AVR – December 2011 in Review

This is the end of my first full month of writing and posting at “A Veteran Runnah”. It has done better than my wildest dreams, thanks to your support and help. I said thank you the other day in my Thank You for Your Support post. Everything I said in that post I mean wholeheartedly.

How Was December?

December that time of the year where for many drinking and eating are the main events wrapped around the many festivities, parties and other revelries. It is a time when families get together to celebrate and then after Christmas ends to celebrate the New Year or to celebrate that Christmas is over. It is also the time of year when I typically add 5-10 pounds from all that eating and drinking.

However, a funny thing happened this year on the way to my usual December binges.  I retired last June.

As part of that retirement, I don’t have the same temptations of year’s past. All of the great foods that co-workers bring in, the impromptu after work you will or just gotta goes and the made it to Holiday break parties you have for the kids in your classes – all those temptations to eat and drink more were gone.

The funny part was that I didn’t really miss them all that much. I missed seeing and talking with some of the people, but the binge eating and drinking I didn’t miss that at all.

This year December wasn’t the same and it was in a good way.

Running In December

I hit 100 miles for the month exactly today during my IRC Freezing Rain storm run. That is the first time I have not hit 100 miles in a month since 2007.  Mother Nature didn’t make it easy for me, but running within her moods is just a part of running, especially up “heah” in Maine.

I finished reading Chi Running for the first time and one of the big focuses during December has been to work on improving – ah hell changing  – my running style from a splay footed penguin to run with everything going in the same direction. It will be something that I am going to have to work on for a long time, all those bad habits that have accumulated over the last few decades aren’t going to go away over night.

You don’t know how good it felt for me to be back to running regularly again.

This month in a word: Psyched!
Weight
I ended November weighing 176 and ended December at 170 this morning. This was in spite of plateauing for a while in the middle of the month. Even though I didn’t have as many temptations as in the past, my wife is a great cook and baker, so there were plenty of temptations around the house for me to indulge in for the Holidays and yes I had my share of great food (but this time only my share).  So I would have been happy to have stayed even, but to lose 6 pounds in December – well that is unheard of for me.
Injuries
The right knee is not complaining nearly as much as it was in November, but that streaking stuff – I have to stay away from it. The knee demands rest every so often and barks loudly at me if I don’t give it enough.  Also, I really am not trying to go fast yet and I notice some pain if I do, so I am going to stay slow, build my base again for the next 3-4 months and then see where I am at. The lower back is still a little sore, but better than it was a couple of weeks ago. We figured out that how I was sitting with Bennie in my lap was part of the cause and the rest had a lot to do with posture and a bit is just getting older ;-).
Shoes
I ran in my Saucony Peregrines all but one day and they are still doing great. What more can I say about them other than they have done everything I could want from a running shoe and they now have 162.8 miles on them. The soles are just beginning to show a little bit of wear, but the uppers, other than some mud stains are in great shape. The Peregrine is an amazing shoe that I recommend others to take a very close look at – I know that I will when it comes time to get another pair this spring.
Top Ten Blog Posts for December
Here are my top ten posts for December based on pageviews:

1. The Hardest Thing About Running
2. You have how Many Pair of Running Shoes?
3. Dressing for Winter Running
4. Book Review – Chi Running

5. Buying New Running Shoes – How to do it?
6. Rest – Such a Four-Letter Word
7. A Runner’s Worst Nightmare
8. Choosing a new Running Shoe
9. Runneritis – A Dread Disease
10. Icebreaker – Passes the Stink Test

The thing that surprised me the most about this top 10 list, was that all of them were written in December since I started writing here most of the time. None of the old posts that I imported from “One Foot In Reality” cracked the list. That is a good thing in my mind.

Reviews
In the interests of transparency and since the Icebreaker post is still in the top 10 post list, I will continue to keep this information available to readers.
I was invited by the Natureshop to review 3 pieces (top, bottoms and glove liners) from the Icebreaker Merino Wool base layer clothing line. I have worn the Icebreaker base layer for most of my runs this week and at other times also.
They worked as advertised and from my unscientific point of view, they seem to transport sweat away from my body better than the synthetic base layer clothing that I currently own. See my other two posts on the Icebreaker line of clothing: Icebreaker Base Layer Clothing Review and RunLog 12/8/11 – First Run in Icebreaker Base Layer. 

Keep smiling and good things will happen! 🙂

Originally written by Harold Shaw published at A Veteran Runnah © 2011 – All Rights Reserved. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Harold Shaw and A Veteran Runnah with appropriate and specific directions or links to the original content.

 

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My IRC Run in Freezing Rain – 12/31/11

My last run of 2011, somehow it was a fitting test of my hardiness and dedication to running a lot.

There is a very thin line between dedication and crazy. I may have crossed it a little bit this morning when I ran. It was freezing rain with a pretty good build-up of ice on the road and I was out there running. Continue reading

Running in 2011 – The Year of the Knee

The Knee of the Year! 🙂

This is the first time in a long time that I get to recap my running year and it feels good to look back and say that I have run again. However, there was one single thing that dominated my life this year – My Right Knee.

The pain leading up to surgery, recovering from surgery, my eventual return to running and how the knee continues to improve, really has been the one thing that has stolen the show all year-long.

I wish that the year had been more about running and racing than about that damn knee, but that is what 2012 will be about.

January to June 14

When 2011 started it sure as hell didn’t look like I would ever run again and it would be a question of when, not if I needed surgery and how bad the surgery would be – up to and including a possible knee replacement. The first prognosis was that dire. My Ortho had ordered no running when left him in September and I followed that advice – well most of the time. Continue reading

Five Miler Done-Just a Little Slippery – 12/30/11

I needed a total of just under 8 miles in December to go over 100 for the month. Which would be my first 100 mile month since 2007, so I decided to run a 5.0 miler today and a 3.0 tomorrow to break it up. I am pretty stoked about making that 100 miles for December, I never thought that I would have one of these again last year at this time.

About a half hour before I started running it started to snow a little bit which made the run a little bit slippery:

I am now Officially a Janathon Participant

After much hemming, hawing and thinking it over I have decided to take part in this year’s Janathon 2012.  Why the so much going back and forth, in the past I didn’t have time to keep with something like this all the way through to the end and it is a little out of my comfort zone.

When I first read about it a little while ago, I wasn’t going to do it, because I interpreted the rules to be consecutive days of running at least a mile. Which I wouldn’t do as I discussed in my Rest – Such a Four-Letter Word post.

However, after talking on Twitter today with @runtozoostation who advised me that it was run/walk or other activity, I re-checked the website and read the following rules/guidelines for the Janathon:

So here they are:
Run or do some form of exercise every day.Blog about it within 24 hours.
Join the Janathon group at the Running Free website and log your runs/exercise.
Visit other blogs and leave comments, giving your support.
Link to the Janathon website and display the ‘Janathon Participant’ logo (which you can find here).
And that’s about it really.

After I read the rules again, I decided that it is something that I usually do most days anyway and it would give me a chance to discover some new running/fitness blogs. The biggest difference will be instead of using DailyMile, I will be using Running Free to log my runs online, so we will see how that goes, I was mostly happy with DailyMile and was just starting to get more involved with that community.

I went through the process of joining Running Free and Janathon group. I was pleasantly surprised with Running Free everything was pretty intuitive – which probably means a blog post review about it will be the works sometime in January. I put the Janathon Participant logo in my sidebar with a link to it and think that I have completed all the prerequisites to take part in Janathon.

I usually don’t like doing these kind of things, but I promised myself that if I was still running at the end of the year, that I would do some stuff that would take me out of my comfort zone and this will be one of those things.

Now to get ready to be active for the Janathon.

Thank you @runtozoostation for setting me straight and challenging me to do this 🙂

Keep smiling and good things will happen! 🙂

Originally written by Harold Shaw published at “A Veteran Runnah” © 2011 – All Rights Reserved. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Harold Shaw and A Veteran Runnah” with appropriate and specific directions or links to the original content.

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2011 and Beyond – My Running in the Future

I have written about my experiences as a runner in my 40 Years of Running Series and I can think of no better way to end this series than to look to the future.

Today is time to set goals related to running and look forward.

What are the biggest things that I want to begin to accomplish in 2012 or beyond?

First 

That’s easy – just be able to run when I want to.  Continue reading

Book Review – Chi Running

I just finished my first reading (but not last) of Chi Running by Danny and Katherine Dreyer. Which I got as one of those Christmas presents I choose while browsing (err shopping) at the Maine Running Company in Portland, but TheWife paid for and wraps for you to get later.

Why would I want a book on Chi Running when I have run for – well let’s just put it this way a long damn time? Quite simply I watched myself run in a video I took earlier in the month and let’s just say that my form sucks.

After seeing myself in action, I did some research on different ways to improve my form and Chi Running was one of three methods that really interested me.

So how was the Chi Running the book? Continue reading

Wanted to Run, Rest Day Instead – 12-29-11

Joey resting

Today is a scheduled day of rest and I really didn’t want to. I wanted to run more than anything else today, even though it is in the mid-20’s with 30-40 mph winds.

Yes I must be totally off my rocker, nuts and all those other things that people say about us crazy runners. Fortunately or unfortunately, depending upon your point of view, I would have to agree with them – I am a little crazy.

However, I am also trying to be smart about my running – a very new notion for me. Part of that being smart is to take rest days at least every 13 days. I didn’t want January 1st to be my next rest day so last week I chose today. Thursdays just seem to be the best day of the week for resting.

I also did a quick Twitter poll to help me out on this one and the overwhelming majority of my Twitter community told me to take the rest day – Thanks everyone for your support.

So as bad as I wanted to go out there and run this morning – I didn’t and I won’t this afternoon either. My body needs a little rest and a day off will do it a lot more good than a 3.0 mile run.  See you can teach an old dawg new tricks.

There is a DNR in the running log and that is a good thing.  Hmmmm I might even take a long bath and try to soak out a few kinks in the back in legs :-).  This is different for me, I am actually thinking about things I can do to relax!

Quality of Run: DNR
Weight: Didn’t Weigh In (I usually don’t on rest days)
Time of Run: DNR
Temp:  25F
Weather: Bright sunshine with 30-40 mph winds out of the NW. = FREAKING COLD!

Rest doesn’t mean I am not keeping up with or learning more about running, it just means that I am not out there putting in the miles – today.

Keep smiling and good things will happen! 🙂

Related Posts
Rest – Such a Four-Letter Word
Streaking – A Bad Thing

Originally written by Harold Shaw published at “A Veteran Runnah” © 2011 – All Rights Reserved. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Harold Shaw and A Veteran Runnah” with appropriate and specific directions or links to the original content.

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Looking Back at My 2011 Goals

Every year I go back and see how I did on my previous year goals and the outcomes.

#1  Determine whether or not I want to remain in Special Education as a teacher. 

This is something that I do every summer – take a good long look at the job I am presently in and decide whether or not to stay.  It is very stressful being a Special Educator for a variety of reasons (which I have documented in other blog posts) and I have to determine if that stress is still worth it to me or not.  I won’t make any rash decisions or anything like that, but I will look at whether I am still enjoying my chosen profession and make my decisions during July of this year.  If I do decide to no longer be a Special Education teacher, I do plan/want to remain in education in some capacity, preferably in Education Technology or some other role.  Time will tell.”

  • This one was pretty easy to measure – I retired. The biggest reasons I left teaching were 1) My health – teaching is a very stressful profession – the stress was negatively affecting my health, 2) teaching is a very jealous mistress with your time and 3) the final straw was that I no longer enjoyed the artificial requirements of standardized testing and Special Education paperwork (CYA more than helpful) – whole books have been written these two things so I won’t get into them.  The bottom line was that teaching stopped being fun and there were not enough “aha” moments to sustain me.

#2  Enjoy writing more at “One Foot In Reality”.  “Writing about what I do for my day job (Special Education) was getting very tedious for me – it was just too much of something. I needed to be able to take off my Special Education hat much more than I was.  Changing my blog’s primary focus to doing reviews on software/web applications is something that I always wanted to do, but in the past always thought “who am I” and there are so many other people out there already doing that, who would want to read what I have to say?  If I don’t do this now, I am not following one of my dreams and giving it a chance to see where it leads me.  I am very passionate about using technology and believe that I have some unique perspectives on how software/web applications are or can be used, so we will see how this change pans out.”

  • “One Foot In Reality” is no longer my primary blog and I found a niche/focus that I really am enjoying – Running. I plan to include some of the technology stuff into “A Veteran Runnah” at times, but my focus and passion as I have discovered is more related to running than technology. I am writing a lot more, just not at “One Foot In Reality”.  I am following my dreams and running/fitness are a part of those dreams.

#3  Prepare for a reduced income over the course of the next couple of years.  “I have a feeling that education is going to go through some tumultuous times over the next few years in the State of Maine and throughout the Country.  I am still at the bottom of all the lists and am probably in a better position weather the storm than some others, but at the same time it doesn’t hurt to learn to live on a reduced income.  This goes well with my last year’s goals of being less materialistic and more self-sufficient.  Hey who knows, maybe I will decide to leave teaching, become a freelance writer and finish writing the book that I have started and stopped so many times.”

  • When I retired in June this one smacked me right upside the head. Going from a pretty decent wage to a small fixed income has meant some major changes in how we do things. We have been relatively modest for many years, and we have no bills other than normal monthly bills, so that was a big help. Now I can’t just go out and buy a new pair of running shoes (as much as I want to try the VFF’s) or the newest running clothes.

I am more willing to try my hand at other revenue streams (now that I need to) and was selected as a FitFluential Ambassador.  In the past I didn’t worry so much about monetizing my blogs, now if I can without annoying readers, I will do that. However, I will not just whore myself out, for the sake of extra dollars. I have to look in the mirror and now I like who is looking back at me.

#4 Get myself back in reasonable shape.  “My knee is balky at best, but it doesn’t bother when I lift weights or use a recumbent bicycle at the gym.  There are some lower body exercises I will have to stay away from, but other than that I don’t have any limitations other than what I can do.  My definition of reasonable will be walking over 1,000 miles (logged), getting my weight back to 170 or lower (lower is better) and not having the doctor bug me too much when I visit him in May.”

  • I am going to break the 170 pound barrier soon and am running over 20 miles a week. I consider myself back in “reasonable” shape. However, I am not satisfied with this and now plan to work on being in excellent shape. I now have the time and desire to do.

The knee finally got so bad that in April I went to my PCP and Ortho Surgeon to get knee surgery done. Initially the diagnosis was a degenerative bone disease and I was looking at a replacement. The doc wanted to do exploratory arthroscopic surgery first to actually see what was wrong. Turns out it was not degenerative, but cartilage damage.

It took a while to mostly recover (my PT said full recovery is between 9-12 months), but I am back to running – something that I was told I would NEVER do again. Stubborn old bastard aren’t I. 🙂 Seriously, I love running and it is a part of who I am and I am so glad that I can do it again.

#5 Let go of things that I can’t control. “I have a difficult time with this, I want to do so much, but I have come to learn that I can’t fix or help in every situation.  Sometimes you just have let it go and move on.  Don Quixote is not my alias but I have the belief that Don will ride again, but just not as often.”

  • I have done a lot better with this try to let things just roll off me, instead of taking up arms over things I can’t change.  Don Quixote attempted to ride a couple of times during from January to June, but I was able to trip him up as he was mounting his steed and voicing his opinions.

#6 Be positive as possible in all my personal and professional relationships. “This is a carry-over from last year and believe that it helped to look at this every so often.  If I am positive good things happen and relationships improve, it is when I get negative…well we all know what happens then.” 

  • I have become much more positive since I have been able to run again. Running for me and many others, gives me time to help think through issues, relax a lot more and have a much more positive outlook on life around me.  I had dwelt on the negatives of having knee surgery and waited until I had no choice, it really turned out so much better than anyone (including the doctor) expected.

It often pays to look for that silver lining in those storm clouds.

I often wonder if I had been able to run the last six months as a teacher, if things would have bothered me as much as they did towards the end – I will never know.

#7  Say “no” and mean it.  “Often I say yes to things that I can’t accomplish or don’t really want to do, but say I will because of who is asking or some other reason.  Saying no is not part of my usual “can do” attitude, but with the demands of home, work and other things I like to do, taking on even more is not something that I want or should do.  This will be something that I do more often this year – just say no.”

  • This is one thing that I did very well in my last six months as a teacher and have been better at since I retired. If taking on something is not what I really want to do, unless there is no way around it, I have said no several times.

It is hard for me to say “no” because I want to be a nice guy and be known as someone “can do” attitude, but I have finally learned that I can not be all things to everyone, do everything that others want and still lead the life that I want.

At the same time being able to say “no” and mean it can be very self-empowering.

#8  Take the Google Certified Trainer series of tests and finish them by the end of April break.  “I started going through the trainings last summer and completed them, but just haven’t taken the tests.  Completing this would be good resume material, if I need it and will help me gain more self-confidence that I do know something about what I am doing with technology other than in my own mind.”

  • Did all of the studying, went through the prep work, but never took the certification exams = NOPE.  Now this certification does not mean as much to me, so I will probably not do it, unless something changes drastically.

#9  Attend one of the #edcamps in the area.  “I really love to meet the people that are in my Personal Learning Network and see them face to face.  I have come to rely on my PLN for ideas, support and comments to help me improve as an educator.  I plan to continue to participate in the #chats that are on Twitter and MLTI webinars whenever it is convenient to do so, but they are on the calendar as probable, not definite.”

  • I attended EdCamp Boston at Microsoft’s NERD Center last May. It was so great to meet and talk face-to-face with many of the people that I had talked with on Twitter #edchat & #spedchat. I was in the final decision-making stages of staying or retiring and attending this event was a positive reason to stay a teacher. The EdCamps are a great way to learn a lot about teaching and education, as well as meeting many of those people you communicate with via social media.

#10 Make sure that I stop and smell the roses.  “I get so wrapped up in getting school work done, trying to figure out how to interest my students, playing with the computer, participating in #chats, webinars and all the other things that happen my day-to-day world that I forget to stop and just enjoy my life.  I need to remember I have a life beyond school/education or my laptop and need to enjoy that part of my life more.  The work-life balance that I sometimes forget about.”

  • Since I have retired, this is something that I take much more seriously. I try to finish my morning coffee, eat a good breakfast, read my email, gReader and answer any comments on the blog. Then I start in on a blog post instead of rushing around with my head cut off. I am lucky that I can do this but at the same time I chose to simplify my life and as a result can stop and smell the roses more.

When school was in session, teachers do not have a work-life balance. As a teacher your life revolves around the needs of the school and your students – in most cases your family and personal life take a second fiddle. I know many don’t believe that, but to be a good teacher, it is the way it is.

I am enjoying my life now more than I ever have in the past!

Those are how I did on my 10 goals from last year.  I would like to believe that I have made progress in all but one and that one, is not as important to me as it once was.

The reality is that retiring has changed my outlook on many things and my priorities are different now than they were in June.

How did you do on your 2011 goals?  Did you meet them or did things change for you during the year?

🙂 Keep smiling and good things will happen!

Originally written by Harold Shaw published at “A Veteran Runnah” © 2011 – All Rights Reserved. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Harold Shaw and A Veteran Runnah” with appropriate and specific directions or links to the original content.

 

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Muddy Run Down Back in Shorts – 12-28-11

Where is the ice/snow?

This morning was absolutely beautiful, sunshine and 49F no wind, but instead of running I did a long 3.5 walk with the wife and Bennie, it was muddy then, but not nearly as bad as later.

I have found that if I run immediately after walking that far, the old body, just doesn’t like it. So I rest for a few hours before I do my run. Hey – does this mean I am actually starting to listen to my body? Just maybe.

This afternoon when I went out it was still really warm for this time of year up heah – 44F with a 10 mph wind out of the NW.

That is still SHORTS WEATHER to me and this is December 28th. I can’t believe that I wore shorts in Central Maine this late in the year – Strange winter. However, I do like running in shorts and long sleeve shirts instead of jackets so I am not complaining.

Today’s run was a bit of a mudder. I was able to run to the Brook and back without worrying about ice or snow, but after last night’s rain storm, there was plenty of mud. The footing was a little iffy with some ice underneath in some places, so you had to be aware of how you were putting your foot down. For the most part I felt as though I just plugged along, without trying to push the pace or put too much effort into it.

Today’s focus was working on keeping my feet straighter, so that when I look back I don’t see a big V from my toes pointing out so much.  This is a lot better than I used to be, but I still have a little ways to go to be running straight. Slow progress, but this is definitely progress.

Some of you who commented on my post The Hardest Thing About Running and stated that they couldn’t really see me running. So I decided to put this up on the internet to see the difference between then and now – I can see some differences already, but I know that I have a lot more work left to do. I plan to do a lot better one in a couple of weeks, but figured that since I was in shorts it would be a good time to get an interim video. I am still crossing my chest too much with my arms,  need to keep working on that. 🙂

Even with the muddy conditions, it was the fastest run on this course, this year. Needless to say I was surprised and a little pysched.

Quality of Run: Good felt strong all the way
Weight: 171 (Lowest in a long time)
Time of Run: 3:00
Temp: 44F
Weather: Overcast and the wind is picking up

Keep smiling and good things will happen! 🙂

Originally written by Harold Shaw published at “A Veteran Runnah” © 2011 – All Rights Reserved. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Harold Shaw and A Veteran Runnah” with appropriate and specific directions or links to the original content.

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