Goals for 2018 – How Did I Do?

2018 has been quite a good year for me.

One thing I believe that every runner should do between Christmas and New Year’s is go back and read their running log. It has gems, treasures and a trove of information regarding how you actually ran during the year, versus the one that you tend to play in your head. I know when I went back and read my log this year, it brought back a lot of memories and the why I did things the way I did. Plus with that great 20/20 hindsight that I have I saw several things that if I could do them over, I would do them differently.

How Did I Do?

I really think this photo from Quarry Road says a LOT about 2018.

In 2018 I did update my 40 Years Of Running series an if you interested in reading more about an old fart’s memories you can click on the link.

Needless to say my running has gone better than it has in a long time, especially once I finally figured out that racing is more stress than it was worth. While I ran in way too many running shoes, I learned a lot about what works for me and what does not. Also I read a lot of books on running, tried more than a few philosophies, methods or programs, all in the name of attempting to improve my running. Continue reading

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.

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.

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.

Running in 2011 – The Year of the Knee

The Knee of the Year! 🙂

This is the first time in a long time that I get to recap my running year and it feels good to look back and say that I have run again. However, there was one single thing that dominated my life this year – My Right Knee.

The pain leading up to surgery, recovering from surgery, my eventual return to running and how the knee continues to improve, really has been the one thing that has stolen the show all year-long.

I wish that the year had been more about running and racing than about that damn knee, but that is what 2012 will be about.

January to June 14

When 2011 started it sure as hell didn’t look like I would ever run again and it would be a question of when, not if I needed surgery and how bad the surgery would be – up to and including a possible knee replacement. The first prognosis was that dire. My Ortho had ordered no running when left him in September and I followed that advice – well most of the time.

In spite of the Doctor’s “orders” every so often, when I was out walking Bennie in the mornings, I would try to run a little ways to see if I could or not. I was hoping against hope that some miraculous event had occurred overnight and that my knee would suddenly be healed.

Unfortunately, the answer every time was a resounding NO – it just hurt too much to run and the pain while walking was progressively getting worse. By the end of March I was having such a difficult time just walking that I resorted to walking with a cane. About that time I finally figured out that the surgery would take place sooner and started the process to get it taken care of.

May 17th

This was the day that I dreaded and made the long walk into the Hospital, not knowing what would happen during the scheduled Arthroscopic Exploratory Surgery. At this point we didn’t know what the Surgeon would actually find as I went under I remember squeezing TheWife’s hand.

Fortunately when I came to, TheWife was right there and was smiling. The surgery had been successful and what had gone on was damaged cartilage not degenerative as they had first thought! I would keep my knee for a lot longer! Phew that was a big relief.

Recovery from the surgery, while it wasn’t easy, was not as bad as the pain I had been in for several months before the surgery. I pushed hard and PT told me I was crazy and I agreed, but kept pushing.

I wanted – no needed to run again. The Ortho was rather anti-running and told me not to even try until he saw me later in June.

June 15th to July 14

First Run – I ran a freaking 1/2 mile! I made it without stopping around Howard Circle.

I was a runnah again!

Let me tell you I was scared as hell before that run. I knew that it would hurt. It was stupid, but I had to do it. I had to know if I would be able to run again or not.

Oh yeah I basically retired on June 17th, which has allowed me to focus a lot more on my recovery and return to being a helluva lot more healthy.

The Doc saw me on June 26th and he gave me a ration of crap about starting to run again without his permission. He basically flat-out told me that I shouldn’t ever run again, do so would just re-injure all the work he had done.

I just smiled and told him, I was running and would continue to run. He gave me that look like you dare to disobey my orders that Doctors give you when you basically ignore what they “tell” you to do. That is a whole different rant though.

That is what I did – ignored his “orders” to not run.

My physical therapist was a lot more supportive, being a runner herself, but told me that I would probably at some point that summer have to shut it down to let things heal a bit more and that it would be 9 to 12 months before it would be healed as much as it was going to heal.

For the next month I ran 1-2 miles a day and walked a lot.  Too much it turned out, the knee wasn’t quite ready for what I wanted to do yet. I tried to come back too soon and I didn’t want to damage it in any way.

July 15th to August 15th

Shut it Down time. The more I ran the more the knee started to hurt and swell. I may be stubborn and stoopid, but I do know when to stop and give the body a bit more time to heal up.  During that time I needed to let the knee heal up a little more and did a lot of walking, stretching and band work – only an occasional short run to check things out.

August 15th to October 15th

Started running every other day 1-2 miles. I purposely didn’t wear a watch or keep a log of what I was doing. That way I wouldn’t be competing with myself to do better than the day or week before. It worked. I have no idea of how much or how fast I ran during that period, but I know that the knee started to feel better and I was running. I added a few runs in the log here or there, but not too many.

October 31st

I had run up to 3 miles a day for a couple of weeks and felt good, so I decided to start timing and logging my runs again. The knee wasn’t 100% but it was doing really great, so it was time to go to the next level.

November 5th

I also decided that I was going to keep my running log in a blog, to create a sense of public accountability. So I created “A Veteran Runner” and later changed it to “A Veteran Runnah” in honor of being a native Maineiac, for many of us who do not pronounce “er” at the end of many words and instead have an “ah” sound :-).

November

I ran a lot more than I have in a long time ending up with 82.6 miles for the month with a runs up to 6.0 miles.  I was settling into a 9:00 to 10:00 per mile pace for most runs and was enjoying what I was doing immensely.

After talking with a lot of people I decided that I was going to put my Running Log on my “One Foot In Reality” Blog instead of having a separate running blog. Fairly quickly running related posts took over as the primary focus of “One Foot In Reality” and by the end of November I needed to decide whether to change the focus of “OFIR” to running or use “A Veteran Runnah” for running related blogging.

At the same time I began to get connected with the online Running and Fitness communities on Twitter, Google+ and Facebook. It is a community that I was missing, after having been a part of the #edchat, #spedchat community for so long and the #runchat #fitblog #runnerds #runners all were passionate about running and fitness.

December 1st

I decided 3 days before December began to start using “A Veteran Runnah” as my running blog and had to get it ready to go live in that short amount of time. I figured that my blog stats would take a huge hit as a result of doing that. I really didn’t think AVR would take off like it has, but in the course of a month “A Veteran Runnah” has taken over as my primary blog.

I have even gone to using @VetRunnah as my primary Twitter handle, it just seems right for me and if I have a “Brand” that would be it. Although I have only been posting to “A Veteran Runnah” since December 1st (I did import old running related posts from “OFIR”), it definitely is my most successful blog in that short amount of time.

December 10th

I was selected to be a FitFluential Ambassador, which will give me opportunities to look into other streams of income that were not available to me before. That in addition to meeting a lot of really great people who are passionate about fitness and more than a couple of runners has made being a part of FitFluential a really great experience – Thank you Kelly and Danielle.

December 12th

I made a video of me running and saw how badly my running form sucked (ask me how I really feel about that video). As a result of that video, I really started to focus on correcting my penguin running style that I had developed over the years. As part of this form correction I have read Chi Running and watched a bunch of videos from them, PRS and others on how to improve my form.

Changing something you have done for several years is hard as hell, but I strongly believe that it will be worth it in the end and help to cut the number running related aches/pains and injuries. So that has been a big focus the last 2 weeks of December.

Bad JuJu

I did get caught up in trying a running streak and pushing too far/fast and had to back off a bit in mid December, sometimes I just get caught up in what I think I can do versus what I should be doing :-).

Racing

No I didn’t run any races in 2011, 2010, 2009 or 2008. That will change in 2012.

Final Stats

I knew that I forgot to put something in here.  Here are my final 2011 Stats. The one I am the most proud of is the 26 pounds that I lost – basically since 6/17/11 when I retired.  The other one that jumps out at me was the 100 miles for December, I honestly didn’t think that I would get that many miles until March or April, so I am a lot ahead of schedule.

The reality is that

being able to run again was very important to me. During this forced layoff I discovered that Running is a part of who I am and what I am. When I wasn’t able to run for such a long time because of the knee – I learned how much I really missed it.

I have created a new blog with a focus that I am very passionate about and found a community of wonderfully supportive people who want to help you succeed in your goals and kick you in the ass when you need it.

Yes I made mistakes in my return to running, but at the same time the things I did were more of the testing to see what I could do, versus the stoopid kind where you keep going even after you know you should be stopping.

Looking back

The first part of 2011 was pretty rough, but the last couple of months have been pretty damn good. I am glad that 2011 is ending, because 2012 has so much to look forward to – both in my running and the other parts of my life.

I do want to say thank you and I love you to TheWife, without her support a lot of this year would have been a damn site more difficult.

Looking Back at My 2011 Goals

Every year I go back and see how I did on my previous year goals and the outcomes.

#1  Determine whether or not I want to remain in Special Education as a teacher.

“This is something that I do every summer – take a good long look at the job I am presently in and decide whether or not to stay.  It is very stressful being a Special Educator for a variety of reasons (which I have documented in other blog posts) and I have to determine if that stress is still worth it to me or not. 

I won’t make any rash decisions or anything like that, but I will look at whether I am still enjoying my chosen profession and make my decisions during July of this year.  If I do decide to no longer be a Special Education teacher, I do plan/want to remain in education in some capacity, preferably in Education Technology or some other role.  Time will tell.”

  • This one was pretty easy to measure – I retired. The biggest reasons I left teaching were 1) My health – teaching is a very stressful profession – the stress was negatively affecting my health, 2) teaching is a very jealous mistress with your time and 3) the final straw was that I no longer enjoyed the artificial requirements of standardized testing and Special Education paperwork (CYA more than helpful) – whole books have been written these two things so I won’t get into them.  The bottom line was that teaching stopped being fun and there were not enough “aha” moments to sustain me.

#2  Enjoy writing more at “One Foot In Reality”.  “Writing about what I do for my day job (Special Education) was getting very tedious for me – it was just too much of something. I needed to be able to take off my Special Education hat much more than I was.  Changing my blog’s primary focus to doing reviews on software/web applications is something that I always wanted to do, but in the past always thought “who am I” and there are so many other people out there already doing that, who would want to read what I have to say?  If I don’t do this now, I am not following one of my dreams and giving it a chance to see where it leads me.  I am very passionate about using technology and believe that I have some unique perspectives on how software/web applications are or can be used, so we will see how this change pans out.”

  • “One Foot In Reality” is no longer my primary blog and I found a niche/focus that I really am enjoying – Running. I plan to include some of the technology stuff into “A Veteran Runnah” at times, but my focus and passion as I have discovered is more related to running than technology. I am writing a lot more, just not at “One Foot In Reality”.  I am following my dreams and running/fitness are a part of those dreams.

#3  Prepare for a reduced income over the course of the next couple of years.  “I have a feeling that education is going to go through some tumultuous times over the next few years in the State of Maine and throughout the Country.  I am still at the bottom of all the lists and am probably in a better position weather the storm than some others, but at the same time it doesn’t hurt to learn to live on a reduced income.  This goes well with my last year’s goals of being less materialistic and more self-sufficient.  Hey who knows, maybe I will decide to leave teaching, become a freelance writer and finish writing the book that I have started and stopped so many times.”

  • When I retired in June this one smacked me right upside the head. Going from a pretty decent wage to a small fixed income has meant some major changes in how we do things. We have been relatively modest for many years, and we have no bills other than normal monthly bills, so that was a big help. Now I can’t just go out and buy a new pair of running shoes (as much as I want to try the VFF’s) or the newest running clothes.

I am more willing to try my hand at other revenue streams (now that I need to) and was selected as a FitFluential Ambassador.  In the past I didn’t worry so much about monetizing my blogs, now if I can without annoying readers, I will do that. However, I will not just whore myself out, for the sake of extra dollars. I have to look in the mirror and now I like who is looking back at me.

#4 Get myself back in reasonable shape.  “My knee is balky at best, but it doesn’t bother when I lift weights or use a recumbent bicycle at the gym.  There are some lower body exercises I will have to stay away from, but other than that I don’t have any limitations other than what I can do.  My definition of reasonable will be walking over 1,000 miles (logged), getting my weight back to 170 or lower (lower is better) and not having the doctor bug me too much when I visit him in May.”

  • I am going to break the 170 pound barrier soon and am running over 20 miles a week. I consider myself back in “reasonable” shape. However, I am not satisfied with this and now plan to work on being in excellent shape. I now have the time and desire to do.

The knee finally got so bad that in April I went to my PCP and Ortho Surgeon to get knee surgery done. Initially the diagnosis was a degenerative bone disease and I was looking at a replacement. The doc wanted to do exploratory arthroscopic surgery first to actually see what was wrong. Turns out it was not degenerative, but cartilage damage.

It took a while to mostly recover (my PT said full recovery is between 9-12 months), but I am back to running – something that I was told I would NEVER do again. Stubborn old bastard aren’t I. 🙂 Seriously, I love running and it is a part of who I am and I am so glad that I can do it again.

#5 Let go of things that I can’t control. “I have a difficult time with this, I want to do so much, but I have come to learn that I can’t fix or help in every situation.  Sometimes you just have let it go and move on.  Don Quixote is not my alias but I have the belief that Don will ride again, but just not as often.”

  • I have done a lot better with this try to let things just roll off me, instead of taking up arms over things I can’t change.  Don Quixote attempted to ride a couple of times during from January to June, but I was able to trip him up as he was mounting his steed and voicing his opinions.

#6 Be positive as possible in all my personal and professional relationships. “This is a carry-over from last year and believe that it helped to look at this every so often.  If I am positive good things happen and relationships improve, it is when I get negative…well we all know what happens then.” 

  • I have become much more positive since I have been able to run again. Running for me and many others, gives me time to help think through issues, relax a lot more and have a much more positive outlook on life around me.  I had dwelt on the negatives of having knee surgery and waited until I had no choice, it really turned out so much better than anyone (including the doctor) expected.

It often pays to look for that silver lining in those storm clouds.

I often wonder if I had been able to run the last six months as a teacher, if things would have bothered me as much as they did towards the end – I will never know.

#7  Say “no” and mean it.  “Often I say yes to things that I can’t accomplish or don’t really want to do, but say I will because of who is asking or some other reason.  Saying no is not part of my usual “can do” attitude, but with the demands of home, work and other things I like to do, taking on even more is not something that I want or should do.  This will be something that I do more often this year – just say no.”

  • This is one thing that I did very well in my last six months as a teacher and have been better at since I retired. If taking on something is not what I really want to do, unless there is no way around it, I have said no several times.

It is hard for me to say “no” because I want to be a nice guy and be known as someone “can do” attitude, but I have finally learned that I can not be all things to everyone, do everything that others want and still lead the life that I want.

At the same time being able to say “no” and mean it can be very self-empowering.

#8  Take the Google Certified Trainer series of tests and finish them by the end of April break.  “I started going through the trainings last summer and completed them, but just haven’t taken the tests.  Completing this would be good resume material, if I need it and will help me gain more self-confidence that I do know something about what I am doing with technology other than in my own mind.”

  • Did all of the studying, went through the prep work, but never took the certification exams = NOPE.  Now this certification does not mean as much to me, so I will probably not do it, unless something changes drastically.

#9  Attend one of the #edcamps in the area.  “I really love to meet the people that are in my Personal Learning Network and see them face to face.  I have come to rely on my PLN for ideas, support and comments to help me improve as an educator.  I plan to continue to participate in the #chats that are on Twitter and MLTI webinars whenever it is convenient to do so, but they are on the calendar as probable, not definite.”

  • I attended EdCamp Boston at Microsoft’s NERD Center last May. It was so great to meet and talk face-to-face with many of the people that I had talked with on Twitter #edchat & #spedchat. I was in the final decision-making stages of staying or retiring and attending this event was a positive reason to stay a teacher. The EdCamps are a great way to learn a lot about teaching and education, as well as meeting many of those people you communicate with via social media.

#10 Make sure that I stop and smell the roses.  “I get so wrapped up in getting school work done, trying to figure out how to interest my students, playing with the computer, participating in #chats, webinars and all the other things that happen my day-to-day world that I forget to stop and just enjoy my life.  I need to remember I have a life beyond school/education or my laptop and need to enjoy that part of my life more.  The work-life balance that I sometimes forget about.”

  • Since I have retired, this is something that I take much more seriously. I try to finish my morning coffee, eat a good breakfast, read my email, gReader and answer any comments on the blog. Then I start in on a blog post instead of rushing around with my head cut off. I am lucky that I can do this but at the same time I chose to simplify my life and as a result can stop and smell the roses more.

When school was in session, teachers do not have a work-life balance. As a teacher your life revolves around the needs of the school and your students – in most cases your family and personal life take a second fiddle. I know many don’t believe that, but to be a good teacher, it is the way it is.

I am enjoying my life now more than I ever have in the past!

Those are how I did on my 10 goals from last year.  I would like to believe that I have made progress in all but one and that one, is not as important to me as it once was.

The reality is that retiring has changed my outlook on many things and my priorities are different now than they were in June.

How did you do on your 2011 goals?  Did you meet them or did things change for you during the year?