Running, Biking, Triathlons, Swimming, Snowshoeing; what's next? Sal's kicks butt.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Rochester Runner of the Year

Amazingly, five members of our gang finished in the top five places in our respective age groups, thereby winning Rochester Runner of the Year awards.

Our running/triathlon/snowshoe group, "Sals" (I've got an old mule and her name is Sal, fifteen miles on the Erie Canal) is doing well. I know the song is, "fifteen years", not miles, but miles fits us better. In years past our typical long run on the canal path was fifteen miles. Aging and injuries seems to have changed that. 

Jan finished third in her age group, Eileen fourth in her group, I finished third in my group, with Mike finishing fourth in the same group and Pete finished third in his group. Not a bad representation. Placing in the top 5 in an age group means you ran at least 4 of the 12 twelve series races and earned points in those races. You have to finish in the top 10 in your age group in a race to earn points. You can race in all 12 events, which range from a 1 mile race to a half-marathon, but only your top 6 races count. 

To me the series serves as another form of motivation to get out there and race, especially as I age, and to be as competitive as possible in each of the races. I can't control who shows up at each race, only my own effort. It's  normally best to run as many of the series races as you can to pick up points, but if you are fast, like EW and MW, you can sometimes get away with only running four of the series races. I typically need to run more of the RROY races to get a decent amount of points. With a few fast people moving up from a younger age group next year to my category I'm going to enjoy this year's accomplishment while I can.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Poked, Weighed and Physicals

There something about having a physical exam that bothers me. I begin fretting over the exam as soon as it's scheduled. This morning I just went through an exam (11/20), my first in five years. It's not like I haven't been to a doctors' office since then, with yearly allergist visits, shoulder surgery in 2014, a knee problem in 2016 that required multiple physical therapist appointments, the optometrist, and, my favorite, a colonoscopy in 2016. But no general overall body physical.

It came down to this. My wife and I go to the same doctor. She had to see our doctor a few months ago and he realized I hadn't been in for quite a while. Doctor tells wife, wife tells husband, husband goes to doctor. It's a vicious cycle that I have no control over.

I'm always worried about being clean before visiting the doctor, so I showered just before having to leave. Since you are going to be poked and touched all over and feel a bit icky again, I'm not quite sure why I feel like that, but I get as clean as possible. Just like brushing my teeth right before going to the dentist, hey, did I ever say I was normal? 

Due to plantar fascia issues in one foot I haven't been able to run. I've biked and swam, lifted weights, but no running. In my youth (pre-age 40) I couldn't put on weight no matter what I ate. Now I can look at a cupcake and gain a pound if I'm not regularly running. I've put on 6 pounds in the last month. At this rate I will be the next Michelin Man, without having to wear a costume.
My first issue with a physical exam is being weighed in. They never let me take off my shoes, so there's 1.5 - 2lbs. Then my clothes. I don't expect a naked weigh-in, but give me a few pounds off for the clothes, right? No. My weight, that she actually wrote in the chart (damn the nurse) was huge. HUGE. Then I had my blood pressure taken with the machine. I hate the machine! It always gives me high numbers, always. It's just a machine, not magic, and needs to be calibrated constantly, but they aren't. Nurses, no offense if you are reading this, don't want to hear me complain about the machine. This makes my blood pressure go up even more. According to their machine my heart was about to burst from my chest and circle the earth. The nurse wrote that number in my chart. WTF. Now, before even seeing the doctor, I'm fat and have extraordinarily high BP. Great.

Fortunately my Doctor is a good, reasonable, funny man. He asked questions, typed information into the computer, poked me here and there, looked for weird growths, all that stuff. He gave me suggestions for the plantar fascia, without telling me to stop running because I'm too old. At one point, when I expressed feeling like an old man at times, he said I have the health and body of a 30 year old. That may be a bold-faced lie, (I'm 61 on Wednesday), but I'll take it.

The Doc also used a manual blood pressure cuff. The top number was 35pts lower than the machine! He tested my balance, checked my joints, gave me the DWI eyes closed finger to nose test, and found that I truly do have a heart. I also agreed to my first ever flu shot. I'm good to go for another few years, or until the next time the doctor tells my wife to tell me to get in to see him!

Monday, November 13, 2017

Still Injured? Why Yes I Am. .

Sometimes I think my plantar fascia is never going to heal. In the last three weeks I've run 2.8 miles and shouldn't have run the last .8, but I had to get home and by then walking hurt just as much. Stupid foot.
I wear running shoes with inserts to work, not the best look but if it helps so what? I ice my foot. I have a tennis ball on my desk that I use to massage my foot 2-3 times while working. I take mega-doses of Advil, destroying my liver, but if it fixes my foot who cares? The liver will grow back, my foot won't.
I massage my foot at home, stretch constantly, wear a boot at home, sometimes a Strassburg (?) sock at night while sleeping, though that is annoying.
The pain has gone down to maybe 20%, but I know if I run it will shoot right back up. If it stayed a constant 20% I'd be happy and deal with it. Getting old sucks.

Ten things about having an injured plantar fascia;
1. I drink more alcohol, well being injured is my excuse to do that anyhow.
2. I'm getting fat, gaining five pounds in two weeks. I guess this could be related to the alcohol?
3. My running shoes aren't getting worn down and still look clean. Maybe that is good?
4. I can bike without pain, so am doing that indoors about 3-4x per week.
5. I can eat anything since I don't have to worry about having bathroom issues while on the run.
6. Swimming is going well, again 2-3x a week.
7. Jan and I are doing a 30 day squat challenge. I pretend this will build up muscles to support my foot better.
8. My big 10k Thanksgiving Day race, coming up in 10 days, looks like it's not happening. I may be support crew for Jan and friends.
9. Driving actually makes the plantar fascia hurt. I find this weird, it's the left foot, not the brake/gas pedal foot.
10. Outwardly I pretend I'm patient. Actually people at work haven't noticed my limp. Jan puts up with my whining, at least somewhat.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Life as an injured runner

Fall is a time of crawling under a pile of blankets to sleep and waking up refreshed and ready to emerge from my cocoon.

I wait all year to run in the crisp, cool air of October and November, only to injure my Plantar Fascia.

Two days after registering for a 5k and 10k race my foot became sore enough that I’ve only run a mile in the last week. That’s what I get for pre-registering.

Rolling my foot on top of a tennis ball seems to be the best therapy. I don’t leave home without it. The ball sits on my desk at work and I use it 2-3x a day. 

Most of my exercise now consists of swimming 2-3x a week and lifting weights. I’ve biked a few times, but not fast enough or long enough to really call it a workout. If the injury keeps up I should look like a fat Incredible Hulk in a month. 

The Incredible Hulk can’t run very fast though. 

I need to get my bike on the trainer and start pedaling. 

I’m an okay injured runner for about two days, then the crankiness begins to come through. I start feeling fat, bloated, out of breath when walking up a flight of stairs and thinking that drinking isn’t such a bad sport.  

It’s amazing how much time I have to clean the house, fix things and go through my job jar. I’ve accomplished more in the last two weeks then the previous two months. 

I’d rather spend that time running.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Rochester Runner of the Year

Only two races left in the Rochester Runner of the Year series (sponsored by GRTC). First up is a 5k in downtown Rochester, the East Avenue Grocery Run, held on November 4. The last race in the series is the Race with Grace 10k, held in Greece, NY on Thanksgiving morning.

It took me a long time to learn that competition sometimes comes down to who shows up and runs the race, stays healthy and motivated. Thinking about how you would have finished in a race if so and so competed isn't relevant. You compete against yourself and who is there on that day. In that vein our Sal's group is doing pretty well against Rochester area runners.

Jan has completed five races in the series (4 is minimum, 6 maximum out of 12) and I've done six, so we are eligible for an award if we finish in the top five in our age group. Currently Jan is third and could finish anywhere from third-sixth in her group. I am second and could finish from second to fifth.

Pete is second in his age group, but could finish from second-fifth. Eileen is fourth and if she finishes the next two series races will be at least top five. Mike W is in seventh, but if he runs the next two series races and finishes in the top three or better could possibly make it to a top five spot.

I find the RROY series a nice motivator to measure myself against myself, really. Can I stay healthy all year, since the races run from March - November? There are a variety of distances, from 1 mile to the half-marathon, a good method to discover which distances you are best at. Can I maintain my speed compared to the previous year if the same course is used? Speed is all relative since my 5k per mile pace times are about the same as my marathon per mile pace from ten years ago. But on the other hand, I'm sixty and have been a "runner" since I was twenty-three. Normal society would consider that amazing or weird, depending on who you are talking to. 

And so I continue to run, albeit slower, since it usually feels good and I'm able to.

Monday, October 2, 2017

Pre-Race Caffeine?

There have been many scientific experiments regarding the effect of caffeine on athletes. Despite these studies one's own personal experiences generally determine whether you believe caffeine is necessary prior to a workout or race. Runner's World 2017.

I am a caffeine user. Judging by my ever slowing race pace over the years it probably doesn't matter if I drink a cup of tea or coffee before a race or not. There are times I'm so anxious before a race that I can't even finish eight ounces of coffee. I think it's out of habit, the hope that it helps my body wake-up and become regular (i.e. bathroom) that drives my usage. The argument can be made that the caffeine makes me seek out a port-a-pot too often before a race to make drinking a cup useless.

When I get up before work to lift weights I'll definitely take a mug of coffee with me to the basement. At least then bathroom concerns are alleviated since I'm still home. The same is true when I do an early morning indoor bike ride. A water bottle is on the bike and the coffee mug is on a stool next to me. 

Wondering what kind of coffee to drink? Check out this Runner's World article.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Icebergs in Mirror Lake?

Race morning for our Lake Placid 70.3 jaunt was a bit on the cold side. Only thirty-eight degrees when we were setting up our gear in transition. Brrr. After months of being worried about heat, especially on the run, we got just the opposite, a beautiful, but chilly, race day.

Mirror Lake had cooled off from 70 two weeks prior to 61 on race morning. Jan and I went out and bought booties, which in our practice sessions worked great. After much planning I went to get dressed for the race and couldn't find my swim cap. Panic quickly overtook me as I ran back to transition. I couldn't find it. It wasn't anywhere in the house we rented. What to do? Jan and I went to the race start early to try and get a replacement but couldn't. I was really worried I would be disqualified right at the start. I ended up being the only swimmer with a blue cap, but they let me in the water.

I had a great swim, actually enjoying myself, passing people, feeling good, getting rid of my pre-race anxiety. It's amazing what training and adrenaline can do. Then we came out of the cold water into 20 degree colder air. It was brutal. Mistake one was taking off my wetsuit before the long run/walk to transition. Now I only had on small tri shorts. Transition took forever, I think it was the same for many people who were trying to dry off and get warm enough for the bike leg. Mistake two was not planning ahead and changing from wet, cold shorts to bike pants. Mistake three was not having another layer on my top. Mistake four was thinking winter bike gloves would be enough, they weren't. I was worried about heating up too much later on the bike. I should have been more worried about freezing going downhills.

Jan Swim
Long story - but I dropped out after only 3 miles on the bike. I was frozen, hands were numb, I couldn't hold the bike going down little hills and didn't want to risk the 7 miles down to Keene.

Congratulations to Mike W, Eileen W and Jan (my wife), who not only put up with me, but completed the IM 70.3! They were awesome. The temperature didn't really go up until the run when it hit about 60+ degrees. 

Jan at Finish
Jan Bike
Mike W Bike

Eileen Finish
Special thanks to the Katz's for volunteering at the swim session for several hours. I think they got colder than any of us. Also - these photographs are under copyright. I did purchase a photo from Finisherpix.