form with the Chi Running program. Which I had a sneaking suspicion might be the case, when I wrote my end of year reflection.

Now to keep moving forward. I have a feeling that Finding Your Best Stride might become the book I refer to more as a reference for improving my running – it seems to be where my body is taking me. Which is okay, after reading and re-reading it again many of the things that the author discusses or recommends makes a great deal of sense to me.

Which means not so much starting over, because Chi Running does a good job of recommending many of the same positive running form features, but more going on slightly different path that better fits who I am and where I am with my running.

It seems that I have a bad case of Faulty Sensory Awareness – oh well that is pretty minor in the overall scheme of things.

Still Treadmillin – RunLog 12-29-17

Not much has changed up heah, it is still damn frosty 0*F was the high temp of the day in the yard. We started the morning out at -19*F and then it warmed up a bit. It is really tough to get up the old gumption to do a whole helluva lot outside when it is those kind of temps.

Even Bennie is thinking that this going outside naked stuff might need to change. I have a feeling that tomorrow, I might even try to put an old doggie coat on him and see if he moves at all. He hates things on his back and refuses to go anywhere when wearing something – he likes being naked.

Which meant another day on the treadmill.

It really isn’t that bad and beats having to bundle up so nothing is exposed, not wear my glasses (they fog up), put on my screw shoes (the road is iced over and will not melt) and then go enjoy the great outdoors. Instead I got on the treadmill in shorts and t-shirt for a nice easy pace and kept it there for 4.0 miles. Although if you look at the Strava pace graph you would think I was all over the place. So nothing special happened on the run.

Just puttin miles in.

What I am finding is that I really, really like the Newton Gravity 3’s. They are comfortable, don’t bother my feet and I can run well in them.

The colorway is really a Harold color and to say that I like it would be an understatement. There is an identical pair in the closet today (they arrived this afternoon) and when these wear out, I will be have another pair just like them ready to go.

I did have Tyler the trainer at Planet Fitness video me in slow motion on my iPhone and it really was not what I was expecting to see after working for a couple of months on improving my running with the Chi Running program. Disappointing to say the least, but I have a separate post planned for that. The video was enlightening to say the least.

Below is a screenshot from that video and just in that one photo my footwork is exposed. The right arm was increasing the speed at that point.

Later in the day I did 5.0 miles on the elliptical, just going easy and enjoying “treadmill TV” and I got to run on a “trail” video. They do help, now if I could place my iPad such on the treadmills at Planet Fitness so that I am not dropping my head down to watch it while I run, that would be cool. However, I see me putting in a lot of miles on the elliptical in 2018, since the old body doesn’t do as well with the higher volume that goes along with training for what I would like to do going forward as an old fart.

Gotta be smart too.

Other than that I will just keep whinin about the damn cold and keep running on the treadmill until it gets back in the 20’s. Although, I am getting antsy to run outside again – maybe I will “dress-up” a bit and do 3-4 miles outside this weekend. I know how to run in this kind of and it is more a bit of mind over matter, if I don’t mind, it won’t matter.

Faster, Acupuncture, Damned Cold – RunLog 12-28-17

I will not say that it is cold outside, instead I WILL SAY it is damned cold. We woke up to -16*F without including the windchill and by the time Bennie and I headed out the door, it had warmed up to -15*F. It is pretty bad when you have to dress up as if you are going on an Arctic expedition, just to take your dog outside to do his business.

Needless to say, it didn’t take Bennie very long on any of his walks today. The high at the house turned out to be -1*F, with some nasty wind chills.

The worst part of it all – tonight will be even colder and looking at the extended forecast – well there ain’t too many 20*F days being forecast for the next 10 days.

Which means that me and the Planet Fitness treadmills are getting to know one another quite well.

Yeah, for some reason I didn’t run outside today and once I stepped on the treadmill, I decided that it might even be a good time to rock a faster run. Today was scheduled to be a shorter workout and I haven’t really been doing anything all that fast lately, so it was a good test of where I am.

I put the treadmill on 7.6 mph and just ran. No music, no TV, no real distractions, I just focused on keeping a comfortable stride, feet moving ahead (not sideways), running tall – with a bit of a lean (until I started to get tired and wanged my hand off the bloody heart rate grip). That frigging hurt like a you know what. I shook it out and then went back to it, but I did notice that I held my hands a bit higher after that.

When I got to 2.0 miles I started increasing the speed and since I was feeling froggy or was that foggy, I did a pretty good kick at the end. I got a lot closer to 23:00 than I thought I could, but I always do better on the treadmill and I also know that I am not in sub 23:00 minute shape for the 5K. I will be, not definitely am not yet.

It was my fastest workout in a while and the best part is that I didn’t have any problems finishing it. Although I do have to readjust the calibration on the watch, I have been playing around with it since I changed the footpod to the Gravity 3’s. Yesterday’s 80% was too high and today’s 75% too low, so I have set it for 78% and will see where it lands tomorrow.

Since in all likelihood I will be on the treadmill for the foreseeable future.

Acupuncture

Yes, I had an appointment to do, have done to me, or whatever to hell you call it when a professional jabs you with needles in specific areas to help things that go ouchie way too much hopefully go away. Me the guy who passes out when they draw blood or give shots. Imagine that – voluntarily allowing someone to jab me with needles.

MMMM Harold that is going way outside of your comfort zone!!!

Yep, but at the same time it is something that I have always wanted to try, even as scared of needles as I am. I was given the opportunity and I told myself you will regret it if you pass it up. So there I was laying on my back being used as a human pin cushion. 🙂

I don’t think I opened my eyes once during the session and I asked the practitioner to not show me the needles before we started. I trusted that the person knew what the hell they were doing with needles, I didn’t want or need to see them before or after I got stuck by them.

It didn’t hurt, I didn’t pass out, throw-up or anything.

I made it through the session in one piece.

After getting all the needles in place, it was kind of weird, some the feelings and subtle twitches my body made. I know at one point when the practitioner was doing a little adjustment on my right lower back, while the needles were in place, that I teared up and felt something release. It didn’t hurt or anything, but something happened. “They” say that the body retains stuff and it can come out at odd times, this might have been an example of what “they” were talking about.

I really am not sure what Acupuncture actually does, (yeah, I have read about some of the theories), but I know that I felt tired after finishing. It was a deep tired, not just because I had just finished running a good 3.0 miler, it was beyond that. Almost as though I had…hell I can’t put into words what I am trying to say, other than it felt as though I had a long and deep conversation with myself and needed to rest a bit after it was over.

Surprisingly, I wasn’t scared off by the needles and I made another appointment for next week. It will be interesting to see how I feel going forward and how my body reacts to a second session. Oh yeah, got the leg length balanced out a bit too, so that might help out with other stuff.

Overall, a good, but cold day, where I purposely went outside of my comfort zone – this time for a good reason.

Changing the Comfort Zone in 2017

Yes, this is a bit of a long and convoluted end of year reflection. Knowing all that, I am not going to say that I will be sad to see 2017, finally be over. 2017 was the year of leaving my comfort zone, grieving for the loss of a loved one and changing my perspective on what I want from life going forward.

My blog is primarily a running blog, but so much of what happened during 2017 impacted my running that I decided to just go with the words that came to me during the writing process for this post. So while this might be a 4,000 plus word essay and not always in the order you expect, it captures my year in running and beyond.

Get a glass of something good, take your shoes off, find a nice place to relax and take a bit to read on about my 2017.

So What Happened in 2017?

I did make it to my 60th birthday, which is a good thing, plus Mary hasn’t hurt me too badly over my running shoe obsession and our relationship has grown stronger than ever over the course of the year.

It had to.

Work

2017 started off fairly routine. I was working almost full-time hours a week in a job that was supposed to be a part-time 25-29 hour a week part-time position as an Administrative Assistant. What I was really doing was proctoring exams and being part a team that worked great together. The work itself was fairly repetitive and routine (except for finals week), but I got to interact with students and faculty, which was for the most part was pretty decent.

I was working the 11-7 shift, which I hated, but sometimes it is who you are working with that matters more than what or when. That was the case with me working at UCLS, I liked the people I worked with a lot and I felt that what I was doing mattered, so I stuck around.

So my professional life was pretty good and I still had time to run in the mornings and/or at lunch.

Running was okay, but…

Unfortunately, I was focused on finding that magical pair of running shoes that would solve all my woes and still blaming my injury problems on running shoe fit or style. When in fact it was a combination of things beyond a what a pair of running shoes would do. More on that later.

I attempted to change things up a little in April/May by tracking my running only by time and not worry about mileage by moving away from the GPS world and using my trusty old Timex. I thought that only using the time would let me relax a little about my running. Unfortunately, I didn’t like it and while it had some advantages, I have logged my running by mileage for too many years. I went back to tracking by mileage and re-created the routes and got a close-enough mileage for that month and half.

Being able to use GPS to track my mileage, really has been a game-changer and allows me the freedom to explore, when in the past I would stick to known routes more because I knew the mileage than any other reason. I did move away from my FR35 with a heart rate monitor, I found that it bothered my sleep too much. For some reason, if I shifted my wrist just right it would flash that beam of light into my eyes and wake me up. Not a good thing. Mary’s Fitbit did the same thing to her, so we both got rid of the watches with Heart Rate monitors.

I moved on to a FR230, which does every thing that I want from a Smart Watch and she went back to the Timex and is very happy.

Actually, most of the spring and summer, I was finding that running longer than 3-4 miles (mostly with Bennie), was beginning to be more and more painful. Whenever I ran longer than that and often when I ran less, by the time I finished running, my feet, Achilles, hamstrings and hips bothered so much that I wondered all too often to myself, if it was actually worth running anymore.

Of course I minimized everything and made my running sound a lot better than it actually was. I was attempting to keep running and believed if I stopped and admitted how much the old body was actually hurting that I might — well…

I had a lot to think about with my running – mostly whether it was getting the point of needing to find another activity.

Yeah, it was that bad.

Other than working, running with Bennie, working around the house and doing a few things with Mary, life was going along pleasantly and a mostly mundane way.

Yeah, life had gotten into a pretty nice routine during the week: do Bennie’s 1.0 mile walk first thing, go for a 3-5 mile run with Bennie, eat lunch, go to work for 11:00 AM, run at work for my supper break, get home sometime between 7:30-8:30 PM, eat supper, go to bed – repeat. It was like that most weeks leading up to the summer, when I would be able to go on a day shift until the Fall semester started. I was looking forward to being on days for a while.

June 2, 2017

Life as we knew it changed on June 2nd.

I was at the first part of Facilitator Training in Augusta that Friday and I got a call from Mary just after noon, telling me that her brother Phil had died suddenly the day before. In shock, I rushed home, found out more and by 5:00 PM that afternoon we were in New Hampshire at the funeral home figuring out what happens next.

That next month was/is a blur, between figuring out the funeral arrangements, getting Mary’s sister here from Arkansas, to assessing what needed to be done with Phil’s house and the family camp, plus going through the Probate process was a very stressful time. Especially, since we all were still in shock over Phil’s sudden death.

One of the memories that will always stay with me during that week, was when I was driving back to Lancaster for Phil’s funeral and I stopped to get gas. I couldn’t get the card reader to read my debit card. What was actually happening – I couldn’t figure out that I needed to pull the card out for it to be read. My brain just couldn’t process what I had to do. I have only been using cards and card readers at the pump, since they came out, so it wasn’t something that was new to me. It was the grief, short circuiting the brain. I drove off in frustration without getting any gas.

I drove down the road a few miles and realized what happened. I did pull in get gas in the next town, but even then I had some issues with the card reader – my hand was shaking so bad that I had a hard time putting the card in. After having so many issues with something as routine as getting gas, I pulled over and at that point let out some of my emotions.

It was my breaking point. You can only remain strong for so long and then you have to release the emotions.

Only Bennie was riding with me and I am not one to reveal too many of my emotions in public or around others, but it was necessary and a part of my grieving process that day.

I did it privately, but I did it.

Cleaning and Repairs

I will not say that Phil was a hoarder, but…he sure was a heavy-duty pack rat. Everything had a place, but there was just so much of it and most of “those” places were pretty damn full. There was so much “stuff” that needed to be gone through, thrown out, sold, or given away to charity.

At the house the deck, furnace/heating systems, plumbing and roof needed to be and were professionally repaired (beyond my basic meatball skills). Plus there was lots of general cleaning that had to be done, before we could even think about selling the properties as part of the estate. Camp was more of the same, but there wasn’t a lot that was salvageable.

If I don’t make any other suggestion to anyone, I make this one – get a Will done or have it updated. Not so much for your peace of mind, but for the ones left behind when you die. A Will does make things easier for them and at that point that is what matters. They have enough on their minds without all the legal beagle crap having to be dealt with because you didn’t have a Will prepared/updated.

Getting down to the nitty gritty of how someone else lives their life and attempting to clean or remove “their” stuff is not always pleasant – they simply did not live their life the way you do yours. However, it did make us take a long look around our own house and we have begun the process of eliminating many things that are unnecessary parts of our lives now.

We will NEVER leave anyone with the kind of stuff that we had to deal with over there.

Needless to say it was a LOT of work.

Often we would work two to three days in New Hampshire in the house, while attempting to get the house ready to be sold – yeah, time and more than a little bit of money out of our pocket to get things done. It took us (with a lot of help from others), pretty much from June until October to finish the cleaning, sorting and repairs. There were several weeks during last summer where we were in New Hampshire more than we were home in Maine.

Having to go and physically check on the properties at least once a week, then spend the night in the house was especially tough on us both mentally and physically. We would just start to accept or move beyond certain points in the grieving process (it is a process), then it seemed that to me every time we were in New Hampshire, it just re-opened wounds that were just beginning to heal and we did that for almost six months.

It was tough.

However in October the camp sale went through and then in December the house sold. Selling both the properties did provide us with some closure on something that affected us to our cores.

We no longer had to go over to NH once a week, worry about the house there, when we were three hours away in Maine, especially with a pretty brutal winter predicted to look forward to. That idea was always in the back of our minds that we might have to pickup and leave suddenly for New Hampshire, without warning to “fix” something over there is gone.

Speaking for myself, I am tired in body and spirit, and need some down time to recover and finish the grieving process for Phil, without the continually re-opening something each time we had to return to his home. It was a tough time for me. I may attempt to pass myself off as a tough old coot, but it ain’t who I really am.

Katie and Family Visited

Luckily for me, my Katie and her family had been planning to visit Maine in June and they did. Which gave me a little respite from the grieving process in the middle of June. I got to see the grandchildren and Nathan (my son-in-law). Who I am extremely proud of the father and husband he has become. I got to see some of Acadia for the first time in a long time.

I also got to see Katie and got to know the grown-up woman and mother she has become. All good things. They live in Minnesota, so I don’t get to see a lot of them, but we do use technology to keep in touch. I will say that having the grandkids around for a week was fun, but they sure as hell could wear me out most days – but it was still fun! 🙂

Re-retiring Again

With all the stuff that was going on with Phil’s estate and looking at the amount of work ahead of us to clean, fix, and maintain properties in New Hampshire, helping SD2 with the maintenance of her house which was up for sale, in addition to keeping things reasonable at home. We decided that I needed to resign from my job at UCLS to focus on our personal lives and taking care of one another. His death had left a big void in both of our lives and definitely made us look at things very differently and changed our perspective and priorities.

So on June 30th, I left UCLS and retired again.

Thank you to everyone at UMA, who I was lucky enough to work with over the last two years. Heidi and Brenda you are both amazing people to work for and with – it was a pleasure. Helene, your photo is not here, but you kept me sane and/or at least gave me someone to whine to about things we had no control over. 🙂

Looking back with 20/20 hindsight retiring again was the correct choice and honestly the only choice that made sense.

Other Stuff

During October, SD2 was finally able to sell her house. So in addition to our Lancaster stuff, we had to help prepare for that. It was just another thing that added to the general stress level around the house as we needed to get things done there as well. It was something we had all been waiting for, so it was a good thing. However, the garage looks a LOT fuller, with most of her stuff in there for storage. Going from a house to a 1 bedroom apartment means a lot of stuff doesn’t fit and needed a place to be kept – our garage.

I foresee completely taking everything out of the garage at some point next summer and not a lot of “stuff” will go back in.

Jeremiah

We did take in Phil’s cat Jeremiah, after things settled down a bit in July. At first, we wondered if we had done the correct thing or not and had wounds to prove it. However, after a while things settled down and Jeremiah became a part of our family. Unfortunately, he had too many other medical issues and died in August. Which caused another flood of emotions, but we gave him a good home for the time he was with us.

Back to Running

This was the year that I turned 60 in August, a pretty big milestone in my opinion and at the start of 2017 I had some secret goals in mind for once I had that 60th birthday. Like running in several races to see how a newly minted age grouper could do, compared to that 50-year-old guy I had been.

Unfortunately, I only raced twice in 2017 and haven’t ran in a race yet as a 60-year- old.

My head and heart were just not into it after June and before that my body was betraying me.

I will run in a few more races next year – that I already know.

However, I continued to use running to keep me grounded and my head reasonably clear during the summer. Despite the aches and pains that were accumulating – I needed to run.

Unfortunately, the number of small niggles kept progressing to being more than little bothers. Yeah, I think working on the house and camp took its toll on my old body too, my days as a carpenter and general laborer are well behind me. When you added in so many 3 hour trips driving over or back from Lancaster, everything finally caught up with me.

After working at Phil’s house for over a week at the end of August, into September, my body finally started to really break down. During last part of September into October, I didn’t run much at all and figured that I needed to make some changes with my running if I wanted to keep running going forward.

That and eating more at McDonalds in the last six months than I probably have in the last 17 years. Not a diet change I recommend to anyone, but it was the most convenient way to get a quick meal and the timing was right for those necessary bathroom breaks, while doing a LOT of travelling

Cha Cha Changes

The biggest change is that I no longer run with Bennie.

It sucks, because we both love running together. Unfortunately for me, Bennie loves to run fast (a lot faster than I can run), which I found was one of the causes for me always having a niggle here or there.

Stop and think what doing speed work (Intervals) would do to your body, plus a spastic dog constantly pulling on a padded belt around your waist – wanting to go faster or suddenly stopping for whatever reason. What if you did them almost every day for months on end. My body couldn’t keep doing it. The final straw came in September when he zigged and I didn’t, which result in me hurting my right hip. That was the thing that finally shut me down from running for quite a while.

So no more running with Bean, now we just do lots of walking together. I think he is fine with it, because very seldom does he even try to run. Although, I know with that big heart of his, he would if I asked him to.

Also my running form has sucked for years and I needed to really look at things I could do to improve my running form/efficiency/technique. I remembered back in 2012 getting the Chi Running book for Christmas and reading it. Back then I attempted to use the program half-heartedly for a month or so and then moved on. However, I did remember some things from the book and after looking a few other running improvement programs over, decided to go with it.

I will not say that the Chi Running program “fixed” me or that running suddenly became effortless. It did not.

However, I have a feeling that my feeling better physically about my running has more to do with not running with Bennie than any improvement in my form or mechanics (which have improved, but not as drastically as the end results would lead you to believe), though I do believe it has helped me focus more on what I should be doing. Now to just do it more consistently.

While most of my Chi Running experiences have been positive, I have feeling that some things won’t make the final cut and will not be a part of Harold’s running going forward. It is more a one size fits all program and there are some things that don’t fit the direction I want to go. However, I would recommend that any runner who has a lot of injuries give it a go and see how it works for them.

Running Shoes

No end of year summary would be complete without me talking about running shoes. What else is new, I ran in too damn many, at least 24 pair of running shoes.

My running shoe of the year was a total surprise.

…the Newton Kismet 2.

I got them as a lark from LeftLane Sports (at a price I couldn’t resist) and when I tried them on, they just felt “right”. After that I didn’t want to wear much of anything else and for almost 2 months they were just about the only shoes I wore (for running or anything else that didn’t involve yard work). They were that comfortable.

However, like all good things, they were starting to show wear after being worn like that and I had to include a few more shoes in the rotation to keep them going for a while longer.

As I end the year my running shoe rotation looks a lot like this:

• Newton Kismet 2 – Wear them for most everything and if I am unsure of what to wear on a run, these find their way to my feet.

• Newton Gravity 5 – It took a little to get used to the POP1 versus POP2 and they are getting to be pretty comfortable, I will be using them for most of my outside runs, when I get to run outside.

• Newton Gravity 3 – I have added them to the rotation as my primary treadmill shoes. I have a feeling they will also be my race day running shoes of choice, when I start racing again (if the roads are clear). Shhhhhh after 2 runs in the Gravity 3, I ordered another pair with the Amazon gift cards I got for Christmas – yeah, I liked them that much. I will put them up in the closet and bring them out after the 5’s give up the ghost.

• Under Armour Speed Tire Ascent – Great so far for crappy weather walking and wearing, that double as my hiking shoes. I have a feeling that they will be getting some run time too as the weather turns nastier and down-back gets even worse than it is now.

Vehicles

We got rid of the Maxima, it was starting to show its age and after a long excursion down towards Rockland, I kind of figured out that it was time for it to find a new home. Mary and I had been sort of talking about looking a conversion van or something that we could use as a daily driver and still quickly convert it for use as a camper.

On a lark one evening we stopped at the local Ford dealership and after going into sticker shock and talking about what we really wanted from our next vehicle. We looked at a bunch of SUV’s, that just didn’t seem right, when saw the Ford Transit, we were intrigued. In the end we bought a new to us 2013 Ford Transit Connect, which is a front-wheel drive, pretty versatile, but smaller van.

No, we are not whacked in the head and we both like the looks (it is different), but we talked a lot during those many 3 hours trips to or from Lancaster. Next year we want to travel a bit, see some of the Country that we have not seen before. The Transit has been named Clifford and is one of the easiest vehicles to find in a parking lot that I have ever had.

That was the big reason for getting the Transit, it has a little more room, it is comfortable to drive longer distances in, gets over 30 mpg on the highway and with a little work, we can make it suitable for sleeping in. So we will see how that goes. Traveling will take us out of our comfort zone by quite a bit – we are basically homebodies.

The Ford Ranger, just keeps on going with minor repairs being needed from time-to-time. I really do not know what we would have done without it this summer. It did a Yeoman’s duty in carrying us safely back and forth on so many trips to New Hampshire, especially in December when the weather was getting nastier on the other side of the mountain. It carried a lot “stuff” over the course of the summer/fall and made several trips to Camp on a road that is tough on any vehicle. Ford tough – yeah, I like my Ford Ranger.

Technology

Technology and how I use it has always been a big thing in my life. This year was no different.

I stuck with WordPress.com as my blog host of choice and changed the name to one that is pretty familiar, just not at this web address.

Aging Runnah.

It fits who and what I am as a runner. So I have tried to keep things pretty simple here and it is my running log first and secondarily a life log/diary, so that I keep track of how I was feeling and what happen instead of having to rely on an often faulty memory. I can look back on that day and have my brain jogged about things that I thought were important enough to write about publicly, although a lot more probably did happen that I did not write about. My life is not that much of an open book for others to know everything that I do or think.

I have done good and stayed away from the third rail subjects by focusing more on what really happened in the life of an old fart versus, what he thinks of the topics that seem to be on everyone’s mind. My blog is my small contribution to the online pollution/proliferation of fact, fiction and fake news. 😉 Sometimes people need to read something other than my way or the highway shit.

Windows/Linux

Also in the spring after one more unwanted shut down, while I was in the middle of a small project by Windows 10, I decided to completely move away from the Windows Operating System. It isn’t that bad and I have used it since the original Windows 1.0. However, there were some privacy issues that concerned me about Win10 and the way the machine would take over and do its thing at times that were less than ideal had pissed me off more than a few times.

I had been playing around with dual-booting a few different Linux Distros and that afternoon – after Windows finally finished updating, I cleared my ASUS laptop of everything Windows. It was a rather drastic solution, but one that had been coming for a while. Over the course of the summer and fall, I played around with, learned a lot about Linux, tried multiple distros to see which one fit me the best.

I kept coming back to the Elementary Linux Distribution and it was eerily similar to how Apple’s MacOS from earlier days had functioned. I liked how it did things, but I got tired of having to play around in the Command Line to get things that I wanted to do – done.

One thing that I did learn was that if you are willing to put a little time and effort into many of the Linux distros, they work quite nicely and will do most everything you want right from the start. Also if you want to customize or change stuff around, there are guides and a very helpful community out there to give you all the assistance you need to get you to where you want to be.

However, in October my ASUS was starting to act up and I had a feeling that at some point (sooner than later), it was going to stop working. So I started thinking about a replacement and what I really needed from my primary computer now that I was retired and not wedded to any particular software or hardware requirements at work. When I was working, I preferred to have my primary computer be similar to what I use at work, just for the familiarity factor.

Apple

About the same time for various reasons, I switched back to the iPhone (my third go-round with IOS) from my Android smart phone. I liked many of the changes that had occurred in IOS and decided after a lot of thinking, reflecting and researching, I thought that moving to an iPad Pro 10.5 seemed like the best solution to my technology needs – as long as it had a keyboard that I could attach. I asked for one for Christmas and my wonderful wife obliged.

It just so happened that the ASUS finally went “pop” at the breakfast table one morning and I couldn’t coax it back to life – one more time. So I had to open my Christmas gift a bit early (the empty boxes were wrapped as a reminder that it was supposed to be a Christmas present) and have been using the iPad Pro 10.5 since as my primary and most of the time only computer.

I have been very pleased with the performance, ease of use, interoperability with my iPhone 7. I was very surprised at how quickly I acclimated to no mouse or trackpad, both things that I thought were indispensable parts of my computing experience. They are not.

At this point I don’t see me going back to a “real” laptop computer. The iPad Pro 10.5 does everything that I really want to do and does it well, plus it is a perfect complement to my iPhone 7 – they work well together. I have come to love the flexibility of the detachable keyboard and being able to just use the iPad for reading or watching something on it, without the keyboard getting in the way.

I can see me moving more and more into the Apple silo, if they keep improving IOS to where the devices that use it, are not seen as auxiliary devices, but as independent computers that are powerful in their own right.

Change is just the way it is in the world of technology and I am an inveterate tinkerer who loves to try new things, sometimes just to stay current, but this time it was to see if something works just a little better for me. I have a feeling that I have found something good in Apple’s iPad Pro 10.5.

The reality is that

The first part of 2017 was pretty routine, I was working at UMA, enjoying things for the most part and then when Phil died, life as we knew it changed.

Re-retiring at the end of June was the only real option, because I would not have been able to give UCLS/UMA the attention to detail, focus or personality that working there required. At some point during the summer I would probably have had a bad moment, had words with someone and walked away under less than cordial circumstances. So leaving when I did, was the right thing to do. I left on a high note.

I know that I wasn’t the same person by the end of the summer that I was at the start of June.

Looking at your own mortality changes what you think is important. I do believe that I now have a lot less tolerance or patience for stupid is as stupid does and really don’t much care what others think of me and how I chose to do things. Which at times probably ain’t the best thing in the workplace where patience and some deference is a necessity. As a retiree, it is almost expected, so I seem to fit that stereotype a bit better than I did the last time I retired.

From June to December we spent a lot of time in New Hampshire making at least a trip a week over there to work on the house and/or camp. The people in the area were for the most part pretty fantastic and helped us, do more than we would have been able to do on our own. We seriously considered moving there…it seemed in the short time that we were there that we had begun friendships with more people there, than we had here in Maine.

Phil’s house was a great little house and we both loved many of its features, but in the end, we decided that it would create too many other issues and that it would be better to stay in Maine and sell the properties in New Hampshire.

Running has gotten better than it has been in a long time and I am hopeful that next year is going to be the best year of running in a while. Especially, since it seems that I have solved some of my wandering eyes for new running shoes and am focusing more on running more efficiently than I have in the past.

There is a lot left out, because…well you all don’t need to hear or know everything there is to know about me and my personal life. Plus, I didn’t want to make this any longer than it already is – that small book thing. So 2017 was quite a year and a LOT happened.

Yeah, this was the year of moving outside of my comfort zone and re-looking at what I want from life, in whatever amount of time I have left. Hopefully, Mary and I both have long and fulfilling lives ahead of us, but as we learned this summer with Phil, you never know.

Yes, I plan to live the life l have well, with the love of my life.

Yeah, you too Bennie 😉

Here is to 2018 and may it be a great year in the life.

Storms and First Run Newton Gravity 3 – RunLog 12-26-17

Well it sure has been a busy couple of days!!!

Cleaning up after the ice storm on Sunday was probably one of the hardest workouts I have done this year. Needless to say the road conditions and the amount of energy expended meant no running.

Oh yeah yesterday was Christmas.

I hope everyone had a Merry Christmas and that you celebrated in style. We a nice lunch and SD2 brought her two cats over from her apartment to spend a couple of nights. Actually, all the critters got along quite well, although Elliott, kept wanting to entertain the two ladies that were visiting. Bennie – he just wanted to eat their food. 🙂

Yesterday, was Christmas – and we got had blizzard conditions and 12-14 inches of the white stuff when it was said and done.

The snow plow got the mailbox again and while we were out cleaning up he went by. While he was getting ready to do the circle, I caught up with him and I let him know that I wasn’t all that happy about it and got exactly what I expected back…blah, blah, blah, well there was a lot of snow, I can’t be held responsible if your mailbox goes down, etc. I know all that but this new guy seems to have it in for mailboxes and after almost every storm there are a bunch of them that he clips.

Yes, I know that they have a damn tough job and I wouldn’t want it for all the tea in China. I used to run the wing on a plow truck for my dad back when he worked for the Town of Newport, so I know that mailboxes are going to go down. However, you could see where he went deep into the side, using my mailbox as a nice guide post coming off the corner and then after he knocked it down, he moved over to the left a foot or so to avoid the neighbors.

I fixed the mail box with a couple of six foot metal fence posts on each side of the mailbox and put three drywall screws to hold the post in place. I will also if a get a chance before the next storm put a brace in the ground to make it more difficult for the “snow” to knock the mailbox over.

I got the impression the driver wasn’t too happy with me calling him out on hitting the mailbox and I expect that my mailbox is going to be a target going forward. However, it was worth it. He knows I am going to call him on it and if it gets too bad, I will take it to his boss or the Town Manager. Either way, next spring I will be putting up a plow proof mail box system.

There venting done.

The cleanup from the Christmas Day “blizzard” just took a long time because there was so much white stuff to move. Another of those having to go over the drive way three times just to get the snow out. So that was another day of not needing to run, although with the amount of “stuff” that I ate, I probably should have. 🙂

First run in the Newton Gravity 3

Yeah, I know they are up to the 6, but Bennie ordered these as a Christmas present back in October and before I got the 5’s. I loved the bright yellow and red color combo and well they were a pretty damn good present. I also got to run in them on the treadmill today.

They felt comfortable, although they did seem to make my feet a bit more tired than other shoes on the treadmill. Which is part of getting used to the design and the POP1 versus the POP2 of the Kismet 2’s that I am more used to. At about 3.5 half miles the feet started to warm-up (not in a good way), but I was only planning on 4.0 and when I got up to speed for the last quarter. They stopped bothering and had very good manners.

There are some differences in feel between the 3’s and 5’s, especially when it comes to the weight. Maybe more on that some other time. Otherwise both are comfortable and will be used a lot for running going forward.

A good Christmas and a lot moving nasty white stuff around. Unfortunately, the temps are going to be sub zero for the next five to six days, which means I will get to know the Gravity 3’s pretty well.