Thursday, March 31, 2016

Quick Four Miles

I'm tapering for the next marathon now, so the idea is to keep the muscles from forgetting last week's marathon.  To do that I don't do long runs, but I don't let up on intensity either.  I started out easy today but felt great and sped up a bit in the second two miles.

Splits: 24:12, 24:10, total 48:22, 4.0 miles, average pace 12:06 min/mi.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016:

Eight Miles.   Did I take four days off from running?  My last post was Friday, and I should have done a run on Easter Sunday, but don't have any record of one and don't remember one.  I did well today, though, starting out to do an easy 8-mile walk and ending up charging up hills.  This was the "day after DEX day," so I probably felt a little more energetic than I might otherwise have felt, who knows, but I did feel great.

Splits: 28:05, 29:09, 25:47, 25:59, total 1:49:00, 4.0 miles, average pace 13:37 min/mi.  First 4 miles 14:16, second 4 miles 13:01 despite the hills.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Beyond Recovery Run

Usually I try to get in a recovery run about three days after a marathon, but this time life intervened and today's run was five days after.  I felt great this afternoon, temperatures were in the mid-40's with sun and modest wind, so I had a great walk, running whenever I felt like it.

Splits: 24:30 (1.96 mi), 25:06 (2.04 mi), total 4.0 miles in 49:36, pace 12:34.  It'll do for today.

Life intervening: Wood Duck House

Male Wood Duck in tree.
Image courtesy Wikipedia
This is the time of year that the wood ducks show up in Minnesota.  They are arguably the most beautiful of all ducks, they roost in trees (yep), and they nest in a cavity in a tree created by some other creature, including and especially a "cavity" created for them by a human.  Mom wood duck manages to hatch all of her eggs at once, then stands on the ground and calls the chicks.  The fuzzy little newborns "fly" out of the nest, falling and bouncing unharmed to the ground one by one, and when she has collected them all she marches them off to a nearby lake or pond, where they will grow to adulthood.

Materials list available
upon request
Wood ducks were once endangered, almost extinct, but thanks to better hunting regulations and partly to thousands of artificial houses made by humans, they are now thriving.  It's a treat to have a wood duck family around, especially if you happen to be there to see the chicks come fluttering to the ground based on nothing but trust in their mother's call.  To persuade a mom to choose your nest box it has to be there in early spring, hence my urgency.

This morning I completed the construction of a nice new house within easy view of our living room.  Our neighborhood is a bit more urban than a wood duck might prefer, but maybe we'll get lucky and someone will like the nice new house anyway.  Not that she will care, but it's pretty much all cedar and stainless steel, so if there are no takers this year it will be there next year too.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Shamrock Marathon Review

March 20, 2016:

The last few miles of a marathon are always hard, and I can't wait to see the FINISH banner ahead, but the minute it's over I'm just as glad that I've done it.  Groaning and whining back to the hotel with sore muscles and sometimes an upset stomach, it's still good.  Am I happy that it's over, or happy that I accomplished it?  YES.  A shower and some comfort from my sweeties, and back atcha, plus gluten-free pizza, lots of water, and a little beer, then crawl in bed, and all is well.

Preparing for a windy, rainy race.
Today, the day after the race, I feel wonderful!  I even ran a little, though very little.  No sense getting injured.  We are already planning to add another marathon to our schedule, which would make it a total of six for the first half of 2016.  Two down and four to go, if all goes well.

My Race:

Marathon number 93 is delivered! I finished in 6:43:51, not my best time but not my worst, and I did finish first of two in my age group of men 75-79. I'm happy - my world is still round.  The best news of all: NO BACK PAIN! All of my leg muscles hurt for sure, more and more toward the end, and that comes with the program, but not a peep from the myeloma.  Big YAY!

The real story of this marathon was the weather. Temperatures in the high 40’s would normally be fine for running, but the screeching 20 - 30 mph winds and sometimes rain made it feel MUCH colder.  I wore four layers up top and was glad for all of them.  For at least ten miles we ran directly into that wind – I must say I've never climbed such a long hill, even though the roads are flat and there are no hills on the shore of Virginia Beach.  First day of spring indeed!

At Mile 12, facing the wind
I did not bring long running pants on the trip, nor did I shop for any at the expo, thinking that I wouldn't need them in temperatures above 40.  I didn't take the wind into account, though, so my sweet daughter loaned me a pair of capris, which helped a lot.  Very fashionable ones according to my friend Greg, with tongue planted firmly in cheek.

He and I connected and started running (mostly walking) together at about Mile 17 or 18, and finished together at 26.2.  He could probably have gone faster than I, but whenever I gave him a pass to take off ahead he stuck with me.  His company and our conversation  helped to take my mind off the muscle pain in the last miles.  Usually I experience that as muscle exhaustion, just weariness, but in this marathon it hurt - maybe because of the cold?  I did slow down a bit in the last five miles or so, and Greg slowed with me.  He seemed to enjoy the company too.  At Mile 25 we were at about 6:24 hours, as I recall, and I asked what the time would be in another 17 minutes at Mile 26.  He grinned "Hey, you're the engineer!"  We did solve the math problem, but this illuminates the fact that muscles are not the only body parts that can fade out after 25 miles.

Other whining: After the race, in the hotel room, I had a sharp pain on the outside of my right knee, possibly the ITB or a bursa.  It went away as soon as I took my dexamethasone (DEX), part of my Sunday night myeloma treatment regimen, and it didn't reappear.

The Yuengling Shamrock Marathon:

Yuengling is a venerable local brewery and has earned the "name title" as a sponsor of the race.  Shamrock is sort of the race theme - Irish because the race falls near St Patrick's day, I suppose.  It's easily one of the best-organized marathons I've ever seen, if not the very best, and that includes NYC and all of the Rock 'n Roll marathons, which are always well organized too.  I can't recommend it more highly.  It's FLAT as a pancake, save for one short bridge, and offers lots of great views of the Atlantic.

You can't blame the Shamrock Marathon for the weather.  The average weather for that date is perfect for a marathon.  Besides, we have a saying in our family, "Don't invite us to our marathon!"  Because stuff happens - we have stories.  I might write a book.

  • Sign: "What do you get when you cross poison ivy with a four-leaf clover?"
  • Next sign: "A rash of good luck."
  • Road sign: "Street may flood."  We were never more than 40 feet above the Atlantic Ocean in Virginia Beach.  Hurricanes happen.


Along the way quite a few runners came up to me and mentioned that they had seen me on Channel 10 WAVY  during their breakfast on race morning, before the race started.  That's one of the reasons I run marathons, not only for the pleasure of the travel and the running but to raise awareness about multiple myeloma. BTW it's Myeloma Awareness Month!  By all means take a look at the web site of the International Myeloma Foundation,  Just as important, I advocate for new, innovative treatments and for insurance coverage to pay for those.  My own campaign is on and, plus I am strongly affiliated with  Both organizations have goals that nicely match mine.

Insurance Companies BOO!

Insurance companies are increasingly trying to weasel out of paying for the newest, most-effective treatments.  They do this by requiring patients to try less-effective treatments first, or by charging their own customers as much as a 20% copay for the most expensive medications.  They know that many of their customers will not be able to pay that much, so they get off free, and then when the patient dies they have no further responsibility.  They don't care.  I'm a little incensed about this!  I think we all should be.  We pay premiums so that insurance companies will cover our backs, but they seem determined to cover their own instead, at our expense.

Seahawk Motel:

We have done this race twice now, and both times we stayed at the Seahawk Motel, nestled between the bigger hotels of the national chains, right on the "boardwalk" (long since paved in concrete).  Our room had a little kitchen, plus a balcony overlooking that boardwalk and the crashing waves of the big blue Atlantic.  I registered online, but I think I would have done them a favor by just calling, because they don't have their own web site.  Anyway you can't get the kitchen (the "efficiency" room) on the internet - you have to call, 757 428 1296.  I thought I had booked one, and was lucky they still had one when we arrived.  The SkyHawk is basic, clean, and reasonably priced.  We would go back in a flash if we ever do that race again.

Mile splits:

12:30, 13:09, 13:54, 13:27, 28:48 (2 mi), 18:21 (nature break), 13:56, 14:15, 16:40, 1:00:54 (4 mi), 15:22, 15:24, 17:17, 32:19 (2 mi), 14:48, 15:50, 16:11, 16:49, 16:53, 16:51, 17:17, 3:16 (0.22 mi), total 6:43:51, average pace 15:24.  Oh well.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Two Miles on the Boardwalk

We stopped for a photo at the WVEC booth in the
Expo.  Yes those are my hands holding up the frame.
They still call it the Boardwalk here in Virginia Beach, although it's wide, with nice railings, entirely paved with concrete, and has a separate paved bike trail.  The concrete still looks good, but the "boardwalk" clearly hasn't been boards for many years.  I ran here today.

Just a couple of miles, to remind my muscles one last time of the task that they are here to accomplish.  Now there will be no more run/walking until Sunday morning.

2.00 miles in 23:51 today, average pace 11:56 minutes/mile.  This was faster than I want to run in the marathon by about 2 minutes/mile, maybe three.  I do need to maintain an average pace of 16 in order to finish this race, and there are nature breaks and other possible delays, so 15 is a better target.  I did 14:33 in the last marathon.

We attended a party hosted by tonight, and met the president, Greg D. Lee.  Because LiveStrong is affiliated with dozens of marathons around the world, Greg believes that he might be of help to me at some point in the future, maybe even this weekend.  I have his card and will not hesitate to call if I think that he could help.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Four Miles the Other Way

Usually I run from our house toward the west and north, on local roads and trails, often a loop.  This time I ran to the east and north, another measured 4-mile loop, though a bit hillier, with excursions of 100 feet up & down and with busier roads and a few traffic lights.  I do enjoy those hills in training, if not so much in an actual 26-mile marathon.

Nice, cool run today, low 50's, cloudy, and 97% humidity, almost foggy.  No problem, no whining.  I took 40 mg of dexamethasone (DEX) last night, part of my new cancer protocol, so I felt full of energy and ran more than I might have  otherwise.  DEX isn't good in the long run, because it sort of dissolves muscle, but it's on the menu right now and what I need to do to stay alive.

Mile splits: 12:49, 12:44, 12:37, 12:46, total 50:56, 3.98 miles, average pace 12:48.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Another Lovely Day

And another fast run (for a 75 year-old with cancer).  66 degrees, tied with the record high for the day.  The track at the YMCA is nice in the slippery winter, but I sure do love to run outdoors, and the weather has been unusually accommodating lately.

I intended to walk the whole four miles today, because a marathon is coming up and a running injury is possible.  I couldn't resist the temptation, though, and ran up some hills and down some gentle slopes, running whenever I felt like running.  I probably ran almost as much of the distance as I did on Tuesday, but my average pace was slower because some of this run went up a 55-foot staircase and because I stopped along the trail to chat with my sweeties for a minute or so.

Whining: None.  Fine run.

Splits: 24:55 (1.90 mi + staircase & chat), 24:43 (2.04 mi), total 49:38, average pace 12:32.

Wednesday, March 09, 2016

Sixteen Miles the Easy Way

Tuesday, March 8, 2016:

Four today, four yesterday, and eight the day before that, all outdoors.  These miles felt good - I'm about ready for a marathon.

70 degrees today - a new Twin Cities record for this date.  We've had three lovely days in a row, with temps well above the usual for early March.  On average, in fact, March is the second snowiest month of the year, just behind February.  I have thoroughly enjoyed these warm days, running today in a short-sleeved shirt and shorts.

I went a bit faster today than I usually do, walking as fast as I could and running whenever I felt like it, maybe a quarter or a third of the four miles.  Because of that extra running my pace was 11:51, which would finish a marathon in 5:10 if I could sustain it for 26.2 miles.  Not now.

Splits: 23:42 (1.96 mi), 23:44 (2.04 mi), total 47:25, average pace 11:51.

Monday, Mar 7:

Four miles, no problems, great day.

Splits: 25:22 (1.96 mi), 27:57 (2.04 mi), total 53:19, average pace 13:20.

Sunday, Mar 6:

Eight miles outdoors.  Just a little backache, felt like tired muscles.

Splits: 26:15 (2.04), 27:29 (2.02), 25:40 (2.00), 27:59 (2.04), total 1:47:22, average pace 13:15.

Thursday, March 03, 2016


For more than a week I've been taking a little bit of dexamethasone (DEX) to control pain from the myeloma (or from the treatment).  DEX is not part of my current treatment protocol though, so I tapered down to zero three days ago, and the pain in my back is minimal to none.  I never even thought about it on today's walk/run.

I didn't feel like rushing today, so no running, just speed walking.  I did have a minor complaint from the right knee, but I'm not worried about it.  Nice walk.

Mile splits: 13:00, 12:52, 12:41, total 38:33, average pace 12:51.

Tuesday, March 01, 2016

Shorter and Faster

After yesterday’s nice four-mile run I felt like going a litter faster today, for just three miles.  I walked 10 laps of each mile and ran three, with a resulting pace of 11:37.  That time would finish a marathon in just over five hours, and it’s a lot faster than I need to go (or could go).  But it felt good today.

Mile splits: 11:41, 11:38, 11:31, total 34:50.

Monday, Feb 29, 2016:

After a good 12-mile run Saturday I was still a little tight today, so I speed-walked four miles, running just one of the 13 laps in just the fourth mile.  This “run” felt good, no whining at all.

Mile splits: 13:25, 13:25, 13:34, 12:35, total 53:00, average pace 13:25.