May 30, 2009

Out of the corner of my eye... Brooklyn Half-Marathon 2009

My eyes opened at 5:30 a.m. and focused on the clock. Okay, I can sleep another half an hour, which passed in a heartbeat. Out of bed, splash some water on my face, get dressed, inhale some albuterol from the nebulizer, wonder how today will go. My advice to a friend had been to run the mile you're in. Don't think about the whole distance, just concentrate on getting to the next mile marker. This trick works for lots of runners. Yet I found myself mulling over the second half of the course and getting apprehensive about it.

As I walked up to Prospect Park from my house, I sipped some coffee and went over the course in my head. The two loops of the park - no problem. I did that and more last weekend. But then would come a whole lot of flat road, with little shade - and it was already pretty warm out, even at 6:45. I wasn't worried about fluid or fuel - I had that down pat, with a bottle of Sustained Energy to carry, a caffeinated gel for mid-race, and recovery food and drink for after the race. About two miles from my house, I located the baggage truck and threw my pack in, then headed for the start line. And walked, and walked, and walked. Jesus these things are getting big. As soon as I saw a high enough concentration of brown bibs, I ducked under the tape and strained to hear the opening announcements. Useless, all the way at the back, like that.

Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a familiar shape - a little black zippered pouch. Then I identified the glucose meter in it and really turned toward the person beside me. I didn't get his name, but he was a type I diabetic and was checking his blood sugar on the spot. He used that to adjust his insulin pump. We talked quite a bit about insulin and diabetes and he had some great advice. He's seasoned at this sort of thing. I let him know that last night was my very first insulin shot and how it was so not a big deal like I thought it was going to be. He likes the pen, he says, but was also very enthusiastic about the pump. He showed me his and I am once again impressed by how far technology has come. This morning, I am no longer worried/depressed about this diabetes thing. I think I will handle it just fine.

We all finally got going. It was disturbing to us back-of-the-packers to make the first turn onto the loop and see runners going by already on their second lap! Grrr. Well, at least it was a downhill start - that really helped me warm up and build momentum. I did well in the park. In fact, I walked only four times in the park (the hill twice, of course), so I was having stretches of well over a mile w/ no walking. I was making good time, feeling pretty good, and generally my biggest problem was being too warm. Not quite warm enough to make me stop and take my shirt off, but I was sweating pretty heavily. The shade of the trees was very welcome. There was a nice breeze going, too, and generally things were going well.

I'd assumed the park would be hell, to tell the truth. Hills are hard, of course, and now we'd have overlapping runners for two full laps and a few hundred yards of a third, plus all the regular park-goers crossing the road. Turns out, it wasn't too bad.

Then I turned out of the park and onto Ocean Avenue. All of a sudden, I was back in the Bronx: I was faced with a long, straight, flat stretch of mostly unshaded road. Crap. I think I might have psyched myself out, because I really did have problems in this half of the race. At mile eight, my hips started up and at mile 10, my form fell apart. For the last 5K, I kept to a rhythm of running/walking light-to-light, which is to say about half and half at 200 or 300 yard intervals. It is surprising how fast miles can melt away even at that pace.

I also started taking note of who I was actually playing tag with. Several of us were basically at the same pace, whatever our ratios of walking/running, and these were the people I kept an eye on as we approached the turn onto Stillwell Ave. A few blocks and we were jogging up a short ramp to the boardwalk itself.

I should have been looking DOWN. I nearly went ass over teakettle, as I tripped over something. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a nail had worked itself loose and that's what had caught my foot. From that point on, the boardwalk and I were adversaries. It is in bad shape. Parks and Recreation aren't doing replacement maintenance fast enough. There was only a single 100 yard section that was anything like runnable, IMO. I couldn't believe this is the shit that Michelle runs on every day. I figured since her body was adapted to this springy, uneven, difficult mess that once she hit the boardwalk, she must have ramped up to her usual 9:30/mile pace and finished strong. Me, not so much.

I determined to put my back into the last 400 meters and finish well, but I had no idea how I'd have to work for it. As I began ramping up my speed - just a teeny bit mind you - I began picking off runners. But with 300 meters to go, I caught a blur out of the corner of my eye and glanced over. This short, dumpy little girl, who had been one of those to keep an eye on and who I thought I'd left permanently behind me, was at my side and edging ahead! Okay, I thought, you wanna race, let's race! I thought I could lose her by adding just a little bit of speed, but she stayed right with me, even getting ahead a pace. Every time I poured on more power, she added it, too. With about a hundred yards left, really running now, I determined to make her eat my dust and dug very deep, ignored the screaming hamstrings and gasping lungs, and hit the nitrous, putting it all into a near-sprint. Finally, I was able to get ahead of her and in those last few yards even picked off two more runners.

It was the hardest finish I've had in a couple years, I think, and the girl and I thanked each other for the boost. I headed for baggage, so I could get my recovery drink and nutrition bar. Wolfed those down, picked up some pretzels, found the beer island, and spent the next hour with my bare feet in the cool sand munching pretzels and sipping at a Guinness. Very well-earned. Then met up with Michelle & her posse and we had a light lunch at a Russian place.

Net time: 2:34:18. Far from my best - #14 or 15 of the 18 half-marathons I've done. But it was 15 minutes better than January's Manhattan Half, and less the 5 minutes slower than February's Bronx Half. I'll take that. And - not to brag - but I beat Michelle by 4 minutes.
Blood sugars today are an interesting, confusing story. 114 when I woke up, which ROSE over the course of the race to 146. However, five hours, a bag of pretzels, a beer, a couple ounces of vodak, and a salad later, and my blood sugar was DOWN to 68 - nearly hypoglycemic! How odd. Three hours after that, with nothing but a banana in my stomach, back up to a good 106. Bizarre.

Well, we'll see what happens when I eat my post-race reward meal: sushi. Judging from previous week's tracking sheets, my blood glucose will climb pretty high. But as of last night, I'm now using Novolog with the big evening meal and any muffins I might eat. My nutritionist has me starting small - 1 unit per 60 grams carbs. Okay, let's do this. I need to be able to process the carbs. I can't afford to lose any more weight. I need to GAIN weight and that's not going to happen unless I get my blood sugars under good control. Just a warning: this is probably going to be a popular topic in my posts for a while.

May 26, 2009

Memorial Day Weekend

As noted in my last post, I got a little sunburned on Saturday's 10-miler. But I was glad I went out, because it rained off and on much of Sunday. I managed to dodge the drops, but my friend's BBQ ended up an indoor affair. It was kind of strange and I only stayed about three hours, but it was nice enough.

I rested Sunday; my legs weren't sore, but my joints are beginning to feel the addition of these miles. Monday, while everyone else was out barbecuing again (and the weather was much improved), I did a short 1.25 miles up to the gym, then lifted weights. As you can imagine, it was VERY crowded at the gym, requiring a lot of cooperation and good timing to use the machines I was after. I foam rolled, stretched, lifted, did chin-ups, pushups, & crunches. I didn't quite complete two circuits of the Express Line - I was getting very tired and hungry. The Express Line is great - targeting the major muscle groups, but it does skip over some muscle groups I consider important for a balanced workout. Finding those machines (or using free weights) is not a problem. On the free weights floor were some guys who obviously work out a LOT - quite intimidating. But I guess I'm working as hard as they.

This morning, I did my along-the-cemetery route I've been doing lately, but extended it a bit more for a full two miles, with the entire second half continuous, no walking. This is good. I'm pleased with the way I've been keeping up with the workouts, whether short or long, and balancing all that. Sure, it helps that I have TIME to do that right now, but what I'm also doing is building a base: this base is what my marathon training will rest upon and going into full marathon training with a good base is something I have previously lacked. It should make a difference. It is also a mental base, something the books don't talk about much, but is important. The more consistently you work out, the easier it is to get out there, especially for people like me, for whom the first two or three miles just consistently suck.

Finally, an obituary. My trusted friend and companion of the last 21 months, my 1st generation iPhone, is dead. He passed away this morning of massive circuit board failure after a brief, but debilitating, period of decline. Attempts to revive him resulted in only sporadic screen flashes, but no brain activity. A memorial service will be held in which I'll extract his SIM card, then chuck him into the East River, or perhaps send his corpse back to Apple in a flaming bag of poop. He is survived by his much tougher older brother, my 3rd generation Nano, and by his younger sister, my MacBook Pro.

I'm working on a replacement. I'm NOT paying $199 under the Out-of-warranty program for a new phone, especially since I can get a new 3G for that. (Apple says corrosion is the problem and that's not covered under AppleCare.) So I'm looking for someone who can sell me a 1st gen iPhone for cheap, as a scratch-n-dent, or perhaps get an ultra-cheapo from AT&T to tide me over 'til late July, when the 3rd generation of iPhones should be released.

I got an el cheapo phone at Radio Shack, one of those pre-pay dealies, only I don't have to pre-pay, since I could just put my old SIM card in the new phone. I will call AT&T to turn off the data plan, though. $20 isn't bad for a tide-me-over phone.

I may be switching gyms again. As in instructor at FIT, I can use their gym, which admittedly isn't near as nice as NYSC gyms are, but I'll be saving a boatload on gym fees. I'll have to try it out a couple of times first. I'm not sure how this will work in with my schedule - it means adding a 45-minute commute each way to go to the gym - tho once fall hits, I can just work out before my class. I need to go back there and really check it out, including shower facilities, which I didn't look at today.

May 23, 2009

Saturday 10 miler

I woke up and immediately wondered if I could put off the run until tomorrow. My phone was out of juice and needed a couple hours charge and by that time, it'd be getting warm...

But said the temperature would remain in the low 70s today and tomorrow is expected to be rain rain rain. So after a couple hours of slowly getting ready, I headed out at noon. I finally crossed the "long run" line, prepping by taking Tylenol and Endurolyte, and having a cup of the magic tea.

At no time during this run did I feel great, but it wasn't too bad. Lots of walking, but I knew it would be like that. It was fairly warm out, with nice breezes, and I ran shirtless. I brought a bottle of Sustained Energy and was listening to Pheddipidations on my iPhone. The run took about two hours total, as I figured it might, so I'm not disappointed about that. I ran up to the park, did a normal loop (counter-clockwise), reaching the Tree of Turning, and retraced my steps.

While I enjoy following other runners in the park - particularly the MILFy ones with the jog-strollers - I more enjoy running against the normal flow, so I can see everybody. More entertaining that way. And boy did I need entertainment! My iPhone - my trusty, constant companion, died the death mid-way through mile 4. I hadn't even heard the whole Pheddipidations episode! Nothing I could do would get it to work.

I was glad to wrap up the run - I was exhausted. I spent a lot of time outside stretching carefully, then headed in. I plopped the iphone in the charging cradle and drew an icebath. Now...I had forgotten what a shock getting into that ice water can be! This was far worse than anything during the run. I couldn't stand it for more than three minutes, but at least I did it. I got out, popped an Advil, then took a regular shower, which just felt great. A nap was next.

By the time I got up, my iPhone was going through constant power-up and reboot cycles. iTunes no longer sees the phone. While I did get it to calm down and stop constantly rebooting, I have to leave it sleeping. I can use if for short periods of time, but then the "this accessory is not built for iPhone; would you like to turn on Airplane mode?" message comes up and a few seconds later the phone reboots. So, it's off to Apple SoHo tomorrow to get it fixed. Hopefully they'll just replace it; it's still within the AppleCare extended warranty.

Tomorrow: rain and REST. I excercised in one way or another every single day this last week. Yay for me, but tomorrow is a day off. I have other tasks to attend to anyway, and then a dinner party in the evening - hopefully the rain will be gone by then.

Tonight: sushi!

Also: sunburned.

May 21, 2009

long, miserable day

This should have been a great day; a real out-of-the-park homer. Had a doctor's appointment, a run, and a refinance closing on the calendar. And while those things happened, it was not as I expected.

The doctor kept me waiting for half an hour. As usual, I saw him for two minutes. He wants me to see an ophthalmologist because of the diabetes; something my DIABETES DOCTOR has not yet mentioned. Then his nurse took blood, fine. He's checking for ureic acid levels and A1HC for the diabetes.

The nutritionist at Naomi Berrie once again emailed saying I should be on bolus insulin; but as yet I've received no instructions about GETTING ANY. No prescription, no communication from the diabetes doctor, nothing.

The run in Central Park was not a good one. Though I had plenty of energy and my legs felt good, I didn't get there until 1 and so it was pretty warm. Far warmer than I'd planned for. I ran shirtless, but didn't have any water - so I was walking a lot and a drinking from every fountain I could find. No more than 2.5 miles and it took 40 minutes. I thought I was doing OK, until I noticed I was passed for the third time by a woman WALKING.

After that I tried to rush downtown for the closing, but traffic and subways weren't having any of that! Oh, no. Doesn't matter that I was late, anyway, since the closer was, too. The closing took two and a half hours. My first closing only took 45 minutes or so - why should a refinancing take this long? There were errors that had to be corrected; the lawyer was dealing with THREE closings at once, the closer was a very slow-working man who seemed puzzled even by his calculator. And I'm sitting there, having signed everything I needed to sign in the first twenty minutes - and I notice that none of this is computerized. Sure, a lot of documents get transmitted via email, but that's it. What happened to the great shining future? We're still shuttling around 8.5 x 11 and 8.5 x 14 pieces of paper! AND when filing, the fees aren't calculated per document, but PER PAGE. *headdesk*

The upshot is that my refi cost me about eight grand, but I'm saving more than 1.5 points. I'll be saving about $500 per month in the long run over what I paid before, so it'll take 16 months to recap the refi costs. On the other hand, there's at leats a grand in fees that Wells Fargo simply waived. And I so appreciate that, especially from a company who, six months ago, wasn't letting hardly ANYBODY refinance. Wells Fargo is good people, as much as any bank can be said to be good people.

You'd think I'd be happy and relieved and feeling great, but I'm not. I'm miserable and tense.

Finally, I had my cable turned off yesterday. Can't really afford it right now and the shows I was watching, I can get all of them on the next day.

May 19, 2009

Beautiful day today. A little warm even. Tomorrow will head out earlier; try for five miles in the park. Went 2.5 today to Bagel Boy. Too much stopping for traffic, but the bagel was great.

May 18, 2009

Quick 1.5 today. Hard to get going; felt ok in the middle. Pain way down today. Coughing up less than this weekend, too. Longer workout tomorrow plus weights.

May 17, 2009

wiped out

Absolutely wiped out today. A short run would probably fix that, but I hurt all over and my stomach isn't too happy, either. Rain's been coming and going all night and it's about to rain again. Maybe today will be a rest day.

May 16, 2009

The 5th (6th?) annual Healthy Kidney 10K

The words floating out of the loudspeakers in Mary Wittenburg's shrill tones said something about "when this race started five years ago...." and I didn't catch the rest. Something about numbers. It didn't matter to me. I'd just finished a warmup of 1.8 miles and had barely had time to stop by baggage to take a Tylenol and suck in some albuterol before heading for my corral. Now I was waiting to one side of the pink area, unwilling to actually walk ALL the way back to the brown corral, especially since the starting line was already so far ahead it was out of sight. I figured I'd just cool me heals until most of the crowd had already passed and I'd slip in with the portion that had the most brown bibs.

Despite having done an albuterol nebulizer treatment before leaving the house, my lungs were not having a good time. The humidity was high - really high - and even as I waited for the race to start and everyone to get out of my way most of the pack to move ahead, it began to sprinkle. Oh, man.... this does not bode well.

With the increasing tempo of the evil wet stuff from the sky prompting me to get going, I slipped in with the pink bibs and started my remaining mileage for the day. As we all loped along, climbing the west hills of the park, the rain began in earnest and we were shortly all pretty wet. Not soaked, exactly, as certain portions of shorts and shirts remained dry, but shoes, tops, hair, skin, all dripping water. The rain made it hard to see.

Along about mile two, now, and the rain lets up a bit and five minutes later it's gone for good. Now the air is getting warmer and the humidity just hangs out. I can see the air and the hotter people's breath is condensing, even in the nearly-70-degree environment. Ridiculous.

I'm struggling, of course. Again a 180 from the previous run, which was cooler, less humid, and a whole lot drier. I'm walking up hill after hill, panting as I do so, and feeling very much let down by the weatherman, who'd promised partly sunny this morning. Perhaps this rain and humidity was his idea of a prank?

I survive through mile 3 and the biggest hill of the run and then try to really get going. I do pretty well through most of mile 4 - but then, most of that is flat. I'm running out of steam, though, and wonder why. I'm drinking Sustained Energy and that's never let me down before. As I run and walk and run and walk, I realize two things: first, that perhaps this new diabetes is interfering with getting the energy from my drink into my muscle cells (!) and so there may be something to this whole insulin shots thing (these are in my future, I just know it); and second, that there is a girl in vivid green that will be the one I have to beat. We've been playing tag since mile two.

I'm passing the fifth mile marker with something akin to joy in my heart - for this torture is almost over. I still can't breathe well, and my legs feel like rubber - but I'm able to stretch out this segment and resist taking a last walk break. This resistance is reinforced when I pass my aged friend Crista H, who is lumping along in her usual way. She'd told me before the race that she was in pain and was probably going to have to have surgery. So now, if I can just keep going, I will manage to beat an injured octegenarian. Somehow, that brings me no joy at all.

I'm keeping the green girl in sight and surprisingly resist walking the last two hills. Keep in mind that Healthy Kidney 10K finishes just like the Marathon - UPhill. Mustering everything I've got left, I increase my speed a little and manage to pass the green girl and keep up the mildly-strong finish to the end. Passing her brings me no joy. Crossing the finish line brings me no joy; only relief.

I've been coughing the entire race, unable to get my lungs to stop spasming, and now, when I'm expecting the most extended coughing fit of all (because that's what happens to me when I stop running), nothing happens. I'm bent over trying to catch my breath and really trying not to pass out; I don't feel steady at all. Apparently, I didn't look too good, either, for when I stand up, there are two medical personnel looking me over with some concern. I flash them a quick smile and move on.

I neither noted, nor cared what my time was. I grab my bag and head toward the subway, stopping to get a coffee and muffin from the little kiosk at the park entrance. The coffee tastes good; the muffin is terrible.

Worst Healthy Kidney 10K of the five I've done (in a row!) Not by much. The last three years have all been within two minutes of each other, but still, I KNOW I can do better.

May 13, 2009

What's the opposite of craptacular?

How can I go from shit to shinola in one day? I don't know, but it happened.

Today was arguably the most perfect day ever, weather-wise, and my run was pretty close.

The day began early, at 7 a.m. Up, shit, shower, & shave (thanks Dad for the phrase that goes through my head every morning), therapy, package up the now-replaced glucose meter, out the door for a 10 a.m. meeting with the nurse running the CF/GERD study. What a beautiful morning! The air smells fresh and clean - I mean really clean. My lungs feel good and my legs don't hurt too much from the last four days of running. Morning muffin tasted good; coffee tasted good; smooth pleasant subway ride sans loony homeless people.

After the visit with the nurse, I decided to take advantage of the perfect weather and go for a run in Central Park. For the first time in ages, I used NYRR's facilities to change and store my stuff while I ran. I did the middle loop - 4 miles - and knew from the start that today was going to be something special. It was well over half a mile before I slowed to a walk, and only walked for a minute. I think I walked six or seven times the whole run, each time for a very short amount of time. As I dealt with the Harlem Hills, I made it most of the way up most of them - and all the way up the rest of them!

I was surrounded by people enjoying the park, including a group of tourists on rental bikes waiting at a red light. I passed them just as the light turned green and they started pedaling. I thought about that for a moment, then turned around and told them the lights don't apply to bikes, just cars. Turns out they're Italian (I think), so I restated in simple nouns that hopefully translated well.

In the downhill mile on the west side, the run was just great. I paused long enough to get some water at a fountain, as I'd not brought any with me. I made the turn on to the 72nd street crossover and found the strength to just keep going. Cat Hill, though, I walked up much of the way. Just as I was getting ready to run at the bobcat statue, I heard my name and here comes my friend Marci, whom I first met at last year's NY Marathon expo. We listen to the same podcast. It was great chatting with her and she decided to accompany me on my last 3/4 miles back to Engineer's Gate. That was a good way to end my run. I don't have any breath to spare for chatting while running, but I managed to keep the pace strong and finished the 4 miles well.

It was great to see Marci, and the whole run was just one of those rare runs where everything was going right: it was the perfect storm of good weather, good lungs, willing legs, Tylenol taken about half an hour before, and having no time table to keep. Just fantastic.

I extended my time outdoors by changing at NYRR then walking down 5th ave to the N train. I was hungry, so I checked my blood sugar and purchased a "pizza" pretzel. I was pleased to see my blood sugar was a perfect 80 post-exercise (it had hit 382 earlier in the day), but the pizza pretzel was no great shakes. No big deal; just wanted something to fill the belly before dinner.

I will either rest tomorrow or go low-impact with some stationary bike and weights. Probably that. Can't gain weight without weights. Friday is definitely rest day, as Saturday is slated to be a total of 11 miles, mix of running and walking.

May 11, 2009


That word describes my 1.5 miles today. Legs hurt from yesterday. Really struggled to get up the damn hill. Coming back down the hill was OK and no walking, but man it was all just such a struggle. Coughing up more and greener, too. Extended the route a tiny bit, maybe an extra 25 yards. Going to keep extending the route little by little until I'm running a full 3 miles every day (while, of course, doing longer distances on weekends). then I'll be ready to begin real marathon training. I'm trying to use these short runs to re-train myself in knuckling down and continuing on through the coughing spells and not walk.

Talked to nutritionist at diabetes center today. She didn't really have a lot of new information for me, and I don't think she is trained in CF nutrition needs. In fact, she asked me if I'd seen a CF dietician recently. Are you kidding me?? Most recent was a brief chat with one about five years ago.

So we talked a lot about what I can and can't digest, even with enzymes. She didn't push any particular changes other than to get more protein with breakfast and less at dinner. She generally liked my diet, but commented how whole milk is saturated fat and maybe I could use 2% or 1%. I pretty flatly turned that down. Milk fat is one of the few fats I CAN digest and I'm not going to restrict that. I'll get my HDL and LDL levels checked next time somebody sticks me for blood. Until then, I'm not concerned.

My blood sugar levels are generally good, especially before meals, though I'm going to keep track of after-meal levels, too. They are a little high. She's not certain that my doctor will prescribe insulin, but we went over the use of an insulin pen anyway. I think it's just part of the training course.

So all in all, I wasn't particularly impressed or filled with new information, but it was productive enough. Oh, and she got me a new meter. So now when the new meter comes from Abbott, I'll have a backup. This could be good to have, if these little things are going to go tits-up so often.

And under the heading of "worst ad pairings seen on the train", I give you this State Farm Ad with the next ad posted right next to it.

May 10, 2009

Running Fail

Been a while since my last post. Been out of town for much of that, lighting a show. Turned out well, but I didn't run very much - totally broke my six-days-a-week streak. Have to get back up on that horse.

Went out for 9 today. Ambitious, yes, but I thought it was doable. And it might have been but for the high winds. The bay was choppy, with white-caps, and it felt like I was running against the wind the whole time. Lots of walking today and I'd had it by the end of mile 7, so I ended my workout there. Lungs and legs felt moderately OK; I'm just out of shape.

Only three weeks 'til Brooklyn Half. :(

Next week: Healthy Kidney 10K, a race I've done three or four times already. I like this one. Also next week: Coalition for Pulmonary Fibrosis 5K run/walk. On the same day, May 16th. At almost the same time. (9 a.m. for the 10K, 10 a.m. for the 5K.) In the SAME PLACE (Central Park). They even start within a few hundred meters of each other. Anybody else suspect that someone didn't think their cunning plan all the way through? I'm going to attempt to do both, actually. Here's my thinking: If I do 2 to 3 miles of slow warmup before the 10K, I should be able to perform OK during the race and MIGHT be able to get the race done in under 1:05. Then I could join the 5K IPF walkers. Hopefully the 10K starts on time and the 5K starts late. Also hoping that the weather is as nice as today's was, sans wind.

Have seen diabetes doctor. She took me off Glyburide for now and I'm now tracking blood sugar throughout the day. General trend is that over the last ten days, my blood sugars have been climbing. Couldn't check today, though - meter is broken. Was working last night, but no go today. >:( Abbott is sending me a new one overnight.