Sunday, December 14, 2014

It's Been A While

... since I posted on this blog.  We've moved from one house to another, and that whole project has higher priority than blogging and, apparently, higher even than running.

We're settled into the new home now, though, even if still a little tight. There are boxes not yet unpacked, but the good news is that there are a few drawers and shelves not yet filled. Here's hoping it will all come out even - a substantial downsizing is involved!

We have run exactly three times since the MEC Vancouver Marathon on November 16. That's four weeks with three runs. Tsk. Hopefully tomorrow.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014:

We ran for about 50 minutes along the piers in San Francisco. I ran more than half of the time, probably at an average run/walk pace of about 12 minutes/mile, so maybe four miles.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014:

About 2 1/2 miles in the Stillwater Bubble (soccer dome).  This is a little better than running on a treadmill, because we do occasionally see a friend or two.  No TV though.

Monday, November 24, 2014:

About 3 miles in the Stillwater Bubble.

Monday, November 17, 2014

MEC Vancouver Marathon Review

Sunday, November 16, 2014:

This is a low-budget marathon where everything is easy.  Register online for $25 CAD, show up, and run.  Marathon number 85 since my myeloma diagnosis, in 5:46:44, about eight minutes faster than the most recent marathon in Ottawa.

This was my second race in Canada, again supporting Nelson Wiebe, an Edmonton college student who is running five marathons this year in honor of his aunt, diagnosed with myeloma in 2010, to increase awareness of myeloma in Canada and to raise money for Myeloma Canada (  He passed me three times in the race, greeted me at the finish, and we did a little press interview together after the finish.  He's my hero.

The Marathon:


  • It's entirely on a trail atop a dike (dyke in Canadian) along the shore of the Strait of Georgia and whatever river goes east past the airport from that strait.  It's a lovely venue; 
  • Runners never EVER competed with vehicle traffic and no police were required or in evidence; 
  • The race included at least 3 aid stations (maybe four?), which marathoners encountered four times during the race.  These were kept open for the very last runner (which happened to be me); 
  • Everyone was happy, cheerful, helpful, and supportive, just as you would expect Canadians to be;
  • The half marathon was an out-and-back on the dike, while the full marathon was two of those.  That's fine with me when it means we don't compete with vehicle traffic.
  • The dike trail is about as flat as a race can get.
Possible improvement for next year (this was the first year for the marathon distance):  Charge a little more for the race and give finishers a medal.  After 26 miles we deserve one.  Actually, I have no complaint here - I got a medal for some reason, perhaps because I'm old, or the last finisher.  I'm happy.

I would do this marathon again in a heartbeat.

My Race:
  • The chilly weather was a concern, as the temperature at the start was about 28 degrees.  I wore running pants, though, and four layers above, so I was quite comfortable once underway.
  • As the temperature rose into the low 40's and the rising sun provided additional warmth, I shed one layer after another, ending up with just a long-sleeved technical shirt.
  • During the race I took five gels, six or seven salt tablets, and plenty of water.  I also needed quite a few nature breaks, which seems to be an issue in recent marathons.  I bet I spent 12 - 15 minutes in the porta-potties. The water may exacerbate that problem, but without it I would probably cramp up more.
  • Cramping in my calves is often a problem, but less so today - it appeared only in the last mile or so.  I did have a little pain in the middle of both knees, which I attribute to the chilly weather.  Further, my feet got a little sore on the bottom, probably caused by the crushed-gravel trail surface.  The worst problem, though, was a pain on the outside of the left knee, probably the ITB, caused by the constant slight slope of the trail.  It wasn't a stopper, and I can work on that - there are stretches that I should do. 
  • In the previous race I felt a pain in the right tibia, a little down from the knee and to the medial side.  I did see my sports doctor about this a few weeks ago, and he is convinced that the pain is not actually in the tibia but in a spot on the tibia where three ligaments meet.  It's not an uncommon problem, and he basically said that I can keep running without any specific treatment for as long as I can handle the pain.  This pain did not appear today.  Yay.
Splits in km: 7:49, 7:33, 8:14, 7:26, 7:49, 10:20 (natural break), 7:25, 7:48, 7:20, 10:45 (natural break), 17:03 (2 km), 7:14, 7:25, 7:27, 10:22 (natural break), 7:54, 7:23, 8:32, 7:38, 16:33 (2 km), 7:46, 8:24, 15:52 (2 km), 8:14, 7:56, 8:18, 7:52, 8:10, 18:03 (2 km & natural break), 7:51, 7:53, 8:03, 8:35, 8:44, 8:41, 8:38, 8:46, 8:55, total 5:46:44, overall pace 8:13 min/km.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Ottawa Fall Colours Marathon Review

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Oops - I wrote this on the plane trip back from Ottawa and then forgot to post it.  In fact, it's been so long since I posted anything that I've almost forgotten how.

This marathon lives up to its name.  We lucked out with the weather too, cool and sunny all day, so the trees were at their most spectacular.  I got a few cell-phone shots.

I finished my 84th marathon since the diagnosis of myeloma, in 5 hours, 54 minutes, and 37 seconds, about 12 minutes faster than my 83rd marathon, last week.  I was first in my age group, but also alone in my age group.  I figure that I beat all of the old guys who sat in their easy chairs watching football, eating chips, and drinking beer.  Actually I drank beer too, afterward, but I earned it the old fashioned way.

This was my first race in Canada, and I was here in support of Nelson Wiebe, an Edmonton college student who is running marathons this year in honor of his aunt, diagnosed with myeloma in 2010, to increase awareness of myeloma in Canada and to raise money for Myeloma Canada (  We had met the day before, in a photo shoot for the Ottawa Sun newspaper, and he passed me twice in the race, once in each direction, and also greeted me at the finish.

Sixteen marathons remain in the quest for 100 marathons with myeloma.  Also, this was my first province.  There are ten, plus three territories.  Hmmm.  Travel to and from Canada is not quite as easy as within the U.S., with all of the immigration and customs, but what if we tried to collect a few more provinces?

The Marathon:

I can't recommend this one highly enough.  It's a very small marathon, just 75 finishers this year, but the half marathon is larger, and the whole race is organized as well as any of the big ones.  It's simply a no-hassle event:

  • The fall color was simply exquisite.  Scrumptious.  I stopped several times to take cell-phone photos.
  • The time limit is 5 hours, but they provided a timed 1-hour early start for runners like me.
  • Even though I took the early start, aid stations were manned when I got there, and there were plenty of them.
  • Organization of the race was flawless.
Canadians are known to be polite (mostly true, it seemed) but I was also impressed at how friendly and caring they were in this race.  In the USA it's fairly common for runners meeting each other to give a little encouragement, but here it was the rule.  The race was out-and-back, so we met every other runner at least once, and there was always a nod, or thumbs up, or salute, or grin, or "Doin' great," "Keep it up," "Nice job."

My Race:

I ran a marathon in Portland just a week ago, and that caught up to me in two ways in this race: (1) I experienced a lot of cramping in the last miles (kilometers), and (2) after about halfway, I began to feel a pain in the upper right tibia, slightly toward the medial side and perhaps an inch and a half down from the knee joint.

Cramps are a recurring problem.  This time I brought a magnesium capsule, 125 mg, and took that when the cramps started to slow me down, but that didn't help.  I took plenty of salt - maybe too much?  I was thirsty some of the time, despite the cool weather and an abundance of aid stations, so maybe there is such a thing as too much salt.

The bone pain may be shin splints, or less likely, something more serious.  I do have a cancer that attacks bones.  Shin splints often show up when an athlete increases stress on the legs significantly in a short time - I think two marathons in a week might qualify.  I need to find out, so I will start with my sports doctor and go from there.

Except for those little problems, I had a lovely time out there, cool throughout, starting with three shirts and ending up with just one short-sleeved shirt.  The others I left in the car at the halfway point.

Normally I would put my splits here, but the Canadian race was measured in KM rather than miles, making it 42 KM, and I forgot that my watch would only log 30 splits, so it didn't retain the last 12 KM or so.  Maybe I need a new watch.  (See the next post.)

Monday, October 06, 2014

Portland Marathon Review

It is a good marathon.  We three ran it nine years ago, and were delighted to find that it catered to runners and walkers of any speed.  That has not changed.  The course itself may not be the most picturesque, but the organization definitely makes up for it.

My Race:

With another marathon just a week from now, and some recent hamstring injuries, I didn't want to push very hard today.  I used a run/walk ratio of one to five, running just 30 footfalls for each 150 walking.  In training that had given me a pace of 12:30 to 13:00, plenty fast enough to finish a marathon in six hours.  It worked well enough in the race too, and in fact I deliberately slowed  in the last miles, finishing my 83rd marathon in 6:06:20, 13th of 28 in my age group.  This was a warm race and I had no need to hurry.

Because of injuries over the summer, and a bout of pneumonia, I had not been able to do a genuine long run since our last marathon in May, so I was concerned about being able to finish at all - sometimes my calves cramp up in the last miles.  Not today, though.  I took plenty of water and salt, and this time I even brought some magnesium capsules along in case of cramps, though I didn't use them.  All is well - bring on the Ottawa Marathon!

Portland Marathon Good Stuff:

  • Finish times are long enough that a marathoner can stroll the 26 miles, same with the half.
  • There WERE enough porta-potties along the way, even after the marathon split from the half.  That's rare.
  • Even at my 6:06 finish, there was plenty of food left.
  • It's a big race - note 28 ancient guys in just my 70-74 age group - but everyone got off and running within 20 minutes of the start.
  • With one exception there were plenty of water stops, all well supplied with water, ultima, and volunteers.
  • I loved the music!  We have run several Rock N Roll marathons, and this marathon beat them all hollow.  I heard "Blue Moon," and "Happy Wanderer," music with an actual tune in addition to a beat, and not so over-amplified that I had to cover my tender old ears.  By far the best music of any of my 83 marathons.  Go Portland!
  • At the finish, everyone gets a long-stemmed rose to enjoy and a tree to plant.

Other Stuff:

  • My sweeties were disappointed that the organizers actually ran out of half-marathon finishers' shirts.  The shirts will be mailed, but how does that happen when the half marathon reached its registration limit months ago?  Oops.
  • There was plenty of water on the course, but this was a warm race, approaching 80 degrees, and none of the water was cold, nor was there any ice.  There were a few sprinklers for marathoners, but sprinklers mean wet feet, possibly blisters, so I avoid them.
  • More than nine miles of the marathon, and at least five miles of the half marathon are in industrial areas, mostly manufacturing plants, warehouses, and railroads.  This was almost the same course that we ran nine years ago, so it probably won't be changing any time soon, but it certainly doesn't show Portland at its best.  I wish we could see more downtown, more waterfront, even more residential areas.

But never mind my complaining, I had a good time and enjoyed the marathon.  Organization is great, with legions of cheerful volunteers, and I would recommend the Portland Marathon to anyone, especially a first-timer.

Splits: 26:44 (2 mi), 13:43, 13:03, 29:02 (major nature break, 2 mi), 12:29, 38:17 (3 mi), 16:35 (another nature break), 11:53, 13:12, 13:30, 13:15, 13:40, 15:57 (uphill), 14:54 (nature break), 13:18, 14:03, 14:09, 28:01 (2 mi), 30:38 (2 mi), 19:53 (1.22 mi), total 6:06:20, pace 13:58.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Short Long Run

I ran & walked 10 miles today, my longest run in quite a while and my "long run" for the next marathon, three weeks hence.

We ran on the Gateway Trail, where I have experienced two of my recent three hamstring injuries.  No injury today!  I would like to do a longer long run, but there isn't time.  From now until the marathon I will do shorter runs, hoping to avoid any more injuries.

I hope to finish in less than six hours, so here's my calculation: If I were to walk at a pace of 15 minutes per mile, that's four miles per hour, and in six hours I would get to mile 24.  But if I run one of those six hours at 10 minutes per mile, or 6 miles per hour, then after six hours I would be at mile 26.  That's exactly what I did today, except for only two hours and six minutes.  I walked for 50 triplets (3 paces), and then ran for 10.  The result was an average pace of 12:40, significantly quicker than the 13:44 needed to make six hours, which means that the walking was faster than expected, or the running, or both.  That's good - I'll probably slow down toward the end of the race.

I haven't posted here since August 24, mostly because there are big things happening in our lives right now, good things, but they take precedence over blogging.  We do keep running, though - in that time I have run 43 miles, not including today, and biked a bunch more.

Splits: 12:22, 13:00, 12:27, 12:20, 12:24, 24:37 (2 mi), 13:15, 13:36, 12:43, total 2:06:43, pace 12:40

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Three Miles Running

Walking and running, that is.  Again we went out early, to avoid the muggy heat.  I did my 1 to 3 run / walk, this time 3.17 miles on the paved trails, in 40:11, for a pace of 12:41.  That's slightly slower than two days ago, but still plenty fast enough to finish a marathon in six hours even with nature breaks.

No complaint from the injured right hamstrings today, or from anywhere else for that matter.  No whining!

So the plan now is to run every other day, doing an easy 1 to 3 run/walk like this, but gradually increasing the distance.  On the alternate days, or many of them, a nice bike ride will provide the cardio exercise that I need.  Nearly every day, I will also do a set of hamstring stretches and resistance exercises designed to increase strength and resilience.  That's the plan.

Saturday, August 23, 2014


Friday, August 22, 2014:

I did a 1 to 3 run/walk today, just 2.07 miles like Wednesday.  This time the right hamstrings ached just a little for the first minute or two, then went silent, cooperating fully.  That's a good thing!

2.07 miles in 25:48, pace 12:28, equivalent to a 5:27 marathon if sustained.  Considering nature breaks and maybe a chat with a spectator or two, this would be a good pace for finishing a marathon in six hours.

I saw the sports doctor today, to discuss the recent frequent hamstring injuries.  He thought that the Levaquin was still a possible contributor to the problem, but in any case he really couldn't diagnose the cause.  Instead, he suggested a path forward, knowing that we do have a marathon scheduled in six weeks.  He gave me a schedule for regular stretches and hamstring strengthening exercises, and I will follow that plan.

Stretches and exercises most every day, with running or biking on alternate days, the running graduating slowly to longer and longer distances.  I hope that plan works - I was going to do the alternating bike / run anyway, but the stretching and strengthening may make the difference.

In other doctor news - yesterday morning the Mayo Clinic pronounced my cancer stable again, and in the afternoon my local primary care provider, after a chest x-ray, reported that my latest pneumonia was entirely gone.  Yay!

Wednesday, August 20:

We got up earlier than usual and I got the day started with a cool bike ride.  That felt great.  7.06 miles in 32:20, for a pace of 4.58 min/mi, or 13.1 mph.  This route is somewhat hilly - I think I could go quite a lot farther on the bike if I rode a little slower, say 12 mph, on a flatter road or trail.

Tuesday, August 19:

First run since the Aug 14 right-hamstring injury.  I did a short 2.07-mile run/walk, with a 1 to 3 ratio, trying not to annoy that hamstring.  It did ache a little, and it ached even a little more later in the day.  I probably should have stopped when the ache was apparent, but anyway I don't think I set it back much.  I'll skip another day (ride bike instead) before trying again.

I didn't time the run, but I suppose it was about 13 minutes/mile.