Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Salty Dogs

Heading home on my morning run, I find a man standing at the bank of Crane Creek, just staring at the sun-flecked water.

"Gator?" I asked.

He turns to me. "I saw something flip, thought maybe it was a snook."

What he saw was a manatee eating grass, he said with glee. A huge smile broke out on his face.


"Gotta love it," I said.

Moments later I encounter a hawk sitting on the road. He turns his head as another hawk flies over and takes off.


If I leave, which is a distinct possibility, I will miss Florida deeply. It has been home to me for most of my adult life. I spent most of my career in journalism here.

But Thursday I will find out whether I still have a job at my newspaper. If I am let go, I will take my running shoes elsewhere.

I will miss many things about Florida, especially the wildlife, the beautiful rivers and lakes, the seashore.

But I won't miss the humidity.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Let's Get Physical (Therapy)

Long-term recovery from traumatic injury is a war of attrition. Every advance is followed by a fallback.

You inch your way forward through time and space, learning to adjust to the body's healing rhythm.

I've spent nearly two years recovering from a deep tissue injury to my right hip sustained during the Tupelo Marathon.

I was in a good place for most of the year through spring, running a 5k and upping the mileage on my roadwork.

I also was hitting the pool for workouts of up to 40 laps.

One day in June, the pain in my right hip exploded. I started a pain management regimen that involved Tramadol and copious amounts of red wine. It was not fun. Nor was it healthy.

I told my doctor and he sent me to a physical therapist. After about a month of therapy involving core-strengthening and hip-stretching I am able to run again. Gingerly, but healthily.

I've put in two runs this week at about 4 miles, concentrating on form -- running on the balls of my feet and tilting my pelvis forward while trying to keep my hips loose and swinging.

I'm not even thinking about getting back to my old pace yet. Slow and steady, you know.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Spring Roll

Wow! Coming back from my morning pace run, I realized that it has been three years since I ran my first marathon, the Mad City Marathon in Madison, Wisc.

I ran a respectable 4:36 that first time out. I also met elite marathon runner Chuck Engle, who's always encouraging his running friends on Facebook to run more.

Six months later, I ran my second marathon, the Space Coast Marathon right here in Brevard County, Fla., my home for the past seven years. I improved considerably, pulling down a 4:06 -- my PR to date.

This anniversary got me thinking about another anniversary that looms ahead like a laughing skull: Labor Day Weekend, when I ran my last marathon two years ago. I blew out my hip at Mile 20 and haven't been the same since.

Eventually, I found a doctor who recommended a series of epidural steroid injections right into my Sacro-Ilial joint. That treatment plus regular visits to the chiropractor and massage therapist, have made running possible. But I am going to need physical therapy to deal with some ongoing joint dislocation issues if I ever want to run another marathon.

And that is the goal. I don't want my sad, tragic performance at the Tupelo to be my last.

But every now and then, life throws you setbacks. The gall bladder surgery set back my training by more than the two weeks it took to recover. Before surgery I was running sub-9 minute miles. Now I'm lucky if I can run two miles straight at a 9:30 pace. But I'm improving, cross-training with bike and swim to rebuild those thigh muscles needed to bring a spring back to my gait.

Spring is all important. You want to strike mid-sole or on the balls of your feet, push your feet off the ground and lift your knee forward, driving ahead with a slight gravitational tilt for maximum efficiency. It's something my running coach taught us over 30 years ago, and it still holds true today. Check out this video on the New York Road Runners website. It is the same technique my cross-country coach at Northport High taught us back in 1974 and I am glad to see it still holds true. I like to call it the Spring Roll.

Form is so important to avoid injury while improving pace and endurance. Run more.

And run like hell.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Back on the road again... again

I was running along my usual route on Bignonia Street Sunday when a friend pulled out of his driveway.

"Five miles an hour, not bad," he said as he rode along in his pickup truck.

"Considering I just had gall bladder surgery 10 days ago, I'll take it," I replied before wishing him a nice day.

Getting back on the road after major invasive surgery is an uphill battle. You start way below the level you were at just a week or two earlier, not realizing what a toll the procedure and laying in bed for a week recuperating had on your muscles, your lung capacity, your endurance. It sucks.

I was running at a sub-9 minute training pace right up to the day I went in for outpatient surgery. Sunday I was at a 12-minute pace.

The good news: it doesn't take long to bring the time down again. After one week of running I'm back to a 10:30 pace and hope to bring it down even further when I go out on Saturday for a long run.

On the plus side, I'm about 10-12 pounds thinner thanks to the post-surgery low-fat diet.

As T. Singh of Cornershop sang, "It's good to be on the road back home again, again."

And now, to cheese things up with some good ol' REO Speedwagon:

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Raising the bar

At some point along the road to recovery, I knew I would have to get back on the horse and enter a 5K -- a real bona fide, sanctioned, timed running event.

I was putting it off until my pace had improved. I didn't want to run the risk of entering a 5K and finishing in over 30 minutes.

Turned out I had nothing to worry about.

Yesterday, I ran the Downtown Melbourne 5K, a charity run for The Haven for Children, a home for neglected and abused kids managed by my favorite shoe store, The Running Zone.

It was my first in two years. And I did it with brand new shoes: a pair of Brooks Ghosts.

I finished in 26:00.6, not my PR but a respectable 8:23 pace. I actually blazed the first mile out in 8:02.

I rewarded myself with a therapeutic massage after the race.

Frankly, I was surprised I did as well.

I'd been running e months for about four months following the steroid injection therapy into my SI joint, upping the mileage each week, trying to quicken my pace and gauging the pain afterwards.

I was afraid I'd never be able to run faster than a 9:15 pace. Glad I was wrong about that.

Next step, to up the ante. Get my pace down to 8 minutes per mile by the Melbourne Springtime Arts Festival 5K at the end of the month. My goal is 24 minutes.

See you at the finish line.

And now, here's Placebo doing their kick-ass version of "Running up that Hill."

Monday, March 28, 2011

High in the Andes

Back from Bogota less than a week. All I can say it's great to be breathing again at sea level.

I went for a few days of R&R, heard good things from friends who had been and looked forward to sightseeing, hiking the Andes, dancing the night away and maybe even some hang gliding.

I even took my running gear thinking I'd work in some mountain running.

Nobody mentioned the altitude sickness.

Day one was rough. I'd been up since 5 a.m., and spent about 10 hours traveling. When I arrived at the hotel I had to find a place to cash some travelers' checks, and was directed to an AMEX office at a mall around the corner. Walking across the street at a mild incline had me gasping for air.

By the time I got back to the hotel, I was exhausted. My lungs were burning. I downed a Club Colombia beer and slept for the next 14 hours.

The next day was better, but I never got used to the thin air at 8,600 feet. Didn't stop me from spending dawn to dusk exploring every nook and cranny of the city, from La Candelaria (the old colonial district downtown) to Usaquen in the north. So many museums and cafes and restaurants to see!

And Botero everywhere.

All that walking left me with no appetite to run, especially after taking the funicular up to Cerro de Monserrate, a beautiful cathedral on a mountain overlooking the city at 10,400 feet. Just walking the steps up to the cathedral took my breath away, let alone the view!

The real hike came Sunday, when I went to explore Laguna Guatavita, a circular lake of legend and myth. The Muisca tribal chiefs would paint themselves in gold and hurl themselves into the lake. I felt like doing the same thing after hiking an hour about 3,000 feet from the parking area.

We were above the tree line, looking down at an incredible countryside.

It wasn't until my last day that I discovered Coca Tea, which the Colombians drink to combat altitude sickness. Oh, well. I'll be better prepared next time.

Meanwhile, it's great to be back at sea level, breathing the moist, salty Florida air and running again.

And now, here's Cut Copy doing "Sun God," the last track off their latest album, Zonoscope:

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Dead Presidents Day Off

OK. So I took a personal day.

For health reasons.

After walking all over New York, pushing the envelope on my running schedule and swimming routines, my body pushed back.

Enough! said my hip. Give it a rest! said my shoulder.

My rib heads were popping out and my SI joint was burning.

So I decided to lay off today, and went to see my chiropractor and massage therapist.

The visit was long overdue.

John, my chiropractor, did what he could for my rib heads, adjusting me, applying moist heat and using the drop table to loosen me up.

Then he sent me into Tony for a 15-minute massage before taping up my shoulder and hip with Kinesio tape.

Something new. Kinesio taping has been promoted strongly by Japanese chiropractor Kenzo Kase. The book John lent me came with a huge disclaimer that he is not offering medical advice.

Kinesio taping is widely used by orphopedists, chiropractors, sports trainers and others as a way to treat inflammation.

Unlike traditional athletic tape, which compresses the muscles and restricts movement, Kinesio taping allows for free range of motion without over-extension, and widens the space between the skin and muscles to promote the flow of lymphatic fluid, according to Kase's manual.

Getting the lymphatic fluid moving supposedly helps reduce the inflammation causing all that pain in the first place.

John taped up my right back shoulder area and hip and told me to leave it on for 2-3 days to let it work. It's waterproof so I can swim and shower in it.

Nuff said. Here's Jay-Z with, you know....

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Manhattan Marathon

Running around Manhattan for four days must have been just the cross-training I needed because the second day I got home I ran 9 miles at a solid 10-minute pace.

That was the good part.

The downside of all this is that about eight hours later I was having a blazing muscle spasm in my left hip.

That was odd. I've spent the last 18 months recuperating from an injury to my right hip's SI Joint, culminating in three months of steroid injections.

So what's this?

Fortunately, the spasms hit toward the end of the work day. I managed to get through the last hour, walked out to my car and popped a Tramadol and a muscle relaxer. By the time I got home, the pain was subsiding a little bit. Two glasses of Cotes du Rhone later and the pain was gone.

This morning, I feel like my old self again. Which is to say, a little sore but ready to run.

Maybe I'm ready for a half-marathon, after all.

And now, here's The Stranglers, with "Something Better Change."

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Telltale Signs of Wear & Tear

The pool where I swim is one of those places where triathletes gather to train, shoot the breeze, compare performance times and trade war stories.

One of those triathletes is a friend I'll call Wolf. He's about two years older than me and had a hip replacement two years ago and has recovered marvelously. I see him running every now an then at a pretty good clip on the same street  run on, and he is swimming, biking and doing yoga.

Yesterday, I told him about my hip injury from the Tupelo Marathon a year and a half ago, the terrible time I had getting a proper diagnosis, and the steroid injections in my right SI joint that got me back on the road to recovery. Because of my lingering concerns about hip deterioration and thinking one day I might need hip replacement surgery, I asked him what sort of signals he was getting from his body before he needed surgery.

"I broke my leg running the New York City Marathon," he said He'd been running with a hairline fracture that broke clean through and left him laying on the pavement waiting for an ambulance.

The hospital repaired the damage with a bunch of pins, the hip got infected and after several surgeries he had the hip completely replaced.

His hip is fine, he said. Now it's his left knee.

"Sucks getting old," I told him.

We had a laugh about that but it got me thinking. What if I've been running with a hairline or stress fracture and don't even know it? I could be running merrily along when, Pow! My hip breaks, or my femur shatters and down I go. That feeling I had at mile 20 in the Tupelo race sure felt like something snapped.

Stress fractures don't show up on regular x-rays. You would need a PET scan, my chiropractor friend John said over drinks at the pub last night.

I'm sure that's not the case with me, just arthritis from age. As I told Wolf, it sucks getting old.

Which reminds me. Time to sign up for the NYC Marathon.

And now, here's "Duchess" by The Stranglers:

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Stars of Track & Field

Because I was unable to run the Melbourne and the Beaches Music Marathon this past weekend, I did the next best thing: I volunteered.

  • Out at the starting area and registration table at 6:30 a.m., greeting runners in the light drizzle and cheering them on.
  • At the starting line just before 7 a.m., a megaphone thrust into my hand, telling everyone to stay to the right of the orange cones if they wanted their race chips to activate.
  • Moving boxes to the storage trailer and heading over to the finish line to await the first finishers for the half-marathon.
It was at that point that Deb, the volunteer coordinator, handed me a key to the Melbourne Chamber of Commerce building and said, "Go over there and open it at 8 a.m. for the elite runners."

It wasn't what I had in mind. I had imagined myself handing out water and Gatorade at one of the dozens of stations along the course, or riding my bike back and forth looking for stragglers, the injured or the lame.

But staying out of the rain and cold for a couple of hours wasn't such a bad thing, and I'd still get to watch the middle-pack runners come across the finish later. My people.

I was sitting at a computer in the lobby when the first runners came in. They startled me so that I grabbed my flimsy styrofoam cup of coffee and spilled it on the floor. After cleaning up, I started greeting the incoming runners -- among the best amateur athletes in the nation. They'd come from Colorado, Chicago and northern Pennsylvania to run in our little race.

But the biggest moment of the day came when Bill Rodgers (seated in photo at right) and Frank Shorter came into the room. Rodgers sat, exhausted, drenched in sweat. I shook his hand and told him what a fan I had been since high school. We chatted about his performance a bit, the course and the weather. 

Shorter came in moments later, wearing a hat and sweating. He said he had run the course backwards. I told him it was because of him and Rodgers that I began running cross-country in high school and continue to run to this day.

They both seemed like really nice, down-to-earth guys -- and a lot smaller than I'd imagined.

Zola Budd (standing in photo) was there, too. And for the record, yes, she was wearing running shoes.

It was a grand moment in my life, and my reward for helping out. From now on, whenever I'm injured or not ready in my training cycle to run a marathon, I'd gladly volunteer again.

And now, here's Mercury Rev with "Goddess on a Highway":

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Grease is the word

When you haven't run real distances in a while, say anything over 4-5 miles, you sometimes forget one crucial ingredient: grease.

Last week, when I wound up running 9 miles, I forgot to grease up the legs and I suffered all day for it with raw, chafed skin on my inner thighs.

Today, before I kicked off a moderate 7.5 miler, I applied Vaseline to the upper legs. 

What a difference a little lube job can make.

So, from now on, whenever I run over 6 miles, out comes the jar of petroleum jelly.

The hard part is washing it off afterwards. I recommend Dr. Bronner's peppermint castile soap.

For the record: 7.5 miles at 1:18:52 for a moderate 10:30 pace. That's far off from what I was running before my SI Joint and hip socket injuries, but I'll take it.

The idea for now is to increase distance on weekends, and increase pace during the shorter runs during the week.

Swimming complements the road work perfectly. The muscles I work out running get a rest when I swim, and the swimming strengthens the core for when I'm running.

Thursday's swim was so much better than Monday's. I cannot wait to get into the pool again.

And now, for your musical entertainment, here's the original video of Flaming Lips doing "She Don't Use Jelly."

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Reasons to be cheerful

This has been a really good week for me. My SI Joint  pain is nearly gone, although the hip socket is a bit tender, most likely from all the running.

I ran a very good, steady pace Wednesday for a 38:52 four-miler, which was a minute less than the same course I ran the day before. Running back-to-back pace days seems to be working for me, but I am really feeling the need to lay up today, maybe swim this afternoon.

That was coming off a weekend of a 9-mile run on Saturday followed by a 4-miler on Sunday. The long run took a long time to recover from -- all day.

But it feels like my body is getting conditioned, bouncing back from extra-vigorous workouts and settling into the routine of four-mile runs at sub-10-minute paces. I am grateful that I have the legs to run, the lung capacity to breathe and the good health to be so active.

I wear a bracelet that reminds me not all people in my life are not as fortunate to enjoy such robust health. My friend Karan made it. She has Cystic Fibrosis, and is a survivor of a double lung transplant.

She asked her friends to wear it to keep her in their minds and heart as she goes through a rough patch. Wearing it on my left wrist reminds me of her bravery and cheer, and that for some people breathing is a struggle.

And so, I run for Karan. I can be her legs and her lungs and she can cheer me on in my recovery from my hip injury.

And I will whine a little less when my hip aches or my muscles are sore.

The first day I wore the bracelet running, Ian Dury and the Blockheads' "Clever Trevor" was the last song to play on my iPod Nano. It's inspirational. Quite.

Here it is again. Enjoy:

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Run For Your Life

So, what do I do after a day of wellness and self-indulgence? I go out and run 9 miles, setting a 10.8 minute pace, which translates into a middling 5.55 mph.

How do I know all this? I found a great website that calculates your caloric burn at Run The Planet: http://www.runtheplanet.com/resources/tools/calculators/caloriecounter.asp

I'm not crazy about the near-11 minute pace, but it could be worse. At least I am UNDER an 11-minute pace and I knew I ran faster on the first half going out than on the return leg.

Still and all, not bad for a 52-year-old guy whose doctor advised him not to run more than four miles a day. Heck, I didn't think I'd be able to run more than five or six miles in a single outing at this stage in my recovery. It's only been two months since the end of my steroid injection treatments.

I have to say, however, my SI joint and hip ball socket are on fire, and the right thigh is cramping. Ice and Meloxicam are the order of the day, with a side dish of Tramadol and a muscle relaxer, along with some good old-fashioned stretching.

And Gatorade to replenish those pesky electrolytes.

Speaking of: As I pulled a Gatorade out of the fridge after my run, I flashed on the scene in "127 Hours" where Aron Ralston, his arm pinned to a canyon wall by a medium-sized boulder, remembers the bottle of Gatorade he left in the back of his SUV. Great movie. Never leave home without your Swiss Army Knife, because a cheap-ass multitool just doesn't cut it.

Fish gotta swim. Birds gotta fly. I gotta run.

As far as the swimming goes, so far it's been very good for me, toning the abdominal and lower back muscles, working on my upper body. More than likely I will hit the pool later in the day for some laps.

As I close, I'm left wondering what to play for you. "Once in a Lifetime"? "I Wanna Be Your Dog"? How about "Lust for Life"? That seems appropriate.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Furlough Fun Day

Due to the prudent fiscal planning of my highly paid corporate overlords, I've got to take a full week of furlough this quarter.

Translation: five days of enforced leave without pay.

To make the best of it I've scheduled my furlough days around several weekends like bacon-wrapped shrimp to make up for the fact we have no company-sanctioned holidays over the next three months.

It's a win-win.

Today is the first of those furlough days and I am spending it in full recovery mode after a week of  running and swimming torqued my right hip and shoulder.

 Welcome to my Wellness Day.

It started at 8 a.m. with a trip to my chiropractor, Dr. John Workman, and his massage therapist, Tony Spano. After a 15-minute massage on my shoulder and hip, John worked out the rest of my kinks. I left his office feeling light-headed and pain-free.

It's as if they broke up and released all the toxins I'd been storing in my joints and muscles.

For the rest of the day I think I will just relax, take a walk on the beach, go see a movie (127 Hours is finally playing) and maybe do some yoga later.

Because tomorrow, I'll be running eight miles and hitting the pool.

And now, for all my friends who say they only run if they're being chased, here's N.W.A.:

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Another Milestone

Is running in the fog good for you? I don't know if there is any scientific evidence one way or the other, but the last two times I've run under a "spot of weather", my performance was better than it has been in months.

On the other hand, this article suggests it's not such a good idea.

Take today for instance. I had another amazing run, and achieved another milestone: Ran a total of 7 miles -- over the Melbourne Causeway and back --  in 1:12:34, not a great pace compared to what I used to run but respectable for someone recovering from hip injuries. Still, sustaining that kind of pace for seven miles? Pretty cool.

Best part, I ran the first four miles at a 9:33 pace! The last three miles I sort of took it easy, jogged, stretched, ran backwards (it didn't reduce my time, sadly). Call it a recovery run.

Now, 12 hours later, I can say I feel no better or worse for the wear, and I've taken no pain killers today. I think it helped that I rested Friday and got a massage and chiropractic adjustment.

Just hope this doesn't boomerang on me and I wake up unable to get out of bed in the morning.

Anyway, I've reached an epiphany: My hip hurts whether I run or not, so I might as well run.

Here's "Bloodbuzz, Ohio," by The National (one of the best running songs yet):

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Going the Distance

I like to run in the fog in the early morning before dawn. There is a quiet to the city, a stillness. Being the only one on the road as the fog rolled in this morning made me feel like the sole inhabitant of the universe.

At least until I hit the Melbourne Causeway and encountered several walkers and a few high school track runners.

By then the fog was thick, and the moisture suspended in its fabric like big fat raindrops

Maybe it was because of the fog I pushed the envelope a bit this morning, running 5.5 miles instead of the usual four. That qualifies as a long run for me, and the first run over four miles in about four months.

And it's the first time in months I hauled my butt over the Melbourne Causeway and back.

I'm not going to crow about my performance, running at just about a 10:45 pace. The important thing is I did it, without strain or injury to my back or right hip. That alone is worthy of a victory lap.

This week is another milestone: two months since my last epidural steroid injection into my right SI joint and hip. Two months and I feel better than ever. Not perfect, mind you. But if I can sustain this regimen and keep working on my pace, I should be close to my old performance standards in a few months.

On another note, had my annual physical. Everything is working great: Kidney function like that of an 18-year-old, great liver function, and a heart like a horse. Glucose a bit elevated, white cell count down a bit. But nothing to worry about. Keep running!

And now, let them eat Cake!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Keep the Body Movin'

OK, so I overdid it last week, running three days in a row, faster and harder each day.

I caught a cold on Friday, and spent the weekend alternating between the bed and the couch, watching old movies from the 1940s and 1950s. "Murder, My Sweet". "Damn Yankees". "Flower Drum Song." "Picnic".

Getting a cold sucks. Watching old movies makes me feel better.

Having my SI joint flare up also sucks. But taking drugs makes it feel better.

And all weekend, I had to tell myself, "No. Don't run. Rest. Get well."

I paid attention to myself. I rested.

The advice paid off.

I laced up this morning and ran a solid 3.7 miles, at intervals.

The first two miles I ran at a 19:46 warm-up pace. Then I jogged another .3 miles at 3:36 and ran a straight mile at 9:02. Then I jogged the last quarter mile home at a leisurely 4:16.

Was anybody watching?

Who cares!

On top of it all, I felt great all day, and felt no need to take a pain pill.

But I learned a valuable lesson. Always rest a day between runs.

And I learned another thing. My iPod Nano has a stop watch! And I'm using it.

Oh, and a third thing, I've learned. You've got to keep the body movin'.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

The Deep Freeze

I couldn't believe my clip odometer when it read that I'd run 4 miles in just 22 minutes. No Way! That would put me in Chuck Engle territory. Jim Thorpe.Frank Shorter. Jim Ryun. Alberto Salazar.

Something screwed up inside my ODO between 6:28 a.m. and 6:50 a.m.

Soon as I got into the house I checked the time on the microwave oven. 7:07 a.m. OK, so that's 39 minutes from the time I started my ODO to seeing the clock on the microwave. Even that would be respectable -- my first 4-miler in under 40 minutes!

But taking into account the ODO and microwave are on separate schedules, and the five minutes it took me to stop, grab the paper and unlock the door, pet the cats and take of my gloves, I think I can safely subtract four to five minutes. Thirty-four minutes would be an 8:30 pace! OK, let's say 35 minutes just to quell any skeptics out there. That is still breaking the 9:00 pace barrier.

And, it's nine minutes faster than the 43 minutes it took to run the same same distance yesterday.

I have not run four miles in less than 40 minutes since I can remember. To run it at a sub-9 pace, even more astounding! Give me a moment, I am obviously not finished being amazed at my progress.

I give full credit to the freezing fucking weather this morning. Two long-sleeve sweaters, fleece jacket, ski cap and gloves below 30 weather! In Florida!

And my doctor's care. Those steroid injections into my right SI joint over three months really worked. And the daily regimen of anti-inflammatory drugs. Does Meloxicam qualify as a performance-enhancing drug. What about a glass or two of Malbec the night before?

I hadn't planned to enter a 5k until the Melbourne Spring Arts Festival in April, but at this rate of progress, I think I'll sign up for that race February 5 my friend Rick was telling me about.

And now, Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band have a few words for you.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Life ain't a track meet. It's a marathon.

I thought I'd give everyone a break from all the whining about back aches and hip problems and knee pain until I had something substantial to report.

Now, I do. I'm back to a regular running schedule -- four miles a day, three days a week just to get back into the groove, and I've already dropped my pace by almost two minutes -- from well over 12 minutes to just under 11 minutes. It is a good feeling to move along at a 10:30 pace, even if it's a far way off from the under 9-minute pace I need to set for myself to beat certain people I trash-talked last week.

The biggest news is that for the first time since I began running again, I didn't have that hip socket pounding that had been plaguing me, and my SI joint didn't flare up. That is true progress.

I had laid off running for about a month over the holidays. I was having serious hip pain on both sides, right above the posterior saddle. And the SI joint, blah blah blah. I fought it with anti-inflammatories, ice packs and pain killers and just good old fashioned slackitude. Nothing like lazing around for two weeks watching TV, reading books, eating junk food and guzzling red wine for proper R&R.

But when I got on the scale and saw my weight had climbed over 210, I had to take action. I decided, Fuck this pain, it's just something I'm going to have to live with, laced up my running shoes and hit the road. And it felt like hell, the femur grinding into my hip socket, sending sharp stabbing pain into my SI joint.

Ice and Tramadol followed.

Two days later, I went out again. Ran four miles. Pounded away like a lumbering ox. Ice and pills.

Saturday, I had my first breakthrough. Ran four miles at a 10:35 pace. Ice. Pills.

Sunday. Forty minutes of yoga. No running. No ice. No pills.

Monday. Every muscle in my body ached from the yoga.

Today (Tuesday): Ran four miles. Feeling no pain. Yet.

And now, Ice Cube has a message for ya.