Monday, April 30, 2012

I Had Fun This Morning

There is a post about it on my myeloma blog.  It's a masterpiece!

Yesterday the three of us ran in New Jersey, from Short Hills westward through Chatham into Madison, then back. Six miles for me, mostly doing a walk/run sequence, keeping the ache of the hernia surgery to a bare minimum. I don't know how fast I went, because we stopped at Whole Foods on our return, to eat some food and to buy more to eat at the hotel.

Pains were minimal. Healing is happening.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Another Good Run

I ran the same route as I did two days ago, but just a little faster.  Barely.  Two days ago I ran 15 to 20 seconds of each two minutes, but today I tried 10 seconds of each minute instead, hoping that the shorter intervals would be a little easier on the surgical area.  Uphill, I ran as much as 30 seconds at a time, because uphill is so much easier on the gut, and I didn’t run at all downhill.  5.23 miles in 1:07:20, for a pace of 12:52.  It’s plenty good enough.

Whining: I felt a slight ache in the surgical area right at the beginning of the run, then it went away for a while.  But in the last mile or two I could feel it again, so I slowed a little.  I’ll wait a couple of days before running again.  Tomorrow I’ll mow the lawn and walk with my girls.  Saturday we'll all walk again.

Weight: 152.5 lb today, exactly the same as six days ago.  The WW system will work, though, I know it will, it has in the past.  I have the rest of my life to drop the 10 pounds.

Alaskan sockeye salmon with a little cheese, organic broccolini with a pepper sauce, organic  tomatoes, fresh fennel:

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Best Run So Far

Tuesday, April 24, 2012:

Best run since surgery, that is. We ran in the park today, my two sweeties on the paved trails and I on the grass trails. Right after the surgery they were much faster than I was, but now I’m again able to keep up and more. Healing is happening.

Run: I ran roughly 15 to 20 seconds of each two minutes, going 5.23 miles in 1:08:34, for an average pace of 13:07. This was almost exactly the same pace as Saturday’s run, but it was half again as far, and on hilly grass trails, which are a little slower than paved streets. If continued for 26.22 miles, 13:07 calculates out to a marathon finish of 5:44. The speed is good enough, and I have almost nine weeks yet to build up the distance.

I did alter the intervals from time to time, so that I could do the running portions on an uphill part of the trail, and never run on the downhill. This has two advantages: (1) There is less "pounding" when running uphill, because stride is shorter and it’s easy to land softly on the ball of the foot; and (2) Runnng uphill is very, very good for the thighs and calves, which require some rebuilding after several weeks off. For the first time in weeks, those muscles feel tired tonight, as if they have been put to good use.

Whining: Occasionally I felt a dull ache in the area of the surgery, barely noticeable. It doesn’t feel like I’m reinjuring the surgical repair, but I don’t want to feel anything there at all, so I react to that by slowing or dropping to a walk. There is no ache when walking. There were no other pains.

Weight: 161.3 lb this morning, down 1.2 lb from the first measurement of 162.5 last Friday, no doubt mostly water. I’ve recorded my food intake each day since the start, using the Weight Watchers methods, and I know that this will work because it has worked for me before. They call it "journaling." I know that I can stop journaling if I can get back to running 30 to 40 miles per week, but in the meantime it’s a small price to pay to get my weight down and keep it where I want it. The intermediate goal is 150 lb, at which point I’ll re-evaluate. I’m guessing that I’ll want to take off another five or ten. Easy does it though - a pound a week is enough. The system works and there is lots of time.

Sunday, April 22:

We three hadn’t run the Gateway Trail since the new bridge over Manning was opened. Manning is a 55 mph highway, Washington County Road 15. Runners, bikers, skateboarders, horse riders, anyone using the trail had their lives in their hands as they crossed Manning. The new bridge eliminates that issue entirely. It’s wonderful. Here is a very nice blog about the bridge. We started at Pine Point Park and ran the two miles to milepost 16, just past the Manning bridge, then back. I went a little farther, as I was going just slightly faster. The bridge is wide, with a concrete deck, and the approaches are long, so the climb to the top is easy. I’m delighted with it.

My own run was slow and steady. I did feel a little ache in the surgical area a few times, so I ran only 10 seconds of every two minutes, and didn’t walk at full speed. My total distance was about 4.3 miles, and time was 1:03:58, so the average pace was about 14:53, barely faster than a fast walk. I’m happy though.

Spring trails in the park:

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Serious About Weight Loss

I started running in 2002, at the age of 61. My speed improved until 2006, when I made all of my current PR's. For most of that year, and through 2007, I weighed between 147 and 152 pounds. Then, in 2008, I began taking dexamethasone (dex) to treat my myeloma. Dex didn't cause my weight to go up, but it changed the shape of my body, taking away muscle mass and adding a layer of fat on the front of my torso, especially my abdomen. I had stopped taking dex by 2010, but my body shape has not returned, and in fact I've allowed myself to gain another 12 pounds or so, almost all of it in that same area.

I believe that the extra pounds on my abdomen slowed my running considerably in 2011, and may even have contributed to the "sports hernia" that I had repaired five weeks ago. It's unsightly, and even uncomfortable. It's gotta go! I'm hoping that the last-on weight will also be the first to come off.

I'm a Weight Watcher, so I know exactly what to do to get the weight off. Losing weight does seem to impair my immune system a little, though, making me vulnerable to colds or whatever is going around in the first few weeks of weight loss. I don't want that happening right before a marathon, so last year, with 13 marathons, I had precious little time to lose weight. Further, in the last five weeks, I haven't done it because I wanted by body to have plenty of support as it heals from the surgery.

Now it's time to start. I have nine weeks yet before the Anchorage Marathon, and I think I can simultaneously lose weight, increase running, and continue healing. Easy does it of course, not more than a pound a week. I have the rest of my life to finish this.

We eat the best food we can find, almost always prepared at home, and I never eat junk food (with one recent, delicious exception, a chocolate/PB dessert in a vegan restaurant). Most of the extra weight has come from second helpings, plus snacking on nuts, cheese, dark chocolate, and cappuccino. I know from experience that if I write down everything that goes in, I will eat less and lose weight. That's a big part of the Weight Watcher's method, and it works for me.

Starting today, I'm resuming my Weight Watchers' points journal. In addition, I will record my weight most mornings, and that weight record will be updated on this blog right here, with a permanent link on the right-hand panel.

This is a serious effort. Going public like this increases my chances of sticking to it.

Today's Run:

I ran with the St Croix Valley Runners this morning, though I ran only 15 seconds out of each two minutes, and quickly fell behind. There was very little pain, almost none. Even the paresthesia (which appears as localized false pain) is almost gone. I felt normal, for the first time since the surgery. 3.5 miles in 46:24, for a pace of 13:15. That's fast enough to finish a marathon in less than six hours. Now I have nine weeks to train myself to do that for 26 miles instead of just three.

It's a masterpiece!

Today's breakfast: Not shown are two eggs, eaten first to slow the digestion of these carbs. In addition to what you see, there are blueberries, raisins, and a few frozen cherries. Most items are organic. With the eggs, this is almost half of the calories that I will eat today:

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Undiscovered Gem in NYC

A running friend put me onto New York City’s Riverside Park, which "runs" along the Hudson River for more than ten miles, all the way from Battery Park to the George Washington Bridge. The brick and boardwalk pedestrian paths run parallel (ish) to a very nice bike trail, and to the West Side Highway 9a, usually between those two and the river’s edge, often close enough to spit in the water. I’m just so impressed by the quality of the paths, the greenery, the public art along the way, plus the pedestrian pier at 68th. I only went from 55th to 68th, but I hope to see much more of it another time.

Yesterday, in Central Park, I saw thousands of runners, walkers, and bikers, but today on these lovely trails I saw only a few dozen. "Nobody knows about this," I exclaimed to a guy walking his dog. "Thank goodness," he replied. Apparently the people who do use it are happy to keep it a secret. If you like to watch people, run in Central Park. But if you would like to see the city on one side and the river on the other, the Riverside Park trails are worth a try.

The trails aren’t accessible from everywhere - you have to cross 9a to get to them, but I found access at 55th Street (pedestrian crosswalk), 59th (walk under 9a), and 68th (elegant walk under 9a). Doubtless there are many more.

My walk/run was fine. I did occasionally feel just a little ache in the area under the hernia incision, so I took it easy, running for only about ten seconds out of every two minutes or so. Also, I stopped often to take photos. I suppose I went about four miles, including the jaunt from my hotel to the trail, but it was enough for today. In fact, I’ll take tomorrow off. Going home tonight.


OK I do love New York City, and I hate to be a complainer, but once in a while you see this attitude, which seems to me simultaneously condescending, arrogant, and snide, nevermind supercilious. People have a right to brag, but it can be done without belittling others:

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Chess and Checkers House

Central Park in New York City is a magical place. As I ran there this morning, I passed the Chess and Checkers House, atop a little knoll. I couldn’t see inside the house, which was closed so early in the morning, but all around it were chess/checkers boards on sturdy concrete stands, each with sturdy concrete seats, obviously inviting players to spend their summers there. How cool that is, and only one of the many attractions of Central Park.

I had a lovely run in Central Park this morning, and was amazed to find myself with thousands of other runners, along with hundreds of people on bikes. I ran up the main road, I think called Park Drive (?), and actually had to dodge other people at times. I went for an hour, 30 minutes out and 30 back, running for about 15 seconds of every two minutes or so, running longer uphill, and running shorter or not at all on the downhills because that’s bumpier on the recent hernia surgery. That's at least four miles, I’m sure. I’m a happy runner.

I have been running my most recent marathons in honor of Team Continuum to help raise money for that cause. Tonight I received an award from Team Continuum for sustaining the spirit of the group’s founder, Paul Nicholls, who also had myeloma and also ran marathons with myeloma. Quite a man - I wish I had known him. Even more, I wish that myeloma had not claimed him before his time. I miss him, even though I never knew him.

The award itself is a heavy leaded-class crystal almost a foot high with a chisel top. Quite elegant. Photos were taken back in the hotel room, as I relaxed in the hotel's bathrobe:


You just never know what you might see when you come around a corner in New York City:

Monday, April 16, 2012

Still Walking

Monday, Apr. 16, 2012:

Elliptical Machine, 3.6 "elliptical miles," in 30 minutes, 7.2 "MPH," 72 RPM, 482 calories. This was the last serious exercise before my little trip to NYC. No pain, just sweat.

Sunday, Apr. 15:

We three zipped out between rain showers to walk/run 3.6 miles on the paved trails in the park. The grass trails were wet and muddy, of course. We finished in 57 minutes, which is pretty close to a 4 MPH, 15 min/mi pace. I felt very little pain at the site of the hernia surgery, even though walking at that rather vigorous pace. We may be approaching that point where there is less pain than before the surgery, which was only four weeks ago.

It’s tempting to go faster, and push myself a little. However, a couple of days ago, a friend advised me that he had overexerted after a hernia surgery and pulled the repair apart, necessitating a second surgery. Therefore I will take it very easy, building up slowly as the surgeon has suggested.

Saturday, Apr 14:

The Saint Croix Valley Runners meet at 7:00 am every Saturday, in Stillwater’s Northland tenis courts. We three and Jen walked fairly slowly, probably going just a bit over two miles. Another four ran the normal five mile route, finishing almost as soon as we did.

Wednesday, Apr 11:

Elliptical machine, 30:11 minutes, 3.5 elliptical "miles," 7.11 MPH, 71 RPM, 473 calories. This was a good elliptical "run," as good as any before the hernia surgery. There is absolutely no pain when running on the elliptical, just sweat. Three weeks and two days since the surgery - the next marathon is 10 weeks away. I’m sure I’ll be ready.

The snow shovels are still lined up and ready! I suppose they could be put in the shed now, but it did snow a little this morning:

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

I Ran a Little Today

Tuesday, April 10, 2012:

Today is three weeks and a day after the hernia surgery. As the doctor had suggested, I ran softly for about 10 seconds out of each two minutes. It worked. When not running I walked pretty fast, almost a race pace. 4.44 miles in 1:06:38, for a pace of 15:00. That’s better than last week.

I did occasionally feel a slight ache in the area of the surgical repair, however, so I think I’ll hold off any more running until next week. I’ll be in New York City, so it might be fun to walk/run in Central Park or Riverside Park.

Saturday, April 7:

The skin around the site of the hernia surgery feels quite tender, as if it were burned, although it was not injured in the surgery at all as far as I know. The surgeon calls this paresthesia, and considers it a normal side effect from surgery. Huh - the things they don’t tell you beforehand. Anyway, it’s not terribly painful, but that pain does tend to mask the deeper pain from the surgery - it’s easy to confuse the pains. I would like to use pain (absence of) as a guide for increasing my exercise, but the paresthesia makes that harder.

Since I did feel some ache on a few occasions yesterday, I walked slower and shorter today, again with the girls. 2.4 miles in about 45 minutes, around 19 min/mile. Good enough - rushing the recovery is inadvisable.

Friday, April 6:

Grass trails in the park, 5.0 miles in 1:27, pace 17:24. The girls and I chugged right along, at about the same pace as Wednesday, though we did stop briefly once or twice. There is still an ache in the abdomen, at the surgical site, if I go too fast or land too hard on my feet, so I do have to walk softly and not at a maximum pace.

Wednesday, April 4:

Grass trails in the park, 4.4 miles in 1:17, pace 17:30 . I walked as fast as I could go without pain. This is a fairly hilly trail, which makes it a bit slower than a flat trail would be. No running yet, except maybe a few steps when going uphill, which is a lot easier on my abdomen than flat or downhill.

Tuesday, April 3:

Elliptical machine, 30 minutes at level 8, 70 RPM, 7 MPH, 3.5 elliptical miles.

Monday, April 02, 2012

14-Day Post-Op Checkup

Sunshine and I met with Dr. BP, who looked at the incision site and asked questions about my recovery from the hernia surgery two weeks ago. He seemed satisfied with the progress:

  • Incision: He pointed to the center of the incision and remarked that it could leak a little as the adhesive wears off. If so, I should keep it covered, he said. I assume that means with a sterile bandage, and I would use a non-stick material with a little Neosporin.
  • Running: I should be able to run after three to four weeks, which I assume is one to two weeks from now. Begin with a walk/run, using a low fraction of running, and gradually increase the running fraction. In the meantime, the elliptical or a bike is fine. Continue with the runner’s stretches. I told him that the hip-flexor stretch already feels better than it did before the surgery.
  • Common Sense: He said use common sense in ramping up, as if common sense was in great supply for an addicted runner. I mentioned that I could use pain (lack thereof) as a guide, but that the original injury had been incurred without pain. I didn’t get a good answer to that. At bottom, I guess I will have to try to be guided by common sense AND pain. I may set out a conservative day-by-day plan and try to stick to that. The next marathon is in June.
  • Numbness: The skin nearest the incision is numb to the touch, totally without feeling. He said that this is normal and may persist for months or even a year or two, but it will eventually return to normal.
  • Paresthesia: I learned a new word from Dr BP. Paresthesia is a skin sensation, such as burning, prickling, itching, or tingling. In my case the cause was the surgery, and the skin surrounding the numb area is unusually sensitive to touch, as if it had been burned. The feeling is not pleasant, but it hasn’t been a big problem. He said that it may go away sooner than the numbness.
  • General Anesthesia: In the pre-op consultation, Dr BP had said that we would use "sedation" rather than general anesthesia. In the actual operation I was completely out for the whole time, even though I had discussed my hypersensitivity to anesthetics with the anesthesiologist at some length. Dr BP said that was "perfect," that he doesn’t like a patient to feel uncomfortable during the surgery. Further, said he, Fentanyl can cause amnesia, so I could have been awake and wouldn’t know that now. I don’t believe that was the case. Bottom line: I did everything I could to warn the anesthesiologist about my sensitivity, and they gave me a small dose (50 mcg), but that was enough to knock me out. I don’t know what would have happened if I hadn’t warned them.
He does want to see me again in six weeks (again, I think that’s six weeks from the surgery date).

At this point I can walk rapidly without pain. I mulched the last of the leaves yesterday, using a self-propelled walk-behind mower. I’m feeling pretty good. It’s a masterpiece.

NYC Marathon: