Running In The Richmond Half-Marathon / Jogging And Taking Photos Too

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Today there was a marathon, half-marathon and 8k race here in Richmond so there were tons of folks downtown and lots of photo ops. I ran in the half-marathon for the second year and decided to take the little point and shoot I use for backpacking to, hopefully, distract my senses from the cries of muscles and old bones. And it worked! Up to a point. I ran most of the way and knocked almost an hour off my previous time. I’m at least 20 pounds lighter this year and using better equipment, too. The weather was perfect as well.

So I decided to edit the photos and add captions to each of them. Hopefully, this will make them a little more interesting. Betsy met me at the 8 mile mark and also took some photos which I have identified. They added thousands of spots to the half-marathon this year. It is a very, very popular race. And it’s challenging too. Plus, you get to run next to some superhuman athletes, if only for a few moments, as the blow past on their way to incredible times in the marathon.

So here are the photos and now I’m going to relax and watch some college football. Zachary called me yesterday and told us he is going to be part of the color guard at the Baltimore Ravens game tomorrow in Baltimore. So we need to tune in to that and see him in his handsome uniform holding the flag. He finally made it to the pros and no one laid a scratch on him!

I hope everyone has a great weekend and don’t forget to get out and walk!

From Walking To Jogging / A Different Perspective On Aging

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I decided to run this morning. It was so wonderfully cool and dry out there. I’ve been walking for over a year now and generally follow a route through our neighborhood for 6, 8 or even 10 miles. But I have a dream. I would like to compete in a half-marathon and do it in 12 minute miles.

For the past year I’ve generally walked 16 or 17 minute miles. If you walk around you can usually go three or four miles in an hour. So that’s what I did. I was trying to shed fat. And I did that. But, something else happened as well. About six or seven months ago I was down at the beach doing this on the boardwalk when I saw an older guy doing the same thing. Except that he was jogging. He was several years older than me. Probably he was 70 years old although you can be fooled easily when trying to estimate the ages of some of these oldsters.

He was dressed only in a pair of running shorts and his skin glistened with sweat. He was very thin. And I thought. . . he looks so cool. He looks like something a sixteenth century Renaissance painter would produce. He looks like a saint. And he was jogged a long, long ways.

This guy has been a bright image in my memory for many months now. And I want to do what he is (hopefully) doing. I want to jog a long ways down the road. I want to run a half-marathon in about two and a half hours. I did it in 3.4 hours last November after walking for just a few months. And it took several days to recover. This year should be better. And next year too. I’m not concerned about how long it takes. My major interest is to discover how one can blunt the aging process with daily exercise (walking).

So today I jogged on the flat surfaces or when I was going downhill. I walked pretty fast the rest of the time. And I didn’t push it. It’s all about having a relaxed mind and body. It’s all about allowing this process to happen naturally….in “good time” as the old expression goes. And I finished 8 miles six minutes under 2 hours. That’s almost 8 fourteen minute miles.

I felt great afterwards. It’s important to feel good when you are done for the longevity of the project. I’m not trying to suffer out there. I’m trying to understand my body and teach my mind how to work with it.

This is how I intend to deal with the aging process. This is how I intend to “grow old”.

It makes that process, somehow, a lot more interesting.



A year ago. . .

Mt. Rogers And The AT / Learning To Backpack And Survive / The Central VA Trailblazers In Action

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So I am back home today after traveling to SW Virginia and backpacking in the Mt. Rogers area. There are some real challenges associated with doing this type of thing starting with the weather and we had a little of everything (except snow) on this trip.

It was good getting away from civilization for a little while. Especially the politics. Unfortunately, it’s still going on now! We have the second convention in two weeks AND they are still talking about Clint Eastwood talking to the empty chair!

So what happened on the trip? We spent about six hours on the road and stopped to dine in Wytheville at an unusual placed called The Log House 1776 Restaurant.   If you read the reviews you can see there is some dissension among the guests because it can take awhile to be served.  We didn’t have too much of a problem and they invited us to tour the place.  So I took a bunch of photos and I think you will see this is not your Applebee’s experience.  The beer is served in heavy glass mugs with a nice frosting and the food was good.  Enough said.

We hiked a mile or two the first day and set up camp without too much of a problem.  I found a nice spot off aways near a stream that made a wonderful sound all night long and provided a good water source.  The MSR water filter quickly did its job and a young couple with a happy child and two cool-looking dogs showed up so I didn’t get too lonely (more pics!).
// Widgets 

The next day, Sunday, was the real challenge because we planned to hike six miles to the next campsite near the top of Mt. Rogers, the highest peak in Virginia. This was my first backpacking experience and I took too much stuff! My backpack weighed around 38 pounds and this is too much for somebody who hasn’t developed the particular muscles you need to go up the side of a mountain! But, we all made it, thankfully, without anyone having too much of a problem. I did get a large blister and Karl, our thoughtful and experienced leader, helped me bandage it. Karl also made sure none of us got lost. At one point he and I were hiking along the horse trail when a guy came up on a dirt bike and started talking to me. Karl was about a hundred yards ahead and I stepped off the trail to let him pass. But he stopped and started talking to me. I thought it was idle chit-chat so I politely told him I needed to go because without Karl I was lost in the woods. And I started walking again. He revved up his motorized beast and went on by but stopped again and started talking to Karl who asked him some pertinent questions. It was only then that I realized he was the park ranger and I had terminated our interview. Whoops! But he was very helpful in any case, as it turned out we were slightly off our trail and needed to move in a different direction.

I was moving slowly and some of the younger members of the group had moved ahead earlier in the day. But we all reunited at the campsite near the summit of Mt. Rogers. It was blessed relief to set up the tent, have something to eat and relax  “indoors”.  I was doing this, listening to the murmur of my fellow campers around the campfire when a cold front moved in and a veritable deluge suddenly sent them all scampering to their tents. The temperature plummeted in a matter of a few minutes and, for the first time this season, it actually felt good to burrow in the sleeping bag and fall into a deep sleep for a few hours. My experience is that you do not sleep through the night in this type of situation but it really is not an issue. As long as you are warm and dry it is pleasant to lay there and listen to the sounds of the night. Wind and rain interact with the tent fabric and the trees. You find yourself on the edge of something that is quite wild and feel part of it. It is an adventure. One of our group talked about her recent experience solo hiking on the AT. She was resting in her tent at night when a bear came visiting, wandered around the site making little bear noises. She didn’t realize they were bear noises until later when she looked them up on Youtube. But she suspected it was a bear and I can imagine some of the feelings she was having on her first experience alone in the woods.

We visited with some wild cattle and ponies (more pics!) this trip but no bears. Karl, our intrepid group leader, recently saw a bear close up on the AT. It wandered off in a different direction and posed no threat. Bears apparently are quite cautious about humans and not, in general, a threat. You don’t want to press your luck, however, as a recent photographer did up in Alaska with a grizzly. He got much too close for too long watching the humongous beast eating some vegetation and taking his last photos on this earth. He did not realize, apparently, that bears, as do we all, have their salad before the main course.

The next day we hiked four miles. I was delighted when Karl pointed out a short ways in the distance and below us the parking lot and civilization. I felt for a few moments a feeling of accomplishment along with a desire for a soft bed, a refrigerator down the hall, and a hot shower. All these things, often taken for granted, are more appreciated as I sit here at home. But the media circus I did not miss at all and I’m now missing the long views of the mountains and valleys, the beautiful mist and the gentle gaze of the ponies who live there always and have accepted, more than I can even imagine, all the changing conditions that nature throws at them.


Thanks to Lindsey Borgsmiller for this photo!

I will return, hopefully soon, however, after I have disengaged myself from a few more of the trappings of this world, and shaved the backpack weight by at least thirteen pounds. There were things I brought up there that I never touched. They won’t be going again. You can say “I might need this” but you absolutely need to avoid accidents and your odds are not good with an overweight pack. It’s all about the odds, really. Sure I may use a tent repair kit or have an opportunity to take some cool videos but what if I lose my balance and sprain an ankle miles from help? Do I need extra macaroni and cheese? No. Maybe I will be hungry but I can make it back to the car. Your priorities are quickly adjusted as you labor, carrying so many things up a steep incline. And you don’t want to interrupt the outdoor experience of others as well! People invest a great deal of time, energy, expense and thoughtful planning to do these things. May I never slow them down!

So it’s back to daily walks, working on certain muscle groups that have been complaining the past few days, and waiting for the next opportunity to experience a new perspective on life, build relationships with like-minded individuals of all ages, and capture it all on film. Here are some photos, by the way. Some of them were taken from the car on the way out there and back. We can see here a world that is slowly dying. Old farm buildings   hold out against the ravages of time and the corporate world. And then, a few photos of a world that has always been here and will continue to go on long after we and our ways have passed. I’m sorry there aren’t more of them but I was busy trying to survive on the trail. Maybe next time.

Virginia Beach Volleyball / East Coast Surfing Championship

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I was down at Virginia Beach this past weekend and decided to check out the surfers and the volleyball players.  For starters the placed was packed.  I’ve never seen it so crowded due, no doubt, to the fact that there were skate boarding and sand football areas set up as well as the other sports activities.

Watching people on the boardwalk was fascinating too.  We are very, very close to the point where folks just walk around in their birthday suits around here.  And this is Virginia!  I cannot imagine what it must be like in, say, Miami, or Sand Diego.

It doesn’t bother me one way or the other since I’m over sixty and misplaced my libido on the train sometime ago.  They say you start losing testosterone after forty and so everybody wants to sell you some these days!  One of the sales pitches is that it somehow causes us to lose weight (as well as regain a Tarzan-like appetite for Jane).

I’m sorry but it’s just too much trouble and expense.  Walk every day, lose weight and I’ll throw in a nice cholesterol drop for free.   Jane can go shopping with all the money you save and you can avoid a lot more trouble down the road.

b5 (3)

A Hiking Detour / Walking Away From Moods

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Well, I’m not in the greatest mood this morning.  I got an email from George who was the tail gunner on our hike last weekend and he says I shouldn’t do the hike this weekend.  I’m having too much of a problem going uphill.  SOB!  No, not George, he’s a very nice person.  It’s shortness of breath.  Everything else is copacetic.  But there is a better hike coming up in September that only has 1000 feet of elevation (this one has 2000 feet) and it goes up to the highest peak in Virginia, Mr. Rogers.  Oh wait, that’s Mt. Rogers.

So I went out this morning and walking 8 miles to deal with the disappointment and frustration over this setback.  My timing sucks.  I should have been doing this 20 years ago but I wasn’t in the right place back then.  The less said about that the better.

It may all have to do with electrolytes and we will be exploring that in the next six weeks.  I’m going to walk around here with a pack and drink lots of water mixed with these Nuun tablets. We will focus on the steep hills and see what happens.

I really am an angry, old man it seems and walking seems to help.  Moods don’t help us much.  They need to be destroyed, driven into the ground.  Then we can enjoy the sparkling clarity of reason as well as love, peace and understanding. 

Here’s a photo of a young man doing the best thing for his health and peace of mind.


Restless Legs Of Richmond / Reaching Out / Being Bold

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Alright. It’s time to write another post. I’ve been busy lately doing different things. There is the walking every morning for about 2.5 hours. That’s a given. And then there are these Meetup groups. Get your sorry butt out of the house and do something! These things are sprouting like weeds everywhere in the US and they are the next step when it comes to social networking. Look into my eyes! That’s right, we are talking about person to person contact. Social gatherings. And the nice thing (it seems to me) is that people have developed a certain level of social intercourse, ie manners, on FB (or wherever) so when you are sitting around the table (or hiking up the side of a mountain) with a group of strangers it’s all pretty civil, nice even.

It’s not like high school in other words. So I’ve been doing that and then, one day recently, decided to start a Meetup group that will focus on walking and RLS (Restless Legs Syndrome), my two major deals. Because I’ve reached a good point regarding “the syndrome” and realize it can be stabilized and subdued with just a few dedicated steps.


And this one will continue to press forward. Coming up soon there’s a Meetup with the Central VA Trailblazers up in the Shenandoah National Park. It includes an 11 mile hike with a large pack and a lot of elevation that will be a real challenge. I hope to take some photos. Hopefully this adventure will turn out well for all of us.

Sports And Cabers / Photo Friday

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The Photo Friday Challenge this week is “Sports”.  So let’s think about sports for a few seconds.  How many different sports do you think there are in the world?  The answer is over 8000 according to  There are around 3000 entries in the World Sports Encyclopedia.  The first entry is for AIZKOLARIS, a basq. lumberjack competition that involves chopping large logs with an axe!


I have a photo of something that is at least superficially similar involving throwing logs in an open field.  The poles are called cabers. This is a Scottish sport and the guys like to wear kilts while throwing wood around so it’s all very unusual in this part of the world.

And entertaining.  We went to a [[wiki:Caber toss]] competition awhile back and had a good time.


You want to be careful if you are just starting out tossing cabers however. Practicing in the backyard could result in some damage to your roof or your neighbor’s fence. Where do you get a caber? Seems like there are quite a few of them lying around due to the recent storms that have led to power outages across Virginia. So if you see a guy walking down the street in a kilt he’s probably looking for cabers. / Central Va Trailblazers/ Exercise For Body, Mind And Soul

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I recently discovered and signed up with several groups here in Richmond, Virginia. Meetup offers some useful guidelines for groups and activities in many different areas. My interests center around walking, exercise, being more sociable and photography. And so, last night I went downtown to join other members of Central Virginia Trailblazers on an introductory “icebreaker” 4.5 mile hike along the James River and over several bridges connecting the north and south banks.

And it was a lot of fun! The folks were friendly, our guide, Sandra, was excellent and the light was great for photos as the sun slowly retreated to the horizon around the seven to eight o’clock hours.

The walking I’ve done since last summer made the physical effort a breeze and it was more a chance to work on people skills since I’m a fairly introverted individual. We discussed future trips, as well, which will probably include more demanding hikes, longer and more elevated, as well as camping overnight.

That should be interesting! Stay tuned as the blogger pursues his retirement agenda. Betsy is very supportive of this which I truly appreciate. Hopefully she will want to participate at some point. Here are some photos from the hike.

The Richmond Squirrels / Date Night And Nuts / We Miss You Chipper

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Betsy and I went downtown last night to see a baseball game. We have AA baseball here in Richmond at an old stadium that is euphemistically called The Diamond. The previous team, a AAA group just below the Atlanta Braves, moved out after the godfathers downtown refused to build them a new park. I can remember seeing a game where Chipper Jones, Javez Lopez and the first baseman (whose name escapes me at this moment) hit home runs in the final inning to pull the game out of the fire. All three were called up to the Braves and have had great careers.



Those were good times. Now we have games between innings that involve kids hitting interns on the head with nerf mallets and lots of dancing. Occasionally baseball breaks out. Last night nobody was able to reach the fence with a fly ball and the pitcher dropped an underhand throw from the first baseman when he covered the bag.



But we won, 4-1! Our Richmond Squirrels pulled one out of the nut nest (or wherever they put it). Who did they play? I’m not sure. It might have been a team from New Jersey. Snooki wasn’t around unless one of these “girls” smoothing over the infield during the seventh inning stretch was her.

I took some photos of folks in our area over by left field. A young man with an impressive T-shirt and some cool sunglasses. And here’s the vendor with some awesome hair trying to make a buck or two. I’m still trying to figure out if this is a hair piece, his real hair or a hat. In any case, points for originality!



In the end it was a relaxing evening and a nice date. You can’t put down family entertainment although we can, and do, miss Chipper Jones and Javez Lopez.


From Russia With Love / Adventures While Walking/ Rumi / Edith Armstrong

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Why do you stay in prison when the door is so wide open? ~[[wiki:Rumi]]

I keep the telephone of my mind open to peace, harmony, health, love and abundance. Then, whenever doubt, anxiety or fear try to call me, they keep getting a busy signal – and soon they’ll forget my number. ~Edith Armstrong

I was doing the daily walk in our neighborhood yesterday when an attractive, young woman came around the corner about 200 feet down the road. She was walking her dog and wearing a pair of shorts that were cut off at the top of the leg (or thereabouts). Suddenly she bent over to tie her shoe and her butt was pointed in my direction for at least a minute while I continued walking in her direction trying not to look.

The night before, as it happened, I was watching this very cool show on The Animal Planet about the wilds of Russia called, not surprisingly, Wild Russia. And I had been particularly impressed by these mountain goats with four foot horns that run around trying to mate with the little female goats. It’s just a wild, free-for-all with goats darting off in different directions. And there’s really no dating involved.

So, for some reason, this flashed through my mind, when this girl was tying her shoe. But then the strangest thing happened. She stood up, turned in my direction as she started walking away, and smiled broadly. And I thought, “Man, things really haven’t changed all that much. From Russian With Love, baby.” Then I realized she was probably just happy to be outside on a nice day with her dog and friendly as well.

But she went up one road and as I reached the corner I went in the other direction. Why? Because I ain’t no mountain goat.  And, (to bring it back to our Day One: phototime challenge/Open . . .

Be open-minded, but not so open-minded that your brains fall out. ~Stephen A. Kallis, Jr.

Football Quotes / BCA Championship Bowl Crystal / Crystal Mess

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Football combines the two worst things about America: it is violence punctuated by committee meetings. ~George F. Will

College football is a sport that bears the same relation to education that bullfighting does to agriculture. ~Elbert Hubbard

Men are clinging to football on a level we aren’t even aware of. For centuries, we ruled everything, and now, in the last ten minutes, there are all these incursions by women. It’s our Alamo. ~Tony Kornheiser

Put a young man and his family together with football and crystal in Alabama and what do you have? Some Crystal Mess! ~ Davidlind


Oops! Alabama’s BCS championship trophy is destroyed

The crystal football Alabama won for beating LSU in the BCS championship game in January was shattered when it was accidentally knocked off a display by the father of a current player.

Zachary And The Coast Guard Ceremonial Honor Guard / Tomb Of The Unknown Soldier / Jury Duty / The End Of Parenting

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It’s Monday morning, sports fans and time to move forward!  Embrace the challenges of the coming week!  Did anybody watch the Stanley Cup playoff games this past weekend?  Talk about a rowdy affair!  There were lots of fights.  Lots of closeups of guys with their front teeth missing.  And the crowds were enjoying it. 

But I was not really enjoying it.  It’s amazing to watch these guys skating so fast and playing with the puck at the same time.  But I wish they would do more of that and less of the other stuff.  Because they don’t look very graceful when they fight.   All the magic flies out the window.  Sometimes things actually degenerate into a hair pulling contest.  And who wants to see that?  Maybe if they were female wrestlers it would be alright.  Mud wrestling can be fun to watch.  At least you know, up front, what you are getting into. 

I hate ending sentences with prepositions.  You are not supposed to do it.  I have failed.  Once again. 
But it’s a new week and there’s still time to make something happen.  Tomorrow I have jury duty.  And I can’t decide what to wear.  Probably a sport coat and a tie would be good.  It would show respect for the court.  Someone recently said on television that defendants are dressed by their lawyers in suits that are too big for them.  So they will look a bit less threatening I suppose.  If  I am chosen for a trial I’m ready for that one!  

Zachary paid us a visit this past weekend.  Today he is going to participate in a ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.  A few weeks ago he was involved in a ceremony where President Obama strolled by (more prepositions durnit!).   He also spent some time training last week in the hangar where Air Force One is located.  So he’s getting around!  And he’s growing up.  I’ve noticed he doesn’t give me a lot of crap when I say something he doesn’t like.  He just keeps on going down the road as they say. 

He doesn’t leave.  I don’t mean to imply that he just gets up and marches out the door.  But, in his mind, he doesn’t dwell on my irritating statements.  He has more important things to worry about these days.  Like not screwing up in front of the President and dignitaries from around the world.
Ah, America.  You’ve gotta love it.
And I can worry about, well, my own problems.  After 38 years of being a parent (long before Zach arrived)  it seems like my official parenting duties are over!  “Over”  as in “over the hill” which is another preposition!  Ahhhh!  It’s a good feeling, I have to say.  Now, what color tie should I wear to the courthouse tomorrow?  Something really wild might be good (just to confuse them).   The problem is that I have cleaned up my act so much in the past year I’m not likely to fool them.  I got the Terry Bradshaw haircut.  But that is also the Larry David haircut.   And I often am accused by certain family members of being a Larry David clone which could not make anyone happy.  
Maybe I should wear tennis shoes and be  like Larry!    I’m actually looking forward to participating in the process.  But do they want me?  I hope so!  I have so much to contribute! 
And I’m ready to go!