Hi! My name is Ken. I'm going to periodically write about running, writing, and a number of other topics. Please feel free to read my posts and provide your comments. If you have a question about any topic, leave a message and I'll try to help you get the information you're looking for. Thanks for stopping by. I hope to see you again soon.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Running Away From Prostate Cancer-My Personal Story

If you check out my profile, you'll see that I'm a cancer survivor. In a series of articles, I have been writing about my experiences with prostate cancer. You can view these articles by checking out E-zine, an online publisher. Let me know what you think. I'm only on Part 4, but I figure it's going to take about 10 to 15 parts to complete it. I mix in a number of running things into the articles because running is one of my most important coping mechanisms.
By the way, the title is not meant to imply that I or anyone else should not face their problems by running away. What I mean is when you run a race, if you "run away" from your competition, you win. I've been trying to keep ahead of the competition, "cancer" since 2007.

I forgot to mention the specific website address in my original post. Thanks, Becki. The address is

Snowy Trail Run

I set out yesterday a little later than usual for a 7 mile rail trail run along Hop River. It was about 11:00 am and lightly snowing. This is one of my favorite courses because it's an out and back one with a gradual uphill in the beginning to the 3.5 mile mark. On the way back, you can pick up the pace and finish fast. 

Because of the weather, there weren't too many people on the trail. Several runners passed me as I was doing some pre-run stretching.  I set out and passed about 4 couples walking the trail all bundled up. With my insulated running pants, knit hat, light gloves and three shirts, I was perfectly dressed for the conditions.  I saw one mountain biker guy going down the hill.  He looked colder than me. I'm sure the snow and wind had something to do with that.

I reached the turn around point in 29:29. I was happy with that pace given the conditions. The snow began to come down slightly harder as I headed back to my car.  At least the wind was at my back now. At the 4.5 mile point, I heard someone approaching from behind me. I thought it was another mountain biker at first. As I turned to greet the person, I realized it was a runner and he was hauling ass. We exchanged hellos and chatted for several seconds as he continued at a fast pace. I tried to keep him in sight, but it wasn't easy. There are a number of straight sections on the trail and some turns too. At around the 6.0 mile mark, he was out of sight. By trying to keep him in view, I pushed myself harder than usual.  That was okay because I had planned to do 4 runs this week, but with Christmas activities I didn't have time to run on Friday as planned.

I covered the return trip in 27:41, slightly less than a 2 minute negative split. Upon finishing, I took a quick walk around. That's when I noticed that fast guy over by a car doing an assortment of post-run stretches. I walked over and complimented him on his pace and he returned the favor. After a minute or so of talking, he indicated that he was training to run the Boston Marathon this spring. He said that he was shooting for around a 2:21. Now there aren't too many people around here that can do that kind of time.

As it turned out, I had been running on the trail with Eric Blake, the two-time U.S. mountain champion. This is the very same guy that won the Mount Washington Road Race in 2006 and 2008. I think he came in second the last two years. It was kind of nice to rub elbows and talk a bit with him. He seems like a nice guy. Small world.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Annual Holiday Traditions

As I've mentioned before, there are a number of runners that belong to my informal office running club. Each year we organize a special holiday run at lunch. We usually shorten the distance so that we can spent some time over at a local watering hole to toast the year and our friends. Over the years, the establishments we have celebrated at and the participants have changed. But the event always has that closeness, where we share stories of the year's events, some good and some bad.

In particular, we remembered Doug Zimmerman, one of our running friends, who died earlier in the year during one of our lunchtime runs. Doug was one of the nicest guys you'd ever want to meet.  He really enjoyed this tradition and always found a way to be there to share in the fun. Heck, he was one of the ones that kept us laughing and made this celebration such a great time.

I think it's so important each year to stop and reflect on the events and the friendships in your life. So drink a toast to your friends and if you can, tell them how much you appreciate them. Make sure you laugh a lot too. It's amazing how good you can feel by doing it.

Stop by and tell me about your traditions.  If you don't have one, perhaps you should start one.
Happy Holidays!


Sunday, December 19, 2010

Happy Holidays

To all,
I want to thank all of my blog followers for stopping by and sharing your comments and experiences. I hope you've found something on my blog that's helped you in some small way.  I've enjoyed our exchanges. Also, I'd like to wish everyone a happy and safe holiday season. 
I know a number of you are struggling with various injuries too. I sincerely hope your recovery is swift and the new year finds you able to enjoy your passion, whatever that may be.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Manchester Road Race-2010

One of the oldest road races in the U.S.A. occurs every Thanksgiving day in Manchester, Connecticut. It's the Manchester Road Race. This race is much more than just a race though. It's a celebration of  family and life. Many people get dressed up in costumes, some of which have a Thanksgiving theme like pilgrims or turkeys. Still others find their own unique way to dress for the occasion. For instance, Safety Man, with his orange jumpsuit, helmet, and flashlights is a well known regular. There seems to always be several people dressed up is complete body standex too, sometimes green or orange in color.  Sure, there are elite athletes from all over the world vying to win the 4.75 mile loop race too, but the majority are neighbors, family, and friends.

You don't have to run the race either to take part in the festivities. Many spectators line the course, from the beginning on Main Street to the end near St. James Church. Runners, walkers, wheelchair participants, and spectators are treated to the various bands and music  along the course. One minute you're being entertained by a Scottish band playing bagpipes. Just around the corner, a local rock band is playing, followed by a stereo system blaring the theme song for Rocky. Spectators get to see some of the fastest  runners in the world, some of which will most likely represent their countries in the Olympics and other world class events in the future.

After the elite atheletes pass, everyone looks for their family and friends who are running in the race. With the mass of humanity running, it's a tall order to find people unless you coordinate your spectating location to the runners. But it's fun to try and find them and see if you can snap a picture of them in their moment of glory or agony, whichever state you find them in.   A number of businesses also stay open and reap the benefits of the occasion too, like the Hungry Tiger, a restaurant/bar located just before the one mile mark on the course.

From a technical standpoint, the race, with its under 30, 35, and 40 minute passes, gives faster runners a preferential starting spot, which is earned by running either the previous year's race under 40 minutes or running another qualifying race during the year per guidelines on the race's website.  So if you want to get a spot in one of the three card areas, you have to do your homework to get a pass. One good note is the race committee lowered the standards to qualify a year or so ago.

I enjoyed the race this year even though I didn't crack the 35 minute barrier. I missed it by  8 seconds though and I'll get an under 40 card again based on my performance this year. I also got to spent time with some of my friends at the Army/Navy Club after the race. We enjoyed some spirits and several shots from the Mrs. Butterworth bottle, which contains some alcoholic concoction to warm your soul. So if you're planning to be in the area for Thanksgiving I suggest you check out the race. If you do plan to run, make sure you register well ahead a time. This year 15,000 people signed up and they had to close registrations a day and a half ahead of time. The website is

Happy running!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

The 2010 Ghost Run

I was glad that we were able to put together a team to run in memory of Dave and Doug this year. Team Cherico/Zimmerman performed admirably in the 2010 Ghost Run this morning. Our coed relay team was composed of Jim Gotta, Michelle Gore and myself.  It was a great day to run with partly sunny conditions and temperatures in the 40's.

The race was set to start at 9:00 am, but we still had to register and figure out how we were going to get a car to the finish line. As a result, I got to the start, the Hebron Elementary School, at about 7:55 am. Just prior to reaching the start, Jim called to tell me that there had been an accident on Route 66, and Michelle, Larry (Michelle's husband), and him were in the process of finding an alternate route to the start. He assured me that they would be there shortly though. I wasn't worried because he said they had a GPS in their car.  After registering us, I was on my way back to my car to wait for the guys when it dawned on me that they never collected our entrant fee, $53.00 for the relay team. I went back inside the school and gave the woman who registered me the money and she thanked me for doing so. She was a little embarrassed.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Team Cherico/Zimmerman to Participate in the Ghost Run on 11/6/10

Hi everyone,

You might recall, I put up an October post about a number of running friends who have passed away. We had hoped to participate as a four person relay team in the Hartford Marathon this year. Unfortunately, things just didn't work out. But Team Cherico/Zimmerman is back at it next weekend in Hebron, CT to run the Ghost Run. It's a 13.1+ mile race that takes place mostly on the Airline Rail Trail in Eastern CT. I've run the race twice in memory of Dave. Team Cherico actually took first place for the COED Division one of those years.

The race is a point to point affair so we'll be shuttling back and forth that morning. The race legs are 3.5, 4.5, 5.5 miles respectively.  Do you think anyone will wear a costume?

Anyway, I can't wait to do the race.


Speedwork for the Young and Old

Most people I know that run say that long runs improve your endurance while speedwork helps you run faster.  I've been running for over twenty years now and for a number of those years I kept a log of my workouts. I recently decided to pull out my 1997-1999 logs and compare the speedwork back then with what I did from 2008 -2010, and in particular, for ten consecutive weeks last year.  I've felt that last year's speedwork block just didn't produce the expected results. Did I do something different last year that hindered my results? Perhaps it's just because I'm ten years older now or maybe there's something more to the story.


My 1/2 mile repeats back in 1998 and 1999: Range (2:44 to 3:00 minutes)-12-13 workouts per year
My 1/2 repeats from 2009                          :  Range (3:14 to 3:35 minutes)-10 workouts

Note: I did mile repeats 2 to 3 times in 1999, but not in 1998 and 2009.

Mileage in  1998 and 1999: 40 to 50 miles per week
Mileage in 2007                :  35 to 45 miles per week
Mileage in 2009                :  30 to 35 miles per week

I was training for fall marathons in 1998 and 1999
I trained for the New Haven 20K in 2009

Manchester Road Race: 1998 (4.75 miles) 30:35
"        "        "        "       : 1999 (4.75 miles) 29:31
"        "        "        "       : 2007 ( "   "    "    ) 34:23
"         "       "         "      : 2009 ( "    "    "   ) 35:11

I'm going to ponder these results for a while and give you my impression later this weekend. What do you think?

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Half Marathon Preparation Tips

Many of the same points I mentioned in my post about marathon preparation apply equally to half marathons. However, there are a number of other tips that can help make your next half marathon a success. These tips can be divided into two categories, physical and mental.


1) Plan to do a 7 to 8 mile run in the middle of the week. The pace for this run should be about 30 seconds slower than your goal pace, except you want to pick up the pace in the last two miles and finish strong at goal pace. Don't worry if you start out a little slower though. You want to negative split these runs.

2) An alternative to 1)  above would be to do the same distance, but work in various surges into the run. For example,  start out by doing a 5 minute warm-up, then do surges: 2 minutes, 4 minutes, 6 minutes, 4 minutes, 2 minutes. After each surge, rest the same number of minutes before starting the next surge. It's important to sustain a reasonably fast pace during the rests though so that you get used to running when you're tired. I suggest going 45 seconds per mile slower than goal pace. Try to plan it so that you finish the last surge about a half mile from the finish of the run.

3) During the weekends, plan to do a long run of 8-12 miles and again try to negative split the run. I like to do my long runs on a nearby rail trail because it has a soft terrain and not a lot of vehicle traffic. Increase the length of this run by no more than a mile every other week. So it would take you ten weeks to reach the second 12 miler. Plan to do this run two to three weeks before the target race day and taper thereafter.
(I like to mix in 30 second pick-ups at a pace a little faster than goal pace during these runs, which helps your speed and endurance.) Try to do 10-20 of these each run and distribute them through the workout.

4) Plan to do at least one 10K race at the half way point of your training program and substitute that run for one of your long runs.

5) Do half mile to mile repeats at a pace fifteen to thirty seconds per mile faster than goal pace. Do this workout once every two weeks for a total of 5 miles with a two minute rest in between repeats.


1) Keep track of  each of your runs in a logbook (time, distance, pace, weather, how you felt etc.) and periodically review what you've done to build confidence in your plan.

2) Visualize having a successful race after you have run and scouted the race course.

3) On race day, think positive and listen to music that puts you in a happy, but energetic mood.

By following these tips, you'll be putting yourself in a position to do well on race day.

Good luck and happy running.


Sunday, October 17, 2010

Marathon Advice: Preparation and Race Day Tips

I recently gave some advice to a new member of the blogger group I'm setting up.  His name is Tom and he's running the Green Mountain Marathon this morning in Vermont. I hope this advice helps him and others run a great marathon. Good luck, Tom!

1) Forget about the racing flats. Run with the shoes you've been doing long runs with-the good pair-the ones you like that aren't worn too much, but are broken in so you won't worry about heal pain from rubbing etc.;

2) Start drinking electrolytes and other fluids several days before and up to race day;

3)Don't pee in public unless its during the race. Find some trees that provide some privacy or preferably use a porta-potty;

4)If you're doing this for the first time your goal should be just to finish. For more advanced runners, I recommend running conservatively for the first 14 miles. (30  to 60 seconds per mile slower than your goal pace) My experience has been that you lose most of your time in the last 10K if you go out too fast.  Plus, it feels good when you start passing people who didn't run conservatively;

5)Don't-I repeat-don't-I repeat-don't go out fast. Try running with someone who's going slower than you were planning to go and talk. In other words, just enjoy being out there. Does he or she have kids? How many do they have?  I think you get my point. This takes some of the stress of the race off and you will pass the time quicker than you would have thought. Get to the twenty mile mark and have something left because you conserved energy during the earlier miles;

6) Eat pasta the afternoon or night before the race, but don't eat too much;

7) You're probably going to sleep less the night before the marathon so rest a lot the day before the race. Don't spent the day walking around, cutting the lawn etc... Just vegetate and get some R and R on that day if you can.

8) This was specific for Tom, but you can adjust your times accordingly. He did some of his long runs at a 6:30 pace.  The 6:30 min/mile for long distance is pretty fast. That's a 2:50 marathon- a time that is difficult for even experienced young marathoners. I'd forget about that pace. Start out doing 7:35-7:45 min./mile and pick it up after 15 or 16 miles. That's a 3:16 marathon pace- not bad for a first time. If you can manage that and you have a lot left, try to run the last 10K in about 43 to 44 minutes. That's just over 7:00 min./mile pace. You'll negative split if you do that, which is always good.

9) As soon as you feel the need to pee, do it-don't wait. You'll save time in the long run by stopping.

10)For cooler fall marathons, wear tights if you have them, several coolmax layers on top, thin gloves, and a baseball cap. Old clothes can be shed if you get hot. Use Vaseline under your armpits, nipples and between your legs.

11) Borrow a more dependable car to get to the race if you can so that isn't a worry.  What I mean here is try to minimize anything that stresses you out prior to race day.

12) Take in fluids and gels every 30 minute or so during the race. It should be the stuff you've been practicing with-nothing new. Put some stuff you like in your pocket in case you want something and you're away from a water station.

Good luck!


Thursday, October 14, 2010

We Need a Group Name. Any Suggestions?

I've been visiting various blogs and leaving messages in hopes of creating a nice network of people who share a number of commons interests. Please don't be intimidated though if you're just starting in an area like running, mountain biking, writing or whatever it is that gets you feeling like a kid again. We all need to try new things or recapture that feeling. I know there are people out there like me that have had a desire to pursue something that they previously didn't have the time because of family commitments etc.. Why not take a chance and give it a shot now?

I'm in the process of thinking about changing careers. Let me know if you're having some of those same feelings.  There's a John Mayer song on his first CD, Room For Squares, called No Such Thing.  It talks about people pursuing "safe" areas for a career etc... Part of the lyrics uses the language "They love to tell you "stay inside the lines". But something's better on the other side."  It's taken me some time, but I'm finally fighting off the status quo. How about you?


Saturday, October 9, 2010

Trail Travels-Part 2

On the eve of the 2010 Hartford Marathon, I find myself drawn away from this race and toward the Airline Trail in Hebron, just off of Route 85.  This trail has some great features.  You can truly escape from your everyday hassles for a little while on this trail.

There's a beautiful wetland that the trail passes through right near the beginning of the course I run.  Down a little further, you pass over the Salmon River, a waterway protected by the Connecticut General Statutes. I believe the state built the bridge over the river. I plan on running out there tomorrow morning. I'll let you know all about my run later this weekend.


Unfortunately, I was unable to get to the Airline Trail due to time constraints. I did go to the Hop River Rail Trail though. I arrived at the trail on Saturday morning at 9:00 am.  The temperature was around 60 degrees F and it was sunny.  There were very few of the regular Sunday crowd. However, I was surprised by the number of cars in the parking lot. The vast majority of the people there were riding bikes.

As I was doing my pre-run stretches, a gentleman finished his walk. I recognized him once he neared the picnic table. His name is Ed. He is recuperating from shoulder surgery. His orthopedic surgeon is the same guy I used to repair my knees, Dr. Dan Veltri.  He admitted that it's been difficult being patient while his shoulder healed. But he didn't want to have another setback so he was following doctor's orders- no running for 4 months. I knew what he was going through but things could have been worse.

I said goodbye and headed off for my 6 mile run. My energy level was good. I quickly got into a rhythm and cruised along at a 7:57 min/mile pace for the first mile. Just after crossing over Tunnel Road, I picked up the pace a bit. This is where the pitch of the trail starts to rise. By the time I reached the 2 mile mark, I had covered the distance in 15: 52. My pace had increased slightly despite the incline. I thought about my friend, Gary, who's house is along the trail at the 1.5 mile mark. He has a full house now since his wife's daughter and her four kids moved in. I think, in spite of the obvious chaos that occurs when things like this happen, he's enjoying the company.

By the time I reached the three mile mark, I had seen numerous birds, several squirrels, a chipmunk, and four dogs. My time was 23:39, the same as last week. This is a 7:53 min/mile pace. Not bad for an uphill trail run.
On the return trip, I was able to shave off ten seconds from my time last week or 22:39. This is a 7:33 min/mile pace and I covered the last mile in 7:24. I briefly talked to a young female runner as she was preparing to start her run. I headed home about 10:00 am with a sense of accomplishment knowing that I just trimmed ten seconds off my PR for the return trip.

How was your last run/workout? I'm interested.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Remembering Co-workers/Running Friends

I've had the pleasure of knowing and running with a number of friends that have since passed on. Dave Cherico, Doug Zimmerman, Ron Waghorn and Stan Alexander are the subject of my post today. Dave is in the second row, second from the right (The guy pulling both my ears) and Doug is also in the second row, first from the left (The guy leaning to his left).

In particular, David Cherico, who was killed in a boating accident in his backyard back in 2001, was an especially good friend. We spent countless hours running different trails all around Eastern Connecticut. Dave had purchased a Connecticut trail guide, which we used to discover new trails and plan runs. We often ran on the trails at Soapstone Mountain and Gay City State Park because we lived fairly close to those areas. Dave was a co-worker of mine at the Connecticut DEP for many years, a Connecticut wildland firefighter, and an avid fisherman. From 2003 to 2005, I formed a relay team and we ran the Hartford Marathon in his memory.  I'm not ashamed to say that during that period Team Cherico finished 1st in their division 2 out of the 3 years and 2nd one year.

Dave and I had talked about submitting a letter with a photograph of one of our favorite spots to Runner's World to see if we could get our spot in the magazine section called "Rave Run." I haven't given up on that idea. It would be a nice tribute to him on the 10th anniversary of his death, in April, 2011.

Unfortunately, my small running group experienced another loss this year. Doug Zimmerman was a great guy and one of the comedians in our group too.  We also played softball together for a number of years. He always helped us keep things in perspective. Doug went out for a lunchtime run with several of us and died from what appears to have been some kind of a cardiac issue.   We actually ran together for the first 1.5 miles, but split off from him. The strange thing was that he showed no signs of any problem that day. We were goofing around the whole time until we split off. It would have been nice to pay tribute to him with a Team Cherico/Zimmerman relay team, but we couldn't get a team together because of vacations and injuries. We'll find a way to do it at another race.

Stan and Ron were two of the nicest guys you'd ever meet. Both Stan and Ron were good athletes. They also worked for the DEP for a number of years.

Stan loved basketball and played at a very high level while in the service and for years after locally. He was also a very good softball player and played for state and local teams for a number of years. He was one of the guys that helped me when I first started out at DEP. As one would expect, I had a lot to learn after starting work the day after Thanksgiving in 1980.  Stan was quick to give advice when you asked for help and had a good sense of humor. Unfortunately, he left DEP in 1986 for a job with a local consulting company. Stan died from stomach cancer in his early forties.

Ron was a very good runner, but his passion was cross country skiing.  He used to enter all types of ski races and did quite well from what I've  heard. I remember one year we met up and ran the the Manchester Road Race together. I really enjoyed running with him that year. He also organized relay teams and I was fortunate enough to race with him at Josh Billings and the Highland Lake races. Ron canoed with a friend and I ran for the team.  Ron died from a brain tumor in his early forties.

I think about these guys often, but especially when certain races come around each year.  I hope we all can stay healthy and keep this small running group together for a long time, even after we retire.

Do you have a group of friends that participate in activities together? Let me know.


Sunday, October 3, 2010

Trail Travels-Part 1

Every weekend I plan a run along one of the many trails in Eastern Connecticut. My favorite trail, which I'm most often on, is the Hop River Rail Trail that runs from Vernon into Andover and beyond. There's a number of great spots to park along the trail too. I usually park on the paved lot along the trail off of Church Street.

The Hop River Trail is only a mile or so from my house so it's the most convenient place for me. Plus, it's in great shape for walking, running, and biking. You can take a road bike on it too and not worry that you'll get a flat tire for most of it.  There's just one small section that does have gravel across it that you need to walk your road bike over near the lower Bolton Lake.

Anyway, I'm headed to the trail and all it offers. I'll let you know how it goes later today.


There were many cars in the lot when I reached the trail today, but still plenty of room for others. There was a large group of younger runners stretching and talking near the picnic table and shelter too. It was a local college running team preparing for a workout. I usually see them running towards me on the return leg of my out-and-back route. That made sense because I was a little behind schedule today.

I did my usual stretching routine and briefly chatted with one of the coaches as she was sitting at the picnic table with a laptop in front of her. No doubt she was preparing to log in details of today's workout. She said that the team liked this trail and that they had a nice 12 mile loop to do. She went on to say that they sometimes run further though.

I noticed sitting on a bench near the picnic table some other frequent Sunday morning runners. In particular, I noticed this one tall guy with short hair and an Abe Lincoln-type beard. I know he's fast. He runs with a group of people that train for the Hartford Marathon.

The day was overcast and  the temperature was about 60 degrees with a slight wind. I started out at a fairly steady pace (7:58 mins./mile) for the first 2 miles when I passed two older ladies walking. They're always out walking every Sunday. Good for them. I said hello and continued on towards Valley Falls Park, which is north of the trail, down a steep hill. The trail was covered with red, orange, yellow and green leaves. The storm yesterday brought down quite a few leaves and branches.

I like the fact that the trail has quarter mile markers, which help you gauge the pace when you're running. On the way out, it's a gradual uphill  slope. That's okay with me because this allows you to push yourself in the beginning and negative split the run on the way back.

At the 3 mile mark, I stopped and turned around. I planned to only do 6 miles today. I'm still nursing my left knee, which I have arthritis in.  I felt pretty good though. I reached that mark in 23:39-a 7:53 pace. There were a lot of people walking this morning. One younger kid was even riding a skateboard on the trail.

The return trip was good, although I didn't feel quite as strong as I did last week. My knee didn't bother me at all. I covered the last 3 miles in 22:51- a 7:37 pace (my splits: 7: 53, 7:42, 7:16). Not too bad.


Sunday, September 26, 2010

Wells versus City Water, Septic Systems versus Sewers

 I'll never buy a house with a drinking water well and a septic system. Well, that's my position at this point in life. And why do you suppose I'm against wells and septic systems? Wells provide some of the highest quality drinking water and septic systems can be carefully designed to accommodate even difficult sites. Also, there's no monthly water and sewer bills to pay. I know I just ruled out some fantastic properties and homes out in rural parts of the country.   But I'm okay with that and here's why.

Private drinking water wells can easily get contaminated with chemicals. Keep in mind that standard well testing for homes doesn't typically include analyses for all chemicals of concern. For example, agricultural activities can introduce pollutants like pesticides, nitrogen, phosphorus, and bacteria into the groundwater. Industrial and commercial activities can contribute things like benzene, toluene, xylenes, trichlorethylene, ethylene dibromide (EDB), methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE), heavy metals, and cyanide into the groundwater from spills and other things. Storm water off roads and highways can be a source of elevated sodium and chloride from road salt, two pollutants of concern for people with blood pressure issues.  Another issue with a well is that when the power goes off, a water pump won't work unless you have a back up power source like a generator. The well system needs to be maintained too and that costs money and time when things break down.

Regarding septic systems, I grew up in a house that had one.  Our property was located at the bottom on a small hill. I lost track of how many times the system got backed up because the groundwater table was so high we couldn't flush the toilets. Also, a septic tank needs to be cleaned out once every two to three years. And to get to the tank, someone has to dig up the ground to find the cover. God forbid you need to do it in the winter. Although if you can't remember where the cover is and there's snow on the ground, the heat from the septic tank will diminish the depth of the snow over the tank, making it easier to find.

With city water and sewer, I don't have to worry about pollutants in and around the neighborhood polluting the drinking water and a septic tank backing up. When the power goes out, I can still get as much water as I need and continue to flush the toilet whenever I want.  I don't have to dig up my backyard or worry about getting a septic tank pumped out. Also, I feel comfortable knowing that the water I do get from the water company is regularly tested for many pollutants and has been treated to remove organics, inorganics and bacteria. The peace of mind I get from the water and sewer services is "well" worth the cost.

So the next time you're in the market for a new home, think about what I shared here. I hope it helps.

Also, I'd be interested to hear what you think about this post.  Am I being short-sighted?
Let me know.



Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Cricket

About a week ago, I was sitting in my family room watching TV when a chirping sound started coming from inside the room. Now it's not that unusual for me to find crickets in my garage. And some do squeeze under the door and enter the family room from time to time.

This cricket had an incredibly loud chirp that drowned out even the sound of the TV. After about a minute or so, I decided that it either didn't like the show I was watching or wanted my attention.  So I slowly got up and starting looking for it. It took me about a minute to find it.  It was about four feet off the ground on a small ledge of a wall ornament. I could have squished it, but I didn't.  I then grabbed a tissue and trapped it inside. Besides the chirping expertise, this cricket had one additional unique characteristic.  It only had one hind leg.

I carefully carried the tissue outside and released it on my deck. It hopped away as if it had two good legs. I was really surprised  by that.

About one week later, as I was letting one of my dogs out to go potty, I saw the same cricket again. It was hopping across the deck and almost got eaten by my dog.

You're probably wondering where I'm going with this cricket thing. My point is that everyone at some time or another feels like a wounded cricket. I know it sounds a bit odd, but I think we all can learn something from this little guy. No matter what life sends you, try to figure out a way to not dwell on things for too long and get on with living. Also, if you see someone wounded, provide that tissue or keep the dogs at bay. You just might be surprised how it helps that person or how good you feel after doing it.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Running after Fifty

I've been running for about thirty years now and things are getting increasingly more difficult. But I'm a firm believer that as you age it's best to follow that old saying "Less is more". I don't mean you should stop running or working out. I think you have to moderate your training by using cross-training to make up for those extra runs that you used to take. I used to run 5 to 6 days a week for a total of 35-45 miles. My body just can't take the wear and tear of that anymore. So I now run 3 to 4 times a week and mix in 1 to 2 mountain bike rides on rail trails. I prefer being out in the woods rather than on the roads competing with traffic. I also would like to mix in some weight lifting 2 times a week, but I haven't been disciplined enough lately.

I also have developed a routine where I run at work during my lunch. We have a small group of runners that run at lunch and two showers in the basement to clean up after. Then I run 5 to 6 miles on either Saturday or Sunday, depending on my schedule. The key for me is to not think too much about it and run early on the weekend before something gets in the way or you get tired.

Happy running and writing

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

First Night at this Blogger Thing

I'm a member of SCBWI, which stands for the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators. I have to thank Abigail Beal for the nice article she wrote in the SCBWI's July/August Bulletin about blogging. It got me motivated to do it. Plus, she talks about doing freelance blogging and actually making some money doing it. Excuse my layout. I need to spend some time improving it.