Thursday, January 31, 2008

Achilles Is Back?

North St Paul Community Center indoor track, 67.5 laps, five miles in 43:34, average pace 8:43. I’ve been trying to build mileage carefully to get past a problem with an Achilles tendon. Unfortunately, though, I did feel the tendon today a few laps from the end of the run. I started out shooting for a pace of 9:00, but my legs wanted to go a bit faster today, so I gave up and let my legs set the pace. In the last mile I pushed just a little harder, and probably shouldn’t have.

It’s not bad though - the pain is entirely gone already. I’ll try five miles again on Saturday, and be ready to quit early if necessary. I had dreams of 20 miles next week, but maybe not, we’ll see. Meanwhile I’m using cold and heat as I write this, and don’t exactly know what to do about the Strassburg sock “night splint.” In theory, that should stretch the Achilles and hopefully avoid injury caused by tension in the Achilles. But I’ve been using the Strassburg Sock almost every day for months now, to avoid another round of plantar fasciitis in that same foot, and I’m not sure that the Achilles is failing in tension. It might be failing in compression, because when it hurts, I notice more pain going DOWN stairs than up. Furthermore, it might be easier for the tendon to heal WITHOUT tension applied. Perhaps I’ll skip the Strassburg for a few weeks and see if it seems to make a difference one way or another.

Only 12 miles this week and only 101 for the month. Splits: 8:58, 8:44, 8:40, 8:42, 8:29.

Post-run breakfast: Organic oatmeal, organic fat-free milk, kiwi, organic medjool dates, organic walnuts,m organic blueberries, Don's nut/fruit/berry mix, banana, Hershey extra-dark chocolate. Yummm.

Salad: Organic romaine, organic medjool dates, stuffed olives, organic pecans, organic blue-corn chips, Sunshine's homemade guacamole, dried organic strawberries, raspberry vinegar.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Comfort Zone Heater Warning

Occasionally this blog deviates from the subject of running.

We recently did a calculation which showed that the cost of resistive electric heat was LESS than the cost of oil heat, the tipping point being about $2.50 per gallon of oil. So we bought an electric space heater for the TV room.

It's the Comfort Zone Model CZ40 two-speed 1500-watt fan heater with thermostat, made by Howard Berger Co., Inc., date code 0707CX, bought at a local Menards. We ran it on the porch for a while to burn off the "new" smell, and then put it to work, turned up high, for two or three hours last night.

This morning when we turned it on the "new" smell appeared once more. On closer examination, the heater was MELTING! The fan was running. The arrows in the picture show where the plastic is distorted from the heat. Click to enlarge.

Comfort Zone Model CZ40

When I touched the plastic at a distorted spot, it felt very soft but not very hot. I'm not a plastics engineer, but it's my opinion that the plastic has a melting point far too low for a 1500-watt heater. We had the heater on the floor, a foot in front of the TV furniture and four feet from any other obstructions; there was NO interference with air flow; we know better.

It's made in China, of course. It makes me wonder if the Chinese substituted a different plastic after Howard Berger's representatives left their plant. In any case, I sure won't be buying any more Howard Berger products.

Our unit is dangerous - DO NOT BUY THE COMFORT ZONE MODEL CZ40! If you have one, please check right away for softness in the plastic when turned up high.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Four Pain-Free Miles

North St Paul Community Center indoor track. I forgot my watch, which makes it difficult to count laps, so I ran 36 minutes at a pace that surely moved me at least four miles, probably about 4.2. Most important: No pain at all in the Achilles. On track for a five-mile run Thursday. That’s only a 12-mile week, but easy does it, next week will be better.

Monday's breakfast
Monday's breakfast: Organic oatmeal, organic fat-free milk, banana, organic giant blueberries, organic walnuts, Don's nut/fruit/berry mix, Hershey's extra dark chocolate. As good as it looks!

Saturday's salad
Saturday's salad: Organic salad greens, cucumber, avocado, organic braeburn apple, roasted organic cashews, organic medjool dates, blue cheese, raspberry vinegar.

Saturday's dinner
Saturday's dinner: Wild-caught Alaskan salmon, seasoned, organic pickle relish, organic lemon, organic green peas. Not shown: One gluten-free beer. There are actually at least three good brands available here now.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Hamstring fix?

First the good news:

Three easy miles in 27:01 at the North St Paul Community Center this noon. Trying to get past a sore Achilles, which has been acting up at about the three-mile mark, there was no pain at all so I stopped there. Splits 9:02, 8:59, 9:00. I’ll wait two days and then run four miles, then two more days and run five, you get the picture. I’m hoping that will get me past the problem. Meantime lots of easy stretching and some alternating ice and heat. But it’s so HARD to be good - I just want to go out and RUN! Sunshine says I’m hard to live with in times like these.

Second, more good news:

I may have figured out a way to stop a recurring hamstring problem. One source calls it the “Standing Leg Curl.” After completing a run, I stand with my hands holding onto something for balance, lift one foot up and back keeping the thigh pointing toward the floor, bending the knee back as far as I can, then back down again. I do this fifty times for each foot.
Standing Leg Curl
If I do this regularly, after every run, my hamstring problems seem to go away. If I forget for a while, then I start to feel pain in the hamstring again. I believe that a physical trainer would say that the foot should be weighted (there are ankle weights for this) and that the curls should be slow with a pause at the top, but I do them quickly without weights and do seem to get a considerable benefit anyway. I incorporate these curls right into the post-run stretches. For me and my particular injury, it works.

For what it’s worth.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Achilles Tendon Still Hurts

Wednesday, Jan 23:

North St Paul Community Center indoor track, three miles in 26:19. As on Monday, I intended to run long and was prepared with water and gels, but the Achilles heel started to hurt again so I stopped at three miles. Nuts. I’ll try some stretches, exercises, cold and heat to try to heal it, and will wait more than two days again before running. Splits 8:52, 8:37, 8:51.

Yesterday we went to the Community Center too. I did the elliptical for a while, then upper-body resistance training. But no running.

Monday, Jan 21:

Stillwater Bubble today, I hoped to run 12 miles but didn’t want to reinjure the Achilles tendon, which I may have annoyed a bit yesterday with those short, intense races, even if it didn’t hurt. I started to feel it after three miles, so I just quit. Next try will be Wednesday, with 16 miles on the schedule. Again, I’ll stop as soon as it hurts or at 16 miles, whichever comes first.

After the run today I tried my naturopath’s suggestion of alternating cold and heat on the Achilles tendon. I believe in the heat more than the cold, because we all know that extremeties need warmth to heal. Nevertheless, virtually all sources suggest alternate cold and heat, and this naturopath is the first person to convince me to get serious and try it. We’ll see. I’ll try it again tonight.

Recent salad: Organic salad greens, avocado, Maytag blue cheese, organic blue corn chips, roasted pistachios, raspberry vinegar. Oh yeah!

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Whooee - Life Is Good

Don starting the second lap of the 400mToday we three went to Bethel University again for another set of indoor-track races. I had not run since Wednesday, because of the Achilles tendon problem, and was not at all sure that I could race today. But after a mile and a half of warmup the Achilles tendon was still silent, so I registered for the 200, 400, and 800 meter races again.

Times are up now:

Race      Dec 16      Jan 01     Today
200m 35.3 34.634.5
400m1:19.21:19.4 1:16.4
800m 3:01.3 2:56.42:50.6
Walk   12:27.0

So I improved my best 400m by about three seconds and my best 800 by about six seconds. Cool! Today is already a masterpiece.

Gosh I love that kind of racing. The pain is over so quickly! :-) And, in fact, for the 200m and 400m there just isn't enough time for deep muscle exhaustion to really set in. The 200m is best of all, because it's basically flat out for the whole distance. Conserve NOTHING, leave it ALL on the track! And I know that I can do better at that distance, because the 200m race was my first today and I was pretty careful at the start.

Next: Build up carefully to the long runs again, build mileage judiciously, stopping at the first hint of that Achilles pain.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Ouch: Achilles

New problem: Achilles tendon. Wednesday, Jan 16, I ran for three hours in the Stillwater Bubble, occasionally checking my pace for a lap to be sure that it was still at 9:00 or faster. So I’m sure that I ran at least 20 miles, the first of many scheduled long runs in preparing for the Cincinnati Flying Pig Marathon. In the last couple of miles, however, I felt a cramp in my left calf, or thought I did. Then in the very last two laps I could tell that it was not the calf but the Achilles tendon just below the calf muscle. I finished carefully, but perhaps should have skipped those last two laps.

It seems to me that the Achilles tendon needs to be treated with a great deal of respect. A person with a high tolerance for pain can go ahead and run on a foot with plantar fasciitis without much fear of making it a lot worse, and some people even run with knee pain without fear of an immediate end to their running. However, the Achilles tendon can actually rupture, causing a very serious problem which will make running impossible and even interfere with normal life. I don’t want to mess with it. I tried to run again today (Friday) and it still hurt a little. Not good. If it still hurts next Monday I’ll try to get into see my internist about it. Meanwhile I have a race this weekend, but may decide to sit it out because it’s a short, intense race that would put maximum pressure on the Achilles.

Recent breakfast: Organic oatmeal, organic fat-free milk, banana, Don's nut/fruit/berry mix, organic medjool dates, blueberries, organic walnuts.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Cough Cough

Monday, Jan 14:

Meet of the Miles at the University of Minnesota Field House. This is the first MDRA Grand Prix event of 2008, just one indoor-track mile. I was hoping for a finish around 6:00, but expecting to run more like 6:15, and actually ran 6:18 I think (results are not up yet). Results will be here. That would make me second of four in my age group, I think, but it also says I have some work to do to get back to the 6:00 one-mile pace that I have sometimes run in the past.

I think I made a mistake in this race. Immediately after the start there were two or three runners ahead of me, and I settled in behind one who seemed to be going about the right speed. At the first lap (of eight) the clock said 0:45, which was my target pace per lap. At the second, it said 1:30, still on target. It seemed to me that we kept up the pace, but actually we dropped back in each of the next three laps. Finally I passed the runner I was following, but of course in such an intense race it’s not possible to gain back much time. I might have done better if I had passed that runner right away when we started to lose time, and just run my own race.

The "Cough Cough" headline refers to the low humidity in the Field House, which severely dries a runner’s throat in the short time of the one-mile race. Race organizers bring cough drops, for which the runners are grateful, but even so the cough lasts for hours after the race is over. Oddly, this same thing does not happen at the Bethel University indoor track.

P.S. Hey the results are in, and I actually ran 6:12.5, a little better than I thought. :-)

Yesterday's breakfast: Organic oatmeal, organic fat-free milk, clementine, macadamia nuts, banana, organic pecans, Don's nut/fruit/berry mix.

Yesterday's lunch: Organic salad greens, cucumber, clementine, organic black beans marinated in apple cider vinegar, Maytag blue cheese, avocado, blueberries, Brazil nuts. One of my best salads ever. Sunshine prepares the major ingredients, bless her heart, and I put them in the bowl and add whatever else strikes my fancy at that meal.

Recent dinner: Organic chicken liberally peppered, organic sweet potato with organic salsa, leftover vegetable dish, organic pomegranite juice. I had seconds.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Three Dinners

Saturday, January 12:

So this was an experiment to see how closely I could stick to a pace of 9:00 minutes/mile. Not for any particular reason - just for fun. Running indoors at the N St Paul Community Center because of my cold, I needed a nice easy five miles like I would have done with my Saturday morning St Croix Valley runners. Splits: 9:00, 8:59, 8:59, 8:59, 9:01. Total 44:58, pace 9:00. The secret to holding the pace this close is that there are 13.5 laps for every mile, and every full lap is a checkpoint on the watch.

Again the cold seems a little better today. Continuing the same traditional remedies. Sweet Pea says I smell like a cough drop, but I think more like wintergreen lifesavers. Personally I like it, and it’s almost nice to have an excuse to smell like that. But the others in my house may be glad when my cold is gone. Except maybe kitty, who really doesn’t seem to notice. She's long since given up trying to figure out humans anyway.

Three recent dinners:
Friday dinner
Friday dinner: Super-hearty chicken soup by Sunshine, with an organic chicken and scads of mostly-organic veggies. The generously-applied pepper helps make it work against a cold, and a glass of organic pomegranite juice helps too.

Saturday dinner
Saturday dinner: Wild-caught Alaskan salmon with organic shallots and organic lemon juice, organic chard with onions, cranberries, and pistachios, organic dates, organic green peas, clementine. One of my favorite meals of all time, I went back for seconds and thirds. Gosh that was good! And to think that not so long ago I didn't really even LIKE salmon!

Tonight's dinner
Sunday dinner: Two different kinds of squash with seasoning, kiwi, gluten-free almond-raisin bread slathered with organic peanut butter, organic broccoli.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Fun Run

Thursday, January 10:

Still working on that cold, so the three of us went to the North St Paul Community center again to run indoors. Only two miles, and I intended to take it easy, but the first mile went well and, with a one-mile race coming up soon I decided to speed up the second. Splits 8:17 and 7:16. That second mile is about a minute slower than I’d like to do in the mile race. We’ll see. It’s hard to run full speed on the Community Center track because of all the short corners, but the indoor track for that race has turns too.

My cold is not really very bad, and even seems a little better today. I’m using very traditional treatments: Chicken soup, liniment on my chest (smells good too), extra vitamin C, extra sleep, staying out of the cold. Fingers crossed, I haven't had a really bad cold in years, maybe because of this treatment. I hope this one goes away without getting worse.

Yummy lunch
Recent Lunch: Sunshine's gluten-free nutty teff bread with asiago cheese, organic vegetable medley with shredded parmesan, baked sweet potatoes.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Feelin' Good Runs

Wednesday, January 9:

Fighting off a cold and wanting to be indoors, I took my two sweeties to the Stillwater Bubble (Recreation Center) this morning. I ran for 90 minutes and didn’t try to count the laps, because I sometimes ran opposite the normal direction, which meant that I had to use a smaller loop to avoid running into people. That was actually sort of freeing - not measuring my pace exactly. I did time one lap toward the end, and the pace was right at 9:00. That means I ran about ten miles, the goal on my training schedule.

The track in the Bubble is make-believe grass, designed for playing soccer I suppose. It’s VERY nice and soft to run on, and presumably to fall on, but I don’t think that it gives back all of the energy that it takes from a runner. A bit like running on grass?

The cold is no worse and no better today. Not that bad, actually. Doin’ chicken soup, vitamin C, and extra sleep, hoping for a quick recovery. I do feel better after the run than before.

Tuesday, January 8:

Catching a cold, I wanted to do today’s run indoors and at a modest pace. North St Paul Community Center indoor track 3 miles in 25:12, pace 8:24. Plenty good enough.

I tried my brand-new pair of Brooks Burn shoes, my 16th pair. They were fine. At the last marathon expo I went to (Grand Rapids), the Brooks representative told me that they would soon discontinue the Burn. Darn - they work well for me. They’re a relatively inexpensive, lightweight cushioned shoe, and apparently that’s all I need - I’ve run all 27 marathons in them. He said that they would be replaced with shoes incorporating newer technology - here’s hoping that the new ones work as well.

As always, I felt better after the run than before.

Three breakfasts - there's a pattern here. Not shown: two eggs pan fried in mostly macadamia oil.

Monday breakfast: Organic oatmeal, organic fat-free milk, blueberries, Don's nut/berry/fruit mix, pistachios, banana, Dove dark chocolate, naval orange.

Tuesday breakfast: Organic oatmeal, organic fat-free milk, blueberries, banana, Don's nut/fruit/berry mix, clementine, organic walnuts.

Today's breakfast: Organic oatmeal, organic fat-free milk, blueberries, banana, Don's nut/fruit/berry mix, clementine, Dove dark chocolate.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Cool Run Postscript

Sunday I was a little chilled on a 17-mile run. Monday afternoon I started getting a chest cold. Go figger.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Cool Run

Sunday, Jan 6, 2008:

I was a little chilly on today’s run, considered calling Sunshine for help, but never quite got cold enough to do that and finished OK. 16.8 miles in 2:36:13, for a pace of 9:18. Since this was the first of many upcoming long runs, and very hilly, I took my time and walked a little on the uphills. I actually thought I was going a little faster, but the pace is fine with me. Long, slow distance. I felt strong in the last couple of miles too.

Wore the Nike Milers for traction and resistance to road splash, took water after every 15-20 minutes or so, took a gel or jelly beans every second time. Forty degrees, or perhaps a bit less, I wore shorts with no leggings and two LS shirts on top. Should have made the outer one a wind-resistant type. Nevertheless, all in all a very enjoyable run.

Saturday, Jan 5, 2008:

St Croix Valley Runner, five miles in 43:50, pace 8:46. My legs felt heavy today, so this was good enough. Nice run with Dave and Roy. Tom, Art, & New Dave finished well ahead, and Gauss & Wayne not far behind. 20 degrees and calm - nice. Nike Miler shoes for traction.

Today's breakfast
Today's breakfast: Organic oatmeal, organic milk, banana, blueberries, organic walnuts, Don's fruit/berry/nut mix, Hershey's dark chocolate, clementine.

Yesterday's lunch
Yesterday's salad: Organic salad greens, cucumbers, avocado with lime juice, jicama, papaya, Maytag blue cheese, raspberry vinegar, naval orange.

Last night's dinner
Last night's dinner: Organic sweet potatoes with onions and organic beans, organic salsa, organic squash, kiwi, naval orange.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Comforting Run

North St Paul Community Center overhead track, 12 miles in 1:42:15, average pace 8:31. I was feeling a little morose because of recent myeloma test results (poor baby) and really didn’t want to do this run, but Sweetpea and Sunshine were encouraging and off we went. Twelve miles later I felt quite a lot better, especially after the speedier last mile. The community center was busy, always people on the track, all going different speeds, even one runner who was going faster than I was for a while. Normally I’m passing almost everyone, walkers and runners. I liked all that activity, even though it involved a little zig-zagging around people.

Splits: 8:44, 8:31, 8:44, 8:31, 8:45, 8:25, 8:39, 8:25, 8:46, 8:31, 8:31, 7:43. Water after miles 2, 4, 6, & 8; I usually walk a half lap when taking water. Natural pace around 8:25 to 8:30, breathing four footfalls per full breath until the last mile, then three footfalls.

Recent dinner
Recent salmon dinner: Fresh-caught Alaskan salmon (canned) with yogurt and spices, naval orange, organic chard with cranberries and pistachios.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

First Race

Of 2008. Indoor track is fun! I enjoyed this “meet” as much as I did the previous one on December 16. Again I ran the 200m, 400m, and 800m races, plus the one-mile racewalk this time, skipping only the one-mile run. This was the Challenge Resolutions races at Bethel College, the third of a series of five events. Times are not up as I write, but I think my times are:

Race Dec 16 Today
200m 35.3 34.5
800m 3:01.3 2:56.5
Walk   12:27.0
I probably should have been disqualified in the race walk, because (I’m told) my knees bent sometimes as my foot hit the ground. Rules: (1) Always have one foot on the ground, and (2) Knees must be straight from the time that the foot hits the ground until the time that it is supporting the body’s weight. This requires a rewiring of some 66-year-old brain circuitry, which I was unable to fully accomplish in my first racewalk, but fortunately a walker in these races is not DQ’d unless three out of three judges say so, and one of the judges was particularly kind. Nonetheless they ALL thought that practice might benefit me :-)

My time for the 200m and 800m are significantly better than on the 16th, so now I consider them to be PRs. And I can do better, especially in the 400m. Next time I’d like to take another second off the 200m, at least three off the 400m, and a few more off the 800m.

Last time I started the 200m and 400m from a standing position, but this time I started from a set position, crouched with hands on the ground. I think it helped. Unfortunately, I practiced this start a few times before the race and somehow pulled my left hamstring a little, so for the actual start I had to switch feet. Training might have helped! But happily the hamstring did not bother during any of the runs, only the last practice start, and I’m not feeling it now as I write. I think it will heal quickly.

Tomorrow morning I get the results of the latest round of myeloma blood tests, possibly the most important set of tests since my diagnosis. Fingers crossed, toes too, ears if I could. Prayers are invited.

Happy New Year everyone!

Pre-race breakfast
Today's pre-race breakfast: Organic oatmeal, organic fat-free milk, blueberries, Don's fruit/berry/nut mix, banana, Hershey dark chocolate.

Last night's salad (before partying)
Last night's salad: Organic salad greens, cucumber, avocado, spicy nuts (Christmas present by a nice niece), pitted organic dates, Danish blue cheese, raspberry vinegar.