Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Slacker

Determined to start building up my mileage again, I ran my standard easy 5 mile “recovery” route this morning. Nothing special. I was pretty tight over the first three miles, particularly in my shoulders. My hamstrings complained a little, but the calves and feet didn’t give me any trouble. I was able to pick up the pace on the last two miles although I deliberately left my HR monitor at home, so I haven’t a clue how hard I was working. At least the last two miles felt fluid. I should be able to get in 5 days of running this week and start to get back on track.

February was just pathetic. I was still in marathon recovery mode the first week and down with an injury the next two and on the road during the last part of the month (whine, whine, whine). It all totaled to 37 miles, FOR THE MONTH. March will be better.

Here’s to a great month of March for all of you.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Southern Arizona

I spent this weekend in southern Arizona at a soccer camp 10 miles south of the tiny town of Benson Arizona. We brought our soccer team here to help recover some of the conditioning lost while they were off playing High School soccer for the past 2 months. Although it was a busy weekend, I got in one potentially great run on Saturday afternoon. I say potentially, because although the temperature was a perfect 45F (7C) and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky for 100 miles in any direction and I was at the end of 5.5 miles open desert road with no cars, my legs just weren’t up for the task.

The first 2 miles were slightly up hill into a stiff wind at a 9:50/mi pace but I was still feeling OK. After 3.5 miles my right foot started falling asleep, but the feeling subsided after a couple of miles and before I got to the turn around point at 5.6 miles, my foot was feeling pretty good again. Although my pace was around 10:00/mi this was already the longest run since the Marathon in January; but I still had to cover another 5.6 miles to get back to the camp. With the wind at my back, I picked up the pace and was feeling great. I wasn’t moving much faster, but I felt much better.

Reality set in on mile 8. My HR, which had been hovering near 150 for most of the run, crept up to 155 and the body (the 3rd person reference is intentional) shut down. Now you’ve got to picture this. Perfect weather, perfect running surface, beautiful open desert stretching out before me, not a car in sight and I can’t convince my legs to run. They’d walk, but they just wouldn’t run. After a few minutes of walking, I hammered out another 0.4 miles before stopping again. More walking and another 0.25 mile run before shut down. A little more walking and bitching and whining and I gave it one more push. I was still 2+ miles out and didn’t cherish the thought of walking all the way back. However, 220 feet later (as measured by my Garmin), my left calf started to tighten up and I wasn’t going there; so I just took a little 2 mile stroll down a country road. Too bad I can’t whistle, because walking down that road was a perfect American existential moment.

This week I’ll run a few 5 milers and another 8 to 10 miles this coming weekend. I don’t have any more trips planned for a couple of weeks, so the running should be easy. I hope your week goes well.


PICTURES FROM SOUTHERN ARIZONA

My batteries gave out before I could take very many pictures in Benson, but here is a small sample:



This is the soccer camp. The tiny shed on the left is the "bunk house" where the men-folk slept. It's real cozy. The main house has a single room on the 2nd floor (AKA the first floor if you live in Europe) were the girls slept. The women slept down-stairs. There is also a "mess hall" peeking between the trees on the right. The mess hall isn't heated and was a little chilly on Saturday and Sunday morning. Morning lows were 25F (-4C).



This is the San Pedro river, which runs along the eastern edge of the camp. To all of you who don't live on a desert, there isn't anything remarkable about this picture. To those of us in Arizona, it is an amazing pictures. It is one of only a handful of free flowing rivers in the state.



Yes folks, this is grass on a soccer field (football pitch) in Arizona in February. Most of the fields we play on this time of the year are dirt. Cities don't maintain the soccer fields over the winter when the summer grass goes dormant. It is completely contra-intuitive that a city will spend big bucks to build soccer facilities and water and mow all summer when no one is using the fields and then let them go dormant and dry up in the fall, winter and spring when the kids need them, but that's the political mind. The fields at this camp are privately owned and hence they are planted with winter grass during the winter ... oh what a novel concept.



Arizona is the land of SUVs. Guess which car is mine. This camp is 176 miles from my house and I got to drive all the way down and all the way back alone with the top down with my XM Radio blasting commercial free. Ah ... what a feeling.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Summer Simulation

I realize that I said, in a previous post, that I should be able to get in a couple of good runs while I in Redmond this week. Well, I lied. I got cheap and stayed at the Sliver Cloud. It's a perfectly nice hotel and $50/night less than the Marriott I haunt. However, it isn’t as close to the great running trails as the Marriott. I also hitched a ride with one of my colleagues, so I’m without a car. This puts the Sammamish River trail totally out of reach. Plus, my ride was scheduled to pick me up at 6:15 this morning and it was raining this morning, and it was cold, and my dog ate my homework, and …

Anyway, I rolled out of bed at 5:00 AM and got in a 30 minute run on the tread-mill. I had planned on running outside so I only brought my cold weather tops. I so planned to run outside that I even brought two pair of running shoes with me; my new pair to wear if the weather was nice and the next in line if the weather was crappy. But instead I found myself in a poorly ventilated exercise room in the basement of the hotel. After 5 minutes on the treadmill, I was already sweating like the proverbial pig in my long sleeve technical shirt, so I just stripped the thing off ...

This wasn’t a pretty sight. Fortunately at 5AM, I was one of the few people awake in the hotel and certainly the only one nutty enough to be in the exercise room at this hour. Thankfully, no one joined me. I had the tread mill set on a “hill” course so the elevation went up and down for 30 minutes. After the first 5 minutes I increased the pace to 9/mi and just left it there through the “hills”. My HR responded about as you’d expect and by the time I had completed 15 minutes, it was rising to 155 on the “hill” and only settling back down to 150 on the flats. Y’all keep telling me this will get better … OK … I still believe you, but when?

If you get a chance … go wish my buddy Mike good luck. He is running in a 5K in Tucson this weekend and has a great chance of winning the race. He just keeps getting faster. I'll be 10 miles outside of the tiny town of Benson Arizona this weekend and will have no internet coverage, so I won't be posting again until Sunday night or Monday morning. Therefore, I'll wish you all a great weekend tonight.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

日本の料理

I made my way back to Seattle this afternoon. It’s going to be a tough couple of days with lots of issues to deal with, but I should be able to get in a couple of decent runs none-the-less. On the plus side, I think I finally found “my restaurant” in Redmond. In every city I visit, I try to find that one place where I can go by myself when I want to feel comfortable. Tonight I stumbled into a very small Japanese restaurant in Redmond that really had the right feel. The food was tremendous … actually, it was absolutely the best Japanese Cuisine I’ve had since I lived in Los Angeles in the early ‘70s aside from a couple of trips to Tokyo. Just outstanding and the service was authentic. For example, the hostess (who I think was the owner’s wife) simply put a bowl of miso shiru on the table in front of me with no utensils; just assuming I knew what to do. The main course I ordered (rice, tuna roll and California roll) came with the traditional round hashi (chop sticks) and nothing else. My only issue was the amount of wasabi (山葵 ) provided with the meal; however, as soon as I asked for more, she brought me enough of the pungent root to clear my sinuses for a month. This place is a definite repeat.

On the running front, my dog and I got in 4.1 miles this morning at a 9:07/mi average pace. My HR crept up from 135 to 145 over the course of the run and peaked out at 155 climbing a short hill. At least I felt as if I was firing on all cylinders. I’ll continue to push up the mileage slowly, making sure the calf holds up under the strain.

I really appreciate all your comments.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

5K Jog

3.1 miles this morning in the cool damp air. My pace felt much smoother this morning, but I still huffed and puffed my way up the short hill on mile 3. I forgot to put on my HR monitor this morning, so I have no clue how fast my heart was pounding ... but I know I've got a long way to go. Looking through my training calendar from my last training cycle, I think I'll be doing OK if I can get myself up to 30 MPW before the week ending March 4th. That will give me enough time to work my way back to the point where I peaked prior to my last marathon. It should be good.

I'm off to Seattle tomorrow afternoon, so posting may get sporadic. Have a great week.

Monday, February 19, 2007

A weekend of soccer and some running

Sorry for not posting this weekend, but I worked all weekend at my soccer club’s invitational tournament, sharing Field Marshall responsibilities from 7:00AM until 9:00PM both Saturday and Sunday. Our location hosted 32 teams of U14 Girls (under 14 on August 1st 2006) and U15 Girls (under 15 on August 1st 2006) from all over the country. Of the 32 teams playing on our 5 fields, only 9 were from Arizona. The rest were from Utah, Oregon, New Mexico, Northern California, Virginia, New Jersey, Oklahoma, Colorado, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York and Kansas. I had a great time and only had 4 parent issues to deal with on Saturday and one irate team manager to deal with on Sunday.

In addition to working the fields, I also got to watch my daughter’s team play. They are struggling a little as they try to get back in shape after taking two months off to play High School soccer. But they held their own against the state champions from Utah, Oregon and New Mexico with two ties and and a 1 point loss. One of our starting center mid-fielders got hurt 10 minutes into the first game, so my daughter played non-stopped most of the weekend and played as well as I’ve seen her play this season. She even got her first score of the year with a header off a corner kick.

The irony is that she had already decided that this tournament was going to mark the end of her soccer playing at this level. She wasn’t getting enough playing time for the work she was putting in. In addition, she can’t really participate in any High School activity that requires any weekend or night commitments since she is either practicing or playing most nights and weekends. So after the best set of games she has had in a long while, she told her coach that she was resigning from the team effective immediately.

The poor guy was crestfallen. One of his starting center mid-fielders was down with a serious injury and her back up quits the same weekend. It wasn’t his weekend.

I did get in one run this weekend; a slow 3.1 mile run along a high-tension power line corridor directly adjacent the soccer fields. The run wasn’t anything to write home to mom about, averaging a 9:20 pace, but I got it done. I took today off as a recovery day and will begin a normal running schedule on Tuesday; albeit at a lower total mileage level than I’m use to. The calf continues to perform. Now I need to get the rest of body back in shape to handle the stress of marathon training.

Have a great week.

Friday, February 16, 2007

A little further

This morning, I pushed the frontier out to 3.1 miles. My legs felt a lot more fluid and the pace was back near my pre-injury pace; however, my HR hovered around 147 to 150 for most of the run and spike up to 165 climbing a little 100’ hill. I’ve still got a long way to go, but at least the body is out moving again.

This weekend is completely nuts and I probably won’t be able to post again until Monday. Our soccer club’s major tournament is this weekend and the parents on my daughter’s team are hosting a field for the entire weekend. Since I’m the team manager (oh … the power!) I’ll be at the field from 7 AM to 9 PM both Saturday and Sunday. This is a big invitational tournament with 100+ college scouts and teams from every corner of North America and a few from Europe. It should be fun.

Have a great weekend.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Back in the Saddle

With my calf on the mend and no residual pain to be found, I dared to venture out in the cool, damp morning air for (dare I say it) a run. With no particular plan in mind, other than not getting hurt, I started plodding down the street for the first time since January 29th. Yes, it’s been two long torturous weeks since I’ve actually run, so I knew this morning would be tough; and it was. I was prepared to walk if I had to, but I was going to keep moving.

First, there was the matter of just getting out of bed. Oh how that warm bedding enticed me to stay each time I thought about getting up. After sleeping in each morning for two weeks, it was all too easy to just lay back down. But I finally yielded to the Siren’s song and got up, got dressed and got going. The first few steps were tentative. Would the calf hold up or simply collapse again, leaving me to sit crying in the street? Would my hamstrings get cranky and complain about working in the cool (45F) morning air? Or would I simply forget how to run.?

The first few steps did little to allay my fears. Both calves were tight, but not painful. My hamstrings were also tight and let loose with a few twinges as if to let me know that they weren’t having any fun. However, I was moving down the road again! Not fast, mind you, but moving none-the-less.

The first half mile was OK; although, I had forgotten just how fast the cars whiz by on the streets around here. I avoided getting run over during the first 1/2 mile and everything was still feeling good and my calves had both loosened up. At the one mile mark all systems were still go and I decided to forgo walking and kept running at a slow 10:00/mi pace.

Although I was feeling OK, my HR was bouncing between 141 and 145. This wasn’t exactly the feedback I was looking for. I’m out there behaving myself and running at a slow jog but my heart is racing as if I were running a hard tempo. What gives?

I picked up the pace as I made the final turn and headed home. As I brought my pace down under 9:45/mi, my HR responded by shooting up to 151. However, even though my heart was working much harder than it should, I did complete the short run without any soreness and certainly no pain. Tomorrow is another day and I’ll continue to stretch the distance out over the weekend to get back up to at least 5 miles at a time.

Run Summary: 2.2 miles @9:54/mi avg pace

Hope you have a great weekend.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Just another Gym Rat

I’m quickly become a Gym Rat. I walk in through the front door, check in, go up the stairs to the find my favorite elliptical machine, crank up my MP3 player and get the machine moving. Not really much to report. The gym wasn’t crowed at 4PM on a Sunday afternoon. At least the constant Anna Nicole news is dying down and the TVs that line the wall above the elliptical machines had images other than bleached blond hair and silicon enhance breasts (not that I have anything against either … but I’m just looking for a little moderation)

I keep my HR under 130 BPM for the first 30 minutes and then let it rip. As the steepness increased, I increase my cadence from a nice and steady 60-65 RPM up 110-120 RPM. I actually got my HR all the way up to 174 over the next 15 minutes. I finally back off at 45 minutes and let it fall back down to the mid 130s. I haven’t been able to get my HR over 174 since I started paying attention to it last year, so I think this is pretty close to my HRmax. At least it’s higher than the standard 200-AGE formula folks like to use. Don’t know why that makes me feel better. It’s just genetics and it isn’t as if anything I’ve done is impacting it

There was no residual pain or soreness after this work out, but when I massage the calf I can still feel the soreness deep in the calf. It isn’t painful; it just isn’t ready to take the strain of running. Maybe next weekend.

Have a great week.

Friday, February 09, 2007

The 24 Hour Calf Blog

This blog is quickly turning into the “follow the healing calf” report. Perhaps I should strap a GPS receiver to the thing so you can track its progress from home. Things are marginally better today. Most remarkably, I found myself walking down stairs normally without thinking about landing on my left heel instead of my left toe. I still have a little residual soreness, but no acute pain (I think that’s good).

Another hour at LA Fitness on the EFX eliptical machine gave my quads a good workout tonight and kept my heart rate up. Unfortunately the HR monitor on the machine wasn’t picking up the signal from my chest strap so I’m clueless as to the avg HR during the workout; although I think it was pretty high in the last 30 mintues as I increased the inclination to maximum to ensure I got a good workout on my quads.

I did run into a fellow I know casually from work. I haven’t seen him in 6 months, but when he stepped onto the machine next to me I thought I recognized him. Folks sure look different when they’re all hot and sweaty. Anyway, I had someone to talk to during some of the workout. But once he left after the first 30 minutes, I just cranked up the tunes on my MP3 player and kept on churning along. All the TVs in the gym seem to be showing nothing but nauseating pictures of Anna Nicole in an endless loop. I grew weary of this story after the 1st 15 seconds, so I didn’t have much to watch either.

I do make one observation concerning idiosyncratic behavior in Phoenix this evening. As I pulled into my neighborhood with the top down on my Mustang and still wearing only a technical top and shorts, I caught a whiff of the distinctive odor of wood burring in a fire place. It’s 68F (20C) and one of my neighbors finds it necessary to have a fire burning. The pollution in Phoenix is terrible this time of year and this guy (it has to be a guy) has a fire going. What are these people thinking?

The smell of logs burning on a fire when it’s warm enough to wear shorts always reminds me of Richard Nixon (I should have added this to my weird list). There were repeated stories during the Nixon presidency that he’d crank up the refrigeration in the White House during the summer and had the fireplaces lit. I don’t know if this accurate or just another urban myth, but I find myself mumbling, “I’m not a crook” when I pass a house while wearing shorts and notice that they have the fire roaring (perhaps they’ve got extra Christmas chestnuts in need of a good roasting)

Have a great weekend.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

The Calf Report


The right calf continues its slow healing process. I walked 30 minutes yesterday (19:35/mi pace). I even entered it in my running log; every little bit helps. I got back to the gym tonight for another hour on an elliptical machine. Tonight I used a Precor EFX524i elliptical machine for an hour and kept my HR right around 131.

I still have a little residual soreness in the calf, but now that the swelling is under control, I think those of you that thought that I injured the soleus were correct. When I massage the leg, the soreness feels like it is under the gastrocnemius. At any rate, the light exercise and continued light stretching along with continued icing and compression seem to helping move things along. As good as it is doing, I’m being a good boy and keeping to my pledge not to run on it until it is pain free.

Hope your week is going great and to all my friends from the great plains of North America to the Eastern Seaboard … Stay warm.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

6 Things about me

My buddy Lana tagged me with the “weird” list ... but I'm having a real hard time with this one. Most everything I do that makes people’s eyes roll into the back of their heads are considered normal behavior by you folks. Most of you think it's perfectly reasonable to get up at 4:00 AM to squeeze in a 14 miler mid-week before work, or look forward to running over freshly fallen snow, or run through the first light rain in the spring time. Driving 40 miles to make a 6:30AM start for a 5K in 90F heat sounds like fun as does driving 400 miles to run a marathon. And just who in their right-mind documents every flipping mile we run? We do!

But I did manage to come up with a few things that are, if not weird, a little off beat:

• I took a Japanese language class using my brother’s name a SS number. He got an A. He also briefly dated a girl he met in the class. It didn't last. And he and his Professor’s husband got sh!tfaced drunk on Sake at the end of semester party. They were the only two hakujins at the party.
• I hitch-hiked from Long Beach, California to south Georgia on a whim to see my Grandmother. I had no clothes with me other than what I was wearing and only $20 in my pocket at the time (I was 17)
• I still have the first bicycle shoes I bought in 1971. The cleats are nailed onto the bottom. I also have a camera I broke when I dropped it on the cobblestone in Red Square years ago (I’ll get it fixed someday) and a key on a leather lanyard that opened a bike lock I used in High School. I lost the lock in 1974 and the bike was stolen in 1981. I still have the HP-35 Scientific Calculator I bought in 1973. It hasn’t worked since 1980. I also have the slide rules I used during my freshman year at UCLA. I keep them just in case the Smithsonian comes looking for a sample of archaic computing devices.
• I own (and have read) every novel written by Virginia Woolf as well as every novel and some several books of poetry written by Margaret Atwood. This is not exactly traditional guy-lit. In fact, I also have a small library of books about Joan of Arc including Mark Twain’s whimsical ode to Joan (I think I own the only copy). I can tell you where Joan of Arc statues are in several small cities across southern France and I once rented to car while in Paris just to drive to the town where Joan of Arc was capture. I still haven’t a clue why I did this.
• For reasons that were never clear, my best friend from college stopped talking to me in 1985; however, for the next 21 years I continued to send him a Christmas card using his last known address. I never got a card returned as undeliverable. I finally gave up this year.

Paging Doctor Welby

On the calf front, things continue to improve. Although I had trouble walking a at normal speed yesterday, I can now walk normally with only a little tightness on my left calf. I can also get up stairs walking normally, but still can’t (or won’t?) walk down stairs using my left toes. I'll get to the gym again tonight and continue to stretch the calf regularly. In general, I'm satisfied with the progress, but not at all happy that I'm missing out on such great running weather her in Phoenix.

That's all I have concerning running. On a personal note, I had quite a scare last night. Now that the High School soccer sesson is winding down and only kids still playing are on teams in the Hight School State Championship series, club soccer is starting up again. I was at my daughter’s first club soccer practice watching them go through their drills when my daughter came up to me after an hour clutching her throat and complaining that she couldn’t breathe. This isn’t an unusually situation for this time of the year in Phoenix since we are at the front end of spring on the desert; yes, it is spring time in Phoenix, the current temperature is 801F (27C). Although she is prone to exercise induced asthma, a quick shot of albuterol usually knocks it down. Last night was different, her inhaler offered no relief and she still couldn’t breath.

I took her home immediately, thinking she needed no more than a breathing treatment; but she started to hyperventilate on the way home and her hands and feet were feeling all tingly. By the time I got home, my wife was so concerned with her deteriorating condition that we took her the local ER to see if they could get her stabilized quickly.

The triage nurse figured out immediately that this wasn’t a typical asthma attacked since her lungs were clear and her oxygen saturation levels were ok. But she continued to gasp for air. She could see my daughter's throut spaming regularly as my daughter try to gulp down air. In her condition, she was immediately sent back to the a bed in ER and immediately injected with several drugs (don’t remember what they were) to try to get her to relax. These seemed to work at first, but when they decided to give her a steroid laced breathing treatment, her HR shot back up over 130 and the convulsion restart. Over the next couple of hours she did calm down, with the throat spasms only occurring every 5 minutes of so; which was much better than the nearly continuous state she was in when we arrived.

The attending doctor ordered the usual blood work up and a chest and neck extra. Along about mid-night the techs with the portable XRAY machine showed up to take the necessary photos and at 1 AM the attending physician came by to tell us he was a loss for what was causing the spasms. His learned conclusion was “panic attack”.

He must have read the incredulous look my wife and I gave him and ordered a CT Scan to see if he could see any swelling or soft tissue obstruction in her throat. Why he thought a 15 year old girl with no prior history of panic had a spontaneous panicked while practicing a sport she has been playing for 9 years was beyond me, but after 5 hours in the ER, I was willing to wait out one more test. This was a major miscue on our part. In retrospect, we should have accepted the verdict and asked for our walking papers, instead we settled back into our hard molded plastic chairs and begin the CT Scan vigil.

At 2:30 AM, the nurse assigned to our bed went off to find out why we still didn’t have the CT Scan. Moments after she got back my daughter was wheeled off the CT Scan room, where ever that was, and my wife and I wandered over to the hospital’s cafeteria for a coffee and a little conversation to figure out what we were going to do next. Neither of us had any faith that the CT Scan was going to turn up anything. With our coffee in hand, we walked outside to enjoy the coolish night air, only to be driven back inside by the phalanx of smokers standing by the door.

It was probably 2:45 when my daughter’s bed was returned to the little curtained cubicle in the ER and the wait continued. Now all we needed was for the doctor to come back, re-read his prior verdict and let us go home. Shortly after returning from the CT Scan, my daughter finally fell asleep and the spasms all but stopped. At least they were no longer waking her up. Her parents, on the other hand were still wide awake wandering zombie-lie to and froe in front of the tiny space we occupied.

Freedom came our way at 4:00AM. The CT Scan didn’t show anything unusual. She did have a mild sinus infection, which they treated with antibiotics (which delayed our exit another 20 minutes) and other than that, they recommended that she see her regular physician. After a couple of hours at home, my wife took her into to see her pediatrician who figured that she most have had an allergic reaction to something on the field which got the spasms started. We'll continue with the breathing treatments and hope this doesn't repeat. She miss the week of practice.

People practicing emergency medicine have a tough job and the range of people they need to deal with on a nightly basis is amazing. During our 8 hour stint, we shared the room with a homeless meth addict complaining of pain in his hand (who I think was only looking for a place to crash), a women so incredibly overweight that she could not, by her own admission, lay down for fear of suffocation. She was complaining that her knees hurt and amazingly, without any medical training, my diagnosis and recommended course of action matched nearly word for word with those of the doctor attending to her. We had a elderly gentlemen suffering from heart issues and dementia. He didn’t know the correct day, month, or year; although he came close on the month. He almost had the nurse fooled when she asked him to name the current president and he responded with the correct name; a little more probing revealed it was Bush the senior. In addition, we had an assortment of car crash victims, knife wounds and, as the night wore on, numerous children suffering from minor childhood ailments. It was quite the cavalcade.

I don’t know how these folks do this night after night. I certainly would have preferred to get through the process in an hour or two instead of making a night of it, but at least I could pay my co-pay and go home and get some sleep at the end. All those attending to patients will show up again tonight and the circus will continue; with any luck, without me or my family.

Have a great week..

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Calf Update

I didn't get to see my ortho guy on Friday, but the calf seems to be responding well to the traditional RICE approach. I can walk slowing at a normal gait and walk upstairs carefully without pain. Walking downstairs is still problematic.

Since I’m nowhere near running on the calf, I got in an hour on the elliptical machine at my gym on Saturday and another hour on Sunday. I kept my HR right around 120 (70% HRmax) both days. I also reversed direction every 10 minutes and, parenthetically, conclusively demonstrated that the elliptical machine does nothing for your calf muscles. After each hour of aerobic exercise, I had no soreness in the calf area at all. Since I was at the gym, I also got in a 4x20 set of leg extensions both days to start to do something about building up my quads.

I appreciate all the comments you left over the weekend. Each of you gave me something to think about and really helped me move forward. My biggest concern at the moment is WHY. I can deal with the recuperation time (that doesn’t mean I like it), but how do I prevent this from happening again? I noticed that I have the same soreness on the right calf up near the medial head of the gastrocnemius; which may imply that the right side is every bit as weak as the left that pulled. After all, it’s pretty weird for someone to tear a muscle stepping off a landing. It wasn’t like I was out playing basketball or volleyball or something else where I was jumping up or landing on my toes. I was just stepping off a landing onto the first step in a standard household staircase.

For now, I’ll continue with my active therapy (using the elliptical machine) and light stretching. At this rate, I should be able to start walking again this week sometime. I won’t even try to run on it until the pain is completely gone.

Thanks again, you’ve been great. Have a wonderful week running.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Calf Strain

You are not going to believe this. I don't believe this. I'm sort of under the weather today, so I'm working from home so as not to expose anyone in my office to my head cold. What could be safer than working at home? Around noonish, my stomach started growling, so I headed downstairs in search of nourishment.

I step off the landing onto the top step leading with my left foot. Immediately after my toes touched the stair and I started applying pressure, I felt a searing pain deep in my left calf. First thought: "This can't be good”. I hobbled down to the landing and sat there for a while massaging my aching calf. 4 hours later, it’s still hurting. I’ve been through two icing cycles and I’m keeping it elevated, but I can’t rise up on my left toes nor can I walk without dragging my left foot behind me.

This is definitely muscle related. It’s way too high to be my Achilles tendon (I think) and the pain is isolated to a thick calf muscle running up the inside of the lower leg. In the picture below, the specific muscle involved is between my two fingers.

OK … what did I do and what do I do next, beyond rest, ice, compress and elevate? I could use some sagacious advice.

Swan Song in South Bend

Today was my last day in South Bend. I was up rather late last night working and, as a result, rolled out of bed later than expected. Peaking through the curtains, it was evident that the snow fall had continued throughout most of the night and after sticking my head out the door I could tell that the temperature was much lower than yesterday; probably something close to 10F (-12C). Since I had left my hat at home, I didn’t think it wise to try a 5 miler in the dark pre-dawn sky sans chapeau. However, as I slogged my way through the fresh snow while walking over the hotel’s main building (home of the exercise room), I immediately regretted not bringing a hat, for the snow had that squeaky crunch crunch crunch sound you can only get from fresh snow under your feet. A run through this would have been memorable; oh well, perhaps in my next life.

I found the exercise room and stripped off my gloves, jacket, sweat shirt and sweat pants and hopped on the treadmill. For reasons I never figured out, I couldn’t reset this old treadmill. After screwing around with it for a few minutes, I gave up and just crank up the speed and started the run with 3.1 showing in the distance display. I didn’t pay attention to pace the first mile and simply kept my HR at 125 (trying to follow Ewen’s sage advice). Looking down at my watch at 1 mile, I was shocked to see 12:18. I was barely walking and my pulse was racing at 71% max. At this rate, I wouldn’t get through 5 miles within an hour and I didn’t have a hour to spend screwing around in the basement of this hotel. Hence, I pushed up the speed a couple of notches and continued on, convinced I was now plodding along at a more reasonable pace.

My HR increased to 131 but I had barely increased the pace; completing the second mile in 10:34/mi. So let’s see, 76% max HR = 10:34/mi pace! If I’m going to run at this speed, I’ve really got to learn how to do it comfortably. My shins were starting to hurt from all the pounding and I’d been on this bloody machine for 23 minutes and only complete 2 miles. I didn’t have all day to get finished with this run. I still had to get to work and finish the day before returning to Phoenix. So I threw caution to the wind and cranked the speed up again.

Bang, bang, bang, bang, bang (I don’t know how D runs so many quality miles on a treadmill). I ran mile 3 in 9:52 … I was on fire now! My HR held steady at 141 through most of this mile; disappointing, but that what it was. I think Ewen would label this a grey run.

Within a minute of passing mile 3, the infernal machine turned itself off. I frantically pounded on the start button trying to get it moving again, but I had to let it come to a complete stop before it would respond (I HATE THESE THINGS). But by this time, neither my heart nor my head was in this “run”. I stepped off, put my sweats on and went upstairs for breakfast.

I’ll be back in Phoenix on Thursday and will try to get the body moving again on Friday. I hear that it’s been raining solid for the past few days in Phoenix, perhaps I can get in my first raining day run of the year on Friday. One can only dream.

Have a great week.