Monday, November 29, 2010

RR - Space Coast Marathon

Race Report
Sun, Nov 28/10
Space Coast Marathon
Cocoa Beach, FL
Marathon # 337
3:51:23 – 2 AG

You may recall in my last report I reported that my health was improving and I hoped that I might resume racing again in Dec? After researching race calendars I selected an inaugural marathon in Cape Coral, FL in mid-Dec to make my comeback. However to prepare for a marathon it is necessary to do some long training runs (20 miles or longer) – and I HATE long training runs. I would rather run a marathon than run a 20-mile training run!

I was scheduled for a 2nd infusion of Remicade and a follow-up appointment with the GI doc in mid-Nov so I decided to select a marathon in late NOV to use as a long training run (if I got a green light to race). The meeting with the doc went well. Although the UC is not yet in full remission it is under control and he removed all the lifestyle restrictions (diet, travel and racing). I specifically addressed running/racing in detail and he confirmed that running/racing and exercise was good for my health and should/would not affect the UC! It only proves that if you select the right doc and pay him enough he will tell you anything you want to hear?

Now that I had a ‘green light’ to race again the Sports Manager and I drove across FL to Cocoa Beach to register for the Space Coast Marathon. I ran this race in 2003 (1st AG in 3:58) and knew it was a flat, fast course. The course has changed. It now starts and finishes in downtown Cocoa Village.
After registering and picking up a race packet at the Expo at the Kennedy Space Center we drove to Cocoa Village to check out the logistics of the start/finish. Then we enjoyed a standard pasta dinner and retired early.

Sun was ‘M’ day. I was a wee bit concerned on Sat and Sun morning as I drove to Cocoa Village. I had been experiencing some minor symptoms of the UC – stomach cramps and diarrhea – that I thought were finished? There were not many portable toilets at the start and I had to find some alleys and bushes for a few emergency pit stops before the start. I hoped it didn’t continue through the race?

The races – marathon and half marathon – both started in downtown Cocoa Village. There were approximately 3,000 runners – 1,000 in the marathon and 2,000 in the Half. There were two separate start corrals because the marathon made a quick right turn after the start and looped through the village before heading north on Riverside Dr along the west bank of the Indian River. The Half turned left and ran south on Riverside Dr along the Indian River. Both races started at 6:15 am. The weather was ideal as forecast – 57 F and overcast at the start and sunny and 66 F at the finish.

During the past few months I only ran ‘junk’ miles just to maintain and build up my aerobic conditioning. I had not included any speed work or intensity in my training. Thus my strategy for this race or long training run was to consider it a 20-mile tempo run. I planned to go out at a 4-hr pace and hold that pace as long as possible. I figured I could hold that pace for 20 miles and then I would probably have to ‘hang on’ and struggle through the final 10 Km to finish?

When I lined up at the start I noticed another ‘old fart’ who looked to be in my Age Group. I tried to convince myself to ignore other runners and not to attempt to compete – I wasn’t in shape to compete!
The race started on time and I instinctively tried to keep the other old fart in sight. I passed Mile 5 in 42:36 and an 8:34 split! I was way ahead of my planned pace! But I felt OK so I decided to hold that pace to the Half and then re-evaluate. As I made the turn for the 1st half-marathon loop I noticed that the old fart was only about 1 minute ahead of me. I passed mile 10 in 1:25:53 and reached the Half back in downtown Cocoa Village in 1:52:35 and a split of 8:36! I was definitely running way over my head!
The 2nd Half followed the half-marathon course south along the Indian River so we met/passed a lot of half-marathoners racing to the finish line.

I still felt OK but knew that if I continued to hold an 8:30 pace the final 10Km could be really ugly! There was no false illusion that I could hold that pace for 26 miles! I decided to go for it! I passed Mile 15 in 2:08:47 and a split of 8:35 and then the wheels started to fall off! My legs suddenly felt tired and heavy and my splits slowed to 8:45s. I knew that the smart thing would be to slow the pace to 9:00 or 9:15s but I was determined to run a 20-mile tempo run so I continued to push the pace. As I approached the turn-around at Mile 20 I noticed that the old fart was now about 5 minutes ahead of me. The only way I could catch him was if he crashed in the final 10Km (and I didn’t).
I passed Mile 20 in 2:53:16 and a split of 9:28. I knew that any chance of catching the old fart in 1st place was gone and that relieved a lot of stress and any motivation to accept any more pain than I was already suffering! I calculated that the worst case was to slow down to a 10-min pace and still finish well under 4 hrs or if I could push the pace down to 9:00/mile I could break 3:50!

I had to make an emergency pit stop at 20 miles that cost me a few minutes but also gave the old, wasted legs a much-needed rest. I was able to lower the split on Mile 21 to 9:03 but then the legs were finished. I struggled to hold a 9:30 pace for the final 5 miles and cross the finish line in 3:51:23.
My legs were tired and sore but I was very pleased and happy with both my time and performance. I never expected to break 4 hrs – in fact that was my goal for the next race in Cape Coral.

I walked back to the car for the camera to take a required finish line photo and check the results. I confirmed that I did indeed finish 2nd AG and the old fart beat me by 10 minutes! I wasn’t upset – I had run way over my head! And that 20-mile tempo run jump-started my speed work. I will now add mile repeats to my weekly program. The biggest question now is “what target should I set for the next race”?

Stay tuned!

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Mileage & Medical Report

Mileage & Medical Report
Nov 7/10

Mileage report:

I just logged 76 (running) miles this past week.
So even though I missed quite a few weeks and miles this past year due to some ‘wee’ health issues I still managed to pass 2,000 miles (2036) for the year. I submit this report mainly to inform my good friend Dr D. that I do not intend to lie down and simply concede the annual mileage title to him for a second year in a row! Nope! He will have to work hard to retain his title!

Clearly I cannot maintain this weekly level of mileage w/o injury so it appears that I will not reach my normal annual average mileage of 2500 miles for a second year in a row! Is this a sign of OLD AGE? If so I do not want any part of it!

It looks like (once again) all I can hope is that next year brings back my normal mileage – and a normal life!

Medical Report:

The long and frustrating struggle for recovery continues.

After a multitude of additional medical test and results, including a re-scope of both ends of the GI tract, the docs have concluded that there are no additional or hidden issues/bacteria/diseases. It has been
re-confirmed for the third time that my illness is simply a case of ‘severe’ Ulcerative Colitis (UC). Wish it were that ‘simple’.

We have tried many of the regular drugs and combinations of drugs normally used to control this nasty disease. We have tried many significant lifestyle changes including - NO travel – NO marathons/races – NO running/exercise and a very restricted diet. And I mean ‘restricted’! The ‘Low Residue Diet’ eliminated most of my favorite food groups. NO fried food – NO snack food – very limited fruits and veggies and – NO alcohol or caffeine! In other words “Anything that tastes good”!

Alas! None of these treatments and/or lifestyle changes provided any significant effect or improvement in the symptoms and failed to force the UC into remission!
The first ray of hope occurred two weeks ago when we began flushing cortisone liquid directly into the colon. This treatment provided some immediate relief and improvement in my symptoms. The stomach cramps and diarrhea diminished and the leg/foot pains diminished and then disappeared one week later. I am now able to run 10 to 15 miles w/o walking and can even make it (thankfully) between public toilets along my routes for major pit stops. However I still have to carry a packet of toilet paper for emergency situations! The Sports Manager and I are able to play golf again and (with the consent of my doc) I am ignoring the “NO booze” and a few other items on that restricted diet! Thus my “Quality of Life” is improving.

But alas again! Even the cortisone treatment combined with the regular drugs and lifestyle changes have not been successful in forcing the UC into remission. We are not satisfied with the progress and current level of symptoms so we have moved up to the highest level of drugs and treatment.

I received my first infusion of Remicade this past week. Remicade is a biologic drug/therapy that recognizes, attaches to, and blocks the action of a protein called tumor necrosis alpha (TNF –alpha) that is made by certain blood cells in the body. TNF can cause the immune system to attack healthy tissues in the body and cause inflammation and damage (e.g. UC)!

Remicade is reputed to be a ‘miracle ‘drug. But it is very expensive – and it can cause some nasty side effects!
The docs tell me that it normally takes a second infusion (in 2 weeks) to notice any significant changes or improvements in the symptoms and disease. That is followed by a third infusion at week #6 and then maintenance treatments every 8 weeks for a period of 2 years to control the disease.

Since Remicade is the final ’silver bullet’ in the arsenal I must remain hopeful and optimistic that it will work for me?

Maybe I can start racing again in Dec?

Stay tuned!