Newton Gravity 3 – 50 Mile Review

Another discontinued/closeout running shoe to review. It seems that is about all that I do these days when it comes to reviewing shoes.

The Newton Gravity 3, that is correct the 3’s. Now I know that Newton will be coming out with the Gravity 7’s pretty soon, so why am I even bothering to review the Gravity 3’s?

Pretty much because I can.

Plus it gives me a baseline to compare them to a pair of the Gravity 5’s that I am using for clear days outside and for future models of the Gravity that I might get going forward.

MMMM Harold, it is almost as though you are thinking that you might be sticking with the Newton Gravity line.

Nothing is ever forever for me when it comes to running shoes or so it seems, but…

That being said, the Newton Kismet and Gravity lines are working well for me at this time. Maybe it is time to settle down and stick with a brand/models that are actually comfortable and so far have allowed me to “just run”. Instead of constantly searching and believing that the next “great” running shoe is going to be my “great” running shoe also. Doing this would be a pretty novel experience after going through more than 20 shoes a year for the past five years, without repeating a particular model line very often.

So it is a possibility, but if I do it will almost always be a model year or two behind the current edition of Newton Gravity running shoes. I just cannot justify to myself or TheWife the $175.00 price tag that getting the newest and greatest Newton Gravity’s entails – it is not that I am cheap. It is that kind of price tag for a pair of running shoes is a bitter pill for me to gag on.

Getting back to the Gravity 3’s

Disclosure of where/how I got the Gravity 3’s. Bennie ordered them for me for Christmas back in October from Amazon for an amazing price, but insisted that I couldn’t get them out until the big day. By November my Kismet 2’s were starting to show some serious wear, after I wore them for just about everything and I started to make some hints about opening up the G3’s a little early — some people were not that impressed with my efforts. However, to me it made perfectly good sense. There was just something about the Gravity 3’s that seemed “right” and I wanted to get them on my feet sooner than later, after I tried them on when they came in to ensure that the fit was right (they felt good and comfortable from the start).

Fortunately the crisis was averted when D2 got me a pair of Gravity 5’s as an early Christmas gift. Which meant that I couldn’t sweet talk Bennie or TheWife into letting me have the 3’s a bit earlier. So I dealt with not being able to get my feet in the Gravity 3’s by using the Gravity 5’s for outside (they just didn’t woo me like the 3’s did when I tried them on and ran in them) and Bondi 5’s for the treadmill, which didn’t end all that well.

First Run

The first run in the Gravity 3’s went better than I expected. Yes, it was a treadmill run and that is all I have done in them are treadmill runs. Our weather up heah from Christmas on has been a bit frightful – too damn many subzero days, icy roads or blizzard conditions, with very little decent weather for outside running. Plus, I am saving the Gravity 3’s from the mess outside for a while longer – after all I don’t want to dull the bright yellow glow that comes off them.

The G3’s have done well from 3-7 miles at all the speeds that I normally run 6.8 to 9.3 mph (not too much is done at the faster speeds anymore – Iam getting too damn old for a steady diet of that stuff). They do not get in the way of how I run and even protect me from myself when I go into heel striking mode (which I seem to do more than I thought I did). I have the video to prove it.

There were no issues with fit and the quality of the workmanship was definitely better than other shoes I have run in lately – it had better be for the original price point. I only a bit of discomfort from the front lugs (which I expected, since I had run in Newton’s before and knew pretty much what to expect for the first 50 miles. There is a definite difference between POP1 and POP2 and while I had started to run in the 5’s a little before I got the 3’s, I hadn’t completely transitioned over.

The Gravity 3’s are definitely “Harold” shoes. I love the bright yellow with black/red accents. It is definitely bright and no one can say they didn’t see this dumb runner, when I finally take them outside.

Other than that I can’t really say much more about them at 50 miles than…

The G3’s are working well for me.

Well enough that I took my Amazon gift cards and ordered another pair of Gravity 3’s.

I do like them better than the Gravity 5’s so far and I am not sure that it is just the appearance either. The G3’s have a slightly different feel than the G5’s, plus the 5’s weighed almost a full ounce more. Which put them more into the light-weight trainer category, than the 3’s which I consider to be more of a racer/light-weight trainer. It also meant that Newton did make some “other” changes to the 5’s – I just have not worn them enough yet to figure out what the differences are beyond the weight gain and some changes to the upper.

I can’t wait for the weather to clear up a little more, so I can take them outside and see what they do off the treadmill.

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.

IPad Pro 10.5 – More Thoughts

Over the past few weeks I have had the pleasure to learn a lot more about the Apple iPad Pro 10.5 and wanted to share a few of the things that I have found work for me while using it.

It really is a great little computer and just the right size for a tablet – much larger and it would be unwieldy when not attached to a keyboard and any smaller having two apps open at once on the screen would be very hard to use. The 10.5 to 11.0 inch form factor seems about right for a tablet, especially when it has a detachable keyboard which can be used with it. I also know that I would not have been as happy with the 12.9 iPad Pro – it is just too big for what I or how I will use one.

Some of the things that I have learned during my first month with my iPad Pro 10.5:

1. I have to have an external keyboard to do lots of typing.

The other day I screwed up and haven’t ever fully charged my Zagg Bluetooth keyboard and of course while I was at the car dealership, it stopped working. I had planned on doing a blog post while I was there and figured that this would be a great opportunity to use the iPad’s on screen keyboard for more than a line or two.

It didn’t suck nearly as bad as thought it would, but it using the on screen keyboard is not something that I would want to have to use exclusively. One thing I had to change was my right index fingernail was just a touch too long and I kept missing keystrokes with that finger when I touched the screen key using only my fingernail. That got just a tad bit frustrating.

Which meant going and finding a pair of scissors to make it so I could type correctly. Before I cut the fingernail down to size, it caused a lot of misspelled words that I had to go back and correct.

I will definitely keep my Zagg keyboard or something similar over the onboard keyboard – the onboard keyboard doesn’t work all that well for me.

2. Moving exclusively to the Apple software/app silo only, probably will not happen.

I could probably get by with most of Apple’s offerings, but there are apps that seem to work better for me from other brands, which is not what I really expected. However, I want to work with what works best for how I work, so I have chosen a few surprises to keep moving forward.

Email – I will keep my gmail.com email account as my primary account, even though I will use Apple’s mail as the default email app, since it syncs well with iCloud. I just don’t like the .icloud.com identifier as my email provider at this time, it identifies too much what kind of computer equipment/stuff I probably own, while the gmail.com is more generic. Perhaps I am being a bit too paranoid, especially since here I am writing about my experience with Apple’s products on my blog, but sometimes being a little paranoid online is not a bad thing. Maybe down the road I will change my opinion, but for now I will keep using my gmail.com for emails. Although for certain things I can foresee moving more to iCloud.com

Notes – I like Apple’s Notes for the most part, but after all these years of doing things a certain way, I keep finding myself going back to Microsoft OneNote no matter which operating system I am using – when I can. The idea of different Notebooks for different interests is a level of organization that I prefer. I gotta admit that I liked Evernote back in the day, but some of the changes and pricing strategies moved me away from using it.

OneNote does everything that I want from a notes app, although I can’t use it directly in iCloud and I have to use Microsoft’s SkyDrive to sync things. Not really what I want, but if I want to use OneNote, something I will have to deal with.

What will probably happen is that I will initially use Apple Notes to create a note or capture something, think about how much I really need to keep it. Then if I decide that it is something I want to have permanently move the Note to OneNote in the appropriate Notebook. A bit of a convoluted way to do things, but I like both apps for different reasons and I do wish Apple Notes had a Notebook or whatever Apple would call it versus the one big pile of notes without any way to organize them the way I would like.

Photos – This is my biggest complaint right now. Moving my photo library from Google to iCloud and onto my iPad Pro is a mess and damn near impossible to do without a lot of manual input. Which is not how I am going to do things. So unless I find a different solution, I plan to keep what is in Google Photos as my archive for pre iPad Pro (keep adding stuff until I reach my limit), move individual photos to iCloud as I need them and use Apple Photos for my images going forward. Not ideal by any stretch of the imagination and goes against something that I thought Apple was big on – it should just work.

iCloud – I really would like to eventually be able to move all of my online storage to here at some point. However, if I want to use OneNote, I have to use SkyDrive and the issue with moving my archive photos to my iPad/iCloud is a pain in the arse, means I have to keep Google Drive updated as well. It would be nice to have just iCloud, but where I am moving in from other providers, there doesn’t seem to be easy answers to getting my data from them to my iPad/iCloud account. At some point maybe a dongle and SD cards would help?

Productivity – It really doesn’t matter to me which Word Processor, Spreadsheet or Presentation software I use. They all do about the same things, it is just a matter of learning where the commands are hidden more than anything else. Apple’s offerings are more than adequate for what I do now and actually for personal use, I remember how much I preferred Apple’s Numbers spreadsheet to the others, now that I have been back to using it a bit. Plus I don’t see me making any presentations anytime soon.

Calendar/todo – I am not that crazy about Calendar or Reminders, they do enough, but…getting them to do what I want is not always shall we say simple. Subscribing to a different calendar in IOS can be a bit of a chore and getting reminders to be in order by date, well I haven’t figured it out yet, without having to manually move things around. I have been sort of looking at other options, but in the end will probably end up sticking to Apple’s calendar and reminders more because they are the default app than anything else.

Browser – Safari is here by default and for the most part seems to work well enough. Well except on the Garmin Connect and Strava sites, it doesn’t work correctly???? I don’t really think it is Apple’s fault, but…still they are sites I do like to visit every so often (yes, I have attempted to use the Desktop mode). Which means that I have to use Chrome when I want to visit those or some other sites. Plus I do like that I can Chromecast from the iPad too when I use Chrome on certain sites.

Firefox I have it on my iPad Pro because I wanted to see how the “new” Firefox worked. For me it is okay, but nothing about it makes me jump up and use it as my primary browser yet. I will stick with Safari as my primary browser and use Chrome as my back-up until things change. Although I did like the Brave browser when I was on Linux and just realized that it is available for IOS, I will play with it a little going forward.

Music – Let’s be real, I am not a big music guy, I like my collection (mostly older stuff) and have simple wants. A workout playlist and maybe an easy listening one. I am not crazy about the Apple Music app and while it works, it just doesn’t seem all that intuitive to me and iTunes for IOS is more about parting me from my money than anything else.

Getting my music library to my iPad still required me to install iTunes on my wife’s Windows desktop, import my music library and then sync my iPad Pro. Not what I consider ideal either, but it worked, I tried the photo thing, but that didn’t work. For the past few years I have had my music library in Google Music and that is okay, but it is not where I want it to be, but Apple doesn’t really want me to have an pre-existing library outside their silo. At least it seems that way when I want to put something on my iPad Pro, nothing seems very straight-forward, unless it is coming from the Apple silo.

To be honest, despite all of the advertising and free offers from Apple Music, I still tend to listen mostly to Pandora.com in the background when I am working on the iPad and want music. It is simple and I don’t have to screw around with it.

News Aggregator – I can’t quite wrap my head around how to get the app to work for me the way I want to see news stories. Even when I check the dislike box, I still seem to get “Just for you” stories on things I don’t like i.e. Soccer, NFL, Entertainment and so on. I do prefer to get various views on what is going going from liberal to conservative with big city and rural newspapers that have local news too. Maybe my eclectic view on things screws up what they think I want to see.

Yeah, the Apple News app is a strange beast, who’s machine learning or AI doesn’t seem to be working for me all that well. I am tempted to use Google News again, but at the same time, not really wanting to. So I have a bit of a conundrum about which way I want to go for this one.

Split Screen – One thing that I have noticed is that I very seldom use the split screen capability that iPads now enjoy. I tend to work in one app and then switch to another when I need to do something else or use my iPhone as my other screen. About the only time I really use the split screen is putting events from Facebook to calendar (which in my opinion, should be done with a click versus me having to do data entry), but different silos, so I shouldn’t expect them to work easily together or copying my run information data to my running log spreadsheet.

I actually have found that I prefer to only have one app open at a time, it does make me focus and think about what I am doing. However, I do like having the option when I need the split screen for it to be there. The best of both worlds.

The reality is that

My iPad Pro 10.5 takes the place of how I would use a MacBook or other laptop (Windows, Chromebook or Linux) and in just the short time I have had it, I am getting pretty damned comfortable with how it works too.

Even so, there was still a bit of a learning curve, transitioning my muscle memory and wrapping my brain around how the iPad works with IOS. Some things are much more intuitive, while others leave me scratching my head wondering why Apple chose to make things this way. I sort of think that even Apple is learning what users want, with the newer capabilities that the iPad Pro’s bring to the conversation.

Who knows maybe even some of the things that I am whining about now, will not be an issue.

At some point Apple will have to let iPads and IOS stand on their own, as their own computing system and not require them to plug into a “real” computer to do some things that should be easily accomplished on my iPad. I know, not all iPads are iPad Pros, and I know that IOS is designed for the iPhone first and iPads second. As iPhones and iPads become more and more powerful Apple will have to make changes that allow us to use them as our primary and in many cases only computer – not just an auxiliary device.

It was my experience of moving primarily from Google products to only using Apple’s IOS offerings was a bit of challenge and more of a chore than it should have been. Apple doesn’t always make things easy to move your data to their silo from other places and to be honest some of their software/apps are not as good as the other brand’s. I know that is heresy to many Apple fans out there, but from where I sit, it is how I see things.

Luckily, my iPad Pro has enough flexibility in the apps it can use that I can have my cake and eat it too.

Unfortunately, it also means that my computing experience will continue to be a blended approach between Microsoft, Google and Apple, with a few independent choices along the way. Perhaps that is how computing is meant to be, not wedded to any one silo and using what works best for you.

That might be a pretty novel approach. (Did you detect any sarcasm there?)

Either way, I am happy with my iPad Pro 10.5 and my iPhone 7 and yes, I will keep attempting to put more of my “stuff” into the Apple silo.

November 2017 – A Quick Look Back

November was a blur…lately it seems as though every month is a blur and probably will be for a while yet.

My favorite photo this month:

I am back in the Apple silo again. My old ASUS flip laptop finally stopped working and couldn’t be resurrected. Which meant that my Christmas gift suddenly had to be pressed into service – the Apple iPad Pro 10.5 with a Zagg Rugged Messenger Bluetooth keyboard. I will not say it is the best computer I have ever used, but it is a pretty fantastic little device that does just about everything that I want from my computer now. You can read more about it here.

I am getting used to the mobile way of doing things, versus legacy computing. There are differences and they are not better or worse for the most part – just different. However, the one thing that I really thought would bother me, has not been an issue – the lack of a mouse or trackpad. I acclimated quickly to the touch screen, stylus and keyboard shortcuts to move the cursor around.

Lancaster trips are now simply drive over, make sure everything is as it should be, stopping by to talk with people we need to talk with and then driving back – all in the same day. Those trips rather suck, especially now that the weather is starting to get into the wintry mix stuff that really ain’t a lot of fun when driving through the Western Mountains (especially, the Rt. 2 pass just outside of Gotham by Mt. Washington – it get pretty nasty). Hopefully, December brings those long travel days to a close and we can begin the work of really moving on with the rest of our lives and not have the anxiety/worry about what is happening three plus hours away

The biggest pain in the butt during the month was losing power for 5 days and our generator dying (see the photo below with Bennie). Luckily a friend loaned us his generator the last couple of days, which saved the freezer contents and made life a bit more bearable. It did make up our minds about going out and buying a generator, which we had to special order from Home Depot. Our generator is now ready for the next power outage that seems to be occurring more often in our aging electrical infrastructure.

Running Choices

A lot of choices were made in my running during November.

However, the biggest one was to not run with Bennie anymore. More to reduce the number of injuries that I seem to accumulate when I do run with him. Coach Bennie is a big believer in all-out sprinting for interval training and my old body just ain’t up to that task anymore. Which results in parts of me, getting twisted, pulled and torn – which results in too much time away from running.

Bennie doesn’t understand and some days attempts to get me into something more than the walking we now do together. At the same time, a couple of times that I have gotten a little too froggy and attempted to run with him for a short ways – he really wasn’t all that interested either. So I would say it is a combination of both of starting to get a bit long in the tooth. He seems happy enough with walking 2-4 miles a day. Although he does get upset when I leave him at the house to go for my run.

Chi Running Chi Running – Thoughts After a Month is still a large part of my running and I am in the fourth week of the beginners half marathon training plan – half-way through the technique training section. I am not going to say that it is an easy or effortless way to run, but I am running well and don’t have many of the usual aches and pains that I dealt with on a daily basis before I started using it. I am making good progress in some areas and in others, let’s just say I am a work in progress. However, I do think I have made some solid steps forward to running more injury-free.

I am on a big kick to simplify things with my running and as I discussed in my Simplifying My Running After Age 60 post, some things gotta change.

When I put together that mind map (updated above), it showed how convoluted my running had gotten and it also quickly identified a bunch of things that I can do right now to simplify things. So I have streamlined how I log my runs and what tools are being used to do it, which you can read about here.

There will be a few more posts on my progress and attempts get things back under control. It is more that I would add something here or there and never take away something that I replaced, which resulted in duplication of effort or stuff. It was time to step back, look at things and make the choices that needed to be made.

Oh yeah, I did run in November. Actually I ran quite well and mostly pain-free which is such a difference from what I have dealt with over the past couple of years. Where going out the door for a run meant that I just sucked it up and ran on whatever was bothering that day. You will never know how much I dealt with that stuff and am so glad that it seems that I no longer have to.

While I didn’t quite make 100 miles for the month, I was able to get into the 90’s, which meant that I almost tripled my October total.

I still have some cleaning up to do on the spreadsheet’s transition over to Number from Google, but it will get done.

When it came to running shoes, it was basically running in the Newton Kismet 2’s (50 Mile Review) and that’s it. I may have run in something else a few times, but primarily I ran in the Kismet’s because they are comfortable, give me feedback when I am not running with my feet pointing fairly straight forward and my feet do not hurt when I get done. To be blunt – they just work well for me.

Overall, November was a good month for running, making decisions that will simplify life for me a bit going forward. All good things as I keep working on living life the best ways possible :-).

Newton Kismet 2 – 50 Mile Review

Well it has been an interesting month in running shoes. The shoes that I bought at a premium price and thought would be the solution to many of my issues, are not the ones that I will be writing about. Actually they still have under 10 miles on them and are sitting in their box in the closet, with me having no plans of using them for running anytime soon.

No, the shoes that I found have worked the best for me were ones that bought on a whim and wasn’t sure that I would even use them all that much. Instead they have become my go to running shoes and yes, most everything else shoes too.

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They just fit well and are comfortable.

The Newton Kismet 2’s that I bought on closeout from Left Lane Sports for an easy on the wallet price.

They are my 4th pair of Newton’s and without a doubt my favorite pair. I thought when I ordered them that I would use them to tweak my running form, because the front lugs do help me think about how I am running. Continue reading

Why Chi Running?

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Chi Running by Danny Dreyer

This post was one of those that was hard to write, because it forced me to really look at why I have decided to use Chi Running practice to help me run more efficiently.

After all making a commitment to use one program over all the others that are out there is a pretty big deal.

This is the second time that I have decided to use Chi Running, the first time I was not ready to actually give it a realistic chance to succeed and moved on after little more than a month of using it.

Fortunately for me and often unfortunately for my body, the biggest issue that I have, is that I have gotten older over the last five years. I am learning the hard way that my now older body is no longer forgiving of a running form that has multiple issues with its running mechanics.

So in my infinite wisdom, I have decided it is time to fix some as many of those issues with my running mechanics that I can. I going to do this despite recent studies that seem to indicate that runners screwing around with their running form may not have as much success as the programs and their proponents would have us think.

Too Many Options

However, attempting to wade through the myriad of coaches, methods, studies, books, magazines, blogs, websites or programs out there that claim they can improve your running is daunting to say the least.

Once you get beyond all the business models (they are all in the business of selling their version of “proper” running form), marketing hype, vocabulary differences, philosophies, etc., and get down to what all these different businesses are basing their running improvement programs on:

  • improved running posture (run tall, how to hold your arms, running with all parts of the body going in the same direction, etc.)
  • use your core
  • a lean
  • a shorter stride where you land under your hips
  • increased stride rate/cadence
  • increase speed or mileage slowly
  • use a variety of training runs to achieve your goals

The biggest differences seem to be in the process each of these businesses use to take you from your present flawed running form to their “new and improved” running form.

There are many runners and “experts” out there who don’t believe that changing your running form programs work and that the biggest solution to running better was simply to…

“run more”

then you will be a better runner.

Personally, I would love to simply “run more” and my body would probably eventually find its most efficient running form – if I was able to run consistently.

Unfortunately, my problem is that I haven’t been able to run consistently. The most common result of my running more – is to run, get injured, rehab/let things heal and then repeat the cycle, especially over the last five years.

That is the reason I need something that will provide me with more structure and focus on finding that most efficient for me running form versus the hodge-podge mess that I have used and has not worked for me.

Why Chi Running?

From what I have seen all the different methods have their pros/cons and it is up to the consumer (runner/me) to decide which method best meets my present needs and goals.

My reasons for choosing Chi Running are:

  1. Familiarity – I started the program before and have a working knowledge of what is going on.
  2. Philosophy – I like the Eastern philosophy behind Chi Running and while some scoff at the woo factor that it brings to the table, it feels right to me.
  3. Competitiveness – I am finally accepting that I ain’t all that good of a runner, even when I am not injured. At this point in my life, my best running is far behind me, but I still harbor fantasies of racing well – at least in my age group. If I can run consistently, the speed I have left will be there.
  4. Long-Term View – When I was researching which program would be better for me, Danny Dreyer was speaking in an interview I watched and this quote stuck in my head. I may not have captured it perfectly, but this is my interpretation of what he said and it really hit home for me.

    A performance based mindset can’t be sustained indefinitely, sometimes have to let it go and allow things be how they are, which is not always how you think  they are or want them to be.

  5. Journey – As I have gotten older, I have finally begun to realize that sometimes the journey is as important and sometimes more important than reaching the goal itself. What happens along the way often changes who we are and how we do things.

Once I got beyond the marketing hype and into the substance of Chi Running, I found the philosophy and methods best matched the direction I want to go. Running is a part of who I am and is more to me than a physical activity that I do.

I have found that you have to put in the time and effort to improve our running beyond where you are now and it will not happen overnight. There will be failures, head scratching, backsliding, in addition to successes. Any improvements I make in running efficiency will need to be earned and become a part of the runner I am and will be.

A question that Danny Dreyer asked in one of his videos and resonated with me:

What can you learn from your running besides putting your shoes on and going fast?

I think that is the right question for me and one that I want to answer.

The reality is that

I have to believe at age 60 there is a program or system that will help me improve my running mechanics to the point where I can carrying my fat arse down the road, trail or track in the most efficient way possible for many more years.

There are many out there who are making a business out of improving a runner’s form, who are willing to help you achieve their version “perfect” running form – for a price. Chi Running is the form improvement business that appears to be the best fit for me.

However, no program/method/practice will make my running effortless, that it is marketing hype, which is shared by most of the other businesses, I looked at. I chose Chi Running for reasons far beyond the hype and all those great testimonials of how great it is. Although if they didn’t have them you would wonder where they were.

Running is a lot of repetitive work, where you have to get your arse moving and actually do the work to see any improvement or even to simply maintain what you have earned before.

Will I follow Chi Running implicitly without question or change – nope.

I am me and that means that I am not the same as anyone else. There will be times along my journey to that more efficient form that I am searching for, where I will find something else works a bit better for me than what is presented in Chi Running. I will add it to my practice, while incorporating whatever it is into my interpretation of the philosophy or principles of Chi Running.

Through my research I know that Chi Running is not for everyone, but it does seem like a good fit for the kind of runner that I want to be moving forward.

Who knows maybe I will even find some answers to Danny’s question.

What can I learn from my running besides putting my shoes on and going fast?

 

Saucony Guide 9 – 20 Runs Review

A bit of a change in how I decide when to review a pair of running shoes. Since I went away from basing my running on miles and started using time, having a 50 mile review seemed odd. When I thought about it, something that seems a little more accurate for me, is the number of runs that I did in a pair of running shoes.

Twenty runs seems to be a nice round number of times to run in a pair of running shoes. It is typically over 70 miles, but not quite to the 100 mile mark. I feel a little more comfortable reviewing shoes, with this level of experience than I do the lower bar of 50 miles.

Getting back to the review.

Well I have 20 runs in the Saucony Guide 9’s for a total of 12 hours and 30 minutes of running, plus more than a little time walking around in them. So I have a pretty good idea of how they are working for me and I am pretty sure they are broke in fairly well.

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They are dirty, because they have been run in

In my journey into the world EE-width running shoes, I wanted to see if I could expand my options beyond New Balance’s offerings, to another brand that I have always loved – Saucony.

In the past the biggest issue I have had with Saucony shoes has always been the width of the toe box. So it seemed like a great idea to give their EE-width running shoes in my actual size 8.0’s a try. Continue reading

Too Much Going On – Week In Review 4-9-17

Yeah, too damn much going on this week, Dad’s hospital visits, battling some Plantar Faciitis crap and still trying to get a few miles in.

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First and foremost.

Dad is doing okay, he went inpatient to the hospital twice this week, which got everyone a bit stressed out, got a couple of transfusions, stress tested, was told by one doctor that he was just getting old and could go home for the second time (same one who released him too soon the first time), who in turn got told to not to bother ever come back by my sister and after that change treatment improved a lot.

A little excitement, a few chuckles and more than a little worrying about him made for a very long week. However, while he is still weak, he seems to be stable, home and hopefully making progress. Time will tell on this one.

Running Continue reading

Initial Impressions – Saucony Guide 9

Yes, the Guide 10 is out, but as usual I am a day late and a dollar short, so I got the 9’s.

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Why another pair of shoes already Harold, I thought the 860’s were doing great for you?

Ummm the 860’s are fitting my feet perfectly, but they are also a pretty heavy duty motion control shoe and I am pretty certain that the v5’s irritated my left foot PF and running in the v6’s keeps it aggravated, just a bit too firm on the medial post. So although I do love the fit, I don’t believe for running that either of them are the answer and I like to rotate my shoes, so having one pair to run in is not what I prefer.

I have learned that I tend to run a little better with shoes that have some stability features and/or have a wider footprint in the forefoot. While I was very tempted by some of the New Balance and Hoka offerings in EE-width, I decided to go with the Saucony Guide 9’s. Continue reading