A Pleasant Surprise (Or, Running Pays)

My morning runs are usually fairly predictable. I may vary the route a little but I’m always in the same basic neighborhood so I see the same stores, restaurants, and houses. I even see the same potholes and cracks in the streets. So last week, when I turned the corner and saw something laying in the street near the curb up ahead, I kept my eye on it as I approached. At first I thought it was just paper or trash, but I quickly could tell it was a dollar bill. As I stopped and bent over to pick it up I was surprised to see it was actually $20 bill! I looked around but at 6:45am on a side street there was no one around, I had just passed a gas station so I looked back there but no one was in sight. I felt bad keeping it but there was literally no one to give it to. As soon as I started running again I saw something else in the street just ahead. A few strides later as I got closer I could tell it was another dollar bill. Then, when I bent to pick it up I couldn’t believe it was another $20 bill! Now I really felt bad that I could return the money to someone but I must admit I was also excited about finding $40.

There are many benefits to running but I hadn’t thought that finding money would be one of them.

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Two Sides to Every Story

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Hollywood, California. Home of the rich and famous. And the homeless.

While visiting my son in LA this weekend I’ve been running through some great neighborhoods of multi-million dollar homes. I’ve also run past too many people who have nowhere to live except the street. Most large cities have their share of homeless people living among the rest of the population but for some reason the contrast seems greater in LA. Especially in Hollywood. How many times have you heard about people moving to Hollywood to find fame and fortune? Well, the fact is that very few find it. Unfortunately, too many spend all they have trying or they think they’ll get by off the scraps of others. And yes, some have mental problems so they aren’t thinking “right” at all.

It’s interesting to watch the tourists looking at the stars in the sidewalk along Hollywood Blvd. They “Ooh and Ahh”, point and take photos of the gold-colored stars  of their favorite actors and entertainers while ignoring the dirt, stains, and general filth that lines the sidewalk and street along with the homeless people sleeping against buildings or sitting with a hand out for change.

Seeing the extreme difference between the “stars” too many look up to and the poor that too many people look down at reminds me how truly blessed I am by God to have what I have.

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My First Duathlon. (But not my last)

I’ve often thought about doing a triathlon. But the thought of competitive swimming any distance stops me every time. I can swim but not efficiently. So I’ve never competed in any event except road races. Until now.

i read about the Rouge-athon event put on by Tour de Troit. Run 5k, bike 10k, run 5k. Sounded perfect. And it was. I really didn’t know what to expect as far as the event itself. The registration said limited to the first 250 entrants but when I got to Rouge Park in Detroit an hour before the event, there were only a dozen or so people there. While picking up my packet I asked a volunteer about the event. He said they had 80 people register and explained the way the race works. There was a transition area where you hung your bike on a bar next to your bib number. The event is one lap around the path, then you get your bike and do two laps on the road parallel to the path, then put your bike back in the transition area and run one more lap. My GPS watch showed the lap longer than a 5k, and that was correct as I saw a sign later that read “3.3 mile loop”.

This was my first time on a bike since last summer so I knew that would be a challenge. And it was. The first lap was steady even though the few hills were a challenge. The second lap was an effort the whole way. My quads were feeling it as I downshifted to climb the hills. Several of the people I passed while running were now passing me as they leaned over their curled racing handlebars with their shoes clipped in the pedals. As I sat upright pedaling my road bike I was glad I had taken off the big basket I normally have on my handlebars. When I rode into the transition area a volunteer yelled “Ready to run on spaghetti legs?” I thought she was joking until I stepped off my bike and my legs almost buckled. The first 100 yards of that last lap were unsteady but then I got into a groove and felt good and finished strong.

Going into the event I didn’t know what would be a good finishing time, but the 1:31:30 felt good when I looked at my splits.  The running laps were all around 8:05-8:10 per mile and the biking was between 4:30-5:15 per mile. When they posted finishing times and I was 5th in the 50-59 group I was satisfied for my first Duathlon. But next year, I’ll do a little bike training.

 

 

 

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Running Through History

BB5434AA-A447-4BEE-AFC2-12FCD54120CAOn a recent run I took a path I rarely take and went back in time more than 19 years.  I was in a neighborhood just north of downtown Royal Oak and saw that one of the side streets had a back entrance to the cemetery that faces Main Street. My grandparents are buried in that cemetery and although I drive by it almost every week and some weeks many times, I hadn’t been in it in years. As I entered the back of the cemetery I was suddenly anxious to get to the front section where my grandmother’s grave is. This is my dad’s mother. My grandfather that’s buried there is my dad’s stepfather and he died when I was quite young so I have few memories of him. But my grandmother Meitzner lived to be 93 and lived close to us so she was a part of my life until she died when I was 40. I have many, many clear memories of her. She was fun, silly and active her entire life. When I was small she would play games on the floor with me, come cheer at my baseball games and always ask about my “love life”. When I had kids she played games on the floor with them even though she was over 80 years old. The stories are too many to tell, but as I ran past her grave  I could remember 20, 30, 40 and 50 years ago like it was yesterday.

That was a memorable run.

 

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Mapping Out The Race Year

Even though there’s still about a foot of snow on the ground outside I can almost feel the summer sun. That’s because I spent time today mapping out the races I plan to run this summer and fall.

Thinking about the Riverwalk 10k, Cruise in Shoes 5k, Brooksie Way Half marathon and Detroit Freep Half marathon has me anxious for the race season. This year I think I’ll also add a half marathon early in the year. In May I can choose between The Stony Creek half in Rochester or maybe a trip north for the St. Ignace half in the UP.

One disappointing fact I learned while looking at race calendars is that the popular Oak Apple Run in Royal Oak has called it quits after 40 years. This was one of my favorite races each year. Well organized, nice course, good crowds and close to home. But the founders have announced that after 40 years they are done. I posted last year that I had the race shirt from the 1st annual and I ran the 40th annual (and most in between). 40 Years Running. This event will be missed.

I also am excited about being in a new age group this season. I must admit I looked at the results of some of the races from last year to see what the winning times were in the 60-64 age group. There are some fast old guys out there. But in a few races I could have placed in the top 3 if I ran my best times. That’s the goal. Bring home the medal. Just like PyeongChang.

 

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Snow, Paczkis, Beer and More Snow

IMG_0110Parts of the annual 5k Paczki Run in Hamtramck are predictable and parts are unpredictable. The predictable parts are the paczkis, beer and polka tent. Unpredictable? The weather.

The February Saturday before Fat Tuesday in Michigan can be frigid cold, spring-like mild, bright and clear or cloudy and grey. This year the run was the  morning after we got about eight inches of snow. The city did a great job trying to keep the roads clear but it was nearly impossible so as we ran through sloppy snow and slush the corners were tricky and passing other runners took careful footwork. And then there were the potholes. Michigan roads take a beating and the side streets of Hamtramck were no exception. Runners helped each other out by yelling to point out the numerous potholes that could easily cause a fall or twisted ankle.

This sloppy course affected my time as I didn’t want to risk a fall but still almost went down while turning one corner in the slush. So I was not disappointed with a 8:31 pace for a 26:24. For the first race of the year, my 12th place finish out of 136 in my age group was okay.

And of course, there was the predictable paczkis, beer and polka tent at the finish.

 

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I Couldn’t Pass Up The Beach

Ft Lauderdale beach runThere are times when you just can’t say no. Like when you were looking forward to a run along the Ft. Lauderdale beach on A1A but then you come down with a cold and feel like crap. So, even though I had a sore throat, headache and congestion made it hard to breathe, plus it seemed I didn’t sleep more than a few minutes in a row all night due to coughing, I couldn’t pass up the beach.

Our winter in Detroit, like a lot of country, has been unusually cold and snowy so when I had an overnight business trip to Ft. Lauderdale I built in time for a morning run before my flight back. And I wasn’t going to miss it.

As I started out at sunrise it was 68 degrees and windy. Originally I had planned to do about six miles which would leave me time to shower, grab a quick breakfast then Uber it to the airport. I quickly realized that I didn’t have the energy to do six and it dawned on me that if I pushed myself too far I might get sicker and risk more days of running next week. So a mile and a half down the boardwalk I turned around and headed north back into the wind.

Although I only got in three miles, watching the sun break through the clouds over the ocean was a nice change from the dark, cold, snowy morning running my neighborhood. I’m still dragging two days later but planning to sleep a lot this weekend and hopefully get back out Monday morning.

 

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