Friday, July 22, 2011

Nine Weeks to the Three Day

Nine weeks from today, two months from tomorrow, the Susan G. Komen 3-Day for the Cure gets underway in Washington, DC. When I signed up for this three and a half months ago, no way would I have thought how difficult this would turn out to be. But my crystal ball was cloudy that day.

I envisioned easily strolling along mile after mile, doing short walks during the week and long walks on weekends, seeing what friends would join in to keep me company, or even seeing if some local people doing the 3-Day would want to link up and train. Instead, I have been sidelined with plantar fasciitis for nearly three months. While not the worst thing in the world, it has been amazingly painful.

I feel grateful and blessed that I can finally walk several miles at a time, still with pain, but not feeling like a spike is being driven into my left heel. I am doing everything I can think of to try to get better. I should be walking 14 miles tomorrow, but that won't happen. I hope that within a month, my foot will be well enough to do back to back 10 or 12 mile walks.

It is stressful that I only have two months to prepare. While three 20 mile days is far from easy, it would not have been too bad for me had things been normal. But they are not, and while this is discouraging, it is far from the end of the world. At least I can start walking some miles again. And actually, I have been walking every day - just not intense and continuous miles. According to my pedometer, I have walked approximately 596 miles since April 4, an average of 5.46 miles a day - injured or not. So if I can start doing some long days soon, and my foot holds up, I can do this!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Shake and Bake

Well, I don't know about the shake part, but I got the bake down pat. After finally walking this past weekend, nearly five miles Saturday and four Sunday, my foot didn't hurt too much worse. I've walked a little during the week, and today, I met my friend Lelia for the first time since my plantar fasciitis developed. We walked about 3.25 miles at a steady but not too fast pace, maybe about a 17 or 18 minute mile.

It was hotter than hell. I was soaked in sweat just walking the five blocks from my office to my car to meet Lelia. I had a bottle of ice with me to walk with, and it all melted in less than 30 minutes. I am guessing that the temperature was high 90's with lots of humidity. It was miserable but Lelia told me that it got to 125 F in her husband's place of work yesterday, so it made our hour of walking in the heat pretty tame.

I don't see the plantar fasciitis going away any time soon. I've done everything I've been asked to do, and it just stubbornly hangs in there. Maybe by walking slowly and just reconcilling that my foot will hurt, perhaps a lot, I can get through the 60 mile walk, which starts in two months and two days. At any rate, I am going to have to try to walk more and more and see where it goes. They say to train in all kinds of weather, not just the nice days, and today was a good example of that!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Silent Sixty

Today was the Silent Mile get-together for the Fall Teams for Team in Training Richmond, Fredericksburg, and Charlottesville. The cycle, marathon, and triathlon teams all gather for this, and coaches talk about some of the things that the money raised is going to. One of the ladies on the Richmond team has already raised over $11,000, which is amazing! Then some of the patient honorees say a few words of thanks, and every one does the first mile or so in silence - reflecting on the mission, the goal of curing cancer, and those fighting the hard fight to survive their ordeal. With my sister's recent death, I was reminded of her over and over again this morning. I listened to the wood thrushes singing in the forests along the route. It was one of her favorite birds. I miss her so much.

It was also my Big Six-O today, and so I got a card signed by many present, and also there was a "Happy Birthday" poster made by the LLS staff. That was pretty cool. What a great bunch of folks to see on my birthday morning. I decided to try walking a bit, and walked almost five miles with my friend Nicki. She was married a couple of months ago, so I got to hear about her wonderful wedding. Afterwards, there was a potluck breakfast, which was really good. It also felt good to walk this far - the longest distance since I got plantar fasciitis nearly three months ago. I've come to the conclusion that I have to start walking and just see where it leads, with a sixty mile walk only 10 weeks away.

Here is my birthday poster, using a photo from my last TNT event, the Seattle Half Marathon in June, 2010.

Let's kick cancer's butt!

Some of the team starting out on the "silent mile:"

Reminders of why we work so hard to train and raise money:

This poster, with Coach Chuck in the background, features a message from my friend and teammate Ed Stone, and from yours truly. Ed is currently battling melanoma, his fourth bout with cancer at age 41.

Nicki and I first met through TNT about five or six years ago. She is a 14+ year lymphoma survivor, alive by means of a bone marrow transplant. She is awesome!

Friday, July 15, 2011

A Final Fifties Walk

My plantar fasciitis is somewhat less painful nearly three months after it first cropped up, and I decided that I should try a short walk. So I got up a little early yesterday and went outside to take a two mile walk. After a week or so of horrendously hot weather, it was a delightful morning - about 60 degrees F. and low humidity.

This would be my last walk as a fifty-something year old. When I think of how many thousands of miles I have walked and run in my fifties, most of them since surviving cancer, it is a little anti-climatic to have the last walk be two measly miles with a sore foot. But so be it - at least I was finally walking a little, something more than a third of a mile from the parking lot to work.

I walked slowly - about a 17 minute mile pace, which is a good 3-4 minutes off my fastest sustainable walking pace. My foot hurts a little more when I try to walk fast. It still seems like such a huge hill to climb to be able to walk 60 miles in a little more than two months, but I must find a way. But Wednesday, there was no point worrying about all that. I just enjoyed being able to walk a couple of miles on a cool morning. My foot hurt a little more during the day - I ended up walking over 16,000 steps for the day - but it seems no worse for wear today. So I talked to the doctor about starting to add some walking, and he agreed. I'll see how that goes, and keep my fingers crossed.

Big Six-OOOOO, here I come! What will the next decade of life bring?

Sunday, July 10, 2011

A Million Steps, Sore Foot and All

Preparing for the Susan G. Komen 3-Day for the Cure hasn't worked out at all like I had planned. Instead of taking long walks five times a week, by myself and with the many friends who have said let me know when I want to walk, I've been stretching, picking up marbles with my toes, wearing a boot at night, and doing some (but not enough) cross training. But even so, I've walked enough to cross the 1,000,000 step count on Friday.

I started carrying my trusty Omron pedometer on April 4, 25 weeks before the walk in Washington DC. I wanted to see how many see how many steps I would take between then and the walk. In those first three weeks, I averaged about 12,500 steps a day, and then the plantar fasciitis kicked in big time. Since then, not only have I not walked a lot, I have not increased the miles each week as I should be doing. Even so, for the nearly 14 weeks I have been recording my steps, I've averaged 10,600 steps a day in mostly "incidental" walking. Since taking my long 7 mile walk in Washington DC on May 4, my longest walk has only been about 2 miles.

But those incidental steps add up, and now I've gone past a million. I wonder where my step count would be had I not gotten the injury? But the bigger question is how will I possibly get in enough miles in the 11 weeks remaining before the 60 mile walk if this sore foot doesn't heal?

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Mission Moment for the Fall Team

So, if you can't really walk or run yourself, what might you do on a Saturday morning? Well, I called Coach Chuck, marathon coach of the fall Team in Training team, and asked him if he would like me to do a water stop or two, and a mission moment. The answer was yes, and so I was at the boat lake at Byrd Park at 6:30 AM. I got to catch up with several friends I hadn't seen in a while, including fellow survivors Nicki and Mindy. It was a nice looking crew they got training for various fall events, including Dublin (green being an appropriate color for Ireland and jealousy!)

I told the team about my friend Linda. She has been dealing with three kinds of cancer since she was 29, multiple times. She is now 62. When she had A.L.L. 33 years ago, survival rates were nil, but with experimental drugs, Linda survived. It was a terrible ordeal. Her uncle watched her daughter for 11 months, and her boss kept her job open and paid her mortgage. Into her 30's, she relapsed and went through it all again. Then in her 40's, the chemo she got for the ALL caused non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, and later, breast cancer. She has had multiple occurrences of both of these, and a lot of suffering. In a note to me this week, Linda told me that she feels totally defeated and is just hoping to see her 63rd birthday in August. She said "tell the team to keep moving for people like me who can't."

Linda has endured tremendous suffering over the last three decades and this continues. It is past time to find cures that work, first time, every time, and without causing other cancers and such intense suffering.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Losing my Marbles!

So, Friday a week ago, my active release therapy doctor grabs a jar of marbles, indoor flowerpot stones actually, and sprinkles about 40 of them on the floor. “Pick ‘em up, and put them back in the jar,” he says. “No, with your left toes, not your hands!” It seemed impossible. My toes don’t seem to have a lot of curl, flexibility, or strength, but I gave them a try. It seemed to take about 10 minutes, but ultimately, I got them in the jar without cheating too much. “Practice!” said the good doctor.

So, on the way home, I stopped at Target and bought a jar of them. And I started practicing that night. I didn’t try over the weekend during travels to New York State for my sister’s memorial service, but picked it up again last Tuesday and had been doing it at least once a day. I added my right foot, which was so pathetic that it made my left foot seem great, ironically enough. Maybe it is because all of the work on my left foot has improved its flexibility.

The first few times I tried this, my hands and face were screwed up so tight, like one of the first year students at the Hogwarts School in “Harry Potter” trying to turn a frog into a teacup. “Marbelum leviosa!” I would mutter under my breath, lips and face tight as a drum. It didn’t seem to help. I was terrible at it.

I’ve seen little improvement in my foot pain, but here is one area that I have seen a ton of improvement in: picking up marbles! In less than a week of really doing this, I have gotten fairly good at picking them up with my left foot. I collected 40 of them today in about 2:50. My right foot is still pathetic, but not as much so. So, I will keep on collecting my marbles with my foot, and expect to see improved toe strength and flexibility. Who knew that losing one’s marbles could be so useful?