25
Sep
14

It’s all downhill from here

Every once in a while, I glide down a downhill stretch of road and think, “I wish it was always this easy.”

On Saturday, it will be. For 13.1 miles. Continue reading ‘It’s all downhill from here’

11
Aug
14

Once a runner, now a jogger

OK, I admit it. Never would have even six months ago. But I was a runner then.

And for the 14 years beforehand, I vigorously – to myself anyhow – defended the fact that I was indeed a runner. Not a jogger.

So much has changed since I spent a few hours on an operating table. A stop in Hopkinton for a late-morning run today drove that point home. Continue reading ‘Once a runner, now a jogger’

16
May
14

First post-op run: sssslllooooooowwww

The first steps were a reminder: lightheadedness; creaky knees; abdomen discomfort.

Eventually, new, more pleasant feelings: a bead running down my temples; the wind flowing past my ears.

Those firsts few strides were a dose of reality. My body resisted. I hardly moved. Yeah, this was my first run in a month.

For the past week, I’ve been having thoughts about how I might feel on my fist run since having my appendix removed on April 15 – 31 long running-less days ago. Would I be reduced to a shuffle? (Not quite, but close). Would walk breaks be necessary? (Happily, no). Will I be sore the next day? (I’ll get back to you).

I even received an email from active.com titled “How quickly do you lose fitness.” I haven’t opened it yet; I wanted to find out myself.

I figured I might need to walk the 10 minutes it takes to reach the rail trail that borders my neighborhood, but once I got to the street in front of my house, it felt natural to just start trotting. I left my watch and normal running clothes at home. No need for them. I just wanted to run, plain and simple.

It was refreshing to run on the trail again. Sure, it’s just flat cement, but after being buried under months of snow and ice, the Nashua River Rail Trail is showing signs of life again. Leaves on the trees, tall grass, wild flowers everywhere. It was sensory satisfaction. Even the bugs buzzing my head weren’t annoying.

The last time I ran (tried anyway), it was “No way, Tim-May.” That was the day before surgery.

When I was running over the winter, putting in high-mileage weeks in preparation for what was supposed to be my fifth Boston Marathon, I tried not to take for granted how good it felt.

But I did.

I took for granted how many towns I could trot through in 90 minutes. From Ayer (where I live) to Groton to West Groton to Shirley to Devens. And if there were errands to run – the bank, the library, the post office, the deli for “half a pound of American please” – I literally ran them. The past month, however, has been about recovery. About not overdoing it. About getting back to normal.

Normal, to me, includes running. And today was about getting back to normal. A normal routine, anyway.

So yeah, I was slow. But I didn’t want to cut it short when it started to drizzle. And when I got off the trail onto a road in Groton, I didn’t slow to a walk like I thought I might. My incision felt tender, but not painful. I doubt I’ll feel sore. Didn’t go fast enough. But I was out for about 45 minutes (okay, I checked the clock on the stove upon departure/arrival).

It was a start. A re-start. Don’t know when I’ll run again, but the “first” one is out of the way.

Won’t be long before it’s nap time. Normal is still a few weeks away.

 

20
Apr
14

Still bib number 8414

The plan for the weekend was to battle nerves. To carbo load. To get lots of rest.

Check off that last one.

It’s one day until Boston. A day to start hydrating. Bulk up on pasta and bananas. Figure out what to wear for the race. And check the weather forecast – again. But I’m already thinking ahead to 2015. There will be no running until May.

Instead of final preparations, I’m popping pain pills and stool softeners. If four hours go by and I don’t need a nap, I consider it a victory. Hey, if this is the worst thing that happens to me this month, I’m a lucky man.

After having my appendix taken out Tuesday, the couch has been my happy place. Day, night and all hours in between. I’m there now, watching the Bruins. But on Saturday, I didn’t nap. And that permanent indent on the cushion became a little shallower. I did something I needed to do: headed to Boston with my family to pick up the marathon bib number I no longer need. I earned it, paid 175 clams for it, might as well go get it.

Whether I run or not, I’m still No. 8414. Wave 1, Corral 9.

It was a little bittersweet, but I wanted to make the trip; sore side or not.

After taking a busy T train to the Hynes stop, all we had to do was follow the stream of runners to the convention center, not far from the looming, hallowed finish line. Once I received my race bag, I located some friends I used to run with in Bozeman, Mont. We caught up for a while, then I needed to say goodbye – I was starting to fade.

As I was walking around, I noticed something; there were people walking around using crutches and walking boots. They had their shwag-bags and Adidas running jackets. There are probably hundreds of people who are unable to toe the starting line; sign up in September and who knows what can happen to trip you up.

As much as I’ll miss being in Hopkinton Monday morning, I’m choosing to look back at the highlights of my training.

In February, I gladly slipped on multiple layers and put in a 90-mile week when it was 10 degrees and windy every day. Thousands of others were doing the same. After what happened last year, it didn’t feel like such a chore. It was the highest weekly mileage I think I’ve ever compiled. And I felt on top of the world.

In March I ran a half-marathon and was first master.

Just last Sunday I ran 13 miles for a confidence boost since I hadn’t been feeling right lately. It rained for much of the run, but it felt great. Come Tuesday I was having surgery.

I won’t run on Monday. But I’ll be watching. And checking up on friends online. 

And maybe on Tuesday I’ll start looking for a late-summer marathon to plan for. Time to start thinking about re-qualifying.

16
Apr
14

no boston, just more stomach pains

The end is always the most memorable part. My “right on Hereford, left on Boylston” from last year is still fresh in my mind, though it still feels like a blur.

I don’t remember any spectators, though I’m sure they were loud. I was so desperate to see the finish line that I shut most everything out. I recall running next to a woman as we hit Hereford, and that’s it. There had to dozens of other runners, but my focus was on finishing.

After the turn onto Boylston, this woman seemed to pick up her pace. And so did I. We never shared a glance or any words, but the push was on. Then she started to pull away. And then I heard my name announced, which was a complete surprise. Finishing ahead of this woman no longer mattered – hearing those simple words – Tim Dumas – gave me such a rush. And then it was over.

Immediately after crossing that coveted blue and yellow stripe that marks the end of the Boston Marathon, I felt nauseous. The feeling lasted for at least an hour. It’s a sensation I dread. And it’s one I won’t have to endure this year. Not in Boston anyway.

I’m not running.

After weeks of peaks and valleys health, I will officially be a DNS.

On Tuesday I had my appendix removed. After a long night of stomach pain, it was a relief to have the offending party removed. Didn’t need it anyway. Tuesday of course was the one-year anniversary of the bombings. And as I sat in my hospital bed, the reflections of that day were all over the TV. I wanted nothing to do with it. Every time I saw someone running in an addidas jacket – you know, the kind with the three stripes along the sleeves – I got jealous.

But now that a day has gone by, I’d still like to be part of this great event. I can’t run for about a month, but I can’t tear myself away from the Boston Marathon. Maybe I can cheer the runners from Natick, where a group of my friends gather each Patriots Day. Or maybe in Brookline, near Mile 23, where my brother lives. Somehow I’ll be along the course.

And this year, no more stomach pains.

 

14
Apr
14

One week to go: Glad it’s not THIS Monday

This year’s Boston is an event I have looked forward to since last April. The anticipation rivals a youngster’s desire for Christmas. The months can not go by fast enough. But I’m actually glad the race isn’t happening this Monday.

It’s not as if I’m not ready. The weather forecast is the problem.

The weather powers that be are calling for 77 degrees. Granted, a strong tail wind is expected, but I want nothing to do with anything over or near 70. I prefer next Monday’s day-of-race forecast for Boston: 59 and mostly cloudy. Clouds are huge this time of year. The less sun the better.

I’m sure the forecast will change about 10 times between now and then, and I’ll be checking every few hours just to see, but if it stays anywhere near 60, I’ll be happy.

Then again, I could use another week to get prepared. Not that I have anything strenuous planned, but I had a minor setback a few weeks ago. Fortunately, it happened the day after my 20-mile run.

It was March 29, a Saturday, and I started to feel ill. My family spent the day at the Museum of Science and later walked in the rain to the North End for dinner. On the way home, I had to pull over on Route 2 near Concord to dispatch the lasagna I had eaten a few hours before.

What seemed like a stomach bug lasted for about four days. I did not run on any of them and was relieved that I had gotten my Ashland-to-Heartbreak Hill run in. I would have never had the energy to do it the following weekend, which was three weeks before Boston. And three weeks prior is when I usually do a 20-miler to prep for a marathon.

After the bug subsided, I started feeling better, but not quite “normal.” I felt light-headed, which was very disconcerting.

I began to question everything about the marathon. Should I scale back my goal time? Should just take it slow during the race? Should I even run?

Eventually I went to see my doctor (last Wednesday). He checked me out and had a nurse take some blood and said he’d call later in the week. When I didn’t hear anything, I figured there was nothing conclusive with my blood work. I was a bit disappointed. I just didn’t feel right. When there’s a big event such as Boston approaching, that’s not a good feeling.

But on Friday night, he called and said I had an iron deficiency and prescribed some pills. I was relieved.

I’ve been taking the pills for just a few days, but I’m starting to feel normal again. You don’t realize how good normal feels until … you don’t feel normal.

I know this is taper time, but on the days I don’t run, I feel stale. It’s a common feeling leading up to a marathon, but I just need to run just about every day. It makes me feel whole, normal.

I joined my local running club (Squannacook River Runners – Groton, Mass.) on Sunday for a run in the rain. I ended up going 13 wet miles. And I felt good. I certainly didn’t need to run for an hour and 42 minutes, but what I did need was a confidence boost.

I’m starting to feel positive about the marathon again, although I’m going to run by “feel” instead of going all out for a sub-3:05 finish.

I’ll certainly run this Monday in the heat. It’ll be good practice when it comes to staying hydrated. I’m just glad I don’t need to go the full 26.2 until next week. Just wish that 59 and cloudy could be locked in with a guarantee. Not just for me, but especially those who aren’t starting until 11:25 a.m.

Whatever the weather, 36,000 of us will be ready.

 

28
Mar
14

Ashland to Heartbreak: A dry run

One door closes, another opens.

My training plan for this year’s Boston Marathon included the usual long distances, but I had/have a few specific workouts that I wanted to get in: 10 repeats up (and down) on a long, steep hill; two road races; and a trial run along most of the Boston course itself. Continue reading ‘Ashland to Heartbreak: A dry run’




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