Thursday, October 15, 2009

The more things change, the more they Really Do stay the same...

Remember that one time I blogged about how I was listening to Hambone's Blues Party on my jazz station?  Probably not, considering the post was from 27 months ago.  2 and 1/4 years ago, I was sitting in this same papasan chair, listening to this same Blues Party.  Weird.  And yet 2 and 1/4 years ago, I was right smack in the middle of all things cancer-related and chemo-induced.  An interesting point of note.   I wrote, on July 12, 2007, this:  

"I can't walk (jump...) up six stairs without my heart pounding like a maniac. And when I stand up, I get these super cool black-outs. Oh well. Hopefully I'll get a blood transfusion tomorrow, or Monday at the latest. But either way, I think having blood and not having to worry about it mysteriously disappearing is what I am looking forward to the most when this treatment is finished. I can't wait to be able to run again, to be able to jump out of my chair without needing to grab on to something solid for balance."

It is definitely fair to say that having blood is one of the perks of being healthy.  I haven't had a "super cool black-out" in just about two years.  Finally, I am able to run again.  My old-self would probably be pissed at my now-self because it has taken me so long to get consistent with the running, but hey, me, it's been a long road and full of setbacks.  (My old-self was a little harsher and more demanding of itself.)

So here I am on October 15, 2009, in the same place physically but in such an entirely different place mentally, emotionally, and all the other -allys.  I still love the blues, still need the blues to satisfy that part of me that craves, well, the blues, I guess.  Aside from the music, though, very little is the same.  Actually, everything has changed, as well it should have, considering the events of the past three years.

I want to make sure it is clear that while I may be unsatisfied with where my body physically is at this point in my life, namely, living at home, I am happier with myself than I have ever been in my life.  I am more in love with living than I have ever been.  Part of that is definitely attributable to the anti-depressants I started taking about a year ago, but mostly it is that I have grown into myself.  I hope my post from a few posts ago didn't make anyone think I am sitting around moping or depressed or anything like that.  If anything, I am frustrated and angry that I haven't pushed myself harder.  I am scared out of my mind about the future, but I guess I neglected to mention that I am also So Freaking Excited about the possibilities ahead.  We all question our past and our past decisions, to some extent, and for me, that involves wondering if I would be here had I not gotten cancer.  But those thoughts are totally useless and, indeed, tend to be super destructive.  So I'm trying not to go there.  Instead, I am here.  I am here, but I am a totally different person from the me who was here 2 and 1/4 years ago, and I am pretty damn happy with who I am now.

So that's what's up on this rainy Thursday night in the suburbs.  Life and reality get me down sometimes, but I'm human.  It would be strange if they didn't.  So I'm sorry if I brought anyone down with me last week.  It is what it is, and tomorrow is a new day.  Smile and muddle through.  Peace, love, and blues riffs all around.

Sunday, October 11, 2009


2 hours, 5 minutes and 41 seconds.  That is the time in which Samuel Wanjiru, of Kenya, ran the Chicago Marathon this morning.  It was a new course record, smashing the old record by a whopping one second.  It is also the fastest marathon anyone has ever run in the US.  (All facts according to the Chicago Tribune).  Never to be outdone by the men, the Russian Lilliya Shobukhova won in 2:25:56, and this was only her second marathon.

These athletes are Runners.  They are my inspiration, the catalysts propelling me out of bed and onto the street on a cloudy Wednesday morning before work.  Okay, not these two athletes specifically, but I have been reading a whole lot about marathoners and ultrarunners lately, dreaming and wondering if I could ever reach that level of achievement.  So am I a runner?  Someone posted that question after my last post (thanks!), and it has been pestering me ever since, hence the long post reply.

I definitely consider myself a runner, lower-case "r".  I started running as a junior in high school.  When I first started running on my own though, I could only run for five minutes at about a 10-minute mile before I had to take a walk lap.  But I kept at it; it got to the point where if I didn't run my 10, then 15, then 30 minutes, I would feel terrible.  Unfortunately, when I was running in high school, I was running for the wrong reasons, and I was being stupid about it.  Basically, I was running 5 plus miles and then going to the gym for another 20 or 30 minutes on a bike, as well as some basic weight training, but I was only eating maybe 1200 or 1500 calories a day.  I was obsessed with counting calories, and I am pretty sure that is the definition of an eating disorder.  So senior year, I had a revelation and stopped working out like a maniac.  I put on a bunch of weight, and my running went on hold.

For the next two years, it was the same sort of story.  I would take long breaks between running, only to have a resurgence of motivation to go back on the treadmill or run along the Charles River.  I think I was finally in a good spot, health-wise, the summer of 2006, after freshman year.  I ran 3 to 5 miles a few times a week, and I was biking maybe 50 or 60 miles a week.  And I was eating!  Maybe not as well as I could have, but it was an improvement.  After that though, life got in the way, once more.  I found out I had cancer, blah blah, and I have spent the past two years after returning to Boston struggling to gain some consistency as a runner.  It has been very hard for me though, because I was sick so frequently over the past two years.  And then last year's face tumor?  Forget it.

But now, finally, after three years of ill-health, I am starting to feel like a normal person again.  I am very gradually building miles, very slowly increasing my weekly distance.  This time, however, while still partially weight-motivated, I am doing this because I want to.  I love running, tying up my shoes and taking off, not thinking about anything besides my breathing for at least a little while.  I want to be a Runner, and I think, maybe, possibly I can do it.  Maybe not ultras, not yet anyway.  Baby steps.  S0 here is my goal, out there on the Internet.  If anyone wants to help, please, do:

In one year, I want to run in the Chicago Marathon.  That is the first part.  The second, somewhat loftier goal: I want to qualify for the 2011 Boston Marathon.  Qualifying times for the 2010 Boston Marathon are 3 hours and 40 minutes-ish.  That means running about an 8 minute, 15 second mile for 26.2 miles.  I think I can do it.  I figure, since the 2010 Chicago Marathon is in exactly 12 months, if I give myself 6 months to build up my mileage, I can use the last 6 months to work on speed.  I want to do it, to say, Screw You, Cancer.  All I wanted, the whole time I was in treatment and for the last two years, was to feel healthy, to be able to run again.  So here I go; I can run again, and that damn disease ain't got nothing on me.  I hope.