Catching Up

It makes some sense, I think, to bring things up to speed on what’s happened with me since mid-August, when I temporarily stopped posting here.

At the end of August, I ran a 10K race. It was a good one for a number of reasons. First, I ran the event barefoot. Second, it was a cancer fundraiser. Third, I did it only two days before I had the first of two new cancer procedures. The race was, therefore, both a celebration and a preparation.

It worked well in both respects. The race – called the Underwear Affair – is always kind of a giddy party with a very serious undercurrent. Almost everyone running in it is either a cancer survivor or has a relative who has or has not survived a “cancer below the waist” (hence the event’s name). It features silly costumes, much laughter, some tears, and a pretty decent course along a Toronto waterfront park.

Race day featured my kind of weather – hot and humid – so I ran in just an old pair of running shorts, my sunglasses, and a “cancer survivor” bandanna handed out by the race organizers. The weeks before the race had been pretty busy with medical tests and consultations, so I didn’t really train for it – but still managed an almost respectable finishing time of 1:04.

Two days later, I had a cancer treatment. Ten days later, I went back for another one. Both procedures involved a rather cool technology called MRI-imaged high dose rate brachytherapy. Cool tech, yes, but invasive and pretty wearing. I was off work and away from running for the next three weeks.

After those three weeks, I started running again. Good news for me, as the physical and psychological benefits kicked in very quickly. Good news, too, for my loving wife, as I’m not the easiest person to live with when I haven’t run for more than a couple of days. (Thank you, JoAnne, for all the love and support.)

After that, I simply ran. Not very far, and not very fast. But I ran. Barefoot as long as the weather was warm, and then, when it got colder, in my Vibram Fivefingers. And things got better. Now, I’m up to about 25K a week, divided into two tempo runs on the treadmill, one steady pace run outside, one long run outside at an LSD pace, and three strength/stretching sessions.

Three weeks ago, I got another tattoo. I’ve got six now, three of which are cancer “markers.” I got the first of the three when I was diagnosed with prostate cancer four years ago, the second at the beginning of that first round of radiation therapy, and the last of the three shortly after I had after the most recent set of procedures. (The story of those tattoos probably deserves its own post. Stay tuned. )

And I’m heading for another 10K race. This one will be the Tannenbaum 10K, on December 12 in Toronto. It’s a small event, and is a fundraiser for a local community centre. I won’t be barefoot this time, naturally, but I’ll be running with my friend Simon, who recently suggested a winter run together. I’m delighted he did.

Simon’s a much stronger – and faster – runner than me, so I’ll be chasing him the whole distance. But that’s good. It means that I’m a runner again.

And that matters. It matters a lot.

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