Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Running for a Cause - My Own

Race for a Cure 5K
Saturday I woke up and went for a 6 mile run. I cut my 12-mile long run short so that I could run a 5K Race for a Cure on Sunday. It was nice to just run without training; 2 miles of it was on the 5K course.

I got back home about 9 and took a shower, because, well, if I don't, it's not pretty.

When I came downstairs a friend of the family was there. She brought coffee and muffins to celebrate packing day #5. Moving sucks! After 3 moves in 10 years, we have stuff that we don't even know where it came from. I think the IRS has targeted us, putting stuff in the house when we are not looking.

After a couple of hours of work, I went and donated a car full of fat clothes at the Salvation Army. Size XXXL and XXL shirts, 36" through 42" waist-ed pants and belts.

It felt good, really good!

In my bedroom I was packing some boxes and my chest felt tight. I thought my heart was racing but my pulse was only 62, which is not an unusual pulse rate at all. Once you've had a heart trauma, you don't play around. I went to my office and took my blood pressure, and it was 170/106. For just sitting around the house, it was not a good sign.

I drove to the ER which is so close, I easily beat 911.

They took me in and hooked me up to the EKG. It's one of those times when men wish they didn't have chest hair. Actually, except for photos, there is no time we wish we had it. EKG = normal. Hmm... that's reassuring. I remember one time when the EKG put everyone into a frenzy. It was like chimpanzees having a poop fight.

Now that they thought I would live, it was time to check in. The folks working there kept spelling my last name wrong and had no medical records. Finally, they got it right. The triage nurse turned to me and said, "So what do you do for fun when you're not having surgery?"

"That's me," I said.

I got my own bay and johnny and then I underwent blood tests, x-rays and was hooked up to a heart monitor. My blood pressure was still high, 150/96. They gave me aspirin after which I spoke to 2 doctors and 2 cardiologists. The doctors had lots of questions for me: What have you eaten? What is your pain level? Your pulse seems a little low at 52 bpm, do you run? I got a little excited about that question. When I was fat my resting pulse rate was 72. What's going on in your life? We are moving. The room was silent.

Do you think that might be a reason that you have elevated blood pressure? I thought about it - well duh, yes, or course. All I know is my normal is 126/82. I guess I need to take it easy?

Well, your heart seems normal. It's not A-fib (huge relief!), and your enzymes (the ones that show heart damage) are normal. Let's keep you overnight for observation.

Overnight, can I have a different doctor!?!

I spoke to the second cardiologist at length. We talked about my recovery from nearly dead to running a 125 miles per month. We talked about diet, training, weight loss, rest days and faith.

"Even though you are a poster child for turning it around, I am concerned about letting you go home to the chaos of moving." he said.

"I just want to be with my wife tonight," I replied.

"Is that good for you?" he asked.

"She's the best thing that ever happened to me." I said with a smile.

"You are going to take it easy and relax as much as possible?"

"Yes sir, I will."

"As long as your enzymes come back 'normal,' you can go home today."

"Thank you, doctor. And one more thing, can I run tomorrow?"

"I don't see why you can't run 2 or 3 miles - but easy. You'll stop immediately if you have any pain, right?"

I went home and had dinner with my wife and went to bed early.

When I woke up on Sunday, I had a cup of coffee and took my blood pressure. 128/84. Caffeine is good. :) I got dressed for my 5K race and pulled on my Cancer Sucks/ICU 2 26.2 T-shirt. I drank some water, ate a mini bagel, put on sun screen, said a prayer for my health, and kissed my family goodbye.

This is my favorite race of the year. I run it in memory of my mother who died in 2001 from pancreatic cancer. (READ MORE HERE) After I picked up my number and T-shirt, jogged a mile or so to warm up, I stood at the starting line checking my messages with the names of your loved ones. There were so many, and truthfully, it made me cry. Sorry, not very macho.

Then I ran for them. I ran as fast as I could go. And when my body said "give up," I thought to myself, my mother didn't stop having pain for months, I can run 10 more minutes. I passed the dog, the lady with the double stroller, and a guy who said he had run the Boston Marathon the day of the bombing. 7:55 for my first mile, 16:05 at mile two and I was hurting. I pressed on up the hill and onto the flat.

The Boston guy and I were neck and neck and I turned it on for the last 400 yards.

Although it wasn't a PR, it was still under 26 minutes. It was 4:04 faster than last year, and my second fastest 5K ever. I think I was slower simply because I was carrying a bigger load.

I love you and I miss you, mom.

Thanks for all your support and for your comments; it makes the journey a little lighter.


  1. This made me cry. I don't know your story, I just found your link on the Running Blogger's Facebook page, and this made me cry. Thank you for sharing this and thank you for running for all of those who cannot!

    1. Thanks for reading, Rachel. This was a tough one to write. I run all my races thinking about the people that are part of the different causes I support. As a Bostonian, there are lots of reasons to run.

      My own story is here: http://www.marathonproject.com/Bio.asp

  2. Good read. I should get back into blogging or jogging or both.