Thursday, June 29, 2006

Up Close and Personal With Cancer Boy

Two and half weeks of treatment for Actinic Keratosis with Efudex.

Not for the faint of heart.

Three and a half weeks to go.


Baked in the sun is more than just an expression... At 45 I qualify as well-done.

The suns rays = radiation.

Radiation = skin damage.

Radiation + skin damage = Skin Cancer.

Think about it.

Lesions cover most of my face. I went to the dermatologist with only one tiny spot visible to the naked eye. Even under magnification, the only visible sun damage appeared to be on my forehead and cheekbones. Wrong.

New lesions seem to appear daily. It is estimated that ten percent of lesions ultimately become cancerous.

After one week of treatment it was too painful to shave.

Cancer Boy, also known as Krusty the Clown.

If you run in the sun...

Wear sun screen.

Wear a hat.

Please, take it from me.
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Edward Scissorhands Lives!

This during my early - Edward Scissorhands Topiary - phase...

London Punk, or escaped cast member of The Fifth Element?

The classic, Deer-in-the-Headlights, Oh My Gawd, what have I done? look. All for a good cause, Anthony, all for a good cause.

But really, have you noticed the clipper technique?

Sleeker, faster, and more aerodynamic. And think of the cooling potential at high speeds!

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The Chrome Streak and Cancer Boy.

You can check out Anthony's Blog here - and also make contributions to his very worthy efforts.

A Little Off the Sides, Please...

My buddy Anthony Epp, Marathoner and Ironman and all around good Joe.

He's going to sacrifice that luxuriant crop of hair, his dignity, and his public image for a good cause. Anthony is raising funds and awareness for Cancer by training for his next Ironman with the Iron Cops for Cancer.

The Mad Barber. A little trim? Sir, Yes, Sir!

Making a difference - one hair at a time.

The slow realization sinking in. But really, notice that clipper technique! Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Momentary Lapse of Reason...

There is no disputing that running a Marathon (I know, I know - not racing) every two weeks probably causes a little brain damage that manifests itself as a low-grade hallucination.

And every once in a while a Blog has to fall prey to an inside joke.

The truth of the matter is that I am a hardware hound and when I was flying up north for the Smithers Mountain Madness Marathon I was aghast to learn from Justin that there probably WEREN'T going to be any finishing medals!

I mean come on!

It's true.

I am a medal whore...

So Justin and I had long conversations about running marathons for the love of the sport and running and the joy of the open road and endless blue skies and the love of the pack and your running buddies and not needing any medals to achieve a sense of satisfaction and personal accomplishment and a whole bunch more tripe that was pure hogwash!@*#!

Once in Smither's, Justing and I found out that we made up 25% of the field. No, seriously, there were only eight people running the full marathon. And about a hundred more running the Half Marathon.

So we talked Aidan, Justin's brother who hadn't run in six months, into doing the marathon with us to round out the field to ten (it only ever got to nine)...

Aidan's heart rate popped up to 180 plus at the halfway mark during the marathon as the temperature crept towards 80 degrees, so we punted him at the Half Marathon mark (we didn't want to break him).

A subsequent search on Google! revealed that it hit 27.5 degrees Celsius in Smithers on Sunday, or a whopping 82 degrees Fahrenheit.

Justin and I sauntered in at 5:01 and change after running a beautiful and unbelievably scenic marathon course through the back country gravel roads around Smithers and Telkwa.

My average heart rate for the entire marathon was 127. My maximum heart rate was 144.

A great Sunday Long Run and a wonderful training run for the Stormy 67K Ultramarathon Trail race I will be running in early August.

Justin and I finished tied for 6th and 7th Overall.

And young Justin Callison was the only one in his class - hence, our amazement and astonishment when the announcement rang out that he was the new Smithers Mountain Madness Marathon Open Male Champion!

The Overall Winner and Masters Winner finished in 3:10. A very respectable time in the heat and hills of Smithers.

So after all my moaning about Justin and I flying six hundred miles to run in our home town - we both graduated from Smithers Senior Secondary High School - and not getting any marathon medals, Justin - the tricky little bastard - goes out and wins his class and gets the Champion's Medal.

I am sure it was the low blood sugar, but we howled with laughter for hours.

I have been taking the piss at poor Justin's expense ever since...

Hope the strange string of Dog Blogs now makes sense.

Justin in his very own Middle Earth Epic as the Male Open Champion saving Cactus Jack and Panhandle Slim from Marathon Medal Madness, also known as the "Precious"...

Apologies to Peter Jackson and all Lord of the Rings fans...

Monday, June 26, 2006

The Rise of a Champion

Stop this! Stop this, right now!

I am Justin the Fast, Justin the Fair, Justin the Strong, Conquorer of the Mountain Madness Marathon, Open Male Champion of all Smithers and its Lands! Hail to Me!

Stop this fighting amongst yourselves. It is Madness, I tell you, Madness!

I Beseech you, Cactus and Slimski, to listen to these words...

Verily and Truely, I say unto you; Resist the Evil of the Precious Marathon Medal!

You must follow the Way of the Love of the Pack! Pursuit of Medals is Hollow and False!

You must run together! You must not fall under the spell of the Medals!

It will be the Ruination of the Pack!

Hark, the words he speaks ring true!

Yes, you must run together, and Know the True Love of the Pack!

Seek and you will find the Way of the Pack!

Where may we find the Way of the Pack, oh Great Justin?

Look to the Roads my Young Wolves, look to the Roads.

I think I see it! Yes, I can see the Way of the Pack, Oh Great Justin!!!!

I can not believe we ever fought, Cactus!

I hear you brother, Slim, I hear you.

Thanks to the Great Champion Justin, we have discovered the Way of the Pack.

I'll never get blinded by my love of Medals again, Slim.

Justin has shown us the True Love of the Pack.

He's my Hero!

Hey, he's gone!

Hey, which did he go? Posted by Picasa

The Return Of Cactus

Unhand my Precious Marathon Medal, you Nasty Slimski!

I earned the Precious with every long run and hill work out and interval I ever did!

You don't know the true power of the Marathon Medal, scurvy dog!!

You mangy cur! You don't deserve it. You couldn't catch a blind cat or a fat rat!

You are too old for the Medal, old Dawg! You will get nothing and I will get the Precious Marathon Medal!!!!

My Precious Medal... It's mine, it's mine, I won it!!!!

I'll never give you the Medal.

Why, right now I can tell you are going over your lactate threshold!

I'll bet your heart rate is 196!

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Soooo Tired... Soooo Spleepy...

Yes, my pretty, my beautiful Precious Marathon Medal...

All mine! Yaawwwnnn!

Now's my chance to seize the Medal and control it's awesome power!

Now the Precious Marathon Medal is all MINE!

Is that MY Precious Marathon Medal, you nasty Slimski? Posted by Picasa

My Precious!

Stay away from my Precious Marathon Medal, it's mine. All mine!

I want it!

Nasty Slimski wants my Precious Marathon Medal. Nasty Hobbitsss!

Yes, my pretty. My Precious Marathon Medal is ALL mine.... Posted by Picasa

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Cancer Boy Relives the Boston Marathon

I still have a hint of a smile at this stage.

Mile 19, where the Boston Marathon really starts. Chin up, chin up!

Last 10K, after the Newton Hills. Just hanging on...

Oh Yeah, it hurt. Like a bastard. 3:30:38

Requalified for next year!
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Wednesday, June 21, 2006

The Continuing Adventures of Cancer Boy

What a day! Yesterday that is. A client failed to show for a meeting and after waiting fifteen minutes I pulled the plug. So I drove home - thirty minutes each way - and walked in the door to have said client call, apologize profusely and beg me to come back. My face was killing me, and I have been suffering from low-grade headaches which I generally only suffer as a result of a hangover but which I suspect are caused by the ointment I am slathering all over my ugly mug. I gritted my teeth and relented. The things we do for money...

On the way to the client I had someone drive into the side of my Miata. I was puttering along in my lane, the traffic was horrendous and a big silver Audi decided to do a lane change without bothering to check his mirrors. I veered as far away as I could, stopped just short of clipping the parked cars, hit my horn and my brakes - all to no avail. Normally, this would leave me pissed off. But I was too hot and too tired. The Audi pulled over and out emerged a kinder, gentler version of Marcus Welby, MD. Mister silver hair and wire-frame spectacles walked over, thrust out his hand and introduced himself as Bob "D". I already had my licence, registration and pen in hand.

Bob was a little confused, too polite for words and offered his Audi as an office to fill out the paperwork. I wanted to hug Bob and tell him it would be all right. Hey, accidents happen. And Bob obviously didn't have a mean bone in his body. Back in Bob's Audi, leather lined - of course, I filled out two sets of information and handed one to Bob. In parting I wished him a better day than the way it started... Every once in a while you realize that life is like a rowboat, we're all in this together and we're better of if we bail it out together. Rowing in unison doesn't hurt either...

I had no desire to go to the Marathon Clinic yesterday. The Clinic is only three weeks old, but it already seems mired in confusion and a lack of direction. After ten clinics I think I have a pretty good idea about what people need to know in order to be successful in their training. And talks about shoes aren't it. Fuck, if you're in a marathon clinic and you don't know enough to have a decent pair of runners... well, it just doesn't happen. But it gives the store an opportunity to shill shoes.

The discussion was on heart rate monitors and the local Polar rep was in attendance. Couldn't miss this one. The discussion was mostly technical and although it was touched on, I didn't think the talk emphasised what I consider to be the most crucial part of marathon training and the benefits of using a heart rate monitor - Heart Rate Target Training Zones. In fairness, the Rep nailed it on the head when she said that the single biggest training mistake was runners doing every run in a clinic at the same level of effort, ie about 75%.

Some little ditz who was at the clinic for the first time went on and on and on, ad nauseum, about how she couldn't get her Polar to work - until I chirped off about it sounding like "pilot error" to me... Is it just me or are there huge numbers of the populous that could really benefit from video replay? Yes, that's you. Yes, you do look and sound foolish. Yes, it might be better if you listened instead of talking all the time...

Everyone who wanted one was then fitted with a heart rate monitor to try out. This is always a moment of truth, because in EVERY freakin' clinic you will get some complete and utter morons who - because they are stupid, mind you - who will begin to speak inanities about "not believing" in heart rate monitors - like it's some kind of bizarre religious sect - and blather on about "training by feel". All of this is complete hogwash of course. The demented souls actually belief this tripe, mind you. And without fail, it will be these dumb f**kers who go too fast on Sundays and will be unable to take instruction in the rest of the clinic. You have to wonder why they even pay to participate in a Clinic when they clearly think they are already too smart to learn anything new. Yet nearly every clinic seems to have a couple of runners who fit that bill...

Tonight, after much discussion (most of which I disagreed with), the decision had been made to show people what it was like to train at 80% of their Maximum Heart Rate, which should approximate their lacate threshold. It was hoped to determine people's Maximum Heart Rate by a formula that was complicated enough for experienced runners but one which I figured was doomed from the start by people who were undisciplined and inexperienced. Better off to run them up some hills after they have been warmed up in my not so humble opinion, at least that way you have a base line that is applicable to some real world training practices. And you would get a safe and easy 95% heart rate reading in fifteen minutes of effort.

Of course, what would 80% of your Maximum Heart Rate be if you didn't already know what your Max was??? They fell back on the old standby of 220 minus your age. For most of the people in the clinic, that would have meant a Max of somewhere between 180 and 190. In theory. So at 80%, their new little Polars should have been reading somewhere in the neigbourhood of 150-155... And they were clearly instructed to stay at 80% for the first part of the run.

The plan was to run for twenty minutes at 80% and then go hard for five minutes. It took me a few minutes to get up to 160 and then I sat there - dead on 80% - at least for me that is. In a few minutes Anthony breezed by me, hardly breaking a sweat or breathing hard - there's a reason he runs close to three hour marathons. Within ten minutes I was conscious of quite a pack of people just behind me. Christ, it was impossible not to hear them. And ALL of them breathing hard. Not anywhere near 80%, all of them at 85% or plus, plus,plus.

I started asking for heart rate readings and all of them were 170-180. It was a miracle! They had Max Heart rates of 220!!! In awe I watched them pass me, dreaming of the days when I would soon be watching them in the upcoming Summer Olympics!

I shook my head, resisted the urge to race, gritted my teeth and stayed at 160. The pack flew by, led of course by the couple who don't believe in heart rate monitors and the ones who believe every training run is a race, and left me in the dust.

At twenty minutes, when Anthony asked everybody to go hard, it was easy to pass them all within a few hundred meters, because they were already going flat out. Three or four runners actually had to STOP because they didn't have anything left!

I remembered that I was running the Marathon in Smithers in five days and after I saw 194 - yes, that's about 96% of my Maximum Heart Rate - I pulled off into the infield. Rather than lose my temper, I headed back to the clinic. My average heart rate for the twenty minutes? About 75%, about right given the two laps it took me to get up to 80%. My highest heart rate. 95% plus. Or about what people were supposed to find out.

End result of the evening? A completely wasted work-out for just about everyone in the clinic. The people who wouldn't listen - like the couple who don't believe in heart rate monitors, or who couldn't be bothered to listen, effectively ruined the training session for everyone in the clinic. The data that people received won't be worth apinch of coonshit as my Grandaddy used to say... Oh, it's going to be a long, hot summer...

Monday, June 19, 2006

Run From the Sun

Let's talk about the C-word and being PC. No, not that particularly vulgar Anglo-Saxon C-word that is the equivalent of going thermonuclear in an arguement involving both sexes, nor am I about to go all politically correct.

I am speaking of the other C-word. The Big C. Cancer. Skin cancer to be exact, and PC is short for pre-cancerous skin lesions, or as they like to say down at the lab - Actinic Keratosis. The bush league version of the Big Leagues, the Basals, Squamous, and the biggest of them all, the Melanoma Cancers, baby!

It sounds hideous, and let me tell you, under a magnifying glass and after ten days of slapping 5% Efudex Fluorouracil on a colony of them, it
looks hideous. I may as well be a leper in James Michener's novel Hawaii...

As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, I was suspicious of a patch of skin on my forehead that just wouldn't seem to heal (and a tiny spot at that, no more than one or two millimetres across). For a couple of months the spot wouldn't go away, and every once in a while, after coming out of a shower and toweling off, it would begin to spot with blood all over again.

The irony of the following is that last Fall I wrote a script about a writer who finds out that he has incurable cancer and an unagreeably short shelf-life.... Yada-yada-yada... The rest of the plot details are another Blog. Anyways, I am a bit of a research fiend - finding it one of the most enjoyable aspects of writing - so I was soon knee-deep in all kinds of material on cancer.

I vividly recall my skin crawling at the time as I read all about more kinds of cancers than you would ever want to know about. As I eyed this little patch of petulant epidermis, I already
knew that it was all fucked up and probably cancerous. So when I was referred to a dermatologist who confirmed what I already suspected, it was no great surprise. But it was a little unsettling to be examined by the Doctor like a bug on a pin as he slipped on his Buck Rogers magnifying glasses, with high-beam lights for extra measure I hasten to add, and pored over like I was the latest edition of Playboy magazine at Summer camp.

The Doctor and I reviewed a couple of treatment options. One was a quick and dirty, freeze the little bastards on the spot. The second, based on the premise that for every abnormal skin lesion you see, there are four more hiding in the bushes, was slather on a chemical ointment for 45 days and rout out ALL the abnormal skin cells. And let me tell you, the before and after photos of the ointment treatment are nothing to sneeze at. And the Doc was right up front about asking me if I was worried about my appearance over the next month and a half...

Never having made a living with my mug, and rather than freezing the visible trouble spots, we said, well, I said, let's go the scorched earth route and spray my face down with chemicals and see what happens. Ten days in it is a sight to behold. I have bright-red, very sensitive and extremely painful lesions all over my forehead, cheek bones and temples. All the places that get lots of rays.

My bid to be the poster boy for skin cancer is not really that surprising. I fit the classic profile in any number of ways.

Here are my qualifications to be this year's Cancer Boy:

Fair Skin - even worse, I am a freckle-faced red head. The single highest risk group. Yikes!

Sunburns as a child - growing up outdoors on the Canadian prairies, I spent my summer shedding my skin like a little snake.

Age - at 45 going on 46, it would be more unusual if I had no Actinic Keratosis, than if I did. Which, trust me, I do.

Sun Exposure - a large part of my life has been spent outdoors, and I also had increased exposure from years spent skiing and being on the water. I have travelled a lot near the Equator, and as much as I have used sunscreen, I have also used tanning booths in the mistaken belief that they would help me "pre-tan" before being exposed to the sun. I have logged many miles outdoors in the sun.

I have smartened up in the past ten years, waering lots of sunscreen and many a hat, but the Doc tells me that by then, most of the serious damage was already done. The skin lesions I have today are the result of a lifetime of over-exposure and neglect.

So I have thirty-five days of treatment to go, and based on the pictures I've seen, it's going to get a lot uglier before it gets any prettier. Of course in my case, that might mean ever! The good news is that the Efudex really does seek out and destroy all the abnormal skin cells present. Afterwards, it will be 60 Sunblock plus.

The bad news is that it is estimated that anywhere from 2-5% of actinic keratosis, or in laymen's terms, "pre-cancerous skin lesions", go on to develop into basal skin carcinoma's, or squamous skin cancers. Some people think that all such lesions are ALL precursors to skin cancer.

So for your reading pleasure and edification - and maybe a little education - I enclose the following Links.

And as for that troubling little spot on your forehead: when in doubt - check it out!

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Five Kilometres to Hell and Back

Krista looking as fresh as a daisy after the Longest Day 5K.

Disgusting, isn't it?

I finished a few foot steps in front of her and was coughing up pieces of lung for the next few hours. My allergies and asthma kicked up and I really struggled between kilometres one and two. Five minutes in I almost dropped out, and at twelve minutes in I could sort of breath again. But in the intervening minutes the field streamed by me, including most of my age bracket...

Between kilometre one and three, Justin - who is getting faster by the week it seems, while I get fatter (hhmmmnnn, is there a correlation there?) - had put almost four hundred metres between us. I have lost my heart rate monitor chest strap so I am without a tachometer these days. I have no idea what my heart rate was. High! But at 3K I gave full chase. Afterwards, I thought I was going to stroke out. Justin hit 196 beats per minute at the end of the race, and I could get no closer than 12 seconds - probably a 80 or so yards. I finished in 21:47, a time for a 5K that was pretty disappointing, but given my training program of lots of mileage and not much speed work, maybe not so surprising...

Between fighting off his cold and my late rush, at least it looks in the above photo that we gave young Mr. Justin a run for his money...

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The only thing that made the race bearable was the BBQ afterwards and the beer tent. Let's all hear it for the beer tent. The Thunderbird Track Club really put on a great event.

The amazing Mr. Hugh did a 20:36. Way to go Hugh. He then went cycling the next morning at 7:00AM. He invited me, but I chose to stay in bed...

Mr. Patrick, who tooks these photos, did an 18 something. There is a reason I won't show his face here...


Wednesday, June 14, 2006

And still more Edge to Edge Marathon...

These were the Camouflage Kids. Seriously.

All the marathon photos were taken with disposable cameras. Great idea, Dan! The Volunteers had never seen "Tourist Marathoners", as we came to be known, before. They loved it. We were the least serious people on the course. And might have enjoyed ourselves the most. We even encouraged people to sprint ahead of us at the Finish Line. I can assure you that I have never done THAT before, and it was great fun not to care what our time was. All that mattered was a low heart rate. Our time was a leisurely 4:50 or so, done at a comfortable Sunday Long Run pace. Was a great way to have fun while in the midst of training. Would have been nice to be able to relax over a few pints of beer before having to dash home and catch a Ferry!

The beach run. Was great on the hard-packed sand, a little less so on the soft stuff. But what a view!

True Canadian patriots, eh! Notice Patrick's red shoes. Maple Leaf Red!

Justin emerging from the portable. Notice how it blends into the Rain Forest. Justin was a little green himself by the end of the day. Might have been a little seasickness from all the surfing the day before. Posted by Picasa

Edge to Edge Marathon Continued

Pedro, the man who started in all. That's right, my friend, check your watch. If we catch up to you...

The Gang headed home on the ferry. I agree, we look like exhausted runners...

Justin and girls, too cool for school. Surf's up, Daddio...

Me? I was busy feeding the crows. Nachos, anyone? Posted by Picasa