Saturday, December 6, 2008

Nine month anniverrsary

This will be brief, but something worth sharing with those who still check this blog for some strange reason.

It's been 9 months since that fateful day in March that my knee let out a big "F*CK YOU". And after my most recent relapse caused by shopping with my cousin for a few hours, and having to miss class because I dare not walk to campus, I decided it's time to finally do what I really didn't want to do.

Knee surgery is scheduled for 01/28/09. It's part exploratory, but he's planning to cut some tissue on the outside of my right knee, which will hopefully cause part of my knee cap to stop rubbing so badly. Afterwards I should be completely off my knee for a week, on crutches for a 1-2 weeks, and possibly running again after 8 weeks. I'll have to go through therapy yet again so my knee can learn to track properly, but if it will get me active again I'll say it's easily worth it.

If someone else's surgery gets canceled mine might move up. I'll keep you all posted.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Where'd Doug go?

Who the heck is this guy? Where'd he go? Does anybody ever check this anymore? What's he doing posting on his blog? How dare he.

Well, I'll tell you where I went. A few months ago I told myself I wasn't going to post about anything pessimistic. Maybe I'm breaking that rule now, but a few people caught me on Facebook so I thought I'd let you all know how I'm doing. Here goes.

Around the 4th of July, my knee had a pretty huge relapse. The cause could be from a slight increase of mileage while running with my brace, or walking a mile or two without my brace. Regardless, it flared up bad. I started seeing an orthopedic surgeon and got an MRI. The diagnosis a combination of runners knee (chronomalasia - something like that) and quad tendonosis (which is like tendonitis' evil sister). I've done my research and recovery time can take anywhere from months to years to something I'd rather not think about. Hopefully the former rather than the later two.

Since then I've started yet another round of physical therapy, under the guidance of my orthopedic surgeon. We're trying various things from stretching and strengthening, to taping my knee, injections, and ionto. Some of it helps.

Last Friday I was feeling great and decided to try walking to class without my brace (a little under a mile), and have been regretting it since. That sorta puts this situation in perspective, I think.

Well, that's where I've been. I didn't want to post too much pessimistic lately so I just didn't post, but there's the update a few people decided to drag out of me.

Regardless of how poorly the running front has been, the Zafra quote to the right are still words to live by.

So, how are you guys doing?

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Weekly Recap 06/23/08 - 06/29/08

Monday: Rest.

Tuesday: Ran 3 miles. New post-injury distance. Went well.

Wednesday: Rest.

Thursday: Ran 3 miles again, just to make sure the distance is safe.

Friday: Rest.

Saturday: Ran 4 miles. It felt freaking hot outside, but I was also dumb and didn't bring anything to drink. Four miles is definitely the threshold of when I need to worry about hydration. Knee felt fine, but this run kicked my butt.

Sunday: Okay, it's not Sunday yet, but it'll be a rest day.

Total: 10.4 miles

Resting HR: 66 bpm


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

Okay, Bill. You're right. I'm back. I've run every other day for the past two weeks with very little noise from my knee. I'm still being --very-- cautious about stretching, icing, and what not. I don't even dare run without my knee brace, either. In a week or two I might try a mile or two without it, but no promises there.

Next week I'm going to try and go swimming some time, although I'm going to avoid any TNT or Master's practice because I really don't want the "Holy crap! Doug's back!" response when I'm just jumping in to swim (read: thrash around for) a couple laps.

I still don't trust my bike. I just have a gut feeling biking would be a bad idea. If I find out swimming works again, I'll try giving the bike a shot. Until then, though, the bike will have to simply do it's job leaning against the wall in the other room.

I hope all is well in your worlds, mine is definitely starting to shape up again.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Weekly Recap 06/16/08 - 06/22/08

Prelude, Sunday night: I called home and was talking to my old man. He suggested going for a run since everything seemed to stop changing with my knee. His philosophy: If it hurts and you run, or it hurts if you don't run, you might as well run! So... I cautiously gave it a shot!

Monday: One mile. It was raining, but I still kept it to one mile. Pace: 7:58, heart rate: 174

Tuesday: Rest, duh!

Wednesday: One mile again. Still feeling pretty good! Pace: 8:03, heart rate: 172

Thursday: Takin' it easy

Friday: Two miles. Hooooeyyyy, progress! Pace: 7:48, heart rate: 177

Saturday: Being a bum.

Sunday: Two miles and change. Pace: 7:47, heart rate 176

Total: 6.4 miles

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

Hey, look at that! Doug's running!

So as usual (is it bad I have a "usual" for coming off of injuries?), my speed sorta stuck around while I was getting out of shape, but I have ZERO endurance. At the end of two miles on Friday, my quads were already starting to ache. Also, my heart rate is simply out of control. I guess thats what I get for doing nothing at all for a couple months, huh?

Regardless of what shape I'm in, it's GREAT to be running again.

By the way, the triathlon I was supposed to do with TNT is today. Good luck to everybody out there!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Hawaii Pictures

Hey look, its me again! As promised, here are Hawaii pictures. The jet ski story will wait until next time, whenever that is. Sorry Nic, there wasn't a monster crash, but the story might be on par with one.

Without further delay, here are some pictures in no particular order.

Not pictured: our luggage.

View from our balcony


Perty.Sister, Dad, & Me

TURTLE! Know why he's tired? He just freaking swam thousands of miles.

They're very strict at Pearl Harbor

Admit it, you're jealous of our SWEET hats!

Hungry?

From the top of diamondhead. Fog is from the volcano on a neighboring island.

For the ladies.

The Beach (Featuring: pasty tourists)

We're a special bunch.

Leaving to go jet skiing. Look carefully and you'll notice I shaved my beard; that didn't last long because I looked like I was 14.

Now, I'm not going to tell the jetskiing story today. I gotta keep you in suspense. Sorry, thems the rules, people. But, I will give you one hint, in picture form of course. It involved waves like these, but bigger:


Sunday, June 1, 2008

Update

Oh, hello there. I didn't see you.

I've been a bad blogger, but that's probably not going to change for the next month or two. But I thought I at least owed a few people an update as to what's been up, and show you all that I am still alive.

The semester ended. I got my A's and headed to Hawaii after a week off. Hawaii was amazing. We went on tours, to a luau, went jet skiing, and ate a couple truck loads of amazing food. My only complaint is the 12 hours of flying both ways, and our luggage getting lost both ways!

Training? Ha. Whats that? I've swam once since my last post, and it was the worst swim ever. Calf cramp => knee started hurting again => shoulder started hurting again. As a result, I haven't done any training in about a month.

I have, however, started physical therapy. My PT thinks he has my issue figured out, so here's whats up with the piece of junk. If you bend your knee, towards the outside theres a bone that sticks out a little bit, its at the end of the femur. Mine sticks out a lot and is sorta sharp (translation: I have boney knees). Normally, not a problem. However, my IT band is tight too, so its pulling my knee cap over the sharp part. Pain!

He gave me a bunch of exercises which hopefully get me on the right track. So far I can't tell much difference but its been less than a week.

There you have it. My life the past month in a nutshell.

If anybody still reads this, let me know and I'll post up some pictures from Hawaii and I'll tell you a super-fun jet skiing story.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Endorphins!

I finally got my fix. Oh yes, I got my fix!

After about two weeks off (not counting last Sunday's 1/4 mile swim), going back at it felt AMAZING! After being pretty much shut down for that long, nothing can quite describe how pumped up I am right now, so I'm not even going to try.

Since I've been a bad blogger lately, here's a summary:
  • Finals are DONE!
  • Exercises for my knee are a go
  • Swimming works again
  • I don't have a care in the world
  • I'M GOING TO HAWAII IN SIX DAYS!
I thought I could make a full post about how pumped I am right now, but nope, not quite. Just know that I am. This thing is turning around.

Life is good.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Weekly Recap 04/21/08-04/27/08

Monday: Bike 10 miles, water run, swim 0.25 miles
Tuesday: Bike 10 miles. Chased by dog. Relapse. Swim 0.25
Wednesday: Rest
Thursday: Rest
Friday: Rest
Saturday: Rest
Sunday: Swim 0.25 miles

Total bike: 20 miles
Total swim: 0.75 miles

----------

Knee hurts worse today than it has in the past two months. Anything else I say would not fit the theme for this blog so we'll just leave it at that.

Okay, now that I'm less sour about being injured I want to update again. This morning was frustrating. My knee was killing me just walking from my car to the pool; this is the first time my knee has interrupted me from every day activities and it really got under my skin.

Swimming went okay. I busted out the pull buoy again and swam maybe 1/4 to 1/2 of a mile. I wasn't counting. I didn't go any further for fear of hurting my shoulder again from pulling an obscene amount.

After looking at the situation from more of a non-pissed-off point of view, I can see my mistake. A month or so I got some exercises to do from my friend Tracy. I started doing them and after a week or two I could bike & swim again. For some crazy reason, I didn't put the two events together. I stopped doing the exercises.

WHAMO! Relapse!

So the goal for this week is to do those exercises a few times a day to strengthen my knee again. Gotta break out the foam roller again too. No more moping. No more feeling bad for my lame self. I'm getting on top of this NOW! With all these people behind me for Team in Training, I can't afford to screw around and let them all down; people are counting on me this time.

To recap:
  • Foam roller my IT band like crazy
  • Strengthen my knee
  • Ace my finals
  • Then... go brain dead for a week
  • Then... GO TO HAWAII!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Relapse

Tuesday it was 70 degrees, sunny, class got canceled, and I just got my Garmin back. A million reasons to go ride 10 miles, so I did, just like several times before.

Got out there, kept it easy.

An unfriendly dog started chasing me.

Sprinted to get away.

Now my knee hurts.

See you homies in a while...

Monday, April 21, 2008

Bwick!

I've been a triathlete in training for several months now, but I've never actually submitted myself to doing a brick (bike + run) workout just yet. And, technically, I still haven't. But I'm getting closer.

Today I HAD to take advantage of the beautiful weather. It was a requirement that was written in the stars. I absolutely had to be outside today. Since I just ran on Saturday, the only option was biking. So I hit the bike for 10 miles. Not so much as a peep from my knee; there hasn't been much noise from it lately!

But that wasn't all on the agenda today. I also wanted to get in some water running before class so I headed to the pool with my chlorinated Mizuno's and got to work. So, lets call it a "bwick"!

Judging from the time and his pace, I'm pretty sure I was doing the water running while Bill was tackling the Newton Hills in Boston; I sent him some good thoughts. Once again, not so much as a peep from my knee even after 30 minutes of water running. Right on!

Clock check.

Fifty minutes til class. I'm not tired. I'm in the pool. Conclusion? It's swimming time.

I started swimming, then decided I was feeling good and did 8x50 on a one minute interval (for non swimmers: that means one minute to both swim the 50 and rest). The interval was 5 seconds faster than I did a couple weeks ago, so I'm seeing some improvement. Right on (again)!

All is good in my world for now, even with it being dead week. I get my Garmin back tomorrow. My next run is scheduled for Wednesday; planning 1.5 miles at an easy pace. Will push it to 2 miles this weekend if all goes well.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Weekly Recap 04/14/08 - 04/20/08

Monday: Swam the broken mile in 31 minutes. I was DEMOLISHED for the rest of the day.

Tuesday: Swam a quarter mile then did 30 minutes of shallow water running.

Wednesday: Biked 10 miles out at Russell Cave.

Thursday: Biked 12 miles around Beaumont Circle, with Team in Training. Swam half a mile. Water ran for 30 minutes. Whew!

Friday: Rest day!

Saturday: Ran one mile!

Sunday: Swam a mile, included the kickboard portion of the workout for the first time in a while.

Total swim: 2.75 miles
Total bike: 22 miles
Total run: 1 mile

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

I finally feel like I'm getting back on my feet. I'm able to bike and swim normally, although I'm still practicing moderation.

Water running is a go again, too. I was able to run yesterday for a mile on a very soft trail without doing any damage to my knee. It felt great to finally be moving again. Once I got running, I felt like running all day long but limited myself to a mile so I don't cause a relapse (also to prevent my coach from killing me)! Today it feels perfectly normal, although I'm still being extremely, extremely cautious.

Although its feeling better, I feel like (NERD ALERT!) Agent Smith at the end of the third Matrix movie: "Is it over?!" (In the movie, it wasn't over)

The game plan is to start running every other day, with every other run being in the water. So the result will be about 2 real runs a week, and I'll slowly build it up to the point that I can run moderate distances again. I really, really want to be able to run 5 miles by June 8th so I can do my first triathlon up in Michigan with my cousin.

The weather is supposed to be AMAZING this next week, so I'm looking at a few days on the bike just to enjoy the great weather.

Boston is tomorrow. Go Bill, Reid, and Nitmos!

Friday, April 18, 2008

Race Weekend

Lets see what's going on this weekend.

Boston Marathon - Doesn't apply to me, but good luck guys!
River to River Relay - The race I was supposed to run tomorrow
Defender Classic 5K - Ah, thats the ticket!

Except, I'm not running this one. I'm timing it.

See, a few years back I wrote some software to time small 5K races. My dad helps direct a small 5K back in my home town and one year asked if I could make their lives easier. The problem was the manual process (that most small races use) takes F-O-R-E-V-E-R. Some races don't get results out until 30-45 minutes after the last person finishes.

So, I wrote a little program that just mimics the process. Rather than manually pushing bib numbers and times around, the computer just matches them up and spits out a list of the winners for each age category. Nothing too fancy. But since computers work a heck of a lot faster than us clumsy humans, I get the results printed out the moment the last person finishes. It works great to keep things moving fast, so long as the operator (me) doesn't make any mistakes along the way!

Well, word got out in Lexington that I wrote this program and I'm helping a friend out tomorrow morning by timing his race.

Races are always exciting to me, even when I'm not running them. It's the atmosphere. All the runners. All the goals. All the encouragement. What's not to love about it?

Then, after the race, I get to run.

Me. Running. Can you imagine that? I'm not sure I can.

I picked up new running shoes today just to weed out every possible thing that could have caused my injury. The plan is also to run at a park nearby that has a dirt path. This should really minimize any impact on my knee and get me through this first run back safely!

The knee feels solid, even after yesterday's crazy workouts and walking about 5 miles today.

Tomorrow is the day I'm supposed to come back to running. I can feel it.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Pooped

No, Jess. I didn't join your team. (Yeah, I went there!)

But I am pooped after a tough night of workouts. Toughest in a while, but you all know thats how I really enjoy it.

Here's the play by play:

At 6:00 I got out to the YMCA we meet at to ride. The weather was B-E-A-U-T-I-F-U-L! Mid 70's. Not a cloud in the sky. A little windy, but nothing to outweigh the perfect weather. I rode 12 miles, practicing a lot with riding with one hand so I can eventually learn to drink while riding. It's a slow process, but I'm making progress! It took every bit of self control I had not to stay out there twice as long.

After that, TNT headed to the pool. Nothing too notable there, but I'm still a bit sore from that mile on Monday. That really kicked me in the butt! I ended up swimming half a mile and stopping because...

It was time to water run! I actually had company this time, which was nice. Another TNT'er, Susan, has a knee injury (skiing accident) and is water running to help build it back up. That lasted about 30 minutes before we called it a night.

All in all that was 2+ hours of working out and although I would have laughed at that a couple months ago, after these past several weeks thats just unheard of!

Hope everybody else is getting to enjoy some great weather! Good luck to Bill, Nitmos & Reid running Boston on Monday, you're gonna ROCK IT!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

One Step Closer

Today was the test. The test to see if I'm okay to attempt a run.

It's something my coach is a big fan of: water running. But this time it was different than before. This time it was shallow (as opposed to deep) water running, so I was actually putting a limited amount of impact on my knees while doing it.

I ran back and forth in the shallow end (4 feet deep, I think) doing anything I could come up with. Running forwards, backwards, side stepping, cross stepping, electric slide, you name it! I even mixed in some high knees, butt kicks, and hot coals from when I used to run track. The idea was to work as many muscles as possible in order to strengthen up my legs and get them ready to run.

And... I passed the test. I went 30 minutes without so much as a peep from my knee.

Here's the short term game plan, assuming all goes well:

Wednesday - Bike 10 miles in sunny 70 degree weather
Thursday - Same as Wednesday + water running
Friday - Rest
Saturday - Run around the block S-L-O-W-L-Y
Sunday - Swim

Monday, April 14, 2008

Broken Mile

This morning I headed to the pool before class to put in a couple laps. I got there, got changed, grabbed a workout; you know the drill (or do now). Then, once again, coach stopped me and said thats not my workout today. Today I got to do her fabled "Broken Mile*"

The Broken Mile consists of 11 lengths, then 10, 9, 8, down to 1. Fifteen seconds rest between each of them; enough to take a short break but not really enough to catch your breathe.

I had never swam that far with that little rest, but I figured it was doable, so I went at it. I warmed up 100 yards (to make sure I swam a real mile today) then got going.

Thirty-three minutes and thirty seconds later I stopped. Then found out I get to subtract the rest off to predict my mile time and BAM!

31 minutes!

I won't be setting any records any time soon, but its a lot better than I (or she) expected. Afterwards I'm pretty sore. I had a few muscles cramp up afterwards and my right shoulder is hurting a little; although I'm still really hoping this is a good hurt, and not the bad hurt from a couple weeks ago.

It was a rewarding workout, and I plan to do it again in the future just to see how low I can go. Its approximately the distance I'll be racing in triathlons all summer too, so hopefully if I can get good at it in the pool I'll be ready to rock when races roll around!

* This is referring to a swimmers mile (1650 yards), not a real mile (1760 yards).

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Weekly Recap 04/07/08 - 04/13/08

Monday: Headed out to Russell Cave and biked a little under 10 miles. Felt great to move, knee spoke up very slightly but I might have been listening too hard.

Tuesday: Knee felt great today, went to the pool to swim. Swam normally. Knee is starting to shape up!

Wednesday: Rest day

Thursday: Biked around 10 miles at Beaumont Circle.

Friday: Swam before class, including 800 yards nonstop, without the pull buoy!

Saturday: Rest day, volunteered at the Master's swim meet

Sunday: Biked 45 minutes on my trainer (lets call it 12 miles).

Total swim: 1.5 miles
Total bike: 31.75 miles

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

Well well, things are finally starting to shape up. As long as I do everything in moderation, I think I'm in the clear with this knee. I stuck to the plan Eric gave me after fitting me to my bike, and so far it has been working without causing too much flare up in the right knee.

Saturday I decided to go help out at the Master's swim meet University of Kentucky hosts. I think I caught the bug. I'm pretty competitive (big surprise, I hope nobody fell out of their chairs on that one!) so just seeing the meet got me thinking "hm, I wonder how hard I'd have to work to get to that level?" And, to be honest, I may just find out over the next year or so.

In other news, I finally sent in my busted Garmin to get fixed. Bout time, huh? I went and picked up a trainer for my bike for days that the weather sucks, too. Ended up getting $40 off since I'm with Team in Training, not bad! And although it's pretty noisy, I talked to the guy that lives below me and he doesn't seem to mind too much; he said it sounded like I was drilling a hole in the floor for 45 minutes though!

This next week should, hopefully, be a repeat of this one. Except one thing. The one thing thats been missing. Wednesday, if I can get permission from my coach, I'm gonna go ahead and attempt another run around the block and see how the knee responds. It's been four weeks since I've ran at all, and six weeks since I've run anything significant, ugh! I'm really hoping to break that streak soon, but if not, biking and swimming will have to keep me sane (that term is relative).

Hope everyone had a great week!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Keeping my yap shut!


Today I got out on the bike again for 10 miles. Damn does it feel good to move! Maybe even too good, judging from the numbers I saw early in my workout.

Yesterday I posted all about keeping it under control. Reigning it in. Stop pushing so hard and spend the next several months staying aerobic. Today at the start of my workout, I caught myself doing the exact opposite just because it felt good. My heart rate was constantly pushing 160 and approached 170 into the wind or going up hills.

I was pushing too hard already. Begging for a relapse a day after setting my goals!

I started watching my heart rate meticulously to try and keep it under control, trying to make an effort to use less effort. No matter what, though, just trying to try less wasn't working for me.

Then, I figured it out. It was simple. I gotta keep my yap shut!

By just breathing through my nose, my legs don't have enough oxygen to push too hard. My heart rate immediately fell to 150 and stayed there. Whenever it got back up towards 160, I couldn't sustain the effort while breathing through my nose.

So, theres the trick to me staying aerobic, and healthy. I don't need a heart rate monitor to tell me. I don't need numbers. As long as I know how to listen, my body can tell me exactly when I'm in the right zone.

Post ride my knee is feeling good. I even jogged across the parking lot at the YMCA and it felt healthy. So long as I'm patient and can keep my yap shut during workouts for the next couple months, I might just be able to build back up injury free!

Image: Chanimal.com

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Game Plan

Two of my favorite runners (if you read this, you're one of my favorites) over at Runner's Lounge are having Take It and Run Thursday once again. This week's topic applies to what has been on my mind lately: training plans.

My main plan for the foreseeable future is "don't over do it!" Big surprise, huh? An injured athlete doesn't want to over do it. But thats my plan and I'm sticking to it. For a while.

I am going to keep the effort on workouts fairly easy. I'm going to live in a world somewhere in between the edge of over training and half-assing it. Normally, I teeter on the edge of over training. Honestly, thats how I like to be. Right on the edge, improving as fast as I possibly can.

But then I inevitably crash. Every time. Thats not where I like to be.

I'm taking a page out of Chuckie V's book and I'm going to go by it this time. I knew it was a good idea before, but I didn't have the patience to do it; as a result, I got injured. Through the end of July I am going to stay away from any anaerobic exercise. None of it. My average heart rate for each workout will be between 150 and 165, with anything above 160 being rare, and anything over 165 being forbidden.

My goal is to be able to live healthy while training. If I want to run to the pool, I want to feel as though I can do it without teetering over that edge of over training.

"But Doug," you say, "won't that slow you down?"

Nope. It won't, unless you're only looking at my 5k time, it will make me better. It will make me stronger because my one limiting factor lately has been injury. Until I can eliminate injury, there's nothing I can do to improve fitness over the course of time. This sporadic training is not going to make me faster in the long run, and backing off from the edge will help me control that variable.

Once August rolls around, I'm going to start incorporating limited anaerobic workouts into my schedule. Starting with very few fast miles and building up through August and September. This should get me in shape to run well at Chicago, but at this point I haven't even ran for a month so I'm going to keep that on the back burner. Let's just say I'm considering backing off my goal at Chicago to 3:10 and shooting for sub 3 at Boston, because I want nothing more than to run Boston with Nic, Bill, Reid, and Nitmos in 2009!

In summary, here's my long term training plan:

April - July: Slow build in all three sports, all aerobic base building. Half ironman at end of July.

August - September: Change focus back to running, and begin limited anaerobic workouts

October: Taper, Chicago Marathon, Recover

November - April: Train for Boston, maintain base in swimming and biking. Maybe use a bastardization of the FIRST training plan to incorporate a lot of cross training.

April - September: Train for something I dare not utter until I complete half of one first.

Well, theres the plan. I guess I better get to it, huh?

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Problem with Swimming

This time when I have a problem, it has nothing to do with any of my joints or muscles; no worries!

I learned something at the pool today that blew my mind. Let me crunch some numbers for you.

1 mile is 1600 meters, you could call it 1.6k if you want to (maybe thats what they would call it in Canada, but you'll never hear me say "I just ran 12 kilometers eh?" (Take that Canadian!) ) Everybody knows this (or does now). Junior high kids know this.

Also, at one point you all knew that a mile is also 1760 yards. I remember this because in The Perfect Mile, they sometimes measured a track in yards and it was 440 yards. 440 yards times 4 is 1760 yards. A mile is 1760 yards no matter how you dice it. No matter freaking what.

Unless you're swimming in a pool (open water is different).

In a pool, they call 1650 yards a mile. Thats weird, because I call 1650 yards 0.9375 miles. I don't get it. Anybody have some answers for me? Are swimmers just slackers and 93% of a mile is good enough?

Anyhoo, thats the end of that rant. I'm still calling 1750 yards a mile because I'm no slacker!


After my first time out on the bike post-injury, I was a little worried today when I woke up. I thought maybe I'd over done it, just by going out there. Maybe I'd put my feet on the floor and feel pain shoot through my knee.

Nope. No shooting pain.

Walking felt 100% fine today, and I did a lot of it, about 7 miles, since I had to be all over campus. Then tonight, swimming was fine. Swimming normally, without the pull buoy. Even swimming intervals. Shoulder felt good too. Hells yes!

I'm taking it easy tomorrow, biking Thursday, and swimming Friday. This weekend will be played by ear a little bit, but I'm planning to up the distance on the bike by a few miles; nothing huge. If that goes good, I get to ease back into what I really miss: running.

Thats all I got today. Glad you guys like the new design and aren't going to shun me, except for our (not-so!) favorite cheese head!

Monday, April 7, 2008

Tri+umph

My new design is live.

What do you think? Are the runners among you going to betray me?

Your Move, Knee

Sunny: Check
60 degrees: Check
10 miles on the bike: Check

Your move, knee.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Weekly Recap 03/31/08 - 04/06/08

Monday: Pushed through the wall during my swim. Great sense of accomplishment, but....

Tuesday: Right shoulder hurt bad, took it easy.

Wednesday-Saturday: Ditto.

Sunday: Swam in the morning, got fit for my bike in the evening. Right shoulder is better and knee is really shaping up!

Total swim: 1.5 miles

Resting heart rate: 65

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

A few days ago, I was frustrated. You might have been able to feel the bad vibes from where you're at, I wouldn't be surprised. However, today things turned right around!

Yesterday, my shoulder was feeling back to normal. But I woke up today to it being a little bit sore again. However, I was going to the pool.

No. Matter. What.

Even if I was going to get in the pool, cringe in pain for a lap, and get out, I had to try. So, I went to the pool. I was nervous about getting in, because who knew what was going to happen once I started working my shoulder. But I got in and I got it done.

It felt good. Know why? Because in my haze of worrying about my shoulder, I forgot I need to use the pull buoy to salvage my knee. I got in, and I swam normally. My knee didn't speak up. Let me reiterate that: my busted knee no longer yells at me when I use it.

I didn't push myself AT ALL today. In fact, most of the time I was just doing 50 yards and stopping. I did 100 once. But it felt easy. Just as easy, if not easier, than using the pull buoy. So all that pulling translated over to real swimming, thankfully!

Fast forward to this evening. I got fit for my bike, which I've been meaning to do for a couple weeks now. Eric moved my seat forward and adjusted my cleats too. I rode for a while on the trainer while he watched my form. He took videos to send to a friend of his who fits people professionally, too.

After being fit, I went for a ride around the block. Normally, this wouldn't be a big thing at all, but this is the first time I've moved my body at faster than a walk in the last month. It felt so. damn. good to zip down the street again, whether its by foot or by bike!

Tomorrow, I hit the bike for 10 miles. Nice and easy. No pushing it. Just enough to nudge the knee back into working order. If biking goes good this week, then running resumes next week.

Finally, thanks to E.V.E.R.Y.O.N.E. for all your encouraging words the past couple weeks. It means a lot. I really, really appreciate it.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Frustrated


A few months ago Chuckie V had a post classifying individuals based on two properties: motivation and ability. The four categories and their results are, essentially, as follows:

  1. Ability and motivation = champion
  2. Ability but no motivation = frustrated coach
  3. No ability but high motivation = frustrated athlete
  4. No ability and no motivation = couch potatoes, smokers, alcoholics, etc

Unfortunately, I'm pretty sure I fall into category three lately. Motivated as hell, but my body just doesn't cooperate. Now, I'm not saying I lack talent. I know I have talent when it comes to running and even biking and swimming are shaping up recently. However during the last seven months, I've been injured for five of them.

This = frustrated athlete.

Big time.

Especially right now with spring coming around. We're having days where its 60 degrees and sunny. All the fair weather runners are even coming out, and I can't take advantage of it. I'm glad they're out there, I like seeing healthy people do what they enjoy, but to say I'm not jealous would be a flat out lie.

Lately, my knee has been shaping up a little bit. It's feeling halfway like a normal knee. This week I was going to start swimming without the pull buoy again, just to test things out before I go and pound my knee on the pavement.

Except, I couldn't.

I woke up Tuesday with a sore shoulder. It hurt pretty bad to lift my arm so my elbow is above my shoulder, kind of like a tendon is rubbing on a bone during the motion. I was hoping for it to heal up quick, but apparently my body isn't into that in 2008.

So right now, I'm flat out gimped. Can't run. Can't bike. Can't swim.

I swear, I'll be consistently upbeat again someday. Eventually. Until then, someone's gotta go run for me. Go get 'em Nancy.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Mental Toughness

My motto lately has been "uncomfortable never hurt anyone." Its a good motto for me, especially at the pool. With swimming, for the longest time I had always erred on the side of caution. I didn't have confidence yet, at least not like I do with running.

But thats been changing these past couple weeks, in case you couldn't tell. Now, I know what it feels like to have lactic acid build up in my arms. I know when I'm actually pushing too hard, and need to slow down and recover. I know that to get better, I have to push a little. I know I'm not going to drown. I know uncomfortable never hurt anyone, but pushing through discomfort sure can make the difference.

Today's swim wasn't planned to be remarkable. In fact, looking at the numbers it is anything but remarkable. I swam a mile, as usual. I didn't swim more than 400 yards at a time, less than usual. I swam part kind of fast, but that isn't what made today stand out.

I got in the pool today, swam my first 400 and my arms were shot. Especially my triceps. My God, my triceps. I kept going at it, because thats all I know how to do. Around 1000 yards, my arms were demolished.

I took a short break after that, stretched out and what not. I got back in, swam another 100 and thought about quitting for the day. I came up with a dozen excuses. They were all logically sound in my head. I could leave early almost feeling like I had a reason, and not an excuse.

But... I couldn't do it. I couldn't consciously make the decision to get out of the pool. What would I do? Sit around for 20 minutes before class started because I couldn't finish a workout? Yeah, I can't do that to myself. That would be like putting myself in time out to think about what I'd done. That was a no go.

So I swam. I counted down the yards. I took more rest than I have in several days. But damnit, I finished my workout and nobody can take that away now. Not even me.

Count it!

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Weekly Recap 03/24/08 - 03/30/08

Monday: Swam a mile before class, including 600 yards nonstop -- a new best, but not for long! Ab workout in the evening.

Tuesday: Swam a mile with TNT. I was going to go farther but dinner was making a comeback and I've heard they don't like it when you throw up in the pool.

Wednesday: Swam a mile on my own, including 1000 yards nonstop -- a new best, but not for long! Ab workout in the evening.

Thursday: Swam a mile with TNT, including a lot of faster laps. Part of the workout was called 'swim golf.' The idea is you swim 50 yards and add your time to the number of strokes you took. I was able to hit 89 a couple times (50 seconds + 39 strokes) while pulling, I wonder what I could do if I could kick?

Friday: REST!

Saturday: Swam (you guessed it) one mile on my own, including 1200 yards nonstop -- a new best once again! I felt fresh again after several days off.

Sunday: Swam (once again) one mile with TNT. Shoulders were D.E.A.D. after my 1200 nonstop yesterday. The weird thing was, I didn't even know I was sore until I started swimming. Talk about a crappy surprise!

Total swim: 6 miles

Resting heart rate: 65 bpm

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

Not a bad week of training, all things considered. My knee is still healing, but its feeling WORLDS better than it was a week ago. Motivation hasn't been a problem this week, and I'm actually enjoying the swimming now that I can push myself.

For some reason, I really start enjoying a sport once I can push myself hard enough to make my muscles sore afterwards. The same happened with running, cycling, and rock climbing too. Maybe I have a little bit of masochist in me?

I'm feeling a lot stronger in the water lately, especially on shorter durations. A week ago, it was taking me ~18 strokes to get to the backstroke flags on a short interval, now I'm down to ~15. So, needless to say, all this pulling IS paying off with more strength. Although, looking at me I don't think anybody could tell. Not yet, anyways.

Sometime early this week I'm going to attempt a little bit of swimming without the pull buoy. If that goes well, I MIGHT give running a shot next weekend. Maybe. If I feel like it. But more importantly, if my coach lets me. I'll try water running first, just to play on the safe side. I don't need a relapse at this point!

Also, there is definitely a redesign coming up soon. Complete with a new name, color scheme, logo... the whole nine yards. It'll be revealed once I'm able to run, bike, and swim normally again. But until then, enjoy the suspense!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

One Thousand

These past couple weeks my body has been keeping me from doing the running and biking I enjoy so much.

The result? The pool has become my friend. I've caught myself more often thinking "man, I want to go swim!" more often than I've caught myself thinking "man, I want to go for a run!"

The result? Progress. Gobs of it.

One month ago my swimming was going pretty good. I was getting to the point where I could comfortably swim 50 yards, and could swim 100 if I really pushed it. One practice Treacy talked me into pulling 300 yard with her, and practice drafting. We would switch off every 100 yards. I had to stop every 100 for 10-15 second to catch my breathe. Doing 300 yards almost killed me dead.

Fast forward to last week. All I can do is use the pull buoy in the pool right now, normal swimming hurts my knee. So I've been swimming nearly every day with my friend the pull buoy. Last Friday I swam 500 yards non stop, which was my goal to hit by the end of the month. I was pumped!

Fast forward again. Saturday I swam again, matching my 500 yard record. Monday I broke out with 600 yards, mmmm, progress! Tuesday I worked more on speed, but still swam a 400 (4x more than I could a month ago!) Today I broke loose. I jumped in and warmed up. Then I told myself "Hello self! Time to swim 700 yards!" So I did. Then I kept going. 700... 800... 900... 1000!

I don't plan to stop this progress I'm making in the pool any time soon. I'm really enjoying myself in the water now that I'm seeing improvements. I'm going to keep at it, because right now what I need and what I enjoy are exactly the same thing.

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

On a completely different note, Marcy is a butthead (in other news: they just found massive quantities of water in the Pacific Ocean) and tagged me! Here are the rules of the game: Write your own six word memoir, link to whoever tagged you, and tag five people. There are more rules, so if you want to be a good boy or girl read them on Marcy's blog.

Here are six words that describe my waking hours (I had to say waking to cut it down to 6 words):

Eat        Teach          Learn
     Swim           Bike            Run


And I am using the powers bestowed upon me to tag: YOU!

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Weekly Recap 03/17/08-03/23/08

Monday: Ran less than a mile. Found out this knee isn't in working order yet.

Tuesday: Swam half a mile with the pull buoy.

Wednesday: Rest

Thursday: Swam half a mile with the pull buoy. Had Tracy look at my knee, she thinks its ITBS and has me doing a lot of work to fix it up.

Friday: Swam a mile with the pull buoy, more below. Ab workout in the evening.

Saturday: Swam a mile with the pull buoy.

Sunday: Rest day, pool is closed for Easter. Boo!

Total run: 0.77 miles
Total bike: 0 miles
Total swim: 3 miles

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

Despite the disappointment early in the week when I found out my knee wasn't better, my attitude has really taken a turn for the better these past couple days. Why? Its the swimming.

This injury is from biking or running, or some combination of the two. Which leaves me right where I should be anyways: in the pool. With regards to triathlons, I have no worries about the running. Thats what I do. It's what I'm good at. My biking has some room for improvement, but I can tough through a bike ride. I've done it in the past and I can do it again.

Swimming is where I need the work. I haven't even completed the race distance yet in the pool, but I've done so several times with the bike and run. The pool is where progress is going to be made. Not just in terms of time, but in terms of being able to finish a race.

So I hit the pool. I swam with TNT using that damn pull buoy for a half a mile two days. I hated it. Each time, though, my knee felt better afterwards. It was like a 30 minute ice bath.

Then I mixed things up: I swam on my own, without the team. I swam when I had no obligation to do so. I swam for me, and it was amazing! I actually enjoyed it. I got in the pool with an intent of pulling 300 yards non-stop, which would have been tied for my longest yet, but after a several week break. Bam! 300 yards. Then I kept going: 350, 400, 450, 500.

I stopped at 500, but was starting to "get it." I started to see what it meant to be in the zone while swimming. If I swam too fast, I could simply slow down to recover, rather than needing to stop. I was able to fade out, but have my body do what I've taught it these past several months.

Next week? Lots of swimming. I'm going to focus all my energy on it. Once I can swim without the pull buoy, I'll think about giving running a shot again. Until then, I got a date with the foam roller!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

The Diagnosis

Well, I have good news and bad news.

The good news: I talked to my friend Tracy, who is about to get her PhD in Physiology, and now know what is wrong with my knee. That means I have a game plan to tackle the problem. Something to preoccupy myself with and to make myself stronger again. I know the likely cause, and with enough patience I know the solution.

The bad news? It's IT band syndrome (ITBS). Yuck.

Here is the gist of what is going on with my knee. My IT band got tight, either from the race or too much biking. Also, the muscles above and to the right of my right knee are significantly weaker than on the other side. Now that she's pointed it out, I can tell that it's actually visually noticeable. I can see the problem.

Great. We know the problem. Now, what to do about it?
  • Foam roll the shit out of it (thats the technical term), twice a day
  • Dig into the trigger points to loosen it up
  • Incorporate some of my old PT exercises back into my routine
  • RICED (Thats RICE + drugs)
  • Do some balance exercises too, to strengthen the leg
  • Get back on top of my core workouts
Sound like enough to keep me busy? Yeah. I think so.

I'm also going to keep at it with the swimming. I've swam twice this week just using the pull buoy (no kicking), and although its extremely boring my knee always feels better afterwards. It's all I can do to get an aerobic workout in, so I'm going to force myself to go at it with all I got.

So there's the game plan. Now all that stands between me and running is to do it. Time to get on top of it!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Turning Back Around

For a while there, it seemed like everything was working against me. I couldn't run, bike, or swim. Homework was piled up, and grading was just the icing on the cake. Luckily, all that is turning around.

The school work is finally subsiding (or will be on Monday). I'm starting to get grades back from midterms, too, and lets just say this semester is strongly resembling my last one. I have nothing to grade. Let me reiterate that: I have nothing to grade. I even got to go home for several days last week, which was phenomenal since I got to see my cousin for the first time in a year since he also drove to Illinois for the weekend.

To top it all off, I think this knee is getting better.

I made it out for a run this morning, which was great! I decided to only run around the block, which was about 3/4 of a mile. There's no point in pushing it. It was only a little test run to see how my knee reacted. It did react, a little bit. I could feel it a little bit at the top on the right side of my right knee, but it was a very dull pain.

More importantly, I didn't feel as though I regretted it afterwards. My body didn't say "ohhh, you shouldn't have done that!" I'm considering myself on the mend and am planning to swim Tuesday night, then run again on Wednesday morning assuming all goes well these next few days. Update: I woke up today (Tuesday) and my knee is hurting again. Back on the roller coaster, I guess? Ugh.

Despite the good news, I'm officially canceling my half marathon for the spring. Sure, I might be able to do it, but it's a really bad idea at this point and simply begging for a relapse. Everything else is still on, unless this knee takes longer than expected to heal.

And don't think I forgot: Happy St. Patricks Day!

Monday, March 17, 2008

Weekly Recap 03/10/08 - 03/16/08

This week's recap is going to be a little different than usual. You know why? No workouts. None at all. Unless, maybe, you count randomly jogging to my car to test out my knee.

I'm not frustrated, though, not like last week. Last week's recap got posted immediately after finding out I couldn't even water run. I was ticked, frustrated, and ready to bite someone's head off after finding out my last means of exercise jumped out the window.

But this week wasn't that bad, I just just RICED: rest, ice, compression, elevation, and DRUGS (don't worry, just Aleve)! Plus it was spring break, even if I spent the majority of my time working on stuff, the last few days were break-like.

I ended up going home, and got to see my cousin and his girlfriend both of which I hadn't seen in over a year. Hung out with them, played with the dogs, all the stuff I miss down in Kentucky. All in all, I'd call it a rewarding week.

Nutrition completely went out the window this week. Completely. It was no where to be found. I was only eating about 5 times better than Marcy, and that's saying something! Common foods were pizza, BBQ ribs, and pizza. Common snacks included home made cookies, ice cream, cake, and girl scout cookies. The motivation to eat good just completely goes out the window for me when I don't look at it as fuel for tomorrow's workout!

Luckily, workouts commence tomorrow. I'm planning a very easy one or two mile run just to test out this knee. I'm optimistic since it has been feeling better these past couple days. Then Tuesday I'm swimming. If this knee is still hurting, I'm still swimming. I will use the pull buoy for a full 90 minutes if thats what it takes to get a workout in without hurting my knee. I hate the pull buoy, but I'm going to make it my b*tch if I have to.

And now, I'm off to dream land, hopefully. My sleep schedule is all jacked up after break, as expected. I spent a lot of nights up til 3am with my cousin (which is 4am EST), so it's gonna take some work to get back some normal sleep patterns to form again!

Hope everybody had a great week!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Looking at the Trends

I've talked about it quite a bit lately, but I'll rehash it: I'm a big fan of looking at the trends in running, biking, and swimming. It really helps see what works. But more importantly, it shows you what doesn't.

It shows you what gets you injured.

Hey, I'm injured. Let's look at the trends and see what there is to find.

Backtrack! It's August 2007. I'm training like never before, in the best shape of my life. BAM! I put my foot in a pothole and have to take several days off. I probably needed the rest anyways with how I'd been training. Next week, I'm feeling good. Really good. I go out in full force and do the week I was planning before I hurt my ankle. As a result, my hip gets injured.

Okay, back to the present. A few weeks ago I was, once again, training like crazy. Swimming, biking, running like never before. Then my body says "hey! quit it! *cough* *sneeze* *phlegm*" I take a few days off. Next week, I'm feeling good. Really good. I go out in full force and do the week I was planning before I hurt my ankle got sick. As a result, my hip knee gets injured.

See a trend?

Bottom line is this: I need to be careful when coming off a break, even a short one. Going at it with too much gusto can sideline me quicker than anything.

Also, I need to be extremely careful coming off this particular injury. This time, it isn't just about fun and fitness. This time, people are counting on me.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

The Good

I just ate tacos. And they were fantastic.

The Bad

Just kidding, there's more good, thankfully!

My knee is starting to feel a little bit better. I still don't see myself doing, uh, anything this week, but it's at least getting better. I went to the A.R.T. guy today. He thinks he can help, and I got one treatment today, but I'm going to sit on it a little bit longer. I'm kind of iffy about therapy (see "The Ugly"). I'm also making progress on my pile of work, so I'm hoping to make it home on Thursday. Maybe I will get a few days off!

Luckily, though, I've been in this "hyper learning mode." I'm not sure what caused it, but I'm finding everything extremely interesting lately, almost anything from my classes to biking to web servers to... other computer science topics I won't bore you with. Hopefully it sticks around for a while (like until I graduate)!

The Bad

The knee isn't perfect, though. When I shower the heat from the water makes it sore for a little bit. But no worries, hygiene is not going to end up listed under "The Bad"! Also, my sleep schedule is completely jacked up. The last two nights I was working on stuff until about 3am. When I don't work out I never fully wake up, but I also don't really get tired at night. I live in limbo, it sucks!

Also, I will comically put under "The Bad" that my computer is too fast. In one of my assignments I need to compare the speed of my program to another, but I can only time them so accurately. The result? Yep, everything takes 0.00 seconds and I can't see any more accuracy to make conclusions. Who wants to donate an old crappy computer?!

The Ugly

Right now, the ugly is very ugly. Yesterday I got a call from the one type of business nobody wants to hear from. Thats right, a collection agency. Wait. W T F?! I don't owe anything to anybody, do I?

Apparently I do.

My physical therapist has been trying (although not very hard) to mail a bill to my address, but has been leaving the apartment number off. So rather than call me (which he did several times during therapy, he has my number) he decided to pass it on to a collection agency who says "Hello! Give us $xxx.xx by tomorrow or the puppy your credit history gets it!"

It basically works out to me paying the wrong person the deductible (ART guy got that) and the PT charging me more than the amount (which they swore up and down) they said they would. Unf. Ramen noodles, anyone?

---

That's whats up in my life. Thanks to everyone for the extremely encouraging comments! Here's some responses:

Christine - Don't go calling Endurance Trends 'little', it's going to be anything but little. Good luck with the 'little' degree you're working on, too. :)

Nic - The Relenting Runner is dead. He won't be back unless one of my legs literally falls off. Although, I do have a clever name up my sleeve if I decide to completely change my focus to triathlons...

PreFan - Never tried Accelerade. I usually stick with Gatorade, even though I know it really isn't the healthiest choice ('lethal' amounts of HF Corn Syrup).

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Weekly Recap 03/03/08 - 03/09/08

Monday: Bike in the morning

Tuesday: Run in the morning. Knee was very vocal afterwards. Swimming hurts my knee, so I water ran in the evening.

Wednesday: Nothing.

Thursday: Water run.

Friday: Nothing

Saturday: Nothing

Sunday: Even water running is hurting my knee. Going back to ART guy tomorrow.

Total bike: something insignificant
Total run: something insignificant
Total swim: none

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

Can't run. Can't bike. Can't swim. Can't water run.

I hate quitting endorphins cold turkey.

I'm glad your week was better than mine.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

SPRING BREAK! WOOO hoooo....?

Finally. Spring break. The college student's mental vacation to kick back, relax, have a good time, and enjoy the spring weather.

Right?


Sure, whatever you say.

Last night we got 4-5 inches of snow, with a couple more on the forecast. Great way to kick off break, eh? Oh well, it'll keep me inside to actually get work done. That's the optimistic part of me this morning.

Here's my superfun plans for break:


  • Finish database project
  • Get reasonably far in animation project
  • Start compilers project
  • Grade stuff
  • Grade more stuff
  • Send out more TNT letters
  • Go home if I have time


Sounds like a plan, right homies?


I'm actually not ALL complaints, because I actually find a lot of this stuff interesting. Just not as interesting as, say, riding my bike outside. Or running without bundling. Or hell, running at all, since I'm forcing myself to take a full week off due to my knee (next run is Tuesday). I'm about halfway there and I'm already desperate for some endorphins, but you could probably tell that just by reading!


To top it all off, last night I emailed a professor to clarify something in our project. It was a legitimate question about something ambiguous in the way the project was worded. His response? Very condescending, misspelled my name (come on, it's in my signature), etc, etc.


Finally, on a positive note, I've been doing a lot of planning for the Garmin type project I mentioned a few days ago. The name of the project is going to be ... *drum roll*... Endurance Trends. I'm also going to make it a little bigger than originally planned, but that part's going to be a surprise a little bit further down the road, stay tuned!

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Learning from Past Mistakes

I like to believe life is largely about learning. Every day you learn something new to apply in the future, whether you'll admit it or not. Although, sometimes even the smartest of us are thick skulled and refuse to learn the most basic things, no matter how long they hammer away at our heads.

Remember my hip injury? That hammered away at my head for three months "don't over do it!", "shoulda just taken a few days off!", "don't be afraid to take a short break, to avoid a long one!", "stop picking on your sister!", "don't forget to turn off the oven!"

Okay... maybe it didn't cause all of those, but the first few definitely got drilled into my head. And damnit, I'm going to listen. I do need to realize I'm not invincible. I should just take a few days off if something hurts. Short breaks won't cause the sky to cave in.

Now, you being the smart people that you are, have probably realized I'm talking about this for a reason. A good reason. An inflamed reason.

Stupid right knee.

After this weekend it's been feeling a little bit off, although I didn't want to call it injured until yesterday after my run. I haven't felt any stabbing pain, but something is wrong with it, without a doubt. Something in my knee is inflamed, and I'm not sure how else to describe it. I'm sure you know the feeling.

Rather than push it until it's serious, I'm going to be cautious about it. No running (that caused it), no biking (that irritates it), and no swimming (that, somehow, hurts it). I'm taking a few days off from everything except the activity that comes straight from the bowels of hell. The only activity I would rank as shittier than running on a treadmill. And you know how I feel about running on a treadmill.

Yes, thats right. Water running. It is, undoubtedly, the most boring thing I have ever done in my life. Right down there with watching paint dry. I despise it. I can't even listen to music to make the time go faster, or gauge how much work I'm doing to at least tell me it's worthwhile. It's almost impossible to get my heart rate up, too.

But I'm going to do it, because it's the only thing I CAN do. It does massage my knee. It maintains my range of motion. It doesn't do any damage. It will be worthwhile. I won't have to do it for long, so long as I'm not stupid about anything.

As with all injuries, there has to be a cause. With my hip, it was a matter of having an intensive speed workout followed by a long run two days later. In this case, I have it narrowed down to a few things. First, I got a blister on my right foot (same knee). I've just been running through it, BUT more than likely I've subconsciously changed how I land on my foot to avoid the blister which could cause my knee to move slightly differently.

Second, I ran faster than usual at the 5k this weekend which could easily cause a lot of damage.

Third, my right shoe has a "leak" in it. The sealed area that uses air for cushioning got popped, somehow. It squeaks when it gets wet and is blowing out the air, so I know my right foot doesn't have as much padding as it's used to.

So here's what I'm going to do about it. First, I'm taking a few days off and doing some water running. I'm also doing the RICE routine and trying to let this blister heal. When I start running again, nothing fast. Just low key running with my HR around 150 bpm. If none of that works, I'm going to go buy new shoes even though I'm not due for another 100 miles.

So there's the game plan. Nothing left to do now but execute it!

Oh. And I got into the PhD program today! :)

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Race Pictures

Last night I got the picture's in the email from the race. Thought I'd share!


Dad & me before the race


Staying loose before the race starts


Hanging around just before the start, two fast guys on the right


The race starts, the four fast guys are on the left



End of the race, giving it all I got!

Monday, March 3, 2008

Ma Nature's Feeling Fiesty

I've been watching the forecast for today the past couple days. They've been calling for 50-60 degrees in the morning, and kept changing their mind when it was going to rain. I woke up this morning and it was about 55 degrees and sunny. Perfect, right?

Almost.

The only exception? The wind. My God the wind. I've ridden in wind before, some rides around 15-20 mph gusts and they were rough. They pushed me forward on the way out, and pushed my limits on the way back.

Today the winds were sustained at 23 MPH with gusts around 35 straight out of the south. I'll be honest, the thought of hitting the trainer crossed my mind... for about a second. The competition doesn't care of it's windy. And if they do? Well then, I just got a step ahead.

On the way out, there were flat stretches (not downhills) where I was pushing 30 MPH with the wind at my back, it was great. I felt pro, even though I knew it was only because of the wind at my back. Going east and west was probably the most dangerous, since the gusts were making it fairly difficult to control the bike, but I managed to keep control.

Going south was brutal. I was sitting in my granny gear for the majority of that stretch, working like hell just to go 10-12 MPH. Much less dangerous, though, since the gusts weren't threatening to throw me off the road or into traffic.

Finally, I got back to the school. And kept riding. Screw you, Ma Nature, I'm not done with you yet. Time to put you in your place for another 10 miles.

More of the same on the second lap. But I finally finished and really felt like I had accomplished something. Here's the numbers:

Time: 1:51:12
Distance: 31.01 miles
Speed: 16.7 mph
Cadence: 94 rpm
HR: 153 bpm

I'll leave you with this:

Why Do You Run [or Ride]?

Because you're wondering if your grandchildren will too.

Because its raining.

Because you can, and others can't.

Because its faster than walking.

Because that shaky-leg-thing is all about nervous energy.

Because you can't fly.

Because you can fly.

Because your personal best is just that, yours.

Because the pain of a blister is nothing compared to the pain of stopping.

Because you like the resistance the wind gives you.

Because you like the resistance you give the wind.

Just Because.

-NYC Marathon Ad

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Weekly Recap 02/24/08 - 03/02/08

Monday: Breakthrough bike ride, 31 miles. Longest distance in a long time, didn't demolish me like last time I went 30+.

Tuesday: Confidence building run in the morning: two miles under 6 minute pace. Swam in the evening.

Wednesday: Easy run in the morning, really trying to take it easy with the race on Saturday without cutting out any volume.

Thursday: Bike-swim brick in the evening. This swim was absolutely huge. Something clicked again and my endurance is starting to go up in the pool. Ended the swim with 200 yards non-stop which was a new high.

Friday: Rest day!

Saturday: 5k race in the morning, ran 17:45. Make sure you read my race report! Ultimately it showed me I'm in better shape than I thought, and even that time didn't wipe me out. Afterwards I walked around campus with my parents for a few hours, then went out for 21 miles on the bike that evening before going to the comedy club. Long day!

Sunday: Swam in the morning. Legs were pretty sore from yesterday, big surprise huh? I swam my mile, with 300 yards non-stop at the end of the workout. Set out for a 6 mile run in the evening and ended up doing 8 because the weather was so nice: 63 degrees and sunny!

Total run: 28.15 miles
Total bike: 67.25 miles
Total swim: 3.3 miles

Weighted total: 63.77 miles
Resting HR: 54 bpm (Friday night)

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Absolutely. Great. Week. Of. Training. Period. .

The rest week I took definitely paid off BIG TIME! I felt fresh and ready to knock out a great week of training. I planned it out and pulled off every workout as planned or better.

I had a lot of reminders showing me my training paying off all week long. 31 mile bike ride on Monday. Endurance improvements in the pool. 5k @ 5:40 pace. Recovery run today with an average heart rate of 156 bpm but average pace of 7:09/mile.

Did I mention you should read my race report?

Next week should be a repeat of this week, but with a long run on Saturday instead of a race.

I hope everybody else had a great week!

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Clover Classic 5K Race Report

I woke up this morning, tired and groggy. My parents got into town last night a few hours later than I had hoped, so my sleep was a little lacking. Luckily, I woke up a little bit as I ran to the race and did my warmup.

I did my usual pre-race scan. Look around for the competition. Who's it gonna be? Who are the fast guys? Who do I have to watch out for? I picked out five people that looked like they could give me a run for my money. They looked fast. Really fast. I was right about four of them.

They called us to the starting line. The national anthem never played, which I thought was kind of strange. I like hearing it before a race, it gets me focused. Oh well. No big deal.

Runners set. HHHOOOONNNKKKKK (air horn)!

Off we go.

I stuck with the lead pack for the first half a block or so. They looked fast, but my fitness is nothing to cough at either. Oh? Garmin says we're running 4:45 pace?

Time to back off. That's not happening today.

I pulled back a little bit. The lead pack pulled away, and there was nobody even close behind me. I'm still feeling pretty good. The pace is challenging, but manageable. Mile 1: 5:43.

For this next part of the race I was all alone. The lead pack had secured a significant gap, and nobody was very close behind me. This was me vs. myself. Nobody to push me except the voice that knew sub 18 was possible. At the mile and a half mark or so, we had the turnaround since this was a straight out and back course. I love an out and back race, since I get to cheer for people I know, and get some support in return. The way back was downhill, too, which was nice! Mile 2: 5:50.

During the last mile I was, surprisingly, still passing people going in the other direction. Mostly just walkers, some kids sprinting until they were tired, then gasping for air and doing it again. There were a few people smoking, which added a nice twist to the oxygen my lungs were so desperately craving. The end of this mile was pretty painful, but I still feel like I could have pushed harder. Mile 3: 5:37.

Finally, the end was in site. I saw my mom taking pictures from the side of the road, but a smile wasn't happening. I was focused. The picture she took isn't pretty, but it definitely shows I'm giving it all I got.

Time: 17:45
Avg HR: 184 bpm
Overall: 5th out of ??? (couple hundred?)
Age Group: 1st

All in all, I'm happy with what this race tells me. I'm in good shape, even better than I had thought a few days ago. Only 20 seconds off my PR back when I was training hard as ever back in July, despite taking 3 months off this winter. I still felt like I could have pushed harder. My average heart rate wasn't as high as it usually is for a 5k, and I just didn't feel as spent as usual at the end.

Everybody I knew got an award today. I got 1st in my age group. My dad got 3rd in his. Treacy and Shannon from TNT both got age group awards too, and I had to pick up a medal for a friend who left early! It was great that everybody had such a successful day, we got some pictures of all of us, too, which I'll be posting in a few days.

Even though it was a great race, I'm hungry for more. I'm capable of better. I have a PR waiting in the near future, if I can find another 5k that fits into my schedule. For now, though, it's back to training. Even if I'm capable of better, training is going to help me improve more than racing will.

Next up is the Splash & Dash (500yd swim / 5k run) in late March. I hope they're ready for me, because I'll be ready for them!

Friday, February 29, 2008

Reviewing the Numbers

With the 5k coming up tomorrow, I've been comparing my training now to the training back when I set my PR of 17:25. I was expecting to see major differences. I was expecting to see a lot of training under 6 minute miles. I was expecting to think "Damn, I was in a ton better shape then!"

Not the case.

I had some quick runs back in June, no doubt, but my tempo pace was still hanging around 6:20 to 6:30/mile. I didn't have one mile under 6 minutes in training. Not one. Not even when doing intervals.

There's one big difference. Racing experience. Back in July, that had been one of many 5k's in the past several months. I had more of a racing mindset back then. I knew from experience how I responded to breaking my body down to nothing just to get across that finish line as soon as possible.

The result? I have no idea what to expect tomorrow.

I can tell you I'm going to push like hell from the start. I'm going to risk it all from the time the gun goes off. The numbers tell me I might even have a PR in me, even after taking several months off. I lost relatively little speed over my break, everything I lost was from the endurance end of things.

Maybe all I need to do is trust my body. Trust that it can handle the speed, the lactic acid storm, the oxygen deprived muscles, the screaming lungs. Maybe, just maybe, I can PR tomorrow.

But it's gonna hurt. Hurt so good.

Game on.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Triathlete Meets Computer Scientist

I've said it in the past, but I'll say it again: I love my numbers with running. I like being able to look not only at a specific run, but also long term trends. It's a great way to see what works, and what doesn't. What yields improvement? What causes injury? Am I pushing my limits or stagnating? Looking at the numbers can help training tremendously.

You know the problem with numbers, though? Most people have a hard time visualizing them. Someone might see the numbers, but not be able to see what they mean unless they have a background in math; which most people don't. It's great to be able to see a week, month, or year of training at a quick glance.

Another problem, though, is that it can be a real pain to set it all up. I have an excel spreadsheet I took some time to set up, and it helps me track my training pretty well. I also used Motionbased and Training Center to look at the details of an individual run. But for me, the problem is that I use Linux, and both Motionbased and Training Center only work in Windows (and maybe Mac?). I hate rebooting into Windows.

Time for a solution.

Just recently I decided to start up a personal project. It's huge, and I might be getting in over my head. But by now you probably know I like being in over my head. I like seeing what I'm capable of in all areas, not just in running.

Here's the idea.

I'm planning to write some software to track training across any combination of swimming, biking, and running. With options to see workouts, weeks, months, or years in detail. This is a key idea not just tracking workouts, but also tracking trends. I'm going to do a little research to see what numbers people use to track their progress, and make some useful graphs out of it to gauge progress. The user can look at them or not, the point is they'll have access without needing to a) put together a complicated spreadsheet and b) put all the information in by hand.

Wait. Not put the information in by hand?

Bingo. Thats the crucial part. Just like Training Center and Motionbased talk to your Garmin to get the information, my plan is to talk directly to the Garmin, and pull the information right into the program to save it on your computer. There are some open source projects out there which do exactly that, but they don't have a good graphical interface.

I'm also going to make an attempt to make it cross-platform. If I have that goal from the beginning, and choose the correct methods it may be possible. My main concern is talking to the Garmin regardless of the operating system (i.e. Windows, Linux, Macintosh).

This will combine my passion for training with a lot of topics I've learned in graphics, databases, and perhaps animation once I get the groundwork done.

Here's where you come in. I want ideas. What do you like to track with your training? What features do you think would be nice to have? What WOULD you track if it was easier to do?

This project is as ambitious as some I've done in the past (face recognition, 3d graphics engine, game development), but combines topics from several areas of Computer Science and tie it in with my biggest passion of all. This is just the idea. Hopefully it's doable. Theres only one way to find out, and it'll take time. Expect updates as to my progress.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Confidence Building Exercise

No, I'm not talking about a breathing technique, or some cheesy mental trick to make me hold my head higher. I'm not talking about an exercise that builds confidence, I'm talking about exercise that builds confidence.

That was precisely the goal of my run this morning. Build confidence for Saturday, without demolishing my legs. My confidence had been waning a little bit, since I hadn't really run hard since 9 on the 9th. Most of my runs have been either easy or moderate since then, so I had to check I'm actually capable of pulling off the time I want.

Well, let me tell you. It worked. It worked big time. I can confidently tell you I'm going under 19 minutes on Saturday unless something goes horribly, horribly wrong. Hills? Please. My legs will eat those hills for second breakfast. I'm ready for the lactic acid storm. I'm ready to run down a victory.

The run this morning was pretty simple: 3 miles warm-up, 2 miles hard, 1 mile cool down. Just enough to wear me down without killing my legs for a few days. Here's the numbers. Just a warning: they're scary fast.

7:36
7:31
7:34 (Get ready for it....)
5:59 (GO!)
5:58
7:32
(and some change)

Thats right, I'm breaking out of six minute land. The second hard mile had a good uphill, too, it really pushed me. However, the good news (or bad news for those running the race on Saturday) is that I had enough left in me for another mile, and this is also after yesterday's ride.

Now, to take it halfway (sorta, kinda, maybe...) easy for a couple days to get ready for my first race in five months.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Conquering my Fears, Pushing my Limits

This morning my alarm decided to go off right in the middle of a REM cycle. The result? I woke up feeling groggy and slow. I checked the weather, since yesterday it was forecast to be about 40 degrees and sunny. Not so much. Try 31 degrees and cloudy. Now, normally I draw the line at 35 degrees for riding outside, but I decided to suck it up. What's four degrees?

I was loading the bike up on my car to head out to the country to ride, when a prissy looking sorority girl walked by me. She gave me a look that distinctly said "Oh my god, don't you know its totally like the arctic out here like?!"

Once I got out there, the ride started out like any other. The game plan was 21 miles, as usual. I had a strong focus on cadence, I worked a little bit on riding with one hand to learn better balance to make nutrition easier, I tried to keep my heart rate below 160. You know, the usual stuff.

Right when I was finishing up, though, something happened. The parking lot was to my left, but there was all this road ahead of me.

Forget it. I'm not done yet. Not today. I have unfinished business out here today. I have fears to conquer. I have limits to beat into the ground. I'm not turning in yet.

That decision was huge. Why? Let's recall the last time I rode 30+ miles. I bonked. Hard. At points I was debating calling someone to give me directions back to town, because my group had dropped me ages ago. After somehow finishing, I was demolished for the rest of the weekend. My legs were dead, my ass hurt like nobody's ass should ever hurt, my energy was completely drained miles before I even finished that ride.

I've had every reason to fear the distance. It left me raw and exposed to the elements, and left my limits laying all over the road. I knew the moment I decided to keep going, I might be in for the exact same mess all over again.

I was ready for it.

It never happened. I stayed strong the entire time. Not once did I feel like I was in over my head. Not once did I consider stopping.

Afterwards, my legs feel fine. My ass doesn't hurt. I've been completely functional all day; it had no effect whatsoever on my energy level. If this isn't progress, I don't know what is.

Here are the numbers for the day:

Distance: 30.99 miles
Time: 1:49:29
Speed: 17.0 MPH
Cadence: 96 rpm
HR: 157 bpm
Garmin Data

It's good to be back to my healthy self.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Weekly Recap 02/18/08 - 02/24/08

Monday: Rest day. Canceled my bike ride since I was sick.

Tuesday: Ran in the morning, canceled swim.

Wednesday: Ran in the morning, finally started to feel better in the evening

Thursday: Planned to do my swim-bike brick in the evening, but an ice storm shut down most of Lexington.

Friday: Rest day. Finally feeling 100%!

Saturday: Ran 8 miles on my own in the morning. Planned to jump on the stationary bike but my apartment complex decided it would be a great day to close up unannounced.

Sunday: Swam in the morning, ran fairly hard in the afternoon. I didn't feel like focusing on running slow today, so I ran however I felt. Ended up averaging 6:53/mile for 5 miles.

Total run: 23.06 miles
Total bike: 0 miles
Total swim: 1 mile

Weighted total: 27.06 miles

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Pretty pathetic week by my standards, but I'm not being too hard on myself because (a) I was sick and (b) several factors were out of my control. Although, I will admit to feeling very fresh at the end of the week. Nothing hurts, my energy is back, and I'm ready to rock! That is the purpose of rest weeks, right?

School-wise, I was insanely busy, hence the relative lack of updates around here. I don't see any signs of it winding down, either, since midterms start this week, yikes! Also, I gave my first exam this week and just finished grading them. Apparently I'm doing more than just talking to the walls in there, because my exam average might be (significantly) higher than the other section's average! A good sign that I might be cut out for this teaching thing.

Next weekend is my first race since the disaster that was the Chicago Marathon in October. It's just a 5K, but I think it'll be fun. I'm talking most of Team in Training into coming out to run the race, since most of them haven't done many races before. Here is an interesting fact: Last year the race was won in 20:21. Note my 5K PR. Discover my plans. I think it's doable, unless some (other?) hot shot shows up!

Friday, February 22, 2008

Lazy Week

This has to have been the most low key week that I've had, workout wise, this entire year. Everything is encouraging me to take it easy, so I have been. I'm not going to lose that much fitness by going extra easy on a planned easy week. In fact, I might even gain something!

I skipped biking on Monday and swimming on Tuesday. Last night I had every intention of doing my bike-swim brick, but then an ice storm hit and everything got canceled since a quarter inch of ice was on the forecast.

Because of all this rest, though, I'm back to feeling back to normal. No more sore throat. No more being drugged up all day long. No more blowing my body weight in snot out of my nose every day. Although, I will admit to feeling a little bit lethargic since I haven't worked out since Wednesday morning. Seriously, how do those non-runners do it? No exercise = no energy.

Despite my apparent laziness on the workout front, school has been keeping me crazy busy. Between giving my first exam and having some seriously challenging programming projects, my free time has whithered away to nothing this week. Needless to say, I'm looking forward to this weekend; it's gonna be a good one!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

How I Got Sick

Being sick sucks. There's no doubt about it, and you won't find anybody that disagrees with that statement, unless they say it blows. You can't sleep because of having your face clogged with snot. You're not as productive because you can't sleep, and what energy you do have goes towards blowing the previously mentioned snot out of your face.

But, this time, it's kind of like a hangover. I think everybody will agree hangover's suck (or blow), too. Except with a hangover, you have good memories (most the time) and if not your friends will fill you in later. The point is, you feel like crap because you did something enjoyable, knowing you'd probably end up paying for it!

I did NOT get sick because of eating like crap.
I did NOT get sick because of a poor sleep schedule.
I did NOT get sick because of lack of exercise.
I did NOT get sick from living in a pig sty.
I did NOT get sick from a lack of hygiene/washing my hands.

I got sick because I broke my body down to nothing, only to let it rebuild stronger. I got sick from taunting mother nature when she gave me bad weather, then taunted her even more when she gave me her worst. I got sick by doing everything I could to make myself better. I got sick from doing something I love just a little bit too much, and now I'm paying for it for a few days.

Maybe it was worth it. Maybe it wasn't. There isn't much to do about it now, except make as many healthy choices as I can to get my immune system back into overdrive.

Live and learn. Learn and live. Sometimes, thats what its all about.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Unscheduled Rest Day

Yeah. Thats right. I did it.

I took a day off when I had workouts planned. I needed it. Rather than waking up early to sit on the trainer, I decided to sleep in and try to kick this cold. I won't actually lose any fitness over it, and it's an easy week anyways, right?

I definitely feel better tonight than I did last night, so tomorrow will be a go on the running! My resting heart rate is back down where I like it, so the day off helped big time with my over training issue. The illness is all above my neck, too, so running shouldn't make it any worse. Working out usually clears out my sinuses anyways, and should get me ready to go for the day.

Also, I have the RMA to send in my Garmin, but I haven't actually done it yet. It keeps working on runs, and hasn't really given me issues for a few days. Maybe I can just wait it out and it will go back to its old self? It's hard to believe live went on without it.. *sniff sniff* Sorry.. that was just the cold. Honest.

Here's some responses to comments I've been meaning to get to but have continuously slipped my mind.

Nancy - My swim coach really isn't that stingy with the compliments, the main point was that it was a bigger compliment than I originally thought. Susan rocks!

Bill - Not sure on the Michigan thing. I can give you a maybe for spring break, which is the second full week of March, or sometime in the early summer. Hopefully I can make it out there sometime soon!

Marcy - You were right about Garmin's customer service. Once I got through the buggy website, they were great!

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Weekly Recap 02/11/08 - 02/17/08

Monday: Biked on the exercise bike for 75 minutes in the morning.

Tuesday: Ran 6 miles in the morning. Pace was whatever I felt like since legs were still kind of dead from 9 on the 9th and there was ice everywhere. Swam in the evening.

Wednesday: Ran 6 miles, still icy outside. Ab workout in the evening.

Thursday: Hour on the exercise bike in the afternoon, swam in the evening. Usual swim-bike brick canceled because of Hallmark.

Friday: REST DAY! Started feeling kind of sick in the evening. More sick people in class and maybe over training.

Saturday: Ran 10 miles in the morning, biked 21 miles outside in the afternoon. Finally. Real biking! I felt pretty fresh at the end, too, which was a nice surprise for my highest volume day of the year!

Sunday: Swam in the morning, ran in the evening. Still kind of sick, but its above my neck so I decided to push through it.

Total run: 27.98 (+2 from last week)
Total bike: 66.22 (+21 from last week)
Total swim: 3 (+0.5 from last week)

Weighted total: 62.05 miles
RHR: 65 bpm (!)

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I think I pushed a little too hard this week. I started feeling sick these past few days, and my resting heart rate is up about 15 beats which is a sure sign that I'm over doing it. Luckily, next week is a step back week and I can heal up! Even though several signs point towards over training, my legs feel great. I have not been fighting off any injuries, just illness, although if I pushed another week I would probably run into injury.

I also threw a weighted total in the numbers today. Its a combination of all my activities where a mile swam counts as 4 miles, and 3 miles biked counts as one mile. Not a perfect representation, but I think its a good way to track total volume.

If you missed my last post, almost everything is going my way lately, minus the over training bit. After a week of healing up, I'm willing to bet it'll all be back in my favor again!