Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Family Hiking

Yesterday I was joking with Laura that my running blog is quickly becoming a hiking blog. I’m not quite sure what I think about that…. Thankfully she also likes hiking!  Also thankfully, misery loves company since we are both hurt in some form or fashion,

In spite of pulling the plug on all biking and elliptical, I haven’t yet stopped hiking. Similar to how a hard core drug user still allows themselves to smoke cigarettes, I just couldn’t quit everything that used my legs cold turkey. "Just one more mile, then I'll stop for good. JUST ONE MORE MILE!"  I’m not sure ANYONE would want to be around me if I wasn’t able to do SOMETHING.

Quick note, I’m sure there are lots of other aerobic activities I could be doing that wouldn’t aggravate my knee – swimming being the most notable. I would love to start swimming laps however based on my current situation the logistics prohibit it. (I really don’t like pulling the single dad card, but that was basically me doing that.)  I don’t belong to a gym and am essentially limited to what I can do either at home or at my work gym. I am 100% making excuses on why I haven’t started swimming, but I’m okay with continuing to make them for another month or two.

With that said, this past weekend my son and took advantage of the below normal temps (25 degrees below normal!) I went on a pretty substantial hike.  We hiked the first part of the same exact trail that I ran a month or so back that totaled 2.5 miles round trip and about 2000 feet of gain.

This wasn't our first time out - we attempted this a few weeks ago with disastrous results.  There was whining, tears, and even some "I'm just going to wait here for a little bit and wait for it to cool off". Not to mention how bad my son was. I tried to look for some pictures, but I am not sure that I took too many that were blog worthy. That said, it was amazing how this time was completely different in almost every single way.

Jeff's dog has lots of....energy

What probably made the most difference was having my buddy Jeff and his family there. Jeff’s oldest is a few years older than my son so my son was really trying to keep up as much as possible.  This, of course, is in contrast to last time where it was a constant battle to keep him moving faster than I move after the all you can eat pizza buffet (slow).  Just kidding, as Laura will tell you, when I walk I pretty much always shuffle / drag ass at BEST.

Daddy, put these rocks in your pocket, I think they are made out of gold

Other than having someone else than boring dad to hike with, the slightly cooler temperatures and fewer gnats made for lots more playing along the trail and a lot less "sitting down to rest". Although, to be clear, there was plenty of sitting to rest. In the middle of the trail. With no warning. Even if someone was coming. Something to work on for sure.

Without warning, what I turned around to more than once

As the morning wore on and the 12 pounds of rocks in my pockets weighed my pants down we both got a bit tired. We rock paper scissored to see who got to ride on who, and unfortunately I lost. Truth be told, since we were both out getting exercise, I wasn't mad at all about giving him a lift for the last half mile or so.

"ONE RULE, if you pull my hair or smack my head you are walking again."
(I really really should't have to have that rule....)

Either way, I couldn’t be more proud of how my son did and how much fun we had. I really hope to continue to do things like that for as long as I can claw him away from videogames or whatever else tugs at his attention as he grows up.  (Did I say videogames? I meant doing long division, Netflix, reading chapter books, and whatever else good parents have their kids doing now adays that isn't videogames.)

Mission Accomplished

Friday, May 15, 2015

Pulling the plug on cardio

Bueller? Bueller? 

Um, he's sick. My best friend's sister's boyfriend's brother's girlfriend heard from this guy who knows this kid who's going with the girl who saw Ferris pass out at 31 Flavors last night. I guess it's pretty serious.

I AM STILL HERE!!  Replace sick with “screwed up knee” and replace 31 flavors with “French fry kiosk” and you pretty much nailed it. Knee still hurts.  In fact, it is not getting much better. (Also, why are french fry kiosks not a thing that exists??)

It is funny, I always thought of my blog as a blog about nothing.  The Seinfeld of running blogs. It was my random thoughts loosely coupled with running – but honestly just an outlet for my musings and innuendo. But, as it turns out, the running portion of the blog was the catalyst for most of my good and interesting posts. Without running to act as the peanut butter to my sarcasm’s jelly, I don’t have a ton to talk about.  Mix that with being pretty busy at work (with not a lot to show for it, doh) and the blog got put on the back burner.  So, in the spirit of Ferris Bueller, here goes nothing!

Running recovery is coming along, albeit at a slower pace than I would like. Meaning: PAINFULLY SLOW. I’m going to actual Physical Therapy twice a week now (vs Active Release Therapy before – which was sort of a bust) which I can already tell is helping a lot. I think Physical Therapy is Latin for “small movements to make you feel like little baby”. I certainly have some weaknesses going on because more than a few of the exercises are super hard for me.  Specifically, most of the ones where I present my crotch for all to see (which, is interesting because I feel like I do that type of thing a lot in my day to day life so you think I would be good at it).

As long as I keep showing progress, it sounds like I might start to run again in July. No, that is not a joke, IN JULY. The good news about starting to run then is that the AZ temps at dawn will be a balmy 80 degrees or so. Lovely.  But, I am willing to do what it takes to get back out there.

I had been biking and even hitting the elliptical, but after a 90 min session on Tuesday that left my knee quite sore, I might have to give that up.  The going assumption that both my doctor and I had was that cross training was not hurting my knee – but it seems like it is indeed causing additional inflammation.  Sooooo, I think that I might take the next week or so completely off to see if I can heal the inflammation and get my recovery FIRMLY on track. If nothing else, I'll keep doing the pelvic thrusts my PT prescribes. Clarifying, I'll be doing even more than I normally do in my day to day life.

But, in between bitching about my knee, life goes on.  My son and I have been as busy as ever, most recently doing man things like playing pull my finger cutting wood and building things. He LOVES to "work" with my powertools so I take him along during as many Home Depot trips as possible.

"Daddy, you're a crazy driver sometimes"

Two weeks ago had us building a framework to mount my TV on the wall (long story), which involved half a day of sawing, measuring, and more than a few juice box breaks. I had been holding off on a few of my home improvement type activities in favor of buying furniture, but who needs a formal living room when you can user power tools!?!?

Motorcycle, propane tanks, saws, bikes, 2x4s... what is not for a 4 year old to like!? (or, for that matter, a 33 year old) #DadLife

The sucky part about pulling the plug on all cardio is that I was finally gaining the leg strength to be able to actually push hard on the bike / elliptical.  The trick, I've found, is to set the resistance a few notches higher than I think I should and just figure shit out / ignore your legs screaming in pain. That is how you're supposed to workout, right? (Only slight sarcasm there.)

After a particularly hard elliptical workout. Kept my HR above 180 for 30 min. Yeehawww

Finally, Laura was in town last weekend and I finally convinced her to go on a quick motorcycle ride. She "didn't completely hate it" which I will take as a complete win and will obviously start planning our cross country motorcycle ride ASAP.  I'm headed to Colorado over the Memorial Day weekend and fully plan to tell my knee to suck it up and go on some more additional hikes.  (Related: I'm a terrible patient.)

Mastered the MOST important part of motorcycle riding - the selfie

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Knee Diagnosis and Colorado Trip

Does anyone else have that friend that, no matter what, always talks about the same stuff every time you see him? Day after day regardless of the topic, everything seems to come back to this schmuck's story of buying his new car and oh my god can you believe what good of a deal I got and can you smell the Italian leather?! I am now that guy. After 10 weeks of no running, 4 weeks of Active Release Therapy, and more bike miles than I would like - I finally went to the best sports medicine doc in town and have a diagnosis on what is wrong with my knee...and you're going to hear about it.

Chondromalacia patella, tendonitis of the patellar tendon, an ass that won't quit, bursitis of the patella, and eyes as deep as the ocean is wide general patella maltracking. Translation: my knee is horked.

Essentially, the back of my kneecap has been rubbed raw, the tendons & bursa sacks in the front of my knee are all inflamed, and I'm the next George Clooney generally speaking my kneecap doesn't work like it should.

The doctor actually said that I have a genetic condition generically called "extreme patellar mobility". I always thought that everyone could move their kneecap around - I guess not. Having that makes me highly susceptible to all of those big words up above AND is likely the cause of wearing those stupid knee straps.

The solution isn't a shot or surgery like I feared - instead it is even more dumb physical therapy. While I do NOT want to get cut open, I had a lot of questions for the doctor on why it still feels just as bad as it has 2 months ago in spite of doing some active release therapy and not running but once. Essentially the answer was that I haven't been doing the strength training that I need to be doing which is causing my knee to continue to scrape along during normal daily activities.

Long story short the doctor did convince me that PT was the right thing to do.  So, I'll get that scheduled ASAP. 4-6 weeks later I should be able to start running. Additionally, we spoke about the activities I COULD do and biking, ellipting. and even hiking are still on the list. Which, is a good thing because I did a LOT of hiking this weekend.


This past weekend I was in Colorado visiting Laura, getting my fill of rocky mountain air and craft beer. Since I am somewhat limited to the activities I can do with my stupid knee, the highlight of the trip was a 6 hour 8.4 mile hike outside of Boulder. Because that is what smart people do when they have injuries - they test them by pushing the logical limits of how far they should go. (I'm an idiot.)

The hike was amazing! 3000 feet of vertical that covered all sorts of terrain. It had prairie sections, boulder climbing, and normal 'stair step' hiking. I'm almost certain that neither of us knew quite what to expect while hiking with each other, but it turned out to be the highlight of the trip.

Top of the mountain! (Overlooking Boulder.  That haze is likely pot smoke.)

One of the most bizarre things that we found while hiking were a few piles of strange white foam.  I had seen this before in Colorado, so I can only assume that it has something to do with the altitude or possibly the marijuana. Do bongs make foam?

What is this STRANGE white foam??

Being the inquisitive man that I am, I knew that I needed to go in for a deeper look.

Turns out, this strange foam was COLD and DIRTY (thats what she said)

Not one to let any senses be underutilized, I went in for the real thing:

This strange cold foam tastes like E Coli

Lest you think that I did nothing but hike for 6 hours, I also did a little light shopping while on the main drag in Boulder. Of particular note was the candy store because....well, it is a freaking candy store.

Coonskin hat? Check. White guy duckface? Also..... check. 

Unfortunately, before I knew it, it was time to go back home to the desert. Fortunately, I am scheduled to go back sooner rather than later as the trips home are always a bit bittersweet. Hopefully my knee will cooperate and I'll be able to log a few actual running miles. But, if not, it is good to know that hiking with Laura is a great alternative.

Amazing the difference 90 minutes of flight time can make.
From pouring rain to not a cloud to be found

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Mostly Wordless Wednesday

As a man who not only loves pictures but is also very verbose, Wordless Wednesday is a bit of a sham, but here we go! 

I didn't choose the carb life, the carb life chose me

I would love to know what goes through someone's head when they decide to put something like this on their car: 
"PERFECT. This will cause not one but multiple ladies want to ride in my car!"

The other day I took my son out to eat at a restaurant after a quick trip to Goodwill. I had bought him two (plastic) model cars for $2 total - the kind that come disassembled and you glue / paint them to complete. Fortunately, my son disassembled them in quick order.... mostly by bashing them against each other......

 .....and then we drove around with the windows down, music UP.
Actually, based on his outfit, I think this was a different day. Hmmm...

 Speaking of being cool, one recent night while I was making dinner my 4 year old decided that he needed to "fix his hair". Yikes.

Of course, soccer coaching is still going along swimmingly....

BUTT FACIAL NO MORE! Finally figured out a solution to the SUPER sensitive auto-flush sensors at work. If this is my only accomplishment this week, I will call it a success.

Finally, in spite of being hurt, I'm still going to the gym. (See also the carbs I have been eating above.) Unfortunately, the other day for the first time ever I forgot gym shorts. Almost anything else I can go without, but not gym shorts. Bummer.  So, instead of the bike I lifted weights. 

Monday, April 20, 2015

The Peaks and Valleys of Injury Recovery

Today was the 119th Boston Marathon. The Super Bowl of running!! (Or, is the Super Bowl the Boston Marathon of football?) What was once the most popular race has now become a worldwide inspiration. Since the bombings 2 years ago (my race report here) victims have overcome insurmountable odds and runners themselves have climbed their own figurative Mount Everest. While it is laughable to compare myself to the victims of the bombings, unfortunately it looks like I'm also on the uphill portion of my own Mt Everest climb.  My leg isn't healed, not by a long shot.

Of course, the irony of having a busy last week is that I wasn't able to post any updates on my training or how my leg was feeling. I really need to blog more so that my ups and downs of injury recovery aren't back to back.  One post I'm singing: "YAY I'M HEALED!"  where in the next post a week later I'm moping around saying  "CRAP I"M STILL HURT".  If you want the happy post, check it out here or below.  This post is going to be more on the Debbie Downer side.

Back when I was coaching and one of my athletes was significantly injured, I would always remind them of a saying I loved: "Recovery isn't linear. It will not go in a straight line from injured to healed, instead you'll have lots of setbacks and surges forward before you're 100%".  Rarely do people wake up from a coma like they were slapped on the ass unexpectedly like on TV and rarely do injuries heal like we want.  Over the past week my knee has creaked and my hamstring had groaned. Pointing to the obvious fact that I am no where near as healed as I thought last weekend.

My knee and hamstring have, at times, felt both amazing and quite painful. $525 worth of Active Release Therapy and Physical Therapy over the course of the last 6 weeks have put me into a place similar to where I started. Essentially, no improvement. THAT is probably the frustrating part - the fact that I wasted not only money but TIME to be where I was 2 months ago with a sore knee/hamstring and nothing else to show for it.  Poor Laura had to listen to me rant about it for 30 minutes this morning. Dating me is so glamorous.

So, it is back to the drawing board on my recovery.  Doctor Google says that I might have a torn meniscus or maybe brain cancer that has spread to my knee, so it is probably time to bite the bullet and go to my normal sports medicine doc and get an MRI. I really hate to spend even more money, but my normal Rx of "not running" doesn't seem to be working at all.

So, more of the same is in store for me for the time being. By that I mean no running. As Sean said on twitter last week "The Boring Cyclist doesn't quite have the same ring to it" which I 100% agree with. So, I'll do everything within my power to get back to form. Until then, I'll be in this valley, keeping a lookout for the next peak to climb.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

South Mountain AZ Hike AND RUN!

So the saying goes: If you fall off a horse you pick yourself up by your bootstraps, get back on, and try to ignore the fact that you're sitting 5 feet in the air on top of a 1200 pound barely domesticated animal.  (Or something like that, I might have the details wrong.) This afternoon, after a full 6 weeks off and 10 weeks since injuring my hamstring and knee, I ran again.

Hiking AND RUNNING Arizona style. Shirtless and sweaty.

It was glorious. I actually wasn't planning on running when I started out. My knee was still being cranky late last week and I wasn't completely confident that my hamstring was healed. I was just going to do an easy hike in Phoenix's South Mountain park after dropping Laura off at the airport. Well, one thing lead to another and before I knew it I had drank an entire bottle of wine and was singing 'Its Raining Men' while dancing on a table I was trail running.

The top of Telegraph Pass looking out over East Phoenix

South Mountain park is the largest municipally owned park in the United States (Take THAT Central Park!) and has over 50 miles of trails running throughout. To be clear, the term "mountain" is used loosely - sort of like when people say I am "kind of funny" or that I am "basically not an ogre". It only is 2400 feet tall, but it still offers some challenging short bursts of hiking and loads of trails that are perfect for running.

In fact, most of the trails are perfect for not only actual running, but also mountain biking.  They have just enough up and down to keep it interesting but are non-technical enough to push some actual speed.  Most of the trails are JUST far enough from any highways that other foot traffic is minimal at best allowing for lots of peeing behind large cactuses self reflection.

Trails for miles and miles off on the horizon

To be clear, I didn't set any land speed records.  I hiked / ran 7.27 miles in 90 minutes with most of the running being around 8min/mile. 6 weeks completely off is a long time and I know that I've lost some fitness.  Combine that with the 4 weeks before that being a series of failed "test runs" ("Maybe I'll just run 3 miles, to see how it feels... ow ow ow I regret this") and it is any wonder I remember how to do it at all. But, in spite of no 'real' runs since the end of January, it was good to log a few relatively pain free miles.

I really do have to admit that I had a LOT of fun, though. I'm not sure if it was the hiking, the fact that I hadn't ran in 2 months, or just the fact that I was outside, but something really clicked with this workout today. I was bouncing back and forth on my toes while either bounding up or down the inclines. I never lost my footing and didn't ever seem to get too out of breath.

In life, often we can't see beyond the next turn in the path, but the surprises are worth the effort to get there

As I sit here a few hours later my hamstring is slightly achy but my knee feels great. I'm actually going to wait a few more days to do any sort of road running, but to the point in my previous post, I think that I might add hiking / trail running to my newfound fitness routine more often than not. That said, tomorrow is a new day - that currently has a bike ride on the agenda!

If you look just to the right of the cactus, you can see a cobblestone lookout tower