Friday, May 29, 2009

Elementary School Run

My daughter had to run a 3-mile road run today as part of her gym "final" for the year. The requirement was a 50 minute finish, which isn't that tough, but the different classes and schools (two elementary schools were there) make it into a competitive event. Parents are invited to participate and my daughter wanted me to run with her. I am working from home today and the run was only a mile from our house, so it was easy for me to be there.

I tried to give my daughter and her friends their space, so I wouldn't embarrass anyone. They had a funny way of running the race - sprint, walk, sprint, walk, etc. I would let my daughter get ahead and then I'd catch up when they started walking again. After the two mile mark, the sprints became more like a jog and I was finally "able" to keep up. But, with 100 yards to go, my daughter and a friend took off and left me in the dust. I laughed as I jogged to the finish. My time was 35:51 and my daughter was about 5 seconds faster than that. I was very impressed by her sprinting ability and her attitude through the event.

Earlier today, I saw the chiropractor. Last night, I ran an easy 6 miles and the hamstring felt pretty good. Later today, I'll see the physical therapist. I'll lift tonight. And then, I'm planning to spend the weekend hiking on hilly terrain.

I've only got 3 Saturdays left to do any long training days. Because my training volume has been low this spring, I don't need my normal 3-week taper. A 2-week taper will be fine.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Thirty Days

Thirty days until we toe the line at Squaw Valley.

I keep thinking about my history with this race. Pacer in 2001. Torn ACL in 2002. Broken rib and minor surgery in 2005, plus a bad training mistake three weeks before the race. Pacer in 2006. Last year, I was lean (for me) and fit and really ready to go. Then forest fires cancelled the race.

This year, I've been fighting an injury and my weight is higher than last year. It seems like nothing has gone right compared to last year. Finishing this year, with the way things have gone, is going to be especially sweet.

There's no way I'll be as fast as I might have been last year. I'm probably looking at fighting cut-offs the whole way and finishing in the last hour. But, I'm determined to get to the track this time.

It's been very dry in Northern California recently. The fire risk is fairly high. I certainly hope that we don't have to deal with fires again. My plane tickets are set, my lodging is pre-paid, and it's time to start and finish this thing.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Back to the gym and PT

I ended up taking a rest day yesterday. I realized that when I got home from work that my new job is going to simplify my life, for a while at least. We seem to be on the verge of a few new contracts, which would greatly add to our workload. But, for the past 18 months, I've been splitting my time between two jobs, working a minimum of 48 hours per week. The 8 hours beyond my 40 "office" hours had to be done in the evenings or weekends. Those extra 8 hours are no longer needed and I don't have to remember everything I need to do for two jobs. I know that a small company that gets new business can get really crazy, but for the moment, it seems less stressful. Today, I'm working from home, which is really nice.

Because I had no reason to work late last night, I got up early this morning and went to the gym. I did some upper body and core work - a quick 30 minute workout and I was done.

This afternoon, I have a PT appointment. I haven't seen the therapist since last Wednesday, and I will be glad to resume appointments. I see the therapist today, Friday, Monday and Wednesday, so the hamstring will get lots of attention in the next 8 days.

Tonight, I'm planning some interval work on the stair climber. We are at the beginning of a few days of intense rain, so training outside doesn't seem like much fun. Plus, I've decided that I don't want to run much before the weekend. My daughter has a 5K on Friday and I'm going to do that with her. This should be a 40+ minute 5K - nothing like my run last week.

Then, on Saturday, I think I'm going to plan a long hiking day in the mountains. If that goes well, I'll repeat it on Sunday. Then, the following weekend, I will hopefully be ready to run 30 miles. If I can pull that off, I'll feel much better about my readiness for WS.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

So much for the higher paying job

My wife's car has been making some funny noises recently. We had the snow tires taken off a few weeks ago, and the summer tires are generally quieter than snow tires. But instead, her car has been noisier. Today, the mechanics got to look at it. It looks like it's going to take $800 to get it fixed. My new job pays more than the old job, but not $800/day more. I guess we're stimulating the local economy.

I had a great bike ride yesterday in windy conditions. I rode just over 15 miles north from my starting point, and upstream along the Second Branch of the White River. I was in the little chainring the entire way out, but I knew that when I turned around, things would get easier.

I ended up riding in the big chainring almost the entire way back and I felt strong. It took me 1:57 to go 31 miles - definitely faster than I've ridden some other rides recently. But, I'm still far, far away from the old triathlon days, when most rides were done at an average speed of 20mph, unless I was going very long or riding lots of hills.

I'm not sure if I'll get to work out today or not. I'm at my new job all day, my car needs an oil change, I have to help my wife out with her car later, etc. But, maybe I'll get to the gym late tonight. Starting tonight, we're going to see lots of rain for the remainder of the week, so I'll likely cross-train in the gym for a few days. I'm hoping that by skipping a few days of running, I'll get the hamstring to settle down a bit again. Then, I can hopefully go long but slow on Saturday.

Monday, May 25, 2009

No setbacks?

I wrote in my last post about the importance of no setbacks right now. What I didn't realize at the time was that I'd caused a minor setback in my 5K on Thursday night. My hamstring felt tight all day Friday and Saturday and it caused me to quit in my 50 miler yesterday after 13.5 miles, done in just under 4 hours.

After my friend Melanie finished the 50K, she yelled at me for being stupid enough to run the 5K on Thursday night. I'd already decided earlier in the day that what she was saying was true. I tried to rationalize it to Melanie by saying that I'd signed up for the 5K long before I got hurt. It was a team thing. But, the truth is my team was slow - my 26:40 had me almost 5 minutes ahead of both of my teammates. We finished 27th of 57 teams in the mixed-sex, non-profit company category. There isn't a lot of recognition for that result, so I definitely pushed too hard for no good reason.

Early in the run yesterday, I could tell that things were still tight. What was most disconcerting was the fact that not only was my stride compromised on the downhills, but the hamstring attachment point was bothering me on the ups. A week ago, I'd climbed over 4500 vertical feet and had no issues at all in that part of the leg. As I approached the start/finish area at mile 13.5, I realized that continuing was likely to aggravate the injury more. It was safest and smartest to call it a day. I'm still in good shape. WS is going to be very difficult given my paucity of running miles, but it's better to be under-trained than injured. I need to recover.

Because I'd car-pooled to the start with a friend who was running the 50 miler, I had a lot of time to kill. I called my wife and whined for a little bit. I took a shower. I called my wife back and apologized for my bad attitude. I told her I now had a choice to make. There was a lot of free beer and I wasn't driving. I could spend the day spectating and drinking the free beer. But, the beer was not going to be helpful in any way for WS. So, I had some food, I cheered on friends, I socialized, and I drank water and diet cola. I'm glad that I made that correct decision.

I'm heading out for a 2-hour bike ride shortly and then I'm going to mow the lawn.

Tomorrow will be an interesting day. I head to my new job on a full-time basis. I'll miss my co-workers at my old job, and I'll especially miss working with my wife, but I'm excited by the challenge of my role in a small company.

Congrats to all my friends who had good races yesterday. My friend Joe took 45 minutes off his time from last year - a great accomplishment at age 60, and he won his 55+ age group. Jamie ran a few minutes slower than he hoped but was very happy with his effort the last 10 miles. After fighting an injury earlier this winter, Jamie has rebounded to be in excellent shape and I'm excited to see how he'll do at WS. My local friend Jeff finished a few minutes ahead of Jamie. Jeff is skipping WS this year because he has a new baby. He and I trained together some last year and he's in great shape right now. So while having to skip WS is disappointing, he had a great race. And, Melanie did a great job in the 50K. She is stubbornly persistent and weathered the early afternoon rainstorms very well.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Bit by bit

I ran 26:40 for 5K last night. I could still feel the hamstring limiting my stride somewhat, and I didn't fight it. Rule number one was "don't hurt myself".

A week ago, I was running with a noticeable limp.

Two weeks ago, I couldn't run at all.

Three weeks ago, I could barely walk.

So, I'll take an 8:35 pace 5K for right now.

My first mile was 8:35. I had to stop to tie my right shoe in that mile, so I lost some time there. The second mile was 8:40. And then, I guess I picked it up a little bit for the last mile.

I saw the chiropractor this morning and he thought that trying the 50 miler on Sunday makes sense, as long as I plan to walk most of it and I know when to quit if I need to do that. We talked about how I'm getting better day by day, and how I have to balance that with training. He said I'm doing everything right so far, and he doesn't want me to screw things up. No setbacks. If I re-injure the hamstring at this point in time, WS becomes a very remote possibility.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

5K in the heat

I'm entered in a Corporate Cup 5K tonight. Today is the hottest day of the year so far in Vermont. I'm not planning to push the pace given the state of my hamstring. But, I might get in some good heat training for WS.

My teammates are my wife and my former doctor. I think the hospital has about 5 or 6 teams entered tonight. Last time I ran this, I was the fastest person from our hospital. But, that won't be the case tonight. I might not even be the fastest person on my team.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

OK, I'm in

I'm going to go to Maine on Sunday.

Rule number one is to not hurt myself. If something is wrong or I feel like I'm developing any injury-like problem, I will quit.

There is a 13 hour time limit on the course, so I don't have to run a lot. I can plan to hike for most of the day. I can plan on finishing last, long after all the food and beer are gone. That is, if I feel good enough to finish.

I need to see just what kind of scary-good shape Jamie is in right now. A couple months ago, he was ready to bail on WS. Now, he's in amazing shape and he's going to have a great race in CA.

A ride, a run, and PT

I decided to skip my meeting last night and enjoy the weather instead by going on a bike ride. I had a very enjoyable ride and it's soon time to start extending the distance of these after-work rides beyond 20 miles. For the first time since I hurt the hamstring, I was able to really pull through the bottom part of the pedal stroke with my left leg. That's certainly progress.

This morning, I ran 6 before work. My stride felt way better than it did last Thursday when I did 8. It's not quite perfect, but it's a lot closer. The run was almost enjoyable.

Then, this morning, I had a PT appointment. I've been switching between two therapists. One has been at the hospital forever and the other is a younger guy who is fairly new. The more experienced therapist, to the best of my knowledge, is not an athlete at all, and I wonder if she understands how athletes think.

I saw her on Monday and she seemed peeved about the workout I'd done on Saturday. I told her that I'd cleared it with the sports doc, but that only appeased her somewhat. Today, my therapist was the younger guy. I mentioned last Saturday's workout and he said that his co-worker was fairly appalled by what I'd done. She doesn't approve of my "lifestyle" apparently. She thinks I should be resting more.

The interesting thing is the quality of service I get with the two therapists. I am scheduled for 45 minute appointments each time. On Monday, the appointment started late and ended early. I got some ultrasound and some very brief massage on the hamstring.

Today, it was ultrasound, then some very deep and painful massage, then some stretching, and then a bunch more massage using Biofreeze. The appointment went a full 45 minutes and the leg got really worked over. The younger therapist is athletic, if not competitive. But, he clearly understands my desire to get to my race next month and he's doing everything he can to help get me there.

I'm not naming names here, but I'm really amazed at how differently two therapists are treating me. Hopefully, no one at work reads my blog.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Not much going on

PT yesterday went OK - some ultrasound and then massage work. The hammie felt pretty good when I left, but I took a rest day to let my trashed quads recover some. The therapist was surprised that my Saturday workout had been OK'd by the sports doc and the chiropractor, but when I told her that they asked me to take trekking poles, she seemed OK with that.

Based on suggestions from the sports doc, I set up PT appointments twice per week until I leave for a week in Costa Rica on 6/14.

Tonight, I have a meeting right after work, but it's right beside the gym, so I'll work out in the gym after work. Tomorrow, I'm planning an easy 6 or so, but I have an 8:00 a.m. meeting and a post-work "going-away" celebration. Maybe I'll sneak out for a six miler at lunch tomorrow. I haven't run at lunch since I started this job, so maybe it's time.

My attendance at Sunday's race is still about 50-50. I want to go, but I don't want to injure myself by trying to do an ultra if my stride is compromised.

Monday, May 18, 2009

The word from the medical professionals

Yeah, two posts in one day. I'm waiting for a really slow database query to finish right now, so I decided to mention something else. The hospital where I work (until this coming Friday) has an excellent sports medicine clinic. I have mentioned that before and they continue to impress me every time I see them.

As I've dealt with frustration with this injury, everyone has been very positive that not only will they get me healthy, but also that I'll have a great run at WS. On Friday, the sports med doc told me that I had years of accumulated base training behind me. He told me that I'll probably have a great race because, for once, I won't be overtrained or beat up from excessive training. He said the long-term base will carry me through once I get myself healthy.

The chiropractor told me that he thought it would be two more weeks before I was 100%. I told him that left me with only one week or so to train hard before I have to start tapering. But, he reminded me that my training volume is low now, so I'm not overly beat up at the moment. Because of that, he suggested that I can train hard until 10 days or so from the race, and there's some merit to that.

So, the various people here are putting me back together physically, but they're also working on my brain, convincing me that I still have what I need to pull this off. Next, I have to make myself believe that to be true.


It's a good kind of pain, I guess, but I'm hurting today. My quads are sore to the touch right now after 4 hours of hills on Saturday.

My plan was to use the automobile toll road on Mt. Mansfield for some hill work. It's 4.3 miles from the parking area to the summit, with 2600' of climbing on the way up. Last year, I did a triple on this dirt road - 25.8 miles and 7800' of climbing. But, given my hamstring issues and the fact that I'm entered in a race next Sunday, my plan for Saturday was "only" a double ascent - 17 miles and just over 5000' of climbing.

When I saw the sports doc and chiropractor on Friday, they suggested that I take trekking poles with me if I was going to attempt this workout. They said that if the hamstring got too fatigued, the poles would help to protect me from further injury.

I got to the parking area a little bit later than I'd planned, and I started up around 8:00 a.m. The first ascent went pretty well overall. I got to the summit in 84 minutes. Last year, when I did the triple, I made it to the top the first time in 79 minutes. I didn't feel like I'd pushed that hard, so I was happy with my time. I talked to a Green Mountain Club volunteer at the summit for a couple minutes and then started the descent, telling the volunteer that I'd see her again in a couple hours. On the descent, I could feel the hamstring really limiting my stride. I took it easy and made it to the car in about 2:20. I grabbed some supplies and headed right back up. By this point in time, the sun had come out and it was getting warm. But, the forecast called for afternoon showers, so I kept all my rain gear with me.

I was listening to music on my iPhone as I ran. I was just over halfway to the summit when I thought I heard thunder. It seems like every time I hike this mountain, I have to deal with bad weather. I turned off my music so I could listen more closely. I didn't want to continue the ascent if a storm was bearing down on me. For 10 minutes, everything was quiet. I was almost ready to turn my music on again when I heard more thunder. This time, there were multiple rumbles in short succession. I was now a mile from the summit. The last mile is exposed at places and I was carrying two portable lightning rods in my hands. I decided it was safest to turn around. After I turned around, I never heard any more thunder, so I may have been overly cautious. But, overly cautious is certainly better than stupidly dead.

I was pretty slow on the second descent and just before I got to the car, it started to rain. In total, it took me just over 4 hours to cover 15 miles with about 4500' of climbing. (It's scary to think that this road is slightly less steep than the Hardrock course.) The road opens to car traffic next weekend, so I can't repeat this workout before WS. But, I have some other good hill workouts in mind for the next few weeks. My hamstring seems to do better on hilly terrain than flat terrain right now, and I need the hill work for Western States. Plus, given the lost training because of the hamstring, I know I'll be hiking rather than running a lot at WS. So, hiking on hilly terrain is probably more race specific for me right now.

By the time I got home on Saturday, I could tell that I'd trashed my quads. I was surprised after the DRB 50K that my quads weren't trashed, but this workout was much steeper than that course. It will take a few days for the soreness to dissipate, but the temporary pain is worth the long term benefit.

I have a physical therapy appointment this afternoon. Hopefully, the therapist won't touch my quads at all. The hamstring continues to improve and it seems that the tightness is more and more isolated to the biceps femoris portion of the muscle group. I'm working on that area with my foam roller on a daily basis right now, and I can really feel a couple tight spots in the muscle.

The chiropractor told me on Friday that he thought I was two weeks away from being 100%. That's encouraging in some ways, but also discouraging because I'm entered in an ultra next weekend. If I had to guess right now, I'd say that I'm about 50-50 for starting that race.

Friday, May 15, 2009

It's getting closer

Race number for WS have been posted.

I'm number 291 this year. In 2005, my number was 254.

They assigned numbers to everyone, even the runners who haven't turned in their service form yet. Those forms are due today. I don't know if there is an exception for elite runners, but a number of very good runners have not yet submitted their service form according to the race web site.

Running - sort of

The weather ended up much nicer than predicted yesterday afternoon. It was windy but not raining at all. Regretfully, my run just wasn't any fun at all. But, I completed 8 miles, so I'm clearly making some progress.

For me, the real joy in running comes when I'm in great shape and my runs begin to feel effortless. Every step is automatic and I will suddenly realize that miles have gone by. Right now, the tightness in my left leg makes every step feel like work. It's work that I need to do and it's not making my hamstring any worse, but the fun factor is completely gone for the moment.

However, a week ago, running seemed impossible. Right now, I've done a 5 miler and an 8 miler this week and survived with no negative effects. I'm hoping that a week from now, things will be even better.

Today, I see the sports doc and the chiropractor. I have PT appointments on Monday and Wednesday. Next Friday I see the chiropractor again. Pineland farms is nine days away. If it were this weekend, I wouldn't make the drive to Maine. It just wouldn't be worth the cost and time to run a race with how my legs feel. Hopefully, by next week, I'll be feeling much better.

Today will be a beautiful day here in VT and I'm going to ride 20 miles after work.

I'm planning a hill "run" tomorrow on VT's highest peak. I'm going to hike up the auto road (a dirt road that doesn't open for car traffic until next weekend) and then jog back down. If everything feels OK, I'll do a second lap. When getting ready for a 100, I really like to do at least one triple on this route, but I don't think that's going to happen this year. If I can pull off the double without pain tomorrow, I'll be thrilled.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Running Today?

I never made it to the gym last night. The track meet started later than advertised and it went on forever. I got to watch Peter run the 1500, but I left before he ran the 3000, which is his favorite event. The 3000 was scheduled for 9:00 p.m. and they were behind schedule.

In the 1500, Peter won his heat easily, running 4:46 according to my watch. That was his fastest time this season, but not his best ever. His coach had apparently not submitted seeding times, so they put him in the slow heat. He definitely didn't belong there and he led wire to wire.

I can't find any times on the web, so I don't know how the 3000 went. Track season ends in a few more weeks, and then Peter goes to a cross country camp for a week or so. We'll start working together after I return from Western States.

My plan for today is to run 8 miles after work. But, we have a severe wind warning, with gusts of 55mph expected. To go along with that, we are supposed to get a soaking rain with the wind this afternoon. I really want and need to run, but it sounds like it's not going to be very much fun.

Time to get some work done, I suppose...

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Nice easy run

Last night, after work, I headed out for a run. My goal was five miles at an easy pace, but the main priority was to not worsen the hamstring. Compared to last week, my stride was way, way better. It's not perfect, but it's close. I deliberately picked a course with varying terrain so that I'd see how I felt on pavement and dirt roads, on ups, downs and level terrain. Overall, I felt best on downs and ups, and the slight limitations in my stride were worst on the level terrain.

But, I completed five miles with no real pain. I didn't push the pace at all. After the run, I immediately iced the entire hamstring. After the leg had returned to normal temperature, I hooked up the e-stim machine for a while. Then, some rolling with the Stick, and finally a little massage with Biofreeze.

This afternoon, I see the PT, and he'll do ultrasound, massage work, and foam rolling.

After the PT appointment today, I'm going to a local high school track meet. The son of a current co-worker is a promising young runner who ran a 5K in the low 17s last summer. He finished third in his division at the state XC championships last fall. The school he runs for is dropping down a division and he's the odds-on favorite to win the championship this fall.

For his high school senior project, he is planning to run a marathon. He is going to report on the physical, nutritional and mental aspects of preparing for and running the race. Every student is required to have a mentor and Peter asked me to be his mentor. I will design his training program for the marathon, but I have to take his track and cross country goals into account. He has a real chance to win the state XC individual championship in his division next fall, and I don't want to do anything to mess with those chances.

Tonight, I'm going to go and watch him run the 1500 and the 3000 - just offering some moral support and letting him know I'm interested in how he's doing. We start working together more seriously after he finally picks his target marathon.

After the track meet, I'm going to go to the gym. I'll do some upper-body lifting and then some intervals on the stair climber. Tomorrow after work, I think I'm going to try a slightly longer run and see how things feel.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Hard bike ride

Thanks to my friend Jim for pointing out the error in my post yesterday. I simply forgot about the first verse in the Grateful Dead song I mentioned yesterday. That's how most Deadheads are - forgetful. You can probably guess why.

In 2004, I saw the post-Jerry Dead play in Saratoga, NY. Actually, my son and I did a mini-tour of our own, seeing the Dead on three consecutive nights in three different states. Their lead guitarist on that tour was Warren Haynes. Warren has played for the Allman Brothers, the post-Jerry versions of the Dead, and he has his own band. He plays a huge number of live shows every year. Anyway, at this particular Dead show, in the second set, I was amazed to hear what sounded like some Pink Floyd guitar licks as a new song was starting. I knew that Phil and Friends had occasionally played "Shine on You Crazy Diamond", but I didn't know the Dead ever played it. But, sure enough, that was the song. Warren was singing the song that night.

And, just like a Deadhead, he got confused and sang one of the verses of the song twice. So, hopefully, I can be excused for misplacing some lyrics yesterday.

Last night after work, I hopped on my road bike. The plan was to ride 20 miles, but rather than just spinning, I wanted to push the pace. I headed north from my office and I was going gradually uphill along a small tributary of the White River. The wind was out of the north yesterday. It took me forever to go the first 10 miles. And then I turned around. I was in the big chainring the entire way back - wind at my back and going downhill. It took me 51 minutes to go out and only 30 to come back. The expensive new bike shorts made the ride much more enjoyable than the second half of Saturday's ride. Every time out, I'm getting more and more comfortable on the bike and I'm remembering that speed on the bike can be very enjoyable,

After riding, I spent some time foam rolling, stretching, using the Stick, and then my wife nicely agreed to some massage work on the hamstring, applying some Biofreeze. Biofreeze is my new favorite massage ointment. Somehow, it's hot and cold all at the same time and it feels great on the injured area.

Tonight, I'm going to try running for a little bit. If the hamstring is still unhappy, I'll go to the gym and use the stair climber and do some lifting instead.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Three days in the saddle, you know my body hurt

The subject above is what I kept thinking about during the second half of my bike ride on Saturday.

Those words are the opening lines to the song "Me and My Uncle", which I know primarily as a Grateful Dead song, sung by Bobby Weir. But, the song was actually written by John Phillips of The Mamas and the Papas.

Anyway, I didn't spend 3 days in the saddle, but I did spend 3+ hours in the saddle of my bike (in the song, they have horses, not bikes) on Saturday. The weather forecast was ominous, with a chance for severe thunderstorms in the afternoon, but the weather stayed nice for my ride. (The severe storms did arrive later and Vermont experienced a very rare tornado during the storms. On average, there is a tornado every other year or so in Vermont.)

The first 25 or so miles of the ride went great. I was taking it fairly easy, trying to spin rather than push bigger gears, and I was just cruising along. But, at mile 25, I turned south to head for home and hit a stiff headwind. And, I had to climb for quite a while. And, the sun was out and it was getting hot. Plus, after all of my recent riding, I was starting to deal with some saddle sores.

So, I found myself riding down the road, thinking about Me and My Uncle. The last 8 miles or so, everything hurt. My quads hurt. My butt hurt. My feet hurt. My shoulders were tired and hurting. My hands hurt. But, I rode for 3:12 on a rolling course and it was a good workout.

Later that day, I went to a local bike shop and spent some money (a lot of money) for some higher quality bike shorts. Hopefully they'll make a difference when I ride again tonight.

Friday afternoon, I had a great PT session and the therapist showed me some new techniques to use a foam roller to work on my hamstring and my ilotibial band on my left leg. Because the hamstring is so tight right now, I can't perform my normal ITB stretch, and I can feel the ITB getting tighter. The therapist cleared me for using stair climbers and elliptical trainers, as long as I had no pain. After work on Friday, I did an intense 30 minute interval workout on the stair climber and I felt pretty good.

I have PT again on Wednesday and on Friday, I see the sports doc and the chiropractor again. Hopefully, I'll be ready to do some running by the weekend.

Tonight, I'm planning a 90 minute bike ride after work, as long as the new shorts help me to stay comfortable on the bike for that long.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Plugging along

Last night, I spent 30 minutes on a spinning cycle and then did some upper body lifting - high reps, low weights. It was pouring outside, so riding outside wasn't really an option.

This morning, I saw the chiropractor before work. I have a PT appointment this afternoon.

The chiropractor said that things are looking much better, my stride is better, and he thinks I'll be running in about a week or so. For a grade 2 hamstring strain, 2-3 weeks is about typical to allow for return to limited activity, and it's been 13 days right now. So, while I'm impatient, it sounds like I'm right about where I should be. And, I'm still managing to work out every day.

Tonight, I'm going to try the stair climber for a while and see how that feels. If that doesn't work, I'll find something else to do. I want to take today off the bike with a longer ride tomorrow.

Tomorrow, I'm going bike riding with the person from whom I bought my road bike. He took the money I gave him (plus a bunch more) and bought a new road bike. So, we're planning 40+ miles tomorrow, if he can go slowly enough for me. We have to ride fast enough to finish before the rain starts.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

I had to see how it felt

The weather yesterday turned out to be less nice than predicted, and the roads were still wet after work. Rather than working out at the gym, I decided to see what would happen if I tried to run. I decided that no matter what, if I felt like I was hurting myself in any way, I'd stop immediately. I also refused to take the dogs along. They know when I'm going for a run and they always want to come along. But, if we'd seen a deer or a turkey, I would have been fighting 200+ pounds of strong Rhodesian Ridgebacks, and I was afraid I'd get hurt trying to control them.

My main goal was to see how my stride would be. Would I be close to normal, would the range of motion of the left leg be compromised, etc.?

I ended up doing a total of 2 miles - a mix of walking and running. My stride was definitely not OK and the range of motion in my left leg was not there. So, I took it very easy and just enjoyed being on my feet. The leg felt no worse after the excursion (it's really hard to call it a run), but I immediately iced it anyway. After dinner, I spent some time with the portable e-stim unit as well. Today, everything feels the same - no improvement and no harm done.

But, I'm clearly not ready to run yet. I'm really not close, regretfully. I'm entered in a 50 mile race 17 days from now. If I can run in that race, even if I don't go the whole way, I'll be very, very happy.

Tonight, I'm going to do some indoor spinning and then do some upper body lifting. Tomorrow, I have a chiropractor appointment and a PT appointment. The weather forecast for Saturday has improved and it's possible that I'll be able to do a long bike ride. Otherwise, maybe I'll take Andy's advice and buy a trainer for my road bike.

Oh yeah, I've dropped 5 pounds in the last 3 weeks. I don't know if I'm losing muscle mass because I'm not using it or if I'm losing fat mass. But, it's nice to see the scale heading down right now.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Weather not looking good

Now that I know I can at least train on my road bike, I've been looking at the weather forecasts more and more. I was thinking that I could get in a ride of at least 3 hours on Saturday, but the weather doesn't look very promising for days right now.

It rained all of this morning, but the afternoon is supposed to be drier. Hopefully, I'll get out for a ride after work tonight. The next two evenings look very discouraging. The weekend looks discouraging as well.

All of March, when I wanted precipitation (in the form of snow), it was dry. Now that I want dry weather, it's raining almost non-stop.

Last night, it was raining, so I went to the gym. I did a short but intense ride on a spinning cycle and then did some upper body lifting. All in all, it was a pretty short workout. It was also my 4th consecutive day doing some sort of cycling. Later last night, I was on the couch, watching the Yankees and Red Sox play baseball in a downpour in New York, and my right quad suddenly cramped up on me. Clearly, I'm not yet adapted to cycling as often as I'd normally run. My butt is telling me the same thing.

I've got more treatment appointments scheduled for the next 10 days or so. PT and chiropractor on Friday. PT next Wednesday. Chiropractor and sports doc next Friday. Plus, I have work to do at home - stretching, icing, foam rolling, the "Stick", heat, and e-stim. There's not much more I can do right now except follow the treatment protocols and wait things out.

It would be nice to be able to ride outdoors if I'm going to try something as stupid as a 3-hour bike ride.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Bike Ride and Continuing Treatments

Last night, I was planning to go for an easy bike ride with my daughter. But, she ditched me to go riding with the neighbor girls instead. So, I decided I could get in a real workout on my bike instead. At first, I was going to ride my mountain bike, thinking that I could put the seat in a lower position to stop from stressing the hamstring too much. But, I decided I'd try the road bike first. I was very surprised that everything felt OK on that bike. So, I rode for almost 90 minutes. The only problem I had was that I forgot my sunglasses. I took a few bugs in the eyes, but nothing too bad.

After the ride, the hamstring felt really good - the best it's felt since the injury. Overnight, it tightened up again somewhat, but the ride was encouraging.

I saw the chiropractor this morning and he said that just spinning on the road bike is going to help a lot with blood flow to the injured muscle. He wants me riding as much as I can for right now. This morning, he hooked me up to e-stim and really cooked the top of the hamstring, and then did two adjustments. I could really feel (and hear) each adjustment as he got things to move the way he wanted. Then, he started talking chiropractor speak, something about "two vector something or other in the boot, blah, blah, blah..." I wish I understood more of what he was saying. Even though I work in healthcare, I sometimes think that providers sometimes make up things on the fly just so their patients can't question what they are talking about.

Later today, I see the physical therapist, and the chiropractor told me to tell them that they should focus on ultrasound on the injured part of the muscle. He's trying to fix the range of motion issues and wants them to work on the injury area itself.

So, I've really got a team of people helping me out, and I've been able to work out for 3 straight days. After Laurel's comment yesterday about her experience at WS in 2007, I'm even more optimistic. Although, considering how she ran at MMT last year, I know I'm not in the same league as her on tough courses.

The real question that I want answered is "How long until I can go for a run again?"

Monday, May 4, 2009

Director of Information Technology

I was going to write about this earlier today, but I was being a coward. I needed to tell my current boss that I was going to be resigning from my full-time position, and I was afraid to do that. I like my current job, and I feel bad about leaving. But sometimes opportunities come along that can't be ignored.

I have now talked to my current boss, so I can post this here.

Last week, the company that I work for part time made me a very generous offer to come to work for them full time. Not only that, they offered me the position of Director of Information Technology. For now, it's mostly a title because the company is very small. It's so small that I'll have a title and still be writing and testing software on a regular basis.

But, it is an exciting opportunity - the kind of offer that doesn't come along very often. Even with a shaky economy, I'm going to take the job and see what happens.

It's exciting and scary at the same time. But, it's also a small company of very smart and focused people, and I'm looking forward to working with them full time.

Alternate Workouts

Still no running. I see the chiropractor and the physical therapist tomorrow and I'll see how everything feels after that. Right this minute, I feel like the trip to the chiropractor improved things on Friday, but everything has been static since then.

On Saturday, I started the day by icing the hamstring. Later, I went to the gym and spent 15 minutes on a spinning cycle, and then did some upper body lifting.

Yesterday, I iced in the morning, rode a Lifecycle for 30 minutes later on, and then spent some time in a hot tub. So, I'm moving again, but I feel like I'm not getting any closer to running. Hopefully, the appointments tomorrow will help in that area.

The highlight of my weekend was my daughter and her new bicycle. A bike shop in Montpelier does an annual bike swap and it was this past Saturday. On Friday night, I took 3 bikes to the shop to sell in the swap. One of them didn't even make it to the swap because a lady offered me cash for it before I had it in the store. The other two bikes sold on Saturday morning.

But, we weren't just selling bikes. My daughter had outgrown her old bike and she had recently ridden a friend's bike without training wheels. She really wanted her own bike, so she and I went back to the swap on Saturday morning as customers. The crowds were outrageous; I was truly shocked by the number of people there. I heard someone say that 300 bikes had sold in the first 10 minutes of the swap.

One of the first bikes we saw was one that my daughter loved, but it seemed pretty expensive for a used bike. It looked as if it had been barely used, but the price just seemed too high. So, we looked around the swap and didn't find anything else that seemed appropriate. We went inside the shop for a bit to look at new bikes and I saw a new version of the bike that my daughter had liked. When I saw what the bike sold for new, the used price outside suddenly seemed like a bargain. So, we went outside and grabbed that bike for her. Then, we waited in line forever, it seemed, to pay for the bike. Then, we went back inside to buy a new helmet for her.

She spent the rest of the weekend on her bike and she's really pretty good. Her older brother broke his arm the day we took the training wheels off his bike when he was 6 or so. He hasn't ridden a bike since. (One of the bikes we sold on Saturday was the bike he was riding when he broke his arm.) So, neither of the kids has ever been very interested in bike riding, but my daughter suddenly seems to love it. I think I'm going to go out for a ride with her tonight, using my mountain bike on our dirt road.

Friday, May 1, 2009

The pendulum swings the other way

I almost cancelled my chiropractic appointment this morning. I figured there was no need to have my hip adjustment done given my hamstring situation. But, the chiropractor was of a completely different mindset. He went right to work, looking for areas where my hips were tight or as he put it, "locked up", near the top of the hamstrings. He said he had to get my hips moving again so the hamstring can heal.

He said that the lack of swelling or a hematoma is very good news and he thinks we'll still get me to the starting line at WS. He was only able to do a limited adjustment this morning, but on the way back to work, I could operate a clutch with no pain for the first time since I got hurt. My walking stride is also much improved. I'm still having some problems sleeping because every time I move, something hurts and wakes me up.

On Tuesday, I see the chiropractor again and I see the physical therapist. I really only need to do two more long runs and I think I'll have a decent shot at finishing WS. After this morning, I think I can go to the gym and do some upper body lifting, just to burn some calories.

Bit by bit...

Also, given the current economy, this little news blurb from yesterday was very interesting, to me, at least:

Vermedx gains $500,000 investment through FreshTracks Capital.

I believe it was the WSJ that reported that only 1.5% of companies trying to get first round venture capital in the past year have pulled that off. Why is this relevant? Vermedx is the company where I currently work part time.