Thursday, December 5, 2013

An Injury With A Heartbeat, Wrapped In Flesh

Yep, that pretty much describes me at this moment.

Aside from this chronic hamstring problem, I've now injured my lower back (pretty seriously) for the third time in as many months. That happened five days ago (alas, while lifting weights...even though it was from a movement that had little to do with my back), and I'm still in serious pain. I took a cringeworthy 3-mile walk this afternoon, thinking it might loosen my back a little. Nope. Perhaps the 14 degree temps had something to do with that, but even after a hot bath, it still hurts.

Oh, and the hamstring hurt during the walk as well.

Yes, I'm a whining mess of a human right now.

My "one mile run per day" experiment lasted 16 days. Not only did my hamstring pain not diminish, it started getting worse.

So, skipping any further whining, I'm shutting things down once again.

I even hinted to my wife today that I may retire from running. She laughed and said, "you'll never retire from running!" She may be right. At the very least, I need to reach 10,000 career miles. I'm still 208 shy of that goal.

I'll get there...

Sunday, November 24, 2013

A Daily Mile

As I posted on the website Daily Mile, I'm now literally a "daily miler."

I've decided that, instead of not running at all, I would try to coax my hamstring to get stronger and recover by running a single slow mile on a daily basis. Smart? Probably not. But a similar approach seemed to put my old heel injury behind me over a year ago. This might be a different situation, though, since muscle tissue is involved, whereas that was more of a bone/tendon issue.

My hamstring has become slightly more sore as the week has progressed (I'm on day 7 of my daily mile regimen.) It's not to the point where running hurts it. It actually hurts more when I'm not running...although I know it would tweak out pretty seriously if I tried to run fast.

I'm a very stubborn runner, so hopefully I'll know when to say when. But my real hope is that, after an initial period of slight hamstring pain, the muscles will start to strengthen and the pain will subside. That might be more of a dream than a reality...but five months of ZERO running earlier this year did little to fix my hammy, so I might as well give this a shot.

More as things develop...

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Biding My Time

First, I need to give a shout-out to my daughter's cross-country team (Central Valley High School in Spokane, WA), who finished 4th our state meet yesterday. The boys finished 3rd. Every girl on varsity will return next year, so they should place in state once again. Natalie and I made the 2+ hour drive each way to cheer on her team. It was a hoot!

Anyway...I'm shut down my running program yet again. I tried coaxing my ailing hamstring along for several weeks, but it just isn't having any of that running business. I ran 8 miles a couple of weeks ago, but even a slow, easy 3-miler ended up making my hamstring sore for a couple of days after.

So, here I am trying to figure out when to give it a shot again, and how to approach it. Until then, it's strength training and Airdyne rides for me.

My tentative plan is to hold off on all running the rest of this month, then start with 1 mile jogs every other day for a few weeks. No more climbing my way back to 20+ mile weeks sooner than I should.

My body is giving me every indication that I should permanently consider a different form of exercise, but I'm still stubbornly holding onto the belief that I can run and race again regularly. I may be dreaming, who knows. Perhaps I should give in to the idea of splitting my endurance training evenly between cycling and running, doing each no more than 3x per week. At this point, I honestly don't know the answer. I'll have to play it by ear.

Which is pretty much what I've been doing since my first major injury, post-marathon, over 3 years ago.

It's frustrating, but at least it continually gives me something to work toward. If I ever do figure out how to fully recover and avoid future injuries, I'm going to bottle and sell it.

Okay, time to walk the dog. I can still do that, at least!

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Interesting Documentary

I'll admit to being a full-fledged running geek. I would have loved to do a study like the one the Danes did in this documentary. I've heard many theories over the years about why the Kenyans are superior distance runners, but I had never heard about this particular theory.

I won't spoil it, in case you're interested in watching this (and if you do, you're a fellow running geek, for sure!), but I will say that I was surprised by their conclusion. This was filmed in 2001.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

232 Miles

That number is what I need to run to reach 10,000 miles in my running career. I've actually been pretty close to 10k for quite some time. These pesky injuries have made the last 1,000 miles a very long and slow journey. I will reach it, though. It may not be by the end of 2013, as I was hoping, but the milestone will be reached, rest assured.

In the meantime, I'm in "Do What I Can Do" mode. I put in 37.5 miles in two bike rides this week, while the nice weather hangs on. It looks like it'll cool down at least 20°F next week, so I'll either be riding while being bundled up, or I'll dig out my trainer and try to stave off boredom. I'm also trying to get back into the weights more, minus deadlifts, which severely injured my back a few weeks ago. Or, I should say, they pushed my already temperamental back over the edge.

I may opt for some very short runs here and there, just to keep those muscles familiar with running, but if the hamstring objects, I'll stop.

Which leads me to a tangent. Like a good sports geek, I play fantasy football (for fun & bragging rights, not for money). I have two fantasy teams. I was noticing lately just how many of my players are coming down with hamstring injuries, and have been reading the notes about just how long those injuries take to heal. Trust me, I'm no professional athlete, but I can relate. It feels like this injury could take a very long time to heal (it already has), and I'm 15-20 years older than these athletes...who have the very best medical care available.

I wish there was a way to instantly fix it, but that day hasn't yet come 8-)

Thursday, October 17, 2013


Well, I tried.

I had a couple weeks of decent mileage. Felt some minor pains, but not quite enough to convince me to pull back.

Until now.

Or, Monday, to be precise. Having run a couple of six milers and a seven miler in the last two weeks, I decided that—come hell or high water—I was running 8 miles on Monday. And so I did.

I felt clunky. I never got into that comfortable groove. In hindsight, I think the tightness in my hamstring was causing me to alter my stride slightly. At around mile 5, both my right hamstring and my right knee started aching. Oh, and my right big toe, too. I ran the 8 miles at a faster pace than I should have (although not terribly fast).

I iced the knee and hamstring, then applied heat to the hamstring.

I had an easy 4-miler (with the dog) planned for Tuesday, so off I went, curious about how my body would react. I made it through the run, but later that day, I knew I was done for a while.

This has been a tough year for this old (feeling) body. I'm also nursing some other non running-related injuries, so my body is currently a mess.

Aside from a short & slow pre-donut run I promised my youngest daughter this coming Saturday, I'm taking a few days off from all exercise. Then, I'm going to basically start over. Everything will be short, light and easy for a while. I'm going to vary my workouts quite a bit. I may do a short run one day, bodyweight exercises another, ride my Schwinn Airdyne on another, lift light weights on another, skip rope, ride the bike trainer, etc. Basically, it'll be a general fitness program until I can get past these aggravating injuries.

Oh, I'm not done as a runner. My body just wasn't ready for what I was asking quite yet.

Until it is, I'll see if I can slowly get this body back to where it should be...i.e. not hurting!

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Vitamin I

I'm not a big fan of downing ibuprofen on a regular basis (least of all before a run...which I avoid), but the end of this week provided enough pain for me to resort to a few rounds of vitamin I.

Here were this week's totals:

M - 7.0 mile run
T - 4.0 mile run
W - off
T - 6.0 mile run
F - 4.0 mile run + weights (ouch)
S - off (ouch)
S - 17:00 spin on the Airdyne

Miles Run: 21.0

The positive news of the week was starting off with a 7-mile run, which is my longest run since early March.

On the flip side, Friday wasn't a fun day for me. My hamstring had been feeling more or less okay during the week. Friday's run was no different. After the run, however, it was bothering me quite a bit. After that run, since I had been neglecting it, I decided to do a short workout with the weights. I did some pullups, bench presses, then moved on to the deadlift. I haven't been deadlifting a lot of weight for a while due to a cranky lower back, so I figured I could handle this with no problems. Oh, how wrong I was. During the third rep, I felt and heard an audible pop in my lower back. I immediately dropped the weight. I did finish my workout (dumb), and my lower back proceeded to hurt and lock up quite a bit.

Upon waking up the last two mornings, I can barely bend. Putting on my socks is agonizing (and nearly impossible.) Thankfully, my back gradually loosens up a bit as the day wears on, but it's going to take a week or two to mend.

As for the hamstring, I'm not sure what to do. I rode my neglected Schwinn Airdyne today, since I'm able to sit upright on it (as opposed to my racing bike, which would kill my back), so I at least got in a short cardio workout. I'll play it by ear as to whether or not I'll run soon. In the meantime, I'm doing the usual: ice, heat, stretching, for both my back and hamstring.

Getting old is getting old.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Good Week

I just wrapped up my first 20+ mile week since the beginning of March. While I'm still injured, I think I can manage the issues and still run, as long as I keep it slow(ish) and flat.

Here are the numbers:

M - 6 mi
T - 4 mi
W - off
Th - 6 mi
F - 3 mi
S - 3 mi
S - off

Total: 22 miles

Mmm...pumpkin spice post-run recovery!

I had a fun morning with my daughter. My wife and youngest daughter are out of town. Natalie has been injured and unable to race with her cross country team, so this morning I took her down to the Centennial Trail (paved) where we did an easy out and back. After the run, I treated her to a donut & hot chocolate at Krispy Kreme. It was a fun morning. She's a freshman in high school, and I know she'll be gone before long, so I want to get in as many of these "daddy dates" as I can over the next few years.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, October 3, 2013


My Stick arrived two days ago, and I've been putting it to the test on my right hamstring.

First of all, it's quite an upper body workout! To hit the hamstring effectively (when it's not tense), I lay on my back and bend my right knee straight up (foot on the floor). Then I roll up and down on the hamstring. The Stick is meant to really dig in, so that's what I do.

I can tell you with confidence that my right hamstring is a complete mess! When I roll over it, it feels like a bumpy road, especially compared to my left hamstring. My guess is that I've got a lot of scar tissue built up, which may be why it's taking so long to heal, and why it often feels tight & like it's pulling during some runs.

I've decided to stop stretching it for the time being (which usually felt uncomfortable, anyway). I'm also going to hold off on the ice and heat. I really want to see if I can break things up in there first, so I'll have a good idea whether or not the Stick is making a difference.

So, after a couple of days of really working it over, it's pretty sore. I'm going to run on it in a couple of hours. I'm sure it's too soon to feel a significant difference, but over the long term, I'm optimistic that I can undo most, if not all, of the damage.

Fingers crossed...

Monday, September 30, 2013

Tighten The Reigns, Cowboy

Two weeks ago, I ran three times for a total of 9 miles. My bum hamstring made its presence known, but with a little ice and heat...and running on a level surface, it was completely manageable.

So, last week I ran three times for a total of 10 miles, right? Following that old "10 percent rule?"

Er, um, did you catch the Seahawks game yesterday? It was great, huh?

Okay, I got carried away like I have MANY times in the past. I ran 5 times for a total of 19 miles. Not a lot of miles by most standards, but coming back from a long term injury, that was a bit of a jump—especially since it included a hard mile during one run, and a hard half mile during another.

Consequently, my hamstring was barking a little over the weekend. I fed it plenty of ice and heat and it seems to have calmed down a little.

This week will probably fall somewhere between the 3 runs/9 miles from two weeks ago and the 5 runs/19 miles from last week.

Oh, I recently ordered The Stick from a few days ago. It should arrive on Tuesday. I'm hoping this will allow me to massage the tar out of that hammy, since I can't really dig into it with the foam roller.

Right Hamstring, Prepare For Sweet Pain

Have a great week of training, my friends!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

So Far, So (Mostly) Good

I ran three days last week and have run both yesterday and today (Monday and Tuesday) and I'm knocking on any wood I can find. The runs have been between 3 and 4 miles, at a slow pace, and on level ground. That's all by design. I still have a very touchy right hamstring and, now, an angry upper left calf. But, during the runs, they both feel pretty good.

So...where to from here? More of the same. Three to four runs per week, gradually increasing the distance, but keeping things slow and easy. And flat.

If I can sneak up on my body and get up to a consistent 12-15 miles per week for a few weeks, I'll re-evaluate and maybe change things up a bit. Any potential changes will revolve around the goal of building a huge base of easy mileage.

But for now, I'm very hesitant to change what seems to be agreeable to my very temperamental body.

Oh, and the weight is slowly starting to come off.

More as things develop...

Monday, September 16, 2013

Oops. My Bad.

I'm going to confess to a mistake I've made this year. It's one I've made before.

I got fat.
On purpose.

If you've tolerated, er, followed this blog for a while, you'll know that I have a tendency to go 180° away from running when I suffer a long-term injury. I guess it's a coping mechanism. I love running so much that I need to get away from that world when I'm unable to actively participate.

My "athletic" history includes both endurance activities (primarily running) and strength training; sometimes simultaneously, often not. When I shut down my running earlier this year (March 11th), I once again thought, "screw it. I'm going to 'bulk up' and get strong again." Well, I did. And now that I'm trying to get my endurance mojo back (cycling plus a little running), that decision has once again come back to bite me in the glutes.

Like most men (and many active people in general), I don't venture into things half way. I'm usually all-in. So, once I decided I was done with endurance activities, I hit the weights & food HARD. I put on 15 lbs. in no time flat. I pounded protein shakes mixed with whole milk, often a few per day. Sure, some of the weight gain was muscle, but some was also fat.

By most standards, I would STILL be considered a small-ish guy. At nearly 5' 11", I don't have a big frame. But as a distance runner, I'm a good 12-15 lbs. above my comfortable running weight. And my once prized abs are currently in hibernation (that will change.)

So I'm on a mission to reverse the damage. I haven't stopped the weight training, but I have refocused it to assist running and cycling rather than to merely see how much weight I can move and how big I can get my guns.

I've always been able to fairly easily manipulate my body weight & composition. I'm blessed with a high metabolism. However, at my current age (46), I'm noticing it's not quite as easy as it used to be. The next time I'm off the endurance bandwagon and get the bug to "get swole," remind me to go easy on the bulking up. Or, remind me to get on the bike or trainer & keep the cardio going instead.

And, misguided or not, I'm still hopeful about returning to running regularly—at least to the level I was at before my hamstring injury took me out. It'll be a long, slow process. It usually is. But there's always a little excitement and anticipation when I "start over." I just wish I didn't have to do it quite as often!

But I'm game. Let's do this.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Very Interesting...

Normally, I wouldn't refer to a slow, 2-mile run as "interesting." However, this one was.

I had a strong urge this morning to take the dog for a short, easy run around a local park. I was planning on just a mile, but I felt good and continued.

Nearly a week ago, I did an even shorter run with my youngest daughter and had a lot of soreness on the tendon behind my right knee for several days after the run. And that run was my first in over a month (back in early August, when I pulled a calf muscle running with my OTHER daughter. Hmm...I need to stop running with my kids.)

My lower back has been in pretty serious pain for over a week, too, so I wasn't sure what to expect from today's run. But everything felt good. I did notice my right hamstring—injured early this year—but it didn't hurt, probably since I was running slowly.

Now, if I can sneak in a few of these per week, maybe I can restart (resurrect) my running yet again. If so, it'll be a long, slow process, which will still include cycling and strength training. And beer.

Although, come to think of it, I haven't had one of those in a few weeks. I need to resurrect that, too...

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Man Down

It looks like this week will be a wash when it comes to exercise.

Last Friday, I helped my dad with some tasks around his house, which included unloading several hundred pounds of tile from his car. That involved me bending and reaching awkwardly into the (huge) trunk, and back seat, of his car to pull very heavy boxes up and out and an odd angle. I have a history of low back trouble, and doing this over and over again was a huge risk. I felt okay the rest of Friday. I went on a 28-mile bike ride on Saturday and, again, felt okay. But I think being bent over on the bike for an hour and 45 minutes on top of all the lifting threw my lower back into a tizzy (a medical term), as I woke up Sunday morning hardly able to move. I've been hitting the ibuprofen and heating pad pretty hard since then, along with my routine of lower back stretches.

So, after an enjoyable week of cycling, I may not be able to ride at all this week. And the weights are obviously off the table, too.

It's no fun feeling like an old codger...

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Solid Week on the Wheels

I just wrapped up my training week this morning. 84 miles on the bike. Not much to most cyclists, but that's my biggest riding week since 2009. After this morning's 28-mile easy ride, my legs actually feel pretty solid. I think some of my endurance fitness is coming back. With maybe 2-3 months of riding left this year (outdoors, anyway, unless I want to be hard-core,) I hope to work up to over 100 miles per week. I've started informally training to ride the Trail of the Coeur d'Alenes. It's a roughly 72 mile paved trail that starts in Plummer, Idaho and ends just a few miles West of the Montana border, in Mullan, ID. My family and I walked a short portion of the trail during a recent camping trip, and it's beautiful. A friend of mine here in the Spokane area wants to ride it with me, so I now have a goal to train for. We're not going to push the pace, but we both need to get ready for several hours in the saddle. We'll most likely ride out to Mullan, stay overnight there, and ride back the following day, rather than ride 140+ miles round-trip in one day. I'm pretty sure I'm not up for that!

Here's what this week's training looked like:

MON: Bike 12.1 mi @ 16.8 mph avg (43:04); weights (full body)
TUE: off
WED: Bike 30.0 mi @ 17.1 mph avg (1:44:59)
THU: Bike 14.0 mi @ 17.4 mph avg (48:10); weights (full body)
FRI: off
SAT: Bike 27.9 mi @ 16.0 mph avg (1:44:40)
SUN: off


Monday, August 26, 2013

Out Of The Mouths Of Babes

"Dad, I don't want you to be a cyclist. I like you better as a runner."
-Lindsey, 11

These words were spoken to me by my youngest daughter today, who is never one to pull punches. She has also complained about my slightly larger-than-usual belly the last several weeks. Hey, I'm working on it! Reducing it, that is, despite obvious dietary choices...

Well, to indirectly respond to my blatantly honest daughter, I like me better as a runner, too. The thing is, I just can't run right now. I've tried. Over and over and over. Whatever is going on in my right leg shows no signs of improving anytime soon. And more physical therapy and/or any other "treatment" isn't financially feasible at this time, unfortunately.

So...I'm currently a cyclist. I intended to become a cyclist earlier this year. However, we were in the midst of packing and moving across the state, so I had neither the time nor energy to devote to time in the saddle. Thus, I pulled the plug on my plans to do the Seattle to Portland (STP) ride back in mid-July.

Now that we're getting settled into our new home, I've gone for a few rides and, actually, I'm starting to enjoy it. While I was hitting the weights pretty heavy earlier this year, my endurance and cardio fitness were suffering. I'm slowly starting to get some of that back, and that feels good. I don't worry about riding too frequently (if/when time allows), since there is no impact on my joints. Well, until I space out and smack into a car, tree or another cyclist.

Building a base is my goal now. Not a lot of hill work. Not too much speed. Just gradually building the mileage, both per week and per ride. I have yet to do a ride over 20 miles, but I know I'll take care of that soon.

There's a big cycling club here in Spokane. I'll probably ride mostly on my own the rest of this summer and into fall (and on my trainer during the winter) before joining the club...which I'll probably do. I'm looking forward to doing some organized rides and...finally...getting my first century under my belt.

As for running...I'm not officially "retiring" just yet, but it's going to have to sit on the backburner for a while longer. I know the itch will hit me again eventually, but the fact that my injury seemed as fresh as a daisy when I first ran earlier this month after taking 5 months completely off tells me there's something seriously wrong, and perhaps more than just a few months off is necessary, sadly.

But, like I said earlier, I'm starting to dig the bike. And that's a big step (pedal?) forward for me.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

All Comers Track Meets—Article For NW Runner Magazine

This was an article I wrote for Northwest Runner Magazine that ran in the May 2013 issue. I'm finally getting around to posting it here.

(click to enlarge)

Friday, August 9, 2013

Wheels Are Spinning...Finally

Three bike rides in the last three days? Why, yes! Well, the first one was a very slow ride with my sister that was cut short when her rear tire flatted and my patch job didn't hold. But yesterday and today were both legit rides (16 miles and 11 miles, respectively.) Still not very long, but I plan on easing my legs back into this whole endurance thing. It usually takes me a while to get "bike legs" anyway. My "running legs" usually come back a little faster, maybe because I've been primarily a runner for the last 30 years!

I've been riding on the Centennial Trail here in Spokane, along the Spokane River. The weather has been great, if not a tad warm. Tonight, I rode at sunset and paid for it by being sandblasted (bugblasted) by small, winged insects the entire ride. Within the first mile, I learned to ride with my mouth closed, even though my nose was a little plugged due to allergies.

Even though I may never be a hard-core cyclist, I'm enjoying some endurance training once again. I hope running will still be a significant part of my program, but while the weather is nice here, it won't hurt to get in several bike rides, especially since it doesn't seem to irritate my right calf and hamstring.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Still No Riding...But A Little Running

I mentioned a couple of posts ago that I was going to dust off my trusty two-wheeler and start pedaling to get my cardio fix.

Well, the best laid plans...

A surge of work came in nearly two weeks ago that has allowed little free time. Cycling takes more planning than most other forms of exercise, and to get a decent workout, I feel like I need to ride for at least an hour. So I haven't gone for a ride yet since we moved here over a month ago.

However, I've made time to lift weights three days per week. Last week, I had an overwhelming urge to do a short "cooldown" run after each workout. So, last Monday, Wednesday and Friday, I ran two loops around my neighborhood each time for a total of 6.3 miles for the week. There was a time not long ago that I would average that per day, but I'm happy to have "jogged" (that's what it felt like) even that paltry mileage. I did feel some aches and pains, but nothing too extreme.

I'll probably continue with this program for a bit just to see how my body will respond. I still have plans to get out and ride, too.

Even though I intentionally bulked up when I switched to weight lifting back in March, I do need to drop a few of those pounds. The extra 17 lbs. are definitely noticeable during these runs.

So, although it's not much to report, it IS running, even if just a little.

Saturday, July 27, 2013


I draw a weekly sports cartoon called Guts Without Glory, which (as of this writing) runs in about 10 newspapers around the country. No, I won't retire on the income ;-)

I do my best to sneak in a running-related cartoon from time to time. I usually forget to post them here, but thought I'd post this week's offering, since it's somewhat autobiographical (I just made the runner a woman instead of a man in this case.)

Perhaps you can relate?

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Two Wheels

We're slowly getting settled into our new home here in Spokane. As has been the case in a lot of the Northwest this summer, it's been hot and sunny nearly ever day since we've moved here. As we've driven around the area (and walked on the Centennial Trail next to the Spokane River,) I've noticed just how many serious cyclists there are in the area. Yes, there's a very strong cycling community in Western WA, but given the population of the Spokane area, it seems as if it's an even larger group here, per-capita, anyway. There are two or three cycling clubs, and most of the riders I've seen appear to be pretty hard-core. I've also noticed that there's a large number of middle-aged (i.e. gray haired) men in amazing shape riding expensive bikes.

Given my ongoing, and repeated, running injury episodes, and the inspiration of the many riders in my demographic, I think it's (past) time to once again dust off my trusty Fuji and start pedaling.

We live close to the Centennial Trail, so I have no logistical excuses (I still don't like sharing the road with cars,) and I desperately need to get some cardio fitness back. I have been faithfully lifting weights for several months, so my strength is good, but I've done little more than take frequent walks w/my wife and dog for my "endurance" activity. Yes, my guns are bigger...but so is my gut.

I have no goals when it comes to speed, and I probably won't be seeking any club memberships anytime soon, but a few leisurely bike rides per week will definitely do me good.

Monday, July 15, 2013

3 And Out...Again

My daughter Natalie is going into her freshman year of high school. Shortly after we moved into our new home in Spokane Valley, WA, I tracked down the Central Valley HS girls cross-country coach via email and got the scoop on when and where the girls are meeting to train during the summer. Since then, I've been Natalie's chauffeur every weekday morning, as they run at 8:00am sharp. Witnessing these girls already getting serious about the upcoming season got me itching to get back out there myself. I haven't run since March due to a hamstring injury (with the exception of a 1.7 mile fun run at my youngest daughter's elementary school in early June.) So last Thursday, since Natalie had to miss the morning run with the girls, I decided to head out with her and Apollo.

I managed a slow (9:30/mile) three mile slog with Apollo—both of us out of shape—and felt the hamstring just a little. That would have been acceptable, except that the hamstring hurt much worse later in the day. In fact, it felt just like it did when it first sidelined me a few months ago.


I'll have to be content with being a cheerleader for Natalie for the time being.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Relocation. Defintely NOT Vacation

I didn't realize that it's been over a month since I posted here. Moving across the state has been a major event, and MUCH more work than I even anticipated. After being in our previous house for 16 years, we (okay, mostly I) managed to accumulate WAY too much junk. Not quite to the level of Hoarders, but even after three big trips to the dump, we had far too many possessions to transport across the state.

If I ever get this bad, shoot me quickly.

But we made it.

And I'm sitting here in my new office in our new complete and utter disarray. It'll take us a few weeks (months? never?) to get fully unpacked and settled in.

But we're enjoying our new location. Summer here in Spokane is definitely summer by the classic definition, as opposed to Western Washington, where it can be hit-and-miss. We'll also have a distinct winter here, complete with plenty of snow and below-freezing temperatures.

So what is my training status amidst all the chaos? Well, it's on life support. I set up my workout area in the garage last week (we have a 3-car garage now, so there's a nice space for all my gear) and have done a couple of weight workouts. My oldest daughter Natalie, who will be going into high school, has started running with the Central Valley HS girls' cross-country team. They're meeting 5 mornings per week. She's about to get into the shape of her life, whether she's ready for it or not!

Seeing the approaching XC season has me itching to run again, despite my 15 lb. weight gain (mostly muscle...I'm pretty sure, anyway.) I've enjoyed running with Natalie in the past and I'd like to again, but the reality is that my days of being faster than her are probably coming to a close, unless I can resume training the way I'm accustomed to (and how I'd like to), including speed work.

We live in a quiet neighborhood, so there are lots of good areas to run. Lots of hills, too. I'm thinking that I'll be going out for some short, slow jogs sooner than later.

Speaking of which, how are the long-term injuries? My hamstring still speaks up every once in a while if I do something that stresses it. My more recent injury — a muscle (or tendon) pull on the top of my right foot — is more troublesome. I pulled that while falling out of my office chair a few weeks ago (don't ask) and I've felt it ever since.

So I'm still the same old injury prone 40-something guy I've long been. I've just relocated my old, aching body 312 miles further east now, that's all.

Never. Moving. Again.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Backing Out of STP

Wow, time flies. It's been a while since I've posted here. Honestly, there's not much to talk about, other than our big move across the state. We sold our Everett house in 3 days, eventually found one in Spokane and will close on that one on June 25th (we're currently renting back from our buyers so the kids can finish the school year.) As of this writing, we will be Spokane residents in less than three weeks. Wow.

So, about training. Hey, the Seahawks are going to be tough this year, eh?

Okay, I've not run since March, and I've been on my bike twice since then. I have, however, been lifting weights pretty intensely. Oh, and eating. A lot. Consequently, I've gained a good bit of weight, too. Every last ounce rock solid go along with that oceanfront property in Arizona I'd like to sell you. Seriously, though, I am getting a lot stronger.

But—due to being way out of cardio shape myself, and getting a message from my sister that she's not ready to do the Seattle to Portland ride, either—I decided to pull the plug and got a partial refund. Neither my body nor my heart are into it right now. I'll do it another year, when I'm not packing up my entire life and moving 300 miles away.

I am, however, eager to very slowly and gradually start working in some short, easy runs. Every once in a while, I STILL get reminders that I REALLY messed up my hamstring. So any fast and/or extended running may still be on the very distant horizon. And, to be honest, I'm fine with that. I've grown so accustomed to getting injured from running that I'm learning to just roll with the punches and take whatever I can get. Once in Spokane, I'll probably do some easy bike rides with my sister, and possibly some easy runs with my oldest daughter. And continue lifting weights and eating. Eventually, I'll be the guy who looks like a pro wrestler, wearing Brooks gear.

Yeah, right...

After a workout last week. Lifting weights, and forks, consistently.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013


I'm unfortunately not talking about the kind of moving done while running. Haven't done any of that for about 7 weeks now.

I'm talking about selling our house and moving across the state, from Everett to Spokane, WA. Our house sold three days after being listed. The inspection took place yesterday and, barring anything crazy, the sale will close on May 20th. We'll move by the end of June (the kids get out of school on June 17th.) In the meantime, we'll be making trips to Spokane to hunt for a new house.

Somewhere in the mix, I need to get my behind on the bike. I'm already going to be unprepared for the Seattle to Portland bike ride (July 13th-14th), but if I don't get my body used to time in the saddle, it could be a long 200+ miles. I imagine it will be anyway.

For the most part, my ailing hamstring feels pretty good. One of my daughters hurt herself about a week ago, and I bolted up the stairs, which re-aggravated the hammy, so it seems that it wouldn't take much to set it off again. So, with the need to get on the bike and the impending relocation, it might be a while before I'm running again.

But I'll be back!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Stolen Innocence

Running, in my mind, epitomizes simplicity, purity and innocence. Who doesn't remember the childhood joy of running through the summertime sprinkler, playing tag, or chasing fireflies at dusk?

Running only requires a bit of God-given gravity and the ability to quickly put one foot in front of the other. No other sport is as pure and simple.

Runners will agree that the activity is freeing in a way that nothing else is. Cares can be left behind while our feet metronomically hit the ground and our lungs rapidly exchange carbon dioxide for oxygen. We often run on "auto-pilot," allowing our creative juices to flow freely. Our senses heighten, taking in the surrounding sights and smells as we cover ground.

Runners are, for the most part, a very friendly, diverse and accepting bunch. We cheer each other on during races (even from the sidelines), encourage one another as we reach for goals, and support one another as we battle through injuries. Political and religious differences are usually set aside as we revel in the commonality of our chosen sport.

Yesterday, however, what is arguably the running world's most visible and famous institution was attacked. The repercussions obviously go far beyond the running community, but we as runners take it personally. Much like the country came together after the 9/11 attacks, runners are showing their characteristic support and unity now more than ever. This community, thanks to online social media, is numerous. We communicate extensively and often. Today, many of us are wearing race shirts as a sign of support and remembrance for those who were affected by the bombings.

I'll go out on a limb to speak for the running community that I'm privileged to be a part of. I truly hope that the pathetic, waste of skin coward or cowards responsible for this act of terror are caught and brought to justice, and punished accordingly. I'll keep to myself the form I believe that punishment should take.

Let's all agree that, while we may mourn and share sadness, we won't be deterred from pursuing our passion.

We runners may get knocked down from time to time, but we always get back up...and run more. We as runners may have had a bit of our childlike innocence stolen from us yesterday, but our resolve and passion can't be stolen.

Thoughts and prayers to the victims and their families...

Friday, March 22, 2013

Up On Blocks

A bumper sticker I created for myself. Hey, it's true for me!

Well, despite my high hopes, substituting cycling for running didn't quite agree with my hamstring.

Which means I need to let it rest completely. Which also means no 5k race tomorrow and likely no 5 mile race on April 6th.

Aside from wasting money on entry fees, I'm really not too bummed about the situation. I've gone through this many times, so I'm confident that I'll be "resurrected" as a runner once again. The tricky thing about this particular injury is that it's hard to gauge. One day it'll feel fine, the next I'll feel a tweak while merely walking around the house. I'll err on the side of caution (which I didn't do when the injury first appeared) and let it rest for at least another couple of weeks.

What to do in the meantime...assuming I don't get the urge to swim (and if I do, I'll just consider it a beer or ice cream craving...or both)...

How about weight lifting!


I've bounced back and forth between running and lifting weights numerous times, so my body usually gets back into the "iron groove" relatively quickly when I start hitting the weights pretty seriously...which is what I've done this week.

I'll never be mistaken for the Hulk, but for a scrawny runner, I put on a decent amount of muscle:

After this morning's workout. I vil crush yoo!

So please forgive the narcissistic photos, but when I'm a droopy old man, I can look back and laugh, er, be proud of having a couple of muscle fibers to crow about.

I just wish the hamstring muscle fibers would cooperate!

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Hamming It Up

Well, it seems that I'm in the throes of a persistent, nagging, semi-debilitating hamstring injury. And I'm pretty sure my overly zealous track workout on February 13th was the genesis of said injury.

It didn't hit me all at once. In fact, it seemed to be more of a hip flexor/groin tweak at first. But gradually, and after a race and a few fast-paced training runs, my right hamstring (every injury I've had over the years seems to be on the right side) has progressively gotten worse.

Which is a shame. No sane runner would ever desire an injury, but what bugs me most about this one is the fact that I'm starting to feel fit and some of my speed is returning. I thought I might be poised to take a shot at my 5k PR in a couple of weeks, but after a 7.5 mile run with a guy in my club yesterday morning, and the necessity of walking backward up a small hill during a family walk yesterday afternoon, I'm not so sure. Even taking three consecutive days off before yesterday's run didn't seem to help much.

My immediate plan—aside from icing, ibuprofen, and self-massage—will be to run at an easy, steady pace on flat courses the next few days. No surges, no hills. If the pain remains the same or gets worse, I may be shutting it down for a while. I still haven't hopped on my bike to see if that aggravates it. If not, that'll be the alternative to running, I suppose. But already being signed up for two races makes me hesitant to nix my training runs.

Which is exactly what I should do if this hamstring isn't improving.

Which is why I thought "Resurrected Runner" was a good title for this blog. Some guys are "babe magnets." I'm obviously an "injury magnet."

Okay, and a "babe magnet." Well, at least to one "babe."*

*who didn't know what she was getting into, obviously.

Friday, March 1, 2013


As you probably know, I'm a numbers guy. I keep close tabs on mileage, times, body weight, waist measurements, resting heart rate, shoe mileage, Mariners losses...the list goes on.

Yesterday, I "celebrated" my 46th birthday by completing 4,646 pushups in the month of February. I'm currently involved in two online challenges to do 20,000 pushups in 2013. At 7,446, I'm far ahead of pace. I'll be slowing that pace since I was unable to devote much energy to other resistance exercises last month.

Another interesting number I nearly missed was passing the 3,000 mile mark for mileage run since my return to running in 2009. That includes nearly two years of down time due to an injury, so that number should be significantly higher. Still, I'm grateful for any mileage I'm able to run.

There are a couple more mileage milestones coming up that I'll share in the coming months.

The next number I want to address is my soft 5k PR, which I hope to take down in three weeks. I'm dealing with a hamstring issue (and a frustrating respiratory problem that won't go away), so we'll see how it goes.

Until then, Run Happy!

Sunday, February 24, 2013

You Don't Spit...or Run Fast...Into The Wind

Yesterday my friend Dan and I made the drive up to the quaint, artsy town of La Conner, WA...

Boy, that sentence didn't quite sound the way I intended it to. Let's try again, this time with more testosterone:

Yesterday, Dan and I kissed our wives goodbye and drove his massive SUV to the rustic seaside fishing village of La Conner, while drinking our strong, black coffees and discussing the ins and outs of home-brewing beer.

Trying too hard now, I know.

So...we ran a 10k there (the Smelt Run 5k/10k). We arrived with plenty of time to get our race bibs, use the facilities, and run a little over 2 warmup miles in the sprinkles and wind. By race time, the rain had stopped, but the wind had increased.

The course was nice and flat. The first three miles flew by. I held back and was running at a very comfortable and sustainable pace, but just past the 5k mark, the wind became an issue. It was a very persistent side wind which, after the turnaround, suddenly became a frustrating headwind. I intentionally backed off the pace during mile four, but by mile five, it wasn't so intentional any more. The course turned a couple of times, still either into the wind, or with the wind coming from the side. There were a couple of stretches where I had to lean while running so as not to get blown over.

Not great conditions for a fast race.

The final mile was brutal. Most of it was directly into what I would estimate to be a 20-25 mph constant wind. By the time I reached the last turn that lead to the finish, I was beat. I had very little kick left.

By the numbers:
Final time - 44:39
Splits: 7:04, 7:08, 7:07, 7:12, 7:17, 7:16, 1:32 (for final .2)
5k splits: 22:10/22:29
Average pace: 7:11

I was hoping to break 44 minutes. Minus the wind, I think I would have had a pretty good chance of doing so.

I haven't seen the official results yet, but I'm pretty sure I finished 32nd overall and 8th or 9th in my very tough age group (40-49).

My aforementioned friend Dan ran an amazing PR of 39:29 (his first sub-40 10k) to win our age group.

Next up will be a 5k PR attempt in Arlington, on March 23rd. Guess I better keep doing some speed work.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Ye Olde Myle Tyme Tryle

After running a non-satisfying 10k race on January 12th (Nookachamps, in Mount Vernon, WA), I decided to write myself a 6-week mini training cycle, in preparation for my next scheduled race; the Smelt 10k, in La Conner, WA on February 23rd. The first three weeks was my base period, building up to just over 34 miles (last week), then backing off on the mileage in favor of some added speed work the final three weeks.

This week is the first speed week, meaning—in this case—track time.

I hadn't run on a track since August 4th, when I ran a slow 3 miles with my sister, before throwing in a 2:58 800m for good measure. About a week before that, I ran a mile time trial on a different track in 6:26. Since then, though, it's been mostly roads (and, recently, my favorite hilly dirt & gravel trail once again.)

I woke up yesterday to a very blustery morning. No rain, but the wind was gusty, and I wasn't sure I wanted to try to run a fast time in those conditions. Fortunately, the wind died down considerably, so I ventured to the track.

After running two clockwise warmup miles on the track, I changed shoes (from my Brooks Defyance 3's into my Brooks Pure Cadence), shed my warmup jacket and long-sleeve tech shirt and stood ready to test the watch in just my shoes, shorts, visor, tank top and gloves. A bit chilly, but streamlined and unencumbered.

I've been running well lately, but haven't done any real speedwork, so my expectations were rather vague. My dream goal was to break 6 minutes, but I knew I wasn't ready for that. I thought that maybe I could go 6:0-something, but even that was wishful thinking. Realistically, I thought I'd have a shot at 6:15.

There was a bit of a tailwind on the back stretch, meaning I'd have to finish each lap running into a headwind. I intended to run my 400m splits as evenly as possible. I crossed the line for the first time in 1:32, which felt hard but relatively sustainable. Lap two came in at 1:35, for a 3:07 half. Doing the math in my head, I knew I'd have to finish strong to even break 6:15. Lap three also came in at 1:35, but I knew I had a little left in the tank. Not much, but I figured I could kick the final 100m to maybe run even 800m splits.

Not having run fast recently, a full-out sprint to the finish felt awkward, but I managed to close out the final lap in 1:28, for a 3:04 second half and a final time of 6:11. Not my dream time, but still 15 seconds faster than last summer's mile time trial, so I'll take it.

After walking a quick 400m, I added 2x800m at 5k race pace...or that's what I intended. I clocked 3:17 and 3:15, both a bit quick. I closed out the session with a clockwise cooldown mile, for five miles total on the track.

The day after, I'm a bit sore in a couple of areas (calves, hip flexors and upper glutes), but otherwise I feel fine.

I fully intend to break 6 minutes in the mile before this year is over.

I've always loved running on the track. I enjoy the roads and trails, of course, but there's something about the track that gets my competitive juices flowing. The variables are minimized (aside from the wind), and it's you against the clock...or other opponents. Boring? I can see how some runners would think so, but being a numbers geek, the track suits me as well as other venues. Maybe it's also the nostalgia factor that appeals to me.

And since I've made this public already, I might as well post it here. At nearly 46 years of age, I still apparently don't have the maturity to leave my high school 5:01 mile in the past. I'm going to take a shot at the stars to see if I can hit the moon (or, tilt at one big windmill, if you will.) One of my goals is to run a sub-5 minute mile by the age of 50. That gives me four years. If I can train consistently and without injury (those are HUGE "if's"), then I believe I can do it. Even if things go perfectly, it'll be incredibly difficult. I do have a couple of things in my favor, though, that I didn't have as a high school runner. I'm physically stronger now, and I know quite a bit more about training, nutrition and recovery. If I fail to reach the goal, I won't be disappointed, but I'm going to give it a full effort. I won't devote the entire four years to doing track intervals, but I'll gradually build a (hopefully) huge base and create "seasons" for myself, during which I'll focus more on speed. It should be fun! If I stay healthy, and even if I fail to reach the goal, I'll be a much faster, fitter runner.

As always, I'll post the incredibly exciting updates right here.

Run happy, my friends!

Thursday, January 31, 2013

January Gone...Already?

It's hard to believe 1/12th of 2013 has already passed. In terms of running and fitness, it was a very good month.


Runs: 23
Miles: 120.7 (5.25 miles/run average)
Time: 16:55:09 (8:24/mile average)
Races: 1 (45:36 @ Nookachamps 10k…not a good day)

I also joined a challenge on Facebook to do 20,000 pushups in 2013. I finished the month with 2800 pushups on 100 sets, which puts me on track for almost 33,000 pushups for the year. We'll see how long I can keep up that pace! I also did a lot of pullups, situps, dips and work with dumbbells. As usual, I got a little lazy with the stretching. I'll get better, I promise.

Back to the running. As I hinted at above, I ran one race in January. I didn't feel it was worth a race report. Why? Partially due to laziness, and partially because it was a very tough race. The course was the toughest 10k course I've run. There was a 3/4 mile long hill between miles 2 and 3, then another short but STEEP hill at mile 5. Not being in top shape (and because I was still fighting an upper respiratory bug), they both wiped me out and I coasted to the finish in a rather disappointing time. I even suffered my worst age group finish in a race EVER, percentage-wise, anyway (10th of 15).

But…lately my running has been going quite well. I'm training for another 10k (Feb. 23rd) and have managed to build my base back to over 30 miles per week, on currently 6 runs per week. I feel like I'm settling into a groove again. I feel a few little niggles from time to time, but no injury pain. Next week, I'll start introducing some speed work into my training…very cautiously. One of those niggles is my right hamstring, so I don't want to blow it out with some ill-informed repeats on the track.

I know I can't milk this "comeback" idea forever, but I still hesitate to say I'm all the way "back." I still haven't tested myself with any runs longer than a single ten miler. As I'm currently training for 5 & 10k's, I don't feel the need to. But I do hope to return to the half marathon distance by the end of this year, so I'll eventually get a healthy diet of double-digit runs…attempts, at least…later this year.

As I mentioned in my 2012 wrap-up post, I'm also doing the Seattle to Portland bike ride in July, so soon I'll be putting in quite a bit of time in the saddle. That'll affect my running, at least temporarily. That bums me out a little, since I'm really enjoying the running right now and would like to see if I can continue to improve and increase the volume. I'm sure, though, that swapping out some of those run miles with bike time won't do anything to hurt my fitness.

One month down, 11 to go. Onward!

Saturday, January 5, 2013


When I was a sophomore in high school, my math teacher—himself a runner—encouraged me to join the cross-country team. The year was nearly over; cross-country and track seasons both in the rear-view mirror. That summer, I spent several weeks in Florida, visiting my mom and sister. I began running laps around our block, usually in the late evening to avoid the midday sun (which provided little relief, as it was still very hot and humid, even at night.) I vividly remember the bats darting and diving above my head in the twilight. I still wasn't convinced that cross-country was for me. Nor bats.

I had run track for a season in middle school…yes, in central Florida (I moved to the Seattle area in the middle of my sophomore year), but I hadn't yet fallen in love with running. But that summer of 1983, my math teacher's words reverberated in my head.

I put in modest mileage before returning to Seattle to begin my junior year. Still wavering on what to do, athletically speaking, I thought that maybe I'd try out for the golf team. We lived in a country club, with access to a tournament-caliber golf course. I had cut my golfing teeth there, but had yet to crack 100 for a full round. Still, it could be a fun experience. But making the team was questionable. I don't remember if our golf team made cuts, but I do remember listening to other kids at that first meeting, griping about their lousy double-bogeys on the last hole, leaving them with a disappointing score of 75, etc.

Cue a skinny, four-eyed kid fidgeting, loosening his collar, acting like he forgot something in his locker and leaving the meeting before the golf coach arrived.

Suddenly, cross-country sounded like a good alternative. The season had already begun, so I wasn't eligible to race until the second meet. Working to get into shape, I had two "DNF's" (Did Not Finish) that season; partially due to rolling an ankle, and partially due to not being fit. I trained hard, but wrapped up the season with less-than-impressive times.

I improved slightly during track season but, again, I was still working on not only getting faster, but building a base. By the end of the season, I made about a ten second jump in my mile time.

My senior year cross-country season was much improved, thanks to a summer of consistent running. I recorded roughly 400 miles during summer vacation. Still not high mileage, but most of it was quality (i.e. probably too fast.) This contributed to much faster times than the previous year. I always felt like I was trying to catch up to the level of the faster guys, so I usually trained very hard—probably too hard—most of the time.

But my coach took notice of my efforts. He took a small group of runners from our team to Canada for a small invitational cross-country meet. I was still a JV runner at the time (I cracked the varsity lineup late in the season), but due to my seriousness about training, I was one of the five guys he decided to include.

As I was growing up, my dad had always emphasized the importance of doing your absolute best in everything. Of course, being the best isn't a guarantee, but there's no excuse for not putting forth a 100% effort, whatever the task or event may be. As a typical teenager, I'm sure I fell well short of that advice many times. But when it came to running, I took it to heart.

Once the season was over, we met for the post-season awards banquet on a very cold and snowy night in November. The expected guys and gals won the expected awards. But when my coach announced the winner of the "Most Improved" award, it caught me by surprise.

"This award goes to a guy who, if we weren't meeting here tonight, would be out running in this blizzard…Colin Hayes."

He likely forgot those words shortly after he spoke them. Even today, over 28 years later, they hit home.

I've never managed to record impressive times, at least compared to many of my fellow competitors. I don't consider myself a talented runner at all. The only thing I'll tentatively take pride in, speaking as a runner, is my dedication and determination. My coach saw that in me and recognized me publicly in a very meaningful way.

My "Most Improved, 1984 Cross Country" plaque still hangs on the wall in my garage with other ribbons and medals. It's still my most cherished.

Yes, simple words can make a profound impact in peoples' lives. In this case, they still do.