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100-Mile Month

So, I did it — realized that running 3.5 yesterday and 4.5 today would give me 100 miles for the month.  And I managed to run the miles, and have a good start to 2013 with 100 miles in January.

My ultimate yearly goal is 1,000 miles of running, which requires 83-84 miles per month.  And 100 miles in January gets some mileage in the bank, mileage that I’ll be grateful for come July and August, when it’s hard to get 83-84 miles per month because of the heat — even if I go out running at 6:50 A.M., when it’s barely light, the temps will be around 72, anyway, not to mention humidity around 80%.  Some people, I know, go out running at 4:00 A.M. or 5:00 A.M., but that’s just not gonna happen in my life.

And there’s plenty of runners who do 200-mile months, even more — but once again, that’s not me, not gonna happen.  (Almost certain to get injured if I did that kind of mileage — or maybe that’s just my lazy brain telling me a lie.  Oh wait — just finished 100 miles for the month, so I can’t be too lazy.)

DRS 100-Day Challenge Shirt

DRS 100-Day Challenge Shirt

My Dead Runners Society brothers and sisters are in Day 31 of this year’s 100-day challenge, which one of our members started in 2010, beginning an ongoing tradition.  The requirement is at least 2 miles of running per day for the first 100 days of the year.  I did it in 2010, somewhat reluctantly because of my own longstanding tradition of taking Sunday off (for rest reasons, no religious ones).  A hundred days in a row is just asking for trouble, IMHO, but my best wishes go to all who are participating — hats off to the DRS 100-Day Challengers.

BTW, if you look at the captions on the picture, “Clearly Dead,” “Nearly Dead,” and “Sincerely Dead,” maybe you’ll remember the Munchkins’ song in The Wizard of Oz.  After the Munchkin coroner examines the Witch of the West on whom Dorothy has dropped a house, he determines that said with is not just “merely dead” but “clearly and sincerely dead.”  (Or does he say, “nearly dead” instead of “merely”?  Hard to tell by listening.)


Untitled Story

(No title yet, and I haven’t got very far along, but here’s what I have as of today):


As with many colleges, Cabot College had a fieldhouse. And the fieldhouse was sort of small, and tatty, and aged.

Mel Tarby met me one morning at the fieldhouse. His point was to introduce me to Arvin Blake. I guess that having strangers on campus talking to students was a no-no, but I was a track guy (had just finished 8 by 400s), and Mel was a coach, and Arvin was a stranger.

Mel introduced us, then left, and I was alone with Arvin. Who had a proposal, and what a proposal it was. I would be Gen. William Westmoreland’s bodyguard.

It was a crazy idea. Because I was young (18), because I was fit (4:40 mile), excellent reflexes, more than expert marksman,because I was terminally and absolutely stupid (no parenthetical specs here), he recruited me. And the rest was – well, let me tell you the rest.


It’s Vietnam, 1968. I almost want to stop right here. But I won’t.

The airport could have been a scene, but it was a military plane (just think very uncomfortable seats), and so there was no hoo-hah about passports or problem with languages.

I never met General Westmoreland. I saw him across the room a time or two, but I usually slept during the day because my work hours were the middle of the night. Not that there was much bodyguarding to do in the middle of the night; no, not at all – this idea of being the General’s guard was just a front for what was really going on.

Which involves Dick McNairy, from America’s Dairyland, who had been in Saigon almost a year before I got there and met him. Or rather, was assigned to him, assigned like a _____, I’m afraid.

“What do you want here?” he barked at me the first time I entered his office and saluted, “Colonel McNairy, sir!”


Running Report

Haven’t written about running\racing or cycling lately, what with writing about other things.  But 2013 is off to a good start.  As of today, I have 87 running miles for the month (and for the year), with 3 more days of running in January, which means a 100-mile month is possible.  (That’s always a goal for me, and trust me, much easier to do in January – March than in the summer months, when it’s 72 degrees at 6:30 A.M., with humidity of about 72 or more as well.)

No races coming up really fast, but soon.  The Newnan’s Lake 15k was Saturday (2 days ago), but I wasn’t trained for it.  The Trail of Payne 10k is March 16th, and I’m planning on that.

Paynes Prairie -- La Chua Trail Side

Paynes Prairie — La Chua Trail Side

I ran the first version of it 3 years ago in March 2010, and it’s a fun race — out at the beautiful Paynes Prairie, mostly on trails, possibly even a little mud (depending on the rainfall).

View from the Race Course

View from the Race Course

And there should be a local 5k at least once a month or more for the next 5-6 months.  I oughtta try one of those.  And then in May, June, and July, the Beaches Fine Arts Triathlon Series in Ponte Vedra Beach, near Jacksonville.  It’s a sprint tri — quarter-mile ocean swim, 11 miles cycling, 5k running– and I’ve done it before, looking forward to doing it again.

So that’s today’s running news.


My Literary Friend

Connected with my literary friend Bruce today.  I see him just about every week, sometimes several times, at A.A. meetings.  We used to meet for coffee every Wednesday afternoon and drive to a 5:30 meeting together, but the meeting changed location (drastically, like 11 miles), so our regular coffee date fell by the wayside.

We usually talked about fiction and poetry (I taught both during my Santa Fe College career, and Bruce is a published fiction writer, graduate of the University of Florida Creative Writing Program, and a mainstay in the Gainesville Writers Guild).  We even shared our published work and discussed it the following week.

Today Bruce told me about something (tv show? New Yorker article?) featuring Billy Collins, one of my favorite poets.  If you haven’t seen it, you MUST MUST MUST go to this link ( and watch Collins read his poem “Litany.”  He takes on, humorously, the poetic tradition of the love poem: praising the beloved with a “litany” of comparisons, and so by elaborate compliments “makiing headway,” as Collins says in his intro.   His “Litany” is, he explains, based a a previous poem, in which the poet apparently wrote a somewhat graceless and repetitive series of comparisons — which Collins says he has improved.  (“This is done out of courtesy,” he tells us.)

Billy Collins

Billy Collins

My classes were regularly treated to his poem “Introduction To Poetry,” in which students interpret a poem in various ways, not the ways in which Collins asks them to but using their own methods, finally tying the poem to a chair and beating a confession out of it.  And then there’s his poem “Taking Off Emily Dickinson’s Clothes,” in which it turns out that “the complexity of women’s undergarments in the 19th century is not to be waved away.”  After dealing with the complexity, the speaker of the poem finally (like a “polar explorer”) finds himself “sailing toward the iceberg of her nakedness.”

(Please forgive me if, in quoting from memory, I left out punctuation for line ends or changed any words.  Collins deserves better.)

On the schedule with Bruce for our next meeting is to talk about John McPhee.



I’m now back in the “real” world after my 60-day stint in Florida Recovery Center (“Where miracles happen every day!”).   This is as of last Thursday, 6 days ago.  Settled into the full routine of going to meetings daily (but not 3-4 meetings per day, as is the case in FRC, which also adds other hour-long activities, such as sessions on Meditation, Spirituality, Art Therapy, Music Therapy).  The last four always seemed time-fillers to me, though I enjoyed the Meditation hour since it was so relaxing.

St. Augustine Skyline, including Flagler College, part of the "real" world

St. Augustine Skyline, including Flagler College, part of the “real” world

My Discharge paperwork recommended 90 meetings in 90 days, which fits with my plan, regular work with a sponsor (also my plan, and enjoying working with the redoubtable Steve B); plus private therapy, which I haven’t started yet (maybe so, maybe not), IOP (which stands for Intensive Out Patient program, which I can’t afford at $800 per week), and re-connecting with my primary physician (saw her yesterday).  The Discharge paperwork also said, “Treatment Incomplete due to Financial Concerns.”

Let’s see — uh, “concerns”?  That would seem to imply that I’m “concerned” about the $10,000 per month that FRC costs, and don’t want to pay it.  The actual situation is that There. Is. No. More. Money.

Another reason my treatment is “Incomplete” is that the Florida Recovery Center docs and Treatment Team envision treatment as a 90-day-program, no exceptions.  They have data that they believe shows a better success rate for those who complete 90 days.  What I believe is that the typical patient who does 90 days is a physician or nurse who is released to a 5-year monitoring program — the monitoring, IMHO, likely accounts for the increased success rate, at least as much as the additional 30 days of treatment (which to me was getting a bit repetitive).

Anyway, so far so good — 6 meetings in 6 days, going to a 7th in about an hour, and today is Day 69 of sobriety.


Former Drunks Make Unstoppable Runners

No data points in this Salon article by Caleb Daniloff (a name I don’t know), but it does make sense on the issue of why and how former drunks can turn into excellent runners:

If you don’t want to read it all the way through, here’s a key quote:  “In fact, you’ve spent a good chunk of your bleary-eyed, morally dubious days and nights developing the perfect toolbox: single-minded focus; endurance; tolerance for mental and physical distress; prowess at spending time alone; aptitude at navigating embarrassment. You can use these tools to build a new house, rather than deepening the ditch.”

It’s hard for me to imagine that the “single-minded focus” that I used to spend on getting the next bottle and consuming it could transfer to a single-minded focus on running, but I do manage, when sober (and for the past 58 days) to run 3-6 miles a day, 6 days a week.

Here’s my executive summary:

1. Former drunks are used to spending a lot of time alone (certainly true in my case, though I get it that some people are bar drinkers).

2. And are used to\inured to discomfort (hangovers, stress, anxiety, fatigue, et.)

3. Used to setting goals (how to acquire the magic elixir, how much to use, and also how to control their drinking — for me, attempts to control never worked, at least up until now).

4. Can plod on and on repetitively.

Well, well, well.  Maybe Daniloff is on to something.  I’ll have to see — never managed to be a former drunk before.


Characteristics That Aren’t Quite Functional

In a discussion with my doctors today, Dr. Dan said that he’s been trying to reframe the Step 4 discussion (Step 4: “Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves”).   He suggested that instead of talking about “character defects” or “character flaws” (as A.A.’s “Big Book,” Alcoholics Anonymous, does), we talk about “characteristics that aren’t quite functional.”

Florida Recovery Center Housing

Florida Recovery Center Housing

The point of reframing the language that we use in talking about change is that if they’re “characteristics,” maybe they’re more readily changed than “character defects,” which sounds a bit permanent.   And also “characteristics” isn’t as negative as “character flaws.”   Re-framing the language fits with the concept that, “Addiction is what I have; it isn’t who I am.”

Made me think, in an afternoon meeting during which a friend presented some Step 4 resentments and “characteristics,” that maybe there’s some rehabilitative possibilities, to wit:

—  “low self-esteem” might be changed to “humility.”

—  “self-centeredness” or “selfishness” might be changed to “self-nurturing.”

—  “judgmental” could become “evaluative.”

—  “manipulative” might be changed to “well-organized.”

Just some thoughts here; need to ponder and process some more, run it by a few others.


Bringing in the New Year

Bringing in the New Year at home, where we’ve been since about 7:30 or so.  Picked up our friend Sam, who’s been battling depression lately — clinical, but also situational, having had a tough Christmas, estranged from his kids as he is.  We went to Copper Monkey, a restaurant near University of Florida campus, that has $3 burgers on Monday nights, where Sam and I have a more or less standing date.  But this time Pam was able to come along, being on vacation from her Santa Fe College job until Jan. 4th.

We talked about movies and about recovery — as I mentioned in a previous post, I’m in my second 30 days of treatment at Florida Recovery Center, these days as as a commuter, which means I come home at night.  In fact, I came home about 3:30 today, as we finished a little early due to New Year’s Eve.

Florida Recovery Center has about 50 people, men and women, old, middle-aged, and young, recovering drug addicts and alcoholics, in residence on its campus in Gainesville, Florida.

Greenery Square in beautiful Gainesville, FL

Greenery Square in beautiful Gainesville, FL

And 2 commuters — Stuart and I.  To be on commuting status essentially requires that the person live in Gainesville, and surprisingly, only about 5-8 of the 50 residents are from here.   There are people from all over the country — Idaho, Rhode Island, San Francisco, Connecticut, and more.  FRC’s specialty seems to be working with medical professionals in concert with the Physicians Recovery Network, restoring recovering addicts and alcoholics back to medical practice (and thereby not wasting the hugely expensive educations and valuable skills these professionals possess).

Daily activities at Florida Recovery Center include many types of meetings, both small group and large, on the subject of recovery, as well as a lecture series and other forms of therapy.   An intense focus is placed on Step 1 (the A.A. step, of the 12 Steps, that says, “We admitted we were powerless over alcohol and that our lives had become unmanageable”).