Friday, August 31, 2007

A day of rest

The Virginia Beach Half Marathon is less than two days away. Thanks to all the well wishes from everyone before the race.

I have taken a vacation day today to rest, be with Dori, get the leg worked on and piddle a little around the house. Anne and I leave in the morning for VB, and Dave Baum and Dan Flagler will be picking us up at the airport.

My family and friends who know me well know that I am very competitive. I don't like to lose or fail. I can be stubborn about it, though I've mellowed over the years. But the fire is always in you. I've had athletic failures in my life, but wonderful successes, like my high school golf team winning the state, my Navy base basketball team beating the Marines in the championship (on an injured leg, BTW) and others. It would be nice to add a PR (personal record) to the list.

I am hell-bent on getting this leg as ready as possible so I can run 13.1. Dori is an inspiration, and 150 friends and family are supporting LLS. I've trained very well, never eaten better in my life, gotten adequate sleep ... and still, I have this leg thing looming over the whole weekend. I have been stretching continually the last week and hope the massage today loosens up the calf for Sunday.

I found a few interesting links about the race. This article says it all, and this quote sums up what the race means to me and so many:

"A lot of time when people set out to run these things, some things stand in their way. But if your doing it for charity, or maybe even for a specific person, it's just that much more of a motivator to get you up at 6 in the morning and run," said Erin Gaul, race spokeswoman.

Or 4:15 in the morning.

I also found a link to a virtual tour of the course, which I found very cool. Enjoy, and happy Labor Day!

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Less than four days until race

A lot of good has happened this week.

The biggest news is Dori has two perfect matches for a probable transplant, and they're both young women. It was tough learning Dori's sister, Kathy, was not a match. I know she would have loved to have been the one. But after that bummer, we learned about the perfect matches. Positive and even keeled, even when you get bad news, helps a lot.

Tuesday's Bone Marrow Donor Drive was a rousing success. More than 100 new folks are now on the Registry. Thanks to everyone who participated! Dori and I believe one day we're going to learn a friend who registered yesterday - like Marian Kohl, Michelle Cochran, Lucile Houseworth, Courtney Stevens, Maria Caldwell, Denise Shaw, Claire Eckl or one of those great SBA moms - will give someone they don't know the gift of life. I know I left out some folks (I wasn't there all day), but all of you are angels, like Dori says. If you still want to get on the Registry and potentially save a life, click the link to the left and order a swab kit. The process is easy and you'll be doing a very good deed.

By the way, yours truly was on Fox 17 talking about the drive. The kids thought it was neat to hear their Mom's name on the news and their Dad doing one of those "soundbites." Also, the photo I posted is of Janet Rosenberg from the Legal Aid Society, which hosted the all-day event in their offices. Janet organized the event exceptionally well. As we say in the Navy, "Bravo Zulu, Janet!"

Please continue to keep Candy Rucker in your prayers. She still does not have a match that is healthy. How small is the world? VERY. I learned yesterday that her Dad, Raleigh, and I worked together at The City Paper 6-7 years ago. I knew he had some daughters, but I didn't know their names. I met her family Tuesday, and enjoyed talking with them.

Every gift is precious, and many of our friends and family (I estimate 150 so far) have given to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. My fellow NFIB employees have really stepped up over the last week, boosting the overall effort nicely. Thank you Sharonda Hampton and all who helped with this. The recent contributions have lifted my personal efforts (online and offline) to nearly $20,000. Combined with Julia Ciarlo Hammond, her sister, and Dori's friend Becky Reese, we're approaching $30,000 raised for LLS. Not bad. Dori thought I was loopy in June to put down $50,000 as a goal. When all is said and done, I think we'll have an effort of which to be very proud, thanks to the incredible generosity of so many. Dori has really appreciated it. So many more will.

Oh, yes. The leg. My left calf is stiff, despite lots of stretching. I ran 5 miles Monday at race pace (8:45), which went well. Today, I went to the Y for my last run before Virginia Beach. I was cruising for two miles, when I felt stiffness again. I stopped, called "Mr. Miyagi" (neuromuscular therapist Keith McCord) and scheduled an appointment for Friday afternoon. I'm understandably concerned and was actually a little down this afternoon, but I will do everything I can to run this race. If the left calf loosens up, I will set a PR. Conditions look like they will be good Sunday ... a mild cold front is heading for the Eastern Seaboard.

Positive and even keeled helps a lot. Thank God for the gift of life we have every day and the next life we are preparing to enjoy.


Sunday, August 26, 2007

Lance issues wake-up call

Every two days, we have another 9/11 - 1,500 people die each day from cancer.

That's the message from Lance Armstrong, who is on a noble crusade to wake up the world and slothful American politicians more interested in achieving personal triumph instead of serving humanity. This morning, Dori called me from the hospital to alert me that Lance would be appearing on Meet the Press. A link of the program can be found here, while a Take 2 link is available here.

The statistics are staggering - 1.3 million people diagnosed with cancer each year in our country, 600,000 a year die, and 1 in 7 will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime. The "pervasive" problem, Lance says, is only going to get worse. Meanwhile, some presidential candidates are ducking the issue, and Congress is cutting funding while going on a profligate pork spending spree (ever read about earmarks?). The cancer problem is complex (200 types), and silos exist everywhere. Now throw in Lance, a cancer survivor who captured our fascination by winning seven Tours de France. His Foundation, linked on this page, has sold 60 million yellow Livestrong bracelets. He is mobilizing a political army. It's encouraging.

If you're like me, you have friends with whom you'd share a foxhole. Lance, who I of course don't know, is near the top of my list. I realized today what I'm doing by raising money and awareness for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society is one tiny cog in a giant wheel. Many people are doing something similar as part of their busy lives.

That wheel that steers to a cure for cancer may now have direction with Lance behind it. But the engine isn't Lance, it's people united in a common cause. People like you and me. In our little corner of the planet, many of you have helped already by donating money to LLS. But you and I can do more. Some of these things include:

- Contacting your senators and congressman, asking them to focus attention on the cancer epidemic.
- Giving generously and consistently to the foundations and societies that are researching for a cure/cures. Professional fighters go down after many blows, not just a few. Cancer doesn't want to lose, but we must knock it out.
- Making the issue top of mind and speech. People influence people. Buy a yellow LiveStrong bracelet. Tell your friends this issue belongs at the top of our national conversation. Share personal stories in forums, media, the dinner table, wherever.

My mom, sister Anne and I have talked about how there are two types of people in this world, "those that get it and those that don't." I think you know what this means, but here's an explantion. My view is that one pack is pursuing personal belongings and gratification or maybe stuck in a rut from something circumstantial. Sometimes, we go in and out of this "condition." This morning, Dori and I laughed/shook our heads when we read about an SEC football coach, who after years of watching his players have trouble with the law, say "we're kinda drawing the line." Meanwhile, other programs have little to no trouble because the coaches drew the line a long time ago, and golly gee, the players stay out of trouble. Go figure.

The people in Pack Two have had their life-changing epiphanies and are busy helping, consoling and sacrificing any way they can. When they wake up, they spring to action to make our temporal life better and prepare for the next life; when they go to sleep, they recount, reflect and pray for intercession from our God. Dori, Mom, Anne and I know many of these people - we're fortunate to be around them.

I don't know if Lance is a man of faith; he struggled with his faith earlier in life, according to his book. Lance did catch my attention today, however, when he said people who have cancer are blessed. His explanation on Meet the Press is beautiful. Clearly, God is working through Lance Armstrong right now.


Saturday, August 25, 2007

Mr. Miyagi to the rescue

"You have dense calves."

That's what Keith McCord, the neuromuscular therapist, told me this morning. Now that wasn't quite as blunt as a letter with results from a physical I did four years ago, which began, "You are obese." My BMI has gone from 30 to just over 20 since that embarrassing letter.

Back to the leg, Keith said he noticed significant tension in the left calf and some tension in the right. We talked about my stretch routine, and he showed me two other stretches he wants me to do at least twice a day. Since there is no inflammation or injury, he recommended I apply heat, as well, during the day and before the race. No more ice and elevation for this boy.

The deep tissue massage is an odd experience. When it was over, I felt drunk. Parts of it are soothing, parts painful. When Keith got to a pressure spot, which I identified by breathing harder or saying "6" or "7" on the Richter Pain Scale, he stopped and worked it to get the blood moving around. Please don't read that sentence again on its own. Anyway, short term pain, long term gain. I couldn't help but think of Mr Miyagi from "Karate Kid" slapping his hands together and healing Daniel with his magic. Lo and behold, that movie was on cable today. The kids and I watched it (they loved it).

Keith said to take it easy this weekend, but a Wednesday run would be a good test. I'll hit the Arc Trainer Monday, and run 3-4 miles Wednesday. Hopefully, that will go well, and I can go into Sunday's race with full confidence. Maybe I'll load "I Have Confidence" by Julie Andrews and "Feelin' Stronger" by Chicago in the iPod.


Friday, August 24, 2007

Photo gallery

My sister, Anne, who is a big dog in the art community of Nashville, had an art showing at her studio last night. After the kids and I visited with Dori at the hospital, we went over to check out her paintings and see some friends. I'd guess 125 people cycled through, and many bought paintings. Kathryn and Will had a great time, as evidenced by the "cucumber spa" photo, and they bought some of Anne's paintings for their rooms.

I am very proud of my sister, who is a better person than she is an artist. And she's one of the best artists you'll ever know. Check out her Web site here. I also tossed in a photo of Dori with the kids last week on the first day of school. Dori started a tradition when K-Girl was in kindergarten of taking commemoration photos when school starts.


Thursday, August 23, 2007

'You're going to race.'

Never believe what you read on the Internet.

That elliptical machine I've been working out on at the Y isn't an elliptical machine. It's an Arc Trainer from Cybex. I also misspelled "elliptical" for about a week. Nice. I did 45 minutes today to keep the HR elevated before raceday.

So I went to Vanderbilt Sports Medicine Clinic for a look-see at my calf strain and some professional advice. Dr. Gene Hannah had me do some stepping, then they took some x-rays. "This looks good," Dr. Hannah, reviewing the pictures with me. "You're going to race."

He recommended I get some thin heel pads, which I immediately bought. He said I might even put these in my racing shorts in case of a flare-up on raceday. He also said I would benefit from a massage, and after the race, some detailed exercises to ensure the problem doesn't recur. He recommended no running until raceday, just low impact stuff to keep the heart strong. He gave a few other tips, and off I went, a very happy camper. I'm getting the deep tissue massage on Saturday.

Dori, as you probably know, is midway through Day 1 of chemo. She'll get two doses of chemo on Days 3 and 5. She's feeling good, but won't be, most likely, in a day or so. She posted other information and updates of our friends with health challenges at CaringBridge.

Oh, yes. The total amount raised for LLS by me, Becky Reese and the Ciarlo sisters is almost at $25,000. I think our friends and family have contributed just short of $15,000 so far. It's hard to track since some are mailing in. Thanks to those of you who have informed me about the corporate matches. I enjoy telling Dori and our support group how much WE have raised for this cause to conquer leukemia and lymphoma and support her.

You all are appreciated very, very much. I am grateful for the support.


Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Sports medicine, here we come


I just posted on CaringBridge about Dori ... she'll be in the hospital for five days getting consolidation chemo. I am also going to VUMC tomorrow, the Vanderbilt Sports Clinic to be specific. I have an appointment regarding my left calf muscle, which is starting to feel better.

My co-workers are used to seeing my leg iced and propped up on my desk. I am sure that is a pretty sight. Tonight, I hit the Green Hills Y and did the eliptical for an hour ... 1,350 calories later, I was done and home. I love the low impact of that machine ... I never felt distress in my calf the whole hour.

I've had a few friends step up and give advice on the calf muscle injury, as well as some family share some loving concern. Sharon Flagler, wife of fellow Vanderbilt grad Dan Flagler in Maryland, is a good runner. She's had the injury before, as well as some other injuries. She advocates some muscle relaxers, among a few therapies. Training partner Ann DeNunzio gave me a name of a doctor who specializes in neuromuscular science, especially with runners. Ann isn't the first person who said I would benefit from a deep tissue massage. Buddy Mike Hollis said the same. Both runners said they are painful but worth it.

I know there are a lot bigger problems in this world right now than my stupid leg. Our family is facing one of them. That said, this race means a lot to me personally. First and foremost, it is a way to honor my wife and her courage. Just like her fight, it has had its ups and downs. But it is about reaching a goal, when you come down to it. Training has also been highly therapeutic, helping to alleviate the stress of this summer, and a way to channel energy positively.

I am confident I will be able to run in Virginia Beach in 12 days for my wife and fellow leukemia survivors. It won't be the end of the world if I cannot complete the race, but I expect I will be emotional if I do not. My mom and sister, Anne, are concerned I may do permanent or serious damage if I run through an injury. Calf injuries can get gruesome, I am told and have also learned from researching. I don't expect I'll be irrational on race day, just damned determined and eager to finish.

Please continue to keep Dori, Father Kibby, Kim Swindall and Chuck Hendry in your prayers.


Sunday, August 19, 2007

Leg trouble

Our family has been praying for Chuck Hendry, whose AML is in remission, and Father Pat Kibby from Cathedral of the Incarnation, our church. Chuck checked back in the hospital Friday, after losing an astounding 20 pounds in three days. His story is being chronicled on under "chuckhendry." Father Kibby is having heart valve surgery on Tuesday. He has been good to Dori and our family. Please keep both men in your prayers this week.

My calf muscle is not in good shape right now. After yesterday's run, I felt I had made some progress. Today at the Y, after one mile, I felt the familiar pain in my left calf that sidelined me from the Tom King Half Marathon in March. I used to get this injury when I played softball and was 25 pounds heavier. I felt soreness after last week's 11-miler and stayed off it this past week.

It's frustrating because I feel great aerobically right now, but now I am dealing with this sideliner. The calf strain is probably at Stage 1 of three possible stages, from what I am reading. I have microtears in the muscle that could worsen if I run more. For recovery, I am supposed to elevate the leg above my heart as often as possible, ice it four times a day over the next three days, stretch, compress and rest. I slept with the leg elevated last night and will do so for the next two weeks. I will not run until Sept. 2, but I have no other choice. These injuries require one to four weeks for recovery, from what I have read. I am so determined to run and will bum if I cannot complete the VB Half. I want to do well for Dori and I've never trained harder for anything.

If anyone has a panacea or an incredible doctor to refer, please share. Money isn't an object.


Saturday, August 18, 2007

Training update

I've been concerned about my left calf muscle being tight, so I've been staying away from the running ... until yesterday.

Last night at the Y, I ran 1.75 easy miles to test the leg. The run felt effortless, but the muscle was still stiff. I decided to stop running and do 40 good minutes on the Cybex eliptical cross-trainer. That machine is excellent ... it's low impact and works the body.

Today, I went to the Y to run a little farther. I used some Icy Hot on my calves and stretched beforehand, then ran 5.0 miles at my race pace, 8.45/mi. The great news ... I felt like I was walking. My HR was only at 145, so I hope the machine pace is correct. The calf muscle is still a little stiff. I would like to get in one more long run - between 8 and 10 - before the race, which is 15 days away. The closer we get to race time, the less we runners train.

Eating is so important right now, and I've been a very good boy, Johnny, as Men at Work might say. I've been eating a wide variety of fruit, whole grains, granola and oats, and the other foods I recently mentioned. I've had one beer this week and ice cream once the last month or so; those of you that know me well probably think that's a misprint. I look at all the treats in the house and imagine they are foods I do not like - calamari, scrambled eggs, goat cheese, etc. The good people who have been making meals have brought us healthy, tasty food, which is much appreciated for many reasons. Most importantly, Dori must eat well through this stretch. Thanks to our friends, she is.

I thought you might enjoy a post from friend, Rex Hammock, and comment from Paige Clancy about CaringBridge and Dori. Read more here. Rex not only is a great guy, but he's also one of the original Nashville bloggers (and a good one). I work with his Hammock Publishing team, and think a lot of them - Summer, Laura, Lena, all of them. Paige "The Stalker" and I worked together at The City Paper 5-6 years ago ... she also has a cool neighborhood-focused blog here. They are very good writers.

The first week back at work went well. I talked to Dori often, but not for long periods of time. I actually got some things done at work, and was welcomed back in a special way by NFIB-ers. You heard about Julia Ciarlo Hammond's effort with her sister, Christine. Well, several others pitched in to donate a healthy sum to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. Some other efforts for Dori and LLS may also be underway at NFIB.

One last note: Janet Rosenberg at the Legal Aid Society - where we're having the downtown blood and bone marrow donor drive Tuesday, Aug, 28 - tells me 75 people have already signed up! Middle Tennesseans can register by calling Janet at 780-7130. One note to blood donor participants: You will be eligible for a raffle for a restored '67 Mustang from Blood Assurance, which is managing the drive.


Thursday, August 16, 2007


Long day, so I'll be brief.

Kathryn and Will went back to school today. From all accounts, it went well. I can tell 4th grade is going to be a lot different for Kathryn than 2nd and 3rd. It was for me ... I started thinking about girls, not just sports. In Will's 2nd grade class, the kids drew a picture that captured their summer and then they talked briefly about it. Will drew a picture of a tall hospital and said his Mom was there for 54 days. He said she walks two miles a day and has no hair. The staff and parents I saw at St. Bernard Academy this morning were wonderful, by the way.

Please read today's CaringBridge post (link on left) about the latest on Dori. We have a lot to discuss this weekend. Please also note the news release we posted about an upcoming Bone Marrow Donor Drive on Tuesday, August 28. Hopefully, you can help get on the National Registry through this effort, as well as tell folks about the opportunity.

I'm not back to running yet. I did another 40 minutes yesterday on the eliptical at the sweltering Green Hills Y; today, we were at VUMC much of the day, so no workout. I may run again this weekend, if I'm 100%. The calf is feeling about 85-95%, depending on the hour.

I'm so glad the kids are back in school. Welcome back, routine.


Wednesday, August 15, 2007

In case you wondered

This is the passage from Jeremiah 29:11. It is in a beautiful frame, courtesy of our friend John Marcheschi, on Dori's chest of drawers.

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

If you like good news ...

... then this blog post is for you.

First, Chuck Hendry, who also has AML and bonded with Dori while at Vanderbilt Hospital, is now home! Chuck is a great guy, also with a young family like us. We're very happy for him.

Check out all the good things that happened today. First, Dori went to Radnor Lake for a walk/run again, her fifth visit since Friday. She feels terrific (she updated CaringBridge tonight, so check it out).

While I was at work, I spoke to our Virginia lobbyist, Julia Ciarlo Hammond. She's new to NFIB, and I like her a lot. She and her sister, Christine Ciarlo, select a charity every year to support. Before Julia even knew me, the sisters selected the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (y'all remember I don't believe in coincidences). Julia received her fundraising packet from Christine the same day I sent the news about Dori to my co-workers. Julia told me today that Christine, who I don't even know, is running a marathon in Maine in October, and has selected Dori as her honoree. The Ciarlo sisters have already raised $8,000, so the group effort now has us well above $21,000 for LLS.

I've been back at work two days now, and work is going well. I got my bearings a little better today. At lunch, I went to the Donelson YMCA for the first time since mid-June and saw Suzanne, a staff member who has helped me train and get my BMI lower. Well, she was in shock when I told her about Dori and really empathized. Midway through my workout on an eliptical machine, she comes to tell me the Donelson Y plans to hold a fundraising car wash for LLS in honor of Dori, probably Sept. 29. There are angels all around us, folks. Do you think God was speaking to me today?

I forgot to tell you all that last week, when Dori was worrying about a possible transplant, I reminded her about some helpful scripture (Jeremiah 29:11) friend John Marcheschi shared with us. Dori nodded I'm hearing you. A few minutes later, she turns on the TV and this man on Channel 15 starts quoting the SAME SCRIPTURE. Yes, Lord, we will open our ears.

More good news ... family members and friends of Dori and a lymphoma patient, Candy Rucker, who we heard about through good friend Marian Kohl, are organizing a blood and bone marrow donor drive. I'm helping with press and working to loop in the blood collection agency and VUMC and the Ingram Cancer Center. Mark your calendars for Tuesday, August 28, from 8 a.m to 5 p.m. More than 55 are already on the list, which is a great start. Details to follow, so stay tuned! You can help save a life!

I haven't run this week, not because I don't want to. My left calf is bothering me after Saturday's 11-miler. So I lifted and did stomach work last night and did 40 minutes hard on the eliptical today, burning 900 calories and climbing 2.1 miles. It felt good. I will not run until I feel 100% because I've rushed back before with a calf strain, which is not a good idea. I'm stretching, hydrating, carbing up and giving massages to the affected area. I hope to be full speed very soon.


Sunday, August 12, 2007

VU Fan Day photos

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Like many Vanderbilt football fans, I'm pretty excited about our prospects this year. Long the doormat of the SEC, this year looks promising. We have talent, depth, experience and confidence. In years past, I've been susceptible to drinking the Commodore Kool Aid, but this year it tastes real.

Will and I headed to Dore Jam, or Fan Day, this afternoon to meet the players. Despite extreme heat and Will staying up until 1 a.m. at a buddy's house last night, we had a blast. We saw many friends who asked about Dori, and Coach Bobby Johnson signed a poster with a note to Dori to keep doing well. I took many photos, two of which I've posted here: Will with All-SEC receiver Earl Bennett and receiver George Smith and Will with Coach Johnson.

It's time for a little Swami Sez. I like the Dores going 7-5. Best case, I see 8-4; worst case, 5-7. Most people I know are saying 6-6. Here's how I see the year transpiring.

VU starts the year with a 38-10 thumping of Richmond, which is a respectable Division I-AA team. They beat Duke last year 13-0. Yes, it's Duke, but Duke is I-A. Next, a huge game at home against Alabama coached by a man of his word, Nick Saban. I used to like the Tide. Still do, just not their new coach. He's a mercenary, and Bama sold out by stuffing $4 million a year in his back pocket. Amateur sports? We will beat the Tide, not because Saban is a jackass, but because we're better this year than they are and due to beat them. 23-17 Dores.

Next up, Ole Miss. Hotty Toddy, Gosh Almighty, I see a blowout. 34-16, Dores. Sadly, this will be the beginning of the end for the Ed Orgeron era in Oxford. He is SOOO entertaining. After a week off, we beat Eastern Michigan. Pick your score, they are a lower echelon MAC team. After that, it gets tricky. I see Auburn as vulnerable this year. We may even upset them. But I can't pick it. 23-20, Tigers. Georgia will come to Nashville the following week for a key match-up. We beat the Dawgs last year. I still think they are down and beatable. 27-19 Dores, who are now 5-1.

The following week, with media attention at a frenzy, we go to Columbia to play the Gamecocks. We never play them well and they out-physical us. This year, we stay with them but fall short, 31-20. After a breeze win against Miami of Ohio, we go to Florida, to whom we have lost by a combined 13 points the last two years. The National Champs are better than us, and will win if they bring their A game. If they don't, we have an outside chance. 30-20, Gators. Dores are now 6-3.

Next up is a HUGE game against Kentucky. The Cats are improved, but so are we. I like us this year because I trust Bruce Fowler, our defensive coordinator, Coach Johnson and Special Teams Coach Belin will find a way to reverse the embarrassment of our performance in Lexington last year. Dores triumph, 41-26. Much as I'd like to, I can't pick the Dores over the Vawls the next week in Knoxville. We play well, but lose late, 23-20, on a field goal. The final game against Wake Forest should be a classic. If we win, we go to a big bowl; if we lose, it's off to Shreveport. This one is a toss-up. I'll temper my enthusiasm and predict a 28-27 loss at home.

Now that the mood has been struck, what's your two cents? Am I nuts? I don't think so. We have too much talent and momentum. I hope to see a lot of you at Dudley Field, as we have eight home games this year. Our kids graduate and stay out of trouble. We have a program of which to be proud. GO DORES!!!

Saturday, August 11, 2007

I'll take it

This morning, I ran 11 miles in 1:44:00, or a 9:27 pace. Though the plan was to go 13.1, I'm not disappointed in the training run.

Ann and I set out, reaching the 2.75 turnaround on Belle Meade Blvd. in 24:30, or an 8:54 pace. I felt fine. When we got back to Percy Warner Park at 49:30, exactly a 9:00 pace, I refueled and told Ann I needed to drop the pace. The temp when we started was 72 degrees, with humidity at 60% and that creepy dew point at 66 degrees. It really zaps you the longer you go. I was a mass of sweat, just sucking down gatorade and GU to stay energized.

We made the 8.25 turnaround in 1:16:30. We were now at a 9:16 pace and I was fading. Ann assumed the lead now, and I could not keep up with her. She stopped at 10 miles, and said, "I think we need to do 11." No arguments here, especially after my left calf started feeling tight, like a cramp was coming on, at 10.5 miles.

When we finished, it was 78 degrees and several degrees higher wherever the sun was shining. I'm certainly not down after this run, nor am I up. For one, the total climb on this run is 452 feet, while elevation change is 924 feet. Virginia Beach will be flat. Also, the conditions right now aren't easy. Virginia Beach is normally warm, but I don't expect things will be much worse than they are now. Also, I expect adrenaline will fuel me home pretty good Sept. 2. I also didn't see anyone else on the boulevard running personal bests this morning. I saw lots of slow pacing, except for one skinny dude.

This week, I ran 34.5 miles, an all-time best. I have never run that far, even in the cooler weather I prefer. I promised Will I would run with him tomorrow, so I will exceed 35 miles. I have one more week of hard training, then I will taper. BTW, the PowerGel protein/carb recovery shakes are awesome. I had the Creamy Chocolate this morning. Tasty. If I get near a Sonic, I'm going to hammer the Powerade slushee that Donna Clements also enjoys.

I'm going back to work Monday. For how long, I'm not sure but it looks like at least a few weeks. Dori has another biopsy Thursday, the day the kids start school, and we have a consultation with Dr. Greer. We're reading up on bone marrow transplants, which may be in the mix. If we go that route, this process will be long and drawn out. I don't care how long it takes ... I just want Dori cured and enjoying the wonderful life she has.

Have a great weekend everyone!


Friday, August 10, 2007

Raceday simulation

Tomorrow, Lord willing and the creek don't rise, I wiil attempt to simulate the Virginia Beach Half Marathon.

I've mapped out a course that is more challenging than the VBHM. The plan is to go slow early at 9:15 for the first mile, then drop to a 9:00, then 8:45s after mile 2. This would have me at 1:37:00 at mile 11, or an 8:49 pace. With an 8:30 pace the last 2.1 miles, I will get under 1:55:00, 1:54:51 to be exact.

I ran 5 miles this morning at the Y simulating the first 5 tomorrow. I felt as good as I have in awhile. Time: 44:09. Total mileage to date this week: 23.5 miles. Lunch today was organic peanut butter and blackberry preserves on whole wheat bread, red grapes and watermelon, and water. Dinner tonight is a lasagna from friends Courtney and Greg Stevens. I'll snack on bananas and nuts and hydrate.

I won't be a talkative running partner, if Ann D. joins me, since I have put together a raceday mix on my iPod. Twenty-five minutes before the race, I'll stretch and warm up to Rhapsody in Blue by Gershwin, conducted by Leonard Bernstein and played by the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and The Natural by The City of Prague Philharmonic. I will visualize overcoming pain.

My racing music lineup, which is below, is designed to keep me from going too fast early, find a rhythm, and avoid accelerating until late. I've learned my lesson about saving energy. I've mixed in some tunes from Dori's iTunes mix, including my favorite, Right Down the Line by Gerry Rafferty. I'm open to suggestions to any tunes that fit in the genre (but not hyped-up tunes like for a 5K). Basically, anything smooth, strong and reassuring ... Let's hear what you got!

The Long Road - Mark Knopfler
Moving On - Dream Academy
Broken Wings - Mr. Mister
Follow You, Follow Me - Genesis
Big Log - Robert Plant
Nobody Does It Better - Carly Simon
I Believe - Chilliwack
You're the Only Woman - Ambrosia (lay off, guys; at least it's not Air Supply or Eric Carmen)
Electrical Storm - U2
This is the Day - The The
Sowing the Seeds of Love - Tears for Fears
Brothers and Sisters - Coldplay
Policy of Truth - Depeche Mode
West End Girls - Pet Shop Boys
Night Fever - Bee Gees
Red Skies - The Fixx
What's on Your Mind (Pure Energy) - Information Society
What Have I Done to Deserve This - Pet Shop Boys
One World - The Police
Boys of Summer - Don Henley
Right Down the Line - Gerry Rafferty
Four short NFL Films tunes from The Power and the Glory
Three fight songs (my favorites): VU, USC and LSU (don't like LSU, just "Hey, Fightin' Tiger")
Home By the Sea - Genesis (the race finishes on the Boardwalk)

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Dori is home

Having Dori home has been wonderful.

After eight hours of being in awe, she started to settle in. The kids and I put a sign up on the door, signed by each of us and filled with hearts. She loved it. She remarked how wonderful the house looked and just took it all in, really.

Dori said it's even nice to hear the kids argue and do the dishes and laundry (I'm still doing these chores, but she's beating me to it usually). She has spent a good amount of time napping, catching up from sleep deprivation and frequent interruptions. I think last night, which she spent on a "sleepover" with the kids, was the first time in two months she slept without waking up or being woken up.

I have to share what happened as we left 11 North at VUMC. The nurses, care partners and staff lined up at the exit and gave Dori a standing ovation. By the time we got to the elevator, Dori and I were in tears. I won't name all the wonderful team members - there are so many and they were all so dedicated - but I will encourage you to read the post on CaringBridge by Alia Nunn, Dori's nurse when Dori checked in and checked out. She summed up beautifully how the staff feels about Dori. We feel the same about them.

Dori's grace and strength were invigorating to many people. Unfortunately, I saw some patients and family members take out their frustrations on the staff, which kinda hacked me off. That's not what they are there for. They're human, as are the doctors, and we didn't have a perfect stay. You can't if you're there 54 days. But we valued them as the pros they are, and they stayed true to the mission - getting Dori well and home. Hats off to them all ... we should have applauded them!

Training has been a little better this week. After Monday's fiery 10-miler, I took off Tuesday to enjoy the whole day with Dori. Yesterday, I ran 3.5 miles in the heat. It was 95 degrees, 40% humidity and 66 on the dew point. I ran shirtless and just poured out sweat. Man, it was scorching hot. I am not keeping time on super-hot runs ... what's the point? Still sore from Monday, I probably ran a 9:30 pace.

Today, I ran five miles at the Y and for good reason. It was 110 degrees in the Y parking lot. What is this, Arizona? I started out to do a brisk 10K, but felt mild foot pain and brought it down after 3.6 miles (I was at 29:30 or so and on a 7:53 pace). I actually was thinking about a sub-49 minute 10K. I felt the foot twinge again at 5.0, so I said, "Be smart ... No injuries this late in training." I still had a lot of energy, so I lifted, worked on the stomach and stretched a lot. All in all, I was doing something good for more than 90 minutes.

I'm at 18.5 miles for the week. Maybe I'll do a short run tomorrow before a long run early Saturday with Ann, who is back in town from vacation and ready to help me again. Since Ann won't be joining us Sept. 2, it looks like the Virginia Beach Half Marathon crew will be me, Navy buddy and fellow participant Dave Baum, Vanderbilt buddy Dan Flagler and my sister, Anne. All four of us know how to navigate a bar. Should be fun racing and celebrating.


Monday, August 6, 2007

A much better day

Indeed, today was a better day than yesterday.

It started with a call from Dori at 6 a.m. "Sweetie, I'm sorry if I'm waking you, but I have great news. My counts went way up." "No problem," I gurgled. "Tell me more." The long and short, as most of you already know, Dori will be home tomorrow!

The kids and I packed up most of her stuff, loaded our van, came home, field-dayed the house and did tons of laundry (I'm still doing some now at 9:30 p.m.). The red carpet is out at Belmont Park Terrace. Dori will be happy. The plants are still alive, the flowers she planted in May are fine and the house looks snazzy. The driveway has been resurfaced, too. We've had some help from our new cleaning lady, which some of Dori's friends were kind to recommend and fund for a few months. I think that's a perk we'll be keeping.

So what have I learned the last two months? A helluva lot. I know Dori is a rock and a warrior, more than I ever knew before. I know I am a mediocre Mom. I know I have not appreciated Dori in the past nearly as much as I should have. I know I am incomplete without her.

Yes, I have been a good soldier for Dori, but she made it this far, with dignity intact and her spirit stronger than ever, on her own. I feel I have helped some, but this is her own personal journey with cancer. I am a teammate and a soulmate. I have listened better than ever before, and I can still deal with tremendous amounts of stress, just like the Navy and parenting taught me. I have refrained from being judgmental, a common fault of mine. Until recently, I did well shepherding the children. The last week or so have been tougher for me, however. I have not been as patient recently with them. A lot of raw emotion has surfaced for all three of us in recent days. All of that will improve in the coming days.

I really can't wait to see how Dori acclimates to home life the first day or two. I talked with my Navy buddy, Dave Baum, today about a trip we made one time from Germany around the Cape up the Pacific to the Panama Canal. We didn't see land for 56 days, as I recall. This 53-day journey was many, many times more difficult than that mission.

Thanks so much for the nice e-mails and posts regarding my shoddy training run Sunday. They were very encouraging. Today, I went to the Y while my Mom and sister took Will to shop for clothes and Kathryn visited Dori. I had a huge chip on my shoulder and something to prove.

I planned to go hard for 10 miles. I settled in to an 8:41 pace after half a mile, then dropped to some 8:34s for awhile. I felt good, so I dropped down to 8:27s around mile 5 or so. With two miles to go, I went to 8:20. Final time: 1:25:20, or an 8:32 pace. That's my best 10 miler since a 1:16 when I was 26 and 30 pounds lighter. My HR was 164 at the end, above 90% for my age, so I was close to maxing. I think I had another mile in me, and perhaps another 3.1 with another gel. If I had maintained my pace, that's a 1:50:20 half marathon. I feel great right now. What a difference a day makes!

My takeaway is the conditions outside this week are brutal for long distance, so don't sweat Sunday's flop. My plans is to get in some long runs in the heat the next few weeks, and just see how conditions are on race day. My two speed days last week were productive. They were certainly painful. I will definitely keep up the speed work (I will do more Wednesday).

Until we blog again ... Jim

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Bad run

This morning's run was embarrassing. I didn't sleep a lick last night and "woke up" at 3:55 a.m. to eat a bagel and banana. I was running on Belle Meade Blvd. by 4:50. Temp was 75 degrees and 75% humidity. It was soupy.

I saw a doe and her fawn the first half mile. Maybe 15 feet from each other, we exchanged looks in the dark. That was the highlight of the run. I struggled the first 2.75 miles, arriving at Harding Road in 25:40. I felt lethargic. When I got back to Percy Warner Park, I said, "That's it. This isn't working. Stop. Don't ruin your day or next week's training. Go home, go to church and refocus."

When I got home, I was angry.

"You quit."
"No, you didn't, you didn't sleep last night and this was one of the hottest mornings of the year. Take it easy, big boy."

I decided to administer some punishment. I headed down to my street and ran eight very hard 200-yard dashes.

"How dare you stop while your wife just went through chemo TWICE! Aren't you reading Lance Armstrong's book, weak boy?"

I almost threw up on the seventh sprint. I felt like a powder puff on No. 8. Good, I thought. You deserve to feel like that. I'm just glad I didn't go "Herb Brooks" on myself after the U.S. Hockey's Team's effort in Norway (only makes sense if you saw the movie, Miracle).

So I missed some goals this week. I didn't run 32 miles. I had a terrible long run. Part of me is still angry and frustrated. It's the first bad week I've had in awhile. There are positives. I ran the equivalent of a marathon this week. I ran three runs in extreme heat and humidity. I did two speed sessions. I am not injured. I've had a wake-up call. More work is needed.

Weekly training recap
Tuesday - 5.0 miles, 40:58, treadmill, cooldown mile
Wednesday - Speedwork, 4.0 miles total, 88 degrees and humid/high dew point, moderate terrain
Thursday - 4.65 miles, 43:10, 91 degrees and humid/high dew point, moderate terrain, cooldown mile
Friday - 5.0 miles, 46:08, treadmill
Sunday - 5.5 miles, 52:33, 75 degrees and 75% humidity, moderate terrain; 1.0 miles of 200-yard sprints

Total miles: 26 miles or thereabouts

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Break day

I am doing absolutely nothing right now and absolutely loving it. I can't remember the last day where I had nothing planned. My Mom is taking Kathryn shopping this morning and Will is going to friend William Antony's house. What to do, what to do ... Ferris is going to enjoy his day off! I can hear Yello's "Oh, Yeah" playing in my mind on a loop.

I will see Dori around lunchtime, bearing something nutritious and delicious. The kids have seen Dori 30 times in 51 days, according to the 11th floor check-in book. I estimate I have averaged two visits a day averaging five hours total. Some days, I've been at VUMC as much as 10 hours, when my Mom has had the kids. I've spent the night three times. I haven't wanted to smother Dori, but rather be supportive. Today, I'll probably only be there a few hours.

Yesterday, I ran five methodical miles on the Y treadmill. Time: 46:08, or a 9:13 pace. I ran the last mile in 8:34 just to alleviate boredom. You know the run is easy when you are listening to The Dream Academy (that is one of the great sleeper bands of the 80s, along with Haircut 100). I almost didn't feel like I was running, except for some soreness. I had visions of lifting today, but that's just not going to happen. Today, I will devour carbs, piddle around the house and watch baseball.

Speaking of sore, I am still quite achy from Wednesday's speed work, though feeling better than yesterday. My arches and some tendons in my legs took a pounding on St. B's track. It's not a great track for that type of running (gravel, uneven in spots), but I had no options that day with my schedule.

I'm aiming for 12 miles tomorrow morning but am not putting any times goals out there. The heat, dew point ( and humidity are stifling. As a big boy, I have found through trial and error that I need more gels for energy than the average person. I have found two GU gel flavors that I don't find revolting - strawberry banana and orange burst - that I'll be using. Four should do the trick (right before and miles 4, 7 and 10), along with some recovery food I'll experiment with tomorrow. Knock on wood, I have not been experiencing soreness or pain after long runs of late.

I'm interested to hear what fellow runners and workout-aholics are eating for energy. Some of my favorites include staples like bananas, prunes, raisins (with granola and yogurt or just as a snack), apples, wheat bread, organic peanut butter, grilled chicken, gatorade, a variety of nuts, and a new one, wasabi peas (yum). What are you all eating for fuel? Lena? Paige? Michael? Meredith? Ann D.? Donna? Chime in, folks.


Thursday, August 2, 2007

Yes, it's hot

The last two days of training have been intense. I shunned the comfort of the YMCA treadmill and did both sessions outside in the heat of the day. I did so to get myself better acclimated for more hot August training and the Virginia Beach Half Marathon, which is a notoriously warm race, even at 7 a.m.

Yesterday at 4:30 p.m., I did some speedwork at St. Bartholomew's Church, while Will practiced soccer on the church soccer field. Last year, members of that congregation built a 0.3 mile trail track, which has some deceptive elevation changes. It was probably 88 degrees and humid, but not sunny. I ran the following as hard as I could: five 0.3 miles, three 0.15 miles, and 10 75-yard dashes on the soccer field. Between the running and cooldowns, I ran about four miles. I saw our good friend Meredith Libbey on the track. She says Dori's courage and my training have inspired her to push harder this summer. Meredith, you look terrific.

Today at 11 a.m. before going to VUMC to see Dori, I ran 4.65 miles in sunny, very hot conditions. The terrain was moderate with several good hills. I ran a 43:10, or a 9:18 pace. The temperature was 91 degrees at the end of the run, probably another five-six degrees hotter on the pavement. My feet were burning a bit during the run. I actually shut down the run, which was a planned 5.3 miler, a little early because I didn't want to be a hero. I had never run this far in extreme heat and have other obligations these days, as most folks know. If it were a race, I would have cranked out the last bit. Today's run was much harder than the recent 11-milers, especially after yesterday's speedwork.

I tried out some running sunglasses today that I bought at Athlete's House on Belmont Blvd. I will likely wear these on race day because the salesperson, who has run the Virginia Beach Half three times, said she paid for not wearing protection in her first race there. Apparently, the sun and seaspray can cause havoc with your eyes.

I'm at 16 miles for the week. I plan on getting in some junk miles tomorrow and a lift session done Saturday. I might reverse those depending on how I feel tomorrow morning. Sunday's predicted low is 77, so my Sunday morning run looks like it will be a doozy. Carbs and fluids, look out below ... belly beware.

Thanks to a wonderful contribution from a family member maybe to be named later and a match from that person's company, we're at $13,000 raised for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. I will soon remind everyone who has contributed to check with their employer to see if they will do a match gift. This should boost our effort a good bit and get us closer to wiping our leukemia once and for all.

By the way, Dori did 50 minutes on the bike today ... two 25-minute sessions. She's one tough chick.