actually, i prefer pie. thanks.

This is EXACTLY how i’ve always thought of myself. Validation from the medical community is jut the icing on the cake.

Now i want cake. Please don’t tell the medical community.

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things i didn’t know

Things I learned this week:

  1. You can have a turkey trot on a day other than Thanksgiving. How is that even legal?
  2. Charlie Rose is a bad man. Crushed.
  3. The important running number isn’t your heart rate, it’s your blood pressure.

I’m hanging out with the cardiologist. He’s new to me and we’re on our first date. I’m quizzing him about how hard I can push my transplanted monkey heart without croaking. I explain how I calculated my max hr (death by hill repeats), what my aerobic zone is, threshold, max, and which ones I run in on various outings. I show him the HR data from Sunday’s race. Is it OK to be pushing 145 to 160 in the race, I ask him.

That depends, he says. What’s your blood pressure at the end?

Huh? I’ve never even considered this.

But I guess it makes sense. Blood pressure is the thing that will kill you. I always figured HR and BP were interchangeable, but maybe not. This is probably why it’s a good idea to see cardiologists. Plus you get a free sucker.

You have to take your BP as soon as you stop for it to be effective, he says. Set up at the finish line and start it the second you stop. That’s the number to worry about.

So today was Round 1. I set up my little monitor on the patio table and went out for 4 miles. I was careful to stay in the aerobic zone, no small feat these days. Much strolling and a little trotting. Consistent 124-130. I come home, hold steady right up till I sit down, and then hit start.

Much concern for the 30 seconds it does its little thing. He says 180 is the highest I should ever go. If I’m pushing harder than that, all bets are off. Not that anyone is wagering on my daily run.

The little readout starts to drop and drop and drop and drop. I’m very anxious. Will that add to the number? What am I going to do if it shows 200? Stop altogether? Lie to the cardiologist forever? Abandon (gasp) my turkey trot?

And then it shows my number. 144/76. Perfect. Assuming this holds up, I have plenty of room to suffer terribly and still stay in the safe zone.

Downside: Suffering terribly.

He says I can max out every now and then, which I interpret to be twice a week. Now being tomorrow, and then being Saturday. So I’ll play the game again tomorrow after pushing.

Lordy, I love the lottery. You can’t win if you don’t play.

p.s. dammit, charlie rose. just dammit.

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things i wish i had said, part 1

“When you retire from being a pro runner after 12 years, you will be surprised at what ends up being most valuable to you. Your medals will be in a box somewhere, and you’ll never look at them. Your proudest accomplishment will be a race in which you finished last because in that race you were tested more than ever and you were brave.”
— Lauren Fleshman in a letter to her high school self

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my conversation with the cardiologist

cardiologist: Why are you here?

me: I want to know if it’s OK to run.

cardiologist: blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah.

me: Um, OK. So it is OK for me to run?

cardiologist: yes.

me: Is it OK to totally max out my heart once a week?

cardiologist: blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah.

me: Um, OK. So it is OK for me to totally max out my heart once a week?

cardiologist: yes.

me: OK, thanks. see ya.

I think I know how visits to the cardiologist could be a lot shorter.


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finish lines

They say timing is everything. But really, it’s not. It’s all about finishing.

I’ve just completed Round 1 in the Year of Fleshman©. It was a course on the canal that I ran once in a previous life. Out and back, dirt, flat, not much to it. Sorta like running back on the Corpus course without the pelicans.

It’s odd. As I plod toward the turnaround, I watch the first guy on the way back, then the second, then a bunch, and then everyone. And then me. But that’s OK. I’m somewhere between threshold and death on the HR, alternating between a trot and a stroll and an untimely death. It’s a good, honest effort, a baseline to see if I can get faster. 40:13, a 13:11 pace with a 146 hr. I’m OK with it.

I cross the finish, collect my 30-pound finisher’s medal (what the hell is it with 5k medals these days?) and hang around. They have bagels with peanut butter, which probably violates the KRG code, but they’re good, in a creepy smooth peanut butter way. And if they’re not from Brooklyn, they’re just bread with a hole anyhow. Might as well deface them.

I marvel at the old guy in the Spider Man costume. You have to be fast to run in a Spider Man costume. He is. I bask in the warm, fuzzy feeling of a small race, that camaraderie of a virtual community for an hour or so on a cool Saturday morning. I hang out at the waterfall. Who knew we had a waterfall? And then I meander back to the finish line to watch the last peeps come in.

And there he is.

A mom has been running with a baby stroller, pushing a kid who does not have her own bib and therefore I assume is a bandit. AND the kid is in front of the woman, which must mean she has been pacing her the entire race. As I’m about to lodge an Official Protest, her husband meets her about 30 yards from the finish line with her son.

He’s just your average kid — tiny jogging suit, cool running shoes, big smile, goofy haircut. He has Down syndrome, but he doesn’t much care at the moment. Dad lets him go, and he runs out to greet Mom. She takes his hand and they run in together. It’s a short race, but he owns it. He’s so damn excited to be running. He trots triumphantly over the finish line. Hugs all around. He finished his own little race. The crabby old introvert’s heart melts for the millionth time.

You don’t get to choose your cards in life; you can only play the hand you’re dealt. A speedster in a Spider Man suit, an old guy with a failing heart, a kid with a lifetime of challenges ahead of him. In the end, the time doesn’t matter. All that matters is making it to the finish line the best you can. And he did. We all did.

Good race, kid.

But I’m still reporting your sister for banditing.

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bluetooth earbud yin yang

Yin: Bluetooth earbuds completely block out the frantic warnings of cyclists coming up behind you, even while the cyclists can’t see that you’re wearing headphones and therefore have no idea you don’t know they’re coming.

Yang: Soundgarden.

Verdict: Totally worth it. There are worse ways to die.


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but not mint chocolate chip. that’s just wrong.

“Without ice cream, there would be darkness and chaos,” the prophet Don Kardong once said.

I think about that a lot. With all the running advice in the world — high mileage, low mileage, intensity, best time of day, mayo on pizza, cross-training vs. rest, how many days a week, singles vs. doubles, galloway vs. daniels vs. pfitzinger vs. higdon — Mr. Kardong was able to sum up the key to running, and life, in nine words. Pie sold separately.

I always held this philosophy of running to be an unquestionable fact. But lately I look around. My running sucks. I continue to get slower despite working harder. And the nation is worse. Twitter is a daily torture filled with new revelations, another set of heroes shattered, the rants of a crazy man who could lead to our demise before I am able to attend my pricey series of $35 races. The world is falling apart as we watch in real time. Darkness and chaos prevail. Could he have been wrong?

But then I remember the OTHER key to running: Adaptation ot training to changing circumstances. Sometimes it just takes an adjustment to the formula.

All we need is more ice cream. Lots and lots and lots more ice cream. It’s on like Donkey Kardong. Sorry. I hope there’s a loophole for the Medium Chocolate Frosty.

Thanks for the scoop, Mr. Kardong. I wish Bloomsday wasn’t so far away.

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