Friday, September 30, 2005

Race Weekend!

Well this weekend is the Army 10 Miler. My sister Heather and I will be only 2 of 20,000 other fellow runners tooling around the Washington Monuments on an early Sunday morning.

In the last 10 months:

- I ran the Myrtle Beach 1/2 Marathon (pre-diagnosis)
- I was diagnosed with Stage IIIB Malignent Melanoma
- I raced the Kinetic Sprint Triathlon, Richmond Monument 10K & Sallie Mae 10K (post surgery #1)
- I have been under general anthestesia twice (2 surgeries)
- I have undergone 4 weeks of high dose Interferon Chemotherapy
- I have started 48 weeks of low dose Interferon Chemotherapy (only 35 weeks left!)

Through all of this, I have done what I could to maintain some level of fitness. It hasn't always been easy but there is something very powerful to be found in simply moving, in whatever way you can.

Sometimes your pace slows but if you keep moving forward, you will cross the finish line!


If you have a moment visit Ellie and give her a shout! She is racing her first IRONMAN distance triathlon on Saturday in MD at the ChesapeakeMan Ultra.


Have a good weekend and live STRONG! Race Report to follow!!!!

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Hanging Tough

I took two full recovery days and tonight will be a short 3 mile run. I'm ready for a short run and the weather here in Northern VA is perfect for running. Cool and Breezy.

My sister Heather is coming into town this weekend to run the Army Ten Miler with me this Sunday! She will be staying through Tuesday. I have not seen my sister since we did the Dansani Myrtle Beach 1/2 Marathon in February. We talk often but there is nothing that beats being in the same room together!

My other sister Cathy won't be present for this particular race. Something about school and work and being so far North that she has probably already started wearing a Fleece jacket!! (She is in Maine!) We will miss her!!

Christmas can't come soon enough this year!


My bloodwork held steady this week proving that my long runs have no significant negative impact on my white blood count.

The side effects of the increased dosage are making themselves known, unfortunately. The last two days have had me feeling a little sick to my stomach. I bought some ROLAIDS, as recommended by Nancy, Flatman and my Uncle Kevin. They taste much better than the TUMS but unfortunately are not helping with the stomach ache. I am exploring other remedies.

Yesterday I felt pretty bad and when I got home, I felt like my general malaise just sucked the happiness right out of the house. Jim was very loving and understanding but I could see him deflating like a slow-leak. His plate has been very full of outside stresses and then I come home feeling icky and drag him down another notch. I hate it!

Nobody tells you how much of an impact your treatment has on your relationships. You may be the one going through the physical symptoms but everybody who loves you and cares about you has to go through the emotional and psychological symptoms too. Not only yours but their own as well.

I am grateful every day for the constant love and support that Jim, my family and friends provide me. I have no doubts that without that support, I would not be doing as well as I am. That includes every one of you out there in cyberspace that takes the time to check in on my blog and sends good thoughts my way!

I hope you realized what a positive impact you have in my life! Thank you!

Sunday, September 25, 2005

I did it and then I slept

I have done my longest training run since this whole year started. Today's workout called for 200 minutes at 2/1 run/walk intervals. That is 3 hours and 20 minutes and I approached it with all the respect and fear I could muster. Coach Debi told me to do my utmost to try to keep my intervals at 2/1 Run/Walk the entire workout.

I did it! 15 miles!! Average pace of 13 minute miles.

I chose to run Point to Point since that replicates both the Army Ten Miler and the Marine Corps Marathon experiences. My run took me from my house in the Huntington region of Alexandria down to the Potomac River at the Belle Haven Marina and along the waterfront to the Memorial Bridge in DC. From there, I crossed the bridge into DC and ran back up the waterfront to the National Mall and the Smithsonian Castle.

In terms of nutrition, I had a Gu every 40 minutes and at the top of every hour I took an Endurolyte caplet. All of these things washed down with about 3 bottles of water. Thank goodness for the working water fountains on the Mt. Vernon Trail! At the end of the run, I treated myself to an Oatmeal Raisin PowerBar... YUMMY!

I then rode the Metro back home, took a shower, ate some tuna fish and crackers, watch some "Wallace and Grommit" on DVD and then napped for 3 hours. I didn't expect to nap for nearly as long as I ran today but I guess my body had a lot of repair work to do and didn't need me getting in the way!

I think that the hardest part of this long run is going to be the recovery. I fully expected that my Sunday shot of Interferon would feel more potent because my body is trying to do some post-run recovery. I took my shot less than 15 minutes ago following the "pre-shot tylenol" routine that I have always used with success and right now I have a headache and a small fever.

I will stay on top of it with Tylenol tonight and hopefully I won't feel like the walking dead tomorrow! Why?

Because after this workout I have at least earned the title of the "RUNNING DEAD"

Life is good! Live STRONG!

Thursday, September 22, 2005



No, not you darling reader. Shame on the client who walked into the office today and said "Wow are you feeling okay? You look awful!!!"

My response: "Yeah sometimes Chemo does that to you!"

They were very apologetic and I accepted the apology but I felt justified in putting this person in their place. Don't tell me how bad I look because 9 out of 10 times, I am already aware of it but trying to work through it. Being reminded doesn't help!

Is this not the cutest kitten ever? This makes me smile and there are more kittens to make you smile here.

Last night's workout was started out pretty rough but I kept with it to the turn around and the back half felt much better. In talking with Jim later, we determined that the course I am running rolls gently uphill the entire course out and gently downhill on the return trip. All of that happening while you tackle the small hills that are obvious. It made me feel better about feeling like I had very little to give on the 1.5 miles to the turn around.

Tonight's workout calls for a 30 minute EASY spin on Sunshine. My long lost brother (not really) Flatman has requested a picture of my ride. I'll post that later today! My bike is not nearly as new or fancy as Nancy's bike Buttercup but I love my bike just the same!

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

All Hale Dr. Butler!!

It has been 3 weeks since I went back to 10 million units so it was time for an appointment with Dr. Butler in addition to the weekly blood-letting ritual.

Dr. Butler said that he imagined that I was the healthiest patient he would see in his office today. He's a charmer!!

We talked about my side effects and he indicated that he was happy to see my blood work coming back up this week. He said that even a slight rise in my blood numbers means I am adjusting to the new dosage well. I am "well adjusted" ... Hehehe.

He asked about my training mileage, asked for the dates of the races again and then told me to feel free to "adjust my shot schedule" the week prior to both races if I thought that might give me a little extra something on Race Day. He didn't see how reducing my shot dose for one day and/or moving the "shot day" would have a negative impact. Especially when it is only 2 shots out of a total of 144 that will be affected.

So I am cleared to complete the Army 10 Miler next Sunday. I am also cleared to complete the Marine Corps Marathon if I choose. I am choosing to wait and see how the Army 10 Miler AND my 3 hour 20 minute LSD workout goes this weekend.

In other workout news, I took out Sunshine (my bight yellow Lemond Bicycle) for a 30 minute spin. It was a nice 7 mile jaunt before the rains head into town. It felt good to be back in the saddle again! It always does.

Buona Notte (Good Night!!) Live STRONG!

Monday, September 19, 2005

Recovery Day

I have grown to really love Mondays because Mondays are "Recovery Day". I take the shuttle instead of walking the mile to and from the Metro station. I don't concern myself with my workout schedule for the week for 24 hours and I generally try to enjoy myself.

Today, my recovery day is plague by a headache and a constant stomach ache which can be directly attributed to 3 weeks back at 10 million units of Interferon - 3x a week. It would be nice if Dr. Butler would cut my dose in half again tomorrow but in all likelihood that won't happen. I wish there were a way to cut down on the side effects and still get as high a "low dose" as possible. Until somebody figures out a better solution, I have actually started taking the occassional TUMS. Sometimes they help.. sometimes they don't. At least they have calcium so it is not a complete waste.

Yesterday marked the start of week 12 out of 48! Only 36 more to go!

I wonder how close these Tums really are to eating chalk. I suspect they are closer than I think!

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Tales of Baby Showers and Baby "Bonks"

Well the Baby Shower was a wonderful success. I succeeded in imitating a chicken with her head cut off on Saturday morning but at 11AM I transformed into a cool, calm and collected host. The important thing was that everybody seem to have a nice time and that my girlfriend Liz enjoyed herself.

She is 6 weeks from her due date and ready to go, go, go!

Today was "Leisure Sunday". On Leisure Sunday, you do whatever you want and you "don't do" what ever you feel like. We slept in until 8AM; watched the last episode of "Lost" on TiVo in prep for the season premiere this week; ate a late breakfast; lounged and then around 3PM I went out for my long run.

The weather is beautiful in Northern VA today... low 80s but no humidity and a cool breeze. My workout went very well with 2/1 intervals for about the first 3 miles; 1/1 intervals for the next 5 miles and an unfortunate baby "Bonk" just before the start of Mile 8. The good news about the baby "Bonk" is that with less than 1 mile to home, I felt no guilt for having to walk ... so I did.

I'm happy to be back home, showered, comfy and in for the night!

Hope you all had a good weekend too! Live STRONG.

Friday, September 16, 2005


How can I possibly call this running when I feel like I couldn't go any faster if I tried??

4 miles at a 14:00 minute pace with Run/Walk intervals that started at 3/1 and meandered down to 1/1 by the end of the workout.

I think I shopped faster than I ran today. I'll just take pride in knowing that I didn't give up on the workout.

Back to baby shower gifts...Less than 24 hours to the party!

Baby Booties and Cute Hats

As promised:Do you like my hat?

My attempt at cake decorations. See the picture of what it SHOULD look like.

I will stick to graphic design!! No Cake Decorating in my future.
Off to run errand!! Hope everybody has a great Friday! Live STRONG!!

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Baby Shower & Long Run

This weekend I am giving my girlfriend Liz a baby shower. I suspect the next 48 hours will be busy. In anticipation, I took tomorrow off so I could run my last errands without feeling frantic.

I had entertained the notion of baking individual cakes like little baby booties when I learn that the bakery that I frequent no longer does that themselves. Then last night I tried to make one of the little cakes...

Let's just say that my design skills are better suited to computers and print pieces and I will be leaving the art of decorating with frosting and fondant to others.

Yesterday I tried to go for a short 3 mile run. I have had two full recovery days but since my last shot on Tuesday, I have been feeling progressively more "Interferon Funky". It was a struggle to cover the 3 miles. I started out at 3/1 run/walk intervals and by the turn-around point I was down to 1/1 run/walk intervals. It was painfully slow, I felt like I was running in mud (no energy) but I was happy to have finished the workout. As my friend Nancy just recently said: "A slow workout is better than no workout at all."

So tomorrow I will indulge in my day off, get errands done and do my 3 mile run at my leisure (probably early in the morning if this humidity breaks and then this weekend I will play Baby Shower "Hostess" and attempt the long run on my schedule.

All hail sticking to "The Plan"

Pictures of my new hat AND the infamous "Baby Bootie Cupcake" will be posted later tonight!

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Body Talk

Yesterday was a pretty good day. Nothing "felt" wrong and I have learned trust my instincts when it comes to how I feel. So imagine my surprise when I went in to give my weekly blood work and found out that not only are my neutraphils low (1.1 compared to last week's 1.7) but that all of my blood work was down and I am currently anemic.

Immediately my nurse Tess was grilling me... Did you over do it this weekend? Have you been eating this week? How are you feeling?

I was honest:

I ran/walked 15 miles this weekend but other than some fatigue, I feel fine. My eating has been normal and I am down 2 pounds but I attribute that to 4 weeks of consistent run/walks. I'm sick of losing my hair only to find it all over the house and OTHER THAN JUST A MOMENT AGO WHEN YOU TURNED ME INTO A PIN CUSHION AND PIERCED A VEIN LEAVING ME WITH A SORE, PURPLE FOREARM ... I'm just fine, thanks!

Tess is not "impressed" with the fact that Dr. Butler is letting me train for the Marine Corps Marathon. I had a hard time making her understand that this "IS" low volume working out for me right now.

Now I am worried that Dr. Butler is going to change his mind on my training and tell me that I shouldn't do it. Either way, that is an uknown until next week, so I will eat some more protein, drink plenty of water, try to catch a few more naps and worry about "what if" later.

Living STRONG with a few less blood cells.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Lots of mileage this weekend and I am still awake!

After a week that found me sleeping more often than working out. I have had a weekend that has me very confident that I will complete the Army 10 Miler in 3 weeks!!!

On Saturday I covered 4.5 miles and today I covered 11 miles, making my total mileage for this week 24.5 miles. My longest week yet! Needless to say, I expect to sleep long and hard tonight and tomorrow will be a full recovery day. It certainly doesn't hurt that the weather was stunning at 730 in the morning here in Northern DC. That definitely makes the miles go by quicker.

I am actually managing to hold a 14 minute-per-mile pace on average. My focus this weekend was simply to get some "time in" on the trails so I didn't even push the intervals beyond 1/1. Tuesday I will resume my 3/1 intervals and expect that my average mile pace will drop down to 13 minutes-per-mile. That is well inside the cutoff for Marine Corps maximum pace by a full minute. The question I need to answer now is: Can I continue on for another 4 hours ... I have not tried anything beyond 2.5 hours yet.

Time will tell!

I hope all the athletes who race the Reston Triathlon had a good day!

Thoughts and Prayers to everybody as we remember those we lost on September 11th, 2001.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Your getting very SLEEPY

The increase in dosage to 10 MIU of Interferon finally caught up to me. Yesterday I awoke with a slight headache and an upset stomach. By 11AM, I could hardly focus on my work and called it quits and headed home. By 12:30pm, I was asleep. Jim woke me up when he got home at 4:45pm. We made some dinner (Porkchops and applesauce) and then he tackled the computer room while I rearranged the linen closet and I was back in bed by 9:45pm. I could not have stayed up later than that, I know because I tried.

Now I am up bright and early and feeling better than yesterday. I have to say that yesterday was the first time that I simply accepted the side effects and went with what my body told me to do...Without a fight.

I'm just happy to be feeling better this morning! Moving On! Living STRONG!

Everybody have a GREAT DAY!

Monday, September 05, 2005

Lots of Stuff!

When you combined two independent, self-reliant adults who have lived on their own for 10+ years into one household you end up with a whole lot of "STUFF"!!

Jim and I are sorting through the duplicates and deciding what stays, what goes to goodwill and what simply goes! It's a slow process but we are making good progress! We got the kitchen, the bedroom closet and the bathrooms done this weekend. Yeah for us!

The week was a whirlwind of unpacking and life in general. We were checking in on Jim's folks in Jackson, MS daily to make sure that they were doing okay. They had some trouble finding gas for the generator but luckily by this weekend they had power again. My cousin and his family who lived in New Orleans, are currently in PA with relatives for the time being. They still don't know if they have a home to go back to. Having been through my share of hurricanes and blizzards, my heart goes out to all those people down south. It will be a long recovery for them.

On the Melanoma front, Dr. Butler has increased my weekly shots back up to 10 MIU for the time being. I might get a break around the first week in October for the Army 10 Miler but I think that 10 MIU is where he wants to keep me unless my body starts showing toxicity signs again. The increase in dose has me a little more prone to napping this week. I can live with that!

I bought a beautiful hat to start wearing daily! I will post a picture later this week. For now I am going to hold off on the wig and enjoy the variety that hats and scarves offer!

On the Army 10 Miler/Marine Corps Marathon Training front, I am doing well. I was able to get in some decent mileage last week and today I covered 9 miles in the glorious 65 degree weather. I have no doubts that I will be able to finish the Army 10 Miler so now I am focusing on keeping my pace up and getting some good long runs in over the next 8 weeks so that the 14th Street Bridge cutoff of the Marathon seems like less of a factor!

I'm looking forward to the week ahead and the wonderful lower temperatures.