Archive for March, 2010

  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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  For the three of you that follow my blog, you may realize what today is.  The other five will have no idea.  So, today’s title: Catch-22.  Another of my multiple meaning titles.  Today is my own personal Catch-22.  It was 22 years ago today that my sister passed away from Cystic Fibrosis.  A chronic illness and character defining trait that we both share.

  As you may know, Catch-22 is a paradox made popular by the book and movie of the same name.  Basically a Catch-22 is a no win situation.  You may ask how that applies to the death of my sister.  Well, I’ve been thinking about it since hearing one of her favorite songs this morning (Helpless Hoping by Crosby, Stills, and Nash).  It just came to me tonight, after thinking of a conversation I had earlier today.

  I like to say that this is not a sad day for me, and about 95% of me means it.  I’m glad that my sister is no longer in pain.  I know very well the last few years of her life were miserable.  She was on constant oxygen and tied to a tank by a 100′ canula.  As she said it, she had only one speed, slow.  And, I distinctly remember her coughing so hard, in a vain attempt to save her own life, that she would break blood vessels in her lungs.  It didn’t worry her, but the amount of blood I saw reminds me of what can happen.

  At the same time, the other 5% knows that I’m just lying to myself and that I miss my sister terribly.  Anyone who has lost a loved one can understand part of the loss.  The rest of it comes from the idea that we did share this illness and that it really does define the character of those it touches.

  I have a very strong memory from about 10 years ago, maybe even less.  Kristen and I had my parents over for dinner at our previous house.  I’m not sure if Michael was born yet and he’s 8 now, so I think it was about 10 years ago.  Anyway, we were having coffee and dessert after dinner and somehow we started talking about Judy.  After a few minutes of talking a notice a tear in my mom’s eye.  Now, that’s natural, a mother missing her daughter.  But then she says “Oh, you big softy!” while looking in my dad’s direction.  Turns out that he’s the one that started crying first, not mom.  My mother is a rock and I’ve very rarely seen her cry.  But, I’ve seen it.  My father, until that point, had never cried in front of me.  Not that he was too much of a man to do it, or anything like that.  He’d just never had that amount of pain occur in front of me.  I’m sure he’d cried many times before that with regards to losing his daughter.

  So, there it is, my Catch-22.  I’m crazy to say that I’m glad Judy is gone.  But, I’m so very happy she’s no longer in that constant pain.  I would be crazy to wish her back into that miserable existance just because I’m selfish.  I’m miss my sister, and it is a sad day, no matter what the 95% of me says.

P.S. – Next March 5th will be a happy post, in keeping with tradition!

P.P.S – Here’s a picture of me and Judy that was taken for a national CFF campaign.  They never used it, but I love the picture.  (And I HATE my picture).

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