Sunday, December 30, 2007

Weekly Recap 12/24/07 - 12/30/07

Monday: Ran 5 miles with Bill up in Michigan. Great run, great company!

Tuesday: Jumped out on the bike for an easy 8 miles. The roads were finally clear enough to bike outside of my basement.

Wednesday: Ran 4 miles in the morning, biked 12 miles in the evening. All in all, great workouts!

Thursday: First time swimming in a couple weeks. I just went a half miles or so with a major focus on technique. I also did my first core workout in a while, which I'm ready to get back on top of! Also, I went out to pick up some new running shoes, the Asics 2130s.

Friday: Ran 4 miles in the morning. We just got a good amount of snow, so it was a good run but biking outside is over for a while! I biked for an hour in the basement, which I'm going to call 20 miles since that would be about normal on the trainer.

Saturday: More swimming, still focusing on technique. Spending a lot of time counting strokes across the pool, and I'm able to hit 15 pretty consistently now with an occasional 14. Afterwards I did another core workout which I'm really feeling today!

Sunday: Ran 4 miles and change. At the end of the run I had a lingering feeling in the back of my head that I hurt my hip again, but it didn't hurt. Not afterwards, and not now. I think the only thing left for this injury is the head games!

Total run: 17.63 miles
Total bike: 40.06 miles
Total swim: 1 mile

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What a great week! I more than doubled the volume I had last week, which normally would be a huge no-no. Since my mileage is so low, I can afford it. After this I won't have any big jumps, promise! Its great to feel like I'm gaining fitness again. My legs, arms, and core are all starting to feel stronger after just one solid week of training; which is a huge motivator to keep at it!

Most Relentless Runs of 2007

Amy tagged me a few days ago to post my favorite runs of 2007, but I'm putting my own little twist on it. Really, though, the crazy runs are the ones I seem to enjoy the most; after the fact, anyways!

The White Out

Ah, yes. The blizzard that shut down the Midwest! It caused the first snow days at the University of Illinois or Eastern Illinois University in over fifty years. Both schools got two days in a row off due to this beast of a storm. So, what did this crazy S.O.B. do?

Yeah. You guessed it. I tried to run. I had the roads to myself because nobody else would even try to drive in this mess, which was kind of cool. Ten miles were on the schedule, but that didn't quite happen. I only made it five in this absolute white out, but thats a hell of a lot more than any sane person would ever try. The run got finished up at the indoor track, but it still makes it as one of my top three runs of the year!


Freeze & Thaw

The weather this winter was, well, relentless. But so was I. Mother nature isn't going to keep me down!

I was home this weekend where we had some extremely low temperatures and extremely high winds; the wind chill was around -20 degrees. So, once again, what does this crazy guy do with this insane weather and 13 miles on the schedule?

Right again! I bundled up with underarmour as a bottom layer, and almost every other bit of clothing I could justify putting on. Weighing myself before and after getting dressed, I had around 8-10 lbs of clothing on. I smeared some vaseline on any exposed skin to make sure I didn't get frost bite on the bit of my face I didn't cover, too!

I still would get cold on this run, so I started alternating blocks into and against the wind. That way I could get cold, then thaw out repeatedly throughout the run. It seemed like a desperate idea, but it worked! I managed to make it through the run without a scratch!


The Death March

One of the great things about Illinois is that we really, really getting to experience all four seasons. But, one of the bad things about Illinois is that we really, really get to experience all four seasons!

The Chicago Marathon was a pretty good example of summer in Illinois, except one thing: it was supposed to be Fall! Sure, people can train for the heat, but who ever expects Chicago to be 95 degrees in October? Or who expects them to run out of water?

Regardless of the mayhem that was the Chicago Marathon, it was a pretty good run for me. I didn't have to deal with the lack of water since I was fairly close to the front, but damn was it hot!

During the race, it was not one of my favorite runs. Far from it. The last several miles of the race are, undoubtedly, the hardest miles I've ever run in my life; even if they might be among the slowest!

But after the fact, I feel like I've accomplished something huge. Because I was relentless through the brutal Illinois winter and summer, I made it through the race with a PR. Even though it was 95 degrees. And it was humid. And I hadn't run for a month. And I had a hip injury. Whats not to like about that?!

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Planning the New Year

Yesterday a friend put an idea in my head: The St. Louis Half Marathon.

At first I discounted it as a bad idea, but then I really got thinking about it. Currently I'm running the River to River Relay on April 19th which will consist of running three legs of 3-4 miles from sunrise to sunset. The half is on April 6th, just two weeks before the relay.

I'm really thinking a half is doable by then. This week it looks like I'm going to have 17-18 miles total, which is pretty respectable looking at my training log these past few months! I think a half marathon is easily doable on just 30 miles a week, so building up to that over three months doesn't seem like too much of a stretch to me! What do you guys think, good idea? Is anybody else be up for it? eh? eh? They have a full marathon too.

Speaking of planning, I got my training log spreadsheet all setup for 2008. Maybe you weren't aware of my dorkiness, but its bad! New in 2008, it now tracks swimming and biking too, as well as combining all of them in one graph so I can see where I need to pick up the slack and also see how my total volume is doing. This Garmin might be bad for my health, since it gives this number addict all the numbers I could ever want!

Today I headed back to the pool and swam for about 45 minutes. I'm not doing anything I would call a workout just yet, just practicing technique. Once I get my technique down and make all the little things habit, I'll start thinking about doing real workouts again. In the end, having the technique down will help me more than anything!

Now I'm going to hide up in my room with a book for the next few hours, my mom and sister are both still pretty sick and I don't have many excuses left to get out of the house!

Friday, December 28, 2007

Breaking in the new kicks

Today I got to break in my first pair of new running shoes in almost five months; I can't believe its been that long! Last time I got a new pair, a hip injury followed suit. Damn those Mizunos! This time I went back to my old faithful shoes: Asics!

I went with the 2130's, which replaced my old 2120's that I've been eeking out as many miles as possible on. But the new kicks are sweet, no discomfort at all and eliminates nearly all the pounding; just what I need.

The run this morning was great, to me. We got an inch or two of snow last night, which wasn't enough for it to get in my shoes, but was enough for me to make my mark in the snow. Theres just something about leaving the first footprints in a fresh snow; I love it!

My hip is hanging in there just fine, even after four miles at a respectable pace. The splits were:

7:27
7:22
7:35
7:25

And in other news, I'm still managing to hold off the illness that everybody seems to be getting. Hopefully I can stick with it; the 10 hours of sleep is probably helping. I better keep doing that! (Hey, let me believe what I want to!)

Tonight I gotta jump on the bike in the basement again. Although the snow was fun to run in, it completely ruins biking for the next week or so. Blargh!

I hope running is going well for everybody else!

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Delaying the Inevitable

Yesterday my sister woke up feeling sick. Today, both my parents were feeling a little under the weather. I still feel okay. But its practically guaranteed that, save a miracle, I'm going to be getting sick in the next few days. Ugh!

I'm doing everything I can to hold it off. I've been drinking lots of orange juice and water to boost my immune system and flush out my system. My hands have probably been washed more today than they have in the past week! Also, I spent as little time in the house as possible today.

I made a trip to the nearest running store, which is 60 miles away, to get some new running shoes since my current ones are wearing out. Then I further postponed coming back to this germ-hole by browsing around Borders for a while, looking at cycling and triathlon books.

After secluding myself by reading a book on swimming, I did the only logical thing and took a trip to the pool for the first time in a few weeks. I'm trying to incorporate some techniques the book talks about in order to make my stroke even more efficient. So far I've gotten my freestyle down to just 15 strokes per lap; a HUGE improvement over the 27 it took me a few months ago!

Tonight I have to start getting ab workouts going again. I've been slacking big time on the goals I set a while back! The stability ball and medicine ball I got for Christmas are really encouraging me to get on top of it now.

And, this just in... (Literally. I got an email while typing this.) I'm officially teaching next semester. Really teaching. Last semester I just taught a lab, but now I'm actually going to be lecturing a classroom of students. I'm excited and worried about it. Its a great opportunity, but how much time is this going to require? I'm hoping it doesn't keep me from training as much as I want to!

And, some responses to comments:

Bill - I use the Garmin Forerunner 305. I love it and how it tells me every possibly thing I could want to know about my running. If heart rate data isn't important to you, the 205 is a bit cheaper.

Vickie - Yeah. That weather sure is fun! Wasn't as bad as the Illinois winter last year, but I'm sure Michigan had it even worse! Luckily I shouldn't be back to Michigan until its nice and toasty again.

Marcy - Yep. I'm definitely trying to make you jealous! But I've earned this break big time, I'll go back to being a sleep deprived college student soon enough!

Everybody else - Thanks so much for the encouraging comments lately! But be careful, your enthusiasm only pushes mine to increasingly dangerous levels!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Feelin' It

The day after the five mile run with Bill my hip was feeling... surprisingly good! At one point I thought I was going to pay for making the big jump to five miles, but it looks like I'm recovering just fine.

During the past week or two the majority of my runs have been an easy three miles, and I've been handling it pretty well. But since seeing that I can handle five, I'm bumping up the easy runs up a little bit. Ah, progress!

Today I woke up (at 11) and went for a solid four mile run. I pushed the pace a little bit, and was surprised how much I was feeling it. I started getting side stitches just a few miles in. Gotta love the aches and pains of rebuilding; it's so much better than being lazy!

Here's the splits:

7:08
6:59
7:23
7:24

After getting some food in me, I went out on the bike. I started with my sister, but she wasn't joking about taking it easy. I went ahead and went my own pace after a mile or so, and got in a good workout. Here's the digits:

Distance: 12.01 miles
Time: 44:25
Speed: 16.2 MPH

And here is what Garmin says about my bike and run.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Weekly Recap 12/17/07 - 12/23/07

Monday: Ran an easy three miles, nothing too notable.

Tuesday: Another run, three miles and change. This is the first time I've ran two days in a row in the past couple months. Hip felt good during and after the run. Biked for an hour this evening on the trainer.

Wednesday: Started to feel a little twinge in my hip and decided to be lazy for a couple days.

Thursday: Went to visit friends in Chicago, was hoping to run when I got back but my Uncle John and two of his ump-teen daughters showed up early and the run got canceled.

Friday: Ran another three miles. I'm turning pro at this distance. All went good, hip is feeling fine again.

Saturday: Traveling all day long and visiting with family.

Sunday: Planned to run with Bill, but the 50 MPH gusts and pouring rain postponed our run until Monday.

Total run: 9.4 miles
Total bike: 20 miles
Total swim: Nada. Zero. Zip. Zilch. I'm planning to go back at it this week and am hoping the ankle problems have gone away.

----------------------------------------------

Another fairly easy week, all things considered. I was hoping to run more, but the weather didn't allow it. Also, I couldn't bring my bike to Michigan. This week will be better unless something goes horribly wrong, promise!

A Run With the Marathon Dude

Ho, ho, ho! Merry Christmas!

What? I don't make a convincing Santa? Fine, fine. I'll stick with running.

I just got back from visiting family in Michigan for the holidays. It was a really low key trip, and I got to see all my family: everybody from my 4 year old cousin to my 88 year old Grandma. It was great!

I also got together with Bill for a nice run. We tried to go on Sunday morning, but the pouring rain and 50 MPH wind gusts canceled that plan for us real quick! The crap-tastic weather subsided yesterday, though, so we met up on Christmas Eve.

Bill is one solid runner; he doesn't make those numbers up! I felt as though I was holding him back quite a bit, but if I was in top shape I could give him a run for his money! Our splits were:

8:10 (Icy trail, yikes!)
7:26
7:08
6:37 (Woah, easy there!)
7:10

Since Bill was taking an interest in everything my Garmin will tell me, here is a link to the online version of the run: http://trail.motionbased.com/trail/activity/4644733

Afterwards we got a small bite to eat and took a picture, just for you guys!


My hip is feeling great today, even though that was my longest run since the Chicago Marathon. I'm still on the mend, but things are still looking up! I finally jumped out on my bike today too, since the snow is finally gone. Sweet!

Santa was kind to me this year, too; I must have been on the 'nice' list this year! I got most of what I asked for, including a stability ball, medicine ball, and the books Again to Carthage, Total Immersion, and The Triathlete's Training Bible.

I hope everybody else had a great Christmas!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Lazy Days

These last few days have been lazy. Extremely lazy. But I'm full of excuses.

After running two days in a row there was a small twinge in my left hip when I moved my leg just right. It made me a little nervous, so I took a two days off from running and biking just to be on the safe side. This is no week for a relapse!

I ran 3 miles this morning, though, and it went really well. Okay, so it wasn't this morning since I didn't wake up until 11:30. Regardless, it feels great tonight so I'm not worried anymore!

Tomorrow I'm off to Michigan for Christmas. We've lucked out on the weather, but the trip back is going to be interesting. We're driving back on Christmas day, so everywhere to eat and go to the bathroom is going to be closed. We'll see how that one goes!

Thats all I got. Life on break is kind of boring, but I need this mental vacation. Unless you want to hear about video games, I think its best I leave it at that!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Relentless

It's more than a number of miles. It's more than taking on the heat, cold, rain, snow, ice, and wind. It's a mindset; and one that I've missed. But its back! And I'm back!

These past few months the theme has been "don't over do it." It was a theme I needed, but all and all I think it started to make me weak. I noticed this on the bike the other day. The game plan was to go for an hour, and after just 15 or 20 minutes a little voice kept telling me it was time to quit. Over and over "don't over do it", "you might hurt yourself," yadda, yadda, yadda.

Well, I've had it with them. I told them to can it. Forget relenting. I'm relentless again!

Now, don't get me wrong here. I'm still going to increase my running nice and steady, but the other parts of my training are going to start increasing in intensity. In the past, biking and swimming have been cross training to me; but thats not the case anymore. They're a part of my training that needs the same amount of effort as before; not just recovery days anymore!

These past few days have been good days. I've been working out every day, sometimes twice. Running hasn't been aggravating my hip, I've even run two days in a row without any pain whatsoever. With the rest of my time I've been pretty lazy, but I've earned the break after busting my butt these past few months.

But what did busting my butt result in? All A's, 4.0. Hells yeah! I've earned this mental vacation!


SLB - I think its too late to put a trainer on Santa's list. Although, we have one at home that I'll be using for the next couple weeks if the roads are bad. I have enough other biking stuff on my list to keep Santa plenty busy!

Bill - I've never heard that I look like my dad. Honest. I don't hear it from everybody that has ever seen us side by side! A lot of people say the same about me and my sis. Last year at her Christmas party a friend of hers greeted me with 'LOOK! ITS BRENDA WITH A BEARD!' By the way, how does Sunday morning sound for our run? I'm thinking 4-5 miles.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Weekly Recap 12/10/07 - 12/16/07

Monday: Rest day. Gotta have' em!

Tuesday: Ran 3.05 miles, swam for about 30 minutes. Left ankle was hurting so I called it quits early.

Wednesday: Lazy day. Swim practice didn't fit my schedule, ran the day before, and it was raining so I couldn't ride.

Thursday: Ran 3.43 miles, swam for a little over an hour. Ankle started hurting so I just did the rest of the night with the bull buoy so I didn't have to kick.

Friday: Nada. I drove back home this day.

Saturday: Ran 4.2 miles in the snow. Felt pretty good.

Sunday: Put an hour in on the bike that was setup on the trainer in the basement. It was rough but I made it through. I ate like crap all day so I crashed mentally afterwards. Feeling great after recovering, though!

Total run: 10.68 miles
Total bike: 20 miles
Total swim: 1.5 hours

-----------------------------------------

Definitely not enough workouts this week, but it was finals week and it was raining pretty much every day. Running in the rain is great, but bikes rust when they get wet so I gotta hold back! Game plan for this next week is to swim twice, run four times (15 miles?), and jump on the bike 2-3 times even if its just in the basement.

Hope everybody had a great week!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Your Christmas Card

From the coolest family out there!

Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 15, 2007

6720 Meter Hurdles

Its a new event that is held every winter, have you heard about it yet? The distance tends to vary, but its always long distance hurdling! This time it was spontaneous.

I was out for my run this afternoon, and we got a few inches of snow last night. But I waited just long enough for everybody to get out and shovel their driveways, leaving nice mounds of snow on the sidewalk every couple yards!

Now, my 8th grade history teacher taught me that three things happen when someone is presented with a problem. You can adapt, migrate, or die. Well, this isn't quite that serious (yet, anyways. Theres a foot of snow on the forecast!), but I'm going to claim it still applies. We can either jump over them (adapt), run around them (migrate), or not do anything and fall on our face (process of elimination, right?)!

Well, today I was more in an adaptive mood than anything so my 4.2 mile run turned into a hurdle event, and it was fun! And, since I think it was a definite first for the event, I hold the world record at 33:09. Who's gonna take it? Nic? Bill? Marcy (your Yak Trax might give you an advantage!)?

The hip is still feeling strong after a repeat of last week, woo hoo! Next week the plan is to add one more day of running and bump my weekly mileage up a couple more miles. Hopefully it will go well, everything else has so far!

I need to get back to work. And by work I mean watching movies all day; break rocks!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

D-O-N-E

Thats right. The semester is over. Completely. Holy crap!

Grading, check
Finals, check
Sanity, check

Now I just need to wait for grades to come in. Oh the waiting!


I made it out for a run this morning, but I feel like going out again. Its how I like to wrap up every semester. I ran 15 miles right after graduating college; it was great! I guess I kind of blew it by running this morning, huh? Oh well. I'm not gonna go out again, can't risk the hip! I'll get business taken care of at the pool tonight; my ankle better behave itself or we're gonna have some SERIOUS problems! It never hurts when I run, though, so I'm not complaining too loudly.

The hip is holding up nicely. I made it out for about 3.5 miles this morning to shake the cob webs loose before my final final. I've adopted a strategy this semester that has worked pretty well for me. None of that sleep deprived, studying till the last minute crap that everybody else does. I've been getting a solid 10 hours of sleep, a nice lunch, and exercising before my exams. While everybody else crammed in last minute stuff, I was reading the excerpt from "Again To Carthage" in December's Runner's World.

Splits this morning were:

7:35
7:14
7:08
3:10 (7:25 pace)

Great run, hip didn't hurt at all. Doesn't hurt now.

Tomorrow I drive back home and am stopping at Eastern Illinois on the way to see some old friends and a few professors that nudged me to go to school at University of Kentucky. Then I get to surprise my parents who aren't expecting me until Sunday night!


Nic - You have yourself a deal, my friend. Chicago '08 the barrier will be broken side by side!

Marcy - According to my Garmin, it wasn't THAT fast. Not as fast as Bill anyways; that speed demon!

Bill - Yeah, I'm getting pretty close to muttering those sacred words myself. Maybe next week sometime... I can't get ahead of myself! Soon, very soon!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Something in the mail!

Yesterday I finally got my video from the Chicago Marathon. It was supposed to ship a month ago but got delayed for some reason. Regardless, its finally here! Which means you get to see the finishing shots:


video


I'm pretty happy with the finishing shots, although I was hoping it would be a little higher quality. Most of the rest of the video is really great quality, then anything I appear in is kind of pixelated. I guess they don't want us taking screen shots of it instead of paying $60 a picture for the official pictures of the race.


The weather here in Kentucky is pretty freaking crazy lately. Two days ago it was in the 30's. Yesterday it was up to 70. Today its down in the 40's. I wish it would just make up its mind so I could get used to it one way or the other!

I had my amazing run yesterday, thanks to the weather, but last night my swim was pretty crap-tastic. I got through the warm up (which is still basically a full workout) alright, but then my left ankle started hurting. I kept trying to massage it out, but it just got worse every lap I swam. I decided to call it a night early. The weird thing is, it doesn't hurt at all when I walk or run. I'm just counting it as an off night, I'm giving it another shot tomorrow.

The hip is hanging in there perfectly, even after my too-quick run yesterday. It didn't pipe up at all last night or even today. Sounds like I'm really starting to recover now! I'm still planning for this to be a repeat of last week, then next week I'm going to add in one extra run. Slowly but gradually I'm going to build back up to where I was. So I can kick Bill & Nic's butts.. eventually! The next time Nancy directs a race, they're gonna have to watch out!

All I have left with school this semester is one final. A final I need a 50% on in order to get an A in the class. And its over material I know inside and out. I'm pretty much out of here for the winter!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

The Four S's

Waking up today, the weather was one great surprise! It was the first time I've actually seen the sun in over a week. Yesterday, we had temperatures around 30-40 degrees. Today, it felt like I accidentally moved to Florida over night; we had temps near 70!

I made it out to run with just my four S's: Shorts, socks, shoes, and sunglasses. In December. In Kentucky. Without freezing my tail off. Did I mention its December?

I think everybody who saw me running today was taken back for a moment, because they were all bundled up out of habit; just like me this morning.

Everything about the weather made me want to get out on my treadmill bike:



Quirky inventions aside, this was the quickest run I've had in months. I knew, secretly, I needed to hold back. And I tried. Oh, how I tried. But it didn't work, not this time. Not in this weather. Not when I'm feeling this good. I just spaced out and ran, just to run.

I ended up running a shade over 3 miles, and loved every step of it. Here's the splits, you can yell at me if you like:

7:11
7:02
6:54

Time to get more studying done so I can make it to the pool tonight!

Monday, December 10, 2007

Don't say it on an airplane!

So, um, yeah. About that test this morning. The one given by "jerk-face," lets just say I am to that test as President Dubya is to Iraq. I bombed it, but with a smile on my face!

Realistically, my grade on the exam doesn't matter, so long as I scraped up at least a few points. Even if I get a B in the class, its over ridden by the A I'll get in graphics, so it won't hinder me getting into the PhD program should I decide to take that road. Because of this, I went into the test with a pretty nonchalant attitude, despite the fact that I studied 20-30 hours the past few days.

The test was redunkulously hard. Seriously. There were huge questions about stuff he mentioned practically as a side note in class.

But, theres nothing to do about it now. So I'm taking the road less traveled and instead of being bummed, I'm relishing in my smart-ass answers to the questions I had no clue on. My only regret is not taking the time to say various things I thought of on the walk back to my apartment!

The pressure is off now that I have that one behind me. I only need 50's and 60's on my last few exams to stay in the A range, which shouldn't be a problem at all! And ALL my grading is done, to boot!


On the exercise front, today is an off day. I'm just being a bum. Monday is always a rest day anyways. This week I'm planning to hold off my progress on the running front. I want to do a repeat of last week just to rebuild a little bit, then I'll start adding more miles over winter break. Hopefully this endless rain storm disappears sometime this year so I can get out on the bike and put in some more miles!

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Weekly Recap 12/03/07 - 12/09/07

Ah, now here's a label I haven't used in a month or three! Here's a summary of my workouts this week:

Monday - Rest day

Tuesday - Swim 90 minutes; really starting to get the drills down! Run 3.1 miles; this run went off without a hitch.

Wednesday - Rest day

Thursday - Swim 90 minutes; did my first real swim workout today. Run 3.36 miles; once again, this was a pretty flawless run. My hip is feeling great!

Friday - Bike 20 miles. Its starting to get easier already. Pacing is getting a little bit easier and my butt doesn't hurt so bad afterwards, which is a nice plus!

Saturday - Run 4.34 miles. Yep, "only" 4.34. I dropped some hints, but nobody caught them. My "8 on the 8th" was spread out over this entire week. You can take back some of your praises and bows and I won't be offended in the least! This run might have pushed it just a little too far. I'm going to back it down to under four miles again this week. I feel fine today (Sunday), but yesterday evening I was a little worried.

Sunday - Swim 90 minutes. Today was my first full swim workout. I think its going to start getting a little bit easier now that I'm really pushing myself every swim. I'm still no super-star; today I was doing a sprint set and someone nonchalantly swam right past me, then turned around to do another lap and while I was wheezing for air!

Total run: 10.8 miles (Highest training mileage since September, BOO YAH!)
Total bike: 20 miles
Total swim: 4.5 hours (Maybe 4 miles?)

--------------------

All in all, a great week! Insanely busy, considering I did all that while pulling everything together for my end of semester projects. But if I can pull it off during dead week and the week of finals, I can keep at it no matter what! It just takes some serious time management and concentration when I'm working on anything for school.

Expect to see a serious increase in biking and swimming in the next month. My amount of free time is about to sky rocket!

Saturday, December 8, 2007

8 On (The Week Of) The 8th -- Race Report

This race has been the talk of the community for the past month or so. Mostly because its put on by the best (most lenient?) race director out there!

A couple days ago I got my event T-shirt. I swore, up until this moment, it was called "An 8th on the 8." I thought, "No problem! I can run an 8th of a mile!" But then I looked at the T-shirt more closely. Crap! EIGHT on the 8th?! You want me to run how far?! Luckily, I had a camera at hand when I made this realization!

The crowd support during this race was fairly minimal. It consisted mostly of pre-occupied students in their zombie-like daze in the week before finals. I assume they were out there to cheer on someone else, because they barely even noticed me zoom by them. Unless I'm just that fast!

Not many runners were out there. Fewer than my last race, anyways. Although, even those that I saw were clearly not cool enough to be in on this VIP race.

There wasn't a single aid station I came to that was running out of water. None of them were running out of water, Gatorade, gu, bananas, steak, spaghetti, or even lobster. All of the aid stations knew just how to prepare for this race!

I felt pretty strong over the course of the race. My splits were: 7:43, 8:06, 8:04, 8:07, 8:00, 7:37, 7:46, and 7:41. This results in a total time of: 1:03:04, which is 7:53 per mile! Sure, its slower than my average pace at Chicago, but I've taken two whole months mostly off.

After finishing, since nobody else in town ran the race, they gave me all of the prizes immediately after the finish.


Do I plan to do it again next time? You bet! I wouldn't miss out on a race like this for anything. Thanks for putting it on, Nancy!

Friday, December 7, 2007

Eat. Sleep. Teach. Learn. Swim. Bike. Run.

Ah yes, my life has been the good life these past few days. I can encapsulate everything I've done into the above seven words, and I wouldn't change a thing. Luckily for me, or what would be unluckily for some, I get to keep at it this way for at least the next week, and hopefully all through break.

Last night I had what felt like a really break through swim. For the first time, my coach had me do more than drills. This means I'm going to start getting in really great workouts there too, rather than just doing my thing for an hour and leaving.

Usually with my drills, I end up swimming 25 or maybe 50 yards tops and take a little break. I'll think about how to improve my technique or just catch my breath, let my heart rate get down, etc.

Well, once we did the workout, first thing was 100 yards! It was rough, and I was panting like crazy when it was over. Whats up next? Yeah. 200 yards. I suppose I inadvertently gave an "oh sh*t" look when she said that, because she backed it off to 150; but I did the 200 anyways. Who knew I could swim that far?!

She had me count my strokes to get across the pool, too. Told me that getting down to 20 would be a great goal to shoot for. Bam! 17! Oh yeah! Eat that di-hydrogen monoxide (that's H2O)!

This morning I decided to squeeze in some time on the bike between classes. I somehow managed to get ready, drive out of the city, bike 20 miles, get back, shower, and eat lunch all in three hours. Not sure how, but its good to know I can get it done!

All in all it was a great ride. Much easier than my first one, mostly because I know a little bit more about how to pace myself. I tried to focus on trying little things on the bike. The one reason I won't let myself ride in the city is I simply can't let go with my left hand in order to signal a left turn. I wobble out of control.

Just like today when I was practicing. I decided to signal left before a turn, and then make the turn. Well, it didn't go so hot. I came pretty close to doing a face plant in the ditch, and I'm really, really glad I didn't. I'll have to come up with some way to ease into it so I don't have another experience like that one! Face plant = bad!

Running tomorrow, 4 miles on the agenda. If the rest of the world operated in base-2 like we computer scientists do, I could tell you thats triple digits. I'm confident it'll go well, my hip feels great after yesterday's 3 and change. I've set the goal to run 6 miles next weekend, which is easily in reach unless tomorrow's 4 goes poorly.

Also, don't forget the 8 on the 8th is tomorrow! Even though I get to cheat (in fact, I'm already 3/4ths done, suckers!), you can bet I'll have a race report up tomorrow. Best of luck in catching me!

Finally, finals are next week. Pretty much everybody is a great big ball of stress except for me. I crunched the numbers and I'm going into my finals with fairly strong A's. I have quite a bit of room to spare if I need it. I found out second-hand that jerk-face's A range goes down to about 65%, so I'm actually doing fairly well in that class, despite having what normally looks like a craptastic grade.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

I'd Like to Say I'm......

No, I can't say it.. not yet. I can't jinx the progress I'm making.

But lets look at the facts. In the last seven days, I've run 8.77 miles and my hip is feeling wonderful. Although I've had weeks with higher mileage, this is the highest pain free mileage I've had since the beginning of September!

I'm hoping I can keep this progress going, and as long as I don't do anything stupid I think I can keep it up. Once I get up to 5 miles I think I'll be able to mutter the words I won't let myself say just yet.

On a less positive note, I lost my sunglasses. And no, not some cheap-o pair from Walmart, these were the $120 pair I got from my parents for my birthday in 2006. My wonderfully comfortable sunglasses I barely notice are on my head. The ones I could have a seizer with and they wouldn't move a millimeter.

I'm really, really hoping they turn up somewhere soon, but my apartment isn't that big and I've searched the entire thing up and down. And my car. I must have dropped them after my ride Saturday, because thats the last place I remember having them. One way or another, I think they'll turn up or I'll give in to buy some new ones. Update: Found 'em! They were in my car. Fell off the opposite side of the passenger's seat.

Since I'm not one to dwell on the negative, here's a few positive things. I rocked that assignment that demolished my Thanksgiving "break." I still feeling completely on top of everything in school, only 1/3 of an assignment left this semester! Not to mention everything that I said was going right in my last post.

Here's to progress.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Accomplishments

These past few days have been crazy busy! Between swimming, biking, running, classes, grading, and projects I've hardly had a moment to relax. But the great thing about it is the sense of accomplishment that comes along with it. This post is mostly just me patting myself on the back, but I think I deserve it!

Here's what I got:
  • Biked 33 miles. You guys know the story.
  • I'm really getting down my swimming drills. Going back for more in a little bit!
  • My 3.1 mile run today simply felt monumental. I don't know what the big difference between 2 and 3 miles is, but this run felt very significant. Nothing hurt, and it still doesn't! Rock on!
  • I am 100% caught up on grading until more gets turned in on Friday.
  • In my classes, I'm the only one who doesn't look like they could drop dead at any moment due to the sheer amount of stress. Taking time to take care of myself really pays off.
  • My final graphics project is pretty much complete. And I'm really, really enjoying this stuff. I'm hoping I have some time on break to do a little more with it. You guys know what it means when I get excited. It means you get to hear about it. But a pictures worth a thousand words, so here is a little look into what a first semester graduate student in graphics can do.
Some basic shapes, who said math wasn't beautiful?

Reflections and shadows

A scene combining everything, including some transparency


Everything is winding down. Sort of. I have one project left to do, and then finals. I'm determined to still find time to swim, bike, and run as much as usual. So far sticking with it has been paying off big time.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Inhuman?

After yesterday's ride, I swore up and down walking was going to be a monumental feat today. It wasn't. I'm not even sore. Mostly just hungry (I've eaten most of the food in my apartment by now). I feel like I must not be human to feel so bad at the end of the ride, and not even be feeling it today!

This morning I swam for an hour, just working on drills. I'm really getting all of them down now, both with and without the flippers. Sometime in the next week I think my coach should have me doing some normal swimming.

I ran this afternoon too. Nice and easy 2.31 miles averaging 8:17 pace. It was raining and was all in all a pretty good run. My hip is behaving itself pretty nicely still. Sometimes theres a little discomfort down the side of my leg, but its no where close (either in proximity or intensity) to where it was before, so its not making me too nervous.

I've run 2 and change a couple times now and my hip is still behaving itself! So... Tuesday I'm going to push it to three miles and keep my fingers crossed. This makes it look increasingly likely that I'll be able to show Bill the real way to do an easy run when I visit family for Christmas!

And... because I have nothing else to babble about, heres some responses to recent comments:

Bill - Yeah, these guys were pretty experienced. Most of them have ridden about 5000 miles a year for the last several years. Once I get some clip in pedals and some miles under my belt, I think I'll be riding with the big dogs in no time.

Marcy - Oh, I'm sticking with the running. Don't you worry! This week was actually my highest mileage week in the past six weeks! Progress! As long as Ms. Helen keeps her yap shut, I'm hoping to get in some good workouts over my Christmas break in all three areas, because I'll definitely have the time!

Nancy - Well said with how running spills over to life, it really does. Its the #1 example, in my opinion, of how much hard work pays off! No name for the bike just yet. I know I'm breaking the rule, I've ridden 'er twice and don't even know her name yet...

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Bonk is spelled: B-O-N-K!

I went on my first group ride today. They had a 20 mile route and a 32 mile route, and I figured the 20 might be pushing it but I'd go give it a shot anyways! I just ran 26.2 miles a couple months ago, I can bike 20, right? Right.

That is, until we get to the part where the two routes split and everybody decides to go 32. Internal dialog: "Oh, sh*t!" I didn't say anything, I just trucked along.

The group was really, really great. I talked to most of the people a little bit, to introduce myself at the very least. Since I'm new to the group, most conversations went something like this after introductions:

Biker: So how long have you been riding?
Me: This is my first group ride. (Halfway dodging the question)
B: Oh. So you've been riding on your own a lot?
M: I started yesterday.

And then they'd be appropriately surprised, because most the conversing was going on before I started getting my butt kicked.

At one point, me and Jay were up front and missed a turn. We had to backtrack a little bit and attempt to catch up. He said "stay on my wheel" and took off at, I'd guess, 25 MPH. Now, I don't know about you, but 25 MPH just wasn't happenin! Not even if I'm drafting! I managed to hold about 20 MPH for 3 miles just to keep him in sight so I didn't get lost, but then he was gone.

Eventually, a few people were stopped up ahead waiting for me. We took off, and I got dropped again. I was bonking. Hard. No energy, quads were shot, etc, etc. It wasn't pretty. But thankfully Keith stopped with me so I could scarf down my clif bar, drink quite a bit and stretch out. He pumped my glycogen deprived brain full of information I'm hoping I retain.

All in all, it was a good experience. Everybody was nice, despite me being the one that was holding them back. I'll be back for more. Whenever my legs work again. Needless to say, that was the best workout I've gotten since Chicago.

Here's a link to the Garmin data, and a picture of the brutal elevation chart.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Our First Time

It was magical, I tell you. Simply magical.

Jess gave me some wonderful advice a few days ago: "Just don't ride 'er too hard, since she's new and you're all excited, you don't wanna get all sore :)" I read this advice, took it to heart, and then completely ignored it because, well, I was too excited.

The first time was just a quickie. I went out for a route which my map said was 10 miles out at Russell Cave. It was a nice route, wonderful scenery, and pretty low traffic. Garmin is claiming the route was only 8.3 miles. And now that I typed that (and checked my map), I just noticed I made a wrong turn. No wonder! I feel wonderfully intelligent! Not only was our first time a quickie, I also didn't know where I was going. Interpret that as you will.

Needless to say, I think I'm in love. This new bike makes riding a ton easier than the fifteen year old hybrid I had this summer. I started out with a little more gusto than I should have and averaged about 20 MPH the first three miles. All in all my average speed was 17 MPH, which I'm really happy with since I think my highest average speed this last summer was 15 or 16!

She's a good ride. Lets hope I'm not too sore to go at it again tomorrow!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Dead Week Cometh...

Next week is what we like to call "Dead Week" here at University of Kentucky. Every class has a final project due, and final exams are the following week. Everybody is stressed and is essentially a walking zombie for the entire week. But I'm not worried.

In fact, I don't plan to cut back on any of my swimming, biking, or running because of school. I have two large projects due, and a good amount of grading. However, its all under control. At least I think it is. In my classes, I'm one of the only ones who doesn't look completely and totally stressed out. And I'm also willing to bet I'm the only one who has been working out almost every day! Coincidence? I think not.

This entire week I haven't missed a workout, and I've been eating pretty well too. All in all, I think its actually helping me get things done, and resulting in having more energy. I feel like all my time has to be structured, and I need to get "x, y, and z" done before I go swim, etc. I have less time in the day to work than everybody else, but I'm getting much more done during my productive hours! Hopefully this trend continues!

Today my hip is feeling wonderful. Practically perfect. I really feel like getting out for a run, but I'm going to lay low today and follow my every other day rule. Plus I'm going swimming tonight anyways, and as tempting as it is to run there and back, I'm going to give my hip a break until tomorrow.

Tomorrow, my shiny new lady in red is going to lose her metaphorical virginity. Sure, I rode her yesterday morning, but that was just foreplay. Tomorrow is the real thing. Right now the plan (although not set in stone yet) is to ride in the evening after class for ~20 miles with Bryan and maybe Mike. If they aren't game, I'll head out on my own. I'm debating a run in the morning, an easy 2 miles; something I know my hip can handle. I might cancel it since I have the ride in the evening, but I haven't made up my mind yet.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

I'm Sorry, Helen, but...

There's a new lady in my life. It just wasn't working between us. You're too needy. I've spent at least $400 on you in the past few months, and without insurance it would have been thousands! Don't even get me started on the emotional distress. Its over. I've found someone better.

Sure, she cost me a little more up front, but not by much. Plus she's really light weight, too. Oh, don't give me that, I wasn't calling you fat. Honest. Not to mention how grouchy you've been these past few months. You won't even let me do the things I enjoy. You're out of here. This new girl, well, I get to ride her several times a week if I want to.

Here she is:


Today has been a great day. I found out I could get my new bike for ~$200 cheaper than I originally thought I would, bought it, and got out for a 2.3 mile run!

I ended up picking up a helmet, gloves, biking shorts, an extra tube, bottle cage, and a tire lever as well. All in all, the total was less than I was planning to spend on the bike alone! Pretty sweet deal, huh? I can tell you're jealous.

I ran into a guy I run with at the bike shop too; he's starting triathlons in '08 and just bought a bike last week. The same one, actually. He has good taste! Sounds like I have someone to ride with already!

Running was good today. I ran a little quicker than I planned, but so far I'm not paying for it. In fact, my hip is feeling wonderful! Hopefully it stays that way after the run 'sets in.' Tomorrow is an off day with regards to running, but I might be riding with Brian and then swimming in the evening. The every other day thing seems to be working now, as long as I keep the build nice and gradual.

And last but not least, I really want some name suggestions for the bike, not joking! I can't believe you passed up the chance to give something a trashy name earlier, Marcy, are you feeling ill?

The decision is made!

I finally picked out the bike I'm getting.

I'm going with the 2007 Specialized Allez Triple. This is "last year's" model, and by "last year" I mean "not next year." Since they're trying to unload the 2007's, I'm getting it for 20% off. Cha ching!

This brought the choice down to a good bike for $650 +$70 for 3 years service or a great bike for $616 + free life time service. Tough choice, right?

I'll post a picture of MY lady in red tonight.

But she needs a name.

Any ideas?

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Randomness

I just have a whole bunch of random stuff today. Enjoy.

Today was (probably) my last trip to the PT. I did schedule another appointment next week, but informed him I will probably call and cancel. I think the rest and strengthening exercises are what is bringing me back. I'm fairly certain the ultrasound and ASTYM aren't really making an impact at all, but if things fall apart, I'll go right back. Promise.

I'm doing more bike shopping again. Still looking at the same three bikes as before, with the exception of looking at the '08 Specialized Allez. I still have a little sticker shock going on, and am having a hard time bringing myself to drop almost a thousand dollars on the bike + accessories. Seriously. Thats a lot of money! I'm still leaning towards Specialized, though. The components are all around better than the other two bikes, and it is just a little bit more expensive. I'm going around later today and tomorrow to test ride all three bikes.

I stopped by and talked to one of the ride leader's from the local bike club to talk about different routes in the area. He busted out a folder that had at least 200 routes in it, and picked out the shorter ones for me to do. I picked his brain about a lot of biking stuff to try and balance out what would be the best choice.

My hip is feeling fantastic today, even after running yesterday! I'm feeling like this horrible road is almost over, as long as I'm patient in rebuilding my miles. Needless to say, I'm in the best mood in a long time!

Swimming tonight. I think I figured out my "sinking" problem from a few weeks ago, so it should go a whole lot better!

And.... some responses to various comments!

Bill -- I know exactly what you mean.

Marcy -- Since I MUST tell you, I weight 135 dripping wet. My metabolism is on crack, I exercise a lot, eat good, and haven't lifted weights for who knows how long. What do you expect?!

Nancy -- Don't get me started on this professor. I think "jerk" is very mild compared to what I could come up with!

Monday, November 26, 2007

Rainy Run!

Woooo! Best run in ages! I just ran a rockin' 1.28 miles in the rain. No, a complete downpour. I was smiling the entire way. I got some pretty weird looks, but it was amazing!

Here's proof of the run:

I'll Call it Progress

These last several days have been absolutely crazy.

Its mostly been due to school. I had an assignment the professor claimed would take him about 40 hours to complete. Needless to say, my Thanksgiving break wasn't much of a break. But its finally over. The cold I caught last week is done too. I'm no longer blowing twice my body weight out of my nose every day, which I think is definitely progress!

My TFL was a little sore after my monumental 1.5 mile run on Friday, so I took a couple days off. No shame in that. I'm feeling great again today and am going to go out for another run this evening after class. As long as I can keep running a little bit and recover from it, I'll be able to say I'm on the road to recovery!

I did a little thinking on my drive back to Kentucky last night about what could be causing my TFL to get sore from minimal amounts of running. The TFL is on the side of the leg, so it shouldn't be used too much for propelling me forward. As far as I understand it is mostly designed to keep things stable, but correct me if I'm wrong. Then I started thinking about what could cause me to use my TFL more, what would make it wear out so fast?

The only answer I can come up with is that I'm pushing off at an angle. If my body or leg is rotated too much, I might engage my TFL more when pushing off. On my way to class this morning I noticed my left leg was turned in slightly, so I'm making a conscious effort to undo it. I know with runners who pronate they say NOT to try and reverse the pronation, because it will only cause more damage. Is this similar, or does it somehow fall in another category?

I'm hoping I'm onto something here, but it could just be my sleep deprived brain (3 hours of sleep last night, woohoo!) telling me stories. Either way, I'm going to try concentrating on this one detail during my run tonight, and we'll see how I feel tomorrow.

Here's to progress,

-Doug

Friday, November 23, 2007

One Point Five Miles

I'm really moving up in the world now! I actually left the subdivision, however briefly, when I went for my run this morning.

My hip felt good during the run, afterwards its feeling tight again. It doesn't really hurt, but it doesn't feel perfectly normal. I stretched out good before and after, which made it feel quite a bit better. We'll see how its doing later.

Right now the plan is to run every other day, increasing by half a mile each run. Once I get up to 4-5 miles I'll start to feel like I'm in the clear, I think. For now, each run feels like a pretty major milestone, but I'm not letting myself get too excited until I know I can sustain running every other day without doing damage.

On another note, Thanksgiving dinner was pretty good yesterday. I woke up with a pretty nasty cold and had to do homework all day, so it wasn't an ideal holiday, but we had some really great food and I got to hang out with the family for a while. Its so nice to have good food again after living like a college student the past couple months!

Time to get back to the ol' homework so I can think about swimming tonight!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Me and THIS Army!

Earlier today Helen Hip started to be a very minor nuisance again. Nothing major, but we had another super-duper conversation I thought I should share.

Helen: I'm not touching you!
Doug: Quit it.
H: Not touching youuu!
D: Go home!
H: Whyyy, I'm soo not touching you
D: Enough already, get OUT OF HERE!
H: But.. but... I'M NOT TOUCHING YOU!
D: Leave, or I'm gonna kick your butt!
H: You and what army?!
D: Me and THIS army:
  1. Mom
  2. Dad
  3. Brenda
  4. Adri
  5. Dave
  6. Uncle Bill
  7. Grandma
  8. Aunt Susan
  9. Sheryl
  10. John
  11. Nick
  12. Megan
  13. Uncle Joe
  14. Lewis
  15. Susan
  16. Jonathan
  17. Uros
  18. Molly
  19. Dave
  20. Brian
  21. Ryan
  22. Tero
  23. Steve P
  24. Steve K
  25. Paul
  26. Greg
  27. Holly
  28. Jason
  29. Dr. Mertz
  30. Dr. VanCleave
  31. Joe
  32. Erin
  33. Jess
  34. Jes
  35. SLB
  36. Amy
  37. Tom
  38. Marcy
  39. Nic
  40. Bill
  41. Nancy
  42. Dave
  43. P.O.M.
  44. Perry
  45. Lauren
  46. Jessica
  47. Brad
  48. Chris
  49. Dan
  50. Larry
  51. Jim
  52. Dawn
  53. Mike
  54. Jill
  55. Kristin
  56. Cathrine
  57. Skip
  58. Tracy
  59. Chris
  60. Chad
  61. Jeff
Thanks to anybody and everybody who has shown support during these past few months. I started making this list, and it turned out to be a LOT longer than I ever anticipated it being! Even if I'm going through some tough times with this hip, I have a lot of people rooting for me to get better, and its really appreciated! But not only is it appreciated, it helps keep me from doing anything stupid. Going out and hurting my hip by trying to come back too fast will effect much more than just me.

Metaphors aside, my hip is feeling fairly good this evening. The usual tightness is still there. There is one muscle which is a little worse than the other, but it isn't anything that has hurt before. And once again, its just tight, not sore. I'm thinking about going swimming in a little bit, and then I might run in the morning. If I run it will once again be no more than a mile. Once I master the slow mile, I'll let myself move up in distance.

Have a great Thanksgiving!

One Mile

I ran my mile. I ran it in 8:25. As usual it felt fine during the run, just a little tight in the areas which have been tight these past few days. Nothing I would call pain.

But it never hurts during the run. Its usually much later in the day it starts hurting.

Your move, hip!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

I Glow in the Dark! (Day 28 of 28)

Today I got a whole lot of x-rays. Maybe a bajillion. Actually, I think I had 7 or 8 total of several different angles of my hip and lower back. At first I was only getting them to confirm that nothing major was wrong, but a few things did turn up. Although, the good doctor (my dad) doesn't think anything is wrong which would cause the problems with my hip.

In short, we found that my right SI joint is a little 'off' and the end of my spine curves a little more than normal, aka I have a "shelf butt." I'm sure thats the technical term, too!

The chiropractor that works at my dad's office gave me a bunch more exercises to do. Surprisingly, there was no overlap whatsoever with the ones my PT gave me. I guess they just have two completely different approaches? Most of the new ones are all for strengthening my core, which falls in line with my winter goals, so I'm game!

Tomorrow is my debut. One mile. Nice and easy. Just a tease for what (I hope) is coming up!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Day 26 of 28

Today was my 26th rest day in a row, with regards to running anyways.

Right now I am feeling great. Occasionally one of the tendons in the front of my leg feels pretty tight, my PT says its likely my rectus femoris, which runs from the hip to the knee. It bothers me the most right after a shower, probably because the heat causes inflamation? Besides that, I have no other complaints at the moment. Much better than a few weeks ago!

I'm getting antsy to run, no doubt, but I'm going to put it off until Wednesday as I was advised to do by Rob. I'm thinking the first day back is going to be an easy two miles, around 8:00-8:30 pace. Heck, I doubt I can go much faster than that after taking a full month off! Hows this running thing work? I put one leg in front of the other? Then... do it again? Gah! So confusing!

Luckily I have plenty to keep me busy these next few days, so I shouldn't be getting too horribly antsy. After teaching class and going to class I'm heading back to Illinois! Although, I'm not going straight home. Not yet. I have people to visit on the way.

I'm making a pit stop in Champaign to visit a friend who goes to U of I. I foresee a night full of eating pizza, drinking beer, catching up for a while, and maybe playing some Guitar Hero?

Tuesday I finish off my drive home and get to see the family again! As soon as I get back I'm heading to my dad's office to get an X-ray of this hip, just to double check there isn't something wrong which has slipped by the PT thus far. Probably a good thing to have anyways when dealing with an injury as persistent as this one, right?

Then, finally, the big day! On Wednesday I finally get to run for the first time in almost a month! Right now I'm pretty optimistic, as is my PT. My dad also told me he had a similar injury several years ago, where it mostly healed up but had some really minor problems that stuck around for a while; until he ran. Once he ran, the remainder of the symptoms cleared up. I'm really, really, really hoping this is similar! I feel like this road has to be coming to an end soon. I mean hell, Dave tore three ligaments in his ankle and came back sooner than me!

See you all on the flip side!

Claire Markwardt Has Guts!

Think you have guts? I don't think you do. I don't think I do, either. Not compared to this girl.

In a recent cross country meet Claire Markwardt's leg broke in the home stretch of the race. And not all at once, either. According to this article & video it broke a little more for several steps, until it finally gave out.

Did she quit? I think not. She crawled across the finish line. With a leg broken so badly you can actually see it bend just a little bit past the knee if you look at the video carefully.

Talk about determination.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

My Bike Shop Adventure

This morning was a blur of numbers. Big numbers. Numbers bigger than I wanted them to be!

Yes, I went to look at road bikes. Entry level road bikes. The cheapest road bikes each of the three bike shops in town had. The result? Well, here are the three I'm considering if I decide I can live off of rice, PB & J, and chicken sandwiches for the next few months.


Giant OCR 3 -- $650

Here's the first one I looked at. At this shop they didn't take it off the shelf or anything since I wasn't buying anything today. The shop had a fair selection, but this was the cheapest bike they had which could be considered a road bike. The employee I dealt with, Brad, was very informative both regarding the bike and what else I would need to start biking. After looking at reviews online, it seems like a good bike. The main complaint I've seen is that the stem creaks.


Trek 1.2 -- $700


At the second shop, this was about all they had for entry level bikes. They didn't seem to have a very big selection, but for road bikes this was it. Its a replacement for the Trek 1000 which was a very popular bike. The main complaint I see in online reviews is that it is very noisy. This shop didn't do anything with used bikes, either, so this is as cheap as it goes at the second shop.


Specialized Allez -- $770 (Used: $570)

At my third and final shop they had a really good selection. But for road bikes, it was all about the Specialized Allez. The current year's model was a little ways above my price range, but they also had some lightly used ones! They rent out bikes, and sell the bikes from the previous season for 20% off, and happened to have this one for sale. According to Rick, the guy who was helping me out, these bikes are used very lightly and it probably has no more than a couple hundred miles on it. Also, maintenance is performed every time they get back from being rented. I know I need to be leery about the used bike, but it seems like a fairly good deal for a starter bike.

Rick was very useful at this shop, and let me go out in the parking lot and ride it around to get a feel for it. He adjusted the seat to give me a better fit on it as well. He also talked a lot about sizing and he really seemed as though he had a passion for biking. Looking at online reviews, there are a lot of good things said about this bike. A lot of people are saying its the fastest bike in its price range, but that it can feel fragile. I'm thinking since I don't weigh much that this negative could almost be canceled out? I'm not sure. I'm going to give myself a week to really think about this.


Between the three bikes, I'm leaning towards the Specialized Allez. I'm not sure if its because I actually got to ride it, or because Rick was very, very helpful. Regardless, it seems to be the best, and between the bikes it seems the cons matter least for this bike for my purposes. The only thing I'm set off by after this morning is the prices. I was hoping entry level bikes would be a little bit cheaper, but theres nothing much I can do about that.

If you have experience with bikes, let me know what you think! I'm all for input right now, lets hear it!

Friday, November 16, 2007

Controlled Flame

My passion for running is starting to burn strong again these past few days. This busted hip is starting to feel rather, well, not busted. I've been running across the street when the cross walk timer is running out and not paying for it afterwards. I've been able to do the stretches I used to avoid because they were doing damage to my hip. I've been walking up hills without feeling even a small twinge in my hip. I've been wanting to run, bad!

But I'm not going to. Not now. Not yet. Not until Wednesday.

I'm looking at it like a controlled flame. I want to run. I can even give myself convincing reasons to run, but if I slip up at all now it could burn out of control. I could ruin all of the progress I've made these past 606 hours of not running.

I need to keep the blaze under control for at least the next month. The plan is to start out next Wednesday, which I'm hoping will go very well, and slowly allow myself to do more and more until I'm built up to a respectable base. If all goes according to plan, I hope to be back up to 20-30 miles per week by mid December.

But regardless of how I feel, the plan is still to view my running as a controlled flame. I can run. I can allow myself to do more. But for the first month I am not allowed to do as much as I want to, not by a long shot.

Feel free to get out your hose if things are getting out of control.

Until Wednesday, Nancy is going to have to keep running for me.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Minor Triumphs

Today was pretty busy, hence me not posting anything until 11:41PM. Swimming went really poorly today. I started out the workout hungry, started to get heartburn halfway through, and for some reason all the good form I learned the past week completely disappeared.

Since I felt like crap afterwards, I decided to focus on the little triumphs today:
  • I aced another assignment I swore I bombed
  • I touched my toes without bending my knees for the first time in over 22 years
  • I finished an assignment that I procrastinated way too long (see #4 from yesterday's post)
  • I shared a lot of useful information on running with a girl at the PT's office who is planning to start running soon
  • I stuck with the swimming tonight no matter how frustrated I got
  • I have enough self control not to run until Wednesday, despite feeling truly injury free today

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Five Fun Facts

Well well, I've been mass tagged by both Jess and Jes. Neither of them specifically said "Doug, you're it!" They're both cheaters and said "teehee, you're all it! All of you!" But... I guess I'll count it, because I don't have anything else to talk about today!

The theme is five random things about me.
  1. I check my email more than anyone ever should. Since I use Gmail, which auto refreshes my inbox, checking my email is simply a quick glance. Because of this, I usually know when I have email within 5 minutes of getting it. A lot of the time I delay responding because I don't want people to think I'm as weird as I am!
  2. My last name, Cichon, is Polish. We pronounce it sy-kon. However, in Polish it is pronounced key-shown, so even my Polish professors can't pronounce my last name correctly. Only three people in my entire life have ever guessed how to pronounce it on their first try.
  3. I'm the asshole who set the curve on the assignment we got back in my Numerical class this morning. Thats right, I got a 100% on an assignment worth ~13% of my grade. Ha! Also, the professor told us to have this assignment halfway done about 10 days before it was due. I started 3 days before it was due. Ha again! (Sorry, I had to brag a little!)
  4. I never view myself as a procrastinator, but this semester I've started big time. I really need to cut it out. Its getting out of control, but I still am pulling the grades I need to.
  5. My sister and I get along better than any siblings I've ever met. We probably talk online at least 4-5 times a week. And for some strange reason we always great each other with "BROTHER!" and "SISTER!" as though it was our actual names. I'm clueless as to where it started, or who started it, but it cracks everybody up!
  6. I'm adding a sixth because I'm a rebel like that. Posting my metaphorical "Two Month Anniversary" entry a few days ago almost doubled my hits, since it comes up as the 6th result on Google. Apparently love was in the air two months ago!
And, since I seem to be making a habit of it, heres some responses to various comments made recently:

Dave - Its good to know I'm not the only one injured right now. How is your ankle healing up?

Amy - I haven't completely ignored your comments about walking. However I'm not much for walking just to walk, I do walk just about everywhere. Its about 3/4 of a mile to class, and I go there and back twice every day. I also walk to the pool, which is a little over a mile, 3-4 times a week. Also, if tri's really are more addicting than running, my social life is doomed forever!

Marcy - I'll take being a lunatic as a compliment, since you like the crazy ones!

Bill - Do we have to make another gentlemen's agreement after I run my 3 hour marathon?

If I just responded to your comment, consider yourself tagged. Since thats only four, I'm tagging SLB too, since he did me the favor several months ago!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Debut Delayed

Well, running is delayed another week. But, in all honesty, it's probably for the best, right?

I had another appointment with my PT this morning, and he's telling me to take it easy with the running until I go home for Thanksgiving next week. So I have one more week to wait, although deep down I think I'm glad he's telling me to wait. He's the first person who has told me I need to hold off on the running. Until now, everybody else has been saying I need to try it out and see how it goes, even though I haven't felt like my body is ready for it. Maybe this extra week will be enough.

But I do have even more exercises to do now, just more to keep me busy! Right now I think I'm actually spending more time on my fitness than I was when I ran 40 miles a week. I have 90 minutes a day of stretching and PT exercises per day, ab workouts 3 times a week, and swimming about 5-6 hours a week. All in all we're talking about 18 hours a week, man does it add up fast!

Thats almost as many hours of training spent when training for an Ironman.

Crap, I said it out loud.

Monday, November 12, 2007

"I'm back!" Well, my appetite is, anyways!

My appetite back in full swing. I blame the swimming. For the past month or two, since my training decreased dramatically, my appetite has followed suit. I was actually eating as much as a normal human being for a while, about 2500 calories a day!

Without further a due, I would like to announce I just ate an entire pizza in one sitting. One thousand two hundred calories without flinching. In fact, I'm still kind of hungry. Maybe I'll go eat a horse. I guess getting back into working out after two weeks completely off will do that to me, eh? I'm kind of afraid of what will happen when I can pick up running again and am also swimming a couple times a week. My grocery bill is going to double!

I'm still considering making Wednesday my debut, after taking 21 consecutive days off from running. Tomorrow I meet with my PT, so I'm going to bounce the idea off him to see if two miles would be a reasonable risk to take. My hip has been feeling fan-freaking-tastic these last few days, although a different (but maybe related?) pain has popped up in my lower back on the opposite side. Its really minor, but worth etching in stone on the internet.

And yes, Weirdo-Who-Takes-Tons-Of-Pictures-In-The-Bathroom, I mean Marcy, I have been toying with the idea of triathlons. There is a lot of overlap between my running groups and the swim team I joined last week, the majority of which are triathletes. To be honest, I've been thinking about triathlons maybe a little more than I should be! Looking at my training and injuries, its pretty clear I have more energy than I should be applying just to running. Spreading my energy out over a few different sports might be the trick to really staying strong.

While toying with the idea of triathlons, I decided to take a really quick, brief glimpse at tri-bikes. Holy crap are they expensive, low end bikes run four digits! I think the high end ones cost more than my car is worth. Although, really, I get running shoes every 300-350 miles, which equates to about 6 pairs a year (assuming I stay injury free, ha!). If the bike lasted at least two years, I would be spending lass than I do on running shoes.

Bill and Jess, I'm clueless to what my 'secret' is. This summer as an intern at Caterpillar this it was exactly the same way; nearly all female friends, but hey, I had people to bike and go rock climbing with! If anybody can tell me my 'secret', let me know and I'll do it more, maybe I could break out of this single status and get me a free butt massage? (free like a puppy!)

And finally, I need to send a HUGE congratulations to Bill for running a 2:58:20 marathon. With DEAD EVEN splits between the first and second halves. Who else can do that? No one, thats who! Go check out his race report, complete with a picture of him looking like the super hero he is!

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Todd's Road Reunion

Yesterday there was a reunion with one of my running groups, Todd's Road Stumblers. This meant I got to go out and socialize with everybody I hadn't seen in two months, without having to destroy my hip! Woohoo!

It was great to see everybody. A few people, apparently, had been talking about me and wondered if I fell off the face of the Earth. Nope, I'm still around! Just need to wait for this hip to give me the go ahead (Wednesday?).

Everybody was asking me about the race, but it almost seemed weird to claim the attention. Sure, I ran 3:21 over a month ago, but have barely ran since. I don't even feel like a runner anymore, but I guess I was a month ago huh? Its hard to remember! Right now the most I run is across the street if the cross walk timer is running out.

Swimming is starting to get quite a bit easier now. I went and swam about 30 minutes yesterday, and did 90 minutes of drills today. Yesterday I started paying attention to my heart rate when I swim and noticed something peculiar. Swimming 25 yards (one length of the pool) gets my heart rate up to around 170, which is similar to my heart rate if I run a 6:30 mile. And believe you me, I'm not swimming anything close to equivalent to a 6:30 mile!

Drills are getting much easier now. I can breathe without gagging (most the time), no longer kick like I'm trying to run across the pool while laying horizontal, and my stroke is starting to look halfway decent. Maybe Susan will have me doing actual swimming sometime this week?

Also, I've had water in my ear for the past two days. It sucks. Anybody have a good way to get it out? Sitting here giving myself whip lash by swinging my head around isn't working, its just scrambling my brains. I really don't want to try and use a plunger, but it might come down to it. Update: There is a God. I got the water out of my ear.

And since I'm procrastinating, some responses to comments left recently.

Marcy: Hmm, I don't know about letting stuff hang out. Maybe I should just get some trunks that aren't black, like these bike shorts: http://iwannagetphysical.blogspot.com/2007/02/why-bike-shorts-are-black.html

Amy: Actually, that first swim wasn't too much fun. But its getting a lot better. I can see myself getting really into it. As if I already haven't... I've swam three times in the last four days!

Jess: Go for it! If running isn't doing it for you lately, maybe try mixing it up a bit? I'm liking the variety. Seeing improvement every time really helps with motivation.

Nancy: Yeah. You would definitely kick my butt in the pool. Not to compare you to an old man, but I'm about to. Yesterday I was swimming laps, minding my own business, when an older guy got in the lane next to me. It didn't look like he was going that fast, so I decided to start one of my laps right when he did. He smoked me, bad! And made it look easy!

Friday, November 9, 2007

Lungs, Not Gills

Last night was my first time swimming in, oh, about 10-12 years. I was on a swim team when I was much younger, around junior high age. Me and my sister both swam, neither of us very competitive (you know, because we were 10), but we could at least stay above water and reach the other end of the pool.

Thats about where I am now. Yesterday my coach, Susan, had me swim one length of the pool at the start. Honestly, I did a whole lot better than I had imagined I would. I actually made it to the other end without gagging on water! But, after that, came over an hour of drills. Drills kick my butt!

I only swam the one normal lap the whole night. I did a lot of side swimming and breathing exercises, which is apparently what I need. I think I swallowed more water last night than I'd drank all week! Except it didn't make it to my stomach, it consistently went straight to my lungs!

So, am I discouraged? Nope. Not at all. I would say I'm more fascinated than anything. Swimmers make all of it look so natural and easy, and I'm fairly clueless as to how as of right now. Although I will give myself some credit, because I definitely made a lot of progress in the 90 minutes I was swimming and I'm sure I'll make even more my next time to the pool!

Since last night, I started reading up on various swimming topics to try and pick up little tid bits of information here and there. I'm looking at form, training techniques, and, most importantly, etiquette. The first two are important because, well, if I can't do them, chances are I won't be getting a good workout in. The more efficient I can be, the better aerobic workout I will get overall.

Etiquette is really important to me too. Since I'm new, I really am wanting to avoid being 'that guy' at the pool who is being a pain the ass from not knowing all the rules of the game. Most of what I'm wanting to get down is how to share lanes, because that pool was really, really packed last night! I'd say there were about 15-20 lanes, and every lane at 2-5 people in it! I guess people really do take advantage of the world class facility we have at UK.

After swimming, I'm pretty sore. My ankles are really hurting because Susan had me wearing flippers for most of the drills. Besides that, my glutes and hip flexors are pretty sore too. Thats good, though, because a lot of the exercises I'm doing are designed to strengthen those areas. To me this translates swimming as fewer running injuries! My hip is feeling great today, maybe next week (I'm thinking Wednesday) I'll give that running thing another shot, if I remember how!

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Two Month Anniversary

For the majority of our lives, we have simply co-existed mostly unaware of each other's presence. Its hard to believe its been two months already. Two months since the sweet nothings were whispered in my ear: "HEY! PAY ATTENTION TO MEEEE!!!"

Yep. Good old Helen Hip. Wonderfully irritating. Our other high moments include her saying "I want a massage!!!" and "Buy me something!!!!" (usually drugs). Lately she has mostly quieted down, since I started getting abusive with ASTYM and paying people to nearly skin her alive. It seems to make her behave a little more. Although after biking on Tuesday she piped up with her usual "Stop making me work so hard! I'm tired! My feet hurt!! Why don't you love me anymore?!?"

Since biking is starting to make her grouchy, I've decided to cut that out of my plan for a little while. In a few hours, I'm going to try and drown her in the pool. Hopefully it will at least keep her quiet. If it does, I'm going to keep at that several times a week and see if we can simply co-exist as we were doing for the past 22 years.

Okay. I'm all out of metaphor.

Today was my third day of ASTYM. I'm starting to feel pretty good, even after my hip acting up yesterday. I'm attributing it to biking, and today my physical therapist, Chris, said my injury sounds similar to one he sees in a lot of endurance bikers. So, that means no biking. This swimming thing really better work for me, or I'm going to be going real crazy, real soon.

You might also notice that in my first three visits to the PT, I have seen three different people. The bouncing around is almost done, since I believe Rob's life is settling down enough for him to get back to work, and fixing my hip! Although it has been a nuisance to switch PTs the way I have been, it has been nice to see other people with varying experiences think this is the best route to attack my problem with.


Best of luck to Bill this Saturday at the Richmond Marathon! He's trained his butt off this year, and I think he's ready to go under three hours. The weather is looking perfect for him, the forecast says 44 degrees at the start, and 52 degrees at the finish. Almost no chance of rain, and wind varying from 3-7 mph. It doesn't get much better than that! Go get 'em, Bill! You the man!

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Back At It

I took these last two weeks completely off. No running, no exercise bike; I was letting my body just heal up without needing to recovery from workouts. To the untrained eye, it may have appeared I was being lazy. Maybe to the well trained eye too, but anybody who claims I was being lazy, I'm just going to accuse of not having a well trained eye! Ha!

Today I finally at least jumped on the exercise bike. It was good. Real good. As boring as it is to work my tail off to stay in one place, it felt wonderful to have everything in motion again: heart beating, legs pumping, my body being turned into one big gatorade filter. Gotta love it! Surprisingly enough, I haven't lost that much fitness over these past few weeks of being a bum. I ended up going 11.02 miles in 30 minutes, not too shabby! Don't crunch the numbers Marcy, you'll only find out that I 'smoked your ass'!

Also, yesterday I mentioned thinking of switching physical therapists, and the decision has already been made. But not by me. By my PT's wife. Or, well, technically it was made by their baby who decided to be born yesterday! Since he has so much going on, I'm getting shifted around to a lot of different PT's within his group. I'm not complaining, though, because after seeing other therapists I think I will better be able to tell who I like best.

The verdict after today, though, is that I like this new guy better. Nothing against Rob, but I think the new PT has a lot more experience with runners. He mentioned several times today similar experiences with other runners, and although he acknowledged I don't sound like an easy case, he made it sound as though it was very manageable.

He explained it pretty well, too. Essentially the bursa sacs (inside the joint where the pelvis and femur meet) and the IT band can aggravate each other in endurance athletes. But it turns into a "which came first, the chicken or the egg?" problem, since the IT band can become inflamed and irritate the bursa sacs, or vice versa. So the solution? Treat both, and also strengthen the entire area.

It makes sense to me, and I feel like we really have a handle on it. He also suggested a general game plan, and, um, it sounded almost identical to what I posted yesterday. Maybe I do know what I'm talking about, despite being injured for the last 2 months? His suggestion was to start being active again with biking and swimming, then next week run 1/3 of my goal mileage for the end of therapy, which is 10 miles. From there we continue to add mileage until I'm up to my goal of 30 miles/week by the end of therapy.

Tomorrow: more time on the bike, maybe 40-60 minutes. Thursday: The swimming begins. Its good to be back to being active!

Monday, November 5, 2007

The Game Plan

These past few days when I've been, you know, not running, I've started thinking a lot about my game plan. And not what I want to do. I'm thinking about what I need to do. Now I'm sharing it to make sure my brain is making sense!

So far I have not ran for two weeks. My hip is feeling mostly okay. After proctoring an exam tonight it is kind of sore, but I was on my feet for about three hours non stop, what do you expect? However, this tells me one thing: it isn't healed up yet. It needs more time. If it needs more time, it gets more time. It really is as simple as that.

These last two weeks, though, I've pretty much been a lazy bum. I haven't done anything, with the exception of the stretching and core workouts I started recently. My cardiovascular fitness is probably fading away more and more every minute. This week I plan to be much more active. I'm going to start hitting the exercise bike again. I'm starting swimming this week too. I'm going to not only sustain fitness, but regain it. I not only want to, I need to!

I've been thinking about my physical therapist too, and the fact he doesn't 'get' runners is starting to bother me. Should this bother me? I think it is right for me to feel a little uncomfortable by this. I'm not going to make any decisions yet, but if he pushes me to run too soon I might consider switching to someone new before I have a huge commitment. A friend of mine recommended someone who is supposed to be really good with runners; if only the recommendation came sooner!

Right now I'm considering next Monday to be the soonest I will attempt a run. No matter how I feel. No matter what anybody says. I know my body. I know its the right thing to do. My hip feels significantly better after two weeks of rest than it ever has from one. I am just worried this logic will continue, and I'll end up taking months off. Not a cycle I want to fall into! But for now, at least, I know this is the right decision. There are plenty of other ways I can keep in shape while my hip returns to normal.

And finally, a response to all those who are expressing their thoughts about tri's. So far, it is merely a consideration. I haven't even put a toe in the pool yet. It won't happen unless I really enjoy swimming. Also, I'm always going to be a runner at heart. Bill, our gentlemen's agreement to go under 3 still stands; don't you worry, I just need to get injury free first! And if it is going to take significant amounts of cross training to stay injury free as a runner, so be it. I will cross train and greet the new events that come with it head on!