May 30, 2006


Decent run this evening. Two and change. Big goal was simply not to STOP, not to walk. Mission accomplished. I was in pain pretty much the whole time, but I tried to use the run as a way of gauging what might be causing my shin pains. I concluded that most of it is just fatigue in the muscles and tendons, but I have no idea why they'd be pulling this crap after almost 20 months of running. Another factor might be how tight the muscles are, which I can work on if I'll keep focused on it.

I did discover that I hurt more if I went slow, while the pain seemed to lessen if I went faster. Weird. Towards the end of the two miles, the pain was almost gone; after fifteen minutes of stretching on the steps, the pain WAS gone and my legs actually felt GOOD in a way I haven't felt in a few weeks, running or not. Could this be an upswing in things? I hope so.

It's amazing how my mood changes depending on how a run went or is going. Prior to today's run, I looked down the road to November 7th darkly, wondering how in hell I was even going to start a modest training cycle. But after this evening's run, I feel more positive and will have to spend some time this week putting together a training plan. I am planning to start my official marathon training this coming Sunday.

May 28, 2006

I am struggling over here

Son of a bitch! Can't a guy get a break?

Went for what would presumably be eight miles in my new shoes. That didn't happen; neither did a full 6.7 loop. For whatever reason, my shin pains were just killing me today. I didn't expect new shoes to be miracle workers right out of the box, but I am definitely getting into trouble out there.

The run ended up being broken into half a dozen short jogs of 1/2 to 1/8 of a mile, with lots of walking, stretching, and adjusting of shoes in between. By the time I got to the end of the third mile in the park, I'd just had it. I was not only unable to make the shin pains go away, but new pin in the sides of my lower legs was beginning to happen. This was just a bizarre, unhappy run on what should have been a great day for a jog. :(

The shoes themselves are not the problem, I don't think. I already like these better than the 992s as no matter how I adjusted them, my heels stayed firmly in the heel cup, without the vertical lift like with the 992s. The soles bend better, even with the stiffer shank, and it didn't feel like I was running with boards on my feet. Though I never got the shin pains to go away, I attempted to do so many times by stretching and by adjusting my shoes. I tried tighter lacing, looser lacing, with insoles and without. And though the pain didn't recede, I did discover that I don't like running without the insoles. It makes for a tighter fit, sure, but the shoes are only what I would call snug, not tight. My heel and mid-foot are gripped firmly and my toes still have some wiggle room. Without the insoles, my feet kept slipping down the slope of my orthotics on every step, even with tight lacing. So...I loosened up the laces quite a bit, put the insoles back in, and slid the tongues over to one side. (I think that lacing that's too tight over the arch might be contributing to these shin pains.)

What has saved today from being a total waste was in getting in some speed work AFTER giving up on the running. I walked down to C-town, got groceries, and headed toward the bus stop. I noticed one idling and the last couple people getting on about 40 yards away and broke into an easy sprint. I got on the bus, sat down, and realized I had not one twinge during those ten seconds or so. Nothing. And my heart rate barely rose in response.

Curious what would happen, after I got home I went out again to begin what I will call an actual speedwork program. Fartlek and tempo runs are good and all; but I get the feeling nothing takes the place of measured interval training. I decided to start small and I'll work up to longer speed training days over the next couple of months. Speed training will help me more now than later. I did two reps of about 150 yards, with easy jogs back to the beginning. As I had no measured course, no stopwatch, no GPS or anything, I just ran the length of my block, going at a near-sprint. Sooner or later, I'll have to get a stopwatch and do this right, but for now, just building up to many sets of 400-meters will be good. My neighbor upstairs has a measuring wheel that I'll borrow some night this week and really figure out some distances. This little workout was quite difficult, by the way. I haven't sprinted those distances in a very long time. And....even after those few minutes, which earlier in the day would have had my shins screaming - NOTHING. No pain. Now how fucked up is that?

May 27, 2006

I am wet

Before I get into today's thoughts, I would be cruel to not spread the word about Crumpler's Beer 4 Bags promotion. No, I'm not their shill; I just intend on taking advantage of the deal.

I just got back from a short bicycle ride, hitting several stores I need to visit this weekend only to be disappointed that two of the five are closed due to the long holiday. There goes my plans of internally wiring my motorcycle handlebars this weekend (bars at waiting at the dealership: closed). On to other things I guess.

The weather is really getting warm - too warm. A few days ago, it was 45 degrees in the a.m. Now it's 82 degrees outside. Before my bicycle ride was over, I had sweated through my shirt. I'm tired today. I got plenty of sleep last night and maybe it was too much.

Well, I'm taking a mental day off - it's been a tough couple weeks of work and it isn't going to let up for the next three weeks. And starting at the end of this coming week, I need to get my marathon training program in gear. That'll give me five months to train up. But I have worries. I have a lot going on and it doesn't feel like enough time to give to training. And my physical condition is not where I'd like it to be for the start of a training cycle.

Let's back up to last night. I got home after leaving work at 7 p.m. still determined to get a run in. Clouds were gathering as I stepped out at 8:15. I had 45 minutes to do the four-mile route to the grocery store - I didn't make it; not even close. For whatever reason, this roun was not good. It wasn't BAD, per se, but I had to take several short walk breaks and stretch breaks - I just couldn't work the pain out of my shins. Yes, the shin pain is back. What the hell?? The 992s seem to be the problem, but maybe they're only part of the equation. I mean, inadequate stretching or wrong stretching might be a part, lack of TKE's might be a part....but mostly it's the shoes. They just felt like heavy boards again last night and I wondered how could it be that I ran so brilliantly last weekend yet a simple four-miler at an easy pace felt like the tail-end of the Hell's Marathon?

Add to that the increased temperature and humidity and it was also getting hard on my lungs. I was hocking up more gunk than I have in a couple of months. Breathing was not a problem of itself, but the gunk is a sign of things to come, I'm afraid. I've started back on my TOBI but I assume it will take a couple of weeks to kick in and suppress any growing infection, if it is even effective at all. There is a distinct possibility that TOBI just doesn't work on my bugs any more. Well, I've got a doc appt in two weeks and will address things then. I'm not afraid to go on IVs - whatever it take to get me to the finish line on November 7, right? But if I'm now at the stage of things where I'm looking at multiple-agent IVs every three to four months...then I'm looking at a Port, too.

Anyway, back to last night's run. After two and half miles, I was in real pain and it had started raining lightly. I knew it was wiser to cut the run short at that point. I turned at Ocean and headed straight up Prospect Avenue toward the F line. On the way up the hill, it started to pour. I went from sweaty to moist to soaked in a couple of minutes. I had to remove my eye protection as I could no longer see and I just kept trudging up the hill. It only rained hard for a few minutes and by the time I got to Pritchard Square, it had slackened to a sprinkle, so I walked home from there. My calf - which had held up for the first couple of miles just fine - was now starting to feel like it did after Healthy Kidney 10K. Reinforcement that walking home was wiser than running home.

Along the way, I picked up a quart of vanilla ice cream and some chocolate syrup. I'm now drinking my home-made nutri-goo shake and it is much improved, though perhaps TOO chocolatey now. (Is there such a thing?) But the vanilla icecream has really helped with the texture and taste.

Anyway, last night was a difficult, disappointing run. Mostly, I'm disappointed in myself and I totally feel like a poser. I don't WANT to sound like I'm making excuses! I hate blaming all these external factors and feel that if I were just a stronger person I could... what? Run through the problems? *sigh*

Let's look at the upside: we now know that 992s are NOT 991s, that the change between the two models is substantial. I ran through two pairs of 991s and both pairs served me well, but the 992s just haven't worked out. So, taking Beast's advice, I went to Jackrabbit sports today and had them fit me up with a pair of shoes that might serve me better. The first guy I'd talked to a couple weeks ago was busy, but I noticed he kept an eye on me and Andrew, the kid helping me. Andrew didn't seem as knowledgeable, but with the other guy keeping an ear out, I felt like this would be a good purchase.

Andrew got me on the treadmill and we looked at my gait. We talked about what isn't working in my current shoe and what did work in my past pairs. I pointed out how the custom orthotics are supposed to help and we started trying on shoes. The first change he suggested was to look to the women's sizes. He couldn't believe how narrow my feet are (size A, realistically) and said women's narrows are proprotionally narrower than men's narrows. OK. We tried a neutral Aasics shoe: that felt pretty good, especially on the treadmill. He wanted me to try a more stabilizing shoe and I could feel a real difference - firmer in the shank, but still flexible enough on the roll-to-the-toe that my heel wasn't leaving the heel cup. We moved up a size to give my toes more room. Again, my heels stayed put in the shoes and Andrew asserted that more room in the toes could only help. He looked doubtful when I took a fifth run on the treadmill with the insoles put in on top of my orthotics - which is how I customarily wear all my shoes - but while the shoe was definitely a tighter fit, they still felt great. I will try running with and without the insoles, but suspect I'll run with them - they keep my toes from feeling the end of the orthotic, which can be irritating.

The shoes are a pair of women's Brooks Adreniline 6's, white, black, and silver with teal accents. Teal! The only other thing I own of that color is a Vari-Lite jacket and that was free. Well, I've said it before, I'll say it again: whatever it takes to get me to the finish line on November 7, right?

Tomorrow is supposed to be an eight-miler, a run up to the park and then two easy-pace laps. Looks like I'll have to get to bed early and get up early if I'm to avoid suffocating heat. I really need this to be a good run.

May 25, 2006

this and that

Item: Calf update: only minor twinges this morning; feeling fine since noon. Guess I could've run this evening, but something tells me not to push it, give it one more day. My weekday evenings are pretty full and I barely get enough sleep as it is. So I'm feeling only a little guilty that I'm putting off my next run 'til tomorrow. I'm hoping to get home a little early tomorrow, too. Or maybe, if I can drag my ass out of bed an hour earlier, do it in the morning...before the rain hits.

Item: Healthy Kidney photos are out. This is the only one of me, but I think it's a good photo. For the first time, I actually look like I'm running - i.e. only one toe on the ground. For some reason, a mid-stride action shot is important to me. The reason it looks like I'm all twisted up is because I'm about to dodge around the girl two steps in front of me. She stopped running at the first mat; I always push it to the second mat. I'm happy with my PR....but I want to be able to start at the back of the pack and still finish before the finish-line clock hits 1:00:00.

Item: Weight gain is a bitch. Its been made clear to me that the best pan-sector indicator of morbidity in Cystic Fibrosis is body weight. The more underweight one is, the higher the probability of more lung infections, more severity during exacerbations, poorer recovery, and poorer prognosis at transplant. Heck, if you don't meet a certain BMI, they won't transplant you. So...I have a very simple goal: get my BMI up to 22. I currently rank a whopping 19.37. (BMI=weight in Kg/height in meters squared.) To get to a 22, I need to weigh 136 pounds. I need to gain 16 pounds. Why am I worried about this at all, when I have hovered five pounds above/below 120 for half my life? Because I lost over seven pounds training for the Cincinatti marathon and I can't afford that again. I need to get my weight up, run enough to turn most of it into muscle (fast muscle I hope), and keep it up throughout training.

Item: Weight gain is a bitch. I purchased a jug of GNC's Weight Gainer 2200. It is supposed to provide 2200 calories per serving. Well, a serving is a whole hell of a lot. I bought a blender and the blender can't quite hold it all. Making 2/3 serving is easier and probably better. I use 2 cups of whole milk, 2/3 serving of Weightgainer, and a banana. After a goodly amount of time at "super annihilation" speed, the mixture is a creamy peanut-butter-banana-chocolate smoothie. And pretty disgusting, though it's far better than other nutrional options. I'm going to try adding in some vanilla icecream and some chocolate sauce as well. I have discovered that the half I save for when I get home at night, after getting very cold in the fridge, is quite good.

May 24, 2006

I am a recruiter.

heh. Looks like I've become a recruiter for this cult of ours. Wish my recruiting skills for the Cystic Fibrosis Running Team were as good.

Come on, Lora,.... if you're selected, come on in, the water's fine. You'll not find a better town to run, a more supportive crowd (ok, maybe Boston and the girls of Wellesley), or a more fun Sunday. And I PROMISE the hills are nothing like Nashville's!

May 22, 2006

I am injured

Like Phil, I am injured. I didn't notice right after the 10K, but once the subway dropped me off at my stop in Brooklyn, I definitely noticed a couple of sore spots when levering myself off the bench. I thought it was just post-race goodness.

The next morning, I thought it was still just more post-race goodness, but the fact that the one spot deep in my right calf seemed to have gotten worse didn't register. It did this morning, tho! The walk to the subway was unpleasant and slow. Managed to "walk it off" over the course of the day, but the little lump of pain is still there. It feels like a small tear deep in the muscle tissue, or maybe a strain there. (Did I overdo it during post-race stretching??) It doesn't hurt when standing still or sitting, but walking confirms there's a problem.

Oh, well. Guess I'll take a couple more days off from running and see what develops. If my calf still feels like this at the end of this week, I guess I'll make an appointment to see Dr. M.


Chelle thinks I can knock down my PRs on the half and marathon. I feel confident that with good training and the same good luck I had last weekend, I could definitely knock my half-marathon time to a flat two hours. However, speed training and getting back to my TKE weight training (for the lower legs) MUST be a part of that program. Of course, all races and all training from here on out have as the ultimate goal a good run at the NY Marathon. Can I do a sub-5-hour marathon? You bet. Could I break 4:30? Well...that's the gold medal, isn't it?

May 20, 2006

I am vocal; I am satisfied; I am fast!

Last night - I wanted to run. I wanted to run THEN and would have, surely, if I didn't have the Healthy Kidney 10K to run this morning. And more than I wanted to run last night, I wanted to have an outstanding run TODAY. So I listened to my running mix and bided my time. I got into bed too late, but I don't worry about that anymore, since it seems it's only important to get enough sleep the night BEFORE the night before a race.

And let me be clear: I was definitely going to be racing this one. Taking a cue from another blogger (Chelle maybe), I had bronze, silver, and gold-medal goals. I didn't look up my PR but believed it to be last year's Healthy Kidney, which I conquered with some other fellow's help in just a shade over 63 minutes - 10 minute miles, basically.

I have had my eye on this race for four months. Since going on IV's in February, I have looked forward to this race. Since the Nashville Half, I have looked no further down the road than this race. Every run I've put in for the last couple months (and there weren't enough I admit), I have put in to train for this race. This is a big benchmark for me. And considering the large success of four of my last five runs - I woke up this morning with one singular thought: set a new PR. that's it. No other goals mattered.

True, the "bronze" goal still existed - run strong, run long, two or less walking breaks of less than 50 paces each. Two or fewer water breaks. 10:30 miles or better or 65 minutes or so; comfortable and steady w/ concessions to lung condition. Silver - one water break max, no walking, though slow stretches would be acceptable; steady and strong, work up a good sweat; whole thing feel "better than average." Gold: strong, fast, continuous; work harder than the runners around me; set a PR. Set a PR. Set a PR.

Subway into Manhattan; yogurt, powerbar, and coffee: breakfast of champions. I had in the back of my mind a plan to run home after the race or at least down to Manhattan Bridge, so everything I brought was disposable: jacket, bag, old gloves, leaky water bottles, etc. I could easily just munch a Hammer nutrition bar after the race, down the Recoverite, and toss the bag. (Run home didn't happen - too pooped.) I was running with the minimum clothing; again, no fuel, no hydration, no cell phone. Shorts, long-sleeve shirt, shades, and shoes. Magic underwear. I even left my hat behind in the bag.

Got to Central Park with barely enough time to drop off my bag and find an empty john. In fact, the horn sounded as I stepped out. The crowd took some time to clear out (I heard the announcer say "we're already five and a half minutes into the race and runners are still crossing the start line!") I waited until the entire crowd had crossed the start line before approaching. I stood back about fifty feet from the start and just stood there, waiting for the slower crowd up ahead to get some distance ahead of me. I focused my thoughts, got a running start, and began the race at the pace I wanted and uncrowded. I did not note my start time.

I immediately started passing people, of course. But that didn't taper off; I kept passing people the whole race! I was at mile two before I knew it; felt like maybe 1.5 miles. I was already thirsty, but didn't stop for water. Just kept pushing. The worst hills were coming up in the next two miles. Lucky for me, Nashville's hills were worse (or felt like it) and I just pushed right up the hills - sped up in fact. I also used the downhills to stretch my stride. My pace gradually increased as the race wore on. I passed runner after runner, though it became harder to catch the next one.

After topping the major uphill in the Harlem end of the park and starting south on the East drive, I was feeling pretty beat. I'd just passed the 5K mat but again didn't notice the clock and wondered what my splits would be. I was feeling hungry and weak and the memory of Steve Runner's hurling during the Boston Marathon made me gag, too. I tried not to think about regurgitation, dry-type or not.

Just after the 4th mile marker, when I was thinking that was the longest damn mile 4 I'd ever run, I spied a bean-pole of a woman standing atop one of the wooden posts of the low fences holding aloft a blood-red pom-pom in her right hand and what had to be the brightest white pom-pom ever in her left hand. The red and white blazed out at me and I had been looking for them. I shouted "Uptown Girl!!" as I went by and heard her cheering me and the other runners on. "Woo-hoo!" I shouted. Thanks for the cheering, it's what I really needed at that point.

From then on, I was much more vocal in this race, giving voice to my thoughts and drawing more energy from them. It especially helped to do so on the downhill just before reaching the fifth mile marker, which was across on the next uphill. "Only one tenth of a half marathon to go!" I belted. Silly way of thinking about 1.3 miles maybe, but I was wearing down and wanted to get this race done in the same mode I'd done the previous five miles: strong and fast. I'd also been in two-two breathing mode since mile 3 and now even that was not enough: I needed oxygen. I needed to slow down -- but the race was now only a mile from the end! How I could I give in now??

Finally, I rounded the bottom of the park and saw a blessed sign: 800 Meters To Go. 4/10 of a mile. Push it. Push it now; finish strong. "Finish strong."

"Finish strong [breathe in] finish strong! [breathe in] FINISH STRONG!" Breathe, vocalize, breathe, vocalize. I think I spurred on a couple of people around me to run faster. I wanted to button this thing up with a finishing kick. At 400 meters to go and with the finish line in sight, I was able to ramp up my speed even further, though not to a sprint.

I crossed the finish line and let out a last "UGH!" I felt like I'd been punched all over. My mouth was coated and - ah, yes, here it comes - the coughing fit that hit me had me staggering to the side of the chute to hang on to a rail while my lungs did what they do. (I'm used to this finishing coughing fit, by the way. I can run six miles with only minor coughing and no fits, but as soon as I stop, the coughing hits hard and fast and takes a while to stop.) Someone became concerned and I became aware of a hovering presence at my elbow - someone short, squat, and in blue - a race official perhaps, or one of the EMTs. I caught my breath and straightened up and turned: it was Dr. Maharam! He had a look of genuine concern in his eyes. I took off my shades so he might recognize me easier and explained it was merely my CF. He nodded vaguely and encouraged me to keep walking, keep the muscles moving. I smiled at him and told him I think I set a PR! Then walk I did for the next ten minutes while I retrieved my stuff, sucked down Recoverite, and waited for the raffle ( spa for me.)

I failed to clearly note my finish time, too. I feel fairly certain I set a PR, but have NOT YET CHECKED. I didn't do the math in the park, didn't turn to others who finished with me and ask about the clock. I didn't look it up even once I got to the (brand-new) Apple Store on 5th Ave. (By the way, check out the entrance - awesome.) I go shopping for food, come home, shower, take a nap, go to Brooklyn Harley...and still haven't check online how I did.

Let's check it now, shall we?

And the survey says: I AM THE GOLD-MEDAL WINNER FOR TODAY!!! Yes, I did it! I set a new personal record of 57 minutes, 42 seconds! That's a 9:18 pace, kids; more than five minutes off my old 10K personal best. This is going to be a hard one to break, but not impossible. I know I can run this faster; it will take focused speed-work. I may even have to get to a track. I know I can break a 9:00 pace, eventually. Also, for the record, I started the race at 6 minutes, 45 seconds. My 5K split time is 35:59 by the clock, so 29:14 by the chip. Which MEANS...negative splits!

Oh, ad I saw NYFlyGirl after the race. I asked her how she did. "50/50" she replied. 50/50? Is this a new kind of performance term I haven't heard before? Took me a minute to realize the said 50:50 - she didn't look too pleased by this, but then she's always one of the fast ones. Heck, she whooped my time pretty good, didn't she?

I'm planning on doing the brand-new New York Half Marathon in August, the Mets Run to Home Plate, the Fifth Avenue Mile, maybe the Bronx Half, definitely the Staten Island half, and of course - in November - the next big goal: the NY Marathon! This race has left me with two thoughts about that: one, I have it in me to train up and run a strong race, particularly with my CF doctor's help; and two, I have a long, long way to go in training.

May 17, 2006

I am cookin' with gas

Awesome awesome awesome awesome awesome run. After putting off the run I'd intended to do this morning (I'm having a CF day), I did the run this evening after work. Really felt strong the whole way, even given a break at the Harley dealership to get some part numbers and a few short walk breaks. It felt like it had the rhythm of an interval workout, though I've never done one of those. Anyway, I ran a fast paced workout 5.5 miles, even tackled the big hill in Prospect Park with focus and intensity.

of course, just as I think I'm all kinds of wonderful and getting into the rhythm of the slap-slap-slap of my feet up the hill, I begin hearing slap-slap-thump-slap-slap-thump, then slap-thump-slap-thump, and to my utter disbelief got passed by another runner headed uphill who went by me like I was standing still! And I wasn't...I was running faster up that hill than I've run any hills in the last few months. That was a little humbling. But I continue on up and finished the hill with a enough "go" to finish the run strongly.

I really have to plan more runs that end on a long downhill; what a great way to round out the last half mile or so.

Anyway, no pain in the legs, feet, shoulders, back, or joints. No stomach distress. Didn't even really warm up; just RAN. Any distress or strain I was feeling was the good kind, the kind that signals real training is going on, that I'll feel this run tomorrow for sure, but that today - TODAY at least - I was strong, I was in good form, I was a real runner.

The shoes still feel a little loose in the heels and stiff in the soles, but they're beginning to break in, at long last. And no bleeding today! (A little dry heaves, tho.) So that's all good.

I feel very satisfied by this run and - yes, Beast - despite my current passle of job-related tensions, I am very very relaxed right now.

May 16, 2006

I am discombobulated

Even the homeless have gone upscale! As I walked down Broadway today near 96th, I encountered a homeless man bumming change outside a Starbucks. "Hey, man, can you spare five dollars so I can get a coffee?"

Humbling headline seen on

  Toughest man in the whole goddamn world climbs Everest despite losing both legs in previous climbing accident

May 14, 2006

I am dissatisfied

...with today's performance.

A month ago, I was toying with the idea of doing today's CityTri duathlon held in Prospect Park. Even last night, I was toying with the idea; not fully committed, but prepared enough that I stripped my bicycle of its rack and lights. Well, 5 a.m. rolled around and I really didn't feel like getting up. I have not slept well this weekend; I am concerned about these 992s; I wasn't too thrilled with the weather. The clincher was that I didn't want to do anything to screw up next weekends Healthy Kidney 10K. Until that race is over, everything is optional and sticking to game plan is sacrosanct. Moving up to duathlons will have to wait.

But I also didn't do my long run, either. I'd planned eight miles, but found it the most supremely difficult task just to get out of the house today. The weather affects my energy level more than I'd like it to. But out I did get, again taking nothing with me but the bare essentials. I decided to take the subway to the park and do one good-effort loop and then run down to C-town to get groceries. A 4-miler as a compromise, see?

On the way to the subway, I tried one of the new Accel Gels, the Strawberry-Kiwi. This is gross, this product is. Let's start with the unappetizing puke color. It is an unpleasant shade of barbie-skin pink and is opaque, not translucent, like you expect gels to be. The taste is definitely strawberry-kiwi, but with a chemical aftertaste that had me scraping my tongue with my teeth afterward. Nasty. But it is possible it did it's job, as I had plenty of energy later. On the other hand, that could have been the regular coffee I had while in the subway. (It was only mid-50s out and I wore shorts and a long-sleeve t, nothing else to keep me warm.)

The run itself was a solid performance. Not great, not even good, but OK. My coughing is up and so is sputum production, but only a minor bit. The park was uncrowded and my run was steady and consistent (which is very important, I think). The big hill didn't slow me down and in fact, the 3.35 mile loop felt more like two miles. THAT is a good sign! I ran on down to C-town and proceeded to get some dinner-type foods.

Shoes. During the run, I concentrated on what was happening down in the foot area. I discovered that my ankles are practically leaving the shoe. Remember, I'd loosened the lacing in a previous run and that alleviated the shin splints. But now, something is too loose. Because of this, I'm not breaking the midline of the sole and getting the shoes comfortable - with my ankle going up, the sole is free to remain rigid and un-broken-in. OK. After the run, I adjusted the lacing a bit to be a little tighter in the ankles and I think my next run will show some improvement in how the shoes feel.

Doesn't matter. After the 10K, I'm going in to JackRabbit sports on 7th ave and getting my run analyzed and have Tim or Todd help me find a pair more suited to my feet.

After groceries, I went shopping at PepBoys for the items needed to start stripping and re-painting my motorcycles tank and fenders. That took some time and when I stepped out - the sun had finally appeared. My mood noticeably improved; I wish it had come out earlier.

May 13, 2006

3 in a row

Another good run tonight. This is the first time I've run three days in a row since...well, ever. I think this is a first for me. Tonight's run wasn't long, just a little over a mile, but it was very very strong, finishing up at a pace just short of a sprint, a pace I held for nine blocks. Probably somewhere around 7:15 pace. The entire mile couldn't have been over 10 minutes (slower start). My strides were long and my foot placement sure. (I wish the shoes would hurry up and break in already! They still feel like boards.) And the last six or seven blocks were especially nice, as I finally achieved "flow" - that rare moment in running when it just becomes perfect and effortless and time itself warps. I've only experienced that once or twice before.

May 12, 2006

A mid-week 10K

What a great run; what a GREAT fuckin' RUN! last.

As noted in my previous post, I am sick again - a cold or something. Enough that I can break the seal on those precious little orange capsules called Dayquil. Combine that with the octane boost of a small coffee and I was in hyperspeed and feelin' good right around 6 pm. I decided on the way home I'd go out for a run, probably the 6.7 mile loop up to Prospect Park.

Then I realized my running clothes weren't dry; so I popped them into the dryer and while waiting for them to get a lot less damp, I realized I'd meant to go to my friend's graduation party (she got her MA from NYU). And something clicked: I'd RUN to the bar! The place, called Butter, is on Lafayette just down from the Public Theatre. gmaps pedometer puts it at 6.2 miles from my house. Groovy. As I waited for my clothes, I listened once more to the beginning of Steve Runner's podcast about the 110th Boston Marathon - he starts it with a reading of Phedippedes' heroic race from Marathon to Athens. Quite inspiring.

I slipped into my running clothes and got out of the house, intent on a one-way trip through the neighborhoods and portals of Brooklyn and Manhattan. Beast had previously written about running into Manhattan and I was curious about it. This run was to be my first run over a major bridge, my first from Brooklyn to Manhattan, my first 6-miler since the last half-marathon.

I didn't warm up. I didn't take my music. I didn't take fluids, fuel, or my cell phone. I wore a long-sleeved tech T, shorts, and my 992s. I acknowledged the cooler weather and took my stretchy gloves, too. I stuffed my little running wallet in my pocket with nothing but my ID, a credit card, $10 in cash, and one house key, and took off.

And I ran SO STRONG! This was a great run from the beginning, which astounds me. I ran strong, steady, and at a solid 10K pace, perhaps even faster than I'd been planning, but nevertheless at a sustainable pace. The route was mostly flat, of course, except for the Manhattan Bridge, which I was dreading. But even as I began to climb it, I realized I didn't have to slack my pace one bit; my body responded and I climbed right up that bridge (which while not steep is certainly long). I wound up the run as stronger or stronger than the beginning. My last mile was faster than my first, even given dodging pedestrians.

What else qualifies this as a great run? Dry heaves & bleeding! I mean, it's not a great run unless there's dry heaves, right? Right? And the bleeding, that's just bonus. This time, it was the top of my foot, where my shoe is rubbing it raw. (I figured out the problem on the way home on the subway: the tongue had gotten folded under, so the top surface of the tongue - un-soft textiles - was rubbing directly over the top of my arch.)

I walked about fifteen minutes as a cooldown after (unknowingly) passing Butter - the walking around was me trying to FIND the place! Finally, feeling damn damn good, I found the place and entered. Had the running not given me such a tremendous boost of well-being and confidence, I would have turned around and gone home. For here I was, in my ratty 5K Turkey Trot tech-t, ugly shorts, bean-pole legs, and two days of stubble on my face walking into a VERY high-class operation. The kind where a good meal can set you back an entire day's pay. Well, I got seated with my friend's party and got myself a beer. (Why is it that the most upscale of places always have the shittiest beer menu? Coors Light??? Fuck THAT. The best they had was Amstel Light.)

After a beer, a salad, and a coffee, it was time to go home. I had no plans to run back, so just hopped on the subway. Good thing, too - when I got out in Brooklyn, it was raining. One last five-block run home.

All this has me thinking: maybe the ideal situation come November 5th (Marathon Day) would be to be finishing up two or three weeks of prophylactic antibiotics, yet also be hit with a cold, so I can break out the Dayquil, caffeine, and albuterol...I'd probably be in the Bronx somewhere before that combination started to wear off.

So, speaking of marathons, I want to point out that an acquaintance of mine in London, Rob Lake, who also has cystic fibrosis, recently ran the London Marathon in a time of 4 hours and 7 minutes! He ran to raise money for the CF Trust.

Also...moisture-wicking underwear: awesome.

May 10, 2006

testing, this thing on?

Short & sweet little test run tonight. I haven't run since Saturday's nice 5-miler and have been feeling pretty lazy, even though my days have been filled: job interviews, work, meetings, and other similar activities.

(Batting 1000, incidentally, as I'm taking on two tutoring clients, giving a lecture at the Apple Store in June, beginning work for a public-works lighting architect who's doing a short-time-frame project in Seattle, AND... the guys from Resolve Software Solutions will be giving me a phone interview Friday. yay me.)

So, anyway, here I am for the last three days, my legs are all sorts of minor pain and I have no idea what's going on. I'm constantly tired and am coming down with a cold. But I spent like 45 minutes today stretching out my IT band and calves and wanted to see if my 992's were feeling any better.

I haven't run at night since last summer; I'd forgotten what a magical quality it can have and tonight's 1.5 mile run through the warehouse district along the waterfront showed me just how empty the city can be. (I know, I know...empty is dangerous...but I did see a police car cruising around, and any people in the area were just late-shift workers.) This is why I love Brooklyn and my neighborhood in particular. It gets quiet. I ran a few new blocks; inspecting how close I could get to the water. Pretty neat, as most of the warehouse-area streets are still brick-paved and have embedded railroad tracks, long out of use. And the streets are CLEAN. Like, almost Fort Hamilton clean.

The run itself was strong and pleasant. My lungs felt good, my legs - surprise! - felt great. No pain anywhere except where the tongue of my left shoe rubs the top of my foot. If that's my worst problem, then I'm doing fine! I could have run longer I suppose, but dinner calls and I really only got out to warm up the muscles: I spent another half hour stretching my hamstrings, calves, IT band, etc. Like Danny, I was surprised at how strong I can be once I get going and do believe I have time enough before the marathon for some speed training before I start building up the truly long miles.

Intermediate goals first: Healthy Kidney in a week and a half, NY Half-Marathon (or Staten Island Half) a little down the road. Marathon in November. Somewhere in there, find a pool and learn to swim; figure out why bicycling and running seem mutually exclusive for my legs.

I'm not sure if the e-caps multi-vitamins are for me. My pee isn't AS flourescent yellow as it was, but can it be that too much vitamins makes your legs hurt? I've started drinking a helping of Slim Fast in additionto my regular breakfast (trying to up the calories) and that alone has plenty of nutrients.... I'm thinking too much again, aren't I?

May 6, 2006


In his latest podcast, Steve Runner notes that recovery following a marathon should be mostly made up of rest. The human body isn't supposed to run that far, after all, and needs extensive recovery. He says that studies show that taking 7 to 10 days off completely from running is beneficial to recovery and results in no loss of conditioning. This makes some sense, since conditioning changes take two weeks or so to appear after hard workouts anyway; it stands to reason it would take a similar length of time before conditioning begins to let go.

Though I ran only the half-marathon, my body reacted badly. It is becoming evident, too, that my post-race routine is not optimal for ensuring the quickest recovery and I shall have to refine what I do post-race. For instance, I should lay off the heavy stretching and concentrate on getting fifteen to twenty minutes of brisk walking in before really stopping. As well, when the legs hurt like they did, ice would have been a stunningly good idea; but I wasn't thinking clearly.

Having heard Steve's words, I felt better about not having run at all this week. I couldn't have before Wednesday sheerly for pain, but the soreness in all but a few tendons had disappeared by Thursday afternoon.

So it was with great desire but no little trepidation that I stepped out today for some exercise. First I walked to the other side of Greenwood Cemetary to (at long last) pick up my motorcycle from the dealer. (While Roxie still needs some work, at least she's running and running well. Sounds good, too. I have a lot of electrical & cosmetic work to accomplish before the LRLR charity ride in July.)

After that, I got home and changed into running clothes. Today I'd be trying out the moisture wicking boxer briefs I picked up at the Nashville expo. (I also finally found my fav pair of running socks; cool beans.) I decided to extend my five-mile out-and-back route and just go OUT - this time all the way to the Verazzano Bridge.

This is what I'm calling my new Bay 5-Miler route, as it keeps the water in sight almost the whole way - the first half between warehouses as I run along the quiet 1st avenue and the second half right along the water past Bay Ridge. End up at the base commisary.

The first couple miles were tough. My shoes - I'd finally put on the 992s I'm trying to break in - didn't feel right and I was getting sore very quickly. The 992s and I came to an understanding finally after I stopped to re-lace them. I loosened up down near the toes and tightened up a little bit higher on the arch and that felt pretty good. Still, for the first two and a half miles, I dealt with sore feet and shin splints. Right around the point I approached the Brooklyn Terminal, the pain started to ease up. I took another stretch break and then my legs really got into the swing of things. After that, there was no more walking except when my coughing shut me down. (Every time I cough, all my muscles tense up - this is not helpful in the legs.)

Running along the little path (which is being renewed!) along the bay is really something. The wind is constant, though not strong - just enough today to keep me from feeling to hot, as it evaporated my sweat nicely. The Verazzano feels close at first glimpse and it's still two miles away! Flat, fast, soft asphalt, clean winds and sunny skies: could there be better running conditions? The blazing international orange colored container ship in the bay was so bright my eyes hurt from it, even with the shades on and I couldn't help but smile at the thought that some crew on those ships have been known to stay in shape by running laps of the deck - 1/4-mile circumference or longer.

My stomach began to hurt somewhere along there and I noticed I was really going through my HEED. Usually a bottle would last nine miles or so, but I was somewhere around four and almost out. Once again, a warm day and dehydration and whatnot was playing with me.

I finished up this first recovery run by conquering the lone hill on the route and running all the way to the base commisary's parking lot. I walked for a few minutes outside, did some light stretching then went inside to shop. I right away grabbed an ice-cold water and downed about 1/3 of it. I also noticed these Powerbar Proteinx2 things that were on sale for 89 cents. I ate & drank those on the way home and immediately felt better. The Powerbar was good enough that I went across to the gas station where they have a bin of nearly-expired energy bars and dug out all 8 of the kind I'd just had - all at half price. Not a bad deal.

A good run, altogether, though the first two miles were dreadful. It gets easier, of course, over the years - knowing that the first two to three miles are almost ALWAYS a bitch; but that on good runs, it does get easier, smoother, rhythmic.

By the way, I'd like to plug the Coverville podcast again. I'm really enjoying what they come up with. Many of the covers are of very old tunes and some are of re-genred modern tunes. Even old people would like this broadcast. ;)

Also, congrats to Beast who ran a Boston-qualifying time in last weekend's New Jersey Marathon. Rest up that hamstring, buddy.

May 1, 2006

Standing Outside The Fire: Country Music Marathon & 1/2-Marathon

"Well, you got to be tough when consumed by desire,
'cause it's not enough just to stand outside the fire!"

Driving 1800 miles round trip to attend a race gives a guy a lot of time to think about the race ahead - and the race behind. This post is a long one, so settle in with a cold one.

The drive down to Nashville was pleasant w/ light traffic, though I sampled enough local culture to make me glad I live in New York and a little sad that I now seem to react badly enough to rural ways so as to approximate anaphalactic shock. I like some country music here and there, but the preponderance on the radio of rainy days, cheatin' wives, and broken down trucks was overwhelming. And if it wasn't country, it was the same oldies from station to station or - worse yet - conservative/religious talkshows which covered a range of topics but from a side I am unfamiliar with. I hit bottom when the clerk at the hotel I stayed at in Atkins, VA simply would not shut up, wouldn't let me go so I could get my bags out of my car, and who laughingly admitted that the stereotype about Virginia and meth addicts is true - there was a sticker on the entryway announcing the hotel as a MethWatch zone. Great.

As I passed into Nashville city limits, I was losing the station I was listening to, and scanned to the next. A few seconds of silence and then the beat of familiar guitar chords thumped through the car speakers, then "We call them cool...." I have one song I begin every run with - cheesy as it is - and that's Garth Brooks' "Standing Outside The Fire". This one never fails to rev me up, mostly with the idea that challenge has to be an integral part of a well-lived life. "Life is not tried, it is merely survived, if you're standing outside the fire." And that's what greeted me as I entered the home of country music, intending to run my longest distance since last October. A good omen, right?

The expo was well-organized, smoothly-run, pleasant enough. The half marathon shirts were better looking, I think, than the full marathon shirts. I wasn't sure of the route, and inquired as to how I run the half with my marathon number, afraid I'd get in trouble (remember, I signed up for the full marathon months ago). I was assured it wouldn't be a problem. After the expo, the family, including two temporary sisters, went to eat. Our party consisted of my mother, my sister Rachel, her friends Kim and Abby, and myself. Mom was along as moral support and bought us all dinner. She broke her foot a couple weeks ago so was in a walking brace. Rachel and Abby had run Chicago year before last, so this was to be their second marathon; it was to be Kim's first. I felt excited for them, proud of them - and a bit jealous of them. (I considered saying to hell with it and following the marathon route, but realized that if things should go bad late in the course and I got injured, it might blow my chances at a good run in NY.)

Nashville hosted the Country Music Marathon and Half-Marathon on Saturday April 29th. The weather turned out to be beautiful for a run, if a bit warm for most of us. I believe it got up to 75 degrees or so; much too warm for a pack of runners who had spent most of spring training in much cooler temps. Salt deprivation was to be a rampant problem over the course of the day. In fact, I saw no less than four runners collapsed at the side of the half-marathon course towards the end - all of them being tended to by medics, thankfully. (Speaking of med - I ran into a familiar face at the expo: Dr. Maharam, my sports doc! He is also the medical director of the CMM.)

Anyway, I will short circuit a long race description by saying this: my prep was bad, the course was uber-hilly, and my race was terribly difficult. A lot of things went wrong, none big in and of themselves, but the cummulative effect was enough to really hurt. I shouldn't have eaten the food at the restaurant; I should have opted to go for a Subway sandwich later. I shouldn't have tried Hammer nutrition bars for the first time as race day fuel. I shouldn't have forgotten my running shoes' insoles (used my regular shoes' - seemed fine, actually). I shouldn't have worn a cotton shirt. I should have brought a salt packet or Enduralytes. I shouldn't have started a different kind of multi-vitamin three days before the race. (Premium Insurance caps - pretty good in general, but it makes my piss bright flourescent yellow.)

I DID do some things right: my steady training with my Hammer nutrition hydration (HEED) and fuel (gel) ensured that though other things went wrong, I did not run out of fluid or energy (though I didn't have it in me for a finishing kick). I stuffed extra, dry clothing in my gear bag, along with Recoverite, nutrition bars, etc and that all paid off at the end of the race. I bought a gel flask carrier and a light, disposable jacket at the expo, both of which were worth it race morning.

This course was all hills and that became immediately apparent after the first mile. There was, in the half-marathon, only two significant flat stretches, of less than half-mile each. The rest was up, down, up down. I can only imagine how bad it got for the full marathoners. This would have been fine, I think, had I not found myself in serious gastrointestinal distress. I ended up using course port-a-johns four times before the end and every time I stopped, my muscles would tighten up further. I'd stretch them and get going again, but after awhile I could no longer run every hill (oddly, the uphills got easier and the downhills got painful). The muscles stiffening wasn't confined to my legs, it was happening all the way up to my shoulders & neck. And my stomach was getting worse and worse. I had flashbacks to Steve Runner's Phedipidations of the Boston Marathon. Like him, I had a choice to make: throw up in an attempt to feel better and risk serious dehydration (my t-shirt was soaked from sweat), or keep it down and feel like hell. I chose the latter. And I didn't collapse. And I kept running.

I had worn a t-shirt I got printed up publicizing the Cystic Fibrosis Athletics Organization, with "I'm running for my life" printed on the back in addition to the logo. In the last few miles, several people noticed the shirt and gave me encouragement, especially when I had to walk. "You can do it!" I felt like a fraud. I can do it? Fuck that. I can do a whole goddamn marathon when I put my mind to it and here I am struggling in a half-marathon that should have been "just" another long run in a larger training program. Still, I appreciated the encouragement.

In the last couple of miles, debillitating cramps hit my legs, especially the calves; felt a lot like the cramps I'd have at night as a teenager - the charley horses - only these would go away a lot quicker. I reckon I walked about a mile to a mile-and-a-half total. By the time I got to the finish line - running - I was in such pain that slowing down was...well, it was worse than running. I got some Tylenol at a med tent and spent fifteen minutes trying to stretch and move enough to get moving towards the family reunion area. I was in tremendous pain all over my legs, with my stomach, sides, and back muscles joining in. I remember thinking it was actually worse than how I felt at the end of the Cincinnati marathon, when I could at least walk to my sister's SUV. At that moment in Nashville, I couldn't even walk to the nearest john. After some time, during which I discovered the crowd had overwhelmed Nashville's cell system, I was able to get moving and hobbled to the reunion area, where I collapsed on the grass and used my spare shirt from my gear bag to help me stretch. I spent a half-hour or so stretching various muscle groups, trying to get them to ease up. I was convinced my pain was the direct result of not enough training, too many pre-race changes to routine, or whatever. It didn't dawn on me 'til later that it could just be the hills were more than I trained for (TYPE, more than QUANTITY of training, was wrong) and that the cramping was probably related to salt-deprivation.

Once Mom found me, we went over to the other side of the finish area, where the marathon finish was set up (different finish lines - no wonder there was no problem with accounting for marathoners finishing a half-marathon route.) For the next two and a half hours, I yelled and shouted and prodded and encourage and exhorted the runners coming in to the final turn that they had this one in the bag; the finish line was right ahead and to finish strong! Easier to say than do, I know, but a lot of people would hear me, look left, see the balloons way down at the end of, say, a long city block, and actually pick up the pace. Mom and I witnessed a young man who had clearly been running strong, coming in at about four hours, be suddenly seized with massive cramping in the final turn, within site of the finish line balloons. He went sprawling and couldn't get up. They were going to haul him off the course, but he wouldn't allow that and after about fifteen minutes of forceful stretching and massaging of his legs, he was able to get up and start walking toward the finish. I never heard the crowd cheer louder than when he got to his feet. Nobody wants to see a race end that close to the finish - and it is a particular nightmare of my own.

I was immensely happy to see my sister appear at 4:45, though she was by now alone. (We four runners had started the day together, but had gotten split up before the race - I assumed the girls stuck together for some time.) Kim came in about fifteen minutes later and Abby fifteen after that. I was truly thrilled and genuinely happy to see these girls do what I could not - conquer marathon distance - and a very hilly one at that! No matter the distress I was in, I know that they suffered equally - and longer - and they came through smiling.

My final time was 2:30:21. This wasn't my worst time (would be hard to do that!), nor even second worst. Strangely enough, it landed smack in the middle. I have five half-marathons under my belt, now, and three of them are within 50 seconds of each other. Huh. I have some things to talk about that will come in later posts, but that came up during this experience, so look for upcoming soapbox notes on those who do v. those who do not and the topic of success v. failure and how those things are defined. But for now: more pictures!


Post race:
The conquering heros:

The heros after a shower and dinner:

Driving home after: