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


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,


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:

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!

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Something New to Tri

I decided its time to try something new. I have way too much free time on my hands now that school has died down a little bit. I considered the following things to try and become: juggler, binge drinker, drug addict, swimmer, or body builder.

I considered binge drinking because, well, everybody else is doing it, right?! Yeah. No thanks. I think I'll keep these brain cells and kidneys around as long as I can. Ditto for becoming a drug addict. I like my brain.

Body builder? Hmmm, nope. Don't think so. The average body builder's arms are about the size of my legs. If not bigger. I think you can count me out on that one too. Putting on 80 lbs of muscle would probably add a few seconds to my marathon time, don't you think?

Juggling could become my new key hobby until I can run again, except one thing. Its really not that great of a workout. It is fun, thats for sure, but its just that: fun. I'll keep doing it to see if I can get it down pat, but I don't see myself aspiring to be a joggler any time soon!

Well, that sure narrows down the list. Whats left? Ah yes. I could become a swimmer. Swimming is a full body workout with great cardiovascular benefits to boot. Back in the day (when I was 10-12) I was on a swim team. I don't really remember anything from it except I had to swim across the pool and try not to be last. I won a few times, I lost a few times. I was never exceptional by any means.

A few weeks ago my chiropractor told me about the Master's Swim Team on campus here at UK for individuals 19 and older. The team has a really good head coach, Susan Bradley-Cox, who is a tri-athlete that competes on the international level; she has three world title's for her age group (55-59). I mostly discounted the suggestion when Mike made it, because I figured I'd be running again in a week. Nope! I started considering it pretty heavily again today. I've had way too much free time on my hands this weekend; really, WAY too much.

I sent Susan an email today to get some information about the team. It should be a great way to stay in shape and meet people at the same time.

Maybe I'll really enjoy it, maybe I won't. If I do, I'm already thinking about starting to tri.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

My Forest Fire

Forest fires have been all over the news lately. As tragic as they are, they are (ideally) a completely natural process. Caused by excessively dry weather or lightning strikes, they can be caused without any assistance from us. But they are not all bad. The fires will kill off a large area of the forest, if not the whole thing. However, they leave the ground fertile, letting the forest regrow over time, perhaps even healthier than before.

Not completely unlike an injury.

We spend weeks, months, years building up our mileage. Over time, little aches and pains come and go. Some forcing us to take a few days off, others merely a discomfort we need to deal with. But eventually it happens: our bodies get pushed too far.

When this happens, we're forced to take time off. Forced to stop growing for a little while. Much of the progress we have made over the past few weeks or months slowly fades as we are sidelined. But not without a benefit.

After being unable to train for several weeks, our bodies recover. Most of the accumulating micro tears heal. The muscles rebuild completely and are ready to take on another round of training; completely fresh and ready to go.

These injuries don't just happen to us mortal runners. Even the top tier runner's suffer through injury after injury. Kara Goucher suffered through multiple injuries for nearly three years. Her husband, Adam, is the same way. To what result? Adam came back and ran the 3rd fastest American 2 mile ever, and Kara brought a bronze medal home from the World Outdoor Champs in the 10K at Helsinki.

Yes, the time we are forced to take off is unfortunate. In fact, it can be down right miserable. But in the end, the improvement that follows will make it all worth while. And its right around the corner.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Winter Goals

This was the first week I had to bust out my winter coat. That means its time to bust out my winter goals, too. Everybody else is doing it, what are you waiting for?

Here they are:
  • Stick to my list of physical therapy exercises/stretches as if it was a religious document and I was the pope
  • Regain the 5 lbs of muscle I've lost since graduation
  • Make ab and core workouts a habit
  • Slowly rebuild my mileage up to 40-50 miles per week. Slowly being the key word.
Thats it. Four goals. But each one is doable and will have a significant impact on my running and general fitness. The gaining of weight is probably a very foreign topic to most people. But I, apparently, live in a very different part of the galaxy! Gaining weight is a very difficult thing for me to do; my metabolism is naturally very fast, I (ideally) run 40-50 miles per week, and don't eat much junk food at all. I'm sure you'll agree with this goal after looking at the before picture!

Although I am not part of SLB's Running Through Th3 Wall Challenge, I am going to post my before pictures. It'll help keep me on track. And as usual, no smiling is allowed in the before picture, because that makes the after picture look that much better! Seriously, have you ever seen anybody smile in a before picture?

Putting those running shorts on for the picture sure felt good. They haven't been on for a while. In fact, I still have them on. Call it nostalgia. Maybe I should go grab my mylar blanket from Chicago too?

Notice that none of my goals involve races. Not yet. I am not looking at any races until I can painlessly run 25 miles in a week. Thats my story and I'm sticking to it. Previously, I was considering the Myrtle Beach marathon in February, but it definitely isn't happening due to the amount of time I have needed to take off. The half at Myrtle Beach is a possibility, but I am not even considering it an upcoming race until I can run pain free. My goals listed above are much more important than any race, for now!

The chips are on the table. Its time to get to it!

Thursday, November 1, 2007

A. R. T. -- The End

Today was my last day of A.R.T. for this round of injury. Although it didn't fix my hip, I am still convinced it is a good technique to know about, and to have in my arsenal the next time an injury rears its ugly head! I have a feeling our paths will cross again sometime in the next year or two.

I don't know what hit me last night; perhaps a combination of waking up early, starting ASTYM, and not wanting to do my homework. I decided to lay down while icing my legs, and I was out like a light from 8-10pm. When I woke up I was in "what the hell just happened?!" mode. I wasn't even planning on sleeping. I got up for a little bit, took care of some email, ate some food, and went to bed. For another 11 hours. Eleven freaking hours! At least it gave my leg some good time to recovery from my treatment.

I've been sticking with my stretches and exercises pretty well today; even with the rather intensive schedule of stretching four times a day and doing the exercises twice. I decided the best way to do it is to associate them with eating. I can't eat unless I stretch. Since I always eat breakfast, lunch, dinner, and before bed this system should work out pretty good for me. Then, I suppose, for two of them the exercises will be required as well.

My legs are feeling really, really great today. If I didn't have my self imposed break from running, I definitely would have put in a few miles today! I actually did jog out to my car today, just to see how its feeling. It didn't hurt. Not at all. It down right felt good! But regardless of this, I'm still off for at least another week. I've been here before. I've felt great and had running tear me right back down to square one!

On an unrelated note, class rocked today! No, not because I learned a lot. Far from it. Most of it was just review. My professor, who is an older, short, Chinese guy said: "If someone say, ahhhh, ask you how you do number 4 on homework 8, you know what you tell them? You tell them, ahhh, you go to hell!" Oh man, I hadn't laughed that hard in a while. I'm glad I have him again next semester!