Cold Running – RunLog 1-31-18

I just couldn’t run on the treadmill again today and even though it was still pretty chilly, I decided to run outside.

However, since the wind chills were below my cut-offs for running too far from the house, it meant doing laps on the road out front. Not the most exciting or grand views, but at the same time it is a helluva lot better and have a LOT more variety than the views you get running on the treadmill.

That breeze was very noticeable and yes, it definitely felt like single-digits. Even though I have not run outside very often this year in this kind of cold, I haven’t forgotten how to properly dress for it. Wool socks, running pants (not tights), base layer, long sleeve tech, heavier jacket, running mittens, ear warmer/headband and tech ball cap. I wasn’t cold, but I definitely didn’t sweat either. In other words, I had dressed correctly, although when coming back against the wind, it would have been nicer to have had a fleece vest, but then I would have sweated when it was at my back.

The roads were clear with just a few ice patches that always seem to be where you meet vehicles, but hey, that is simply Murphy’s Law of running – That you will meet a vehicle in the worst possible place. Luckily for me today all the stars aligned and I didn’t meet any vehicles on those areas that were icy. A very good thing.

After yesterday’s GREAT speed workout, I just ran comfortably, not picking up the speed or pushing the pace. However, I purposely ran down the hill a bit, so that I would have to run back up a hill a few times.

I didn’t feel bad after that workout, the left calf was a little tight, but nothing serious or different than it was before the workout and the right lower back is a bit sore, but that for me is pretty normal after a harder speed session. So I came through that workout pretty unscathed, which is a very good thing.

FEDEX did arrive today and delivered a new pair of trail running shoes. My U/A’s somehow got a hole in them and it wasn’t repairable. So I did a lot of research on shoes and finally figured that since I wear them for most everything in the winter and don’t really run trails all that much the rest of the year. Based on knowing how I would probably use them, I didn’t really need a heavy duty trail shoe and that a combo style shoe would probably work the best for me.

Since Newton’s road shoes have been doing well for me.

I decided to get the Boco Sol’s.

I will get to run in them tomorrow. I was surprised and impressed when I first actually saw the outsole, it is a LOT more aggressive than I thought they would be – the online photos hadn’t done it justice.

The “Why” Behind The New Header

I changed the header on my blog this week and I did it for a very specific reason.

To make it useful to me.

I wanted a tool to remind me of where I have come from, things I want to achieve and to remind me that my running has been a journey, not something that just recently became “something I started doing”.

Picture #1 – Was a photo of me before a cross-country meet in 1974. It was the start of my senior year at Nokomis High School up in Newport, Maine and it reminds me of the great future that we all believe is ahead of us versus the reality that our lives become. For many the high school years are the “glory days” and we are limited to memories of “who we were then” or “what we should have done”.

Looking back, I should and probably could have done more with my running, but never did. Yeah, the story of untapped potential versus the reality of what happened. However, I have learned that while high school happened, that guy in the photo is a stranger to who I am now. We can’t live in the past and have to keep moving forward. We have to make now – our “Glory Days” and let go of what might have been.

Another thing this photo reminds is that the “myth” that life was always better back when…(you add in the year), sometimes we have selective memories and tend to remember the good things about the good olde days, when the truth be told those good olde days were not always that good and that I would not want to go back re-live my life again (without making more than a few changes to things I had done). Right now is the best time of my life, because it is the only one that I have any real control over. Tomorrow can be influenced by today’s actions, but yesterday is but a memory.

Picture #2 – I was running in the 1983 Marine Corps Marathon. Which will be the only marathon that I will probably ever finish although I have continued to delude myself on several levels that I will qualify and run Boston someday – I know – never say never, but…well the body would need to hold up to marathon training and so far it has not.

The 1983 MCM was the toughest race I have ever done and to be honest, it took something out of me to finish that race. I became a different runner after it and it was not for the better. I don’t go to the well anymore – runners will understand what I am saying and yes it still does affect how hard I will run during a race.

Picture #3 – Is from Joseph’s 5K in 2013, I was probably in the best shape I have been in since 1986 and was running great. It was the race where I set my post-55 PR that I am now chasing in the 5K — 21:20. I wanted to have this photo here to remind of this particular goal and where I was both physically and mentally when I set it.

Picture #4 – I was the assistant cross-country coach at Lawrence Junior High School in 2010. At this point, I was over 200 pounds, six months before knee surgery and trying to get through the school year. It was the low point of my life when it comes to being physically fit.

I put that photo there to remind me of how far I have come AND that when I put my mind to do something that I can do it, despite it being tough or a lot of hard work. Sometimes you have to make choices that go against what “everyone” else is doing and stick to it if you want to keep moving forward.

Picture #5 – A photo from the 2014 Central Maine Striders January Thaw Race. It is there to remind me that I am not an island and that I need to get back to doing more things in the local running community. I was very active in the Central Maine Striders during this time and for various reasons, I withdrew from being active in the club.

It is a reminder to enjoy my running and life as it is, not some surrealistic attempt to be anything other than who I am and where I am now.

Picture #6 – A photo from the only road race that I have ever won outright. It was not because I was particularly fast that day or had a great race (my time in the next year’s race was only 2 seconds slower and I sure didn’t win).

Winning this race was completely about the fact that I actually showed up. Showing up, getting to the race is 90% of the battle for me, actually running the race or doing whatever is the easy part, once I get there. I need to keep reminding myself that I might not be the fastest, strongest or best runner in the area, but you might be the best one that actually shows up that day.

It is my reminder that I gotta show up, to do, not just try or simply train by myself.

This quote sums up what I mean:

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat. ~ Theodore Roosevelt

This is true in my running and also life in general.

Picture #7 – A photo from my most recent race, where Ron was considerate enough to pace me to a good time. It shows the comradiere that runners have and reminds me to give back to the sport that I love so much.

Something if I am not careful of, is that I tend to isolate myself from others and think only of the things that I want to accomplish in running or other things. This race where Ron took the time to pace the old geezer to a much faster time than I would have done without his help, reinforced the idea that accepting help from others is not a bad thing and also that helping others can be rewarding as well. When I isolate myself, I sometimes forget those things.

The reality is that

Those are the back stories behind each of the photos I chose for the header. They are all there for specific reasons and since I do tend to spend a lot of time on my blog, they will be there to remind me of things that I want to work on.

I have a feeling that from time-to-time different photos will be added or deleted based on my present needs, goals and wants from my running and where I am in my life. It is not going to remain a static header, it will be dynamic and change according to what is going on.

Sometimes our blogs are not just about passing information about giving advice to others, for getting free stuff, making money or giving our opinions about whatever…no, sometimes they are web logs that we use to remind of things we want to do or heaven forbid where we have been.

A unique thought about what a web log is about in today’s blogosphere.

And So It Begins Speedwork – RunLog 1-30-18

Today was the first day that I have actually done Speedwork in a long time. I wasn’t really sure that I would do it or not this morning, but with the wind chills below zero, I was not going to run outside. Which meant a trip to run on the treadmill again.

The winds were the biggest problem today, if it hadn’t been for that, I think I would have run outside. Unfortunately, the 15-20 mph steady breeze was just too much to play around in – even Bennie thought it was cold out there.

He found a spot on the couch where I had my heating pad on earlier and relaxed a bit. It looks like he is saying “quit bugging and let me get back to that dream I was having.”

That is how I left him when I took off to my clandestine meeting with the Planet Fitness treadmill.

One thing that is very strange, yeah it is rather odd that I love short intervals – that old sprinter in me dies harder than I thought. I am very weird in that I love to run fast for short distances and the more I thought about doing Speedwork today, the more I thought that I should do something that I do like to do. So I decided to do tenth of a mile fast intervals with a tenth of a mile recovery.

I figured that I would do 10 or so repeats and call it quits. Well needless to say that is not what happened.

When I finished the tenth one, I was feeling really good and kept going and kept going and kept going. There is something about me and short/fast runs – I love them and they don’t fatigue me like quarters, halves, klics or miles. I really could have kept going, but decided to stop while I was feeling great.

One helluva confidence builder!

Yeah I “warmed-up” at for .90 mile @ 7.6 mph and then proceeded to do 20 x .1 intervals at 9.0 mph with .1 recovery at 7.0 mph, with one more (the last one .1 @ 9.5 mph). Needless to say, I set my 2018 5.0 mile treadmill personal best pretty easily. Maybe someday, I should do a 5K race using this kind of a plan – although it would probably piss off some of the other runners though as we would pass one another all too often. It certainly wouldn’t be a consistent pace.

Now I know that I am not really in that kind of shape and that the treadmill does help me a quite bit on the speed side of things, but daaaammmn, that exceeded anything that I thought that I could/would/should do for my first repeat session of the season. At no point did I feel overly fatigued or unable to finish a repeat easily. Actually some of the recovery repeats were harder for me than the running faster.

Now in reality this workout does not relate to how I will run outside, it is simply a speed workout where I got to stretch my legs a bit more than usual.

Who knows maybe there is still some pop left in the old legs, but now to get them in shape for that non-motorized running outside 🙂

Ka-Ching – Do I Really Want to Run in Your Race?

Okay another one of those old fart soapbox posts, so if you don’t want to read about my whining and blathering, this is a good place to stop. Especially if you tend to get your knickers in a bunch very quickly about one of running’s sacred cows.

I was looking at what races I think that I want to run over the course of the rest of the year and got to thinking about some of the races I have run in the past.

Believe it or not – not all of my race experiences have been positive and it has not had anything to do with how I ran.

The causes, charities, organizations and for-profits that seem to dominate organizing races nowadays do not always give the race experience we anticipated when we willingly, well coughed-up, errrr paid our registration fees for “their” race. I won’t even get into how much races cost in this post that is saved for another day.

I guess that is what bothers me, is that so many race organizers seem to believe or have the attitude that it is a privilege for us to run in their race/event and support their cause. Is it?

Continue reading “Ka-Ching – Do I Really Want to Run in Your Race?”

1979 to 1982 – Running in St. Ignace

This post was written for and first appeared on One Foot In Reality.

Even though some of you may have already read previous versions of this post. Since I have started writing on Aging Runnah exclusively, I have decided to clean-up and re-publish my forty plus years of running series here on Aging Runnah. There were a few rough spots, things left out and I thought it would be nice to share this old fart’s story of running over the years – yeah the story of how I became the runner I am today.

To make things simpler I have broken these posts into somewhat chronological order, based on where I have lived and run. Some places will have their own posts, others will be combined sometimes I will even break out a particularly important event in my running into its own post.

This post will be about the years:

1979 to 1982 — St. Ignace, Michigan

Over my summer leave I ran maybe 5 times, I was too busy getting out having way too much fun and sun before my next duty station – it was the graduation summer that I never had. Transitioning back into the Coast Guard was going to be tough or was it?

I’m on the one without gold on my sleeve getting my Associates Degree. By the time this photo was taken I had become quite the Chunky monkey.

I arrived at the Marine Inspection Office – St Ignace July 1979 and had been on 45 days leave. Needless to say, I was still in civilian mode when I arrived, but that was okay, because of all my duty station St Ignace was the closest to me being a civilian during my Coast Guard career. Getting to wear civilian clothes, working in a small office in the Town’s Municipal Building made it seem as though the Coast Guard was miles away.

The first year in St. Ignace, I really didn’t run that consistently, it was more about meeting people, learning the area, a new job and it is where I met my first wife that summer. All I know is there was lots of bars, let me repeat lots of bars, eating at the Big Boy restaurant, not a lot of exercising and gaining back all of the weight that I worked so hard to get rid of those previous years.

When I saw a photo of me in uniform that first winter, I decided it was time to get my ass back on the roads and do something about the flubber that had come back in a bad way. Yes, I smartened up again. Stopped the boozing and began to run and I ran a lot. My boss was a runner and he was very supportive of my running.

Mail Order Running Catalogs

The next spring was when I discovered mail order catalogs and Moss Brown Inc. of Georgetown and ordering online using a credit card. It made it sooooo easy to simply call them up and place an order for that new pair of Shoes that appeared in Runner’s World or Running Times. All I know is that Moss Brown and a few other companies did get a lot of money sent their way and my started me on my weakness for new running shoes.

I went through several different shoes while there (some very good, some horrible), but the one pair I remember most was going down to Petoskey, MI and finding a brand new pair of Nike Equinox at a bike shop that carried running shoes, that I had been reading about in my Runners World and just had to have a pair.

The store didn’t have any 7.5 or 8.0, so I settled on a very tight pair of size 7.0 and hated the shoe, they blistered the hell out of my right foot (even back then my right foot bothered me), but I ran in them anyway because I didn’t have any others (my then wife had gotten rid of all my old ones before we left that day).

I know that I only ran about 50 miles in them before I went out and bought a new pair of Saucony Jazz, which didn’t work all that well for me either. So I ended up getting a pair of Brooks shoes (not sure if it was the Villanova, Tempos or what they were), that I just loved and ran in those for a long time.

Than I got a pair of Etonic Streetfighter’s if I remember correctly, between the Brooks and the Etonics, I was pretty happy with my running shoes for a while.

I was in St. Ignace until 1982 and I never ran a road race there, but I had several weeks where I was running 50-60 miles a week and reading all the running magazines I could get my hands on. I always pretended that I was training for Boston.

The biggest memories I have of running in St. Ignace are finally making it to the top of the hill beside the town office without stopping. It was a real tough uphill run for me. However, the course that I ran the most and no doubt was my favorite course was the 3.0 mile loop around the old trail out to the Airport, even back then I liked to run trails, I just didn’t know how much.

St. Ignace is where I learned that I do love to run long distances, even if I was and still not all that good at it.

1977 to May 1979 – Cape Cod and Bat Out of Hell

This post was written for and first appeared on One Foot In Reality.

Even though some of you may have already read previous versions of this post. Since I have started writing on Aging Runnah exclusively, I have decided to clean-up and re-publish my forty plus years of running series here on Aging Runnah. There were a few rough spots, things left out and I thought it would be nice to share this old fart’s story of running over the years – yeah the story of how I became the runner I am today.

To make things simpler I have broken these posts into somewhat chronological order, based on where I have lived and run. Some places will have their own posts, others will be combined sometimes I will even break out a particularly important event in my running into its own post.

This post will be about the years:

1977 to May 1979 – Cape Cod

My next place to run was Cape Cod Air Station and there I started running again pretty regularly.

I was running in Brooks (I think the model was the Vantage), only this time I started to run longer distances and found that I while I wasn’t all that great at it, it did help me get skinny again.

One of the thing about living in the barracks at AirSTA Cape Cod was the only damn hill in the areas was coming back into the Air Station itself, so I always had to run up that damn hill to get back to base. Good training but I hated it. Although I hated that hill, it was nice for doing repeats and I lost most of the weight that I had gained onboard the SPAR, that first year at the Air Station.

The most memorable run I had was that first year there during November, I was supposed to be a tough runner, so I always wore only shorts and a t-shirt, no matter what the weather was (stooopid me). That day, as usual I was running in shorts and a t-shirt, the weather was probably in the 30’s with 30 mile an hour winds whipping off the runways and I went for a 5 mile run.

Needless to say, I was frozen when I got back and they took me over to the infirmary because I looked like I was going to die. A certain part of my anatomy was very frozen and had to be checked out by the on call physician to see if I had done any damage. It took a loooong time to live that one down.

The female HM’s were particularly brutal.

The CO at the time was an ultra-marathoner (which was very uncommon for back then) and after the next days briefings, I got a call to walk down the hall to his office. This wasn’t unusual since I did a lot of work for him and the XO. When I got to the office he asked me to sit down and he gave me some tips and advice on running in cold weather. I learned to run with a plastic bag inserted in my shorts or better in wind pants and he kindly advised me that I continued being a macho runner would lead to a very short running career. After that I got Bill Rodgers running wind suit and used it effectively in cold or nasty weather for many years.

When I moved off base and lived in Falmouth, I would drive down and run along the ocean drive to Woods Hole, not realizing it was part of the Falmouth Road Race course (unfortunately, I never ran it though), I just enjoyed the views both scenery and girls that would be walking/running there.

I lived on Tanglewood Dr in Falmouth and if you went all the way to the end of the road, it turned to an old woods road that came out on a series of cranberry bogs, that is where I did a lot of my running back then. Not much traffic out there which was a problem during the summers on Cape Cod.

Shorty cut-off shorts and tube socks – I was sooooo cool!

As usual I got hurt while playing basketball and ended up on crutches what seemed like most of the summer of ’78, actually only 3 weeks and I took the cast off, not the Doctors. The start of my not being to good with Dr.’s Orders – which in the military they really get pissed about and they let me know they were not happy with me.

After that I did run more, but never got into the local road racing scene down there, which is something that I regret.

So the summer of ’78 wasn’t a great running summer and while I kept running most of that fall and into the winter, when I met young lady who was living up in Worcester. I was spending time trying to get to know her a lot better, so running became less important to me. Things didn’t work out between us and I used running to help move past what had happened.

I did run my first 5K road race in Falmouth on January 1, 1979, as a New Year’s resolution that I was going to run more and do some road racing, lose a the weight I had gained. Unfortunately, the race was an utter fiasco, I was hung over, out of shape, overdressed, almost didn’t finish and finished last (DFL).

However my first enlistment was up in June and Rick, Bobby and I were gonna get out of Coast Guard. All three of us had out short-timers chains/calendars and we had made plans to go hiking up in the White Mountains with another guy – Kim.

So I was working out and running was a big part of the preparation for this hiking adventure, that whole spring. It ended up that Bobby and I re-enlisted at the last minute, the job market was not too great at that time for me (no degree), so when the detailer offered me a sweet new duty station in St. Ignace, Michigan and a nice re-enlistment bonus – I took it.

We did the hike, but didn’t do as much as we had planned, other priorities split us apart and we cut the hike short.

I left Cape Cod that May and took 45 days leave from the military, got tanned, did some haying for a local farmer and became a beach bum,

Gramp, Mikey and me

I also fell in love with a girl from up in Dexter, we spent the last couple of weeks of my leave getting to know each other a bit better. Unfortunately, she wouldn’t come with me and I drove off into the sunset for Michigan. Listening to Meatloaf’s – Bat Out of Hell cassette tape in my Brandy Spanky New Subaru Brat.

A Little Running Gear Shopping Today

Today the wife and I went out and did some running clothes shopping. In my last weekly update I whined about many of my running shirts having that runner’s stench and needed to go away or worse that 15 additional pounds made some a little lot snugger than was comfortable.

Now I would prefer to support my local running store when I go out to buy running stuff. Unfortunately, we do not have one – the nearest thing in the Augusta, Maine area is the Local Dick’s Sporting Goods, which usually has some good running gear, but it is fairly expensive. Either way, going with first run prices on multiple pieces of clothing doesn’t really appeal to me. Plus with both of us retired it does means we have to keep things within the budget and be prudent on how we shop.

The other thing is we are not fashionistas and just want the gear we want to be quality stuff, looks decent on the old body and is reasonably priced for what we are getting. We do have a Mardens in Waterville, which is hit or miss, sometimes you can find GREAT deals there and other times, there is nothing – it depends on the luck of the draw.

So we drove up there and did some shopping. Mary found a couple of tops, but I hit the jackpot:

  • 2 – Tenn Bicycle Long Sleeve Tech shirts – I like bicycle shirts for longer runs in the spring and fall, I don’t have to wear my waist belt as often. One less thing to carry/wear.
  • 1 – Adidas tech hoodie
  • 3 – CEP leg compression sleeves – I needed new one, mine had all worn out.
  • 1 – Smart Wool toe socks – I wanted to try them again to see if they help a little more with that right toe of mine. After wearing when I got home I might head back and pick up the other pair that was there later in the week.

It doesn’t sound like much in the way of running gear, but being able to buy them at Mardens saved us a LOT of money and didn’t kill the budget like buying them at full-price would have.

After trying everything on, they fit like they were supposed to and best of all, there was not any rotten spaghetti smell emanating from the old body, err clothes when I put them on.

Like I said Mardens is hit or miss, but today it was a pretty big hit.

I will be a little less offensive to others when I go out in public now. Smell-wise anyways. 🙂

Staying Smart – RunLog 1-29-18

Today was supposed to be a long run outside, since I said supposed, you can figure out that it didn’t happen.

Why not?

It was really quite simple, the temps with the wind chills were below my safety zone. When it is 17*F and the wind chills are in the single digits, I don’t do long or longer runs outside. I have had a couple of pretty bad experiences over the past five years, in those conditions and hypothermia can get you in trouble, before you realize you are in trouble.

So I have established safety zones for me and my running – your’s might be different, but after the last episode (which scared the shit out of me), I don’t mess around with them and have made them into pretty hard safety features in my running. I prefer to be safe than sorry.

When we walked Bennie a couple of miles before I was going to run, I knew with certainty that the conditions were exactly the kind that I had gotten in trouble in before. Especially, since part of the reason for the walk was that I wanted to wear the running shoes and merino wool socks that I would have run in and by the time we got back to the house my feet were pretty much frozen.

Not a good thing or something I want to contend with on a long run outside.

I just wasn’t going to take any chances and that meant no longer run outside today.

Which meant back to the treadmill at Planet Fitness this morning.

I wanted to get in 5-6 miles at 7.0 mph – nothing too thrilling or anything, but close enough to what I wanted to get done for a long run.

Right after I got to 3.4 miles or so, when I was attempting to straighten out my arm swing, I accidentally hit the kill button and reset the treadmill. Grrrrr one of the pain in the arse things that I hate about the treadmill, especially when my footpod/watch calibration was all screwed up. Oh well, I had a pretty decent idea of my mileage and guesstimated the remainder. After all, I maintained a steady 7.0 mph the entire run, so it should have been pretty close.

Other than that blip, I felt good and got ‘r done.

1975 – 1977 Running While On the SPAR

This post was written for and first appeared on One Foot In Reality.

Since I have started writing on Aging Runnah exclusively, I have decided to clean-up and re-publish my forty plus years of running series here. There were a few rough spots, things left out and I thought it would be nice to share this old fart’s story of running over the years – yeah the story of how I became the runner I am today.

To make things simpler I have broken these posts into somewhat chronological order, based on where I have lived and run. Some places will have their own posts, others will be combined sometimes I will even break out a particularly important event in my running into its own post.

This post will be about the years:

1975 to 1977 on board the UCGC SPAR & ACACIA & MESQUITE and back to the SPAR, but all three were homeported in South Portland, Maine during my time aboard them. They were all part of the 180 FRAM and we got stuck with all the swaps or should I say cross decking. The SPAR is now an artificial reef and all I have left are the memories and a few odd photos of her.

Some memories are good and some pretty bad.

This is probably the longest time in my life that I didn’t run very often and wasn’t injured. Living and working aboard a ship, just was not conducive to running back in those days.

I was on a 180′ Coast Guard Buoy Tender and they were not big enough to have an exercise room set aside with a treadmill. Besides exercising was not something we had time for.

The motto from the Captains on down was pretty much “work hard/play harder”. Back in the day you were expected to play hard and if you didn’t…well you were considered an outsider, who wasn’t part of the crew. Some of the sea stories, ooh lala but that was a different place and time than today’s professional military :-).

However, one of the saddest memories is when I was in Little Creek, Virginia during October 1975 and went off the base. I saw a sign that said “Sailors and dogs stay off the grass”. It pissed me off that day and has stuck with me all these years. I know it was a different time and Vietnam was still fresh in many minds but…yeah it bothered me.

When I ran, it would sometimes be with one of the Ensigns (Enzymes) who had been a runner at the Academy (in a small world, many years later he was a full Commander and I was a Chief Warrant Officer stationed in Boston – we ran together again), if we pulled into port in time or sometimes when liberty was granted, but it was very inconsistent at best.

Believe it or not my running shoes for almost the entire time I was on the ship were a pair of Pony running shoes that I bought at the Cape May Exchange the day I graduated from Boot Camp. I had made a promise I was going to keep running, but never do it again in crappy sneakers.

While on the SPAR I got to run in Boston, Baltimore (Curtis Bay), Norfolk, Woods Hole, Governors Island, Rockland, GTMO (Guantanamo Bay, Cuba) and few other cool places.

I might have gotten one or two runs in a week or not run for several weeks in a row. Most of my time on liberty was spent drinking at bars, playing softball or basketball and yes going home on weekends to see girlfriends in my POS (piece of shit) 1971 Camaro.

I also got pretty damn fat during this time (for the first time) and it is a battle that I have had to wage for the rest of my adult life.

After 1 year 10 months 13 days and 11 hours and a few minutes, I got off that ship and never went back to sea again as a permanent member of a ship’s company. I never did get over being sea-sick all the time, just sucked it up and did what I had to when we were underway.

The above photo is where I slept before the SPAR went through FRAM. Not a whole lot of room up there and with the engine room on the other side of the bulkhead – well you learned to sleep through just about anything – something I can still do.

Being on board ship was different, you became a member of an extended family and all the fun and issues that go along with 48-52 personalities. I did many things during this time that I wouldn’t do today and wouldn’t be permissable in today’s world, because I would be in jail or discharged from today’s Coast Guardvery quickly. Nothing really illegal, but the partying hard, would have gotten me in a lot of trouble. Back then it was what we did as a right of passage and it was a LOT more socially acceptable, than it is now. Being a Puddle Pirate or simply a Coastie isn’t…well let’s just say things are different.

The only thing I would have done differently is accepted that transfer to Hawaii and the 14th District Office job that was offered me at the end of that tour, instead of taking the AIRSTA Cape Cod tour. I have a feeling that a lot of things would have worked out differently for me.

Nope, running wasn’t really a priority for me while I was on the buoy tenders, but I did it enough that I never completely turned in my runner’s card.

Running and Boot Camp – 1975

This post was written for and first appeared on One Foot In Reality.

Since I have started writing on Aging Runnah exclusively, I have decided to clean-up and re-publish my forty plus years of running series here. There were a few rough spots, things left out and I thought it would be nice to share this old fart’s story of running over the years – yeah the story of how I became the runner I am today.

To make things simpler I have broken these posts into somewhat chronological order, based on where I have lived and run. Some places will have their own posts, others will be combined sometimes I will even break out a particularly important event in my running into its own post.

This post will be about the years June 1975 to August 1975:

I graduated from High School on June 11th and on June 23rd I was winging my way to Cape May, NJ for Coast Guard Boot Camp with Bobby M. and another guy from Indian Island (who I don’t remember seeing again after the first week or so). I was all of 17 years old, naive as hell, never been on a plane before, never away from home for more than a night or two, and I was scared as hell!

Boot Camp 1975

However, I also knew that I had to leave when I did, things were not great for me at home and going in the Coast Guard all those years ago, was probably one of the best and most important decisions that I have made in my life.

Since the day I raised my hand and said:

“I, …, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.”

Voluntarily giving that oath changed my life completely and still affects it, especially since I am still bound by my oath (I retired from the Coast Guard) and yes, I still believe in the oath I repeated. I gave the United States that proverbial “blank check” when I signed my name at the bottom of my Enlistment Contract that day and would not hesitate to do it again – if given the chance.

I really hate to think what my life would have been like if had not decided to go into the Coast Guard that summer – it would not have probably ended up…well it doesn’t matter does it, because I did. However, too many of my high school classmates have crossed over the bar to the other side that stayed home.

Uniform 26

Once I got to Boot Camp and became a member Uniform 26, I did my best to follow my grandfather’s advice: never volunteer, don’t stand-out, don’t be a dirt bag, don’t be first, (I screwed that up a little), don’t be last, do exactly what you are told even if it doesn’t make sense, keep your mouth shut even when you want to say something and become invisible.

Uniform 26 Graduation Photo

I followed that advice enough so that my 6th week into boot camp, my Company Commander – Chief Chambers (who was replaced by BM1 Terry, the ACC after week 7 if I remember correctly) asked me what I was doing in his squad bay, what Company did I belong to and was serious about it.

When I responded “Uniform 26, sir!” He said “bullshit, come with me” and took me into the Company Office and looked me up on the rolls, when he saw that I was in his company, he just sat down and started laughing.

After he stopped laughing, he told me to get to hell out of there, but I was in his spotlight for the next week and did more pushups, dying cockroaches and earned more demerits than I had in all my previous 7 weeks put together. This was until I was able to go back to being invisible again, when others in the Company needed his attention more than I did.

Running All the Time

One thing about boot camp – if you were not in formation, you were “on the bounce”, running where ever it was you needed to go.

The morning formation runs were pretty easy, but what we had to run in really sucked. We were issued the old white canvas, rubber bottom sneakers for running (true minimalist running shoes – if they would have only fit decently) and then when it wasn’t PE, we had to wear steel toed boondockers (which totally sucked and caused way too many blisters), especially when running with a rifle at high port on the beach or Marlborough country (those frigging sandy beaches), which our company seemed to visit way too often.

So I probably ran more during the 10 weeks in boot camp than I had my whole last year in High School.

The only time I didn’t really listen to my grandfather’s great advice was twice – during the 300 yard shuttle runs in our PE phase testing.

During the 2nd week PE test, I almost beat this big guy from Philly in the 300 yard shuttle run. He was pissed that a scrawny little kid from Maine had almost beat him. A lot of his “friends” gave him a lot of grief for that and I quickly learned to avoid him, if I didn’t want to deal with his attitude.

It worked most of the time.

During our 8th week we had our last PE progress test, which included another 300 yard shuttle run. We ran the elimination heats and finally it came down to the 2 of us and 3 other guys. Before the last heat, he told me he was going to kick “my ass – bad” this time and if I beat him it would even be worse!

He was definitely trying to intimidate me (it was working too, he had gotten in trouble a couple of times for fighting in the squad bay and definitely had some problems with his temper) and I know he would have hurt me bad if he wanted to. However, I was the only one who was running that day, that had a prayer of beating him in the 300 yard shuttle and we both knew it.

During the race it was one of those times when everything just comes together perfectly and we were side-by-side coming off the last shuttle. At that point I found another gear and just kicked it in, I beat him by a good 10 yards and kept running for what felt like another 200, before I stopped and looked around.

I was actually scared he might try to kick my ass for beating him right then and there. I wanted to put a little distance between us.

When I jogged back up to the finish line, one of the PE instructors told me I had broken the recruit record for the 300 yard shuttle (no idea what the time was) and that my name was going on a plaque in the base gym – never saw it???

The guy from Philly came over, because he had been “ordered” to be a good sport, he glowered at me and shook my hand (he damn near broke it – on purpose) and said he had never seen anyone run like that before and that we would talk about it “later”. That kind of ruined the moment for me a little

If I remember right he got assigned to “red belts” later that afternoon for something he said to the Assistant Company Commander, which was probably a good thing for me.

The next day during our morning formation run, I stepped in a sewer drain wrong and almost broke my left ankle. I was in the hospital for a week and barely got to graduate with my Company. I don’t know if it was true or not but a couple of guys told me it was a probably a good thing I was in the hospital ward until right before we graduated, because certain people had looked for me to give me a “blanket party” for winning that race.

The reality is that

Boot Camp set the tone for the remainder of my life and the person that I have become.

It was the first time in my life I had actually the opportunity to sit down and talk to any other race. Back then there was only one black family in the town where I grew up in Central Maine and they didn’t have any kids. There were no Asians, no Hispanics, etc., pretty much everyone was of white Anglo-Saxon background or didn’t advertise their heritage (things were different back then).

Boot Camp 1975

Needless to say, leaving small town Maine for Coast Guard Boot Camp was just a little culture shock for me!

Coming from a small town in Maine, to the melting pot of boot camp in the mid-70’s. Especially, when I met and talked to so many people who didn’t fit the stereotypes that I had of them before I got there. Those ones you get from the television and nightly news. It was a definite learning experience and taught me that it doesn’t matter if someone is black, white, yellow, red, green or purple, it is how people treat you and how you treat them that matters the most and that is a lesson that I still use to this day.

I did a LOT of running in Boot Camp and while most of it wasn’t competitive, it was still running. When I left, I could run long distances better than I ever could and couldn’t wait to get to the ship I had been assigned to – back in South Portland, Maine.

I wouldn’t trade the experiences that I had that summer.