I’ve been running since late 80’s. 5 marathons and various other events…I’ve always exercised or taught fitness somehow…people liked to tell me I would wear out my knees or hips…or have a heart attack…Still it was too nice NOT to go for a run yesterday/Monday 10-12… SOOOO in the afternoon I took off on my usual route…on the bluff and through the park always staying close to the lake. Stopped back in at the house for some water after 3 miles…and headed back out for the last half…the wind had picked up whipping the leaves and scattering them in heaps along the sidewalks and curbs; it was a great run closing in on 5 miles about 10 blocks from home…the piles of leaves hid something of a heave in the sidewalk that caught my right foot and the rest of me continued forward. My knees hit first, then my hands and finally my chin, I jumped up from the ground checked my mobility and ran 10 blocks back to the house. At 62 I have had my first running injury…I broke my right middle finger and sprained the one on my left hand…I have a bruise about 4 inches on my jaw…and both knees are skinned and bruised….but ALL joints are in good working order. Here is the worst part…at my DRs office the questioner of the medical field I was required to answer. Was I drinking, did I get up too fast, is my home organized or cluttered, how was the lighting, do I have grab bars in my home…then suggestions on how I can prevent falls….eat healthy, wear rubber soled shoes, limit my use of alcohol, lose weight, be careful around pets…and my personal favorite…get more exercise to improve muscle strength and flexible joints. NO matter what my condition…really? 60+ years I wanted SOOOO bad to dare the entire staff to a plank challenge RANT over.

#Guns by rem hadley

I grew up around guns;  they hung openly on the wall (not locked or encased)  They were removed and returned many times in a week, month, the year as I recall.  Guns were part of our life, used for hunting, target shooting, and sometimes they served as comfort in our house in the country, far from neighbors where most times there was no means of help IF danger presented.  We were taught respect for the risk and the use of pistols, rifles, and shotguns.  Not one of 11 children viewed them as dangerous any more than a knife or fork when used properly.  

Dad worked late nights; so he did not get home until nearly midnight from his job at Pontiac Motors.  So the fact is; guns were also reassurance in the house as were the local police.  If anything alarmed my mom (or threatened her family) she was quick to call them up and asked that they check out the problem.  But there were no cell phones and we had a party line until the late nineties I think, so expedient help was not always available in rural areas.  Some situations escalate quickly in the country.  With only 2 local cops at the time who generally traveled together; well the problems sometimes needed to be handled and that is exactly what happened one night.  

I was shaken awake by my mother one night.  She said, “get up there is a man at the door that wouldn’t leave”.   She told me to get a gun.  Needless to say; I was at full awake and ran behind her to the wall rack.  I chose a shotgun and reached into the drawer for shotgun shells.  I grabbed as many as I could with my free hand and I crouched by the door near a window so I might see out to what (who) had frightened my mom.  I couldn’t hear the man’s part of the conversation clearly, but it was not raining, or did I hear comments about car trouble or problems, just that he was emphatic and persistently pleading his case.  Also, I did not recognize him (and in a small town and in a rural area that was unusual)  He was tall and big, especially when compared to my mom who barely cleared 60 inches. 

The part of the conversation I could hear was my mom talking to the man even with the main door closed and I assumed locked.  I was accustomed to hearing her tones and knowing what they meant.  Her manner did not match her tone.  Though her voice was definitely firm and calm the message of her body was uncharacteristically poised.  Her voice said “NO” but she showed fear.   I pulled the rifle closer and noted its position more conducive to use.   Mom told the man to go away or risk waking up the entire family, I knew for sure now that my dad was still not home.  And she added again, “NO” to what I thought was asking to come inside.  My sense of the time that elapsed was in hours but still, all I could do is wait poised for more information and maybe some “help”.

It had started to feel like a stalemate with no one changing their position; both he and my mom were as close as three feet, but separated by the slab of our wooden door.  I watched and listened alerted but not moving.  Thinking about what I had in time to react.  And knowing there was no real safety between the man and my mom except the lock and the door. 

From the window, I could also see car lights off in the distance maybe a half or three-quarters of a mile away is noticeable in the country, and it was closing in from the west.  I had no idea what time it was so I whispered abt the car lights thinking somehow it was an opportunity for help.  Mom appeared to relax and there was silence for some time; her head tilted and eyes squinted.  The car lights dropped from view as it came down the hill and into the valley before it would either turn north on Lake George Road or continue on the road straight towards our house.  The silence stopped; the man suddenly turned from the door and laughed and as the lights crested the hill I felt the relief that I saw in my mom.   Those movements away from the door occurred exactly the same time my mother’s posture change; though it was not related to the man, because she did not see what he did.  The change gave me insight that she also sensed help.  Her tone was no longer as firm or as calm and when she looked at me I saw she was relieved and almost in that same second I saw the flash of light illuminate the dark house from the car turned into our driveway.  Mom remained quiet…listening, and the man still stood on the front porch. 

The next sound was the door of the car slamming shut and then men’s voices.  Now my shoulders relaxed too, as I heard my dad’s laugh.  But that same sound actually seemed to confuse mom.  I had no idea what was going on but clearly, the need for a gun (still not loaded) had changed so I slipped it back into the wall case and the ammo back into the drawer.  Mom nodded reassurance and I went back to bed.  Though there was some loud discussion from my parents later just before I fell back to sleep, it wasn’t until the next day I heard…”the rest of the story.”

Castles by rem hadley

From peaceful and simple life, to towers over filled. 
Obtruded concrete streaming smoke, filling skies with things to choke.Reckless lives, defiant stares; replaced the ease in breaths of air,It took away the passive views, and left these behind to amuse.Filled with pride and useless rooms. Excess tossed to less consumed. 

Leave indulgence at the door…how can we live here anymore? 

No layers of leaves or untouched snows.  Life moves in flickered glows.Once useful homes NOW deprived; destroying precious countryside.Accolades from restlessness; expects someone to clear the mess.The “want-ers” have shaped descent! Out of which grows violence.With regard to numbered days, crushing consciousness with yield. 

Check influence at the door… should we build them anymore? 

We’ve been busy with the lie, to build homes far up the sky.  Heroic efforts all in vain.  Accumulations not sustained.  Some give up to save the ship. Or lose the gains despite the grip. Running circles and more to do. But less time and people too!  Educators seek to guide; so could our spirits then survive?

Check your life and what’s in store …we can NOT do this anymore. 

We may want to quit the game of larger castles on the land.Out of time for learning views; and put together useful tools.  Organize and comprehend;  to bring back ease in lives again.No matter what our money buys; earth wins when greedy dies.Humble fragile lives believe; born with nothing, nothing leaves. 

Leave the greed at the door…we should not do this anymore.

#2014 #HappyNewYear #2015

2014 has been an amazing year IMHO.  We woke up to many things we should NOT have believed and then shot ourselves in the foot on others. I LOVE the USA it IS the most multicultural country. AND that means you do NOT have to be black to know racism.  IF you are female, disabled, gay, religious, Native American, diseased, elderly, overweight … yada yada.  Whatever we face, we must use it to grow.  Get to know those who have suffered and never complain; and then use their pain and knowledge to help others by sacrifice, education, and improvement to their lives.

IF you NEVER give up, then NEVER forget.  To you I say;  “Happy New Year America, YOU ROCK”.

Is it YOU or ME?

Yesterday while shopping at the Mayfair Mall in Wauwatosa, WI something happened and I put together a few things.  

TO preface, earlier in the week I was going for a run in our small town.   Though town is culturally diverse it seems rarest to see African Americans, so when I saw a young man in a hoodie walking towards me with head set on I noted.  Tall, slim, nice looking young man;  I was not at all concerned, and I did not hesitate to continue running towards him.  Additionally, I  smiled and said “hello” as we passed.  He said nothing and I noticed he was looking to his right and veering right also, as IF to avoid me.  I don’t know why, but I continued running though I felt sad IF this was reflective of his comfort. 

ON to Thursday my shopping trip to the mall. I had 2 pair of tall boots to return to Macy’s.  Not sure of where to go, and NOT wanting to return to the car twice (I am capable of using ALL extremities to maneuver the awkward load), I attempted to struggled both boxes and my large purse.  It was unstable and the boxes slippery so I could hardly hold them.  But I was determined to continue.  I had almost reached the door I heard a young man was yelling.  I turned to see if I was the one being called, and saw he was heading toward me.  I had not noticed the 30″ish” young African American with the boxes, but I stopped as he got closer to me and he said,  “excuse me miss, you dropped something”  I looked down and saw the sales receipt from my packages floating away in front.  I managed to catch it being closest, but he was also moving toward the paper.  I told him that it was my receipt and thanked him for alerting me. (NO one wants to attempt a return without a receipt)  He smiled and went on his way with his companion.   Inside the doors there were 3 or 4 Salvation Army volunteers furiously ringing bells that grew louder when one of them opened the doors for me and my parcels, and wished me Merry Christmas.  I thanked them.  HONESTLY, I did NOT notice ethnicity of anyone in the group, but I did note subdued “jingles” when I said I would be back to the “red kettle” later, but sensed they had heard that before.  Noting to myself, “be sure to return.” 

Inside the store I returned the boots.  There were 2 clerks in the department that to me were close to amazing despite the customers and the requests.  I felt bad I was contributing to their busy Pre-Christmas work load.  The clerk handling my return was African American and was expedient, considerate, and even smiling.  After the return was complete, the second clerk led me around the department with a scanner asking me what size/style I was looking for.  I had to move to keep up as she did not linger at any pair of boots, just long enough to scan and move towards other selections.   She led me to a chair where a 3rd clerk brought out a stack of 5 pair of boots I had smiled at.   While I tried on different styles I spoke to the another woman visiting from CA.   She was also a customer trying on shoes and she was African American.  We had a lengthy conversation about respective considerations as we considered shoe options and relative conditions we would negotiate.  Her visit was not for the holiday, she was tending her 89 year old aunt who was under Hospice care.   I relayed some personal experiences about my elderly parents passing a few years ago, and told her I know it is a difficult time; but she was special to be here with her aunt at this time.  I was struck by her openness and warmed by her smile.   After weighing on on my choices I purchased her recommendation.  Her choice of some warm weather shoes of Donald J Pliner were endorsed by me.  We wished each other safe travels, and warm wishes for the Holidays and I went on my way.   

Before I got to the exit, I set my purchase down to find $20 in my purse for the “red kettle.”  When I reached the door a single “bell ringer” held it open.   He was tall and much older African American and moved to the next door while I deposited the bill.  I had seen this man when I was trying to find a parking space…he was heading into the store.  I had noticed he looked happy and light on his feet as he was heading into Macy’s; my speculating at the time he had a close parking spot while I was still hunting.  I felt completely comfortable relaying to him the previous group may not have expected me back.  He smiled, and said, “oh, that’s just kids……”   We both laughed, and I wished him Happy Holidays, though I was sure I could have said “Merry Christmas” to him without him being offended.    

Sooo, with the confusion generating discussions, and things I have experienced and considered, in  61+ years I personally have been damaged, dismissed, disregarded, and discouraged from many things.  I don’t know if I have been successful to anyone but myself; but I know I keep focused forward.   

SO referring back to the young man I encountered while I ran??? I had the question Is it ME or is it YOU?   In MY humble opinion, it is NOT about race, culture, or creed, it IS about eye contact.   That is what has NEVER let’s me down.  AND Merry Christmas. 


My Yin and Yang

Rem MarathonThere is a correlation between obstacles, even when they are opposite purpose. With each marathon I suffer from the effects of training differently. So far it has NOT yet stopped me from an event, but for this fifth marathon, I thought blogging would give stability in the training. Maybe by writing about the charm and challenges I would distract myself from the inevitable stresses and doubts encountered.

Each event has been a different emotional journey I have LOVED for different reasons. Much of the knowledge is about myself, so to manage the psyche from becoming the dominator of training by writing seemed reasonable counter balance. The consequence is the traditional angst of running is actually being supported by the writing…at least for the past few weeks. It was gradually established in the most important portion of physical training for HFM Marathon and also writing this blog.

Physical training for an event is always a combination of excitement and challenge. With 4 marathons, several other events including the Tough Mudder in Oshkosh last September, I have MORE physical and emotional information to process. Training has been a relatively smooth progression and with less than 2 months left in training; as if in the training plan, my psyche struck with pin point accuracy at every fear I have of what I face.   My subconscious is providing a fair amount of negativity.

           Twenty-six point two miles of running; within a 6 hour span start to finish.

            So WHAT if it is a flat beautiful course????… it’s 26.2 miles

            Small, friendly, friends and people I know may see me fail

            I drive into Manitowoc, 1 mile away from my home… 26.2 miles, really ?

            Isn’t Sheboygan about 26.2 miles away??

            When will I learned to keep my big mouth shut?!

            I am obsessing on the distance … 26.2 miles.


So even if my physical and aerobic training is going well, writing “jogged” memories of past hurdles, and it affects training, food consumption and sleep and reminded me of current limits. YES we are back on that road again. This psyche is an educated adversary; the Yin to my Yang in this journey to the HFM Marathon. If it proves successful in dismantling my resolve; or if it changes little ahead on the process and completion of Marathon 5, it is just part of the journey… and some more legitimate thoughts I did have dismissed in the past and wonder IF any share similar thoughts. Were you able to move forward?  How?

           Will my legs hold up?

           How much liquid should I drink on race day?

           Should I get new shoes now?

           Why is a marathon 26.2 miles?

           Is it too late to back out???

           Why am I crying?

           I can’t sleep!

           My dreams are all about problems!

           What if I get hurt?

           Am I going to die?

          What was I thinking?

          Am I crazy?

          What is your nightmare?

The 5th Marathon Medal has great significance to me and I am willing to work for it. This portion of training is the most difficult for me… self doubt. I hope today my physical and emotional discussions are realistic and I prevail to complete this event. But my psyche does not play fair and does not recognize boundaries when it creeps into my head. So I will not know until the finish and new conditions are overcome, so I train one day at a time.

Adding congratulations to 39-year-old Meb Keflezighi, the first USA citizen to win the Boston Marathon in 30+ years. It was a personal record of 2:08:37 and Meb is still a runner with obstacles.


I Have to Laugh

At myself. I have been clinging to the belief I could opt out of this event for any number of legitimate reasons. But then a 91-year-old woman Harriet Thompson finished a marathon in California a couple weeks ago. The arguments have reduced to none valid… and I am in. But review of chasing the emotional waves is entertaining. The last week before marathon is typically the longest week. It can last at least a month. NO scheduled exercise distractions; and it is too late to make adjustments. What is done is done and all that is left is to discover if it is adequate and if unknowns are not too much. I have not dismissed all the contraindications; (training on a treadmill helped reduce impact) so pavement remains as the biggest unknown, both as figurative and literal hurdles. In 2010-11 I was experiencing numbness and muscle spasms in my legs, hips and back; causal to one or all of these facts:

I was teaching 4-7 classes per week and running at least 30+ miles/week.
Someone attempted a left turn into my car with me in it
Extended driving to Detroit from Manitowoc, WI for elderly parent care
The intensity of spasms and pain increased in frequency and duration as: Exercise programs gradually deteriorated Decreased mobility exacerbated both health and movement.

March 2012 I had given up most of the teaching and running and went to the doctor. The MRI showed nothing aside from slight rotation and curve in my lumbar spine. Surprising no cause presented, because the pain was so bad it woke me up screaming. I had virtually given up driving because lifting my right foot was excruciating, as well as bumps and turns. My daily function decreased to the status of near invalid. I went to the doctor regularly and am fairly certain I was a nuisance, because the only help I was given was pain medication, and prescriptions were barely helpful. A 2nd MRI ordered in September finally gave insight and a diagnosis. A cynovial cyst on the facets between L4 and L5 was putting pressure on nerves. I was referred to surgeons locally, Milwaukee, and Chicago to consult and received virtually the same recommendations. 

Recommendations and possible consequences. Spinal surgery to remove cyst and fuse spine at L4 L4 facet assuming no new discovery. Risks: Ruptured Disk if I suffered an impact injury. Physcial Therapy to increase strength and range of motion. Prognosis without surgery or PT:  Increased pain, reduced movement. Guarantees, none, though doing nothing would decrease lumbar mobility, function; and increase pain likely. With or without surgery: stop running.

Decision:  Delay surgery and try Physical Therapy, massage therapy, exercise. With PT I began to have more mobility, less pain and my strength improved. I could push past spasms knowing they were from the pressure on nerves NOT injuries. It is NOT perfect, but I’m mobile and getting stronger. If I neglect exercise for too long, or forget to stretch after exercise, the symptoms return. So far I am avoiding surgery, and impact. From 2012 to now I prove to myself physicality and muscle strength equates to achieving wellness. I may achieve the goal and earn the medal at the HFM Maritime Marathon, but I already grasp the importance of the efforts of the past 2 years with even half of that distance. The wave of emotions… will subside on race day from start to less than 7 hours 7 minutes and 42 seconds (Harriet Thompson’s time). Whatever I look like, at whatever mile I am running… IF I cross the finish line I will be smiling.  Happy Running.