Wednesday, November 25, 2015

A Runner's Thanksgiving Toast Cheat Sheet

We are all within hours of sitting at the dining room table and most likely one of the elders (could be me,) will start the conversation with, "what are you thankful for?" For all my running readers, I've done the hard work for you and prepared a "cheat sheet" for this Thanksgiving holiday.

To PRINT your cheat sheet click HERE.

(A special thanks to my wife for turning me on to Ms. Lilien's blog for the inspiration and apologies for plagiarism) 

Friday, November 20, 2015

Rudolph the White Nosed Reindeer

Just a quick update for all those that have asked (Thank you!) about my surgery on Tuesday. Dr. Cohen from About Skin Dermatology performed Mohs surgery to remove a basal cell carcinoma from my nose. Could fate have picked a "less obvious" spot than the center of my frickin' face?!

Mohs has been around for awhile and is described as the least invasive (oxymoron) approach to extraction of a cancerous tumor. I guess it's "less" from the standpoint, that they didn't take a melon ball scooper to my face, but it is surgery and they are removing part of your face. Slightly scary stuff.

As I stated in my last post ("The Little c,") I was optimistic in that it was categorized as basal cell vs. melanoma and that I jumped into action as soon as I recognized something wasn't quite right. How could I tell? When a spot appears or something that looks like a zit, but doesn't heal, then you want to get it checked out.

The surgery was classified as outpatient and was performed at Swedish Hospital where my sister works. It was good to have the family nurse and her husband there that morning to wish me well. They instructed me that I could be there for as many as five hours as they would go in and remove the affected area, perform a biopsy in the lab, then stitch me up.

Preparing me for the removal, they simply injected my nose with lidocaine to numb the area. There were no other drugs (yet) so I was conscious the whole time. I avoided eye contact with the needle injecting my nose ("just a little pinprick...just nod if you can hear there anyone at home?") The needle didn't hurt, but there was a bit of burning sensation as the medicine spread into my nose and turned the skin white. I couldn't tell what was really happening as the bright operating room light shined in my face, but at one point, I could tell he was snipped flesh. Sorry...gross...but that's how it went down.

Once the sample (how's that for a tumor euphemism?) was out, we waited for the results. I "lucked out" (if you could call it that) in that they got the entire area in the first wave. I asked how they could tell...seems to me they would have to test my face, not the sample. Think of it as a "pie crust." If the edges and bottom are okay, they got it all. That was the case here.

After that, they numbed my ear to remove a skin graft to cover the wound on the tip of my nose. The inside of the ear most closely resembles the nose with pores. The graft was between the size of a cigarette butt and a dime. She asked if I wanted to look at it in the mirror, which I did and also took selfies that will go in the vault...unless you have a morbid interest, they will stay there.

I was surprised how quick phase I (cut) and phase III (graft) took. This Dr. had clearly seen a few "rodeos" in his day. He's nationally (and international) renowned and had a fantastic bed-side manner. I didn't cry (don't judge,) but I did make use of the stress ball a couple of times. After all that, the nurse did an amazing job with the "dressing," but I look like a white-nosed reindeer.

Post surgery, they want me taking it easy for two weeks to allow the skin graft to take hold. I'm still in the walking boot for a couple of weeks for my stress fracture so I'm down to zero exercise at this point which is starting to drive me nuts. I will go in after Thanksgiving to have stitches removed hopefully, but they will want bandaging on for a total of (likely) five weeks. Ugh! Can we photoshop Thanksgiving and Christmas?

Hard to say how things will heal, but he said there are likely laser and dermabrasion treatments for me in the coming months. I joked that if I had a scar, could he make it something cool like a Mickey Rourke bar fight scar? Perhaps a vintage Nicholson in "Chinatown." That would be a bit more machismo than Rudolph. He said he would do his best.

(Author's Footnote: As I discussed with my last post, I debated writing about this. How much bad news would it take before alienating the few viewers I have, and is this really entertainment? I decided that it's therapeutic to write about it, and it's also an education opportunity for runners and anyone on the dangers of sun exposure and prevention. My reckless youth written differently could have avoided this.) What can you do? Cover that sh*t up...and wear sunscreen when you're out on a run and contribute to my Movember PAGE.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

The Little "c"

This post is not about the big "C", but the little "c". The last 15 months my running and triathlon campaign has seen more curves than Christina Hendricks, but curves are not the "c" I'm talking about.

I think this must be some kind of see how much resolve I really have. Today I go in for surgery for skin cancer. Shit. Those are some tough words to write. Before you panic, write me off, or hold a vigil, it's not what I consider the "big C," yet something I have to take care of. I like to think of it as the "little c."

In some form of sick joke or test to see just how much I can handle, I received the biopsy results less than 24 hours before I received the results of my MRI on my left foot which revealed a stress fracture and once again put my New York City marathon run dreams on hold. Dream?...more like a nightmare. This news was seven days before I was to have run my first New York. I know...I know...a race seems insignificant compared to ones health, but the timing of of it overwhelmed me to say the least. For the second time in fifteen months, I was dealing with issues of my mortality.

Back to the big vs. little "c" thing that has you confused at this point. I first discovered this whole thing when I had a blemish on my nose that didn't seem to heal normally. The area would dry up, start to "flake off," then it would seem to be an open wound again. The good news is that this hasn't gone on for long, and I knew something was not right. If you were to look at my nose in normal conversation, you wouldn't even notice it; yet there were a couple race photos and blog selfies this summer that showed a mark that just looked like a zit worked over too hard.

Within a few weeks of discovering this, I made the appointment with the dermatologist. He had to order a "punch" biopsy kit to extract the sample. It's kind of hard to explain, but I suppose it's like drilling a earth or ice core sample. Considering the area (right in the center of my space,) Dr. Stephen ordered the smallest punch kit available. This would only require one stitch for the biopsy itself not leaving a "trace" of the test itself. The small punch as it turned out did not matter as they're going in to remove a much larger area today...estimated to be the end of a pencil eraser.

The big C and the little c? The worst possible scenario is that it would turn out to be a melanoma. This can have a tumor below the surface and can spread to the lymph nodes and rest of the body. Just like any other cancer, catch it early, and your odds are much better. The other form of skin cancer is basal cell carcinoma. Sounds scary but it's more treatable than a melanoma. I have the later...the "little c." Hopefully, catching it as early as I did with the procedure (Mohs) I'm having done, my chances of full recovery and success are high.

I took awhile to let my kids, parents, and siblings know about this. I really freaked me out. How would I tell my kids I have cancer without freaking them out? How much was "below the surface" and would I be disfigured? Will they catch it all? All these thoughts have run through my head.

I debated writing about it as this is as personal as it gets. I was very private about it. There were many aspects I had to rationalize including when to do the procedure. The doctors said it wasn't "life threatening" yet they didn't want me to delay. I'd originally scheduled to go in the week of Thanksgiving; then a wait list opening became available for November 17th. "Let's get it over with," I thought.

Being the pragmatic one, I also figured, this would work with my work and work travel schedule the best. During the consult with the surgeon, I realized that the recovery is a bit more than I thought. He really doesn't want me doing anything for two weeks. The procedure itself does not take long, yet I will be there for five hours or more as they will run tests on the tissue extracted to make sure they "got it all." After the bad cells are removed, they will either stitch me up with a flap from skin in the surrounding area, or more likely a graft from inside my ear.

As I said, I took awhile to tell more of my immediate family. I didn't want my parents to worry more than they had to for longer than they had to. Two of my kids are approaching finals in college and I didn't want that to disrupt their lives. My youngest knew something was wrong as my face (no pun intended) couldn't hide my stress and pain.

So why would I write about it? I'd say the primary reasons are therapy and education. Therapy in that "holding things in" can only make matters worse. Writing about it helps. The other reason is to educate. when something like this happens, you wonder how it happened, and "how did I get it?" I'm a fair-skinned ginger, yet I did "tan" at times growing up. I remember when I just started skiing as a grade-schooler in Colorado and made the mistake of not putting on sunscreen in the mountains and severely burning to the point of blistering. Yes...when you're in the mountains on the reflective white snow, you WILL burn quicker than normal.

In college, I went on a few spring breaks and would lay out at the beach. While those were great times, the sun caught up with me. If that didn't do it, owning a tanning salon 15 years ago also probably did not help. On the education front, I have a daughter with the same (even whiter) complexion as me, and reinforced with her that she should lather herself with SPF50 the rest of her life. She will also be grateful as she ages as her skin will be much younger than those that chose to "tan" themselves.

As I've got older, I've got a bit smarter about sunscreen and always wear a hat when I run outdoors. Clearly, I will be taking even further steps when I get out of my walking boot and get back outdoors to always wear protection. I'm hoping that this will also help the readers of my blog to understand the dangers of the sun and to cover up. I may be "out of pocket" for a couple days, but will post an update hopefully soon. Thanks for listening, reading, and putting on sunscreen next time you go out for a run.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Three Things Thursday: Ambassadors and Hats

What does a run blogger write about when they can't run? Running still runs through my mind even though the Frankenstein boot on my left foot tells me I'm still a month away from considering jogging again, but good news did strike the offices of this week.

Hat's Off to SeekingBostonMarathon

The only thing runners can't have enough of more than shoes is hats. I can't think of the last time I ran outdoors in a race or training run without a hat. Why is Dr. Seuss running through my head? Red hats, green hats, wool caps, that's that. I have two favorite trucker's caps I'm wearing these days. One was a pay-it-forward cap from NEVER GIVE UP. The GSF (Gwedolyn Strong Foundation) is an organization to raise money and awareness to fight Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA.)

Less meaningful, but also providing motivation when I'm not running are the latest "trucker caps" for Yes...we started with stickers. The cheap paper kind, then upgraded the logo and went to the vinyl sticker. We now have trucker caps! Woohoo! I've always got one of the two on my head lately.

Tell me what you think? If you're gunning for Boston, I'll put an order together if you're seeking the unicorn. There may be a giveaway for one of these bad boys in the near future!

Runner's Roost Race Team

Woohoo number two! For the second year in a row, I've been selected to the Runner's Roost Race team as an ambassador on their triathlon team. I was worried about whether I'd make the team again as I was injured more than half the year and really didn't race that much.

Combined with my travel schedule, I was gone A LOT which limited my run club events and volunteer work. VERY excited to get healthy and have an injury-free 2016 representing the Runner's Roost stores.


When I'm not representing the Runner's Roost, I also received news that I'm a BibRavePro again in 2016 for BibRave. BibRave provides runners with reviews of run races and hosts one of the best run chats (every Tuesday night) on twitter. If you're unsure of a race, BibRave provides reviews from runners like you and me that covers everything from course difficulty, race management, swag, expo (if there is one,) and overall ranking.

You can catch my latest review on BibRave (HERE) from my last race this year at the Highlands Ranch Half Marathon.

BibRave has also signed up with Buff this year as a sponsor of all the bloggers and ambassadors. I CAN'T WAIT to run in the Buff this year! (Not to be confused with my other nude 5K bucket list item.)

Just because I'm not running, does not mean I'm not thinking about it pretty much all the time.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Delayed Dream

I can't seem to catch a break when it comes to bad breaks. If you follow my twitter, Instagram, and Facebook, you know by now that for the first time I will have to withdraw from a marathon due to injury. The foot pain that I was in partial denial over did not dissipate despite all the crazy "witch doctor" treatments I've tried over the last two weeks. All this over brushing my teeth (confused? Read my last POST) in Cairo. Blame it on Cairo, or more aptly, blame it on my stupidity or overdose of "alpha male" testosterone, I have a stress fracture in the 5th metatarsal of my left foot, and I have the sexy Frankenstein boot to prove it.

The results from Steadman Hawkins MRI came from Dr. Jeremy Saturday morning. Eight days before I was scheduled to race in the New York City Marathon for the first time. The Dr. instructed me to get into a boot right away and (obviously) warned against any running as this could lead to further complications that would require surgery.

While I should have bailed on the Boston Marathon this year, this is new territory for me (not entering a marathon I'd trained for;) including the decision; "do I still go to New York City" with all the travel plans set long ago. I took to a social media (unscientific) poll and asked my run peeps, (and my wife,) do we still go to New York City and try and make wine out of vinegar, or bail? I got a variety of great responses including;

"Buy your wife a designer purse with the exchanged tickets or money not spent in New York." (While my wife liked this one, I wasn't sure how it would help cope with my depression.

(My daughter,) "Party in NYC dad come on now!"

"Go man!!! You've earned it!!!"

"I'd cash in the ticket for a beach seat and let the sand and salt water heal those toes."

While a couple suggested staying at home or away from the race, the overwhelming response was, Go!  My wife and I went "back and forth" with the options, and while she's scared to deal with my emotions over not running while being around the race, we're going for it! I guess I am back to being in  New York State of Mind.

One of the reasons is that when I went to Boston this year, I knew I was in for a tough race (with an yet to be diagnosed torn hip labrum) and really didn't soak in the full marathon experience. That was the right choice in some respects as I spent high quality time with my high school graduating son, but avoided a lot of the typical meetups I would have done if healthy (and with the right demeanor.)

This injury does not take away all the hard work I've put in since May to rehabilitate my torn right hip labrum as part of my 2014-15 "Injury Tour." New York City and the stress fracture will hopefully be the last leg (pun intended) of that tour. For those old enough to remember, or young enough to Google, this tour rivals Evel Knievel's glory days on the motorcycle. My injuries include four broken ribs, collapsed lung, separated shoulder, torn shoulder labrum, torn hip labrum, and now foot stress fracture...all in fifteen months. Perhaps I need a break (pun not intended.)

When Dr. Jeremy called Saturday morning, he told me to come into their offices first thing Monday morning to discuss the results in greater detail and get a walking boot. I did not want my rehab "clock" to start on Monday, so we found a hospital supply place open on Saturday near my house and began the immobilization and healing process. As a result, I now only have 38 days in the boot versus staring at six weeks. The former seems like so much less time. The boot is fairly comfortable, but it makes my left leg a couple inches longer than my right. This has played funny games with my lower back and hips as I walk a bit contorted.

Anyway, enough of that sad, boring crap. With a long weekend in New York City, the encouraging and glass half full aspects of this weekend?

Packing was much easier as my run gear (and various weather options) remained at home. I did pack for the gym.

The advantage of packing in my situation is that I only need to pack 1/2 my shoes as I don't need any left ones. See...things are looking brighter already.

I've been in touch with a few of the blogger heavyweights and plan to join some meetups to cheer on my peeps and take in the revelry. Just no shake-out run this year.

Our hotel is world class! We're staying at the famous Essex House that sits right on Central Park. While half my life seems like it's in a hotel room at a Marriott Courtyard, I love an opulent hotel stay (as does wifie.)
View from the Essex House

The most important night of sleep before a marathon is two nights before (Friday) since you don't typically sleep on Saturday night mentally pouring over the race the following morning. Not a problem this year as I'll be partying with the New does happen to be Halloween on Saturday night. While you're sleeping, I'll be getting my party on.

And lastly, you tell me! If you've been to New York City or you haven't, but always wanted to go, you can live vicariously though me. Where should I go, and what should we do? I will do it and blog, and selfie my way through the weekend. I've been to "ground zero" before with my wife and daughter, but that was before the museum opened. So, that's a candidate event. Let me know what you'd do if you had three days in the city, and let me know if you're in New York City for the race, you can sign my boot and get a sticker.

And lastly, is it bad that I've layed in bed at night and wondered, if I could rent one of those one leg scooters and walk the marathon on my one good leg?

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Working on My Night Moves

A good friend of mine in the run world introduced me to a new product for run safety from I took them out on a test drive and have the video to prove it. One of the cooler products I've tested in awhile. My video blog post below discussing the product and showing my test run in Seattle. Thanks to Laura and the good folks at Night Runner 270 for the fun test drive!

Water Resistant with 30 Meter Illumination

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Foot Fault: NYC Marathon Update

Feels like deja vu all over again. It's now less than two weeks to redemption race number three at the New York City Marathon, and the "I" word which should be a four letter word (it's actually six) has reared it's ugly head again--this time in my foot.

On May 18th this year, I started a ferocious rehabilitation campaign to get my left hip in shape for the TCS NYC Marathon. This routine had 1-2 visits a week in either a physical therapist office, chiropractor, active-release therapy, massage, or New Orleans-style voodoo witch doctor. I did everything short of the later and made slow progress. I was in denial about the torn hip labrum pain that still persisted in my hip, but I kept to the in-home or gym rehab component which meant 20-30 minutes a day, six days a week of strength and stretching.
The Nile River from my hotel room

Then denial met the Nile and brushing my teeth threw a wrench in my plans. Confused? Follow me for a minute. I've dealt with a lot of travel in my marathon training over the years and the more challenging aspects of global travel. While it may sound glamorous, Moscow, Cairo and Dublin created my latest hurdle. I have experience with food and water issues in challenging cultures...Mexico, and India. Basic rule is don't drink the water, don't order drinks with ice cubes, and avoid fruit perhaps rinsed in water.

Cairo did me in. On the last leg of my trip, the nastiest bug possible quarantined me to a hotel in Dublin for two straight days where I dealt with a stomach bug, fever, and chills. The culprit? My hotel in Cairo overlooked what's known as the most polluted river in the world, and I remembered, I brushed my teeth with tap water. Oy vey.

The upside is I lost nearly six pounds and put me at my ideal race weight and lost a number of training sessions over ten days. I was able to overcome this as I was far enough out from the marathon, that a few missed days wasn't going to affect race day. Despite this logic, I replayed the month leading up to my 2015 Boston Marathon where (due to the torn hip labrum that wasn't diagnosed yet,) I "lost" nearly an entire month prior to the race and showed up without the appropriate conditioning.

At this point, you're saying, what the heck does brushing your teeth have to do with this "setback?" After regaining my strength, I resumed my training plan, but my system was still a bit toxic and acidic. This brought on "curveball" number three with the onset of gout in my left big toe. If you're not familiar with gout, it's known as the "rich man's disease." Too much in the way of rich food, steak, wine and the like. If you're never had gout, a serious case has pain so intense that dragging a bed sheet over your toe sends pain that ranks around a nine out of ten.
My bum wheel

Conventional wisdom would say, treat the toe and avoid running, and get back on schedule shortly. Again, with the Boston "layoff" messed with my mind and I proceeded to run an aggressive eight mile speed and tempo run. Stupid...just plain stupid. I couldn't walk without a limp, and cringed as I stuffed my swollen foot in my Adidas Ultra Boost shoes. The following day, the hip felt great, the gout toe still hurt, but the opposite side of my left foot felt worse.

The problem was I altered my run gait and basically ran on the side of my foot. The ensuing pain was around the area of the fifth metatarsal bone in my foot. I've gone through three different prescriptions to calm down the gout, but after the speed workout on Tuesday, I had my last long marathon simulated run of 20 miles that weekend. I tried to make it happen on Saturday, but the pain was too intense.. I tried again on Sunday. The foot felt better, but certainly wasn't pain free. Like many run injuries, they sometimes "loosen up" once I get into the run.

The long run was complete so I'd "checked that box," but once again the foot hurt again after the run. This was all three weeks out from Boston. I've hit the physical therapy on the foot hard using a combination of chiropractor treatment, dry needling, laser treatment and even cryogenic treatment.

Four days ago, one of my specialists "read me the riot act" on "why did you do that," and "do you realize that's the most common area for stress fractures?" Are you fricking kidding me? A stress fracture??? I've been down this curved path before and the only way to tell for sure is an MRI. Aside from all the above treatment I've gone through in the last couple weeks, I've used compression, ice, heat (more ice than heat,) and a stim tens unit at home. For the moment, I'm "grounded" with no running to try and calm down this foot. With less than two weeks to go, there's not much I can lose with my run conditioning so I have to be smart.

All this because, I brushed my teeth in Cairo.