Friday, May 29, 2009

Woe(fully unprepared) is me, and when is a kidney stone not a kidney stone?

Some quick thoughts before bed -- yes, bed at 7:30 on a Friday night. More on that in a moment.

First, the latest and greatest members of the FRED'S TEAM HONOR ROLL!

Let's hear it for


(all of whom I went to Camp Ballibay with!! Read my previous post for more on our amazing reunion)

bringing the total going to the Aubrey Fund for Pediatric Cancer Research in honor of Liam Witt to



Please join the Honor Roll and help me celebrate the life of a very special little boy, by donating to my fourth -- yes, fourth -- NYC Marathon effort as a member of Fred's Team. All you have to do is click here, or on the links at the side or bottom of the page!

This weekend I am running two races, and thanks to my mystery condition, which is no longer a mystery, I am not entirey prepared. Tomorrow, at 8am, I'm running the Brooklyn Half Marathon, which I'm super-psyched about, because it was my very first half mary five years ago. This will be the first time I've been able to run it since. Of course I've barely put any miles in this past week. I guess I can call it a taper, but it'll be interesting. I'm not running for speed, and I've already got one half under my belt this season, so I'll be okay. The hardest thing about this race, however, is going to be getting there. Public transportation on a Saturday morning before 8am? Ugh. And once I get down to Prospect Park, it'll probably be about a mile's hike to get to the start line. Good warm-up!

The next morning is the Japan Day run, a four-miler. I don't need this race, I've already got the races I need for the 2010 NYC Marathon (including my volunteer race) but I like the race. There's a neat festival that takes place at the finish line, and -- I'll say it, they have good swag. Since the event also promotes the Tokyo Marathon, there's a lot of little giveaways for the runners -- folders, pens, foot lotion, stuff like that. Last year there was even a nice canvas bag. This year, however, the swag was basically limited to a bottle of Amino Vital and, oddly enough, a box of chow mein noodles. What the...? Just because they're teriyaki flavored doesn't make them reminiscent of Japan. Although the chopsticks do say "Japan Day" on the wrapper...

So, the medical mystery...last time I told you that I was suffering from what I thought was a kidney infection. I did just enough research on the internet to convince myself I had a kidney stone (and went no further, so as not to freak myself out.) I emailed my doctor, who told me to push the cranberry juice and see her on Tuesday. I did both -- and let me just say how much I now loathe unsweetened cranberry juice -- and I even had a CAT scan. It felt like a kidney stone, it hurt like a kidney stone, it had all the symptoms of a kidney stone, but lo and behold -- no kidney stone. What the doctor thinks it's just left over from the bladder infection, which I apparently still have, penicillin and Cipro be damned. I'm waiting to get some new and improved medication.

In the meantime, this will make for an amusing post-Brooklyn half quick-change, as I don't want to take chances wearing drippy drawers all the way home. So if you're at Coney Island Saturday morning, look for me -- I'll be the one wearing a long skirt!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Some Observations, The Wall Street Run, and a Medical Report

Before observation.
I ate a mocrowave noodle dish that had the following instructions: "Caution: food will be hot and delicious." If your food needs to warn you of its taste, take that warning to heart.

One new member of the HONOR ROLL this week, and that is


bringing the total going to the Aubrey Fund for Pediatric Cancer Research at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center to an impressive


So now you know how much my parents gave.

Do you love me more than my parents? Show me, by donating more than they did, by clicking on this link right here!!

Another observation: when you go to pick up your race number, make sure you're registered for the race.

Yes, that was idiot me, going all the way down to the World Financial Center (on a day I didn't have work and wasn't even near the area) to pick up my stuff for the Wall Street Run, only to discover I didn't register for the race. I registered for a bunch of races all at once, and I like this race, and I just assumed that I did. Guess not.

So the question is, what's worse -- showing up for a race you didn't register for, or showing up for the race on the wrong day?

Anyway, a bunch of us had said we'd meet for drinks after the run, so I went down there anyway to cheer on my Teammates. I saw a bunch of them beforehand, and I staked out a great spot right by the finish line. If you've never gone to a race merely to cheer on friends and fellow runners, let me suggest you do it. I had a GREAT time! It was hard to tear myself away to meet my friends at the bar. Although yes, I would have preferred to run the thing. it's such a fun race, weaving around the streets of Lower Manhattan. Which is what I normally do every day, only this time, I'd be doing it without a steno machine and computer. I didn't even think about just running it without a number. Maybe I should've. When I was at the WFC earlier that day, finding out that I made a trip for nothing, one of the workers there said, "The race is closed, but you can do the walk." I know my running may sometimes LOOK like a walk...

We had a great time at the bar afterwards, although it was, perhaps, the worst service I've ever had. I mean, yes, the place was completely overrun by runners, but there's no excuse for bringing the check BEFORE the food arrives. Especially since it arrived cold. And an hour late. And they not only forgot Chrissy's drink, they forgot her food. And the bun on David's burger was moldy. Should I go on? But it was fun.

Now onto the medical portion of the show. As I mentioned in an earlier post, I had my first bladder infection of the training season already. But what I didn't count on was the kidney infection. I finished my round of antibiotics, and I thought all was well, but I could -- how to explain it? -- I could just sort of feel my right kidney (too many bladder infections gave me a very good idea of where my kidneys are. ) It didn't hurt, it was just, well, there. I figured it was a side-effect from the bladder infection and would go away. Lo and behold, it didn't. And by Thursday night, I was seeing -- turn your heads if you're squeamish -- a little blood. And wouldn't you know, it's Memorial Day weekend! So I emailed my doctor, who told me to push the cranberry juice, and I'll see her on Tuesday. I'm also (don't look, Mom!) dosing myself with some leftover penicillin I got from getting my wisdom tooth pulled. Ugh.

What this means is --

No Memorial Day outings -- yes, I missed TWO of them, because I'm afraid to stray from a toilet.
and no running. Although I did go out on Saturday for an easy trip up to and around the Res, because it was just too nice a day not to. I paid for it, but it was worth it. A little scared, as the Brooklyn Half is at the end of the week, but I guess I can look at it as a taper.

Yes, even though today is a gorgeous day, nope, not doing it. Just going to spend the day indoors, in my THANKFULLY quiet -- because there's no construction today, hooray!! -- apartment, and work on my transcripts and watch old TV shows.

Happy Memorial Day, y'all!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Reunions, The Healthy Kidney 10K, and the First Members of the HONOR ROLL 2009

I wanted to keep my previous post up as long as possible, but there's just too much to talk about. Rest assured, I'll be reminding y'all over and over again that I am running the marathon for Fred's Team, trying to raise money for the Aubrey Fund for Pediatric Cancer Research, and doing it in honor of Liam Witt. Oh, wait a minute. I just did. So please, click here, or on the link to the right of the page, and make a donation to my marathon effort for this very amazing little boy and this very worthy cause.

Speaking of which, at long last are the very first inductees to the FRED'S TEAM HONOR ROLL!
Let's hear it for
whose support of my efforts has been unwavering every year.

This brings our first tally going to the Aubrey Fund to a good start --


Let's try to get to the halfway mark -- $1800 --by the end of June, whaddya say? Please send my blog link to anyone who you think might be willing to support pediatric cancer research and celebrate the life of a remarkable little boy who's beating the odds thanks to the Aubrey Fund. Or if they just want to throw in a few ducats to make sure that the ridiculous sight of me huffing and puffing my way through 12 Cat Hill repeats in August is one we all continue to enjoy.

Before we get to the running stuff, a few weeks ago I attended the reunion of my old summer camp. When I was in high school, I attended Camp Ballibay, a theater and performing arts camp located in Camptown, PA. Back in the day, I had aspirations of being on stage instead of backstage. Anyways, it was one of the best experiences of my life. Not that I was any great shakes as a performer, I was not, but it didn't matter. It was just all so much fun, and the friends I made there were some of the strongest friendships I had ever made. Unfortunately, distance and life get in the way, and we all drifted apart. Twenty-five years later, enter Facebook. One day I get a message from Frazier Sinkler, my friend Paige's younger brother, and the next thing I know, we're all back in touch and a reunion is in the works. About 30 of us attended, and there's no word in the English language to express how good it felt to see everyone again. It was as if no time at all had passed between us, except that every conversation started with, "So what have you been up to for the last 25 years?" Folks sent Frazier all their pictures from camp years, and he put together a slide show with, I'd guess, about a thousand photos. Every single one of them brought back good memories. I have a few of them, and if I get less lazy I will post them, so you can see what a few years and a good haircut can do.

I can't tell you how grateful I am to have everyone back in my life again.

On Saturday I did the Healthy Kidney 10K in Central Park. Somewhat ironic, I thought, to do a 10K celebrating kidneys when I'm recovering from my first bladder infection of the season. How did this happen? Well, I know how it happened, but why so darn soon? Usually it waits until mid-way through the season. I'm hoping this isn't a preview of coming attractions.

It was very strange weather in the Park -- if it's possible to be both cold and hot, it was. Not to mention super-humid, my nemesis. Went over to the baggage check to see if any of my Teammies were lurking, and saw Kal. Kal is amazing. He's one of those people who goes, "I'm free this weekend. Think I'll run a marathon. " And he does. Kal and another Teammate, Tom, ran the -- hold onto your hats -- NORTH POLE MARATHON. Yes, there is such a thing. Who knew? Well, he did, because he ran it. Or, should I say "ran" it, because, as he said, after a while it just becomes a death march. He finished in just over 7 hours, this from a man who normally runs in the 3-hour range. My favorite quote from the press release about the marathon is this, about the womens race: "Pushpa Chandra of Canada edged out Great Britain’s Daniela Spiridigliozzi in the closing stages to win in a time of 7:27:31." Edged out? At seven-plus hours, there is no "edge."

The course: a full clockwise loop and change of the Park, ending at Tavern on the Green and the marathon finish line.

I was not shooting for a time. I knew I would be under an hour, the question was, how much? I have done zero speed work all winter. Just some hill work, and trying to get my endurance up. I figured Jeff will kick my arse with the speed work once Team training starts up in a few weeks. My endurance levels have been funky these past couple of weeks -- one day, a ten-miler is a breeze, another day I can barely do four. I don't know what this means. Part of it could be that my training has been inconsistent -- with the new steno stuff going on, I haven't been able to settle into a training routine. I'm also not sleeping as much as I should. And, you know, I'm a woman of a certain age. Things are, let's say, happening.

That being said, I have been a little more consistent these past two weeks, and stepped up my mileage a bit, so I'm hoping that what it is, is that I'm wavering on the edge of a breakthrough in endurance, and that's why it's so weird. Fingers crossed.

Just as the starting gun goes off, it starts raining. It was a cold rain, and it felt great, even though I hate rain in my eyes, and was wishing I had worn a hat or visor. It rained for maybe the first 15-20 minutes. Once it stopped, Central Park once again became Central Swamp, but the weather was so odd, I couldn't tell if it was cold and hot. And the strangest thing happened -- midway through the Great Hill (the one on the northern end of the Park) is a water stop. Right after the water stop, I could see my breath. I guess it was the combo of the cold water and the humidity, but I've never had that happen before. That's all we talked about the rest of the way up the hill.

I may be slow, but for some reason, I've always been pretty good at hills. At least that's what I tell myself. They don't wear me out as much as I think they should. Even though I dread them, I look at them as a challenge to overcome. That helps. A friend who is training for an ultra says to shorten your stride and slow down a little, that helps you get up hills with less effort. I don't know what I do, but I'll try that next time and see if there's a difference.

The last mile or so was a slog, just because of the humidity. I also started feeling hungry, which I hate. I didn't have my usual bagel and banana breakfast, I had bread and banana. Could that have really affected me? I'll never mess with the winning formula again!!

Crossed the line in 56:43. Not bad, but not my best time, by a longshot. I would have liked to be more in the 55 minute range. Soon, I hope! I'm really pinning a lot on training. I really want to break 4:00 this year.

Made plans with some Teammates for meeting up at the Tuesday Wall Street Run (that's today) and went home. As I walked back home, along the last half-mile of the route, I stopped to see if I could spot any stray Teammates, or my friend Cris. And lo and behold, there was Abby!! Abby had to sit out last year's marathon, she fractured her hip during training. We started the Team together, and were at about the same speed that first year. The thing about Abby is, no matter how tough the workout is, she's smiling all the way through it (That's why MSKCC uses her picture in Fred's Team ads. I just look like a sweaty freak.) This was her second race of the season, she had just begun training again. She was exhausted, but nonetheless -- smiling!! I jumped back on the course and ran with her to the finish line. It's so great to see her again, and on the road, too. Hooray!!

No work today, heading down to the World Financial Center to pick up my stuff for tonight's race.

More anon, including the first NYC Running Bloggers Meet-up, the Wall Street Run, and this year, I promise, CONTESTS!!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

My Annual Appeal

At the age of three, Liam Witt was diagnosed with neuroblastoma, a rare cancer of the nervous system. I met him two years ago, and as many of you know, ran last year’s NYC Marathon in his honor. He's already undergone multiple surgeries and procedures that would devastate an adult. Yet he never complains, begs to go to school even if his treatments leave him bald, and is an inspiration to everyone he meets. He's certainly mine.

Liam just finished his 6th round of 3F8 antibody treatment, a treatment currently available only at MSKCC and one other hospital in the world. This treatment, developed at MSKCC with Fred’s Team money, has raised the cure rate for neuroblastoma from less than 20 percent to just under 60 percent.

Thanks to you, Liam celebrated his fifth birthday yesterday.

To make sure that Liam, and the other children at MSKCC, get to celebrate many more birthdays, I am lacing up my shoes to run the NYC Marathon for Fred’s Team for the fourth time. I know times are tough and money is tight, but may I ask you once again to donate to my Fred's Team effort this year?

The easiest way to donate is to click here. It will take you to my Fred’s Team home page, and you can pay with a credit card (do not use autofill to fill in your address, it does something odd to the form.)

If you would prefer to support me with a check, please make it payable to "MSKCC" and send it directly to me. I will take care of adding my race ID numbers and sending it to MSKCC. My address is: 152 W. 58th Street #2D, New York, NY 10019-2111.

If your company offers matching donations, please send me the form. I will fill it out and send it in to MSKCC.

Please read about Liam and his amazing journey by clicking on his mother's blog, "Prince Liam the Brave," at the link to the right of the page.

On behalf of Prince Liam and myself, thank you once again for your unstinting support.

Love always,