Monday, December 5, 2016

A return to the blogosphere

Well, I have no recent races to speak of but I've been advancing my fitness and overall health enough to feel like it's time to record my activities once again.

It has been an interesting transition taking a teaching position and coaching role up in Durham at Oyster River High School. As head coach of the boys' HS team, I helped ferry the team to the New England Championships and help senior Patrick O'Brien stamp his ticket to footlocker Nationals in San Diego this coming weekend. I have to keep reminding myself how rare that second feat is. Patrick was a 9:19 3200m runner coming into the season... which is very good, but not to the caliber of the typical footlocker finalist. Figuring out what style of training helps him to improve was super interesting and he possessed the right porpotions of determination and intelligence to get to the finish line of the regional in 3rd place, well inside what he needed to do. He also set a course record on the NH Meet of Champion's course at 15:03. I think that one will stand for at least  a couple years.

So I've run a bit with the team and I have been out mostly on the trails on the weekends when I'm not coaching a meet. It has been cool to convey my philosophy about training and racing to young runners and see them have success. The saying, "Do as I say, not as I do" totally applies here, as I definitely don't train myself as I train my athletes. When I train myself, I tend to run too hard, too often, and I'm not patient enough to see the bigger picture. Also, I rarely have the patience to properly warm-up or do the PT that comes along with running higher mileage.  Hopefully having recognized these things about myself can force a change as I am now officially 30-years-old and want to experience a few more years of fast running. What do I have, 8-12 years of my best running left? Some guys are not even so lucky. I'm hopeful that the next few years will be ones I look back positively on in terms of running, unlike the past two years of one step forward, two steps back.

The plan from now to the New Year is just to get in steady miles in the 30-40 range with 3 core or strength workouts a week and a long run of 10-12 miles. I'm also going to experiment with some exercises to help straighten out my hips and lower back. With any luck, I'll feel ready to hit the snowshoes when the NH SS GP begins!

Anyway, here goes an attempt at regular blogging.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Something blog-worthy

Just a quick update to report that roughly 6 months post-surgery I'm fully able to run again without any pain or lingering inflammation or weakness afterwards. I'm not running a lot - fitness and schedule being most of the issue - but I have been able to run up to 10 miles once in a while and yesterday I ran my first track workout. 

I ran with the JV boys as they prep for their state meet on Thursday.

We did 800, 400, 800, 400, 800, 400 at goal 5k pace. I ran with a different kid each time and went 2:33, 76, 2:40, 79, 2:46, 75. I felt a bit like Bambi out there but it was still pretty cool to run fast for a little while.

The goal is to run a turkey trot in late November and maybe help out on a Mill Cities relay squad in mid-December..

Meanwhile, coaching the Oyster River boys team has been super fun! Championship season is here!

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Week 17: Hitting the ground... cycling

Monday: 15 mile ride easy. Trying to get back into exercise on the right... wheel? Okay, I'll stop.

Tuesday: 26 miles steady to Topsfield collecting a disc I lost over the weekend. Strangers contacted me and hid it well so I could collect it. Nice!

Wednesday: 43 miles / 2:23 and change, with Sharon weaving to Topsfield and back. Felt good for the first 30 or so and struggled thereafter. Sunburned but satisfied. Off to a good week!

Thursday: 1.6 miles easy shaking the legs out. Good stretch after.

Friday: 6.7 miles / 59 minutes on trails at Ward. It was warm but I felt good after half a mile of shuffling!

Saturday: 6am: 62-63 miles @ 20.1 mph with the breakaway crew. It was cool to do a real group ride for maybe only the 5th time in my life. Hung tough (read: drafted like a banshee) the last 10 miles as the pace picked up. Pulled a few times but mostly just hung onto the wheel in front of me. There was a bit of a sprint finish toward the end which I had no part of. A few maniac drivers on the road but I guess that's just how it is. It's probably stressful for some people trying to get to work and having 16 or so cyclists to get past. Good ride all around!

Week 16: The lost week

No need to itemize this week as I was completely inundated by DC trip duties Monday-Friday. My cousin Colin arrived Friday night and we celebrated his birthday over the weekend. Highlights include 4 rounds of disc golf, a trip to Mohegan Sun, and lots of good food. Starting anew in week 17.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Week 15: Steady as she goes..

Monday: Run with Alex... calling it 5 miles. My GPS had 5.6 and Alex had 4.8 but it was all on trails in the winding and technical Ward Reservation. This was my first time there since surgery and it was soo very good to be back. I'm very unfit, so this was a moderate-to-hard effort for me. Meanwhile Alex is very fit, but coming off of a couple wins this weekend and needed a nice shake-out. I imagine this will be the kind of run we do together for quite some time. Goal is to run 7 miles at some point this week. I also want to run or bike 5 days total. I would also like to see a mile sub-7... we'll see if I can find a nice long downhill somewhere :)

Tuesday: 5.3 miles. Solo run at Ward on the same loop as yesterday. Love that place! Ran a bit slower than yesterday in the 88 degree heat and also probably because I wasn't chasing Alex prancing through the woods ahead of me. I used the downhill coming back to the car and continued past it to get a quicker mile and ended up well sub-7 with a 6:35 dropping 35 feet. My stride felt the best it has yet! Knee feeling almost completely normal!

Wednesday: 6 miles in Ward. Really nice weather for international running day but in terms of energy I felt like garbage. No pop in the legs. This is probably a result of running 3 days consecutively for the first time since maybe October! Tomorrow off for sure. Absorb the work!

Thursday: 4.8 miles roads during coaching.  Couldn't help but run in perfect conditions.  3.4 MI tempo for my 54 yo runner at 7:40 pace. She was pumped! So was I. Tomorrow a jog is not likely with 8th grade promotion. We'll see.

Friday: Off, as expected!

Saturday: 3 miles easy / 21 minutes

Sunday: Off, preparing for DC Trip

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Week 14 - Picking up the slack

Monday: 4.3 miles easy with the HSers at running club. Nice day out. A touch humid but I'd rather ease into the summer weather rather than have it hit all at once. Oh, it's supposed to be 90 on Wednesday? ...Nevermind.

Tuesday: 4 total / 2 miles easy to NAMS to coach a workout in 16 minutes. After coaching I jogged back down the hill in 15 minutes or a hair under. Last mile 7:03 - fastest one yet! Feeling more and more comfortable running quicker. Iced after. I need to be better about continuing my PT. Hitting the bike tomorrow given the heat.

Wednesday: 50 minutes on the bike. Felt good!

Thursday: Off - Job interview consumed all free time. It went well!

Friday: Off - Ran up to the superintendent's office. It went well!

Saturday: Off - Lazy! Drove to Burlington. It was hot. Hung at the beach. Camped at North Beach. Shared a fire with some people from VA. Very fun times.

Sunday: Off - ish. Ran around a bit early on at the marathon but nothing noteworthy. Headed home before the storm hit. Oppressively hot day for a long race!!

Overview: Well, the week started off well and ended pretty pathetically from a training perspective. This has been a bit of a pattern. I have insanity week at school with finals, multiple graduations, a ceremony or two and then prepping for the DC trip I'm leading. Next week I'll be touring DC Monday-Thursday and then our final in-service day on Friday before summer vacation begins. So... t-minus 2 weeks until summer and "real" training can begin in earnest!

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Week 13 - Working out the kinks

Monday - jogged for 10 minutes and did my PT from the dg course at Devens. Eventually played a solid 18 holes. The Devens course is built on an old military training course which is has technical footing and is pretty hilly. Hiking around seems to be generally good for the body right now.

Tuesday - 5 miles moderate from the train station at Ballardvale. Took me 44 minutes. Single-track has always slowed me down by about 40 seconds/mi but given that I'm running extra carefully I think it's slowing me by a solid minute. Have to remind myself that the body doesn't care about distance traveled so much as it does time spent running. This is the longest run I've done by 8 or 10 minutes. The aerobic side of things is definitely coming along. Meanwhile the R hamstring has some strengthening to do. No PT today.

Wednesday - drove to Cherry Hill, NJ after work. Got there around 1am. Stiff from the ride.

Thursday - Brother-in-law graduated from Rutger's Law so the day was consumed by family stuff. Saw this coming.

Friday - 3 mile jog before travel to the Jersey shore.

Saturday - 4 mile jog with Greg on the shore. Nice and flat area. Good tailwind... on the way out, at least. Felt good.

Sunday - Return from the shore. 8 hours in the car and prepped for a big week at school. No run >.<

Overall: Not a great week from just about any perspective. 3 runs and feeling good on those, however. Gotta pick it back up for next week, despite the hectic nature of end of year activities.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Week 12 - Recovery Conclusion

I'm entering the final week of the standard healing time forecast for the operation I had done. By no means does that imply I am positioned to return to full activity, but it's encouraging to have gone through the recovery process and seen steady improvement from week-to-week thus far. I have a long way to go before I return to racing, but I'm positioned to run more regularly while I continue my exercises for strengthening the VMO.

Monday: 2.8 miles easy with a few high schoolers at running club. Felt good to jog after a couple days off.

Tuesday: 4 miles moderate solo following "Dan's loop". Getting the HR down to near normal levels while running (171 avg) which is a good sign. The first few runs were reading very high despite the efforts feeling easy to moderate.

Wednesday: Taking the day off. Hitting up the Sox game with Lauren and our friends Brad and Cass. The forecast couldn't be better, and Porcello is pitching!

Thursday: 4.3 miles on the trails and a few roads around Ballardvale. The cooler temps definitely made running more comfortable.

Friday: 60 minutes on the spin bike at the YMCA. HR avg 150. Felt good! Fatigued the last 10 minutes or so. Felt like real aerobic work without aggravating the knee at all. Progress!

Saturday: Walked around Amesbury with dad shooting some disc golf. Played my best game of the season (69) for the Pines. Lauren and my dad tied (lauren got an 18 pt handicap since she can't drive as far)

Sunday: Off. Worked a table at the Alex Fresce meet at NAHS. Gave away 300 flyers for the running camp Amanda and I put together. Evening bash with the Italian in-laws in southern MA.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Recovery #11 - Things are going well

Monday - 25 minutes on the spin bike at the YMCA followed by PT and some basic core exercises. I did some leg press for only the second time and this attempt went far better than the first which was about 3 weeks ago. For the press I focused on high reps (20) and I didn't go through the full range of motion so as to target the VMO... that dinky little muscle I need to strengthen. Feeling good, Tuesday, as I write this. Planning a jog for Tuesday, probably at a slower pace to see how that feels. Onward!

Tuesday - 2.6 mi trail run in the Vale reservation by the old apartment. I planned to hit the track, but every mondo track in NE was occupied by high school teams and after my 3rd attempt I went with the next best thing. The trails were nice and clear and the ground was springy and soft. Felt great! Stopped a few times to take in the scenery.

Wednesday - off. PT and ice.

Thursday - 2.75 mi run with my friend, Troy, from work. Very flat, smooth road. Took it nice and easy... like 10 minute pace. Hit the gym with Alex in the evening for the day 2 lift (back and bicep).

Friday - off. Stayed late to wrap up the week and then straight over to the Spring concert at school. It's good to "rest"!

Saturday - Took a long walk with mom and lifted in the evening. PT after.

Sunday - off. Another good day but no activity to report, unfortunately! Back at it on Monday.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Recovery Week #10

Monday: Very, very tired from the weekend. Napped when I got home. Did my standard PT stuff at night.

Tuesday: .25 mi walking warm-up. 1.5 mile jog at 8:20 pace. .25 mi cool-down. Longest jaunt yet! Then, weights! Tried some new stuff... seated snatch, seated forward press, standing front and back, lateral and forward extensions, shoulder extensions, and some other stuff I don't know the name of. My back muscles are pretty weak at this point so I kept the weight light and just focused on form.

Wednesday: Nada.

Thursday: standard PT. Knee was inexplicably sore. Guessing it was the lack of activity yesterday causing it to stiffen up. Plenty of icing.

Friday: 2 mile jog followed by PT. Ice.

Saturday: devens disc golf and PT. Ice.

Sunday: 3 mile run in 24:00. Felt good! I'll be keeping it there and no farther for the time being. My VMO (medial quad muscle above the knee) is still atrophied and needs to be the focus for now. 3 mile runs every other day or so should be long enough to give me a sense of how I'm progressing but short enough not to cause a set-back.  Day 1 lift (chest and tricep) in the evening with Alex. Ice.


Well, I ran a whopping total of 6.5 miles this week. That's a pretty big leap and I need to continue being cautious as I enter week #11. PT continues to cause some soreness and irritation, particularly where the major incision was. I'm told by the surgeon this is normal and if PT wasn't making me sore that I wouldn't be doing it right. I should probably be spending more time on the bike than I have been, particularly before I do my PT. I've been told I'm ready to do some leg press on the sled at the gym as that should help me target the VMO so I'll be starting that up on Monday. In the meantime, I need to get on top of my diet in a real way as I'm at my lifetime heaviest and that can't be good for running. I eat healthy, but I generally eat like I'm running 60 MPW and obviously that hasn't been the case for the past 6 months. I want to be running lean by the summer. Time to buckle down!

Monday, April 18, 2016

Entering Week #9.

Saturday: Put new tires on the road bike and took it outside for the first time this year. Rode 9 miles nice and easy. It was beautiful out!

Sunday: Played a round of disc golf with my dad. We estimated the course at a tad over 2 miles with a lot of vert (for a 2m walk). I used trekking poles for the downhills. Knee feels great.

Monday: Spent the day in Boston working on my sunburn and probably walked about 4 miles. Evening lift with Alex. Hit 175# on the bench but only made 1 rep. Guess I know my max bench now! Did a few sets of 5 at 155# which is where I'll need to stay for a little while. Knee feeling very good.

Tuesday: I ran one whole mile on the track in 8:20 or so. It felt good!

Wednesday: Standard PT exercises but otherwise took the day off.

Thursday: I ran one whole mile on the track in 7:30 or so. It felt good, again. Lifted with Alex in the evening. New stuff... seated cable rows, lat pull downs, straight arm cable pulls, hammer curls, straight bar curls,

Friday: Drove to Acadia. Knee gets stiff sitting in a driving position. Set up camp, did a small hike by the water. Amazing crew up there for the weekend. Very rare to gather ~15 friends from the college days in one place, especially northern Maine!

Saturday: 5 mile hike in Acadia. Used terkking poles which we very helpful for the downhill. Knee felt excellent.

Sunday: Return trip from Acadia had the knee feeling a bit stiff but I wanted to do something so Alex and I played a round of 18 holes at the Pines up in Amesbury.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Jogging in week 8

On Thursday I hit the track for a little test run. I walked half a mile to warm-up and then I alternated walking and slowly jogging every 100m for 1 mile. It was awesome. I was grinning ear-to-ear basically the entire time.

The knee felt very good. The middle quad muscle (rectus femoris) is tight. I think it's due to shortening as I haven't been able to adequately stretch my right quad for 2 months.
Friday will be a day off and back at it on Saturday morning!

Total distance 1.5m / running distance .5m


Thursday, April 14, 2016

Cleared to jog!!

The doc was very happy after examination of the knee this Wednesday. The swelling has reduced significantly and he felt no grinding as the leg extended or contracted. He said I was "one of the lucky ones".

He cleared me to jog every other day so long as the knee continues to respond well. We're talking about a walk/jog ratio of about 100m on/100m off. He told me a track is the best place to do it because it's a neutral surface with fewer variables and the moment the knee gets sore or stiff I should stop and allow the body to respond.

So, I'll be hitting the track this afternoon. 1 mile of total movement on tap... I'm guessing it should take me about 12 minutes after warming up... maybe more. It's a start!

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Week #8-9: Getting back

I didn't blog this past week or even really track my moves so I'll be summarizing week 8 here. I finished a round of ibuprofen after 5 days and noticed modest but steady improvement over the week. Sometime mid-week I hit the gym once and warmed up a little on the bike, and hit a new PR of 155# on the bench. Only managed 4 reps so at this point it's time to buckle down and spend a bit more time in the 130-140 range. I also handled high reps of 80# on the standing shoulder press. It's cool to have progress although I reluctantly admit, I'm not looking or feeling much like a runner at the moment.

By Friday my knee was feeling pretty good. Over the weekend I mostly took it easy except for a long walk through the woods with my cousins at a dog park in southwestern CT. There was some decent swelling after, but 2 1/2 hours of walking around should probably do that. Felt great the following Monday and warmed up on the bike. Afterwards I got on the treadmill and... jogged! 4 MPH for an entire minute. It was euphoria. Pain-free jogging for the first time in about a year. I was tempted to continue for a few minutes but my brain overruled that notion pretty quickly and I did my PT exercises instead.

I re-visit the surgeon on Wednesday. It will be interesting to hear what he has to say about where I'm at in the healing process and what he thinks about the generalized welling I sometimes get.

That's all, folks...

Friday, April 1, 2016

A "Rocky" Week #7 in the rehab process

Monday: 15 minutes on the bike, MYRTL, icing in the evening. Standard PT exercises.

Tuesday: 20 minutes faster on the bike, standard lift at the gym and brought Alex which was fun. PT afterwards and got ultrasound, e-stim and learned a few new exercises. I did far more leg extensions  and quad contractions than ever. Best range of motion yet!

Wednesday: HURTING. pain directly behind the knee-cap. Can't walk down stairs. Keeping a positive attitude about it as you never know where the line is until you cross it, but on the same token it is a bit frustrating as I was trusting the lead of the PT and clearly overdid it. Took the day off from all activity and iced a lot.

Thursday: Feeling better but not 100%. Visited PT and we established that I am having a tendonitis reaction in and above the patella. It was actually relieving to know what I'd done as I feared I had really screwed something up with the incisions or... who knows what else. I also learned a little more about the anatomy of the patella, where the tendon runs from the bottom of the knee all the way into the quadriceps muscle. OK, so maybe I should have known that already, but how I'd imagined it in the past was two separate patellar tendons connecting to either side of the kneecap and not one larger tendon throughout. It makes more sense to me knowing that as I was really concerned that the patella itself felt sore. Didn't do any exercises, allowing the tendon to heal.

Friday: Started a round of ibuprofen. Sore but seeing more improvement. Quick lift after dinner.  Hit 145# on the bench.

Saturday: Completely off. Resting everything. Iced regularly.

Sunday: "

Friday, March 25, 2016

Recovery Week #6

Monday: An unreasonable snow day call gave me an unreasonable amount of free time yesterday. I wished that meant that I hiked a mountain or went for a long ride up the coast, but hanging with Alex and then later with my childhood friend Brent and his son Owen was a good substitute. Knee felt pretty good all day. I did the myrtl routine and a 30 min spin on the trainer. Sometime mid-day I got so bored I vaccumed, cleaned, scrubbed, protected, conditioned, (add any other number of cleaning verbs) the car which was desperately needed. Looks and smells good... for the moment... Real exciting stuff, right? One day closer to running...

Tuesday: Saw Physical Therapy for my first official visit. The goal there is to get a little more guidance and get some treatment that I can't do on my own. The first visit was pretty tame.. we mostly just talked about the past 5 weeks and the details of the surgery. I was given a list of pretty basic exercises to do a few times each day. Hit the gym after PT for 20 minutes on the recumbent trainer and did the exercises I was prescribed.

Wednesday: Rest day. I did the PT stuff once and iced a bit but nothing else.

Thursday: 15 minutes steady spinning before Lift Day! 4 sets on the bench (10@95, 10@115, 6@135, 8@125) and a new 20s-PR of 135 using the big 45 # plates for the first time since I was 15. In something like 5 or 6 sessions I was able to move form 95 lbs to 135 lbs which is surprising.. It's nowhere close to the satisfaction of seeing running improvements, but a PR is a PR and it's nice to have an area where I can see real gains for a change.

Perhaps even more notably, right after I finished my last set, I stood up, turned around and saw a high school aged kid trapped with about 170 lbs of barbell on his face. I immediately jumped behind the bar and held it so he could get out. The amazing part is he had a buddy who was supposed to be spotting but apparently got distracted by an attractive lady across the way, and left him mid-set. Amazing.

I finished the day with shoulder press, lat pull-downs, curls, and tricep extensions all with new PRs. Afterwards I ran through my PT exercises. Find them here if you're curious: 

Friday: 15 minutes on the bike followed by 3 sets of PT exercises plus the MYRTL routine. I added some additional planks and med ball exercises. Too much detail to write out here, but it took about 45 minutes total. I listened to a great podcast with the premise of how mentality trumps physical ability in sport, even at a physiological level. Find it on iTunes by SportsCoachRadio. It's called "Mind over Muscle: Using mental fitness to become world class". Pretty cool stuff! I'd recommend most of the stuff on SportsCoachRadio, actually.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Recovery week #5: Steady as she goes!

Monday: Myrtl routine, 10 minute spin. Feeling run down for no good reason. Saw the doctor in the morning and he said I'm healing faster than expected which was uplifting.

Tuesday: Myrtl routine, 20 minute spin and feeling downright sick. First cold of winter 2016. Celebrated Lauren's birthday at Burton's with Chrissy, Greg and Alex

Wednesday: took a break from myrtl stuff as I'm feeling pretty sore in the hips (in a good way). 30 minute spin at an aerobic intensity as a test to see how the knee would react. Lifted 3 x 10 on the bench at 95, 105, 115, 3 x 10 at 50 lb overhead press, 3 x 10 at 90 lb on the lat pull downs.

Thursday: No activity. Just regular icing at home. Busy day made for a good excuse to relax a bit. Not surprisingly, the knee was a bit more swollen than it was early in the week and I'm assuming it's because I pushed things on the bike. It's not painful.. but I probably won't try that again until week 7 since regularly hitting that level of intensity is probably a stupid idea for now.  Testing things out is all part of the process.

Friday: 20 minute spin. I toyed with the idea of lifting but struggled with comparable weight to Wednesdays session and bagged it right away. I did the myrtl session when I got home which is getting a lot easier.

Saturday: Lauren and I went to Maudslay for a walk. No real plan in terms of time or distance, just followed the perimeter and down to the river. It was beautiful out. Saw a great horned owl nesting in a large spruce just outside the parking lot which was really neat. Wound up traveling 3 painless miles in a bit over an hour. My legs were tired in general simply from having deliberately avoided walking for much of the past 5 weeks!!

Sunday: 20 minute spin followed by a quick lift at the Y. Moved up to 3 x 10 at 60 lb on the overhead press. High school brats hogged the bench press for most of the time so I used dumbells at 40 lbs instead for the a couple sets and then grabbed the opportunity to do one set of 10 at 125 lbs - first time at that weight since college (which was a pretty long time ago if I'm forced to think about it!) I did curls at 30 lbs which was another first. Similar stuff as normal for the lats and triceps. And, the knee felt so good I decided to try part of the lunge matrix I'll be building into my training at the beginning of every session (eventually). I did 5 forward lunges on each leg, and 5 side lunges in each direction, and I was slow and deliberate not to push into any discomfort. They felt good, but I can tell it will be weeks if not a month or more before I really feel confident with them.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Recovery Week #4: Getting there!

Monday: knee felt very good day but made the conservative call and took a break from the bike. Relaxed and iced in the evening. Watched the first episode of House of Cards... Real exciting stuff, right?!

Well, here's a little look inside my knee to satiate your boredom!

This right here is called an impingement. It is cartilage and bone... that used to be attached to my knee.

The top is my knee cap after the impingement was removed and lots of "cleaning" was done... Still some healing to be done...


20 minute spin on the recumbent bicycle. I did a few quad extensions per the doctor's orders and the tissue above my knee immediately swelled... not to the point of pain, but enough to be worrisome.

Wednesday: 30 minute spin on the recumbent bike. Felt good. Swelling in the knee was down but not looking as good as it did on Monday. My ribs are feeling well enough to lift a majority of the upper body. Starting with the basics: beach muscles! I did 2 sets of 20lb bicep curls, 2 sets of 60 lb lat pull downs, 2 sets on the bench at a pathetic 95 lbs (gotta start somewhere!), 2 sets of 20 lb shoulder press. Figured that would be enough to make me sore... AND IT WAS!

Thursday: 15 minutes easy spinning on the trainer at home.

Friday: 25 minute easy spin on the recumbent bike.

Saturday: 10 minute spin followed by 3 sets. 25 lb bicep curls, 90 lb lat pull downs, bench at 95, 105, 115. 50 lb dumbell shoulder press, etc.

Sunday: 30 min spin. plus MRTYL series for hip strength and mobility. I guess the series was programmed by Jay Johnson, a former CU runner who coaches all over the internet now. The exercises challenged my glutes, hamstrings and lower back but nothing overboard. Even the smallest stimulus right now has a big response because I was so sedentary for a few weeks. Feeling good!

Monday, February 29, 2016

Recovery week #3

Entering week #3 feeling pretty optimistic. This weekend spent with the legs up really seems to be paying off! Here are a few shots from the surgery and immediate aftermath. I'll add some photos of the impingement when I can get them. 

In the recovery room... in an "unusually" good mood

 Comparison 24 hours out. Not looking too bad!
A majority of the work was done on the inside of the knee

Monday 2/29: I was feeling bold and went sans crutch at work today as encouraged by the doc.  It turned out pretty well but my leg got tired by mid afternoon.  I guess that's what happens when you don't use your leg to walk for a couple weeks! 15 minutes on the bike and felt okay.  Some discomfort but nothing unusual.

Tuesday 3/1: Day 2 with no crutch and feeling far better in a mere 24 hours.  Pretty cool! Had a few solid classes and breezed through a surprise 90min observation by the dean of academics (read: my boss). Thankful to my kids for stepping it up and having a pretty cool discussion about the evolution of politics we're observing in this country. 25 minute spin. The plan was 20. Writing this, I'm ashamed because I know that part of what got me into this mess is getting greedy and pushing my limits when the timing isn't right. I really need to work on patience and not get carried away when I'm feeling good. That said... I did feel really good this afternoon. I feel like I'm turning a corner and that has me beaming with gratitude.   Back to 15 or 20 minutes tomorrow...

Wednesday 3/2: Pretty basic day! I was up and down the stairs a lot today which made my knee a little cranky. Descending is lightyears more difficult than climbing, just in terms of coordination. The major incision went through part of my VMO which is one of the medial (inner) quadricep muscles, which, I've learned, is definitely a major component of walking downstairs. The things you take for granted!... Finished the day with 20 minutes in a very low gear on the trainer and plenty of ice.

Thursday 3/3: 25 minutes on the bike. Plenty of icing after. Swelling was noticably down today! Walking really well.

Friday 3/4: Lauren and I headed down to Newport, RI for a little getaway. We swam (indoors), hung out, and most importantly reaffirmed all of the stuff we're working on together. Iced the knee in the evening. Day off, in terms of activity.

Saturday 3/5: Today I rode the bike for 25 minutes on the recumbent bicycle because the upright bicycle had one of those enormous wide seats which is, in no way, comfortable. For a reason beyond my own understanding, it felt harder than riding the upright bicycle like when I'm on my bike at home. Kept it nice and light.

Sunday 3/6: ...And, I woke up sore for the first time in months (muscularly), specifically in my glutes. So what I realized is that the recumbent bike vs. the upright bike is a very different activity in a significant way. I do NOT understand how it's different, aside from the role of gravity, but still, there appears to be an important difference. Since I've been told I have under-active glutes in the first place, I went to the YMCA for my spinning time and hit the recumbent bike. Within minutes I felt my weaker glute struggle, and by the end of the 20 minute spin I was convinced that I need to be riding the recumbent bike for a while, and certainly for rehab of the knee. I also hit the machines for a few upper body reps. My goal there was just to wake up the mucle groups and get them ready as I'm 4 weeks out from the rib breaks and it will soon be time to get the core working in a significant way again.

Week in Review: 120 minutes of spinning, 1 set in the weight room, and significantly reduced swelling in the knee. Walking more. Icing regularly but that's boring to report on. Mobility routine must wait until I'm able to comfortably bear weight on all fours. Things are definitely looking up!

Goals: 150 minutes of spinning, 2 nights of 1 set on the weights. Maybe begin mobility routine.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Rehab Week #2

Wednesday, 2/24

I met with the doctor this afternoon and had the sutures removed and reviewed a bunch of pictures from the operation. The mass of bone and cartilage looked pretty impressive! It was nice to see the shot without it there! At one point, the conversation drifted to the pain I was experiencing before the operation and I learned that knee-cap impingement can cause hamstrings to snag and fire poorly, which are a part of the symptoms I would have when the knee was acting up. So, it all appears to be adding up, I hope.

The best news of the day was I received a green light from the doctor to begin a bit of PT at home. 10 minutes of light spinning on the bike to start, adding 5-10 minutes every 4-5 days as the knee allows. The logic is that moving the joint in a non-weight bearing position promotes healing of the cartilage. He also recommended I take glucosamine for the next few months  because it's a dietary supplement that acts as a building block for cartilage.

So, I spun for 10 minutes at home in a very low gear. The knee took a minute to get used to the motion but soon I was spinning relaxed and smooth. It felt so good to be able to do something.

Thursday, 2/25

10 min spin. Felt considerably better  moving through the range of motion.

Friday, 2/26

10 min spin. The knee wasn't happy today but probably because of a bad step I took at on the stairs at work.

Saturday, 2/27 

I took the day off from activity. Plenty of ice and rest.

Sunday, 2/28

20 min spin. Nice and light spin in a low gear. Iced after.

Week in Review:

  • 50 minutes of spinning.
  • ~8 hours of icing
  • made it through a full work week
  • at almost no pain in the ribs (3 weeks since the breaks)
  • generally uncomfortable walking. Still using a crutch get around
  • a lot of swelling persists in the knee. I'm told this is normal.

Goals for next week:

  • 90 minutes of spinning
  • ~8 hours icing
  • no pain in ribs
  • begin core work
  • begin walking without crutch? we'll see... not rushing this one. 
  • reduce swelling in knee

Monday, February 22, 2016

Week #1: Post Surgery

I'm treating recovery from surgery as a training block of its own. I'll be setting goals and logging progress in any measurable ways I can. I'm not sure what specific goals to set beyond reducing the swelling and growing comfort when walking and that sort of thing at this point. I should know more about the recovery timeline when I meet the doc on Wednesday and have the sutures removed. Then I'll be able to set goals for strength, flexibility and so forth.

My goals for week 1 were really just to get the swelling down. Since Tuesday afternoon, I spent 99% of my time lying down with foot raised or reclining on the couch with my foot raised. I spent hours upon hours icing and measured the passing of days by meals and new doses of anti-inflammatory meds.

So after one full week, the swelling in my knee reduced from looking like a cantaloupe to more of a grapefruit. I couldn't bend the knee in the first couple days but by now I've been able to bend it with gravity's help past 90 degrees. The swelling is far worse when standing and it feels really awkward to walk but I'm able to move around pretty well on crutches.

Last night I got antsy and my brother took me to the grocery store. Walking around leaning on a shopping cart for a few minutes felt like freedom!! But, by the end of the trip I was exhausted and and the swelling in my knee had gotten to the point where I needed to lie down. It was the test I needed to know for sure I'm at. It was also good to get out the house!!

Goals for next week:

1) start walking without crutches
2) limited pain in ribs. Ideally none!
3) get off anti-inflammatories by week's end.
4) begin leg lifts
5) begin yoga/ mobility stuff

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Day Zero

Today is a big day. Today is the first day I get to start building and looking to the future instead of not-so-patiently waiting for the surgeon's call to the operating room. I'll save the gory details of the surgery, aside from saying that the procedure was estimated to take about 40 minutes and it ended up lasting about 2 hours. The doctor found a lot more work to be done once he got inside. As such, my recovery might be a bit more prolonged and uncomfortable than originally estimated. At this point, I don't know when I'll be feeling good enough for PT or cycling or eventually running. But, when that stuff eventually happens, I'll be doing it with a knee that no longer has broken bone fragments and gnarled cartilage.

One interesting thing to note is the doctor is convinced that everything wrong with the knee was caused by a traumatic event, like a blunt force impact which broke part of the knee cap and began damaging the cartilage. Of course I'm guessing, but my gut tells me that I can pin-point the trauma to a night run back in 2010. JVG and I had been running for a town line going downhill on Mill Road in Durham when I slipped on ice fell head first down the hill. The first thing to make contact was my knee. The next day it was ballooned up, turned shades of green and purple, and I didn't run again for the next 9 months.

Back then I didn't have the kind of insurance that easily allowed for things like imaging and my attitude at the time was to just to be patient with injury. Let it rest and it will come around. It had occurred to me that maybe I had done damage like tore a meniscus even though, to this day, I'm not sure what that would even mean or feel like. In 2013 I got an MRI that would eventually show signs of mild arthritis, but the image fidelity wasn't precise enough to show the reality of the damage that was going on inside my knee. It confirmed to me that my meniscus and ligaments were all clear, and so moving forward, every time my knee flared up. I chalked it up to overuse.

This was not overuse, though. The surgery made the knee eternally better because the junk in there messing everything up is gone. The wounded cartilage is smoothed out, and the bone spurring has been eliminated. The future is far brighter than the past because I'll actually have the opportunity to train for more than few weeks without chronic, increasingly painful swelling, etc. Despite the pain I'm in currently as the knee heals, I'm so excited for the future. Today is day zero. The comeback begins!

Friday, February 12, 2016

Recent Moves and Last Post Pre-Surgery

Busy little week here with some highlights.

Saturday, 2/6 - skied at Killington with Alex Hall, Alex (the brother) and my cousin Colin. Despite the man-made snow the conditions were pretty solid and had an awesome day on the slopes. The knee didn't get too cranky. I went down 3 times which is unusual for me. The first time, I managed to nearly impale myself on my own pole. Sharp pain in my side in certain positions but not bad enough to slow me down. Another time I hit a whale going way too fast and over-rotated into a front flip. I was having a little too much fun out there I guess! Ate at Worthy Kitchen on the way home. Lights out by 9:30.

Sunday, 2/7 - got outside for a round of disc golf, hiking through the snow around the Amesbury Pines. Threw pretty well but didn't have the power I normally have. Caught the end of the 5 mile race in Salisbury where Alex took it home in 25:30 or so. Seemed like a really nice day for a race.

Monday, 2/8 - 90 minute hike with Lauren at the Ward reservation in Andover. A few great views of the Boston skyline and caught the best sunset I've seen in a while.

Tuesday, 2/9 - 60 minute bike ride on the trainer. I've got a great set-up on the deck with a blue-tooth speaker so I was jamming to some 90s rock and got into a good gear and cranked. The neighbors looked at me like I was crazy as they pulled into the parking lot, but they'll just have to get used to it. I'm not going anywhere! My right side hurt a bit more than before.

Wednesday, 2/10 - No activity. I met the surgeon for my pre-op appointment. Sounds like a pretty simple operation... 2 or possibly 3 incisions. 40-60 minutes conscious sedation with a spinal tap to numb me from the waste down. 6 weeks no running minimum, It might be up to 3 months no running depending on what the doctor sees. Physical therapy to start 10 days after surgery.

Thursday, 2/11 - No activity. Visited my primary care because the pain in my side was keeping me up overnight. Guessed I had a bruised rib or contused my liver or something. The X-ray came back and I had 2 broken ribs (10 and 11).  Whoops... They should take about 6 weeks to heal. Considering how I'm out of running for at least another 6 weeks with the surgery, the breaks aren't that concerning to me. They should heal up just fine.

Friday, 2/12 - No activity for the next few weeks with the ribs restricting anything aerobic and core related. I'm turning 30 this year, so maybe following the surgery I'll learn how to slow down a little bit and stop hurting myself!! I'm knocking a lot of things off the bucket list this week; first broken bones (outside of stress fracture), first surgery, first February without racing since middle school, etc.

I'll probably take a step back from the blog until I have some news about how PT is progressing or if the surgery presents any new info. Thanks for following along! Good luck to everyone preparing for the GP races this March! Stay healthy, my friends!

Tuesday, February 9, 2016


Confirmed to go under the knife early next week. Pre-op tomorrow to go over the finer details. Thankful this can be done over a school break so I don't have to miss any time with my classes.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Surgery is a go. There's a bone and cartilage "nugget" lodged between my femor and patella causing the pain and inflammation I've been struggling with for the past year. It's causing further damage and could possibly become dislodged and move to the main knee joint which would immediately cause the joint to lock up. I'm excited to finally have a definitive direction. Scope date TBD. 

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

The latest

MRI results posted in my healthcare portal and although I can barely decipher the technical jargon, it sounds like there's evidence of loose floating cartilage or scar tissue behind the patella. The report also said something about "mild subchondral patellar bone marrow edema" which a quick google search suggests to me that I have fluid or swelling in the patella itself. Sketchy!

In other news, I ran for 55 minutes on trails between the Ward and Harold Parker systems on Sunday and felt great. Beautiful "Spring" day in January.

And on Monday I ran a short loop starting from Andover center up past Phillips Andover along some quiet roads by headlamp. Smooth easy running.

My attitude about training at this point is that I'm not training, but to stop running cold turkey is an unbearable concept. I should learn more about the next steps tomorrow when I see the doctor again.

Over and out!

Tuesday, January 5, 2016


I had a nice little cortisone shot to the proximal fib-tib joint yesterday afternoon. It wasn't as painful as rumored but the lidocaine burned a bit like a bee sting. Afterward I stood up and have to admit the knee felt quite a bit better immediately. Then, like 45 minutes later, the lidocaine had worn off and the knee felt mostly the same. I'm supposed to see the cortisone take effect over the next week to 10 days. We'll see what happens!

Cranked some core in the evening; 43 chin-ups, 9 minutes of planks, a bunch of ab variations, and 80 push-ups. I'll wait a couple days before I try running or biking to allow the cortisone to do its thing..

Wishing everyone a great 2016! Onward!