Wednesday, March 24, 2010

A Day late and Dollar Short

I have such trouble keeping up with posting lately. Between work, running, maintaining the house and reading everyone else’s wonderful stories and anecdotes, I seem to be running out of time. Oh well, I can only do so much.

Last weekend, the Chicago area was blessed with a round of more snow. Enough snow to keep me running my 13 miler in the gym again last Saturday. I managed 7 miles on the treadmill then jumped on the indoor track for 3 miles (27 loops) and back onto another treadmill to finish with a 3 miler. I think it helped break the run up by jumping around, but I would rather have been running outside. The good news is that the weather has warmed up and there is not a trace of snow left in site.

Saturday evening Terri and I had dinner plans with some friends and had people over at our house later in the evening. I was a little worn out from the run and cleaning the house afterwards that I ended up falling asleep pretty early Saturday night. I left Terri to entertain our guests while I was sound asleep. Luckily she didn’t say a word to me and hopefully understood I was just wiped out. I also had a few glasses of New Glarus Stone Soup, but that had nothing to do with it, I swear.

Sunday morning Terri and I were pretty tired and we did not do any cross training at the gym as Hal Higdon said was on our schedule. Instead we swapped our rest day with Monday. On Monday evening after work we both headed to the gym and I lifted and rode the bike while Terri did the elliptical and bike.

Tuesday was quite nice when I got home from work and the temps were in the low 60’s. I ran my 3 miler in shorts and a short sleeved shirt. Amazing that just a few days prior it was snowing like crazy. I know I shouldn’t be shocked and this happens every spring but I am so ready for winter to go away. Tonight I have a 7 mile run scheduled and tomorrow a 4 miler. We are also on a taper week and only running 10 miles on Saturday. I think my legs are going to appreciate the break.

Earlier this week, I was talking to a few of my friends who signed up for the Chicago Marathon, scheduled this fall on 10-10-10. I was actually contemplating running this with them, even though I haven’t even completed my first one yet. I knew that the race would fill up fast and I needed to decide soon to secure a spot, but it closed yesterday. I know there are charity spots available but I would have rather just paid my entry fee and trained by myself. I was a little disappointed because it would have been nice to run in Chicago, but I kind of think I need to get one marathon under my belt before I think about running a second. I guess if I still have the bug, I could search for another fall marathon, but I was kind of looking forward to running Chicago. Maybe it’s for the best and I should focus on my current goal before I go looking for trouble elsewhere.

I hope everyone has a splendid week of running!!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

12 Miles, Sushi and New Glarus

I ended up having to run my 12 miler indoors on Saturday. The weather was to crappy and I didn't feel like going outside in the rain and cold. I know it rains and can be cold on race day, but I just wasn't feeling up to it. My wife came to the gym with me and I used one of the 6 guest passes they gave me. Family hours at the gym weren't until later in the day and I wanted to run in the morning so I had to use the pass.

I ran 6 miles on the first treadmill with no problem. The machine only would allow you to run one hour before shutting off so I moved to another location in the gym for a change of scenery. I ran 3 miles on the different treadmill and the last 3 on the track. It was actually nice to break things up and it didn't seem to bad. My wife did 6 on the treadmill and 6 on the track. It is 9 laps for a mile and I didn't feel like making 54 turns around the oval.

After our run, we went home and Terri jumped on the computer to see if she could get Elton John tickets that went on sale earlier that morning. We actually were able to get 2 tickets that weren't too expensive and decent seats. So we are going to Michael Buble in 2 weeks and Elton John next month.

Staurday evening Terri and I headed out to some friends for a party. It was a wine & sushi party. They did it to raise money and/or donations for their local food bank in their town (Wacounda). They have had this party for the past few years and I think it is an awesome concept. They are very generous to host this every year. I actually tried sushi for the first time ever. I do like fish, but didn't think I would like sushi. I liked the spicy tuna roll and the sashimi. They also had other items besides sushi and they had other things to drink besides wine but I wanted to try it anyway. I was the designated driver this time so I had one glass of wine for the evening.

I have previously mentioned that my friend, Jeff lent me his snow blower earlier this year. We actually made a swap. I made him oak window cornices and he gave me the snow blower. Sunday morning after waking up an hour later, due to the time change, I headed out to his house to install them for him. After the installation we went to lunch and I had a couple of Boddington's and a burger. Jeff lives near the Wisconsin border in a town called Rockford and since I was that close, I headed up to Madison after lunch for a new 1/2 barrel of New Glarus beer. I was hoping to get the newest brew, Moon Man, but they did not have it in 1/2 barrels. I ended up taking home Stone Soup. By the time this runs out, they will be brewing one of my other seasonal favorites, Totally Naked for the next keg. I loaded up on a few other New Glarus product and made my way back to Illinois. After the beer run, I went home, picked up my wife and son and we went to the gym for family hours. I lifted weights, Terri rode the bike and Dante played basketball and ran a few laps on the track. Afterwards we all went swimming in the pool and Dante played on the indoor water slide.

Last night I came home from work and was feeling the onset of a little cold. I went to bed earl;y to get some extra rest and today at work, I was taking daytime cold medicine. Luckily I only have a 3 miler to run tonight and I plan on getting to bed early again for some rest. I think I just have been running myself around so much and not resting.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Almost no Bull!

I had a nice dinner last Friday with my fellow Alumni and professors from my college (EIU). It was starting to get late and I needed to head out to catch the 10:30 train. I said my goodbyes and promised to visit the campus soon, when one of the professors approached me and asked if I liked basketball. I said sure and didn’t know why he would ask, but he then asked if I would like tickets to the Chicago Bulls game to take my son to for that Saturday night. I said thanks and told him my son will be thrilled. I called Dante on my walk to the train and told him about the game and pulled out the tickets to give him the seats location so he could look it up online to see where they were located. I put the tickets in my coat pocket and looked at my watch and realized I needed to hustle to get to the train on time. I arrived at the station with about ten minutes to spare and felt in my pocket and the tickets were gone. I had a few options at this point, get on the train and forget about it, retrace my steps in the hopes of finding them and miss my train or run like hell to try and find them and try and catch the 10:30 train. I chose the latter option and ended up running three blocks to discover the tickets sitting on the sidewalk. I was incredibly lucky that they were still there. Now I just needed to make it back to the station before the train took off otherwise it was another hour wait for the next one. I sprinted back with everything I had and run up the stairs into the station and onto the platform. I just made it before the doors closed and grabbed a seat. I was all gross and sweaty and I am sure looked like hell, but I made the train and had the tickets securely in my pocket this time.

The next morning I had a seven mile run and I was still a little sore from sprinting in dress shoes the night before. I managed the seven alright but it wasn’t my best run by any means. After the run I had an appointment to go to speak with my Dr. about my recent blood test. I was the last patient of the day and the doctor was very casual and took all the time answering questions that I needed. That was a welcome change. My doc told me that the cholesterol medicine was not causing my increase in the kidney BUN test, but asked if I was taking a supplement with Creatinine in it. I said no, but told him I was training for the marathon possibly running more and that I joined the gym and had started lifting weights. He thinks that could be the cause for the extra creatinine in my blood but wants me to take another blood test to be sure. I can’t work out for three days and need to have a blood draw to see the level. I worked it out with a morning run 2 rest days and then an afternoon run so I only am missing a cross training day. I also asked if I could stop taking the expensive non-generic medicine (Zetia). He said it was not the reason my numbers went down and told me to stop taking it. I was thrilled as this will save big $$$. I have my fingers crossed that the extra muscle building is the cause for the increased creatinine.

After the doctor, I had my son’s All Star basketball game and then we went to dinner and into the city for the Bulls game. After finding reasonable parking accommodations of $18, we walked to the United Center. We found our seals, first row in the club level and sat down. Down on the floor in front of us was Lovey Smith (head coach of the Chicago Bears) and the three new players they just drafted. My son was in sports heaven. The Bulls lost to the Mavericks, but we had a great time nonetheless. It was a nice way to spend the evening bonding with my son. Dante is 10 years old & I know these days are numbered.

Sunday I did taxes and afterward Terri, Dante & I all headed to the gym. I did a little lifting and biking, Terri biked and used the elliptical and Dante ran 2 miles on the track. Afterward we headed to the pool to relax. It was a busy weekend, but I enjoyed it.

Last night the weather was unseasonably warm (45 degrees) when I got home and I decided to run outside. I grabbed a flash light, put on shorts and headed out. I ran a quick 3 miler and then back home for dinner. I have 6 miles to complete tonight and I hope the rain stays away long enough for another outdoor run. I really miss running in shorts outside.

We are up to a 12 mile run for this Saturday’s training run. I haven’t run that distance since the last ½ marathon I did back in August. I am sure it will be fine.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Holy Cholesterol!

I went for my blood test last Saturday before my ten mile run. On Tuesday, I called the doctor because I had not heard anything yet. They said they did not get my results but would check into things and get back to me. I was surprised when they actually did what they said they were going to do and got back to me the same day. I was prepared for them to tell me that there was no real change and that the past 2 months of nonexistent limited alcohol and caffeine did no good. That wasn’t the case and I was pleasantly surprised for the nurse to say, everything looks fine. I said hold on a minute; I have been trying different combinations and doses of medicine to get my numbers down for years and everything is fine. What does fine constitute, I asked. The numbers are:

(Insert drum roll)


HDL 38 (HDL above 60 is optimal)

LDL 64 (LDL below 100 is optimal)

Total Cholesterol 131 (Less than 200 desirable)

Triglycerides 144 (Below 150 is normal)

Kidney Function 21 (normal range is 10-20)

Needless to say, I was ecstatic to find this news out. The cardiologist told me there is no reason to come back here and call my regular Dr. to go over the results. I feel like a huge weight has been lifted from me. I certainly now realize that I will have to consume alcohol in moderation, compared to my use prior to this test. That will be to be the most difficult thing, since I do love beer. I can live with cutting the caffeine down. Lack of caffeine didn’t seem to bother me so much. While my results may not compare that great to some of you, for me it is a tremendous improvement. My last testing, I believe my cholesterol was at 255. I never realized what an impact that alcohol and caffeine can have on this. As far as the kidney function being elevated, I read that it can be due to a high protein diet and further read that the cholesterol medicines can breakdown skeletal muscle tissue which can affect the kidney. Of course, I am consuming a high protein diet and I need to talk with my doctor further to discuss minimizing some of these medicines. I think my genetic make up may also play a role in the low HDL number. But the overall cholesterol is good and the ratio is more important than just the HDL number. These numbers are with me on medication. I am taking Zocor and Zetia for cholesterol and Toprol-XL for high blood pressure. My blood pressure has been in check for years with the medication and exercise.

Back in college I was economics major. Every year, the Economics Dept. from my Alma matter (Eastern Illinois University) brings ten students to Chicago for the weekend. They take a tour of the Federal Reserve Bank and other cool things in the city. This Friday, the alumni in the area get together with the group of students and professors for drinks and dinner in Chicago. It is a nice way to meet the students and reminisce of old times and catch up with old friends. I was fortunate enough to develop friendships with two of my professors and when they make the trip, I always try to attend. This year they have asked me and a few others to be mentors to the existing students. I am honored and have offered to help out in any capacity I can. In years past, I have always stayed with my professors at the hotel so I could take in the night life after dinner. This year, I will be taking a late train home and running in the morning. These are some of the lifestyle modifications I will need to get used to.

Sorry for the long winded post. I hope everyone has a great weekend and good running.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Ten Miles and Some Tile

I signed up at the gym Friday evening after work. My son, Dante went with me. After I paid for the first month, they took my photo and gave me an ID an we were set. The cool thing about this gym is that they have Family Hours, even though the membership is for me only, you can bring family members with at certain times to use a segment of the facilities. Each day the schedule is different. Friday night was pretty much an open family night and all areas were being used. Dante and I went to the basketball court and were able to shoot around a bit. Saturday, I had my 10 miler and I ran outside with my wife, Terri and poker buddy, Chad. It was a little windy, but we tried to hit routes that minimized the wind as much as possible. The 10 was not as easy as my long run last Saturday, but no so bad.

After I returned from my run on Saturday, my father in law was at my house waiting to help me grout the new tile. Grouting is a messy and nasty job. It took two of us to accomplish. One was spreading the grout and the other was constantly cleaning the tile off with a sponge and dumping the dirty water out and refilling. This was not exactly what I wanted to do after I got done running 10 miles. Of course I showered first, then grouted. This process took a about 3 hours to do, actually a little longer than I expected. After the grout was on and tiles fairly cleaned off, we needed to wait for the grout to dry for 24 hours before I could wipe the tiles down again.

After grouting, I took another shower and we were out the door for my uncle Jimmy's 70th Birthday party. The party was at the Schaumburg Golf Club. It was dinner, open bar and music. Kids were invited and the dress was casual so it was a relaxing evening for everyone. I forgot to mention, I was the one who had to do the music. I prepared a play list during the week to try and satisfy a wide range of ages from 70-teens. Luckily, I have a large library and was able to prepare something to please most. Of course the older people would tell me to turn it down, while the younger people would be telling me turn it up. You can't please everyone. People were dancing and having fun, so I figured it was good enough.

On Sunday, I woke up and started cleaning the tile for the last go round and then applied a stone sealer. This protects the stone from any cooking grease etc. and enhances the color of the stone. I need to do this annually, but it is extremely easy. After that I started prepping the walls for painting and installed the new cabinet hardware and outlet covers. Needless to say, my day was spent working. My wife had been given tickets to the Chicago Wolves hockey game for Sunday, but I told her to take Dante and my nephew Shane instead of me going with. They went and had a good time and I was able to finish everything while they were gone. Below is the finished product of my hard labor. I am happy the way it all turned out and looking forward to the next project I dream up. I am sure it wont take me too long to figure something out.

Lat night was a rest day, but since I didn't get to the gym on Sunday, I decided to head up anyways. I ran 3 miles on the treadmill and did some free weights for biceps and chest. Terri and Dante went with for family hours (6:30-9:00) last night. Terri rode the bike while Dante played ball and ran around the track for a mile. I told him he needs to start running if he is going to run the local 5k (Run Thru the Hills) with us next month.

I feel great today and will be heading back to the gym for a 3 mile run tonight. If I still feel good, I will try some more lifting afterwards.