Sunday, March 27, 2011

Is Big Bird Broken????

Sad news from Anaconda's AOH St. Patricks Day run on 3/12/11.

Thomas Jodoin, aka Big Bird, of Helena pulled off the repeat win in the 3-mile event.  For a guy who's run this event in the low 14's, he got away early and looked well on his way to a quick, easy win.

But, in the latter part of the race, Thomas had to pull up a couple of times with some hamstring troubles.  He held on for a close win over master's stud Pat Judge; but, the win came at a price.

Having fought hamstring issues over the years, it appears as though they've come back and reared their ugly head once again.  Post race comments by Jodoin suggest that the injury may be serious and may curtail his racing this season.

Let's hope it's not as bad as feared.  Big Bird is one of the good guys on the Montana racing scene and the Buzzard would hate to see him out of action in 2011.

Heal Thy Wing Big Bird

The Muddy Buzzard.

Whirlwinds and Fever

The Buzzard's had quite a ride over the last 3 weeks.  It all started on Sunday, March 6th.  Really felt bad all that day with chills, body aches and a fever.  Feelign a bit better by Monday, but still pretty wimpy; and, my sinuses were killing me.  But, didn't really have time for such nonsense.  This was Nick's wedding week and we had to head to Phoenix.  Tuesday, March 8th was a hectic day of work, packing,visit the doctor, pre-season track practice and loading into the car to head to Missoula to start our trip south.

Over the next several days we ran around the Phonenix-Mesa-Tempe-Scottsdale area as we helped the kids get ready for the big event.  I took a dose of antibiotics that I got from the doc; and, by the end of the week was feeling mostly nornal. Saturday the 12th was a day of emotion as I proudly watched my son take the next step on his own life journey.  The ceremony was fantastic and fun was had by all.

Nick and his new bride Katie

It's amazing how something like a wedding take take such an emotional toll on you.  Suprisingly, I cried like a baby through most of the ceremony and during the toasts.  I've never really responded that way before at a wedding; but, it's clearly a whole different ballgame when it's you own child. 

But, as taxing as the week had been - there was no rest for the weary.  Up early the next morning to get in a run - then off to the airport for a 12-hour travel day to get back home by about 9:30 p.m. 

Monday the 14th brought a day of work and the first day of track practice.  Follow that up with travel to Butte - as the first leg of a trip that required me to be in Billings by 10:30 a.m. Tuesday.

Tuesday and Wednesday saw me in Billings working on some corporate issues at the home office - then, off to Butte again on Wednesday night.  But, did have the chance to get in a run in Bozeman on Wednesday evening (just before dusk) as heavy snow came down during a spring storm.

Thursday was travel to Missoula for some work in the Garden City, to Plains by 3:30 for track practice, then a wrestling team banquet that night. 

Friday was back in the office to try to start getting caught up from the travel and PTO of the last couple of weeks, then track practice, then a community fundraising event in the evening.  Though all of this, had been feeling pretty good.  Was getting in some runs, even though my left piriformis was pissed at me from all the traveling, and figured I could get back to my normal routine after a weekend of good sleep.

Saturday the 19th started off pretty well.  Up early to do an optional practice with some of the track kids and to squeeze in my own run.  Then a long, but mostly relaxed day of getting caught up on administrative tasks for track.  Things were going along pretty well until about 7:00 p.m.  At that point, started to feel a bit crappy; but, figured I was just a bit tired.  Headed off to the High School Prom's Grand March at about 10:00.  (In a uniuqe bit of small town charm - parents and family head to the prom and watch as all the kids march across the dance floor.  Quirky but charming.)

By the time we got home, tings were not looking good.  Could tell that I was not feeling well.  And, by Sunday morning - it was clear - I was back to the point where I started two weeks earlier.  And, in fact, I was going backwards.  Chills, fever, body aches, muscle and joint pain, hacking cough.  Not a fun place to be.  Laid me low all day Sunday..................and all day Monday....................................and all day Tuesday.  Probably the first tme in about 10 years that I've missed a day of work for illnes ----- so, you know it must have been bad.  And, running was not event getting close to the edge of the radar.

By Wedneday, I was able to work a little bit; but, after 4 hours of work and track practice, I was wiped out.  Now up to 4 days off running.  Thursday was a bit of an improvement.  Made it through the day a bit better; and, was even up to tormenting a couple of my track kids.  Definately a good sign.

By Friday the 25th I was feelign about 80%.  Still a bit weak; and, not quite at the top of my game; but, I'm pretty comfortable at this point that I'm on the upward part of the spiral.

Yesterday was a pretty good day.  Got some chores done.  Got though some track tasks.  Did some internet browsing.  Even got in a run - 3 slow, easy miles - but a run none the less.  Was pretty tired by the end of the day; and, ended up in bed by about 9:30 (and then getting about 10 hours of sleep)

So, here we sit at the end of a crazy 3 weeks - most of which have devolved into nothing but a blur.  It's a cool, wet day (woke up to snow coming down).  But, I got a good night's sleep.  Feeling mostly good.  Getting ready to cut some wood and burn a slash pile.  Things are definately looking up.

Here's to hoping that the next few weeks are just a bit less intense and let me get back to a normal life.

In the meantime, see you on the roads, tracks and trails.

The Muddy Buzzard

Thursday, March 10, 2011

No Green On The Buzzard This Weekend

With all the St. Paddy's day run action this weekend; and, with the Butte Rat blood that runs through my veins, you'd think that I'd be all over the racing scene this weekend - wearin' some green; drinking some beer; spreadin' some blarney; etc.

But alas, The Muddy Buzzard won't even be in the Big Sky State this weekend.  Rather, I'll be in sunny Arizona attending the wedding of my first born.  Hard to believe that the precious bundle of joy that came into our lives on a wintry January day in 1987 is now starting his own family.

Nick has been in the Phonenix/Tempe/Mesa area for a bit over 5 years now.  It's been a great place for him to grow into a fine young man.  He's getting ready to graduate from Arizona State in a couple of months with a B.S. in anthropolgy; and, will start in a human genetics doctoral program at University of Chicago this fall.

But, before all that, he's got the big event coming up on Saturday.  Around 4 years ago he met a local girl by the name of Katie Hunt.  We met her at my nephew Chris's wedding in Santa Monica on 7/7/07 - and, we hit it off with her right away.  They had a few ups and downs along the way; but, about a year ago it clearly was getting serious. 

This summer, they came to visit us in Plains.  He took Katie up to a little spot on the mountain behind his grandparent's house where he and his cousins used to play when they were little kids.  Erin and Zoe had secretely set up a blanket, picnic basket and deocrations ------ and, he proposed in a spot that was near and dear to him.  What a great way to start their adventure together.

Here's a pic from the engagement album of the happy couple

We'll be in Mesa for a few days to help out ahead of the wedding; the big event on Saturday afternoon and evening, then back home on Sunday.  And, as much as like a good St. Paddy's Day race...................I can't think of a better way to spend this weekend.  Seeing my son take the next step in life with a wonderul young lady is a blessing indeed.  It's as much as a parent can ask for.

So, have fun for those of you hitting the races this weekend.  But, I find it hard to believe that any of you will be able to have a bigger smile or a fuller heart than mine.


The Muddy Buzzard (aka - Happy Dad)

Buzzard Update

Had a follow up visit at the cardiologist last week.  Had been on a drug regimen for my cardiomyopathy diagnosis since October; and, this visit was 3 months after my heart catheterization procedure in early December. 

Through that angiogram, they determined that there were no signs of arterial disease/blockage; but, they did confirm that my left ventricular ejection fraction (LVEF) was only in the 35 to 40% range.  The LVEF is a measure of the amount of blood that is pumped out of your heart and into your arteries.  In most cases, the normal amount may be in the 55 to 65% range.  So, clearly I was only pumping out a small fraction of what I should have been.

Since October, I had been on a cocktail of beta blockers, ace-inhibitors, statins and blood thinner.  The goal was to lower my blood pressure and blood viscosity in order to make it easier for my heart to pump out the blood.  By lowering the pumping resistance, the theory is that the heart can get stronger and improve function.

The big concern of a low LVEF (35% or below) is a pretty big increase in the risk of sudden cardiac arrest.  So, if we weren't seeing an improvement in my LVEF, he wanted to have a discussion about implanting a defibrillator.  Although the risk is still pretty low of a cardiac event (even at 35% or below it's maybe 1% risk), there are no warning signs/pre-cursor events.  If it happens, it occurs without warning and unless you have an internal defibrillator or an AED available for immediate action, it's almost always fatal. 

Needless to say, none of that discussion was very comforting.

So, off I went to get another echocardiogram to see if the meds had been at all successful.  After waiting for several days, I got a phone message from the doctor's nurse yesterday with some good news.  My ejection fraction has improved to the 45 to 50% range.  Not yet in the normal range; but, a significant improvement over a few months ago.  And, most importantly - it takes the discussion of a defibrillator off the table.

Have another follow up visit in a month - at which time we'll visit some more about continuation of treatment by meds and lifestyle issues (i.e. running and racing).  But, it certainly looks like there's a bit of a ray of light shining through.

See you on the roads, tracks and trails

The Muddy Buzzard

To Your Marks

A big, big weekend of racing coming up in the Big Sky as road racing kicks off as winter begins to fade. In fact, the pre-Saint Paddy’s Day weekend has turned into one of the busiest weekends of the entire year for Montana distance enthusiasts.

Perhaps the grand-daddy of them all would be the AOH (Ancient Order of the Hibernian’s) St. Patrick’s Day runs in Anaconda. Over the 30+ years that this race has been around, there have been some super competitive fields including many of the who’s who of Montana distance runners. I personally have some great memories of this race from the early and mid-80’s - great competition followed by some great post race socializing at the Locker Room bar (aka – throwin’ back a few brews and telling road race lies).

Another long time staple on the racing scene (and more geared to the eastern part of the state) is the Yellowstone Rim Runner’s Shamrock Run. This race serves as the club’s membership event and always draws a big group of Billings and Billings are runners. There was a period of about 15 years where this race served as my kick off the season. Fond memories indeed.

Then we get into some of the newer events on the schedule. There’s the Run To The Pub in Bozeman for Bobcat fans and the Run For the Luck of It in Missoula for the Griz (which starts and finishes at Sean Kelly’s Irish Pub) ……………………..hmmmmmm – seems to be a bit of a malt beverage theme in the college towns :D

And, let’s not forget the March Meltdown in Polson; the Saint Patrick’s Day Dash in Great Falls (a benefit for the UGF track & XC programs); or, the Lucky Leprechaun Fest in Helena (a benefit for Eagle Mount Helena – a great program that provides outdoor recreation opportunities for folks with various disabilities).

With cabin fever setting in, lots of folks look forward to getting out and putting on their racing shoes during this weekend. Some will use the races just to get the season started. Others are using the events as tune-ups for Boston or other spring marathons. Some will be running their first ever road race and getting indoctrinated into the wonderful sport that the Buzzard enjoys so much.

Regardless, this weekend starts to set the stage for who’s going to be the hot runner’s for the season. Expect to see names like King, Hunt, Grant, Newton, Jodoin, Judge, Braun, Strode, Bazzanella, Gibson, et al at the front of the fields.  And, who knows - maybe some new names will emerge as "leaders of the pack".  No matter what the case, it should be a fun weekend.

The Buzzard can only say one thing – Run Hard, Run Fast, Run Happy

See you on the roads, track and trails

The Muddy Buzzard

End Of February Results & Highlights

Some surprisingly good racing up front for at the Snow Joke ½-Marathon a couple of weeks ago. On a very cold Saturday morning, with less than ideal road/footing conditions, Jimmy Grant of Missoula defended his 2010 title. Breaking the tape in 1:14:56, Jimmy secured an almost 4 minute win over Adam Jensen (1:18:25). Great time given the conditions. After not hearing much from Jimmy during the fall season, he’s clearly back in the game for the 2011 racing circuit. A close 3rd went to Flathead High School distance ace Zac Perrin in 1:18:51.

On the master’s side, Scott Gaiser of Kalispell held off Brian Fruit of Missoula – 1:25:20 to 1:29:22
The women’s field was headed by Kara DeWalt in 1:23:57. But, the best female race of the day was on the master’s side. Julie Gilchrist of Ovando secured a win over the 2010 Master of the Year Debbie Gibson of Helena – 1:36:51 to 1:38:36.

You can find full results at

The other big news from the Montana distance running scene was at the Big Sky Conference Indoor Track & Field Championships. And, two of the stars at that show were MSU’s Patrick Casey and UM’s Katrina Drennen.

Casey won his signature event with a 4:10 mile. In addition, he was a member of the winning Distance Medley relay team. Having an off day in the 800 (word has it that Patrick was fighting some illness in the week leading into the meet), he placed 6th @ 1:55.58. Pretty incredible talent when an off day gets you a 1:55!!!

Drennen probably did Patrick one better during the meet. Securing wins at the 3,000 meters and the DMR, she added a 2nd in the mile. Pretty big day of points for the Griz star.

Both will be in action on Friday, March 11th at the NCAA indoor track and field championships. Casey has the #1 seed in the men’s mile (based on his sub-4:00 effort at Bozeman earlier this year – and the subsequent altitude adjustment); and, his heat will take off at 4:00 p.m. Looking at the field, I think Casey should easily get himself into the final. And, if all falls into place properly – he clearly has a shot at an individual title.

Katrina will be next up at 4:15. Seeded 16th in the women’s field, she’ll have a harder path to make the finals. But, magic can always happen at the big meets – that’s why they base the results on the actual races and not the seed times.

Good Luck to both Patrick and Katrina at Nationals. Go Cats!!! Go Griz!!!!

The Muddy Buzzard