Friday, January 30, 2009

Oh My Aching Hips

I’m surprised. After Wednesday’s 16-mile walk/run both hip joints felt like they had been well-used, but nothing more. On Thursday, however, they got progressively more sore. Not the kind of sore that indicates injury, fortunately, only the kind that says the hips were TOO well used. But they sure were SORE! They were at their worst in the middle of last night when I had to get up to pee - I could only totter to the toilet like a little old arthritic man. The hips improved a little by this morning, but were still sore during the day today.

Nevertheless my sweeties and I went to the club to run on the indoor track. I was prepared to stop after one lap, or two paces for that matter, but in fact after the first lap the hips didn’t hurt at all. I suppose the hip pain was caused by the WALKING part of Wednesday’s 16-miler, not the running part. Huh. Today, after the six-mile run, the hip pain (while walking) was about the same as it had been before the run. We’ll see how it is tomorrow. I’m looking forward to an achy night I guess, but maybe not made much worse by today’s run. Bed sounds pretty good right now anyway.

Meantime the run went fine. I started easy and finished with a little flourish. Toward the end I was pretty tired, the toe blister was bothering a little, and the girls seemed done, so I stopped at six instead of the intended eight. But I’ll keep it; it’s a masterpiece!

Splits: 9:02, 8:52, 8:47, 8:49, 8:43, 8:21, total 52:35, overall pace 8:46. Breathing was four footfalls per full breath throughout.

Dinner: Organic chicken with organic salted cashews, organic chard, cucumbers, organic red wine vinegar.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Sixteen Miles the Easy Way

Half run, half walk. In a few short weeks I’ll be running a marathon without really being trained for one. I figure I’m trained OK for a half marathon right now, but for various reasons I haven’t done a run longer than 10 miles since November. I could just go TRY to run a 20-miler, but that would invite injury. So today the girls and I ran for about three hours on the indoor track, and for most of that I ran a half mile and then walked the second half. It really worked pretty well. The pace was slow, but on target for about a 5-hour marathon. Considering that my most recent three marathons averaged about 4:30 when I was supposedly trained for them, 5 hours is OK.

Does a runner have a most-efficient running pace? A pace that uses the least energy and causes the least wear and tear PER MILE? I think so. Go faster than that pace and burn up too much of the body’s resources too quickly. We know this is true because, when we run a mile as fast as we can, there just isn’t much left for any more miles. Or, go slower than the most-efficient running pace and we expend almost as much energy and resources just to keep going, but we don’t get done soon enough. There’s a "sweet spot," or so I believe, though it may be fairly broad. For me that seems to be a pace of roughly 8:45 to 9:15 right now.

But I certainly can’t run 9:15 for a whole 26 miles, not yet anyway. So some of the distance has to be walked. My current theory is that we may be better off running at our most-efficient pace and walking some, rather than trying to run the whole way, but more slowly at a less-efficient pace. Galloway thinks so too. The question is "how much walking?" For today, half and half (by distance) was decided in advance. I found myself going about 8:45 to 8:50 when running, and about 13:44 when walking. That’s a brisk walk, by the way. Entirely coincidental that 13:44 is exactly the required pace for a 6-hour marathon.


  • Plenty of energy left at the end of 16 miles;
  • In fact I felt fine and ran the last two without walking;
  • Mild backache (left side, belly-button high, muscle, not bones or joints) from the walking, not the running;
  • I tried to bind up last Thursday’s blister beforehand, but it bled a little anyway;
  • Knee and hip joints feel like they’ve gone all 16 miles; but
  • Muscles don’t. That’s cool.
One nice feature of this technique: During the run half of a mile I looked forward to the walk, and during the walk half I actually looked forward to the run. It was quite enjoyable; the three hours passed quickly.

I guess this was my long run for the marathon, unless we do it again next week. That’s OK.. I took water every two miles and Clif Shot twice.

Splits: 11:21, 11:11, 11:05, 11:13, 11:12, 11:13, 11:07, 11:13, 11:18, 11:27, 11:12, 11:26, 11:15, 11:26, 8:52, 8:35, total 2:55:04. Overall pace 10:57. Time for the first 14 miles 2:37:38, pace for that distance 11:16. Required pace for a 5-hour marathon 11:26.

Dinner: Wild-caught Alaskan sockeye salmon with organic yogurt and herbs, organic blueberries, organic beet greens with orange slices.

Lunch: Sloppy joes with ground no-hormone no-antibiotics grain-fed beef and organic catsup, organic broccoli, organic refried beans with organic mustard, ruby red grapefruit.

Saturday, January 24, 2009


On the training plan for today was a 13-mile run, the St Paul Winter Carnival Half Marathon. But at minus ten degrees, I chickened out, even though they had cut it to 6.5 miles, and ran on the indoor track at the club instead. I wanted to run seven miles, and was doing fine, when Thursday’s blister started to bother again, even though covered by a band-aid. No runner stops for a mere blister on a toe, but:

  • We have a marathon coming up soon,
  • It is possible for a blister to become infected,
  • Theoretically, my immune system is compromised because of the myeloma and the chemo,
  • So an infection could possibly take me out of the marathon,
  • I’d rather finish the marathon at ANY speed than sit home with a swollen toe or foot, and
  • Two more miles of training really wouldn’t make much difference.
So I stopped at five miles, did my stretches, and went home to treat the blister and run again another day.

Good news though - for those five miles I had a really good run - no other pains. Excellent run in fact. Overall pace 8:41, and the breathing was easy. I think of myself as a morning runner, but I’m having good runs in the afternoon lately. It’s a masterpiece.

Splits: 8:48, 8:35, 8:47, 8:32, 8:42, total 43:24, pace 8:41.

Lunch: Organic chicken with spices, organic baked beans with a squirt of organic mustard, organic mixed vegetables.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Ten More Miles

Good 10-mile run! I wasn’t so sure it would be, because it seemed I had to push too hard as miles four, five, and six curled by on the rectangular track. But then it seemed to get a little easier again and I had no trouble maintaining a pace of nine minutes per mile for the rest of the way. In fact, I ramped it up just a little in the last mile without a major effort.

This run was NOT done at a race pace. Breathing was four footfalls per full breath throughout, a "cruising" pace, maybe a tempo pace, going to three footfalls only in the final two laps of the track. I took water after finishing every even mile. I walk when I drink, and this costs me about 15 seconds (four swallows - about five ounces), which accounts for the longer splits in the odd miles. No pains, not even the right hip flexors, except for a little blister on the inside of the right big toe. Oh, well. It’s still a masterpiece!

Marathon coming up in a few weeks. No way I’ll be properly prepared for it - just not enough time left. So what is a reasonable strategy for running it anyway? A few years back I ran the Kiawah Island Marathon while recovering from an injury, doing alternate miles of jogging and walking. That worked pretty well, actually, and I was able to switch to all running for most of the last six miles, finishing in 5:19. Perhaps I’ll use a similar principle this time. Half miles of each would probably be better.

Splits: 8:58, 8:44, 9:01, 8:54, 9:08, 8:52, 9:07, 8:49, 8:59, 8:33, total 1:29:03, overall pace 8:54.

Last Night's Dinner
Last night's dinner: No-hormone no-antibiotics beef, organic beans, organic carrots, organic strawberry.

Fog this morning, and eight degrees above zero. The fog collects as frost on the tops of our oak trees, then after the fog lifts, the frost is illuminated by the sun and eventually falls to the ground in little chunks.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Inauguration Miles

Seven miles at the circular (actually rectangular) track at the club. I thought I felt the right adductor muscle for a moment, and was afraid that I’d have to stop, but it went away and stayed away. There is often just a little pain in the right hip flexors, and it’s easy to get those pains confused - have to think about it a little to be sure which is which. Anyway no pains that matter today.

I didn’t feel full of energy, but still ran an 8:47 pace for the seven miles. Not great, but good enough. Breathing was on the edge of three footfalls per full breath much of the way, indicating almost a race pace. Anyway it’s a masterpiece!

Normally I don’t eat anything (except maybe a latte) before a morning run. But I had such a good run last Saturday, I wondered if it was partly because I had inadvertently chomped down a couple of handfuls of cashews just before we left for the club. So today I tried a dollop of peanut butter, thinking that maybe nuts might give a little energy without forcing the stomach to demand too much of the limited supply of blood. But I don’t think it helped. I know that peanuts are not cashews, but I think Saturday’s good run was not about the nuts, it was because I had taken several days off because of the adductor injury. I’m getting old - it takes longer to recover, and days to recover fully. Speaks to the importance of taper before a marathon, or maybe before any race.

Splits: 8:53, 8:37, 8:40, 8:47, 8:50, 8:51, 8:51, total 1:01:29, pace 8:47.

Watching the successful inauguration today, my heart is bursting with hope. President Obama can’t possibly meet all of the expectations that we have for him, nor could anyone. Nevertheless the country will improve not only economically but morally and ethically, perhaps to become a model for the world once again. With our support, he can do it. See

Last night's DEX dinner: Wild-caught Alaskan sockeye salmon with organic yogurt and herbs, organic spinach with artichoke hearts and melted cheese, organic peas.

This morning's post-run breakfast (& lunch): Organic oatmeal, organic blueberries, papaya, organic strawberries, cantaloupe, organic walnuts, very-dark chocolate, organic fat-free milk. Hard to believe that the berries are available in January, but there they are, and not outrageously expensive either.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

I ran a mile race!

But not very fast. Yesterday I was bellyaching about how much I hate to run the mile, and today I found the solution - go slow. We went to Bethel University today to run on their indoor track with the Charities Challenge indoor races. Because of the recent problem with the right adductor muscle, I intended to collect some mileage and not run any races, running the straights and walking the curves, which worked wonderfully well. No pains of any kind. Yay!

But when the organizers called for the second heat of the mile, perhaps ten runners or so, I thought I could use that same procedure in the mile race - run the straights and walk the ends. It worked just fine. The leader lapped me at least twice, maybe three times, but I was doing OK and I stuck to my regimen; no running on the curves. At the end of the eighth lap the clock read 9:41 or so, very slow, but I have none of the coughing and sore throat symptoms that usually result from a one-mile race. First time I've ever enjoyed running the mile race.

At the end of the day I logged eight miles on the track, about half running and half walking. I will count it all as running, though, because I ran the straights much faster than I would have if I were running continuously. It was a day of sprints, or very short intervals, or whatever you might call it. Quads are a little sore, so it was something! I really enjoyed it. Seven days after the adductor injury I seem to be getting past it. I feel tired but otherwise just fine. It’s a masterpiece!

Fruit bowl
Simple fruit bowl: Blueberries, organic strawberries, organic fat-free yogurt, Dove dark chocolate. Might be a banana under there too, but it doesn't look like it. This is a low-calorie, very nutritious treat.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Wahoo - Good Run

Saturday, Jan 17:

Yesterday I was able to run almost a mile on the track at the club before the injured right adductor muscle made known its presence, requiring me to stop. Today I was hopeful of running longer, intending to stop at three miles if by some chance I should be able to run that far without pain. Lo and behold, however, I passed two miles with no pain and running very easily, then got to three miles and decided to run one more if the adductor held out. I stopped after four miles, still with no pain, each mile faster than the previous, overall pace 8:28. One of the best short runs in the last few months. It’s a masterpiece!

I could easily have run more miles. I stopped because we have more running to do tomorrow, and I didn’t want to re-injure the adductor or anything else. It felt very good to stop without having to stop. YAY!

Last February it took ten days to get past this little injury, and this time it took six. The difference is that I recognized the injury immediately last Sunday when it started, and I stopped running without making it any worse.

The Meet of the Miles one-mile race was last Monday, and I had hoped to run it. But I couldn’t with the injured adductor, and even if I could have run it, driving to the event was risky at best because of the weather that evening. We stayed home. Before we knew we weren’t going, though, the question was "how fast can I run a mile?" Last year I ran 6:12, but this year would be much slower. How fast should I TRY to run it? A 6:00 mile calls for eight laps of 45 seconds each, and an 8:00 mile calls for 1:00 laps. I thought that I could do an 8:00 mile, but not a 6:00 mile, so how fast should I try to run the laps? 52.5 seconds comes out to 7:00 - I wonder if I can do that. After today I’m sure that 8:00 is too easy - I should go for 7:00 or so. Perhaps I’ll try that at one of the Charities Challenge Events.

Or not. I hate the mile. Shorter runs and longer runs hurt my lungs and throat less. The mile is the worst, because of the intense breathing for the required six or eight minutes. I end up coughing for hours afterward, even the next day, and it’s likely that my throat and lungs are vulnerable to infection for that time, especially since my immune system is somewhat compromised by the cancer. Maybe it doesn’t matter how fast I can run it - I don’t HAVE to run any miles this year. Just say NO! Sounds good. I'd rather tun a marathon. Really.

Splits: 8:50, 8:31, 8:24, 8:06, total 33:52, pace 8:28. Love that last mile!

Friday, Jan 16:

Today is five days after the beginning of the pain in the adductor muscle, and I was able to run almost a mile before the pain reappeared. Yesterday I could run three laps at the club, today it was twelve. That’s good progress. Try again tomorrow. :-) Pace 9:20 in the short mile.

After the run I spent another 300 calories on the elliptical and a bicycle trainer. Found some muscles that I don’t usually use!

Thursday, Jan 15:

Nuts. I tried running at the club, and was pain-free for 2 ½ laps. Then the adductor muscle started to yell again. Hmmm. Looking back at last February when this same injury happened, it took about ten days for the problem to resolve. Meantime I used the bicycle, elliptical, and steps machines with no pain. Walking is pain-free too.

Tuesday's lunch
Tuesday's lunch: Alaskan wild-caught sockeye salmon with yogurt and herbs, organic vegetable mix, organic pickled beets.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Zoom! Yah! Yah! Indoor Marathon

We drove to Northfield to spectate at the Zoom! Yah! Yah! Indoor Marathon and run a few miles on the downstairs 200 m track while the marathoners collected their 150 laps above. It worked very well indeed - we were rooting for blogger ShirleyPerly and a few others that we knew or got to know, and we would see them about twice each lap. Lots of cheering. That marathon sounds like it would be such a tedious snore, but in fact it’s a lot of fun, with only 40 runners who see each other and the highly supportive lap counters many times over as the morning unwinds. There’s a marvelous spirit in that building. We ran it a couple of yers ago, and really enjoyed spectating today.

The lap counters are the St Olaf College women’s track team.

Unfortunately for me, though, I started to pull an adductor muscle after a couple of miles. It hurt even to run a straight line, so I stopped running immediately. I hope it isn’t badly injured. The same thing happened about this time last year while running on oval rubber tracks - I’m not sure why. It’s clearly an overuse injury, but I’m not sure exactly how I’m overusing it. Last year, though, I tried to keep on running and probably injured the adductor more than I should have, far more than today. I’ll come up with a plan for getting past it. Sigh.

Walking didn’t hurt, so I walked a few more miles with Sunshine and Sweet Pea. And cheered.

Great to see ShirlyPerly in person. We had a nice chat after the race. She is a VERY good runner, even ran negative splits! And we enjoyed her company, brief as it was. Godspeed and a safe trip home, Shirley.

Zoom! Yah! Yah! Indoor Marathon
Don, Shirley, Sweet Pea, Sunshine

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Four Easy Miles

St Croix Valley Runners, about 4 miles. This time I ran with George, five minutes of run and one minute of walk - he is coming back from an injury and I wasn’t in a rush because I ran ten miles yesterday and could still feel it. We ran about four miles in about 42 minutes or so. I think - I didn’t click my watch. Anyway a nice run, good chat with George, and no pains of any kind. At all. Lovely.

Today's breakfast: Gluten-free oatmeal with dried cranberries, banana, papaya, blueberries, organic walnuts, Dove dark chocolate, organic fat-free milk.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Ten Mile Run

No big deal for most runners, but it’s my longest run since the Indianapolis Monumental Marathon on Nov 1. All good: pace is just about 9:00 minute miles, and no pains! I’m a happy runner today.

I didn’t have a LOT of energy, even though I had taken two full days off. I think that’s probably because I had eaten a fairly big breakfast just two hours before starting the run, and the stomach competes for blood. Also, I shoveled snow for a half hour just before driving to the club. Breathing was four footfalls per full breath until about mile seven, after which the breathing rate increased to three much of the time, especially the last mile. Three footfalls per full breath indicates a race pace.

Going for 30 miles this week, I actually finished 29. Close enough.

Splits: 8:58, 8:53, 9:08, 8:53, 9:11, 8:51, 9:08, 8:54, 9:21, 8:38, total 1:29:55, pace 9:00 overall. The longer intervals in the odd miles occurred because I walked about a half lap while drinking water after finishing each even mile.

Lunch: Organic chicken, cucumber, organic chard with pine nuts.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

DEX Does Make a Difference!

Yesterday I was exhausted after a seven mile run on the indoor track, and today I felt much better and ran much more easily. I stopped at six miles for reasons other than exhaustion, but I think I could have gone the rest of the intended ten miles without dropping below 9-minute miles. The difference is that yesterday I was on dexamethasone (DEX), a myeloma treatment, and today the effect of that DEX had mostly worn off.

I stopped because the right quads were hurting again. Apparently I injured them a little in last Thursday’s 200 m sprint, and probably re-injured them a little yesterday, trying to run with a DEX-throttled glucose supply. But there are other things going on too:

  • I did feel just a hint of trouble from the left Achilles tendon, mindful of what I felt last year after running the same sprints;
  • There is a little pain in the arch of my left foot, though not when I am wearing shoes with arch support; and
  • Though this is probably not related to running, I’m feeling a pain in the gut a couple inches to the left of the navel. I need to log that somewhere, so here it is. I have an idea what may have caused it, but that will be for the myeloma blog after the next Mayo visit.
Anyway no more running for at least two days, and even then I will run where I can easily stop if any of those pains should reappear. We have a marathon coming up in mid-February - I don’t really care how fast I can run it, but I sure don’t want to be injured going into it.

Splits: 8:58, 8:44, 8:59, 6:52 (.78 mi), 9:02, 8:42, total 51:19, pace 8:53.

Today's lunch
Today's lunch: Two-egg cheese omelet, all organic, with organic salsa and organic mixed vegetables.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Woofed Again

Seven miles on DEX (dexamethasone) day. I was supposed to run those miles yesterday, but the right quads hurt too much and I stopped after one mile. I wouldn’t choose to run much on DEX day because the DEX prevents muscles from properly replenishing their gluten supply from the blood, but today I had to do the miles in order to stick to the schedule of 30 miles for the week.

That schedule shows 10 miles tomorrow and seven Thursday, but perhaps I’ll reverse that. The ten-miler will be done at a nine-minute pace if possible. I’ll feel stronger tomorrow and Thursday. Today the right quads hurt just a little at the start, and I was prepared to stop again, but after a mile or two the pain disappeared. I felt good, too, for the first three miles. Then breathing went from four to three footfalls per full breath (two out, one in) and stayed there, indicating a race pace. I was obliged to slow down, and my legs are REALLY tired.

Splits: 8:51, 8:47, 8:52, 9:02, 9:12, 9:18, 9:24, total 1:03:27, pace 9:04.

Normal winter breakfast: Gluten-free oatmeal with dried cranberries, blueberries, organic walnuts, banana, 85% dark chocolate, and fat-free organic milk. Not shown: Two eggs fried over easy in a tad of coconut oil. Unlike previous years, blueberries have so far been available all winter at Sam's and Costco, though not organic ones. Strawberries have been patchy - we only eat organic ones so we don't find them often. No nectarines, peaches, plums, mango, or any of the other delectable seasonal fruits. Pineapple is quite available - I should probably have more pineapple. Kiwi too, except it tends to curdle the milk :-)

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Runners Live Longer

Maybe I'm the last to notice this interesting piece of research - It was big news last August, but I just found it today after chasing a very short description on CNN this morning. Bottom lines:

  • Middle-aged to elderly runners live longer than non-runners, and
  • They also have fewer injuries of all kinds, including knee injuries.
The Stanford University study included 284 runners and 156 similar, healthy people as controls. All had similar socioeconomic backgrounds and all were at least 50 years old at the beginning of the study.

After 19 years, 15% of the runners had died compared with 34% of the non-running control group. Furthermore, runners also suffered significantly less disability.

Well we knew this all the time, didn't we? It adds a third meaning to the bumper sticker "Marathoners Do It Longer."

Here are some references:So keep on running! We do keep on, don't we!

Today, Sunday, Jan 04:

Just one mile today. I intended to run eight miles on the track at the club, but my right quads hurt from Thursday’s 200 m sprint. I ran the one mile (8:51) to see if it would go away, but it only got a lillte worse. So I stopped. I don’t believe in running on pain unless I’m sure that I’m not going to do additional damage, and I was not at all sure. It feels like the pain of muscles pushed just a little beyond their ability. If I wait until the pain is gone, the muscles will be better for it.

This turned out to be a great opportunity to do resistance training instead. I’ve been letting that slip lately - not today.

Dinner: Wild-caught Alaskan sockeye salmon, organic vegetable mix with slivered almonds, organic blue-corn chips with flax seeds.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Good Start to 2009

Saturday, Jan 3, 2009:

St Croix Runners regular five-mile Saturday run. Dave, Dave, Tom, Luke, & Paul. Everyone finished ahead of me but Paul, who is about my speed right now. But I did well enough considering other recent runs and today’s conditions, which were slippery with some loose snow. Also, I had some unexpected soreness in the quads from Thursday's 200 m race. Who'da thunk? Time 44:24, pace 8:53.

No pains of any kind. Nike miler shoes.

Thursday, Jan 1, 2009, New Years Day:

Another Charities Challenge event at Bethel University . Last month I ran the 400 m race once and then didn’t run any races at all in the second event. This time I ran the 200 m, in 36.7 seconds, which is only about 2 seconds behind my PR from last year. Not bad! I’m very happy with that result.

Slight pain in the right knee as I ran around the indoor track for the remainder of six miles. And a little No other pains until the next day :-)

Tuesday, Dec 30, 2008:

I had a coach once who said a runner should never let more than 48 hours pass between runs. He believed that muscles would atrophy or freeze up after that amount of time. By that measure, today’s 6-mile run at the club was a day late, more than 72 hours after last Saturday’s run.

But this was a good run, with no evidence that the extra delay caused any harm. I started out at a pace that felt natural, and finished the first mile a little more quickly than usual. The miles after that were also quicker than usual, with an overall pace of 8:36, the best I’ve done for a six-mile run in a while.

Breathing was four footfalls per full breath for the first five miles, with an occasional increase to three footfalls in the last mile. Slight pain in the right hip flexors toward the end - wish that would go away. I’m trying a new stretch to see if that helps. Slight pain in the right knee after the run was over.

Splits: 8:53, 8:34, 8:31, 8:34, 8:39, 8:26, total 51:37, pace 8:36.

Bison Burger Dinner: Everything is organic.