Running for Your Life: Back From Key West

It’s twelve feet above sea level in Key West at its highest point, the cemetery.

One day, and it was one among ten, the Simonton Street bank LED showed 87F, and I was running then in the midafternoon when the sun is hottest, not much better than a 9 minute-mile pace but it’s flat, gloriously so, the only hill-like climb the rise of the bridge along Palm Avenue over the Garrison Bight, near the floating Thai restaurant with, believe it or not, real, honest to God Thai food – and Thai servers.

Key Westers will tell you that life has changed down here. But if your accommodation is taken care of – courtesy of friends or family, a conference, in my case – then I’d daresay less than other places you care to name. Chickens walk every whichway, roosters rule the roost, a sixty-something black man tells stories of how special a certain white man was to his reckoning back in the middle ’50s. (Ernest Hemingway, if you have to ask.) Which is not to say that Key West is diverse. Far from it. But it has not been destroyed by the grotesque money of the .001 percenters. Homeless live here. Showing more fear than the fowl, serving as a morning weather forecaster on one occasion, straight-talking picnic-table sitters in a second.

Run here and – because of its flatness – spring along. Next to the fat-tired bikes rented by gray hairs, and the seemingly endless supply, if not variety, of conch trains trailing as many as a hundred tourists, sitting down for the low-rise tour of the houses, the tallest freestanding structure being the near-buried in sand and dune plants, Fort Zachary, or maybe some port-area government buildings, but most everything veers to the small side, with cottages bearing the less-than-quaint name: shotgun.

It would be fun to return to Key West one day. Maybe taste a few more 80F-plus days. Now, though, am happy to be back home. In the midst of a New York winter.

Next: Running for Your Life: Knausgaard Vol. II  

Running for Your Life: Cold, Hard Facts

It takes a certain something to run in the snowy cold.

Today (Jan. 6) as I write this it is in the 20s F and snowing, the first dusting of the year in Brooklyn, making the footing slippery, if not treacherous.

Twenty -- or even ten -- years ago I wouldn't have thought twice about suiting up and going out. After all, in New York, unlike Toronto, when the snow files the cars stay parked. Roads are plowed and relatively clear of snow. (There is only an inch or so of accumulation on the sidewalks.)

But now, in my sixtieth year, I'm a little more circumspect, wary of injury. My knees, my groin, my hamstrings, ankles are much more susceptible to strains or injury than they were in my youth. So I have to be smarter in order to run for my life, as my longtime blog pronounces.

So I go to the gym and run on the treadmill until the snow is gone. Snow-covered winter running is a risk I feel that I shouldn't take. Those are the cold, hard facts.

Next: Running for Your Life: Hot!

Running for Your Life: Resolutionary Road

It's that time. What's your deal? In my job as a New York Post headline scribe, I wrote "American Weigh" for a recent review column on the best of the get-thin-quick magazines.

That's not the cross I bear.

As I've written here many times, a substantial part of my life is divided into three pursuits: running, writing and reading -- not necessarily in that order.

Could I run more, write more, or read more? Or run harder, write more seriously, read with greater hunger to learn?

No, that's not my cross to bear eight.

Are we true to our loved ones? True enough that we don't sacrifice so much of what we hold dear to compromise that love? Do we examine the very idea of love in our life with the firm desire of deepening love? By taking the emotional risks that requires?

That's enough of Resolutionary Road for this year. Happy 2015, everybody!

Next: Running for Your Life: Cold Hard Facts

Running for Your Life: The Merry Christmas Post

Christmas comes but once a year, and Hanukkah too. Before the New Year strikes, and the pressure of resolutions.

You know: to eat less, to exercise more, to read, to forgive.

Now, though, it's about family. To gather 'round the tree, the menorah. Today (Dec. 22) we light the candles for the eighth and final night of Hanukkah. Then, before bed, we'll get out our Christmas stockings to put on the mantle.

At our house over the holidays this year we are blessed with the return of our daughter, K. She and her boyfriend, C, and their two dogs, the gentle blue pit, Stella, and the drama king Chihuahua, Shoe-y. We will cook and drink and laugh and tell stories. Some about the origins of our ornaments that we've collected on our travels throughout the years.  Oh, yes, there will be some unwrapping of gifts. But the simple additional presence of K, C, S, and Sh will be enough.

Boy-o-boy, this post is about as sappy as Lox, our Christmas tree. (We added an two-footer golden pine, which we dubbed Goldie ....) But what the heck. It's Christmas.

Very best of the season, everyone !

Next: Running for Your Life: Resolutions, I Have a Few

Running for Your Life: The Next Marathon or Number 9 !

At the end of July I had pretty much made up my mind. No more marathons. After all I'd been happy doing my every other day running for twenty-three straight years before I suited up for Pittsburgh Marathon in May 2010.

But then, in my fourth marathon, only the second one that I finished all 26.2 miles, I managed to run the race in 3:47, and later that year, in Scranton, I literally shocked myself with a Boston Marathon qualifying time of 3:33. Boston 2012 was my sixth marathon, significantly slower but it was 80 degrees F at start time, so just finishing in one piece was an achievement.

Then came my seventh, a return to Scranton and a modest sub-4 hours, followed by Nova Scotia in July, many minutes beyond four. It was hot that day, but I'd been hoping for better.

It was then I said, well, maybe that's enough. Eight marathons. There's the half, the 10K. Or just running. I mean that was good enough for twenty-three years, wasn't it?

Then a friend of mine said let's train for Albuquerque. In October. Starting race temp this year was 53  F; in 2013, 36 F; in 2012, 51.

That's more like it. And there's history. M, K and I lived in Santa Fe for a year in the early nineties. Bugs Bunny always took that wrong turn in Albuquerque. And the best damn TV show every made -- Breaking Bad -- was set in that town.

So there it is. The next race. And, oh yeah, I'll be over sixty, with a Boston Marathon qualifying time of 3:55 in my sights .... !

Ncxt: Running for Your Life: Sixty years in 2015