Category Archives: health

McNaughton 10 II

Last April I told you about running the McNaughton 10 while my friend, Ryan Dexter, ran the 150-mile race. Once again this year, I went down to Pekin, Illinois, and ran 10 miles with Ryan.

I left at 6 AM and once again listen to for hours of podcasts from my iPod. However, this year I drove south with the aid of Bruce, the Garmen GPS that Josh and I bought ourselves for Christmas. last year I got a little lost and needed to call Josh to get assistance through Google maps so that I could find my way.

Bruce has been one of the best purchases I’ve ever been involved with. It made the drive very stress-free and really enjoyable. I rarely get or make the time to listen to podcasts, so four hours of Grammar Girl, the Get It Done Guy, and Modern Manners Guy was like a four-hour slice of heaven.A week before the race I was a bit concerned that the weather was going to be as bad as it was last year. I wasn’t looking forward to another day of running and standing around in cold, rain, and generally miserable conditions. I was quite happy that the forecast changed: when I arrived it was sunny and in the 50s. While there had been some serious rain at the beginning of the 150-mile race, the sun had dried up most of the mud, so that, for the most part, the run was on solid ground.

Last year I also made a promise to Ryan and that I would run with him anytime he ran 120 miles first. I made even better on that promise, as I ran with him after he ran only 110 miles. I ran the first half of the eleventh 10-mile lap. The terrain was just as I remembered it, complete with the creek and river crossings. At the halfway point, someone took my place and I took the truck back to the starting point.

Ryan’s wife, Christina, their boys, and Christina’s mother came during the afternoon, bringing hot chocolate with them. This was a big boost for Ryan&mdsash;he really enjoyed seeing them.

Later in the afternoon I ran the last half of the 14th lap. Randy ran in front, and I ran behind Ryan, being the voice and is ear. After the first couple of laps, Ryan always had someone running with him, to help motivate and keep him focused. We got back to the starting point not a moment too soon, as it was getting pretty dark by that time.

Dema ran the last lap with Ryan and, understandably, it was the slowest lap of the race for him. Even with this, however, Ryan set a record of having no lap of the race being more than 2 hours 45 minutes.

Christina arrived a while before the race ended, and Ryan finished his race in great style: through the dark we could see five bobbing lights heading toward the finish line—four of the guys finish the race with him. Andy, the organizer, announced Ryan’s finish and there was much applause and encouragement.

We took a few pictures, then I said my goodbyes and took off after 11 PM. Luckily, I had taken a short nap during the last half of the last lap, so I was awake enough for the ride home. And, while Bruce did an equally fantastic job on the ride down, I was a little tired and a bit absorbed with the New York Times fiction stories on my iPod, so that I missed the turn to 39 N. and instead headed toward Chicago. While I was frustrated with my mistake, I was very happy to have Bruce guiding my way. While he took me somewhere where I’ve never been before, and attempted to get me to do a U-turn where there was a median, he eventually got me back on the right road, adding only 15 minutes my trip. I was impressed.

I got home at about quarter after 3 AM on Sunday morning. My bed felt wonderful, and in the morning I discovered that even after not enough sleep my body felt okay, especially my left knee, which had hurt the most after running. I’ve been quite happy that I wasn’t in as rough shape as I was last year. I hadn’t been planning on running the Madison have marathon this year, but if my knee gets back to normal quickly I just may reconsider.

Ryan won the 150-mile race by more than six hours. Not only that, if he had stopped at 100 miles, he would have won that race by two hours. Big congratulations to Ryan!

Recovery Day 4/First Successful Living Seminar

Well, I said I was going to run the next morning in my last post, and I didn’t. I ran this morning instead. We just opened New Self Renewal Center in our building, which is a gym, café and spa with great childcare that caters primarily to moms. Happily, employees get free memberships, so I hopped on one of the treadmills, which is the nicest I’ve ever had my flat feet on.

I ran two miles (1.9, actually) and my calf started hurting, so I went right to cool down. The last thing I need to do is keep aggravating that injury. I think it’s time to lay off the running and do some cross-training. I don’t know if biking will activate it as well–I’d think it would. I’ll give it a shot. It’s about time I did some upper body work anyway. (Why is it that all the stuff I love to do builds legs?) I should also get an appointment at Sports Medicine and see how they can help me.

Tonight was the first night of the Successful Living Seminar series, which Karen and I led at New Self. There were about a dozen people there, and it was great fun. We had some great discussion–very thought provoking. It was the first time we taught this course in a 1.5-hour format–it normally last 2.5 or 3 hours. While I don’t always enjoy that kind of compression, given that it’s a free introductory course, I didn’t want to make it too long for people.

Shameless plug: if you are interested in taking part in the upcoming sessions, please do sign up!

I had a sad phone call on the way home, and I’m feeling a bit sad right now. I hope I can help.

Anyway, it’s time for bed.

Recovery Day 2

I’m amazed at how great my body feels today (well, in comparison). My IT Band and calf don’t hurt one iota. And, as expected, today the lactic acid is in my quads. I’ll go on an easy jog in the morning to work that through.

I convinced my coworker friend Ryan to start his own blog. I set it up for him in two minutes. After he starts blogging, I’ll put a link to him in here.

It was fun talking to people at work today about the half-marathon. I appreciated everyone’s atta-boys and support. I feel even more inspired to do it again. I really want to run another half with these leg injuries gone so that I find out what my next limitation is–is it mind? breathe? energy? I’d also like to get higher than the 13th percentile. : )

Speaking of the 13th percentile, unless I’M misunderstanding it, every time I say I’m at the 13th percentile I’m surprised when people say how impressive that is. I then state, “no, the bottom 13th percentile,” and crack up at their response.

Today I was curious where my blog was appearing, so I did a search. I have about 5 seconds of fame by appearing on the Daily Page of our local free, weekly newspaper! Search for “Jay” when you get there. I have no idea how this page gets its content, and I’m tickled they found me.

I was less hungry today, and not quite back to normal. I think I will be by tomorrow. In a few minutes, ibuprofen and bed.

I’m really enjoying perusing others’ blog entries. Collin turned me on to searching for blogs. I’ve been using searches like this one:

What fun!

Recovery Day 1

My legs were pretty trashed after the race yesterday. I dropped Josh off at his house and took some ibuprofen there, then stopped at Home Depot to pick up some stuff for my house. I was walking with a pretty pronounced limp, such that upon entering I heard a little girl say, “Why is he walking that way, Mommy?” I didn’t hear what Mommy said, although a suitable answer may have been, “oh, he’s simply one of those insane runners, honey.”

With my mathematically-oriented brain I tend to think in terms of efficiency of my path, and that was cranked even higher during this trip: I needed to get paint from aisle 3, woodwork from 8, a vent from 6… I didn’t want to waste a single step in the store. I found using the cart helped a lot. Oh God: is this what using a walker is like? Ulp.

While I have often cursed the hot tub I have as being a financial albatross and general pain in the hinder, it was a true blessing. I sat at my computer and iced my left knee for a while, then limped into the spa. I sat in there, dozing actually, for probably 30 minutes. When I got out, I could walk normally! Somebody give me an AMEN! That told me that much of the pain I was experiencing was from tight muscles, so my strategy now is ibuprofen, ice on the joint (lower inflammation) and BenGay on the muscles. Oh, and stretching–always the stretching…

This morning I mowed the lawn, which didn’t feel good: pushing the mower up the hill was hell on the left calf. However, it was necessary, lest I get ‘kicked off the island’ of my neighborhood for not keeping my lawn up. I often hear their drums at night; I better start behaving.

Since the race I have been CONSTANTLY HUNGRY. I ate and ate yesterday, and today I was still hungry, even though my head told me I’d eaten plenty of food earlier and shouldn’t be hungry yet. I’m guessing it’s a result of the race. Josh and I went to his brother’s house to spend time with Josh’s family. Brats, potato salad, brownies and ice cream floats. I finally stuffed myself to the point where I think I’ve reached stasis once again.

Later in the day I was able to walk pretty normally. The speed of recovery is pretty amazing to me, and I’m not going to push it by running this week. We’ll see how I feel on the infamous second day after–tomorrow.

Success at Madison Half-Marathon!

All set for the raceFor about six weeks I’ve been sharing information about running and my plans to do the Madison Half-Marathon. I first decided to do it after running with Ryan at the McNaughton run. Today is the day, and not only did I survive–I did pretty well!

I’ve been struggling with some injuries from over-training in my left leg involving my IT Band and Posterior Shin Splints. As a result of them, I’ve done basically no running for the past two weeks with the exception of 20 minutes this past Monday. I was pretty nervous (just ask Josh) about what was going to happen when running 13.1 miles, which, by the way, is the furthest I’ve ever run in my life. Even in training I only got up to 9 miles in the Dells.

I picked up my race packet yesterday at the Alliant Energy Center and perused the products offered by the merchants at the trade show going on there, although I didn’t buy anything because I have set a near-moratorium on spending unnecessary money while working on the house.

I lined everything up last night and felt nervous like a kid before his first day of school. Do I have what I need?

I didn’t sleep very well—I was awake and a little anxious between 3 and 4:30 I think. I also woke up in a sweat.

I did some research about what to eat the morning of a race, and opted for my normal routine: protein shake smoothie with fruit and fiber.

Josh and I got to the Alliant Energy Center (where the race ends) to park by 6:15, and were on a shuttle to the Capital Square (where the start was) in a few minute. A really well-run event! Josh was going to carry the backpack with stuff in it, and take my last warmie from me before the race started. I stretched and we waited in line at the porta-potties. LONG LINES, and I made it just in time for the start of the race.

You can see my playful-nervous face at right when they shot the gun for our race. OK, so maybe I wasn’t completely being playful. ;o)

My strategy was to shoot for 5.5 or 6 mph during the race while I ran, and to do cycles of running 20 minutes and walking 5. If I was going to make it through the race, I was going to have to be reasonable and give my body a break from time to time, or my leg wouldn’t allow me to finish. There were several groups of pace setters whose job it was to do just that–set the pace. One carried a sign with the total goal time and goal time for each mile. I stuck with the 2:20-total group (I think it was 11:47/mile time).

I had a little shock after running about a half mile when I realized in the excitement I’d forgotten to put an ace bandage on my left calf to support the shin splints! Oh well, too late to do anything about it. I focused a great deal on my body, ensuring I was running with a good, smooth form. After about 2 miles I walked for 4 minutes (it felt like enough), and then walked mainly on uphills only. My breathing and energy levels were great. My left IT Band began to tighten up after a few miles, and I just stayed as relaxed as possible. It was OK.

The run was really fun. It reminded me of doing the Devil’s Lake Sprint Triathlon with Rachel and Adam in 2002 (I think). I had a dumb smile on my face most of the time. I am so used to running alone with just my iPod that it was a lot of fun to be surrounded by a bunch of people! Also, the folks along the way who cheered for runners were really great. Since they put our names on our race numbers, people often called specific encouragements, “Way to go, Jay!” which felt really fantastic.

After we got to University Avenue, my leg was getting tighter and I walked again. It was at this point that I realized it was more painful to run up hills. I ran up Monroe Street very carefully (I couldn’t walk all that way–too much time), and downhills were much more pleasant.

There were police officers along the entire route to direct traffic (or stop it, primarily) and ensure we were safe. I had a lot of gratitude for them.

As I got to mile 10 things were getting more painful. I had to stop at one point to tie my shoe, and starting was a bit difficult. So I decided to not stop again–logical, right? : ) At mile 11 I realized that my ‘tank’ was beginning to feel a bit empty, so I pulled out the Gu (energy stuff) that I got at the Mile 6 aid station, and ate it. Mmmmm–chocolate! That helped.

Sometime around Mile 11 or 12 the pain in my lower calf started to hint at me, and my focus on my form and body were critical at this point. It was at this point I discovered I could not run up hill–it was too painful. I decided once I got to Mile 12 to pick up the pace and end strong. I hadn’t saved very much during the race in terms of total running ability. Had my legs been in good shape I could have run faster. So I picked it up for the last mile.

As I got nearer to the finish my excitement was building. I could hear the music, and the cheering increased. And then I saw the finish line. I picked up the pace again grace a the adrenaline coursing through my body. It was a pretty moving experience. For so many years I’d said that I “hated running” and didn’t consider myself a runner. I was now completing 13.1 miles, which, again, is the longest distance I’d ever gone. It felt great to break through a barrier of limiting belief. I’m going to call myself a “runner” even if I don’t feel it completely. I think running a Half-Marathon allows me to qualify for the descriptor.

I crossed the finish line ensuring I stepped on the mat so that the sensor on my shoe registered! I was done. I got in line to have the chip taken off my shoe, then started looking for Josh. I couldn’t find him, yet found Brian, a fellow I’d met at Friday Night Dinner two nights ago. I walked right up to him and said hi, and had to remind him who I was. : ) I asked to borrow his phone, and called Josh. He was just on the other side of the exit. I went out and he gave me a big hug and just held me for a minute. It felt very good. I then went back into the finish area and grabbed some food, and saw Brook and Libby, who ran the 10k. I came back and ate with Josh, then Ryan finished his race. Josh took a couple pictures of us talking.

I’m impressed that when I got home, the results were already online! Here’s how I did (full results):

bib number: 3575
age: 41
gender: M
location: Madison, WI
overall place: 2201 out of 2866 (23rd percentile)
division place: 140 out of 161 (13th percentile)
gender place: 1076 out of 1238 (13th percentile)
time: 2:20:17
pace: 10:35 (5.67 mph)
mile 6: 1:03:59
mile 8.5: 1:30:40
chip time: 2:18:42

Are the times fantastic? Nope. And while I tend to be perfectionist about many things, that doesn’t matter to me. My only goal was to finish, and that I did. I would have been happy had I averaged 5 mph, so for a first crack at it, I’m very pleased. Any race/run I do next I will be in better condition with no injuries, and can then find out the next limiting factor to work on.

Josh has been so wonderfully supporting through this whole thing, and especially today by getting up earlier, playing the roles of pack mule, boyfriend support and photographer. I also appreciate the support of many others in my life as I’ve shared the ups and downs of my training and challenges with my leg. I’m very grateful for all of this, and after I take a break and recover, I look forward to taking it easy and running for fun, both alone and with groups…

…until I decide whether I’ll be doing another Half, or a full Marathon next.

See all 10 pictures in my Picasa Web Album

Training Status–Will I Make It?

It’s rather ironic that even though I ran track and cross country in high school, I’ve always said, “I hate running.” A couple years ago when Rachel, Adam and I did the Devil’s Lake Sprint Triathlon, I found a great pair of shoes and insoles that really helped my flat feet. Indeed, my feet no longer hurt! My chiropractor also fixed the misalignment in my lower back that gave me so much pain.

Over the past few months of running, I’ve really taken to it. I now say, “I love running!” When I ran my “McNaughton 10” during Ryan’s race, I decided to do the Madison Half-Marathon. I’ve been training for it pretty seriously, and losing weight as a benefit. I’m 6 or 7 pounds lighter than I started; given the muscle I’ve been putting primarily on my legs, that’s pretty good!

However, being the all-or-nothing guy that I tend to be (well, not always ;-] ), I’ve been overdoing it. The 9-miler I ran a few weeks ago in the Dells went very well. A bit after that, my left IT band started acting up, causing pain in my knee and some in my hip. This past Saturday I was scheduled to run 10-12 miles. I mapped out a 3-mile loop near my house and set out. The first three miles my legs ached, yet by the end that worked out. Miles 3-6 my IT band started tightening up, and I kept that in check. Starting at mile 6 I started feeling a pain at the bottom of my left calf. What the heck is THAT? It got worse and worse, and by the end of 9 miles I had to stop–the pain was too much. Well, to be precise, I could have kept going, and I knew I’d be doing damage, so for once I found a brain in my head and didn’t run through the pain.

Ryan suggested it was Achilles tendon problems. However, upon researching it I discovered it was Posterior Shin Splints. Huh? Shin splints on the BACK of the leg? Yup. My calf is stronger than the muscles on the front, and the differential is causing problems.

I’ve been using the vibrating massager on it and taking ibuprofen. Yesterday I saw my chiropractor, and he suggested wrapping it and some exercises (toe lifts) to strengthen the front of my legs to balance out the strength.

This morning I went on a 3-mile run. I walked several times when my left leg hurt in general. the wrap definitely helped. Even with the walking, I still ran 6.22 mph! I guess that’s my preferred pace, since it’s so predictable when I’m not tracking it in any way.

I’m concerned about my being able to run 13.1 miles in a week and a half. I think I’ll mostly take it easy until then with just a few short runs. I’ve already decided that for the race I’ll do cycles of running 20 minutes and walking 5. That should help my legs stay in ok shape, and I should complete the race in 6 or 7 cycles.

Off to shower and work.

And Here’s the Half Marathon Route!

I’m totally jazzed about! I just mapped the route of the Half Marathon as best I could. Here it is:

So now I just gotta keep up with the training! Speaking of which, take a look at my training calendar.

Yee ha!

Last Night’s Run

I had a great run last night, which was very welcomed given how much my body hurt on Sunday! My coworker, Libby, turned me on to MapMyRun, which is an AMAZING Site! Here’s the map of my workout last night:

I’m super-excited to have this tool to track my training progress! I was using a Google Spreadsheet; this will be even more useful.

McNaughton 10

This past Friday and Saturday my coworker friend, Ryan, ran in the 150-mile McNaughton Park Trail Run in Pekin, IL. Some might think Ryan is a bit nuts, and in this regard I probably wouldn’t give much of an argument.

Anyway, months ago he asked if I’d support him in the race. Last year was the first year he ran it, and he had a full crew of folks from work and others come to make sure he had plenty of fluids and solids going in and out of his body, as well as to “pace” him (which means to run along).

I had planned to go down for both days, and with the level that my life showed on the insaninometer, I just couldn’t swing both days, so I told Ryan I’d come down on Saturday and possibly run with him (what the hell was I getting myself into!).

I set off at 7 am and had a great, solitary drive down, with the exception of missing the jog on US 39 and needing to call Josh to get new directions–which he sent to my phone as a text message. Parenthetically, I’ve decided that was the LAST TIME I’m ever going to deal with that: I’m buying a Garmin or TomTom or something. Life is to freaking short to spend time and energy getting lost and following maps. Bah.

I listened to a number of podcasts on the way down, which is a real treat, since I rarely have (OK, take) time to do that. I listened to Grammar Girl for about two of the four hours on the way down. Love it! It had been so long since I’d had a nice, long drive to myself. I’m realizing I’m a bit more introverted than perhaps I thought I was.

OK, OK, I’ll get on with the story. I arrived around 11:30 or Noon and looked for anyone I’d recognize. Uh, I didn’t recognize anyone. Eventually Ryan ran through, and I believe Mike was just finishing a 10-mile loop with him (this must have been mile 110). Several of Ryan’s friends and coworkers, as well as associates from WTCA and other athletes were there to support him. I brought my gear down, and by God I was going to use it. I guess… I got dressed and did little warm-up, and Ryan was on his way in! He didn’t stop, and Steve, John and I started the next loop with him–this was at mile 120.

Let me back up for a moment and describe the day. Cold. Rainy. Windy. Some might say miserable, and I would be in their numbers. Before getting ready to run I’d had all of my clothes on that I’d brought. I paid the folks $10 to eat some food; they did a pretty good job of it. It was a relief to start running and warm up!

The loop started with a downhill mud ski. I’m not really exaggerating. There were three different races going on at this point: the 50-, 100-, and 150-mile–that was a lot of footfalls on the soggy ground! I don’t think Steve and John expected much, as they remarked that I was nimbler than they anticipated. It’s nice to surprise people. They’re both runners. Well, more serious than I, anyway.

We were probably running 5 mph, which is a comfortable pace for me. John and I ran out front for a good part of the lap while Steve stayed back with Ryan. There are several way stations along the way, which was good since I’d not drunk enough fluid before starting.

I would estimate that MOST of the route is NOT on flat land: most of it is going through very hilly woods. As we approached one downhill, it occurred to me that it didn’t look as much like a trail as it did an object d’art: the ground was complete mud, and there were long trails of feet sliding in it. It reminded me of a clay sculpture, or perhaps an oil painting with really think swaths of oil painted on the canvas. It was actually quite beautiful… to look at anyway; a moment later I attempted to run or walk or at least not fall in it. I did fall once, although I caught myself so didn’t get too much dirty. However, the shoes were getting completely muddified.

We were all falling down. Steve fell right on his rear end at one point; luckily he didn’t hurt himself. Ryan fell down eight times in my time with him. At about mile 8 he fell on a grassy, muddy hill and just lay there for a moment. Finally he said quite simply, and perhaps a bit weakly, “That hurt.” Ryan’s not very flower in general, and his straight-talking is more pronounced after he’s run several tens of miles.

At some points the trail was simply wild: steep hills (there was actually a rope tied to a tree at one point!), logs over ravines and little streams, and even some fairly well-made footbridges.

The sheer ten miles was weighing on me; add in the terrain and it was pretty grueling, actually. I’ve been running for a couple months: 3x/week, about 4-5 miles each at 5.5 to 6.5 mph. On a treadmill I don’t have to pay much attention to all the stabilizing muscles in the legs, and especially around the knees and ankles. That was MOST of the concentration during this lap! I became reacquainted with some muscles that I hadn’t had good conversation or lunch with in a while.

Oh, I haven’t yet mentioned the river that needed to be crossed. Twice. The first time was, oh, around mile 4 or so. While it was cold it was actually fairly refreshing on the feet. It was only about two feet deep, and my shoes were comfortably dry within about half a mile or a mile. We crossed a much deeper stretch of water at about mile 9 or so. That was too late in the game to allow me to dry off before finishing the lap.

Mile 7

I would estimate that at about mile 7 or 8 I was in as much pain as Ryan. Maybe not as much fatigue (he’d started running Friday at noon and this lap was 3:30 to 6 pm Saturday), but he’s in much better shape than I–I was really give my body a pounding at this point.

About the last five miles I ran behind Ryan while Steve and John ran 100 yards or so ahead. I had several things to focus on: keeping my body relaxed with good form so it would continue to function, not running into Ryan (oh that would have been bad), being careful where I step to not twist anything, and supporting Ryan. A lot of it was small talk, some questions and talk about the race itself, and from time to time I would discuss things having nothing to do with the present moment, just to give us both a mental break. I also gave him plenty of encouragement, as during this lap he was in third place, and he was focusing on catching up to second. I noticed he was touching is right leg, and when I asked he informed me it was getting tighter and tighter (Hm. I work on my own IT bands…). So I had him imagine it relaxing.

Mile 9

After we crossed the last river around mile 9 I was beginning to have difficulty keeping up with Ryan. I was afraid I was going to pay for this later. There was a funny (or something) little moment when I was on my way up a hill in deep mud when I almost lost my shoe–I caught it just in time, although I did have to stop and retie it, then catch up to Ryan. Luckily, we walked up all of the steep hills; otherwise I wouldn’t have been able to do it.

I also encouraged Ryan to keep up a good pace, and I could feel it every time he accelerated. I told him that I promised I’d run with him… every time he’d run 120 miles first. That makes us fairly evenly matched for a while. Am I really this old?

I don’t dare make myself sound heroic in this blog, since I was running 1/15th the distance of Ryan, yet in my condition I will say I was getting to the point of running on sheer guts and determination. My legs hurt and I was running out of gas. I told Ryan in the last mile that I was going to leave after this lap. I didn’t see much sense in staying since there was no way in HELL I would going to be able to do more running (or even walking), and cheering him on for 5 seconds between laps made no sense. He was also scheduled to finish around 11 or later, and it just didn’t make sense. He was OK with that.

On the way up the last hill before the straightaway to the finish I told him to go get #2 and have a great race. When we high the straightaway he put on a burst of speed as two things happened, I think: he saw the finish line (for that lap) and all the folks there, and he also saw #2 ahead of him. I forget the guys name, but he looked like he was having difficulty. At this point, I was done. Perhaps I could have gone for some adrenaline and kept up with Ryan, but there was really no point, and I would have been damaging my body worse that I already had. So I finished the last hundred yards and crossed the finish line outside the actual finish area, which I believe was customary.

Completion of the McNaughton 10

It didn’t seem all that significant at the time, and I realized later that I think that was probably the longest I’d ever run. I can’t remember if we ever ran 10 miles in a cross country practice when I was in high school. Hey–I’d just run 10 miles! That’s a pretty good accomplishment!

I think Ryan stopped and got some food and drink, and Randy had his headlamp on in preparation for the oncoming darkness. Ryan changed some clothes and off they went.

I went for food and sat by the fire. My pants were still wet, as were my feet, and I had no intention of being any more uncomfortable than I already was. I sat next to a young fellow who wasn’t wearing much considering the conditions, and was shaking. I asked how he was doing, and he said OK: just having a hard time with his core temperature. He’d finished the 50-miler earlier. I got him some soup; I was concerned that he was headed toward hypothermia. Sure enough, a few minutes later the shaking became more pronounced. I got a blanket and put it around him, talking to him (to ensure he was lucid). He stopped shaking after a while. I consider that my second good deed for the day.

I hadn’t taken many pictures, and left the camera with instructions with Mike, so that he could take pictures later. I changed into dry clothes (oh my, how nice!), had a bit more food (hey, I can eat whatever the hell I WANT after that!), got in my car and left. I ran Ryan’s miles 120-130, and he had 20 miles left. We discussed that while we were running, and we decided that he could do anything two more times.

At Mike’s suggestion I stopped after driving about 30 minutes to go to the bathroom and stretch. The only problem was it was cold in the rest stop–what’s the point of stretching in the cold? None. So I got in the car and drove on.

I listened to four hours of Grammar Girl. I guess I’m a huge grammar geek, yet I loved it! I did stop once to get gas, and just drove. I love driving at night. It’s so nice to have the solitary time and not be able to do anything else–as though I need an excuse to relax. However, something about that setting allows my mind to truly relax.

I got out of the car when I got home around 10:30 and could barely walk. It was painful–especially my left knee and hip. Josh came over and we sat in the hot tub for a while (something is wrong with the pump–sigh) and went to bed.

Epilogue: Half-Marathon Anyone?

I was in fairly serious pain, although Advil helped a lot. I felt much better pretty quickly, and was giving something a great deal of thought: If I can run in that **** for 10 miles, a half-marathon (13.1 miles) on flat road would be a piece of cake! So I signed up for the Madison Half Marathon on 5/25, the Sunday before Memorial Day. My coworker Libby and her two friends (who are also friends of Josh’s) are also going to be running it. Josh will be at the finish taking pictures. Oh, and I believe the race registration was the first time I listed him as my emergency contact. 🙂

I found a training schedule for half-marathons, and while I’m starting too late, I’ve created yet another Google calendar (I now have 10 that I’ve created, along with the 10 I have included) in which I’ve placed the training schedule. Hell, even if I didn’t do anything beyond the running I’m already doing, I’m sure I’d be fine. However, I’m excited about this endeavor! I’m sure I’ll be blogging more about it, so stay tuned.

As always, comments are appreciated.

We did it! – and – a trip to the vet hospital


Saturday I worked for a few hours from home and ran a bunch of errands – getting new bike innertubes and other stuff for the triathlon, and getting some things for home.

At 5 Rachel and I went to Christina’s birthday party at Biaggi’s, with Ryan and Christina’s family. Let’s just say it was “very interesting”. After that Rachel I went to Bed, Bath & Beyond where I got more stuff for the house that I’ve been needing for a while.

I got home around 9 or so and sat down to put the new innertubes in my bike. While I had asked for 700x35C at the bike store, I was sold 700x28C – I hadn’t even checked. Big difference. I put the original tube back in my front wheel, frustrated. I did a bunch of prep stuff for the triathlon today and was in bed by 10:30.

Race Day!

My alarm went off at 5:10 this morning. Ugh – not enough sleep. I got up and had breakfast, then gave Butterscotch more Doxycycline. Boy he hates it. I’ve never seen a cat try to drool something out before.

Rachel picked me up and we took off from my place at 5:45. It was a nice drive to Devil’s Lake; the road was pretty deserted. We arrived at the lake and registration was already in full gear. We got our bike and equipment to our respective racks in the transition area and registered, getting our numbers pinned to our suits, and having our heat numbers written on our left calves in permanent marker. Adam was heat 2 (20-29 year old men), I was in heat 4 (35-49 men) and Rachel was in heat 9 (30-34 women). We also had ‘chips’ put on our ankles. These are some sort of fob that’s attached to an ankle bracelet – the timing is completely run by computer, and times are measured when the chip goes over a mat with sensors.

Found Adam and talked to Connor, his boss, for a bit. We swam just a bit to get used to the water before we went to the starting area.

And there off! The start was pretty exciting for me, with this being my first triathlon. Per instructions, I stayed near the back of the pack since I wasn’t a fast swimmer. There were three guys in my heat, including me, who stayed about the same all the way through the 1/4-mile swim. It wasn’t beautiful swimming for me – I must have been so excited I couldn’t get an even breath, so I did a lot of breast stroke and a fair amount of kicking on my back. Most of the heat 5 guys passed me, as well as the heat 6 guys… I kept reminding myself that I wasn’t going to spaz about that. I kept hearing this one word from the DVD Rachel and I used to improve our swimming: “struggler”, as said by the narrator. However, since she was Australian, it sounded more like “strugglah”. “Are you a strugglah?”, she asks in the DVD. Well, I was being a strugglah, although I wasn’t struggling about it.

Eleven minutes and 51 seconds after the gun went off for my heat, I emerged from the water, raring to get on my bike. Since I was timing with my heart rate monitor watch, I decided to get the times of each event and my transitions (To see the official times on the Wisconsin Tri Series site, click here). 2:10 after getting out of the water, I had gotten ready and was leaving the transition area on my bike. 50 yards after starting to ride, one of my new water bottles, filled with water, fell out of the wire rack. I decided I couldn’t be bothered, since I still had the gatorade bottle. Two girls helping squealed in delight, fighting over who got to keep it. *sigh* I would had to have stopped if it were my only bottle.

The bike is definitely my best event. I’m certainly stronger in it than running or swimming. And since Rachel, Adam and I had come up three times to practice the course, I felt very prepared.

Immediately upon exiting the park, I turned right, and went uphill about 1.2 miles. I again insisted I relax as people pass me, despite whatever number was on their calf. I considered how some were going to pass me and I was going to pass some – it would all work out, and decided that I really needed to set my own pace and not kill myself. I used my heart rate monitor to ensure that my rate didn’t get too much over 160 bpm. The nice thing about the hills is that it doesn’t make any difference what kind of bike you ride as you go uphill – I passed plenty of guys who looked fit and were on racing bikes. Of course, their advantage was on the flat and downhill.

I had a lot of fun interacting with people during the ride – short conversations, joking around, etc. During a lot of the ride I had a silly grin plastered on my face, because I was really having FUN! It was definitely more entertaining to have all these people around me after practicing several times up there with almost no one around, and being passed by cars.

There was this one younger guy – must have been in his early 20’s – with whom I kept playing tag; he’d pass me, I’d pass him. I finally suggested to him that it was going to be him and me doing this the whole time. He laughed.

One thing that was very nice compared to the practices was that we didn’t go as far on the first road before turning around, thereby avoiding a large downhill/uphill. I knew in our practices that the distance was too long – it measured about 15.6 miles. The map on the site wasn’t very clear; later Adam, Rachel and I discussed how glad we were for the change!

Following Connor’s instructions, I ate some Gu at about mile 6. Gu is a concentrated sugar/carb used to boost energy during races. During practices I always crapped out during the run, so I thought I’d try it. As entreated on the package, I didn’t litter. <g>

Finally came the last uphill to the park entrance. I was becoming fairly spent from the bike ride, and concentrated on the latter part of the ride on using my calves/hamstrings to save my quads for the run. It was a great feeling finishing that last hill and riding the long downhill into the park. I beat my ‘icing on the cake’ goal of 1 hour on the bike! I did it in 54:11 – average speed of 16.6 mph! Much better than the 14.4 during practice. It pays to have others to ride with!

Once again to the transition area. I forgot to hit my watch right when entering it – the WI Tri Series site said 1:40 to change shoes and get running.

Once again, running is not my best event. However, I am certainly in better running shape then I was for the 10k on July 4. I again concentrated on setting my own pace. The running course was different than what we had practiced because, once again, the instructions on the site weren’t very clear. We left the park and ran to the Quartzite campsite, which is on a “nice” slope. We entered at the 6 o’clock position and ran clockwise, uphill to 12 o’clock, and downhill to about 5 o’clock, then a turnaround at a water station (water over the head while running is VERY refreshing!), and back counter-clockwise where we’d come. I had to speedwalk for a bit on both uphills. My ankle was hurting specifically running uphill – an old marching injury (really, I’m not making it up…). I had to really concentrate to run in a way that wouldn’t hurt; not great form, but it kept me going.

As I was nearing the exit to the campsite, I started feeling REALLY GOOD. I was getting an endorphin rush, and decided I was going to use and not abuse it. Instead of my normally plodding pace, I stretched it out until I was pretty much running. It felt really great! As I entered the park exit (returning from where I’d run), I matched pace with a woman and had a bit of conversation. She lived in Colorado for 20 years, and moved recently to Wisconsin. She stated that any advantage from coming from a higher altitude was long gone. We pushed each other in a really great way. As we got about 1/2 mile from the finish, I suggested we pick it up. Same thing about 1/4 mile. As we neared the finish I suggested it one more time, and she told me to go ahead. I encouraged her to do it with me. I picked up the pace (and did pass her) toward the finish, and had a bit of a sprint coming down the final stretch. I was neck and neck with another woman, but her energy lasted longer than mine – good for her. I finished with a total time of 1:38:13. I had done the run in 28:21, thereby beating another ‘icing on the cake’ goal of 30 minutes! I finished overall 403 out of a field of 750 or so, and 54 out of 70 in my division. Not too shabby for a newbie.

I found Adam after I finished – he had actually been cheering me on near the finish – and we got some food. Since Rachel was just taking off on her run when I was finishing, we had at least 1/2 hour before we could cheer her to her finish. There was music playing over loud speakers, and it was a great atmosphere with everyone completing. I am, indeed, a triathlete!

We took our food back and sat near the finish, and cheered Rachel in while she finished. We went with her as she got food, then changed and went to the awards ceremony. We listened to about half of the awards, and left after all of our divisions were called. Per our custom, we went to Culvers in Sauk City where Rachel & I had turtles (you bet!) and Adam had lunch, again… Rachel and I then drove to Madison, where she dropped me off.

Another trip to the hospital

I got home, completely ready for a nap. Butterscotch greeted me, as did some cat feces by the front door. Hmmm. That looks kind of dark – is it dark enough to indicate blood? I picked up the boy and sat in the sun. I lifted his lip to look at his gum. Very white. I turned a bit white. I checked his gum for capillary action several times. I did notice some change in color, and it was quite slow. I called Cynthia, just catching her on her way out. She told me to call ahead and take him to the hospital. I got the carrier out of the basement and rubbed a towel on Butterscotch, then put it inside (I discovered he’s most comfortable with something soft that smells like him in there). I called the hospital and talked to Dr. Sartor. She agreed I should bring him in. Butterscotch didn’t want to get in the carrier. Boy, he’s a smart cat; more on this later.

I didn’t wait long at the hospital before Dr. Sartor had me come into an examining room. She stated that his bloodwork came back, and that the diagnosis was Pure Red Cell Aplasia. I didn’t go into details with her, but it seems like this we already new – that his marrow wasn’t producing red blood cells. I asked about Leukemia, and she stated that to find that out, they would have to send the cells to a lab for molecular something-or-other. (?) I thought they were testing for Leukemia. So much happens so quick, it’s hard to keep it all straight.

Butterscotch wouldn’t come out of the carrier by his own accord, or with coaxing. I finally had to pull the towel, and thus him. His temperature was normal, but she said he had a heart murmur (was it different than the ‘galloping’ sound he had, due to low blood count? I didn’t ask). She took him to the CCU to get some blood drawn and spun to measure his PCV (packed cell volume – an indicator of how many red blood cells he had) while I waited in the exam room. She came back a while later and stated it was 10. He’d left with it being 16 on Thursday. Once again, 10 is the bottom limit before long-term damage can be done to internal organs. She stated, however, that since he was so bright, that they should wait. She went to go look for steroids to give him. They normally use prednisone, but that can cause sodium retention, which wouldn’t be good for him. I sat in the exam room for about 20 minutes while she was away. I was so tired I drifted in and out of sleep, stirring every time Butterscotch’s tags made that beloved tinkling sound.

She came back and gave me some Dexamethasone pills – another steroid – to lower his immune response, which I gather may allow his marrow to begin producing red cells again. She showed me how to give a pill, since I’d not done that before. Seems easier than liquid, and he tolerates it MUCH better than the Doxycycline. And I could discontinue the Doxycycline – thank God. At least medicine time will be less stressful. I asked her about statistics on cats who recover from Red Cell Aplasia. She said that most end up being euthenized, but certainly not all. Ugh. More stress.

So, once again it was time to leave the hospital. I opened the carrier door, and Butterscotch walked right in without any prompting. I said he was smart. We came home, and he just as quickly walked out of the carrier. He jumped into his now-customary spot in the front window, and I turned on the fan and laid down for a nap. It was about 3 by then or so.

I woke up just before starting this entry. I went to the window to check on the boy. Still breathing (don’t parents do this?). Every once in a while I look over at him to ensure his chest is still expanding and contracting. I’m worried that I’m going to Detroit this Thursday through Tuesday morning. I’ll have to find someone to look after him. I’m going to be working at home myself until I leave. He’ll definitely need to go to the hospital Monday or Tuesday at the latest. I have a feeling the next couple of days will be like those last week. We shall see.