Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Swimming First Thoughts

My son still has the training wheels on his bike. I  tried to take them off a few months back, but he got frustrated and stopped riding it altogether. So, I caved and put them back on – probably not my best “parenting” moment. The truth is, learning a new sport is hard. It takes work and dedication to continue to try even when you know you are terrible at it and even skin your knees up a little bit. Learning to swim laps is very similar. But, since it is all that I’m going to be able to do post-op for a WHILE, I am trying really hard to learn…and failing quite impressively.

Like I mentioned before, a month or so back when I received my knee diagnosis, I asked my doctor if I could bike until my surgery. (I had stopped biking mostly out of frustration of the situation.) I received the ever so reassuring **shrug** and the response of “well, you probably can’t hurt it any more than it already is”. Hmm, okkkaayyyyyy......   His nurse also mentioned swimming. “Do you swim? You can pretty much always swim.”  With that simple statement, I started to look into it.

Now, if water sliding would provide cardio benifits, I would be SO fit!!

I don’t swim laps. Up until a month ago, I had tried swimming laps exactly twice before…. And those times were across a normal play-pool – not exactly Michael Phelps style training. In doing so I learned:

  • I’m not a fish and thus cannot breath under water
  • Related to revelation #1, water in my lungs hurts a lot
  • Water in my ears feels like one of those amazon worms crawling into my brain
  • I can have 5% body fat and still have a muffin top while wearing triathlete spandex shorts

So, when I tried to actually learn how to swim laps a month or so ago with Laura (who is an excellent swimmer), I was essentially starting from square one. Laura offered lots of great tips like “You’d be faster if you didn’t hack and cough so much” and “keep the water on the outside of your body not in your lungs”. Just kidding, she did exactly what I wanted and provided no tips – just let me figure it out on my own. I guess I am pretty thick-headed when it comes to trying to power through things on my own via brute force.

And...well... It is actually starting to work! I've swam 1000yds a handful of times while only choking on water a few times each session. The main issue that I've been having is pacing - I simply go way too fast. Either that or I just suck / don't have the fitness I need. After I do 100 or 150 yards I am GASPING for air and need to take a few moments to catch my breath. But, as long as I catch my breath every few minutes (in spite of still being impossibly hard and even more humbling), it is coming.

I think the thing that surprised me most about swimming is indeed how humbling it is. I've always been an above average athlete and am most certainly a well below average swimmer. I've had the opportunity to be lapped by Laura more times than I would like to admit - which I have no problems admitting bothered me at first. But, I've decided that I'm going to look at it two ways:  First, everyone is a beginner at everything at some point. All it takes is throwing off the training wheels and practicing more (usually after I hack up all the water I swallowed). Second, while I'll likely get better, I will probably never be "great", which is just fine. I've never wanted to be a professional swimmer (their abs? Different story) so just being mediocre is fine. Because, let's call a spade a spade, this is really a bandaid until I can do what I actually enjoy - running. Something my surgery should hopefully get me back to ASAP.

Swimming requires a lot of fuel

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Doomsday prepping for my surgery

“Well, I can always buy new knees! I can’t buy a new heart / lungs!”

That is what I would always tell people when they told me I was hurting my knees with running.  A sometimes snarky (okay, most times snarky… sorry mom!!) response to a question the answer to which hinted at my feelings of invincibility.  How could running HURT me if it was so healthy for other parts of my body?! I still don’t have a good answer to that question. But, one thing is for sure - I am certainly struggling with not only the surgery but what the future holds.

I’m essentially what you’d expect a stereotypical mid 30s guy to be like. Devilishly good looks matched only by my sharp wit and obviously my humble demeanor. I enjoy: watching football, scratching my butt, drinking a beer or two, watching football while drinking a beer and scratching my butt, and most importantly avoiding the doctor at all costs. I usually take the approach of “if it doesn’t hurt, then don’t fix it”. Preventative care usually involves a glass of wine a day (It is HEALTHY people, science said so) and a trip to the dentist twice a year (because taking care of teeth as big as mine is akin to making sure the hood of a car stays bug free). So, the string of doctor’s appointments and physical therapy appointments has me on edge.

Of course, that doesn’t even go into the surgery itself. Simply put, I’m not a fan. Not a fan to the point that I’ll likely do some sort of Doomsday Preppers style prep whereby I create a treasure map for all of the money I bury in my back yard and give it to Laura. “Hey sweetheart, here is a treasure map to my life’s savings. You can convert the coffee can of nickels to dollar bills in the lobby of WalMart.

But, much like buffing my teeth every 6 months, it is a necessary evil. I will admit though,  the anxiety of the upcoming surgery is starting to get to me a bit.  Between that and work, I’ve been a joy to be around I’m sure. I’ve been worried about the ‘big’ stuff: will I be able to run again, will my scar be cool, will I die?  You know, the usual stuff.  To mitigate that, I’ve started biking with regularity again and have even started swimming. More on each of those in a future post.  Until then, I’ll be the one gurgling in the lap pool trying to remember where his can of nickels is buried.

Take care of my life savings, Laura!!

Friday, August 7, 2015

Knee surgery update and what is next

Over the last 2 weeks, I’ve been busier than a mosquito at a nudist colony so I haven’t had a ton of time to catch up on the blog.  But, here goes the old college try….


A few days back I had my surgical consultation to find out what type of knee surgery I need to have. Most people have said that meniscus surgery is rather routine, so I was hopeful to have the “easy” kind where they cut it away vs the “complicated” time where the sew stuff together. To my surprise, I not only have a torn meniscus, but also a host of other issues as well! I’ve always liked to consider myself as an injury 1%’er.  ANYONE can require surgery for one thing, I like to have surgery for clusters of things all at once.

Turns out, not only will I need to have my meniscus trimmed, but I’ll also have my kneecap realigned, and most invasively I’ll have my patellar tendon cut open to fix some internal tears (that are causing all of my pain in the first place). The particularly frustrating thing is that the surgeon set some pretty sobering expectations on the success of the tendon healing. Essentially he said that it isn’t 100% guaranteed to fix my issue – not even 75% of a chance.  Yikes.  “So, imma gonna cut you open, root around in there like a pig looking for truffles, and see what I find. I can’t tell ya it’ll fix ya, but damn sure if it won’t be a humdinger of a good time!!” – my surgeon, probably.

Thus followed a pretty sucky conversation that rivaled the ‘sex talk’ with your parents. He asked me lots of questions like “is it currently manageable”? (no) “does it restrict your day to day activities?” (yes). The net result of the conversation was the decision to cut me open like a trout and see what we could see. At least I’ll get a cool scar?  Chicks still dig those, right? RIGHT???


On the bright side, up until the surgery, my doc said that I could basically do “anything that is tolerable” (which obviously ruled out any of the Kardashian reality shows). Unfortunately for me, that did NOT rule out one thing: swimming. I had teased the fact that I was going to look into swimming at some point, and I guess that point is now. So, this past weekend I swam laps for the 2nd time in my life. It went….exactly like you’d expect it to go for the second time in my life. There was lots of water up my nose, water in my lungs, I’m pretty sure Laura lapped me at one time, and oh did I mention that I am also really slow? This resulted in me getting frustrated and pouting for a while but also resolving to keep trying.  Afterall, running sucked quite a bit when I first started as well….and when I’m running tempo runs….or intervals….or the last few miles of a marathon….actually running sucks a lot now that I think about it! Unfortunately, my bad swim carried over into the evening when I also got my ass beat by Laura in a card game.  Being Adam is hard sometimes :(

Learning a new sports is hella hard

But at least I got to buy a lot of fun new gear!


The other day I went for a solo motorcycle ride to be alone w/ my thoughts for a while.  To be honest, the only reason I mention that is to share this outstanding picture of Canyon Lake.

My Instagram caption “Parts of the desert are ugly, but this ain't one of them.”


A week or so ago I interviewed for a new role at my current job. For internal positions, you go through the same interview process if you are an external candidate or an internal one.  They really put you through the ringer – all day interviews covering over 19 people. Didn’t get the job, but that is okay – I know the guy who did and he is a much better fit.  So, applied for a different (internal) one. I’m quickly becoming the Life cereal Mikey kid.  I’ll apply for anything!


Finally, now that I am adding swimming to my bag of tricks (if you could even call what I do ‘swimming’) the obvious question that I keep getting is:  “Adam, how do you manage to stay so humble while being so attractive and witty!?” “Adam, are you going to do an Ironman now!?!?” The easiest way to answer that is simply: not yet.  It would be really silly for me to think about something like that with a not-insignificant knee surgery on the horizon. But, that hasn’t stopped my wheels from spinning after cheering at IM Boulder last weekend.

Seems like everyone is having so much fun here! Oh, wait – no.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Diagnosis: Torn Meniscus. Next up: Surgery

Since the first week of February, my knee has been injured.  In the 5 months that followed, my road to recovery has had many false summits. I would post about an amazing run where my knee felt great - only to have it flare up again with swelling and pain. (Examples of great runs just before this post, also here... quickly followed by crushing bitch-fests here and here.) Believe me, the irony of posting "I'm back!" about 4 times over the last 5 months only to not be back isn't lost on me.  Hopefully, it is with an MRI last week and the resulting diagnosis, that I reach the TRUE recovery summit and start to get back to myself..... I have a torn meniscus and will require surgery to repair and/or trim it.

Before I could get to where I am with (hopefully) a final diagnosis, I jumped through many hoops. If I had it to do over again, I essentially would do every single decision differently.

Where did the time go!? It seems like just yesterday, I was lubing up my undercarriage with Body Glide!  Boy do I miss those days. (KIDDING! I still do it all the time for old time sake)

To summarize:
  • I somehow hurt my knee the first week of Feb
  • Like any good runner, I ignored it for the first 4 weeks or so and went on a bunch of "test runs"
  • Also, like any good runner, I self diagnosed myself (Thanks, Dr. Google!!) and did Active Release Therapy / non-prescribed Physical Therapy for a month
  • When that did nothing (shocker!) I finally went and saw my sports med / orthopedic doc who diagnosed tendinitis with 95% certainty and prescribed physical therapy
  • I then went to 10 weeks of physical therapy
  • When physical therapy did nothing (after 2 failed test runs each 3 miles long), I went to the doctor again and he scheduled an MRI
  • The MRI showed a 30-40% tear in my lateral meniscus and I was referred to a surgeon
  • Oh, and I bitched to Laura the entire time.  The. Entire. Time.

If you have never had one, MRIs are so expensive they require Vasoline to handle very interesting procedures. Even though I've had a handful in my life, I always seem to forget how loud and terrifying they are. I seriously thought the thing was going to rip apart the entire time.  Plus, it is fascinating that shooting magnetic energy at me can produce detailed pictures of the inside of my body.....all of which essentially look like I'm pregnant.

In fact, here is one of the images from my knee MRI looking straight at my knee.  As you can plainly see, I am almost certainly pregnant.  My uterus has enveloped my little peanut in a protective cocoon of whatever that white stuff is (likely, a mixture of beer and French fry grease).

I can’t wait to meet my new baby

The best news is that I am obviously going to have another baby boy!!! I mean, what else could this “appendage” be? My son is going to be so excited to have a play buddy.

Chip off the old block!

I go in for a surgical consultation on August 3rd and will know the specific course of action after that.  The silver lining is that I do indeed know what is wrong, but the process to get to where I am now has been more frustrating than trying to take off a sweaty sportsbra. (I mean, I’ve been told. I don’t normally wear those. Just sometimes I like to have a bit more support when I run.  You know what, I’m getting off track…)  I’ve spent more money than I would like to admit and more importantly spent twice the time that I should have.

But, at least I know and can FIX it. I’m not excited about being told some of the long term risks of cutting away too much of my meniscus or the prospect of downtime, but I’ll do about anything at this point to get back out there.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Getting back to running

This is the way the world ends. Not with a bang but with a whimper.  – Somebody famous, probably. 

As such, as suddenly as it started, on Saturday my 18 week running hiatus ended. I didn’t really get approval to do it, my knee didn’t even stop hurting 100%, but the timing felt right and I just decided to dive in and get it over with (That’s what she said!).

I don’t take a lot of pics while running, so here is a pic that basically looks like me 

Probably the most frustrating thing about this injury has been the ambiguity.  It is seriously the most passive aggressive injury I’ve ever had. “Well Adam, if you knew me well enough, you would KNOW when it was okay to start running again. Also, I’m not mad. I mean if I have to tell you why I’m mad then it really shows what you think of my feelings.”  So, I suppose it is rather fitting that even the ending should be somewhat ambiguous.  My knee isn’t 100%, it probably isn’t even 90%, but I’m going to push forward as long as it doesn’t get any worse. If it ever does get worse, it is back to the Ben and Jerry’s, sweatpants, and Netflix.

By all measures, my Physical Therapist essentially got tired of seeing me. So, Monday was my last scheduled appointment. Over the course of the last 10 weeks or so he ran out of new exercises for me to do, put me on a ‘self study’ course, gave me a swat on the ass, handed me his personal “special clients only” number???, and after a gentle embrace whispered into my ear to “call if I needed ANYTHING at all”.  He sure was nice. The pain has only started to get better within the last 2 weeks, but the PT said that I am getting much stronger in my hips which should hopefully prevent any issues in the future.

So, I’M BACK!  It should be really interesting to see how much fitness I’ve lost in the last few months and how long it will take for me to be 100% - if I ever will be. I’m going to follow the same general comeback plan as I did for my stress fractures whereby I run 3 miles 2x a week followed by 3 miles 3x a week.  Once I’m running 3 miles every other day I’ll slowly start to bring up the mileage.

All of that said, while I have the approval to run, but I am obviously very guarded (and, judging by this blog post, rather jaded). I don’t want to run too far, too fast, or too consistently.  I’m essentially in the airport security line of hurry up and wait:  Hurry through the security checkpoint line to wait in the metal detector line and oh my god who carries $3.78 in nickels and pennies anymore and NO you can’t bring your Starbucks mocha through and SERIOUSLY is that a full sized shampoo bottle!?  

But, ambiguous or not, I can see the light at the end of the tunnel….and that is an amazing feeling.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Whatever Wednesday: Swimming, Camping, Caliente

Quick running update is that there is no running update. Since my last post, my PT has added 5 minutes of bike to my warmup routine which made me happier than a witch in a broom factory. I am hopeful that I’ll be able to start to increase that amount ever so slowly to the point of being able to ride for 3-4 hours. I don’t ask for much, people!

Life on the surface of the sun has been chugging along recently.  Here is what I have been up to over the past week or so:


With seemingly no injury end in sight, I’m finally researching non-knee bearing fitness alternatives. The reality is that anything that bends my knee is a no-no, so running and biking are out (hiking is questionable at best). I’m looking into weight lifting, penis enlargement, and swimming.  To answer the question that I ALWAYS get asked when I mention swimming: yes my ass looks amazing in a speedo no, I’m not thinking about doing an Ironman – yet.

Of course, the process for me to start doing new activities such as swimming isn’t straightforward and generally goes something like this:

  • Think about what it would be like to maybe start swimming
  • Make excuses about how the logistics of swimming would be a pain in the butt and that I actually shouldn't start swimming after all
  • Remind myself of how good my ass would look doing the exercise (in this case, swimming, so obvs amazing)
  • Ask 12 or so other people if they swim and tell them that I am thinking about swimming
  • Rent any applicable movies to get me in the mood for the new activity (in this case, JAWS)
  • Post my intentions on social media, thereby committing me to start….sometime in 2017

Weeee doggies. Should be interesting.


Weekend before last, for the first time in 15 years, I went camping. More specifically, Laura, my son, Ryan my running buddy, and all of his neighbors went camping outside of Flagstaff, AZ.  A LOT of people went camping (30ish people?).  It was really fun to unplug for a while and get in touch with nature. Of course, my solar powered phone charger never further than an arm’s length away -- just like the pilgrims.  Thankfully, no one died of dysentery.

For the most part, I was able to beg borrow and steal to get (most) of the gear needed, so I only ended up spending a few hundred bucks. Camping is shockingly expensive.  Between special food, booze, sleeping bags, more booze, chocolate milk for my son, and little odds and ends, the equipment needed really seemed to add up. Fortunately, I’m a Tetris pro, so I loaded it all into the car and headed north….in the pouring rain.

So, it poured rain for the first 12 hours of camping. Not exactly the type of high desert camping I was looking forward to, but we all seemed to make the best of the situation by bundling up, huddling around the fire, and drinking some of the carefully packed booze.

Fire makes everything better

The first night was super stormy. Thankfully, my buddy Ryan let all of us stay in his camper (which meant that his entire family was in a single bed!) as it poured, thundered, and lightninged. It wasn't too bad in a pop up camper but I imagine it would have been pretty miserable in a tent.

All in all we slogged through the night and were greeted with mostly dry skies that next morning. One of the most fun things that I remember about camping growing up was cooking over the open fire.  For some reason the most basic foods are made amazing by the simple addition of flame.  20,000 years of caveman genetics can't be wrong.

Cooking fireside. 1 part eggs, 1 part bacon, 1 part hashbrowns, 3 parts OMG-AMAZING

Most of Saturday morning was spent puttering around the fire and trying to warm up / dry off. Which, to be honest, I wouldn't have had it any other way.  I think that some of the best things about camping (or hiking, running, etc) is that you really get a chance to unplug from real life.  Of course, by unplug I often mean music blaring in your ears and a 10MP cell phone camera to take tons of selfies. I'm not a barbarian.

TRYING to warm up by the fire

My son has mad bingo skillz.  Laura didn't stand a chance.

Other than the general ability to unplug, some of my favorite parts of camping were the freedom that my son was able to have. He was able to roam around the campsite with very minimal supervision by me which he LOVED.  He was able to dig in the dirt, find sticks for the fire and.....honestly come to think about it I have no idea what the heck he was doing for a lot of the time.  That is a very very good thing.

Waiting patiently to throw more sticks on the fire

Eating peanuts that were supposed to be for the squirrels on Sunday
Yes, that is the same outfit as the day before

While there were lots of activities for the little kids, thoughts of going on a hike or doing anything else all that productive were quickly dashed in favor of just hanging out. And, with a quick break for Laura and I to have some fun setting up the tent and my son to take a quick nap, that is essentially what we did the entire weekend.

Playing a very large game of Cards Against Humanity
The conclusion? Laura and I are terrible terrible people (thus, very good at C.A.H.)

Overall, camping was outstanding. It was really fun to hang with Laura, my running buddy Ryan, and essentially skirt almost all responsibilities for the weekend. To that end, I'm looking forward to doing it again very soon.


I was in Colorado last weekend, but seeming how this post is turning into a Lifetime miniseries, I’m going to hold that update for another time…. But, a little teaser:

Doesn't my pink nail polish look AMAZING?


Finally, the surface of the sun quip at the beginning of this post was no lie.  The temps this week are supposed to be between 112-115 with lows in the mid 80s.  If there was ever an upside to being hurt and not being able to run, I THINK I FOUND IT!

Nope nope nope nope nope