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Friday, January 21, 2011

Red Bandana: Don't Let Age Cause You To Scream

Read this week's column: Get Fired Up for Fitness This Winter

As I write, Jimi Hendrix's cover of Albert King's song "Born Under a Bad Sign" plays in the background. I don't recommend it for running. It grooves, it moves, it sways, this tune from the guy who is more famous for "Purple Haze," changes pace too often to work.

It is, let me say, perfect for BBQing. The BBQing I'm doing now isn't really BBQing or even grilling. I'm just warming up smoked spare ribs I picked up at Bende's Specialty Foods in Glen Ellyn, IL. Though nationally famous for their salami, smoked sausage, smoked meats, this location is a small grocery store/deli with a full range of imported European foods (address and phone number below).

The ribs are richly smoked. I am going to slather on a tomato-based sauce and see if a new afternoon snack can be found.

What I'm thinking about though is neither Jimi nor ribs. I'm tossing out a salute to Jermaine Townes, a 39-year-old Desert Storm veteran who just made the College of DuPage basketball team. Though 6-foot 4-inch and 200-pounds, he is still 39. More importantly, he's unafraid of getting into shape. The youngin' on the team might run circles around him. They have nicknamed him "Old School."

I'm laughing. "Old School," you see, is five years younger than me. If he's "Old School" then I must be older school. I know that no matter how it I get, any college kid will lap me in a one lap race.

So what?

So what, nothing. Townes likes basketball, and though he might not be on the starting line, he is playing something he loves and getting fit in the process. Way to go Jermaine!

How old are you? Too old to get in shape? Stop that. That's old people talk. Be young, always, even you old people. Chronology will happen, and things will be slower than they used to be. Age is age is age. But, attitude is the better part of age. Respecting our bodies certainly includes careful warming up, walking when necessary, and resting aggressively. It also means never quitting, always exercising, and always knowing when to when at the dessert table. Don't pretend to be 20 if you aren't, but don't acquiesce to a mindset of "too old to" either.

So get out there all you old schoolers. Break out the ugly gray sweats, the 1984 black LOOP t-shirt with holes in it, and an faded red bandana. Load up your iPod with songs too old for the oldies station. Get together with a friend who is equally aging. As your ancient bodies lumber down the sidewalk, feel free to discuss those important questions: Should Ron Santo be in the Hall of Fame? Willis, Sears, Macy's, Fields — does it matter? What's the best hot dog joint in Chicago, and what's a Chicago dog, anyway?

Sort these concerns out while you run. The kids at the college won't have a clue what you are talking about.

Sure, body parts will groan, creak and moan. You probably will too. How great you will feel the next day, and the day after that, as you continue to work through the stiffness of middle age — that's why you are out there. You can do it.

By the way, I tried the ribs with a favorite sauce. Salty and chewy the way a beef jerky is, and I'm not sure it is the snack I hoped for. The very friendly and helpful Trixi behind the counter explained to me most people use it a soup ingredient. It will instead go into tonight's lentil soup. I think I will stick with Bende's extremely delicious Teli salami as afternoon finger food. Try their free samples.

Running Playlist Song of the Week
"The Wind Cries Mary" by Jimi Hendrix
Not all playlist songs need to be fast paced. This is especially true for the long run, sometime in those middle miles when a runner is cruising through. Already warmed up, and looking to maintain a steady, easier pace, I find I like to get lost in an old, familiar song.

Hendrix's sad song of lost love is best followed by something upbeat, but at mile four or five, give it a try.

"Will the wind ever remember
The names it has blown in the past
And with his crutch, it's old age, and it's wisdom
It whispers no, this will be the last
And the wind cries Mary."

Bende's Specialty Foods
444 Roosevelt Rd
Glen Ellyn, IL 60137-5642
(630) 469-6525

Old school freelance writer Anthony Trendl loves BBQs, folk music and porches. I look to running as I battle midlife and my mid-section. Contact me to send your favorite tips, songs, recipes. See
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The Red Bandana: Finding Fitness Through the Joy of Running

The Scream, c.1893 Poster Print by Edvard Munch, 24x36

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