Friday, December 30, 2016

Running Plan

The idea is to get back to running more and walking less.  Three weeks ago I saw a very good therapist who specializes in running - in fact she is also a runner, and a fine one.  She gave me a schedule for ramping up that was appropriate for an injured runner, probably someone younger than me and not taking cancer meds.  I protested that it ramped up pretty fast, and she suggested that I use the same schedule but a third as fast.

Today we talked about it more and I understand it better.  This is the plan:

  • Each session begins with stretches and then 2-5 minutes of brisk walking. 
  • After that, each session (walk/run) is 30 minutes, including six repetitions of walking & running, 5 minutes apiece, comprised of 4 minutes of walking and 1 of running.
  • After three sessions at this pattern, the running portion increases by ½ minute for the next three, the increases continuing until the total running time reaches 30 minutes per session. 
  • Sessions must always be separated by at least one day off, i.e. never walk/run two days in a row. 
  • Once a week or so, sessions should be separated by two days off. 
  • Additional walking during a session is allowed. 
  • After the running time reaches 30 minutes, it may be increased by 10% per week.
The 30-minute goal should take seven or eight weeks.  I'm in no hurry.  Running speed is not important yet; I'll be happy to do 10- or 11-minute miles.

Since I last saw the therapist, I've been walking about 40 minutes per session and, most recently, finishing with a run of about 2 minutes, including a short sprint.  I have clear instructions now to avoid sprinting until the running time reaches 30 minutes, to avoid injury. I do love to sprint, but don't want to get hurt, so I'll probably follow that advice too.  Mostly.

We also discussed and tried some of the stretches and and resistance exercises that she had recommended three weeks ago.  More about those in the next post.

Friday, December 16, 2016

New Training Plan

Thursday, Nov 15, 2016:

Not complete yet, but working on it.  I saw the physical therapist last Friday and got a lot of information.  I agree with a lot of it, but not with all.  In particular, the therapist gave me a sort of one size fits all rehab sheet, meant for an injured runner, titled "Return-to-Running Program."  It features a walk/run schedule of 30 minutes three times per week, and escalates from mostly walking to a full 30-minute run in four weeks.  After that, one would increase the running time by 10% per week.

It doesn't fit me, though, because I haven't run for 30 minutes straight in a very long time, years actually. I would get injured ramping up so quickly.  I've tried it before, and did get injured.  Hamstrings, Achilles', hip flexors, knees, all have happened and will happen again if I push too hard.

The therapist did give me the option of going slower, so I will do that and try to ramp up slowly enough to avoid injury.  I do believe in the time-honored 10% per week rule, but how does that apply to a 30- or 45-minute walk/run when I am now almost exclusively walking?  Start at 10% running / 90% walking, as the rehab sheet suggests?  Then 20% / 80% the next week?  No, that's way too fast.  11% / 89% the second week?  That's a 10% increase from the first week, more or less, but way too slow - I'd never get to 100% running.  So I have to figure that out and make some decisions, but I don't have to do it right now because I can go at least a week at the 10% level.  In fact, this week I've been doing the 0% level, just walking, no running.

That feels good, but won't get me anywhere.  I'm reading a book about this - more in the next post.

Today we went to the YMCA, where I walked pretty fast for three miles and wore my heart rate monitor.  The highest rate I saw  during the walk was 108.  During the walk I could always talk (e.g. recite the Pledge of Allegiance) without difficulty, a measure of aerobic performance, and was always walking at least five footfalls per full breath, another measure.  Why might that matter?  More in the next post.

Splits: 13:43, 13:39, 13:20, total 40:42

Tuesday, Dec 13:

YMCA Walking.  Maximum observed HR 122.  A mile is 13 laps on the YMCA track.  I did run the last lap of the third mile.

Splits: 14:14, 14:45, 14:23, total 43:22

Friday, dec 8, 2016:

Mall walking.  Just a nice walk with my gals, a little less than two miles.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Trying Something Different Today

I put on my ancient heart rate monitor and tried to keep my heart rate between 100 & 105 for a four-mile walk. Because of time constraints I couldn't quite go four, but I noticed that I had to slow down a bit from the first mile through the third to keep the heart rate in that bracket.

I saw my sports doctor today about several topics.  One of those was the best approach to regaining my speed.  For several years  I have really only been able to train for the next marathon a few weeks away, being very careful not to get injured.  I have lost a lot of speed, and I want to get it back.  He referred me to a therapist who, hopefully, can set me on a path toward that objective.  Now I have an appointment with that therapist, and I know that she is a runner herself and good at what she does.  I expect to work.

Splits: 13:51, 14:07, 14:37, 6:58, total 49:33.

Oops I Fell

Saturday, November 26, 2016:

I have fallen exactly twice in my 15-year running career.  Both times with my running buddies and both times on ice.  Could there be a lesson here?  I got up and nothing hurt, so walked some more, probably about three miles in all.

Later I discovered a bruise on my left kneecap and a bit of skin torn off.  No big deal - should heal in a few days.  Doc saw it today and agrees - kneecap is structurally OK.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Philadelphia Marathon Review

November 20, 2016

My 100th marathon since my diagnosis of myeloma in 2003.  It's a major milestone.  I finished in 6:47:17, fifth of six in my 75-79 age group.

Waiting for the start
That finish was about 15 minutes behind my goal time, but if the Philly Marathon was the big story on Sunday, the weather was a close second.  Temps in the 40's with winds of 20 to 30 mph, gusting to 50, made everyone's marathon take longer.  The wind doesn't help a runner much when it's coming from behind, but it sure can make a flat road feel like a steep hill when running toward it.  No fault of the race organizers, of course.  In fact Saturday, the day before the race, would have been perfect for the marathon and was indeed perfect for the half marathon.

My Race:

A Drexel Univ Frat House!
Apart for some grumbling about the wind, I really had no problems.  This time I didn't carry water, and there were plenty of aid stations.  I took six Clif Shot gels with caffeine - those do give me a boost.  I also took about as many salt tablets and one capsule of magnesium taurate to ward off cramps, which never appeared.  I wore a visor and ear band up top, three technical (running) shirts and a wind jacket, good warm mitts, and both tights and pants below.

I think the tights were overkill - I could have done with just the pants, but not sure, because my hips and thighs got a little cold anyway, and I think that reduces the efficiency of those muscles.  Four layers above were plenty too - in the last six miles, going with the wind, I tossed one of the running shirts and was just fine.
"Please Touch Museum"
from the back

The Philadelphia Marathon:

They don't get much better than this.  All of the roads that we ran on were fully closed to vehicle traffic - the only thing we needed to worry about was being hit by a police vehicle, of which there were plenty and going plenty fast, I thought.  Again, not something that's really in the control of the race committee, and who am I to question how the police do their job of keeping us safe?

Organization was excellent, from the online registration process to the Expo (nice big one), and the race itself.  Aid stations were winding down as I went by at my glacial pace, but there was always water and Gatorade to be had, with gels at two places, maybe more.  Even in that cold, blustery weather, the volunteers were all smiles, and the police at the corners too.  They like their marathon, and it shows.

We passed lots of famous buildings and landmarks.  One of my favorites was the children's "Please Touch Museum," housed in a National Historic Landmark built in 1876 for the Centennial Exhibition celebrating the country’s 100th birthday.  I passed this beautiful building on both sides.  Philly is an historic city with a lot of character - I wish we'd had more time to explore.

I would do this marathon again in a heartbeat, even with the same weather.

Other Stuff:

  • I took a dozen photos along the way - that might account for part of the longer than expected finish time. 
  • A nice 79-year-old guy from Canada was running his 227th marathon.  He is originally from Manitoba, and says that he has run every single different Manitoba marathon, of which there are 28.  BTW 28 is the same in English and Metric. 
  • A young woman sitting on her porch wearing a warm-looking Santa Claus costume was smiling and holding on tight to her cat.  For a moment I wished I was doing something like that.
  • For a while I kept up with a running juggler, because the wind was messing up his act.  Don't know if he finished. 
  • At the finish a very smiley woman was one of the people hanging medals on the runners' necks.  She said that she had read about me in the Philadelphia Inquirer and, seeing my medal, was disappointed not to be the one to present me with it.  So I took it off and she put it on me again.  We were both very pleased.
  • Toward the end I passed a woman running with a mostly-full clear plastic pitcher. Big one. I asked if it was iced tea or beer.  She sniffed it, and replied "beer."  Apparently she had stopped where someone was handing out free beer, and they asked if she wanted a glass or a pitcher.  So here she was, running down the road offering it to anyone with a need.  I declined.
  • Two friends, Roy and Jackie, met me before the race.  Inspiring.  Both are lots faster than me, so we didn't run together.
  • Two other friends came to Philly too, but somehow we never connected.  Big city, big race.
Sarah shooting Ardis
shooting Don's finisher
medal.with more photo-
graphers in background

I run as part of a campaign called eRaceCancer, speaking out for: (1) Myeloma awareness; (2) More innovative, targeted medications for myeloma and other life-threatening diseases; and (3) Hope & inspiration for anyone needing either..  See HERE .

Splits: 41:46 (3 mi), 14:55, 13:51, 14:14, 14:43, 18:50 (major nature break), 14:38, 15:16, 14:45, 17:29 (nature break), 15:12, 14:48, 14:54, 15:53, 15:58, 32:45 (2 mi), 15:18, 16:39, 15:50, 15:28, 54:22 (3.2 mi), total 6:47:21.  Website results showed 6:47:26 - What's 5 seconds among friends.  Average pace 15:32.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Still Running

Sunday, Nov 13, 2016:

Four miles at the YMCA, slightly up tempo.  We go to the Y quite a bit when the weather gets cold.  I speed-walked the first two miles at a 13-minute pace, then ran one lap (13 laps per mile) in mile 3, and four laps in the last mile.  Overall pace 12:33.  Ready for Philly!

Splits:  12:59, 12:59, 12:38, 11:36, total 50:12.

Thursday, Nov 10:

Easy walk outdoors, two miles in 36:22.

Tuesday, Nov 8:

Three miles at the YMCA.  I forgot my watch, so used the clock on the wall instead.  This actually works pretty well, just not accurate to the split second.  I mostly walked at a 13-minute pace, then ran the very last lap.  Overall pace 12:52.

Splits: 13:00, 13:00, 12:35, total 38:35.

Monday, Nov 7:

Four miles at the YMCA,  Pace 13:36.  Splits: 13:35, 13:41, 13:40, 13:29, total 54:25.

Wednesday, November 02, 2016

How to Cure a Cold

They say there's no cure.  And "they" may be right, but there are a lot of things that we can do.

Heard from doctors fairly recently (but note: I am not a doctor):

  • Gargle with warm salt water to sooth the throat.
  • Use a neti pot (nasal irrigation) to clear sinuses.
  • Claritin (Loratadine) and Claritin-D (Loratadine with pseudoephedrine) to reduce symptoms.
Other common-sense & folk treatments:
  • Keep extra warm, particularly the chest.  Especially avoid chills.
  • Lots of sleep - morning and afternoon naps if possible.  In my opinion this is the best possible thing to do.
  • Chicken soup with lots of salt and pepper.  Maybe other hot, salty, peppery soups with onion, sage, and thyme.
  • Zinc lozenges.
  • Vitamin C.  We mix Vitamin C powder in some organic pomegranate juice.  Yum.
  • Aromatic (menthol, camphor, ...) rub on the chest for extra heat and a nice smell.  I clip a towel around my neck too.
  • Hydrate plenty.  Alas, alcohol probably doesn't count.
  • "Feed a cold (and starve a fever)."  To keep the immune system strong, but junk food won't help.
  • A key point:  Don't let up until the symptoms are all gone.  A chest cold will take advantage of a chill to start all over in the sinuses, or vice-versa.
Bottom line:  The old joke - Do all of these things and the cold might be gone in as little as a week.  Otherwise it might take as long as seven days.


Monday, October 31, 2016

It Could Be Chilly in Philly

Sunday, Oct 30, 2016:

My next (and 100th) marathon will be there, so I'm doing some cool-weather training.  Well, actually, I don't have a lot of choice, it's already chilly in Minnesota.  43 degrees and cloudy all day long today, just as predicted.  Little or no wind.  Just a matter of dressing properly for it.

Unfortunately I didn't dress properly.  I know how to, but experimented, wearing a heavy half-zip shirt from a running club under a light wind jacket from a recent marathon.  That might have been enough, but neither garment met expectations.  The shirt was polyester, but apparently not the "technical" sort, as it got pretty soggy.  Further, the light wind jacket had no vent in back, so the soggy shirt just got soggier.

I knew this, but didn't think it would matter as much as it did.  The insulation of the upper garments was insufficient, and my upper body felt cooler than I would have liked.  I wasn't cold, really, not shivering, but cool enough that I eventually decided to shorten my 12.9-mile route to 12.1.

As I write this, a day later, it turns out that I should have shortened the route sooner, because the cold that was just beginning to invade my head and throat yesterday is in full force today.

127 miles for the month of October.

Saturday, Oct 20:

SCV Runners, 4 miles in about 60 minutes.  Five of us.  Nice chat with Jim.  No problems.

Friday, Oct 29L

Delightful.  4.1 miles in 57:53.  I love this weather!

Thursday, October 27, 2016

A Dark & Gloomy Morning

Wednesday, Oct 26, 2016:

Perfect for running.  Today’s temperature was about 45 degrees, all day long, with just a little wind.  It rained early, then let up about 11 am, so I took off.  I did almost the same run as last Sunday, adding a tenth of a mile to make it an even 8 miles.  This is a nice route, providing potential bathroom breaks at a park, a bar, and our church.  Finished in 1:59:19, for a pace mighty close to 15 minutes/mile.  A little running, but not much, and I think I strode a little slower than Sunday, hence the slightly slower pace.

Ready for a little cold rain

My back bothered a little after a few miles, on the left side, in the ribs and definitely not the spine.  Muscular, I’m sure, lack of “core strength.”  This happens from time to time.  After the 100th marathon in Philly I’m going to start a different training regimen and get after that core strength issue.

Later, I noticed that the outside bottom of my left foot hurt a little as I walked around stocking-footed in the house.  Hopefully that's just a temporary thing.

Monday, Oct 24:

Walk to the Market.  Once a week, lately, we three walk to the local organic grocery market, about a 7 mile round trip.  We each wear a backpack, and we carry the groceries back up the hill and home.  The trip includes a 155-step outdoor staircase, rising 100 feet, very good cross training!

In all, the elevation change between our home and the market is about 300 feet.  We don’t go especially fast, but it’s good training anyway.  In the Des Moines Marathon I found myself maintaining speed up the hills, almost as if they weren’t there.

Sunday, Oct 23:

Big Lake.  No problems.  7.9 miles in 1:55:37, for a pace of 14:38.  It’ll do.

Saturday, Oct 22:

SCV Runners & walkers, four miles with George n about 61 minutes.

Friday, Oct 21:

Hospital Loop.  Four miles in 59:59.  Huh.

Tuesday, Oct 18:

Walk to the Market, 7 miles.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Des Moines Marathon Review

Sunday, October 16, 2016:

They don't get any better than this.  I run & walk near the back of the pack, where runner support sometimes fails, but I have never felt more supported than in this marathon.  Volunteers on bikes came by frequently, asking whether I needed anything, I always said no, but I think they had a lot of stuff in their little bike baskets, like water, food, petroleum jelly, salt, whatever.

Picking up bib

My Marathon:
This was my 99th marathon, and I finished in 6:32:17, third of three in my age group.  The other guys were LOTS faster, which is always nice - means that it wouldn't have done any good for me to try a little harder.

This might have been a time that I actually could have gone a little faster, though.  I finished the last 10k just one minute slower than the first 10k.  In fact the last 9 miles were all faster than the average pace per mile in the race.  In fact every mile split that didn't include a nature break was under the 14:59 average pace, and this race included some hills.

At the start
Best of all, I feel great!  Nothing hurts.  Back, knee, Achilles' tendon, all are fine.  Muscles are a little stiff, but that's probably because I ran a marathon!  I'll be walking & running again in a day or two.

Six Clif Shot gels along the way, about that many salt tablets, and at least one magnesium capsule.  No cramps, no sign of cramps.  Yay!

The Des Moines Marathon:

These folks have the marathon figured out.  It's entirely on trails or streets that are closed to traffic.  We went around Iowa's most-visited lake (Gray's Lake), once around the 400-meter outdoor track at Drake University, and around the gold-domed Iowa State Capitol building.

With newfound friend from Two Harbors MN
There are a couple of hills, but this is not a “challenging” race course.  Middling between flat and challenging.

I have never felt more supported in a marathon.  I didn’t look at the map to see whether aid stations were planned for every mile, but it seemed that there was one about that often, and I drank at least a little at each one.  Because of the warm weather I carried water, but barely used it and could easily have gotten by without it.

Des Moines is a very nice town.  The course took us through neighborhoods with families out watching the silent parade go by.  I got to high-five quite a few kids and joke with people along the way.
Finished!  Don has yet to pick up his medal

I would definitely do this marathon again, and in fact we very well might.  Stay tuned.

As an aside, we stayed at the Residence Inn Downtown Des Moines, and were just delighted.  Easy walking distance to the race start and finish.  Quite new, very modern, and clean. And they didn’t pay me to say that.  I never talk about the hotel, but this one is worth the mention.

Splits: 13:41, 30:18 (2 mi), 13:37, 14:38, 44:50 (3 mi), 15:28, 18:14 (major nature break), 28:51 (2 mi), 14:44, 14:39, 29:47 (2 mi), 16:17, 14:35, 14:51, 14:54, 14:37, 44:54 (3 mi w hills), 14:24, 14:00, 3:59 (0.22 mi), total 6:32:17.

Tuesday, October 04, 2016

Fall Is My Favorite Season

Monday, October 3, 2016:

We flagged down a passing bike rider
who seemed pleased to take this photo
The old Woodbury Runners Group came out of retirement for one last hurrah.  Seven of us.  We split into three groups, with Rich and myself going together for one loop around Carver Lake and a bit more.  Very nice to connect with Rich again.  Need to do that more often.  Hope to see Scott at the Saturday morning group that I run (or walk) with.

Sunday, October 2:

Adventure   Of sorts.  I found a new and safer way to cross the diagonal highway, taking me from the Post Office to the High School.  I chose to cut through the High School grounds, instead of taking the planned route around it.  Fences around the school's construction zones redirected me, however, and I ended up going around it anyway, but on the wrong (long) side.

Actually it was quite enjoyable.  I saw kids playing baseball, soccer, volleyball, and sports I didn't even recognize this lovely Sunday afternoon. Lots of proud parents too, and it looked like maybe more than a few grandparents.

I lost track of the distance, because of the detour, but I think I went about 15 minutes per mile, and I know the time was 2:16:17, so I'm saying that I went 9 miles.  No problems, no whining.

Saturday, October 1:

Nice Walk   These are the days that I will remember throughout the winter.  Cool, dry, and with the trees entertaining us with their colorful fall plumage.  We had a very nice speedy walk, Karon and I today, going 3.7 miles in just under an hour.

Friday, September 30:

Uneventful Hospital Loop Four miles takes me past the hospital and my doctor’s office.  About 56 minutes, for a pace of about 14 minutes/mile.

Tuesday, September 27:

Another Grocery Run.  6.7 miles or so to the organic grocery.  We shopped and backpacked the food back home, stopping at another grocery on the way.  The hike took about 2:45:00, but that includes the time at the stores and several other stops.  A very nice hike.

Monday, September 26:

Long-Sleeve Shirt Day   And how.  The temperature wasn’t too bad, but  the wind was 22 mph gusting to 29.  For once I was glad every time the sun came out.  4.1 miles in 1:03:57, for a pace of 15:36.  There are 10 stoplights on the route that I took today, and I waited for several , so I’m happy with the time.

Sunday, September 25:

Nice 8-mile walk/run in 1:57:07, for a pace of 14:38.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Three More Runs

Since last Saturday's marathon.  Today I went up to the park, joined the SCV runners, and had a nice walk with George, as we were the only two walkers who showed.

Somehow we're never without something to talk about.  4.0 miles in about 1:01:00.

Friday, September 23, 2016:

The Hospital Loop.  So called because this hike takes me past a hospital and then my doctor's office, I finished the 4 miles at a pace of about 13:50.  Plenty good for today.

Two-mile splits:  27:23, 27:57, total 55:20

Tuesday, September 20:

Grocery Run   Lately we three have enjoyed a weekly trip to the organic grocery near the river.  It's a very hilly 6.7-mile hike, with backpacks to carry the groceries.

Today's hike took 3 hours, including the grocery shopping and a bathroom stop or two.  Not fast, but we have a really nice time, and this one was a perfect "recovery run" for me following last Saturday's marathon.

Three More Runs

Since last Saturday's marathon.  Today I went up to the park, joined the SCV runners, and had a nice walk with George, as we were the only two walkers who showed.

Somehow we're never without something to talk about.  4.0 miles in about 1:01:00.

Friday, September 23, 2016:

The Hospital Loop.  So called because this hike takes me past a hospital and then my doctor's office, I finished the 4 miles at a pace of about 13:50.  Plenty good for today.

Two-mile splits:  27:23, 27:57, total 55:20

Tuesday, September 20:

Grocery Run   Lately we three have enjoyed a weekly trip to the organic grocery near the river.  It's about a 6.7-mile hike, with backpacks to carry the groceries.

Today's hike took 3 hours, including the grocery shopping and a bathroom stop or two.  Not fast, but we have a really nice time, and this one was a perfect "recovery run" for me following last Saturday's marathon.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Air Force Marathon Review

Saturday, September 17, 2016:

My 98th marathon is in the books – I finished in 6:38:10, second of three in my age group.  I’d like to do better, but the guy who finished first did it in 4:28, more than two hours faster, which is pretty spry for a guy 75 or older.  Good job Don T.

Before the start
This was a wonderful race.  The Air Force does a great job:  (1) Not once was there vehicle traffic on the same road with us runners; (2) They provided aid stations with water and Gatorade almost every mile; (3) I was never wanting for a porta potty, with two or three almost every mile; (4) There were even enough porta potties and portable bathrooms at the start, and that never happens!; (5) The expo was fabulous; and (6) They did their best to keep us out of harm’s way as a lightning storm passed by early in the morning.

My Race:

I had a great time, talked to quite a few people along the way, including a doctor who was curious about my shirt that says “I’m alive thanks to novel cancer medications.”  Please see . I talked to a lawyer who was also a cancer survivor, and we chatted mostly about legal cases.  I was glad when the conversation went another direction.  I met a woman whose shirt said “100 Marathon Club.”  Huh.  I didn’t even know such a club existed, but I guess it would, and in fact there are two.  I’ll be eligible soon, if all goes well.  Do I care?

Whining: NONE!  Imagine that - for a whole marathon.  Actually I did slow in the last couple of miles because of a pain on the underside of the bone that bumps out from the left ankle, the lateral malleolus, the bottom of the fibula.  That was a new one for me, so I slowed to avoid an injury.  However, it turns out the pain was from my shoe (good old Brooks Launch) touching that area.  Tied a little too tight, I guess, so I'm not counting it as a potential problem.  No pains in back, knees, or Achilles tendons.  Training paid off!

The Marine Corps Marathon:

The weather was a topic of the day, starting with rain and lightning storms.  By race time the sky had mostly cleared and we could see the full moon (was it full today, or is it tomorrow?).  The sky clouded over then, for most of the race, and finally sprinkled a bit in the last few miles.  No big deal.  The wind was a big deal, though, holding us back whenever we faced it, but always cooling us.  Overall I didn’t mind.  I suppose the temperature got up to 75 or 80, but I started dumping a cup of water on my head at each aid station from Mile 8 forward.  I was never too hot.  We were all worried that the lightning would return and the Air Force would make us stop and take shelter.  We did see shelters, but happily passed them all by.

The race started and ended just outside the famous Air Force Museum.  What a place that is!  We were able to spend a couple of hours there, and I could have spent a week.  It’s huge, monumental, fascinating.  Mostly it’s military aircraft, plus a lot of test vehicles, but there are a few civilian planes including several retired versions of Air Force One.  We have to go home, but I wish we could stay another day just at that enormous museum.  One of the biggest bombers in this country’s nuclear arsenal was the B-52, and it looked small alongside dozens of other planes inside one of the four hangar-style buildings.

The race itself wound in and out of the Wright Patterson Air Force Base at Dayton, OH, so much so that it was almost impossible to drive the course before the race.  We looked at the map, assumed that our car
would not be allowed on the race route, and gave up.   I was never far from other runners, however, so I didn’t suffer from not seeing the course ahead of time.

Splits: 43:36 (3 mi), 29:15 (2 mi), 14:18, 14:34, 14:34, 15:10, 28:48, 15:24, 15:41, 14:59, 15:12, 15:31, 15:05, 15:39, 14:53, 15:56, 15:57, 16:03, 15:43, 14:34, 16:42, 17:00, 3:40, total 6:38:10, overall pace 15:11.

PS - 2016 Oct 10 - Received the amazing Age Group Award!  Among the best I've ever seen - Plexiglas 3/4 inch thick & 8 1/2 inches tall, printed on the back.  Shown here on our picnic table.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Organic Shopping Again

We three walked about 7 miles to the organic grocery again, from our home dropping almost 300 feet to the river and back up, with several wobulations in between.  Hilly, warm and otherwise just lovely today.  We mostly ran on trails, sidewalks, and very quiet streets.  It took us 3:22 to do this route, but we weren’t in a hurry.  In fact, when we got to the grocery store their power was out and they couldn’t let us in, so we went to a nearby bookstore and bought lattes first. The power came back eventually.

Going back home we climbed THE STAIRS, a famous feature of our city, taking the adventurous climber up about 100 feet in about 145 steps, all concrete with steel-pipe railings.  People do the stairs as an exercise program, and today so did we.  As with most climbers, when we got to the top we stopped for a moment to appreciate the superb view of the city and the river.  And to catch our breath!

The leaves are starting to collect on the trails, wherever the wind can’t blow them away.  The trees still look normal, no change in color yet, but they must be a little thinner.  Days are shorter - it’s not quite light at 6:00 am now.  I do so love this time of year, the next month or two.  What a treat to run in cool, dry weather, with the city’s trees putting on their fireworks display.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Long Time No Post

But we have been running.  Sometimes I work for a living, and that's taken time away from blogging lately, but I keep running regardless.  It's one of the best parts of the day and settles me down, calms my stress.

I actually ran 170 miles in August, an unusually high tally, and may have the injury to prove it.  See August 29, below, when I saw the sports doctor about the left Achilles tendon.

Saturday, September 09, 2016:

The girls and I did a half of a 5k (1.55 mi) together, then I did the remainder of a 4.02-mile route at my own pace while they finished the 5k.  Nice time, no whining, they finished just a few minutes ahead of me.

Splits: 25:33 (1.55 mi), 6:40 (0.47 mi), 25:45 (2.0 mi), total 57:58, for 4.02 mi, average pace 14:25, best 12:53 for 2 mi.

Thursday, Sep 08:

To the junior high track and back with my girls, plus a mile on the track.  We explored a bit on the way to the track and back, hustled a little at our own paces on the track itself.  A little of everything..

Five miles in 1:53:21.

Monday, Sep 05:

Nice 6.4-mile loop today.  By myself this time - I can go a little faster that way.  1:35:13, for an overall pace of 14:53.  Not great, but good enough.

Sunday, Sep 04:

Local neighborhoods with my girls, 4.7 miles in 1:53:00.  Or so.

Saturday, Sep 03:

SCV Runners   We had six walkers today - nice time.  A strong 4 miles in about 62 minutes, just a little slower than 15 minutes/mile.  Enjoyable conversation.

Friday, Sep 02:

We three walked across the big highway into the Sanctuary and back home.  Nice time together.  4.5 hours in about 1:30:00.  We didn't really hurry.

Thursday, Sep 01:

Lovely Hike   We three walked & ran from home to a co-op grocery a few miles away.  Total 7.5 miles in 3:49, but we spent a lot of that time goofing around.  Very hilly.

Wednesday, August 31:

We three walked the favorite lake-trail 5k in 52:17.  Nice.

Monday, August 29:

Four miles, and then walked another mile to the sports doctor.  I had hoped that he would tell me not to worry about the strange sensations in the left Achilles tendon, but he did NOT say that.  He thinks there may be an injury, and that it would be in the junction of the bottom of the calf muscles and the top of the Achilles tendon.

He suggested a "rehab" exercise, which I have done but less regularly than he suggested, and a stretch, which I have done a little more regularly.  Here's hoping.  A serious Achilles injury would put me out of the marathon business for a while.

Sunday, Aug 28:

Sixteen Miles At a fairly good pace.  I wasn't trying to go very fast, but the pace turned out to be 15:30 despite several nature breaks and even one wrong turn which must have cost at least a couple of minutes.  No real problem with the left Achilles

Saturday, Aug 27:

My girls and I walked to the organic market and back, with backpacks to carry what we bought.  About seven miles in about 2:30:00.  That might include the time that we spent in the market, plus some strolling around downtown.  Very hilly.  We had a nice time.

Thursday, Aug 25:

Six miles in 1:35:03, pace 15:51.  Hot & slow, coddling the Achilles tendon.  I didn't feel anything there at all, so I cancelled Monday's appointment with the sports doctor.

Later that night I felt twinges in the Achilles in bed, so early the next morning I recaptured that sports doctor appointment.

Wednesday, Aug 24:

4.2 miles in 1:01:36, pace 14:40, striding easy, gentle on the left Achilles tendon.

Monday, Aug 22:

Cool, dry, sunny, breezy   In other words, nearly perfect in every way.  What a day.  A very hilly but enjoyable twelve miles in 3:02:31, for an average pace of 15:13.  It might have been a little more than 12 miles, too, so perhaps a little under 15 minutes/mile, and I wasn't hustling too hard today.

Whining: There was (and later still is) an occasional tightening of a muscle at the point where the calf connects to the top of the left Achilles tendon.  It doesn't hurt, like a pulled muscle or a cramp, it just feels tight for maybe 20 seconds and then loosens up again.  I take it as a warning sign, though.  I've been laying down a lot of miles, and I'll take a day or two off and then cut back some.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Eight Miles at Marathon Pace

With several weeks yet to go before the next marathon, this run was fast enough and entirely without any need for whining.  I feel great.

It was a (mostly) new route on a lovely, cool morning.  If only we could bottle today for the rest of the year, I feel like I could do eight miles every morning.  Actually, I might do twelve tomorrow, at a slightly slower pace, because I have to take Tuesday off for a six-hour infusion anyway.  Tomorrow's weather promises to be almost as good, if I get out there early enough.  I have an idea for a new route, and I'm already looking forward to it.

Splits: 44:48 (3.2 mi), 1:12:08 (4.81 mi), total 1:56:56 for 8.01 mi, pace 14:36.  It'll do.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Striding, Not Walking

Friday, August 19, 2016:

I'm thinking of calling my pace walking "striding" instead of walking.  I really do go about as fast as I can, so "walking" doesn't quite do it justice.

Today I strode almost seven miles, running just a little, mostly across roads at intersections.  Cool morning, after a rain last night, but very humid.  The rain might not be is over yet.  Yesterday I heard the forecaster say that some cooler mornings are ahead of us - that won't break my heart.

Along the new Zephyr Trail

I did feel a twinge in the left Achilles tendon in the late miles today, but it went away.  An Achilles injury would be a show stopper, so I'll certainly be on the alert for it.

One of my closest consultants says that "striding" sounds pretentious.  Hmmm.  What I do isn't race walking (a.k.a. speed walking) because that has rules, but maybe "power walking" or "brisk walking" would be better.  Your opinion is solicited.

Time 1:39:35, 6.9 mi, pace 14:26,

Thu, Aug 18:

A Little More Running.  I strode to the school's 400 m track this morning, strode five laps or so around the track and ran two laps, then strode home.

Total distance was about six miles in about 90 minutes.  Lately I've only run a little, striding most of the time.  I need to run more and stride less, but with a marathon coming up I'm nervous about getting injured, so maybe that will have to wait unto after the 100th marathon in November.

Tue, Aug 16:

Four Miles With My Girls.   After 20 miles yesterday I needed to take it easy today.  A bit hilly, but not too fast.  Very hot.

Monday, August 15, 2016

20 Miles

Monday, August 15, 2016:

Part of today's run was along a
railroad track.
And no problems!  This was a hot and hilly walk/run, but very enjoyable.  I finished 20.1 miles in 5:43:00, for an overall pace of 17 minutes per mile.  But if I discount several trips into buildings for water (gas station, city hall, grade school), and time for taking some 25 photos, and a couple of chats with citizens, it gets a little better.  Suppose those delays added up to 20 minutes, then the pace would be 16 minutes/mile, good enough for a marathon, if only barely.  Hopefully the actual marathon will be a little easier than this route was today.

The right knee muttered just a little bit, but not enough to matter.

Wow I just added up the mileage for the last 7 days and it comes to 49.8 miles.  That's a lot in a week for an old man - probably too much.  Seems like I got away with it today, but I'll cool it now for a couple of days.

Sunday, August 14:

We three explored a nearby short trail that we hadn't used before.  Not the most attractive trail, but something new.  1.5 miles at a modest pace.

Saturday, August 13:

With My Sweeties. Walked 3 miles to the park, then 4 miles on the trail, and walked home with the girls again.  I did the middle 4 miles at a sub-15 pace, but the other miles were slower.  They still count, though!

Friday, August 12:

Six Useful Miles   As contrasted with miles with no destination - all training miles are useful of course.  Today, though, I strode and ran from home to the park where we run on Saturday mornings, and then back by a different route.

I hustled, so the pace was pretty good.  I felt great - no whining.

Splits: 43:11, 39:16, total 1:22:26, pace 13:58.

Thursday, August 11:

Five Inches of Rain   Last night.  In fact I was planning to do some speed training with friends on a nearby track this morning, but when I got up it was still raining so I went back to bed and slept another 2 ½ hours.  Must have needed it.

Then I went exploring again, finding five trails (still soggy) and two parks that I never knew about within a half mile of home!  Nice run, probably a bit over 6 miles in 1:38:00.  The right knee complained just a bit, but only briefly.  I try not to run downhill, as that probably isn't good for the knee, but I did a little running on the flat.

Wednesday, August 10:

Hot & Sticky   This was an exploratory run, trying to find trails between neighborhoods.  I didn't find much, but went about six miles in about 90 minutes and enjoyed myself.  VERY warm and humid, but no other problems

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Five Inches of Rain

Thursday, August 11, 2016:

Last night.  In fact I was planning to do some speed training with friends on a nearby track this morning, but when I got up it was still raining so I went back to bed and slept another 2 ½ hours.  Must have needed it.

Then I went exploring again, finding five (still soggy) trails and two parks that I never knew about, all within a half mile of home!  Nice run, probably a bit over 6 miles in 1:38:00.  Sunny, hot, and humid, so I didn't push too hard.

The right knee complained just a little, but only briefly.  I try not to run downhill, as that probably isn't good for the knee, but I did a little running on the flat.

Wednesday, Aug 10:

Hot & Sticky.  This was an exploratory run, trying to find trails between neighborhoods.  I didn't find much, but went about six miles in about 90 minutes and enjoyed myself.  VERY warm and humid, but no other problems.

Sunday, August 07, 2016

A Good Night's Sleep

Sunday, August 7, 2016:

Tonight - I'm tired!  I went out to run/walk 14.7 miles today and ended up going 17 miles instead.  When I got to the turnaround point at about mile 11, I felt so good that I added another neighborhood.  That would have been enough, but then on the return I gambled that I could find a footpath between a cemetery and the next neighborhood west, and lost the gamble, having to double back.  All in all that gamble and three other smaller ones probably cost an extra mile or so.  The good news is that I won't make those mistakes again, but the other good news is that today's unplanned extra mileage didn't hurt a bit.

One of my little out-and-back gambles ended when I saw a sign "No Trespassing - Minnesota Department of Corrections."  Apparently I was heading directly onto the grounds of Minnesota's OPH maximum security prison.  I turned right around.  :-)

This was a hot, hilly run, perfect training for the next marathon, just six weeks hence.  Down to the river, and then back up by a different route, a 300-foot elevation excursion with some up/down wobble along the way.  The route included parts of four different cities, one of them new to my running routes since we moved to our present home.  The more I explore, the more lovely trails and quiet neighborhoods I find just a short distance from home, and I certainly found some today, less than a mile and a half away.  I'll be back to those.

Whining: NONE.  I took three Clif Shot gels along the way and refilled my 16-ounce water bottle twice.

My watch malfunctioned today (cockpit error no doubt) so I don't really know how long it took me to go 17 miles, but I think 4:32 is probably close.  The total elapsed time is more, but I'm not counting a few nature break stops and a few chats with people along the way.  This was a wonderful run/walk, and I feel great.  I'll take a day or two off now, though.

Saturday, August 6:

About 3.7 miles with the SCV Runners (Karon) in about 53 minutes.  Nice.

Friday, August 5:

Oops I Got Lost   More than once.  I ran to the river and back, 10.5 miles, and again learned a lot about my local world.  Warm but not too hot, a lovely, hilly run.  Time 2:51:38, pace 16:21.  That's too slow for a marathon, but I'm not worried.  I can go faster.

Wednesday, August 3:

George and I explored a hilly park that was new to me.  Very nice time - about 3.7 miles I think.

Tuesday, August 02, 2016

Another Adventure

Investigating trails near our home again, including a nature center with a tall-grass trail, lots of homes, paved trails, and even a few quiet streets.  Warm weather, low 80's with a dewpoint over 70.  I didn't carry water, usually don't for runs under eight miles, but was sweating profusely and glad this run didn't go past eight.

Actually it was 7.2 miles in 1:52:40, for a pace of 15:39.  That's an OK pace, considering that I stopped a few times along the way to consult maps, and once to chat with a couple of residents enjoying their morning tea.

Whining:  None!  Nothing hurts.

125 Miles This Month

Sunday, July 31, 2016:

I’m a little surprised, through all of the fuss about possible heart problems (none found) and a very recent colonoscopy (no problems) I apparently just kept running, a little every day and a little more on some days.

Today I had a wonderful 12-mile run, heading south and east to the river, then north along it all the way through the city, west again on the Zephyr trail, and south to home.  This included paved and unpaved trails, sidewalks, some roads, parking lots, bridges, and one highway.

I traveled past shopping malls, neighborhoods of houses and condos new and old, parks, beautiful vistas with park benches, deep woods, river banks, the city’s downtown, and construction sites.  The total elevation excursion was almost 300 feet from highest to lowest and back, with a fair amount of up/down in between.

I took two Clif Shot gels along the way.  Though I found plenty of porta-potties along the way, I didn’t come across any fresh water.  Happily I was carrying a 16-ounce bottle, and finished it well before arriving home.

Really good food afterward

No problems on this run, none at all.  In fact I had intended to take a shortcut home from downtown, but I felt great and kept going on the bigger loop.  This is a new run for me, and I’m sure I’ll be doing it again.  In fact, I have some ideas about how to extend it a bit, make it a few miles longer yet without running too much on high-speed highways.  We moved here a couple of years ago, and I’m finally starting to expand horizons.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

28 Miles in Four Days

Thursday, July 28, 2016:

I've had such fun this week.  Today I just goofed off, walking and running all over, including parts of the town that I had never explored before.  This included two quarter-mile (400 m) runs on the old high school track at a 10-minute per mile pace, lots of fast walking, and even more moderate walking.  I went about nine miles in about two hours and 20 minutes, an average  pace of 15 to16 minutes per mile.

Those two quarter-mile runs are the farthest I've run without walking in months, perhaps years.  Today was the perfect day to ramp up a little, overcast with temperatures in the mid-60's.  That's enough for a day or two - push too hard and injury will slow me down again.  I want to get stronger and faster.

Wednesday, July 27:

Exploring   I followed some trails that I've never seen before, and had a great time.  7.5 miles in 1:46:32, for a pace of 14:12.

Monday, July 25:

Last Friday I felt more than a little sluggish in a 6-mile walk/run.  Today was just the opposite - I did 11 miles and felt as good at the end as I did at the start.  Warm weather, nearly 80 with high humidity.  I carried water and took a couple of Clif Shot gels.

Splits: 6.04 mi + 5.09 = 11.13 mi in 2:38:45, pace 14:12.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Confident Run

Now that I'm way less concerned about a possible heart attack, I can focus on the other possible cause of the angina-like symptom, exercise-induced reflux.  So this morning I went out for a nice little four-mile run before eating or drinking anything at all, and had a wonderful time, running whenever I felt like it and otherwise walking as fast as I could.  I wore the heart rate monitor and saw a maximum rate of 130.

Whining:  No pains of any kind, neither the pseudo-angina nor the right knee.

Splits: 25:07, 25:09, total 50:16, pace 12:34.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Healthy Heart

My primary care physician called last night with the results of Monday's treadmill stress test with nuclear imaging.  As I remember what he said:

  • Nuclear scans showed no evidence of significant obstruction in any vessel of the heart.  This is a very good prognostic factor.
  • Whereas 9 minutes on the treadmill is good for a man of 75, I went 14 minutes, which is much more difficult and an excellent prognostic factor.  (The treadmill exercise increases significantly in both speed and incline every 3 minutes). 
  • The angina-like symptom could have been a clot that cleared by itself.  I doubt that, because it has lasted for months - I have notes back to April 20 at least, and even a note as far back as May, 2015. 
  • It could also be a small-vessel ischemia, not visible on the scans.  This could cause the feeling of angina (but perhaps would not be especially dangerous?).  Again, why does it go all the way back to April or last year? 
  • No reason to do an angiogram.  I agreed, especially since I know that an angiogram poses its own risks. 
  • No reason for medication.  Nitroglycerin, in particular, is not really a treatment for heart disease, but is prescribed to alleviate pain.  To me, the pain may be a helpful signal to back off. 
  • When running, it's OK to push until I feel the symptom, but then cut back until it goes away. 
  • He asked if I was taking any blood thinners, and seemed satisfied when I told him I was taking an 82 mg aspirin twice per day.  
  • He said that he would not be offended if I spoke next to a cardiologist.  I declined, but suggested I might like to get a second opinion on reading the scans.  He said that he and I could sit down and look through the images together, they are not difficult to read, and then I suggested that I might see if I can get a copy on DVD.  Perhaps I'll set up an appointment with him if I have questions after viewing the scans myself.
Though this is wonderful news, I understand that I might still have heart disease, despite the dandy "prognostic indicators."  However, I now believe that the most likely cause of the angina-like symptom is exercise-induced reflux.  Heartburn.  Indeed on one fairly recent run, a few minutes after feeling the symptom, some of my stomach contents did come up into my mouth.  No nausea, just reflux.

I think that dexamethasone (DEX) and prednisone make the reflux more likely, as does a recent meal, of course.  Looking back through my blogs, I find that every complaint about chest pain occurred while I was taking DEX, often (though not always) on the very day after I took it.  Although I haven't felt the symptom for two weeks now, I believe that it will appear again when I push harder, and I will take careful notes.  Can't wait to get out there and push a little harder.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Mad Dogs and Englishmen

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Go out in the midday sun.  Part of a song by Noel Coward.  I am indeed half English, actually two fourths to be precise, but this run wasn’t quite midday - more like 10:00 am.  Nevertheless the temperature was 82 with a dew point of 71, for a heat index of 85.  Full sun didn’t help - I would have preferred rain, and my running clothes got totally wet just the same.  Soaked with sweat.

This was a new route for me, about 4.2 miles plus a couple of extra exploratory excursions, making it 4.7 miles in 1:11:19, for a pace of 15:10, not bad at ALL considering the weather and the amount of time that I had to wait for traffic lights.  I’m not above jaywalking, but not across busy 55 mph 4-lane highways, thank you.

My pulse rate reached 130 at one point, a new high since I started using the monitor a few days ago.  This surprises me, because I have worked quite a bit harder in some other runs in the last week.  The previous high was 123.  Perhaps it’s the DEX - I took 12 mg of dexamethasone last night - a weekly dose that’s part of my myeloma treatment.  Perhaps the heat contributed too, with the resulting dehydration.

The good news - the angina-like symptom did not appear, and the right knee didn’t complain much either.

I did have a stress test yesterday morning at the hospital, with nuclear imaging, but don’t have the results yet.  Do I have serious heart disease or not? My sweeties and I anxiously await the answer.  I’ll post about it, of course.

Sunday, July 17:

Nice walk with A & S, exploring new routes within a mile or two of our house.  About 2.5 miles.

Saturday, July 16:

Hospital Loop With My Sweeties   We three walked one of my favorite routes together - four miles that take us past both the hospital and the doctor’s office, plus at least four (other) places where a person could take a nature break in an emergency.

They did really well today - as I slow down, I wonder if the day will come that we all want to go about the same speed.

Splits: 35:44, 37:58, total 1:13:42, pace 18:26.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Eight Miles Today

After six yesterday.  I went out to do a four mile loop, but felt very good after the four and just kept going for another four on a different route.  The weather was perfect and I certainly enjoyed the walk/run.

Heart rate: I wore the monitor again today.  The typical reading on the flat was about 105 beats per minute, declining slightly in the second four mile loop.  The highest reading I saw was 118, going up a rather steep hill and breathing pretty hard.  No hint of the angina-like symptom.

The right knee complained just a little, but under the kneecap, not in the joint.  A little return of PFS, I suppose - not enough to cause a slowdown.  All in all a very enjoyable run.

Splits: 27:46 (2 mi), 28:26 (2 mi), 14:23, 15:03, 15:05, 14:35, total 1:55:18, overall pace 14:25.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Six Miles at Race Pace

Thursday, July 14, 2016:

More or less.  We do have another marathon coming up in September, only about two months away now, so it's time to start stretching out the runs toward a 20-mile run a few weeks before the marathon.  Longer runs have been on hold recently because of the occasional angina-like symptom, but that doesn't appear unless I push fairly hard.

Indeed, it may have appeared today after I jogged across a street, but the symptom was faint and went away when I slowed a bit.  It didn't reappear during this run.  No other problems today - the knee was fine.

Stress test coming up Monday - we'll find out more about the angina-like symptom.

Splits: 28:06, 28:38, 14:30, 14:50, total 1:26:04, pace 14:21

Wednesday, July 13:

This is a new chapter in my training, the first serious resistance training in years.  No running at all, just resistance.  This regimen is still under development, but here is the list of exercises so far:

  • Stairs, 16 steps per flight, 10 flights per set, two sets.
  • Pushups, as many as I can do per set, two sets.  Today 22 in set 1, 15 in set 2.
  • Lateral arm raises, 10 lb weights, 15 raises per set, two sets.
  • Arm curls, 15 lb weights, 20 curls per set, two sets.
  • Hand grips, 20 squeezes per set, two sets.
  • Situps, 20 per set, two sets.
  • Standing stretches, four types, 12 seconds each, two sets.
This took about 30 minutes.  I got plenty sweaty and it raised my heart rate and breathing rate quite a lot.  Hopefully as time goes by I will be able to increase the amount of each the various exercises, and thus the total time.

Tuesday, July 12:

Yet another four miles on the hospital loop.  Cancer treatment (infusion) this morning, so the run was necessarily in the afternoon.  The temperature was 82 with bright sun, so I took it pretty easy, all walking, never running except across a few intersections.

Before the run I resurrected an old pulse rate monitor and put it on.  The highest heart rate I saw was 121, going up the steepest hill on the route.  A typical rate was 106, going fairly fast on the flat. Time was about 1:03:00, for a pace of about 15:45.  Good enough for a hot day.

Monday, July 11:

Another four miles.  No issues.

Sunday, July 10:

Four miles on the “hospital loop” with my sweeties.  They can really move along, too, though it wasn’t enough to cause my angina symptoms.  We took a few brief detours, and it took about an hour and a half.  I call it the hospital loop because it actually does go right past the hospital and, for extra credit, goes past my doctor’s office as well.

Saturday, July 9:

Four miles with George, the St Croix Valley Runners (walkers in this case).  No problems.  Took a little over an hour, actual distance probably about 4.1 mi.

Friday, July 08, 2016

Eight Runs

In the last two weeks, for a total of about 31 miles.  The angina-like symptom that appeared in the last marathon is still right there when I push hard, say faster than about 14 minutes per mile. I admit I'm a little afraid to push hard enough to feel it, because if it really is angina, it can precede a heart attack,

Indeed one of the runs was four miles at an overall pace of 13:36, and I definitely did feel the angina-like symptoms briefly at the end of the run, and for a few  minutes afterward.  I have a stress test scheduled, about ten days away now, and won't push so hard again until we get the results and a diagnosis.  Dr S, my primary, even suggested the possibility of stents.  Well, we have a ways to go before that.

Angina happens when the heart can't pump enough blood into its own arteries to meet its own needs.  Therefore, one of the complications could be related to my runner's heart rate.  Today I worked pretty hard, only walking, but sweating and breathing hard, finishing four miles at a pace of about 14:30.  I took my pulse rate several times along the way, and never saw more than 112 bpm, pretty slow for fairly strenuous exercise.  Assuming that I do have some narrowing of the coronary arteries, reducing the peak blood flow to the heart, I wonder if this low heart rate could contribute as well - the heart not beating fast enough to supply itself with enough blood.

Despite this complication we have scheduled three more marathons this year, starting in September. I expect to do them.  Currently at 97, that will take us to 100!  I hope it happens.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Vancouver USA Marathon Review

June 19, 2016:

This marathon is in the USA!  It's a lovely marathon, and I would do it again without reservation.  I especially appreciated the 7-hour time limit for marathoners, and the five-hour limit for half-marathoners.

My race:

My 97th marathon is in the books!  I finished in 6:53:44, just six minutes under the time limit and fourth of four in my age group, but I'm a happy man.  It's also just 13 minutes over my time for the next-most-recent marathon in Fargo, and I have plenty of excuses for the difference.

First, I was concerned about my right knee after the Fargo Marathon, and saw the sports doc, who wasn't sure if it was a slight fracture of the tibia or a tear in the meniscus. Neither is good.   He suggested that I stop training for the three remaining weeks leading up to this marathon, and I did that.  So my muscles weren't quite as well-prepared as they otherwise might have been.

Second, the weather was a bit warmer than I like it.  I started pouring water on my head (at aid stations) somewhere around the half-marathon mark.  Our rental car showed a temperature in the 80's after my finish, though I think the real temperature was probably in the high 70's.

Third and more  important, I had pain in both hips that did actually slow me down.  More about that in the "Whining" section below.


Fourth, possibly most significant, I will call the "heart issue," also detailed under "Whining."

Sometimes in a marathon I find someone going just my speed who likes to talk.  Not so in this race.  Mostly it was a solitary event, with a few exuberant supporters along the way, but not too many.  There were always a few other runners in view, either ahead of me or behind, but none to talk to.  No fault of the race - it seemed like everyone but me was wearing headphones, which I take as a message that they don't want to talk.  I don't wear them - I like to say that I'm pretty good company for myself.


This is where I detail the pains and possible injuries, real or imagined, for my record.  This is my log - I don't have any other record, and sometimes I do look back to see what has happened in the past.  I invite you to skip this part if you like.
  • The "Heart Issue."  Three times along the way, starting early in the race, I felt a heaviness in the middle of my chest, accompanied by an ache going down both arms.  It happened only when going uphill, and it went away when I slowed down or reached the top.   In fact it seemed like a pretty clear message this I should slow down.  I have no idea if this really is a heart issue, but will see my primary doc next week.  The problem disappeared in the later miles, even though those miles were hillier.  I should have noted my heart rate when it happened, but didn't.
  • The right knee: I was disappointed to feel some complaint from the right knee at 5 ½ miles.  I took a naproxen sodium liquid gel right away, and the knee pain disappeared within a mile or two, never to reappear in this race.  Now I don't know what to think about it.  I will get back in to see the sports doc next week.  He talked about an MRI - maybe it's time.  We didn't learn much in this race.
  • The left hip started to complain somewhere around the halfway point.  Sometimes in the past I have irritated a bursa by turning my body part way around to look behind me, and I think that may have happened.  It doesn't recover during the run or race, and then takes a day or two to recover after stopping, so we'll see.  I'm writing this on the plane the day after the marathon, coming home from Vancouver, and it still hurts if I press on it.
  • The right hip, not to be outdone, began to holler too, somewhere around mile 18 I think.  I suspect BOTH a problem with the ITB (I haven't been regular with my stretches), and a bursa on that side.  This actually became the worst pain in the later miles, slowing me a little.  A second naproxen capsule didn't seem to help.  Today it still hurts a little if I press on it, just like the left.
  • Otherwise just the normal tired muscles.  I understand aching calves and thighs, but why do my upper arms feel overused today?  I didn't walk on my hands!  Oh well, it's all part of the experience of running a marathon.
The Vancouver USA Marathon:

I loved the outdoor "Expo," with booths selling stuff that we never see at race expos.  The Expo, the start, and the finish are all in the same park in downtown Vancouver, and there is a farmers market on the other side of that park as well.  It seemed almost as if the race expo was an extension of the farmers' market.  We enjoyed downtown Vancouver WA.

The race itself is organized well.  Most of the way we didn't have to be concerned about vehicles, though there was a stretch between miles 10 & 13 (I think) where we were on the shoulder facing 55 mph vehicle traffic.  Furthermore, for most of that way there Is a perfectly good trail along the highway, on the other side, which in my opinion should be used instead of the road even though it might involve runners going both directions on the trail.  It's a wide trail - it would work.

The marathon and half marathon routes both included plenty of views of the mighty Columbia River, with its sailboats and ocean-going vessels.  Moreover, there are several good views of Mount Hood along the way.  We enjoyed a trip through Fort Vancouver, with its meticulously-maintained buildings, and finally over the Land Bridge, an artful pedestrian connection between the river and the fort.
Taken from a trail on the race course

One slip-up was the aid station at mile 23. When I got there it was completely abandoned.  The table was there, but no people, no water, no Gatorade, no cups except abundant used ones littering the ground.  We runners just kept going and found the next aid station at about mile 24.

As mentioned the temperature was a bit high, no fault of the race organizers of course.  When we asked our daughter what she liked best about the race, she replied "the shade!"  She's right - the half marathon course, which is also the second half of the marathon, has plenty of shade.  I especially liked the trails through the forest and along the Columbia.

All in all, I would happily do this marathon again.

Splits: 13:23, 13:03, 17:58 (major nature break), 14:19, 14:25, 15:54, 14:56, 11:59, 14:41, 15:07, 14:32, 14:55, 16:28, 15:17, 16:44, 31:58 (2 mi), 16:52, 16:31, 17:26, 34:00 (2 mi), 16:40, 16:46, 15:50, 20:12, 3:48 (0.22 mi), total 6:53:44.

Sunday, June 05, 2016

Knee Needs Rest

Thursday, June 2, 2016:

Doc suggested that I wait at least a week before any more training runs, substituting the bike and perhaps the elliptical trainer instead.  Whatever doesn't hurt.  This is my second visit with him about the knee, the first visit ending in x-rays which showed nothing wrong.  He thinks that the pain is in the joint itself, and may be: (1) a tear in the meniscus; or (2) a crack in a bone, likely the tibia.  Neither is good,  Either could benefit from a little rest.

Doc thought that I could actually rest until the next marathon, now about two weeks away, and still complete the marathon.  I have never failed to complete one, and will make every effort to complete this one, but I will most definitely stop and get a ride to the finish if the moment comes that I believe that I might incur permanent injury by continuing.

After that next marathon we will reassess, and I may visit the doc again for an MRI of the knee.

Before the doctor visit this morning I walked two miles at a fairly brisk pace, and then walked another mile from home to the doctor's office.  Perhaps the steroids had worn off somewhat, because the knee did hurt a little in that last mile, just the right amount to help the doctor figure it out.

Splits: 14:34, 15:27, total 30:01, third mile not timed.

Wednesday, June 1:

Slow and slower.  With a doctor's appointment tomorrow, I wanted to try to make the knee hurt today, so that it might hurt tomorrow in the doc's office.  I went two miles at a fairly easy pace, and then another two at a more marathon-like pace.

The knee only just started to hurt a little toward the very end, on a downhill stretch.  I was loaded with dexamethasone and prednisone, however, from the infusion the day before.  Both of those are strong anti-inflammatories, and may have masked some of the pain.

Splits: 18:35, 18:36, 12:37, 13:37

Saturday, May 28:

Knee Trouble   I waited a full week after the Fargo Marathon to go out on a run.  The first two miles went fine, but then I started to feel the pain in the right knee, increasing as I walked, so I headed back.  Now what?  Make an appointment with the sports doc ASAP.

11:18, 11:56, 1:36, 7:48, 9:58, total 42:35

Monday, May 23, 2016

Fargo Marathon Review

Saturday, May 21, 2016:

I doesn't get much better than this.  Fargo is a great marathon and I highly recommend it.  Despite the unseasonably warm weather I finished my 96th marathon in 6:40:44, ending up first in my 75-79 age group.  Alas I was also last in my age group of 1 runners, but I didn't finish last in the race, crossing the line ahead of 34 others. In fact, according to the official results, in the last six miles I passed 16 runners, walking as fast as I could, and was passed by just two.  This is the eleventh marathon in a row that I have finished between 6:00 and 7:00 hours, seven of them between 6:30 and 7:00.

The mighty Red River of the North

My Race: 

Most important, I had a great time in this marathon.  The weather was warmer than we would have liked, high 70's or low 80's toward the end, but with low humidity and a bit of wind I never felt as though I should slow down to avoid overheating.  I did carry my own water and was glad of it, especially toward the end of the race, refilling my bottle twice and taking at least 24 ounces from it during the race, in addition to water from cups at aid stations.  Also, in the second half of the race, I dumped a paper cup of water on my head at each aid station.
We ran through Concordia College
in Moorhead, Minnesota.  The bell
tower isn't leaning - the runner is.

During the race I took six Clif Shot gels and about that many salt tablets, plus a couple of capsules of magnesium taurate, 125 mg, to help avoid cramps.  Indeed there wes never a hint of a cramp during this marthon, quite unusual for me.

Whining:  The right knee started to complain at about mile seven. I took a naproxen sodium liquid gel at about mile nine, and another later in the race.  Those did seem to help - the knee did not slow me much.

The Fargo Marathon:

Just finished
This is the third time that we have come to Fargo to run this marathon.  We come back because it's so good, and it gets better each time.  Organization is excellent, and there really is a volunteer or a police officer at every intersection.  Several miles of the course are on paved bike trails along the mighty Red River of the North, some on the Minnesota side and some in North Dakota.  All of the rest of the race is on paved city streets, mostly under arching shade trees.  Most streets were completely closed to traffic, and those that were not closed to traffic simply had no traffic.  I never felt at risk from vehicles.

My girls finished the half marathon
It seemed as though the entire community of Fargo-Moorhead was involved in this marathon.  In the New York City marathon, spectators line the streets along the barriers.  Here, spectators sit in lawn chairs in the shade in their own yards, picnicking, partying, or just watching, children everywhere.  One little girl even brought her bunny out to watch.  I could have had as much iced tea as I wanted, just by asking, and I've probably never high-fived so many kids.  It really was fun.

This year the race started and ended in the FargoDome.  This worked perfectly, as far as I am concerned, offering excellent pre-race toilets (go upstairs for shorter lines), and a dry start if it had been raining.  The medal is impressive.  The expo was a nice-sized one.  Post-race food included ice-cold bottles of water, chocolate milk, and pizza.
Happy finisher

Signs along The Way:

  • "Turn around, it's a trap!" 
  • "Run faster - the Kenyans are drinking all the beer" 
  • "If Trump can run, so can you" 
  • "You run better than Congress" (this one is a continuing theme from many marathons ...)
  • "Runners will escape the Zombie Apocalypse" 
  • "GO random stranger, GO!"

The finishers, with friend Karin.
Photo by Josh
We passed literally dozens of bands sprinkled along the route, with a variety of music, a few  overamplified but most of them quite listenable.  At one point a Scottish musical group seemed to be preparing to play, so I stood facing them, hands on hips, until they did.  Then off, doing my best jig down the street.  I'm a Scot, after all.

Splits: 13:12, 13:40, 13:26, 14:03, 17:48 (nature break), 14:15, 15:31, 15:25, 15:13, 14:23, 15:49, 15:45, 14:15, 14:56, 31:46 (2 mi), 15:51, 15:01, 33:21 (2 mi), 15:54, 15:38, 15:21, 15:52, 15:45,  15:30, 3:08, total 6:40:44, pace 15:17.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Time Out

Monday, May 16, 2016:

Today’s four-mile run was cut short by complaints from the right knee, the right ankle, and the right quads.  None was enough to really slow me down, but any could be a problem in a marathon, and together they persuaded me to cut the run to two miles.

I mentioned this to Dr PK today, who said “you need to rest.”  That’s good advice, and that’s what I will do - I can’t hop a whole marathon on one leg.  No running or even fast walking until the marathon this weekend.  Maybe some cross training, upper body or core, but legs need to heal and my current myeloma regimen probably doesn’t help that because of the dexamethasone.

Splits: 14:02 out, 12:58 back (uphill / downhill).

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Four Miles No Problem

Today's route was just a little hilly, one of the usual Kwik Trip 2-mile out & back routes.  I felt a strange muscle pain in the middle of the right quads, but nothing in the right knee.  That's very good news.  Whatever is wrong with the quads will heal by next weekend - indeed it got better as I ran.

A knee can be a bit more of a problem, but the doc didn't find anything wrong with it and  today it felt fine.  Full speed ahead for the next marathon!

Two-mile splits: 27.24, 26.08, total 53:32, overall pace 13:27.  This is marathon pace.  Another 4 miles tomorrow.

Doctor Sees No Problem

Thursday, May 12, 2016:

The sports doctor examined my knee and had x-rays taken.  He remarked that the knee joints would be the envy of a man ten years younger.  He saw nothing wrong, with a meniscus of sufficient thickness.

Right Knee
X-rays don't show irritation or inflammation in the meniscus or another knee part, of course.  The doc seems to think that something was irritated in the last marathon and hasn't quite recovered yet, though we couldn't find a way to make it hurt today in his office.  Isn't that how it always goes?

I asked about taking a small amount of dexamethasone on the morning of the race, since DEX is a very potent anti-inflammatory and I take it anyway as part of the myeloma regimen.  He nixed that idea but said that an NSAID like ibuprofen might be OK if necessary.

The next day, Friday, we three went to the YMCA indoor track, as the weather was awful, and I stopped after two miles because the knee started to hurt just a little.  No sense annoying it with a marathon only a week away.

Mile splits: 12:45, 13:16, total 26:01, pace about 13 minutes/mile for two miles.

Wednesday, May 11:

Knee Pain Gone   Almost.  I ran (mostly walked) exactly the same hilly route that I had run on Monday, but this time very little pain.  Toward the end of the run I purposely ran downhill, rather than walking, to see if that would make it hurt.  It didn't.

Splits: 28:00, 29:00, total 57:00, pace 14:15.

Monday, May 9:

Oops - the right knee hurt after the first mile of this four-mile run, enough to slow me down. Switching to very long strides seemed to help a little, so I tried to do that toward the end.  But what about a 26 mile run?  Doctor appointment Thursday.

Time might be a little off, because I stopped at SMG for a nature break, and SMG is a little out of the way.

Splits: 27:12, 16:36, 13:41, total 57:31, pace 14:34

Saturday, May 07, 2016

Whining by the Numbers

Today I went to walk with the St Croix Valley Runners (& walkers) and found myself alone - plenty of runners but no other walkers.  So I took off at an 80% walking pace and went about 3.5 miles in 50 or 55 minutes.  No problems today except the right knee.  Here is the whole catalog of issues six days after the OC Marathon (this might be TMI - read at your own risk):

  1. Right knee: Pain appeared on the outside of the joint after the marathon, bothered for a few days and went away.  I felt it just slightly today but it went away after about 45 minutes. 
  2. Right ankle: Showed up at the foot after the marathon, bothered for a few days but only when walking fast, no problem today. R
  3. Right heel / Achilles' tendon: Bothered a little in the race, nothing since. 
  4. Blister on left big toe: Not much change.  It's between the two toes, and I don't understand what caused it - first time in 95 marathons.  It isn't healing fast (nothing does on my feet) but it's also not bothering at all.  Mostly I keep it covered with a blister patch wrapped around the toe, and I suppose I'll do that in the next marathon. 
  5. Left groin: For a few days after the race this felt like a sports hernia, but today when I do a situp it feels equally sore on both sides.  I don't know what it is, but it doesn't bother while walking fast, so it's probably not a problem.
Right now nothing in this list seems likely to interfere with running the Fargo Marathon in two weeks.