Monday, November 23, 2009

Hurt again and time off.

I cut short my run on Saturday because my right knee pain returned but I still got a little over 5 miles in. My knee was feeling better so I went for a short run on Sunday morning. I left the house and within a few minutes my left (formerly known as good) calf seemed to lock up and wouldn't unlock. I could barely put weight on it. It was a sad mental conversation to figure out if I should call to be picked up and rescued since I was only a few hundred yards from my house. I chose to try to wobble home. Ironically I view this as my biggest athletic weekend success.

When I got home I iced my left leg and it didn't help much. I put a compression sleeve on it. I iced my other knee. I thought about icing my ribs too but decided to continue to tough that out.

I can still only wobble on Monday morning. I thought about making a appointment to see a doctor. The question was what would be my primary complaint? I have so much of me in various states of broken that I'm unsure. Nothing more can be done for my ribs except to wait for them to heal. I believe that most doctors, as a first take, would prescribe rest and recovery then see if my other complaints gets better or not.

I've decided I need to take some time and heal both physically and mentally. How long? I don't know. On the mental side I need to figure out if my goals are real and attainable or plain fantasy. There may be a reason why someone my size keeps getting hurt. Maybe I'm doing too much too fast. Most importantly I need to get excited about workouts again rather than wondering if I'll finish a short workout with or without a new injury.

While I'm figuring this out, I've decided to take a sabbatical from the blogosphere too. I wish I could say stay tuned but I don't know when I'll be back. Hopefully sooner rather than later.


Friday, November 20, 2009

Five for Friday

1) The big news this week is that I've come to a settlement with the insurance company on my bike. In their infinite wisdom they declared my bike a total loss - I think the shattered carbon frame was a hint. I also had to include the clothes that they cut off me in the ER and a new helmet. After a few weeks of back and forth, we agreed on a number that will let me get a really nice bike. Of course, my old bike was a really nice bike too and it was "interesting" have the conversation with my wife on how much I actually paid for it.

I made an appointment for a preliminary fitting and in the meanwhile the bike shop reassembled the pieces of my bike to get the old measurements. I saw the bike and said that it looked almost ridable. Then they pointed out that it was held together with clear packing tape.

Now I have some decisions to make and my head is spinning.
  • Dura Ace vs. SRAM Red or do I jump on the wireless Di2? I'm leaning Red.
  • In the power meter world: SRM vs. Quarq vs. Powertap. I'm leaning Quarq since it will give me flexibility on.....
  • Race wheels. Zipp, Reynolds, or Hed. Since, as a fat guy, I'm gravitationally challenged and most of my upcoming races are flat (StA, Eagleman), I'm thinking deeper dish wheels but not a disc. I'll be taking these off Santa's Christmas list and getting them now.
  • Most of all, which bike? That will wait for the fitting but I'm leaning towards Specialized Transition S-Works. If that doesn't work, probably Guru.
  • Then, what color?

2) We are just starting the pain and suffering negotiations. This one will be interesting.

3) The almost equally big news is that I successfully ran on Wednesday night. It was a slow 5 miles but my knee wasn't any worse for the wear. This was a good sign meaning that I didn't have to shut it down for recovery and jeopardize yet another race and race fee. Another run this weekend will let me see if I am back on track.

4) Went to the Garden last night instead of training to watch the Coaches vs. Cancer NCAA basketball doubleheader. This was my first college hoops game in person but my girls were really gung ho. Syracuse vs. Cal and then UNC vs. Ohio State. How I'm raising girls that are die hard Carolina basketball fans is a mystery to me. Also, why would (sane) people go to this game wearing Duke? I guess sane is relative. Any insight John?

It was a fun night but we got home way past our bedtimes.

5) Good luck KathyK and all others out in the desert looking to own IMAZ this weekend and EagleChick Christine running in Philly!

Monday, November 16, 2009

My running was going well and then.....

Let me backtrack a little. I've been running more than I ever have in, let me see, forever as part of building up the miles to do well in the Disney marathon in January. For example, last week I did 5 miles on Tuesday, another 5 on Thursday, and had 11 on the plate for Sunday. On Saturday, my daughter invited some friends for a "running play date" and I went along a chaperon. I figured since I was waiting for them I might as well run a little myself so I added 3 miles as an easy bonus run on the Bethpage Trail. I was happy that I was getting faster - the easy run was a little faster than 11:00/mile (my hopeful marathon pace) and was, ta-da, easy.

Since my accident all of my running has been on the track or on a trail. I can't remember the last time I actually ran on a road (probably early September) so I figured Sunday's run was as good a time as any to start. I'm trying to get the accident behind me (of course, pulling yet another piece of windshield out of my arm Saturday was a fresh reminder). The weather was crap, so I used one of my many old pairs of sneakers to not ruin the new ones. The route wound up hillier than I recalled but just near the end of my run, I got some pain on the outside of my right knee. This pain is not uncommon but normally is no big deal and goes away quickly. (I wonder what it would feel like to be pain free - it has been a while). I finished up my run and when walking into my house, I turned up lame. I limped a bit and it didn't get better all day long. So much for going away quickly.

Yes, I did a bunch of stuff wrong. A lot of miles. Old sneakers. Running on the road in one big jump rather than easing into it. Running back to back days. Which syndrome did I get? ITB syndrome? Stupid-itis syndrome? Another one?

Iced it a bit, ate ibuprofen. It still hurt (a little less) on Monday but I wasn't limping anymore. My orthotics were cracked so I made an appointment with the podiatrist to see if they were salvageable - maybe that was the cause. On Tuesday, I'm still improving but not all the way back.

Good news is that it has taken focus away from my ribs. A little more rest to get better (I hope). Next test is Wednesday night. On the track. With the new sneakers. For a short(er) run.

Stay tuned.

I've already won! 13.1 Marathon - New York City

At the New York City Marathon Expo, I filled out a few raffle entries. I really concentrated on the prizes or products that I had actual interest in. A new race, the 13.1 Marathon - New York City, was a race that I was considering so I filled out the information ticket.

This inaugural race is scheduled for April 3, 2010. This date works perfectly in my training plan since it would be long enough after the Disney Marathon for recovery and early enough to get in two halfs (the other being the Long Island Half Marathon in early May) as part of my 2010 Eagleman 70.3 (mid June) training. There are other races around that time but I would have to balance the kids soccer schedule, life (yes there are life things beyond soccer), and training.

I used to be able to say that I never won anything but I broke that streak since I was contacted by the race directors and they said I won a free entry into any of their 13.1 races. I reached out to them to claim my entry into the NY version and they are hooking me up.

I still can't believe I actually won something. Now, if they happen to have a fat, old, age group that has just me in it I might be able to stand on the podium and grab some hardware but since that ain't happening, a free entry will do just fine.

A good race will be even better. A PR? Now, you are getting greedy..... but then again, why not?

Friday, November 13, 2009

How to tell when someone is dieting.

  • They are never without a water bottle to sip on.

  • They pee 17 times a day.

  • They can smell chocolate from 200 yards away.

  • Their farts smell like lettuce or their farts smell like fish. But then again, what's the difference?

  • They notice body composition changes in everyone else.

  • They weigh themselves in tenths of a pound.

  • It takes them 20 minutes to figure out what to order at a restaurant and 4 minutes to actually order it. Then they send it back at least once.

  • They are cranky. All. The. Time.

  • They wonder how skinny people can eat so much and not be fat.

  • They wonder how they eat so little and are not skinny.

  • When they eat something not "healthy", they first look left and then right to see if anyone is watching.

  • If someone is watching they will reflexively say, "this is only two points." Even if it is a Snickers bar. And even if they aren't on Weight Watchers. Then they will finish the rest of it in one bite. Even if it is king size.

  • The guy at the salad store recognizes them and asks if they are having "the usual."

  • Their family knows which Weight Watcher's desserts taste good and which don't.

  • They chew each pretzel (in a 100 calorie pack of course) no less than 9 times.
  • They wonder if any of the magic weight loss remedies actually work.

  • They realize the magic doesn't work. It comes back to diet and exercise. Duh.

  • They can't watch the food channel without salivating even if it is a food they normally don't like.

  • They have mood swings on weigh-in day.

Today's weigh-in had me at losing 0.4 pounds. My mood is, you guessed it, grumpy/cranky.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

How many pairs of sneakers do you own?

I ordered some new kicks last week. Specifically I ordered a pair of New Balance 1225s and a pair of Asics Kayano 16s (so new of a flavor that the Asics website is still featuring the old one). I bought these because my old sneakers were getting old and I'm putting a lot of miles in while I train for my January marathon.

Rockstart Research has found the rule of thumb on changing kicks are about 300 miles or so and since I'm on the big side, my sneakers break down sooner. I figured with the 8 weeks to go before my race, I'll probably put in an additional 250-300 miles. That means my existing sneakers would be toast before the marathon so I got some new ones now that I can break in and use prior to race day. I thought this a great plan.

The first pair are in. My family used this opportunity to ask me how many sneakers did I have and how many did I think I needed. They seemed to thing I might have been channeling Imelda Marcos in my so-called sneaker collection. I didn't think so.

First, the "optimal" state:

  • Two pairs of running sneakers to alternate during training runs (this would be the role of the two new ones).
  • One pair of running sneakers to use on the dreadmill (this one has the Garmin foot pod attached). This is normally one of the previous actual training sneakers.
  • Two pairs of day to day, non running, just walking around sneakers (even though I wear shoes to work).
So this totals up to 5 pairs. I didn't think this excessive.

Then I went into my closet and found I had 7 8 pairs of sneakers (not counting the new ones that are still in the box). The three pairs of cycling shoes (Road, Tri, and Mountain/spin) don't count. The sandals for the gym and fins for swimming don't count either. Yes, they do know my name at the running store and greet me like Norm from Cheers when I walk in. No, they haven't admitted to memorizing my size (maybe they are being nice).

I didn't think this was too bad but maybe I did have a little Imelda in me. I thought I was fairly normal compared to most real triathletes and runners. So, how many pairs of kicks do you lace up on the foofsies and how many are hiding in your closet?

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Back in the swim of things.

I decided on my way home from work yesterday that rather than watch the TTT masters swim workout (I would be there since Courtney, daughter#2, swims with the junior team)I would try a swim to test out the ribs again. The problem was that the last time I tested them out I thought I was OK until about 30 minutes after the swim and then agony set in. And it lasted for days.

The pool was set up for 50m lanes. I figured 4x50 with fins would do the trick and that I would avoid the pull buoy from the beginning so I don't need to wean myself off it later.

I did OK taking a long time between 50s. I found it funny how the habit of looking at the pace clock at the end of every interval is ingrained into my swimming technique. I woke this morning and I was still OK. Pain no better, no worse.

Success! I'll try again on Wednesday.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Running or Racing?

On Halloween, my 13 year old daughter's XC season ended. It was a successful season for her and you can best figure that out since she has been talking about continuing running. Her team doesn't practice anymore and there were some local events (road and XC) I thought she was considering. I came home from work one night a few days ago and this conversation was held around the kitchen table:

Rockstar: Are you looking to race this weekend? There is a 4k XC race on Saturday.

Daughter#1: I don't think so. Why?

Rockstar: Because if you race that race it will make me adjust my plans. I hope to do a half marathon on Saturday.

Mrs.Rockstar: You're running a half marathon? I didn't know that. Where?

Daughter#1: You're racing this weekend?

Rockstar: I just expect to run up and down the Bethpage trail until I get 13.1 miles done. If you are racing I'll go in the afternoon after your sister's soccer game. If not, I'll go in the morning.

Daughter#1 (rolling her eyes): Dad, there is a big difference between running and racing.

This morning, I ran 13.1 miles. Even though it wasn't a race, this was the second fastest that I've ever run this distance (yes, I know I'm slow and I only have finished a handful of half marathons but second fastest is still second fastest).

Maybe there isn't that much of a difference between running and racing? In that case, I won!

Where's the trophy? No trophy? Then again, maybe there is a difference.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

A medical opinion

In the ambulance on the way to the hospital after my bike accident, the volunteer EMTs were having a challenge getting a proper ECG on me. They kept saying it was "backwards." When I got to the hospital, the hospital staff re-did it and said it was OK.

I was a bit surprised when I got a copy of the ER report that I needed to begin to haggle with the insurance folks that there were all sorts of non flattering comments regarding my ECG but the most troublesome was the summary of "ABNORMAL ECG." No mention of this was made while I was at the hospital so I bounced the report off my regular doc. He said that these tests are often aggressively interpreted by a computer and that it couldn't have been that bad since they let me leave the hospital. He looked at the detail and said that it was the same as it always was (normally abnormal I guess) but it wouldn't hurt to go to back to a cardiologist for a follow up since I hadn't had gone in a few years. So I did.

The cardiologist felt that he should be aggressive in testing since there was some family history of heart issues, I'm fat, I'm getting old and it wouldn't be good for me to stop getting older by dropping dead while training. After what seemed about a gazillion tests (echo cardiogram, stress test, cardiac calcium CT, carotid artery ultrasound) with most indicating no issues (he was concerned with one part of the stress test but said the CT gave him the all clear), the net was to continue to exercise, lose more weight, and come back in a year. In his opinion the best weight for me to be in a year would be no more than 230 lbs (BMI <30).

A perfect ending to this story would be that everything was OK and that I wouldn't have to go back for a much longer time. Looking back at this, I guess I should be happy even though the stress test wasn't completely clean. I'm sure another full suite of testing will be done next year so I've got that to look forward to.

So on to weight loss after all it is body composition Thursday. The number this week was -2.3 lbs (Total = -75.8, WW3 = -5.6 ). In spite of noshing on a few of the trick or treat candies (OK, I admit it - I ate more than I handed out) and big party at an great restaurant Sunday, I was able to rally to get where I was. How? I really don't know, but I not complaining.

This means next week will be tough and will require more focus. I want to keep the weekly weight loss as going down between 1.0 and 2.0 pounds. That should be sustainable and get me where I need to be at for the doctor in a reasonable time. It also will help me with my athletic misadventures too.

Imagine how different the test results and his opinion would have been if I hadn't lost the weight I've lost already and hadn't increased my fitness. I think I'll be thinking of this on my long run this weekend.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

When is a long run long?

When I started running, I considered a run as long if it was any more than one lap around a standard track. Note that I failed at my first few attempts at running that distance without needing a walk break.

Running a whole 5K became an accomplishment. Then running a whole 10K and then a half marathon (except for walking through the water stops). These were races and probably should be consider long "races" not long "runs."

It got me thinking what is a "long run?" There is some mystique and aura (no, not superheroes or dancers of some sort) around the long run as part of marathon training or long distance triathlon training. Is it physical training or is it, perhaps, more mental? More importantly, when does it qualify as an official long run?

I've heard that some people define it as longer than 10 miles. Some define it as longer than 90 minutes (of course there are probably the same folks who run 10 miles in much less than 90 minutes and that ain't me). Some define it as longer than 2 hours. Perhaps longer than a half mary qualifies.

Last weekend I ran 12 miles of run 10 minutes/walk 1. About 8.5 miles in my run (when I was reloading the water bottle), my friend Kathy was starting her run on the same trail. This was her last big run before IMAZ and she had 18 miles on her plan (this of course was after her 100 on the bike the day before). We ran and talked a while together before I had to turn around and head back to rejoin the real world. I thought my run would qualify as long in my mind.

It got me thinking. Should ipods be worn on the long run if the race doesn't allow them? (I'm leaning no but I seem to use my ipod on almost every run). Should you be talking on the run? (I'm leaning yes especially if you will be racing with friends). Would these disqualify the run as long? I settled on no - as long as the miles get done, the miles get done. It can be (and was) slow but the benefits will be realized in January.

Fortunately I'll have more time to think of this as my training runs for the Disney Marathon are getting long by anyone's definition. I hope there will be some time soon when I will look back at this "dirty dozen" that I ran on Sunday and consider it short.

Doubt I would ever consider them easy though.