Wednesday, March 27, 2013

PatellaGate - Volume II

Nothing much to report on.  Over the last two weeks all I've done is partake in minor physical therapy which essentially consists of him taping my knee cap in proper location/position, tons of stretching, some elliptical "running" (screw that!), icing, Vitamin "I" (rotting out my insides--gotta get off that shit soon), and a bunch of feeble old man exercises for hip abductors and inner quads.

I've tried running slowly three different times.  Wish I could say I'm improving.  In fact, each attempt ends earlier and earlier.  Yesterday, my knee felt totally fine all day. For the first time since this shituation began, no pain, no tightness, no popping/cracking, no pulling,etc.  Excited, I raced home to stretch, and run.  I lasted about 75 meters before I had to quit--easily my most pathetic attempt so far and the pain came bursting back in full force.

I guess the bright side is that the pain isn't ALWAYS there anymore.  For the most part, its usually only when I try running.  Maybe things are looking up?

One really odd side effect is that I'm no longer tired.  When running, I pass out on weeknights by 2100 at the latest.  Now I'm wide awake past 2200 with ease, lying in bed staring at the darkened ceiling.  My wife pointed out, quite astutely, that I just have too much energy now.  Easy to stay awake when you don't run 30 miles in a weekend.

Definitely getting fatter by the second....

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Patella Gate - Volume I


Not sure where to start.  Obviously I haven't posted in a little while.  Not even sure how to log onto Strava anymore.  New shoes--nearly unused.  New space watch- barely used.  Pretty sucky.

After resting, icing and stretching for over a week with no signs of improvement (and two different "undocumented" run attempts - 0.25miles and 0.13miles) I finally broke down and went to physical therapy, and my high deductible insurance makes that shit a last resort.  The good news: what I'm dealing with is not major, i.e. partial tears.  Bad news: my knee fucking hurts, is swollen, and I can't run.

The trip to the PT on Wednesday (Happy Spring, Bitches!!) was interesting and much more low key, and humbling than I thought.  After ten minutes on the table he was smiling and laughing at me.  The conversation went something like this (forgive my paraphrasing):

HIM: "So, the good news is, it is NOT your tight hip flexors like you thought.  They're actually not that bad at all.  Your patella is loose and all over the place, clicking around but it is not your hip flexors."

ME: "So, what is it?"

HIM: "Well, your quads I can tell have probably taken a beating recently.  They're a bit tighter than they should be.  Obviously quad tightness and fatigue can lead to troubles directly with your knees."

ME: "Oh......AND?"

HIM: "Uh...are into stretching? Ya know, pre and post run at all?"

ME: "Um....a tiny bit. Not too much......[awkward pause]...OK, not really at all."

HIM: "Uh, yeah.  Your hamstrings are"

ME: "Oh."

He then went on to explain (in a very non-condescending manner) how tight hamstrings overstress quads and can lead to caving of the legs and thus incorrect tracking of the patella. Think a 75 degree angle track vs 90 up and down.  Gave me exercises and ....UGH ...stretches, along with repeat visits.

Today I had my second session (after shaving my left knee and surrounding leg down to the smoothness of a baby's ass), and he taped my knee and had me run easy on the treadmill.  Only a mile (and painfully slow--9:30 pace!) but he immediately began laughing at me and my "knee cave".  It appears that, in addition to stretching, my hip abduction is pathetic,  I'm a softy in some core/stabilizing muscles.  Damn, and here I was thinking that I was Mr. Big D-Swingin' In The Breeze.I was perplexed and angry and inquired as to how I could run for 10 years w/o a problem.  He proceeded to ask me how many times I could bang my head against the wall before it hurt/I had a problem.  I see....I got ya....touchez mon ami.  

Where does that leave me?  Well, depressed, losing fitness, and getting fat I guess.

He wants me, with taped knee, to continue easy short runs (2-4 miles) if I'm able to (read: as long as it doesn't hurt), continue stretching, icing and vitamin Iing (a verb?) along with repeated 2-4 day tapings.  I got to do an additional mile when I got home from PT and although it didn't kill, it still hurts.  The physical therapist still wants/truly thinks that I can run Boston but he told me I have to reign in expectations.  He said that 2:47 is completely out of the question and I should be looking at more along the lines of a 3:30-3:45 or so. Sorry, pal but I just don't think I can do that. If I can, do I run it at 3.5 hours plus just to "say" I did it?  Or do I wait and save it for another year (and consequently choke down that big, throbbing, rock hard entry fee $$$$$$$$$$$$)?  Have to wait and see. 

And as for all of you other runners and your running bliss, sorry, but I can't do this.   Don't mistake me--I'm really happy and excited for all of you but I absolutely can't handle "watching" you guys keep doing what I need/want/have to do.  Blogs and Strava are totally unbearable. The season of fruition is upon us with warming spring weather around the corner.  We should be reaping the rewards of dark, winter runs and workouts.  Missing running (REAL running) blows.  I didn't think it would ever be a problem, a serious problem, but it really is.  When others were hurt (i.e. Tommy FiveK) I simply thought "Oh man, that sucks.  He'll be fine though" and let it go, without really giving it a second thought.  I've never been hurt before.  Granted, there have been little "injuries" over the years but I've never been "HURT" hurt before.  This is absolutely life altering, soul crushing, and utterly devastating.  I know what you're thinking--put it in perspective wimp.  Losing a child or spouse, nuclear Armageddon, cancer, having the church rule the country, people not "believing in" evolution,  etc.--THOSE are the real  problems that would kill my universe.  I couldn't agree more with the perspective thing but this is my immediate problem. Running........... I need it.  I want it. And I can't have it.

As such, I'll continue to lurk and cheer you guys.  I'll see you at Big River 1/2 this weekend where I'll taunt you.  Also of note, this is not a pity party either.  I'm not looking for sympathy so don't do that! I'm really trying to maintain a positive attitude to the best of my cynical, sarcastic abilities.  In fact, my sarcasm has always been monumental but it's getting so beastly that I'm now starting to have a hard time telling if I'm serious or not sometimes. 

"I am not a pussy."
Just know that I'm gonna be underground for a little while. 

I'm out. But I'll be back.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

MMXIII - Week 11

MON.- 8mi. -- legs were'nt too sore but really run down.  I was in a really pissy mood from school and set out for 5-7 miles.  Plan was to leave home, run down to Grills Sanctuary and return home in a loop.  For the first two miles, for some awesome reason, space watch couldn't "find me" accurately.  It claimed I was running 10:00 pace.  Out of anger I kept picking up the pace.  Around mile 3, (just before woods/trails) my left knee started to hurt and ache again.  I played in the woods (where somehow I managed to run a 10:00+ mile--absolutely NOT true!!) for awhile as the pain kept increasing.  I had no option but to keep running home.  Sure my gait was rather interesting looking.  When I got home, Strava adjusted/corrected the stats, embarrassingly so: my first two miles were sub 7 (oops) and the rest were low to mid 7:00.  Damn! How did I allow myself to behave so stupidly? Two lesson's learned:

1. don't EVER "race the space"(watch) unless during a race or hard workout.
2. after a race, don't even run with a watch for at least a couple of days, especially if running "angry".

TUE.-0mi. -- obviously.  Now sitting upstairs, coming down off a high (post-race) like a heroin junky.  Depressed.  Aches. Pains. Angry.  Searching/dreaming of my next fix.  To add fuel to the fire, just checked out my statistics on RI retirement (age, estimated amounts, etc.).   Another kick in the nuts.  When it rains it fucking pours man......

WED.-1mi. -- barefoot in the wet, muddy grass of Crandall Field.  Just to see.  Maybe. Hopefully. No way.  Maybe this weekend? At least hordes of Wood Frogs are humping like crazy in the vernal quagmire behind my house. [8:08]

THU.-0mi. -- I've actually resorted to stretching (I usually NEVER do that).  Pretty sure I'm in pain due to tightness in hip flexor (after tough races and/or long workouts).  Apparently there is a strong link between HF tightness and patella rotation over leg bones/joint .....blah, blah, blah....translation: knee cap pain.  Hope stretching, massinging, and icing help.

FRI.-0mi.-- another day, another goose egg.  More stretching.  May or may not be improving.  At least a new pair of shoes did arrive via UPS.  Not a huge Brooks fan but these were so cheap I couldn't pass up the offer.


SUN.- 1mi.  -- slow and easy from my parents' house.  No go again.  This is getting really frustrating.

-->stretching seems to help but then for no reason (simply standing there, sitting in a chair, walking, anything), knee will hurt again.  Almost feels like there is a bubble behind knee cap and I need to "crack/pop" it. 

Fitness may be slowly fading away, just like low time goals for Boston.

Monday, March 11, 2013

2013 Ocean's Run Half Marathon

This was the second time that I had the chance to run the Ocean's Run Half Marathon.  Having it in March instead of September as in years past was a nice change of pace.  Its movement to this time of year placed it perfectly in line with marathon training and a suitable projection/test of any fitness gained from training (or lost to drinking and eating).

I arrived super early Mike to find a pretty chilly, overcast atmosphere. Where the hell was the sun and beautiful weather the moronologists had forecast?!?!  We stayed layered up and strolled around to stay (slightly) warm.  Once Jeff and Seth arrived we headed out for a short warmup, after which I tacked on several strides to stay loose and warm.  Being a notorious sweathog/over heater, I stripped down to the bare essentials (singlet, shorts, and gloves) and snuck in a few more strides from the line.  After what seemed like a long, drawn out morning, we crowded in at the front of the start and the director sent us on our way. 

I settled into a decent projected pace and about 4th or 5th place.  On the way out (past the Ocean Mist), I was able to pass a few guys and move into 3rd.  Mike, running "easily", opened a big lead and continued to increase it throughout the race.  The first mile markers were considerably off (short) so I ignored/stopped worrying about splits and let the space watch do its thing.  We looped back around and I was still feeling good -- perfect pace, perfect legs/stride, perfect breathing.  As we looped back past the O-Mist, another runner snuck up on me and blew past easily.  He looked solid.  I tried to stick with him but he continually pulled away with ease.  As we approached the mile 4 marker, I panicked when I had a momentary lapse of reason.  I thought it was the mile 5 marker, (hence my creeping sense of leg fatigue and tightness)!  Oh well.  Suck it up and go.

I settled in as we cruised along Matunuck Schoolhouse Road, through open fields and barely any traffic (nice).  Although periodic glances at my watch showed my pace was right where I wanted it, I watched the 2nd & 3rd place guys open up a slightly bigger lead on me (about 22 seconds or so based upon telephone pole estimation).  A decision was made at that point: "Screw it, run your own race!  Don't worry about racing them.  Probably won't catch them anyway. Race yourself!"

At mile 7 I began pushing the pace a little to put some distance on the footsteps closing behind me.  I managed to drop him(?) as we "climbed" Green Hill.  It was fun cruising back down the other side and turning them over.  Surprisingly, I began to feel slightly better because of it.  Even when we turned back out onto Green Hill Beach Rd. to loop back up along the course, (into wind again), I still managed to feel alright.

Just before mile 10 I realized that the younger 3rd place guy had overtaken the older 2nd place guy and, perhaps I too was closing a little on him.  I mentally tried to remain consistent in effort, if not pace, and close the gap.  With a 5K to go, there was still a lot of time to get him and move into 3rd (and win a whopping $25).  The chase was on and I kept closing, picking up the pace.  Sometime during mile 12 I passed him and focused on not only gapping him the best I could but also trying to hang on.  The ol' legs were starting to rig up slightly and the 13 mile marker couldn't come fast enough!

The race ends over a bumpy, grassy track through a hay field.  I didn't risk glancing back to see 4th place.  I just kept working.  Crossed the line in 1:17:49, 3rd OA and a significant PR.  Jeff finished soon after along with Seth.  We passed Mike C out on our cooldown at around the 12.5 mile mark. Neither one of the previously mentioned runner looked like the were struggling at all at the end of the race. Don't believe what they tell you--plenty left in the tank for both of them!! Best part overall: PRs for all on WTAC! Full race results here.

While out on a 4+ mile cooldown we raided some of the remaining crackers and water at one of the stations along the course (after the course officials assured us it was ok).  Good times chatting and pigging out on AMAZING pizza afterwards.  The icing on the cake: a few beers at the Mist afterwards too in the salty sunshine!  Doesn't get much better than that.

The numbers/My splits:

Miscellaneous Observations:
 --I'm really pleased that I ran better the final few miles!  Final 10K was not quite at 10K race pace but close.

--WTAC represented once again.  So fun racing with the team.

--Legs were fried on the cool down and I was freezing but I'm still convinced wholeheartedly as to the necessity of a decent warm/cool down to help with recovery.

--Part of our cooldown was with a runner (fast looking) from Somerville Road Runners.  I asked him if he was familiar with Level Renner.  He was (obviously).  Really awesome knowing that the contagion is spreading like wildfire.

--Good race.  Running completes me.  Heres to miles and miles and miles to come (hopefully) with running friends/teammates!

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

MMXIII - Week 10

MON.- 3.5 mi.  -- slow and easy shuffly.  Legs weren't too sore (thanks to yesterday's afternoon 2 miler with Mason?), just really, really tired/zapped with no juice.  To be expected the day after a marathon I suppose. [26:33]

Food: $89.88  Beer:$93:25....oops! 
TUE.- 4.5mi.  -- easy run with WTAC before we pigged out at the Mews with our victory spoils.  I'm a little worried now.  At school I "fell" (missed) the last two stairs in descending from 2nd to 1st floor.  Landed hard on left heel and immediately my knee felt "locked" and sore.  It really bothered me considerably on the run with the guys.  I don't want to zero this week but afraid now I may have to.  Rest (and zeroes) are better than small mileage and pain.  Some anecdotal data: we did manage to drink more than we ate.  I'm not sure if I'm proud of that or disgusted. Sorry to my WTAC teammates for being such a lush. I should've/tried to pay more $. Just as with running, you continue to support my habits & addictions, you terrible enablers  I then proceeded to attend an interesting lecture when I got home on beer drinking and its detrimental effects (Keynote Speaker: my wife).  Either way, hope my knee is nothing significant. [untimed?]

WED.- 0mi --  potential for withdrawal symptoms (running, not ethanol)?

THU.- 0mi. -- awesome.

FRI.-7mi.  - good 5 miler at sub 7 pace to test out new Space Watch (Garmin 210) and rested patella and associated ligaments.  Followed up with an easy 2 mile cooldown with Mason.  Knee felt good.  So happy. [52:13]

SAT.-5mi.  - beautiful, sunny run in Grills Preserve.  Felt kind of clunky though. Good fun (but left early) at Jonny  & The F-Bombs fundraiser. You don't know Jonny's "other side" (click below to find out more). [39:10]

SUN.- 19.5 mi.  - Ocean's Run 1/2 Marathon.  Great day.  3rd OA (1:17:47).  Big PR.  Everyone from WTAC PR'd.  Ocean Mist afterward as a mini reward. In depth analysis to come.

I like beer but I'm not THAT fat!
-->Really pleased by my performance (and everyone's) at Ocean Run 1/2.  Surpassed my expectations by over 1:00.  Two weeks coming up need to focus on a midweek hardish effort (longer distances at expected MP along with 20-22 milers).  Boston is neigh.....