Saturday, March 03, 2007

Alternative to this lifestyle

I've been thinking, thinking a lot and that's usually a big mistake. I've been thinking about where I am in my life, taking an inventory of sorts and I decided to jot down a few of my thoughts and maybe I can get my butt into action. In other words, quit thinking about where I've been and what I want to do and start doing.

I see this blog as sort of a diary and by exposing myself like this mabe I can be more disciplined and honest in my training and in my life. I don't think many read this blog anyway but I check back on it off and on to see if anyone shows up and I read through my latest entry. I now see each entry as not only my personal/public diary and my discipline coach. Now that's a thought. Let's start a health club and we'll hire discipline coaches? Oh, probably not. The word discipline doesn't sound good. Kind of like workout, damn! Why can't life be all beautiful sunrises and sunsets, skip the workout and discipline stuff, take pills and feel good.

I've been running for around 15 years now. My first run was here on the Chicago lakefront with my son Jake and a friend of ours. I was in my late 40s at the time and hadn't ran since high school, and even then a 2 mile run was just punishment issued by our football coach for not hitting hard enough in football practice.

My run with Jake was going to be a three miler. I had been working out some so I wasn't too worried and took off. I made it maybe a half mile and my lower legs, shins started hurting like hell and my breathing rate went through the roof. Who knows what my heart rate was.

Jake and our friend told me to run and walk it through and they would wait for me. So that's what I did. Why I perservered I will never know. All I know is that my thought at the time was "boy this is hard, I have to learn to do this."

Since that first run I've completed 6 marathons, several half marathons and who knows how may 5Ks and 10Ks. I start training now for the 2007 running season. I'm committed to the local Shamrock Shuffle 8K at the end of March, the Soldier Field 10 miler this spring, the Chicago Distance Classic half marathon this summer and the Chicago Marathon on Oct. 7.

AND...I'm going to get back into some speedwork this year because I miss it and because it helps me run faster during my distance runs. I still have a Boston qualifying time on my mind and I want to qualify in my first love, The Chicago Marathon, my marathon. There is a great 400 meter track about a mile from where I live. In the late 90s and the summer of 2004 I would jog to that track, do a steady mile then go as hard as I could with several 400 and 800 repeats, cool down a mile and jog the mile home. It was good for me and I felt better about myself as a runner and as a person for having faced it down and endured. Thinking about the workouts I did intimidates me, but once I got rolling the actual workout never did intimidate me, even though I often red lined and puked a bit.

There is a 5K or two almost every weekend here and I went through a couple of summers where I was running one almost every weekend and sometimes one during the week. They were part of my speedwork and there was always someone to race with.

I quit doing those 5Ks a couple of years ago and I miss them so that is one goal I have for this summer, push my butt through some 5Ks, race a little and have some fun. My running has turned into another stressor in my life rather than a stress reliever and this has to stop....NOW.

The days are flying by and while I don't mind being old, I'm 62 pushing 63, I don't relish the thought of feeling old so I'm going to do everything in my power to stay independent and healthy. I'm always in over my head, running this, yoga this, pilates this and now a funky thing called core fusion. While these workouts aren't macho oriented each one addresses a vital part of my body and my mind and are healthy alternatives to weights as cross training workouts. However, I want to get back on the weights too because I enjoy them. I haven't touched a weight in over a year and I confess I enjoyed flexing my biceps on occasion at the local races as I spit and strut a bit. I'm not the fastest boy in town but I'm sure I must really worry some of the front runners before the gun goes off. (insert a little laughter here)

For years I've been trotting along and experimenting with this running game, having fun, and I now want to see what one old body can do if it is properly cared for and nourished. I've finally gotten it through my thick head that this body is the only constant in my life. People come and go, money comes in and goes out, the sun rises and sets, days pass by, occasionally a cute girl will smile and say hey and move on, once in awhile a fellow runner will run and chat with me, then we go our separate ways....but I'm stuck with me 24-7 for better or worse.

I've been told and it's been implied I'm abnormal. And for that I say hooray.

A "normal" 62 year old male in this society is 1. Overweight 2. Watches TV and drinks a lot of booze. 3. Drives a sports car and pays for nice clothes for a 20 something girl (well that one doesn't sound too bad though). 4. Doesn't like to be around young people (I don't understand this one. Maybe youth reminds us of advancing age? Anyway, I sure remember being young and it was hard so my hat's off to the young) 5. Thinks he's hot stuff only because he's lived a long time and has experience (the reality is we're just damned lucky to be alive) 6. Is on who knows how many prescription drugs. 7. Thinks old farts like me who train and run marathons are crazy (and they're right on that one) and I'm proud to be crazy.

So, the alternative to an active and healthy lifestyle is to be a couch potato, spend insurance money on doctors, prescription drugs and keep driving up the cost of health care all to the joy of the alleged health care machine.

I remember as a little boy thinking that society was screwed up...and I was right.