Showing posts from June, 2006

The Afterglow

[Note: I had artwork to accompany this unusually long post, but Blogger will have none of it right now.] Today I went to the hospital for a bone scan, which was going to confirm a stress fracture that earlier x-rays could only suggest. The three-hour procedure turned into a 9-hour ordeal with me at one point bra-less in a busy waiting room and arguing over what constituted claustrophobia. And that was the fun part of the day. Scanning the Parking Lot…and Then My Body After eventually finding a parking spot, we got to the hospital’s nuclear medicine unit around 8:30 a.m. for an injection of a radioactive tracer substance that later would allow any bone undergoing stress to glow during a body scan. I’d had blood work done two days prior, so one arm already was pretty bruised. We decided to use the other, so by the end of the day I’d have matching track marks. The needle pinched and the solution burned for an instant and then we were done until I returned in three hours for the scree

Weighing an important issue this summer

Sometimes I fancy myself a budding social scientist. I read a lot of economics, anthropology and sociology books for fun and each summer devote part of my leisure reading to more weighty works. Right now I'm particularly drawn to food science, so this year I'm boning up on the human diet. The following is sort of a primer on popular scientific theories I plan to explore and share here in the coming months. Feel free to weigh in. The Associated Press distilled a compendium of 100 scientific studies into 10 reasons we're weighing more these days . Here's a breakdown: 1. Inadequate sleep. (Average sleep amounts have fallen, and many studies tie sleep deprivation to weight gain.) 2. Endocrine disruptors, which are substances in some foods that may alter fats in the body. 3. Nice temperatures. (Air conditioning and heating limit calories burned from sweating and shivering.) 4. Fewer people smoking. (Less appetite supression.) 5. Medicines that cause weight gain.

A seventh of the sadness

In many ways, I’ve come to terms with my temporary plight and even begun to embrace the good things about not being able to run. I’m staying up later and sleeping in longer because my early mornings aren't earmarked for a certain activity. I’m eating less and losing weight because my appetite’s adjusted to this sedentary lifestyle. And I’m moving guilt-free through the piles of DVDs, magazines, novels and non-fiction books that stacked up over the year. But every Sunday I suffer a minor setback. I’ve written before about my favorite day of the week , which always opened with an early morning long run through my suburb while listening to a retro radio show. That particular brand of 80s music no longer reminds me of my college years or my single days. After five years, the music now triggers memories of running right here in Scripps Ranch. I think of the sudden warmth of the sun melting through the marine layer and the fog lifting off Miramar Lake. The blue hues of the mountains in

Why All the Fuss about Boston?

About a month ago Dennis and I had an e-mail exchange about the lure (and the lore) of the Boston Marathon. He’s done it; I haven’t. We both agreed that the race is way too hyped. Dennis has decided to carry that virtual conversation onto his blog and I’d love to hear what everyone thinks (as would he, I’m sure). I think in our need to place order to everything, we had to select one race to be better than the others and the nod went to the storied Boston race. Its tradition, and especially the BAA’s reluctance to fiddle with that aspect, made it a natural selection. The somewhat recent institution of a qualifying time to limit the field (and presumably reduce permit costs) only strengthened runners’ resolve to run it, even if there are numerous ways to circumvent that requirement. Boston has a cache that other major marathons like New York City and Chicago do not, at least not within certain running circles. But I’ve frequently asked myself why I want to do it. I mean, I commuted by

Some Old-Fashioned Advice

The New York Times' Jane Brody has written about health and fitness for decades. I remember buying one of her tomes at a discount book barn back in the mid-1980s, and by then she was a household name. So I'm going to give her a free pass on constantly referring to all runners as "joggers" in today's column . But I wonder about some of the advice she dispenses, presumably for former armchair athletes finally ready to leave the bench. She recommends people stay hydrated with water first and use sports drinks only if exercising two or three or more hours. That could be interpreted as running on water for a half marathon or more, and I wonder in summer heat, where electrolytes evaporate from sweaty bodies more quickly, if that's a sound strategy. She also states that nearly every marathon is marked by someone "keeling over" with a heart attack...given the hundreds of 26-milers now, that stat seems a little high to me. Maybe every major marathon?

A 'Super' Sunday

This morning around 6, as I was shuffling into the grocery store near my house, I saw two weathered men on a nearby bench. They looked like many of the other unauthorized residents that live in the canyons of my suburb. One was younger and eyeing me; the other, older and oblivious. He was too busy talking into a cell phone in rapid, animated Spanish. It took me only a few minutes to buy the remaining ingredients for my husband’s breakfast in bed (a hearty meal complemented by cards, the sports pages and our bedroom TV remote on the tray), so the older man was still talking loudly as I left. I listened all the way home but could only make out one sentence, one I’d heard going into the store too. “I love you.” The elder man said it repeatedly and each time he did his voice raised an octave. That’s when it dawned on me the man was talking to his family back home. Maybe it was Mexico. Maybe El Salvador, Guatemala or some other Latin American country. Maybe the younger man was his son; he

The Little Things

This week I plopped my injured self on our solarium couch to proof pages of an upcoming personal finance book. Each chapter opens with a quotation, and all day yesterday I kept in mind the passage introducing a section on having children. “Enjoy the little things in life, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things.” --Henry David Thoreau I know what Thoreau was driving at, but in my current state, I chose a slightly different interpretation. Someday soon I will look back on this marathon and this month and forget it opened with pain and anguish and uncertainty that just got worse as the miles and weeks progressed. Instead I will remember the giggles among us girls in the starting corral when I whispered that my “invigorating” spray to ease aches had mysteriously migrated to my nether region. I’ll remember Marissa snapping us smiling into her disposable camera as we ran with determination, and to avoid eye contact with the guy in the sombrero and Speedo. I’l

My Spirit Wasn't the Only Thing Broken

I gave myself until today to feel better on my own. When I still couldn't lift my leg without using my arms and continued to wake throughout the night feeling even worse than the day before, I made the appointment. The verdict: I apparently ran the Rock 'n' Roll Marathon with a stress fracture. (In addition to the mild groin pull and renal malfunction.) That's according to an M.D. and a slew of x-rays outlining my femur and hip. The severity won't be determined until a bone scan at the hospital in upcoming weeks. I'm hoping it's a teensy frissure, of course. Until then, I've pulled the crutches out of the closet. And been granted permission to resume my Motrin. Prescription strength.

Giada's 'Portion Control'

Giada De Laurentiis lately has been the subject of numerous conversations among friends. So I was eager to read a Time magazine article on how she stays pencil thin. Her secret is apparently watching how much she eats, working out with a personal trainer and walking around 'boring' Pacific Palisades. Then came this passage: ("Why don't you run?" I ask. "It would be much more efficient." "Um, I have larger breasts than some," she says with a smile that hovers between Hollywood pride and knowing self-deprecation. "And running is not good for them.") I'll say no more, if I know what's good for me too.

Another Midlife Crisis Averted

Well, well, well. Seems someone in this household, allegedly speaking on behalf of the city of San Diego and greater North America, has had enough of my marathon. I’ve been told to cut it out. The edict came after a party Saturday in which at least 80% of guests were runners and a good many had run the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon. I believe 99% of them are sick of me talking about my “renal failure” which wasn’t a failure but more of a malfunction. (The remaining 1% would be me.) I will say Saturday I did get exceptional mileage from my marathon story. That morning I grouped up with runners participating in a new half marathon training program for America’s Finest City in August. I’m planning to train with the group since the schedule fits nicely with Hal Higdon’s Intermediate I program for Chicago. I thought of doing Intermediate II, but given my newfound appreciation of the aging process, I’m picking the kinder, gentler schedule. Anyway, I had to repeatedly retell my denouement to any

Only Time (and Training) Will Tell

I’m done wincing at all the photos. I’m done walking off all the stiffness. I’m done dealing with denial. Since Sunday, I’ve sworn off Advil capsules and Tylenol tablets. Every time I was tempted, I remembered my misery during Sunday’s marathon. People have e-mailed me to let me know I dodged a bullet. A potentially lethal bullet. They sent photos of people who didn’t do as well, who were hospitalized with kidney or liver failure. They sent me the names of doctors and begged me to get my internal organs checked out. But I had a new job to start on Monday and before I could make the call, I was able to again bend my legs when walking, take the stairs and pretend that the pounding headaches and mysterious itching were better. It’s weird because normally by now I’m back running and downloading training schedules, and yet the thought of doing either makes my stomach flip-flop. Someone last night said it’s because I polluted my body when my renal system temporarily seized up. Maybe som

You Oughta Be in Pictures

Or at least in the magazine Marathon & Beyond . My friend Dennis is writing an article on the differences in East Coast vs. West Coast trail running and is seeking trail/ultra runners from all over the country. If you aren't familiar with the publication, you should be. It's not your typical magazine; it looks more like a large paperback book. All of the articles have some depth to them and avoid the ‘5 Steps to Your Best 5k’ staples of other running magazines. Instead, this one favors soulful stories about marathoners' and ultramarathoners' ticks and travels. And in the interest of full disclosure, I'm writing an article on one of the world's most humble marathon maniacs for an upcoming issue. (And, no, it’s not me. Remember, I said most humble .)

The San Diego RBF Meet-Up in Pictures

Jeff (The Amazing Hip) and his wife Lori from Orange County, Calif. Yours Truly with 'sole mate' Susan (Runner Susan) from Dallas and her sister Amy from Indiana On the right is A. Maria (Little Miss Runner Pants) from Kansas City and her friend from here in San Diego (I'm so sorry but I'm blanking on her name.) North Carolinian Karen (Winning by Losing), aka NCMunchkin, and her mom Nic (Phase Five) of San Francisco San Diegan Laura (My Beautiful Life) and her husband Eric and 7-month-old daughter Allison First-time marathoners Amy (30 YOF Seeks Marathon to Run) and her boyfriend Troy, both from Georgia The Connecticut contingency: April Anne (It's A Beautiful Life) and Dianna (Running Chick with the Orange Hat) Group shot of everyone before we went our merry ways.

Just Say No

Several people have contacted me through backchannels to fill me in on a possible cause of yesterday's urination constipation. I didn't mention that I ran a bulk of the marathon with on-and-off chills and nausea and that by the end, taking even a few swallows of water was tough. As far as I know, though, I continued to sweat and I stayed well hydrated. But it appears the culprit that set everything in motion might be my over-the-counter pain reliever . I'd been pounding back the pills in the weeks leading up to the race, even knocking three of 'em down an hour prior, to help heal my injury. I'd always heard NSAIDs, such as ibuprofen, weren't good for running because it tore up the stomach. It turns out, it can do a number on your kidneys too and result in renal failure. I'm not saying I reached that point; I definitely didn't. But I'm starting to think that Med Tent nurse had me mispegged and that my problem wasn't as mental as she insinuated

Rock 'n' Roll Marathon: I Did It..and You Did It, Too

If you’ve come looking for a breakdown of my strategies and mile splits, they aren’t here. I’m lucky I even looked at my watch. And even if I was keeping tabs, they’d be worthless. Not after seven (or was it eight?) Port-a-potty breaks and a bladder that refused to give up even one ounce of urine until, of course, I needed to hold it in. But if you’re looking for how I ran my slowest and most miserable marathon in 12 years, and couldn’t be more delighted in some respects, then pull up a mouse. Preamble: An RBF Meet-Up and Marilyn Monroe The pre-race Running Blog Family lunch in downtown San Diego went well, if I do say so. Susan and her sister Amy showed up first, followed by April Anne and her two friends, then Amy and her boyfriend Troy, A. Maria and friend, Nicole , Laura and her family, Karen and her mom and Jeff and his wife Lori. Dianna also put in an appearance, and our hearts went out to her upon learning she was ill, so sick with a stomach ailment that she ended up n

My mantra for Sunday morning

The forecast gets worse every time I check. Now it's up to the 80s with an extreme UV index. Ah, well. Stronger sunscreen, it is. Listen, all of those comments you've been leaving have made me downright giddy. I'm smiling far more and groaning a lot less. All that ice and rest is having a positive effect. Yes, I still feel pain in my hip and leg, but not as often. And I'm no longer limping and I'm no longer going to let this setback interfere with my marathon plans. During our pre-expo lunch today at Buca di Beppo, Jeanette (who has a tres cool job as a professional ice skating judge) passed out a list of motivational quotations for us to draw upon come Sunday. What a great list, too. I could pick any of them to repeat over and over when things get bleak, which could be Mile 23 or 13 or 3. But this is the one I'm going with: It is not more than you can handle. It is merely more than you thought you could. There is one thing I do need to get a handle on, an