Friday, November 13, 2015

Pushing Hard Again

In the last 8 days, I've had some good breakthroughs.

I'm finally done with pain medication from my September surgery.  I still have some discomfort, but nothing that requires medication.  I've been able to add planks, box jumps, running and rope jumping to my workouts.  I even did 50 knee raises while hanging from a bar this week.  I still worry that sit-ups will be uncomfortable, but I'll try them in the next week or so.

Monday, I had an appointment in Boston and my wife came along.  After the appointment, we took advantage of the nice weather and walked for 2.5 hours - just talking and sometimes just enjoying the day in silence.  We met some friends for a very nice dinner after the walk.  Oleana in Cambridge is just an amazing restaurant and there is nothing close to it in Vermont in terms of cuisine.

On Tuesday, we went to CrossFit, and I did deadlifts (up to multiple reps at 245# after maxing out at 185# a week before), planks, some 40# ball slams and hanging knee raises.

Wednesday, we met a friend for dinner and enjoyed a rest day.

Thursday's workout is a "pick your poison" type of workout.  You pick 4 tasks, one from each of 4 different categories, and repeat them once per minute for 40 minutes.  If your tasks are A, B, C and D, the workout is ABCDABCD..., rather than AAAAAAAAAABBBBB...

I chose to row 175m, do 8 ring rows, 5 box jumps (first box jumps since surgery) and bench presses.

Tonight, we have a very tough workout that we do twice a year in honor or extreme skier Ryan Hawks, who had a tragic accident in competition on 2/27/2011, and died two days later.  Today would have been his 30th birthday.

The workout involves rowing, deadlifts, thrusters, box jumps, burpees, lunges and rope jumping.  The five middle movements are done in blocks of 50 reps.  This is a brutal workout that I'm not quite ready for yet.  But, I don't want to miss it either.  So, I'm going to do the workout, but scale down to 30 reps of each exercise, to match my current fitness level.

This weekend, I'm going to take a chance at catching some Lake Champlain "steelhead", something I've never tried before.  I put steelhead in quotes because to many fishermen, a rainbow trout is only a steelhead if it lives part of its life in salt water, rather than a large body of fresh water.  No matter what you call them, these can be large, fat rainbows coming out of the lake, and you never know when you'll hook up with a big fish.  The weather will be raw, but we can't ski yet, so I may as well fish.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Back to Some Real CrossFit

I'm back.  And, I have a hell of a lot of work to do.

Sunday, I spent 70 minutes stacking firewood.  It was a group effort.  I loaded the wheelbarrow and brought wood into the garage.  My wife and daughter stacked it.  My son would stack when my wife and daughter fell behind, and he'd take wood inside when I fell behind.  We worked pretty hard for 70 minutes, but that was all it took us to stack 2 full cords.  I was sore after that, and I planned to resume CrossFit on Monday.

On Monday, we started our warm-up with burpees.  There are about 4 or 5 movements that worry me the most about returning to CF.  Burpees, rope-jumping, sit-ups, planks and box jumps come to mind immediately.  Surprisingly, if I didn't push the pace, the burpees went OK.  Then, we did some muscle activation work with bands.

After that, it was on to front squats - 7 x 5, with the last set done at max reps.  In early March of this year, I hit 305# for a single front squat.  Monday, I started at 75 pounds.  I did sets at 75, 85, 90, 95, 100, and 95.  For my max reps set, I did 10 reps at 85.

Then, the WOD was 15 burpees, 25 slam balls over the shoulder (pick it up and roll/throw it over your shoulder, repeat), 40 box jump overs, 25 slam balls, and 15 burpees.  I scaled it by dropping to 10 burpees and doing box step up and overs.  It took me just over 8 minutes, but wasn't too bad.  I was tired and sore though.

Tuesday, our warm-up was Olympic lifting movements, and I used a 15 # barbell.  Most of the class was doing heavier Oly lifting, but I was doing the "fitness" level, which meant deadlifts.  I did 10 sets of 5.  My goal was to start at 135 and add 10 pounds per set.  If all went well, I'd get to 225, but I doubted that would happen.  By 165, I was noticing some pinching in my abdomen, related to my surgery, so I went to 185 and stayed there for my last 5 sets.  We were supposed to do a 30 second plank between the deadlift sets, but this was uncomfortable, and I skipped it.

The WOD was 3 rounds of 100 single unders, 30 kettlebell swings and 20 ring rows.  Rope jumping is still painful, so I subbed 30 air squats,  For the kettlebell swings, I did the Russian variety, which has a shorter range of motion.  This workout was harder than yesterday for me.  First, it was longer, but it was also more aerobically taxing, and I had to stop to catch my breath a few times.  I finished in just under 10 minutes.

Today is a planned rest day.  I'm going to do a 2 mile walk at lunch, but not much else today.  Then, I hope to feel less sore by tomorrow, and we will do CF on Thursday and Friday.  Hopefully, I can do 4 scaled workouts per week right up until ski season, without burning out or hurting myself.

I did find myself falling asleep on the couch at 9:00 last night, so I went to bed early and got a solid 9 hours of sleep.  Clearly the extra work is reminding my body that it needs to get some good sleep.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Continuing to do some training

I've missed the last couple days of training, but I had a decent week last week.

On Monday, I rowed 6000 meters - 1000 meters more than my rowing sessions last week. Tuesday, I went for a brisk 3 mile walk while my wife did CrossFit.

Wednesday was a rest day for my wife.  Thursday, I walked a bit at lunch and then I rowed 6000 meters, and and then did some dumbbell floor presses and some box step-ups.  Both of those weight-bearing movements could be done without bothering my still-sore abdomen and rib cartilage.

Friday, I spent 35 minutes on a spinning bike, doing 15x30 seconds hard ever 2 minutes.  Then, 5x10 back squats with just an empty 45 pound barbell.  I realized that with the empty barbell, I was moving the same amount of weight that I would have moved in a body-weight squat in April.  And, it was really hard.  Days later, I'm still sore from those squats.

Somehow, the last 3 days got away from me, and I did no training at all.  Saturday, I had pre-season ski instructor orientation at Sugarbush.  After that, I went fly fishing for a few hours and then out to dinner with my family.

Sunday, we had a birthday party for my niece and nephew and we had to get some groceries, and the day was gone before I realized it.  I'd hoped to walk the dogs but it never happened.

Yesterday, my wife and I drove to Albany to see Joe Jackson in concert.  We are operating on very little sleep today, and there was no way to squeeze in any exercise at all.  So, for the next three days, we need to be working hard at the gym.  It's going to be a challenge to get my wife to go to the gym tonight, but I really need to go.

Next week, I plan to resume the actual CF classes, and I'd like to continue some easy movements this week, to minimize muscle soreness in the coming weeks.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Back to some exercise (finally)

From late June until late August, I barely exercised: 16 workouts in 60+ days.  In a typical year, I average 220-240 workouts (it was higher until about 5 years ago, when I gave up the long distance running stuff).  So, working out only 16 days out of 60 was pathetic for me.  And then, I went 6 full weeks with no training at all.  That was the longest period I've gone without exercising in 30 years.

During that time, I had a few surgeries, including a vasectomy, hernia repair, ACL repair, and a prostatectomy.  None of those surgeries kept me out for six weeks.  I didn't run for 11 weeks after the ACL repair, but I was walking, swimming and cycling after just a few weeks.  After the prostatectomy, I was back in the gym within 3 weeks.

Last Saturday, I walked 2 miles with one of my dogs.  Years ago, I wouldn't have even considered a short walk to be exercise, but as I've gotten older, I've gotten less didactic about what I consider to be exercise.  Monday, I walked at lunch and then rowed 5000 meters in almost 28 minutes.  Earlier this year, that workout would have taken me just over 21 minutes.  Tuesday, I walked again.

Wednesday, my daughter played her last home game of high school soccer.  The parents were all requested to escort their daughters onto the field, and my wife and I stayed to watch the team win 2-1 over Lamoille high school, a team my daughter and her friends intensely dislike.  That was way more important than any workout I might have done.

Yesterday, I rowed 5K in just under 27 minutes.

Tonight, I'll hop on a spin bike and do a solo spinning workout, probably for 30-40 minutes.  These aren't hard workouts, by my pre-illness standards, but I'm starting to move again.

I am hoping to resume CrossFit workouts, scaled to an easy level, on the first of November.  Our gym allows us to suspend our membership (and not pay fees) due to illness or injury, so I suspended my membership starting in September.  In some ways, I should have suspended it 2 months earlier, but I had no idea how the anemia was all going to play out.

Ski season is approaching fast, and I need to get my legs ready for that.  My preferred training for skiing is heavy squats, but it will probably be a while before I'm under a barbell holding 200 or even 300 pounds again.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Long time since last update

I don't really want to go into a lot of details, but let's just say that we (the doctors had some help from me) finally figured out why I felt so sick all spring and summer and why I had developed anemia.

Shortly after my last post in late August, I made a trip to the emergency room late on a Saturday night.  This led to some tests, including a CT scan, and that led to some major surgery.  I spent 5 nights in the hospital after the surgery, and today, it's been 4 weeks since that surgery.

The surgery was fairly invasive, and I'm still taking pain medications due to issues from the surgery.  But, at 4 weeks, I'm also back to trying to get myself back into shape.

By the time I left the hospital, due to the anemia, the surgery, and the horrible food in the hospital, I had dropped 58 pounds from the middle of April until I got home.  For the first time in my life that I can remember, I found myself in a situation where I wanted to gain some weight.  Luckily, the issues with my sense of taste and my appetite have been resolved, and I'm able to eat what I want right now.

I have stayed away from alcohol, especially considering the pain medications, but I am back to drinking coffee and eating foods that simply didn't appeal to me over the summer.  But, I'm guessing that I lost close to 40 pounds of fat and 20 pounds of muscle, and while I don't mind losing that fat, I had worked very hard to gain that muscle.

As of now, I'm still a month or more away from lifting weights.  Right now, I can go for a walk, ride the exercise bike, ride my own bike (crashing would be very painful), use the rowing machine, and shortly, I should be able to do some easy jogging.

In another month or so, I should be able to start lifting again, but I've got a lot of work to do to regain what I've lost.

Late last week, I had some blood tests done - a complete blood count, in particular.  My anemia isn't fully resolved, but I left the hospital with my hemoglobin level at 8.4 and I'm up to 11.4.  The bottom end of the normal range is 13.5 and I am guessing I'll be there within a month.  Hopefully, I'll get back up to the 17 range in another month or two after that.

So, the surgery is behind me.  I'm on the mend.  I did a 5K row at the gym last night after a 2 mile walk at lunch.  I'm tired today, but I think I can do some exercise every other day or so right now.  I've been able to walk the dogs on the weekends and I've even been out fishing twice.  Because I'm not as strong as a few months ago, I've been using my wading staff for safety, especially while fishing alone.

Ski season is rapidly approaching.  My goal right now is to improve my conditioning (aerobic and strength) as much as possible by the time we are supposed to start work for the season, which is mid-December.  That might seem like a lot of time - 9 weeks or so - but I lost a lot of hard-earned conditioning over the past 5 months or so.  I've got a lot of work to do, but I'm really looking forward to training harder as my body continues to heal.

I'm very glad to have this incident behind me as well.  I don't have time to complain about the past.  It's time to move forward.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Getting older (still)

My wife and I just spent an extended weekend in PA, with the main purpose of the trip being my 35th high school reunion.  It was great to see about a 1/4 of my class show up, but we are certainly getting old, it seems.  We had no name tags this year, and as we get older, I think we need them more and more.

I was still feeling less than 100% for the trip, but we manged to have a good time.  On our first full day in PA, we went to CrossFit Hanover, a box where we've worked out before.  The guys at this box work hard, and apparently Friday is their hardest day.  We started with some heavy back squats in triples.  Then, establish a 3RM for hang power cleans, and then do 4 sets at 90%-95% of the max.

Then, a metcon where we did a hang power clean, split jerk and push jerk every minute until we couldn't continue.  But, just to make it interesting, we added one clean per round.  I got through the round of 8 and my wife made the round of 10.  As soon as we failed, we had to jump rope for 3 minutes for max reps.  That one hurt.

One good thing is that this workout actually gave me an appetite and I was able to go to a restaurant and eat a normal meal.

Later that day, I was the DD as my wife enjoyed some craft brews at a taproom called Holy Hound.

The next day was the reunion, where I once again played DD.  Having lost all taste for beer, I just wonder if it's ever going to come back.  With coffee, I have simply stopped drinking it.  There is just no appeal.

Sunday, we had dinner with my dad and sister, visited with my sister for a while, and then had dinner with my brother and uncle.  It was nice to see all of my local family on this trip.

Monday, we drove to Bucknell and poked around the campus nostalgically.  Then, we went to CrossFit Lewisburg for a workout, and I got my butt handed to me.  I don't know if it was the heat, residual soreness from Friday (this was a major issue) or the anemia, but I truly struggled, and almost quit without finishing the workout.  But, I made it.

After that, we visited a high school friend of mine and his family (he and my wife had sort of gone to kindergarten together as well), and had a really nice meal, including some wild PA venison.  And then, it was time to come home to reality.

Just before we had left for PA, we'd gotten a call from our roofing contractor.  Apparently, the people who built our house had committed a cardinal sin, and nailed shingles directly to foam insulation.  This led to a lot of leaking and rot,  We had rot in the insulation, rot in a plywood player, rot in the next layer of insulation, and finally rot and carpenter ants in structural 2x4's.  Our original price for the roof was far more than I thought it would be, and with this new information, the price was going to nearly double.  I simply didn't have that money, but the roof was torn off the house, so we proceeded.  Luckily, as the roofers proceeded, some of the rot was not as bad as anticipated, and the additional costs might drop down to "only" $5K.  Still a lot of money, but way better than the number we heard last week.  The roof should be done early next week, and we will get the final bill then.  The roof was overdue and I'm glad to get it done, but this additional cost has been a big hit.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Now, I wait (again)

I had my third iron infusion this morning.  I really like them because they take a while and I get a nice nap while it's happening.  The nurses are also incredibly nice.  Part of this is because I'm one of their healthier patients.  They are an infusion center and administer a lot of chemotherapy to very sick patients.  So, they work to have a happy face for all of their patients, but I'm sure a lot of it is for the cancer patients.

I got my final report from the procedure yesterday, with an all-clear there.  They did say that pathology is still planning to rule out celiac disease.  I thought they were doing more than that with the biopsy, but if not, there isn't much more to be learned.  The nurse told me she doesn't remember a patient with no transglutaminase antibodies who ended up diagnosed with celiac disease, although the opposite can happen.  So, the odds of the biopsy finding anything are slim.

In two weeks, I see the hematologist again.  We will measure all sorts of things that day and talk about the path forward.  If my hemoglobin is a lot better, we will probably continue with the iron infusions until I'm back at a normal level again.  If it's not better, I have no idea what's next.

I'm also curious if this will end up being definitively solved, of if I'll simply recover and never know exactly what happened.  In some ways, I'd prefer to know, but there are still too many (rare and nasty) reasons out there, and I don't want any of them to be at fault.  Things like bone marrow biopsies are procedures I'd prefer to avoid.  So, maybe a recovery and a mystery would be OK.

It's hot again today, but I'm hoping to try CrossFit tonight.  I am not tolerating the heat very well, but if I take it easy, I might be OK for a moderate workout.