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….

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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???

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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!


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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.”


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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!

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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.