Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Yesterday, I only worked a half day (moonlighting in Urgent Care). The Girl worked the second half of our shared shift. It was very busy, although no really sick people. There were some pretty thought-provoking people, including a drug-seeker whose two-week prescription of narcotics ran out on Memorial Day. Honestly, he probably should have had exactly enough pills to last until the next day but I don't think he was being dishonest per se. He basically called his doctor (with whom he has a very strict agreement about his pills) and realized that he wasn't in on Memorial day.

So what was I supposed to do? Call him a fool for miscalculating one pill? Let him withdraw for 12 hours until he could get in touch with his normal doctor? I gave him a script for two pills to tide him over but didn't feel right about it. If the regular Urgent Care/ER docs had heard about it, they would have felt I was encouraging drug-seeking behavior.

I'm actually getting some good training runs in these days. Yesterday, after getting relieved by the Girl in Urgent Care, I biked with the Lorax to the track. I warmed up and did one mile in 5:42 before the Lorax started crying. At that point, there were some high school kids gathering for what would probably be practice a while later. I got the Lorax to shut up for a little while and did a few more intervals (400,800,800 dictated by the Lorax's crying). By then, the high school coach was there and I felt like I had to leave.

Biked back to our apartment, where there is a nice park. I ran 4x1000(-ish) around the perimeter of the park. Now, the Lorax was sleeping peacefully in the middle of the park (in clear sight from every point on the loop).

Today, I started my anesthesia rotation. It's a little weird rotating in something I know so little about. I feel like a medical student, completely out of my element in the OR. It was fun, though, and the best part was that I got done at 11am. Walked home, where the Girl was eating oatmeal (as always). Suddenly we had the afternoon off together (she works tonight) and decided to run on the bike trails, which we did for 2.5 hours. I ended up running 15 miles.

I'm still uncertain as to what I am training for. The legs have come back nicely from a hard spring full of races. As it is, I am going for the 50K on July 5th during our honeymoon (Angel Island). If I feel as good as I do now, I will go for broke in that race and see if, after all, I have some ultra ilk in me.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Done with the treadmill

I think I am done with the treadmill for the season. I went to the Y last night to run. The Girl was working so I took advantage of the Y watch. Ran 7 miles on the treadmill, including a 5K in 17:12.

The legs felt good and there is certainly something very fascinating about being able to see your exact time right in front of you the whole time. The treadmills are really nice and have a "visual lap counter" built in so I always know where on the lap I am. I have found that with the belt having to wind up, I usually run the first mile in a little less than 6 minutes (I think 5:55 last night). The next two I run in 5:20 to 5:30, depending on the legs. The last lap (or, at least, the last half lap) I run at the max speed, which is a 4:48 mile.

Most days, I feel like a badass for running so fast. If some big teddy bear can grunt and scream when he lifts x amount of pounds, I think I can run myself into oblivion, bend over and almost throw up (next to and old lady reading Better Homes and Gardens on her treadmill). I usually think doing that is fun but last night, the gym was almost empty and I got some pretty strange looks.

Anyway, I don't know how much 5K tempos really help. They certainly give me confidence in that I could crank out a low-16s 5K in competition. But, honestly, I need real speed and real distance, both of which are hard to do with the Lorax in tow.

Tomorrow, the Girl and I have a long outing planned. Maybe close to 20 miles with some tempos built in. We bring him along in the baby jogger and will take turns running on some trails. We'll probably stop by the track as well.

Changing the topic slightly, I just got off the phone with my parents in Europe who asked about the price of gas here. It seems like we may hit 4 dollars a gallon soon; isn't that nuts? I will come out and say that I love the high price of gas. I have always felt that a huge gas tax would do nothing but good for America. This way, the money goes to a bunch of dictatorships around the world, so obviously a tax would have been better.

But, man, I see signs of change every day. People riding their bikes more. I saw something that looked like a Smart car the other day (although probably not an actual Smart car). I hear patients talk about car pooling all the time. People are talking about living downtown.

There was a show on NPR a couple of weeks ago, which I found fascinating. A guy who was a supposed expert in oil supplies, had written a book about the post-oil world. Someone from Madison called in; sounded like a cool, left-wing hippioid guy. He talked about people driving Priuses instead of SUVs; basically, conventional arguments against big, inefficient cars.

But instead of congratulating the hippie on his envronmental wheels, the expert guy went on to almost scream "I have had it with all this talk of hybrids and ethanol. Listen, in three years people won't be driving cars anymore! We should be talking about bicycles and trains!" Fascinating stuff. It does make you wonder about how the world will change in the next decades.

I hope gas keeps going higher. We try to ride our bikes as much as we can, doing a lot of shopping and errands on the bikes. We have two bike trailers for that same purpose. As it is, our town is not made for bikes. At intersections, there are weight sensors, meaning we have to wait for a car to set the sensors off or run a red light.

By and large, the drivers here are nice. At 4-way stop signs, people will vawe you through. Cars seem to give me lots of space. But still, it only takes one fool to kill a cyclist. I came close to one such person last week, going through an intersection pretty close to the hospital. I was going straight and a car took a left turn straight into my path. I barely had time to brake; didn't hit the car or vice versa. The driver kept going.

Now, I don't know what the right thing to do is in those situations but I tend to get a lot of joy out of catching up to the drivers. They tend to feel really bad about it and I get to vent a little. This time, I sprinted after the car up to the next intersection. I realized I was chasing a Prius. See, that's a little atypical, not that all Prius drivers are saints. Still, the rule seems to be that most such cars are Buicks or minivans and the like (most dangerous drivers tend to be old or distracted moms, I guess).

Got up to the driver, who turned out to be a middle-aged woman. I think I have seen her at the hospital; maybe she is a nurse. I knocked on her window and she rolled it down. "I'm the guy you almost ran over back there!", I said. Her answer? "Oh, I thought you were turning". So she had obviously seen me but was aaprently, what, 80% sure I was going to turn before turning right in front of me. I didn't know what to say; I was pretty mad but couldn't come up with a good answer.

I'm rambling a little today.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

The wheels are back on

So I have felt sluggish ever since the 50K. Last week, we did a lot of running and the legs felt decent.

Today, it was time for a test. I had the morning off (my one patient cancelled; you gotta love rheumatology). Biked to the Y to run on the treadmill. The weather outside was really nice but I felt like doing a completely reproducible distance. I have run maybe 10 5K tempos on the treadmill over the winter with a PR of 17:04.

Today, I ran a 17:07. I think the wheels are back on. I didn't feel as good as when I ran the 17:04 effortlessly last month but this time I was coming off a hard week and had just eaten a big breakfast. The legs hurt a little in places but overall things were good.

I'm almost done with residency. What a strange feeling Last year at this time, I felt like I knew everything there was to know about medicine; now it scares me to think about practicing on my own.

I saw a patient in clinic my first year who went on to have a horrible clinical course. We missed a diagnosis of something pretty serious but it was, honestly, mostly the radiologist's fault. There was a meeting about this patient today, where I played a minor role as the intern who had dictated the first famous note.

The problem was that my note screamed "horrible disease X", while we treated a presumed, and much less serious disease Y. The guy spent two months in the hospital and had 10 surgeries for this problem! He was correctly diagnosed two days after we had seen him so it probably wouldn't have made a huge difference what we did. But still. It turns out the hospital settled out of court for an undisclosed amount.

I have three three patient complaints (that I know of). Two were completely unfounded but one probably had some legitimacy (I may have missed that a patient had an allergy to a medication, although, thankfully, the allergy wasn't listed in her chart. She may have told me during our visit but that's the part I can't remember.

It really is hard to be someone's doctor. I don't know if I am ready for that amount of trust to be put in be. Oh well.

May Running Log

May 1 - 6 miles
May 4 - 15 miles. Won a half marathon. Barely.
May 7 - 6 miles
May 9 - 6 miles
May 11 - 18 miles. Won a 50K with the Girl
May 14 - 8 miles with the Girl in the arm pit of running, ie Merrillville, IN
May 15 - 10 miles with the Girl in DC. Got a little lost but ran down 16th street
May 16 - 15 miles with the Girl in DC - saw all the big monuments while running. Cool
May 18 - 10 miles with the Girl in South Bend, IN
May 20 - 6 miles on the treadmill. One 5K tempo in 17:07
May 23 - 7 miles on the treadmill. One 5K tempo in 17:12
May 24 - 7 miles slow
May 25 - Biked 2.5 hours with the Girl (Lorax in bike trailer)
May 26 - 10 miles. Speed work (a little messed up because the Lorax was crying). 1600,400,800x2,1000x4
May 27 - 14 miles with the Girl on the bike trail
May 28 - one hour on the bike
May 29 - 11 miles broken up as two runs. Felt really good during the evening run, probably the best since the 50K
May 30 - Biked the triathlon course (24 miles) and ran 10K (the Girl's distance on Sunday). Left calf hurt towards the end.
May 31 - Ran for 2:10 in the woods. Probably ran 17 miles or so.

Total: 162 miles in 17 efforts.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Running in Washington DC

We got back from DC yesterday. Quite a trip, packed into an insufficient amount of days.

We decided to drive there; that was a mistake. I hate airplanes; the waiting, the cancellations, lost bags, rude airline employees. I figured that all the driving to the airport, waiting, flying, more waiting etc would take almost as long as driving. Well, let me tell you, driving took a long time.

Washington DC is a much cooler place than I had expected. It felt like an old European capital. There is a bus and metro system. The downtown is very walkable. No highways pierce the old downtown. There are statues and monuments everywhere. Somehow I had expected a more spread out, sterile city.

We stayed in a bed and breakfast a few miles from downtown. That was definitely a good idea, although we almost got kicked out. We were out running on our first morning when the girl's cell phone rang. It was our host, who told us kids were not allowed at her establishment. Apparently, someone had complained about us. We didn't know what to do; she said she would have to think about whether we had to move to another room or maybe get out of the house completely. It turned out we were okay, but we had to promise to keep the Lorax completely quiet.

But, yes, we were out running. The first morning, we ran towards the big park in DC, Rock Creek Park. We didn't quite find our way down to a paved path that followed the river in the bottom of the gorge. We saw the path from several bridges but couldn't get down to it. We ended up running on 16th street, pretty far into downtown Washington. Lots of cool sights and neighborhoods.

Then we went to the big convention center. We had wanted to get some learning in but, with the Lorax, it was hard to attend lectures. I was on a jeopardy team competing against other states. We lost in the first round to California so my official business in Washington DC lasted less than 15 minutes.
We went to the White House

The Lorax grabbed some food at the Mall

Self-timed picture of us on the Mall

The next day we drove a little bit to find that fabled running trail we had seen from so many bridges. It runs along the Rock Creek, which eventually empties into the Potomac. It goes from something that resembles wilderness to the US capital. Pretty cool.

The Lorax won't remember any of this, of course.

This bathroom line felt slower than before a race.

Seeing all the monuments, it was hard not to see the irony. The FDR monument, especially, was full of quotes about freedom and tolerance. All those quotes seemed to come from a time before 9/11.

We ran for 3.5 hours that day, the last of which I ran fast. My legs were dead after that, while the Girl got up the next morning at 7 to run two hours before our Odyssey home.

The Lorax was a good baby on this trip.

We stayed in South Bend, Indiana, on the way back. Ran along the river on a nice trail there and through the Notre Dame campus. They had graduation weekend; it was fun to see all the festivities.

Monday, May 12, 2008

50 K relay race report

This weekend, we travelled to a beautiful area of our state to run a 50K relay. This was part of a 50K ultra-marathon.

The Girl's parents live 45 minutes away from the start so we had to get up mighty early for the race (6am!). We woke up Daughter, who was along for moral support, and ate a quick breakfast before departing for the race. The Bois was quickly transferred to his car seat without incident.

We got to the race 20 minutes before the start. There were tons of people there; all cool endurance-types, sporting their overpriced fitness clothes and arriving in their Volvos and Subarus. People started lining up for the start and the RD talked a little about the rules of the race. The Girl ran our first leg, a 13 mile out-and-back jaunt up and down hills. I suppose the field had around 200 runners but most of them were doing the solo distance.

The Girl lined up pretty close to the front. In our 50K last month, she got caught in the back of the pack for a long time. Off they went; they came back around the start area a few minutes later. Everyone was still in a big pack with the Girl close to the front.

Then the fun started. I got the kids into the car (after a quick game of badminton with Daughter to get the blood flowing) and drove off to the 3-mile AS. There, we saw the front people and then the Girl in maybe 10th spot and 5th woman. I thought she may be going too fast, being that far up in the field and told her to take it easy.

At the next AS, at 5 miles, she had been passed by a few people but looked spritely and fresh. She threw off her shirt, which was caught midair by Daughter (she sure felt as a part of the team). At the turn-around, the Girl looked like she was gettign sick of taking it easy. She yelled at me (and the AS people) "where is the turn-around?". I told her it was right there but that she should drink a little. Well, she drank a little and bolted off.

On the way back, we saw her once. She was going faster and had passed a few people. At this time, the Bois woke up. I tried giving him some milk but he wasn't taking it. He screamed and screamed until we took some of his clothes off. I think he had been sweating and wanted some attention. We carried him around and he regarded the beautiful day with his little blue eyes. When the Girl passed, it became clear to people that this little baby belonged to one of the front-runners. This gave the Girl a lot of kudos out there.

Then I had to get ready at the hand-off area. There was no chance for a warm-up, what with two kids in tow. We took some picutes and stood there a little. The leader came through, looking strong. Then the first woman came through; she was a solo runner, thankfully. The second woman, however, a very fit-looking tall woman was in the relay. She came in, looking for her husband, who stood there with their son. She told him to get off his ass and start running, which he did.

The third woman, who had been leading at every AS I had seen, had gotten off the trail a little ways back. Now, she came sprinting in, looking very fit, and handed off the chip to her husband. Then a male-male pair came in.

When the Girl came through, she was probably 12th overall and 4th woman. I suppose she was around 8 minutes behind the first mix team and 4 minutes behind the second mix team. She came in, looking strong. We were exchanging the chip (which served as the baton) and I was telling her stuff like "I just changed the Bois. He won't take the bottle, maybe it's cold. The car key is in the car seat over there. We have laid the blanket down over there, too." The Girl was all fired up and yelled at me to get my ass in gear and start running. It was a recurring theme that the first-leggers, who had been battling hills for two hours were did not accept any lollygagging.

Off I went. There were no iPods allowed in this race so I was all by myself in a beautiful forest. The legs felt good, actually, which is rare for me in this spring of too many racing miles. My leg was 18 miles so I started out at what felt like a 6-minute mile pace. However, after just a few miles, the hills started getting really steep. I even walked a few of them; they were so steep it felt weird to run up them. I passed the male-male team after a mile or two and passed a solo-runner or two after that.

Then, after 5 miles, I caught a couple of runners, including one of the relayers. This was the husband of the woman who had gotten lost. She had looked like the fittest person of the day and the pair had seemed like the, potentially, fastest pair from looking at them.

After that, I ran a mile or so by myself. As I came up to the next AS, I saw the guy who was leading the relay race heading out. I took a quick drink and caught up to him. I would usually shout out "good job" or something like that when passing people, but when I did that with him, he jumped up like I had scared the living daylights out of him. I apologized and went my way; I guess we both thought it was pretty funny.

I ran through the finish area and waved at the Girl and Daughter. I asked one of the volunteers how many people were ahead of me. They told me two runners, around 5 minutes up. This served as good motivation. The second lap was fun because now the slower 50K'ers were coming into their first lap. I got to feel like I had wings (which was completely unfair because at that point, I had run 10 miles and they had run over almost 15). I shouted out things like "looking strong. Keep it up" or "there is a good group working together just 60 seconds behind you" etc. It was fun.

When I caught the leader, he got really freaked out. I told him I was in the relay so he needn't worry. I told him the second-placed solo runner was several minutes back. Still, I felt like he had been hoping to beat the relay teams, too.

Instead, I got to come in first and get the big applause. That really wasn't fair, but I did get that "first-guy-in-the-corral" glory. The Girl was stoked to have won a race and Daughter was clapping and cheering.

What a fun race and a great atmosphere. We talked to the other top relay teams that all seemed to resemble us quite a bit. They were all fit couples who wanted to race as a team. The second-placed team talked about how they could do this and bring their son along. The woman who had gotten lost talked about their racing plans this summer.

It sure makes you wonder why there aren't more races like that. They seem like the perfect addition to an ultra. Sure, the top relay runners seemed a little more "type A" than your typical ultra-marathoner and maybe the RDs try to avoid that in some races. Still, it was such a fun race and I wish there would be more like it. Honestly, if every race had a relay division, I don't think I would ever do the solo, be it a 5K or a 50K.

So that was our spring campaign. Two wins, one snowed-in ass-whooping. Not bad at all, actually. Now, it's back to training, working on speed and long runs. We have a triathlon in a few weeks, which will be a fun experience. Then there is a 50K in July, which I don't know about. The Girl will definitely run it competitively but I may just start out slow and see what happens.

Life is good.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

What's the deal with my legs?

I don't know what's going on. I don't feel the wheels are turning during training runs. I have strangely sore muscles, certainly outside the norm for my usual post-half marathon recovery. Did get a run in today, probably about 6 miles. Both quads were sore as was my left calf. I just feel so stiff and awkward. Could it really still be that damn 50K? With the deep snow, it probably worked me over more like a 60 or 70K, I guess. Certainly the time would fit better with those distances.

I am torn about what to do next. The long races appeal to me in terms of the experience of going off to these awesome memorable challenges. But I probably won't be able to find the time to train properly for such long races. Plus, long slow training runs simply don't appeal to me. The only way I can run long and slow is with the Girl. Alone, I can't run for more than two and a half hours.

Saturday, I won a half marathon with 350 runners. Three weeks ago I finished outside the top 10 out of 125 runners in a 50K. Shouldn't that tell me something? I could have run that 50K in 10 different ways and I still don't think I could have prevented such an impressive bonk. At about 8-minute miles, I don't think I get anything out of slowing further down. I could jog 10-minute miles for 20 miles and still crash. I like to run intervals or, lately, fartleks. I look forward to speed work but I'm not doing enough of it. I don't know what to do. Part of me wants to forget about training for anything longer than a half marathon. I could go back to doing 800m intervals on the track and get some speed back.

This summer, we have another 50K planned as part of our honeymoon (Angel Island 50K in San Francisco). I could run that as a fun race, hopefully watching the Girl kick some ultra ass.

I remember a particular race from my track days. There was a little bit of a money prize on the line. This one guy, who was likely a faster runner than me, tried to drop me for the entire 5K the race lasted. But I hung on and around the last turn, I turned on the afterburners. I won by a few yards; I miss the feeling of being that fast.