Quick Update

Just a quick update on Gabriel. We have made it to once a month acupuncture treatments. So, far things are going well. The third week is a bit troubling, but nothing to take a step backwards.

His EPI is at bay and he is now a wonderful 91 lb dog. It’s amazing to me to look back at his health record and see 64 lbs in June 2010.

At the age of 6, he is healthy, happy and currently fast asleep on his mat.  We couldn’t ask for more…

Have a great rest of the day.

Ukrop’s 10K Richmond

This race was not on my list this year. I came across this race on http://www.runnersworld.com during a video that was describing some 2011 races to look into.  The video got me interested, so I headed over to the race’s website read through it. Proceeded to check the calendar and noticed a Saturday race, not Sunday. Oh, this would be nice. Sunday races are great, but they make Monday morning a little tough. So, this race would give us an extra day to relax before the work week began.  So, I scheduled in the Ukrop’s 10k only 2 weeks after the Shamrock Half.

This race is in Richmond, Virginia around the VCU area. Packet pick up would be a challenge, since we live 1.5 hours away and there is no packet pick up on race day. To me this is unusual for a 10k race, but after attending and running the race, I fully understand why there is no race day pick ups. We picked up our packet at 8:54 PM on Friday, the last day and 6 minutes before closing.

I did get to walk through the vendor area and speak with the Runner’s World table. I picked up some products for their rwchallenge in Chicago and Philadelphia. Wished the runner good luck tomorrow and was off back home and in bed shortly after walking through the door.

Saturday morning, the alarm went off at 0430. I didn’t move out of bed until 0445. I repeated my morning routine before race day. We were out of the house on the road up to Richmond by 0540.  The ride up wasn’t too bad. I believe I dosed off and got some extra zzs while my husband drove up.

We arrived in Richmond around 0715 and found parking very easily.  We walked through Monument Park where the race ends and saw a large amount of runners and some very creative costumes. A few of my favorites were the canoe/crewing team, and the bowling pins with bowling ball. As, we made our way over to the starting line to find my “H” seeded corral. I got shocked by the length of the starting line.  I knew that there was about 40,000 runners/walkers last year, but once I was there I grasped how long the starting line is for 40,000 +  people.

I must congratulate all the workers and volunteers for how smoothly the starting line went. Each corral moved up to the starting line in an orderly fashion with a visible clock countdown for when the runners could start and the excitement within the corral was great. I was in the “H” seed, which started 8 minutes after the first group started the race. I was seeded with other runners that excepted to finish the 10k (6.2 miles) between 53:00 to 54:00 minutes, each of us had qualifying times to be in the “H” seed and the max cap for my corral is 750 runners. Great rules.  As the clock ticked to 8 minutes and as the other corral was moving out of sight, the rally for our corral began to take form and before I knew it — we were off.

I was one of the first waves of runner in my corral to cross the starting line. I rather be able to set my pace and have the runners behind have to work around me than me having to move around runners while reaching my pace and settling into the run.  My dad the cross-country runner and still running 5 miles a day, taught me that at my first 5k race when I was 10.

As we moved through the first mile,  I was feeling great. My goal was to finish with a time of 52:00 or better. My husband believed that I would and could break 50 minutes, but I was not so sure that would happen. At the end of the first mile, I as at 8:10 minute miles (mm) and feeling confident that 52 minutes was in reach. I got to pass numerous monuments along the way up to the turn, which is shortly after mile 3, but before the 5k mark, a.k.a, half way.

Mile two went by with little struggle. I noticed I was passing more runners, I check my watch at mile 2 marker – 7:59 mm. I made myself back down a bit, I still had 4.1 miles to go and I didn’t want to burn out at the end.

Ah, mile 3 — the turn — went rather well. By this time, the runners were somewhat thinned out, so there was not much a pace slowdown during the turn.  I crossed the 5k mark at 25:18, a PR for me for a 5k. Mile 3 marker was back to a good strong pace of 8:13. I began to think maybe, just maybe, my husband was right.  On the way back, I got to see the other runners across the median. Holy smokes! A sea of runners dressed in black and yellow. I never felt that I was running with that many people.

Mile 3 into 4 came and went. During this mile, I got to see the bowling crew perform a perfect strike in the median.  Everyone was having a great time. Other than seeing the bowling team, I was in a total daze and rhythm that I would not have even notice I ran another mile. If it was not a big yellow and black sign saying mile 4, would have never heard my watch beep for the minute pace for the mile. I decided not to look at my watch and just continue forward. I felt great and really didn’t care what my watch said.

Mile 4 to 5  went the same as the mile before. I heard the cheering, claps, and cow bells, but not one struggle, not one negative thought crept into my thoughts. At the 5 mile marker, I looked down at my watch and my total time was 40 and change. My first thought was I can do this, I can beat 52 PR and possibly break 50. Mile 5 was the slowest with a pace of  8:18. Later I realized, I was 2 minutes and 58 seconds faster than my half marathon time. Not too shabby — even though it does make sense why its faster than my half pace, but still its faster than any other time I completed 5 miles.

Heading to the finish line was great. I heard more cheering and saw a large crowd of people. This is where I ran into my first issue, NON- RUNNERS where actually on the road and crowding it. I almost ran into someone trying to cross the road. Really people, walk the  additional few blocks and cross the road where you aren’t interrupting the race.  I was lucky and didn’t knock them down or get knocked down. I completed 6 with an 8:07 pace.

Now, I am only .2 away from the finish line. I picked up my pace and pushed through the finish line. I saw the clock over the line tick to 58:44 – subtract the 8 minutes from that since I started 8 minutes behind the first pack.  50:44, Official time was 50:42, a PR for a 10K race, and sorry dad for saying this — its one minute faster than your fastest 10k in the last two years!  🙂

My Total Placement

Overall place 3,673 out of 33,322 runners

Gender Place 883 out of 20,261

Division Place 222 out of 3,368

Overall this race was very successfully, not only because of my PR, but 41,360 (runners and walkers) crossed the finish line in an orderly fashion just like they started. The roads were packed with cheerleaders of all ages. The finish line party at Monument Park was great. I got to ‘introduce’ myself to Bart Yasso and get a picture with him. He is such a gentlemen and always has an encouraging word.  His training plan is one reason I have been able to succeed on both races this year. I missed out on meeting some of the Runner’s World team, but there is always Philly.

Even my husband enjoyed the race from the sidelines. Below are some pictures taken at the race.

Shamrock Half Marathon (a little late)

2011 race season has begun. I can’t say it started off on the best note, but the first race is crossed off the list.

My day started at 0445. I was up early to walk and feed the pups, make some coffee and breakfast for my cheerleader and for myself – hydrate and fuel. We left the house shortly after 0530. The race is about 45 mins away and well, finding parking will be a bit of luck. And since, I am part Irish – luck was on our side. We found parking with little effort and close  to the start, yet closer to the finish line.

I signed up for corral 1, which was for runners with an excepted finish line time of sub 1:50. The keyword in that statement is “excepted”.  Finding the corrals was not a problem at all, just slide in line and follow the mass of runners ahead of you.  The wind was very active and since it came off the ocean (the start is only 2 blocks away from the beach) it was cold. While fighting the wind all the runners packed closely together and played our parts as the announcer talked, pumped us up and gave the countdown, just after the National Anthem.

What you may or may not know. The Hampton Roads Area is a highly military populated area, so it would not be an event without honoring our men and women and Old Glory.

The first several miles went well. At the 5 mile marker I was at 42:07, which is a 8:25 minute mile, half marathon completion time 1:50:25. Great, one of 3 groups of 5 completed. I breakdown the 13.1 miles into 3 sections, 2 five milers (total 10 miles)  and a 5K (3.1 miles). I was feeling great, strong and confident.

Remember that wind while waiting to start the race. Well,  the wind was not much an issue during the first 6 miles, give or take some meters. The wind was blocked by a good amount of trees surrounding the road on both sides. It wasn’t until we hit mile 7 shortly after making the turn into Fort Story that I noticed some cool refreshing air.  The road we were on while inside Fort Story is parallel to the ocean with the ocean on the left side . Yet, has the ocean straight ahead.  The road curves around to the right as it continues through and exits the base. This makes it so ocean the is always on the left, but that’s not until traveling about a mile 1.5 run, again give or take some meters, straight into the winds coming off the oceanfront. Fun times! I maintained pace, I live by a riverfront, which is just as windy, so I was prepared for the wind. It wasn’t a wind that makes your feel like your ‘running in place’, but it was gusting. I ran most of that leg enjoying the view of the waterfront.  It’s a calming part of the race for me. I look out to my left side and see numerous cargo ships coming in or out and the various wildlife in the sky or on the sand-mounds. (I don’t call them dunes, because they aren’t that big to me).  Of course, I passed some military members cheering us on or just guiding us through the base.

I passed mile marker 7 and 8 feeling great. Then heading out of the base around mile 9.5. I started to have a mental block that was building in the back of my thoughts and noticed some discomfort in left calf. At mile 10, this discomfort came straight forward with a sharp “quick” cramp in my calf that shot right up to my hamstring. The words “crap, shoot, dang it” (formatted for PG-13) came to my mind.

I fueled with GU chomps at the last 2 water stops. GU Chomps require 4 chomps to make a full serving.  I break it up into 2 since  its difficult to eat or swallow 4 chomps at a time. Unfortunately, as of right now,  these chomps are the only item I have tried out of 10 that does not make me sick/upset my stomach while running.

I had to slowdown and stretch, getting hurt was not an option for my first run of 2011. At that point, I decided to make it to the finish line with very little stops and problems. I continued through mile 10 with a pace of 9:05 and at mile 11 I was at 8:47 and feeling alright. I just wanted to get there, so I picked up my speed and fought through mile 12. When I made the final turn on the broad walk, I pushed my pace to finish strong or as strong as I could.

I crossed the finish line at 1:54:31. Not the time I wanted, not the finish I wanted, but unlike the others who don’t have the courage or guts to make it to the starting line or quit during the race — I crossed the finish line. I felt pretty proud of myself. I have replayed the race over and over again. There is nothing different I would have done. I ran the race, I trained for. Sometimes, there are unexpected things that happen that make runners have to dig deep and realize that today was just not the day.

So, my lessons for my next half marathon on May 15th. Is to find a different fueling product, go out a little slower to be able to power through the mental block that may come up. I will train with more confidence, a few new mantras and the knowledge that sub 1:50 is in reach. Oh, and the next several weeks of training with require some massive hill training. The Marine Half in Fredericksburg as some nice big long hills. The hardest ones are at mile 11, nicknamed “Hospital Hill”. There is a hospital at the top, hence the nickname.  The last battle is within the last mile a runner will have to re-climb the hill they enjoyed some much in the beginning of the race — getting to the finish line will be earned.

Below are some images taken during the race.

A few X-Rays; Gabriel’s spin

Finally, a few images of Gabriel‘s spinal issue. We are still working the images from the MRI, but I’m hoping these x-rays help show the uphill battle we have been fighting.

As described before, Gabriel has a herniated discs between his L1 & L2. The dog‘s spine is broke into 3 different section from head to behind (L1, L2, L3). What a herniated disc means is the disc protecting and supporting the spinal cord is damaged. The damage of a disc has ranged. Gabriel’s disc is severely damaged and is pushing against his spinal cord.

A dog’s spinal cord is very similar to ours (humans). We, humans, have discs that protect and support our spinal cord the same as a dog. The spinal cord transfers all of our bodily function from head to toes — same as a dog’s.  This is why any injury to our spinal cord or its protective layer is critical. Any disturbance no matter how small we can lose the ability to move.

Below are some images are Gabriel’s x-ray. These x-rays show us his herniated disc, but also other problematic discs. These problematic disc could led to additional herniated discs.

Exhibit 1:

Exhibit 1 A –

During the break-down stage  of disc, a calcium build up occurs which causes various issues. In this image the calcium build up is pushing up against the spinal cord causing brainwaves not to make it to other parts of the body. From disc A to the right is where the dysfunction is occurring. The calcium buildup is shown by where the end of the red arrow is pointing.

Exhibit 1 B –

The disc shown here is a healthy disc. You can see that there is no distortion in the x-ray. This is shown by the ‘black’ around where the red arrow is pointing.

Exhibit 1 C –

Both C red arrows are pointing to the ribs.

Exhibit 2:

Exhibit 2 A –

The arrow is pointing to the herniated disc.  The discs on either side of the “A” are normal healthy discs.

Exhibit 2 B –

The red arrow is pointing to the dogs intestines

Exhibit 2 C –

Both C red arrows are pointing to the ribs.

Exhibit 2 Head –

The arrow is pointing to the direction of the Gabe’s head. The opposite direction is to the Gabe’s tail.

(Last Image)

Exhibit 3

Exhibit 3 A –

The arrow is pointing to a compressed disc that may cause an issue as the Gabriel ages. It is common to find more than one herniated disc.  The discs on either side of the “A” are normal healthy discs.

Exhibit 3 B –

The red arrow is pointing to the Gabe’s hip/hip joints

Exhibit 3 C –

Both C red arrows are pointing to the ribs.

Exhibit 3 Herniated Disc

The arrow is pointing to the direction of the Gabriel’s herniated disc.


I hope the images and explanations above help you understand the difficultly and discomfort Gabriel is dealing with. A herniated disc is not an uncommon thing in veterinarian medicine.  Any wrong step or missed jump can cause a disturbance on the disc. In Gabriel’s case, the herniated disc has been deteriorating over time. This may indicate a family bloodline issue or just something that happens. The acupuncture treatments have been helping Gabriel tremendously. I have posted about our acupuncture visits in previous blogs.

Once, we figure out how to convert the MRI images to jpegs or another image format. I will post them up. These images will actually show the disc compression on the spinal. And you will see how lucky we are that Gabriel is walking and that he does not need surgery until we reach a more critical stage.

Treatment Day for Gabriel

It’s Saturday, which means either a long run or taking Gabriel to Boulevard Veterinary Hospital for his bi-weekly acupuncture treatments. It’s acupuncture Saturday, in case you couldn’t figure that out.  Gabriel started with receiving acupuncture once a week. When he was ready, about 2 weeks later, he was moved to bi-weekly with the idea of moving to every 3 weeks then once a month and so on. Unfortunately, we have been in the every 14 days stage for a few months now.  The reason for this — Gabriel loses control of his hind quarters the 12th night or 13th morning. This means he has ataxia (mild case, but not worth chancing). The best way to explain ataxia — is a drunken rear — think of a drunk person not being able to walk straight and stumbling around.  The ataxia is caused because his brain messages are not making it to this back legs. Keep in mind, his herniated disc is in the middle of his back, which means all areas from that herniated disc to the tip of his tail are not receiving signals/messages from his brain. This is why it’s not worth chancing  moving to the every 3 weeks stage.

At today’s visit, we decided to take the acupuncture treatments to the next level. The vet placed 18 needles into Gabe’s nervous system. Normally, it is 20 needles, but this time 4 metal clips were placed on certain needles near his herniated disc. These clips were connected to wires which in turn were connected to an electricity box that was pushing 5 volts through the needles. This helps stimulate more nerves without harming or causing any discomfort to the patient (human or animal).

Gabe did not even worry about it all the extra stuff. Once, the doctor and assistant left, he turned to side and fell asleep for the 20 minute treatment.  As, I type up this post, Gabriel is laying on his bed fast asleep, as though nothing has changed. I am hoping that this treatment keeps Gabriel comfortable longer and in less pain. Fingers crossed.

To help visualize this treatment, I took some pictures. They are a little dark, because we turn off the lights to help calm Gabriel.  And yes, Gabriel slept right though them. 🙂


When I first learned what an Ironman was,  I thought holy crap those folks deserve a tons of respect. Shortly, after that thought, I said to myself — they are flirting with the line of insanity. So, for todays laugh I’m posting this video.

The ironic thing about this video is that I am the nutcase that wakes up at 0400 – 0430 to go running. LMAO — hello line of insanity!

Have a great night!

Saturday’s 11; I mean 12 miler

Today was a scheduled 11 mile long training run. It turned into 12 simply because, I went too far around the park. Sh_t happens. With the completion of today’s run my weekly mileage is at 31. You have no clue how great that feels. I have been struggling with weekly mileage for almost 6 or so months. It’s been a struggle due to work and life. Work has me traveling, which I cannot complain about too much, but it does throw an added hurdle in the routine. Life, well, you know how that goes. It’s ironic and ever-changing. Gabriel’s herniated disc  gave me on heck of scare. Seeing your dog not being able to function from middle of  his back all the way to his tail will definitely get one’s heart thumbing. Oh, and how could I forget the lovely 103.5 temperature I rocked for a few days about a month ago.

My run today was held in the 9 minute miles (9:00 – 9:30), the last 2 where hanging out in the 8 minute miles. This run gave me a much-needed confidence boost, which I needed not only with weekly mileage, but the endurance & stamina I had to push the last 2 miles. I probably could have ranged the minute miles between 9:00 – 9:15, but running over leaves that are covering tree roots and whatever else is lurking beneath. I think its best to slow down and not get injured. Plus, I am not too sure how many people pass through my route at the park especially at 0700.  And remember, long training runs are about putting the miles on your legs. My 12 miler last roughly for an hour and fifty-one minutes. Not too long, but long enough.

People often ask me how I can head out alone and log long runs. So, let me try to explain it — I’m not really ever alone, I have numerous running pals. All my ladies that make up the my running group, DIVAs (Dedicated, Inspirational, Vivacious, Athletes) and many others that are out there running around the world. But, today my running pal was from Runner’s World, who was out this morning busting through his/her own mileage for the day. How do I know this? Its simple — Twitter. Yes, if you can believe it or not — social media is making the world that much smaller. I have never met him/her and I highly doubt I ever will — it’s just nice to know that there is someone else plugging along at the same time. I am know that there are hundreds of people out running at the same time, but its nice to actually ‘know’ one. Especially, when you need the inspiration to push forward.  So, to my running pal today. — Thanks for covering some miles with me.

This 12 miler leaves me with only 2 more long runs before my half marathon on March 20, 2011, my goal is to get under 1:50 or 1:51.

Oh, and I have decided to re-run the Marine Historic Half, this year too. Looks like, the next few months will be fun.

Have a great Saturday!



Treatment Update

Gabe has graduated to having acupuncture every 14 days. We have been at this step for about 3 visits. It’s a step forward in his treatments. He goes about 12.5 to 14 days without any signs of ataxia or rear discomfort.  I’m hoping that maybe in 1 or 2 more visits we will push into adding a few more days.

Hopefully, soon I will get able upload the images from the x-rays and MRIs to help you better understand this complication.