Thursday, September 3, 2020

Pops and Buckles: What Happens to My Knee

I was running down the Kestrel trail in the foothills near Boise last night and it happened: my knee popped. Then a minute later it did it again. Then three minutes later, it half buckled. Well, I can handle the occasional pop (even though I haven't had one in weeks), but the half buckle is almost as scary as the full one.

Pops.... Buckles..... what's this guy talking about? Pops and Buckles are the weird things my left knee does to get my attention and remind me that Dr Brian Larkin wants to replace it. AND, they are the things that make me think that this rude, invasive, knee replacement might have to happen.

First, Pops. I don't know why I call them pops because nothing is actually popping. What happens, in my mind (a dangerous place) is that I over extend my knee and it causes a bone on bone shot up my leg. OUCH. They only last a second, but are pretty alarming. Generally, I can have an occasional pop and it's not a big deal. Three or four over a short time span, however, makes my knee progressively sore.

Two things: first and foremost, the bone on bone thing is real. There's not much attaching the bottom of my knee to my shin (the song "the shin bone connected to the knee bone" is, indeed, just a song). Second, as my Ortho Doc Andy Parker says, "Over extend? HA! You couldn't over extend your knee if your life depended on it." Too much arthritis, too much inflammation. Nonetheless, my over extension happens sometimes when going downhill, or when I try to lengthen my stride (go faster).

Buckles are different. Appropriately named, a buckle happens when my knee actually buckles. All support vanishes, the knee decides we're going down, and makes its attempt at causing Rich to take a tumble. Luckily, I'm still coordinated enough, or intuitive enough, that I rarely go down (fall). Only fell twice in these last few years of this knee journey.

I suppose it could be said that this, like many pain and discomfort things, is in my mind. Part of the brain's job is to receive sensation from the body. Maybe David Goggins could skip right through this. Maybe I could skip right through this. But I don't. The Pops cause alarm and I always use them to alter pace and footstrike. The Buckles are just plain scary.

On the bright side, as I have lost weight, they don't occur as much. Well, that makes perfect sense as the amount of impact for the knee to absorb is lessened by weight loss. So there is a part of me that thinks that with enough weight loss, this problem could be nearly eliminated. We'll see.

Yesterday, when the Kestrel trail provided some pops and a half buckle, I think it went better than usual. I said OUCH (and a few other things unwritable), and then walked for about four or five minutes. Started up again and had no further issues (only had ten minutes to go).

All in all, it could be worse. At least I'm still out there.

Run on.

Monday, August 24, 2020

Today I ran 6 Miles....

Today I ran 6 Miles. No big deal. I do that often.

Today, however, followed a 58 mile week and put me over 1200 miles year to date. Now, THAT, is another story.

In all of 2019, I logged 1106 miles. It was my worst mileage year since high school (back when we just didn't run much in the off season). Most of it was about this knee replacement saga. Arthritis everywhere, not much holding the bottom of my knee together. That's the story, anyway.

So, I've always had this arbitrary, self imposed target of a minimum of 2000 miles in a year. If I got in 2000 miles, it meant I'd had a "serious" year running.  Well, if the next four months are like the last two, then Boom, Bam, What...... we just might hit it. Emphasis on the What??????

When I began 2020 and mostly when the pandemic hit, I pledged to myself that maybe, just maybe, I could still run. Maybe if I ate healthier, weighed less, I wouldn't need some metal contraption violating my body to make it happen. Thirty (30) pounds later, I'm getting closer.

Thirty pounds is barely halfway to where I want to be, but I feel like I am on the right path; the running path. And MAN...... I love the running path.

So it's time to step it up. Time to eat even better. Time to exercise even more.

I've got a surgery to postpone for years.

Run on.

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

54 Years Down.....

So, It's August 12th, my 54th Runnerversary is today. 54 years, that's 115,410 miles as of right this second.

Today was a trail run. Why a trail run? Well, Trails are better. I love trail runs for a multitude of reasons. I love them because of the scenery. I love them because of the challenge, I love them because they're less crowded. I mostly love them because of the Earth. The Earth? Yep.

The thing about trails is that there is no buffer. Run on a track: buffer, run on asphalt: buffer, run on concrete: buffer. Trails have no buffer.

You, by the way, you (and me) wear socks, shoes.... buffers. Buffers between you and the Earth. It's easier to live with that buffer, I guess. I'm not much of a barefoot kind of guy.

It's okay, most people rarely think about the buffering of running and running surfaces. Most people run to compete, run for health, run for some other reason. Me, I stopped running to win, place, or show 40 years ago. I stopped running to PR 30 years ago (although PRs can always be personally instituted - this is my 10K PR for this calendar day of this year in my life on this course, wearing my red shorts.... you get the picture). Now, I began running 54 years ago because A) it looked like I could be good at it, and B) I liked the way it felt.

As mentioned, I ceased being good at it long ago, but I SOOOOO still like the way it feels. I can be having a bad knee day (something that happens with more regularity than I like) and begin by walking. I can move along at a decent clip, by the way, but it just doesn't feel the same. Then, all of a sudden, I make the move that breaks me into a run and BAM!!!! Everything changes. It feels different in my legs, it feels different in my feet, it feels different in my head, and mostly it feels different in my heart. It's, as they said in Sleepless in Seattle....... magic.

Almost eight years ago on the day I hit 100,000 miles, I wrote this:

"Running was/is a simple activity, cyclical in its nature. One foot placed in front of the next in order to move forward: to cover ground, to open my mind, to allow me opportunities to escape my troubles or celebrate my triumphs. Mostly, to connect me to and strengthen my relationship with this planet upon which I exist. For that, I am ecstatically, humbly grateful."

And I am still. 

But back to the original question, why is the trail better? Simple, No buffer. It's me and the Earth, this planet we live on. It's me being connected to and receiving strength from this place where we all live. It's that place where neuro-scientists are beginning to discover for real what many of us have known all along: it's where the world slows down, makes sense..... something about lateral eye movement they're finding. It's the place where I can be me and no one else's opinion or judgment means diddly squat. It is, as Simon Sinek would say, The Infinite Game.

So today, I celebrate this milestone. I'd like to think I could celebrate 21 more of these..... we'll see, right?

Run on.

Sunday, July 19, 2020

My First Races OR How I Became a Runner

Was listening to a podcast the other day and the runner being interviewed was talking about his first races in school. It got me thinking about my introduction to running and racing before I ever put a uniform on my body. FIVE races in five years. And I remember WAAAAY too much about each.

It was fifth grade and the culminating activity of the national physical fitness test: the 600 yard run. My gym teacher Mr. Wenzl had us primed and ready to run this monstrously long distance TWICE (I guess they figured if the first time didn't kill us, they'd try a second). The "track" was simple. We ran the bases of the hardball field. 90 feet to each base, made for 360 feet or 120 yards per lap. Five laps made 600 yards. And without ceremony, we were off!

I have no idea what my time was for the first go round. I do know, however, that I WON! Ah, the taste of victory was divine, short-lived, but divine. I say short-lived because since I had won my "heat," I would be placed in the second running with Larry Roma, who no one had told me was the school record holder. Well, I broke Larry's record with a quick 2:06. The problem was that Larry broke Larry's record with a 2:04.

In sixth grade the much awaited rematch was set. We both ran easy in the first running knowing the big matchup would be coming. The"final" had me taking an early lead only to have Larry come up on my shoulder with a little over a lap to go. Well, sorry Larry. I'm not sure if I had my Wheaties that morning and you did not, but I was not to be denied smashing through the finish at 1:58.

Next came Junior High. We were a 7-9 grade school and while we did the obligatory fitness test jive, we also did a thing called, are you ready for this, The Distance Run. WHOA, that seems intimidating. Turns out that the "distance run" was about 3/4 of a mile (which by the way, made it more than twice as far as the measly 600).

Anyway, 7th grade, I won with a 4:26 breaking the 7th grade record and coming up 2 seconds short of the record for the entire Junior High. In the 8th grade..... well, in the 8th grade I ran 4:00 "shattering" every record (closest guy was my buddy Steve Sly who was 20 seconds back). 

9th grade, well 9th grade changed my life. I had always thought I'd play baseball in High School. I was a very good pitcher and an excellent hitter. My Dad, with all of the optimism of a Dad, thought that baseball might be my ticket. Turns out he was wrong. And so was I.

I ran 3:36 that day and the next day the High School cross country coach just happened to show up at Jr High PE class to chat with me. That was all it took to win me over. I became a runner that day.

(By the way, on a side note, as much potential as I had, my youngest son Ryan was scary...... 6:22 mile as a first grader)

115,000+ miles later, I still look at it as the best decision I've made.

What's your story?

Run on.

Sunday, July 12, 2020

Running in the Pandemic: The Success of the Infinite Game

In his book The Infinite Game, Simon Sinek, pontificates about the differences between the finite game (one which has set rules and a scoreboard), and the Infinite Game (which is flexible and looks at the big picture).

During this pandemic, there is a great many runners/racers/people in general who are extremely frustrated with the lack of competitive opportunities at this time. Without the chance to compete, without the chance to see yourself in relation to the/their scoreboard, the process gets fuzzy and sometimes not so motivating. Because they often see themselves in relation to the scoreboard, this time can be frustrating and even depressing.

On the other hand, because I cannot compete even if I wanted to at this moment, I have no such expectations of my running, and haven't for sometime. Within the non-confines of that mentality, I am able to flourish in this environment. Without question, I have done my best running of the last few years in these past three months and feel little other than optimism about the coming weeks/months/year. I have no small picture other than the individual run and the big picture has endless boundaries.

By the way, this doesn't make me better, smarter, or anything than anyone else, I'm just settled into a different perspective. Would I actually like to be getting ready for a fall marathon right now? YOU BET! That however is not in the cards in the foreseeable future until my impending knee replacement and LOOOONG recovery. So maybe I am better able to roll with the pandemic punches because it's the only place I fit. 

I have to confess, however, that I am more comfortable in the infinite game anyway. I see my life as mine and yours as yours. In order for me to have something, it doesn't mean that you get nothing. I like to think the glass is half full for everyone, if you know what I mean, or if you choose to see it that way. The beauty of that philosophy, too, is that it doesn't leave a place for jealousy, envy, and all of the crappy self image issues that go with those things.

Anyway, the running has been pretty good the last two weeks. 52 miles last week led to 53 this week, and as I write this I am sitting at 900 even for the year. I had pictured this all going much differently. As I am losing weight, I am having less problems with my knee. As I have fewer knee problems, the more I enjoy being out there, and the spiral goes UP!

So, I hope your running is bringing you whatever it is you'd like in this very weird time. I'd like to think things will be more normal soon.

Until then, run on.

Monday, July 6, 2020

Juice Time and two Streaks

I had that experience again where I decided I was massively discouraged about the weight loss part of all of this transformation stuff, so I decide to get on the scale when I feel I'm at my heaviest. If I do it that way, I'm not as surprised if I see a bad result on the scale. So, I jump on saying "223" out loud, only to find we are at 214.8. Well, that's good because it's lower than I thought, but it's bad because I feel like I wasted a week with not zeroing in on better eating habits.

But, this week..... the dreaded juicing begins. Five days for this first cycle: 2 plant based juices a day, one "shake," and a salad or other non/low-caloric meal. Maybe then we'll "shake" this thing up. My hope is to have the juicing result most men my age and size have which is a significant drop on the scale in a short time. I'd love to sacrifice a bit and drop another 10-14 before the end of this month. Once at 199, only 30 pounds to go. The original quest began here:  Only takes some discipline, right?

The juice recipe, for anyone interested, is: two handfuls of organic Kale, two handfuls of organic baby spinach, 2 or 3 organic granny smith apples (according to their size), one lemon, a half of a pineapple, 3 good size organic carrots. All of this makes a "bag," and a bag makes two large glasses of juice (one for Linda, one for me - she's been doing this for months). The juicer is an Aicok slow masticating juicer and it is excellent. The shake/smoothie is the Fat Flush Body Protein recipe (yummy stuff) from Uni-Key.

52 miles in the book last week. Hit the halfway point of the year at 807 miles. Hoping to get to about 1700 by early December when it's knee replacement time. It's still SOOOOO slow, though. The upside, however, is that whenever I'm beginning and I make that move from the walking to the running, there is a very cool feeling that comes over me. It's hard to describe, so I'll leave it to another day, nonetheless, a good feeling to be in the running motion, no matter the speed.

The meditation is going extremely well. While I seem to be riding a running streak of 68 days, I have a meditation streak of 69. As previously mentioned, I use the Headspace app and while a little tricky getting into the groove right away, now it is a part of the morning.

Saturday, I went to Magnolia Road in Boulder. No, not to run, silly, I went to support my fabulous grandson, Mason for his 18 mile run. A couple of observations: 1) it was packed and there was auto/truck/motorcycle traffic everywhere. Too much in fact (of course at some point coming home we figured out that the Independence Day weekend may have been a factor), 2) LOTS of runners out on a gorgeous day, 3) Next time, maybe in two weeks, we will start earlier. It got hot too fast 4) and most importantly, Mason looked awesome. Ah, I remember the days when an 18 miler in the mid 6's was a piece of cake, and it was a nice memory. Being young, fit, and fast is a fleeting gift. I hope he enjoys it (in fact I hope he savors it).

All in all, everything is good. Work is steady considering that this is usually a slow time anyway. Life at home is fantastic. All is good.

For you, stay safe and run on.

Sunday, June 28, 2020

Wow, It's been two weeks.....

Hoka One One Rincon
Wow, It's been two weeks since the last post. All 6 of my readers must be thinking I'd disappeared.

The reason for my prolonged absence has been that, for the most part, it's been two weeks of kind of simply going through the motions. 41 miles last week and 41 miles this week is only moderately acceptable. Of course it's WAAAAY better than 20-30 miles like in January, February, and March. SO, I'll take it.

My knee has, as well, been uneventful. Sore often and with that funny feeling sometimes like the knee is unattached at the bottom (which is a VERY weird sensation). Nonetheless, not debilitating and not massive amounts of pain. Okay for now.

Found a nice knee strap on Amazon. It's the Hueglo. They come in a two pack and actually are 1) massively cheap, and 2) work better than any other full or half brace I've tried and WAAAAY better than RockTape. Plan on testing it with a step up in the running this coming week. Here's the link if you need lower knee support:  Two for $11.98 can't be beat.

Also rocking a new pair of Hoka One One Rincons. Finding me knee liking my old Hoka Cliftons more than my Nikes lately, I decided to give these new Rincons a try and so far..... real good. I'm liking the cushioning, especially in the forefoot, and once I stopped tying them quite so tight on my left foot, they are fantastic. PLUS!!!!! They were a Father's Day gift from my wonderful sons, Matt and Ryan.

Have been pretty steady on the Plant Based diet. The occasional cheese enters a meal every so often and maybe an egg or two drop in once a week. If the truth be told, I actually had Ginger Soy Salmon last week as a treat and it was delicious. On the whole, however, PlantPower rules.

Totally an epic failure in the weight, core, stretch category though. Yikes, it can't be that difficult to walk down to the basement every other day, can it? Well, we'll work on that.

However..... ROCKING the meditation practice. 61 days in a row and really liking it. Headspace app and Andy Puddicombe are fabulous. I'm really enjoying working my way through mindfulness and focus things that I have always been fairly good at naturally, but the techniques have been great at creating a discipline to the way I handle thoughts and emotions.

All in all, feeling great in the pandemic and shooting for being in the best shape possible come December and the knee replacement.

Stay safe and run on!

Sunday, June 14, 2020

Day 42: Miles, Milestones and Adjustments

It was a fine week in the mileage world. 52 for the week, crossing 700 for the year, and blazing by 115,000 on the lifetime count.

While none of these miles and milestones actually get me too excited, I'm more optimistic that I have had an extremely mediocre dietary week and still lost a pound. That, more than anything else has me ready to make some adjustments in the week to come.

First, I haven't been to the gym in 5 weeks. You COULD blame that on the Coronavirus except for one minor detail: the gym is in the basement. So, since I have a difficult time going down those stairs, I have devised a new program to make it a more one stop sort of thing. Every other day, we'll, lift, do core, and stretch, all in one sitting, so to speak. Sure, that will work.

And then this is the week to pull back in the diet reins and get a little purer with what I eat. Who knows, maybe even the juicing week....... or at least five days. We'll see.

As far as mileage goes it's slow and my knee is sore. Having said that, I just don't care too much and head out there with that expectation. Good days become twice as good then as they're a surprise. As far as the replacement of said knee, it's looking like December will be the right time from several standpoints: mostly work and fitness.

Passing 115,000 miles, while nice, was just okay. 120,000 will be cooler, but the upcoming biggie will be 124,274.2, which will be 200,000 kilometers. I don't imagine being around running long enough for 150,000, but who knows, right?

So we stay the course. How about you?

Run on!

Monday, June 1, 2020

Day 29: Re-Calibrating

Not really much to report on Transformation Road. Optimism rules.

I call it transformation, what it really seems to be is more of a re-calibration. It's not that I am desiring to be someone new. This has always been me on the inside. I'm mostly attempting to regain the physical part of who I used to be. Hopefully that makes sense.

Anyway, five straight weeks of 40 miles or more, an addictive meditation habit, a plant based dietary focus, and more pounds left by the wayside (or maybe the weigh-side) has me optimistic for the upcoming summer. I went sub 220 yesterday (219.2) and I was pretty happy about it. So that's 21 pounds OFF! Crazily, but awesomely: 50 to go.

While the weight loss isn't necessarily the primary focus, it is the manifestation of the healthier way I am choosing to be in the world. I'm fortunate to have good genes and have exploited them for years. No, not alcohol or drugs, just the other things almost as bad: Big Macs, six packs of Pepsi, Five Guys, and the like. The 3 P's made the world go round: Pepsi, Pizza, Pasta. Now it's salad, plant based soups, vegan enchiladas and the like. Frankly, I'm not sure why I waited so long. It has not been a difficult move in any way. I guess that's why it's working.

Running still sucks as this knee just has too many miles on it. The replacement will probably be happening in December now, given that's the best time for me to take 4-6 weeks off for the toughest part of the recovery. We'll see how it goes, but it sure can't be any worse. I am optimistic.

Actually, I AM optimistic and for whatever reason, certainly not my upbringing, I always have been. AND, I'm psyched. Things are on schedule.

Everything will be all right. And, as Patel, the manager in the Marigold Hotel movie said, “Everything will be all right in the end. If it’s not all right, it is not yet the end."

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Day 18: Well, THAT was a surprise!

I'd just got in from 5 miles in the Cherry Creek State Park, which was GORGEOUS this morning. Barely a cloud in the sky, cooler temps than the previous two days, and a nice chat with my youngest son, Ryan.

So, I send him off to head to bed (he works nights at Amazon) and decide it's shower time. I'm feeling a little down, slightly stressed, monstrously fat, and as I peel off my clothes, I'm thinking, "I'll bet I've actually GAINED weight the last couple of weeks. While I've gone like 96% plant based, I'm munching too much at night and still throwing in the occasional egg or cheese something. Let's say I'm less than perfect. 

I figured, I'm already crabby, I might as well suck it up and hit the scale and pound that extra nail into my little pity party coffin. So as I stepped up, I said, "233-34." I don't know about you, but when I am expecting a bad result on the scale, I like to say it before the scale does. I think it's to lighten the bad news. So, I step up...... the scale says 224.0. What??? That cannot be. I got off and did it again..... 224.0. Huh?????  I showered, came back out: 224.0. Huh.......... Okay.

So with a little bit of goods news (that's 17+ pounds in about 5+ weeks), I was ready to recommit to doing even better. Haven't lifted in a week. Got to get on that. Haven't done Yoga with Adrienne in about a week. Got to get on that. Need to try the 5 days of juicing....... we'll see (oh yeah, I mean, Got to get on that).

On the less than perfect side, the knee thing has become a fairly constant source of pain. At this point it seems like I really need to focus on the icing to reduce inflammation. Got to get on that. 

All in all, I guess the transformation is moving along nicely. Day 18, almost in the books.

Happy almost Memorial Day. Gonna miss the Bolder Boulder this year.....

Run on.

Saturday, May 16, 2020

Day 13: Things are happening!

Plant Based Stuffed Peppers
Things are happening.

Not today. I mean, things will happen today but I just woke up so not THAT much has happened. But the week in general, has been pretty positive.

No specifics yet, but I'm either losing significant weight or redistributing it. Pants that seemed snug, or downright tight are now loose. A pair of shorts I hadn't worn in a while began creeping down my hips making movement interesting. When they settled in halfway down my rear end, I resembled a gang member, or maybe a plumber. I spent the day pulling them up (I now have a weird new found respect for anyone who actually wears their pants that way on purpose - not easy). Anyway, weight check is at the end of NEXT week. I'm preferring spreading that out as to not get discouraged by a bad day here and there.

Most everything was a little more challenging this week as I worked a BUNCH. Virtual meetings, live online classes, and the prep for them made little time for other things. What suffered the most was Yoga with Adrienne. I hope Adrienne understands, but some of what she's asking me to do is taking adaptation and some of the soreness that goes with that is keeping me from participating. And of course, I'm busy (sounding like a victim here and it's all her fault!!!).

As per usual, the running has good days and bad, but I'll still turn out about 45-48 miles for the week and I guess I'm okay with that. I still envy those who are out there cruising at any speed on knees that don't look like they hurt, or pop, or buckle. Eh, we'll fix that soon enough.

In the diet world, I'm maintaining my plant based focus. I made my not-quite-world-famous enchiladas earlier in the week and it gave me the idea for some plant based stuffed peppers. I created a "stuffing" sort of based on what we like in the enchiladas. All in all, they were great. There are a few things I'll do differently from a spice perspective next time but they were definitely a treat. Might not let them cook so long either.

The thing that seems to be blossoming the most is my commitment to, and enjoyment of my meditation practice. In fact, just the words "my meditation practice," are beginning to feel comfortable. While a big goal of meditation for many people is peace and/or calmness, I'm really getting into the mindfulness component and working on my ability to recognize and reign in the distractions in my head. 

AND...... I finished a book. While that may not seem like much of an accomplishment, I'm pretty cranked up about it. It seems that I must be picky when it comes to books as I acquire them thinking they're going to be fantastic, only to find that most authors write 200 page books and should have stopped at 100. Maybe a personal problem. Who knows?

Oh, by the way, the book was North by Scott Jurek.

So the "transformation" continues. Stay safe and run on.

Pops and Buckles: What Happens to My Knee

I was running down the Kestrel trail in the foothills near Boise last night and it happened: my knee popped. Then a minute later it did it a...