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CHINESE TAKEOUT

JANUARY 31, 2021



Chinese Takeout

Well, we had a wonderful day yesterday celebrating Patty's birthday. Included in the celebration was a large order of Chinese take-out and I just finished a nice Chinese brunch composed of left-over hot and sour soup over pork fried rice. It's a good thing we don't do this often or all of the hard work put into losing weight would be quickly sacrificed.

Stepping on the scales this morning only confirmed what I already knew. The readout on the scales was going to be a painful sight, and it was! The combination of the large quantity of food consumed yesterday, and the retention of liquids due to the high sodium content in the food, did the damage that I was indeed expecting. Fortunately, I had prepared myself for what would happen and the time it would take to get everything back to normal.

Unlike in the past, I've developed good eating and weight-loss habits and I intend to pick up right where I left off with them. I stayed away from the idea of any processed sugars during our celebration, for I know that is my weakness. Moving back toward less calories consumed and a reduction in carbs is more easily achieved and won't present the same level of challenges.


HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

JANUARY 30, 2021



Happy Birthday!

SHORTING STOCKS

JANUARY 29, 2021



Short Selling

At this point in life, I'm not sure I have sufficient time to recover from any kind of catastrophic stock market crash. That's the reason I'm totally and completely out of the market. I'm quite content with my prospects for the future minus any presence in the market. Even with something similar to a Corona Virus related market crash, I don't think I could be enticed back in again.

Any interest I have in the market these days is purely as an observer, and believe me when I say there is so much to observe! If anyone had told me I would have an opportunity to witness the things I've seen this week, I would have just laughed. It's been so amazing that even the political talking heads have taken a break from the political scene in favor of improving their follower stats by delving into a report on the financial sector.

It's an interesting question. Should the market have rules in place to avoid an unanticipated approach to trading like we've seen this week? That's basically the question at hand. Financial firms that manage hedge funds have also won contracts with firms like Robinhood to oversee their trading and stand responsible for covering the reconciliation associated with each trade until the retail investor takes care of it.

One person might ask, how could they have ever anticipated being held responsible to cover such an unexpected approach to trading? Another view might be that they took it on whether or not they believed anything like this could happen.

It will be another exciting chapter in stock market lawsuits and the battle between retail investors and institutional traders to see how this one plays out.


MORE ON RUNNING

JANUARY 28, 2021



Encounter

It seems like the thing I'm enjoying most about my running these days is mixing it up and doing something different each day. Well, that hasn't really been the goal, but it does seem to be what has been happening lately. After decades, I'm still trying to decide how to keep this running thing interesting - the way it was for the many years that I was training for and running races.

I've been doing 4 milers every day since late last year and the only reason I am able to stay with it is because of the walking segments I've been mixing in. If I tried to run the full 4 miles each and every day I think I would have been in trouble by now.

So, having hit my weight loss goal a few days ago, I'm shifting from a focus on weight loss to weight maintenance. What that means to me is that the drive to burn calories is no longer the priority that it was in the past. And, what that means is that the 4 mile distance no longer seems so important or beneficial - for a lot of reasons!

Combine that with my urge to get back to a more goal driven approach to running (training for and running races) and I decided to drop back to the 3 mile distance today and see what that felt like at a good pace and without walking.

I tried two new things just to see how they contributed to the run. First, I decided to run the 3 miles at a pace where each mile was faster than the previous mile. That means I had to save something for the end without saving too much and running too slow up front. Second, I needed to find a fast pace on that last mile that I could maintain without burning out or injuring myself.

What I discovered was a pace with a full stride that didn't make me land too hard, that also incorporated the kind of speed that didn't have my muscles screaming at me, and that put me right on the edge of not being able to catch my breath, but never allowed me to get there. I was able to find that pace on the last mile and I knew it when I found it! I suspect as I continue to get in better running shape, the pace on that last mile pace will improve!

Today's run included a 9:06 opener, an 8:35 second mile, and an 8:04 finisher, for a grand total of 25:45 and an average pace of 8:35. If I am able to improve my fitness just a bit, I should be able to maintain those times for a 5K.


TORNADOES

JANUARY 27, 2021



Tornados

It seems like down here in the Southeastern United States we've had our own version of Tornado Alley form in more recent decades and up in the northern portion of Alabama in particular.

When we used to live in Northwest Georgia, Patty and I traveled over to North Alabama and witnessed the devastation first hand from the (April) 2011 Super Outbreak that ripped through 19 counties and toppled the Salvation Army Disaster Services vehicle seen above.

Well, here in January and even further south we had one travel through Tallahassee, Florida just before lunch time today and that did damage at the airport, including knocking out the National Weather Service tracking system. I was monitoring the Amateur Radio Emergency Services (ARES) net on one of the Tallahassee Amateur Radio Society (TARS) two meter repeaters as this was all taking place.

I have yet to hear if we had one tornado that was reported upon from multiple locations, or if we actually had sightings of multiple tornadoes. I'll try to update this post if and when I am able to gather more information.

Tornado TA

HEART RATE

JANUARY 26, 2021



Heart Rate

Many decades ago, I had an opportunity to run on a treadmill while wearing a heart rate monitor. If I ran too hard and pushed my heart rate above a safe maximum, the monitor would sound a specific alarm.

On the other hand, if I ran too slow such that my heart rate fell below a good workout tempo the heart monitor would present a very different alarm. At any pace in between those two, there was no sound emitted from the monitor and during those times I could assume my heart was getting a safe and healthy workout.

At that time in my life, I wasn't really interested in diving in deeper to those concepts. I was young, running long distances, and assumed that my heart and I were both healthy and even invincible. But now, still running in my senior years, I'm interested in anything and everything that has to do with a healthy heart.

So, the idea was to better understand the optimum heart rates for cardio activity and see how my heart rates compared during my training runs. I would describe the maximum heart rate (MHR) as the maximum heart rate that should be achieved during a run (with obvious exceptions on both ends of the scale depending upon health and fitness.) To determine the MHR, is as simple as subtracting one's age from 220. My age is 66 so my MHR = 220 - 66 = 154 beats per minute (bpm).

From MHR, I needed to understand what my average heart rate (AHR) should be for a run and consider that my target heart rate or (THR). The THR is determined as a percentage of intensity against the MHR and at age 66 my numbers would be:

LevelTarget Zone % Intensity THR
5MaximumVO2 Max Zone 90% - 100% 139 - 154
4HardAnaerobic Zone 80% - 90% 123 - 139
3ModerateAerobic Zone 70% - 80% 108 - 123
2LightFat Burn Zone 60% - 70% 92 - 108
1Very LightWarm Up Zone 50% - 60% 77 - 92

When I am running in a race (or on a training run where I'm simulating race conditions) I will generally spend some time in each level although the bulk of my time will by far fall in level 4.

As I'm just getting under way, I'm quickly passing through the lower levels on my way to level 4, and with a strong effort I'm likely to finish as much of the race as I am able in level 5.


GOAL WEIGHT

JANUARY 25, 2021



Goal Weight

I finally hit my ultimate low (goal) weight and my beautiful wife asked me what I'm going to do now? My answer was, eat! It just seemed like the right thing to say, LOL!!!

Honestly, I have no idea how to shift from a focus on weight loss to weight maintenance, but I do know that I'm not really interested in trying to lose more weight so I've got to do something to make the shift.

I'm really enjoying the 4 milers so that's going to continue to be part of my daily regimen. I have considered backing it off to 3 miles per day, but as long as I'm mixing in walking segments with my running I suppose I'll stay at the 4 mile distance just to ensure I'm still running at least 3 miles per day.

The focus required to lose weight has been pretty extreme and I'd really like to lighten that up a bit for weight maintenance, but I don't want to change it up to the point that I get lazy with my eating and start gaining weight again. Fortunately, I've been holding pretty steady right above my goal weight for the past week or two so I think I have an idea about what is going to be required.

I know that I intend to stay off of processed sugars and I'm planning to remove a few other unhealthy non-essentials from my diet, (e.g. butter at the table) but I'm hoping to increase the quantity of what I'm eating and find that new level of calories, proteins, carbs and fats that will work with my new goals.

We'll see...


ROBINS!

JANUARY 24, 2021



Robins!

I've long owned the reputation of being an overly serious person. There's a lot more to that, but I'll have to think about whether or not I'm ready to share any of it here on the blog. In the meantime and on a related note...

There is one thing that troubles me about where we live and I always have a good time entertaining my wife with an intentionally overly serious reaction to it. She's so used to seeing me in serious mode that she knows the difference between that and my self-deprecating humor. And, when I'm making fun of myself and going into my hyper-concerned mode, she always gets a good laugh at it. To be honest, so do I - since I know it's a fictional drama based on some level of reality.

Enter the annual migration of the robin read-breasts to our area. Sometimes they only hang around for a few days, but that's still a few days too many for this guy. Other years they hang around for a week or more and this year I think we're already nearing the end of a second week to their overstay. So, why all this concern about a seasonal visit from a harmless flock of these red-breasted critters?

I could blame my concerns on their intentional over-eating before they arrive, but that would be stretching things just a bit. Truth is, I believe that when they arrive they tend to make a huge diet of these holly berries that have just become available in this season of the year. It's clear to me, and I suspect everyone else in the hood, that these berries don't tend to sit well with the Robins' highly sensitive digestive system.

As a result, and if not removed on a daily basis, what these birds leave behind on our cars, decks, and deck rails sets up like concrete, locks in place where a chisel might be required for removal, and includes a natural pigment that is sure to permanently stain any surface upon which these pests choose to make a deposit.

Worse yet, when consulting Google to evaluate the extent of this plague, you can imagine my surprise to discover that these tormentors appear to be protected in their digestive relief activities.


COVID-19 SHOTS

JANUARY 23, 2021



Covid-19 Shots

Yesterday Patty and I got up early and made our way to the Crawfordville, Florida Health Clinic to get round number one of our Covid-19 vaccine shots. We got to the clinic about 8:30 AM.

We were assigned #16 and #17 of what we were told would be a day with 150 shots provided for senior citizens. I guess old age (or as we I prefer to call it - seniority) does indeed have its advantages in some instances.

We walked into a small room where two ladies were situated. One was filling syringes from a bottle containing the vaccine and the other was doing the dirty work, providing us with the shots. To be honest, I've had bug bites that hurt more than the prick from that tiny needle. And in a moment, it was all over.

The health clinic was very clean and the staff was very well organized. After our shots were applied, we were escorted to a waiting area where we had to spend 15 minutes before we could leave, just to ensure there was no unexpected reaction to the shot. Everyone was required to wear a mask, and one of the members of the staff was wiping down the chairs as folks departed the waiting area. I was impressed.

Neither of us had any ill effects from the shot yesterday, but I did wake up with a bit of tenderness right at the location where the shot was applied. In the grand scheme of things, I would say that was a good result!

Speaking of organized, we were handed a card with the date for our second shot (to be applied in just under a month) and asked to arrive at the same time as today's appointment. Patty also was informed that the first dose would provide 50% effectiveness after ten days. It's good to be getting this done and finding out what the new normal is going to look like.


BIKE RIDE

JANUARY 22, 2021



Bike Ride

Yesterday I pumped up the tires on the bicycles and Patty and I took a very enjoyable bike ride. We started right from our front door and rode the 3.66 miles to Shell Point highway - the first intersection on the way back toward town.

When we got to the intersection, we pulled off the road and straddled our bikes just long enough to stretch the legs and give the bottom a rest. Then, after only a few moments, we were back on the road and headed for home.

Much to our surprise, gusty head-winds and cooler weather moved in. By the time we were only a mile from home, it seemed like we were having to pedal pretty hard and making very little progress to show for all of our effort. When we arrived home, the winds were much stronger and it was all I could do to port the two bicycles up to the second level and put them back in the storage rooms.

We both agreed that we've been really missing out on a treat with these bike rides and decided we needed to be doing them more often. Here's to more bike rides!


SPEED TRAP

JANUARY 21, 2021



Speed Trap

Well, for the last night or two I've had some pain in my lower back on the right side. I've had the same pain in the same place before, and more than once. And like before, I've tried to ignore it, but without success.

I also happen to know exactly what causes the pain. It's that darn speed trap that keeps grabbing me when I least expect it.

To get back in shape, as a senior runner and after a break from years of distance running, I was run-walking two miles each day. Then it was three miles. Then it was four miles. Then I was ramping up the speed for four miles. Then I was ramping up the speed some more. I was still feeling good so why not ramp up the speed even further?

Before long I'd completely lost my focus on health and fitness and found myself surprised once again by that darn speed trap, not to mention heading back toward a competitive mode in which I was no longer interested as a senior runner.

The pain in the lower back shows up to let me know that I'm not getting any younger and to remind me there was a reason that I moved away from competitive running in my senior years in favor of running aimed at good health and fitness.

So, yesterday I made some serious adjustments to my regimen and went out for another four miler. This time the primary goal was to enjoy the run and swap the speedwork for a reasonably elevated heart-rate. I also wanted to add more fast- walking back in order to provide the rest segments that make the activity a much more enjoyable experience over-all. I also decided to stay with the four mile distance purely for the higher calorie burn.

An unexpected benefit to this new regimen was that I went ahead and added an 8th walking segment at the end of mile four just so I was doing the same thing on each mile and could better compare the consistency of my pace across each of the four miles.

I was delighted with the level of consistency that I achieved. Including two fast walks of 1/10th mile each and for each mile, the times I turned for each of miles one through four were 10:31, 10:22, 10:35, and 10:35 respectively. I like that kind of consistency and the ease with which it can now be reviewed.

The challenge going forward will be to sustain an adequate over-all pace to keep the heart-rate where it needs to be, and without falling into that darn speed trap!


TWO PLUS TWO

JANUARY 20, 2021



Two Plus Two

Yesterday, I set out on my daily four mile run and decided to shake things up a bit by running 2 miles out and 2 miles back for the first time - all on paved roads and without the usual mile worth of side roads covered with dirt, sand, gravel, and several ditches that tend to slow things down a good bit and require more focus and balance on a run.

Still, and as I feared, the route did indeed seem longer from a psychological standpoint, despite covering the same four mile distance as on previous days. And the strong headwinds coming out of the south pushed harder against me on that open paved two-lane blacktop than it would have on those uneven side roads lined with woods and homes that tend to block out most of the wind.

I walked my typical two .05 mile segments for the first three miles and only one segment on the last mile. I didn't push the pace until the last mile and covered the four miles with a time of 36:59 - slightly longer than it might have taken otherwise. Still, I feel quite comfortable with a 9:15 pace that includes a total of 1/10th mile walked on each of the first three miles. That nets out to about an 8:25 pace for the running segments and I can live with that.

The picture above is pretty typical of miles two and three when I get away from the ocean and run through the St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge.


WILD ANIMAL?

JANUARY 19, 2021



Gray Wolf

A few days ago I was out on a run and had just passed the end of my first mile when I saw an animal off in the distance crossing the road. As I got closer, I was still not able to determine what kind of animal it was.

Initially, I assumed it was one of the many adult wild hogs we have in this area. But, as I got closer it was clear to me that it wasn't a member of the hog family. In fact, based on its profile and the way it strolled across the road, and most definitely in no hurry, I thought it might be a lost German Shepherd.

I got a bit closer before he disappeared into the woods and I was already ruling out my German Shepherd idea in favor of some kind of wild dog. But even then, I couldn't make any kind of identification with any level of confidence.

So, today I decided to Google the animal's description including color pattern and was presented with examples in both the wolf and fox families. It was very clear to me that the animal had legs that were white all the way up to where they join the body and that those legs were more 'dog' like than 'hog' like. Like his legs, the lower portion of his body was also white, but the rest of the hair on his body was definitely a much darker color - almost black.

With the extensive Google search that I conducted, I landed on the Gray Wolf, of which I've provided a picture above. The Gray Wolf most closely fits the image of what I saw although I readily admit I could be wrong.


THE FIRST MILE

JANUARY 18, 2021



The First Mile

Years ago, when I would head out for a run, I would determine the distance I intended to run before I ever took my first steps. I have no idea why I chose to take that approach except to say that I didn't want to allow myself any room to slow down, pause for a break, or quit the run entirely. It was one of those set the goal, and then get out there and achieve it kind of mind games.

Well, back in 2020 and here in 2021 I changed things up a bit with some very interesting results. Of course as I've previously mentioned, I'm combining walking segments with my running. Now when I head out for a run, I start the run, see how I'm feeling, and then determine a plan or a goal - all early in The First Mile. I'm still covering a distance of four miles, but the variables that come into play now involve the following:

  • How many walking segments will I take over the four miles?
  • What will be the distance(s) for the segment(s)?
  • How will I spread those segments out over the four miles?
  • What will be my objective(s) for the running segments?

Today as I got into my first mile, I decided to hold a good pace for the first three miles, take a .05 walking segment at the end of those first three miles, and then I wanted to push my pace on mile four with no walking segments just to see what kind of pace I could achieve on that final mile. In other words, how would my body hold up for mile four if I maintained a pretty good pace on the first three miles?

Now, parts of mile three and mile four combine to provide a full mile of dirt, sand, gravel, and a few ditches instead of the smooth and easy paved road on which the rest of the run is performed. I've tried to talk myself into running out and back, two miles each way, on the pavement; but, I can't get past the psychological hurdle of running out further away from the house. For some reason, it just looks like a longer run despite the opportunity to avoid the terrain challenges.

Well, much to my surprise, even with those three walking segments at the end of the first three miles, I pulled in a new Personal Best (PB) over the four mile distance. And I came away with a very nice time on that fourth mile. In my mind, it really validates the concept of mixing in a brief walk for the benefit to be found in the running segment immediately after.

So, on January 9 I did a four mile PB of 35 minutes and 37.7 seconds. That was running all four miles and taking no walking segments. On today's outing I earned a new PB of 35 minutes and 34.1 seconds. While it was only 3.6 seconds faster, it also included 3 walking segments of .05 miles each for a combined total of .15 miles of walking.

As for the result on mile four, I was pleasantly surprised to turn in an 8:08 pace. I pushed pretty hard on that one. In fact, speaking of 8:08 and looking way back, I also maintained an 8:08 pace years ago when I hit a PB for the Half Marathon distance and won first place in my age group.

Ah, the good old days! :-)


MEAL PLAN

JANUARY 17, 2021



Meal Plan

The title reminds me of Patty's and my college days when we paid for a meal plan, and went to the college cafe two or three times a day, including weekends. Our senior year they installed a sophisticated hand scanner to check us in and then Patty and I made our selections from the offerings of the day. Hard to believe that was 45 years ago!

Well, now we're retired and trying to do what works for both of us with respect to a meal plan. Truth is, I'm the problem. Patty is great at grazing and doesn't seem to struggle with food like I do. I'm trying to go after a plan that helps me maintain my weight in a relatively healthy fashion, offers a reasonable level of variety, and provides enough sustenance to get me through the day. I still haven't had any processed sugar in over seven months and I intend to maintain that commitment, but I readily admit it continues to be a daily struggle.

Fortunately, my wife is a master at making this all work for us and I'm equally fortunate that she puts forth the effort to make this something that I greatly enjoy and that works so well for me. We tend to change the plan every so often, but I'm always optimistic that what we have come up with will work well for both of us.

We buy our groceries from Walmart Online due to the awesome benefits they provide in doing the shopping for us and in loading our car. Patty does a great job ordering for us and even after the pandemic is over, I suspect we will continue to enjoy the services Walmart has to offer since they work so well for us on so many levels.


TRUMP CARD

JANUARY 16, 2021



Trump Card

I'm so glad that I went on the record in yesterday's blog post by continuing to support Trump, and that I did so before receiving and watching the new Dinesh D'Souza documentary, Trump Card. I received the DVD in yesterday afternoon's mail and watched it late last night. I wouldn't want to look back on yesterday's blog post and persuade myself that the documentary had anything to do with what I wrote.

The story of Donald J. Trump reminds me so much of the Braveheart story. It seems especially true when considering the similarities between Trump's opposition and the Braveheart nobles and even the similarities between Trump and William Wallace.

Like William Wallace, Trump marches to his own drum and works quite independently or the influences in the political arena. And similar to the Braveheart story, Trump's power and the loyalty from his base is a threat to friend and foe alike.

While the nobles bicker among themselves, William Wallace opts for action over more talk. He realizes the wasted time and effort that would be required and the likelihood that no solution would come about as a result of all the talk. He also realizes that the nobles serve no real benefit to anyone except themselves as they contend for power and the crumbs from Longshanks table. Sound familiar?

From my perspective, the Democrats have become cynics. They have lied and cheated for so long that they believe everyone involved is lying and cheating and is in it for what they can get, no matter what it costs to anyone and everyone around them.

I give President Trump, Dinesh D'Souza, and many of the Trump supporters more credit than that. I believe they are all human and subject to their own personal challenges or weaknesses, but I also believe their actions and sacrifices suggest that they have far better intentions toward the common good of all.

As such, I'd rather take a naive stand, put my faith in the ones I believe to be true to the cause, and become a victim, than to become a cynic and another thief in the crowd, there purely for my own personal and selfish gain. I willingly admit that William Wallace took the same approach and paid a dear price for it. Still, I believe it was the right thing to do and the only thing he could do.


TRUMP

JANUARY 15, 2021



Trump

I'm going to go on the record and say that I still support Donald Trump and am still proud to call him my President. He called 'em like he saw 'em and for that he found himself sucked into dirty fights with the press, his opposing party, and even with the power centers in the technology sector and with social media, not to mention some in his own party.

But despite all of that, I'm willing to stand behind him purely on the basis of all that he accomplished. And, he accomplished a lot that is well beyond dispute, even if the press has remained silent on most of it.

When I consider a president who is five days from the end of his term in office, and I see the press and an opposing party anxious to squeeze in an impeachment that has no basis in anything other than politics, I believe I have become a witness to the real and unspoken agenda of Trump's opposition. I'm disgusted to see the titans of business use their ill gotten power to effectively silence the president and other key conservatives.

These things should concern us all.


FOOD?

JANUARY 14, 2021



Food

Wow! I can't believe there's so much more to yesterday's topic than the things I wrote about! I focused on diet, weight loss, weight maintenance, and even branched out to things like snacking. But, as I took a deeper dive into those areas today, I found myself in unknown territory asking new questions for which I have yet to discover answers.

Today, I wondered if there might be a reasonable way to get processed sugars back into my diet. I was thinking of something like a weekly cheat meal. Or, how about maybe a cheat weekend ever now and then? Or, better than that, how about a cheat weekend each and every weekend?

Do you see the pattern here? It's one with which I'm quite familiar and even have some experience. Based on previous encounters, it's a proclaimed move forward to that which in reality is a veiled retreat to a past filled with failures.

It's not like me to struggle with tough decisions or even with setting and achieving a difficult goal. But this time it's different. This time I'm considering maintain my new weight, continuing a diet that includes no processed sugars, and doing both on a very rare (life-long!) time frame.

The real question here (to borrow one of my son's favorite quotes) is whether or not the juice is worth the squeeze. Is what I'm gaining worth what I'm giving up? The answer has turned out to be much more simple than I thought.

The answer is centered around whether I choose to be a glass half-empty or glass half full kind of guy. On which will I choose to place my daily focus, the things I'm gaining or the things that I'm giving up? In my heart and in my mind, I know the gains are worth it. Now all I need to do is consider this a settled matter - even if it remains a daily task!


WEIGHT MAINTENANCE

JANUARY 13, 2021



Weight Maintenance

After looking back through my blog, I realize I haven't written much at all about my battle with weight loss and weight maintenance. I specifically use the word battle because that's exactly what it has been. Unlike others, I spend an inordinate amount of time thinking about food. Over the years I've constantly felt hungry and into the evenings went snacking back and forth between sweets and non-sweets.

The only thing that truly turns off my appetite switch is processed sugars and I haven't had anything in that category since June of last year. That means I'm constantly dealing with appetite struggles. But somewhere down deep, I realize I'm most often struggling with having a taste or a craving for something as opposed to really being hungry.

Halfcaf and decaf coffee have been the greatest contributors to my weight loss and weight maintenance success. Of course, it took some time to get used to coffee without sugar, and I don't plan anytime soon to take away the creamer. Still, sipping on those when the appetite bell rings seems to be my best defense in avoiding the constant snacking.

The snacking was with me for most of my life and until I finally decided to do something about it. I was blessed early on with a fast metabolism and as I got older I felt fortunate to be able to carry my extra weight without any appearance of obesity. I've never been over 205 and at 6'2" that extra weight is not very difficult to hide. Unfortunately, it was those very thoughts that I allowed to convince me that I didn't have a snacking problem.

Finally finding a diet that worked for me and dropping over 17% of my body weight since that peak in my weight gave me a real feel for just how overweight I had been in the past. I can't believe I worked so hard to run so many miles over so many years and convinced myself that it provided me permission to eat anything and everything that I wanted. Carrying such a smaller amount of weight has made an amazing difference with my more recent running.

Do I like dieting? No! Does the challenge of trying to do this for the rest of my life seem intimidating? Yes! The good news is that I'm beyond dieting for weight loss and need to focus on a weight maintenance plan since I've reached my target. I need to shift from a target to a targeted range. And, this is all very new to me so I'm going to have to figure what works for me as I pursue this approach.

I must admit that to-date, I've wrestled with the whole idea of leaving the world of weight loss and opting for weight maintenance. The moment I get .2 pounds over my former target weight I go into mental gymnastics and struggle. Somehow, I've got to find a new formula that relieves me of that battle. I suspect it's an OCD thing that I'm going to have to learn to manage. Still, I know for sure that the key to my continued success with be to do the same thing that got me to this point - measure!


RECOVERY RUN

JANUARY 12, 2021



Running Recovery

Three days ago I made my first 4 mile run with no walking segments. It was inspired by the cold and windy weather and my motivation to warm up and stay that way during the run. Well, I did get warm but as I recall I was already in the fourth and final mile when I got to that point.

So two days ago, and the day after that four miler, I decided to focus more on recovery and took my max walking segments. That means I walked seven segments and covered .10 miles on each segment over the full four miles. It felt good, but honestly not necessary for a full recovery. I basically made myself take a recovery run just to ensure I was not over-training.

Well yesterday, and the day after that recovery run, I certainly had no intention of running the full four miles, and didn't. However, with shorts and only a long sleeve shirt and ball cap to protect me from a relatively cool day with a light breeze I found myself running most of the four miles again. I walked a .03 segment in the third mile and a .05 segment in the fourth mile.

The big surprise for the run was that I turned in a 35:49 four miler, which was only 12 seconds slower than the 35:37 PB turned in on the aforementioned first day where I ran the whole thing. So, the average running pace yesterday was actually faster when considering the .08 walk and a difference of only 12 seconds. If I recall correctly, a .10 walk takes a full 90 seconds.

That means an .08 walk should take 72 seconds minus the aforementioned 12 seconds of additional time, which means my overall running pace was approximately 1 minute faster or roughly 15 seconds per mile faster. That nets out to an 8:39 per mile pace. Not bad and a bit of potential proof that walking segments can actually contribute to an overall faster pace. The big take-away was the recovery speed. To come that close to my PB, and done after only one recovery run, was a big surprise!


FLU SEASON

JANUARY 11, 2021



Flu Season

Sometimes it seems things that should be obvious are not actually that obvious, at least not to me anyway. I'm not really sure what brought the question to mind, but I wondered if all of the preventative measures people are taking for Covid-19 are minimizing the effects on what would otherwise be a typical flu season.

I shouldn't have been surprised at the answer, but I was. I suppose I was actually more surprised that the question hadn't occurred to me any sooner. But, according to the typical tracking that takes place during a flu season, we're way down according to the data that has been collected to-date.

According to the CDC, Influenza activity is currently low in the United States and globally. The CDC also indicates that the percentage of U.S. respiratory specimens submitted for influenza testing that tested positive decreased from >20% to 2.3% and has remained at historically low interseasonal levels (0.2% versus 1–2%). Data from Southern Hemisphere countries also indicate little influenza activity.

There's much more information available on this CDC webpage.


A NEW PR

JANUARY 10, 2021



A New PR

In mid-December of last year, I moved my training distance up to 4 miles. I had already taken on an approach to mix running with walking, with just enough walking to help me sustain the running, so adding the extra mile was not an unreasonable change to my regimen.

With the wind and cold temps yesterday, I decided to run until I was just too tired to keep running in the hopes of building up some heat and seeing how long I could last. The good news is that I never really got tired enough to walk and I never really generated too much heat until about the last mile. I peeled off the hoodie and the gloves and that cooled me down just enough to run the rest of the last mile comfortably with sun glasses and a knit cap pulled over a baseball cap.

I was breathing pretty hard as I got into the third mile and the push on that fourth mile definitely left me sucking some wind! When all was said and done, I managed to finish all four miles with a 35:37.70 time and an average per mile pace of 8:54. That's a PR since it's the first time I've ever run a four miler. My average heart rate was high at 147 as was my max heart rate at 172. Based on the 4 miles with my pace and my current weight, my Garmin clocked me in with 540 calories burned.

I ran an 8:27 on mile 4 which makes me believe that I could drop that overall pace of 8:54 for four miles down a respectable amount for a 3.1 mile 5K distance. I still haven't decided if I want to go back to 5K races, but I'm sure I don't want to even consider it until the Covid-19 vaccine has had plenty of time make the rounds.


MORE ON RUNNING

JANUARY 09, 2021



Garmin

I love how my Garmin Vivoactive 3 smartwatch gathers so much data about each of my runs. I've mentioned it several times in previous posts. But one of the things I've also mentioned before is the challenge of tracking my pace for running and walking when I mix both on the same event.

The challenge comes from having to remember and process a large set of rather complicated data that comes from either the walking or running portions of the event and having to do all of that during the event. Well, yesterday I hit a point where my distance and the time both landed on a nice whole number and both at the same time. As such, I decided to take advantage of the situation and quickly made a mental note of the two data points.

I was well into my last mile when it happened which further reduced the number of data points I would have to commit to memory. On my smartwatch, the distance hit 3.6 miles at the same moment my total time hit 35 minutes. I realized that my run would end at 4.0 miles exactly and my watch would record the finish time so all I had to do was recall the 3.6 miles and 35 minutes to calculate a per mile pace based on the numbers from those last 4/10ths of a mile.

As it turns out, I hit 4.0 miles and my watch recorded a 38:36 pace for all 4 miles. The calculations on those numbers yields an 8:35 per mile pace for the last portion of the last mile. That's good information to have for future runs since I now know what that kind of pace feels like.

With a big push, I could probably eke out that pace for a 5K. In fact, I might even be able to shave a couple of more seconds off of my pace, and I'm quite sure that would leave me pretty well spent.

I've trained at a moderately easier pace running a 10+ for my first mile, two 9+ miles for my second and third miles, and an 8+ on my last mile. The difference in each mile basically results from the amount of walking I do in each. That's why I'm optimistic I could turn in a respectable time if I cut out the walks on a 5K.

Oh, one other thing. Half of mile 2 and half of mile 3 are covered on more difficult terrain, so it's possible that I might even be able to make up some time there as well on a street based 5K. My best time on my current course is 36:38 for four miles and even that included a little bit of walking, so it would be interesting to see what time I could turn in on a legitimate 5K road race if I didn't have to contend with a large crowd.


POLITICAL STUFF

JANUARY 08, 2021



Political Stuff

I took a stab at writing about the state of things here in America and was not at all comfortable with the results. What I wrote didn't even come close to representing what I feel. It's probably a topic I should avoid, but I'm going to go ahead and give it one more try.

Voting for a president because he or she looks and acts more Presidential would not even occur to me. I honestly cannot understand how anyone can cast their vote in that direction. I'm voting solely for a party platform irrespective of the person who has been nominated to serve at the helm. That's why I voted twice for Donald Trump.

Like others, I had some serious doubts about his political abilities. And like others, I was pleasantly surprised to see him defy expectations and actually accomplish what I thought were some very positive achievements for our country, despite his otherwise highly questionable behavior, especially on Twitter.

Did I think he had to fight the press on the entire journey? Absolutely! Did I think he had to fight a very angry base for the opposing party? If he didn't, he certainly had to fight a very angry radical element for the opposing party. However, the attack on the capital proves that our radical element is just as problematic for us as theirs is for them, so I find it difficult to address any radical behavior on either side of the aisle.

Do I think the nomination and ultimate election of Trump was somewhat a knee-jerk reaction to the then current behavior of politicians on both sides of the aisle? Yes! Do I think he was qualified to make good business decisions for our country? Yes! Do I think he was a strong communicator and qualified to handle himself well on the nation's (and world's) political stage? No! And, I believe that was the thing that led to his ultimate political demise.

Do I think voter fraud occurred in the 2020 election? Yes, but I have not seen any data that would lead me to believe it was significant or widespread enough to affect the ultimate outcome. Of course we'll never know on that one, but I would be hard-pressed to defend against the same claim being made by the opposition with respect to earlier presidential elections.

One thing is for sure, I do not envy Biden and the Democrats for what they face in the next four years. And neither do I envy the rest of us for the potential political, economic, and cultural changes that are likely to result.


TAX SEASON

JANUARY 07, 2021



Tax Season

Speaking of seasons, tax season is approaching. Every year about this time, I pull out the printer/copier/scanner and get it all set up and tested in preparation for scanning my tax documents and submitting them electronically.

We left Georgia and arrived in Pensacola, Florida very early in 2014. Fortunately, my taxes had already been filed in Georgia since that's where we spent 2013.

However, when tax season rolled around in early 2015 for the 2014 tax year, I went looking for a new agent at H&R Block, where I've always had great success. Once again I found a winner and I've been with him since - even though we moved away from him and to a different part of Florida almost four years ago.

I'm grateful to Stephen for his attention to detail and thorough approach. The almost 250 miles between us has just not been an issue. We're both still in Florida and H&R Block's electronic filing system really suits my style and needs.

Stephen did a great job in obtaining additional funds for us due to benefits he found and that resulted from Hurricane Michael's visit close by. There won't be any Hurricane tax benefits to be enjoyed this year, but that's a tradeoff you'll never hear this guy complain about.


SEASONS

JANUARY 06, 2021



Seasons

Seasons come in all shapes and sizes. There are seasons of the year, seasons for sports, seasons for hunting, and down here on the coast we even have seasons for hurricanes.

There are also the seasons in our lives that God gives us. There are seasons of waiting, seasons of struggle, seasons of service, seasons of joy, seasons of mourning, and the list goes on and on and on.

With the passing of Patty's mom, we have just closed a busy season of service in caring for her in our home, and I'm doing my best now to support Patty in her season of mourning for the loss of her mom.

Out on the horizon, I can see an approaching season of joy for Patty and I as we turn our focus back toward each other. I'm trusting there will be rich years ahead of us as we dive deeper into our relationship with each other and as we engage in and enjoy the seasons ahead with our children, their spouses, and our grandchildren.

Lord, thank you for your seasons!


MORE RUNNING STUFF

JANUARY 05, 2021



Windy Running

After a 5 day unplanned break in my running schedule, I got in a 4 miler yesterday and another one today. It felt great to be back on the road despite the chill that came with the strong winds today. Of course it doesn't take much of those 4 miles to warm up the body and do away with any concerns for the wind chill.

In fact, that wind chill tends to put a pep in my step and has greatly assisted in turning in a much more respectable time on those recent (and wind-chilled) runs. In fact, it's been really interesting to see that the faster early miles push me to finish strong and, as a result, the past couple of days my fourth mile has been my fastest of the four.

Even with all that we still have on our plate after Martha's passing, it's been a real blessing to see Patty's strength, her ability to keep up with everything, and to also see her jump back in on her training regimen.

I'm such a blessed man to have her in my life!


COUNTLESS MIRACLES

JANUARY 04, 2021



Countless Miracles

I need to share a bit of the backstory here to sort of set the scene. God's been working on me for some time now and it's been a rather unusual experience, unlike anything I've ever experienced before.

I attended Sunday School and Church at various points while growing up and even had experiences that were clearly God-ordained and anointed in the sense of a picture of the things still to come in my life.

Finally, in 1973 and at the age of 18, I gave my Life to Jesus Christ. And for some years thereafter, I was the epitome of the Proverbs 19:2 Christian. I had the zeal, but I didn't have the knowledge to support the things to which I was committing and to make sense of it all. I observed the wonderful benefits and blessings that so many seemed to enjoy, but I had no idea that a commitment was required and that there might be an associated system of beliefs that was involved.

Sometime in the very early 1980's I made some changes and took on a more academic approach to Christianity and my relationship to Jesus Christ. It was a big step in the right direction. Becoming grounded in the Word of God became instrumental to my walk with God. But in recent decades, and even in recent years, I've still struggled.

What I discovered was that an academic approach will only carry someone so far. At the end of the day, there is still a faith element involved. And the Christian walk can become very dangerous if we believe academics has provided us with all of the answers as I once did. It won't and it can't because there is always going to be that looming element of faith that is required while we walk with God here on earth.

And with that, I realized that academics without faith was cheating me out of the real power found in a deep and abiding personal relationship with Jesus Christ. It was cheating me out of the ability to join Christ where He is working as Henry Blackaby suggests, and to witness the countless miracles He was performing right before my eyes and on a daily basis.

In Martha's struggle and in her passing, I saw the countless miracles God was performing, just like those mentioned in the Book of Job. I saw God answer our prayer and stop the rain (2 times!) so we could travel safely on our 40 mile journey each way between our home and the Big Bend Hospice.

I saw God answer Patty's and my prayers to remove the burdens and worries that plagued Martha with fear about the prospects of dying alone and uncared for.

I saw God's concern for Patty's burden in caring for her mom and His attention to releasing her from that burden.

I saw nurses, doctors, medical staff, hospice staff, EMT's, volunteers, and even funeral home staff care for us in a manner as if they felt called by God to do so. Perhaps they were, but either way, many miracles were involved!

Before I became a Christian, I was one of many who saw other Christians and said, I Want What They Have! And, with the passing of Martha, I witnessed so many who reached out to us, loved us, and who cared for us while we were on this portion of our journey. It is for them that I say:

Lord, I Want What They Have! I want to be more like them! Help me Lord to notice the hurting during my day and to reach out to them. Help me Lord to care for them like these people cared for me and like you care for me.


RUNNING STUFF

JANUARY 03, 2021



Run 1720

If you've checked in here recently, you might have noticed that I had made some comments about blogging changes in 2021. Despite my plans for those changes, life (and even the weather) took me in a very different direction over the past several days.

As for the weather, the rain gauge maxed out at 5 inches yesterday and the heavy rains continued to fall for several more hours on into the evening. It all ended sometime late that evening, but I have no idea what the final total was in our area. What I do know is there was no running window amidst all of that rain. Add to that the cold and gusty conditions today and it all made for a slow start for running in 2021.

I checked into one of the local ham radio nets yesterday where one particular radio operator reported 11 inches in the area where he lives. I don't think we hit that mark, but we got more than enough rain to cover us for a long time.

The rain, combined with everything else going on, put a stop to my running program. It was quite a challenge to step aside from running for 5 days, especially when considering that I wanted to finish 2020 strong and provide for a strong start to 2021. The good news is that I've been doing 4 miles per day for a good while and that should serve me well with bringing in a strong total for 2021 if I can keep it up.

On another strong note, I hit a new low today with my weight, measured against the past 40 years. In June of 2021 I removed all processed sugars from my diet and began what turned out to be a 10% reduction in body weight over the last half of 2020 and a 17% drop over-all in 2020.

The change has been exciting and quite motivating, despite the challenges associated with breaking old and horrible eating habits, not to mention a terrible addiction to sugar. With less weight, I'm running better and stronger than I have in a very long time and I'm considering venturing back into the world of 5K races. We'll see about that one...

The only real challenges that remain are to 1) decide what my long-term target weight is going to be, 2) develop a weight maintenance plan to maintain that target weight, and 3) come up with a plan to make it all a life-time commitment.


THE CALL

JANUARY 02, 2021



Pic

Patty and I had only been in bed for four hours when he phone rang. I woke slowly while realizing Patty had accidentally hung up the phone while attempting to answer the call, and was trying to call back.

We both knew what the call was about and I reached over and put my hand on her shoulder as she returned the call. After a short phone call we were up and getting dressed to return to the hospice.

Patty's mom had passed at 2:05 AM and we were praying for a break in the heavy rains as we prepared to head down the stairs to the car and travel back to the hospice. We did get the break in the weather for which we had prayed, and arrived back to the hospice around 3:15 AM.

We spent time with Patty's mom and provided the staff with the requested information and then made our way back home. By then, as one can imagine, we were fully awake and considering the monumental number of tasks that lay ahead.

In our efforts to plan ahead and be as organized as possible, Patty and I had already composed several to-do lists and were starting the tedious and tiresome job of packing Martha's stuff and notifying all of the appropriate individuals and organizations. We knew we had a season in front of us filled with to-do's and were preparing mentally and emotionally for the days ahead.


HOSPICE CARE

JANUARY 01, 2021



Hospice Care

The New Year arrived without fanfare and I made my way to the hospital to be with Patty as she awaited the discharge orders from the hospital and the transfer order over to the Big Bend Hospice there in Tallahassee and just a short drive down the street.

We found out it was a very busy day and that our transfer was scheduled for some time after lunch. Patty and I knew that could be anytime on into the late afternoon and waited patiently. We were notified that the transfer had been finally scheduled for 5:30 PM and anxiously awaited the move.

5:30 PM came and went and due to a series of snags it was 8:30 when we pulled out to travel over to the hospice. The rain had been pouring down and continued to do so as we drove over.

We finally located the correct building and made our way inside to see Martha. We waited while they bathed her and decided to get a coke and some crackers while we waited, since we had missed supper while on standby for the transfer. When they invited us back, I must say that they had done a wonderful job of preparing Martha for our visit. I remarked to Patty that her mom looked like a china doll in the beautiful setting and with the light that was being cast down from the ceiling.

After the bath, Martha seemed to have settled in pretty well and didn't seem to be breathing as hard either. Despite the pouring rain and the 40 mile drive each way Patty and I decided this might be our best opportunity to drive home and catch a shower and a cat nap before getting up early to return to the hospice.

We got home, showered, and were in the bed by 10:15 PM.

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