Tuesday, August 31, 2010


Last week we had a great vacation on Peaks Island. The ocean has always been magical for me. I can just stare at the waves, currents, wind, boat and animals for hours on end. So the view from the house was great. For those of you that know Casco Bay, Cushing Is. is on the right, Ram and the Ram Is. light are on the left, and Cape Elizabeth is in the distance.

We loaded up the boat and launched it at Falmouth Town Landing. Now this is the way to go on vacation.....

We made rock towers of all sorts....

enjoyed sunsets looking back at Portland.......

and Nick made the jump off of the ferry pier.

Personally, I found time every day to nap, read, and play (occasionally too) ferocious games of spit with Leah. I also ran every day. That was six days in a row, starting with 4 miles, and ended with 5 miles on the last three days. The 5 mile race course is marked at intersections and mile markers, so it was easy to keep track of my pace. For a race that generally goes around the perimeter of an island, it's surprisingly hilly. Without too much straining, I got my pace down to 8:30, which is promising.

On Saturday afternoon, I got a pain in my ribs which made me a bit nervous. Was another clot lodging in my lungs? I took Sunday off from exercise, and the pain gradually went away. Today I went to see my doctor, as previously scheduled, and he said it's likely scar tissue in the sack around the lungs.

Importantly, I asked about activity levels. The message was pretty clear- he isn't concerned about further clotting as long as I'm on Coumadin. That means I can go hard. His only concern is doing too much, too fast, and ending up with some sort of injury. So I have clearance to get back at it! That's a great feeling.

I'm signed up for the Lobsterman relay, doing the swim and run, and Jeff F. will be my biker. He's a great guy, always friendly, and a fierce competitor. We've traded off "wins" for a few years now in triathlons. His strength is on the bike, and will go 100%. He also realizes I'm in the race to participate, not to race. I'm there to see friends, watch the race, enjoy the atmosphere, and thank volunteers.

On a more somber note....a friend recently had a serious medical issue. Like me, they were in great shape and very healthy. It's easy for some of us to feel invincible- we put ourselves under so much physical stress and break down mental barriers that we feel nothing can take us down. But that simply isn't true. We are all vulnerable. In the Portland area, I can think of four or five good athletes who have had serious to life threatening issues this summer. Pleeeease make sure your affairs are in order while you still have options available. Treasure what you have. And realize that we rely on many people in order to take on this sport.

I look forward to seeing many of you on Saturday, September 18th in Freeport. It'll be a blast!


You remember the rules.....Keep yourself safe, put a little joy into your life and those around you who you think may merit it, and never ever- that's never ever- pass up an opportunity to kiss someone you love.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Still Wondering

Like life and a training season, I’ve had a bunch of ups and downs for the last few weeks. The head games continue as we try to figure out why I had pulmonary emboli in the first place. Everything has come back negative, which is good and bad. It’s good that I don’t have the scary stuff they’ve tested for, but it’s bad that I’m left hanging.

I’ve met all sorts of people who either had something related to PEs, are or were on Coumadin, or know someone who is. After each conversation, I try to apply it to my situation. I then extrapolate that out into the future and think about how it will affect me. Will I be able to ride a bike on the road? Will I be able to put in hard efforts in any sport? Will I be able to work out for more than 30 minutes?

One person, a father in perhaps the most intelligent family I’ve ever come across, was a professor of physiology. He suggested effort caused the problem. The thought of not going for a long run or ride, or not doing hard intervals, was depressing. I love that stuff. I use to go to the track early in the morning, descend intervals, set a goal for the last one, and when I reached it, have a little celebration. I badly want to do that again, but don’t know if it will be possible. After further consideration of his theory, it doesn’t add up, but that doubt still lingers.

Another person broke her hip after doing three marathons in a month (!!), was on Coumadin for a year, and likely won’t get back to that level of running. She did most of her running on trails, loving every moment of it, and could relate firsthand to the possibility that I won’t compete like I used to. She had good advice for me, saying I need to mourn the loss if that is indeed what happens.

I got up early one morning while on vacation last week. It was stunning outside. Clear sky, the sun was just coming up, it was nice and warm, and it was quiet- the world wasn’t up yet. I really wanted to go out for a few hours and run or ride, leaving everything on the road (figuratively speaking). But that isn’t in the cards yet. I have been doing some shorter runs, however. I’m going about 3.5 miles at a 9 minute pace. I generally feel fine. In the pool, I'm up to 2600 meters.

After three days in a row of running, however, I had some chest pain, so I figured I should take it easy the next day. I went for a walk, and when I got back, realized I had time for some golf. We stay about 200 yards from the first tee, so I grabbed my bag and headed over. I kept moving along, only taking one warm-up swing at a time, and finished nine holes in just 1:07. When I was done, I was told I just missed the record- 48 minutes by a 60 year old (that doesn’t sound like “just missed” to me). I had no idea there was a record. You can take the man out of the competition, but you can’t take the competition out of the man. I showed up the next day, ran with a full bag of clubs, a finished in 47 minutes. It’s actually a great workout. Although on a very different scale, I felt like a biathlete- they cross country ski really hard, then need to calm down enough to take an accurate rifle shot. Two days later, I finished in 42 minutes. Since then, I’ve learned the real “speed golf” rules (the most significant being that you carry between one and six clubs vs. a full bag), and will give it another shot over Labor Day weekend.

I head to Boston on September 10 for the next phase of doctor work. I feel really good about the doctor I decided on. She’s experienced and has very good credentials. Importantly, she has also been an athlete herself. So she can relate to my desire to get back out there. “Coumadin for life” won’t be the easy way out for her. It might be the ultimate answer, but not until the traditional and cutting edge work is exhausted.

I’ve been told it takes six to eight weeks for clots to clear. This Friday is eight weeks. Something tells me that deserves a bit of a celebration.


You know the rules....keep yourself safe, put a little joy into your life and those around you who you think may merit it, and never ever- that's never ever- pass up an opportunity to kiss someone you love.