Sunday, December 20, 2009



Obviously it's been a long time since I last posted on this blog.  In the past few months I've gone back and forth over whether I should explain or just let it go since this blog isn't private.  I keep coming back to this part of this post, still waffling over what to say.  So, I'll just spit it out in the hopes that maybe sometime, somewhere, this blog can help someone like me. 

On April 20, 2009, I was diagnosed with breast cancer.  I found a lump in the shower in March, had ultrasounds and mammograms and biopsies, was diagnosed in April, had surgery in May, started chemo in July, and finished chemo in October.  The important thing is that I'm fine now and my body tolerated chemo very well, compared to what other people sometimes go through.  I didn't have to take time off school and although I didn't accomplish everything I wanted to this semester I actually was pretty productive, thinking back on it.

For the most part, I was able to run through treatment, but my motivation took a big hit.  Finally, in August, chemo just got to me and I couldn't run anymore.  I did manage to continue bike commuting until mid-October, which is something I'm proud of (and looking forward to getting back to, when the snow and ice is gone). 

There.  Now you're up to speed and we can move on.

Thinking back, this blog has really been a few different blogs under one address.  When I first started writing, I didn't really have a direction and just sort of wrote about whatever came to mind.  Then, I decided to really focus on improving my running and the blog became somewhat of a journal about that with other random information thrown in as well.  Now we're moving into version 3, I guess.  Starting over, almost from scratch.

I ended 2008 with a post reviewing the year.  I'm not going to do exactly that this year, but here's a short review of my running in 2009:

Goals for the year, at the beginning of the year:
-- run 1200 miles
--sub-22 min 5k in the summer
--my first full marathon in Detroit in October.

Snow, snow, and more snow.  The consistency I developed in 2008 started to suffer as my body learned to deal with running on snow.  Near the beginning of the month I started having what I thought was piriformis pain that turned out to be a minor disc injury at L3 and possibly S1.  I also found out that I have a minor leg-length discrepancy and started running with a OTC cushioning insole in my left shoe to even things out.  That turned out not to be a good idea.  Anyway.  I took a good bit of time off at the beginning of the month trying to deal with all that. 
Total: 45.4 miles

The snow continued and we got out to cross-country ski a few times.  I so love that sport and cannot wait to get started again!  My back acted up off and on, but for the most part this was a relatively healthy month.  On February 13th I did a VO2max test in my nutrition class, maxing out at about 47 ml/kg/min.  An improvement over the previous summer, but I sort of wish I had known what it was in November of 2008.
Total: 59.6 miles

Started the month off sick (running logs are so helpful - I don't remember any of this!).  This was seriously the sinus infection from hell.  I spent the second week of the month in NC on Spring Break - it was fabulous, except that I was sick the whole time.  I only ran 3 times from 3/1 - 3/14 and was finally able to start back up in earnest on 3/15.  The stress of my medical issues started to hit at the end of the month and just spiraled downhill from there.
Total: 37.75 miles

Yeah, this month wasn't good.  Running really can be such a mental sport sometimes and my mind just wasn't in it.  I took a few days off after my biopsy but when the results came back, I dealt with it by running.  At least at first.  The day after I found out, I took Kona for a run on the trails at the lake and just pounded those miles out. By the end of that week I was overwhelmed and terrified and it showed when I ran the Race for the Cure a mere 6 days after diagnosis.  Talk about a mental battle.  That was my slowest 5k in two years at 28:34.
Total: 32.25 miles

I'm not even going to bother reviewing my running from May through October.  During that time, I ran a total of 70.5 with at least 2.5 (yep, 2.5) every month except October, when I didn't run any.  By the end of chemo my hemoglobin was down almost to the level where they would have tranfused a "non-athlete" (according to my PA) and the chemo drug I was on was causing a lot of joint pain.  My last treatment was 10/23 and on Nov 1, I started running again.  So:

This was a difficult month to try to get back into it.  How is it that every semester we manage to forget how hard those last 6 weeks or so are?  During chemo I napped a lot.  At the very least, I got a short nap nearly every day - some days I napped for 3-4 hours.  When it was all over, I somehow expected to just be better.  Immediately.  Um, not exactly.  But anyway, this is supposed to be about running. 
I started back with a loose run/walk program, starting with 1 min running/1 min walking.  Each day, I increased the run interval by 30 sec to 1 min, depending on how I felt I was progressing.  The goal was to get out there every other day and sometimes that worked out.  It became clear pretty quickly that full days on campus didn't leave me with enough energy to run well so I started doing most of my running on the days I could stay home from campus, and there weren't many of those.
Total: 29.2 miles

It doesn't really seem fair to write about December since it isn't over yet, but that's ok.  The first couple weeks were really tough and the amount of work I did really put that last, hellish semester of my masters to shame.  Aside from the days that I just didn't have the energy to get out there, this has been a good month so far.  At the beginning of the month I was up to 8:00 Run/1:00 walk.  That run interval increased gradually until 12/16 when I felt great and decided to just keep going - for 2 miles in 19:33.  That's the same day I found out that my hemoglobin is back up to normal (basically, 11.9) - placebo effect, anyone?  Yesterday's run was an incredibly fun adventure on snowy trails with Kona - easily one of my favorite runs of all time. 
Total (so far): 25.3 miles with about 2 weeks (OF VACATION!!!) to go.

So, bring on 2010.  I'm ready to put 2009 behind me and to come back stronger.  At the risk of sounding overly cheesy, I'm going to beat cancer by becoming stronger than I've ever been.  Goals for 2010 are still being developed so there will be a post about those later, but at the very least I'm going to spend the winter getting my consistency back with my eye on the Dances With Dirt Half Marathon in July (in WI).

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Sigh. Heavy, Heavy sigh.

Rest of Tonight
Rain and snow...then snow overnight. Snow accumulation 4 to 6 inches. Lows around 30. Northeast winds 10 to 20 mph. Chance of precipitation near 100 percent.

Snow likely. Snow accumulation around an inch. Highs in the mid 30s. North winds 10 to 20 mph. Chance of snow 70 percent.

Monday Night
Mostly cloudy with a 50 percent chance of snow showers. Lows in the mid 20s. Northwest winds 15 to 20 mph.

Mostly cloudy with a 50 percent chance of snow showers. Highs in the mid 30s. Northwest winds around 20 mph with gusts to around 35 mph.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

It is nearly April, yes?

Hello! Posting from the space heater's glow, yet again. That's right, it's March 31st and I'm frozen. I did run this morning, and I seem to have trouble warming up after I run some days, but this is ridiculous. We had snow on Sunday - that's fun, right? Mom and Judy got snow for their birthdays...or they would have, had they been in Michigan.

Things are insanely busy around here - busy enough that I should not be blogging. Really though, I had to tell you about the space heater.

Here's a picture of the snow falling on Sunday. You can see it - look closely. I couldn't bear to take a picture of the accumulation.

A picture of Kona enjoying some sun, just to balance things out:

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Holy Lazy Blogger!

Hi there. I've been sort of absent lately, eh? It's been busy! A quick update, since I can't seem to focus on work anyway.

Last week was spring break - I got to go down to NC and see all (well, most) of the friends and family I've been missing since we moved. Two thoughts on that:
1) It's really too bad everyone doesn't have spring break!
2) I might need two weeks to really see everyone I want to see!
Never happy, right? Anyway, I got to catch up with everyone on both sides of the family, took a cool trip with my aunt and grandmother out to the coast, and got to see the "babies."

Sarah figured out how to call Andy on my cell phone...
and Paige has gotten big!

All in all, it was a good trip! Unfortunately I had a cold before leaving town which got worse on the plane - nothing like having your ears totally clogged for the better part of two days. They're STILL popping when I swallow, but at least they don't hurt anymore.
I also got to see some friends, but there were a whole bunch I couldn't catch up with. Next time!

Now, I'm back at school and trying to focus, but maybe it's that whole needing-a-vacation-to-recover-from-vacation thing, or maybe it's spring fever. Whatever it is, I can't concentrate!

In other news, Kona might have bladder stones. We noticed she had been peeing more lately - the other night, she went 3 times on a 20 minute walk, and that just isn't normal for her. Doug collected a urine sample, and she has a lot of struvite crystals in there. Apparently that could mean anything from a UTI to bladder stones, and anything from antibiotics to surgery. The vet also said something about "postprandial wave" but neither of us know what that is - guess I should check Google. Anyway - we're hoping for a UTI and antibiotics. Please cross your fingers that it's something simple!

Oh, this is supposed to be a running blog, isn't it? Ha. There hasn't been much of that lately. My cold really knocked me out for two weeks, but I have run 10 miles since Sunday so it's improving. I'm taking today off, and then plan to run Thurs-Sun. We'll see how that goes. I really want to develop a plan and get going on speed work so I can take another attempt at a 5k PR in early summer. I'm going to see if a fast friend will run with me to help me get it down to 23 minutes or so. Not sure if I can do it, but I think maybe with added speedwork I can. Then, I've really got to get my base up if I'm still going to consider a fall marathon.

That's probably enough for today...back to work!

UPDATE: Kona went to the vet this afternoon. He thinks it's just an infection, so she's on antibiotics. Big sigh of relief, over here. However, he also thinks she might have minor hip dysplasia.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Not much time to write lately

But, here are some silly photos to keep you entertained.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

New Camera and other musings

Anything to avoid working on that literature review, right?

The generosity of family meant I had birthday money to use on a new camera. I've been wanting one for a while, but only lusting over this specific camera for a few weeks, ever since Doug found it in Outside Magazine. It arrived at our apartment this past Saturday - the Olympus Stylus 1050SW - shockproof, waterproof, and freezeproof. Adventure ready...Of course, it's been 60 freaking degrees outside so I haven't gotten to take it on any of the winter adventures I had hoped for. Hopefully winter will rejoin us soon. In the meantime, here's a test picture from MSU's big win over Ohio State this past Sunday.

In other news, we've got two houses in mind for next school year. We tour one on Saturday. It has a fenced in yard which would be oh-so-wonderful for the pupper, and a second bedroom which would be oh-so-wonderful for me - a home office!

In running-related news, I can't decide what to do with my spring. After having a headache/nausea thing going on for nearly a week, I'm having yet another low-mileage week, with already 2 days off this week. Riding my bike to campus two days in a row has angered my back, and while running doesn't seem to affect it at all, I'm wondering if I shouldn't bag it all and just swim for a while. Of course in winter, it's really hard to force a swim. Therefore, the verdict is out on whether I'll do a spring half marathon at all...and therefore the fall marathon is also on shaky ground. Maybe I'll bail and do the half in the fall. Part of me worries, though, that my problem might actually be my complete lack of a goal.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Mystery solved!

Winter. People hate it, people whine about it, people get depressed (literally) because of a lack of sunlight. I've gotten depressed over a lack of sunlight. For five years in North Carolina I was a depressed, hibernating, lazy mess for all of winter. Sure, Winter in North Carolina lasted like five days, but man was I miserable those five days.

You'll all be happy to know, I've figured it out. It's not the sunlight! It's unwillingness to go outside. Depression over the cold - not the darkness, the cloudy gray skies - the cold. And do you know what? Layers make the cold ok, they make it bearable. They make it possible to go outside and run and frolic through the snow. They make it possible to run 4 miles with your dog, and watch her leap and dive through snowbanks created by snowblowers. They make it possible for people to yell catcalls out their car windows as they drive by. For me, getting out there makes the difference. It can be the middle of a snowstorm in 28 degrees or a gorgeous, sunny, negative 5 degree day. It doesn't matter - if I don't sit on my ass all day - if I don't sit inside and mope - I can thrive in winter.

All figured out. w00t! So here's a little snow for you.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Time rolls on

Hi there.

The past few weeks have been more of the same old thing. Getting started in a new semester with new classes and new projects. It's still winter, both outside and in, and I'm starting to get sick of being cold in my house. Maybe that's why I'm in school again - to one day make enough money to pay for heat. It's quiet here tonight. D's at work, Kona's laying up against my left side, and we're both basking in the glow of the space heater. I'm supposed to be writing (a paper, blogging) but my head isn't in it tonight.

Running is...running. I hemmed and hawed too much this winter over what race I wanted to do, and now can't do the fall back one. Rather, I could do it, I just don't have enough time to train the way I wanted. I could get in up to a 14 mile run, but it would be a higher percentage of my weekly mileage than I want, and I wanted to repeat the long distances a couple times before the race. So, I'm looking for one in May or June, instead. Thought briefly about the one in Traverse City, and found out it's closed already. Thought a whole night long, rather than sleeping, about Coeur d'Alene , and then realized the fortune that would cost. Looked for one close to Seattle around the time of ACSM, there isn't one. Right now, I guess my choices are one in Palos Heights, Il. in May, or in London, ON also in May. I'm leaning towards London just because it's in another country, that'd be kind of a cool thing. Regardless, I can't make up my mind and really need to get going with a training plan.

Or maybe I could just putz around some more and not run a spring half at all.

To lift this downer of a post - here's a fun picture from skiing!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Scratch that.

So, it turns out I do have a brain, and realize that my "coach" is asking more of me than I should just blindly follow. 1:25, two days in a row (which is what it recommended for yesterday and today) when I haven't run for more than an hour in...somewhat longer than I care to admit.

Stay tuned for an actual, well-planned, training plan.

Friday, January 09, 2009

New Year, New Experiment.

Scientists experiment on themselves all the time, right?

I have a new heart rate monitor, the Suunto T4c, which has some nifty functions I'm still learning how to use. The main function is the "coach" - you tell it your activity level, some stats (resting HR, max HR, height, weight, etc) and it gives you bunches of fun information. The standard average and max heart rates (per workout) are there of course, and I can set zones. It also gives me calories, and something called "training effect" which I am still learning. It's on a scale of 1-5, and as far as I can tell, it uses average heart rate and exercise duration to assign a level. Based on that level and the goals you give it, it designs weekly workouts. I started actually paying attention to what it tells me yesterday.

Coach's plan:
Thursday 1/8/09: 40 minutes. Can't remember the goal TE, unfortunately
Friday 1/9/09: 30 minutes, TE 2.8
Saturday 1/10/09: 1:25, TE 2.8
Sunday 1/11/09: rest
Monday 1/12/09: 1:15, TE 2.5
Tuesday 1/13/09: 1:00, TE 3.1

Clearly it thinks I've been running too hard lately and need recovery, as 2.8 is a pretty low intensity. I'll be back later to discuss that more after I've read about it again. In the mean time, I plan to follow this the best I can for the next 4-6 weeks and see where it takes me. We shall see...