Wednesday, November 28, 2007

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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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??

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


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


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


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:

Thursday, November 08, 2007


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


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


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


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.

Saturday, November 03, 2007


Good day and bad. By now you may have heard that Ryan Shay died while competing in the Men's Olympic Marathon Trials held in Central Park. Its sad for more than one reason. First, that such a young talent was taken away at such an early age. And next, I worry again that people will be condemning runners, when the truth is that it is such a small percentage who have problems, it should not be an issue. Sadly, it is.

Ryan is originally a Michigan native, and was winner of the 25k National Championships held in GR every year at the Fifth Third River Bank Run. Such a freak thing!

On the upside, 2nd place finisher, Dathan Ritzenhein, is also a Michigan native, and I have to claim my 15 min. of fame here.

When Dathan was 13, a group of us were doing indoor triathlons every year, and his dad was a part of the group. He and the son of another guy from our group needed a swimmer for their relay. I offered, since I was also doing the tri individually. I didn't know until that day what a phenomenon he was. I can't remember the outcome of the race, because obviously we didn't place, but from there on out I have followed his career through the years.

What impressed me most, though, was his first 5k race the following spring, when he was 14, and his time then was 16 something! It was incredible. From there, it has all been history, with all his successes.

I hope the best for him in his upcoming training, and am sincerely sorry about Ryan Shay. A huge loss to the running community.

While the thought of relaxing in this for a few months--on a tropical beach no less!--sounds ideal, I know that while it may be the triathlon off season--or will be after today's Ironman Florida and next week's 70.3 series championships, there is no off season in running.

All the fast, smart triathletes here use their tri off season to ramp up their running, which I think puts them ahead of the competition when the next season rolls around. Its continuous, its perpetual it seems, that they just keep training, in one form or another, all year round.

When I was into competitive running, I was SO glad for the racing season to be over because, truthfully, I was tired out and burned out. A couple of months off from serious training then became welcomed and expected. It gave me a chance to get caught up on all the household things neglected since early spring, and some of the family things I put off because I had been too tired otherwise.

But since I don't feel like I have really worked that hard this year--I know, I've done a lot, but not at the same level!--I plan to use the "off season" to build on my running. I may not have slacked off, like it seems in a way, but when you go as slow as I do, you don't feel the burnout. Maybe that's good in a way.

That being said, my off season plans will be geared mainly looking for and training for races I want to do next year, whether here or somewhere more sensibly warm. I've said it before, and I can't emphasize enough, how important it is for me to get this running thing in better shape. Running was where it all started for me. Running can be done almost anywhere at any time of the year. Not too much special equipment needed. And I know that building on my running strength again will make next year's triathlon season more successful, and less frustrating (that and some skinnier tires, but that's another story!).

Here's a tentative list of what I'm thinking of:

And that brings me right back to the "off season" again. With that kind of schedule, I think I will surely be ready for an off season next year!