Sunday, July 31, 2011

Another race

I ran a cross country race on Saturday. The race was 5k, and I'd never run it before. I wanted to get there early enough that I could jog the course before the race, so that I'd know the course a little bit better when it came time to race. Unfortunately, I was only there about 30 minutes early, so I could only get in a look at the first mile.

There is a good-sized hill on the course, which you run up twice, once in the first mile and once in the third.

I went out too fast. I was training through this race, using it as a workout, and I wanted to run the first mile in about 6:40, which is entirely possible. I went through the first mile in 6:18 -- too fast. I had pressed the wrong button on my watch, so it didn't start. So, I do not have a 2 mile or 3 mile split. I slowed down after the first mile, both because I went out too fast and because the second and third miles were entirely unfamiliar to me. Instead of concentrating on my pace, I had to pay attention to the course as well. I finished in around 22 minutes.

Next year, I will have a better race there.

An exciting thing that was announced there has to do with the 2012 Masters 5k Cross Country Championships. The host club will be having Joan Benoit Samuelson giving a talk and going for a run the day before the race and 1984 Olympian John Tuttle will join her at the talk. Tuttle has won the race in the past, so I imagine he will be competing in the race again this year.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011


As a person who was bullied when I was young, and as a cyclist who has been bullied on the road, I can only say that this video hits the nail on the head.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

We're havin' a heat wave

I wish it was only 93. Temps have been in the upper 90s lately, at least in our neck of the woods. Officially, the temps have been in the low 90s, but there is some variation from one area to another. The sensor for our thermometer is on my back porch, sheltered from the sun and in a place where rain and snow can't get in and distort the readings, so I'm pretty sure it's fairly accurate.

The heat, combined with my wife's concern and a wedding and all its related activity, has made t difficult for me to run. I don't run in the morning any more, because that's when I take most of my meds. I don't want to start running before they have had a chance to start working. On the other hand, the temp at 5:30 or 6:00 pm are still very high; lately they've been in the 90s. So, I run in the heat of the day or I don't run. The last two days, with the temp around 99°, I haven't gone out to run. This is playing havoc with my training schedule. I don't even know the rules to Havoc, so there's no way I can win this game.

Anyway, I got out this morning for an easy 4 miles and finished without incident. That's about all I can ask for these days.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Once more, with feeling

Here I am again, with RICE and Vitamin I. While out taking a nice, easy five miles, about three-quarters of a mile into the run, suddenly it felt as if an elastic band around my left calf had snapped. The initial sensation was not painful, but after that, each time my left foot came off the ground, my left calf felt tight and painful. No permanent damage, it seems, but my calf is extremely tight and there is a slight pulling sensation with each step. This happened just over a week ago, on 8 July. Since then, I've run only once, about 2 3/4 miles, nice and easy. It isn't easy going slow and easy when you've been off for a week, but I kept my pace above 8:30the whole way, with most of it being over 9:00.

It felt pretty good, and I iced down my calf afterward, so I think I'll be going out again today, once again, very easy. Any pain or tightness, and I stop and walk.

The funny thing about this injury is, when I was limping back home, a car pulled over, and the woman driving offered me a ride. She said that she was an orthopedic nurse, and I looked like I would be in her clinic the next day.

It seems that whenever I need a nurse, one with the right specialty shows up.

Sunday, July 10, 2011


While running an easy 5 miles, I felt something that felt like elastic snapping on the back of my left calf. this was followed by pain in my calf every time I stepped on my left foot. Of course, I stopped. As I started back to my house, a car pulled over, and an orthopedic nurse offered me a ride.

It seems every time I need a nurse, one shows up.

Several days of no running now.

At least I can get on the bike, though.

Thursday, July 07, 2011

Carbohydrates and Hydration

The Globe and Mail carried some information a few years ago about sports drinks. It appears that, although carbohydrate-containing sports drinks shouldn't help your performance in short periods of exercise (under an hour), swishing one around in your mouth will help your performance. Carbohydrate receptors in your tongue?

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Cold Weather running

Not right now. But there is a study linked over at Sweat Science about athletes acclimatizing to cold-weather exercise. apparently the athletes were tested after acclimatizing in workouts at 5C. My question is, why didn't they acclimatize the athletes to cold weather?

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Race Report #2 -- A Post-Heart Attack PR

Another race day. July 4th, races all over town. I chose the one which starts and finishes in front of my house. A 5k, almost perfectly flat. I was planning to go out in about 7:00, in an attempt to keep my heart rate down below 150. I did manage to keep my heart rate below 150 for the first mile, but my mile split was not 7:00. I crossed the mile marker in 6:36 and immediately began to slow down. I did go up over 150 for a brief period during the second mile, but slowing down to a bit above 7:00 pace got my heart rate back to where it's supposed to be. My 2 mile split was a little bit below 14:00 (not sure exactly what it was, because the 2 mile mark caught me by surprise). For the third mile, I felt good, so I picked it up again. My pace overall was 6:52, with a final time of 21:16.

I was 8th in my age group, and a little bit over two minutes behind the age group winner. I think I can improve on that. By the end of the summer, I think I could be a minute faster over 5k.

Sunday, July 03, 2011

Race Report

Yes, a race report. I ran in the Temple Beth El 5k, which is run at the temple of the same name, about a mile and a half from my house. I had a visit with my cardiologist a short time before the race, and he said that I should be OK, as long as I "don't try to win." I told my youngest brother about his advice. He didn't believe that I could run in the race without trying to win. He was at least partly right.

Since the race was so close to my house, I jogged up to the start for my warmup. As it was my first race since my "event," I was more than a little bit nervous about racing.

On the advice of my cardiologist, I was keeping my heart rate below 150, during training runs and now during the race. As I approached the half mile point, my wife, who was standing near the road, called out "Don't win!" I imagine this caused some amusement and confusion among the people around me. First because I was not that close to the front; the winner finished the race in 5:04 pace, while my pace was closer to 7:30. Second, because who cheers for someone not to win?

The whole course is on roads, in the area around the temple, with the finish line in the temple parking lot. About the first half mile is a gradual uphill, then it's downhill to just about the mile point. When I reached the mile point, I got my mile split of just under 7:00 and realised that I was going too fast. Just then, as if to confirm what I was thinking, my heart rate monitor's alarm started going off. I looked down, and my heart rate, just as I was beginning another half-mile climb (this time on a larger, steeper hill) was 154. So, I had to take it easy on the way up the hill. When I reached the two mile point, my heart rate has settled down into the high high 130s, and my split was around 8:30.

Because my heart rate had dropped, I felt confident that I could pick up the pace a bit. From about 1.5 to almost three miles was downhill, so it had been a bit of a rest for my heart and I felt that I could easily take a bit more. I watched my heart rate more closely, checking every few seconds to see how I was doing. I kept it in the 140s, and finished the race in 23:09. An excellent showing for my first race back.

I've been increasing my mileage since then, and I think I can do better than 7:30 pace, and still keep my heart rate at a reasonable level. My doctor and my wife both want me to get a training partner. I joke about not being able to find someone at my level who is CPR certified. The difficulty is actually finding someone who is at my level who is also on my schedule. At the moment, I can't run in the morning. I take four of my five medications in the morning, including the two which keep my heart rate regulated. I suppose I should ask my cardiologist about running first thing in the morning. That might make it easier to find someone who could be there to at least call 911 if something should happen.

Tomorrow morning, I'll be running in my second race since my "event". I'm going to try to update a bit quicker than a month after the fact this time.

Saturday, April 09, 2011

I'm not going to show anyone my scar.

I have a hard time getting to the computer now that I have my second kid in middle school. He’s on here more than ever, and it takes the jaws of life to get him to leave. My daughter uses her computer, but shelling out for another computer is just not in the budget these days. Why is it that as soon as I start getting ahead financially, the economy tanks? This has happened before. Is this some kind of conspiracy to keep me from getting ahead?

I’ve been running at night lately. I take a a Beta Blocker, an ACE Inhibitor, a Platelet Inhibitor and an aspirin (an antiplatelet) in the morning. The beta blocker, as I understand it, interferes with my heart’s ability to speed up in response to stresses. This is intended to help prevent a second heart attack. Excuse me, “cardiac event.” I didn’t have a heart attack, I had a cardiac event. Next time I have an event, I want balloons, elephants, celebrities.

Anyway, I take this medication first thing in the morning (I also take a statin at night -- statins work best at night because, again as I understand it, that’s when liver function is its highest). I figure that that’s probably not the best time of day to go for a run, since the medication hasn’t really kicked in, yet. At 5:30, my resting heart rate is around 49 to 52. My exercising heart rate is around 130-145. I’m not sure what those rates would be in the morning. In addition, my wife would rather that I be on the road at a time of day that other people are also out on the road. So, I go out after I get home at 5:30 PM. I’d still like to be going out at 3:00 or 3:30 in the afternoon, but I’m at work until 5 and even if I could arrange to take my lunch then, I would’t have anywhere to shower. I’m still thinking about trying to rearrange my day so that I could run then, and I’ve been dropping subtle hints with my bosses about the best time of day to run.

All this antiplatelet medication has had some interesting effects. I bruise easily -- small bruises have appeared on my arms when I can’t remember anything unusual or traumatic happening -- and I bleed a lot. If I cut myself shaving (and I do that a lot now), I end up with a large scab, no matter what the cut looks like. I used to heal quickly, now things take a bit longer. Of course, that was happening anyway, since I’m now over 50 and that kind of slows down at this age anyway.

I posted an ad on the local running message board for a running partner. So far, no responses. My wife would like there to be someone to call 911 if something should happen to me. I think I’ll add something to my initial ad making it clear that I don’t actually need anyone with any CPR or medical training, just a willingness to call for help.

My running has actually been getting better. Not like it was seven months ago, but I am improving. My times are down around 8:30 pace over the course of 4 to 5 miles. I think that I can improve some more, maybe get back down below 7:00 pace. I think that a large part of the reason I’m not back at 100% is mental. I think I’m slower because I’m careful. When your heart rate monitor is set to give you a warning when your heart rate exceeds 141, it does limit your ability to run fast. I'll have to discuss things with my cardiologist.

On another note, I can tell you one really effective way to lose weight. I don’t recommend it, since it involves being in a coma, but I did lose some weight while I was unconscious.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Regular Schedule

I'm on a regular schedule now, running (or at least jogging) on Sundays and Thursdays, rehab on Tuesdays. I've been getting a lot of ads for this outfit lately. Of course, it immediately caught my eye. A sponsor? That would be great. I'd love to not have to worry about the ever-increasing cost of running shoes, and if I could afford an actual coach, I might see some real improvement in my times (still thinking about my times, even after cardiac arrest).

I'm just not sure about the "system". Whether I have to buy their product would be a consideration. Between medical bills and college tuition, I don't have disposable income any more. Strength training without a gym membership would be just fine with me, but their equipment isn't free. I'll have to think about it and find out more before I decide what to do.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011


I passed a milestone in rehab. I am down to only one session a week now, and I'm getting some exercise outdoors. Well, a little bit of exercise outside. I ran around the block twice (half a mile each time). My wife wants me to do my outdoor running where she can keep an eye on me. At least I don't have to run around a quarter-mile again and again -- I will have to run only half as many laps.

The temperature was up in the 30s, and I was very comfortable. Wearing the jacket made it hard to see my heart monitor watch, so I had to take off the watch and carry it. I'll have to wear the jackets with elastic in the wrists, so I can keep the sleeves above the watch.

I'm hoping it warms up a little, so I can go out without a jacket. Unfortunately, here in upstate New York, we have 10 more weeks of winter.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

I'm a Celebrity

My story was published in the local newspaper. The reporter, a columnist in the weekly in the small town where I almost died(!), did a very nice story on my "event."

This story ran in November, and a followup ran in December.

Since my "event," I've been very emotional -- or more likely, I don't have the ability any more to suppress my emotions. I get choked up whenever I read this story.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011


what is the logo on the side of this shoe supposed to be?

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

I am the luckiest man alive

In the summer of 2010, I decided to run my first multi-sport event. Since my bicycle is a hybrid on- and off-road bike, I chose an off-road duathlon with a running course in a local park and a cycling course on adjacent unused railroad beds.

I’d been commuting on my bike for about a year, and I had been extending the distance and increasing the difficulty of my rides since the weather allowed me to ride again.

I don’t remember anything about the day of the race. I don’t remember getting up, whether I ate breakfast, or any of my morning preparation for the race. The race was 2 miles running, 10 miles biking, then another 2 miles running. At some time during the second running portion of the race (I’m not sure how far I’d gone), a small piece of cholesterol, around which a clot had formed, blocked the circumflex artery in my heart, and I went onto cardiac arrest.

As I lay on the ground, other runners stopped to help me. One of the first people to stop was Sarah, a Registered Nurse, who had worked in the Cardiology at a local hospital. She and Jamie, another runner who was trained in CPR, began working on me. A third competitor, a Physician’s Assistant (also named Sarah), assisted in the CPR. Another runner was carrying his cell phone, and called 911. Sarah called for an Automatic External Defibrillator, and shortly, a Sheriff’s Deputy arrived on a small vehicle with one. I wasloaded onto the vehicle and taken to an ambulance.

At the hospital, I was taken into the Cardiac Cath Lab. My ID had been removed at some point, the emergency personnel handed it over to the Emergency Department staff. My identity had to be confirmed and my family contacted.

The social worker in the ED noticed that my shoes had mud caked on their soles, so she immediately began checking trail races in the area. She confirmed that I had been entered in the race and called my house. My wife was not home at first, and my son decided not to answer the phone. The hospital staff tried several times to contact my wife, and when they were about ready to send a police car to my house (which would have absolutely terrified my son), my wife came home and answered the call.

At the Cardiac Cath Lab, my body temperature was cooled to 32 degrees Celsius, and two stents were inserted into my artery. Two days later, I woke up, with no memory of anything that had happened. I'm in cardiac rehab now, working my way back to where I was. I'm currently the healthiest person in rehab. Also the luckiest.