Schedule


In order for me to run regularly, I have to schedule everything around my run. My daily run determines what time I go to bed, what time I wake up, and when I eat. All these activities revolve around my run. Since I run about nine miles per day, I have to time my meals so they don’t adversely affect my run. I can’t eat a full meal and then decide to go out and run nine miles. I have to prep my body in order to run and fully enjoy my run.

My preferred time to run is early in the morning, usually after I wake up and drink some black coffee. With no cream or sugar, which would change my blood sugar and negatively impact my running. I know that if I eat and drink too soon before a run, I feel a little dizzy and my legs feel heavy, like lead. Running with a full stomach slows me down now, although when I was younger, I could occasionally run on a full stomach. Now, I prefer to eat dinner in the evening, have a light snack before going to bed, and then wake up in the morning early to have a cup or two of black coffee. Somehow coffee helps me run. Not only is it a stimulant, but it’s also a diuretic, which helps avoid logistics problems on the run. And you know exactly what I mean if you’re a runner. Only then, after following my morning ritual, do I feel ready to run.

Lately, I’ve decided, since I’m on summer vacation from teaching, to wake up, drink coffee, write a blog post, and then run. So far it’s working out well. During the academic year, I usually run after school, but running in the morning is better for me because then I feel as if I have the rest of the day for myself. Working a full-time job really takes up much of my day, so I enjoy my summer vacations!

Well, I finished my coffee and this post. I’m off on my run!

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Coffee, blog, run


Well, the semester has finally ended and I have the entire summer off. I would like to laze around the house and relax all summer. I will relax, but I have also set some goals for myself. I will begin each day with coffee, a blog post, and a morning run.

I’m very self-disciplined when I need to be and when I want to be. I have decided to be very self-disciplined once again. I will wake up to a morning cup of coffee to get me started. For me, coffee is a stimulant, not a crutch. The aroma and that first sip get my creative juices flowing. Coffee also prepares my body for my morning run because it’s a diuretic. I’ll spare you the details. Of course, I have to be very careful not to drink too much or I’ll have to make an unscheduled pit stop and it’s not always easy finding a restroom while on the run. Especially in the morning when most public places are closed.

The blog post should be easy to write since the first thing I do after I prepare my coffee is turn on the computer. I just have to ensure that I don’t check my email or Facebook first. These distractions can wait until after I write my blog post while I drink my coffee. As I sit alone by my computer with my coffee mug writing my blog post right now, I feel a great satisfaction because I’m doing something I enjoy so much. Well, not the drinking coffee part, but the writing and using my computer. Computers have really made it easier for me to write. But that’s a post for another day.

After the coffee and the blog comes the run. Running is the one constant throughout my life. Running takes up only a small portion of my day, but my whole day has to revolve around the run if I want to get a good run in. In the 1980s I use to run a lot of miles because I wanted to improve my race times so I could get a running scholarship, but that never materialized. Mainly because I developed allergies and/or I over-trained and burned out too soon. But I kept running anyway. I always managed to run three to six miles several days per week. The last couple of years, I consistently ran four and a half miles at least four times per week.

Then, something took over my running. I’m not sure what it was. For a few years, I tried to increase my mileage, but I was unsuccessful. I would always develop new aches and pains that prevented me from running more than four and a half miles. Then, my son Alex started running track. I went to every track meet possible. When I saw the track meets last year, I felt inspired to run again. Suddenly, I started running more miles. Not necessarily faster, but certainly more miles. In fact, In fact, with each meet that I saw, I was inspired by not only my son, who turned out to be a very good 400-meter runner, but also by the other runners who struggled just to finish with determination. Slowly, I increased my mileage until I reached nine miles or so.

Well, I’ve completed the coffee and the blog part of my daily morning routine. Now it’s off to my run!

Coffee


Dr. D.'s favorite household appliance.

I never used to drink coffee until I discovered its magical powers of keeping me awake after sleep-deprived nights and of making me look pensive and meditative while reading in the coffee shop. While I do enjoy the coffee that baristas offer, I always prefer to drink my own home-brewed concoction. I don’t know why, but my coffee tastes better to me than even the most expensive gourmet coffee at any coffee shop.

I love to lounge around the house in the morning sipping at my coffee while I read my e-mail before I go out for my morning run. I used to have a Mr. Coffee with a timer that my mother-in-law gave me for my birthday, but then she died, I got divorced, and my Mr. Coffee stopped working. So, I decided to splurge on a coffee maker. I bought a Cuisinart Grind and Brew coffee maker in 2003 and enjoyed its coffee until about three months ago. It had a timer, so I was able to set it up the night before and literally wake up and smell the coffee. About two years ago, my beloved Cuisinart stop functioning like new and I tried to fix it–following in my father’s footsteps–but I was lucky to put it back together again without actually improving its performance. The only thing I got out of the experience was a headache, minor cuts on my fingertips, and a very lame blog entry. But I continued using the coffee maker until about two months ago when I could no longer disassemble the grinder in order to wash it. I tried everything to pry it out, but it was more stubborn  than me.

Finally, I decided to buy another coffee maker. This was my chance to try a new brand, but I loved my Cuisinart so much that I decided to buy the exact same model again. I bought it in 2003 for $125 plus sales tax. So I expected to pay much more in 2008. Surprisingly, that model was still about the same price at most stores, but I like shopping online and I noticed that amazon.com sold it for $119, with no sales tax and no shipping charges. Then, I noticed that they also sold a refurbished version of the same model. I was very surprised to discover that a refurbished coffee maker cost more than a new one: $144! Obviously, I bought a new one. I received it at my door within three business days! I happened to be home at the time and the UPS guy put the package directly in my own hands! I was glad I bought the new model because Cuisinart had improved its performance ever so slightly, but enough to make a notable difference that was apparent from the first cup of coffee. In fact, I burned myself with the very first sip. I didn’t realized the my old coffee maker was no longer making very hot coffee. Wow! Hopefully, I’ll get at least five years out of this one.

Chillaxin’


Yield, but never give in!

I’ve reached a juncture in my life where I am very happy and content. I go to bed whenever I want. I get up whenever I want. If I feel like, I do a little writing, a little reading, or nothing at all. I really don’t have to be anywhere until the middle of August when the semester begins. I’m looking forward to my road trip to Mexico City with my sons who are now twelve and actually a lot of fun to have around. They stay up late and get up late, so I actually have some time to myself in the morning. Today, when they woke up, I announced, “We’re going to Starved Rock!” I was waiting for a resounding, “Hooray!” But I was greeted by silence. However, whenever I suggest outings they go willingly because we always have fun on these trips. And today’s trip was no exception. I like just getting in the car and driving somewhere–anywhere–with my sons.

I have to admit that this is where I wanted to be in my life for the longest time. I really don’t have too many obligations to complicate my life. I get up in the morning, drink my coffee, read my paper, and then go running. After that, the rest of my day is a blank daily planner. I can do whatever I want. Literally. And I often do. My only personal goal at the moment is to write a blog entry everyday until I go to Mexico. Then, I’ll have to take a little break. I’d like to finish editing my play that I’ve been writing for more than twenty years, but I always manage to put it aside for yet another day. And I don’t feel at all guilty about it. I’m happy to have gotten to this point in my life because not many people get to theirs. I’ve been very fortunate and I’m grateful for it.

Take a chill pill and enjoy your life.

Running


Even though it was 95 degrees, I finished 8th place in 2:44!

I’m enjoying my summer vacation from teaching so far. I get up whenever I feel like. I have a cup of black coffee while I rub the sleep from my eyes. I more or less kill time and stall before I go out my front door for my morning run before it gets too hot out. Lately, I’ve been slowing down on my runs. I’m not sure if it’s due to age and/or allergies. Of course, I’ve had these experiences before, even when I was in my twenties. I have been running, on and off again, since high school. I first started running when I was at Divine Heart Seminary when I joined the cross country team. For some reason I wanted to be on a school team because I thought it would be cool. My first race was the Marshall County Cross Country Championship in Indiana. Since I didn’t know any better, I ran alongside the lead pack right from the start. After about a mile, I suddenly slowed down to a crawl, or so it seemed to me. I’m not sure where I placed, but I received a ribbon. I have one run that I will never forget: I was running on some backwoods road in Camp Pendleton when I felt someone running alongside me. I looked over my shoulder and saw a coyote. At first, I was startled, but I continued running as if this were normal. The coyote and I ran together for about five minutes before we went our separate ways. Well, enough stalling! I am now going out for my morning run.

Hello, coyote! Where are you running to?

Spanish students


Traffic crash scene at the corner of Clark and Randolph.

Oftentimes, I will meet one of my present or former Spanish students unexpectedly. I’m always happy to see them again, but I usually meet them long after I’ve forgotten their names. Once I was at the McDonald’s Playland near Midway Airport with my twin sons when they were about four years old and one of my former students greeted me with a loud and friendly, ¡Hola! I was happy to see her again, but this time she was with her young son and she was happy with her life.

Once while I was on duty as a police officer working in a patrol car, I was assigned to park my squad car with the blue lights flashing so other cars wouldn’t crash into a car that had crashed into the Cook County / City Hall building downtown. This must have been a slow news day because all kinds of cameramen came by to film the car that had crashed into the building while I just sat there in my squad car watching everyone come and go.

Then, I noticed that one cameraman was looking at me as he walked past. I couldn’t help but notice him, too. Then, we both recognized each other! He was in my Spanish class at UIC! He also recognized me. We kind of looked at each other with a look that could only mean, “This is what you do for a living?” I never imagined him as a cameraman. And he definitely never imagined me as a police officer.

Another time I was downtown where an employee of Dunkin Donuts was a theft victim. As I walked into Dunkin Donuts, one of my students saw me. We greeted each other and that was about it. However, I realized afterwards that he saw me in full police uniform walking into a Dunkin Donuts. How cliche! I was actually responding to a radio assignment, but I appeared to be acting like a typical cliché police officer going for coffee and donuts.

Last Saturday, as I was leaving the Burger King in Mount Greenwood with my twins, I saw a former Spanish student in the parking lot. We said hello to each other and then I noticed that he was with Mark Pera who is running for Congress so they gave me a flyer and asked me to vote for him. I responded that I would think about it. When I got home, just by chance, Mark Pera’s campaign office called me and asked me to vote for him. I told the caller that I had just seen him, but she didn’t believe me.