FEEL THE HEAT!

Some LIKE it hot? NOT!

FEEL THE HEAT

Some like it hot and some sweat when the heat is on
Some feel the heat and decide that they can’t go on
Some like it hot, but you can’t tell how hot ’til you try
Some like it hot, so let’s turn up the heat ’til we fry

Feel the heat pushing you to decide
Feel the heat burning you up, ready or not

(Lyrics from the song ‘Some Like It Hot’ by The Power Station – 1985

You may have heard it said about a person that they were ‘not worth their salt’. This phrase refers to the practice of paying Roman soldiers partially in salt. Salt was an expensive commodity because it was scarce in the ancient world. This salt money payment given to the Legionnaires was called ‘salarium’ and our modern English word salary is derived from that.

Roman soldiers used salt to help prevent muscle cramps from dehydration, and this is why ‘some’ people still think taking salt tablets is a good idea. Maybe if you were living back in the nineteenth century or earlier.

The chemical name for common table salt is ‘sodium chloride’ but when athletes sweat during extreme exertion and in high heat conditions, what they are really losing in their perspiration is electrolytes. Electrolytes are types of ‘salts’ which include not only sodium and chloride, but potassium and calcium as well. They are electrically charged minerals and compounds that produce energy in our bodies and allow our muscles to contract. Physical performance is affected by both the loss of electrolytes AND water! Low electrolyte levels will cause muscle cramping. Severe electrolyte imbalances can cause serious problems such as coma, seizures, and cardiac arrest.

Electrolyte pills should ONLY be used by athletes during extreme workouts and  long distance runs, especially during periods of high heat and humidity.  

Likewise severe loss of water (dehydration) can kill you! Water is one of the seven vital nutrients that our bodies NEED to survive. 

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There needs to be a balance of the electrolyte and water content in our bodies.  This is regulated by our kidneys. The kidneys remove wastes and extra fluid from the body, producing about 1 to 2 quarts (liters) of urine daily.  

Urine should be clear or a lightly tinted yellow color. The darker the color of your urine, the grater the level of dehydration.

Summer Running

Athletes need to train in order to improve their physical performance. Training schedules need to be strictly followed to get the most out of the training effect . Bad weather can delay training by a day or two AT MOST, but skipping entire weeks will undo everything you are trying to accomplish.  If you are training for a fall marathon, you will be running 3 to 4 days a week, all summer long, probably in high heat and high humidity. At least one of those weekly run days will be your long run. Yes, it’s going to be hot during the summer. So logically, you are going to be hot, sweaty, tired, and thirsty towards the end of your workouts, and especially during those long runs. The average person sweats between 0.8 to 1.4 liters, or 27.4 to 47.3 ounces per hour of exercise. (That’s equal to roughly one to three pounds of body weight.) You need to replace that fluid loss!

The general rule of thumb for fluid consumption during runs is: Take in 4 to 6 ounces of fluid every 20 minutes. Runners running faster than 8-minute miles should drink 6 to 8 ounces every 20 minutes. You may need more, you may need less, but it is of the utmost importance that you listen to YOUR BODY! Everybody is different, and EVERY BODY is different.   

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Heat Exhaustion VS Heat Stroke

You may at some point experience some symptoms of HEAT EXHAUSTION, you DO NOT want it to become HEAT STOKE.  HYDRATION IS CRUCIAL!

Heat exhaustion

Symptoms

  • headache
  • dizzy or fainting
  • heavy sweating
  • cold, pale and clammy skin
  • nausea or vomiting
  • fast, weak pulse
  • weakness or muscle cramps
  • excessive thirst

What to do

  • Hydrate with water or sports drinks. No alcohol.
  • Move to a cooler, air-conditioned place.
  • Lie down.
  • If fully conscious, sip water.
  • Take a cool shower or use cold compresses.
  • If vomiting continues, seek medical attention.
  • Act quickly. Untreated heat exhaustion can progress to heat stroke.
  • Remove tight fitting clothing or extra layers.

Heat stroke – a medical emergency

Symptoms

  • headache
  • confusion or delirium
  • may lose consciousness
  • no sweating/dry skin
  • hot, red skin
  • nausea or vomiting
  • rapid heart rate
  • body temperature above 104° F

What to do

  • Call 911. This is a medical emergency.
  • Move the person to a cooler place.
  • Use cold compresses to reduce body temperature.
  • Do not give fluids

The mind / body disconnect

It is very important to LISTEN TO YOUR BODY! I cannot stress this enough.  YOUR BODY is YOUR BODY. You know what works for YOU. You know what YOU need. Sometimes athletes push past what their body is telling them and force themselves to continue on by sheer force of will.  This is a mind/body disconnect where you are ‘in the zone’. You refuse to give up because quitters never win, winners never quit, and YOU ARE A WINNER! You yelled! You cursed! You prayed to God for strength! And you pushed your way through to the end with blood, sweat and tears. And hopefully you got stronger from the experience. Believe me, I’ve let out a primal scream or two myself as I forced my exhausted body and tired muscles to  up the pace as I charged towards the finish line in a mad sprint of speed.

There are times that I’ve beaten myself up because I’ve run at a much slower pace than I know I am capable of. The problem is that heat changes pace! The hotter it gets, the worse your pace becomes because of the added stress of high heat and humidity. Training is Summer is tough! Optimal running temperature is between 50°F and 59°F. Average runners add 2–2.5 seconds to their pace for every degree F above 59° F. Once you get above 85°F your speed is about 20-25% (or more ) slower than normal, so you push harder because you can’t understand why you are suddenly running like a snail on a course made of peanut butter!  It’s okay to do that, but it’s not okay to ignore your thirst in high heat and humidity.  Dehydration if left untreated leads to HEAT STROKE. Twice this Summer, I ran out of water 2-3 miles before I ended my long run. Believe me, it sucked!

Tired man lies in the sand next to a bottle of water

It’s better to heave water you don’t need than to need water you don’t have. On long runs, you need to self carry water, or pre-stash personal water supplies along your route where you know the will be undisturbed if discovered by passers-by. I use both methods. Last week I ran 15 miles for my long run using the Hal Higdon Training plan for marathons. I ran out of water at mile 12 because it was 92°F but felt like 100°F with the humidity added. Today I will be running 16 miles on a different trail, and will bring a lot more with me. Hopefully It won’t be as hot as last Sunday!

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As always I wish you success and happiness!

THE TRAINING EFFECT!

THE TIME  vs. THE TOLL

THE TRAINING EFFECT

But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.– Isaiah 40:31

I have been in training for months now as I prepare to EVENTUALLY run my first marathon. I was originally planning to run in the Philadelphia Marathon, but it was cancelled this year. I am now HOPING instead that I can run in the Gettysburg Marathon, assuming it too, does not get cancelled. Unfortunately In my case two things have been affecting my training.

First,  my day job has been hammering me with forced overtime for weeks now. In this past two week pay period i worked 129.25 hours. My ONLY day off is Sunday, and that day is designated by my training plan as my long run day. Sunday is also the day I TRY to write a weekly article.  Sometimes I do not have time to finish and post these articles because I MUST go running.  

Second, we’ve been having a heat wave here in South Central Pennsylvania and working 10 to 12 hour shifts 6 days a week in 95°F heat with high humidity has left me drained and exhausted.  Last Sunday I barely was able to run 9.5 miles, and I had zero energy after work to go running all week. I work outside all day, and usually walk a distance of about 7 miles. Today I was planning on running 15 miles, and again on next Sunday, but it is raining! My training is suffering as a result, but as I stated in my opening paragraph I am currently unsure  when or if I will be running a marathon this year. I do have three very important upcoming races this month, so the lack of ability to train has me greatly concerned. I’m running the Thirsty Thursday Races on August 6th and 20th, as well as the Double Trouble 15K/30K Trail run on August 16th. Training for these races is crucial!

WHAT IS TRAINING?

Athletes are often ‘in training’ for upcoming competitions of one form or another. Training is NOT the same as ‘working out’. Simply going to the gym a couple of times a week is just a normal part of being physically fit. Some type of regular exercise is needed to be healthy, there are just no ‘if, ands, or buts’ about it. Exercise can be anything from walking to riding a bike riding, lifting weights, or just going push-ups and sit-ups.

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Training is a programmed series of exercise routines of increasing duration and frequencies, conducted over a period of several weeks or months, the purpose of which is to take the athlete to a higher level of personal physical performance. It is a battle against entropy. It is how a 40-something can beat a 20-something in a race. It is a way of maintaining that peak level of health and strength that the young take for granted.  The harder you train, the better you are.

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Most runners use the Hal Higdon marathon training program, or some variation of it.  Hal Higdon is a writer, coach, and former marathon runner. He has run over 111 marathons and written 34 books on running. His proven training methods have stood the test of time.  The basic training plan is a 20 week regiment of speed training, cross training, and a weekly long run of increasing distance, followed by a rest day.  It can be found online for free. Although the information is readily available, training does have a cost. Time and commitment!

 If you do not stick to the program, you will not achieve the desired effects. You MUST do the exercises, and you MUST put in the time. An ‘accountability buddy’ can help you stick to the plan, so find a friend and go run!

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Skipping one week of training can undo two or more weeks of progress. Your muscles start to stiffen up and your body enters a reverse mode where it heads back to its normal resting point. Likewise it is just as possible to maintain the physical level achieved at the end of the training program by continuing to do those activities. This is why some highly competitive athletes are ALWAYS ‘in training’ and tend to be in the top spot for a very long time.

UNFORTUNATELY, the difference between the professional athlete and the amateur is that for the professional their sport IS their JOB, whereas the amateur must still try to fit in a full-time day job to pay the rent.  A profession athlete can achieve amazing, even super-human achievements if they have someone else providing them with a constant source of revenue.  

THE MARATHON OF HOPE!

In 1977, Canadian distance runner Terry Fox lost his leg due to bone cancer. He was walking again in just three weeks and soon began an aggressive 14 month marathon training program. In 1980, he sought sponsorship and donations to fund a bold attempt to run the entire length of Canada in the hope of increasing cancer awareness.  Starting on April 12, 1980 Terry Fox began running the equivalent of a marathon EVERY DAY for 143 consecutive days, with an artificial leg! He had to abandon his 5000 mile quest on September 1st 1980 because his cancer had spread to his lungs. He ran a total of 3,339 miles. Nine months later he succumbed  to the disease and passed away on June 28th, 1981 at age 22. He is considered a Canadian national hero and there are statues, parks, roads, and buildings named in his honor.  His effort raised $1.7 million for cancer research.

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500 Marathons in 500 Days! (And then some…)

Ricardo Abad Martínez is a Spanish ultrarunner and holds the Guinness World Record for most consecutive marathons, 607!  Originally the plan was 500 Marathons in 500 Days,  but upon completion of the goal on  February 12, 2012, he upped the ante and proclaimed he would attempt another 500 bringing to proposed target to 1000 marathons in 1000 days. Unfortunately he failed to secure funding to finance his endeavor and he abandoned his plan after he ran his 607th marathon.  He was 42 at the time. More impressive was the fact that he did while working a full-time job at a factory. In some cases, he even ran two marathons in less than 12 hours depending on if he ran after work, or before his shift began.    

In my case, my day job has been hammering me with forced overtime for weeks now. In this past two week pay period i worked 129.25 hours. My ONLY day off is Sunday, and that day is designated by my training plan as my long run day. Sunday is also the day I TRY to write a weekly article. I apologize to my regular readers if it’s been hit or miss lately,  but I’ve been a tad overwhelmed by everything. I’m hoping the rain stops at some point today so that I can at least do a short run. As always I wish you success and happiness!

ROAD DUST?

Pick yourself up after a setback!

ROAD DUST

Since the beginning of the year, I have been in training to run my first marathon. If the idea of months of training for one event does not make sense, allow me to explain. One does not simply decide to run a marathon on a whim. Running 26.2 miles in seven hours or less is a physically taxing task which is beyond the ability of most people.  It doesn’t matter what’s your motivation, if you do not put in the time and effort to condition your body to its best possible shape, you will risk injury and possibly even death.

Three years ago, running a marathon was the furthest thing from my mind. I weighed 325 lbs and was most likely on my way to an early grave. I considered myself both worthless and hopeless. My ‘wake-up’ call was having 3 of my co-workers ( 2 were good friends ) die from heart attacks. All of these men were in their 50’s and overweight. At that moment I knew that if I didn’t take immediate steps to reclaim my health while still in my 40’s, I would soon pass the point of no return. I began focusing on m diet until I found a plan that was right for me. Then I started exercising, and eventually stated running.  I’ve lost over 90 lbs since I began this journey of self discovery.  I am now back down to what I weighed in college and am in better physical shape than I was when I was 25 years old.

Last April, I ran my very first road race. It was the Beat Beethoven 5K at Alverina University held on Sunday April 28th, 2019. Slowly increasing my strength, stamina, and endurance I was eventually running half marathons by Autumn.  I ran eleven official races in 2019 and had planned on more than twice that number for 2020 as I built myself up for the November 2020 Philadelphia Marathon.

2020 started out looking very hopeful until COVID-19, the virus that shut down the world struck. Suddenly all the races from mid March through Summer and part of the Fall were cancelled. Undaunted, I pressed on in my training by signing up for dozens of virtual races. There were a couple of weeks were I ran in 5 days everything from a 5K up to a half-marathon tracking the times and distances with my professional runners smart-watch,  a Garmin 945 Forerunner. The Philadelphia Marathon was still slated as of two weeks ago, and I was greatly encouraged by  this fact. Unfortunately, my hopes were dashed to pieces last week when the Philadelphia mayor arbitrarily decided to ban all large gathering though February 2021, and the Governor of Pennsylvania doubled-down on his draconian laws shutting down the state.  As of this moment, my path forward has been made unclear and uncertain due to this unexpected setback.

Life is what happens when you’re busy making plans

Hitting a stumbling block and getting knocked to the ground is the point at which most people give up. For them, their dream has died and they will forever be a failure. Successful people get up, dust themselves off and pick up where they left off. VERY successful people examine what knocked them down, formulate a plan to prevent similar setbacks, and take a moment to decide on their best course of action BEFORE dashing ahead blindly.

Living in ‘the pause’.

Pause powers performance! –Kevin Cashman

In his powerful book on success, The Pause Principal, Kevin Cashman uses the acronym VUCA two ways, first to describe our world, then to tell us how we must react to it.

Our would is:

  • Volatile
  • Unpredictable
  • Complex
  • Ambiguous

Life is not about what happens to us, but how we react to it! We need to pause, and take a step back to move forward.

Our reaction should be comprised of:

  • Vision
  • Understanding
  • Clarity
  • Agility

Failure is PART of success

Failure is a powerful tool if used wisely. IF a person succeeded at every task they attempted on the very first try, they would never have the impetus to improve themselves. They would never be forced to try harder. They would take for granted every accomplishment as an entitlement that they deserved matter-of-factually.  Failure is part of life! Failure is NOT the end. It only becomes the end IF you QUIT! Quitting IS the end! Quitting IS giving up! Quitting IS DEATH!

“I’m a big advocate of personal responsibility. You do whatever you feel is safe, within reason. You know what’s best for you.” – Ron Horn CEO Pretzel City Sports

On Thursday July 16th, 2020 races returned to Reading PA for the first time since the shut down. At Trooper Thorns,  98 fellow runners and myself gave it our all as we ran the first official 5K race in over four months. It was the most exciting and amazing race I have run thus far and I gave it 110%!  I was ahead of my friend Steve Capozello for an entire 5 seconds, but kept pace with him neck and neck for the next 30-45 seconds as we raced down the trail like two rabid Clydesdales intent on trampling anyone that got in our way. Unfortunately my pace began to slip as Steve is a much faster runner than I am, and he has been running for over 20 years. Slowly he kept pulling further away from me as I tried to keep up by sheer willpower alone!  By the end of our run, I was only 10 minutes behind my friend.  Iron sharpens iron. My blue shirt was drenched with sweat from the effort, and I changed into a dry green shirt that was in my gym bag.

At the awards ceremony, Ron Horn called out the various winners by divisions, ages, and genders.

When he called out my name for 5th place winner in the Male Clydesdales division, I was stunned and said “what?” in total shock. After a back and forth of “who?” and “ME?” pointing at myself,  he said “YOU!”  pointing at me as the third prompting to come get my medal. I had set a Personal Record and  I accepted my first ever medal for placing in the TOP 5 with tears in my eyes.   

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My friend Steve took 2nd place. Another friend Gina took first place in the Women’s 30-39 group.

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If I had quit running after everything got shut down by the coronavirus, I would not have signed up for a 12 week virtual running series. If I had quit training due to the unpredictable and ambiguous fate of my November 22 marathon, I would never have gotten faster, stronger, and  better. Quitters NEVER win, but winners NEVER QUIT! I have the understanding that The 2020 Philly Marathon is dead, but I also have the clarity of vision that there will be another marathon and I must keep training. I AM A WINNER! Hopefully my example will encourage and inspire you to overcome whatever setback you may be facing. As long as you don’t quit, you too will have your day, and you’ll be able to sit back and reflect upon your accomplishment with pride! As always I wish you success and happiness!

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LIFE, LIBERTY, AND THE PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS!

The American way!

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We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.– Excerpt from the United States Declaration of Independence, July 4th, 1776

Today is Sunday July 5th, 2020. It is Independence Day Weekend in America.  Because the actual date fell on a Saturday, some businesses and institutions were closed Friday as well. Fireworks have been occurring each night across our great nation. On Friday Night President Donald J. Trump delivered a brilliant and stirring speech to a crowd of 75,000 Americans assembled in front of Mount Rushmore, South Dakota. The event concluded with a patriotic music program entitled ‘The Spirit of America’, the largest fireworks spectacle I have ever witnessed, and a live rendition of The Battle Hymn of the Republic preformed by the US Air Force Band.

My personal celebration took place on Saturday morning. I ran The Medal Dash ‘ALL AMERICAN’ virtual half-marathon,  my 5th race of this distance in the past two months.  A half-marathon is 13.1 miles (21 kilometres if you live outside the USA).  A year ago, this level of personal athletic ability would not have been possible.  I am stronger, faster, and fitter now because I have been training hard this entire year in anticipation of my first full marathon, the Philadelphia Marathon slated for Sunday November 22nd, 2020. I am determined to earn that Liberty Bell Finisher’s Medal, awarded ONLY to those who complete the race in its entirety.  I’m proud to be an American, because AMERICAN ends in ‘I CAN’!

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GOD BLESS AMERICA!

Philadelphia PA is the birthplace of America. 244 years ago, 56 patriots risked their lives and gathered there to sign the Declaration of Independence, creating the most free nation in the history of the world. America is a land of opportunity. Sadly, there are those among us who would wish to destroy our great nation. They claim racism, injustice, and a host of contrived social ills. These are lies delivered by self-deluded individuals with no moral compass, and no direction in life. They feel the world owes them a living.

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.” ― Theodore Roosevelt

Your life IS YOUR LIFE. You are responsible for you own wealth, health, success, and happiness. The world owes you NOTHING. It is your job to pursue your own personal path to success. It is out there. Opportunity abounds and the possibilities are endless.  You yourself have to do the work! No one is going to do it for you, and even if they did, could you truly appreciate it? There is pride in personal achievement. Every medal on my trophy wall is hanging there because I did the work, put in the time, and earned those medals.  You can be successful, if you choose to be. That decision remains entirely in your hands.  I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it again. Your life IS YOUR LIFE! So go forth and start living it! Seize the day! As always, I wish you success and happiness!

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A MATTER OF LIFE AND DEATH!

The importance of training!

A MATTER OF LIFE AND DEATH

“Motivation remains key to the marathon: the motivation to begin; the motivation to continue; the motivation never to quit.” — Hal Higdon

According to legend, Pheidippides was a Greek messenger who ran 25 miles from Marathon to Athens to deliver news of the victory in the battle against Persia in 490 B.C. He said to the king of Athens, “Joy to you, we’ve won” and then he immediately died on the spot. This is depicted in the famous painting Pheidippides by Luc-Olivier Merson, 1869.  

Phidippides

Twenty weeks from today, on November 22, 2020 I will be running my first marathon.  The modern marathon was named after the famous run by Pheidippides, but it is by no means a death-sentence.  According to a medical review conducted in 2016 the risk of death during or shortly after running a marathon is between  .6 and  1.9 deaths per  100,000 participants.  According to cardiologist Dr Lim Bee Chian  marathon runners often collapse near the finishing line because the build-up of lactic acid in the blood during the run triggers abnormal heart rhythms. In addition, they also suffer from exhaustion, emotional stress, dehydration and heat stroke.

On average, approximately 40% of participants in a marathon are first timers like myself. In many cases the marathon is their first official road race, which is a terrible idea. There is a very old saying that goes ‘You need to learn to walk before you try to run’. On New Year’s Eve 2018, after being inspired by long distance runner Nathan Maxwell, I began training to become a runner. I was not training to run a marathon first, I was training to run a 5K race that was months away. On Sunday April 28th, 2019 I ran my first ever 5K. A few months later I ran my first ever 15K, and a few months after that on September 7th 2019 I ran my first half-marathon. The following month I did it again and ran my second half-marathon.  The important takeaway point I am trying to make is that the training was essential. It was consistent and methodical.  In 2019 I ran a total of 11 officially timed races, this year I had planned to run double that number.  

Long races which are officially timed have support stations along the race course for runners to grab water, Gatorade, or little packets of glucose gel to enable you to keep going. Shorter races such as 5Ks often provide water and snacks at the end. The average time for a 5K race is 30-40 minutes.  10K runs average 50-70 minutes. Good times for half-marathons and marathons are 2hrs and 4hrs respectively, and involve maintaining a 9min per mile pace. I cannot run that fast yet, but I am getting better. Longer faces have cutoff times. Typically 4 hours for a half-marathon and 7 hours for a full marathon. So basically if you can run at a consistent pace of 15min per mile, you can still finish the race before the cutoff time, but you have very little wiggle-room.  I average about a 13min mile, and I am still considered a new runner. I only ran my first official race 14 months ago, so I am just two months into my second year of running, but I am definitely faster than I was a year ago.

Then mid March, the coronavirus shut down all the gyms and cancelled almost every race I had lined up for this year as part of my training regiment.  This in and of itself could have thrown off my entire marathon training plan. Fortunately  Gina,  a member  of a run-club I belong to shared a virtual run series that spanned 12 weeks. Last  Sunday was the final race. During the series I ran 37 races, all timed with my professional runner’s watch, a Garmin Forerunner 945. If you add the 4 races I got in before the virus that shut down the world struck,  I have run 41 races so far this year and am at nearly 4 times as many races as I ran in 2019, so I know what I am doing. A runner runs, and I am a trained professional now. I created an info-graphic depicting the 37 races I ran for The Un-Cancelled Project over the 12 week series.

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If there is one thing I have learned in my 14 months as a runner, it’s not the distance that kills you, it’s both the pace, and dehydration.  Since most races currently are virtual, there are no water stations so I need to self-support. As a Clydesdale (a heavy-weight runner) I require more water than the average racer, especially during these hot summer months. Dehydration is a killer. (So is carrying all those sport bottles of frozen endurance fuel!)  As I start gradually increasing my distances according to my running plan,  the water needed may become a problem.  So far I have run 4 virtual half-marathons in the past two months alone.  I underestimated my water needs for the 1st one May 2nd. So I ran out after 11 miles with 2.1 miles remaining and the hot sun beating down on me.   Fortunately Steve, another member of my run-club was able to bike out to me with a water bottle. This is why I carry my phone while running.  This is also why it is important to run with a group, but as our schedules don’t always mesh, lately I have been doing a lot of solo runs.  Over the next  5 months I will be running 4-5 times a week and following a custom training plan which I derived from several popular marathon training plans including the Hal Higdon plan. Always remember you plan to fail, if you fail to plan! As always I wish you success and happiness!  

WHAT’S YOUR MOTIVATION?

Carrot or stick?

WHATS YOUR MOTIVATION

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.– Jeremiah 29:11

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Wishes and dreams are very nice things to have, but they remain just that unless you set plans in motion to accomplish them. This is why we must have goals in life. The human spirit cannot thrive without hope. It is hope that allows us to make plans and set goals for a better future. It is hope which provides us the impetus to strive to achieve those set goals. However, If we TRULY wish to achieve those goals, we must believe that they are absolutely possible. The moment we say to ourselves “I can’t”, or “it’s impossible”, we have defeated ourselves and we are done! Despair is a dream killer. A positive attitude is fuel for the soul when you are running  on empty.

The Cake is a lie!

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The phrase “carrot and stick” is a metaphor for the use of a combination of reward and punishment to induce a desired behavior. There are some people that for whatever reason cannot ‘self-start’. They sit idle in a vegetative state, unable to take that initial step on the path towards their goals. When someone else is dangling a carrot in front of you while threatening a stick for punishment, they are motivating you to do their work. You are accomplishing ‘their’ goals not ‘yours’. For just a moment, think of this concept at your place of work. The ‘boss’ tells you to get to work, you do your job because you don’t want to get reprimanded or fired (the stick). So you work either willingly or under duress, and you earn wages or bonus pay (the carrot). Now ask yourself, who is getting rich off  ‘your labor’? This is why you have to find your own carrot! It’s out there waiting for you. Probably gagged and tied to a stick in the forest of despair.     

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Motivation is self-motivational!

Once you learn to become a ‘self-starter’, starting is easy. Like the Nike mantra, you “Just Do It”! Habits both good and bad are easy to form, and hard to break.   When I started running at the beginning of 2019, I had a lot of bad habits. It’s very easy to be lazy. I had set a personal goal on New Year’s Eve 2018 that I would start distance running in 2019 with the goal of eventually running a marathon. I was still fat although I had been dieting for over a year at that time. My goal for the first official 5K race I ran was not to be last. I wanted to finish, I knew 1st place was IMPOSSIBLE even with roller-skates and a rocket-powered backpack. It just was not going to happen. So I contented myself with the goal of finishing the race, any place except last. A runner runs, and I wanted to be a runner! On April 28th, 2019 I ran and finished the Beat Beethoven 5K race at Alvernia University in Reading PA, and I was NOT last! Moreover, I received a plethora of compliments from complete strangers that for a first attempt  I ‘did great’. I now knew it was possible to run that distance, that people were rooting for me, and that next time I would do better. I was a Clydesdale ( a heavy-weight runner) and I had found my ‘carrot’!

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Life throws  curve-balls!

After the first year of running, I had set goals in place to run twice as many races, more than two dozen with the big race being The Philly Marathon on November 22,2020. This would be my first marathon ever and the coveted Liberty Bell Finisher’s Medal would  be mine! Running a distance of 26.2 miles was no longer an impossible dream, it was a developing reality that was growing from hard work and determination.  Also I had made new friends in the running community, and we had formed a make-shift running club which I dubbed ‘The Pack’.  And then mid-March, COVID-19 AKA the virus that shut down the world cancelled all my slated races in Spring, Summer, and possibly even some in Autumn as well. Now, here’s where being a ‘self-starter’ and having good encouraging friends comes in handy when you’re running down a dream.       

Gina, one of the more competitive runners in the group stumbled upon a virtual running series from Run The Edge which was called The Un-Cancelled Project. When the information about the FREE series was disseminated  to the group, I was a little skeptical. Joining a FREE series wasn’t going to cost me anything, and besides, with all the official races cancelled, it was the only game in town. It also convinced me to finally purchase a professional runner’s smart-watch,( a Garmin Forerunner 945) so that I could record my time and distance during these virtual races.  

Each week had a theme.

  • gratitude
  • hope
  • humor
  • inspiration
  • courage
  • commitment
  • dreams
  • kindness
  • joy
  • community
  • perseverance
  • life

Initially, the series was set for 6 weeks, with 5 races a week. Two ‘beginner’-5K and 10K, one ‘intermediate’- a half-marathon, and two ‘advanced’- a full-marathon, and an ultra-marathon. Due to both the popularity of the free series, and the continuing coronavirus lock-down, the series was expanded to 12 weeks, and two additional races were added to accommodate the beginners (a 8K) and intermediates (a 15K). Also added was the ability to purchase an optional series t-shirt and finishers medal.

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Considering that most races cost $30 and up anyway and did come with t-shirts, I immediately jumped on the opportunity to purchase a series t-shirt and medal so that I had something to show for my hard work. I mean we did get free ‘virtual bibs’ for each race that we could customize with pictures and print out, but t-shirts are nice conversation starters and medals look great hanging on a trophy wall.

Speaking of the virtual bibs- a runners ‘bib’ is the paper number they wear pinned on the front of their shirt while running to identify them during a race.  With official timed races, a record is kept by the race officials of each runner and their time. After the race is done, many runners like to keep their bibs for posterity. So the virtual bibs that you could customize lack a runner number and show the distance instead, but you could add a picture in its place. I did that with a few of the 33 bibs I earned thus far.

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GRATITUDE WEEK was a before and after body shot showing how much weight I’d lost my first year as a runner.

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COURAGE WEEK was my first virtual half-marathon and friends who ran it with me.

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JOY WEEK was a collage showing my personal bests, courses, and the friends I ran with that week.

PERSERVERANCE

PERSEVERANCE WEEK highlights my fastest 15K ever!

I must say that these last 11 weeks have been awesome, and Monday June 15th, 2020 marks beginning of the final week of the series LIFE WEEK. Once again I plan to run FIVE races 5K through half-marathon like I did during JOY WEEK, and possibly break at least ONE personal record doing so. And that is the importance of having a goal! Quitters never win, but winners never quit and EVERYONE loves a winner!

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As always I wish you success and happiness!

RUNNING DOWN A DREAM!

Never quit, never surrender!

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I rolled on, the sky grew dark

I put the pedal down to make some time

There’s something good waitin’ down this road

I’m pickin’ up whatever’s mine

I’m runnin’ down a dream that never would’ve come to me

Workin’ on a mystery, goin’ wherever it leads

Runnin’ down a dream

Song Lyrics–Runnin’ Down A Dream by Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers 1993

As we enter the THIRD MONTH of the COVID-19 pandemic, the virus that shut down the world continues to put  a major damper on summer fun. Restrictions are being slowly lifted. VERY SLOWLY. Things are far from back to normal. Even IF you were fortunate enough to escape the Triple Whammy of the loss of income, loss of life-savings, and a mounting pile of debt from past due bills, there is still very little to do. Many things have already been cancelled from June through September. Depending on what state you live in, you may face challenging restrictions.

In Pennsylvania a ‘blue’ Democrat governed state, a mask is mandatory to enter the few business that are open. In Florida and other ‘red’ states with Republican governors, masks are optional, and most business have been re-opened for weeks. When you restrict the sick to remain under virtual house arrest, it is called quarantine. When you force the same upon the healthy, you take away their freedom and liberty!, It is a tyrannical power grab. I am not the only person in my state who is fed up with this draconian treatment and many people are protesting at the state capital calling for the impeachment of Governor Wolf. In Philadelphia and other Democrat run cities, Antifa backed mobs stirred up by the death of George Floyd at the hand of Minnesota police has lead to wide-spread looting and vandalism. These are the type of sheep that ‘the Wolf’ adores. Easily manipulated and gullible enough to swallow anything they are fed. Peaceful citizens are made to cower in fear as Democrat leaders refuse to put an end to this madness. All of these seemingly unrelated events are part of a vast left wing conspiracy to stir up civil unrest, destroy a duly elected president, and prevent his re-election. If you believe that this entire situation is not politically motivated, you are an idiot. The virus is a hoax. People need to wake up, and face the facts that COVID-19 is no nightmare ‘boogeyman’ waiting at the door to pounce upon those who dare to venture outside.

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UN-CANCELLED!

Stress impacts the way our body functions in a negative way. It lowers our immune system, causes us lack of sleep, and can increase our blood pressure. It leads to depression and obesity. If left unchecked stress can destroy one’s will to live. If you want to be happy and successful, you need to eliminate stress from your life in any form that is impacting you. While the coronavirus may have taken away many of our outlets for stress relief such as shopping, dining out, or going to the movies, there are still many things that are NOT cancelled.  You may have seen many of these memes across the internet, lists of things that are NOT cancelled like HOPE, JOY, FRIENDSHIP, ect. It is a way of reminding us that there is a light at the end of the tunnel, and a bright, beautiful world is waiting outside for us if we can just step out of our own personal dark place.

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My life-changing journey began three years ago when I said to myself that enough was enough and I was going to fight to get the life that I always wanted. This meant a personal commitment to do whatever needed to be done, for as long as it needed to be done.  Winners NEVER quit, and quitters NEVER win. I had to force myself to constantly strive for what I have achieved thus far. I still have a ways to go, but slow and steady wins the race. A runner runs!

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Last year I took up distance running, and ran in eleven races starting with a 5K and working up to half-marathons.  This year COVID-19 cancelled many of my scheduled races, as well as a few in the next two months. I have been training all year for the Philly Marathon on November 22, 2020, less than six months away.

Fortunately my team of fellow runners whom I have dubbed ‘The Pack’ turned me on to a 12-week virtual running series called The Un-cancelled Project sponsored by Run The Edge. Each week has a theme.

  • gratitude
  • hope
  • humor
  • inspiration
  • courage
  • commitment
  • dreams
  • kindness
  • joy
  • community
  • perseverance
  • life

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Last week was week 9, JOY WEEK. I made at least three personal bests. Fastest half-marathon, fastest 8K, and most races in a single week. I ran on four different trails, and members of the team were along for four of the five races as I logged just under 37 miles total.

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Life is meant to be lived and enjoyed!

The point I’m trying to make is your life is up to YOU!

If you allow circumstance and criticism to beat you into submission, than you are not truly alive. Existing is not the same as living, and you need to live your life to the fullest for as long as you are able to. Nothing in life is guaranteed. The United States is a great country. It is a land of freedom and opportunity. If you are fortunate enough to live here, you can have anything you desire as long as you are willing to put in the time, do the work, and have the personal fortitude to see it through to the end. The race is long, now go out and run down your dreams!

 As always I wish you success and happiness!

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THE ‘TRIPLE WHAMMY’!

It’s a cruel, (cruel), cruel summer!

THE TRIPPLE WHAMMY

Hot town, summer in the city
Back of my neck getting dirty and gritty
Been down, isn’t it a pity
Doesn’t seem to be a shadow in the city

All around, people looking half dead
Walking on the sidewalk, hotter than a match head–Lyrics from Summer In The City by The Lovin’ Spoonful 1966

 

wham·my

  • /ˈ(h)wamē/
  • noun
  • INFORMAL
  1. an event with a powerful and unpleasant effect; a blow.

“the third whammy was the degradation of the financial system”  

      2. an evil or unlucky influence.

“I’ve come to put the whammy on them”

Last weekend was Memorial Day in the USA. It has long been regarded as being the ‘unofficial’ start of the summer vacation season. But we are now living in a new reality because COVID-19, the virus that shut down the world has put a major damper on summer fun this year. Like many Americans, I work, save, plan for, and eagerly await my summertime fun. Often it is a mix of several events spread out over  June, July, and August, and extending just beyond Labor Day weekend. Unfortunately this year will be a ‘cruel, cruel summer’ because many people will be forced to spend their summer at home, unable to afford a fun summer vacation. Their vacation plans will be washed away like a sandcastle on the beach.

Hot summer streets
And the pavements are burning
I sit around
Trying to smile but
The air is so heavy and dry
Strange voices are saying
(What did they say?)
Things I can’t understand
It’s too close for comfort
This heat has got
Right out of hand

It’s a cruel, (cruel), cruel summer
(Leaving me) leaving me here on my own
It’s a cruel, (it’s a cruel), cruel summer
Now you’re gone –lyrics Cruel Summer by BANANARAMA 1983

I am one of the ‘lucky’ ones. As I am considered an essential worker, I have been gainfully employed during this nearly three month (so far) COVID-19 shutdown. I have also managed to escape a financial ‘Triple Whammy’ that has befallen many ‘non-essential’ workers at shuttered ‘non-essential’ businesses.  

I have NOT:

  • lost my source of income
  • lost my life-savings
  • racked up past-due, and mounting debts

This triple whammy affects not only many individuals, but many businesses as well! All of these shops that have been closed down since mid-March have still been racking up business debt. Rent continues to be changed whether you are open or not as long as you have a lease. Monthly utility bills must be paid. Payments on business lines of credit must still be made. Many of these businesses will NEVER re-open, and their employees will have no job to return to as a result.

The only real inconvenience that I have been facing is the reality that some of the things that I really wanted to do this summer may not be possible.

My favorite kayak rental place DELAWARE RIVER TUBING is not expected to open till possibly mid-June.

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I sincerely doubt I will be going horseback riding this summer.

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JEEP WEEK in Ocean City MD is still slated as of this date, and hopefully will not be cancelled at the last moment.

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Some of my summer races are now in jeopardy, and they may be cancelled for this year.

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Although all of my ‘official’ races since the shutdown have been cancelled up to this point, I have managed to replace them with virtual runs. I’m running more now than ever before, but it’s just not the same. I miss some of my fellow runners that I only see at the official races, and I am thankful that I have my small group of running friends that meet up several times a week for a ‘fun-run’, and food.

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I am a runner, and a runner runs! I MUST keep running on a regular basis, as I am in training for my FIRST EVER FULL MARATHON. I have run five of the past seven days! I have done a 5K, 8K, 10K, 15K and even a Half-Marathon! I WILL NEVER GIVE UP! The 2020 Philly Marathon is still slated for November 22nd at this time. This event is very important to me. Over the past three years I have been working my utmost to improve my life, and I can honestly say that I am in better physical shape now than I was in college.  

Where is GOD?

“Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever.”  – Psalm 107:1

As I have previously stated, I have managed to escape all of the devastating effects of the coronavirus, physical, social, and financial. No one in my family, or in my circle of close personal friends has died from the disease, or even contracted it for that matter. Atheists and cynics might claim that it’s very easy for someone in my fortunate position to praise God. All things come from God. God has a plan, and from a human view point it is often hard, and sometimes downright impossible to determine. That is because the mind of man is finite and God is infinite.

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I am absolutely positive that there are God-fearing Christians all around the globe who have been negatively impacted by COVID-19. Maybe they lost everything, including family and even their own lives. Yes, people are dying. People die every second of every day and have been dying for thousands of years. Our lives are but a vapor, and this world is not our home. When we tragically lose a loved one to disease, an accident, or natural causes, it is sometimes easy for us to ‘forget’ that God gave his only begotten son Jesus to die a horribly painful death on the cross, so that whosoever believes in Him may be saved and receive the gift of eternal life. Life is meant to be lived and enjoyed, and God is always to be praised, and is always good. God does not give us anything that we cannot overcome.

Consider the story of Job. Job was a righteous man, blessed with wealth, sons, and daughters, who lived in the land of Uz. Job lost everything including his children but continued to give thanks to God and to praise and worship him throughout  this entire ordeal. Painful boils covered his entire body.  His close personal friends could not comprehend why this was happening to him unless he had done something wrong. His own wife advised him to just ‘curse God and die!’ But it was all just a test and Job passed and he was restored to health, wealth and lived to see his children to the fourth generation.

I could not have accomplished all the things I have done, or received all the blessings in my life had it not been for God, the Lord Jesus Christ. I became a Christian back in college, and I could not be the man I am today without God. Hopefully you too feel the same way as I do, because God is real, and God is good, ALWAYS! As always, I wish you success and happiness!     

HAPPY(?) MEMORIAL DAY!

GOD HEAL OUR COUNTRY!

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For many Americans, Memorial Day has two meanings:

First and foremost, it is a day of remembrance to honor our fallen military service men and women who gave their all defending our nation so that we can enjoy the freedoms that they died to protect. Secondly, it is the ‘unofficial’ start of the Summer vacation season. The weather is nice enough usually to have a picnic and grill, take a day trip, or enjoy a 3-day weekend if you don’t have to work Monday.

I consider myself to be a very patriotic person, I love both God and our wonderful country. I make no secret of the fact that I am a Christian first, an American second, and a Trump supporting Republican third. 

When I first started writing http://www.InstantCoffeeWisdom.com three years ago, I was because I had just enjoyed a great Summer vacation, and I wanted to share how The 52 WEEK CHALLENGE helped make it possible. So the first year my articles focused on ways to save money, spend wisely, and try to simplify matters of finance. The second year of articles was more about demonstrating how negative thinking and bad information hurt your chances for success and happiness.  I focused on The bigger picture and discussed how religion and politics played a very important part in your success. The freedoms that we enjoy in this Christian nation are always in peril if the wrong leadership is voted into office. As for this third year, I have been writing mostly about health, diet, and exercise. The purpose was to show that your health is form of wealth. What’s the point of being rich and successful if you’re sick and miserable? You want the trifecta! You need to hedge your bets on being happy and successful by being strong in mind, spirit, and body.

For me personally, during this three year odyssey I have seen vast improvements in my life. I’ve lost 90lbs, took up competitive running, and am currently in training for my FIRST MARATHON! The Philly Marathon on Nov 22, 2020 has been a goal that I have been working toward since I ran my first 5K over a year ago. The finishers of the race receive a very patriotic Liberty Bell Medal. 

finishers medal

I felt amazing and empowered! 2020 was starting out to be my best year ever! And then COVID-19, the virus that shutdown the world struck in mid-March.

At first, American were asked to make ‘small’ and ‘temporary’ sacrifices to preserve our nation. We were reminded of the sacrifices of life and limb by our military, and that this was nothing compared to what they sacrificed for us. And then the small got larger, and the temporary  became long term.  Days turned into weeks then became months. The forever quarantine seems to have no end in sight as non-essential workers are still sitting at home with no income wandering how they will feed their children.  For them, there will be no ‘Summer vacation’, just this soul-crushing ‘Corona Vacation’ with nothing to do, nowhere to go, and no one to do it with, because half the country is terrified of contracting the virus.

I am a runner, and a runner runs. Since the start of this viral outbreak,  I have seen ALL my April, May, and now June, possibly even JULY races being cancelled one after another because of restrictions in assembly of large groups and social distancing.  Even non-running events like the Bowers Chili Pepper Festival that I attend in SEPTEMBER are now being cancelled! Fall County fairs are being scrapped this year, and I’m even wondering if JEEP WEEK in OCMD will actually happen now.

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Fortunately my small group of running friends, The Pack have stood together throughout this shutdown substituting virtual races for official events. So we have been having regularly scheduled weekly  races, and running virtual half-marathons   So for the near future, reality is virtual. But virtual races are really just not the same as actual races.  My nightmare is that the biggest race of my entire life, the one that I have been training so hard for The Philly Marathon might get cancelled this year.

Yes, The Pack has vowed to set up support stations for ME along a virtual 26.2 mile course should the Philly Marathon SIX MONTHS AWAY be postponed due to COVID-19.  But I don’t want ‘MIKE’S MARATHON’, I want the real thing!  The annual event hosted by the city of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on the third Sunday of November each year since 1954. The one with over 30,000 runners, 60,000 spectators and 3,000 volunteers! The one with the course that takes you past historic landmarks, and past the Liberty Bell! It actually brings me to tears just thinking that my first Marathon might be the next victim of this cursed virus.

So yes, it is Memorial Day Weekend, and I am going to have a picnic with my friends. Hopefully some part of the Summer may be salvaged, but I’m finding it very hard to be optimistic while being bombarded by this constant stream of negativity.  So God bless America, God Bless President Trump and his family, and God heal our country. As Always I wish you success and happiness!  

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WATCH IT!

Another record broken!

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‘Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t–you’re right.’ —Henry Ford

Stopwatches in one form or another have been around since before the USA was even a country.  The very first stopwatch was called a “physician’s pulse watch” invented by Samuel Watson 1695 as a custom project for surgeon John Floyer. It was able to measure an accuracy of 1/5 of a second.

In 1816 Louis Moinet  created the “compteur de tierces” (1/60 second counter), which looked remarkably like a modern stopwatch, and could be reset at the touch of a button.  This personal scientific instrument was way ahead of its time (no pun intended). It would take another century before a more precise stopwatch would be produced. In 1916 the Heuer watch company produced a  stopwatch accurate to 1/100 of a second.

Since the nineteenth century stopwatches have been an essential tool in  the racing circuit. By 1881 they were joined by the ‘photo finish’ invented by photographer Ernest Marks at a track in Plainfield, N.J to determine winners of  horse races that were ‘too close to call’. These instances where the outcome was to ambiguous to be determined by the naked eye used to be referred to as ‘dead-heats’. In the result of a dead-heat, officials had no choice but to declare the result a tie. Now in the current day improvements in technology, including digital super-slow motion replay, computer tracking,  pressure-sensitive digital timers,  and chip timers have rendered dead-heats all but extinct.

In 1962 science fiction author John D. MacDonald wrote the novel The Girl, the Gold Watch and Everything. In the novel Kirby Winter inherits a remarkable stopwatch that can literally stop time for everyone and everything, except for the person holding the watch. Kirby uses this incredible watch to change his life for the better.   

Last month I brought an incredible watch to change my life for the better too, although it’s not as awesome as the watch Kirby Winter had in the aforementioned novel. It was an anniversary gift to myself was I was coming up to the one-year as a runner date.

Just over a year ago I started training for my first  ever race. The event was called Beat Beethoven and held at Alvernia University in Reading PA on Sunday April 28th, 2019.

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The event was timed by Pretzel City Sports, a local race-timing company owned by Ron Horn. I was both excited and terrified. I finished the race and made by goal. I vividly remember being told I did great by a woman who I later found out was Helene, Ron’s wife. My second race was a 15K the Chobert Challenge, also timed by Pretzel City Sports (PCS). My first half Marathon was the Bird-in-Hand Half on September 7, 2019. Although PCS was not timing the event, Ron and Helene were in attendance and again gave great encouragement.  All in all I ran nearly a dozen races last year, picking up tips and making many friends along the way.

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Two things I noticed about my fellow runners, besides the encouragement.

  1. Many of them wore these long socks.
  2.  Many of them had special runner’s watches.

In 2020 I planned to run two dozen races and compete in my first ever full marathon. Then  COVID-19 struck and the virus that shut down the world closed all the gyms and then began cancelling one race after another.  To date all my official timed races that had been slated for April and May have been cancelled or postponed, and June is now looking iffy too. As I had been relying upon timing results and marked distances from these races to chart my progress, this became problematic.  You don’t know how far you’ve come unless you keep accurate records to chart your progress. I don’t even have the treadmill at the gym right now due to this stupid virus!  A runner runs and I refuse to let some  virus  derail my marathon goal!         

Fortunately I have good friends to run with, marked trails to run on, and I was using my smart-phone to keep time, more or less. If you’re going to do any job well, you need the proper tools. Most of my running friends have runner’s watches. So I bit the bullet and made the purchase. (This watch cost more than any of my first 3 used cars!)

I decided to purchase the top-of-the-line tri-athlete Garmin Forerunner 945. Garmin makes one other even more expensive ‘total’ sports watch, the Garmin Fenix 6X Pro, but as far as runners are concerned it’s the Forerunner line, and the 945 is the top!

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There are many players in the sport-watch field, but Garmin is widely believed to be the industry leader.

Most runners have the discontinued Forerunner 235 that came out years ago. This is Gina’s 235:

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My 945 has many features that earlier models do not have, as well as all the common features that  runners have come to rely upon. After using my watch for just one month, I have seen a definite improvement in my performance.  For a more detailed list of feature specs on the watch, this is from the Amazon listing:

  • Premium GPS running/triathlon smartwatch with music
  • Download songs to your watch, including playlists from Spotify, Amazon Music or Deezer (may require premium subscription with a third party music provider)
  • Performance monitoring features include Vo2 Max and training status with adjustments for heat, altitude Acclimation status, training load focus, recovery time, and aerobic and anaerobic training effects
  • Garmin Pay contactless payment solution (available for supported cards from participating banks) lets you make convenient payments with your watch so you can leave your cash and cards at home
  • Full color, onboard maps guide you on your run so you never get lost during your workout
  • Safety and tracking Features include incident detection (during select activities) which sends your real time location to emergency contacts through your paired compatible smartphone
  • Battery life: Up to 2 weeks in smartwatch mode, 10 hours in GPS mode with music or up to 60 hours in UltraTrac mode. Display resolution – 240 x 240 pixels

I haven’t  yet mastered all the features as I am still in the learning phase, but this is definitely the king of sport watches, and I have never been more happier with a purchase of a wearable tech product.

The watch tracks and records  all my runs via GPS. It lets me know when I make a new personal record!

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It monitors my heart rate and oxygen levels.

It has a coaching function.

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It makes predictions based on my performance.

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I can download maps!

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It  has a compass!

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Oh, and it can tell time.

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Because of the expense of this item, I highly recommend purchasing an extended warranty, and investing in a screen protector like I did to keep the watch face from getting scratched.  If you are a serious runner, you want to protect this invaluable tool for as long as you own it. As always, I wish you success and happiness!