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.

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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




Thursday, April 9, 2015

A shift in the tide

On Tuesday, I received the approval to run again.

No one can white man dance like Stephen Colbert


Yet, here it is Thursday and I have yet to run a single mile except to the fridge in-between commercials.  But, I biked for an hour on Wednesday and today (Thursday) am getting ready to go bike and maybe hop on the elliptical….up in the gym just a working on my fitness….

I know Ross, I know.


I am starting to get the sense that my body is sort of like a broken down car. You’re broken down on the side of the road and proceed to refill the gas tank, replace the sparkplugs, and jumpstart the battery, only to find out that someone stole all of the wheels so you’re not really going anywhere anytime soon. So, no sooner did I figure out my hamstring/butt issues than I found out that I have bursitis in my knee. Bummer.

So, no running until the swelling and inflammation goes down.  Possibly later this weekend? Who knows.  The GOOD news is that I don’t have to go to the PT guy again until I go on a test run. It is like saving $150 a week without doing anything! I think that earns me a beer.

Fortunately, just like you can jam out listening to the radio in a car without wheels, I can (shockingly) continue to bike and do the elliptical while waiting for my body to cooperate. I’m not one to argue, so a biking I will go.

As the days and weeks have turned into months, I can’t help but wonder if this is the beginning of a change in the tide. Long have I rode the 100% running wave. I had no time or patience for anything that didn’t directly push forward my running goals. But, is it time for me to get serious about hanging up my running shoes part time and start to consider non-running activities not as cross training for running but instead as separate fitness events in their own right?

While certainly a Chicken Little statement, I can’t help but wonder if the lingering and compounding nature of my current injury is foreshadowing of the years to come.  I don’t think that it will be a major change in my activities, but certainly a complete tidal shift in my way of thought.  I’m honestly not sure WHAT the change will be, but I suppose I will stop looking at biking or core work as “this will increase my Vo2 max” or “this will help reduce my lateral side to side movement and direct more power to my legs” and instead “this will improve my overall fitness”.

But, who knows… Shortly before I ran Boston I had a stress fracture and had many similar thoughts. No sooner was I healed than my bike was cast aside like an empty beer bottle at a frat party. Unfortunately, I’m not 20 years old and will likely need to give my body a break every so often. I wonder if car dancing is low impact?

Since this post was a bit of a downer (maybe?) here is a pic of my son finding his easter basket. 
That easter bunny is SNEAKY.


Friday, April 3, 2015

Funny Foto Friday: Mannequin Adventures

I think I said before that my dad was in town last weekend for a quick visit.  He was primarily in town to see my son and I but there were also lots of other things going on like AZ Bike Week, etc.

Whenever he visits, he likes to go to Nordstroms as the closest one to him is 200ish miles away. When we got there, his GF and her daughter split off, my dad split off, and my son and I were left to hangout in the store / mall for a few minutes while they shopped. (I don't normally shop at Nordstroms...last weekend was no exception.)

Like most GREAT ideas, I have no idea who suggested the idea or how it came to be.... But, for the next 45 min or so, my son and I alternated between taking pictures with all of our new "friends" and playing hide-and-seek.  Below are the results.  Happy Friday!!


Daddy, lets go make some more friends!!!


Daddy, I like his glasses, can I go give him a hug and take them?

 Nordstroms: single handedly making my son douchy one trip at a time


Like usual, a complete ladies man
ACTUALLY, he looks waayyyy too comfortable with a girl on each arm.....

 Daddy, come OOOONNNN. Lets take some more pictures


I'm not sure who has the smaller head, me or him. Either way, big is in

One of these things is not like the other

Daddy, these hats are itchy

And finally, my favorite picture of the day......

DADDY!! Take my picture like I am leading the race!!


Unfortunately, no nap and loads of Nordstroms excitement left a very cranky little boy who literally fell asleep at dinner later that night.


Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

But, like is usually the case, he woke up as chipper as ever. Since he was such a good trooper during the busy day before, on Sunday I took him to Dunkin Donuts as a special treat. (Okay, fine. I just wanted coffee...)

Going.....

Going........

GONE!!! (With a bonus 'yay donuts' party dance)