RIP Floyd

I was wrong. I thought Floyd had another week or so left. I thought I would stay home today with him, since Steve flew to LA last night for a one-day business trip. I thought I would hang out with Floyd, get some work done, and do my hard track workout. But, things can take a sharp turn very quickly.

Yesterday, Floyd seemed fine, as fine as you can be when you have a 100% fatal untreatable virus. He ran to the door to greet me when I got home, ate some food and a little ice cream, wandered out to the patio and back. He seemed fine. And, then after Steve left, around 10:45 last night, suddenly Floyd couldn’t walk. I watched him stand up and fall over. He stumbled and dragged himself halfway across the room before collapsing. I carried him to his bed and tried to give him some water, but he was so upset and confused. He jumped out of my arms, but his legs couldn’t hold his landing and he crashed into the wall.

We thought we’d see how he was in the morning after sleeping, but he never fell asleep. He threw up the first time in my bed around midnight, and after I cleaned it up and put his little bed and some towels on top of our bed for him to lay next to me, it just got rapidly worse. He started shaking and making these little moaning noises as he tried to breathe. He’d still try to get up, but would just fall back over. Sometimes, I’d swear he had actually stopped breathing, but then he’d have a sort seizure fit and let out this terrible wailing noise. Those painful, awful seizure fits got more and more frequent and violent after 5 a.m. I laid in bed next to him, dozed off twice during the night for 20 minutes and each time woke to him trying to struggle to get up. And he just kept looking at me wondering why was I doing this to him.

At times, the look he got as he stared at the floor, with both his front paws splayed out, reminded me of the look I get when I’m really sick. It’s the I can focus and make this go away if I just try hard enough look.

After Steve said good-bye over the phone, I took Floyd to the emergency clinic early this morning so they could put him out of his pain as quickly as possible. With him crying and limp in the front seat, barely able to see consistently anymore, we got caught in the very early commute traffic. The sun was just coming up and blinding both of us. And I’d been laying in bed all night, half reading a magazine article and trying to keep up my tiny cat’s spirits, I’d forgotten it was just a regular Wednesday.

I was the only person at the emergency clinic. I said good-bye and promised they’d make it stop hurting now and they took him away. I could have stayed with him the whole time, but then they want to make it pleasant and not messy for the owner, so they do it by IV drip and it takes much longer. We’d had enough time and he just needed to be done.

This blog will be about sports again soon, but not right now. One last time, it’s about Floyd:









And, on we go.

Yesterday was the first day – other than when we were in the mountains and didn’t have internet – that I didn’t post anything on here. It’s probably obvious why. And, I don’t have anything particularly brilliant to say today either.

Although I pretty much just want to sit on the couch and watch TV, I’ve more or less been getting some work done and most of my workouts. I even managed a pretty hard workout on Sunday. Well, sorta managed. I did five of the six efforts, which is like a B+. I suppose there just isn’t really anything else to do. So, on we go.

Sunday, it was actually really sad, though. I headed out for a ride and when I got back and was changing to go back out for my run, Floyd was following me around. But, he’s not doing great. He was sort of stumbling and I had to hold his water bowl up for him to drink out of. And, he so wanted to go outside with me.

After I got home, then, and while he was still feeling pretty active and able to do stuff, we brought him up to the open space ridge above our house and took him for a walk on his leash. He loved it. And, then we took him down the street to the ice cream shop, so he could have as much vanilla ice cream as he wanted, which was like two spoonfuls –but that’s a lot for a 4 lb. cat. Now, he pretty much just eats ice cream, turkey, and steak, and spends all day sitting on his heating pad. I may let him have some beer too, since he’s always wanted to try one.

When he was like 3 months old. Always about the beer.
When he was like 3 months old. Always about the beer.

And, in the next week, maybe two, it seems like that’ll probably be that. And, he’ll be done.

I don’t know what else to day about it, so, instead, here is a video of a horse that ran amok in a bike shop.

What Can We Handle? Floyd the Cat Has FIP and Isn’t Going to Get Better

There are, throughout life, these little moments that are so insanely perfectly awful that they become wedged in your brain as symbolic of so many other things gone wrong, of larger problems. And, yet, there is nothing to do but store these moments up as stories to turn into bleak jokes at parties or trot out as anecdotes in future novels. You can only hold onto them.

I had one of those back when Steve was released from the hospital after six days and surgery — six days that I had driven back and forth, slept little, crammed in work when I could, and slowly come unraveled. The afternoon after Steve was released, I had to oversee my high school kids at a cross-country meet because the head coach was out of town, at which I quite literally nearly drove over the side of a cliff because I was so gone I couldn’t tell the car wasn’t in reverse. Then, I moderated an election debate, even though I had no wherewithal to do so, because I had already committed before the accident. On my way home, I was stopped at a DUI checkpoint and the cop who tapped on my window was the same cop who had pulled me over a few weeks earlier. At that time, a few weeks earlier, I had started crying from whatever myriad of fatigues and small slights seemed overwhelming then. But, that night, and that whole week Steve was in the hospital, I didn’t cry. So, the cop tapped on my window, I rolled it down, and he said: I’m glad to see you’re having a better week. Which was so unequivocally untrue, so mind-blowingly inaccurate — whatever had seemed so terrible a few weeks earlier paled so drastically in comparison to the previous six days — that I couldn’t cry. I couldn’t do anything but laugh hysterically.

It was one of those perfectly awful moments.

I had another one this past Friday. For a variety of reasons, this week was harder than it should have been — too many stories not panning out, essential calls not being returned, the kind of fatigue from work that builds up sometimes into a sharp malaise. And Thursday I went to an event that, because of specific circumstances I won’t go into on a public site because I’m not as stupid as I look, was sort of awful and tiring.

So, I intended to wrap up work early, run/explore a new trail, hang out with Sachini on Saturday, throw my own one-person Oscar party Sunday — you know, have a weekend. Then, I got back to the car from my run Friday afternoon and there was an email on my phone from the vet: Just got test results back. Looks like Floyd unfortunately has FIP, which sucks and strikes kitten. Protocol is generally to make them comfortable: sometimes they can go on for a few months before being put down and, sometimes, if they’re really sick, then they have to be put down right away.

Wait. What.

I rushed home and jumped on my computer, because isn’t that what we do now when something is wrong. I learned that FIP (Feline Infection Peritonitis) is a rare, strange, and 100% fatal disease that comes from a very common virus that somehow, in some cats, mutates into a fatal version and destroys their organs — in summary. There is nothing to do about it.

It turns out, then, that Floyd isn’t just sad and not eating. He doesn’t need a friend. He’s anemic, yes, but it can’t be fixed by antibiotics. If the diagnosis is right, and it almost certainly is, then he is simply dying.

But, Friday evening, I didn’t have a lot of time to do anything with this information. I had to be at a writing critique group that I had previously committed to. So, off I went.

At the group, I got ripped into. It happens. The story I had written wasn’t great and there were problems with it. That was why I had submitted it for critique. There would have been things that people could have said that I would have understood. But, instead, it started with one girl, who I’m fairly certain already didn’t like me based on my previous mocking of her use of the word ‘passionate’ in conversation, spending an inordinate amount of time telling me mostly everything was wrong. The main character wasn’t likeable, it didn’t resonate, it lacked description (writing groups are always going on about more description), it was shallow and not colorful, it wasn’t believable – even the things that were actually literally true. And, perhaps what was most odd to me: some words were wrong or used incorrectly or didn’t make sense.

Since I do write for a (pretty decent) living, I don’t generally use words incorrectly. It’s not something I’ve done since college. I couldn’t figure out what she was talking about.

While other people in the group had other things to say, some good and plenty bad and most of it fair, the initial barrage was more than a little overwhelming. The criticism slowly piled up and the confusion over my word choice kept cropping back up. When I said the well-manicured women had “expensive husbands,” someone had crossed out “expensive” and written “wealthy,” as if I simply didn’t understand the difference between the two words. (No, it was deliberate, supposed to be a commentary, oh nevermind.) When I described big houses with “moderate lawns,” no one knew what that meant, perhaps I should describe the lawns, were they green, what kind of grass was it. (It’s not really about the lawns, oh nevermind.) And, the one that really stung: When I used the phrase “mediocre happiness,” it didn’t make any sense, she didn’t understand, how could happiness be mediocre?

Oh, honey.

I tried to respond at first. Then, I stopped. There’s not much to say really. And, my brain was too full and there was nothing left to be nice with. I tried, instead, to be polite, but I’m well aware my politeness comes across as cold, as I think you’re an idiot but I’m trying not to say so.

And, then, at the end, when it was all a little much, the girl turns to me and says: I thought you said you could handle it, haha.

Which I don’t know that I actually said. It’s not the word choice I would use. But, I’m sure I conveyed some similar emotion or idea, and it’s true. I can handle it. It’s fine. I’m not going to hate myself because of what you said or give up my job because you think I’m so very terrible at it. But, in that moment, it didn’t mean I didn’t want to punch her. It was one of those so perfectly awful moments that becomes etched in your brain.

Because Floyd is most probably going to die. For him, this disease is not something he can simply handle or deal with. No amount of positive thinking is going to make it go away. And, we’re going to have to decide, make a list of what is too much, when will we put him down (since with animals, as opposed to ailing humans, this is simply a given). When he loses control of his bowels? Gets paralyzed? Just wastes away?

I hold out a small hope that it is actually something else, something treatable, but the odds are it’s not. And, we will handle it, all of it, all the horrible specific awfulness of dying and the shocking pain of what I love being suddenly gone without knowing when that will be. Because it is painfully, horribly sad. But, it is also something that we will go on from. There are many terrible things in life and, for all that this is awful, this will not be the worse that ever comes. And things can either be handled or they simply can’t.

So, girl who made the ‘Whole Foods ought to be called Whole Paycheck’ joke like it was an original, yes, I can handle you. Of course, I can handle you. But not tonight, ok? Not tonight.

Floyd the Cat is Sick

This has nothing to do with sports or running or training, other than that giving Floyd his medicine is costing me a lot of time and skin.

Floyd the Cat is sick. This was him yesterday, laying all day in the sun, so I tucked his 49ers scarf around him:

Floyd did nothing but lay around and glare at me all day.
Floyd did nothing but lay around and glare at me all day.

He has some infection, which is causing his red blood cells to break down or something, giving him anemia. So, he’s anemic and his kidneys are enlarged I think and his body is trying to fight off the infection. He hasn’t been eating much for a couple weeks because of all this, so he also lost a pound. That’s a lot when you weigh 4.5 lbs.

The vet prescribed an antibiotic, which we’re hoping will kill the bacteria and that it’s not actually some other more rare and less treatable thing that is causing the infection. The vet also prescribed a steroid to help him put on weight again and eat and stuff, I think. (It gets a little murky when vets start talking.)

Hopefully, he gets better. He already felt enough better last night that he started slamming his head into the door and meowing at 5 a.m. until we let him in our bed. He usually sleeps in his bed in the bathroom, but I guess he was just all excited and awake? I don’t know, he didn’t tell me. And, then he sat on my face until 8 a.m. and poked me in the eye. “Are you awake yet? How about now? How about now? Hey, now? Hey. Hey. Hey.”

Aww, Floyd the Cat.
Aww, Floyd the Cat.

Floyd the Cat Helps!

Yesterday, after I went for an easy jog (I hate the word jog, but, in this case, it may be apt) to test out the ankle, Floyd wanted to sit on my shoulder and get all my sweat all over him. This is his favorite and only trick. For an animal that doesn’t take baths, he does spend an awful lot of time getting dirty.

Floyd the cat's favorite place to sit.
Floyd the cat’s favorite place to sit.

Then, he helped me stretch – primarily by trying to hunt my leg and sitting on top of me while I laid on the roller. He also tried to drink the water in my ice bucket this morning, but it was so cold that he ran away too fast for me to get a picture, see:

Floyd thinks ice buckets are stupid.
Floyd thinks ice buckets are stupid.

Besides sitting on your face or shoulder, Floyd also enjoys computers and long walks on the beach. OK, really, he just enjoys computers and very short walks in which he sits on your shoulder while YOU walk. His favorite places to sit include, under the computer while you’re typing:

Floyd helps me do work.
Floyd helps me with my computering.

in the laundry basket, in his chair, or in the paper recycling bag:

Floyd helps with the recycling.
Floyd helps with the recycling.

And, then he was so tired from such a hard day yesterday, that he had to nap all evening, not even getting up to ‘help’ me make dinner.

So tired!
So tired!


Sleepy Hollow-Terra Linda Open Space

I never run with my phone or a camera, because that’s just weird to me. But, last night I was doing a short easy run on the hills above my house and I always say how cool it looks, so I thought I might as well show and not tell.

Unfortunately, I didn’t get running until 5:30 p.m., so it was dusk and not good for taking pictures. Or, maybe it is good for taking pictures and I just need to learn how. I’ll put that on my list of things to do right after everything else.

The Terra Linda-Sleepy Hollow ridge view.
The Terra Linda-Sleepy Hollow ridge view.

I live in a valley at the base of a bunch of open space. If you go over one hill you’re in Lucas Valley (where George Lucas’ Skywalker Ranch is, btw). If you go over the other hill, you’re in Sleepy Hollow (where streets ARE named after the Washington Irving story, fyi).

This trail connects the main trail to the other ridge. Obviously.
This trail connects the main trail to the other ridge. Obviously.

There are no roads that go through really, though, unless you drive all the way out to the freeway, down and back in. But, you can run or walk or bike over the hills – which is sometimes faster. This is my pet peeve.

The story also goes that the street was supposed to go through and it was supposed to be an extension of Highway 580 and it was supposed to go out to subdivisions that were supposed to be erected where the Pt. Reyes dairy ranches are now. That would have been crazy and worse than having to drive an extra 15 minutes every time I want to get anywhere — though ask me how I feel if I ever have to emergency evacuate.

Because of that oddity, it also means I have short-cutted through the open space more than one evening.

One time, after Justin and Steve and I had a few too many margaritas at Marinitas on the other side of the hill, we decided that instead of getting a cab for the 15-16 minute drive or walking the seven miles the long way around, we would just walk over the hill. In the dark. It took about an hour.

Here’s a fun fact about me: I hate being in the woods in the dark and I have terrible night vision (really, I have terrible vision, period, but contacts don’t help seeing at night).

Justin said that nothing would attack us, because they’d hear us coming, so I made everyone talk and yell the entire time. That is my foolproof method whenever I end up stuck biking over the hill in the dark or miscalculate how long my run will take me in the evening — which happens an unfortunate number of times.

This is the trail Justin and Steve made me walk over at night. With scary animals lurking in the bushes.
This is the trail Justin and Steve made me walk over at night. With scary animals lurking in the bushes.

Unfortunately, I forgot to do drills when I got home and I forgot to run more. It was all a bit of a disaster. Then, I cuddled with Floyd and tried to actually make some money for the day.

And, just because this is the best picture of Floyd ever and you should admire my unfiltered skills as a photographer – even though I was actually trying to get him to take a picture nosing with me:

Floyd the Cat is the cutest cat in the whole world.
Floyd the Cat is the cutest cat in the whole world.

Help! I Feel My Motivation Leaving

With it being the most depressing day of the year this past weekend, maybe it’s no surprise my motivation hit a low — prompting a long email to Coach Mario with analogies about how my motivation was still being revived from its near death and is now a small, weak little bird that needs to be nurtured to grow strong.

Last week was busy and after the mile repeats from hell and TRX on Thursday, I had a hard weekend too. Friday was an hour run with some fartleks at 5K pace (which is like 6:00-6:07 for me – which is really goal 5K pace). I dragged my legs around the sanitary district ponds for seven miles and tried not to throw up on any birds in the wildlife sanctuary. Saturday, Floyd and I took it easy, watched TV, made cookies, and re-read Ender’s Game, because why not.

The whole point was to run marathon race pace on tired legs on Sunday. I had the tired part down, no problem. It was the other part I was worried about. So, I rode my bike around China Camp and then headed out for a run that was supposed to start easy and descend until I was running marathon pace (7:00-7:10) for the last 30 minutes.

Apparently, I haven’t run off the bike since whenever I did that sprint triathlon last summer, because with my legs feeling all jello-y I didn’t realize I was running quickly. And, since I don’t like to slow down once I’m running a certain speed for a whole host of psychological reasons, it got sort of stupid fast and then I just hung on. Suffice it to say that 6:50 is not my marathon pace.

While I was happy to (sort of) nail another workout, I could also feel myself coming unraveled around the edges, which was a little annoying, because I’ve been running fast — if fast isn’t enough to keep me heading out the door, then what is? Since I do all my workouts by myself more or less, this left a whole lot of “me time” to examine why I just wanted to lay on the couch and watch TV.

How to stay motivated?

I don’t know if other people struggle as much with motivation as I do. I certainly got the impression from the cadre of girls I knew in triathlon that they always felt awesome! and grateful! and just happy to be out here! and you have to stay positive!

Maybe they really did. Maybe by saying that they made it true. Maybe the lack of that is what separates me from being really good. I have heard over and over again that the best athletes don’t have to be pushed or motivated, you just have to hold them back. But, if, as an athlete, you know that to be true, can you simply will it into being?

I’m not unmotivated, per se. If you piss me off, I almost certainly am going to want to beat you. It’s more that I just start to drag my feet on my way out the door. And, that slowly has been getting worse and worse.

Floyd likes to head-butt.
Floyd likes to head-butt.

Almost every morning, Steve gets up before I do and lets Floyd the Cat out. And, then, whenever I’m ready to get up, I just push the bedroom door open and Floyd runs in and jumps up on the bed and wants to nose me and headbutt me and lay on my face. He pretty much won’t get up for 15-20 minutes, until eventually I’m like: ‘Floyd, we’ve got to get to work. We have a lot to do today.’

But, who wouldn’t rather stay in bed with the cat?

To stay “motivated” – if we want to call it that – training has to stay ‘fun.’ And, I am incapable of lying to myself, so don’t try. For me fun is:

– long runs on trails
– long rides out to Stinson or West Marin
– with friends – though I suppose I need to get friends first
– strength classes, because they’re always entertaining and there’s other people
– hard workouts with people

The common theme here is: I need to get some people to train with. So, the invitation is now open. Who lives near here, is about the same speed, wants to do whatever is on my training plan for the day, fit around my schedule?

Yesterday, I went on a ride with Ilyce and we stopped to eat lunch at Good Earth. (Apparently, saying you ‘used the Good Earth hot food bar’ is not the right expression, by the way.) And, then I went to Nate’s strength training class with the high school mountain bike team. I totally owned those high school boys too. That was fun.