Sunday, December 21, 2014

Merry Christmas!!!

Doomed. This blog is doomed. I know that this blog is doomed because I have gone over 1 month without posting anything. I've never done something like that before.

I'm still working out, mostly running. And most of my running is on the treadmill. I don't know how much I should count that as running. It's more like trotting electronically. Its an electric trot. Yes, that's what I'm going to call it from now on. I have been going on 3 mile electric trots 2 to 3 times per week on a fairly regular basis. It's been awhile since my last injury. That's a big relief. Of course, it's also been awhile since my last race and I have been running more slowly in an attempt at avoiding further injury. I'm pretty sick of the whole constant injury thing. But I'm equally sick of running at a ridiculously weak pace.

I'm fartleking a lot now. It's not because I'm strong and free of the fear of injury. I wish it was. Its because I'm sick of running the same 3 miles on a treadmill while watching the same Seinfeld rerun in the same cinderblock room, day after day. I just want something to break up the monotony. Fartleking allows me to convince myself that the workout will end more quickly. It doesn't, but I feel less bored.

Other than this, Merry Christmas! If you're still reading this blog after so many have bailed on me then I owe you a Christmas card. If you want it, send me your name and address and I'll send you the Christmas card. :-)

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Checking In

It's been awhile since I was here last. Not a lot has changed. I'll make this quick. I injured my hamstring before the Warrior Dash. It was cold and wet and I couldn't see any point in my going and trying to run the hills of the Warrior Dash this year with a pulled hamstring. This was the first time I skipped the race after running 3 straight. And I didn't feel terribly disappointed about it. I think perhaps that is a bad sign. My fatigue is not from running. My fatigue is from being repeatedly injured and constantly having to fear the next injury, whatever it may be.

My workouts since skipping the Dash haven't been great. It is now taking me almost a full mile of fast walking before I feel warmed up enough to break into a slow run. Even with the slow run I feel my calves and hamstrings threatening to pull. It makes no sense to me. But it is certainly frustrating.

Aside from workouts, I have stress at work. As part of my position I am required to maintain 2 professional certifications in addition to my degree. I earned my first certification early this year. It was fairly difficult. My 2nd certification I earned just yesterday. It was very difficult and I barely passed. But if I am to keep my job I have to deliver both of these certifications to my employer or else they'll have armed guards escort me out after a specific period of time. I delivered the first certification already, but I'm having trouble getting the 2nd one to download. The company that conducted the test and awarded me my certification sent me an email congratulating me for earning it, as well as giving me a link to download my certification. When I click the link it tells me I have not earned the certification and then forwards me to a link to register for the certification test. I am more than slightly frustrated by this.

Anyway, no one is going to read this so rather than continue with other things about what is going on, I'll simply stop here.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Lacking Motivation

It's been so long since I've last blogged that Blogger seems to have locked up my page. I can't even get the URL to come up. How funny.

Anyway, over the past month, which is about how long its been since I wrote last, I've been battling this injury and that one. I even ran a 5K race with a pulled hamstring because I was just so sick and tired of always feeling like I couldn't do what I wanted due to the latest in an endless stream of stupid injuries.

One thing all these injuries have done, though, is to take away my motivation. I don't have any real reason to train anymore. I have a race coming up, the Warrior Dash, but there is no hope of my being able to run up those hills with a hamstring injury nagging at me and calves that are perpetually ready to let go any any moment. I have thought long and  hard about whether I am even going to train for it and try to go. I've just about decided not to bother. Last week I skipped the treadmill and went to one of the only hills anywhere near this Godforsaken city to run 'sprints' repeatedly up it. I put sprints in quote marks because my hamstring makes it impossible for me to truly sprint. The best I can do is carefully stride in sprint form, as if I were truly sprinting, but not quite. I could feel everything in my legs straining close to the limit, wanting to strain something - a calf or hamstring or perhaps something new.

I've had it. I'm still training, but not for any race. At this point I'm barely able to make myself even get on the stupid treadmill. On Monday I jacked up the elevation on the treadmill little by little, until I had it as high as it would go, and I fartleked on it. But after that I was so sore and stiff that I couldn't do jack squat on Wednesday. On Friday I just felt no motivation at all. I wanted to get on a bike or lift weights or something, anything except meander along on a treadmill watching the speed to see if I was even moving fast enough to be worth the trouble. I started running goofy out of sheer boredom. I did the Phoebe, from the episode of Friends when she went running with Rachel and ran like a goof. I ran like Elaine dances on Seinfeld. I ran like Kramer. At one point the guy running next to me commented that he thought I might break the treadmill. I was just so bored and sick of it all I really didn't care.

So this is where I am right now. I don't think I'm going to attempt the Warrior Dash. There is another 5K that same weekend just down the street from my house. I might attempt that one, but the last time I did one of these local 5Ks I ran the entire way with a bad hamstring. It was a disaster.

That's been my whole year, really, a disaster.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Wednesday ... again

OK, so it's not a Wordless Wednesday because I'm typing stuff again. I do that sometimes. Still, it's my blog and lately it's just me and AlleyCat talking here, so I guess I'll just go ahead and talk on Wordless Wednesday.

Back to the Future II is on. I haven't seen this movie in forever. And next is Back to the Future III. It occurs to me that I've never even seen Back to the Future III.  So I guess now I'll see it.

The picture above is an image-stabilized shot from the old Star Trek series. When they did scenes where the Enterprise was attacked or hit with something, the camera would shake all around and everyone would throw themselves around. It looked convincing enough, I guess. But when you remove the camera shake it looks a little .... eh, less impressive. Don't you think?

I think I've found a possible cause to all my calf injuries. At least, I'm hoping so. You see, for the past few months I've been wearing these dress shoes to work every day because its required. Anyway, the specific shoes aren't required, just a formal dress, or semi ... office attire, I don't know what they call it. Anyway, I'm not exactly wearing Nike running shoes all day. That's the point I'm trying to make. Instead, I'm wearing leather shoes which, as it turns out, have absolutely NO arch support in them. Yes, that's right, none at all. Zip. Zilch. Nada. Zero.

The lack of any arch support combined with the useless heel makes me lean slightly forward and puts even more pressure on my arches. And then I go running after work and my calves blow out on me.

On Monday I ran by a sporting goods store to check out some arch supports. The guy working there asked me to take my shoe off so he could look at my arches to help determine which level of arch would be best. I took my shoe off and stepped down. He got on his knees and looked at my foot and said, "totally collapsed. Your foot is flat." Yep, flat.

So on Monday I put my new arch supports in my running shoes and then got on the treadmill. My right calf was already giving me trouble, so I didn't run. I just walked faster and faster and faster until I couldn't go any faster without having to run. I did just over 2 miles and then did a LOT of toe raises and some upper body exercises. No problems with my calves.

Now its Wednesday and if my calves seem up for it I'm going to run again. I'm hoping to God that these arch supports combined with my calf sleeves and toe raises I've been doing will finally help me solve these calf injury problems once and for all.

Anyway, Back to the Future III is starting and I've never seen this before, so I'm going to watch it. Wish me luck.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Wounded Warrior

I'm running 3 times per week now, always on a treadmill, so the environment is heavily controlled and always the same. The only thing that is changing is what I'm watching on the TV while I try to run.

My calf injury problem is getting worse. My left calf has bothered me repeatedly. A good wrap seemed to stop that. For awhile. But then my unwrapped right calf went out on me. So I wrapped it as well.

And just this week my left calf, even with the wrap, went out on me. I felt it going and jumped off the treadmill immediately, limping over to the stationary bicycle to finish my workout. But come Friday, which is today, it was bothering me so badly that I never got beyond the fast walking stage of my warm-up and even then it was hurting. And yes, it was wrapped.

I've been trying to strengthen both of my problematic calves with toe raises after every run. My calf muscles feel bigger and tighter, but they are apparently no more durable than they were before.

An article I read said that as runners get older all the usual injuries - hamstring, quadriceps, gluteus - become less and less problematic. But the calves start to become the real weakness, the main source of trouble. I can't imagine why this is. And I can't help but think that it isn't the years of running that have caused this, but something else, something I'm doing wrong.

Every day at work I am either tired at some point when I can't afford to be tired or else bored to death. So I drink coffee. I've had a friend who is a professional trainer tell me that she thinks coffee is bad and that I should avoid it. But she didn't say it causes pulled muscles or strained calves specifically. I drink it black. And I try to drink a lot of water throughout the day to make sure I'm not dehydrated.

I've developed a habit of drinking a Coke with my lunch. Sometimes its Orange Crush. I don't sip on this sort of drink all day like some people do. I just have the one drink and when lunch is over and the Coke is gone I don't have any more. But Coke does tend to dehydrate a person.

Far too many of my lunches have involved going out to eat. Restaurant food takes a lot better than my sandwich, but it is very bad for me. I wonder if this alone could be causing this problem?

After every workout I drink a gigantic glass of milk mixed with creatine, whey or casein protein, amino acids and various other GNC-approved runner's cocktail stuff. Then I shower and after that I try to either ice or massage my arches and calves. Lately, with all of the injuries, I've been doing mostly icing.

The more calf raises I do, the more my arches seem to be talking to me in the mornings when I get out of bed. To be fair, this coincides with my calves bothering me and so I'm icing and not doing much massaging or rolling tennis balls under my feet. I returned to the tennis ball tonight after my run. My feet thanked me for it. Then I used The Stick on my calves and they, too, seemed appreciative.

I have another race in about a month. I really need to figure this problem out and get it resolved. I realize that not many people are reading this blog, but any help or advice anyone has to offer is greatly appreciated. Any ideas?

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Lawn Care, Sweating, and Overflowing Sinks

 Bagworm bong party!

On Friday I was standing in the parking lot talking to a coworker. Suddenly I realized that I had left my cell phone sitting on my desk inside. Being a runner, or so I tell people, I tried to jog into the building to grab my phone and then jog back to continue talking to my coworker. Can you believe that as I jogged to the door I could feel both of my calves wanting to cramp and pull? I'm serious. What kind of runner can't even jog across a parking lot without a major injury??

I have a neighbor who for reasons which are hard to explain decided to spray the bushes and trees on the south side of my lawn with poison. The resulting damage to the tree nearly killed it. All the leaves curled up and died. Then bore worms drilled into the tree starting at the top and began literally sucking the life out of it, rapidly working their way down the trunk towards the roots. I dumped a can of fertilizer at the base of the tree, ground up aspirin and dumped it at the base, and then hosed the tree with insecticide to try to kill the borers. I finally had to hack the top off the tree, leaving a big stump and a few straggled branches alive, just to stop those boring futhermuckers from devouring the entire tree. So far it has survived, but just barely.

Near the tree is an evergreen bush. I hadn't noticed any problems with the bush until just this week. It steadily turned brown all the way around, starting at the back and working around the bush to the front. By the time I went to investigate what was happening to the bush it had become infested with the most bagworms that I have ever seen. There are so many bagworms on this bush that they have knocked each other off the branches, leaving piles of bagworms on the ground deep enough that I could shovel them up if I were so inclined. I bought a giant bottle of Sevin and hosed that sucker until the bagworms were forced to put on swim trunks and snorkels. I did this 3 nights in a row after work.

Then I noticed that the 'burning bushes' in front of my house were all dead looking. I don't think my neighbor did this one. These stupid bushes have done this 2 years in a row. I can't remember what I had to do last year to save them, so already having the bottle of Sevin on the hose, I soaked them with it. THEN I examined them. This neighborhood has some sort of fungus curse. I don't know what the deal is, but when I moved in every plant had this nasty gray fungus killing absolutely everything. I had to drown all plants with fungicide just to save them. That was years ago. When I examined the Burning Bushes I saw that stupid fungus on them again. So I mixed up and fungicide and sprayed them down top to bottom.

I know what you're thinking right now. Yes, this has got to be the most boring post I have ever written. Patience!

It's a tad humid out tonight
It was 7 pm when I went outside to do all these things. The sun was setting already. It was 87 degrees outside. I swear the humidity must be 150%, maybe 200%. Sure, that's technically not possible. But the instant I set foot outside my house I was pouring sweat. And I was already sweating just walking around inside my house while I debated whether to go outside and deal with this crap. Its ridiculous!

So ... yes, I'm starting a sentence with 'so' .... so after all this poisoning and sweating and cursing I finally came inside the house to shower. My t-shirt was a disaster of sweat, so I threw it into the sink and turned on the faucet to presoak it. I had to start doing this after two of my t-shirts actually molded while sitting in the laundry waiting to be washed because they were so wet with sweat.

No, I'm totally serious. You think you know humidity? We got your humidity right here, bucko!

So I threw my t-shirt into the sink, stoppered it, and turned on the faucet to presoak it. Then I jumped into the shower. After showering I turned off the water and stood in the shower drying off. But I could still hear water running. I stood there looking around, worrying that I might have a plumbing issue to deal with on top of everything else. Finally I stepped out of the shower. The faucet at the sink was still running. And the sink, being one of those modern shell-shaped artsy-fartsy things, has no emergency drain hole near the top and so had filled completely up and was overflowing into the floor. The bathroom floor was a swimming pool!

Care for a swim?

I swam over to the sink and turned off the faucet. Then I started throwing towels frantically onto the floor to soak it up. I ran out of towels pretty quickly, even throwing the towel I had been drying off with into the ocean of sink puke.

And then I opened the bathroom door.

The hallway was a lake. I swam across to the linen closet and started yanking out towels, throwing them into the pond that was once my faux hardwood floor.

Oh, speaking of faux hardwood floors, do you know what happens to laminated cardboard faux hardwood floors when they get soaked like this? Yeah, they ruin. So I was in a panic.

About this time, my wife came home. She found me standing in a pool in the hallway, towels everywhere, and me stark naked and still dripping wet.

"What the hell happened?!"

I can't believe this isn't a Monday. It sure feels like a Monday. It couldn't have been a much worse day. Oh, and my cat has a bladder infection and keeps peeing and peeing and peeing. And the vet can't see her until Friday. So there's THAT.

Can I pee here?

Friday, July 11, 2014

Broken Rules

So Monday I was all hurt. My right calf was a mess. I even wrote a blog post that was more than just a Wordless Wednesday to tell you all about it. Yep. And I swore I wouldn't run.

And then on Wednesday I looked in my gym bag and found my calf sleeve and I thought to myself, "I don't want to bike today. I want to run. I wonder ...."

So I put that sucker on and I ran.

And I had no problems!

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Wordless Wednesday - Tour de France and calf injuries

Lately its either been Wordless Wednesday or another post about my latest in a steady stream of injuries. Well, this isn't Wednesday, so ... well, hang on, by the time I post this it'll be Wednesday. OK, I'll combine the two then. Here's a photo:

And now for the latest injury update. Monday I got back on my horse, er, treadmill and went for a run. This time I started off slowly and walked steadily faster for the first half mile before breaking into a run. This is how I had been doing it before while training for the Cotton Row. I'd slowly speed up, making sure my body was thoroughly warmed up and then break into a run. After breaking into a slow run I'd continue speeding up until I reached a speed I felt comfortable with. It was when I sped up this process that I injured my formerly healthy right calf.

OK, so I walked faster and faster for the first half mile. Then I started into a slow run. It was SO boring. I admit, I punched the accelerate button on the treadmill more frequently than I had while preparing for the Cotton Row. I would run at a speed for maybe .15 of a mile and then speed up one notch. I reached a speed of around 10 minutes per mile, which is not fast or competitive by anyone's measure who isn't in a wheelchair or on crutches. I held it there, trying to focus on my form and not injuring anything. That didn't last long.

At about the 1.5 mile mark my right calf suddenly felt ... weird. I don't know how to explain it. It felt like it was about to cramp. I quickly jumped off the treadmill. A guy on the elliptical who had been working steadily away when I came in and was still going suddenly shouted at me, "come on, keep it going!" He was kidding, but I really did want to take his advice and jump back on again. I told him I had a calf injury and I was worried about what was going on down there. I stretched a little and then tried getting back on. It still felt weird. And I was worried. It wasn't screaming "I'M HURT, YOU IDIOT" but it was definitely saying something.

I jumped off again. I slowed the speed a bit and tried jogging along. No good. Something was off with my injured calf. It was warning me that it was about to blow again. So I slowed the treadmill to a fast walk speed and tried that. Nope, no go.

I shut off the treadmill and started walking carefully around the gym. I stretched and stretched my calf. Nothing doing. It was warning me to lay off. So I, being stubborn, started doing calf raises. I wasn't leaping and hopping like a moonshadow or anything, but I did them slow and steady. It really didn't seem to hurt anything. After 3 sets I stretched thoroughly and climbed onto the stationary bike. I rapid pedaled 2 miles and then called it quits. I know that 2 miles on a bike isn't much, but I was pretty preoccupied with my calf problem and it wasn't as if we had the Tour de France going on the TV. If we had then I'd have ridden a lot more. That thing is addictive. I was watching it the other night. Several other nights, too, actually. Those guys are drug-abusing performance machines! Anyway, enough about French cyclists on drugs.

Mais non

The guy on the elliptical was still pumping along when I stretched a final time and headed out the door. At home I guzzled a giant protein shake and showered. That night I iced the crap out of my calf again. Today it feels mostly OK. I'm not limping and it isn't hurting. But I know I won't be running tomorrow. Most likely I'll have to bike it. Maybe I can find the Tour de France on the TV this time.



Thursday, June 19, 2014


Monday I returned to running again. In fact, I had a phenomenal run on Monday. I ran faster than I have all year. And I felt great. What a surprisingly good Monday!

Wednesday was a great beginning. I started my warm-up. The guy I've been running with, more or less, never warms up. He jumps on the treadmill and cranks it up to his top speed. Then he just runs at that speed for 3 miles. Wa-la, he's done. I have this long, careful process I always go through where I slowly build up speed, from fast walking to a jog to finally working my way up to my actual intended speed.

Ah, but not today. Today I felt great. Especially after Monday's awesome run. So today I jumped on my treadmill and started walking. The other guy jumped on his treadmill and cranked up the motor, running flat out. I rapidly skipped past the fast walking to a slow run. But I was bumping up against the handle already. This was too slow.

So I sped up. I sped up to the top speed I ran on Monday. Yay me. This was going well!

I ran at a good solid speed for 1.33 miles. I felt great. A little stiff, but mostly great.

Then my calf pulled.

Oh no, not the left calf, the calf I've injured and reinjured over and over. No, this was the right calf. This was the only calf I have been able to rely on year after year while the left calf was a constant problem.

As soon as I felt the pain I leaped off the treadmill. I stretched and limped around the gym. I stretched some more. I used the rollers on a lower back machine to work my calf like a massage roller. I stretched some more. No good. It's hurt.


Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Cotton Row Run 2014

Race day has come and gone. I ran it yesterday. It was a hot and humid day. I had set small goals for this race. I had good reasons for that with my recent record of injuries. Even so, I was somewhat disappointed.

After 2 straight years of limping across the finish line of the Cotton Row's 5K race with a painfully shredded calf muscle I was encouraged by people close to me to lower my goals here and simply try to finish this event without any injuries. That includes all my training and the race itself since both previous years I was injured while training and had to focus on rehabbing the injury enough to be able to race at all instead of working on improving my speed and time. The results were embarrassing race times of over 30 minutes for a 3.1 mile race. For a person who has never run competitively that might be a time they can accept. For me it is humiliating.

The Cotton Row Run was started as a 10K race, 6.2 miles of Alabama heat and asphalt, with an obstacle they call "heart attack hill" thrown in somewhere between miles 3 and 4 just for fun. At some point, with the rising popularity of 5K races, they shifted the 10K race back an hour to 7 am and added a 5K race at 9 am. When I was young I ran the 10K and was competitive in terms of my times. But even then, had they fired their starting gun at 7 am I wouldn't have been there in time to compete. I'm no morning person, never was and never will be. So these days the 10K is out of the question for me. As injury-prone as I am at 9 am I would be worse if I tried to run while barely awake and poorly warmed-up at 7 am.

Anyway, I don't want to summarize this race for a third time. I wrote about as many details of the race as I could recall in 2012 and 2013. It's hot. There are a number of annoyingly selfish participants who get in the front of the starting line and walk when the starting gun sounds. They walk in the middle of the road, blocking all the runners just like I'm sure they drive in the passing lane at excessively slow speeds and refuse to get over or let anyone by. Each year these narcissistic 'runners' have increased in number and selfishness. This year was the worst. At one point 5 girls stood shoulder to shoulder all the way across the road blocking the entire course. Real runners started abandoning the street and running on the sidewalks. That is technically against the rules, but if the race officials aren't going to enforce their own rules against blocking runners and all that they clearly aren't going to enforce rules against leaving the course and running down the sidewalks. Eventually all the real runners were streaming down either side of the course on the sidewalks while the narcissistic obstructionists were in the center of the road, blocking everyone.

Let's get in the middle of the race course and walk

At one point I had a woman race up to get next to me, then jam her shoulder in front of me to block me from passing her. I sped up, stepped around her and got ahead. She sped up and jammed her shoulder in again. She did this 3 times. Finally, I put my hand up to stiff arm her away from me, but she fell back and was never able to catch up with me again. You can maneuver to block runners in a track meet, but in a friendly 5K race with a full street you are not allowed to do that crap. She was unfortunately what I'm increasingly seeing among the up and coming generation of 'entitled' runners. I quit soccer due to injuries and people like her. I noticed that this year's Cotton Row Run had the fewest runners I've ever seen this year in both events, the 10K and the 5K. I'm wondering if more real runners are quitting this race for the same reason - selfish pricks who would rather hurt others than compete.

My first mile split time was 10:30. That was the pace I had planned to run. It was slower than my previous 2 years, but I was trying a new strategy. My second mile split was 21 something. I don't recall, but it was right on schedule. I was trying to conserve energy and avoid injury prior to the third mile. I hoped that by doing this I would have more energy to speed up on the final mile and sprint the final stretch and across the finish line. This is how I used to run. I always had a last burst of energy for the final 100 yards. Of course, I often puked as I crossed the finish line, but my times were good and it was working for me. My final mile was often my fastest. I was also relatively injury-free, which helped. This year I hoped to get back to that strategy again.

I trained for this race for about 6 weeks, running 3 and 4 times per week. Several times I came extremely close to a serious injury, usually involving my calf and once, just last week, involving my hamstring. I started off blasting into my training, focusing on speed work and expecting to simply work up to the distance as I went. But with so many close calls I was encouraged to lower my expectations. Several people suggested that I simply aim to finish this race without being injured. I don't know if I made the right decision or not, but I decided to listen to them. I stopped doing speed work and simply ran my distance with a steady increase in speed until I reached the pace I wanted to run the entire race at, and then held it there to the end for each workout. This seemed like a safe way to train. Given enough time I think it could work. Maybe. Either way, one thing I know for sure is that I wasn't even going to show up to the starting line if I was already injured on race day like I was the past 2 years.

It was hot. During the 10K race the sky was cloudy and the sun was blocked. This helped keep things cooler, not that it was comfortable exactly. But by 9 am at the start of the 5K race the clouds were clearing out. We had full sun. It quickly got hot. The weather channel says it was 90 degrees Fahrenheit. I don't know the humidity level, but it was unpleasant.

This was NOT how it looked when I got to the water station

One thing I did during this race, which I can't explain exactly, was a big mistake. I don't know what I was thinking. After mile 1 there was a water station. With all the obstructionists on the course, they stopped at these water stations, took a cup of water, and stood there in the way so other runners couldn't get water. So when I came to the first water station, I had to stop, reach over someone standing in the way, and grab a cup of water. At that point I was at a dead stop, not running at all. I sipped my water as I walked away from the crowd of people standing around the water station. Yes, walked. I sipped only what I needed, then dumped the rest over my head, and began running again. I did this again at the 2nd water station, coming to a complete stop in order to get to the water. I've never done this before, stopping and then walking for a period before running on. I don't know how to explain why I did it this year when I had no injury and could have potentially run a quicker time than the past 2 years. I wasted probably a full minute doing this.

Up ahead of me a runner suffered heat stroke. People said he came down the final stretch flopping all over like a rag doll. He wobbled and stumbled and weaved and teetered with a wild look on his face. When he crossed the finish line 2 paramedics caught him just as he collapsed.

On the third mile I was feeling the heat. I was a lot more tired than I should have been considering I wasn't running an exceptionally fast pace up to that point. I was starting to droop, feeling my back weakening and encouraging me to lean forward. My form was breaking. There are no real hills of any significance on the 5K course, just little inclines here and there along the way. By the third mile those little inclines were straining me. This was the point where I had planned to be stretching out my stride, speeding up ever so slightly, and cutting at least a full minute off my mile pace, if not two or three.

It wasn't happening. I felt as if I was holding my pace well enough, perhaps slowing just a bit, but not too bad. My first mile was a 10:30. My second nearly a flat 10. If my third mile matched my first I should still be able to shoot for a 31 minute time. It'd be 1 minute and 1 second too slow, but still better than my worst time, which was 33:15 two years ago in the 2012 Cotton Row. My second worst time was 31 flat in last year's Cotton Row, so it wasn't looking good for me even equaling that anymore. And forget about my goal of coming in under 30 minutes.

I spent the last mile struggling to hold my form, control my breathing, and try my best to at least hold my speed when I felt like slowing down. I should have been going faster, but it just wasn't happening. At the final tenth of a mile I kicked it up with what little I had left. I stretched out my stride and 'sprinted' across the finish line. I didn't even bother looking at the clock. I knew my time was crap. I just didn't know how bad it was yet.
The race organizers seemed to take forever to finally post my time up on the wall. I almost wished they hadn't. It was an all-time slow 33:45, my worst ever.

Epic Fail

All I can say about this race is that I achieved my revised goal - I finished the race uninjured. I'm not sure if it was worth it or not. Even limping so badly that I didn't think I could run the last mile I ran a 31:00 last year. Maybe I just run better when I'm hurt?

My training goals for this race were too conservative. Aiming for a negative goal like not getting injured encourages you to hold back when you should be pushing harder. Somewhere in the middle should be my training target - not too aggressive and not too conservative, not insane and not completely lame. Basically I need to be pushing it hard, but not so hard that I get injured.

I'm supposed to run again tomorrow. I think after this disaster I'm going to have to pick up the pace and find me another race to run to see if I can redeem myself before the summer is over. The only other race I'm signed up for at the moment is the Warrior Dash, and Lord knows that isn't going to be a race time I can do anything with. Besides the uniqueness of the course, it recently involved killer hills that are a completely different challenge for me, one that I want to beat this time.

Monday, May 19, 2014

1 Week to Race Day

With only one week to go until the Cotton Row Run I've been trying to keep my training light, with minimal risk for injury. Today I ran the usual 3 miles at a cautious pace. I steadily sped up until the end, as usual. Everything was fine until the last half mile. As is apparently typical of my luck, suddenly my hamstring started to tighten up. I had wanted to go faster, but my hamstring kept getting tighter and my low back stiffened up, too. I almost stopped running early just to make SURE I didn't pull my hamstring.

I finished my 3 miles and immediately slowed down, did my cool down, and stretched my hamstrings, lower back and calves. As I walked across the parking lot to my car I could feel my damn hamstring tweaking the entire way. I ended up limping to the car. It doesn't even feel like I ever really pulled it. It never popped or screamed or burned and tore. It just tightened. It tightened until I was limping, which is pretty much what an injury looks like.

So I'm home now. I drank my protein and various other recovery-oriented chemicals. I massaged the hamstring. And I've got an ice pack under both hamstrings. I realize only one of them is hurt, but with my luck I figure there's no point in taking any chances. I'm icing them both.

The Mayo Rudolph Show

Other than that tremendously exciting new, I'm watching the Maya Rudolph Show, which is brand new. It appears to be a modern version of the old Carol Burnett Show, but she's got a lot of super talented people so it just might work. Well, except there's way too much singing. Speaking of all the singing, Kristin Bell is on the show and she can sing like crazy. I mean, she's honestly incredibly good.

So that's really all I have to say for now. My hamstring appears to be very close to injured. I guess I'll know for sure tomorrow when I try to get out of bed. Until then, I think I'll Google Kristen Bell for awhile and see where it takes me.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Wordless Wednesday - Be Healed

I spent the weekend not feeling terribly well. And by Monday I was a poop machine. The only running I was doing was to the bathroom. I may have even damaged the porcelain in the toilet with the shear velocity of my butt vomit.

All of this is simply to say that I didn't run on Monday. If I feel well enough on Wednesday I'll run then. Or give it a try.

Saturday, May 10, 2014


My running has slowed down. I've narrowly managed to avoid injury so far, which is good, but my energy levels are crashing. Each time I run I just don't feel like it. And then even when I can tell my body is able to go faster I don't feel the same enthusiasm about speeding up that I had been feeling. The race is 18 days away and I am doing something wrong. I suspect I'm not getting enough rest, as in sleep. I'm sure it doesn't help that this morning I woke up choking and gagging like I had inhaled a tennis ball in my sleep. I have no idea what happened, but sleep apnea runs in my family so ... bad sign.

Enough about running. I ran Friday. It was a crappy run, but it's done. So I'll leave it there.

Veronica, there's nothing on TV but crap

It's Saturday and I'm waiting to pick someone up at the airport. Nothing and I mean NOTHING is on TV. I'm watching reruns of Veronica Mars. I'll grant you that Kristin Bell is hot and so are all her female costars on the show, but this show has never been my thing. Almost all the girls in 90210 were hot, too, but that doesn't mean I'd sit around watching it for my own personal entertainment, you know? I am a Kristin Bell fan, though. So that's how I settled on Veronica Mars instead of dirt track car racing. That's my only other option and I'm not in the mood to see unrecognizable garage-built roll cages wrapped in thin sheet metal and identical small block Chevy crate engines go around in circles in the mud. I wish they still raced cars off the showroom floor, more or less, instead of every race being cars that look only vaguely like something you might recognize. There was once a time when they actually did take cars from dealerships antd tweak them a little before hitting the track and racing. That must be shocking to kids who have never seen that before. But that was what made racing popular. Now, because no one can recognize the cars, they have to jump them like motocross bikes in order to generate enthusiasm. I have nothing against jumping, especially since they aren't real cars, but I'd rather watch bikes do it.

What kind of car is this supposed to be?

Wow, that was a serious mental fart there.

One of the credits at the end of Veronica Mars is "Super Hot Guy." If that isn't a big red flag that this isn't a show for guys to watch I don't know what is. Time to flip around and see if anything new has come on that I might watch.

Did they seriously make a movie called "Son of Batman?" I mean, SERIOUSLY?!!!

OK, endurocross - that's what I settled on. I understand why they've moved motorcycle racing into stadiums - it generates more money. But I still like the outdoor races better. Motocross on an outdoor track is SO much cooler to watch. Endurocross is funky.

I have apparently wrecked my laptop like a champion. I had to take it to a guy to try to recover the data from the harddrive for me. He called me this morning and said "dude, I can't even get this drive to spin at all. It's toast." He's going to take it somewhere with specialized equipment as a last ditch effort, but if that fails then I am screwed.

Wow, bikes flying everywhere! Endurocross has the wildest wrecks. They're mostly low speed, but involve weird things like a bike that slides sideways along a log or a bike the jumps out from under a rider while he's got his feet down trying to get over an obstacle and the bike just shoots straight up into the air. It's insane. Ooh, rider goes down right on the rocks! Ouch!

OK, a rider on a Husqvarna won. The entire race was led by a rider on a KTM and then he bit the rocks and Husqvarna won. Just thought I'd throw that in there.

Since I mentioned my fried laptop I'd like to add that I HATE this Dell Inspirion I've bought to replace it with. Apparently Inspirion means "the big giant mousepad thingy is hypersensitive and will make typing impossible." I want to throw this computer through the front window and then get a sledgehammer and just pound it into the lawn. Seriously.

So, I get the impression that very few riders in motorcycle racing are tall. Either that or all the women who interview the winners after the race are giants because the women are always towering over the guys who win. I'm pretty sure the guys are small. I've been involved in several sports where being smaller was an advantage and I can see how that might work in motorcycle racing.

Good Lord, this woman has the most annoying voice!

I've been running with a coworker. He's able to just stretch a tiny bit and then GO. Me, I have to do a significant warm-up in order to get a sweat going and then maybe stretch a little, or a lot, and then gradually pick up speed, from a slow pace until I eventually reach my target speed. This seems to be the only way I am avoiding injuries. I remember when I could just slip my shoes on and hit it, but that seems to be long gone for me now. My coworker has never competed. I was surprised when he told me he's never even entered a race, let alone complete one. So I'm trying to inspire him to give a race a try.  We'll see if anything happens with this. I get the impression he's not the sort of person who likes change or risk or anything new. Anyway,

Monday, May 5, 2014

Running, Mowing, Burning, Throwing

I can't recall what I wrote last, but it was probably not terribly interesting and most likely relating to my training. Unfortunately, that's what I have to say again today, too. Sorry.

I had a lot of yard work to do over the weekend, and it took much more out of me than expected. There was a lot of fire involved, as well as a smaller-than-desired bow saw and me throwing, yes, throwing trees onto a giant pile. I'm not talking about shrubs here. I had previously chainsawed down some dead trees and then dragged them out onto the lawn for later disposal. I then left them there for weeks. Saturday I needed to mow, but couldn't because of all the big thick tree hulks that some idiot left covering my lawn. So I had to finally get out there and hoist them onto my shoulders and carry them off to the burn pile. And once at the burn pile, I had to throw them ever higher up onto it, as the pile grew taller and taller. It wouldn't have been nearly so difficult if the same idiot who left these trees all over my lawn hadn't first dragged pulled-up bushes from the front lawn into the back yard and thrown them onto the pile, making it taller than I would have preferred.

By the time I had cleared the yard and burned a much smaller portion of the shrubs than I had intended, the sun was setting and I was exhausted. And then Sunday came.

Sunday - mowing time. Normally I would pull out the trimmer and trim all the annoying little places that are such a problem for my riding mower. But when I awoke in the morning I found myself in pain, as well as completely lacking in energy. So I simply started up the riding mower and started attacking 1 acre of sunburn and grass. After 1 hour I realized I was going to fry out in the sun, so I stopped and ran inside to cover myself in sunscreen. Then it was back to work. Yay, so exciting!

I may have run over a brick, which my shockingly expensive lawn toy happily chopped into tiny little red pebbles and spit out into the grass to cause me more problems in the future. This did wonders for my blades, I feel certain. They say stone sharpens stone. I'm not sure if it works quite the same way with stone versus steel, but I'm hopeful.

By the time I finished with all the fun my lawn provided me, it was after 6 pm. It was at this point I decided to wash my cars. I don't know why. I just did. There are 4 in the driveway, all filthy. One, a large 4-wheel-drive truck, was actually growing moss on the north side of the camper shell. This may have had something to do with my sudden urge to wash.

At 7 pm I finished washing, mowing, brick chopping, etc, and crawled into the house for a shower. My body was completely shot. Thank God for the weekend!

Oh wait, this was my weekend.

So, Monday came and I had to go to work. And then, of course, do my workout after a full workday.

I may have mentioned once or twice that I've been trying to train for an upcoming race. And by 'upcoming' I mean it's this month. I'm running short on time. I don't really have any time for wasted workouts anymore. With that in mind I bravely lurched into the locker room, changed into my fancy sweat-wicking running clothes, and then stumbled down the hallway to the treadmills. I needed to run at least 3.1 miles, the full 5 km distance I plan to run on raceday, that being the distance of the race course, obviously. But once on the treadmill and feeling like an elderly crippled man, I managed to run a much shorter 2 miles. And by 'run' I mean I rapidly walked 1/2 a mile and then ran the other 1 1/2 mile. I told myself that a half run was better than no run, but I know that come race day I won't be buying a word of it. I'm going to be very sorry.

So anyway, I didn't get hurt. I mean, considering my horrible record of the past 2 years I really can call that a victory. 3 weeks to go until my race and I have yet to tear or sprain or strain or break anything. Now, saying it I have no doubt jinxed myself.  And if so, and I do get hurt, I'll be honest about the fact that I have no intention of trying to run this year if I am hurt this close to race day. It just isn't worth it. Either I'm going to start the race with whatever insufficient training as I can  manage, and no particular injury plaguing me, or else I'm not running it at all. Sound fair?

Tuesday, April 22, 2014


I've been fairly consistent with my workouts since starting back up again. I've made it into the weight room at least 3 times per week, each week, usually 4. When I've been in pain and unable to run I've either biked or used the elliptical. I've stuffed myself with protein and other recovery-oriented chemicals following my workouts and then slept like a corpse from total exhaustion.

But my strategy of trying to get my speed up without first getting my whole body back into the workout groove hasn't worked so well. My knee hurting and swelling I guess I can deal with. I've been pushing the speed and that puts added stress on the knee joint. But when my problematic calf gave me a twinge of pain and a threat of taking me out of this race one more time I took it as a big warning.

Yesterday, just to be cautious, I started walking and very slowly raised the treadmill speed one tenth of a second at a time. Even when I finally started running I kept raising the speed very slowly and very carefully. I never reached the speeds I've been running in previous workouts. I just reached a speed that I felt I could hold without my knee hurting or my calf tearing or cramping. It wasn't the speed I wanted, but I want to not be hurt more than I want to finally run a decent time again after 2 years in a row limping across the finish line in well over 30 minutes.

I didn't work out at all today. I had been working out 4 days per week, Monday through Thursday. I'm starting to believe that I'm trying to leap into this too quickly and all I'm going to do is reinjure myself just in time to not be able to run my race. So I'm cutting back, slowing down, and lowering my aim.

My new goal is to run the Cotton Row Run from start to finish without any injuries popping up and making me limp or walk prior to my crossing the stupid finish line. Reaching for the stars, I know. But considering the injury troubles I've had in the last 2 races I'm thinking this might be the best idea for me right now.

Sorry if this isn't very inspiring. If my workouts go better I may raise my aim a little. Otherwise, this is probably for the best. One injury-free race and then I will aim higher.

Not gonna be me