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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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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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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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  Yesterday was my second follow-up appointment with my podiatrist.  It was a good appointment, but I should explain my Physical Therapy appointment first. 

  Therapy was at 8 AM.  I got there about 40 minutes early, so I hit the cross-trainer for some cardio first.  I ended up going 20 minutes at 190 strides per minute.  It was far from easy, but I really needed to push myself.  My ankle hurt, but not too much.  The range of motion on the cross trainer isn’t that large.  I then proceeded to do all of my leg work.  I did the leg press, toe raise, and “running” exercises on the reformer.  I also did lunges, squats, and step ups on the evil bosu.  Then a few other balance and proprioception exercises.

  Jamie, my therapist, also wanted to work on my stairs.  See, I can’t go down them very well.  I typically point my toe and land on the ball of my foot when coming down stairs.  I explained to her that the inside of my ankle hurts when I do that.  Honestly, I thought it was my deltoid.  After some discussion and prodding, we located the source of the pain.  It wasn’t the deltoid, it was the posterior tibial tendon.  I had tendonitis.  I had all of the classic symptoms: pain on the medial side of the foot, fatigue after minimal activity, and pain when rising on the ball of the foot.  Jamie wrote a quick note to my doc and I took it to him.

  So, at the doc’s I handed him the note.  He read it and said that he figured that’s what I had.  He said that dealing with this injury is like peeling an onion.  Last time we treated the joint line of my ankle, as that was the most painful at the time.  Yesterday, he gave me another shot to address the tendonitis.  He gave it to me under ultrasound and did a great job.  He hit the trigger point of the tendon exactly, as my the tendon fired almost immediately upon the injection of the med.

  Today, my ankle feels about 80%.  It’s not perfect, but it’s to the point were I can work on range of motion and flexibility much easier.  I’ve very happy about that, although I think I’ll need another shot in a couple of weeks just to make it 100%. 

  I’m sad to say that I’ll be missing the 100th running of the Cincinnati Thanksgiving Day Race tomorrow.  I was really looking forward to running it, but my ankle is nowhere near ready to run.

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  It’s been a long time since I’ve posted so I’ll do a quick recap.  On October 27th I went back to my podiatrist for a follow-up on my ankle.  At that point, my doc told me that I was allowed to begin bearing weight on it.  It was a slow process, but about 10 days later I was “walking” on it without the crutches.

  Since then I’ve been to Physical Therapy twice a week.  We’ve been working on Range Of Motion, stretching, strengthening, and proprioception.  I’d love to tell you which I need the most work on, but I think it’s all of them.  I’ve made some progress, but am still limited by the swelling in my ankle.  This swelling is causing me pain when I try to increase my range of motion.

  Today, I got to go see my doc again.  He was very happy with the stability of my ankle and feels confident that the ligaments are healing correctly and are not in the joint.  So, that means no surgery.  I did discuss my limited range of motion due to the pain.  I also mentioned my plantar faciitis, which is to be expected after not moving it over a month. 

  The good news is that he shot me up.  That’s right, more of the MLB players fix for what ails you….steriods.  Kenalog in fact.  He gave me the shot in the medial side of the ankle, right near my deltoid ligament.  Within about 2 seconds a tingle shot up my foot and it was completely numb in about 30 seconds.  Of course, I did joke around that I wouldn’t be able to drive home.  Oh, and I should note, I took him about 20 of my world-famous Chocolate Chip cookies.  He wanted a lemon meringue pie, but those don’t travel too well.

  My next stop was at Physical Therapy.  I went there immediately afterwards so that I could get in some of the beating while I couldn’t feel the foot.  I did more today that I have any other day.  Of course there is the reformer and the calf board stretches.  But, I also did some work on the flat side of the Bosu.  Balance, squats, throwing and catching a medicine ball, and generally any other torture they could think of while I was on there.  I also did 30 modified lunges (I’m really feeling those right now!)  and then Jamie massaged my plantar fascia as well as my entire ankle.  We finished up with ice and stim, which felt great. 

  I’ll be interested to see how it feels tomorrow but it’s kinda sore right now.  I’m hoping to be back to running within a few more weeks.  There are no promises, but I’m going to keep working toward that.  All in all, I’m back to most of my activities but still no running.  Stairs are still a small issue due to the proprioception.  And, I really have almost no lateral strength in the ankle yet.  But, it’s getting better every day.

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Just a bunch of random thoughts tonight. 

Health Care Reform

  Ok, I don’t know anything about politics and I don’t claim too.  I know that something needs to be done, however.  I just found out that my health insurance premiums for next year are going to go up 50%.  That’s bad, but I’ve good insurance so I’ll take that.

  But, as a CF patient, I have enough medical expense.  Let’s list out the meds alone.  Albuterol $10, Pulmozyme $40, Tobi $40, Ultrase $20, Synthroid $20, Mirapex $20, Nasonex $20, Azythromycin $10, Flovent $20, Patanol $20.  So, that’s $210 per month, just for meds.  And, of course, most of those will go to $40 next year (just my guess).  This doesn’t include the doc visits.  And of course my wife and kids have bills too.  It’s crazy.  I know that’s not what needs to be fixed, but it’s the part that I see each and every day.

Shock to the System

  My new friend Tara is going through a very tough time.  She’s 34 and a former elite tri-athlete.  On September 1, she was diagnosed with CF.  I can’t imagine what she’s going through.  She I don’t know life without CF.  She did and I guess still remembers it.  Well, Tara, when you read this, things will get better.  You once said you were pondering the meaning of your life now. Well, I can tell you what I think it should be.  You should use your experiences and physical talents to inspire the rest of the CF patients out there.  Even though you now you have CF now, you also had it when you were winning tri’s.  Use that to show people what they can do to overcome challenges.  That’s just my opinion.  BTW, I’m still going to push you to come run The Pig with me.

Hug Me!

  Ok, not literally.  My ankle needs it.  I go back to the doc on Tuesday and hope to be able to walk again.  I’m not holding my breath however.  Well, I think there’s a chance.  See, my ankle has been hurting lately.  It’s my deltoid ligament, on the inside of my ankle.  It’s only when I sleep and I think it’s because I move it too much when I sleep.  It feels much better when I keep it wrapped.  So, I guess until Tuesday, it’s going to stay wrapped as much as I can bear.  Like I said, I just need a hug.

Good Luck Kelby

  My friend Kelby is running her first full marathon tomorrow.  She’s running the Marine Corps Marathon in DC.  I won’t tell you what her goal is, in case she doesn’t make it.  If she does, however, I’ll sing her praises here on my next post.  Good luck tomorrow Kelby.  Remember, it’s not the 26 miles that kills you, it’s the 0.2 at the end.  Also, remember to have fun.  There’s nothing like finishing you’re first full.

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Two More Weeks

  Hopefully in two weeks I’ll get my foot out of this stupid boot.  I know it’s in my best interest to wear it and rehab my ankle correctly.  But, this is a real pain in the butt.  Last Thursday I found out that I’ve officially torn three ligaments in my right ankle.  Three complete tears.  Here’s what it looked like a day after the injury. 
 
One Day After the Injury

One Day After the Injury

 
  The biggest concern is the deltoid ligament on the inside of my ankle.  According to the doc, it’s 50/50 on surgery vs healing.  We’ve decided to go the conservative route and just let it heal.  He also says that about 15% of the people need to have surgery afterwards.  I really hope I don’t have to do that.  I think I’ll go completely insane.
 
  I can tell you that there are no real added benefits to crutches, other than the rest on the ankle.  They hurt, you can’t carry anything, you can’t do much of anything at all.  I really feel useless.
 
  I also feel guilty having my wife do all of the stuff with the kids.  She has to drive them to school, take them everywhere, etc.  We’ve also had to enlist friends to get the kids from school.  And, don’t even ask about yard.  With all the rain, my back yard is starting to look like a cross between a Vietnamese jungle and a mushroom field.  It’s really ugly.  Oh, and my poor dog Leo.  He’s not getting nearly enough exercise.
 
  So, keep your fingers crossed that I get this boot off on the 27th.
 
P.S. – The kids and Kristen had H1N1 last week.  They’ve survived it.  I haven’t gotten it yet, thanks to my pulmonary doc and TamiFlu.

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