Sunday, November 27, 2011

living/running with pain

It's been a couple months since my last post -- been mostly twiddling my thumbs & waiting for results & appointments. Still frustrated with no diagnosis. It's been a battle to keep from going back to the ER when the pain gets bad (they are not able to do anything for me there). My last tests in September: CT Enterography, CT Angiogram & Capsule Enteroscopy (Pillcam) all came back negative. When my 2nd Gastro Dr. (like my 1st) referred me to the Pain Management Clinic, I knew then that he had given up. So, I went back to my primary physician instead & he has referred me to the Mayo Clinic. Although the Clinic was completely booked for several months, I received a call back from them later saying they had an opening in early January -- so now I'm holding on & waiting . . . .

Sitting on my hands for so long, my legs became antsy, but my gut kept me from running. So far I have donated registration fees for 6 races that I had optimistically signed up for in better times. I don't mind donating to a good cause. I had to do something though, so I took up hiking last month -- more mileage than I had done in many years put together. I have also learned to endure a certain amount of pain. If it's too bad, I just turn around & head home. The thing is that being out in the Forest in beautiful surroundings w/Fall colors has been GREAT for the soul. Each day being thankful that I am still above ground. And today I even went on a training run (8 miles) at Otter Creek Park where Cynthia Heady (LLTH RD) is putting on a trail marathon in mid-December. I did not feel good at the start, but felt better once the endorphins kicked in and the exhilaration of trail running again (in the cool rain) hit me. Although I finished 15 minutes behind everyone else, I was happy to see that I had not lost all my running base, yet. I feel no worse for having "run".

My next race fee donation is set for this Saturday -- Tecumseh Trail Marathon. BUT, I can't believe myself that I'm even considering going thru with the event now: I only have to maintain a 17 min/mile pace to make the cutoff at 23 miles. That pace is really not that much faster than hiking! I will see how I feel next Saturday morning & also see if I have come to my senses by then.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

still frustrated

In my last post I was planning to do the Iron Mountain Trail Run in Virginia. Turns out it would be one of the hottest days of the year there with temps in the 90's. Since even the 80's give me problems, I had to drop the race. I could have finished the 16 mile option before it got hot, but it wasn't worth a 6 hour drive.

So, I decided to try the Run Woodstock event in Michigan the following weekend. However, this would stretch my taper to 2 weeks & would waste some valuable training time, and I would miss running in record cool weather the entire week. With the LSD 100k starting at 4 pm, temps would not be an issue and I looked forward to running at night. I also liked the 100k event as you could easily drop down to 50k or 50m after the 2nd or 3rd lap.

The race started a few minutes early, a rarity. Real sticky at the start. The night time low temps did end up about 10 degrees above normal and the humidity at or near 100% (with rain off & on) -- I was dripping wet for the duration. My legs felt great but my belly did not. How frustrating it was to have to pull up after 25 miles when I was enjoying the run so much otherwise. I just could not endure the pain. It rained off & on and then later continued non-stop thru the night. I wish I could have experienced that -- maybe not so much the mud. The trails were maintained fairly well as I could see where small ditches for drainage had been cut for the entire course. Most of the swampy areas were bridged with boardwalks. Had the soil not been a sandy base, the entire trail would have been a mucky mess with the amount of rain that came down.

Start of the 50m race:

I would like to give Thanks to some kind souls who helped me during this event: Kenneth Seidl (100 mile finisher) who kept me moving on the trails; Brenda Gutmann (former LLTH race director) who was crewing for another runner & gave me much needed assistance after the 1st lap; & Rodney, also crewing for another runner, who gave me the ride to the Finish when I had to stop.


The frustration with my abdominal ailment continues. The repeat CT scan of my abdomen last week & the repeat colonoscopy today have not revealed the source of the pain. While waiting for the pathology results, I also have a CT enterography scheduled for Friday. There seems to be no set pattern in the pain flareups. So, that means I will have no set race schedule as long as I have this problem. I'm still registered for several races this Fall though: next up is the Germantown 50k, if my belly is up to it then.

Friday, August 26, 2011

back to trail running

With low temps finally reaching the 60's and humidity at reasonable levels, I have started back to running on the trails - yeah! My abdominal pains come and go & my 2nd Gastro Dr. continues to be baffled as to why I'm having these pains. During periods of no pain, I feel like there's nothing wrong with me. It's during these times I look at the race calendar & feel I should be signing up -- which I've done. So many races nowadays fill up & decisions have to made early. So now I have an ambitious schedule lined up for this Fall. Problem is, I'm overweight, out of shape & making big assumptions with my pains, among other things.

I'm hoping to get in shape, though, for the Pinhoti 100 in November, so I've decided to try the Iron Mountain Trail Run (IMTR) in Virginia as a starter event. Although I'm certainly not ready for the 50 miles, the course configuration let's you easily drop down to 16 or 30 miles -- options that I will surely consider when I reach those decision points. I did finish this race within the 12 hr time limit 2 years ago, but only because I had 50k prep race (on a rare cool day in August) after the usual summer off-season.

Saturday, July 16, 2011


I have to admit I totally left blog-land, AND meaningful running for that matter the last few months. I've been engulfed in so many negative thoughts & feelings that I felt it best not to spill it into this running blog/diary. But maybe it's good therapy to let out some of what's been going on, so here goes:

In my last post in early May, I was to have an upper GI performed by my 2nd gastroenterologist. A procedure in a long list of procedures. He found a hiatal hernia & gastritus - both I had known about, and a couple new things to me: duodenitus & a duodenal bulb. However, the pain still felt like it was in a different location. Despite the diagnosis & level of fitness, my goal race (Massanutten 100) was very close at hand & I decided to give it a try anyway. Here's what I remember about that attempt:

race -- known as one of the toughest trail 100 races east of the Mississippi. I agree. Mountains did not seem as big or steep as the ones at Grindstone, but exponentially much tougher footing (RELENTLESS rocks). Great organization & most informative website I've ever seen.

nice map available:

4:00 a.m. start -- CRAZY. Can't understand the reasoning behind RD's wanting to deprive you of sleep before a big race when getting sleep the night before is so important. Heck, I'm so hyped that 3 to 4 a.m. is usually the only time I get good sleep anyway & to not have that makes it a little tougher.

an easy section of trail at the start:

course -- fog & haze & night obscured most of the overlooks. Course markings - super. Aid stations - the BEST. Race personnel & volunteers - efforts were above & beyond.

a clear view here:

high humidity -- started to have light rain at the start, then quit & got hot. Felt like it was on the verge of rain the whole day, but didn't till the night -- too late then. Passed several runners bent over. I stopped & cooled off at the streams.

beautiful streams:

swatting flies -- takes alot of precious energy in a long race. Covering myself with bug repellent in the heat of the day made me nauseous.

bad thoughts -- for the first time, I was discouraged to the point of not wanting to continue pursuing 100's altogether (heaven forbid) when my back started going out not long after I had passed the halfway point of the race. My back was not the highest on my list of reasons I thought I might DNF, especially with my abdominal ailments. My back had not given me problems in over a year, so it was a surprise to get that initial twinge, which signaled the beginning of the end.

RD Kevin Sayers:

Would I try it again? yes

The race is in Virginia & I was able to stay with my brother & family -- I should have been visiting alot more over the years. Even if I don't complete the 100 miles, the overall experience I had is well worth repeating (the best parts, that is). Would I recommend this race? -- yes, an excellent event.

So what's up next? well . . .

Since Massanutten, it's been numerous Dr. & hospital visits, and, I've been taking medicines that are not conducive to running whatsoever. Plus heat has played a big role as usual. It seems like this summer is even hotter than the usual very hot summers here -- the two days earlier this week when the dew point hovered at a suffocating 80 degrees were the hottest days I've ever encountered. So next & foremost is to get healthy & continue postponing any running. Each new medicine or procedure revives hope of relief so I have not given up on this, yet. My legs are aching to do something & now, to start reading stories on the ultralist & blogs really get the juices going. So maybe this Fall I can get moving again. Fingers crossed . . . . .

Monday, May 2, 2011

2011 Tie-Dye 50k -- a no go

It's been a while since my last post when I was planning on doing the Tie-Dye 50k:

In the days leading up to the race on April 23, the RD announced he was changing the course since the Little Miami River was high & that there was a flash flood warning. One of the biggest reasons for signing up for this race was to enjoy the scenic trails along the banks of the river. It was the highlight of my last run there. Another reason was that several miles of the flat, very snake like bike trails of years past (gave me motion sickness) were being removed from the course this year (these trails reminded me of "Kart Country" -- the most winding trails crammed into a small area with every square foot utilized). These trails would be incorporated back into the course with the last minute change. I just did not want to make a 3 1/2 hour drive in a steady rain up to Yellow Springs, OH, to run on these muddy trails in particular.

So, heck, I thought why not just run a 50k here at home on the same day? Not many people have an established 50k course (Louisville's Lovin' the Hills - LLTH) within sight distance from their front door -- a luxury that I have. So I went running, or should I say, splish, splash in the heavy rain. Not too smart to be up on the ridges when the lightning was close though. But I will say it was the MOST FUN I had running in a long time. "Exhilarating" was the word to best describe it. In the downpours I felt more wet than I'd been under any motel shower head. It was a cooling rain in 100% humidity conditions (fog on some high hills). Also, no one will believe me (especially after a very muddy LLTH in February), but I did not get mud on my shoes! We've had so many heavy rains in the past month that all the mud (that had not been baked solid) that was there had been washed away. I waded thru knee deep water in some bottoms (up to the top of the old car door at Scott's Gap). Although it took all day to complete the 50k, I was so, so happy that I made the right decision this time.

Unfortunately, all good things end. This past week I've had to give up training due to the return of high level pain in the stomach/intestinal area. A CT scan showed no "acute" abnormalities though. Hopefully I will get a better explanation of that reported diagnosis when I see the Dr. for the upper endoscopy scheduled later this week. It feels that something is herniated -- the exact same feeling (pain) that started 11 months ago and has plagued me every day since. At times it's barely noticeable, others, just not tolerable. So at this point, the much anticipated goal race of this year, MMT next week, looks questionable at this time.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

2011 Potawatomi Trail Runs 100

First of all, McNaughton Park is in Pekin, Illinois. It would be silly to think it was anywhere else -- just my opinion.

Welcome McNaughton Park Trail Run?
I was really looking forward to last weekend's Potawatomi Trail Runs at McNaughton Park. For me, a 100 mile race promises: a test of physical & mental limits; the greatest anticipation; the longest taper; the most planning; the least sleep; the most anxiety/worries; the most soreness & swelling; and the greatest feeling of well being & accomplishment.

However, there's one uncontrollable factor that profoundly affects the outcome more than any other for me & that has been the weather. Anyone who has read any of my entries on this blog is aware of my high intolerance to heat & all my whining about it. Yes, I've become very sick in a couple races where the temperature & humidity were high. My body instinctively starts to shut down when it can't rid itself of the heat -- it's just that in those couple races my mind had overridden the common sense signs & I paid for it. Well, this year at McNaughton Park my mind was in control, or should I say in reality, that mentally, I just lost it? Either way, I was just so tired of sweating so profusely all day & I couldn't handle running thru a warm & humid night. I love running at night because it's "always" cool -- I should say cool "most" of the time now. I had plenty of time to finish (17 more hours to complete the last 40) & I still had some legs, but since it was not fun to me then, I don't regret the decision to stop. Was there disappointment? yes Sorry? no. My car said the temp was 73 degrees just before midnight -- the normal high for this date is 60 and the normal low is 38. The dew point felt like 65 degrees, making for some sweltering humidity. Had it not been for my sitting in the cool creek thruout the run, I wouldn't have made it as far as I did.

Waiting in the rain prerace:
Some would say the mud did them in -- a thunderstorm just before the race started -- what would the course be without the infamous mud? Really, I think the temps & humidity played the biggest factor this day. Only 20 runners out of 48 completed the 100 -- and with much slower finish times (as a whole) than previous years.

Rich & Eric Skocaj (Race Directors) did another GREAT job this year. They did their best to motivate me (& everyone else) each & every lap. Oh yes, that was the best casserole I've ever eaten (made by Mrs. Skocaj)! Also, the volunteers were outstanding once again. Brian Kuhn was my savior at Heaven's Gate. This most enjoyable aid station is voted my favorite of the year every year. Thanks again Brian! I also have to mention that my "on the course" motivator, Jeff, did double duty this year -- helping at Heaven's Gate & also running the course. Jeff ran with Chris one lap & I had the pleasure to run with them for a while until I had a "heat flash" moment & it was over. Thanks Jeff & Chris!

My abdomen/stomach has not been a problem DURING the last couple races. I still have a CT scan & an upper GI scheduled . . . . . . .

Dave Corfman, RD of the Stone Steps 50k & Badwater veteran finishing 4th:
What's next? Well I'm neither sore nor worn out as I thought I would be after this race -- of course I didn't finish it either. So I think I'll go up & try the Tie-Dye 50k (formerly John Bryan 50k) put on by Jeff McPherson & ORRRC. It's been a good "recovery" run for me & usually it's my first confrontation with oppressive heat -- NOT this year! Maybe with McNaughton's early heat "training" I will have a step up this year . . . nah!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

2011 Clinton Lake 30m

I came into the Clinton Lake race hoping it would prepare me for the 100 miler at McNaughton Park (Potawatomi Trail) in 2 weeks as I had done the last 3 years. I think it went well, all things considered.

One thing which bothered me the week leading up to the race was the return of some symptoms of SOD (sphincter of oddi dysfunction) which I had corrective surgery for last summer. I guess if it's not one thing, it's another -- just add it to the list. I have an appointment with yet another Gastroenterologist to see what's going on. It was a very big concern as I arrived at the race start -- ready to call it off if I needed to, but fortunately felt well enough to run and it did not present a problem all day.

Race morning was cold (27 degrees) & blustery (20 mph winds with gusts) and in the open parking lot, it felt alot colder. I believe it's the first time I've worn 3 layers to keep from shivering at the start of a race. Going over the lake for the 1st time, the wind blew straight down the lake (caps on the waves) -- the gusts were strong enough that I kept on the upwind side of the bridge so I wouldn't get blown off!

I didn't know how I would feel on race day, so I had not decided on an opening pace or race goal. Being so cold the 1st mile, I started alot quicker than I usually do, but felt I wasn't overdoing it. It was not till a couple miles later that I started peeling off the layers -- I had broke out into a good sweat & everything was sticking to me. As cold as it was, that meant I was probably going out too fast, but still, I felt comfortable with the "quick" early pace. Continuing past the 1st aid station, I thought, I sure am feeling good -- what a nice day to be out on the trails -- wish I felt like this every race & for an entire day!

I finished up the 1st 10 mile loop in about 1:50, an 11 mpm average. I was on pace to match my PR of a sub 6 hour finish and felt everything was going great. Of course, the good feelings would not last and for me it was quite abrupt at mile 19. Not sure if it was something I consumed at the last aid station or I had flat exhausted all I had. The last 10 mile loop was as difficult as the 1st loop was easy. Finish time (6:15:58) was a little slower than last year, but was not my worst time for the course. I guess I could have paced myself better, but still I'm happy with my run.

Didn't do too much socializing this day due to the weather conditions, but still got a few words in with Mike Ward, Jennifer Leslie, Ellen Erhardt (Congrats again!), Bill Dey & Kathy Siculan. Some notable faces not present this year: Jeff, Chris & Gregg!

At the moment, I'm still hoping to attempt the Potawatomi Trail race in a couple weeks. I'm going to have to take this day by day as to how it will actually unfold.

Friday, March 18, 2011

2011 Land Between the Lakes 50m

My goal for LBL was to make the cutoff at the end of the 3rd loop and then hang on to finish. I was just able to do that. You know you're pretty slow when you get lapped 1 1/2 laps into a 4 lap race. Zach Gingerich (winner of 2010 Umstead 100 in a record 13:23:02) and Troy Shellhamer (winner of 2011 LLTH) cruised past me as though I was standing still. Congrats Troy! I was DFL on the last lap until the gal in front of me took a bathroom break - time 11:15:13, 48th of 49. Still, based on my training (or lack thereof), I'm happy with the effort & feel I'm on track for my goal of finishing Massanutten 100 in May -- still a long ways to go though.

About the race itself:

It was a nice day weather & trail wise. I got my first tanning of the year with the bright sun on my head & back. Although I would have preferred it 20 degrees or more cooler, there was a nice breeze off the lakes. Trails were in good shape despite recent rain in the area.

Lots of familiar faces this day -- got a word or two in with: Steve D., John D., Mike H., Mike M., Mike W., Bob E., Alvin E., Dave B., Brad A., Logan S., Eric S., Rich S., Brian K.,Troy S., and Juli & Val A. Also, Naresh introduced himself -- he had run on the pointed rocks of Mountain Mist 50k with minimalist shoes in January & had remembered me for some reason (probably because I was shirtless).

As always, LBL is a very organized event & enjoyable to run every year (7 in a row now). Multiple distances, traffic, chip timing & numerous other things RDs must manage here -- THANKS Steve & John! Also, many THANKS to super volunteer Mike Howard, who helped motivate me each lap & many THANKS to Jeff Riddle -- my own "cheerleader" on the course -- these guys mean alot when the going gets tough!

Next up is Clinton Lake 30m (yeah, the race right next to the nuclear plant). I was shut out back in January, but Bob O'Brien just recently moved me off the wait list. One thing about running this every year is that it helps gauge my level of fitness, plus this race has helped prepare me for the McNaughton 100 which follows 2 weeks later. I feel that repeating 10 mile loops & encountering somewhat similar type trails & hills is the best training that I can get for McNaughton.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

coping & moving forward (slowly)

When I started this blog, I wrote at the top: "I’ve set up this blog to help keep focus on training . . .". So, I've decided to keep to that line of thought and not go into details of my recent life issues here, even though one may ultimately end my running (and other things). Enough said!

I was not in the mood to write a report on Mountain Mist 50k (Jan 22) due to the circumstances at the time, so here's a short version about what I can remember now:

I came into Mountain Mist 50k in Huntsville, Alabama having not run but twice since my foot surgery in mid December. My foot did OK during the race & it was obvious that I had lost alot (as expected) since I had taken off for so long & did absolutely nothing during recovery. Although my time was poor, I enjoyed myself all day.

The first 17+ miles of this course seems flat or downhill most of the way & very fast. The rest is completely different - technical & tough hills. Fell several times (nothing serious) among the rocks thru here, mostly from not picking up the feet. Other things I will remember about this race: icy & closed roads (does Huntsville have salt trucks?), icy trails that turned muddy, lots of aid station help, no drop bags, very crowded start (300 runners) & backed up for several miles, hot & fresh pizza for late finishers too, nice finishers slate tile.

Also, here's a report, mostly about the mixup at Louisville's Lovin' The Hills (LLTH) last month:

With Cynthia's (RD) father critically ill all week leading up to the race, I tried to do whatever I could to help out. Usually I like to rest up & keep off the feet the days leading up to a race, but I ended up hiking the course -- marking & re-marking trails & putting up signs. Since we had the 1st case of someone taking down course markings, I delayed putting up signs till Friday evening & early race morning. At the end of the day Friday, I was pretty tired. I slept good, but paid for using up my legs the next day. It was a similar case a couple years ago when I volunteered to clear trails from an ice storm just before the race.

Todd Heady:

Todd took over the RD duties & everything seemed to be going smoothly race morning. The NWS & 3 weathermen had predicted a low of 26 & a high of 42 -- I figured most of the course would stay frozen, at least in the shade all day. Of course, the temperature predictions were wrong . . . I woke up to 30 degrees & the high was 49 degrees! Which meant alot of the course would thaw out & get pretty muddy by mid-afternoon & it was certainly that.

Ran into alot of familiar faces & it was great to get to talk to everyone race morning! As for my race, I knew adrenaline would carry me the 1st part, but after that, there wasn't going to be any energy reserves this day. I was upbeat on the frozen trail in the scenic snow covered forest till I came to the 50k/15m junction at mile 7. There was Todd! He said the volunteer had not showed up & that before he got there, 16 people had taken the wrong turn & skipped most of the 2nd leg (Yost) & headed out on the 3rd leg. That really flustered me.

I had helped design the course & had stressed how important this junction was -- saying this was the one spot on the entire course that needed someone to be there. I know things happen, but still I couldn't get my mind off it the entire day. I had put up the signs on the course except at this junction & Scott's Gap. Although I did get to check the signs at Scott's Gap the day before, I did not check the signs at the junction as I knew someone would be there race day . . . . Todd had taken care of these -- still I can't understand how the runners took the wrong turn if the signs were up?

Now I was mentally out of it along with my legs starting to tire badly. With the course turning very muddy late in the day, it was a tough battle, but I finished -- time wise a personal worst for the course by far.

Looking forward to improving on the race preparation next year.


Next up is the Land Between the Lakes (LBL) 50 miler. With my inconsistent/nonexistent training & recent weight gain, the most difficult part of the race is going to be making the cutoff at the end of the 3rd loop. I'll have to average about 13 minutes per mile for the first 36 miles (at LLTH 50k I only managed 16 minutes/mile). The most critical factor for me at LBL has always been: getting the early pace right. With the 1st 1.7 miles on the road & several hundred runners packing the single track early, the start has been the deciding factor in all my finishes.

Monday, January 31, 2011

difficult times

Been having some serious family & health issues lately, so I'll keep my Mountain Mist report short: I finished.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

a neuroma, not a cyst

Yet another mis-diagnosis, but in this case the surgery would have been the same. The Dr. discovered it when he cut me open -- the pathology report on the mass removed from my foot 2 weeks ago confirmed a neuroma (the swelling or benign tumor of a nerve that is a result of a compression or trauma). I guess what threw the Dr. off was the location -- not the normal spot for a neuroma on that part of the foot.

I had the stitches removed today in the followup with the Podiatrist. I asked why he had to make a 1 1/2" incision to remove a pea sized lump -- answer was "it had to be done" (duh). The way my foot was swollen afterwards, I feel he must have dug around a while to get it. Glad I was asleep at the time.

I'm taking recovery day by day now -- hope to be able to get trail shoes on my feet soon. So glad to be off crutches for a week! Gaining weight though. I've had a long long time to lazily sit on my tailbone & think about races for 2011 and set a goal . . . all my training the next several months will now be for my goal race: Massanutten 100 -- toughest race this side of the Mississippi?!

Oh yeah, last time I went to sign up for Clinton Lake 30M (in March) that I had done the last 3 years in preparation for McNaughton, there was no registration link on the website. The next time I looked, it was filled. Snooze you lose!