Tuesday, November 21, 2017

A little blood in the urine...

Monday, November 20, 2017
Once again, I went on a writing hiatus.  Not intentionally, mind you, but I did get out of the groove while visiting Jack in Georgia.  My goal of 600,000 steps for November has become a difficult challenge because of that trip.  I logged 15, 13, 10 and only 4K on the four days I visited.  One of those did include a three-mile run, however, and that felt surprisingly good.  I was concerned that running on pavement for the first time in this century might cause me some problems, but everything turned out okay.  Since my return, I have been pounding the trails and averaging over 23,000 steps per day to try and make up the difference.  I had 389,000 through yesterday, so I still have to average 21,000 for the remainder of the month to achieve my goal.  Then…Sunday morning happened.

“Why are you reading about finding blood in your urine?” Miggie asked, looking over my shoulder as I perused WebMD.

“Because I had quite a bit of blood in my urine when I went to the bathroom at breakfast this morning,” I said.

She was very concerned…and so was I, quite frankly.  I’ve had several bouts with kidney stones over the years and my first thought is that I was about to have another attack.  I had no corresponding back pain, however, and so I was reading on worrying about all the other possibilities.  I had gathered a sample and planned to take it with me for a doctor’s visit the next day…provided I could get one.  Regardless, I headed out for my seven-mile hike and 23,000 steps for the day.

I called by family doctor, a Cleveland Clinic MD, and went on hold for the obligatory ten minutes.  Once connected to the appointment desk, I explained my condition, but admitted it was much clearer this morning.

“It’s kind of rust-colored now, but I saved a sample from yesterday, which was full of blood,” I concluded.

“I will pass this along to the doctor’s office and someone will call you,” she said.

And that was the last I heard.  Since I am also waiting for a call from my heart doc with the results of my wearing the heart monitor for thirty days following surgery (that was several months ago), I’m not too hopeful about receiving a call.  I guess blood in urine is not enough of an emergency to return a call, but I think I’ll follow up today.  It may happen to them all the time, but it’s the first time for me and I’d like some answers…
Hike: 60 minutes.
Training Heart Rate:  75 bpm.
Calories burned: 350.
Bonus: 23,000 steps.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Tuesday, November 7, 2017
You can always tell when someone has no clue about the difficulty of a job when they set you up to do it without asking you first.

“Home Depot will be delivering the new washer and drier on Monday and I figured you could hook them up.  Oh…and I told them not to worry about hauling the old ones out because I figured you could do that, too.  It would have cost us $30 for them to do it!” the Director told me.

Now bear in mind these old units are in a basement with narrow stairs and two doors leading to the outside.  The machines would have to come up those stairs and make an immediate turn on a small landing.  Two doors would have to be removed.  Another person would have to be employed to help lift the load up and out.  I would have to then load them both onto a truck and drive them somewhere since we do not have curb side waste removal.  All these things are known by the person asking the question, though I highly doubt she’s ever picked up a washing machine and tried to drag it up some stairs…without a refrigerator dolly (or with one).

I’m no shrinking violet when it comes too hard – or risky – work, but sometimes you need to push back.  I laid out all the reasons I’d just stated and said, “…and $30 would be a hell of a bargain compared to what it would cost us to remove them.”

She considered this for several moments…I’m thinking the math would be about $250 for me to move it in time, money, extra person and gas…but she considered a couple of more moments before agreeing with my line of thinking.  Sometimes I just want to scream ‘trust me to make these HUGE executive decisions!’  Ah well…I’m just a man, after all.

I brought Mimi over to see the new place.  We went to dinner at Fisher’s where I ordered the ribs, but skipped dessert.  After dropping her off back in Gates Mills and driving home, I noticed I was still 3,000 steps short of my daily 20,000 goal.  This would not do.

It was biting cold outside, but Dakota and I when on a 2-mile hike to make up the difference.  No…not a workout and those have been few and far between lately, but I continue to eat mostly Paleo and the extra steps seem to be helping me drop a couple of pounds.  After the latest round of home improvements are complete and I have my cycling trainer set up in my Man Cave, I think I will get my riding mojo back in high gear and have a good winter of conditioning. 

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

I want to know why?

Monday, November 6, 2017

Dale ‘Greybeard’ Sanders broke a 13-year old record for oldest man to hike the entire Appalachian Trail in a single year in 2017.  He is 82.  And it’s not the first impressive, physical thing he has done.  In 2015, he became the oldest person to paddle the 2,300 miles of the Mississippi River.  In reading up on him, it became clear that he has spent his entire life physically active and constantly challenging himself and his body to do amazing feats.    His next endeavor will be to paddle the length of the Missouri River – a 3,800 mile quest.

Why?  What’s the point?  Couldn’t you just hike, bike, or paddle around the neighborhood every day and be equally as fit?  Of course you could.  So why does Dale do these things and more importantly to no one else but me, why do I want to do them?  I mean I really don’t know!

I had mentioned bragging rights a couple of days ago and in the context that hiking the Pacific Crest Trail just to brag about it was not nearly a good enough reason – or one that would get you to the finish line.  This written by an author who had hiked the Triple Crown of long-distance, American trails and was advising others on how to do any one of the three if that was their plan.  And it’s not the only reason I want to do it, though I am a bit of and ego maniac, I am just struggling with what goes on in my brain that makes me even think about doing it.

I think I may be looking for the thing to define myself and my existence.  For many decades now, I’ve been that fitness kook guy, always trying to do something no one else is doing.  I started on that path when I realized at an early age I was no more than an average athlete.  I didn’t hit a ball well, sink baskets with any regularity, or run particularly fast.  When I played, I won more than I lost, but not by much.  I was never going to beat those more gifted…or determined…or both.  Nope.  I could, however, go longer or do things no one else was doing and therefore be the best at it.

Am I still doing that?  I mean Tour Ohio was something I invented and then did.  Riding the perimeter of the state on a bike, kayaking some river from source to mouth and then hiking the Ohio/Erie Canal Towpath hadn’t been done so I tried doing it.  It was challenging…and fun…and something to build upon.

As I head into retirement, I know I need to stay busy…and active.  I do like to write and I love to inspire others and so if I can do inspirational things and then write about them so that someone will actually read them and act – well – that’s a pretty good thing.  At least I think it is.  In any event, I will continue to ponder why I do what I do and report back.  In the meantime, I hiked another three miles through the results of an overnight storm that blew down 25 trees on my trail.  That’s a lot of climbing over, under and around debris for me…and for Dakota.  It was a hell of a storm.  I pushed myself to 23,000 steps for the day and continued through six days well ahead of my goal of 20,000 a day for the month of November.  I have a long weekend coming up that will challenge the average though.  I will be driving to Georgia on Thursday to see Jack and then back on Sunday.  I see a few more 30,000-step days to make up for what I will miss.  Poor feet…
Hike: 60 minutes.
Training Heart Rate:  75 bpm.
Calories burned: 350.
Bonus: 23,000 steps.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Lots and lots of steps...

Sunday, November 5, 2017
First…I managed over 25,000 steps on Friday because, well, because I can and then Saturday it was over to Mimi’s to see what needed to be done.  I knew that the landscaping crew had cut the acre of grass in front of her house, but she calls it ‘the field’ and doesn’t have anything else done to it.  This time, though, the grass had been too tall and the clumps were laying heavily on the lawn.

“I don’t want you to kill yourself out there.  I know how hard raking that damp grass is,” she said.

Well…it is a bitch, but rather than drag it the length of the Yellow Brick Road, I decided instead to wheelbarrow it to the tree line to the sides of the property.  Excellent decision.  By the time I’d raked the leaves and grass and gathered it all for deposit, I’d managed 23,000 steps.  Twenty-five would be a snap since I had the rest of the afternoon, but I was thinking thirty – something I’d only done two other times since Christmas when I’d received my Fitbit.

Miggie was supposed to meet me at Horseshoe Pond, but she was tired from cleaning a house all morning with her mom so Dakota and I plowed on to 30,000 steps alone.  Between that and the heavy raking, I was ready to collapse for the evening when I arrived home.

I ate the Paleo Salad I’d made on Friday for dinner with thoughts of the fat I must have lost from a good, hard day.

Sunday was not quite as productive.  I did get up and paint first thing, but after a sausage omelet, I went to Home Depot to pick out supplies I would need for three building projects I was doing.  Once home, I got the notion that some dead pine trees in the yard needed to come down.  As I began cutting with no plan for where the pieces would end up, it dawned on me that I was surrounded by a national park full of dead trees that had fallen and were decomposing for the good of the earth and that my trees should join this circle of life.  Problem was, I needed to drag them the length of a football field to the tree line beyond…and they were heavy.  I grabbed a long strap normally used to attach a kayak to my roof, looped it around the base of each tree and one-by-one pulled them like a draft horse across the field.  My legs and lungs were screaming by the time I completed the fourth and final pull, but my Fitbit said only 9,000 steps.

Sweating, exhausted and filthy, I made my way to the porch where I announced to Miggie that I wanted to go for a hike.

“But you’ve been working pretty hard.  Don’t you want to take it easy?”

Fair question…and yes, I did want to take it easy.  But that wouldn’t be the ‘cowboy’ way and besides, I’d just read an article about an 82-year old man, the oldest ever, who had completed the Appalachian Trail in one year.  I had a lot of conditioning to do over the next two years and pushing my body when it was pleading for rest was one of the best ways to get ready.  I headed out with an umbrella in hand for a 4-mile hike.

So…thunder, lightning and rain accompanied me.  My Fitbit was acting up and not recording steps, but I did manage to push it over 20,000 by the end of the hike.  I plopped at the kitchen table for dinner after a shower to eat and write up construction plans for shelving and a closet before collapsing in my chair to read more about the Pacific Crest Trail.  God help me on that trip…
Hike: 90 minutes.
Training Heart Rate:  75 bpm.
Calories burned: 550.
Bonus: 20,000 steps.

Friday, November 3, 2017

Walking in the dark...

Thursday, November 2, 2017
So the rains that weren’t supposed to be continued, though it did warm up into the 60’s.  After doing some more painting in the house on a project that I’ve vowed to finish this weekend, I put Dakota on a leash and headed out the door for a new hike I’d mapped out.  Yes…I have over a hundred miles of towpath at my disposal and never have to set foot on a road to access or use it.  However, it is populated with hikers, joggers, and cyclists and with Dakota on a leash this can all be problematic so I avoid it.  I have ridden on a road that dead ends into a beautifully rehabbed covered bridge, now open only to foot traffic and so I took a trail to this road and walked it for over a mile.  It winds through the Park with a limited number of homes off of it and, therefore, very little vehicle traffic.  I had three cars pass me during the walk and each waved and smiled as they went by respectfully slowly.  The trees on both sides pushed up against the road with their radiant fall colors and the silence was nearly complete.  I made my way to the bridge where I picked up a trail that led back to the towpath and to my house.  It was the best and most peaceful walk I’ve had since moving to the Cuyahoga Valley National Park and reminded me that you can find beauty and solace in non-traditional hikes if you’re looking.

I had purchased a head lamp for Miggie in hopes that she would come out on some hikes after dark.  She tried it on and we headed for the towpath after dinner in total darkness.  This doesn’t bother me in the least; the moon will illuminate the trail well enough to see where I’m going and since there are no roots, rocks or other obstructions over which I might trip, I feel entirely comfortable.  Miggie, on the other hand, does not like the dark and I found out just how much as we walked along.

“I’m freaking out!  Let me hold your hand!” she said.

I accommodated and asked her what made her feel so unsafe with me right there.  She explained how, as a five-year old on Halloween, three older teens had stopped her and stolen her candy.  She had been walking alone in the dark then and thinks maybe that’s why she still has the fear today. 

We were lucky enough to have heard several coyotes yipping and howling as we walked (I liked it, anyway) and as we approached the path that leads to our home from the towpath, I noticed several pairs of eyes glowing in the dark just inside the tree line.

“See those eyes?” I said as I pointed.

She saw them and wasn’t too pleased.  I moved closer expecting coyotes, but found a mother cat and three kittens instead.  She anxiously steered me towards our street and the streetlights illuminating the remainder of our hike.

So…probably won’t have Miggie’s company on parts of the Pacific Crest Trail.  I will try to convince her to be part of a support team for resupply, though.  Daylight savings time is ending and I think I’ll be doing a lot of hiking in the dark for some time.
Hike: 90 minutes.
Training Heart Rate:  75 bpm.
Calories burned: 550.
Bonus: 25,000 steps.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Astros win...

Wednesday, November 1, 2017
“…and it should hit the low 60’s with some sunshine later today here in Cleveland,” the radio announced on my drive to work yesterday morning.

Good.  I’m already sick of colder weather and when you add the rain, I don’t want to even leave the house.  I was anxious to get out and do a workout after work in weather more attuned to the season.

Well…they lied again.  Like Charlie Brown lining up the kick with Lucy holding before yanking it away at the last second so he would fall on his butt again, I was sure this time the report was right.  Forties and rain as I drove home.  I mean – really?  That’s not even close.  If I missed by that much when I was driving the tractor at the farm, I’d run over a car or two parked nearby…and then they’d fire me!  Ah well…Cleveland weather.

I painted for a couple of hours waiting for the rains to stop, but they never did.  Not even Dakota wanted to go out.  I resigned myself to not having 20,000 steps on the first day of the new month and picked up and finished my book about the hiker on the Continental Divide.

He spent his final days of his six-month trek plowing through snow and weather below zero in the mountains of Montana and into Glacier National Park.  His final night in the high country found him face to face with his first, and only, Grizzly Bear.  Fortunately, it walked away instead of eating him and he was able to complete the walk the next day.  Nothing I read about his adventures made me inclined to walk the Continental Divide.  He did his hike in 1986 and much has changed in those thirty years to make it a more defined trail, but I’m still not biting.  I can’t get the snow and rain out of my head, though.  I’m sure I’ll be spending countless days and nights in both in two summers.

The Houston Astros are World Series champs for the first time in franchise history – which began for them as the Houston Colt 45’s in 1962.  Well…whoopee doo for them.  Our last World Series win, the longest drought in Major League Baseball, will be seventy years this summer.  We had the best team in baseball this year and the best Indians squad ever and still didn’t win.  Can I live long enough to see it happen?  What is the longest a human ever lived?  I’ve read stuff about Moses and other Bible stars making to 900+ years, so maybe there is hope.  God help me and all Indians fans if the weather man starts to predict us winning…

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

582,483 steps for the month...but who's counting

Tuesday, October 31, 2017
Halloween.  The day after Jim died in 2010.  That day in 2010 was, to that time, the worst of my life.  I really had forgotten the date and instead chose to remember my brother and celebrate his life on his birthday – October 2nd.  This time however, I was reminded by one of the staff at the Farm who was particularly fond of him.  She asked me how I was doing, thinking that I would be remembering Jim and I told her how I chose to forget that day. 

“That’s probably a much healthier way to remember him,” she said.

And it was.  In fact, Mitch, who knew Jim well and worked with me, agreed that we should go out to the burn pile, get it started up, and have our lunches out there in his memory.  He loved making fires you could see from outer space and so it would be an excellent testament.

Anyway, I’ve been pushing myself to get in 20,000 steps every day and was pretty sure I had over half a million for the month.  I had a small window of opportunity before I was supposed to meet Miggie at Fisher’s for a rib dinner.  We’d have to hurry through that and get home in time for trick or treaters at 6:30.  Kathy had texted me about hiking, so I picked her up and with Dakota in the back seat, drove to Horseshoe Pond.  We were walking on Tree Farm Trail when I mentioned how John had commented on the neat rows of pine trees through which we were passing.  He had thought they had just grown that way, but I reminded him we were walking on property adjacent to a Christmas tree farm, probably land donated by them to the park and that the neat, perfectly spaced rows of pine trees were not an act of God, but planted many years ago by some tree farmer.

“Nope…I think he’s right,” she said.

I stopped her and pointed at the rows to the left and right of the trail and said, “you think that these rows of trees twelve feet apart and in perfect columns for the next 100 yards just happened this way?”

“Sure.  Why not?”

This logical question was hard for my brain and tongue to get around.

“BECAUSE…THEY…DIDN’T!” I said.

As perfectly a logical answer.

We agreed to disagree…agreeably, though I reminded her, “your life would be better if you’d simply accept that because I’m a man, I’m right.”  She wasn’t buying that, either.

I finished the hike with 20,000 steps and would continue to pile them on throughout the Halloween evening.  I built a fire in my mobile, metal fire pit and had several of the neighbors over to sit in my driveway and hand out candy to the kids on a very crisp fall evening.  A hike over to the community center netted me some candied apples from the owners of the development and over 23,000 steps.  Not a workout, but not a bad day either.  I went to the bother of totaling my steps on my Fitbit for the month and was pleased to see I had 582,483 for the month.  I’m starting to think in terms of the 5 million steps I will have to take to complete the Pacific Crest Trail in a five-month period of time, so I am at least half way to the monthly total I will have to achieve.  Almost none of it was with a loaded pack, though…

Hike: 60 minutes.
Training Heart Rate:  75 bpm.
Calories burned: 350.
Bonus: 23,000 steps.