Saturday, December 29, 2007

LOOKING BACK? OR MOVING FORWARD?

I prefer to move forward. I figure at my age, what's the point of looking back? Even if I make mistakes or things don't go as hoped for, I have already self-analyzed everything surrounding that event, so I figure its best to just move on. I have learned what's the breaking point. So far, I have faced the worst that I could imagine and have moved on. I know there is the possibility of something worse, but these things are out of my control. I have learned to put my life and trust in a higher being; for me this is God. I have faith that God will provide for me, and also the comfort of knowing that God is there whenever I call upon that faith.

I am forever grateful for all my blogger friends, and hope at some point I can meet up with each of you. I have been touched by you and your lives this past year and am most thankful for the opportunity of having gotten to know each of you. And for those of you I have met, I hope our friendship will continue, wherever our paths may go.

I am also grateful for having come unto the running/triathlon world. I do believe we all are a special breed, chosen for this way of life unbeknownst to us why. It has become a part of me, as all of you have become a part of me. I look forward as often as possible to reading about and sharing in your daily lives.

I look forward to the new year, not really making a "resolution" but just a resolve to continue on, not give up, not quit, not give in. I consider each day a gift to savor and enjoy, for however long I am given to live on this earth.

And I have been tagged by SW Tri Girl. So I have to think of 5 "interesting" things about myself. Personally, I can't think of any, but here goes again:

1. I have visited 30 states so far. I have done races in 21 states.

2. I have no real desire to visit anywhere outside the U.S. except somewhere in the Carribbean.

3. I want to move somwhere WARM SOON!

4. I'm not sure I want to do an IM. Does this make me bad or a loser? I don't think so, but sometimes I feel guilty.

5. I probably would continue working as long as I was able IF: I could work part-time; if my age wasn't a detriment; if I needed the money (I suspect with the way things are going, I will!).

I will tag Flo, Suzanne, and Waddler26. I think everyone else has been tagged.

Monday, December 24, 2007

WINTER ARRIVES!

This is a picture of one of my favorite running courses. Some of you who ran the Grand Rapids Marathon might recognize this as the Butterworth Road section just before reaching the road that turns to Millenium Park.

But this was also the scene many places around here Sunday. Thousands without power. My driveway, that was finally clear of ice and snow on Sunday morning, when the temperature was 52 degrees, cannot be found today.

Saturday was the first time I ran outside in 4 weeks. It was 49 degrees. It seemed silly to even think of running on the treadmill, so I headed out, figuring all the ice on the streets might be gone as well. Not quite. I live in an area where (1) they only come through with the plows once after any storm, (2) where there are thousands of mature trees that line the streets, keeping the streets shaded a lot from any potential sunshine that tries to peek through, and (3) where gray, cloudy days outnumber sunshine days by 9 to 1. So the snow gets cleared down to a packed layer of snow and then any thawing and traffic cause it to freeze, refreeze, ice over, and basically stay until spring.

So its 49 degrees and I still needed the Yak Trax. But I did get some clear spots and, being pressed for time like many of us this weekend, decided to do some speed intervals. I actually felt very good and continued with this for most of my 47 min. run.

After that, I would have loved to stay in and clean house and finish my Christmas preparations, but I still had to do some shopping and try to come up with a menu for Christmas Day, not knowing for sure if my new oven, that had been out of commission since before Halloween, would arrive this weekend as promised. I had to prepare either way, just in case.

I really didn't want to face the malls and 28th Street, one of the busiest streets this side of the state. I started figuring all the time I would spend waiting in traffic getting around I could spend driving to a Wal-Mart Super Center out of town. The roads were dry. Its about a 35 minute drive, but why not? With the impending threatening weather, I figured I should get everything done today and not wait.

So I spent the afternoon there, getting everything but 2 items I needed, including finishing up with all those stocking stuffer items, headed home, unpacked the car, went and got the car washed, and then I just had to take a quick nap. I still had a holiday party to attend that night at one of the attorneys' homes who fortunately lived nearby, on one of my other favorite running routes.

We had been warned of getting really bad weather for a couple of days, but still, Saturday evening at 11:30 p.m., it was still dry and 52 degrees!

By 5:30 a.m. Sunday, however, all that started changing. I awoke to what sounded like thunder, but instead it was the roaring winds. The street lights were out, so it was hard to see what was going on, but I could see the neighbors' 2 over 80 foot pine trees bending and swaying in the wind in a precarious manner. I started envisioning one of those things coming down, probably on my house as well, and taking out all the power.

I still had all my last shopping to wrap, so at 6 am, watching all the weather reports and hearing the reports on all the damage and power outages in the area, I began wrapping furiously! I wanted to get as much done as possible in case we were without power.

I did get everything wrapped, then set out to vacuum and clean as much of the house as I could get done, still waiting for the oven to be delivered as well.

And to add a new twist to my already crazy week, my washer had broken as well, and I wanted to get out to wash a couple of loads of laundry before Christmas. I decided with the crazy weather to go to my daughter's, visit the kids, and do my laundry there, especially when I found out that power was out all around my area, including the malls! I wondered how they would get by!

Before heading to my daughter's, I went to the gym to get in a swim and found several people there using the showers and facilities since their power was out. These were people I had never seen before, neither in the locker room nor working out. Lucky they had this option.

I found out also talking to Don after my swim that a new oven had been delivered, but as "luck" would have it, they delivered the wrong model. I don't care. Leave it! So now at least I would not have to resort to the toaster oven for cooking my Christmas dinner!

By the time I got my laundry done and headed for home, the roads were becoming snow covered, and the wind was creating whiteouts here and there. I just put on the 4 wheel drive and forged ahead. Not long after arriving home, safely, the snow really started coming down, and within an hour the driveway was completely covered.

What better time to cook a big pot of chili and make an apple pie? So while the cold and wind raged a storm outside, inside was cozy and warm, with the chili bubbling on the stove and the aroma of a baking apple pie wafting from the oven.

A nice relaxing way to head into the next two holiday days.

Update on Don: He came home from the hospital Monday night, had to spend several hours Wednesday going for a checkup and then blood tests. Several hours because of the incompetence of the doctors' office personnel. His records from the hospital weren't even in their computers. They didn't even know then why he was there. The doctor couldn't understand why they put him on Coumadin, etc. Frustrating. Friday was a repeat of the same, since his "standing" blood work had not been ordered, even though he had been instructed to show up to have a blood draw. After waiting there for over an hour while they attempted to get someone from the doctors' office to fax them the order, we left. They had after hours lab times so we would come back later. Just as we are walking in the door to home, they call to say they have the order. Grrr! I have to leave work for this stuff and it is a huge effort for him to get ready and get around on the crutches, all for nothing, and having to repeat it another time.

He is scheduled also to see a pulmonologist, since his breathing is still not what it should be. He's not gasping, but his voice sounds weak. He says it is hard to project. And he goes into coughing fits when he exerts, which is actually good, but again frustrating. I think it will be a slow recuperation.


HAPPY HOLIDAYS! MERRY CHRISTMAS!

However you celebrate the season, whatever your traditions are, whichever way you believe, I think everyone would agree what's most important is spending the time with your family, loved ones, or friends. Enjoy the season!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007


LUCKY.

That's how I am feeling lately. Here's proof.

With Don's recent pulmonary blood clot, we were lucky he had a doctor's appointment that day. Since that happened, something I never would have thought possible, two more than coincidences have occurred relating to the same thing. An acquaintance of my boss's died this past weekend from what? A blood clot. Today in the news, there was a story about a 15 year old star athlete who died from what? A blood clot. So yes, he knows he is lucky.

And then there's me with my bike accident. Lucky to not have been killed. Lucky to not be crippled or something worse. And in the last few months, I have read or heard about several bike accidents where the cyclist was killed. All local (local meaning this side of the state). So, do I feel lucky? Yes, lucky is how we both feel right now. No other explanation. Just lucky. Thankful. Grateful. Makes me wonder what's in store for those of us with luck.

Monday, December 17, 2007

What more can I say but THANK YOU BLOGGERS for all your concern and separate e-mails. I appreciate it more than you can know!

An update on Don's condition: He was admitted to the hospital Friday night as I mentioned before. Both of us assumed it would just be an overnight thing and come home the next day. Not so! He's still there today and may have to stay until Tuesday.

The blood clot caused other problems to arise, along with a lot of pain and discomfort. Because he had been shallow breathing for so long, he began developing pneumonia, so they put him on an antibiotic. They also started breathing treatments that involved the use of steroids. The steroids can spike your blood sugar, which it did in his case. He also had a spike in blood pressure, temperature, heart rate, pulse, etc., so they had to monitor him closely for this. He also has to be on blood thinners, one form which is injected into the belly area for the next 10 days, as well as taking Coumadin, another blood thinner maybe forever. The Coumadin presents other problems, since eating foods with Vitamin K can alter the effectiveness of the Coumadin, meaning he has to restrict himself from eating all the things we not only love to eat, but supposedly keep you healthy: leafy green vegetables, that include broccoli, spinach, salad greens, etc. and green tea as well. And now of course no alcohol.

There's also the possibility of uncontrolled bleeding that could happen if an injury were to occur, so that may curtail some of his bike riding, to not put himself at risk for crashing. So this could mean a lifestyle change as well!

But he did finally get up today and used his crutches to generally help with recovery. The pain from the clot is gone, making it possible for him to get around again.

Its been a wild ride the last few days. I am starting to get a little caught up on some things, but with all the added tension and lack of adequate rest, I am having my head spasms I had a few years ago, where it feels like someone is pulling your hair off and on. I don't want to have to go on the muscle relaxers I had to take last time, because they pretty much leave me unable to properly function, and right now I don't have time for me to be sidelined. They do subside when I exercise, so I have been sticking with that. I ended up doing another 8 miles Sunday on the treadmill again, and this time beat my time from last week by more than 2 minutes. I am starting to see that I can go faster than I think I can, but I just hold back. I ended up with a huge blister on my toe though, so I'm going to have to do something besides run for a day or so.

Fortunately, we didn't get the huge snow storm they predicted, just some snow, so I'm sorry if any of the rest of you had to take a hit on this! :D

The hospital itself is very nice, however, and the staff has been very kind throughout this whole ordeal. I don't know how those people can do this day after day! It takes a special kind of person to be a nurse or other hospital staff person, that's for sure!

I will keep you updated as things progress! Thanks again!

Friday, December 14, 2007

BAD THINGS COME IN THREES?

Once again, Don is in the hospital. This time something, while unexpected to him, is not as uncommon as you would think.

Today was supposed to be a day off work to finish up my Christmas shopping, to avoid those horrible weekend crowds. Instead, I spent most of the day at the hospital ER.

Don had an early morning appointment to get the stitches out of the incision from the Achilles surgery. He wasn't feeling good last night, and even worse this morning. He complained about not being able to breathe very well, felt lightheaded, and had pain in his right side.

I wondered if he had pulled a muscle using the crutches, causing him the acute discomfort. Arriving at his appointment, I noticed he was moving much slower than any time since being on crutches and also just didn't seem to have the energy to get up and around.

Fortunately, he mentioned it to the doctor, who wondered if it might be a pulmonary blood clot! I never thought of that as being a problem. Apparently, people with leg casts have this problem more than you would think. He recommended that he go straight to the ER and get it checked out.

That was at 8:30 am. We arrived at the ER before 9 am. At 3:30 pm, he was still in the ER and nothing had been diagnosed yet as to his problem. This after 2 CT scans and a chest x-ray. I finally left then because they decided to admit him for the night, and went and did a few errands, got something to eat (finally!), and then came back later.

By then, it was determined he had a blood clot in his lungs, so they put him immediately on blood thinners and of course will now have to continue with blood thinners for the rest of his life.

Fortunately he saw his doctor today or who knows what might have happened! It is diagnosed as a pulmonary emoblism, but it might have caused a stroke or killed him. What a weird turn of events! First the cancer, then the Achilles, and now the blood clot. I'm hoping bad things stop at three.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

SHOPPING FOR THOSE HARD TO BUY FOR PEOPLE...


We all have those types: either they already have everything, or you can't think of one thing to get them, or if like me this year, you just don't' feel like going out to shop. Well maybe this will make your shopping easier! It sure gave me some great ideas!


Browsing the Brookstone catalog that recently arrived in the mail, some things of "interest" caught my eye. Here are just a few:


First, to get you started, this handy device can help not only with your grocery shopping, but will definitely be a bonus for keeping track of all those Christmas lists you are thinking up in your head. Its the Grocery List Asssistant. All you have to do is talk into the speaker and it will start compiling a list for you. All for a reasonable $149.95. Makes the pen and paper obsolete.










Next, we have the heated jacket. Actually this just might be a great idea for running in the cold weather or sitting at a football game. And for a mere $179.95, you won't have to worry if your car gets stuck in a snowdrift and you're left to freeze to death. Oh, wait, it only has a 5 hour charge! Better bring a spare!











Moving on to the next useful gift, you will see the aerobic twisting stepper, the perfect addition to your home gym, and particularly nice for those who live in the snow belt. And, with this nifty gift, you can tone the upper body with the resistance bands as well as tighten the inner thighs. Perfect for the ladies on your list! Only $100.













And then, to soothe those tired feet after pounding out all those miles, you have the iSqueez calf and foot massager. For a mere $399, you can have a massage after every run and in the privacy of your own home!










And what better way to relax after a long week, but with your own personal wine chiller to chase those winter blues away! Perfect gift for that person on your list without an ice cube tray in their home. $100.











But if you prefer a more South of the Border type drink, something to take you to that tropical oasis in your mind to warm you after a run, try the marguerita party kit. Another "bargain" under $100.








Or maybe you are going to a sunny locale during the holidays or after, to get out of the snow and cold, sitting around the pool at your favorite resort, its a great idea to have your own personal Fattowel, "the ultimate choice for pool, beach, or boat." The name isn't going to win any points though! And for $99.95, you get up to 12 letters to personalize your towel.











But the one I find most "interesting" is the iGallop, core and abs exerciser. The ad says "looking good and feeling great just got a whole lot easier." I'll leave this one to your imagination! And reduced too at $299!






I hope this helps some with those gift giving ideas where you just don't have a clue! Happy holidays!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007


WHERE'S MY SKATES??

Since all we seem to get so far this winter is ice, ice, and more ice, I'm beginning to think I need to get a pair of ice skates if I want to get outside for any exercise. Even when nothing is coming down, its been cold enough that none of the earlier snow/ice will melt, or if it does, it refreezes over night. I don't think the sun has been out since last month either!
But then I remembered I have Yak Trax, those handy little things you can attach to your shoes to give you some traction on the ice. (Can't upload a picture so you can see them though!) They are so lightweight you won't even know they are on your shoes. And they do keep you from slipping. Now if I could just remember where they are! Be careful out there!


Saturday, December 08, 2007


VIRTUAL RACE--RACE REPORT.

It was a great day for a race! I was getting bored with training and having nothing to work for, so I was excited when this race came up.

I was feeling pretty good when I got up so headed to the "race site" after getting something to eat and having some coffee. The race was to start at a leisurely get- there-when-you-feel-like-it-time, and the "weather" was perfect: a mild temperature, dry, and heavy cloud cover. I wore shorts and a wick away shirt since it was very comfortable, but knowing I would be getting warm later. I also brought my own water bottle filled because you never know what you will find on a race course.

The course was flat, and it was to be an out an back course, with water stops every two miles. And then I started seeing other blogger friends ready to start their runs as well! Marathondudebill , Suzanne, Marcy, Jeff, Flo, Lisa, Sunshine, Jeanne, RunningRagged, my co-"race director" Nancy, as well as many other "friends" I haven't "met" yet. [Anyone else who wants their name here, let me know with your time so I can incorporate it into my run.]

When the "gun" went off, I fell into an easy pace. I decided to abandon my plan to run/walk and just run the whole way. It was a race after all! I decided to just slow it down a notch or two and see what would happen.

Naturally, the fast ones took off: Bill was in the lead with Suzanne following pretty closely, then Jeff, and was that Marcy up front too? You go girl!

Nancy, Lisa, and I pretty much were keeping the same pace, so it was nice to have someone to "run" with for a change that I could actually keep up with. Nancy was chatting away, so I just kept to the task and nodded and grunted an occasional word here and there.

And there was music all along the "course" as well! Some of my favs were playing, as well as some seasonal favorites thrown in the mix. At the 2 mile mark, I was feeling great. We stopped to grab some water and then took off again, never really slowing down, just stepping to the side to let others pass if necessary. I was glad to see we weren't getting passed too often, and it was such a fun atmosphere, with everyone calling out encouragement along the way.
Just before 3 miles, a young woman I work with came flying by. Where did she come from?? Didn't she know there was a race going on?? Soon, her husband came by as well, practically sprinting to catch her! And here too, you could see the race unfolding, with Bill in the lead, Suzanne still hanging in there, a few others I didn't know hanging pretty close as well, then Jeff, a few other women, and our own Marcy working hard to keep pace with the lead packs!

And before you knew it, the half way point was approaching and another water stop. Again, no walking, just a quick stop and a drink and we were on our way! I felt better than I thought would be possible, but I guess at this pace, which is pretty much a heart rate pace, you feel like you can go forever. Lisa decided to pick up the pace here and she got ahead, but Nancy, Jeanne, and I were still keeping a pretty even pace. After the turnaround, it was fun to see the people behind us, some running, some walking, but everyone keeping at it to complete the full distance.

The 5 mile mark was quickly approaching, and the young woman from work had turned back and met up with her husband and it seemed like they decided to call it quits. And I was pretty sure that by now the race had been "won" by Bill and soon the woman's winner would finish as well.

As one hour approached, I had to congratulate myself on keeping at a continuous run pace, something I hadn't done (or been able to do) in ages. I wasn't at quite 6 miles yet, but I am still hopeful that within time I can get my pace back to being able to run a 10k a little faster. And again we had a quick water stop and we were on our way again. I was getting encouraged to also try to pick up the pace, and decided to up it slightly.

Just before 7 miles, I suddenly found myself alone, and here it started getting a little difficult, no so much the physical aspect but the mental, to keep going, not want to stop, not give in to the need to use the bathroom. Sweat was dripping off my face now, but the temperature was still quite good, so I figured I was working a little harder here too.

Now with each footstep, I started ticking off the distance as well, trying to stay focused. It was getting to be a mental game, knowing many others were finished, but knowing there were still others out there as well and not wanting to fall behind. Physically, my legs felt great, my breathing was good, I wasn't particularly tired, but it was just the idea of wanting to be done as well as the hope to meet my goal.

Shortly after the 7 mile mark, I finally had to give in to the bathroom break urge, and went "off course" briefly. I was glad there were porta-johns so close to the course! Once I started running again, I knew it would be a quick finish and was definitely deciding to pick up the pace the last half mile. And then here, what to my wondering eyes should appear? Why its Flo on her shiny pink "reindeer." She had cleverly stashed her bike at the 4.5 mile mark and was now catching me on the way to the finish line. That's all I needed to pick up the pace and go for my famous finish line sprint!

And finally, there it was, the end! 1:33:03. My goal was to make it under 1:35; my dream goal would have been 1:30, so I was happy enough with the effort. I'll keep you in suspense as to how we all finishrf and let others tell you their stories and finish times!
Waiting at the finish were all the bloggers and their families, wishing each other congratulations, sharing stores, and relaxing and having a good time. Once I grabbed some water and toweled off a bit, I went back to the finish to wait for some of those still out on the course. Then it was time to stretch, relax, and hit the hot tub!

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

TREADMILL WORKOUTS.
More and more it seems, I will be forced inside to the treadmill this winter. Being injured for so long last year has made me a lot more cautious, and I can't bring myself to run in the dark when it is icy. Its not even so much the possibility of injury as being unable to run again. So I have to play it smart, even if it will be boring.

I knew I would have to get creative then when it came to treadmill workouts or I would go crazy. I have two or three short workouts (2-3 miles) that I like doing and I usually do after a weight routine, so its a good combination.

But to go a little longer, maybe 4-6 miles for a midweek distance, I had to come up with something. Pounding out each increment of a mile was going to take some major mental toughness. Its like watching a clock tick away time.

Yesterday, while trying to figure something out to do today, I remembered a workout I used to do on the road, when I lived out in the country, and I mean, out in the country, with dirt roads, corn fields, cows, cattle, acre after acre of farmland, and many times herds of deer or flocks of wild turkeys running through my backyard, as well as the occasional fox scurrying across the road. It was totally rural when I first started running. And yet, there was this older guy who had started running in his 60s, and was an age group winner for years, who had marked out quarter miles on the roads around the area for probably a good 10 mile radius. Everywhere I ran, there were markings indicating a quarter mile or full mile or whatever.

It was very convenient then to incorporate these into an interval workout. It was almost perfectly laid out for me to run the first mile as a warmup and then for the next 1 1/2 miles I had quarter miles marked off, turn and go back another 1 1/2 miles, and then the final 1 mile home for a total of 5 miles. I could go farther if I passed my street by 1/2 mile, because the markings continued on the other way as well. So convenient! I didn't worry about timing the intervals, just kept track of the total time, so it took all the pressure off of looking at your watch.

So why couldn't I do the same thing on the treadmill? Well today, that's what I did. I did 4 miles and then another 1/2 mile cooldown. I ran out of time to get in the last half mile, but I felt okay to stop and wanted to stretch. I ran 1 mile and then did .25 as a faster interval and then backed down to my base pace, and continued to 4 miles. I feel pretty good. I hope to increase to 6 miles eventually, but I think this will be my treadmill workout when forced to stay inside.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

JUST A REMINDER...

The first annual 8 on the 8th Run will take place this Saturday, December 8.

The object is to cover 8 miles that day, any way you can, as best as you can. We had hoped to get some shirts, but without a firm commitment from at least 20 people, the cost would have been too high to order, so we'll have to do our own thing on shirts. I'm still willing to order if we get 20 orders though!

In preparation for Saturday's run, I have been running consistently, and on weekends have been doing between 5.4 and 7 miles. This past weekend was a treadmill run. I had only intended to do 6.5, but then I got involved in watching a movie and decided to continue on and ended up doing 7 and walking until 8. I needed to see if I could hang on for 8 miles on the treadmill if the weather forced me inside again. It wasn't the worst thing I have ever done, so I think I'll make it Saturday, either way.

And speaking of weather forcing me inside. We have had quite a wild weather week, and the sidewalks and roads around my house have been quite icy. Not sheet ice, but patches here and there, enough so it makes running in the dark not so safe. I have fallen quite a few times on black ice, chunky ice, and glare ice so I am a little paranoid. Until I can run on either completely dry pavement or pavement with enough snow on it to cover the ice, I am sorry to say I will be forced inside.

And the forecast for getting the roads cleared this winter is dismal, thanks to our brilliant state budgeting that cut back on road commission allotments, so that now, in a snow state, the road commissions are laying off people who would normally be available for snow plowing. They're just warning us ahead of time that snow clearing will be spotty at best and slower than normal. Reminds me of the 70s.

Also changing up my morning routine is needing to be around for Don in the morning to help him with a few things and get him set for the day, so I have been going to the gym at lunch or after work more and more, something I hate to do, but at least I am getting in some spinning classes that I have neglected doing by not going in the evenings.

I also signed up for the indoor triathlon at the end of January, so that's a motivation to keep up the spinning and swimming. I've managed to recruit a few people from work to do this as well, so that is more motivation! These are 25-29 year olds so I don't want them to show me up too badly!
And swimming has been going better all of a sudden too, even though I am not being that consistent with going, sometimes only once a week. Last week though I managed to go 3 times, and all my distances have been faster since a month ago.
That's about it for the last few days. Hope to hear from all of you planning on doing our virtual race this weekend!

Sunday, December 02, 2007

I'VE BEEN TAGGED.

By Tri-Eric, whom I met at the Grand Rapids Marathon. Eric is from the Cleveland area and is also a triathlete.

Five random things about me?

I'm going to stick with running or tri randomness:

1. I've been running for almost 20 years (in 2008).

2. My fastest 5k was 21:01; slowest was 53:xx, last year after the accident where I had to walk, but it was a victory nonetheless.

3. I almost "won" a race once when the lead woman (and probably the next 10) went the wrong way.

4. I did win masters a couple of times and even won prize money!

5. My first triathlon was in 1997.

So that's about it. I have another post planned, so I will stop here today.
TSO, IMH, AND BAD WEATHER.

Wow! What a day! I finally was able to snag some tickets to Trans-Siberian Orchestra, and all I can say is incredible! I have heard their CDs, but nothing compares with the show itself. They really know how to entertain!

I managed to get a few pics, but on my cell phone camera, and I have no idea how to download those, so this is from their website. What with all the to do of the day, trying to get in a run, helping Don with his showering, taking him to his mom's for a visit, shopping, baking an apple pie to take to the IM Hawaii party, picking him up, going to the party, getting to the show, I forgot the camera in the car. Whew!

And the weather they threatened all day? Finally happened right about the time we were watching Chris McCormack cross the finish line at IM Hawaii. By the time we got ready to leave for TSO, it was freezing rain on top of the probably inch of snow. Fortunately, I have 4 wheel drive, so I feel a little safer--of my own driving. It wasn't too bad yet, but you never know what the idiots out there will do.

The trick of getting to the show, parked, and inside the arena was now going to be complicated by the weather. At first, I thought I could just pull into the handicap parking lot, as directed by the Arena reps. But no, it was too bad out, and by the time we were able to maneuver around all the other traffic and get to that lot, all of the close handicap spots were taken. I made the decision then to pull out of the line into the parking lot and drive directly to the handicap entrance so Don could get out and hopefully not break his neck on the ice/snow mess. That meant him getting out of the car on the traffic side because I couldn't get in front of the door facing the right way because of traffic. While I might be somewhat of a chicken driving at times, I never hesitate to back up to wherever I need to go, and you can just get out of my way! Anyway, once I got him inside the building, they gave him a wheelchair to sit in and then I had to go back and park the car.

And just my luck, the handicap parking lot was full and they were turning people away. Whatever, I'm just parking at the closest lot possible, which happened to be right up the street, but wouldn't you know they were charging $8 to park? Outside? In this stuff? For $8, I expect to park inside, or at least have someone clean my car off later!

But I did have a handicap sticker, so maybe that's why the guy gave me a break and let me park right next to the street (as if he owned the lot or something!) If you've ever gone to concerts or ball games in a metropolitan area where they charge for parking on any square inch of concrete, then you know its like they have squatting rights or something and collect as much as possible for each spot. Normally, I would walk the 5 or 6 blocks from my work parking lot where I can park for free, but tonight? Whatever, I'm not arguing.

Back inside at the concert, where my shoes were now soaked through, a guest services person takes us to customer service where we have to trade in our tickets for handicap seating. I was a little disappointed with this because we had floor seating, fairly close to the front, and now we would be relegated to some obscure corner. As it turned out, we were in a separate balcony in the upper bowl seating area, next to a suite, so we got to sit in folding chairs watching the group next to us party down the whole night. In this venue, there isn't a bad seat in the house for sound, but we were up higher now and I couldn't see anyone's faces. But we were amused constantly by the group next to us!

Anyway, the show was fabulous, and I couldn't help but realize how much energy these musicians put into this show! This was also their second show of the day here, so it was almost like doing 2 marathons in one day! They are all over the place constantly, and unlike other shows that always have an intermission half way through? Not them. They took a "break" and introduced all the musicians and singers and warmed up the crowd, and then it was right back at it for another hour and a half. So a total of about 3 hours, as opposed to the usual 2. For $51, I would say I got more than my money's worth! Its only taken me 5 years to get tickets! I was glad Don decided he would still go to the concert. I had almost thought of selling my tix! But that would have been too easy.
And this is what my car looked like after the show! It was actually pouring rain when we left, making for another interesting situation. There was so much ice and snow on the sidewalks, there was no way Don was going to get to the car without the wheelchair they provided. And fortunately the woman helping us pushed him right to the car. My hair was pretty much soaked running back and forth too. Fortunately, by the time we finally coordinated all this, most of the crowd had left and we don't live too far from the Arena, so it was a sloppy drive home, but not too bad with the 4 wheel drive.
We are both learning firsthand what its like living the life of a handicap person.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

RED SKIES IN THE MORNING...


sailors take warning, meaning a storm is coming. That old saying, I'm sure some of you have heard. I learned it from my grandmother, and it comes back to me whenever I see red skies in the morning.

For the most part, I think it rings true. And with a winter storm warning looming ahead for later today, I wasn't surprised to see red skies this morning.



It is 14 degrees out right now, "feels like 1" the weather report says. I'm thinking just this once that I will do my long run on the treadmill. I know that means about 1 1/4 hours of complete and utter madness and boredom, but I just can't bring myself to go outside, where the snow we got yesterday still coats the streets and sidewalks around my house, now having turned to ice because of the extreme cold temps. I have gotten used to the cold; its the ice I don't want to deal with. I have had one too many falls on ice over the years, and with one "invalid" right now in the house, we don't need two!

Actually, the weather west of us looks MUCH worse right now. Sorry you guys are getting this mess too!
What will really make the evening interesting, when the snow and ice is predicted to hit, is going out to a concert (Trans Siberian Orchestra), with Don on crutches. We are already going to have to switch over to handicap seating, since I already had the tickets when this came up. I'll let you know how it goes!



Wednesday, November 28, 2007


ONCE A CAREGIVER...
Yeah, I don't know why, but here I am again, in the role of caregiver. After my dad died earlier this year, I felt a huge void in my life, having been a constant caregiver for over 6 years. Then, once he was gone, it actually took me a few months to realize I was free for the first time in a long time--no kids at home; no parents. And suddenly, I am thrust back into this role again.
Not that Don means to be a pest (LOL!), but before I can leave for work in the morning, I must make sure he has his breakfast, his water, his meds, the phone, the TV remote, something to do, and anything else I can think of. On top of getting myself ready. It reminds me of the days when my kids were small and still living at home and got so distracted I went to work with my coat over my robe.
Then, when I get home, its a repeat of the whole routine, and once again before bed. He can't help it--he's almost totally reliant on someone to help him right now. And I don't mind, really I don't. But once again, I find myself falling easily back into the role of caregiver. It makes me wonder.
I don't find it hard or inconvenient. But I don't necessarily feel this huge need to be depended on either. I am just doing what has to be done. Because I want to. Because someone has to. I couldn't help but think today about the fact that you think you know someone, and then something like this happens, and they become an invalid, but do you REALLY know them?
Like, do you know that they won't drink chocolate milk with toast with jelly?? Or that they didn't fix themselves something for lunch, but instead ate the last of the cherry pie from Thanksgiving?? Or that he would try to get around the house by himself, only to find that he really couldn't carry a glass of ice water with crutches?? Or that he would try to be tough guy and not take his pain meds, despite your first-hand knowledge that taking the pain meds on time really does help you sleep through the night.
So I am going to have to make some adjustments in my life. I have to wonder where this will lead me next. Stay tuned...

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

POST-OP.

Don made it through his surgery, as was to be expected. Its a relatively quick procedure, to reattach the Achilles tendon. An incision is made in the back of the leg, near where the tendon has separated, the tendon is sutured up, he gets a cast, and that's about it. It took about 35 minutes, but of course all the pre-op was a huge production: get to the surgical center at 7:30 am; go into the triage room; get vitals taken; get into the gown; sit and watch the clock as it drags on endlessly to the next minute, then the quarter hour, and finally the half hour, all the while you feel you have been there for hours; get the IV; wait again for the surgeon; talk to the surgeon; wait again for the anesthesiologist; talk to the anesthesiologist; watch the clock again slowly tick away to the next quarter hour and finally the half hour--is it lunch time yet? So went the wait. They wheeled him into surgery around 9 am; he was out by 9:39. They have a "greaseboard" that indicates by color and patient number the patient's status. Its all done by computers: green for in OR; blue for CLD (surgery closed); pink for in recovery I; tan for recovery II.

The recovery period also was long and drawn out, at least an hour and 15 or 20 minutes after surgery for recovery I, and another hour for recovery II. When he got to the recovery II stage, I went back and waited with him. This surgical center is part of a new hospital, just opened in September, so everything is bright spanking new and completely state of the art. What a huge improvement over the old, drab, and overcrowded hospital they moved from!

He will now be wearing a fiberglass cast for the next 6 weeks, to keep the foot immobilized. He will need to be totally on crutches. It won't be easy to drive, if at all, because its his right foot. And with winter coming, it won't be easy getting around in the ice and snow.

I am tired today. The weather is bitter cold--Alberta Clipper is visiting. I probably won't run today. Its been a long time since I said that! But tomorrow is another day, and I for one am overjoyed that I am able to run whenever I choose.

It looks like the next year, the shoe will be on the other foot. Don will need to be recovering, while I hopefully will be progressing. Strange how things go. Last year, it was me. You just never know, do you??

Monday, November 26, 2007

ACHILLES HEEL.

Everyone has one, both physical and metaphorically. In this case, Don's Achilles did rupture, and he is scheduled for surgery Tuesday am. They will suture the torn tendon, and hopefully it isn't so bad that they have to use other tendons to brace it. Then he will have a cast for at least 6-8 weeks, followed by another cast, recovery, and rehab. All in all, a total of 12-15 weeks, or possibly 4-6 months of rehab/recovery. There goes my running partner!

Seriously everyone, please do your stretches. Its very unfortunate this had to happen, but in his case, this wasn't the result of any inattention to stretching, just more stress than usual in playing racquetball, as he often does in the off season anyway.

The best option for treatment is surgery if he wants to (hopefully) continue with an active lifestyle after.

So I'll be at the hospital tomorrow. Send some good healing vibes, won't you?

Sunday, November 25, 2007

HOLIDAY WEEKEND WRAP-UP.


Its been long! I've been off work since Wednesday and, sad to say, I think I am ready --no, I need--to go back! Not necessarily to work, just to get back to a normal routine.


My NJ daughter came to visit on Wednesday, bringing her two dogs with her, adding to the total chaos we seem to experience when everyone gets together. If getting up at 4:30 on Thanksgiving Day (to go stand in line at Meijer for their Thanksgiving sale) wasn't enough to tire me out, the dogs wake you up at 5:30 every day just to go out. They seem to still be on NJ time, when it is light out an hour earlier (same time zone, however). Once I hear people up, I'm up too. And I can't go to bed until everyone settles for the night, so its been late nights and early mornings.



We had a nice Thanksgiving dinner. Everything got cooked and done all at the same time, despite having no oven. Don and I went out before everyone arrived for dinner and did a 4 mile run. It wasn't an easy run for me though because I felt weak and tired. I actually hadn't felt too well the day before, and what with all the cooking and being on my feet for hours, I hadn't eaten much either, so when we headed out on Thursday morning, I was hungry. My stomach was actually growling. So we (I) walked any hill or incline. But by the end, we (he) decided we needed to do some speed intervals. That's just what I needed because it gave me a chance to push it for a block and then I got to catch my breath for a block.


The weather has turned colder, probably in the upper 20s, and we had about a 1/2 inch of snow overnight, but by the time we got out, it had all melted, except what had fallen on all the leaves just now coming down. There were piles and piles everywhere. We have had a late leaf drop due to the extended warm weather, so I'm pretty sure a lot of people are not going to get their leaves bagged up this year.


And that makes it difficult (for me) to run on the sidewalks at times, because I can't see anything because the leaves are so thick, and I'm always afraid of tripping or slipping. Its much easier to just run in the street, but obviously not always safer. And I couldn't help notice that most of the people who drove (zoomed) by us all were on cell phones. I don't want to be a target again for a distracted driver, so I'm a lot more cautious now.


Friday morning, after again waking at 5:30 on an off work day, I decided to go to the gym for their one spin class of the day. They were operating on a totally reduced schedule, but I haven't done a spin class in ages, and it seemed a good day to just stay inside, since our plans for later in the day called for outside activities. And did I mention it was COLD?!

A woman who came to the class said I must be a "pro" since I was dressed in bike shorts, shoes, and jersey. "You must race a lot." Well, yes, of course! I had to laugh though.

Friday afternoon, we decided to head over to the lakeshore. Renee's friend Ed wanted to see Lake Michigan, and since he is also a photographer, I figured Friday's weather looked to be better than Saturday's. The lakeshore had snow on the ground, probably at least an inch, but the winds were calm. Walking on the pier was a trick, however, since the snow that had fallen had iced over quickly. The waves were also calm, however, allowing us to walk at least part way out on the pier without fear of getting washed off. Slipping might happen, though! The water was a steel gray. My mind went back to all the warm sunny days we had spent there in the past, and more recently just the first part of October!

Saturday, I again woke up at a ridiculous time: 4:45. My neck was aching badly, and I figured it was from the spin class! Just one time on a bike, and my sore neck was back. After a few hours of coffee drinking and waiting for the sun to come up, I got dressed to go out and run. I wanted to run alone though. I didn't really have a true agenda, but thought about doing a 5 mile route that included a number of hills. I decided to see what happened once my legs actually got moving, and was pleasantly surprised at how good I felt. I did, however, resort to my 8 min. run, 2 min. walk plan to get me through this. I wasn't tired, as I had feared, it wasn't as cold and windy as predicted for later in the day, probably about 28 degrees though, and the sun was in and out of the clouds, so a pretty good day all around. And I had decided to wear this running jacket I had bought probably 11 years ago, that has a hood, a flap to cover the behind, and pockets, a good combination for a long run. I was so comfortable I wondered why I didn't think to wear this thing more often. Who cared if it was purple and green??? LOL!

After I reached the 1 hour mark, I decided I had better head back home. It was 9:30 and I still had some food prep for a family party later in the day. And the kids were talking about going to a movie first.

The "girls" and Austin ended up seeing Bee Movie, which was very cute. The "boys" saw Mist, which was nothing I would ever want to see! Too scary for me! For the most part, I like family or kid movies the best.

Saturday night was a family get together with my sisters and sister-in-law and their kids. Ten boys of ages ranging from 7 to 24. And 4 girls. What a noisy crowd! It was fun catching up with the college boys and the "hockey" boys, my brother's boys who are big into hockey. Three boys, and the tallest is 6'7". The "smallest" at 14 is 5'11"!

Sunday came, and I again woke up way too early. It was still dark, and I was starting to feel like a total slug. I lolled around watching movies until 11 am and finally got ready to go out and do some shopping. Later, I took the grandsons to bowl and then we hit the pool, so I did get in a half mile swim.

When I got home, I got a big surprise: there was a pair of crutches propped against the wall. What happened?? I wanted to know. Don had a racket ball match and either blew out his Achilles or at least strained it. He won't know for sure until he sees the ortho doc tomorrow! Yikes! There goes my running partner!

Hopefully, he will be okay soon. I need him to keep me focused and working on my speed! And I hate to see him get set back even further with his future training. Its always easy to mentally take off the winter season, but I would hate to have this stretch out into the spring and summer. It would be very difficult to come back after that I would think.

Please keep him in your prayers! A super athlete is sidelined and any good vibes can only help!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

OOH, THAT SMELL...

I am TOTALLY geeking out about an apple pie I just made! The smell?? Heavenly! I took today off to shop, visit, and cook, in that order. I had just a few things left to shop for Thanksgiving. My NJ daughter was coming to visit, and naturally I wanted a good meal. The girl can't cook, go figure.

Me? If you haven't figured it out, I LOVE to cook. Thanksgiving to me is a handing down of traditions my mother established. And for me? It goes by smell--apple pie, dressing, and turkey. It iss NOT Thanksgiving without cooking.

First, I have to say: My oven is not working BUT I am really that good that I can pull it off without that nuisance appliance. Trust me. If I could invite any of you, I would.

Yes, I do need some sort of oven. Otherwise? No delectible pies. I do have a toaster/convection oven, and so far I have made 2 pumpkin, one heavenly apple, and a cherry I'm not that proud of but it is passable. I also made this whatever you can call it brownie pie. It wasn't supposed to be an baked pie, BUT, when you add raw eggs, you HAVE to bake it. So instead of some sort of "cream" pie, it turned out to be a brownie type pie. Hopefully, it is good.

I have done TONS of dishes--all without a dishwasher! My turkey is soaking in brine and had better be the BEST I have ever made. Tomorrow? I am hoping Don and I can do at least 4 miles. I am going to get faster if it kills me!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

IN MEMORY.

November 20. Today would have been my dad's 78th birthday. Here we are (brothers & sisters) last Christmas--a fortunate thing I suggested getting a picture taken, as it would be the last one we would have of him.

There's hardly a day yet that I don't think of him or miss him. I can't tell you how many times in the 6 years after my mom died, when I would take him to his various appointments, that I had to give his birthdate each time: 11/20/29. So the date sticks in my mind as well.

So this is just a little way to remember my dad on his birthdate.

Monday, November 19, 2007

COUNTDOWN TO THANKSGIVING.



I am looking at this picture, dreaming that this will look something like the dinner I will have to make for Thanksgiving. It may be a pipedream, however.



For the second time in two years, my oven is BROKEN just before Thanksgiving. What are the odds?? I should go to Vegas.


Last year, my 20+ year old oven just stopped working, the week before Thanksgiving. By the time we got someone out to look at it, it was just a few days before and we decided it wasn't worth the money, despite the fact that I was having a few people for dinner later that week. I decided I would be able to manage, with my turkey roaster, crockpot, stovetop, and my trusty toaster/convection oven. With some detailed planning, everything worked without a hitch, and dinner was served promptly at 1 pm, the time my dad was hoping to eat.


This year, once again, and with a brand new stove/oven, the heating element broke (broke as in snapped and nearly caught on fire, damaging the floor of the oven as well) 3 weeks ago. It is under warranty, so we have to rely on a local company to come out and order the part. Three weeks later? No part. Its the Monday before Thanksgiving, and once again I am trying to work out all the logistics of cooking dinner for 10 people this year with no oven.
Needless to say, I am not happy about this. I am more organized on my Christmas shopping than I am going to be for Thanksgiving. We'll see what happens here. Stay tuned.

Sunday, November 18, 2007


STILL IN LOW BUT FINALLY OUT OF NEUTRAL.

Saturday was supposed to be a "race" day. I had really wanted to do a 15k hilly race, One Hill of a Race. I found it last week so hadn't signed up yet. I was mainly waiting to see if the weather was going to cooperate. It if rained/snowed, I was going to shop!

It didn't rain or snow until later in the day BUT somehow I overslept. I had a very restless and disturbed sleep the night before, having gone to bed early but then waking up at midnight and making the mistake of turning on TV to see what time it was. And naturally, I had to watch When Harry Met Sally,which I haven't seen in ages! I really expected to watch about 10 min. and fall back to sleep, BUT at 2 am I was still awake.

Thus, oversleeping Saturday morning. I didn't set an alarm because the race was to start at 9 and surely I would be awake by my usual 6, so why bother? That backfired as you can see.

So Don mentioned the Run for Ryan idea, which he read that morning in the paper about a group meeting for this purpose.

"We can just go do that instead. Let's find out where they are meeting."

We looked it up on the store's website, but finally concluded it was to start at 7:35 and it was already after 8 am.

"We can just go run ourselves," I said. "That's farther than you've been going in a long time anyway." And, I thought, will probably be faster than I have gone in YEARS!

We dressed for the weather, around 32 degrees, but it really didn't feel too bad because while it was gray and cold, there was no wind. And no rain or snow yet either.

We decided to run around the lake, which with a few detours could be stretched out to 6 miles if we wanted. I wasn't betting on that but just decided to see how far we could get. Since our run the other day, I had felt both energized and wiped out at the same time, so that was a good mixture for me. It meant I had worked hard enough to feel it but was excited by the feeling it gave me too.

We started out at an easy pace. On this route, there is always someone out running, walking, dog walking, biking, or what have you, no matter the weather. Today was no different. Its also an area where over half of our local races take place, including the triathlon. A popular place. And its a great course because of the varied terrain, from rolling to flat to steep, and the scenery varies as well from the lake to wooded, to wetlands, to some fabulous homes. We were going to try to spot the $7.7 million house that belonged to a doctor now in the news for defauding insurance companies and Medicare and reusing needles and sutures on patients. Watch for that story on Dateline sometime soon, I can bet.

When we hit the first long incline, Don needed to stretch out his Achilles. Even though we only took a few steps, it gave me a chance to catch my breath, which I realized was coming fast. I was breathing harder than normal again but my legs felt great! We started out again before cresting the hill and then it was down the steep other side, down to the residential area. Just before we had stopped, a young girl passed us, and the "old" Don might have picked up the pace to keep up with her, but the "current" Don stayed with me. To a point. He still was getting slightly ahead of me, making me work harder to keep up. By the time we got to 2 miles, I was really breathing hard, but not gasping, and still able to say a word or two, but for the most part we just ran. It was late enough in the morning now that the majority of people we saw were walkers. We figured anyone who met for the 5.5 run was long gone.

The next incline found us again walking a few steps, and again I was glad to be catching my breath. But I recovered quickly each time. We continued on until he reached the steepest hill, about a 1/4 mile almost straight up hill, that continued on after you turned the corner at the top. Again, the "old" Don would have made me push it up the hill, but the "current" Don still was struggling with the Achilles, so I was more than happy to walk after we got half way up. From here, its at 3 miles, still 1 mile to the car, so we needed to do some detouring to get in another 1.5 miles after that. This is where we went through a subdivision of some more fabulous homes, and finally did spot the $7.7 million home. We talked about what could possibly make a home that expensive, so my mind was off running, making it a great way to enjoy the day!

By the time we got to the last half mile, it was mostly on a downgrade from there to the car, so I could tell Don was pushing it some. He even said, "when I see the traffic light at the corner, that's where I start picking up the pace." And that's what he did. I followed as closely as possible, so I was happy about my effort here too. I'm telling you though, when we got done I was glad to stop! I looked at my watch for the first time and saw--I can't believe this--54:19. That was for 5.5 miles with walking!

I asked Don if he knew how fast we were running. I didn't want to get my hopes up until I heard it from him. "Under 10s for the most part." Under 10s?? Me?? Whoa!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

MARK YOUR CALENDARS: December 8, 2007.

Plans have been underway, and I am in negotiations with someone to supply the shirts -- that is if you really want shirts.

What I have come up with is a short sleeved, 100% polyester moisture wicking shirt, using a logo similar to the one seen here. To save some money, I suggest modifying the logo to 2 colors, and also suggest a gray/silver shirt.

The price of the shirt, including postage, would be $20 for bulk orders of at least 20.

So, here's what I need from anyone who is interested: let me know your commitment to wanting a shirt by e-mail (I think my e-mail is on my blog; if not, let me know!) I will need your size and you will then have to mail me a check or money order and provide a mailing address.

The supplier said he could get a turnaround of 2 1/2 to 3 weeks, so more than likely, by the time I can get the shirts and mail them out it will be after the race. But I will get them out as soon as I can.

Who's interested??
IF THE ONLY TIME YOU HAD TO WORK OUT WAS AT 4 AM....


Would you? That was a question I asked at a work cocktail party the other night. Disclaimer: I do not usually attend these things, because I had better things to do with my evenings, like watching Wheel of Fortune or Jeopardy or something. :D But this was a "first annual" of something or other and I felt obligated. Also, I didn't want to be the topic of conversation if I didn't go. :)

I don't know why it is at these things that the women always sit around complaining about husbands or significant others. A woman who works in my practice area was complaining that her husband always had to "run." I remember hearing her mention he ran before, but not much has been said since so I pretty much forgot about that. Her complaint wasn't so much that he ran, but that he gets up at 4 am to run. Why does that bother her, I asked? The reason of course was that it disturbed her sleep. And since he only runs on the treadmill, she can hear that as well.

And while I pretty much knew the answer to the next question, I asked it anyway. "Do you ever use the treadmill?" "Heck no! I'd have to get up at 4 am too and there is no way I would get up at 4 am just to exercise." "Can't you do it later, or can't he, like after work?" "No, my only time would be to get up early and I'm not going to do that. And he just likes to exercise in the morning."

So that got the whole ball rolling on whether anyone would get up that early if that was the only time they had to exercise.

"I would," I said. And while I don't make it a regular practice to get up that early (other than the last couple of weeks it seems), I have gotten up that early for races and that early and even earlier to get in a run or workout if it was necessary. Like when training for a marathon or something.

"That's because you're crazy!" several people said.

Am I?

So I said that exercise was important enough to me that if the only time I had to exercise was at 4 am (or get up to exercise), I would. I might not be as enthusiastic about it every day if I had to get up that early all the time, but I know I would do it.

The general concensus from the rest was that they wouldn't.

So my question to you is would you?

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

ASK AND YOU SHALL RECEIVE.

Maybe I finally got an answer to my wanting a running partner, and it came from an unexpected source. Don and I have been running a few times together lately, something we hadn't been able (I hadn't been able) to do in the past. Either it was because he was too fast for me, or he was heavy into Ironman training, and still too fast for me. Even in his off seasons, I didn't have enough confidence to run with him, figuring it would pretty much kill me to go even his slowest pace.

This year, his off season has mainly been struggling through any kind of workout, due to the cancer drugs he's been taking now for several months. Not only do they sap a lot of his energy and strength, but side effects include aches and pains he wouldn't usually have. As I say, its been a struggle, both mentally and physically for him to even get out of bed some days. But he continues to do what he can and probably more often than the average person even under normal circumstances.

The week after my half marathon, I asked him casually if he wanted to go for a short run with me. My main intention was to get him out the door more than anything else. Surprisingly, he said yes. We only did a short run, a little over 2 miles, and I felt great. I don't really know how he felt, but I could tell he was glad to be done. After that, he continued to either go to the track and do short runs or to the Y track on a more regular basis. Monday morning we went again, pretty much the same run as before, yet he was having trouble with his Achilles, so had to stop frequently to stretch and walk it off.

So I was surprised when he asked me last night if I was running in the morning. I said I was but wanted to go longer this time. "That's all right. I'll do whatever you do."

I half expected then that we might do some walking if we were going to extend the run for him, which was okay with me. That's not exactly what happened though.

We started out at a comfortable pace, and the weather was quite comfortable too. A brief rain shower had fallen just before we went out, so the air was nice and clear, and the temperature was in the mid 50s but a little windy, so all in all quite nice.

The first part of the run I was directing him where I wanted to go. And its amazing when running with someone else how much faster the whole thing seems to go. Before I knew it, we were at our first stop at a cross street, but there wasn't any traffic so we kept on going.

The next part is slightly uphill, and this is where his troubles started the other day. At this point too I was thinking maybe we should walk a bit if we were going to run longer. I didn't need to yet, but I wanted to be prepared for later by saving my energy. Again, walking didn't happen. I asked him how he was feeling and he said he was feeling much better than the other day. Okay, we'll just keep at it, I thought.

By the time we got to the next cross street, I was again thinking we would (should) walk, but that was not happening apparently. He ran across the street, leaving me to wait for cars, and because I hesitated, I couldn't make it. So I continued until I could cross. By then, he had gotten about a block ahead. While he hasn't been running much, and his fitness level is way down, he still can run faster than me if he wants, so I was starting to worry a little that I was going to really have to push myself to catch up. Fortunately for me, he did stop a second to stretch, allowing me to catch up.

Then it was up another hill and down a straight stretch. Here, he began leading, and I realized I was falling a few steps behind and then catching back up. And wouldn't you know it, every time we came to a cross street, the traffic was spaced far enough apart so we didn't have to wait. I was really wanting a break, and I probably would have waited if I was alone, but I decided to stick with him as much as possible.

By the time we got within several blocks from home, I had decided there was no way I wanted to do 4 or 5, so was glad he was turning back. "So what do you think, about 3.5 when we get done?" he asked. I looked at my watch again and thought probably not. We were at 32 minutes (and by now it seemed MUCH longer). "I figure we're going a 10 or 10:30 pace," he said. I was breathing hard, not gasping, just working harder than I do when running alone. So maybe we would be doing 3.5? Was it possible?

When we got done and I looked at my watch, it was at 36 minutes, so its very likely we went 3.5 or even more, after I thought about the route and did some quick calculations.

Now I know that's not a blazing speed, but for me to finally break out of the 11 min. pace makes me realize how much easier it is to do that when someone else is pushing you along and the fact that I can actually do it. And I didn't even realize I was running faster until I stopped. And today I was definitely out of breath so I know I worked harder. It reminded me a little of those faster runs I used to do and how exhilirating it felt when done.

And Don is truly old school when it comes to running, meaning just like there's no crying in baseball, in running there's no walking. His belief is simple: You don't train to run by walking. Not that you can't walk if you're having a bad run, you just don't make it a habit. We don't exactly agree on that, but I understand his theory.

Of course this has me thinking if I can get him out there with me more often that maybe I can actually get a little faster within a month or so. He probably won't go any farther than 5 miles, but that would be a breakthrough for both of us, because I know I would be pushing through and running the full distance. And I think mentally it will give him a boost too. Trade offs are great!

Monday, November 12, 2007

Anyone seen this? The plan is to run 5.5 on Sat., Nov. 17, in honor of Ryan Shay. I will be looking for something to do to be sure I get my 5.5 in on Saturday. I have a plan already.
And as an added comment, if you haven't already thought about the Virtual Race, 8 on Dec. 8, please stop by and let me know or at Nancy's blog. We will be finalizing the details and format for posting soon! And just think, you can do your 5.5 on Saturday the 17th and still have 3 more weeks to build up to your 8 on the 8th!

Sunday, November 11, 2007

PAYING ATTENTION TO DETAILS.

Maybe because I've probably had about every running injury there is, when something starts twinging or worse yet hurting, an alarm goes off in my head. I try to figure out what it is I'm doing or doing wrong to stop whatever is going on. So when I started having just a little bit of knee instability, something I've actually not been plagued with very often, red flags went up.

For the most part, I blamed it on building up my mileage too fast for the half last month. But then I remembered I had done the same thing last spring for the 25k (yeah, I like to binge train) and didn't have the same thing going on then. That was far harder and a longer distance too.

So I've been putting up with this little knee lock-up thing going on, especially during long runs, where if I stop, my knee actually locks in a hyper extended position just for a second, but hurts until I take a step or two. Hard to explain. What was worse though was my knees were starting to hurt going down steps. Now I know it can be argued that my age has something to do with it, and I'm not totally disputing that, but I still had to wonder what was going on and have been very cautious about not making it worse.

Last week I started paying more attention to my stretching, something I do on a regular basis, but not always enthusiastically. I hurry through some basic stretches and only work on areas that bother me most, but this knee thing was baffling. One of the stretches I hadn't been doing though was the quadricep stretch. I had been neglecting at least the one leg since my ankle sprain because it hurt too much for me to grab my ankle, and there is actually just a little soreness there still, right where the ankle bends. So I've been lazy about that leg especially. But the other day, I finally decided to really stretch the quads. I was surprised at how tight they were, which wasn't surprising. A couple days of really stretching the quads and guess what? The knee thing is better!

I was looking on line at quad muscle info and a little blurb about tight quads may cause knee problems jumped out at me. Apparently, the article was right!

So stretch those quads, the calves, your hips, everything and see if some of your running ailments get better or disappear. And do those stretches correctly. The correct standing quad stretch is keeping your leg close to the body. Or you can do them laying on the floor on your side. And obviously, be careful not to overstretch and ease into any stretches where you have difficulty or pain. A little bit at a time. Go on line and look for the stretches also. There are a lot of sources out there. Some are easy enough to do without any instruction, but it never hurts to read up on any latest ideas.

See, you can teach an old dog new tricks!

Saturday, November 10, 2007

A plan has been hatched. Nancy (and I must give Nancy credit actually for coming up with the idea and logo!) and I were saying we needed a race in the near future. There is none, you say? Let's make our own. We are putting together a virtual race for Dec 8th (let's just say anywhere between the 7th and 9th -- see how accomodating these race directors are?!). Run 8miles on the 8th with all of your closest blogger friends.
Let us know if you are in. We will keep track of everyone who runs and times, and also hope that you will even write race reports. I doubt there will be tshirts unless anyone has a brilliant idea. We might come up with some ideas for prizes. Suggestions welcome. Hope you can join us!

Its a great way to keep motivated and continue with exercise and weight management through the holiday months. If you already have a race that day, you can use that as a base, just make sure you do 8!

Friday, November 09, 2007

I THINK MY PANTS ARE ON BACKWARDS!

At least that's what I was thinking this morning when getting dressed. I was wearing a suit I hadn't worn since last fall. Then, they were loose all over, due to a huge weight loss post-accident (which unfortunately I have since gained back). A lot of that was, I'm sure, due to muscle loss and atrophy. Today, they were (still) loose in the back (good thing!) but felt tighter in the front, where my quads are. A nice bonus to more running lately finally has me finding my quad muscles again. Yipee!

I wasn't expecting this. I would have expected it more this summer after all those 50 mile bike rides, and all the tris I did, but alas, that apparently never happened, probably explaining my consistently last place finishes at most of my tris (that and needing those skinnier tires I keep mentioning). It pretty much confirms for me then the greater necessity for me to continue on with my run buildup.

But now I get impatient, ready to do more, yet holding myself back to avoid injury. Its a battle I face constantly: wanting to run more or faster and yet being afraid of having an injury to deal with again. I keep looking for races to do here, but all I find are trail runs or 5ks, neither of which I want to do right now. Maybe a 5 mile or 10k? Nothing around. Unless I decide to do this: http://grturkeytrot.googlepages.com/home.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

PLAN B DAY.

Today was one of those days when it was good to have a plan B to fall back on. The running "schedule" I am going to use for the next couple of months calls for two days a week of weights, which I will then follow up with a 2 mile run after each. An easy recovery day.

I was all organized last night, and waking up at the 4:30 am time I've been doing lately, it was easy enough to get out of the house early enough and head to the gym. Not so early today to be the only one there, though.

When I went out to the car to start loading my stuff in for the day, I noticed my door opener didn't work. "Probably a dead battery," I thought, meaning the door lock opener. I had a dead battery all right, only it was the car! Now what?? And what was wrong? I couldn't think of any reason for my car battery to be dead, but there it was, completely dead. Didn't turn over at all.

It was before 6 am, so I checked the phone book, which fortunately I had one, and looked for the 24 hour services. There were several, but none listed their location. I wanted the closest one possible to get the car working quickly and get on with my day. I finally found one closest by, but it didn't advertise as 24 hour service. I took a chance and called anyway, but I'm sure I woke up the guy who answered.

Once he determined what I wanted, and had asked whether I left my lights on ("No!"), he said he only took cash. Fortunately, I had enough to cover the charge, but I was a little skeptical of his business practices. "How soon can you get here?" "I'm coming right over."

Coming "right over" meant 30 minutes later, even though he was located only about 10 minutes away. I was getting impatient and was just about ready to call again when he showed up at the door. Again, I was a little skeptical when I saw he showed up in a battered Toyota Camry (which leaked transmission fluid all over my driveway!) that he had to prop the hood up with a board! I was already starting to think of who else I could call when he left, figuring he would never get the thing started.

But lo and behold! Once he put the battery cables on my battery, my interior dome light came on. What?? I have no idea how that got left on. No one sat in my back seat in the past couple of days, and it was still light out enough when I got home that I wouldn't have needed it for anything anyway. And besides, doesn't that light come on when you open the door? How would I have known it had gotten turned on then? I guess it was my pointy head or something that bumped it, but it seems pretty hard to imagine. Either way, he got the car started and then told me just to let it run for about 20 minutes.

A quick check of the time and I could see it was too late to go to the gym, so plan B came into effect. I have some free weights at home, so while the car ran for 20 minutes or so to recharge, I did a modified weight routine. Once the car charged, I went out for my 2 mile run.

What a nice alternative plan though! Instead of killing myself with boredom on the treadmill after weights, I was able to go outside for a nice refreshing run in the brisk morning air. A few snowflakes were falling, it was that cold, but no wind, so again perfect weather for this time of year.

When things don't go as planned, its nice when the alternative turns out better!

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

TIME CHANGE.



Is anyone else having trouble adjusting to the time change, those of us who experience Daylight Savings Time? I have been all messed up on time since Sunday morning, when I woke up at 3:30 (or was it 4:30?), looked at the time on my cell phone (which I use for an alarm), then turned on the satellite TV and saw the same time, then looked at the wall clock, different time. I had enough moments of confusion as to what time it really was to somehow keep me awake from that point on. I didn't actually figure out what time it really was until I remembered that we fall back in the fall. Duh!

Since then though, I have needed to go to bed by 9 pm and keep waking up around 4, pretty much the same amount of sleep as before, just that hour earlier. And let me tell you, at 4 am it is pretty quiet everywhere. Its still too creepy early for me to feel like going out to run, and going to the gym that early is creepy. I did that yesterday. The gym in my work building is a private club, so its open 24/7, and there is only a staff person there during regular business hours, 8-5. Going there before the cows even get up means not only being the only one in the parking lot and building itself, other than a security guard, but being the only one in the gym. While its nice having the place to myself, I'm constantly looking over my shoulder or peeking around corners, and listening for every sound for the possibility of someone sneaking up and grabbing me or, when in the pool, holding my head under water. I don't even watch any scary movies because it seems my mind can come up with enough horror stories of its own!

And then there's the dilemma of my internal clock being at least an hour ahead of office hours, so that by 4 pm, I'm ready to leave! Yesterday I could feel myself getting crabbier by the minute the closer it got to 4:30, especially when I got a late in the day assignment, which is per usual anyway. I think the attorney knew my irritation, although she did not know why, and thanked me profusely after that, even though I got my attitude in check after I realized how surly I must have seemed!

Going out earlier to run Monday morning had its moments of humor, however. I managed to somehow be following the trash pickers' route, as I watched not one but several cars trolling through the neighborhood scouring for treasures that others had discarded. One woman, in a huge suburban blocking the entire street, was hell bent on getting a toilet into her car! I can only imagine! Would that now be a porta-potty or was she thinking of remodeling?

And of course there's nothing on TV at that hour to maybe lull me back to sleep, other than the early morning news shows recapping everything that has taken place over the past 5 days, or every informercial trying to convince you to buy something you don't need anyway. But wait, I did find Sesame Street on yesterday at 4:30 a.m., so assuming there are some kids up at that hour it isn't entirely mindless viewing.

I am hoping that by next spring at least, when DST again begins, that I will be not only adjusted to the time change but caught up on my sleep!

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

ITS COMING!

I don't know about you, but I'm not ready for this yet. Heck, I'm never ready for this! Last night's weather was truly ugly, with high winds, heavy rain/sleet/hail mixed. I was congratulating myself for having gotten my run in during the before dawn hours, because I knew there was the likelihood of bad weather later in the day, one of the main reasons why I like to get it done early.

This morning, planning a gym workout because of the continued high winds and rain, I noticed they had actually salted the roads sometime before the early morning hours. Ugh. I think the good weather days are behind us for a LONG time! Yes, I think I will continue planning that tropical winter vacation.

Monday, November 05, 2007

KEEPING IT SIMPLE

Today was my first run after the end of daylight savings time. It was nice to not be running in that darkest hour before dawn for a change. I know it will be only a few weeks, if that, before we return to the dark side again. The weather is changing as well, making gloves, tights, and earbands a requirement for all runs. The end of daylight savings time also effectively puts an end (for me) of any outdoor after work workouts. The only thing I hate more than working out after work is working out after work in the dark. I don't mind running in the dark in the morning, when the end result is daylight. I do mind running in the dark in the evening, not being able to use the bike path for safety because of darkness, and unwilling to risk the frenzied drivers trying to get home.

Today also starts another training schedule for me. After the tongue lashing my knees gave me this weekend for thinking why not? continue on with the same crash course training I did for the GR half, I realized a more sensible approach was necessary if I wanted to continue running without injury. Doubling your mileage in 3 weeks and then tripling it in 4 isn't a recommended course to follow, as I learned the hard way Saturday. That was a one-time deal.

I decided Saturday that my long run would now take me through the hills (if you did the half or marathon, you know the hilly area that eventually goes to Millenium Park). Not that the hills are horrible, but I realized just how tired my legs still were in going this route, instead of the flat bike path. My reasoning was two-fold, however. First, knowing that the bike path becomes impassable for most of the winter once the snow starts (they don't keep it clear), I wanted to start getting used to the hill route. Second, I felt it was time to start working a little harder on my runs; it was time to start putting some quality into running again. Once I reached Millenium Park, sensible me should have turned and gone back to my car on the flat bike path. Not so smart me decided to add another mile and a half, to round it out to 9, and turned the opposite way, only to find myself walking at 8 miles, thus defeating that whole plan.

During that extended walk, I decided I needed to look for a sensible buildup plan. Is it me, or are all these training plans obsessed with numbers? I seem to be one of those runners who fall between the cracks right now, because it seemed like all the "free" training schedules I could find were either too easy or much too hard, and just as hard to follow. I wanted something that would spell out for me a way to increase my weekly mileage without having to run x miles at this pace, then x miles at this pace, then, for example 3x___ at ____ pace. And on and on it went.

I've always followed some sort of schedule or another, nothing always written in stone, but simple to follow. Even my first marathon training schedule was so easy I was able to memorize it and used it for later marathons, even when I couldn't find the written version. And it obviously had a good result, based on my finishing times. I could probably go back to that schedule, but I am not in the same running shape I was then to start. I don't plan to do any speed workouts or hill repeats just yet. I know that the tried and true approach to building on my running comes mainly with doing the distance first, conditioning myself, and later adding those technical aspects of training.

Then I started thinking of the training schedule for the 25k race in May. Even that seemed a little too agressive, with the "expert" schedule having you run 6 days a week. With a little modification, I decided then to go with this plan. I'm not really sure if I can handle 5 days a week of running, since 6 is clearly too much, but if not, I think 4 days will work. I am actually going to start at 5 and see how it goes. Two days a week will only be short runs, probably not more than 20 minutes, and will follow a weight routine. I will swim two days a week, do a "continuous" run one day a week, a mid-week 5 miler, building on longer running intervals, and one weekly long run, starting back at 7.5 miles (a loop I can do from the park) and building until I reach my half marathon distance again. If all is successful, and I can accomplish this by the middle to end of December, then I will see what January brings. My plan for January is to do the Mississippi Blues half, but that mainly depends on travel costs more than anything else.

So, keeping it simple is clearly the way I will go. If anyone has any successful training programs they want to point me to, I welcome your suggestions.