Friday, October 31, 2014

How Far I've Come in Fifteen Weeks

A look at how far I've come since my triathlon accident ended my 2014 race season and put my quest for the 2015 Boston Marathon in jeopardy. 

By the numbers.

7-19-14: Triathlon Accident
4: Broken Ribs
3: completely fractured ribs
1: Collapsed Lung
1: Separated shoulder & torn Labrum
11: Days in the Hospital
2: Days I thought I would be in the hospital
50%: Blood oxygen level Sun. Night in the hospital
80%: Blood oxygen level considered dangerous.
3: Days in ICU
6: Pain Killer refills
1.5: Average number of hours of sleep WITH painkillers in the first month home.
54: Days without a run outdoors from the date of my accident
2009: Last time I took more than 54 days off from running.
30: Days I thought it would take to resume training.
10-29-14: 4 Mile Run.
9:00: Minute per mile pace
7:30: 1/2 mile interval pace inserted mile 3-3.5. An ambitious marathon goal pace considering I have no lungs at the moment.
20: mins. of Strength Work
170: Days until I run the 2015 Boston Marathon.
0: Regrets (other than taking a different angle on that downhill corner in my last triathlon.)

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

I Outran A Security Guard

Things are picking up for me. This week I outran a security guard. I'm no longer limited to out-walking the walkers in my neighborhood.

Overall, this was a fantastic week. On the work front, I headed to Kansas City for meetings. Most of my work trips are booked last minute and this was no different other than the fact that I couldn't figure out why I couldn't get flights in and out of KC which is normally pretty easy. Oh yes...a little thing called the World Series was going on. This meant an extra night in the land of barbeque, but I decided to take advantage of it.

My brother passed away this last July and his wife was still obviously grieving over the loss of her husband. She also wanted to attend the Shawnee chapter of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) as he was a happy and recovered alcoholic when he died. Linda wanted to bring a pie, but wasn't sure if she had the emotional strength to see his friends. I enjoyed a lovely dinner with her and the following meeting nearby.

There were some gut-wrenching stories including the man who spoke of drinking binges when ended with him literally in his closet while his young kids were in the other room. Heartbreaking and inspirational. Equally rewarding was the conversation over dinner with me as usual trying to insert some laughter to take tension out of the situation.

After a fantastic customer meeting, I had an extra day to work out of the hotel room. After a productive morning of calls, I decided to use my lunch hour to take in nearby Kauffman Stadium where the Kansas City Royals won game two the night before. The skies were overcast and the temperatures were cool. I thought this was perfect for trying my second outdoor run since my accident in July. I was in my second week of physical therapy on my separated shoulder which was building up strength, but also increasing the pain in the area. A little sore, but I didn't want to turn down the opportunity to run around the area--as they say, when in Rome...or when in Kansas City.

Aside from my passion for running, I am more than a bit of a sports nut so checking out the Royals' ballpark adjacent to Kansas City's Arrowhead Stadium was a hoot as I'd never seen either park. With both stadiums in adjoining parking lots, it laid out a perfect non-traditional run route for a short run. I wound up running a mere three miles and ran it much faster than my ribs probably wanted me to running my first sub-eight minute miles since July. Perhaps Royals adrenaline, cool Fall weather temps with accompanying grey skies and gold and crimson leaves dotting the isolated roads around the stadiums.

There were plenty of breaks for selfies and snapshots of the area. I posted to Instagram my #InTheMoment pic. Ironically, on the heels of my Matthew McConaughey MKC commercial, Runner's World Magazine PR sent me a blogger promo for #InTheMoment. Post how you live in the moment and you can win a trip to New York City, San Francisco, or Chicago.
Moments before the security guard chased me off

After my #InTheMoment selfie, I circled Arrowhead and spotted the Chiefs practice facility in the distance with a couple camera guys in the tower. Figuring they were practicing, I veered off that direction with nothing but a empty beer can and several hundred empty parking spots between us. As I approached, I saw a man get out of his car parked overlooking the practice going on. As I got closer, he looked like a Chiefs employee and he was looking my way. As I got even closer, I realized he was a security guard so I pulled out my headphones. His body language indicated he didn't like where I was headed especially with the Chiefs playing the the Rams on KC on Sunday. The conversation was brief, "you can't be here," he said. "I'm just a tourist," I said. It reminded me of the same time I got shooshed out of the Stanford Campus track field during practice. I ran fifteen feet away, stopped to snap just another selfie, just has he said, "you can't..." and I took off. "Try and catch me" I thought.

A great few days on the road and on the road to recovery.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Beauty and The Beast: Nike Gyakusou and Tracksmith Review

Winning the recent Chocolate Milk, Men's Health and Runner's World Magazine Recovery contest, I've had a $500 gift card for Nike burning a hole in my pocket. Considering I haven't been running due to injury, I haven't been in a huge rush to spend the money, but have been building a "Wish List" with the Nike
account I created. I have to be honest with you, I keep expecting to be dazzled by Nike, but I continue to be disappointed. The word "Fugly" comes to mind. That could be the other reason I haven't spent the five "Benjamin's." I keep wanting to convince myself that Nike with all their Beaverton connections and history with the first waffle iron running shoes has got products I'd be dying to spend my new good fortune on, but as McKayla would say, "not impressed." Don't get me wrong...there is some cool stuff to be found, but I don't know who's on the design team, but it's overpriced and in some cases, downright ugly.

I once again got my hopes up this morning when I saw that they had a new line, "Gyakusou" coming out. WOW! Cool name, but it also rhymes with "vomit suit."

Perhaps Mike Parker (Nike CEO) is overthinking it, his Fast Company "Most Creative CEO" moniker went to his head, or it's tough living in the shadows of Phil Knight. The Gyakusou running shorts sell for $130 and resemble a Hefty garbage
bag. The symbolism is stark. Like many of their products, they're extremely over-priced and in my humble opinion are downright ugly.

Keep clicking and keep looking and it doesn't get any better. the Gyakusou Four-Way Stretch Hoodie is an equal disaster. I can overlook that perhaps it's not meant for my demographic, but not sure the twenty something metrosexual will find this worth spending money on either. It looks like an Oompa Loompa men's speed-skating suit. No wonder the model to the right looks bored. No one will run with him. Not the look I was going for, and being "on the shelf" for three months due to injury, the skin-tight fit won't be flattering. I won't be spending my Nike dollars on Gyakusou.

Across the country, there's a small company called Tracksmith that is so hot that many of their products are sold out, and my subtle overtures to getting some swag to review or "do you have an ambassador program" are overlooked because they're too busy cranking out really cool retro running gear for men. Like Kara Goucher, my innocuous requests to bond over the social ecosphere have gone unanswered, but that's okay. With this weekend's football bet winnings (I don't condone betting, but I have to do something when everyone else is racing marathons) I have the Tracksmith "BQ Singlet" in my shopping cart. To purchase the BQ singlet, your name has to be on the 2015 Boston Marathon registered runner list. They have a similar one for the New York City Marathon.

Yes, a bit pretentious, but marketing brilliance. They earned my coin.  Equally expensive (their longboard shorts are $90 and the race shorts are $60) but if Mick Jagger ran marathons in the 60's, he would have worn this stuff instead of the garbage bags from Nike.

Yes, I just committed blog suicide by dissing Nike, but unlike Asics, they follow me on twitter and engage in conversations with mere mortal runners like you and me.

Like trying to get into a cool nightclub, I have to wait, after checking out, the just announced BQ Singlet is on backorder. Without speed work or warm weather right now, it's worth the wait.

"Twas beauty that killed the beast."

Thursday, October 16, 2014


I was going through my briefcase today in my office looking for something. As a traveling sales guy my briefcase is a bit of a black hole with a collection of everything; aspirin, phone cables, even emergency sewing kit--you never know when you are going to "pop a button" an hour before a big presentation. I pulled out a tube of something that looked out of place. 
"Mystery" balm I discovered

It resembled something you would find in a woman's purse...some kind of lip balm with the words "lavender," "in your dreams" and "MIKA" in bold letters as the product name. I had no idea what it was or how it got there. I ask my wife who was sitting nearby if it was hers or knew what it was. It seemed like a cliché...a man asking his wife what a mysterious woman's item was doing there admitting innocence over an innocuous item. She informed me the "other woman" was my sister. 

My sister Kim is a nurse and spent many evenings visiting me the second half of July as I sat in my hospital bed writhing in pain. Daytime was rough enough but evenings in the hospital were more like a nightmare. Kim offered MIKA as stress relief and something that might calm me before I attempted a couple hours of narcotics-induced sleep. A gift of love and kindness. A smile came to my lips when I remembered getting the balm then and why I had it in my briefcase. It made me once again reflective of all the love and support I've received since my accident.
Day 1 of PT at Steadman Hawkins

It seemed to be a fitting symbol that got me to where I'm at in my recovery. I made great strides in the last week with my MRI diagnosis of a torn labrum, separated shoulder,  and "sick scapula." The later is not cool skateboarder lingo, but a term for "really jacked up" shoulder blade floating without the expected muscle structure and range of motion without pain. I have begun physical therapy at the world famous Steadman Hawkins clinic (hey...if it's good enough for Missy Franklin and John Elway, it's good
My first run since July
enough for me) to strengthen that area and felt strong enough to throw a mile and a half of running into my long walk on Saturday. I took it a step further and ran a full three miles yesterday. Yes, I RAN! Significant in that this was my first running since the middle of July. I ran the three miles at around a 9:40 pace and the lungs, ribs, and shoulder seemed okay. Far from my 5K PR pace of a 6:13 mile, but I was happy that my lungs could manage three miles a mere three months after my right lung collapsed. Yes, last night and today I was quite sore combining the running with the twice-a-day shoulder exercises. I'm certainly not ready for 5-6 days a week knocking out 50+ miles, but I'm thrilled to label myself a "runner" again versus a walker (not that there's anything wrong with walking.)

I will continue to take it slow in "ramping" this up and "listen to my body." Yes, it's stressful to not be where I was at in early July hitting the podium in my last run race over the 4th of July. Yes, it's stressful to watch the fall marathon results come in as I'm envious that I'm not out there. Stress? It's okay...I have MIKA.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Oh, And Another Thing

Two days away from twelve weeks from my accident (original race post HERE) and something is still not quite right. While I've had a couple breakthrough days over the last two weeks, I've had an equal number of bad days. Not mentally bad days as there has been plenty of those grappling with the fact that I'm a runner who can't run during "marathon season." No...there have more than a few days where the pain crept in earlier than normal in the day which affects everyone close to me. Daddy isn't very fun when he's in pain.

Knowing something was not quite right primarily with my right shoulder, I set an appointment with an ortho that lead to an MRI last Friday. What was "not quite right" you ask...aside from the pain, my right scapula (shoulder blade) was more than a bit "wonky" as it floated around without the expected muscle structure I've got on my left side. Where my right collar bone meets the sternum, there's an "abby normal" bump (name the movie reference and win a Seeking Boston sticker) which was freaking my shiz out. Add that to the fact that I still need more than children's chewable aspirin at night to sleep lead to the recent trips to the good doctor.

My ortho of choice was Dr. Genuario from Steadman Hawkins in Denver--yes, that Steadman Hawkins. Their lobby is like a Asics commercial with a who's who of athletes seeking miracle surgery and treatment to get back to the sports they love and get paid the big bucks for. Me? I've got that whopping $3 a month I make on my blog and my readers are getting tired of my human interest stories that have nothing to do with running. In other words, I gotta "get back on that horse."

I also want to get off the pain meds. I'm at peace (no pun intended) with the pain meds as I've talked to plenty of people who have dealt with chronic pain and the bottom line is you can't walk (or limp) through life with a grimace on your face due to pain. Yes, addiction is a real issue or challenge to consider, but I also have to function in life (at home, at work) with some sense of normalcy.

It's not a surprise that I've got pain in my shoulder as I "body slammed" the asphalt going 25+ miles per hour in my race which resulted in four broken ribs and a collapsed lung. The more I hear about my pneumothorax, the more I realize the "bullet" I dodged--especially considering "dumb ass" (me) hopped on the bike and rode another 20 minutes trying to finish. I then waited at least that long for a medic, then another 15-20 for the ambulance. The math there is not good.

At this point, you're what was the MRI result?!? Not a surprise they found something, but a bit of a surprise that Memorial Hospital where I spent eleven days did not. I only told them from the very start that all my pain shot out the back of my right shoulder blade like an exit wound from a dull crossbow arrow. Dr. G explained that I have a separated shoulder and a torn labrum. #ouchiemama

The good news in all that?

1) I'm not as big of a giant baby that I thought I was complaining about all that shoulder pain.
2) No surgery! Physical therapy starts when I get back in town after two trips (one for work and the other a college visit with my son.) Next Monday.
3) Genuario said I could start running when I feel up to it. I wanted to know what was going on with my shoulder and be off pain meds before I started running. I'm close.
4) Like the others in the lobby of Steadman Hawkins, I should be able to return to form and the sports I love; running and triathlons. The only thing I worry about there is getting that right lung back.
5) The ribs. They broke. They take time, but now it seems they're ahead of the shoulder.

I only wish my hospital doc had said, "well, you've got four broken ribs, a collapsed lung, and oh, and another separated your shoulder and tore your really did it up right!" He left out that last part. I doubt I've lost much time with recovery since I likely couldn't have started much intense therapy anyway as I needed to be somewhat sedentary to heal those ribs.

No pain no gain...or more like a lotta pain and a little bit of gain. I have two months to get my ribs, shoulder, and lungs to a place where I can start my typical sixteen week training plan for a little race called the Boston Marathon.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Meme Monday: Matthew McConaughey Goes Long

I had toyed with the idea of a Lincoln commercial spoof, but Ellen DeGeneres beat me to it. "Larry the Foul-Mouthed Unicorn" jumped into the fun. Have a great week and congrats to all those that raced this last weekend. Lot's of marathon results! How did you do?

Thursday, October 2, 2014

#tbt Voicemail Time Capsules

I know I've posted a lot lately about non-running activities, but this layoff has allowed me extra time with the family and sometimes accidents have a way of making you a bit reflective. Whether or not you are a parent, these two clips are absolutely priceless to me, and hope you will enjoy them as well. For those that are parents, save will love listening to them ten years later. The two below are from my kids; my son is now a senior in high school and my daughter is a sophomore in college. The first is a voicemail from my son who had his football cards destroyed in the wash.

And one from my daughter worried about dad being on a plane in a blizzard.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

It Pays to Blog and Know Your Recovery

First off, I have to apologize. I'm not much to look at on video and realized halfway through production, I had some "crazy hair" happening. I will fire the stylist tomorrow. This week's video blog is not so much an update on my injury recovery, but I got my 2nd place prize in the #chocolatemilkcontest sponsored by Rodale, Runner's World Magazine, Men's Health Magazine, Bicycling Magazine and Got Chocolate Milk.

I wrote about how I recover after a training session or race (HERE) and was thrilled to get 2nd place. Thanks so much to all my mom's friends who voted every day along with everyone else.

Also..congrats to my running and blogging buddy Dani from Weight Off My Shoulders for coming in Third. I told her the only reason she came in third was that I had a huge head start!

About Me

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Average guy w/ an above average appetite for marathon racing and triathlons. Ran my 5th Boston in '15. 3:21, 1:29, 19:21 PR;full/half/5K Opinions & wit are mine