Tuesday, September 8, 2020

I'm Done, Time for you to have fun

 Everyone is going to claim that 2020 has been a total dumpster fire, but I really didn't expect this. I have to hang up my running shoes for good this time. I had a pretty good spring, no races or any structured training, but I got some miles in. I also poured a concrete sidewalk, tons of other landscaping around the new front porch, sold a bunch of woodworking projects, it was a blast. 

Happily running downtown


Memorial day weekend I poured some concrete, then got the tiller out to grade and de-weed the entire front yard. Spread some grass seed and cover it with straw, building the lawn I always wanted. In the process, I herniated my L5/S1 disc, pinching off a chunk of the disc that then lodged into the left sciatic nerve cavity causing excruciating pain shooting down my left leg. It rendered me unable to sit upright, but I could still stand for about 15 minutes and lay down prone. 

Treatment started at the chiropractor. He said if it didn't help, I should see the family doc for a dosepack of prednisone, and if that didn't help to see an orthopedist. Chiro didn't help, prednisone didn't help, ortho ordered an MRI that found the actual problem.

MRI printouts

The MRI showed the pinched disc, and where the chunk was hitting the nerve. That's what the pencils are pointing at. Ortho gave me some diclofenac and a serious anti-inflammatory to help control the nerve damage and pain. Then I started getting acupuncture as well, and that really did clear up the symptoms.

Really, that all took about 5 weeks before I got any relief. Acupuncture and the nerve drug had cleared up all of the symptoms. So most of June and July I was down. The reference material all says that if the nerve damage takes longer than about 2 weeks to clear up the effects could be permanent. 

Nerve damage doesn't heal very fast, even after the pain goes away. Damaged nerves don't send the appropriate signals to muscles when you want to train or perform basic tasks. There is already a visible muscle atrophy, my left calf is significantly, noticably, smaller than my right. The muscle definition isn't there, and my left leg won't perform the way it used to, even if there is no pain.

My hatred of summer is well documented, I have a very low tolerance for heat. I always thought this was all in my head, everyone felt as bad about the heat as I did. Well turns out that's not true either. My acupuncturist has some herbs that are supposed to cool me down! This sounded great. The second day I was on the herbs, I walked outside with Kelley. She said it felt exactly the same as the day before, I thought it felt 20* cooler! This was amazing. Unfortunately, that was the only day I actually felt any different. Stayed on the herbs for a few more weeks but still had my SAD kick in hard with the heat, it was just a brutal summer. And this:

Ladies glisten. Ella doesn't even have her hair pulled back! They barely broke a sweat. We walked about 30 minutes and I sweat through my shirt so hard I had to take a shower when we got back home. They were not affected like I was. Incredible. What a tough summer.

Then the bottom fell out 3 weeks ago. I was feeling great, went back to the ortho for the final follow up, told him I felt 95% better and got the all clear from him to resume normal activities but no running. That was on a Tuesday. The following Saturday I cut the grass and spread some mulch, and that night the nerve problem came roaring back in a way that I couldn't fathom. 

I've never felt pain like that before. I couldn't really lay down prone in a comfortable way, but it was the most tolerable. I couldn't stand long enough to do anything. I could only walk about 10 steps. I was on the couch for a long time. It was so bad, I could usually walk the 10 steps from the couch to the bathroom, but couldn't stand up long enough to pee and couldn't always walk back. My left leg just wouldn't support my body weight, the muscle just wouldn't respond. 

This lasted for 10 days. First I went to the urgent care at the ortho, they called in some Oxycodone and got me another appointment with the same ortho that just gave the all clear a week before. He ordered another MRI that I had the following Saturday. The Wednesday after that I started to feel some relief, but didn't believe it. Friday I got the call to schedule this surgery. So this upcoming Friday September 11th I'm going under the knife to get this chunk of disc removed. 

So at this point I had 5 weeks of pain, 3 weeks of getting better, then 3 more weeks of absolutely unbearable pain that even oxy couldn't help. I was only sleeping 1-2 hours a night on the couch, working from the couch in between forced sleep from the oxy, and doing grad school from the couch. Stumble from the couch to the bathroom, cry on the bathroom floor after attempting to walk back. 

After the surgery the pain should be gone, but the nerve damage is likely permanent. Running marathons on a weak left leg is just not possible. So I'm done. I have to be done. Maybe next year I'll be able to walk a few miles, but marathons are just not going to happen and that's what I really enjoy. Need to come up with a new 50 state challenge too. 

2020 sucks. Here's some other pictures of the family, just to end on a high note. I turned 45 back in July, the kids both leveled up again (they are loving the online school this year, 8th and 10th grade), so enjoy

Father's day 2020

My absurdly hot saint of a wife

I did get outside a little bit to work some

Happy I finished my Real Estate class

First day of 8th and 10th grade

Sunday, April 5, 2020

Social Distancing

We're all handling this pandemic pretty well. The girls are getting a break from school just like they used to get with a track out. I can easily work from home, and my grad school has always been online so absolutely nothing has changed for me. Stay home! Practice social distancing!

This is not a problem for us. We can't even get the kids to socialize with us in person. What is hard for us is not going shopping regularly; the grocery store shelves are empty, I can't just go to Lowe's for supplies, that's all crazy.

I will share a couple of pictures from before the pandemic took over.

I'm standing on top of a quad bunk bed setup that I built. I was taller than the power line into the house!

Got a night out at the coast with the family

It was a really fun trip

I had a sunset picture featured on the local news!

proper social distancing

Lena had her teeth pulled

then got braces!

They both have braces right there!

Got everybody hanging out on the porch

then Lena got blue hair!? what is that?

I had a gray beard

And then there was none. I never realized how much I touch my face. This was instant regret, I started growing it back 3 days later

Ella's smile

Now with less metal! Her braces are off!
 So Lena got her braces put on, then went with blue hair, then Ella got her braces off. Crazy! I've been doing a ton of woodworking. And we're starting to landscape the front yard. I want to get the hardscape in before it gets too hot, we've already had a few 90* days and I am not mentally prepared for another super hot summer.

Stay safe out there. There's a lot of scary stuff with the coronavirus right now. Controlling the spread is the key. How long do you think it will last? The hardest part for me is not being able to plan or travel. Here's an idea. I finish grad school on Oct 4, and there is a marathon in Kona, HI on Nov 7. Since the airline industry is in the toilet right now flights are actually affordable - around $400 compared to the $1400 flights that I usually find. I think a week in Hawaii and a marathon is a fantastic way to celebrate finishing the MBA than with a week in paradise. Does this seem rational at all?

Saturday, February 1, 2020

A Running Decade

Yes I'm writing a New Year's post on the last day of January. 2019 is in the past, it had some ups, and some downs (literally, falling), and while it wasn't the best year, it certainly wasn't the worst. I'm just glad it's in the books and over now. And with this being the end of a decade, and since I've been blogging and running and triathloning the entire decade, I thought it would be a good time to recap the whole decade.

This was a pre-ironman year where the main focus was to cover each distance to prepare for an actual ironman year. I finished another full marathon, my first century ride, and a handful of other triathlons & shorter stuff. 10 races all together.
Swim: 72,676 yards
Bike: 1779.4 miles
Run: 524.65 miles
This was also the year that I finished my 2nd half iron, we moved to Raleigh and bought the house that we still live in, and Ella started kindergarten. Quite a fun and pivotal year.

This was the year I turned iron. Because I was in Ironman training for the first time, I took an "anything goes" approach to racing while still following a strict training plan for Ironman Florida.
Swim: 143,585 yards
Bike: 3135.9 miles
Run: 1100.01 miles

The training plan produced a massive amount of miles. I ran a half marathon every month and got faster most of the time including a 1:37 PR in December. I finished 17 races total from a 23:43 5k to the 13:06:24 ironman finish. This was a pivotal year!

Post-Ironman, this year was anything goes. I ran my first ultramarathon, a 40 miler in Georgia.
Swim: 138,450 yards
Bike: 1591.5 miles
Run: 765.3 miles

I finished 27 races this year. After making it through Ironman I figured I could do anything, so I did. Kelley and I both qualified for the Marathon Maniacs doing 3 fulls in 65 days, we also both did a Grand Prix series with a bunch of 5k's, some tri's, it was a great year.

After the ultra, I was ready to get back to Ironman. This year I was really focused on getting faster on the bike. Spoiler alert: it didn't work, I still sucked at biking. But I put in almost 4000 miles trying to get there, and totally ruined my desire to ride.
Swim: 210,220 yards
Bike: 3869 miles
Run: 847.8 miles

This year I did the Cast Iron club, where training & racing miles totaled more than 30 ironman triathlon distances on the year. B2B was the ironman of choice, also did the first Ironman Raleigh on a really hot day. This was a pivotal year with lots of ups and downs, I really thought I could get faster on the bike. I still finished 12 races.

We also started a milestone Dave Ramsey year from March 2013 to March 2014, paying off $140k in debts over that time. We're still debt free, but I was ready to travel again. So this years Ironman was Rev3 Cedar Point in Ohio, we went to a Cleveland Indians game the day after the race, it was an amazing trip.
Swim: 231,500 yards
Bike: 2170 miles
Run: 1227 miles

Done with Ironmans
It was amazing to get back over 1000 miles running on the year, and I used that fitness to carry me through ironman. I knew that was going to be my last one, people who really love Ironman tend to stop after 3 for some reason but I knew I would. I was totally burned out on the bike after 2013. I still got in 3 marathons and 2 ultras, plus a few shorter races only 11 in total.

This was the beginning of the end, really. I turned 40 and my body started falling apart. Hey, that's what is supposed to happen right? Running Ironmans really made me want to grow a beard and run more trail ultras. So I did.
Swim: 376,810 yards
Bike: 292 miles
Run: 1057.8 miles

Yeah only 292 miles on the bike? After almost 4000 miles a couple of years earlier? That sounds right. 13 races, one sprint triathlon, I decided to go for the "marathon in all 50 states" goal and knocked out marathons in Minnesota and Maryland, ran a beer mile, you name it. And I turned 40.

Generally, this was one of the worst years ever. Athletically, it had ups and downs. I finished my first 50 miler in San Diego and had a wonderful time in California. I competed in the Umstead 100 after volunteering and pacing there for several years and bailed after 75 miles.
Swim: 199,150 yards
Bike: 82 miles
Run: 1179 miles

10 races including the Umstead, I turned 41, finished the year with a 50k and 2 marathons in october and destroyed my foot in the process. Some people are still upset that I didn't go back and swim the last 850 yards to hit an even 200k. I did one sprint tri, and took the job that I still have at LexisNexis.

This was a tough year, coming off of the injury. I planned on doing 12 marathons in 12 months starting with the last 3 races last year so I was pretty bummed about missing my spring marathons. I actually had no marathons this year, first time since I started running that I didn't marathon at all.
Swim: 276,505 yards
Bike: 240 miles
Run: 237.4 miles

I did 7 races total, a half marathon, a 10k, and 5 open water swim races. Going from 1147 miles of running to 237 miles this year was really tough. there were lots of giant beers, and I also gained a lot of weight. None of that helped. But I did really love all of that time in the water.

Really, I was back into woodworking and not doing much this year. I started building boats in 2017, and finished 2018 by starting an MBA program. So...
Swim: 65,926 yards
Bike: 57.5 miles
Run: 471 miles

I only did 3 races. Arthritis forced me to drop my beloved masters swim team. I was able to run some, I took 4th place overall in a 5k and did full marathons in Delaware and Colorado. the beard got more gray, and I got my last tattoo (probably). Starting grad school and a heavy work load both took a toll mentally.

This really was a decent year. All I was really committed to was to be a good student, and I finished 5 classes in grad school.
Swim: 4000 yards
Bike: 33.5 miles
Run: 425 miles

I finished 2 races and DNS'd 4 more. Grew my hair out pretty long and then cut it off again. My goals for the year:
Grad School - pass my classes. Success! I had 4 A's and a B
Oregon - fail. Had a wonderful trip, did not marathon
Tennessee - fail. Didn't even make the trip
Run 800 miles - fail. 425 and I'm pretty happy about that.
Finish the porch - Success! I did finish building my front porch and it turned out fantastic.

Also, I established a running streak of 2 miles a day for 75 days in a row. pretty happy about that. This was also the only year that I didn't shave the beard over the summer.

Goals for 2020? I'm having a tough time coming up with anything real.
500 miles running?
Marathon in 2 more states?
Finish grad school. Classes wrap up Oct 4

So far the only race I'm registered for is a 24 hour ultra at the end of october, it felt like a good way to celebrate finishing grad school. No trips planned yet, but I think Idaho and Kentucky should be the next states I shoot for.

Cheers to a great decade!

Sunday, January 5, 2020

2019 Turkey Trot

And now, in "hey, I'm super late" news, I'm finally writing up the turkey trot, and it will be brief. The Inside-Out Sports 8k Turkey Trot is a thanksgiving day race that's been going on for several years. I ran it in 2012, finishing in 36:11 and setting a 5 mile PR. This year was going to be a bit slower to say the least...

Thanksgiving turned out to be a fantastic holiday this year. We stayed in Raleigh instead of going to SC and decided to have a laid back approach. So Kelley and I both signed up for this race to kick things off. Actually she got rather upset with me because she forgot it was an 8k instead of a 5k and she's only been training for around 3 miles, oops.

This was actually the first time this year I've made it to a running race. It felt great to be among peers again, and I was surprised I didn't see more friends - there were plenty of familiar pictures showing up on facebook later

Big crowd!

We're ready to roll!
Something about this course is fantastic. I don't know what it is, but I end up turning up great times here. My training has been churning out 10 minute miles all year long. Somehow I finished this one in only 46:32, finishing 32nd in my age group out of 47, 278/473 men and 416/958 overall. This is a pretty big crowd for a 5 mile race.

Kelley finished just a couple of minutes behind me, 51:45, good enough for 34/57 age group, 251/485 women, and 596/958 overall. She had a blast too

at the finish line!

With the giant turkey
After the race we got to watch football all day, and the parade. Then we hosted dinner in the evening with lots of family.