Sunday, February 24, 2013

Hyannis Marathon

Today’s headline: Whitecaps on the puddles in the street.  The big news today was the weather: cold, windy, and raining.  I've been happy to finish every one of my 71 marathons, but never happier than today, no fault of the race committee.

My Race:

Temperatures slid from 43 to 37 as the day wore on, with winds increasing.  Rain was pretty constant, letting up only in my last two miles or so.  Misery index: 9 of 10, where 10 of 10 would be 34 degrees & sleet, or maybe 90 degrees without shade.  This was easily the coldest weather for any marathon I've run.  One in St Charles MO was similar, not quite so cold, but with so much rain that the course became flooded and the race was cancelled while we ran it.

My pace was slower than usual because of the weather.  Gear: Wind jacket with mock-turtle LS technical shirt underneath, running pants with running shorts underneath, normal shoes with regular (not thin) running Wrightsox, ear cover band, visor, and mittens.  In addition I carried an extra shirt, knee covers, and a large trash bag, just in case I couldn't handle the cold.  None of that extra stuff was needed, and in fact it slowed me down in the last few miles because the extra shirt got waterlogged and dangled behind me.  Live and learn.  I didn't get cold until I stopped and went inside the finishers’ building.  I had aimed for a finish of 5:30, considering the weather, and my actual time was 5:34:59.  Good enough for second place in the 70+ age group, though there were only two of us in the age group.

Whining: No serious injuries.  My quads and hip flexors spoke up a lot, starting at mile 11 and gradually worsening until the end.  Calves threatened to cramp a few times but didn't, and my speed was ultimately limited by the pain in the quads and hip flexors.  I suspect that the temperature affected those muscles.


My sweeties finished too, and now have run a marathon or a half marathon in 49 states.  One more to go!

The Hyannis Marathon:

This is advertised as a “winter marathon,” and so it is.  I ran briefly with a local woman who said that her friend had flown up from Florida to run because she wanted to find out what a winter marathon was like.  I’d say she got her money’s worth.  Hyannis is on Cape Cod, so it is subject to strong influences from the Atlantic, but by and large the weather is not too different from the weather in Boston, also close to the Atlantic.  Boston, on Friday, would have been a wonderful day for a marathon; perfect temperature, no rain, snow, or wind, only perhaps a little too much sun!  Otherwise perfect.  Saturday in Hyannis would have been pretty good too.  Not today.  Not, however, the fault of the Hyannis Marathon!

In fact, the race committee did publicly discuss cancelling the marathon outright, and might have done so if the wind estimates had been higher, (50 mph was mentioned but didn’t materialize).  They kept us well informed and made the decision at 4:00 pm Saturday, as they said they would.

Finisher's medal
Running conditions were: (1) Roads completely open, plowed curb to curb; (2) Lots of big puddles in the roads, full of very cold water, not quite ice; (3) Sidewalks existed on maybe half of the course, and were mostly plowed and mostly free of debris from the blizzard two weeks ago.  I used the sidewalks a lot, especially in the second half of the two-loop marathon: (4) Traffic was worse than advertised on the race web page, and because of the puddles in the road some runners were doused by thoughtless passing drivers.  One driver doused a runner (not me) so thoroughly that I resolved to unload my full 72-year dictionary of invectives at him if I ever saw him and his VW Beetle again.  Happily I didn't - I was pissed;  (5) The rain rarely let up, never for long, and at one point near the Atlantic it was actually sleet.  Ah well, I’m from Minnesota and I can handle anything!

Volunteers were WONDERFUL!  It’s one thing to spend 5 or 6 hours out there running, with the body heated by the effort, but quite another to spend that time standing in one place.  Huzzah! to all of the valiant volunteers, and police as well.  I love you, and I high-fived a lot of you.

We three all thought that the Hyannis Marathon race committee and the race itself were great.  Aid stations were well-placed and sufficient.  The only area for improvement was the number of porta-potties: The first location after a race start has to have more than one!  In fact, this race is big enough to support at least two at each location.  Not only would this reduce the lines, but then two people running together might not have to wait for each other.

Splits: 12:25, 23:05 (2 mi), 23:09 (2 mi), 17:29 (major natural break), 23:37 (2 mi), 11:54, 14:08 (natural break), 11:59, 11:25, 23:36 (2 mi), 49:33 (4 mi), 13:15, 42:19 (3 mi & natural break), 26:39 (2 mi), 13:32, 16:56 (1.2 mi), total 5:34:59, pace  12:47.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Tempo Taper Run

I believe that taper runs should be shorter than the runs building toward a marathon, but not less intense.  In particular I like to run a modest distance at a tempo pace, or even a race pace, about a week before the marathon.  Today we went to the track at the Woodbury YMCA, six miles, 13 laps per mile.

Most of it lands on the ground and
has to be shoveled, but some lands
on the trees and creates beauty.
I did the run/walk as usual, lengthening the run and shortening the walk a bit, to a ratio of probably about 4 to 1 by distance.  Splits:  9:35, 9:27, 9:25, 9:26, 9:26, 9:14, total 56:34, pace 9:26.  That corresponds to a 10k time of 58:29 or so, a little better than I did in the Victory race last summer, and I wasn't quite racing today.  I’m happy with the pace.

Whining: Not so happy with my right Achilles tendon.  It hurt during a run, then got better during the next walk.  Most of the time it was OK, but that cycle repeated itself three or four times.  Probably not a problem, but it’s in the log.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Taper Run, 4 Miles

Wednesday morning,
through the window
After 12 miles two days ago, and with a marathon looming, four miles was just the ticket for today.  We ran on the Woodbury YMCA track, 13 loops per mile.  I forgot my watch, but used a wall clock and I believe that I ran the four miles in 39 minutes, for a pace slightly better than 10 minutes per mile.  I did my usual run/walk, running about 5 to 1 by distance, 3 to 1 by time.  Good enough.

Whining: This morning when I got out of bed I felt a strange cramp in the right calf.  After a little massage it seemed to go away, and didn’t bother during some snow shoveling and other work.  During the run, though, it reappeared, more while running than while walking.  I stopped once to massage it a bit, and it was better, though not gone.  Problem: It was different from my usual calf cramps, and I’m not absolutely certain that it was not a deep-vein thrombosis (DVT), which can be a risk of my current myeloma treatment.  It’s gone now, though.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Twelve Miles, Tapering

We ran in the Stillwater dome today - I prefer to do long or longish runs there, rather than any of the other indoor tracks, because I can run around the corners in either direction.  I do change direction after each mile.  This run went OK, but not quite as well as hoped.  After about halfway my speed gradually went down, even though it seemed as though I was working just as hard.  I believe that I went into the run somewhat dehydrated, and if so, that would account for the less-than-stellar performance.

Oatmeal beneath, and frozen pineapple
beneath that, thawing out.  Strawberries
were thawed overnight.  Mostly organic.

Nevertheless the overall pace was 10:09, quite a bit faster than I expect to run the upcoming marathon.  I took 5 or 6 ounces of water every two miles, and Clif Shot gels with caffeine at miles 4 & 8.

Whining:  The right hip flexors started to complain after about mile 8, but not too badly.  This happens sometimes, and never prevents me from finishing a marathon.  I wonder if that’s related to hydration as well.  Bottom line: Be plenty well hydrated going into any marathon!

Splits:  9:49, 10:06, 9:48, 9:55, 10:01, 10:13, 10:05, 10:14, 10:09, 10:20, 10:26, 10:40, total 2:01:47, pace 10:09.  It’ll do.

National Public Radio

Saturday, February 9, 2013:

A photographer from National Public Radio followed us around today, starting with our Myeloma Support Group meeting at Methodist Hospital in St. Louis park and ending up at the Maplewood Community Center where we three ran for about 30 minutes.  The local photographer, Ariana Lindquist, spent that 30 minutes getting action shots, and then took some additional pictures after the run.

I’m told that NPR will air the story about myeloma, Pomalyst, and my running, by medical reporter Richard Knox, sometime in the morning of February 18.  I suppose a few of the photos will appear on NPR’s web site at about that time.

Today’s run was fine - no whining, plenty of speed, though I wasn't able to time the three miles.

Saturday, February 09, 2013

Pomalidomide (Pomalyst) Approved by FDA

Five years ago two different therapies had failed to stop my myeloma's upward climb, and finally a PET scan showed holes in my bones. This was Stage I disease, and time for a treatment that would actually work for me! I went on a trial of CC-4047 (later pomalidomide, now Pomalyst) with dexamethasone, then eventually Pomalyst alone. It brought my numbers down quickly, and now my myeloma remains stable, with an M-spike of about 1.1 mg/dL. More-recent PET scans and X-rays have not found holes in my bones.

My family and I have enjoyed five free years, with a high quality of life. During that time I have been privileged to run 43 marathons in 34 different states which, added to previous marathons, comes to 70 marathons in 50 different states. Just last December, when I was 71, we finished that 50-state odyssey in Hawaii.

For those five years I have taken a little red pomalidomide pill every night, and have escaped the disabling injuries that myeloma can cause, but without the severe side effects and frequent clinic visits of regular chemotherapy. In fact, side effects have been minimal. It has been a miracle for me - I've literally been free to travel and free to run. I do take very good care of myself, with the best food we can find and plenty of exercise and sleep, but those few milligrams of pomalidomide most certainly have been the key. Now that pomalidomide is approved by the FDA, it has the potential to do for thousands more patients and families what it has done for us.

Pomalidomide is evidence that research, innovation, and new technology are making a big difference to those of us with myeloma. Add the recent approval of Kyprolis and Velcade sub-cutaneous, plus more drugs in active studies and on the way to studies, and we have reason for a lot of hope. Dr. Durie of the International Myeloma Foundation (IMF) counted 700 different abstracts related to myeloma research at the recent conference of the American Society of Hematology (ASH). Myeloma is certainly not yet a chronic disease for most of us, but we are heading that way.

Here is the FDA announcement, titled FDA approves Pomalyst for advanced multiple myeloma.

Live one day at a time and make it a masterpiece! - Dalai Lama


I’m not a fan of the treadmill, preferring a track whenever possible, but this day I had an extra hour to wait for a blood test result at Stillwater Medical, and the nearest Silver Sneakers location had treadmills, the Training Room at OSI in Stillwater.  Forty minutes and four miles, at an assortment of speeds roughly approximating my run/walk.  It’s a little warm in there, but otherwise no problems.

Whining: None.

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

18 Miles

This was the long run in preparation for our upcoming Cape Cod marathon.  We three went to the Stillwater Bubble at 6:30 am, and ran for three hours plus.  For a while I ran with friend Jim, and several other runners that I knew came and went while we were there, but mostly I ran by myself because I was doing my run/walk, this time with a ratio of about 3 or 4 to 1.  It’s very awkward for someone else to follow that unless they have trained for it.  It’s the only way that I can finish a marathon, though, and it’s helping me stay injury-free.  It works for me.

Splits:  19:46 (2 mi), 10:00, 9:51, 9:58, 9:58, 10:02, 10:19, 10:24, 10:36, 10:13, 20:26 (2 mi), 10:08, 10:09, 10:04, 10:00, 10:20, total 3:02:10, average pace 10:07.  If this pace could be continued for another 8.2 miles, the resulting marathon time would be just under 4:26, very near Boston qualifying time.  That’s also a half hour faster than any marathon I've run in the past two or three years, so it means that this training run was faster than marathon pace.  Huh.  I wonder what might happen if I went for it and tried to run this pace in Cape Cod.  

I believe that my calves would cramp up in the last miles.  They have a habit of doing that, ever since I took dexamethasone (DEX) as one of my myeloma treatments.  DEX takes away muscle mass, and I suppose that’s one reason that I get cramps.  Also, though, I didn't bring salt tablets with me today because I wasn't worried about hyponatremia on a cool run (45 degrees) of only 18 miles.  I forgot that the primary reason for the salt tablets is to ward off cramps.  Duh.  Maybe I’ll shoot for something intermediate in Cape Cod, like 4:50.  We’ll see - weather may be a factor.

Today I got the first twinge of a calf cramp in the last quarter of the final lap.  Great timing!  I got more cramps after the run was over, but nothing serious.  After the run and a nice breakfast, I went out and shoveled snow for two and a half more hours, and then several other heretofore uncatalogued muscles made their presence known by cramping up, including something in the upper thighs, plus the forearms, plus my hands.  And now, of course, I’m very very tired, as if I really did run a marathon.  Every large muscle is sore, and several of the small ones too.  That’s a good thing - that’s what training is about, and it actually feels good. Maybe a nap this afternoon?

I took water every two miles, about five ounces each time, and a Clif Shot gel (mocha, with caffeine) four times.  Alas, no salt except the small amount offered by the gel.

Whining:  The right knee with patellofemoral syndrome (PFS) complained a little while walking, though not while running, between miles 3 and 7 or so, but then decided to shut up and go with the program.  No other sign of any injury.

It’s a masterpiece!  Oyeah. 

Sunday, February 03, 2013

Last Run in North St Paul

The Community Center is closing at the end of March.  We purchased a 30-day pass early in January, because we really like the track there, but since our Silver Sneakers will now get us into other places that have good tracks too, we won’t be buying any more monthly passes for the N. St. Paul Community Center.  Too bad.  I hope that the city will reverse the decision and keep the Community Center open, though it doesn't sound likely.

I had a nice high-energy run/walk today, just four miles, running about three paces for every one walked (actually about 180 to 60), by distance probably a ratio of four or five to one.  I know that “real” runners don’t take the walk breaks, but I sure do find it less tiring for the same speed, and I seem to get fewer injuries.  For now, working toward another marathon, I’ll be doing the run/walk all of the time.

Whining: None.

Splits:  9:44, 9:23, 9:11, 9:06, total 37:25, average pace 9:21.

Friday, February 01, 2013

New Brooks Launch Shoes

Thursday, January 31, 2013:

I expected to be tired today after twelve miles on Tuesday, but I felt just fine.  Better than fine, this run felt wonderful.  I did a run/walk, with a ratio of about 3 to 1, aiming for an overall pace of about 10 minutes per mile and achieving a little better than that.

I have run every one of my 70 marathons in Brooks shoes.  First the Burn, and then when they stopped making the Burn I searched around for a while, trying the Glycerine, Ghost, and Summon, and finally liking the Launch when Brooks eventually brought those out.  Like the Burn it’s a lightweight trainer, moderately cushioned, and I use it for everything - short training runs up to a marathon race.  I broke in a new pair of the Launch today. This is my eighth pair, and I ran through 20 pairs of the Burn before the Launch.

Whining: None.

Splits: 10:10, 9:33, 9:32, 9:32, 9:35, 9:29, total 57:52, average pace 9:39.