Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas. At least I find it to be a merry Christmas. My plan today is to write this blog, have some coffee, and then pick up my buddy, Eric, and head to the River Trails for a run. After that, who knows; perhaps lunch with parents or friends, dinner with parents or friends (although, in all honesty, I'd rather make both meals at home and just visit/hang out with parents and friends). That sounds odd, but I am tired of overeating and chewing things I generally eschew. I like my own fare.

So, since my last posting, my recovery has gone swimmingly. I've been able to do quite a bit of running on the track and on trails. For the time-being I am deleting road running from my repertoire. It is too hard on the knees. What is nice, is that I'm able to knock out daily 5-8 mi runs on the trails (on the track I get too bored after three to continue). Yesterday, for instance, I blew of the Hawks' early start (7:30 a.m.) for a more modest 9 a.m. run. I was pulling into the lot at Clinton North Shore as Gary "Story Hawk" Henry was pulling out. I endured a brief bout of ribbing for not going early, but promised to run with the Hawks again soon. I then took off at my normal pace, with a beet and berry juice mixture in my bottle and buds in my ears, for a wonderfully exhilarating, peaceful run.

Later in the day, for the second day in a row, I hit the pool to knock out some laps. I am really starting to like swimming. Well let's actually be a bit more honest about that. I seem to get bursts of endorphin-releases when I swim. The physical exertion is so much more dramatic (at least for me, a non-swimmer), that the rewards kick in sooner. Right now my 20-40 minute workouts follow a routine that begins with a few laps using the super short Zoomer Gold fins, followed by pulling a few laps using a leg buoy and hand cups, followed by straight American Crawl, followed by kicking across with a board, then repeat the process. The workout isolates the different movements, then puts them together. It also works my knee, and then give it a rest. It is actually a lot of work and a lot of fun.

My coach wants me to do a triathlon, but I'm not sure that will be a course I want to follow. As with running, I like doing sports simply to do them. I understand it for others, but I don't feel the need to compete. I don't need a goal off in the distance (although I do sometimes put one out there). I suppose that my next organized event will be Colleen's. Depending on the weather, I'd like to get in at least 12 mi (and I know I've said that before). For her Summer run, I'd like to hit 10 laps, and have my ultra-distance for the year - no timing chip, no number, no medal - just the personal satisfaction of knowing that I did it.

Again, I know that a lot of people who read this - particularly those who email me rather than post a comment - like to run a lot of organized races. I really don't want anyone to think I'm disparaging that, because I'm not. For me, racing puts too much pressure on running that I would do for fun anyway. That is why I don't like to do them.

Finally, just to show that I do have a bit of Christmas spirit.... Last night, a couple of friends and I spent a couple of hours driving to a couple of those over the top light and music show houses, and sitting in line with a bunch of other cars in order to watch the show. It actually was a lot of fun. On house near Dad Perry Park, in particular, had an awesome show. I'm glad there are people who will blow thousands of dollars to set something like that up - seriously I am. It turns the holiday a bit Fellini-esque. And we could all use a bit more absurdity in our lives.

Next week - resolutions and lists.


Sunday, December 18, 2011

Another Week In A Not-So-Dreary Winter

In my never-ending quest to return to knee normalcy, I was able to do a whole lot of not-too-impactful workouts this week. I spent 10-25 min each on the Gazelle, the Nordic Track, and the bike trainer. That, with additional leg-lifts, weight training, and sit-ups allowed for the deterioration in my legs to dissipate and begin to actually reverse course. The workouts culminated with a 2.5 mi run on the FSHS rubberized track yesterday. I had planned to kind of run/walk a couple of miles at a 10-11 min/mi pace. After the first mile, though, I realized that I was rebounding pretty quickly. There was little if any pain, and I was shuffling through a 9 min/mi pace. And it is a different style of running. I was trying to run lightly. It involved less of my usual, let's-crush-this-distance pounding, and more of the Joan Benoit marathon speed shuffle (you can see her on old videos). It really seemed to fit my running style. I ended the run because I felt that I should, not because I felt that I had to do so.

Today, if all goes according to plan, I'm going to knock out a 3 miler on the Riverfront Trails with Rebecca (my running buddy Eric's spouse, who's also a runner and a monster swimmer) and another friend, Kit. Rebecca promised to go slowly. I hope to have a careful, tentative run. The trails should test the side to side motion a bit. I still plan to have the knee ready for 9-12 miles of Colleen's run on the 13th. I'm hoping to be in LA and Malibu the first weekend in January. While I won't be undertaking the brutal Griffith Park Observatory Run (my favorite run I've ever done so far), I do hope to do some beach runs in Malibu, and more of the trails (and less of the hairpin turn road runs) in Griffith.

I have said it in at least one past post, but I feel I should say it again. I would highly recommend the movie, Welcome. It follows the story of a 17 year old Kurdish boy who arrives in Calais, France after covering a couple of thousand miles alone on foot. He has suffered many hardships to get as far as he has. His goal is to get across the Channel so that he can be with his girlfriend. The film watches his struggles with day-to-day living and planning. The film, of course, is really just showing a microcosm of the the larger issue of displaced people and their treatment by governments and private citizens around the world. But the allegorical nature of the movie, doesn't detract from the intimate portrait of the main characters as they build trust and find a common humanity. Again, highly recommended.

Next week I hope to list some of my favorite films, books, songs, and miscellaneous events that I encountered in the previous year.

Quick update - nice 4.57mi run on the trails this a.m. It felt so good that I kept going. Still feels fin 7 hrs later.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Again to Carthage

So after knocking out 'the greatest novel about running ever written,' Once a Runner, last week while flat on my back following knee surgery, I loaded my Kindle with Mr. Parker's follow-up tome, Again to Carthage. I'm only 4 chapters in. But the story, so far, just doesn't quite live up to the magic contained in the first novel. Again to Carthage just feels darker and heavier than I was expecting. I'll have a full book report, I hope next week. I'm going through a couple of others as well, including the Erskine Caldwell classic, Tobacco Road. It is odd, but I never read two or more books at once unless one of them is on the Kindle. I try to support my local library more and more, but Again to Carthage wasn't in the catalog, so I pulled it in from the ether.

My knee continues to improve. I've done more Nordic and Gazelle workouts, mixed with biking and various leg lifts and saunas. It feels a little tired by the end of the day, but has no swelling or, what I would describe as, real pain.

For the coming week I plan to hit Unbreakable in KC on Wednesday evening. By Friday I hope to be out on the track doing some tentative first laps on the soft rubberized surface. I hope to be fully recovered and cranking out the miles by Colleen's Frozen Ass Run on Jan 13.

See you at the movies.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Late Week Update - won't have you in stitches

So, next Wednesday night, the ultra-marathon movie, Unbreakable, is going to be shown in KC. I'm planning to pop in to see it. It took some effort by members of the Trail Hawks to bring the film to the area. The trailer for the flick looks awesome. If anyone wants more info on this one-night booking (in a real theater), let me know and I'll shoot you a link.

I did my first workout in 9 days last night. My knee is hugely recovered - which seems almost miraculously early. I had the stitches removed yesterday, and questioned the doctor and nurse about what I could do. The answer was take it slowly, but biking, and no impact machines (Nordic Trac and Gazelle, in my case) are fine. So I knocked out 10 minutes on the Gazelle and NT followed by a bunch of crunches and knees strengthening exercises off of a sheet that had been provided. The result was no pain at all. I'm doing the same this morning.

On Monday I'll get to move to the rubberized track next to my house. The plan will be to lightly jog/walk 1-2 miles a day for the following week and then move up to 5k by the following week. The doctor said that popping back up to my more normal 10-15k distances shouldn't take more than a few weeks.

I will say that taking a bit more than a week off leads to insanely fast muscle deterioration in the quads. It also leads to 3-5lbs of weight gain. Shocking how many calories one burns through running.

More later...

Sunday, December 4, 2011

No Kneed to Worry

Hola Todos. I apologize in arrears for the particularly smarmy title to this post. Today is day 5 since having surgery. The most discomfort I can report is a backache from sleeping too much on my back with my knee up on a support pillow. Last night I finally started to roll over on my side with a pillow between my knees and the ice machine's water cable still attached. It was not the most comfortable slumber I've ever experienced, but it was a definite improvement.

It seems crazy to write this, but in 4-5 days I'll start hitting the pool again in order to get my swim on. Then in about 16 days I'll begin to get my run on again. My plan for that is to hit the Free State track and run 1-2 miles every other day for the first week - icing after each run. Once I make sure that there is no ongoing problem, it is on to bigger and better runs. I'm hoping to get through this without much loss in strength and distance at all. But I won't push the issue as I rebuild. I do plan to get hyaluronic acid shots in both knees in January, which should allow for even more pain-free running.

As I've lain around the house this past week, I have fought off the staggering potential for onset of ennui. I actually don't know just how I did that. I really haven't done much other than work and read while lounging on the couch. I had been concerned that a dearth of endorphins would cause my mood to plummet. However, perhaps the pain from the surgery itself provided for the release of the endorphins. I really took no pain killers (ibuprofen). So I may simply be the beneficiary of unintended (good) consequences.

In the 'baby steps' category, I got behind the wheel yesterday and drove. No issue. I also have walked a bit without the assistance of crutches. And, other than experiencing some pretty messed up dreams - including one where I was forced to hit a man of small stature who's name was Mr. Pouty-Sissy (he must've been British), and another where friends came over to my house and destroyed the floors and kitchen (but in the construction/destruction's aftermath, I did find a second 'butler's staircase') - I have had no untoward after effects from the surgery.

As a footnote to this paragraph, I have been checking dreams out on interpretation sites. Hitting the small man can be interpreted to mean that I feel powerless (small man), and am trying to take some pro-active steps to regain control of some aspect of my life - surgery leads to loss of running... The house dream has much more to do with order being interrupted. Also attributable to surgery. Anyway, the dreams differ from my usual fare of unicorns, rainbows, ponies, and clouds, so I thought I'd report them.

Until next Sunday (or until something interesting occurs)... Have a great week. And don't get lost on the trails (you know who you are).