Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Freaking out

When am I not, really?

Last Saturday (so about 10 days ago now) I had a stomach virus that precluded me from doing a long run all weekend. That's okay, I thought. It was a down week anyway.

Then Sunday into Monday I started having back pain. It just felt tight, but I figured that was from sleeping a lot so I could feel better in a bed that could stand to be replaced. (It since has, though it doesn't arrive till Saturday.) Monday I went for an easy run. Back still felt weird. I made a PT appt. Tuesday it hurt, and it's hurt ever since.

Had a kidney infection ruled out.
Had major spinal issues ruled out.

PT and other medical professionals seem to think this is a virus. I've been drinking tons of water to hopefully flush out whatever this is, and taking ibuprofen and it hurts. It hurts differently, but it still hurts.

I've had massage.
I've had acupuncture.

I am beginning to think that motherfucking time is the only way out.

But I don't know.

I don't have time.  I have 8 weeks.

What if I can't run this race?

I'm scared. I'm freaking out. I have meltdowns. I can't concentrate on anything. I can't write. I try to throw myself into work but that can only go so far. Also difficult when sitting hurts.

I have another doctor's appointment today, a sports med doc. Maybe I'll get an x-ray.

I don't know.

I KNOW back pain is like the most common thing in the world. But it doesn't happen to me. I know, I know, that's like peoples' response to everything. But hear me out:

I didn't strain picking up something. I have a strong core (or at least I thought I did). But my back locked up and though it doesn't feel as locked up anymore, I don't know why.

Back in 2008 I had a mysterious quad problem that didn't go away until I took many weeks totally off and also did the master cleanse. I'm hoping to not do either.

This is exactly why I don't like making my goals public. It jinxes me. This happened last year. I have the baggage of last year. I have the fact that I have solicited MORE THAN $4k from people. Yes, that is a charitable donation for melanoma. YES, it's a good cause. But I want these people to have some return on investment, you know? ROI for runners?

I'm freaking out. I really am. I know I'm a head case. I just feel like a horrible, depressed, immense failure right now. Life's loser.

This is what happens when a runner can't run.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Rain, rain go away, and other things I have to say

When I moved to Portland from the east coast, one of the many reasons was because snow didn't fall here often. Because I hate snow. I hate it a lot.

I don't think it's beautiful. I think it's cold. And gross. And annoying. I hate it when it's sunny and there's snow out because it hurts my eyes, even with sunglasses. It impinges on my schedule. Actually, I don't so much keep a schedule as I do a list of things in my head that I will get to when I get to them and I may procrastinate but at least I know what I want to do and when I want to do them. Is that a schedule? I think it's more OCD.)

Yesterday we had snow. It washed away quickly. Now it's raining. And warm. I like it a lot.

But it's pouring. Like buckets of mop water, overturned.

I have to do my long run tomorrow for several reasons, none of which I feel like getting into. It's supposed to be just this rainy tomorrow morning. I fear that I will need to run in Hunter boots.

But I just can't handle doing 10+ miles on a dreadmill. I have friends who have done 20+ miles on one. I think that's insane. Even though when I first started running, I only was on a treadmill, that was no more than 5 miles and even then I had to stop it frequently because of 1) boredom and 2) out-of-shape-itude.

So I guess  I will have to venture out and get soaked. That's all right. I've got this thing to train for.

In other, rare non-running news, I'm also a writer. I have a day job (their work) and a night job (my work). I've written a novel and I'm shopping it out to agents. I've gotten reactions from no reaction to partial requests to full requests. I've gotten some lovely feedback in my rejection letters.

Anyway, I wanted to call out Deborah Camp, who has published more than 40 books--and whose motto is " "Don't wait for your ship to come in - swim for it!"

Even though I kind of hate the pool, she has a point. 

Make it happen. Running, writing, scheduling, whatever.

I don't know that I'd ever have 40 books in me, but I've got several and would love to have that kind of audience.

What are your dreams?

Friday, January 13, 2012


There is a part of me that feels like I'm going to get another call back from the doctor: "Whoops! Sorry! We switched your results with someone else! Someone luckier!"

I've got to stop thinking like that.

So I ran an easy three miles this morning, just to see if I would hold up.

I held up.

I held up just fine.


Thursday, January 12, 2012


Here's the deal:

I have some freckles on an area that we'll call...my Upper Upper Thigh (otherwise known as UUT). I've noticed them over the years and every so often I'll do some contortions with a hand mirror to get a good look at them.

I'll leave it at that.

A few weeks ago, I had a gynecologist appointment and asked her about one of the areas, where it looked a little discolored. She said we could do one of two things:

1. Wait six months and keep an eye on it.
2. Do a "punch biopsy," which is basically like taking a very small melon-baller (we're taking anywhere from 3-6 mm) to the area and send that off to pathology.

What it could have been:
1. Melanoma (even though this is an area that does not see much sun)
3. Skin cancer that wasn't melanoma
4. Precancerous changes
5. Other miscellaneous and weird things found on the internet at 1:30 a.m.

Great. I think to myself: I sign up to run Boston benefiting the Melanoma Foundation of New England...and I get melanoma. Not hypochondria, but awful, terrible irony.

If it were melanoma, the area would have to be cut out. Believe me when I tell you that I do not want the area to be cut out. Or  to be cut into. I like my UUT. I've had only compliments about my UUT. It serves me well. It's not something I wanted mutilated or otherwise sliced.

And also: I'm 37. I like my life. I enjoy it. I have so much more to do. There's no way I'm dying without publishing a goddamn book.

So I was freaking the fuck out. My dad had skin cancer diagnosed on his arm when he was younger than I am now. I won't go down the whole family tree of health boredom but suffice it to say this: Cancer is rampant in my family.

If you know me, you know that I was absent the day patience was handed out. (In fact, I must have called in sick that whole week, because I'm also lacking in tolerance, altruism, and good will--but I digress.)

I made the first appointment for a biopsy--ten days away.

Still freaking the fuck out.Going on the internet--even though that was the Worst Thing I Could Do--and looking at pictures, reading stories. Even on my lunch hour at work--it's a good thing I work in the medical field where it's "normal" to have weird-looking items on my desktop, all in the name of research.

 I know it was scary and alarmist and not the advice I'd give anyone, but come on. You're going to do it. It's like not thinking of an elephant.

I spent a lot of time with the mirror in various yoga positions, analyzing.

I told myself to stop. Sometimes I listened.

I told myself it would be fine. Sometimes I listened.

I told myself it wouldn't be fine. Sometimes I listened.

I made magical thinking deals in my head, late at night and first thing in the morning. "If it's not cancer, I'll be nice. I'll be nice to people I don't even like. I promise." (See tolerance, lackthereof.)

At the biopsy on Tuesday, I brought my husband, but left him in the waiting room.

I made jokes. There was bleeding. There was more bleeding. Then I made more jokes. "Cleanup on Aisle 5!"

I was told I'd know by Friday.

I did more magical thinking. My husband said, "It's going to be FINE. I PROMISE." I wanted to believe him. And I also wanted to see what would happen when he was wrong and had to backtrack and then I could add another coin to the bank of Carin's Right Again.

But this morning, I thought to myself: You know what? It will be okay. Say it's cancer. Say it's cut into. It won't be so bad. It's not a large area. My health is good. I eat right. I'm a runner. We'll get it early. I'm healthy, mostly. I have support. I am loved. I have the most amazing people in my life.

I went to unplug my phone from its charger this morning and that's when I saw I had a voicemail from my doctor's office.


What a wonderful, wonderful word.

The best.

It was relief like...I can't even believe it. Like sinking into the softest, best bed after the hardest, worst day.

And I'm more than happy to admit to my husband that he was RIGHT.

And I'm still healing from the biopsy and going to take a couple more days off from running. But that's FINE. I don't CARE.

And the other good news: My ferritin is at 49, which is the highest it has been in a while. So that's the bad news: If I have a bad run I can't blame my iron levels.

Yes, I am relieved. But I am really hoping I don't come across as smug. Please.

I have family who've had cancer. I have friends who've had it. Some of them have survived and have gone on to beat the fuck out of things, to slay cancer like Buffy. And some of them haven't gone on.

I always thought I was aware and supportive of people who were going through cancer. It took a scare like this for me to realize that I wasn't. I had NO FUCKING CLUE. For every ocean of relief I float on, there is someone else who got heartbreaking news.

What can I do? How can I help? What happens after I finish fundraising?

I don't know.

There is a lot  more I can do, or that I should be doing. I was lucky. Very, very fucking lucky. There may be a day when I'm not so lucky. I don't know what I can do in the meantime.

Last year I started writing down, at the end of each day, an "awesome thing of the day" that happened.  Some of those things were more awesome than others just in the way that some days are more awesome than others. Some days it was an awesome, dramatic event--requalifying for Boston. Some days I scrounged. "Good sushi roll that didn't fall apart."

I'm doing the awesome thing of the day this year, too.But maybe now I need to add something to it--because I feel almost...guilty in my relief? How can I make even more out of each day and make others aware of that, too?

I don't know. Ideas?

Monday, January 2, 2012

Why I'm not the best blogger.

Or: Why I suck at it.

When things are going well, I don't have a lot to write about. It's kind of like why phone conversations and visits with my parents are kept short. They freak out about things and make them into this histrionic drama nightmare and then all about them...and that's another story and a half...so I don't tell them anything, really. Everything is great. I stick to the good stuff, the cats, the weather. It's kind of sad but it saves me a lot of time and energy.

But that makes a boring writer, right? It makes a boring blog. At least for me, who will be the only person who is reading this.

And the truth is, things have been going reasonably well with my running. Two weeks ago I finally had my First Full Week of Running since  my appendectomy. My mileage still isn't up where it is and I'm not speedy but at least I had that. My body felt pretty good too, running-wise. I hadn't had any tweaks or twinges.

But I'm in this paradox, now. I can't write when things are good because there's nothing to say, and when things are bad, well...I'm not sure I want to post them on the internet.

I had a very nice "holiday" season.

I didn't run yesterday. Unplanned day off.

That may have been a mistake; running is my mood stabilizer, among other things, and I'm pretty down right now. I've had some other concerns that I'm not ready to blog about, and I'll only share them if they're good. At least for now. A blog about my training for Boston should be just that. Right?

I need to do more hills. I am woefully out of hill shape. I keep comparing myself to where I was last year. But this is probably a mistake. No, it definitely is. It was a year ago. And I fucked up my hamstring with 6 weeks to go last year. I don't want to compare to last year. The fact is that all I want to do is run this race and to run it like I've prepared for it. The past few marathons I've run To Be Faster. I'm having a hard time rearranging my expectations to be:

1. Don't get hurt before.
2. Don't get hurt before mile 26.2. Or after, really.
3. Train hard enough so that you don't fuck it all up, but not too hard that you...fuck it all up.

But who can help it?

Later. I'm not sure when, but...later.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011


I found out why some seemingly random people are donating to my cause.

A friend of mine, who works at -- let's just say a big athletic behemoth -- was "giving" away passes to a certain big behemoth employee store. She had a set amount and said people could have one--as long as they donated to my cause.

Glass half-empty wonders: "Is this like the teacher bribing the kids to give me a valentine?"

Glass half-full thinks: "I'm so glad my friend is using her massive intelligence for good."

Anyway, it was very cool and garnered me some bucks, so everyone is happy.

Today's other a-ha! moment: I went to my physical therapist (PT) who is a whole cauldron of awesome. I have this issue where my right hip gets rotated and it affects my leg. I was feeling a little off-balance and he confirmed that I was a *lot* off-balance and he did a lot of reshaping me back into place. My glutes and back thank him for it. It was the kind of realignment where I sometimes feel like I should ask for a cigarette afterwards.

My PT could put Humpty Dumpty back together. He's done so much for me that I even gave him a cameo in the novel I'm trying to sell.

Off to plot more of Book Two.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011


Not by my running, which is anything but delightful lately (I shirked today, due to timing and weather--seriously, where has this slacker runner come from?), but by other people.

Today I had some donations, out of, seemingly, nowhere, from many disparate places in my life:

- A woman in my book group
- Two people in my running club who I've known for years
- Someone in my running club who I've not met face to face (yet)
- An old friend from back east that I've known since 1996 but haven't seen in about six years

People surprise me in the most awesome ways sometimes.

Monday I ran 4 miles. It felt longer. I didn't get to run until lunchtime (working from home that day) because of the freezing fog that has plagued Portland in the morning. Today I didn't get to run; I kind of woke up too late and by the time I realized I could run it was too late. So I did some core exercises in the basement.

I'm pretty slackery this training cycle. I hope this improves soon. I feel like I've fallen off the focus wagon. I've been aboard it for years, though. I like it better on the wagon. Things move smoother. You get into a rhythm, you know? And I'm kinda meh on it.

I'd like to say I'm going extra easy because I just want to run the damn race and don't expect anything out of it. But I need to put in the training so the race doesn't suck. Because that would suck, too.

It's a hard balance for me, sometimes.

Anyway, I wanted to post more on the coolness of people, and how it surprises me in the most delightful way. I know I know cool people, and I *shouldn't* be surprised, but...well, it just makes me smile. There is so much good in the world. There really, really is.