Saturday, February 28, 2009

More Flashbacks

Weeks before the flu ran roughshod over my family and me, we debated important things at my Mom's 65th birthday dinner, like ranking Beatles. My list went Paul-George-John-Ringo, with Ringo earning serious bonus points for marrying Barbara, a victim of the Madoff scandal. Otherwise, he doesn't make the top 4.

In tribute to Paul, here's a fun one.

Here are three Santana favs. Dori digs the last two very much.

Wipe Out

Frankly, last week was rough as hell.

First, I contracted the flu, but missed the 48-hour window to get drugs. I'm now convinced I've never had the flu before, or at least a strain like this. Think every symptom. I had them (and still have a few). Will and Kathryn also fought something, but won their fights. Dori, however, was diagnosed midweek with influenza B positive. It floored her, just like it hammered me. She compared the feeling of this flu to her radiation treatments in 2007.

Unfortunately, I had to work this week through Wednesday. Monday was awful, and Tuesday was a 15-hour marathon without a break. I thought I was coming around Wednesday, but hit a wall, just like when running a long distance. Time almost stopped. I was weak and sometimes dizzy. Missing two to three square meals a day wasn't helping matters. I just want to wipe away last week from my mind, and move on.

After a restful Thursday and Friday, I'm about 80% today. Today is Day Nine of Flu-orama, but I'm hoping to hop in the saddle again soon. Certainly, I'm going to reevaluate running the Tom King Half Marathon in two weeks. I'm almost sure I won't race and will search for other opportunities soon.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Great Expectorations

When I get sick, I sleep a lot. Around mid-afternoon Friday, I started feeling funny. By bedtime, I felt pretty sorry. I woke up Saturday with a major headache, body aches, chills and a persistent cough.

Somewhere on Saturday, I coached Will's last basketball game, then came home to sleep basically from 3 yesterday afternoon until 7 this morning. Apparently, that wasn't enough rest; I slept most of today. There is good news. The feeling of my eyes popping out of my head finally subsided this morning.

Complete lethargy has given way to semi-lethargy. I hope I'm well enough very soon because this week at work is one of the year's most important. I'd also like to pound some pavement again. I've missed running and training tremendously.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Kanzius Dead at 64

John Kanzius, a great man, has died at the age of 64, according to AP. Here is the brief:

John Kanzius, who had no medical background but invented a device that kills cancer cells, has died at age 64.

Kanzius died Wednesday at a hospital in Florida, where he had a winter home. Jack Martin, of Dusckas Martin Funeral Home in Erie, confirmed the death but had no further details.

Kanzius used to be a partner at Erie's Jet Broadcasting Co. He invented a device that uses heat from radio waves to kill cancer cells without harming other cells.

He created the device while suffering from insomnia brought on by chemotherapy [while being treated for leukemia].

The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston are experimenting with it.

Here's more and here's how you can help honor this man and hopefully be a big part of the cure for all cancers, including blood cancers.

R.I.P., John Kanzius.

Good Week

I've had a stretch of days during which I've had the opportunity to count my blessings.

Tuesday night at 8, a time that I'm usually getting ready to curl up with a book, I was at our school gym for some pick-up basketball. We played some four-on-four, with six of the guys under 25. Most had played organized basketball, while one tall guy recenly finished a four-year stint as a starting baseball pitcher at Vanderbilt. That dude could play.

We played four games, splitting them and finishing at 9:20. It was fun to run full court for an hour-plus and not feel tired until the very end. I couldn't have asked for better cross-training.

This morning, Mighty Pepper proudly ran three miles with me. The cold and 15 MPH wind didn't bother us. My canine friend has really been fun to run with the last few months because he stays in my rhythm. Don't tell me dogs don't smile. If you don't believe me, come watch the Mighty Pep run.

Last night, I had dinner with four friends at a nice restaurant. I hadn't been with a few for some time, and of course those fellas asked about Dori. Things were a little spiritual for a moment, as one buddy talked about helping his sick parents before they died. He talked about singing birds during one explanation, which really hit me. I told the group, "I used to hear birds once in awhile, but now I always hear them." Another comment that resonated with my friends was how Dori and I know two sets of young eyes are always upon us, and we know giving in or flinching is not an option ... before, now or ever.

So you see, I am blessed. Work is good, my wife is healthy, my children are doing well. During this morning's run, I thought about all the things that help sharpen my mind, contrasting them with the things that have hurt me in the past. In the Sharpen Camp, I would include running, a good diet, prayer, church, less TV and more reading, and hanging around positive people; in the Dulling Camp, lack of exercise, a poor diet, excessive alcohol and negative people.

I received a good piece of news via email this morning. Our friend who was in great peril is improving, though she has a ways to go. We'll pray for continued recovery and ask God to shine His Light on her life and all of ours.

The sun is about to rise, and so are my children, so it's off to a bowl of oatmeal, a Dori hug and another good day.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Mind vs. Heart

Some of us in the blood cancer blogosphere know a friend who is facing great peril at the moment. This situation has been on my mind constantly for 24 hours. I didn't tell Dori last night, but shared what I knew this morning. Dori looked like she took a punch to the gut. PJ summed up our feelings as well as anyone in a recent post. I feel anger, frustration, sadness ... all wrapped in hope and prayer for a good outcome.

I'll say this and move on. Every day is a wonderful day with Dori, and many people know I feel this way. A single friend told me Sunday that our marriage has had a profound impact on how he looks at love. After telling him how much I appreciated his frankness, I said it's amazing how much more you can love someone when you know it was almost taken away or it can be taken away.

In the back of my mind, I know the chance of relapse and another scrap with leukemia exist. I simply must acknowledge that fear, that unknown, each time I think about it, then move on to what I can control, which is the now. What's in the moment is what matters. God will take me, Dori and anyone else where He wants. My mind processes rationally, while my heart invites emotion. Like Yoda said, the future is difficult to see and emotion is always the future. Sorry to go Jedi on everyone again, but those damned movies make more sense every day.

I ran a total of nearly 14 miles Saturday and today. I tried to run the 11.2 in the park Saturday, but my achilles tendon started bothering me scaling Three Mile Hill. So I cut off the run, finishing the 5.8-mile loop instead and finishing last week with 20 miles. Saturday night, I fixed Dori (her request) and the kids a Valentine's Day dinner (gourmet Low Country shrimp and grits with sharp white Wisconsin cheese and parm and some double chocolate brownies). Sunday was spent on the Tennessee River fishing with two buddies, observing the Feast of the Holy Sauger.

Today, I worked until mid-afternoon before peeling off mid-afternoon for a President's Day run. The weather was perfect - high 40s, dry and sunny. I ran an easy eight miles aerobically, probably a 9:15/mile pace, but my achilles started acting up again around Mile Four. I've been massaging it quite a bit the last few days, but probably have to turn this matter over to a professional. I'm probably busier than stubborn, or I would have done so already.

Please pray for peace, wellness and more strength for all who need it.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Lea M.

Here's a pretty cool post from Lea Morrison, who is 14 months post transplant. Lea, who knows her donor now, has been in the ring for too many rounds, but continues to punch and counterpunch. Can you hear the Rocky music?

Dori and I read quite a few blogs and CaringBridge sites like Lea's. Like Ann, PJ, Ronni and others, Lea has a fire and spirit that inspires us. You are loved, Lea, and we pray for your continued recovery.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Faded Jeans

Dori and the kids are at a Gilda's Club party watching a movie. While the fam's away, how about a "roll in the hay," as Teri Garr once said, Friday Night Flashback style.

Marathoners looking for pace, not speed, might dig one of my favorites, Big Log by Robert Plant. Lovin' those faded jeans, RP.

No time for luvvy-duvvy, night school or any other stuff ... Watch David dance and enjoy the bass.

Cheesy Kinks. Underrated, underappreciated.

Since we're dancin', and since Dori just walked in, here's one she likes and me like.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Hootin' Owl

Walking out the door this morning, and it was a fine morning, I heard Mr. Owl calling on Mrs. Owl. By the sound of things, I'm guessing Mrs. Owl didn't resist the 5 a.m. "Hoooo's" from our neighborhood Barry White of Birds? But I didn't stick around for the fireworks. I had a five-mile run planned.

No, I didn't think about stimulus packages - owls' or federal - on this morning's run. I had other things to process. First, I listened to other birds who warmed their vocal chords, preparing to greet the soon-to-rise sun. Then, I realized how good I was feeling early in the morning. Running at a 9:15/mile pace, I was thrilled I felt so strong from the get-go. As RFD visitors know, this isn't always the case on early morning runs. Smart Jim resisted the temptation to floor it.

Yes, this was a morning to reflect as I often do and appreciate my life while tactfully tacking on training miles. Soon, I thought about something I heard yesterday morning when I had decided to check out an early morning prayer session at a remote work site I visit often. The pastor who spoke was Hispanic, a former gang member who lost two brothers to violence before he decided to join the military and then lead a life of holiness. He was one of those fiery preachers, the kind I normally don't embrace. But he was funny and believable. He preached humility. Several people in the room who are dealing with a good deal of conflict were attentive, to say the least.

So was I. Reading and applying scripture, this pastor left an impression. I realized I'm not praying enough. I remind myself periodically to humble myself before God, but I realized I need to do more of it. Others seemed to be equally perceptive.

In the darkness, my run continued; before long, I neared Mile Four, feeling no stress from the run. Soon, however, my achilles tendon began to ache more than it usually does. I thought, "Darn, I need to go see a therapist soon." That discomfort, though, could not ruin this good run and introspection.

After a stretch and walk with Pepper, Dori and I do what we normally do between 6 and 6:30 before the kids join us for breakfast - talk. After a good morning jaunt, conversing with my wife, survivor of cancer and role model to many, is something I cherish like few others. I snuck up on a smiling Dori and hugged her from behind as she prepared breakfast and the kids' lunches. I will end by telling you this: Her smile is a big reason I married her, and it's the same smile I spotted the first time more than 16 years ago. It's the smile of a good woman.

Now that's 90 minutes anyone can appreciate, all starting with a hoot and good run.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Humidity in February

This weekend was memorable, fun and relaxing.

Will's basketball team played hard and well, losing 33-25 after leading late in the game. We just ran out of steam and our best players fouled out. That said, we would have lost by 20 to that team five weeks ago, so I'm proud of those boys. Kathryn's team continued their win streak, winning 26-14. At one point, K-Girl snatched a ball away from another girl whose father played NFL football. I thought I heard Kathryn growl, but maybe I imagined that.

My sister Anne cooked dinner for my Mom to celebrate her 65th birthday. Anne's gorgonzola polenta stole the show, and we drank high-end wine to honor my Mom. It was nice to drink the good stuff and laugh and laugh and laugh. Y'all know how I feel about my Momma.

Sunday morning, Dori OK'd my trip to the Caney Fork River, where I managed to snag three healthy brown trout. All three are back in the river, thank to intense lobbying from my daughter. Last night, I finished reading an interesting retrospective of World War II. The author is a Vanderbilt professor whose son is on the 3rd-4th grade basketball team I coach. The book really challenged some sociological positions I had formulated over the years. I'm a history buff, so I recalled many of the incidents the author described. However, I felt like I learned much and walked away less sure of my view of Allied bombing of civilian Germany and other parts of the war. Ruminating on this and preparing for this morning's run, my eyes shut before 8:30 last night.

And what a good run it was. I was out of the house before 4:30. It was 50, quite humid (85%) with a dewpoint near 50. That's juicy for February around these parts. My first three miles were slow, above a 10:00/mile pace. The evening before, I caught some of the Reebok Run in Boston where Shalane Flanagan set an American record in the Women's 5,000 meters (14:47). I was not running like Shalane this morning.

My body woke up around mile three, and I started to speed up. By Mile Six, I was running a sub 9:00. I felt great, passing two other nuts who were running before 5:30. Runner's highs don't come often early in the morning, but I snatched one. That makes me feel good about the busy week I'm about to have.

It's off to the next competition.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Weather or Not

Weather in Tennessee is fickle, funky and sometimes frustrating. A few mornings ago, it was 8. Today's forecasted high is 70. I ran this morning at 6:30 in breezy conditions at 51 degrees.

Mostly downwind, my first 4.5 miles were at a 9:35/mile pace. I could have pushed it, but just felt like going easy listening to tunes. It was a no-stress run, just clicking off miles and thinkin' about stuff. I decided to swing by the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's meeting near my house and saw Superman Chuck Hendry, Coaches Mark and Heather, Sammi, Leslie and others. I met one young lady who is planning to run the Seattle full and asked if she'd be up for the 11.2 in PWP. Sounds like we run at the same pace, but her personal best in the half is 10 minutes faster than mine. I also heard the word "triathlete" in the conversation. Beware of the young'uns.

Back on the road and now into the stiff breeze, I finished an eight miler. My time was 1:17, a 9:44/mile pace. I was very happy with this run because last Saturday's was so terrible and I just needed to finish a distance run. I'm now 100% convinced I was fighting a bug last week. Tough noogies ... I still bagged 20 miles.

The forecast through mid-week looks like highs in the 60s and lows in the high 40s and low 50s. Can you say speed work at Radnor and miles in the hills? It's time to ramp up for three weeks before tapering.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Good morning, Pepper

Wednesday night, Dori said she didn't feel well. Her symptoms were similar to mine earlier in the week - lethargic, headaches and a little cough. When I'm under the weather, we don't worry too much. When Dori doesn't feel well, well ... you know.

Dori woke up at 5 this morning and said, "I feel good." Music to my ears. "Are you going to run?" she asked. "Yes, a short one with Pepper," I mumbled.

Mighty Pepper and I headed out for a three-miler into a good SW breeze and 37 degrees on a clear morning. It felt good outside. Pepper, who snapped a toenail more than a month ago, ran well. He is now fully recovered.

This morning's run was the first time Pepper and I were in sync for the whole run. Pepper, who is now 3, is part dalmatian, part black lab. That is a cocktail for craziness in a young pup. He really looks like he came from the Island of Misfit Dogs. It's nice to see the boy continuing to mellow. He has become a good friend. Dori and the kids love him, and so do I.

Our friend Donna is scheduled to have another baby this month. She e-mailed me the other night saying they're going to bank the baby's cord blood. What a cool idea, for those of you who have the opportunity. Donna, a fellow runner and woman with tremendous spirit, is ready to have her baby and get her running shoes back on. Sounds like hubby Runcie is going to be watching some kids on the weekends. We're thinking of you, Donna!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Good Gloves

Tomorrow morning's low is supposed to be 8 degrees, so that motivated me to run this evening when it was 23. Turns out, tonight's run felt good.

One lady in her driveway called me "brave," but I volleyed, "It's not bad once you get moving." Tomorrow morning would have been brave. One recent investment, a pair of running gloves, have helped matters a great deal the last few weeks. My other gloves "leaked" and just didn't do the trick. That was a smart 15 dollars.

I'm glad tonight's five-miler went well. I needed it. I've felt lethargic since Saturday's dud, and work stress built up this week. A four-mile jog yesterday morning felt wrong, so I've been a little short during some conversations.

Yesterday, I dragged my sorry behind at a 10-minute pace, but today was better - about a 9:00/mile pace. I'll tack on one more moderate run before my long run on Saturday.

By the way, Chuck Hendry is more than halfway to his LLS fundraising goal.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

UnSuper Comedy

Our family is watching the Super Bowl, and Dori and I are wondering at what point in time the "kids" who write advertising ceased to be creative. It seems like every commercial is rude. Rude isn't funny. Funny is.

A torch was passed this afternoon to my son, who beat me in a game of H-O-R-S-E. He nailed pressure shots. He celebrated, but not rudely. Maybe he'll write Budweiser commercials one day.