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.


Anonymous said...

well done chris... great report too... sometimes it makes me miss new york reading your blog...

londonjogger said...

sorry - that's from me - londonjogger

baycitywalker.com said...

What a difference a couple of weeks makes.Congrats on your race finish!

Clear sputum is definitely a positive sign . I'm glad things are looking up for you.

Anonymous said...

Well done, Cris. I am glad that the IVs are done and the results are "clear". You are correct in that I don't remember you having clear mucus either. Keep up the training and hopefully I'll be there to cheer you on. Love, Mom

Anonymous said...