Tuesday, December 4, 2012

On the mend

So, I told that podiatrist to go pound sand.

I did get used to wearing the splint, but that didn't help.  I went out and got a new pair of shoes--new brand and everything.  That seemed to help, some.  I even went out for a run--barefoot.  That didn't hurt a lot, just a little.

Then after about 2 weeks and 4 runs of about 2.5 miles each, I went to a new podiatrist and filled him in on the whole story going all the way back to July.  The new diagnosis:  plantar fasciosis.  It's the chronic version of the fascitis and basically is what happens when that goes untreated for too long.

Treatment:  platelet rich plasma therapy.  In 2 weeks.

So, I have 2 weeks to play.  I go get a pair of Vibrams and started using them around the house and office.  I could actually feel the difference in the way they made my feet work when I was wearing them.  Parts of my legs were sore in ways they hadn't been sore in ages.  I took that as a good sign.

I even started running again.  Because I figured if it hurt when I didn't run, and it hurt when I did run, then I might as well run.

Interestingly enough, the pain wasn't that bad.  At first.  After a couple of days, though...  YOWZA!  Yea, I definitely still needed the treatment.

So, 2 weeks later (just last Friday), I went in for the treatment.  And what can I say?  It hurt like a mother.  I couldn't put any pressure on my foot for a full day and the thing throbbed relentlessly for another day.  But I'm several days on the other side of it and I dare say that I'm mostly pain free.  Not entirely, mind you.  But this morning I woke up with zero pain.  The proof in this particular pudding will be when I string together several days with no pain.  I'm not allowed to run before Friday, and I may take the weekend off just to be safe, but if I can get through a run that's pain free, that'll be fantastic!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Ok, here's the story

A lot has happened since June.

A lot.

Not the least of which I bought a house and moved.  That put a kink in everything.  I also lost my means of measuring progress, which means I lost interest in making progress.  Which means I not only quit making progress, but I actually gave up hard fought ground.

But now almost all of the dust has settled.  We've settled into the house.  Much of the "happenings" have stopped happening.  I've gotten a new scale.  I've even seen a podiatrist about this nagging foot injury...
About that injury.

Last July I twisted my ankle.  That led to a change in my gait which caused a retro calcaneal spur and inflammation of my Achilles tendon.  Consequently I scaled back my marathon training and "only" ran a half marathon.  I hung up the shoes until March when I took a short run, which turned out to be a big mistake.  It revealed that my Achilles still was a bit tender, but I had also developed an ache on the bottom of my foot.  I decided to rest through the summer and let it get right.  The Achilles feels fine, but that pain in the bottom of my foot nagged and nagged and nagged.  It was a kind of slow, dull, aching pain, like a bruise.  I accommodated the pain and ignored it, but it didn't go away.  Finally I decided to do something about it.  I looked into various foot ailments, and sure enough, even though I've heard plantar fascaitis described as sharp, hot, needle-like pain in the bottom of the foot, this, too, fit the bill.  I take it to the primary doc who suggests the typical physical stuff that we all know to do--stretch, ice, rest, massage--and it wasn't getting better.  In fact, on some days it was worse.  A month goes by and I take it back, and she sends me to a podiatrist.

The same podiatrist that wanted to put me in orthotics when the Achilles thing was acting up.  The same podiatrist that I had told that I didn't want orthotics then and I still don't want orthotics now.  But it was a different ailment, I figured it'd be a different treatment.


Dude asks me to describe the pain on a scale of 1 to 10.  I tell him that it's not unbearable, but there are mornings when I can't put any weight on the foot for a couple of steps.  Then it stretches out and relaxes and I can go about my business until after about 5 or so steps and it pretty much goes away.

"Well, we don't give shots until the pain is a 7 or more."

What??!!!???  You base you decision to give shots to take away the pain on a subjective description of pain?  

"Take this night splint, and come back if it doesn't go away, and we'll fit you with some orthotics."

"Doc, I don't want orthotics.  I want my feet to WORK PROPERLY!  I don't need orthotics for the right foot, it's fine.  I want the left foot to be fine, too.  Just make the pain go away so I can walk normally again.  Is that too much to ask?"

Apparently it is too much to ask.  But I shouldn't be surprised.  You go to a hammer store, they try to sell you hammers.

So, I'm going to promptly, and naturally, ignore him.  I tried using the splint and it was SUCH a pain in the ass.  I could barely sleep and it came off after about an hour.  We'll see if it gets much more use.

Meanwhile, I'm going to work on the old mechanics, strengthening and stretching the muscles and tendons of the lower leg and foot to try and get this thing working right.  Worst case scenario the pain doesn't go away and I tell the doc "it's a 8" on the magical subjective pain scale.  Best case scenario is that my feet and legs get back to working like feet and legs have evolved to work and I can call the doc and tell him to stuff his magic shoes up his ass.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Another wasted weekend

The plan was for a good long ride, but things didn't go as planned.

Sleeping in turned out to be a better application of my time.

Despite not getting in the long rides, and taking a nice dinner-and-a-movie date with The Lovely Wife, I still hit my interim weight loss goals.  Not taking in the long ride, though, is going to present a challenge for the longer term goal of dropping a full 15 lbs for the month.

Nonetheless, I'm going to go back out there and hit it again this evening.


Thursday, June 7, 2012

Another set in the books

Good ride yesterday.

Really good ride.

I took in 18 miles, to bring the total for the week to 35 (and a new top speed on flats of 25 mph!).  That brings the weekly mileage completion ration to 35%, the hours in the saddle ratio to 33%, and the week is 42% complete.  I'll likely not ride tonight (unless I get lucky and can squeeze out an hour), but I'll hopefully get in a ride tomorrow of a solid 15 to 20 miles.  That'll leave me with a good, long ride to do over the weekend of 40 miles or so.

Oh, and as a bonus, I've already dropped 30% of my goal weight for the month.  Sure, most of it's water weight, and that's fine.  The first 5 comes off quick.  The next 10 will be slightly more challenging.  And the 30 that follows that will be even more challenging.  But no sweat.  I can swing it.

The better news is that the heel is almost pain free, even with the added activity and exertion.  Cycling puts almost no strain on my Achilles tendon and there's hardly any impact to inflame the connection at the heel.  If this keeps up I should be in shape to tentatively start running again in the fall.  Plus, if the weight loss continues apace, I should be a leaner and trimmer runner--more so than I've been since picking it back up.

The real question won't be whether or not I can run, but whether or not I want to get off the bike and into the road flats.  The thought of it is just...  ugh.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Follow up

I got the ride in yesterday.  I made my way over to the picnic loop (and enjoyed every bit of the irony of sitting in traffic with a bike on the back of my car) and logged 17 miles.  As of today, with 28% of the week completed (Monday counts as the start and each day is roughly 14%), I've logged 17% of my mileage target and 17% of my time-in-saddle target.  Tonight I'll log another 15 miles at least in probably another hour in the saddle, which will will give me 32% mileage and time at the completion of 43% of the week.  If things continue on pace, it looks like I'll have hit 35% of my weight loss goal for the month by Sunday, too (no weekly targets on that).

Data driven results, baby.

I certainly like riding more than I like running.  Sure, there's a simplicity in running--just grab some shoes and something to keep your junk from bouncing too hard and you're out the door.  And biking is far more complex with the machinery and the gear and the maintenance and blah blah blah.  Running is cheaper (shoes [$100] and not much else) and biking is way, way, way more expensive (bike [>$300], shoes [>$75], pedals [>$50], helmet [>$50], bike maintenance [>$200/yr], glasses [>$75], padded shorts [$>$40]).  And there's that whole primal biology thing about running when the endorphins blow up and the eyes dilate and you salivate and the thought of catching that beast you've been chasing for the last hour or so....  or maybe that's just me.

But when the wind is whistling in your ear and you're flying at speeds that man was not designed to achieve and the only thing protecting you from the elements--the hard, unforgiving, abrasive element of concrete--is a thin film of lycra, there's just something beautifully dangerous about that.  It's a different kind of primal.

And to think just 2 months ago I was considering selling my mount.

Silly me.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

The schedule is a challenge in and of itself

So, when you have a loving wife, and two beautiful children, all of whom you actually like, it's exceptionally difficult to get an hour of daylight to yourself to go out for a bike or run.

Well, it's hard for me, at least.

This weekend's ride didn't materialize.  
First, there was the construction meeting.  Then there was lunch with the extended nuclear family.  Then there was the obligatory socializing and nap time (I should have taken my bike to the meeting, then I could have gotten the ride after lunch).  Then it was back home to ready the house for the birthday party.
Then it was up early for lawn work before it got too hot.  Then it was watching the boys while the Lovely Wife went to the store for supplies.  Then it was more house cleaning before the big shindig.  Then there was the shindig.  Then there was cleanup and more obligatory socializing with some really great friends.

I know.  I have a pocket full of excuses.

But I didn't gain a single pound over the weekend.  I held steady, which is good enough.

Now, yesterday (Monday) was another set of issues entirely.  I didn't sleep on Sunday, so I was garbage all day yesterday.  I ached, and had a headache, and couldn't focus my sight (almost like a migraine, but I don't get those), and I was even a little nauseous a couple of times.  All in all, it was not a good day.  Compounded by the fact that I had to get my dry cleaning after 6, so no ride in the morning, no ride at lunch, and the possible time for a ride in the evening was consumed by a combo trip to the dry cleaner and grocery store.  Arriving home at 6:15, then baths for the boys, dinner, and next thing I know I don't have an hour of daylight left to get a ride in.  FML

But today I've planned it out differently.  I have my gear bag and bike at the car so I can snatch a quick hour ride during lunch (maybe 15 miles).  Failing that I'll knock off at about 4:30 and grab an hour then, getting home between 6 and 6:30 so I can grab the oldest and get to baseball practice.  It'll be tight (4:30 - 4:45, change and prep the bike; 4:45-5:45, ride like the wind!, 5:45 - 6:00 towel off and cool down, 6:00-6:20 drive home as fast as I effin' can, because 6:30 is baseball practice.  Ugh!)  Needless to say, if the ride doesn't happen at lunch, there's a VERY good chance that the ride doesn't happen at all.  

Maybe I drop off the boy and hit the road while he's at practice.  That doesn't seem quite right, though.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Converging forces

Ok, so there's several things going on:

1.  I can't run right now.  Well, I can, but I shouldn't because I need to let my foot heal properly.  And that means not stressing the Achilles tendon and, quite literally, staying off it as long as possible.
2.  I can't just sit around.  If I do, I turn in to a big fat fatty.  And that's not good.  So, I need to maintain some kind of fitness without straining the foot.
3.  We're building a house, so we're imposing some serious fiscal discipline.  The fiscal discipline leads into ...
4.  Dietary Discipline!  If I sit around and eat like I'm still being active, I turn into a big fat fatty.  If I eat responsibly I can maintain a decent weight.  If I get active AND eat responsibly, I can maintain fitness AND lose weight AND save money!!  It's a win, win, win situation.

And I like to win win win.

Needless to say, right now I'm hungry.  I'm damn hungry.

Fiscal discipline is actually pretty easy.  I do math, I do spreadsheets, I do budgets.  That stuff is easy for me and when I set the challenge up of $XX per day, I can meet that challenge.  Almost without fail and almost without effort.  That's how I roll.

However, the dietary discipline isn't quite so easy.  It's hard to do a spreadsheet for food.  It's hard to do math for food.  It's hard to do the things I'm good at when it comes to food.  I know, I know... count calories and fat grams and blah blah blah...  But that's not what I do.  I'm really REALLY not good at that.  I'm much better at food categories and types of food and foods that make fuel to make my body work better.  It's turns into a very organic process for me where I push my body to do something, then my body wants something in return.  Like I'll hammer out some hills, and then CRAVE bean burritos.  Or chicken salad.  Or spaghetti.  Or (yes, I know this is weird) lentil soup with peanut butter toast.  When I was deep in training awhile back I almost never ate a hamburger because I just didn't want burgers.  Or pizza.  Or a lot of other garbage.  

My body spoke and I listened.  It was as easy as that.

But I don't know how to direct that process, I just know how to listen and let it happen, or at least prompt it with rigorous physical activity.

So, with that said, here is a set of specific, tangible, trackable goals:

1.  100 miles per week on the bike.  That's a little more than 14 per day over 7 days.  Or 40 miles on the weekend and 15 miles for 4 of the other days.  Very doable, very modifiable to accommodate more miles.  At my latest paces, that ends up being about 1 hour on the bike 4 times a week and 3 hours on the bike once a weekend.  A very decent workout schedule.

2.  Drop 15 pounds this month (June).  I'd like to do about 40 - 45 lbs by the end of summer, and that'll get me to the middle range of what I should weight according to stupid government charts (180-ish).  Of course, I know that won't happen, but it's something to shoot for. I haven't seen a number on the scale below 195 in more than a decade and 2 years ago came as close as 199.  Of course, the last time I saw 195 on the scale I was biking slightly more than 100 miles a week.  So, there's that.  

Of course, the dietary discipline and the financial discipline will go hand in hand, because I can't go buying burgers every day.  For that matter, I can't go buying much food every day.  That shit adds up.  (5 days at work * $7 for lunch * 4 weeks = $150.  Throw in breakfast at $5 * 5 * 4 = $100 for a total food bill of $240.  And that buys mostly garbage.  Meanwhile 20 cans of soup are $50 and a couple dozen eggs to hard boil are $5.  Throw in a couple loafs of bread and the food bill is still way below $100.  See?  I do numbers good.)

Besides, I'm closer to 40 now than 35 and I need to bang this old frame back into something that approaches fighting shape.  That way when I slip the running shoes back on I won't have to haul so much ass in order to haul ass.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Emerging from taking it easy

Ok, so I'm not good at listening to doctors.  Especially when it comes to running, or exercise, or any kind of strenuous activity.  I know they're doctors and all, and have all that education and training, and blah blah blah...  But they've never run a mile in my shoes.  They've never taken my bike out on the roads.  Only one doctor I've ever seen has ever run in a marathon--and he tried to fit me with orthopedic inserts.

I don't think so.

Pain is our body's way of saying something is out of whack.  An orthopedic device artificially puts that thing back in whack and trains our muscles to accommodate the crutch.  I'd rather have my mechanics correct themselves naturally and go without the crutch, thank you very much.  That way the weak points get stronger and injuries are avoided.

Having been a runner, he should have known that.

Having been told that I prefer to go without inserts, he should have known that.

But he didn't.  "Running is bad for you, it breaks down blah blah blah".  Yea, where's the exit again?

So, anyway, I trust my doctor for the regular tinkering and knocks and pings that naturally occur in a human body.  But I don't trust my doctor for sports medicine advice.  Here's how the conversations usually go at the annual checkups:

Me:  Doc, I'm going to start training for the MS150.  I'm just checking in to make sure I'm still fit enough that it's a good idea.
Doc:  What's that?
Me:  A 200 mile bike ride across Texas.  It's totally fun.
Doc:  Motorcycle?
Me:  No, bike.
Doc: ...
Me:  Why are you looking at me like that?
Doc:  You're healthy enough, physically.  But that's not a good idea.  Do you need a referral to a psychiatrist?

I know, I need a new doctor.

But the larger truth is that eventually I end up listening, at least a little bit.  Like with my foot injury.  I twisted my ankle back in July last year about 3/4 of a mile into a speed workout.  I finished the first mile, then ran a couple of miles worth of quarter mile sprints.  

It sounded like a good idea at the time.

Ok, that's a lie.  That never sounds like a good idea.

It should go without saying that I couldn't really walk well the next day.  Or the day after.  But after 3 days the swelling had nearly gone away and after 2 weeks my ankle looked like new.  But there was a new pain, right in the back of my heel where the Achilles meets the foot.  It would go away during the day, and come back in the morning.  When I ran it would go away, then come back with a fiery, hateful vengeance, hang around for a couple of days, then go away.  Come back in the morning, go away during the day, I'd run, it would come back with a fiery, hateful vengeance, hang around for a couple of days, then go away.  This pattern repeated itself again and again and eventually sent me to the doctor (who I mostly ignored).  He said orthodics and rest.  I said thanks, I have to go now.

The thing is, for the weak points to get stronger and the mechanics to correct themselves, you have to rest.  Which I did, to an extent.  I took two weeks off, and downgraded my training to run the half marathon instead of the full.  I thought that would be enough.  But after the half, I couldn't walk for a day or two.  The pain was back.  It was excruciating.

I've since taken 4 solid months off from running and my heel feels nearly perfect.  I've also gained about 10 pounds during the layoff, eradicating the weight loss experienced when training.  I've gotten a lot done.  I've done some walking.  I did some minor repairs around the house.  I planted an orchard and failed to grow a garden.  I bought a house and landed a couple of clients.  Just no running.  I was taking it easy.

But now it's time to be finished taking it easy.  Now it's time to dust off the old 2 wheeler and get riding again.  Now it's time to give back those 10 pounds, and maybe a few more.  Now it's time to get back into running shape...  without running.

Now it's time.  Time to start looking towards a 2 hour half marathon and a 4 hour full marathon before I turn 40.  Now it's time to start thinking seriously about that 18 minute 5k and 45 minute 10k.  Now it's time to start doing something about that double century bike ride I've been talking about for 10 years.

Now it's time to silence the doubt and banish the demons.  Now it's time to claim the mental clarity that comes with a fit and clean body and the physical confidence that comes with a fit and clean mind.

Now it's time.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Recovery hiatus... ending

Ok, so there was this hiatus thing.  Deal with it.
Back in July of 2011 I twisted my ankle and my foot didn't quite heal.  I even went to a doctor.

That didn't fix it.

I got new shoes.

That didn't fix it.

I got new shoes again.

That didn't fix it.

So instead of running the full marathon in January 2012, and another one a week later, and another one a month after that, I decided to scale back A LOT and only ran the half marathon in January.

Big mistake.

The pain didn't go away.  In fact, it got worse.

It was a peculiar kind of pain.  The kind that went away when I started running, but would come back when I stopped.  Then get worse in the morning, but by afternoon was nearly gone.  It was mainly around the back of my heel where the Achilles tendon met the retrocalcaneal bone.  (I'll wait while you google that...  back now?  Good.)  But now we're 4 months past the half marathon (2:35, by the way), and the pain is now almost entirely gone almost all the time.  I'm getting the bug to run again, but that's probably not a very good idea.  However, I do have a bike...  now, that's a pretty good idea.

So, I'm considering maybe getting back in the saddle and gearing up for a crack at a MS150 ride.  Maybe the San Antonio ride in October.  That would be a good excuse to drop 10 or 20 pounds and get back into running shape.  There's a marathon on January 1 that could be fun.  And a series of bridge runs (culminating in a half marathon) that could be a fun challenge...  ah, but I need to not push the injury.

Anyway, we'll see how this goes.