Saturday, February 6, 2016

Turning the page

I've been in a strange place lately.  I feel like I'm in that weird state between wondering if I'm in a dream or wondering if I'm actually awake.  Specifically, for a number of reasons, I can't decide if the next phase of my life is going to be another chapter in a book that I've already started or if I'm going to start a completely new book.  What lies beyond the next page?

For 2016, I gave myself a number of very cliche new years resolutions.  Read more, get a handle on my budget, twerk less, exercise more, drink less, bike more, be more present, love and be more caring, lift weights.......seriously, I'm not sure if they could have been any more "resolution 101". But, they all come from a good place of improvement and forward momentum.  All of that said, even though I'm working a plan for almost every aspect of my life, I'm having a hard time committing to what my new "fitness" life looks like.

Over the years, I've had a lot of good times with running.  Some of my fondest memories I associate with spending time on the road.  It was something that I was good at and something that allowed me to clear my head. It sounds silly to say given all the alternatives (biking, swimming, lifting weights), but I miss running more than I can explain.

As such, last weekend I decided to throw caution to the wind, hire a babysitter, and go on an extended trail run. I've recently gone on 4 mile hikes that included 2 miles of running, but this was going to be much more than that.  It would include more than 8 miles of running with thousands of feet of elevation.  Not exactly what the surgeon ordered, but at the same time not exactly what he forbid, either.

Pretty sure I see the Oregon Trail in the distance

Last weekend was the first time that I've run over 4 miles in nearly a year. It was an amazing feeling to feel the ground beneath my feet and the air rushing into my lungs.  It was not an amazing feeling when I started to walk after only 2 miles because the first 2 miles are all all uphill.  Marathon shape I am not, but I could see the faint glimmer of running glory of yesteryear.

As I ran along the trail, it became less and less "friendly" and more and more technical.  The first few miles were mostly mountain bike friendly, the next few were easily double wide runable, where as the last mile or so was all single track. The variation in elevation and surface I THINK afforded less pounding on my knee - but it still throbbed when I got home.

Not too shabby for trails

Today on the other hand I ran 6 miles on the roads averaging around 7:25/mi.  It was much more non-stopped with breaks only coming for stoplights or road crossings. (To be clear, at the turn around, I huffed and puffed while getting a drink for 60 seconds.) It was a TOUGH run, much tougher than I would like to admit it to being.  My knee is still sore, but no worse than the 10 mile run the week before, so I think that a long-ish run on the weekend will be the norm going forward.

I wore a long sleeved shirt and therefore ROASTED in the Phoenix heat

Is this post entirely about running?  Eh, probably not. Do I miss it more than I can ever imagine? You betcha.  The nice thing about my fitness journey is that it is still evolving. I have lots of blank pages to finish my story - all I need to do is start writing!

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

2016 - A year of changes

Most often when I write blog posts, I have a general idea of what I'm going to write and struggle with the title.  This time, I know EXACTLY what the title needs to be but have no idea what in the world the actual content is going to be about. I only know one thing - changes. 2016 will indeed be a year of changes for the now pudgy boring runner.

This morning I went in for my 4 month (and last) post-surgery checkup.  (I should first note that the speed and efficiency by which my surgeon racks up $300 with an office visit is a thing of beauty.) Anyway, he confirmed essentially what I had been thinking for the last 2 months:

The surgery didn't work.

I knew going in that it was going to be a 50/50 shot on fixing the issue. The patellar tendon is one that doesn't heal very well. So, what he said was that there was little more that he could do and that after about 6 more months of waiting I would know what kind of knee I had to work with.

As to not be 100% doom and gloom, he did say that there are certainly instances where it suddenly heals itself 4+ months after surgery. Plus, I am a pretty slow healer, so I could just be way behind the curve. Plus, there are a few experimental procedures that I could have done. Finally, I'm not going to hurt it much more than it already is.  So as long as I can put up with the pain, game on.  But, either way 2016 will be a year of 2000 yearly running goals or even a marathon goal.  I'm now running for FITNESS.

Hiking for FITNESS!

More hiking....FOR MORE FITNESS!

Ugh, "fitness".  How did I loath the guys at the gym who would hop on the treadmill for their "20 minutes of cardio". Now I am one! Irony is a cruel mistress. So, 2016 will have me focusing on my fitness instead of my marathon goals.  What does that mean?  Well, I think that it means that I'll be doing a lot more:

  • Biking (which, doesn't hurt my knee TOO bad)
  • Hiking (I might try a 14'er w/ Laura to see how my knee does. What is the worst that could happen? Fall off a cliff!? Pshhhh)
  • Swimming (I really need to join a gym w/ a pool)
  • Pushups (Hellooooo new years resolution)
  • ??????

So, the blog might change in focus a bit.  But, so long as beer has an ungodly amount of calories, I'll still be doing something to burn them off!

 Stomach sweat says "Ohhhhhhhh!!!"

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Happy 2015!!

One of my most favorite things to do is to send out a Christmas letter with my yearly Christmas card/pictures. Since I'm trying to dust off my blog for the new year, what better way to get the posting started with some recycled content!  Enjoy!

Merry Christmas and happy holidays from [my son] and I! The time of year has come to grab a cup of hot cocoa, snuggle up by the fire, and complain about how 18 months of presidential campaigning is entirely too long. Christmas letter time! That oh so sacred tradition of one-upsmanship that we all know and love.  So, sit back, relax, and enjoy all of the highlights (and none of the lowlights, OBVIOUSLY) of the last 12 months!

[my son] recently turned 5 and has just as much energy as you’d expect a 5 year old to have. His hobbies now include smacking me with his “Life Saber” / talking about Star Wars, trying to haggle deals at any opportunity, and making sure he gets to school before his friend (don’t ask, I don’t understand it either).  He loves to draw and write words - even in spite of not quite knowing how to read. If you give him a story, he'll write each of the words verbatim.  He is starting with the beginning stages of reading but hasn't quite mastered mushing all of those letter noises into actual words.  But, his teachers say he is at the head of the class, is loving & caring, so there isn't more that I could ask for.

In spite of the Arizona heat, we both continue to stay active.  [my son] played soccer in both spring and fall and I was fortunate enough to be one of his coaches. The saying "those who can't do, coach" certainly applies! We also recently took the training wheels off of his bike and, after a good push, he's been off and pedaling.  Unfortunately, I'm slightly less active than I would like to be having injured my knee early in the year. One surgery and a billion physical therapy sessions later... it feels ever so slightly better (and the surgeon was able to make another Ferrari payment). But, I'm sure I'll be back to making everyone feel guilty about not running marathons soon enough.

Other than running, things in my life have been going along swimmingly! Earlier this year, I finally convinced my best friend that I’d also make a good boyfriend (joke is on her!!).  Laura is the love of my life and I'm a better person for having met her.  A fellow runner, over the last year we've found that we're essentially the same person with the exception of how much she likes mushrooms.  Seriously, I can't believe people actually eat those things.

On the career front, I’m still plugging along at [my job]. For most of the year I was a Release Manager (don’t worry, the people I work with don’t know what that is either) but was recently promoted to Director of Billing Services. That means that I am literally responsible for making all of the cable bills and fix any issues that customers have will billing. Maybe next year I can get promoted to the IRS tax man or the dentist! I still can’t give you free cable, but if you live in one of my markets, I can certainly turn yours off if you don’t pay!

Kidding aside, if you’re receiving this letter, you touched me in some significant way. [my son] and I couldn't have gotten through 2015 without you.  Wishing you a happy and healthy 2016!!!

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Briefly Boring: Retore? Strained?

A week ago was a Wednesday like many other before. I went to work, came home, cooked dinner for my son, and was starting to clean up.  It was only when I was walking around my kitchen island and my knee gave out that something went horribly wrong.

My knee giving out isn’t terribly uncommon post surgery. It probably happens every 2 weeks or so since. It’ll go out and I’ll catch myself with my other leg – only a slight twinge in my knee and a hitch in my step to show for it.  This time, however, was very different.  I was in mid stride which meant that all of my weight was on my bad knee.  So, when it gave out I instinctively snapped my bad knee straight (essentially doing a single leg squat w/ my bad knee) followed by white hot shoots of pain and maybe a swear.  Bummer.

It swelled up, was hot to the touch, and my range of motion was significantly reduced….. Basically the trifecta of BAD THINGS. My Physical Therapist said that I likely strained it, but possibly indeed retore it.  Time will tell.  He said that if it doesn’t feel better after 2 weeks, something is really bad.  I previously had an appointment with my surgeon for my 8 week checkup next week which was good because my PT said that he wanted me to schedule an appt with him as a result of my pain anyway.

My recovery has been slow and has honestly plateaued a bit, so this recent setback has me frustrated beyond words.  But, ON THE BRIGHT SIDE, I’m well past my deductible met.  So, if I need surgery again, it is basically free!  

Monday, October 12, 2015

Solo Family Camping

While I promised that I'd blog more with shorter posts, I still do want to post the super long one every so often. Think of it like watching Netflix...Sure, watching one or two epps at a time is great, but every so often you have to park it on the couch for 5 hours and let your ass go numb. As such, below is my 400 picture post about my 24 hour camping trip.  Think of it as a 3 part race report about a 5K.  No one cares about my thoughts at mile 1.45, but by god they're going to hear about them anyway!!

Ever since going camping with Ryan and all of his super fun neighbors a few months back, I've been looking for weekends to go camping. Granted, the camping that we did with Ryan was somewhat glamorous, (I've recently learned about the term "glamping" to describe it) but I really enjoyed being able to unplug.  So, with a weekend of just my son and I hanging around, I decided to seize on the opportunity and head into the mountains.

I decided that we'd head to the "closer" mountains in Tonto national park around Payson.  Its a quick 90 min drive north east of Phoenix and sits at a brisk 5,300 feet above sea level. Low enough to not be TOO cold, but high enough that 2-3 beers makes me want to scream Taylor Swift songs at the top of my lugs....all the while gasping for air because you know...5300 feet.  So, it is still remote, but not so much that if I burnt all of my hair off in a flash-fire accident I couldn't still get somewhere safe.

One thing that I needed to do before this camping trip was pick up a few things. You know, like a tent, a pan to cook in, a grill to cook on... little things, really. Ryan had offered to let me borrow his (and offered to let me borrow about everything else of his) but I figured that I might as well get some of the stuff on my own. So, a quick $200 purchase later, I had a tent and all the fixings to head out.  Unplugging sure is expensive!

Obviously, important prep for camping - light saber practice
(Along with a post-soccer lolipop)

Although, my son calls it a "Light Saver"

No seriously, we didn't do this for like 10 minutes in target....

So, with everything all loaded, we were off to the mountains.  The drive up was pretty, if not a bit crazy.  We were going highway speeds on mountain roads (and getting passed left and right like we were standing still - who ARE these maniac driers?) which requires a lot of focus. That said, whenever I could, I was trying to take in the scenery.  The AZ mountains start off desert like (exactly like you would think AZ would look like w/ lots of phallic cacti) but then looks more and more like Colorado with pine trees everywhere.

Getting a picture while driving is hard.  

Sadly, my navigator only made it 45 miles before he was OUT

This was just outside of Payson, starting to look like the mountains!

One of the things I was most looking forward to was checking out a local brewery in the area. THAT Brewery is just outside of Payson in a sleepy town called Pine. It seemed like it was 1/2 sports bar, 1/2 family restaurant, and 1/2 biker bar.  Their beer was good, my son loved coloring with their crayons, and the pizza was super cheap at $10 for what would normally be considered a large.  I took the opportunity to celebrate the drive up with a nice taster of all of their beers.

6 beers in a cupcake tin. Would have been better if there were cupcakes.

So, with the essentials taken care of, we were off to the actual campsite itself.  A friend at work had told me about some disparate / free camping outside of town that was well developed but still remote. He delivered on all counts.  The only "difficult" part was the last mile or so of the drive was on a rather rugged dirt road.  Never one to be stopped, I put my (otherwise small) sedan into a low gear and started up the road!!! Only to be stopped by a guy w/ a big truck: "Umm, do you know where you're going son? It gets pretty hairy up there."  Psh, little did he know how determined I was to go camping. There were certainly some bumps, but nothing that stopped us from getting to a great campsite and setting up camp.

Of course, by "us setting up camp" I mean "my son light sabered trees and bushes while I set up camp".  The brand new tent wasn't hard to put up at all and everything else went together over the course of 30 minutes.  Not bad! The campsite we chose actually had 3 separate locations for tents along with 3 separate fire-pits that had already been built.

Camp it set up!  The only thing missing is a beer in my hand and some FIRE! What could go wrong?!

Step 1: Beer.  Step 1 is always beer.

Step 2, FIRE!  Camping can start now.

As is the case with all of my camping trips, the thing that I look forward to most is the campfire.  And, as an extension to the campfire - cooking on the campfire.  This time for some reason the cooking did NOT go well.  The campfire was either roaring at approximately 5,000,000 degrees or was lukewarm. So, I burnt the first batch of food to a crisp and undercooked the second batch a bit.  So, on average I cooked everything perfectly.

Yeah, those black hockey pucks? They used to be burgers.

S'mores were SPOT ON, though. 

One thing that I didn't think about was firewood.  Normally, I'll just go hunting around for firewood caveman style, but since it was a bit late in the season, I think all of the good stuff had been taken. So, I relegated to burning my clothes and singing around the campfire naked. So, while I had lots of heat to cook with, I didn't have much to light the campsite into the night.  That meant that there were a lot of activities by candle light and I went to bed at like 8:30pm because I was getting too cold.

The best pic of the weekend - my son coloring by firelight 

Overall, it was really fun to get away from work, life, and the hot weather of Phoenix. I really like how I have most of the "stuff" that I need so future camping trips won't cost too much - just some money for food and firewood.  I did have a few lessons learned: More firewood, coats, pot holders, and less clothes.  It seems that I never brush my teeth change my clothes when I go camping.

But, before I knew it, it was time to pack up and head back down to Phoenix. Life could be ignored no more. It had started to sprinkle early in the morning, so I packed all of the stuff up in a HURRY to try to beat the weather.  Fortunately, no sooner did I get everything into the car that it started POURING down rain.  I get the feeling that I'll go camping a lot in the future!

Rain clouds!

Monday, September 28, 2015

Briefly Boring: Scars and Beer

My knee recovery is coming along.  Still no running until around Thanksgiving, but I’m doing more and more without remembering that I had surgery exactly a month ago. To that end, tonight for the first time I’m going to go for a very short swim.  I had to wait until my knee incision closed up before I could get into a public pool – longer than normal because it wasn’t all laparoscopic so I have a 2” incision.  Lord knows what kind of e coli or herpes I would get if I swam with an open wound.  That said, I will be the first to admit that I don’t mind the big incision on my knee. Gives me some street cred… “What is up, ladies? Want to see my knee scar? Ignore all of the stubble on there from where the surgeon shaved it.

Ignore that this is totally a picture of my crotch

Actually, while it is getting better, my knee is a bit sore today. I brewed 15 gallons of beer this weekend and pushed my knee to the limit with all of the heavy lifting.  But again, I think that can only add to my street cred, right?  “Yeah, I screwed up my knee again but it was while I was brewing beer. Yeah, there was fire involved…no big deal.  So, just ignore my limp while I chop wood and spin these mad beats” (I assume that is what hip/cool guys do now?)

100% sure my neighbors thought that I was making meth

The fruits of my labor!