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Fool me once . . .  shame on you.

Fool me twice . . .  shame on me.

I ran my second marathon today in Pittsburgh.  If you have never been to Pittsburgh, let me sum it up for you in one word:  HILLS.

There’s a Hill District.  There are the North Hills.  There are the South Hills.  Here a hill, there a hill, everywhere a hill hill.

I know it’s not possible to start at one elevation and end at the same elevation without equal amounts of going up and going down.

But I went up hill a lot more today than I went down.  I broke the laws of physics.  I don’t know how.  But I did.

Why did I run a second marathon?

Runners

The origin of the modern marathon is rooted in ancient Greek history.

In a nod to Greek history, the first marathon commemorated the run of the soldier Pheidippides from a battlefield near the town of Marathon, Greece, to Athens in 490 B.C.

Apparently stupidity “ran” rampant even in 490 B.C.  (See what I did there?)  And history apparently repeats itself.  I ran a second marathon.  Shame on me.

What is often forgotten in that historic legend is this:

Pheidippides ran the approximately 25 miles to announce the defeat of the Persians to some anxious Athenians. Not quite in mid-season shape, he delivered the message “Niki!” (Victory!) then keeled over and died.

He DIED!  I obviously trained better than he did, as I have survived.  Barely.  I am walking with a limp.  I’ve been having some Achilles tendon problems (another Greek myth/legend!  Damn those Greeks!  Damn them all to Hades!)  And like any obsessed devoted runner I more or less ignored it.  Most days the discomfort went away after 1-2 miles.  I didn’t rest, ice, compress or elevate.  I ran through the pain.  I loosened it up!

It does not feel loosened up after 26.2 miles. What the Frick in Pittsburgh was I thinking?!

My heel is angry with me.  It is punishing me.  I would kick it if I could but it hurts too much to do that.

Notes from the race:

Despite the pain, I finished in 4:17:59.  Good for 52nd place in the 50-54 division.  For what it’s worth, I ran in the Asics Gel Nimbus 19 today.  I ran in the Brooks Ghost 9 in Philadelphia.  Think I preferred the Brooks, but the data may be complicated by my Achilles issue.

There was a threat of rain but it never rained.  With an average temperature of 55 degrees and no burning sun, it was actually a great day to run.

With the threat of rain, however, I thought the crowd turn out was a little less than in recent years.  I didn’t actually count them, but it seemed like there were fewer people cheering me on.  The energy level just seemed more subdued.  Maybe I was distracted by my pain.

No really memorable signs along the way.  May the Course be with you.  Liked that.  The “If Donald Trump can run so can you” signs were out in full force.  It was funny.  Give it a rest.  Maybe you should tweak it . . . “If Donald Trump can WIN, so can you!”  Also, the “This is the worst parade ever!” and “Did you think they said RUM?” signs are a little passe.  One lady who I kept passing for some reason on and off–one of us was time warping–had a shirt that read “Have you hugged your lawyer today?”  I have not.

I’m not saying I will never run another marathon, but I may need to be senile to do that.

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You would think that with those long legs I would win every race!

Shadow

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I came across this advertisement on Facebook . . .

RunOver45
Seriously?  Are we supposed to think that runner is over 45?  I’m wondering if she’s even over 25!

And by the way, I am over 45, and I can run faster than a nine minute mile (especially if I am following her!)

I guess I should get the rate I deserve on life insurance!

And if you are over 45, you should probably ask your doctor if your heart is healthy enough to have running.

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The past week I had the opportunity to go running on Hilton Head Island, in the Sea Pines area mainly.  The weather was fantastic, although perhaps a bit more humid than one would choose for running.  After the winter we had in central PA, I will not complain about heat or humidity!

This was a typical view while running:

HiltonHead

The Sea Pines Resort area had an elaborate maze of biking/running trails that wound along the roadway system and golf courses.

Trails

This made running really enjoyable until . . . .

STOP

Thou shalt not pass! (DO NOT collect $200)

ARE YOU KIDDING ME?  A STOP sign for pedestrians?

STOPcloseup

Well!  Isn’t that special?!  Let’s give the benefit of the doubt and the right of way to the two ton death machine instead of the helpless pedestrian or biker.  Who came up with this idea?

As if that wasn’t bad enough, there were still thoughtful drivers who would come to a stop to allow bikes, runners and walkers to pass.  The problem was, the cars behind said Good Samaritan weren’t always ready to stop–they weren’t expecting it, especially if they were local and used to this cockamamie hierarchy of right-of-way privileges.  Worse yet, one lane of traffic would stop, which they didn’t have to, but the other lane wouldn’t.  This was problematic when a small child on a bike started forward  because the nearest lane stopped, not realizing the other lane wasn’t stopping.  I saw this happen numerous times.

I have to be honest.  I ran many of these STOP signs.  Literally.  Forgive me Father, for I have sinned.  A Hilton Head cop finally pulled me over.

I tried to explain.  “I slowed down officer.”

He wasn’t impressed.  “You were supposed to STOP.”

“But I slowed down, ” I protested.

He then pulled out his nightstick and started beating me.

As I’m writhing in pain, he asks, “So!  Do you want me to slow down, or do you want me to STOP?”

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Today, I participated in the Beaver Stadium Run sponsored by the Paterno family, with proceeds benefiting Special Olympics of Pennsylvania.  I was able to raise $1,450 to benefit Special Olympians.  Last year they raised over $400,000 but I do not know the total for this year.  As a result of my fundraising efforts, I was invited to a reception with Sue Paterno, Jay Paterno, Franco Harris, and Pat Chambers, who is Penn State’s basketball coach.  I know!  I didn’t even know we had a basketball team!  James Franklin wasn’t at the reception but he and his family were there for the race.

I'm in there somewhere!

I’m in there somewhere!  Maybe.  It’s last year’s photo.  I was there.

Anyway, after the Blue-White Game, a free football scrimmage that marks the end of Spring practice,  and the private reception they had accommodations at a hotel in State College for runners that wanted to stay overnight before the race.  I only live about 40-45 minutes away depending on how many cops are alongside the road, but the reception ran till 8:30, and the race was the following morning at 11:00.  I could save gas by not driving back and forth.  It seemed like a win-win situation for me and the environment to stay in the hotel.

Until one o’clock in the morning.

That’s when the smoke alarm in my room started to chirp every minute or so.  After listening to this for a few minutes, and quietly hoping it would just STOP, I got up and removed the battery.  Hey!  It’s not like I’m in an airplane bathroom here.  And it’s not because I wanted to smoke.  I just wanted to sleep!  I have a race to run the next day!

Finally, I called the front desk.  They came relatively quickly, although my room is physically as far away from the front desk as you can get.  They gave me a map to help me find where to park.  I had to stop and ask directions.  I was afraid I might need a passport, but fortunately, I did not cross any foreign borders on the way to my room.

They replaced the battery and . . . . silence.  They apologized profusely, and excused themselves.  I turned out the lights and tried to return to my racing dreams of crossing the finish line first to be congratulated by the entire Penn State cheerleading team . . . but I digress.

Within two minutes, the chirping resumes.  WTF?!

I again call to the front desk, but there is no answer.  I guess the two who made the Lewis and Clark journey to my room haven’t returned yet with Sacajawea.  So I listened to the bird chirping and wondered if it was a finch or a blue jay?  After finally contacting the front desk duo again, I waited for their arrival and let them in.

They played with the battery some more.  He thinks perhaps he put it in wrong.  (That’s what she said.)  She just seemed distressed or perhaps she knew the entire hotel was at risk because there was no one at the front desk right now.  She suggested cutting the electric wires to the unit–which makes you wonder why it needs any battery after all except as a backup for power outages and this seems like something that could wait until say, 10:00 the next day.  He asked her if she wanted to electrocute him.  She does not answer (but smiles.)  I was sensing some tension between these two.  Or I might just be TIRED!  He pushed a button to test the unit.  Long, loud chirp.  Okay, I am fully awake now!

Finally, the chirping stops and the two apologetically removed themselves from my room again.

Sleep at last!

I have set my phone alarm to go off at 8am.  I’m only 10 minutes from the race location, but I’m pretty sure I am gong to need to eat something, but I can’t run right after I eat something, so I figure three hours is a good compromise.

Unfortunately, the previous occupant of this fine hotel (“we’ve had no fire in 117,497 days!”) room set the alarm for 6 am.  And it dutifully awoke me at 6 am.

I should have just gone back home!

Humor aside, I don’t think it affected my performance.  Maybe the two beers I drank at the reception did.  Or the two creme filled donuts I had on Friday.  Or the double quarter-pounder with cheese and fries before the Blue White Game.

Whatever,  I did not win.  There were no cheerleaders.  It was only a dream.

But I did place 64th out of 1900 runners, and fifth in my age group (old farts.)  I beat my time from last year (22:43:82) with a new personal record of 20:59:01!

But I have to admit I was humbled a bit.  As we lined up before the race, they attempted to group people by how fast they run.  I moved to a point just ahead of the sign that read 7:00 to 8:00 pace (my official pace was 7:00!)  NAILED IT!  I stood near a young woman (and quite frankly, they all look young to me anymore except for my cataract patients.)  I find it helpful to have something to focus on while running.  She was wearing very short, very skin tight gray shorts, and a tank top.  She was very focused.  She would be the rabbit to my greyhound.

However, as the race started, she was more like a turbo charged super ninja rabbit on steroids, and was out of my sight before we reached the one mile mark.  I never saw her again.  I ate her dust.

Worse yet, the person in my age group that beat me out for third place and a possible medal (by 12 SECONDS) blew by me about 3/4 of a mile before the stadium.  I know this because my first thought when he went by me was, “that guy is old.”  He was.  Gray hair (not tight gray shorts) and everything.  He had on a gray T-shirt with words on the back.  “Ask your doctor if getting off your ass is right for you.”

This is what losers see.

This is what losers see.

The shirt distracted me.  Not the same way the gray pants did.  I had to think about this–it had words and humor and everything.  The shorts only had a Nike Swoosh.  (And that’s what they did.  Swoosh!)  Meanwhile, he’s sprinting ahead of me like I’m standing still.  I’m doing 8.57 miles per hour in a 7 mile per hour zone!  He only beat me by twelve seconds, but I never recovered from that shirt.

It had to be that shirt!

Although it might have been the smoke alarm keeping me up all night.

Or the donuts and beer.

Whatever.

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Like most runners, I like me a banana now and then.  I usually eat one every day.  It’s a nice quick snack between patients or surgeries that is actually good for me.

Now in all those years of carrying my banana to work with me, I have never had a serious banana incident.  Oh, I may have dropped it on the ground once or twice, but I don’t eat the outside anyway, so it’s not necessarily a problem.

Other people must have banana issues I am not aware of.

Fortunately, we have science.  Technology meets healthy snack in a new way:  THE BANANA BUNKER.

bunker

It seems Groupon marketed this product on their website with some hilarious reactions.  The basic problem here is that the protective banana bunker resembles something else . . .

Among the comments and Groupon’s responses:

Bunkercomments

Laugh if you will, but  they sold out.

So we must wonder now, is that a banana bunker in your pocket, or are you just happy to see us?

Don’t forget to sponsor me in the Beaver Stadium Run to benefit Special Olympics!  Thank you!

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Get it?  😕  Colon.  Oscopy.

I was really hoping to find some humor in this procedure.  This was my first colonoscopy.  Welcome to being 50!  It is like a right of passage.  I have read many stories over the years about this procedure.  Most of the horror surrounds “the prep,” which is a nice way of saying that Satan is coming down your colon with a supersoaker from hell.  And while that was mostly true, it was not as bad as I was expecting.

Granted, having to stay within 30 feet of the toilet for most of the night was not pleasant.  The time actually spent on the toilet was not pleasant.  I did get to play a lot of games on my iPad, so it wasn’t a total loss.

Here I sit and dream of glory, alone inside the lavatory.  (An obscure reference–leave me a comment if you know the source.)

Personally, I thought that drinking “the prep,” a concoction called Suprep that comes in two 6 ounce bottles of cherry flavored hell, was actually worse than getting rid of it.  I’m not a big fan of cherry to begin with, and that is probably a good thing.  My dad underwent a colonoscopy a number of years ago.  He mixed his prep at that time with Squirt, a citrus soda.  From that day on until the day he died, he could not bring himself to drink Squirt again.  And that name is kind of ironic, doncha think?

So if taking this prep turns me from cherry flavored anything, it is certainly not the end of the world.

It looks so innocent!

It looks so innocent!

And it was god awful.

Yeah, there was cherry.  With bitter undertones and a hint of maybe seltzer–or mineral water.  I think I detected some acetone or benzene, if my senses have not failed me from biochemistry.  The bouquet was nonexistent–it didn’t even smell like cherries.  And it was crystal clear, so you could almost convince yourself you were drinking water or vodka, until it actually touched a single taste bud on your tongue.

You see, you had to dilute this wonderful prep into 16 ounces of clear but vile crap that you must choke down before you have to run to the bathroom.  Twenty minutes.  That’s all it took.  And I had to down two more 16 ounce cups of water afterwards, or it would have sucked the water out of my brain.  I would have ended up a pile of dust floating in the toilet.  The beast had to be fed water.

So after choking down the cherry shit, alternating forced gulps with some coffee or white grape juice (you can’t drink anything with red or purple dye!) to try and save my taste buds, I then had to down 32 ounces of water over the next hour.  I’m not sure I drink that much water in a single day!  I drink–coffee, tea, soft drinks, wine, beer.  But only occasionally do I ever drink plain old water.

The first bottle came out explosively but without any accidents I am happy to report.  I did get baby wipes as recommended since toilet paper could be “irritating.”  By the time I was ready for bed, I was no longer living on the seat.

Unfortunately, bottle two had to be taken seven hours before my scheduled time, with another 32 ounces of water in the hour after that.  Then, no more liquids until after the procedure.  With a 9:00 appointment, I had to get up at 2:00 am to force another cherry jubilee down my esophagus, and through my intestines.

I was hoping that being half asleep, I wouldn’t mind the cherry crap so much.  I was wrong.  It was worse.  I have never drank gasoline, but if you throw some cherries in it, I imagine this is how it would taste.

Boom!  I’m back in the bathroom.  Cholera without the actual disease.

In the morning, I looked longingly at half a cup of coffee left over from the previous night’s escapades.  I carefully took a mouthful, swished it around my mouth to tantalize my taste buds and maybe absorb some through my mouth’s mucosa, before spitting it out in the sink.  I watched as the coffee went down the drain.  I was devastated.  But I didn’t drink anything!  I did not swallow!  (That’s what she said!)

So I arrive at 8:45, and I am back in the holding area with all my clothes off except for my socks, a hospital gown and a sheet to keep the young women from laughing at me, or at least, not laughing at that.  At 11:00 o’clock, they finally come to take me for the procedure.  Waiting that long was more irritating than the toilet paper.  And I’m a doctor!  There had better have been an exploding colon somewhere to delay me getting my damned coffee.

Anyway, I’m all ready to take notes about the actual procedure for this blog, to bring the colonoscopy experience alive for my readers my reader  the person who stumbled here by accident.  They ask me to lay on my left side.  And  . . .

Then I woke up.

Propofol

What a disappointment!  This is the closest thing to a sexual encounter I’ve had in years and I missed it!

And in case you care, my colon is just fine, thank you very much.  Not even a polyp.  Come back in 10 years.

And I finally got my coffee.

Seriously . . .March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month.  And if you are over 50, don’t be like dead-from-colon-cancer Rob Lowe–get DirecTV and a colonoscopy today.

ColorectalMarch

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