December 29, 2013

A fartlek run

Sunday = speed work. Speed work is always torturous while I do it, but I always feel fantastic when I'm done, and it really does work in getting faster. But just the thought of it today was filling me with dread.

Mark's illness has really made me think about everything I do, and my attitude toward it. I've shifted my running goals for 2014 to reflect this (which I'll write about later), but I've really tried to make everything that I do enjoyable. Mark is always so positive and so happy, even though he has terminal cancer. If he can maintain such a positive attitude, I'm certainly capable of it, too. I even feel ashamed for feeling down about petty things (like speed work!).

So today, I decided that I was going to enjoy my speed work. I chose not to do intervals, and instead, I went for my first-ever fartlek run. A fartlek run is similar to intervals, but there isn't any structure to the length or duration of each interval. You might run hard to that fire hydrant, jog to the corner, run hard to the telephone pole, etc. I've been running for nearly four years, and I've never done a fartlek run!

The temp has been pretty warm here the past couple of days--today it was 34 when I headed out, which felt really nice. I wore my Garmin, just because I thought it would be fun to look at the graphs later, but I didn't set it for any sort of intervals (that would defeat the purpose of a fartlek run). I just started running one of my three-mile routes, and then started picking out small landmarks to run hard to, and then do a recovery jog to. I did some really short, really hard sprints, some at a semi-hard pace, and recovery at an easy jog. None of it was thought out ahead of time, and it wasn't at all structured.

The time went by so quickly, and I knew I'd gotten a good, tough workout. I even burned over 100 calories per mile, which hardly EVER happens! And sure enough, it was fun to see the graphs :)

The blue chart is my pace, and the red chart is my heart rate. There were a couple of super short sprints where my pace got into the 5:00's! I really enjoyed my speed work today, and I definitely plan to do fartleks more often.

I hit a big milestone halfway through my run today, too. In January, I set a goal to run 100+ miles per month, every single month this year. I did it! There were a few months where I just barely made it, but there were also a couple of months where I ran over 200 miles.

The chart shows my totals for each month. I'm running tomorrow and Tuesday, so I'm not done with December yet, but I did reach 100+ miles today, so I hit my goal.

This afternoon, I went to the nursing home to visit Mark. I stopped at KFC to get him some chicken (he requested Popeye's, but there wasn't one anywhere near there). He also asked for 7Up, so I got him that as well. Parking at the nursing home is definitely easier than at the hospital. There's only one floor, so I didn't get to run up 10 flights of stairs--darn ;)

When I walked in, Mark was sleeping, but he woke up when I set down his food. He seemed like he was doing really well--he didn't seem like he was in pain at all, and he was pretty talkative for a little while. He started physical therapy today, to hopefully gain the use of his hand (his left hand is now completely numb--he can't use it at all). He said he's going to be there for nine weeks, but I'm not sure where he got that information or how accurate it is.

Ultimately, we're hoping that he can go "home" to my parents' house under hospice care once he's done with radiation, but because we aren't family, it's not up to us. His only living relative is his nephew, who has to make all the decisions, and it doesn't sound like he wants to do that. But for now, it sounds like Mark will be at the nursing home for several weeks at least, so we'll see what happens when the time comes.

Anyway, Mark was super tired today, and after about 15 minutes of chatting, he kept dozing off. I read him some cards, but he kept falling asleep, so I kept the visit short. I got out his CD player for him so that he could listen to music while he napped (the call lights make the most annoying beeping noise throughout the entire building; I don't know how they can stand it!).

One thing that really melted my heart during our visit today was when I asked him how he wanted to spend his (what he calls) "pocket money". He got a little bit of money in a few cards, and I told him that he could tell me what he wants to spend it on, and I'll go buy it for him. He thought about it for a minute, and then he said he wanted to buy pizza, cake, and ice cream for all the people that live in his group home (where he lived for so long, before going into the hospital). Isn't that so sweet?!

I was going through some pictures yesterday, and I found a really nice one of Mark from a couple of years ago. This was at my parents' house for his birthday:

Cancer just sucks. It always seems to affect the most kind, caring people.


  1. I've read your blog daily since I found you on spark people. What you and your family are doing for Mark is amazing. My Father told me that The hardest part about facing terminal cancer is being alone. He lost his battle at age 49. I agree, cancer just plain sucks.

  2. My grandma, with whom I was extremely close, passed from lung cancer a couple months after turning 73. She smoked her whole adult life and had beaten cancer twice previously. She said even if she had known she'd get cancer from smoking she still would have smoked, because she enjoyed it.

    I miss her so so much.

  3. ^ I second what she said about your family. Our Pastor read 2 Timothy 4:1-8 today
    Reading this most made me think of it, verse 7, "I fought a good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith."

    But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry. (2 Timothy 4:5 NIV)

    God Bless your family!

  4. Awww that is so sweet that he would want to spend the money that way! So heartbreaking how this happens to the most kind people!!

  5. What you and your family are doing for Mark is amazing. I hope his nephew changes his mind. I'm so glad he doesn't have to go through this alone. I will be sending my card this week... from one fighter to another :)

  6. What a sweet man! Every day I look forward to your updates on him. My dad battled cancer for 17 years and had the same positive outlook as Mark. You're right, cancer just really sucks.

  7. I'm so impressed with YOU and your beautiful caring attitude and friendship with Mark. God Bless you and your family.

  8. I know I'm just a broken record here, but I can't express how truly awesome the Slim Katie Clan is to Mark. You, your parents, Jerry and the boys are so incredibly awesome. It will get a lot harder, so for the time being just enjoy his happiness with the treats you bring him and your company. A ways down the road you will be SO happy for this time together, even if it is sad. My mother's cancer was what spurred my decision to live abroad and travel the world, and it sounds like Mark's experience is helping you find joy in things you haven't before. Good for you! <3!

  9. Katie - where/how do you get that graph that shows miles run in a month? Does Garmin do that automatically for you? I'm still trying to figure out everything I can do with mine.

    I love hearing about Mark. You have really portrayed his generous spirit! I agree that cancer sucks as well. I know it doesn't pick and choose, but it sure does seem get the good ones doesn't it? :( I enjoy reading what kind of food you bring Mark each time! :) If I was him I'd be the same way and want all my yummy favorite foods! lol

  10. Katie

    Every evening now.... we (my family) looks forward to an update about Mark... how his day was.... the happiness he found... Last night at 8:05 pm our 10 year old son came running in the kitchen, "Mom, it's 8:05 check the blog ! How is Mark? What did he do !?"

    I can't find enough words to thank you for sharing him with me and my family...

    Cancer does indeed suck, there is no doubt. Maybe... the new year will bring new answers and discovers that we soon bring this monster DOWN !

  11. Cancer just sucks. When my Duane was diagnosed last March with Stage 4 and terminal prostate cancer, a part of me died inside. I'm dealing with it, but not well, and even though he's still here, my greatest worry right now is that I'm not appreciating this time enough, that I will have regrets later. And of course there's the all-consuming fear of being alone. I honestly don't know how I will go on.
    I'm so happy you are taking care of Mark. You have a wonderful family to take on such a huge responsibility, I took care of my Dad in his home while he was in hospice (also from stage 4 prostate cancer) for almost 8 months. It was very very difficult. I have pledged to be a more compassionate caregiver with my Duane.
    I'm hoping they have Mark on better pain meds by now, it sure sounded like he needed them. I am also hoping they aren't withholding the more expensive pain patches (which is what my Dad had--they really helped!) because of cost, since I assume Mark is on governmental Medicaid. The health care in this country is all messed up, it makes me so angry. No matter WHO you are, everyone is entitled to good health care. Everybody matters! Sorry for the preaching, but I worry about my own financial future, because when Duane can no longer work, we have no health insurance, and I have no idea, at this point, what kind of deal we can get through Obama care. That only adds to my fears.

    I did a quick calculation...looks like you ran over 1,500 miles this year. WOW! Just amazing Katie!

  12. Just caught up with your blog and how mark is coping god bless

  13. cancer does suck but it clearly didn't suck the wonderfulness out of mark! what a sweet gesture to want to buy pizza and ice cream for his friends.

  14. What caring people your parents well as yourself....I pray the nephew realizes that Mark knows you guys more then anyone. "You" are his family and who would "he" like to be around at the end of his life? What an impact Mark is having on soooooo many peoples lives....what an example of how we all should be.....he makes me hug more and criticize less. Thanks for making him part of my family.......God Bless HIm.


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