2016 Recap

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I’m only recapping 2016 because it is pretty universally agreed that the year sucked. It seems like one of those times in history that somebody may ask me what it was like in the moment. Like “How great was it to experience 1969?” Or “How terrible was 1929 or 1941 or 2001?”

It seems like the negative sentiment is driven mostly by the enormous number of celebrity deaths and fatigue from the presidential election cycle, which was even worse for the half (actually 80%) that didn’t vote for Donald Trump. It will be interesting a generation from now to see how 2016 is remembered.

But how was 2016 for me? The celebrity deaths barely register for me. A buddy of mine seems to take every death like a punch to the gut. I don’t want to be that impacted, but I always feel weird that I basically have no feeling other than the occasional “That’s a shame.” As much as I like Reggie Jackson, Paul McCartney, Allen Iverson and Larry David, when they die I don’t expect to mope around because of it. They are all strangers to me. The only famous stranger that may bum me out is when John Sterling dies. But he’s almost not a stranger since I probably hear his voice more often than most of my family’s.

As for the election, well, it sucked. I expected Hillary to skate in untouched. I didn’t count on the press needing a close race, so they gave Trump a pass on everything and blew up anything they could find on Hillary. So much for the “liberal” media. This election made it clear that more than any ideology, the press wants a story. Besides the media, I also didn’t count on the FBI and Russia picking sides either. Oh, and I forgot we don’t live in a democracy…thank electoral college!

Not that Hillary is my ideal candidate – I think that she would’ve been fine as President – she is definitely qualified and capable. The problem is Trump. He is the least experienced President ever. And he’s so soft. He probably has the thinnest skin of anybody that has had his level of success.

Trump’s unpredictability makes him a huge risk. But maybe that means there is a slim chance that he surprises me in a good way. Let’s put it this way, the possible outcomes under a Ted Cruz presidency would’ve been narrow, but all terrible. For Trump it’s probably wider than anybody else. Yes, the down side is frighteningly bad, but maybe he flip-flops into an acceptable result.

As for me, well, a Trump presidency is a lot like the celebrity deaths – I’m not going to let it impact me. My favorite quote is this tweet:

Whether we’re talking about god or Trump, I can relate it the same. I am going to continue to work hard, succeed and take care of myself and my family. Neither god nor President Trump is going to dissuade me. I do feel bad for those that this becomes an obstacle for. Unfortunately all I can recommend is work harder, change the system, and vote in 2020.

The rest of 2016 wasn’t that bad. I started playing softball again this spring. I also ran my fastest 5k ever at 23:36. I took some great vacations too.

New York City
https://jeffgirgenti.wordpress.com/2016/03/03/pops-70/

Pittsburgh
https://jeffgirgenti.wordpress.com/2016/04/17/pittsburgh/

New England

OCNJ
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Disney
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And the best part of 2016 is that we booked our trip to Italy…

…wait, does is a 2017 trip OK to count? If not, well, at least 2017 already looks promising!

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Independence Day

I always say that Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, but Independence Day has a lot going for it every year…might be a strong # 2.

Dave and Col always host a BBQ. In addition to it being July 4th, the 3rd is Moms birthday and the 4th is Marie’s. This year the BBQ was actually on the 3rd, but close enough. We always have a fun time with the family.

The morning of July 4 is the Annual Marlton Mayor’s Cup 5k run. This year I set a new personal best at 23:36. I was very excited. I had hopes that I would finish in the top 3 for my age group but there were a lot of good runners this year.marltonmayorscup2016_web Last year my time would’ve been good enough, but this year it wasn’t. I was still very happy with the time though. It’s funny, I don’t know what anybody else is thinking, but I definitively know that I take this as a serious competition. I was nervous at the beginning. And near the end when I was passed by an older looking guy I was sizing him up trying to determine if he was in my age group. Not wanting to take any chances I sprinted to the finish line. The last thing I want is to finish fourth by 1 second and miss out on a dollar store medal. It’s so stupid, but for some reason it matters in my head.

Nathans Hot Dog Eating ContestAt noon I watched the Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest with Julia. Pam and Susie are disgusted by it. But we love it. It has become our little 4th of July tradition. It is such a spectacle and so ridiculous that we can’t help but being entertained. I had two favorite moments:

Then because of the holiday there was afternoon Yankees game. I love baseball, especially weekday afternoons. I listened to the game while I cleaned up the basement – something I have been trying to get to for a couple months. I don’t necessarily like organizing the basement, but when a project like that is complete I always feel such a sense of accomplishment. It’s a meaningless task, but I’m so satisfied that I got to delete it off my To Do List. The Yanks lost, but it was still a great day.

Marlton Mayor’s Cup 5k Run

I ran in the annual Marlton Mayor’s Cup 5k Run today. The highlights:
-24:58…beating my 27:31 in Marlton Lakes Summer 5K by 2:33
-I finished 156 out of 639. That was 116 out of 346 men and 8 out of 35 in my gender/age group.
-Having said all that, my time was actually better than that. It seems that they only chip the finishing time. Everyone gets the same starting time. Which kind of sucks because I started back behind a slow pack.
-There were all kinds of people lining the course cheering us on. Some were ringing cow bells and stuff. That was pretty neat.
-The course had clocks at the 1 mile and 2 mile marks. The first one had a guy standing next to it and I gave him a thumbs up because I was happy to pass it before it struck 8:00. At the second it wasn’t 16:00 yet and I gave myself a few claps. I think I’m going to do that from now on. It’s like a little celebration in the middle of the event.
-They had water set up on the course. I ran right past the first one because I didn’t realize it was a run-and-drink thing. I didn’t want to stop and drink. But when I realized people were just throwing their cups I was disappointed I missed it. I was ready for the second one…but not good at it. I think the water went down the wrong pipe and I had a bit of a coughing fit. I probably lost a couple seconds.
-I set up a play list on my old iPod so that every 2 songs was about 9:00. I figured that would pace me based on my time in the Marlton Lakes Summer 5K. Well, I ran faster than my play list! I have it reset for my next 5k so that every 2 songs is about 8:00.
-A couple days ago I said to Pam that someone should make ear buds that clip to your ears. I have the over ear ones, but even they fall off. When I’m home I just wear a sweatband and cover the tops of my ears (like a muff!) so that they don’t fall off. I did this in the Marlton Lakes Summer 5K as well. I probably looked ridiculous, but it didn’t matter too much there because I didn’t really have people running around me. Anyway, I popped on amazon and found pretty much what I envisioned! So I ordered them, but the arrival date was estimated at next week. Amazingly they came 2 days ago…that never happens! I wore them today and they were great!
-Because I was more prepared for the finish this time, I really sprinted the last 200 or 300 meters. That sprint hurt…took me 10 seconds to catch my breath after I finished, but I’m glad I did it because it got me under 25:00.
-The rest of the race I felt good for. I don’t think I was wheezing, just heavy breathing, but I may take my inhaler before racing again. Between that, the water fail, and the chip start I probably could’ve finished around 24:30…which would’ve put me in 3rd place for my gender/age group. I could’ve medaled again! Next year I’m on the front starting line.

Marlton Lakes Summer 5K

A couple weeks ago I was invited to join Nextdoor.com for the Sanctuary. It’s a good way to keep up with what’s going on in the neighborhood. As part of it people can also post stuff from nearby neighborhoods. Last night someone from Marlton Lakes posted that they were having their Summer 5K this morning. I was planning on going to CrossFit this morning anyway, but this seemed like an interesting thing to try.

I don’t know if I’ve ever run 5K before. I run on the treadmill every morning (well, now only a couple mornings a week since I started CrossFit), but don’t really believe the readout. It normally takes me almost 11:00 to run a mile. But that doesn’t seem right to me. I am really hoofing it. If my pace is really 11:00 than a 4:00 mile is impossible…I don’t care what the world record holder says. So maybe I’m running the equivalent of 5K every morning but don’t even know it.

One time last year during our annual Ocean City vacation, I also went for a run there. I was bored being awake each morning waiting for the family to get ready. So one morning I went out. I think that was the first time I ran outdoors. It pretty much sucked. It was a hot, sun beating Aug day. Plus it was before I knew about my asthma so I was wheezing pretty early into the run. I was so unprepared for what I was doing that I lost track of distance and time. I bet I ran 5 miles by accident that morning.

So today was the first legit one for me. I got there early because I didn’t know what to expect. I asked the guy running it if the course was marked because I didn’t know if I was going to be so far behind that I wouldn’t have anyone to follow. It was a small field – only 20 people – so if the other 19 were any good, I definitely was going to be behind.

When it was time to line up I went to the back of the pack. I know this is my first time, so I’m definitely going to be slower than everyone else. They fire the “GO” and I start running. Four people who lined up front took off like a shot. But everyone else was slow…to the point that I had to fight my way around them a minute in. Once I got separation I pretty much only saw 3 people the rest of the course. There was a woman a bit of the ways in front of me, another woman right in front of me, and an older guy behind me. We were the second four and eventually finished 2nd woman, old guy, me, and 1st woman.

But let’s not jump to the finish just yet. The most interesting part of my run was the markers. The event planner didn’t tell me about the markers, so they should’ve been a pleasant surprise. Except that when I saw the “1” about 9 minutes into the race, I assumed it was “kilometer 1”. We were after all running a 5K and the “K” in 5K stands for kilometer, right? So I kind of freaked. Damn it, the treadmill is right! I am slow. More running and no “2”. Maybe I missed it. There better be a “3” soon. What’s that…a “2”?!? Argh! It took this long to run 2 kilometers?!? Maybe that Ocean City run wasn’t an anomaly and it really is just tougher to run outside. This sucks. More running. A person working the course! I ask as I run by “Are the markers kilometers?” “You are running a 5K.” Thanks…she was no help at all. I see the last straightaway to the Start/Finish and then a “3” marker. Are these miles? Or do we have to do the whole course twice??? I run through the Finish and a lady yells out my bib #. “841!” Hmmm…she wouldn’t do that if it wasn’t over, right? Just to be sure, I yell out “Do we go around twice?” Everybody laughs because they think I’m being funny. OK, then. I’m finished! Time: 27:31.

So I go to the organizer guy. He congratulates me on a good run for a first time out. I tell him the markers through me off. He says, “this is America, we measure in miles.” “Yeah, but it’s a 5K.” “Well, in Europe they would mark it in kilometers.” “Yes, but it’s a 5K here.” “But we mark in miles in America.” He kept saying this stuff so matter of fact like it made sense. It doesn’t. And anyone who thinks it makes sense to blend different measurements together like this is wrong.

Anyway, the rest of the runners finish over the next 10 minutes. I didn’t think I did anything special, but I finished 7th overall out of 20 people. I doubt the 13 I beat were all first timers. Maybe none of them were. Maybe they’re just terrible runners. I don’t know…it didn’t seem that difficult. Well, at least once I learned that I was running miles.

My time was the second best for my gender’s age group (2 out of 4). I got a silver medal! It’s dumb, but neat. I won’t seek out another 5K. I would do something like this again only because it was convenient to my home. But I think most of my future running will be back on my treadmill with the inaccurate readout…which actually isn’t as bad as mile long kilometers.
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