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!

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.

kayaking

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.

JEEPER

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!     

THE FOREVER QUARANTINE!

What are we waiting for???

THE FOREVER QUARANTINE

The  Antiseptic Baby and the Prophylactic Pup 
Were playing in the garden when the Bunny gamboled up; 
They looked upon the Creature with a loathing undisguised;— 
It wasn’t Disinfected and it wasn’t Sterilized. 
 
They said it was a Microbe and a Hotbed of Disease;         
They steamed it in a vapor of a thousand-odd degrees; 
They froze it in a freezer that was cold as Banished Hope 
And washed it in permanganate with carbolated soap. 
 
In sulphurated hydrogen they steeped its wiggly ears; 
They trimmed its frisky whiskers with a pair of hard-boiled shears;   
They donned their rubber mittens and they took it by the hand 
And elected it a member of the Fumigated Band. 
 
There’s not a Micrococcus in the garden where they play; 
They bathe in pure iodoform a dozen times a day; 
And each imbibes his rations from a Hygienic Cup—   
The Bunny and the Baby and the Prophylactic Pup.

poem Strictly Germ-proof by Arthur Guiterman  (His poem was published in the Woman’s Home Companion in 1906 and poked fun at the growing obsession that Americans seemed to have with trying to keep things clean.)

I cannot speak for other countries, but I am seeing a growing frustration with this seemingly endless shutdown. COVID-19, the virus that shut down the world is by and large the top health topic of 2020. Everyone, everywhere is affect by this stupid virus in one way or another. It is impacting health, finances, and religious activity. I like a large group of American citizens feel that the timing of this shutdown and its impact on the nation during an election year is highly suspect.

It seems that there are two camps right now, each firmly entrenched in their own beliefs. Disagreeing with a member of the ‘other camp’ will not change their mind, it will only bring down a storm of wrath and hatred upon you.

The two camps are:

  • those who seemingly believe that COVID-19 is the worst plague in the history of the world and is destined to wipe out all life on Earth unless we shut everything down and quarantine everyone for an ‘safe’ period of.. oh say, maybe a decade?
  • those like myself, who feel that this ‘killer plague’ is nothing for healthy individuals to be concerned about, but that the ramifications of shutting down the economy are far worse than any super-flu.

The country needs to go back to normal TODAY! You quarantine sick, elderly, or infirm people to protect THEM. Forcing healthy people to stay locked-up takes away their freedom and their rights.  This is tyranny, and people need to rise up.

If you are an ‘essential worker’ or have a monthly income, sitting at home is a minor inconvenience. Small business owners stand to potentially lose their life’s work and savings. Furloughed employees in many cases have NO income and cannot feed their families. They MUST get back to work FAST or their children will starve. When this lock-down fist occurred, it was supposed to be temporary. A couple of weeks. Two weeks in March stretched to first ALL of April, then ALL of May, and now PART of June, but maybe longer, and watch out, there might be a ‘second wave’ in the Fall. This madness must end. Just this past Friday there were protests at the State Capital calling for the impeachment and or resignation of Gov. Wolf because of his handling of this crisis.   

“We have a saying in the movement that you can’t trust anybody over 30.” Jack Weinberg activist, in an article printed on November 15, 1964

It’s funny how the hippies back in the 1960’s used to say don’t trust anyone over 30. Once they themselves finally ‘grew up’, their tune changed to ‘don’t trust anyone under 30’. It’s ironic how things come full circle. I believe the most dangerous part of this society today is how these young people, the so-called ‘millennials’,  are so quick to get information and affirmation from peers or viral internet memes, rather than seeking timeless wisdom or expert opinion. It’s as if any bit of information that didn’t occur within their lifetimes does not exist. It’s hard to blame them in some cases because the signal to noise ratio is so vast. When I was a very young boy, the internet didn’t exist, we had seven TV channels and there was no such thing as DVD’s or streaming content. If you missed it, you didn’t see it unless there as a re-run.

Today, with the full sum of human knowledge in the palm of their hand, people choose what facts the want to believe,  and ignore anything that doesn’t fit their narrative. Again, who can blame them? There is so much content being generated each day that it would take a lifetime just to read, watch, and listen to everything created that day.  Now you miss it because it becomes buried in the miasma emanating from the internet.

I AM THE BUNNY OF DOOM! FEAR ME!

Lately I have been focusing on the past.

The poem Strictly Germ-proof has been running through my head for the better part of the week.  Especially the last two lines of the first stanza. When people see me walking around refusing to wear a mask or gloves, I see their loathing. I am ‘the bunny’, but I refuse to let THEM freeze me in a freezer cold as banished hope!  This bunny has teeth and will lash out in self-defense if you attempt it. I have had co-worker who practically accused me of attempting to murder their entire family because I refuse to comply with these CDC recommendations. If you think a mask and gloves will save your life, YOU wear them! If you feel I am some asymptomatic ‘Typhoid Mary’ stay as far away from me as you feel safe. Go take a long walk on a short pier, it might do me some good. And as you sit in self isolation,  maybe you should watch the 1931 film Laughing Gravy, it’s one of my favorite Laurel and Hardy films and should be available to watch online somewhere.  As always I wish you success and happiness!

REALITY IS VIRTUAL!

(At least for now…we hope!)

reality is virtual

As you well know by now,  in mid-March most of the USA, as well as nearly every nation on Earth began shutting down EVERYTHING, EVERYWHERE that was deemed non-essential due to the world-wide pandemic COVID-19,  AKA the Wuhan coronavirus, sometimes shortened to just corona.

It is now nearly two months later, and most of the fun things in life remain shut down. You cannot go to a movie theater with your friends, dine in at your favorite restaurant or pub, and any large gathering if severely frowned upon by people who INSIST that the virus that shut down the world will wipe out all life on earth if you get within 6 feet (2 meters) of another person, or if you don’t wear a face mask, or if you don’t wear rubber gloves, or if you don’t bathe in hand sanitizer. When this began, we were told that these small sacrifices would be temporary, then the weeks turned into months,  the rules went from voluntary to mandatory, and still there is no end in sight.

People are so afraid of dying from Covid 19, that they remain locked-up at home and instead contract Covid-15! What is Covid-15 you may ask? Covid-15 is the new name for a health disorder contracted by first-year college students who would gain 15 lbs by eating unhealthy foods and not exercising. All joking aside, your best defense against the coronavirus is to have a healthy immune system. You get a healthy immune system by having a healthy active lifestyle, and eating healthy foods.  Sitting on the couch glued to the TV for hours a day, munching on Doritos and drinking Mountain Dew is probably the fastest way to wreck your health during this lock-down.  

For people who just go to the gym to exercise, this shutdown has cut off their only outlet for exercise. Unless they have fitness equipment at home, or can improvise make-shift weights, they are out of luck. Or are they?

I can make you a new man!

Charles Atlas  (October 30, 1892 – December 24, 1972) was a bodybuilder in the 1920’s  who developed a no-equipment exercise program called Dynamic Tension almost a hundred years ago. He began offering his free program by mail in 1929. In the Charles Atlas exercise program, you use your own body to provide resistance and are able to exercise weight-free. You can do these exercises virtually anywhere. These are far more effective than isometric exercises, another equipment-free exercise method.  No gym required. So if you’re determined to not step one foot outside until this ‘exaggerated’ crisis is over (probably five or six years from now), you can find all of these dynamic tension workouts online. There are countless YouTube videos . And best of all, they are still FREE! Like the late Charles Atlas proclaimed, give him 15 minutes a day, and he will make you a new man!

GET OUT AND RUN!

Forcing sick people to stay at home is called quarantine. Forcing healthy people to stay at home is not only wrong, it’s tyranny! Many healthy people are frustrated by this lock-down, and they are demanding that the various states in which they reside be re-opened. Again, the doomsayers proclaim that if the ban is lifted, death and all the miseries that plague humanity will come out just like opening Pandora’s Box. I say poppycock! A runner runs! Without access to a treadmill, either at a gym, or a home unit, a runner needs to hit the open road. Since the shutdown, all the remaining races of March, as well as every race in April and May have been cancelled. Now races in June and July, possibly even August may be cancelled as well. State parks have been officially shut down, as have some trails. Again I am thankful that this virus struck in 2020, not a year ago in Spring 2019. I was training at the gym in March and April last year as I prepared for my first ever official timed race, Beat Beethoven at Alvernia University on April 28th, 2019. My first race ever, and six weeks of training leading up to it would have been obliterated. I probably never would have run again.

Fast forward a year later, and now I have a group of amazing friends to hang out with every weekend.  Originally before COVID-19 struck, several of us were planning to run in the Gettysburg Half Marathon to celebrate my one year anniversary of running.  Since the fixed date moves, I now recognize the last Sunday in April as my anniversary date. I was then going to follow up with the Ocean City MD Island to Island Half Marathon.  But as I said, officially timed races are all on hiatus for the immediate future. I, like many runners MUST keep training for upcoming races, pandemic or not! I will be running my first ever FULL MARATHON in Philly on November 22nd,  just over six months from now.

The ONLY thing left for the professional runner to do is sign up for ‘virtual races’ and watch it themselves to clock the time and distance using their runner’s smart watches.  Virtual races are where you register for the race online, then you run that distance anywhere, alone or in groups, on the trails and streets, or even on a treadmill IF you have access to one during this insane quarantine.  Fortunately RunTheEdge.com     has been offering a FREE series of virtual races so my running friends ‘The Pack’ and I have been doing many of these either alone or on in smaller groups during the week, and in much larger groups of six to ten on the weekends. There are also pay-to-run virtual races that will provide you everything from a bib and T-shirt, right up to a finisher’s medal. I personally believe that every time I run a distance of 13.1 miles  or more, I DESERVE a medal.  If you are interested in swag, do a search to see what virtual races are out there and what they offer. Many of them donate a portion of their profits to charities, so you get to do some good for your fellow man.   

Since the last Sunday in April got rained out, a large number of The Pack got to together and ran various distances up to our abilities on May 3rd, 2020. Felicia, Steve, Lacey, me, and Gina ran Virtual Half Marathons (VHMs) together.

uncancelled

I will caution people that running long distances solo and unsupported is a bad idea. IF you are going to run a VHM or further distance, run with a buddy of equal ability and try to set up water stashes along your route. 13.1 miles is a long distance to run without water, and although we all made it,  we won’t make that mistake again. I was the ONLY one to carry a personal sport bottle, and I ran out after ten miles.  I am the slowest member of the group so my run took an extra hour. Fortunately the faster runners were able to bike out to me with a water bottle by the last mile of my run.

For my first VHM I chose one that offered a medal I craved, TheCrushCorona, a depiction of the dread virus being stomped beneath a runner’s sneaker made me very happy. This was my third half marathon, and my best time yet.  

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As for the rest of The Pack, Allison who suffers from exercise-induced asthma  ran an 8K. Two of the Spartans, Justin and Steph ran a virtual endurance challenge called the  Yeti Ultra 24 Hour Challenge. They had to run or walk 5 miles every 4 hours for 24 hours.  It was a real party, a total celebration with good friends and pizza! We had a blast!

thepack

Unfortunately, a few members of The Pack got backlash from germophobes who felt the need to scold and insult us for our reckless behavior, and for partying while ‘people are dying’. Newsflash– life is for living! No one in the group is sick! Even the two weakest members of The Pack are stronger than the ‘Iowa Couch Potato’.  We support each other, and the strength of  The Pack IS The Pack! We are healthy BECAUSE we LIVE HEALTHY. Your best defense against COVID-19 is a strong body and a healthy immune system.

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This weekend, The Pack decided to mix things up. We drove to a new trail, planned to run 7 miles, followed immediately by what I thought was supposed to be a 14 mile bike ride. At least that was the plan. First, it was an unseasonably cold day. As we were unfamiliar with the terrain, we overshot the bike part by 5 miles, extending the journey to a total of 24 miles. 

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My biking ability is not YET up to a 24 mile trek, especially after running 7 miles in under 90 minutes. 14 miles MIGHT have been doable for me, but the extra mileage did me in so I had to wait a few minutes for rescue once I could pinpoint my location to an intersection at a road crossing. Again, this stresses the importance of the buddy system (and carrying a cellphone) when running or biking long distances.  You do NOT want to be injured and alone in an unsupported race.  

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So if you TRULY desire to live your life to the fullest, get out there and run and enjoy yourself! If people feel the need to tell you how to live YOUR LIFE, ignore them! Haters gotta hate! It’s who THEY are, and what THEY do. YOU are better than THEY ever will be, YOU are amazing! As always, I wish you success and happiness!

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!

A RUNNER RUNS!

What to do when the whole world is CLOSED!

A RUNNER RUNS

Today is Easter, April 12th 2020 in the USA. Church is CLOSED. Restaurants are CLOSED. The mall and almost all stores are CLOSED. Gyms are CLOSED. Anything non-essential is shut-down. If you happen to be Greek Orthodox, next Sunday is Easter for you, but things aren’t looking any better.  The COVID-19 virus has brought the entire world to a stand-still. There are events in JUNE that are now being cancelled,  and school in many parts of the US is over for the year. So this morning I got up and ran 5K with my friends. Last night we ran 10K. Events may have been cancelled, but life has not. To a runner, running is essential, running IS life! A runner runs!

This year the coronavirus has brought the world to its knees. As of today, COVID-19 has affected 210 countries, there have been over 1,800,738 cases, 112,204 deaths, and 415,000 who made a full recovery. In the USA those numbers are 535,591 cases, 21,409 deaths and 31,018 who made a full recovery.  The total US population is about 330,000,000. The virus is NOT a death sentence, yes it is HIGHLY contagious, but the best  defense against COVID-19 is a healthy immune system. The power that made the body has the power to heal the body. Physical activity and a healthy diet are the key elements needed to ensure that your immune system is able to defeat any disease.

I am not a virologist. In all likelihood neither are you. There is a plethora  of articles, opinions, and studies on COVID-19. Some contain facts, some are so error-filled as to be ludicrous. Depending on where you live, it may be a hotbed of disease like New York City, or maybe you live in an area like I do, where we have less than 800 cases in the entire county. I am more concerned about the economic ramifications of a long-term shutdown of places of employment than I am about the health aspects of this disease. There have been documented cases of people who donated blood, and were informed that their blood contained COVID-19 antibodies. In other words, they caught the disease, didn’t even know they had it in the first place, and their healthy immune system fought the virus and WON!  I’m also certain there are people walking around today oblivious to the fact that they caught the virus months ago and beat it.

 

I am grateful that COVID-19 struck in 2020 and not last year. A year ago today I was not a runner, I was a ‘wannabe’! I wanted to be a runner, I had never run a race before and I was inspired by a friend on twitter who was an Ultra-marathoner.  I was training to run in my first ever 5K on April 28th, 2019. I was  fat and I wanted to be thin and healthy. I knew nothing, the whole race culture was alien to me. I put my bib on backwards! Thankfully someone told me my number went on the front not the back. I was all on my own in a sea of professionals and I knew NOTHING! My plan was two-fold. ONE: Put one foot in front of the other and repeat rapidly for as long as it takes. TWO: Not be last. I succeed in both counts thanks to the support and encouragement of other runners. 

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As the year went on, I made friends with many runners and we soon began to form a little running pack, and we would run together on and off the track. These fellow runners soon became closer than many of my lifelong friends, not one of which has to this day come to any of my races, let alone waited for me at the FINISH LINE.

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If the virus had struck a year ago, I would not be where I am today!

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Now I may be unconcerned about the disease, but I am sympathetic to those who have died. Death happens to each and every one of us at some point. A weak, sickly person may crawl their way through life and live to be 100. A healthy twenty-something in the prime of their life might get hit by a bus. If you live your life in fear, you will be afraid of everything until the day you die.  There are no guarantees in life, and if someone told you life was fair, they lied! But isn’t it worth spending each and every day as healthy as possible? Isn’t it better to be filled with hope than full of dread?

Christians have the hope of a better life after this one, guaranteed us by the blood of Christ shed on the cross when he died for our sins. This world is temporary, and we are but a vapor. That doesn’t mean we waste our lives, waiting to die. Life is meant to be lived and enjoyed!  Even if you have a compromised immune system and are susceptible to catch every germ and virus you encounter, you can use your time in self-isolation studying the Bible and exercising at home. Running a mile on a home treadmill is still running a mile. And it only takes about 77 hours to read through the entire Bible.  What else where you planning to do while the whole world was closed? So stop making excuses and take control of your life once and for all! If I have one hope concerning this virus, it’s that everyone that makes it through this does so as a better person than they were before. Happy Easter and God bless us, everyone!  As always I wish you success and happiness!   

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WHEN LIFE GIVES YOU LEMONS…

Make lemonade!

When Life Gives You Lemons

We’ve all heard the old saying, “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade!” It is a cleaver way of making the best of your situation. Lemonade is such a simple thing to make, the most basic recipe uses just three ingredients. lemons, water, and sweetener of choice.  You can even make it healthy by avoiding processed white sugar. Sweeten it to your taste with stevia, or honey, just avoid the artificial sweeteners, that  stuff is worse for your health.

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Covid-19, AKA ‘the Coronavirus’ has shut down nearly the entire USA, as well as most of the world. As I happen to live in the USA, my focus is on what is happening in my country.  As of April 1st, 2020 there are over 300,000 cases of the disease in the USA, and over 8,000 deaths.  Everything is cancelled or closed. Today is Palm Sunday, next Sunday is Easter, and for the first time in the history of the USA, people will not be allowed to gather in churches to celebrate Holy Week. Any worshiping of Almighty God has been relegated to whatever private citizens are doing in the privacy of their homes, with their family members who live under the same roof. Guests need not bother visiting, least they bring the plague with them. People are scared, people are unemployed, and people need hope.

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This past week during a Covid-19 press update from the White House rose garden, President Donald J. Trump invited Michael J. Lindell to speak. Lindell was one of several CEOs present to speak at the conference, and he owns the My Pillow brand. Like many companies eager to do what they can to stop the spread of this highly infectious Coronavirus , Michael Lindell explained how his company has temporarily  stopped making pillows and re-tooled to start making surgical face masks.  He concluded his portion of the conference by encouraging people to enjoy the time spent isolated with their families, and to spend time reading their Bibles. 

As it stands at this time, the shut down continues, and will last the reminder of the month of April.

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God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.– Reinhold Niebuhr, 1943  

This is the first time in the history of my country that the entire nation has been shut down for weeks. The last time we had widespread shortages and rationing was during World War II.  At Heath Evangelical Union Church in Heath, Massachusetts,  Reinhold Niebuhr first spoke his famous Serenity Prayer at a sermon delivered while the country was embattled in war. Today, like then, we are fighting a war, only it is now against an invisible enemy.  We cannot control the virus. It is a force of nature, and it must run its course.  We cannot control how long the shutdown remains in effect,  and we cannot control who dies from the disease because their immune system was just not strong enough to fight the virus. There is no cure. There is no vaccine. They can treat the symptoms, isolate you if you get it, and in extreme cases put you on a ventilator if you stop breathing, assuming there is one available.  The only thing you have control  over now is yourself.  If you are unsure of how to avoid the virus, or what to do if you are sick, consult the official US government website at  https://www.coronavirus.gov

God tells us not to waste our lives worrying about what may come to pass, or obsessing over things which we have no control over.  God is real, and God is good, ALWAYS. You can choose to curse the darkness, or you can choose to be a source of light in the world. No matter what the situation, you can choose to make the best of the hand you are dealt and rise above your circumstance.  The economic ripples from the impact of the coronavirus will be far reaching, but for now we just have to hunker down and get through it.

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For me personally, the last Sunday in April is a special anniversary. One year ago, on April 28th, 2019 I became a runner.  That was the day I ran my first ever official 5K race. Over the  course of the year I would run nearly a dozen races, including 2 half-marathons. This year I had planned to run more than two dozen races as I trained towards running my first marathon in November. Now all of my official races in April have been cancelled, as well as some in May, and possibly even some in June. I cannot go to the gym and train on a treadmill, gyms are closed. Fortunately my small pack of running friends and I have been hitting various trails and making our own fun. 

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Yeah, there are no race t-shirts, no medals. It’s just fun-runs. I had been looking forward to running a half-marathon on the last Sunday of this month with my friends to celebrate, but that race was cancelled. The best thing about half-marathons and up is that you get a finishers medal when you complete the race.

It is my firm intention NOT to allow this virus to destroy all the progress I have made this past year, and moving forward. My official races have been cancelled but I am doing more running now than I ever have with the support and encouragement of my friends.  Today The Pack will be running at least 8 miles. A runner runs! Just because you cannot do the things you normally would, you don’t quit! A runner runs! You find an alternative. A runner MUST run!

Going Virtual

MEDAL DASH is hosting a ‘virtual race’ The #CRUSHCORONA 5K/10K/13.1/26.2

https://runsignup.com/Race/TX/VirtualRun/CRUSHCORONA5K10K131262VIRTUALRUN

A ‘virtual race’ is one in which a person signs up online, pays the registration fee, and you run the race ANYWHERE during the appointed time period. You submit your time to the website, and they mail you your t-shirt and medal for completing the race. So today I’m going to encourage The Pack to help me celebrate on April 26th and run this virtual race when we meet this morning for our run. There’s about 8 in the group, and the line-up changes depending  if people are available to run when we meet up. Usually it’s always been about 4 or 5 at a time.  At least two of them will definitely run 13.1 miles with me, and another two may opt to go 10K. If it rains that date, we’ll do it the following week. You can’t control the weather, and The #CRUSHCORONA 5K/10K/13.1/26.2 virtual race can be run any time prior to May 31st. 

Now some people are un-employed at the moment due to this shut down, and maybe paying money for a virtual seems frivolous. My situation is good, for now.

There is also a totally FREE series of virtual races The UnCancelled Project offered by RUN THE EDGE just for fun during the month of April, and I will be doing these as well.

https://runtheedge.com/pages/un-canceled-project-registration

Being healthy is your best defense against COVID-19. Getting outside for fresh air and exercise is recommended by public health officials in most areas at this time, but precautions are necessary. It’s important to follow careful guidelines:

  •  DON’T go out if you’re sick! Stay home and help protect others.
  •  DON’T organize workouts in large groups. Keep it small.
  • DO announce your presence to others to help maintain the recommended six feet of social distance.
  • DO stay informed on your local rules and regulations in response to COVID-19.

The Wolf Pack

If you are in an area that’s under a total lock-down, use your time at home wisely and do things to improve yourself.  There are all sorts of home exercise programs you can start, if you have the internet, you have the sum total of human knowledge at your fingertips! Read, especially read The Bible. Catch up on all those chores you’ve been putting off. Don’t just sit there feeling sorry for yourself, enjoy your life! As always I wish you success and happiness!

The virus that shut down the world!

When you live your life in fear, you are afraid until you die.

THE VIRUS

I’m a few hours late posting today’s blog. Honestly, I was struggling whether or not to even post it, because it reflects my personal opinion, and may generate a bit of a backlash due to its controversial nature.

You may have seen Venn diagrams before, though you might not have known what they were called. In a Venn diagram, you group items in two or more  circles, and if they have anything in common, the circles overlap.  It is a way of listing interrelated  content to show how things connect.

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When I started writing my weekly blog InstantCoffeeWisdom.com it was with the intent of demonstrating that success and happiness are yours for the taking. A way of  showing you ‘the possible’ where you only saw ‘impossible’. These weekly articles are a sort of a series of interlocking Venn diagrams.  I started out writing about microeconomics, built up to macroeconomics, then discussed how your views on finance, religion and politics are connected.   Since the beginning of the 2020, I’ve been focusing on how your health is interconnected to your finances.  

Which brings us to the elephant in the room, Covid-19. I honestly do not want to write about the Wuhan coronavirus pandemic, but if there is a bigger Venn diagram linking health, wealth, politics, etc, I certainly can’t think of one. Because Covid-19 is such a hot-button topic impacting every major country on Earth, I feel a duty to my readers to discuss the subject.  You may not like what I have to say.

Full disclosure: I am a Trump supporter, and I am of the opinion that the virus is being politicized. By that I mean that the liberal media is using it to stoke fear,  to spread misinformation, and  to make President Trump look bad in the eyes of voters in a effort to deny him a second term. This is an election year.

If you hate Trump, nothing he says or does will ever be good, right, or intelligent. Nothing I say on this subject will change the way YOU feel.  Likewise, bashing Trump will not go over well with me. I support my president 100% and no person on Earth is more qualified to lead the USA during this crisis.   Whether you chose to believe it or not, President Donald J. Trump cares about you and your country, and is doing everything in your best interest.    

Yes, I am ‘concerned’ about Covid-19, but I am more concerned by the economic ramifications than I am by the health implications. Covid-19 ‘can’ kill you, but so can the flu and countless other diseases.

It is my personal conviction that the very best way to beat this disease is to be healthy enough in the first place by living a healthy active lifestyle.

Worldwide over 650,000 people have gotten Covid-19. 30,000 have died, but 100,000 have fully recovered.  In the USA we have over 100,000 confirmed cases, and less than 2,000 deaths. The US population is 330,000,000. Some  smaller countries like Italy have been harder hit. Yes Covid-19 is highly contagious, so if YOU are sick  you need to self-quarantine. Same goes if you have a weak immunity system. Stay home.  From my perspective, the percentage of getting the virus is so small, and the chances of dying so small that I’m not worried .  Everyone of us is going to die from something, someday. By having a healthy active lifestyle, we increase our chances of living a long and productive life. No matter what precautions we take, risks we dare, or calculations we make, NOTHING is guaranteed in life.  I refuse to let fear run my life. God is in control.

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I have co-workers and friends who are freaking out with worry and blind panic over this disease. If you accidently sneeze or  cough,  you are treated like you’re trying to kill them.  They wear masks and rubber gloves, and I keep waiting for one of them to show up wearing a full hazmat containment suit one day.  I don’t wear either gloves or a mask, and maybe I’ll use hand sanitizer once or twice a year on a whim. I certainly don’t bathe in gallons of the stuff like the people around me are doing right now. Either I’m right, or I’m wrong. Ask me next year how I made out.   

There’s an epidemic of what I call ‘well-shaming’ and ‘single-shaming’ going on. If you’re healthy and well, you’re being told that you’re asymptomatic and just because you feel fine doesn’t mean you don’t have the virus, so YOU should stay home so THEY can be safe.   And if you’re single and well, you’re being told the same thing, that YOU should stay home so that THEIR family will be safe.  If YOU are worried that I MAY infect YOU, by all means please stay as far away from me as makes you feel safe for as long as you need to.  If you are immune compromised with a weak immune system you need to be very careful with everything YOU do  and YOU need to take every precaution that YOU need to take to ensure that YOU don’t get the virus. I want you to be happy and healthy.  Don’t worry about me, I’m fine, and I am doing what I think is right for me.  Just don’t tell me what you FEEL I SHOULD be doing, because I just may tell you WHERE TO GO AND WHAT TO DO!  This is still a free country.

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LET’S TALK HYGIENE!

Proper hygiene is essential to good health. As the old saying goes, ‘cleanliness is next to godliness’. You should always practice good hygiene, pandemic or no pandemic.

  • Wash your hands frequently, especially after going to the restroom, or before handling food.
  • Avoid touching your face
  • Cover your mouth when sneezing or coughing,  use a tissue if you have one handy.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently used items and surfaces.
  • Bathe daily
  • Wear clean clothes
  • If you’re sick, stay home!

I’M ALL OUTTA BUBBLEGUM!

Aside from illness, the Covid-19 panic has lead to widespread shortages as people began hoarding various goods.  Most Americans have never faced such widespread shortages of needed groceries, shut downs of shops and services not deemed essential. We are not used to being told NOT to go to church, not to travel, not to gather socially. The last time we had nationwide rationing of foodstuffs was probably during World War II. It’s certainly the first time in my lifetime that the nation has been virtually locked down. 

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Again, if you’ve been reading my blog from the beginning, you may recall my early article Oh no! Not Again! from October 22, 2017. If you followed my advice, you had a fully stocked larder with plenty of supplies to fall back upon. You had cash reserves to see you through as businesses closed under government orders, and people were told to stay home.  

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If you failed to follow my advice, sorry, but I did try to warn you. My heart bleeds for the single mom struggling to make ends meet who went to buy the ONE pack of diapers she desperately needed only to find bare shelves. Or the person that needed toilet paper, and tried pleading for ONE pack with a greedy hoarder who filled their shopping cart with every last roll on the shelves. These people never expected to encounter these types of shortages.  It’s like telling little Billy not to touch the hot stove, only to hear an ear-splitting wail of pain not five minutes later. Pain is a powerful teacher . It is sad and unfortunate that some people must experience hardship in order to learn valuable life lessons. Things will get better, most of us will be just fine.  Some of us will sail through this unscathed, and some of us are going to suffer either because we filed to do the right thing at the right time.   

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Fortunately On March 27, 2020 President Trump signed into law the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security or CARES Act, a relief package aimed at mitigating some of the economic fallout caused by efforts to allay the spread of Covid-19. Employees furloughed, laid off, or fired will begin receiving a onetime stimulus  check to help tide them over.  Retirees will be getting checks also according to AARP.  Payments may be arriving as early as this Monday for some.   The quicker that people get back to work, the faster life will get back to normal. The longer business are shut down, the less likely they will be able to ever open their doors again. There are provisions in the CARES Act which will provide business both small and large with government loans. Hopefully the country will heal as a nation and become stronger. Hopefully people will learn from their mistakes and be better prepared for the next disaster. We hope for the best, but should prepare for the worst. As always I wish you success and happiness!   

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CUTTING THE FAT!

‘The Skinny’ on diet pills!

CUTTING THE FAT

(This is part two of a two part series on nutritional supplements. For part one read ELIXIRS OF LIFE?)

Of the more than $30 billion annually in the USA on dietary supplements, the majority on the purchases are spent on  weight-loss products.  An estimated 45 million Americans go on a diet each year, and Americans spend actually $33 billion each year on weight loss products when you start to include things like diet-foods and diet beverages. Most of this money is completely wasted.

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As with other nutritional supplements, Weight loss supplements come in three forms: pills, powders, and liquids.

Although vitamins weren’t discoverer until 1912 and only started being marketed in 1915, weight loss supplements actually precede vitamins by decades, having been first sold in the late 1880’s. Being overweight is not an illness, BUT is a health problem which can lead to many other health complications including various illness such as diabetes and heart disease.  Additionally, carrying excessive amounts of weight on your body will also lead to depression and an early grave.

When people think of weight loss supplements, diet pills are the first thing that comes to mind. As most of these products come in pill form, we will use the terms ‘diet pills’ and ‘weight loss supplements’ interchangeably throughout this article.  

Diet pills are sold two ways, by doctor prescription, or over-the-counter. They all have side-effects, and most are not intended for long term use because they can lead to other serious health issues such as heart-attacks, stroke, seizures and death. Years ago, a weight-loss bar I was eating regularly, the ABB EXTREME RIPPED FORCE bar which contained a combination of caffeine and (the now-banned) ephedra had that very disclaimer. I decided I’d rather be dead than fat so the warning was of little concern to me.

Some of these pills can be addictive, and all of them loose their effectiveness over time as your body builds up a tolerance to the active ingredients. Many of the products contain caffeine as an ingredient.     

Four prescription weight-loss drugs are approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for long-term use: bupropion-naltrexone (Contrave), liraglutide (Saxenda), orlistat (Xenical) and phentermine-topiramate (Qsymia).

The non-prescription diet pills sold over-the-counter are too numerous to list, but they come in four categories:

  • Appetite suppressants
  • Diuretics (water pills)
  • Thermogenics (fat burners)
  • Metabolism Boosters  (stimulants)

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Over-the-counter weight-loss-pills are mostly herbal supplements usually containing any or all of the following :

  • Garcinia cambogia (recently pulled from shelves)
  • Glucomannan
  • Conjugated linoleic acid (CLA)
  • Raspberry ketones
  • Forskolin
  • Chromium
  • Green tea
  • Bee pollen
  • Maroon bush
  • Damiana
  • Alfalfa
  • Butcher’s broom
  • Olive leaf
  • Parsley
  • Green tea
  • Dandelion
  • Mate

They may or may not contain caffeine, and / or similar stimulants, and may or may not be fortified with additional vitamins and minerals, usually in the form of a proprietary blend that is purported to help you lose weight fast!

“Running is real and relatively simple…but it ain’t easy.” ­– Mark Will-Weber

By the numbers

  • A pound of fat is 3500 calories.
  • The Standard American Diet (SAD) is 2000-2500 calories a day.
  • A slice of cheese pizza is about 250 calories.
  • A McDonald’s Big Mac is 563 calories.
  • On average a 5K run will burn between 300 and 400 calories.
  • The fattest man who ever lived was Jon Brower Minnoch who at one point weighed 1,400 lbs. He died in 1983 just short of his 42nd birthday.

Men were meant to climb mountains NOT become mountains. I am NOT endorsing fat-shaming.  It is IMPOSSIBLE to fully enjoy life in such a disgusting condition. There is a reason the term is morbidly obese. IF you are carrying a few extra pounds, know that I too have struggled with my weight for years before I hit upon the proper combination of diet and exercise that worked for me. Notice I said diet, not diet-pills.  I am still overweight, but in the past three years I have lost 75lbs and I can run faster and further than I ever have before.  A few weeks ago, I ran up a small mountain with friends, and today if it doesn’t rain I will be going for a 10K (6.2 mile) run with some of those same friends, just  for fun.

The diet pills are placebos. If you are losing weight fast you’re losing water weight, not burning fat.  

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The ONLY proven way to reduce weight is through diet. Eat REAL food, not DIET food. Don’t drink DIET soda, drink WATER. Water is one of the seven essential nutrients your body needs. Jesus had water, he didn’t need Diet Mountain Dew.

It is also impossible to lose weight by exercising. Exercising is VERY important and works in conjunction with a healthy diet. Exercising tones and builds muscles. Increasing muscle mass will increase your metabolism, BUT you can gain calories faster by eating then you can burn them off by exercising, so dieting is the key. There is no magic pill. As always I wish you success and happiness!  

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