Tuesday, May 5, 2009

October 2008

All the work laid down in September was put to the test on October 5th. It turned out that the day was perfect. My apprehensions about weather evaporated. I'd felt that my pads wouldn't last 15 miles in lashing rain, so the only thing I had to contend with was keeping my spinchter tight and, maybe, if necessary, swapping my pads en-route (i had a spare pad, in wrapper, in a back pocket in my shorts. In the event, it turned out that I wasn't to need it, but better safe than sorry. I don't know how i was going to change it discreetly on the run, but I hadn't intended stopping.

Anyway, some 500 or so starters lined up on Summer Hill in Cork. I didn't do any warm-up, deciding that my endurance was at it's limit anyway. This was to be the acid test. I chatted with a few before hand and got lots of well wishes. One of my clubmates nearly frealked when he saw me but said little. After the race, he said, "Jesus Johnny, I really thought I see you crawling into Cobh, in last place..a sorry sight...not just 14 minutes after PC"

I ran steady all the way, running all the miles at around 8:40 pace, except for mile 14, past the old Verolme dockyard. There is a rotten hill there - it's not bad really, but after 13.3 miles, it is tough. Looking at the photos of those finishing around me, i appeared to be the freshest. Fresh I wasn't though, but it was good. I was really a one-paced runner and running close to the margins of my delicate "membrane". I'd finished a 15 mile race in 2:04:44, just 131 days after major surgery! Wow! Acid test passed!

The following Sunday I turned out for my Club, Eagle AC, in a 4 mile cross country race. This was a much more competitive affair than the previous sunday. The day was very foggy and, after only about 300m, I was left stranded, well adrift of the pack. I ploughed on nevertheless and, after 2.5 of the 4 laps, caught up with the second last runner, one of our own new members, running in his first ever race. I ran behind him for the next lap - I hadn't the energy to pass and he thought I was staying behind him to "encourage him". With half a lap to go. I did what any gallant cross country runner does to a flagging clubmate - I left him in my tracks!

September 2008

September was a quiet month. I did one race, the PTAA 5k in Togher. I ran it in 24:56, finding it tough all the way, but I hung on and wasn't tempted to push the pace. I always find this a tough one. The altitude profile isn't bad, but i just find it a hard one to run - can't seem to get into a pace any time I've done it.

For the rest of the month I concentratedon getting my long run in, generally on a Sat or Sunday and did it all on grass at The Farm. Any time friends or colleagues were there I left them off - my 10 min miling was too slow for them. Prior to the op, I'd have been doing the 2.35 mile circuit somewhere between 18:00 and 19:00 - now I was going at about 24:00 and somewhat erratic at that. I didn't mind. I had a target - the 15 Mile Cork to Cobh road race on October 5th. I had only two concerns for the race - lasting the pace and continence. The endurance I could, and would, work on. My bladder was another matter and was weather dependent - I'd see closer to the day.

So once a week for 5 weeks before the race, I ran 11.5 miles. It generally took me nearly two hours to do it, but I managed to get it in every week. My mileage went 17-26-30-24 and 32 for the week including the race.

All through the month I was working hard at the fitness/stamina, without pushing. this was like gently pushing at the surface of a delicate membrane, all the while realising that i could very easily rupture it - in other words set myself back massively. Like I always advise those I coach "Make haste slowly!"

Friday, April 24, 2009

August 2008

Right....It's now almost May 2009. I need to get the Blog to live up to it's title. To date, there's been very little mention of running. I'll just have to knuckle down and get something together.

While the Blog is (intentionally) relatively hard to find, - you'll really need to be looking for something specific to find it - I've had quite a few personal comments and stories from 'fellow travellers' and others contemplating surgery, so, I think, it is serving its purpose. That is, to give men (and their spouses) an idea of what they might face when undergoing a Radical Prostatectomy. Eleven months (actually it was 11 months ago on Wed - today is Friday) after the op, and I'm starting to feel strong again. Ok, I'm still on ED medication (but seems to be gradually improving) and I sometimes leak a little while running, but I'm totally continent (Touch wood!!) at all other times, but how bad. This is far better than my wildest dreams before the surgery.

Anyway back to August.

The diary part of the Blog stopped on Tuesday August 12th, the day after my first periodic post-op check-up. I'd gone for a run on grass that day and hadn't been too tight in the waterworks dept.

On Wed. Aug 13th, D & I flew to Faro, Portugal for 11 days break - she had to be back at work for Mon 25th. We had an apartment booked in the Aqualuz complex in Lagos, some 50 miles west of Faro. After an early flight 06:30 - thankfully we live only 10 mins drive from Cork airport! - we drove to Faro. I was wrecked and spent most of the afternoon lying on the bed, recovering.

One of the things that we like about this smallish complex is that it has a lovely swimming pool and, while I rarely swim now, I enjoy swimming there. It's nice to cool off once in a while. I was a lifeguard during my student summer holidays over 35 years ago - my God! How Long! I don't want to think about it!

I had decided before we left, that I was only going to run every second day, that I wouldn't do my normal 5 or 6 mile runs there, and that I'd only do a short run of 2 miles or so, at an easy pace. I did intend swimming, stretching and doing press-ups every day.

So on Thurs, the day after we arrived, I did 6 untimed lengths of the 20m pool. It was hard work. I was well aware that I didn't have the strength or speed that I had before. D said "Now you're swimming like the rest of us!" I find swimming is a good indicator of how you really are. Running or cycling, I can rationalise a bad day as being due to wind/heat/rain/time of day/whatever. Swimming (in a pool) is a different matter - if performance is well below par, it's usually because I'm below par. I wasn't expecting great things in the pool anyway, but I was surprised, considering the non-loadbearing excerise, at the loss of strength I'd had. Still this was my marker. It was the base from which I intended gauging my progress.

I had deliberately chosen a relatively flat course of approx. 2 miles as my route and set off slowly - no push/effort - about 12 min miling. After Tuesdays debacle, I wore a pad and found this a great (mental) comfort. The run itself wasn't too bad, but I fould it hard to relax fully - I feared the pad failing to absorb everything and the embarrassment of going through the complex foyer on the way back. I needn't have worried. I did leak but the amount was quite small, I'm guessing several of tablespoons. OK this would certinly have caused me some grief if I hadn't had a pad, but apart from the obvious reason for using it, the second reason was to enable me to relax in my running, knowing that I had "a parachute".

So for the remainder of break, I ran every second day,varying the route slightly and increasing the distance to approx. 2.5 miles. The effort was the same and I made no attempt to increase my speed, or introduce hills. Where I did make a big effort was in the pool. While, again, I made no effort to increase my speed, I did increase the load, going from my initial 6 lengths to a final total of 46 on the last day of the holiday. Most of it was breaststroke as I found the occassional frontcrawl quite hard. Breaststroke was my stroke when I swam competitively and has remained my favoured stroke.

We returned home on Monday 25th and that night I ran with the girls from the Meet&Train group for the first time in three months. I always go with the back-markers, so I was able to 'hide'. The 3 miles was tiring but OK.

On Thursday Aug 28th, I lined up for the Ballycotton 5. I'd only missed this event once since 1987 but had no hope of getting within "an asses roar" of my course P.B. of 28:09, set in 1990. I set out at the back of the record entry of 378, intending to start at around 9min miling for the first two or three miles. I think, after a couple of hundred metres, that there were about a half dozen people behind me and I continued steadily until about the two and a half mile stage - it's more or less level or down until about that point. Feeling good, I upped the effort a bit, knowing all the while taht there is a 'bitch of a hill' just at the 3 mile mark, with a sting in the tail, just 250m after that. I took the hill strongly, but conservatively and pushed on, strongly but certainly not hard, until 1 mile to go. I always find the last mile here hard but I pressed strongly, finishing in 348th place in 46:04, doing the last mile in 8:30. On the way into the finish, through the small lower village, I had great cheers and encouragement from my fellow athletes. Quite a few knew or had an idea of what I'd been through. Their encouragement was wonderfully uplifting. I felt I had come back.