Friday, October 6, 2017

Up In September

Yay October is my favorite month and it's finally here again!! Hockey is coming back. College Football is in full mid-season form. Even tonight my NC State wolfpack is about to upset Louisville here in Raleigh in one of the best ACC games of the season! September had some really cool shit, here's how it went down.

Swim: 12,300 yards, 4 swims
Bike: 19.9 miles, 2 rides
Run: 14 miles, 4 runs!
Strength: 3 times
Yoga: 2 times

First thing to notice - no 0's! I got something done in all activities last month. Those easy 4 runs give me 47.1 miles of running on the year. I had some long stretches with nothing - 11 days and 6 days based around drugs and vacations. But really now that the arthritis is under control with medication I can begin losing some weight (hard) and getting back to a regular level of activity (easy). I'm going to start off just running twice a week. I did have a 4 miler in there - longest run since early March. The weather started to cool down a bit in September and it felt so good to get back out there again.

We did some other cool stuff in September too:

Finished some skirting and landscaping around the deck

Hardscaping is done. Time to plant some grass

New woodworking store opened in Cary, I picked up a new sander

Ella and I took my first boat out to Lake Raleigh for some fun paddling time

We had a blast

On vacation in Beaufort, NC

They had to fight off the pirate with water cannons

Outside the watercraft center

Some of the planking we did in boatbuilding class

On the pier in Emerald Isle

this is not a strip club. really.

Loading stuff into Neena's warehouse

I'm ready for work

Our new concrete fountain

Yeti for the yard

With my favorite landscaper
Since the kids are out of school for the entire month of September and March, we take our family vacations then. This time since I couldn't schedule a marathon for the vacation, I signed up for a boatbuilding class at one of our state museums! It was amazing. The teacher demonstrated all of the mistakes I made in my first 2 boats and how to avoid them. I learned so much, and still have to write a more complete recap on my woodworking blog. Beaufort NC is a wonderful coastal town, but it is quite expensive there so we didn't stay long. The next weekend we went down to Kelley's mom's lakehouse. She moved to Raleigh a couple of years ago, but still has a full lake house with 6 storage buildings on the property filled with retail store merchandise for a store she recently closed down. We have an auction guy lined up to help us sell off of this stuff, so we took several truckloads from the house to the warehouse for him to sell. It made a nice dent in getting the house cleaned up, but there is still a long way to go there. On the way back, we stopped by Bethune Concrete and picked up a bunch of concrete statues for the yard. We really just stopped for the fountain, and bought 6 other pieces as well.

The boatbuilding class was the same weekend I was supposed to be in Portland, OR for the Boring marathon. I knew the fall schedule was hosed, but it was kind of tough to know I was missing out on a race. Then last weekend was the Yeti 100/50 and I had to skip it. Next up is the Javelina Jundred where I'm going to skip running the 100k there, but my cousin Ryan is still going to run it. I signed up to run the 10k at the hometown City of Oaks marathon. Running the full last year was my last marathon. So this is going to be a bit bittersweet but it will feel good to train with a purpose and get back out there again.

Friday, September 15, 2017


Well I saw the Rheumatologist. She was incredible, and understood my pain, how it was affecting me as an athlete and my emotional state, and sincerely wanted to help. That's not something I've seen too often. The first appointment was Wednesday and I went in considerable pain. Joint pain in my hands, fingers, wrists, elbows & shoulders. Lower back pain, the act of standing or sitting really hurt. Of course there was the ever present foot pain as well.

After a very thorough exam she had it narrowed down to "up to four kinds of arthritis" and needed some more information to narrow it down. So I had some blood drawn and had to go for some xrays on Friday. She sent me away with some samples of a prescription strength aleve & a stomach protector that should help the arm pain.

For starters, it worked! The arm pain kind of eased up, at least most of it did. Still had some pretty good stiffness in my hands though, but overall the pain was about 70% better. The foot pain eased up a bit too. So I tried to run on Sunday, and ended up getting in 4 miles. The first mile was actually comfortable. The rest weren't bad, at least not as bad as it's been the last few times I ran. So with a single 4 mile run this is now my highest running month since March. Mentally and emotionally it felt so good to get some miles in, albeit slow miles, and feel pretty good at the end without limping for the rest of the week.

Monday I went and got in an entire swim practice. And it was a doozy, a 4000 yard IM practice. The joint pain has been so bad I haven't made it through an entire practice in weeks, that's what finally broke the straw to convince me to make this appointment.

Tuesday I went back for the follow up appointment. The blood tests did not have any markers to indicate Rheumatoid Arthritis, and the xrays did not show any Ankylosing Spondynitis, one of the other scary possibilities. There was something funky in the lower lumbar area, so I do still need to get one more xray there. But my hips were totally clear.

I do have osteoarthritis in my hands - hence the remaining stiffness. Blood tests also showed a pretty bad vitamin D deficiency. So now I have to take prescription strength aleve & zantac twice a day, and a pharmaceutical grade vitamin D and chondroiten once a day. Also, temporarily, adding a foot wrap so I can start running regularly again.

Yep, I think it's finally time when I can try getting some beginner miles on the roads again. And it couldn't come at a better time (autumn). So it takes 6 pills a day and an ace wrap, but I can finally get back on the road and finish a swim practice.

**disclaimer - I know these memes have nothing to do with the theme of this post, but I find them hilarious and think posts without pictures can be boring.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

End of Summer

August didn't suck! I mean, it did, it was still August, but it didn't feel as bad as the last few years. I think the hottest it got was around 105-108*, not the endless days of 116* like last summer.

Swim: 37,677, 11 swims, 1 race
Bike: 35.2 miles, 3 rides
Run: 3 miles, 2 runs
Strength: 1
Yoga: 0

The only race was the ePostal 5k swim in the long course pool. I got in some nice time in the water, no real complaints there. Of course it could be more, 20 practices would be great. But my joints won't hold up for that. Getting some time on the bike was especially nice. I even got to brick a few of those, finishing bike time with a 2 mile treadmill run once, and a single mile on the 'mill another time. Way more activity than the last few months, but still pitiful numbers. and painful.

This joint pain is absurd. It started in my thumbs, then both hands, then wrists, now it's my elbows. Most of August had the left elbow flaring up first, but then in the last week the right elbow really stepped up to champion the cause even sending pain shooting up to the right shoulder after swimming. It gets bad after doing landscaping or construction work, and there was plenty going on there. I've had enough. Chances are, this is the same pain problem that is in my foot and keeping my running shoes dusty. So tomorrow I'm going to see a rheumatologist. The chiropractor, acupuncture (ok that was fantastic but didn't last), orthopedist, and physical therapy did nothing to help. This needs to get fixed. The Arthritis & Rheumatology center treats the group of about 100 chronic conditions known as arthritis, so hopefully they can figure out which one of those I have and give me a treatment. I want hope.

Instead, I've got landscaping! And family fun. And another boat. On to the photos:

added a poorly formed set of stairs

This isn't even stairs. It's a box that's supposed to be a single stair, but isn't. clearly.

Quicksilver! New boat under construction

Quicksilver under fiberglass

Durham Bulls game with the whole family!

This path is starting to shape up. Those hostas need to get moved.

same path from the other direction

Quicksilver comes together and gets some paint

Boatbuilder added a seat in the back half
Quicksilver is a one sheet boat - means that it only took 1 sheet of plywood to build her. It actually took a bit more than that, but the concept of a one sheet is pretty popular. Lots more about her on my woodworking blog.

Landscaping around the deck is progressing slowly but surely. I screwed up the height of those stairs on both sides of the deck, so they have to be redone. The gravel path leading up to the brick & stairs there is about done now. So you get to see the progression.

Path is taking shape, before adding gravel (in the wheelbarrow)

Kelley redid the bed on that side of the tree, adding mulch & plants plus a massive cleanout

Gravel path is down, but loose

watching the eclipse with coworkers

My view of the eclipse through the glasses

Quicksilver finished and ready to water test

It fits inside of the truck bed!

It floats! Leaked pretty bad, but it floats

It even held me out of the water, but barely

sitting a bit low. I'm 20 lbs over the rated capacity for this boat.

Evil Genius decided to grow a beard

then we had to shave it off together

Got to watch the big fight in an incredible outdoor party on a projector

added a little buddha in the new bed

starting to add plants around the path

Got this side of the deck hardscaped and planted. Still need grass seed.

Enticing way to get to the deck. We did add lariope to the right of the path and replace that mulch. It looks finished.

added some hardy banana plants on the road side of the fence
Overall we got a lot done in August! There was some decent athlete work, some pretty good yard work, and some fun family time. The eclipse was cooler than I really expected, we did get to see it very well from Raleigh. The McGregor/Mayweather fight was amazing, we had a blast at the party watching on a 10' outdoor screen while drinking heavily. The baseball game was a blast too, my company gave out some tickets. I built another boat, and I actually applied a topical glue to that gravel to form a solid path. Should have used more of that glue, the path actually broke up a bit so now I have to find another product.

September brings the glory. Football is back, it feels like fall again, hockey will be here soon. As long as it all isn't ruined by a hurricane! Stay away Irma! I'm watching this one.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Going ePostal

My friend KC first put the idea of doing the ePostal 5k into my head. Between her and Jennifer wanting to do this thing it got interesting quickly. You actually swim the ePostal races before you register for them, so the format (put on by US Masters swimming) is very unique. The 5k and 10k races have to be done in a 50 meter pool before September 14th. You have to have someone time for you, they write down your split and cumulative time every 100 meters. After 50 laps, you get your time. Jennifer and I decided to meet up on Saturday morning 8/12 to get the job done. I ended up swimming first while she timed me, and then I timed her and ate recovery food.

So I started swimming. I got in some long course time once earlier in the summer, but that was my first time in at least 2 years. Long course feels totally different. It goes much slower, here I averaged around 1:53 per 100 meters, as opposed to around 1:25 per 100 yards in regular practice. My first four laps were 1:43, 1:50, 1:55, 1:55. It takes a while to get used to that, you really have to check your expectations at the gate.

My strategy was to stop and drink some sports drink every 5 laps, and I stuck to that plan pretty well. Eventually I couldn't count to 5 anymore so I stopped whenever I felt like it. Eventually around lap 33 I started drinking every 3 laps, that was easy enough to count. And I needed the extra shots of energy then!

I finished the 5000 meters in 1:34:16. This is an outstanding baseline to compare against open water 5k swims. I tend to do the longer open water swims in rivers or the ocean where I can get help from the current, so having this pool time can give me an accurate comparison for the conditions.

Jennifer swam next. The pool was only setup for long course until 12:30, or so we thought. As she got in and started swimming, I was surprised how fast the laps seemed to go by. Then the lifeguards started pulling the laneropes out, so I had to ask. Some quick math told me that she was going to finish around 12:05, and the lifeguards said they had to switch back to short course at 12:00, not 12:30. So she was screwed.

Jennifer could actually count to 5, so she stopped to drink on a regular schedule. When she got to 3k I was already doing the math. Her splits were incredibly consistent, so I told her to go ahead and pick it up. By the time she got into the last K the ropes were in the way and she had to finish in an obstacle course, swimming on strange diagonals. She still finished in only 1:38, an amazing time since she had never gone the distance before.

The ePostal races were a great way to set a goal and get a race time in while accommodating our schedules. We're going to log the splits into the USMS site and pay the registration fee, then in the end will see how we ranked against every other swimmer in the country who completed the same distance in the same length pool. This is going to be a blast!

Such a fun day in the pool! And check out those lane ropes behind us.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

The Greens

My new favorite kids book
The other day I was listening to the Fit2Fat2Fit podcast at work. I stay about a month behind on my podcast list, it's awful. But on this one Drew interviewed the CEO of Organifi, a company that makes powders you can mix into water or juice. This post is not sponsored in any way and I did not use Organifi products, although they do seem wonderful.

My current list of complaints begins by still hovering around 210 lbs and being unable to run thanks to a persistent foot pain. The new pain that has been racking up this year is (I think) arthritis in my elbows, wrists, and hands. Joint pain doesn't play games - it sucks. Also I've been waking up with lower back pain.

Then you can imagine my surprise when this podcast guest said that he had been drinking greens every morning, and after 7 days did not wake up with lower back pain anymore. That did get my attention. Then the rest of his joint pain cleared up shortly after the 7 day mark. I immediately had to investigate this product line.

Organifi offers a line of green (and now red) juice powders. The green juice is mostly vitamins and superfoods, totally organic. The ingredient list is very robust with stuff that I know has been good for me in the past. The red juice is a powder of anti-oxidants and anti-inflammatory foods that looks amazing. Seriously amazing. I can't wait to get my hands on some of this stuff.

Fortunately, I already had some greens. I bought a jar of vitamins & greens from the clearance section at a GNC a few months ago. And since I already start each day with a full bike bottle of water (24oz) I figured I could go ahead and throw the greens in there for a week and see how it felt. The greens are a complete vitamin, mineral, superfood, and energy supplement.

Monday was the first day on the greens. Tuesday evening I hit swim practice with my team, that ended up being my only workout on the week. It got a little hectic, but by the next monday I did indeed feel great. Seems like the greens worked! It is a fantastic way to start my mornings.

Trader Joe's also has both a green juice powder and a red juice powder. I'm really wanting to try the red stuff now. I also found several options for green and red powders on Amazon. They don't all have the same ingredients but I bet the results will be similar yet still different for every person/powder combination. Still after only one week I am totally hooked on these greens.

This past Monday was IM day at swim practice. I still got in the 1500 yard warmup and 1500 yard IM set. But my joints. My joints did not like the IM set at all. It turned into just a kick set, and tonight (Tuesday evening) my right elbow is still in enough pain for me to skip swim practice tonight. Joint pain sucks. I thought after last week this was going to go away. I'm still having some lower back pain when I wake up too, but that could be the mattress or pillow. It feels like that has eased up some anyway. But the joint pain, that's real today. I'm not quite sure what that means. Maybe I need to give swimming a rest? Still have a couple of open water races coming up.

Have you ever tried adding powdered greens to your morning water? Any red juice tips?