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:

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.