Jingle Bell Thanksgiving

Did the 5 K in the Jingle Bell Run again last Sunday, with the usual results.  I was last in my age group – no surprise there – and a few seconds slower than last year.  But it was a good run nonetheless. Great weather, a large crowd, and it felt like I gave it my all, with no aches or pains.  I came in number 303 of 411 runners.

My best race of the year was back in September, in the Trot With the Troops. Almost two minutes faster than my earlier record, and three minutes faster than this week. Won my age group too, although there were only two of us in the male 60-64 category.

Haven’t done a lot of running since then, once or twice a week at most, and I skipped some weeks entirely. Now I’m going to cut back even more as the cold weather approaches, and spend more time in the gym.

In the spring and summer I did a lot more barefoot running than the previous two years. Long slow jogs of 6 to 10 K. I’m wearing my Vibram toe shoes for about half my runs, and the Minimus Zeros from New Balance for sprints and races. This was the first year in decades that I didn’t suffer from knee pain. I really enjoy running shoeless and would do so in a race if a lot of others were doing the same.

I did however develop an annoying small muscle tear (or stress fracture?) in my left foot, on the inside just in front of the ankle, that I suspect was the result of increasing my mileage too fast.  It happened a week before the September race. I took that week off, and then set my personal best. Afterwards the pain came back, diminished but still noticeable. It disappeared around the beginning of November.

I’m continuing with my ketogenic diet, although I do carb up before races.  I’m four pounds lighter than last year, at 167.  In August I was down to 158 for a few days, somewhat dehydrated from all that running. After every race I find myself putting on a few pounds and this week was no different. Next year I’m going to try something different, carb loading with Superstarch, a new energy drink that doesn’t spike insulin levels so much.

All in all, I haven’t felt this healthy in a very long time. The days of being over 230 pounds seem like an old nightmare.  Just a few years ago I was being poked and prodded by a gaggle of physicians.  My gp suspected I had cancer, my cardiologist said it looked like a heart attack. I thought I’d had a stroke, and the initial blood work indicated severe muscle death somewhere in my body.

Fortunately it was none of those. My heart calmed down. Subsequent tests and scans came back negative. That mass on my left adrenal was benign.

Most likely I’d had a bleeding ulcer, the result of too much drinking and some stupid recreational drug use, during a moment of despair as my sister was dying of lung cancer.  Could have been a bit of post traumatic stress as well, after losing so many friends and lovers to AIDS.

Besides the dieting and exercise, I believe I owe my current well being to a book, A Guide to the Good Life, The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy, by William B. Irvine. Heard him interviewed on Ideas, and decided to give stoicism a try.  Fits me.

So I’m happy and joyful, on this American Thanksgiving.  Hope you are too.

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