Monday, August 31, 2009

Great weekend

This past weekend was one of the most fun of the summer. Friday night, I lifted (upper body), cooked dinner, and we watched a movie. The movie "Where in the World is Osama Bin Laden" was a bit disappointing - not nearly as funny as other stuff that Morgan Spurlock has done.

On Saturday, my wife and I ran together. We did our fastest time of the year on a hilly 8-mile loop course that we run a lot. But, it was still 9 minutes slower than I ran this course last October. My hamstring always seems to feel the same when I'm running, but my times seem to be getting faster. So, maybe there's still some healing going on in there, despite my impatience and constant complaining that I'm far from healthy.

I did look at the bottoms of some running shoes that I've been wearing since the injury, and the tread wear shows some definite issues with my stride. The left shoe is wearing at a much faster rate and especially on the rear outside edge of the shoe.

After running Saturday, we spent some time trying to stimulate the economy. My son wanted to visit the CD store, my daughter wanted some stuff at the bookstore, and I needed to pick up my guitar and pick out an amp and some other accessories so I could start playing. Plus, we needed some food and a new sleeping pad for our herd of Rhodesian Ridgebacks. OK, we only have two, but they're so big it seems like a herd.

I got a few beginner guitar books too, and spent a lot of time reading learning new terminology. I then spent most of Saturday night playing the guitar - just getting down some basic notes and playing some very simple songs. It's been so long since I've read musical notes that I have to completely re-learn that. The double translation from the musical notation to recognizing the the note to playing the instrument can be overwhelming at times. I wish there was a way to read the score and translate it directly to the guitar, but I guess that comes with time. There is a notation for the guitar called TAB that basically does that, but it feels like cheating to use that notation right from the start. But, I imagine there are a lot of guitar players out there who can't read music, so maybe I should just use the TAB notation to make things easier.

Sunday morning, my wife and I ran a hilly five miler. We both felt a little bit tired, but I ran the course six minutes faster than last week. After running, we had some breakfast and then I got out the guitar again. I showed my daughter some basic notes and then I practiced for a while.

In the afternoon, we drove over to Lake George in NY to visit with an old college buddy and his family. I used to spend most of my vacation time with this friend, backpacking and rock climbing. When I first moved to VT, he and I skied together, raced together, and did more hiking and climbing. But, he's married now and busy with two young children, so we don't see each other as much. I was amazed when he told me that he hasn't run a step in a couple years (he's a former 2:55 marathoner and 17 minute 5K guy), and he hasn't been out climbing or hiking at all this year.

It's been over 16 years since my son was born, and my wife and I have managed to stay really active through all of those years. We just find ways to create free time so we can get outside and play. I can't imagine living any other way and it's surprising to me that my friend is living so differently than in the past. He did tell me that he and his wife are planning to ski a lot more this year, now that their son is old enough for a seasonal program at the mountain where they ski.

We got home late last night, but I still made it to the gym this morning. I did the same workout as last Monday - when I tweaked my back. I had no problems at all this morning and managed to increase the weight for two of the lifts - front squats and deadlifts.

Friday, August 28, 2009

PRP update

I heard from the clinic today, and they managed to secure the people and a procedure room at the hospital to do the PRP. It's now scheduled for 9/9. So, instead of being 3 days away, it's 12 days away. I don't even care right now that the whole thing is going to hurt. I just want to get it done so I can move on, and hopefully get back to tougher training.

My back seems fine today, which is typical of when I've tweaked it this way in the past. If I rest for 3-4 days, everything seems to return to normal. I'm going to do an upper body lifting session tonight as long as it's pain free. On Monday morning, when I do a lower body lifting session, I'll be very careful in my warm-up.

This weekend, if the weather holds, I'll run on Saturday and ride my bike on Sunday. I might be able to keep up with my wife on the run tomorrow. She ran a 5 mile race last night, running in the low 47s on a tough course. She was a minute faster than her last 5 miler and this week was a tougher course. He running is really improving right now, so I need to get healthy before she refuses to train with me because I'm too slow.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

New toy

I guess I get restless when I can't work out. My back is feeling much better and I think I am going to try to work out tomorrow, but today is another rest day. Tonight, I'm going to watch the kids while my wife runs a race. What a role reversal!

So, while I've had this downtime, I've been thinking about a new toy, something I've wanted forever: an electric guitar. I found a used guitar last week in a local shop that really caught my eye. It was listed as a 1960s Fender Stratocaster, but when I did more homework, I found out it was part of Fender's line of "reissued" classic guitars. So, it's not really a 60s Strat, but a replica of an older guitar.

To be honest, I had been very surprised to see the guitar listed as that old, because it looked spotless, sort of like this:

So, after I knew what guitar I was talking about, I did a bunch of homework, reading reviews and comparing prices. The price at the local store was better than anything I could find on the web. And for the price, it was way "more" guitar than I was expecting I could afford.

My wife said I had to have an instructor before I could buy it. So, I found an instructor. And today, I bought the guitar.

Next, I have to buy a few more things, like a strap, some picks, an amplifier, etc. I've wanted to buy an electric guitar for at least 30 years. It seems to me that every teenage boy who loves music wants to play the guitar. But, few ever get around to it. It's taken me a long time to get this far. Next, the hard part starts - actually learning something new and difficult at my advanced age.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Another rest day

Today is actually a scheduled rest day, which is good, because my back is still sore. Better, but sore.

I'm still waiting for a new date and time for the PRP treatment. I really can't expect my running to return to anywhere close to normal until after that procedure.

While I'm temporarily sidelined this week, I'm just planning to put in a lot of hours at work.

Once again, I'm bored by my own life. I want to be doing athletic-type stuff, not sitting around and waiting, and talking about athletic stuff.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

PRP and MRI update

I just talked to the doctor about my MRI and the PRP. It looks like we are going to re-schedule the PRP because he wants to do it in the hospital rather than in the clinic. He said that because the injection will be so deep, he needs the better ultrasound machines at the hospital to guide the needle. It hurts just thinking about that.

The tendon is partially torn from the bone, but no bone fragments went with the tendon. And the tear is significant, but not so bad that he thinks I should go straight to a surgeon.

So now, I just have to wait until they can find a time where the facilities and people are all available at the same time. The doctor said they'd try to do it as soon as possible.

In the interim, I'm going to rest for a few days until my back feels better.

Between my back and my hamstring, I feel like I'm in a downward spiral. Perhaps I've reached my athletic expiration date. I believe that in The Lore of Running, Noakes talks about most runners having 20 good years in them. If so, I've been on borrowed time for a few years now.

Monday, August 24, 2009

My aching back

I'm currently under the influence of Flexeril and Vicodin. Because I've tweaked my back like this before, my doctor resorted to what we've done in the past. Some muscle relaxers, some pain meds, and then ice for 48 hours and then start to apply heat. Neither the doc nor I thought there was any reason to take X-rays or do anything more interventional right now.

I haven't done this in 7 years and I forgot how uncomfortable it can be. But, the doctor doesn't think I did anything other than a basic muscle strain that will resolve itself in a few days. It's really nice to have a doctor where there's a mutual trust and understanding about an issue like this. My doctor treats a lot of pain medicine addicts and he's slow to prescribe pain medications, but he said that this kind of problem is exactly what pain meds exist for.

Last week, he came to me in a coffee shop and asked for my advice about some issues he'd been having while running recently. I didn't even charge him for my advice and I suggested that he should see his own doctor as a follow-up. We both laughed at that one.

So, I'm guessing I'll have a few rest days right now, which I can really use, to be honest.

Last week, in an e-mail to some running friends, I complained about insurance companies and my upcoming PRP treatment. I understand why it's not a covered treatment, even though the mathematician in me thinks it would be in the insurance company's best interest to cover the treatment. So, after that complaint, my next medical treatment turned out to be easy, effective, and very pleasant.

Sunday and Monday workouts

Sunday, I was hoping to go for a bike ride, but the weather just didn't cooperate. It rained lightly all morning and the roads stayed wet all day. I might just be a coward, but if it's not a race, I see no reason to ride on wet, slick roads. So, I did an easy 5 mile run instead. I thought I'd run with my wife, but after she did 12 on Saturday, she opted for a long walk with my son and the dogs instead.

After my run, I think I read for most of the day, taking a break just to cook and eat dinner. I fell asleep early, listening to the radio as Josh Beckett was giving up too many home runs to the Yankees.

This morning, I started a new lifting routine. Yet somehow, I managed to tweak something in my back during my warm-up. The warm-up didn't change, just the workout, so I don't know how I managed to hurt my back just getting ready to work out. Right now, I'm not comfortable sitting or laying down or in any other position. I've done this periodically before and it usually passes in a couple of days. Maybe my body was telling me that it needs a break. I've been continuing to push reasonably hard, assuming I'll get an easy week next week after my PRP treatment. Maybe I'll get an easy week this week as well.

Last week, I ran 4 times and lifted 4 times. My back to back runs on Saturday and Sunday were my first back to back runs, of any distance, in quite a while.

On another note, I'm thinking of finally doing something I've wanted to do for 30+ years. Recently, my son expressed an interest in learning to play the keyboards, and we bought him an electric keyboard and scheduled him for lessons. On Saturday, we were in the music store looking at sheet music for him, and a used 1964 Fender Stratocaster Mustang caught my eye. From what I've read, the Mustang was a 3/4 size guitar, designed for students just learning to play. I talked to a friend this morning who teaches guitar lessons and plays in the band The Kind Buds, a local jam band that plays lots of Grateful Dead covers. He said the guitar was a great guitar for learning and agreed to teach me on that guitar. So, assuming no one bought the guitar Saturday after I left the store, I will likely buy it this week and start lessons shortly.

Many, many years ago, I spent two years learning the French Horn. My instructor eventually suggested that I didn't have the ear for the instrument and that I should give it up. I'm hoping that I'm not too old right now to re-learn how to read music or to learn a new skill. Besides, if my hamstring doesn't heal properly, I'm going to have a lot of time to practice.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Lazy start to the weekend - sort of

I slept in this morning. My wife ran an easy 4 miles before we headed to the farmers market. Then, after the farmers market, we went to the dump, took care of recycling, got some coffee and came back home.

Then, we ran 8 miles together in a light rainfall - the fastest we've gone together on this course in quite a while, but still slow.

Right now, my wife is napping, my son is sleeping, the dogs are sleeping, my daughter is gone, and I'm thinking that a nap sounds like a good idea. If the weather cooperates, I'll do a bike ride tomorrow. Or maybe I'll run again. Or, maybe I'll do nothing at all.

Friday, August 21, 2009


I did my leg workout last night and felt tired, but still got through the workout OK.

After the warm-up, I did kettlebell swings, BB Bulgarian Split Squats (8x3 with high weight and short rest), snatch-grip Romanian deadlifts, and then Swiss ball hip bridges/curls.

As I've been doing recently, I added some straight deadlifts to the end of this workout:


The last lift was my heaviest deadlift since a 325 in December.

This morning was an upper body workout. I felt tired when I got up, and almost deferred the workout to the evening, but I got myself to the gym OK. The workout went great and that wraps up a four week lifting cycle. I was especially happy with my pull-ups - 3x6, compared to 8 weeks ago when I could only do one pull-up at a time. Sometime this weekend, I'll get my workout schedule for the next four weeks.

For the weekend, I'm planning a run tomorrow and a bike ride on Sunday. The distances will be determined by how my hamstring feels.

Later today, I need to get a blood test (CBC) done, to make sure I have enough platelets for the PRP procedure in 10 days.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Easy run and nutrition update

My wife and I did a slow, easy 4 miler last night after work. It was warm, by Vermont standards anyway, and we took it easy. The dogs wanted to come along, but it was too hot for them. They just don't handle heat well at all these days. Then, on the way home, they'll suddenly spy some mud and start rolling in it to cool themselves off. Considering that they sleep in our bed, that behavior is not acceptable.

After the run, my wife had a meeting and my son was at a friend's house. So, my daughter and I went for a short swim and then went out for dinner. The restaurant had some nice beers on tap and I really wanted one, but I abstained. It's now been 3 months since I've had any alcohol, and I'm going to continue to abstain for at least 3 more months. Perhaps a lot longer.

Tonight is a lower body lifting night. Tomorrow morning, I have an upper body lifting workout. At that point in time, my current lifting cycle is complete and I won't see the next schedule until Monday. I'm getting a new workout schedule from the people at Precision Nutrition every four weeks right now.

We are about halfway through the current six-month coached program at Precision Nutrition, and unlike the last time I tried this, things are going really well. Last time I tried the program, in my opinion, I failed badly. I tried to do my workouts instead of their workouts. I justified eating differently than prescribed because of my endurance work. And, I was drinking alcohol through the program. Essentially, I paid for a program that I didn't follow. Because of that poor effort, I decided to try the actual program, instead of my own pseudo-program.

This time around, I'm following the food and exercise prescriptions. Well, to be honest, the first month was June, and I used WS as an excuse to do things a bit differently than I should have. But, since I got home from the trip to CA, I've been doing everything right. I'm slowly incorporating new habits into my eating and adding a new habit every couple of weeks. So far, I've managed to stick with all of those habits and the results are starting to show.

I have gotten permission from my coach to add easy runs or bike rides into some of our scheduled rest days, but I make sure that I do every prescribed workout just as it's laid out.

Yesterday, someone told me that I was clearly losing weight. I can see changes in the mirror. In reality, my weight has come down very little, but I have clearly added muscle mass and lost fat mass. My clothes are fitting me better. And, I'm getting stronger.

The program ends at the end of November and I expect to see a lot more changes between now and then.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Upper body lifting

The timing of this scheduled workout was pretty good, given that my legs were trashed. It's interesting that I worked out harder a week earlier, yet this past week seemed to leave me more beat up, despite two rest days. Perhaps it was just a cumulative effect, or maybe the very hilly bike ride on Sunday followed by a squat day in the gym on Monday.

Here's my workout from yesterday:

Warm-up (most done with exercise bands)

1a - Bent over BB row 2x12
1b - incline alternating DB bench press - 2x12

2a - Close grip cable row - 6x5
2b - Push-ups - 6 x as many reps as possible (AMRAP)

This one had only 10 seconds rest after the rows before the push-ups. I pushed the weight up on the rows from last week and I was curious how the push-ups would go. I was happy to do 15, 14, 13, 12, 12, and 12, for a total of 78. In each set, I went until I couldn't do another rep without a rest period and the previous rep had been a very slow ascent. This was my best performance on push-ups recently.

3a - Barbell curls - 9, AMRAP, AMRAP
3b - Close grip bench press - 9, AMRAP, AMRAP

I used the same weights on these lifts as last week, but found that I was able to squeeze out some extra reps in the second and third sets. Overall, it was a very good workout, and way better than exercising outside, where it was extremely hot and humid.

The temps are supposed to drop a bit today and I'm hoping to get in an easy run after work. However, if my hamstring complains too much, I'm going to call it quits and go for a recreational swim instead.

PRP Countdown - 12 days

Tuesday, August 18, 2009


My hamstring seems to be slowly getting worse. I've gotten to the point where I seem to have a constant dull ache in the area of the injury. I'm probably doing too much exercise and creating inflammation in the injury area. Yet, compared to my "normal" exercise levels of the past few years, it seems like I'm doing very little.

I've only run 700 miles so far this year and I'm on pace for my lowest running mileage year since 2002 or perhaps even 1998. In 2002, I had surgery to repair a torn ACL and lost a lot of the year to the injury and rehab. In 1998, I was simply stressed out by work, a new baby, and a late-year job change and cross-country move. Between all of those things, I simply didn't run very much that year - 967 total miles and 450 of those miles came in November and December, after I'd gotten my job situation settled. In 2002, I ran 1365 miles. Since 1990, those are my two lowest mileage running years, but it's pretty obvious that this year will be worse than 2002.

I've got less than two weeks until the PRP procedure, so I guess I just need to back off somewhat and not do any (more) damage until that procedure is done. After the procedure, I'll have two weeks of very limited activities while the PRP does its work.

In the interim, I'll try to stay active, but perhaps moderate things a bit. I'm not very good at moderation, so we'll see how that goes.

Today, I'm scheduled for an upper body lifting day, which I should be able to do without irritating the hamstring. Today is also supposed to be the last day of the brief heat wave that has hit Vermont recently, so training indoors in AC is fine with me. I ran a few easy downhill miles to the pool after work yesterday and it wasn't fun in the heat.

Monday, August 17, 2009


We just had our first really warm, summer-like weekend of the year. In mid-August. A month from now, the leaves will start turning, but summer seems to have just arrived.

I wanted to run early on Saturday, but I also needed to get to the farmers market early, so my wife and I bought fruits and veggies before running. I was feeling beat from lifting twice on Friday and I didn't want to run as long as my wife was planning to go. So, we ran a hilly five miles together and then she went out for a bit over five more. I started to mow the lawn while she finished running.

After that, I did some home maintenance type of stuff, and it was time for a swim. We followed that up with dinner and then watched Slumdog Millionaire. It was a really good movie, but I find it hard to believe that it was the best picture released last year. It kind of reminded me of the year Shakespeare In Love won best picture. That was a good movie with a typical happy-ending to the love story, but it wasn't close to as good a film, in my opinion, as Life is Beautiful or even Saving Private Ryan. However, I haven't seen the other pictures that were nominated from last year.

Sunday morning, I got up early to go bike riding with one of my fellow ski instructors. My wife and son came with me and they hiked nearby while I rode. My friend and I did a very hilly ride that lasted just under two hours. The heat kept building through the ride and hills never seemed to end. I drained two water bottles during the ride and still felt like it wasn't enough.

The highlight of the ride was seeing a beautiful black bear - the first time I've ever seen a live bear in New England. It was in some bushes right beside the road and as my friend rode past the bear, the bear was startled and ran into a meadow, where we had a great view of it. My friend does a lot of mountain biking in the same area where we were road riding, and he sees bears pretty regularly, but it was a first for me. This is an area known to harbor a healthy bear population because of the high density of beech trees. Bears love the beech nuts and when I'm teaching skiing in the winter, I often show customers beech trees that have bear claw marks on the bark.

So, after our ride and my wife and son's hike, we met up for a late breakfast. After that, we went home and then went for a swim. I was too tired to do much else the rest of the day. Mostly, I caught up on the past week's episodes of The Daily Show and The Colbert Report before bedtime.

I did a lower body lifting session today and I'll probably run an easy 3 miles to the pool after work. It's supposed to hit 90F today and my son has his first high school soccer practice of the season today. It's going to be a tough day for soccer.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Sometimes, life gets in the way

Working at a small company has been fun and exciting for the past few months. This week, we needed to release a new product, and we didn't do the best possible job with the release. That led to a couple long work days this week, and it caused me to miss my workout yesterday. After a planned rest day on Wednesday, I ended up with two rest days in a row. I had a dinner reservation to have dinner with my wife and son last night and I was late for that, but I eventually made it. We had a really nice dinner at a local restaurant in a small local town. The restaurant sits on the edge of a lake and every meal there is a treat, especially when you can sit on the deck by the lake, like we did last night. It was a great way to unwind from a stressful work day.

This morning, I did yesterday's scheduled lifting workout - a lower body workout. Tonight after work, I'll do today's scheduled workout. Hopefully that won't leave me too tired to run with my wife tomorrow or cycle with a skiing buddy on Sunday.

To be honest, I have practically nothing planned this weekend other than a few workouts, and I'm looking forward to the nice weather and a calm weekend.

I almost wish I was running the MMD race in NH tonight, but my hamstring would not hold up well to that course right now.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Lifting night, and finally, a rest day

I did an upper body lifting night last night. After my warm-up, I had 3 supersets to do, and a number of AMRAP (as many reps as possible) sets.

I started with bent-over pronated barbell rows and incline DB presses for the first superset - 5x5. I used 135 for the rows and 2x45 for the presses. The 135 was a new high weight for me on that lift, but I seem stuck at 45s right now on the other lift.

I was using 50s for this lift about 18 months ago, and despite the fact that by bench press is better now than then, my incline dumbbell presses seem to have stagnated.

Next, I did supersets of close-grip cable rows (165 pounds) and then, with short rest, as many push-ups as possible (until I had to rest or my form fell apart). The rows were done as 5x6, so that meant 5 sets of push-ups. I did a total of 61 push-ups in the five sets, so I'm improving vs. recent weeks, but I never seem to get past 15 for my first set. I wonder if I should start doing "bonus" push-ups on other days of the week.

Lastly, I did barbell bicep curls and close grip bench presses. The goal was to start with a weight where I could just barely do 9 reps for the first set for each of the lifts, and then use the same weight to do AMRAP for sets 2 and 3.

I used 65 pounds for the curls and 95 for the bench presses - pathetic numbers, to be honest. But, I spend a lot more of my time doing lower body training vs. upper body, and adding upper body mass will not help my running.

I keep track of a number of girth measurements on a weekly basis, and lately, two numbers have been converging. As I'm losing some body fat, my neck is getting smaller. And, my biceps are getting bigger. The two numbers are currently only an inch apart.

I'm pretty sure my biceps have never been bigger than my neck and I'm not sure that it would be a good thing for someone who claims to be a runner. I am clearly adding some upper body mass right now, which I can tell clearly when I put on a dress shirt right now. The chest and shoulders and biceps are getting tighter and the neck is getting looser.

Hopefully, I'll get my hamstring fixed soon and I can once again be a runner who lifts on occasion, rather than a lifter who runs on occasion.

Today is a scheduled rest day. It's been two weeks since I've had an actual rest day (I've trained on my last 3 scheduled rest days), so I think I'll actually rest today. Some new Netflix movies are scheduled to arrive today, so I think I'll just relax tonight.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

And now I wait...

I don't know how long it will be before I hear back about yesterday's MRI. The hospital where the MRI was done has no employed radiologists, so they use radiologists from another hospital to read their radiology studies. Hopefully, I'll hear fairly soon and we'll know if the PRP is the right answer or if we need to pursue another path.

My legs are beat today after cycling on Saturday, running on Sunday, and doing a squat and lunge workout yesterday. Today is an upper body workout, and tomorrow is a scheduled rest day. Recently, on my scheduled rest days, I've been doing an easy ride or bike run, but I might just rest this time.

So, I just keep plugging along - lifting, riding, running, and trying to eat well.

It's been 11 weeks now since I've had any alcohol and I'm finally seeing my weight and measurements heading in the right direction. To get there, I've also had to be very careful with what I'm eating. Dropping alcohol alone is not enough for me to lose weight, even if I'm working out hard. So now, I'm living life without alcohol and many of the foods I really like. Luckily, we are in the midst of summer and the fruits and veggies from farmers markets are making it easier to eat healthy foods.

Monday, August 10, 2009


That was fast. The hospital needed insurance company pre-approval for an MRI on my hamstring. We filled out the request form on Friday.

Today, at 1:30, they called and said the approval was complete. And, they had a 3:00 slot for an MRI, if I could make it. I jumped at that opportunity, so I'm hopefully one step closer to a solution with my hamstring.

The odd thing is that I'm now actually hoping that the MRI shows a specific injury site. If no acute injury is seen, there is no point in doing the PRP injection, because there is no specific location to target.

If the MRI shows no specific injury site, I am guessing they'll send me back to PT and the chiropractor, rather than doing the PRP treatment.

I've still got three weeks until the treatment is scheduled anyway, and I need to get a blood test (CBC) to make sure I actually have platelets sometime next week. That test has to be done within 14 days of the planned treatment.

As I've said many times before, I just want to run without it being a chore.

Great weekend

I'm not sure that I followed the doc's advice to take it easy on the hamstring until we do the PRP procedure, but I did have a fun and tiring weekend.

On Saturday morning, my wife was scheduled to have a massage. So, I went to the farmers market to get fruits and veggies for the week. Then, I headed to a local coffee shop to get some caffeine and read the newspaper. About 11:00, I headed home and got my cycling gear together. My plan was a ride of 45-50 miles. It was a rectangular route, with each of the four corners representing a low point. The east-west segments of the rectangle were shorter and very hilly compared to the north-south segments which were longer and only moderately hilly.

I wanted to just have fun and not push the pace, knowing that this would be my hilliest ride of the year so far, with two major climbs. I did just that and took two short breaks at convenience stores along the way to get some food. The toughest part of the ride was the third leg - the northern east-west segment. It took me 25 minutes to climb to the summit of that leg of the ride and I was out of the saddle for a fair amount of time.

The total distance was 46 miles and my speed was so slow that I'm not even going to mention it. But, it was fun.

Because my wife didn't run on Saturday, she wanted to do her long run for the week on Sunday. I was tired, but agreed to run with her. I struggled almost the entire 10 miles, but we got through the run OK. My wife did have to wait for me a couple times as I chose to walk up some hills, and she eventually pulled away in the last half mile. She had some problems with a tight calf and she was limping a bit as we finished. She definitely needs new shoes and I think she needs to be careful about how fast she increases her mileage.

Other than those two workouts, I spent the weekend doing as little as possible - some reading, a little bit of work with the chainsaw to clear a downed tree, going for a swim, and operating the grill when it was time to eat.

Today is a leg day at the gym and it will be a struggle, most likely.

I'm waiting to hear if the doc found anything on the X-rays that were taken on Friday. Then, I also need approval from the insurance company for an MRI, and we'll schedule that as soon as possible. I'm looking forward to this treatment, even if it is expensive and still somewhat new. I just want running to be fun again.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Hamstring Prognosis

I saw the sports doc this morning. After a few questions and some examination, he agreed that a Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) treatment would be his first choice, if I can afford the treatment and I'm willing to try a fairly new treatment protocol.

He said that if I was a casual runner - a few 3 milers per week, or a hiker or simply a non-competitive athlete of any sort, he'd recommend some rest or reduced activity for a few months to see what would happen. But, I want to return to a high level of activity and I want to do that quickly, so he thinks PRP is my best bet.

I have to pay for the treatment out of pocket, but not all of the preliminaries before the treatment. The treatment costs just under $1,000, and it seems reasonable to me that I should pay for it. First of all, I hurt myself doing something stupid. It's still experimental. And, I don't need the treatment to function at a reasonable level. But, many would say that I'm not reasonable in the way I play, and they're probably right. I'll gladly pay out of pocket for the treatment.

So, today, I had an X-ray. They want to make sure that no bone was pulled away at the hamstring attachment point.

Next, they want to do an MRI to find the exact location of the suspected tendon tear, so they'll be able to guide the PRP injection directly to the injury site. I had to fill out the pre-authorization paperwork for the MRI today and the MRI will probably happen next week sometime.

And then, assuming everything is still a go, the PRP is scheduled for 8/31. I have been told that I must pre-pay on the day of the procedure itself. They don't want to chase me down if I don't pay the bill. They don't want to submit it to insurance. Payment in full at the time of service. They also told me to be well-hydrated on 8/31, because they need to take about a cup of blood to spin down to the PRP that they'll inject.

After the treatment, I should expect 3-4 days of discomfort and then about 2 weeks of limited activity, after which I can start pushing things again.

The doctor also told me that since running seems to be causing me the most discomfort, perhaps I should spend more time with other activities, such as bike riding, until after the treatment. That seems reasonable, except my unreasonable brain wants to run. I think I'll plan on a long ride tomorrow and go from there.

Role Reversal

Last night, a local running club put on a 5 mile race on dirt roads. I run the race most years, but there was no point this year. I'm just too slow and I certainly didn't want to injure my hamstring any more before my doctor's appointment today.

Last year, my wife and son ran the race as well, and while my son wasn't interested this year, my wife wanted to run. My son had a medical appointment yesterday afternoon, so I left work early to take him to the doctor. My wife went to run the race. It's been years since she ran a race that I didn't run, but I was glad that she was motivated to go. I was glad to play Mr. Mom so she could run.

After my son and I got home from the doctor, I headed to the gym for a lower body workout. On my current schedule, my Thursday workout seems easier than my other lifting days during the week. After my warm-up, I did 6x6 of kettlebell swings with short rest, 5x5 of barbell Bulgarian split squats (65 pounds), 4x7 of snatch-grip Romanian deadlifts (165 pounds) and then 4 sets of "dynamic" Swiss ball hip bridge/leg curls, doing as many reps as possible each set (12, 12, 10, 10). Because this workout seems a bit too easy, I've been adding some straight deadlifts at the end. I had the bar set at 165 pounds for the RDLs, so I started there, and did the following:


Things felt pretty good until 265, which is why my next increment was only 10 pounds and I then called it a day. The 275 lift was my best since I hurt my hamstring in April, and actually the best since I set a PR of 325 in December. I'm not sore today (yet) from this workout.

After the workout, I headed home and started dinner. I was expecting my wife and daughter to be home by the time I finished dinner, but they weren't there. My wife eventually called me on the phone to explain that she'd be late. It turned out that she had finished 2nd in the 40-49 age group (not bad at age 47!), and she had to stay for the awards. She got a small gift certificate to a local sporting goods store as her prize. Last year, the age group awards were bottles of barbecue sauce, so this year's awards were an upgrade.

So, I'm glad to see that there's still one runner in our family, even if it's my wife instead of me.

Because of the race, my wife wants to delay her long run this weekend until Sunday. So, I'll probably ride my bike for a few hours tomorrow and then run with the real runner in our family on Sunday, if I can keep up.

Thursday, August 6, 2009


Arms last night.

Legs tonight.

Arms tomorrow night.

Tomorrow morning, I see the sports doc about my hamstring and we'll discuss the Platelet Rich Plasma treatment.

Then, some running or hiking on Saturday and a bike ride on Sunday.

My weeks are pretty much the same right now, training-wise.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Social Distortion

What? Did you say something? I can't hear very well right now.

My son really wanted to be up front last night, which can be dangerous for a show with three punk bands. There were a few tense moments, in my opinion, as I spent time making sure that my son and wife didn't get killed by an energetic (and mostly drunk) crowd.

At one point, some young punk (literally) tried to force his way in front of my wife during a Social D song. I didn't want to let him past, as my wife was already being trampled by the drunk guy dancing beside her. For a second or two, the guy and I stared each other down as I tried to stop him from stepping in front of my wife. I was smiling inside, knowing that he was drunk and I'm a lot stronger than he could have possibly realized. I'm not a fighter in any way, but it occurred to me that I could drop the dude with one shot. And then, I realized that was stupid, I smiled and let him pass. He gave me some more attitude later, but I let him "win". I'm sure he's feeling really good this morning after all he had to drink last night.

Later in the show, a guy suddenly showed up beside my wife and started hitting on her. My wife lifts and runs and looks great for someone almost as old as I am (note that I'm not calling her old; I'm calling myself old), and she was wearing a short, low-cut dress. I found it kind of funny, but she was annoyed, pointed to me, and the guy (clearly intoxicated) left to find someone else to harass.

Social D was great, probably better than when I last saw them. I don't know the entire history of Mike Ness's heroin use, but I believe he was still using the stuff when I last saw him. Last night, he looked healthier than 11 years ago and clearly more in control of the stage and the band. They played all of their classics and ended with a great version of Story of My Life. Earlier, they had played great versions of Ball and Chain and Ring of Fire and Sick Boy, some of my favorite older tunes. They played a number of songs that will be on their next album as well. The only song I could think of that they didn't play that I really wanted to hear was Knockout and my son said he would have liked to hear So Far Away.

All in all, I was impressed, but I am too old to stand in the front two or three rows at a punk show. I'd love to see any of the three bands again, but I think I'll stand in the back next time.

The two opening bands were better than expected. The first band was called the Strangers and they hail from Orange County, where Mike Ness grew up. They had moments where they sounded like the Clash (especially on guitar), Green Day, and the Ramones. The second opening band was an all-female band called Civet. At first, I wasn't crazy about them, but I warmed up to them as they kept playing. They could certainly play, and my wife and son thought their drummer was better that Social D's drummer. I will certainly be looking for some music by them, and I bought a Strangers CD last night.

Civet is from LA and they stayed around selling merchandise and autographing items after the show. My son wanted a T-shirt, but they only had size small. He still bought one, had it signed by the band, and he plans to hang it on his bedroom wall. I think he was a bit taken by the appearance of the four ladies in the band. My wife said she's going to have to think about her aversion to female punk music, such as early stuff from Hole, which she has always dismissed.

Before the show, I did a 5 mile run along Lake Champlain. To be honest, it was one of the least fun runs I've done in a long time. My hamstring was unhappy, I felt beat up and low on energy, and it was just no fun at all. In two days, I'll see the sports doc and hopefully we'll find a way to turn a corner on this injury.

Tonight, I'll do some upper body lifting.

For the moment, I have no tickets to any concerts, so it might be time to focus more on work and training. But, I've had a good summer of loud music so far.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

More music

I've seen so many concerts recently that it's hard to believe I'm training hard. Yet, I'm managing to work our nearly every day despite some late nights. Yesterday, I did two workouts in a day for the first time in a while.

Tonight, I'm going to see Social Distortion in a club here in Vermont. I have seen them before, in Anchorage, in the summer of 1998, I believe.

On that tour, they recorded a show at The Roxy in Hollywood that has been released on CD and it's a great show. I hope Mike Ness still sounds close to as good now as he did then. The club where I'm seeing them doesn't sell out very often, but this show sold out quickly, so the place will be packed. My wife and son have never seen them and they are very excited about the show.

I got in an easy 45 minute run last night - a net downhill run to the local pool, where I met my family for a quick swim. Tonight, I'll run for an hour or so after work before meeting my wife and son for dinner before the show.

The weather here in Vermont seems to finally be turning a corner and the long range forecast shows that we might actually have a summer this year. It will be short, but it looks like this month will be a lot drier and sunnier than the past few months.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Almost glad it's Monday

All as planned:

I played racquetball with my son for an hour on Friday night. Then, I swam with my daughter and a friend for a while.

Saturday, my wife and I ran for just under 2 hours on a warm day. Later, we went swimming for a while.

Sunday, I rode for about 2 hours on my bike with a skiing buddy. He would struggle to keep up on the flats, but he dropped me on every uphill. The lighter weight of my bike was more than offset by my heavier body mass (Hmmmmm.....).

Last night, I cooked a nice but healthy dinner for our wedding anniversary. My wife and some friends had some nice wines, but I abstained.

This morning, I did a killer lower body workout. I'm beat and I'm glad it's time to sit on my butt and just do some work.

Tonight, I'll do a short downhill run to the pool after work.