Category Archives: “Athletic Pursuits”

Athletic Pursuits

I am an ultrarunner.  That means that I have run events longer than a marathon.  I say this rather tentatively, because I don’t look like an ultrarunner and I don’t train like an ultrarunner.  But I did run two 50k events during 2012 and finished them both.

The way I got into this was that I had this idea when I turned 50 last April that a suitable goal for the year would be to run and complete a 50 mile event.  So, in 2012, I ran a marathon and two 50k events as well as a few assorted other events to work up to this goal.  After the first 50k, I signed up for a 50 mile event, which is in two weeks.

However, ever since the second 50k, which was in December, nagging injuries have kept my training limited.  I haven’t had to lay off completely, but there has been a curtailment.  I mention this because I ran my longest run today since the last 50k — a 9 mile run.  I realize that 9 miles is a long way to run.  But I also realize that compared to 50 miles, its not very far.  But I set my goal, I paid my money, I put it on the calendar, and I’m gonna go for it.  And I’m really hoping that I can finish this, because I don’t know if I’m foolish enough to sign up for another one.


Today’s Run

I just got back from a four mile run.  “Run” is really stretching it.  Even “jog” is an overstatement.  “Waddle” is more accurate.  Which begs the question, “why?”

A number of things conspire against me running.  First, I am not thin, nor will I ever be.  I am not athletic.  I have no speed nor agility.  My reaction time is slightly slower than a two-toed sloth.  My wife recognizes this and insists that she drive when we ride together, because this exponentially diminishes the likelihood of us getting into an accident.  I agree.  I also have problems with depth perception so following a ball in the air is not my forte.  Plus, I’m a klutz.  To top it all off, during my misspent youth, I participated in some extracurricular activities that limited my athletic potential even further.

I did run some in my youth, but that seems like a lifetime ago.  My recent foray into running came about through some health issues.  About two-and-a-half years ago, I went to the Take Care clinic at Walgreen’s to get a flu shot.  The nurse proceeded to take my vitals, and  while doing so, the color rushed out of her face.  This is not normally a good sign.  It is especially not a good sign when your vitals are being taken.  She mentioned that my blood pressure was abnormally high and that if I did not get it under control, I was in imminent danger of having a stroke or heart attack.  I don’t remember what it was but it was something like 180/120.  So, I promptly decided to lose some weight and start exercising.  I decided to run thirty minutes a day.  Every day.  For a hundred days.  No matter how slowly I went, I would at least be getting outside, moving, engaging in some form of activity.

So, I did that.  I may have missed two or three days out the hundred.  And I was hooked.  I found I enjoyed getting outside, moving, exploring the scenery.  Although I grew up in this community and have been down these streets literally thousands of times, it’s interesting to observe the changes that take place daily and seasonally.  I enjoy having time to think.

My weight came down.  I got my blood pressure under control.  I didn’t have to go to the Big and Tall section of the store to buy clothes anymore.  These were tremendous benefits.

Then, I started getting into trail races.  You must understand that for me, “racing” is an overstatement, unless starting out slowly and then slowing down more counts as a strategy.  But I found that there are a couple of things that I really enjoy about this.  The first is adventure.  You never know what surprises a day out in the woods is going to bring forth.  To me, that’s a positive.  The second is perseverance.  Ninety percent of this sport is perseverance.  Keeping on.  Not giving up.  Showing up every day.  Setting realistic goals and trying to achieve them.

So that’s why you’ll see me out and about, slogging it out in the noonday sun.


Back to the Gym

I woke up this morning feeling like I had a Ford F-350 truck on top of my chest.  I thought to myself, “how did that happen?”  Then I remembered, “I went back to the gym yesterday.”

As you have guessed, I haven’t been to the gym in a while.  Matter of fact, I haven’t been all summer.  I wouldn’t exactly say I’ve been sedentary.  But I’ll have to give the rundown on my “athletic pursuits” another day.

I wouldn’t call myself a natural athlete.  I don’t feel athletic at all.  My oldest son has described me as “bookish.”  I’m not sure if that’s good or not, but as the football coaches say, “it is what it is.”  Whatever that means.  But several years ago, I read a book called Younger Next Year.  One piece of advice that stuck with me was that if you are over fifty, you need to do some strength training.  So I read that book, filed that information away in the corners of my mind, and promptly went out and got a job that just about killed me.

Fast-forward to last year.  I’m starting to notice that I’m getting saggy.  It occurs to me that I probably shouldn’t take off my shirt in public.  Living in a beach community, this realization seems as though it could affect my quality of life.  I’m even beginning to think of searching Amazon to see if there is such a thing as a man-bra.  So, I had to do something.

I found this gym near my house that used to be a racquetball facility back when racquetball was cool.  They kept the racquetball layout and distributed the fitness equipment throughout the gym.  So this means that you can pretty much get your own room to work out in.  No muscleheads glaring down at you in contempt.  No hotties to make you feel like a beached whale.  And no crowds.  You just go in, get it done, and get out.  Which is about the only way I would ever go to a gym.

So, I’m still debating about whether to take the shirt off in public, but at least I’m not mortified by the thought of it anymore.

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