Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Exercise Bicycle

The exercise bicycle at this hotel is ancient and mostly broken down, but I rode it today for 50 minutes, which might be about equivalent to 5 miles running. I forgot to pay attention to breathing, which is my best indicator, but I was sweating and it felt like hard work, so maybe it is equivalent. What’s especially nice about these machines is that you can read while exercising, which is hard to do in the pool. So I caught up on Myeloma Today and Running Times, stuff like that.

The foot with plantar fasciitis feels a LOT better today than yesterday, especially after the exercise bicycle. Hmmm.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Wet Again

More pool running in the hotel, 30 minutes, hopefully equivalent to about 3 miles in terms of energy expended. BORING though; unlike a run, I could hardly wait for the clock to get to 30. The foot still hurts a little; I was limping slightly at work today, unlike the past several days when the foot felt better. Hopefully this morning’s short run didn’t cause too much re-injury; I’ll know tomorrow.

Looking back, I stopped running for six days before this morning’s aborted run, using the elliptical machine and pool running for fitness instead. Quite evidently, six days was not enough to heal the inflamed plantar fascia. And why should it be? When I pull a leg muscle, I expect it to take three weeks to heal. As a general rule, feet heal more slowly than legs, so shouldn’t I expect the heel to take at least three weeks? The question answers itself. The problem now is that Grandma’s Marathon is less than three weeks away.

So I guess I will NOT RUN until Grandma’s, and then we’ll see. Interesting training regimen! But I will keep up the cross-training, as much like running as possible. The good news is that plantar fasciitis is a problem that CAN be solved eventually, one way or another!
Tuesday dinner
Greg and I visited Krogers again:

  • Salad: Organic mixed greens, carrots, artichoke hearts, olives, mushrooms, organic grapes, organic strawberries, blueberries, walnuts.
  • Dinner: 12-grain whole-grain bread, sliced beef, asiago cheese, smoked aged cheddar, mustard, grapes, cashews, porter.


Last night I hunted down a rubberized running track at the local Maryville Middle School, a few miles from the hotel. This morning was to be the first actual run in almost a week.

I drove to the school, arriving at 4:50 am, hoping to run until about 6:15 am. I even brought water and a gel. It’s a lovely quarter-mile track, black surface as if made from old tires, harder than my running shoes but softer than blacktop, open to the public when not in use by the school. Not another soul was in sight, of course, but plenty of eerie blue light from mercury vapor lamps on tall poles.

The first mile went fine, 8:46, nice pace. Easy running, no pain, 64 degrees, what could be better? But just after a mile and a half the left-foot plantar fasciitis started to hurt, enough that I finished the lap walking and drove back to the hotel. Rats. More pool running in my future; I hope I didn’t re-injure the foot. Right now it doesn’t feel like I hurt it much. I did buy soft inserts for my work boots last night, so hopefully it won't get any worse at work today. I do computer work, but for this client I need to walk through a heavy-manufacturing plant, requiring steel-toe boots, hard hat, safety glasses, and non-flammable clothing.
Greekish salad
Greg made the salad last night: Organic greens, artichoke hearts, beans, avocado, walnuts, asiago cheese.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Pool Running 101

The plantar fasciitis is getting better, and I think I could run, but I’d rather not annoy it yet. I’m on the road in Alcoa, Tennessee today, where there are wonderful blacktopped biking/running trails along wooded Pistol Creek, lighted at night, going right past my hotel, useable all year around. So very tempting, but today I tried pool running instead. I “ran” for two hours and a minute, breathing as if I were running a marathon. I think it was a total success, roughly equivalent to 12 miles, and I feel wonderful afterward. Exhausted and exhilarated.

I spent just a few minutes researching “pool running” on the internet first, and didn’t get a lot of guidance in that time. As far as I can tell you are supposed to move your legs in an upright posture as if you were running. A flotation device can make it easier, so I wore a thin lifejacket. I don’t know what you should do with your hands. The hotel pool is only five feet deep at its deepest, not quite enough, so I had to be sure not to stub my toes. I found that the running action of my feet tended to pull me slowly forward no matter the angle of my body in the water. Therefore, since the deepest part of the pool was relatively small, I had to constantly turn and reverse myself to avoid banging into a wall or the sloping pool bottom. Eventually, I had the best luck backed up to the pool’s ladder, grasping that with my hands behind me and holding on.

That was powerfully boring, but then again it was easy to drift off and think about something else because, no matter how hard I worked, I wasn’t going anywhere. It’s not so much like running as like pedaling a bike, actually. Or maybe I did it wrong. If you have a suggestion, please indulge me with a comment. I didn’t bring drinking water with me, and next time I will; I got a little dehydrated despite being in several thousand gallons of water. Gels might be good too, on a longer run.

But I didn’t get hot! Or sunburned, except perhaps on my face; I’ll wear sunscreen there next time; happily the sun went behind a building halfway through. And although my head was always out of the water, my normally soggy forehead didn’t sweat at all, probably because the pool water kept my body cool despite the exercise. Breathing was three to four “footfalls” per full breath, just as when I run at marathon pace. Pool running is not exactly running, but it’s a LOT better than sitting in the hotel room watching the Indy 500, which I did anyway later.
Supper in the hotel roomSupper in the hotel room afterward, watching the Indy 500:

  • Salad: Organic "fresh herb salad" (romaine, spinach, herbs, buried underneath), avocado, organic strawberries, blueberries, walnuts, vinegar.
  • Main course: Twelve-grain whole-grain bread, asiago cheese, smoked cheddar cheese, organic grapes, cashews, mustard.
  • Dessert: Another oatmeal porter, and an orange.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Elliptical Again

The left foot with plantar fasciitis was a little better this morning I think, maybe better than it has been since the Race for the Cure 5k two weeks ago. Nevertheless I want that foot to heal completely if possible, so I “ran” the elliptical machine again today rather than run with my Saturday morning group. I suppose Cap’n Randy was there this morning, fresh from his trip up the Mississippi, and if so I’m sorry I missed him. But my sweeties and I did pretty well at the club instead.

Lake Woebegone Rain Forest750 calories burned on two elliptical machines, equivalent to about six miles of actual running. The machines said 6.3 miles in total. One of the four Procor machines in the club allows me to lower the “ramp” so that I can “run” upright in a fairly normal motion without really having to hang on to anything with my hands. I like that the best because it simulates running more closely, and I spent most of the calories on that one. Level 9, 165-170 strides/minute, about 13.5 calories/minute. That level of effort results in a heart rate of 125-130, which is a heart rate that I can sustain for hours.

Yesterday’s exercise was mowing the lawn for 3.5 hours, using a human-propelled rotary mower. It’s really pretty good exercise!

Next week maybe some pool running.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Elliptical Machine

Today I just used the elliptical trainer to burn 500 calories, which for me is equivalent to about four miles. The machine showed 4.25 miles, actually. Not enough to be anywhere near a long "run," but I took almost twice the time limit that the club has on their machines. The left-foot plantar fasciitis didn’t hurt much, but enough to tell me not to run on it, not even on the treadmill.

Saturday a friend asked me if I was using ice and heat on the sore heel. I responded that I’m more of a fan of heat than I am of cold. But today, in the spirit of “what the heck?,” I did try an ice pack on the foot when I got home. Then I switched to heat. And it does feel a little better this afternoon than it did this morning or yesterday afternoon. I think.

Machine: Level 9, 160 to 170 strides per minute, just over 13 calories per minute, lowest angle. This worked well - I could continue at that energy level for a long time if nobody showed up needing that particular machine. Heart rate according to the machine was 127-130. I like that machine because it’s the only one in the club that can change its angle, so I can lower the angle to make it more like running.

Yesterday's dinner
Salmon bake with yogurt, peas, low-fat rice chips for crunch.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Hobble hobble

The idea was to run on a treadmill only until I felt a little pain in the left foot (with the plantar fasciitis), then switch to the elliptical machine. That worked fine, but I was only able to run 1.2 miles before I could feel the heel starting to hurt. Then I “ran” the energy-equivalent of about three more miles on the elliptical, at a rate of about 13 calories/minute.

New Brooks Glycerin 5 shoes today. I bought those because they are supposed to be more cushioned than the Brooks Burn 3 which are my normal training, racing, and marathon shoes. They made a pretty loud slapping sound on the treadmill, but I think that was mostly the treadmill itself because they weren’t that loud when I ran a few steps on the indoor track. The Burn 3 shoes are quieter though, because they are designed for a midfoot striker like me. Jury is still out on the Glycerin - I may end up liking the Burn better, even with the plantar fasciitis problem.

SaladRomaine, celery, cucumber, walnuts, blue cheese, and tasty vinegar.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Plantar Fasciitis 2

Saturday the plantar fasciitis in my left foot felt OK an hour after the five-mile run, but it got worse during the day and was still worse Sunday, even though I didn’t run Sunday. Running seems to cause the inflammation to increase again; at least five miles of running does. But Grandma’s Marathon is looming just four weeks away, and I can’t run it on a foot as sore as this, so there’s a new plan: (1) No running until I wake up with NO pain; (2) then run only as long as there is no pain; then (3) repeat. Hopefully the running times will increase. Meantime continue the treatment plan described a week ago. Marathon conditioning will suffer, but them’s the breaks. Better to run it slow than not to run it at all.

Today my sweeties and I went to the club. They ran on the indoor track, and I cross-trained, mostly on the elliptical machine but also upper-body. Good workout; my arms and chest will be sore tomorrow; legs won't. I don’t know how much the elliptical machine will help in retaining running conditioning, but it won’t hurt.

Normal breakfast
From the bottom up: oatmeal, milk, blueberries, banana, strawberries, sugared ginger. All but the blueberries and banana are organic.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Plantar Fasciitis

I tried running Thursday morning in the Stillwater Bubble, thinking that the softer man-made surface would be easier on the plantar fasciitis in my left foot, but the pain made it immediately obvious that I was doing more harm than good. I stopped and went home. Today was different; I ran the regular five-mile course with the St Croix Valley runners and the sore heel felt good until about mile three, after which it began to hurt and I found myself seeking grassy boulevards. Time was 45:00, for nine-minute miles overall.

The foot feels much better already though, just an hour after the run, so maybe I didn’t set it back too much. I need to stay off it so that the inflamed area will heal, and yet I need to run to maintain and improve my conditioning for Grandma’s Marathon. It’s an awkward balance at best, and I'm not doing it very well. Driving home, I saw two runners loping along the road, apparently pain-free, and I actually felt envy. Sigh. Well, this problem will have a good conclusion, sooner or later, one way or another.

Last night's dinner
Nitrite-free turkey/chicken bratwurst, quinoa with onions and spaghetti sauce, roasted rutabaga and asparagus, total of five Weight Watcher's points at MOST.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Easy Five Mile Recovery Run

This morning the left-heel pain from plantar fasciitis was much better than it was Monday, so I ran a fairly soft and flat 5 miles on my favorite trail, the dirt road along the railroad tracks. The heel hurt just a little throughout, but more at the end, so I’m glad I didn’t run the planned ten miles. It’s a little more sore after the run than before it, but I nevertheless think it will be better tomorrow than today. Time 43:26, pace 8:41. Not in a hurry today.Breakfast
There really are oatmeal and milk under here

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Race for the Cure

Race for the Cure is possibly the biggest race I’ve ever run, except perhaps the Boston and NYC Marathons. Organizers claim about Running under Hwy 77 Cedar Avenue.  It gets LOUD in the tunnel! 50,000 registrants for the 5k run and 5k walk; I suppose half of those showed up for the 7:30 am run in almost perfect weather, 55 degrees and cloudy. Here is a little slide show of pix that Sunshine and Sweet Pea took at the race.

I started almost at the front of the pack and still had to slow a little for other runners in the first half mile. I wanted to test myself, to see if I’m slower this year than last, though it may not have been the best race for that.

Time for the certified 5k distance was 22:40, and pace was 7:32, 7:09, and 7:14 for mile 1, mile 2, and the last 1.1. My current PR from last year’s Monticello Riverfest 5k is 21:22, so this was 1:18 longer. Hmmm. I’m OK with that, considering the difficult start and the lack of any incentive other than pride.

Problem: Plantar fasciitis in the left foot. My heel hurt when I got up in the morning, again during the race, and even more afterward. Nuts. This has been building since before last weekend’s marathon, and not getting better. I’ve had this before; here is a proposed treatment, thanks in part to suggestions from Jim:

  • Twice-daily stretches of the calf muscles and achilles tendon (standard “runner’s stretch”),
  • Night treatments with the Strassburg Sock,
  • Tennis ball rolled under the sole of the foot several times a day to stretch the plantar fascia itself,
  • Arch support in regular shoes,
  • No hills or speedwork, and
  • Increased cushioning when running, e.g. softer shoes and softer running surfaces.
Let’s hope it works this time. I’ll let you know.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

New Blog About Myeloma

Until now, this running blog Make It a Masterpiece has included posts about both running and myeloma. No one has complained, but I suspect that most of the people interested in myeloma issues don't care much about the running posts, and vice-versa.

As of today, May 12, 2007, a new blog Myeloma Hope is created as my diary for NEW posts related to myeloma. I'm not sure how to move old myeloma posts from one blog to the other, however, so old ones will remain on Make It a Masterpiece.

Each blog will have clear links to the other, but if you have posted a link to Make It a Masterpiece on YOUR blog, and your blog is about myeloma, I hope you will switch the link to Myeloma Hope. I should have done this long ago.

Each blog will have its own RSS Feed, so you can be alerted to new posts if you care to.
Fruit bowl

Saturday Morning Run

Lobelia and streptocarpella from the Farmers Market in St PaulFive miles with the St Croix Valley runners, 40:30, pace about 8:06. Cool, enjoyable morning run with friends. I skipped the New Prague Half Marathon this morning, and didn't miss it at all. The group mostly ran together for the first mile, then gradually stretched out with Al and myself in front. We pushed each other a little, although my breathing was easy (four footfalls per full breath) until we were within a half mile of the finish. No noticeable remaining effects from the Avenue of the Giants Marathon, not even the niggling right-hamstring problem. Nice.Trilium in our own woods

I like this kind of running with friends so much, sometimes I wonder why I race at all.

After the run, a trip to the Farmers Market brightened the yard up for spring and summer.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Two Recovery Runs


Nice 5.2-mile run with the Wednesday evening Woodbury Runners and friend Jim. This was the first run since the marathon and was intended to be a “recovery” run. I went out a little fast, though, and ran a little farther than the three miles on the training schedule, 5.2 miles at a pace of about 8:00 to 8:15. I’m estimating pace because I forgot to wear a watch. Paved, partly wooded trails, good company for the first half of the run, then I returned alone to shorten the run. Right hamstring hurt a bit after three miles; perhaps I should have stuck to my schedule. Hot weather, temp 80. Casual cat

Another recovery run, 2.5 miles in 21:02, pace 8:25. Local streets, I passed my sweeties twice as they did a two-mile run. 66 degrees. Some pain in the right hamstring. I need to do my foot lifts religiously, to deal with the hamstring issue.

Two hours of lawn mowing today, dandilions are at the peak of their glory, and our prettiest flowering crab is already raining its velvet petals on passers-by. Spring has definitely sprung!

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Avenue of the Giants 2

I am still in awe of that incredibly beautiful marathon venue, almost entirely under and beside the enormous redwoods of northern California. Some marathon courses are forgettable; no such problem here.
Ancient nurse log
Two days after the marathon all is well, except there is a familiar pain in my right hamstrings which I recognize as a chronic problem that dates back several years, reappearing now and then. This time it appeared the day after the marathon. I believe it will go away if I do my stretches and exercises daily; I was a bit lax in doing these before the marathon and may have set myself up for the problem. Ease back into the routine, skip the New Prague Half Marathon, then ramp up for Grandma’s in mid-June.

Actual chip time was 3:49:59, first of five in my age group, and UNDER 3:50 by one lucky second. I did kick it up a notch when I got within sight of the finish clock and saw it so close to 3:50. It turns out that the temperature climbed from a perfect 54 at the start, no doubt lower in some wooded hollows, up to about 70 at my finish and 75 by the time my sweeties finished. Though the tall trees provided a lot of shade there were still stripes of sun across the road as well. I wore a T-shirt over a singlet at the start, but discarded the shirt at mile four. At the half I was ONE SECOND ahead of schedule for a 3:45 finish, then lost just a minute and a half off that schedule up to mile 20, and then another three and a half in the final 10k.

Of course those last miles are always the hardest in a marathon, but the rising temperature and cloudless sky didn’t help. It’s my only excuse; I did my best and never took it easy, walking only briefly at water stops and up part of two short hills near the finish. Perhaps I should have discarded even the singlet, heaven knows it’s been through enough wars and looks disreputable, full of snags from safety pins and stains from gels and sunscreen. I considered discarding it, but didn’t do so because I hadn’t applied sunscreen on skin that the singlet covers.

Sweet Pea and Eagle Momma model their finisher's shirts and medalsMy sweeties finished in a good time, friend Mary won her age group, friend Doug finished ahead of me despite foot trouble, and new friend Elizabeth finished her very first marathon. Congrats to all!

Prior to the race I had googled all of the men in my age group and found only one with a recent time that I might not be able to beat, a runner from Germany. He had recently run a 3:35 marathon, ten minutes faster than I was even attempting this time. I didn’t know him, but around mile 20 I came up behind him, identifiable by his gray hair (like mine) and a shirt with Duisburg, the name of his home town, on the back. As I passed by he seemed to be struggling a bit,and he finished about four minutes behind me. According to the Champion Chip results he was on pace for 3:35 or better at the half, then crashed in the second half. I saw him later at the awards and didn’t approach him because I didn’t want to seem to gloat, but now I’m kicking myself for not greeting him and asking him what happened. I suppose the heat got him too.

The course was interesting, two out-and-back legs of the same length on different roads, each leg almost exactly a quarter marathon on a side, half marathon round trip. Most runners got to see every other runner at least twice, once on each leg. Since the scenery was tall redwoods everywhere with a beautiful river here and there, there was no downside to seeing it twice, and in fact a big upside for me because I met my sweeties three times. I met them once, passed them once, and met them one more time. I like to know that they are doing okay.

The race allows slow runners to start an hour early. The problem with that is there are always a few fast runners who want to start early too. This gives race organizers fits. To dissuade them, all runners who use the early start are placed behind all regular starters for purposes of the three-deep age group awards, regardless of finish times. But if I heard correctly at the start line, Eagle Momma may still get an age group award because there were no regular starters in her age group, and certainly not three. I hope I heard that right! I think a 68 year old woman should get a special award for every marathon she finishes, more than just a kiss from her sweetie.

Twice now I have noticed an interesting visual phenomenon after a marathon, this time and last fall after TCM. The world suddenly appears in high contrast; whites are brighter than bright, darks are almost black, colors are brilliant. The effect is noticeable within two or three minutes after finishing, and lasts for at least ten minutes. I suppose that it has something to do with blood chemistry, low glycogen or something. As far as I know my cognitive brain function remains normal, although someone else might be a better judge of that. If you've had a similar experience, or know what causes this, I'd love to hear from you.

We're back home now, safe and sound.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Avenue of the Giants 1

Kitty has a way of saying she'd like to go alongSeveral marathons advertise the beauty of their race course. Avenue of the Giants Marathon is one that really produces. Imagine running among trees as wide as a car is long, and hundreds of feet tall. We did it Sunday, and we all finished. Don, Sweet Pea, and Eagle Momma.
Eagle Momma & Sweet Pea ready to run the Avenue
As a side benefit, I did win my age group. Results are not up yet, so I don’t know my exact time, or the number of other old farts in my age group, but the award is home in my hot little fist and I’M NOT GIVING IT BACK! :-)
Most of the race looked like this.
I was shooting for 3:45 and only made about 3:50, but I’m not very disappointed because I did the best that I could today. More marathon report tomorrow or the next day, and maybe I’ll whine about my time in that blog, but maybe not. Who can really be disappointed among those wonderful trees. Almost the entire course is under those trees, reaching out to each other high over the Avenue, making the road, cars, and people insignificant. Mostly we looked forward, but UP was a great view tooAnd after I finished, I walked back a few miles to collect Sweet Pea and Eagle Momma, and enjoyed the trees again at a more leisurely pace. They even smell wonderful.

In addition to the trees, the race itself allows an early start and never leaves a runner out on the course. Everyone gets to finish. I couldn’t recommend a race more highly; it’s a delightful experience.
Sweet Pea and Eagle Momma truckin' along about two miles from the finish
No pains, or should I say no bad pain - only good pain. Left foot hurts a little, heel and ball, but this is not new and I know it will go away. Otherwise there is only muscle soreness, which is a good pain. This was the first training run for Grandma’s in June.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

So-so Doctor Visit

Purple and white violets, volunteering in the gardenYesterday my oncologist/hematologist gave me the results from last week’s tests.

IgG, M-spike, and Beta-2 Microglobulin were all up from a month ago, though none very much. Lambda light chains were down a little. Actual values are displayed graphically in the charts and numerically in the test result table. In short, it appears that the cancer is still advancing slowly despite the thalidomide treatment. Time for something new.

The doctor suggested Revlimid. I proposed, instead, a two-month respite to let the effects of the thalidomide settle out, followed by an "alternative medicine" curcumin regimen. That will probably mean eight grams of curcumin daily, with bioperine and an oil to enhance bioavailability. We will continue that regimen until a result is evident, and then start Revlimid and dexamethasone if the curcumin has not stabilized the cancer. He readily agreed; I'm proud of him!

Meantime, we will do tests every month to see what’s happening, and I will meet with the doctor again in two months.

An interesting side note: The doctor asked about my running. When I told him that I won my age group in the recent Austin Marathon, he said that he was surprised that I was feeling so well and running so well, considering the test results. He further remarked that some of the CBC and chem test results showed evidence of very good nutrition. Kudos to Eagle Momma.

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Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Afternoon Taper Run

Flowering carb tree is about to burst into bloomNice taper run in the mid-afternoon sun. 67 degrees, breezy, really very enjoyable. 4.4 miles in 35:56, pace 8:08, faster than intended but what the heck. That is a marathon PR pace, and I’m not going for a PR this Sunday, so I can rein it in a little. The good news is it didn’t feel like I was working that hard. Breathing was four footfalls per full breath, more on uphills. No pains. I used the marathon race shoes just to be sure they are OK.

Saw the oncologist (cancer doc) today. News was neither bad nor good. More in the next post.