When I was in New York I felt some unusual pain in my left shin. Sure enough, when I got back, after my TNT coach looked at it, he diagnosed a shin splint injury. It was hard to walk for a couple of days, but it got progressively better that week with a break from the training, ice and stretching.
That Saturday April 14 was supposed to be a long coached run within Huddart Park in Woodside — 12 to 14 miles. With the injury, the coach told me to run only six, and do a lot of walking with the running, about 50/50. I got lucky, actually, since that day it poured — it started raining about in my last mile, and by the time I finished it was really bad. The other runners, who did at least an hour or so more than I did — really had a “character building” exercise.
I did take some pics — some hills, and the trail went past Highway 280.
Over the next few days the shin did well, and I progressed back into a normal schedule. On Tuesday April 17 I went to a track workout. We did laps around the track at the College of San Mateo. We did some speed work — nice to go all out. The shin felt fine.
Then…. The flu. I had been sniffling and ok earlier in the week, and then by Wednesday and Thursday it hit bad. I really didn’t get over it until Saturday, when I basically didn’t get out of bed all day. On Sunday April 22 I was feeling good enough to do six miles, but at about mile 5 I started having that flu-like lightheadedness, and walked most of the rest.
Off to Philadelphia for work all this week, and then this weekend another long coached run — 14 to 16 miles. Wish me luck.
As you note in the previous update below, the uphill training run on Saturday 3/31 kicked my behind big time. It was tough, both aerobically and on my knees. I took a couple days off of training to get back on track.
The week of April 2 was the first week this training schedule that I was not able to get in much training during the week. That Monday I flew to Boston to do one of my seminar programs that next day, and flew back that Wednesday. With the work I had to catch up, I wasn’t able to get any training in until Friday, when I did an 85 minutes in the gym on two different machines — 45 on the treadmill and 40 on an eliptical machine.
That next Saturday the 7th I flew to New York City for a seminar the following week. So that Sunday, April 8th, being in New York, I wanted to do a long run in Central Park. It was Easter Sunday, but it was also very cold there, at least to me — wind chill at 27 degrees, and snow flurries. But I did run eight miles. It was great.
Unfortunately I forgot to bring the camera on this trip. So the only evidence I have is the frostbite.
I may have overdone it, though. Along with the running, I did a LOT of walking in NY, exploring, etc. The next day, Monday the 9th, since I knew I would have the seminar the next day and would fly the next and not be able to work out, I did get 35 minutes on a treadmill in at the hotel.
With doing a lot of walking on top of that the rest of Monday and Tuesday, by the time I left NYC on Wednesday I started to feel some pain on my lower leg when I walked. During the flight it started to hurt more. Not sure what’s going on. I may have shin splints. Will keep you posted.
But in the last few weeks, I’ve run in Orlando, Denver, Honolulu, and in Central Park in NYC. It’s been a LOT of fun.
On Saturday, March 31, we had our long coached run. It was at a local town in the hills on the SF peninsula west of Palo Alto, Portola Valley. It was to be a 10 – 12 mile run.
It started off okay.
Then we got to a turning point for the 10-12 mile trail. Note the soon to be ironic smiley face.
Here’s where things got interesting. As I knew from previous years as a volunteer, this training run had a lot of hills, going up trails in the area. I didn’t know how many or how intense. After the smiley face, we went up a hill.
And boy was it a hill. Check out the incline in the pic.
It was about 30 yards of fairly steep incline. The next pic is of people having traversed (walking mostly) the hill, and coming to the other side.
You’ll note there are no pics of me. The point of this run, along with understanding hills, was to build endurance. Most all the runs I’ve done so far had very few or minor hills. This one had about 6 or so miles of hills in it. So it kicked my behind, aerobically. No pics of me. Only a few pics overall, actually.
The other tough thing about the hills – going down. After several miles of steep declines, the knees start to hurt. They hurt through the entire remainder of the run, and into Sunday. Luckily it didn’t last, but it made the experience tougher.
I ended up missing the turn off for the 12 mile, but I ended up doing the 10 mile trail. They tell me it was actually 10.7 miles, by GPS. It felt really really really long.
Finally, at the end the last couple of miles were relatively flat, with only a few minor hills.
And at the end, I was able to notice the flowers along the trail. Being the week before Easter and spring is here, the lupines were blooming. I love lupines – my beloved Texas bluebonnets are in the lupine family, and the ones out here in CA look like them. I miss seeing the bluebonnets this time of year, covering entire fields in blue.
Finally I make it to the end of the run. It was really, really tough. The uphill part was bad aerobically, with the lungs burning; the downhill was very tough on the knees. I know it is good for me in the long run, so to speak, but it took a couple of days to get over.
Character building, I think they call it.
One of the challenges of my training this season is my work – I have an intense travel schedule this spring, so I’m working hard to keep up with the running while traveling. In previous weeks I wrote about running in Orlando and Denver. On March 28, I flew to Honolulu for a business meeting, and was to come back the next night on a red eye flight back to San Francisco. (I’ve made over 20 trips to Hawaii for work in the last five years. I’ve been able to enjoy some but mostly it’s work and not vacation fun.)
To keep from missing training, I’ve tried to run during every trip, either in the hotel gym or in the outdoors if I have a car. I arrived in Honolulu about 5 pm, went to the hotel, changed, and then drove to Ala Moana Park.
If you’ve been to Honolulu you might know the park – it’s right at the edge of downtown, between the downtown business district and Waikiki. It’s one of the largest urban parks in the US, and has its edge a very beautiful beach. I usually drive through it when I’m in the area, since even if I’m just working on this trip I can at least see a little sand and surf. It also has some nice ocean side trails, for about 3 ½ miles.
Just to prove I actually did it, I took some photos. The pics are a bit odd – I’m still trying to figure the best way to take pictures at night, and It was dark by the time I got there, so the yellowish night lights were on. But you can still make some of it out.
And, to top it off, I had time after I finished my meetings, and time before I left that night. So I went to the 24-Hour Fitness gym and did 45 minutes of elliptical cardio, plus some cross training, there. No pics of that, but I am proud of it.
I’ve gone back and forth whether I should post this post. I’m going to do it, if only to show the ups and downs of life. The last couple of training posts have been upbeat, as has this whole training process and blog writing has been. But the time period I’m writing about right now, February of 2002, was a very bleak time in my life. It’s a good reminder that life has its good times, and its bad times, and we should remember both. So, I’m posting this, one of the more depressing things I’ve ever written. It’s about the death of one of my pets during my recovery.
Remember, as I described in previous posts, at this time I was quite fatigued, adjusting to the very difficult life of a chemotherapy patient, with the cycle of almost OK – infusion – very sick and fatigued – recovery, and then starting the downward spiral again. And likely depressed. But I’ve remembered another incident that month that contributed to all the things that were wrong at that time.
Not too long after my sister Karen left, in early February, I got an earache, which developed into an ear infection. My temperature went up, and I went overnight for IV antibiotics. I was able to go home fairly quickly.
At some point in this timeline, either when I came home from the hospital in January or when I came home from this brief hospitalization in February, our cat Sunny, short for Sundance, appeared lethargic. We took the picture at that time that is included here. Another picture taken at this same time, in an edited version without Sunny, is what I’ve used for the picture in the banner to this blog above; this is the full picture with Sunny.
I got Sunny and his brother at the same time; I had been looking for a good male cat name for a pair that would go together, and chose Butch and Sundance. Butch was at the time a tiny fluffy white kitten, so Butch seemed appropriately ironic; Sundance was an orange calico whose name that shortened over time to Sunny, which seemed fitting as well. We had another cat at the time, not related, and named Simon. Three cats….
Over the next few days Sunny continued looking really bad, had less and less of an appetite, and was not using the litter box. A visit to the vet found that he had lymphoma, a large tumor affecting his intestines. The tumor was now surrounding his intestines and would eventually close it off. The vet said that we could do kitty chemotherapy, but that would be upwards of $10,000. He had about a week before it got really bad.
So we took Sunny home, and started giving him IV fluids. He would look at food, but not eat. When he got so weak that he couldn’t jump up on the bed where he would sleep with us, we knew it was time.
We took him in, and we allowed him to pass peacefully.
I tell people now that losing Sunny was in some ways worse, much more intensely painful and difficult, than losing either of my parents. Certainly not as deep of a loss, of course, but more intense and immediate. For both my parents the end came at the end of a difficult illness. Plus, I had been living many miles away from both of them after college; with my dad I was in California when he was having his toughest time at the end. I called and visited frequently, but it’s not the same as being there. With a pet, however, when they’re gone, the pain comes back every time you look at where they’re NOT in your home – they’re not sitting in that windowsill they loved, they’re not in the kitchen at mealtime meowing for food, they’re not in bed with you as they have been every night, etc. It’s a scab that gets picked every time you notice they’re not where they have been routinely for years. The pain is felt every time, several times a day. Surely, my parents meant much more to me, but the pain didn’t come back so immediately at all times, like it was with Sunny. And Sunny was young, about 6 years old at the time. He would have had many years left in a normal lifespan.
Of course, it might have also been more painful with what I had already gone through. To contemplate and go through a death, when I had been close to one myself, undoubtedly had to have made the situation that much more intense.
Here’s the irony of this situation: I get a blood cancer, fight very hard to survive, come home, and my pet has a blood cancer of his very own, and doesn’t make it. I know life really doesn’t work this way, but sometimes I think that Sunny gave himself so I could make it. It’s much too coincidental otherwise.
THIS, along with the other issues I was going through, is why I don’t remember February 2002. What are those lyrics from the Streisand song? “What’s to painful to remember we simply choose to forget.”
I may have forgotten about the ending, but I haven’t forgotten about Sunny.
I mentioned in the last post how I ran 7 miles at Sawyer Camp Trail on a recent Saturday. On the trail going in the other direction were many runners and cyclists. But on this day were a lot of walkers. I quickly realized this was a training walk for another Team in Training group, the walk team. See, along with the run team, there is a group that prepares for walking a marathon, with special workouts and coaching focused on walking an endurance event. And as you do when a TNT participant sees another in a practice session, I acknowledge them in the way we’re told to do when we sign up (if you’re not in TNT I won’t spoil the surprise for you). That kept me motivated to keep going as well.
And finally I came to someone I talked about earlier in the blog (see at this link) , Carol. Carol spoke at the initial kickoff to this TNT season, and she’s an honoree this season for the walk team. I was doing a run/walk program that day, so fortunately I came upon Carol as my walk time began, so I walked with her and we talked.
She’s quite the inspiration. Remember a couple of blog posts ago I was saying how I am in awe of those going through treatment and still participate in endurance events? Carol was doing that same thing that very day. She’s currently in treatment, and she says when she feels up to it she participates with the team. So, today she “felt good enough” to walk 12 miles. I could barely walk down the halls when I was in treatment, and here she’s walking 12. Amazing. As I left from talking with her she yelled out at me, “You’re my inspiration.” Wow, pot, kettle, black. You amaze and inspire me.
Which brings me to another reason why I run this season. It’s something that I’ve been thinking of during these long runs. I run because I can. I’ve been through a lot, and through some things that many don’t make it through. I did. I can run. So I must.
It feels good when I run. I feel alive when I run. Energized, goal oriented, successful. Enjoying the beauty of life, including my own health.
Yes, I run for Carol, and for Samuel, and Justin, and Peggy, and my aunt Martha, and countless others. But I also run for me.
Does anyone else think that time is getting shorter and more complicated at the same time?
I still struggle with making sure I find adequate time to train with the very hectic work schedule. I was in Denver and Orlando last week, but managed to get in runs in both cities during the week, both after flying in. My practice is to fly in early in the day if possible, and either get to the hotel gym for a treadmill or other cardio equipment, or find a place to run outside, particularly if I have a rental car.
So Tuesday, 3/21, after landing in Orlando I did go to the hotel gym and did an hour of cardio. Then on Thursday 3/23, after checking in I was able to find one of the city parks not far from my hotel, and I ran five miles there. It’s a great way to make sure I get exercise and rest on the road. Keeps me disciplined. Often before on the road I’d get fatigued, and the tendency to just eat the hotel/restaurant food and sleep would win out, and I’d get no exercise. This has been a pattern for a number of years. I hope I keep this up after I finish training.
Then on Saturday 3/25, on our schedule was what’s called an “on your own” run, meaning there’s no coached run that weekend. So I went to one of my favorite trails, Sawyer Camp Trail outside of San Mateo.
This running path along San Andreas Lake/Crystal Springs Reservoir off Highway 280 on the peninsula south of San Francisco was the closest path to me when Sam and I first moved to the Bay Area, to Millbrae just a couple miles north of the trail. Remember when I talked about starting and stopping, and starting and stopping, etc., running programs over the years? This trail is where I first started running when I moved here. The trail is paved, and marked in ½ mile increments looping along the edge of the lake for six miles. The lake is one of the water sources for the city of San Francisco and other communities along the peninsula, so they don’t allow boats, swimmers, fishing, or any of the normal lake activities – it’s fully fenced off from the path. This makes it quite scenic, with the still calmness of the water undisturbed by boats or the other usual agitators. And what makes it more serene and idyllic is that deer are allowed in the fenced off areas along the lake, and in the protected hills on the other side of the trail going along the road. It’s not uncommon to turn a corner and see a deer and its spring newborn calf grazing along the water’s edge or on the hillside. They’re mostly unnerved around people, and if calmly observed from a safe distance they don’t seem to mind people observing them on the trail. Some of my family back in Texas who enjoy deer hunting may be quite frustrated, but it makes for an incredible experience.
So that Saturday, I decided I’d run six miles. And with the past Saturday, as I got into it, I felt comfortable running a bit more. So I extended the run to seven miles. I must say, increasing mileage isn’t as difficult as I once thought it would be. You get into a mental repetition, the back and forth, into a zone where it’s not as painful or difficult as you would think. The hardest part of running so far is the first mile or two. I really, really don’t want to do it. But after a few minutes, I get used to the breathing and the pace, and get to that mental attitude where it seems right.
Sure, I sweat, and pant to a degree, but I can keep up a conversation. I bring water along, and I’ve noticed that after an hour I need some liquid energy such as that packet of Gu (a sugary gel your eat during a longer run or other endurance event to provide immediate energy). Without those I get a bit foggy, and with them the running is easier. But I’ve noticed that after about 15 minutes it doesn’t matter whether I’m at 30 minutes into it, or an hour and 30 minutes. As one of the other honorees have said, it’s just putting one foot in front of the other. And repeat.
And on that Saturday, I repeated for 7 miles. On a beautiful course. Life is good.