Blogging marathon weekend — the flight out

June 2, 2007 at 4:19 am | Posted in My current training, TNT | Leave a comment

I’m hoping to be able to blog periodically through the weekend, shorter messages than what I normally do, adding pictures when appropriate.

It’s now Friday evening, and I’m flying out of SFO to San Diego. We’ve been delayed for 2 hours, so I’m here in the boarding area…. Waiting….. I travel a lot for work so I know, you can’t get frustrated by travel troubles. Things are going to work out the way they’re going to, whether you get upset or not. So might as well just go with it.

I’ve been getting a lot of calls, emails, cards, and other messages from a lot of people wishing me support the last couple of days — family, friends, co-workers, It’s been terrific and I’ve really appreciated it, but it has also has had the effect of slowly making me a bit more nervous.

I’ve been finding myself a little antsy the last couple of days. Between the packing, and the messages of support, I’m realizing: It’s here. It’s coming. I’ve been thinking of doing one of these for years, and have been planning for at least a year mentally, and training the last 5-6 months. I know physically I’m ready as I’ll be, and I know it will be a good experience. But still…. The closeness of the event is getting to me.

Also, there’s the fear of the unknown. I’ve never done one of these, and I have never run more than 20 miles. I know from a training standpoint that I’m ready, but there are so many things that you hear about that could happen.

Finally, there’s the internal mind game that is coming back. There’s a part of me mentally that has kept me from doing a number of things in life, that is somewhat controlling, saying “You can’t do that. That’s not you.” I suppose in some ways in some things we all have that little voice, but for me it’s kept me from doing things outside my comfort zone, like athletic things.

I’ve been keeping it at bay for this training season, mostly because I’ve been so motivated and focused on the five year anniversary, and the fundraising, and knowing that the TNT program will take me through it. And none of that has changed. But the “You can’t”s have returned in the last couple of days.

This afternoon on the way home from work and before getting home, I finally broke through. I know I don’t have to let my own internal limitations keep me from enjoying the weekend, and appreciate all the good things that will happen this weekend. It’s like, it was the “You can’t”s last chance. And they’re not going to win this one. And, going full circle on this, the support of everyone reminds me that I can do it and I will enjoy it.

Enough psychobabble. I’ll get in pretty late into San Diego tonight, but will get a good night’s and morning’s sleep tomorrow. They say two nights before the marathon is the time to get lots of good rest, since it’s hard to sleep the actual night before, and marathon day provides a lot of adrenalin and starts very early.

OK, so this wasn’t a shorter message. Will keep you posted.

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Less than one week to go — stomach butterflies, honorees and origami cranes

May 29, 2007 at 6:38 am | Posted in AIG, Doug Booth, honoree, My current training, Reasons why I run, Samuel/Helen Sandoval, TNT | Leave a comment

Wow. Today’s Monday, and the marathon is this Sunday, June 3. I’ll be flying out Friday evening to San Diego. Here’s the website for the marathon, if you’re interested — San Diego Rock N Roll Marathon

I’ll be bringing the camera, and my laptop. I’ll be blogging over the weekend, including after the event. Check back to this blog Sunday and Monday.

As I get closer, the butterflies commence. I have run several miles several times since the Monterey run, and I’ve felt ready…. I can tell I am processing the run/walk in the way that I’ll be able to do it for several hours. I get into that “zone” and stay there. Still, I know what it was like to have some problens on mile 19 in Monterey, and know it will happen again. While ready for it, I can’t help thinking about it.

So a few things keep me going, and let me know I’ll make it.

The first is all of you — the many diverse family, friends, co-workers and others who have honored me by donating for me. I am proud to say that, with the last few donations, and when the matching funds from work is counted, I will have surpassed $6,000 in donations. Thank you to all — you’ve made this all worth it.

Another thing that will keep me going is remembering the honored patients, friends and family I’ve introduced you to will be there (go to the link at their names below their pictures to go to that blog entry) —

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Doug

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Justin

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Samuel and Helen

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Carol

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Martha

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Peggy

and others who have been mentioned privately to me — I’ll remember them all.

Another that will stick with me is remembering an origami crane.

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One person from AIG in the SF office, Mary Hancock, who made a donation also gave me a little goodie bag for the marathon. In it were some sunscreen packets (nifty!) an AIG cap, and an origami crane. The origami crane was also in purple, one of TNT’s colors. (Mary whas been a past participant, having walked the San Diego Rock N Roll marathon a few years ago for TNT.)

We got to talking about the origami crane, and we started talking about he history of it. While origami cranes have been around for centuries, it has a history in the 20th century involving leukemia.

In 1956 a young Japanese girl in 1956 named Sadako Sasaki was running a race and collapsed. Turns out, she had leukemia. As a toddler, she had been in Hiroshima and had been exposed to radiation.

According to a Japanese legend, the crane lives for a thousand years, and a sick person who folds 1,000 origami cranes will become well again. So, in an attempt to find a cure for her leukemia Sadako started on a quest to fold 1,000 of the cranes. While she passed away before getting to 1,000, she is remembered as a symbol of peace, along with the crane itself.

The ironies in this story really struck me. Here’s a young girl who discovered she had leukemia while running, while we run to find a cure for leukemia. Also, she attempted to find a cure for herself through legend, while we attempt to find a cure through funding scientific research.

Here’s hoping that the money we raise for research can help to keep other young girls like Sadako to be able to run later in life and survive leukemia.

I’ll be taking the crane with me on the run.

What I’ve learned from this season — Feeling Alive

May 21, 2007 at 5:20 am | Posted in My current training, TNT | Leave a comment

I’ve learned a lot about myself this season, and from writing this blog. I’m certain that as the days come up to the marathon I’m going to have a number of epiphanies and lessons learned about what I’ve gone through. So, I’m going to start a new category of posts – what I’ve learned from this season. I’ll start with a couple here.

The first is that long distance running, even running very s-l-o-w-l-y as I am, isn’t nearly as hard as it seems daunting before you start. The first 20 minutes is about how you’d imagine – I hate it, it feels terrible, I want to quit. Then, something interesting happens. I get into a rhythm, a pace, both physically and mentally. The breathing isn’t labored; it’s steady and even. I get into a nice stride that is easy and I repeat endlessly. And mentally, all the “I want to quit” impulses end. It doesn’t feel hard and not doable. I can go on like this for hours, literally and figuratively. This was a nice surprise.

But perhaps the biggest, most important lesson I’ve experienced has been on the longer runs, but most especially in Monterey. Like I said previously, it was a very good experience for most of the run, until the last half mile, when I ran out of steam and was sooo ready for the end. All that I said about it not feeling doable ended, and the “I want to quit” stuff came back with a vengeance. Note to self for the marathon: be wary of that milestone.

But prior to that, particularly in the second half, miles 10 or so and beyond, when things were going well, I realized something really great, that I wish I could feel every moment of every day.

It felt so good to be alive at that moment. And I was alive – pushing my body physically to limits it’s never been, feeling the energy of the moment, feeling gratitude for all the people who’ve supported me in my training, being outdoors in easily one of the most beautiful places on the planet, and snapping pictures of it endlessly- here are a few more:

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Perhaps I’ve had these moments before, but in the spiral that is our lives I haven’t appreciate them as I should. I’ve been to those locations before, so it’s not just being at the coast of Monterey. I’ve done athletic things before, but never anywhere near this scale. I’ve appreciated my recovery before, but it’s never been five years out, and I’ve never had the change to almost say “cured.” In Monterey, the perfect storm of opportunity created the chance to feel the full extent of the beauty that life had to offer in that moment.

Very few experiences are like the ones I get when I run long distances, such as in Monterey. I’ve begun to feel it most times I run over an hour or so. It’s a shame everyone can’t experience the feeling of being alive like this. I know that the people in whose honor I run would have loved to have this experience. I have it for them.

We may live each day, but only on very good days do we feel alive. May we feel that way every day.

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TNT training – 20 miles in Monterey…. With lots of photos

May 21, 2007 at 4:56 am | Posted in My current training, TNT | 1 Comment

On Saturday, May 12, we had our biggest and last major run before the Rock N Roll Marathon on June 3. This was 20 miles. Yes, that’s 20.

I was a little worried before the run. I had only run 14 miles as the longest, due to the injuries. I had asked the TNT coach his opinion, and that morning, he said, it would be best if I ran the full 20, if I was feeling well. So I did….

Luckily, the long run is in one of the most beautiful places in the world, starting in Monterey and continuing through Pacific Grove and down the area. We started in Monterey, near Cannery Row and along the water, seeing harbor seals and other animals….

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and down along Monterey Bay to Pacific Grove ….

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Here, you run along paths for several miles through beautiful ice plants along the ocean….

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And I met new friends along the way…..

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(That was a mural on the history of the area along the run….)

For many miles we ran long the beaches past Pacific Grove, with incredible blue water….

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And by Pebble Beach golf course along the water. Green fees for the low low price of several thousand dollars, no doubt….

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It was a truly spectacular run. It really helped to run in this area.

Not that it was all great. I did run six miles more than I had ever run. I was fine, mostly, taking pictures and going along fine, until about mile 19, with about a half mile to go.

I didn’t take any pics at that time. I was sooooo ready for it to end. That last half mile was really tough.

But another great thing about this run – when you finish, you take a dip in the ocean.

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What I’ve learned is, very cold water on the legs help them to recover much more quickly. Professional athletes use ice baths after strenuous workouts all the time. So after this long run, we were encouraged to get into the water – northern California oceans are about 50 degrees, so just a little water is plenty.

Over all though, the last half mile can’t take away how great it was. It was really special.

Those in whose honor I run – other honorees, other patients, other families

May 21, 2007 at 4:27 am | Posted in chemotherapy, honoree, Reasons why I run | 1 Comment

One of my very good friends from many years back with whom I’ve kept up – Susan – told me recently that she was very proud of me for all I’m doing training for a marathon, being a recovering (recovered?) patient. 

I thought that was very odd, for a couple of reasons.  First, Susan herself has done a fundraiser/endurance event for Team in Training – she did the Treasure Island Triathlon in San Francisco in 2002, and at that time I was one of her honored patients in whose honor she ran.  I saw her do it, and have a picture of the two of us just prior to the event.

Susan did an Olympic distance – no small feat herself.  Training for a tri is very demanding, with many days twice daily training events.  I was as much proud of her as she is me now. 

The other reason I always find it odd for people to tell me how proud they are of me for how far I’ve come, is that I still feel like I haven’t gone through anywhere near what other people have gone through, who inspire me.  I’ve already introduced you to two honorees, Doug and Carol.  Another is Travis.

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I’ve known Travis for several TNT seasons.  He was a speaker at a recent honoree event, and it reminded me of what so many other people have gone through – are going through – will go through some day, without better treatments.

While in high school, Travis had a form of leukemia.  He underwent chemotherapy, and went into remission.  About 4 ½ years later, he relapsed.  This time he had to have both radiation and a bone marrow transplant, after being lucky enough to find a bone marrow donor.  The BMT required SIX MONTHS straight in isolation.  He mentions that he had vomiting over 40 straight days while there. 

But he made it to remission, and currently has no evidence of the disease himself.  He has gotten married, and leads a healthy full life.  He’s been both an honoree and a participant for TNT for several seasons. 

Travis is a reminder of me of just one of the countless examples – ones whose stories we may not have heard – of people who have struggles that go beyond what we can comprehend.  And right now, there are people in hospitals all around the country – Stanford, UCSF, MD Anderson, everywhere – who are going through similar or worse.  I run in honor of all of them as well.  The patients of all ages, parents, spouses, children, grandchildren, friends – all of whom struggle with this. 

I used to feel like my story wasn’t as good as others, that other people have struggled more than me, and perhaps with the good outcome I had (no radiation, no BMT) that I wasn’t as meaningful a story as others. 

 Then I realized it – my story is a good story for participants to hear:  my story symbolizes the hope that new treatments can change deadly diseases to ones with positive outcomes, that allow for cures.  We need more stories like mine, and research that TNT funds can help make those happen.  So I don’t feel as undeserving to be an honoree anymore. 

Training update, 5-1-07: I’m now crazy, so I must be ready to run a marathon…..

May 3, 2007 at 4:47 am | Posted in My current training | 3 Comments

On Saturday 4/30 we had our next long coached run, again in Portola Valley, the place from a few weeks ago with the killer hills, which I talked about here.  I did 14 miles, the furthest I’ve gone so far. 

I wish I had good things to say about this run, other than I made it.  Since it was the same route I did before, I didn’t take any new pictures — you can see what it looked like at that previous post. I did have my pic taken this time by the Team in Training photographer. It’s below.

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I actually look MUCH better in the picture than I felt at that time. That was about mile 13, after all the hills. It’s a brutal trail. It has some stretches of very very steep uphill, followed by some flat trails, then often a steep downhill. That’s like getting on a Stairmaster, putting it on 14 of 15, running until you can’t breathe, THEN trying to run on a treadmill. Very tough.

And the downhill was another matter altogether. As you can tell from the pic, I have very little in common with the typical 140 lb. Kenyan who wins marathons. Running downhill is tough on anyone’s knees, but especially if, like me, you weigh two hundred and xxxx-ty pounds. That’s a lot of pressure. So, if it was a fairly steep downhill, I would walk down the hill.

So I would try to run uphill, might make it all the way, then try to run a bit on the straightaway, stop if my lungs had given out, and then walking downhill. As you might guess, it was a very slow run, for me. Let’s just say, in the parlance of marathoning, that I almost had a Boston Marathon qualifying time (3 hours 21 minutes for my age) for the half marathon mileage, or 13.1 miles. But, it was more important to save the knees and get the benefit rather than make a quick time. The coach said that running 14 miles on these hills has the training benefit of many more miles that were flat, so it was good experience.

And perhaps more importantly, it hit me over the weekend – there’s just under five weeks left before my event on June 3. At first contemplating this I had a bit of flop sweat – am I really doing this? Can I do this? Have I trained enough? Should I do more miles than what’s being recommended?

The coach in an email reminded me what I already knew – I can do this, the program has me in good shape, and I’m already running better than I already have. Proof of that came Monday, 5/1 – I ran out by the Embarcadero near my office in San Francisco, along the bay by the Oakland – East Bay Bridge and Treasure Island, for about five and a half miles, in about 70 minutes. A great run, beautiful. I considered it a short easy run. Get this – I now think running for more than an hour is a short easy run. I must be crazy. Therefore, I’m ready to run a marathon.

Training update, 4-25-07: Doing the “Rocky” thing in Philadelphia

May 1, 2007 at 5:46 am | Posted in My current training | Leave a comment

One of the things that’s been fun about this training season, and having a busy travel schedule for work, is to be able to run in a lot of great locations around the country.

This week I was in Philadelphia for work. But I was able to keep up with my training schedule. I didn’t get pictures of the runs themselves, but I did run by the museum where “Rocky” ran up the steps. (I know I could have never did what Rocky did — when he celebrated at the top of the stairs, it was after about 50 steps up to the top. I wouldn’t be celebrating; I’d be passing out from a lack of oxygen from running stairs. Yowzah!)

But it was a great run — if you know anything about the city, I ran along the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, past the museum area, and along that river running along the eastern side of downtown. It’s a beautiful area. I was much, much more impressed with Philadelphia than I thought I would be. It’s a very old, historic city, with a compact downtown and neighborhoods that were walkable and full of great architecture and history. (Having grown up outside of Dallas, and knowning nothing about Philadelphia except that Eagles fans throw snowballs with rocks in them at the Cowboys when they played there, I had difficulty with the concept of Philadelphia being the “City of Brotherly Love” — if they throw rocks at people they “love”, what do they do to people they hate? But I was charmed by the city. And no one threw rocks at me, although I didn’t advertise I was a long time Cowboy fan. I’m not stupid.)

Here are some pics — Philadelphia City Hall, with its great architecture; a view of City Hall from Kennedy Plaza, with cherry blossoms and tulips in bloom; the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall (and one with me in it, to prove I was really there).

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I really liked Philadelphia.

Training update 4-22-09: Shin splints, the flu…

April 24, 2007 at 7:09 am | Posted in My current training | Leave a comment

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.

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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.

Training update, 4-11-07: Running in snow flurries — on Easter in NYC

April 12, 2007 at 4:17 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

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.

Training update, 4-1: Eleven miles uphill is “character building”, they say

April 12, 2007 at 4:02 am | Posted in My current training, TNT | 1 Comment

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.

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Then we got to a turning point for the 10-12 mile trail. Note the soon to be ironic smiley face.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Finally, at the end the last couple of miles were relatively flat, with only a few minor hills.

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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.

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Of course, when the bluebonnets are in bloom in the spring in Texas the weather is stormy with tornadoes, so there’s a trade-off.

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.

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