Goals and Training

Setting goals and training for a race is pretty much a metaphor for the rest of life. Sometimes your plans work out exactly as expected–it’s exhilarating when that happens. You can pat yourself on the back and congratulate yourself on your amazing predictive ability. Sometimes your performance turns out even better than your plans, and sometimes it is worse. Today was one of Those Days.

I’m still extending for my race next month, and today’s plan was for 18k (11.25 miles, for those of you still mired in obsolete English units). I planned a route that includes quite a few hills knowing that would slow me down–not the flat route where I usually do distance. I live in mountains, so the flat route by the river is at about 1400 m, and by flat I mean less than 20 m / km–none of the wimpy sea-level stuff here.

I didn’t meet my goals today for either time or distance. The route I planned was shorter than it should have been and by the time I got to the finish, I was too tired to extend it by the needed amount. Well, That’s the way training goes sometimes, and so does life. I didn’t do 18k, but I did do 17.4k. I did extend from last week, and I’m happy that my last kilometer was faster than my first one. I always try to put some sort of finish on my run by picking up the pace for the last few hundred meters, and I managed that. Didn’t meet my goals, but I’m still happy with the run.

This happens in life, too. Sometimes you fall short, but you can almost always find something in your performance that makes you happy; that enables you to move on to the next event ready to conquer it. If you are doing the “marathon shuffle,” then shuffle on friends.

Prostate Cancer

ColdHandBoyack posted a Public Service Announcement (pun) about his elevated PSA and prostate cancer biopsy. Fortunately, he did not have prostate cancer—congratulations to him.

Been there. Done that. Results not as good. As you pointed out, I had no concept of modesty left after the biopsy. The nurse did the ultrasound, the doc the biopsy. When the ultrasound was done, the doc was busy with something else, so I had to wait with the probe in place until he finished his coffee and danish. Of course, the nurse waited with me—she wouldn’t have wanted me to pull the damn thing out.

If you have cancer, the next step is figuring out what to do about it. There are 3 main treatments: surgery, radiation, and seeds. The problem is that the treatment outcomes don’t diverge until after 10 years. In practical terms, that means there is no objective way to choose. I had the good fortune (for me) to know a man who had had prostate cancer 10 years earlier and had chosen radiation. Then 10 years later, it had returned. Because the radiation causes collateral damage in the vicinity of the prostate, he could no longer have surgery. There was nothing to be done for him, and he died. I chose surgery. That was almost 8 years ago, and I am still here, and my PSA is still 0.0—woohoo.

I’m convinced that prostate cancer is something that every male who lives long enough will get. It’s a matter of when, not if. If you are over 50 or so, get a PSA along with your other blood work. All you have to do is ask for it. If the biopsy shows cancer find someone else in the club to talk to while you are deciding what to do. Despite the intimate nature of the problem, I have found others who have been through prostate cancer surprisingly willing to talk.

Entertaining Stories

I’m going to invite everyone to re-blog, tweet, and otherwise share this post today. We all wish our posts got that much love, but this one is important. If you are a man, love a man, or maybe both, this post is important.

I debated long and hard about sharing this at all. It involves personal information, and I like to keep a bit of privacy. I had to weigh the fact that my mother reads this blog, along with at least two co-workers, against the possibility of helping someone else. Someone else won.

Popular rumor holds that a man should have certain things checked medically once he turns 50. In typical male fashion, I waited until I was 53 and 8 months to schedule my colonoscopy. This is a degrading procedure that involves shoving a camera into places that aren’t visible by design. I thought it was degrading, but…

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Family Running/Walking

Our youngest son arrived on Friday for a short visit. Saturday he and his mother did the Cupid’s Chase 5k, an informal race. He is an Iron Man veteran who hasn’t run much lately because of the constraints of his job and also because he lives in the east coast snow belt. But, he ran and his mother walked. I needed more distance, so I went off to do 16k while they were doing that.

Yesterday, our oldest daughter and her family showed up—pretty full house what with son, daughter and her partner, 3 grandchildren, and us. This morning son headed off to visit other relatives for the day and the rest of us went off for some exercise. We headed for the bike/pedestrian path along the river. Grandson (16) needed a “medium” run, which eventually translated to about 10k, so that set the tone. We set the time limit at about 45 minutes and off we went. Grandson is the fastest (he runs about 5 min. miles in races—not bad for someone who lives at over 7000 feet). He was followed by his sisters (14 and 10) and their mother at somewhere around the pace I was running 6 years ago (in the neighbor of 10 minutes/mile). I followed them at my new, slow pace (but again faster than I have been going for the 4th run in a row), and behind me were my wife and daughter’s partner who were walking. (For any of you who might be doing the calculations, I did not do 10k in 45 min. I didn’t need to go that far, so I did 6k. He did the 10k, but it didn’t take him 45 min.)

Didn’t see much of Grandson until he passed me on the way back, but I was able to see the others for much of the time. I think events like this are one of the reasons I keep doing this. It is such a joy to go out with the kids and grandkids and share in the experience even if we don’t all run together. So much better that staying at home and badgering them with stories about how I used to do that. My wife and I usually do our long weekend exercise together, and I feel the same way about that—even though I run and she walks and we don’t see each other along the route, I feel much better when we start and finish together than when I go by myself. The joy of shared experience.

Training Update

It’s just a month until the Rock and Roll Marathon and Half Marathon in Washington, DC, so time for the longer distances, the pace runs, and the speed work. I’m doing the half marathon with my wife and both daughters. Pushing the distances up on the weekends, I did 16k this morning. Next week its 18k and the week after that 20k. Then I’ll drop back to 12k the week before we leave for DC.

So, I’ve got the push to longer distances covered. The pace runs are no problem, either. After more than 50 years of this activity, I’ve got a pretty good handle on how fast I’m going and how it feels. I no longer need to spend a lot of time learning what I already know. The speed work is another matter. I’m acutely aware of the fact that I’m pretty slow, and, of course, I’d like to go faster. Lots of things that I can’t effect–age, lowered metabolism, and reduced strength, for example, all combine to slow you down. But, within those constraints, I’d like to run as fast as I can. Speed workouts, particularly interval training, are the way to accomplish this. Unfortunately, I never did like interval training. I didn’t like it 50+ years ago when I was in high school and college and had to do it regularly, and I still don’t like it today. The difference today is that there is no coach pushing me, and I’m a lot feistier than I was then. So, I’ve retired from interval training and have to rely on gradual improvements that naturally occur over time.

But, I may have found another way. Last week, I bought some new shoes. I got a pair of Hoka One One shoes, a newish style of shoe with a thicker, cushier sole and a rocker shape to the sole instead of the traditional cut out in the mid-sole. They are sort of the opposite of the minimalist shoes that have been popular lately. You have to get used to minimalist shoes gradually because of the much thinner soles and the lack of any sort of lift in the heel. Too much too soon and you risk painful over stretching of those tendons around the ankle–or worse. I never got used to running in them even though the greatly reduced weight was attractive.

The Hokas were immediately comfortable, and the astounding thing is that every run since I bought them has been faster than comparable runs just before. I did 5 miles on Tuesday in my old shoes and 5 miles Thursday on the same route: a minute faster. 10 Miles today on the same route as the 10 miles I did 2 weeks ago: 4 minutes faster. Surface conditions the same. Weather similar. No wind either time. Three runs in a row suddenly faster. Could still be coincidence, but I’m starting to think otherwise. Excited about my new shoes!