Thursday, April 30, 2009

Simply, Anger

On Monday, I checked the blogs of our friend Patricia, aka PJ, like I normally do every few days. I wasn't expecting the news I read. Patricia's leukemia has returned.

Patricia, like Dori, is an AML survivor and one witty, smart chick to boot. Dori and I have never met her. We found her via the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's blog. We talked to her once on the phone on one of those leisurely Sundays we rarely have anymore. It was an enjoyable call, confirming what we thought of her as we read her blog week after week. She's a classy, sassy, wonderful lady.

We're regulars on her blog, and she visits here often. We're part of that group that includes Ronni and Ann and others. It's a wavelength thing. We're all on the same one. Like Internet family.

After I read PJ's post that she had relapsed, I called Dori to tell her. I might as well have punched Dori in the gut. Physical illness seemed possible, as I listened to her gasp for breath. An hour later, Dori called and just lost it. I understood completely, but I was in a state of numbness that slowly transformed to being pissed. I'm good with words, and those are the best I have.

Work has been insane this week, but I have thought of PJ during my limited free time. I've pondered, like Dori has, "This could be Dori." I know relapse could happen some time. It feels like it's almost happening now. No control, so live with it. That's the reality. PJ, who has seen others she likes and respects relapse, told me she understands how we feel about her relapse. Like we need the comforting. It just pisses me off.

Prayers help. I need to keep saying them, and I hope you join me. I told PJ her army is behind her, and that's part of what I meant.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

A CaringBridge Post from Chuck Hendry

This is good stuff. Thank you to Chuck Hendry for sharing, and congratulations on your finish!

Well it is over! I ran a half marathon 13.1 miles in 2:35:47.

I want to thank all of you that offered donations and support as I trained for the Music City 1/2 Marathon with Team in Training. Together we raised about $3000 that will go the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society for research and assistance to those fighting Blood Cancers.

I did this for a lot of reasons and the fact that I enjoy running was not one of them. 18 months ago I underwent a Bone Marrow Transplant and while that was a very challenging task which continues to cause some issues in my life, I have made a recovery. I have been questioned and ridiculed, out of concern, by those closest to me about my attempt to run a 1/2 marathon. I think more than anything my sanity and lack of good judgment has been questioned by Abbie and my parents. I did this to show to myself that I can still do more than I think I can. I also did it so that I can go back to Vanderbilt and visit with those patients and tell them what I did, not to brag, but as encouragement and to give them hope. So much of the fight with this cancer is maintaining the right attitude and determination to beat the disease. As I have posted at other points in this journey they really do kill you to cure you. This experience has taught me so much about myself and what is important in my life. I may not have a job right now and I still have some medical issues but I am a very wealthy man because of the love and support that I have received from each of you. God has given me the opportunity to take this journey for whatever reason and I want to do my best to thank him for my life and hopefully help others along the way. Abbie and I have been blessed with so much help and encouragement that there is no way to repay it. My goal in life is to pay it forward! So that is why I ran. I ran for Kara Hobart and Dori Brown and Kim Swindell and Lilly Heinsick and Alan Bowmar and all of the other faces out there that are running their own marathons with blood cancers. This journey will never end for me cancer has changed me in so many ways that I cannot even begin to explain, but I know that it has made me a better son, husband, father, and friend.

Thanks to all of you and please enjoy a sunset with a loved one and think of me.



Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me.

Media Coverage of the Race

The Country Music Marathon was a hot one. A 26-year-old man collapsed and died tragically from cardiac arrest after finishing the half. The TV folks focused on this story, as you would expect, rather than balance it with coverage of some of the positive things that happened, including this photo gallery that captures the day's flavor. About three marathoners a year die in races around the country, a very low number, but the coverage tends to give the impression marathoning is dangerous. That's a big pile of horse hockey. Risk is everywhere, including sitting on your couch all day pounding Cheetos.

Many friends who ran yesterday posted slower times than normal. One gal I know who averages two hours for half marathons finished in 2:16. I went out at 5 yesterday, finishing up my week's running, and can attest it was very warm. In 86 degrees but very dry conditions, I ran six miles in 57 minutes, a 9:30/mile pace. I actually stopped at the halfway mark to stretch for a minute. My heart was pounding pretty good.

My body is sore from Thursday's speed work and yesterday's run. I need a break, but am going to get back at it in the morning.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Shakin' the Maraca

This morning, Will and I headed to a spot near the five-mile mark of the Country Music Marathon. We brought Pepper, who was delighted to be included. Many runners, who have a bit of a wild streak in them, liked seeing our wild dog.

We saw the elite women marathoners pass, then the elite men. They looked so fluid. For a few minutes, all was quiet. But not for long. Soon a gathering flood of runners poured down the street. Armed with a large maraca, Will and I alternated shaking it for 90 minutes straight while yelling encouragement. Team in Training runners started streaming through. "Go, Team!" I yelled.

I saw several people I know - Ben, Mike, Tim the Barbecue Guy, Maureen, and TNT-ers Heather, Sammi, Sarah and others. The best person I spotted was Dori's VUMC 11 North pal Chuck Hendry, who was running with a buddy in the heat. He didn't look he was having fun, but he's been through worse. I yelled, "Go, you butt-kicking dude!" I'm simply amazed he ran this race so soon after fighting through his transplant.

The marathon site seems to be having problems with the live results. We'll know soon enough how things turned out.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Flashing Back

The Cars were a favorite band when I was helping Clearsil stockholders reap profits. Here's Numero Uno for Friday Night Flashbacks.

Might as well cue up some Diana Ross and a can of hairspray celebrating freedom from The Supremes, which never should have happened. Work it out girls.

Why doesn't anyone make music like this anymore? 10CC ... good stuff.

That's the Lowdown, unless you want the better version from Boz Scaggs. Or maybe you need some Elevation, courtesy of U2.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Strong Finishes

Kara Goucher and Ryan Hall left it all on the course Monday in Boston. Check out the heart.

Tonight, I ran three miles, then ran six hard 150-yard wind sprints. It was 83 degrees. I've only tallied about 15 miles this week, with a little cross-training, but am not the least bit concerned. My body needs "a break."

I'm excited about watching the Country Music Marathon Saturday morning, but am very concerned about the marathoners. It's going to be a scorcher when they finish ... the hottest day of the year. Most have been training in cold weather and they are about to get bludgeoned.

Wednesday, Dori and I heard a wonderful prayer at a celebration luncheon. It's attributed to St. Francis of Assisi.

Lord, make me an instrument of Thy peace;
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master,
grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood, as to understand;
to be loved, as to love;
for it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.


Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Third Is Pretty Good

Americans Ryan Hall and Kara Goucher fared well in yesterday's Boston Marathon, finishing 3rd in both the men's and women's races. The women's race had a photo finish, with a Kenyan beating an Ethiopian by one second. Goucher finished nine seconds back. Friend Chuck Hargrove finished in 4:07:49. Good work, Chuck!

I ran 5.5 miles this morning. It was so early, the birds were silent. The sun started to rise as I finished at 5 a.m., and the birds got to work. I needed to sleep three nights to get healed up from Saturday's long run. I was still sore, but it wasn't too bad. I am happy where I am in training.

I won't run as much this week. Maybe four times with a long run of 10-12 miles. Next week, we'll get back at it ... I'm following the Hal Higdon Intermediate model with some adjustments for time.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Boston and Nashville

I woke up sore this morning, but not as sore as I expected. My thoughts, instead, are on two races - the Boston Marathon tomorrow and Country Music Marathon here in Nashville next Saturday. Good luck to two Tennessee Chucks - Chuck Hargrove who will race in Boston and Chuck Hendry, a leukemia survivor who is running the CMM Half for Team in Training!

I love this quote from a first-time Boston participant.

“The marathon is a lot less of an athletic event than it is a mind game,” said Paquette, who hopes to soon be teaching middle school math and coaching cross-country. “At around mile 17 or 18, I’m thinking, why am I doing this? You have to convince yourself to keep running.”

Here's another observation from an Alabama man who is ready to go in Beantown.

"My first marathon was in April 2007 in Nashville. My goal was to finish in under four hours. I was saying, 'Let me finish it and I'll never run another marathon.' The last 10K is tough. You can tell after mile 20 ... it turns into a second race. Your body is telling you to stop."

An American male hasn't won in Boston since 1983, while an American woman hasn't triumphed since 1985. Two great ones - Ryan Hall and Kara Goucher - will be giving it their best shot tomorrow. Many others will be achieving in other ways.

I've run the CMM Half the last three years, but am looking forward to being a spectator this year. I plan to buy a drum, bang it and yell encouraging words from the sidelines.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

No Quit

It's pretty clear the Routine post resonated with several RFD visitors. The day after that post, the alarm actually woke me up and I almost skipped a four miler. But how can you skip after posting about routine?

This morning at 5, I headed out for my long run. I've never gone past 14. Today, I reached new territory - 15 miles. I took the first two very slowly, hitting mile 2 in 20:40. I had the road all to myself the first five miles, and didn't see a car or a runner this crisp morning until I reached downtown. As I ran up 1st Avenue along the Cumberland River, the sun began to push upward, setting up a glorious morning.

Weaving through downtown, I hit the first of a series of hills. Another hill at the Baptist Hospital at Mile 8 punched, and I punched back, with my iPod as my companion. Working my way along the outskirts of Vanderbilt's campus, I continued the gradual climb back to our house. My pace was 9:58/mile around Mile 10. At Mile 11, I stopped for the only time, stretching for 90 seconds at most. My Gatorade was almost gone, and the water stop I rely on hadn't been set up at the Athlete's House, where I buy my shoes and running supplies. Tough cookies.

A younger heavy dude passed me, but this did not deflate me. I was focused on keeping my tempo, not his, and finishing a record run. At Mile 13, I began to feel the run seriously. More bumps and small hills awaited, and each felt bigger than it really was. Unfamiliar pains visited, including feet that throbbed and a left hamstring that asked, "Are you sure about this?" "Yes, I am, hammy ... don't fail me now."

The last mile was about blocking out everything and celebrating what I was about to accomplish ... finishing my longest run ever. My final time was 2:31, a 10:05/mile pace. I'll take it ... It's a good training run.

After the run, some carbs and a shower, I headed to the ballfield with Will. His team trailed 9-1 in the bottom of last inning. I had a funny feeling we were going to rally, as I coached from first base. We did, in grand style, winning 10-9. The whole time, I kept thinking positively, "We will never quit." The kids didn't, giving themselves the opportunity and an improbable, wonderful finish. They also gathered themselves quickly and showed the other team great respect during the post-game handshake.

Dori had a clinic visit this week. Her platelets hit a new high, and her bloodwork looked excellent. Hans, my friend, I'm gonna kiss you when I see your European face the first time.

One night late, here are some Friday Night Flashbacks - some ERA-loving Partridge Family, some infamous Crowded House and smooth, break-up tunage from Level 42.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009


My friend Summer recently blogged about not depending on excuses to get up early and run. Believe me, I know the feeling. Occasionally, I still hit the alarm and cancel my plans. Most times, though, I get up.

Here's how I explain this to friends like Super Summer. First, I have made this routine what it is - a good habit. It's practically engrained now. Given my schedule in the winter and spring, my windows of opportunity are very narrow. If I don't get up early, I won't get in a run. It's a reality I accept, and heck, my mind and body are used to it. I often wake up before the alarm sounds.

Second, setting a goal (half marathon, marathon, stay healthy, whatever) is crucial. My next goal happens to be a marathon. Stay in bed, and the suffering or consequence I don't want will be worse later. Reality part deux.

The last two mornings, I awoke at 4:15 and 4:30. It takes me 15 minutes to lace up, stretch and hydrate, then it's off into the darkness. The serenity at this time of day is spectacular. The only noises are birds chirping, often loudly, the occasional dog barking or speeding vehicle, or a distant train or hum of the interstate - but it's the best time of day for stress-free running.

I ran two five milers the last two mornings and have a longer one planned tomorrow. Yes, I'm off to bed. 4:30 is always early, even if it's a routine.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Saturday, April 11, 2009


I left the house around 7:30 this morning, heading into a chilly northwest breeze and misting rain. I was actually almost cold, even though it was 48 and overcast. But I don't think running conditions get better than this. No sun, a cooling mist and a refreshing breeze. That's ideal for a long distance run.

I didn't feel strong at the beginning, but through experience I know this doesn't mean much. It took about two miles to get completely loose. Around three, I found a rhythm. Runners and walkers were everywhere. Most were friendly, smiling and waving. A few of the serious, young folk, though, still don't acknowledge the slower, older crowd. Busy, busy, focus, focus.

Around 4.5, I passed two younger women who were on about my pace. They looked like they were doing their last long run before the Country Music Half in a few weeks. So I asked them. They said, yes, they were running 10, their last long run before their first half marathon. They were excited about today's run, which was cool to see. I told them what they already knew - that the last few miles in a half are mental. They asked me how far I was going ... I said 13 in preparation for a full this summer. We wished each other luck.

I cruised into downtown feeling great. Around Mile 6, nature started calling, so I ducked into the Union Station Hotel, where Dori and I had our rehearsal dinner nearly 15 years ago. Back on the road, I was lucky to regain a good rhythm, clicking off easy miles at a comfortable 9:30/mile pace. Around Mile 9, I started to feel a little stiff. I stopped at the Athlete's House water station to refuel and stretch briefly, then headed downwind for home.

Loosened up, I ran the next two miles with ease. The last 2.5 weren't too bad, either. I could have tacked on more, but I'm trying to stay as close to the 10% rule as possible. I feel great one hour after completing nearly 13.5 miles. That makes 31 for the week, a respectable sum in this training cycle. My left achilles also survived the run.

Not a bad way to start the weekend.

Friday, April 10, 2009

One Inspirational Spud

I read a story in this morning's paper about Jim Asker, a lymphoma survivor. I've read lots of stories like this one, but it's a quote that hit me:

There were days when Asker couldn't walk to the mailbox. On good days, he would work his way to his deck to let the sunshine hit his face.

"It made me feel energized," Asker said. "I got the feeling like I should be running. I prayed that if I stayed alive, that I would continue running. It's such a gift."

Welcome back to racing, Jim.

We had some terrible storms in the area today. Lots of tornadoes and funnel clouds. That's not a fun way to spend the Easter Weekend and Passover.

Here's a better way ... Friday Night Flashbacks with my favorite artist, Mark Knopfler. And you thought he was just a Dire Straits rocker.

Off you go, dragonflys ... with Lenny.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Today's List

Best part of today's 7-miler: The end of it
Worst part: The pain in my left achilles
Miles this week through four days: 17.5
Best purchase: New pair of Brooks Dyads
Most honest moment: Sharing my anxiety with the sales staff of running 26.2 for the first time this June
Best sound on today's run: Listening to families cheer at a Little League Game
Worst smell: Mixture of fuel and grass clippings; the port-a-potty at the Little League Game (tie)
Best part of the day: Hearing Dori describe a good day
Fleeting moment of grrrrr: The carpet bombing of bird poop on my car in the shoe store parking lot
Random act of kindness: One person waving on my run; another neighbor stopping her car to say hello
Best blog entry: Ann's recap of her successful bone marrow biopsy

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Trouble in Nevada

Today at the ballpark, I noticed a bald teeneage boy. Coaching first base on Will's 9-10 baseball team, I went to the fence to talk with the young man between innings. He was lounging in a chair and eating popcorn with a pair of crutches at his feet. I knew he had cancer, but didn't know what kind.

When I asked, he looked me directly in the eye, smiled and said calmly, "I have osteosarcoma," explaining the bone tumor was in his knee. He said, "I have three more treatments left, and then I'm done." I said, "Good for you and that's a good feeling," before telling him about Dori's recovery from leukemia.

Tonight on 60 Minutes, Scott Pelley narrated the sad story of a Nevada cancer clinic that is essentially closed because of the recession. Afterward, I asked our kids their thoughts, and they had interesting, probing reactions. I then told them what would have happened to us if we did not have health insurance when Mommy was sick. Here's the sad fact of what's happening to many Americans today.

On a brighter note, Dori and I had a blast at Trivia Night yesterday with some friends at school. This afternoon, we had a great time at an annual pinata party thrown by some good folks at our school. Will's baseball team won both games this weekend, and I ran nearly five pain-free miles today in warm weather ... no trouble with my achilles, though I need some new shoes.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Success Story

This story reminds me of our family and others we know.

Are you registered with the National Marrow Donor Program? I hope so. Thank you if you are or you are about to register.

Some facts from the NMDP:

Most patients in need of transplant find a matched donor in their family. False
Only 30% of patients find a donor in their family. The other 70% can turn to the extended human family of NMDP Registry members like you.

Patients are most likely to find a match within their own racial or ethnic group. True
The genetic markers used to match patients and donors are inherited, so people who share a racial or ethnic heritage have a better chance of matching.

Percent of NMDP transplants that involve an international donor or recipient: 49%
To help more patients receive the transplants they need, the NMDP maintains relationships with donor centers, registries and transplant centers in more than 35 countries.

Friday, April 3, 2009

11 Miler

I ran just short of 11 tonight, taking the week's total to 27. It was a good week of running, lightning bolt aside.

It took awhile to get going tonight and my left achilles was bothersome for portions of the run. But the last five miles felt very good. I almost stepped on a five-foot snake near Mile 5, but realized it was dead. It did not compare to Tuesday morning's brush with electricity.

What, you say? It's Friday Night? You like the Flashback? So do I, and so do members of my family. Dori, my sister and Mom love ABBA; here's one for the three ladies.

Here's one for me. One of my favorites. I may have played it before. If so, it's in the FNF Hall of Fame, a place of harmony and joy where runners never tire.

Here are two for someone else I love.

"It's a big enough umbrella, but it's always me that ends up getting wet."

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

A New Way to Wake Up

Yesterday morning at 5:15, I headed out the door for a short run. I had checked, didn't see anything suspicious, stretched and started my run. I noticed the birds weren't chirping, as they normally do in anticipation of sunrise. They must have still been asleep like me, I thought.

Three hundred yards down the road, the brightest burst of light I have ever seen sizzled directly overhead. Two seconds later, I heard the thunder. After a saying a few words that aren't fit for company, I turned and headed home at a full sprint. In the distance, our neighborhood tornado siren began to wail. Or maybe that was me.

Sheesh, so much for calm and 50 on An image of Robin Williams yelling, "GOOD MORNING, VIETNAM!" appeared in my mind. Robin was smiling like he knew something. I did not like his crazy smile, which I normally find amusing. I also thought it might be a good idea to check my pants when I got home.

After a 20-minute break, some calm reassurances from the weather people on Channel 4 and another check of the radar, I decided to restore order. No, it's not nice to fool Mother Nature, but I was going to get in my run. I ran an uneventful four miles, then another three tonight with Pepper.

And that's all I have to say about that.

Earlier this week, I met a young woman who survived Hodgkins lymphoma last year. We swapped cards and decided to talk soon about our experiences. She has short cancer hair, like Dori. She seems lovely, too, like Dori. You can tell she's happy to be alive.