July 31, 2008

the week is flying by

Bloglines must be desperate for cash; pictures were out in record time.

July 27, 2008

NYC Half Marathon 2008

So a lot has happened since I last wrote. Due to the inordinate amount of time the IVs take, I didn't have any training time these last two weeks. I got a 10-miler done two weekends ago (before the IV went in) and a 6.7-miler done last weekend. I managed to put in a two-mile run last Thursday and was pleased to find that my lungs are definitely improved from the antibiotics. I only walked once on the way up to the bank and paused only long enough to deposit a check, then ran the distance home, a little over a mile, without pause. I'm very happy about that.

My Polar watch and footpod came back in the mail. I had sent it in for warranty service a few weeks ago and was pleased to have it back so soon. I don't know exactly what they did, but it looks like they transferred my data to a new watch and sent that and my old footpod back. Whatever; it all works again. I need to recalibrate the footpod, but at least I can record my runs again. This goes to show how much I've come to rely on the data collected to record and analyze my running.

By the way, before I forget, you may be interested to know that I did call Trinity with my concerns about the male nurse's cleanliness. I emphasized that the rest of his demeanor and practice was very professional; I only had that one issue. When he came the next night (after the failed midline placement) to use the fresh kit and try the midline again, things were much improved, and the midline placement went smoothly. It is not a perfect placement - the end of the catheter is apparently up against a vein wall. He couldn't get a good blood return, but I can flush the line and infuse the IVs, though achingly slowly. It takes a good 50% longer than it should and two of the medications cause pain in the area where the catheter ends. But whatever; it all comes out Monday. My recent PFTs were improved (as of Thursday a.m.) and my weight is up a few pounds. I feel better, can breathe better (within a range), and my cough and mucous production is vastly decreased.

And that's a perfect segue into my race report, because during this race as I coughed and spit, I noticed - with some shock - that my phlegm was not the usual green, nor even yellow, but clear. I have never had clear phlegm! This is a great sign; it means the infections in my lungs are all but wiped out for the time being. I am so stunned and, to tell the truth, a little freaked out.

Now, let's examine how I did during the race. Given that the infection is under control and phlegm wasn't really a factor, and that while I did have some asthmatic reaction to the extreme humidity, but not a full-on asthma attack, I can see that my current ability (or lack thereof) comes down to two factors: Absolute lung capacity and physical fitness. Now, my lung capacity, as measured on Thursday is currently 68% of normal, with an FEV1 of 49%. That's what I've got to work with. Within that, though, my sats are fine and I assume are OK during exercise, so my lungs ability to deliver adequate oxygen isn't really in question. This leaves physical fitness, or VO2max. This could use some improvement. I haven't had the best training lately, and it shows. The next twelve weeks are going to be crucial to me having a pleasant (and hopefully successful) marathon run. My legs are nearly up to the half-marathon distance - but my basic fitness isn't and I need to get it up high enough to handle six hours of demanding exercise.


As I stood in my doorway, running gear in hand, lightning, thunder, and large, cold rain
greeted me. I struggled with myself, wanting to go back to bed, not wanting to run in the rain. But I checked the weather radar and decided the storm would probably pass before the race began. I put on a plastic bag as raingear and headed out. By the time I got off the subway at 86th street, the rain had stopped.

But this left the city covered in water and steeped in moisture. The extreme humidity made for a very difficult race, especially for the first seven miles of the race while in Central Park. I'd made the decision days ago to treat this race as a good workout, a training run, and to take it easy in the first half. Walk the hills, walk the water stops. If I could do that, I reasoned, I might be able to jog the rest. And for the most part, that's exactly what happened for the first ten miles. I guess I'd run about five minutes and walk two. Some running stretches were longer - at least one was a a full mile and a half - and some walks were shorter, but it was definitely a run-walk day.

Leaving the park was great. I really enjoyed the drop in humidity and going down Seventh Avenue. Going across on 42nd street wasn't all that great and I bitched enough about the West Side Highway portion of the route last time to last for several years. But the West Side Highway at least brought some refreshing breezes and it is such familiar territory for me that even though my pace slowed down there (the concrete was playing hell with my joints and my left ankle really hurt), the miles passed quickly.

So I did OK up until the eleventh mile, but then things turned bad. I started feeling sick and dizzy and contemplated sitting down for a while. Just when I thought I'd have to stop, I came across a medical tent and was able to get some salt. I was almost instantly rejuvenated. My stomach settled down and I felt better. By this point, though, my legs were letting me know we haven't done this distance in some time. I stopped to stretch and that seemed to help the ankle. But I still had to walk a lot more in the last two miles than I would have liked. I couldn't even do the last 800 meters straight through. I was wiped out.

I finished. I finished in about the time I figured. Not my best, nor my worst.
Place: 9795 out of 10506 finishers.
Chip time: 2:38:41 (a few minutes better than I figured, actually, but my 3rd-worst time out of 14 half-marathons)
5K - 37:43
10K - 1:15:11
15K - 1:51:55
20K - 2:30:22

So that's it. I still am not a fan of the course layout, but NYRR probably doesn't have a lot of choice about it, as my neighbor pointed out. I'm fairly happy with my performance, actually. This is the first race I haven't been hard on myself for a slow time. It also happens to be the first half-marathon that I wasn't afraid of the distance. I mean, there is always a certain trepidation at this distance, even when I'm well-trained. A certain "13 miles?!?" feeling. But this time, I felt none of that. I had no doubts about the distance. I am intimately familiar with Central Park and the West Side Highway, so those are known distances which feel short for what they are. And the part in the middle - running through Times Square - was short and was just a bonus. God willing, I'll be able to approach November 2nd with the same calmness (grim fatalism?) and the same que sera sera attitude on race day. Or is this new development a signal of a new emotional athletic maturity? Hm...and it only took 49 races to get there.

BTW, I got a new keyboard, not an Apple one. I don't like the feel of their new keyboards - not enough tactile or audio feedback when typing. So I picked up a Kensington wireless Ci70 keyboard and mouse set. I've had this mouse before and it failed quickly, but that might have been a quirk. Kensington sent me a refund in that case. Kensington has a decent rep and I've owned their products in the past and been happy. I like that the keyboard is wireless and the keyboard and mouse share the same dongle for communication. I also like the simple, minimalistic design. I also like that this wireless keyboard has good feel, nice clicky keys (if a little sensitive), Mac OSX-specific drivers (so the hotbuttons to email, web, and music work!), and a numeric keypad, something the wireless Apple keyboard doesn't have, but which is cirtical to my ability to draft.

Okay, I've eaten my recovery meal of berries, yogurt, and honey and my first IV is almost done, so I'm going to change it out and take a nap.

July 16, 2008

things are getting worse

Yesterday was a bad day. I did my morning infusions OK, waking up at 5 a.m. to start the first one. I'm taking Benadryl to counteract the reaction I have to the Vancomycin. Benadryl makes me sleepy. This makes it very hard to wake up in the morning.

I left work yesterday and immediately started my 5 o'clock infusion. I had planned with the nurse who was to come put in a midline to meet be a little after 6. He didn't show up 'til almost 7! I might as well have stayed at work. For some reason, I don't know what, it was important that both he and Mary, the nurse who started my peripheral line yesterday, both be there; she hasn't done a midline yet, which I was very surprised to hear.

Anyway, it did not go well. It felt to me like he went right through the vein - he couldn't get a blood return initially and once he did, he couldn't thread the catheter. Of course, there was no spare midline kit, so he couldn't give it a second try. So I go another 24 hours with the peripheral and hope my vein doesn't collapse around that. However, I've noticed the infusions go slower and slower and it is hard to flush the line. It is somewhat painful, too, when I do because I'm breaking through some small clot or I'm aggravating an already weakened vein. This has to get changed out tonight, either for a midline or another peripheral, I guess. It's only been two days and I'm already sick of nurses

I had some real issues with the male nurse's cleanliness and am going to call the agency this morning and ask that they send someone else this evening to place the midline. My biggest concern right now is being unable to start the evening's infusions if my peripheral goes bad.

My other problem is that these infusions are SLOW. Each one is supposed to take an hour, but really takes about an hour and fifteen minutes. Between work, infusions, and sleep, there is literally no time left for anything else. Including running. This is where having a resistance trainer for my bicycle would at least help me keep up the cardio, 'cause I can do that while on infusions.

Top all that frustration with my frustration at Apple and you get a broken keyboard. Yep, I broke my keyboard. While doing my infusions after the disastrous attempt at getting a midline last night, I was shocked to find that the recent upgrade to MobileMe reorganized my folders and my Saved emails seem to have disappeared. I went online trying to find an answer how to get them back (which folder to look for in Time Machine, maybe) and could not. The Apple servers were so slow that some Discussion pages wouldn't load at all. Trying to sign in was what sent me off when I couldn't get their servers to accept my login. Caps lock was NOT on. After smashing my hands down on the keyboard in frustration, I tried one more time and was able to log on - only to find that Discussions don't have a search utility! Or if they do, it isn't obvious and I haven't found it yet. They also don't have a discussion forum for Mail beside all the other Apple software forums - it's buried down in the OSX discussion forum.

Unable to search the forums and not having time to read every message header, I gave up. I did eventually find my Saved emails - they'd been put in a different folder that was closed. They're not gone, just moved. But I am pissed that the program would do that without notifying me and I'm pissed at Apple and I'm pissed at dirty nurses and I'm just pissed in general.

July 14, 2008

not feeling too good about much of anything

I've got a major race in two weekends and that is all I can think about. My health is depressed and I've got a race on the 26th. I'm working my ass off and I've got a race on the 26th. I'm just sick enough I can't run continuously and have been walking more and more and I've got a race on the 26th. My long run yesterday ...I completely misjudged so much and cut it from 12 miles to 5 and I've got a 13.1 mile run on the 26th. I've got an IV in my arm and it's still going to be there when I run on the 26th!

I don't know what to do. This always seems to happen. Just as training is working; just as it seems like my lungs and legs are ready to do a major distance, disaster strikes. I will admit that I probably could have held out 'til after the half-marathon to go on antibiotics, but I suspect this is the better option. Arrest my decline early (hopefully) and perhaps gain enough breathing room (literally) to have a good run. My legs can take it, no doubt; oh, they'll be sore enough after the race - they haven't gotten the real consistent training needed to just shrug off 13.1 miles - but they won't crap out on me.

I really misjudged things Sunday. I waited too long to go out, it was too hot and I didn't realize it because the humidity was down. I had a dizzy period and was crystalizing salt on my skin inside of four miles - hence the aborted distance.

The things I do for my lungs.

This round of IVs is off to a portentious start. For one thing, the nurse that came, though a familiar face, was not prepared to place a mid-line, so I'm sitting here with a peripheral running three HOURS worth of medications into my veins. The peripheral will get replaced tomorrow night with a midline by another nurse. *sigh*

My meds are cefepime, tobramycin, and vancomycin. You may remember - I think I wrote about it on this blog - that vanco causes me an allergic reaction; something I didn't remember until the vanco was running in and all of a sudden, I feel like I've got a cold and I itch everywhere. I've taken two Benadryl, but that's like trying to put out a camp fire with a water pistol.

Of course, even with overlapping my other therapies (Vest and inhalation treatments), the IVs will add approximately an extra hour in the morning and two hours in the evening to my routine. I have no idea where that time's going to come from. How am I going to get eight hours of sleep? Well, iPhone to the rescue; maybe I'll just set a 1-hour timer so I can go to bed and wake up to change medications and go back to sleep, or something.

I'm sorry. This blog isn't really helpful or informative. Certainly, no one's getting any information out of it and I'm not exactly chronicaling my running with Swiss watch accurancy. It's not helpful as a CF blog, either. In fact, I'm really not sure why I bother to keep up after it at all. Maybe it's time for blogfade.

July 6, 2008

Hard ten miles

Got up early this morning to try to beat the heat and put in 10 miles. By the end of three, I was seriously considering cutting the run to 7 miles by not doing the second loop of Prospect Park. It was just so humid... I don't care what the weatherman says, if I can't even see the far side of Prospect Park across the main field, the humidity is a lot higher than 78%! I was soaked in sweat the entire time and fairly miserable. I was walking a lot, though considerably less than last week's long run, and my biggest fear - pain in the left knee - didn't materialize.

By the time I was crossing the top of the park toward the halfway point, I'd decided I could keep going - that I was in no rush today even though I had an afternoon rehearsal to make. I didn't even slow down for a halfway point break - was getting enough breaks in the walking and coughing! - and continued on with the run. I was never so happy that the fountains were working. Though I had Sustained Energy with me (always a good choice), I still just needed plain, cool water at points.

So I didn't manage to conquer the big hill today - I had to walk parts of it on both laps - but it wasn't the torture it could have been. Desert mile (the last 1.7 miles of my route, most of it downhill) wasn't exactly easy, and I was thankful I'd put the uphills in at the beginning of the run.

I had a couple good mile+ stretches during the run and that is satisfactory. I'm still not running as well as I'd like, but that's little wonder with the lousy "training" I'm doing. I think NYC Half will be a struggle, but that if I can make it out of the park OK, I should be able to reallly cruise the last half of that race.

Today's 10 miles took 2 hours, 5 minutes - a significant per-mile improvement over last weeks' 9-miler that took 2 hours, 15 minutes.

July 4, 2008

Marathon Training - not the best start

Well, my marathon training is off to a start on a flat note. Let's step back a couple of weeks. Last time I posted, I noted that my long runs were not reaching the mileage they needed to be and that I was not having a good time in Toronto. Well, I didn't get any running done in Toronto, which is weird, given that I was teaching at the hotel where I was staying and should have had plenty of time. But in reality, with all the prep and needing to go out to find food in a place that didn't have a lot of affordable places to eat, I just didn't have the time.

Finally, last Sunday, I got out for a long run, which had quite a lot of walking. Of course, I waited too long to get out and things got pretty hot and humid while I was running. My choice of route might have been better, as the air was less humid in Sunset Park than out along the water of the bay. But it was a beautiful day and I put in a full 9 miles. That took two hours, though, and I'm worried that I just won't be trained well enough to enjoy the Manhattan Half.

After another pretty fallow week in which there was no running due to missed connections, bad scheduling, etc, I got out for a run yesterday. (I am in no way shirking my own responsibility in getting runs in. I could be getting up an hour earlier weekdays and putting in three miles before work - and will have to start doing so.) But yesterday's run didn't go well, either. A phone call that woke me up also brought me another quick job and I need the money, so I spent the morning making phone calls and generally getting nowhere in preparing for this lighting design. I got out for a run about 1 o'clock and that was during the hot part of the day. Again, quite a bit of walking, but not more than expected, given that I did hills. However, it was only a two mile run and this morning, my left knee is in a lot of pain. I could barely stand on that leg alone putting my pants on. My legs were mildly sore after Sunday's long run, but this is something different. Why should a simple two-miler put me in this much pain this morning?

I guess I'll keep an eye on it and try to keep my runs steadier, more frequent, more consistent. I'm realizing I'm a pretty lousy runner - worse than I was when I was a beginner. I'm more experienced, now, but my habits are worse. And even though I have this great half-marathon coming up, I'm just plain uninspired.

In other news, 600 Starbucks are closing. That's something like .1% of their empire and I seriously doubt any Manhattan Starbucks will close. Personally, I 'd like to drive a stake through Seattle's heart for bringing us this undead menace, but it looks like the economy may do that for me. The simple laws of economics are working as predictably as ever, and in this downturn, we see people turning from purchasing name-brand goods to generic goods, considering the cost-savings more important than the slight dip in quality. I'm already on a slim budget, but still recognize that green beens from the house brand are just as nutritious as green beans from Dole. Likewise, many people are realizing that Dunkin Donuts and McDonalds coffee tastes good and is 1/3 the price of Starbucks. In fact, in a blind taste-test, McDonald's coffee was chosen over Starbucks. (I've tried the Coca-Cola coffee, last time I was in Toronto...and it isn't too bad, to tell the truth.)

Well, that's all I've got on this July 4th. It's raining, and I have to go to rehearsal. I'm excited about this little gig - it's with choreographers I've lit for before, one of them a visitor from Japan, and in a space I've lit in a half-dozen times. The extra money is well worth the loss of sleep I'll have this week.