Thursday, June 27, 2013

Shoulder Update

My shoulder is still a bit sore, but not too bad.  In the first 24 hours after the PRP, I used some codeine for the pain and to help me sleep.  Since then, I've used a little bit of codeine, but a lot less than during that first 24 hours.  So, none of the things that worry the doctor have happened - extreme pain, swelling, reddening of the skin, etc.

Now it's a matter of being patient and being smart with the activities that I choose for the next few weeks.

After resting completely on Monday and Tuesday, I went to the gym last night.  I wanted to be very careful with the shoulder, yet do something (anything) that would stop my recent decline in fitness.  With all the rain we've had recently, I haven't been doing much on the weekends - no running, no cycling, no hiking, and not even much fly fishing.  And I've been getting to CrossFit only 3x per week recently.  Add in days missed due to the PRP and being out of town last weekend, and my June workouts have been pathetic.  From January through May, I averaged 20 workouts per month - right about where I want to be.

For June, yesterday was only my 10th workout of the month.  Hopefully, I'll get to 13 or so by the end of the month, but it will still be a poor showing.  I've only fished three times this month as well, which is also kind of pathetic.

Last night's scheduled workout started with 7x1 of split jerks - the second half of a clean and jerk - at high weights.  That was a non-starter for me.  Instead, I did some mobility work, focusing on ankles and my back.  After that, I did some easy back squats with fairly light weight, trying to focus purely on form, especially getting a deep (legal) drop and keeping my chest up.

Next, as the rest of the class moved on to the metabolic conditioning part of the workout, I found a different way to challenge myself.  I spent about 10 minutes jumping rope, working on double unders.  I was using a new heavier rope for the first time.  The heavier rope provides better feedback.  When you miss a jump, it hits you hard and you know why you missed - jumped too soon, not soon enough, not high enough, etc.  I made some progress but it's going to be a while before I'm proficient at double unders.

And then, I ran a mile.

We've had so much rain recently that part of the interstate got washed out yesterday.  We are under a flood watch until tomorrow, with a lot of rain expected overnight tonight.  It could be quite a while until the rivers return to fishable conditions.  But, while it's raining, it's also been hot.  As the river temperatures get close to 70F, I'll stop fly fishing.  Fish that are caught in warmer water have a high mortality rate and I usually don't fish in water above 70F.

Maybe I should get back to running and riding on the weekends instead of goofing off.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Platement Rich Plasma Treatment - Left Rotator Cuff (Infraspinatus)

Early in 2012, I took a hard skiing fall, landing on my right shoulder.  I knew when I got up that I'd injured the shoulder.  It took me about six months of rehab and working with a chiropractor, and in September of last year, I set a new bench press PR (195 pounds - not very impressive) with no shoulder pain at all.

Not long after that, we started a very focused cycle of Olympic lifting at CrossFit - snatches and cleans and jerks of various types, plus overhead squats.  By November first, my left shoulder was hurting and my training log shows I was taking Aleve once or twice per week.  Yet, I pushed on.

I started to see the chiropractor again.  I saw a sports orthopedist.  I started doing regular rehab work.  I started to drop certain lifts from my workouts.  At first, I simply removed snatches and overhead squats.  Then, I removed the more dynamic jerk movements.  Then, I even removed the military press.  My bench pressing was done with barbells only at light weights.  Then, I removed cleans.  Switched push-ups to assisted rather than strict.

And through all of that, nothing got better.  Two cortisone shots, a few weeks apart, provided some relief, but not nearly enough.  I honestly feel like I haven't had a good night of sleep in maybe 8 months due to shoulder pain.

It's not hurt bad enough for surgery (allegedly), but it hurts too much to sleep and too much to do a lot of lifts I'd like to be doing.  It's been 7-8 months with no real improvement.

So yesterday, I had a platelet rich plasma treatment in the rotator cuff.  It involved way too many needles, many of them large gauge.  The blood was drawn with a 22 gauge needle.  The plasma was injected with a 20 gauge needle - anything smaller can damage the platelet cells.  Between the blood draw and the plasma injections, I had a number of Novocaine (or similar - I didn't ask) injections.  All told, I probably had 8-10 injections done by the doc.

As he did the procedure, we joked about getting older, our mutual love of playing hard, and how the two are often at odds with each other.  This was my second PRP treatment - the other was for a partial tear of a hamstring tendon - the semitendinosus.  The one healed somewhat slowly, but I feel the procedure was a success.   I had the treatment done in 2009 and I could barely run when I had it done - 5 months after I'd torn the tendon.  Within 3 months, I was running with a normal stride and within 6 months, I was sprinting again.

The doctor finds that the procedure really shines with rotator cuff injuries and he is expecting a full recovery. Of course, I have to rest enough to allow the process to work.  And then, perhaps more difficult, I have to not re-injure the shoulder doing the same things that caused the injury.

To that end, I'm planning to spend a lot of my downtime working on mobility and flexibility.  And maybe some fishing.  Plus running, cycling and lower body lifts.  I need to rest for a couple more days and I can then start to ease back into things.

If I can sleep without pain in a couple weeks, that will be a huge win.  If I can do Oly lifting by the end of the year with no pain, that will be even better.

For now, I just want the pain to go away.  For a few days, I have some medication to help with that, but I would love just one truly pain-free night of sleep.  After that, I will work slowly towards the other goals.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Courtney Love Review

Courtney was amazing.  I cannot believe how much energy she put out there, despite a less-than-packed house.  Her outfit made perfect sense for her - a white wedding dress, outrageous red lipstick, and black undergarments clearly visible through her dress.  I shot a bunch of video, but I'm not going to post it here.  To me, the ubiquitous use of cameras at concerts is a bit disturbing, and when videos of entire songs end up on the internet, it seems that something has been stolen from the artist without permission.  I shot some video simply as something to remember the show by.

Here is one photo, but because I wasn't using a flash, things are kind of washed out.  Regretfully, it's not even possible to make out her red lipstick here.

But, if anyone is on the fence about seeing her, please go.  The show was short but she put everything she had into it.  Here is the set list:

Main Set:

Miss World (Hole song)
Skinny Little Bitch (Hole song)
Pacific Coast Highway (Hole song)
Violet (Hole song)
Malibu (Hole song)
Honey (Hole song)
Codeine (Buffy Sainte-Marie cover)
Asking for It (Hole song)
For Once in Your Life (Hole song)
Celebrity Skin (Hole song)


Awful  (Hole song)
Plump (Hole song)
Northern Star (Hole song)
Thirteen (Big Star cover)

I pretty much knew the songs she would play, although both of the covers were very nice surprises, especially Codeine.  So many of these songs are such raw punk songs that by the end of the show, Courtney's voice had taken a beating from screaming and growling her way through the songs.

Skinny Little Bitch was a surprise in the show.  It's a nice song on the last Hole album, but she just snarled her way through it.  The lyrics vary from R-rated to nearly X-rated (Baby, just go slower, Baby, just go lower) and she clearly had fun with this one.

Mono was a song I really wanted to see.  I think it's the best song on her solo album Nobody's Daughter, and it's got some scathing lyrics directed at God and (I think) at Kurt Cobain:

Oh god you owe me one more song
So I can prove to you that
I'm so much better than him
Oh god just gonna listen fast
Here comes the crash
We're gonna rise above
We're gotta smash it up
You won't abandon us again

The next verse is even more scathing in some ways, but it's clearly inappropriate to post here.  Plus she really just wails her way through this brilliant song.

Everything about the show was amazing.  One of the topics among fans on the floor was her current musical relevance.  The venue was not close to sold out and it was just the hard core fans that were there.  But, I pretty much defy anyone who likes this genre of music to see her and think she is irrelevant.

After the main set, she took off the wedding dress (it had been slowing coming undone anyway), and came back to stage wearing a white jacket (part of the wedding dress ensemble?) over some black lingerie and some very campy and ripped black stockings.  And at age 48, she could still pull it off.  She lit a cigarette very defiantly and started into the encore songs.  I was disappointed when Northern Star came up third, since this is her usual closer.  But, the Big Star cover was a bonus.

Worth every penny.  One of the best shows I've ever seen (and I've been to 100s of shows).  Certainly most intense ever.  Maybe Oingo Boingo could give her a run for intensity.  That's about it though.

I am so glad I made it to this show.  Yeah, if I'd missed it, I wouldn't know what I would have missed.  But knowing how amazing this was, I'm simply grateful for 75 or 80 minutes of live music by Courtney.

And for the record, the opening band, Starred, is also worth checking out.  In some ways, they were like Julee Cruise meets an early Jesus and Mary Chain wall of sound.  Very hypnotic in many ways.

Saturday, June 22, 2013


After my negative preview statements yesterday, I have one correction to make.

Courtney Love rocked my world last night. Amazing show.

That's all.

Friday, June 21, 2013

More of the same

It's a good thing that I like my job, I like CrossFit and I like fly fishing.  They are the only constants in my life right now.

Tonight, just for something different, I'm going to see Courtney Love in Boston.  I've been a fan of her band Hole for many years.  A good friend from college had tickets to see Hole when Kurt Cobain committed suicide.  We had just been on a ski trip to Lake Tahoe when all the drama near the end of Kurt's life was going on.  During our ski trip, it became a rule that every time we heard Nirvana on the radio, we would stop whatever we were doing and drink a beer.  Maybe not the most mature way to react to a life spinning out of control, but that's the way it was.

Not surprisingly, Hole cancelled that show and Courtney Love's life since then is probably best described as a long, drawn out train wreck.  Yet, throughout all of the drama and weirdness, I've remained a fan of Hole and Courtney's solo work.  And I've remained fascinated by her, despite the out of control life she seems to embrace.

She is doing a mini-tour right now - seven stops in the northeast.  In a recent interview, she talked about touring for months and playing 70 venues, but that doesn't seem to be happening.  The tour opened in Philadelphia last night, with 10 songs in the main set and a 4 song encore.  In her previous solo show in January, she'd played 18 total songs, but I guess that must have been too much work.

I have to admit that I still have issues with "artists" who charge premium prices and then play short shows.  When I spend decent money to see a concert, it seems reasonable to expect the performer to put in a fair effort.  So, while I'm looking forward to the music itself, I'm already somewhat disappointed by what will likely be a short concert.

Other than that, I've been struggling with CrossFit a bit recently.  I've been cramping up in workouts a lot recently.  Last night, after a series of sprints and lunges, we were doing another series of renegade rows and sit-ups.  In the second round, my abs cramped up doing sit-ups to the point where I had to quit.  I went outside and ran a mile while everyone else finished the workout, but it was disappointing.  This was the 4th time in 2 weeks that I've had some cramping issues while training and I need to get it figured out.

I got out fishing on Wednesday night.  I had skipped the gym so my wife and I could sign some paperwork with the bank - a house re-fi.  I went to one of my favorite local spots - a spot where I always catch fish, but the wading can be treacherous.  Basically, you park by the river and then cross, fishing from the opposite side.  The initial crossing is a bit hairy and the return trip is even worse due to the layout of the current and the deeper water where you don't want to end up.

I fell into the water on the initial crossing,which made me really nervous.  I did relax long enough to enjoy the fishing and I hooked three trout and one smallmouth bass, landing all but one of the trout.  I quit fishing a little earlier than normal, mostly to find a safe way back across the river.  My normal "safe exit" was not so safe, which really worried me for a while.  I didn't want to have to call for help.  I considered a railroad bridge way upstream, but it didn't seem like a good option.

Finally, I found a sturdy stick and used the route I'd used for my initial crossing.  The fact that I'm writing this report likely indicates that I made it safely. But perhaps it's time to consider purchasing a wading staff.  I've always sort of thought of them as an "old man" fishing tool.  But, if the tool fits...

Friday, June 14, 2013

Tough Week

On Monday, after a four day break, I got back to CrossFit.  I also felt a little under the weather, but after the days off, I really wanted to get into the gym.  And, in hindsight, I probably should have skipped the gym.

As of Saturday, I'd felt like I was catching a cold.  It seemed minor - just some stuffiness in my head - but a dose of an antihistamine did nothing for me.  So, I'd rested on Sunday and tried the workout on Monday.

It was a tough workout, and at times during the workout, I felt really dehydrated, which made no sense to me after a series of rest days.  We started with back squats and front squats:

Back squats: 5 x 75% of max, 4 x 80%, 3 x 85%
Front squats: 5 x 70%, 4 x 75%, 3 x 80%

To make things more complicated, I've been working hard on some mobility issues.  I've been using a book called "Becoming a Supple Leopard", which was written by a PhD physical therapist who coaches at CrossFit San Francisco.  This coach is so well respected that the top female athlete from my CF gym spent three days working with him last winter.  It obviously paid off for this woman when she shocked a lot of competitors by winning the Northeast Regional Championship and she will be at the CF games this summer, where I predict she will surprise a few more athletes.

I bought the book primarily due to some shoulder mobility issues that I think are related to the rotator cuff problems I've been fighting.  But, every single page of the book has had me shaking my head, thinking, "Yep, that's me."

A week earlier, the coaches at Raleigh CrossFit had asked me not to increase the weight any more while doing squats when we were going for a single rep max.  It was not because I wasn't strong enough.  It was an issue with my form and their concern that I would get hurt.  I was still 60 pounds below my PR and feeling strong that night, but I listened to the coaches and stopped at 315#.  Later that night, I re-read the sections in the Supple Leopard book about back squats.  I spent time last week working on body-weight squats, but using a different stance and some different cues for my movements.

And then this past Monday, I used that new stance and some new movement patterns and worked up to a set of 3 x 315#.  All three sets were harder than that weight should have been, and I had to go lower on the front squat weights than planned to compensate.

After the squats, we did a workout that include running and a task called wall balls.  Wall balls involve squatting with a medicine ball and essentially using the momentum as you stand up to push a ball to a 10' high target on the wall.  Our workout included 120 of these wall balls, also done in my "new" squat stance.

After the workout, I was really, really hurting - just drained.  I went home and just laid on the couch for the rest of the night.  Then, I didn't sleep well at all - stuffed up head and discomfort in every muscle of my body.

I took off work on Tuesday and essentially slept all day.  By Wednesday, I felt better, but my entire body still ached.  The worst part was my legs - top of the hamstrings.  I'm sure I simply overdid the weights and reps with the new squat stance.  It's going to take a while to really get my body adapted to that new stance.

I struggled through a CF workout on Tuesday and certain movement were almost impossible - kettlebell swings, for one.  Even last night, my legs still hurt and burpees were more uncomfortable than normal.

So, today is a rest day.  If the thunderstorms stay away, I'll go out fly fishing with my son tonight.

And the weekend is booked really full.  Somehow, I'm supposed to cook a Father's Day dinner for my father-in-law (which I'm quite happy to do), even though I thought my kids should cook for me, and my wife should cook for her dad.  If I'm lucky, I'll get out for some exercise this weekend - maybe some running or sprints if my hamstrings are up for it.  If I'm really lucky, I'll exercise and get to fly fish as well, although my primary fishing partner, my son, works tomorrow and Sunday.

I want to get in as many workouts as I can in the next ten days.  After I have the PRP treatment on my rotator cuff on the 24th, I will have my activities limited for a while, so I'd rather train as hard as I can, without breaking myself, until then.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Moving at the speed of life

So, almost two weeks ago, I wrote a post about a fishing rod and fishing reel.  That post really got most of my limited readership all excited.  I could tell from the voluminous comments (zero).  Since that day, it seems like my life has been crazy and even workouts have been tough to pull off.

I did manage to get two workouts at the end of the week two weeks ago.  This put me at 65 CrossFit workouts from the first of the year through the end of May.  Last year, I only did 50 CF workouts in the same time frame.  I've also been running about 10-12 more workouts (all kinds of training) ahead of last year, which feels pretty good.  I got off to a slow start last year and worked hard the second half of the year.  This year, I've gotten off to a much better start, although the last 30 days or so have been pretty mediocre.

Two Saturdays ago, I was able to have a little bit of fun - farmers market, brunch with my wife, mowing the lawn (OK, not so much fun with the mowing stuff) and a little bit of fly fishing.  To be honest, on a hot, muggy night right after a rain storm, the fishing was terrible and I almost wished I hadn't gone.

The next day, I flew to Raleigh-Durham on business.  My second flight was delayed four times and I didn't get to my hotel until well after midnight.  The next day, I went to the training class I was scheduled to attend, only to find out that it started the next day instead.  So, I spent the morning modifying my travel plans, and I then worked for a few hours before going to train at Raleigh CrossFit.  The primary strength work was max weight squats, but I focused on form rather than weight and only got to 315#.

The next day, I attended a very intense hands-on programming class.  After that was done, it was back to CrossFit.  That night, I got a new PR with a 435 pound deadlift that went easier than I'd expected.

After a second intense day in the class, I went to CrossFit again and got my bench press up to 175 pounds - the best since my 195 pound PR last October and my rotator cuff injury late last year.

And after that was over, I treated myself to a nice dinner at a high end steak house in Raleigh.

The next day was my wife's birthday and luckily, I got home on time.  I was able to put a nice dinner together for her birthday, although I was simply exhausted from the way the week had gone.

I worked again on Friday and worked again most of Saturday.  It was too rainy to go fishing and I was too tired to go out anyway.  I felt really run down all weekend, like I was getting a cold.  So, I decided to do nothing all day Sunday.  I cooked a bit and mowed the lawn and took a nap.  It was my fourth consecutive day with no workout.

And now it's Monday.  I'm swamped at work.  I'm still tired.  I want to go to the gym tonight.  Actually, I will go to the gym tonight.  But, I really need this whole world to slow down a bit.  Or, I'd at least like to sit out a day or two.

I need to take some vacation time, but work is getting more and more busy all the time, and with a limited staff, vacation time can be difficult.  But, I'm going to find a way to take some time off in the next few weeks.  Somehow.