Saturday, December 19, 2009

The feeling is mutual...

Well, it's snowing outside and I feel a little lazy today so it's time for baking Christmas (or is it Holiday) cookies and finding my soapbox. Yes, it's healthcare again that is on my mind. I guess that since I am not dating anyone right now, I spend too much time watching MSNBC and C-SPAN and I get caught up in public policy debate. The more and more I think about it, the public policy thoughts are probably the reason why I am not dating right now (I know, healthcare mandates and Medicare expansion are so alluring, right?). Anyway, here we go...

If we look to insurance as a sustainable model, premiums that are paid in should, over the long run, equal claims paid out. The cost of operations is covered by investment earnings on accumulated premiums. Thus, by including lower risk participants to the insurance pool, accumulated premiums are higher and investment earnings are sufficient to cover administrative costs and even expansion of the business. I am therefore puzzled, confused, some might even say be-fuddled why health insurance companies need to be in the public equity markets. The dual masters of insurance company management (policy holders and shareholders) lead to inefficient delivery and care decisions first driven by quarterly earnings results and quality care second. Healthcare is so vital to quality of life that the customers should not and cannot be separated from interests of ownership of the insurance company itself. Therefore, the insurance model for healthcare needs to follow some of its compatriots in the life insurance field. Health insurance companies need to be owned in a policy holder mutual company format.

Mutual companies align the interests of policy holders and ownership by allowing the policy holders to OWN the insurance company. Any excess profits can be returned to policy holders or held in reserves for future claims. Policy holders also have a say in management of the insurance company on an equal footing with all other policy holders. Overall, the company is capitalized of the policy holders, by the policy holders and for the policy holders (sorry Mr. Lincoln). This gives patients an ACTUAL VOICE in their care.

"Nice Adam, how do we do this?" you may ask. Well, we can vote with our feet. By flocking to providers who are mutuals, we can develop policy holder investor pools to align interests between patients and carriers. Legislation will, of course be necessary, but we can create a force that can be heard.

I realize this is short on details, but the concept of aligning interests is essential to long term sustainability. I will add more details over time, but for now, that is all I have to say about that.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Back in the saddle...

After the holiday week in which I only ran on Thanksgiving morning and the afternoon following that (I only got in 12 miles over the week) and taking all of last week off (worked out of town two days and was buried in the office the rest of the week), I finally got back to work this morning. This was monumental for me on two counts... First, I usually like to ease into the morning and secondly, I expected any workout after a week off to be utterly disappointing from both a progress as well as pain standpoint.

I usually get up early in the morning (5-ish) and like to start the day with NPR and some strong coffee. Getting to the office by 6 and settling in HAS BEEN my routine. It does not usually include movements other than bowel, so working out in the morning was a little bit of a shock to the system. I made sure that I was wearing my sweat pants to keep body temperatures up and started out with a quick quarter mile just to get the blood pumping. Then, about 40 minutes of PT (calesthenics (?) and stretching - 120 crunches variations, 6o push ups, 100 jumping jacks, etc.) and finishing up with an easy 3 mile jog. After all of that, I can say that I felt okay. Also, my time on the road was pretty good, even though it felt like I was really taking it easy. I got the run in under 9 minutes per mile; not very far, but good time nonetheless.

You will note that easing into the morning HAS BEEN my routine. I realize that this is only the first day, but I think this will work out pretty well for me. By not being afraid to try something new; kind of like meeting new people and being open minded, I found that a change in my routine was not as bad as I thought it would be. Anyway, tomorrow is 5 miles and a 1.5 mile swim. Wednesday is PT and lifting (circuit training to shock the system), Thursday is PT and 4 miles, Friday is 10 miles and Saturday is lifting, PT and swimming. Sunday I sleep. New things aren't always good, but I won't know until I try them. Excelsior!!!!!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Hard Work and Commitment

Coming back into the world after being lost in my own little personal "hell" has been exciting, frustrating, challenging and has given me the opportunity to start over; atone for some mistakes and finally take the steps I need to take in order to be the person I want to be. One of the reasons I am in training is to maximize my physical well being so I can enjoy being Adam version 2.6 for as long as possible. The problem that I see arising every now and again is that mentally, I need to keep focus on the few things that I can control or have a positive impact on or I will just end up dwelling on things that are not healthy for me (taking my eye off the ball at work, slacking off with training or still dwelling on relationships that are dead but have not had proper burials as of yet). When I lose focus, I start to go back to my old ways of wanting things now and assuming that nobody understands where I've been; so I cut them off. Now, there is one little change in how Adam version 2.6 deals with that lack of focus.

The big change for me, now, is that I recognize when I lose focus and when I feel sorry for myself, those moments pass quickly in part because I have finally begun to see small steps of progress at work and in training. My perspective has changed and I have gotten to a point where I don't feel I need to go to another funeral where I will be the only person there since I was the only one who really cared, anyway. Overall, I am working on my sense of humor (see most daily F.B. postings), staying positive and doing some teaching at work. As such, I am strengthening the relationships that really matter to me and building a personal and professional network that is truly supportive of me. At work, they want me to be the comeback player not of the month or the year, but the comeback player of the DECADE! That kind of support means the world to me. Improving my time on the road is also driving me forward (averaging 8:45 over 30 miles this past week). May 1 is not that far away and I am hopeful that the weather holds out (got some wet flakes while out on the road on Thanksgiving) so that I am not spending too much time running inside.

Anyway, I also want to thank you all for reading my missives. You folks are truly what I am thankful for and help me to focus on what is important so I can get down to the hard work I need to put in to meet the commitments I have made to my friends, my family and most of all, to myself.

I promise future ones will not be so heavy. Light schedule this week (30 miles, calisthenics and yoga due to being out of town and all). Anyway, thanks again!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Things are looking up

The past two weeks have kept me off the road. Out of town work, inclement weather and to be honest, just plain laziness have kept me from being consistent in my training. There is no excuse; but the big challenge for me was getting started again. I guess that's one of the things that exists when the payoff from effort is slow in coming. The only way that I can get time off my pace and burn off the beer tire is to keep working at it day after day. In this world of instant gratification, not to be confused with self gratification, patience is a rare commodity. Perseverance when the payoff does not come right away is sometimes difficult and the abandonment of goals looks less painful when the work toward goals begins to seem like drudgery. The key is to look at the fork in the road and then ask the hard questions..."sure, I'll won't have to go out on the road and freeze, but I still have to answer to myself and the folks who I committed to. I'll even have to quit my blog (how can I write about marathon training when I don't train?)" The same thing applies to life in general; for me at least. There is stuff that I want now (repaired friendships, success in business, a real sense of peace with no un-finished business) and I can say that I have actually hit rock bottom in trying to push some things forward; done really stupid things lately and all it has done is pushed things back rather than forward. I was tired of waiting for a response and I screwed some stuff up when what I really needed to do was empathize with others and understand where they were coming from. In the words of one of my teachers..."Patience, young Jedi".

That situation hit me in the head with a board; so I decided to get back in alignment. I recommitted myself to my path both for training and other aspects of life. I got back to looking at long term goals and finding happiness or at least satisfaction in making small, incremental progress toward goals. [PLEASE NOTE, I BELIEVE THIS WORKS FOR TRAINING AND RELATIONSHIPS, NOT REFORMING HEALTHCARE. INCREMENTALISM IN HEALTHCARE REFORM IS UNACCEPTABLE]. Anyway, the weather broke last night and so I went back out on the road. I set no expectation as to time and just ran comfortably. After doing little if any work for almost 3 weeks, I got on 7.7 miles in 69 (my favorite number) minutes! Friends also reached out to me last night to see how I'm doing! I guess the thing that I needed to realize is that I set a foundation for success (previous training regimens, consistent reliability with friends) that leaves me little ground to cover to get back to a positive position in life. Work is still ahead of me (I have to burn off 1 minute per mile, keep being a mensch (one thing that will take concerted effort, the other that comes naturally)) and all will work out positively! The new shoes helped, too! 25 miles this weekend. I'll report on Monday! I'm moving to a new place in Monday, too!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

A little out of rhythm

Well, just a quick note. I have been working out of town most of this week and only got in five miles last Monday. I get back in town at 9:00pm each night and so that leaves me little opportunity to run or lift; especially given that most days are as draining as my interaction with "Art" (see below) leavingf me with little energy as well as a shortage of time. I will pick things back up this week (maybe train in the morning) and get back on the road. I hope I have not lost much in the past two weeks between my cold, work, setting up the new office, still working on building communication lines with people I have not seen in a long while, hiring and firing and trying to acclimate myself to my new community.

Speaking of trying to fit in my community, I finally got up the nerve to ask somebody out for lunch in a non-business environment this week. I got turned down, but we both feel okay about my asking for a date. I am sure that there will be several more turn downs from several other women before I see any success in that area of my life, but I have no burning desire to date in a hurry. I felt nervous and all and a little out of rhythm; kind of like a teenager again. Like the running, I have been out of practice for a while and it will take a little time to get back into a successful rhythm. I think this is the area in my life that I am most insecure about, but I have a new sense of confidence in who I am and I am using that positivity to attract good people around me.

Anyway, more practice is ahead and the training (both running and communicating) will have its own successes and failures. I look forward to both sides of the coin. 35 miles this week!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

There but by the grace of ...

I have been humbled. Now, I have been humbled before; by someone smarter, stronger, better looking (I know, hard to believe), wittier (again, I know, hard to believe), but this time I have been humbled by the grace and perseverance of a simple man. I tell you that this event has deeply moved me and will be a touchstone for me as I move forward through life.

I work for a company that, among other lines of business, helps low income families obtain federal, state and local grant funds to make much needed repairs to their homes. Homes even include manufactured housing. Our major clients are operators of mobile home parks. During our applicant intake today, I had the opportunity to meet "Art". Art is a very nice man, early 60's, but is illiterate. He has a CDL license and was fired from his job because he could not write his route in his log book. He could not spell the name of his delivery stop or the people he talked with. He has run out of unemployment assistance, receives some disability assistance and while his pick-up truck is paid for, he has no other assets, save for his 35 year old mobile home. He came in to get more information about the programs that may be available to him. I sat with him and helped him fill out his application. The gratitude in his eyes said it all... This man was all alone. When I say all alone, I mean ALL ALONE. His only friend right now is the beer bottle. The fact that I took just a few minutes with him was probably a more positive experience that he has had with anotherhuman being than he has had in a long time. While he was putting together information for me, the property manager came to him and handed him a 5 day notice of eviction for non-payment of lot rent. Here is a man who is looking for help and will probably lose his home if he does not come up with the $500 in rent that he needs to pay by the end of next week. He obviously cannot afford to move; it costs over $5,000 to move a mobile home. He accepted the eviction notice in stride and said he would do what he could. I saw all of this happen and I started calling local agencies who might be able to help. Every one of them that I talked to had already spent all of their assistance funds. I only had one other hope and their phone was busy so I just suggested to Art to go down to the agency and try to speak with someone. Again, the gratitude he showed for only 5 minutes of work on my end was incredible. It was not fawning gratitude; he was mildly embarrassed, but he worked with me, we made sure he understood the directions and he went on his way to the agency with a lift in his step. Did he get there? I'll know in a week or so. There is a real chance that he just went to the bar, but the gratitude he showed for me just investing time to help, again, was humbling.

Which brings me to my point... We all want people to bring themselves up by their own bootstraps, but too many people do not even have boots. As a society, we are judged by the circumstances of the least of us. I am not calling for people to contribute money; there is not enough to go around and it is too scarce these days anyway. I am asking people to contribute time and energy. Do not give people a fish, help teach them how to fish so they can eat for a lifetime. I ask you to trust me on this, the return you will get by knowing you helped someone; not by investing financially, but with something more valuable, your time, will be well worth it. It has a much higher multiplier effect than giving someone money, as well. I guess it's kind of like paying it forward. And so, I ask you to please, love one another. You will find that it's really worth it because especially in these troubling times, none of us are that far off from Art's position.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Somebody has to do something; it's just incredibly pathetic that it has to be us.

First off, my apologies to Jerry Garcia. It's just where my head is today. I believe life is what you make it and if it is not turning out the way you want, it is your own repsonsibility to make changes that work for you. For me, I have found that in order for me to make things work in my life, the key is to be positive, open minded and caring of others. That's why I am working out, running and doing my best to keep doing crosswords and keeping up on current events. By covering those simple bases, I can feel good about myself (both mind and body) and only measure my progress against goals that I set for myself, not by how anyone else is doing. If there are things I don't like that are going on around me, I can use the positive feelings I have about myself to have the confidence to provide suggestions to resolve the issues. That does not mean that I have all the answers (see being open-minded, above); what it does mean is that if I am not part of the solution, I am part of the problem.

Delays in resolving things, blaming process and just saying no are to me, unacceptable responses to issues that require being addressed. I am sure that if people actually took the time to understand the other person's point of view, we could come to compromise that everyone can walk away from the negotiating table feeling good about the resolution. By getting past personality to the actual issues at hand, work can actually be accomplished. By letting things fester over time, conditions will only deteriorate and more roadblocks are erected to coming to consensus just because of resentment for the delay. By only saying NO because you want to exert some kind of authority you believe you have only weakens you and again, builds resentment. By listening to the other side and seriously taking their concerns into consideration and by doing your homework in order to develop a well reasoned, cogent argument, the whole (blending of ideas) can become greater than the sum of the parts. Life does not need to be a zero sum game. Politics does not need to be a zero sum game. Man is a social animal and he/she is really, truly successful when he/she collaborates for the good of the many, not just the one.

So, to that end, I will ask all of you who spend time on Facebook, My-Space, etc. to also take some time and get involved. E-mail your representatives, Senators, President, Governors, etc. Don't just say "Yeah, I agree with you! or You idiot, get out of office!" Do your homework and become part of the conversation. Democracy is really hard when you get down to brass tacks. It requires the citizenry to be involved. Don't settle for the 15 second sound byte from EITHER SIDE. Listen for logical arguments. Better yet, become part of the conversation at home. Respect each other's opinions and if worse comes to worse, you will agree to disagree; but at least it will be a more lively discussion than just watching another hour of Big Brother or Real Chance at Love II.

It's been bad weather and I have been recovering from a cold. So, no running, but I found my soapbox, again.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Turn the page

As we have discussed, I have found that my times when I do an outdoor run by myself suffer. This may be due to a series of things; no one to pace me, my mind wandering (trying to deal with things I have no control over), waiting for traffic lights to change, etc...There are two ways to deal with this phenomena... Never run outside (I can't imagine getting 20 miles in on a .2 mile track, 100 laps! and we all know how I feel about laps) or join a running club; which I am doing today. The Second Wind Running Club in Champaign has been around for over 20 years and they have all kinds of training opportunities, races and social events throughout the year; wow, social events! I guess I am starting to connect myself to the community and meet some folks. I will still do some of my long training solo (they don't have a program of marathon training beginning until January) but some of the shorter (3-8 mile) stuff I can do with their group during the week. I will also join my first organized trail run since the Lompoc Half Marathon (2:09:45, by the way) on Sunday at the Allerton Park Trail Run (5.5 miles through the woods and beautiful gardens; I'll try to get pictures).

This is part of my taking the steps to connect with people in real life rather than just virtually through the internet. I have a great network of friends, but they are cast to the winds all over the country; or shall I say, I have been cast to the wind, and landed here. I treasure e-mail and network sites like Facebook because they help me keep connected. However, the problem with virtual connectivity is that it drives being home-sick and feeling a sense of isolation. I miss my friends terribly and sometimes, seeing pictures or having e-chats just makes things worse. These are just aches and pains of change and not un-like training injuries, need to be dealt with; recognized and treated, but not dwelled on. If I just dwelled on them and did nothing about them, that would just make me no fun to be around; and trust me, I'm a fun guy, really! Also, it makes an easy excuse for why days may not go by as well as I hope. Blame it on being here, away from my support group! Sometimes, I would feel pain that comes from nowhere; pain resulting from a phantom injury, or a relationship that really never existed. Well, even though it's tough to start moving, like those first few hundred yards of a training run early in the morning, once I get going I see that Newton was right; that a body in motion tends to stay in motion and I can get going again; both on the road and in general. I see that those phantom pains are just that: phantom. If the injury; even the heart break, results from something that never existed, then it is just a problem with perception. It was all in my mind and it was never real. In some cases, something that I thought I had (ankle sprain, glute strain, committed partnership) never was. When shown that those things never existed, x-rays, exams, documents, etc. it helps me fix my perception and to move on to better training methods and choices in life, in general. Things like running clubs, new shoes, stretching and reaching out to new people in close physical proximity to me will help me reach my goals (3:30 in the Illinois Marathon, less stress and having a local support group).

The fantasy was fun, for a time; it gave me something to talk about, but it never really was. By realizing that, I was able to drop some of the weight I was carrying on the run and had a great one last night (6 miles with some hills at a sub 9 minute pace). And so, we turn the page...

Monday, October 19, 2009

Aches, pain and muddling through

29 miles this past week and being back for the first time since my ankle/foot/achille's problem, I have set a new base line; at least when it comes to running. On a completely flat track, I can average pretty close to the pace I need to follow to reach my goals. Once I get outside, terrain and no one else to pace me leads me to slow up a little so I need to improve my internal timing. Today, after the 11 miles on Sunday and almost 7 on Saturday, I've got a few aches in the legs (hammies and calves, mostly); maybe I'll get a massage this week. The aches and pains are just part of the training process; no pain, no gain, right? 30 miles this week starting tomorrow, so I'll recover today and do some lifting and ab work tonight. It's interesting, to me at least, that the more I keep the upper body involved in the mechanics of running, the easier it is for me to move on down the road. So, I need to keep building the upper body in order to get in best shape I can for running. I guess that in order to make progress, it takes a complete effort, not just a half---ed approach.

Which brings me to other aches and pains. I have been trying to build and/or re-build relationships with people who I believe are good for me in the long run (no pun intended), but I have been making no progress. I have put so many lobs into their courts with no returns that I would be surprised if they can even see the court surface (playing court metaphor, not legal court example). It feels as if I am running at too slow a pace, as is often the case when I go out by myself on a road run with no one to pace me. One of the reasons I run better inside on the track is that I have other runners to pace myself against and there is a clock on the wall that helps me keep focus to reach my goals. I feel I need to go back to my coaches, the ones who are looking out for me, to let me know if there is a problem with my relationship training regimen; or if my goals are truly in my best interest. By going back to their guidance, I can help build my core so that I have the strength to put forth full effort into putting a life together and not just searching for old pieces to fit a new puzzle. If those old pieces fit, great! If they are not meant to be a part of the new me, then I need to drop the futile effort of forcing pieces where they do not belong. This forcing of pieces is painful and difficult, especially when it comes to my heart and mind (I ache and lose focus). I hope to find out very soon if these pieces will ever fit into the puzzle. Maybe then, regardless of the answer, I will be able to stretch out my stride and not hold myself back (pun intended).

That's the problem with running by yourself; too much time to think and getting distracted from the real goals. I'll have to join a club or find a running partner. Who knows, there might be the right pieces there! I'm all verklempt now, talk amongst yourselves; I'll give you a topic... In the Flintstones,was it Gina Lollabrigirock or Gina Rockabrigida?

Friday, October 16, 2009

Going nowhere; not that fast

Last night, the weather was not that great; low 40's and misting. I was tired of running the track at ARC, so I decided I would try the treadmill. I had seen any number of runners really enjoying plugging their headphones into the consoles and watching TV or listening to their MP3's while they careened on what seemed like an endless loop to nowhere, so I thought I would give it a whirl. My headphones are on the fritz, so until I get new ones, I decided I would run and just look around. After about the first half mile, after I had finally figured out how to get the treadmill at the most comfortable speed, I was cruising along and it finally hit me... I don't get the point of treadmills. Maybe not enjoying the full "treadmill experience" (not being "plugged in" to the TV) kept me from fully savoring the total lack of feeling the wind (or at least slight breeze) through my hair while I ran, the entire absence of change of scenery (at least on the track, the view changes every now and again; which in and of itself does not compare to road running) or maybe it was just the whole "hamster-essence" of the experience that put this at pretty close to the bottom of my training options.

But after thinking about it a little more, I started viewing running/training as metaphor for life (Why not? It's more than just running.). Maybe my reaction to the treadmill represented something deeper. I want to keep moving forward. If I put in the effort, I want to see some results; distance covered, sights seen, things accomplished; not just a lot of sweat and not getting anywhere. It has seemed that in putting my life together, lately, that I have been on a treadmill; lots of effort with no real traction. The challenge for me has been that while I have seen a change in me; a real positive development in who I want to be while not discarding all the good stuff that has always been a part of me, I am the only one who has seen it. Some have not seen it due to distance, some due to not wanting to see it because of pain I had inflicted in the past, some not wanting to see it because they just did not want to put in the effort. Again, a lot of effort with no measurable progress. The treadmill of life...

However, now that I have discussed the grey cloud, let's look at the silver lining. The work on the treadmill helped me maintain an 8:30 pace (within :30 of my goal), so I was able to keep up on my speed. Likewise, I can see that the work I am putting into other areas of my life will pay off when it pays off; in its own due time. In both areas, it has to do with consistency of effort and being flexible. I need to keep running, but weather is bad and the track is crowded, so go use the treadmill. I feel I need to keep trying in my relationships, but I am getting little or no response; so keep trying, send letters, continue to do what I say I am going to do. In both scenarios, I am faced with situations that are not optimal, but I make lemonade out of my lemons. With patience and humility, I am enjoying my lemonade and I also like the guy I see in the mirror.

By the way, when I got done running on the treadmill, I was not sure how to turn it off, so I kind of jumped off it and ran into the elliptical machine behind me; almost twisted my ankle! I think I'll stay off it for a while, anyway.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Quick update - More when the week is over.

3 miles tonight - all sub 8 minutes. The big tests start this week.

6 miles Wednesday night - 8:00, 7:57, 7:58, 8:09, 8:23, 8:39 - all averaging out to 49:09 (8:11.5 mile pace) If I can keep it up (pace fell off at the end due to a glute strain), I'm close to 3.5 hours; I only need to replicate this run 31/2 more times... WITHOUT STOPPING! 3, 6 and 11 still to go this week. Thursday, 3 miles on the treadmill (8:30 per, taking it a little easier) Friday is a day off!

Saturday's run was 6.7 miles out in the Heartland. Weather was sunny and brisk. 9:15 pace (a lot of climbing compared to the track). Tomorrow is 11 miles.

Sunday out and about around Champaign. 9:40 pace; I know I was supposed to go easy pace, but this was a little too slow. I need to pick it up a little.

This week - 3,6,3,6,11 - 29 miles (24+49+25.5+55.5+102 = 255 minutes or 4:15)
10/19/09 - 3,6,3,6,12 - 30 miles (24:45 (outside), 48:50 (oustside & dark),
10/26/09 - 3,5,3,6,9 - 26 miles
11/02/09 - 4,7,4,7,14 -36 miles
11/09/09 - 4,7,4,7,15 - 37 miles

It will also include at least 3 runs per week outside - average temp - 45 degrees, good running weather. It's serious now.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Hopeful Signs

I did 3 miles on Tuesday between the track and elliptical (averaged about 9:15)

Wednesday was 5 miles on the elliptical at an average of 10:00/mile

Last night, 3 miles in 25:44 (8:35/mile) all on the track and today I can walk! A few aches, but no material pain. A lot had to do with my posture, kept my head up and used my upper body to move around the track. If I can use that similar type of attitude (keeping my head up), I'll be optimistic about other aspects in life (running as metaphor).

5 miles tomorrow, 6 on Sunday. I'll let you know what happens. Now, if only things elsewhere in my life had the same type of positive response. This time, I'll be sure to take it slow so as not to re-injure my foot; or my heart.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

How soon we forget...or want to...

Well, last week I talked about how my right foot was ailing. I took the week off, walked wherever I needed to go (on average, I got about 3 miles a day) and still worked out. The foot would ache every now and again, but it was not too bad. Yesterday, it felt pretty good. So I said to myself, "Self, let's try to get 3 miles on in a run after the arm work out (you know, do the curls to get the girls)". So after feeding my ego, I decided to rush in with abandon to getting on 3 miles. I thought, shoot, I've been running 22 miles a week, so this should be easy. The first mile went by at 8:14 and I'm thinking "I'm back! Woohoo!". Then at a mile and a quarter, a shooting pain comes from just ahead of my heel and runs right up the Achille's tendon and right then, the 3 mile run was over. Being open-minded, I decided I still needed to get my miles on so I went to one of the elliptical machines and kept going. I got 2 more miles at an average of 9:20 and my foot did not hurt at all. With my long history of medical training, ("I'm not a doctor, but I play one on TV"), I came to the conclusion that the issue is not a soft tissue injury; I probably have a stress fracture in my foot and will have to do the next couple of months of training on the elliptical machine since the foot cannot take the striking the track or pavement. It's a good thing the elliptical machines have TV's and MP3's with headphone jacks. Come February, I'll get an X-ray to see if I can still compete.

Why am I talking about this? Well, it was symptomatic of my mindset this week. I figured that if I got a little positive feedback, I could forget all about real issues that were still needing to be addressed. Like my foot, I took a little positive feedback I was getting in trying to re-build a relationship and probably pushed too far too fast without first dealing with the issues that still needed to be addressed due to a "path of destruction" that I had left in my wake over the past few years. I made some pretty good progress when our conversation came to re-living the mistakes I made. I listened, took responsibility for my failures and offered to atone and assist in what ever way I could to help build a new foundation for a relationship. The old me would have said "That stuff is in the past! I've changed! Trust me, love me now!" Now, I honestly express my feelings (probably went too fast in expressing them, but it was the first time we talked in a month), looked to her to lead the conversation (the old me would have bossed things around) and I really, truly empathized with her situation. Like my training, I will be dealing with this relationship by accepting current conditions while still working to move things forward. Like not being able to run 3 miles like a gazelle but still getting the miles in a little differently, I won't be running (metaphorically) into open arms (or legs (ha ha)), but I think we made steps toward sharing a cup of coffee or meeting for breakfast (eggs benedict this week, ykw).

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Just because I want it to be a certain way does not make it so.

The best laid plan of mice and men... I had hoped to get good miles in under my belt this week and Tuesday I got 3 at 9:20 per and I had a good 7 mile run at 9:27 per. Then, my achille's heel and foot decided NO MORE. A debilitating pain would run through my foot whenever I would even think about moving it started late Wednesday night and continued through Saturday morning. I was able to move around with a significant limp and it feels a lot better today, but since I still have about 7 months to go, I am going to take this week off from running. I'll try to get 2-3 miles a day walking back and forth to the U of I athletic center to do lifting and maybe some stair master/stationary bike, but NO RUNNING. I guess this is another reminder of my being a little too optimistic having reality come up and hit me in the face...

This brings me to my next physical failing... I had to get reading glasses this week! Heavens to mergatroid, NO!!!!! I have not been to an optomitrist, just got them at the local CVS, but the fact that I had to get eye help flies in the face of 46 being the new 35! Oh well, I'll just use them to read things and look contemplative/distinguished and stay in pretty good shape. I am taking in stride changes in circumstances (eyes, longer recovery time to recovery, social relationships, etc.) and am working hard to accept things as they are and make the best of things. Now, if only other people would just do the same.

Which brings me to the continual decline in the level of civility shown in our public discourse. Democracy is one of the hardest forms of government because it demands participation from all of us. Now that works when people care and want to take the time to understand issues (18th and 19th centuries), but it centralizes power in a world where the guy with the biggest soap box wins, regardless of the voracity of his arguments. Democracy requires, nay I say DEMANDS, people to leave their egos at the door and to have an open mind to differing points of view, as long as those different points of view are anchored in the reality based world. It is ridiculous to expect that the administration (the Bush administration) can have an energy summit without including the Sierra Club and consumer groups to help forge a long term solution. How can the Democrats actually expect to get health care reform through without bringing insurance companies, AARP, small businesses and healthcare professionals to the table? Then, when people do not get their way, cries of Death Panels, Government Employment of Doctors and Rationing (all bald faced lies) fill the airwaves. Honestly, we all agree that these things (energy, healthcare) are issues and that no one has a monopoly on all the good ideas (well, I do, but that's a discussion for another day), but we need to look at fact based solutions to our problems. In some ways, it would be better to have economists in Congress than lawyers. Economists (monetarists and fiscal doves, demand siders and supply siders) often look at things a little more impartially if the math and thought process is logical.

I guess what I am saying is that you can't govern a nation of 300 million people and be the leader of the world by living by the 15 second sound bite. What once was reasoned debate has turned into political parties saying NO just because of who proposed the idea. And that helps no one. When people defend their right to spread lies (birthers, tea baggers, etc.) by wrapping themselves in the 1st amendment to the Constitution, no one is helped. In the long run, Beck, Limbaugh, Savage and the rest will be proven for the traitors of truth that they are. The problem is, America won't take the time to actually find the facts. Again, Democracy is hard. The re-set button that Rep Boehner is talking about with respect to health care should not be to scrap work that has been done, is should be to re-set the divisive rhetoric. Once we can respect each other, truly respect each other, then we can get to work. That's my soapbox.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Rain, Laps and Week 2 Thoughts

Week two of training is in the books and I got about 21.5 miles covered. Daily schedules screwed things up so I was not able to, scratch that, did not follow the training program as strictly as I would like to (see, I'm taking responsibility for myself). Instead of doing 3,5,3,3,9, I did not run on Tuesday or Wednesday, so I did 7.5 miles on Thursday, did not run on Friday, so I did 6.8 miles on Saturday and since I already ran on Saturday, only got a little over 7 miles done on Sunday. Pace was okay (9:30 range), but I need to pick it up some.

Yesterday's run was fun, it started out misting a little bit, but after about 2 miles, I got hit by some isolated showers and got drenched. We have been having a "dry spell" and it was good to get some rain. It was nice, it was a reasonably warm rain and so I did not get too sweaty. There are two things I really enjoy doing when its raining, and both of them revolve around exercise. One is running, the rain helps to keep things cool and the other, introduced to me by a dear friend in Northern California, ...well, let's just say that it's nice to through the windows open and listen to the rain while "working out". Anyway, the rain helped me to get my best pace of the weekend (about 9:20) and there wasn't too much traffic on the streets since the Bears game was on. Saturday, I ran out in the Heartland, among the corn and soybean fields and it was nice to feel the solitude and listen to the cicadas and the tempo of my footstrike. Thursday was from downtown to campus in a big loop to try to keep down the monotony.

Which brings me to my next thought...LAPS. I believe that the only thing laps are good for are dances. The more the merrier. However, when running, especially distances, laps are bad; even with a band. The temptation to stop before being completely finished with a circuit is too great when you are trying to run 10 miles by doing 3-31/2 mile laps. That's what happened yesterday. I wanted to get the 3 laps done, but after I got done with two and with the ankle hurting a little, I said "screw it". When I am on a big loop, I can't stop in the middle because I still have to get back home and psychologically, that keeps me going. From now on, I am going to plan out longer loops so I don't end up with doing laps and that will take a decision point out of the mix.

Now I said something above about the ankle hurting and I guess my achille's heal is really my Achille's Heal in my training. For about the first half mile or so, it ends up killing me and then the pain just goes away until about a half hour after the run is over. Then, I can hardly walk. I think this stems from chasing a cat around my house and an injury I suffered about 3 years ago. I knew that chasing that "cat" around too much would end up causing me problems. Well, I will do some more calf raises, etc. to be sure that I can get more strength there.

Not much else to discuss today. Glad to see decorum and comity come back to Congress and Washington as a whole. Might say something about politics this week, too. When running, the mind can wander and you can really think about things. I can even convince myself that I have profound thoughts. But enough about dry spells, rain exercise, lap dances and chasing cats, I need to focus on something more positive; more attainable goals right now! I could still use a leg massage, though... This week is a reasonably easy week: 3,5,3,5,6. I'll be sure hit all of the days appropriately. Still lifting, too!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Since I did not run yesterday, I found my soapbox.

I was thinking to myself, "Self, what is it that drives medical costs?" The answer was clear to me... Sick People drive medical costs. Well, sick peple and surprises. If we can cut down on sick people and surprises, we can probably drive down the cost of medical care and related things like medical mal-practice suits/awards. So, anyway, let's look at the American Healthcare system and come up with a real solution, not just forcing a square peg through a round hole with the current mish mash of healthcare offerings going through Washington and hand them a real solution. Thus, I present to you Be Well America.

The Be Well America Healthcare Plan revolves around being, well, WELL. The leading drivers of health care costs have been people not following a healthy lifestyle and not letting medical professionals know about their history. As a case in point, I give you the comparison between two major hospitals and their per patient day cost of services. The Mayo Clinic in Minnesota treats many severe and complicated cases; as does the UCLA medical center. The Mayo clinic incurs a per patient day cost of approximately $58.00; UCLA costs $98.00. The main difference between the two is patient intake. When someone goes to Mayo, they are referred by their primary care physician and come with a detailed medical chart explaining what is wrong with the patient. The primary source of patient intake at UCLA is the Emergency Room. Staff has no idea what is wrong with an ER walk in without undergoing a huge battery of tests to not only find out what the problem is, but to also cover the hospital's backside to be sure they don't make any mistakes. This problem needs to be fixed!

How do we fix it? By following the old wives! You know, I'm not sure who these women are, but they are pretty darn smart. If we follow the old wives' saying that "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure", we can start driving down healthcare costs. By having a long standing relationship with a primary care physician; or at least portability of electronic records given today's mobile society, a lot of the guess work can be taken out of the mix. So, how do we build doctor patient relationships? First, provide economic incentives to graduate more primary care physicians. Low interest loans, tax credits, SBA loans to establish practices and grants to put a doctor in underserved communities. Also, hospitals need to move specialists to being salaried staff rather than piece work body mechanics. Doctors are provided bad incentives when they get paid by the operation or procedure rather than a regular salary. Second, get people to go to the doctor. Since it appears we are stuck being the only healthcare system in the world burdened with the insurance industry, provide real Health Maintenance Organization coverage to every man, woman and child that is legally here in America. An HMO system as they were originally designed will set out recurring doctor appointments and offered programs to encourage healthy lifestyles. Insurance companies love recurring visits; if patients stay healthy, profits increase. That's a lot better than sying no all the time. Third, provide the citizenry with financial incentives to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Make health-club memberships tax deductible as long as you can show proof that you are going to the gym. Get a tax re-bate of a portion of your insurance premiums for maintaining good health (lowering blood pressure and cholesterol through lifesyle changes, not medication). You can even get a credit for buying the Wii-Fit game. If the American People can take responsibility for themselves, which they have shown an ability to do over the years, they can do their part and NOT BE A VICTIM! GET UP OFF THE COUCH AND PUT THE SUPER SIZE AWAY! GO FOR A WALK EVERY DAY!

What, on top of living healthy lifestyles and maintaining a relationship with a doctor and your records needs to be done? Well, let's look at the insurance industry: Health insurance is the only form of coverage that I know of that you fully expect to use. Car insurance is there if something un-expected happens, homeowners insurance is there in case of a fire, life insurance, beyond just being a forced savings account is there in the case of an un-timely death. Health insurance is used to spread timing risk and subsidize people who don't take care of themselves. The only problem is that health insurance companies, being driven by the bottom line, think that risk management revolves around saying no. By having commercial insurers handle the HMO, regular care levels and letting a "public insurer", not an option be the major med carrier we can have real risk management in the major medical arena. This will drive down insurance costs by paying lower HMO rates to insurers and by havving a non-profit carrier handle the really big stuff. The goal of covering everybody leaves doctors and hospitals competing for patients, not for insurance carriers.
These are a few thoughts, by developing and maintaining records, fewer mistakes will happen, thus fewer lawsuits. By maintaining healthful lifestyles, we will see fewer chronic health issues; as well as raise healthier children. We don't need government to take care of us, we need to take care of ourselves and have Uncle Sam be there, to quote my godfather, "in the dawn and dusk of life". That's all I have to say about thaaaat.

Monday, September 14, 2009

First Weeks Stats

First week down, 7 months 3 weeks to go!

Tuesday's 5k - 29:39.89 - 9:15 pace

Wednesday's 4 miles - 36:02.55 - 9:01 pace

Thursday's 2.5 mile walk - 33:00

Saturday's 4.5 miles - 40:14.02 - 8:55 pace

Sunday's 8.21 miles - 1:19:02 - 9:37 pace

Did weight lifting Monday, Wednesday and Friday (All upper body: Chest, Tri's, Back, Shoulders, Chest again on Friday and Biceps). Week 2 is 3,5,3,3,9 (totalling 23 miles for the week) (Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday)

Coming back down to earth.

Well, here I was, all excited about my pace on Saturday and then I had the route measured more accurately. I did figure I had to have something wrong in my timing of my miles, so we got dad's car out and drove the lap to see what the old Cadillac odometer had to say. What I thought was 5 miles was more accurately 4.5 miles, bringing my per mile pace to 8:50, not 8 minutes. Now while a little depressing, this is more realistic and since I have committed myself to living in the reality based world, I truly have some work ahead of me. I ran the 8.21 miles last night in 1:19:02 (roughly 9:37 per mile) and that's okay , because my long runs I want to run at a slower pace. Progress is slow. The shorts did not speed me up and so, as I said Saturday, I need to be patient; keep working at it. As you can see from the picture, I need to work on time and burning off the residue from 30 years of beer drinking. However, the abs are starting to show up. Also note the big bump on the right shoulder. Dislocated it when I got drunk and tripped over the pool toy box back in May of 2007. Oh Well, I'll add healthcare two cents this week.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Was it the shorts that slowed me down?

Well, today's training called for me to run 5 miles at race pace. We all recall that was at about 8 minutes per mile. I figured that it was going to take me a long time to get there, especially for the full 26.2, but I just got some new running shorts on Thursday that did 2 things: 1) they were much lighter than the ones I got on the Central Coast (they had a really bad selection where I shopped) and 2) they don't make my butt look big. I got the 5 miles done in an eye-popping 40:14.56! That 8:03 per mile! The fastest was the third mile at 7:46 and the slowest was the second at 8:18. It was pretty warm out and the shorts were a lot lighter than my other ones, so that coupled with breaking in the new shoes may have got me to what I hope is a natural pace for me. I warmed up by mowing the folk's yard and then I went out to run 10 laps on a 1/2 mile circuit that had a gradual 500 yard incline and a more precipitous decline over 200 yards. This is pretty similar to the Illinois Marathon course, so hopefully, I won't be surprised as training goes on. I'm stoked about the results today! I just need to not get too excited; patience is the key.

Speaking of patience, I need to slow down on something else. The real estate market is good from a buyers perspective and I have always liked "New York" style apartments in brownstone buildings. Well downtown Champaign is really turning into a hopping place and there are a number of nice units within walking distance to the West Side Park and nightlife all right around $100K. I can afford that, I just need to be patient and get the finances a little bit more in order before committing to something; especially if I am not entirely sure how long I will be here. I want a lot of stuff now, but by my telling you all that I recognize that I need to slow down, I can't say I did not think about it. Almost 30 good days in a row, I don't need to screw that up now.

I said I would post pictures about my training. Took some today and will add to the blog on Monday (technical issues). Hope to get rid of some of the stuff on my sides without resorting to micro-lipo. I'll track progress over the months. 8 miles tomorrow; I could sure use a leg massage.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Some things I've learned early on

Whenever I set out to do something, I lay out some goals. Get good grades in school, get projects done well and ahead of schedule, be good in whatever I do. Well, for my run, I would really love to finish the marathon in under 3:30. Not much under 3:30; 8 seconds under would be plenty. 3:30 is the time I would need to hit in order to qualify for the Boston Marathon; not that I would run it, but it would be nice to know that I could if I wanted to. So I then figure out that I need to average, I repeat, average right at about 8 minutes per mile. Now that might not seem too fast, it's twice as slow a decent miler (not a record holder); but it came as somewhat of a rude awakening for me. You see, I average about 9 minutes per mile when I run distance and to sustain a pace 11% faster than that is going to be a challenge. I can run one in less than 8, but 26.2..., let's just remind ourselves that I have 8 months to get there. I am going to push pace up a little bit so I can make progress toward it.

I said yesterday that I allow myself some treats every now and again and my Dad bought lunch today and I must say that I have been to the mountain top... of pizza! The Papa Del's deep dish pan pizza with extra cheese, sausage and mushroom is in my opinion the best, absolutely the best pizza known to man. Now I have been to New York, lived in Chicago and lived on the west coast and I can tell you that you can have your thin crust, your Uno's, Due's, Gino's, CPK and even Lou Malnati's. I will go to Pop's for pizza or no place at all. Garlic and olive oil crust, big huge chunks of sausage, a liberal application of great sauce and some fine mid-western mozzerella, uhhhhhhh, Papa Del'sssssssss. I used to eat it all the time went I went to school here, but it's been 15-20 years since I had it and it's better than I remember. All that was missing was beer (I can find Moylan's double IPA on tap here, yes here in the midwest), but we already talked about that yesterday.
Anyway, 4 miles in 36 minutes last night at ARC. I saw some of the One's speech and have some thoughts on healthcare, but that is for another day.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

And so we begin...

Well, yesterday was the first day of training for my first marathon. You might say "Adam, why run a marathon?"; shoot, I've even asked myself the same thing. After explaining to the others in the coffee shop why I was talking to myself, especially in the third person, I became a little philosophical about it. I wrestled with the old standards of "to prove something to myself and others" and "because it's there" and "for my health" and I finally realized that it wasn't any of those. It was all of those things and more. I ask you to virtually join me on this endeavor and I'll be able to tell you about how it's going, how things outside of running have effected training and how easy or difficult it might be for you if you want to try it... So anyway, in the words of Jackie Gleason... "And awaaaaay we go!"

First let me be clear. I am not training for one marathon. I am planning to run 3 races next year. They will start with the Illinois Marathon in Champaign on May 1, 2010, then the Napa Wine country race on October 25, 2010, ending with the Redding Marathon in Redding California in January 2011. I am doing an 8 month training plan that will allow me to peak around New Year's 2010 and then build back up in time for the May race. I am not going to go on any crazy diets. I'll just eat a balanced diet with a few weaknesses (coffee, cheese, etc.). There will be no major carb loading, no overdoing it on junk, but I will fall to a few treats every now and again. I'll couple the training with a normal 50-60 hour per week office job, a moderate weight lifting program, dealing with normal life issues, putting to bed some old relationships and starting new ones all under the watchful eye of a lot of interested people. After 994 bad days in a row, I've strung together 30 good ones. I hope to keep the trend going. To quote a famous runner, "That's all I have to say about thaaat."

I will track changes in my physical, emotional and mental conditioning through this process. I'm starting out in pretty good shape. I ran a couple of half-marathons this summer in the 2:04 - 2:10 range, did some weight lifting and got my body fat down to less than 8%. I haven't been drinking heavily like I used to; especially since that could land me in a lot of trouble and the fact that I usually do really dumb things when I drink too much (you'll see my dilocated shoulder in a picture I'll post this week).

During my running this past year, I have used training as a sort of meditation; first concentrating on putting one foot in front of the other and "feeling the running" and then moving toward clearing the mind of clutter and addressing issues on a one on one basis as they came up in my mind. I originally thought I could not meditate and run at the same time, but it's kind of like patting your head and rubbing your stomach simultaneously, all it takes is a little practice. I have also asked myself ... (here we go again with the talking to myself) "Self, is running a manifestation of your wanting to run away from things, your problems?" I think of it more as a way to find my "happy place" to be alone (even though it is not too happy a place to be when you start cramping up at mile 8). Nobody is really interested in bugging me when they say "I want to talk" and I say "Great, let's go over what you want to talk about while we are on this 10 mile run!"

All in all, I think this training program will help me most of all in being patient. Being in my situation, it's natural to want things to happen in a hurry. Training for a marathon is not supposed to be easy and it's not supposed to happen fast. It will take dedication, hard work and a little creativity when the wind chill gets to 20 below. That discipline will also be needed for me to succeed in other parts of my life; to grow into the man I want to be. I'm 46, but feel like I'm 35 and still have a lot to do, so I'm getting at it!

I'll post each week a recap of the last week of training and periodically post pictures of physical progress and discuss changes in my physical shape, as well. My challenge there is to not lose the gains I have made in back, chest and arm strength. We'll see how it goes. Anyway, as a wise man from Oak-town told me "Don't talk about it! BE about it!" and so, we begin...

Start - September 8, 2009

Age - 46yrs. 5 months Weight - 189 lbs Body Fat 7.8%

Last night's 5k - 29:39.89 Easy pace