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Archive for April, 2008

Stressed Out

  This stress is killing me.  I’m nearing the end of my taper, the Pig is on Sunday.  Work has been just crazy, and did I mention I have a marathon to run?  On top of that, the CF Foundation has finally released a story on me and the marathon.  Well, today the stress level just went up.

  One of the local stations wants to do a story on me.  The interview is tomorrow, at Fleet Feet in Cincinnati. (Thankfully it’s there, that feels like my second home)  It airs tomorrow night at 5PM on WLWT Channel 5 in Cincinnati.  I don’t like to be the center of attention, I don’t like to see my own picture.  On TV will be too much to handle, so I won’t watch it until after the Pig.  I’m hoping the piece helps bring attention to the fact that CF is no longer a kids disease.  And, that people with a chronic illness can do anything they want, there are no limits.  Oh, and help raise some more money.

  Now, where’s Asics with my contract?  I’m sure they are looking for a short, overweight, slow, balding, chronically ill runner for a spokesperson. 

  I did have a little stress relief tonight.  I went out and ran a three mile run.  No HR Monitor, no pace, nothing.  I just ran.  I ended up with an average 10 minute pace.  Nice low HR and felt really good.  I was starting to doubt my ability to run at a good pace.  That three miles was a big shot in the arm for my confidence.

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  Today is another anniversary.  This one is much more fresh in my mind.  Two years ago today, just a few days before my first Half Marathon, my father passed away from complications of Alzheimer’s disease.  A very sad day for me and my family. 

  I remember the day like it was yesterday.  Dad hadn’t been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s for very long, maybe 18 months.  The signs really started to show up after he had a triple by-pass in 2001.  Michael, my son, wasn’t even 6 months old at the time.  After the surgery he was different, just odd, for about 6 months.  Then he seemed to get better. 

  About a year later, I began to notice some odd things about dad.  It appeared to me that he was having trouble hearing.  You would talk to him, but he wouldn’t reply.  He would stare off into space a lot, and sleep for long periods of time. 

  I remember at one point, someone came to the door to solicit for a donation.  Dad said he would donate, but needed help filling out the check.  I almost had to sign the check for him, since he couldn’t spell his name.

  Another time, he was going to drive to my brother’s house, only about 6 miles away.  He was gone for 4+ hours.  As he put it, “I just couldn’t find his house, and then I couldn’t find my way home.”  He was very frustrated because he didn’t know the diagnosis at that point.

  It took a while to get the diagnosis too.  For a while, the doc’s thought it might be hydrochepalus (water on the brain).  A procedure was done to remove some of the water, but it didn’t help.  Dad declined quickly, and there were many more horror stories.  No need to air his dirty laundry any more.

  The night before, we all went to see dad at his house.  He was in a hospital bed, and didn’t recognize any of us.  We all talked to him, including Michael and Katie.  When we left Kristen said that in her experience, patients like dad didn’t live through the night.  My oldest brother, Tom, asked if I wanted him to call me if dad took a turn for the worse.  I said yes, of course.

  April 28th 2006 was a Friday.  I was in a 1 on 1 meeting with my boss, and was telling him of dad’s situation.  I told him that I may get a call at any point and have to leave.  About two minutes later my cell rang, I looked at the number and it was my parents house.  I told Keith I had to go.  When I answered the call, Tom told me that dad was gone.  He went so quickly that he had no time to call anyone.

  I rushed to my parents house, I was there within 20 minutes.  I think I was the first to arrive.  Tom and Marilou were there when dad died.  Over the next hour or so the entire family arrived.  We all cried, and told stories of dad, and were sad.  But, I was also a little relieved.  I know that dad was in there, frustrated as hell.  I know he was there, but couldn’t get out.  Every so often you would see a little glimpse of him.  He had found a hole in the wall that was built up around him.  My dad’s last months were miserable for him, as well as us.  I was glad he didn’t have to suffer that special kind of hell any longer.

  It’s very weird to know that I survived my father.  When I was born, CF should have taken me out in 16 years.  Well, I beat that by a long way, and will continue to do so.  Dad is now in heaven with my brother Timmy and sister Judy.  They both died of CF a long time ago.  Again this year, I’ll have them all close to my heart as I run.  All three sets of initials will be on my singlet.  They will be my heros and carry me through the times when I don’t think I can go on.  I love you Dad, Timmy, and Judy!

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  Today was the last Team for Life Training run for 2008.  Right now, we are 7 Days, 7 Hours, and 56 minutes away from the Flying Pig Marathon start.  I can’t tell you how important the team has been to me this year.  I’ve made some new friends, proved to myself that I can do 20+ miles, and grown to be able to see how important running is to me.

  Tomorrow night is the Team Party and Visualization.  Our coach, Wayne, takes us through a visualization process to help with marathon success.  Wayne also asks a few of us to speak to what the team means to us.  For the first time, he’s asked me to open my trap.

  I have some ideas on my mind.  I will, of course, talk about the running piece a little.  I’ll give some insight on CF and being a patient.  I’m the only one on the team that can have this point of view.  I remember the first run, someone asked me what CF was, and how if effects my running, etc.  I’ll probably touch on that a bit.  Mostly, I’ll probably tell a couple of stories about Judy, and maybe about dad. 

  I hope that the team will get it.  That they will see how important the money is for CF and research.  I hope to show them that this disease is no longer a child’s illness.  Adults have to fight this illness too.  I hope they will all see that they now have a personal connection to CF and that they feel that connection.

  I may even use my quote…  “The marathon is an endurance event.  Having CF, or any chronic illness, teaches you to endure anything.”  I know I can complete this marathon, and I can complete it in 4:30.  I’m ready both physically and mentally.

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   I’ve put in the miles.  I’ve trained hard and smart.  I did three 20+ mile runs and I’ve hit my taper.  Now, 10 days from the Pig, we’re having a heat wave.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s great weather.  Great, if you’re not running in it.  Today, the high in Cincinnati was 81 degrees.   Mo and I decided to skip running tonight, in favor of tomorrow morning.  It’s going to be 57 in the morning.  That will be much better.

  There is absolutely nothing I can do about the weather.  Still, I’m worried about it.  If it’s this hot for the Pig, my goal of a 4:30 goes right out the window.  My body does not like the heat.  I can’t breathe, I over heat quickly, and I sweat out even more salt than I do now.  I guess if it happens, I’ll just have to adjust my goal.

  The good news is that it looks like there may be a cool front coming through early next week.  Monday’s high is predicted at 55.  That would be great.  I’ll just rely on the spirits of Dad, Judy, and Timmy to take care of the stuff I can’t.

  On the injury front, Mo seems to be healing up from the Plantar Fasciitis.  She’s going to do a short run with me tomorrow morning.  I’ll probably do five miles.  Then I’ll do another five on Friday morning and eight on Saturday.

  Wayne has asked me to tell the team what this whole experience means to me at our party on Sunday.  I’ve got a couple of good ideas. 

  And, speaking of pressure….  The CF Foundation is working on a story about me.  I’ve read it and it’s good.  They are going to get it to all of the local newspapers and TV stations.  CFF National Office is going to get it to Sports Illustrated, Runner’s World, Running Times, etc.  I know that it shouldn’t, but it puts a lot of pressure on me.  It brings up all the what ifs about the marathon.  What if it’s too hot?  What if I don’t finish?  What if I break?  Hell, what if I drop over. (OK, I’m not going to drop over, but…)  It will be cool to get the exposure and show that CF’ers can do anything.  I really do believe it, I can do anything I want.

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  Today was my last official long run before the Pig.  We do run again next Saturday, but it will only be an 8 miler.  That’s not long anymore.  It was a good run, we averaged 10:46/mile which is 35 seconds per mile slower than my goal pace.  I feel good about running a sub 4:30.

  Early in the run, I told Amye that I would send her on her way in the Pig if I couldn’t keep up.  She told me that she still wouldn’t leave.  I told her I’d yell at her, and call her names, etc. but she still said that she’d stay with me.  I’ll feel bad if she has to slow down for me, but it appears that I won’t be able to change that now.

  We also discussed the course.  She really feels that the hardest part is the Eastern Avenue section.  This is the last 5+ miles of the course.  It’s very flat and there is very little support from a crowd perspective.  But, she said that once you get to the last little hill the crowd support hits you and you really feel the energy. 

  Amye said that her goal was to finish with her hero, a CF patient that she knows well.  But, it appears that she is too sick to be able to do that.  So, she said that she would probably be 5-7 steps behind me.  I told her that there is no way that will happen.  She’s going to cross the finish line with me.  She’s gotten me through a lot of this training (even if you don’t realize it Amye), so it’s only fitting that we cross at the same time. 

  The CF Foundation is really doing a good job with getting the word out.  Kelby (Hi Kelby) is working on an article for the local newspapers and I think for the CFF website.  I’ve read it and I like it.  They are also working on getting me on the prime time news in Cincinnati.  It’s a unique story and will get a bunch of sympathy donations (hopefully).  I really hope it inspires CF’ers and others with chronic illness to take control of their lives, instead of letting the illness have it. 

  The foundation is also going to provide small pictures of current patients for the team to wear during the race.  I told Kelby that I won’t need one.  I’ll have my father, brother, and sister displayed in my own way on my singlet.  I’m also going to work to get as many of the CF Patients as I can out on the course.  I think it would help the team to know that some of the patients are out there cheering us on. 

  Now, it’s time to taper and relax for the night.  I’m going back to my rum and coke…until I either go to bed or pass out.  I need a little time to unwind from all this running and the extra stress at work.  One last thing, thanks to everyone that has donated to me and the Foundation.  I really appreciate it.

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  First, the quick running update.  Things are going well with my marathon training.  I have a little bursitis under my right knee, but physical therapy is helping a lot.  I’ve made it through all three of my 20 mile runs, and feel good about the marathon.  Also, I am sick and tired of running.  I don’t want to run at 5:15 AM anymore.  I don’t like running alone anymore.  I do still look forward to my Wednesday night and Saturday morning team runs, so I think I’m ok.  2.5 weeks to go to the marathon.  I can’t wait.

  Now, my concern.  Here on WordPress.com, I get updates on what searches referred viewers to my blog.  It really concerns me that most of them are like these:

  • “How long can you live with CF?”
  • “What age is the oldest person with CF?”
  • “longest someone can live with Cystic Fibrosis”
  • “Cystic Fibrosis- death rates 2007”

  Why in the world do people only look for these morbid statistics?  I know, I know, CF is a terminal illness.  Well, you know what people, life is a terminal illness.  Nobody is getting out alive.  It’s just not going to happen. 

  If you have CF, here’s my advice.  Live life to the fullest, do what you want and do it to the best of your abilities.  Don’t however, burn the candle at both ends.  Pushing yourself to the edge and not taking care of yourself if a recipe for disaster.  Trust me, I saw it with my sister.  She turned it around, but it was too late.  Get the rest you need, party, but not every day, and do your meds.  Or, just be stupid and pay the price.

  If you are a parent of a newly diagnosed patient, DO NOT OVERPROTECT THEM!!!!!!  This is a another sure recipe for disaster.  Kids need to learn and make mistakes.  It doesn’t matter if they have a chronic illness or not.  Let them be kids, but take care of them.  Just like any other kid.

  On a lighter note, my Team for Life coach is trying to get me an interview on the local news.  I’ve already got my perfect quote if it happens.  What to hear it? 

  Sorry, you’ll have to watch the interview, but trust me, it’s a good one and not just a bunch of BS either.

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The Last 20 Miler

  Yesterday was my last 20 mile run for the Flying Pig.  Each year all of the charity groups do a 20 mile run on a major portion of the Flying Pig course.  This run starts in Ault Park in Cincinnati.  Ault Park is in the Hyde Park area of Cincinnati.  It’s a beautiful area of Cincinnati, but is also very hilly.  In fact, just getting out of the park area is a challenge. 

  I started running with my friend Amye and her friend Michelle.  They started off at a 10:00 even pace.  Amye usually runs a 10:28 or so.  The 10’s were too fast for me on this day, and I knew it.  When we got to mile three, they stopped for a bio-break.  Kim, another team runner and friend of Amye’s, came along while we were there.  I told Amye and Michelle to go ahead, and I would run with Kim.  That was a good decision for both of us. 

  We started off again on about a mile gentle down hill.  That was a good break, since I was already tired from the first three miles of up hill.  Of course, we then turned around and had to come back up that same hill.  It’s much tougher coming up the hill for some reason.  We hit a water stop at about 5.75 miles.  We did our first Gu, I took in some salt, and refilled two of my water bottles.  I think I got about 16 oz in during the first hour. 

  The course then continues up hill for anouther .5 miles or so.  Then, we get to rest.  A 1.5 mile downhill section to Eastern Avenue.  We made a pit stop at mile 8, and then turned on to Eastern Avenue.  This is the end of the Pig Course, and we are running it early in the run.  (Foreshadowing here…) 

  Eastern is flat, and will make for a good finish to the actual marathon.  Today, however, it was very windy.  I know that we had some 25+ mph gusts.  That made the running tough and cold, as it was about 46 F.  We made a hydration/fuel/salt stop at mile 9 and continued on.  We reached the lowest point at the Montgomery Inn Boathouse (good restaurant, but they need to caramelize the BBQ sauce on the ribs…too sweet otherwise).  Again, at this point in the Pig we would have about a mile to go.  Today, however, we had 8 more miles to go.  I had thought that we turned around at the boathouse.  WRONG!!!! 

  This is the section that is just mean.  In the Pig all of the big hills are in the first 8 miles.  I know this because we also run them in the half.  So, we started to climb.  We had to climb almost 500 feet in four miles.  That doesn’t sound like much, but it is.  And, we were already tired from fighting the wind.  This is the point when Kim and I got a little punch drunk and salty.  We should have been sailors with the way our mouths were running.  But, it was a good distraction.  We fueled up at about 13.5 miles, and continued to run up big hills again.  We hit a water stop at about 15.5 where I filled two more water bottles. 

  This is where it got tough.  We were at the gazebo at Mirror Lake for maybe 2 minutes and my right knee started to stiffen up on me.  It’s on the outer parrt of the knee, right next to the knee cap.  Not as far over as the IT Band.  Anyway, it was fine if I was running, but bothered me at each stop.  We hit Crohn Conservatory about a half mile later.  Kim stopped for a bio-break and I tried to stretch my knee.  We moved on, up the hills and hit the overlook.  It’s this little turn were you can see all of Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky.  You truely get to feeling of how far you’ve climbed from here, and it was a beautiful view. 

  From this point on the course makes a V pattern for elevation.  dropping and then climbing about 250 feet over the last four miles.  This was fairly easy as far as elevation, etc.  But tough because of my knee and Kim was struggling with her calves.  We fueled our last time at Bob Roenker’s Running Spot, and I made the call to not make a Bio-Break.  Mistake.  I had to go from about 10 steps after that until we finished. 

  Kim and I had fun over the next 3 miles, telling jokes, cussing, and complaining.  Basically, embracing the hate for the course designer for this 20 mile run.  The last mile was tough.  Remember how I said that getting out of the park was a challenge.  It’s near impossible getting back in.  The finish is a set of 2 big hills, with one good downhill in between.  The last hill is about .4 miles and steep.  Near the top, Amye and Michelle were there to get us home.  We did run the entire last hill, which was tough, but we made it.  We also saw Wayne leaving right before we hit that hill.  It was great to get some encouragement from him, and of course Amye and Michelle. 

  This course is tougher than the Pig and my toughest so far.  I do, however, feel good about the pig know.  I’ve done three 20 mile runs.  I’ve made it through much of the course, and did it in a fairly good time.  Yesterday’s 20 was in 3:39:07, about one minute slower than my first 20 and about 20 minutes faster than my 21 last week. 

  I’m sore today, but not too bad.  I’ll stretch out and take some meds.  I have a Physical Therapy appointment with Jen tomorrow afternoon.  I’ll have her look at the knee and see what happens.  I’ll do a 15 next week and then start my taper.  Then, on to the Pig in under 4:30.

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