Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Ten Miles Indoors

NSP Community Center indoor track 10 mi in 1:25:29, pace 8:33. Exactly the pace for a 3:45 marathon. That’s what I want to run in May at the Avenue of the Giants. What a splendid marathon venue that will be!

No pains today. As it’s an odd-numbered day we ran clockwise, for which I have a slightly preference because of arthritis in the left foot. I didn’t feel too energetic, especially toward the end, but that problem always self-corrects with enough sleep, good food, and a little beer.

Splits: 8:43, 8:30, 8:28, 8:21, 8:40, 8:30, 8:44, 8:32, 8:51, 8:10. Water after 4, 6, & 8. My sweeties were there too, sometimes running a lap with me at my pace, otherwise running their own pace.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Running, Marathons, Chafing, and Vaseline

While running my first marathon I saw volunteers dispensing vaseline at about mile 20, and I couldn't imagine what it could be used for. Honestly. After the marathon, though, I found out. A soapy shower was a painful ordeal for the next few days.

I've never discussed this issue with a woman runner other than my sweetheart, so I have no idea whether it applies. Maybe a woman shouldn't even read this. For that matter I haven't discussed it with men either. When I raised the subject once in an all-guys group run I was quickly shouted down! I had crossed a boundary into uncomfortable conversation.

RRS Running ShortsWhat can happen to me is that certain uniquely-male parts will rub against the inside of my thighs, causing chafing on the thighs. After all, we land on each leg perhaps 20,000 times in a marathon, and stuff does bounce around. I'm certain that the chafing could even result in bleeding, eventually, though that's never happened to me. The damage is limited to the thighs; the other parts are apparently tougher. Go figger.

I have never used vaseline in any of 22 marathons, or in runs of any shorter distance, and never seriously wished that I had used it. When I prepare properly, the chafing isn't bad enough to bother. I do apply hand lotion to the inner thighs before the race.

The real answer, though, is in the shorts. Running shorts have an inner liner which fully contains a gentleman's uniquely-male parts, and which forms a barrier between those parts and his thighs. Looking at my four pairs of shorts, two problems are evident:

  • The liner is made of a mesh-like material with a rather low thread count. A little like cyclone fencing versus window screen. Even though the cloth feels soft to the touch, it is rough against skin sliding past it. I believe that it acts a little like drywall sandpaper over 20,000 bounces.
  • The liner is too loose and stretchy. At least for me it is (have I given away any information here?). Because it's loose, the male parts bounce around too much, giving the sandpaper plenty of work to do.
I like shorts with lots of pockets (cell phone, gels, extra gloves, ibuprofen, whatever), especially for marathons, and that limits my choices. I use Road Runner Sports "Stamina Plus" shorts. I love these shorts, except for the liner. Lots of pockets. And inside the shorts I use another pair of shorts: Brooks "Runderwear" Briefs. This means that the RRS liner is still in contact with the thighs. However, the Brooks shorts are considerably stronger and less elastic, thereby cutting the chafing by reducing the bounce while running. At least I think that's true; a guy could break his neck trying to check on that bounce.

Brooks RunderwearUntil my last marathon (here and here) I normally finished a marathon with a tolerable amount of chafing. But for this last one, the liner in my RRS running shorts had worn so badly that I just scissored it out of the shorts and depended entirely on the Brooks undershorts.

A runner really shouldn't try something new for the first time during an important race. But I got lucky; the result was zero chafing. None. I suppose that the Brooks briefs prevented most of the bounce, as always. And in addition, because the briefs are very smooth with a high thread count, there was apparently no sandpaper effect at all on the thighs. I'm tempted to remove the liner from all my running shorts.

No doubt there are many makers of good running shorts and of good briefs. When I found these, I stopped looking. If you know of running shorts that combine it all, lots of pockets and an inner liner that does what it should do, please leave a comment.

Tired Legs

Sunday morning  before all the shovelingNSP Community Center 4 mi in 33:35, average pace 8:24. After more snow clearing this morning, my sweeties and I went to the club to run. My legs did not want to do it. I had to insist. They grudgingly complied.

Surprising to me, though, the pace ended up quick enough and I felt better and better as the laps clicked by. Nevertheless, I do feel more tired than usual afterward. Yesterday’s five hours of snow removal apparently took quite a toll. The best news: No pains of any kind! Splits: 8:41, 8:25, 8:19, 8:11. Good trend.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Pair of Fives

St Croix Valley Runners 5 mi in exactly 50:00,10 min/mi. Slogging through an inch of pebbly snow, 26 degrees with 20 mph winds and a little sleet in the face whenever we headed east. Actually a surprisingly energizing run. A great morning to be alive. The pace sounds slow but the snow was like sand, making the run effectively longer than it actually was. With Roy and Dave.

NSP Community Center indoor track 5 mi in 43:22, pace 8:40. I seldom do two runs in a day, but tomorrow looks like it might be a REALLY good day to stay in, with as much as a foot of additional snow in the forecast. Maybe a fire in the fireplace and a cup of hot cocoa instead? So today I ran, ate breakfast, and then ran again. No problems. Splits: 9:01, 8:51, 8:52, 8:50, 7:48. Felt strong during that last mile. Excellent day.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

X-Ray Bone Survey

Now that I have the actual doctor's report in hand, it's pretty much as my primary doc described over the phone. Equivocal. Uncertain.

If you are interested, here is the actual radiologist report.

Feel-good Run


NSP Commuity Center 4 mi in 33:12, pace 8:18. Today was supposed to be another recovery run, at whatever pace felt good. For some reason, it felt good to run a little faster than marathon pace. Walk, jog, run 4 mi (timed), walk, stretch. Breathing six footfalls per full breath at the start, then five, and four at the end. Slight pain in the left-hip bursa, nothing to worry about. Otherwise, I feel almost recovered from Sunday’s marathon. Whoopee! Splits: 8:41, 8:22, 8:14, 7:56.


Cancer labs today. I peed in a bottle all day yesterday and last night (24-hour urine collection) and gave several little tubes of blood at the clinic today before the run. On March 1, the doctor will advise us of the results. I hope to see that the thalidomide has driven the major cancer markers down a bit. Whether that has happened or not, the doctor will probably prescribe thalidomide for at least another month. Meanwhile, today is a masterpiece!

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Recovery Run

NSP Community Center 3 mi in 26:52, pace 8:57. If ever there was a recovery run, this was it. Stretch, walk, run, walk, stretch again. I barely lumbered along in the first few running laps, but it got better and better as the laps went by. The bursitis in the left hip hurt a little and didn’t get better while I ran, but there is less pain there now after the run than before it. Muscles feel much better now than before the run; stiffness is gone, soreness is much less. Three days after a marathon, truly a recovery run. Feels wonderful. Splits: 9:22, 8:50, 8:40. When is the next marathon?

Tuesday, February 20, 2007


A week ago I had a series of x-rays called a skeletal survey, looking for holes in the bones that can be caused by myeloma. Today my primary doctor called (never a really good sign) and told me that the radiologist used words like "subtle lesions in the calvarium." Slight holes in the top of my head.

There were other words too, like "very borderline finding." The lesions are only visible in the side view; might be myeloma, or maybe I'm just soft in the head. :-) I'll post more when I have a copy of the actual radiology report in hand.

I'm lucky, of course, to know this now. Most myeloma patients find out about soft bones only when one breaks on them. There are things I can do to prepare, including more-aggressive treatment of the myeloma itself. For sure we'll do the skeletal survey a little more often now; the last one was three and a half years ago.

An especially happy note: NO NEUROPATHY during Sunday's Austin marathon, or since. Back on thalidomide now, fingers crossed.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Austin Marathon, Chapter Two

The day after the marathon, everything aches a little. But it’s a good enjoyable ache, of muscles pushed to their limits and now allowed to rest and recover. In fact, there are only a few feelings in life more These guitars are all over town, like the Peanuts characters in St Paulpleasurable than getting into bed after a marathon, or any hard day’s work, and letting the exhaustion drain into the pillow and sheets.

No serious pains; I think that yesterday’s hip pain, which started late in the race, is just bursitis. I remember going to the doctor with the same (I think) pain a couple of years ago. He poked the side of my hip with his finger, I yelped, and he said “Bursitis. Don’t worry - it’ll go away.” And it did. And it is much better today than it was late yesterday. Things that might have caused or promoted the bursitis: (1) Hard strides on the many downhills; (2) Cold start; (3) Sloped-sideways roadways; (4) Getting old.

Oddly, the injury that is most annoying the day after the race is a cut lip. While trying to wipe my nose on my sleeve during the marathon (we do gross things in road races), my homemade plastic wristband caught my lower lip and tore it slightly. This too shall pass.

Internet results still have me finishing in 3:46:36, first of 29 in my age group, though I don’t think the results have been finalized. At least I hope not, because Eagle Momma and Sweet Pea definitely finished and their results are not up yet.
Texas state capitol building
Temperature at the start was 37, and at my finish about 55. Not bad at all. I discarded a garbage bag, two shirts, a headband, and holey-sox-for-gloves as the miles went by. I finished in shorts, a long-sleeve tech shirt, headband, and thin gloves. Gels about every 35-40 minutes, five in all. The last one was "double caffeine," which is nasty stuff but I think it helped. Salt every hour; I always intend to take it, but this time I really did. No cramps at all this race. Coincidence? I think not.

No upset stomach after this race! Why not? Could be: (1) Nothing to eat for 12 hours before the race; (2) Ginger afterward; (3) Recovery drink afterward; (4) Rehydration according to thirst (some beer but not too much); (5) Popcorn afterward; (6) All of the above?

Until mile 18, I ran with the 3:45 pace team, more or less. I would fall behind at the water stops (I walk and drink) and on the uphills, but catch up again on the flat and the downhills, and even spend some time ahead of the group.

Alas, however, I was obliged to make a very necessary porta-potty stop after mile 18 and lost two minutes, one of which I was unable to recover. I finished about a minute behind the team. We ran the first half in 1:51:30, which is roughly a minute ahead of schedule; that’s perfect for a pace team. I ran the second half in 1:55:06, about 3 ½ minutes longer than the first half.

After finishing, I walked back on the course to find my two sweeties at about mile 22, and ran with them to the finish line. That’s become an enjoyable tradition in our marathons. And it’s really fun to walk the marathon backwards, encouraging all of the runners, especially the Team In Training people in their purple shirts. I love Team in Training. They are helping to fund research for myeloma, as well as leukemia and lymphoma.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Wahoo Yippee!

Don & Sweet Pea at the startAustin Texas Marathon 3:46:36, pace 8:39. I was shooting for 3:45 and missed that by a minute or so, but I’m a mighty happy runner anyway. According to the preliminary results, I took first of 29 in the 65-69 old-farts age group. We’ll see if that holds up, but in any case I’ll be happy with the time because this is a very hilly (“challenging”) course. Total rise of about 300 feet, but lots of up and down getting there and back. I had hoped to make all of this year’s marathons under 3:45, but guess I’ll have to settle for 3:46 or less instead. Tsk. :-)Eagle Momma has her medal!

My thigh injury was a no-show. It warned me a couple of times on the uphill, so I held back a little and even walked more uphills than usual, but it didn’t really slow me down. Toward the end of the race I did notice a distinct pain in the left hip that got worse as I ran, but it wasn’t bad enough to slow me down either. More about that tomorrow. Weather was almost “chamber of commerce” perfect; shorts and long sleeves.

Eagle Momma and Sweet Pea were concerned about getting to the finish before they closed it, but they made it. Thanks to the Marathon organizers for allowing a little bit of grace.

More-complete results will be in tomorrow, and I’ll post again with lots more details. Now the partying is over; we three will sleep well tonight.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Town Lake Trails

Town Lake Trail System 3.0 mi in about 26 minutes, around 8:40 pace? I forgot to start my watch at the beginning, so everything is an estimate :-) We had a BIG lunch at Pappadeaux, and I felt very heavy when weMy Sweeties ran an hour later. But after a mile or so I felt a little better and actually ran this last pre-marathon run a bit faster than intended. No pains at all! Very good news.

Maybe I can run the marathon uninjured and make a good time. But if not, I’m sure I can finish and collect a new state. There is something lovely about running a marathon at an easy pace too, enjoying the view and the spectators. Either way, it will be a great day.

Pappadeaux saladThe “neurpopathy” leg has been feeling strange again the last two days. I’m not at all certain that the strange feelings are due to the thalidomide, but yesterday and today the feelings were not imaginary. I skipped last night’s dose and will skip two more nights, then will take those next week instead.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Another Good Run

NSP Community Center indoor track 3 mi in 29:10, pace 9:43. Again the idea was to NOT annoy the speed-sensitive injury in the left thigh. I meant to go 10:00 and overshot that pace a little, but it felt fine. NO PAIN! Splits: 9:52, 9:37, 9:40.

Nothing hurts, although I am still feeling (or imagining) some come-and-go numbness in the other leg. Possibly from the thalidomide; time will tell. One more short, easy taper run remaining before the marathon. I think I’ll stop taking thalidomide for the three days prior to the marathon.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Good Marathon Taper Run

NSP Community Center indoor track 5 mi in 49:54, pace 9:59. Because the pain in the upper inside left thigh has appeared only at speeds faster than 9 min/mi, the pace for this run was deliberately cranked down to 10 min/mi. That’s slower than I’ve ever run on that track, and it took an effort to keep the pace down, especially with people passing me. Nevertheless, it felt good and was probably quite appropriate during the last days of marathon taper. NO PAINS of any kind, so I’m sure that no further damage was done to the thigh injury. What a cheerful thought. Splits: 10:09, 9:52, 9:52, 10:00, 10:02.

For a 3:45 goal in the marathon, the average pace will have to be about 8:35, and faster on the downhills. Will the thigh handle it? We’ll find out on marathon day. Meanwhile, three more miles tomorrow and three on Friday, all at 10 min/mi.

Monday, February 12, 2007

So Far So Good

Two medical tests today, EMG and Skeletal Survey. The EMG is a neurological test involving probes and mild electrical shocks. The doctor did that test on my right leg, which had felt strange recently during races and other runs. The results were NORMAL! So, perhaps, the strange feelings are all in my head, or they may have a cause other than peripheral neuropathy from thalidomide.

Multiple myeloma attacks the bones from the inside, making holes here and there until bones begin to break. The holes can show up in any bone, anywhere. The skeletal survey is a series of x-rays of virtually every bone, to look for those holes. My last one was three and a half years ago, and it was negative. No holes. This one must be read by a radiologist, but I'm hoping for another negative report.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Still Not 100%


NSP Community Center indoor track 4 mi in 37:52, pace 9:28. Splits: 9:35, 8:35, 9:15, 10:27. At first the left thigh hurt just a little, so I ran slowly. But then it seemed to settle down so I ramped up to marathon pace in mile two. But in mile three there was a sudden, sharp pain, as if something broke loose again. Since it didn’t hurt at a slower pace, I just slowed down for the rest of the run, and cut it from five miles to four. I hope I didn’t do more harm today. The next scheduled run is Tuesday, so I’ll find out then. Resolved: NO RUNNING AT A PACE FASTER THAN 10 MIN/MI until the marathon. Period. And walk every day, even on the no-run days.


Thalidomide: No serious side effects yet. I do enjoy the nice sleep that it gives. Tomorrow I will get a baseline measurement of nerve function, so that when peripheral neuropathy does appear we can measure the actual changes. I’m also planning to get a skeletal survey, which is a set of x-rays of every bone in the body, to look for holes caused by the myeloma.

Whatever tomorrow brings, today is really a beautiful day. My thermometer says 28 degrees, after eleven straight days of below-zero mornings. The traces of snow left on the driveway are actually melting. That’s worth celebrating!

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Very Strange Run

NSP Community Center 3+ miles in 36 minutes, pace: glacial. We three went to the Valentines Run this morning, having registered long ago. We picked up our lovely red technical shirts and left, wimping out because of the cold weather. I do suppose it was a nice run, though. The temp at the 10:00 am race start was minus 2, with a 6 mph wind. But we need better face covers than we have, and maybe better shoes, to run around that lake when the wind chill is minus 11.

On the indoor track at the Community Center I still felt some of the pain that had started Thursday, though it was much less sharp than before. I ran a mile at a 9:00 pace, then slowed a lot and ran a little over two miles in 27 more minutes. The pain was barely noticeable the rest of the way, and the thigh didn’t feel like it was being injured further. I’ll know tomorrow, when I try to run again. Sorry to say, this little injury has made itself the focus of training, with the marathon coming in eight days. Make it better, not worse, even if that means little or no running during the last week of taper.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Oops - It Hurts to Run

When I started to run, I felt a sharp, persistent pain in the inside of the left thigh, near the very top of the leg. Neither the hamstrings nor the quads, but somewhere in between I think. Oddly, there was no pain when walking, running in place, or doing stretches. Only when running forward. I suppose something got pulled during the energetic last mile of Tuesday’s run, though I certainly didn’t notice it then.

So I stopped running and walked a bit, then did the normal upper-body training and then stretches. The club's “torso twist” machine also made the leg hurt; I skipped that one. Here’s hoping that this is a minor and temporary setback; I’d hate to have to walk the upcoming marathon, though that could be fun too. Meanwhile, easy does it and NO running on pain. Perhaps I'll run in place to try to preserve fitness.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Twelve Miles Indoors

NSP Community Center indoor track 12 miles in 1:39:34, pace 8:18. Great run, a little faster than intended marathon pace, and a great last mile, perhaps as fast as any I’ve run on that track. Energy left over.Beautiful winter day

Actually it was a beautiful winter day outside, fresh snow on the ground, but still pretty cold at +6 degrees. So we went to the track despite the miserable driving conditions. When we got back there was snow to clear, and I collected another seven Weight Watcher activity points to add to the 30 from the run. Tonight I can eat well!

Near the beginning of the last mile another guy started running on the track and I passed him. But his footfalls stayed right behind me and wondered if he was going to pass me again. After a lap or two, I decided that he was shadowing me so I picked it up a little, and then a little more each lap, until we were really zipping in the last lap. That was fun, and he kept up and enjoyed it too. Any motivation helps on the track.

No complaints from any body parts except the lisfranc ligament, always a little painful when making lefthand corners. Splits: 8:30, 8:16, 8:31, 8:10, 8:39, 8:11, 8:42, 8:13, 8:34, 8:05, 8:20, 7:23. Breathing mostly five footfalls per breath.

Peripheral neuropathy? Again undetermined. I thought perhaps so, but may have imagined it. Certainly not very bad.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Eight Miles Indoors

NSP Community Center 8 mi in 1:06:39, pace 8:20. A moderately energetic run to remind the leg muscles of what they are supposed to do. This is just a bit faster than the pace I want to run in the upcoming marathon; I'm shooting for 3:45 there, which is a pace of 8:35.

I felt an annoying complaint from the left lisfranc ligament (foot) on each corner. Also very slight signals from the right knee and the hamstrings. Tsk. Once or twice I felt or imagined the neuropathy in the right foot. Nothing now, but I do feel a little more weary than I should after only eight miles. Good thing tomorrow is a day off.

Norm was there again, just about finished with his eight miles as I started mine. We did a few laps together. Time goes faster on that track when there’s someone to talk with. Also met a guy named Dan, finishing his run as well.

Splits: 8:30, 8:25, 8:20, 8:26, 8:23, 8:25, 8:30, 7:41. Last mile says I had something left.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Five Miles, Minus Eleven

St Croix Valley Runners 5 mi, minus 11 degrees, minus 30 windchill. Finished in about 50 minutes I think. Five other crazies out there today: Jim, Luke, Dave, Roy, and Cal. Nice sunrise run, actually. EveryoneHard to see, but this deer has a missing left rear foot seemed prepared for the bitter air. We ran a different, more-protected route through neighborhoods today, coming close to our parked cars twice during the run just in case. I had to poop so bad halfway through that I was seriously looking for a porta-potty or even a little bit of woods, but none was found. That took some of the joy out of the run for me. I was mighty glad to get home, and not because of the cold. That’s a “feature” of the thalidomide: lazy internal organs that make it difficult to do my normal morning routine BEFORE the run. Small price to pay, though, if the stuff works again this time.

Clothes, bottom to top: two pairs of Wright Sox, Nike Miler shoes (low ventilation), pajama bottoms, worn-out jeans, “teflon” running pants, three technical shirts, one cotton shirt, running jacket, ski mask, ear muffs, no glasses, warm choppers on my hands. Cold was the least of my problems, wearing probably 10 extra pounds of clothing!She spent a LOT of time resting like this, often tucking in her head for a nap

NO hamstring trouble. Nada. Very good news.

We’ve had an injured deer in our yard the past couple of days, eating browse from time to time but mostly resting. I think she’s a yearling doe, as she doesn’t seem to have the sharply-defined features of an adult. Her left hind foot is missing, but not very recently because there is no blood and she can put weight on it. Nevertheless she moves very slowly. Neighbor Jim reported seeing a wolf in his yard recently. I wish the doe well, but these next few days of sub-zero weather will be trying, especially if she meets up with that wolf.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Hamstring Trouble


NSP Community Center 3 mi in 25:45, pace 8:35. Recovery run, felt heavy and sluggish for the first mile but that improved toward the end. But the right hamstring is acting up again. Nuts! I must have pushed just a little too much in this last week, 40 miles including a half marathon race and a 20-mile training run. It didn’t seem like too much, but the hamstring was yelling at me this morning, especially in the first mile. I did the appropriate stretches and exercises today, and yesterday too; let’s hope it’s just being temperamental.

Splits: 8:56, 8:37, 8:11. Next run Saturday. Tapering now for the marathon, so I expect the hamstring to get better. 30 miles next week, 20 the week before the marathon.


The good news is I didn’t feel any neuropathy; didn’t even think about it. I started taking alpha-lipoic acid a couple of days ago; maybe that helps. In one small Mayo study of patients with diabetic neuropathy, large (intravenous) doses of ALA almost worked magic. So maybe a little bit will help forestall the nerve damage from thalidomide. Wouldn't that be nice?