Sunday, May 01, 2011
Ok, I have never had an abundance of common sense. On Saturday, April 16th I step in hole on running down Webster pass. My left knee exploded in pain. I got an MRI. The orthopedic surgeon told me my left ACL was partially torn. She told me no running, biking or working on an elliptical. She told me to lay off the knee for 4 to 6 weeks.
This is a photo of Webster pass road. One of these holes got me.
For two weeks I was good boy. I didn't take a single running step. I did nothing strenuous. My knee was healing nicely. But April 30th was the Long Scraggy race. The Long Scraggy is not just any race. For me, it is the coolest race in the history of races! The people that run the Long Scraggy are cool. They are high-altitude mountain runners. They are fit, friendly and modest. I know them on a first name basis.
I think that sign accurately shows the profile of the 4.25 mile course.
The Long Scraggy has two events. One event is a 4.25 mile run over brutally hilly terrain. The other event is a 1.5 mile walk. When I packed my race bag on Friday I really intended to do the 1.5 mile walk. In retrospect, I think this may have been self-delusional.
On Saturday morning I got dressed in my running stuff. When I got to the Long Scraggy Ranch I noticed that the walkers were wearing hiking boots and long pants. The runners were dressed like me. I told the race organizer, my friend John, that I had a bad knee. I asked if it would be OK if I walked the 4.25 mile course. John was cool with that.
I warmed up a bit and the knee seemed to be working well. I jogged a bit and the knee felt fine.
See, I was being good! The race started late. We call it being on Mountain time. Mountain time is not a time zone. Mountain time is very relaxed attitude. We all ambled up to the starting line. I am standing behind the runners with the walkers. I am standing right by a lady with a baby stroller and dogs on leashes.
You can guess what happened next. John said, "Go!" All the runners took off like a shot. And so did I! I really didn't mean to do that. I couldn't help myself. The first part of the course is relatively flat for 1/4 mile . I am slowly jogging along thinking I will break into a walk pretty soon. I am dead last by a long ways. No worries. I have 20 very good runners in front of me that all have good knees. I am feeling pretty good. My left knee feels fine.
We all turn left and start climbing the hill. The hill is 1.4 miles long with a 20% grade. I am really poking along. Then, to my surprise, I pass a couple of people. I glance down at my Garmin, which I shouldn't have been wearing anyway. I am running at a 9:05 min/mile pace! Holy smoke! I pass a few more runners. This was not part of the plan. I am getting a little twinge from the knee but nothing serious.
This is a monster. Photos don't do it justice.
At the top of the hill we turn onto the Colorado trail. This segment is rocky with tree roots. I really throttle back to a crawl. I cannot afford to trip. I run this segment at a 13 minute per mile pace. I have to gingerly have to step over rocks and roots.
Colorado trail - my knee is saying "stop".
After the trail segment we get back on the road. Here comes a dreaded downhill segment. I start moving slowly down the hill.
I am concentrating to make sure my foot strike is gentle and mid-foot.
I know that a single heavy left heel strike and it is sayonara to my left knee. The knee is protesting this treatment. I am paranoid that the knee is going to buckle. I start walking down the hill. I know that any minute I am going to get passed. During a mountain race you have to take advantage of downhill and flat segments. Last year I hit 5 minutes per mile down the hills. Ain't going to happen this year. I walk a bit and jog a bit. I really want to rock-and-roll down these hills. I just can't do it. I look behind me. There is no one there! I am all alone nursing my knee.
I know I am stupid. When I told my wife I was going to do the Long Scraggy she asked, "Are you out of your mind?" I reply, "Is that a rhetorical question, or do you want an answer?"
As I am jogging down the last hill there are a couple of walkers taking photos. One of them snaps a shot of me and shouts, "Great form!" I know I am a poster child for smooth gait right then.
Here is the home stretch. I am trying to run down this hill without blowing my knee to kingdom come.
Here is the home turn. I am almost there and the knee just might make it.
Running toward the finish line. Just one last hazard. I have to miss these holes.
I run toward the finish line. My friends that finished ahead of me are cheering me on. I cross the finish line. John's wife has the stop watch. She shouts, "43:39". I look around and count the runners. There are 7 of them. I am in 8th place! That is a 10:09 minute per mile pace! John asks me, "How is the knee?" I smile and lie, "It is the only part of me that doesn't hurt."
Last year my time was 42:56. So what does this all mean? I am faster uphill this year. My down hill pace this year was 7 minutes per mile. Last year my down hill pace was 5 minutes per mile. I think I would have been a lot faster with a good left knee.
I am also very dangerous to myself.
After the race I asked john for a baggie with ice. He got me the ice. I sat there with ice on my knee listening to the Mountain Holler Blue Grass band and feeling very relieved that I could still walk.
Mountain Holler blue grass band.
The guy on the left is John. He is the race organizer. The guy on the right is John my running buddy. I am slower than little John and faster than big John.
The woman with the bib is a runner named Marsha. The woman in the blue is John's wife Sharon.
I still think this race has a cool name.
This is the race t-shirt. Proverbs 4:12 - " When you walk, your steps will not be hampered; when you run, you will not stumble" Good thing for me!
Ice and elevate. Next Saturday I may run the Lake George, "Flatlander". Unfortunately, the Lake George race is not flat.
Saturday, April 23, 2011
Recap: On April 17th I went for a run up Webster pass in Colorado. On the way back down the hill I stepped in a big hole with my left leg. My knee immediately started to hurt and didn't work well.
Deadly holes on Webster pass.
I got an MRI yesterday and had an appointment with an orthopedic specialist today. I figured I go running before my appointment but it was snowing.
This is the view from my front door. The snow is still coming down!
I go down to see the specialist. She has the results of the MRI. She comes in the room and asked how I hurt my knee. I give her the story of the hole in the road. She grabs my knee and starts doing things to hurt me. She moves my lower leg left, right, up and down. She pushes and pulls on my knee. She watches my reaction to see when I would wince. She then gave an evil smile and put her hand on the inside of the knee and gave a mighty pull! My knee explodes! She gives a triumphant smile and says, "I thought so. I just wanted to confirm my suspicion." I screw up my face and wipe the tears out of my eyes, "And what suspicion is that, pray tell?" She looks very concerned, "Your ACL is torn. But not all the way through". I look her right in the eye, "I have a race next Saturday. This the first mountain race of the season. Will I be able to run?" She gives me a long face, "NO, your knee is badly injured. " I reply, "The race is the Long Scraggy and it is only 4.25 miles." She is a mean lady, "You are lucky you can walk. You absolutely cannot run!" I am thinking, "I was a lot better before you wrenched on my knee." She continues, "You have to baby that knee. You need to stay off it. You need to ice it. The whole knee is inflamed. You may be able to run some races later this year if you take care of the knee." I ask her, "Can I ride a bike or workout on an elliptical?" She is getting exasperated, "No, you can't put any strain on that knee." I make a face, "I need to train for the race up Mount Evans in June." She answers, "You look like you are in pretty good shape already!" I reply, "Not good enough. It is a tough race." She looks at my chart. Then she drops a bombshell, "Given your age, you are not going to heal quickly." I admit I am a bad patient. I ask her, "How long is it going to take. " She says, "I don't know. Four to six weeks maybe."
She gives me instructions on what I need to do. She tells me to wear a knee brace and take 2 Tylenol three times a day. She tells me to use ice and really baby the knee.
I am very disappointed.
Thursday, April 21, 2011
I decided to go to the doctor about my left knee I injured while running on Webster pass on Sunday. Big mistake! I pretty much thought the knee was getting better. The swelling had gone down. The knee wasn't as a purple and I could bend it. Still the knee was crunching and popping a bit. I tried to work out on my elliptical. After 10 minutes the knee exploded in pain. Rats!
Against my better judgment I made an appointment for 5:00pm on Wednesday.
Enter the doctor. He asked, "What happened?" I replied, "Left knee hurts a bit." He tugged on it for awhile and asked, "Didn't you notice that tibia rotates independently of your femur?" I asked, "In English doc?" He looked grave, "I think your meniscus is OK." I leaned forward, "I guess that is good. What about the other parts." I will paraphrase what he said in non-medical terms, "Your knee is destroyed!" That is not what he actually said. He used words like, "Torn, ligaments, PCL, slow healing, MRI and arthroscopic surgery." I used words like, "No way, and cold day in hell"! I told him I have a race on April 30th and need to train. He told me, "Not happening. You need to ice the knee, rest and elevate. I can give you something for the pain. I can write a referral to an orthopedic surgeon." At that point I am shell-shocked. He scribbles on a pad and hands me some papers. He tells me, "Here is a script for pain killers, a referral to an orthopedic surgeon and an order for an MRI." I have known my doctor for 17 years. He gets serious, "Bruce, you need to go get that knee fixed." I humor him, "Ok doc, I will." He says, "You better - I am going to call Annette (my wife)"! Darn! He is ratting me out!
I ain't going to no saw-bones. I know from personal experience the knee is fine. The knee pops and crunches but I think that is normal. I have been abusing my knees for 40 years. There is bound to be some noise from my protesting knees. I worked out on the elliptical this morning and the knee was pretty much OK. I can't run yet but I am going to give that a shot over the weekend.
In the meantime I got to stay on track with my nutrition and workout my good body parts. I did buy a few more ice bags. I don't need any pain killers. I am really trying not to feel sorry for myself.
Thanks for reading my blog.
Monday, April 18, 2011
I need to do some high-altitude training. I decided to run up Webster Pass. I decided I would run up the road until I ran into impassable snow drifts. This road is good training for the Mount Evans race. Webster Pass is relentlessly uphill. I ran about 10 miles. The road started at 8,500 feet. Managed to get to 10,200 feet. This is about a 15% grade.
This is the sign. Webster pass is closed. I am going to try to get as high up as I can.
I really wasn't planning on shooting a moose. Moose pretty much mind their own business. I am puzzled by the $1,370 fine. Add 30 bucks and make it an even $1,400. I have seen moose in the wild. They are big!
The road is steep and rocky. What else is new?
These puddles are one degree above freezing.
Hit snow at about 4 miles.
I got another mile up the road until I could go no further. I ran into a guy snowshoeing. He said to me, "No one should have that much energy. Well done!" I was hurting pretty badly at that point. I did like the compliment.
I stepped into one of these holes an - POW - my left knee went bye-bye. My wife looked at this photo and said, "Those holes look like you could easily have missed them." I said, "Yeah, I there were 700 holes and a missed 699!"
I still had 2 miles to go when my left knee got wiped out. I decided to just keep running and not baby my left knee. It hurts pretty badly now. I have iced it. I can't even climb stairs. Not good.
Thanks for reading my blog.
Sunday, April 17, 2011
I generally blog about running. I need to start hitting the weights. So this is a blog is about weight training. Or rather, how my wife, Annette, got started lifting weights. My wife is frugal to say the least. When I go to the grocery store for a few things it costs me a minimum of $100. I find things at the store I didn't even know I needed. She doesn't let me go to the store often. Annette can by a tremendous amount of food for very little money. She buys healthy stuff and she cooks highly nutritious meals. She is a little fitness and health demon.
About 12 years ago my wife started going to a personal trainer named Lisa. Lisa taught my wife how to lift weights. Annette decided to get her own weight set. She went down to Play it Again Sports. She bought a weight set with a barbell, curl bar and dumbbell bars. She still has them.
This is modestly priced 110 pound iron weight set. She paid $80 for the set. This set is a lot of bang for the buck.
She also bought a brand new weight bench for $50.
She found a set set of dumbbells on clearance for $29.95. These included 3, 5 and 8 pound weights.
Her total investment was:
She has used these weights for 12 years, which works out to $13 per year.
She also took up bike riding. She grabbed an old Magna bike that we had bought for one of our sons . He had out grown the bike many years ago. Because kids grow so quickly we didn't spend a lot of money on kid bikes. The original price was $79 at Target. The 18 speed bike had only two gears that worked. The brakes were terrible. The thing weighed 40 pounds. She didn't mind because she said she liked the heavy bike to get a good workout.
This is a new model Magna. $99 at Target. $99 is a terribly high price for this pile of junk. It has been recalled because the handle bars fall off.
I decided to start riding. I bought a new Giant Boulder SE for $325 and could beat my wife's bike seven ways from Sunday.
This bike has an alloy frame and good components. $325 was a great deal.
I bought Annette a new bike for her birthday. She picked out a Specialized Myka Expert. Bikes are one of those items that for a few more bucks you get a lot better components. For $625 she had a great bike. (BTW - that is huge discount -list was $940) I almost had to force her to allow me to spend that much money on a bike.
She loves this bike and has got a million miles on it. My advice is don't go cheap on a bike. She rides mountain passes and long trails. Having a bike break down 30 miles into the wilderness is no fun! A good bike is a must. We also take our bikes in yearly for a tune-up.
Now, having a streak of tool man Tim Taylor, I turned my attention to the home gym. I bought a complete gym with elliptical trainer, smith rack, leg press machine and olympic weight set.
Here is the smith rack with olympic weights. Everything on this smith rack is ball bearing with forged components. This is very rugged stuff. Again, cheap is not an option. I bought the floor model and got a hefty discount.
Here is the squat rack. Strong legs make you a better runner.
This inclined bench was a good deal.
The leg press machine is safe and easy to use.
Dumbbells - lots of dumbbells.
The cost for all the equipment we have now was about $4,000, including $1,000 for a Kettler elliptical trainer.
After 1o years and 1,000s of hours this machine is still smooth as silk and works perfectly. When it is cold and snowy we can still get a good cardio workout.
Along the lines of "more power" I recently bought a specialized Stumpjumper Comp for $1,600.
This bike has hydraulic disk brakes and fork lockout. I needed a great bike like this one to keep up with Annette.
I guess if there is a point to this blog is that you can spend whatever you want for fitness equipment. You want to get good value for your money. Annette loves her Myka bicycle, she uses the Kettler elliptical for cross-training and she digs the home gym. I read that the world-wide market for fitness equipment is $12 billion. I think I spent most of that myself!
Thanks for reading my blog.
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