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.