Recent Races: Injuries And Insults

I just did something I’ve never done before. Two 10K races in six days. The first one was practice for the second one. The second one was a bucket-list race I’d always wanted to do. Sounds like a fairly sensible plan.

Until it wasn’t. I got hurt at race #1.

It wasn’t my fault, really. I was trying to do the right thing (avoid another runner). It was in mile five of six-point-two (a lucky thing, as opposed to happening in mile one). My toe caught the grate of the drawbridge and I body-planted on the metal grate. Lacerated both knees, both hands, forehead and nose, plus a nosebleed, plus monumental pain in my biceps and triceps, which took the brunt of the fall (sparing the rest of my body and likely my teeth and eyes) from serious damage.

It was the mrunners21ost serious competition accident I’ve ever had. I bounced up and endorphins raging, finished the race. I couldn’t imagine why no one wanted to look at me at the finish line. Until I found a restroom and took a look at myself. I don’t bleed much, so once cleaned up, it wasn’t that bad. Add a severe toe blister to the list and the overall damage was considerable, but could have been far worse.

Jump ahead to the next race; still bruised, but the cuts have closed. I have a blister bandage on the toe. On line to use the restroom at race #2, I overhear the usual pre-race banter, and a couple of perfectly coiffed and glammed-up gals complaining how they expect their time to be slow today due to the inclusion of a bridge in the route. How their eight-minute mile pace will suffer.

That’s the insulting part of this. All of it, really.

The not-a-hair-out-of-place updos, the totally matched running outfits, flawless skin, jewelry,  but worst of all, the fact that you’re upset about your eight-minute mile slowing slightly. Honey, the race route was published when the race was first announced. The bridge was not added as a last-minute surprise. I’m doing this as an old, injured person. I’m pretty sure old enough to be at least your mom. And probably injured enough to think better of this, but not smart enough to do so.

It was a good race. Challenging, but in a sense, fueled by those same endorphins that got me through race #1. I felt decent enough today to work in the yard this morning. And tomorrow will be better, and back to workouts. After all, there’s a triathlon and an ocean swim and a 5K coming up next month.




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Filed under athletic competition, Exercise, Running, Triathlons

When It’s Good To Be A Target

indexI was the object of someone’s competitive ire today.

After a local 5K race, a woman came up to me and said she’d been following me the entire time, about 50 yards back, trying to catch up, but not quite getting there, finishing about a minute behind me. “I could see you the entire time; I just could not get up to you. But you kept me going the entire race. Thanks!” she said.

It’s not often being a target is a good thing. With ever-increasing political angst and bad social media manners the norm, targeting individuals and companies for everything from race and gender identification preference to decades-old improprieties to who they choose to support on either side of any debate often results in economic and emotional backlash befitting a far greater offense. That’s not meant to belittle anyone’s righteous reaction to a deserving situation. Only that some targeting exceeds the “over the top” designation; instead of allowing a reaction or retraction, it bulldozes rebuttal and upends unbiased thought.

But today, at that moment, being a target was good. It means you’re faster and better (and in this case, older by one age group). It means someone is out to get you on the course the next time. It’s good to be getting older and still able to do this. And still work in a little target practice on the side.

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Filed under athletic competition, social media, Uncategorized

If It’s Cramps, It Must Be Monday

It’s not quite 5 a.m. and I did not sleep much last night. I have the sixth of eight glasses of a powdered laxative and sports drink combination at my side as I write. My fast is almost 24 hours old. The stool softener helped the process, but the stomach cramps are annoying.

If you’re over 50, you recognize this as the “Hooray, It’s Colonoscopy Day” preparation.

There are things you do to stay healthy, standard stuff throughout your life. Eat right, exercise regularly, don’t smoke, don’t do illegal drugs, consume alcohol in moderation. Those cautions have been around as long as food, drink, drugs, tobacco and tempting comfy couches have existed. But we have other temptations now, such as the “digital heroin” of smartphone addiction, online gaming, relentless consumer spending. We don’t think of those as unhealthy because they don’t bring on a fever, chills or a cough. But they impact our lives negatively as well.

Then there’s the endless testing and checkups that increase as you get older. Blood work, screenings, vaccinations, mammograms. And body parts aren’t what they used to be.


It’s your digestive system, not pretty but you really need it to work well.

Teeth crack and fillings don’t fill anymore and fall out. Bruising happens more easily. Cuts that used to heal in two or three days take a week now. And don’t get me started on sore muscles. I have more salves, balms and potions to fight this malady than my local drug store.

But the colonoscopy prep, although the protocol has changed in recent years, is still hard on an older body. But I’m grateful I’m not an older, sicker or diabetic individual, for whom this test is probably more torture than test. And having the test is better than finding out later that your colorectal cancer developed (as it almost always does) from precancerous polyps, easily detected and removed during a colonoscopy. Only two-thirds of Americans age 50 and older are up-to-date on their screenings. Are you? If not, get it done; if you’re underinsured, free and low-cost screening options are available. After all, I hate to drink this stuff alone.

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Filed under Current news, Exercise, health and beauty, Medicine

I Thought I Knew Parkland. I Was Wrong

I did a five-mile race today in Parkland. I thought I knew everything I needed to know about the shooting, and what the effect on the community before I got there.

Turns out I had no idea.


Yes, they are all that.

I knew the clinical details, of course. Who did it, how many were killed and injured and the protests and movements that have followed. What I did not know was the community itself. I’d been there only once before, years ago, when it was as it still is  —   green with trees and lawns, wide roads and sidewalks, expensive houses grouped in mostly gated communities, very clean and tidy without industry or even strip malls to sully the appearance of a perfect place to live.

When it all changed at 3:18 p.m. on February 14, nothing on the surface was likely any different. The homes are still where people live, work, play, eat, sleep and raise families. The landscaping still looks fantastic, there’s no trash on the streets and commercial shopping is still located east of the Sawgrass Expressway.

But you cannot get away from what happened here.  The maroon ribbons , faded and shredded, are still tied to trees near the high school. And as much as you want to look past the school, you can’t. It’s very large, the buildings are very conspicuously painted bright white and the surrounding fencing boasts dozens of mostly maroon advertising and support signs and banners. Local businesses who proclaimed their wares here before are especially proud to do so now. At today’s race, just shy of the seven-month anniversary, people wore #MSD Strong shirts, the city’s commissioners and mayor posed for photos with all the race winners and the girls from the school’s cross-country team helped present the age-group and overall winner awards.

In Parkland, everyone knows. Everyone cares. No one forgets.  And city staff, runners and volunteers understood that this was not just a race. It was a step to something more. Maybe not forward or better yet, though I did see joy and smiles. It is not normal in Parkland, but I don’t know when or if it ever will be. I do know it is a great place to spend a race morning, and nothing can ever change that.


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Filed under athletic competition, Exercise, Running, school shooting, Violence

Women And Power (Tools)

Admit it. You read the title and thought you knew what this was about and where it was going.

You’re right, sort of.

For a number of reasons, I’ve been doing a lot of yard work around the house lately. A recent construction project left back yard looking like a sand pit. We needed rocks, stepping stones, mulch and plants replaced and brick retaining walls rebuilt. My trusty little Versa (AKA the “Tin Tomato”) hauled everything from two different garden centers. All I had to do was carry, distribute, dig, water, feed and sweat a lot.

Then there’s a lawn to mow and edge and hedges to trim. I can now (usually) start our antique lawn mower  (AKA “Sir Stinky”) with only a few pulls.  The trimmer and hedger are modern-era machinery and are actually fun to use.  But this is inot work I would care to do as a regular everyday job for other people. Doing this in my own yard is work enough.

When it comes to taking on the tough stuff, most women I know don’t shy away from stepping up and serving notice on life’s problems and obstacles.  For too long, we were not ready for #MeToo and #WhyI Didn’tReport. We were stuck in #NiceGirlsKnowBetter and #StaySilentStaySafe. That was the time of the Big Lies. We lied to ourselves and each other. Then a few of our inspired sisters braved the bullies and breached the wall. And the power deluge hasn’t stopped since. It’s difficult to watch the media coverage and keep hearing the messages from the past, reminding us to go sit down, shut up and let the men in charge handle things. We need to keep the power tools firmly in our grip and use them intelligently to clean out the mess of so many years.

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Filed under gardening, Politics, Violence

Shelf Number Four In Progress

I did a 5K today that represents a turning point in my running T-shirt collection. I had to start a fourth shelf to accommodate the next phase of expansion.

The three other shelves are nicely stacked and neatly packed with a colorful array of shirts, never worn but highly valued. For a long time, those shirts represented the only thing I received to show I’d been there, run that. Then I got much older and a little better and started placing in my age category. (I’m also probably outliving some of the competition, but let’s not get all smug about it).


Run enough, and your collection overtakes your space.

A total stranger approached me before the race this morning, just to ask me about my running experience. I told her I’d never done this particular event before, but I’d done about 100 others (based on my T-shirt count), plus triathlons and competitive swim events. She was just starting out, and was mostly walking her races at this stage. I told her to keep at it, because it would get easier and she would run more and walk less over time. She asked me why I do this. It’s the one question for which I never seem to have a good answer. I enjoy it, and believe that competing against yourself first and others second is the best way to obtain a sense of where your training routine is and where it need to go. It’s a means to challenge the ravages of time and the onset of disease, and a great way to get involved with a very caring community. It’s how to be alone in a crowd, a team of one against the clock.

And it’s a means of expanding your wardrobe. Unless you’re like me, and those T-shirts  sit on shelves, testament to early mornings, long drives, heating pads, ice packs, easing out of bed or a chair due to day-after aches and pains and untold money spent on entry fees. And in case you’re wondering, there’s an empty shelf number five about shelf number four.

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Filed under athletic competition, Cycling, Exercise, Relationships, Running, Swimming, thought

Ode To My Tri-versary

Triathlon brings families together, kicks off fitness monthThree years ago, I chose the impossible. I did my first triathlon.

It still amazes me that I ever thought the idea of combining swimming, cycling and running was a remotely good idea, let alone a good sport for this aging human.

I still have that first hard-won medal, hanging by itself, but surrounded by many more achieved since then, none without hard work, all of them appreciated. The trophy wall has expanded to three walls and part of the floor (I’m looking for an antique corner table so the trophies on the floor will no longer rest there). I start Triathlon Competition Year Number Four tomorrow with a triathlon, of course. A tough one (it involves a bridge crossing during the bike portion), but it’s a good way to celebrate both a milestone in competition and a milestone birthday. I have begun my seventh decade on the planet.

At a time when many of my contemporaries prefer the comfort of the couch and computer, I look for stairs and seek new ways to wake up sore in the mornings. Bottles of OTC pain relieving-pills and a variety of ointments, salves, rolls and gels are now a common presence in my life, rather than an occasional visitor. I need a training day off now and then, something I once considered only in times of illness or excruciating pain. My workout gear still takes up more closet space than regular clothing, and my bike lives on an indoor cycling stand so I can ride it on rainy days. I’ve been packed for this weekend’s event for almost a week, so ready-set-go has conquered nerves and anxiety. I still use a gear list, but by now I can place everything in my transition bag the same way, in the same place, every time. If only I could re-pack the bag after the race as neatly as I pack it before the race.

I enjoy the competitive community; we temporarily stop being friends at the sound of the starting gun, yet we are there for each other if something goes wrong out there. We never let an injured athlete sit alone and hurting on the course.  Show up in transition with a broken shoelace or bent spoke, someone in the crowd can fix it. You need extra water, ice, sunblock, bug spray or a protein bar? The guy or gal in your rack row is sure to have some. TP run out in your porta-potty? Open the door and ask; another competitor will get you some. It’s gratifying to see a lot of kindness out there in a world where bullying seems to be a government institution and the widespread callous treatment of minorities is expected and accepted. Triathlons, swim meets and competitive running events have neither race nor ethnic requirements, and remarkably few physical requirements; you only need to bring your best effort.

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