Posts Tagged ‘Running’

With gratitude

August 25, 2011

Back when I began running 33 years ago I would have questioned the sanity of anyone who told me I’d still be running now. Anyway, I am and with gratitude.

My latest pre-run routine consists of this: at 5:20 a.m. I have a banana washed down with a glass of chocolate milk containing two heaping spoonfuls of pinole. At 7:30 I head out the door. If this little snack  isn’t doing wonders for how I feel, then I have a terrific imagination. Endurance is better; times are better. I feel great!

I figure it is either the meal contents themselves or the omission of my usual large bowl of cereal with a banana on top. Whichever it is, things are going well during my fitness runs.

Perhaps it was the ambulance

January 1, 2011

Yesterday morning I took my last run of 2010. Severe weather was threatening the area. I stayed close-by.

Everything was going fine until I began my second mile. With no warning at all, my left leg collapsed, and I nearly went down. Has this happened before? Yes. But very rarely.

Actually, though, it has happened often enough so that I don’t rely on my legs to serve me well  in precarious situations. Climbing the Mayan pyramid at Chichen Itza, for example.

The pyramid actually looks quite accessible from the ground. Lots of people were going up and down. After watching for a while and working up some nerve, I approached the first step.

Facing me were many, many steps with no intermediate landings. A complete absence of anything to hang onto. OSHA would not have been happy. I decided I’d just start climbing and not look down until I had reached the top.

The climb was very easy. A steady, deliberate pace, and I was done. Oh, what a view from up there. It was worth the climb. Ruins in the foreground, a blue sky with puffy clouds, Yucatan jungle stretching to the horizon.

After looking around, enjoying the view, watching people huff and puff their way to the top, it was time to go back down. How was I going to do this? What looked quite benevolent from below, suddenly presented itself as a nearly vertical drop to the ground when viewed from above.

Oh, boy! This was going to be tricky. One stumble and I would bounce down the stone steps all the way to the bottom. Climbers coming up in my path of descent would join me going down,  felled like so many bowling pins. The odds of surviving such a fall, either alive or able-bodied, were slim.

With my “trick knee,” for lack of a better description, I decided to sit down and proceed one step at a time. I was even worried about falling as I attempted to sit on the top-most step in preparation for my downward journey. Perhaps it was the ambulance sitting off to the side in the shade of a tree that focused my attention.

Well, anyhow, I made it back down. We have heard that climbers are no longer allowed on the pyramid. Unverified at this point, but understandable.

All of this came to mind as I finished my last run of 2010.

A cup of coffee has much appeal

December 19, 2010

Noticing the front doors of homes along my running route has become part of my routine. The variety of colors is more than one would expect, some subdued, most tasteful, an occasional one – shocking. One of the homes, a house with a very steep roof built for a snowy winter somewhere else, had a purple door which looked surprisingly good with the off-white brick and dark brown shingles.

Today, I saw a door so yellow that one couldn’t help but look at it. I mean really, really yellow … YELLOW!! An arrow-shaped neon sign at the curb would have added nothing to the visibility of that entryway. For a few steps along the sidewalk, I wondered if they knew that the store will mix a color for you; that it isn’t necessary to buy the color off the shelf. But maybe they like it.

As I ran along, I recalled a door I saw during a run a couple of years ago. When I got home I said, “There is a door on a house in a neighboring subdivision that is the same color as the doors up at the cabin. It really looks good.”

“Yeah, I know, I’ve seen it. That’s the same color as our front door.”

“And it really looks great! I love that color more and more every time I see it.” (That’s the color of our front door? How long has it been that color?)


I’m trying to establish some regularity to my aerobic exercising, paying more attention to time and making a commitment to head out the door around 8:00 a.m. Prison days, Monday and Thursday, are out since I leave too early. Afternoon or early evening running has never been my thing. Cross-training days, Tuesday and Saturday, are out. That leaves Sunday, Wednesday, and Friday mornings.

On the downside, it takes little to keep me in the warm confines of my living room. Oh, it seems too windy, too cold, a threat of rain, too many icy patches, and a cup of coffee while looking out the window has much appeal.

A good find on that morning run

May 12, 2009

Near the end of my running route, I come down a long hill with somewhat of a dip at the bottom. Anything loose on a construction vehicle heading up hill has a good chance of being bounced off. Over the years I have found an assortment of metal objects. Quite a pile had I ever thought to save them.

The jackpot was a few years ago when I found a 12-inch adjustable wrench. Nicely chromed, it has been hanging from a nail in the garage ever since. Until this morning, that is.

When the shower flow abruptly slowed in the guest bathroom, I had to dig out the brochure to see how to take the control valve apart so I could look for the culprit. What was needed was a large adjustable wrench to hold the outer body while the internals were unscrewed and removed. I cleaned and back flushed the filters. Back in business. No service call fee; no hourly plumber charge.

A good find on that morning run. It has occurred to me, however, that the police could have been summoned to check out the old man running down the street with that large wrench. But I am glad that I picked it up and brought it home.

I’m simply and forever grateful

March 24, 2009

Thirty-one years ago today I put on a pair of new running shoes and went out to see what jogging was all about. Getting some exercise transformed my life and has served me well though all sorts of trials. The old expression about not adding years to your life, but adding life to your years, is certainly true.

My mileage is modest and only for fitness. But I have had the privilege of  running in Muscatine, Iowa, … Cincinnati, Ohio, … Eldorado, Arkansas … St. Louis, Missouri … Washington, D.C. … Mystic, Connecticut … Springfield, Massachusetts … Dayton, Ohio … Palm Beach, Florida … Houston, Texas … Memphis, Tennessee … Minneapolis, Minnesota … Tokyo, Japan … Seoul, Korea … Kenting, Taiwan … Scotland … England … and a host of other places on odd trips here and there. In Tokyo, my daily run was around the Imperial Palace grounds. And believe me I wasn’t the only one out on the roads in either Tokyo or Seoul. Sunrise exercises were the norm.

Any road races were purely social but included 3 half-marathons, several 15k, 10k, and 5k events. I have shared the road with Paul Cummings, Mary Decker Slaney, Bill Rodgers, Julie Isphording. My favorite race with a 10 miler north of Alton, Illinois along the Mississippi River. It was flat, foggy, misty, about 39 degrees, and I was in a singlet and shorts. Perfect for a run of such length.

I seldom run if it is over 80. The coldest temp was -12. There has been one fall — on snow-covered ice in Cincinnati. Seven years were spent running 3.5 miles several days per week with a blind man tethered to me by a small coiled cord. He also was able to water ski and downhill ski, so his physical sense was well developed due to being sighted until his early 20s.

But all in all, and after 31 years, I’m simply and forever grateful for the capability and opportunity to get out on the road, get the pulse up, breathe deeply, and listen to the birds.

Most of all, I am grateful

January 14, 2008


In his book, The Holy Longing, Ronald Rolheiser speaks of “mellowness of heart and spirit.” Gratitude. Following today’s morning run, and most of my morning runs, a sense of gratefulness  is most apparent.

Thirty years ago this March, I thought I’d try getting some exercise. That first run on a cold Iowa afternoon is not easily forgotten. A few days earlier, I had measured off a mile on the streets of our neighborhood. That seemed a reasonable first try. It seems short now. But as I stepped out the door in my new Adidas “Country” shoes, I was apprehensive. The last time I ran a mile was during gym class in high school, some twenty years earlier. Throwing up after two laps around the track was the dominant memory.

I returned from that first run not too happy. My vision was pink. I was gasping for breath. The whole experience  didn’t look good. But thirty years later, I am most grateful for the decision then, and my being able to continue now. As I look back, it has really been life-changing for me.