Tag Archives: running

Running and Writing My Way through the Dog Days of Summer 


Friends of Padre Steve’s World,

Not much to write about today, well actually there is but I needed to take a break for the night. We are in what some people refer to the Dog Days of Summer, the month of August. For a lot of people August seems to drag, the late summer heat seems to take something out of a lot of people. I’m a little bit tired today, but part of that is that I have started running again after about two years trying to play around at the gym, which did nothing for me. I have always liked running, but after I broke my leg back in 2012 foolishly tried other ways to keep in shape, and curtailed my running. Mind you the injury had nothing to do with running, so I am back hitting the pavement. Friday I ran for the first time in about a year or more, 3.2 miles at a slow 10 minute mile pace, and today 3.6 miles at the same pace. The first half of today’s run was painful, my legs felt like lead, but as I kept going it got easier and I felt good when it was all over. But that is normal for me, even when I was young, the first mile to mile and a half has always been harder than what follows. So I will continue to run. I may not get back up to half-marathon level, but I’ll throw in a 10K once in a while. 

As always I am continuing to write on my vast Civil War project, and right now I am focusing on what will be the second book, Mine Eyes Have Seen the Glory: Race, Religion, Ideology, and Politics in the Civil War Era. It is a challenging subject because there is just so much there to dig into as religion butressed racial attitudes, economic theory, domestic politics, and even foreign policy from the 1830s onward; and truthfully we haven’t completely left it behind, which makes the study of it so pertinent today. 

But anyway, I didn’t feel like writing about politics today, frankly I needed to take a break from it today, so when I got home I just watched the Olympics with our younger Papillon, Izzy snuggled against my leg as a drank a beer.

So until tomorrow, have a great night. 

Peace

Padre Steve+ 

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Run Padre Run: Peace after the Storm

Today was a day of recuperation from a long couple of weeks of which yesterday was hard after being victimized by a larceny at work. Today despite carrying the duty pager, has been as close to a day off as I have had in a couple of weeks.

After watching the ball game last night knowing that I was carrying the duty pager today I decided to sleep as late as my body and my dog Molly would let me. Not that she was in the mood to get out either since we were being pounded by tropical storm force winds and heavy rain. She is not a fan of rain.

Since I didn’t have any pages from work I got up about noon, yes noon, I needed it as evidently Molly did too. So have I took her on a walk I decided to take a tip to see how our town had weathered the storm. It was not bad and I took Molly to the beach to check things out. Since things didn’t look bad and the weather reports showed the rain ending I decided to go for a run about 3PM after I had celebrated Eucharist. It turned into a Forrest Gump run.

Initially I planned on doing about 4-5 miles. When I got to the beach I decided to take a right and head southwest toward the end of the island which is called “the Point.” At the 2 mile point I felt good so I kept going and had to turn into the wind which was blowing at about 30-40 MPH from the north for about a mile. I had forgotten what it was like to run into a wind like that, at times I felt like I was standing still. Things got better when I turned around and rediscovered the advantages of a strong tailwind. Out at the point sand was racing along the beach faster than me blown by the stiff wind and I was glad that I had long running pants on rather than shorts.

Very few people were out today although a few hearty souls were out looking for shells or in some cases had metal detectors out. I got up to the beach entrance where I live and still felt good and wanted to do more even though I knew that if I went straight home it would be a nice 6 mile run. However I could see the Bogue Banks Fishing Pier in the distance. I had always wanted to do the whole beach and since I still felt good I kept running. Last week I had ran the furthest I had in a long time when I did 7.1 miles, out to the Point and then up the beach a bit. I figured that I could do 7 miles and then it was 8 and I went under the pier and kept going about another quarter mile. I thought of going further but since conditions were beginning to deteriorate I decided to turn back. I ran into some more wind on the way back but I finished the run. I wasn’t fast, the combination of wind and occasionally soft sand slowed me down but it was nice, a bit under 2 hours for the 11.2 miles, about 5.6 miles an hour. The was really slow from about the 8th mile I figure I was doing about 6.5 miles an hour before I hit the pier.

Regardless it was a good feeling to finish and know that I am in about good enough shape that I could do a half-marathon again. At 52 years old I don’t need to be fast, but just to know that I can do it gives me a lot of satisfaction.

Tomorrow it will be back to my weekday circuit training when I do lots of push-ups of various types, crunches and abdominal exercises between laps of 1/3 of a mile for an hour or so. It will still be windy and it looks like that the nights are going to be the coldest that we have had since last winter. But at least we are not in the direct path of Sandy. I have been through a good number of hurricanes and tropical storms, all in the summer when the temperatures were warm, I would not want to take one like Sandy especially with a winter storm bearing in as well. Somehow flooding, cold weather and snow combined with power outages does not seem fun.

Today was interesting because usually some song from the 1970s will be going through my head as I run. Last week it was Bob Seeger’s Against the Wind  the day before it was Linda Ronstadt’s You’re no Good, today it was Rod Stewart’s Do you think I’m Sexy. Sometimes it is Abba, Blondie or Doctor Hook. It is not like I plan on my internal I-Pod to play these songs, but it is what it is.

Now it is time to settle in and see what happens in the World Series. I am hoping for the sweep but if the Giants do win I wonder how many South Park seasons I can watch between now and the election.

Peace

Padre Steve+

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Mother’s Day Miscellany

Happy Mother’s Day to all those of you that are mother’s out there and those that tried to be but for whatever reason never had children or lost your children. Mother’s Day is a day that for some is happy and others not. That is one of the perplexing parts of the day. I had a happy childhood and my mom endured the life of a Navy Wife and mother raising two boys with her husband deployed, traveling or underway.  She did a pretty good job if you ask me. I think of the times that when dad was gone that she cheered me at Little League baseball and hockey games and would take my brother Jeff and me to the Navy Base Dispensary when we were sick. I also remember the time that she took on a neighbor who had threatened to hurt me when I was out on my paper route. The guy stood about 6’ 6” and worked for a competing paper.  Of course I was 12 years old and he was an adult. Mom marched down the street, and standing about 5’ 2” got right up on him and chewed him up one side and down the other and if I recall threatened his life if he laid a hand on me. It’s good to have a mom that can do dad’s job when dad is on an extended deployment in a combat zone.

Thankfully my mom is still alive and doing okay. I know that for those that have lost their mothers that this day can be hard.  Likewise for those who did not have mom’s that cared for or nurtured them the day can be hard. I was able to talk to my mom today and though separated by a continent it was good to talk with her and wish her a happy Mother’s Day.

I spent today at home with Molly my little dog at the Island Hermitage catching up on laundry, having some time of prayer and a celebration of the Eucharist. It has been a taxing few weeks with much travel and activity and after a celebration of the Navy Nurse Corps 104th Anniversary and National Nurses Week which cumulated in a Luau last night I was ready to do very little today.

I have been doing some reading, I am almost done with William Sheridan Allen’s book The Nazi Seizure of Power: The Experience of a Single German Town 1922-1945. It is an excellent read and should be a cautionary tale for anyone that puts their faith in radical politicians that promise “clear solutions” to difficult problems, especially social and economic conditions and those that appeal to displays of religious faith and tradition to attack and vilify their political opponents.

Later in the afternoon I ran the furthest distance that I have since before I went to Iraq, a bit over 7 miles on the beach. It was a slower pace than I wanted because of the condition of the sand because of the tide, heavy surf and number of tourists who had tread upon it this weekend. Despite the slow pace it was really nice to get the distance in without any problems. A lot of credit goes to my new running shoes, the Merrell “Barefoot” model. I have been running in them for 2 months and for the first time in years I am running without pain and not twisting or turning my ankle. Likewise when I am done running I no longer am tight or in pain. I look forward to knocking our my Navy Physical Readiness Test on Friday. I feel like I am in the best shape I have been in years.

I finished the day watching baseball and then the film Nuremberg which is about the Nuremberg trials.  It does a good job in portraying the major Nazi War Criminals either justified themselves or came to see the gravity of crimes and guilt.

Anyway, have to get ready for bed and give my wife Judy a call to say goodnight since I was unable to be with her this week or last. All my stuff is packed to take to work in the morning.

Peace

Padre Steve+

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A New Start…Life off the Fat Boy Program

Back in Standards 

“Every day is a new opportunity. You can build on yesterday’s success or put its failures behind and start over again. That’s the way life is, with a new game every day, and that’s the way baseball is.” Bob Feller

One of the biggest effects of my post-Iraq PTSD crash was how I tried to cope with this multi-faceted beast. Of course psychologically and spiritually I was in the toilet so much so that I was in the midst of a spiritual crisis so great that I was for all practical purposes an agnostic.  I struggled to hold myself together during 2008 and early 2009 trying to believe again and keep in shape. To compensate for my lack of belief, depression and the other nasty effects of PTSD such as night terrors, insomnia, hyper-vigilance, flashbacks I threw myself totally into work on the critical care units of the hospital I was serving. I finished my Masters Degree program and worked hard to better our hospital’s Clinical Pastoral Education Program and served on various committees including the Ethics Committee.  It was too much and the collapse deepened so I sought other coping mechanisms. I turned to comfort food and drink as a way to cope, especially food that was bad for me and way too much very good beer.

After my physical fitness test and weigh in during April of 2009 I lost all control of the latter two. While I had been drinking more since my return from Iraq than before the deployment in the spring of 2009 it became a problem.  I would leave work and on days when the Norfolk Tides were in town I would take to my season ticket seat in Section 102 Row B Seat 2 and seek refuge from my problems.  The ballpark and baseball helped bring some peace to my soul, but it would only last for 3 hours.  At the ballpark I would drink two to three beers with a chili dog and fries and maybe a pretzel, peanuts or ice cream.  After the game I would swing by the Krispy Crème Donut shop on the way home and pick up a dozen hot and fresh glazed donuts. I would then get on my computer and write on this site. While writing I would down three to six of the donuts with another two to four beers and repeat the cycle the next day for the rest of the home stand. On other nights I would go over to get donuts and drink more beer with them often after eating a heavy meal with very good beer at the Gordon Biersch Brewery Restaurant in Town Center.  By November I weighed 194 pounds and though I passed the PT test with a very good score for someone my age I was way over my weight and body fat limits. Thereafter it was a struggle to get below 180 pounds. I failed my next body composition assessment by a percentage point and though scoring well enough to qualify for the DOD waiver which would have taken me off of the program it was not approved.  I weighed in weekly and continued to improve my physical condition to the point that I was within the body fat standard by the time I left that duty assignment I transferred before the next official physical fitness assessment and got to my new assignment after the period was over.  Thus I remained on the program.

To those that have never experienced life in any military branch Fat Boy or Girl program it is humiliating, at least if you are a military professional.  There is a stigma to being fat because the military is run by tall skinny people.  Those of us of the under tall variety understand this stigma very well even when we are within standards.  I know a good number of good Soldiers, Sailors and Marines put out of the military because they did not meet their service body fat and weight standards.  Many like me are those suffering the effects of war and just trying to cope with life.  Others are men and women who are suffering the effects of time with shrinking bodies due to spinal disc compression and other injuries, illnesses and the slowing of metabolism which conspire against them. The military is a young person’s game and 51 year old 30 year veteran relics like me are in the minority.  For me the physical requirements are little different than when I first went on active duty in 1983. Back then I thought that when you got older you would catch a few breaks. Well in the age of budget cutting and a shrinking military force those standards continue to tighten and few breaks are to be found.

Bursting at the seams in my Summer Whites in 2009, this was not a comfortable uniform at the time, now it is very loose

While I had lost weight and body fat I was still over my weight limit.  The body fat measurement in the Navy is the measuring tape around the neck and the fattest part of the belly.  It is a terribly subjective and according to many scientific studies inaccurate test.  Nonetheless if you are over the weight limit you must be taped.  I didn’t want to go through that again so I decided that I was going to start really eating healthy and diversifying my exercise regimen.  When I arrived at my new assignment I weighed 184 pounds and during the winter added a few more pounds. At the beginning of January I bought a digital scale and began to weigh myself several times a week. I stopped the comfort foods except for an occasional hamburger or piece of pizza.  Even if I ate a hamburger I omitted the fries and held the cheese and mayo. I began to look at the nutritional information on everything that I ate even looking up restaurant data to ensure that I had the healthiest food that I also liked, it does no good to eat healthy if you hate what you are eating because you don’t stick with it.  I cut back on my drinking a lot, even going to Yuengling Light Beer at home.  I counted every calorie and measured calories burned. If I went over on one thing I compensated rather than continuing as if I had not.

As winter became spring I noticed a difference, I was weighing less and all of my clothes continued to get loose to the point that things that I could not get into during the fall were baggy and some nearly falling off.  As the date approached my scales had me near the limit for a half inch below my real height just in case I got a bad measurement on my height, five pounds is five pounds.  I felt a lot of stress over the week and could feel every muscle in my back completely tense to the point that I was in pain. I weighed in Friday at 169 pounds and was six pounds below my weight limit and one pound below the lower height limit.  I have lost all 25 pounds that I gained during that horrible period of my life. On Monday I will take the physical fitness test something that I never have a problem doing well on.  When I do that I will be officially off the program.

Last night I was invited to do the invocation at the Navy Nurse Corps Birthday Ball at Camp LeJeune. I eased into my Mess Dress Blue uniform which last May I could barely squeeze my body into and in which I looked terrible.  The uniform was loose and fit very well. I went to the ball and had a wonderful time with my colleagues from the Naval Hospital and their guests.  I made sure that I had a friend take the picture which accompanies this post.

For me this is a comeback. I still have my struggles with PTSD but on the whole on the physical, psychological and spiritual aspects of life I am doing much better. Yes I still struggle at times and experience some of the manifestations of PTSD and of my spiritual crisis but I am not collapsing when something shakes me like I was between 2008 and even into 2010.

Had I failed the body composition assessment I could have been separated from the Navy and while I probably would have been able to retire it would have been a most humiliating way to leave the service.  Instead as long as I am alive and haven’t done anything incredibly stupid I will be promoted to Commander on September 1st and continue to be able to serve God’s people in the Navy for years to come. Of course I cannot fail a physical fitness assessment for the next two years but now that I have my diet stabilized and composed of things that I like and live in a place at the Island Hermitage where I love to run, walk and bike I do not expect to ever fail that again. My goal is to get back to the weight that I was when I was commissioned as an Army Officer in 1983, 158 pounds and keep it there. Thus my task is still incomplete.  I have succeeded in my first goal and now it is time to complete the deal and live healthy from here on out.

Today is a new opportunity and I am putting past failures behind.

Peace

Padre Steve+

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PT and Bumping into Old Friends at Camp Swampy and Getting Carded at Applebee’s

The Main Gate at Camp Swampy

One nickname that Camp LeJeune North Carolina bears is “Camp Swampy.” This is because of the marsh like conditions of some of the base, the normally abundant rainfall and the propensity of said rainfall to accumulate wherever it falls. It is somewhat like the Tidewater, a polite name for “swamp” is in Virginia, only with more rain and in the spring and summer the humidity, mosquitoes and other vermin that love the conditions.  However, because it is a Marine Corps base one can find people doing PT at any time of the day or night in a variety of forms.  Of course the Marines at Camp LeJeune PT in any weather and Chaplains assigned here, even those with the Navy are kind of expected to do the same. Of course each Chaplain does so within his or her physical constraints. Despite being 50 years old I am still in pretty good shape and have the psychological need to try to keep up with people 20 to 30 years my junior so when I do my PT I am serious about it.  In fact when I was stationed with Navy EOD I did so well on the physical readiness test that an EOD tech asked my assistant Nelson Lebron “what kind of ‘roids is the Chaplain on?”  I found this funny since I don’t do this but I can tell you at the age of 50 and being subject to all sorts of minor bumps, dings and nagging injuries I can understand why some professional athletes would use substances such as HGH, but like the rest of the Navy-Marine Corps team I survive on “Vitamin M” or as it is commonly known to laypersons as 800 mg Motrin.

My normal or abnormal regimen is to do what I call “distance interval training.” Interval training usually entails combining some kind of cardio with exercises that work various muscle groups interspersed throughout. I first did interval type training in high school football practice, back then we called them “grass drills” where we ran in place and whenever the coach blew his whistle we would drop for pushups, sit-ups, flutter kicks or any other exercise that could put us on the ground.  I saw a variation with the Marines early in my Navy career that entailed sprinting and then dropping for whatever kind of punishment the leader determined.  Back then I preferred to run long distances up to 20 miles in training for half-marathons and marathons.

However a series of nagging overuse injuries took me down to 5-8 miles a run before I went to Iraq. In Iraq I picked up a few more injuries and it took me a while to recover so after I was assigned to Naval Medical Center Portsmouth I built my runs back up to 3-5 miles but I didn’t find that this was working for me anymore. So I went back to something that I hadn’t done since high school, interval training but I didn’t want to give up running.  I devised a plan that works for me and what I need it to accomplish.  I am now adding the P90X fitness program to fit in on alternate days.

Now I run about 3 miles but every 100-200 yards I drop for a set of 15-25 pushups get up and then do one of 5 different sets of abdominal exercises, 15-30 regular crunches, 40 oblique’s, 15-20 crunches with legs up at a 90 degree angle, 60-100 bicycle crunches and 50-100 flutter kicks with sets of pushups between each of them.

With Paul Rumery in Sicily, he has the hair

It has taken me a while to get settled at Camp LeJeune and begin to plan safe routes to run this and I am just getting back into the groove. Today I went out at lunch amid threatening rain. About a third of the way into the workout the rain came down and I continued to run, the rain was actually quite refreshing and by the two third point of the run I was soaked, my orange Baltimore Orioles t-shirt and gray running shorts must have weighed 5-6 pounds.  As I got up from a set of crunches I wiped off my sunglasses, no I didn’t need them I just like to look cool and as I wiped them off on my previously mentioned soaked Orioles t-shirt I started to run and a car pulled alongside where I was running, the window rolled down and I heard a familiar voice, LCDR Paul Rumery, the Chaplain who had relieved me on USS Hue City in 2003 and who had taken me to dinner the last time I was in Sicily with EOD called out “Hey Steve wild man I knew that it had to be you!” I pulled up and went over to the car, we had a brief talk. Paul had a brand new Chaplain with him who he told that I was a “wild man.” Paul let me know that he didn’t know that I was aboard Camp LeJeune and said that we needed to get together.  It was good to see him and I hope that we do get together soon. I picked up the run again and took it back in to the hospital where my now squishy running shoes and waterlogged clothing dripped of my mud stained body. A Marine Staff Sergeant came up to me and said that I had leaves on the back of my head. I laughed, said “I’m not surprised” and commented “if it ain’t raining we ain’t training.” The Staff Sergeant asked about my workout and was suitably impressed. I then ran into a Corpsman who had been assigned with me at 3rd Battalion 8th Marines back in 2000-2001.  He and I talked for a while. It’s funny what a small world it is when you are stationed in a place like Camp LeJeune.

After work I stopped by the local Applebee’s for a beer and a burger and I was carded by the server. I thanked the server who told me that they and to card anyone that looked under 30 and when he saw my ID and age he was surprised. I must say that since there are so many Marines and Sailors here it is not uncommon to be carded and since I don’t dress my age I can see why I get carded. I must say that it appeals to my vanity.  I guess part of this must be due to good genes as well. Whatever it is I will take it.

Tomorrow I will drive up to Virginia as I have a specialty appointment and assessment to figure out what might be causing my auditory processing disorder.  I haven’t understood speech well since returning from Iraq and the additional Tinnitus is at times deafening.  Hopefully they will figure it out and find something that will make it better.

So anyway, until tomorrow….

Peace

Padre Steve+

 

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