possible labral tear — my experience with an mri with constrast, oh my!

cough, cough, turn head. nope, no hernia. at least regular hernia was ruled out. sports hernia is much more difficult to rule out so says my gp.

last week i went to an orthopaedist because of chronic pain in my abdominal area.  i could not run without extreme pain and discomfort. step by step it felt like my insides were being ripped out but strangely enough only when i run. i thought sports hernia he thinks labral tear with hip impingement thats gotten worse through the years.

after a quick eval and x-rays he determined i had a impingement of the hip. big deal i thought as i was told that a couple of years ago. i went through lots of pt and supposedly was healed. advance to present day and i was informed a could potentially have a labral tear. unfortunately you cannot tell from a standard x-ray. i was told i would need an MRI with contrast to be able to say for sure.

i knew that an mri with constrast wasnt a pleasant experience as his assistant grimised when he told me about the procedure. unfortunately theres a thing called “google” that lets you find out all kinds of cool shit. probably my biggest reason for having anxiety. i love to analyze everything, so away i went…

my first piece of advice is dont believe everything you read. heck dont believe what im about to tell you because i honestly believe everyones experience is different. i read everything from the worst pain in your life receiving the injection to nothing to it. the main theme that seems the same as the anxiety involved is typically worse then the experience. or maybe its the doc thats doing the procedure that truely makes or breaks your own experience.

i arrived at my appointment about 30 minutes early. i was extremely nervous but only about the shot (yes ive read all the horror story blog posts). i was asked to fill out 7 pages of paperwork asking about all kinds of medical conditions. i was pretty sure i developed a few new conditions just sitting there waiting. i do have high bp, but for some odd reason didnt feel like it was elevated (win one for losartan). there was an interesting guy sitting across from me essentially talking to himself as he filled out his paperwork. im pretty sure he should of been in a psych ward not a mri imaging center as he responded to himself several times. i digress.

after about 30 minutes past my original appointment time i was called in. the lady who escorted me back to changing area one was extremely nice. she reminded me of my nunna. she said she would be assisting through the worst part of the process — the prep for the injection into my hip.

i quickly changed into a blue pair of hospital pants (damn these things were huge), locked my valuables inside a locker and headed down the hall to the next waiting area. queue the star wars imperial march as i was escorted into a room with a c shaped device, a table to lay on and a tray full of stuff i couldnt see because they were covered up (hmm, i wonder what that could be.. :-) ).

the lady explained that as well as a combo of iodine and some long ass drug that starts with a g, i would also be getting marcaine injected into my hip. my doc wanted to do some research of his own and see if it provided relief while i run. apparently it was a low dose as i was told this numerous times. kinda wondered the side effects but figured would give me something to do later on.

i hoped up on the table, had a blanket thrown over me and then was asked to drop my pants down to me knees (covered of course). the doc came in about 5 minutes afterwards and explained the procedure. there was two big monitors attached to the floroscope (real time xray machine) that essentially showed where to guide the needle. it only ran part of the time when they stepped on what looked like a sewing machine pedal on the floor. i was told i would have that i would have a local anastetic round of shots that would go deeper and deeper. this was after i was lubed up with nasty betadine. oh and they tape your feet together so your hips are in thr right position not because they are afraid youll jump from the shot (yet another tall tale from some of the blogs on this subject).

the first shot didnt feel any worse then a quick pinch. the second shot felt like when i went through a dry needling of my it band and electricity feels like it shots up and down your leg. felt a little sting but nothing horrible. there was no waiting for the final injections and then the insertion of the marcaine and eventual dye. the only thing i felt was when they injected the dye. there was a warm sensation in my nether region followed by a fullness in my left hip. other than that ive been through routine fillings at the dentist that are FAR WORSE. in fact a root canal (to me) was a hundred times worse.

after the dye was injected, i was given my flip flops and escorted into another waiting area till the mri tech was ready. 10 minutes later he comes out and gets me. wisked off to another room with an even larger machine. im told its a 3T so itll be a quick scan — 30 min. the 1.5T is much slower.

im not afraid of confinded spaces so i wasnt really worried about anything except the boredom associated with having to wait 30 minutes for it to be over. i hopped up on the table, had some strange device attached to my waist that supposedly takes the pictures, given a pair of headphones (think watercolors jazz) and was put into the tube. the lab tech could talk to me and i to him. basically all he said was TEST 1: 2 minutes 20 sec, etc. was nice except when youre laying there with no watch it doesnt really mean shit unless you count the time yourself.

oh! i forgot, my head partially stuck out of the machine, so theres that. the only thing that bothered me other than the music was how freaking warm it got inside the machine. im a sweater. i can walk outside to the mailbox and look like ive jumped into a pool. i was starting to worry i would short out the machine with the amount of sweat my midsection was generating. oh well, i was burning calories going for a test. makes up for not running the past couple days…

30 minutes goes by and viola im done. follow out the lab tech, was given a dvd to take to my ortho (and of course for me to do my own analysis on), then taken back to the changing area. they had a nice spread of snacks and drinks on the way out. i figured as much as they were billing my insurance i might as well partake in a bottle of spring water.

and that was MY experience with a mri with constrast on my hip. i truely believe people have bad experiences a) because the doc doing the shots sucks and b) you work yourself up to the experience being worse than it turns out being so the adrenaline is overwelming itself.

i go for my follow up with my ortho tomorrow. ill post details on that tomorrow. hopefully i can continue to write more often. ive had a lot of positive feedback on this hobby of mine i like to call a blog. i always have big ideas but with two small kids not enough time to execute.


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its been way too long… (part 1)

i have been wanting to get back to my blog after almost a year off from last updating. seems like now is as great a time as any. this is a run focused blog that i would definitely like to keep better updated. funny how two kids and a demanding job take up so much time. seems like the days fly by with little variation from day-to-day. i gather most peoples days are like this too, so you know what im talking about, especially if you have kids.

why now, you might be thinking? well, i didnt do a whole lot of running until the later half of 2012. in fact, ive been fighting with losing 50+ lbs after having gained a ton of weight from the year before. my cross to bare has always been my weight. stop exercising and i gain weight. start exercising and i lose it. except this time was much more difficult as my weight gain wasnt from simply eating. to really put things in perspective, i have to go back to dec 2010.

in late 2010 my wife and i decided we wanted to sell our house and move to new york. her family lives in allentown, much of my extended family is in harrisburg/hazleton, and i have a good friend that lives in mount vernon, ny. we thought it would be cool to move up north so we could experience all the things weve heard the northeast had to offer — cold weather, snow, skiing, etc. plus neither one of us had been above ny before so how cool would it be to goto boston to see the celtics play and maine for lobster! plus the schools alone would be worth the move.

things just happened to go our way and after having our house on the market for what seemed an eternity, a new realtor helped us sell our townhouse. not knowing how long it would take me to find a job, we moved into an apartment. the interesting thing was that we werent out of the house a week and i was able to find a great job right by grand central station in the city — a 30 minute train ride from the pelham/new rochelle area we thought we wanted to look at buying a house.

the wheels were in motion. we sold our 2 wheel drive cars and purchased all wheel drive cars in preparation for what we hoped would be snowy winters, something rarely seen in atlanta. literally the night before we left my car came in which we would be driving the next day.

after a long 17 hour drive and the worst screaming you have ever heard a one year old scream we arrived at our hotel in new roc city. snow blanketed the ground. the next morning we would start our house hunting. ill fast forward through looking for the house, negotiations, and eventual signing of paperwork.

needless to say, purchasing a home in ny was not like purchasing a home in georgia. unbeknown to us, earnest money is essentially your down payment and asked for at the time the contract is signed. while we didnt find that many issues with the house we did find a underground heating tank that we asked be removed before we took possession of the house. seemed reasonable right?

and so the nightmare begins… and eventually the reason why i took a year off running in 2011.

stay tuned for part 2

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it’s been a VERY long year…

hello out there in the ether!  it’s me, mike, the person that hasn’t been around in a little over a year.  and what a year this has been.

i won’t bore you with the details, as i’m not sure how many people have waited around with baited breathe for this post, but let’s just say that i’m glad that 2011 is almost over.

after a failed attempt to relocate to NY with my family, a car accident, and extremely horrible panic attacks/anxiety, i’m finally starting to get back to the one thing i have missed for most of this year and that is running.

i have run no races this year and unfortunately have none scheduled until january of 2012.  this is the longest period of time i’ve gone without racing.  heck, i went from december 16th of 2010 to around october 2011 maybe having run 5 times.

looking back i have realized that running is a HUGE outlet for stress relief.  i truely believe that had i not stopped running, the issues that i have had with anxiety and panic attacks probably would not of happened.  this led to being put on medication for anxiety which in turn caused a substantial weight gain (40 lbs).  this topic will be later addressed in another blog post.  right now, i just wanted to say, im back.

as we start the holiday season and approach the new year, remember to RUN HARD, stay positive and enjoy this special time of year with the ones you love.


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the cramping of the 16

what i learned yesterday is that i still have no clue after 8 half marathons and 4 marathons how to regulate my electrolytes.  days like this are humbling because as a runner it helps to let us know were we are with our training.

the weather was supposed to get rather warm, 87, so i wanted to get running before the temps went up too high.  i wouldn’t consider a 8:30 am run that early anyways, but i was up late friday night and went to bed late saturday night after having watched the uga football game so i wanted to get a little extra rest.

my goal for the 16 miles was to run at a pace of between 8-8:30/mile for the entire 16 miles.  i started out a tad on the slow side as i pretty much rolled out of bed, changed and was on my way. my first mile was 8:25.  i rattled through the next 9 miles at a 8:15 pace.  not too fast, not too slow based on my training goal.  pretty much right where i wanted to be.

i’m not sure what it is about mile 10, but i definitely have an issue with it.  mile 10 at disney, during my first marathon, is where i started having full blown painful ITB issues and mile 10 is where i started cramping in chicago in 2008. today wasn’t ITB, but i could feel my right calf starting to feel like it was going to cramp up.

i was running a 2 mile loop around my nonna’s neighborhood so immediately when i got back in front of her house where i had left my water bottle, gatorade and some snacks (so i didn’t have to carry in a fuel belt).  i immediately looked for salt packets i had brought with.  i decided to only take one pack.  i washed it down with some water and continued on my way.

by mile 14 i was starting to slow way down as i started to feel off.  i’ve had that happen before and usually it’s an electrolyte issue or lack of carbs.  mile 14 i ran in 8:26, mile 15 in 8:35, and mile 16 8:25.

i had my wife run over to the gas station and get me a coke and some ice as i knew i needed some sugar and wanted to take an ice bath, which i typically do for anything longer than 1/2 marathon distance.  i went in the house, grabbed a banana, and waited for her to return.

at this point, i didn’t really think much of the cramping as it was pretty much non-existent.  i decided to go ahead and fill up the tub with cold water and jumped in.  nicole returned with the coke and the ice.  i started drinking the coke while she sadistically poured the ice into the water.

i could see my right thigh start twitching like you wouldn’t believe.  it even felt a little tender.  i had never cramped up in an ice bath before, so i didn’t really think anything of it.  i continued to talk to nicole while i sat in my running clothes in the cold water.  usually i drink hot chocolate, but i didnt have any today.

we were supposed to meet my parents for lunch so after 15 minutes, i decided it was time to get out of the tub and rinse off in the shower.  i was surprised i didnt have caked up salt which typically happens if i take a salt packet, but didnt really think much of that either.

as i started to get out of the tub both of my legs decided, almost at the same time, they’d had enough.  both of them went stiff as boards.  i couldn’t move and fell back down into the 1/2 of water that was left.  i’ve NEVER EVER had cramps like i had at that moment.  from just below the groin all the way to my toes my legs were stiff as boards and cramping so bad i had wanted to cry.

i digress.  this was probably the WORST place for this to of happened.  my nonna is 89 years old and thinks i’m nuts for having run 1 marathon and tells me all the time that family is more important than running and i shouldn’t be doing it (read below for my chicago story and you’ll understand why).

back to the cramping…  i immediately started crying out for help.  i ate 4 bananas (if i dont eat one this week, it wouldn’t hurt my feelings), took down some salt water and changed the water over to warm water.  nonna brought in 2 wash clothes that were also soaked in hot water and put those on my thighs.  i started to try to message my legs to get the cramping to subside but all i could think of was the football players that end up on the side line with an IV in their arm because they’ve cramped so bad they were in tears too.

after 10 minutes the cramping subsided.  there was no way i was going to even attempt to stand up at this point.  i decided that sitting in the hot water with no cramps was better than trying to stand up and cramping up again.

i over analyze everything.  i’m a database architect, i get paid to analyze.  i immediately started to think about where i went wrong with the run.  was it that i ate NOTHING before i went out to run except 1 cookie and drank some water (i ate a tons of carbs on saturday but ate very little on friday)?  maybe it was the fact that i slept 5 hrs on friday night and was up early saturday and late to bed on saturday night so i was already fatigued.  or maybe it the orthodics and the fact i’ve never run further than 13 miles in them?

how was it that i ran the disney wine and dine half marathon a couple weeks ago and had no issues and today i felt like i was back at ground zero with my training base?

this coming sunday i have a 17 miler.  something needs to change, i’m just not sure what.  it’s probably a combination of everything above but finding that balance is what makes running so fun and also so frustrating.  especially for someone who analyzes things to death.  some days i wish i could just go out and RUN.

here’s my garmin data:

16 miler

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baby jogger f.i.t.

stay tuned for a review of the baby jogger f.i.t. stroller.  my first hand experience pushing my 10 month old daughter in this amazing stroller.

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2010 Disney’s Inaugural Wine & Dine Half Marathon Race Report

i was really excited that last year’s 10k was this year’s half marathon for the wine and dine festival at epcot.  i had a lot of fun last year and was really looking forward to the longer distance (i don’t typically warm up till 4 miles into any race).  the one thing i couldn’t get over when i went to register was that the start time for the race was 10pm instead of the typical morning hours most half or full marathons are run.  disney decided to hold a 5k the same morning for those not wanting to take the challenge of the longer distance.

packet pickup was a breeze.  i decided to drive to the wide world of sports complex instead of taking a bus, just for convenience sake.  good call as they only left on the hour and half hour and they didn’t have fast passes.  i figured the crowd would still be sparse since it was friday afternoon at 1pm.  the expo opened at noon.  i was wrong.  the parking lot was packed.  funny how i’m going to run 13.1 miles but for a split second was mad i was going to have to park 1/2 mile from the entrance.  i laughed and grabbed a space.

inside the expo was well organized and lots of cool vendors.  i walked in, was directed on where to go.  walked up to where my number was listed, 387, and handed the nice lady my driver’s license.  she promptly handed me my packet and directed me to the d-tag check point and then to where i was to pickup my race swagg.  pretty plain grey short sleeve tech shirt with the words, ‘wine & dine’ on it.  i opted to buy a long sleeve shirt with mickey on it to celebrate the weekend (and give disney more of our money).  i did see a cool shirt for the half relay that said, ‘i did SOME of it!’ and lol’ed.

transportation to the espn wide world of sports was by host resorts only.  for me that was easy as my wife and i are dvc members and our home resort is the beach club, which was listed as a host resort.  i hoped i could walk back to the hotel from the finish but could not get anyone to confirm this prior to the race.

buses left the beach club convention center (hard to find in the dark) with no signage what so ever.  i pretty much looked for another runner and followed them to the buses (and hoped they knew where they were going because i sure didnt).  i left my hotel room at 7:15 as the last bus was supposed to leave at 8 in order to get you to the start by 9.

standing on line i realized a couple of things:  for one, i had not pulled the arm band out of my race packet as i had no clue i needed it, nor did i know there was one even in the packet.  shame on me for pulling everything out except was was in the envelope.  i figured it was just the final instruction sheet which i had already printed prior to arrival.  i debated running back up to the room to get it but decided to just wait and see if they had a info tent at drop off to see if i really needed it or not (or maybe they’d have one).  later on i would find out about the food/wine coupons i also left in that packet.

the lines for the bus were extremely long, but buses seemed to be coming pretty often.  i waited about 30 minutes to board a bus and was on the way to the start.  i sat next to a nice guy that looked like santa claus who was going to the start to watch his son-in-law race.  i thought that was pretty cool since the race started at 10 and didn’t finish for most people until after midnight especially if you were in corral C or D.

drop off was the biggest mess i have seen at a disney race.  i’ve run many races and this was the absolute worst organized of any of the races at disney.  it was mass chaos.  the field to wait on while we waited for the corrals to open was almost completely full.  the entrance to the field was totally swarmed with people who looked like they had no clue where to go.  come to find out they were a mix of people on line to drop off race bags and also the 2nd member of the half marathon relay team.

i moved into what i thought was a bag drop off line.  the line never moved.  people just kept walking around those of us in line and dropped their bag off so i figured what the heck, i’ll do the same.  come to find out there was never supposed to be a line for drop off.  you were supposed to just walk up, drop your bag, and leave.  glad i didn’t wait, i might still be waiting.

after that debacle, i decided to find the information tent.  i found a disney information guide and asked him if i needed the arm band.  he didn’t think so, but didn’t have a definitive answer, so he guided me to a table with a group of volunteers taking pictures with their disney garb.  i was a bit annoyed at first that pictures of themselves seemed more important then helping me as i stood for several minutes without even being acknowledged.  finally, i was able to ask about the wrist bands and was told i would need one to get into the exclusive after party.  i told them i had forgotten it and they promptly gave me a new one.  i offered to take a picture of the three of them so they could all get into the picture and got a look like i thought they had done a bad job taking their own picture.  needless to say, i left.

by this time, i wanted to just sit on the curb and wait for the corrals to open.  for some reason they decided to make an announcement for corrals instead of just letting you go and sit in them.  that would happen 30 minutes before race time.  not sure why, but that is how it went down.  lots of music, a not-to-funny mc and lots of port-o-potties.  i found a curb and sat down one hour before race time.  i sat and reflected about my race strategy and how i had hoped to run the race.

at 9:15 i decided it was time to do the pre-race ritual, the port-o-potty.  last year’s 10k was a nightmare and the lines so long i did not even get to go (and that was after 40 minutes on line).  the lines moved EXTREMELY fast.  i might of waited 10 minutes and talked to a lady about the Jeff Galloway run/walk method of running.  She was an older women who’s used his method a couple of times and was helping a friend complete her first 1/2 marathon.

at 9:30 i moved into the A corral.  i was lucky to of had a good time from a previous 1/2 so i got into the A corral.  it was packed.  by the time i got into the corral i was at the very back.  people were spilled over into the entrance and i saw tons of people with bibb numbers that should not of been in our corral.  oh well, the more the merrier. i found a seat of the pavement, pulled out my new ipod nano, and listened to music to get my pumped.

10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 blast off!  10pm and the race is under way!  running down a one lane road with that many people was not the most fun experience.  i could not find a way around the slower people and ended up jumping into the grass to try to get around.  i was hoping for a 8:30 minute mile the first 2-3 miles where i’d then ‘kick it up a notch’ and start dropping my time to 8, then 7:45 miles.  i knew by the end of the 3rd mile heading into animal kingdom that wasn’t going to happen.  i could never really manage to get into a groove.

the weather was hot.  i was already sweating up a storm and i had only run 2 miles.  i already wrung out my headband, so i knew i was in for a long night.  the run down osceola  parkway into animal kingdom was dark and at times was lighted by only the blue flashing lights from a police car.  there was a dj of some sort at one point on the parkway which i thought was cool.

coming into animal kingdom was pretty fun.  lots of people outside cheering us on.  much better than the few people on the parkway.  disney didn’t allow spectators for this race outside of the start/finish areas, so you definitely wouldnt get the burst of adrenaline you get when you do a race with larger crowd support.  that made running into ak fun.  it was a nice surprise to see some of the bugs/floats from the main street electrical parade in the parking lot.  i’m a huge fan of that parade and was taken back to when i was a kid seeing it the first time.

i never realized a) how hilly animal kingdom is and b) how dark it is too.  there were lights setup every 200′ish ft, but it still seemed dark and made me slow down my pace.  i was glad that i was running with a pack of people at that point as i pretty much followed the dude in front of me.  if he would of fell off the mountain by expedition everest, i would of fallen with him that’s how hard it was for me to see.  now granted, i wear glasses most of the time or contacts, but i wear neither when i run and never have issues.  i had wished i wore my contacts.

running past the tree of life through dinoland and out of the parks was pretty cool.  i know i saw some characters along the route, but i don’t remember which ones.  i was trying to PR so i didnt have time to stop for pictures.  i thought it odd how wet the pavement through the park was but attempted to keep up my pace.  as soon as you came out of dinoland you end up in the parking lot running back towards the parkway.  this is where the relay team members exchanged running positions.  they split you about a football length from the relay point into singles vs relays as they went off in their own direction.

coming back out onto the parkway i dreaded what was going to happen next.  a 3 mile run back down the parkway to then re-loop around to then be on the last leg of the marathon course.  flashing blue lights made me want to toss my cookies.  i never have had any issues with motion sickness, but i really did think i was going to throw up looking at those cop car lights.  i’m glad i wasnt the only one as checking race reports on facebook the next day, lots of people had the same issue (hint, hint, disney).

running up the bridges and the on ramps really wore my legs out as i knew they would.  the twisty on/off ramps make for a fun time especially late in a race but i was able to keep at a 8:30 mile pace despite the cramping that my stomach started doing after taking a gel at mile 6.

by the time i made it to mile 10, i was in full blown pain from the stomach cramping.  i felt like i was being stabbed in the stomach with a knife.  i forgot to mention that i must of had eaten something that did not agree with my stomach the night before at the food and wine festival as my stomach kept me in the bathroom pretty much all day on saturday.

the run through hollywood studios was my favorite part of the run even though it seemed like we ran every inch of the park.  at one point my face was on the jumbo tron and the next i was running down broadway in ny.  the osborne family christmas lights must already be under preparation as the entire street scene was bottom to top in lights.  it was the coolest part of the run.

i was glad that i had decided to run with my water belt as the water stations were narrow and very wet with fluids on the ground.  i felt sorry knowing that later on this was going to be a disaster for the slower runners.  and oh yeah, who the heck thought it was a good idea to give out clif shot blocks?  i could just imagine how many people ended up with those things on the bottoms of their shoes (hint, hint again disney).  where were the mini-candy bars you give out during the marathon?  much better tasting.  i digress.

i was looking forward to coming out of hollywood studios and running the last 2 miles into epcot.  my wife and mother-in-law were waiting to see me run by the beach club and i had kept them waiting 10 minutes longer than i thought i would.  the crowd support was much better running the path from hollywood studios to boardwalk and than continuing past boardwalk into epcot.

i was looking for my wife (and mother-in-law) on the same side of the path as the hotel and had moved over to that side of the path.  luckily i spotted my father-in-law in a quick glance as they were on the opposite side of the street.  apparently they were forced to the other side of the street by race organizers before the elites ran by even though others now stood.

pushing up the hill the last .2 miles seemed effortless.  the crowds cheering your bibb name and the over all excitement was chilling.  i had no idea where i was in the 10k+ that was supposed to run the race.  i hadn’t hit my goal time of 1:44, but i crossed in a respectable 1:52.  i was thankful to run another day.

i thought it was odd that we were not greeted by the volunt-ears with our race medals.  we were directed past medical tents, given a bag of food (a banana, poweraid, water, granola bar and a brownie clif mini-bar) and then given medals (disney medals flat out rock; it was spaceship earth with food, wine and runners shoes on the bottom) before then being moved into the picture taking area.  after pictures you were moved into a building for bag pick up.

the people were so clueless and rude inside that building.  i heard so many complaints and there were not even that many people inside the tent.  i had to ask 3 people to find my bag after waiting on line for 5 minutes.  i thought to myself, this is going to be a HUGE nightmare once the masses start arriving.  i heard it was.  people sick because of the smell.

after picking up your race bag, you were brought into the back entrance to epcot.  i saw nothing but wall-to-wall people.  i had no clue where to go or even where i was at first.  they basically brought you into the world showcase by england. all i wanted was a drink and to walk the short walk back to the hotel.  i stopped and asked if i could indeed walk back and again no one could help me.  they said buses typically picked up people from the front of epcot so they figured i’d have to do that.  i decided to tempt fate and try the back exit.

as i walked to the exit of the international gateway, i was approached by a guy with a platter with coke, diet coke, sprite and a tip jar.  he asked if i wanted a drink.  i said sure.  he then asked for a drink coupon.  i had no clue what he was talking about.  later on when i looked in that packet, i found 1 drink coupon and 1 food coupon.  wow, for the entrance fee to the race i had 1 of each?  none the less, i didn’t get a drink and talked a few minutes about the race with him.  i had no clue how the food worked but wasn’t interested at that point with having to buy my food nor wait in line with all these people.

i’m not sure how people found their love ones after the race.  i was glad i hadn’t opted for a ticket for my wife.  i probably would of found her but when it really got crowded i’m not sure how easy that would be.  i wondered how long runners would have to wait in line with all these people for food if they finished later in the morning.  heck, it was already midnight and the park was only open till 3.  i thought some of the rides were going to be open too, but they were not.

i walked back to the hotel and was forced to show my wrist band when i entered the area by the bleechers for the people that paid the big bucks for the finish line party.  all-in-all it was a fun race.  i definitely think there are a ton of kinks that need to be worked out before next year’s race (water station sizing, lighting issues, shot bloc central, bag pick-up, crowds of people that shouldn’t of been part of the “exclusive” party, etc).

not sure i’ll be back for this one next year but i’ll definitely be running the marathon in january.  chicago may be calling my name for a re-match (and a shot at a bq) if i don’t get into ny.

if you’d like to see the profile information for the course, here’s what my garmin 310xt shows:


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join me in my journey to a BQ

i’d like to dedicate this blog to all of those training to with the dream to one day qualify to run the boston marathon.  i’ve yet to get there have you?

join me on a journey that will cover training tips, new running technology and all things brooks running.

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Happy 2nd Engagement Anniversary to my wife!

2 years ago today, 10.12.08, my life was about to change in more ways than i had planned or imagined.

how i proposed to my wife

oh the weather outside is HOT.  what?  hot in chicago in october?   ten days ago when i checked the weather report the weather was pegged at a high of 78 for race day.  still not my ideal temp, but it’s now creeped up to a high of 88.  what will i do?

finish strong and finish fast.

i am NOT a hot weather runner.  i sweat like turning on a faucet.  i lose about a pound of sweat for every mile i run and that is with drinking five to eight ounces of fluid every two to three miles.  my shirt and shorts hate me.  my shoes loathe me.  i kill a pair every 2 months whether they are “dead” or not.

my plan for running the chicago 2008 marathon was simple.  survive the high training temps, run a 3:50 marathon with the clif pace team and after finishing propose to my girlfriend.  simple, enough?  and oh yeah, raise $1500 for the diabetes action team.  i was running in honor of my younger brother, soon-to-be father-in-law and in memory of my grandfather.

i trained in atlanta for the months leading up to the marathon, so if you have been to HOTlanta you know the weather i trained in.  hot, wet and humid.  hal higdon’s training plan for my first marathon didn’t fail me, how could it fail for chicago?

lessons learned

lesson #1: don’t try anything new you didn’t try during some run (preferably not the long run) during training.  example:  don’t buy two brand new gatorade products at the expo the day before the race and decide to drink them two hours before the race starts.  this is a lesson i should have learned time and time again.  i’m hard headed and have a tough time conforming to this rule.

race morning

where oh where do i hide the engagement ring.  if i didn’t have enough on my mind already.  extra shirt, extra socks and video camera packed in girlfriend’s purse.  check.  that gives me an idea…

we started walking to the start line which was about .75 mile away from our hotel.  nicole walked with me until she found where she wanted to watch the first time i’d be running by.  i got the typical, ‘run hard’ (it started as a joke between my cousin and his now wife and has become a tradition, but that’s another story).  chicago is cool since everything is laid out in a grid, so you can easily watch on one street and mossy over 2-3 blocks and catch the same runs going by again.

i made it to the start line and decided to do the typical runner pre-race ritual.  use the porta potty.  i knew i’d be out for potentially 4 hours and if there’s one thing i hate doing is stopping while running.  the lines were long and the time to start approached quickly.  luckily i was able to make it into the corral before the gun went off, but i had a rough time trying to get to where the 3:50 pace team was located.

the first mile went by like a blur.  probably because i spent the entire time a) running for my life so i wouldn’t get trampled by the crowd and b) trying to catch up with the 3:50 pace team.  first mile done in 7:52.  too fast.  no way can i hold that pace for the entire run.  i’ll collapse and die right on the side of the road probably at mile 4.  my lungs just can’t take it.  i breathe in, but never seem to be able to catch my breath.

i managed to catch the 3:50 pace team by the end of mile two and was able to finally slow down a bit.  the initial energy surge and crowd support pushes you so quick through that first mile.  i settled into a groove and kept the legs turning.

skip ahead to mile 10

mile 10 was a pivotal mile as i knew with the temps warming up that i was not going to be able to hold the 8:45 pace i had hoped to hold as i was feeling twinges in my right calf.

water, water, get your cold water

by mile 12 i knew i was going to have to stop at an aid station because between the water and poweraid (or was it gatorade), i wasnt able to get the cramping under control.  i tried to push through the cramping knowing that i was going to see my girlfriend at mile 13′ish, but just couldn’t go any further.  i stopped at an aid station something i’ve never done before.  i’ve take bio-freeze on a stick before and even vasoline, but never had to stop and seek help.

i walked up to the med tent and asked for help.  i wasnt real sure what to say except that i was cramping for the last 3 miles and couldn’t get the cramps to stop.  i was given water and than a sports drink and asked if i wanted to call it a day.  i was told there was no shame in stopping and calling it a day.  calling it a day isn’t an option for the people that suffer with diabetes every day, so it wasn’t my calling that day either.  besides, i still hoped to cross the finish line and propose to my girlfriend who’s standing with her friend on a street corner waiting for me to pass by probably by now wondering where the heck i am.

i sat for a few minutes, drank up, and continued my journey.  i managed to run/walk the next 1.4 miles and see my girlfriend and her good friend chatting by the side of the road.  i told her i thought i was going to die.  she didn’t hear me.

i digress

my girlfriend was carrying her ring the entire time and didn’t know it.  remember when i said i had put my extra clothes in my girlfriend’s over-sized purse?  i folded the ring into my dry socks that i was going to put on after the race!  brillant, eh?  well, come to find out, the friend that was watching the marathon with nicole just happened to be ring-sitting while her friends went out of town on their honeymoon.  perfect, a good excuse for my girlfriend to try on the ring for sizing purposes only (she wasn’t expecting anything that day, i don’t think).

the malto run/walk method

the next 13.1 miles were the longest miles of my life.  i cramped up again by mile 14 and knew i wasnt going to be able to run.  i drank water and poweraid at every station i could find trying (hoping) to get rid of the cramps.  i would stretch, get rid of the cramps, run 100 yards, cramp again.  i had a very nice guy offer to help me at mile 18 and even gave me his last two salt tablets.  i don’t remember his name, but thanks for those salt tablets nameless man.

no bananas

i don’t remember which stop was supposed to have bananas but for the slow people that run the marathon, i can now sympathize.  nothing but banana peels piled up in what looked like they had rained from the sky.  my mouth was dry and i was definitely sun burnt, yet i moved on.  i reflected over and over how people struggle not only with diabetes but other disabilities that prevent people from even attempting what i’m attempting, so i kept motivated to move forward.

mile 24 and DNF

by mile 24 i couldn’t take it any longer.  i knew i was in trouble as i hadn’t sweat in over four miles and yet had salt caked all over my body.  i looked like a giant sugar doughnut with hair.  i walked up to the aid station and told them i didn’t think i could finish.  i told them i had stopped at a previous aid station for water and told them of the cramping.  they asked if i could continue and i said no. “it’s only 2 miles, you’re almost there!”  words of motivation i really didn’t want to here.  i asked for two ice packs for my legs and some water.

what happened next was a twist of fate.  they never started the paperwork for me to call it quits because a boy came in and basically collapsed in front of me.  they immediately started working on him by inserting an IV and working with EMS to get him to a hospital.

they said it would be about 2-3 hours before they could shuttle me back to the start line.  i asked if i could take the ice with me and they said sure.  i decided to walk the last two miles.  they seemed even longer than the 24 miles i had already run/walk.

6 hours and 18 minutes later

i crossed the finish line.  who the hell decided to make the finish line after going up the only real incline in the entire race?  couldn’t it of been before the hill?  damn, i just can’t catch a break.  i finished 12 minutes before the buses started to pick people up.  i didn’t propose, but did ask if she had my clothes.

nicole ran over and gave me a hug and asked what happened.  i could barely speak.  i drank down a protein shake and attempted to eat a bagel.  i couldnt get it down my mouth was so dry.  unfortunately, it was a mile back to the hotel that we had to walk.  i don’t remember if we took a cab back or if we walked the entire way.

as soon as we got back to the room, i asked for salt.  i had only run a half and a full marathon before this one, but with all the reading i do, i knew that i needed salt.  nicole had a bag of pretzels and i asked if she would get me some chicken soup.  she said yes and was out of the room in a flash. that’s after she took out my shirt, socks and video camera from her purse.

shower and sickness

i decided i needed a shower and attempted to take one.  i got sick half way through the shower and threw up the strawberry protein shake i had drank earlier.  i also started to cramp up again and collapsed onto the floor.

nicole came back with the soup and helped to clean up the mess i had made.  i had finished off the bag including the salt at the bottom.  pretty much did nothing except make me really thirsty.  i wanted to sleep.  i knew that if i fell asleep, i was going to be in trouble.

after some convincing, we decided it best if i go to the hospital.  i grabbed my socks and asked that nicole put them in her purse.  she did and didn’t ask questions but did look at me like why do you need these socks, you’re fully dressed, idiot.  i didn’t want to call an ambulance and said i’d walk.  northwestern hospital was 2 blocks away.  i made it to the lobby.  we hailed a taxi as there was no way i was going to make it.  i cramped up again getting into the taxi and spent the next 2 blocks in extreme pain.

nicole walked up the counter to tell them what was going on.  i sat in a wheel chair.  when nicole came back with paperwork in hand, the first thing she said was, ‘if they ask, we are married or they might not let me go back with you’.  i attempted to ask for her purse.

‘gib me ur purs’, ‘gib me ur purs’..  i talked but couldn’t make complete sentences let alone could nicole understand what i was saying.  my tongue was swollen (maybe from the salt from the pretzel back, maybe from lack of salt, i’m not 100% sure).  i freaked out.

need help in a hospital — fake a heart attack

i don’t condone what i just said, but it’s true.  when i freaked out so did the hospital staff in the ER.  before you could say, HELP ME, i had my chest partially shaved (cute little smiley face) and chest pads hooked up monitoring my EKG and i was whisked out of the ER into a holding area.  there were people all over the place.  some with rooms, some in the halls, some that just sat motionless on the floor.  marathon trauma every where.

after a bunch of tests it was determined that i had flushed out all of the potassium and sodium from my body and that i would have to drink an orange slush like drink to replenish my potassium (cant i just get one of those damn bananas) and a 5+ hr stay on the sodium drip.


i asked for food.  i got a, ‘sorry, you can’t eat as we might have to take you into emergency surgery if you have more brain swelling.’  oh snap.  that’s when reality really hit me.  no more marathons i thought.  the dr. proceeded to tell nicole that if i started acting crazy to immediately let them know.t

the dr walked out and i asked nicole for my socks.  she immediately thought i was going crazy.  ‘why do you need your socks?’, i was asked.  ‘give me my socks’, was my reply.  we did this a couple of times until she obliged.  i put my hand into the first sock and nicole said, ‘oh why didnt you say your hands were cold?’.  partially because i hadn’t thought of that, i said nothing.  hand into second sock.  ring found.  i probably would of had a cardiac arrest if it was missing.

i proposed and she said yes.

happy 2nd anniversary to the love of my life and for one heck of a story!  i love you!

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