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I would run 500 miles.

There seems to be a fad in the running community promoting chocolate milk as a post-workout restorative.

And so it is that I find myself in the basement with a glass of Hershey’s-laced milk, relaxing after my last run of the year, and once again adding up the year’s running totals.

I should really dig the word “jogging” out of obsolescence and apply it to myself, as that’s what I do. I don’t run very often (strictly every other day); I don’t run very fast; and I don’t run very far (longest run of 2014: 4.42 miles.)

If pressed, I will admit that this regimen is not really keeping me as fit or active as I need to be. But it helps keep me more or less sane, and it gets the blood moving, and I stick to it pretty faithfully all year round, and it makes me feel good. So I plod on, year after year.

This year I jog-plodded 588.3 miles — an improvement over roughly 533 miles in 2013, and 510 the year before. There were no significant injuries or prolonged time off to report.

That total included three 5Ks, which were completed in times ranging from 24:10 to 24:45, which is fine with me.

588 miles, the Web says, equals the driving distance from Allentown to Fort Wayne, Indiana, which is a pretty good road trip.

Alternately, I could have run to Louisville (576 miles); Indianapolis (568 miles); or Toronto (292 miles) and back again.

I close the year, then, quietly content, at least on this front.

Here’s to more chocolate milk.

5K at a time.

In the past few weeks, I’ve done something I’ve wanted to do for a while: Compile a spreadsheet listing every race I’ve ever run since high school.

I tend to favor small local 5Ks — no New York City Marathons for me — so it’s been fun trying to find my results from unknown races that happened a decade ago.

Many results are still out there, surprisingly, and I’ve been reminded of more than one race I’d totally forgotten. A few races seem to have vanished from history.

Using my old race T-shirts — some of which were converted into a quilt by my mom — as reminders, I thought I’d write down my memories of some of these races, before I forget all about them again.

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Schofield School 5K, May 31, 1998, Wellesley, Mass.: Only my second competitive 5K since graduating from high school seven years before. I ran my best-ever post-HS 5K time, then didn’t race again for three years. Nice plan.

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Marino Lookout Farm 5K, May 20, 2001, Natick, Mass.: Some co-workers got me back into running in the spring of 2001, and this was the first of seven 5Ks I ran that year. I ran an abysmal time and got beaten by an active NFL quarterback. (No prizes for guessing who it was.)

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High Tech Classic 5K, Sept. 16, 2001, Waltham, Mass.: This race happened the weekend after the Sept. 11 attacks. My main memory is the race organizers playing “God Bless The U.S.A.” over the PA before the start of the race, and me feeling like a lousy unpatriotic jerk as I rocked back and forth impatiently and thought, “Are we gonna have to hear this treacly shit before every single American public event now?”

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Marlborough Police 5K Police Chase, Marlboro, Mass., Oct. 7, 2001: This was a weird little race. Supposedly 110 people finished but I remember about one-quarter that many; and I know they measured the course wrong ’cause I finished impossibly fast. I wonder if anyone else even remembers this one.

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Halloween Hustle 5K, Newton, Mass., Oct. 27, 2001: I ran this one pushing my year-old son in a jog-stroller. I did OK except for one point where his blanket fell out on the road and I had to duck back and get it. I think this was also the race where I ran into a high school friend, totally out of the blue; I was kind of honored she recognized me.

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Turkey Classic 3.5-Mile Road Race, Framingham, Mass., Nov. 22, 2001: The race went OK. I mention it here mainly b/c I’m a little ashamed to admit I still have the long-sleeve T-shirt, 13 years later. It escaped being rounded up for the quilt and is still on my shelf. (In fairness to me, I always seem to have a whole bunch of T-shirts, and I tend to keep some in regular rotation, so it’s not impossible for one to land on the bottom of the stack and stay there … for 13 years.)

This was also the last race I ran in Massachusetts before moving to Pennsylvania the following spring. Perhaps someday I will return to Massachusetts, and I will sign up for some tiny local 5K in the fall, and I will toe the line wearing this shirt like a real townie.

A man can dream.


Jefferson Hospital Philadelphia Distance Run, Philadelphia, Pa., September 2003: My first, last and only half-marathon. It was somewhat disappointing — I didn’t really train hard enough, was seduced by a flat course into going out too fast, and did a bunch of walking. But, still, I got “half-marathon” off the bucket list.

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Kutztown Fools’ Run, Kutztown, Pa., March 31, 2007: A lovely 5K out in farm country; I would do it again except Kutztown’s an hour from my house. The post-race spread for this one included bagels, oranges, bananas … and pots of apparently homemade chicken noodle soup, which is just about the Berks Countiest thing ever.

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Families First 5K, Wind Gap, Pa., Oct. 10, 2009: Three memories of this race:
1. I died hard.
2. This was the first race where I ever got a T-shirt in one of those fancy sweat-wicking fabrics, rather than cotton.
3. Never run a race in a place with “Wind” in the name.


Giving Thanks 5K, Vienna, Va., Nov. 24, 2011: Ran this one while visiting the in-laws for Thanksgiving. You could dedicate your race to a fallen or wounded soldier, and on the spur of the moment, I decided to run in honor of my great-uncle, who died in World War II. My performance did not honor his memory.

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Allentown St. Pat’s 5K, Allentown, Pa., March 18, 2012: I’ve run this one every year since 2011; it’s the only race I’ve ever formed that kind of bond with. It’s a fun race, and a challenging race, and sometimes a cold race, and every year my time gets a little better. Plus, the race director is a nice guy.

In 2011, I was beaten in the St. Pat’s 5K by a sitting U.S. Congressman. In 2012, I beat him. I do not think the Congressman has been back since. Perhaps losing to me was the ultimate indignity.

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Concordia Lutheran Academy Pheasant 5K, Slatington, Pa., April 20, 2013: Another one of those great little races I tend to sign up for. Sixty-one people finished the 2013 race and probably one-third of them were walking. I like the color of this shirt, and also the menacing, vaguely fungool!-ish gesture the pheasant is making.

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Centennial School 5K, Bethlehem, Pa., May 2014: Sixty people took part in this one; I finished ninth. Contrary to the image on the shirt, the race did not end in a furious sprint between Zooey Deschanel, G. Gordon Liddy, and Yertle the Turtle.

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Forever Young 5K, Seneca Falls, N.Y., Oct. 11, 2014: The most recent 5K I have run. There are currently no others on my dance card, though I might like to get one in on Thanksgiving if time allows. This race honors a middle-schooler who died of some uncommon illness.

While the cause is noble, I don’t love the design of the T-shirt. I suspect this one will land at the bottom of the pile. Maybe I will find it again in a decade and be reminded of a flat, fast course on a crisp fall morning in central New York.

Still waddling.

It’s that time again when I write about something no one else cares about.

(Yes: It’s about 7 p.m.)

Another year of running has come and gone, and I am again adding up how many miles I put in.

Pure mileage is not the only measure of how successful the year was, of course.

I could also look at my racing record: I only ran two 5Ks this year, which is maybe a little disappointing, but enjoyed them both and did reasonably well.

Or I could look at my injury record, which is a pretty significant measure of success — ’cause if I’m not running, I’ve kinda failed.

I was healthy all year and didn’t miss any time, which I again credit to my habit of only running every other day — except in July, when I sometimes did two-a-days to help get my son into shape for middle school cross-country.

The knees are not entirely happy, but they continue to bear the load. Hooray, knees.

But. back to the mileage.

Without consciously trying, I have topped 2012’s total of 510 miles. Including the 3.5 miles I did this morning, I’ve run 531.9 miles in 2013. And I’m not done yet, as the schedule calls for me to go out for a jog on New Year’s Eve.

(That mileage total averages out to about 10.3 miles per week. Three runs of three-plus miles per week, or four two-and-a-half-mile runs, will get you there. That’s about what I do. My efforts are modest.)

I cannot improve on my comment from this time last year: “Running is one of the few really constructive things I do with myself, and quite possibly the only good, self-protective habit I have besides brushing my teeth.

I could stand to add a few more good, self-protective habits in 2014, especially if I want to keep running.

I think I will go put my feet up and consider that further.

One foot in front of the other.

Posted on

Absolutely nothing worth writing about right now, except that I ran a local 5K on St. Patrick’s Day for at least the third year in a row, and maybe the fourth.

This particular race is festive and well-organized, and it’s become the ceremonial beginning to each year’s racing season, which can include anywhere from two to seven races depending on how competitive I feel and how injured I get.

(This could be a comparatively busy year if I stay healthy; I feel like gearing up for a couple more races. I might do another one in a month’s time on one of the local rail trails. This particular race is small, low-key and deliciously flat, all of which I appreciate.)

The weather at the St. Patrick’s race this year was considerably colder than last, and the final half-mile pulled down my pants and taunted me.

But I managed to beat last year’s time by something like 15 seconds, and finish something like 25 spots ahead of last year as well.

I was gonna wait and see if I could swipe a picture of myself running to go with this post. But the photog who usually takes pictures hasn’t put his shots up, if he was there at all. I’ve never seen a picture of myself running that looked good, anyway, so it’s probably just as well.

I continue to run every other day as a hedge against injury and to keep myself fresh. Tonight we are getting 2 to 3 inches of snow and sleet in the Lehigh Valley. It is my off-night, since I raced yesterday.

Tomorrow, when I am due to run again, the snow and slush should be out of the way.

That sort of encapsulates how things have been going on the running front: The breaks seem to be going my way. I will take a moment and savor that.