Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Hot Yoga - an update

"Don't call me Yogi"

When I signed up to try yoga to help with my recovery I had no idea what I was in for. Most of the athletes that I train with who do yoga go to a studio about 2o minutes away from me but there is another studio much closer. Both studios offer a one week newbie rate of about $25 for unlimited classes. I signed up for the one week special at the studio closer to my house.

I wanted to try a variety of classes so I went Thursday morning, Saturday morning, Monday night and Wednesday morning. I had four different instructors and found each brought something a little different to the class. The magic word I found from the instructors was "modification." With modifications, instructors offer variations on a pose. Some instructors seem to bias the variations if the pose is too hard while others seem to focus on variations if the pose is too easy (I don't have that problem). This is really instructor dependent.

But I wanted to be sure that I was giving it a complete chance so I signed up for a week at the second yogatarium. This place offers more classes at more different times. They have classes at that I could potentially go to before work and late night classes too. While both of the places have the temperature in the room above 100 degrees, the second one seem to have a much higher humidity so the volume of sweat was much higher. The second place also did not believe in blocks or straps to help the people who can't do much yoga well (like yours truly).

So far I've done classes with 6 different instructors. I've had 4 female and 2 male instructors and found that the instructors gender really doesn't matter. I don't mind the temperature but it takes some getting used to when the sweat drops off you like the beats of a metronome. Yoga doesn't seem to hurt me (except for my pride when I feel like a spaz) and it may even help me a little as I do feel looser afterwards.

I've decided to take the plunge and signed up for a one month unlimited plan at the first place (closer but with fewer classes). My goal is to try to go at least twice a week - one night after work and one early class on either Saturday or Sunday (based on the weekend cycling schedule). Once I get the gym setup at work I may decide to try their yoga class instead (not Bikram hot yoga but they have classes of some other flavor). Fortunately (or unfortunately based on how you look at it) the time that I used to spend running is now filled with yoga.
Still hoping for a miracle cure but reality is starting to set in.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Odyssey of the Mind.

Earlier this year my daughter Amanda joined a school club for Odyssey of the Mind. Odyssey, besides being a Japanese Minivan and a book that nobody chooses to read twice, is an international academic contest that they call "sports of the mind". The details about OotM can be read here http://www.odysseyofthemind.com/

I believe that the original goal of Amanda's team was to simply do well enough in the regional contest to qualify for the state contest. Most of the time only the top regional team qualifies for "states" but this year two teams would qualify since there were so many teams in their division. A few weeks ago the regional contest was held and Amanda's team came in second for the Long Island region. The other middle school in our school district, though, was the one which came in first. Both teams qualified for states.

Last weekend was the state competition in Binghamton, NY. Now, Binghamton is not close to Casa Rockstar but we wanted to go to support her the best we could. MrsRockstar rode the one bus for both schools up with the kids and several of the other parents. I drove up solo directly after work Friday. Five hours later I was at the hotel.

Saturday was the competition and it took most of the day. There were 19 teams in Amanda's division, all having advanced from their regional contests. I rationalized with her that a top half finish would be good and top five would be great. The rules were if a team came in 4th or 5th, they would be asked to stand up for recognition at the awards ceremony. Third would be called up to the podium for medals. Second and first would get a trophy for the school, individual medals and qualify for the World Championship at Michigan State University in late May.

The other district school in another division came in fourth. This was the highest that any team from our school district ever achieved in this competition. Then it was show time for Amanda's division. In fifth place......our other district school which beat them last time. In fourth, some other team. In third, yet another elsewhereville team. I could see the excitement leaving the girls faces as the only other teams they would name would qualify for "worlds" and they couldn't imagine that they could win that.

But. They. Did.

Second place in all New York State. Qualified for the worlds! Hokey smokes.

The girls were bouncing up and down. The went down in front of a few thousand people to get their hardware. They were so happy they could barely walk. It seemed to me as more of a bounce.

During the 4 hour ride home reality started to set in. Will the school district coin up and help out with this team going to Michigan? It isn't going to be cheap. Michigan State is 800 miles away so how to get there with all the scenery/props for the play that they perform? Bus? Plane? Car? The girls would have to miss school for this too since it is a Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday deal. Most importantly, is every one this team on board with competing or do they consider that they already won by qualifying and don't need to deal with the inconveniences.

My wife and I believe that this is a once in a lifetime experience and we should do whatever we can to make this happen. This is a team competition and there are seven girls on the team. School is closed next week but decisions need to be made. I think they would all remember this forever.

PS: Since I was in Binghamton tied up in the competition and driving hundreds of miles I didn't get to do much training this weekend. I was going to race earlier today but figured that doing a run with only a few hours of sleep wasn't the best for me (especially since I can't run). This competition was a classic life getting in the way moment but I wouldn't trade it for anything.

Go Mattlin Middle School!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The "J" word.

"You don't know what it's like out there! I've *worked* in the private sector. They expect *results*. " - Dr. Ray Stantz

The quote from Dr. Stantz, as played by Dan Akroyd in "Ghost Busters", is one of my favorite quotes. It is relevant to me this week since Monday I started a new job. I'm going to have to prove myself and most likely put in long hours while I fight myself for some sort of work/life balance. Finding and maintaining this balance has historically been one of my most glaring weaknesses.

My new office has a gym on site that I need to checkout. It is a high end gym where they provide you with almost everything (except sneakers) for workouts including shorts, shirts, socks, towels, etc. It is expensive but I think it will be worth it.

Until I get some sort of rhythm going on my day to day, my blogging, commenting, sleeping and workout scheduling will be challenging. Let me apologize now in advance but I'll be focusing on producing some "results!"

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Research and experiments.

Yesterday might have been the best weather day so far in 2010. A perfect day for a run. Except I can't run.

The downside with spring being sprung was that I was up all night on Friday night probably with seasonal allergies kicking in. My sinuses were dripping and my head was aching. I was up and had a lot of time to kill since I really didn't want to watch infomercials. So I researched my injury more.

The internet is full of horror stories about my injury. Running is done, biking is a pain factory at best, even long recoveries won't let you do anything athletic afterwards, etc. The best point, though, was someone wrote that the people who bitch about things going wrong with this injury are not the people who have the success stories. There is a yahoo group (that I signed up for) that is the misery loves company venue but I did find the name of two doctors that kept coming up again and again as the experts for this injury. One lives in NYC. I'm going to try make an appointment with him to see if this bad prognosis is the best I can hope for.

So I tried hot yoga again on Saturday instead of a run. I sucked at that too. There will be a hot yoga update later this week so stay tuned.

Sunday I planned on going for a long-ish, slow, easy bike ride to see if there was any pain from just being in the saddle. The local TNT chapter said they had 35-40 miles on the agenda. It was very slow and I had to get home to go to a church function for my daughter so I broke out a mini-group to push the pace a bit. It was too fast for some so we had to keep pulling back. Then someone flatted. Then we got lost. Then we caught the group that we broke away from. Arghhhh.

But then I had to push it if I didn't want to get in trouble for missing church. Once guy wanted to stay up with me and I said he was more than welcome to ride but I couldn't wait for him. He would have the rest of the group behind if he ran into trouble so he said, deal, and we were off.

Now is when it got fun and I almost forgot I was hurt. There were a lot of traffic lights yet we were hammering it. I dropped him quickly and saw a local bike club group ahead so reeled them in too. I was pushing the power at what used to be close to threshold (for me) with a few times peaking up a little above even. It has been a while since I rode fast. The ride finished up at about 48 miles.

I got to my car, loaded up the bike, was leaving, he pulled in and said he want to ride with me again, said sure, and made it home, showered, dressed and was early for church.

No pain beyond the normal today. I feel like I may be able to resume bike training but let's see how dinged I am tomorrow.

Thursday, March 18, 2010


Some people believe that dieting is rather simple once you strip down all the hype. At some point it can be viewed as a simple equation of energy in (food and drink) - amount of fuel used - waste = net change of weight. A lot of research has gone into how to how to figure out how to measure energy in (points, calories, etc) and there are professions many have dedicated themselves to in this "in" field. Some are even "registered" or "licensed."

There are also a myriad of ways to gage and increase fuel consumption. I believe that everyone is different in this area so it is difficult to measure or quantify. You get some just by living. You can get some by blending the foods the right way. You have the opportunity to get some with exercise and physical training. Unfortunately a byproduct of training is that you get more efficient (burning less fuel with the same amount of effort) so this needs to be constantly changing.

That's leaves the analysis of waste to those who want (or need) to know it all, the science of poopology. I'm not an expert nor professional in this field (purely amateur) but I'm sure there are poopologists somewhere that have studied both the scientific and philosophical poopological questions related to weight loss. Perhaps some have even attained advanced degrees by advancing the state of the "art" but I don't know the state of the art let alone the advances of same. Could some institute of higher learning offer a Doctor of Poopology? Imagine being a true poop genius and able to answer, in the context of weight, which weighs more or has more of an impact on body composition in the following list :

  • Lighter poop or darker poop?

  • Pungent vs. perhaps sweet smelling (yes, it exists!)?

  • Floaters or sinkers?

  • Rabbit pellets or Lincoln logs?

  • Visible undigested stuff (the common corn kernel, some variations of onions or legumes, string, coins, etc) or the surrounding poop?

But there is also a mental or philosophical bent to the science.

  • What does it say when you can see when poop is shaped like something sort of like clouds? Note I'm sure this was genesis of the Rorschach test (no, that isn't Arnold Rorschach for you casual "Welcome Back, Kotter" fans - that was Arnold Horshack)

  • Does less volume mean more consumption?

  • Chemistry (or was it physics?) taught us that gas also has weight.

  • The "D-word" dilemma.

Unfortunately, the nadir of most person's poopologic expertise is when they were a 2 year old screaming at the top of their lungs,"POOPIES," proud of themselves and willing to stare at the bowl forever. I'm not saying that poopology should get more press, government funding and focus than some of the other ills of society (insert your favorite here) but since it is a large part of everyone's life.......

Think about it some time. You know you will. And I can guess where.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Bosu Ball

My wife bought me a bosu ball (picture left) for my birthday. I always thought they were cool and often saw people getting beat by them at physical therapy. The goal of this "fitness toy" is to improve core strength and it can be used while doing many different kinds of exercises. It came with a DVD that contained a bunch of workouts and many pages of instructions. It is a perfect present since it is something that I wanted for a long time but probably would never buy for myself. It isn't cheap.

I got it yesterday. I initially plan on using it, along with the physical therapy stretches for my legs, hips, and back during days that I don't do yoga. I'll also mix in some strength exercises (back to the 100 push up challenge) so I can hopefully get my hip in a good enough condition to try some intensity on the bike.

I'm probably going to have to do some stretching/strength and/or training in the morning (I am a late night exerciser mostly) since this "stuff" is taking up a lot of time. Training in the morning won't be pretty but I think that it is on the path to recovery. I'll keep you posted on how this new toy works out for me.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Hot Yoga vs. Me

I've gotten a lot of advice and recommendations that I should try Bikram yoga to help with my hip. I've never done yoga before, let alone hot yoga, but I wanted to give it a try. I was a little nervous since this would be a new experience for me and it was waaaaaaay outside of my comfort zone. Beforehand I had a few thoughts swirling around my head including:

1) Who goes to yoga classes? Will the class be filled with Barbie looking Gumbys? Would I be the only guy?
2) Would I survive the 90 minute class? Why don't they have mini yoga available?
3) How lame would I be? I looked online and they said the class (Bikram Yoga) included 26 "poses." I figured I could maybe do one (the corpse pose).
4) Most importantly, would it help or would it hurt?

I took the plunge and attended my first class yesterday. After I paid for a one week unlimited newbie rate (about the same as the walk in, one class rate), I went into the hot room. I knew I was in trouble right away when there was one girl walking around the room. On. Her. Hands. I looked around and realized I couldn't escape. The instructor probably saw the fear in my eyes as they darted from side to side scanning the exits and said that I should consider the class a success if I was able to just stay in the room for the whole time without bailing. Poses were optional. I think that's setting the bar about as low as it can go but still seemed huge to me. Did I say the room was 105 degrees? I set up my stuff in the back corner of the room trying to melt into the scenery on the wall.

Some other GumbyBarbies showed up but some "normal" looking people showed up and 5 guys too (no, not the burger and fries Five Guys - I couldn't be that lucky). These guys wound up being more frightening than the GumbyBarbies as they spent a lot of the time in the class grunting and making other strange noises (can you say flatulence?). One guy even was wearing booty shorts with his butt cheeks hanging out and no shirt (showing his flab's dunlaps to all). That unfortunate image seems to be somewhat burned into my retinas and I shiver every time I recall it.

But back to the class. One of the best things I did was leave my watch home. I figured if I felt that I was in the room forever and found it was only a few minutes, I would be mentally defeated. I wore running shorts, a tri club technical tee shirt, and brought two towels to wipe off the sweat. Two water bottles and I was as ready as i could be.

The net result is that I did what I could. I was able to actually do some of the poses but the instructor had to take pity on me for some others. They let me use the yoga toys (blocks, straps, etc) but that might have been to keep my mind from realizing what was going on. The class seemed longer than I expected (perhaps time slowed) but I survived.

I don't know if this yoga helped me but it didn't seem to hurt. I call this battle a tie but since I bought a week's worth of classes there will be a rematch. With a different instructor.

But I won't be wearing booty shorts.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

The reality of my 2010 St. Anthony's Olympic Triathlon

I hate writing blog entries like this but I realized that even if I was able to compete in St. Anthony's Olympic Triathlon at the end of April, I wouldn't compete well. I can't imagine racing up to my expectations so I requested a deferral. Below is an email that I got from the RD for StA in response to that request. Note I think it is great that they offer this option (given enough notice) as so many other races do not and just pocket your money. I think this fair. Well done, team StA.

There is a local 100k ride (not race), the Nassau to Suffolk Challenge that same day that I might consider if I am riding without issue by then. I've done this ride three times before and it is very well run. One of the best things about this event is that it will not sell out and another is that there are 25m and 50m options. It could turn into a show and go for me. It is hilly with a lot of rollers but that's why they call it a "challenge."


Hi RockStarTri,

I'm sorry to hear you will not be joining us in 2010! As you requested, your name will be removed from the 2010 start list and your registration deferred to our 2011 event (May 1, 2011). To be guaranteed a spot for the 2011, it is your responsibility to complete the registration process before the announced deadline. You will be emailed a code around November 1st that will be valid until November 18th, 2010 and pay the $75 deferral fee. Please note this deferral is good for one year only.

As stated previously, we will email your code around November 1st, 2010, it is YOUR RESPONSIBILITY to keep us informed of any email changes. Please feel free to contact me with any other questions.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Two outside rides in one day.

The weather gods were smiling today so I decided to go for a bike ride OUTSIDE to celebrate. I had a short 60 minute or so ride on the calendar that was really just to assess my leg and hip function (or lack there of). I figured I could go to SUNY Old Westbury and do a few loops. SUNY Old Westbury is a 4 mile hilly loop that is perfect for riding.

I broke out the new bike and decided to try it out on pavement rather than a hamster wheel. I pushed it a bit much but overall it was a good ride. I cut it short to not tempt fate and headed home. On the way I took the picture on the right. There is no photoshop involved here so that temperature of 59 is accurate.

When I got home my 12 year old daughter Courtney was riding her bike around the neighborhood. When she saw me pull up in she said "Dad, have you done your cool down yet? Want to do it with me?"

How could I resist?

A settlement

Six months ago yesterday I was hit by a car while riding my bike. I've been haggling with the driver's insurance company ever since and we finally came to a settlement. Even though the settlement includes the medical bills, the property damage loss (aka my bike) and some compensation for pain and suffering around my broken ribs, it wasn't worth it.

Time to close this chapter. Time to move on.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

NYRR Coogan's Salsa, Blues, and Shamrocks 5K

Imagine a conversation something like this:

Me: "I have another one of those NYRR races this weekend. It will be the 3rd of the 9."
Mrs: "Really."
Me: "This one is a 5k. It is shorter than most of them."
Mrs:"Are you walking this one or running it?"
Me:"Don't know yet. We'll see how my hip feels."
Me: "I think I figured it out that I can qualify for the 2011 NYC Marathon by doing no race longer than 4 miles."

Mrs: "That's 2011, right."
Me: "Yes, 2011. I'm already in for 2010."
Mrs: "You're still expecting to run the marathon in 2010?"
Me:"If everything works out right."
Mrs:"And to do the marathon you'll probably have to train?"
Mrs:"And marathon training normally includes running?"
Me(after a slight pause):"Yes"
Mrs:"And you haven't gotten anything new from the doctor since a only few days ago where he said running is the worst thing for you at this time."
Me(after a longer pause):"No, nothing new."
Mrs:"And you really can't run well now?"
Me:"No, not up to my typical standards. And those standards are low to begin with! Ha!"
Mrs: "And you have times where you can't even walk right without pain."
Me:"Well, yea."
Mrs:"You are thinking about surgery because of the pain? "
Me(back to inserting pauses):"Thinking about it."
Mrs."So, why are you doing this race?"
Me: Silence, looking down at my size 14s.
Mrs:"You know I don't want to be viewed as non supportive but I think that soon you might realize that something is a little off with your logic about doing these races with your injury."
Me:"What do you mean? It's only a 5k!"
Mrs:"I'm sure you'll figure it out."

I did the Coogan's NYRR 5K this morning. Ran more than I expected but forced myself to walk a lot. Race course was crowded with about 7500 racers. Hillier than I expected. Finished in 37:43 for a 12:10/mile pace overall since I really didn't want to push the pace. I handed out tee shirts at the NYRR office on Friday afternoon for this race so I met my volunteer requirement too.

PS: One of the things I left out on the random facts about me is that one of my strengths is my ability to focus on a problem. Unfortunately, it is one of my weakness too.

PPS: "Facts are stubborn things" - Ronald Reagan.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Random things about me.

Julie from Julie's Running blog tagged me to share some random facts about myself. There were originally supposed to be 10 facts but another one might be that I don't follow directions all that well. Have fun with these:
  1. I don't drink coffee. Never aquired the taste for it. I don't even like the smell of it.

  2. I played piano professionally for years starting before I could drive. I did shows, a little recording, a lot of club dates, piano bar and all sorts of things like that. I was good by not great. It became work for me and I rarely play anymore.

  3. The tri and running buddy who gave me the nickname Rock Star doesn't know I actually performed music professionally. Even so, he is a SUPERSTAR!

  4. Both of my children are better musicians already than I ever was.

  5. My father is the best musician I ever played with even though we rarely played together since we both play piano.

  6. I was a rocket scientist at one point in my life.

  7. I ran sprints on the track teams in high school winning 4 varsity letters. I wasn't very fast.

  8. A few years ago I was awarded a patent for some obscure computer technology process I developed with some of the smart people who worked for me at the time. We made $0.00 from it.

  9. On 9/11/2001, I had a meeting scheduled at the World Trade Center for 10AM to review the offices they were building for me and my team on the 34th floor of 1 WTC. At the last minute, a 9am emergency meeting (that I had to go to) was scheduled in my Jersey City office. I went to New Jersey early and planned on taking the ferry over in time to go to the meeting. Instead I watched the events of that day unfold from my NJ office window (which faced the trade center from right across the Hudson). I got home from work that day about two weeks later. Emergencies are relative.

  10. My wife is the best person I'll ever know.

  11. My children (string players) recently told me that my birthday is the same day as Antonio Vivaldi. He would be 332 years old. I'm younger (just by a little).
Feel free to hop on this bandwagon and use this topic as inspiration for your own blog! The last tagging led to some good writing by the folks who picked up the gauntlet. Have fun with it!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

If a picture says 1000 words....

Then how come none of the words that came with my MRI results say anything good?

The results are in. The steroid shot gave me some relief but the MRI shows that my hip is a mess (torn labrum, cartilage damage and arthritis galore). None of this happened due to an "event" but it was years of gradual deterioration until it crossed a threshold. There is most likely a hip replacement down the road in my future to deal with the arthritis. I don't need that now so I want to delay that as long as possible.

More pressing is the impingement issue. Choice "A" is to could get arthroscopic surgery for that but it would mean 6 weeks on crutches, a recovery of 3 to 6 months and no guarantee of a long term fix. This surgery wouldn't eliminate the need for a hip replacement later either.

Choice "B" (which I'm choosing) is to see how long the shot gives relief. It could be a day, a week, a few months or even longer. Again, no guarantees and everyone is different. I can get another shot in a four months if I need it but after that if I need another I'll have to make a more difficult choice.

Don't worry, the news gets better. I asked the silly question of could make it worse by training. The answer was, "of course."


So what does this mean?

  • First and foremost I'm hoping the relief from this shot lasts a long, long time.

  • It all comes down to how much pain I can tolerate.

  • If the pain returns I need to get a second opinion. No, not a Rodney Dangerfield second opinion of "You're Ugly too" but a real one. I don't expect a different result but you never know.

  • Running is the worst thing for me to do so I'm going to avoid that for a while. I'm viewing it as my hip has a set number of miles in it and I don't want to burn those miles unnecessarily. I will "consume" them when I have to but I don't know how many are available.

  • Swimming is the best thing for me to do. I'm going to up the frequency there.

  • Biking should be OK but I need to see what I can do pain free. I'm sure I can ride long and slow but need to experiment with how hard I can ride. The advice from the doctor is that if something hurts, stop doing that. Ya think?

  • I'm going to try other things that may help. Yoga will be first. Maybe Pilate's. Voodoo might join in the mix. We'll see how the yoga goes first.

I sort of expected this news but it is painful to actually hear it and see it in black and white. I had to do some soul searching to help understand why I do what I do. Am I going to win races? No. My main motivation is to improve my health and overall I am healthier. Do I need to do the events that I do to meet that goal or are there others? Fortunately, there are many choices and options.

My whole calendar is up for review. The NYC13.1 scheduled for early April ain't happening for me. StA probably isn't happening either. Eagleman70.3 might turn into an AquaVelo (I have until mid May to make that choice). I'll see how the cycling goes and might mix in some cycling events. I might still try the NYC tri in July but I may have to walk to finish it.

So the picture isn't pretty but as hard as it may be to believe, the words could have been worse.