Haircuts


“Did you get a haircut?
“No, I got them all cut!”

I have been getting haircuts my entire life. For as long as I can remember. I’m sure I even got haircuts before I was capable of remembering them. My mom was my first barber. I am reminded of my haircuts now because I just got a haircut.

Most of my barbers have been Italian, except for my mom, of course. I had two Italian barbers who were both named Aldo of Italy. I patronized both for about ten years each. My next Italian barber was at UIC, but I cannot recall his name right now. My present barber is Vincenzo who has a great sense of humor. My mother’s name is Carmen, and although she’s not an Italian barber, she does have an Italian name–except in Italian, it’s a man’s name.

I found my barber Vincenzo because of my present wife Beata, who also is not an Italian barber, nor does she have an Italian name. I was complaining to Beata about the long wait at the UIC barber shop because the two older barbers had retired and the youngest barber, but not so young anymore, told me after he hired a couple of twenty-something barbers, “I remember when I was the kid of the barbershop!” Tempus fugit!

Anyway, my wife has a half-Yorkie, half-Shi-Tzu dog named Pluto that needs regular haircuts at the dog groomer. So, one day, she comes home after dropping Pluto at the grooomer and tells me, “I found a new barber for you!” The barbershop was right next door to the dog groomer. Since I didn’t like the wait at the barbershop at UIC, I went longer intervals without haircuts, which annoyed my wife because she liked me better when my hair was short.

The next time Pluto needed to be groomed, Beata took Pluto and I for a ride. We dropped Pluto off a the groomer and then she walked me next door to the barbershop. This was a real barbershop, a man’s barbershop for the macho he-man. Vincenzo didn’t introduce himself to me, nor did I. He swept his ope palm to the barber chair where I sat down. My wife sat right across from me, as if I would try to bolt out before getting my unwanted haircut. Vincenzo asked me, “How do you want your haircut?” I pointed to my wife and said, “You have to please my wife.” Without missing a beat, Vincenzo said, “No! You have to please your wife!”

My wife laughed, I laughed. Vincenzo laughed. Vincenzo has been my barber every since.

Sirius XM in México


Before I drove to México earlier this month, I searched online to see if I would be able to listen to Sirius XM in México. I guess not many people with satellite radio travel to México and then post whether or not Sirius XM will work in México because I found exactly zero results. Well, I am now posting that I went to México and I was able to listen to Sirius XM in México while I drove all the way to México City. There were some bad reception areas, but overall the quality was very good. This certainly made my driving experience much more enjoyable. So, now you know, in case you ever want to drive to México City and want to listen to Sirius XM down México way.

 

Warming up


The first step is always the hardest. That applies to just about everything in life. Some days, starting a run is extremely difficult. Some days, I have trouble putting on my running clothes and getting out the door. But once I’m outside and I start running, I know I will complete my run. Once I warm up, that is.

Warming up is very important to me. I never stretch before a run like I once did. I reached an age when the warm up alone seemed so tedious that I didn’t want to run afterwards. So, now I never stretch before a run, but rather start out running slowly and gradually settle into my normal running pace. I usually warm up after a mile or two, depending on many factors. But once I’m warmed up, my run is very enjoyable.

When I was younger and I was running a weekly twenty-miler for marathon training, I didn’t always have the motivation to go out and run that long run. Some days, I would feel like quitting at six miles, but I would tell myself that I had to finish my long run if I wanted to improve my marathon time. Amazingly, I could will myself to keep running and then a few miles later I would pick up the pace. Honestly, before I even began some of those long runs, I didn’t think i would finish them. On a few occasions, I felt so good that I ran twenty-six miles. And I could have kept running on those days, but I didn’t want to overtrain.

Over this past winter, I had a few days when it was extremely cold and snowy that I wanted to quit even before I ran the first mile. But, I recalled my youthful determination and willed myself to keep running, to keep putting one foot in front of the other, until i ran nine miles. All I had to do was warm up. Once I was warmed up, running was easy. Well, maybe not easy, but easier.

Warming up also applies to other things I do. For example, I didn’t feel like writing a blog post this morning, but I would not have felt good about it. So, I started putting one word in front of the other until I reached the end. Once I was warmed up, I finished this post.

And now it’s time for me to go running. I hope I warm up quickly.

Sightseeing


Yesterday, I had a good run. It was the easiest run, but I was sightseeing while running. I always sees new things when I run and that’s why I enjoying running without the distraction of listening to music. Running through Glen Ellyn is very interesting because of the old buildings from the 1800s. I enjoy looking at the expansive mansions and fantasize about what it would have been like living there. Or what it would have been like living in that era.

Yesterday, when I had to wait for red light at Main Street and St. Charles, I decided to check out Stacy’s Tavern. I always run past it, but I never really saw it until yesterday. Just by chance, I saw that the museum for Stacy’s tavern would be open that day from 1:30 to 4:30. So I returned later that afternoon for a visit. I really enjoyed the guided tour. I also felt grateful to live in our present age with all the modern conveniences.

Well, I’m off to run and see what new sights are in store for me today.

Treadmill


One thing I hate more than running laps is running on a treadmill. I had always been curious about treadmills and stationary bicycles. For the longest time, I thought I would be interested in riding stationary bike during the winter when I didn’t feel like running in the snow and ice. It would be nice, I thought, to get an aerobic workout without braving extreme winter weather. I often thought about buying stationary bicycle until I heard about treadmills. Then, I often wondered what it would be like to run on a treadmill indoors instead of running through the snow, slush, and ice on a wintry day. I suppose I could have joined a health club instead of buying a stationary bicycle or a treadmill, but somehow, I thought I would actually use the stationary bicycle or treadmill if I actually owned them.

The more I ran outdoors, the less I thought about buying either apparatus. I hate the repetitiveness of running laps because I keep seeing the same scenery repetitively. However, running and cycling in one place would be even worse because of the lack of change of scenery. But I never actually ran or cycled in one place.

A few years back when I was in México, my cousin suggested that I go to the health club with her. I have never been a fan of health clubs, but I was curious to see what a health club in México was like, so I went with her. Well, it didn’t look much different than a health club in Illinois or California. Anyway, I decided to run on the treadmill just to finally see what it’s like to run a treadmill. I had not run for about a month prior because of constant pain in my right foot, so I wasn’t sure how fast or how long I could run, but I was running alongside my cousin Jaqueline. She was happy that she didn’t have to miss her workout on account of my visit. I told her I could handle running even though I had not run recently.

So, I felt a little pressure to show her that I was real runner. I set a goal of running for thirty minutes, which I was fairly sure I could complete. We were able to watch TV while we ran. It had never occurred to me before to watch TV while I ran. I don’t even listen to music when I run.

Well, running on a treadmill did not seem like real running to me. Basically, I jumped in the air and the belt beneath me moved my foot back. So I was running without actually going anywhere. It seemed absurd to me. I sped up the belt slowly, but it still didn’t feel like real running. My cousin seemed to be enjoying her workout. She kept asking me how I liked it and I would just say it was great and smile back at her. Then I thought of increasing the incline that is supposed to simulate hills. Well, running on a steeply inclined treadmill is nothing like running hills. All I had to do was raise my foot a little higher and the belt would move it backwards. When I run up a hill, I can feel my legs carrying my entire body weight up the hill, not so with the treadmill.

Well, I managed to run for thirty minutes comfortably, but I didn’t feel like I really exerted myself very much. The pain in my right foot didn’t bother me at all. After that, I lost all desire to buy a treadmill. I’ll just stick to running on the road and running hills without watching TV or listening to music. Well, I have to run now.

Running laps


Ideally, I enjoy running one, and only, one lap. However, running is seldom ideal and occasionally we must run more than one lap. Last summer, I found my ideal running course, ideal for me, anyway. About nine miles with gently rolling hills and enough variety in scenery to keep my run interesting. I saw and greeted enough runners on this course to make me feel like I was running with someone else. This course was perfect for me! Especially since it was only one lap long!

However, during the fall, the days became shorter and darkness covered the course much earlier than I would have liked. The first few runs of shortened daylight, I ended my run in darkness. When I lived in Chicago, this wasn’t a problem because of the streetlights. However, in Glendale Heights and Glen Ellyn, there were no streetlights anywhere except downtown. I was running in the dark. And I could barely see where I was running. I was also blinded by the headlights of oncoming cars. I had to adjust my starting time so I could finish my run by dusk when I could still see somewhat.

Then in addition to the shortened days, I also had to contend with one of the most wintry winters of my life. The first snowfall, I was able to run my usual course as the snow was fluffy and actually fun to run in. However, as the snow melted and refroze into ice, it became a slippery hazard, especially on the downhills. The first time I encountered an icy downhill, I re-pulled my already pulled left hamstring. I had only run about a quarter-mile, but I had to limp back home at slow trot, even slower than my already slow pace. I was able to run my course a few more times until the repeated snowstorms struck. Not only was my running course dark by 4:30 P.M., but it was also at least ankle-deep in snow in ice in most places. Not everyone shoveled their sidewalks.

I was just getting into the groove of running, so I didn’t want to slow down during the winter. Before I started running this nine-mile course, I was running laps around our housing complex. Each lap was about 0.9 of a mile. I ran five laps as many times per week as my body would allow for 4.5 miles. I’m pretty sure the lap was 0.9 of a mile because I measured it with my iPhone 2, my car, my Samsung Galaxy Note 2, and my car again just to confirm the distance. So, I was fairly sure I was running 0.9 of a mile with each lap. And the reason I was running laps in our complex was that I lacked the self-confidence to go out and run on an out-and-back course. I was afraid I wouldn’t have the endurance to finish and I would be stranded miles from home.

Anyway, once the snow and ice accumulated on my running course, I began running laps again, out of necessity. What I hate about running laps is that it’s repetitive, but because it’s repetitive, I also find comfort in running laps. Despite the snow and ice outside of our complex, snowplows cleared the street of our housing complex and the street was salted so I had a more or less good running surface on most days. I ran ten laps on most days last winter. I didn’t run on the coldest day of the year because my wife was told she didn’t have to go to work because of the extreme cold and so she was home to forbid me from exiting our front door. Otherwise, I would have run that day, too. Don’t get me wrong, but I enjoyed not having to brave the elements that day. Thank you, wife! Especially, for the hot chocolate that day.

One thing I learned from running laps is that life is also about running laps. We do many things repeatedly in life and in running. In running, it’s left foot, right foot, repeat. And I keep repeating putting one foot in front of the other until I finish running my desired distance. Or, until I can’t run any longer, for whatever reason, extreme weather, or lack of desire or endurance. In life, we repeat many things such as education: grade school, high school, college, graduate school. I have run many laps in my life, in many different areas, but it’s all repetition. I choose to enjoy the repetition of these laps because of the comfort they provide. I enjoy the comfort of life’s laps.

However, when I run, I still prefer to run only one lap!