Tuesday, December 22, 2015

A Hip Kinda Guy

Time to un-neglect this blog once again to bring you an update. Since my last post a month ago, I've run exactly 3 times for a total of 8 miles. All on the treadmill (which felt better than the road, but not entirely without pain). I figured I could manage 2-3 short treadmill runs per week, especially given the outdoor conditions. That is, until I broke the treadmill during my third run. So, that's that.

I continued with my physical therapy visits, once or twice per week, focusing on strengthening my hips, glutes, legs, working on balance, stretching & flexibility. During this process, my right groin became more and more noticeably painful. My PT guy suspected I have some sort of impingement and suggested I see an orthopedist. I did, and got an X-ray that showed some bone chips floating around. He also said I may have a torn labrum there, too. So I get to have my hip numbed, shot full of dye, then an MRI on Christmas Eve.

The fun never ends for this guy.

With the bone chips, I'm wondering if this isn't more fallout from my bike accident back in August.

If there is a tear, surgery will probably be recommended. I've even had dreams where I had my MRI, then overheard my doc talking with the MRI tech about a hip replacement. My broken body is now haunting (taunting?) me in my sleep.

2015 has been a rough year for the old bod. I'm hoping for a still very active but less painful year in 2016. Or, at the very least, less expensive.

Oh, speaking of expensive, there is some good news: I will be buying a new road bike. It's my Christmas present and has been officially approved by the Mrs. Not sure which make and model I'm looking for, but I'd love full carbon fiber with Shimano Ultegra components. In the meantime, I've been riding my old bike on my indoor trainer 3x per week. It can be a grind, but it's better than nothing here in snowy Spokane.

Back to the MRI. I'll have my follow-up on Monday the 28th, after which I'll post the results.

So until then, Merry Christmas, folks!

Monday, November 23, 2015

Shut Down, Again

Since my last blog post, I've had some setbacks with my running. What's new, right? The week after my first 10-mile run in 3 years, I ran yet another one. This came the day after a particularly hard PT session, including some exercises I hadn't done before. Consequently, I struggled during the run, had more pain than usual, and was too hardheaded to cut the run short. Ergo, I came out of it a bit scathed, rather than the unscathed I was hoping for.

Fast-forward a few more days and I went out for a moderately paced 4-miler, which I had to cut a mile short due to a strained right calf. It was a cold day, so I thought the calf was just tight. As the run went on, it hurt more and more. That was about a week and a half ago, and I haven't run since.

Of course it's frustrating, but I'm used to that feeling. It's how my body rolls these days. Two steps forward, two steps back. I'm hoping to add at least a half step to the two forward eventually. I don't expect to ever be 100% injury-free or pain-free again when it comes to running. But I hope to get to where it's at least manageable and only a little uncomfortable.

In the meantime, I've dusted off my trusty fluid trainer and have done a few indoor rides, taking advantage of my Netflix subscription. It's not as fun as running (or even riding) outdoors, but I get a really good workout and sweat like crazy, so it's not all bad.

I also started hitting the weights and bodyweight exercises again. I think I may have gotten a tad ahead of myself, however. This morning, my left forearm is throbbing and a little sore right around the break area. I think the pull ups may be the primary culprit. I may not be ready to hang and pull my entire bodyweight up with my arms — left arm, in particular. So, I shall back off again and let it rest.

This has been a bit of a tough year for me, physically. I'm getting weary of complaining like an old man, but I really feel like one lately. I had two relatively serious bike crashes, arm surgery, a bad knee (even before any crashing), a root canal on a dying tooth, a strained calf, some shoulder problems, and get the h*ll offa my lawn, you blasted kids!

But, here in the U.S., it's Thanksgiving week. I'm alive and otherwise healthy. Got a great wife, two awesome daughters, a spoiled dog, roof over my head and food in my belly. Get to draw things for a living. Any complaining I do is pretty ridiculous when put into perspective, I guess.

I'm very, very thankful. I wish you all a Happy Thanksgiving.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Double Digits, and a PT Update

This week marked the first time in nearly THREE YEARS since I've recorded a double-digit run! I ran a pretty solid 10 miles last Thursday, keeping the pace nice and easy (9:05/mile average). As usual, my left knee hurt for 2-3 miles, but then it settled down quite a bit. My right hip (which has sometimes hurt more than the knee) barked a few times, but didn't feel too bad. This was an out-and-back run (which I've been doing on the Centennial Trail, by the Spokane River, for my long runs) and I was going to go out 4 miles and turn around, unless I felt better than usual, in which case I'd stretch it to 5. That's what I did, and the last 5 miles were the least painful miles I've run in a LONG time! If all runs felt like those last 5 miles, I could live with that. However, I'm sure that won't always be the case, given my history.

Which leads me to the physical therapy I'm currently doing. I just finished my second full week (twice per week), and it seems to be helping. I'm doing a lot of foam rolling (on the evil black roller), stretching (hamstrings, calves, groin, quads) and a good deal of hip and glute strengthening using various exercise bands. I'm also working on my single-leg balance using a couple of different exercises. I've had my left IT band rubbed and dug into a couple of times (and have bruises to prove it), but it seems a little looser. I often leave there feeling pretty beat up and unable to walk normally, but I can finally feel my stabilizer muscles kicking in now during some of the movements. And, like I mentioned above, the knee pain seems to be lessening a little.

On my second visit, I ran a mile on the treadmill while my PT guy watched my form. I apparently swing my legs a bit and "scissor" my stride (i.e. cross over a little), which probably puts my knees in poor alignment, along with my hips. He says that should start correcting itself as I get stronger and more flexible, but I've started consciously working on my stride the last couple of runs. It feels odd, but I'm trying to make it only a small adjustment and not go overboard and potentially cause other issues. I'll be doing PT until the end of November. After that, I'll continue doing it at home on a maintenance program, and will do my best to roll and stretch both before and after I run.

Today, I finally set my beat-up bike on the trainer and did an easy 45 minute spin. It was the first time I've been on the bike since my accident back on August 13th. It felt good to be back on, even if it was indoors on a stationary trainer. I'm very hesitant to ride that bike outdoors again. I'll probably have the shop look it over, but it did get banged up pretty good in the accident, and if any of the frame is compromised, I'm asking for trouble by riding it outdoors again. And that's the logic I'm using on my wife in hopes of getting her blessing on buying a new bike! Thanks to our glut of broken arm expenses, I'm not expecting that blessing to be granted until next year (if even then), but with a few triathlons in my plans for 2016, I'll pretty much need the new bike.

But marital harmony comes first.

And I'm going to end this blog entry before I get myself into trouble. Thankfully, my better half doesn't read this blog.

I hope...

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Ten Thousand Miles, an MRI, and PT!

Well, well, well...

After FAR too many years, I finally managed to hit the 10,000 mile mark for lifetime running mileage. Some of you might say, "that's quite an achievement for someone dealing with so many injuries over the years," and others might say, "jeesh, it took you long enough!" You would both be correct. I have many running friends who have eclipsed this mileage in far less time and have probably doubled or tripled my mileage already, so this won't be all that impressive to those folks. But it hasn't been an easy road for me. Still isn't.

Ran my 10,000th mile today in 7:22 (4th mile of a 5 mile run). Didn't feel easy. Sucks to be out of shape. And yes, my knee and hip hurt. But it was awesome!

It all started back on June 26, 1983 (Actually, it started a few years before that, with a year of XC during middle school, for which I have no written records, so I don't include those miles.) I was living in Kent, WA with my dad, stepmom and baby sister but visiting my mom and other family in Florida during summer break. I was going into my junior year of high school and had decided I wanted to run cross country. So I started running loops around the block where we lived.

Those of you that know me at all will NOT be surprised to know that I do, indeed, have my first written log from that time. My first recorded run was a 2-miler (at 6:46 pace!) around the block (CD stands for Crestwood Drive). I also like that I threw down a 5:44 mile during my second week of running. Ah, youth...

Low mileage, fast pace. What's this "base building" people talk about?

Thirty-two years of ups and downs (and plenty of injuries) later, I finally met that goal. You can see on the right side of this blog, if you scroll down a ways, my year-to-year mileage. Some years have zeroes, some have hardly any mileage at all. I'll admit that not all of those paltry years were due to injuries. Post high school, I lost interest in running (oh, if I had that time back again...I was just starting to get fast when I graduated!) There were other years where I decided I was going to lift weights and add muscle to my skinny frame. And, of course, there were plenty of injuries that derailed my running, sometimes for months (or years) at a time. But, glutton for punishment that I seem to be, I always returned to running. It's in my blood.

So, here's to the next 10,000 miles, God (and body) willing.

Speaking of a willing body, I ended up getting an MRI on my left knee after all. I won't go into the ugly details involving my insurance company (there are still issues being dealt with), but I met with my doc a few days ago to go over the results. Long story short, my knee looks great! No tears. Cartilage, tendons & ligaments all look good. Very little wear and tear. No arthritis. There is a bone bruise (probably from one of my bike crashes, but my knee pain goes back long before any crash), and there's a bit of fat deposit that might be causing impingement, but nothing that's obviously giving me the knee pain I'm still experiencing. I'm thrilled to know the knee is structurally sound, but frustrated that I still don't know what's up. Doc said that tight hamstrings can lead to knee pain (I've had tight hamstrings for decades, so I doubt it's the main problem.) I decided to go for a 6-week round of physical therapy to hopefully get my gait analyzed (again), get more flexible, deal with any strength imbalances and weaknesses and, hopefully, put the chronic pain behind me.

After all, I've got another 10,000+ miles to run. Don't want it to be painful! At least, not the bad kind of pain...

Monday, October 5, 2015

Ye Olde Updayte Tyme Again!

Just a quick check-in to update the proceedings at Resurrected Runner Headquarters.

Fall has settled upon the Inland Northwest, and we've taken it upon ourselves to hire an entirely new staff. By "staff," I of course am referring to a brand new pen, a new page in my old school running log, and a new and improved mess of running shoes scattered across my closet floor.

Aside from that, here are a few updates:
1. My broken arm is still broken, but I've finally moved out of the splint and am doing a series of exercises to regain both strength and mobility. It's going surprisingly well. If that continues, I won't need official occupational therapy. The scar is also healing nicely, too. It'll still be a while before I can lift anything heavy.

 

2. I've been running twice per week for going on 6 weeks now, gradually increasing both my pace and distance. Last Thursday, I ran a not-so-easy 7-miler (longest run in 2 years). This morning, I cranked out a nice 4 mile tempo run, followed by 4 x .08 mile strides, for a cumulative average pace of 7:46 per mile. Probably didn't need to do the strides, given my knee issue. But man, they felt good! It seems like this twice per week frequency is at least somewhat agreeable to my knee, given that it has felt about the same for every run this past 5 weeks.

3. Which leads me to the knee MRI update. Since we're still fighting my insurance company on my broken arm costs, and they've been GLACIALLY slow at processing claims, it now looks like I won't be able to get my MRI by my October 16th deadline, unless I want to pay for it out of pocket. Given how much we've already paid out of pocket for my arm, I don't think this will be doable for us right now, sadly.

4. However, I have been doing some knee-related exercises and stretches in an attempt to remedy the situation myself. I've done plenty of reading and video watching and am doing what I need to do for "runner's knee," which is a rather ambiguous term for the pain I'm experiencing. Not sure if it's helping yet, but as I mentioned earlier, it doesn't seem to be getting any worse, given my two runs per week currently. One probable side effect of my left knee pain is a right hip that's been pretty sore. I would guess that I'm compensating for the knee while I'm running. Dang, this old body...

5. To continue on the running theme (hey, I should do a blog about running!), I am now 15 miles shy of 10,000 lifetime running miles. Unless something interesting happens the next couple of weeks, I'll probably refrain from posting here until I hit that milestone.

...and you never know what kind of interesting injury I can fit in between now and then, so stay tuned!

Friday, September 18, 2015

X-ray Done, MRI Coming Soon...Hopefully

A week ago today, I visited my arm surgery doc to start discussing my left knee issues. In case you haven't followed along at home (if not, I don't blame you!), my left knee has been hurting for about two years now, and has gotten progressively worse. It's usually a sharp pain underneath my kneecap (lower, inner part) that most often shows up when my foot hits the ground when I'm running. Usually, it hurts badly for the first mile or two, then settles down the rest of the way. But if I try to run too often, it seems to last longer and, eventually, I'm forced to take a break from running altogether. Currently, I've been running twice per week, 3-5 miles at a time. Yesterday, during a 5 mile run, the knee hurt for about 3 miles. Getting close to that "take a break" time again, it seems.

Anyway, I had an X-ray last Friday, which showed nothing out of the ordinary. In fact, the doc said there was nice spacing around the joint (meaning I haven't totally destroyed my cartilage yet). He also wiggled my kneecap around and didn't feel much grinding or clicking. At that point, he gave me two choices: start physical therapy or get an MRI. I chose the latter, just because I want to know for sure what's going on in there...assuming an MRI will disclose that information. So now I have to wait for approval from my insurance company. I've met my deductible, but due to slow processing by said insurance company, that's not "official" just yet. So, I may not get approved anytime soon. And I'd rather not pay out-of-pocket for this MRI, especially after all of my recent medical expenses.

As for my broken arm, it's coming along fairly well. I'm still wearing the splint, and when it's off (when I'm showering or changing the sleeve under it), my arm feels very fragile and vulnerable. It hurts to bend my wrist in any direction. The incision is healing quite well, though, so I'm hoping that the scar won't be too ugly in the future. I go in for a checkup at the end of this month (Sept.) to possibly schedule my first session of occupational therapy, to try to get some strength and mobility back. I'm looking forward to having two functional arms once again.

Even though I could probably set up my trainer and do some indoor riding, I haven't done it yet. I'm pretty sure my bike needs some attention. Actually, I could probably get it into rideable condition for the trainer, but I'm sure it's not ready to ride outdoors. It'll need a pretty serious tune-up at the shop first.

So, things certainly haven't been boring here in Resurrected Runnerland.

But, honestly, boring sounds pretty good about now...

Thursday, September 10, 2015

One Final Run...

Today, I got in one last run before FINALLY getting my left knee checked out tomorrow morning.

I ran 4 miles at an 8:39 pace, with each mile getting progressively faster. It was warm (76°f) since summer has decided to return for an encore, at least through the weekend. As usual, my knee hurt for about a mile and a half, then settled down to merely being an annoyance. I was feeling pretty spent by the end of the run.

I'm now just 46 miles shy of 10,000 lifetime running miles. I'd love to eclipse that barrier with the last mile of a BQ time in a marathon, but unfortunately, that won't happen. More than likely, it'll be another semi-painful, anti-climactic short run. But there were some far more exciting miles that got me to this point, so I'll try to dwell on those when I do finally hit that number.

Time permitting, I'll report back tomorrow on the doctor's first impressions of my knee issues.

Friday, September 4, 2015

First Doc Visit, Post-Surgery

On Monday (8/31), I saw my orthopedist for the first time since he cut me open and made me less than an all-natural human.

It was a good visit, even though getting the stitches pulled out of my arm wasn't pleasant.

 
Courtesy Dr. Frankenstein

Thankfully, after my splint was removed, I was fitted with a new, shorter, REMOVABLE splint!

Don't worry, the flamethrower button is on the "safety" setting.

It also lets me adjust the tension with the handy dial you see in the pic. It better be functional, since they charge $440 for this little beauty (hopefully insurance will foot...or arm...the bill).

Here's an X-ray of my arm after getting the bone set in the ER. It's obvious why surgery was necessary.

"We think you're being a bit picky, sir. What do you mean this isn't close enough?!"


And here's a peek at what lies inside of my left arm now:

"Well, Mr. Hayes, you're screwed."


I'll go back in another 4 weeks to possibly get the go-ahead to try life without the splint, if I'm very careful. I'll also begin some PT to slowly rebuild strength and mobility. In the meantime, I can remove the splint to shower (there's also an arm sock I wear under the sleeve. I have two, so I can wash and alternate them, as they do get a little stinky), but I can't bear much weight with the arm, nor rotate my wrist.

While there for my follow-up, I also got the ball rolling with my knee. I will go in on 9/11 to start the process of figuring out what its problem(s) is (are). The insurance company won't sign off on a surgery for something that doesn't affect normal activity (are they insinuating that running isn't normal?) until all other methods of fixing the issue are tried, such as PT, steroid/cortisone shots, etc. So it could be a long process. If surgery ends up being the solution, I hope it can get done before the end of the year, since I've met my (ridiculously high) deductible this year and don't want to pay it again next year!

In the meantime, I'll be following my friend Adam's progress as he recovers from knee surgery. Hang tough, buddy, and good luck with your recovery. You'll be back out there running and making emergency bathroom stops at the quickie mart in no time!

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Post-Surgery Update, and Potential Plans for More Surgery

It's been 9 days since I had surgery on my broken left arm, and things seem to be progressing as expected. The surgery to insert a metal plate and screws (not sure how many) went well (only took an hour), and I'm back in a hard splint, held up by a sling. I have full use of my fingers, which is a good sign, although there's a very small, persistently numb spot on my index finger. Even if it's permanent, it's not a big deal.

I took the day after surgery very easy. I took pain meds every few hours. I've since resumed full-time work and am only taking pain meds when needed, which is right before bed and occasionally one during the day, if I've been a little too eager to use my left hand (like today, for example).

My first return visit to the doc who cut me will be on Monday, Aug. 31st. He'll most likely remove the splint to take a look at how the incision is healing. Hopefully, he'll put me in a shorter splint so I can bend my elbow. We'll see. He won't be putting me in a traditional hard cast, though, which is nice.

The itching under the splint has been more annoying than the pain, but even that seems to be subsiding. My other cuts and scrapes are healing nicely and have formed some of the biggest, thickest scabs ever seen in the free world. The looks and reprimands I've been subjected to for picking at those scabs is terribly unfair. I mean...it's so satisfying!

I still need help doing many things, although I've taught myself some tricks and shortcuts, and have become more dexterous with my right hand. I can button and zip my pants all by myself, like a big boy, but I still need help making my meals and washing myself. I hope my wife doesn't get suspicious when I still ask her to bathe me a year from now. "But honey, the doctor says that this is the last skill to be redeveloped after such a violent break. It could be five, ten years before I can bathe myself...and even then, it's dangerous."

Yeah, I doubt it, too. A guy can dream, though...

As for my activity level, I can do a few exercises, some 1-arm dumbbell work, and walking, as long as I don't get too sweaty under my splint. Going from 150+ miles of cycling per week to zero has confused my body, both from an exercise perspective and a dietary one. I still want to eat as much as I was pre-accident, but I'm trying to keep the intake in check. It took too long to drop last year's excess weight. Don't want to go through that again.

Now, the even more interesting news. Since my insanely high insurance deductible of [insert Luxembourg's GDP here] has finally been met, I now have full coverage. Imaging is included, so it might be time to get my left knee checked out. I at least want an MRI to determine what's going on in there. Then, if there's a chance it could be fixed, perhaps surgery would be worth it. If so, here's what the next few months potentially looks like for me:

AUG - arm surgery
SEPT - root canal (9/3)
OCT-DEC - knee surgery?
JAN 2016 - beg wife not to leave me

It would be a royal pain to go through all that in just a few months' time, but if I can get an MRI and knee surgery for essentially no cost out-of-pocket, it would be a shame not to do it — especially if it would allow me to run again. I'm not getting my hopes too high just yet, but who knows?


Saturday, August 15, 2015

A Flair For The Dramatic

As I sit here typing slowly with only my right hand, I'm trying to figure out how to explain how I'm feeling about all the miles I've put on my bike this year, all the recent hill climbing, the weight loss, the noticeably improved fitness...and the fact that I won't be able to ride the 108 mile Coeur d'Fondo next month.

Yes, my friends, I've once again had a bike accident. This one, however, was a doozy. It was violent, and it broke my left arm.

It was going to be a relatively short, flat and easy ride with my riding buddy Tom. 40 miles total, out and back on the Centennial Trail. All was going well. We were two miles from the end of the ride when we had to move left to pass a runner. I was on the far left and didn't see a big bump, hidden in a shadow. We were riding at a good clip when I hit the bump and went flying with my bike. It happened very fast, so I couldn't tell you exactly how I landed. All I know is that my body skid several feet before stopping. I laid there moaning, and Tom told me not to move. Blood was gushing from the back of my right arm, and my left arm was bent in a very unnatural way. The shock and adrenaline masked the pain at first, but once I stood up, I started feeling it. I had to hold my left forearm in place with my right hand, otherwise it would twist and flop completely over (sorry) and hurt. Badly. Tom walked me to a shady spot in a nearby parking lot while he rode off to get his car to drive me to the ER. My wife, who Tom called for me, was already at the ER when we arrived.

After too long a wait, I was taken back for X-rays. They X-rayed my left arm, right elbow and left knee, all of which took the brunt of the impact. My left radius was cleanly snapped in half and nearly sticking through the skin. Any movement of my left arm was agonizing, and I nearly shed a manly tear or two as the X-ray tech positioned my arm for several images.

Back to the waiting room for a L-O-N-G time again, then finally back in to get the bone re-set and splinted.

I was given a tetanus shot, Propofol (the drug that killed Michael Jackson) to put me under, along with Demerol for the pain. For some reason (adrenaline? fear of ending up like Jacko?) I never drifted off. One of the docs said he had never seen that before.

The procedure involved hanging my left arm by my fingers (using metal traps that look like those old Chinese finger traps) and having the arm bent at 90 degrees. Then, they hung a sling from my upper arm with weights in it to pull the bones apart. Even with the drugs, that was loads of fun, kids. After several minutes of manipulation, they still weren't able to get the bone to stay in place, so they did the best they could, splinted it, and said I would likely need surgery.

After the splint hardened, I was wheeled back for a CAT scan, which confirmed that I also had a fractured bone in my wrist (probably from an earlier crash this year). Since it doesn't seem to be an issue, it'll be left alone, although they said it could be removed entirely if it still caused pain.

Finally, six and a half hours into my happy hospital visit, I was allowed to go home (stopping by the pharmacy on the way to get my pain meds).

I met with the orthopedist yesterday and will have surgery this coming Tuesday to get a plate and pins put in to keep the bone in place. They will be permanent. If my insurance will cover it, I'd like to opt for bionic parts, maybe with a lazer gun option.

The important question, you're probably asking, is, "how's the bike?" Well, it's pretty banged up and will need some repairs. I'll let the bike shop assess the damage once I'm able to take it in.

In all seriousness, that invisible bump may end up making our savings account invisible, even WITH my insurance.

Sleeping with a splint and sling has been difficult, but the Percocet has helped a little. And, fortunately, I'm married to a patient woman. She'll have to be, not only because I need help doing many things, but also because I'll be getting very restless and grumpy not being able to ride, run or work out for several weeks.

So, with that said, here are some pictures. Don't scroll down if you're queasy about this sort of thing...













Are we having fun yet? Just before drugs & reduction time.



Side view of left forearm

Top view of left forearm

Right arm, after clean-up. Somehow got a hole nearly down to the bone.

Nice road rashes on right knee.




Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Week in Review

I've fallen into the pattern of updating my previous week's activities, so I might as well continue that trend.

Here are my cycling numbers:

Rides: 3   (YTD: 47)
Miles: 149.1   (YTD: 1729)
Time: 9:16:30   (YTD: 99.9 hrs)
Elevation: 4692'   (29,106')

Runs: 1  (YTD: 20)
Miles: 2.6   (YTD: 73.9)
Time: 24:37   (YTD: 10.9 hrs)

I also walked 20 miles last week (YTD: 385.4 mi)

I had a very challenging ride last Thursday. The distance (54.9 mi.) wasn't what made it tough, it was the climbing and the wind. There were two significant climbs on this ride, the latter being the toughest climb I've ever done. I rode up Quinimose Rd, then took the turn onto Broken Lance Dr. Both of those roads are steep, mostly out-of-the-saddle climbs. I've also been riding from my house when I ride solo, which means I always finish with a decent climb, since we live on a hill. My goal for August is to climb 20,000'. I honestly don't think I'll achieve that number, but I will climb more than last month, without a doubt. I'm trying to get the climbs in before the Coeur d'Fondo 108 mile ride next month, since that's a very hilly course.

One other quick note, regarding climbing, is that I finally climbed up to the Arbor Crest Winery. It's not long (.8 mi), but it's very steep. It felt good to finally get that climb under my belt.

Speaking of hills, I need to get ready for another hilly ride this morning, so with that, I'll post a few pics from last week's rides:

Turkey family, Riverview Drive

From the top of Broken Lance Dr.

Off of Henry Road, Saltese Flats area.

Arbor Crest!

On the way down from Arbor Crest.

View from road up to Arbor Crest.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

PRs in July!

Another month has flown by. Somebody slow this train down! It'll be winter before we know it. Ugh...

Anyhoo, July was a good month for my bike and me. I managed to set PRs in:

Monthly mileage: 591
Total rides: 12
Miles per ride: 49.3
Longest ride: 83.7 mi.
Elevation gain: 11,927'
Most miles/week: 169

The only thing that slacked off a bit was my average pace. I attribute that to more climbing and longer rides.

I only lost 2 lbs. in July, but I was fairly close to my goal weight when the month started. I could probably stand to lose another 5 lbs, but no more than that. I don't have the need or desire to be at my marathon weight. I was too light (and weak) back then (2010).

Yesterday, my long ride (83.7 miles) was cut short due to heat exhaustion. I was only a few miles from home, but had a pretty good climb ahead of me to finish. I was toast, so I called my wife to come rescue me. It was still a PR by 21 miles (and in 95+ degree heat), so I'm not disappointed.

August looks to be another great month on the bike, with more PRs on the way. It's been very hot lately, so I'm looking forward to some cooler days.

Keep moving forward, my friends!

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Mileage PR

I just wrapped up another week of cycling, which ended in a weekly mileage PR of 169 miles:

MON: 32.2 mi, 1:48:20, 313' vertical
TUE: 57.4 mi, 3:34:35, 1371' vertical
THU: 40.4 mi, 2:14:03, 482' vertical
FRI: 39.0 mi, 2:19:24, 902' vertical

TOT: 169.0 mi, 9hr 56 min 21 sec (17.0 mph avg), 3068' vertical

Tuesday's ride (with Tom) included loops around both Newman Lake and Hauser Lake. Newman is a challenge due to some pretty good climbs, but this week it was even more of a challenge because of the road work I wasn't aware of before the ride. They had laid down chip seal for about 1.5 miles on the northern side of the lake. That slowed us to a crawl. For some reason, the rocks kept sticking to my tires and getting stuck under my brake levers just above my tires. Other than that (and a stiff headwind on the way back), it was a great ride. Monday and Thursday were pretty standard Centennial Trail rides, but on Friday I decided to ride from my house, which meant I'd have a nice climb at the end of the ride. It's only the second time I've ridden that climb, and I was much more prepared this time (I'm 8 lbs. lighter and in much better shape). Not to say that it was easy. It's still a pretty grueling climb for me. It'll be a nice gauge of my strength and fitness in the future.

Speaking of which, I've really felt a boost in fitness the last couple of weeks. Summer is half over, so it's nice to finally "feel" like a cyclist. By the time the Coeur d'Fondo comes around (I'll be doing the 108 mile Gran Fondo, around lake Coeur d'Alene, on Sept. 26th), I should be ready. There's a lot of climbing on that ride, so I'll have to step up my game in that department leading up to that ride. Next year at this time, I fully plan on being a monster on the bike. Mark my words, I will never allow myself to get out of cardio shape again, like I did in 2014. If it's too nasty to ride outside during the winter months, I'll be burning up my trainer and catching up on some Netflix garbage (maybe I'll save season 5 of the Walking Dead for such occasions ;-)

Yes, this is still being written by The Resurrected Runner, but I think I'm slowly morphing into a cyclist. If and when the day comes when I can run again, it'll be as part of a program that contains plenty of two wheel workouts. I might even throw in some swimming again if the mood strikes!

So, if injuries are keeping you from one activity, find another one that keeps you fit and healthy. No excuses!

Monday, July 20, 2015

Another Good Week In The Books

It's hard to believe how fast this summer is flying by! I've been doing my best to get out and enjoy it while it's here.

Last week I manged to get out for three rides. I rode with my friend Tom on Tuesday. We recorded 56.3 miles which included a nice hill climb on the Riverview Drive/Highland Drive loop, just southeast of Post Falls, ID. The loop itself isn't terribly long, but it contains several rolling hills and one pretty big one (relative to what I've been riding). The loop ended with a very fast descent. I'm not terribly confident in my descending ability (and always nervous about loose gravel), so I usually tap the brakes occasionally just to stay somewhat under control. Still, we were doing over 40 mph. down the hill!

I did a solo ride of 32.3 miles on Thursday (flat and sort of fast), followed by another solo ride from Argonne to Coeur d'Alene and back (60.6 miles). I felt a little knee soreness during the last two rides, especially when pushing and/or climbing. With the Coeur d'Fondo coming up in September, I should probably invest in a professional bike fitting. I'm sure some adjustments are in order.

I did avoid any cramping this week. I started using Succeed S-Caps, along with my gels and drinks I had been using. While I felt little hints of possible cramping in my legs during a couple of rides, it never happened.

I also feel like my fitness has taken a jump the last couple of weeks. I'm not sure if that's because I've started doing a little climbing or not, but I notice that I don't get winded very easily during rides now, unless I'm really hammering. I seem to recover a little quicker, too.

I also did one run with the dog last Wednesday (mostly on dirt trails), to check in on my knee. There was some pain, but it wasn't terrible. However, my knee ached for a day or two after the run, so I still probably shouldn't run on it.

On Saturday, my wife, oldest daughter and our dog all set out on a family hike on some trails we didn't even know about, prior to my internet research. They're only about 20 minutes from our house, but they feel like they're out in the middle of nowhere. We intended to hike about 5-6 miles, but we got confused on the unmarked trails and ended up hiking 10.4 miles in the heat. We ran out of water, and my dog decided he was going to plop down in the shade several times as we were walking. During the hike, he drank all the water in his bottle and some left in mine that I saved for him. I was a little worried about him, but he made it, 3 1/2 hours later! I looked at our course on Strava and I now know the right trails to take whenever we do the hike again.

Thus ends my boring rambling. Get outdoors this week and sweat!

Monday, July 13, 2015

The Hills Are Alive

Last Friday (July 10th), I met up with my friend Kenny in Couer d'Alene to ride the Olympic triathlon bike course (he's doing the race next month). It's a pretty hilly course, and one that I've never ridden. In fact, I've never ridden east of Coeur d'Alene at all. We set out from the park, by the beach, and rode east along the north shore of the lake, turned around and worked our way up some pretty challenging climbs. We misread part of the course and ended up going down and back up a steep climb, which added to our total elevation gain (almost 1900' total, over 26 miles).



I learned an important lesson on this ride. Instead of trying to hammer and fight my way up the hills, I geared way down and backed off the effort just enough to not get too winded, nor build up too much lactic acid in my legs. That meant slower climbing, but it also meant not blowing up. It made the climbs more enjoyable and eased the feeling of dread I usually get when there's a hill to ascend. A combination of seated climbing and standing on the pedals seemed to work well, too.

I have a long way to go as a climber, and I know there are much harder climbs that will still kick my rear, but it's nice to know that I can work the uphills in a way that doesn't wipe me out.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Heat and Leg Cramps

Last Wednesday (July 1st), I rode 58.5 miles with my frequent riding buddy Tom. We rode out to (and around) Hauser Lake, just inside the border of Idaho, which was a beautiful area. Even though we started riding at 9:45am, it was hot. About 40 miles into the ride, I started feeling my left calf spasming, like it was getting ready to cramp. I ate a gel every hour or so and drank both water and Powerade, but the heat was starting to do a number on me. We stopped briefly just 3 or 4 miles from the end of the ride, where I dismounted and stretched. We decided to just spin easily to the end. It was working until a mere half mile from the finish. At that point, going up a slight uphill, both of my quads violently cramped, causing me to jump out of my saddle. I couldn't bend my knees and was in a good deal of pain. I managed to lean over and get off the bike, roll to the side of the trail and lay down. Tom gave me a couple of electrolyte/sodium capsules. They seemed to kick in fairly quickly, allowing me to hop back on the bike and finish the ride. It was close to 100°f at that point. Once home, I took a 15 minute ice bath.

It was a challenging, but enjoyable, ride. It's becoming obvious that my body doesn't deal well with heat. Whenever I've had cramping issues, it's been on hot days. I just purchased some S-Caps, which I'll be taking during hot rides from now on.

Train hard, but train smart!

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Another Solid Week

I didn't set any distance, total mileage or time records on the bike this week, but I managed to log three solid rides (40.1 mi, 32.3 mi, 32.1 mi = 104.5 miles total). My legs felt a little flat on Monday and Wednesday, but I eased off the pace on Friday and noticed a little more life in them. We're in the middle of a heat wave (102°f here today, 106°f tomorrow, followed by another week, at least, of close to triple digits), so doing extra long or extra fast rides will be out of the question. In fact, due to my schedule, I'll probably only ride on Monday and Wednesday.

I'm at 390 miles for June and 988 miles for the year, so I should hit 1,000 miles on Monday.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Metric Century

A week ago today, I rode my first Metric Century (100k, 62 miles) with one of my riding buddies, Tom. The ride included a loop around Newman Lake (with plenty of challenging climbs, albeit nothing too long) and an encounter with an angry redneck who caused me to crash on the side of the road and gain yet more road rash and an extra-sore left wrist (I landed on it yet again). The road we were on was incredibly rural and quiet, yet this jackwagon passed us on the left, got back in front of us and immediately slammed on his brakes. He jumped out, scraggly beard and overalls a'blazin', and shouted that "this is a high-traffic road!" and that we shouldn't be riding on it. Well, good sir, thank you for the load of horsesh*t, but you're 100% wrong. It's NOT a busy road (we saw 3 cars during the 14 mile loop), and bikes have as much right to the road as do motorists, assuming we're obeying the laws of the road (we were). I found out where this hayseed lives, since we continued riding after he left and saw him walking from his red Jeep Cherokee to his shack, er, house. So...

That was the first of only two rides last week. I put in another 38 miles on the Centennial Trail on Wednesday (giving me 100.5 for the week), then took the rest of the week off since my mom is visiting from Florida. She'll leave tomorrow.

I got out for a moderate 40 miler today, with no plans for the rest of the week. I'll probably get in at least one more ride, but the heat is coming in a big way (projected 107°f high for Sunday), so I'll either be laying low or getting out very early for short rides. We'll see. I also have a ton of work backed up.

I lost 4 lbs. last week, which was a bit more than I wanted to lose. I'm now at my goal weight of 160 lbs. The added mileage is causing the weight to drop off. Obviously I need to increase my caloric intake or I'll end up where I was when I trained for my marathon in 2010 (i.e. too light and too weak).

That's about it from here. Speaking of calories, time to inhale some now...

Saturday, June 13, 2015

153 Miles

I wrapped up a solid week of cycling yesterday, giving me 153 miles for the week. That's a distance PR, which I expect to break again before too long. I had to contend with heat and wind early in the week, but the last two rides (Thurs & Fri) were far more windy than they were hot.

I'm still not doing much climbing, but I think I'm about ready to branch out (i.e. not just ride back and forth on the Centennial Trail by the Spokane River) and find some new areas with a bit of climbing involved. Nothing too crazy, though. Not yet, anyway.

The legs feel just a bit tired, but they're not too drained, although I know if I tried to ride this weekend, I'd be feeling it. But my fitness is improving!

I'll ride with Tom again on Monday, which will probably be a long ride (50+ miles). I think we're going to head into Coeur d'Alene and explore a little. With my mom flying in from Florida on Tuesday, I probably won't have much riding time the rest of the week.

THIS WEEK

M: 32 mi.
T: 52.2 mi.
W: off
TH: 32.1 mi.
F: 37.1 mi.
S: off
S: off

TOTAL: 153.4 mi.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Long, Hot and Windy Ride

You know you're a newbie cyclist when you record your longest ride ever, and it's barely over a half century. But that's exactly what I did yesterday.

I met my new riding friend, Tom, at a local trailhead yesterday morning, where we set out on the Centennial Trail for a casual ride. We didn't have a set distance or time in mind, so we played it by ear. It was a hot morning and getting hotter as the ride progressed. We crossed the border into Idaho and decided to continue through Post Falls (a small town just across the border) with the hopes of finding a trail by the river. We failed in that quest, but managed to ride through a Strava segment named "Cruising through the Ghetto of Post Falls. Watch out for the drug dealer at the auto place!" Nice. We could tell it was a shady part of town, but I wasn't aware of that segment until I uploaded my ride data to Strava. Maybe we'll choose another route next time.

We had a tailwind all the way out which meant, of course, we had to ride back into the wind. It was approaching 90°f by now, so the heat was becoming a factor. After a few miles riding into the headwind, I could tell my tank was running low. I was okay through about 42 miles, but from then on I was running on fumes. I had just about polished off my second bottle of fluid, and my legs were toast. I hung onto Tom (a more experienced and more fit cyclist) and, after a short rest break to stretch and eat a granola bar, we made it back to the trailhead. Thankfully there was a working water fountain, where we refilled our bottles with cold-ish water (the water & sports drink in my bottles was warm for most of the ride, even though they started as mostly ice). Once I dismounted, I noticed that I was pretty lightheaded and dizzy. Tom had another 15 miles of riding — including some climbing — to get home. I knew if that was my situation, I'd be in trouble. It was 93° at this point.

I loaded up my bike, started my truck and sat in the AC for a few minutes to recover and cool off.

Once home, I ate, drank, took an ice bath followed by a hot shower, put on compression socks, then laid on the couch for 30 minutes.

I learned that, even though I'm improving on the bike, I have a long way to go. Heat + headwind are not my friends. Still, I'm happy with the ride and enjoyed Tom's company and conversation.

NUMBERS:
Distance - 52.1 miles
Time - 3:05:55
Pace - 16.9 mph
HR - 131 avg / 145 max

Cycling miles YTD: 714

Monday, June 1, 2015

Update, and...Inspired

It's been five days since my unplanned meeting with the road. I only used my crutch for a couple of hours before I got tired of it (and the swelling in my right knee diminished).

My knees both feel pretty good now, but my left wrist still hurts. I'm still wearing the wrist brace.


There's still a little swelling and some bruising on the wrist. I can pull with my left hand, but any pushing or leaning on the hand hurts quite a bit.

As you can see, my right knee is still slightly swollen and a little bruised:

My bike, thankfully, came away with very little damage. I picked it up from the shop on Sunday, having to pay only $28 for spoke straightening and wheel trueing.

I halfway thought about taking a short test spin today, but I was feeling a little under the weather and my wrist is still a little too sore. I may give it try on Wednesday.

On to my recent inspiration. I had an old Mill Creek Running & Multi-Sport Club friend, Dan, from the Seattle area stay with us over the weekend. He was competing in the Troika Half Ironman Triathlon. The race took place on Saturday in Medical Lake, WA. There were also some other friends racing (Garrett, Kenny and Sherry), so my cheering duties were plentiful.

Dan, finishing in 4:56, 13th overall, 3rd AG

Dan was first competitor out of the water, which was both surprising and NOT surprising. He's been an elite level swimmer for a long time (he may not agree with my assessment, but that's the truth), who's also a very strong runner and a very quickly improving cyclist. I used to train with him frequently (although at a slower pace) when I lived on the West side. It was his first time going sub-5 hours in a half ironman, and his first non-Ironman distance triathlon in 3 years.

Garrett, finishing in 5:02:45, 3rd in AG
 Garrett is another very talented friend from my old running & multi-sport club on the West side. He's quite a bit younger and a type-1 diabetic (which doesn't seem to slow him down at all). I ran the Ragnar Relay with him back in 2010 (we were in the same van) and enjoyed getting to know him a little. He had an incredible bike leg at Troika (2:29:48 for 56.7 miles)!

Kenny, finishing in 5:55 in his 2nd half ironman. A 49 minute PR!
Kenny is a fairly new friend who I met through our church, where he co-leads worship (and I play bass with him & the team). He's a super-positive guy with whom I've cycled a couple of times (with more rides to come) and have enjoyed seeing him improve rapidly as a multi-sport athlete. I have no doubt that he'll crush this year's time next year.

It's nearly impossible for me to attend an event like this and not be inspired. I've kicked around the idea of doing a triathlon for several years now, but have never really committed to it. Assuming I can get this knee taken care of and back into running shape, I'll probably set a triathlon in my sights so I'll have a goal. If I can run again, I doubt I'll ever be "just" a runner. I think my body has made it clear that I need to continue cross training in order to avoid overuse injuries. Unfortunately, triathlon is a very expensive sport, so that will come into play. But I at least need to take a shot at a sprint or Olympic distance tri, once I'm able to run again (assuming I will...and I'm very hopeful).

But until then, it's time to become a beast on the bike!

Dan and I enjoying a celebratory beverage





Thursday, May 28, 2015

Oopsie

Yesterday was a beautiful day, at least weather-wise. Sun, low 70's, slight wind. I hadn't ridden my bike since last Friday, so I was eager to not only get out for a ride, but to get in a long ride. I started riding at about 10:30am, with the plan to ride for roughly 3 hours (a bit over 50 miles, most likely). I parked my truck in a local church parking lot and hit the roads heading east toward Liberty Lake. I made a loop around the town and met another solo cyclist at a stoplight as I was about 8 miles into my ride. We rode together on both the roads and the Centennial Trail for another 15 miles or so, where we went our own way (with the agreement to ride again in the near future, since our schedules are similar).

From the Argonne trailhead in Spokane (where we parted company), I made my way back to toward Post Falls, ID. There, I turned around and rode the trail back to Harvard Rd, where I had to get back onto the road as I headed south toward Liberty Lake again and, ultimately, west, to my truck. I came up to a roundabout, which was surprisingly crowded. I had to stop behind a couple of cars to wait for my turn. I was 49.7 miles into my ride at this point, with probably 6 miles to go. I was feeling good, but as soon as I stopped and unclipped my left shoe to put it down, my left calf began cramping. Once I pushed off to start riding again, the cramp hit full-force, making it very hard to clip in. My foot slipped forward and into the spokes of my front wheel. I was still in the roundabout and going fast enough at this point that the momentum caused me to flip completely over with my bike and land, hard, on both of my knees, my left wrist and my head. Dazed (and embarrassed), I got up quickly and grabbed my bike (and my ejected water bottles). An older couple stopped in their car. The man asked if I was okay. The woman said, "you should ride on the trail!" Thanks, m'am. I didn't tell her that I had just ridden 40+ miles on the trail and was on my way home. I did tell her that bikes are legal on the road, and tried to explain that my calf had cramped up. I decided to not get into an extended conversation and continued pushing my bike to the side of the road. I noticed that my front wheel wouldn't turn, so I rolled it on the back wheel.

Once on the curb, I started taking stock of my body.

Hematoma time!

You mean, one leg isn't supposed to have two knees?
A bump — a very large bump — started appearing above my right knee. It became difficult to bend the knee. As I lowered myself to the curb, I felt a very sharp pain in my left wrist. Once the adrenaline had worn off and I realized that I was pretty hurt, I decided I'd better call my wife to come get me. Once she arrived, we concluded that I should head to the clinic to get me checked out. Three hours and two X-rays later, it was determined that I hadn't broken any bones. I was given a wrist brace, a knee wrap and a crutch (plus a very small prescription for pain meds), with the instructions to ice the knee and wrist every few hours and to keep my right leg elevated.

"I'm a very good cyclist!"


Nearly a day later, the swelling has gone down significantly on my right knee and, although it's still sore, I can walk on it without the crutch. My left wrist, however, hurts quite a bit. I'm not 100% convinced that there's not a hairline fracture in there. I'll give it a few more days before getting it looked at it again, if it's still painful.

Kids, this is why we wear helmets


As for my bike, I definitely bent a spoke in the front wheel. Other than that, it might be okay. I'll take it to the shop next week to confirm.

I'm thankful, because it could have been much worse. No cars ran over me, and no broken bones (as far as I know). I lived to ride another day. This was my first real bike wreck, so I suppose I was due.

My fitness is improving and I'm starting to feel good on the bike, so I'm anxious to get back out there! It'll probably at least a week before that happens.

I wish I had a video of my self-imposed crash. I imagine I looked like an idiot! To the passerby, I was a cyclist who suddenly flipped over, like I had hit an invisible trip wire. Classic.

If I'm in that situation again, I'll definitely dismount my bike, walk to the side of the road, stretch and let the cramp go away before riding again (and bring a mustard packet with me). Lesson (hopefully) learned.


Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Speed Record

Last Friday, I had limited time to fit in a bike ride, so I decided that, if I was going to have to keep it short, I might as well try to make it a tempo ride. It ended up being more like a time trial.

The numbers:

Miles: 17.23
Time: 52:12
Avg MPH: 19.8

I've never averaged 19 mph on a ride before, let alone nearly 20! I think the key was staying down in my drops for about 95% of the ride (I had to get up on the hoods very briefly because my hands were falling asleep and it was getting difficult to change gears).

Granted, this wasn't a very long ride and I doubt I could sustain that pace for too much longer, but it was a nice change of pace, so to speak. Hopefully it's a sign that my fitness is improving and that my average pace for my less intense rides will start creeping upwards. I'm thinking of doing this ride as a fitness test every few weeks, just to see if there's any improvement.

That ride (my most recent) puts me at 548 outdoor miles so far this year (with another 53 on the indoor trainer). Still not the mileage I'd like by this point, but my plan is to start bumping up my weekly mileage now that running is temporarily out of the picture. Work has been very busy for me lately, so it's been tough to get out. As the weather continues to improve and get warmer, I may have to start doing early morning rides, even though I much prefer late morning riding.

Speaking of work, I better get back to it...

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Weight, Weights, Wheels & Whatever

One of my goals for the first half of this year was to shed the weight I accidentally-on-purpose gained last year ("The Year Of Fat Assening"). After several weeks of losing a pound followed by regaining that pound, it seems like my body has finally shifted into weight loss mode. I've now lost 10 pounds this year, and 18 since April of 2014. I'm closing in on where I want to level off. Maybe another 3-5 lbs. will do it. Now that the momentum has kicked in, I need to make sure I can pull up the nose of the plane before crashing. The semi-controlled diet plus being more active (mostly via cycling) is finally working. I may yet have some abs to show sometime this summer.

I've also been lifting weights a little more intensely. I've decided to keep the weight relatively light, while focusing on my form and reducing rest time between sets. I'm not doing a cardio workout with weights, but I'm trying to be as efficient as possible. I'm starting to see some results, which is always motivating, even though I'm only lifting 1-2 times per week.

The cycling seems to be going well, although I do get bored riding the same course, alone, over and over. I do plan on addressing both of those issues soon. I've got a couple of friends I can probably ride with on occasion, and I'll probably venture away from the Centennial Trail and onto the local roads more often. It's been quite windy here lately, so I've had some interesting rides. I rode 32 miles yesterday (16 out, 16 back). The first half was into a headwind. I averaged 16.7 mph for that portion. On the way back, I averaged 20.0 mph thanks to the tailwind.

Since my knee screamed at me last week, I haven't attempted any more running. As I mentioned before, I probably won't be getting it checked out anytime soon. Something I haven't decided yet is whether or not I want to achieve my 10,000 lifetime running miles this year, even with the bad knee. If I do, I'll have to do it with short, infrequent runs in order to avoid the excruciating pain that shuts me down every time I try to run more regularly. Not a very sexy way to achieve that goal, so I'm still undecided.

Spring is definitely here in the Inland Northwest! In fact, this week it's starting to feel like early summer. Upper 70's to low 80's. Very nice! Better keep those wheels rolling!


Wednesday, May 13, 2015

The Vocally Gifted Woman of Size is Ready!

(Non-PC version: The Fat Lady is ready to Sing!)

I left the house not long ago, RockTape on my knee, ready for a short, slow run. The first three steps were pain-free. After that quick tease, some of the most intense knee pain I've felt so far kicked in every time my left foot landed. Even trying to land softly and with minimal impact doesn't alleviate any of the pain.

Damn.

So, I guess my quest for 10,000 lifetime miles is once again sidelined. As I mentioned in my previous blog, I may not be able to see a doctor anytime soon thanks to my insurance situation, so I'll have to focus on cycling and strength training until that time.

Those of you who have been through serious injuries know how frustrating this is. I've been on an injury roller coaster for several years now, and I'm beyond motion sick now.

Fortunately, the bike doesn't cause any pain to the knee, so I have to be thankful of that, anyway.

Time to change from loose shorts to tight ones...

Monday, May 11, 2015

Borrowed Time

So, the good news is that the running I've been doing lately is starting to feel pretty good, like I'm actually becoming a runner again.

The bad news is that "starting to feel pretty good" refers to everything except my left knee.

A few runs ago, the knee would hurt for the first quarter mile or so, then feel pretty decent for the duration of the run. Then, it would hurt for the first half mile. Then, two days ago, it hurt for a mile and a half before settling down. Today, I ran an easy 4 miles and the knee hurt for 3.5 miles of it!

I'm no statistician, but that's not a good trend. So, at this point, I feel like I'm running on borrowed time.

Yes, I know I'm sort of in the process of focusing more on cycling, but as a longtime runner, I can't stay away. I'm now 68 miles shy of 10,000 lifetime running miles. That number is seducing me more every time I run. I'd like to get it behind me. That's why I've continued running through the ever-increasing pain. Dumb, I know.

Not to get too personal, but another reason I've put off a doctor's visit is because of my lousy insurance. I'm self-employed and pay 100% of my insurance out of pocket. In order to afford my premiums, I've had to choose terrible coverage — basically, a catastrophic plan. I would pay a $50 copay for office visits, but anything beyond that — treatment, imaging, medical procedures — would come out of my pocket, 100%, until I meet my insanely high deductible. So that, plus the fact that we're still paying off the therapy bill for my daughter's recent concussion, is the reason that no action has been taken.

Of course, that doesn't excuse me from running on an already damaged knee.

Like I said, I'm dumb.

Anyhoo...I may have a little more running in me before the knee says "NO MORE," or I may not. Like I said, today's run was pretty painful.

On a side note, I've realized that I'm a tough runner but a wimpy cyclist. When I say "tough," I don't mean I'm fast, or even impressive. I just mean that I can run through pain, wind, cold, snow, rain, hail, hills, etc. and have no problem with any of it (I've run through all of them at once on more than one occasion, actually) but as a cyclist, I hate wind, cold, hills and rain. So, humbly, I will claim to be a tough (and dumb) runner but a sissy cyclist. So far, anyway. Hopefully I can toughen up on two wheels before long.

I also hope I can celebrate my 10,000th running mile on this blog within the next couple of months. After today's run, I'm not so sure it'll be that soon.

But it WILL happen eventually.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Finding a Groove

I feel like I may finally be settling into the beginnings of a groove. The cycling is feeling good and, surprisingly, the running is starting to feel pretty good.

After my (unintentionally) fastest-paced bike ride of the year yesterday (32 miles @ 18.5 mph avg), I ran an easy 4 miles today. My always cranky left knee whined again for the first 1/4 mile or so, but then it felt completely fine the rest of the run. I was pleasantly surprised and a bit perplexed. I'm not sure if that pattern will continue. Given my history, I'm cynical.

Moving forward, I'd like to continue alternating cycling and running days, hopefully fitting in three of each per week, along with one or two weightlifting sessions to maintain strength. My often unpredictable work schedule will dictate whether or not I can stick with that approach. But, regardless, a mixture of both seems to be the best approach for my injury-prone body.

Oh, and if you're keeping track at home, I'm now 82 miles shy of 10,000 lifetime running miles. That goal should be reached by sometime early this summer, knock on wood.

Once I hit that mark, you're all invited to my celebration party, with bouncy castles and creepy clowns...

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

32 Miles and The Itch

After not doing any cycling last week (my bike was in the shop getting tuned up for most of the week), I finally got out for a ride yesterday. I rode 32 miles on the Centennial Trail, mostly next to the Spokane River. That ride is becoming a staple in my training. It can get a bit boring, but it seems like a good distance for me at this point. Long enough to be considered a long-ish ride, but not long enough to take over my entire day (and wipe me out in the process).

Yesterday's ride, however, didn't feel all that great. I had no reserves at all.  When I'd push a little on an uphill, I could tell there wasn't much oomph in my legs. In hindsight (after waking up with a sore throat and runny nose this morning), I'm apparently coming down with a cold. Either that, or my allergies are really intense right now. Since colds have been going around, I'm assuming that's it.

I had a long ride planned for Friday, but my riding partner can't make it, so I'll either hold off (if I still feel lousy), or do a shorter, easier ride. Looks like it's going to be pretty windy the rest of the week, so that'll probably dictate my plans, too.

Now, there's that itch I alluded to. I hope you're sitting down. It has to do with running. Even though my left knee is 100% against the idea, I'm really getting the urge to become a runner again. I can only do what my body will let me do, but I really do miss regular runs and racing. I miss the long runs, tempo runs, hill training, ice baths (yes, it's true) and the camaraderie of a running club and the racing scene. I'm also, five years later, thinking about marathon v2.0, since I wasn't happy with how the first one played out. That, though, seems like a pipe dream at this point. My body has been so rebellious when it comes to even running a couple of miles pain-free that a full marathon isn't even in the realm of possibility currently. I don't want to get my hopes up. If/when I get this knee taken care of, perhaps I can do a very slow build and see what happens.

It has now been six years since I started this blog. A lot of things have happened over the course of that time, both good and bad. The key is to just keep moving forward, in one way or another, and deal with each setback as it happens.

And, head cold, bad knee and all, I think I might go for a little run today...

Thursday, April 23, 2015

99

Hey, two days in a row of blog posts! Just like the good ol' days*.

Just a quick update on a milestone I've been chasing for many years. If you've been following along at home, you'll know that I'm approaching 10,000 lifetime running miles. Since my bike is STILL in the shop, I decided to get in a 4-mile run today (a slow one, thanks to my knee). That run put me at 99 miles away from the 10k mark. Double digits, baby!

Whether or not I can run regularly again, I will at least achieve the milestone this year. Well, unless I end up having knee surgery and recovery takes longer than expected.

So, after today's run: 9,901 lifetime running miles and counting...




*i.e. back when people other than myself actually read this blog! ;-)

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Hill Humiliation

Last Sunday, inspired by the beautiful weather, I decided to venture out on a neighborhood bike ride. I normally load my bike into my truck, then drive to a local trailhead and ride for many miles on a paved trail system which is mostly flat except for a few small, rolling hills. This day, however, I chose to take on "The Hill." This hill, which leads into and out of my neighborhood, lasts about 1.5 miles and climbs several hundred feet. It doesn't seem horrific when driving up it. On a bike, however, it's pure evil. I rode about 15 miles on local roads before returning to the base of the hill, already slightly tired. As I started climbing, I realized that my front derailleur wouldn't shift my chain down to my lowest chain ring (I have a triple), keeping me from choosing the appropriate gear with which to climb. This forced me to stop more than once to manually put the chain into the low ring. That excuse aside, I learned that I'm definitely not in hill climbing shape. Not yet, anyway.

That ride put me at an unimpressive 330 cycling miles so far for 2015. That ride also convinced me to take the bike to the shop for a much-needed tune up, where they will hopefully fix my shifting conundrum. I hope to still get in at least one ride this week!

In lieu of my two wheeled torture device, I decided to head out for a run on Tuesday. 3.6 miles, 9:53/mi pace. The knee did hurt, but it was a dull ache, not the sharp ache I felt when I last made an attempt. I think the slow pace helped. With that said, my knee has been very tender since the run.

I've ordered a neoprene knee sleeve on Amazon.com, which should arrive by Friday. I'm not convinced it will help, but for less than $20, it's a worthy gamble. I know I need to get to a doctor soon, but until then, if I can even mix in a run or two per week to compliment my cycling, I'll take it!

Oh - my daughter and I were signed up for a trail 10k for last Sunday. Due to my knee, I wasn't going to run it, but I was going to take Natalie there & cheer her on. Well, she woke up with a bad head cold that morning and wasn't up to the challenge, so neither of us made it there. Oh well...there will be other races!

Thursday, April 9, 2015

A Wee Bit o' Speed

Due to a quick trip out of town, my cycling efforts are being limited this week. Thanks to bad weather, I rode my trainer for an hour on Monday. After a day off on Tuesday, I rode outside on Wednesday. 32 miles (out and back course) in a tad over 1:45, for an average of 18.2 mph. That's my fastest pace of the year so far, and it felt good (although I think I strained my upper left hamstring pushing hard uphill). The speed is slowly coming around, although I'm not out there racing. What was encouraging was that my legs felt kind of flat during the ride, not fresh like they did during last Friday's 40 miler, and yet the pace was still quick.

There are obviously some similarities between cycling and running, but I feel like a novice cyclist. I'm still discovering what I can do on the bike, and how things should feel at a given pace, or under different conditions (i.e. wind). I may never have the deep love for cycling that I've had for running, but it's growing on me every time I ride.

I have a new (modest) bike mileage goal this year: 2015 miles (See what I did there? Clever, right?) I know some of you run that much in a year, but I'm keeping it conservative as I ease into the sport. I've ridden just 249 miles this year, but with the nice, warmer weather on the way, I'll likely be putting in a lot more mileage. I hope to ride regularly into late fall, and even a bit during the winter, if conditions allow.

I'm also tentatively planning on doing a long ride in late September with a friend. It's a big, organized ride, with many distance options. I'm leaning toward the 84 mile ride. I'll be training myself to ride longer distances leading up to that. With a relatively easy 40-miler under my belt already, I don't see any problems with building up to that by September.

Ride on!

(maybe I should change the name of my blog? Or will I be resurrected as a runner again someday...?)


Sunday, April 5, 2015

OUCH!

The running has, once again, come to an end. At least until I get this knee checked out. I went out for a run last Thursday and made it .4 miles (as in less than a half) before I had to stop and limp home. Every time my left foot landed, I felt a very painful stab below my kneecap. Whatever's going on in there, it can't be pretty. So, until I find a doctor and get it looked at and/or scanned, I'm done running. I'm only 106 miles shy of 10,000 lifetime running miles, so one way or another I'll at *least* get that done, eventually.

On a brighter note, the cycling is going well. I only managed to get in two rides this week (Monday and Friday), but Friday's ride was a very nice 40-miler. My legs felt fresh and strong (probably since I hadn't ridden since Monday) and even the sporadic headwinds didn't bother me that much. I can tell my bike legs are coming back. So far this year, I've done 9 outdoor rides for a total of 217 miles (plus another 31 "miles" on the trainer), so I haven't put in as much saddle time as I'd like yet. As both the weather and my fitness improves, I'll be getting out more often. I'll likely keep it to 3 rides per week through the end of April, though, with one of those rides being a long ride.

I still have a lot to learn about cycling, especially when it comes to bike maintenance. Running is so much simpler! But I'd rather ride than do nothing at all. So let's roll!



Saturday, March 28, 2015

A Good Week

I just finished a good week of endurance training, at least given where I'm at with my current level of fitness. I rode my bike three times (the first two were an hour each on the trainer), including a 30.4 mile ride on Friday at a decent pace (17.6 mph), for me, anyway.

I also ran twice, 3 miles each, both at about an 8:54 pace. These were my first runs in 7 weeks. As expected, my left knee is still giving me pain, but it's not as bad as when I was forced to quit back in January. I'm considering buying a knee sleeve to add a little support. I'm holding out hope of running a trail 10k with my daughter on April 19th, even though I know it won't be fast. I'll be paying close attention to the knee between now and then, with the knowledge that I may have to shut down the running again if this knee gives me too much trouble.

But it was nice to actually run again! And things are starting to feel good on the bike finally, too.

And I lost two pounds this week!

Maybe this old guy can get fit again after all!

Monday, March 23, 2015

Wheels Rolling

The weather has been agreeable enough lately to allow me to get in some rides lately. I'm up to 6 outdoor rides this year (and one hour on the trainer, today, in fact) for a total of 121 miles. My longest ride so far has been a little over 26 miles, and my pace has averaged right around 17 mph. Nothing to crow about, but I feel like my fitness is very gradually beginning to improve. While I won't claim to have become a hard-core, 100% cyclist, I'm embracing it more than before.

My daughter has a 10k trail race coming up on April 19th. I'm also signed up for the race. I obviously can't full-on race it (or even completely run it) with my left knee being a mess, but I'm hoping to maybe run/walk it, just to get out and enjoy nature a bit. I'm not sure if I can do any training runs leading up to it. I may give it a shot, but I'm not hopeful at all. I tried jogging about 20 feet while walking my dog the other morning, and the pain set in immediately.

That's about it from here in currently rainy Spokane (thus, my trainer ride today.)

I hope your running/riding/swimming/exercising is going well!

Friday, February 13, 2015

Winter Took A Break, So Why Not Ride?

It's been sunny and warm(ish) here lately so, since I'm now a cyclist thanks to my left knee, I dusted off my trusty steed and went for a little ride. It was my first ride since late July of last year! The bike didn't bother the knee at all, btw.

I rode 15 miles in just over 55 minutes, so I didn't set any speed records, obviously. I'm interested in just getting in the miles now and not about my pace. It was quite obvious that I'm terribly out of shape and have at least 10-12 lbs. to lose. I know my legs will come around and the weight will come off, so no worries there. I'll ride on the trainer indoors if I have to, but I'm not a fan of that at all.

I just hope winter continues its hiatus so I can keep getting my wimpy, fair-weather behind out there for more rides!

(oh, totally unrelated...if any of you were wondering about the beard — and I'm sure you weren't — it's mostly gone now. I did keep the mustache, soul patch and a short goatee. The 'stache is long, so I can style it into a handlebar. Kind of an old-school retro look...)


Pre-shave
Post-shave. Just need a pipe now.


Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Well, THAT Was Fast!

A recent running time? My ability to lace up my running shoes? How quickly I actually showered after running?

Nope.

My "comeback." It lasted all of five runs, for a total of 16 measly miles.

The left knee couldn't take it. It had hurt for part of each of those five runs, but during run #4, it actually started hurting less. That made me hopeful. Today, sadly, those hopes were dashed. I ran 4 miles and, during the first mile, the pain was terrible. I nearly stopped. I continued, and the pain diminished a little. Then, with about a half mile to go, it returned. I probably altered my gait to compensate, since my right knee was also sore after the run.

I can tell my left knee is really messed up. When I shake that leg (like you'd do if you were trying to loosen your quads), I feel a sharp pain under my knee cap. Going up and down stairs also hurts. Of course, I already paid for the 10K I was planning on running with my daughter. I just don't see how it's going to be possible to run it.

At nearly 48 years old, I think I've reached a time in my life where I need to stop pushing through things that hurt my body. 

I can't have surgery just yet (not until after bowling season is over, anyway. I'm having a good season!) I'll most likely switch to cycling, weather permitting (or just ride on my trainer) to get my cardio fitness back. I'm now only 116 miles away from 10,000 lifetime running miles, so I'll have to find a way to at least achieve that mark! I'm holding out hope that a simple scoping of the knee, followed by the requisite recovery, will be enough to allow me to once again work on that goal.

Until then, it's time to use other means to get fit again...