Lake Michigan at Sunrise

Lake Michigan at Sunrise

Friday, December 27, 2013

Run, Robot Run - 2013 You Beautiful Mechanized System of Chaos

(Sadly the song goes Rock, Robot Rock, but I pretend they say run)

I've been tossing around ideas for a year end post. Do I go the easy route and just do a recap of events and photos? I wasn't thrilled by just have an extended post with no value added to my blog. So instead, I'm going to share with you... lessons learned from the year. Be they for your own use or just to get to know me a little better.

If you have only a minute, this is my own little way of saying carpe diem,  run and take a chance.

In the theme of run, robot run, running in its most basic sense is a simple, repetitive exercise. You could program a robot run, but that wouldn't make it a runner.

You can transform your body into the idealized well oiled machine, knocking out every work out, which is also pretty awesome...And probably what most athletes aim for, but when you look down your scope for that one goal, you lose focus on so much else.

Try to find a balance between hitting your numerical goals and also set goals for your running soul.

Looking back through the year, I don't necessarily feel like I did anything bad, but more like..
More on this in a moment
Running, when embraced, pushes you through a myriad of emotions and often brings you many opportunities to grow as person.  Run enough, and your brain slowly gets rewired.  Embrace what makes you human. Every run may not have the digits you want to see, your body may not carry you to that daily goal, but that doesn't mean the day is a loss. Did you see, I mean really see, what went on around you? Every runner going back, facing their inner adventures, running by you with a stoic face covered in sweat. Where are you running? Will you force a path to exist to get your runs in? You are amazing.

I always feel like everyone else I pass running has their proverbial shit together and silently passes judgement on my effort. Obviously the world cares that much right? After a year of meeting many runners and having candid conversations with them, you aren't alone in your crazies. Embrace them, they ultimate define how hard you are willing to work for your goals.

Are you still following me? In short, your run is part of a much bigger picture, full of an array of emotions that can scare the shit out of you...and I highly suggest you embrace it all. I find it akin to reading a book through even know you will find tragedy and pain in it, you simply don't stop in the first third of the book before life shapes the characters and turns them into elevated characters. You push through the pain, you look for the light at the end of the tunnel, you finish the story and reflect on what happened.

Such is the trial of many runs. Physically you push yourself to the limit, dancing with your body's signal for an oncoming injury. Mentally you navigate your inner maze, never knowing what minotaur is awaiting you. You may be afraid of what makes you tick, or be amazed about what makes you tick faster. But you must find out how you really work, then you can really make a difference in your run and life.

Now, I'm not saying only running does this for you. Or for someone looking to achieve this..enlightened feeling, you likely won't get this for some time. Running is hard and not everyone will enjoy it. It takes time to move over the period of pain, physical adjustment, building a base of miles, and strength. After some time, running to me stopped becoming an exercise of purely maintaining body weight and keeping my doctor happy, but an exercise of meeting my mental needs as well. Your body can go on auto pilot when you take a mental adventure into no man's land.

I belabor the lesson learned, don't be afraid to do more in all aspects of life.

I have been afraid to put myself out there to other runners, to accept that I can be accepted. I have been afraid to develop friendships and trust in them. I have been afraid to be a fuller person for my wife and child. But you know what? I can accept this has all happened, and accepting this has made me want to do more.

Just like running goals, life is hard, and you have to trust in your training (social involvement) and take chances to really push for that awesome finish. As I used to often complain about the lack of involvement, I was never making an effort to be part of some greater community. I put myself out there.. and I do feel like I have some part to play it in all.

Many of you readers I have met and shared some sort of social interaction with, and I have yet to meet one of you that I don't appreciate and think proudly of ( of you are the wurst). To you all, thank you for sharing your time, be it over a sausage, a run, or dessert, for what is more valuable than time to us runners?

Some recent life events have really pushed my emotions to some different dimension, and experiencing them has been a wonder. While they can be distracting, I try to look at them as a new tool in my running/life tool box to use. I can't wait to be a father to a second child come next Summer, there is no greater love and meaning in life than your family. Without my wife and child, I would be a very hallow man chasing meaningless addictive activities I'm sure.

I also cannot wait to see where my new found friendships take me in 2014, and who knows who else I'll meet? The best lesson I want to share, someone you learn as a child..take a chance with people, be honest, be their friend. Yes, you can get hurt or feel exposed, but you are alive and you continue. It is better to have run with a friend, than to never have run at all right? I feel very fortunate to belong to several running groups that have embraced me so far, and I hope I can make you all proud.

I hope that these.. hopes are not just some holiday mental trend that I will put away like an unlikely new years resolution, but rather moment in time where I actually grow as a person.

2013, you have shown and taught me a lot. Everything old is new, and everything new is old. The lessons aren't some revelation, but rather an experience each person needs to really find on their own, this is just my story.

and oh yea, be patient with your training, or you could get hurt multiple times like me :) Follow your training plans people!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Tis The Season for All the Emotions

I'm really not sure I know how to organize this post. This last week was emotion overload for me.

But first.. my runs.  As I mentioned in my last post, I saw I got my weekly miles up too fast (0,30s, 50). Last thing I want to do right now is get hurt AGAIN. So I took a little off my daily runs and took an extra day off.

Tuesday: 5 miles dreadmill run. My calves were shot and sore, I decided to stop early and just stretch for an extra 10 minutes.

Wednesday: Rest for my unhappy legs.

Thursday: Runch! The weather approached 40 and I NEEDED to run outside. I took my run during lunch at work out, and it was a bit slushy..well very slushy, and I didn't account for all the red lights on the street. I ran out to the aquarium and back. Here are some photos:
Non Tourist View of the City

View from the Shedd Aquarium
The Runch run felt great! I run so much more easily and faster off the treadmill, my pace was a lot quicker for the effort than what I do on a treadmill.

Funny note for the run: As I was waiting for a light to change (Note, I was wearing my tights) this old lady in her 70s with a walker, and her 13 year old grand daughter walked by me...then stopped. Old lady turns around, stares at me and says: mmhhhhmmmmm mmmmm that butt! turned back and walked away. The young girl turned and said, SORRY SIR! I'm not sure how to feel about it.. used? Awkward?

Friday: Rest again.

Saturday: Early morning 7 and change easy run outside, a little slick on the lakefront, so I just took some kick off my pace.

Sunday: 13 mileish run with Annabelle @ Fluency's Folly. I had a lot of fun with this run.

 The weather was fair (35 and trace wind) and we had a relaxing pace to just chat or just enjoy the peace of the run. We got to see Santa getting some cardio in before eating all those Christmas cookies!

Okay, now for the rest of life, where the emotions happened!

Wednesday... My wife and I finally let friends know we are expecting come July 1! A lot of you already saw this on Facebook and Twitter. I was elated that I could finally talk about it! The pregnancy frames largely what plans are come next year (especially for races, aka, none hah)
Face is up and it is totes waving at me
How we announced it:

 I'm happy :) We are much more relaxed this time around with the pregnancy.

Thursday: The Bootlegger's Running Coalition (BRC) Holiday Party. A fun evening! I got to meet some people for the first time that I only knew from our group page and some for the first time not in running cloths! I have so much to learn about them, but I felt very welcome! I can't wait to develop more friendships here!

Now the hardest part of the night, it would be the last time that I, and the rest of us Chicagoans, would get to see Erin (The Ruminator). I hated saying goodbye, she has been so good to my family and I, the city is losing a valuable person, runner, wife, and mother! Cheers to you Erin!

Next up... Saturday... the visit to see Santa Claus with my daughter.. My wife wasn't feeling well, so I was left to take my tot on a mall adventure..

1st stop- the BIG Macy's in the Loop... hell no... line was depression.

2nd stop - I meant to go to Bloomingdale's mall, which started at 11, but I went to Nordstrom mall instead (womp) and they started at 12...  It was now 11. Off to Bloomingdale's..

3rd stop - Bloomingdale's.. It is now about 11:30.. Line is long, but I thought it might move quickly.. At least it was pretty:

Two hours later we make it to Santa.. my daughter was a doll the entire wait. We had a LOT of play time to avoid melt downs. She was all excited to see Santa... until it was her turn to actually to see him.. melt down... Pictures later... Long day over all! We were wiped.

And there we go! I am a bit emotionally tired from the week, but that's what really stands out when you look back on life right?

Now hopefully my wife feels better by Christmas!
What say you?

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Wow! So Much Blog, Many Run!

So I have done an amazing job staying current with my blog, even my wife has been putting on the pressure! So here goes a recap of the last week. (wait... I can barely remember anything I did)

Monday - Friday. Four runs on the dreadmill at work. They were usually 6-8 mile runs at easy paces. Although, even easy paces on the treadmill just don't have that soft fuzzy feeling of running outside. As there are limited TVs in the gym at work, I am usually at the mercy of a more senior employee's preference until they are done... So I typically am force fed some politically charged news station I don't care for or endless sports highlights.

Note for myself, I really need to re-start my stretching routines again, my legs ache!

Also, random photo of my offspring from last week!

Saturday: Group "Farewell Run" for Erin (Running Ruminations) ~ 12.5 miles (for me)

This run was probably the funnest run I've done in awhile.  The weather was chilly and snowing.. a lot! There was no expectation of pace or time we were trying to hit. It was relaxing and slightly challenging as I haven't done much running outside lately nor run double digit miles in over a month. Our group kept growing in size and I got to met several new people... and did I mention I PR'd in high fives?

I GOT 70!!

I won't forget the run or the people! I hope to have more weather gifted fun runs in the future!

Sunday: Recovery run. I meant to just go 6-7 miles or 1 hour. And again, I forgot to look ahead of time where I should turn around and ended up going about 7.5 miles.  If you asked me, I would say I was doing about 9 minute + miles, but turns out it was about 8:15.. So not as slow as I wanted.
Going for a run.. or mug someone... or both

 Looking back, I've amped up my miles a little faster than I wanted and hit 50 miles last week.. Keep me out of injury jail people! I'm going to try to tone it down a little this week.

Monday: Pint Night at Fleet Feet in Lincoln Square. Total miles about 6.5.

Details: Most of it is being censored out for this blog. But we had a lot of fun, and our ability to consume more wurst jokes looked like this:


Monday, December 9, 2013

Picking it up for the Holidays

I had the pleasure to experience three very different types of run, each providing me their own challenges, but in the end I love every bit of it.

Friday: Dreadmill. 8 miles. 1.5miles warm up at 8:30 pace, 5 miles between 6:40 - 7:04 pace, 1.5 cool down. I wanted to give myself a small test of my breathing capabilities, how my legs were really doing after a rest day, and a little bit of mental confidence that I am on the right road to redemption and not perdition.

Saturday: First run back on the Lakefront Path! I got out around 5:40am. My plan was to do a slow recovery run after my first push on my legs on Friday. I figured 6-7 miles or an hour at a slow pace would be fine. It was a chilly one, I think the windchill was around -1 and the temperature was somewhere between 8 to 11. I dressed warm... a tad too warm.

I had a pretty pleasant run, I saw some normies I had seen many times before, a total of 8 people, they all said hello. My legs were very tired, but I was in no rush. I looked at my watch to turn around at the 30 minute mark, as I couldn't remember my current mile markers from my new place of resident. Once I got home, I saw that I had messed with my stopwatch and pressed the wrong button. I ended up running about 8 and a half miles, woops.

Saturday evening, I went to the Lincoln Park Zoo with some friends from out of town, it was a very frigid evening! Here are some photos, we had fun!

Sunday: First double digit run, about 10 and a half miles. Mid 20s, windier than Saturday, and snowed for half my run. My legs were not very pleased to be huffing around. I had no push to my run, I was pretty sore and just couldn't pick up my pace to my normal long run pace. The wind was giving me a bit of extra discomfort to my deeper breathing, so at my turn around point, I stopped for a puff of my inhaler to play it safe and returned home on my merry way with snow gracing my face.

Sunday Evening I got to visit a galaxy far far away with some fine friends of mine and some six sided die.

What do runners do when they aren't running?

We role play....
Many of you may be saying:

And rightfully so! It was a fun experience I hope we build upon, we have a filthy crew playing out the adventures we could only hope to do.

Although, my first adventure wasn't very fruitful, as all my "rolls" were pretty much as useful as this:

Fun times! I hope you all had a great weekend! What were you up to? Are you in the holiday spirit yet?

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Returning to the Season

Hello Everyone!

Trying to get back on some more regular blogging and blog reading, so here's a post for you!

I think I last left you (I’m too lazy to look at my last post right now) with the hopeful news of improving health and a return to running!

The Flovent inhaler (why is this so expensive?!) I was given is supposed to take one to two weeks to start working. Monday (2 December) I started feeling some feeling of normalcy return to my breathing that I haven’t had since…. the first half of the Chicago Marathon.

Small tangent here, looking back to my first marathon experience, I feel robbed a little bit. 

This isn’t to take away how amazing the experience, community, and journey was, but to reflect on no matter how much you prepare for an event, life can throw you an obstruction that you can do little more than just trudge through.  I feel a little frustrated that even with the awesome pacing by Annabelle at Fluency’s Folly provided, months of training, and months of rehab to work through an injury, I could do absolutely nothing to work through the mid race asthma.  I know the finish time is just a number, but I now know it was not the number I deserved.  Next time…

Okay, back to this week. If you follow my on Twitter or Runkeeper, you may have seen I started running again.  The only order from my doctor is to take two puffs Albuterol 15 minutes before cardiovascular exercise.  I also was waiting until I felt normal throughout my normal activities and didn’t get any chest tightening or other warning signs for my breathing.

I decided to do my first few runs on the treadmill at work to isolate the amount of variables in my run (such as cold air possibly making the asthmas worse) and be in a safe environment in case I did have some incident. 

Kudos to those of you that log a lot of miles on treadmills and live to blog about it. Jeannie has done a good job with it during her interstellar cruises, but I just can’t really enjoy the runs on the treadmill.  TV and music are like taking a low dose of Advil for an injury that requires a Morphine drop for me. 

Monday: 5 miles, easy pace. My legs were really stiff and my breathing was getting a bit fatigued at the end, but nothing I was worried about.

Tuesday: 6 miles, easy pace. I was very sore and stiff again.  Calling me inactive over the last few weeks would be a compliment to my activity level. I keep hoping my legs wake up after this week. In the evening, I finally start to feel full functioning again with that running blood starting to pump through me again.
Just a tad dramatic
Wednesday: 7 miles, 1.5 warm up, 4 at long run pace, 1.5 miles cool down. Hey, it’s a start!

Thursday: Running rest day. 

Notes: I HATE the sharp static shock I get on the treadmill if I ever touch the bar in front of me. 

I also am doing the runs during my lunch hour, which limits the amount of time I have to run, try to stretch for a few minutes after, and shower. 7-8 miles is going to be my max here, which leads me to start re-planning my running future. I’ll rehash it out later, but I still want my lunch hour to do more core and weight focused routines.

This weekend I hope to get my first test of cold weather running mixed with asthma, but I'm excited to get back outside.

Non Running Stuff:

You know what grinds my gears at work?

Grinches that take holiday candy and chocolate like the deserve it. The secretaries in my area have put out a variety of holiday chocolate minis and those bowls of chocolate get raided very quickly. I’m not okay with this. I decorate my pod at work like it belongs in a holiday movie. I bring in holiday chocolates as well, but this year, I’m not letting just anyone have a piece, not even the tip.

Past seasons, I just put the candy close to me or out of reach for those sneaky swipers.

This would make people have to at least risk acknowledging me to get the tip of the diabetes treat. 

This season, it may by the season of giving, but you need to give me back some holiday cheer! In my section of the office, there are about 40ish people. Only 3-4 people (including me) put up any decorations. Everyone else? HUMBUGlers!

Now I understand a lot of people just aren’t into it, okay, but if you want free holiday chocolates (Snickers, Yorks, Reeses, M&Ms, Hershey’s), You have to pay into this chocolate return with cheer, this isn’t the chocolate welfare office. Will my test succeed? I’ll let you know. If it doesn’t, I’ll take the candy home and bring it for more deserving people!

That should be more than enough content for a few days. 

Tell me how you have been? I'm so behind on blogs. Give me your recent highlights that I should know!

Thursday, November 28, 2013

The Diagnosis Circle - Asthma - Solution? Turkey and Family!

So here I am on my longest blogging, blog reading, and exercise drought. Time to start quenching the need for each need right?

Let's catch up on what is wrong with me!
Last I blogged, a cardiologist said my heart was no bueno and started me on a beta blocker that put me in a funk. And every day following my stress  test (on November 15) my complaints worsened. I went from being able to exercise lightly, to barely being able to walk a few blocks without feeling stress on my ability to breathe. I was NOT a happy camper. Around this time, I lost my enthusiasm to enjoy the running adventures (blogs) of other people, I know I wanted to, but I just couldn't think of being at that point right now.

I didn't feel like I had a heart issue. My complaints didn't align enough with the heart condition to convince me that my heart was causing my breathing discomfort. But what do I know, I'm not a doctor. I'll give the medicine a chance.

After a few days of giving the medicine a chance, I couldn't take it. I could no longer even think of running. I just wanted to be able to walk and breathe normally. My abilities waned every day. I had some rebound days where I thought I was on going to start on the right path, but the next day I felt worse.

I called the cardiologist multiple times, almost breaking down in frustration. He would initially say, let's monitor it, give the medicine a chance, and go to the E.R. if you need to. I didn't want to go to the E.R., I thought I was getting medical attention earlier enough to avoid that. I told the doctor I couldn't monitor it, I was getting much worse. Dizzy, felt like feinting, felt increasing pressure when I walked on my breathing (see 2mph), and started feeling unsafe if I was by myself outside.

 After my complaining, he moved my appointment up a few days and say me the next day (we are now at November 20).  I had a lengthy visit, another EKG, ultrasound of my heart and whatever other tests they did to monitor my heart were called. Result?  He took back his diagnosis of
Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy.

I was confused, so I do not have a heart condition?

The doctor said, that is why we wanted you to follow up in a week to see if you do have that condition, and you don't. After longer review, my heart is a little bigger, but within limits, due to all the running and exercise I do.

I was a bit peeved.

There is a big difference in - we are going to monitor you for a week to see IF you have the heart condition to you HAVE a heart condition and we are going to follow up in a week to see how the medicine works on you.

I was happy to have a healthy heart, but frustrated that I still am getting no relief. The doctor took me off the beta blockers and ordered a chest x-ray for the next day.

I got my chest x-rays and had my worst episode to date at work and felt like I was going to pass out on Roosevelt Road by the Medical District.. I was scared. I was praying that the chest x-rays said something useful.  Later that afternoon, the doctor called and said I had negative results. To monitor the situation and follow up with the next appointment. I almost snapped, my body was failing me. I felt the doctors were barking up the wrong tree. That they heard me, but weren't listening to me. Their next test was a CT Scan with contrast.

I know they were trying to rule out the more threatening issues, but I know the cost of all this is basically going to kill my Christmas budget. I reminded myself it is better than being dead and that that gifts aren't really what makes the season, but still.. a bit of a bummer. I wish that something just gave me some breathing relief.

I went to get my CT Scan the next day (we are at November 22 now), and I also stayed home from work as I was able to function less and less before I got serious discomfort. The CT Scan..SUCKED.

I expected a quick scan.. but that wasn't my luck. I was hooked up to an IV to administer a warm solution into me for the contrast scan. The technician left the room and told me the solution was going to start. I went under the scan and peered at my IV... blood started to bubble.. Shit.. we have a blow out.

The needle popped out of my arm and tape. The solution started spraying all over the body and myself. I freaked. I was told to stay still. What do I do? The tech wasn't coming to save me. I started to wiggle my hand that was behind me, hoping the tech would see. She finally came over and was like? What is wrong? I looked at my arm and she was like OH NO!

So my cloths got all wet and salt lined. And the re-insertion of the needle HURT bad.

And the result of the scan? NEGATIVE.

By the time I got the results, the time was 5pm. Doctor offices closed. I was sad. I had no relief. The cardiologist said the normal line, I have no idea what is wrong with you. Follow up next week with your normal doctor and with him in two weeks. I was sad... Thankfully Saturday I had a relaxing day with my whovian friends!

I felt relaxed that day. It probably helped that my wife didn't let me do more than stay in bed so I wouldn't get worse and my daughter kept me company.

I thought that maybe I was starting to naturally get better?

Sunday came..Shit hit the proverbial fan. I could barely move without feeling like I was struggling to breathe. I sounded like I was wheezing. I got depressed. All I could say to myself was..

 Monday came, and even worse. I called my doctor, he got me lined up with a Pulmonary specialist for Tuesday. They told me to get my scans on CD for my appointment... which ended up being the straw that broke the camel's back.

After picking them up and coming home, I no longer was able to breathe normally resting. I sounded like Darth Vader without his helmet when I was breathing normally.

E.R. visit it was. And what did they say? Asthma. They set me up with some breathing stuff which opened up my throat and they gave me a rescue inhaler (albuterol). Not sure still how that happened in the Marathon at mile 14ish, not uncharted territory for me.

I went to see the Pulmonary doctor the next day, who supplemented the albuterol with a steroid inhaler (very expensive) which I can hopefully be weaned off of over time.

Funny how my final ( I HOPE ) diagnosis is asthma, when that was my initial guess.

I'm feeling a lot better now, still a bit confused on the matter, but glad to have relief. I also have a nice sinus cold, which makes the matter a bit more confusing, which symptom belongs to which ailment?

But I am relieved now. I can finally enjoy the days again. I can think about running again soon and enjoy my wonderful friends and family!
The view here in Michigan
Happy Thanksgiving Everyone! I am honestly thankful for you all who kept in touch with me during my absence and offered your assistance without being prodded. Thank you!

Enjoy your family, health, and opportunities life gives you. Things change so fast, embrace your gifts, no matter how small they may seem today, they may look like the world tomorrow.