Saturday, December 24, 2011

Recovery Runs

Saturday, December 24, 2011:

Temperature reports from the assembled runners varied between 10 and 15 degrees this morning. I wore a balaclava on my head, then four layers on top, all technical, with a running-style wind jacket outside, and running pants with foam knee covers, and finally my rubber-cleated running shoes with long, heavy socks. Perfect. I might as well have been indoors.

I hadn’t run with Wayne for quite a while, so we took the Lake McKusick route (a.k.a. Wayne’s Route) and chatted away the five miles. A very enjoyable run. I walked a few steps downhill, but otherwise ran the whole way. Not too fast, though. We got a half inch or so of snow last night, which takes a little extra energy, and winter clothing is slower too, so the run took us 49 minutes. That’s a pace of 9:48 - good enough for today. No pains.

Thursday, December 22, 2011:

The marathon in Delaware was last Saturday, and then we enjoyed Cape Henlopen for a day, plus two days driving home and one more shoveling snow and scrambling to get things back to semi-normal. So today was the first run after the marathon.

With only a little snow on the grass trails, I went for a 3.7-mile jog in the park. I love running in that park. This time I was able to run up most of the hills, but walked downhill because there were some slippery spots. The “sports hernia” (abdominal wall strain) hurt a little, but that resolved after a bit and nothing else hurt. I got away with another marathon without injury!

A lovely run, about 43 minutes, pace abut 11:37, not very fast but I was pretty careful on that snow. Next time I’ll wear my cleated running shoes perhaps. It’s a masterpiece.

Christmas Eve day lunch, all organic. That's broiled chicken:

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Fortitude for First Descents Marathon, Lewes, Delaware

This sweet little marathon was scheduled for August in Cape Henlopen State Park, but was rescheduled because of a hurricane that came by exactly at the wrong time. That was our good fortune, though, because we couldn’t make it in August.

The mission of the marathon is fund-raising. "First Descents is committed to curing young adults of the emotional effects of cancer and empowering them to regain control of their lives by experiencing outdoor adventure therapy through kayaking, rock climbing and other outdoor adventure sports." We didn’t contribute much to the fund-raising, just the entry fee, but we definitely enjoyed their marathon.

Good Stuff:

  • It wasn’t a certified race, but I think it was at least 26.2 miles. All three of us agreed that we worked just as hard as we had in the recent rainy and hilly Seattle Marathon, and we needed just a bit more time to finish this one than we needed in Seattle.
  • The spark plug of the race is Elysa, I think, who is also on another mission: www.racethestates.com. If so, then I think that Lynne (at run the day dot com) was the engine. She did LOTS.
  • The course is relatively flat. I can think of three places where I was glad to get to the top, but actually the top wasn’t very high. It’s not quite flat, but it’s not really hilly either.
  • The course was a combination of roads, paved trails, and crushed-rock trail. Honestly I loved that rocky trail, winding through the woods, up hill and down dale. It was well made and I would have been delighted to run the whole 26 miles on it. Alas, that piece was probably only a mile long, but we did it four times!
  • Cape Henlopen State Park is a pine forest, with the forest floor covered in brown pine needles. I saw some junipers too, but mostly is was pine, whatever kind of pine will grow in sand.
  • Marathoners ran the 6.55-mile loop through the forest four times, while the half-marathoners ran it twice. In addition, another quarter mile or so was tacked on the front of the race, because, perhaps, the race organizers wanted to be sure that the course wasn’t short. I didn’t ask about that though.
  • There were three aid stations, placed a little over two miles apart. Each had water, energy drink, energy gels, and delightful volunteers.
  • The U.S. Army shares part of the park, and assisted at some of the aid stations. Also, along the way, are relics of the armaments of World War II, with 8-inch guns (I think) for taking out ships and submarines, and 3-inch guns (for sure) for air defense, along with many well-spaced mostly-underground munitions bunkers.
  • German submarines actually sank 400 vessels off the East Coast of the U.S. during that war. Delaware bay gives access to several major ports, which would have been vulnerable to attack, hence the formidable defenses.
  • A German sub surrendered off Cape Henlopen, after hearing that the war had ended. No shots fired.
  • Considering the pine forest, the rocky trail, the war history, and splendid views of the ocean, I didn’t mind repeating the same loop four times. Delightful.
  • Weather was pretty good, considering what it could have been. Average temperature was probably between 40 and 42, with sunny skies for the first two loops and cloudy for the last two, but no rain. The only problem was wind, which was muted by the pines much of the way.
  • Also, according to the race web site, the horseflies are fewer at this time of year! Indeed, there were none.
  • Not so good: They had soup and other food for race finishers, but that shut down early, probably about 5 hours after the start. Really, if it’s a six-hour marathon, the finishers’ area should stay open for six hours! If the aid-station volunteers can tough it out in the wind, then so can the people in the warm building.
My Race:
  • Marathon number 61, state number 42, finish time 5:32:40, probably third of three in my ancient age group of 70 and up (results are not up yet).
  • Early on I thought I was running short on energy, but that didn’t happen. The last loop was only a little slower than the others.
  • I ran and walked, as usual. Most of the time I ran 30 seconds and walked about 50, but often cut the walking part shorter. I suppose that I actually ran more than half the distance, though not half the time.
  • I passed our car four times on the course, so I used it as a private aid station, dropping a shirt after the first loop and picking up gels three times.
  • The temperature was right on the edge for shorts, but they worked out fine. For most of the way I wore a wind jacket over a single long-sleeved wicking shirt, plus ear cover and gloves.
  • Interesting: Our car remotes worked very poorly in the parking lot, and even worse near the finish-area building. We thought something in the car had failed. However, I suspect that a nearby radar installation was interfering with the tiny radio signals from the remotes. They work just fine now, away from the park.
  • Six gels (with caffeine, the only legal performance-enhancing drug), eight or nine ThermoTab salt tablets. I took one or the other at every aid station.
  • Because of the interesting multi-loop course and a few out-back segments I bumped into my sweeties running the half marathon at least three times. I like that.
  • Whining: The right knee hurt just a little, but that went away. The “sports hernia” (abdominal wall strain) hurt a bit toward the end, but was never a limiting factor. The left hamstrings got sore, up near the top of the muscles, but were not limiting. Calves threatened to cramp, but didn’t. All in all, pace was limited by energy and nothing else. I probably couldn’t have run it much faster.
Splits: This was partly a trail marathon, so there were no mile markers, but I recorded a few times passing the finish line: 1:24:22 (one loop plus maybe 1/4 mile), 2:43:13 (two loops), 1:25:04 (one loop), total 5:32:40, overall pace 12:41. Again, though, I believe that the course might have been at least a quarter mile long. That’s OK - better long than short!

Sunshine and Don discussing the course during the race:

Monday, December 12, 2011

Team Continuum Run

At the conference of the American Society of Hematology (ASH) in San Diego, we held a small run to get publicity for Team Continuum and Tackle Cancer. Both charities were started by men with myeloma. Patrick Crayton of the San Diego Chargers came to see us off, in honor of his friend Elijah Alexander, who has died since starting Tackle Cancer. The press was there, especially some of the foreign press covering the ASH conference.

We had a very nice 4-mile run along the waterfront. I suggested 10-minute miles, and I think we went a bit faster than that because I was dragging toward the end, but I needed it and felt good afterward. San Diego is a great place to run.

Before and after the run, the reporters interviewed me about running marathons with cancer. I’m surprised to find that I enjoy those interviews.

Thanks again to Patrick Crayton, a great guy and friend of another great guy.

Sunday, December 04, 2011

Charities Challenge Indoor Races

Gary Westlund’s Charities Challenge hosts a Sunday morning indoor track event at Bethel University several times during the winter, and today was the first. There are races at 60 m, 200 m, 400 m, 800 m, 1500 m (sometimes a mile instead), and 5km. This time a 5k racewalk was on tap, and a 400 m relay as well.

Usually I race when I go there, but today I mostly just wanted to log a few miles on the outer perimeter of the track and enjoy watching the races on the inner lanes. I ran 3 1/2 miles, and then decided to do an 800 m race after all. I finished that in about 3:40, which is not a good time, even for me.

Leg muscles felt weary, though, even before the race, possibly from a marathon a week ago, and undoubtedly from running a 3 1/2 mile warmup at a pretty good pace.

Wild Alaskan sockeye salmon (canned) with peas and cheese, strawberries, dills, and heritage cherry tomatoes. All organic but the salmon and the cheese:

Saturday, December 03, 2011

Stillwater Dome

Stillwater Dome, otherwise known as the St Croix Valley Recreation Center. I used to run in cold weather, but since we discovered the Stillwater Dome we like to run indoors when it’s below 32 degrees. Friday we went to the Dome for the first time this winter. Not a lot of people there yet, but the crowds will build as the temperature drops.

This was the first real run since Sunday’s marathon, and it felt so good. I ran, without walking, for at least 35 minutes, and then walked one short edge, running the rest, for another 10 minutes. I think the pace was 10-minute miles or faster, so the distance was probably at least 4.5 miles.

The runner’s knee is back, though. I don’t know if it’s from running with no walk breaks, or from all of the corners in a soccer dome. Anyway it wasn’t bad and we’ll see how it goes.

Oatmeal with organic raisins, organic yogurt, frozen organic blueberries, fresh organic strawberries, kiwi, chocolate:

Friday, December 02, 2011

CNN Story Good News Bad News

Good News:

My little story about cancer man running marathons is on Headline News today. I've seen it twice, at about 9:13 and 10:13 am.

Bad News:

A longer version was scheduled for the Sanjay Gupta M.D. show, at 6:30 am this Saturday and Sunday. It has been slipped one week, however, because Dr. Gupta will focus on AIDS this weekend. So it should appear December 10 & 11, both days, at 6:30 am CST. Maybe?

Online Version:

It is already available online at CNN Blogs. This version also includes an article which I wrote.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

CNN Story

While I was in Washington DC a month ago, CNN interviewed me for their "Human Factor" segment - a guy running marathons with cancer. The story aired Tuesday morning, Nov 29, on their American Morning show.

It is available on CNN's blog pages: http://thechart.blogs.cnn.com/category/human-factor/, along with a short written story.

The video is also available without the text here: http://www.cnn.com/video/#/video/health/2011/11/29/hf-don-wright-marathon.cnn.

It will probably air again at least once on Headline News, sometime during the week. Finally, it is likely to be included in the Dr. Sanjay Gupta MD show, which airs at 6:30 am CST on Saturday and Sunday.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Seattle Marathon

It rained every drop of the way. After all, this is Seattle in November! I asked one person who had been involved in a decision to keep it in November, and he said that the Board of Directors wanted it that way. Personally, I think it’s part of the Seattle mystique: This is Seattle and you get the weather that you are dealt, even if it IS usually rain.

Actually, though, it wasn’t so bad. The temperature was within a degree or two of 50 throughout my race, actually dropping slightly, the rain was never more than moderate (with less than 1/4 inch total accumulation during my race), and there was no need for sun screen! The only fly in the ointment was the wind, 10-15 mph SSW gusting to more than 20. In a few places this mattered a lot, making a flat run seem like uphill and a lovely downhill seem flat. But that can happen in any city and any weather.

My Race:

  • Finish 5:26:23, roughly a half hour faster than the most-recent two marathons, making me second of three in my 70-74 age group. Marathon number 60 since diagnosis, and Washington is state number 41, a total success. Nine states left - I can easily tick them off on my fingers now. Vermont, New Hampshire, Delaware, Maryland, West Virginia, Mississippi, New Mexico, Alaska, and Hawaii.
  • No pains worth bitching about, isn’t that nice? Sometimes my speed is limited by a pain somewhere, but today it was just muscle fatigue, which happens in any marathon.
  • According to the published results my second half was three minutes slower than the first half, which is about right. I don’t believe in negative splits any more - small positive splits give the best time.
  • I shot for a 5:30 finish. I wonder if I could have gone a little faster if I had aimed a little higher (lower?). Hard to know.
  • I wore shorts, a technical (wicking) LS t-shirt, a runner’s wind jacket, ear cover, and gloves. Perfect. I was never cold until after the finish.
  • There were lots and lots of Team in Training (TNT) runners to thank. TNT raises money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, which funds research on blood cancers like mine. I like to tell thm how much I appreciate it.
  • I ran with (sort of) the 5:30 pace team, which must have finished on time. Near the end I went out ahead by a minute or two, and now regret that I didn’t hang around for a couple of minutes to thank the pace team leader and tell her how important she was in helping me pace my race. She was a TNT runner, and I’m going to try to get a message to TNT.
  • As usual I ran for Team Continuum, which was started by a guy with myeloma and supports families overwhelmed by the costs of cancer.
  • As I passed one old Marathon Maniacs runner, I asked him if this was his second marathon of the weekend. He said that it was his fourth! After a bit more conversation I didn’t understand him and didn’t believe him, so I scooted on ahead.
  • Later in the race I came upon a young woman with a sign on her back (actually her butt) which explained the FOUR marathons in Seattle this weekend, starting on Thanksgiving day. She was taking it easy at that point, but in the last two miles she roared past me and finished in style.
  • Six Clif Shot Mocha gels, an equal number of Thermotab salt tablets.
The Seattle Marathon:
  • It’s a pretty good one, according to me. I definitely recommend it. To heck with the weather - runners can dress for it.
  • The course has its ups and downs, in both senses. There are plenty of hills, and there are a few places where it isn’t fun to run, but all in all the course is OK.
  • Part of the marathon course (not the half) goes across the I-90 floating bridge from Seattle to Mercer Island, using the express lanes, which are closed to traffic and well-separated from the regular lanes by a tall NJ median. The problem is noise from vehicles on the regular lanes. Apparently Washington State allows the use of studded tires, and those make a LOT of noise. Lots of people use them, even the cab we rode in yesterday. One runner from Wisconsin was quite upset and a more than a little grumpy about it. I scooted ahead. After all, that portion was only 3 ½ miles of a 26-mile race, and in my mind the noise was compensated by the uniqueness of running down the middle of a huge freeway which was floating on the water. I liked it, and besides, I wasn't wearing my hearing aids.
  • In several places only one lane of a small road was closed to traffic, though traffic was usually light and it never became a problem. Noise from nearby I-5 was a problem, but those segments were short.
  • Much of the course was simply delightful. We circled Seward Park, an island/peninsula in Lake Washington, on a paved trail totally closed to vehicle traffic. It smelled like pine or juniper, and the area was mostly inhabited by mallards who paid very little attention to us. We passed other parks as well. For at least 11 miles we traveled on a mostly-closed residential road along Lake Washington. Later we ran on a closed road, Interlaken Blvd, which afforded us views from high above the city. Never mind how we got up there! Finally, we finished in Memorial Stadium. Nice.
  • Police were perfect. no grumps.
  • Volunteers were perfect and abundant.
  • We saw more spectators than I expected in 50-degree rain.
  • We all noticed a lot of officials, on bikes and otherwise, checking to make sure that we were OK.
  • There seemed to be lots of porta-potties, but mostly these were singles - one porta-potty. I never saw long lines, but single porta-potties are not convenient for people who are running with a partner.
  • The expo was large and comprehensive, and there seemed to be another one at the finish area.
  • The finish area was in a nice, heated building.
  • Results were posted almost immediately. In fact, we got an email from the marathon right after my finish congratulating us and telling us how to access the results. Cool.
Splits: 12:12, 12:49, 11:32, 12:42, 24:20 (2 mi), 25:04 (2 mi), 24:12 (2 mi), 12:20, 12:04, 12:20, 38:39 (3 mi), 11:31, 12:20, 12:09, 13:18, 13:28, 13:15, 12:14, 12:16, 12:28, 15:07 (1.22 mi), total 5:26:23, pace 12:27. Mostly I ran 30 seconds and walked about 50 to 60.


Thursday, November 24, 2011

St. Croix Valley Runners

Saturday, November 19, 2011:

I hadn’t run for a week, doing yard word instead, but this morning the weather was fine for running, cool but pleasant, so I joined the SCV Runners on the weekly 5-mile jaunt. The abdominal wall strain (“sports hernia”) made itself known for perhaps 50 or 100 paces, as usual, and then quieted down, as usual. No problem.

Nice run, actually. I walked only a little, up a couple of short hills, and otherwise just kept jogging, finishing the five miles in 46 or 47 minutes (no watch), for a 9+ pace. It felt good. One week to the Seattle marathon.

Traveling to Seattle by way of Portland, Lookout Pass at the Montana-Idaho border was the trickiest driving. Slush on the road, but, happily, not a lot of traffic. We had chains along, but didn't have to use them:

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Good Run

I had a weary run last Wednesday, but felt a lot stronger today. The cold is still hanging on, so maybe that wasn’t the problem Wednesday - most likely that was just muscle tiredness from two marathons.

Today was a good day. I felt stronger at the end than at the start, always a good sign. 4.8 miles in 53 minutes, for a pace of about 11 minutes/mile, good enough on that hilly dirt & grass trail, better than Wednesday for sure.

The “sports hernia” (abdominal wall strain) hurt a little for the first 100 paces or so, then wasn’t heard from again. All of my recent runs have been like that, including the last three marathons; abdominal pain for just a short time at the start. I’m hoping it will eventually just go away entirely.

I had a nice little run with a 6-year-old yesterday, 1.5 miles around Lake Como, lots of spurts and stops, but we both enjoyed it.


Organic chicken with two cheeses, organic veggies, organic sweet potatoes, organic black grapes:

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Pooped Out

We three went for a recovery run in the park this afternoon, but maybe I should have taken a nap instead.

The run started OK, but I soon discovered that I was very tired. Not just my legs, but everywhere, just fatigued. I walked up all hills, down most, and sometimes even on the flat. 3.7 miles in 45 minutes, probably OK for a recovery run three days after the marathon. But why so tired? (1) Marathons three days ago and ten days ago; and (2) A head & chest cold that is sidetracking a lot of energy right now. Those are the only reasons I can think of, and happily those will (hopefully) cure themselves with the passage of time.

Despite the fatigue, I did enjoy the time in the park. Fall color is gone, but the park is still beautiful, serene, and inviting. It calls to me, and I am so glad when I can answer it.

This is a TV broadcast before the start of the NYC Marathon, as I stand behind the broadcasters holding up a Team Continuum sign.

Sunday, November 06, 2011

New York City Marathon

I finished in the dark! Well almost - I finished while it was still light, but spent a half hour or more collecting my race bag and then it was totally dark.

Anyway, the New York City marathon was the spectacular event that we all know it to be. When people ask me about my three favorite marathons, I always include NYC. Nowhere else have I experienced the crowd support and the incredible number and quality of volunteers. If you like bands, there are plenty of those too. There’s nothing quite like it.

Here are some more good points:

  • Roads are entirely closed to traffic, all 26.22 miles.
  • The entire event is totally organized: From the Expo to the finish line, nothing is left to chance.
  • The Expo was huge and, at least when we went on Thursday, there were no lines.
  • I’ve never seen so many police along a marathon route. I like ‘em!
  • The only places without spectators were the bridges, where pedestrians are not allowed.
  • It’s not really very hilly. In NYC, the hills are the bridges.
  • There WERE ENOUGH portable toilets at the start. I’ve rarely seen that before. I stood in line for maybe three minutes, and then when our corral was called we went past dozens of empty ones that I could also have used with no line.
  • The weather could hardly have been better, clear and cool.
They could fix this
  • The first few groups of portable toilets had only four or five in the group, and a huge line of needers. What the ...!? Everyone (EVERYONE) knows that many hapless runners will screw up and need a toilet in the first few miles (experienced runners plan to use one no more than 30 minutes before the start). Later in the race there were as many as ten toilets in a group, maybe more, and no line at all.
  • The huge crowd at the end, after the finish, is an embarrassment to the NYRR. Here you finish in your best possible time, and then you spend the next half hour or more standing in line to get your race bag. Arrrgh! That’s unconscionable. FIX IT!
They won’t. The NYC Marathon is what it is, take it or leave it. Most of us take it. If I ever do this one again I’ll arrange not to need a race bag (had a valuable jacket in it), and I’ll bug out right after getting the medal.

My race:
  • Wonderful! All in all, I had a very enjoyable race and a good enough finish time.
  • Time 5:51:58, pace 13:27, four minutes faster than a week ago, number 92 of 157 in my 70-74 age group, marathon number 59. I have completed a marathon in 40 states so far in the eight years since myeloma diagnosis, ten to go. I got faster toward the end, which is a very good sign - I was passing everyone. I really love that!
  • I was part of a group selected for enthusiasm (who knew?) as a cheering section behind pre-race TV interviews. This was fun, but it meant that, except for the bus ride to the start, I was on my feet from 3:30 am to 5+ pm. I was concerned about starting the race already tired, but I was OK. My back got tired standing, but was fine when I got going running.
  • Also, I had run a marathon one week before, three weeks before, five weeks before, and seven weeks before, so I was concerned about the toll from those escapades.
  • At bottom, though, I have no idea whether any of those significantly increased my time. Probably they all contributed. But who cares? I finished, and now have three weeks to rest up for the next marathon, in Seattle. Maybe I can go a little faster.
  • This was the long run for that next marathon, right? I’ll jog a little Wednesday, maybe again Thursday or Friday, and then run with my regular group of friends on Saturday. Take it easy on me you guys. After that it’s taper time already! I hope the trails in the park are still good.
  • Nothing hurts. I escaped injury, as far as I know. The “sports hernia” (not a real hernia) spoke up a little bit, but was never a limiting factor. The only limiting factor, actually, was muscle fatigue. That’s NORMAL. Yay!
  • I feel quite fatigued as I write this. That’s sort of normal too, but I am starting to catch a cold and that may contribute.
  • This morning I woke up with a scratchy throat, and the race didn’t make it better. I will take good care of it tonight, with plenty of sleep, warmth, zinc lozenges, and vitamin C. We don’t have access to chicken soup and liniment (for the chest) now, but we will tomorrow night.
  • My sweeties didn’t get to run this marathon, but they did meet me at mile 16 and again at mile 26. I love that. Turns out there were other friends at mile 26 too, but I was so focused on my sweeties that I missed them!
  • I did get cold. I tossed a long-sleeved shirt at about mile 5, as the temperature warmed, but could have used it again later as the sun dropped low in the west. My mistake - I could have tied it around my waist. But a hot shower at the hotel corrected the problem!
  • I met some new people who are important to me and the E-Race Cancer campaign and Team Continuum. Good people. I like them.
  • There may be a CNN piece about my marathons on their American Morning show, Tuesday, November 15. But maybe not. I’ll try to keep an update here.
That’s enough. Have a good night. I will.

Splits: 13:43 (up the Verrazano Bridge) , 12:17 (back down), 13:31, 24:35 (2 mi), 12:45, 12:14, 26:19 (2 mi), 17:22 (1 mi plus bathroom), 12:48, 12:41, 13:38, 27:37 (2 mi),, 13:03, 18:39 (1 mi plus video retakes), 12:45, 14:29, 26:08 (2 mi), 12:32, 27:35 (2 mi), 12:03, 12:57, 2:35 (0.22 mi), total 5:51:58, pace 13:25. S’OK.


At mile 16, coming off the Queensferry Bridge, spotting my sweeties in the crowd:

Sunday, October 30, 2011

It Doesn’t Hurt to Laugh

It hurts a little to cough, though. More about that below. The Marine Corps Marathon is a huge production, and well run, though this one may have been a bit unusual. A hard rain the day and night before the race, even snow, then temps below 32, made bridges treacherous both going to the race and early in the race itself. I slipped and nearly fell on an icy bridge in the pre-dawn darkness. I’m sure a few others were less lucky. The rain also turned lawns into 2-inch-deep mud, and some of the start-area essentials (porta-potties, charity tents) were on lawns. Nevertheless, the race committee and runners prevailed, and the race started on time and went well.

My Race:

  • I shot for 6:00 hours and finished in 5:55:56, 26th of 42 in the age group 70-74. Imagine 42 old farts out there! Actually, quite a few guys were even older, including a 90-year-old. That’s my dream, one of several. This was marathon number 58, state number 40 (Virginia, because the race starts and ends there).
  • I had a LOT of fun. This marathon was as much fun as the Hartford Marathon two weeks ago. Furthermore, I had energy left at the end. I didn’t try to spend too much of that, with another marathon next Sunday, but it felt great to be passing almost everyone in the last six miles. To do that, you really only have to keep a constant pace.
  • I walk/ran with a four to 1 ratio, changing that to 3 to 1 later in the race. 90 seconds walk, 30 seconds run.
  • I have never had the opportunity to thank so many Team in Training (TNT) runners, who raise money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (LLS). Dozens. I also thanked one MMRF runner, but didn’t see any others.
  • In contrast to the pre-dawn weather, the race weather was beautiful. From about 35, I suppose, to at least 50 degrees. I started with three shirts and makeshift leggings pinned to my shorts, and jettisoned the leggings and a shirt at mile four. The second shirt went at mile 17, so then I was in a T-shirt and shorts. Perfect.
  • I took a lot of video again, and my sweeties did too. I met them twice along the course. Also, several times, I handed my video camera to a trustworthy-looking person, then went back a little and ran past again while they taped, and then back again for the camera. The reason will be explained in a future blog. Anyway it cost a little time.
  • I high-fived a LOT of people, especially kids. I love to see the grin on a short person’s face.

The MCM:
  • Lots and lots of enthusiastic volunteers.
  • Roads are all CLOSED to traffic. We never had to dodge cars. In fact, some of the people of Washington are not fans of the MCM because the road closures tie up the town. Tsk.
  • Marines are everywhere, of course. Many of them are young guys, fresh crewcuts, some of them could be my grandchildren. They called me “sir.”
  • It’s SO COOL running through the nation’s capital, over the tidal basin, past the Washington and Lincoln monuments, down the mall, past the capitol building and the reflecting pool, on and on. I did love that. Got the video, too! It’s surprising how quickly that part goes by.
  • The course is hilly in the beginning, but quite level later on. The finish is uphill, but happily quite short.
  • I have some suggestions for the race committee, but they’re trivial things in a race of this magnitude and I doubt they’ll call.
  • I was surprised how many runners were with me at my glacial pace. Lots! In fact, almost 2000 runners finished after I did.

Physical:

  • The only significant pain was the “sports hernia,” abdominal strain. That’s what still hurts just a little.
  • During the race I heard from the left hamstrings left hip flexors, but those signals went away with the miles.
  • Every muscle is sore now, as always after a marathon. That’s a good thing.

Splits: 12:29, 13:39, 13:21, 13:09, 15:37, 12:43, 14:02, 13:08, 13:18, 26:35 (2 mi), 12:51, 12:46, 13:58, 13:15, 32:00 (2 mi w potty stop), 27:15 (2 mi), 13:27, 13:24, 13:02, 12:19, 13:34, 14:03, 16:11 (1.2 mi). Total 5:55:56, pace 13:34. OK for today.

Sunshine and Sweetpea’s home-cooked meatloaf, made tonight on the range in the hotel. Everything in the photo is organic:

Monday, October 24, 2011

Elijah Alexander and Tackle Cancer Foundation

Elijah Alfred Alexander III played linebacker for ten seasons in the NFL, starting in many of his 123 games, including 29 of his last 30. He retired in 2001.

He was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma in 2005, and started the Tackle Myeloma Foundation in 2006. This soon became the Tackle Cancer Foundation, supporting families with children fighting cancer, and adults with multiple myeloma. I met him briefly at a meeting of the American Society of Hematology in December, 2009.

He died of myeloma March 24, 2010, leaving his wife Kimberly and two teen-age sons Elijah IV and Evan. Kimberly Alexander continues as Executive Director of the Tackle Cancer Foundation.

I'm going to dedicate my Marine Corps Marathon this Sunday to Elijah Alexander and his family.

The Park is Still Beautiful

It almost seemed that the fading color of fall returned to its full brilliance today. The trees were exquisitely beautiful. I took the 4.8-mile route and ran most of the way, walking only downhill and occasionally uphill.

What a great run! No pains to speak of, plenty of energy, just like it should feel six days before a marathon. I actually held back to avoid injury through exuberance. 52 minutes, pace about 10:50. Good enough.


All organic except the hot sauce on the sweet potatoes. Anyone know of an organic hot sauce?

Article in Minneapolis Star Tribune

Here's a nice article in the Minneapolis Star Tribune's East Metro Section about my marathons and Team Continuum, published yesterday. StarTribune story

Team Continuum helps families that are devastated by the costs and disruptions of cancer.

You can help, using someone else's money! If you have a Fecebook account and go to my E-Race Cancer Facebook Page and "like" it, a donation will be made to Team Continuum by a generous third party. We invite you to do that - there is no cost to you.

Of course you are certainly also welcome to go directly to my Team Continuum page and make a further contribution to the cause. It's deductible.

Thank you!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

St Croix Valley Runners

Saturday, October 22, 2011:

I ran the first mile and a half with four other runners, and then split off for a shorter run than they were doing. Dave took the same shortcut, and we ran much of the two miles together. Nice run, mostly running and just a little walking. 3.5 miles in 36:00, for a pace of 10:17. It’s fine, seven days after a marathon with another one eight days away. No pains! It’s a masterpiece.

Thursday, October 20:

Another run in the park. 3.7 miles along one of my favorite grass trails in the park. No rush, no problems, 42:30, pace about 11:30. Good enough for a recovery/taper run. A marathon five days ago, and another in ten days. No pains! It’s a masterpiece.


Sunshine & Sweetpea's incredible breadless all-organic meat loaf, with organic catchup, organic strawberries, organic dills, and organic squash with a little hot sauce:

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Recovery Run

Jim and I went for a lovely jog on the grass trails in the park Tuesday morning. The trail we took is 3.7 miles, but can easily and conveniently be extended to 4.8 miles, and we did that. I felt very good, with some tiredness in the legs from Saturday’s marathon, but no significant pain. The sports hernia is still there, but not much of a problem.

42 degrees with a little mist, the weather wasn’t perfect, but we enjoyed that park nonetheless. Jim walked when I needed to walk, mostly on the hills, and we had a good conversation. I don’t know how long we took, because my tired old Timex watch reset itself to January 1 at some point after I started it. It’s done that before in cold weather. Guess I need a new watch, probably a Garmin.

A little of the miles upon miles of fall color that we enjoyed driving to and from the Hartford Marathon last weekend. This could be Indiana, Ohio, or Pennsylvania - they were all beautiful:

Saturday, October 15, 2011

ING Hartford Marathon

The Hartford Marathon. Connecticut has a good thing going here. We all three LOVED this marathon and would recommend it highly. And all of us did well in it, too, which of course helps with the loving. The marathon time limit is six hours, so I was shooting for six and went out slowly, hoping not to aggravate a sports hernia injury. But the expected pain didn’t appear, and I finished in about 5:42. The girls actually ran their best time in three years. This is a great day.

The ING Hartford Marathon:

What can you say? This is a grown-up marathon for grown-ups. I can’t think of any suggestions for the marathon committee. It’s all good. They had problems with excessive rain in the weeks leading up to the event, even the night before the event, but they reacted and fixed the problems. Good points:

  • Going through one park, the mud alongside the paved trail was higher than the trail! I stopped to talk to the parks superintendent (still right there), who said that it had rained hard overnight and there had been two inches of mud over the trail, but his crews got out there at daybreak and pushed the mud to the side. He had feared that someone would slip and fall, but the trail was dry and almost clean. Huzza to the parks crew!
  • Volunteers were wonderful everywhere. Spectators too. In fact, people were wonderful throughout Hartford, whether associated with the marathon or not. I like Hartford.
  • The expo was fairly large and definitely worth a visit. Of course, as with all marathons, you have to go there anyway to pick up your running number and timing chip, but we enjoyed the expo too.
  • ROADS WERE CLOSED TO TRAFFIC. I never felt nervous about vehicle traffic. That’s important.
  • Hartford is halfway into fall color. I suppose it will be better in a week, but it was pretty good today!
  • The race committee can’t do much about the weather, but if they could, they would be hard pressed to improve on today’s. Temperature was in the 50's and low 60's throughout, with alternating sun and clouds, and with a southwest wind that was more enervating than troublesome.
  • When I finished the marathon at 5:41 there was still food left. Thank you Hartford!
  • Bands played everywhere. Some just played music at extravagant levels, but many were actual musicians performing for free. In fact I’m a sucker for bagpipers, and there were two. Somehow those don’t need amplification.
  • There actually were enough porta-potties along the race course.
  • Aid stations were plentiful and well-organized.
My Marathon:
  • The day before the marathon I was interviewed by the local FOX station, here.
  • The morning of the marathon I was interviewed by the local CBS station, but I can’t find a link. Maybe someone else will find it. Also, there may be a short blurb on that station in tonight’s news (after football is over for the night).
  • In recent marathons I had been concerned about a sports hernia (which is not a “real” hernia but is cured by the same surgery). With two more marathons coming up in the next three weeks, I planned to go slow, but no pains appeared and I was able to get ahead of schedule and stay ahead. There is just a hint of pain from that area now, after the race, but that’s all.
  • According to my watch I finished in 5:41:46, but the unofficial time according to the race committee was 5:39:49, two minutes less. I don’t know how that can happen, actually. I clicked my watch at the start line and again at the finish, so my watch should be right. They might find an error in their figures. If not, then I’ll take the extra two minutes!
  • I LOVED this marathon - every single minute. I think I enjoyed it more than I used to enjoy marathons when I finished in 3:45.
  • When I interviewed with Fox on Friday morning, a local 59-year-old woman named Maggie, running her 59th marathon (!), was interviewed right before me. She brought a fistful of Hartford Marathon medals to her interview. Today we met during the race, too, at the start and then briefly around mile 24. We finished just a couple of minutes apart.
  • I like to express my gratitude to other runners who are raising money to fund cancer research and support. I got a chance to thank a lot of TNT (Team in Training) runners today - they raise money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (LLS) which supports research for myeloma too. Thank you TNT!
  • Several people asked about the new Team Continuum shirt (below), so I had a chance to spread the word a little.
  • Five Clif Shot gels with caffeine, maybe seven or eight salt tablets along the way. I took plenty of video again.
Splits: 12:31, 12:39, 12:23, 12:30, 25:08 (2 mi), 12:43, 13:58, 12:18, 12:25, 13:13, 25:22 (2 mi), 15:59 (porta potty), 13:07, 13:10, 13:13, 12:19, 12:47, 27:06 (2 mi), 12:48, 26:05, 14:16 (?), 13:25, 2:22 (0.22 mi), total 5:41:46 by my watch, pace 13:02 by my watch. Apparently I did slow down a little in the second half, but most of that happened when I stopped to talk to people, including especially the TNT runners. Some of them were going the other way (part of the race is an out-and-back), so I would turn around to run with them for a few seconds.

Breaking news. The chip times have been removed from the results (for now?), so everyone’s finish time is the same as their gun time. Mine is 5:46:04, up from 5:39:49. See I told ya - they goofed on my time by almost exactly 2 minutes (and maybe everyone else's), and now they’re working on it, trying to get it right. Maybe they will. It does now show that I’m third of four in my age group. Maybe.

Happy Don at about mile 22:

After the finish:

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Tapering

Hey, not bad. I ran 3.7 miles on the grass trails in the park, stopped several times to record some video, and still finished in 45 minutes. I mostly walked the downhills, took it easy on the uphills, and ran on the flat.

IT FEELS SO GOOD TO RUN! Wow. And the fall color is perfect. It’s a masterpiece.

For the record: The only pains were in the right knee (PFS) and the left hamstring. That one is new, and I hope it was a one-time thing. Neither pain amounted to much.


Unbelievably tasty gluten-free meat loaf, with no bread of any kind. Sunshine is a magician. All organic except the kiwi:

Saturday, October 08, 2011

Recovery Running

Saturday, Oct 8, 2011:

The St Croix Valley Runners celebrated marathons today. Many of the crew that assembled to run this morning had finished the Twin Cities Marathon last Sunday, and we three had finished the Maine Marathon or half marathon. Lots to talk about. Plus I wore my new Team Continuum shirt - more to talk about.

I didn’t want to run three days in a row - that would be taunting the sports hernia, daring it to reappear. But the limiting pain in the last two marathons has actually been in the adductors or the hip flexors - I don’t know which - but not the abdomen. So today we three walked FAST, as fast as I could, which requires the other two to run a little to keep up. I hope those long strides are good for the hip flexors. We went about 2.7 miles in 40:45, for a walking pace of 15:06. I felt good.

After that, two hours of lawn mowing / leaf mulching. There were a LOT of leaves already, and the oaks haven’t started to contribute yet. We have mostly oaks.

Friday, Oct 7:

This was another 3.7-mile run/walk on the grass trails in the park. It’s so beautiful right now that it’s hard to stay away, and when I get there it’s hard not to run! So I did. I also took the camcorder along and recorded some of the fall color. The sun was on and off, mostly off, but popped out for a few seconds just as I reached one of the most beautiful stretches of the trail. I have the video.

Time 50:30, pace about 13:39. I stopped several times to take pictures, so that’s a good enough time. Again no pains except the knee with PFS.

Thursday, Oct 6:

Running feels so good! This was a short recovery run on the grass trails in the park. What a treat. I ran on the flat and the uphills, walking on the downhills. I didn’t feel pain anywhere except in the right knee with PFS, and that wasn’t bad at all. I don’t know if this is the best way to get past the sports hernia, but it sure feels good to run. 3.7 miles in 48 minutes, about 13 min/mile. I thought I was going faster, actually, and perhaps I was - I used the cell phone for timing.


Normal breakfast, mostly organic. The black-looking berries are actually frozen organic blueberries. We recently switched to LED bulbs in the kitchen, which looks fine to the eye, but the camera doesn't do justice to the colors now:

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Maine Marathon, Portland ME

Ducky weather. We three all agree that the weather was for the birds. And, we have photographic evidence, see bottom.

My Marathon:

The goal was to complete a marathon in Maine without irritating any prior injuries or causing any new ones, because we have a heavy schedule ahead. Goal accomplished, I believe. Nothing hurts except the stuff that usually hurts. I'll know more tomorrow, after all of the endorphins have worn off. Details:

  • Time: 6:10:45. I was shooting for 6:15, so that's a fine time. But I was sixth of six in my age group, 819 of 897 overall. Ugh.
  • Nevertheless, there is joy in Mudville (Portland) today! We're all happy and I'm havin' a beer.
  • I used a walk/run ratio of five to one, running 30 seconds of each three minutes. Mostly. Toward the end I tried to run a little more, but often had to be satisfied with maintaining the pace.
  • I chipped a little bit of skin off my thumb when I opened the door latch to leave a porta-potty. My first-ever porta-potty injury! It bled a little, but a little bit of blood looks like a lot in the rain. Now cleaned up and Betadined.
  • Near the end, a woman who was walking and evidently done running, said that she was on her fifth round of the 50 states. I responded that I was only on my first round. "Well, take my advice," says she, "when you're done, don't get sucked into doing another round of 50!" Seems like she has ignored her own advice at least four times. Perhaps she was just feeling a little discouraged near the end of this marathon. Anyway, I'm already looking for other celebrations of life. Dancing with the Stars? Oops - you gotta be famous first. Marathon in all seven continents? I hear that Antarctica is really cool.
  • Gels along the way: seven. Salt/potassium tablets: seven.
  • Someone posted several signs of encouragement for "Pookie" along the way. Example: "Pookie - on a scale of 1 to 10 you are a 13.1." Clearly, Pookie ran the half marathon. I hope s/he did well.
  • I started with two shirts and a running jacket, eventually tying the jacket around my waist.
Weather:

We three have run in much worse weather: (1) In St Charles, MO, the remnants of Hurricane Ike screeched sideways through the town as the race was starting, drenching the landscape with untold amounts of rain. Then the race, while under way, was adjusted to a 10-mile length because parts of the proper course were under water; (2) In Chicago, the race was stopped in progress because of heat - they ran out of ambulances. I did finish that one; (3) Two or three times I have finished Grandma's Marathon in temperatures above 85. I'd certainly rather run in this ducky weather than any of those. It rained most of the time but not all of the time, with temperatures in the high 50's, and a buffeting wind much of the way. I wore enough clothing and was never cold. No problem for a Minnesotan.

The rain in Maine falls plainly on my bean.

When we look back at this marathon we'll probably remember the weather more than anything else, but of course that's no fault of the people of Maine. It can happen anywhere. Every marathon has a surprise or two.

The Maine Marathon:

It's a good one, of course. Pluses:
  • This was well organized. They haven't done this 20 years in a row for nuthin'.
  • After 56 marathons I'm amazed how cheerful, encouraging, and all-out helpful the volunteers were. After all, it was raining hard on them too. Huzzah! to the volunteers. And to the cops too.
  • At one time on the return of the out-and-back course I couldn't see a single other runner anywhere, and I switched from the right side of the road to the left, though we were apparently expected to be on the right. A police vehicle came by, and the officer said "You wouldn't mind running on the other side, would you?" I replied that I actually preferred the left side because then I can see what's coming. "Well, if you're comfortable with that, then so am I," said he with a smile. Maine hospitality, police style.
  • They gave us a very fancy race bag filled with lots of goodies.
  • At the finish, there was plenty of good food, even for those (like me) who finished after six hours.
  • There was a bagpiper along the way, early in the race, playing in the drenching rain. I'm a sucker for bagpipes.
  • The shirts were nice, long-sleeved technical in women's and men's styles, and they let us try them on for size.
  • The course is quite picturesque, with views of the ocean (or the bay, whatever is out there).
  • They had finishers' blankets and they put them on for you. For once, I was glad to have one.
  • There was no doubt when the race started - they fired a cannon!
The other stuff:

  • The Route: As attractive and engaging as it was, for much of my 6-hour race the route was shared with plenty of vehicles going 35-45 MPH, and in a few places there was really no shoulder, or the gravel shoulder was six inches below the edge of the road surface. I really, really didn't like sharing the road with that many vehicles - I felt very vulnerable, running on the right with vehicles coming from behind. There were times when a vehicle had to pass within two feet, and I had a guardrail preventing me from moving over.
  • The out-and-back course had us on the right side almost all of the time, so any slant was always to the right, and there was often a slant. This has been a problem for me sometimes, resulting in bursa pains in knees or hips, though happily those problems didn't show up today.
  • The timing "chips" (strips) were attached to the runners' race numbers (bibs). They are supposed to be vertical, on the sides of the bibs, but someone had mistakenly attached them horizontally, along the bottom ant top, so we runners had to pin the bibs on at 90 degrees. That's a new one for me. Dopey.
  • The race allowed a runner to specify an address for an email to be sent automatically when the runner finished, but the finish times in the received emails were wrong. I don't know for sure, but both the race numbers and those emails could be the responsibility of the timing company, rather than the race committee. If so, I wonder if that timing company will be back.

For the Record (whining):
  • The right-side sports hernia barely showed up at all. Tomorrow may be a different story.
  • The hip flexors or adductors (I can't tell which) on both sides started to hurt around mile 10, and kept hurting. The right side was worst, and became a limiting pain. They got worse when I ran, and better when I walked, although they still hurt some when I walked.
  • Knees were cold but there was little pain.
  • The left glutes or hamstrings hurt a little but were not a limiting issue.
  • Nothing else hurt. Even with the rain, my feet are fine. Muscles are tired but not nearly as tired as they would be if I had gone faster.
Splits: 13:07, 13:22, 13:09, 26:36 (2 mi), 13:35, 13:38, 17:32 (porta potty), 12:49, 14:19, 13:14, 17:28 (porta potty and med station), 13:56, 13:59, 14:33, 14:18, 14:14, 13:03, 15:24, 13:09, 16:10 (porta potty), 13:00, 12:50, 15:03, 14:10, 18:10 (1.22 mi), total 6:10:45, average pace 14:08.

News Stories:
WCSH Channel 6, NBC
Portland Press Herald Newspaper


Ducky weather. These mallards are finding something to eat in the rainwater on a mowed lawn:

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Schwinn Elliptical Again

The sports hernia did get a little irritated by last Sunday’s race, so it’s back to the elliptical, which seems to have no effect on the hernia. I do miss running, though.

Stats: 25:44 minutes, 6.74 avg MPH, 2.89 "miles," 67 avg RPM, 373 calories, 121 avg heart rate. That’s what the machine said at the finish. Let’s do some calculations:

67 RPM x 60 = 4020 revs per hour. Divide by 6.74 MPH to get 596 revolutions/mile, or 8.9 feet per revolution. That’s 106 inches per revolution, or 53 inches per “footfall.” However, one foot actually travels only about 17 inches per “footfall,” so the makers of this machine somehow figure that the elliptical motion can be multiplied by three to get equivalent distance. Are they doing bike distance? Naw - I could go a heck of a lot farther than 2.89 miles in 25 minutes on a bike. I wonder if that calculation changes with the resistance setting - so far I’ve only used the machine on the highest setting.

373 calories in 25:44 is 869 calories per hour, which is a very high rate for me. I wonder if it’s true. I was sweating pretty hard though.

25:44 minutes = 0.42889 hours. Multiply by 6.74 avg MPH, get 2.89 miles. OK, that calculation is as expected. The HR of 121 is about what I would expect. It should be in the 130's at that level of effort, but medication holds it down a little.

The Schwinn A40 made a lot of noise this time, a creaking noise on every left-foot downstroke. Later I moved the machine slightly, to a different spot on the floor, and the noise went away. More research required.

Stacy died today. What a tragedy.

Mostly organic:

Monday, September 26, 2011

MMRF Race for Research

Once a year the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation holds a money-raising 5k run/walk around Lake Phalen. It’s a fun event. I’m still trying to get past a sports hernia, so I only ran 30 seconds of every two minutes, but that amount sure felt good! The course was re-routed slightly because of construction, so it was probably about 2.9 miles instead of 3.1. I finished in 36:56, for a pace of 12:44. Not speedy, but enough to finish just ahead of the only other guy in my age group.

It felt SO good to run, but I won’t run again until the marathon next Sunday.

For the record: The “sports hernia” is still there. No pain, really, except a little in the first 30 seconds, but it’s lurking there. Also, the right knee with PFS did hurt a little. Ah well, the price of an enjoyable life.

I’m discovering that some people don’t think that a sports hernia will heal by itself - that surgical intervention is usually required, as with other hernias. I hope not - I’m working on the stretches, exercises, and massage.

Splits: 11:08 (probably about 0.8 mi), 12:31, 13:17 (1.1 mi), total 36:56.


Sunshine and myself with our medals:
Sunshine & Me

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Walk with SCV Runners

Saturday, Sept 24, 2011:

St Croix Valley Runners, every Saturday 7:00 am, Stillwater’s Northland Park. This morning I walked briskly with George and my sweeties for just over 41 minutes, probably about 2.5 miles. Lovely walk, nothing hurt.

Tomorrow is the MMRF Race for Research in Phalen Park. Registration begins at 9:30, race/walk at 11:00.

Friday, Sept 23, 2011:

Another “run” on the A40 elliptical today, 25 minutes, 328 calories, 2.81 miles. That’s a lot of calories for just 25 minutes, a rate of almost 800 calories per hour. The highest rate I reached on the expensive machines at Anytime Fitness was 650-700 calories per hour, so I’m not sure whether to believe the A40. On the other hand I did work pretty hard and got quite sweaty. Further, the A40 was set to the highest resistance setting, so maybe ... The machine is new to us, and it may take a while for me to have confidence in it.


Dinner: Chicken with mustard, tomatos, sweet potato, squash, relish, cherries, all organic:

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Three Days Later

I feel great! We three had planned to a "double" in a couple of weeks, a marathon in New Hampshire on Saturday and another in Maine the next day. But last Monday, the day AFTER the Presque Isle marathon, I really didn’t feel strong enough to run another one that day. Would it be any different two weeks from now? Probably not.

For that reason, and because we have several more marathons on the schedule this fall, we have scratched the New Hampshire marathon and will focus on the one in Portland, Maine in eleven days.

We now have a nice new Schwinn A40 elliptical trainer, which arrived Monday and which we assembled yesterday. This morning I put in 20 minutes of fairly vigorous exercise on it, racking up 213 calories. Neither the machine nor I experienced any problems. There was a little bit of squeaking (I think it was the machine, not me) but it went away. After a little more experience with the machine, I may post a review of it. So far it’s pretty good.

As I think back on my blog posts it seems like there has been a lot of whining about injuries, especially lately. I do need to log that information for future reference, but at least for a while I’m going to put it at the bottom of the post, unless it really is the headline. As of today, the pain in the right-side adductors / hip flexors is entirely gone, as expected. The sports hernia (abdominal wall strain) on that side is detectable but not painful. That’s the one of most concern in the long term. I have located a couple of web pages describing sensible, appropriate treatment for the sports hernia and have put together a recovery program which includes stretches, specific exercises, and self-administered massage. We’ll see how it goes and if I stick to it.

Meanwhile, today is a masterpiece!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Presque Isle Marathon, Erie PA

An unqualified success. I was worried about this one, because of injuries that might reappear, but so far so good. So very good. This was the 55th marathon and 37th state since my myeloma diagnosis in 2003, and the 28th marathon and 21st state since starting on the pomalidomide investigational drug in March of 2008.

The Marathon Itself:

  • Very well organized - it went smoothly.
  • Aid stations were a mile apart, twice as good as the two miles offered by most marathon.
  • Race officials on bikes passed me many times - they were doing a good job.
  • Parking was totally organized - follow the flashlights, shut up, and park! No one got their choice of a place to park, but that was no problem, because every spot was close to the start.
  • Some of the aid stations had a theme: At Mile 5 (and 18) it appeared to be a hillbilly theme, and at another location the Boy Scouts ran the station.
  • The course follows the paved roads circling Erie’s Presque Isle, a state park, and is exactly a half marathon in length. Marathoners just do it twice. As the T-shirt says, marathoners do it longer.
  • The park is incredibly beautiful, covered with huge trees, mostly cottonwood, but there were large acorns on the ground here and there from a type of oak that I didn’t recognize.
  • We saw a flock of wild turkeys, flocks of geese honking overhead, lots of squirrels, and, though we didn’t see them, there are beavers and opossums on the island too. With all of that prey, I'm thinking there must also be predators like foxes.
  • The island was created initially by the action of waves on the shores farther west. It seems to be entirely sand, though some soil has built up within the forested areas.
  • It is actually a peninsula, connected to Erie by a narrow strip of land just wide enough for a roadway. In French, “presque” means “almost.”
  • I was put off by the amount of vehicle traffic on the roads that we ran, but I'll get over it. Lots of people use the park, not just us marathoners.

My Race:

I had an unexpectedly good marathon. I’m still on top of the world. I ran (& walked) slowly, shooting for six hours, and finished in about 5:52:16. This took almost an hour longer than my last marathon in July, but I went slow out of concern for a sports hernia injury (not really a hernia) that I have been nursing for four weeks, and I fully expected it to reappear somewhere in the 26 miles. It didn’t! No pain at all during the first half marathon. Later I did have a lot of pain from tendons or ligaments of the hip flexors or maybe the adductors on the same side as the sports hernia, even during the walking, but that went away whenever I stopped. This is not new - hip flexor pain has appeared in many previous marathons and is not likely to be a limiting problem.

Other stuff:
  • Near the end of the race I passed by a runner wearing a Portland, Maine T-shirt. I asked him if he was from Portland, and in the ensuing conversation he revealed that he would be running the Portland Marathon two weeks from now, and also the marathon in Bristol, NH the day before that. Further, he ran a marathon yesterday! I said that he must be a 50-stater by now (finished a marathon in all 50 states) and he said that he was going around for the seventh time! “What the heck,” he said, “I’m retired.” Uff-da. (That’s Minnesota speak for wowzer).
  • A marathoning axiom: Don’t try anything in a marathon that you haven’t previously tried in a long run. I violated that rule today, but got away with it.
    • I’ve never taken video during a race before, but I took 50 minutes of it today. It didn’t slow me up much, because I kept going, mostly shooting during the walking intervals.
    • To carry the video camera, I added a pouch for the camera on my water-carrier belt. I’ve done marathons with the water carrier before, but the pouch was new. No problem.
    • Also, I carried my gels in an empty plastic peanut butter jar, which just fit in the carrier where a water bottle would otherwise go. Also no problem - except that the gels rattled in the PB jar when I ran. Fixable.
  • That left the pockets of my shorts free for whatever. I used them to carry leftover water cups and other debris to the next aid station.
  • Some of the video may eventually show up on a Youtube or Facebook page, maybe even this blog.
  • I took six Clif Shot Mocha gels along the way, every four miles starting at Mile 2, and salt tablets every four miles starting at Mile 4. No problem with energy, and no muscle cramps.
I dedicated this race to my daughter-in-law, who is also battling cancer right now. At the moment, her battle is considerably more serious than mine, and I do so wish her well and wellness.

Further, I ran this race for Team Continuum, a charity which helps families deal with the overwhelming costs of cancer. If you have a Facebook account, I urge you to go to Facebook.com/ERACECANCER, my fundraising account, and “like” it. There is no cost to you, and a generous donor will make a contribution.

Splits: 26:13 (2 mi), 13:18, 12:25, 13:31, 16:49 (natural break), 13:06, 12:36, 11:33, 12:53, 14:09, 26:51 (2 mi), 13:31, 13:03, 27:54 (2 mi), 13:03, 14:49, 13:28, 12:45, 13:46, 14:21, 12:25, 13:15, 16:34 (1.2 mi ++), total 5:52:16, pace 13.26.

Sunshine and me at the start, wearing garbage bags against the wind. Those disappeared just before the start. Isn't she cute?:

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Double Elliptical

206 calories in 20 minutes on the elliptical trainer. Pulse rate reached 120 today - That’s more appropriate than the rate of 113 last Monday, when I spent 259 calories in 25 minutes.

After the short workout, I jogged gently in and out of a nearby grocery store, with no pains anywhere. So here’s hoping for the upcoming marathon. Of course 26 miles is way different from 200 feet.

This is probably the last post before the marathon. This time I’m taking video of the run, with a cute little waterproof pocket webcam. I’ve never done that before, but there will be a video record of the experience - I sure hope it’s a good one.


Almost entirely organic:

Sunday, September 11, 2011

We’re Going! No question.

Should I even try to run the next marathon? What if the sports hernia gets a lot worse - we have seven more marathons this year. Or, what if we didn’t go to this marathon, and the sports hernia showed up at the next one anyway? In the end, the only way to know if I can run a marathon is to start it and try to finish. So we’re going to this one. I love this life!

Right now the injury is still there - a slight tightness on that side of the abdomen and in the related groin area. But the marathon is still a week away.

I’m really looking forward to it too, in a lovely FLAT park on Presque Isle in Lake Erie. The race starts right at sunrise, which is so cool. Sometimes the larger races have fireworks for a sunrise start - we’ll see - in any case, I can’t wait to start the marathon!

Today, September 11, 2011:

We three went to the park for an easy 55-minute walk. No pains, just a little tightness.

Saturday evening, September 10:

Anytime Fitness elliptical machine, 30 minutes at about 500 calories per minute, total 250 calories. Maximum heart rate was 111 bpm, so I need to ramp up the calories per minute, but this was a good enough workout for today.

Saturday morning, September 10:

Several of the St Croix Valley Runners were planning to run the Bear Water 20-mile run in White Bear Lake Sunday, so only three runners and five walkers showed up. We walkers strolled for about 2.5 miles while the three speedsters finished their five miles well ahead of us. No strain, good conversation.

All organic, including the leftover turkey:

Friday, September 09, 2011

Elliptical Machine

No exercise yesterday - I had the 24-hour crud. Slept 10 hours straight last night, woke up feeling pretty good, so I went to Anytime Fitness.

After a few minutes on the recumbent bike, 67 calories, working at a rate of about 500 calories per hour, I felt a brief pain in the right groin, possibly related to the sports hernia on that side. So I stopped the bike and went to an elliptical machine, where I ran up 133 calories to make the total 200. That was plenty after yesterday’s issues. It all took a little under 30 minutes and it’s equivalent to about 2.5 to 3.0 miles.

After stretching, I jogged easily about 20 yards to the car. I could tell that the sports hernia injury was still not quite healed, but it didn’t really hurt. At home, the situp test was negative - no pain. That’s good, and there are still 9 days to go before the marathon.

Breakfast after the workout: Oatmeal with organic strawberries, a nectarine, organic frozen blueberries, organic yogurt, walnuts. This should reboot the digestive system:

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

YouTube Video from Rhode Island Marathon

Here’s a video that was taken at the Providence, RI Marathon, several months and a few marathons ago:



If you have a Facebook account and haven't yet "liked" my E-Race Cancer fundraising page, I invite you to do so. It costs you nothing, and Team Continuum gets a donation from an anonymous contributor.



Anytime Fitness has many kinds of exercise equipment, for resistance training and cardio. I have a free 14-day pass to one of the clubs, and used it for the first time today. I ran up 100 calories on the recumbent bicycle and another 100 on the fanciest of the various elliptical trainers, total about 20 minutes. No pain, no strain. The sports hernia and its associated adductor stress were silent. I also stretched gently twice, still no pain. Further, when I got home I did the situp test, again with no pain. The stressed area is barely detectable.

Yesterday there was pain, from Monday’s 3.5-mile run, but today is better despite the brief cardio workout. This is good! Healing is happening, and the two machines don’t seem to cause a problem. Tomorrow I’ll increase the cardio time. The two machines do give quads and hamstrings a nice workout, not the same as running but a lot better than nothing.

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Sports Hernia

Dr Yee at SMG is a knowledgeable guy. Today I went to get the scoop on my not-yet-healed abdominal wall strain.

As I recall it, here is what the doctor said:

  • What it's NOT is any kind of hip problem or hernia. It really is an abdominal wall strain.
  • He said it is commonly called a "sports hernia," pointing out that it isn't really a hernia, but a strain at a point where abdominal wall muscles connect. It happens to jocks.
  • It's likely that the problem was caused when I ran 18 miles one morning and then a 4-mile race that evening without warming up again. Muscles tend to tighten after being stressed, and I probably pulled them later when I raced.
  • Since it hurts just as my right foot hits the ground, I suggested that the stress comes from my innards pushing out against the abdominal wall. He thought it it's more likely that the foot-strike is the moment of maximum muscle tension between the muscles of the abdomen and those of the leg.
  • It's encouraging that two weeks off from running has made an improvement - that tells us what to do: Keep right on NOT running.
  • However, I should expect that muscle tone will fall off somewhat after a few weeks without running.
  • He recommended "water jogging" as an alternative cardio exercise. However, we don't have access to a pool.
  • When I asked what would happen if I just went ahead and ran on the pain, he said that the injury would just get worse, and discouraged that pretty strongly.
  • I mentioned a marathon coming up in less than two weeks, and he made two suggestions:

    • Do a short run before driving to the marathon, and consider just not going to the marathon if there is still pain.
    • If I do go, be mentally prepared to QUIT the marathon if there is significant pain. We're talking my first-ever DNF in 55 marathons.
Hmmm. I'm not too comfortable with the short-test-run notion. If it hurt a lot, then I suppose I would not go. But if it didn't hurt much, which is what happened yesterday, then I would go and try to run the marathon, but that test run might undo a few days of healing time. I'll do the "situp test" (try a situp, see if it hurts) and I'll go if that seems OK.

As to the DNF: I do have eight marathons scheduled for the rest of the year, and right now I couldn't run one. I'm hoping, of course, that another 12 days of healing will fix the "sports hernia" problem. If not, in the worst case, it would become quite painful at some point in the race, and I would stop. More likely, though, based on past experience with this injury, it would start hurting at some point, and keep on hurting but not a lot. Then I suppose I'd keep going, even if that put some later marathons at risk.

Right now, though, I would like to get in some good cardio training. Walking is OK, but it doesn't push me hard enough and I think it is somewhat stressful on the abdominal muscles too, especially fast walking. I'm afraid to try the bike, or do stair climbing, because past experience shows that those can cause other "cross-training" injuries. I'd like to try an elliptical trainer, but we don't have one and don't have any kind of club membership. However, Anytime Fitness has elliptical trainers, and I just got my one-time 14-day free pass. I will try the elliptical tomorrow. There might be other machines of interest there too.


Regular breakfast:

Monday, September 05, 2011

Victory 10k & 5k

I didn’t run either race, but we three went to the races to rub elbows with old friends, and I did my first running in two weeks, on paved trails adjacent to the race course. Unfortunately, I didn’t quite get away with it.

The "situp test" (I try to do an ordinary situp) before the run was pain-free. I ran 30 seconds of every 2.5 minutes, walking the rest at a rapid pace. But even that small amount of running did cause some pain at first, in the abdominal wall and also further down, perhaps at the top of the adductors. It didn’t hurt to walk, only to run.

I walk/ran about 3.5 miles in 48:20, and by the end most of the pains had resolved, so I was running rather comfortably. Later at home, though, the “situp test” was a little painful - the injury is definitely not healed. I’m disappointed, because there is a marathon coming up soon.

I do have an appointment with a sports doc tomorrow morning, and we’ll figure out the best approach. One way or another, I will run that marathon.

Breakfast:

Saturday, September 03, 2011

Acorns on the Roof

Bonk. Bonk. Another clear harbinger of fall, as if tonight's change in weather wasn't clue enough.

St Croix Valley Runners today, but I didn't run - I walked with my sweeties, strolled actually, for about 45 minutes. More than two miles, less than three. No pain in the abdominal wall, either during or after the walk.

In the afternoon, that was followed by two hours of lawn mowing with a walk-behind mower. Still no pain in the gut. This is good. According to the plan, I'll do more mowing tomorrow and then on Labor Day I'll run a little bit.

I'm starting to think that the injury may have been caused by my attempts to do quads stretches, as directed by a physical therapist. Of course I didn't do it right, if I caused the strain, but this is the second time in my memory that therapy for one problem may have caused another injury.


Tonight's dinner. Oven-roasted vegetables & pineapple surrounding turkey curry with a few organic coconut chips on top. Dessert was organic chunky peanut butter on a banana.

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Collaboration With Team Continuum

I'm now running on behalf of Team Continuum, raising money for people living with cancer, while I pursue my goal of running a marathon in each of the 50 states. We three have a full schedule of marathons for the rest of 2011, including the New York City Marathon, the Marine Corps Marathon, and several others.

You can help. If you go to my new E-Race Cancer Facebook Page and "like" it, a donation will be made to Team Continuum by a third party. We invite you to do that - there is no cost to you.

While you are there, you are certainly also welcome to click on the Team Continuum link and make a further contribution to the cause.

Thank you!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Walking

I am SO itching to run. The "abdominal wall strain" is barely detectable now, even when I do a situp. But I don't want to make the mistake of trying to "run through" this injury, because I think it will just get worse and I have seven or eight marathons yet to run this year.

So no running until next Monday, and then only a short distance followed by a "situp check" of the injured area. After that, re-evaluate. Maybe longer in a couple more days, maybe not.

Today, friend Jim and I walked 3.7 miles in about 1:06:00, for a nice easy walking pace of about 18 minutes/mile. Nice walk, nice chat. No pain.


Bison in sauce, onions, organic beans, organic grapes:

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Harbingers of Fall

On my long trail run last Monday, I saw a stand of sumac just starting to turn red. Moments later, I heard and then saw a flock of geese honking overhead, starting to train for their long journey to the south. Fall isn't here yet, but now I'm sure it's coming. I love fall. Not so fond of winter, but fall can be excellent.

No running yesterday or today, and none tomorrow or Friday, either. Maybe none for almost two weeks, as my "abdominal wall strain" heals. This afternoon I tried to do a pushup, but my abs said NO. I'll see if some stair climbing feels OK.

I'm still trying to figure out WHY I got that injury. I've run thousands of miles in the last 9 years, including more than four dozen marathons, with no hint of that particular problem. So what's different?

In five days I ran 40 miles, somewhat over my weekly goal. Further, I was wearing a water-bottle carrier for 31 of those miles, one which I keep fastened rather tightly around my waist so that it doesn't bounce on my butt. I suppose that could be a difference - I don't wear that in a marathon because I drink at aid stations. Does it squeeze my abdomen in some unnatural way?

In any case, I doubt the injury would have happened if I had paid more attention to core strength. Let that be a lesson.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Abdominal Wall Strain

Who knew? I’ve never heard of an “abdominal wall strain” from running, but that’s what Dr. V says, and it makes the most sense. My gut hurts when I come down on my foot but not when I’m pushing forward on that foot. Going up or downhill doesn’t make it worse. It hurts a lot, though, when I try to do a situp from laying on my back.

It’s the injury that comes BEFORE a hernia. Some of the muscle fibers are torn, but not most of them - the abdominal wall still feels firm, says the doc. He didn’t say that it would become a hernia if I didn’t let it heal, but I got that impression. Two to six weeks to heal, he thought, just don’t do anything that makes it hurt. A truss wouldn’t help. He did think that I might heal a little faster than most because I take care of myself. Hmmm. That would be nice - my next marathon is just four weeks away.

So here’s the plan: Tomorrow nothing physical. Wednesday maybe some upper body resistance training, but nothing that hurts, and I also have to climb some stairs before a 1:00 pm blood draw (to bring out the neutrophils). Thursday probably nothing except lots of driving. Friday maybe I’ll find some other aerobic exercise - biking, swimming, elliptical, whatever doesn’t hurt. That’s the first four days.

I doubt this would have happened if I had paid more attention to "core strength." Thoughts for the future.

Dumb Running

Monday, August 22, 2011:

Every training program emphasizes the importance of a gradual ramp-up in both weekly distance and long-run distance, to avoid overtraining injuries. I’ve been ramping up fairly carefully, I thought, increasing the long runs by only about 10% per week and holding to about 30 miles per week, with a shorter total every three weeks or so. But I didn’t think it through very carefully.

I start my weeks on Saturday, and last week, from Saturday through Friday, I totaled up 33 miles. OK, that’s already plenty long. This week I intended to shorten it up, with a moderate run today and a lower total for the week. However, looking back from today, I ran 18 miles last Wednesday morning, then a 4-mile race that night, plus 5 miles Saturday, so I had already run 27 miles in the last 5 days before I started this morning’s 13.2-mile trail run. I should have run short today, but I got greedy.

Two nearly-identical loops, one 6.9 miles and the other 6.3; I didn’t rush, walked some of the time, and felt great most of the way. With about three miles to go, though, the abdominal muscle started to hurt, the same place as last Thursday. It’s on the right-hand side, about two-thirds of the way from the navel down to the crotch. It really doesn’t hurt a lot when running, and it makes no difference whether I’m going uphill, downhill, or flat. It seems to hurt with the bounce at the bottom of the stride, especially on the right leg. Now, after the run, it also hurts plenty if I lay back and try to do a sit-up or a crunch, and I can pinpoint the spot pretty well.

What bothers me is the possibility of a hernia, or an injury to some organ other than a muscle. If it’s just a muscle pull, then I know the treatment - lay off it for a while, or at least ease up. Maybe ride a bike or just walk or whatever doesn't hurt. But I need to get an opinion from someone who knows more about anatomy. We have a lot of marathons scheduled for this fall, so I’ll haul this ole belly to the doctor as soon as I can get in.

Saturday, August 20, 2011:

St Croix Valley Runners. We had a big group today, because the group planned to go to breakfast at the Oasis in Stillwater after the run. We like to do that once in a while. We three couldn’t go to the breakfast because of a myeloma support group meeting across town later in the morning, but we ran anyway.

I found myself alone for half of the way, stuck between several speedsters and a few others behind. I did notice a little pain from the abdominal muscle in the very beginning, plus two cranky knees, but all of that subsided and the run felt pretty good. Eventually Paul caught up and we had a very good chat for 20 minutes or so. I walked up a couple of hills, to avoid antagonizing the abdominal muscle, and he slowed to walk too.

Five miles in 49:00. Considering the abdominal muscle question, it’ll do. It’s a masterpiece.

These photos are mostly taken on the kitchen counter. We recently switched from incandescent (halogen) floodlights over the counter to LED floods, a "greener" lower-energy alternative. But I'm not satisfied with the color that I get from the new bulbs. We'll have to experiment a little more. Anyway here is this morning's breakfast, mostly organic everything except the oatmeal, which is gluten-free:

Friday, August 19, 2011

Tartan Terrible 4-Mile Race

Wednesday, August 17, 2011:

The Tartan Terrible is a goofy, cross-country, almost-steeplechase 4-mile race held in 3M’s Tartan Park. I love it and run it every year. It includes mowed grass, paved trail, gravel road, rough trail, steep little hills, and even calf-deep water. Runners are advised in advance to wear old shoes. It’s always on a warm Wednesday evening, and this year the temperature was 72, perfect for spectators and good enough for runners, all of whom enjoyed peanuts and cold watermelon afterward.

The course is not measured, but is probably about 4.3 miles. This year I needed 43:03 to finish, a half minute more than last year, but last year I hadn’t first run 18 miles earlier that same day. Ten-minute miles, it’s a good enough pace and I had an enjoyable run.

Now, though, it’s the next morning and I’m feeling a little bit of a groin pull on the right side. I sure hope that’s all it is. Anyway I’m already up to 33 miles this week, so no more running until Saturday, longer if the groin pull doesn’t go away.

Yours truly cruising toward the finish: