Tuesday, January 30, 2007

20 Miles, 1080 Corners

NSP Community Center indoor track 20 miles in 2:58:15, pace 8:55. 270 laps around the track, all in the same direction, that’s 1080 corners. Uff-da. I’d so much rather run outdoors, but in this cold I’m a little afraid to run long.

This was about as fast as I could run today. In the last mile I tried to put the pedal down, but the engine just didn’t respond. Not a very good time, but I beg to be excused after a full marathon race two weeks ago and a half marathon race three days ago. Today’s objective was to put in the time and distance for a long run in preparation for our next marathon a little less than three weeks from now. I’m declaring it a success.

The good news is I FEEL GREAT now. Full of the euphoria from a nice run, muscles feel used up, but it’s a good feeling. I’ll sleep well tonight. Friend Norm showed up today to run, on his lunch break. We’ve never before bumped into each other at the Community Center track, because I always run in the morning. But today I ran through the noon hour, and what a pleasure it was to have someone to run and chat with, from miles 8 through 12. He did me the favor of slowing to my pace, and we walked a lap or two together as he cooled down. Also Eagle Momma and Sweet Pea were running today, and though we go at different speeds I pass them every few minutes and their presence does help ease the boredom.

The other good news is that the thalidomide-induced neuropathy didn’t appear today. Or, if it did, it was so subdued that I can’t be sure it was there. I’m saying it wasn’t, but I will try to see my primary physician tomorrow and discuss it with him. Perhaps it's time to establish a baseline for sensory nerve response in my hands and feet.

Splits: 8:41, 8:34, 9:01, 8:36, 8:58, 8:40, 9:01, 8:38, 17:54 (2 mi), 9:00, 8:54, 9:35, 8:42, 9:12, 8:43, 9:28, 8:41, 9:23, 8:35. Water after every even split, gels at 2, 6, 12, & 16, salt at 8.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Recovery Run


NSP Community Center indoor track 4 mi 34:18, pace 8:35. This was a recovery run after yesterday’s half marathon. An easy pace, and it felt fine. Splits 8:34, 8:34, 8:36, 8:35. Wow that’s an even pace!

Next run: 20 miles on Tuesday. I guess I’ll have to do that indoors. Snore.


Another reason for this run was to test for peripheral neuropathy. In yesterday’s half marathon, I felt something strange, beginning at about mile 11. It went away, but reappeared later in the day. If it is the beginning of peripheral neuropathy from the thalidomide, I should stop the treatment ASAP because that is often irreversible. Today’s test was inconclusive: if the feeling was there, it was very subdued. Tomorrow I will call the doctor and discuss this. There are tests which can objectively measure sensory nerve response, and I think it’s time for those! One adventure after another :-)

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Winter Carnival Half Marathon

Deer on the way to the race. Four others crossed in front of the carWhooeee I feel good after a run, especially today. St Paul Winter Carnival Half Marathon, 1:48:24, pace 8:17. I was hoping for 1:50, just slightly better than last year, so this is a fine result. Time is approximate because results are not on the web yet.

For the very first time, I ran this race without walking at all; there are rolling hills, and in the past I have walked a little around mile 10 and the very steep hill near the finish. This was a training run for a slightly-hilly marathon three weeks from now, however, so I ran all hills. Don chugs the last few hundred yards to the finishFelt strong throughout, and might have done a little better yet if I hadn’t been so leery of the wind and slippery roads. The race is a nice out-and-back along the Mississippi River, and on the way back the 19-mph wind wasn’t a factor except in the last three blocks. You can see the back of my jacket billowing out from that wind. At mile 4 or 5 the sun came out, and from then on the slipperiness turned to ordinary dampness on the road, no problem.

I wore three technical shirts under my wind jacket, which turned out to be one too many. But I ran most of the race with the wind jacket unzipped; problem solved. I wore a full ski mask on my head, which was too much, but I don’t own the headgear that I should have used today, whatever that is. A lighter ski mask? Balaclava? I wore my “Teflon” running pants with foam-rubber knee warmers underneath; knee pain if I don’t keep them warm.Nice cups!
Splits: 8:38, 8:00, 8:16, 7:57, 8:43 (water), 8:12, 24:34 (3 mi), 8:23 (water), 8:27, 8:04, 9:11 (1.1 mi).

Only one minor problem: Beginning at about mile 11, my lower right leg started to feel like it was going to sleep, as if the blood flow was constricted. I actually did slow to a walk three different times to try to shake that leg, and after each little walk I did feel (or imagined) some warmth coming to the heel of that foot, just like it feels when blood flow is restored. What could this be? (1) Thalidomide: the start of peripheral neuropathy (I hope NOT); (2) Thalidomide: a blood clot in an artery (unlikely but I took an aspirin); or (3) Cold weather causing the heel to go a little bit numb. I like (3) the best. Anyway it disappeared when the race ended, and it’s fine now.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

There Is No Finish Line

NSP Community Center indoor track 3.0 mi in 25:36, pace 8:32. The purpose of today’s run was to keep everything working at “peak” level for the Winter Carnival half marathon on Saturday. Pace didn’t matter much, so I relaxed and just picked ‘em up and put ‘em down. That was followed by upper-body resistance training involving seven different exercises, plus some walking. Weight Watchers activity points: 7.5 for running (2.5/mi), 3.5 for resistance (0.5 per two-set exercise), and 1 for walking, total 12 points. I get to eat those, roughly another 600 calories :-)

Splits: 8:39, 8:28, 8:29. Breathing: five footfalls per full breath throughout.
Believe it!Monday Zeke talked about how we run even when there is no specific race or goal in mind. That reminded me of this sign in the Nike store in New York City. It’s not only a statement about running and training, but about life in general. Life goes on. Live one day at a time and make it a masterpiece.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Six Sweet Miles Indoors


NSP Community Center indoor track 6.0 miles in 48:55, pace 8:09. This was just a fun run, to log a few miles and continue recovery from the marathon and two other races in the last 10 days. I let my body decide the pace, and was surprised that I felt good at this speed, which would be a PR if I maintained it for a marathon. I doubt that will happen in Austin next month, because I’ll be on thalidomide when I run that race, but maybe it can happen at Grandma’s in June. Or maybe at Avenue of the Giants in May if we decide to spend the money to run that race.

April 1, 2007 is my five-year anniversary of starting running (yep April Fool’s Day!). “They” say that an aging runner gets faster for five years before starting to slow down, but I’m dreaming that I have at least one more year of PR’s to look forward to. I hope I hope I hope. There are a couple of guys that I really want to catch.

Breathing was five footfalls per full breath, four in the last two miles. Splits: 8:22, 8:10, 8:05, 8:13, 8:13, 7:52.


Yesterday's blog was a downer. But the doctor did give us some good news too (Eagle Momma always goes with me):

(1) My "M" spike (naughty protein) is still quite low, in fact low enough that Doc is not yet concerned about bone damage from the malignant white cells. He doesn't even think that an x-ray skeletal survey is worth the trouble just yet; may that decision not come back to bite me.

(2) My myeloma is technically classified as a variant called "light chain disease," which is not good because the light chains are tiny proteins in the blood that clog up essential organs like the kidneys and the heart muscles. But it appears that the light chains are secreted at an unusually low level, so they are not causing any damage, and are still not even detectible in the urine after three and a half years of monitoring. This is a statistical anomaly, but a very welcome one.

Research happens, hope prevails, time is on my side, live one day at a time and make it a masterpiece. I alway feel better after a run.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Disappointing Test Results

Today I saw the oncologist and got the latest test results. Unfortunately, they don't indicate a clear improvement after a month of thalidomide. Here are some links:

Time will tell, however. Thalidomide can have a delayed effect. I will continue taking it, and we'll see how the test results look about six weeks from now.

Visit Counters

Visit (hit) counters are a dime a dozen. When I started this blog I just found one on Google and added it. But hit counters are not all equal!

I found StatCounter on one of the myeloma blogs that I track, The Beast .... It has some nice features:

  • Separate counts of page loads, unique visitors, and returning vistors

  • Ignore hits from your own household (if you are on DSL or cable)

  • Slick graphs of all of the statistics, per week, per month, etc.

  • Invisible tracking (no counter showing) if you prefer

  • Statistics available for all to view, or just to you if you prefer

It's free, of course.

I especially like the feature that can ignore my own IP address, so that my own reloads don't advance the counter. My visitors are relatively few, I think, and without that feature I really don't know if there are any unless they comment.

That feature does depend on a "static" IP address, so I assume that I may need to go into my StatCounter account and update my IP address after each time the DSL (or cable) modem has to reboot, e.g. after any power failures.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Frigid Five Race

Walking toward the combined 5k / 10k start line, Sweet Pea and Don in the foregroundRunning:

Frigid Five 10k, 6.2 mi in 51:03, pace 8:13. An inch of slippy-slidey fresh snow on top of already-icy road surface, four loops inside the Minnesota State Fair Grounds. It was a difficult course to be sure, and I may have run a PW (personal worst) 10k, but so did everyone else and I feel terrific. Life is good, endorphins rule!

The snow absorbed all bounce from every footfall, and also allowed my shoes to slip backward at every toe-off. It felt like two steps forward and one backward. What excellent conditioning! And the snow was falling as we ran; that’s a magical Minnesota thrill of its own, running through falling snow. Winter at its best, 21 degrees all morning. Eagle Momma and Sweet Pea enjoyed the 5k.

I used the Nike Miler shoes again; their aggressive tread just packed itself full of snow today and didn’t seem to help much, but the low-ventilation toes kept my feet dry and warm. I met another runner who intended to run in shoes with steel studs, designed specifically for snow and ice, but I suspect the snow was probably a little too thick to let those studs reach the ice below. Three light shirts under the wind jacket was the right garb for me; zipped up going into the 4-mph wind, unzipped going away. Tights and knee warmers below; most people wore running slacks but I did see some tights and even a few bare legs.


Tomorrow I will see the oncologist and find out if the 28-day course of thalidomide made any difference. I expect to be taking it for at least a couple of months more.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

MDRA Awards

Age-group awardees gathered together at the front of the auditoriumThe Minnesota Distance Running Association (MDRA) holds an annual Grand Prix (GP) series of races, typically 13. In 2007 it will be 14. A runner who is interested in entering the GP pays a five dollar fee, and collects points for each race s/he enters according to a formula that considers the runner's finishing position in that race compared with all other GP entrants who ran that race. A runner can run as many or as few of the 13 races as s/he chooses, and a maximum of 10 scores in the 13 races are added to compute his/her total score.Minnesota Don collects the award for 65-69 A zippered crew-top shirt is the tangible award.  The real award is intangible

Awards are presented in five-year age groups at the MDRA Annual Meeting, held in January every year. Over 100 runners entered the GP in 2006; MDRA is hoping for even more this year. Personally I find it interesting; it's fun, and a powerful incentive to train and run races. Kudos to the age-group winners, but I also salute those stalwart runners who enter and participate year after year even when stronger runners are much more likely to win.

Five Miles, Four Degrees

St Croix Valley Runners 5 mi 44:24, pace 8:53. Temperature was 2.0 when I left the house, 4.0 on return. Nice group of runners: Doug, Gauss, Dave, Roy, and Charlie. Not bad for an iffy morning. There is always someone there to run with on Saturday morning. I used the Nike Miler shoes with their really aggressive tread and with very little ventilation. Perfect. Four shirts under the wind jacket were probably one too many, but better safe than sorry when the temperature actually poses a risk of its own. Such a beautiful sunrise run. If this was all that running was about, it would be quite enough. I feel wonderful.

But it’s not all that running is about. The annual MDRA meeting and pizza feed is today at the Edina Community Center, 11:30 am. We three will be there. Come and meet other runners, talk about training and racing and more.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Weight Watchers Works

Weight Watchers:

They didn't pay me to post this.

About five years ago I weighed 197 pounds dressed, a perfect weight for a 6-foot plus guy with a big frame. Except I'm not six feet tall, and I have a light frame; I was "portly" at 197. Eagle Momma and Sweet Pea were already in Weight Watchers, and it was working for them, so I joined too. I did the program, like they said to do it, and it worked.

When I had lost about 20 pounds, I started running and got "hooked" on that; then the weight loss was even easier. I still go monthly as a "lifetime" non-paying member; I'll go tonight. There are other programs, but I don't know anything about them. I just know that WW works, if I DO the program like they say.


NSP Community Center indoor track, two miles, 17:50, pace 8:55. Just a very nice little run to keep the blood moving during recovery from the marathon and 1-mile race. I had intended to run a bit longer if I felt really good, but felt a little strain in the groin left over from the races, and a significantly upset stomach for some unknown reason, so the two miles on the training plan were quite enough. That was followed by a regular program of upper-body exercises, which I like to do once a week or so.

The annual Minnesota Distance Running Association (MDRA) meeting and pizza party is this Saturday, January 20, from 11:30 to 2:00 at the Edina Community Center. This is your chance to meet runners by the score. And the pizza is good too.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Grandma's Marathon Registration


Entry forms for the 2007 Grandma's Marathon will be mailed tomorrow, January 18 to those who have requested them and to those who were registered for the race in 2005 and 2006. Look for it in your mail on Friday. You have exactly one day to turn it around if you want an advantage on the folks who won't get one in the mail. The form will be available for anyone to download and print from Grandma's Web Site beginning this Monday, January 22, 2007. Registration is by mail only. The race usually fills in 10 days to two weeks.

Suggestion: If you're on the fence, register. In my experience, if I'm registered, then training happens. It's a powerful motivator for only $75.00.


Myeloma support group meeting today. There are two groups that I know of in the Twin Cities. The larger one is in the west suburbs and met last Saturday. Today's is smaller and almost an hour's drive east of the larger one, but closer to us. Lovely Bride will go with me. A dentist who has myeloma will discuss osteonecrosis of the jaw, a side effect of the bisphosphonate drugs that myeloma patients are often given to combat thin or broken bones. That could all be in my future.

My waking heart rate was 36 this morning. I took it several times to be sure. That's the lowest I've seen in years, maybe ever, and I haven't taken thalidomide for 10 days. Looking back to 2004, though, I guess it took a couple of weeks for my HR to return to normal after thalidomide. Numbers were bouncing around from day to day, as now. Something to discuss with the doctor on Monday. Depressed heart rate (bradycardia) is a known side effect of thalidomide.


Feelin' good though! Muscles are still a little stiff, but this is normal after a marathon. Off yesterday and today, run a little tomorrow. Live one day at a time and make it a masterpiece!

Monday, January 15, 2007

One Short Mile

That's me in front in the red shirt.  Picture deliberately distorted to protect the guilty.  Not.Meet of the Miles, Univ of Minn Field House, one mile indoors at top speed, 6:35. Anyway that’s what Eagle Momma thinks the time was; I forgot to look at the clock as I passed it after the eighth lap.

Having run a marathon yesterday, I wasn’t sure what speed I could run. Indeed, after two trial laps I felt some pain in the groin and wasn’t sure if I could even finish. So I didn’t warm up much, just a few laps at an easy jog. I’ve run a mile faster than this, but I’m happy tonight. I’d almost rather run a marathon than a one-mile race, but now it’s over, done, in the bank. By my count I finished fourth of five in my 65-69 age group. I think that’s GREAT! Four other old farts showed up for this one-miler. And I know that I can do better and should do so in future races. It could be an interesting year. The more I race, the more I enjoy it.

More Zoom!

The Zoom! Yah! Yah! Indoor Marathon is held on the upper track of St Olaf College’s Tostrud Field House. It is a small event, limited to 30 runners this year. It may grow a little next year, because congestion on the track proved to be less of a problem than feared. I think they could handle 40 or maybe even 50. The race directors are in a great position to make this judgment, because they ran the marathon themselves. It is a benefit for the women’s track team, so the lap counting is done by members of that team. The conditions in the field house were perfect for marathon running and the spectators made up in enthusiasm what they lacked in numbers. They even sang happy birthday to me (my 66th) as I passed my 66th lap. This was a fun, friendly marathon. My idea of a birthday cake, and Lovely Bride knows itAs far as I know, the only other marathon in Minnesota with a time limit greater than 6 hours is the very difficult Moose Mountain Marathon; Sweet Pea and Lovely Bride collected Minnesota medals on their way toward 50 states. YAY! Gender, age, and disability all work against those two, and a 6-hour marathon is next to impossible for either of them, though they train more hours than I do. I hope that the race organizers can continue to allow at least 8 hours.

We provided our own water and gels, leaving them on a table in one of the four corners. That was actually kind of nice; we each got exactly what we wanted to eat and drink. No cups, no litter, no problems.

Lovely Bride and Sweet Pea have now run nine marathons in eight states, all in less than two years. I’m so proud of them.

Gory running details:

There are no mile markers in a multi-lap marathon like this one. We three made up a new unit of measure, called the Tostrud Mile, consisting of six full laps. There are 25 Tostrud Miles in this marathon, so they resembled real miles and it was easy to count them on the stopwatch. I tried to run nine minutes per Tostrud Mile (total 3:45:00). Within each “mile,” a lap clicked off at 1:30, 3:00, etc., and I was never more than 30 seconds off pace within any one mile, so there was no risk of miscounting. Tostrud Mile splits: 8:57, 8:48, 8:57, 8:52, 8:56, 8:50, 9:11, 8:49, 9:12, 8:48, 9:27, 8:57, 8:50, 8:52, 9:02, 8:40, 8:59, 8:47, 9:04, 8:32, 9:04, 8:41, 9:30, 9:00, 9:26. Total 3:44:12. The odd/even pattern is because I took water after every even mile, and usually walked a little.

The photographer stayed for quite a while, for some reason shooting us each time we came around. Have you ever noticed that it gets harder and harder to smile as the miles go by? Harder even to grunt out “go runners” as you pass by your sweeties.

I finished unscathed. A blister on one foot, already healing. Some chafing where men tend to get chafed in a long run, already healed. Sore, stiff muscles, especially in the upper thighs, the kind of soreness that almost feels good, like progress was made. On one occasion I felt cramps shooting up both calves, very briefly, but they passed by and the vehicle kept going. I totally forgot to take my salt, which I meant to take at 8, 14, and 20. Should have taped it to my water cooler like I did the gels.

Tonight we three will go to the Meet of the Miles, an indoor one-mile race at the U of M Field House. It's the first race in the Minnesota Grand Prix series for 2007. Shoot for six minutes the day after a marathon? Uff-da. Not likely.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Marathon Number 21

Zoom! Yah! Yah! Indoor Marathon at St. Olaf College in Northfield , MN. Time 3:44:12, pace 8:33. I was aiming for a time of 3:45, so this was on the nose . Or more like on the hoof. I’m a happy marathoner. The last two or three laps were difficult; I was extremely tired and was listing to the left so badly that the race director was a little concerned, he later told me. I would have walked a little, but was determined to make that 3:45 time and couldn’t afford to.

150 laps on a track about 4 runners wide doesn’t sound like a lot of fun. But I was pleasantly surprised; it’s both a race and a social event. I passed or was passed by every other runner, many times, and got to know them a little. We joked and encouraged each other, maybe even teased a bit, and to be honest I didn’t miss the open road with its changing scenery. I got to pass by Sweet Pea and my Lovely Bride every few laps, so we felt each others’ presence throughout the race. There were some minor problems with timing, but those were easily resolved.

The larger question: Is an indoor marathon more difficult than a road race, or is it easier? The indoor race is perfectly flat with no wind, and in this case a perfect temperature. I ran comfortably in a singlet and shorts. On the other hand, we did turn 600 individual 90-degree corners, plus several 180-degree turnarounds designed to give runners a change in direction. The track itself was a little softer than a road, but not a lot. Corners seemed fairly sharp, but not so sharp as to require a marathoner to slow down. Occasionally it was necessary to slow briefly for a little jam-up of people, but that was infrequent, and I have experienced MUCH more of that in big road races.

Coming off a 3:36 PR at TCM and a hilly 3:48 at NYC, I (arrogantly?) expected to be able to finish this in 3:45 without much pain at the end. So it seemed a little harder than a road race. Lovely Bride and Sweet Pea think so too, and I know of others who thought it was harder. I suppose it’s the corners.

More (boring) details tomorrow. I’m HONGRY and I need a beer.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Three down ...

View from Northland Tennis Courts in Stillwater, about 7:40 am.  Credit to Eagle Momma
Eagle Momma, Sweet Pea, and I went to "run" with our Saturday group this morning. Actually we walked, meeting the five runners on their way back to home base. Despite the cold temperature, we thoroughly enjoyed an incredible sunrise. We'll walk a bit more this afternoon.

Then Eagle Momma and I went to my myeloma support group meeting in St Louis Park. Sad to say, three of our regular members have expired since the last meeting, from myeloma or from complications of the heavy-duty treatments. I always feel so lucky there, with no symptoms yet, because most of the members have had very serious problems. Many have undergone stem cell transplants, others have received so much chemo that they have little or no feeling left in their hands and feet, and the list goes on. It makes my little tryst with thalidomide seem so minor. Which it is.

Live one day at a time and make it a masterpiece. Especially tomorrow! An indoor marathon will certainly be a new experience for me. I'll blog about it afterward as soon as I can.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Three Cool Miles

SCV Recreation Center 3.02 miles in 25:25, pace 8:25. Perfect marathon pace, which was the goal. I wound up 12 seconds ahead of the target total time. This run was mostly to keep loose, but also to practice timing my pace on a track similar to the Tostrud Center track. It worked fine. I’m getting a slight complaint from the right knee again, in the area of the meniscus, but that’s nothing new. It might have been triggered by the zig-zagging and flat corners, combined with the cold temperature. It felt like 40 degrees today in that inflate-a-barn. Tostrud will be warmer.

Eagle Momma and Sweet Pea ran too, as usual; we did a lap together before I started running at my pace. Tomorrow some walking, but no running. We’ve done some of our best marathons after walking briskly for several miles the day before. Everyone has their routine ...

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Results In Ten Days

Waiting for dinner to show up I went to the cancer clinic for a blood draw today, after peeing in a bottle all day yesterday. Together, those fluids will give us some idea of the effect of the thalidomide. Results will actually be available in a few days, but my appointment with the doctor is about ten days off. HR was 40 this morning, still low.

Bald eagles sat by the lake yesterday, waiting for some unlucky critter to make a mistake.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Mile Long Skating Rink

St Croix Valley Recreation CenterSt. Croix Valley Recreation Center 4.0 miles in 32:00 minutes, pace 8:00. I may have missed counting a lap and run one extra, and if so then the pace was 7:38. I did time a couple of individual laps at that pace. For sure I didn’t count one too many laps. A very invigorating run, with LOTS of other runners and walkers, many more than we ever see at the NSP Community Center. There were people practicing fly casting, too. The track is padded and not banked, much like the track of the upcoming marathon. Temperature in the inflated dome building was maybe 45 degrees; my eyes watered at the start and my hands got cold before the end. I wore a technical short-sleeved shirt and shorts; next time I’ll wear a long sleeved shirt and add gloves too. I wonder what it’s like in there in the summer. Breathing was mostly four footfalls per breath. Plenty vigorous for the last week of pre-marathon taper, but I feel great now and I’m sure no harm was done, hopefully the opposite.Sunset over Lake Woebegone last night

Lake Woebegone froze over solid yesterday; it’s a skating rink a half mile wide and a mile long. No doubt the ice is too thin to skate safely, though. Beautiful sunset last night. I love winter. And summer, spring, and fall for that matter.Lake Woebegone is a skating rink a half mile across

My waking heart rate hit a new low of 38 this morning, three days after finishing the thalidomide. Interesting how that stuff keeps on going and going and going ...

I just finished a big bowl of excellent chicken soup. A touch of sausage; Eagle Momma is such a great cook.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Eight Miles Indoors

NSP Community Center indoor track 8 mi in 1:06:40, pace 8:20. A completely uneventful run, except for the rising red sun peeking through the clouds as we ran along the windows on the south side of the track. I intended just to run a comfortable pace, not so much to train as to remind my legs what they are there for, and that turned out to be marathon pace. If I run this pace most of the time in the marathon, I can afford to walk for 30 seconds at every water stop and still finish in 3:45. Good enough; for once I’m not going for a PR. In 2006 I ran six marathons, all under 3:50. What if I tried to run all of the 2007 marathons under 3:45? It’s a worthy goal. Of course that won’t happen if we run the Moose Mountain Marathon, where even the ruggedest athletes need more than four hours. But that one could be the exception to the rule.

Two more runs before the marathon, four miles Wednesday and three Friday, both at MP. Some walking Saturday to keep muscles loose, pasta for lunch AND dinner, and early to bed Saturday night.

Thalidomide comes in a 28-capsule card, four rows of seven punch-out capsules. You take it before going to bed. I punched out the last one on this card last night, and got one last really good night’s sleep. On Thursday I’ll have labs drawn, and then will see the doctor two weeks from today to assess the progress of the treatment. Nothing cures myeloma, so the goal is a “complete remission,” which means that the cancer markers are in the “normal” range for a person without cancer, or a “near-complete” remission, which means they didn’t quite get there. Then you wait and live life to the max until the numbers come back up again to a dangerous level. My last remission was near-complete, but it took three of these 28-day prescriptions to get there. It lasted about three years. Let’s hope that does it this time. So far, the side effects have been quite modest: Slight bradycardia, slight weight gain (2 or 3 lb), and a couple of unmentionables (a guy gets to have some secrets; I’m not Runner Susan after all). No neuropathy, which is the side effect that would require cessation of that treatment.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Marathon Taper: High Intensity or Low?

St Croix Valley Runners 5 mi in 37:58, pace 7:36. Not bad. This definitely felt like a race, though. My legs really didn’t want to do it, but since I have some influence over my legs they did it anyway. If I hadn’t been running with buddies maybe I wouldn’t have pushed as hard; friends help. Lovely morning, if a bit dark. No pains.

Some other runners today: Jim, Tom, Brooks, Roy, Dave, Doug, George, Cal, Gauss, & A & S. The "Twelve Lords A-leaping," says A. That would make her and S "lords," but it's the thought that counts.

Everyone agrees that a taper is appropriate before a marathon. Typically, authors suggest the last long run be three weeks before, followed immediately by the taper. But there is less agreement on what the taper should be. Most agree on reducing mileage each week, so that the mileage in the last week before the marathon is less than half of the mileage of the highest weeks. Some, though, also suggest cutting back on intensity.

While that may be good advice for the elite runner, I don’t believe in it for myself. My best marathons have usually been one week after a shorter race, usually a 5k or 8k. The Easy Does It 8k race, now discontinued, was an excellent tuneup for a PR a week later at Grandma’s. Last September I ran a 5k on Saturday and then another Sunday, both at a good pace. One week later, I PR’d at TCM. So I believe in cutting mileage but NOT intensity until perhaps the last few days. Today’s tempo 8k was my tuneup for next weekend’s marathon. Just three more runs now before the marathon, 8 mi, 4 mi, and 3 mi, all at whatever pace feels good.

Myeloma: Waking HR, normally 48, was 40 this morning. Just two days’ more thalidomide, then a couple of weeks off.

Looks like spring on Lake Woebegone
It’s almost unbelievable to find Lake Woebegone open in the first week of January. Unheard of. Will the world return to normal next week? The weatherman is suggesting that it might.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Shuffling Run

Alcoa Greenway Trail 7.5 mi in 1:00:30, pace 8:04. I’m very surprised by that pace, because I felt like I was just shuffling most of the way. It did NOT seem like 8-minute miles, but I’m pleased that it was. I had a little trouble with the left Lisfranc ligament, probably from stepping crooked on that foot in the semi-darkness. OK now.

Every once in a while I travel to Alcoa, TN, to do some consulting work. Then I run the Alcoa-Maryville Greenway Trail, eight miles of blacktop surface bordered by woods and parks, with only a few road crossings, and with overhead lights every 75 feet the entire way. I know of nothing like it in Minnesota; it’s wonderful. I can run this trail hours before sunrise, as I did this morning, without a headlight and rarely even within view of a road. I stay in a hotel located conveniently near. Despite my clunky, plodding feeling during the run, it was a delightful morning, with a nearly-full moon penetrating the ghostly trees, leaving shadows wherever the overhead lights didn’t fill them in. But, thankfully, it was my last day in Tennessee and now I get to be home with my sweeties, better than any fancy trail.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

January 2, 2007

NSP Community Center 5 miles in 41:00, pace 8:12.
Kitty doesn't WANT her picture taken! I forgot to bring my watch, so had to count laps on my fingers and time on a wall clock, but they're pretty close. Faster than intended, but I feel good. Breathing mostly five footfalls per breath, four in the last two miles. After the run, I did my usual seven-element upper-body strength training program, but cut the sets from two to one. Headed for 30 miles this week, I need only 8 more which I will do on Thursday. My training weeks are Saturday through Friday. Next week only 20 miles, tapering ...

Waking heart rate 40 this morning, a modern low. Thalidomide at work.

Monday, January 01, 2007

New Year's Special Request

Susan, a myeloma survivor with a brand new blog, has just come out of a stem cell transplant (SCT). It is a somewhat risky procedure, where the doctors kill the cells in the bone marrow and then "rescue" the patient with an infusion of stem cells. As you might expect, Susan doesn't feel like herself right now during the rescue phase. She and her family greatly appreciate encouraging comments! Runners, myeloma survivors, good people everywhere. I hope you will.
Winter Wonderland What a day it is in Minnesota! This is how Christmas should have looked. But who's complaining - it's here now, for a little while at least. Some folks just wish it would just go away, but I love it. Even the shoveling part - I get a feeling of accomplishing something. Snow gets cleared, and I get some great cross-training. Today it wasn't quite worth the trouble to get out the snow blower; it took about an hour and a quarter to shovel the driveway and walks :-)

Happy New Year to all.