2015 – 2018 – Life is Good

As we get closer to the end of this series of running highlights over my lifetime – that have included a few life stories as well, it gets easier, yet at the same time more difficult to tell the stories.

I know/remember things better, but some of the memories are still too fresh for me to have…processed everything through this brain of mine or include other people that may or may not want to be part of this story.

The things that I didn’t include surprised me, but then again it is me you are talking about here :-).

The years 2015 to Now

Way back in 2015 (which does seem like a lifetime ago now), I was running fairly well, weighed about the same as I did back in 1986, but still battling far too many little nicks, niggles, and injuries. It seemed that every time I would just get going well, another “minor” inconvenient ache or pain would pop up. I know the reason now, but back then I could not figure out why.

Other than small issues running, for the most part, was pretty good during these years.

In 2015, we got word that Mary’s work was downsizing and she was part of the downsizing. We were not sure of how things would shake out and wanted to be ready for the worst-case scenario. So I ended up taking a part-time Administrative Specialist position at the University College portion of the University of Maine at Augusta, which turned into a full-time position.

My hours were 3:00 PM to 8:00 PM, which really screwed up my schedule and in turn changed my eating habits. During the first six months back to work, I gained 15 pounds. Too many stops at Annie’s on the way to work, hitting the junk food boxes at work at 5:00 PM in addition to eating my “supper” that I brought with me, then eating the second supper at 9:00 PM and going to bed at 10:00 then getting back up to repeat everything at 6:00 AM or so wasn’t great for the waistline.

This meant that I was tired all the time, getting fat, my running was not nearly as much of a priority and while I liked the people I was working with, the job itself was pretty routine based on my experience. Like they say, it isn’t what you used to do that your bosses care about it is, what you are doing on the job you have been hired for that counts.

I would like to think that I did a pretty good job while I was there and from the responses/reactions I get when I go back for an occasional visit – I think that I did.

During the two years, I was at UMA, I enjoyed the people I worked with and for, figured out that even though there were some advantages to working nights, for the most part, the cons far outweighed the benefits for the way I wanted to live my life. While I sort of looked for a day shift on Campus, when it came right down to it, my comfort level, the flexibility that I enjoyed, and loyalty to those I was working with kept me in the office longer than I probably should have stayed.

Yeah, things were moving along pretty smoothly, and to be honest, I was pretty comfortable working at University College’s Learning Services office…well until…

It All Changed

Then like most things in life, it all changed with a phone call on June 2nd.

Mary’s brother had died on June 1st and that single event changed our lives moving forward.

By the middle of June, we had decided that I needed to go back into retirement, Mary was going to need a lot of help with her brother’s stuff, so I submitted my resignation to UMA effective the end of June 2017.

Over the course of the next six months, we did a LOT of work (cleaning, getting rid of stuff and repairing) the house and family camp that was in his name only, to get them ready for sale.

Through the end of September, we would go to New Hampshire (at least) every week. Actually, looking back we spent nearly as much time there as we did at home and when we were not there we were thinking about all the stuff that needed to be done when we got back there.

Between the work, the worry about how much needed to be done, selling them, and dealing with our grief that was re-intensified every time we had to return to New Hampshire, that by the time we sold the house in December, we both were worn out emotionally and physically.

I know that this event changed my perspective on how I look at many things now and what I want to do going forward in life.

Kept Running

Although I kept running from June to September, it was more in spits and spurts and was dependent more on what was going on in New Hampshire than adhering to any kind of training plan. We were so emotionally and physically spent by the traveling, working on the house, and trying to reconcile ourselves to his being dead, that it really did not leave a lot of energy for running well or consistently.

Finally, towards the end of September the body finally broke down and I did something to my right hip while running with Bennie that put me on the shelf for a while. Which was not what I wanted, but it was what I needed when I look back.

A New Beginning

Getting that injury and not being able to run for an extended period forced me to look at my running.

The first thing was that I figured out that running with Bennie was part of the problem and due to his propensity for Hight Intensity Training every run, which my body just couldn’t do and stay injury-free.

This is not what I wanted to learn, but I had a feeling that was part of why I was getting a constant accumulation of nicks and niggles all the time, along with the occasional more serious injury along the way.

Unsurprisingly and in many ways, unfortunately, I was correct.

Since I stopped running with Bennie, the niggles have been few and far between, with no serious downtime due to something getting strained/pulled or whatever while running with Bean. So going forward, no serious or consistent running with him other than an occasional little something or other. Too bad, but the old body just couldn’t keep up with a spastic Jack Russell Terrier named Bennie Bean.

Yep, I knew that my running form sucked big time, but figured there wasn’t a lot I could do about it. Then I got to thinking about all the different running form change programs out there (Pose, Natural Running, Chi Running, and so many others that to list them would be a post in and of itself).

I had tried the Chi Running method for a while in 2012/2013 and given up due to how restrictive it was as far as there is just that way to run. However, after looking at all the different programs again, it seemed like it was the best one for me at the time and jumped aboard the Chi Running bandwagon.

I used it pretty much exclusively from mid-October to about Christmas and it helped nurse me back to running pain-free. However, the good thing was that Chi Running forced me to focus on my running form and gave me strategies to use that I am still working on like:

  • Getting all the body parts moving forward
  • Arm swing not crossing over the center-line
  • Running tall with a slight lean
  • And a bunch of other running form-related – stuff 😉

All things that most coaches and “experts” agree are good running form.

However, there were some things that I couldn’t wrap my head around and so I continued to search for a method that was closer to what I was looking for to help me stay focused on improving my running form, but not be as restrictive in the methodology of getting to the one true running form – of which there is none.

I know that I have a lot of work to still do on my running form, but at least now from reading and watching all those videos, I have an idea of the direction that I need to go to improve MY running form. I will never have the perfect running form that you see in professional runners, but I can make mine more efficient and would like to think that I have made a few incremental changes.

Running Shoes

No post would be totally complete without discussing running shoes for a minute.

Over the past 5-6 years, I have been searching for those elusive magic running shoes that will allow me to run well and comfortably at the distances I typically run. I have come close a couple of times, but something always seems to happen at some point where either my body changes something or the brand changes the shoe to the point where it no longer works for me.

This past October, I thought that I had found a decent pair of running shoes that would do just that when I went up to Bangor and paid full price for a pair of Hoka Bondi 5’s. However, at about the same time on a whim, I had ordered a pair of Newton Kismet 2’s at a price point that I couldn’t say no to.

When I got to running and walking around in them I was in for a big surprise. The Kismet’s were positively the most comfortable shoes I have run in for a long time and the Bondi 5’s paled in direct comparison. Since then I have run pretty much in just Newton Running shoes and have been very pleased with how well my feet feel.

We will see how Newton’s do when I start ramping up the mileage outside once the weather gets better. However, I am more hopeful about them than I have been about my running shoes in a long time.

See I kept it short and sweet about my running shoe “problem”. Hehehee

The reality is

That the last couple of years have been good years, with a really tough six month period in 2017 thrown in. While I kept running during this time it was not the same priority it was in past years, but while working at UMA, I got to meet a lot of great people who I hope to keep in touch with for a long time.

Losing Phil was tough and caused us to really look at what we want from life going forward and also how we will leave our “stuff” for someone else to take care of when we finally do leave this little blue marble. It will not be a big mess and we are working hard to get rid of anything that is just “stuff”.

I have a feeling that running, getting back to my pre-work weight, and living my life well going forward is going to be my priorities over the next few months/years.

It should be an interesting journey and one that I am looking forward to with my partner in crime. 🙂

Yeah, Life is Good.

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