Sunday, June 3, 2018

Running with an Unseen Obstacle: Asthma

John at the Passavant 10k
I have been a runner since I was 14 years old. Like most others, I run to relax, to destress, to think, to reflect. However, in my mid 30's, I continued to have "trouble" every time I ran, which often resulted in bronchitis and a couple times pneumonia, and I stopped running. At around 42, I was diagnosed with asthma and allergies (to mold, dust, and pretty much every tree and grass pollen).
After the second year of treatment for allergies and asthma, I decided to try running again. I found that if I was careful, I could run without any issues. That was at age 44. After a few months of consistent running, my wife, Mollie, talked me into registering for a race . I have been in several races since, including 5k's, 10k's, and half marathons.
The triggers for my asthma issues are mostly from pollen allergies, but I also have trouble when I go from warm air to cold air or vice versa. One of the toughest things for me is that because I lived with asthma for most of my life not knowing I had it, I often don't realize when my breathing is affected - Mollie usually tells me. When I am having major asthma issues, I have coughing fits and often get tunnel vision (dark in the peripheral vision). While asthma affects everyone slightly differently, preventative routines are similar. To combat asthma, like a lot of runners with asthma, I use my inhaler preventatively before races and strenuous training runs.
My running friends may know that I have asthma, but most don't know what an obstacle it is. Unfortunately, if I have an asthma issue, it may take me 2-5 days to recover enough to run without any further issues. The day after an asthma issue typically leaves me drained and exhausted. Therefore, if I want to maintain a good running regimen, I have to be careful and factor in the allergy forecast, temperature, and my activities for the day.
On race day, I warm up, and then let my breathing guide my pace. I would love to be able to push my pace, but know I have to keep my breathing steady. I have to be careful after a race as well.  I try to walk back and forth a lot to cool down slowly. The rest of the day of a 10k or half marathon may present some minor asthma irritation.
I am often stubborn and do things like when I mow the lawn, then run 6 miles. The last time I did this, the run turned rough at the 3 mile turn-around. As soon as I got back from the run, I had a major asthma issue. Afterward I had to take off 3 days from running. This often carries over and affects my races. The morning before my last 10k race, I coughed and hacked through my warmup. I honestly wasn't sure if I would be able to run the race. Finally, my lungs relaxed. I took my time through the 1st half mile, making sure I would be ok. The race went well - I felt great after the halfway point and ran a good back half. I chatted with a few people while waiting for Mollie, and when she finished the race, she told me I was breathing hard and needed to use my inhaler - I didn't even realize I was having trouble.
As I think about my obstacles with asthma, I think about other runners I see using inhalers before or after a race. I do not look at asthma as a handicap or a disability - it is an obstacle. While runners have to respect our bodies and their limits, running with asthma is an obstacle  that comes with unpredictable outcomes. Sometimes everything works out, and sometimes a run has to be cut short or cancelled to prevent longer downtime. For me spring is the toughest time of year - if the pollen count is high, it's almost certain that I will have trouble. However, after that, I can usually run with little to no issues. It is then that I can work on improving my pace.
I do not convey this to ask for sympathy for runners with asthma, but only to explain the obstacle we have to overcome to do what we love. Feel free to look out for us if we are being overzealous and let us know if we are wheezing or breathing weird, as we may not realize it. Happy running!

Friday, June 10, 2016

Once Upon a Time

Once upon a time in a land far far away . . .

I love to ask people to tell me a story. I require them to start it out with "Once upon a time in a land far far away . . ."

I have spent too much time away from writing my thoughts. However, my thoughts are like the thousands of sands trying to get through the neck of the hourglass at one time. I haven't been taking advantage of the venues to express those ideas. Instead, I have been trying to ignore them, stint them while the bottleneck of ideas have made me physically exhausted. I run to release the ideas and clear my head. It's time to set the ideas free and pass them on.

I need to make it part of my routine. I need to blog regularly,  I need to tweet regularly,  and I need to pass on the ideas. In the recent past, I have feared that I would send out too much information, pass on too many ideas. I need to pass on the ideas and leave it up to everyone else whether they want to hear/entertain them.

The Thoughts of a Pirate blog may gain some more random posts, but the educational posts on my other blog will increase.

Thursday, January 28, 2010


Am I so cold & emotionless that I can't cry?  Me, a Spock?  What?  Why
can I get choked up watching a tv show or movie, but I cannot feel
what I need to feel?  Why do I have to be strong for everyone else?
When . . . when do I get to just be . . . be relaxed . . . be carefree
. . . be taken care of instead of being the caretaker . . . be in a
position where I know I can let my guard down long enough to cry . . .
be . . . just be?  When I'm alone, my chest aches, my cheeks feel
weighted down, my jaw feels heavy, my throat tightens . . . but I
don't cry.  Logic tells me to cry.  I rationalize all of my decisions
. . . even when I conclude that crying is the solution, the tears
won't come.  I don't look for problems to solve - people bring their
problems to me.  I solve problems because they are there, not because
the problems are a challenge, but because that's what you do with
problems . . . you solve them, almost a compulsion.  I don't know how
to "stop."   I don't know how to shut down.  I know what I have to do
. . . can a stone-heart do what needs to be done, what has to be done?
 I need to cry - I have to cry.  I need to feel human, not like the
machine that I have become.  I have empathy for other people's
situations, but strain to feel this time.  Instead of being able to
feel, I feel . . . confusion . . . about not being able to feel.  I
ache, but not enough to cry.  If I cry, I can heal . . . I need to

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Christian Symbols in The Old Man and the Sea

While Hemingway makes the obvious connection between Santiago and Christ, he also plays heavily with the symbolic Christian meaning of numbers and objects throughout the novel. In using these numbers and objects that symbolically line up with Christianity, Hemingway solidifies Santiago as the Messiah.

Hemingway immediately initiates Christian numerology in the first paragraph. He refers to the “first forty days” that Santiago has been fishing – “forty days without a fish” (Hemingway 9). According to the Religion Facts website, forty represents “trial or testing” (“Numbers”). The site references Biblical incidents related to forty such as “Noah's flood, Israel's wandering in the wilderness, Moses' stay on Mt. Sinai, and Jesus' temptation in the wilderness all lasted forty days [and] The Lenten Season” (“Numbers”). Hemingway then expresses that in the forty day period, Santiago has not caught any fish (Hemingway 9). While GodWeb states that “the initial letters of each word in the Greek phrase ‘Jesus Christ, Son of God, Savior’ form the word ICHTHUS, which means ‘fish’” (Henderson), Hemingway shows that there is no savior at the beginning of the novel – Santiago is a mere fisherman in the likes of Jesus.

Because of Santiago’s bad luck, Manolin’s parents make him switch to a different team of fisherman, who then catch “three good fish the first week” (Hemingway 9). The ReligionFacts website identifies the number three with the Trinity and seven (one week) with perfection for various reasons, including the seven days of Creation, Paul’s seven gifts of the spirit, and the seven seals, seven churches, etc. of Revelations (“Numbers”). Obviously, Hemingway intends to express the lack of faith in Santiago and the false hope placed in the other fishermen. Using these objects and numbers , Hemingway is able to set the tone for Santiago to become the Messiah, suffering as Christ did as well as saving the fishermen by opening the “gates” to good fishing, as Christ saved his “fishermen” (most of his disciples were fishermen that gave up everything to follow Him) by opening the gates to heaven.

With such intense symbolism in the first page, it is obvious that this analysis can be continued throughout the novel.

Sources (MLA version 7):

Hemingway, Ernest. The Old Man and the Sea. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1952. Print.

Henderson, Charles. "The Fish as a Symbol of Christianity." GodWeb. N.p., 23 Nov. 2008. Web. 02 July 2009.

"Numbers in Christian Symbolism - ReligionFacts." Religion, World Religions, Comparative Religion - Just the facts on the world's religions. N.p., n.d. Web. 02 July 2009.