Daily Double

 

On 1 October 2013 I would have celebrated one year cancer free. What an amazing thing. One down and four more to go. I had to hold off on that celebration as some things got worked out. It was tough at times because I really wanted to scream at the top of my lungs that I had kicked the shit out of this thing or something. Instead, I kind of stayed silent. I was with a group of friends after a run having a beer when it came to me and I jotted this down quickly so I could share.

 

“Sitting here around people with the knowledge I have. Not telling them is like living with a shame. I won’t pretend to know what it is like for a rape victim but I think I feel some of that. It is odd, these people (the Team) may be the best to handle this but I am still silent. Maybe it is still because there is some uncertainty as to what it is. At least there is some hope.”

 

I am sorry I could not tell you guys but I was sure glad to be there with you. I had a lot of fun and shortly after I wrote that my spirits lifted. Beer, pizza and the Team really helps. So it daily double of a nasty fungal infection and cancer relapse. So this is sort of how it went down.

 

It was going so well. It was July and I was feeling great. I was running quite a bit and things were progressing. I had been off of any juice for two months and we were all considering plans for the future. The stem cell transplant was off the table and we were looking at a stem cell collection so we would be ready in case. But that was where it went all wrong. I had an appointment with Doc Weiss after a CT scan and he dropped the boom on me. My left lung was showing something.

 

We talked and it was probably a fungal infection so I went back on the micafungen. I had my PICC line taken out two months prior so that meant I was going to get stuck. I really hoped that my veins had recovered from the abuse a year ago. I had false hopes. Andrea had a fun time trying to find a good stick spot. After several trials I gave up and let her take the back of my hand. Honestly it was not that bad. It hurt going in but afterward I had quite a bit of mobility.

 

Now I was a real bastard at times. I was running on Saturdays prior to coming in for an infusion. Therefore, I was quite dehydrated and my veins were even more uncooperative. My rescue ninjas were frustrated till I just decided to give up my one good vein each Saturday. There was also this new system at the infusion center that printed out my meds list every time I came in. That list is a couple of pages long with a cover sheet. I was really pissed at the waste and tried to opt out of it. Eventually I got back at them by reusing the paper.

I should have been an aeronautical engineer. They enjoyed the entertainment or at least they pretended like they did. It was weird as I started to see the staff there and talk with them. They were surprised to see me and we discussed how it is weird. You get to know these people and become quite friendly with them but deep down they hope for the best. That is you get better and they never see you again. I feel the same way. Though I had gone there on occasion and stolen coffee it was not the same.

 

During the first couple of weeks on the micafungen I was collected for stem cells. This is a most unpleasant process. They inject growth factor to have your bone marrow make more stem cells and then they put this catheter in your neck. The bone pain from the growth factor was not fun. I had rough long run during that and it was not my worst run but it was in my top 50. It is weird because in order to get the stem cells they have to literally pump all of your blood out of you and filter it and pump it back in. Honestly, it was not that hard. I slept during the process and after one day of collection I was done.

 

After about a month I had another CT scan and no it was not done. This was okay. Fungal infections like this take a while to respond to the medication and the spectrometric measurements always lag behind. I was cool as a cucumber. I was on top of my game. My training was going great and the Rock n Roll Philadelphia Half Marathon was coming up quick. Check out the race report. It rocked and I was amazing with the help of the Team. I was working on top of the world. Doc Weiss did want me to get a consult from Doc Evans about a surgical biopsy. What a mistake that was. I like Doc Evans but he wanted to take a lobe of lung out. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot! I only have five of those and I know that we were looking at a biopsy of some of the more damaged lung parts but come on. Space and I were not pleased. I got over it quick because why not. On a side note, Doc Weiss took me off of cyclosporin which is a immunosuppresent to see if my on immune system would kick in and help with this infection.

 

So it was on like Donkey Kong and I had a CT and PET scan in October. I wasn’t worried. The worst part is moving your arms after the PET scan. You spend about 45 minutes with them up over your head while not moving. Well, as you might guess it was not only bad but it was getting worse. The PET scan showed a couple of spots that glowed like a 1000 watt bulb. We were entered in to full biopsy mode. One problem though I was still feeling great. I was ramping up my mileage and the Monster Mash Marathon was coming up real soon. I was on such a role there was no way I was missing that.

 

Doc Weiss said it was time to go on with that surgery and we put the slam down on him. Really we just opened up a new possibility with Dr. Hehn better know as Boyd. He was the pulminologist that has been in my lungs the most and most recently. Space and I wanted get his input about it prior to the cutters getting all up in me. Weiss agreed and we met with Doc Evans and Boyd on the same day. Actually, Doc Evans had already consulted with Boyd and agreed to a bronchoscopy as a first step. I was in.

 

First thing was first. Boyd wanted to see what my lung function was before any surgery. So up to nuclear medicine and they injected me with technetium. When I asked me what it was that I was injected with they told me and told them it is the lowest weight element without a stable isotope. The doctor learned something new that day. I love chemistry. It has maintained such a wide open universe for me. As it turns out my left lung is crap. Over 75% of my lung function comes from my right lung. Well at least some part of me is conservative. Before the bronchoscopy I went and ran the Monster Mash Marathon. It was awesome. I cannot wait to get to that race report. Two days later Boyd asked me how the race went before he had me knocked out and lung scoped. Long story short. The results were inconclusive. So off to surgery.

 

At this point it was the end of November and thanksgiving was upon us but best of all Doc Evans was going for a new approach. He was going after a lymph node adjacent to my left lung and a wedge cut out from the upper left lobe where there was some good glow. I went in for the surgery and had to wait and wait and wait. I could not eat so I was getting real cranky. Naps were helping but not enough. I was taken from the pre-op room to the operating room area. There a couple of docs came and talked to me and explained to me what was going on. An anesthesiologist came by and put two elephant tranquilizer needles in the back of my hand and my wrist. He was talking more about the procedure and mentioned that they would probably use the robot for the surgery. I immediately asked if it was Three Laws Safe but all I got back was a puzzled look. What a shame. I am surprised I made it out of there alive.

 

I woke up with two chest tubes in my side and a foley catheter in. It was not a very happy time. Always avoid a foley catheter and chest tubes are a bad idea. Taking each of them out is beyond description. Needless to say it hurt. The good news is they gave me happy button for the pain. It was fun but it made me itch. After two days of observation I was out of the hospital and getting hungry for Thanksgiving. I tried to be patient and waited an entire week before calling for results. They were not in and I was told to wait till I saw Doc Weiss in two weeks.

 

So there I was. I had just gotten my stitches cut out from my side by Doc Evans. They were tough to get out. It hurt and he kept apologizing and backing off. I tried to convince him to just keep going. Pain is temporary except in torture which this was. He got on with it and they were out. They sucked and I determined that there will be no more major holes put in me for a while. Doc Evans wanted to know if I wanted the biopsy results but I declined. I wanted to stay ignorant for a few more hours. Back at it. Sitting there in room 24 with Space just waiting for the inevitable. Doc Weiss comes in and sits down. I ask him to “sock it to me and if the results were inconclusive I was going to scream.” Actually, my reaction may have been worse. Here comes the problem. He rambled. There was good information but it all boiled down to this. I do have a fungal infection and that needs to be taken care of quickly. Then the R word. Relapse. The cancer was back and a new fight was on.

 

Fucking cancer. After we take this fungal infection out with some new harsher drugs we will take this cancer on with a new chemo regimen followed by a stem cell transplant. We will kick this. I just have to continue fighting and running. I cannot forget that I have the Disney Dopey in less than a month. No reason I can’t have some fun along the way.

 

Goofy Race and a Half Challenge: Part 2, The Race

Oh my, I have waited long enough on this.  I am really not sure what has kept me from completing this race report.  It really has made no sense.   Well, here goes. 

It all started right after the half marathon on Saturday when I finished and knew that I had done the one thing I was not supposed to do with the half.  I raced it.  And it was fun.  I mean I just poured on the jets and tried my best to get things moving.  Well, at the finish line when I looked at the clock I knew I had put too much in and was in some trouble.  My legs were not quite ready to keep me going and I was sore.  The whole day I spent trying to get my legs in better shape and on top of that I was tired.  I spent a couple of hours on my parents living room floor asleep.  Then when I woke up we went out for a nice Italian dinner.  I had a chicken Parmesan with a side of spaghetti and some garlic bread that was to die for.  The big problem, it was getting late and my parents were over an hour away from my hotel.  Dinner and hugs went by and I was off to the hotel for a few hours of sleep. 

3:30am rolls by and I am up and getting ready.  I had already laid my stuff out and I made sure everything was in order.  Gels: check, bandaid on each nipple: check, bottle of recoverite: check, MP3 player:check, phone: check, Glide: check, glide some more: check, caps and visors: check, sun glasses: check, Virginia Tech Bike Jersey: check. Go Hokies. 

Well, I was off.  The start for the marathon was the same as the half so I knew the routine.  I got there and found my boy Timmy and he was freaking.  It was his first marathon and he freaked.  We were running a low on time and we decided to find a facility on the way to the start line.  It was just like before about a mile walk through the back roads were old Disney rides go to die.  I saw a few escaped Disney workers hiding in the reeds that had gone native.  I didn’t see any signs but I was sure it would be a bad idea to feed them.  A couple of my fellow hokie nation saw me out and we gobbled a little on the way to the start.  It was a long walk. 

Finally, the start line was within site and so were the deposit facilities.  We got in line and waited our turn to drop trou and squat.  My buddy Timmy was not only freaking he was freezing and wrapped in a Mylar blanket.  It was about 50F out and he thought it might snow.  He lives in Fort Myers Fl and the average temp in the “winter” is 75ish.  Either way, we get done and to the start line.  I start to freak out a little.  I had decided I was going to start with Timmy but we are in different corrals where they do not converge on the same route till mile 3 or so.  I hope there is no problems with me not going over the right mats but either way I will get through. 

Before the start I look up and see the biggest most beutiful full moon I have seen in years.  It lights up the sky like it was meant just for us.  I heard earlier that it would be the brightest full moon of the year because this is the closest it will be for a while.  I love the moon.  It may be the constant staring at it I do that may cause some of my lunacy.  I am not crazy my mind is just playing tricks on me.

There is some words, an anthem, a wheeled start, a ready, set, and fireworks and then we are off.  You know that push forward then stop then walk a little, then try to jog but that fails and then we walk some more and the actual start line get near and you see bobbing head just past it and you step on the mat and start to run.  I love marathon starts, its like driving in Philly during rush hour but with an end to the frustration in site. 

Well, the first mile goes by as it should slow.  I promised to start with Timmy and stay with him for a couple of miles.  I was not going out to race but to finish and there was no need to push early.  After that if he wanted to go on ahead or if I did there was no obligation.  We would meet after the finish.  We hit the 1 mile mark at 11 minutes and I think that is great.  We are looping through the Disney World roads.  At this point Timmy is burning up.  He overdressed and has to remove one layer.  A lesson learned.  I have my sunglasses on and it is still dark so I really have no idea where I am going but some how I am on a bridge then I am running under the golf ball at Epcot.  It is so cool to be going through these parks when nobody is there.  The torches light up the way and we make a turn at Norway I think and there is the river of runners from the other start line.  We are merged.  The hard part is that we merge at the narrowest portion of the entire race. 

Timmy and I make it out of Epcot and on our way to the Magic Kingdom.  I see balloons up ahead and suggest that we push forward a little to see what pace that is.  I hear and affirmative and I pick up the pace a little.  It is about mile 4 and I look back to see my man lagging behind.  That is the last I see of Timmy till the end of the race.  I felt a little bad but at that point I needed to run my own race and he needed to run his.  I had no doubt he would finish and do great.  I was not disappointed. 

Well, that balloon ahead was the 5 hour pace group and I didn’t give them a second glance as I went on by.  I could see the 4:30 pace group in the distance and knew where I needed to be so I just kept my pace.  We were heading around the Richard Petty raceway paying homage to Mr. The King when we came upon the rock vs. disco decision.  I love me some disco but rock keeps me going.  I have no idea what was rocking.  As a matter of fact my own play-list was barely registering.  I was kind of totally zoned into my own thing.  It was so bad that a few times other songs were going on in my head drowning out the MP3 player.  It was kind of annoying. 

Anywho, I ran into a runner who lives in Blacksburg but does not go to Virginia Tech.  A townie.  There was some connection like her husband works there or something like that but I really couldn’t have told you 100m later much less a month and a half later.  It was a welcome distraction for a few meters.

We hit the Magic Kingdom just like the day before.  Back stage into Main Street.  The lights are flashing and there are characters everywhere.  The crowd is there a cheering and it is so cool.  Right before we turn to Tomorrow land the crowd is just standing there silently so I egg them on.  “Come on Cheertators”  It works and they start cheering.  Around we go and back through Cinderella’s castle.  It is so awesome.  Again more silent cheertators.  I fix them and get a roaring ovation as I leave toward yesterday land.  I think it is really called Frontier Land but what ever.  It is kind of lonely back here because there are no cheertators, just some characters and a few uniformed Disney Personnel.  Thanks for the support so early guys. 

By this point it is getting a little warm and my cap is getting soaked.  The sun is up and beating us down. I am at a much slower pace than before and we going over some of the same course as the day before so I see the Sharpie signs and am able to read some of them.  Funny stuff for the most part.  If ever you wanted random trivia I am not sure a marathon is the place you would expect to find it.  But there is was.  I finally saw Space about this point.  I stopped and traded my cap for my visor.  I had never run with the visor but I decided to risk it.  I need a little air rustling through my thick lockes.  This worked better than I could have ever expected.

The next stretch was the to Animal Kingdom.  Nothing exciting except the water treatment plant on the way.  When they say that you will see the behind the scenes of Disney, they weren’t kidding.  Others said is was sewage treatment but having worked in the plumbing industry for a little while it didn’t have that “behind the scenes” smell.  Either way kind of cool and weird.  There were also some fantastic green houses.  In an unrelated moment they were handing out bananas.  I think every person peeled one took a  couple of bites and threw the rest on the ground.  Banana peels everywhere plus runners make for a cartoonish scene.  I didn’t see anybody fall but I am sure there were some slips. 

I head toward a turn and I know it is the Animal Kingdom.  Why else would there be animals with handlers there.  I think I was a goat and some birds.  The Animal Kingdom is kind of cool.  It is sort of like a Zoo on steroids.  The weird part is that there is a replica Everest there and I totally missed it.  Real nice scenery though.  Before I knew it we out of the Animal Kingdom.  There were people lined up to cheer us on outside the gates.  Totally awesome.  Right before we left the Animal Kingdom there was an aid station where the last thing handed out was a sponge soaked in water.  Oh so fantastic.  I put it right on top of my head and squeezed.  My visor kept the water right on my head.  I needed that and I used that idea with the other aid stations where I pour a little water on my head to cool off a little. 

After animal kingdom came the longest part of the entire race.  It was the 26.2 miles between there and Hollywood Studios.  I mean it felt like another marathon was put in that space.  It was just so long.  I had already started to drop my pace and was taking full advantage of the aid stations to walk a little.  The 4:30 pace group had passed me and I was totally cool with that.  They did their job by getting my to that point.  This leg of the race just went on for ever.  There was a point where we went out a mile and doubled back on it.  It was just hard.  The aid stations were a plenty but the area was kind of boring.  Either way, we eventually made it to Hollywood studios. 

This was great, the parks were opening by this point and we hit Hollywood studios from the back lot.  I saw the incredibles which was awesome.  Then we went through the costuming tunnel.  There were costumes and sewing machines on each side.  It was so cool.  This opened up to a street scene with a New York City back drop.  My mind was really messing with me at this point and I could not focus enough to see where the street ended and the facade began.  Lucky for me we turned before that but it is still messing with me.  About a 100m later I saw a Disney Vacation Club stand.  They really pimp this thing all over.  They are the Disney equivalent to Dunkin Doughnuts in Delaware.  I stopped and told the lady at the booth that I need a vacation.  She told me to stop by when I am finished.  But I needed one then.  I moved on.  We hit the gates of Hollywood Studios and I see a guy with a sign that says use your feather.  I know I have big ears but Dumbo I am not.

I start doing the math and realize there is only about two and a half miles left.  I am so in.  The next portion takes us by some resorts.  The Swan and Dolphin and by a canal.  It is about mile 24.5 when I hit a down slope on a bridge when I realize my shoes have about had it.  I started to slip in them and that is usually it.  Still things are going well, for the most part everything is feeling great.  One hot spot on my foot but that is okay.  I am near the last mile.  Bring it on.

Oh it was on.  The mile around the world.  We come in behind the scenes Epcot near a garbage dumpster.  I miss Cleveland.  Then out onto the world.  This is the most torturous mile ever.  I see where I need to be and it is a mile away while being only 50m away.  I have to go all the way around.  Canada, England, Morocco, China, Japan, Norway, America land, Mexico.  This is just long and will haunt me forever.  I finish the loop around the world and see Space there.  We slap hands and I know it is just a little while to go.  Around the corner is a gospel group then another turn and the finish and a bunch of silent cheertators.  I shame them into cheering and I finish in 4:42.

It is amazing we are ushered through the shoot. I got my Mickey Medal and Mylar Blanket.  I love and feel great.  It get to the refreshment and there is Powerade as well as water.  Overall the refreshments are the only bad part about this event.  I get through to the Goofy Tent and have my choice of beautiful ladies to give me my medal.  Afterwards, I see my parents and Rae.  I gather her up and we get our picture taken with all three medals.  What a blast.

The Tour De Cleveland: Cleveland Marathon Race Report

Where do I begin.  I am just a glutton for punishment.  I had a fantastic race and yet another success of a marathon.  That is the best most positive way to put it.  The more accurate way to describe it is to say I should have run the half marathon instead.  Two weeks rest after the Flying Pig Marathon is just not enough.  I thought I was ready and I was not.

It all started rather odd.  I was one of the last to cross the start line.  I accidentally got separated from my Athletic Supporters and still had my gear and gym bag with me when I crossed that start line.  At one point I was willing to run the entire marathon with the bag strapped across my chest.  Space was reading “Ultramarathon Man” so that was in the bag and if I needed it I could have pulled it out and read for a little inspiration.  I got lucky though.  About 100 meters after the start line Space and Rae were there and I tossed the bag in their direction.  I will learn from that mistake and ensure that I do not loose track of my Athletic Supporters in the future.  They are what keeps the team together.

Well, there I was at the very back of the pack.  This was obviously too slow so I weaved my way through the crowd at a blistering pace.  I was putting up some killer miles in the low 8 to high 7 minute range.  I passed the 5:30 pace group and about a mile later I passed the 4:15 pace group.  I could see the the 4 hour pace group just ahead.  So I pushed.  I passed the 4:00 pace group just before the 10k mark.  What a great feeling.  I was moving and I still had a lot left.  That would be end of that mess.  Just remember, when running a marathon and you get that feeling of euphoria.  Don’t worry, it will pass.  I looked down after I went past the 10k timing “mat” and saw that our new timing system tag was coming loose from my shoe.  So I pulled off to readjust the tag so it would not inadvertently come off during the race.

Lets see here.  We have these champion chip systems that have been proven and are well accepted by the racing community.  Then comes the Chrono Track system that has only been used in select races with very little success  See Complete Running for an update.  This “D-tag” is held together with a pressure sensitive adhesive where the champion chip is a mechanical lock.  I am an adhesive chemist and love the idea of the technology being advanced but it was not ready.  I initially attached my tag to my shoe in the rain.  Did I forget to mention that the race started in the rain.  A very good thing except for the soggy shoes.  Well through a lack of forethought the adhesive did not hold.  When I realized it was loose it had stopped raining and I hoped that is was going to hold when I stuck it back together and tucked in under my laces.  A mile later I looked down and found that it was loose again.  I pulled off and worked at it and eventually I took pin from my number and ran it through.  That did the trick.  I had lost about 7-10 minutes and the stopping like that killed the pace and rhythm I had going.  This was the start of my misstride and tight calf muscles.  Lets not forget the timing mats were about a millimeter short of speed bumps made of plastic that were slippery in the rain.  How about that.  My rant is over.  I think.

After that was through, I passed the 4 hour pace group for the third time of the day.  Things were going along real nice.  My Athletic Supporters met me right before the 1/2 marathon turn off were I exchanged caps and dropped off my gloves.  My knee was bothering me and at the turn off I thought how nice it would be to cut it short.  I went on and that was the second mistake of the day.

I got to the half point in under 2 hours and I was real happy but then I zonked.  My left calf was real tight and my right knee was really hurting.  For brief moment I thought about those fatal letters.  DNF.  Then I came to my senses.  My brain was telling me to keep going.  I must prove that I can do this.  My body will adapt.  Of course it will I have trained through ice storms.  Over bad terrain.  In a blizzard.  With a turned ankle.  All of that I can run with a little knee pain.  Body be damned I am stronger than that.  So I kept running and the 4 hour pace group passed me for the third and final time.  It was okay.  This was not about time it was about finishing.

The next 13 miles were hidious.  The pain was not really that bad but my stride was completly undone.  My left leg was mostly in my standard stride and foot strike but my right was kind of limping and I was favoring it to try and take some impact off of my knee.  This whole thing just put more stress on my hips.  What at disaster.  On and on I went.

At mile 20, a guy passed by and asked if I was at the Flying Pig Marathon two weeks earlier.  I guess there are very few people in Virginia Tech bike jerseys that are running marathons.  I affirmed my participation.  He had run in the relay in Cincy.  We discussed a few items of note and he encouraged me on in my insanity.  From that point I kind of kept him as my pacer and never lost site.  Thanks Dude.

Well, four hours and nineteen minutes later I completed my 4th marathon in one year.  With the 4:02 I ran in Cincy I have cut 40 minutes from my time.  Fantastic.    I could not be prouder of what I have accomplished. I am nursing that knee and hip injury and am eager to start my running again.   The funny part about this whole thing is if you look back at my training log I cut runs out or short because I was a little injured or fatigued.  I was smart and listened to my body.  When I get into a race and that good sense turns off.  I am about never having a DNF on my record but I need to have better judgment about crazy stuff like this.  Thanks Cleveland for putting on another great race.  Just drop that Chono Track idiocy next time.

When Pigs Fly, I Soar and I Sore

Where do I start. What a fantastic weekend. Let me explain. No that will take to long. Let me summarize. No no. Let me make short statements. No haw about some modified Caesar. I came, I saw, I ran and ran and ran. No in bullet points I

  • Got to Cincy
  • Went to the Expo
  • Saw Bart Yasso
  • Went to the Zoo
  • Went back to the Expo
  • Went to sleep way to late
  • Ran a fantastic race
  • Went back home

For Real now.

Wearing my Virginia Tech Bike Jersey was probably the best move of the day. Besides being a bike jersey with its three back pockets for storing the essentials like gels, caps and the like, we are a Hokie Nation. I mean it. Before the race one gentleman came up to Space and I and introduced himself. I believe he was class of 73. We chatted for a few minutes and went on our merry way. When I got to the start coral another Hokie proud came up to me. He told me he saw my Jersey and had to say hi. There is nothing prettier than Orange and Maroon. I believe he was class of 70. This was his 5th marathon and he was at the Marine Corps last year as well. As we waited for the start we chatted up with a couple in front of us. It was their first. We assured them that the 26 miles was not that hard. It was the last .2 . If you had run the Marine Corps Marathon this is truly the case. I saw the guy once more as he passed me at about mile 23 or 24. As the race went on I had a cheering section at just about every mile. I say it again “We are a Hokie Nation” Many a Hokies in Tech gear saw me and cheered me on. It was awesome. Even at the finish line (swine) as I was “sprinting” to the finish an official told me he was a Tech Alum. On a side note. I saw a family of cheering spectators in U of Illinois shirts and as an homage to my brother from a different mother Eric Skinner I yelled out I-L-L. After a brief surprised look I they yelled back the I-N-I!

I got a perfect spot for the hotel. It was about a mile and a quarter to the start line and gave me a good warm up walk to get things worked out. The crowd was pumped and things started to get antsy when the start time had come and gone. It turns out that overnight a house fire had occurred somewhere on the race course. The race was delayed and rerouted a block. At about 6:45 the fireworks went off and so did I.

I started weaving my way through the crowd. I had lined up just before the 4:15 pace group but was not worried where they were. I just used the first mile to warm up. I reached the 1 mile point at 12 minutes and change. I was a little worried but I knew there was a delay crossing the start line but 12 minutes still seemed slow. I got into my effort mode and put the speed on. I felt good even though I was putting up 8 minute miles. I had my plan and I was sticking to it. I would listen to my body and not the clock. I passed the 4:00 pace group at about mile 4 and was cool with that. At one point I saw the 3:45 pace group was not that far in front of me. I could have caught them but I thought it a bad idea that could only lead to disaster.

Now for some reason I am unable to read and elevation chart. I saw that there was a big hill at about mile 8-9 but it just seemed like the rest was easy down hills. I was wrong. This course is full of hills, up an down. I am real glad I ran all of those hills in training. Without them I may have been sunk. What really got me was some of the short steep hills. There was one around mile 17 that I saw nearlly 2/3 of the people in front of me come to a stand still. I trudged up but the pace was much slower. I know that there are courses with more hills but this was a nice challenge and me being surprised by it added to the challenge.

Things were going real well up through the 30k mark. I was actually on 30k pace. I met my one and only time goal for 2008. I crossed the half marathon mark in less than 2 hours. Over all things went real well but there was a melt down at the 21 mile mark or so. My poor feet just did not want to take the pounding anymore. They started hurting real bad. The fatigue set in and things were looking real grim. I decided to slow down and get a grip on the situation. Then I trudged on.

We were on the Ohio River front at this point and I was very glad that the race organizers were on top of their game. There were almost too many water stops. Of course that is not possible to have to many but there were plenty in the second half (last 10k) of the race. It gave me a chance to slow down rehydrate and possibly walk if I needed to. Speaking of rehydration. My hands got real dry and therefor the salt got crusty. It is just uncomfortable but some water on the hands washes them off and helps alot. Another thing is I kind of forgot my gel plan and should have taken the third at about the 30k mark but I missed it and thought I was okay. I need to stop listening to my brain. It does stupid things at times.

There were so many cool features to this race like the gym bag gift at the Expo, the poster, the Flying Pig towel at the Finish, the medal. But a real cool feature is the Race to the Finish. There was a timing mat at the 25.2 mile mark. It there was a race inside of the race. The fastest last mile. This is nothing but a new torture device that we runners now have to go for because it is in our nature. I am already hobbling along but I put up a 9:33 last mile or something like that and Finished in 4:05:06.

The finish was fantastic. In the final half mile the streets were lined with people cheering the runners on. It came over another hill to view the finish line. What a great site. If memory serves there was a bridge over head with people cheering us on as well. I hate coming to a stop after races. I always feel so disoriented about things. The medical staff asked me if I needed help. I waved them off. I was just starting my road to Cleveland.

About the other cool stuff. There was no finish line, it was the Finish Swine. Of course. The post race refreshments were varied and plentiful. The medal has not only Flying Pig on it; on the back is a Flying Pig’s butt. Pictures are coming. Man do I love post race massages. If I weren’t married I may have asked that fine young lady to come home with me. There is something about laying down and being manhandled. It may hurt at first but the effects are joyful and ever lasting.

Overall, I made some mistakes on this race but that is the learning experience that is running marathons. I will return to Cincy to take on the Pig again. Probably not next year. I am still stunned by my time and the race was long by a quarter mile. They reworked it our and the 26.2 time would have been 4:02:46.  All I need is to shave off another hour to qualify for Boston.  😛

I am really looking forward to a nice flat course like the Cleveland Marathon in 2 weeks. What a race and Go Hokies.

An Awesome Encounter on 16 Miles of Dehydration

I was on my long run this Sunday as I usually am.  I found out afterwards that my training plan said 12 miles but I had already chosen to run 16.  I wanted to get out and run for close to three hours and clear my head in the mild weather.  It was about 32 degrees with no wind and no rain.  All was going okay till a point.

Previously, in the week there had been some frozen precipitation that has melted and refrozen.  This had caused sheets of ice that we almost undetectable and made for some treacherous motivation.  I had gone on to the Metroparks and decided that I would give the multipurpose path a try and run till I couldn’t or 16 miles which ever came first.  I got to my starting point and downed an e-gel and gulped some water from my tour de France bottle and I set off with my MP3 player blasting.  I found that the ice on the path was that kind of white crunchy ice that afforded some sort of traction.  This held up for about a mile.   There were patches of no white crunchy stuff where I quickly found out were just sheets of black ice.  Well, that lesson was learned and I stuck to the crunchy stuff.  All was good and got better when I turned to the Bedford Reservation and found an almost dry path free from even the crunch ice.  Fantastic.  I was feeling real good about this.  The bulk of my run was to be in the Bedford Reservation and if it was all like this then I was golden. 

It is amazing how things change.  I made it about three miles and then the path turned behind some trees and the ice was in sheets again.  These were at least sporadic at that point.  Another mile and the path was almost impassable.  I must have been a site.  I was switching strides like I was a Fremen on Dune trying not to attract a Worm.  I started off shuffling across some ice with short controlled steps.  Then at another point I kind of planted one foot and pushed with the other to slide across some ice.  Then there were the down and side slopes.  It was awesome.  At one point I actually slipped and just about pulled a bicep keeping my balance.  I have never hurt so much in my upper-body with out actually falling.  It was about that time I decided that I would just run on the road of the Metroparks instead of the path.  I had seen others doing it and for once I thought that was the better idea. 

I am glad I did.  For one thing I am alive to tell this tale which I am unsure I would be if I had not abandoned the path.  The other is that I crossed this fellow runner going the opposite direction at about 6.5 miles.  We saw each other and nodded in acknowledgment.  Then he asked me how far.  I removed my ear bud for clarification and the replied 16 miles.  He nodded and wished me luck.  I did the same and I went on my merry way.  I had another 1.5 before I turned around.  I had thought nothing more of it.  It was just another pleasant interaction with another runner.  Well, there was one more ice encounter of note where I was running across a sheet in one direction to my left and ended up on the right side of the path.  At the turn around I had popped another e-gel and got back on the run.  BTW, I love the Cherry Bomb is the best flavor ever.  Lets say it is the Bomb. 

All is relatively uneventful. I stick the road for the next four miles and almost get run over by one old jerk that doesn’t know that pedestrians have the right of way on all roads throughout the Unites States.  Either way I hit the clear path and keep trucking.  Then up in the distance I see that I am coming up on another runner.  I was trudging up the hill when I caught up the the gentlemen I had conversed with ever so briefly a few miles back in crossing.  It was the crest of the hill and he had stopped to grab a drink from his bottle when I approached from behind and commented on how beautiful the day was for running.  That was when he asked something like “How do you do it?”  My confused look was enough for him explain further.  He wanted to know how I could run 16 miles without hydration.  I really did not have an answer for him. I just kind of patted my belly and said I have a lot stored up.  I had already started to get dehydrated a mile or two back when my palms went dry.  I had told him that I tend not to run with water that much in the winter.  I know it was probably a bad idea but it was just the way I ran.  He asked what I was training for.  Of course the Flying Pig in May and the Catch a Leprechaun 30k in March.  He was training for a 50k in March and Boston.  We stood there for a minute or two discussing running.  He hydrates every mile with 4oz of a sports drink of sort and the bottles were marked lines denoting those 4 ounces.  He has run the past 10 Marine Corps marathon and I explained that I had run last years Marine as well and that my father had run it in 83 and that was my inspiration for running as well.  We chatted some more about the training and races and of course hydration.  I even got a 4oz slug of his drink.  Well thanks went and greetings and I was off.  I was probably 200 meters out front when I realized that I did not even catch his name.  It was a most pleasant experience and only two miles from my finish.  I really regret not getting his name.

I finished my run and quickly downed all the water in my car and considered tapping the radiator if it weren’t full of ethylene glycol.  My banana was fantastic and all was well.  I had a fantastic run with some adventure and I met a fantastic runner along the way.  I hope to cross paths with him again.  I am more fulfilled by the experience and am glad to be part of the community that is running.  Either-way, thanks Dude for the juice and the fantastic camaraderie.  I am going to reconsider my hydration in the future.