Sunday, July 15, 2012

Horse Flies (Part 2)

Today, after one Medoc loop I just have a ton of important, new information that you runners and hikers may be interested in.

Medoc horse flies continue to change tactics every trip I'm there.  Today, they were all down by the creek where no air was moving and the heat and humidity is at it's highest.  And rather than the 'mass attack' they launched on my last visit, this time there were a long series of individual assaults.  I'm guessing this battle tactic will be scrapped as I ended the day with 6 confirmed kills and 3 more likely kills!  And my kill count would have been MUCH higher had I not started using my invention . . . but more on that later.

In Part 1 of my blogs on horse flies, I talked about the secret research grant jointly shared by Umstead State Park and Medoc Mountain State Park.  I am now more convinced then ever that there is indeed some sort of secret horse fly breeding program underway.  Four of the kills today were kills of a totally new, HUGE varient of a horse fly that I've never seen before.  This sucker had to be 1" wide at least.  And when one swooped in for the attack, you could hear it plainly and well as feeling the 'prop wash' from his/her wings!  But the good news is that this new variety is slow, probably due to it's huge size.  I'm guessing that this model will not end up as the terrorist weapon, as it is fairly easy to kill due to it's lack of speed and manoverabilty.  But when they do bite you they really take a chunk!  My fear is that with further genetic engineering, they will be able to breed speed and agility into this monster. 

If Park officials are able to successfully accomplish this, summer running as we know it will likely end.  We will be forced to adopt clothing similar to beekeepers.  Even with hi-tech fabrics, these new summer running outfits will be hot and greatly limit air circulation.

The other issue today was the spiders.  Webs as just a nuisance . . . they drive you crazy but they really aren't a problem.  But there is one variety of spider that make these webs across trails that are just plan mean.  They bite!  Hard!  And their bite is every bit as painful as any horse fly. 

I'm going to do some research on exactly what the name of this variety of spiders is called, but you've all probably seen them.  They sit right in the middle of their web and they really don't look like a spider at all.  They look more like a little piece of black leaf . . . irregularly shaped.  These little assholes were just pain eating me up today.

But necessity is truly the mother of invention. 

I picked up a little stick about 15-20" long and started waving it in front of me to tear down the webs as I ran.  This actually worked pretty well!  But when the trail took a turn and went back down to the creek, the horse flies attacked again!  So it was a dual assault . . .  spiders and horse flies teaming up for the sole purpose of making my life miserable.

Since I had the stick in my hand, I started waving it around my legs and arms as well as in front of me.  This proved to be enough movement to keep the horse flies from landing! 


The key is to have a stick long enough to almost reach your shoes, and light enough  to wave in front of you easily.  True . . . you may look a little silly waving this stick around you.  But the alternative is to get eaten alive!

I have mailed in a patent application already . . . so this invention is patent pending!  I've got to come up with a name for this invention!  Something with marketing sizzle so that every runner will want one . . . or more.  I'm thinking I'll paint these in a wide variety of colors to match your running outfit!  At the Medoc Meltdown on August 18th we'll be debuting  these miracle inventions . . . selling for only $10 each and that price includes a individual custom fitting (color version will be just a little more).  So be sure and bring your wallet or purse!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

A time for honesty . . .

My hip doesn't appear to really be getting any better.

There . . . I've said it.

Some days are pretty good.  Other days . . . well . . . it's almost like before my surgery.  Not quite as bad but very similar.  And I'm not feeling improvement.  Things are not getting worse but they certainly are not improving.  The 'tightness' I had been feeling has gotten somewhat better, but the tightness is now being replaced with pain.

I will go back and see my doctor real soon.  He gave me a 2 week supply of Celebrex to try . . . and that did make a significant positive difference.  So I got a prescription and had it filled at my local pharmacy.  When they told me my cost was $237 for a 30 day supply. I just about had a heart attack right there on the spot!  Holy crap!

I didn't get pills.

That cost is just plain obscene and I couldn't bring myself to spend that kind of money!  So I started taking Aleve and that helped too . . . just not as much.  BUT I DON'T LIKE TAKING NSAIDS LONG-TERM!  My personal opinion is they are simply masking the pain . . . the very pain that is telling you there is a problem!  Plus, these pain pills carry a risk to your kidneys.  I'm okay taking NSAIDS for a short duration but not over an extended period of time.

At my last visit to my doctor he suggested that if the Celebrex worked he was thinking maybe we would inject my hip with something!!  Okay . . . HE would do the injection and I'm not exactly sure what medicine he was considering.  He did x-ray my hip and didn't see any issue so he suggested this just may be "scar tissue" causing the problem.

The other thing I keep thinking about is something the doctor told me just after surgery.  He said he saw arthritis in my hip.  That was not good news because there really nothing to do if the arthritis gets worse . . . except a hip replacement.  So I'm wondering if this pain is really simply the arthritis spreading (or whatever it does!).  But I believe arthritis does show up in a normal x-ray and I'm thinking my doctor would have said if he thought the ultimate issue was a progression of the arthritis.

I'm not sure just how far I should go in "chasing this rabbit."  Would the injection stop the pain permanently?  Or is this just another step to isolate the underlying problem?    If it is scar tissue what do we do?  Keep injecting or more surgery?  Is this really arthritis getting worse instead of scar tissue?  Is there REALLY an ultimate solution?  Or do we just say enough is enough.

While I'm "whining" about this hip pain, realistically it's not terrible.  I CAN deal with it.  It's just that this hip pain is causing a continuance to the downward spiral I'm finding my physical condition in.  Less running yields less calories burned, which yields increased body weight, which yields both increased joint stress AND a steeper uphill battle to gain back conditioning.  Both of these yield less running . . .

In recent weeks I have been seeing my conditioning improve some.  Kind of hard to tell with all this hot weather, but I do believe I'm  seeing some gains in strength and endurance.  I feel like if I could do some interval / speed workouts they would make a positive difference but every time I've tried to add speed, I pay the price with significantly increased hip pain later.

I've bought a bike and have roughly been alternating days running and riding.  I'm guessing this is the major reason I'm feeling like my fitness has improved some.  The biking seems to be a good compliment to running even though the muscles used are quite different!  The bike is kicking my ass!  But in a good way.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Horse Flies

This picture doesn't show their fangs.
These guys are just plain MEAN!

Well . . . that's not entirely fair!  If there are any horse flies at all there simply have to be female horseflies too.  And they also must be mean (probably meaner than the male horse fly but in a passive-aggressive way!) 

I wonder why God put them on this earth?  What the hell good do they do?  There must be something . . . some value to our ecosystem.  But I just don't see it.  Apparently, based on my observations they are only present on earth for one reason - to harass humans each summer.  Sure they do harass animals too, but most animals seem more capable of taking their attacks in stride.  People . . . not so much.

Horse flies have their favorite haunts . . . places where they know it will be easy to find people to attack!  Pools and lakes are one of their favorite hunting grounds.  They first just 'glide' in quitely and light somewhere on you . . . usually your head or your back.  Not sure why they go for your hair / scalp but I'm certain they KNOW an attack on your back makes it hard for you to swat them.  They are sneaky, plotting little bastards!  You never know they are there until the chomp down on you, injecting something like alcohol immediately just to make it painful.  Then, the real fun begins for these little asses!

You start swatting at them, you really don't know where the hell they are, you just hear them buzzing around and every once in a while you see a blur as they circle in for another round of attack!  I'm thinking they MAY attack in packs!  All you ever see is one at a time, but the others are behind you, coming in for the kill as one buzzes in front to distract you.

Eventually, there is only one solution you think . . . jump in the water and go under!  Ahh that should outsmart the little bastards!  I'll just hold my breath for awhile and they will think I disappeared and move on to torment someone else!  Brilliant!  So once you come back up for air, you are SURE you've outsmarted them.  Immediately you're attacked again!  The little SOB was just circling . . . waiting for you!

The only way to deal with these little wolves is to go sit in a chair and put a hat on.  That forces them to attack a portion of your body that is visible.  Brilliant!  So eventually one lands and quickly prepare for their meal and you swat . . . hard!  They simply take to the air for a few seconds!  And we humans are too slow to see that they are gone and we can't stop the slap!  So we slap ourselves!  If you don't shout out a cuss word, but instead listen closely . . . you can hear the little bastards laughing!

And don't think insect repellants are of any use.  Actually, it's a little known fact that DEET is an attractor to horse flies!  They LOVE the stuff!  When they smell DEET, it's like us smelling a barbecue . . . we're heading to it!  Even if we aren't invited to eat, maybe we can at least score a free beer or two!

While lakes and pools are easy pickings, sometimes they opt for forest trails where they know a runner will soon come by.  They choose these places because they are bored.  Basically a bunch of horse flies get in a group and just "hang out" together.  Resting and taking it easy.  I'm guessing they probably are drinking some horsefly version of beer or liquor, singing and just having a good ol' lazy time.  Then, when a runner approaches they decide to have some fun!

On the trails, the attacks usually are just a single horse fly!  So I'm thinking they're attacking just to show off to the others!  Good sport!

I love it when I'm in the rear and start to see someone in front of me start yelling and waving their arms like they are a crazy person!  (The reason I love it is two fold . . . first it's just plain funny as hell and second I'm almost laughing cause it's not me the attack has been launched against!)

Sometimes you get "lucky" and one of your wild swats actually connects!  I put the word "lucky" in quotes because unless the swat was lethal, all you've done is now pissed off a drunk horse fly!

The dam little SOB will circle and attack, then circle again and attack, circle and attack, again and again.   You would think he would either get tired flying that far, or he would get dizzy and crash into a tree or something.  But hell no!  The pissed-off, drunk six-legged little wolf bastard will chase you literally for miles! 

Usually this ends badly . . . either for you or the horse fly!  Sometime you get really luck and manage to connect with a swat and kill the little bastard.  But sometimes all your attention being paid to the attack diverts your attention from where it should be . . . the trail.  The result is a human face plant.  I find that usually this seems to satisfy the horse fly and he'll fly off back to the party, laughing all the way.

One NC horse fly coming back to base ofter a mission.
Most folks in North Carolina don't realize that a significant reason why we have such a real issue with horse flies is our state government.  Working together, Medoc Mountain State Park and Umstead State Park have secured a secret research grant from a little known agency of the CIA to develop a new variety of genetically-engineered horse fly to be used as a biological weapon in the war against terror!

And these two parks then use their trails as testing grounds for these nasty little bastards.  So if you do run trails at either of these parks you will be up against some of the biggest, baddest horse flies known to man!  I've heard rumors of horse flies so big they can actually sink the little claws into your head and fly you away to their hidden lairs to be eaten later!  So be extra careful out there!

That is all.

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Littleton, North Carolina
World's Slowest Runner . . . well, at least in contention for the honor. Just your average "below average" runner.