Archive for March, 2009


  This is NOT running related, but it’s sports related.  I live in Kentucky and am a big University of Kentucky Wildcats fan.  The current rumor is that John Calipari is going to be the next head coach of the Wildcats Men’s basketball team.  Allegedly the contract is going to be worth about $5 million per year.  Wow!


  Seven is the number of hours I spent in a local Emergency Room last night.  The diagnosis: Pneumonia.  The amazing part is that I wasn’t the one diagnosed.  My wife was…  She hadn’t felt good for the past couple of days and was getting worse.  At one point we really thought it was appendicitis.  Thank god we were wrong, for several reasons.  I didn’t want her to have to have surgery.  It also would have likely been the end of my Boston marathon.  I couldn’t run with her recovering from surgery, even laproscopic surgery.  She’s on the mend, but still sick and on a lot of meds.  Hopefully she’ll be much better tomorrow.

Eight and Ten

  Today I technically ran 18 miles.  I say technically because I really didn’t run them all.  I actually did the first 8 on a cross trainer and then ran 10.  I was only going to run 8, but I felt ok and needed to get my confidence back.  I’ve been sick and had some knee issues recently.  I’m going to physical therapy tomorrow to get evaluated, but I think I know the problem.  I think I have some tendonitis in my ankle and that is causing me to over compensate.  The over compensation is causing my knee to hurt.  Hopefully I’ll find the root cause tomorrow and get it addressed.  This has really helped my confidence for Boston.  I really think I’ll be able to get my 20 mile run in on Saturday and then start a little bit of a taper before Boston!


  On Saturday we went to meet a couple of new friends.  We are seriously considering getting a Labrador Retriever puppy.  We had considered a rescue dog, but we’re concerned about not knowing the mix of the mother and father.  We’d hate to get a lab/rotweiller, etc. mix.  So, we met with a breeder that had two dogs expecting litters this week.  One with eight puppies the other with nine.  That’s 17 puppies in a week.  WOW!  The mothers were very nice and friendly.  They both had great temperments and were very good to us. 

Thirty Eight

  Ok, this is the good news and the bad news.  Today is a my birthday.  I turned 38 today.  I’m officially 22 years older than the average life span when I was born in 1971.  Most people dread getting older, but for me it’s a celebration.  I did run through the cemetary where my father and sister are burried.  It’s just my way of celebrating with them.  And, showing them how well I’m doing!  How many of you with or without a chronic illness can run 18 miles on your 38th birthday?  My guess, not too many.


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  Things were going great up until about two weeks ago.  Then I got sick, really sick.  Like, I didn’t really move off the couch sick.  I’m feeling better now and back to running, but I’ve missed a lot.

  First, I missed a 20 mile run.  20’s are the most important part of the marathon foundation.  So, it looks like I’m only going to get one 20 in before Boston.  I had really hoped to do two. 

  I finally got back to running last Saturday.  I ran seven miles with Amye and didn’t feel that bad.  I also picked up a new pair of shoes.  The exact same model, size, etc.  Nothing new.  This has presented a new challenge.  When I run in them, my knees hurt.  I ran about 3.5 in them last night and my knees still hurt.  The funny thing is that I think they are TOO cushioned.  I have another pair that have about 70 miles on them, and they’re great.  No pain, nothing.  I guess I’ll have to make another trip to Fleet Feet.  Hopefully Jeremy will be there.

  I just don’t have the confidence this year.  My longest run has been an 18, and that was not easy.  I’m planning to run 16 on Saturday and 20 next week.  I’m really hoping that helps my confidence.  I have three weekends to Boston and I’m pretty nervous about it.

  I think if I can get back up to 30 – 40 miles per week for the next two or so of them, I’ll feel much better.  Either way, I guess I’ll just have to have fun at Boston and not worry about the time, etc.

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  You may recognize the title of this post, although I’ve modified it a little.   Suite: Judy Blue Eyes is one of the greatest hits of Crosby, Stills, and Nash.  It was written by Stephen Stills and appeared on the groups debut album in 1969.  It was written for Judy Collins.  I love the song, always have, always will.

  So, why did I change the title for my post.  Well, first, I’d hate to have some lawsuit filed against me.  The main reason, however, is that this post is about my sister Judy.  And, she did indeed have blue eyes.  Today is the 21st anniversary of her death from Cystic Fibrosis.

  Last year I wrote about the story of Judy’s death, it’s sad but I think it was a good inspiration for my marathon team.  You can read it here.  On a recent run I was accused of making that post too sad, so I’m going to post some of the fun stuff about Judy tonight.  So this post will be a few of my favorite “short” stories about Judy.

Lunch Time

  I was about 9 or 10, honestly I don’t remember.  But I’m looking at my son Michael, (who’s 30 years younger than me and my identical twin) and I remember being about his age.  I was home sick from school, I don’t remember if I was really sick or just taking a mental day.  I could fool my teachers at the drop of a hat and they were scared of me.  Mom and Dad, not so much, so I must have been sick. Judy was on oxygen by that point. 

  Back in those days the “portable” oxygen weighed about 50 pounds.  They only lasted about 4 hours.  So, Judy had three 30-40 gallon tanks of oxygen that would last a week or so.  They were in her room and she had a 100’ or so cannula that she would trail with her everywhere around the house.  At this point, Judy only worked at home and only a few hours a day. She didn’t have the strength to do any more. 

  So, Judy was out making lunch.  She had managed to get her soup and sandwich to my father’s recliner, but she had to take the cannula off to get it there.  You see, she always had to back track through the house.  Otherwise, she’d wrap herself around something and not be able to get back.  Or, be stuck in say the breakfast room.  So, she started making her way back through the kitchen to get her drink and sit down to eat lunch.

  Well, I thought that my big sister had made her sick little brother lunch.  So, I sat down and started to eat.  By the time Judy got back around (she did always say that she had two speeds: Slow and Stop) I had eaten about half of the sandwich and some of the soup.  When she rounds the corner she yells “What in the hell are you doing?”  Of course, I run away.  I really didn’t know that it wasn’t for me.  I thought she was taking care of me.  I guess I was wrong!


  Judy was once married.  It didn’t work out, but I don’t think her husband Gary knew what he was getting into with a chronically ill wife.  I really liked Gary.  I don’t know where he is today, but my brother in law Zane says that he sees him every so often. 

  When Judy and Gary got engaged his father threw them a huge party.  I remember that two best parts of it.  First, we had baby back ribs.  They were great!  Gary’s father had a real barbeque pit in the back yard.  It was a trench about 50’ long and was full of charcoal.  Man those ribs tasted good.  I can still taste them almost 25 years later.

  Gary’s father also had BIG fireworks.  We set off a ton of them that night.  He let Matt and I light them.  He also gave us a couple to take home.  We set them off in the back yard the next night.  Mom and Dad didn’t know we had them, until they went off in the back yard.  They were not very happy with us.

Coke Bottles

  Judy had the worst eyesight in the world.  She may have well been blind.  Her glasses were about as thick as coke bottle bottoms.  At one point, the CF program at Children’s Hospital in Cincinnati asked her to make a video of how to cough.  Coughing is very important in CF.  You have to get that crap out of your lungs. 

  Judy was the best cougher in the world.  She would cough for 45 – 60 seconds.  She’d turn blue and you’d think she was going to die.  But the stuff that she got out of her lungs….WOW!!!! 

  When they made the video her glasses were killing the shots.  All of the lighting reflected off of them so bad.  They made her look down all the time and not look at the camera when she talked.  We all just laughed when we watched the video.  It was like she was ultra shy or something.  I still laugh about it. 

Happy Birthday to You

  For a CF patient born in 1957 making it to 30 was an amazing accomplishment.  Judy threw a big party for herself in Tower Park here in Fort Thomas.  She was interviewed by the Cincinnati Enquirer.  We had our last full family picture taken around then.  I still have the picture and I can’t believe how thin I am in the picture.  I looked like a rail.  Anyway, back to the story.

  When I was a kid, CF stood for Candy Freak.  Not for Sixty-Five Roses.  In fact, Judy had coined the term Sixty-Fix Roaches long before.  And we’re not talking about the bug here, although that’s what I thought.  So, my sister Barbara, brother Matt, and I made her a card.  We had a 4’ x 3’ piece of poster board and wrote ‘Happy 30th Birthday Judy’ on it.  Then, we “glued” candy all over the writing.  I remember the paper taking a picture of her with it.  I don’t think it ever ran, but I do remember the picture. 

  Judy died about nine months later.  I’ve already told that story and it’s an important one.  I think the most important part of Judy’s story is her incredible spirit.  She was always upbeat, even when things were bad.  And trust me there were some really bad times.  But through it all she never quit.  She never said ‘I can’t do it’ or gave up on life. 

  I think that’s why I’m taking on the challenge of running two marathons.  Part of Judy’s never say die spirit is in me.  Judy didn’t always do things the easy way, but she still did them.  I think I’m like that too. 

  I run for Judy, for my brother Timmy, and for my dad.  I like to think that they are somewhere watching and watching over me.  I know they are all proud of what I’m doing.  Fighting for a cure for CF for others!

  I miss you Judy!  Love, Mark


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