Rearview Mirror

Behind me, not too far back is my start, or more accurately, my restart. It is so close that with a mere glance I can catch sight of it in my rearview mirror.

The step-off did not begin with my foot hesitantly lunging forward down the driveway and onto the street. That came later. Instead, it started with frustrations sprouting from many directions, mental sparring that convinced me that something had to be done. I had done it before, and I can do it again.

The problem was, I was running out of daylight at my age. It had to be now or never, and never just rang hollow for me.

But the decision to jump off the starting line came with the sun still sweltering here in the Vegas Valley, my favorite times of the year governed by temperature, and that was the mid-seventies and down. Any hope of a plunging temperature was still many weeks away, so I turned immediately to my caloric intake and my inherited rowing machine.

There was within my calorie consumption a major hurdle.

I was a latecomer to my coffee love of heavy cream, having spent most of my adult life drinking it black. But when I first indulged in the flavorful richness of cream (heavy, no light stuff for me), it was coffee heaven. And over the years, I drank it with impunity, giving little thought to what it was costing me in terms of an expanding waistline and a heavy hand on my health.

Of course, I still love it today, but I do so with a measured, limited approach. Even at 65, it is never too late to start making better choices.

I realized that my coffee habit was out of control and needed to be severely curtailed if I was going to have any hope of success. So, reluctantly, I put away the cream and started to drink coffee black, a biting, bitter, nostalgic reminder of that old days and I realized, that while I will never give the cream up entirely, for the time being, black would be just fine.

In a note of full disclosure, I have come back to cream in a very limited capacity, brewing each Keurig cup of Italian Roast with the brewer’s smallest drink size and measuring out just enough cream to give me the taste that I desire while managing to keep things under control. (Better than nothing!)

Apart from my heavy cream issue, I selected 1700 calories as my daily allowance, with a focus on better quality food and better choices, even in an environment of rising food costs.

Then, of course, there was the course of physical action I would take, waiting for the Sun to be a little more forgiving. We have in our home, one of the cheapest magnetic rowing machines available. We bought this for my wife who, in the past, found rowing to be a great exercise for her in the past at the gym. But with her own health issues, primarily related to her back, it was pushed to the corner and ignored.

Eyeing this contraption, I set it back up and climbed aboard. It had nothing in terms of bells and whistles, and it was so low to the ground, I immediately understood my wife’s struggle with it. After a little experimentation, including finding the right cadence of songs to listen to, I was soon rowing away contently, working up a sweat, while pulling the oars at 22 strokes per minute.

So my journey back began back in September, with a starting weight of 290 pounds hanging on my 74-inch frame.

But as for my progress, I will not track the details through my posts, only mentioning them here and there. Instead, I will devote to details to a separate page which will be going up very soon.

So enjoy your journey as you read through mine. Many of us have a lot of work to do.

Starting Again

It is obvious by the title of this post that I have been here before.

I was a late bloomer when it came to running. I was 53 years old, and in less than great health, though at the time I didn’t realize just how poor my health was. I was carrying around 320 pounds of hamburgers and hotdogs of which 100 pounds rapidly disappeared over the course of the first year as I hibernated in the athletic club and soon after took up running.

I really didn’t know anything about running and fitness, putting myself on a rather strict caloric diet (eating just about anything, but much of it processed and not good for me) and becoming friends with the stair-climber, stationary bike, and the treadmill.

The Life Fitness 95T (This was the panel I stared at for countless hours until I finally got the courage to get outside and start running.)

A great treadmill, but boy was I glad to get out into the fresh air. I never looked back.

But in spite of my ignorance of all things fitness-related, results began to show. As the weight loss resisted but eventually fell, my running time and distance, first on the treadmill and then the great outdoors began to climb. Even today, though it has been a dozen years or so ago, I can still remember the feeling of elation and accomplishment I felt as mileage markers fell by the wayside. The first times that I ran one mile, two miles, three miles, and so on were just as thrilling as when I first ran ten, twelve, and twenty miles. As the total miles ran began to stack up, I really fell in love with running.

But it couldn’t last.

The impact of the economy in 2010 and the loss of my job, forced us to look elsewhere, to look north. Our move to Oregon came at the encouragement of my sister and soon, we were out of the Las Vegas desert and into the plush green farmland of the Willamette Valley. There we remained for the better part of a year before making our move to the coast. My running continued to thrive in the farmland. The addition of the farmland, the cows and goats, as well as all of the trees, pushed me on. My running, quickly acclimated to the new surroundings, and once again, I felt the love of running.

But then a leg injury occurred and a move to the coast. The narrow highways, the strong winds, and the nearly constant horizontal rain dampened my running desires. Getting laid off again also weighed heavily as I was forced to enter an entirely new field, requiring more and more of my time.

The running stopped.

The pounds came back with a vengeance.

A discovery was made in the process. I was a diabetic. Great.

Jump ahead a dozen years or so, and I find myself starting again. Though I am a dozen years older, I realize that I am a bit wiser than when I was running before. I am better equipped to handle my nutrition and keep all my numbers in check, literally driving my diabetes into oblivion.

Looking back into the past, I read magazine articles, and books, and watched all sorts of movies and videos when it came to running. I did it for inspiration, I did it for motivation. One of those early books was, “The Courage to Start,” by John “The Penguin” Bingham. It was such a great help and I embraced it fully, becoming an early penguin runner myself.

Now, at 65, I am also even more comfortable now running a pace that is my pace. So I embrace my penguin-hood, less interested in my pace (though I know that as time goes on, it will improve, at least somewhat), focusing instead on the joy of the run and my goals of running farther than have ever run before.

My restart has included rowing as a staple of my exercise and I am slowly bringing in dumbbells and kettlebells into the mix. I am exploring leg and body strengthening exercises to help with my endurance, cadence, and speed. But mostly, I am enjoying the run, thankful that at my age, and after all these years, I have already penguined my way through more than forty miles in my first month. I thank God for it.