Friday, December 31, 2010

End-Of-Year Numbers Geekery

You may know I'm kind of a numbers geek. I keep track of nearly every aspect of every run, ride and exercise I do...not just for OC reasons, but because they usually teach me things about myself and what my body can and can't handle... although there may be an OC component as well (the other night, I was distraught because I couldn't find my detailed cycling records from 1999...a big cycling year for me. I survived, obviously).

So, to make your eyes glaze over, here are this year's numbers:

RUNS: 167
MILES: 1073.2 (PR)
AVG MI/RUN: 6.43 (PR)
JAN-JUNE MI: 852.4 (PR)
JUL-DEC MI: 220.8 (stinking injury!)
HIGH MONTH: 206.4 (April, PR)
HIGH WEEK: 52.3 (April, PR)


MAX PULLUPS: 17 (missed goal of 20!)
SITUPS: 5123
DIPS: 2968

DEADLIFT VOLUME: 60,184 lbs.


Oh, almost forgot:

Okay, I think that's enough. There's plenty more minutiae in my spreadsheet, but this should suffice.

Tune in tomorrow to find out my "Word for 2011!"

Have a safe and Happy New Year's Eve, folks! Bring on 2011!

Thursday, December 30, 2010


To continue the “Non-Running Talk on a Running Blog” and risk losing everyone's interest, I thought I'd post a few entries from an old sketch book, along with an oil painting I did in 1991 (apologies for those of you who have seen them on Facebook).

I do all of my illustration work on the computer, but I used to draw and paint quite a bit. Finding these (while cleaning my office) has rekindled the urge to pick up the pencils and brushes again. Hopefully I'll follow through with that desire in 2011. Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The Colin Hayes Story (or...A Bit Of Prose, Having NOTHING To Do With Running)

A few years ago, I recorded a solo instrumental CD to send to my clients. To accompany the CD & the artwork, I wrote up a [ahem] bio. I had forgotten about it until I unearthed it while cleaning my office. I hereby present it for your entertainment:

The blues were deeply entrenched in Colin Hayes’ soul from the day he arrived on the scene back in late November of 1950. Those first few chords of Need The Bottle So Bad rang true to the toddler more than even he knew at the time his momma played it for him. As a young boy in inner city Chicago, the smoky clubs sang to him as he leaned against the doorways on cold, windy nights, catching a stray note here and there as patrons came and went. After he learned to walk, a whole new world presented itself as he discovered there was more to blues than spilled cocktails and cool, hip shoes.

A few basses, guitars and funky shades later, he was well on his way to a life he had only dreamed of. The rise was precipitous. Gig followed gig at a dizzying pace. Ray Charles, BB King, Robert Johnson and a slew of other opening acts helped pave the way for those lofty heights that would seemingly never end.

Those were heady days for Hayes. From corner coffee houses all the way to one glorious night at Carnegie Hall, where he played for a packed audience that included President Nixon [side note — this was just before the Watergate scandal. Colin’s encore of
Baby, That Tape Won’t Erase was never more fortuitous]. Needless to say, he brought down the house. And the administration.

Accolades, gifts, solicitations, advice, calls from his mother telling him to eat his vegetables, all swarmed him like fleas on an unwashed alley cat. Proposals of marriage from the British Royal Family were even rumored.

Then, as quickly as he could jam out a twelve-bar blues riff, everything came crashing down. The explanations and excuses soon followed. “He’s recharging his creative batteries,” claimed his publicist. Critics blamed a peculiarly experimental album he had just released,
She So Mean, Got Me Scrubbin’ The Latrine as the cause of his demise. Others pointed to more personal reasons, such as “he has bad hair,” or “his nose is too pointed for my liking.” “He’s just too white” was yet another.

But just as success can inspire, so too can the depths of despair. The embodiment of the blues indeed stems from tough times such as those Colin Hayes was enduring. Living in a ’78 Buick LeSabre and scrawling out lyrics on old cocktail napkins from Chip’s Pub and Florist Haus, he slowly saw his way back to life — life on his terms — not those dictated to him by some stuffy suit behind the desk of a record company. Things started rolling — slowly, as one would expect — then things really did start rolling, as the parking brake on his Buick failed. But the gigs started coming. First, corner laundrymats came calling. Then, the big shows started to materialize. He knocked them dead at Barb’s Bingo Bonanza…literally, unfortunately, as four heart attacks and one stroke occurred during the concert. But, good or bad, he was once again on his way.

Which brings us to the present. A present filled with the promise of a brighter day. One forged by heights and hardships. The culmination of this amazing story you are now holding in your hands. Cherish this, dear listener, as we may never again experience elegant, emotional artistry such as this.

—Charles Cobenali

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Coming Along

I hope everyone is enjoying the holidays. I certainly am...when I can take a break and come up for air. Work has been busier than it's been in a few years. Nice way to end a sub-par year.

The last 3 weeks or so, I've managed to get in a few spins on my Schwinn Airdyne. I've limited myself to 20 minutes per session. Initially, my heel would feel sore the next day or two, but lately it's felt pretty good. Either that area around my heel is getting stronger, or my heel is adapting to the activity. Today, I decided to up the ante just a bit. After my 20 minute "ride", I got on the treadmill and walked for 10 minutes, at a slight incline. I wanted to walk a mile, but erred on the side of caution. I wore my running shoes with my orthotics inserted. We'll see how the heel feels tomorrow.

The itch to run is becoming more intense. I'm seeing my doc next Wednesday, the 5th, so I'll report back on what he has to say about my next step in the process.

My ‘vanity project’ is still underway, though, so I at least have something to keep me motivated!

I envy those of you who are running their last races and last miles of the year. Wish I was out there with you. Like I've said before, run a couple of miles for me!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Still Tender...and Brooks!

Work is INSANE currently, so right to the point: light cycling still bothers my heel. I did a 10 minute spin last Thursday and a 15 minute spin last Saturday, and my heel ached a couple of days after the latter spin. I may try again (maybe 10 minutes), but after walking around last night with my family (after which, the heel felt okay), I may try some walking. I just NEED to get some aerobic exercise. I'm enjoying the weight lifting (which I'm skipping this week, due to work), but I need an endurance fix. As my strength increases, my endurance is bottoming out. I don't like that feeling.

Swimming was going to be an option, but my pool is closed until January I'll at least have to wait until then.

One positive bit of news is that Brooks has invited me back to not only be an ID (Inspire Daily) member, but also a member of their P.A.C.E. team (Performance and Coaching Elite), “reserved for a special subset of Brooks’ top influencers.” (guess I've got them fooled...ha!) I'm honored to be a part of their team for another year. I've said it before, but I was a Brooks guy long before being an ID member. I just need to get over this injury so I can get back out there and do justice to their sponsorship!

If I don't post again this week, have a very Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays! Despite some setbacks this year, I've really enjoyed the friendships I've formed with fellow runners I've met online. Your comments, suggestions and encouragements have been invaluable.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Too Kind Shout-Out

Last month, Craig Romano (a senior writer for Northwest Runner magazine) and I finally met in person at the Fowl Fun Run (my last run to-date, where I paced my daughter in her first road race). We had a great conversation. He followed up with an email, asking about not only my club, but my running parody songs & videos, saying he wanted to mention them in his Club Report article the following month. I just received my copy in the mail today (Jan. 2011 issue) and he was WAY too kind. It was much appreciated. Aside from one slight misstatement (I've only played all instruments except drums on ONE song so far, but I'll be doing that more for future songs; oh, and there are 20 songs now, not 19), it was a great blurb from a great writer & very nice guy. If you live in the Pacific Northwest and you're a runner that doesn't already subscribe to their magazine, you should!
[click article below to enlarge]

Friday, December 17, 2010

So Far, So Good

Not that a ten minute spin yesterday was a major undertaking, but so far today, I have no heel pain. I also did a 5 minute warmup on the Airdyne before my weights workout today, so it seems like my heel can handle small amounts of cardio work at this point. Hey, I'll take what I can get.

Speaking of weights, today's workout took me to a place I hadn't been to in many years — to the edge of puking and passing out. I downed a cup of strong coffee just before the workout (which I've done before), then hit it HARD. I not only increased the intensity on every lift, I also added sets and ended up extending the total workout time to 68 minutes. Too long, based on most knowledgeable opinions. I was training on nerve, starting to get shaky, getting tunnel vision and feeling pretty queasy. I've been hitting my entire body in each workout, but from here on out, I'll be splitting up body parts in order to keep the workouts short(er) and intense, without the overwhelming desire to drive a porcelain bus.

I hope to do another stint on the Airdyne over the weekend — probably only 10 minutes again, just to play it safe.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

2nd Test

Since last Saturday's 20-minute spin on the Lifecycle seemed to cause my heel to ache the following two days, I thought I'd cut the spinning time in half and give it another go today. If today's ten minutes (this time, on my Schwinn Airdyne) causes the heel to ache tomorrow, I'll know for sure that even the simple act of pedaling is a no-no for the time being. As an aside, it's shocking how much aerobic fitness I've lost, given my perceived effort level during this “easy” 10-minute spin.

I had planned to give swimming a try, but that'll have to wait until after January 5th. My local pool is closed for maintenance until then (I have an unused pass I've already paid for, so I'm not going elsewhere).

On a related note, another “S word” has been floating around the house lately. No, not that. And no, not Santa (okay, maybe a little). I'm talking “surgery.” Again, I'm deferring to my doc for now, but if I can't even pedal a bike, I don't see how running is going to happen until the thing causing the pain is removed. Sure, inactivity may have calmed down the injured area, but that bone growth and scarred Achilles tendon are still there.

So my cardio options continue to be limited, unfortunately. I'd like to start walking on the treadmill (or outdoors, even), but I've been asked to hold off on that for now. It's aggravating, it's frustrating, but it is what it is.

Someday, when I'm out on a pain-free long run, this will all be a distant memory.

Run an extra mile for me this weekend!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Heel Update, and Week 4 of Abs

After getting the go-ahead from my doc last week to start incorporating light cycling and swimming into my program, I did some light spinning for 20 minutes on a Lifecycle-type machine on Saturday. While there was no pain nor discomfort during the session, my heel ached all day Sunday and yesterday (around the lower Achilles tendon area; where the scar tissue is). Sooo...maybe I'll skip that for now (or try 10 minutes instead). My current workload is insane this week, but once it lets up, I'll give the local pool a try and see how that feels.

This is week 4 of my Abs Project. If you're interested (and need a good chuckle), feel free to give it a look-see here.

Happy running/training/eating holiday goodies!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Giving The Boot The Boot

I just returned from a visit to my sports medicine doc with the go-ahead to start transitioning out of the walking boot. Tomorrow I'll wear it 75% of my waking hours, the next day 50%, the next day 25%, then I'm done with it. I've also been given the okay to do some swimming and light (low gear) cycling (on the indoor trainer). While it's not running, at least I'll be able to remind myself what an increased heart rate feels like. I've enjoyed doing strength training, but I've been jonesing for an endorphin fix lately. Not sure I'll get that fix from light spinning and getting lapped by old ladies at the pool, but it's definitely better than nothing!

As I transition away from the boot, I'll be breaking in my orthotics, then will wear them pretty much full-time. I'll visit the doc again on January 1st. At that point, I'll start specific strengthening exercises for my foot (feet), then, at some point, gradually start running. It'll be a long, slow process, but I'm game.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Week 3 of the Abs Project, and Orthotics News

I just posted my Week 3 update on my other blog.

My orthotics came in last week. The bad news is that there was some misunderstanding between my wife and our insurance company. Unfortunately, we have to cover the entire cost out-of-pocket, to the tune of over 4 bills. Ouch. The good news is that I may be out of my walking boot this Wednesday (which is my next doctor's appointment), so I'll be able to take advantage of the magical healing powers of the custom orthotics.

Okay, there was some sarcasm there. Who knows, maybe I'll be pleasantly surprised. It'll still be awhile before I can run, so the only feedback I'll get will be just wearing them around the house and around town.

All for now. I hope everyone's Christmas shopping is going better than mine...considering I haven't started yet!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Embrace the Change

I've been in a walking boot for nearly 3 weeks. It's also been 3 weeks since my last run of the year (the 2-mile fun run with my daughter), and 16 weeks since I've put in as much as 20 miles of running in a week. So, obviously, not a lot of running-related news coming from the Resurrected Runner camp at the moment (thus the infrequent posts and silly videos).

If you've been following my saga, you know how bummed I was when the injury forced me to stop running. It's not easy to have something you love, something that's a big part of your daily life, suddenly removed. There are both physical and psychological ramifications*.

Fortunately, since I've redirected my physical energies toward another venture, I've been able to bounce back. In fact, I'm actually enjoying the break from running as I get back into weight lifting. I won't go so far as to say I was burned out on running — because I wasn't — but I will say that I was starting to put a lot of pressure on myself to perform at a certain level, thereby making me frustrated when I'd run a disappointing race. I'm all for having time and distance goals, because I thrive on them, but when they create so much stress that something that should be enjoyable borders on being a job, or a chore, then it's time to re-evaluate. I was getting to that point, and the injury was exacerbating** the problem.

So...a switch has finally been flipped in my feeble mind that is allowing me to step back and look at my running — and overall fitness — a bit more objectively. I'm more at peace now, and even though I can't currently get my "aerobic fix", I'm enjoying the challenge of working on "getting my abs" and getting stronger. When the time comes when I can start running again, you can bet I'll be ready.

But until then, I'll definitely survive...and maybe even thrive. And you guys & gals can keep the roads and trails warm for me!

*winner of today's Victorious Vocabulary award
**ooh...double the award!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Free Parody Song

It's been up for several days, but there's a link on the right side of this page that takes you to another page where you can download one of my running-related parody songs for free. The song is called Runnin' So I Can Eat (based on the old Tom Petty song, Runnin' Down A Dream) and is the final track of my new collection (available for purchase; link also on the right of this page). I played all instruments (except drums) on this track. I'm not a pro, but I had fun!

So feel free to download it, if you haven't already.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Ab Out Time, Week 2

For those of you who are interested in following my Don Quixote Windmill Tilting quest for the elusive 6-pack abs on my other blog, here's the latest installment.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Ab Challenge

Okay, Chris K, I've taken your challenge! I just created a new blog to document my quest for a sharp 6-pack. Check it out here, and follow my journey, through good, bad and (hopefully not) ugly!

Saturday, November 20, 2010


Gil Sings Christmas Songs

(what else is an injured runner supposed to do?)

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

More Ear Pollution

Yes, it's on every runner's holiday shopping list — the new parody song collection, More Ear Pollution. Click on the link in the right column to hear samples of each song. Please consider purchasing the new collection (or the old one..or both) to help a poor, injured runner pay his medical bills!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Passing The Torch

I couldn't have asked for a better way to hang up my running shoes for awhile. This morning, my oldest daughter and I ran the 2-mile Fowl Fun Run in Mount Vernon, WA. I ran the 10k there last year and really enjoyed it. At that race, both of my daughters said they wanted to run the 2 mile ”next year“ (meaning this year), but my youngest unfortunately got sick yesterday and wasn't able to make it.

Rain was in the forecast, but a drop never fell all morning. It was overcast and in the upper 40's at race time, but felt a little cooler due to a persistent wind.

My job was to pace Natalie through the race and see what she could do, both time-wise and age-group-wise. My loose goal for her (based on what I've seen her do in training) was to run sub-18 minutes. We hit the first mile in 8:35. I kept pulling a bit too far in front of her, so I backed off a few times while still encouraging her to keep her form clean and hold the pace. With about a half mile left, we saw a girl we knew was in her age group starting to take walk breaks. I turned to Natalie and said “here's where we pass her.” We did just that, and picked up the pace. With about 100m left, there were two young boys in front of us. Natalie took off (leaving me in the dust) in an attempt to chick them. One beat her, but she beat the other one. I stayed behind the three of them and crossed a second later. Natalie ran a nice negative split (8:34 second mile) to finish in an official 17:23. And, best of all, she came away with an age-group victory (out of 7 girls)*

To me, this was more important than the time. At the start of her running career, it's great to provide some opportunities for her to build her confidence and her enthusiasm for running. Not every race will offer a chance for a division win, but a few of these results here and there should keep the fire stoked nicely.

Needless to say, I'm proud — elated — with her performance. It was special to finally run my first road race with one of my kids. If she continues down this path, there will come a time (fighting it as I might) where she will “chick” me.

Dad, with ”the Champ”
When I'm at a road race, immersed in the atmosphere, I'm always reminded how much I love this sport. I feel like I belong to this group of people, diverse as they (we) may be. Any bitterness I may have felt upon my official diagnosis has passed, but as you'd expect, I'm a bit sad that this will be the end of my running for awhile. However, I'm also excited to start down the road to recovery and get back out there, healthy and ready!

In the meantime, I'll run vicariously through you, my friends, and my future star daughter (sorry, no pressure intended)!

*and, in a random drawing, she won a HUGE pumpkin pie!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

MRI Results

Well, the culmination of my foot frustrations came to a head today, with a meeting between my sports medicine doctor and me. The MRI results are in, and the diagnosis isn't a big surprise to me.

As I mentioned previously, there is a bone deformity on (or as a part of) my right heel. The MRI not only confirmed that, but it also showed the resulting damage to my Achilles tendon. The “Tendinosis” was caused by the tendon rubbing up and down over the protruding bone growth on the back and top of my heel. He also pointed to an “Equinus” (tight calf muscle & Achilles tendon) as a factor which increases the tension of the tendon, thereby exacerbating the damage. He told me to envision a rope being grabbed from both ends, pulled taught, and rubbed back and forth over a sharp corner of a counter.

There are two paths of treatment. One involves surgery (I'll explain that later). The other is a conservative approach, and the one I'll be taking, based on my doctor's recommendation. It's a 3-phased plan. Phase 1 is Rest & Protection. I'll be in a walking boot for 3 weeks, after which the condition will be reevaluated. If things have improved, we move to Phase 2Strengthening. After this is, of course, Phase 3, which is Return to Activity. The lengths and activities of phases 2 & 3 will be determined after phase 1 is complete.

I'll do my best to maintain optimism during this entire process, but there's a chance this will permanently affect my future running goals. Most doctors like to hint at worst-case scenarios, and this guy is no different (except for the fact that he's a Sports Doctor with a lot of knowledge and experience with endurance racing — running and triathlon). He said that, due to this deformity (man, that word makes me sound like Quasimodo or something), maybe I won't be a “marathon runner”. Perhaps I'll only be able to run limited mileage, possibly combined with cross-training (the latter not being a bad thing, necessarily). Swallowing the possibility of not being able to run as much and as far as I'd like to is difficult. I'm choosing to focus on the word “possibility”, and not the phrase “not able to.” The wild card in this whole scenario is the protruding heel bone. As long as that's there, the condition could return (and possibly worsen) in the future.

Which leads us to...

This condition has proven itself to be chronic before, so there's no guarantee that the above-mentioned “conservative” approach will take care of the problem. If it doesn't, surgery will be the option. This will involve cutting around the heel and slightly up, detaching the Achilles tendon, shaving the heel bone, removing scar tissue from the tendon, then reattaching the Achilles tendon to the heel bone...after which I'd be completely out of commission for a half a year, minimum. Even after healing from this procedure, there's no guarantee I could run the way (or as far as, or as much as) I'd prefer to.

In the meantime, I'll be preparing to sell tickets to the Gun Show doing upper body weight work until I'm cleared to start working my legs and feet again. I'll also be doing my best to NOT have to break out the 'fat jeans' (the few I've saved, anyway). Oh holidays, how I resent your culinary temptations.

To be honest, I'm feeling pretty melancholy about the whole predicament. Part of me wants to stay plugged into the running community (both online and local) because it's a great bunch of people, and part of me wants to completely disconnect because it reminds me that I can't physically be a part of it (if you're reading this and you're NOT a runner, this probably sounds pretty extreme). Odds are that I'll pull back a little... but running is in my blood, so I'm sure I'll still be part of the “gang”.

And of course I'll keep you posted on my progress (and still post some crazy videos from time to time).

I have a two-mile “race” (fun run) scheduled with my oldest daughter next Saturday. There's no way on Earth I'd miss this. I can't think of a better way to end my running for the time being.

Here's to hoping my blog title has even more relevance in a few months, and that I don't have to change it to The Retired Runner.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

High School District Meet, Oct. 30th

Here are a couple of short video clips from last weekend's District XC meet (to which I brought my oldest daughter).
Since I focused on Glacier Peak High School in the article I wrote for Northwest Runner Magazine a couple of months ago, I've been following the team closely this season.
The first clip is the finish of the boys' 3A race. This took place at South Whidbey High School (on Whidbey Island, near Langley, WA). Jeff Bastian (senior) of Glacier Peak won the race in a fast time (especially on this tough course).

(Jeff took 4th in the state meet today)

This next clip is of the finish of the girls' 3A race, with Amy-Eloise Neale (soph, Glacier Peak HS) securing an easy-looking victory (with a new course record), with Katie Bianchini (soph, Glacier Peak) taking second. Glacier Peak also took 3rd and 5th in the race.

(Amy-Eloise won state today in a blazing 17:31, with Katie taking 3rd overall. The Glacier Peak girls also secured their first state title)

The Division-winning, AND State-winning Glacier Peak girls team.

It's a good thing Amy-Eloise Neale has a memorable name. If you follow professional running at all, I think you'll eventually hear her name on the national...possibly international...level in a few years. She's the real deal.

Enjoy the rest of your weekend!

Friday, November 5, 2010

New Video Friday

Happy Friday, my friends.
I present to you:

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Sleeping Glute*

*My new Native-American name

I just returned from my MRI appointment. I had forgotten how long it takes to get 'er done. I sat completely still for 40 minutes (until my right glute was sound asleep) while the funky little machine hummed and growled away.

I'll return to the doctor on Tuesday to view and discuss the results.

Running a marathon soon? Check in tomorrow to see a new and enlightening video.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

MRI, and Insurance News

I'm getting an MRI on my foot tomorrow. I'll visit my doc again next Tuesday to go over the results.

My wonderful wife called our insurance company today and was told that they will cover orthotics (100%!) as long as they're billed as "preventative". I don't see why they wouldn't be considered preventative, as they will hopefully help me avoid further injuries once I start running again.

So, good news, as custom orthotics aren't exactly cheap.

Tune in Friday for a new, timely (regarding fall marathon season) and VERY helpful video!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

First Visit to the Sports Medicine Clinic

I just returned from my first visit to the Sports Medicine Clinic in Seattle. While more info will be forthcoming, I do have some preliminary info to share.

We discussed my recent running history. I told him how I trained for and ran my marathon back in May, then had my first run-in with the heel pain a couple of weeks later. Then came the 3 week layoff, then back into training (for Ragnar, primarily), then a six week layoff, then very minimal running the last 4-5 weeks.

He then observed my feet as I was standing (barefoot) and noticed that my offending foot pronates quite a bit. He then remarked at how tight my right calf and achilles are, and how that is likely affecting my foot movement during foot strike.

He then took xrays of my foot (unlike the PT I saw earlier this year). I don't have them to post here, unfortunately, but upon his diagnosis, he explained—and showed me— that I have a condition called Haglund's Deformity. There's a prominent growth on the top of my right heel that's causing irritation of my achilles tendon and, possibly, the bursa. While this may not be directly related to the pain I'm also feeling in other areas of my foot, it's certainly the genesis of this injury. The excessive pronation is likely the cause of at least the other pain, if not also this deformity issue. He also said something about a possible cyst there, although I wasn't totally clear about that. He said that surgery probably won't be needed. Oh — he also said that my six week layoff would have been enough time off if it was just tendonitis (not totally sure I agree), and that the recurring nature of the injury points to a structural problem (as the x-ray showed, and to which I do agree).

I asked him if he thought tinkering with my running form could have contributed to this and he confirmed that he has seen many runners who have been injured during that process. While agreeing that working to improving one's form isn't a bad thing, he said that our bodies do settle on a natural running form based on our biomechanics and structural issues (but again, no, he doesn't think over-striding and heel-striking are good). He did comment that I'm probably not a good candidate for Vibram Five Fingers, though.

He agreed that other contributing factors could be overuse and increased hill training (which really pushed it over the top back in August).

As you might suspect, he does recommend custom orthotics. While I've been averse to this idea before, now I say bring 'em on. Fortunately, he's not a fan of what he calls "bricks" (i.e. heavy, motion-control shoes, which I used to wear) and that I should be fine continuing to wear my neutral running shoes. I'll just have a bit more support to correct my overpronation in that foot.

The next step in the process will be an MRI to take a look at the soft tissues & tendons surrounding the heel (and ankle area) to see how inflamed they are. I'm awaiting a call from their office to schedule an appointment.

Thankfully (and as I suspected) there's no sign of any stress fractures. I just have a freakish heel bone and a wonky foot movement.

So that's all I know at this point. As you'd guess, I'm done running for the time being. After the MRI, we'll discuss cross-training options, and how long it might be until I start running again.

Not running is a major bummer, but I'm happy to be working with someone who (so far) I trust.

Monday, November 1, 2010

New Yorker Article

I don't often read the New Yorker (okay, I NEVER do), but I found a link to this article, about Alberto Salazar and his trainee, Dathan Ritzenhein, that was a very interesting read. It covers Salazar's career, along with his coaching philosophy and how one of his runners (Ritz) has struggled with a form overhaul. Of course I'm not even a fraction of the athlete Ritzenhein is, but I wonder if my foot injury may have come, as his did, from my attempt to change my form (i.e. landing more midfoot than on the heel). Not that I regret the attempt. In the long run, I believe it will make me faster and less injury prone. But I've been suspicious that the change may be partially behind my foot follies.

Either way, it's an interesting article and worth a read.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Doctor, It Hurts When I Do This

That's it. I can't keep doing this. Time to see a doctor & not only get this foot fixed, but figure out what the heck caused the injury and how to avoid it in the future.

I made an appointment with the Sports Medicine Clinic (Northgate area, north of Seattle) for next Tuesday. Dr. McInnes was recommended to me by a local triathlete friend of mine (who has also had her share of foot injuries lately). This doctor is an endurance athlete himself, and specializes in sports podiatry.

Aside from running a 2-mile fun run next month with my daughter, I'm assuming there's a good chance I may be shutting down my running program for the balance of this year. A lot of you guys & gals have helped me to come to grips with that decision, as hard as it is. If running just short distances three times a week still causes pain, what's the point in continuing? Even in asking that rhetorical question, it's a struggle to even give that up. But knowing that long-term damage could sideline me much longer is enough reason to do the right thing now.

I'll report back after my first visit.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Unshod Experiment

My lack of posts is disturbing (a bit of a Star Wars reference there)...

I wish I had more to post about. Work has been busy (a BIG plus), so any planned videos are on hold. Running is still challenging and (to be honest) frustrating. My foot is still a problem. Last Wednesday's 4x800 track workout, followed by two hard miles within Friday's 4-mile run angered my foot. I felt the repercussions all weekend. I skipped yesterday's run to give it more rest, then got on the treadmill today. I kept the run short (3 miles) and slow (9:24 pace). I focused on my turnover rate and foot strike, trying hard to land midfoot, if not a tad forefoot. Once I hit 2.75 miles, I stopped the treadmill, took off my shoes and socks, and ran the last quarter mile barefoot. I'm hoping that doing this once or twice per week will gradually strengthen the muscles and tendons in my feet. If it worsens the condition of my right foot, I'll stop.

Speaking of stopping, I may be doing that...again...depending on feedback I may soon be getting. The circumstances that kept me from seeing a new PT doctor a few weeks ago have changed, slightly, for the better, so I have the green light from the Mrs. (a.k.a. "she who must be obeyed") to seek out treatment. This time, it'll be from a doc who specializes in working with endurance athletes. I've received three recommendations from local running friends for the same doctor. He's not close, but if he can not only fix my owie, but figure out what caused it, then the drive(s) will be worth it.

I'd be lying if I said that I haven't been experiencing a mild form of depression lately. The change of seasons (here, it's been dark, cold, rainy & windy lately), coupled with my inability to run like I want to has hit me pretty hard. Like a lot of us distance runners, I have a pretty strong connection (okay, addiction) to running. While I try not to let it define me as a person, it's certainly a major part of my life. Having it taken away (again...I've been through this scenario many times before) is getting harder to deal with. If I was a drinking man, I may be working on a fifth per day by now.

One positive that has come from the down time is renewed upper body strength. During the meat of my marathon training, I neglected any strength training I should have been doing. I could do about 25 pushups, max, at that time. A few days ago I managed 50 in one set (a PR for me), along with 14 pullups (most in several years), and 30 hanging dips (another PR). Look for me on the cover of Rock-Hard Studliness soon.

I'll sign off before I start rambling about my kids and my fantasy football teams. I hope you're running strong & healthy, and if not, that you heal quickly. And put in a long run for me. I REALLY miss those.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Age Grading, and McMillan Running Calculator

Hey Y'all!

Just a couple of running-related thoughts on my mind tonight.

Like most of us recreational runners, I usually don't run races to beat other runners. Sure, I pay attention to my division placing (and even gender and overall placings, stat geek that I am), but I'm primarily interested in comparing my current performance with a previous performance at the same distance. That's why I started using Cialis an age-grade calculator. I recently went through ALL of my past races (high school track included) and age-graded every one of them, so I could compare a 10k from last year with, say, a 10k I ran in 1985. I used a calculator on a site called Runbayou. An explanation from their site:

The Age-Grade Calculator is used to calculate your age-graded performance from your actual performance. This data can then be used to compare your performance with athletes of different ages.

They also offer this chart, for comparison purposes:

Age-graded performance level:
100% = Approximate World-Record Level
Over 90% = World Class
Over 80% = National Class
Over 70% = Regional Class
Over 60% = Local Class

There are other age-grade calculators (Runners World has one), but I like the one on Runbayou because it offers grading all the way down to a mile (1000m, actually) whereas most others bottom out at the 5k distance. Who knows which calculator is most accurate. As long as you use the same one to compare your own performances, it doesn't matter.

Some interesting data came from my own results. First of all, my age grade numbers are not at all impressive. That said, my highest average grade is in the mile, at 72.25. Not a big surprise, since this includes my junior and senior high school track seasons (when I was at my "peak"). Excluding track, the 10k distance has been my strongest (63.14). As a masters runner, I've only competed last year and this year. My 5 mile race earlier this year graded out at 64.53 (highest), while my rather disappointing marathon graded at 57.4. Even my five official half marathons graded at a disappointing 60.83 average, leading me to think I've not yet trained myself effectively for longer distance races, even though I enjoy them. Or maybe I'm just used to racing shorter distances, due to my high school track and cross-country training.

Have you used age grading? How do your shorter and longer races compare?

On a slight tangent, but somewhat related, I'd like to bring up the McMillan Running Calculator. I've heard some runners comment that it seems to work well for them in predicting times (primarily a marathon time, using a result from a recent shorter race). For me...not so much. Yes, I had a crash-and-burn experience during the late stages of my marathon, but I know I was NOT trained to run a 3:25 marathon, as the calculator would have me believe, even though I ran a 34:55 five mile race a month before (which is what I plugged in). Even if I plug in my half marathon PR from earlier this year, it shows me a 3:33 marathon. Perhaps I underestimate my abilities, but again, I don't think I was trained to run that. Why? Maybe inexperience since it was my first marathon. Maybe because I did zero interval training (although I did hills and tempo work). There are other factors that may have come into play (overtraining? terrible heat?), but given perfect race conditions that day, I would guess I could have run about a 3:40, give or take. Maybe a little faster, who knows.

If you've used the McMillan Running Calculator, has it been accurate in predicting your times?

Sorry – feeling a little geeky tonight.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Thank You

I decided to disclose something to my running friends who visit this blog. As you probably know, I sell my running parody songs on this site. You may have heard them on Chris Russell's Run, Run, Live podcast. Several of you have purchased the first collection, and for that I thank you.

The funds have been sitting in my PayPal account from the first sale on. I recently decided that I would only spend the money on running-related items, services and/or donations. First, I donated a percentage to Chris Russell. We didn't have any kind of formal agreement, but I wanted to send him some as a token of my appreciation for playing them on his podcast. Then, I decided to purchase items that would help in the healing of my foot. I bought KT tape and, just today, I bought a pair of Zensah compression socks and ankle supports. Not that it matters, but I'll continue to spend these funds on running-related stuff (including donations), instead of cheap booze and loose women*.

I plan on having a second parody song collection available for purchase soon. Hopefully, those of you who have purchased the first collection will consider purchasing the second. Also, I hope you'll think of it as not just a donation to my running lifestyle, but that you derive a bit of enjoyment out of listening to them as well.

Until the next group is ready, the first batch is still available here, if you're interested and have not yet purchased them.

And if you have, again, you have my sincerest thanks – from both me AND my on-the-mend foot.

*that comes from a different fund altogether...and it's actually referred to my "one beer a week and date with my beloved wife" fund. But "cheap booze and loose women" sounds more dangerous.

Saturday, October 16, 2010


Man, was it good to run with my running club buddies this morning! This was my first "street run" since August 10th, and my first run with the club since July 31st. The last three weeks, I've been gingerly running on the treadmill, along with one day a week at a local high school track. I was nervous about the hills, but aside from just a little discomfort on one downhill stretch, the foot held up just fine this morning. I finally received my KT tape in the mail yesterday and watched a couple of good youtube vids on applying it for certain foot issues. I taped up last night and ran with it this morning and it seemed to help.

I kept the mileage moderate – 4.1 miles at 8:02/mile pace. That pace felt harder than it should have, but that's no surprise since I've hardly run since early August.

At this point, my plan going forward will still be three runs per week; once on the treadmill, once at the track, and once on the roads – all 3 to 5 miles each. While the foot has mostly felt good, I know it's not completely healed. But this type and this amount of running will hopefully both strengthen my foot and let me maintain some semblance of fitness until I can start increasing my distances, frequency and pace later this year and early next year. Right now, I'll take what I can get!

I'm STRONGLY considering some Zensah compression socks to add to my KT tape treatment. I've got a few running friends who swear by them. If you've had experience with them, I'd love to get your take on them.

Friday, October 15, 2010

New Video Friday

Another music video for your pleasure (based on an old Bob Dylan tune). It has NO BASIS IN FACT WHATSOEVER! Purely fictional. Yep.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Running Kids

I was pretty excited yesterday afternoon, getting to watch my oldest daughter run her first race. She's in sixth grade and running cross-country. The sixth-graders don't get to run the meets with the 7th & 8th graders, but once per season they're allowed to race over part of the home course.

Early in the race. Natalie was leading the girls, and was 4th overall.

Natalie, still leading the girls. She was passed shortly after this pic.
Natalie ended up running 7:15 for just about a mile, finishing in 2nd for the girls.

This little race did a lot to boost her confidence. When the season started, she wasn't sure she wanted to stick with it. I was able to convince her to hang tough, that her body would adapt and her fitness would improve. I know she has potential to be a good runner. After she finished, she was pretty excited. Her previous best timed mile was 9:06, so she shaved nearly two minutes off that time.

Last night, she even told me that once cross-country season ends, she wants to run with me (assuming I'm not hobbled by my foot), which we did a little of during the summer. We're going to run a local Fowl Fun Run (2 miles) next month. I want her to enjoy it, but I also want her to race it. I believe that, if she ends up finishing strongly in her age group, she'll really start believing in her abilities. I think young runners (and even us older runners) need confidence builders. So much of running is mental, and if you start having successes, they build on each other. You also need to learn how to bounce back after bad runs & races, but if you don't have breakthroughs to get excited about – especially as a kid just starting out – you're more prone to throw in the towel. That's why I nearly got choked up seeing her do so well yesterday. It was a big hurdle to clear and she did it.

With all that said, I'm not going to push her and pile expectations on her, either. It has to be fun. But a little success definitely adds to the fun factor.

So, as a parent of a new runner, I'm excited about how she's doing and what she can (and hopefully will) do in the future. And I'm excited to see HER excitement!

Monday, October 11, 2010


Before we get into the meat of this entry, let me share with you my running status. The previous three weeks, I ran three times each week. My total mileage for week 1 of my current comeback was 4 miles. Week two was 8 miles. Last week totaled 9.8 miles. Today I began week four with 4 miles on the treadmill. I've been doing my Monday and Friday runs on the treadmill and my Wednesday runs on a local high-school track. My foot pain has been up and down, with not as much rhyme nor reason as I had thought, given today's run. It was my longest run since my layoff, followed by 70 minutes of pushing a lawnmower around our yard (which includes a hill...which normally makes my foot very angry). Tonight, the foot feels great. Last Friday, however, 3 miles on the treadmill caused foot pain and discomfort for the next 12 hours. As of now, the foot seems to be a day-by-day issue. My three days per week of short, flat runs will continue for the foreseeable future.

Okay, with that out of the way, I'll get into some good stuff. This is a running blog, and I'm indeed a runner. But, since my days of running around with the Rat Pack, I am first and foremost an entertainer. Ah, the stories I could tell about Dean Martin and I hiding Sammy Davis, Jr's glass eye...

But I digress. For some reason, tonight's dinner table conversation turned to snake talk. With my daughters hanging on every word, they asked me to tell them about my various experiences with snakes. Now, Steve Irwin (God rest his soul) I am not, but I've had a few interesting encounters. Here are four vignettes:

1. I spent my middle school years in St. Petersburg, Florida – home of many varieties of snakes; many of them poisonous. We had a garden tool in our shed that resembled a hoe, but with a straight, rather than bent, blade. I dubbed it my 'Snake Killer' (to this day, I don't know its intended use). One hot, muggy day I went out to our backyard to play and spotted a large, gray snake. I grabbed my Snake Killer and chased the snake back and forth across the outside wall of our house. I finally got a chance and successfully chopped its head off. It was only then, standing there in shorts and flip-flops, that I noticed the row of rattles at the end of its tail. I decided against telling my mom about that incident. This story just reminded me of a more recent summer drive across Washington state. While at a rest area, our dog nearly stepped on a coiled Western diamondback hiding in scrub brush. Wow. Not sure why she didn't smell it. Crazy as she was, she would have tried to play with it.

2. Once again in our FL back yard, there were three long black racers. I heard a ruckus and looked out my bedroom window to see them raised up in the air, the front three feet of their bodies straight up, trying to bite the two or three mockingbirds that were screeching and swooping down on them. It was pretty surreal. It was as if I was in India and someone was playing a clarinet as they swayed and danced. Just substitute a wicker basket with several angry birds.

3. Florida again, this time as an 18-yr old (visiting my mom during summer – by this time I lived in WA state with my dad). A friend and I went on a canoeing trip down a river with his mom's church. I'm not sure if it was entirely my fault that we kept drifting toward the bank, but I'll take the blame. I was in front, my friend in back. We were stuck under low-hanging branches. I ducked and tried to paddle our way back to the center of the river, while my friend fought the branches. He reached up and ended up pulling a fat and very poisonous 6' water mocassin into our canoe. He screamed a bunch of not-church-friendly words and flipped him out of the boat with his oar. By the time I turned around, the pastor of the church was beating the snake (now in the water) with his oar from his canoe, behind us. I may have wet myself just a little that day.

4. I'm not sure if I've ever mentioned it here, but it may not surprise you that I had a long, distinguished career as a practical joker. I did my best work between 1985 and 1994 (the last time I was employed by anyone other than myself...thus losing the opportunity to advance my jokester career. No, my wife is not a prime target). One of my crowning achievements happened during the summer of 1987. I was 20 years old, working in the warehouse of an electrical parts distributor in Kent, Washington (my home at that time). There were 7 of us employed there; one of whom was a very yuppie, pink shirt, white collar, slicked-back hair, "hey big guy"-saying, outside salesman (but a nice guy). Russ had a MAJOR fear of snakes. So...I did what any post-teen pratical jokemaster in that situation would do. I waited for him to leave the office on a sales call. I proceeded to take a small box with me to the shrub-laden field behind our office and collected about 12 garter snakes. I taped up the box, wrote "attn: Russ" on it (supposedly from our Seattle branch), placed it on his desk, and waited eagerly for his return. When he arrived, I was a bit uneasy as he decided to get on the phone with a customer AS HE WAS OPENING THE BOX. Seconds later, there was a shriek reminiscent of a teenaged girl at a Duran Duran concert (back then, of course), a flying phone receiver, a flying box, a dozen flying snakes, and one sharp-dressed, slender outside salesman standing on top of his desk with a look of terror on his face.

It was two weeks before he spoke to me again.

I did some of my most creative work at this particular place of business and was actually thrown into our dumpster by two of my coworkers once, who apparently didn't appreciate the artistic genius of my craft. I was in my prime, I tell ya!

So, there you have a summary of my history with snakes, along with a small glimpse into my former jokester life.

More running stuff soon, I promise.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Runners Round Table, Episode 101

I was privileged to co-host tonight's Runners Round Table (episode 101), for which the topic was "Course Management: Things to Remember on Marathon Day."

We were hosted by Mark Ulrich (who is running the Chicago Marathon this weekend). Co-hosting with me were Chris Russell, Stephen Tarleton and Pete Larson (who just ran his first BQ marathon this past weekend!)

They even forced me to play clips from a couple of my parody songs ;-)

I was in the company of FAR more experienced marathoners than I, so I looked at it as a learning experience and didn't feel like I had a heck of a lot I could offer in regards to running marathons. Someday, though...

But I always enjoy my experiences on the show. Give it a listen, if you haven't already.

Northwest Runner Magazine Article

Here's the article I wrote for NW Runner Magazine (click for larger view):

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

It's A Major Award

I have even more incentive to get my bum foot completely healed. I was just notified by the race director of Ragnar - Northwest Passage that the video I put together for our team this year (Extreme Cow Tippers of Mill Creek) won first place in the video competition. With that, we get a free team entry next year (over $1000). That's pretty exciting, if I do say so myself!

In case you missed it, here's the video (warning - the song gets stuck in your head):

Friday, October 1, 2010

Thursday, September 30, 2010


Track was such an easy game to play
But now my speed has really gone away
I ran a time trial yesterday

My foot is better than it used to be
Now the treadmill isn't all I see
A high school track
Sounds good to me

I ran a warmup mile
That's my style
Before I tried

To test my
Current speed
With a hard mile

You ask, "what time did your Garmin say?"
6:31 with quite a high heart rate
I ran a time trial yesterday

I felt really slow
But I know –
I took a break
And no speedwork
Had I done
Before my mile run

I took my fickle right foot out to play
I'm slow, but running might be here to stay
I was quite pleased
With yesterday

[maybe I'll record this...]

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Is It What's IN The Shoes?

I mentioned in my previous post that my bum foot has taken a sudden turn for the better. I've now run on the treadmill four times and each time, the foot hasn't been an issue. There was some slight discomfort during a couple of post-run days, but nothing like I was experiencing before.

Yesterday, I ran an easy two miles on the machine. Today, my foot feels better than it has since I first noticed the injury back in late May. Crazy!

In June, when I was going to physical therapy, I was pretty good about keeping a 3rd party insole in my shoes (Superfeet Green). I quickly became lazy and forgot to shuffle them around from pair to pair, also thinking that I would be doing my foot a disservice by supporting it, rather than strengthening the muscles by staying as minimal as possible. While I'm not going to start trashing on the "minimalist movement", I do think I made a mistake.

While my foot continues to heal and get stronger, I feel the additional support has been a key factor in how it has felt lately. I started wearing the insoles CONSTANTLY (i.e. even in my house slippers...and I work at home, so I wear them a LOT). That doesn't mean I'm allowing my foot muscles to get lazy. I'm doing self-massage, stretching my calves and achilles, and doing toe raises (up with both feet, down with just the injured foot).

Whether or not I'll seek out advice on custom orthotics remains to be seen. It depends on how the foot reacts when I finally start: a) running outside on varying terrain, and: b) increasing my mileage. Maybe the Superfeet Green insoles are just enough support to do the trick.

I know they're pretty anti-minimal, but if this is what it takes to get me running again, I'm wearing them (while still working on my form, turnover rate, etc).

Do any of you wear either custom orthotics or OTC insoles? What are your thoughts & experiences with them?

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Interesting Development…and Future Plans


[Apologies in advance - this will be long]

If there is such a beast as a schizophrenic hypochondriacal chameleon, then I am he.

I recently had a stretch of bad days involving quite a bit of foot and ankle pain. After posting here last Tuesday that I HAD to get in to see a sports podiatrist, I got pretty busy with work. The next day, my foot suddenly felt pretty good. On a total whim, I put on my running shoes w/my Superfeet Green insoles in them and gently stepped onto my cheapo treadmill. I jogged a 9:30 mile. Hmm. No pain. I was actually hoping there would be some pain so I could justify the visit to the doc even more than I already thought I could. I didn't want a situation similar to bringing my car into the shop and telling the mechanic, "well, it's running fine now, but trust me, it was making all kinds of horrible noises yesterday."

I then ran a slightly faster (8:19) mile on the treddy on Thursday. Same thing. No pain. I skipped Friday because there actually was a little discomfort in my upper ankle area (not where the pain usually is, and not as bad). I iced, massaged and stretched. Today, I stepped back on the "going nowhere fast" machine and grinded out a 17:06 2-miler (8:33 pace). Good news - no pain once again. Bad news - I'm HORRIBLY out of shape. It felt like I just ran a half marathon at race pace. I guess that's to be expected.

Does this mean I'm all better and can start ramping up the miles now? Does it mean I won't see the foot doc? As for the latter, I honestly don't know...but I definitely won't be increasing my mileage any time soon, though. At best, I'll attempt three very short treadmill runs per week to hopefully strengthen my legs and feet. If there's any sign of recurring pain, I'll stop. If I'm regressing, I'll hit up the doc right away. I think the flat, forgiving treadmill is easier on my foot than the hard pavement or uneven trails.

Why did the pain seem to suddenly disappear? Maybe some friends and family threw some prayers up for me (yes, I believe in them). It's an odd thing. Like I said, I can still feel something unsavory happening down there, but it's nowhere near what I was experiencing about a week ago.


The above report leads into my new plans for later this year and the first part of next year. Since it seems that relatively high mileage (for me),  long runs and hills led to my foot issue, I'm going to focus on…hold onto your hats…speed. And I'm not just talking Mario Kart Wii speed, either (although I'll kick your butts on most courses…bring it on, homeys. I'll even give you my "friend" number if you ask). I'm going to train as if I'm training for high school track season, starting either late this year or the beginning of next year. My true desire would be to slowly ramp up the mileage again for either a 2nd marathon attempt next spring or a 1st ultra attempt, but I don't think my foot could handle it.

Last year, during marathon training, I started to miss my (ahem) leg speed (assuming I ever had any). Don't get me wrong - I LOVE long runs and I get sucked into the lure of more and more miles, but I truly felt I could be running faster. Where it really hit me was during Ragnar. I was fortunate to be on a team with some pretty quick young(er) guys. There were four of us over 40 and I held my own compared to them, but I started to get envious of the youngsters knocking out 6-6:15 mile splits.

To further support my rationale (i.e. try to convince myself), I can hopefully avoid the cumulative fatigue that the longer miles and few rest days were causing. Not to say that intense speed work will be a walk in the park. While my foot may not agree, I still think of myself as a long-distance runner, and busting out fast 400 meter repeats sounds like torture. But it doesn't involve the foot-beating hills nor 2-hour runs (although I love both).

I try not to dwell on or relive the past, but a lot can be learned from it. My high-school track program (distance, anyway) left a lot to be desired. During my senior season, I averaged 18.5 miles/week during the season (more than that leading up to it). It included a LOT of speed work and very little distance. I managed to improve my mile time from 5:13 (end of my junior season) to a still-not-terribly-fast 5:01 by the end of my senior season. On that paltry mileage base, I also knocked out my fastest 10k right after track season ended (39:06). Even at age 43, I still feel like I can get relatively fast again. I doubt I'll see a 5 minute mile in the future, but I think I can go sub-6 and even break my soft 5k PR. I may even consider racing in an all-comers track meet next summer.

Something I learned after training for my marathon is that I need to build more rest days into my program. I don't recover very quickly anymore. Once I begin this program, I'll shoot for 4 running days per week instead of the 5-6 days I was running last spring. I won't run as much speed work as I did in high school – maybe twice per week – but I'll average a few more miles per week, even with fewer runs. I'll keep up the strength work and maybe hit the bike trainer once a week.

Assuming my plan works, I should be ready for some fast(er) running at Ragnar next year. Then, if the foot is holding up, I'll transition into longer runs (still allowing for adequate recovery), with the hopes of either running a fall marathon or my first ultra.

If you're still awake and reading this, congratulations. I've even bored myself. But I gotta say that I'm excited to focus on something different for awhile. I always love a challenge and, while I'd love to jump back into some long, slow miles and hilly trails, I'm eager to see just how fast these old legs can turn over.

Of course, all of this is contingent on my [heavy sarcasm alert] always-compliant foot. In another month, there's a good chance I could be writing a book called Once A Runner*

*that title hasn't been taken, has it?

Friday, September 24, 2010

Episode 4

Gil's back, and he's full of...good ideas.
Happy Friday!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Gotta Do It

It's now been exactly 6 weeks since I last ran a step and my foot has not improved. Yes, I have good days, but if I do anything that involves my foot – even to small degree, like walking or yard work – it aches badly the next day or two.

I think I've pinpointed the problem. From all I've read, the symptoms match those of posterior tibial tendonitis, with a side of anterior tibial tendonitis thrown in for good measure (and possibly some ligament damage). Overuse and, likely, overpronation are the causes (hard downhill running probably put it over the top). As I learned during my first physical therapy stint back in June, my right foot does pronate more than my left.

So...even though finances are tight, I've convinced my wife that this is a pretty serious problem. If untreated, I've read, the arch can deteriorate and the tendons can rupture (if they haven't already). Insurance-wise, I'm not terribly far from meeting my deductible anyway.

Right now I'm deciding on who I want see. There's a local sports podiatrist that looks promising. There's also a sports chiro in Bellevue that might be an option (although it would involve a lot of driving), as well as a sports therapist at the UW (again, lots of driving & traffic hassles). There's a good chance I'll need orthotics. I would also wager that I may be in a walking boot for awhile, too.

The layoff from running has been tough, but the last week or so has been particularly difficult. The fact that there's no sign of improvement is getting depressing. I miss running terribly. I don't want to define myself solely as a runner, but it is (was) a big part of my life. Also the fact that I quit running a few years ago thinking I'd never run again makes this especially tough...kind of a "here we go again" deal.

I know I'll get through this and back to running eventually. I'm not giving up hope. Just having a tough time coping with it. Thanks for all your encouragement...and for watching my goofy videos. There WILL be more of those...

Monday, September 13, 2010



Still not running.

Okay, now that THAT'S out of the way, time for more fun...

Friday, September 10, 2010


Gil's back...unfortunately...and he's interviewing the Resurrected Runner. Sort of.

Thursday, September 9, 2010


It has now been 30 days since I last experienced the joy of running...although there wasn't much joy happening during that last 12 miler some 30 days ago. During the last mile, I felt all kinds of things pulling and possibly tearing all through the inside of my right foot. Since I've covered that in depth on this blog, I won't rehash it now.

What I will rehash is the cross-training I've been doing lately.

[*crickets*] I haven't done as much as I had planned. Early last week, I aggravated my foot while walking across a sloped field (while getting photos and info for my article), which caused a lot of pain the remainder of last week – especially around and in front of my ankle. I decided to err on the side of caution and refrain from any cardio work that would involve flexing my feet.

I did manage to continue my once-a-week circuit workout, and managed to set a new PR of 266 total reps (surpassing last week's PR of 251), so my strength is returning even if my aerobic fitness is suffering. However, I squeezed in a one hour stint on my bike last evening on the indoor trainer. Not a big fan of the trainer, but with the recent weather (and as much of a bike wimp as I am), it was a good compromise.

I've committed to volunteering at the Baker Lake 50k (which I was planning on running) on 10/2. Hopefully it won't involve too much walking. I imagine it'll be difficult to watch everyone (including several friends) running it. But it'll also be fun to help out and cheer them on.

So at the halfway point of my self-imposed running exile, I'd have to guess that I may have an even longer layoff than anticipated, based on how the foot currently feels. I hate to think this way, but honestly I'll be thrilled if I run again this year. If I do, it'll be short and slow.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Battle Diagram

The Battle of Little Rightfoot has gotten out of...well...hand (I slay me).

Enemy troops have repositioned and reinforced and, as recently as 17:00 yesterday, they advanced to a new front and have launched a heavy assault on allied forces.

A full explanation in diagram form follows (click for larger view):

Tuesday, August 31, 2010


It has now been three weeks since my last run (which sounds eerily like a Catholic confessional session. Six Hail Marys and the Rosary, coming up). I've had trouble getting into full-blown cross-training mode. Taking a page out of Dumprunner Matt's book, I planned on taking it easy the first two weeks anyway. I managed to get in one lap swim (800 yds), three bike rides (45.5 miles total) and few stretching sessions. I also got back into a strength training routine, which brings me to…

This morning when I walked into our kitchen, wearing a short and relatively tight short-sleeve shirt, my youngest daughter looked at my arms and said, "wow, Dad, you look buff!" (if only every day started the same way). I'm not sure about being "buff", but I have noticed a bit more muscle showing up, thanks to a little circuit training routine I've been doing. I have a set of eight exercises - some utilizing weights, some using just my body weight - that I run through non-stop for 20 minutes. I start by warming up on my Schwinn Airdyne for 2 miles (usually 7-8 minutes), then I run through the exercises, one after another, until my 20 minutes is up. By the end, my muscles are spent and I'm gasping for air. My intent is to make it as much a cardio workout as a strength workout. I use the same weight every week so I can compare my results, in terms of how many total reps I can complete. While I also do some miscellaneous strength work a few times a week, I only do this workout once a week. I alternate pulling exercises with pushing exercises. Today was my fourth week. In my first week, I managed 192 total reps, 200 reps in week 2, 236 reps in week 3, and 251 reps today. I'm thrilled with the progress, and with regaining some of the strength I sacrificed while running a lot of miles earlier this year. I've never been good at maintaining a strength training routine while running. And finally...

At the risk of tooting my own horn (it was the dog, not me), I wanted to mention that I'm excited about a new opportunity I've been given. I'll be the new High School Cross-Country correspondent for Northwest Runner Magazine, at least for part of the state. I just finished writing my first article (XC season preview) and will be taking some photos this afternoon to accompany the article. It will appear in the October issue of the magazine. I enjoy writing and, although I'll have to behave myself and stick with a pretty dry and straightforward writing style, it might lead to other opportunities. Even if it doesn't, it'll be a fun experience. I enjoyed the heck out of track and XC when I ran in high school, so it'll be cool to be a part of that atmosphere again, even as an outsider. Wish me luck!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Breaking Through Barriers

As is the case whenever I'm unable to run, I find myself doing more analyzing and thinking (and recording odd videos) about my relationship with running. Something that running has shown me is a clearer definition of my limits, both physical and mental. Not because I've broken through my barriers, but because I have a clearer idea of what they are. I haven't been a new runner in a very long time, but I remember the overwhelming urge to stop running when the slightest discomfort hit me back when I was first starting. After a certain amount of training, the effort becomes easier, but there is still discomfort (unless you're running at a very easy pace). The key to the improvement, I believe, is learning how to deal with and manage the discomfort. My oldest daughter is just starting to run, and I know she is able to go farther and faster than she believes she can (although I know better than to push her at this point), and that's because I have some understanding of what level of discomfort is acceptable. Now, compared to a world-class runner, I have no clue. Give me the same physical gifts that Steve Prefontaine had, put us on the starting line of a 5000 meter race, and he would still eat my lunch, get me to pay the bill and leave the tip.

But I have seen glimpses of "barrier breakthroughs" in my running. I'm sure you've had those runs and/or races when you're cruising along at a high, but sustainable, effort level. You glance at your watch and realize your pace is faster than you expected, then you push a little harder, into unknown territory. It hurts, but you tell yourself to relax and accept the pain. Like I eluded to, this doesn't happen very often for me, but when it does, it makes me wonder how much more I have in me.

There have been several instances during races when I've come to a decision point. I'm redlining and unsure if I can maintain my current pace much longer. Do I continue to try pushing and risk blowing up? Or do I back off so things feel a little more comfortable? I usually choose the latter. I wish that wasn't the case, but I know my mental strength is still lacking. Sure, maybe I would blow up at that greater effort level, but maybe I hit a breakthrough point and advance my running to a higher level, with new found confidence.

Not to get too philosophical, but there are life lessons I've taken from this, too. We all go through trials - work, family, relationship and health related - that test our limits. I think running has helped me to realize that a lot of the barriers we face are not only self-imposed, but they're movable. They can be pushed through, if one is willing to endure just a little more pain and discomfort than they believed they could. We can reach new levels that seemed unatainable before.

Now, if I can only put this into practice myself!

(not sure why I'm so "deep" today…)

Friday, August 20, 2010

Belated Thanks

Eight days ago I posted a confirmation that, due to my injured foot, I intend to finally give in and take at least eight weeks off from running (so far, not bad...but I do miss it). Several of you posted some very encouraging and inspirational comments. I wanted to take this opportunity to thank all of you: Matt, Greg, Chris, Mark, Ari, Andrew, Evolving (if that is your REAL name...), Bruce, Johann, Adam and Julie. I apologize for taking so long to acknowledge you all. Your words mean a lot to me. As many of you said, I know the downtime will fly by and I'll be back out there, stronger & healthier, ready to build back up (sloooowwwly) and RACE once again!

Until then...I have a few goodies (in addition to the Ragnar video) that I'll be posting soon. Stay tuned!

Thanks again!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Ragnar NW Passage 2010 Team Video

Here is the video presentation I just completed to document my team's experience at Ragnar - NW Passage (July 23 & 24). Editing and original backing soundtrack by yours truly. A big thank-you to my teammates for providing great photos & videos.

[Video embedded below, but it can also be seen, in better quality, here]

Thursday, August 12, 2010


This is going to be difficult to type (no, not because of carpal tunnel syndrome). I've been fighting both a heel injury AND how to deal with it for quite awhile now. Since it first appeared on May 31st, I've gone through periods when the heel pain has been pretty intense, and periods when it seemed like the injury was a thing of the past. After no running for the first 3 weeks of June, along with four weeks of physical therapy, I felt like I was ready to ease back into running, which I did. I was part of a Ragnar team, and felt obligated to not only run it, but to try to be somewhat prepared for it. I had days where I felt a bit of heel pain, but nothing I considered a "shut it down" kind of pain. I ran a 5k. The heel felt fine. I ran Ragnar. The heel felt fine...until my third and final leg, which was quite hilly. That's when the heel spoke to me (and it wasn't using its Sunday School words). Shortly after that, I ran 2 hours on very hilly trails (in preparation for my first 50k on Oct. 2nd). That caused INTENSE pain in my heel. I keep saying "heel", but the pain has since grown. I now feel it in my ankle (still mostly on the inside, right above the ankle bone), as well as under my foot, at the back of my arch. It's more of a "rear right foot" issue now.

After the hilly trail run, I backed off for a few days, then ran a flat half marathon. Yes, some pain, but not horrible. I thought, "maybe I can keep training if I'm running on relatively flat ground". Two days after the half, I ran a very slow (and flat) 12 miles. Not much pain. The next day (two days ago), I repeated this very same run. The pain during the last mile was pretty severe. As usual, you can question my line of thinking, but I wanted to do back-to-back long runs to see if my foot might be able to handle the training necessary for my 50k (since it's only 7 weeks away), as well as the 50k itself. The answer, unfortunately, is a resounding "NO". Even staying off the hills, it's just not going to happen.

I'll say it here and now - Chris (fellow running blogger, and fellow heel injury sufferer), you were right. I wasn't ready. I had to find out for myself, though.

Due to my current financial situation, I'm unable to get an MRI. I don't know if there's a fracture involved or not, but I'm going to treat it as if it might be.

Which brings me to my plan of action. No running...PERIOD...for at least two months. Yes, that means I'll be volunteering at Baker Lake rather than running it. In place of running, I'll be cycling - mostly outdoors, hopefully - and swimming. I have a prepaid swim pass I bought about three years ago and have yet to use. I'm not sure if they allow aqua jogging. If not, I'll swim laps. I'll also work on strength exercises. I'll basically train like a triathlete, minus the run leg.

I considered NOT posting this, so I could back out of my decision a couple of weeks down the road to test my heel again. I chose to go through with this, though, for accountability purposes. I want to be running 20, 30 or more years from now. Being the "running wounded" isn't the way to accomplish that.

Thanks for your kind comments & words of advice during this process. I'll continue posting here. This will give me an opportunity to be a more well-rounded person (hopefully not around the midsection).

Monday, August 9, 2010


Today, I FINALLY hit 1000 miles running this year. I say finally for two reasons:
  1. Because of my heel injury, I arrived at this mark about a month later than expected.
  2. The closest I ever came to this mark was in 1984, when I logged 983 running miles.
Even though it's just a number, I've been itching to surpass it for 26 years. Injuries notwithstanding, I should finish the year somewhere between 1600 and 1800 miles. For someone who thought he'd never run again before last year, I'm thrilled to have that opportunity.

To reach this mark today, I ran 12 miles at a very slow pace (9:37/mi), keeping my heart rate under 135 bpm. I'm now in full-blown ultra mode (without the hills...see previous posts re: how the hills KILL my heel), and am trying to re-build my aerobic base and teach my body to burn more fat than glycogen. That will involve lots of long, slow running. That's not always an easy task, and after today's run, I was pretty tired and sore (partially from the race I ran on Saturday). I'm taking my training one day at a time right now, due to how my heel feels. Ironically, yesterday and today, the heel felt better than it has in a long time - even after a half marathon!

So I suppose I should celebrate the 1000 mark in some small way tonight. I'm thinking a cold Widmer Hefeweisen. Mmmm....

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Well, What the Heck Did You Go And Do That For?!

What's the definition of insanity? Yeah, that's what I thought. What's the definition of insanity? Yeah, that's what I thought.

I ran a low-key, donation-only half marathon this morning (First Call, put on by Adrian Call, who does a very nice job). There was also a full marathon and a 50k, along with three different start times. The race started at Bothell Landing and was an out-and-back course, mostly flat. After destroying my heel on a 2-hour hilly trail run on Monday, I decided to be smart and skip this event, opting to volunteer instead tough it out, heel be damned, and run the stupid race. Ah, I can hear a couple of you booking flights to Seattle right now so you can show up at my doorstep and knock some sense into me when I answer (which is why I don't answer the door, most of the time).

I went out at a 7:44 first mile, backed off the pace a bit, then picked it up a little on the return trip, for a finish of 1:41:44...which is only :22 off my (rather soft) half PR...on low training and a bum wheel. It was the longest run I've done since my marathon on May 15th, and even though the last couple of miles were tough, I managed to run negative splits, which is rare for me. The only downside to this race (aside from my injury) was that I ended up running all but the first 2 miles alone, so it felt very much like a training run...which is how I was going to treat it, anyway.

So why did I do this when my heel has been so agitated this week? 'bout them Cubbies!

Honestly, I wrestled with the decision. I knew the course was flat (the hills have really been killing my heel), and I figured I'd start with the idea of DNF'ing if the pain was too much. Well, there was pain, but I guess I didn't consider it "too much". Plus, I'm not always the brightest bulb in the pantry (we keep our spare bulbs in our pantry. So there.) Now, maybe due to overcompensation, my lower right calf has been hurting & getting tight during my runs, and I've felt hints of Plantar Fasciitis underneath the heel. My whole right foot is going on strike.  I figure that if I'm going down, I might as well go down with a big THUD, instead of during a routine neighborhood run. The deck chairs on the Titanic look better rearranged, anyway.

I've got an ice pack on the heel as I'm sitting here. I'll alternate ice with a tub of warm water for the next hour or so. Here's where I feel like Fonzy, from Happy Days: I plan on bbbbb....bbbbbb......bbacking off for awhile. How long? Oh, what time is it now? Kidding. I don't know yet whether I'll do an official "shut down" for the long term, or just play it by ear. I still hold out hopes of running the Baker Lake 50k on October 2nd. The reality is that I probably won't be able to put in 1) enough long runs, and 2) enough trail time to feel comfortable running it. But there's still a glimmer of hope. We'll see. Other than that, I have no other races on the schedule, and that's kind of a relief right now. I'm hoping to reconcile with my heel and tear up these divorce papers.

Man, this ice is cold.