The Long Road... #2014reboot

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Monday, May 30, 2011

#334: Faster and Fitter Than Ever

Part of the beauty of being a new runner is that you can make progress in such big chunks. I ran the Legacy Loop 5K in 35:41. That's more than a minute and a half faster than my previous best from last week. Of course, it was also about 20 degrees cooler. It was nice to run three sub 12:00 splits. Ran the whole race using 1:45/0:30 second intervals. By staying patient and sticking to that discipline, I was able to keep my strength for the whole race. At around 2 miles, I encountered a woman who appeared to be about my age. We jockeyed back and forth for a while, then I finally settled in beside her and we ran together for the last mile. We even chatted back and forth. Amazing for me to be able to run 3 miles and still be able to carry on a conversation. The race finished inside the baseball park, at home plate. I was able to run strong all the way around the warning track. I finished a couple of seconds ahead of my partner, after I took a few breaths, I looked over my shoulder and we smiled at one another. We had both run a good race.

That was Saturday. Today is Monday, and I couldn't wait to get back on the road. good thing, too. It's going to be a hot one. An early morning run is the best way to beat that. I was awake at 7:00, grabbed a SlimFast for breakfast, and read the news. At around 8:00, with the temperature at 70 degrees, I hit the street. This was a new route for me. Lots of shade, some rolling road, and a short span where there was no sidewalk. Real road running. I encountered lots of folks out for their morning constitution, run, or dog walk. Even saw a little girl zooming around on her Razor scooter! Only one glitch: as I said, this was a new route for me. I made one wrong turn that took me a few blocks out of my way, and added about a quarter mile to my workout. It was a slow, easy run, so I'm not worried about the extra distance.

One other milestone: I have crossed the 275 pound barrier. This morning I weighed in at 272, with 25% body fat. I feel terrific, and may have to buy new pants again soon. My goal is to be down to 240 pounds by Labor Day. Baby steps.

I'm so pretty now, there's no telling how irresistible I'll be at 240.

Peace,
Pennsy

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

#333: How Far Can I Run?

Could it be?
I made a new connection on Twitter yesterday. The name is HomeRunHalf and it is the twitter page for the Home Run Half Marathon in Louisville on October 30th. I'm tempted. I'm more than a little tempted.

I told Mrs P I was considering a long one. "You'll do it," she said, without hesitation. What a woman!

Now look. I'm a 50 year old Fat Man with a handful of 5K's under his belt, and I'm contemplating running 13.1 miles. Half a marathon. And you know what comes after that. It just seems like a little too much, you know? I mean, I'm training for my first 10K in about six weeks. Do I really want to try to run more than twice that distance four months later? I'm really tempted.

You don't just buy these...
Here's the thing about Jeff Galloway's Run/Walk/Run technique. I feel great while I'm running. I don't hurt myself. I feel great when I'm done. I can't wait for my next run. Somehow, I can't help thinking that these miles are making me a better man, though I can't really put my finger on what that means just yet.

It wasn't long ago I was blogging in celebration of the first time I ran a mile since cancer. Today, I wasn't really even warmed up until I had run a mile and a half, and I ran each of my three miles faster than the last. I could write a long time and not be able to describe how that feels. It's a feeling I like. It's a feeling I want. What would it feel like to finish a marathon? How I would love to have one of those "26.2" stickers on the bumper of my car someday.

You have to EARN them.

Is it because I want to be able to brag? Yeah, of course. I have a huge ego. You know that. I always have. I love it when people praise me. But there's more to it than that. I'm a cancer survivor. I made it through a journey that kills most of the people who have to take it. My life is a miracle. The fact that I, a person of no special skill or character can not only live through cancer, but come out the other side stronger, fitter, wiser, and kinder than I was when I went in is something I want my sick brothers and sisters to know.

It's something I want everyone to know. Don't give up on yourself! Are you sick? Are you fat? Are you addicted to drugs or booze or tobacco or porn? You can beat it. You can. You are worth so much more than any of those things. Did a lover break your heart? Did your friend die? Did a parent disapoint you?? Those things don't have to destroy you. You can live. You can love. You can create.You can run. As long as you're breathing, you have a chance to try. You've survived, too. YOUR life is also a miracle.

We can run. We can do it. We will do it.

Dammit. I'm more than tempted. I'm gonna run a half-marathon.

Gulp....

Peace,

Pennsy

Friday, May 20, 2011

#332:Running 4 the Sole: A New Personal Best!

This was the out-and-back course for today's 5K, "Running 4 the Sole."


So what's behind the funny name?

Here's the description from their Facebook page:

This is a shoe drive for kids around the world who don't have footwear. It's a great cause as your donation can prevent foot disease and send a child to school.
The registration fee was one pair of old shoes. I donated a pair of 13s that were a little short and narrow for me. Some big-footed boy is going to be very happy with them. By the time I got there, they had a pickup truck full. It was so inspiring! The event was organized by a Lexington 5th grader named Kasey. She did an amazing job lining up sponsors, organizing the marketing, and finding a lovely venue that was a fun run for everybody.
But man, was it hot.

As best I can figure, it was about 80 degrees when I arrived at 1:00 to warm up for the 1:30 start. "Warm up" may be the wrong word to use. I sure didn't need any warm up clothes. I had put on sunscreen at home, and was already wearing my Nike Pegasus shoes and knee stabilizers. When I left the house.  I drank quite a bit of water before the race, but I was glad I did. I used it all.

To warm up, I did a nice, easy walk/jog/run around the park. I probably did about a mile-and-a-half, including what I thought was going to be the last quarter mile, down the big hill that usually leads to the finish line. Throughout my warm ups, I had a little twinge in my right calf, so I resolved to start out very slowly and drop out if I couldn't get comfortable.

The race started a couple of minutes late, which gave me time to check out some of the other runners. There were a couple with baby strollers. I love these things. I always hope that the kid continues running once they're out and moving on their own. There were some beautiful dogs, A couple of setters and three Weimaraners in particular. The heat would have been murder for Jake, but those big old short hairs seemed to thrive in it. Most of their humans would have had much better times if they had just brought skate boards and let the dogs tow them.

"I hope that guy is wearing suncreen."
There was one young man in particular who caught my attention. He had the long-limbed look of a real runner and was not wearing a shirt. "A choice only a young man would make on a day like this," I thought to myself. It's probably a sign of my own geezerdom that my first thought was, "I hope that guy is wearing sun screen." He was doing some pretty esoteric warm ups, hops and butt kicks back and forth in front of the starting line. I wasn't sure if he was for real, or just showing off. But, judging from the way he looked when he passed me, headed back for the finish, right after I reached the 1 mile point, I'd say he was for real. I gave him a couple claps and an "attaboy." When you can run like that, you can look as goofy as you want before the start.

Instead of the traditional gun or air horn, the race started with two young girls counting down "Three. Two, One... GO!" . It really set the tone for what was a "Fun Run" from start to finish. I was a little thrown when the leaders did not make what I expected to be the first turn. We were not following the route I had run here in the past: the one I had trained so strongly on when I came out on Thursday. I decided to throw away my plans, and just enjoy the trip. I started the interval timer on my watch so I would know when to walk and when to run. After the first 90 second trot, I walked and took stock. I checked in with my right leg, and whatever was twinging earlier had worked itself out. The right knee showed no signs of complaint. Back? Straight and strong. Sunglasses? Staying firmly in place. Sweat band? Sopping up the drops and keeping my eyes clear. But what was going on with my shorts?

I have this pair of shorts. I really like the way they feel. They are a dark sort of pewter color with a black and yellow stripe down the leg. They looked fantastic in the store. Not as great on me, but I don't have to look at them, and they've always worn just fine. Thing is, today, they started to creep. Not creep up. The legs stayed down where they belonged, fluttering lightly against my compression shorts. It was the waist. For reasons I can't begin to explain, the waist of my shorts was moving in a clockwise direction around my body! Several times during the race, I would reach down and hike them back around, lining the back seam up with my own back seam. They would be OK for a while, then a few minutes later, I would feel them over on the right again. I assume this says something about my running form that someone with a trained eye is going to have to fix for me. For now, it's just part of the whole comical package that makes up Fat Man Running.

I used 90 second/30 second run/walk intervals, and that really seems like a good place for me. Sure, a lot of people zoomed past me at first, but, I caught a lot of them before it was over. I also discovered, after confirming the distance on mapmyrun.com that my Nike+ sportband measured this run about .16 miles shorter than it actually was. Not a big deal when I'm training, and in a measured race, I can always go back and do the math later.

I finished the race at a gallop, or maybe it was a gallumph, but it felt like galloping to me. I finished strong and well ahead of my previous personal best. I had done that crazy Krispy Kreme challenge on a cool, hazy morning in 38:36. Today, my time was 37:08. That's an average pace of 11:59/mile, which means that somewhere in there, I also met my personal goal of breaking a 12 minute mile, set back in the winter, when I could barely finish in 15. Time to move those goalposts out a couple more minutes.

I gratefully received my cold bottle of water at the finish, then took a nice long walk to cool down. After that, it was a quick drive home, get out of the wet clothes, find the ice pack for my knee, and pass out with Mrs P and the dogs for a few minutes.

What a great day! Sort of makes me glad the Rapture didn't happen yesterday after all. The little angels who put this race together would have been taken up for sure. And running in the blazing heat would have taken on a whole new significance.

Peace,
Pennsy




Thursday, May 19, 2011

#331: Ain't Got Time to Die

.

"Gonter?"

 No matter. Like the song says, I ain't got time to worry about cancer. I have things to do. I just left yesterday's worries out on the road.

I ran the course that this weekend's 5K will follow. It's one I've run a couple of times before, so this time I was able to see a little more than just the ground in front of me. I've learned how the hills are laid out. I know where I need to save energy and where I can let the downhills boost me along. I ran the 5K in 39:22. My personal best, on a much flatter course than this one, was 38:36. I don't know if I can top that, but I'm going to try. I did 90 sec run/30 sec walk intervals, which felt pretty good. My third mile was my fastest, so the longer runs didn't wear me down. I'm going to use that ratio in the race. If I warm up a little longer, I might even be able to start faster than I did today.

The knee feels better and better. These knee stabilizers fromn Ace are the bomb. Right now I'm enjoying a nice tall Gatorade and icing the right knee down. It doesn't really hurt, but I've been icing it after every run, and I don't want to change something that works.

I met someone new online today. He writes a blog called Vegas Runner and he's the kind of runner I'd like to be. He's a 58 year old marathoner. He's even finished Boston. A few weeks ago, he was diagnosed with cancer. We met through another blog I've been following for a while called, funnily enough, Old Man Running. Alan, the author mentioned he had a friend who was a runner and had cancer. I posted a comment, so he got us together. I think you'd really enjoy getting to know both of these guys. I know I am.

We've moved quite a bit of the furniture to the new house. The really heavy stuff is left, and I'm going to have to recruit some of my big handsome show business friends to help me haul them across town. Progress is slow, but it's progress nonetheless. It's as if we're moving on a U-Haul glacier.

With a night's sleep, some household chores, and a good run under my belt, I feel a little silly about being so worried yesterday. I guess I just needed an anxiety break. The truth is, I feel fantastic. Although, thanks to all the IVs and my steady diet of blood thinners, my arms are bruised pretty comically. I look like a junkie with really bad aim.

It was great having Moses drop by yesterday. I'm hoping he'll write some more for FMR. I'll also be inviting other writers to contribute from time to time. There's a lot we can all teach one another.

Mrs P asked what I would do if a woman ever wanted to write for FMR. We'd work something out. Maybe we can launch a sister site: "Rubenesque Woman Running?" "Big Beautiful Runner?"  Or maybe...



Not sure I'm the right person to edit that one, though.

Well, we'll rattle that bridge when we come to it. Gotta go fold some laundry and try to match some you-know-whats. (I swear, that single sock basket is NOT coming to the new house with us...)

Peace,
Pennsy

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

#330: The Waiting Begins



"What are we doing?"
"We' are waiting for the Doc."
I've said it a hundred times: cancer teaches you patience. I went to the clinic at 1:00 and was there until 3:30. During that time, I went to the wrong registration desk, scooted across the campus to the PET scan trailer, sat for half an hour while my bed turned radioactive, went back across the campus to the first place, registered for my CT scan, sat for about 45 minutes until they realized they had lost my paperwork, got some news from the radiologist, and rode the little sled through the CT scan. And thanks to the things I've learned about life in the last year, I was pretty cool with the whole thing..

Mrs P was really anxious about my scans this morning. I used to think that these morning episodes were because she was a little bit psychic. Now I think it's because her blood sugar is a little bit low in the morning. We talked a little bit, let the dogs out, and started our day.

My appointment was 1:00. For some reason, I had written 2:00 on my calender. Luckily, I got a reminder call yesterday. Still, the confusion left me in a sort of non-committal state. I was showered and ready to go by noon, but then I sat down to spend just a little more time on Facebook. So I hit the clinic door right at 1:00. As I stood in line to check in, my phone rang. It was the PET lab calling to find out where the devil I was. PET time is expensive time. I told her I was in line at the registration desk. She told me I was in the wrong place, and to ask for directions. Now, I had been to the PET scan gizmo once before, but I was busy wondering if I had cancer or not, so I was a little distracted. Today, the nice lady at the front desk gave me directions and I trundled off through the rain to the right place.

Checking in was fast and easy. We all laughed at my mistake. I wasn't embarrassed, and didn't feel obliged to make an excuse or even to fake contrition. I just laughed, and they laughed with me. Then a nice lady named Wendy walked me out to the trailer and we road the lift-gate up to the waiting area. A man who was introduced to me as "Mr. P" without irony or further information injected the radioactive stuff into me. He apologized profusely when he pulled the IV needle out of my arm just as Wendy reminded him that I needed to keep it in for my CT scan later. I shined it on, no problem. Seems like Mr. P has dealt with less patient patients than I.

After half an hour of sitting verrrry still so as not to stimulate what Mr. P called "muscle uptake," Wendy asked if I was ready to go to the bathroom. I told her, no, that it hadn't occurred to me. She seemed puzzled, then said that I really had to go to the bathroom. I figured, "She's the professional, who am I to argue?" Of course, soon as I stood up, the little room started spinning. See, when you get a PET scan, you have to fast for 6 hours. I hadn't eaten since the night before, and it was now almost 2:00. Add low blood sugar to my ongoing issues with blood pressure and it was not a very promising combination. I grabbed onto the door jamb until I could gather myself, then Wendy took my arm and escorted me to the bathroom. I explained that my pressure was a little weird, and she explained that I needed to empty my bladder before the scan. I kept wanting to pull my arm away from her and tell her it was OK, I could walk fine now, but she was kind of a cutie pie and I could tell she was worried about what would happen if this giant old man tipped over on top of her in the parking lot. At least she let me pee alone.

Back at the PET scan trailer, things went pretty much as I remembered. I had to take off my RoadID dog tag and my glasses. I also had to shuck my running pants down around my knees so the metal zipper pull s on the pockets wouldn't show up on the scan. I assumed the position, face up, knees elevated, arms up over my head, and promptly went to sleep for the 20 minutes or so that the scanner rolled me back and forth through a long, white, humming tube. A third tech who never introduced herself helped me to get off the table and waited patiently while my head found its balance, then she sent me on my way back to the front desk to register for my CT scan.

I sat in the waiting room in radiology for a long time. I had arrived with my little note from the registration lady, and filled out the paperwork for the radiology lady. Then I sat down and tried to find a wi-fi connection for my iPad. No luck. I read a Time magazine. I read another Time magazine. I was well into a copy of ESPN the Magazine when I heard a different radiology lady on the phone saying, "No. Not here... Well, I'll call the name and see if anyone answers... Mr. Pennsy?"

"Yeah. Right here."

"Oh, my. How long have you been there?"

"Not sure. Not too long I guess."

"Did you fill out your paperwork?"

I pointed out the clipboard where all my check marks and signatures were still on her desk.

"Oh, my.... Yes. He's here... Well I don't know... Debbie must have forgotten to send it back." She hung up and looked at me nervously, as if I might yell or sue her or slash her tires. "I am so sorry. They'll be right out."

I couldn't resist. "You sure threw old Debbie under the bus in a hurry, didn't you?"

Different radiology lady turned from sorry to sharp. "Sure did. She'd do it to me in a second."

The more time you spend around medical professionals, the more you realize why so many soap operas are written about them.

A lady with a clipboard came out into the lobby, apologizing profusely. You'd have thought these people had lost my car. The people who once sent my luggage to Los Angles by mistake were never so sorry. Clipboard lady told me that the radiologist had seen my scans and wanted to make a little change. Dr. Colin had asked for a scan without contrast, but the radiologist wanted me to have it. I told her I was fine with that. She said she had to call Dr. Colin to get his permission, and slipped off with her clipboard.

And for the first time all day, they had my attention. CT with contrast. We hadn't done that for a long time. To be honest, I don't really know what that means. They inject a iodine dye into your blood and it helps things to show up better, I guess. What things? What did the doctor see? Why had this taken so long? Were the Republicans behind this? The Illuminati? Muslim extremists? By the time CatScanMan came out and called my name, I was full of questions and theories. He was also very apologetic. I was getting a little tired of having my butt kissed. Just stick the needle in and scan me already. CatScanMan was very nice. He reminded me of a very large elf. He waited with me in the hall until it stopped spinning so I could walk on with him. He was not a cutie pie, and did not offer to hold my arm. I was cool with that.

I took off my glasses and ID tag one more time and plopped down on the table by my old friend, the CT scan. CatScanMan found a vein and stuck me, then I felt the weird warmth of the contrast fluid flowing in. The radioactive PET scan stuff is cool at first, then there's no sensation at all. The CT scan contrast stuff is warm and you can feel it as it travels all through you. I guess it affects everybody differently, but it always seems to settle in my crotch. My butt crack gets hot and I feel like I have to pee. Oh the wonders of modern medical science.

We made small talk as he set up the machine. This banter has been a part of my routine throughout the past year.

"I sure am enjoying this more than the last time I was in here?"

"Why is that?"

""Cause they found cancer the last time."

"Really? What kind?" Part of me wondered why he didn't know that already, and part of me wondered if it was important.

"Head and Neck. Squamous cell. In my tonsil and neck."

"Squamous. OK." He was much too interested. I wanted more small talk. I wanted him to apologize again. He positioned my head and left the room.

"Hey, I'm wearing dentures. Does that matter?" No answer. The sled rolled in and out of the donut scanner a couple of times.

He came back to my side. "What kind of cancer did you say you had?"

"Squamous cell carcinoma. Do I need to take out my dentures?"

"No. No. That's fine."

Dude? What's with the furrowed brow in your voice? It's just a little cancer. Nothing to worry about. The docs took care of it. Now take your pictures, and prove me right.

As the sled rode back and forth, I realized that I was now in a state of growing paranoia. This was supposed to be a celebration day, a victory lap, a ticker-tape parade. I mean, you can look at me and see I don't have cancer. Why are these people making such a big deal of what is really just a formality?

When the test was finished, I was wide awake. CatScanMan pulled off the tape (always the worst part,) slipped out the needle, and taped a big wad of cotton over the hole. Then he said the worst possible thing he could have said under the circumstances.

"Well. Best of luck to you." He sounded like an undertaker.

Best of luck? Best of luck? Are you out of your mind? I searched his face to try to see if he had spotted anything on the screen. After all, it was a CT tech who first saw my saddle embolism. These guys know what they are looking at. He gave me back a poker face, not at all the jolly, contrite health care elf he had been before the scan. By the time I left the building, I had just about convinced myself that I was going to die. Mr. Mellow had transformed into Mr. Anxiety at the drop of an IV needle.

OK. Deep Breath. None of these things means anything. These are just things that happened on my way through someone else's melodrama. My brain knows that I have to wait a week for the results, so my imagination is filling in the empty space with a little drama of my own. I'm fine. I know I'm fine. I run 10 miles a week. I'm doing a 5K this weekend. I do plays. I love my wife. I play with the dogs. I'm fine.

And just a little worried. Next Wednesday can't some soon enough. Good thing cancer taught me all this patience. I'm gonna need it.

Peace,

Pennsy

#329: Guest Blogger, Moses Goldman: Working for a Living

 I have invited Moses Goldman  to share some of his story with FMR. MG is an old friend who is just beginning to run for his life after many years of less healthful habits. His candor and commitment inspire me. I hope you feel the same way... Pennsy


it's been nearly a month with the new lifestyle.  I've been a sedentary rock for about 16 years.

today, I'm kicking myself and in the dumps.  I should be celebrating... but I'll get to that.

there are days when I can manage two 40 minute sessions in one day.

today hasn't been one of them.  I lifted weights for about 15 minutes, walked a brief and slow lap around a track and swam a lackluster 18 minutes.  felt like a poor effort - but then I ate that damned bread this morning... slows me down, way down.  note to self - stop eating bread.  the high I seek... not here today.  the motivation... ?  where is it?

like I said, there are these days.  days where I push into a zone where the sweat is pouring off of me and my ceiling of intensity just grows and grows and there is a soaring feeling of incredible ability... I could go on and on... and I do just that.  yesterday I pushed hard for 40 minutes (30 minutes aerobic, 10 minutes weights) once in the morning and then last night again.

it may not be good for me to be doing this to get high.

but that is a motivation I must admit.  to get higher and higher.  not just to live strong and healthy.

lord knows this 279 pound 5'7'' machine needs to live strong and healthy.  maybe the buzz should be collateral and just another thing I notice, including the sore muscles and sweat.  something I notice around the continuum of activity and more activity.  the goal - pure, steady and engaged activity; the very happy center.  buzz, sweat and soreness as solely the byproduct - not the goal.

but it feels damn good anyway.  I don't know if I'm making any sense.  I'm looking for something sustainable.

I have been doing everything from EFX Elliptical training - 30 minute sessions; stair machines - 20 minute sessions to date; swimming breaststroke and kickboarding and treading water - usually 20 minute sessions; weight lifting; power walking with intervals of sprinting and wild armed gesticulations (I don't know how else to put it) - up to 2.2 miles in about 40 minutes or more; cycling - upright and recumbent, up to 4 miles in some cases and in about 15 minutes with varying levels of intensity and resistance; the upper body crank, yoga, pilates yoga....

the tao te ching says "if you want to become straight, be crooked."  ok.  here's the point.  there will be lackluster days.  gotta allow for dips and turns in the road.  positively speaking, the amount of activity I just did is amazing for the couch potato I've been for 16 years.  compared to my best efforts in the past month - pooh.  big steamy one.  not good.

but better than nothing.  and what a day yesterday was.  what a day.

here's the thing.  if I get down and play the loser tape because I had a weak morning and just couldn't push enough - I might quit.

 (perhaps I need to back off bread?  some people it's chocolate.)

better yet, perhaps I need to give myself a break for at least getting to the gym.  the proverb from the tao te ching could be rephrased today as "don't put your eggs in one basket."  one workout isn't a commentary on the overall quality of your new thing.

there has to be a happy medium between this contemplation and making sure I kick my own ass the next time I make it out there.  striking this kind of balance in moments like these seems to be my meat in adulthood.

I've been lapping the milk of a childish will to quit at my new projects ...for too long.  yeah, I feel like a "loser" today.  play that tape long enough and I'll quit all over again.  sucks to be fat and unhealthy.  most of us, actually NONE of us set out to be in this boat.  but when we get there, we find we've picked up some pesky demons along the way.

note to self.  good job.  note to self.  you will try running longer next time you hit that treadmill.  note to self.  never look at the scales - it isn't about the scale anymore, it's about life.  note to self.  you're a sexy 279 pound beast with more muscle and a narrower frame and you are living strong.  note to self.  take out the garbage.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

#328: Night Run



What a beautiful evening for a run!

4.43 miles
1:05:04
61 degrees and light rain
Started at 8:52 PM

I put my run off because I had an audition in the afternoon and was afraid I would end up limping through it. When I finally got up the gumption, it was almost dark. I thought I'd give it a try anyway. I'm glad I did.

The Legends were playing as I ran around the ballpark. I love the sound of a baseball game. Of all sports, baseball is the one that suffers the most on television. There is just no way you can watch baseball on TV and have any real sense of what the game looks and feels like. It's too big. On my third mile, as I rounded the scoreboard in center field, I heard a loud crack and a cheer. I looked up and saw a long, looping fly ball floating through the rain along the left field line. It fell well short of the wall, so I didn't get a chance at it, but it was so graceful. There is such beautiful geometry to baseball. The rain, the night sky, the lights: all these things just enhance it for me. And there's nothing as motivating for a runner as several thousand cheering fans. Even if they are cheering for somebody else.

I ran a little farther than I intended, but felt strong at the finish. This has been a light week, a recovery week. I've run relatively short distances and gone very slowly. Galloway suggests putting one of these light weeks in every four weeks to give your body time to recover and adjust to the things it's learning to do. I'm looking forward to finding out just how much it has learned.

I have two 5K runs scheduled for the next two weekends. The first is Running 4 the Sole, this fantastic event being organized by a Lexington 5th grader. It is a fun run around Coldstream park and the registration fee is one pair of used shoes. After the race, the shoes will be sent to kids who can't afford them. I'm really looking forward to it.

The second race is the Legends Legacy Loop for LexArts. This one covers some of my favorite places to run. It starts at the ballpark (which means I can walk to the starting line from my front porch.) and loops through the Legacy trail. It benefits LexArts, the Lexington arts council. Since there's a grant pending with them to produce a project I'm working on, I figure it's good karma to trot along for them. I just hope the person who designs the tee shirt does a better job than the one who came up with this cheesy, handlebar mustache logo...

After that, I'll start stretching out my distances toward July 4th's 10K. I was thinking about it during my run tonight. I don't know which is more amazing to me: the fact that I'm seriously contemplating running in a 6.2 mile road race, or the fact that I'm doing it while running almost 4 1/2 miles in the rain. Both are miracles, as far as I'm concerned.

Peace,
Pennsy

Friday, May 13, 2011

#327: Strangers in the House

This turned out to be a little more mopey than I intended. Feel free to pass it over and I'll write about my long run tomorrow.

Winter in Martha Park
Mrs P is writing a report and I am under strict instructions not to disturb her, so I'm just going to meditate with you for a while.

I've mentioned before that we are losing our house. In order to avoid foreclosure, we are pursuing what is called a "short sale" where you sell the house for whatever you can get, then the bank decides whether or not to forgive the rest of your loan. At least that's how I understand it. Mrs P initiated the process while I was still very sick, so I'm a little foggy on the details. What I know for sure is that strangers are spending a lot of time in my house.

 OK, look. We are lousy housekeepers. Always have been. Mrs P an I both come from families of pack-rats. We've even inherited a lot of their stuff to supplement the junk we have collected over the past 24 years. Are we hoarders? I don't think so, but I can't watch that show on TV. It hits just a little too close to home.

Molly teaching Jake where to pee
in the dining room
Point is, it's embarrassing to have friends wander through our house. Having strangers do it... it's agony. I drive the realtor crazy. She calls to say she has someone to come see the house, and I hem and haw and mumble. I finally just asked her to talk to Mrs P. It's less stressful for me for some reason.
Baby Jake (rug cleaner in the background)
We've had some lovely people come through. Young couples looking for a "starter home," whatever the heck that is. Professional house flippers looking to make a quick profit, (good luck, fellas.) Families looking for an inexpensive place to live.

Yeah. Inexpensive. In 1998, we paid $71,000 for our home. We're trying to sell it for $56K. Less than half the balance on the mortgage. The Great Recession can get a little depressing, sometimes.

Usually, when they come, I take the dogs and go out back on the porch until they leave. That way I can imagine them judging us without having to actually see them turning up their noses at all the retriever hair and cat litter. And books. And tools. And shoes. And... you get the point. Today, I had chores to do, laundry to wash, socks to sort. I was not inclined to go hide while the house shoppers prowled around wondering why there were running shorts and brassieres hanging from half of our doorknobs. So we got a chance to chat.

The garage has some
structural issues
"What's the neighborhood like?" Great. Great neighbors. Generous people. A mix of ages, races, national origins. A diverse neighborhood,  Kind of a rarity in our city. "What are the problems with the house?" Well, there's that big hole in the wall where I passed out while peeing in the middle of the night last summer. There's the siding that blew off in a windstorm. There's the garage that should have been demolished when we bought the house, and is now a clear and present danger to the cats, coons, and possums who have taken up residence in there. "Why are you selling?" That's my favorite. I always want to tell them that it's haunted. You know, by the guy who hanged himself in the basement. But I don't have the courage. So I give them the thumbnail version. Laid off, savings gone, cancer, can't pay the loan, bank won't help, blah, blah, blah. All I need is violin music. I was folding Mrs P's underwear during both of these visits, so the pathos was just that much thicker.

NO! Not the
Get Well  Troll!
I noticed that the salesmen didn't seem to appreciate my contribution all that much. They were all "You could add this," and "all it needs is a little what have you." What it needs is a family who loves it as much as we did. That's what it needs.

Buddy enjoying Christmas
dinner while the humans
ate in the living room
Fifteen years isn't all that long, not really. Neither is 24, in the great river of time. But for Mrs P and me, it's a lifetime. I always used to marvel when people had to pack up their houses after decades, only to move into a room in a retirement home. We aren't that bad off, but we are having to let go of a lot of memories. Some are silly, like old show tee-shirts. Some are very hard like the vanity Mrs P's mother refinished for her, or the journals I have kept for every role I've played since college. Even the old, unused litter boxes are reminders of the many cats we have loved and lost over the years. There is no reason to keep them, in fact, it's kind of gross, but seeing them stacked in the corner reminds us of them and putting them on the curb feels like throwing away memories.
Kizzie trying to set
her bed on fire
In college, I read a short story by Stanley Elkin called I Look Out for Ed Wolfe. It's about a collections agent who gets fired for bullying people. He loses himself. He decides to sell or pawn everything he owns in order to find out just what his life is worth. It turns out to be about $1400 dollars. The realization causes a kind of psychotic break or break down or something. I don't remember the details. It's been a long time. All I know is that he winds up in a bar in Harlem screaming racial epithets and throwing all that cash up in the air for the patrons to have.I got the impression that he was committing suicide.


The ramp our brother-in-law built
 for Molly when she couldn't
climb the steps anymore.
If Mrs P and I tried to sell or pawn all of our stuff, it wouldn't be worth much. The books are musty. The records are ancient. The clothes are worn. The furniture is scratched or chewed or broken. The strangers who come through these rooms must think we live in a dump.

Mum quilting in the bedroom
But this is our home. These are our memories. This is the place where we learned to be husband and wife instead of married room mates. Where Mum came when I was diagnosed and stayed till my treatments were over. This is where we taught dogs to poop outside and nursed sick animals and played Scrabble with friends and spit in death's eye. I want them to know all that, these strangers. There is love in this house. Love that will haunt it like a ghost, long after we are gone. At least, I hope so. Look past the dust and the animal hair and stacks of boxes, and that's what you will find. This dumpy little shack is a house of love. But I don't think the realtor wants me to tell them all that, either. They just want us to pack up and get out so their clients won't have to listen to my sad stories any more.

Just pack it all up and go. It sound easy. But it's not.

Peace,
Pennsy

Thursday, May 12, 2011

#326: Summer Running Shopping List

Things I need to pick up at the store...

Shoe spray
Summer is stinky feet season, and this stuff works great. I use it every time I take off a pair of shoes, and let's just say life is more pleasant with than without. I would prefer a non-aerosol option. Looks like Febreze has one. I may switch to that.
Knee Brace
This is the brace I wore on my right knee during my run today. Also had it on for my long run last Saturday. I can't say for sure if it's the reason, but my knee feels a lot better after a run with the brace. Only trouble is that the Velcro strap sometimes rubs against my other leg when I run. I'd just as soon have two to prevent that rubbing, and to support both knees, especially while I'm still so heavy.
Sweatband
Seems like a dopey item until you find yourself trying to rub the salty drips out of your eyes on a run.Who am I to argue with Lebron James? I know I have one of these around somewhere, but I can't find the thing, and something tells me one isn't going to be enough to get me through the summer.
Sunglasses
Do they have to be these freaky, bug eye looking shades? Probably not. But I'm going to need something. I read the other day that squinting wastes energy. I'm not sure I'm efficient enough for it to make much difference for me, but it is uncomfortable.

Sun Screen
As I was running today, I asked myself, "Should I be wearing sunscreen? Nah. I mean, what are the chances that I'll get cancer?"

Think I'll pick some up today.

New Shoes
I don't have enough experience to justify brand loyalty in most things, but I am very happy with my Nike Pegasus running shoes. They are light, They fit nicely, They support my high arches, and they come in wide sizes to give my big old paddle like feet room to spread out. These were the shoes that they recommended to me at John's Run/Walk Shop, and I am satisfied. Trouble is, my current pair are pretty old, and they're starting to get some miles on them. I'll be going back to John's for my next pair, but I need to do that well before the 10K in July. My friend Charlie who writes Running With Coffee says it's stupid to race in new shoes. Shoes are his business, so I trust his advice.

See, that's what I love about running. It's such a cheap hobby. All you need is some sneakers, a tee shirt and a pair of shorts. Well, you know, and a few odds and ends...

Peace,
Pennsy

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

#325: When Cancer Hits the Re-set Button

The University of Kentucky
Arboretum
This was a busy day. I saw my therapist, my throat surgeon, and had a good, short run at the Arboretum. Now we're sitting in the steamy wake of what felt like our first summer storm. It's a beautiful night in the Bluegrass.

Today's run was a strong one. I did two miles in 24:26. One of my goals is to break a 12:00 mile, and I'm slowly sneaking up on that one. My Nike+ sportband says I've already broken that, but I don't really trust it for such short distances. Run/Walk/Run intervals seem to confuse it. I'll wait until I can run a measured mile someplace. In any case, I know I can run at that pace, and hope to use that confidence to run stronger at longer distances.

I felt good during the run, with only a little stiffness in the tender right knee when I finished my cool down walk and got back in the car. By the time I got home though, I was feeling downright gimpy. I went out on the porch with the dogs and an ice bag. We enjoyed the sunshine as the aching subsided. It's still a little weak, but I expect it will be fine in the morning.
Adidas TR2... Not a bad shoe, but
is it the wrong shoe for Pennsy?
I'm really starting to wonder if my Adidas shoes are the problem. The two times my knee has felt really bad after a run, I was wearing them. I bought them from a department store, without the counsel of the geniuses at John's Run/Walk Shop, so I may have just picked up a pair that don't suit me. I'll try the Nikes for Thursday's run, and see if there's any improvement. If so, the Adidas just might turn into my registration for the Running 4 the Sole 5K on the 22nd. They'll make some big-footed trail runner very happy.


Today's visit with Dr. Colin, my ENT surgeon was terrific. My weight is down, My body fat percentage is down, my blood pressure is down, and the endoscope revealed nothing even a little interesting in my nose or throat. Dr Colin was in an unusually talkative mood today. We chatted about my play, (he had seen a picture in the newspaper about the heroic cancer boy.) We discussed my running and my plans for the 10K in July. "It's something I had often thought about doing," I said, "and now I've added it to the list of things I'm not going to put off any more." He smiled talked about how cancer changes your perspective. It is as if the experience hits the re-set button in your life. Cancer unplugged all my circuits and we are in the process of re-booting me. I told him I felt like a cliche, running on about how much I've learned to appreciate live since surviving cancer. He said not to worry about it. There's a little bit of truth in every cliche. That's how they get to be cliches.

We scheduled my 1-year PET/CT scans for next week, with a followup the week after. I think that will be the day where my status will officially switch from "in remission" to "cancer-free." Good old NED. "No Evidence of Disease." I'd say I've got my fingers crossed, but frankly, the possibility of the thing still being there hasn't even occurred to me. We'll see if I can stave off the "scan-ziety" for the days between the tests and the appointment where the Doc reads my radioactive tea-leaves.

The appointment with my therapist, (now a monthly, not a weekly affair,) was a very enlightening one. I realized that I am starting to turn my attention outward. When I was sick, all roads lead to Pennsy. I didn't think about anybody else. I didn't have the energy. All I could think about was getting through the next hour of sleeping or crying or laughing or puking or whatever life had in store for me during those sixty minutes. As my body started to heal, I had to turn my attention to my soul. It had taken a beating during treatment, but was pushed to the back burner while my survival was an open question. Getting back into therapy, back to church, and back to a daily routine were essential parts of healing my soul. Getting back to the theatre was just the prescription for healing my spirit. Now I've done three plays since treatment finished, and I feel like I'm right on track, doing the work God made me to do in this world.

Echo and Narcissus, John William Waterhouse
Which leads me to this morning's epiphany at the head-shrinker. (Mrs P has stopped protesting my use of this term since one of her teen clients referred to her as his "Nut Doctor." That makes "shrink" the official lesser of two evils.) I realized that I've started asking myself what Mrs P needs. The shrink and I talked about the ways I have left her out of the equation of my decisions in the past, and how I might change that behavior going forward. I was so excited that I called her from the parking lot and left a voice mail asking for an "appointment" with her so we could talk some of these things over. We're making plans for the final big push to get moved out of our house, and the project just might turn out to be an opportunity to strengthen our marriage, rather than being a trial by fire. That would be a welcome switch.

Something tells me that the shrink is moving up on Mrs P's Christmas card list.

Peace,
Pennsy

MORE CONTRIBUTIONS CAME IN YESTERDAY! We're up to $275 for the fight against diabetes. You can help sponsor Pennsy in the Lexington Step Out: Walk to Stop Diabetes by clicking this link and making a contribution.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

#324: The Jesus We Don't Recognize

The gospel lesson in church this Sunday was one of my favorites. It's about two men who thought they knew Jesus very well, but didn't know him when he showed up right in front of their eyes.


Road To Emmaus, Jack Mattingly
That very day, the first day of the week, two of the disciples were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, and talking with each other about all these things that had happened. While they were talking and discussing, Jesus himself came near and went with them, but their eyes were kept from recognizing him. And he said to them, "What are you discussing with each other while you walk along?" They stood still, looking sad. Then one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answered him, "Are you the only stranger in Jerusalem who does not know the things that have taken place there in these days?" He asked them, "What things?" They replied, "The things about Jesus of Nazareth, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how our chief priests and leaders handed him over to be condemned to death and crucified him. But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things took place. Moreover, some women of our group astounded us. They were at the tomb early this morning, and when they did not find his body there, they came back and told us that they had indeed seen a vision of angels who said that he was alive. Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said; but they did not see him." Then he said to them, "Oh, how foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have declared! Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and then enter into his glory?" Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them the things about himself in all the scriptures. As they came near the village to which they were going, he walked ahead as if he were going on. But they urged him strongly, saying, "Stay with us, because it is almost evening and the day is now nearly over." So he went in to stay with them. When he was at the table with them, he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him; and he vanished from their sight. They said to each other, "Were not our hearts burning within us while he was talking to us on the road, while he was opening the scriptures to us?" That same hour they got up and returned to Jerusalem; and they found the eleven and their companions gathered together. They were saying, "The Lord has risen indeed, and he has appeared to Simon!" Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he had been made known to them in the breaking of the bread.
~ Luke 24: 3-35

They thought he was a stranger. They thought he was out of touch. They believed their rabbi had been a failure, and that his body had disappeared. They had seen these things with their own eyes, even looked into the empty tomb. The two travellers knew all the facts, and they were deeply sad.

The stranger was not sympathetic to their grief at all. He said they were foolish to be sad. He showed them how all these things had been prophesied. He also said that the story had not yet reached its glorious conclusion.


Supper at Emmaus, Caravaggio
They didn't know who he was, but they felt something special in him. Not with their minds, but in their hearts. The stranger's words seemed to set them on fire. Still, they did not recognize him. Only after they offered him hospitality, invited him to join them in a meal, watched him take, bless, break, and give away the bread did they see him for who he was. And they were changed, changed so radically that they could no longer continue travelling the way they had been going. They did not continue to Emmaus, they turned back to the dangers of Jerusalem to be evangelists, to tell the good news that Jesus. was not dead, but risen indeed.


How many times, as I have traveled along the road of my life, have I dismissed a stranger? The bum on the subway? The retarded child? The crazy guy at the bus stop? The dopey redneck who lives down the street and sits on the porch drinking beer with his friends all day long? The pregnant teenager. The hustler in drag, working the alleys and back streets of Manhattan's meat packing district? The kid with his jeans sagging down below his butt crack?
Why do I overlook them? Because they aren't smart enough? Not clean enough? Don't have a job? Don't have an impressive vocabulary? Because they aren't as good or pious or humble as I am?

I read Luke's story of the road to Emmaus and can only ask myself, "How many times have I met Jesus and blown him off because he wasn't familiar or respectable or smart?

So many people are waiting for Jesus to show up on a white horse, swinging a shining sword and slaying the devil's armies. And maybe that will happen. But in the meantime, Jesus shows up every day, unrecognized, in the people and places where we least expect him.
At least Luke's travellers got to have a forehead smacking moment when they realized what had happened and whom they had encountered on the road. They got the chance to change direction. That's an opportunity we don't often enjoy. Usually, Jesus comes and goes and we miss him completely. We continue on our busy way to our own Emmaus without ever taking the time to hear the blessing or receive the bread. How tragic. What a waste: that we would ignore the Savior of the world because he doesn't look or sound or smell like we expect him to. 

Homeless Christ, Deb Hoeffner

Our culture loves to remind us how dangerous the world is, how much we should be afraid of strangers, neighbors, even family. So we go though life with our blinders on and our guard up, as if anyone we meet might be the one who has come to destroy us. This gospel says something different. Luke says that anyone we meet might be the one who has come to save us. But we can't recognize him if we don't look.

My movement teacher in college used to say that the word "respect" actually means "to look again." To give someone respect means to give them a second look. Especially when we are tempted to look away and plow along ahead to our Emmaus. In this story, Jesus seems to agree. We may not find Christ when we look again, but then again, we just might.

Seems like it's worth the trouble, doesn't it?

Peace,
Pennsy

We've raised $250 so far for the fight against diabetes. You can help sponsor Pennsy in the Lexington Step Out: Walk to Stop Diabetes by clicking this link and making a contribution.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

#323: Running Like Water.

6.88 miles
1:37:23

Ran longer and farther than I have ever run in my life. I'm not sure when I last WALKED 6.8 miles! And I feel fantastic. Not sore. not exhausted. Fantastic. This is why I run. This feeling.

Came home feeling so stoked that I registered for my next 5K, a race sponsored by the single A Lexington Legends to support the arts here in town. That will be May 28th. I should be in killer shape by then, ready to bust a new personal best. Man, I feel so high right now!

Among other things, today's run proves to me that I really can finish a 10K. Of course, I hope to do it in a little bit better time than this, but now I know I can do it. Bluegrass 10,000, here I come.

Tried an experiment today. I've been reading about running form. The most common advice is not to worry too much about it. Your body pretty much knows how to run. Of course, modern life tends to obscure our instincts with bad conditioning and bad habits, so a little attention can't hurt. What I've been able to glean is:
  • Run Tall. Keep your back straight, not hunched over. This reduces strain on your whole body and even helps you to breath more efficiently.
  • Shuffle Your Feet. A high knee lift and big back kick just waste energy. Keep your feet low to the ground.
  • Keep a short stride. Whether you land on your heel, your mid foot, or your toes, your foot should strike the ground below your center of gravity, not way out ahead of you. This reduces wear on your knees and hips, and eliminates the breaking effect of landing with your foot out in front.
  • Keep moving forward. Bobbing your head. Bouncing up and down. Swinging your arms across your body. Even clenching your fists or your jaw. All these things use energy that has nothing do to with moving from back here to up there.
That's a lot to think about, so many runners suggest using a mantra, a short word or phrase that lets your mind motivate and guide your body in the right direction. Of the ones I found, my favorite is one borrowed from Bruce Lee. "Be Water."
So that's how I tried to run. like water. I tried to flow, to glide along the road. I don't suppose I looked much like I was flowing. But from time to time, that's how I felt. Without going through the whole checklist of what good form is, I was able to use this image to find it. Very cool. Sort of like the affective memory exercises that they taught me in acting class.

How about that? I'm turning into a Method Runner!

Peace,
Pennsy

Friday, May 6, 2011

#322: Evolution of a Runner

It's 11:00 at night, way past my bedtime, and I'm too wired to sleep. I am sitting here filled with excitement about the run I have planned tomorrow. How crazy is that?

My knee was pretty beat up after my run last Saturday. I even carried a cane during that night's performance. I took most of the week off to let it heal, then ran three very easy miles on Thursday. Right now, I feel so good. It's as if I could go out and hit the road right now. Several times today I felt frustration because it was a recovery day and I couldn't go out and run with the dogs. Tonight, during the show, I sat in the dressing room and fantasized about doing 6.5 miles tomorrow. That's a long way, and I'll probably go less than that, but I don't think I ever imagined I would get to the place where could hardly wait for my next chance to run.

When I was a fat boy, running was a kind of punishment. The losing team in gym had to run laps. The kids who missed the foul shots had to run steps. During the few weeks I tried to be on the High School wrestling team, we would run steps until we puked. There were only two reasons to run: to make you tough, or to teach you a lesson. I don't think I ever knew anybody who ran because it was fun.


Nobody gets this bread!
I can remember winter nights in Dormont when Mum would send me down to the Stop'N'Go for a loaf of bread of a gallon of milk. I would run home down the snowy sidewalk, my groceries tucked under my arm like Franco Harris. I scored the winning touchdown every night in those days, sprinting until I reached the last street light before our house, where the goal line and the Super Bowl trophy awaited me. The crowd cheered. The girls screamed my name. As I panted in the cold air, I felt so alive. I loved every one of those hundred yard dashes.


Oh sure, they look great on HIM...
As a teenager, I remember getting up early trying to run the hills in big, heavy basketball shoes. I got blisters and sore feet. I ran in sweatpants and those little gym shorts that we wore in the seventies, and my big fat thighs rubbed together and chafed so painfully that I could hardly walk. I tried running with stronger, fitter friends, and they either left me in their dust, or else they shuffled along with me, which made me feel pitied and pathetic.

In college, I ran for a while because I wanted to lose weight. I once bet a girl in my acting class that I could lose 20 lbs in a month and did it with ease by running a mile around the football field every night. But running to lose weight was just another way of affirming how fat and ugly I thought I was. I stopped and found other ways to occupy myself.

I don't think I ever ran in Grad School, or California or New York. Of course, just being alive in New York City means walking a couple of miles every day. I wasn't exactly fit, but I did OK.

Then we moved to Kentucky. I immersed myself in my work, whatever it was at the time. I had left the fantasy world of the Big City and felt like I needed to make a living like a grown-up, no matter what. I had a couple of jobs, a couple of careers, each one more "grown-up" than the last, and each one farther from my heart. I guess we were doing OK.


What my legs used to look like.
Until the night I noticed a sore, hot, swelling on the inside of my right thigh, where I had what I always assumed were varicose veins. Mrs P made me go to the ER and they diagnosed me with blood clots. I had become so sedentary that my blood was congealing inside me. I could either sit in my chair until my body gave up, or I could do something. As soon as the Doc gave me the all clear, I went to work.

We joined Promatx gym, and they showed us how the machines worked. I started going almost every day. First I walked on the treadmill and pushed the machines up and down. Then one night, while Mrs. P was in her spinning class, I turned the speed up a little and tried to jog. It was probably the first time I had tried to run in 25 years. I felt so heavy! With each step, it seemed that my hips might snap off under the weight of my 400 pound body. But I didn't snap. I didn't break. I ran! When my wife came out of her class and stood in front of the treadmill, beaming at me, I felt more like a husband and a man than I had since we were married. By august, I had lost over 50 pounds.

The feeling was great, but it didn't last. When the recession hit and I lost my job, I went into such a deep depression that I gave up exercise altogether. Stupid of me, since exercise it the best cure for depression that I've ever found. I set about trying to be a grown-up, getting jobs I wasn't good at, working hours I couldn't take, and eating whatever I could grab on the run. The weight piled back on. Clothes didn' t fit any more. All the "Fat Pants" came back out of the back of the closet. I had to ask for an extension for the seat belt on airplanes. I didn't fit in theatre seats. I was a mess.

Then, cancer. While I was sick, I read about Lance Armstrong and how bike racing had helped him through his recovery. I watched the pounds melt off of me as the cancer gobbled muscle and fat indiscriminately. I tried to walk in the summer heat with my big floppy hat over my head, and sometimes even made it all the way to the corner. Then around the corner. Then around the block. As the treatments finished and the scans started coming back clean, I knew that I wanted to keep on living and being healthy.

In December, we joined another gym. I plodded around the track over the basketball court. I thumped out quarters and half miles on the treadmill. I did squats and lunges to try to get my leg strength and my conditioning back. Then one day, in February, I think, I ran a whole mile. Someday, I just might run a marathon, but I don't know if finishing it will feel any better than that mile did. It was proof that cancer hadn't whipped me. I sat on the bench in the locker room, dripping sweat, gasping for air, and feeling so alive.

When I was a kid, I ran in the snow, under the streetlights, because it was fun. Now, fifty years later, I have finally found that fun again. I'm sure I look ridiculous jogging in circles around the dog park with Jake and Clare trotting happily ahead of me. I don't hear the crowd roaring any more. Rocky Bleier isn't there to block for me as I spring free of a tackle and head down the snowy sideline toward the end zone. It's just me, just a fat man running with his dogs, dodging the chuck holes and the poop piles, and feeling like a kid with a loaf of bread tucked under his arm.

I can' t wait to go out and run in the morning....

Peace,

Pennsy

Thursday, May 5, 2011

#321: Running with the Pack

Team Pennsy hitting the trail
I have a new training team. Jake and Clare seem pretty content to trot around the park with me. We did 3 miles today, plus another mile of warm up and cool down. That's a nice day's work for a fat man, a chunky dog, and a puppy with energy to burn.

We took Clare to meet Doctor Dobbs today. She got a clean bill of health, and her first shots. She was very brave.

Jake came along since the two of them are growing inseparable and we were too sleepy to fight it out with them. Since we've started running together, he has lost 7 pounds! You can see his endurance is much better, especially when Clare wants to play tag and they both tear off together. It's good to know that we're all going to be healthier. They're fast asleep now. I'll be joining them for a nap right after my shower.

I ran verrrrry slowly today: about 16:40/mile. My right knee is tender and I didn't want to test it. "Tender" is the word I've been using. It isn't injured or sore, exactly. Just a little weak and stiff after a run. I'm taking plenty of rest, and some tylenol to deal with the inflamation. I don't want to do any harm, so I'm taking Jeff Galloway's advice and running slow miles to build a base. I have my eye on the July 4th 10K, and if I don't do anything stupid that keeps me from training, I should be right on target to run it.

I've made some changes to this page. The font was so small on my monitor that I could hardly read it, so I made the print a little bigger. I also added some pages thanks to Blogger's new fancy design tools. I tried to get some of the clutter off of this page to make it easier to read. I also dumped the Google and Amazon ads. I never made any money with them, and they just took up space. I'm not sure any of this makes much difference, but it's spring, the perfect time of year for rearranging the furniture.

Peace,
Pennsy

Monday, May 2, 2011

#320: Making a Difference, One Step at a Time

This is the text of a letter I'm sending out today... Pennsy

I hope you will consider sponsoring me on June 4, 2011, when I am participating in the American Diabetes Association’s signature fundraising walk, Step Out: Walk to Fight Diabetes. Working together, we can make more of a difference than any of us can imagine.

When they told me I had cancer, I was terrified. “What are we going to do? How can I afford to stop working? Who is there out there who can help us to get through this?”

All through our battle, we were inspired and encouraged by the loving people who offered their prayers, company, and financial help. A situation that seemed hopeless at first, turned into a chance for us to realize just how much we can help one another when we join together. Today I’m cancer free and getting back on my feet. With God’s help, and the generosity of the people who helped us, I am living a miracle. It’s hard for me to believe that a year ago, I could barely walk at all.

Beating cancer was hard, but I’m asking you to join me to help raise dollars for the fight against another killer that affects my family. Some of you may know that Mrs. P has what Kentuckians call “the sugar”. But living with diabetes is anything but sweet. People with diabetes have increased risk of heart attack and stroke. Diabetes is a leading cause of kidney failure, nervous system disease, and nontraumatic lower-limb amputation. How widespread a threat is diabetes? According to the web site of the American Diabetes Association:

·         25.8 million Americans, 8.3% of the population have diabetes.

·         In 2010, 1.9 million new cases of diabetes in people aged 20 and older were diagnosed.

·         26.9% of all Americans aged 65 or older have diabetes.

·         In 2007, diabetes was listed as the underlying cause on 71,382 death certificates, and was listed as a contributing factor on an additional 160,022. In that single year, diabetes contributed to 231,404 deaths in our country.

The situation seems too big for any of us to do anything about, doesn’t it? Well that’s how cancer felt to my family and me. But people who cared shared the work and helped to save my life.

Please work together with me to help stop diabetes from taking any more of the people we love. There’s not much any one of us can do, but together, we can make a difference in more lives than we will ever know. Just click the “Support My Walk” badge to go to my personal Step Out page where you can learn more about diabetes, the Step Out event, and make a contribution.
Peace,
Pennsy

And if you want to walk with me and a couple thousand of my closest friends, go to the Step Out web site where you can register and get started!
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