Wednesday, May 31, 2017

May Totals

Call me crazy, but time is accelerating more and more all the time. Or, I'm just getting old. Both, I think.

May has come and gone and, I'm happy to report, it was a very good training month for me.

I'll get the negative comments out of the way first. My left knee is still an issue. It's not stopping me from running, but I feel pain from time to time, especially running uphill. I actually feel it more when walking or hiking than when running. Also, my right heel (the injury that hit me after my 2010 marathon) is making its presence known. Like the knee, not enough to affect my running —yet— but enough to be an annoyance.

The hip, on the other hand, seems to be very gradually improving. I was a little worried a few weeks ago that I may have re-torn the labrum, due to how sore it was. But, based on how it's felt the last few weeks, I'm pretty sure it's fine.

On to the numbers. I hit a milestone last month. I ran not one, but two ten-milers in May! It was the first time I've done a double-digit run in 18 months. While neither felt perfect (nor easy), they were confidence builders. I came out of both runs unscathed, although the above mentioned heel wasn't too happy after the second one. I also threw in one fast mile during a 4 mile run a few days ago. It felt hard, but I thought I was closer to 7:30-7:40 than the 7:17 I ran it in.

I also started mixing in some climbs in the little bit of cycling I'm doing. Since the running seems to be going pretty well, cycling is being relegated to mere cross-training at this point. My current plan is for one or two rides per week, along with 3-4 runs, and at least one weights session.

Swimming? What the heck is that? ;-)

MAY 2017
  • Runs: 14
  • Run Miles: 69.5 (highest in over 4 years!)
  • Long Run: 10 mi. (twice)
  • Rides: 6
  • Ride Miles: 141.5
  • Long Ride: 36.7 mi.
I've got my eye on a few races later this year. I'm kicking around the idea of running a little 5k on Father's Day, but I may skip it. Not only do I not feel race-ready, I'm afraid it'll kick my brain into full-on race mode, and I'll get the bug and rush my training. There are a few local 5k's in July that might work. Beyond that, the two I'm seriously considering are a 10k in Sandpoint, ID in mid-September, and the Spokane Half Marathon on October 8th. That was my very first half marathon, back in 2009. It's a tough course, but it would be fun to revisit it and compare notes.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Double Digits

Well, whaddya know? I ran 10 miles this week! No, not my total for the week, but in one run. It's been almost exactly 18 months since I've done a double-digit run.

The verdict? Not guilty...of shutting me down. I felt a few aches during the run, but nothing terrible. In fact, my hip didn't hurt as much as it had been recently. The knee wasn't an issue, either. My right heel (the injury that shut me down for a long time after my marathon) has been making itself known, so I'm a bit worried about that. But the day after the run, my heel feels fine, for whatever that's worth.

I'll stick with the three runs per week for now, with two days of cross-training and two days of weight training. Seems like a solid plan for the foreseeable future. But...I am itching to add in a little speed work. Nothing like intervals, nor anything too intense. Maybe a couple of half mile surges during an otherwise easy run. I'm starting to feel like I'm in a pace rut, where most of my runs end up being run at very similar paces to one another.

So, for this guy who "officially" retired from running a few months ago, I guess I'm "officially" back. Fingers are still crossed, though. I've witnessed this body break down one too many times to get too comfortable with the idea of being all the way "back" as a runner.

But I'm cautiously optimistic.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Plan Going Forward

After nearly 5 months of training this year (or, "training to train," I'll call it), I've evaluated my progress and what the next few months may look like.

Instead of worrying about a goal race at this point, I've decided to focus on just rebuilding a base and staying injury-free. I've proved to myself that I can run once again, but I don't know to what extent just yet. The 16 miles I ran last week has been my high volume week so far this year. That's a far cry from where I was a few years ago. While I have zero expectations about getting back the previous levels (both in volume and speed), I'm going to very slowly and gradually build weekly volume, while continuing to cross-train on the bike, and—if I can force myself—in the pool. I also started strength training again last week, including some leg and hip work that will hopefully strengthen my surgically-repaired right hip.

Speaking of which, that hip has been aching quite a bit toward the end of my longer runs (8 miles, run twice the last 2 weeks). And today, 3 days after the latest long run, the back of my OTHER hip is hurting horribly. I'm planning on running with my club tonight, and I'm hoping I'll be able to make it. I don't know why it's hurting so much, but I do notice a little pain there during my last couple of long runs, too, although it's mostly pain in my lower left back, as opposed to the hip.

My left knee still isn't right, but running in Hokas seems to have alleviated the pain while running enough to not notice it that much now, thankfully. Still, every once in a while, I can feel it if I step a certain way (or while running uphill). Comes with the territory, I guess. I'd like to sell that territory. Any buyers?

My body has become like an old MG. Very high maintenance. Always something wrong with it.

Want to go for a ride? Hope you pick the right day!
And with that, I'm off to do a little stretching and rolling to see if that gets my "good" hip feeling run-worthy in a few hours...

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Spokane Valley Running Club

A few days ago, my curiosity led me to do a search for Spokane Valley running clubs on Facebook. Lo and behold, there IS a Spokane Valley Running Club. They meet by the Buffalo Wild Wings by the Valley mall every Monday night at 6pm to run 3-4 miles. After the run, they go to Hop Jack's for a beer or two.

Not knowing anyone, I showed up last night and ran with the group. There were 11 of us, and everyone ran their own pace. I ended up mostly running with a lady who runs close to my current pace. We finished 3.8 miles, averaging 8:50 per mile. Then we all (minus one) went to Hop Jack's for a beverage.

Due to some fairly recent physical concerns, I don't drink much beer anymore, but since I didn't know these folks, I thought it would be rude if I just ran with them, then left. So, I partook. A couple of Mack & Jacks and two hours+ later, I made my way home for a late dinner of Easter leftovers.

It was a fun group. Most were my age or a little older. I joked with a friend that they were a drinking club that also enjoyed running. I found out that some of them do several group runs per week, meeting with other clubs to run and...drink beer, of course. I don't think my kidneys NOR my wallet can handle that, so for now, I think one night a week will suffice.

I've never minded running solo, but sometimes it's fun to run & socialize with other runners. I miss my old Mill Creek Running & Multisport club. This club has quite a different vibe than my old club, but I'm looking forward to making a few new friends.

Spokane Valley Running Club. Yours truly on the left.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Hokas For The Win?

If you've been following along at home for the past several years...I'm sorry. You're a glutton for punishment. But you also know that my running "career" has been a roller coaster, riding on rusting rails with no safety harness. I've had relatively uninterrupted periods of training, followed by debilitating injuries and down time. Sometimes I'm out of the game for a year or more at a time. I've officially given up on running more than once during the past few years. In 2015, I became a cyclist. I actually started enjoying it. However, one bad crash left me with a broken radius in my left arm, which required surgery to fix. Last year, I did very little endurance training. A bit of weight training, lots of walking, but only a couple of bike rides toward the end of the year, and barely any running.

This year, I decided to take a shot at triathlons, if and only if my body would allow the running.

As I mentioned in my previous post, this confirmed land mammal has mixed feelings about doing a triathlon (again, I most likely will do one, or more!), but the running is coming along much better than expected.

I'm convinced that one reason I'm able to run without as much knee pain is because of my change in footwear. Over a year ago, my friend Kenny turned me on to Hokas. I had heard about them, but never really considered giving them a shot. My first pair (which I still use) were the Hoka One One Bondi 3. The high level of cushioning was much more agreeable to my angry left knee than all the previous shoe models I had been rotating. After several runs in the Hokas, I did one run in a different brand I used to wear religiously, and the knee pain returned. That was enough to completely convert me.

I've recently added a pair of Hoka One One Clifton 2's to my rotation. I've only run in them once, but so far, so good.

There is still some slight knee pain (and my surgically repaired right hip still gets sore, but that's another story), but it's not enough pain to keep me from running through it. And, according to my orthopedist, an MRI I had on that knee over a year ago showed no cartilage or structural damage. So, as long as the pain isn't too great, I'll continue running on the mystery knee.

I'm still very cautious about celebrating my full return to running, and I'm taking it very slowly. No sudden mileage or frequency increases. But if I can very gradually rebuild frequency, mileage and intensity, who knows? (I'm NOT saying the "m" word!) I think cross-training will always be a necessity for me, even if the running progresses well.

So, maybe Hokas have helped me resurrect my running!

Fingers, toes & laces crossed...

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

It's Already April???

How can the first quarter of this year already be behind us? Wow!

Here are some March numbers, for any fellow stat geeks:

Runs: 10                                             (YTD: 22)
Miles: 45.6                                         (YTD: 90.6)
Rides (trainer): 4                              (YTD: 22)
Miles: 79.4                                         (YTD: 353)
Rides (outdoors): 2                          (YTD: 2)
Miles: 53.5                                         (YTD: 53.5)
Swims: 2 (Wow. More below)           (YTD: 12)
Yards: 2,000                                      (YTD: 22,600)

I'm still plugging along with my training, although my desires have shifted just a bit. Maybe I should say, my preferences are affecting my training.

First and foremost, I'm a pure runner at heart. It's what I've always loved to do. My body has stopped me in my tracks several times, but it's in my blood. My current "triathlon training" is built on the idea that I am no longer able to "just" run. One could also say that I'm training for a triathlon because I feel like I should. I'm not saying I do NOT want to do a triathlon, but it's certainly not a burning desire.

And that lack of burning desire centers, mostly, on swimming. I LOVE running, I ENJOY cycling, and I TOLERATE swimming. And that's being generous. I'm not sure I'd go as far as LOATHE, but it depends on the day.

I had a couple of really rough swims lately. The last one, I lasted 5 1/2 minutes and 300 yards before bailing on the workout. I was having trouble breathing, was dizzy and just didn't feel right. But even the swim before that was below par. I imagine some of this is mental, but I think I've been fighting some sort of respiratory infection lately, which seems to affect my swimming more than running or cycling.

I did manage to finally get the new bike outdoors twice toward the end of March. I rode 18.3 miles, finishing up a pretty tough hill, into a headwind, and 35.2 miles, ending with quad cramps in both legs on a gradual climb (had to call my wife for a rescue 2 miles from home, as the legs were done).

The running has been up and down, but surprisingly a bit more up than down lately. I spent a week in Maui in mid March, and managed 3 early morning runs that week, all close to 5 miles, and all close to 8:30/mi pace. Granted, they were flat as a pancake, but that pace was still a challenge. I've gradually increased my "long" run to 6 miles, running that either twice or 3 times so far. Today, I decided to push the pace and see where my fitness is. I ran 5k (3.1 miles) at exactly an 8:00/mi pace. It wasn't easy! My left knee and right hip are always an issue, but lately, they've both held up during runs, then ached between runs. I'm trying to get better about stretching and using the foam roller. I did both today right after my fast run.

So, I guess the question I need to ask myself is, do I move ahead with triathlon-specific training, doing the swim training I need, even though I'm not digging it, or do I focus more on mixing running and cycling and see where that leads? I had my sights set on the Troika Triathlon, on May 20th, but even if I get back to the pool in a serious way, I still don't think I'll feel ready to spend $85 (or more, plus a wetsuit) on an event I'm not prepared for. They do have a duathlon option, but I don't even feel ready for that!

There are more local triathlons later in the year, so I may wait to see what happens. If I can continue running (and increase the frequency and mileage) without too much pain, that will likely guide my ambitions.

But these days, I have to take each run/ride/swim one at a time, since I don't know what my body will do at any given moment.

Makes for some interesting training, that's for sure!

Be fit and have fun, my friends!

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

February Wrap-Up, The Big 5-0, and Health News

Before I get into the deep stuff, here are my, as always, "edge-of-your-seat" numbers from February:

Runs: 8                                              (YTD: 12)
Miles: 31.4                                         (YTD: 45)
Rides (trainer): 8                              (YTD: 18)
Miles: 143.9                                       (YTD: 273)
Swims: 4 (hangs head in shame)     (YTD: 10)
Yards: 7,350                                      (YTD: 20,600)

Well, I officially made it to the half century mark yesterday (2/28). It feels odd to think of myself as a 50-year old. I remember how old that seemed to me when I was a teenager. Yet, here I am. It's better than the alternative.

Fifty means a new age group. I can't say I'm terribly excited about that, for two reasons. First, I'm nowhere near what I would consider racing shape. And, secondly, m50-54 is a VERY competitive age group! We're a bunch of guys trying to fight Father Time, proving to others (mostly ourselves, honestly) that we can still compete with the younger guys. Combine that with possibly more free time and disposable income, and you have some tough dudes to hang with.

Now, on to the "bleak at first glance" health news.

If you've read this blog in the last year and a half, you probably know that I've had three surgeries during that time: both arms and my right hip. Not one to visit the doc very often (let alone the hospital), I learned, during my surgery-related visits, that I had dangerously high blood pressure (174/106, at one point). Whether or not that was caused or enhanced by the surgeries is up for debate. It could be stress-related, given the up-and-down/deadline oriented nature of my self-employment the last 23 years. Oh, and having two teenage daughters, of course ;-)

I finally started taking blood pressure meds last October, which seems to be working well. Fast-forward to January of this year, when I found a new doctor (my previous doc left his practice), who decided to run me through every test known to man, since I was turning 50. That turned out to be a good thing, since it was discovered (after several blood, urine and ultrasound tests) that I have Stage 3 Chronic Kidney Disease. This came as quite a shock to me. I've been healthy my entire life. I'm active, eat well (usually), don't smoke, hardly drink, and have never been overweight. Kidney issues don't run in my family, either.

Long story short, Stage 3 CKD is manageable, and with diligence, can be stopped from progressing to Stage 4, or Stage 5 (total failure, requiring dialysis and/or transplant). Management for me requires me to ALWAYS stay hydrated. My doc said my kidneys start shutting down when I become dehydrated (which, apparently, was pretty frequently in my case). So, 60oz of water, minimum, every day. Also, no ibuprofen or NSAIDs, EVER! And, no contrast dyes if/when I have any scans in the future. That, and keep my BP under control.

So, really, it's not THAT big of a deal, as long as I stay on top of it.

During this "New, Hydrated Me" period, I discovered something interesting. A couple of weeks ago, I had to drink 100oz of water per day for a week. During that week, I had one of my best workouts in recent history. I did a "brick" (bike/run) at the gym. Thirty minutes on the spin bike, immediately followed by a 3 mile run on the treadmill. During the run, I actually got angry at the treadmill because I couldn't crank up the speed fast enough. I felt almost unstoppable, especially compared to recent previous workouts. I wasn't quite sure why I felt so strong that day. After that week of ultra-hydration (needed before additional blood work), I slacked off the water a bit (this was before my doctor's new edict). I then had a couple of mediocre and a couple of lousy workouts (runs & swims, mostly). I'm currently 3 days into my new 60oz+ of water per day routine. I did a 4 mile treadmill run earlier today, and had that unstoppable feeling again. I ran mile 3 in 7:52 (fast for me, lately) without much discomfort or strain at all. Therefore, my theory is that hydration makes a HUGE difference for me. That said, I certainly don't expect every run, ride and swim to feel great, now that I'm guzzling water every day. But, I would expect lousy workouts if I slip into dehydration again. It will be interesting (and possibly scary) to see if I can remain hydrated when on long rides or runs in the heat this coming summer. It'll take some planning, but I think I can manage.

Before I go, a very quick knee and hip update: both hurt just a bit when I run, but since I switched to running in Hokas, both are tolerable.

I'll end this with my own Public Service Announcement: Please get checked out by your doctor regularly! Especially middle aged men, who don't enjoy visiting the doctor. We're not invincible, no matter how healthy we appear to be.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Triathlon Training? Really?

Even while my body fights me all the way, I've decided to finally take a shot at a triathlon. It'll be a sprint tri, so I can limit my run training out of necessity.

My current training plan has me swimming, running and cycling twice per week each. I haven't stuck to that plan very well so far this year, but I'm not far off. Thanks to a particularly hard winter so far, all training has been done indoors...which has been quite boring.

I re-joined the local YMCA, which is where I've been swimming and running (on the treadmill). I have my old road bike set up on my trainer at home, so that's where I "ride."

I'm not a fast swimmer, but my endurance is improving. My always troublesome left knee is a little quirky still, but the combination of my Hokas and the treadmill seem to be acceptable, so far. We'll see how it feels once I hit the roads (and/or run in other shoes).

The triathlon is on May 20th, so I have plenty of time to prepare (and to see if I can continue running). I already purchased my tri kit, and it's just a tad small. Bought it on sale (70% off!) and can't exchange it, so I have more motivation to lose a couple of inches around my waist.

The open water swim portion of the race seems intimidating to me, having never really done an open water swim. I hope to get a wetsuit long enough before the race so I can test-drive it in a local lake.

And, having only taken it out three times before the snow hit, I'm eager to put some outdoor miles on my new Cervelo R3!

Through the first 5 weeks of 2017, here are my modest training totals:

Swims: 6 @ 13,250 yds
Trainer rides: 12 @ 158 mi
Runs: 5 @ 17 mi

Not much, but I hope to ramp up as I improve.

Happy training, y'all!

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Um...About That Last Post...

Crow Eaters Unite!

I guess I made my bed, now I'm eating crow in it. Or some such mixed metaphor.

Remember that "I'm retiring from running" post I put up back in July? Yeah, let's just forget about that. For now, anyway. Why? Well, I started "running" again about 3 1/2 weeks ago. I was curious to see how my surgically repaired hip was doing. I did a couple of run-walks with my dog. They felt pretty good. I moved up to complete runs (however short) and kept them pretty slow. The left knee started to hurt again, which has been an issue for a few years now. I saw my hip surgeon for a follow-up on the hip, and mentioned my knee to him. A different doctor had done an MRI on my knee a year ago, so he had to go look it up. He said there was no structural damage (cartilage and knee cap look fine), but there's some edema (fluid buildup). He gave me a cortisone shot, and said he could scope the knee before the end of the year if the shot doesn't help. I've since done two runs. Monday of this week, I ran 2.5 miles, and the knee felt a little better. Today, I ran 4 miles at 9:15 pace. I felt a dull ache in the knee as opposed to the sharp pain I usually felt. Although, my hip ached a bit after the run. Maybe I won't start increasing the distance nor the pace for a while.

But, I guess I'm "resurrecting" my running once again. I've lost count how many times this is.

One reason I'm trying to get back to some running is that I really want to do a triathlon next year, even if it's just a sprint. I finally bought a new bike this week — a 2016 CervĂ©lo R3. It's a very nice bike, probably better than I deserve. This was to be my Christmas present last year, but plans changed after I tore my right bicep tendon, which required surgery (and paying a huge deductible).

But, the delayed gratification was worth it. Here's my new baby:

Let's hope this bike is crash-proof. Not sure the rider will be...

I also want to start swimming again soon. Haven't done that for about 5 years!

So, that's the story and I'm sticking to it. Until I do my Brett Favre impression and retire yet again ;-)

Onward, my friends!

Friday, July 22, 2016

End of an Era

So...a rare post!

I'm sure nobody reads this blog anymore, and for good reason — I haven't posted anything in six months!

I started this blog in 2009 to document my return to running, after a several year layoff. I wrote about running my first half marathon (and several subsequent halves), my first (and only) full marathon, and all training involved en route. I wrote about my diet, my weight training, weight loss, my injuries... oh, did I write about injuries! Some of them sidelined me for months (over a year in one case), yet I "resurrected" myself as a runner, as best I could, after most of them.

As the years wore on, my body kept sending me messages that it wasn't tolerating the running any longer. Be it from poor training choices, insufficient rolling/stretching/mobility, my propensity to "overdo" things, or just biomechanical flaws. Perhaps a combination of all of those.

After my marathon in May of 2010, I developed "Haglund's Deformity," which was basically a heel bump and very aggravated achilles tendon. After months of rehab and physical therapy, I resumed running. Long story short, I then managed to pull a hamstring, tweak a calf, endure hip pain, and permanently (?) develop a sharp pain under my left knee cap every time my left foot landed while running.

I went to physical therapy for said knee issue, only to discovery that I also had a torn labrum in my right hip. I'll be having surgery for that less than a month from now.

So, with my running more or less shut down, I decided to take up the sport of road cycling in early 2015. All was going swimmingly until I crashed in May, due to a leg cramp. The urgent care clinic didn't detect it at the time, but I actually fractured my left wrist in the crash.

Riding resumed, fitness improved, enjoyment increased as I continued to ride into summer. Then, one fateful day in August, I had a violent crash that snapped my left radius. Surgery was required to insert a plate and 8 screws to hold the bone in place.

Five months later (January of this year), I tore my right distal biceps tendon, requiring yet another surgery to repair it. Yes, I had surgeries on both arms within a 5 month period. Quite fun.

To continue this ride on the "Woe Is Me Train," I tore my left calf muscle a couple of weeks ago while doing stunts off a diving board (trying to keep up with teenagers) while visiting relatives in Texas. No surgery required for this injury, thankfully.

With all that said, I believe my running days are now behind me. It took a while, but I've come to terms with it. I fell short of several of my goals (I did hit 10,000 lifetime miles last year, though.)  I can't say I'll never run again, but I can pretty confidently say I'll never again approach running like I did when I started this blog. That's not to say I regret what I did as a runner. Sure, I could have been smarter, but I enjoyed the process. I met a lot of great people in the running community (both in person and online); many that I'm still friends with today.

As I approach the age of 50 in a few months, and as I endure one injury after another, my goal now is to do whatever it takes to be fit, healthy and injury-free from here on out. Much easier said than done, especially knowing myself, but I do know that the extremes (which may not be extreme for others) don't work at all for me. My "all-or-nothing" approach has been a recipe for disaster in most cases. The well-worn cliché of "moderation is key" seems to contain more truth than I ever realized.

So with my with that, my 549th post here, my friends (the one or two of you that may accidentally read this!), I bid you farewell. Thank you for your friendship, your comments, your support, your encouragement, and for buying my parody songs! Unless there's a reason to post here again as a "resurrected runner," I think the purpose of this blog has been met. Maybe it's time to start a "Moderate Fitness" blog!

Be well, run strong, stay safe.