Thursday, September 4, 2014

Starting Over: Day One "HERE WE GO!!"

A lot to catch up on since my last post 4 months ago.

1)  I successfully completed my Half Marathon in June with a combination of running and walking and still I finished faster than expected.

2) We put our home up for sale shortly after and it took a lot of time in upgrades, repairs and showings.

3) We moved to an older home in the Arizona high desert. The elevation here is 3,783 ft. That is 3,465 feet HIGHER than our previous home. Also, our daytime temps run between 95-99 almost daily. We have had a lot of thunderstorm activity.

4) Other than a few quarter to half mile jaunts with my dog, I haven't run since June 15th.

5) I weigh less than I did in April, and only less than half of one pound more than I did New Years this year.  I weighed this much when I did my Half Marathon in June, but I FEEL like a blob.

6) I weigh 20 pounds more than my training peak (Oct 2012) and my measurements between then and now are hugely different. Hugely being the key word. 



My challenges are starting over while having lower back and left hip pain. I have an appointment with a sports doctor/ortho guy next week. SO! Until then....I will walk.....mostly.


I put on a backpack filled with a large bottle of water, a handgun, cell phone, tissues, first aid kit, and a camera. I grabbed a spiked hiking stick and ventured to the tall hill around the corner from me.

TONS of wildflowers all over the valley and my allergies never flinched. I love it here.

Some lower back pain on the steeper parts. Slowed down to a crawl on the steepest inclines and made a point of standing straight when that occurred. I did a LOT of stretching when I got home. It helped.

WEATHER:  Late start because I waited for an electrical storm 18 miles away to pass.


WINDS: 23 mph with gusts of 35 mph (RESISTANCE TRAINING!!!)

PACE: I ran about a half mile and walked paces showing 17's here and there, but, I forgot to stop the watch when two dogs approached me for a visit. The pace including that was 21:08

AFTERWARDS: I felt great and hadn't realized how much I missed that post workout feeling.

View on my way up the hill....valley a blaze of yellow wildflowers

Steady incline up is steeper than it looks

Approaching the very top (FINALLY!)

View of the hill I live on, on my way back home.

More scenery on the way down

Still heading downward, enjoying wildflowers before...

I am headed back up MY own hill

So incredibly steep here. 
Steeper even than Andresen in WA.

Two new friends came up from behind me (out of NO where) to introduce themselves (SCARED ME AT FIRST!!) and get tons of hugs and loving.
The tan one took me all the way home then headed back.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Set Back: Left Knee Issues

I started noticing that as my hours increased at the grocery store, my left knee began feeling 'tight' and 'tender' while checking groceries. There is a lot of twisting and pivoting on the knees when you stand on rubber mats wearing slip-resistant shoes and you are passing many many items from right to left. What affects it most though is when passing the fully packed bags, and/or large items, from the register area to the end of the check stand.

On April 28th, I was squatting down AND twisting in to the left to lower and place a case of beer under a shopping cart. I felt a very sharp and sudden pain and had great difficulty standing up. I was limping the rest of the day. I iced it that night.  What is odd, is that the pain was here, it was there, it was everywhere. It moved!!! I swear it confused me.

SPORTS DOCTOR:  Saw a doctor last week - he said that my knee was swollen behind the knee and when he touched one spot on the inside of the knee I about went through the roof. He said NO RUNNING!! He is suspecting a 'medial tear'. He said it could be several things though so he ordered an MRI. He said I could walk, but to elevate and ice it and DO NOT TWIST IT and NO SKATING. No lateral knee movement. Forward motions only.

TWO CONSTANTS: Although the pain moves from left to right to above the knee to below it, there are two constants.

1 - Squatting down there is only slight burning when squatting low and my knee is fully bent. Getting low to pick something up isn't terribly hard at all. But it is now very hard to stand up from the squatting or sitting on the floor positions. Putting any weight on it doing so is painful so I am using upper body/arms to press myself up or asking others to help me up.

2 - Any FULL bending of the knee, be it sitting in a chair, sitting cross legged, or squatting when at work or cleaning house, sometimes causes burning pain on the front sides or lower knee but it ALWAYS results in a very ODD sensation AFTER I re-straighten my leg - it feels like there is a strong pull in the back of the knee area, and often with a sensation of a knot or ball being in that pull. It subsides soon enough most of the time.

What is most disconcerting though is that the more I am at work, the more PAIN I feel. In the check stand yesterday there was light burning (all over it) but on at least 5 separate occasions I had very SUDDEN and very PAINFUL spasms on the lower inside of the left knee. Four of the spasms caused me to cry out in the checkstand. And the odd thing with that, is THOSE pains/spasms appear to be generated on the inside of the left knee area, about an inch or two BELOW the knee. What the heck?!?! Touching it I found it VERY tender. Then at home, I could only locate pain there twice but checked quite a few times.

  • It is confusing that the pain is in random places.

  • It is confusing that when straightening the knee after bending it sharply, there is a strong pulling sensation in the REAR of the knee when I walk.

  • It is confusing that random sudden spasms strike at work on the inside of the leg just BELOW the knee.

  • It is confusing that at random times the knee buckles and I falter on it....though few and far never happened before this injury.

Walking does not cause pain but long walks (5 mile) result in tightness BEHIND the knee.

MRI is tomorrow night. Results will be the Wednesday after. I miss running.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Training Going Well So Far

I find it amazing that I can run/walk at a 4 min/1 min ratio almost as fast as nonstop running at 3 or more miles.

My knees don't hurt on this new plan. EVER!! *knocking on wood*

I used my last two 6 mile runs to determine my predicted race pace for the Half Marathon using this page: RUNNERS WORLD RACE PACE PREDICTOR

According to that, my HALF MARATHON PACE should be 13:35.

This also says that I should finish in just under 3 hours. It doesn't take into account how hilly the Half Marathons are that I signed up for this year. In comparison, my first one was MUCH flatter.

My race goal for the Vancouver Half is to finish merely "under 3 hours".

I have never trained to splits before. But I am going to try this Friday on my long run. We will see how long it takes me to go the 7 miles this Friday.

Hoping I get it in at 1:35:09 as suggested below.

That is slower than when I ran my entire last Half in 2012 at a pace of 12:41 which to hit again I would need to follow the column on the right below. BUT! I am not training as hard (due to an on-call work schedule) and frankly, I am really liking this run/walk thing because I don't need to spend $20-$40 a week on a physical therapist!

Thursday, April 3, 2014



1) I went to work for a grocery store and am scheduled very few hours but am often on call. I hate being on call. It is the worst part of being on the railroad, but with only a third of the salary.

2) We are BUYING a house in Arizona and there has been a lot of running around (and flying!) involved. So many tasks and chores by our Realtor, lender and insurance company.

3) We are SELLING our home in Washington. And we have a ton of stuff. More than a ton of stuff. I have been boxing up things and driving them to a storage unit for weeks. As I type this, there is another 12 boxes I need to take over. This morning I packed my utility vehicle with electronics, gadgets, and STUFF and took them all to the Salvation Army. I have been there enough that I would now recognizing the receiving guy on the street. Luckily, the packing in the house is done as of tonight. Closets and cupboards are now bare essential BARE. There is still the garage though.  Next up is new paint every where and then flooring and landscaping.

4) My running has taken a HUGE nose dive in mileage. I attribute it a lot to the lack of structure and constant interruptions from the work place; and the needs of this house. I tried running the last few weeks and the entire run (each time) was mentally unpleasant as I obsessed over all I could be doing at home that needed doing.

5) I gained weight. At New Years I weighed 180 lbs. Today I weighed 181.8. When I found my doctors paperwork from a colonoscopy in September 2012 it said I weight 158 (CLOTHED!!!). I have gained over 23 pounds since I left my structured job at DSHS. I never realized how much I need structure.


1) Even if I just run 1 mile, I am running at least 3x a week. PERIOD.

2) Water! When I was at DSHS I drank two jugs of water a day before I got home. I am going to go buy a jug and do that again. I bet that is what helped me to eat less. ;)

3) Force myself to accept lower over-all paces as I train for a Galloway styled Half Marathon. That means running 4 minutes and walking 1 minute for 13.1 miles which can only mean slower paces than I used to run when I ran the full 13.1 last time non-stop. And that will be OKAY!!! (I have to keep telling myself that and tomorrow I am going to force myself to do it as long as I can)



Thursday, January 23, 2014

Pre-Training Annual Physical - Stress Test

Because my brother had a heart attack, and because my heart rates are WAY above the charts, I always get an annual physical and check up with my cardio before running/training season.

This year, since I am almost 52, the cardiologist chose to include a stress test since my last one was two years ago.

I showed up and this is pretty much how it went.

RN plastered my chest and such with electrodes and wires. She also taped a blood pressure cuff to my right arm. THAT was different than the first time.

I noted that the room was very cold. She smiled.

I stepped onto the treadmill and she punched in my data.

  • HER: "Your target heart rate is 143 and your Max Heart rate is 169. We will probably stop somewhere in between."
  • ME: "Can we please go up to 180?"
  • HER: "180?! Your max is 169."
  • ME: "My average heart rate on my 3 to 6 mile runs is 167-169. My highest is usually between 178-180 unless I am racing then it gets to 181 or 182. It hit 191 once but I won't let that happen again."
  • HER: "If you are feeling okay when we get to those numbers, we will go to them. But please let me know if you feel any pain or get dizzy."

So - the first few phases are just walking at steep inclines as the machine speeds up. I was bored and yakking up a storm.  She took my blood pressure a few times during those phases.

Then the machine started at a running pace at 14% incline.

I was STILL fine, but starting to sweat. By the end of the 3 minute section though, my heart rate was in the high 160's and low 170's. She said it was the 14% incline that made it happen so fast.

Then the machine cranked up the speed again, still at a 14% incline. I was still talking. I was getting sweatier. At about 2 and a half minutes in, my heart rate got up to 180. She asked if I was okay and if she could take my blood pressure while I maintained that. "SURE" and still I was able to talk. But, it was getting hard to do that.

My blood pressure (while my heart rate was 180-182) was at 175/89.

She said that was "GREAT" for that level of intensity!!! Then when she was done, with just 10 seconds left to go before it sped up again I told her, "Okay. We can stop now."

She asked me what I was feeling when I told her we could stop. I told her that I felt like I was having a hard time getting a decent breath. "That's it?" Yeah. "No dizziness, pain or weakness?" "No. Just getting out of breath." I also commented it was so hard to breath with how hot and muggy the room was.

She reminded me that I had called it an icebox 20 minutes earlier. Oh yeah.

After I stepped off the treadmill, she sat me on the examining table. My heart rate dropped to 99 within minutes and she said that was indicative of being 'super fit'. I asked her, "Not bad for a fluffy old person, huh?" and she said, "Nope! Not bad at all!"

This was the FIRST time they ever let me go over 155 heart beats per minute on a stress test. I am glad I asked her to please let me keep going. I didn't know to ask two years ago.


If they say no, at least you tried.

Now I wait for the results - and I am not worried in the least. I even signed up for a second Half Marathon for this summer. Let the training begin!