Friday, December 30, 2016

IT'S NOT GETTING BETTER

An interesting experience. It's loud!
Let's catch you all up since we last talked. Not a ton has happened, my symptoms have remained and seem to be more persistent. I haven't have the periods of "green" that I had before. Most days are a "yellow" now with the occasional "red." I did go on a four mile walk Christmas morning and on the third day after that I had a flareup. Almost like clockwork. I can't even go on walks or use the elliptical or anything without triggering it. It's definitely worse than this summer when I was doing PT and is becoming more debilitating by the day.

Two weeks ago or so I had an MRI on my right knee. Nothing special about the right knee, they just have to do one knee so they picked the right once since it was slightly more tender to the touch. The orthopedic doc doesn't seem to think it will really show anything, but I had hit my deductible and with the end of the year approaching it was a good idea to just get it done and rule anything mechanical out for sure. So I actually don't have the results from that back, but I'm expecting that it won't show anything. He'll be back from vacation soon and let me know for sure.

I did see the orthopedic doctor again just a few days after my last post. I mentioned the psoriatic arthritis thing and he seemed to think that was a good guess. His next step was going to be to refer me to a rheumatologist, and confirmation that I had psoriasis made that decision even more clear. He was pretty confident that MRI would rule out anything mechanical and referred me along even without the results of that. Which is probably a good thing, because the waiting list at the rheumatologist is two months!

That is the next step though, on February 20th I see the rheumatologist. Ugh. So far away with increasing symptoms. I'm on the waiting list if anything pops up sooner. Anyways, it just sucks, because I know eventually permanent damage can be done to my joints. Based on what I'm reading, exercise can't really make things worse, but I don't know about that, because it often causes the large flares ups. I don't know. Anyways, my plans to be semi in shape for Miami are out the window. Hopefully I can get two or three more short runs in and then just call it good. That race is going to put me in a wheelchair. After that I'll just lay very low until the 20th of February.

So that's the update. I just really want to see the rheumatologist and get this fixed. Assuming it is psoriatic arthritis, I can go on drugs and it basically should go into remission. I should be able to walk around like a normal young person again and not feel like I am 80 years old and in constant joint pain. I just want that day to be here already.

Friday, December 09, 2016

I'M A DOCTOR - WebMD SLUETHING

Okay, so I think I have enough body of evidence now to come up with a better conclusion. Since I've been passed around the medical system with no answers, I decided to do a little digging myself. Based on the fact that physical therapy and orthopedic specialists haven't really solved anything other than ruling some stuff out and subtracting large sums from my bank account, I decided I should be a little proactive for my next "step."

What I know is that while running or any activity does irritate my knees, I still get flare ups doing nothing. So there is more to it than just resting. I rested a long time and nothing changed really. The knee braces aren't really doing anything, I got a huge flare up while using them just walking around (a non-activity flare up) and using them while running hasn't prevented anything either. So while they may come in handy later to lessen the chance of a re-occurrence in my knees once this is fixed, right now I don't think they are doing anything.

So it seems to be chronic. If it was something that could be treated away it would have been done so by now. I don't know what sparked the thought in my head, whether it was a TV commercial or just something at the back of my brain, but for some reason one day the words "psoriatic arthritis" popped into my head. I have very mild psoriasis on my skin, easily treated with topical steroids when it pops up. I don't know if that fact came up with my PCP, PT, or orthopedic doctor. It's really out of sight out of mind.

Those blood tests did test for arthritis, but rheumatoid arthritis. Psoriatic arthritis is completely different. I checked my blood tests and none of them tested for it (I don't think a blood test can actually determine it). Hmmm. Digging into it a little more, the symptoms completely line up with what is happening with me. I've been having jaw pain (#) at the joint for years now too that flares up and down. I bet that is related as well. None of the exercises or stretches my dentist gave me did jack shit for that. Another symtom is a sore upper back... well, I had just chalked that one up to being thirty with shitty posture, but I have that too.

Needless to say, the more I read, the more I am convinced that this is what is going on. I think I'll go back to the orthopedic doc, summarize my results with the braces with him, mention this research of mine, and ask to be referred to a rheumatologist. They should be able to diagnose me with psoriatic arthritis, assuming that's what it is, and prescribe me treatment.

The good news is, it can pretty much be treated into remission. You can't cure it, but you can get it to the point where it doesn't affect you on a day to day basis. Basically feeling back to normal. Left untreated, it can actually cause permanent damage to your joints, so treatment is important. There are varying levels of treatment, hopefully my case will be considered more mild, because some of the stronger treatments are a little scary, but regardless, I should be able to treat it and get back to near normal.

This is all assuming my WebMD sleuthing was accurate. I feel confident on this one though, especially now that I've been passed around the medical system and lived with this crap for a year now.

Tuesday, December 06, 2016

UPDATE - PUSHING A WEEK NOW...


Definitely the worst flare up in a while. Even though I haven't kept a log until just recently, I don't remember an episode this bad since I was still doing physical therapy. It seems fairly clear that activity is causing the bad flare ups, even though they can still happen during periods of relative inactivity.

It is just so strange that I can go for a three mile run on the 25th, feel awesome for two days, then be crippled for a week. It's mind bottling. Anyways, when I get another "green" day I'll go for another run and see what happens. If I feel good for two days and then have issues on the third day, I think that would be a pretty clear pattern.

I'd still like to complete the Miami Half Marathon with my friends, so I'm hoping I can juggle this all to get in decent cardio shape before that event. Unfortunately, based on my previous experience, the elliptical also flares my knees up, so that as a secondary option isn't the great. Maybe I'll try it again. Who knows. As long as can run a few miles without dying, I'll probably be able to bullshit my way through it.

Thursday, December 01, 2016

BAD FLARE UP

Well folks, I finally had a pretty bad flare up. I wish I could say it wasn't from the running, but I am not 100% sure. I ran the Friday after Thanksgiving and two days later I started a flare up that is lasting multiple days. I can still feel it today, but I think by tomorrow I should be back to feeling normal. If so, I'll try another run this weekend and see what happens.

I finally started logging my knee issues and it will be interesting to see if there is a pattern. Unfortunately, it appears the last two times I have ran, two days later I started to have bouts with my knee issue. The first time it was fairly minor and really didn't phase me too much, I mean hell, I was getting flare ups when I wasn't doing anything! However, the most recent flareup was pretty bad and kind of discouraging. It was bad enough that I was limping and co-workers were noticing.

So... we'll see what happens. I really would like to do the Miami Marathon in late January with my friends. To train for that I'd like to be able to run 5-6 miles at 11:00/mile. I'm already able to run 3 miles at 11:00/mile (which was my most recent run) so I can get there. Assuming I'm able to continue without the bouts becoming too bad, I'll do so. However, finally tracking my knees daily and seeing how it corresponds to my activity will be interesting and should solve the question of how much of my knee pain is cyclical and how much is activity induced.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

TWO MILES MORE

Old picture from 2012 maybe?
Saturday I decided it was time to go for another run. The first one seemed to be a success, so I looked forward to building on that. Matt and Katie were kind enough to humor me for two miles at a slow pace so we ran a little jaunt from Matt's house that took all of 22 minutes. It was a little slower than my first run back, but it definitely felt easier and I was still able to talk and hold conversation until the very end with an uphill finish.

Anyways, after my first run my knees felt fine, no noticeable effect, but I was very sore afterwards. I likened it to running a half marathon pretty hard back when I was in shape. I'm happy to report I was barely sore at all after this run. So improvement there! A tinsy bit sore, but 95% better than last time. Knees felt the same too, no ill effects whatsoever from the run. Those two miles didn't put a cramp in my style at all. So that is encouraging.

So hopefully the knee braces are working! I haven't had a bad flare up since early November (after wearing the braces during most of the day). They have definitely been sore and whatnot at times, but it hasn't been too bad. So that's a little confusing. It's encouraging, but the knee thing still seems like a mystery. There is a lot of weird auto-immune shit in my immediate family, where your immune system starts attacking your own stuff, I'm almost wondering if the knees are related to that. That's probably a huge leap, but also kind of makes sense given the random nature of the flare ups and the fact they hung around even after doing NOTHING for months on end.

We'll see. Overall I feel things going in a positive direction. So that's encouraging. If I never get back to sub 1:40 halfs and 3:35 fulls I'll be okay. I had my time being "fast" and whatnot, and it was great. If I could just run (more like jog) for basic health I would consider that a win. A few miles a few times a week. Maybe if I am able to do that and my legs starting feeling good again I can slowly ramp it up and see what happens. I'm not super fixated on that though. I just want my body not to be in revolt.

I already signed up for the Miami Half Marathon in January just after finishing that race ten months ago. So I have two months to prepare for that. Luckily, I've been wanting to do it with my friend in Miami and he usually does about 2:45, which is 12:30/mile. We'll likely have another friend joining us looking to run that pace. So I think if I can get a small baseline of fitness back by then, maybe run five miles as a "long run" once or twice, I should be able to finish with them. Actually kind of looking forward to that, it would be a lot fun to do the race with friends.

That's the update. I'll try another run here in the next few days. The weather has turned really crappy so I might do it in the gym, who knows. Just going to keep proceeding cautiously until something changes.

Monday, November 14, 2016

RUN RESULTS

Your knees are shitty. Pretty, pretty, pretty shitty.
Well, five days have passed now since I did a two mile test run, and I'm happy to report that run did not cause any significant issues with my knees. I repeat, I WAS ABLE TO RUN TWO MILES WITHOUT MY KNEES BLOWING UP. Yay?!

After the run last Wednesday, I was just waiting for my knees to react and do their normal thing. However, to my surprise, they did not act out in a noticeable way. Normally, I would start feeling their wrath on Friday and by Saturday would be hobbling around. However, here it is Monday, and I am still kicking. Now, I wouldn't say my knees feel fantastic, they definitely felt a little worn and slightly sore, but they did not react in the major way I would expect.

Do this mean I am out of the woods? Absolutely not. Even when I was still running while battling the onset of this issue, I could run a couple of times before my knees would react and say "no more!" So, I am still worried about that issue. Sure, I can run two miles after five months of rest, but what happens when I try to run ten miles in a week? That is the next question. Am I able to scale this mini success at all?

Also, my muscles were definitely super sore. To their credit, after five months of nothing, I would expect them to respond "wtf" to actual activity. I likened my muscle feeling to that after running a half marathon hard back when I was in shape. Basically really sore muscles and slight hobbling the next few days after the run. Hopefully that soreness will lessen with each successive run. However, I am not entirely confident it will not increase with each run as the rest of my body compensates for my craptacular knees.

Anyways, that's all for now. Long story short, some hope, but I have been burned many times before and am not optimistic at all. I'll try running again here soon and continue to assess. I'm ready to get back out there!

Thursday, November 10, 2016

FIRST RUN SINCE JULY

After my two miles yesterday.
Yesterday I ran for the first time since doing the 5k with Brandon on July 10th (man, I meant to write a recap of that). Before that run, I hadn't run in six weeks, on May 21st. So needless to say, it had been a while. Now that I have my new expensive fancy knee braces, I thought it would be a good time to take them for a spin.

When I got the knee braces I started wearing them a lot, during most the day really. I thought that could help some of the daily stress I put on my knees from going up stairs and walking around. I had a nice placebo effect for a few days before my knees blew up again. It was pretty frustrating. The only thing I could think of that triggered it was trick or treating, when I went up and down the stairs a dozen times to pass out candy. However, I was wearing my braces during that time, so I couldn't determine for sure if that was the cause.

And that's the thing. Even when I was doing nothing I would have these flare ups. Sometimes I could blame it on something, sometimes it was completely out of the blue. It would go in waves however, I would have a few good days, then the knees would flare for a few, then they'd calm down for a week, then they would flare again, etc. On and on. So did I trigger them or this is just something they are going to do?

Well, the Halloween flare up had calmed down and my knees felt good, so yesterday, when I got home from work and it was gorgeous outside, I decided to give it a whirl in my braces. If the knees flared up after, then I knew I was hosed. If they were fine, then... maybe the braces worked? Maybe I'll just continue to have random bouts of inflammation for a while that will slowly die down? Maybe if I wear my braces when doing activities, I can reduce triggering these episodes and they'll gradually fade, even if I am exercising some?

Who knows. I will tell you I'm sore as fuck after running. But that makes sense after about six months of being totally inactive. My legs kind of feel like after running a half marathon when I was in shape. I'm not worried about that though, I'm waiting for the knees to flare up. It's been 24 hours, usually the flare ups some 48-72 hours after the activity. So we'll see how it goes. Did the braces help and I won't have a flare up directly related to my run? Or will they do the usual and I'm $1500 in the hole with no answers?

As for the run, it went great. It felt good to be back out there and running didn't feel weird or painful or anything. It felt like hopping back on a bike after not riding for a while. I'm proud to report I was able to run two miles, nonstop, at 9:58 pace. Not bad. I wasn't sure I could do one mile, let alone two. Toward the end I was about to die and the run was totally exhausting and humbling, but I was able to do it. I did have a TINY bit of baseline fitness left.

So we'll wait for the results! If I can run without a direct effect on my knees, maybe I can run a 2-3 times a week for 2-3 miles without much issue. If my knees blow up though, it's back to the drawing board. I'm only 30... I shouldn't have to be inactive for an entire year or sometime for my fucking knees to calm down. Spoiler alert: this isn't going to work.

Wednesday, November 09, 2016

Saturday, November 05, 2016

2016 PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION PREDICTION

Map courtesy 270toWin.com. Disappointed in you Ohio and Iowa. Not cool. Trump? Really?
So far I am 2/3 (67%).

I'm not sure how this became a tradition, but in 2004, long before 538 and those projection websites, I took my own stab at it. I failed pretty bad. In 2008 I did pretty well and in 2012 I nailed the EVs. To be fair, it has become much easier, as you can look at different websites and really get a good feel for the race.

This election is hard to call with the high undecideds. I'm posting this early, the Saturday before the election, because I have a few differences from 538 and it is just so easy to copy that, so I want to get credit for these states if they end up flipping light blue. Right now 538 has NV, NC, and FL all red. Close, but red. I think they go the other way. They also have the final margin HRC +3, I think it is more like +5.

Anyways, we'll see Tuesday night!

Electoral:

Clinton/Kaine     323
Trump/Pence      215

Popular Vote:

Clinton/Kaine    49.8%
Trump/Pence     44.5%
Johnson/Weld     3.5%
Stein/Baraka        0.9%
McMullin/Finn      0.7%
Others                  0.6%

Friday, October 28, 2016

ANSWERS?

Not my knee, but it looked like this.
So I made an appointment and went back to the orthopedic sports doctor about my knees. This time we had x-rays done before the appointment to rule out some of the things that could be causing my troubles. So, for the first time in my life other than my teeth, I got an x-ray. It was an interesting experience. Always concerning when you have to cover your balls with a lead apron, but I'm sure they're fine.

Anyways, once those were done I met with the doctor and... everything looks normal. Based on his physical examination there is no tear of my meniscus, and based on the x-rays there are no bone spurs or deterioration of the meniscus that would be causing any issues either. He said the x-rays looked completely normal. Pretty much like the picture I included, which is a top result for "normal knee x-ray."

He doesn't seem to think an MRI would really reveal anything other than inflamed meniscus behind the knees, so that was the diagnosis. Based on my symptoms, pretty much everything lines up with that. Now, normally the inflammation goes down with rest, but in my case progress has been glacial at best. This was something, the knee stuff, I was struggling with for a long time if you look back in my blog. So I built it up over time. That, coupled with the fact I seem to be a slow "recoverer," whether it be muscle soreness, a scab, or inflamed meniscus, has led to this point.

Another issue is that your everyday life continues to irritate the meniscus if it is already irritated. So just day to day walking and going up stairs is enough to keep it from healing very much once it is bad. So what's the next step? Knee braces. I am the proud owner of nearly $400 worth of knee brace technology. Now, I really only have to wear these during physical activity, but since I have gotten them I have pretty much been wearing them all day. Can't hurt, and I wasn't healing much, if at all, when I was a total coach potato.

Sexy, right?
The braces basically take a majority of the load that would normally put stress on my meniscus. I don't know exactly how, but instead of that pressure going to my knees, it is transferred to the brace. My knees do feel better with them on. I purposefully flared my knees up over the weekend before the appointment, and in the doctor's office a squat which was super painful without the brace was now doable with the brace. Same with the stairs. Instead of walking down like an old man, I was able to walk down normal. It didn't solve 100% of the issues, but it took away 95% of it. So that was nice.

Long story short, we are trying this. In fact, I have even been cleared to run with them. I'm not super eager to start running right away, I'll probably test a little bit, but we'll see. I don't want to really start running until the inflammation goes down for a while. The next step is cortisone shots in my knees, which would probably help, but I'd like to avoid if possible. Don't wary fair readers I'll keep you in the loop!

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

FIVE MONTHS

The Portland Marathon was last weekend. I kind of missed it.
It's been about five months since I stopped running due to my knee weirdness. Is anything better? It's hard to say. A little perhaps. The random muscle soreness has gone away. The leg muscle pain was always after activity, so I think it is pretty clear that was tied to whatever was going on with my knees. I did have some muscle soreness after some activity recently (I think it was when I played tennis) but it was minor compared to when I was back running. The only thing that really remains now is the knee stuff. So I think it is clear the knee stuff is really the root of all this.

Still zero answers in the knee deal. Per the doctor request, I've been taking it easy. VERY easy. Two months of very limited activity other than walking for my normal life. The frustrating part is my knees are still sore. Is it better? Ehhh. Hard to tell. It definitely "flares" up... there are days where I feel almost normal and then there are days were it is bad. When it is bad walking down stairs or down an incline really can hurt. If I "warm" my knees up though it gets better, not gone, but better. I should probably start a spreadsheet to track how my knees are doing because the progress might be incremental enough that I'm not noticing. Still though, it's been FIVE MONTHS and I am still having the problem.

The next step is to go to the doctor and get some sort of imaging done. Considering I'm 70% of the way to my $1500 deductible I should probably do that soon. In fact, I think that'll be my next step in a couple of weeks. Could I continue on my current course and have things get better? Maybe. However, in the end I still wouldn't know exactly what was wrong and if it would happen again. So I really would like an answer. I would like to get back to running, maybe next spring if I can get well, so I don't want to do that and just have this crap all happen again.

Monday, August 29, 2016

UPDATE - I'M NOT ON THE VERGE OF DEATH


Well, I guess I'll finally give you guys an update. I got my results from the blood work about two weeks ago. The good news is it all came back normal. And after roasting in the sun for a week on vacation, I'm sure my Vitamin D levels are good now too. So no weird auto-immune thing or early MS or something crazy like that. Not even my self diagnosis of arthritis! Drat! So the mystery continues.

One thing I did notice though is once I stopped doing the PT, I felt immediately better. I haven't done PT for almost a month now and I've felt almost back to normal. I haven't done much exercise either, other than general walking, but it's nice to feel normal. It took about a week after I stopped for it to really kick in, but I am able to walk down stairs now and my knees feel almost back to normal. I've even been able to do a couple very minor physical things, like walk around Hershey Park all day, walk 18 holes of golf, etc. and have nary a complaint from the legs.

Now, if I were to go on a three mile run or something I would probably feel it. However, after discussing with the sports injury doctor, we are going to try a new approach. Since we haven't determined the cause yet, I could have just really irritated the "tissue" (I forget what it is called) behind the knee. It could have caused a lot of my symptoms and it takes a while to "flare down" after being irritated, and the PT kept irritating it. I think the random muscle pain was throwing off both the PT and sports injury guy, but I think that may have been from really overcompensating for my knees. I honestly don't know. Maybe some of it WAS the muscle weakness my PT worked on and if I were to go back to activity those symptoms would be gone.

I'm not going to start doing anything though until I know for sure my knees are better. And while I feel almost back to normal, I can tell they are still a little irritated. I'll rest until next spring if I have to. I'm honestly in no rush. So the goal now is to just rest. I'm not opposed to going on a walk or playing golf or whatever, but I'm not going to force myself to be active when it could be hindering my recovery. I'll just eat a little less and call it good. My pants still fit exactly the same as they did a month ago, so we'll call that a win.

So that's the update. I really do miss running at times, but overall I'm okay taking some time off. I've always wanted an excuse, and now I have it. I really hope I can run again at some point, I love the races and the social aspect, so we'll see where this goes! For now though, just enjoying not being in chronic pain.

Monday, August 01, 2016

PT UPDATE... ONTO BLOOD WORK

Updated self portrait.
Well, turns out there is not much to write about on a running blog when you are not running. I will write the recap of the 5k I did with Brandon a few weeks ago. In the meantime, I'll give you an update on my physical therapy and trying to get back to running.

Basically, the physical therapy isn't working. All the muscle groups we were targeting were getting noticeably stronger and yet I was having the same issues. The fact that I haven't been running at all for three months now (spare that one run with Brandon) and that I am still getting the weird leg stuff is eye opening. I thought if I stopped running it would basically go away (until I ran again). That seemed to be the result when I would take breaks earlier.

Well, I'll get super sore for practically no reason now. My calves, hamstrings, quads, and glutes often will get way tighter than they should with any physical activity. However, when I am doing nothing my knees also flare up. They are just swollen and sore feeling. It hurts to walk down an incline or walk down stairs. If I "warm them up" they feel okay, but I still don't have the mobility or agility I should have as a 29 year old. Basically, my PT is stumped. I don't blame her.

So I've been referred to a sports injury doctor who specializes in leg crap. Basically he agrees with the PT and would have done the same thing. However, now that PT has been shown to not really be working, we have to dig deeper. And that includes a lot of blood tests. So I'm currently awaiting the results of those. Hopefully it's nothing fucked up. The doctor didn't say anything, but arthritis kind of hits some of the right notes. Which would be pretty fucked up! So hopefully it's not that! Hopefully it is some sort of deficiency/imbalance in my iron or Vitamin D or electrolytes or something. He made it sound like he was leaning that way as opposed to anything more "major" (probably to not scare me off and make sure I come back) so hopefully that's the case.

Anyways, I'll probably get the results sometime later this week. We'll see what happens!

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

2016 RUM RUN 10K RACE RECAP

The new starting line this year at Big Al's in Beaverton. The start of a hilly adventure!
This recap is way late and is going to lack detail because I was basically just running this race for "fun." I had decided a few days earlier that my knee situation was not going to resolve itself and I needed to get some help. I believe I ran at PRC on the Monday before and it really made me sore for a few days so I basically just rested up and knew this would probably be my last run for a long while. By this time I was getting out of shape and with my whole leg situation... I wasn't going to kill myself.

Anyways, Katie was also doing the race but she was doing the 5k, which started later. So I drove to the start line and picked up my bib and waited around for it to start. It was raining pretty hard for a while before the race, but luckily it cleared up for the race itself. When the race started I was happily toward the back of the pack and kind of just went with the flow. It was nice to have zero pressure for the race. Usually, even if I'm not trying to PR, I have SOME sort of goal. I literally had no goal for this race other than to finish under an hour.

No event pictures this year, so beer!
The location changed this year from Tualatin to Beaverton, which was kind of a bummer. I liked it being in my old hometown. That being said, it went from a 16 minute drive to a 4 minute drive, so that was nice. Unfortunately, despite Energy Events proclamations, the course was not "flat" or even "mostly flat." Motherfucker was hilly. Way hillier than the Tualatin course. It was fun-ish to have the new course, but in the end I prefer the old one. The parks of Tualatin/Tigard with the lake finish was pretty nice.

I settled into about an 8:50/mile pace and called it good. It wasn't the fastest pace I could have gone, but with my fitness it wasn't easy either. Starting at Big Al's in Beaverton, it quickly wound around some local neighborhoods before heading toward towards Roy Rogers and coming back on Bull Mountain Road. I told you it was hilly. Despite the very rolling hills my mile times stayed pretty consistent as the ups and downs seemed to balance out.

That is until Bull Mountain Road. I had a 10:18 mile climbing that thing. Not fun. Really wish I would have been in shape like when I ran a 1:46 at Bald Peak that one year. I would have sprinted up that thing no problem. Anyways, I got up it and didn't need to walk or anything like some of the people around me (who quickly burned me back on the downhill). I kind of enjoyed being back with the "common folk" ... it's a lot more fun! They tend to be chattier and you can distract yourself easier. Anyways, I couldn't take advantage of the downhills quite like I would have wanted because of my knees. Oh well.

Starting around mile four I had a really, shall I say, pressing, issue. I had to poop. Bad. Bounding down Bull Mountain didn't help. It got to the point where I was actively scanning for a port-a-potty. I was hesitant to go poop though because I knew my hour goal might be in jeopardy. I only had a couple minute cushion and that could make things very close. At some points I was checking out bushes and other areas I could dart off to. Around mile five I spotted a port-a-potty at a house with construction going on. I deliberated and even took a couple steps in that direction. I eventually decided I could hold it another nine minutes.

A very weakly poured mojito. Still good!
I was BARELY able to hold on. I had to slow my running down to keep it at bay. At one point I had to shuffle and clench. It was bad. I should have stopped. I was going to poop my pants. Luckily, I was able to make it to the finish line. I think I set a world record from the finish line to the back of the parking lot where the bathrooms were. Sweet, sweet relief. Once that was over I wandered around until I found Katie, who finished the 5k right behind me.

After that we had our beers and mojitos. It was fun. I always like this event, even when there are problems. Mostly I was just glad I didn't have an accident. Overall my running was alright. I averaged 8:58/mile and it was way harder than it should have been. I knew it was my last run for a while so I tried to enjoy it the best I could. In the end it was a fun time... I'm glad I did it and took a slightly easier pace and Katie was there to hang with afterward.

Official results: 55:06, 8:58/mile. 88/419 overall, 58/136 male, 5/11 M25-29.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

PHYSICAL THERAPY UPDATE

Unrelated picture... me stuck in traffic the other day. But
yeah, keep adding houses without more roads Beaverton.
Okay, first of all, holy shit, physical therapy is expensive. My insurance plan doesn't cover anything until I hit my deductible ($1250) and let's just say we were almost halfway there after two visits. All told, even when my "insurance" kicks in, this whole thing is going to cost like $2,000. So yeah, that blows. However, it is necessary. My problems had gotten to the point where it wasn't just affecting me when I ran, I was having issues from simple things like kicking a soccer ball or going on a hike.

So I'm continuing my exercises at home and then going into the office once a week for the PT to evaluate me and add/remove exercises. I can definitely feel my ass and hips getting stronger along with my core. I still have way too much flab on my stomach for it to be outwardly visible, but I can feel my abs getting much more "defined," I assume from all the planking. I cannot believe how hard it is. It looks so simple! However, planking for 50 seconds spikes my heart rate well into the 130s  (I'm guessing, I don't have a HR monitor).  A couple times I have also noticed an increased "firmness" in my ass as well. So those are all good signs that the exercises themselves are working.

How am I feeling? Better, I guess? The physical therapy exercises I'm doing at home are making my knees hurt though, pretty much almost like I am running. It hasn't flared to the limping point yet, but I am still dealing with the generally knees. Hopefully those symptoms will subside as the other parts of my body get stronger. I'm worried that something else is still wrong, but the PT is monitoring all that so hopefully things will get better with time.

I did do a "test" this weekend that I'm sure the PT wouldn't like (shhhh!). I had Brandon on Sunday so we went and played soccer. Now, I played soccer twice before PT and each time it kicked my ass. Since PT we went to the field twice but I basically rolled the ball back to him while he practiced shooting and walked to get errant balls. This last weekend I actually kicked the ball back and gently jogged to get a few balls. Overall it was pretty light soccer "playing" (spare smashing a couple penalties... still got it). Normally, after playing soccer, I'd be limping on Tuesday. I'm happy to report today I feel no different than I did on Saturday before playing soccer. My knees are still slightly sore from the PT exercises, but they feel the same as on Saturday. So progress? Maybe?

So that's the update. Just continuing on with the exercises. My hips, glutes, and core are definitely getting stronger... but my knees still feel like they did when I was running. Oh, and I still owe you guys a Rum Run recap. One of these days.

Monday, June 06, 2016

REPORT FROM THE PHYSICAL THERAPIST

Wow! Look at the size of his... hands. There is no problem
there, I assure you. No problem.
So, I went to the physical therapist last Friday. She was very nice and appreciated all the Beaver gear I had on since she graduated from Oregon State herself. Basically it was an hour long appointment to diagnose what was going on and then teach me some exercises that will hopefully rectify the problem.

First, I verbally discussed what was going on. What makes my case so hard is that the symptoms change a lot. It's not a simple case of "I have pain in X when I move Y" or something like that. Sometimes my knees get swollen. Sometimes it feels like my calves where beaten with a hammer. Sometimes my hamstrings seize up. Generally though it tends to manifest itself in the "kneeular" area and keeps getting worse, to the point now that one physical activity will leave me limping.

So after thoroughly confusing her with my symptoms, she preformed some tests on me, basically testing my flexibility and strength in a variety of ways. Generally I suck in all areas. One test really stood out though. She was doing various strength tests, having me push/pull against her to resist her trying to push/pull that part. When it came to my hips, I literally had nothing. It was embarrassing. After "trying" to stop her from pushing or pulling or whatever she was doing, she was like "Okay, let's do that again, but really try this time." In my brain I was trying to find the muscle to really try but literally nothing was there. Anyways that was an eye opener.

Once she was done with all of that stuff, she basically diagnosed me with weak hip and glute muscles. In addition to strengthening those, I'm also going to strengthen my core. She did watch me run and it was good to hear I was in the right shoes (support) due to my running style. So she was pleased with that. Basically, when I am running my hips are just kind of flailing about from side to side with each step instead of being strong and keeping my body more rigid. Think of it as a sea-saw going back and forth with each step instead of staying more level with each step (good article here). This sea-saw action is jerking my knees around with each step and likely causing my issues.

It makes sense. My "injury" is not really an injury, like a torn muscle or whatever. As suspected, it really comes down to a muscle imbalance. So hopefully what she diagnosed is correct. If I can bulk up my hips, ass, and core, I'll be able to run "in balance" again. I'm actually excited at the prospect. So much of the last year has been running around trying to avoid flaring this condition up and it's been frustrating. I'd like to get to the point where I can just really go outside and attack it again. I miss the feeling of a nice, hard six mile run without the prospect of limping around for the next week.

My life now.
Towards the end of the therapy session the therapist gave me some workouts to do at home to help fix some of my problems. So I've been doing those. Some squats, some side to side squatting while sliding with a resistance bad, and planking. Holy shit, planking. I am only doing 45 seconds at a time but shaking like an boozehound in the morning. I'm also stretching because, as we all know, I'm not very flexible. Once I build up some strength, we'll slowly introduce running again. Maybe a half mile three times in a week. If that goes off well, then increase it to one mile. And so on and so forth.

Eventually, I should hopefully be back to running without issue. It's going to be a multiple month process though. I'm thinking marathoning might be out this fall. That's okay. I definitely want to get back there, but I want to get back there healthy. So I need to get back up and running and then hopefully do some cross training and strength workouts to prevent this from happening again! I'm not sure when I'll attempt another small run, but probably not for a couple weeks I'm guessing.

Wednesday, June 01, 2016

UPDATE ON GIMPY OL' THOMAS

I also got a tetanus booster & big boy bandaid.
Just thought I would post an update since I had some news. This recent knee trouble prompted me to schedule a physical with the doctor for the first time since, oh, about 2008. Oops. I knew for physical therapy I'd probably need a referral for the insurance bastards, so I scheduled a routine physical with the goal of bringing up my leg pain and getting referred.

Let's just say I accomplished my goal and it feels amazing. Just kidding. The doctor did the standard physical on me, which was good. I'm no longer a spring chicken. I'm going to get some blood work done and hopefully that all comes back good, but in general, aside from my knees, I appear to be in good health. Imagine that. I also got a chance to experience someone grabbing my balls and coughing for the first time. So that was fun. For some reason none of my doctor's visits until now involved this? Should I be disappointed?

When I brought up my knee pain, the doctor poked around, asked some questions, and then basically agreed with me that there is likely some sort of muscular imbalance that is fucking things up. So he wrote me a prescription for PT and referred me to a local therapist. My first appointment is this Friday after work. So that's good news! I was able to get into the doctor within a few days and then get into the PT within a few days. So hopefully I can resolve this by the time summer is over? Maybe? My knees are pretty sore from playing soccer this weekend and I almost want to run tomorrow so they are super fucked up for the therapist on Friday.

Anyways, that's the update. Nothing too exciting except that I am hernia free. I'll post a recap of the Rum Run at some point... basically I did a 9:00/mile, had fun, but it was harder than it should have been and left me a bit gimpy (imagine that).

Friday, May 20, 2016

I AM BROKEN

:'(
Well, unfortunately I've come to the point where I have to admit I'm broken and I apparently can't fix it myself. After my decent week back in early May I played soccer with Brandon outside on the field. A good hour and half worth of slinging the ball around. It was fun, I didn't feel anything too bad while playing, although I'll admit my knees ached with some vigorous twisting to kick the ball hard. The rest of the day I felt more or less fine. Legs a little worn, but nothing major.

Something that has been weird about my recent struggles is how when I fuck something up it doesn't affect me right away. Often it will take two or three days before it is at its worst. Almost like the delayed muscle soreness after a marathon. Anyways, two days later I was pretty much limping. It was really frustrating. I wasn't even really running, I was just kicking a soccer ball. The feelings were pretty much the same though. I took the whole week off and went nine days without a run.

When I got back to it I noticed I was even more out of shape. It's pretty frustrating to have 9:15/mile feel hard and leave you panting. By my second run back my legs revolted again. It was at this point I called it. Something needs to be done! My hamstring theory didn't really work. My hamstring is much better, still a little tight, but that didn't work at all. So something else is going on.

Anyways, there is probably some sort of muscular-skeletal imbalance. Weak hips or overpowering quads or who the fuck knows. Something is jacked up and it's primarily affecting my knees. The my knees themselves feel fine, they don't hurt when I run or anything. So I don't think it is anything with the knees themselves. But whatever is out of whack is putting a lot of strain on the muscles and ligaments around my knees so afterward they swell up and complain.

It kind of makes sense, because the imbalance wouldn't really get better by taking time off. Maybe if I lay in bed until I withered to nothing and restarted from scratch it would. However, appealing as that may be, it is not an option! So it's off to the doctor to get referred to a specialist and then hopefully get some sort of physical therapy or exercises to help fix what is wrong. I just want to know what is wrong. Hopefully it won't be too hard for them to figure out.

That's it in a nutshell. I need to schedule the appointment but I'm afraid of how much this is going to cost. I've had a lot of expenses recently, and although I have plenty of savings, I don't really feel like blowing a ton of money. Hopefully must of it can fall under normal visits to the doctor/specialist, which are just co-pays of something like $30/ea. Whatever it is though, I'll bit the bullet and do it I guess. Running is key to me staying in shape and a big part of my social life, so I'll miss it even if I won't miss it... if you catch my drift.

Guess what? I have a race tomorrow! Yay! Probably my last one for a long time. It's the Rum Run, year FIVE. Holy shit! You know what's great? I'm totally going to fun run it. I'm not going to give a single shit. Just enjoy myself and hobble along at whatever is easy. Should be fun. Actually kind of looking forward to it... no pressure!

Anyways, posts to this blog will probably become much less frequent. Not that anybody reads it. I'll keep you abreast on the whole diagnosis/rehab thing though. Just about every running blog ever has that stage, so onward I go!

Monday, May 09, 2016

BEST WEEK SINCE FEBRUARY

At about mile seven out of ten. About when the legs started asking for me to be done.
Last week would definitely be categorized as a success. I had a solid, easy six miler on Monday with PRC followed by a spastic pace three miler on Wednesday (I had to tone a tempo-ish run down due to previously mentioned stomach issues). That left Saturday, where I joined the Portland Marathon Clinic for the first time this season. They were running ten miles from Club Sport, which is only about a 15 minute drive. Sounded good since Sunstone was planning on running a grueling hill route through Cooper Mountain Nature Park. That run, while beautiful, would not have been what my legs needed!

Anyways, I was glad that Katie decided to go to PMC as well. With some slight prodding I convinced her to join the 3:30 group since they typically run long runs at 9:40ish a mile. Turns out they ran 9:25ish for this run, I guess they run a bit faster earlier in the season. I usually don't join until at least June when they are running upwards of 14 miles, so it was a bit strange to be there that early. The turnout for the run was HUGE though, very surprising. Vincent was also there and also ran with the 3:30s so it was fun to have some buddies to run with.

The long run actually went pretty well. It felt really hot out, I think it was only about 70 degrees or so, but it was muggy or something. Reminded me very much for training for the marathon during those hot summer months. The run got off to a bit of a rough start, the warm weather coupled with me being out of shape meant it was harder than it should have been. Luckily, around mile four, my body found it's groove and it started to feel more like a typical long run. This lasted until about mile seven before my legs started to complain. It was fun while it lasted, my breathing was easy, my legs felt great, and I could talk without issue.

Turns out the course called for an eight mile lollipop loop back to Club Sport, followed by a two mile out and back for those who wanted to do ten total miles. I could have totally been done after eight, but I made myself due ten miles. Those two miles were harder than they should have been and I found myself being the "caboose" of the group again. Just like old times. They totally sped up though, and I was not about to speed up to match them. I kept chugging at 9:20/mile and eventually, with the help of a stoplight, caught up and finished right with the group.

My legs felt worn but responded in a good way. Like they used to after a long run. That ten miler was way harder than it should have been, but I'm glad I did it. All together for the week I ran 19.6 miles (totally rounding that up to 20), which is the most since February. My legs feel good and that is encouraging. However, I've been able to basically do a week like this before and then after two or three weeks consecutively of running semi-regularly they blow up again. I'd like to think my legs feel different this time, I swear they do, but only time will tell. Not celebrating yet.

Thursday, May 05, 2016

RUNNING... FOR THE BATHROOM

Well, after Mexico I've been running again. My legs feel alright - nothing crippling, but they don't feel like they've magically fixed whatever is going on. I'm going to attempt a long run this weekend, probably 10 miles, and we'll see how that goes. Overall they do feel better than they did a few months ago, so I'm hoping for continued improvement. If they still get fucked up even after all the time off and efforts to stretch and whatnot, I'm going to have to see a sports doctor. And that's annoying and expensive.

Mexico has left quite the impression... on my digestive tract. I ate something that wasn't washed properly, and... there's no easy way to put it...I've been shitting my brains out for 11 days now. I even went to the doctor to make sure it wasn't something more serious. He seems to think it's just a case of Traveler's Diarrhea that's taking a while to clear up. I hope so. I actually had a good day on Tuesday, I thought I was cured. And then yesterday/last night was probably my worst day. So that has been interesting. The threat of that happening has certainly made my runs more interesting.

Aside from that, nothing much has been happening. I do have a race on Saturday the 21st... another year of the Rum Run. It was a total cluster last year, you can read that here, so this year they have changed locations and it's actually right by my house. Super handy, but I will miss the Tualatin location. It was somewhat of a tradition and I liked finishing around the lake. The new course has a pretty big hill right in the middle too. Should be interesting. Based on my runs since Mexico, I'm even in worse shape than the Blooms to Brews 10k, so if I'm able to run the Rum Run under 8:00/mile it might be a small miracle.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

TOMAS NO CORRIO EN MEXICO

With my parents at a really cool rooftop restaurant we ate at our last night there.
Yeah, that didn't happen. While I packed my stuff, I honestly didn't expect to run at all. And I didn't. And that was okay. I got a solid two weeks off after the race and I think my legs needed it. Plus, the city I was in is pretty small and finding a running route would have been awkward. I could have ran on the beach, but their beach is pretty angled and it would have just been a bad idea. My dad tried it in this very same city a while back and pretty much injured himself for an entire year. So no gracias.

The trip was a lot of fun though! We went to the small town of Sayulita near Puerto Vallarta. It has become pretty touristy, but it also is a real city with locals and whatnot. So it is a fun way to experience another culture (sort of - again, not totally authentic Mexico). We went off the beaten path as much as we could to explore the city and get away from the more touristy areas. We had a couple really cool walks to nearby beaches, one was a walk through the jungle to this beautiful beach we ended up having all to ourselves.

One day we hired a guy to take us on his boat to the Marieta Islands. There we were able to snorkel, visit this really cool beach you had to access through a cave, observe the local Blue Footed Booby, etc. It was a lot of fun even though I got a little seasick. The biggest victory of the trip might have been not really getting burnt. Pink in a couple areas, yes, but I certainly avoided coming back looking like a lobster. Unfortunately, the only thing that was running in Mexico was my stool... and let's just leave it at that. :)

My first run back was Monday night at PRC and I'm happy to report it went well. Four miles at 9:30/mile pace. A little harder than it should have been, but I was surprised my cardio was still pretty decent. Legs felt great too. I'll try again tonight at PRC, and then tomorrow is the first Discovery Run of the season.

Friday, April 15, 2016

OFF TO MEXICO

Just wanted to let you know there won't be much activity on the blog for at least a week. I'm off to Mexico on vacation starting tomorrow and I don't really plan to run. A true vacation! Looking forward to it and not really concerned at all about the running.

After the race on Sunday I felt like I had indeed ran a race. My legs felt more like they had just ran a hard half marathon, but they didn't feel weird or broken. I probably could have ran again yesterday, some tendons around my knees still feel a little tight, but I decided I'm just going to take some time off. Maybe I'll go on a light jog in Mexico, I'll pack my stuff, but I'm not going to commit to anything. I'm just going to keep stretching and trying to increase my flexibility and hopefully that will continue to keep the old man leg syndrome at bay.

I don't have a picture from last time I went to Mexico... somehow... I think I had a digital camera (lol, remember those?) and all the pictures are on my old laptop. Anyways, I just went on Facebook and found the picture closest to the date I went to Mexico (Christmas 2009). Turns out it's a picture of me and Laurel! Woot woot! I don't know why I look scared, I'm going to say it was cold outside. She was picking up her coffee table that she lent me for a number of years. Meanwhile, I was freshly employed out of college at NetBiz.com. Those were the days.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

BLOOMS TO BREWS 10K RACE REPORT

Gotta love these smaller, less competitive races! Also, almost broke myself trying to get up on that box with trashed legs.
Sunday I helped pace Katie from Runs for Cookies as she attempted to PR her 10k. I was actually pretty nervous before the race, which was weird since I was just pacing, but I was pretty worried about actually being able to pace her. Based on my runs recently I thought I could do the pace but it would be a challenge. My legs didn't feel the greatest, but they didn't feel terrible either. I was just ready to get the race over with already, something that I'm sure Katie was also feeling.

We had to wake up pretty early to leave for the race. I believe I woke up at 5:45am and we left for the race around 6:15am. As you are probably aware, I am not a morning person, but it wasn't too bad. I got a coffee to help myself wake up and then we blasted some motivational music on the way. We got to the race with a good 40 minutes or so to spare, so we were able to use the restroom and then stay warm in the car while we waited for the start. The marathon and half marathon went off before the 10k, so after those races started we meandered toward the start line.

Race Start!
MILE ONE (7:52)
Off we go! We lined up towards the front since we didn't want to have to do any weaving. There wasn't too much warning the race was going to start, all of a sudden it was 10... 9... 8... kind of liked it that way though! My focus when we started was not to allow us to run too fast... with the adrenaline pumping you feel good and it is very easy to do. I looked at my watch like a hawk during that first half mile or so and made sure we kept in the low 7:50s.

The pace didn't feel too hard yet, which was encouraging, although my legs felt kind of creaky. Pretty soon we settled into the pace and Katie mentioned that she felt good. That was encouraging to hear. The pace was definitely a challenge for me too, but I could tell my race pace would be a touch faster. This run was going to suck, a very hard speed work session for me, but I felt confident I could finish it. That was a relief given some of the recent developments!

MILE TWO (7:54)
Mile two contained a short out and back. No biggie there. Not much highlighted this portion of the course other than just settling into the pace. The excitement of the start was over, the turnaround was behind us, and now it was just flat, open road. My breathing was pretty labored (this was a hard workout!) but I tried not to do my normal hippo in labor routine. This portion of the course also had some really pungent manure smells wafting over it. They almost wanted to make me gag mid-run. This smell would hit once or twice more on the course, a price for running out in the country I guess!

Sometime during mile four.
MILE THREE (8:01)
More flat running until the first and only hill of any substance in the race. It wasn't very big at all, maybe thirty feet or so, but it was fairly steep. I saw Katie charge up, maybe I should have mentioned to take it easier before we hit it. I continued trying to sustain my same effort, which copious amounts of hill running has trained me to do. This means Katie was a good twenty feet or so ahead of me at the top of the hill. I slowly caught up as she struggled to catch her breath. Luckily she was able to recover and we finished this mile out strong. Feeling pretty confident at this point.

MILE FOUR (8:01)
I knew at some point we'd probably have a rough mile. It seems like just about any race you are giving 100% to will have one of these rough periods. The key is to just keep going and tough it out, eventually your body will seem to accept it's fate and get back into the groove. About halfway into this mile the race switched from pavement to a gravel road and Katie wasn't prepared for that. I've run on enough gravel that I really don't give a shit, but she's not used to it and I remember when it was new and annoying to me too.

Anyways, at some point Katie said she didn't think she could do it and she was going to slow down. Nope! Not acceptable! I knew she had the proper fitness to finish, she just needed to push through this rough spot mentally and get to the other side. I allowed us to slow down to 8:15 or so in the hopes she would catch her breath. I didn't want her to start trailing behind me too much because mentally that's tough to see someone pulling away. So I just kind of allowed a brief moment to catch our breath and then just slowly sped us back up to race pace.

Almost back on pavement at this point.
MILE FIVE (8:06)
Katie was now officially not having fun. I just kept trying to encourage her. I knew if I talked too much that would be annoying, but I also wanted to reassure her that she could do it and that we were well over halfway done. I also tried to frame the distance remaining as something not so bad. Who knows, maybe hearing it was only "ten more minutes" helped. The promise of the return to pavement was also a motivator.

At one point Katie asked me to be honest... could she PR? I think she was looking for a reason to quit! I looked at my watch... we were averaging 7:57/mile, right on PR pace. I assured her, despite the slower couple of miles, we were still on pace. The first two miles were a little quicker, so we were right on target. If we could maintain PR pace and then sprint into the finish, she could definitely PR. We kept running. I think it was around this moment she decided she could PR and was going to finish strong.

MILE SIX (7:54)
As you can see by the mile time, we were back on schedule. We finally hit the relief of pavement and Katie was charging ahead and looked determined. Luckily, it really didn't take much more encouragement, after getting through the mini-crisis shortly after mile four, there wasn't much complaining from her end. A couple checks to see if we were still on pace to PR, but otherwise just hitting PR pace and getting through that final mile. My legs were starting to tire and I was ready to be done too! I focused on just keeping us on pace so she could get a PR... it would be close, but we could do it.

Katie finishing, me behind.
THE FINISH
After hitting the mile six marker, Katie took off a little bit after I told her it was going to be close and to speed up if she had it in her. I told her I was going to stay back and run 7:55/mile just in case she tired and fell off pace. I would then be the "last chance." Luckily, she didn't really slow down. By the time she rounded the corner to the finish line it was clear she would do it, so I matched her sprint into the finish. She was a good thirty yards ahead maybe and I looked at my watch right when she crossed the finish line... 49:05ish according to my calculations, a PR by about 20 seconds. Sweet! I crossed six seconds later.

POST RACE
I was exhausted when I finished and gulped multiple cups of Gatorade. Katie was pretty out of it too, she didn't even look happy at first. I think it took a while for the PR to sink in. Once she recovered a little bit and realized she had indeed accomplished her goal she was pretty happy. I was happy for her and also happy that I was able to pace her without falling apart. It required a really hard effort on my part, harder than I would have liked. Should I race a 10k, I think my race pace would be around 7:35-7:40ish for a mid-47 minute finish. So this effort wasn't too far from a race pace for me!

After catching our breath we headed to the beer garden to celebrate her PR. We both ended up placing in our age groups, so we hung around for the awards ceremony before heading back. Mission accomplished!

Official Time: 49:09, 7:56/mi. 15/316 overall, 9/69 male, 1/7 M25-29.

Thursday, April 07, 2016

POSITIVE STEPS

Since dedicated myself to stretching on Monday my legs have felt much better. Whether or not it is actually correlated, who knows, but I've had two good runs since then.

Monday's run was fairly productive. I concluded I needed to "cram" for the 10k, so I decided I would run five miles... one warm up mile, three at race pace, and then a cool down mile. I'm happy to report it was a really good run. My legs felt fine and I was able to hit the pace. The pace was definitely a challenge though, I can't believe that was my marathon pace within the last two years, but it is what it is. I definitely could have gone further, if I needed to, but I didn't want to press it.

After some tedious stretching after that run (and copious amounts before) my legs felt pretty good on Tuesday. Pretty much like they used to feel when I ran. Slightly used, but fine. I wasn't limping around. On Wednesday I did four miles at an easy 9:20ish pace and it was fine. Again, like it used to feel. I stretched a bunch after that run too, and I felt fine today. So that's positive. I think I can get to the race without issue. I'll keep doing this and see if I continue to improve.

So the race Saturday. I'm actually looking forward to it. It will be far from my 6:59/mi PR, but it will feel good to run a race hard and hopefully help my friend achieve her goal. I think if I ran a 10k at my hardest right now I'd clock in around 7:35-7:40ish a mile. So this race at 7:50-7:55ish isn't going to be much easier. It will be a good test though and take a pretty hard effort.

Monday, April 04, 2016

HAMSTRUNG

Did you know that the "hamstring" is actually made up
of multiple muscles?
Alright, I've had some time this last week to think about my gimpy old self. You know how when one part of your body is hurting often times a totally unrelated part is to blame? I think that is the case here. While my knees are the main source of discomfort recently, they are not the issue (according to my theory). What is causing my issue is a tight/injured right hamstring. That injury is causing me to subliminally change my gait and the way I'm running to protect it, thus putting undue stress on my knees and all the little tendons around them.

I think this theory has some merit. The area first started bothering me two and a half years ago when I seemed to have initially pulled it. It healed up for the most part and I was able to forget about it for a long time, but I think it never really came back 100%. I ran pretty decently for a long time without issues. However, anytime I would get really tired, the first place I'd feel anything was my right hamstring. It seemed to be the weakest link. Hey, anybody remember that really terrible game show The Weakest Link? You are the weakest link, goodbye! Ha.

My recent issues seem to have started up about a year ago, when I had that terrible run with Coach Jim. Now, I don't remember specifically if it was my right hamstring, I don't think it bothering me much, but maybe it played a part. I never took a break really after the Portland Marathon that previous fall and eventually I felt more and more run down. Maybe my legs were tired, especially my right hammy (but I couldn't tell specifically because everywhere felt worn) and thus when I ran I was overcompensating or whatever. Anyways, I have never seemed to fully come back from that point.

Hey right hammy! Listen to this uptight British lady.
I took some time off and got back to it. Last year I was able to keep running and racing but I could tell my legs just weren't the same. I babied them a little bit and was able to get through a a decent slate of races. Exactly zero were PRs (except the beer mile... totally counting the beer mile). Anyways, I was surviving and still posting decent times. However, again, during this whole time... if you asked me what's the one muscle I didn't quite trust... right hammy. It's the muscle that would poop out first on long runs and would threaten to pull during speed work. It never actually flared out bad though.

What seemed to do it in was the double marathon this fall. I got through Portland alright and almost at my previous speed (only six minutes off). So things were going pretty well. However, as you probably know, Detroit two weeks later what not so great. While I had a fun time overall, at mile fourteen my right hamstring revolted. I said it was my glute, but looking back it was probably my hamstring. Considering the hamstring runs from the butt to the knee, there is a lot of places that could hurt and be that hamstring. Regardless of what it is, it was that "problem area" that was a slight irritation for two years at that point. I made it through the race, but that muscle was pissed.

After Detroit I took two weeks off, and the run a couple weeks before the Hot Buttered Half Marathon. And again the right hamstring/glute/whatever flares up. I keep it at bay during the race by slowing down a bit, but it is an issue. I take a month off after the race. When I come back my hamstring is not necessarily bothering me but my hamstrings and knees tend to get really sore if I "overdo it" (and overdoing it is what used to be considered a normal week). Fast forward to two weeks ago, when I go skiing. It's fun, but leaves my right hamstring a bit sore. Nothing terrible. I try to run on it a week after skiing and the result is not good.

I wish my thighs/ass looked that good in spandex. :(
Here I am a week later and my legs feel rested but I know not all is well. The same shit is going to keep happening. So while I hope to pace Katie through the 10k this weekend, I'm going to have to mix something up. For now, we are going to go with the theory that the right hamstring weakness is the root of most all the problems I've been having. It was injured at one point and never quite got well again. So part plan is to specifically stretch the area to increase flexibility. It is so tight it is ridiculous and frankly embarrassing if anyone were to watch. So in addition to increasing flexibility, I am going to do exercises to target it and build some strength. Move it in many more ways than running does. If there is scar tissue or something, really do a bunch of shit to try and break that up. And then finally, maybe I will ice it after runs, at least after long runs and speedwork.

So that's the plan. Will it work? Who knows! But even right now I can feel my right hammy burning a little bit. Probably because I've been stretching it like a mother fucker the last couple of days. I am going to try running tonight and afterward I will stretch and ice it. I'll start doing some research on some workouts I can do to help build it back up. After the race this weekend I'll concentrate on getting it back up and running again and hopefully this will solve a lot of the issues I've been having.

Friday, April 01, 2016

OLD MAN GRAF

Quiet week on the running front. Last Saturday's long run wasn't hard, but my legs were a little sore afterward. Even though they felt a little weird Monday I went ahead and ran and the results were not good. Same extra sore/swollen knee feeling. I used to be able to run with sore muscles before, you'd just kind of "shake it off" during the run. However, recently...I can't get away with it. I did a test to see if I could, and I can't.

So nothing really has changed. I do feel like if I stretched, rolled my muscles out, and iced my legs after most runs I would be 100% fine. It's all muscular... I just don't have the motivation to do the hard work to fix it. Maybe getting more flexible in general would help. I just don't love running enough to make any drastic changes. Considering an ENTIRE month off didn't fix it... I don't know quite what to try. If I have to do a whole routine every time I run then I don't want to run.

Anyways, I haven't ran since Monday. At this point I want to be able to run the 10k next weekend with Katie, so I'm not going to do anything crazy. I'm going to be very conservative so I know I'll be able to run the race with her. My legs are getting better but they still feel a bit off today. I was going to run with Coach Jim tomorrow, but now I'm not sure that's the best idea. We'll see.

Monday, March 28, 2016

GETTING READY FOR THE 10K

I've determined I look terrible in a beanie.
My legs felt pretty good after skiing last week. Sore for sure, but nothing too crazy. There was one muscle or tendon or something in my thigh that was really sore... I don't think I've ever had something that sore before! Luckily, it is not something I felt or use during my every day life, only when I was trying to get up from specific laying positions. Weird! Anyways, that's all better now and my legs feel pretty good for the most part.

Last Tuesday I did three easy miles at the gym to shake the skiing cobwebs out. That went well, especially once I warmed up. The next day I went to PRC and didn't have plans to run very fast. Well, only five people showed up for the group run, and two were running much slower than I would have liked, so I just trailed behind two other dudes. I figured they were going to be running too fast, but they started off slower so I just kind of mindlessly went with them.

If I look cold, it's because I was.
About a half mile in I glance at my watch, thinking we are maybe doing 8:45 or so, and I am averaging 8:15. At that point I'm warmed up and begin wondering if maybe I could turn the run into a tempo run since my legs felt okay. The two dudes ended up shooting off leaving me to set my own pace. I made it my goal to maintain around 7:55/mile, the pace I'll need to pace Runs for Cookies at two weeks. I did that pace for four miles and hit: 8:01, 7:45, 7:55, 7:49. Despite some somewhat tired legs still from skiing, the run went well. Definitely more of a challenging pace that it used to be, but still a bit above what my current 10k race pace would be (probably 7:30ish). I slowed down for a cool down the last mile for a total of five miles, but I could have maintained that pace for 6.22 if I had to.

After that run it was two days of rest until Saturday, when I went to run ten miles with Sunstone again. Katie joined the group for the first time, so it was nice to have her there. Early morning long runs still aren't my favorite thing in the world, but I am always glad I did them once I am finished. This one was no different... I didn't necessarily enjoy myself, but it wasn't terrible. It was nice to have company and start the weekend off with something active. I basically did absolutely nothing the rest of Saturday and Sunday, but after Saturday morning, I didn't feel too guilty about it.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

SKIING FUN

The view south from Ridge Run at Mt. Hood Meadows on Saturday. That's Mt. Jefferson 50 miles away.
This weekend was a lot of fun and it didn't involve running. Since it is active, and I really liked it, I'm going to write about it. After the Shamrock Run I didn't run all week because I wanted my legs to heal up and be rested for Saturday, when I was going to go skiing with Katie. She bought two discounted passes at one point a few months ago and we had been waiting for a lull in our running training/races in order to go up to the mountain. Turns out that was this last weekend and it couldn't have been a much better day.

I last went skiing two years ago, so I felt pretty confident in my ability to get back up there. It wasn't the five year gap I had previously. We left at 7am and were at Mt. Hood Meadows by 8:40 or so. I had to rent equipment, so I went and did that while Katie exchanged our voucher for passes. By the time that was complete and we went back to the car to get our gear on it was nearly 9:30. No sweat though, we had an entire day of skiing ahead of us!

Speaking of sweat... it was warm. Definitely spring skiing. The temperature when we started was probably 42 or so and by the end of the day it was something like 48. I was pretty warm in my ski pants and jacket. There were times waiting for a lift in the sun where I nearly overheated. Once I got on a lift or skiing down the mountain though I was just right temperature wise. The snow was pretty good in the morning, but by the afternoon it got a bit sloppy. Still enjoyable to be out there though.

It was a lot of fun! My two favorites runs were the following:
  • From Mt. Hood Express, take Ridge Run to Beaver Tail. I remembered really liking this run last time I was up there and it didn't disappoint. A magical journey through the woods and a couple nice steep hills where you can really get going.
  • From Vista Express, take Vista Ridge. Apparently anything with "ridge" in it is golden. I really like this run, because it is very aptly named. You are skiing right along the ridge of the canyon between Meadows and Timberline. This is also above the timberline, so you feel out in the open, and on a clear day, like the one we had, the views were awesome. Plus, its meanandering nature means you get a lot of bang for your buck in terms of distance.
Like last time I went skiing, I left thinking "that was a lot of fun, I need to do that more often." Now, I'm not going to kid myself into thinking I'll actually do that... but maybe. Before I was pretty concerned about keeping up my running during the winter, but recently, I don't care so much. Winter is pretty dreary on the running front, I've complained about that a lot, so what if I skiied instead? I could still run once or twice a week in the gym so I don't get too out of running shape. I'd need my own equipment ($$$) and a season pass ($$$) to really commit though, so we'll see.

Anyways, to be continued. If I could score some cheap equipment I could potentially see it happening. However, I'd also put the likelihood of me following through well below 50 percent. My legs felt pretty decent up on the mountain and also once I got back. Definitely sore in a few new places on Sunday, but nothing too bad. Katie wore her Garmin during the day so it was fun to see us swish around the mountain on that.