October 2018

As I write this column, I’m less than 24 hours out from hosting our homecoming meet, followed the next day by the Viking 5K, and then the Boynton home meet on Monday.  The last couple nights, sleep has come to me fleetingly, as my mind goes over the event planning and the long list of things I need to remember. Along with this comes the wrinkle that just over a week ago my high school boys team got pummeled, coming in fifth in a meet we’ve won the last three years, and beat by two teams in our division.  Stress, while not the overbearing kind, is definitely in full swing as of late.

I wouldn’t say I’m a stressed out guy.  I am good at directing my efforts where they need to be in order to get things done.  But I do usually have a lot of irons in the fire, things to juggle, and the list of things to do is constantly cranking through my subconscious.  While it doesn’t keep me up at night, when I wake up, regardless of the hour, the list starts cranking through my head.

I can’t imagine what I’d do without my daily run.  So far in the last 9 months I’ve only had 25 days off, and if luck stays with me, I’ll have less than 40 days of no running this year.  Not only does daily running help keep me sane, it also keeps my body moving, ever active saving me from just crashing on the couch at the end of the day.

For sure, not every run seems like a blessing.  I’ve trudged through my share of crappy running days this year.  I’ve had a nagging achilles injury that simply won’t go away until I decided to take some real time off.  I also broke my big toe again this summer, leading to the only two days in a row off this summer. Some days this winter were brutal because it was so cold.  Some days this summer brutal as it was too hot.

But the mental benefit, being able to clear my head, is immeasurable.  Requirements at school, trying to get all the work in at the farm in the few hours I had, all the running related tasks I take on while everyone is enjoying some summer down time, these things would churn me into a pulp if I didn’t have running to straighten me out.  Nothing like a long run in suffering heat to reduce the tension created by that long list of responsibilities. If the sun and miles don’t kill you, neither will the things on the “to do” list.

As I get older the role running plays in my life morphs.  While challenging my best performance used to be the focus of my endeavors, challenging the responsibilities of life, and beating them, is the main goal now.  To not let life requirements win against my desire to get out there and test myself.

I don’t like that I’m no longer looking to push my physical limits however I’m satisfied that I still get the opportunity, or more accurately, make the opportunity, to get out there and get my run in.  Maybe it’s simply an act of defiance, my push against the background of time. But I’m happy to make that choice and that I can make that choice.

Life isn’t simple.  The requirements of life can get pretty complicated and convoluted if you let them.  Time slips through your fingers stacking up regret after regret. However there are things in your life that can be simple, like the simple act of running.

See you out there.

September 2018

So here we are, heading into the final third of 2018 and my cardiologist just reaffirmed something I already knew was true.  Over the past year and a half I’ve been steadily getting a little heavier. In the twelve months between doctor visits I’ve added 9 pounds of additional weight to my frame.  A few more desserts here and there, maybe some unhealthy choices when going out, but the pounds have come on.

It’s not like I didn’t notice.  The clothes fit a little different, pants a little tighter.  Running times a little slower.

I could chalk it up to age.  Or injury. However while both of these are true, that would be a cop out.  I’ve been a poor tenant of my body and that was fully identified by my visit to my cardiologist this past Friday.  See I’ve had the misfortune to have some bad genes passed down to me for my mother’s side of the family (I’m sure I got some doozies from my Dad’s side as well!) that gives me a predisposition to high cholesterol.  My body produces an enzyme that inhibits the kidney’s ability to filter out blood cholesterol as it passes through the system.

For the past three years I’ve been on a medication that all but takes the extra cholesterol out leaving my total cholesterol looking fantastic.  At one point I was looking at numbers over 300 and on medication they were lowered to 150. So that’s good.

But I also think that due to this medication controlling my cholesterol I’ve relaxed in being conscious as much in what I eat.  I think I’m more prone to “gamble” on a poor food choice than to be proactive in my decision making knowing the medication will pick up the slack.

But the cholesterol medication does not control the oversized portions, or the calorie rich food over the nutrient dense food.  Or the snacking.

So while I well on my way to accomplishing my less than 52 non running days for 2018, here 2/3rds of the way through 2018, I have new new resolution that focuses on the food I eat.  I am going to be more conscious of what goes into my body. It’s going to have more value and less fat and refined sugars. More water. And snacks will have to be unprocessed.

Let’s face it, it’s not rocket science.  I know a few lost pounds will make running easier, and reflectively, make me less prone to injury.  Less injury could lead to more miles, and more miles to more calories burned and less pounds. It a vicious cycle I want to get in to.  As someone correctly said, we’re given one body in this life, and it’s up to us to care for it.

See you out there.

August 2018

Just this past week I had the opportunity of a lifetime and spent a week in Alaska with three very good friends.  We hiked, white water rafted, they fished, and just ventured around Alaska seeing all the natural beauty that this country contains.  And that’s quite a lot. I had the best intentions of running every day but fell short due to some unforeseen circumstances that I derived from our swim test for the rafting.  While the damage to my quad curtained the depth of my running I still got to get out and run, albeit maybe a little less than I would have liked but it’s tough to complain when your in Alaska.

The three runs I did get in, not only were fantastic, but as I look back on them I feel incredibly lucky to have had the opportunity to do so.  The first run was a seven miler out on the Homer spit. The city of Homer, home of the Time Bandit from the TV show The Deadliest Catch, has a five mile spit that extends into Katchemak Bay.  Loaded with boat slips, shops, and fishing charters, it also hosts a bike path that runs most of the length of the spit. While the road going down the spit was loaded with RVs, I didn’t pass more than one runner and half a dozen bicyclists.  I passed pockets of lupine and fireweed in bloom, old wooden boats, new sailing vessels and fishermen coming with their catch. With the snow capped mountains of Katchemak Bay State Park as the backdrop, the surreal surroundings I was running in was absolutely jaw dropping.

My next run happened in the town of Soldotna, half way down the Kenai peninsula on the Tsalteshi Ski Trails behind Skyview Middle School.  Soldotna is the hometown of Allie Ostrander, the baby assassin who runs for Boise State and is the current and two time champion for NCAA Division 1 championships.  While she ran for Kenai HS, she developed a race series in Soldotna to help protect the Kenai river and more purposely, the salmon that live in it. I had hoped to be able to run in one of her summer series runs but the one day I was not in Alaska was the day of the series.  The rolling hills and twisty-turny terrain would have made for an excellent run but my busted up quad had me simply running the “Wolf” loop, which was lit for the ability to ski during the very long winter nights.

The third run didn’t actually happen in Alaska, but during our 16 hour layover in Portland, OR.  With time to kill I was able to get out and run a loop in Forest Park, a ridge line wooded city park with over 80 miles of trails and no automobile encounters.  I had hoped to see a local elite out on the trails as many pros call Portland home and use the park for training runs, but we saw none. Still rough from the rafting accident, we kept the run to a hilly three mile run.  With many switchbacks, cutbacks and steep ascents and descents, I felt the shorter the better on this one as we still had a five hour plane ride to take us back East.

So while I didn’t get out as much as I had planned or wanted to, the runs I had held some significance in my small little world.  I make never get to run with Allie, or some pros in Portland, but I was able to see where they train, and get a sense of what makes them them.  And that is worth something.

See you out there.