Wednesday, December 28, 2011

OperationJack Half Marathon Recap

The plan was to run my half on the 26th, like everyone else, but family was in from Baltimore, and I wanted to spend some time with them….so I postponed my run until the 27th.

Then my MIL called and invited us over for dinner, to arrive at 6. That meant that I had to squeeze my half in less than 2 hours. I’ve done it before, but not for a while, and only after much more training.

I left work a bit early (shhhh) so that I could be ready to run at 4. MY parents called to say that they were going to be stopping by around 4, which was good, as they’d left some things at our house after Christmas. I got home, got changed, got all my stuff ready (Tracey had already filled my water botlles-THANKS!), and waited for my folks. They came not long after 4, and sadly I was only able to see them for about 4 minutes before they headed south again. Bad weather was predicted, and ice was already falling.

I hopped on the treadmill (I need to name that thing) around 4:20, and began to pound out the miles. I was watching Lord of the Rings (Fellowship of the Rings), but I really couldn’t hear it over the thump thump thump of my heart pounding its way out of my chest….with weather getting worse, and the time needed to travel over the river and through the woods, I stopped after 8 miles. My first 5k fell in 30:26, but I hit 10k at 64 minutes. ouch. it is very hot running on the treadmill, and I was tired, malnourished, poorly rested, etc.

I went to dinner, but not until after scarfing down a clif builder bar.  gotta love that quick 20g of protein, especially knowing that dinner was spaghetti…Zach snapped this picture of me, a pre-emptive one, but I wasn’t sure if I’d have the chance to take one tonight. If you look closely, you can see the mon-chi-chi tucked under my right arm. Woah. I need a stylist!

100MEDIA_IMAG0954My plan for today was to run my remaining 5.1 miles after I got home, so I tried to plan my eating and drinking accordingly while I was at work. This can be tricky, especially since I get really hungry around 3. I made it through, though, and got ready to run soon after I got home.

Today’s first 5k fell in 28:58, nearly half a minute faster than yesterday. Of course today I knew that I wasn’t gunning for 13.1 miles…..I started to tire a bit after that, and did fartleks to keep my mind occupied. With a big push in the last half mile, I crossed today’s line in 48:41. So? well….earlier today @iRunNewEngland tweeted that he did a 5.19 mile run in 48:47, and I wanted to beat it. I thought I had, until I just realized that his run was .09 miles FURTHER than mine. DAG-NABBIT!!!!!!

My total time for the half was 2:08. My goal for my “A” half is 1:40. Looks like I have some work to do in the next 6 months.

Bring it.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Fight the good fight....

Although i try very hard to eat healthy food, exercise frequently, and try to maintain a positive outlook, there are days when i just can't seem to come up with the strength to do it. Ever get that way? No? Just me? Hm. Ok, change of subject then..
Today I wanted to go off station (that's what we call leaving the property here at my hospital) and grab some food. Last week my splurge was lunch at the local Chinese Buffet. it was a complete protein fest, and it was very tastey. but i didn't want to plunk down another ten bucks, so i opted for Subway.
Seems reasonable. We eat there quite often, and I usually only get the same thing, so i had my mind all made up even before i closed my office door and headed out.
My usual is a 12" Italian Herb and Cheese Spicy Italian sub with provolone cheese, all ove the veggies except onions and banana peppers, and a squirt of chipotle sauce. on rare occasion I'll have the same thing except it will be cold cut (all turkey based!) combo. I never get chips or drink.
sometimes I will only eat half of the sub, but that is the exception not the rule. I just don't feel full after half. after the full, though, i feel bloaty and have a tough time bending down to tie my shoes. If only they made these in my size, i guess it wouldn't be a problem:
 anyway, today when i went to subway, i ordered my usual. when i got back to the office, i ate it all up, like a good little doober. waste not, want not, right?
i have been trying really hard to log all of my food (and if i worked out or ran, i would include those too)(note: no real place for #plankaday, but i AM doing that...)...where was I? oh, right. yea. i log my chow at i went there to put my sub in, and when i looked it up i saw that it came in right around 1400 calories. WHAT???? yep. i was amazed. i have something like 60 calories left for the day. i could earn more by running, but i don't have that chance tonight, so....yea.
when i tweeted it, a buncha people chimed in and said that they were surprised by the high calories, and for the love of God, just WHAT did I eat???? so i went to the subway page and looked it up. Here's basically how my lunch broke down:
2x 6" spicy italian with the works = 480
2x 6" italian herb and cheese bread = 500
cheese = 100
sauce = 100
WOW! i was at 1180 calories. a bit off from the one i found on myfitnesspal, but in the grand scheme, not very far off at all! looks like next time i go i will be dropping the bread and the sauce, getting my meal down to around 600 calories, which is acceptable to me. oh, wait. that one isn't listed here. I will likely opt for the grilled chicken and baby spinach salad. dry. Stats? cals=130. sugars=4 (????) fat=2.5, PRO=19 (yea, baby!)
Do you find it difficult to get quality calories when you dine out, either for a quick lunch or an actual meal? And really, if i am just going to get a grilled chicken salad, i may just as well bring one from home. That way i KNOW it will be fresh.
Keep fighting the good fight. It isn't easy, but it WILL be worth it.

thanks for stopping by,

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Re-Recap of Philly2011

I set out from home early the friday before the race. I was to be driving solo, but I had set up my experimental copilot, and was ready to hit the road. I planned to take video every now and then, and at some point in time make one of those fancy schmancy sped up movies of my trip, like the
kids do over there on the ewe tube. I have no idea why sheep are involved, but whatever.

As I headed south by southwest, I came across this sign. I decided right then and there to take a picture of this sign ever time i came across a new one. As I would be travelling in 6 states, it might be a fun little project to occupy my time. This one, however, was the ONLY one that I got. The others are in areas that were waaaay to busy for me to stop in, so i changed my plan to photograph each one of the "welcome to" signs. I have none. Same reason. That, and I kept forgetting........
After a few hours of boredom interspersed with moments of shear terror (both for me and the driver of the semi who i cut off JUST IN TIME not to be smeared along a bridge railing) and moments of WTF? (garmin: "continue on this route for the next 16 miles." so i moved into the passing lane. 30 seconds later, Teri said, "take exit ### in 200 yards. Turn RIGHT NOW!" WHAAAAT? i swear it was 'mayhem' from those insurance commercials......). I took the next exit (300 feet later) and parked on a side street to compose my self, check my shorts, and recalculate. The next 15 miles were spent driving along some two lane roads that wove through some very nice neighbourhoods. I ended up getting back onto the highway somewhere near Princeton. At any rate, I was ahead of schedule, Pandora was playing some fun tunes, and life was good. If not lonely...
Later Friday evening I met up with Colleen (@tryn2bfit), Damian (@running2fitness), and Nicole (@nicolebshapinup) and we headed into town for the expo. Packet pickup was a breeze, mostly due to the fact that it took us 5 times around the block to find a parking spot. We managed, and spent some time looking at logo items and such. I should have made my purchases then, instead of on Saturday, as there were no lines at all at 8:30 friday night. (pro-tip:go to the expo LATE).
I must admit that I got a little....choked up when I got back to the hotel and took my bib out. I've never had one with my name on it, nor have I ever had one that included the word "marathon". Today, I had both.
I was to be helping out at the ArcticEase Kid's Fun Run on Saturday morning, so once back at the hotel I walked to the nearby grocery store, got some food, and tried to get some sleep. I woke up early and cruised back into Philly, only to be redirected because of the Rothman's 8k course. No worries. I just followed my instincts and ended up finding a parking spot about half a mile from the Start/Finish.
I'll put up pictures from the ArtcicEase Kid's Race in a future posting. Suffice to say the kids had a blast, the medals and shirts were top notch, and the parents had to be told more than once (more like 9 times) to back away from the kids and let them participate in the warm up. And the race. Sheesh. Check your helicopters at the door, folks! It is just a fun run. Something that kids do ALL THE TIME, without us asking them to. Relax....
After that was done I wandered around the city a bit, taking in some of the historic (and hysteric) sites that Philadelphia has to offer. Back at the expo, I managed to talk for a few minutes with this gentleman. It was weird, as I know he has no recollection of the event, but I thanked him for autographing and personalizing 2 books for me last December.

Mr. Hal Higdon

To his right I spied another running legend and chatted with him, too. He congratulated me on my first marathon, and said that one of the best things about a first time race is that you are "guaranteed a PR!"
Mr. Bart Yasso

Later that evening, after an hour of  getting turned around and frustrated, I joined some of the other members of our ArcticEase group for a mini-tour of their offices. All I can say about it is...wait. There's a knock at the door. (Spy hole reveals some big, burly dude wrapped in black ArcticEase wraps and carrying a shovel. Nevermind. I'm not going to tell you anything.) OKOK, not really. They aren't like that. Let's just say that I was honored to have a tour, and am very happy for Carol and her company. They have done great things, and will soon be exploding onto the world scene. Mark my words.
Back at the hotel I layed out my "flat Gene" (sorry, duh. no pics), and got ready to sleep. I had to be up at 3:45, so i didn't want to waste a nano-second. I got up in time, ate, calmly got dressed, packed my bags, and went down to warm up the car. I was to be bringing Colleen to the start with me, and little did I know it at the time, Nicole and Damian. Anyway, I was warming up the car and resetting my garmin when Colleen called to say she was ready. I got in the car, drove to the portico, picked her up, and headed out into the darkness. About 100 yards after turning onto the main road (S. Trooper Rd.), we heard some thumping. She said, "what was THAT?" I said, "MY GARMIN WAS ON THE ROOF!!!!"
I pulled into a restaurant parking lot and we both got out to go look for it. Then Colleen said, "My garmin is back at the hotel!!!" Things happen for a reason, i guess, and we were unable to find Teri. As Colleen headed cross lots to meet me at the hotel, I walked back to the car, scouring the side of the road for any sign of Teri. Nothing. BUT! There she was, resting on the trunk! WAHOOO~. I yelled to Colleen, she came back, we went to the hotel, she got her garmin, and we were off again.
Quick swing by the airport to get the others, and we headed downtown. I parked in the garage at the Franklin Institute, and although it cost me $20, it was still cheaper than the $36 parking ticket i earned on Saturday. (RATS! I gotta pay that sucker!!!)

The job isn't finished until the paperwork is done.

There were mobs of people everywhere, and it was only about 545 in the morning. Chilly, but not too bad. The "disposable" sweats that I bought were doing just fine. Quick stops along the way to take care of some last minute paperwork, and we were all but ready to run!
Nicole was kind enough to take a picture of the group of us and even tolerated my craziness. Gotta appreciate that in a near stranger, especially at 615 in the morning.....

Colleen, Damian, Me
 The race nearly started a bit late, due to some mysterious delay, but "thanks to the hard working city workers", we started on time. It took me nearly 20 minutes to cross the start line. A massive wave of humanity headed down the street and spilled into the city. I would have liked to have seen it from above: a multi-colored river flowing through the streets, bobbing up and down.
After a while I managed to take a few pictures, but nothing really spectacular. Lots of legs and butts, crushed paper cups, and a few signs. I wish I had snapped pictures of the signs, as some were quite creative. See my other report for how i felt during the race. I don't want to rehash it here for ya.....I know time is precious, and you've already squandered away plenty reading this post.
All in all, it was a fun experience! At the end of the race, I felt like the guy in the black shirt, pictured here:

c'mon, dude. seriously. GET YOUR ARMS UP!
 I can't wait for the next race, though I don't know if it will be a destination race or not. I would REALLY like to have as many of my family members with me as possible, next time, even though I know it is tough to be a spectator at some of these longer events. But their great, and I couldn't really ask for a better support crew. Love you guys! (+1, me)

Thanks for stopping by.

NOTE: due to being interrupted several times while writing this (seriously. can't people see i'm working here? oh, wait...i was actually AT work when i did this....anyway...) I managed to leave out 3 other people. John and Josh, a father and son team, and EvaT, a lawyer from NYC, were also part of our group. John is a former Marine, he blogs here, and tweets via @dbltimeitmarine. Eva, as aforementioned, works in NYC. She's run several marathons, and has a dog who loves to chase bunnies when Eva takes the dog for runs. Eva blogs here.
Great people. Josh ran the half marathon, which was his first one ever! Congrats, Josh, and welcome to the 'family'.....

Monday, November 28, 2011

Only 3 different kinds of problems?

One of the books that I am currently reading is "The Checklist Manifesto" by Atul Gawande. It is non-fiction (the only kind of book i read), and pretty much tries to convince the reader that everything can be broken down into a checklist, and this will make tasks more efficient, safe, etc. etc.
I won't bore you with the details; I am actually not far enough into the book to give it a fair review. I do, however, want to share a few ideas with you that are presented early in the book.
Gawande proposes that there are really only 3 different kinds of problems which we face: simple, complicated, and complex.
  • Simple problems are those akin to baking a cake from a mix. Simple and few steps, pretty much guaranteed success if you follow the recipe.
  • Complicated problems can be likened to launching a rocket to the moon. It can be broken down into several simple problems, and once success is achieved, you can pretty much follow the same steps with other rockets and expect success.
  • Complex problems are ones like raising a child: "Although raising one child may provide experience, it does not guarantee success with the next child". Outcomes remain highly uncertain.

Think about the problems that you face in your life. Can they be grouped into these categories? Can the more difficult ones be broken down into smaller problems?
If your problems are like mine, most of them can be hacked into smaller pieces. I will be looking to find which ones have the highest possibilites of success, and do at least ONE THING every day to move toward resolution.
I invite you to do the same.

Friday, November 25, 2011

"Worst Parade EVER!"

That was one of my favourite signs seen during my first ever marathon. Last Sunday, me and 10,000 of my closest friends ran the Philadelphia Marathon. One of those people was Colleen, from The Fit Bee. You can read her report here. As she said, a big special THANK YOU shout out to ARCTIC EASE for helping to make this possible. They are a major sponsor of the event, as well as a big supporter of me and my running craziness. Their product played a BIG roll in my training and recovery from the event.
Imma start right off by saying that it was a great, wonderful, emotional experience. Sounds cliche, for sure, but for those of you who have been there, you'll understand. Sadly, my wife and kids weren't able to make the trip with me, but I am glad to have had some friends in attendance. One really cool thing is that I got to run into some family friends who I haven't seen in over 10 years. Talk about a small world!
The beginning of the race flew by; I was able to stay between 9-945 pace, which is what i had planned. My intent was to go for slightly negative splits over the second half, so if i had any chance of doing that, i had to go a little slower in the beginning. Good thing i did, too....
My main concern going into the event were my feet. One pair of sneakers makes my RIGHT foot hurt after 8 ish miles, while the other makes my LEFT foot hurt after only about 6 miles. I chose the former, and taped my left foot just in case. I was fine until near mile 10 when the right foot started to ache right where i thought it would. So far, though, the left was fine. The crouds were amazing; i did my best to pump them up as our little group passed them by. It was pretty cool to hear them come to life after i was raising my arms up in the air NFL style.
Around mile 15, i noticed that every time my left foot swung forward it felt like there was water sloshing around my foot. Strange. So of course i kept running, and around mile 17 (i think?) i finally stopped and took off my sneaker. My sock was soaked with sweat, and then i realized what the sloshing was; the tape had gotten pretty tight after my foot started to swell, and there was fluid trapped around the end of my foot. I quickly took the tape off, rubbed my foot a bit, put my sock and shoe on, and got back into the race.
Ah. sweet relief. for my left, but not right. the right continued to bother me the entire race, and by the end it was nearly impossible to run on. I knew that the funcitionality hadn't been compromised, so i pushed through the pain as much as i could. The real show-slower for me was the cramps in my left quad, specifically my VMO, indicated in this picture:

What was it doing? well, it was doing its own thing, actually. Sometimes, when i planted my foot, it would ball up, other times it wouldn't. Sometimes when i lifted my leg, it would flatten out completely; disappearing under my skin. Odd. So i stopped a few times to stretch it out, but then my hamstrings started to cramp, so i just interjected more walking into my pace. I watched sadly as the 4:30 pace group passed me and then disappeared out of sight. Strange.....I tried to drink some watered down gatorade, but almost puked it up, so i decided NOT to do that anymore and just gut it out. The last 3 miles were horrifically slow for me, but hey! I was moving forward and not passed out under blankets like a few people I saw off to the side.
As i climbed the last hill to the finish chute, people were cheering for us like banshees! It was great to see that many people still out there cheering, so late into the morning. The finish area was pure organized chaos. I've never seen a finish chute so long. the thing HAD to be 3 blocks long. well, maybe. i dunno. i ducked out early and headed to meet my pals.
The Expo was big, and fun, but not quite as big as I had expected. I met up with some other bloggers, albeit briefly, and that was pretty cool. What an intense group of young ladies I met!

Sadly, I can only remember Amanda (third from left). She has a better recap over on her blog. Their conversation started to turn to getting carded, etc., and I was all, "I've been OVER 21 longer than i was UNDER 21, so, yea. Nice to meet you, have a great race!" and I went back to my middle aged pals and probably talked about bunions, AARP memberships, and early-bird specials at Cracker-Barrel.
My (not middle aged) friend Colleen snapped this photo of me after the race. I am very greatful to have been able to participate in the event. As usual, my wife was UBER supportive, tolerand, and encouraging. ArcticEase was accomodating and helpful, too. Colleen,  Dan (@cubicledad), and others from twitter and IRL were helpful in keeping me going and keeping my head on straight. I greatly appreciate all that they did and continue to do for me. I've set my sights pretty high for 2012, but hey. That's what we do, right?
2011 Philadelphia Marathon 4:40:56

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Oops, I did it again....-Spears-

Once, on travel to Hawai'i, I had rented a Suzuki Samurai. It seemed like a good, fun idea at the time. Of course, since I'd never driven in one, I wanted to go topless. Every morning, before I drove around to get coffee (this is also prior to my recent days as a runner), I would put the top down and hit the streets. One morning, my then new bride (not Tracey....and yes, she knows....) decided to come along with me. We parked in front of a coffee shop that had an elevated porch, and went in to get our goodies. Upon exiting, I climbed up into the driver's seat, but noticed that she had remained on the porch. At first I thought that she was just admiring me from afar, but when she didn't move in my direction, I said something like, "c'mon, let's get going!" Because, you see, I am very demanding always in a hurry to get to the next adventure. She didn't budge. I put the key in the ignition, but it wouldn't turn. I cursed the rental company, and tried again. I even checked to see that I had actually put the vehicle in PARK. Yep. All set there. Still no action on the porch, and the car wasn't starting, either.
Finally she said, "our Samurai is over THERE..." and indicated a twin vehicle 3 spots down, with the top off. The one I was in had the top UP. I am very much an attention to detail person, but considering that I probably had a large coffee and SEVERAL sweet treats in my sticky paws, I really didn't notice....
I hopped out of the wrong Samurai, got into the right one, and we drove off. That incident has always been a source of a smile for me.....

Then, just last week, something ELSE strange happened to me....(i know, SHOCKER.)

I went to the bank as part of my saturday morning chore ritual. No biggie. I parked, went inside, stood in line for about 2.5 seconds, handed over all kindsa cash from my stripper business checks and stuff (stuff? like what, exactly, do they take at banks that qualifies as 'stuff'? get over it....), then I went back outside.
I opened the car door, and  as I sat down, I noticed the peculiar absence of a penny from the floor that has been there for months. penny. WAIT!!! WHAT THE???? NO FLOOR MATS??? WHO THE....HOW THE..? Just WHO STEALS RUBBER MATS??? I quickly looked over at the passenger's floor as my blood pressure begain to sky-rocket. WHAT....??? BOTH MATS ARE GONE?
From the bank parking lot? WHO DOES THIS???? I reached into my pocket to retrieve my  
keys, and out of the corner of my eye i noticed blue gloves on the seat next to me.
Oops, I did it again.I had gotten into the WRONG car. I jumped out, looked around, and said, "SORRY!" then walked over to my car, got in (after double checking for mats), and swiftly drove away. Some of you may have seen the tweet that I sent out soon after this happened...Why not share my adventures, right? When I got home, I told Tracey about it, and of course she, in turn, told Bryce. Do you think that little stinker would let me off the hook? Not for a second. Later that day, he said, "Better check the license plate before we get in that car, Dad...."
Touche little man, touche...

Wednesday, November 2, 2011


I found this on a facebook page. It is from the "Strong is the New Skinny" site. I printed it out and have it taped to the wall next to my desk. Please forgive the coarse language, but I believe that it helps make the point.
Over the course of the next two weeks I have to really focus on getting through the Philadelphia Marathon. It will be my first marathon, but not my last. I have not given as much time to training for this event as it deserves; it was easier to eat the pizza than to run on the treadmill.
Not any more. I have goals. I will achieve them. Pizza will no longer stand in my way. Either will chocolate chip cookies, brownies, or french fries (unless they are baked, then all bets are off.....).
After Philly, I will be gunning toward new goals which will be determined between now and then, and then ruminated on for most of 26.2 miles. Look out, 2012. I'm coming for YOU.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Dad of the Year I am not…

We love us some Halloween up in here. Each year we have been the only house in the cul-de-sac to decorate. Until this year. One of our neighbors also made a graveyard in their front yard, which was really cool to see. We do up the deck, yard, and street-side windows. Inside, we hang ghosts from the ceiling, have craft-y pumpkins around the house, and a themed table cloth.

Somehow, though, we always seem to be behind the curve on pumpkins that we carve. This year we did them on Thursday. Bryce got into it, for about 2 handfuls, then was ‘done’. His face looks like we just played a game of ‘got yer nose!’

IMAG0837Mom did hers a bit less detailed than in years past, as she was feeling a bit under the weather Thursday evening. Z convinced Mom to do his, too, and B convinced me to do his. Truth be told, it was probably safer that way anyway….Mike is in college, so we are short one this year, but in case you can’t come see, here is our ‘offering’ for 2011:


So about the award? Yes, well….

Our town has a Egg Haunt and Costume parade at one of the downtown parks. This year was the 10th anniversary, and it is sponsored by the Parks and Recreation Department. I am on the Commission, so I thought that it would be important for me to make a showing. Oh, right, and I thought that B would have a good time. Primarily that. Really. So anyway…I knew that T would be out of town with M, and that Z would be,….well, I really had NO idea what he would be up to, but that is for another day. I did figure that he wouldn’t want to go, so it would be a great chance for B and I to spend some fun time together. When I told him about it on Friday, he was psyched!

Tonight we started to get ready at 530, in anticipation of the 6 pm start. I found some old plastic eye mask, and helped B get into his costume. We were in great spirits, and he posed for this photo before we left the house:

IMAG0843Darling, isn’t he? He’s never seen an Iron Man movie, but that was THE only thing he wanted to be for Halloween…So after some last minute adjustments (boots, mittens, hat), we piled into the car and headed off. There is something HYSTERICAL to me about having a mini-IronMan in the booster seat….no?

He looks like he’s ready to blast off somewhere!


So we get downstreet, and the park is EMPTY. It isn’t a big park, maybe half the size of a soccer field, so it isn’t like we can’t SEE the people. I whipped out my {droid} and pulled up the web site. WHAT THE……SATURDAY? THE PARADE WAS SATURDAY???? ARE YOU FLIPPING KIDDING ME???

how the heck was I gonna ‘splain this one? So I turned to B and said, “Dad goofed. The event was yesterday.” Dejectedly, the little Hero hung his head. He said, “that’s ok. we’ll do it next year.” I swear I almost cried. Instead, I thought quickly and said, expecting the answer ‘no’, “You want to have our OWN parade? Just you and me, walking up and down the street?”

“SURE!”, he yelled, and was opening the door before I could turn around. We met on the sidewalk, looked both ways, then crossed the street. We skipped up the street, hand in hand, laughing at each other’s lunacy. I said things like, “hey, that’s a great costume!” and “I hope you have a great time!” and he laughed along with me. Once at the end of the street, which serves as a parking lot for the courthouse and train museum, we went over to one of the static displays for more photos:

IMAG0845Good thing he came along, as a runaway train was about to crash into downtown, killing hundreds of innocent men, women, and children (and likely some guilty ones, too!)

One can never be too sure, and it is great to have a good guy on your side when the going gets tough!IMAG0846

Then, because Iron Man is such an iconic American Hero (I think. I honestly have NO idea of his story….), we took this opportunity…


Suddenly, the wind started to pick up and blow VERY HARD. Debris was flying all around town. Small cars were being tossed about like toys! A tree was just about to fall onto a small crowd of children who had gathered seeking an autograph! WHAT COULD WE DO?????

IMAG0847Problem solved!

Have a great and safe Halloween!!!


Monday, October 17, 2011

"I'm Just Lumpy"

Today's post comes to me via email from a running co-worker in Montana. She's been a distance runner for much of her life, and is now works as an RN at a VA in Montana. We met at the coaching course that I took last spring. Here she shares a story that ties in with Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
Ladies and gentlemen, please give a nice, warm "Accountability" welcome to Tova! Take it away, Tova...

I would like to start out with a disclaimer before I dive into my story.  Please be advised this is my own story I am sharing when I underwent “further evaluation” for a breast lump.  While it will be seemingly entertaining for you to read, please understand breast cancer affects several women and men and it is something I don’t mess with.  It is the most common cancer for women and is the second leading cause of cancer death for us too…over 40,000 women die yearly from it.

I had just turned the ripe old age of 30 and found myself rapidly falling apart.  You could say maybe I was going through a midlife crisis because my young adult life was over.  On the day of my birth, 30 years weighed heavily on my shoulders.  I had just started running again, wasn’t eating well, and at the time was stressed over the fact that my life flashing before my eyes.  I came down with a cold.  Looking the polar opposite of “the picture of health” I sat in my doctors office.  The nurse called me back and weighed me.  Awesome.  Let the humiliation begin.  She escorts me to a room, takes my vitals, asks me why I’m there.  Then leaves me to feel and look like death warmed over. 

I had thought I had an understanding with my doctor.  I don’t get in his way.  He doesn’t get in mine.  I tell him what is going on.  “I have a cold.  Maybe cough too.  I’ve had it for a few weeks-maybe six.  I’m training for a marathon and I can’t run ‘cause I’m having a hard time breathing.  What do you think about a Z-Pack and a rescue inhaler?”  His reply:  “Huh.  Well let’s take a listen to you.”  At this point I whine to him about not needing to…blah blah blah…and like a good doctor he tells me I have no choice and to get up on the table.  While he’s listening to my lungs he says, “When was your last breast exam?  Do you do self exams?”  Hmmm.  Not sure where he was going with this…I replied, “I’ve calved out four kids.  My last breast exam was the last time I had a baby.  A few years ago.  I’ve felt some lumps but I think their just fibrous.”  He removes his stethoscope from his ears, pauses for effect, then hands me a gown to put on and leaves the room.  Oh no…

After the mortifying experience of a breast exam filled with blushing, holding my breath, and gritting my teeth while I answered more of his questions, he suggests I have a mammogram.  Oh.  And he’ll give me the z-pack but I’m banned from running for 10 days to give my lungs a rest.  “A what?!?!?  I’m 30 years old!  I’m just lumpy!  And I can’t run?!  Who are you?!  The Grim Reaper?”  Chuckling at my obvious dismay, he tells me there are two areas that don’t “feel normal.”  While it could be nothing it could also be something.  And he needed to know for sure.  And he told me I needed to know. 
With a sickly feeling in my stomach I arrived at the hospital for my mammogram.  What was going to happen?  I may have had four kids but I have “little going on up top” if you catch my drift.  How were the jaws of life going to produce any discernable images of cancer when I had little to offer to the machine?  After much manipulation and stellar range of motion on my part, I felt as though any excess skin starting at my wrists was scraped up toward my breasts.  Excess skin under my chin was scraped down.  Concerned my nose would be included in the image because I didn’t realize EXACTLY what was considered breast tissue at this point, I relayed my concerns to the tech and nurse.   They were wonderful, got my humor, and assured me only my ears would be included in the films and not my nose.

I ended up having a normal mammogram.  During the whole experience I began to reflect on what I had done and what I still needed to do…as a mom, as a daughter, as a sister, as a wife, and as a nurse.  Scares like a lump, a bump, a bleed, or an abnormal lab value really put life in perspective for us.  This is good-the silver lining.  The normal mammogram for me was a get out of jail for free card.  The event wasn’t to be ignored-I considered it a wake-up call. 

Thank you for allowing me to share your story, Tova! And now, back to my regularly scheduled mindlessness.
Be Well,

Friday, October 14, 2011

GET OUTSIDE! (please)

See that picture over there? Yea. I need to attend a workshop on taking self portraits with my {droid}. I stink at it....and no, i don't have gas (at least not in this picture).
I took myself out for another trail run on wednesday while my wife and youngest son were gone to watch our middle son and his Freshman football team whoop a$$ on a team that beat them earlier in the season. I missed the game, but was very happy to hear the results and the highlights as acted out by Bryce in the living room. Good times!
Wednesday was streakday #11 for me. A new record. Such a great feeling to get a run in every day. Pretty much my only criteria was that the run needed to be a minimum of 2 miles. Some days were exactly that, but mostly because of time constraints, and not energy or fitness levels. I do, though, need to get more GenUCan. Could always use more of that, so if you are looking for stocking stuffers, etc....hint hint........I like Lemonade, Chocolate (who wouldn't?), and the blueberry...
Anyway, I ran on a trail system in Lebanon, NH. Pretty darned hilly (1328ft elevation gain over the 10k loop), but I really like it out there. It is one of the first systems that I ran on when I started back on this running thing. The 'out' loop runs along the ridgeline, and the original plan was to run the same trails on the way back, but due to some concerns about the darkness on the trail (no light with me!), I chose the 'lower' trail that stayed just downhill from the ridgeline. I'd never been on that particular trail, and found that i really liked it! At one point I ran pretty much straight into a bog (luckily, I didn't fall and die, because that sort of thing actually As I tried to scramble out along a rock, it turned out to be a FAKE ROCK (piles of leaves), and my feet got muddy anyway. Normally I wouldn't care a bit, but I had to go get some items at the grocery store on the way it was, my lower legs were splattered with trail mud and sticks, so that was cool. oh, and I had TWO hitchhikers. yep, TICKS. thankfully I felt them before they started digging into my flesh.
Here's the trail, about 1.5 miles from the car, on my way back. I must say that I really enjoy running in areas like this, and wish that I could make a living at it, because I would love that. Just sayin'....if someone wants to pay me to just run around the woods every day, testing things, writing about them, etc...well, pop a note in the comment section! HAHAHAHA...yea, well, i know that isn't going to happen, so i'll stick with my day job! In the mean time I'll keep going back out into the woods as often as I can, huffing and puffing like a mad man, trying to outpace myself.
I've thought of some pretty cool things for 2012 on my recent runs, but need to run them by my training/events manager (Love you +1) before I go public with them. You know how it is....
I leave you with a thought:
Do what you like to do, as often as you can do it, because there WILL come a day when you can't. For me, that day will suck, so I am going to try to do the little things more often. (Heads up.....)

Be Well,

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

My Longest far!

See what I did there?
Yesterday I ran the greatest distance that I have ever run. I had planned to run 18 miles. Up until I left the house, I wasn't quite sure where I would run. I had two options in mind: 1) run the CHaD Half Marathon course, then do one of the loops twice to make up the extra miles, or 2) run along a rail trail that I have heard about in a nearby town. Not being very fond of running in traffic or on boring roads, I opted for the unknown; the rail trail.
I knew that started near a community style gym in Lebanon, NH, so i drove over there around 9. I found a little trail out back, so after getting my shoes on, making sure that my hydration packs were all set, and starting my Garmin....((*#&*$^(#$(*& GARMIN!!! WTF???? seriously???? WHY WHY????? you were on the charger ALL STINKING NIGHT and when i double checked, you said "Battery Charging Complete" on your cute screen!!!! WHAT DID YOU DO IN MY GYM BAG THAT DEPLETED YOUR BATTERY?????
oh. wait. press POWER, MODE, and ENTER button all at the same time....right. i recall having done that if i can just contort my fingers....oh. duh. take the flippin thing OFF first....ok, ok, ok. no stress. just an 18 miler looming......
ok. Thank you, Teri (GARmin) for joining us today.....BEEP!
So off i trotted....for about 1/4 miles, then....heap big pile of debris blocking my way. I peered around the more trail. WHAT? i back tracked and went into the gym to ask about the trail. Oh! the OTHER side of the parking lot. yes, by that BIG SIGN announcing the rail trail....duh....
So off i (finally) went. I had set Teri to beep at me at 4.5 miles, at which point I would turn around, go back to the car, restock my water, drink some GENUCAN, and run back and do it again for a total of 18 miles. Seems simple enough.
The trail is hard-packed gravel. Mostly. There are some places that are a bit wet and therefore muddy, but that was ok with me. The morning was still chilly and foggy in parts. This made for some interesting scenery along the trail, and helped to keep my mind occupied. I tried very hard not to look at Teri until the turn around BEEP. I was happy to learn that I covered that first 4.5 with relative ease!

Beautiful morning for a run!

One thing that I did notice was that it was a bit of a challenge for me to keep an even pace that was where it should be. I am not used to running long distances, and I know that I should keep the longer distances at a slower pace than usual. I decided that a 10:00 mile would be 'good', and bounced around that for most of the trip.
give me pain in my right foot! :(
When I got back to the car I noticed that Teri hadn't beeped for the second leg, which was a bit confusing...but I drank my drinks, took some gels, and swapped my shoes. I had been running in my Asics Gel Speedstar5's, and as ususal, right around mile 8 i started to get a pain in the ball of my right foot. I switched to my trusty Adidas something or others, and off I went.
About half a mile from the car, Teri beeped. Confused, I plodded on. The day was warming up, but I decided to keep my clothing the way it was. Long sleeve tech tee topped with an ArcticEase sleeveless tech tee. The same one I am wearing in this photo. Yea, that's me, chatting it up with Gronkowski. Hohum...ahahaha...

 Where was I? Oh! running along the trail. Yea, my mind was all over the place during the run. I was listening to Marathon Talk, specifically the episode with Bart Yasso. It was very entertaining and informative. I got back to the place where Teri first beeped, and of course, no beep. So i went a little farther (further?) along and came to a really nice spot along Mascoma Lake. This reminded me of one of the best reasons to live in New England. (I keep wanting to say "live in Vermont", but the picture was taken in New Hampshire, so....anyway, I decided to keep going and see how I did. I tweeted something like "longest run ever! at 14 miles and the car is at least 5 miles back!" and kept going. I sent Tracey some messages letting her know that I was indeed still alive. Off I went.
The next few miles just rolled along, and before I knew it, I was at 16 miles. Only two miles left to reach my goal!!!! THIS WAS SOOOOO EXCITING....but wait, there's MORE!!! yep. Car was now at least SEVEN miles away....silly, silly math. (This, my readers, is why you need to pay attention in Algebra class!) So I turned around at the 16 mile mark and headed back. Nothing really special happened on the way to the car, except that I ran out of drinks at around mile 21. I musta been a bit delusional, because I kept thinking things like, well, looks like this will be right around 23 miles. why not just keep going until 26.2, just to say that I did it? Luckily I have a lot of common sense, so i stopped when i got to the car. Distance? 23.35 miles in 4:03. The last mile and a half were TOUGH. I'd run 100meters, walk 25 or so, repeat. The heat was getting to me, and my hips were aching.
But I DID IT~! I did my 18 miles, and then some. And i lived. And i felt alive! What a great feeling. Of course, as the day wore on, my legs got a bit stiff, but I wrapped with ArcticEase, took a 30 minute nap with my legs up, and then moved around and stretched all evening until i fell asleep.
And I slept through the night.....
Today, my legs feel great! A little knee soreness, but otherwise they feel great! 2 mile shakout planned for after work, then back into some medium distance tomorrow morning!!
Anyone figure out why Teri didn't beep when I thought she would?

Be Well,

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

We don't need no stinking shots~!

Yes, FLU season is right around the corner.
Yes, I think that you should get a shot, ESPECIALLY if you are older (than me), a small child (could you read this if you were?) take care of small children (yes, Home Day Care Provider, I am looking at YOU....), take care of older people, work in health care, care about health, etc. etc. etc.
In short, get your Flu shot.
But that's not the immunization I am looking for.
The one I am talking about, at least for me, doesn't exist. Which can be good, and bad... Have you ever gone to a museum, for example (that's those buildings where they keep old stuff for us to look at. Just think, some day (next month?) the iPhone5 will be in one...) and gone home wanting to look up all kinds of things, just to learn MORE about them? Anyone, Anyone? Beuller? Ok, maybe just me. But what about that time you took your wife, her grandfather, and the two youngers to see monster trucks? Didn't you want to run home, sell all of your running/climbing gear, buy a piece of crap truck and fix it up so that it could stomp all over the new school buses parked in a field not too far from your house???? Anyone? No???? WHO ARE YOU PEOPLE????
Fine. Let's keep it more realistic. (and by realistic i mean far-fetched)
In 2010 I went to Boston to watch the Boston Marathon. While there, I was overwhelmed by the support, the engergy, and the determination of the people running as well as the people watching. So in 2011 I went back, this time dragging my wife and youngest son with me. Well, I brought them to the Expo. Once again, I was bit by the energy, etc. The next day I went back down for the race, and then hung out with some people after the race. During that time, I managed to talk myself into running MY first marathon in Philadelphia this coming November with some other people who i hadn't even met. Seems reasonable, right?
I had caught the fever.
This past weekend I was fortunate enough to crew for Sarah Stanley as she ran in the Vermont50, a very tough 50 mile trail Ultra. I like to think that I am in pretty decent shape. HA! I was ever so humbled by the people who ran this race. Just milling around the Expo on Saturday was enough to make me want to curl up in the fetal position, suck my thumb, and rock back and forth take a serious look at my training schedule. So I steeled myself for Sunday, knowing that I was going to see these people in action, and that I would likely get bitten again. I must have some sort of crystal ball or something.
I caught the fever again.
What was the clincher? I gotta say, it was the running of that last 3 miles with Sarah. I was running in the woods, I was running up hills, over mud, through mud. Trees all around, except when it was fields. Bugs, bees, flowers, trees. I won't go into details of the course; I'll let her tell you all that stuff. Heck, I saw less than 10% of it. I WILL share, though, that if you run with someone who has just done 47miles, don't be surprised if they start talking about elephants, monkeys, deer shaped ferns, and waterfalls.
In conclusion, get your FLU shot. As for the other 'disease'...too late for me! I am fully ready to begin the journey to early evening hallucinations!
I have a fever....
What have you gone to see that has infected you?

Monday, September 19, 2011

Procrastinate Later....

I am SO FAR BEHIND in my training for my debut in the Philadelphia Marathon. Does this surprise me? No. Am I paniking? No. Although i typically like to be a planner and list checker-offer, preparing for races has always taken a back seat. Time to step it up, though~!
Yesterday I went out for a long run. According to most of my #runnerd pals, the long run is meant to be done at around 2 minutes per mile slower than your regular pace. This put me right around 10:30 per mile, which I tried really hard to maintain. When I look at my garmin stats, the first loop (5 miles) averaged out to be 10:16 (moving pace). so...BAM! pretty good. I think that the things that saved me from going too fast were the walk breaks that I took (with increasing frequency toward the end), and the hills. Yep. This long run included some hills. Why? I live in Vermont. Kinda tough to map out that kind of distance without hills in there somewhere.
Oh, and since I really don't like the monotany of roads, I included some trails, too. One of which includes a nice, long (you guessed it) hill. On the map below, I started and finished at the red dot-thing. I parked in Bryce's school's parking lot, and the plan was to do 3 5-ish mile loops. This was to be the lower loop on the map. Course starts out running north along a road then turns east (right....) under the highway, then south (right again) into the parking lot of the Montshire Museum. I continued south along the trail that i love so much, the Hazen Trail. Because I am such a good sport and know that Adam can't get enough of it, I snapped a picture of my Uranus and sent it along to him.
Back on the road, I ran back to the car to grab some water, text Tracey that I was still alive, and update her on my change of plans. Why the change in plans? Well...lemme tell you. I was running in my...ummm....Asics something-or-other road shoes. I will say that they, for the most part, feel great on the road. Just enough cushion, light weight, etc. BUT....they are SO not meant for the trails around here. Perhaps on a rails-to-trails place, or a paved path along the river masquerading as a trail, but not in a trail that is narrow, rooty, rocky, and sometimes muddy. I felt every rock, pebble, stick, and twig. My oringinal plan called to do the loop 3 times. FRAGO! (FRAGmentation Order, meaning a sudden change in plans. The Army is famous for them....) I decided to go north this time, and loop around Norwich village, staying mostly on part of the course for the CHaD Half Marathon, my first ever half.
As I came back into town (near the 5, where I turned East (left), i developed a sharp pain on the ball of my right foot, between the Roast Beef piggie and the hungry piggie. I stopped for a bit to massage it out, but the pain never really went away completely. Hurray....anyone have any suggestions?
The run from there back to the car is pretty lonely. Not many houses, not a lot of traffic. Ho hum...left, right, left, on back to the car. For the last two miles I daydreamed of these chicken fingers dipped in bbq sauce. When i got home, i put some in the oven while i showered and wrapped my aching calves in ArcticEase.  The run was great; i am very greatful to Tracey for allowing me the time for the run. She rocks.
Lessons learned? I need to NOT eat sweet sausages with onions and peppers the day before. Not because it was nasty, but it just didn't give me any energy. Carrying my water bottle without my holders is not fun. I need a longer playlist on my mp3. Trails need trail shoes. It is ok to open up the pace every now and again, just to keep things from getting dull. (it is also ok to close it up a bit to balance it out....) Most important thing learned? GET OUT THERE AND RUN!!!
Here, then, is the map. Link to the deets here.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Never mind the hairy arm.....

ANOTHER REVIEW??? yes. get over it.
I am pretty sure that we have all heard of or even have a wrist or shoe tag identification thing-y. I don't want to use the other company's name, but if you look over there on the right......OK! that's long enough. I believe in CHOICES, not monopolies (i don't even like the game!). But until lately, there was no choice for a safety band. I was either (those other guys) or Sharpie. As you can see by my forearm, a Sharpie really isn't a great idea for me.....
Then on twitter one day (go figure, i was on twitter!), a NEW COMPANY announced that they have a new product coming out that will be BETTER than the....other guys. Stop looking over there! So i jumped at the chance to enter a contest to win one to try out.
Annnnnd I won. Don't get me wrong, I am happy abou this. Still waiting to win that college loan repayment contest, though.....but i digress....often.
SO....I must admit that it is much smaller than I expected (TWSS). I wasn't sure if I would put it on my Garmin or my watch, but rationalized that since my watch goes just about everywhere (sorry, Tracey) with me, I should put it there. So I did. Took me some time to figure out which way it should face, but I eventually worked it out.
The inscription contains my name, town, two contact numbers, and still had 2 lines left over for something else. I added #nomorebs and #noexcuses. In retrospect, I might have added DNR/DNI (just kidding, T!), but I don't think it would have carried any legal weight anyway.
Because I have this attached to my watchband, I was able to eliminate the 'other' band from my arm. When I first got that one, I would often forget to put it on while running, etc. So i just started to wear it all the time. I went from forgetting to put it on to forgetting to take it off. It scratches other people. Not good for morale, if you know what i mean.

1BandID, however, fits stealthily on my watch band. It washes easily, and hasn't rubbed me (or anyone else) the wrong way.

If you are looking for an alternative to those other guys (who are great, by the way. I like both of them equally, for different reasons!!!!), then 1BandID is worth looking into. Check them out on Twitter or FB. Check back to their website often, as at the time I am writing, it is not quite ready for prime time! Go with 1BandID!!

**this just in! communication with 1BandID last evening suggests that their site will be operational TODAY! Check them out......!!**

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Long overdue SPIbelt review.

Hey, I'm a poet, and didn't even know it! (but my feet do show it;, they're Longfellows.....ahahahaha)
Not really. 8.5 or 9, depending on the brand...

A bit of back story, if i may. Ya'll remember that I coached a running class this summer, right? During our 4th class, we decided NOT to run around the football field, as the grass was soaked from rain earlier in the day. We stashed our keys/waterbottles in the usual place (end of bleachers), and took off to run around on pavement. We got done with the class and went to collect our keys. But they were GONE. While we were out improving our health, someone was playing a joke on us. The cars were still there, and a quick check revealed that the contents hadn't been disturbed. We contacted the town's police who eventually sent an officer. I jumped (climbed) the fence to the pool to look for keys at the bottom (half hoping to be able to take a dip!), and even climbed onto the locker room roof. No keys. We searched the football field. No keys. After about 45 minutes we found the keys under the stairs on the opposite side of the bleachers. If i hadn't been impacted, (by the joke, not as in bowels...) I would have thought it very clever.

Later that evening I wrote an email to the great folks at SPIbelt, asking if they could do anything to help. They offered me a choice of belt to trial, and then a nice discount for my students. I was psyched! Not one to look a gift horse in the mouth, I requested the water resistant energy belt. The narrative said that it was a good choice for those who are in the rain a lot, or for those who SWEAT a lot (raises hand...). I was very happy when it arrived in the mail, much sooner than i expected. I brought it to my next class, and put EVERYONE's keys in it. Then we ran. I must say that after some minor adjustments, I forgot it was there!
Honestly. 5 sets of keys. No bouncing. No rubbing. Just....comfort.

SPIbelt Energy Belt, Product Code: 7BL-A001-001-ENERGY
 On my solo runs, I'd put some GU packs on the belt, keys and {DROID} Incredible in the pouch, and off I'd go. No worries! I did get caught in some rainy weather, and everything stayed dry! And sweat? yep, I sweat. Inside contents remained dry.
Then there was the time I got caught in the IRENE mess. I brought my SPIbelt with me. While we were working on our camp's road DURING the storm, I was drenched from head to toe. If I had been wrapped in the material used for the SPIbelt, I would have been bone-dry, much like the keys and phone in my pouch.
I was pleasantly AMAZED by this.
AAAANNNNDD another thing. SPIbelt is MADE IN THE USA. That's right. ANOTHER great product (the other is ArcticEase, see review earlier this week!) that I enjoy that is made RIGHT HERE!
So take a few minutes; follow them on twitter (@SPIbelt), check out their website. And not just the products. Get to know the Company, the owner/inventor. Sure, there are good products out there, but if the company isn't personable or the owner/marketing people are stupid, I just won't use their stuff. THIS company, SPIbelt, and the owner/inventor, Kim Overton, are the real-deal.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Ok class, time to pay attention.....

"Learn from the mistakes of others. You can't live long enough to make them all yourself." -Eleanor Roosevelt-
Here, then, is my mistake gift to you:
Daily, I take medication. The why isn't important. (no, not hormone pills for my upcoming gender change....) (wait! i'm not having a gender change. i'm not even due for an OIL change in my car...)
Anyway, I should have said that I am prescribed to take medication daily. To say that I actually take it every day is a bit of a stretch, but i would say that i miss maybe 4 doses a month. I am mostly ok with that, because a year or so ago i would be lucky to TAKE 4 doses in a week. But things changed a few weeks ago.
Remember when Irene hit, and I was stuck out of town for 2 days? That's when i started to forget. I missed a total of TWELVE doses. The medication warns NOT to stop taking it suddenly, and NOT to do so unless under the close supervision of a Doc. (MD, not PhD.) In reality, when people are taken off of this med, they are tapered down to nothing. Huh? Let's say that the dose is 20mg per day. You might taper down to 10mg per day, then every other day, then every 3rd day, etc., but you SHOULDN'T go from 20mg per day to NOTHING. Why did I do it, then?
Because I am forgetful. I have discovered that keeping the pill bottle on my headboard, next to where i put my coffee in the morning, has helped me to remember to take it. Apparently I knocked the bottle off of its place, and therefore didn't see it. No visual cue, no med. Dumb.
Then last week (remember the tweets about PVC's?) i started to experience Premature Ventricular Contractions. In a nutshell, your heart is supposed to beat like this: lub-dub, lub-dub, lub-dub. MINE was going lub-lub-dub, lub......lub-dub, lublubdub, etc. Not constantly, but probably twice every five minutes. Very annoying, very scary. Very fun, actually, to watch on an EKG while you are having them. Totally cool.....See?
 It wasn't until i received an email warning about a high dose complication for the same med I take. The warning stated that people should NOT be given more than 30mg per day,  "as higher doses have lead to abnormal changes in the electrical activity of the heart". inquisitive mind started to wonder that if high doses caused this, might not suddenly LOW or non-existant doses cause the same? Well, the literature from the drug companies doesn't say that, but I can personally attest to the fact that it does. Common listed withdrawl symptoms include: "dysphoric mood, irritability, agitation, dizziness, sensory disturbances, anxiety, confusion, headache, lethargy, emotional lability, insomnia, and hypomania". Good times!
So I found the bottle and started taking it again. After 4 days, the PVC's have all but stopped. As for the other things, well, i THINK that they are better.
Why did I tell you this? Because I don't want you to make the same mistake that I did. Yes, after i came back from being stranded I should have started taking the med again. I would have only missed 1 day, and not experienced any withdrawl effects. But i completely blew it off. dumb, dumb, dumb.
I promise that my next post will be more FUN!
Be Well,