Sunday, September 21, 2008

Running for Team Parkinson

About a month ago, shortly before going to Arizona for my brother's wedding, my 71 year old dad told me that he had been diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease. I had never (personally) known anyone with the disease, and didn't really know much about it - so I did some online research and learned quite a bit.

According to Wikipedia:

Parkinson's disease (also known as Parkinson disease or PD) is a degenerative disorder of the central nervous system that often impairs the sufferer's motor skills and speech, as well as other functions.[1]

Parkinson's disease belongs to a group of conditions called movement disorders. It is characterized by muscle rigidity, tremor, a slowing of physical movement (bradykinesia) and, in extreme cases, a loss of physical movement (akinesia). The primary symptoms are the results of decreased stimulation of the motor cortex by the basal ganglia, normally caused by the insufficient formation and action of dopamine, which is produced in the dopaminergic neurons of the brain. Secondary symptoms may include high level cognitive dysfunction and subtle language problems. PD is both chronic and progressive.

PD is the most common cause of chronic progressive parkinsonism, a term which refers to the syndrome of tremor, rigidity, bradykinesia and postural instability.

My dad had been having trouble with his balance - and falling quite a bit - when he was diagnosed. He has the typical Parkinson's "shuffle" but is still getting around ok.

Last year, I ran the Marine Corps Marathon for my mom - not so much for a charity but for the fact that she suffers both from Heart Disease as well as Emphysema - and could never run, let alone walk, around the block.

This fall, I have decided to dedicate my running of the San Antonio Rock N Roll marathon to my dad and to use the occasion to help raise money for Parkinson's Disease research. I have a link here on my blog if you want to donate for this run - I have no big fund raising goals to meet (I set my own goal at $500 but no minimum limit like TNT). I would like to run in honor or memory of anyone you know who suffers from PD. Feel free to email me their name at and I will pin it on my race jersey and dedicate a mile to them. No donation is necessary if you want to send me a name. I am just happy to be running for others and for my dad.

Today's Long Run:
I had a good long run today. Since I was going "only" 13 miles, I figured I would push my pace a bit and see if I could keep it under 12 min/mi. I came pretty close - but the run was more work that I thought it would be with 74 deg F and 100% humidity (the fog was so thick I could see about 100 feet in front of me). There was very little wind and I was sweating so much, my feet were squishing for all the sweat that ran down my legs into my shoes!

My Garmin has been acting flaky lately, and around 11 miles got weird and started counting backwards on me....I ended at about 9.5 miles! After downloading my run to Sport Tracks and fixing the route, it was more like 13.3 miles. I recorded it in my log as 13.2. My pace was about 12:03 min/mi. I am very happy with that.

I will be back to the longer runs next weekend (18 scheduled). On Saturday, I am actually running my first race since April - the Miracle Mile 15K. I am not going to go for a PR (I would need to maintain a 10:40 min/mi pace for that) but instead will target running it at my goal marathon race pace (around 11:15 - 11:30 min/mi). Hopefully it won't be too hot!


Marathon Maritza said...

what a wonderful tribute to your dad :)

I think I read that someone else's Garmin also started going backwards but I forget who, strange! Glad you figured it out to see that you got the pace you wanted!

Your "another run bites the dust" comment made me laugh, love that!!!

Maddy said...

I think it's really sweet that you are running for your dad!

And you are rockin' and rollin' these days!

I was planning on Miracle Miles, but because I'm recovering, I think I'm going to sit this one out. Darn. I really wanted a practice race before Chicago.

lizzie lee said...

How nice to dedicate the run to your dad...

I hope you achieve all your goals

Susan said...

Good luck at the 15K! I like using races as "slow" training runs.

Excellent work on the PD running. I think we should all run for something!

Star Wars Runner said...

I am sorry to hear about your dad. My payers are with both of you.


Rural Runner E said...

Sorry to hear about your father's diagnosis. You are doing a wonderful thing on his behalf. You have a fan who will be following.

ShirleyPerly said...

Sorry to hear your dad has Parkinson's but I think it's wonderful that you're running in honor of him and others with the disease. Weird about the Garmin!

And, indeed, it was foggy on Sunday morning! Dave and I were riding our bikes and just hoping cars would see us OK.

TwoDogs said...

Hi Chris,

Sorry about your Dad's diagnosis. I too have someone close who was diagnosed with Parkinson's. She was diagnosed 3 years ago at the age of 42. I had given some thought to fund raising for Team Parkinson, but hadn't gotten very far. I'll have to give it a renewed effort with you setting such a good example.

IrishBlue said...

Chris, sorry to hear about your dad. We'll keep him in our thoughts and prayers.

Good luck with the training and your upcoming race. Also, congrats on going back to school!