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.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

The Dumpster Fire


For a 2016 year in review, it was really a fucking dumpster fire. My 2007 was really bad, this may be worse. Kelley doesn't think it was. I really am trying to stay positive going into 2017 but it's not easy. 2016 was filled with personal failures, depression, and deaths. and I'm not even talking about anything related to the election yet. But it does seem like personally (and nationally) someone took out all of the trash and set it on fire.

Highlights
Start with the positive! I've been thinking hard to find something good that happened in 2016. Two events really stand out. First, I had an absolutely amazing trip to San Diego last January. Traveling with my parents made that really special. Later this year my dad was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease so he might not be able to make big trips like this much longer. I finished my first 50 miler out there and had a wonderful time on the trails of Escondido. We went whale watching.

That garmin fell out of my suitcase on the cargo bay during the flight home. I never got my data uploaded.


The other real highlight of the year was seeing Ella graduate from elementary school and start middle school. As difficult as it can be to admit that my kids are growing up, they keep getting older. But every year they get sweeter and more kind. And as they get older we can do more things together. They get more independent and make more friends all the time.

At her graduation
2016 Goals
Mantra: consistency
Well that didn't happen. Everything was up and down all over the place. This mantra was supposed to relate to my eating habits and weights. I guess my weight was consistent over the year. I was overweight the whole time. Started the year over 190 lbs for the first time since 2010. I did get into the 180's for a while in the spring, but 2017 is starting out at 197 lbs. I can't even.

Short Term Goals:
  • Finish a 50 mile race - Success! I finished the 50 miler in San Diego, got 41 miles at the 12 hour race in Alabama, and got an official 50 mile finish at Umstead
  • Finish a 100 mile race - Fail - only made it 75 miles at the Umstead 100

Long Term Goals:
  • 2 more states - Success! I did knock California and Alabama from my 50 state marathon list by getting the San Diego 50 and Delano Park 12 hour (41 miles)
  • 200 mile month - Fail! The best chance was during Umstead training, highest I ever got was 173 miles in January
    • unwritten sub-goal: get an 80 mile week - Fail! Proper 100 mile event training means you have to get in some 80 mile weeks and 200 mile months. I did get a 74 (or 76?) mile week during Umstead training, but never hit 80. ugh
  • Try Something Else - Fail! The purpose of this goal was to get something else going for me after Umstead training. I set that goal to get my bench press up to 225 lbs. The highest I ever got was 205. Eating for heavy weight training also raised my body weight pretty high. I abandoned this goal when it was time to start training for the fall marathons. I was just happy to be able to run again.
    • secondary sub-goal: starting in the fall, finish 12 marathons in 8 months - Fail! Part of this was scheduling and cost. Kelley didn't want me to marathon in November and December to save family time and do holiday stuff. I finished 3 of those in the fall (well, a 50k and 2 marathons) and am registered for 5 more in the spring.
    • That has turned into a 12 marathons in 12 months goal - Fail! I am registered for 2 more races inside of that 12 month time frame, as well as a 100k after the October 1st time to complete which means there won't be anything else going on with running marathons next year. Capped out at 10 marathons in 13 months.
  • Take photographic evidence of me driving the convertible with the top down every month - Success! Really this was a guess that in North Carolina the climate is so mild that I could ride topless at least once. Getting the pictures for this goal made me really appreciate how nice the weather is here. We get all 4 seasons, sure, but it's not really that bad. The summer was actually the hardest time to get the pictures, a black leather interior is horrible when you're in shorts and a tank and it's 116* outside.
1/10/2016

2/1/2016 and a haircut

2/28/16 with Evil Genius

3/1/16
4/24/2016 with Ella. Shaved the beard after Umstead
5/4/2016 after church
6/18/2016 after a swim race
7/4/2016

8/17/2016 - Only time it was cool enough was at night

8/18/2016 got cool enough for Ella to ride with me downtown

9/28/2016

10/10/2016

11/5/2016 with Evil Genius

12/27/2016 after returning from SC for Christmas on a 72* day
 Overall that was a really fun challenge. You'd think taking selfies in the car would just be another way to inflate my ego but it turned out to be really cool.

The Final Numbers
Swim: 199,150 yards, 113+ miles, 68 swims
Bike: 82 miles, 7 rides
Run: 1179.5 miles, 122 runs
Strength: 76 times
Yoga: 78 times
Weight: Average 187 lbs, Min 181.7 lbs, Max 195.9 lbs

People on facebook were pissed that I wouldn't get the last 850 yards in the pool on new years' eve to make that an even 200k. 2012 is the only other time this decade that I have not cleared 200k. In 2015 I did a marathon swim race and got in 375k in the pool total. I really want to put in more work in the pool this year.

Biking is about right. I really was burned out. 1 sprint triathlon in June took 14 of those miles, and that will likely be my last triathlon ever. It's just not safe on the roads.

There is an unwritten goal every year that I want to run 1200 miles. Failing at that during a year where I went marathon or longer 6 times is particularly bitter. Especially when it ends with a 41 mile November (inc a marathon) and a 36 mile December. The truth is I finished the last marathon with some foot/heel pain that is spawning some knee pain. I think it's coming from some tight hips. So I couldn't run much at all for those last 2 months and I'm kind of bitter about it. still.

The numbers for yoga and strength training are about half of what they used to be. A far cry from the 300 days of yoga challenge that I did a few years ago. That is contributing directly to the foot/knee pain. must fix that this year.

The strangest part of last years goal post was how I wrapped it up:
oh my! It did suck! It sucked so bad. Such a no-good, terrible, very bad year. Why?

What happened in 2016?
How did everything go so wrong? I mean, I'm sure it could have been worse. but wow, that was bad. It started in the spring. Great trip to San Diego, then a good trip to Alabama in February with Kelley. I needed the time alone with her, but she's getting irritated when I'm running 41 miles in a race for 9 hours while she is left to fend for herself. I wanted to run at least 50, and then didn't get to shower for at least 4 hours after the race while we searched for a hotel. Not bad, could have been better.

Easter weekend we thought we would tackle a small home improvement project, the toilet had popped up a few tiles in the bathroom floor. We thought we would retile the floor, maybe have to replace half a sheet of subfloor and it's all good. Turns out the entire thing was rotten and it would take a contractor 6 weeks and over $17,000 to repair. This is also the same time we had to pay our taxes (no refund for us this year). So while we were quite happy to have a nice little nest egg saved up at the end of 2015, really more than we've ever had before in our entire lives, it was all completely wiped out in one slow remodel that never seemed to end. We had to get help from family members to pay for the whole thing. How embarrassing is it to be 40 years old and still not be able to maintain my own house & personal finances. Fuck that was tough.

My seasonal affective disorder (SAD disease) was raging this summer. The heat was oppressive, I could barely walk outside. This leads to lower vitamin D levels which leads to depression. At the same time I'm buried in a terrible contract with the state government, trying to get out of it and into an office closer to home. And the presidential election was heating up. Hearing the way the issues were discussed, and the way the system treated Bernie. Trump's ego.....

Let me tell you what I found out about Canada. I did actually apply for a couple of jobs in Montreal before I found the work visa regulations. Didn't get a response on those. Ottowa and Montreal both have similar demographics (size, population, work availability) to Raleigh. For the four of us to move there would take about $22,000 US and take about 3 years. There is a booklet available online called Life in Canada that gives you everything you need to know to pass the citizenship test. I read that booklet, it was fascinating. All of the immigration reform and "drain the swamp" reform that Trump wants? They already have that. All of the democratic socialization policy that Bernie wanted? They already have that. And they do it without all of the corruption that we have (smaller military, limited foreign influence, etc) and all of the tax reform that we need. Canada's highest tax bracket is only 33%, ours is 39.5% (but I don't think they have our system of deductions which [have a higher impact on the extremely rich and] wouldn't affect normal middle class people like me). So between the heat, depression, and the election I legitimately wanted to move to Canada this year. I still think it is the "after" picture that we should end up with in about 20 more years. My cynicism is so strong that I mentally went from "we need to fix this, and can with this election" to "we cannot fix this and should leave asap". Kelley doesn't think she could handle the cold, and nobody wants us to be that far away from our extended family members, but shit. it's not going to get fixed here. Canada is a better option.

Eventually I did land a dreamy job close to home and with a really cool company. It's a very complex system and I'm barely smart enough to hang with these people. I started in June on a contract-to-hire basis. Contracting sucks. While on this contract portion and the government contracts I was on for almost a year before, I had to pay $1000 per month (average) for health insurance. On top of that $17k bathroom remodel? Contracting is unstable by nature, so as much as I liked the company I was desperate to get to the "hire" part. It finally kicked in October 24th, just in time for thanksgiving. The FTE company insurance is so much better than that Obamacare garbage that was so expensive and didn't actually cover anything. Now I have the kind of income, security, commute, environment, technology, and benefits that I have been looking for since the summer of 2015. Finally something good

happens right before the election. Then the downward spiral of depression starts all over again. November 6 was the City of Oaks marathon, I was very happy with that race and looking forward to resting my foot so it could heal. I still have not seen an orthopedist like I should.  We ended up with 2 terrible candidates that nobody liked because the system is corrupt. One of them won thanks to more corruption (and terrible advice for Hillary not to go campaign in Michigan or Wisconsin) from the Russians. So fuck it. deal with whatever fallout happens from the Drumpf.

At least there's Thanksgiving and Christmas. they were both fantastic. Except my brother-in-law and Kelley's cousin both died unexpectedly from heart problems.

So there you have it. I made 3 goals and failed at 6 goals on the year. I wanted to move to Canada and couldn't make that happen. And then when the holidays hit there comes death. 2016 can kiss my ass.



What now?
I'm not setting a mantra or any goals for 2017. My only hope is that it will suck less than 2016 did. It's a low bar.

Monday, January 2, 2017

The End of the Shitshow

December 2016 started with death and ended with the holidays. It brings to an end the smoldering dumpster fire that was 2016, but that's another story. I did still manage to get some work done in December.

Swim: 18,300 yards, 7 swims
Bike: 11 miles, 1 ride
Run: 37.4 miles, 6 runs
Strength: 2 times
Yoga: 3 times

So the running was a bit light because of a foot pain. Don't really know what that is yet, or what I'm going to do about it. The one time I hit the bike (first time since June) was actually great cross training. I could feel the muscles around my knees starting to stabilize, so I knew that was going to help the foot pain. And it did. Yesterday I ended the year getting 13.4 miles in Umstead:

Starting out so full of smiles

About 8 miles in, not quite conditioned for this anymore
The decreased running led to more swimming whenever I could get into the water. I had one solid week with 3 swims and 2 runs in there, but the first few days were out and all of the holiday travel provided plenty of rest. I just totally gave up on yoga and strength training. Overall the month was really slack and I kind of let myself go.

Topless Year
We did have 2 days that were over 70* in December here in Raleigh, so I was able to take advantage.

This was 12/18 leaving church after the Christmas Cantata

Late night office depot run after we got back from SC Christmas on 12/27
12 in 12 Update
I was able to add 2 more races in December, truly stretching it out to 12 months. I finally registered for the Boring marathon just outside of Portland Oregon! And I have really been looking forward to visiting the pacific northwest for quite a while. Still have a ton of other logistics to work out but that's going to be a fun trip.

Then on Christmas Eve the Yeti Trailrunners opened up a 50 mile option to the Yeti 100! It sold out in a few hours, but I managed to get in. Very excited about this as I have a ton of friends who are going for the 100 mile so this is going to be a blast. Both of these races are in September.

It also means my year is getting longer. I want some opinions on the Javelina Jundred. Cousin Ryan has already registered for Javelina as his first 100 miler. I want to register for the 100k and be there to support him when he finishes. That puts my 2017 looking like 3 marathons in march, 2 50k's in april, marathon and 50 miler in September and a 100k in October. Plus, flights to Phoenix and Portland are both fairly expensive but I think I can pull it off. Technically October 28 is after the Oct 1 cutoff date for my 12 in a year goal, but I think that's just a label now anyway.

Family Stuff

Ella had another swim meet in December. We had Cousin Donnie's funeral mentioned before. Evil Genius had a get-together with her Indian Princess tribe that was a lot of fun. Kelley and I got a few nice date nights. Overall it was a busy month with lots of ups and downs.


EG's tribe

Date night at my company Christmas party

Ella ready to dive into the pool after a meet

NO! No valentines day candy before Christmas. Don't do it retailers!

First selfie with the new phone
December had some fun and some not so fun stuff. Lots of holiday cheer, lots of family time, it was the best possible way to wrap up the year. Hope you had a good month too!

Friday, December 30, 2016

Christmas 2016

Oh boy am I ever ready to see the end of 2016! Now that we made it through the holidays the end is in sight. After the recent deaths in the family I was curious if Christmas was going to be sad or have more of a grateful tone, luckily it was totally the latter. The holiday really started with the performance of a cantata in the church choir on the 18th. I didn't particularly like this cantata - it was another contemporary rendition (rock band) of classics and some new annoying songs. I'm glad it's over.

I wrapped up all of the work stuff I needed to finish by Thursday afternoon. With Christmas falling on a Sunday this year, the office was closed for the Monday after. There wasn't much to do the Friday before, so they closed the office early then. I opted to take off the next 2 days as well, so I wrapped up work on a Thursday and go back in the following Thursday for a 2 day week! Nice when it works out like that.

Monday before was Kelley's birthday! We had kid stuff to do that night so it wasn't a big deal then but we did stuff throughout the week to celebrate. Tuesday night we took Ella to see Rogue One and she loved it. Quite the fantastic Star Wars Story indeed. Wednesday night I got Kelley four tickets to go see our favorite comic (Andy Woodhull) at a local comedy club. Andy swims on my RAM team and is nationally known. I bought 4 tickets so we could take another couple and then couldn't find anybody else who was available to go with us. One of those couples hosted a Christmas party Thursday night, which was a blast. So it was an eventful week to start things off!

The Birthday Girl on monday night

Wednesday night in Goodnight's Comedy Club

Being all sweet with our Mr and Mrs mugs
Saturday night we had the Maness family Christmas, which is always in Biscoe on Christmas Eve. We had a much larger turnout this year than last year which was fantastic! Given the two recent deaths in that side of the family I wasn't sure who would be avoiding. Meri was there, we got to spend a lot of time with her. And our niece came down to our house for a few great days.

Ella getting presents

Such a large group. The kids make it fun

 This year we ended up finishing the festivities pretty early! This worked out well for the kids. Instead of them getting home at 11:30 and trying to go to sleep while all riled up, we got back at 9 pm and had an easy time going to sleep peacefully.

Santa Claus paid a visit to the children, and once again that fat bastard didn't leave me anything. The kids racked up Sunday morning though.

the haul

Happy with her funny calendar


Neena playing with the kids

Kelley setting up toys

Matt and Kaileigh

Kelley's sister Meri

the mermaid tail snuggie? loved it.

The whale tail snuggie was a big hit too
We had Kelley's mom and sister stay with us, as well as our niece Kaileigh and her boyfriend Matt. Then Kelley's dad and stepmom came over as well so we had a full 10 people stacked up in our living room that only seats 4 at the moment! crazy times with a large family setting is what makes the holiday special for us.

After breakfast and all of those gifts, we packed up the 4 of us and headed to Greenville to see my parents. It was an easy drive, but we had a tough time finding a lunch spot that was open on Christmas day (no surprise). Michael beat us there, it was great to see everybody again! Then on Monday we did our traditional Flynn Christmas breakfast.



Martha, Morgan, Michael and Summer - my brothers and sisters-in-law

Mom handing out presents with my kids

My sweet young niece in a Chewbacca mask


Then later we had the entire clan on Mom's side of the family over later that afternoon. It's such a large group, we even had my cousin Anna (complete with husband and new baby) in from DC! This time there were multiple babies, lots of cousins, and tons of food. Lots of really good southern food.

All of the babies loved hanging with my bigger kids


Our couch

Terrible picture of that side of the room! why is everyone staring at the gifts?



After that ended it was too late to go anywhere. We waited until Tuesday to drive back to Raleigh, giving the kids and cousins another morning to play. Everyone had a good time, and we had light traffic getting home. Really nice, I also had Wednesday off of work to unwind a bit from all of that holiday-ing. Unfortunately, I also brought back a sinus infection (just like after Thanksgiving but not as severe) so most of my day off was spent being sick.

Overall this was a wonderful holiday season. The kids got everything they wanted and then some, and it was filled with joy, family, and love. I wouldn't have it any other way. This year's family portraits:

Christmas eve at our house, normal

and typical. Man those kids are getting big!

Our tree was loaded down with all those gifts!

In Greenville SC