June 29, 2009

I'm an idiot

One mile today; torture; awful. Got up too late, ran too late; no energy. We'll call it a rest day.

Here's the problem: I haven't been sleeping well lately. I'll go to bed about 11 p.m., aiming to get up at 7 or 8. This is a good plan, except that I get the jimmy legs (and sometimes arms) right away and so I toss and turn half the night. About 3 or 4 in the morning, I'll get up and take some Advil, which seems to suppress these unwanted nerve impulses and finally get to some sleep. Of course, I'm then too tired to get up when I'm supposed to, so I sleep in - and that's not helping me get out the door.

I've had this problem briefly and intermittently since I was a teenager, but for the last three weeks, it's been something I could bet on. So why am I an idiot? Because I haven't taken the Advil before bed. I think I'll try that tonight.*

I'm also bumping my indomethicin to twice a day because the gout, while not sever, is nearly constant. I'm just fine while running and exercising - or even wearing shoes at any time - but as soon as I'm barefoot or in slippers or taking off/putting on shoes, it hits. This, too, makes sleep difficult.

*Yes, I know there's drugs for restless leg syndrome. I am unwilling a) to diagnose myself with that and b) to take yet another pill. Advil does just fine.

Something neat: I get a quarterly MetRx "magazine", which is essentially a multiple-page advertisement for its products. It barely escapes the label "brochure" by the addition of several actual articles of interest. As an on-again, off-again writer for a couple of publications, even I know how cheap it is to send someone to a race to interview an elite athlete for a few minutes (who is already a paid endorser for the company) and take their picture. If inclusion of some non-advertising content in the sales tool makes it literature enough to need a masthead, then who am I to argue? The current issue is fun. Great photography, easy to read, great advice for beginners on a variety of sports - all aimed to keep you buying the product, of course. But one thing jumped right out at me: a quote by Jay Hewitt, an Ironman, who lives in the same town as my bro and sis.

"Jay on living with diabetes: You have to make the bad thing that happens to you the best thing that ever happened to you. Diabetes is difficult, but it motivates me to be healthy and reach the finish line. It makes me want to prove that I am stronger than it is, no matter how bad I feel--even if I have to crawl across that line. You have to earn your finish line, and you do that not on race day, but every day when no one is watching you."

THIS. So much THIS.

June 28, 2009

Daddy needs a new pair o' shoes

Woke up yesterday morning after a fitful night's sleep and decided to go ahead and run that morning's race. I wasn't even sure how long it would be - I assumed a 4-miler - or if registration had closed or not. Regardless, it was sure to be a beautiful morning for running.

I was able to register and got the gayest t-shirt ever. Not surprising, considering this was the Pride Run, always held during Pride Week, which celebrates the anniversary (40 years this time) of the Stonewall Riot. The Stonewall Tavern, of course, is a rinky-dink little hole in the wall over near Christopher Street - it's amazing where history can find its seeds.

Anyway, the race turned out to be 5 miles. I got in about a mile of warmup before the race and opted to run shirtless, even though I didn't see anybody else doing so. I was already warm, but apparently, the high-60s hadn't discomfited anyone else yet. Hah! Just wait... For once, there were no brown or grey bibs - just a variety of gaily-colored bibs and I got a pink one, which was for an estimated 10 minute/mile pace. I knew I wouldn't be running that, but I hoped to do a little better than 11 min/mile.

The course took the easy route, with the first mile cutting off the Harlem hills and dealing with the West side hills, then down down down in a breezy second mile, third mile rounded the bottom of the park, fourth mile contained Cat Hill, and the fifth mile was a mostly-flat wrapup to the downhill finish. Frankly, I started conservatively, not figuring to really race this, but just see what the state of the union is, if you know what I mean. After so many, many days of rain, I was feeling the need for some company and hoped to God I'd have a decent time.

I had no pain, made sure to take some albuterol, and had a half-cup water at the first four water stops. The first mile was about normal for me in that area, walking about half the big hills, but managing to tackle the shallower hills. The second mile would have been perfectly continuous had I not walked for some water. I was already sweating heavily by that point, so I think the water stops were a good idea for me. I didn't want to bonk due to improper hydration. The third mile felt pretty good, too and I was feeling warmed up and ready to tackle the last two miles. Fourth mile was a bitch, largely due to Cat Hill, but I managed to at least reach the Cat (halfway up) before walking. Quite a victory, considering where I was just a few months ago.

The fifth mile was good - I didn't run it as fast as mile two, but I didn't stop at all. I was running out of energy; I kept a mental image in my head of the night back in 2003 when a buddy and I headed out across an estimated 130 miles of desert before the next gas stop. It was a ride we intentionally took it easy on the throttle, limiting our speed to mid-rpm 65 mph and trying not to vary that and extend our gas mileage. I had never made it 130 miles on my 3.3 gallon tank, and this last mile in this race felt very much like those trepidatious two hours. I needed to just keep the running at a moderate, steady pace and see if I could outlast the road.

A quarter-mile from the finish, I knew I'd make it and that if I were careful, I could crack open the throttle a little bit. I concentrate not on a faster turnover, but extending my stride a few more inches, envisioning longer pushrods in the cylinders. Finally, the finish was upon me about a hundred before I thought it would be and for the last 50 yards I pushed hard, loping through the chute in an odd gazelle-like manner. I've never used that gait before and I have no idea where it came from. Finishing felt great and for the first time I can recall, I didn't collapse into a coughing fit right after.

54:20 - a 10:52 pace. A long way from a PR, but I've had worse races.

I gratefully received a bag of hard-baked, sodium-chloride-encrusted carbohydrate twists, and a stick of frozen, flavored sugar-water (known as pretzels and popsicle to the imprecise). I got my bag, sat down on a bench in the shade, and enjoyed my food while checking blood sugar. I squirmed the new gayest-t-shirt-ever over my head and cringed at the feeling of cotton on dried-sweat-skin. This feeling is to me like fingernails on a blackboard is to you. I should maybe have opted for the nylon shirt I'd come in. I also ran into a fellow Team Boomer runner - her name is slipping my mind right now - with a new Team member training for her first half, which will be the NYC Half. I was very pleased to see them.

On the way home, I reflected that June is at an end and marathon training must begin. I am considering the 16-week training program Bart Yasso outlines in this month's Runner's World. It is demanding. I have no illusions about completing every run, but this program is definitely for the experienced runner. He offers suggestions on modifying the program for beginners or those who are injury-prone. With my health in its current good state, I think I can do pretty good with the program, though it is ambitious.

I also took a look at my current running shoes. There are wear indications that these shoes will not last me 'til November 1st. And I'd really like to do most of my training in the pair of shoes I'll do the marathon in. So I went online and ordered the next generation of my shoes. This time, they come in BLACK, even in womens', and by ordering from Kelly's Running Warehouse, I got them for 20% less than anywhere else, with free shipping. Considering the last two generations of this shoe are still selling on eBay for more than that PLUS shipping, I think I got a steal.

Looking at these puppies, I can just hear the bionic sound effects.
Today, I went out for some miles. Very tired...managed three miles, but not high-quality. Almost did it just for the joy of enjoying sunny weather, I guess. Maybe should have rested, but what the hell. Tomorrow, probably four miles and a gym workout, though I have a reading to go for the play I'm lighting in August, so I better get my timing right.

June 26, 2009

gym workout

Though it was sunny most of today, it was pretty warm, too, and I hadn't been to the gym in a number of days, so that's where I headed. I make sure to bring clean clothes this time, though, as last time I hit the grocery after the gym, I got some sidelong glances.

30 minutes stationary bike, 1 mile on the treadmill with ever-increasing pace and incline. I could have gone further, actually. I felt like I had another quarter-mile in me, maybe. Stretching and foam rolling after that, and work with the foot board. Pushups (30), pullups (13), and situps (30).

Some of what I do at the gym is to duplicate the exercises the sports therapist makes me do when I'm injured. In that way, I hope to not get injured. I am lax about using therabands, though, and will have to start bringing my own. Sure, I could do those just as well at home, but it isn't the same. Being at the gym makes me focus on JUST working out, instead of being distracted by emails, TV, phone calls, and the like.

There are, however, TVs at the gym. In fact, most of the bikes and treadmills and ellipticals, and stairmasters ad nauseum have a TV in front the turns on when you plug in your headphones. So while riding the bike, I watched the news. I watched in vain for anything on the crisis in Iran - the coverage was 100% MJ. Now, I'm sorry he passed, but so did two other stars and a whole lot of people in Iran! I wish we had our priorities straight.

I am amused by some of the commercials on those TVs. It must be some kind of gym-TV service because I haven't seen some of these commercials anywhere else, like the one for diabetes, urging people to "know your number". Every time I see the woman reeling off statistics about how many diabetics there are in America, I feel like raising my hand - only that would mean the heartrate monitor on the bike would stop working for a minute.

I'm also amused by the people who come work out for 10 minutes. I grant that some of them shouldn't work out for more than that, not 'til they lose some weight, and I'm happy to see them there; but there are definitely some actor-types who sort of fart around on the equipment for ten or fifteen minutes then go preen in front of the lockerroom mirrors for half an hour. Sheesh. Me, I'm in and out of that locker room as fast as I can.

Really? More RAIN? REALLY??

I'm *this* close to throwing myself off a fuckin' bridge. One day of nice weather in 25 days, or thereabouts; and already we're going to get hit with giant rainstorms and hailstorms again today.


June 25, 2009

Sunshine at last!

My mind was all over the place today as I ran - a vortex of unrelated, disconnected thoughts. I had a hard time concentrating on the run at hand.

I rested yesterday. After my quality hills workout the day before, and given the gloomy rain/sun/rain pattern of the day, I decided to take my rest day mid-week.

So today, with the weather changing for the better and the humidity WAY down, I went out for what I intended to be two miles. At first, my legs were very unsteady and stiff, a result of having taking the day off yesterday. And my mind was playing the Doogie Howser M.D. theme song. As I came across some construction scaffolding on my flat warehouse-district route, I stopped a moment for pullups (13) and continued on. I was running shirtless and generally staying in the building shadows and by the time I hit the turnaround point for a two-mile run, I'd decided to stretch it out a little bit. My legs were beginning to feel fresher and my lungs were so much happier in the lower humidity. That little bit turned into an extra two miles. I just kept going 'til I reached my regular turnaround point on that route, where I leave 2nd Ave and turn down the path into Owl's Head Park. The run home was pretty good, too. Not to say that I didn't walk some, but my walk breaks were infrequent and short. I'm almost to the point of stringing whole miles together after I get warmed up.

My head, though, was bouncing all over the place, from wondering about the BFA program my department is putting together at FIT to the new construction there to the plotline of the current book I'm reading (which has been keeping me up late into the night) to how much I need to get my hands on a weed whacker and tame the jungle that is my back yard.

After my run, I check my blood sugars - a little high for having just burned 45 minutes - took some insulin and downed about 160g of carbs in cereal and chocolate milk. I need to augment my breakfast and lunches w/ more protein, I know; but I LIKE some carbs post-workout. Unfortunately, I'm going to hear it from the nutritionist after I send her my sheets tomorrow; I forgot to take my blood sugar reading after dinner last night and also forgot my evening shot of Lantus - which is probably why my blood sugars are so high today. Well, I'll get that under better control. Going to the Vectorworks meeting last night and downing two glasses of wine and a bunch of fruit could not have helped.

OK, I need to shower now - I am going to a performance tonight (choreographer I'll be lighting for later this summer) and then going to have a beer with a friend who's moving to Nashville end of the week. Why is it that just as I make some good friends, they all move?? :(

June 23, 2009

Aborted rest day

I know I took Saturday off, but I'm not exercising today, other than some walking. I haven't had any real energy in my workouts the last three days, so maybe I need a day off for my legs. Eat well, sleep well, get some bills paid. I'm trying to troubleshoot a single quirk in my internet connection that won't let me upload usage logs to the makers of my CAD software.

I went to a composition recital last night, Leo Seoda's, a fellow I'll be working with later this summer. He is immensely talented. Tonight I'm going to the Morgan Library. Right now, I'm listening to Obama's news conference. This Iran thing has me riveted.

How do you like the new look? I'll continue to tweak it, so it isn't quite as contrasty on the eyes.

Sun came out and I went running. Quality 2.25 mile hill workout. Very, very little walking. Probably the fastest I've run this route in six months or more.

June 21, 2009

Beast-ie Boys

Well, ya wake up late for school and you don't wanna go...

Rain. The rain just doesn't stop. I got out today for 5.8 miles. The humidity really had an impact and I was walking frequently, though not for long stretches. My legs felt good and I generally felt strong, but had forgotten to bring fluid, so I was pretty greedy at the one fountain I passed about mile 3. I ran into Beast about mile 4. Here I was sweating my ass off, shirtless, walking, getting pretty tired, and wondering how I'm going to be ready for marathon training. Beast, on the other hand, looked cool and collected in his tri gear. Turns out he'd biked 100 miles that morning and was going for a short 5-miler for fun. He'd done a half-Ironman last weekend and is thinking about doing one next weekend. He's in training for a 150-miler. Holy crap. Amazing.

Finished the run on a downhill, so that felt pretty good. I reflected that it is time I strapped the running watch back on and started keeping track of these things formally again.

Rain returned in the afternoon.

My neighbor gave me a bunch of CDs before he moved and I've been importing them into iTunes. Lots of hard rock, heavy metal, electronica, that sort of thing, but also some classic old school anger music. I especially like the Beastie Boys. I'm so lame.

June 20, 2009

the soul-sucking rain

When people say the rain SUCKS, this is what they mean: it just sucks the soul and willpower and drive right out of you. Well, out of me, at least.

I had to force myself to go to the gym. I couldn't stand the thought of actually running in this weather, so I went to the gym. I put in a bad 30 minutes on the bike, unable to ramp it up to my normal effort level. That's according to the bike's numbers; my perceived level of exertion was right up there. I was sweating heavily and my heartrate was as high as it usually is, but my legs just didn't have it.

After that, I put in a mile on the treadmill, slowly ramping up from 5.5 miles per hour to 6.0 and increasing the incline from 0 to 1 degree. Doesn't sound like much, but this was my first time on the treadmill in forever. I paused for coughing only once and it wasn't very long. Actually, I think if I do one dedicated treadmill workout per week, slowly increasing pace and distance, then I can train myself back up to where I was three years ago and perhaps set a PR in September at the 5th Avenue Mile. At the very least, I need to relearn pacing and how to keep going through minor coughing fits.

I wrapped up my hour-long workout (maybe an hour and fifteen minutes) with stretching and weights. The stretching went very well, and I threw in some pushups, crunches, and pullups. Again, I felt weak throughout. I could only manage 30 pushups, 12 pullups, and a measly 15 crunches. On a regular day, I can do 50% more than that. Crunches & situps are my weak spot; I need to do more of them.

Weights were OK. I didn't have alot of time and the machines were very crowded, but I can definitely lift more than I could two months ago. Again, lacking energy, I found it difficult to complete my third sets and I didn't do all of the routines I usually do. *sigh*

The thing that worries me is that even though I AM growing stronger and can even see the results in the mirror, I'm not gaining any weight! I won't get truly concerned for another month or so, but I've got to put on some pounds! Marathon training begins in 10 days and it's a sure bet I'll be burning as much energy as I consume during the second half of training. So I have to put on pounds NOW.

June 19, 2009

iphone 3gs

Went to ReFi Rock last night, which was a benefit for BEF. Spent way too much on drinks, but the bands were good. Couldn't stay too late, though. I did see Jerry, who was selling Team Boomer gear, and met a guy who was really pushing the Toughman half-Ironman event. The event was held onboard The Intrepid and it was my first time there since the refit. I like a lot of what they did, but much of the museum was roped off for the night. I'd like to go back on a sunny day. I also wonder if the Intrepid will again host the Gotham Classic motorcycle show in the fall?

Funny thing is, after my nationwide exposure via CBS, I've never been recognized by people I don't know because of it. But last night, one of the women working for BEF and working the VIP entry desk recognized me and called me by name. Ah...she was pretty. Wish I'd gotten her number.

The new iphone is in. FedEx guy rang the bell and I happened to be walking out of the house at the same time. He mentioned that printing off the signature release form does nothing. They still have to get a live person to sign.

First things first: went for a 2-mile run. VERY difficult today due to humidity. Crazy. (Hopefully tomorrow will be better and that I can get out between rain showers. I'm damn sick of the rain, I can tell you. We didn't have any today, but it was still mostly overcast, things were wet, and the humidity was high. We need a break! I have moss growing on my stoop!)

Next: put on Invisible Skin. Always protect your electronics!

Next: Wait six hours. So that any remaining Invisible Skin application fluid is dried and gone. THEN plug in phone, let it register on the network, and direct iTunes to do it's thing.

First impressions: lots and lots and lots of little improvements in iphone 3.0 OS. Cut and Paste will be a godsend, I can see already. Keyboard feels more accurate, clickier, somehow. Voiceover will take some practice as pronunciation must be clear, but it is pretty damn good. (Drivers who insist on talking on the phone while they drive, take note! Your days are numbered anyhow, but in the meantime, please get a phone with some kind of voice activation feature and keep your eyes on the road and your hands on the wheel!)

It has a compass. How odd. Well, we'll see if having GPS and a compass helps me save the world someday. Or keeps me from having to spend the night in the desert like this fellow CFer: http://donmckenzie.ca/

There was some improvement I noticed just from the control panes in iTunes, but I've forgotten already. Oh, wait - encrypted iphone backups! Very important.

But something nobody has mentioned yet and I found by accident in the iPhone settings at the very bottom: Nike+ works with this iPhone!!! Hallelujah! Now I just gotta find my sensor...



June 17, 2009

cemetary loop

3.8 miles around Greenwood Cemetary. A good run all around. Lungs felt good, legs felt pretty good, especially after taking a Tylenol early and then getting stuck chatting with the owner next door (absentee landlord), who wonders why all of his tenants are moving out. A better question would be, why do all your tenants always move as soon as their leases are up, or even before? Hm?

Anyway, the run was good, done under cloudy skies, but with no chance of rain and some nice cooling breezes. Not a lot of walking, except coming up the big hill on the northeast side. The whole run probably took about 42 minutes. May have to start wearing my watch again. I wish I had more runs of this quality.

Made sure to stretch and eat good food right after the run, which this time included wasabi-soy-sauce almonds. These are great! Like wasabi peas and almonds mixed together. Not quite as good as cocoa-roast, though, which I have yet to see available in stores.


There is arguably only one character in the entire Star Wars canon who lives through the entire six-Episode storyline - R2D2. There are, in fact, only four characters seen in all six episodes: Anakin Skywalker, Obi-Wan Kenobi, C3PO, and R2D2. But Anakin, as Vader, dies before the end of Episode Six, bringing balance to the force. (Purists may argue that Anakin died and Vader was born during Episode 3, as old Obi-Wan explains, but let's leave split-personality issues aside for now.) Obi-Wan, of course, does well through the first three episodes, but then gets cut down in A New Hope, after which we see him only as part of the Force during brief moments in Episodes 5 and 6. C3PO, while present in every episode, is more-or-less born mid-way through Episode One - he's not even complete yet - and is also more-or-less reincarnated between Episodes 3 and 4; his memory gets wiped. Same body, different memories - non-continuous character. Only R2D2 is at all times present in this saga. He is introduced as a fully active, experienced repair droid in Episode 1, retains his memory throughout the series, and is present right to the end of Episode 6.

Why do I bring this up?

Well, tonight I attende a CF benefit concert given by my friend Janine Ullyette and a bevy of her friends. Janine is a singer w/ CF and this was her sixth annual benefit. It was an outstanding program, and I enjoyed seeing her and spending time with my friend Melissa. I hope I don't miss it next year. Many great numbers, including a rendition of My Funny Valentine by Luigi Creatore's wife Joyce Weston, one of the later Chordettes, known for Mr Sandman:

Coming home, I was thinking about Janine's life. She is one of four sisters, two others also have CF; the oldest did not. Janine has already lost one younger sister to CF, and lost her older sister to cancer. I couldn't help but imagine how Janine must sometimes feel - maybe a little like R2D2 in Episode One, where he and the other repair droids are trying to ge the ship functioning again but the droids are getting picked off one-by-one. As R2 works, his comrades - virtually identical to he - are getting obliterated around him. Yet he remains. He alone survives. I have felt that way myself sometimes. (Okay, he gets badly damaged during the final battle in Episode 4, but since he comes back repaired AND with memory intact, I don't count that as death.)

It's nothing new, of course, this confusion that those who survive may have. It might even turn into survivors' guilt. Why me? is a common question. Or, rather, why not me? I don't have any answers, but I suspect it stems from a natural human aversion to the random. Well-researched correlations with cancerous agents notwithstanding, cancer is random. Anybody can get cancer, of any of a hundred types. Anybody can shot down in the street. Anybody can get hit by a bus. And these are the things we're afraid of. If something is controlled enough to appear not to be random, we are very brazen about it.

For instance, your odds of dying in a plane crash are 1 in 20,000*. Lighting strike, 1 in over 80,000. Yet we cheerfully get on planes all the time. But if there's a lightning storm out, we daren't cross an open field, much less stay outside. I think there's that fear of the randomness of the lightning strike that makes us so much more fearful of it. Hell, we get into cars every day and we stand lifetime odds of dying in a car wreck of 1:100! Venomous bite/sting: 1:100,000. Yet which one are we afraid of, and which do we cheerfully submit ourselves to? I think those items where we have controlled or mitigated every conceivable factor, we stop worrying about. The ones where sheer random occurrance reigns supreme, we fret needlessly.

Maybe this is why I am not overly concerned about dying of CF, even though it is highly likely. But put me on a bicycle in this city and I want to check that my life insurance policy is current. It FEELS like there's more under control with my health than when I'm out on the bicycle. And that's just the bitch of it - there's probably no less randomness with the CF than there is with the bicycle or cancer.

I don't think about this all the time, honestly; but sometimes it comes home to me. Sometimes, I feel a little bit like R2D2. I wonder if Janine ever feels that way?

*taken from National Center for Health Statistics, CDC
Sunday - shortened run. Had no energy after Saturday's carousing. Short but good. Monday, 2 miles, pretty decent; should have gone longer, but rain threatened. Today, skipped the run - 30m on stationary bicycle plus an hour of stretches and weights. Will be sore tomorrow!

June 13, 2009

Rest day

Saw "Not About Romanian Cinema", a 2-hour dance/installation piece at St. Mark's last night. Many interesting segments and some very fascinating use of cubes designed by Ralph Lee that this artist has been using for a decade. The cubes had sides that could be put on and taken off and which acted as projection screens. Fascinating, configurable, flexible - perfect for dance & multimedia.

It was all lit by my friend Rie, and so we hung out after with her two friends who helped organize this performance. We ended up at a Ukranian restaurant that is so well-hidden that even though I used to go to school in the area, I had no idea it was there.

And I will be going back! We hit the restaurant just shades before midnight and most of the people there were in the back room dancing, so it was pretty much just us four. We ordered some beers and then my three companions had borscht while I indulged in the most awesome, incredibly good challah french toast ever.

I tried to guesstimate the amount of carbs I was about to eat and took 2 units of insulin to cover - probably should have taken three, but it was a close guess. Two hours later, I was at 258, so not too high. It was also my first experience (not seeing a restroom close by) shooting up at the table. Our producer-type companion (I forget her name just now) noticed by meter and asked if I were diabetic or pre. What a precise question! Turns out her niece is diabetic. I also made a bit of show-and-tell regarding the insulin pen as I took my dose, expounding on how freakishly simple and pain-free the whole thing is and how I thank my lucky stars this isn't twenty years ago.

I feel good this morning; mentally and physically, but tired. I have a busy day tomorrow, including a stoop sale and a 9-mile run, so I'm resting today - watching NCAA track & field finals and doing laundry. For the first time since diagnosis, I am truly calm and at peace with this diabetes. Last night made me realize that I'm already developing the habits I will need to manage this the rest of my life - and it's just not that hard.

June 12, 2009

You're the best...a-round...

Wow it got humid! Rained all morning and then the sun came out, resulting in 76 degrees and 75% humidity. This is very near my go/no-go of 80/80. But... go I did. Extended my daily short route to 2-3/8 miles. It really hurt on the way out - knees, hips, ankles...a product, I still believe, of that last hard weights workout. But things got better after the first mile was done and the return trip was nearly flawless. It helps that it's mostly downhill, of course. :)

I was listening to Coverville and Brian mentioned - didn't even play, mind you - that Karate Kid song. "You're the best. Around. ....."

This got stuck in my head, of course, and contributed to the good second mile. I considering extending the run to a third mile, but as I had not brought water with me and was already getting a headache from dehydration, decided to tackle that another day.

So the question of the day is: would you sweep the knee?

A little reward for the run: coffee and a muffin from the bodega. I felt weird going into a food place without a shirt, but what the hell. I wanted a muffin. 2 units of Novolog in, muffin in...mmmmmm good. This reminds me: hanging out at the diabetes forum, I have begun to feel sorry for Type IIs. Those poor suckers can't simply decide to have a muffin and then take insulin to cover. They have insulin resistance, so their best strategy is primarily to reduce carbs. Poor bastards.

June 11, 2009

Rainy Run

Is it possible to have a run that sucks, but is pretty good anyhow?

I tried to outwait the drizzle, but it had really set in for the long run, so I went out for 2 miles anyway. Misty drizzle is OK, I guess; better than a hard rain. As is usual for me, I made it over a couple blocks and up to 5th avenue where the construction is happening before being hit by a coughing fit. As I was bent over hacking up a lung, I hear somebody saying, "You gotta run! You gotta run!"

It was the same construction guy as from yesterday - he recognized me. He said he used to be in Recon and they'd be doing 6 minute miles for miles on end. He looked like he certainly could have been military...I don't know whether to believe him or not. I liked his friendliness, though.

Run got done - hill route today. I managed to run the whole of the first and third hills and about 2/3 of the second, which is why the run was so good. But it also sucked because of the drizzle and the fact that my stomach hurt and my calves and shins hurt. Quite unusual. Hopefully tomorrow's run will be better.

June 10, 2009

Catching up; falling down.

Well. What a strange last 10 days or so it's been, weather-wise. Storms, then sunshine, then storms, with nothing moderate in-between. Even my roofer is a little spooked by it.

So, yeah, called the roofer and had him come back. After Sunday and Monday's storms, I checked the roof and decided that while the low spot was better, it still wasn't good enough, particularly since it meant the big puddle sat squarely over a seam in the roofing. Now, I trust that Alex's team did seal the seam, but I don't KNOW that it's a perfect seal, especially since there were a few spots where the flashing cement wasn't showing (squeezed out between the overlapping sheets). So Alex spent some time today trying to even out the low spot and I'm satisfied that the extra layer will, if nothing else, prevent water from leaking down through the roof, even if drainage will never be spot-on perfect. (It isn't perfect on any of these roofs.)

After that, I went for a short run. I'd meant to go out a lot earlier and do maybe 5 miles, but between the roofers and how sore I was from yesterday's workout, I just did my usual 2 miles. My reasoning is that it is better to get out EVERY DAY and do a workout of some kind, even if it's short, and to build up that habit while I can, before marathon training starts. Hope I'm right.

Now, yesterday's workout was 30m stationary bike on the "Alpine Pass" program, which varies in resistance a little too much for me. I was constantly dialing up resistance during the valleys and dialing it down at the hardest peaks. With that done, I stretched, foam-rolled, then lifted weights for an hour. I'm getting stronger already, I can tell. But I might have overdone it, as I was pretty sore this morning, especially in the calves.

So, of course, that's another reason to go exercise - to work out post-workout soreness, right? And then something happened that hasn't happened to me in a couple years - I tripped and fell. I don't know what I tripped OVER. I was on perfectly flat, level sidewalk; pretty good sidewalk, actually, with no cracks or tilts. WTF? It was one of those slo-mo deals where the moment you trip, it registers, and you can see impact coming. I hit palms-down, though I was already trying to make it a roll, and so I scuffed up my hands, right forearm, and right knee and calf. Not bad. My luck didn't get any better after that. Not 30 seconds later, as I was up and running again, I coughed up a big ol' glob and while spitting it out, didn't aim well enough or something and got it all over my right leg. Still, I finished the run, though not very well.

I hope tomorrow brings some damn sunshine for a change.

June 8, 2009

NYRR Mini 10K 2009

Strong. Athletic. Determined. Tough. Waterproof. Like Hefty trash bags, these women are purpose-driven creations of their training, their very existence shaped by the grindstone of practice, honed by focus and concentration, and when put to the test, are strong enough to stretch, not break. Unlike Hefty trash bags, though, these women need can do this over and over; and are probably annoyed by this metaphor and my sophomoric writing. So let's move on to pictures.


From Mini 10K 2009

June 7, 2009


So it's funny how coincidences can just come together. I've been reading an Uncle John's book, Salute to the Armed Forces, and yesterday morning came across a section on something I didn't know existed: gliders in WWII. They were used to deliver troops and supplies into war zones and were throw-away craft. Not fifteen minutes later, I'm logged into a news-aggregator website and click on the comments for the requisite D-Day link and the very first comment was from a guy describing how his grandfather flew gliders in under fire! Then, later that night, a friend hands me a copy of Letters From Iwo Jima, which I'm ripping now for my iPod. I don't know that that has any gliders in it, tho.

Running this week has been a little lumpy, but it got done. Saturday was 5 miles, a little slow due to heat - and this while the roofers were getting their job done.

Today, I got early and met M to go to the Mini 10K. I took pictures all morning and will get some links up in here ASAP.

But right now, the Tonys are on. I already know my former teacher Brian MacDevitt won for best lighting design. Yay, Brian! Unfortunately, that means a man I twice assisted, Howell Binkley, has to be satisfied with another nom on his enviable record.

And holy shit, is that Dolly Parton on my Tonys? And Liza-fuckng-Minelli herself? Awesome. But it still doesn't lessen my burn over how fuckng commercialized the televised awards show is now. They're cutting so much to feature more and more performer-focused content. American Theatre Wing needs to get control over this again, move it back to PBS and give it back its dignity.

Oh, I did go see my friend Matt Smedburg in Verdi's A Masked Ball two nights ago. It was a nice little opera at a poor Brooklyn playhouse. Matt is off to Vanderbilt in a few weeks for studies in math and I wish him the best.

June 2, 2009


"What are you going to write about?"
"I'm not sure. I don't know that I have anything more to say. Maybe I should just thank everyone for reading, it's been fun, and shut it down like I've been thinking about."
"But what have you learned?"
"..." "I don't know that I've learned anything."
"Surely something has changed in all this time."
"...and since your blog is still here, what does that mean?"

Act I: If You're Not Growing, You're Dying

I'm not going to compare this to a journey. It is too trite, too cliché. Let us think of it as a discussion at intermission, where we both know what has transpired, but we want to get a better grasp on what it means so far, before going back in to see the rest of the show.

Is it possible that in 499 posts, I have used up all that I have to say about life, running, and my health? I have been thinking about this post for a week; knowing that this is a milestone a lot of blogs don't achieve - fading away a few dozen posts in or being angrily ripped out of the fertile soil of the Internet, leaving only disconnected roots behind, broken links elsewhere all pointing to a space that was once a vibrant and energetic thing and is now a drying hole in the web. I had things to say, but now I don't know what.

Is it possible I have been running for five years? My blog feels older than that, my running doesn't. Hell, most days, I feel like I'm taking my very first steps, constantly relearning what my body can do and how far my mind can push it. It is always a surprise, usually a good one.

If something isn't growing, it's dying. By this, I mean that true stasis is the stuff of science fiction. If nothing else, a lack of growth indicates stagnation. And that is just very slow death. So let it be with blogs, with running, with our health. Growing older doesn't necessarily mean declining - it can mean growth, an expansion of capabilities, an enhancement of routines. In that sense, these last five years have seen a remarkeable growth in my abilities as a runner. Oh, perhaps not in speed or raw ability, but I have grown smarter; I finish races feeling human still, have no problems with hydration or fueling, and suffer injury a lot less. I've learned longevity. The lessons I've learned that have brought me here have been hard-earned and could hardly have taken less time than they did.

Act II: The Raw Soul

I've accomplished a lot in my 37 years, very little of which matters. I became an Eagle Scout at 13, graduated 3rd in my class at 17. I was an leader in college, earned two education degrees and a masters, then went on to earn my MFA from a prestigious arts school. I've earned awards for my design work and have been involved in some memorable and high-profile projects. I became a homeowner and a landlord. I've visited national monuments and been in every state. I even slept at the Arctic Circle. But all of that is superficial, for deep down inside there is the raw soul. There is a part of us that is shaped by our experiences, but is not defined by them. The very core of our being is almost immutable - and unseeable. From day to day, we know not who we are. We act our characters for the different audiences around us and are satisfied that that is who we are. But it's not true.

Running has brought me to the extreme white edge, where all that is superficial is - for a moment - stripped away and my raw soul is laid bare. For a brief moment in time, I saw myself as I truly am. I believe it happens to anyone whose endurance is pushed beyond reasonable limits; and then a little further still. It may not be pretty - our raw souls are often more noble than we thought, but have ugly edges, too. Certain events will open up your shields, strip your defenses, and make you shed all the bullshit you clothe yourself with. My first marathon certainly did that to me, as did the half-marathon where I set my PR. Why do people do their first endurance event? Many reasons. But ask any returning endurance athlete why they're doing it and the answers are likely different than when they did their first. A lot of those answers conceal the simple fact that they want to expose their soul again, strip away the trappings of civilization - and see if they're still human. It's addictive. It's the non-bannable drug of the extremist.

I have sometimes tried to capture that moment in these 500 posts, but you can never adequately describe that moment of being stripped of all you think you are. The experience of encountering your raw soul is akin to pain; you may use words to describe it, but you can never do it justice. You can remember moments of having been in pain, but can't recall the actual sensation - until it returns.

Act III: An Economy of Entropy

Time will win out in the end. But for these five years, I've managed to reverse some of the effects of working too hard and not getting enough sleep through college, grad school, and beyond. The rain and sunshine and cold and heat is taking its toll on my shell, in exchange for hosting my efforts to keep my heart and lungs young.

What has helped me stem the flow of time is a different outlook on life than I had when all this began. Exercise is far more important to me than it was back then; eating right is more important. I'm trying to prevent the inevitable, I suppose, just like every runner out there. (I'm certainly not running for the sheer joy of it - I've never learned that trick.) Many people run for their health, and that's of supreme importance to me. When I began this blog, I had one chronic condition; now I have four. Running helps all of them, believe it or not. Bone density can be helped partly by weight-bearin exercise; the gout seems to stay away if I abstain from heavy drinking and run regularly; my lungs do as well as they can, given the constant fight against infection; and now diabetes has come along and running is an easy way to get blood sugars down for a while. And despite all that - and several rounds of IV antibiotics - I have to ask, "has my health really gotten any worse?" A little, but not nearly as much as if I hadn't started running.

What hasn't changed? What things has Time been unable to degrade around me? Well, my hair is still long, still untouched by gray, and my eyesight is as its been for seven or eight years. Though it has gone up and down temporarily, my weight is the same as it was when I left grad school: 122. I am still single, still looking. I'm still here, and I guess I'm not going anywhere for awhile.

"I'm not sure any of that means anything yet. Maybe I wasn't paying enough attention along the way."
"Well, it certainly sounds pithy enough."
"Hey, that's just how I-- naw, I'm not using that ol' line. Perhaps it's time to return to the main event, see what lies ahead."
"Once more, dear friends, unto the breech?"