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  I apologize to my two loyal readers, it’s been quite a while since I’ve posted.  It’s been a long winter for me and one of a lot of disappointments.

  My marathon training ended on 2/24/2011, the day I came down with para influenza.  I was on the couch for 3 solid weeks.  After the second week, I felt good enough to try to run.  I attempted a 12 miler and I honestly think that put me back on the couch for the third week.  When I did start feeling better, I attempted to prep myself to do the half marathon.  Then my sinuses flared up and I strained my left calf.  It was at that point that I called it off and scheduled my first ever sinus surgery, which was just a week and a half ago.

  I knew that I couldn’t come back from missing 3+ weeks and run a sub 4 marathon.  There was a chance to run the half and just get through it, but honestly, I couldn’t make myself do it.  I’m not interested in surviving another half marathon…I want to run a strong half or full.  So, I shut it down and starting working toward getting myself ready for the Columbus Marathon on October 16, 2011.

  I am beyond disappointed for several reasons.  First, I really did enjoy the hard training I was doing.  In fact, my last strong week was a 7 mile threshold run on Friday, followed by a 16 mile run with the last 5 at marathon pace on Saturday.  It was hard, but I really felt a sense of accomplishment.

  I’m also disappointed because I won’t be running with my CFF Team, Team for Life.  I love running with the team and have really missed it.  And finally, I’m disappointed because I think this may be my coach’s last year with the team.  If that is the case, I’ll be upset that I don’t get to run with him during the last Pig for the team.  I guess I’ll find out in the summer.

  So, look for me to run the Columbus Marathon in under 4 hours.  It’s still a tall order but I think it will be easier given the flat course and the fact that I’m working on my shin issues and have my sinuses fixed.  It will also give me more time to fund raise for the CFF.  If you’re reading this and haven’t had a chance to donate, I’d appreciate you considering a donation.  The site can be found here.

30 Seconds

  30 Seconds!  That’s nothing, right?  We’ll you may not think so, but it’s huge to me.  Over the last 10 days, I’ve run 35.5 miles in 340 minutes.  That’s an average pace of 9:35 per mile.  My marathon goal is a 9:05.  That’s 30 seconds per mile faster than the pace I ran for the 10 days.  30 seconds for 26.2 miles, through pain, fatigue, and every bit of self-doubt you can imagine.

  On Tuesday we had the kickoff for our CFF marathon team, Team for Life.  It was a good time and I was asked to speak to the group.  I basically rambled off the Time to Train blog I posted here earlier.  While talking to a friend before the meeting, I mentioned that I had fixed my stride and now was running faster and better than ever.  Well, one of the team members was there with us and heard me say that I could run an 8:35 for two miles.  She kind of snickered and walked away.  I called her on it, as she didn’t hear the rest of the discussion.  What she didn’t hear is that I could do that for up to three two mile intervals.

  No, that is not going to get me to a sub 4:00 marathon.  But, it’s about 500% better than I’ve ever done before.  What will get me to the sub 4 is CF.  Some see CF as a curse.  A “why did this have to happen to me” kind of situation.  I don’t.  I see it as a character defining trait.  Now, I’ve been lucky to be very healthy over my almost 40 years.  But, CF has made me see life the way it really is…a challenge.  And I believe it has made me stand up and take on that challenge better than most people. 

  In fact, I believe that we the CF community are stronger and more determined than the average bear.  We’ve been taught to handle things in life from a very early age.  So, that’s what will get me to a sub 4 marathon.  Grit, determination, and the ability to handle adversary… like I’ve had to since I came to understand CF.

  More to come on my perceived benefits of training and CF!

Time to Train

So, I’m cheating.  I posted this as a blog post on CysticLife.org.  It’s a post in an attempt to inspire the CF Community.  I think it works here too…

 One month to go.  One month until I start training for my 4th marathon.  Yes, marathon.  26.2 miles on 75% FEV1, osteopenic/osteoporatic bones, borderline diabetes, and more determination then 95% of the people on earth.

  Oh, and did I mention my goals. They are both fairly simple:

  • Sub 4:00:00 Marathon
  • Raise $4000 for the CFF

  Why am I posting this rambling blog as my first one?  Well, I’m doing this partially for myself.  Really, I’m doing most of it for you.  All, the Men, Women, Boys, Girls, Moms, Dads and everyone else related to CF.  It’s important to me to, in my own way, attempt to inspire all of you.

  On March 30th, 2011 I’ll turn 40. Yes the big Four-Oh.  An age, which according to the doctors, I should never have reached.  In fact, I was only supposed to make it to 16….or less.  I’m a double delta, born in a time when we ate sticks of butter to gain weight (rolled in sugar, of course), we had very few antibiotics (tetracycline anyone?), and my sister (a product of the 60’s) called it Sixty-Five Roaches. 

  Now at my old age, I’m here to prove a point.  A point to everyone with CF, or any other chronic illness.  Chronic doesn’t mean a death sentence.  It doesn’t mean that you can’t accomplish your goals.  That could be graduating from high school or college, getting married, having kids, becoming a pilot, running the Boston Marathon, or anything else you want to do.

  I’m the baby of 13 kids.  I’ve lost two siblings to CF, a father to Alzheimer’s, and a sister-in-law to cancer.  I have two great kids and a beautiful wife.  And I have the drive to keep myself alive and healthy.  Yes, I have a mild case of CF.  But is it mild because of genetics or is it mild because I am determined to keep myself healthy.  Well, I don’t know.  But I do know that I will meet my goal on May 1st 2011.  In fact, I already have.  I’ve made it longer than the docs ever thought I would.

  So, here’s to the CF community.  Here’s my attempt to make you all believe that there is hope.  That life is wonderful and that you should do whatever you can to make the best of it.  I’ll post more blogs as I move forward with my training.  I hope the hard work inspires you all.

Endurance

  A lot of elite athletes talk about endurance.  Don’t get me wrong, they have great physical and athletic endurance.  It the movie Spirit of the Marathon there is a quote that marathon training is basically training for life.  You’re going to have bad spots in the marathon and in life.  The outcome depends on how you handle those bad spots.

  I know several people with Cystic Fibrosis.  I can say, that in my humble opinion, the elite athletes of the world cannot endure nearly what someone with CF can.  Now, don’t get me wrong, nobody with CF is ever going to outperform an elite athlete.  But, I contend that no elite athlete could handle what some of my friends handle on a daily basis.

  Let’s see, what in the world could I be talking about.  I’ll start simple…meds.  Lots and lots of meds.  Pills, MDI’s, Inhalations, Shots, IV’s, etc., etc., etc.  The near constant battle of not feeling “well.”  The stomach that hurts so much you can’t even think about eating.  The coughing.  Oh, my, the coughing. 

  I remember my sister Judy coughing so hard sometimes, in a futile attempt to prolong her life a few months, she would actually break a blood vessel or two in her lung.  She’d turn blue, she’d cough up quite literally cups of thick, bloody mucus.  Day after day, week after week, for 30 years.

  That’s endurance.  Not running 26.2 miles, not swimming for hours, and not biking 112 miles.  Oh, those all take endurance, but we do those for a challenge.  For the most part, our lives are not on the line.  For my sister, and many other people with CF (and MANY other illnesses), it quite literally was. 

  Now, I speak from experience on some of this stuff.  I’ve taken lots of meds.  I’ve coughed up some blood, and I’ve felt sick before.  But honestly, I’m not sick like most others with CF.  Don’t get me wrong, my Pulmonary Functions Test isn’t perfect.  It’s about 75-78%, almost normal.    But, when I get sick…I typically get better without meds, etc.

  I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately (can you tell?).  I’m working toward another marathon journey soon.  My goal is to break 4 hours.  I’ll be 40 years old when I run the 2011 Flying Pig Marathon.  These are two numbers that many with CF will never see.  Making 40 years old will be a celebration for me.  Making a 4 hour marathon will be my feat of endurance.  But, it won’t begin to come close to matching the endurance displayed by some of my brothers and sisters in the CF world.

Surviving the Summer

  It’s almost September and this is my first post since the Pig Half Marathon race report.  The summer has been crazy.  We went to Disney, we survived the 100 degree weather in Florida for a week (barely).  The kids had a blast with their favorite sitter, Lizzy.  And I took most of the summer off from running.

  I’m finally getting back into it.  I’ve been running about a month, mostly treadmill.  I’ve had to do the Dreadmill since the summer has been mostly 90 and above.  I’m starting to train for the Cincinnati Thanksgiving Day Race.  It’s a 10k, oddly enough, on Thanksgiving.  I’m hoping to have a good PR, about a 50 – 52 minute race.  I’m using a plan by Pete Pfitzinger to get me ready.

  Over the summer, a lot of things have happened.  Let’s see.  I’ve trained Leo (my Labrador Retriever) to stay outside of his crate when we aren’t home.  I had $8000 worth of trees taken out of the yard.  Most of them were going to crush my house or a neighbors.  I’ve toyed with the idea of “auditioning” for Extreme Makeover: Home Edition (I know…don’t tell me).  I’ve basically been disowned by a brother, seen several friends lose their jobs, and basically decided that work is no fun any more.

  I did, however, do a couple of good things.  First, I’ve been able to do a couple of talks for the CFF.  Let me tell you, the crowds love it when I tell them I used to eat sticks of butter rolled in sugar.  (Hello, CF’ers like me had to gain weight when we were kids)  They are also usually shocked when I tell them that my average daily cost for meds is $253.  Do the math, that’s $92, 345.  Luckily I have good health insurance. 

  I also got to go to a Rush concert, just this past weekend.  I know, they’re old and I don’t care.  They are great performers and I love their music … so there.  I drove to Columbus with Brian and Andy, and Brian’s friend Craig.  We didn’t get home until about 2:30.  It was a great time and I got to take the new Subaru for a long drive.  Oh, by the way, I got a new car,  a 2010 Subaru Legacy 2.5 GT.  I love it.

  So, I’m going to start posting again.  I hope to get a post in each week.  I have a lot of plans for the next year.  I turn 40 next year and one of my goals is to run a sub 4 hour marathon.  We’ll see if that works out or not, but it’s my goal.  More on my 40th to come….

  So, this race report is a little different from it has been for the Pig the last two years.  Why?  Well, it’s a report on the half marathon.  After the ankle injury last year, I’m actually lucky to be able to run the half with my team.

  Going into the race yesterday, I was hoping to hit a PR on under 20 miles a week.  But, once I saw the weather, I knew that there was no reason to even push for it.  Read below to find out more.

  On Sunday, May 2nd, my team and I reported to our team meeting place in downtown Cincinnati.  Thanks to Dave Neyer for hosting us at his company’s location.  It’s always nice to have an indoor location with restrooms, etc.  Especially yesterday.  The weather was miserable for a marathon.  Rain, lightening, and hot.  When I say hot, I mean it.  It was 65 F at 5 AM.  There were also thunderstorms in the area.  It looked like it was going to be a fun day.

  We all met up there, Catie and Ali (my two primary running partners over the season), Jamie W., Jamie I., Ralph, Victoria, Trish, Scott, Jeff, and of course Wayne.  Unfortunately, Wayne injured his hamstring earlier in the season so he didn’t run with us this year.  I know it absolutely killed him not to run, but you can’t run a marathon with a torn hammy. 

  We all waited around, for our friends to show up.  We talked, worried about the weather, and joked around.  I made sure to help Ali and her husband Dave with the details (baggage, safety pins, and nip guards for Dave).  I also visited the mens room a good 5-6 times…just to be sure.  As we moved closer to the time we needed to leave for the start line, I noticed that Amye and Erin had not arrived yet.  Now, they are usually late, but not this late.  Turns out, they couldn’t find the building, but they did make it to the start.

  As we moved to the start line, I made sure to keep Jamie W., Catie, Jeff, Dave, and Ali with me.  I didn’t want them getting lost and running alone.  As it turns out, that’s exactly what Dave did and with great results.  We made it to the start with plenty of time.  I got my extra clothes, etc. onto my bus and waited for the start.  Jamie had to make a “quick” pit stop, which took forever with the lines.  It was raining the entire time.  While waiting it appears that there was a nearby lightning strike, which took out a transformer.  All of the street lights went out at once and we were plunged into near darkness.  Luckily, near by Paul Brown Stadium still had power.  Once that happened the sky really opened up into a downpour.  We moved toward the start line, each holding onto the other’s garbage bag poncho.

  We were trying to get to the 4:30 Pace group, as we thought starting with them would allow us to go out at a good pace, but not too fast.  We didn’t make it.  We were only able to make it to the 5:00 Pace group.  Oh well.  The gun sounded and, as usual, everyone pushed forward.  Well, about four steps…then stopped.  It took us almost 8 minutes to get across the start line.

  We took the first mile slowly.  It was difficult to go fast anyway, the street were packed with people.  Jeff had to retie his shoe twice, but it wasn’t a big deal.  We made it over the bridge into Kentucky without issue.  I looked for my friend Mo around mile 1.5, but didn’t see her.  We continued through Newport across into Covington and then back into Ohio.  Two bridges in the first 4 miles is no fun, but it’s better than during the last four miles!

  I could tell that Ali was excited.  I kept having to pull her back.  I was trying to control the pace so that she wouldn’t burn out too early.  I also kept having to slow Jamie down.  She appeared to be feeling good and the pace showed it.  Unfortunately, my Garmin got bumped at the quarter-mile mark and didn’t work from there out.  So, I kept asking Jamie for the pace.

  We stopped for water around mile 4.  We also almost lost Ali at that point.  It’s hard to keep track of five people  when you have 18k people running a race.  Luckily, we found her fairly quickly.  We proceeded down 7th Street in Cincinnati and proceeded to get pumped up by a great crowd.  By this point, the rain had stopped and I had removed my hat.  I was wet, but feeling really hot.  My body doesn’t like heat, so I figured I’d rather get wet.  At the end of 7th is the beginning of the climb.  Near the end, there was a music group playing I love Rock and Roll.  Catie and I got a little carried away with the music and the singing and opened up a 30 yard lead on Jamie, Jeff, and Ali.

  We decided to slow down a bit and wait for them.  The caught up within about a quarter-mile.  Then we start the hills.  The first hill is a long slow climb up past Channel 9 on Gilbert Avenue.  About half way up this hill I looked back to find Ali, Jamie, and Jeff.  I saw them walking about 500 feet behind us.  Neither Catie nor I talked about it, but we continued to run.  Sorry Ali, Jamie, and Jeff, but we felt good and it was too early to walk. 

  We continued up, past Channel 9, and turned right onto Eden Park drive.  This is where the real hills start, and has been a breaking point for me during my past Pig’s.  This year, for the first time, I made it up Eden, which is a short but steep hill, without stopping.  We continued past the first relay point and hit the 6.8 mile mark.  We’d made it there in 1:15.  Not bad considering the easy early pace.  We continued up the hills, past Krohn Conservatory, around my favorite part of the course.  There is an overlook that allows you to see all of Northern KY and most of downtown Cincinnati.  It’s a great view and a good place to see how far you’ve climbed. 

  We then continued up Victory Parkway and finished the hills just after mile 7.  The split for the half is around mile 8 and I really felt energized when we got to it.  In fact, Catie said something to the effect of “Alright, speedy, you’re pushing the pace.”  Of course I was, it was a down hill.  We continued on Martin Luther King, which is a rolling section of the course.  Working up the hills and then pushing the pace down them.  We followed MLK back to Gilbert and knew we were getting close to the big down hill.  We hit mile 10 at 1:55 clock time, which was about 1:48 actual time. 

  Catie had wanted to break 2:15 and I knew that so I really picked up the pace as we went down the hill on Gilbert.  It’s about .75 miles and a great place to pick up some time.  We were really flying.  I didn’t have my garmin, but I’m willing to bet we were doing an 8 minute mile flat, maybe even in the 7’s.  We continued down the hills at a brisk pace, did the out and back on Central Parkway and headed down Eggleston.  About half way down Eggleston, we saw another TFL runner.  I didn’t have any idea who it was from the back.  But, when we got next to her, I recognized her.  It was long-lost Erin.  Turns out they did make it to run.  Catie and I passed her pretty easily (have I mentioned we felt good) and continued toward the finish.  We had about half a mile to go and we knew it.  We made the turn onto Pete Rose Way, which is where I usually run out of gas.  Not today.  We hit the marathon 26 mile marker, meaning we had .2 to go.  Catie surged at that point and I worked really hard to reel here in.  We then hit the half marathon 13 mile marker and she surged again.  I couldn’t cover that one and let her go.

  We crossed the finish line at 2:15 and change.  Catie was about 10 seconds ahead of me.  Overall it was a good race.  We did the first 6.8 miles in 1:15 and change.  The second half we did in about 1:01.  Around a 12 or 13 minute negative split.  Now, I realize that most of the second half is down hill, but I don’t care. 

  The one thing is does tell me is that I could have gone faster in the first half.  If the weather had been better and cooler, I may have been able to PR.  Think of that, a half marathon PR on under 20 miles per week.  That would have been nice.

  I think that the end of this race tells me one thing.  I like the distance races and I think I’m built for them more than the shorter (say 5k) races.  I really felt strong at the end and thing with proper training I could easily break 2 hours.  My goal for the summer is to start working on improving my speed and endurance.  I’d really like to break 2 hours this fall and then have a good marathon next year.  I’m tired of working to “just finish.”

  Today, I ran my first race since the famous walnut incident.  The 33rd annual Cincinnati Heart Mini-Marathon, a 15k race.  My goal was to run a 1:28:30, which is a 9:30 pace.  I felt that I could do that, assuming the weather cooperated. 

  The weather this morning was, however, questionable.  The report showed about 48 degrees with rain and wind.  I bounced back and forth between short and my tights.  I was really only concerned about the rain.  I went with the shorts, but also took my rain jacket.  I figured that would keep my core warm enough and the rain off of me.

  The race started at 8:00 AM on the nose.  I was running with my friends Victoria and Traci, and there were others around all the time as well.  It took us about 5 minutes to cross the start line as the crowd was pretty large.  Now, if you’ve not run the race, it’s a rolling course with a few good size hills.  The first mile is about 50%/50%, with the middle half mile being all up hill.  As it turns out, we were way to fast for the first mile: 8:48.  Oh well, nothing I can do about that now.

  Laps two, three, and four went by fairly quickly.  I did, however, have to carry my jacket and hat.  It was still warm with no rain, only some wind gusts in our face.  Miles two, three and four were 9:33, 9:25, and 9:29.  Dead on pace.

  Right before turn around we were looking for our coach, Wayne.  Wayne, as my two loyal readers will know, is a machine.  He’s 70 and has never run over a 3:59:59 for a marathon.  Unfortunately, he’s been having some ankle tendonitis issues.  Today, he was worried about his hamstring, and with good reason evidently.  We saw Wayne at about mile 4.25, walking on the right hand side.  We checked in on him and he said “Hamstring…BAD!!!”  Wayne is a true warrior so I know that it was killing him to walk.  But, I also knew that he’d finish the race. 

  The turn for the heart mini is at the bottom of a hill.  When you turn, you go up a fairly steep hill for about 200 yards.  Then, it’s another half mile slow climb.  That was a difficult climb, as I was getting tired and found carrying my jacket a pain in the ass.  Mile five and six were, again, right in line 9:35 and 9:34.  Then the hard part… Torrance.

  Torrance is the part of the course that nobody likes.  It’s about a 100 foot climb in one tenth of a mile.  Hard…and I’m ok with saying that I walked about half of it.  I lost Traci and Victoria at that point.  Luckily, Traci had grabbed my jacket out of my hand and tied it around her waist for me.  Thanks again Traci.  I did run the last part of that hill and then recovered coming back down.  Mile 6 was still good: 9:34. Unfortunately, that walking hurt my time in mile 7: 10:23 for the mile.  But, really not that bad.

  By the 10k mark I was feeling tired.  I also had lost my pacer in Victoria and Traci.  So, now it was all about mental toughness.  So, that’s what I focused on.  Staying tough and keeping the pace.  Mile 8 is another slow climb and I had to stay focused.  I did well in mile 8: 9:42. 

  Then came the killer: the last hill up the bridge back into downtown.  It’s actually two hills with a small down hill in the middle.  The first hill is about 40 feet in under two tenths of a mile.  The second is 55 feet in one tenth.  I walked the first and when I started the second, I talked a lady walking next to me into running it.  I needed the motivation and so did she, I hope.  The pace took another hit on mile 9: 10:32.

  At the top of the hill you get a great downhill.  About 65 feet over a quarter mile.  That was a nice recovery and I actually picked up the pace for that section.  Then the last three tenths are a slight up hill.  It doesn’t look bad but at the end of a race, it was.  I finished the last three tenths in 3:40, which is an 8:32 pace.  Not bad considering I was just about done.

  My final time: 1:30:45, which is a 9:46 pace.  I missed my goal time by 3:15.  But, I broke my previous PR in the 15k by 2:08.  I’ll take that considering 6 months ago my doctor didn’t know if I’d ever run again.  Looking forward to the Pig in May.

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