Sunday, December 14, 2014

It's Been A While

... since I posted on this blog.  We've moved from one house to another, and that whole project has higher priority than blogging and, apparently, higher even than running.

We're settled into the new home now, though, even if still a little tight. There are boxes not yet unpacked, but the good news is that there are a few drawers and shelves not yet filled. Here's hoping it will all come out even - a substantial downsizing is involved!

We have run exactly three times since the MEC Vancouver Marathon on November 16. That's four weeks with three runs. Tsk. Hopefully tomorrow.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014:

We ran for about 50 minutes along the piers in San Francisco. I ran more than half of the time, probably at an average run/walk pace of about 12 minutes/mile, so maybe four miles.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014:

About 2 1/2 miles in the Stillwater Bubble (soccer dome).  This is a little better than running on a treadmill, because we do occasionally see a friend or two.  No TV though.

Monday, November 24, 2014:

About 3 miles in the Stillwater Bubble.

Monday, November 17, 2014

MEC Vancouver Marathon Review

Sunday, November 16, 2014:

This is a low-budget marathon where everything is easy.  Register online for $25 CAD, show up, and run.  Marathon number 85 since my myeloma diagnosis, in 5:46:44, about eight minutes faster than the most recent marathon in Ottawa.

This was my second race in Canada, again supporting Nelson Wiebe, an Edmonton college student who is running five marathons this year in honor of his aunt, diagnosed with myeloma in 2010, to increase awareness of myeloma in Canada and to raise money for Myeloma Canada (  He passed me three times in the race, greeted me at the finish, and we did a little press interview together after the finish.  He's my hero.

The Marathon:


  • It's entirely on a trail atop a dike (dyke in Canadian) along the shore of the Strait of Georgia and whatever river goes east past the airport from that strait.  It's a lovely venue; 
  • Runners never EVER competed with vehicle traffic and no police were required or in evidence; 
  • The race included at least 3 aid stations (maybe four?), which marathoners encountered four times during the race.  These were kept open for the very last runner (which happened to be me); 
  • Everyone was happy, cheerful, helpful, and supportive, just as you would expect Canadians to be;
  • The half marathon was an out-and-back on the dike, while the full marathon was two of those.  That's fine with me when it means we don't compete with vehicle traffic.
  • The dike trail is about as flat as a race can get.
Possible improvement for next year (this was the first year for the marathon distance):  Charge a little more for the race and give finishers a medal.  After 26 miles we deserve one.  Actually, I have no complaint here - I got a medal for some reason, perhaps because I'm old, or the last finisher.  I'm happy.

I would do this marathon again in a heartbeat.

My Race:
  • The chilly weather was a concern, as the temperature at the start was about 28 degrees.  I wore running pants, though, and four layers above, so I was quite comfortable once underway.
  • As the temperature rose into the low 40's and the rising sun provided additional warmth, I shed one layer after another, ending up with just a long-sleeved technical shirt.
  • During the race I took five gels, six or seven salt tablets, and plenty of water.  I also needed quite a few nature breaks, which seems to be an issue in recent marathons.  I bet I spent 12 - 15 minutes in the porta-potties. The water may exacerbate that problem, but without it I would probably cramp up more.
  • Cramping in my calves is often a problem, but less so today - it appeared only in the last mile or so.  I did have a little pain in the middle of both knees, which I attribute to the chilly weather.  Further, my feet got a little sore on the bottom, probably caused by the crushed-gravel trail surface.  The worst problem, though, was a pain on the outside of the left knee, probably the ITB, caused by the constant slight slope of the trail.  It wasn't a stopper, and I can work on that - there are stretches that I should do. 
  • In the previous race I felt a pain in the right tibia, a little down from the knee and to the medial side.  I did see my sports doctor about this a few weeks ago, and he is convinced that the pain is not actually in the tibia but in a spot on the tibia where three ligaments meet.  It's not an uncommon problem, and he basically said that I can keep running without any specific treatment for as long as I can handle the pain.  This pain did not appear today.  Yay.
Splits in km: 7:49, 7:33, 8:14, 7:26, 7:49, 10:20 (natural break), 7:25, 7:48, 7:20, 10:45 (natural break), 17:03 (2 km), 7:14, 7:25, 7:27, 10:22 (natural break), 7:54, 7:23, 8:32, 7:38, 16:33 (2 km), 7:46, 8:24, 15:52 (2 km), 8:14, 7:56, 8:18, 7:52, 8:10, 18:03 (2 km & natural break), 7:51, 7:53, 8:03, 8:35, 8:44, 8:41, 8:38, 8:46, 8:55, total 5:46:44, overall pace 8:13 min/km.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Ottawa Fall Colours Marathon Review

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Oops - I wrote this on the plane trip back from Ottawa and then forgot to post it.  In fact, it's been so long since I posted anything that I've almost forgotten how.

This marathon lives up to its name.  We lucked out with the weather too, cool and sunny all day, so the trees were at their most spectacular.  I got a few cell-phone shots.

I finished my 84th marathon since the diagnosis of myeloma, in 5 hours, 54 minutes, and 37 seconds, about 12 minutes faster than my 83rd marathon, last week.  I was first in my age group, but also alone in my age group.  I figure that I beat all of the old guys who sat in their easy chairs watching football, eating chips, and drinking beer.  Actually I drank beer too, afterward, but I earned it the old fashioned way.

This was my first race in Canada, and I was here in support of Nelson Wiebe, an Edmonton college student who is running marathons this year in honor of his aunt, diagnosed with myeloma in 2010, to increase awareness of myeloma in Canada and to raise money for Myeloma Canada (  We had met the day before, in a photo shoot for the Ottawa Sun newspaper, and he passed me twice in the race, once in each direction, and also greeted me at the finish.

Sixteen marathons remain in the quest for 100 marathons with myeloma.  Also, this was my first province.  There are ten, plus three territories.  Hmmm.  Travel to and from Canada is not quite as easy as within the U.S., with all of the immigration and customs, but what if we tried to collect a few more provinces?

The Marathon:

I can't recommend this one highly enough.  It's a very small marathon, just 75 finishers this year, but the half marathon is larger, and the whole race is organized as well as any of the big ones.  It's simply a no-hassle event:

  • The fall color was simply exquisite.  Scrumptious.  I stopped several times to take cell-phone photos.
  • The time limit is 5 hours, but they provided a timed 1-hour early start for runners like me.
  • Even though I took the early start, aid stations were manned when I got there, and there were plenty of them.
  • Organization of the race was flawless.
Canadians are known to be polite (mostly true, it seemed) but I was also impressed at how friendly and caring they were in this race.  In the USA it's fairly common for runners meeting each other to give a little encouragement, but here it was the rule.  The race was out-and-back, so we met every other runner at least once, and there was always a nod, or thumbs up, or salute, or grin, or "Doin' great," "Keep it up," "Nice job."

My Race:

I ran a marathon in Portland just a week ago, and that caught up to me in two ways in this race: (1) I experienced a lot of cramping in the last miles (kilometers), and (2) after about halfway, I began to feel a pain in the upper right tibia, slightly toward the medial side and perhaps an inch and a half down from the knee joint.

Cramps are a recurring problem.  This time I brought a magnesium capsule, 125 mg, and took that when the cramps started to slow me down, but that didn't help.  I took plenty of salt - maybe too much?  I was thirsty some of the time, despite the cool weather and an abundance of aid stations, so maybe there is such a thing as too much salt.

The bone pain may be shin splints, or less likely, something more serious.  I do have a cancer that attacks bones.  Shin splints often show up when an athlete increases stress on the legs significantly in a short time - I think two marathons in a week might qualify.  I need to find out, so I will start with my sports doctor and go from there.

Except for those little problems, I had a lovely time out there, cool throughout, starting with three shirts and ending up with just one short-sleeved shirt.  The others I left in the car at the halfway point.

Normally I would put my splits here, but the Canadian race was measured in KM rather than miles, making it 42 KM, and I forgot that my watch would only log 30 splits, so it didn't retain the last 12 KM or so.  Maybe I need a new watch.  (See the next post.)

Monday, October 06, 2014

Portland Marathon Review

It is a good marathon.  We three ran it nine years ago, and were delighted to find that it catered to runners and walkers of any speed.  That has not changed.  The course itself may not be the most picturesque, but the organization definitely makes up for it.

My Race:

With another marathon just a week from now, and some recent hamstring injuries, I didn't want to push very hard today.  I used a run/walk ratio of one to five, running just 30 footfalls for each 150 walking.  In training that had given me a pace of 12:30 to 13:00, plenty fast enough to finish a marathon in six hours.  It worked well enough in the race too, and in fact I deliberately slowed  in the last miles, finishing my 83rd marathon in 6:06:20, 13th of 28 in my age group.  This was a warm race and I had no need to hurry.

Because of injuries over the summer, and a bout of pneumonia, I had not been able to do a genuine long run since our last marathon in May, so I was concerned about being able to finish at all - sometimes my calves cramp up in the last miles.  Not today, though.  I took plenty of water and salt, and this time I even brought some magnesium capsules along in case of cramps, though I didn't use them.  All is well - bring on the Ottawa Marathon!

Portland Marathon Good Stuff:

  • Finish times are long enough that a marathoner can stroll the 26 miles, same with the half.
  • There WERE enough porta-potties along the way, even after the marathon split from the half.  That's rare.
  • Even at my 6:06 finish, there was plenty of food left.
  • It's a big race - note 28 ancient guys in just my 70-74 age group - but everyone got off and running within 20 minutes of the start.
  • With one exception there were plenty of water stops, all well supplied with water, ultima, and volunteers.
  • I loved the music!  We have run several Rock N Roll marathons, and this marathon beat them all hollow.  I heard "Blue Moon," and "Happy Wanderer," music with an actual tune in addition to a beat, and not so over-amplified that I had to cover my tender old ears.  By far the best music of any of my 83 marathons.  Go Portland!
  • At the finish, everyone gets a long-stemmed rose to enjoy and a tree to plant.

Other Stuff:

  • My sweeties were disappointed that the organizers actually ran out of half-marathon finishers' shirts.  The shirts will be mailed, but how does that happen when the half marathon reached its registration limit months ago?  Oops.
  • There was plenty of water on the course, but this was a warm race, approaching 80 degrees, and none of the water was cold, nor was there any ice.  There were a few sprinklers for marathoners, but sprinklers mean wet feet, possibly blisters, so I avoid them.
  • More than nine miles of the marathon, and at least five miles of the half marathon are in industrial areas, mostly manufacturing plants, warehouses, and railroads.  This was almost the same course that we ran nine years ago, so it probably won't be changing any time soon, but it certainly doesn't show Portland at its best.  I wish we could see more downtown, more waterfront, even more residential areas.

But never mind my complaining, I had a good time and enjoyed the marathon.  Organization is great, with legions of cheerful volunteers, and I would recommend the Portland Marathon to anyone, especially a first-timer.

Splits: 26:44 (2 mi), 13:43, 13:03, 29:02 (major nature break, 2 mi), 12:29, 38:17 (3 mi), 16:35 (another nature break), 11:53, 13:12, 13:30, 13:15, 13:40, 15:57 (uphill), 14:54 (nature break), 13:18, 14:03, 14:09, 28:01 (2 mi), 30:38 (2 mi), 19:53 (1.22 mi), total 6:06:20, pace 13:58.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Short Long Run

I ran & walked 10 miles today, my longest run in quite a while and my "long run" for the next marathon, three weeks hence.

We ran on the Gateway Trail, where I have experienced two of my recent three hamstring injuries.  No injury today!  I would like to do a longer long run, but there isn't time.  From now until the marathon I will do shorter runs, hoping to avoid any more injuries.

I hope to finish in less than six hours, so here's my calculation: If I were to walk at a pace of 15 minutes per mile, that's four miles per hour, and in six hours I would get to mile 24.  But if I run one of those six hours at 10 minutes per mile, or 6 miles per hour, then after six hours I would be at mile 26.  That's exactly what I did today, except for only two hours and six minutes.  I walked for 50 triplets (3 paces), and then ran for 10.  The result was an average pace of 12:40, significantly quicker than the 13:44 needed to make six hours, which means that the walking was faster than expected, or the running, or both.  That's good - I'll probably slow down toward the end of the race.

I haven't posted here since August 24, mostly because there are big things happening in our lives right now, good things, but they take precedence over blogging.  We do keep running, though - in that time I have run 43 miles, not including today, and biked a bunch more.

Splits: 12:22, 13:00, 12:27, 12:20, 12:24, 24:37 (2 mi), 13:15, 13:36, 12:43, total 2:06:43, pace 12:40

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Three Miles Running

Walking and running, that is.  Again we went out early, to avoid the muggy heat.  I did my 1 to 3 run / walk, this time 3.17 miles on the paved trails, in 40:11, for a pace of 12:41.  That's slightly slower than two days ago, but still plenty fast enough to finish a marathon in six hours even with nature breaks.

No complaint from the injured right hamstrings today, or from anywhere else for that matter.  No whining!

So the plan now is to run every other day, doing an easy 1 to 3 run/walk like this, but gradually increasing the distance.  On the alternate days, or many of them, a nice bike ride will provide the cardio exercise that I need.  Nearly every day, I will also do a set of hamstring stretches and resistance exercises designed to increase strength and resilience.  That's the plan.

Saturday, August 23, 2014


Friday, August 22, 2014:

I did a 1 to 3 run/walk today, just 2.07 miles like Wednesday.  This time the right hamstrings ached just a little for the first minute or two, then went silent, cooperating fully.  That's a good thing!

2.07 miles in 25:48, pace 12:28, equivalent to a 5:27 marathon if sustained.  Considering nature breaks and maybe a chat with a spectator or two, this would be a good pace for finishing a marathon in six hours.

I saw the sports doctor today, to discuss the recent frequent hamstring injuries.  He thought that the Levaquin was still a possible contributor to the problem, but in any case he really couldn't diagnose the cause.  Instead, he suggested a path forward, knowing that we do have a marathon scheduled in six weeks.  He gave me a schedule for regular stretches and hamstring strengthening exercises, and I will follow that plan.

Stretches and exercises most every day, with running or biking on alternate days, the running graduating slowly to longer and longer distances.  I hope that plan works - I was going to do the alternating bike / run anyway, but the stretching and strengthening may make the difference.

In other doctor news - yesterday morning the Mayo Clinic pronounced my cancer stable again, and in the afternoon my local primary care provider, after a chest x-ray, reported that my latest pneumonia was entirely gone.  Yay!

Wednesday, August 20:

We got up earlier than usual and I got the day started with a cool bike ride.  That felt great.  7.06 miles in 32:20, for a pace of 4.58 min/mi, or 13.1 mph.  This route is somewhat hilly - I think I could go quite a lot farther on the bike if I rode a little slower, say 12 mph, on a flatter road or trail.

Tuesday, August 19:

First run since the Aug 14 right-hamstring injury.  I did a short 2.07-mile run/walk, with a 1 to 3 ratio, trying not to annoy that hamstring.  It did ache a little, and it ached even a little more later in the day.  I probably should have stopped when the ache was apparent, but anyway I don't think I set it back much.  I'll skip another day (ride bike instead) before trying again.

I didn't time the run, but I suppose it was about 13 minutes/mile.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Not Running Yet

I rode the bike a little easier today, for 7.35 miles in under 40 minutes.  I timed one loop at 4.73 min/mi, or about 12.7 mph.  Two days ago I thought that pace was "fairly hard," but today it didn't seem hard.  I guess my bike muscles are becoming conditioned, or I'm learning how to use the gears to better advantage.

I'd rather be running.  Maybe I'll try it tomorrow.  Short, slow, easy.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Still Riding the Bike

I ran just a few steps this morning, enough to assure myself that the right hamstrings still hurt and I shouldn't try a real run.  Back on the bike.  I do like the bike; it certainly helps with cardiopulmonary training even if it doesn't really do much for running muscles.

I rode exactly the same route as yesterday, two 3.53-mile figure-8's, once in each direction, splits of 16:01 lap 1, 16:09 lap 2, for a total of 7.06 miles in 32:10, pace 4.56 min/mi, or 13.2 mph.  That's slightly faster than yesterday, but I felt a little more tired at the end.  I did a lot of yard work yesterday too, so maybe I should feel a little tired.

Except for the right hamstrings, it's a masterpiece.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Bike Again

The pulled right hamstring feels much better today - in fact, oddly, it felt better yesterday after I used the walk-behind mower for an hour and a half, and it's better still today.  It's not good enough to run on yet, though, so I rode a fairly-hard 7 miles on the park's paved trails.  That is really quite enjoyable - I want to keep running, but bike riding certainly is an acceptable alternative when running fails.

Today I rode a 3.53-mile figure-8 route twice, once in each direction, for 7.06 miles in 33:20, pace 4.72 min/mi, or 12.7 mph.  This was hard work but thoroughly enjoyable, and I could have kept going.  Splits: 16:48 lap 1, 16:32 lap 2.  After finishing I did keep riding to fill out the 40 minutes that my sweeties and I had agreed upon.

Except for the hamstring, it's a masterpiece!

Crap Crap Crap

Thursday, August 14

I don't like to cuss in my blog, but I'm thinking some very blue lines.  I went on the flat Gateway Trail this morning, doing an easy 1 to 2 run/walk, and got stopped just beyond mile 3. Another new injury, this time in the right hamstring, feeling like an injury that I fought many years ago, one that kept recurring.  I hope it's not the same one.  Today it hurt when I was running, but not walking, so maybe it will go away in a week or so, as the last two similar injuries have done.  I did turn around right away when the problem occurred, hopefully avoiding further injury.

That's three thigh injuries in less than a month, all in different places.  I have never had an injury severe enough to make me to drop out of a marathon (DNF = did not finish), but any of those injuries would have stopped me if they occurred in a marathon.  Today's happened after barely 3 miles, while running an easy marathon pace.  Am I just pushing too hard?  Maybe so.  I've been trying to keep the mileage to no more than 30 miles in any 7 days, and maybe that's too much.  Also, I've been running nearly every day, mostly because I like it, but running day after day doesn't allow much time for this ancient body to recover from tiny injuries and stresses.

The new plan: No more than 20 miles in any seven days, no hard running for a while, and no more than five days of running per week, preferably four.  Meantime, until I can run on this injury, I'm back on the bike.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Magnificent Run

Oh, I wish they could all be this good.  Perfect weather, I felt strong and invincible.  Five miles, no pains, no problems.  This time I ran on my favorite grass trails, rough and hilly.  I tried for a run/walk ratio of 1 to 2, but found myself running a little more than that, often charging up a hill when I could have walked, and running down the easy slopes too, but also occasionally walking down a steep slope when it was  time to run.  4.99 mi in 1:01:15, pace 12:16.

I think the pneumonia is almost gone, but not quite.  I have a pulse oximeter, which measures heart rate and blood oxygen saturation.  Prior to the pneumonia the oximeter would regularly show 98 or 99% blood oxygen, but now it regularly shows 96 or 97%.  That's up considerably from two weeks ago, but I probably won't be convinced that the pneumonia is completely gone until I regularly see 98 and 99% again.

Meantime I'll keep running - I doubt that the running interferes with that recovery.  I hope.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Post Number 1001

Imagine that - 1001 log entries.

I felt more like myself today, getting past the pneumonia, I think, and this morning I felt more normal than I have for a couple of weeks.

Nevertheless I still have the hamstring injury to deal with, so I did a fairly easy 1 to 2 run/walk on the paved trails, watching carefully for any signs of the injury, especially during the walk, which is where the original injury appeared.  I felt something in that thigh in the first two minutes, but it went away and the rest of the run was trouble-free.

The 3.53 miles were finished in 43:06, for a pace of 12:13.  No whining.  Ramping up now, probably 5 miles tomorrow.

First Run Since Injury

Monday, August 11, 2014:

I haven't tried to run for five days, since I injured the left hamstring.  Today I did a short run, just 2.07 miles, with no pain at all.  Yay!  Maybe I should have tried yesterday.  I did mostly a 2 to 3 run/walk, finishing in 25:13, for a pace of 12:07.  Not fast, but I'm still fighting the last of the pneumonia and I didn't try to walk fast - the hamstring injury appeared during walking, not running.

Now the trick is to ramp up the distance, stopping immediately if the hamstring just begins to hurt again.  I have a marathon in four weeks, and I couldn't possibly run it with the hamstring injury, so I have to ramp up to a pretty long run before we actually go, not only as training but to show myself that I can probably finish a marathon.

Saturday, August 09, 2014

Back On the Bike

Saturday, August 9, 2014:

Because of the hamstring injury last Wednesday, I'm riding the bike again for a while.  Today I rode the largest loop around the park that I could on the grass trails.  That may have been a mistake - I'm still recovering from pneumonia, and there is no way to "take it easy" on this hilly trail.  Either I walk my bike up the hills or ride it, and I don't like to walk it so mostly I rode it, and that takes energy regardless how fast or slow I try to go.  Also, today, I had to do an emergency stop at the bottom of a long, steep hill where sand made the bike uncontrollable, and I whacked my left shin on the pedal, raising two welts.

Oh whine, whine.  Truth is, it was a fun ride and I'm glad I did it.  At the tops of the hills, this particular trail offers spectacular views of the park itself and some of the surrounding area.  I won't do it again, though, until I feel fully recovered from the pneumonia, because it required a lot of hard breathing.  Also, next time I do this trail, I'll go the other way and walk my bike up the long, steep hill rather than try to navigate down through the sand.  6.7 miles (estimate) in about 60 minutes, pace 9 min/mi, or 6.7 mph.

Friday, Aug 8:

Bike: Two figure-8's on the paved trails, plus a conversation with Luke P.  One figure-8 included the Klondike extension, total distance 6.7 mi.  I tried to ride easier today, hence the paved trails only.  Time 41:43, speed 6.22 min/mi, or 9.6 mph.  Chat w Luke may have been 5 min, and I didn't stop the watch.

Thursday, Aug 7:

Bike: Figure-8 on the paved trails, plus the 3-mile grass-trail loop, total 6.5 miles in about 45:09, speed 6.95 min/mile, or 8.6 mph.  I go much faster on the paved trails!  I still have pneumonia, may have done a little too much today.  We'll see.

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

Another Injury

I  hadn't done any running since the onset of the pneumonia, only walking, so today the idea was to run/walk at a slow pace, equivalent to the pace of a 6-hour marathon, a ratio of one to three.  That worked great, for about a mile and a half of the three-mile loop.

Then I began to feel a sharp pain in a muscle or tendon in the left hamstrings, about halfway down to the knee, toward the medial side, fairly deep within the muscle mass.  It seems to be a small muscle or tendon, not a large one.  The pain occurred during the walk portion of the run/walk, not the run portion, and seemed to be worst just as the extended left foot was about to touch down, before weight was applied.

So what caused it?

  1. Lawn mowing.  A month or so ago I injured an adductor muscle or tendon in very much this same way.  That injury occurred the day after some difficult lawn mowing on our very-sloped outlot.  Guess what - I mowed that very same outlot yesterday.

  2. Levaquin.  I'm still taking the last of the antibiotic that is supposed to cure a bacterial pneumonia, even though we don't really know if the pneumonia is bacterial.  Unfortunately Levaquin has a reputation for damaging ligaments and tendons, especially the Achilles tendon, but others as well.  In any case the cure is to stop the Levaquin.  I have only one pill remaining, but I think I won't take it, judging that the risk of tendon injury now seems greater than the possible marginal benefit of one last treatment of the possible (but unlikely) bacterial pneumonia.

  3. Both 1. and 2. above.
Anyway the treatment for the muscle/tendon pull is to wait until I can run and walk without pain, then ramp up the distance every day, stopping for the day if any pain appears.  Meantime, the bike is still on the back of the car, ready to go.  I wonder if I can ride without pain.

Split: 2.24 mi, 28:25, pace 12:41, for the portion of the run up to and a little beyond the start of the pain.  That's pretty good for a 1 to 3 run/walk, and on the grass trails to boot.

First "Runs" Since Pneumonia

Sunday, August 3, 2014:

Walk, not run, and the pneumonia is still with me.  Yesterday I strolled in the park for about 35 minutes, and today I walked 1.73 miles fairly fast, finishing in 29:36, for a pace of 17:07.  Actually I thought I was going faster, but this seemed fast enough and did result in some sweat and somewhat-elevated breathing.

Making daily progress against the pneumonia.  Modest exercise is good. If weather permits, tomorrow is a lawn-mowing day.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Feeling a Little Better

Some of the numbers are a little better.  I'm going to post any additional info on the pneumonia on the myeloma blog:

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Pneumonia Again

July 30, 2014

CRAP! Pneumonia certainly puts a crimp in marathon training. I have a marathon coming up in early september, with a good plan for ramping up carefully to a 20-mile long run three weeks ahead. That's what you do. Setting aside the obvious life-threatening aspect of pneumonia, however, at the very least it puts a big crimp in the training plan.

I've had pneumonia five times in my life now; three times it was viral, once bacterial (last February), and now as-yet undetermined. In February the high-power IV antibiotics took effect within a day, and got me out of the hospital in two days. This time I've been in and out for two days already, and there is little evidence of improvement. I still have a little fever, low pulse oxygen level, a high pulse rate, and a high respiration rate. If it's viral instead of bacterial, previous experience suggests that the resolution will take weeks instead of days. Grrrr.

Maybe I should just stop whining and be glad I'm still alive. Eventually I will be running again, but that's not the top priority.

I'll know more in the morning. Perhaps the pneumonia will take a sudden turn for the better, or the doctors will try something different.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Runner's World Cover Contest

I have entered a contest by Runner's World Magazine to determine who will be on their December cover. I hope you will click HERE and vote for me. You can vote every day, and that would be marvelous. The contest goes until mid-August.

You can help even more by spreading the word on your own facebook or twitter page - let's make it viral! Be sure to include the magic hashtag #RWCoverContest.


Don W

Running Again

Thursday, July 24, 2014:

The adductor injury was a week ago.  I took it pretty easy on that muscle, with one nice bike ride and no running in the six days following the injury, then running about three miles yesterday without pain.  Today I ran a solid four miles on the hilly grass trails in the park, again without pain.  It's getting better, but experience tells me that it couldn't be completely healed yet - a pulled muscle or tendon just doesn't heal in a week for a 73-year-old man.  I'll keep ramping up the distance, five miles tomorrow, but I'll be prepared to drop to a walk immediately if I feel pain.

Adductor muscles are intended to help with sideways motion - they pull the legs sideways, inward, toward each other.  In the past, I've injured an adductor by running on indoor tracks, which can have many, many turns, all in the same direction.   I've been thinking about how an adductor muscle can be stressed in straight-ahead

With kids in the house, kitty takes to
the stairs to avoid being underfoot.
running, because this injury happened on the Gateway Trail, which is on an abandoned railway - quite straight and reasonably flat too.

I suspect that I may have stressed the adductor while mowing the lawn the day before the injury.  One part of our lawn is steeply banked, and I do mow it from side to side, walking one foot up and the other down, because that is safer than mowing up and down the hill.  Maybe I pulled that adductor muscle a little bit and didn't notice it then.  Anyway it's getting better, and I'll be more aware of the issue next time I mow.

Today's run was 4.03 miles in 48:48, for a pace of 12:07.  I definitely could have gone faster, but held it back out of respect for the adductor.  Same tomorrow, only farther.  I hope it doesn't rain tonight - I do like the grass (and dirt) trails, but when they are muddy I choose the paved trails.

Wednesday, July 23:

First run since injury.   I'll start short and increase the running distance gradually, a mile or two every day, while recovering from the adductor injury.  From past experience, the trick is to stop running immediately if any pain shows up.  Today I did about a four to five run/walk most of the time, and no pain appeared.  Longer run tomorrow.

Tuesday, July 22:

My 55th high-school reunion was yesterday and today (yes, on a Monday and a Tuesday - after retirement all the days are the same, so we choose weekdays to get venues that are in demand on weekends).  I couldn't make it Monday, because of a Mayo Clinic appointment, but Tuesday was fine.  We three all went, and had a nice time, including a 3.4-mile hike, a long boat ride, and an outdoor picnic, all with my high school classmates.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Adductor Injury

Sunday, July 20, 2014:

Since the adductor injury still hurts, I cross-trained on the bicycle today, going about 6.5 miles in about 45 minutes, using both the paved and the grass trails.  I must admit that was fun. If I ever reach a point where I can no longer run, I sure hope that I can still ride a bike.  These hilly trails provide a wonderful mix of hard-work uphills, level pedaling, and refreshing downhills.  The rutty "grass" trails are actually grass, dirt, and gravel, so the ride is a bit rough, but that adds to the charm.  I hope my old $160 Target bike holds up.

Anyway the bike riding may not last for very many days.  I'll be running again as soon as the adductor injury heals sufficiently.

Thursday, July 17:

Adductor Injury   Adductors are the muscles that pull the legs together.  They don't move the legs forward and backward, so I have no idea how they get involved in running forward, but they do - I've had trouble with adductors before.  This time it's a small muscle high and deep within the left thigh.

I ran about six of the intended 14 miles, doing my usual 1 to 1 run/walk, feeling an ache in the inner side of that left thigh during the last mile or so.  Then the ache disappeared entirely, and I thought I was home free, but a minute or two later the ache became the sharper pain of an actual injury.  It even hurt a little to walk, so I strolled slowly back to the car, about three miles away.

Looking at previous log entries (see, this is why a log is good), in the past I have dealt with ths injury by gradually ramping up the length of my runs, each time stopping just when the adductor starts to complain.  The last time, in January of 2012, it took just a few days to start running, and I ran six miles a week later.  So that's a plan.

11:30, 11:32, 11:04, 10:52, 11:13, 11:40, 13:53, 20:11, 15:03, total 1:57:00, about 9 miles.

Wednesday, July 16:

After five miles with no walking yesterday, and with a planned 14-mile run/walk tomorrow, this was an easy day, just a nice little 3-mile romp through the grass trails.  Lovely weather - cool, sunny, very little wind.

Time 37:12, distance 3.01 miles, pace 12:22.  No whining to speak of.

I took a good look at the "post hole" that I stepped into 11 days ago - it does look like a post hole.  It's only about two inches deep, but of course that's more than enough to cause an injury.  It could actually be a post hole that someone tried to fill with dirt, and that dirt has compressed somewhat.

Tuesday, July 15:

Five miles, no walking    I haven't done that for a while!  I'm trying to extend my long run by a couple of miles every week, while also extending my no-walk distance a mile or so every week.  Next week I'll try to run a 10k with no walking.  I'm due for a 14-mile run/walk long run yet this week.

5.03 miles in 49:02, for a pace of 9:45.  At that pace I should easily be able to finish a 5k race in 30 minutes.  Maybe I should sign up for one and see.

Indeed this was a race pace for me, as judged by the breathing.  I know from experience that when I take a breath every four footfalls, I'm running a sustainable, long-term pace.  For the last half of this run, however, I was breathing once every three footfalls, a race pace for me.  I was able to charge the last hill, and enjoyed that, but I won't claim that I finished with much energy left over.

Whining:  None!  Nothing hurts.  It's possible that the strange tibia pain will bother me tonight, we'll see.

Monday, July 14, 2014

We Miss Caroline Shallman

After a courageous three year battle with ovarian cancer, our sweet daughter-in-law Caroline died Saturday evening, July 12, 2014.  Here is a link to her husband David's heartfelt goodbye message on CaringBridge:

Information about the memorial service is listed here:

Here is her obituary in the Minneapolis paper:

Tibia Trouble?

Monday July 14, 2014:

Probably not.  I ran a shorter route than usual today, running fairly easy, and felt no pain in the tibia that has been hurting in bed for two nights.  Whatever that pain is (or was), it's apparently not aggravated by easy running.  Time will tell whether it will be a problem.

Distance: 3.17 miles, time 35:58, pace 11:21, not as slow as I meant to go.  I was especially careful on the downhills, but did push a little bit on a few uphills.  What a wonderful morning for running - 62 degrees with a brisk wind, and sunshine alternating with quick little warm showers that didn't appear to come from any cloud that was currently overhead.  Just fun!  It's a masterpiece.

Saturday, July 12:

A little pressed for time this morning, I started with the St Croix Valley Runners but ran my own route, 3.82 miles, in about 41 minutes (I forgot to start my watch).  I tried to go a bit faster than usual, doing a 3 to 2 run/walk rather than 1 to 1.  Unfortunately, I also ran down a couple of steep hills, instead of walking, and may have hurt my right tibia.  It didn't bother at the time, but kept me awake Saturday night and even a little on Sunday night.

The pain is not in the kneecap, hence not PFS, but close to the knee on the medial side of the top of the tibia (I think).  It may not actually be in the bone, but in a nerve or some connecting tissue.  I've felt this pain before, in about the same place, and it has gone away, so hopefully it will go away this time too.

Interesting - I had a conversation with a good friend Sunday in which I averred that running was good for my bones, not bad for them.  Hmm ...

If the time was 41 minutes, then the pace was about 10:44.  That sounds about right.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

12-Mile Run

Thursday, July 10, 2014:

And all is well.  We drove to the Gateway Trail early this morning for a shady and fairly flat run. The Gateway is an old railway right of way, now actually two parallel trails, one wide and paved, the other wider still but mostly grass and gravel.  The first is used by runners, bikers, skaters, and walkers, the second is for horses but is also used by runners who eschew the hard pavement.  Both trails were busy but not really crowded today.

My run was mostly on the paved trails, though I did take the gravel a few times when it looked attractive.  The feet like it.  I carried water, taking some whenever I felt the need, and I also took three Clif Shot gels along the way.

Splits: 11:22, 11:08, 10:55, 11:00, 11:26, 11:04, 10:56, 10:45, 10:40, 10:41, 11:43, 11:03, total 2:12:45, pace 11:04.  If I could do 11:04 for 26.22 miles, that would be a 4:50 marathon.  Wouldn't that be nice!  I did feel strong all through to the end, even charging up the last hill (a bridge) because it felt good.

The sprained right foot with the Lisfranc injury is fine.  No whining!  It's a masterpiece.  14 miles next week if all is well.

Wednesday, July 9:

I ran the same figure-8 route as yesterday, except backward, finishing the 3.53 miles in 38:07, eleven seconds slower than yesterday, for a pace of 10:48.  I'll take it!  I felt very strong at the end.

The sprained right foot didn't bother at all, and although it is still a little sore when I press on the stressed joint, there no longer any visible swelling or inflammation.  No whining!  I'm good to go for a longer run tomorrow, possibly 12 miles on the Gateway Trail, working toward a 20-mile run before our next marathon.

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Foot Is Better

The injury in my right foot is visibly less inflamed than yesterday.  Pressing on it, the pain seems to be located in the fourth tarsometatarsal joint, between the fourth metatarsal bone and the cuboid bone.  I was wrong in yesterday's post - this is in fact one of the Lisfranc joints, of significance to me because I previously injured these joints on the other foot several years ago.  That injury was worse, involving more than one joint (there are five, one for each toe), but it
healed completely.  Unless this is actually a cracked bone I expect it to heal promptly, and while healing I am apparently able to run on it with minimal pain and probably without interfering with the healing.

Today's route was almost the same as yesterday's, just a little longer.  3.53 miles in 37:56, for a pace of 10:45.  I felt much more ambitious than yesterday, and the pace shows that.  It's a masterpiece.

Monday, July 07, 2014

Injury Scare

Sunday I awoke with a painful right foot, some swelling, and some redness, with the injury located in a joint between bones leading to the fourth toe, or in the bone itself.  This is forward of the Lisfranc joints.  Although I didn't feel any problem at all during Saturday's 10 miles of running, or afterward that day, the problem certainly arose during those runs.   Two possibilities:

  • An overuse injury, caused simply by too much running; or
  • An injury from a slight twist of my foot as I stepped into the post-hole-shaped hazard that I blogged about yesterday.

I certainly prefer the second choice, because I don't want to cut back on weekly mileage.

Don't you love fresh-fruit season?
Sunday (yesterday) I didn't run and didn't even walk any more than necessary for daily living in the house.  Sunday night I wore a wool sock to bed on that foot, because I believe that warmth promotes healing, especially in extremities which may otherwise function at lower temperatures than the body core.

Good news today!  The swelling and discoloration were less this morning, so the girls and I went out for a 40-minute run, and I went 3.19 miles with very little pain.  I can make it hurt by stepping on it wrong, but it seems almost fine doing straight-ahead running and walking on a flat paved trail.  This suggests to me that the injury is not from overuse, because that would likely affect body parts that are necessary for walking or running.

Therefore the injury was probably caused by the post-hole hazard.  It still could be a broken bone, but I don't think that would have improved so much overnight.  I'll continue to keep it warm and take great care when running on it, no grass trails for a while, and hopefully it will heal quickly.  Yesterday I had visions of my foot in a cast, but now I'm sure that won't happen.

The time for today's short run was 38:50, pace 12:10.  No hurry today.  It's sort of a masterpiece, close enough!

Saturday, July 05, 2014

July Fourth Runs

Saturday, July 5, 2014:

The St Croix Valley Runners meet every Saturday morning at the Brown's Creek Park on Neal in Stillwater. 7:00 am sharp, don't be late

I ran with Charley for the first mile or so, and then we split up because I wanted to run a 3.82-mile route, while he was running shorter.  For that first mile I ran continuously, but then, considering yesterday's high-intensity run, I dropped to my more-usual 1 to 1 run/walk.  Three of the five-milers passed me as I ran, but most finished after I did.  Finish time 43:29, pace 11:23.  I would have thought faster, because of that first mile, but it's OK.

No whining.

After the nice run with the St Croix Valley Runners, I picked up the girls and we went to the park for more running.  I took a 6.05-mile route and did my normal 1 to 1 run/walk, finishing in 1:10:49, for a pace of 11:42, not bad at all for miles four through ten on the day.

This was such a perfect day for anything but running, temperature in the high 70's, bright sun, stiff breeze, it felt very good just to be outdoors.  Plenty warm for running, but now that summer is here I am handling the heat better and felt like charging some of the hills and running continuously down some of the easy slopes.  That happens - the body accommodates after a few weeks.  This was a very enjoyable run.

Oatmeal breakfast, Fourth of July
motif, but not yet fully assembled.

Whining: (1) The right-knee PFS mumbled a little but didn't slow me down;  (2) There is a hole in the trail, deep and several inches in diameter, like an empty post hole, hard to see under the grass.  I've accidentally stepped on it / in it twice now without injury, but I was just lucky, so I'm going to have to etch it into my brain and remember in for any future trips down that trail.  Maybe I should bring a shovel and fill it in myself.  I wonder how fast I could run carrying a shovel.

Friday, July 4:

I felt like pushing today.  For the first three and a half miles of a four-mile run I ran continuously, with no walking except down a couple of steep slopes.  Then I realized that I was hot, quite tired, and not having fun, so I slowed to a 3/2 run/walk for the last half mile.  I lost track of the finish time while putting a new band on my old Timex, but I think it was about 41 minutes.  If so, the pace was about 10:15.  My July 4 "race."

No whining.  It's a masterpiece.
Same breakfast with more colors
added.  I love nectarine season.

Thursday, July 3:

Warm Five Miles   After an easy run yesterday, I ran a little farther and faster today, 5.16 miles in 1:02:40, for a pace of 12:09.  That's an acceptable pace for the grass trails in 77 degrees.

Nice run.  I saw a pheasant scuttling into a fence row, and two turtles, one laying her eggs and the other apparently looking for the perfect place.    I suppose they like the sandy dirt of the trails.  Usually I see deer, and always some great white egrets.  This trail goes right past a cornfield, too, and despite all the rain, the corn is indeed knee-high by the Fourth of July.

No whining.

Wednesday, July 2:

Cool, breezy, cloudy morning.  Because I ran ten miles yesterday, I wanted to run short and slow today.  I took the shortest grass-trail loop, 3.01 miles, and did a slower run/walk than usual, finishing in 38:18, for a pace of 12:49.

This was a lovely run, very enjoyable, in perfect running weather.  No whining.

Tuesday, July 01, 2014

Magnificent Ten-Mile Run

Typical wet spot in the trail
They don't get much better.  Temperature  68, wind 17-22, mostly cloudy but with occasional blue skies, spotty light showers, but, happily, no thunder.  Fun, enervating weather.  I ran (1 to 1 run/walk) 10.0 miles in 2:01:34, pace 12:09.  That's a good pace for the grass trails in their current condition.  I felt strong throughout, and ran the last mile a little faster than the first nine.

The first hour took me past at least a half dozen wet spots in the trail, one large and deep enough to host a great white egret, a shy bird that immediately said a graceful goodbye as soon as we saw each other.  Otherwise, for that hour, the grass was free of dew and no rain fell.  In the second hour, though, a few spritzes of rain felt good but got the grass wet, and thus my shoes.  Not really a problem. The second hour included a few additional wet spots but all were easily bypassed.
Native summer flowers. I love these trails!

I carried water and drank some every 20 minutes or so, and I took two Clif Shot gels along the way.

Whining: The right knee's PFS niggled a little from time to time, and actually brought me up short and
in pain one time after a long downhill run.  It felt as though my knee might bend backward, but that resolved quickly and didn't return.  The knee didn't really slow me down.  I'm sure now, though, that the Nike Wildhorse trail shoes don't protect me from the PFS.  I doubt any shoe would.  I have to do my therapy exercises to fix that problem.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Short Recovery Run

Short and slow is what I intended, after a tiring day yesterday, but I felt pretty good so I went a little faster.  Doing the usual 1 to 1 run/walk on the paved trails (we got another inch of rain last night, so the grass trails were not inviting), I finished 3.19 miles in 35:25, for a pace of 11:06, not bad.

Leg muscles still felt tired from yesterday's runs and subsequent lawn mowing work, so I pushed a little harder than usual up many of the hills, trying to coax those tired muscles to get stronger.  It felt good to do that.  It's a masterpiece.

Whining:  None at all.  Nada.  100.9 miles for the month so far.  Maybe more tomorrow, the last day of June.

Two Warm Runs

Saturday, June 28, 2014:

St Croix Valley Runners:  I can't really keep up with the group on their 5-mile run yet, so today I took a shortcut that put me ahead of them.  Randy came by first, and then another runner that I haven't met yet, then new Jim and the Norwegian.  That was fun.

I finished 3.82 miles in 42:07, for a pace of 11:01.  Good enough.  This is a humid morning, with a temp of 72 and a dewpoint of 70

Breakfast after the runs.  Oatmeal and
blueberries beneath.  The only items NOT
organic are the kiwi, mango, and banana.
County Park:  After running with the St Croix Valley Runners we came home, changed shoes, and went back out to run on the grass trails in the park.  I ran 6.08 miles, for a total of 10:00 on the day.  Time for this run was 1:14:04, for a pace of 12:11.  I thought I was going faster, actually, but my legs did feel tired, especially toward the end.  Excuses:  (1) a strenuous run yesterday; (2) more miles than usual today (almost 10); (3) I took water between the runs today but didn't take any with me on the six-mile run, so I may have been a bit dehydrated; and (4) the air was warm and humid, 77 with a dewpoint of 72.  Nice day to nap in a hammock but I never do that - I'd rather run.

Whining:  I did feel a slight warning the right-knee PFS, so now I'm thinking that the Nike Wildhorse trail shoes don't protect me from that problem any more than my usual Brooks Launch shoes do, but the PFS never became a real issue in this run.

Friday, June 27, 2014

No Walking - Almost

I'd like to be able to run without walking at all, as I did when I was younger, say 65 instead of 73.  Somehow I lost that ability while I was nursing my hernia or my right-knee PFS, or when I was taking dexamethasone for the myeloma.  Anyway I want it back!  So today I ran the 3.53-mile loop (figure 8 actually), and got within a half mile of the finish before I overheated and had to take a few 20-second walk breaks.  The temperature was 77 with sun and very high humidity.

Age group award just received from
the Nashville Country Music Marathon
I finished in a time of 33:51 (seemed longer!) for a pace of 9:35.  Honestly I thought I was running pretty slowly, so this is better than expected.
Breathing indicated a race pace for most of the way, though, so it was probably about as good as I could do in that weather.  Train more at this pace, lose ten or fifteen pounds, I can do better.

No whining. It's a masterpiece. West loop pace 9:51, east loop pace 9:24 despite the three little walks.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Trail Shoes

I tried the grass trails around Eagle Lake today, and found them surprisingly dry.  Distance 3.73 miles, time 41:41, pace 11:11.  Really?  That's actually a pretty good pace for grass trails, even though the running wasn't all that great, with the thermometer at 77 degrees and bright sun.  A breeze did help.  Today's trail had very few water obstacles, and in fact my shoes came back cleaner than they were when I started.

I've been using old pairs of my regular Brooks Launch shoes for trail running, and they seem to work fine.  However, last August I bought a pair of Nike Zoom Terra Wildhorse trail shoes (where DO they get the names?) and haven't really tested them, so I tried them two days ago and again today.  They seem to work fine - feel very good - lighter than the Launch by one little ounce per pair.  I'll be looking for problems with the right-knee PFS, or for freedom from that problem.

Anyway I don't find that exact model for sale at Nike now, so maybe it doesn't matter.  I don't like to use shoes that I can't replace.  I was quite disappointed when Brooks discontinued the Launch, and heartened when they brought the Launch back to life.

Road closed to ALL traffic
St Croix River. Stillwater, MN

No whining today.  No PFS, no phony DVT, nothing.  It's a good day.  In fact, I had my regular myeloma checkup this morning (before the run) and the myeloma is still stable.  Yay!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014:

More rain last night.  Oh, please stop!  Anyway we used the paved trails again, though I would always prefer the grass trails.  The weather cooperated this time, however, a windy 57 degrees with cloudy skies.  Nice.  I wore a long-sleeved shirt and was glad for it.

4.95 miles in 55:00 for a pace of 11:07.  No pains.  In particular, yesterday's fake DVT that took me to the ER was gone completely, no trace left. Yesterday I could easily find the exact spot with my fingers (ouch), and today there was no spot.  Go figger.  I'm a little embarrassed that I went in, but only a little.

No whining at all today.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Not a DVT

June 24, 2014:

That's the bottom line.  After a nice if somewhat soggy run on the park's grass trails, I went to the ER in Stillwater to check on a rather localized pain in the center of my right calf.  At first I thought it was just a little cramp in one small muscle, but it persisted, on and off through the run and afterward, so I took it to the ER.  The ultrasound was negative, and the ER doc said that he would expect swelling and maybe redness if it were a DVT.  We still don't know what it is, though, and it's still there, so I'm still paying attention.

The run was just lovely, with a perfect temperature and bright sun.  Trails were wet where they are never wet, though.  In one usually dry place, ducks were swimming right in the middle of the trail.  My cold is back, this time in my throat instead of my head, so I took it easy.  Further, I had to tiptoe past a few water hazards, so my time for the 3-mile run was 40:00 minutes, for a pace of 13:17.  Uff-da, not good!  I had fun though.  No whining except for the strange calf pain.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Two Runs Today

St Croix Valley Runners

The first day of summer, such a beautiful day.  We three drove to Stillwater to run with the St Croix Valley Runners for the first time this year.  I can't keep up with most of them any more, but Charlie was there, and Jim is recovering from an injury, so we three ran a short 2.4-mile route at a very modest pace.  I ran the whole way, though, no walking, so it wasn't so modest for me.  I didn't click my watch at the finish, but I think it was about 27 minutes, so the pace would be about 11:15.

No whining.

Gateway Trail

After a some grocery shopping in Stillwater and a quick stop at home we went right out again, this time to the Gateway Trail, parking at the Hwy 96 bridge.  The girls ran for about 40 minutes, and I ran six miles (according to the Gateway Trail mileposts) in 1:06:30, for a pace of 11:05, doing my 1 to 1 run/walk.

That's 8.4 miles on the day, and I felt good all the way through.  That trail is such a delight - most of it is shaded, so even with the temperature in the low 70's I didn't feel overheated.  I wish it were closer to where we live.  We saw lots of people using it today, mostly on bicycles but some on skates or running shoes.

Splits: 11:07, 11:22, 10:41, 10:59, 11:23, 10:56, total 1:06:30, pace 11:05.  No whining.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Too Hot

81 degrees with a dewpoint of 69 does not make comfortable running.  The bright sun made it even warmer, and the modest breeze didn't quite compensate for that.

Oh complain.  I had a good run anyway, doing a 1 to 1 walk/run, 5.26 miles in 58:41, for a pace of 11:10.  I had energy left to speed up in the last few hundred yards, but if I had gone much farther at any speed I would have needed water - my shorts and shirt were soaked through.

No whining, though.  Knees, hips, muscles all felt good.  It's a masterpiece.

First loop pace 11:23, second loop 11:07, third 11:03, average 11:10 for 5.26 miles.  Not bad considering.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Short, Warm Run

Breakfast.  Photo taken as a test of new
LED lighting over the kitchen counter.
Oatmeal beneath mostly-organic fruit.
We got out between the thunderstorms for a 40-minute run on the park's paved trails.  We poured 2.1 inches of rain out of the gauge again today, less than 24 hours' collection.  I haven't kept a log, but we have seen an unusual amount of rain here, and according to news reports, several Minnesota rivers are already flooding well beyond any previous records.

Happily for us, our house is  high and dry.  Some short pieces of the park's paved trails were still underwater this afternoon though.  Needless to say, we didn't even look at the grass (mud) trails.

I ran 3.53 miles in 39:12, pace 11:06, no pains.  It'll do for today.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Faster Than Expected

We got a late start this morning after waiting for thunderstorms to pass.  I didn't feel too strong, having finished breakfast barely an hour before.  Also, the temperature was 75 and climbing, with a high dew point and bright sun, so I decided to do a run/walk of 2 to 3, easier than usual.

Funny thing, though, the first run/walk cycle ended up being 1 to 1, and I kept that up throughout the five-mile run.  Toward the end I actually did feel better and probably went a little faster than 1 to 1.  Distance 4.95 miles, time 55:10, pace 11:09, better than the 12:00 that I was expecting.

Whining: None.  It's a masterpiece.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Another Short Run

I worked quite hard yesterday and didn't feel strong today, so we chose 40-minute routes.  I did the usual 1 to 1 run/walk, but didn't really feel strong until the last mile or two, when I was able to go a little faster.  We took the paved trails again because the grass trails are soggier than ever after more rain last night.

Distance: 3.53 miles, time 39:08, pace 11:05.  Good enough.  No whining.  It's a masterpiece.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Slept Late

I can't believe I slept until 8 am!  Must have needed it.  Then we had a coffee and went right to the park to run.  The temperature was already 75 and rising, so I tried to take it fairly easy, using my usual one to one run/walk.  Distance 4.95 miles, time 56:00, pace 11:19, it'll do.

No whining.  I need to run either farther or faster pretty soon.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

More Rain

We got almost two and a half inches last night, and so did the park, so we ran on the paved trails instead of the soggy grass trails.  The temperature was 72 degrees, plenty warm for running, but the 25 mph wind felt pretty good wherever it could get through the trees.

I didn't feel particularly strong, especially at first, but I did the 1 to 1 run/walk anyway, 3.53 miles again, in 38:21, for a pace of 10:52.  That will do fine for today, longer runs are coming up.

No whining!  The cold is pretty much gone - no coughing, sneezing, or nose blowing other than the usual amount from seasonal allergies.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Like A Dog Straining at the Leash

We don't have a dog, but that's how I feel myself on a day like today as we head for the park.  I just can't wait to get started on the run.  And it was so worth it today, 70 degrees and sunny, with little or no wind, perfect for sitting in the shade sipping on a hot tea, and only a little too warm for running if I were picky.  I wasn't - I loved it and felt strong all the way.

I ran on the grass trails, finding them very nice indeed - in fact my usually-muddy shoes were cleaner by far after I finished the run than before I started.  I did a one to one run/walk, going 5.16 miles in 59:56, for a pace of 11:37.

Whining: Just a little warning from the PFS in the right knee after I ran hard up a steep hill.  No problem.  My cold isn't gone, but it's getting better.  It's a masterpiece.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Short Summer!

Sixty degrees today, windy, with dark clouds scudding across the sky, it felt like a fall day with snow soon to follow.  In June.

Happily, the weather forecast people are adamant that Friday will be better.  I'll let you know.  The weather wasn't actually too bad for running, though, kinda fun.

I ran the same figure-eight course that I ran last Sunday and Monday, using the same 1 to 1 run/walk ratio, but didn't feel like pushing very hard and the time shows it.  3.53 miles in 39:45, for a pace of 11:16.  Good enough, and I felt like I could keep on going at this pace for quite a while.

No whining, except for my cold.  It might be getting better, though.  Hard to say, the symptoms change.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Back Home

... with a cold, as so often happens.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014:

Today's run was back on the park's grass trails, just four miles, but that's enough, because I still have my cold.  It seems to be getting better, but I don't want to push my luck.  I'm still keeping extra warm and getting a nap or two every day.  I have a very clear memory of February's bout of pneumonia, and don't want a repeat.

Today's run was just delightful.  The trails were wetter than I thought they would be, because of recent rain I guess, but I was able to get by the wettest spots without much difficulty.  Shoes and sox got a little wet from dew on the grass, but that's the price to be paid for a lovely run in the cool of the morning. Easily worth it.  I'm anxious to go farther, when my cold abates.

Distance: 4.03 mi, time 47:22, pace 11:45.  I think I worked just as hard today as I did yesterday on the paved trails, but the grass trails seem to take me about a minute per mile longer.  Anyway I'm happy with the time.  It's a masterpiece!

Monday, June 9:

Trilium on the edge of our woods
Paved-trail figure-eight again.  This is the same route that I ran yesterday, except I ran it in the other direction.  Today was more humid than yesterday, but the temperature and humidity evidently didn't slow me down, as I finished the route almost a half minute faster today.  No problems.  Except for my cold, no whining
Splits: 16:07 (west, 1.46 mi), 21:50 (east, 2.07), total time 37:58, distance 3.53, pace 10:45.  Slightly slower on the west loop, faster on the east.

Sunday, June 8:

Paved trail figure-eight, 3.53 miles.  While I still have the cold I'm not doing anything very long.  I probably shouldn't run very hard, either, so I'm limiting my run/walk ratio to no faster than 1 to 1, except I might run more on a long, gentle downhill.  Those are rare.

Today was a lovely day to be outdoors, plenty warm for running but a pleasure to be out there.  No problems I finished in 38:23, which is a pace of 10:53.  Not bad.

Friday, June 6:

I ran the figure-eight on the park's paved trails today, the normal (not extended) version.  I would have liked to run longer, but still have the cold and prefer not to tax my immune system any more than necessary.  I believe that a modest amount of exercise may be beneficial, but more than that may divert resources needlessly from vital functions to muscles.

Distance was 3.19 miles, time about 36 minutes, pace about 11:17.  Time is an estimate, as is pace.  I didn't feel very strong today, still dealing with the worsening cold, but I ran fairly well anyway for this short distance.  I can't wait until the cold is gone and I can run for an hour or two.  Or three.

Whining: Nothing except the nasty cold.

Thursday, June 5:

The grass trails were a bit soggy today, after 2 3/4 inches of rain over the weekend, but I enjoyed them anyway.  3.01miles in 34:48, for a pace of 11:34, which is actually better than I intended.  I still have yesterday's cold, and in fact it is worse today, but I do feel better after the run than before.

Wednesday, June 4:

One loop with the Klondike extension.  I caught a cold after the trip back from Chicago, and didn't want to run too far today.  2.53 miles in 28:30, for a pace of about 11:16 minutes per mile.  Then home, shower, nap.

Chicago Lakefront Trail

Sunday, June 1, 2014:

We three met up with a friend and ran down Chicago's riverside trail and then the Lakefront Trail once again.  Downtown Chicago is such a nice place to run. We went south to the aquarium again, as  yesterday, but there is another whole world of running to the north of the river.  I'll do that another time.

Three guys in a booth, trying to
persuade insurance companies
that our lives are worth it

More than five miles, according to my friend's GPS, in about an hour.

No whining - very nice time.  It's a masterpiece.

Saturday, May 31:

Lovely morning run on the lakefront.  Starting at State & Wacker, down the stairs, out to the lake and south, then part way around the aquarium.  After showers and breakfast we took the shuttle to the ASCO conference and did booth duty for the rest of the day.  See Myeloma Hope.

No whining.  It's a masterpiece.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Trails Are Still Wet

The morning was lovely for walking: sunny, 65 degrees, just a little breeze.  It wasn't perfect for running, a bit warm and humid, and the grass trails were wet from yesterday's rain, but the paved trails were dry and calling out to me.  I felt like doing an easy one-hour run, so I started with a run/walk ratio of two to three, but I felt good and gradually flipped it to a ratio of three to two.

Distance 4.95 miles, time 57:30, pace 11:37.

Whining:  Only the slightest complaint from the right knee with PFS.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Forgot to Start the Watch

No biggie - considering the rain and threat of more, and yesterday's longish run, we decided to run just 40 minutes today.

Gluten-free crust,
organic everything else
We opted for the paved trails instead of the wet, muddy, slippery grass, choosing a 3.53-mile figure-eight route which allowed us to park near the center, putting us all as close as possible to the car in case of lightning.  Our rule: At the first flash flash or the first rumble, stop and return to the car with all deliberate speed.

I forgot to start my watch at the beginning of the first loop, but I did a 1 to 1 run/walk which resulted in a pace of 10:48 for the second loop.  I felt very strong throughout, enjoyed the run, and finished strong.

Whining: None!

East split: 22:22 for 2.07 mi, pace 10:48 for the second loop.

Monday, May 26, 2014


Monday, May 26, 2014 (Memorial Day):

Maybe we'll get summer after all.  Today's run was on the grass trails again, in the bright sun, with a temperature of 74 and a dew point of 64.  This was a sticky run, and I was drenched at the finish, but I enjoyed it.  I did a target run/walk ratio of 2 to 3 again, and finished 7.18 miles in 1:27:49, for a pace of 12:14, almost exactly the same as yesterday's pace, and with the addition of two more miles.

I was careful not to do any long downhill runs today, maintaining the 2 to 3 ratio instead, and the PFS in the right knee did not appear, though a little of  it did show up later on the stairs at home.

Best news of all: I felt strong at the start, and even stronger at the end.  Great run - it's a masterpiece!

Sunday, May 25, 2014:

Friday's short & fast (for me) run took so much out of me that I skipped yesterday's run altogether.  Today I felt like having a nice, easy run on my favorite trails.  Using a run/walk ratio of 2 to 3, I ran 5.16 miles in 1:03:15, for a pace of 12:15, more than two minutes per mile slower than the "race" I ran on Friday.

Whining:  I did have some trouble with the PFS in the right knee, especially on two particular occasions, after doing a long, downhill run in each case.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

3.7 Miles No Walking

May 24, 2014:

Except down a few steep hills to avoid knee injury.  We ran under a bright sun, 73 degrees, with no wind.  I decided to run without walking and went 3.73 miles

Life is good
in 37:01, for a pace of 9:55.  Not bad for those trails, actually, considering the iffy footing, the hills, and even one stream that had to be crossed by hopping from one rock to another.

I didn't feel strong today, probably because I'm limiting calories, and I may have run a little too fast, because it felt like a race pace throughout, and I was having a tough time maintaining the pace toward the end.  I was very warm, and so glad to be finished.

Whining: The PFS in the right knee mumbled part of the way, but was worse after we got home and I had to use the stairs.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Mad Dogs and Englishmen

Go out in the midday sun.   I've used that quote before, but it became appropriate again today.  We actually left for the park at 1:00 pm, but that's noon according to the sun.  It wasn't so bad, actually - the sun was bright and constant, but the temperature was 69 with a little west wind and a low dewpoint.  We lathered up well with our favorite super sun screen, (VaniCream SPF 35, from Mayo Clinic, stays on for a whole marathon), and had a great run.

Indigo bunting on our feeder skirt.
They really do look that bright.

I didn't feel as strong as yesterday, but I'm limiting calories right now to lose a little weight, and that's probably the reason.  Regardless, I did a 3 to 2 run/walk and finished 6.24 miles in
Grass trails are sometimes just
dirt (left) and sometimes improved
with wood chips (right)
1:08:10, for a pace of 10:55.  That's a mile farther and yet a half minute per mile faster than yesterday, though it did feel a bit like a race today.  We parked in the main parking lot, and I found myself running directly to the water fountain there at the end of the run.

Whining: Just a little complaining from the PFS in the right knee, not a limiting factor.  After the run, the left knee bothered a little too, but I didn't analyze it to figure out what type of injury it is.

Weight this morning 161.8, same as yesterday.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Five Miles a Little Faster

I'm back on the grass trails after more than two inches of rain two days ago.  They are mostly dry, with only a few spots so wet that I had to creep along the edges.  After taking a day off to rest a back pain, I felt very strong and increased my pace a little compared with other recent runs on this same trail, doing a run/walk ratio of 3 to 2, sometimes faster than that.

Standard breakfast, mostly
organic, oatmeal beneath.

I finished the 5.16 mile run in 59:02, a minute faster than Monday, and for a pace of 11:26.  If I had run continuously I might have done better yet, but I'm building up to that slowly.  I did three miles recently, so four miles next, maybe later this week.  I'm also trying to lose at least ten pounds, which I currently wear around my waist, and that will help.  I started at 164 lb after the recent Fargo Marathon, down to 161.8 today.

Whining: Slight mumbling from the PFS in the right knee.  No problem from the back pain.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Ahead of the Rain

Rain was forecast for most of today, so we got up a little earlier than usual and went to the park.  I ran on my favorite grass trails, using a 1 to 1 run/walk ratio and even a little faster than that at times, hustling a bit to get back to the car before the rain hit.  Indeed, I never felt a drop but the windshield was dotted with droplets as we drove away.  Perfect timing.  Now as I write this, lightning is crashing about, rain is falling in buckets, and I am delighted to be safe and warm indoors.

Distance: 5.16 miles; time: 1:00:01, pace 11:38.  This is the same route as last Thursday, and I finished it about a minute and a half faster today.  That’s nice, but I’m surprised that the difference isn't even greater.  The run was thoroughly enjoyable, with cool, cloudy, breezy weather and soft, dry trails.  It doesn't get much better.

Whining:  The right knee with PFS complained a little, but not enough to bother.  I felt a brief, sharp pain in the right side of my back, just below the rib cage, about where I suppose my right kidney would be.  I think it was muscular, though, and it mostly went away.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Do Not walk

The grass trails are still beckoning, and this time I decided to do a run that included no walking at all.  Not a long one, just three short miles, but I ran the whole way except to briefly walk carefully down a few steep hills.  it went well, in lovely running weather, and I enjoyed it.  Of course I have to run slower  when I don't do any walking, but for a short distance like this I can probably get to the end faster doing run-only instead of the usual run/walk.

I can't prove that today, however, because I forgot my watch.  Looking at the clock in the car, though, it took me between 31 and 32 minutes to run 3.01 miles, so if my time were 31:30, the average pace was 10:28.  I'm happy with that - the route is quite hilly and a little treacherous, requiring careful foot placement. Tomorrow I'll go back to the run/walk, which is easier on my ancient joints and muscles, but maybe I'll run four miles without walking sometime soon, and then maybe five, and we'll see where that goes eventually.

Whining: Zip.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Six Slow Miles

Since the 26-mile marathon I've run 12 miles, with six more on tap for today, totaling 44 for the week.  That's more than I should run in a week, of course, so it puts me at risk of some runners' injury (any of many).  Nevertheless I took the risk because  (1) there is no impending marathon; (2) I'm feeling very strong; (3) I could deliberately take it slowly; and (4) I really really wanted to do this run today.  The trails were calling!

Today's breakfast, mostly organic.
Oatmeal beneath.
I started off slowly, as intended, but I had slightly misjudged the weather, wearing one shirt too few, and decided to go faster to keep warm.  Then I felt pain in the right knee with PFS, and had to slow again, a lot.  When that subsided I could go faster again, and overall, in the end, I suppose I went faster than I had intended.  6.24 miles in 1:18:44, pace 12:37.

But I had a great time!  Near the end I realized that my legs were fatigued, which is good for a training run; it means that training is happening.

Whining: The right knee was worse today than yesterday, and the pain actually limited my pace for a while.  The PFS comes and goes, though, and toward the end of the run the pain was almost gone again.  I'll take the next day or two off (yard work instead) and it will clear up.  Also, I'm planning to start a set of resistance exercises, which will include the core-strength exercises that can fix the PFS.  Watch this space, see if it really happens.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Five Miles on the Grass Trails

I pushed a little harder today than yesterday, because it felt good.  The run/walk ratio was 2 to 3 some of the time, but 1 to 1 more of the time.  I finished 5.16 miles in 1:01:24, for a pace of 11:54.  Today was windier, more cloudy, and colder than yesterday, at 46 degrees, but shorts and two shirts did the trick nicely.

Whining:  Minor complaints from the right knee with PFS (patellofemoral syndrome) but that’s to be expected when running on uneven surfaces.  It will be OK.  Six miles tomorrow?  We’ll see - there is yard work to be done too.

Yesterday's breakfast:  Organic fresh blueberries & strawberries, fresh
mango, dried organic currants, roasted hazelnuts, organic plain
yogurt, with gluten-free oatmeal beneath.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Grass Trails!

Wide grass with a narrow rut,
typical of the park's trails
At last, the trails are firm enough for running and I don't have to be extra-careful, because there is no big race coming up.  I ran 4.03 on the grass trails this morning savoring my first spring run on my favorite trails.  I do love it.  There were a few wet spots, but nothing a runner couldn't avoid.

This was the second recovery run since Saturday's Fargo Marathon, and I felt great, charging up hills because it felt good and cruising down easy slopes too.  I walked down steep slopes, though, to protect my knees.  The run/walk ratio was 2 to 3, time 49:42, pace 12:26.  The grass trails are always slower.

Whining: None.  Five miles tomorrow?

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Three-Mile Recovery Run

After a marathon we usually take two days off and don’t run until the third day.  That’s today, and we went for a short run on the park’s paved trails.  I’m still anxious to run on the grass trails, but they’re pretty soggy today.

2.91 miles in 34:35, pace 11:53.  I did the same run/walk of 1 to 2 that worked for me three days ago in the marathon.  No problems, not even sore muscles, maybe just a little weakness.  That should clear in the next few days with a few more recovery runs.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Fargo Marathon Review

Lovely, typical Fargo neighborhood
We three have done 82 marathons now, and we enjoyed Fargo as much as any.  The weather helped too, 48 degrees and sunny at the start, 65 degrees and cloudy at my finish, with enough breeze to make it interesting.  I crossed the mat at 5:31:56, just two minutes over my best-hope time considering that I had run a marathon just two weeks ago.  If I hadn't stopped to chat with a few homeowners along the way I might have been under 5:30, who knows?

The Fargo Marathon:

Special lane to allow fast runners
to pass slower ones.  It didn't work,
I bet they'll do it better next year.
Fargo, North Dakota and Moorhead, Minnesota seem to be one town, Fargo on the west bank of the great Red River of the North and Moorhead on the east.  Even the street-naming and numbering seem mostly consistent from one side of the river to the other.  The combined population of the metro area is almost a quarter million and growing rapidly.  We parked our car in Minnesota, started the race on the bridge between the states, ran parts of the race in each state, and finished in North Dakota just a few blocks away from our car.  For 50-states purposes I suppose a person could claim either state (not both!), but I consider this my second North Dakota marathon.
No shortage of cute kids in
the Fargo neighborhoods

The race is flat.  We runners joked with each other about that a few times as we climbed up a bridge or out of an underpass, but the joke was over pretty quickly and we were back on the flat.  This is a river valley, but it's a river that spreads out very wide when floods come.  From the top of a stepladder you can see ten miles in any direction.  I like flat - otherwise it's called "challenging," and 26 miles is challenge enough for me these days.

The race is well organized, too.  We ran it in 2006, the marathon's second year, and it was well organized even then, presumably getting better every year since.  We liked the expo, the packet pickup, the start, the finish, and especially the course.
Motivational couch, beer included

We ran through the downtown, along the river, and through neighborhoods with lots of cheering spectators.  Never once did I feel any threat from vehicle traffic.  The race is almost entirely on roads, closed to traffic, with the route clearly marked on the pavement in white spray paint.  Fargo calls itself "City of Parks," and indeed we did run by several parks and right through a couple.  We also ran smack dab through Concordia College, a main-line Lutheran college that's close to Ardis' heart as a Lutheran pastor.

Other stuff:

  • Shirt: "It seemed like a good idea 4 months ago."  
  • Shirt: "Toenails are overrated."  
  • Shirt: "I thought they said RUM."  
  • Sign: "Worst parade ever!"  
  • Couch occupied by men drinking beer, labeled "Motivational Couch."  
  • Table & chairs with people drinking beer, labeled "Drinking Team with a Running Problem."  
  • A whole band of bagpipers.  I love bagpipes (I'm partly Scottish by birth and definitely by affinity.)
  • Lots of other bands, though some had their loudspeakers turned up painfully high.  I think there were as many bands in Fargo as there were in Nashville, a "Rock n Roll" marathon.

These two have great sisters
Along the way we ran through a neighborhood where dozens of lovely and expensive homes on the Fargo bank of the river were being destroyed or moved out to make way for a bigger, stronger, multi-million-dollar dike.  Those homeowners had "taken the buyout."  Others hadn't, and their fate is unclear.  Will Fargo assert eminent domain and force them to move?  I spoke to several nervous homeowners in their yards, as they watched the marathon and chatted with their neighbors, pondering their future together.  You guys need a lawyer?  Kidding.

My Race:

Quite near the finish, actually
This may have been my best marathon of the five so far this year.  Certainly it was my best finish time, and I enjoyed it as much as any and more than most.  I'm surprised, actually, that I could finish so soon with just two weeks rest after the Nashville Marathon.  I started with a run/walk ratio of 1 to 2, and was able to sustain that most of the way.

My legs did feel a little fatigued already at mile six, which is too early in the race, but I suppose that was from the short two-week recovery.  On the other hand I felt a resurgence of energy much later in the race, after twenty miles, which is quite unusual but most welcome.

Happy Don in the last mile
Whining: Very little!  In the last third of the last mile of the race I started to cramp up, forcing me to walk without running for just that short way, and around that time I also noticed just a little of the back pain that I had been so concerned about before the race.  That close to the finish, neither of those problems was much bother.

Splits: 12:18, 12:17, 12:10, 11:50, 12:15, 11:57, 16:55 (nature break), 13:01, 12:00, 24:00 (2 mi), 13:29, 11:43, 12:21, 12:19, 13:31, 12:11, 12:39, 11:51, 13:57, 12:01, 12:52, 12:37, 12:45, 12:15, 13:36 (cramping), 3:10 (0.2 mi), total 5:32:26 by my watch,  5:31:56 by the chip on my bib.  Why the 30-second discrepancy?  I dunno - my old watch seemed to work perfectly, and I think it's correct, but I won't complain.

My Sweeties:

Despite Ardis' painful joints, she and Sarah finished their half marathon within their time goal and had an enjoyable race.  I hope they don't get tired of running marathons before I do.