November 21, 2008

Mites are Back

I think Syranji the boa has mites again... I fed him his weekly rat this morning then checked on him an hour later. The rat was still running around, so I got worried. A close look at Syranji's scales and I can see them - black, pin-head sized moving thingies.

When I discovered mites a couple months ago I had to figure out what the heck they were and what the heck to do about them. I itched just looking at them.

I gave him daily baths in a water cooler full of warm water daily for 3 days. Each bath was supposed to last for at least 20 minutes, and I had to hold the snake and scrub it the whole time. My initial hesitancy about handling him was forced to disappear.

And I emptied out his cage, baked his rocks, and cleaned the cage with bleach daily for 3 days too.

And now they are back...

On another subject, I've started swimming somewhat regularly again. Its funny that it seems I can not swim for months and then pick up right where I left off. Same speed (or lack thereof), same endurance. Maybe its that I swim so damn slow that a few months off just can't make me any slower.

The weather has been cool for the last week. Lows in the high 20s and highs in the 40s. I've managed a couple cold weather runs that would make Stronger proud. A new section of trail opened in the park adjacent to my house, and I discovered another mile of trail that I think was already there but I didn't know about. That's made the park loop somewhere around 5 miles and a lot more fun to run.

I still haven't pulled the bike out. I haven't ridden it since my last century in August, and now that its cold I don't think I'll be on the road anytime soon. I'm hopeful to at least start back on the trainer within the next couple weeks.

Then, if all goes well, I'll start a more formal training regimen when we get back from Tahoe in January...

That's all for now. Thanks for joining me for my daily spin...

November 13, 2008

November 7, 2008

Back in the game...

I haven't felt much triathlon motivation since I was denied entrt to the Redman Iron distance race in September. I had no idea the race closed weeks before the start despite not capping. I had even told some friends that I might move on to something new, a challenge of a different sort.
I ran the Air Force Marathon in September, and I ran a couple local 5 ks in October. I had age group podium finishes in the 5ks so I was feeling pretty good about that.
I thought maybe I would focus on running primarily... Then one of my old bosses JK's training for this month's IM Arizona got me a little inspired. And then I swam today...
It was my first swim since August, and it was only 1000 yards. But it was enough to remind me that I like to swim...
And yea, I like to run... And yea, I like to bike...
And know what? There is absolutely nothing that compares to the satisfaction you get when you cross the finish line after racing 140.6 miles in 1 day.
So I visited my old friend and looked for any races that weren't already capped. And what do you know? The race closest to me, IM Louisville, had spots. And with it being in August, that gives my slacker-ass plenty of time to train and procrastinate and still be ready to rumble come raceday.
So I forked over the ridiculous $525 entry fee...
And it feels damn good to be back in the game...

November 4, 2008

November 3, 2008


The kids and I went to the Moss Rock Art Festival Saturday, intending to enjoy perfect temps and azure skies. We did, but we also walked away with 3 pieces of art, the most substantial being this painting by local artist Edna Hodgens called Reflecting. Isn't she beautiful???


But I do know, really, why he didn't come.

It's one of the things that keeps me distant from any significant others I've had since I divorced. Once you establish new respobsibilities with another person, once you are committed, once you have created this new family, you lose the flexibility of the unattached.

If I were to marry again, would I be able to follow E and J if they needed to move away? It's possible, but the scenario scares the crap out of me. I can imagine being remarried and they move, and I feel obligated to stay where I am because of this new partner and potential new family that has developed family roots where we are.

If I stay unattached, then I can always go anywhere my kids are. My profession is highly flexible; I can easily work anywhere in the USA and make plenty of money.

And Dad, he already had formed that new attachment in the form of Cheryl, and her daughter (who he eventually adopted) Terri. So he was stuck where he was, whether he wanted to follow or not...

I don't know if I want to face that...


October 29, 2008


I'm hurting...

The last time I remember having a face-contorted eyes swollen rivers of salty tears cry was after Emily and I walked out of the lawyer's office and sat in the Pilot and cried together over the finality of divorce. 2005.

Today it happened, and again I was in a truck. This time not one I had just given away, fortunately...

I was driving home from Barnes and Noble after a cup of coffee while reading Donald Miller's To Own a Dragon when it happened. Oh I've felt it coming, and I knew it would happen soon.

For weeks now, maybe the last few months, I've been pining for my dad. This happens occasionally, once or twice a year, but this time I've been feeling it stronger than ever.

It's been 12 years since he left us. That 5 am phone call from Uncle Clancy is still as fresh as this morning...

"You've gotta be kidding me" I tried, but
"No, DV, I wouldn't kid you about something like this."

It was the first phone call I had ever gotten from Clancy. The entire call only lasted maybe 2 or 3 minutes and that was it, he was gone. Emily was there with me when he called. My dad had met her once or twice over the few years we had been dating. [that he had met Emily give me some solace in that it's the only way my dad would know the other contributer to the grandkids I hadn't yet had, and maybe that would mean he had in a way known them somehow. If only they could know him...]

I was 21 and was supposed to start the first day of my second year of med school the day he died. I took a few days off to be around his family, my family, and help sort through his painfully few worldly possessions. And I moved on, not realizing that I was numb and would be for years... Maybe I still am.

Tonight I realized how much of my dad I didn't have, I don't have. The summer I turned 9 we moved 200 miles away from him. 167 miles to be exact, at least according to the sign just outside of town that I would read every other weekend when I would ride the Greyhound bus alone to be with him.

I still am not sure why we had to move away. I never really questioned it, and even now I don't think I want to know. I know my mom had a boyfriend whose family was close to where we moved, and we moved in with him. He later would become my step-dad; still is 25 years later... I believe I would have had more of my dad if we hadn't moved, and I'm pretty sure that would have been a positive thing although how could I know for sure? We moved, I left my dad, he couldn't come (why couldn't he move too, anyway?), and I grew up taking once or twice a month bus trips.

I came out of it an ok person, I just miss my dad... A lot.

October 10, 2008


The Joker doesn't stand a chance...

August 6, 2008

Mts Elbert and LaPlata

I needed some solo time, and usually the only way for that to happen is for me to leave town.

So, with that in mind, I rode the Covington Century outside of Atlanta on Saturday. I cut it short by 9 miles and made it the Covington 91 miler because the century moniker could have described the distance OR the mercury. Including rest stops and a 10 minute late start I was on the course for 6 hours and drank 7 x 30 ounce bottles of either powerade or water without peeing a single time. I was tortured...

After the ride I went immediately to the airport - salt crystals on my skin and all - and hopped on a flight to Denver. I crashed at a nasty rent-a-room just west of the city for a check in to check out total of 6 hours before my 4 am departure to Mt Elbert outside Leadville, Colorado.

Ever since Stronger re-introduced me to the mountains last year, I've been thinking about tackling some of the 14ers. Mt Elbert is the tallest 14 er in Colorado (14440 feet), the highest point of the Rocky Mountains, and the 2nd highest point in the lower 48 states. So, of course, I had to hit the tallest first - that's just the way I roll...

After stopping for breakfast and a couple wrong turns I finally made it to the trailhead about 0830. I threw everything into my pack and hurried out, a bit worried about my late start.

All of the guidebooks suggest being off the mountain by noon because of the prevalence of nasty weather after that. By nasty weather, we're talking hail and lightning and high winds. An 0830 start is definitely on the late side, but bad weather wouldn't be my biggest enemy on this climb...

My route up would cover 4.5 miles and a 4800 foot elevation gain, then a turnaround back down. The first couple miles my legs were feeling a little lethargic but I was making quick progress and passed a lot of people that had started earlier.

But when I got to about 13000 feet, still with more than a mile to go, I started spinning occasionally. Now I don't know about you, but feeling dizzy and spinning on a steep ridge at 13000 feet is about the last thing I want to be feeling. I rationalized, and convinced myself it was only happening after I looked up. Just some positional vertigo maybe...

I kept climbing, slower and slower. It had crept into afternoon when a descending hiker pointed out dark clouds north and warned of a storm in about an hour. But I couldn't stop... Wouldn't stop...

I started getting a headache. I rationalized it was because of the backpack pulling at my shoulders. I noticed I was staggering every once in a while, but surely it was just my legs being fatigued from the climb and the 91 miles yesterday. I kept on...

Finally after 4 1/2 hours on the trail I reached the summit of Mt Elbert! I sat at the top for a few minutes and lamented having forgotten my camera in the rush to get on the trail. I wastched a couple others carve their names into the flagpole at the top.

But more than anything, I thought about how awful I felt. Headache, exhausted legs, still dizzy even though I was sitting down, and starting to feel nauseated. I tried to eat a Clif bar at the top, but after 1 bite realized it wasn't going to stay down so repacked it.

The weather had turned nasty. It was thundering with heavy wind gusts and light rain. Throw the wind in with the cold temps at the top (there was still snow!) and me without a jacket or shell (just shorts and a t shirt, silly me...) and I was cold cold cold.

So I started to descend. I walk/jogged for a little while until I was well below tree-line, then slowed to a less urgent pace. I made it back to the trailhead just under 6 hours.

I got in the rental car and cranked the heater to high, then drove a short way to the first store I came to in Leadville to get some tylenol and a yoohoo. I took the tylenol, then sat in the car with the heater blasting for several minutes before I felt like I could drive anymore. I was so incredibly fatigued and sleepy.

I drove the last 5 or so miles into downtown Leadville only to discover that the streets were all closed due to the Boom Days festival. I had to park several blocks from the Delaware Hotel where I needed to check in.

I honestly wasn't sure if I could walk from the car to the hotel, so I sat -heater still blasting even though it was in the high 60s - for 10 or 15 minutes. I contemplated letting myself go to sleep, but knew that wasn't a good idea.

Finally I made it out of the car and to the hotel, got to my room, checked in with the only person in the world who had any clue where I was, and then went to sleep in my wet dirty clothes. I woke up an hour later feeling a little better and starved.

I wandered onto the street and found myself at the Golden Burro for a barbeque bacon cheeseburger and boston cream pie. I felt great for a little bit while I was eating, but as soon as I got back to the hotel I fell asleep again for the next 12 hours. Yep, 12 whole hours!

I woke the next morning and felt great! No headache, no fatigue, not even sore legs. I ate some breakfast at the hotel and then headed to the La Plata trailhead to climb Mt LaPlata.

Mt LaPlata at 14336 feet is the 5th highest in Colorado. I was better prepared for LaPlata, and even remembered my camera (and realized I had it... It turned out that my camera was in my pack while climbing Elbert but I was too disoriented to realized it...)

Now that I had checked off Elbert, I was much more relzed on LaPlata. I meandered, took photos of flowers, and felt no pressure to push myself.

But I felt great, and I loved the isolation at LaPlata. In fact, unlike Elbert I didn't see a single other person while ascending or descending. My route up called for just under 5 miles and between 4500 and 5000 feet of elevation gain. I climber to a little over 13000 feet - a little up the ridge - before the dark clouds started getting closed and I turned back, content.

It rained and thundered for most of my descent, but I was just happy to feel so good compared to the day prior.

After getting back to the trailhead, I drove east on 82 to Twin Lakes and hopped on the Colorado trail for a run. My 6 mile run took me to the old Interlaken Hotel, a now-abandoned Victorian resort hotel from the late 1800s that can only be accessed by singletrack trail.

Later I wandered around the city, explored the wild west history,

and then caught up on some reading... The next morning ( yesterday) I travelled back home.

I obviously realize now that I was altitude sick. I think I knew it at the time I was climbing Elbert (I had come from near sea level to 14440 feet in less than 24 hours), but I was too proud to succomb. I made it, but I was being stupid. Pride is the kind of thing that gets you hurt or killed... Everything came out ok, but I hopefully won't make the same mistake again.

Thanks for joining me for my daily spin...

June 16, 2008



It hasn't happened too many times - when one of my kids says something that makes me pause, gaze at them in awe and feel my eyes start to water. It's when you know that they have experienced something that will stay with them, has affeected them, has moved them... And consequently me. Pure joy...

It's like a couple years ago when we were driving through Virginia on the last leg of a 2500 mile road trip and Anna, the only kid still awake, out of the blue says "Daddy, are we in heaven yet?" and my first and only response was "No baby, but I'm about as close to heaven as I'll ever be ..."

The latest came Saturday from Emma, my 8 year old, on the last night of our week at Sandestin. It was about 9 o'clock, the sky was cloudless and the moon was nearly round. We were alternating between the hot tub and the pool in about 5 minute intervals. We had been talking about all of the fun things we had done last week...

Like spending countless hours net-fishing on the shore, catching tons of little minnows and walking starfish and tiny round jellyfish... Like riding our bikes all over Sandestin, through the tunnel and around the joggers (sometimes over the joggers, right Aidan?), learning little things like it's not always as easy as it looks to get back on the sidewalk after your wheels get in the grass...

Like walking on the pier and spying the raccoon, then feeding the fish and gazing at the yachts... Like Aidan falling asleep sitting upright at the table at Hammerheads during dinner... Like playing with our friends Mike and Reese and Hilary, and Reese being too scared to get in the trunk...

Like Emma winning the prize money for doing the most back flips (18) on the harnessed trampoline... Like Aidan jumping into the deep end then realizing that he couldn't touch, or swim, and me running from the far end of the pool to rescue him after he was under for what seemed like forever (although probably just 7 or 8 seconds...)...

Like the old truck parked for decoration by the ice cream shop that Aidan and Anna played in for hours on end... Like our favorite dockside table at our favorite pizza restaraunt, Robertos, and the giant fish the kid caught from right by our table while we were eating... Like chasing lizards, and frogs, and of course fish and crabs, and squirrels and ducks (at Beef O Bradys), and our pet-for-the-week Gary the snail...

Know what? I wish it would never end too...

Thanks for reading My Daily Spin...

June 2, 2008

Bump N Grind XIV

The day started with a wake=up at 0505. As soon as I looked at the clock I was excited to get up - none of that snooze button and roll over stuff. I hopped out of bed and started gathering my things for my first bike race, the 14th annual Bump and Grind.

I got the race site at Oak Mountain about 0630. After parking I registered, then got my gear ready. I rode about 20 minutes on the road for a warm-up, and then made my way back to the starting line to watch the Junior Olympic categoryies start. Just a few minutes later they called for my group!

I was a little nervous about the start. The marshall herded us all to the front, and there were 5 across in the narrow chute. For the final minute before the start all I could think about was all 5 of us trying to get clipped in and running into each other and falling down.


I paused about a half a second to let the guys around me get just a little ahead to avoid the envisioned fall. It worked great! I got clipped in and within a few hundred yards had zipped into second place. The first half mile or so was on pavement and the remainder was singletrack. I stuck about 20 feet behind the leader on the pavement, but once the singletrack started I lost sight of him pretty quick.

This 2 loop course gains most of its elevation on the first 1/3 of the loop, and I was huffing and puffing before I got to the downhill! The intensity was way high, and I was happy to be done with the climbing for awhile and head back down. Close to the end of the first loop I was passed for the only time on the course and dropped back to second.

This wasn't a technical mt bike course, thank goodness, and only had a couple log jumps a 2 sections of downhill rock steps. The rock steps would have intimidated me if I hadn't rode the course several times prior.

I held my own in 3rd for the 2nd lap, and finished in 3rd place. 2nd was about 45 secondes ahead of me and 1st about 3 minutes ahead. Ok, there were only 5 riders in my division and one DNF'ed, but it's still 3rd, right? Ha!

This race was a lot of fun, and I definitely would do it again. If I do it again, I need to actually ride my mt bike more than a couple times a month to be competitive. But ya know, I don't think I necessarily need to be competitive. As long as I'm having fun, right?

Thanks for joining me for My Daily Spin...

May 13, 2008


It's happening...

I can feel it...




On training success

And pain free running...

Each time I run I feel incredible, and I don't want to stop don't want it to end. But I make it stop, nothing more than 30 minutes at a time still - but next week I get to stretch 30 to 45 one day a week - because I'm demanding of myself patience, patience, patience in building the way a build is supposed be built - slow like the overnight shift with more doctors than patients...

Chicago, from the 80s - yea, it makes me feel old... "You don't know what you've got, until its gone, and i found out just a little too late..." I appreciate painfree running more than ever right now - almost the best sensation I can imagine... (almost...)

Speaking of old, my patients never know how old I am. I inevitably am told still that I look young for a doc, and I typically ignore the comments or brush them aside with a "I don't feel very young for a doc though" retort. Couple nights ago I'm sewing up the forehead of the latest Club Platinum beer bottle to the head victim when she says "You look young, how old are you?" "Oh, I'm plenty old" I said back. "How old are you, like 38?" I chuckled and said "Something like that" to which she responded "No, I bet you're 42..." "No no, why don't you stick with your first guess, I like that a lot better..."

Maybe I don't look as young as I feel like I look anymore...

Thanks for joining me for My Daily Spin...

May 8, 2008


Declaration #1: I will eat No Cake until after my next iron distance triathlon.

Now I have even more reason to get off my lazy butt and get 'er done.

Couple of race options in September. Great Illini????

May 6, 2008

Talkin Bump n Grind

So I'm racing the Bump 'n Grind XIV in a few weeks, and I'm getting a little worried. Why I am worried?

I've never mt bike raced before. Well, I actually have never bike raced period, mt bike or road or bmx or anything. Sure, I've ridden a fair amount over the years and obviously completed the bike portion of duathon and triathlon races, but I've never raced a bike race.

If you follow the link to the race site and look at race results from previous years, you'll notice that my division, which is Sport 30-34 male, the winning time last year was 1:12:45. Now I've ridden this 17 mile course many times over the last couple months, and I only once finished less than 1:30. That would put me better than last place, but not much better. I don't like finishing close to last.

Yesterday I decided to do 2 loops on the course, which I've never done. It didn't work out too well. I was thinking about my legs burning and lost my focus. Losing your focus on a trail in my experience predicts a nasty crash about 90% of the time, and yesterday was no different. I went down hard on a rocky section, and my day was done 3 or 4 miles into the 2nd loop.

I've started running more again after minimal to no running since mid January. So far nothing is hurting much, although I feel incredibly tight. 30 minutes Sunday went well, so I'll try another 30 today.

Hopefully, if all goes well, I'll be able to resume more regular tri training soon... God knows I need it, physically and definitely mentally...

Thanks for joining me for My Daily Spin...

April 26, 2008

March 24, 2008


I give you so much of me, more than I ever expected I would want to, or be able to give.

You have my daylight, and I give my moonlight so that I can give you your dreams.

Soccer, and ballet, and gymnastics, and school, and races... Playgrounds and bookstores and libraries and swimming and boy's days and prayertimes... Homework before you can play, and lima beans before another piece of bread...

One look at you and it's obvious; I am in you. But you too, are in me. In all that I do, and all that I want... Inseparable.

I haven't given you the easiest path, and God knows I don't do things right a lot of the time. But there's not a day I breathe that you aren't with me.

I love you.

March 1, 2008

A Race and A Brick

This morning I ran the Knights of Columbus 5k in Birmingham. I should start by saying that I felt great going into this race. My legs were fresh - ha, maybe too fresh considering they only had an hour of running in the last 6 weeks. And I felt skinny. Now I know this sounds like a chic thing to say, but I guess the last few days I had been eating a little less than normal and a little more healthy than normal, and it made me feel - well, skinny.

Anyway, I woke up at 653 and walked the dogs, then ate my mini-bagel and banana, and then fed the dogs. Grrr, the dogs. Mars is, well, in the doghouse. So they are eating their food and Mars walks to the front door and poops on the hardwood. They NEVER do that! So he and I had words, and I the day was not starting out good.

I got to the race in a little bit of a hurry after being delayed by the clean-up. I registered and did a warm-up mile, and then got in line to pee. After waiting for a few minutes they called the runners to the start line, so no pee. Didn't really become an issue, but it still would have been nice to go!

I positioned myself on the 3rd or 4th row of people and the gun sounded. I quickly made my way to the front in the 2nd pack. The lead pack of 5 was about 50 yards ahead by 1/2 mile, and our pack of 6 was another 50 or so yards ahead of the next group. By the 1 mile marker, our pack was spread out and the lead pack was about 100 yards ahead of me. My watch said 5:53.

Now my goal was 6:25 pace, and when I saw 5:53 I knew I had blown the race. I was breathing pretty hard and I knew my legs would start to feel heavy soon. I slowed the pace while trying not to wither completely.

No one was passing me, so I still felt good about things and knew I was still close to or in the top 10. The 2nd mile came at 12:52 and I knew a sub 20 was now out of the question. Now I would just try to salvage race positions.

The 3rd mile had a longish gradual incline that seemed to slow me even more, but I was trying so hard to keep my legs turning over as fast as possible. I got to what I recognized as the last few straights and checked my watch - 18:10, but I wasn't sure exactly how far was left. 2 people passed me in the last half mile, the only 2 that passed me the whole race.

I crossed the line in 20:38, 14 seconds/mile slower than what I needed. So, once again, pacing is everything!! I think the 6 weeks off to recover from the broken heelbone didn't really affect my speed or aerobic ability too much - I did tons of cross training and flexibility/strength stuff to try to maintain that. But it definitely affected my ability to race smart and know how fast I was running.

After the race I was surprised to learn I had finished 1st in my age group, and 12th overall. Not sure how many total racers there were - I'd guess around a hundred. I even got a spiffy plaque to take home, my first real award for running!

I went home after the race, took the dogs to the park to play, and then loaded my bike in the SUV. I drove about 75 minutes to Weaver, the start of the Chief Ladiga Trail. This is a rails to trails success story, a 33 mile paved trail in eastern Alabama that (hopefully) will extend further into Georgia soon and become even longer.

I rode 25 miles out in 1:12, and then cruised back in 1:30. I then topped the 50 mile bike with a 1 mile run to officially make it a brick and then I called it a day.

Riding the trail was extraordinarily nice. I especially appreciate not having to constantly wonder if a car is about to mow you over. And although there were several road crossings, I never had to come to a complete stop to wait for traffic - I was able to pedal the entire time.

Rails to trails rocks!

Next week I travel to western Alabama for the Camp Partlow Duathlon, a 2m/17m/2m race and my first multisport race of the year! Woohoo!

Thanks for joining me for My Daily Spin...

February 26, 2008

Back on My Feet

I'm running again!!

Yesterday I ran for the first time since the RNRAZ half marathon, which I suffered through with a stress fractured calcaneous. I ran on the Trussville sports park trails for about 3 miles with my pup Max.

I felt great. I felt so good that I don't think I'll suffer any significant setbacks from the 6 weeks off. Max was impressive, running right alongside me and NOT tripping me the entire time!

I'm jumping right back into the racing scene with the Knights of Columbus 5k on Saturday. Maybe this will be the right time for that elusive sub 20.

So I read an article about Functional Threshold Power testing on the bike last night and tried to test mine this afternoon. I wasn't sure what power to set the computrainer to, so I picked 230 watts. Last season I was using 230 watts for my 3 minute intervals. Today I worked my ass off to pull 230 for the whole hour but I did it and survived. So for now, for what it's worth, I'm calling my FTP 230 watts.

After the FTP session I trekked to the pool with plans to cover 3000 yards. HA! I think the biking tapped most of my energy because after a fast 1000 to start, I was toast. I pulled up and did a few 200s and I was done.

I think I'm going to do a mile time trial later this week and see where I stand. Last year early season I made a goal of a 30 minute mile and never was able to reach it, but I feel like I can do it right now. We'll see...

Thanks for joining me for My Daily Spin...

February 20, 2008

God, Jesus, and Elvis

The kids and I rode past a cemetary on the way home from the bookstore yesterday. Tess noticed a group of perople gathered and asked why they were all standing there.

I explained, "Well, when people die sometimes they are buried. And that's called a grave..."

She then picked it up, "Oh and their families can come and see them whenever they want."

"Right, you got it."

"Well, Daddy," she continued further, "Who was the first person to die in the whole world?"

"In the whole world?"


"Well, Tess, I'm not sure..."

Then Emma chimed in, "Was it God?"

"Well, no, because God is still alive and he's all around us."

Tess asked "Was it Jesus?"

"Well, Tess, Jesus did die but then he came back to life."

Then Anna, sweet sweet Anna, asked "Well was it Elvis???"

God, Jesus, and Elvis... We laughed all the way home.

February 18, 2008

Season Planning

9000 yards swimming in the last 7 days is the highest one week volume ever for me. This week is bike concentration. I'm starting to plot out the race season. I know it will include the Spokes for Strokes Century on March 16. It definitely will include the Powerman or Whistlestop Duathlon in April, the Bolder Boulder 10k on Memorial Day, and the 24 Hours of Triathlon in August. I think it will also include the Gulf Coast Tri Half Iron in May. I'm still not sure about IM CDA; it will cost me about 1500 to get an entry this late and having a little trouble stomaching the fee while trying to eliminate/pare down debt. Too bad Dave Ramsay doesn't have an envelope for IM fees...

February 7, 2008

Boys Will be Boys

I let Mars and Max roam free in my unfenced backyard to play with their friend Bowser from the house next door. They played merrily for about 45 minutes before they decided to venture into the woods behind my house. I went after them, but they were quickly out of sight.

I stayed in the yard, whistled, called their names (as if they respond to them...), and waited. Bowser has roamed free through the neighborhood for the last 3 years. Several times before he has followed the kids and I onto the trails, left us after a couple of mile, and then wandered back home sometime later. He always explores, and he hasn't gone missing. So I wasn't too concerned initially because I knew Bowser could lead my boys home.

So I waited about 15 minutes, although it seemed like hours. I had all 4 kids of my kids plus 1 extra with me at home; I couldn't just leave them to go chase dogs. But I cou;dn't just let my almost 6 month old puppies disappear either. So I herded the kids inside, threatened to withold dinner for anyone that left the house before I returned, and started hiking the trails to find the dogs. I made a quick 1 mile loop with no sightings. I looked down over the sports fields. Nothing.

I returned home dejected. I didn't know what to do, and I didn't want to just sit and hope they might find their way home. I loaded the kids into the truck and we went searching. We drove around for about 15 minutes, but no luck. I was beginning to think I'd never see my boys again...

We returned home, resigned to a dogless fate. I felt awful. I just adopted these dogs from the shelter 3 weeks ago. I have been given the responsibility to love and shelter and feed and care for them, and I lose them in less than a month.

We got back home and the kids went to the backyard to play and - THERE THEY WERE!!! Right where they had left from more than an hour prior. Except they were soaking wet, as was Bowser, and Max had lost his leash (both dogs were still leashed when they left). I'm guessing they must have ventured to the Cahaba River, about a mile away through the woods, to go for a swim.

Well, I guess all is well that ends well.... Those boys...

February 3, 2008

Ironman Switzerland 2007 Photos

I finally ordered my photos from Zurich, so here they are...

Progress, and Sick?

I've been on the bike and in the pool more the last week. Total time not that impressive, but I feel like progress is being made. I'm slowly upping my sustained watts on the computrainer. Last year at this time I was doing 5 minute intervals with 170 watts, now I'm riding 175 indefinitely. Gotta love that!

I don't think I ever appreciated the cumulative benefit of training that you get from multiple consecutive years of training until this month. I've been swimming since July of 2006, with the exception of a couple months off in November and December. It's always been a struggle for me, and I was afraid the couple of months off would put me back at square one. NOT! The yards just flow by so easily it's amazing. I can push hard and then take rests by swimming with an easier stroke without having to grab the wall and gasp. Yesterday I stopped at 1000 yards - my shortest swim this in 2008 - because of a headache and feeling kind of pooped after a trainer ride.

Speaking of headache, I think I might be starting to get sick. I was watching UAB crush Marshall in basketball at Bartow Arena last night when I felt the first hint of a scratchy throat. That plus yesterday's headache and a little more achiness today than I can explain away with training soreness leaves me concerned that I'm about to get hit hard with flu-like stuff. YUCK! But I should expect it. I mean, the last couple of weeks in the ER probably half of the people I've treated had the flu. It's hitting us big-time this year, so watch out!

Until next time, thanks for joining me for My Daily Spin.

January 28, 2008

As Good as Can Be Expected

His last words spoken were "How's it lookin' doc?"

I responded, after a few seconds hesitation trying to summon the most appropriate thing to say to a man who likely would be dead within a few hours, "Well, I guess as good as can be expected..." And then I took his hand, gave it another squeeze, and he drifted off into that unconscious abyss between life and death.

He was 72. It seems appropriate to say only 72, because I think he should have lived much longer. He never smoked, or drank too much, he fought in wars and represented his people in the political arena. He had a colonoscopy every 5 years and a PSA annually. He took his pneumovax and routine flu shots. He did everything he was supposed to do.

Then again, he was 72. To me, that still seems old. It's more than 20 years longer than my dad lived, and almost 20 years longer than my dad's dad. But this guy had none of my family's bad genes, or bad habits for that matter.

This was the first time I had met him. He was lying on an ER gurney, gasping for breath but not particularly anxious or panicky. He was alone.

Three months prior he had gotten up to pee in the middle of the night and passed out. A doctor's visit followed the next day, and an xray led to a biopsy which showed metastatic lung cancer. He was given a prognosis of 6 months to live. Chemo and radiation wouldn't help him, and the cancer was too extensive to remove surgically. But he told me he never believed them; he thought he would beat it somehow.

For 3 months he toiled along, occasionally having some trouble breathing and coughing a little more, but doing reasonably well. No more doctor visits. No hospitalizations. He didn't tell his family - "didn't want to get them in a worry about nothing" he said.

But the night he came to my ER he started having a harder time breathing. He stayed home struggling for most of the night but when he collapsed to the floor in the bathroom and slammed his right chest into the commode he couldn't stand the pain and was having even more trouble breathing. When he arrived by ambulance about 4 am he was on a 100% oxygen mask with oxygen levels only about 90%, his heart rate was in the 140s, and he was breathing about 40 times a minute. One thing that I try to teach my residents early on is to try to differentiate the patient who is sick sick versus not so sick. This guy was sick sick - no doubt.

He was still coherent, and still competent, despite being critically ill. I sat down beside him, held his hand, got within inches of his face and talked to him while the rest of the ER staff started IVs and got EKGs and blood drawn.

He told me his story, as best he could with the little breath he had. He asked me to call his daughter and explain what was happening, and I did.

His labs and xrays and ekgs revealed to us that he had a heart attack within the last couple of days, that he had multiple broken ribs from the fall, and that his cancer was eating way at both lungs as well as his entire spine, his femurs, and his pelvis.

And so I had to talk to him, about what his options were and about what we could and couldn't do for him. I told him that this wasn't something that he could fix, and that he was going to die within the next day or 2. His daughter arrived.

We all agreed that we would do whatever we could to make him comfortable and let him die as peacefully as painlessly as possible. I ordered repeated shots of morphine and ativan, and we let him drift away.

Ya know, each person has their way that they need to deal with things. Some people won't understand that he wouldn't tell his family he was dying. They might think it was selfish or get angry. But everyone handles their problems uniquely, and there will never be, cannot be, a right or wrong way to handle many of life's scenarios. There can only be your way, his way.

In the end, he got what he wanted. His family never had to worry about him. And as I talked to them in the ER that night, I knew that they understood his decisions. He was intelligent, independent, and strong - and that's how he needed to be remembered.

I guess it went about as good as could be expected...

Thanks for joining me for My Daily Spin. [This story has been altered slightly to protect confidentiality]

January 19, 2008

Mars and Max

Meet Mars (left) and Max (Right), the newest additions to my family. M & M are 5 month old brothers that I adopted from the humane society. New training partners!!!

January 17, 2008

RNR Arizona Half Marathon Race Report

Yesterday the story finally ended.

Normally after a weekend race I'm ready to post a race report Monday morning. But this one was a little different, so the race report is a few days delayed. Let me explain.

The PF Chang's Rock n Roll Marathon was on my sights since late summer. It was to be my Boston qualifying race, my breakout event. I was gunning for a 45 minute PR performance that I was confident would be cake.

But things didn't go exactly like I thought they would.

First, in mid fall I had a mild IT band flare that cut short my long runs for a month. Then in December I had posterior hip pains that necessitated another 2 weeks without running. When I ran again, on January 2, there was a new and unexpected pain with every left foot strike.

Now last August I suffered a right foot 3rd metatarsal stress fracture, but that completely healed and is pain free. So I was NOT expecting this new left foot/ankle pain. The pain cut short my run on the 1st to 4 miles, then the following day the pain continued and cut my run to 3 miles.

I decided not to run any more before the RNR race and drop from the full to the half. On Friday, 2 days before the race, I ran 3 miles to see if it was better. It wasn't. I decided I would run anyway.

Race morning Sunday I lined up at the starting line nervous about the ankle/foot but intoxicated with the excitement that comes with these huge races. I LOVE mega-races. I positioned myself in the 3rd of about 30 corrals, opting not to go to the 1st corral like my race number suggested I should.

We started and the ankle/foot hurt immediately but was tolerable. Before the race I had rubbed 2 different pain relieving creams on it and taken (yes this is a raceday no no but I was desperate) ibuprofen. I think without the pain relievers I wouldn't have made it as far as I did.

5 k came in under 22 minutes and I was feeling good with only a little pain. But by 5 miles the ankle was hurting more, and by 10 k the pain was sharp and starting to limit my pace. 10 k passed in just under 44 minutes (which interestingly is still the fastest 10k I've ever run - ever...).

By 8 miles my pace had slowed and I was limp-running. It is such a terrible feeling when you start to drift back into the pack, knowing that all the work you put into the early mile is going for naught. And I drifted. Way back...

Miles 10-13 were at 10 minute pace, and I was miserable. I didn't pass a single person after mile 9. I considered walking, or dropping, but I knew that when I stopped running I would barely be able to walk and that seemed even more unbearable than running with the pain.

Those last few miles I kept thinking about Momo's post about her friend with cancer who still runs religiously and about taking running for granted. I was going to finish this, because I could. No matter the pain, I still could.

I was able to get a little bit of a kick at the finish to cross the line at 1:46.

When I finally walked post-race, I could barely put any weight on the ankle and I was suffering. I hobbled over to collect my gear and went straight to my rental car. I considered waiting for my peeps, but my misery didn't need to be shared...

I got on the interstate and drove solo for 250 miles to the Grand Canyon. I hadn't planned the side-trip, but I needed some time to reflect, and I needed some instant inspiration to pick me up.

Let me tell ya the GC is a damn good place for inspiration! When I left the race in Tempe it was mid 60s. When I got out of the car at GC it was snowing with 4 inches on the ground and 30 degrees, blue skies (mostly) and crisp crisp crisp. I hobbled around the South Rim for a couple of hours and felt the morale return.

This race meant nothing, and that's how I needed to treat it. There will be more races, there will be a time when I'm not always injured.

I got back in the car and drove the 250 miles back to Phoenix, then hooked up with friends old and new for a fantastic dinner and poker.

And life was good...

I returned to Alabama Monday and met with the orthopedic surgeon Wednesday. The xrays show a fractured calcaneous - the heel bone.

6-8 weeks of no running for me, but the bigger question is how do I keep from getting injured so frequently in the future? Already I never run more than 30-35 miles a week. I do a ton of cross training. I've decided to start taking calcium supplements. And I'm going to have a stride analysis when I can run again. But beyond that, I don't know....

So there it is... Anticipation, Loss, Excitement, Defeat, Inspiration, and Hope...

Life is good.

Thanks for joining me for My Daily Spin. Next time I'll tell you about the latest (surprise) additions to my family!!

January 8, 2008

First Swim

I swam Sunday for the first time since 24 HOT.

I was nervous about it, afraid that anything and everything I have learned over the last couple of years about swimming would be gone - ya know, use it or lose it right... But with the nervousness came a little excitement that by jumping in the water and starting to work on my weakest event, I was in a way committing myself to and beginning training for Ironman.

It's a good thing the water was in the mid 80's because if it at all felt cool I might have just climbed right out and headed for the steam room. But it felt good, and I felt good.

Oh it wasn't pretty.

Take an ugly inefficient stroke and give it a 3 month break and what happens? It gets uglier and more inefficient.

But it was easy at least. I swam 5 x 150 then a 250 and stopped for time constraints rather than fatigue restraints. This was definitely a satisfactory result for me - after all it was less than a year ago when I still couldn't swim a 1000 yards straight.

And with this swim I commence Ironman training.

It feels good to be back!

January 2, 2008


As much as I love vacation, the best part is coming home.

We returned home to Birmingham at 10 last night after a marathon day of travelling after spending the week in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. When we stepped out of the airport, I was expecting, maybe hoping for, temps in the 60's - not unusual in the deep south in January. Instead I found 20's and felt like I was still in the mountains, sans snow.

Oh, the snow. Wow the snow. We arrived in Steamboat on the 26th and it snowed every day. More than 2 feet during our 6 days there snow. Snow snow everywhere!! It was truly a winter wonderland. Hmm... Ok, it would have been a winter wonderland except it was TOO DAMN COLD!!

Oh... The cold. Curse the cold... I'm talking it only climbed higher than 15 degrees (yea, unfortunately I AM talking Fahrenheit here folks) once. When Emma and Tess did ski school for a day, the high was 6. They started the lessons at 0900 - it was below zero. They toughed it out for a 6 hour day but didn't want to ski anymore. Too cold!

So we spent all of the other days tubing and sledding and snowballing and sliding on the snowslide we made near our condo.

Oh,, and we went swimming... In an outdoor pool... Yep, it was somewhere around 10 degrees and we swam outside. The pool was obviously heated but to get to it we had to walk barefoot in our swimsuits across the snow and ice. It was so cold that we had to completely submerge ourselves at least every 30 seconds or so because our heads would be freezing... Luckily, the hot tub was only 30 feet from the pool, and it was inside!

I didn't ski, or board, any this trip. I had planned on it, and I could have. My friend J came with us to be the ski nanny, so she could have watched the kids while I skiied. But once the opportunity was there, I didn't want to stop playing with the kids to go play by myself. Maybe it's the reason I do better with kid relationships than adult relationships - I would just rather play kid games 99% of the time. My kids are so cool, so much fun, so loving and so happy. And I have tons of fun with them, even in the moments when they are driving me absolutely crazy.

But I don't think I'm too kid crazy... I'm already scouting days for another trip to the slopes sans kids so I can actually do some ski play of my own. After all, I may be kid crazy, but I'm also an unabashed adrenaline junkie... Soon...

Click on the video above for a little sledding action.
Well, Happy New Year to all of my blogger friends. And thanks for joining me for My Daily Spin.