September 20, 2009

Queens Half-Marathon: the Penultimate Race

For 60 races now, I have begun my run by listening to Garth Brook's "Standing Outside The Fire". The lyric "life is not tried, it is merely survived, if you're standing outside the fire" has been my motto, my creed, my spur. But what happens, Garth, when the fire turns to ashes?

Ah, the Queens Half: vaunted favorite of several runners I know and, until now, a complete mystery to me. Second to last in the Grand Prix line up, I have never had the chance to run it before; it was about time.

Some course, huh? I'm not going to editorialize, like I did with the Bronx course, but I think everyone agrees this is a perversely convoluted route.

I am also not posting a race report. I wrote one, but am keeping it private, as a draft. To me, it is simply a laundry list of my failures as an athlete and as a man. You can see my Runkeeper times if you click the link in the map above and you can see my NYRR official results here. [I do want to note the extraordinary measures NYRR afforded us back-of-the-packers this time around. I have zero complaints about NYRR's performance and give them props for managing such runners with grace and aplomb. The value and committment of the NYRR staff and volunteers has never been more apparent.]

Now, early in the race, while I was pondering actually dropping out, I came to a decision - and a realization. The Queens Half is not only the next-to-last Grand Prix race, but it is MY next-to-last race. I came to this one intending to use it as a litmus test to see whether I should continue training for the NYC Marathon. Some time in the first quarter of the race, I decided I will defer my entry; and further events and re-examination of that decision during the race and after have only assured me I'm right in making that choice.

I further realized that I am no longer interested in racing at all. There are many reasons for this, beginning with a distinct lack of desire. "But you've got be tough when consumed with desire, 'cause it's not enough just to stand outside the fire," Garth wrote. But I am no longer consumed by desire - or even tickled by it. This was race number 60. I have been racing for nearly five years without a real time-out from it and I may just be burnt out.

More immediately, I am tired of spending my few "me" hours in extended training for races that I'm doing worse and worse in. I'm tired of losing entire days to what is supposed to be just a couple of hours of running, but leave me wasted and unable to be productive. I am tired of being tired for the next several days. I am tired of the injuries that inevitably come with mounting miles. I am tired of paying race fees only to find that all the goddamn bagels are gone by the time I cross the finish line. I am tired of doing these monumental things without reward or return on my investment.

My very reasons for running have shifted. I have never run to maintain my CF, no matter how much I note the positive effects here. I really can't stand the activity. But I do have a competitive streak and knowing my sister is out there running despite her schedule and family demands helps keep me going. I have seen very good evidence that running keeps my diabetes in check, even more than it keeps my CF in check. And I have come to realize that when people say I'm inspiring, they're not just blowing smoke up my ass - I now have several acquaintances who have taken up running in the last couple of years, or who have decided to go from recreational jogging to tackling a serious distance race at least once. And I believe that I was one of the examples that spurred them to their decisions. I love being that.

I am NOT giving up running! All winter my goal was to strengthen my base - get steadier, increase the number of days per week that I run, but keep the mileage lower. And this is my renewed goal! My diabetes, my gout, my CF, my osteopoenia all benefit from a moderate, consistent running plan. So that, I think, wants to be my real focus for at least the next year. No more than four miles per day and no longer than my 6.7 mile loop on a weekend. I want to focus - really focus - on improving my endurance, my speed, and my flexibility. I want to run injury- and pain-free. And I want to get back to reading my running friends' blogs - something I haven't been doing because of lack of time, and suspicions (usually confirmed) that they ran a particular race better than I. Petty, I know; but I'm human.

I'm not ruling out races completely. There are fun runs that support great causes, and I'll most certainly be at next year's BEF-sponsored race, provided that comes to pass. These are things I'll decide on a case-by-case basis and probably at the last minute. I'm also not avoiding attending the races. I want to do more race photography and I want to volunteer more.

So, that's it. My mood as I slogged through Queens was somewhat buoyed by this decision and I think I'm making the right one. I will take at least the next year off from racing and hopefully rekindle the fire.

September 11, 2009

Dazed & confused

This post has nothing to do with running. Really.

I remember what I forgot on my last post, why I had posted at all: wheezing. I had a couple days of very loud wheezing. Not when I was teaching, thankfully, but at most other times. Of course, I'd been out of Pulmozyme for a couple of days...but... am I so dependent on Pulmozyme? Yes, I think so. Fortunately, I got a new prescription sent in so that now the Pulmozyme will come on 90 day cycles, instead of monthly, which should help keep me from running out!

This has been a long, hard week. Sunday, tenant moves out, fine. Monday, fixing electrical and plumbing. Getting supplies for patching and painting (which is tomorrow's big task). Thought I had a family lined up to sign the lease. They had a couple strikes against them, but I was willing to give them a change. But then they texted that they were no longer interested: had taken a walk around the neighborhood and didn't like how close I was to a porn shop. REALLY? How could you not like being close to a porn shop! LOL Ah, never mind. I'll get someone in soon enough.

So. How many fucking meltdowns do I have to witness before I get to have one of my own? I am watching people get downright desperate. There's a hungry look in everyone's eyes and they all look to me for help or guidance. Student at FIT - complete meltdown - boyfriend breaking up w/ her by phone. What an asshole. Teacher at FIT. Was kind of drowning the first class, I thought by the second class, he'd started to get his act together, but he didn't teach the content WELL...just no experience as an instructor and no natural talent for it, I guess. Well, he's been replaced and we will have a new instructor next week, the one whom I believe wrote the course content to begin with (many instructors for different sections of the course).

Then a good friend of mine got some very bad news for his business venture and is looking at having to sue his landlord or something... he was not in good shape when I went to hand him a business proposal. OK... "here's a one-sheeter; look at when you have the time, there's no reason to rush this."

Budgets melting down and I'm trying to bid on jobs I have NO idea what their previous budgets were, much less what the "reduced" budgets are. My bids are wild shots in the dark. I can either do the job for what I am quoting, or I can't do the job. Maybe I can cut 10 or 15%, but that's it. I know what I know and I know what that costs.

Expediter finally called with some interesting history of my house, though not good news. Don't yet know what this means for my renovation.

I think I'm getting slightly sicker. If I were smart, I'd call my doctor Monday morning and say, "let's do it." I feel positive about the running right now, even though I missed today's run due to weather and working 'til 8 p.m. Guess I'll put in four or five miles tomorrow, then take it easy on Sunday's half-marathon. I think my training is generally on track, though I doubt I'll meet even last year's time in the marathon. Well, who knows? But I know I'm not going to get any faster or breathe any better if I don't do IVs between now and then.

And now: soup.

September 10, 2009


Viewed upside down, as my world sometimes seems to be, it reads 6-6-6. Heh. I wonder where I was June 6, 2006? Let's take a trip in the way-back machine, shall we?

June 5, 2006 is as close as we get. I'm amazed; I remember that run.

So. I forgot to blog about last weekend's long run. went. 3 hours, 19 minutes for 16 miles. Far too much time. But it got done. Next week is Queens Half and I think I'll do a couple miles of warmup first.

Ran 4 miles Tuesday after work. Today has been one long, long day. I don't even know why I'm blogging.

September 4, 2009

Me First and the Gimme Gimme MORE OF THAT QUALITY

I'd meant to get up and run TO work this morning, which would have been my first time going in that direction. But the more I thought about it, the less I could remember what clothes were in my locker, much less if any of it was appropriate for a designer sitting at his desk drafting all day or having client meetings.

So instead, I emptied my pockets, took my running clothes in a plastic bag, and resolved to run after work.

I'd planned this 6-miler, to be sure, but by the time 4:30 rolled around and I'd been slowly getting tight and cramped in my legs all day, I thought maybe this would be a three or four-miler, ending where I usually do at Chambers street.

Now, my lungs did not behave. I'm coughing up a lot of junk - this is not a good sign. And despite three puffs of albuterol, I still had some asthmatic reaction, especially in the second and third miles. My lungs didn't open up after that, but I seemed to be able to go longer on what I had, if that makes any sense. Perhaps it was the playlist for today - a random shuffle of Me First and the Gimme Gimmes first seven albums. I especially enjoy "Love Their Country" (all country music covers) and "Ruin Johnny's Bar Mitzvah", which is the funniest album I've heard in a while.

So by the time I hit Chambers, with no deadline on my time tonight, I decided what the hell, why not at least go see what the Brooklyn Bridge looks like today. I ran over there, then started up the slope. Had the pedestrians and bicyclists been their usual spastic selves, I would have ended the run at 4.5 miles. But everybody seemed to be behaving as well as can be expected and I trotted up the bridge. I walked a good deal on that segment, of course, but not quite as much as I might have. And the downhill and connecting segment to the subway was a smooth, continuous jog. Not fast - I was getting pretty tired - but continuous; and I am very happy with that.

Once I got home: hm... therapy or shower? therapy or shower? I decided therapy comes first. And...I took Mable's cone off. She's been fully healed for a little more than a week, now - I was just waiting for the scratching behaviour to fade, which it has. She didn't even scratch at her head after the cone came off - she just set about cleaning her coat thoroughly. been 45 minutes and she's probably still at it.

September 1, 2009

This American Life

Man, I love September. It is the most perfect month, and not just because it's when I was born, but because the weather turns perfect.

Let's back up to the weekend. Sunday I was supposed to 16 miles, figured I would just do 13 or 14, about the same as last weekend, and ended up cutting it short. I just wasn't having a good run. I wasn't in pain, though that might have been the Tylenol kicking in, but I wasn't having a good running day. The energy just wasn't there. I made sure to bring Sustained Energy, as I always do on long runs and even brought and used some freebie gels from last winter, some god-awful-tasting strawberry-vanilla caffeinated shots-o-barf. And while I had *a* level of energy, it wasn't the *right* energy. I was struggling from the get-go and was very unhappy. I think this is because I pushed too hard and had that good 5-miler on Saturday.

But few runs are a complete loss and it means a total of 15 miles for the weekend, which has got to be some kind of good training, right? And I was definitely clearing my lungs of mucous. (Unfortunately, I'm clearing more and more and the oral antibiotics I'm on right now are doing nothing but giving me cracked corners of my mouth and an itchy asshole.) I also ran into a friend of mine, Mark, whom I've sometimes seen walking in the park with his wife, but never seen exercise - until this run. I was walking and I heard my name, he was jogging and had caught up from behind. I'm very proud of him! He said he doesn't go long distance - just one loop of the park - but that's a very solid distance, if you ask me. He says his fitness right now is what holds him back. He gets his heart rate up to what he can stand and just holds it there. Consequently, his jog is slow - I actually caught up to him about a mile and a half later after I'd got going again - but he's very steady in his pace. I complimented him on that.

So. Sunday felt like a waste, mostly. I also had to wonder what kind of effect this would have on my blood sugars. Would I need less Lantus or the same? It's been hard lately to second-guess my body. Shiiiiiiiiiiiiiiitttttt.

So the world turns 'round and all of a sudden, it's today and I'm determined to leave work a half hour early (after staying 'til nearly 8 last night) and do 4 miles along the west side. Probably should have gone for the six, but I didn't think about it. I literally didn't think about this run and had an actual easy 4-miler. Slow, but easy. I walked when I felt like it; I enjoyed the beautiful weather and marveled at how clean the air was today. Unfortunately, I'd forgotten to take a puff on my inhaler before I left work, so I was taking it a little easier than I'd wanted, but that was OK.

I was listening intently to my podcast, This American Life, the bad apple episode - Ruining It For The Rest Of Us. I'd JUST been talking to my colleague, Nico, about whether he'd be taking Mayor Bloomberg up on his offer to get all schoolchildren free flue vaccine this year. Nico is concerned. And then on this podcast, there was a segment about the moms who purposely don't get their kids vaccinated because of safety concerns or the now-debunked autism concerns. Nico's reasons are entirely different than what were mentioned in the podcast. The podcast was quite sobering - or that segment at least - and I had a lot to think about as I made my way past the heliport and Chelsea Piers.

Then the podcast turned to a segment with Mike Burbiglia, a comedian. I like this guy's work, but was not prepared for the laughter this time. At one point, a half-mile short of the end of my run, he said something that had me doubled over with laughter, just howling out loud. I'm sure the other joggers thought I was crazy. Of course, my laughing often turns to coughing, so I parked my butt on a bench to try to get some control over my lungs. And, man, when your butt hits the bench, your work out is over, you know? My last half-mile was a good one, but pretty much just phoned in. I had no leg pain the entire time - my stretching and foam rolling this weekend really helped.

My RunKeeper said 4.14 miles, but that can't be right. I think it's 3.9 or 4. Well, I'll let the resulting sub-12-minute pace stroke my ego for awhile. Plans are to get up tomorrow morning and put in another four or five before going to work.