Wednesday, September 30, 2015

My running buddy puts me away

Yesterday was overcast and temperate but exceedingly humid.  My running buddy and I started out our six-mile noontime run by going up Capital Hill and around the Capitol at the outset.

Since she's a busy professional and a mom as well, she doesn't have a lot of time to get ready for the MCM, which is next month, so she's been throwing down long runs in the teens mostly while I've been running alone mostly and doing 10Ks, feeling like I've been increasing  my speed for the distance these past few weeks.

She's been complaining about how tired she is and how slow she's getting while she concentrates on LSDs, which she claims are killing her at the end.  Indeed, we ran an eight-miler together about four weeks back and she was unable to finish it without a walking spell.

Come into my lair on this six-miler, I thought, and I'll show you the view from the back.  An hour later it was I who had the view from the back mostly, especially on the Washington Monument hill, and, my clothes soaked and sopping through and through with sweat, I caught up with her at the end as she slowed and I was exceedingly glad to get this up-tempo run over with.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

My Running Buddy Is Back

In 2011 two lapsed runners in the same office started a weight-loss regime of workday noontime running on the National Mall two or three times a week.  My reason for the extra weight (lots of it) was a chronic, seemingly permanent injury to an ankle, and hers was the more reasonable excuse of a recent childbirth.

Our first attempts were pretty pitiful.  Practically every other run I broke down, or she broke down, and we walked it back, from a mere 1 1/2 miles out.

Four years and a century loss later (practically all of it from my frame) I'm fit enough and run five times a week, and she's fit, runs with me at noon often and does cross training on the hockey rink where she's famously known by the other players, because she'll take anyone on who crosses the blue line (she seems to be the only one who can skate backwards), as "The Goon."  A year ago we ran a half marathon and she killed it with a 1:50 and I exceeded all of my hopes with a sub-1:55.

Now she's gearing up to run the MCM next month with her husband, and I think she wants to beat him.    She's asked me to jump in at the end and run the last six miles with her, so I have been practicing six milers for a few weeks solo (she's been away or busy) while she's been doing 14, 16 and 18-mile long runs on those weekends.  Today she ran a six miler with me at noon and I was going to show her my stuff, having been practicing at the distance, but, well… .

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Going Green Turns Brown

How going green becomes brown.  How being sustainable caused waste. 

Sometimes to address stains or odors in my running clothes, I soak my running clothes in Biz, upon the suggestion of a running buddy of mine.  But I noticed that this seemed to streak my tech shirts brown, and I complained to my advisor about her suggestion.
She was stumped, because she uses Biz and it has never had this effect upon her clothes.  I proudly told my friend how Sustainable I was, because not only did I eschew using my dryer and I hung up my clothes on a clothesline in the basement to dry, but I also emptied the water collected in my dehumidifier into my washing machine rather than pour it down the drain.

She knew then what the problem was--the concentrates and sediments in the collected water had ruined my technical shirts, not the Biz.  She commanded me to stop recycling water and to discard the irrevocably stained shirts (but the shirt on the left in the picture is from when I ran the infamous 2006 Chicago 26.2-mile Fun Run!).

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Barefoot Running

Barefoot running is the title.  No, I don't do it, my friend Markus does it.

He swears by it, something about how that's how humans ran back then on the African veranda.  Me, when I run with Markus, I'm in my broken-down Aisics but I notice the looks we get from runners running past, even those cacooned within their earbuds.

Markus called on Friday and I ran 5 miles with him, a tempo run for sure since he's faster than me.  It was good, probably the pace was in the mid-8:30's per mile.

Markus is a former, and infrequent current, running buddy of mine.  I worked hard to keep up, in my dotage.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Yet Another Dental Visit

The new crown didn't fit no matter how much the dentist examined it, buffed it, drilled it.  "There's a distortion in it," she finally said.  "We'll send it back to be redone and you'll have to return when it comes back."

Then she got to work shaving down the other two crown candidates, after administering copious amounts of Novocaine to the left side of my jaw.  Perhaps you know the experience--mouth wide open, head pushed way back in the chair, eyes focused somewhere on the lights overhead, the drill screaming, a scorched smell in the air, water rushing into your mouth from a tiny jet and being sucked back out again by a small nozzle.

The work was done, the two new molds were created and three temporary caps were emplaced, two on the left side and one on the right side.  "For the next two weeks, try not to use either side of your mouth to chew with," the dentist joked.

Perhaps the end is now in sight.  Besides what I had already paid, the fresh bill was $3,618.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Dental Work

By enduring a few pure-rush-of-pain jabs from my dentist's drill as she ground down a troublesome tooth which couldn't be totally deadened at the point of the crack in the tooth, the tooth was shaped enough to be molded for a permanent crown.  The product to cap the cracked tooth came back from the lab two weeks later and I returned for its insertion and to have, gulp, two more cracked teeth shaped for crowns.

On that day, as I wormed my way into the back of the dental chair and the sweat started to collect on my brow, the tech yanked off the temporary crown over the sensitive tooth and used her prong tool to clear cement off the tooth.  I jerked when she touched the point of the crack in the tooth with her wicked implement.

That hurt.  She didn't touch the spot again.

The dentist came in and tried to place the lab product on the troublesome tooth.  It didn't, wouldn't, fit.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Another Dentist Visit

I came back a week later for another round with the dentist after a painful session the week before.  My posture in the chair was anticipatory, my body was rigid, my mind was focused on the event at hand, more drilling of the bad tooth.

I had taken an Advil the night before and the morning of, and I had eschewed any coffee that morning. The drilling went, well, okay.

Round and round the drill went on the deadened tooth until it actually touched on the point of the crack.  Jolt!

"Hmm," she said.  My dentist now had the lay of the land.  "Your sensitive spot is right on top of the crack in the tooth."

Round and round the drill went on the deadened tooth and again it touched on the point of the crack.  Jolt!

I was far back in the chair now, my knuckles white.  I hadn't started sweating yet, though.

Round and round the drill went on the deadened tooth until it touched on the point of the crack.  Jolt!

Round and round the drill went on the deadened tooth but this time it didn't touch on the point of the crack.  "All done," my dentist said.

I happily paid a large part of my mounting bill, which now was well over $3,000 for the year to date, with at least two more procedures to come within the next 45 days.  But we weren't done yet with that troublesome tooth.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015


Having yanked out the old fillings on two teeth on my left side, which disclosed the need for crowns on both, my dentist refilled them temporarily and set to work shaping the badly cracked last tooth on my lower right side. We presumed it was deadened, trusting in the power and magic of Novocain.

Whiir!  I was hit with a jolt and reacted noticeably.

"That's really sensitive," she said. "Every time I touch near the point of the crack, you move.  The vibration of the drill sometimes travels down the crack and upsets the nerve, even with local anesthesia.  I hope the crack doesn't run into the nerve, which would require a root canal before we can proceed further."

Always the specter of a root canal.  Suffice to say, two more ampules of Novocain, which is about all the fluid a jaw can take in one sitting, did nothing more that was noticeable to me.  The dentist drilled around one side of the tooth shaping it for the crown but couldn't touch the other side in any way without me reacting.

I was pressed as far back in the chair as far as I could go, my forehead wet with sweat.  The jolts were strong.  I was, well, trembling.

"That's enough for today," she finally said.  "I've gotten about three quarters of it done but you'll have to come back next week for me to finish it.  Sometimes a tooth is just different on another day.  Take an Advil the night before your appointment next week, and that morning also.  And no coffee on the morning you come."

She looked at me intently and asked, "You will come back, won't you, Peter?"  I didn't answer my friend and neighbor.

The anticipation.  I spent a miserable week.

Monday, September 21, 2015

A Dentist

So I came in for some major dental work before my trusted dentist retired, and she deadened my mouth so she could shave down the tooth in the lower right corner of my mouth.  Meanwhile she jabbed the other side of my mouth with novocain as well so she could drill out those two old fillings and refill them.

I could tell things were not progressing nicely when she muttered, "Oh, God," when the first filling was removed.  She was silent when the second filling was drilled out but amidst the smell of scorching teeth and the suction required to keep me from drooling as the second filling came out, I noticed the lack of any encouraging salutation when she finished on that side.

Cha-ching!  She took photos, which she showed me, disclosing cracks in both teeth, hidden for decades under the old fillings, running across the floor of the two teeth and which were bad.

She told me that both of those teeth also needed crowns before one or the other shattered under some awkward bite.  And then she set to work on shaving down the tooth she was going to fit for a crown that day, and that's when the real trouble started.

Sunday, September 20, 2015


A loose crown put back in and a cavity filled.  Now my dental bill for the year was around $700.

Since my dentist is retiring and I think she is very good, I let her at my cavity-filling session talk me into a teeth cleaning and an oral exam.  Apparently these are basic necessities and neither had been done for years.

So I came in for a teeth cleaning, and now my bill for the year was over a thousand dollars.  The dental examination, which was very thorough with some spectacular pictures of breaking and decaying teeth for my viewing pleasure, sent my bill for the year to date rocketing towards two thousand dollars.

From the examination, my dentist identified a tooth that was badly cracked and needed a crown before it broke into pieces in the not-too-distant future.  She also wanted to pull out two old fillings and, if there were no surprises under them, refill them.

What's the old saw?  If it ain't broke, don't fix it?

Against my better judgment I made not one, not two, but three more dentist appointments, to shave one tooth and fit it for a crown, drill out two old fillings and refill them, and insert the permanent crown when it came back from the lab.  After several years of seeing my dentist two or three times every three or four years, I was going to be seeing a lot more of her in the not-too-distant future.

Saturday, September 19, 2015


So now I was into a dental bill for the current year of a coupla hundred dollars prompted by my dentist having to cement an old crown back in which had been wrenched out by, for heaven's sake, eating a salmon fillet.  As I lay in the chair, my dentist's professional eye saw a cavity.

Gotta take care of that, right?  So I came back the next month to get it filled.

For the first time, my best-ever dentist hurt me.  After administering novocain, she waited, drilled and I jerked.

"Did you feel that?" she asked rhetorically.  "Uh huh," I indicated miserably out of a wide-open mouth.

She administered another ampule of novocain and left to attend to another patient while it took effect.  While I waited for her to come back, I checked the dentist's chair for for its back exit but couldn't locate one.

The dentist came back and finished the drilling and filling with no further pain to me beyond my great anxiety waiting for a jolt of electricity to sear in when the tooth nerve came alive, which sensation didn't repeat itself.  "We'll have to watch that tooth for a possible root canal down the road," she said as she finished up.

Friday, September 18, 2015


It all started with a piece of baked stuffed salmon in the cafeteria.  It was even slightly undercooked so it was tender and moist.

I was enjoying it when somehow it wrenched a crown out.  Now salmon joins the list of taffy, licorice and clam chowder as things which have pulled crowns out, not to be confused with the list of cheez-its and life savers as things which have broken teeth, which results in root canals and crowns.

So the next day I called the dentist.  Unless it hurts, never do two things involving the dentist on the same day.

She urged me to come in immediately, so she could cement it back in.  Apparently bad things can happen if you leave a tooth stump exposed to the real world for a week or two.

I went in, she cemented the crown back in, announced to me that she was retiring this year and said, "You know, Peter, you haven't had your teeth cleaned or had an oral examination in eight years.  You view dentists as emergency stations.  Oh, by the way, you have a bad cavity I noticed in there which you really should get filled."

Hmm.  She's the best dentist I ever had.  "You're leaving?" I thought.  "But what about me?"

The reason she's the best dentist I ever had is because she's never hurt me, in addition to being a superlative dentist.  In 2011 she was rated one of the best dentists in the DC area by the Washingtonian magazine.  Plenty of dentists have hurt me, not on purpose of course, beginning with Dr. Lipscombe on Staten Island who drilled out seven probably shallow cavities when I waved off Novocain in a show of bravado as a young boy.

Ever since that day, I have always looked for the back door in any lay-down chair I put myself in, an escape route I can utilize when I hear that Whirrr!  So, what does this have to do with a running blog?  Well, more to come about my dental woes, it's part of how life intrudes, but also as I discovered today when I arrived early and explored a bit, her office is half a block off MP 17 on the W&OD Trail and my house is half a block off MP 7 on the W&OD Trail.  Hmm.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Busy Times

I ran 90 miles in August, 102 miles in July and 110 miles in June.  I run 4 or 5 times during the noon hour on the Mall on weekdays and pick up any running days on the weekend to ensure that I run five times each week.

Usually I run with one or more running buddies but lately I've been doing a lot more solo runs because everyone at work has gotten so insanely busy (new management showing its mettle on the backs of its workers) and my weekend running buddy left town.  Oh well, we came into this world alone and that's the way we'll leave it too.

The last two days I've run alone, 6 miles around Capital Hill to around Lincoln, and 5 miles around the Tidal Basin to Lincoln going over the Washington Monument hill twice.  Once I settle into each run and my breathing becomes less ragged, my pace picks up to where it almost feels like I'm going as fast as I used to run in the old salad days mid-decade last decade, somewhere in the eights.

Weekends I always run alone.  That's probably a precursor to what I'll be doing after my retirement someday (did I already indicate what management at work is doing at the expense of everyone else there?).

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

I'm Running

I have bumped up my game since I abandoned running for a couple of years in 2009 due to a chronic injury and then tried to come back in in 2011 with my running buddy when I was close to 250 pounds.  Back then we could barely run two miles before one or the other of us would break down.  Since then we've lost about 100 pounds together, of which I accounted for probably 98 of those.

Coming back, I tried to run four times a week, about 15 miles a week doing 10-minute miles.  Now I run five times a week, about 25 miles a week and do 9:20-minute miles.

I'm in a happy place.  My running buddy trusts me enough to have asked me to jump in and run the last 10K of her upcoming marathon with her.  You probably have heard the old saw that a marathon is a 20 mile warm-up run with an ensuing 10K race.

She's faster than me now.  I will do my best to drive her on in the last portion of her race next month.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Are you there?

So I haven't posted in a while.  But who reads this stuff here anymore anyway.

Facebook (I have an account).  Twitter (I think it's stupid, but I've engaged in a twitter chat, at work).  But what do I know, I'm outdated and ready for the discard pile, my shelf life is past the expiration date.

Instagram.  YouTube.  Today I ordered an entry level android from AT&T to replace my dumb phone that doesn't connect to the Internet.  Am I a half-decade too late?  When I purchased a digital camera to carry on runs in 2013, my young technology mentor sniffed--Now you're only five years behind the times (it wasn't an I-phone).

But I'm still running as I move through my sixties.  Those 45 minutes moving outside, sometimes with friends, working the muscles, taking down runners ahead of me and dreading faster runners coming up behind me ( I look back sometimes), that's what keeps me going.  I have raced twice this year, which I'll tell you about soon.