Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Roadkill Reboot

OK. It's been two weeks since my major setback, when my neurosurgeon/radiologist told me to stop running while he continued the SI Joint injection steroid treatments. Let the medication do its job. Let those bone spurs dissolve, or whatever it is they're supposed to do.

So I did just that. I waited it out for two weeks, did some yoga, rode my bike, walked, ate painkillers and muscle relaxers, did physical therapy stretches, and somehow managed to lose a few pounds. I even rode about 12 miles on Sunday. It felt good.

Then last night, feeling antsy, I walked. And my hip joint flared right up again. Today my hip and piriformis muscle were in agony. But that didn't stop me from doing yoga this morning and taking a long walk after dinner this evening. I've got to do something to stay in shape.

Anyway, since running is out of the question until the end of this year, I had to rename my blog and shift the focus since I can no longer write about running and recovery. This is strictly about recovery now. Playing the Waiting Game. Hoping the treatment will heal my injuries so that I can truly run again. Without crippling myself.

But who am I kidding. I feel like roadkill, like something that's been trampled on, just like the slogan for the Tupelo Marathon that did me in a year ago Labor Day weekend predicted.

And now, "Dead Skunk In The Middle Of The Road," By Loudon Wainwright III. What did you expect?

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Bone-spurs on the saddle

This is depressing. I was doing great. Really enjoying building up my running regimen to about 20 miles a week.

But now I have to put a kybosh on the running, for a couple of months, anyway.

When I went in this morning for my second steroid injection for my SI Joint inflammation, my doctor and I discussed my running, how much of it I was doing, whether it was causing pain. He showed me a whole mess of bone spurs along my sacro-ilial joint. Strenuous exercise, pushing too hard, causes those spurs to jangle.

"Your injury is related to high levels of pounding," he said, preaching moderation in all things. "Although I suspect you and I have very different ideas of what moderation means."

Well, yeah. For more than two years I was training for and running in marathons. I was going through a new pair of training shoes every three months. So the idea of running three to five miles a day, with one nice 8-miler thrown in on the weekends didn't seem unreasonable, and it didn't seem to be hurting.

"The medicine I'm giving you lasts 4-6 weeks," he said, during which time I might not feel the pain that would normally register from my injury. Once the medication wore off, I'd be going around saying, "Like, hey, where did that come from?!"

Point taken: I'm still injured. His goal is to correct the injury, get me back to health and keep me from doing anything that would make that injury permanent. Pain has a way of following pathways, he said. If this had gone on for another year, I'd be owning this pain for the rest of my life.

That's why I'm here, I told the doc. Stop running, he said.

Do things that don't pound the joints. Stretch. Bike. Swim. Walk. Do yoga.

But for the next two months, he said, do not run.

That is going to be very tough indeed. Because these boots were not made for walkin'.

Now, here to ease my pain is "Blood on The Saddle," a classic Tex Ritter song done to death by The Dropdead Beats (with a lead singer channeling Tom Waits):

Police On My Back

How many times has someone told me that they wouldn't run unless a cop was chasing them?

Well, here's an interesting little story out of my own newspaper:

A boy, barely a man at 18, was running around nude except for a pair of swimming goggles. Why is not known. A frat stunt, perhaps? A dare? A drug-addled escapade inspired by Pink Floyd songs?

Who knows?

But it seems like an awful way to discourage kids from running, regardless.

And what does it say about the police department that resorts to Tasing a kid rather than taking him down the old-fashioned way?

I'm not judging the cops, but I want to know what the department's policies are about using Tasers. Do they have to try every other means of restraint available? Or is it just easier to get out your Taser out and fire?

And what about that kid, charged with indecent exposure? If convicted, he'll carry that stigma around for the rset of his life. Let's hope he's not counting on a track scholarship to pay for college.

If a police officer can't catch up with a streaking, possibly drug-addled teen without using a stun gun then does that say something about the physical shape of the officers of that department?

And now, what could be more appropriate than The Clash's "Police On My Back" covered by Asian Dub Foundation and Zebda?

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Damn The Defyance (3)

This posting will be short and sweet.

I finally bought a new pair of running shoes this week, but not after having a disappointing experience with a pair of Brooks Defyance 3, the neutral version of the Adrenaline GTS, which has been one of my favorite shoes for years (along with the ASICS 2100 series).

Turns out they were not the best shoes for me because I have such a minor, almost undetectable pronation.

So I went to the neutral Defyance. Ran in them one time -- and found the left shoe was pointing my toe inward, causing the left foot to rotate outward.

I was running off the outer edge of my foot, and causing a serious ping in my IT band.


Still hurts, but thank god for ice packs and BioFreeze.

So after my eight-miler in the Defyance, I went back to my favorite store, The Running Zone on Wickham Road in Melbourne, FL.

They have a generous 21-day return policy, that if you don't like your shoes for whatever reason, they will take the shoes back and let you exchange them as long as you have the original box.

I explained my problem and the sales clerk was more than helpful. She understood completely what was happening. Unfortunately, there is no running shoe for my toe-in outward roll problem.

But she said a broader platform might do the trick. She brought out three other pairs of shoes to try on: Brooks Dyad, ASICS Landreth and the Gel Nimbus.

Running in the Dyads felt like wading in a pair of tour buses.

The Landreths had a nice heel insert that I knew would provide stability and support.

But the Nimbus was heavenly (pardon the pun). I felt like I was running on gel clouds as I took a spin around the back parking lot.

Sure, they cost $25 more than the Defyance, but dammit! Your legs are worth protecting.

And now for your listening pleasure,"The Run-Around" by Blues Traveler:

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Hard Eight

Gamblers have a term for betting the dice will come up double fours in a craps roll. Hard eight. The odds are so enormous that the payout is huge. There's a great character study of a film by the same name, directed by Paul Michael Thomas. It stars John C. Reilly and Philip Baker Hall and Gwyneth Paltrow as a hooker with a heart of coal.

Hard eight is what I ran Sunday evening. For me, it was the first time in more than a year that I ran eight miles without stopping, and ran it at a sustained pace of about 10 minutes. Not bad considering I laid off running for a year and am being treated for a SI Joint inflammation, which was misdiagnosed alternatively as diskitis, lower disk protrusion and rheumatoid arthritis. It's an inflamed joint, and the anti-inflammatories I'm taking have knocked it down enough that for the last four weeks I've been able to run four times a week, with at least one big run thrown in the mix just to see if I can do it. I can do it.

The first few times were tough. I'd run two miles, rest, maybe walk a bit, jog over the causeway, rest, walk a bit, and do the same on my way back. Last week I managed to run over the causeway without a break, a full 3.7 miles. I stopped for a water break, stretched and ran back over the causeway, took one more water break, and then home.

After two days off, with about 240 miles of driving to West Palm thrown in, a barbecue, some kayaking, much beer drinking and a depressing night watching the Gators get torn to shreds by Bama, I was back home Sunday, doing the laundry and decided to lace up -- still running in my year-old-plus Brooks Adrenalines. I can safely say, without any doubt, after tonight that the spring is shot, and I need new shoes.

For some reason, I felt pretty pumped. Bouncing off the balls of my feet, shoulders back and cruising along pretty nicely, until some kid motored by me like I was standing still. I decided to push up my game. I leaned into the causeway incline and kicked it at the top, then settled into a nice amble on the decline. By the time I got to Douglas Park, I thought, why not go all the way to the four-mile point before turning around. Why not go the whole eight mile?

My second attack of the causeway was better than the first. I drove up that hill as hard as I could, and when I got to the top I pumped it before easing into a nice trot down the hill.

The rest of the run was mostly flat with little ups and downs, and it was getting on twilight. A nice time to be running when the weather turns cool enough here in Florida. So I just kept pushing myself, willing the piriformis to loosen up and quit acting like an old codger. I ran the last half mile or so balls out.

And I finished in under 90 minutes. Maybe even 80. I should get a watch. But that means I was running right around a steady 10 minutes for a whole eight miles without stopping, except for some water at the halfway mark.

For me that is a huge milestone on the road to recovery. I was lucky to plod through four miles in 40 minutes or longer when I started running again two months ago. Running eight miles in a little over 80 minutes is huge for me, and that is saying a lot. I mean, my best running time about three years ago was a 5k where I broke 23 minutes -- my best! I used to run seven miles in 54 minutes during workouts. My time at the half-way mark for the Space Coast Marathon was 1:52, and my pace for the entire run was 9:27, for a 4:07 finish.

 It's possible that three months from now, with a couple more steroid injections, ice packs, massage therapy, yoga  and chiropractics, I could be close to those old times. It's just as possible I may never hit that 9:27 pace again, but I'm not saying I can't do it, either.

Now, for something a little different, a great scene from Hard Eight, where the duelling Philips -- Baker Hall and Seymour Hoffman -- test their wills against each other over a craps table:

Friday, October 1, 2010

Open The Pod Bay Doors, Hal

OK. Right. I've been running on a regular basis for about five, six weeks now, and I think it's time to kick it into high gear. And by that I mean it's time to choose a training program for my next marathon.

It's been a year and several weeks since my last marathon, the grueling Tupelo marathon that blew out my SI Joint and caused piriformis pain so severe I couldn't run for a year. But after the start of my epidural treatments, my condition has improved dramatically. I've actually run one 9.5 mile run and I'm up to about 20 miles a week.

But that puts me in a dilemma when it comes to choosing a workout program. I've used Hal Higdon's Novice II and Intermediate I schedules for my first two marathons, and did pretty well by him (4:36 and 4:09, respectively). But where do I place myself now? Novice? Intermediate? Somewhere in between? Do I start at the beginning, jump in at week four or five, or what?

I ran a 4, and a 7.4, and tomorrow plan to run another 4. That would put me at something like week seven on Novice II, which calls for a 14-mile run Saturday. I don't know if I'm up for that yet. I may be ready for an 11-miler, and I've got the course plotted out already (my house to Melbourne Beach and back). Maybe I should look for the week where the longest run is 9 miles and jump in there.

Or, maybe I should see what other schedules are out there.

Runner's World has several training schedules depending on your level of experience for $29.95. They also have plans to break the 4 and 3 hour marks, as well as a plan for prepping for Boston. I think I'll pass on that until I know I can finish a marathon at all.

Running Times warns you right from the the start that its training schedule is tough, and just looking at it gave me leg cramps. Maybe after full recovery. Maybe after I actually finish a marathon!

State of the Art Marathon Trainng has a 19-week mileage buildup schedule leading right into the week of a marathon, strategies for injury prevention, a reasonable 18-week training schedule and other resources, like speed and strength workouts. And it's free! Sounds good, but I'm not sure.

So, I return to Hal. His programs are simple, easy to follow and don't require a lot of concentration. I figure I may as well start in at the Novice 2 level, starting at week one. It'll give me a chance to dial things back, and slowly work my way up to marathon level in 18 weeks -- just in time for the Disney Marathon!

Or I could just continue to run four, five days a week, increasing my mileage by about 10 percent a week, continue stretching and throw in some bike riding and swimming. I haven't made up my mind yet, but stay tuned. I will let you know.

Meanwhile, as I contemplate the universe of training plans available, let's listen to a real groovy, Grammy-winning version of "Also Sprach Zarathustra" by Latin Jazz artist Eumir Deodata: