Monday, January 30, 2012
Last night I lay down to go to sleep, and felt a sharp pain in my chest. That's odd, I thought; you're not supposed to hurt when you go to bed. Got up this morning, and it was less pronounced but still there.
So I poked around SP articles on atherosclerosis. I couldn't tell whether this was chest pain that's a danger sign or not. I'm 56 years old, and I have a family tree with quite a bit of atherosclerosis and stroke in it. On the other hand, I've been running and my cardiovascular health ought to be pretty good. But then there's the cautionary tale of Jim Fixx . . .
So I called my doctor. Got in for an appointment at 4 this afternoon. By this time, I have a day of this sensation that isn't really at the level of a serious pain coming and going, being more noticeable with exercise. Blood pressure is good, I think I remember 108 over 68. Pulse is 48 beats per minute. EKG comes out fine.
The doctor pokes me in the chest and asks is that where the pain is? Sure enough, she was able to poke in a place that replicated it exactly.
This turns out to be a sore pectoral muscle. What have I done that might have used the pecs more than normal? Nothing . . . oh, yeah. It snowed last night. I cleared a lousy half inch of snow from my driveway an hour before bedtime. The major motion was pushing the snow shovel with my right hand, using the pec that ended up sore.
I feel dumb for not figuring that one out on my own. OTOH, I did get an education in what the dangerous kind of chest pain is supposed to be like, so maybe I'll recognize that if it ever happens.
We've got to listen to our bodies. Problem is, after a lifetime of not listening, some of what I'm listening to is just background noise. Figuring out what's important and what's background noise is a bit more challenging than just paying enough attention to hear the body.
Sunday, January 29, 2012
The forecasters predict 12 out of every 5 snowstorms here.
The forecast for today was clear in the morning, then getting 1 to 3 inches of snow in the afternoon. Sometimes the forecasters get it right, and running isn't as good on fresh snow. So I got out of bed more or less on time, and hit the road around 7:15 AM. The plan was to run around the section to the west, a known distance of 4.64 miles.
The temperature was 27° F (-3° C), with WSW wind at 8 mph. I've run in similar conditions, so there was no guessing game about what to wear. The road shoulders were mostly damp, with the remnants of overnight snow flurries and a few icy patches that were easy to avoid. I ran in the traffic lane a few places where the footing was better than the shoulder, but only really needed to be in the traffic lane twice to avoid ice. Fortunately, there was no oncoming traffic either of those times.
On the last part of the circuit, there was some traffic on my street. I opted to add a side loop of residential street to get out of it, more for mental health than out of necessity. That side loop added almost a quarter mile. Then when I got to my driveway, I could hear traffic behind me. Rather than cross in front of traffic, I kept running a bit longer till the traffic cleared, then crossed the street and came back.
The net result of that was that the distance got increased to 5.03 miles, in 36:45 for an average pace of 7:18 per mile. I got a split of 12:32 at 1.72 miles, which means I started out at 7:17 per mile; and a split of 27:30 at 3.75 miles, for a pace at that point of 7:20. I'm pleased with being that close to consistent, with the slightly slower pace being on the hilly part. [Edited to correct typo in time.]
This afternoon was nice and sunny. Typical weather forecast; I could have run in sunlight and 36°. Oh, well. By 7:30 PM, there was a half inch of snow in my driveway, and now the forecast is calling for 1 to 3 inches overnight. For sure it will be a lousy running surface tomorrow; but tomorrow will be a non-running day, so I don't care.
In the past week, I've run about 17 miles. My thigh is still not 100%, but it continues to improve. I did not feel it at all during my walking cooldown this morning, so it's getting to where I believe I'll be able to run that half marathon on April 29. Maybe I'll even be able to add back in a long run next weekend.
Have to be careful about how fast i add the mileage, though. I'm back to where running is fun, and I don't want to push so hard that it becomes a chore.
Saturday, January 28, 2012
I got to bed early last night, but left the light on and read for longer than I intended. So this morning I wasn't up until the alarm went off at 6. It's quite a change from a year ago that now I consider getting up at 6 late for a Saturday!
With less time than usual, I deferred playing with the SP web site in favor of running. I drank some water, ate a banana, then headed out. Temperature was right at freezing, with dry or damp pavement. Sidewalks were mostly clear with a few icy patches that were easy to avoid. I got stuck motivationally between a long run and a maintenance run; ended up running 5.59 miles in 43:20, for a 7:45 pace per mile. The plan is to run 4.64 miles tomorrow on a standard route, then take Monday off from running.
After the run, I fixed steel cut oats while stretching and recording things on SP. I've learned how to do this in the microwave for one dirty bowl and minimum hassle, though it still takes a long time. For those who are curious, here's what I ended up with:
I use a 900 watt microwave. Put 0.25 cup steel cut oats, spices to taste, 1/3 cup (not packed) raisins or 45-50 grams of craisins, and 1 cup skim milk in a microwave safe bowl. This is close to full on the bowl I have, so timing is important. (The bowl goes on a plate, to make cleanup easier if I make a mistake.) Microwave on full power for 2 minutes, stir, then microwave on 30% power for 15 minutes. That lets me have 15 minutes to do other stuff. After that, stir, look at consistency. Microwave 5 more minutes on 30% power, stir, and microwave 30 seconds on full power. Let sit a minute or two to finalize the consistency. I think the 5 minutes may be adjusted to more or less depending on what the consistency looks like after the 15 minutes; but I have a basic methodology that I can live with.
Obviously, times will need to be adjusted for other microwaves; but the idea is to heat to just below boiling, then simmer. The microwave equivalent of simmer is cook on less than half power. Exactly how much less than half will depend on the specific microwave and how big a batch is being made.
Met daughter at McD's for her breakfast at 9, did some quick grocery shopping, then came home to do laundry and have lunch. After lunch, it was off to the volunteer tax prep job for four hours.
Somehow, this all fit into the day. I just have to be disciplined about getting the important stuff done and limiting the amount of down time I have. Since I treasure my down time, I will have to watch this and make sure I get some; conceptually, this is like getting some candy in the nutrition plan. I think I can do it, and we'll see how far through tax season I last in this effort.
Thursday, January 26, 2012
It's been three days since I posted a blog. In those three days, I've run twice, for a total of 7 miles. I put 200 calories back into my limit, because I had lost back the blip up of weight I'd gained; and my weight drifted down another pound or so.
Based on the evidence of my weight, I'm thinking I must have underestimated the free pizza earlier this month. This would have been no big deal for a one time event, but the pizza was 4 or 5 times, and that was enough to show. But training is done, and I'm back to eating stuff that I know how to track.
The three days that I didn't blog I was doing volunteer tax preparation in the evenings. That's two extra shifts plus my regular shift, because the site was short handed all this week. Next week should be better, as the last class in training graduates today. Yes, I could have gone in today as well as the last three days; but I needed some time for routine maintenance, i.e. grocery shopping and getting to bed earlier than 10.
It's when life gets busy that I learn where my current priorities are. I worked full days, put in about 3 hours of volunteer time, and still kept up tracking food and running. That's good. I met my goal of being in bed by 10:30, so that streak is alive; but after three days in a row of being to bed after 10, I can tell that 10:30 is more of an okay late night than an acceptable every night bedtime.
With that in mind, I'm off to bed so I can think clearly tomorrow.
Sunday, January 22, 2012
What a difference a day makes! When I went out for my run this afternoon, it was 30° F (-1° C) with winds 8 mph from the SSE. During the course of the run, it warmed to 34° F (+1° C). The sun was shining, and the road shoulders were mostly dry.
In light of the dry shoulders, I decided to give my new running shoes their inaugural run. I have worn these shoes only around the house a couple of evenings, the theory being to let the soles adjust to my feet. But I can see the tread on my old running shoes is quite worn, so it's time to break these in.
My bothersome thigh has been bothering me less, so I risked running without ibuprofen. It took about a mile to warm up to where the thigh wasn't noticeable, but that was okay. When I hit the first significant hill, I gave myself permission to run slower. Got to the decision point between a 4.6 to 5.x mile run versus 6+ miles, and decided commiting to 6 miles was foolish. The total run mapped out to 4.88 miles in 37:02, for a 7:35 average pace. It was slower than that on the later part of the run; I got a split at 2.05 miles (before the first significant hill) of 15:07, for a 7:22 pace before slowing for the hills.
I could have added some distance to put it over 5 miles, but declined to do so. As I was approaching my driveway, my concerns were irritating the thigh that is now noticeably better, and breaking in the new shoes slowly enough. It turned out that the thigh was feeling pretty good in spite of skipping the noon dose of ibuprofen; but my forefeet were feeling the effects of breaking in the new shoes. This is no worse than I experienced during 5K training, but it's clear that cutting the distance off where I did was the right call. Never mind that my cardio conditioning would have let me run 6 or 7 miles; cardio is not the limiting factor today.
In other news, yesterday and today I am back at a happy weight. I had put on between 2 and 3 pounds before cutting my calories by 200 per day. In hindsight, I may have underestimated several episodes of free pizza and free donuts. Fortunately, with tax training over I won't have to face those particular temptations for a while.
Now the fitness dance is seeing how slowly I need to add mileage, and when I might need to add the calories back to the diet. I think I can be ready to run a half marathon on April 29; but right now I'm not thinking in terms of being competitive in my age group. That still might happen; but giving in to the testosterone and trying to deliberately make it happen is dangerous.
So first, I think I'll finish breaking in the new running shoes. That should keep my mileage down to where the thigh can keep getting better. Hopefully the shoes will be comfortable about the same time the thigh is totally normal.
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