Friday, April 20, 2012

Much obliged…

As all of us move through our own levels of improving our health status, we are sure to meet others in their journeys. Some are ‘ahead’ of us, and some have not yet reached the levels that we have achieved. Woefully, we will meet those who have not even begun, or perhaps worse yet, don’t realize that they can begin.

For me, this begs the question, “are we obligated, in any way, to ‘pay it forward’”? Surely someone at sometime helped ignite the spark thatpay it forward sent us on our journeys. For some it was their doctor, others a family member. Movie scenes can do it, or even just waking up one day sick and tired of not being able to keep up with the kids.

Yesterday I stumbled across a video from TEDMed that spoke to this issue at the end of an interview with Lance Armstrong. Love him or hate him; I don’t really care. It isn’t debatable for me. To each their own, but I often find that he has interesting things to say regarding cancer (eff you, Cancer, by the way) patients, treatments, and recovery. The entire video is almost 25 minutes long, and can be seen here. Near the end he tells a story about leaving the hospital after his first rounds of therapy. It was on my birthday, and as he was getting ready to go, his doctor told him about the ‘obligation of the cured’

“…you can walk out that side, nobody knows you left, nobody knows you were here, you don't have to tell anybody you had this disease. or you can walk out the other side, and you tell everybody you had the disease, and you do whatever you can, as long as you live, to affect change when it comes to this disease."

For me, it doesn’t matter that I don’t have cancer or some other disease that I have conquered. What matters to me is that there are other people out there who might just need a boost, a tug, or a push (I actually typed ‘punch’. hmmm) in the direction of better health. A few months ago I found myself in a discussion with my wife during which I was complaining about how unhealthy people seem (at least in some large part) to just sit around and do nothing about their health except complain and shift blame and responsibility. The discussion was getting a little heated until she said something along the line of ‘instead of complaining yourself, BE THE PERSON who helps them. Many people probably just need a little reassurance and guidance but don’t know where to get it. Give it to them.’

I ruminated on it for a few days, and then began to do just that. Every day, in some small way, I strive to be a catalyst for change in others. Sometimes it is just leading by example, other times it involves lengthy conversations. I encourage all of us to think about how we can be that light for others. Consider for yourself if you have an obligation.

Comments encouraged and welcomed! –gene-

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Seeing Orange?

Then you must have been at the Boston Marathon Expo this weekend. Holy ORANGE. At times i couldn’t tell if I was at the Expo or at a Hunter’s Safety Convention.
When you first walked in, you were greeted by the Adidas Mega shopping area. It was a total bottle neck.
IMG_1397(yes, yes, i know. no orange in the picture. bite me.)
There were no maps of the place, and I was pretty frustrated by that. My original mission at the expo was to find the ArcticEase booth and then the GenerationUCAN booth. Zach and I were a bit hungry from our trip into the city, so the first thing that we did was to hit up the samples at the food companies. YUM! nothing fills my belly quite as nicely as free chunks of powerbars, clif bar crunch, powerbar gels, and….other stuff. We eventually found the ArcticEase booth, and I was lucky enough to get my knee wrapped. While it was cooling, several people stopped by and asked questions. It was great to see them doing well at such a large event!
IMG_1406  IMG_1405 Sorry if i sound like a broken record or a paid evangelist, but I really like the way AE helps with my recovery. It isn’t only the pros who need help with muscle soreness, joint issues, and just the general healing process of muscles during training. We ALL do, and we can all benefit from this fantastic product (puts soapbox away for a while). Give them a look-see on their website, watch a few of their commercials. While you’re at it, see if you can spot the person tossing the ball to Gronkowski, Fletcher, or Brown. Yep. You know him, you love him…..
We also tried for a while to find the GenerationUCAN booth. We made it JUST IN TIME to see this guy get graciously whisked away to his next appearance:
IMG_1412 No, no, not the guy on the left. MEB! Meb is one of the UCAN athletes! I tell ya, it seems as though i pick some pretty good products, doesn’t it? I first discovered GenUCAN (and ArcticEase, for that matter) during a tweetchat almost 2 years ago. I quickly grew to like the GenUCAN company, their roots, and the way that they (and AE) interact with their customers online. A few days before the Expo I received a tweet from @GenUCAN saying that if I was able to make it, to please swing by the booth. We did! It was great to get to meet the folks behind the company and their social media crew! There was a….customer?….there, kinda bending the ear of the person who i think is the owner/inventor, and from what I could hear, I think that he’d had a few too many free samples of 5 hour energy. At any rate, I got to stand inside their space and they even asked me some questions! Kinda like a mini interview. Of ME! With my luck, it will end up on on an episode of “candid camera”….If anything comes of it, I’ll let you know!
We spent some more time wandering around, sampling things, getting free handouts, and watching celebrities.
IMG_1404 IMG_1416 IMG_1419 IMG_1420
The lady on the far right is none other than….Kathrine Switzer!! She looks great!
Later in the afternoon we met up with Joe V., entrepreneur and owner of 1BandID. Joe is good people, and sources tell me that he is looking to get back into racing this year. Feel free to give him a nudge in that direction, right Colleen?
Alright, that's about enough name dropping for one blog post. I'll put pictures from the marathon up on my picasa page and link to it here in the near future....
Thanks for stopping by!!

Friday, April 13, 2012

This Weekend

Here it is, a Friday evening, and I have so many blog topics bouncing around in my head, it should have a warning sign like this (from Ryan Sullivan’s FB page) as seen on a bouncy house. I mean really. How can you have fun with so many “don’t do this” rules????

Here is what popped out:

This weekend has become one of my favourite weekends of the year. How favourite? Let’s just say it is in the to 50. What is so special about this weekend? well, the Boston Marathon, of course! Half a million people are expected to line the 26.2 mile route, and I will be one of them!

This is the 3rd year that I have been down there. The first time, I really didn't quite know what to expect. I got into town around 730, staked out a spot around 200 meters from the finish, and waited. And waited. As the crowds started to gather, I was very happy that I had gotten there when i did; by race time, we were 7 deep at the fence, with me right up front! I got to see my favourite elites fly by, then stayed to watch wave after wave of finishers. The emotions were palpable. Never before had experienced anything like it, and then and there made the decision to try my best to come back to watch every year.

Last year, my second year, I was fortunate to meet up with a bunch of really cool runner/bloggers! We watched from in front of Trader Joe's, which was cool because it was like having a private snack bar! Red introduced me to "ghetto mimosas". At the expo (which i went to with Tracey and Bryce), I met Carol, CEO of ArcticEase. We'd become friends online, but this was the first time we'd met. Oh! At the expo, I also literally ran into Mel, from Tall Mom on the Run. She was very gracious, said "Hi" and smiled her famous smile, and went on her way. Back to race day....I stayed for a while after the elites finished, then Carol invited me to join her at a reception for the youngest person to complete a marathon in each of the 50 states. After that, I raced back home, as my stay in Bean Town was a bit longer than originally planned.

This year I will be going to the expo again, but unfortunately I will be alone. Too many other things are happening around the house, and (as far as I know) I'll be solo. I will get to see some friends who I haven't seen in a while (yay, Colleen! yay Carol!). Red won't be there on race day, so I'll guess I'll have to enjoy a mimosa alone. I will be sure to pour some out for my homie, though. AHAHAHAHAHAH......

One sad aspect of this year's event is that Colleen won't be able to race. She'd been asked to help out a charity, and had agreed to do it, but some things changed (not with the charity) in the past few weeks and it doesn't appear as though she'll be running the marathon this year. Luckily, she's already qualified for 2013 (WAHHOOOO!), so she'll be there next year. I can't wait!!

There you have it. The reasons that I really look forward to this weekend. I just wish that the rest of my family would enjoy the trip as much as I do....maybe someday. For now, we've got some other excitement going on this weekend (Mike is home!), and I'll be going back and forth (I think) alone. I am thankful that I get to go!!!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

A couple of my favourite things…

Yesterday our middle guy had basketball practice, so I thought that Bryce and I would nab a geocache in the area rather than go home and stare at the television. He readily agreed, so i printed out the sheet and off we went. The cache is located underneath a bridge that is on a bike path that runs to his school. We’d been on that trail many, many times while I ran and he either ate or dozed in the jogging stroller. He’s also walked along it to school, during one of the school’s ‘walk to school’ days. The cache container was up in the rafters of the bridge; an easy find, but as it is called “TripTrap”, I got to tell him the story of the Three Billy Goats Gruff.

After we walked back to the car (probably a half mile out and back walk), we decided to hike along a local trail to see if a letterbox was still there that B, T, and I had found about 2 years ago. It is located near the high point of my ‘test’ trail, the Hazen Trail, of which I have written many times. It is the famous trail where you can see Uranus: (hat tip to @theboringrunner)

As soon as we got onto the trail, Bryce took off running. It was great! He was winding around the trees, deftly dancing across the roots, leaping dips. It was a joy to see. We got to the spot, but couldn’t find the box. I thought that B would want to go back home, but instead he said, “Dad, can we keep running? I really like it out here in the woods.” My heart leapt with joy, and off we ran. And ran. And of course we walked: “hold on, Dad, i gotta rest for a second.” Three seconds later, BOOM! off we went. As I ran behind him, I was watching his form and his feet. You know what I learned? I learned to relax.

There are a few technical parts on the trail that I usually get a little tense about (might roll an ankle, fall, bash my face), and as we approached them, I would call out warnings. He’d wave back, letting me know he heard me, but wouldn’t slow much. His little feet, shod in some canvas slip on shoes, danced lightly along the stones, carrying him across the sections with seemingly little effort or anxiety. This was the first time he'd seen this part of the trail, and had NO IDEA how much further we had to go before we reached the turn around point at the museum. He said he wanted to go all the way to the Sun.

And we did. Then we ran back. All together, he did about 3.75 miles. On the trail, we covered just over 5k, having run about 2.5 miles of it. I was amazed. He said, several times, “Dad, we should do this EVERY DAY!!!!”

Without a doubt, this was the best 5k of my life. Thank you, Bryce. I love you, Dad.

Monday, April 2, 2012

subsidize ME....

Once again, I have become riled while watching the news. Why do i subject myself to such turmoil, especially while on the treadmill? I mean, I already don't want to be on the flippin' thing, then i go ahead and watch the news, and then i wonder WHY i watch the news......

To wit:

This morning our local CBS Affiliate WCAX ran a story about possible milk subsidies. Here is the transcript:

"MONTPELIER, Vt. - Milk prices are expected to tumble in the coming months.
U.S. Agriculture officials say officials say milk supply currently outweighs demand, in large part due to the mild winter weather across New England and other parts of the country which lead to overproduction. The Vermont Senate Agriculture Committee has set a hearing for next week to address the issue. It'll take place Wednesday April 11 from 9 A.M. to noon. "

In a press release titled, "...Increasing the Price of Milk Paid to Vermont Dairy Farmers", located on the Vermont Senate's Committee on Agrigulture web page, the public is told that there will be a hearing next week: "the hearing will address the steps dairy cooperatives are taking to ensure that Vermont dairy farmers receive the highest price possible for their milk..."

Soooo...wait just a tic. Supply is HIGH. Demand is LOW. Shouldn't the PRICE GO DOWN????? Nope. The government wants to artificially inflate the price of milk. Have you bought milk lately? Now i know where the expression "Holy Cow" comes from!!! Who is going to foot that bill to the dairy industry? ME! I DON'T EVEN LIKE THE STUFF, AND NOW I HAVE TO PAY EXTRA FOR....NOTHING!!!! For a product that no body wants. Well, not enough people want it. Some do. And that's fine. Where will this end? And, as I am sure many of you know, this isn't the first time that the government has done this sort of thing. It is rampant, apparently. But not nearly as wide spread as it might be. For example(s)....

Let's say that I lived in one of the towns that was devastated during Irene, and I owned an auto repair business, with towing service, etc. Let's say that I was able to take in about (i have no idea what is realistic here, so i am picking the number for easy math) $4,000 a month. Not only did 20% of my customer base get destroyed, but my entire business was lost; tools, physical property, vehicles, customer's vehicles. Since I haven't been able to repair or replace my business over the past 7 months, based on the above diary subsidization model, I feel that the state of Vermont needs to pay me $4k/month every month until I can get my shop working again, and then a percentage of that every month until all of my former customer base has been restored to where it was the day before the storm. Seems fair to me.

What about the Maple Syrup industry? This year's production season was very short. Based on the above reasoning, the state of Vermont should subsidize maple syrup producers for their lost profits.

This would (should?) also hold true for my friend who decided this past fall to knit hats to try to sell to skiers when they came to Vermont. She made 3,000 beautiful hats. But because the skiing season wasn't what it has been, demand for the hats was low, but supply was high. Do you see a trend here? YES! Why doesn't the state of Vermont just jump in and make sure that, even though she has decided to try to sell the hats for half of what they are worth, she still gets the other 50% from the state's coffers.

Makes perfect sense to the Agriculture department....I dont' agree. What say you?