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Thursday, June 28, 2012

Good News / Bad News

My dad is in the hospital.

The trouble started last week. He was sick with symptoms that you would expect to see from a stomach bug. Friday morning, he was delirious and his wife called an ambulance and had him taken to the hospital. My brother called me Friday morning to let me know, but at that point, it seemed that the diagnosis was dehydration, and that he would be ok. Saturday, he continued to deteriorate. I was told that he wasn't conscious, so I should go on with my weekend as planned. I was heading to the beach (more on that in a future post) to spend one night with my mom and go on a dive.

Sunday, my dad was admitted into the ICU and put on a ventilator. His condition continued to get worse, and he was in shock. The doctors did not know what was causing the shock, but were doing plenty of tests while trying to figure it out.

Monday, I was at work and I was called down to the hospital (it's about 2 hours away) because my dad was going into emergency exploratory surgery as a last ditch effort to figure out what was wrong. He was not expected to survive the surgery.

I arrived at the hospital to find that he had survived the surgery, but that they had found nothing and his kidneys and liver were failing. Monday night, he was put on dialysis.

Tuesday, I was again at work and I was called down to the hospital because the doctor wished to speak to the family. We all thought the worst - that we were going to be asked to take him off of life support. However, the doctor said that his color was good, and that he was somewhat stable. He wanted to ask a lot of questions about lifestyle, and what my dad had been up to in the days preceding his illness. He asked about arsenic - would my dad have been exposed to it? We thought no. However, the doctor started treating my dad for arsenic poisoning, as well as the variety of antibiotics that he was already on to fight whatever might have caused the shock. None of the tests had come back positive - no bacteria cultures were positive, a spinal tap turned up nothing. CT Scan was fine. X-Rays were fine. Nothing, absolutely nothing, was coming up positive.

In the meantime, shock causes blood pressure to drop very low, and the blood pressure meds that my dad was being given to maintain his blood pressure are very harsh, and would lead to a survival chance of zero. He only had a few days to be on them, so we had to be aware that the source of the shock had to be found or else he would not survive the week. The surgeon who performed my dad's exploratory surgery said to my brother that "It would take a miracle at this point."

I was supposed to leave for our annual anniversary trip to Little Cayman this morning, and all along Todd and I had been struggling with whether or not we should go. Yesterday, we finally decided to try moving the dates, and we successfully rescheduled the trip. Not only am I upset about my dad, but I'm also a little heartbroken to miss seeing our friends in Little Cayman for the next week. At least we are still able to go, just later.

Dad and me, 2008
Yesterday afternoon, my sister from Florida visited my dad for the first time (she arrived Tuesday night). She called me and let me know that my dad was starting to breathe on his own. He had been taken off of one of the blood pressure meds, and the amount he was given of the second blood pressure med had been significantly reduced. He was maintaining his blood pressure. The doctors were planning to try and take him off of dialysis, and also were going to try and wake him (he has not been conscious since Friday). Miracle? We don't know. He is not out of the woods yet, but it was nice to finally get some good news.

I haven't been down to the hospital since Tuesday afternoon. Yesterday, it was nice to feel normal and get in a full day at work and go for a run after work. I'm planning to go down to the hospital again tomorrow. No news today as to his status, but things are looking a little better. I admit, I am still bummed to not be on a plane right now heading to the Cayman Islands, but at least I'm not at a funeral. My dad and I do not have the best relationship, which is complicated and not something I would ever go into here, but I am glad he is doing better.

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Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Dreaded Druid Hills 10K

I've been wanting to run this race for a while. It's a Baltimore institution. The race is run in Druid Hill Park, and the hills are notoriously brutal. This year, I am unable to run the Pikesville 5K due to other plans that day, so I needed another race. My friend Elizabeth was running Dreaded Druid, so I decided to give it a try.

It was not misnamed.
Look, if you show up at the race dressed as druids, people are going
to want to take their picture with you.
Elizabeth and I (and my friend Dana) met down at Druid Hill Park on Saturday morning. The weather wasn't too hot, which was great because it had been sweltering in the days leading up to the race. Some thunderstorms had rolled in on Friday night which had reduced the temperatures quite a bit.

What can I say about the race? It was a very informal start, and an informal race, which I like. The shirt was very nice:
I love an awesome shirt design!
Elizabeth and I ran faster than a training pace, but we still ran it slower than a PR pace. We stayed together and just chatted it up quite a bit. The hills were rough, up-down-up-down through some very pretty woods around the Maryland Zoo. It was an out and back, so we saw others coming back along the way. We were doing 1:1 intervals, and others were walking up the hills and running down them. Well, our method was working out better, which I know only because we ended up passing most of those folks at the end. They would walk and we would pass them, then they would run and pass us, but in the end, we passed most of them.

By the time I started getting really sick of the giant hills (literally - I started getting nauseous), they ended. We had just a few mild hills during mile 6, and the course ended on a very pleasant downhill.

At the end, there were plenty of folks cheering us on, as well as cold watermelon and ice cold water. And shade! It was a great race, and I would do it again, although I'm not sure that I will. Final time: 1:19:15, not my best, not my worst.

Me & Elizabeth

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Thursday, June 14, 2012

VOLT Restaurant: Table 21

To celebrate my birthday, Todd made reservations at VOLT restaurant in Frederick, Maryland (about an hour or so from my house, you might recall that I've run the Frederick Half Marathon twice). VOLT is run by head chef Bryan Voltaggio, who was a runner up on the show Top Chef. I do not watch this show, I only went to VOLT because the food and experience is supposed to be amazing, and it did not disappoint. We were only able to get weekday reservations, since weekends are so busy, so we celebrated on June 12, even though my birthday is actually June 16.

We were seated at Table 21, which is a 21 course menu (yes, I said 21 courses). We also had a wine pairing, so for every 3-4 courses, they would bring out a different wine to try, getting progressively heavier as the courses got heavier. The food was spectacular. AMAZING. Incredible. The courses are small, and there is a break between each course, so it's not as difficult as it sounds to eat 21 courses. The entire experience took about 4 hours, and I was so exhausted at the end! Who knew eating could be so tiring!

I am no photographer, but I tried to remember to take a photo of each course, so I thought I would share it here. I forgot to take photos of a couple of courses, though, so sorry about that!

The view from my seat - you are seated in the kitchen for Table 21 (Bryan Voltaggio
was not there that night, so you won't see him in the photos)
We're ready to celebrate!
Course 1: Chips and dip, lobster and greek yogurt
Course 2: celriac foie gras, apple, citrus
Course 3: mock oyster salsify, oyster leaf, malt vinegar (this was my least favorite
of the night)
Course 4 (Not pictured): beet blue cheese, fennel, sherry vinaigrette

Course 5: (photo forgotten until I'd finished!) jonah crab, cucumber, green mango, coriander
This was one of my favorites!!
Course 6: strawberry caprese, mozzarella, flowers
This was another favorite, I would say top 3.
Course 7: ravioli garlic scapes, maitake mushrooms, marcona almond
Another favorite. Top 3 as well.
Course 8: halibut, asparagus, hen yolk, caper
Watching the chefs prepare the next course
This guy would announce each course after it was put in front of us
Course 9: bass, jerusalem artichoke, maron carrot, sunchoke
Course 10: soft shell crab, daikon, jalapeno, greens
This one was a favorite!
Course 11: maitake steel cut oats, fresh yeast, sea greens
Course 12: sweetbread (a first for me), sunchoke, bacon, kale
What are sweetbreads? I thought they were tasty, but
would probably not order again.
Course 13: salsify hazlenut, country ham, quince (I was part way through
this one before I remembered the photo)
Course 14: foie gras, strawberry, rhubarb, coconut
I don't care for foie gras, but this was spectacular and another favorite,
probably my #1 favorite of the night. It helped that it took them
forever to put it together, so we watched them make this
through like 3 previous courses. That's quite a buildup.
Course 15: pork belly, cannellini beans, arugula, mustard
Yum, this one was so good!!
Course 16: lamb, cauliflower, chick pea, golden raisin

Course 17: beef, kennebeck potato, rutabega, english pea

Course 18: banana, black sesame, coconut, pineapple

Course 19: parsnip, walnut, cream cheese, apple
Really tasty, also a favorite!

Course 20: chcolate, marshmallow, caramel, peanut
This one was also a favorite!

Course 21: macaron, marshmallow candy, raspberry candy, chcolate truffles
Would I do it again? No, because it's too ridiculously expensive, but if someone else was paying for it? Yes, absolutely, in a heartbeat. I hope to someday go back to VOLT so that I can try some of my favorites in a significantly less expensive Prix Fixe menu (fewer courses, bigger servings).

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Wednesday, June 13, 2012

One More Disney Race

I keep forgetting to mention it...

I signed up to run the Walt Disney World Marathon in January!!!

It's a new course, and it's a 20th Anniversary, with all sorts of surprises in store. I could not resist. It violates my rule of only running a full marathon every other year (January races count toward the previous year). But, oh well. I'm thrilled.

Todd is running it also, and he's made me promise to run it without regard to time, and to stop for pictures and have a great time like I did for the Marathon Relay in January.

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Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Stats as of 31 May 2012

May 2011
63.8 miles
13 hours, 31 minutes
Avg Pace: 12:43/mile

May 2012
34.8 miles -- 29 less than in 2011
7 hours, 28 minutes -- 8 hours, 3 minutes less than in 2011
Avg Pace:  12:52/mile -- 9 seconds slower than in 2011

Year Totals for 2012:
307.3 miles @ 12:43 pace (as of TODAY, not May 31 because I am so lazy)
37,079m swimming!

Goal for June: Post my stats on time.

I ran less this May, and it was really because I took some time off to go to Jamaica, and because I significantly reduced my mileage when Galloway training started. I'm probably going to see my 2012 mileage significantly shorter than my 2011 mileage until the end of the year, since last year I was training for the New York City Marathon and this year I'm training for a half.

Oh, yes, I have some race announcements to make, but I've decided to wait and do them as a separate post, so stay tuned........ :)

A couple more updates for this month. I mentioned that I was having thyroid problems and have since followed up with my doctor. I've increased my meds and things are going well. I had a couple of sleepless nights last week, which led me to believe that I might need to adjust the meds down, but I've now had 3 nights in a row of sleeping like a log, so I think it was just stress or whatever. Or, really, it's been frickin' hot around here, and that makes me not sleep as well.

I then had an ultrasound to check out my thyroid, and as it turns out, I do have some nodules on my thyroid, but they are small and likely benign, so apparently of no concern. In another 12 months, I'll get another ultrasound to check and see if they've grown. In the meantime, my weight has gone down some - it probably won't go down to what it was before since I've put on too much muscle - and my clothes are fitting again, which makes me feel better.

Then, there's also my plantar faciitis, which is better but not resolved. I have new shoes, and that helped. It's not getting worse, but it's not getting better either. I know I need to visit my podiatrist, I just haven't done it yet. The thyroid was a bigger priority. Now that the thyroid is resolved, maybe I'll be able to visit the podiatrist.

Anyway, May was a fine month - kind of boring from a mileage perspective, but fine.

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Sunday, June 3, 2012

Jamaica 2012

Todd and I spent his 40th birthday in Jamaica. We were looking for an easy place to go, and there's a direct flight from Baltimore to Jamaica on AirTran! We left on Friday, May 4 and returned on Wednesday, May 9th. Todd's birthday was on May 7th.

I know that we usually go on these amazing scuba diving vacations and come home with these awesome underwater photos. Or, you see us doing things like hiking or sightseeing. Well, not in Jamaica. For this vacation, we chose to do NOTHING. I mean, NOTHING. We went every day and sat on the beach. 

Instead of staying in a resort, we decided to do something a little more low-key. We stayed at The Blue House, which is a B&B in Ocho Rios. After amazing food for breakfast, we headed down each day to Reggae Beach (about a 5 minute drive - folks at the Blue House drove us each day). We spent three days there, and for the first two days we were pretty much the only people on the whole beach.

Day 3, the cruise ship was in port. So, there was an excursion to Reggae Beach and the beach was packed with cruise ship people. We were given a special deal of all you can drink and eat for $45 each. So, we took it. That was Todd's birthday, so we had a really great time partying with the cruise ship folks.

Our first day, Todd made friends with a cat who lives at the beach.

As you can see, we were alone on the beach

Todd on his birthday

We took "All you can drink" seriously on his birthday
For our last day, we decided that we had to see some of the sights around Ocho Rios, so we spent the morning hiking up Dunn's River Falls. Then, we headed over to the town, but it's the off season, so not much was open and not much was going on. We ended up hanging out in Margaritaville in their pool and playing on their waterslide.

At Dunn's River Falls

At Margaritaville
We had a great time. It was a really perfect and relaxing way to celebrate Todd's birthday!

On the beach 
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