My mom died . . .

last Monday.

Last Monday morning, I got a phone call from my father, telling me that my mother's condition was deteriorating rapidly. I knew that she was not doing well - I had pretty much dropped everything on Friday the 19th and gone down for Friday and Saturday, and, although her condition was critical, I didn't realize (nor did any of us) that it was essentially terminal. The nurses could not tell us, point-blank, that the prognosis was dire, merely that it was a serious situation. (She was diagnosed with stage IIIc colon cancer back in August, and we found out just after Christmas that the tumor was back, and essentially inoperable, though there was hope that a different chemo regimen might make a difference.)

Anyway, I started making phone calls for someone to watch the munchkin, and was on the road within a couple of hours. Not soon enough, however - but even if I had been able to leave as soon as I got the call, I could not have made it in time.

So, all of last week was taken up with dealing with the mortuary, the family visitation, the memorial service, and so forth. It was not fun, but it was in a way assuring to see all the people at the service, people whose lives she had influenced and whose hearts she had touched. Many of my dad's co-workers attended the service, and the local Girl Scout office (my mom was in GSA for decades as a leader, even after my sisters were out of it) sent probably close to a dozen people, in full GSA uniform.

We're all grieving, in our own ways. My dad has his good moments, where he can recall all of the happy memories, and his bad ones, where he thinks about all of the things that they kept putting off for next year. My younger sister is doing okay, mostly, though she has had the strain of helping care for mom during most of the month. My youngest sister, who is still in college, is taking it pretty hard. She's back at school, or at least back in her dorm, where her friends are trying to cheer her up. As for me, I'm back at home, and trying to be mindful of exactly how short are days really are.

I mean, if you are lucky, you might see 85 or 90 Christmases, and you probably won't remember the first 5 or 10 all that well, if at all. You only get the ring in the New Year on four score occasions (roughly), and you might only see 20 leap years. That's not that many. I'm trying to treasure each day, and stop putting off the books I want to read "later", or the projects that can wait until "next year." I can't do it all at once, but something like this makes you think about how short life really is.

(If you are interested, my mom's obituary is here.)


Oh, my knees are going to hate me tomorrow

Tonights run was more than I bargained for. I stuck to my original plan, or at least fairly close. 5 miles, at a much reduced speed, but an increased incline, and then reducing the incline and increasing the speed every mile. You wouldn't think that a 5% grade would be so bad, but it was not pleasant. I stuck it out for the first three miles, and then dropped the incline over mile 4, and ran on a 0 grade for the last mile. My knees were sore afterwards, but they are feeling better already, so I'm opimistic that they will be fine for cross-training tomorrow.

Nothing much happened on the home front today - the munchkin is still waffling between accepting that he should be using the potty, and resisting the swtich from the familiar yet soggy diapers. He's getting better, and he should have everything down right about in time to revert to wettting through in an effort to score attention when his sister gets here.

I've dug out some of my old books on coding, and am looking into some template changes, as well as adding other links. So, no changes today, but more changes soon. Honest.


Very quick update

Added current running totals to sidebar. Ran 4 miles easy yesterday, ran 4 miles of treadmill hell today. Will add more later, need food NOW.


Quick update

Due to popular demand (ie, one person requested it), I have made some changes - namely, I started updating my links section. I added four or five running links and a webcomic, and will be adding some more soon. I'm behind for the day, because a friendly neighborhood ice storm knocked out our power from about 4:30 this morning until 1 pm (or thereabouts).


First "long" run in a while

Okay, I haven't made any visible changes to the blog yet - I'm looking for new links, debating keeping some of the old, looking at some coding issues, and other "bells and whistles". It's not as though my massive audience of 2 (3?) is breaking down the door, demanding a new and improved version of my classic brain dribbles.

On to running, right? Tonight was a continuation of my "long run" series. As you may recall, I hadn't run more than 3 miles or so since Chicago, and boy, did it show when I hit mile 4 or 5. Tonight was a 7 mile run, at a fairly leisurely pace. I finished in less than an hour, but not by a whole bunch, so I can see that I need to work a bit to get back to doing close to 8.3 for more than an hour. The good news is that it didn't take much out of me, and, although I might be sore in the morning, it's probably going to be no worse than any other run. In time, my plan is to do tonights run at a (slightly) faster pace, twice a week, in addition to a speedwork session, maybe a hills run, and a long slow run. Once it gets into summer, I am going to have to do a couple back-to-back long run days, just to start prepping myself for a half-marathon one day and a marathon the next. At least, I'll need to do it if I want to actually race them.



Yep, I'm making some changes to the blog. Adding more links, taking a few out, making some cosmetic tweaks, possibly some other stuff, if I can be bothered. It won't interrupt my sporadic posting, and everything should still work okay, but I thought that it was time for a change of background.


Boy, that stunk (and a short discussion on small penis syndrome)

Tonight's run just plain stunk. I could blame it on the food I ate (beans & rice, only an hour and some before running), I could blame on the fact that I messed up calculating my required pace, and started too slowly, I could even blame it on the fact that the munchkin woke up a half hour earlier today than yesterday (5 am, whereas yesterday it was 5:30, and a luxurious 6 am the day before that. I long already for the heady days of last weekend, when he slept in as late as 7 am. Luxury.) In the end, however, tonight's run was just disappointing all around. I did another 5k time trial, and wound up with 22:34. I'll stew about it for another day or so, then keep plugging away, and see if I can break the 21:30 barrier next Friday or Saturday.

Now, to the whole "small penis syndrome" thing. On my way home from the way, I wanted to pass a sedan on the highway. Now, granted, I was passing on the right, but they were doing 55 in a 70, and for no reason - the weather was okay (not great, but nothing worth losing 15 mph over either). They saw me, and sped up, preventing me from passing them by boxing me in behind another vehicle in the right lane. I shrugged and said "Okay, they're doing limit now, maybe they just weren't familiar with the area or something" and go in behind them. They slowed back down to 55 - 60. When I finally got around the second vehicle, again I tried to pass them. And again they sped up, boxing me in once again. This happened three times (I think), and they finally tried cutting me off from my intended exit from the highway. The moral of the story, however, is that if you are going to be doing 15 under the limit in the left lane, you will get passed. And sometimes, the car that wants to pass you is actually a minivan. Learn to deal with it, or learn to drive the speed limit (or in the right hand lane).

As an aside note, my lovely wife just told me that there is some high school sporting thing going on in town, so we have a lot of unchaperoned adolescents, who (according to her) were trying to peel out in a 15 passenger van, and generally playing all sorts of "funny" little road games with each other. It's nice that you are trying to nudge each other off the road; it just makes me want to call it in as a suspected drunk driver. (Pity I forgot about the cell phone until I was home; I haven't carried one on a routine basis in well over a year, so I just didn't think about it.)


4 within 48

So today was supposed to be a cross-training day. I guess, since I used the rowing machine, it was, but I also ran 4 miles. I used only a slight incline (0.5) for most of it (well, everything past mile 1, anyway), and started at a modest 7.0 mph. Every tenth of a mile, I would increase the speed by .1 mph, so by the end of mile 1, I was going 8 mph. I picked it up a bit more than that, actually, so that I could hold almost a half-mile at a fast 9.2 (I think), and then slowly started backing it down, about as quickly as I had sped up. Intersting workout, and it definitely forced me to pay attention to what I was doing, instead of just going through the motions.

This brings my current total to 32.1 miles. And only about 4 days behind where I wanted to be. I'll catch up soon enough, possibly before the end of the month. I might manage to get to about 45 before the end of the 14th, and I wanted to be at about 62, so I'm going to have to pick things up a bit. I just need to keep reigning myself in, so that I don't injure myself trying to add too much, too soon.

Speedwork and recovery, all in one day

Yep, I pulled a double today. This morning, the fates shined upon me, the heavens opened, the stars aligned, and so forth. Or, more simply, my son finally agreed to go to the Y again. Ever since we got back from vacationing at the in-laws, the munchkin hasn't wanted to go play at the Y. Or the library. Or any of his other favorite haunts. He has mainly wanted to stay home and play with his toys (which he did miss while we were away), though he will consent to going grocery shopping as long as we buy milk and "Amtrack cheese." (String cheese, long story, I'll tell it someday.)

So, anyway, still feeling the vague sting of last nights failed attempt, I decided on a little speedwork. The plan was do to a few .25 mile sprints, each followed by a .25 mile slow jog for recovery. I only did 8, mainly due to time pressures, which leads me to believe that I need to increase the recovery speed and probably the sprint speed by a bit. Or just keep doing them until the machine decides that an hour was enough. I also did some rowing, but it's going to be a while before I build up all those nice protective callouses that stop the blisters from forming. In time, in time. . . in the meanwhile, I content myself with 10-15 extra minutes of rowing after the rest of the workout.

And tonight, after running a few sundry errands (new comic day, and we needed more pull-up diapers), I decided to pull a double and run a 5 mile recovery run. I had to fight to keep the speed down, and it might have been too slow, but I did pick it up for the latter half of the run, and got downright speedy for the last mile. Tomorrow, I may be a cripple (and I'm being reminded now that toenails are optional equipment anyway), but it felt good to pull off two runs in a day. Actually, I did three within the space of 24 hours. And if I get to the gym early enough tomorrow and run instead of cross-training, I could do 4 runs within 36 hours.


Sub-20 5K?

Shyeah, right. Not when you largely neglect speedwork for several months, and pace along at an easy pace (faster than last year, but not pushing by any means). I hopped on the 'mill tonight, and decided to see if I could manage a sub-20 5k, and, if not, see how close I was.

The results are not entirely discouraging, but not good. I managed to pull off a semi-respectable (for me) 22:00, in part because I just took off too fast. I held the requisite speed for a mile, but then had to slow way down (from 9.4 mph to 7), and slowly ramp things back up. I still managed a nice sprint at the end (which gave me the 22:00), and I think that a more even pace will probably see more closer to 21:00 than not.

I have started add time and miles to my daily runs, since what I had been doing will only see me through an 8k race, tops. I might be able to bull my way through a half-marathon, but 26.2 would see me bonk hard, probably by mile 15 or so. So, Sundays run was 4 miles, and Mondays was 5. This puts my current YTD total at 21.1 miles. Still depressing, but it's a start.


It's official

It may be premature, but I went ahead and registered for the Goofy Challenge. I've paid, and printed the receipt; so in just over a year, I'll be running a half-marathon on Saturday, and then a full one on Sunday. No, I am not going to be trying for specific times (probably); but I do plan on finishing strong in both races. Just not so hard that I can't wander around the parks for the rest of the days.

I'll probably sign up for the 5k too, just to round out the weekend. After all, when you agree to 39.3 miles, what's another 3.1?

She's home from the hospital

My mom was discharged from the hospital today. Well, technically yesterday, since it is very early Monday morning as I write this, but, at any rate, the main point is that she is now home. She got put back on a liquid diet on Friday, and I think she actually had some solid foods yesterday.

My sister had gone out and bought her a Nerf dart gun, and apparently my mother had been taking friendly potshots at relatives and the staff. When she managed to peg the oncologist (twice) and the surgeon, they pretty much agreed that (1) she had to be feeling much better; and (2) she was probably well enough to go home. So, she's home, and although she is still sick, and will start chemo again soon, there are some reasons to remain hopeful.

On a running note, I went for a home dreadmill run tonight, aiming more for time than speed or distance. For the past month (at least), my runs have been short 2-3 mile things, at best, with the intent to be done in 20 minutes or less. So, tonight I slowed it down, and did 4 miles at a more leisurely pace. It's boring, since I have no TV in the area yet, but at least I can aim a fan right at myself, and keep things like Gatorade and Gu nearby. I'll move a TV and VCR over there sometime in the next couple of days, so that I can watch movies or something while I run. I won't do it all the time, because I feel that I need to remember how to combat the mind-numbing boredom of slogging along for close to four hours - though I'd like to cut that boredom down to barely three hours. Say, 3:09:59?


Test spin on the treadmill

Okay, so it's not technically an inaugural run, since my wife used it for a while last night. Still, she's pregnant, and normally runs a bit slower than I do, so tonight was the first time that our treadmill has been really put through its paces.

Well, some of them, anyway. I barely used the incline, but I did max out the speed for a bit. I haven't run any significant distance in over a month. Instead, I have been doing a lot of short, 15 minute, 2+ mile runs, and trying to work on form, cadance and speed. Tonight, I planned on doing 3-4 miles, using the target heart rate program, and just seeing how it went.

In a word, lousy. Somewhere around mile 1.20, the monitor lost track of my pulse long enough for the 'mill to decide that I was dead, and stopped. That's okay, since I used the opportunity to scrounge around and set up a box fan, situated to provide at least some cooling. I then knocked off another 2 miles, with the HRM losing track of me several times. I think it's just where it's located, though I might not have it tight enough for a good contact. I'll fiddle with it, just to see. If not, the HRM wasn't a huge selling point anyway; I'm going to start saving for a Garmin, which will be my little present to myself when I finally run a BQ race.

Total miles for the year: 5 (gads, how depressing).

Update, and something about running

OKay, my mom is still in the hospital. From Christmas until earlier today, she had an NG tube (or, outside medical parlance, a nasogatric tube; basically, she had a tube running through her nose and down into her stomach, to suck out fluids). Until Sunday, she was only getting IVs of sugar water and could only get water by using a sponge. On Sunday, they finally started giving her a nutrient IV, and today she finally got the NG tube removed, and is on a liquid diet - which is a huge improvement from yesterday. So, there is some good news there.

And, on running news - before Christmas, we bought a Fitline 400 treadmill. Now, according to the review on Treadmill Doctor, a "$2000 Fitline is like a $80,000 VW." Fortunately, we paid substantially less than that for it - get managed to get one at somewhat less than half the theoretical MSRP, including tax. (I brought it home myself, and will spare you the saga of getting it into the house - we laughed, we cried, I used a lot of Ben-Gay afterwards. You try manhandling a treadmill down stairs that are too narrow, while it tries to unfold on you. Lots of fun, I promise.) Anyway, it's going to be nice for days like today, where I don't make the Y, and still want to get a run in.

And I need to get one in. I plan on running a total of 1750 miles this year, or just under 34 miles per week. So far, I have run 2 miles of that, or .11%. Tonight, I plan on using the treadmill for a 4 or 5 mile run, though I might see if I can break a 20 minute 5k. I'm close; I managed 19:45 or so for three miles a couple of weeks ago, but the holidays and a lot of driving might mean that it has to wait until next month as an achievement.


Gonna be quiet for a bit

I'm still running, off and on, but not posting much. See, back in August, my mom was diagnosed with Stage IIIC Colon cancer, and, although we thought everything was fine (surgery went well, chemo was going okay, once we got past a few initial hiccups), this Christmas saw my mom back in the hospital, with another tumor. Apparently, not everything was caught the first time (which is why they do chemo), and the tumor is one of the ones which does not respond to the more conventional treatments. Currently, the prognosis is grim, but not dire - so, they're not saying "You only have a few weeks/months," but they are saying that there is no guarantee that this novel treatment regimen will be effective, and so we are in a "wait and see" pattern.