Posts Tagged ‘Cystic Fibrosis’

  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.”


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  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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Getting Better

  How do we get better?

  I’m working at getting better in a couple of ways.  First, not in order of importance, but still first.  Getting better at running.  I’ve decided many times that I want to get better and faster.  But, until now, I’ve never really done it.  Yesterday, I took the first steps.  Those were some hard and fast steps too.  I’m working on a program by Pete Pfitzinger and the first quality workout is geared toward improving the VO2Max.  The workout is a series of fast repeats.  They are supposed to be between 95% – 98% of Heart Rate Reserve.  For me, that’s between 185 and 189.  Let me tell you, I was about 13 BPM low on my workouts.  Talk about hell.  Anyway, I’ll get better at them and at running.  Next week I start the Lactate Threshold training, which improves speed at specific distance, i.e. Endurance Training.

  Second, probably first in order of importance, health.  Ok, people with CF, like me, typically have issues with this one.  Now, I’m very lucky, I’m very healthy.  But, I have things that I need to improve.  My weight, I’m about 10 pounds too heavy still.  I know, people with CF need the extra weight.  But, it’s not good to have extra weight in distance running.  I’ve lost about 10 pounds so far and need to lose another 10.  Also, my glucose control needs some work.  Now, I’m not diabetic, but my fasting level is too high.  The nice thing is that the weight loss is really helping. 

  The last is to improve my lungs.  Well, I can’t really do that.  But, by helping to support the CF Foundation and the research they do, I can help myself.  I can also be a lab rat, which I have been many, many times.  I’ve gotten benefits from Pulmozyme, Tobi, Cayston (aztreonam), VX-809, and many others.  I’ve also seen my share of disappointments, namely Gene Therapy and CPX.  But, it’s by taking some of those chances that I’ve gotten where I am now.

  The final area I’m working to improve is leadership.  Most people think of leadership as a work thing.  Not me!  I, of course, want to get better for work and my career.  I also want to improve my leadership to help CF (if I could just qualify for Boston…that would help alot), leadership for my family, and of course for my dog.  (Leo has some separation anxiety issues, I’m hoping leadership will help fix them) 

  Leadership is hard.  It’s hard because sometimes you have to say or do the hard thing.  I’ve been in that situation at work this week.  And, maybe I’m fighting the absolute wrong fight, but I feel passionate about it.  I’ve had three different situations this week where people have told me “Thanks for saying that.  It’s exactly what I was feeling, but I didn’t feel comfortable expressing it.”  Well, that’s probably code for “I’m glad you’re going to get in trouble, and not me!”  But, honestly, I think that it’s important to say what you feel is right.  Leadership isn’t easy, but without leaders we never get anywhere.

    I hope I do get better at all of these things.  I hope that the changes can make a difference.  Don’t be afraid to get better.  Don’t be afraid to lead.

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  I’ve waited to make this post because, well honestly, I wasn’t sure I’d be able to run with the team.  Well, let me tell you officially, I can and will be on the team this year.  Yesterday was my sixth run since my ankle injury and I accidentally did 5 miles, not 4. 

  It was a very cold morning, somewhere around 15 degrees.  I had talked with Ali, the new director of the Cincinnati CFF, and told her that I would get her through her first team run.  But, when I got to Fleet Feet and looked at the course, it was the Mt. Everest course again.  Bluewing, Lobeila, and Waxwing!  There is no way my ankle will do that right now. 

  So, I decided to take Ali, her husband Dave, and their friend Abby on the Kenridge Lake route.  From what I had remembered, it was a four mile run.  Now, Ali told me that she was “slow,” around a 12 minute mile on the treadmill.  However, yesterday, she was pushing the pace.  But, that’s a good thing.

  Dave didn’t do much talking, and left us at about mile 1.  I think he felt we were going too slow.  Funny, we found him half way around the lake, not exactly understanding my directions (hard to imagine).  But, I think he had worn himself out.  He ended up walking with Abby for a while, and Ali and I didn’t see them until about 10 minutes after we finished.

  Abby, new to the team, is crazy.  She had abdominal surgery 3 weeks ago, and was running with us yesterday.  She had a tough time, I can’t understand why.  But, she did finish the 5 miles. 

  Ali and I had a great conversation.  Mostly “shop talk” about CF and the Foundation, etc.  I’m glad to say that she “gets it.”  She’s young enough to know that she doesn’t know it all, but experienced (notice I didn’t say old, Ali) enough to  handle the role of Executive Director.  She also has a very close friend with CF.  We talked about him, about CF, the team, and way too much about me. 

  I look forward to more runs with her.  I also look forward to running with old friends, Victoria, Ralph, Jamie, Amye, Scott, and a whole host of others.  I’ll miss a few friends that aren’t running with us this year.  Priorities change over the years, and I get that.  But, they’re always welcome to come back home to the team.

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New Year: 2010

  It’s official, 2009 is history.  It was both a good and bad year for my running career. 

  The Good: I completed two marathons in two weeks.  I ran the 113th Boston Marathon!  I accomplished my goal for the marathon season and raised over $4500 for CF. 

  The Bad: I ran a 5 hour marathon at Boston and a (almost) 6 hour marathon in Cincy.  I’m still disappointed in that.  Sorry, but there’s no changing that for me.  I know I can do better.  I’ve also been off from running for 3+ months with this stupid ankle injury.  I also failed to lose the weight that I wanted to lose.  Most of that was due to the injury, but that’s just an excuse.

  As for the ankle, it is healing, but slower than I’d like.  And, honestly, I’m angry about it.  Right now, I have three bone bruises that still need to heal up.  According to my doc it could take another 6-9 months before they are completely healed.  So, basically, I don’t know when I’ll be able to run again.  It’s really up to my pain level.  I’m allowed to workout on the ankle, and do anything that doesn’t hurt.  So the elliptical, strengthening, and some other cardio.  I’m hoping to take a spinning class tomorrow morning (assuming I can sleep tonight).  I think spinning will help me get my cardio system back into running shape.  It should also help with endurance, as the classes are 40-60 minutes. 

  So, you may ask, what are my goals for 2010?  First and foremost, get my ankle healthy.  I really miss my running and I don’t want to miss the Team for Life season this year.  That’s out of my control, but I’m going to do everything I can to run with the team.  Second, lose my extra weight and get back into running shape.  I figure I need to lose about 15 -20 pounds.  I can do it, I just need to set my mind to it.  The beauty of me being angry about the ankle is that I can use that anger to drive me.  I’m pretty good at that.  Third, and finally, I want to improve my running.  I want to get faster and have better endurance. 

  I have a plan for all three.  Part of that plan is pushing myself.  So far in my running career, I’ve never really done that.  Sure I’ve run marathons, etc.  But, I’ve not pushed myself to get better during my training.  I’ve stayed in my comfort zone.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not going to kill myself, but I need to push myself out of that comfort zone to reach all of my goals.  We’ll see how it goes, but at this point, I’m determined.  And if you know me, you know that if I’m determined to do something….I’ll do it.

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  I’m tired.  I’m really tired.  Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to sleep very well lately.  Part of it is the ankle.  If I have to get up in the middle of the night, it aches for a while after I lay back down.  A second part is also the ankle.  Not knowing what’s going on with it and why it still hurts is bugging me.  Third, it’s Christmas time.  Stress is always here around Christmas.  Between the money literally flying out of my hands and the PTSD it’s tough to sleep.

  I’m going back to the doc again in about 12 hours.  Something just isn’t right with my ankle.  It’s tight, which I expected.  But, I still can’t stretch it out.  See, when I try to stretch it burns.  It burns on the inside of my ankle from my medial malleolus (the bump on the inside of the ankle) all the way to the back and bottom of my ankle.  Imagine drawing a square over that area and that’s where it hurts.

  I know I have tendonitis, but this doesn’t feel like tendonitis pain.  I think one of the ligaments healed inside the joint, or I have part of the posterior tibial tendon caught in the joint, or I have a pinched nerve.  I’m going to ask the doc to send me for a second MRI.  I don’t think he’ll disagree.  I just need the answer and if I need surgery, I need to get it scheduled.

  I think another reason I’m not sleeping is that I’m not exercising.  Usually I can get some exercise in during the week and expend some of this energy and stress.  Ok, yes, you’re right, I could still workout.  And, I need to do it.  I guess I need to start hitting the cross trainer and hope that it helps me get back on track.

  As for a marathon in the spring.  It’s not going to happen.  In fact, I don’t know if I’ll even be ready for  a half marathon.  I hope to be able to at least run the half, but I just don’t know.

  In case you’re wondering, the CFF marathon team here in Cincinnati, Team for Life, needs members.  The fundraising goal is $1000.  I know, that sounds like a lot of money.  Trust me, it’s easy to raise.  If you’re reading this and are interested in running in the Flying Pig (Marathon, Half Marathon, or 4 person relay), please leave me a comment.  With the economy, the CF Foundation is hurting too.  My life and the lives of 30,000 other CF patients are directly affected by the work and fundraising the foundation does.  I truly appreciate anyone that runs with the team.  We are not just raising money, we’re practicing sacrificial giving, as Coach Wheeler says.  Time to try to get some more sleep.

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