Monday, April 25, 2016

Seven straight training days - and still going

I mentioned last week that I'd done CrossFit on Monday and Tuesday, leaving me really sore.  My wife was sore as well, so we walked Wednesday evening.  That was my second walk for the day.

On Thursday, I returned to CrossFit, although my wife walked again that day.  Her back was a little bit sore from some Oly lifting earlier in the week.  I got to choose my own movements on Thursday, and I did rowing, box step ups, farmers carries and bench presses.

Friday night, we had limited time (dinner with my wife's parents), but we walked for 70 minutes before dinner, in between rainstorms.

My plans for the weekend were a bit ambitious - bike ride, fishing, walking the dog and skiing.  But, I pulled it off.  Saturday morning, we went to Montpelier and I got my mountain bike back from the shop, where it had been getting a tune-up.  I got home and rode for about an hour - nothing too tough.

Later that day, I got out for a couple hours of fishing.  I had a few strikes, but I didn't manage to hook anything.

Sunday morning, we went for a 75 minute walk with our younger dog.  And, about noon, we headed to Sugarbush.  It has been my goal since before my surgery to ski at least one more time this season.  Luckily, despite the crappy snow year, the mountain was still open when I decided (with my doctor's approval) that I could give it a shot.  I told my wife that I wanted to do maybe half a dozen runs - just enough to call it a skiing day, without overdoing it.

We warmed up on Spring Fling, a blue trail.  I felt pretty good there.  Then, we went to Downspout, another blue trail that was in good shape.  From there, we headed to the summit and skied a black diamond run - Organ Grinder - twice.  The top was a bit challenging, but it wasn't too bad.  After the second run down Grinder, we headed for the base and caught a different lift up to Stein's.  Luckily for her, my wife opted for an easier trail down.  It was a good choice because the top of Stein's was big bumps - not very soft - separated by nasty chopped up ice.  We had three of us there - one PSIA level 3 instructor and 2 Level 2 instructors.  I think we have close to 60 years of experience between us, and we needed to rest and regroup a couple times on the way down.  It was challenging, but not really dangerous in any way.

After one more run on Spring Fling, my wife and I called it a day and headed to the boot room to change.  My two friends, meanwhile, decided that the bottom of Stein's was so much fun that they would brave the top again for one final run.

After they were done with that run, we all met for a few beers.  The mountain might still be open next weekend, but I probably won't ski.  I have some plans with friends and I'll probably fish, but my ski season is probably over.  I'm very glad I got that final day in for this year though.

Tonight, it's back to CrossFit.  My goal this week is 4 classes, after 3 last week.  Hopefully, I can do the classes without getting so sore this week.  We start tonight with more front squats and lunges, and those two lifts put the hurt on me last week.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Back to CrossFit and Paying the Price

I'm so sore I can barely walk.  No, let's be honest, I can barely move.  But, believe it or not, it's a good thing.  Over the weekend, I was moving a lot.  My daughter and I walked around the Syracuse campus a fair amount on Friday.  She accepted her admission that day, which puts that whole selection process behind us.  I think everyone is glad that it's over.  Anyway, we also spent 5 hours in the car on both Thursday and Friday, which is never a good thing.

On Saturday, I walked 4 miles with my wife and one of our dogs.  The other dog has gotten so old and her hips so weak that she is fine not going on walks these days.  But, the younger dog needs to drop a few pounds, so he gets to go along every time.

Sunday, I fished most of the day, and my FitBit recorded over 10,000 steps, but it wasn't really exercise of any sort.  On Monday though, I returned to doing CrossFit workouts.

I'm scaling the workouts.  A lot.  Even though I went into this latest surgery in better shape than my surgery last September, I've still lost a lot.  After the surgery in September, I resumed CrossFit 7 weeks after surgery.  This time, I started CF only 5.5 weeks after surgery.  It's not a huge difference, and I know I'm in better shape than when I re-started in November, but my strength is poor right now.  I'm also still slightly anemic.  I talked to my doctor about the hemoglobin levels last week, and she wasn't concerned at all.  But, despite very good blood work overall, I'm still not quite right.  And, the pain in my abdomen reminds me that I'm not fully healed.  The "typical" minimum recovery from major abdominal surgery is 6 weeks, so I'm certainly pushing the envelope a bit.

Monday, the workout started with front squats.  Just before I started feeling sick a year ago, I'd set a new front squat PR at 305#.  We had done a focused training cycle on front squats at the gym, and this was a big PR for me.  On Monday, I did 8 sets of 3 reps at 63#.  Yep, that's it.  And, it was plenty.  Then, some lunges with an empty 33# barbell on my back.  After that, I did 30-20-10 of air squats, with a 400 meter run after each set of squats.  It took me just over 10 minutes and I was surprised that running (really a slow jog for now) felt OK.  Not great, but better than expected.

Last night, we started with Olympic lifting.  Again, I kept things light.  I did 10x2 power snatches at 53#.  Then, 10x2 clean and jerks (power clean, push jerk) at 73#.  Both of those numbers are about 40% of my one rep max, but those one rep max values were set in December of 2014, before liposarcoma became part of my life.  After the Oly lifts, I did as many reps as possible in 10 minutes of 10 ball slams and 10 ring rows.  I did 6 rounds plus 11 reps.

Which brings us to today.  As I said, I can barely move.  My wife is sore as well.  I think we will skip CF tonight and just go for a walk.  Tomorrow night, we can choose our own movements at CF, so we will be able to pick things that don't hurt too much.

So, I've been out traveling with my daughter.  Out fishing with a friend.  Going for walks with my wife and dog.  Things are returning to normal in many ways.  I even hope to ski this coming weekend - one last day on the slopes for the season.  But, in the back of my mind, I feel some level of desperation.  I'm going on vacation in mid-June.  The whole family is going to Lake Tahoe for a week right after my daughter's high school graduation.  But, the day after we get back, I'll be going to NYC for my first post-op CT scan.  The odds are good that the scan will be clean, but there are no guarantees.

So, the desperation I feel is the need to get myself back into shape quickly.  If I need more treatment, I want to be strong going in.  If I don't need more treatment, I want to be in good shape to enjoy the summer anyway.  I feel like I've just lost so much fitness in the past year, and even over the last 2.5 years, if I include my prostate cancer surgery.  But, I can only regain strength and fitness at a fixed rate.  I'm old enough that I know I'll get hurt if I push too hard.  I hope I'm experienced enough to not do that.  So, I need to find that fine line, to regain fitness as fast as possible, while not getting hurt.

And, I'd like to go a day now and then without worrying about cancer and the risk for recurrences in the future.  But, I'm guessing that's just not going to happen.  Maybe ever.  But, that doesn't mean it will rule my life.  As long as I'm clear of cancer, I'm going to dictate how I live my life, not the doctors.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Mixing it up a bit

Last Wednesday, I hopped on the Concept 2 rower and rowed a slow 5K - 25:20.  I followed that up with a mile on the treadmill.  The next day, I was a bit sore, so I walked 3.5 miles on the treadmill.

After that, the opening of trout season took over.  My wife and I saw a fly fishing film Friday night, so there was no workout.  I fished a decent amount of time over the weekend, and despite being on my feet all day, it wasn't really a workout.  And, just like in prior years, I caught zero fish in the Otter Creek Classic.  Someday, maybe...

Yesterday, I was looking at the CrossFit workout, and I found myself tempted.  Not by the strength training, which was front squats and barbell lunges.  But, the metabolic workout was 30 box jump-overs, 50 Russian Kettlebell swings, 100 air squats (just bodyweight - no additional weight), 50 more swings and 30 more box jumps.

I thought about it, but hopped on the rower instead.  While I was on the rower, one of our coaches, a regular competitor at the CF Games, asked me how I was doing with my recovery.  I mentioned that I'd thought about doing the workout.  She encouraged me to give it a shot, but to scale it properly.

So, I finished my 5K row in 23:36, much better than last week, and then set up for the workout.  I decided I would do 30 box step-up-and-overs, 30 kettlebell high pulls, 50 air squats, more high pulls and more box step-ups.  And, that was plenty for me.  It took me 7:31, about the amount of time it took the better athletes to do the prescribed workout.  It wasn't too bad, but I'm sore today.

The workout tonight is Olympic lifting followed by Fran - a combo of thrusters and pull-ups.  I think I'll walk for the first part of the workout, and then do a modified version of Fran - light thrusters and ring rows instead of pull-ups.

I see my medical oncologist tomorrow, mostly so she can see how I'm doing post-surgery.  I have to set up periodic appointments to get my chemo port flushed.  I may request a bit more pain medicine for the next week or so.  I'm using less all the time, although car rides are uncomfortable, anytime I sneeze it hurts a lot, and I'd like to taper a bit with less strong medications than I'm using now.  Anytime I'm not moving at all, such as at work or overnight, I'm fairly comfortable at present.  But, I still have more pain at times than Tylenol alone will handle.

But, things are better every day.  This weekend, I'm taking my daughter on her final 2 college visits before her looming decision day.  I think the decision is pretty much done, and she will end up at Syracuse.  We are going to Syracuse on Friday and then URI on Saturday.  Saturday is also her 18th birthday, so I want to stop somewhere nice, maybe in Boston, on the way home from URI to take her out to a nice dinner.

The next day, she is planning to celebrate her "adulthood" with a tattoo.  I'm not going to participate in that event (she knows I'd prefer she not do it, but at age 18, I'm not going to stand in her way), so I might sneak out fishing for the day.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Walking, walking, walking

Other than work and sleep, all I seem to be doing these days is going for walks.  I'm just shy of four weeks since my surgery.  My incision is still not completely healed, and I'm still wearing some sort of "gut girdle" over my shirts to support the incision and perhaps some internal organs as well.

Later this week, I should be able to do some rowing on the Concept 2, but so far, all I've done for exercise is walk.

When my wife goes to CF, I either walk on the treadmill if it's cold, or I walk outside if it's nicer.  Last night was the treadmill.

On the weekends, I'm going for walks every day.  Sunday, I walked for 90+ minutes in a mini-blizzard and I swear I walked into the wind the entire time.  Even my dog was smart enough to skip Sunday's walk.  He was all excited to go until he saw the snow and felt the cold air.  Then, he retreated to his crate and I walked by myself.

He had walked with me the day before though, so he's getting in some walking.

Last week, I walked 4 evenings while my wife did CF.  I walked at lunch for a while on the day she skipped CF.  So, it's pretty much every day.  And, I'm itching for more.

I do plan to row, at a very low intensity level, later this week.  For the next two weeks, I'll probably mix rowing and walking.  After that, I'll start some bodyweight exercises - air squats, push-ups, pull-ups, etc.  Maybe some light dumbbells.  And, 2 weeks after that, I should be using barbells again, maybe a bit sooner if I start to feel better soon.

I'm still taking some pain medication, to be honest.  I had a major incision and major abdominal surgery.  It typically takes at least six weeks for a complete recovery from surgery like that.  I will see my local medical oncologist next week and see what she thinks about my progress and activities.  I'm hoping I won't feel the need to ask her for any more pain medication.  I'm trying to taper off of those meds, but the pain is still there and my body isn't ready for me to quit the meds just yet.

So, hopefully, I'll be doing CrossFit classes again by early May.  I leave for a vacation on 6/18, so maybe I'll have six weeks to get myself fit again before that trip.  As soon as I return home from that vacation, it's time for another CT scan to see if the cancer has returned.  If I'm in the clear, I'll have 4 more months to focus on training (and fishing).

If the cancer does return that quickly, I have no idea what the treatment will be.  To be honest, I'm just trying to not worry about that right now.  But, for the past year, I've had very little good news related to this liposarcoma and I don't want to be unrealistic with my expectations.

But, it would certainly be nice to have a clear scan and be allowed to just continue on with my life.