Friday, December 27, 2013

My Limit (For Now)

I'm getting a little more flexible.
After a ridiculous amount of stretching, pathetic attempts at yoga, beer, and some varied runs (almost in a controlled investigation manner), I've come to the conclusion that I am indeed improving. I'm happy for obvious reasons and although some of the signs point to lost fitness I know it's going to all be ok.

Essentially I've been waiting to see how my knee feels each day before deciding what to do.  If it is tight, creaky, popping & locking(ish) then no running.  If it feels loose, especially after mucho stretching, then I can run.  Every other day or 1x every three days seems to be the order of the day. Based on some shorter runs (4-5 miles?) and a little bit longerish (8+ miles, long for me now), I've realized that four miles is absolutely my limit before discomfort sets in, no matter what.  I was really curious if it was also related to up and down/terrain or if it was solely due to time on feet and the distance itself.  Time for some investigating.

On Christmas eve morning, I met up with Jonny, Gazelle, Chris G, Mike B, Nate, and Sean at Grills Sanctuary in Ashaway for an hour or so of varied trail running.  On a slightly related side note, that is way too many legitimate first names to be using--my goal is to come up with descriptive nicknames for at least some of them. The only requirement is that I run with them more to be able to fairly develop accurate monikers.  A reasonable goal for 2014....Anyway, it came as no surprise when, approximately 4-5 miles into the run I began feeling the sliding, clicking, annoyingness in my knee.  This further reiterated that the distance/time is indeed a factor. Overall, it was still fun.

Yesterday, I decided to see what would happen if I ran on completely flat ground.  I opted for CHS track and cross country trail.  In addition, I hoped to see what would happen if I pushed it a little bit for a few shorties.  After a warm up I was able to timidly run 2 x 200, 2 x 400, 2 x 200.  I was happy to see that I felt good, at least my knee did anyway, for the first set of 200s and the 400s.  Unfortunately, at mile 4 mark, for the second 200s, my knee started to get all sketchy.  Splits: 38, 37, 75, 75, 35, 36.  Times were not that bad but I forgot what it was like to work for it--it's been almost two months since track action!  My wife informed me I'm  "a f*$#ing idiot" for trying to run hard(ish) on the track.  Whatever.....More importantly, I was able to conclude that it is indeed the distance/time vs terrain for the most part. Important findings.
For real......

I was also able to go yesterday afternoon for a follow up visit with the doc and some dexamethasone sodium phosphate ultrasonic phonophoresis.  Sounds fancy but it is really just anti-inflammatory steroid administered via ultrasonic medium vs injected.  To me, the name makes it sound like an opiate drug but fortunately, it's not. 

 The guy was able to state with surety that:
- stretching is helping--my flexibility is indeed improving
- I need more hip stretching and mobility
- the 4 mile thing is due to friction and inflammation: fine at first but keep rubbing and stuff gets irritated
- I should still stay away from a great deal of downhill/descents for the immediate future until everything is totally better

So, things are looking up.  When I rise each morning I'll continue playing the tentative "what does it feel like today" game.  I shall keep running every other day, stretching, doing boring strengthening drills, and trying not to get too gross and blubbery.

And pondering names for some of my WTAC brethren.......

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Vestigial Structures Are For Suckers

After three separate rescheduling events, I finally got to see Dr. Coppes at South County Orthopedics this afternoon.  The appointment was for 1300 so rather than take a half a day, I opted to institute one of my 119 sick days (ridiculous!!) that I've accumulated over the years.  So stupid!  I figured I would be able to squeeze in a run and get a great deal of grading out of the way.  Much to my chagrin, as I was lacing up to head out the door for an easy 3-5 miler, my wife jangled her car keys in my face and informed me she had to leave for her final exam several hours early--for "study time".  Apparently a house full of three yelling and fighting spawn is not conducive to studying. 

As a result, I packed up Layla and did the only other option--"free" daycare at the Y.  Unfortunately, this meant I had to run on a treadmill.   Ugh!  Although I had not forgotten how awful and boring they were, I did forget how easy they are to run on.  What feels like 8:30 pace is actually 7:35.Thanks Mr. Treadmill for doing some of the work for me!  I got to squeeze in 4 miles in the time allotted for exercise and showering before my daughter began dominating the Kids Corner/play area (champions cannot be stopped, only temporarily contained!).  I got bored after the first mile (7:35) so upped it to 7:05 for mile 2. The final two miles were at 6:40 pace and luckily, I felt no pain or discomfort.  Although, my legs did get tired slightly, I suppose due to my rather sedentary lifestyle for the last 35 days.  I won't win any races with effort/times like that but it did feel good to run easy and smooth though.  Now it is just a waiting game to see if I develop any stiffness later today or tonight.  Fingers crossed. 

A brief synopsis of doctor's appointment is as follows:
1. X ray - looks perfectly fine
2. Doctor Digit Drills and Diagnosis - definitely not ligaments or meniscus. Have cracking plica (vestigial synovial folds) that are irritated and catching on femur
3. Lie Back and Lift Legs -- (with a look of disgust): "Stop right there.  Look at how inflexible you are.  I could play a banjo on your hamstrings.  You should be embarrassed by this." (or something along those lines).
So apparently, (as suspected), I tweaked it due to weak and overly tight muscles. I'll totally admit my hamstrings blow but I find it hard to believe that my quads are weak and pathetic.  Whatever the case, it looks like I'm slowly getting better in that I can run a little bit.  I no longer have the old man debilitating arthritic locking of my knee. At most, I occasionally have a small ache on/behind upper medial portion of my patella.  It has been 5 weeks since I "injured it" and all signs point to improvement. He told me to hold off on running for at least a month, but what does he know?  Just because you have the letters "M" and "D" after your name doesn't make you the smartest person in the room (although, during today's visit he obviously was).  I'll run a little (3 times a week?) and have to spend time with strengthening drills and a huge amount of boring-ass stretching.  Maybe even some stupid biking and cardio stuff at the Y (is doggie paddling good for you?)  It looks as though, for now at least, I'm going to have to settle for the every other day plan or even three day plan (run-off-off) for shorter distances.

Oh well--just like with pizza, beer, sex, fishing, and everything else that is enjoyable , you just have to enjoy what you can get when you can get. 

Friday, December 6, 2013

Bleeding Me

Today on the way home from a long day of work filled with apathetic, lazy students that just don't get how amazing biology is, I pulled up some old songs on the iphone (plugged into truck stereo) that I hadn't listened to in years.    During the epoch known as adolescence, as Jonny can attest (thanks for tuning my guitar all those years), I was a pretty big Metallica fan.  "And Justice For All", "Master of Puppets", and "Ride The Lightning" were always in rotation (on my tape deck--yeah that's right....TAPES).  Alas, now as I've aged and matured, and so have Metallica, I have to admit, they're newer stuff is unlistenable.  They're awful.  However, as I listened to the song "Bleeding Me" on my short commute home, I actually laughed out loud, as I Spinal Tapped it to "11".  The slow grinding riffs and somber overtones of the song are easy and not musically talented yet can easily become stuck in one's head.  It's simple lyrics, although totally monotonous, fit my current status right now. 

My recent  issues have prevented me from doing what I want to do most of all (besides fishing).  The overall pain has subsided and I've been able to run here and there, 3-4 miles at a time, albeit off the "Strava Grid".  Unfortunately, on a longerish run in the woods last weekend with WTACers, I realized that anything over 4-5 miles causes me pain again.  I'm getting better (I think) but not as fast as I'd like.  I've gone two spans of time with zero running which although nowhere near enough cumulative time off, has still been pretty crappy.

So this "shituation" parallels quite nicely the lyrics of this cheesy, woe is me metal ballad. Case in point:

"I'm diggin' my way to something better"
 .........indeed I am.  I want to be better. I'm still running a little and I want to return back to and stay normal.

"I'm sowin' the seeds I take for granted"
......who among us doesn't take running for granted?  All of you do, and so do I.

"This thorn in my side is from the tree I've planted"
.....this is pretty much my fault.  I did it to myself and now have to pay the price.

"Can't stop to save my soul, I take the leash that's leading me"
....obvious. So hard to stop.

Metallica sucks and so does my knee. least it's Friday.

I have an appointment with South County Orthopedics next Friday.  I'm positive it's not a ligament nor meniscus problem.  Just hope it is not articular cartilage related--with its limited to non-existent blood flow that sh*t doesn't heal. That's just a stroll down an old age pathway that I wish not to venture. Why don't Gazelles age?

On the bright side,  I was able to score a spear gun from an old college acquaintance for free.  He was going to throw it out and I like to shoot tautog and stripers so I jumped on it.  Traded him a 12 pack of pale ale for it. Who needs American currency or Bitcoins when you have good ol' fashioned bartering? I can't use two guns at the same time so anyone want to come murder  osteichthyes with me this summer?

Speaking of libations, I still like beer and food and am getting fatter by the day. +6lbs and counting.

What's your favorite Metallica song?