Why do we masters runners do it?

This blog was originally titled Run Tuff Running Reflections, but somehow the top of the banner seems to be cut off. I'm not sure when that happened. Maybe it coincides with the onset of my case of plantar fasciitis that has put a stop to my running since June.  Since that time there have not been many posts about running so maybe the title just felt kind of superfluous and made itself disappear.

Back when I was running and blogging more about running, I often made reference to battling on despite getting older, slower and more injury prone. Sometimes I even touched on why I felt us aging warriors continued to lace up our racing flats. Well, one of my favorite bloggers of all time, who now writes for Running Times, has written a piece on just that topic.

You can read Pete Magill's article here.

“But your kids are gonna love it.”

Although I'm not a big TV fan, back when my kids were younger I often watched some shows with them. There were some favorites – Little House on the Prairie, Dukes of Hazard, and Family Ties were among them, for very different reasons. Little House was good, wholesome, family values, Dukes had Daisy and Family Ties had this short, smart, wise cracking kid played by Michael J Fox. He was a guy I could identify with, especially the short part.

When I saw him in Back to The Future I was even more impressed. The guy could skateboard and play the guitar. Little did I know that the music from the scene (one of my favorites in the movie) with him playing Johnny B. Goode was actually done by a studio musician.

It was really a shock when he announced in 1998 that he had Parkinson's Disease. As you probably know, he has pretty much dedicated himself to working to help find a cure for the disease. What you may not know is that he's also dedicated himself to learning to play the guitar. Check out this video of him actually playing Johnny B. Goode at "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Cure Parkinson's" event recently. Read the short article first, then watch the video. Like the person who wrote the article, it gave me chills. http://www.cinemablend.com/new/Watch-Michael-J-Fox-Rock-Out-Johnny-B-Goode-Back-Future-Style-27889.html

Sixty-five and Counting

It's good to have goals. Of course when you accomplish them, you then have to set new ones. Today was a day for attaining one of my fitness goals, the one about doing a set of push-ups equal to my age. When I got down this morning to do my push-ups for the day, there really wasn't any thought of going for the sixty-five. I've been hitting sixty on my first set pretty regularly, but since I had just come in from a pretty serious thirty-seven mile bike ride, the idea of getting sixty-five today never crossed my mind. That changed when I made it to thirty and realized I felt better than usual. My mind-set immediately switched to, "today is the day" mode. When I got to sixty I knew it was going to be close. After the sixty-fifth I even had thoughts of trying to add on a couple more. It was not going to happen. I gave one more a rather feeble try before collapsing on the floor. I did finish up with five more sets of twenty-five. So where to from here. This all started with the long abandoned attempt at the 100 push-up challenge. I don't think this old body is ever going to make that. Trying to work up to seventy seems like a good goal.

Rules Enforcement Committee

I'm not sure exactly how I ended up here, but as many of you know, I live in what is basically a retirement community. http://www.stjamesplantation.com/ There are no age restrictions like some places have, so there are a few families with kids and the school buses roll in and out every day.  I've heard many names that try to capture the essence of living here: The Compound, The Campus, The Bubble, Behind the Gate, Summer Camp for Old Folks – you get the idea.

It's also a  gated community with a Property Owners Association (POA). There is also a group, Troon Prive, that manages the golf courses, restaurants, pools, tennis courts and fitness centers. Then there is The Developer who is the group that bought the land and has developed the roads and amenities, making oodles of money by selling dirt (housing lots). There is still lots of dirt to be sold, so they are very much a part of what is allowed to go on here. On top of that, St. James is also an incorporated town with a full working town government, mayor and all. We are the  last one to gain that status before North Carolina passed a law preventing gated communities from becoming towns.

For the most part, all of that works pretty smoothly. Almost everyone involved really has the best interest of the community as their primary goal. The thing is, with all those groups, there are lots of committees and committees love to make rules. There are LOTS OF RULES. Maybe sometime I'll put up a list of ones I find a little annoying or just downright silly.

Today we got an email from the POA looking for a volunteer for the Rules Enforcement Committee.  I knew there were lots of committees. I had no idea there was a special committee to enforce the rules made by all those committees. Yikes! They are asking people who would like to volunteer to send a resume or letter of interest. Maybe I should apply. On the other hand, after the email conversation I had with the President of the POA  last week and the letter I sent a few months ago to the chairman of the safety committee, it's not likely I would be selected.

Orson Welles, War of the Worlds Revisited?

I got an interesting notice from our town the other day.  Did you know November 9th is the first Nationwide National Emergency Test?

"On Wednesday, November 9, 2011, FEMA, DHS and FCC will conduct the first national test of the Nationwide Emergency Alert System (EAS) test. This nationwide test will kick off at 2:00 p.m. (EST) and run concurrently across all time zones."

The notice went on to say, "There is great concern in local police and emergency management circles about undue public anxiety over this test.  The test message on TV might not indicate that it is just a test.  Fear is that the lack of an explanation regarding the message might create panic."

Does this remind you a little of Orson Welles radio production of War of the Worlds when people panicked, believing that Martians had landed in NJ and were attacking earth? I just thought you should know about this, so that in case you see the EAS test in progress, you don't go hide under your bed.

One Hundred Push-Up Challenge Revisited

Last January I took a shot at the http://hundredpushups.com/ challenge. I worked at it all winter and got so I could do lots of sets of 20-30 push-ups, but was never able to get near doing one set of one hundred. In July I started back doing the push-ups, this time changing the format. Instead of their formula of doing sets and  then finishing with a max set, I’m starting out doing a max set and then adding sets of 20-25.

Using the plan on the One Hundred Push-Up Challenge web site, the most I could ever do on the test was fifty. That fifty came after going through their plan two separate times. With my plan, I’m now able to start out with a set of 60 and then follow that with five sets of 25. My next goal is to get that first set up to 65 to match my age.

Still Here

As was pointed out to me yesterday, it's been decades since I've posted anything here. Apologies to those of you that check in every once in a while to see if I've had anything interesting to report. As you may have surmised, things have been pretty quiet. I've been playing lots of golf. Blogging about golf scores would make for some very tedious reading.  One long report like that and no one would ever check in here again. One note on golf, it probably has more rules than any game I've ever been involved in. I've discovered that almost everyone who plays has no idea what most of them are. I've played with guys who have been playing for years who ask me (I've been playing for eighteen months) questions about what rules apply in certain situations. The coach in me spent some time reading the basic rules when I first started playing. I also carry a small book of the basic rules with me that I got from the pro shop. The little book put a quick end to a minor disagreement the other day.

The other thing I've discovered is many people ignore lots of the rules. For most of us, that's actually a good thing. Golf is a frustrating game to begin with. For those of us high handicap players, if we followed the letter of the law on every shot it would take much of the fun out of the game because we would spend so much time scrambling in and out of difficulty. As a disclaimer, it should be noted that personally I'm pretty much a stickler for following the rules as far as my game is concerned. I'm good at looking the other way when guys I'm playing with kick the ball out from behind a tree or move it from the high grass at the edge of a pond. You get the idea. The one thing that does bug me is "gimmies". You know, those "short" puts that players give each other, or even take on their own, that are in the vicinity of the hole. Sometimes I just have to bite my tongue as I watch guys pick up balls at a distance where their true accuracy is probably 50%. It's more like, "give me a break" than it is a "gimmie".

Cycling has taken over for my lack of running. The plantar fasciitis that flared up in June is still keeping me from lacing up my running shoes. It's improving, just not enough for me to be brave enough to try to run. I've added doing some workouts to my cycling, instead of just going out for a ride. It has made the cycling more fun and challenging.

What’s With the Homework?

I was a teacher for over thirty years, about half those years as a 6th grade teacher, the other half as a high school math teacher. I know homework – it's function, it's usefulness, it's necessity and also it's over the top assigning in many situations. When it came to Christmas and Easter vacations, I was the black sheep in the math department. While other teachers where assigning huge packets of homework for over the holidays my assignment was very simple: have a great vacation.

Fast forward to being a grandpa with a granddaughter in FIRST grade. This is a girl who loves to learn. She's known her letters and numbers for years, loves to do puzzles, patterns and any other intellectually challenging activity. She's done stacks of workbooks with math, reading, and other activities. The creative artwork she does is amazing. As I type this she is reading a bedtime book to her grandmother.

She loves school. The thing is, she suddenly has homework. The math packet that came home yesterday, due on Monday, is eight pages. Today it was three pages in the grammar book. The day before it was spelling. Here's the deal. This is all stuff she loves to do when she wants to do it. She HATES coming home from school after following directions and doing all the assigned work in class and having more stuff she HAS to do. There is a great likelihood that she would do some of the same things that are in the homework assignments just for the fun of it because that's what she felt like doing that day. Doing assigned work in school is fun, having assigned work to do at home STINKS! It takes time from her own creative learning and playing and she's not happy about it.

I know homework is a fact of life. Pages of homework every day in first grade is stifling.


That's a number that will get just about anybody's attention.  It turns out it's not always what it seems. I'm not a big TV watcher. Ninety-percent of what I watch is sports and eighty-percent of that is Yankee baseball. For the past two years we've stayed at my daughter's house while in town for the Dutchess County Classic. Coincidently, it's been the same time as the final night of Americas Got Talent. Last year it came down to a ten year old girl with the opera voice of a world class diva (I'm sure you've seen at least a You Tube video of her) and a young male blues singer who still lived at home while trying to make it in the music industry. He won.

This year they teased everyone with the "final four", dragging the show on for two hours. Throughout the whole evening the big hype was the $1,000,000 first prize. The final two came down to a group of about 25 young (youngest was three) silhouette dancers and a man who could sing like Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, and the great crooners of that era. He had been homeless at 19, and was currently working as a new car detailer while trying to start his singing career. He won.

As we were talking about the show my daughter caught something interesting in the credits. She played it back and paused on the fine print written message. We discovered it was going to take the winner a long time to collect his one million dollar prize. The prize comes in the form of an annuity that is payed out over 40-years! With an even distribution, that's $25,000 per year, a nice bit of supplemental income, but a long way from receiving a check for $1,000,000.