Saturday, March 11, 2017

Myrtle Beach Half Marathon 2017

Ah the Myrtle Beach Marathon. The best and really only good reason to visit MB. This time it was made better because we left the kids with Kelley's mom so we got a weekend all planned out for ourselves!
Road trip!

Couple of hitches, however. Ella has been sick off and on for about 3 weeks. Poor thing has been blowing it out of both ends, bless her heart. Sometimes at the same time (gross!) so it hasn't been pretty. Also my foot prevented any running at all since Jan 12, so I was going in totally cold. Not just untrained, but untrained and still in a fair amount of pain. I've been swimming, so hopefully a combination of arthritis medication and lung capacity could muscle me through something. I decided to drop back from the full and just run the half.

Packet pickup was smooth, but had the longest line ever seen for the swag. Great swag though, nice tech shirt and socks, even a new pair of orange sunglasses. And I ran into my friend Ocean there - hadn't seen her in a while.

Race day started really smooth. Got up before the alarm, dressed, medicated, ate breakfast, walked out to the start in plenty of time. Only problem was this asinine security line to nowhere. They had fenced off the sidewalk to be sure only the runners got into the starting corral, but it just turned into a bottleneck. I told people specifically that I would be hanging out around the 4 hour pace group and to find me there because I would be looking for them.

Have to turn right at that stop light to get to the starting corral
Literally, I made my way to the back of the massive pack of runners (about 4000 people total?) and heard 3 - 2 - 1- GO! No chance of finding my friends.

Still got a starting line picture
Then it was time to run. Took a couple of minutes to get over the starting line but eventually I took my first steps in over 7 weeks and it felt amazing. Muscle memory is a funny thing. As soon as my legs started turning over my foot began hurting worse, but I expected that. Mostly I tried to just appreciate the moment of finally running again. Since I started at the very back it was easy to pass lots of people in the first few miles.

I hit the 10k mark in 1:02, so that's not bad at all. In those first few miles I saw my friend Charlotte, running her 99th marathon and we talked for a while. I also ran some with Relentless Forward Commotion - always great to see Heather out there.

Charlotte always runs in costume - she was 99 bottles of beer today
Eventually I also caught up with the 4:15 pace group, but then had to poop and never saw them again. Really miles 6 - 10 were pretty uneventful, thank goodness. I didn't wear the garmin (that 1:02 split came from the official results), but it started at 6:32 am and I took this pic at the 10 mile marker at 8:20 am, so we'll call that around 1:48. Pretty sluggish by my standards, but again I was just happy to be out there.
Still almost smiling
At the mile 11 marker the wheels fell off. My arthritis really kicked in on my hands, I couldn't come anywhere close to making a fist anymore. My legs were killing me, the injured foot felt like it was going to fall off. I decided to just walk it in from there. It had gone from "not fun" into "completely miserable" territory. I would jog a little bit here and there when I wanted to get away from someone annoying, but for the most part I just kept my head down and kept moving forward.

Evil Genius decided to call me in mile 11. Fortunately I wasn't even out of breath and could easily talk to her, although I did feel like kind of a douche for taking the call in the middle of a race. She said mommy wasn't answering which meant Kelley was still asleep and she needed to relay some instructions. Ella had barfed again that morning, a couple of times and wanted us to come home. Actually, EG gave specific instructions. 1. Finish the race 2. take a shower and eat something 3. take Mommy for a long walk on the beach where you can hold hands, then 4. drive back to Raleigh. Isn't that sweet.

Got my medal!
I hit the finish line in 2:27:38, which is a far cry from the 1:47 I put up the last time I ran the half here. But you can only be so upset about finishing a half marathon with absolutely no training. I didn't really stick around for the post race festivities this time, but they are fantastic. I really wanted that beer, but first priority was finding a bathroom. Those were on the way out of the park anyway, so I just headed back to the hotel.

After a quick shower we still hit the breakfast at the hotel. Our little secret is that we always stay at the La Quinta at Broadway at the Beach. It's nice, clean, cheap, and you can walk to the start/finish line. We also managed to walk some of the stores at Broadway, and did hold hands for a bit. But then headed back to Raleigh pretty soon. Stopped in the small town of Calabash NC for some lunch and shopping, and still made it back to Raleigh before dinner. Ella was feeling better the next day. And my first race of 2017 is in the books.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

The Secondary

The joint pain feels pretty good. We've had some amazing weather here in NC. I haven't started physical therapy yet just because I've been unable to get an appointment. Saturday is the Myrtle Beach half marathon, I'm looking forward to running for the first time since January. Monday is my follow up appointment with the orthopedist, then Tuesday is the first physical therapy appointment. It should be an appropriate recovery from attempting to run my first 13.1 miles since mid-January.

Swim: 16,400 yards, 6 swims
Bike: 28.4 miles, 3 rides
Run: 0
Strength: 4 times
Yoga: 1 time

February started off pretty decent, but before too long the total body inflammation kicked in. that was really rough. Remember like 3 years ago when I could workout 14 times a week? yeah, now I got in 14 workouts on the month. I'm getting used to this much rest, and can understand why fatties are such a fan of being lazy. I think I got my nutrition under control too, I've been vegan for a couple of weeks now but it's not having the same benefits that it did a few years ago.

I've been hanging upside down some and I think it's really helping. Literally, I picked up some gravity boots from Amazon and have been hanging from the iron gym. It's awesome. Really helps my back and knees feel better.

Other Fun Family Stuff
After last month's drone experiment the kids loved playing with my old radio controlled car. We're having a blast. We also got in some fun date nights, and Evil Genius had a science fair project due.

Ella left me a sweet note asking to go play with the car

I like to repeat the joke

On a Habitat for Humanities project with the team from work!

My whole team joined up for a day of Build a Block. It was great fun and really built some comraderie. So nice that our company gives us two days a year to volunteer!

Hope you had a great February too! The second(ary) month of the year is always short, sometimes leaves me sick, but this year also had some fun.

Monday, February 20, 2017

The problem with pain

The orthopedist was very friendly on Monday, but didn't have any real answers. She said my foot pain was "something tendon related" and wanted an MRI. I chose not to pay for the MRI when the outlook was likely to be the same - a few weeks of physical therapy and a prescription for NSAID's. Turns out the anti-inflammatory's are an arthritis medication, but the xray did not reveal any "significant" arthritis buildup.

I'm starting the physical therapy next week, and after talking to a friend at church today I feel really good about that. The drugs have been working great on my foot as well, it really feels better. Not 100% yet, but really manageable. I'm still in the foot brace or the orthotics, and no running yet (going on almost 6 weeks now).

Side effects from the drugs has included gaining 12 pounds in the first week. that's not cool. Also the joint pain in my hands is showing some signs of improvement, but my elbows are having some new and pretty serious joint pain. Also muscle pain around my elbows, forearms mostly. I tried doing some pushups the other day, and could barely make it through 10 instead of my usual 50. I tried swimming Monday night when Ella was back in her swim team practice too, and barely 300 yards in my arms were heavy and killing me. The rest of the night it was agonizing joint pain in the elbows and forearms. And I haven't had a single workout since then. No yoga, swimming, running, biking, weights, anything.

The hardest part about chronic joint pain is not letting it bring negativity into every other part of your life. My family well knows that if I go a few days without a decent workout I get very short tempered. Right now I'm working very hard to remain patient. It feels like I'm suddenly aging very fast. It's more than just accepting some time off for an injury. Normal rest should make you feel better, not make everything else fall apart.

I don't know what's going on anymore, or what I'm supposed to do about it. And until I figure that out, I am just going to keep taking the drugs and going to physical therapy and take everything else one day at a time.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

So much better

Truly, I am amazed at how much better 2017 has already been than what 2016 was. At work I got promoted to being a team lead a few weeks ago. The software we've been building since last spring has gone live and we picked up a few hundred customers in the first week. This is huge! So huge, in fact, that I got named Team Lead for another team as well. It's a new team formed to do the same process to another piece of software. So now I'm leading 9 other engineers on 2 separate teams on 2 separate pieces of software. It's a crazy amount of responsibility, but I'm loving it so far. Really getting to use the leadership skills again.

January was largely wonderful. We got some snow, I got some stories.

Swim: 31,950 yards, 10 swims
Bike: 62.2 miles, 5 rides
Run: 15 miles, 2 runs
Yoga: 10 times
Strength: 8 times

Actually I thought I swam more often than that. on 1/17 I wrenched out my lower back picking up EG, so I lost that entire week. Chiropractor and acupuncture took care of that. However I am still dealing with some constant pain in my right foot. I have not run a mile since Jan 12 and there is no end in sight. To help fix that, I was stepping up the crosstraining by doing more core work and getting back on the bike. I'm actually enjoying the bike a bit more these days. I usually lift weights before I ride, and I can actually feel the muscles around my right knee strengthening. That's going to help the foot heal. However, I've been dealing with this foot pain for about 4 months now. It's time to see an orthopedist. Yoga also really steps up the foot pain, so that's out for a while too.

12 in 12 update
Well, as you might imagine this whole goal is really down the drain. My next round of marathons was supposed to start in March. I cut the Myrtle Beach marathon back down to the half, and just deferred the Tobacco Road marathon until 2018. Also I added the Javelina Jundred 100k in January. So I got up to 11 marathons in 13 months, then back down to 9. 2017 will end up with 6 marathons or ultras, plus that half. And I'm going to knock 3 more states off of my list.

It's also time to add in some swim races. Something unique is coming up the first weekend of June. The US Masters Open Water Championship is going in Chattanooga Tennessee. I'm going to swim the 2.4 mile race on Saturday, then kayak for my buddy Tom when he does the 9.2 mile swim on Sunday. Add in the 3 open water series races here in Raleigh and that should fill out my race schedule for the year. Might throw in a 5 mile swim near Richmond, but I've looked at that one before.

We got some snow in January, so the kids got to play in it! I got pictures of the snow, and of the kids playing, but not both at the same time #dadfail

I did go run in the snow

Have yak trax, will log easy miles

Made it to the state capital! 10 miles in the snow was amazing.

Walked to the chinese restaurant across the street like this

My favorite yoga studio had a grand opening for the new owners

While drunk, I bought a small drone on Amazon. The kids destroyed it quickly.

My little ham has started digging bacon

But she's still a ham. and an Evil Genius.

We're building onto the back of the shed!
We need to add some partially protected space to the back of the shed so I added this pad in the last weekend of January. Felt good to flex my landscaping skills again. We'll add a couple of walls to this, then move the kiln out there so it will be well ventilated but still out of the rain. Kelley is looking forward to firing some pottery without having to go down to the studio.

So that's it! I'll be sure and post what happens to this stupid foot. Looking forward to a fun and exciting February here.

Monday, February 6, 2017

About Transformations

This past Sunday was Scout Recognition Day at our church. Our church sponsors a boy scout troop that has a particularly high turnout rate of Eagle Scouts. Also, I've been meditating for a while around the concept of transformation, more specifically this quote:

During the regular church service the scoutmaster gets up to talk about the troop and the ideals of the boy scouts, and how they align with the goals of the church. Then all of the current and former scout leaders, as well as any Eagle Scouts in the congregation, stand for recognition. Something really clicked for me then, and I want to explain it here.

I distinctly remember waking up on my 17th birthday (almost 25 years ago), rolling over in bed and staring down my boy scout handbook. My first thought was "I have one year left to finish this and if I don't do it now it will never happen". I knew what I had to do.

Telling people that you are an Eagle Scout sets - well "expectation" is the wrong word. There is a reputation that precedes you at that point, but that's a good thing. Eagle scouts know the value of honesty, are trustworthy, and have a natural leadership ability. The keyword is that you "achieve the rank of Eagle Scout" because it's not something that you can just step into or pay for. It takes more work than most people realize.

Everyone knows there are a large list of merit badges that you have to complete. Those are checklists, things where everyone has to put together the same accomplishments like riflery (shooting a .22 5 times inside of the diameter of a quarter on a gun range). Some people know there has to be an Eagle Scout Project where you have to build and lead a team through ideas, funding, materials, and project completion. My project involved remodeling part of a house for an elderly couple taking care of an adult son with disabilities. Very few people know that you then have to defend your accomplishments to a council of scoutmasters. I had my council meeting about 10 days before my 18th birthday.

12 year old me who joined the scouts just wanted to go camping with my childhood best friend. I learned the value of honesty, and standing up for what's right. I became a trustworthy person and then led my peers and kept the younger scouts in line just like the older scouts kept me in line. At the time I didn't realize how distinct that transformation was, but from age 12 to 18 I did transform myself to achieve the rank. It certainly still has a lasting affect on me to this day.

Lots of people add "finish an Ironman" to their bucket list. I wasn't necessarily one of them. I was a pack a day smoker for 15 years. I was an obese, heavy drinker. When I finished my first sprint triathlon I had two thoughts: First, I knew I had beaten my tobacco addiction. It's been 9 years, still happy about that. Second, I thought those people who did Ironmans were idiots - certifiably insane.

The Ironman brand's mantra is "anything is possible", and you learn what that means during Ironman training. As humans, we don't have limits. Our mind sets up what we can and cannot do. If you can change your mind, you can alter your entire reality.

To get ready for Ironman training I lost the rest of the weight. I established a solid aerobic base during the weight loss phase by running 5 miles on the treadmill 5 days a week for several months straight. Then I increased my endurance steadily over time, joined a US Masters swim team, and started increasing my time on the bike. The training plan for a full iron takes about 9 months working out twice a day, 6 days a week. Ideally, you want to ride 5 times, run 5 times, swim 2 or 3 times, and still work in some yoga/stretching and strength training every week too.

Your body turns iron long before race day. On 11/5/2011 I finished Ironman Florida in 13:06:24 and became an Ironman. The day of the race was a magical celebration, swimming in the Gulf of Mexico, riding through a breezy flat course, then running my way to hear an announcer say "John Flynn You Are An Ironman" - and all of those hours of sweat paid off in exponential ways that were better than I had imagined.

I had transformed myself from smoker to triathlete, then from triathlete to Ironman. The registration anxiety was crazy the day I signed up. I wasn't that guy who actually thought I could finish the race I had just dropped $700 on. I had to change myself into someone who could do that. I learned discipline, confidence, and where my limits were (hint: I don't have any)

Since the Scout Recognition Day happened in Church, it got me thinking about the transformation that happens when you accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. It gives me a sense of peace. The unending love that God has for us is the same love that we should show for our fellow man.

Muslims pray 5 times a day which seems absurd to so many Americans. But if we ask a blessing before each meal, start the day with some prayer and meditation time, and finish each day by thanking God for what happened that day, we're there as well. And if you establish a new pattern of prayer, do you think God will transform something in your life if you keep praying often enough?

When you learn how to love yourself, you then learn how to love others. If I can grow so many different ways above, then I can help others grow in their own way. Being a Christian has determined how I lead my family, what I teach my kids, and how I build my social circles. Currently I sing in the sanctuary choir and truly love sharing my gift of song.

Your goals don't have to be my goals. It took me 6 years to transform myself into an Eagle Scout. It took 4 years to go from smoker to Ironman. I was baptized at age 12, and I bet eventually I'll become a decent church member. What has transformed you in the past? How do you want to transform in the future? Any good, big goals ahead?

Postlude: Goals don't have to be physical. Now at 41, I've been fighting foot pain long enough that I'm starting to abandon my race schedule and start swimming more. I just can't run yet and I miss it so much. Actually, I've noticed that every time I do what I love I complain about it. Get in the pool? no flip turns today, my back hurts. Running? foot pain. can't get enough miles to properly train for the upcoming marathons. Also I have no idea what I'm going to do about that. Goals might also instill setting priorities. I still want to finish a full marathon or longer in all 50 states so this years new states have to be the priority. But am I too old for this? Some days I feel too old for a lot of things. Age is another form of transformation, I guess.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Acupuncture Works

Last week I made the appointment to try acupuncture for the first time, and boy am I ever glad that I did. Then Monday night I wrenched out my lower back trying to pick up an Evil Genius that fell asleep in the wrong place. That hurt. so bad. all week. I did make it to swim practice Monday at noon, got in 4000 yards, and I haven't been able to do a darn thing since. No yoga, no pushups, no swim/bike/run.  Hell most days I could barely stand.

on the table
Thank goodness I found Essential Wellness Acupuncture & Herbal Medicine on google. The office is very close to my home and office and the rates seemed affordable, so I booked an appointment for Thursday afternoon. I was a bit nervous, not gonna lie there. I didn't expect it to hurt but also thought it might be a giant waste of time. Boy was I wrong.

The doc was great, he listened to all of my whining about my foot and back and then started sticking needles into me. At first he tapped the needle through the skin, then pushed it another half an inch deeper into the muscle. Then there was some kind of battery packed hooked up for electro-stim. There was a heat lamp involved. It took about 20 minutes, I may have fallen asleep.

me back!

He hit all the right spots

this looks insane
Afterwards, he did some massage on my legs that was nice, and really made me realize how tight my hamstrings are. Then I tried to stand up.

Fun fact, muscle stimulation releases something like toxins. Once those toxins are released, they have to be flushed out. So I'm using the term "stand up" pretty loosely there. I could barely walk. But I knew the release was a good thing. One of the benefits of acupuncture is increased recovery time so I knew my lower back hurting bad at the time was going to mean some extra water that night and it would finally feel better in the morning. 

Sure enough, I was right. I walked out of there with no foot pain, and the next morning I had no back pain. It was pretty magical.

Foot pain came back by Sunday, but definitely not as bad as it was before. He said it would take 1-4 treatments, and if it was a muscular problem it would be more effective. If it was a tendon problem, not so much. So I'm hopeful that it is actually muscular and this will hold up. Still going to take another week before I try running again, but I will be able to swim and get back on the yoga mat again tomorrow. And that is fantastic.

I tried taking a few pictures while I was upside down on the table and it was pretty horrible/funny

Not too bad, really

where did all those gray hairs come from?

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Gravity Catches

The quote is "Old age and gravity eventually catch up to us all" is totally ringing true these days. So far 2017 is going great, really. I'm moving into a managerial role at work, the kids are doing great at school, and we had some good snow days last week. I'm settling into a really good pattern of workouts that are a lot of fun, even if they aren't getting me really prepared for my March marathons. This is not a downer post.

But I do miss running! I've been getting out there about once a week since 11/6. Actually I took the first 3 weeks off completely after the City of Oaks marathon. This tendonitis in my right foot hasn't gone away yet. I thought that by January I could get back up to 30-50 mile weeks so my patience is wearing a bit thin here. I'm taking the zen practice of acceptance approach to the whole thing. Fixing it now will be easier than fixing it later. Take each day as it comes. I've got 5 marathons coming up, it's better to rest now and miss the first few than to push it now and miss them all.

Last night Evil Genius fell asleep in the wrong place. That meant Daddy had to correct the situation. That meant Daddy threw out his lower back trying to pick up a little girl. And that meant Daddy was laughing aaaaaalllllll day about how much pain he was in.

I really did think it was funny. I mean, you have to be able to laugh at yourself. So today I went to the chiropractor and got a fantastic adjustment. My regular tuesday has been some yoga before work, then hitting the weights and the stationary bike at the gym at night. I decided not to workout at all today to let the back recoup. It feels great now.

Also today I made an appointment for the dentist to makeup for one that got cancelled during snowpocalypse. I also called to setup a new patient appointment for a family physician. The last time I got a cold of some kind I wanted antibiotics but didn't have a regular doc to take care of that. So I'm going in for a physical so that situation won't come up again. Also I made an appointment to get some acupuncture, hopefully that will FINALLY help this foot tendonitis heal up!

But as a health nut, going to the chiropractor on the same day that I line up visits for acupuncture, a filling, and a physical just seems excessive. I shouldn't need to talk to four doctors offices in one day. But I guess old age and gravity really do catch up to us all.