Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Another of Dave's Great Western Adventures

I've been injured before, but this time I'm really feeling like I'm not running anymore. That can't be true. My heart won't accept that. But I can't shake the idea. I think it means that I just haven't had an injury that's taken me out this long in 12 years. So I'm paranoid now.

After 3 weeks of PT, there was not much progress. Of course. Always takes 4 to see improvement from PT. Missed last week with the latest Great Western Adventure and dropped all my homework, with travel and taking care of getting T-Rex back to school. Walking around campus on Thursday and Friday really hurt, but Saturday was better and it's been pretty good since then. It seems like the PT makes my knee hurt. No idea what that means. Amanda and I are going to have a chat tomorrow when I go back. Time to see the doc again?

Speaking of doc, this afternoon I go back for my 3 month follow up on my PSA and A1C tests. Back in January, they both came in on the high side. Doc is pretty conservative, so he didn't want to go all crazy with talk about diabetes and prostate cancer then, but thought we should check again and see where the numbers are going. Although I haven't been able to run since February, I have done much better with my diet (I miss sugar!).

The day before I left last week the siding company called me and asked if we wanted to move ahead our job two weeks, to start the next day. OK. It was all done when I came back.

Before:
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And after:
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The blue was a pretty bold choice, but we really like the way it turned out. We think we should change the color of the fence now, but don't know whether to match the siding, the shutters, or the trim.

I was lousy at taking pictures of the Great Western Adventure, but it was a nice road trip for T-Rex and me. We got up really early on Tuesday and were rolling by 3:30 am. There was a light rain and across Michigan, it alternated between that, some dry spells and a decent band of snow as we neared Lake Michigan and the Indiana border. The good news was that leaving so early got us to Chicago around 6:00 am, before rush hour. And most of the construction we've seen on our previous few runs was complete. We made it all the way to Laramie that night at 9:30 after 20 hours. Once we passed Chicago the weather was great across Illinois, Iowa and Nebraska.  As we got close to Wyoming, we hit some more rain, and then some snow and crazy northern plains wind, gusting 40-50 mph in our faces. A long day for sure, but it was like a good long run. Once you get into a rhythm, you can just keep going.

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The early part of Wednesday was a little dicey, with wind and ice on the road out of Laramie. Once the sun came out and things warmed up a tad, it was fine. At Rock Springs we turned north off the freeway and I was reminded why I love the west so much. Wide open spaces, snow-capped mountains in the distance, no traffic. There were a few cars from time to time. Every once in a while we slowed to go through a small town (populations ranging from a couple hundred to a couple thousand), and then it was like being a cowboy, except we were going 70 mph in a car and there was no horse pucky to step in.

Then we were in the mountains. Just wow. The last 2 hours to Jackson we followed a pickup with a trailer, but it wasn't like the old days. He was going just about the speed I wanted, so I never felt the urge to pass more than a few times, and most of those were because I wanted a better view.
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Had lunch with my youngest brother in Jackson. He worked 20 years for the police department. On retiring (at 45), he was going to take a contract job in Boise, running their evidence locker. Rather than let him go, the Jackson PD offered him the same job with them, plus a sweet deal on state subsidized housing, so they stayed. A few months later, the chief called him into the office and offered him a job as lieutenant (#2 man in their force). Bump in pay, and with a 5 year commitment, he adds 10% to his pension when he retires again. Gold.

From there we hopped over the pass into Idaho, drove by the house in Driggs (pop. 1,660) where the folks lived from 1980-98. Drove on through the next little town of Victor (pop. 2,055) and went to show T-Rex where her uncle Jim is buried. I may have mentioned this before. Jim was 21 when he was killed in the mountains nearby. He made a youthful mistake, riding his snowmobile into the state forest alone. He got into an area that he couldn't get out of on his own, and in his attempts to escape, hurt himself and wasn't able to make it before a snowstorm hit. He froze sometime that night. He was buried just outside Victor in a family plot, with a pretty sweet view.

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In the spirit of family history, we took another small detour to Felt (pop. not published because it's no longer incorporated). My dad was born in one of the homes there and his grandfather (my great) is buried on a bluff next to the river. I'd never seen it, so we meandered a bit until we found it. The cemetery hasn't been in use for a long time, but some of the stones have been maintained or replaced by relatives. Great granddad's marker is still there and in decent shape. It's the dark gray one, just to the left of the fence post about half way across. He's got a nice look at the Tetons as well. I doubt Mrs. Dave will let me get planted here when I go (too far to visit), but I think I could do a lot worse.
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We stayed with my parents in Ammon (pop.15,252) for two nights until T-Rex could move into her apartment. We walked around campus, visited her classrooms to make sure she knew where they were. This is more for Mrs. Dave, but I think T-Rex liked showing me around. We also set up an appointment at the counseling center for her. We've learned that she's going to need more help than we can provide from here, and since there's no plans for a westward move, we're taking advantage of the school's support system. Spent a little while talking with one of my other brothers, who works on campus. Funny how was nomadic as we were growing up, with Dad in the Air Force, that I'm the only one who's not living in either Utah or Idaho.

100kg Lightweight Furniture Dolly Hand Trolley Platform 370x500mm
Met with another brother for lunch. He runs the local Ace Hardware store.

Friday was move in day. Things went so much better this time. For one thing, she picked an apartment close to the door on the first level. I also made a little investment when I was out in December. Five big tubs, one transport trip from the storage area. Genius.

We picked up her roommate at the airport in Idaho Falls and I dropped them off to spend the night in their new digs while I went back to the folks' house. Next day was grocery shopping. I was planning to take all the girls out for dinner that night, but they got an offer from some college guys and I figured they's have more fun with them, so I took them to lunch and then back to IF again.

My original plan was to stay through Sunday, then take a bus to the Salt Lake City airport Monday morning. But with the girls pretty much done with me, I decided to spend the day in Utah with some friends. This change required a crazy 2:40 am (seriously) bus ride. The ride wasn't crazy, but getting there are 2:30 in the morning was. The other, later schedule would have had me getting to SLC at 5:00 pm. As far as I was concerned, it was totally worth it. These are really good friends.

My flights on Monday were all on time. That's sort of crazy, too.

So, other than not being able to run at all - I've been trying for years to run in Wyoming without success - it was a good trip. Fingers crossed that T-Rex can make it.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Well, that didn't go as well as I'd hoped.

So, remember last Friday? I was going to test out the knee on a short run. With my PT's blessing, I should add. How often does that happen? Pretty often, I guess. I'm generally good about following instructions and stuff. I'm a conformist. Sue me.

Anyway, I may have mentioned that I went out for a test run on Saturday. Perhaps I should preface this by saying that most of the time when I try to come back from an injury I start out with just a couple of miles. Sometimes as little as one. And I'll build up very slowly, taking weeks to get up to 4-5 miles at a time.

This time, I took the PT at his word and decided to go crazy with a 4 miler right off the bat. 4 miles. As a test of a knee that's given me problems since the middle of February. So wise. So cautious.
Right.

Fine. I'm an idiot.

First, let me tell about the run. If I remember right, this spring is the opposite of last spring. Didn't we go from winter to early summer in something like two days? The spring of 2018 is over four weeks old and the weatherman is still talking about wind chills and snow accumulation.

Mrs. Dave worked a 12 on Saturday, leaving T-Rex and I to amuse ourselves. I had a couple of things to do. First was my continuing attempts to stop the water leakage in Abby's floor. every time it rains the carpet gets soaking wet. Cars aren't watertight and they'll sink, but I'm reasonable certain that they're designed to keep rain from washing up and soaking your feet just from street splash. This time I removed the driver's seat completely and pulled the carpet all the way back. Still nothing obvious, which is good.
 But where exactly am I supposed to concentrate my anti-moisture efforts? Everywhere, I guess. So I got the industrial size, super strength spray sealer from Home Depot and coated it all down, left it for several hours under a heat lamp and then sprayed it again. It smells bad and will for a few days, but I hope I've gotten enough now that I don't have to change my socks every time I drive in the rain or snow.

Since the siding job has superseded the new tile floor, Mrs. Dave has also pulled ahead some of the smaller jobs in the queue, one of those being new interior paint. The advantage of this is that I can do it even if we have to continue suffering from the winter that won't end. After taking a short four months to decide on a color, she let me buy a couple of gallons of Agreeable Gray. Painting also requires replacing broken or old-looking electrical switches, covers plates and receptacles (back in the day we called them "plugs", later "outlets", and now they're "receptacles" - my, how language evolves). I used to use a lot of tape around trim and the ceiling, but lately I've decided that's too much work for the little mess that can be fixed with some more ceiling and trim paint.

Dining room and living room. The dining room had the chair rail that was all the rage forty years ago, so I had to remove that, sand, fill, clean and prep that area. And of course cover all the holes from assorted wall hangings that are no longer hanging in both rooms. The painting itself is the fastest and easiest part. Turned on Amazon Prime to Doctor Who and let Matt Smith and Karen Gillan serve as background. The living room was a sage before and it was weird to see it look so different from the same color I used in the dining room while I was painting and letting it dry. Thought maybe I'd gotten a mixed batch for a while there.

After a quick trip to Kroger for bottle returns and grocery shopping, the sunny day had warmed up to nearly 40 degrees, with a chilly wind. So, I went with tights and double shirts. It wasn't terrible comfortable, but I was running. I was slow, but I was running. I took almost 40 minutes to go 4 miles, but I was running. That means a lot. Around the end of the second mile, I felt a little bite from Louie, but it didn't stay, so I kept going, ready at any moment to shut down and walk home. Didn't happen.

About now, you're probably thinking that this was a glorious day, I'm going to call the doc and the PT, cancel the rest of my appointments, and submit my entry to the Vermont Marathon.

While I will admit to having a thought or two about jumping back into training - heck I've done marathons on less mileage - by the time I made it back to the house my thighs reminded me why I began taking such good care to add miles slowly. I knew the PT was nuts for saying 4-5 miles was OK to test. I'm in no shape to run 4-5 miles after zero miles in the last six weeks. DOMS was coming, and coming hard.

But, first, there was this thing with the knee. Nothing more went on as I finished the run and sat to post on Strava/FB. I'd forgotten to charge Hal, who's been languishing in the bottom of the bag since February 15, so I strapped on the phone and Strava'd the run. Feeling pretty good about myself and Louie's inner aspect.

Then I took a shower.

Then I had dinner. 

Then the knee started to hurt. Within 20 minutes the pain went from a zero to a seven. Standing and walking were bad. Just sitting wasn't great. Rats.

Hurt the rest of Saturday evening and all day Sunday. The only distraction was the pain in my thighs from running four miles when I was ready for maybe half that. Seriously, the level of pain and number of days this hurts is like I ran a marathon. Crazy. Today I'm mostly recovered from that, but the knee is still bad. 

At PT yesterday, the Amazing Amanda worked mostly on my back, which was all screwed up. I've known that for awhile, actually, so I sort of had that as an ulterior motive for being happy the MRI wasn't approved. But she doesn't know what to do about the knee. She taped it, but that's done nothing. Worse, if anything. I've give it the rest of the day. It's OK just sitting, but walking is not. I need one more week before I can call the doc to re-order the MRI. Progress so far with PT is exactly none. There is definitely something seriously wrong down below. There may be some cutting in my future.

Good thing I cancelled my marathon plans for the whole year.

Anyway, I hope your training is all going well. I see some spring races happening out there. And next Monday is Boston Marathon Monday. Looks like my return to Beantown is likely to be postponed to 2020.

Friday, April 6, 2018

Test, test, test. Is this thing on?

Round #4 of PT on Thursday.

Last day they have me in the early AM (6:30). The desk finally understands my insurance. No, I do not have a copay. No, I do not pay you any money until it's passed through the black hole that is Blue Cross-Blue Shield. Then send me a bill.

Last time I work with John. John's the facility director. Looks more like an actor than a PT. In fact, he's done some acting. Local stuff. Told me a story about a friend who called him one day to help with a 48-hour film contest. They get a set of genres to choose from, then have 48 hours to write, cast, produce, film and edit a short movie. John played a cop. He thinks they'd have won, except the producer misread the instructions and had them edit the show to ten minutes. It was supposed to be seven minutes. John's friend happened to notice this on a review of the instructions before he left to turn in their entry. They had 3 hours to edit the additional three minutes, then drive across town to turn it in. Missed the deadline by 5 seconds. Don't know what happened to the producer.

John's a great PT though. Knows his stuff. This is taking much less time than I expected. Second day without the knee sleeve and no pain.

Wednesday afternoon, we drove T-Rex up to see her shrink, see how's she's doing and get her meds set before she goes to back school (week after next!). Haven't been through that area in awhile. It's where a few of my long runs go. 14-20 miles long, so I don't get out there unless I'm doing serious mileage. Every corner, overpass, intersection I had running visions passing through my head. You know them. Any sort of run - good, bad, hot, rainy, OSOM. You can almost feel your stride and the texture of the road under your feet. Smell the rain or the flowers. Oh, to be on those roads again, grinding it out, looking ahead to the taper and the next race.

I mention this to John. "You're really jonesing for a run, aren't you?" He has no idea, not being a runner himself (I try not to hold that against him), but he's seen it before, I'm sure. "Maybe if the knee feels OK this weekend you can try a short run."

"What's 'short'?" I ask. I don't want to sound crazy. "A mile or two?"

"I'd say that for most people, but you probably can go 4-5 as long as it doesn't hurt."

I quit dancing in the 90's, but if ever I came out of retirement, it would have been then. In my head, there was a happy dance happening.
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I'll do four.

I will also be removing the driver's seat in Abby, because I'm still tracking down the leak in the floorboard. My nightmare lately has been that I'm going to find a large section that's rusted through - too big to repair and I'll have to buy a new car. Not excited about that, since we're spending a bucketload of cash on new siding this month. Maybe I should set up a GoFundMe page for Dave's new ride.

And, of course, since I'm thinking about running tomorrow, I keep feeling my knee and I'm sure it's going to hurt and I won't be able to get to the end of the block before I have to walk home.

Runners are weird, I guess.

Monday, March 26, 2018

Who is this Old Guy?

I'm sitting here at the house, nearly at the end of eight days home alone. Mrs.Dave and T-Rex are in Seattle, checking in on Big Mac and Mrs. Dave's parents. Old Vern's getting to the point (at 88) that there's no guarantees he'll be around next year or next month or even next week. Since we live so far away, it's best to make the opportunity rather than wait for a convenient time to visit. The next time may well be the last.

Normally, I'd take this time to do a couple of things. First, of course, I'd run a bunch. The plan, as you know, was to be in heavy build up for a spring race. I was excited about Vermont. But the knee says, "I don't think so."

The other thing - and I feel like I'm repeating myself all the time. Pretty sure everyone who reads the Dave blog knows what the other thing is - I do is fix things up around the house. Unless one of the cars needs repair. I was going to paint some but that's on hold since I'm not authorized to pick colors and Mrs. Dave is out of town. When she left eight days ago, I thought we'd decided on something, but in between then and the time I let her know I was on my way to Home Depot to get paint, she'd gotten some more opinions about colors and wasn't sold on the color we'd agreed. Fortunately I only have one room, stripped, primed and ready for paint, so there hasn't been too much wasted time.

Saturday I spent the morning helping a friend with his roof. There were a few others there as well. We stripped off most of the old shingles. Fun work. Then a couple of guys went over to strip the detached garage while I stayed with a young kid to finish the house. The last  three feet had been put on that special moister barrier, with the shingles glued solidly on. That was a lot of scrapping, pulling, and tearing - some of it on my butt, and some of it on my knees. After about two hours of that, we finally finished. I was going to go help with the garage for the last 45 minutes I had to give, but my lower back decided that 59 years old was too old to spend two hours kneeing and leaning on a roof. Give me marathon pain any day, kids. I could barely move the rest of the weekend.

On the plus side, my knee hasn't bothered me nearly as much since Friday.

Speaking of the knee, I have my first appointment with PT tomorrow morning at 6:30. I've even thought that I could cancel, since my knee hasn't hurt the last two days, but it's still not right and I may as well have someone professional look at it.

Frankly, I'd rather he look at my back. Ouch.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Rejected. Twice.

First I get rejected by NYCM (again), then I get rejected by Blue Cross.

I suppose both of these were to be expected. Thanks to ubiquitous marketing for this year's 2018 New York City Marathon lottery, the chances of getting into the race by that avenue were longer than ever. RW says the number of applications were up 7% (to 105K+), and less than 15% were drawn. That's down 1.5% from the year before. Can someone tell me, if the lottery is no longer a money maker for NYCM, why spend all that marketing money to get so many more runners than they could possibly accept to apply? I get the field cap. That's normal and important for any race so logistics, security, traffic, supplies, medical support, and everything else can be planned. But if you're only going to let 15K in, why the heck do you want TEN TIMES that number applying? It made a perverse capitalistic sort of sense when they collected (what was it - $10-20?) cash from every applicant. This doesn't.

Then my MRI appointment tonight was cancelled. Apparently, Blue Cross doesn't think I'm injured enough. I think the doc tried to pass it through by listing "acute meniscus tear" as the diagnosis. Nope. Four weeks of PT before they'll consider paying for the test. As a good capitalist myself, I understand the cost-conscious policy. Frankly, I was surprised to see "acute" on my chart, which is why I think he was sand-bagging it a little. At any rate, the last two days the knee has felt (finally) pretty good, so perhaps in this case, BC's policy is actually saving them (and me) the money it was designed to.

When Mrs. Dave left to visit her folks with T-Rex, leaving me to fend for myself for a week and a half, I thought we had agreed on colors for me to paint one of the guest bedrooms and the living and dining rooms. I called from Home Depot to confirm and suddenly there's no agreement. Now, we're looking at an entirely new palette (ever hear of "greige"? apparently it's the latest thing) to consider, and the job now includes every room on the lower level. But it's on hold until they get back and she can pick out the final color. I am still removing the wallpaper from below the chair rail in the dining room, so there's that.

In the last two days I've seen the new Tomb Raider and (at last) Black Panther. Liked them both, TR slightly less and BP quite a bit more than I expected.

I also discovered The Expanse on Amazon Prime and am working my way through Season One.

I'd rather be running.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Bad Knee. 50 State Map.




Speaking of not running, that's me. I was able to get into a knee guy on Tuesday. Only had to wait a few days, so that was a win right there. First they took some x-rays, then an intern came in and twisted my knee around some. He thought it was the inside meniscus and maybe they'd have to scope inside there and clip off some damaged tissue. Then the real doc looked at it, poked, prodded, turned and torqued things some more, then ordered an MRI. The x-ray looked fabo, with zero sign of damage either from a trauma or arthritis (always a possibility when the knees get as old as mine, I guess). Now I have to wait for another week and a half to get into the MRI machine. Those things have to generate billions of dollars for hospitals. They cost a fortune to run the tests and run 24 hours a day, yet they staff the place like it's the DMV. I waited 15 minutes just to get a receptionist on the phone.

Anyway, in the meantime I continue with my resting. And officially have written off a spring race.

IMG_0953.thumb.JPG.adad4246c7724318c52e4c4ccc62dcb3.JPGI've had in mind a new display idea for my (hopefully) continuing marathon finishes. Big Mac (DD1) bought me the perfect gift on my birthday, and I've been tossing different setups around in my head since January. I looked for several weeks, trying to find the perfect frame. Once I did, Mrs. Dave made me wait 3 days before buying it, like I was getting a handgun. She's convinced I always buy things on impulse. 

Don't know where she got that. I finally ordered it, then three days later it came on the UPS truck. Except it was the wrong one! I sent a note through Amazon to the seller (turned out to be a place not far from here in Michigan), explaining that they'd sent me a different size of frame that wasn't even the right style or anything. I guess it was the right color. The next day they replied to my email, asking for pictures.

Really. So I sent them pictures and another nice note. Five more days went by with no word, so I called and talked with a lovely woman who said she'd send out the correct frame right away. So, how do I send this one back? "Keep it," she said. It costs more to pay shipping on a return than was worth it. OK. Now I have two frames, one of which is the one I want.

Took a few more days to get it all put together. I can continue to add bars as I move towards getting all 50.

Here are some closer shots.
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Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Bouncy Ball Trauma

Remember when I used to write every day? Seems crazy now. Maybe it was crazy back then, too, at least to everyone else.

Still not running.

However, there's progress at last. Today is the third day in a row where there's been little or no pain at the MCL site. Not going to run until at least Saturday, and that will only be something really short, testing things out. This morning I sort of felt something on my way down the stairs, letting me know that this isn't over just yet.

Speaking of Saturday, this weekend is the 2018 Snowbuster Festival of Virtual Races. Hope everyone who isn't hurt is planning their runs. Send me a note with your results by next Wednesday (that's a sort of soft deadline, of course).

The drain repair went well on Saturday. I made only one trip to the Home Depot - no mean feat in itself. I'd already cut out the side wall of the cabinet to investigate and saw what I was going to need. Coupler/Adapter, length of PVC, elbow, adapter to connect to the drain. Figured to re-use the old j-pipe and I've had primer and cement in the basement, left over from previous plumbing work. Sometimes it pays not to throw out leftovers.

Getting much leverage with a saw was a challenge, so I used my Dremel to cut the old copper pipe most of the way through, as far as I could reach. There wasn't much clearance behind it to the wall, so when I got to a certain point, there was no angle that worked. Hacksaw for the last inch. My elbow had a slightly different angle than the old one, but it was close enough with some adjustment of the trap from the sink. I'd say the only nasty part of this was cleaning out the old one, with had a 1/8" of sludge in it. Anything to avoid an extra trip to HD, amiright? Things went together easily after that. Screwed on the coupler, cut and glued the elbow and adapter (after checking the measurements 3-5 times), tightened all the other connections and ran the water. No leaks!

One of the first things I noticed when I opened the side of the cabinet was a pair of small rubber balls on the floor. If you can picture with me these custom cabinets, you can imagine my surprise at finding anything inside this absolutely (apparently) closed off section in the corner of the kitchen. A mystery for another day, I thought, putting them on the counter.

About an hour later, T-Rex came downstairs. I've been up, eaten breakfast, fixed the drain, and cleaned everything up by then, because college student. Suddenly, she squealed, "My bouncy balls! Where did you find my bouncy balls? I lost these when I was five!"

WTH? My daughter is on drugs.

One of her games back in the day was taking her handful of little rubber balls, tossing them across the floor and chasing them down. Like playing fetch with your dog. Unnoticed by me all this time is a gap underneath the cabinet where it hangs over the floor. A gap just large enough for a tiny little bouncy ball with the right amount of speed at the proper angle to pop through and behind the wall. Suddenly, all my daughter's emotional issues have been explained. Trauma from the lost bouncy ball.


Me, I'm just working through the trauma of an old runners' injury, wondering if this is the final nail in the coffin. Do I need to keep placeholders in my display for future marathons or am I done? Will there be another Boston, or was 2016 my one moment of glory? Was my last marathon ever that hamstring plagued party in Rehoboth? Brooding. Moody.

That's how I roll.

Another of Dave's Great Western Adventures

I've been injured before, but this time I'm really feeling like I'm not running anymore. That can't be true. My heart won&#...