Monday, August 24, 2015

WM: An Explanation of my Facebook post of 24 August 2015

My Facebook post is a photo of me hopping on a suburban Tokyo bus and saying it is a great day to be going HOME. To those not yet in the loop, it wouldn't have been clear where I was returning from, but it was obvious that I was pretty happy about it. Unfortunately it was neither a return from a business trip nor a holiday, but release from a 4-week stay in hospital, for I have developed a slow-moving non-Hodgkin's lymphoma called Waldenstrom macroglobulinemia (WM for short: a rare type of blood cancer, which means it is a bit like winning the lottery...only different). It was diagnosed in early July immediately after I returned from my trip to Australia. It is incurable but it is treatable using a combination of a steroid, monoclonal antibodies, and chemotherapy. I can expect to achieve remission and return to a fairly normal life for some years at least, but it is actually impossible to predict how complete or long-lasting the remission will be. Resistance to treatment or conversion to a more aggressive lymphoma are an ever-present possibility, or I might well live to a ripe old age without further recurrence. Nothing is certain, but the odds are not too bad in my favor. (Here is another link to an explanation about WM for those who want to know more.)

Doing what you have to do
During this stay in hospital I had my first two rounds of chemotherapy. At first my blood cell counts were dangerously low and I had to receive quite a few transfusions, mainly of platelets. Platelets have a critical role in stopping bleeding; had I had a stroke during this time I would have been dead, and even now my platelet levels are still well below normal and I should avoid sharp knives and automobile accidents.

About 10 days after the first chemo, my blood counts started improving, and by last Friday they were at pretty comfortable levels with respect to not needing more transfusions, at least for now. The doctors were happy to release me today to continue my next four rounds of chemo as an outpatient. I spent about 4 days feeling pretty sick from the chemo each time, and I suppose there is more of that ahead, but at least I will be at home.

Card from running friends
Visit from my boys 
I have received the most fantastic levels of support from family, friends, and my company; my wife has been an absolute rock, and my three sons a constant source of strength. My Tokyo-based friends almost killed me with kindness at times, but I have generally received support and space as needed. I can't adequately express my appreciation for all the messages, spirit-lifting visits, and generous gifts.

It was great to get home and find my chili and basil plants doing well
By using Facebook for this announcement, this post will be read by many people who don't really know me that well, and by others who will probably feel hurt that I didn't tell them sooner. But it has been a dilemma all along as to who and how I should communicate my situation. Facebook seems to be a heavy hammer to wield, yet it is already hard to stay on top of the separate communications I've started, and I guess it is not fair to continue to stay publicly schtum, especially now that my recovery seems to be on the right track. All I can do is ask for understanding that there seems no right way, but this is the way I've chosen.

I want to keep this as short as possible, but a final thought to leave you with. Despite my joy at finally getting away from the four walls, snoring wardmates, and hospital food, I am left with thoughts of those I had to leave behind in the hematology ward. Many people there have it far worse than me, receiving much more aggressive treatments and being stuck inside for many months longer and with less optimistic prognoses. My heart almost broke on a daily basis watching what people had to endure -- the never-ending drips, the gut-churning treatments, hair-loss, nausea, ulcers and infections, lack of privacy, unstomachable food, and when feeling better, the constant battle with boredom and monotony. The nursing staff are hard-working and absolutely brilliant, but there is only so much they can do to ease the unpleasantness. So I want to end this message by reminding all who are eligible, to please consider donating blood when you can, or even learning about and registering as a bone marrow donor. As I have discovered, blood diseases can strike anyone at any time. Donors literally save people's lives. People just like me. And people just like you.

Thank you for reading my story.

Saturday, May 01, 2010

TELL 10 km 2010

Despite saying and feeling with some conviction that I was not going to run hard today, in the end I did run pretty hard. Took off and was just going comfortably along and found the 2nd km was around 4:00 pace. That ended up being the fastest I would run, and most of the race I was going at about my former marathon race pace. It was hard. It was my present 10k race pace. And I ended up with a 42:32. This would be pretty close to a PW for the distance for me. Some guy had been sitting on my tail up the hill and coming towards the finish, and with about 100 m to go he passed me. I kicked down and was about to try and sprint to the line, and it hurt, and I only lasted a few strides and then just said "Ah, fuck off, have it mate!" It wasn't worth it. Nothing to gain, nothing to prove.

But on the up side, my legs felt fine. Arnaud in his comment to my earlier post is right; I have needed the time off to let my body recover. Ewen is right too. I am stuck in quicksand and need to really give myself a shake if I am going to get out of it. Not running used to be unbearable, but of late it has become not just bearable but easy. Too easy. Danger, danger, Will Robinson.

I must go for a run tomorrow.

The Running Doldrums

I have a very serious case of the yips. The doldrums. Not running much and feeling less and less inclined to. A vague sense of, well, I should get back into it is all I can seem to muster.

Today I am off to run TELL, a 10-k charity race around the Imperial Palace. My sole motivation is that it will get me out of the house and into my running shoes. My third run in about 4 weeks. I don't know where it goes from here.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Tokyo Marathon 2010 - Photomagraphs

Here's some bloody photos of me bloody mara-bloody-thon.
the search result photos - Tokyo Marathon 2010 - All Sports Community
Uploaded with plasq's Skitch!

the search result photos - Tokyo Marathon 2010 - All Sports Community
Uploaded with plasq's Skitch!

the search result photos - Tokyo Marathon 2010 - All Sports Community
Uploaded with plasq's Skitch!

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Don't trust your Garmin around tall buildings!

This picture shows the first couple of km of what my Garmin captured in the Tokyo Marathon versus the actual course. The original explorable map can be viewed here on my RunningAHEAD log. Zooming to the start and turning on the satellite view will soon show just how many tall buildings there are around here-- it is Nishi-Shinjuku after all. From past experience running through this area I knew the GPS data would be dodgy. For that and other reasons I took all my laps manually. This was a good move as the splits were all over-estimated and the total distance something like 43.5 km. I manually adjusted the distances after uploading to my log. Just look at that shocker of a did get much better from about 4 km, but other bad spots can be seen on the map. Just thought that might interest some of the Garmin users out there.

Note: we are proud owners of a brand spanking new iMac. This screen grab was obtained and edited with Skitch, uploaded to the Skitch host and then dropped here. All very quick and painless. This was my test post.

Monday, March 01, 2010

Tokyo Marathon 2010

Tokyo marathon really seems to be jinxed as far as the weather is concerned. Out of the four times it has been held, only one, in 2008, was run under good conditions. The first year, 2007, it was wet and cold, and last year was very windy with some rain thrown in for good measure. This year we were all watching the weather forecasts from a week out, and it looked promising as rain was forecast for Saturday but largely clearing by Sunday. As the day drew closer and the forecasts more reliable, the prospect of rain gradually increased. As this link shows, the period between 6 am and noon was in fact the coldest and wettest of the 24-hour period, and the temperature fell from 4.5 °C at the 9:10 am start to 3.1 °C at 11 am. That would explain the big plops of wet, slushy snow that started falling between 25 and 30 km.

So, it was a fun old day of being soaking wet and cold to the core for everybody. I'm sure that contributed to it being my personal worst result (for official races) of 3:13:16, but there were other factors too. My legs did not feel good right from the earliest stages. I probably started too fast for my fitness, being just off 3-hour pace. I knew it was risky, but I wanted to give myself a chance. There are two ways you can miss your target in a marathon: one is to go out too fast and fall into a heap, the other is to go too slow and never be able to make up the lost time. Running at between 4:20 and 4:15/km, I felt, was a reasonable compromise even though I wasn't as confident of my fitness as Ewen was. But by 10 km I knew it wasn't going to happen as feelings of fatigue started creeping through my legs despite sitting on a not-overly-aggressive 4:21/km pace (4:15/km is needed for a 3-hr marathon).

My pace had fallen to 4:31/km by halfway, by which time I knew it was going to be a game of survival. The rain wouldn't stop, I really felt cold and tiring, yet not from a lack of fuel. Ultimately, though, I think the main reason was a lack of fitness due to the inadequate training in February. The wet and cold played a role, but I just wasn't in shape to run that fast. Simple as that.

The crowds were great through the middle of the race from Nihonbashi to Asakusa and back. Saw lots of Nambanners through here and got plenty of "Ganbatte Namban" from strangers reading my singlet. (I was wearing a singlet over a T-shirt). The crowds were understandably much quieter than other years. They too were suffering in the conditions, and I wondered sometimes whether it was worse for them or us.

I had to have a plop-stop at about 33 km and lost about a minute with that. But then I was moving along pretty well. I sped up for a while but then had to settle for a strongish 4:45/km. I was still passing plenty of runners even at that pace and was going along painfully but happily at 38 km, thinking that all I had to do was hold pace to break 3:10. That would have been satisfying, all things considered. Then, right at about 39.8 km, a sharp pain shot through my left hamstring. It was the injury I'd been nursing since the start of February. It had been there in the background through the whole race, but never threatening to worsen or seriously affect my pace. But this brought me to a sudden, limping hobble. I stopped for a little to stretch and try to get it feeling better, and then took off again. I could run, but it seriously shortened my stride and had me just limping along. I had not long before passed and once and for all shaken off a runner from our club who I'd been "dueling" with for a while. But he soon came on by and that was the last I saw of him. Good luck to him. Soon after that I saw Bob cheering at the side of the road. I think he was telling me to hurry up. I yelled back, "MY LEG'S F#%&ED!" Anyway, I was resigned to my fate and realised that as long as I could run, I should do so and finish. I was still moving at an acceptable pace of 5:15 or 5:20/km, or something like that, but 3:10 was definitely shot. The final finishing straight to the goal took longer than any other marathon I've ever run. Jeez, just get here will you. And then, finally, it was over. 3:13:16.

As if to mock us, the weather came out bright and sunny in the afternoon. Still cold, though.

One good decision I'd made before the race was to turn off the auto-lap feature of my Garmin. I took splits manually whenever I noted a km marker. They were consistently long, and the overall length of the race was recorded as over 43 km. Naturally that also meant any pace readings were also over-estimated. People, don't rely on your Garmins too heavily!

Well, this post is quite long enough. I have no idea what I will be doing next, but the first priority is get my leg healthy again, so hard training certainly won't be featuring on this blog again any time soon.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Yeay, my banner is back!

Thanks Hannah. Glad I didn't nag you ;-)

Well, Tokyo Marathon is coming up this Sunday Feb 28th. I won't have a very good one despite having a fantastic month of running in January. The problem was I overdid it a bit and ended up with some inflammation type pain in my left hamstring and knee area. It has settled down somewhat with several weeks of reduced mileage, but my fitness has slipped and the leg problem is still hanging around somewhat. I had been on track to go close to a 3-hr race, but now it is impossible to say. I may still pull out a 3:05, or it might go pear-shaped. Only time will tell. But Tokyo is a fantastic event to be a part of, so even if I end up limping the second half, wild horses won't stop me lining up on Sunday. Yippee kai oh kai yay!!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Ho Ho Ho ...

Well, someone certainly got a great Christmas present. Congratulations Scott!

As for me, it is just steady as she goes. Battling the ravages of time, trying to shake off niggles, which I am beginning to think at my age are a permanent companion to be tolerated, not an unwelcome guest who is at least eventually going to leave.

Been getting in a few nice runs lately and today did 17.5 km in 1h 21min at a heart rate of 142 average, which is not too bad, really. Especially as I pulled up feeling reasonably fresh and without any major new injury.

Another big bit of news is that I got a Garmin 405cx. Nice bit of kit! I love the ANT+ auto upload and being freed from having to take splits and worry about measuring the length of the course I run. Having a reliable heart rate monitor again is nice. It is helping with my motivation, which is definitely a Good Thing.