A SMALL MOUNTAIN…

Is STILL a mountain!

a small mountain

Climb every mountain

Ford every stream

Follow every rainbow

‘Till you find your dream– Lyrics from the song Climb Every Mountain from The Sound of Music.

Last Sunday February 23rd 2020, due to an unexpected event there was no weekly article posted on my blog. It was maybe the 3rd or 4th time that this has happened since I began writing InstantCoffeeWisdom three years ago. To my frequent and long-time readers, I offer an apology, and an explanation.

Every now and then, life throws you a curve ball. Something you never expect. Sometimes it can be a bad thing, but sometimes it can be an unexpected and pleasant surprise.  This was the latter.  I was originally working on an article concerning nutritional supplements (which will now be posted next week, bumped by this article) when one of my running friends gave me a surprise gift.  Accepting this gift meant dropping everything I was doing, and being a little selfish to spend time with my friends. I feel bad for disappointing my dedicated readers like Ken, and  especially those who check-in from foreign countries like Romania, England and Canada.  I am always amazed that I have readers in other countries. The internet can be a wonderful thing, but I digress!

One of the items in my bucket list is training for a marathon. I have been putting in a lot of time running both at the gym on a treadmill, and in official timed races of various distances. Registration for official race events costs money, and as I planned 24 of them this year I had to pick and choose as well as budget accordingly to be able to afford to pay for my fitness hobby.  The point I have been stressing this year is that your Health is your Wealth, and vice-versa. What is the point of becoming rich, only to be too sickly and infirm to enjoy the fruit of your labors? The point of life is to enjoy it!

Gary Brendel, a friend who is part my pack of runners  wanted to run in The Ugly Mudder 13K Trail Run and he asked if I was going. This was a race that I had skipped. I told him that I had limited funds and had to pass because I couldn’t afford the extra race with all the others I had lined up.  Gary told me he would pick up the tab for my registration. I was stunned! It was such a wonderful gift and a generous surprise that to refuse would have been rude. It is very nice to know that when times are lean, you have friends who have your back. Gary is also planning on running in the Philly Marathon with me in November, and my other friend Steve will run the half that same day. Additionally, Gary also convinced another mutual friend, Alison Riley to run with us in The Ugly Mudder. Alison is a novice runner who believed that she was only able to run 5K (3.1 miles). This was her first ever 13K (8.078 miles) and she did amazing!  Like the Bible says in Proverbs 27:17, ” As iron sharpens iron, So a man sharpens the countenance of his friend.”

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 One Ugly Mudder!

The name ‘Ugly Mudder’ is a play on words. It is a near homonym for ‘Ugly Mother’. A Mudder is a race horse that runs faster on a muddy track. This was the logo for this year’s commemorative  t-shirt.

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The character depicted is reminiscent of Baba Yaga , the pestle wielding witch from Slavic folklore who would kill and eat unfortunate travelers who got lost in the woods. Baba Yaga was most likely an influence  for the fictional Blair Witch in the 1999 horror film, The Blair Witch Project.  

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The 17th annual event was timed by Pretzel City Sports. PCS was founded in 1987 by the awesome Ron Horn and they help many regional organizations such as The Pagoda Pacers hold races.

As for the race itself,  The Ugly Mudder 13K Trail Run is a foot-race up Mount Penn on some of the ugliest, treacherous, and muddy trails imaginable. Mount Penn is a 1,120-foot-high mountain that rises to the north and overlooks the city of Reading PA.  It’s a little mountain, but a mountain is still a mountain. For comparison the tallest mountain in Romania is Moldoveanu Peak at 8,346-feet , which is slightly taller than Omu at 8,219-feet, also located in Romania.  The tallest mountain in England is Scafell Pike at 3,209-feet.  In case you may be wondering, the tallest mountain in North America is Denali in the USA in the state of Alaska. At 20,237-foot, it is also the third tallest on Earth.

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There are two large structures visible on Mount Penn.  One is the William Penn Fire Tower. This imposing stone and reinforced concrete tower is 120 feet tall and is situated on Skyline Drive. The 120-ft.-tall former fire observation tower was built in 1939 for $30,000. A lighted Cross on the tower was forcibly removed in 2009 by God-hating atheists who threatened a lawsuit because the Cross reminded them that they had sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.    

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One mile from the Fire Tower is Reading’s landmark Pagoda, the symbol of the city for over a century.

Commissioned in 1906 at a cost of $50,000 by William A. Witman, Sr. , the Pagoda was completed in 1908.  It was originally intended to be a luxury resort atop Mt. Penn, but due a bank foreclosure after the denial of his liquor license, Witman never opened the Pagoda.  By 1910 the Pagoda and its surrounding 10 acres of land were deeded to local business owner, Jonathon Mould and his wife, Julia (Bell).  On April 21, 1911 they “sold” the Pagoda to the City of Reading for the sum of $1.  Since then the Pagoda has been owned, loved and cared for by the citizens and City of Reading.

The Pagoda is 28 feet (8.5 m) wide, 50 feet (15 m) long, and 72 feet (22 m) tall and located at  98 Duryea Dr. Reading, PA.  After the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 anti-Japanese sentiment nearly caused the building to be torn down. Cooler-heads claimed that the building was actually not Japanese, but a Korean Pagoda, so the Pagoda was spared.  (FYI– a Korean Pagoda is usually built entirely out of stone, and is slightly different looking than the Reading Pagoda which is clearly based on a Japanese design. Thank God there was also no internet in 1941. LOL. )

As for the course itself, it was rocky and treacherous, not to mention uphill and muddy at places. There was a little patch of ice easily negotiable just before the finish line.  You just knew it was going to be a rough trail when a priest was running in case someone needed Last Rites.

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The humorous description and cautionary words from the promotional e-mail flier are as follows:

The same thing happened to most of the trails used in the Ugly Mudder. Once, they were bucolic hiking trails used by courting couples, families with kids, dog walkers, etc. And then heavy storms took away their topsoil, lack of use resulted in wild indigenous plants growing across the path, erosion left huge gullies in them that twist ankles and make then unsuitable for biking, etc. And what we have left are trails that are so misshapen and un-navigable that they can ONLY be used for the Ugly Mudder. The Ugly Mudder is a mishmash of ups & downs, fallen logs, debris, rocks & roots, discarded household items, deer poop and urban relics.  To offset this misery, Pretzel City Sports provides a bunch of “perks” at the event including a great post race party with a free breakfast, funny signs on trail to ease your pain, unusual aide stations with equally unusual beverages, cold volunteers that will treat YOU even “colder”, great course markings & other niceties that has made this, on several occasions, one of the 5 largest rustic trail runs in the entire country & the largest East of the Mississippi. In fact, annually, 99.9% of its participants live to run another day so how hard can it be?  Come join the 250-400 people each year that REFUSE to let ankle deep snow, sub-zero temps and a few rocks & roots turn them into mega-weenies, candybutts or, worst of all, “Bachelor/Bachelorette Fans”. LEGAL B.S: You RUN AT YOUR OWN RISK & you alone are responsible for your welfare at all times while racing!! You SHOULD finish this race unscathed other than from frostbite & snot frozen to your face. But if you DO get a boo-boo, crawl to an aide station so we can pick you up in a warm car. You WON’T get lost; it’s marked that well!  But if you STILL manage to do so, ask someone how to Uber to Stokesay Castle; the finish is right next door. Since this is a mid-level challenge, people discouraged from coming are

  1. those under 18 (15-17 yr olds OK with parent present-14 or below MUST have someone run with them)

  2. anyone, other than a current employee, who will miss K-mart and

  3. people who religiously “eat clean” because we ALL need Oreos and  they’re about as far from “clean” as a food group can be. And also DAMN yummy!

In case you’re wondering about the funny signs, I took pictures of them all as I ran. They ran in FOUR series each spaced about 2 miles apart ,and  started with a warning:

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  • WARNING! BE PREPARED FOR…
  • THE SHITTIEST 8.078 MILES
  • YOU’LL EVER RUN (IF YOU CALL THIS RUNNING)

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  • LOTS OF “DOWNHILL” COMING UP
  • AFTER YOU FINISH THIS “RIDGE FROM HELL”

  • THERE HAVE BEEN MORE DEMOCRATS
  • RUNNING FOR PRESIDENT
  • THAN WE HAVE ENTRIES IN OUR CLYDESDALE DIVISION
  • MAY MEAN THAT WE THAT WE HAVE LESS “FULL” PEOPLE IN THESE PARTS
  • THAN WE HAVE PEOPLE “FULL OF THEMSELVES”

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  • WHAT GOES DOWN, MUST COME UP
  • AND WE REALLY MEAN “UP”!

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At the last water station, they also had shots of whisky to anyone who needed calm their nerves after surviving this harrowing experience.

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Yeah it was quite the challenge, and this was only the second trail run I have done. Of the three of us, Gary finished first . Alison twisted her ankle on the rocks half-way, but was able to walk-off the injury and finished ahead of me. I’m a Clydesdale, so I tend to run slower, plus I took pictures. I did NOT finish last, and my pace from my first trail run had improved so I am getting faster which makes me happy. Progress is progress, and slow and steady wins the race!  

The best part was my friends waiting for me at the finish line.

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As always, I wish you success and happiness!

DUST AND THIRST!

Success requires both!

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I get knocked down, but I get up again. You are never gonna keep me down…– Lyrics from the song Tubthumping by Chumbawamba

Sir Richard Branson is one of my role models. I admire the man, he is an inspiration although I do not agree with him politically. Everyone is entitled to their personal opinions.  One of the goals in HIS bucket list is to go into space. When I was in elementary school, that was something I wanted to do as well. When I was a young boy, the only people who actually went into space were astronauts.  That goal is a very high bar which I abandoned in high school for various reason.  

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As of February 2020, the world population is about 7.7 billion people. In the history of the world ONLY 536 people have gone into space. Russian cosmonaut Yuri Alekseyevich Gagarin (9 March 1934 – 27 March 1968) was the first man in space.  The first woman in space was also a Russian cosmonaut, Valentina Vladimirovna Tereshkova  (6 March 1937–). When you raise the bar from just going into space to going to the moon, only 12 men have ever walked on the moon,  astronaut Neil Alden Armstrong (August 5, 1930 – August 25, 2012) was the first to do it on July 20th, 1969. In case you’re wondering, the last man to walk on the moon was Eugene Cernan  in December  1972. The oldest person to go back into space was John Glenn (77 years and 103 days old) when  he ventured into space once again aboard the space shuttle Discovery on STS-95 in 1998. John Glenn could not have gone back into space had he not maintained a lifelong discipline of healthy diet and exercise.

The Sky’s the limit!

Sir Richard Branson has an excellent chance of going into space because not only does he maintain a healthy diet and exercise regiment, he’s attempting to create a space tourism company Virgin Galactic, and is currently funding and building reusable space planes. Fellow billionaires Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos are also pursing similar ventures with SpaceX and Blue Origin, respectively.  There are over 2000 billionaires on Earth, and they pretty much collectively own everything. With a bottomless bucket of health, wealth, and knowledge at your disposal, you can accomplish damn near anything you set your mind to. If it’s possible, it will happen! It’s only a matter of time.

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Now here’s the key to success. All of these billionaires started small. Richard Branson opened a record shop. Jeff Bezos sold books on the internet from his garage,  Elon Musk was a co-founder of PayPal.  At one point or another, each of these  people encountered failures and setbacks. Their thirst for success enabled them to dust themselves off, pick up where they left off, and begin again. Each successful and completed goal lead to bigger and better dreams, and those dreams became reality because they took a chance and started something.

In life you have choices to make every day. Most of the time, you will make the wrong decision. Knowledge and experience will reduce the tendency to guess wrongly, but you will never be able to totally eliminate mistakes and human error. If you quit every time you fail, you will never accomplish anything. If you do not make plans, nothing will happen. If you do not do the work, it will not get done.  No one is going to live your life for you. YOU have to make it happen! YOU have to make the plans and do the work. YOU, and ONLY YOU. There will be mistakes and setbacks. DO NOT QUIT! You have to have the thirst for success and the wherewithal  to accomplish your goals. They will require your health, wealth, and knowledge to be top-notch. You have to be strong in all three areas, and you can’t fake strong.  Do not sabotage your success by starting ludicrous goals. Start SMALL and build your strengths, then move on to bigger and better.

It is my ULTIMATE goal as a runner to run an ultra-marathon. If I would have started my first race with a marathon, I would never have accomplished that goal, and I probably would have sustained serious injury or death . My first official race was a 5K run, and I kept building up distances, and training between races. I started training months before I ran my first 5K on April 28th 2019. I ran 11 official races last year. This year I have so far run 2, and have another 22 slated by the end of the year. This does not even take into account the time at the gym running 5K after work, between races.    My first marathon is scheduled for November 22th, 2020, months from now. I will run FIVE half-marathons, Three 15Ks and about a dozen 5Ks between now and then. All the while dieting and cross-training. And at the end of NEXT YEAR, I will attempt an ULTRA if and only if I make it through this first marathon. 

There are long-term goals, and there are short-term goals. Bigger and better means starting, and starting small. Great things come from humble beginnings.  You just have to start somewhere, so hit the road because your journey begins today! As always I wish you success and happiness!

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JUST ANOTHER DROP IN THE BUCKET!

What’s on your list?

JUST ANOTHER DROP

“Coming up with the list is the easy part, but ticking off the list is the challenge. I love a good challenge, which is why I strongly advise everyone to come up with a bucket list. It doesn’t have to contain out of this world tasks (although going to space is on mine). But once you have written down the list, screw it, just do it!”– Sir Richard Branson

Words have power. The power to shape lives, the power to alter destinies.  Often the things we say to others live on long after we have said them, or forgotten that we said them in the first place.  When I was in college, a well-timed conversation with a professor altered my entire life by his simply convincing me to sign up for a class I was intending to skip.  That class was The Bible as Literature, and I became a Christian as a result.  Years later when I was in a dark place after a personal setback, another caring friend took time to offer sage advice and words of wisdom. Once again a well-timed conversation was enough to provide the fuel needed to ‘keep me in the race’ when I was ‘Running on Empty‘.

“The most important thing is to try and inspire people so that they can be great in whatever they want to do.” –Kobe Bryant

Just as I owe a lot to that college professor Steve Miller, I owe an equal if not greater debt to my very good friend Lawrence M. Schoen for saying what I needed to hear when I needed to hear it. I spoke with Lawrence on the phone two weeks ago, and he called me an ‘inspiration’ because of my ongoing marathon training.  I found this very ironic. Lawrence is currently undergoing chemotherapy for multiple myeloma and is in isolation in a hospital cancer ward.  He remains upbeat and positive despite unimaginable pain and suffering as he fights to beat this terrible illness. That outshines any source of inspiration I can provide.  I wish I had half his strength, and I pray for him every day as he battles this cancer.

“Live life ,  live life like you’re gonna die, because you’re gonna…” – William Shatner

Life is not fair, and there are no guarantees. Whatever life tosses at you, you must face it head on, with gusto! Everyone of us is dying,  but few choose to ‘live’ life, choosing instead to merely exist.  In the 2007 movie The Bucket List, two men from very different walks of life meet in a cancer ward.  Jack Nicholson  plays Billionaire Edward Cole,  and scholarly auto-mechanic Carter Chambers is played by Morgan Freeman. An unlikely friendship blossoms between the two dying men  as they set out to fulfill a joint bucket list.  This fictional story has its fair share of both funny and sad moments, and if you haven’t watched the film I recommend it.

Carpe diem!  

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Bucket lists are supposed to be filled with important life goals one wishes to fulfill before they ‘kick the bucket’, an old slang term meaning to die. Unfortunately many people never pursue these goals, instead choosing to live a bland existence discussing pipe dreams that they will do ‘someday’. ‘Someday’ has a nasty habit of becoming NEVER very fast. Today is the first day of the rest of your life, so TODAY is the day you need to live for. Goals are always worth striving for, but they don’t just happen. They take work and time. They take planning and persistence. They take dedication and resources!

Everyone of us gets the same 24hr day to live everyday with only two exceptions, they day we are born and the day we die. Every day we waste is a day we will never get back, and no person on Earth knows how many days we have. Only God has that answer.  

If you are serious about achieving your goals in life, you only need the same three resources I have been stressing to you.

  • Health
  • Wealth
  • Knowledge

Your health is your wealth and your wealth is your health. Those two are intertwined. Knowledge takes time to accumulate, but once again the billionaire and the beggar were both born with exactly the same amount of knowledge.  If you wish to do something, you need to learn everything about it that you possibly can, correct information from trusted sources.  Your life and the choices you make are ultimately up to you.  Some goals are individual ones, some require teamwork and the correct partners.

 

Set goals, and avoid the negative!

My personal goal for 2020 is to run my first marathon in November in Philadelphia.  Today February 9th, 2020 I will be running my second 10K race of the year. My goal for today is beat last month’s time.  I will be trying out my new Mud Gear runner’s compression socks. I started running in 2019 and my first race ever was a 5K last April 28th. I studied the literature on running, I trained in the gym beforehand, I got sage advice from wise council. My goal then was to finish that race, hopefully not last. Last year I was DFL (last) only ONCE when I ran my first 15K. Last year I ran a dozen races, the two longest were both half-marathons in the Fall. I completed every race I ran. This year I have a total of 23 races, and the longest will be my first marathon. My goals for 2021 are even more ambitious. The point is you have to start out small, take baby-steps, and work your way up to bigger and better goals. If I would have started my first race ever as a full marathon with no preparation what-so-ever , I would probably would have landed myself in the hospital, or worse, the grave.  If the plan  to achieve the goal isn’t working, you change the plan, NOT the goal. And when you reach your goal, you don’t stop. You set a bigger and better goal. You keep putting drops in the bucket one by one until you fill the bucket!

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Worrying about what could go wrong is often the fastest way to kill a dream. You will never be able to live a positive life with a negative mind. Negativity is a life-sucker! That which you manifest is before you, so seek out positive sources of inspiration.

The man who first started the running and jogging craze in the USA was James F Fixx, author of the 1977 best-selling book, The Complete Book of Running.  Seven years later he died of a heart attack while jogging on July 20th, 1984. He was 52. Guess what? I know lots of runners older than him who are still running, including my friend Bruce who is 76, has a replacement knee, and is still running half-marathons.  There are no guarantees in life! Kobe Bryant was 41 when he died last month in a helicopter crash only 100 feet from clear skies.  If you worry about dying all the time, you are not living. You are living life when you are outside of your comfort zone. A comfort zone is a nice place, but nothing grows there. So go all out and live your life to the fullest! Make the most of every minute and remember that every second is precious! As always, I wish you success and happiness!

RUNNING ON EMPTY?

Do you have what it takes?

RUNNING ON EMPTY

There are different types of fuel offered at gas stations, and each type is meant for a specific type of automobile engine. Diesel fuel has more chemical energy than gasoline, but gasoline engines cannot combust diesel fuel, so the car would stop running. The reverse situation would be similar, and would more than likely destroy the diesel engine because the gasoline would combust at improper intervals. In either case both vehicles would be going nowhere fast.

Some people also live and die by their little gas gauge. Either they fill their tank only when it’s empty, every time it hits half-full, or always fill it only when they use it with just the pennies in their pocket which they hope will be ‘enough’. The last situation is often referred to as ‘running on empty’. Every now and then, you see one of these people walking to a gas station with an empty gas can, IF they even have one.

As you travel down the proverbial road of life, you are the vehicle that gets you to your final destination. Just as there are different types of car fuel, there are FOUR different types of fuel that keep you going.  How far you go in life is determined by how much ‘fuel’ you have. Are you ‘running on empty’, or do you have what it takes to go the distance?  

The one who eats everything must not treat with contempt the one who does not, and the one who does not eat everything must not judge the one who does, for God has accepted them. –Romans 14:3

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1) Physical Fuel (AKA food) – There are seven types of nutrients that every human being needs to survive. These are: Water, proteins, carbohydrates, lipids (fats), vitamins, minerals, and dietary fiber.  Depending on your body type, age, and sex, you will need different quantities of the seven nutrients at different times of the day, in differing amounts.  Eating too much of the wrong foods at the wrong times will have disastrous health implications.  The same can be said of not getting enough of the right nutrients in your diet.

There is treasure to be desired and oil in the dwelling of the wise; but a foolish man spendeth it up. –Proverbs 20:21

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2) Financial Fuel – Taking care of yourself requires money. There is very little in life that is free. The reality of consumerism  in a capitalist society is that you get what you pay for. The higher the quality, the more expensive the cost. Professional athletes may earn millions of dollars in their respective sports, but they also send far more on maintaining and improving their physical health. More money means a better quality of life, better food, and in some cases, less stress. Here is a real life example, today I paid $90 for three pairs of socks. Socks as in what you wear on your feet. I am a runner in training for my first marathon at the end of this year. These socks are high quality compression running socks from a trusted brand, MUDGEAR. Yes, you can buy socks at the dollar store for $1, but I guarantee you that they will not be good enough for professional running.  

As iron sharpens iron, So a man sharpens the countenance of his friend. Proverbs 27:16

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3) Emotional Fuel – When you feel good about yourself, there is a special type of energy generated.  There is no way to explain it properly. It just radiates outward, and people respond to it.  Since I began training to become a runner, I started losing weight as a result of the combination of diet and exercise programs that I was adhering to. People noticed, and I started getting compliments and praise. This of course adds fuel to fire, and I felt even better. Some people have told me that I’m an inspiration. If my example has managed to fuel the fire of another person to improve their lives, then I count that as a win.  Words have power, and the right word at the proper time can make all the difference in the world. When I ran my first 5K on April 28th, 2019 I told all of my closest friends where and when the race would be. I was excited about the race, and I was also terrified because I have never done anything like that before. It was my secret hope that my friends would take this subtle hint and make a point to cheer me on at the finish line. None of my friends did. What did happen was that other runners, and officials of the race encouraged and cheered me on. And I felt empowered as I crossed that first finish line. As I continued running in more events and for longer distances, I began to make new friends in the running community who share my passion. Now these friends are waiting for me at the finish line cheering me on, and I feel amazing!

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As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. – Psalm 42:1

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4) Spiritual Fuel – As the apostle Paul wrote in his letter to the church at Philippi, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me”  (Philippians 4:13). The Holy Bible is the inerrant word of God and is a source of incredible strength and wisdom to everyone who chooses to read and follow it. I can honestly say that I am a far better man with Jesus in my life than I am without Christ. There is power in that book and I urge you to read it and discover the truth for yourself.  As always, I wish you success and happiness!  

NOW WHAT?

Avoiding the stumbling blocks!

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“Two roads diverged in a wood and I – I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.” – Robert Frost

The road to success is paved with hard work. There are no short cuts, and every journey is an individual one. Two of the most destructive stumbling blocks you will encounter are:

  1. self-doubt
  2. unsolicited advice

If our hearts condemn us, we know that God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything. – 1 John 3:20

Self doubt is often created by the internal worry that we somehow do not measure up to the task, whatever it may be. In his famous book The Power of Positive Thinking Norman Vincent Peale gives us the secret to happiness: “The way to happiness: Keep your heart free from hate, your mind from worry. Live simply, expect little, give much. Scatter sunshine, forget self, think of others. Try this for a week and you will be surprised.”  Self doubt tells us that we can’t succeed, we’ll never win, and that happiness in the form of success will be forever denied us because we are not good enough. The key to remember is that if we were born with a healthy ‘normal’ body, we have the same opportunities in life as any other individual with a similar origin. Sometimes we’ll have people along the road of life to encourage and help us , and sometimes the journey will be a hard and lonely one. The strongest people in life have managed to cast away self doubt and pave their own paths. There is great power in succeeding at a challenge we have set for ourselves. The reward is knowing that we accomplished what the naysayers  told us we could not do. God never gives us anything that we cannot overcome.

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The Narrow Gate

In everything, then, do to others as you would have them do to you. For this is the essence of the Law and the Prophets. Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the way that leads to life, and only a few find it.… –Matthew 7:12-14

“if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” – Burt Lance

Always consider the source when receiving unsolicited advice. Someone telling you not to fix something that works will hold you back from finding a better way to do it. Likewise, if you are doing something that  is working for you, but which is not the way that someone else is doing it, remember that everyone is different. What works for you MIGHT not work for them, and vice versa. As long as you are not doing something illegal or immoral, if it works, keep doing it.  Just because ‘everyone else is doing it’ doesn’t mean you should do it too just to appease them. The only person you are competing with is yourself.   You just need to check yourself to see if you are improving. This is easily accomplished by keeping careful records of your progress. For example, I myself have been struggling with my weight for years, and it took a lot of trial and error before I chanced upon a diet and exercise program that worked for me.  I have carefully monitored and recorded my weight for years. It wasn’t until about three years ago that I discovered a few dietary supplements, meal plans and exercise programs that broke the chains that had been holding me back.  Nine months ago I began competitive running, and now I monitor my progress with that, so I see the results. More importantly,  OTHER people have taken notice of the external changes to my physique, and they have been inspired by it. Actions speak louder than words, and results are hard to argue with. The proof is in the pudding.  If it works, KEEP doing it, never quit, never surrender!

The most important thing you can do in life is to lead by example. You are being watched all the time by everyone in your life, whether or not you are aware of it. It is better to be held up in high esteem as an example of what is possible, as opposed to being a cautionary tale of what NOT to do in life. There are too many fools who took the short-cut down ‘Easy Street’ which lead to destruction. If you want to be happy for the rest of your life, live your life the right way, and remember that life is YOUR life, and you are the one who need to live it. As always, I wish you success and happiness!

THE END IS THE BEGINNING!

Life is a journey!

the end is the beginning

“Be decisive. Right or wrong, make a decision. The road of life is paved with flat squirrels who couldn’t make a decision.” – Anonymous.

In his second letter to Timothy, the Apostle Paul made a metaphor between his life and career in the first century church equating it with a road race.  

” I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” – Paul the Apostle (from 2 Timothy 4:7)

This was one of the many ways the early leadership of the church created bridges between people to connect unfamiliar concepts to various individuals. As I began running road races last year in 2019,  I quickly came to realize how appropriate this comparison was. Before I even attempted my first 5K, my goal was to run a marathon. 5K is 3.1 miles, and a marathon is about nine times that at 26.2 miles. I was inspired by Nathan Maxwell  @socialshark , a friend on Twitter who was an ultra-marathoner. Nate and I connected through a love of coffee. When the internet was in its infancy, it was referred to as The Super Information Highway. Now we have social media sites like Twitter and Facebook. The thing about social media is that it allows individuals to share ideas, images and information of all sorts at a rapid-fire pace, with little or no filter. This double-edged sword has both brought some people closer, while at the same time destroying some relationships.   I am often amazed at the number of people around the world who check in regularly to read my weekly Sunday opinion piece. It is quite humbling.  

Running is a lifestyle choice. Like many things, you do it for as long as you can, on a regular basis. Once you quit, often there is no going back.

 “The end is in the beginning.” – T.S. Eliot

The First Key to success in life is proper planning executed at an early time. If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. I am currently using a lot of racing and health metaphors because of the interconnectivity of health and wealth. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, “Your health IS your wealth, and your wealth IS your health!” As I prepare for my first marathon at the end of 2020, today I run my first official race of the year, a 10K in Muhlenberg PA. Last year I ran a dozen races, from 5Ks to half-marathons. In 2020, my plan is to run twice that, both in distance and frequency. Each of these races has an entry fee. Had my finances not been in order, I could not afford to do this. As an athlete in training for competition, I have certain nutritional requirements. Dietary supplements , special meal plans, and better quality organic produce all cost money. Again, had I not taken steps years ago to fix my finances, I would not be in a position to afford these added costs. Not to mention I also need to buy quality running shoes and gym clothes.  

The Second Key to success in life is you have to want it. That should be obvious, but saying you WANT it and actually wanting it enough to do the work to attain the goal are two different things. When you really WANT something, the effort you are putting into attaining that goal should be outwardly apparent to anyone observing you. Actions speak louder than words, but RESULTS shout from the rooftops! 

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The Third Key is not giving up. The road is long and hard, and there are many stumbling blocks.  My most grueling 5K of 2019 was a night run obstacle course, The Zombie Fun Run. The ‘fun’ stopped when I wrenched my knee as I slipped on a muddy hill. I was terribly concerned with each painful step that I would not be able to finish, but I managed to limp my way to the end. In a couple of days, I was right as rain again.  The first half-marathon I ran two months prior also was fun, until I hit the 9th mile, and was breaking personal distance records. That was when I started getting leg cramps.  I also limped to the end that time.  DNF (Did Not Finish) is currently not in my vocabulary. I have completed every race I signed up for. ONLY once (during the Chobert Challenge 15K trail run) was I DFL (Last), but I did finish.  Often when I am in such trying periods, struggling to reach the finish line, another quote from the Apostle Paul comes to mind.

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” – Paul the Apostle (from Philippians 4:13)

Just like Nate’s Twitter posts inspired me to begin running, other folks I have connected with have inspired me to continue. One fellow runner who is truly amazing is Bruce Cronrath. Bruce is 76 years old, has a replacement knee and still runs half-marathons.  Whenever  we race,  he’s usually a few minutes faster than I am. I currently run about a  12 minute mile, and outweigh Bruce by over 100lbs. Bruce is a Vietnam  Vet and a credit to our country. He is the perfect example of never giving up, and demonstrates what is possible when you devote a lifetime of dedication to a healthy lifestyle  . I hope that when I reach his age, I have his level of stamina and endurance as well.

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Hopefully I have encouraged you through my blog to rise to new heights in whatever pursuits you wish to engage in. You can accomplish it as long as you give it everything you’ve got and never quit!  As always, I wish you success and happiness!

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WHAT’S YOUR VISION?

Go for the gold in 2020!

WHATS YOUR VISION

I am an old man and have known a great many troubles, but most of them never happened.  – Anonymous

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Having put 2019 behind us and recuperated with a long winter’s  nap we are now faced with a fresh new year.  2020 is a golden opportunity to begin again. We can brush off our failures, learn from our mistakes, and build up higher from our successes. The future is mainly how we see it. The term 20/20 is used by optometrists to describe normal, clear and ‘perfect’ vision in a person.  So your primary goal in 2020 is to make your life this year better than it was last year. Everyone faces difficulties in life, but no one ever said life was going to be easy or fair. Living is a process that we all go though  and some of us will always be more successful than others. There will always be someone smarter, faster, richer and better-looking than you. That is NO excuse to give up and do nothing. Nothing happens by itself. Success is a process that takes action, time, hard-work, resources, and most of all, determination. The moment you say ‘I can’t’, you are DONE! Many people defeat themselves before they even start due to their negative outlook. You cannot have a positive life with a negative mind.   

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Define your terms!

Say what you mean, and mean what you say.

  • Action : the fact or process of doing something, typically to achieve an aim.
  • Goal : the object of a person’s ambition or effort; an aim or desired result.
  • Idea :  a thought or suggestion as to a possible course of action.
  • Plan : a detailed proposal for doing or achieving something.
  • Process:  a series of actions or steps taken in order to achieve a particular end.
  • Strategy : a plan of action or policy designed to achieve a major or overall aim.
  • Vision : the ability to think about or plan the future with imagination or wisdom.

The plans of the diligent lead to profit as surely as haste leads to poverty.– Proverbs 21:5

Clarity of vision begins with the understanding that certain actions have to be undertaken to achieve the desired goal.  It is a PROCESS! You must learn to crawl, before you learn to walk. Success takes steps. Overnight success stories are so rare as to be practically myths. ‘Get Rich Quick’ schemes are the pursuit of fools. If being successful were THAT easy, EVERYONE would be wealthy.

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Lead by example!

Your actions speak louder than your words. There are countless motivational speakers and coaches on the lecture circuit. The reasons for this are as varied as the number of self-improvement books on the shelf. They are all variations on the same theme, and as the Bible says, “there is nothing new under the sun.” The best type of motivation comes from within. YOU have to want it! YOU have to do it! No one can live your life for you.  When YOU decide that ‘enough is enough’ and that ‘something must be done’ is when the process of self-discovery and healing begins. This is YOUR LIFE! I want you to be happy and successful, but I can’t do the work for you. I can give you the tools but you must use them and do the work yourself.  It will not be easy, but I assure you, in the end it will be worth it.

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In 2019, I took up distance running with the goal of working towards eventually running a full marathon or longer. A marathon is 26.2 miles. My first official run of 2019 was a 5K race (3.1 miles). I trained for two months before I even undertook that initial run.  Prior to that first run, I had no idea how I would physically handle the challenge, but I was determined to complete it. Over the course of 2019 I ran a dozen official timed races ranging from 5Ks to half-marathons. As I built up to the longer distances, the shorter distances became cakewalks.   I put my fitness plan into action and began the process towards achieving my goal. Along the way, I received great advice and encouragement from peers in the running community who lifted my spirit to greater heights.

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I hit 2020 running from the first! On New Year’s Day January 1st, 2020 I ran my first un-official  5K race with another runner in my running pack. It was just the two of us, mono a mono. It was symbolic as Steve Capozello  was much faster than I, so I had no expectation of beating him.  The result was not the important part, running the race was. Next Sunday Jan 12th 2020 is my first OFFICIAL race of the year, number 2 in the ‘Shiver by the River’ winter running series held in Muhlenberg PA on second Sundays from December through March. In 2020 my plan is to have at least one OFFICIAL race every single month, sometimes running up to four races. I intend to run twice as many races as last year with the goal of running a full marathon in November. Again, had I not started this process of self-improvement I would not be able to attain these milestones that I have been reaching along the way. It was NOT luck. I did the work, and I ran the race. I share this with you not for bragging rights, but as encouragement to demonstrate that it IS POSSIBLE to do. You just have to want it first! As always, I wish you success and happiness!