Monday, March 31, 2008

First bike ride, and a run

Sunday morning I met Bree over at the parking lot of the Alameda Ferry. I'm used to going there for runs but this morning was different. Instead of running shoes I had my cycling shoes. Instead of a running cap I had a helmet. And instead of taking off on foot I had my bike. Our plan was to go no more than 20 miles, legs and wind dependent. It was cool out, not quite 50 degrees yet, and a cold wind was coming off the water.

I haven't been on my bike for 2 years and that was one little ride. Before that I've maybe been on the bike a half dozen times since I started this marathon business back in 2001. The most spinning I've done has been on my exercycle and the fastest I've gone under my own power recently is around 5 mph while running. I'm used to warming up quickly and under-dressing for the weather.

What a difference going faster makes! I had on shorts, a short sleeved cycling jersey with arm warmers and a bright (very very bright) yellow jacket. Fingerless gloves and normal air-holed shoes completed my outfit. Brrr and brrr again! It's not as much that I'd forgotten how cold it can be to cycle, I just -- umm -- ignored my memories. My big toe still hasn't thawed out and possibly never will.

We hopped on our bikes and made a quick spin around the parking lot. It felt ok so we headed out. My game plan was to just follow Bree wherever she led; I'm not that familiar with Alameda and didn't want to get lost. We wanted an easy ride, as sheltered from the wind as we could get.

We had a nice little Tour de Alameda, going back through a couple of areas just to get in some miles. We ended up with 15 miles and that required one last loop through the parking lot. It was a good welcome back ride. It was mostly flat with one little hill (actually an underpass) that we took in both directions. We were on main roads and through neighborhoods and along the water. Very lovely this time of year with wildflowers and green grasses. Also leading to a bit of achooing and wheezing.

My bike felt very good. The adjustments David made were great. I need to readjust my cleats (and I'll probably be readjusting them every ride, until I find perfect placement). I couldn't get my computer to work, and I'd left Mr. Garmin home because I hadn't charged the battery recently, so I didn't have my stats that I love so much. I fiddled with the computer once we finished and wouldn't you know it, I got it to work.

I was tired afterward but not sore anywhere. I don't know if that's because of all the legsercises I've been doing or because the ride really was short and flat. I felt much better afterward than I did after Saturday's run.

Speaking of which, I ran on Saturday, YAY! Well, it's way too soon to celebrate. I met my peeps out at the Lafayette-Moraga Trail. Sandy, Anita and Mary Ann planned to run 10 miles but my goal was a simple 3. I ran 1-1/2 miles with them, doing 9:1 run:walk, our old pattern. The first mile was slow as molasses, even though it felt to me as if I was going fast. I have no endurance after 3 months of not running. At 1-1/2 miles I hugged everyone good bye and sent them on their way. We all know how tempted I was to continue with them but my better sense prevailed. Didn't know I had better sense, didja?

As I ran alone I kept looking at my watch to see if the pain would strike again at the magic 28 minute mark like it had the last couple of treadmill runs. 27. 28. 29. 30 31 32 and no shooting pains in my knee. I was thrilled and kept running, trying to keep my pace slower than I normally do on that last, downslope section. I got back to the start and although the shooting pain never occurred my knee was pretty sore. I walked back to my car and stretched for a while, then went home and iced.

My knee got more sore as the day went on, including when I was called to work to taste wine (don't ask) and when I went shopping. I iced again in the evening but it was so sore I skipped my legsercises entirely. I ended up having to get up after I'd gone to bed to get some advil since the ache was keeping me awake. It felt better Sunday morning and surprising well even after the ride.

I don't know what my plan of attack will be for further knee rehab. I'm thinking of just discontinuing the legsercises and only doing my normal workouts (swimming, running, cycling, abs and the odd strength training here and there). I need to do the regular workouts just to maintain what little aerobic conditioning I had now but I'm afraid the reason my knee didn't hurt after cycling was because of the therapy. Oh, decisions, decisions! I would just take it a day at a time and do whatever I feel like but we know the result of that would be lots of sofa time. I don't know what to do, but I know that Saturday morning out running with the girls was one of the best times I've had so far this year.

I'll let you know what I decide!

Friday, March 28, 2008

Sunny spring days

There is one thing sure to bring a smile to my face. I love the sight of our deep green spring hills. I love the fields of mustard shining in the sun and blowing in the wind. I love the deep purple blue spikes of lupine. I love the clumps of bright orange California poppies signaling warmth and long days to come. I've been seeing all this every morning on my way to work and it starts the day off right.

It's been a bit deceptive though. It's actually only about 40 degrees right now, not really a warm spring day. The light breeze looks like it's going to become a heavy wind and it's even possible we're going to get some rain. That's fine, it'll wash the yellow pollen off everything save me from having to water my lawn.

I'm officially declaring the experiment of regular twice daily exercising a failure. I just can't get up that early day after day. While I'm used to sleeping poorly and averaging 6 or so hours of sleep per night (even though I need 8), getting less than that regularly turns my brain to tapioca. I drag all day and I don't feel that by the afternoon I can be responsible for any work or decision - which isn't very good for my job when I'm as busy as I've been. And doing the legsercises twice daily makes not one iota of a difference in how my knee feels. So I'm going to back to only doing a weekday morning workout when I know I can't exercise that night.

That didn't happen this morning. Although I know I'll be busy tonight I couldn't talk myself into getting up and treadmilling before work. My knee is pretty sore from yesterday but I don't know if it's the fault of therapy or swimming. So I reset my alarm and got another 45 minutes sleep. It surprisingly made a big difference in how I felt when I finally got up.

Last night Sandy joined me for a swim. I instructed her in all the drills Claudia and Phil and I have been doing and told her each lap what do do on the next lap. We only did 2 sets of the drills instead of 3, since Sandy hadn't been swimming in a long time. And since it was cold and I was tired and ready to take any excuse available. I was a tough taskmaster and afterward Sandy told me I suck. You're welcome! Heh. I miss her telling me that after we've finished a long run that I scheduled.

I think my physical therapist is about to fire me. My knee isn't improving and he doesn't quite know what to do next. I have one more appointment then I'll go see the doctor again. I have a feeling I'm just going to have to deal with the pain and hope it magically goes away. I'm sad and frustrated and really want to run long distances again.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Short sleep, long exercise

Last night's swim may have suffered a bit from my lack of sleep. Claudia, Phil and I hit the pool last night (Phil literally hit the pool). Not a single one of us was peppy or enthusiastic but we swam back and forth for almost an hour and completed our entire workout. I'd like to say I felt great afterward but that would be a big fat lie. I went home and spent another hour doing legsercises and finally sat down with my dinner and an ice pack after 9pm. Yawn.

I got up early this morning and hit the treadmill again, with the exact same results I've been getting. Doing a 2 minute walk, 8 minute run, at 28 minutes into the workout I got the stabbing knee pain. Cripes. It was that fleeting pain again and I was able to finish the last 4 minutes of the treadmilling and also do almost a full set of legsercises before it was time to get ready for work.

Tonight was going to be another swim night but Claudia's not feeling well, Phil can't make it and Sandy is saying she'll meet me tomorrow night to swim instead. I'm going to go home and immediately go to bed do the squats tape and my second set of legsercises. Tomorrow morning I'll get up early and drag my exhausted butt to physical therapy where I'll tell my therapist that his twice a day thing isn't working. Isn't working for my knee, my sleep or my temper.

I got my allergy shots this morning and it was a great chance to knit. I took along my mistake rib scarf (the Lorna's Laces one) and was able to knit away while I had to wait to see if I'd go into anaphylactic shock. I've been getting injections since I was a teenager and I've never had a reaction, but they make me wait regardless. It was a nice break where I was forced to just sit there for a full half hour, but now I'll have to work late to make up for it. Yawn. I love the yarn and hope I'll be able to tolerate it on my skin. It's one of three (two? four?) that I'm testing for my future Wonderful Wallaby project.

Hey! Remember when my nephew (ok, my step-nephew if you're being technical) was doing the Man of the Year Campaign last year? He's engaged now. He proposed a lovely and unique way. Check out his story! Congratulations Noah and Garen!

By the way, I miss running ...

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Long hours and short nights

This week I decided to try to see what it would be like getting up early in the morning to exercise, then going to work, then exercising again at night. My physical therapist insists that I complete my legsercises twice daily which is almost impossible to do; right now they take way over an hour to complete the set, and that's ignoring my right leg completely.

Monday morning I arose early and did my squats tape. The doctor had said not to do squats but then the therapist added them in so I figured wtf. I've been doing this tape for many many years and am very careful with form and it's never seemed to bother my knee. It's a great workout and I've missed it. After finishing I did abs and then about 3/4 of a legs workout, leaving out also the stretches. I worked late (again) and when I got home I did the 30 minutes on the treadmill thing (repeats of 2 minute walk, 8 minute run), then did a full set of the legsercises and stretches. It was 8:30 pm when I finished up and I was exhausted.

I decided that rather than start preparing my taxes I'd rather finish up my beaded silk stole. I only had the bind off row to do but since it was well over 200 stitches I knew it would take a while. I had been knitting it with size 11 needles and decided to try to get a looser edge than I normally do. I tend to bind off tightly and it looks bad on a loose project. I switched the needle to a 13 and I think that did the trick. It took a long time but the stole is off the needles now. I didn't even look at it because it was so late. I need to weave in the ends then it's done! I'm hoping it doesn't need blocking; I'm not in a silk-blocking mood and I want to wear it in less than 2 weeks.

I didn't make it out of bed early enough today for the morning workout. Instead I hit the snooze button a couple of times, then got to work early. I'm hoping to get a set of legsercises done before swimming tonight. Tomorrow I'll try again for the twice a day workout. Sleep? Who needs sleep??

Monday, March 24, 2008

It's tough getting old

This is what I learned this weekend after spending it with my 80 year old mother: being old absolutely sucks. It's bad enough when your sight is going, you can't hear, your body aches sitting still or moving. Add to that your mind flitting off on tangents, unable to think of words or phrases or ideas. You don't remember anything, but won't admit it. Your temper is on edge all the time. Any perceived slight gains prominence. Foods and drinks you like upset your stomach. You have no energy or balance. Your sense of humor is missing and your tolerance has disappeared. Your independence is gone and your reliability is past.

How was your weekend?

Friday, March 21, 2008

Spring is colder than I remembered

It's beautiful and clear and windy here, but only in the mid-50's. We haven't had one of our normal early heat waves yet and it looks from extended forecasts like it will be at least April before that happens. It's fun watching the white flower petals from the trees blowing in all directions as if it's a freak snow storm. I feel sorry for those in the mid-west who are getting the actual snow. I guess I shouldn't complain, having grown up in an area with late spring snow, but I'm acclimated to California and expect more. Darn global warming, changing all our weather patterns!

Last night's swim was very breezy and it was nice being in the water instead of out where it was nasty chilly. Claudia had determined that we weren't swimming nearly enough; we were apparently only doing enough mileage for a sprint triathlon. Whoopsie! We didn't increase drills last night (in fact we cut them by one set) but we increased our warm-ups and cool-downs. Phil joined us last night and he couldn't believe we had to double and triple what we were already doing. So smart Phil did the math and figured out that we were counting the sets incorrectly. Whew! I'm just going to follow behind Claudia and do whatever she's doing - no mathiness impinging on my brain while I'm going back and forth!

My physical therapist has decided that I have a weakness in my entire left leg, hip down to foot, so now he's added more legsercises (that's my new word, like it?) to my already takes-too-much-time grind. And he's insisting that I need to do them twice daily, even if it means giving up sleep. Right. I know that I'm the one that will benefit from really working at it but c'mon, I just don't have that time in real life. As much as I want to be ready for the half marathon next month, I can't see getting up at 5:30 am every day to get in an extra set of strengthening and stretching. I treadmilled 2 minutes walking, 8 minutes running today, repeated 3 times, and I'm still getting that shooting pain in my knee. I'm getting very frustrated.

I'm going down to San Diego to visit my mom this weekend, probably for the last time. I'm helping her get ready for the big move scheduled for the first week of April. I'm going to bring back some stuff that she doesn't want to have the movers ship and she can't handle when she flies up here. I'll miss the area down there but it will be much easier having her here, even though that will be even more added to my weekly schedule.

Have a great weekend everyone!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Full moon madness

Is it just me, or are people even crazier today than they normally are? I'm trying very hard to keep my nice on and believe me, it's a bit of a struggle. I feel like someone has to jump out and tell me I've been punked because otherwise, today is too strange.

But at least tonight we've got Stitch n Bitch to celebrate! Yay and I can use some good yarning. I'm having a small group of the ladies over tonight and we'll eat good food, drink excessive amounts of good wine and knit. I think instead of tempting the yarn gremlins with fumble-fingered wine induced clumsiness I'll just play with my Malabrigo. I had two big bins of only Malabrigo but then shopping and Stitches West happened. I was totally unable to cram the new purchases into the bins and so I bought another. Well, two actually. Room for the yarn to breathe. I think I'll just rearrange the yarn tonight while everyone else knits. And feels envy for my wondrous stash.

Last night was a treadmill night and I bumped it up from 3 sets of 4 minutes walking/6 minutes running to 2 minutes walking/8 minutes running. My knee was a little achy beforehand (it's always just a little achy these days, I think it's the deep tissue work by my therapist so I ignore it) and the first couple of sets didn't make it hurt any more or less. About 2 minutes before I was done I got an excruciating sharp jolt of pain that just came and went so I was able to pretend it didn't happen and finished up. Then I did all the stretches and the leg exercises and iced, just like I'm supposed to do.

Today my knee doesn't feel any different than it did yesterday; a little achy and just not right. I'm getting plenty sick and tired of all of this. It's supposed to be ALL BETTER by now! I've been a patient patient and followed all instructions and done everything and it doesn't seem to be any different than when I started this rigamarole 6 weeks ago. I want to go back to running more than 20 minutes at a time, preferably 10-20 miles at a time instead. I don't want to even think about my knee. I want it to be a non-issue. Wah.

It must be the moon.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Fitting it all in

I think when Daylight Savings Time started this year we lost an hour. No, not just that one hour we lost on the Sunday that time changed. I think we've lost an hour each and every day since. Only 23 hours every day. Otherwise there's just no reason why I'm not managing to get things done. I'm certainly not sleeping more, I'm certainly not running more (or any). I'm not knitting more, or paying bills more or arranging my taxes more. So why is it that I feel each day that I'm a little farther behind?

I am swimming, although it's working out to only once or twice a week. Last night I met Claudia at the pool. I had a good workout and my legs felt like pudding when we finished. Sore pudding, because of a small workout I had done on Sunday. We're going to start increasing our workouts again, try to toughen up before training starts in May. I think neither of us wants to wuss out in the pool when we're in real training.

The thought of the triathlon alternately terrifies and bores me. On the one hand it's "yawn, I can do any of those events in my sleep" but on the other hand it's "oh crap, it's a triathlon!!" Swimming is getting easier and faster and feeling more natural. Our first bike ride in a couple of weeks will probably be about 25 miles. The first ride. If my knee wasn't messed up then 6 miles would be a training run. An oh-well-we-have-nothing-better-to-do run. I really think the training is going to be much harder than the actual event. I can't wait to look back in six months and laugh at my current nightly fears. I will laugh, won't I?

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Oh where oh where did my weekend go?

I just noticed that it's Sunday night already. How did that happen? Geez, I can see if I get up early and go run umpteen miles or stay out late but man, I didn't even accomplish half of what I intended to finish. Let alone start. It's almost time to go to bed and start the work week all over again.

I "ran" twice, if you can call doing 3 repeats of a 4 minute walk/6 minute run on a treadmill "running." To me it's a warmup for the rest of the strengthening stretching exercises I'm doing. It means that over two days I ran a total of 36 minutes. Woofreakinghoo. It's almost not worth getting my clothes all sweaty, but I'll continue doing it until my knee cooperates and stops hurting. Which it'll do soon, right? I missed two races this weekend, a short one across the Golden Gate Bridge and a shorter one out in my 'hood. With longer days and brighter early evenings it's getting harder and harder to be on the injured reserve.
My bike is done! David fixed it up, tuned it up, cleaned it up, made it look less like a bike from last century and more like a clean, beautiful classic. It looks fabulous and I can't wait to go for a real ride. New tires, new tubes, new tape, new thingamawhatchy (oh please, like you know what all the parts are called), new brake pads. Oiled, lubed, adjusted and all those things you do to make it run better. Er, I mean that a friend does to make it run better.I wish the detailing showed up better in the pictures - the paint and decals are still in fantastic condition. Can you even tell that the model is a Triathlon? Or that the paint is a lavender fade? Somehow it just seems right that my purple Triathlon bike will take me through my first Team in Training triathlon season.

David didn't have cleats for the pedals he was going to use so he put my old ones back on. They work fine, I was just hoping for a new, lighter, less stiff pedal. I brought the bike home, screwed a pair of cleats onto the new shoes I bought and went out for a short spin around the block. The wind was wicked so I didn't go far, but the bike feels great. I foresee several tumbles in the future but the bike is strong. I'm sure it'll take a while to get readjusted and remember how to shift and how to brake but I'm ready for it!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Swim a little (whew) run a little (ow) knit a little (yay!)

Tuesday night Claudia and I met for our usual swim. We decided to finally swim the complete 4 sets of drills that comprise the first week's workout on the official schedule. Yep, took us this long to work up to the first real workout. After his amazing century ride over the weekend, Phil joined us for his first swim in a couple of years.

It turns out that swimming 4 sets of drills, plus warm up and cool down, is pretty tiring! Phil didn't do the entire workout since he was pre-fatigued from his ride, but he did a great job for the first time back in the pool. I'm working hard at correcting my form. I'm good at either breathing, kicking or pulling with my arms, but not so good when I throw all of them in together. I also have a tendency for my legs to sink and I'm working on keeping them at the top of the water instead of deep down and dragging. We're all trying to find the most efficient way to swim and get a good workout at the same time. When we finished we were all tired. My legs were wobbly when I left the pool, just like the first swim a few weeks ago.

After eating dinner and doing all my leg exercises and stretches, and icing my knee, I picked up some knitting. My arms were shaky from the swim but I wanted to at least get in a few minutes of knitting. I'm working at finishing my beaded silk shawl and I'm just about to attach the 4th and final skein of yarn. This is the pattern where you increase 2 stitches every row and now I have a bazillion and three stitches on the needles. Really, I counted! It takes forever to do one row now. I was thinking of ending the increases but I like the shape that I can see and don't want to square it up. So one more skein should be about 3 rows. Heh. No, it'll be more, but I don't feel bad about only knitting a couple of rows each night when I only have about 45 minutes to knit.

Last night I attempted the treadmill again, with 4 minutes walking, 6 minutes running. It went fine, my knee hurt no more when I finished than when I started. I did 3 sets and quit, just like I was supposed to, then did all my exercises and stretches.

At PT today I told the therapist about my Saturday run fiasco and last night's run. My knee was hurting but not horribly. He did some ultrasound on my knee (ahhhhh) and some deep tissue work on my IT band (ouch). Then I mentioned the odd fact that when I was doing one of my exercises I noticed my left leg doesn't turn out as much as the right. That got me some deep tissue work on my hip and ooh boy, that hurt. Still hurts. There's lots of tissue to get through before he hit the muscle and every bit of it feels bruised.

My instructions for the week are to slowly increase my run to walk ratio while still only doing 30 minutes, and to do the run part a little slower. Also to add a couple of stretches, continue the exercises, continue swimming and pay attention to my knee. If it hurts, stop running. Pretty sensible, right? I think this time I'll even follow the instructions!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Pimp my ride

As part of getting prepared for triathlon training I thought it would be a good idea to actually find out if my old bike is in good enough condition to ride without falling apart (the bike or me). The bike is a pretty Peugeot Triathlon that I bought when I started cycling in 1989. Or thereabouts. I'd put some big miles on it back in the '90's but I hadn't touched it at all for at least 2 years. And hadn't done any serious cycling or maintenance for 5-7 years. It's been hanging upside down in my garage, occasionally bopping the unsuspecting passerby (usually me) upside the head.

My bro-in-law (on the step-side of the family) has become a bicycle fanatic. Several years back he started riding for fitness and now is riding centuries and collects and rehabs bikes. He works as a bike mechanic at a local sporting goods store and was the bike mechanic when my nephew did his Ironman Triathlon in support of his Man of the Year Campaign. I didn't really want to bother him with my bike issues but I wanted an honest opinion about whether it was worthwhile to put a little money into my bike now, or whether I should just cut my losses and go get a new one.

He enthusiastically agreed to take a look at my bike so last night I went over to their house for dinner and a bike discussion. He was expecting a bike in much worse condition than mine and agreed that with a little attention and a few parts it would be good as new and ready to ride. He did recommend that when I started doing more triathlons or longer triathlons I should get a time trial bike. Whoa! I haven't gotten to the first one yet, I'm surely not ready to plan future ones! Hey, I can't even run 3 miles right now, an Ironman doesn't seem like it's in my near future. Or distance future. Or any future, I'm too slow.

First off David had me sit on the bike and he adjusted the handlebars and brake positions. I basically bought the bike off the rack and although there were a bunch of customizations, it never was easy to get to the brakes in the drops so I just didn't ride that way. Amazing what a little tinkering will do. We stripped off the handlebar tape (boo hoo, it was pretty!) to reposition the brakes and he'll replace it with a gel-filled tape. Then he started going through part by part and most parts are in great shape. Of course I'll need new tires and tubes, since the old ones are too dried and worn, plus he's recommending a different type of tire. The chain is good, the gears are good enough, he might replace cables, and so on. I decided to get new pedals since mine have always been very stiff to release (and they're on the lightest setting); my knee won't take the twisting necessary to get out and I fall enough, I don't want to have either my knee torqued up or foot stuck. I definitely need new shoes since the old ones are way too small.

All in all it's going to cost me very little for the parts and I'll have a great bike again when it's all done. With this beautiful weather I'm looking forward to getting in the saddle again, but I know it'll take a while to get my road nerves back again. Especially with the tragic accidents recently. I think that'll be the hardest part about getting going. Even tougher than hills, which have always been my nemesis. I've turned into a big scaredy cat but I think practice will help there.

I'm getting closer and closer to being ready to start training!

Monday, March 10, 2008

Overly optimistic

I'm usually not the type to be brimming over with optimism. I'm usually much more of a realist which represents as pessimism to some. A couple of months ago I was pretty sure it would be a very long time, if ever, before I got back to running any type of distance. So when I was feeling on Friday that la di da all is well with my knee and it's better because of all the therapy and rest and exercises and I was planning races and ready to get going, I should have thought twice. Because bam! It all blew up in my face.

Saturday I was allowed to run 3 sets of walk 4 minutes, run 6. My therapist had said when he initially assigned the program that I could do it twice if I was feeling good. To ensure that conditions were contained I decided to use the treadmill and so I popped a couple of programs I'd taped last week into the vcr and started going. The first set I felt a little stiff, but good. The second set I was warming up and still felt good. The third set I felt great, so I decided to do one more repeat and call it a day. A few minutes into the run part I got that big shooting awful pain in my knee, so I stopped. It was too late.

Before all this PT and exercising and strengthening I could go just over 3 miles with no problem, then the shooting pain would start. Now I can go -- just over 3 miles. Great. I spent the rest of Saturday icing and adviling and by Sunday it was feeling a little better but still sore and swollen. Yeah. No improvement here. I not only won't be running the race next Sunday, I'm highly doubting I'll be able to run the half marathon in April.

In my achy knee sadness I thought that a little retail therapy was in order. I decided to go to Sports Basement to try to find another swimsuit, a tri bag and maybe cycling or tri shorts and tops. I found a great (huge) tri backpack that will carry, um, I think a spare body if I need one. I got a case for my swim goggles, some body wash for after swimming and a pair of tri shorts that are actually big enough. But darn it, no swimsuit so I headed over to the Swim Shop where I had bought the first one. I figured I could breeze in and out and just buy the exact same suit but they have to get it from another shop so I won't have it until later this week. That's ok, it counts as buying it, doesn't it?

On Sunday I indulged in another bout of retail therapy but this time for my nephew. I never got him a Hanukkah gift so we went shopping for that. He's really gotten into music and playing instruments. No, I mean in addition to Guitar Hero. He likes playing a real guitar and his (indulgent) parents just bought him his first electric guitar. He wanted a stand so we went to Guitar Center and I thought his little 10 year old heart was going to burst with joy. He really liked it there and we wandered through a couple of times before he decided on a stand and a new strap. He and his friends are starting up bands this summer. Rock bands. Yeah, my nephew is a rocker. We were talking about bands and he and his friends don't play any of "that old stuff." Uh huh, but even the guys in Green Day (among his current favorites) are getting to be "old stuff." Warms my heart that I was the first to play American Idiot for my unsuspecting nephew (and heard about it from my bro!) and the title song is one of the first he learned to play. I'm so going to be that auntie who gets her nephew his first tattoo or piercing ...

Friday, March 7, 2008

Swimming solo

We all know that despite the fact that I love to run, if I'm not meeting someone after work I'm just as likely to stay home with my bottom firmly glued to the sofa. I was afraid that swimming would be the same, since the first time Claudia couldn't make our scheduled swim I didn't go either. Last night was a swim night and I knew Claudia had other plans and wouldn't be there. My brain and body wanted nothing more than to nap for a long time, then go to bed. But I got up, put on the swimsuit and drove over to the pool. I did our full set of drills all by myself and felt just like a big girl. Maybe I've proved something to myself and now I'll be able to get out there and do my workouts, even if I'm alone.

Or maybe I just felt like swimming last night.

We lose an hour on Sunday when daylight savings time resumes. Wouldn't it be nice it we could chose which hour to lose? I'd be very happy giving up the house cleaning hour. Or maybe the grocery shopping hour or the physical therapy leg exercise hour. I certainly don't want to lose a knitting hour, or a reading the Sunday paper hour, or the taking my nephew shopping for a belated Hanukkah present hour. Or the eating hour or a sleeping hour. Good thing it doesn't work that way!

Thursday, March 6, 2008


Today was my last regularly scheduled PT appointment and it went well. So well that I got to schedule more appointments, weekly for the next month. I think my therapist just doesn't trust that I'll be sensible on my own about my return to running. Gee. Wonder where he got that idea.

Maybe it was when he said I could increase my walk/run to a run/walk and be at full running, for a short distance, in a few days. I had to push it and ask if I could run a 12k in 2 weeks. He gave me a look and said maybe, possibly, if I didn't have any problems before then and treated it as my long run and took it easy. Heh. Take it easy. That's how I do most of my runs. So I was thrilled beyond words at the thought that I could make such a quick comeback and then I got to the office and realized that the race isn't in 2 weeks, it's in 10 days. Whoopsie. Maybe I just won't tell him it's about a week sooner than I'd thought. Or maybe I'll use the common sense I was born with and do the right thing. Any guesses which path I'll take?

Hey, remember when I was knitting? It feels like I haven't done any since Stitches West - as if I burned out with all that yarn. No, I just haven't had any knitting time except for maybe a row here, a row there. At an average of 2 rows per evening, not much to write about. Maybe I'll get some done tonight!

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Alone in the dark

I had a great swim last night. Claudia and I met up and did 3 sets of the first group of drills, plus a couple of laps to top it off. It felt pretty good and is getting easier and faster, although I think my form is still darn sloppy. I'm working on keeping my legs up, improving my arm stroke, and not swallowing any water while I'm concentrating on other things. For the first time there was someone in the lane next to me creating waves and splashing. The first few times I was splashed it startled me and I noticed I was working harder to go straight when there were waves. I guess having company in the pool is a good idea since it's better preparation for the real race. Where people will actually be kicking me in the head.

There were a few times in the back-and-forthing last night when it felt as if I wasn't moving at all. My perception was that I was just floating there with no forward progress. I'm pretty certain that wasn't true since Claudia would have been even further ahead than she was, but it's a strange feeling. I often feel like I'm running backwards when people pass me by so I guess I'll get used to the feeling in the pool too. Yeah, probably on the bike too.

After swimming I headed home to do my leg strengthening exercises and stretches. I finally finished them (with a break for dinner) at at 9:45 pm. Way too late. I had just gotten comfortable on the sofa and grabbed the remote to turn to the news when the lights flickered. I thought it might have been my imagination and I ignored it, but it happened again. Then again. Then all the lights went out for a minute and came back on. I was getting concerned and got up when the lights went out again and didn't reappear. I found the nearest flashlight and then looked outside. It was pitch black, not a light anywhere. There was a haze so it was hard to tell if the lights on the hill were out or if the lights across town were out. It seemed like they were out too.

I walked outside. Because walking outside in the pitch dark at 10pm is a good idea? I dunno, it seemed like the right thing to do at the time. It was perfectly still and I couldn't even hear freeway noise. None of the other neighbors shared my idea of bonding in the dark and it felt like I was the only person awake in the subdivision. Oooh, spooooooky! I went back in and locked up, but I wasn't sleepy enough to go to bed so I found my running headlamp and settled in with a book.

I keep my bedroom pretty dark and it's normally quiet but nothing like when there's a blackout. No reflection from the clock, no electric hum or the fridge cycling on and off. No bits of ambient light from outside. Very odd. Comforting and creepy at the same time. When I finally went to bed I quietly tried to fall asleep, tossed and turned and after a long time heard a kind of bump and realized that even with my eyes closed I could tell there was a light on - the light from my clock seemed that bright. The power was out for about an hour and a half and I have no idea whatsoever about the cause, or the extent of the outage.

When I get home tonight I have to reset all my clocks. And my televisions and vcrs. This couldn't have happened on Saturday night when I'll be resetting everything??

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Good news for once

My knee hasn't had any major pain in a while and it seems that the physical therapy, exercises and stretches I've been doing are working. I've sorta been given the go-ahead to start running. Why sorta? I'm starting off with a walk/jog of 7 minutes walking, 3 jogging. I did that 3 times last night and there was no pain. The problem is that the shooting pains only showed up when I'd been running for a few miles so it's not a great test. There's a progression to my training; next time I can do 6 walk/4 jogging, then 5/5, 4/6, etc. until it's all jogging. Then I get to "run"/jog with the same progression. Run, jog; it's pretty much the same to me. So far I'm doing this on the treadmill every other day. If (and this is a big if) there's no pain at all I'll be able to increase to a real run with longer than 30 minutes at a time. Yippee and yay! Just in time for daylight savings!

I'm starting to get my life and house back in order after the family filled weekend. I treadmilled and did my PT exercises last night, despite my exhaustion from getting up at 4:30 am. So I didn't really get much straightened away but at least my exercise room is no longer functioning as a spare bedroom. Nice to get all the equipment back in one room. I also got a great night's sleep which left me feeling like an aware human being again.

I'm cautiously beginning to think of future races again. I miss planning my trips and my marathons and miss traveling and seeing new places. I think that even with the tri in September I'll be able to get in a couple of late fall marathons. The spring and summer seasons are shot for long races though, I'm not in good enough shape to pull off 26.2 by July. Maybe I'll find a local half here and there but I think that this summer I'll be busy enough with tri training. I've seen the schedule from last year and yikes, those triathletes really train for their races!

I'm looking forward to swimming tonight; I think next week the pool will start getting more crowded with daylight savings time enlightened people. The weather is so nice right now that I'd think everyone who swims would want to use the pool. I think we'll just have to get there early enough, like we do now, and claim our lanes.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Hangin' with the family

This weekend was all family, all the time. We ate, we drank, we drove together to the next destination, ate some more, went to another destination, ate some more, gathered together, ate some more, talked, went out, ate more then went out to eat. Seeing a trend here?Like most families our best times revolve around food. Probably because sitting down to eat represents a time when we're all together, all as relaxed as we're ever going to get. Even without a cocktail or glass of wine (or two) to soothe the way.

My sis, bro-in-law and mom all arrived Thursday afternoon. My uncle (mom's older and only brother) also flew in for the festivities. Along with my brother and his family, throughout the weekend we went to Casa Orozco in Dublin for Mexican food, had sushi and Chinese take-out at my bro's house, went out for the big birthday dinner at the Slanted Door in San Francisco (Vietnamese food), had dim sum for lunch at Tin's Tea House in Walnut Creek, picked up pizza from Zachary's in San Ramon, had a couple of lunches and breakfasts and snacks at my house and generally stuffed ourselves so full we had no time for anything else.

It was a lovely weekend with fewer problems than you'd have expected. Or fewer than I'd have expected. There were a couple of temper flare-ups, a few sharp words, some exasperated fits but mostly everyone was sincerely happy to see each other and spend time together. As long as they got a break here and there.

Sis, bro-in-law and I got away Saturday morning and walked 4 miles at Inspiration Point. It was a cool, overcast morning, perfect for running. We had a lovely walk, enjoyed the gorgeous views. We saw the earliest wildflowers, the bay and bridges and reservoir (I love to show that off to out-of-towners), a couple of bunnies and no cows to interrupt our walk. As an added bonus my knee felt fine the entire time, yay for me!

Tomorrow morning I'm getting up at 4:35 am to get my family to the airport in time for an early flight, then it's on to the office with physical therapy in the middle off the day and allergy injections afterward. I'm looking forward to getting home at last, collapsing in a chair and pretending to put my house in order. In reality I'll probably feel just like this: