Sunday, October 15, 2017

Life and Art

Life and Art are hopelessly intertwined and that is how is has always been.  The cavemen drew on walls with charcoal to celebrate their bounty and lives.  Fast forward to today and we have digital pictures in our pockets and purses by the billion--celebrating our bounties--this will never change.  Pictures of kids, pets, loved ones, beautiful sunsets, friends, parties, medals from track meets--this is a running blog.    Family portraits have always been a staple of "normal" life.  Every parent and grandparents have the head and shoulder portrait that they had made at the local Olan Mills.  These pictures were retouched to eliminate any defects and highlite the stuff that needed to be highlited.  I have some in my attic right now from deceased family.  

Linda and I have never had the family "portrait" done because we just were not ready to take that plunge.  I had some work commissioned a few weeks back of Linda and it was supposed to be a Christmas present, but it was way too good to keep under lock and key that long, plus it needed to be displayed.    As soon as Linda saw the work,  and it is incredibly good, she commissioned a portrait of me as well.   The above is the portraits on display at the artist's home.  Matt Jenkins did the work and we are thrilled with these our portraits.   He uses drum heads as the media and adds bits of the person's life in the background of each portrait.   Just magic how this works.  Matt's mother was an artist and he is following in her footsteps and I wish him well as he builds his reputation.    These portraits will hopefully survive and will passed down to someone's attic in the future.....

My idea for a portrait was hatched when Linda and I were visiting Matt and Cynthia at a dinner party at their house.  They had recently married and we hosted a brunch on their wedding weekend and they were throwing a party to say thanks.   Matt had a drum head with a picture of Jack White that was bright and sparkly and just looked smart and unique.  I approached him about doing a Linda portrait and I thought it would be on wood--which he also does a lot of-but it is a 22 inch drum head skin.  I sent a couple batches of  pictures and added some story about her life and interests and in a couple weeks I got a text to come and check it out.  Nice!  Matt adds crystals on the pictures and he added some on Linda's glasses and they sparkle just like the pair she wears all the time.  It is lifelike! Sometimes,  way too lifelike..........

While we are on the art subject, we are redecorating our living room..  The new recliner has arrived and is in service.  Two new storage end tables are unpacked and in use too. We are waiting on a new sofa, and have relocated the TV,  and with all this done, we need to move all the art work in the living room to properly fill the wall spaces.  We have enough art to fill a 6000 square foot house, so we have to work hard at finding places to display the good stuff.  Many times, it is like a traveling exhibit is in our house and we change multiple pieces at once.  Time for a new exhibit at the Fly House.

In a couple weeks,  the Canyon trip is on the books and I am excited about the Rim to Rim adventure.  You never know when it could be your last hike to the bottom and I plan on making this a fun trek. Linda will go along and visit a bunch of family and one of her best girl friends. Linda does not do the hike, she will stay in Phoenix.   I need to get the heavy pack out and do some hiking work to get the knees ready. 


Saturday, October 7, 2017

District meet results

 We ran the Greater Nashville Senior Games last weekend at Brentwood High School.   I ran in 4 events and also high jumped in competition for the first time since 1975!    I won the 100 and 200 meter events and was beaten in the 50 by David Schmanski who was in the other heat and it was hand timed.  Last year I got beat in the same event by somebody in another heat..  It is hard to race them in another heat.  But it is just a qualifier.   I also ran the 400 in 80 seconds.  It was the fourth event of the morning  and I was getting fatigued at that point and I wanted to jump in an hour or so, so I did mail that one in.  Two gold and 2 silver for the morning was great meet already.
I had been playing with the high jump at Ravenwood and was clearing 53 inches on a regular basis and wanted to give it a try.  The last time I had jumped in competition was in 1975 when Mike Baker, Dirk Cox and I won the Newcomerstown Relays with a new meet record!   42 years later and here we go!  I was  competitive  and cleared 4 feet 8 inches and missed three times at 4' 10" and was out.  I recently got a GoPro and Linda taped some jumps and I will be working on my arm movement and getting higher.   The 4'8"  from what I can tell tied the Tennessee  state record in my age group and won the gold.    Total count of 3 golds and 2 silvers.  Pretty good day and I was whipped after 4 races in one day.

The outdoor racing season is essentially over and the  final results are in from the season and I did some digging on the Masters Ranking lists for my final numbers in terms of how I compared to the other runners in the US.  I will stay away form the global stuff, I did not get a chance to race them. 

The final outdoors results for the  season for me  were # 1 in 60, # 27 in 50,  # 19 in 100, # 13 in 200, # 9 in 400 meters  and 27th in the high jump.   Pretty darn good and almost all were USATF All American Standards which means a lot to me.   I also was thinking about the Top Sprinter for the season--which would be who had a national ranking in the 100, 200 and 400.  I put together an Excel spread sheet and nobody ahead of me in the 100 and 200 runs the 400 meters!   So , by default I should be the Top Sprinter --nobody else gets their butt out there and runs the 400!!  I think I will have to come up with an award for myself and see if anyone wants to take it away!

Last week I was in Miami Beach for a trade show and we did not have much for weather unless you like winds and rain.  The beach and water front are still in rough shape and they have a lot of clean up left.  Hopefully they will be ready for tourists by Spring Break.  We have another trade show there next March at the remodeled Miami Convention Center and I hope everything is repaired.  

Next week I get see June Rosemary again while on my trip for work.  Yea!!

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Pinnacle Year

I was chatting with Linda this week and I told her that I thought that my 60th year was my pinnacle year.   I explained what really incredible things had occurred to me this year and she agreed and then added her Pinnacle Year which occurred in her very successful high school years.   Did it take me 40 years longer than her to get it together ??  Ummmm.... 

  1. June Rosemary arrived this year.     The first grandbaby holds an exulted place in everyone's family and she has taken that throne and it will never be relinquished.  I am very happy she is on that throne!
  2. Linda has made a massive improvement in her health and appears to be turning the corner on the pain that has plagued her of recent.
  3. I earned my first individual National event medal at the Senior Games in Birmingham.  That was a big bucket list item for me. 
  4. I also won a Gold medal at the USATF Outdoors Nationals in Baton Rouge in a relay.  Actually won two golds in that event.   Total medal haul for the summer was 2 gold, one silver and the bronze!!
  5. I ran in my first Indoor track meet and rally enjoyed the experience.  Amazing that it took so long to get to race indoors.
  6. I finally won a 100 meters in the State Finals in Tennessee..  I was a bridesmaid so many times, I just quite racing that event.  I may have improved enough to win it again.
  7. I set my personal best in the 200 meters since doing the Masters and Senior track. It has taken several years to learn the training and racing skills to get the time down to my current level.
  8. And lastly, I learned a very valuable lesson this season.  I was involved in three National events and one State Finals events and struggled with leg injuries for 3 of those events.  I found that racing is 90% mental.  Nagging injuries and pain do not slow me down.  Shut up and race, just do it and you will be fine.  It might hurt like hell for a while, but you are just as fast.  Lesson learned.

I think these results would be near the peak if not the real thing.   In my 61th year, I am going to work for a trip to Spain and run in an International Track event and be on the USA team.  And the peak may go a little higher, but June Rosemary is gonna be tough to top!   I am an engineer by trade and I love a nice graph with curves and peaks, we will see how this graph looks after next season. Stay tuned .

Friday, September 15, 2017

Time Off

I am still around.   But, I have been getting some serious rest in since the Nationals and I am at my peak of rest now.    Some how that sounds like a  Garrison Keillor line.  The Greater Nashville qualifier is coming up in two weeks and that means 4 races and high jumping in one day.   The times are now that important, but I need to have enough endurance to make it through each event and get qualified.      Last week I started to do a little running--indoors due to a lot of rainy crap from Irma-- and working on getting the muscles tightened back up for a day at the track.   My calf is doing fine and I needed to get going again because my weight is slowly creeping up.   Football on TV will not help, since the entire time you watch a game you need to be eating something-- healthy or not, feed that face.  

I have two weeks to work on my sprinting and then I will switch to power and strength with Grand Canyon Rim to Rim trip slated for early November.  That trip should be a lot of fun.  There will be 6 of us on a great hike with 3 veterans and 3 newbies.  The newbies make it a lot more fun, because they really get to soak it up for the first time.  Two of my kids will be the newbies and I am really jazzed for them!   It is a hell of a view from the bottom!!  I think I will also do the 5K Thanksgiving morning at the mall.   Last year it was a 4.45 K because of a screwed up lead out group.   I am still looking for the "official" under 30 minutes 5K and this hopefully is the year.  After that, I will do some less intensive training and star my peaking for March 2018 indoors in Maryland. 

This weekend is a huge event!  Linda and I are getting on a plane to go and visit June Rosemary.  She is sitting up and starting to move around a little and we are just super proud grand parents going for a visit.  Grandkids and granddogs--it should be a great Fall weekend for all in Milwaukee.  

Tuesday, August 8, 2017


My daughter was curious about her ancestry--her Mom was adopted and little is known from that side of the ladder-- and I know a lot about my ancestors. So  we both did the DNA testing and my results were finished this last week.   I thought I was mostly from the UK and a bit of France, but it was a little different from that.  But my ancestry is 37% Great Britain, 29% Scandinavia, 14% Ireland, 9% Greece, Italy,  6% Iberian Peninsula---99% Europe.   The Vikings invaded Scotland, Ireland and England and that explains most of the DNA. had some interesting maps that indicated the folks with similar DNA settled a narrow belt from Pittsburgh. PA to Indianapolis, IN.  I broke out of this range years ago, but the vast majority of my kin is still in that area.   This mapping was interesting info about how the immigration of the US was actually done as the West opened up to the settlers.   

I also tested my left calf tonight while in Tulsa.  It is real nice today with a 90 degree day and little humidity--just pleasant.  I headed to one of favorite tracks and ran several 60 meters and 100 meters at 80-85% speed and felt really good.  No calf issues--it felt good and responded to whatever I wanted to try.   With the healing complete, I will start looking at a training schedule for the Nashville District meet.  I want to high jump this year and the jumping will be the major new thing to work through.   It was really fun to get out and just run again.   I took off almost 4 weeks and really missed the running.    Speaking of running, the World Championships are going on in London and they are getting me jazzed up for next year.   Jenny Simpson took silver in the 1500 with a brilliant race and was just as excited as you can be to medal.  That is what this International competition is all about-- doing your best and having a great race.  She pulled it off-- so did 35 year old Justin Gatlin.  I am enjoying the racing, which is very, very entertaining.

Last week I was in Maryland for a funeral.   My Dad's brothers wife died.  They met in college and were married for 57 years and had two daughters and two grand children.  Her health had not been real strong, but she was not expected to die as quickly as she did.   Every time I attend a family funeral it really works on me for several days because the generations above are diminishing and I am quickly approaching the top of the ancestry chart.  I could in a few years, be on the top line in my family depth chart.    You can look at this as a glass half empty or half full......    I try every day to be positive and continue to live life as I think it needs to be done.   My Grandma Emma Allen said, " You get one lap at life, you gotta get it all in".  I will never forget that advice. 

With that advice in tow, I have some life to get lived this year.  Linda and I are headed to see June Rosemary in a couple weeks and enjoy her company. We have a horse show in Michigan to enjoy with the Lundins.   I have a Grand Canyon Adventure to pull off in November and it goes on.   I have a lot of life on my plate and so does Linda.  We are going to squeeze in as much living as we can this Winter and continue living life until we are exhausted and then let the next generation carry the life torch.  But, right now, I have the torch and I am going to carry it with pride and courage.  That courage leads to more adventures and I have a lot of time and energy to squeeze in as many as humanly possible.  I am not letting up or stopping anytime soon.....

Monday, July 31, 2017

Post Season Rest

It has been two weeks since we finished up in Baton Rouge and I had a calf muscle that was quite tender.   After two weeks of no running and no exercise that flexes the left calf muscle, things are much improved.  I made it to the gym today and worked on my core and upper body and just gingerly stretched my calf to see how it is healing.  I think I tore my soleus muscle and it is healing nicely and it is probably 95%, BUT I am waiting another two weeks before trying it out.  It is difficult to have the discipline to lay off.  Two more weeks of rest for the injury-- and that is final.  

I have a funeral to attend this week near Baltimore, Md.  My Dad's brother married a women from that area and she died at the age of 78 last weekend.  I will fly over and attend.

It has been nice to get some rest from working out, but it can get a little boring at times.   To cut the boredom, Linda and I have started to repaint the front fence.  I have cleaned it with bleach and high pressure water, and now it is getting scraped before a coat of white oil based paint.  Tractor Supply makes a great fence paint and we are getting it coated and it is looking very nice.

We are also busy eating garden veggies.  It is fun to go out in the garden and select your meal.  We are eating a lot of okra, tomatoes, bean, kale, squash and carrots.  Hopefully the weather cooperates and we can have fresh veggies into the fall.  All these veggies make weight maintenance much simplier.

Speaking of Fall, High School football starts in two weeks from Friday!!  There is nothing like football to entertain and kick off all the Fall activities.  Life again has purpose.....

Friday, July 21, 2017

Scoreboard for a Masters Sprinter

Everybody has a scoreboard, whether it  is dollars earned and accumulated, trophies won, fish caught, golf score,  square feet in your house, grand kids,  ACT score.........  Masters athletes have their own scoreboard, and it is a Master Ranking web site that accumulates times from all the meets globally and compiles them for comparison.  I found this site last year and it keeps up with all the big meets and any USATF event as well as some of the NSGA events.   You get an overall ranking versus the US or global competition and an 1 to 100% score to rank you against a hypothetical 100% maximum. 

I have been watching my progress on this site and I think this is where I should finish the year as a 60 year old in the outdoor season. 

  1. 50 meters,  91.55%, 7.33 seconds, 14th in world, 12th in US.  The US is basically the only country to run this event.
  2. 60 meters, 93.63, 8.26 seconds, second in world, first in US.  The event is rarely run outdoors in the US.  But I like to think I am second in the World this year.
  3. 100 meters, 88.71%, 13.19 seconds, 36 in world and 15th in the US.  The 13.19 is my new PR as a Masters athlete.  
  4. 200 meters, 88.04%, 27.26 seconds, 31 in the world and 11th in the US.  Another PR this season and I backed up this time by running several races within a few 0.01s of that time.
  5. 400 meters, 85.44%, 61.89 seconds, 26 in the world, 8 in the US.  This time is the fastest since my first 400 in 2010 when I entered my first Senior Games and did not know how to run the race. I reviewed the video on this race and my split was 30.2 seconds.  I need just a bit faster first 200 to run my age.  
I am very happy about my progress this season with one PR in the 200 and also a time in the 60 meters.  The 60 is typically an indoor event and now I can choose to run it and have a time to get a seed in the races.   My 200 times were very consistent around 27.30 and I need to find another 0.30 seconds to get near 27 flat.  I took about 0.4 seconds off my normal times this season.    If I get in that range, I can challenge for the podium at the big meets.  27 flat is one of my goals as I go into my off season.    I will continue to run the 400 when healthy.  I skipped the 400 at several meets this season because of various injuries and I need to get my track race time in the 400 to improve.  I want to run my age next season.  I will be 61 and the first number needs to be a 61 to make the goal.  Those two goals seem to be very simple, but getting faster as you age is not easy.  

How do you get faster?   In my case it is a couple of things I need to change--lose weight and eat better.  I am already working on eating less meat, less sugar, less processed foods and   more veggies.  I ran the last meet at 192 pounds and that weight seemed to be fine, I had good speed and recovered quickly.  Next year I want to try 186 to 188 as my racing weight.  That will make my body fat around 17 to 19% and that is pretty lean for my age.   Better food and being disciplined is the key here and having a garden out the back door is huge to control my diet better.

I made some major changes in my stretching and pre race routine very late in the season this year.  I thought I had a really good program, but my lower body stretching was causing an overstretching situation in my lower back and it was popping out of joint.  I started working with Lloyd Robison and we basically went thru his entire catalog of stretching to eliminate the risky behavior that I had been doing for years.  Now, my stretching is done away from the track and the track warm up is much simpler and lends itself to a quicker warm up.  Big meets have multiple delays for weather and injuries and the new warm up routine can handle these sort of delays much better.  You spend a lot of time just standing around and waiting for something to happen--hours many times and you need to stay ready.   I will continue to tune this program and currently my muscles are quite loose and pliable.  I will continue to get a massage every two weeks.  Geoff Skene has done some great work for the last several years and he can also get rid of a lot of airplane neck as well.

I learned a lot about my body this season and I think I made some major strides in my mental side of the sport. I belong at this level--I can make the finals and mix it up for a medal and that is all I can ask.  I have become a better and more patient racer on the track and in the queue. .  Waiting is a major part of a sport and you must be able to just let some of the delays and crap slide and concentrate on what I can control-- me.  I also raced 3 major events with injuries--twisted knee, sore back and calf injury.  In each case,  my times were not really impacted negatively to the extent that I was not competitive.  As I continue to race, injuries will be just be something you need to manage,  I think I managed the injuries at  Baton Rouge and going forward I will better at running thru injuries and just racing.  My body can tolerate a lot of minor dings and I just need to shut up and race.

You cannot race in these events without support from your family.  Linda is a great cheerleader and does some fantastic videos of my races.   Her support is a big part of my success.  Plus, she is a cute race wife to have around at the meets and is fun to travel with to the venues we visit. I have been talking Spain next year and she was on board immediately with that idea. We are talking going to Germany after the racing and making this a real vacation, I hope we can pull if off.   AUTOBAHN is calling!
Rosemary came over to Baton Rouge and it was her first time at one of my races and I think she enjoyed the racing.  I want to thank her for working on my calf muscle.  The calf still has some swelling 6 days after the injury and I am willing to wait a month before I give it a try again, and I think 4 weeks will be the minimum time to heal.  I have some sort of damage very deep in the tissue-the Achilles is unaffected.

I have met dozens of very competitive people at these events and that has been a real joy to talk with these Champions and look forward to seeing them at the next meet.  I have met some racers my age that live in the area and hopefully Linda and I can have some house guests and talk racing and everything that goes along with the aging of racers.