Saturday, December 22, 2007

Year-end reflection

Well, this year has been a complete suckfest, and I don't mean that in the good way. In February, I twisted my ankle over hard, and have been in an ankle brace ever since. At various points during the year, I have injured my gastrocnemius, my hamstrings, my quads, my back, and a groin muscle (this last one was the most tragic, coming as it did less than two weeks before my anniversary).

The most recent injury was to the tendon that comes out of the back of my knee into the gastrocnemius. The injury happened at work – I was stepping down off a step, and felt something snap just below the back of my knee. As it turns out, it was just a hyperextension of the tendon, and I'm off running for a couple of weeks.

Now, I'm just sitting around gaining weight while I wait to be able to start running again. I'm doing stretching and some heat treatment, while taking Tylenol. I can't take ibuprofen any more, due to the unfortunate effect it has on my stomach.

Sometime after the first of the year, I'm going to start running again. Meanwhile, I'll just reflect on the past year and try to think of ways to avoid injuries.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Maybe I'm ready

Maybe I'm ready to start running again. Yesterday morning, I went out out the bus on my way to work (I live almost across the street from the first stop on the route, so the bus pulls in and waits a few minutes). I was about one bus-length behind the bus when the driver pulled away. Without really thinking about it, I took off after it. The next stop is about a quarter-mile away, and the driver has to go around an intersection of three roads -- a right turn, then a quick left. I was less than a hundred yards away from the stop when he went through. If he'd had a red light, I would have caught him. My back didn't give me any trouble all day after that.

Today, I'm going to get out to the bus a little earlier.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

More ouch

You never really realize how much your back does until it can't anymore.

It's been a few weeks without running, and I'm frustrated. I was doing well, probably on track to have one of the better (age-weighted) years of my career, despite an ankle sprain, when my back injury sidelined me completely. I've tried to gt out and run a couple of times, but shortly after starting, I realized that it wouldn't be a good idea. I missed my favorite races--the summer cross-country series at Cobb's Hill, my high school home course.

Winter will be my base-building season again. As soon as I can, I'm back on the road.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007


Well, chalk another one up to old age. Over the weekend, I hurt my back. I was standing for several hours, and the muscles in my lower back did not like that. Now I am having a little bit of trouble with them. I'm taking it fairly easy rght now, since backs are easy to injure seriously, and I don't want that. This just isn';t my year, I guess.

Monday, July 09, 2007

How I Spent My Summer Vacation

Actually, how I came to have a several-month-long layoff from running.

It was over the winter, and there was just a little bit of snow falling. About an inch had already accumulated, and we were expecting a little more during the day. I had just finished my morning run and was about a quarter-mile from home. As I began my cooldown jog, I stepped on the edge of the sidewalk, with the outer half of my foot unsupported by the concrete. The ankle twisted over, hard, and I went down onto the ground. I jumped back up, quickly, to test the ankle, because it already hurt quite a bit, and this was the ankle I'd injured in College Cross-Country. It wasn't up to the task of supporting any weight at all--I had to hold on to a street sign in order to remain upright. A snowplow driver, working in the school parking lot across the street spotted me and drove over, to offer me a ride back home. I thanked him as he dropped me off and I hobbled up the driveway to my door. Later on, I wished (and I still do) that I'd done something for him, or at least offered him something--even a cup of coffee, but at the time, my ankle, in which the pain had ebbed from white-hot knives to only red-hot knives, was causing me so much difficulty, that all I could think about was getting into the house and getting some ice on it. Rest, Ice, Elevation, Ibuprofen. Well, when you work at a desk 8 to 5, 5 days a week the first three are difficult to maintain. When your wife works from 7:30 to 10:30 every night (we need her orthodontic insurance) it makes it difficult to maintain the regimen of rest, ice and elevation while you are making sure the kids are dong their homework and washing the dishes. If I had, say, a servant, who could do these things for me, I might have been back up and around in a few weeks. But as it was, I have had a great deal of difficulty healing.

On another note, I didn't run today. I got up at 4:40 and started to get dressed, and then I noticed that I was feeling a little bit lightheaded. I remembered going to see a movie with my wife the night before (date night!) and realized that we'd gotten home right around midnight. I was operating on 4 hours of sleep. Now, when I was in my 20s, I used to do that regularly, but now I'm an old man, and I hate everything but Matlock.

I couldn't get out for a run this afternoon, because Declan had a soccer game, and I had to get him to it. Only nine kids on his team made it for the beginning of the game, with a tenth showing up partway through the game. The other team had a full complement, with a couple of substitutions available. Declan's team (the Lancers) lost 2-1, but they put up a good fight. I did get in a little bit of running, as I had to be the linesman. So, maybe 4 or 5 hundred yards today, varying between a sprint and a lope.

(Obviously, I've fixed my margin problems)

Saturday, July 07, 2007


I've heard lots of people disparaging running (and exercise in general for that matter) saying that they've "never seen a runner who looked happy."

Here's one:

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OK, not everybody is a winner of the World Cross-Country Championships, but we can all know the feeling of triumph at the end of a particularly good run. Here's a picture of me back in college at the end of a particularly good race:

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I don't think I look particularly happy, but in the immortal words of David Byrne: "People in ecstasy look stupid."

Hot weather

When I left on my run this morning, the temperature was about 68°. It was nice, not too much humidity, and the sun was shining. but not too intense.

By the time I finished, the sun was intense and the temperature was almost 75°. It took only 36 minutes for that to happen.

I'll have to get up earlier tomorrow and see if I can get out before the heat starts. Lots of people out today, including a contingent from the local high school cross-country team. About 5 or 6 of them were finishing up at the same time I was.

My ankle feels good today, no pain, even after the run. The swelling has gone down (although I've always had puffy feet).

I was almost killed out there. Well, maybe not almost killed, but there was a bit of a hazard. I was crossing an intersection, the light was green for me, and some guy turning right on red didn't bother looking right, or even coming to a complete stop, before going. I had to dodge his car and I yelled "Watch out!" at which point he slammed on the brakes and apologized.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

A race

I entered a race this morning. I couldn't help it--the start was 200m from my house, and the finish was across the street. I strapped on the ankle brace and lined up with the others.

I had a pretty good day -- I finished in 20:39 for a 5k, which is around 6:40 pace. I still think I can take off a minute or a minute and a half this year from that 5k time. I finished 53rd overall, out of what looked to be around 250 or 300 entrants, and I was the 6th in my age group. The 5th finished just about :30 ahead of me.

At about 2 miles, I had a college flashback. I was passed by a young man whose form was identical to my friend Andy's. He was also built like Andy, tall and thin. He edged me in the last 100 meters.

The ankle felt pretty good, no paid during the race and only a little bit before and after. I think I'm on the road to recovery.

Monday, July 02, 2007

I hate indoor workouts

I'd rather be outside in subzero weather than doing what I did today. I spent 40 minutes on the elliptical trainer. My gym doesn't have any fans on the workout floor. When you're outside, you create a nice breeze blowing past you simply due to the fact that you're moving. In the gym, the air is dead calm. I was sweating like crazy --it was like the Robert Hays sweating scene in Airplane. The room is also pretty warm, probably warmer than it should be--I'd say around 70-72 degrees. It would be much more comfortable if the room was about 60-65°, with the exercise serving to warm up the execricers.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Cross Training

To take it easy on my ankle, I'm using an elliptical these days, and only running about once or twice a week. Today I went in and stayed on the elliptical for about 40 minutes.

I work up an incredible sweat on those machines. I know that you sweat a lot more on the machines than you do when running, but I sweat a lot more than most people do anyway--I prefer cool temperatures, and the temp in the gym was around 75°.

I was dripping before I'd been on for 20 minutes.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Accounts of my demise are greatly exaggerated

I haven't posted in quite some time. Several months ago, I hurt my right ankle while running. I was unable to run at all for some time. After seeing my doctor, and a few visits to an orthopedic surgeon, and spending some time on the elliptical trainer, I'm back on the road. I do spend some time on the treadmill, and a certain amount of time on the elliptical, but much prefer getting out on the road--or on the abandoned railroad beds in the area. The Erie Canal Towpath is also a nice run, as long as the sun is up.

My racing season for this summer is probably shot, but I'm looking ahead to next year. Specifically, the Cooper River Bridge Run in Charleston, SC. My younger brother (he's 12 years younger than I am) lives in Charleston, and has challenged me to race him at the Cooper River run. Loser buys a case of beer for the winner, and if I win, the winner gets to brag that at 47 he beat a 35 year old in a race.