Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Final foot update . . .

Just a quick update on my recovery from this last foot surgery.

Basically everything seems to be going great!  Only a little pain now.  The most troubling issue is the remaining foot numbness . . . essentially the whole foot is numb on the surface.  What can't the numbness continue deeper into the bones!!  Hahaha!  This really isn't a problem . . . it's just that it feels weird and gross to tough my foot . . . like putting lotion on that foot just about grosses me out!

I can walk with very little pain.  My longest walk so far has been 3.1 miles.  I ran a few steps and that didn't seem to cause me any additional pain.  This week my doctor has cleared me to run as I feel I can, but I'm taking it slow.  Okay . . . I always go slow!  That's not a news flash!

I'm still not wearing normal shoes.  I've tried it a few times but my foot starts to hurt after an hour or so. But wearing these Luna sandals with fleece tabby socks works just fine really.

So I plan to start 2015 running . . . and walking.  I've entered the Resolution Run 5k on New Years Day . . . I'll walk the vast majority since I haven't run more that 200 yards since surgery!  But I'll try to walk fast and run when I can.  We'll see what happens!  One step at a time.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Cleared to walk!

Yesterday was my first day cleared to try and walk normally!  And honestly walking normally wasn't a problem to do.  No physical therapy needed!!

Went to the Y to be with my Nooners buds. . . Andy, Carol, Joe and me!  My surgeon wanted me to keep my walks to no more than a mile and I was all about following his directions precisely. 

My friends let me set the pace since they knew I was very limited in what I could do!  I started with a decent pace (maybe a 20 minute mile pace) and stopped at one mile exactly!  Just like my doctor said!   Unfortunately that was about 1/2 mile from the Y so I just walked on back.  Let's call it a 1 mile walk with a cool down!  Sweet!

By the end I could feel some foot pain but not bad at all.  And today I feel fine all things considered!

Oddly . . . my toe has shrunk!

Not a huge amount but definitely noticeable. Without a doubt mt days of being a foot model are now behind me!  Unless of course there is a need for a model of weird looking feet!

But all things are looking pretty good right now.  I am limited to short walks through December but then maybe I'll be able to extend the distance some and increase the pace to an actual run!!  Hopefully so.

I seriously doubt if I'll be doing any long distance running again.  Maybe I will be able to . . . but most likely those days are gone.  Oddly . . . I'm not missing them though!  I believe it will be fun to keep my runs to 5-6 miles maximum.  Start running 5ks again!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

What a weekend!

This last weekend was my 65th birthday weekend and for months Connie and I had made plans to go to the beach for an extended weekend.  Going to be a blast!  We were going to drive down Saturday morning and come back Tuesday.

Since we were going to be gone anyway, Connie offered James (our semi son), our "daughter in law" Cheryl and "grand daughter" Emily, the use of our lake house while we were gone.  James was ending his current job that Friday and a weekend away sounded great to them.

Last Monday, Connie told me she had talked to James and they wanted us to come to Raleigh Friday night to celebrate my birthday with them.  He said Emily was really excited.

Now I LOVE seeing all them- and am always hoping for a visit, but since it was the night before we were going to the beach, it just seemed like too much to try and work in.  Connie "called" them back, but they said Emily was really disappointed, and she thought we should go anyway . . . so, I agreed.

Connie and I spent two days cleaning up the lakehouse.  Now . . . truth is it NEEDED a good cleaning and Connie did most of the work anyway!  Friday I was freaking out doing the final things and Connie called and asked if I could pick her up at 1:30 as she needed to go by Great Outdoor Provision Company and look for a jacket, and our daughter Laurie was going to actually get it in Vail where she gets a  discount.  So . . . I finished up as best as I could and went to pick her up.  On the way to Raleigh, Laurie called to apologize for not sending me a birthday card in time.

Connie and I got to Great Outdoor and started trying on coat after coat.  Probably 5 or 6.  I was hanging up the most recent coat she didn't like, and a guy behind me asked if we needed any help.  I said, "No thanks!  We're just looking . . . " and turned to look at him.  It was my son Michael, who was supposed to be in San Antonio, TX, after spending the week in DC for his job!  Turns out he had planned to finish in DC , and took the train down to Rocky Mount the night before!  Wow!  What an awesome surprise!  So great seeing him!!  Guess Connie's and my weekend was going to include him too!  His new wife Aly is a volleyball coach for Trinity University and she couldn't come since they had their conference tournament this weekend (and yes . . . they won their conference and now it's on to the regionals!)

Michael said Cheryl and Emily were waiting for us at the Village Draft House, and James would meet us later.  Since I'm having trouble walking very much right now, Michael said he would drive me, but Connie said she would walk.

Michael let me out in front of the restaurant and Connie came walking up about the same time.  But she walked up to one of the outside tables where a young lady was sitting by herself with her back to me.  I walked up and the lady turned around and said "Hi Dad!"

That's right . . . my daughter Laurie was there!  She had flown in from Vail, Colorado for the weekend!

Laurie, Emily and the weekend's rock star . . . Connie!
Emily and Laurie at breakfast Sunday.
Turns out James, Cheryl and Emily really were planning to come to the lake . . . but we were all going to be there together again!!  Connie had been planning this for months!  So many lies!  So much stupidity on my part!

And Connie had Allen Hinnant, a good running buddy of mine and professional photographer to come take every one's picture Saturday morning. After the photo session was over, they had a boat trip planned to go have lunch at our family's favorite waterside restaurant, so we piled the blankets on and away we went for a great time.  All Emily asked was that we go "REALLY, REALLY FAST!!" . . . and so we did!

Saturday night they planned a big dinner of beef and chicken teriyaki and birthday cake!  But this wasn't going to be just ANY birthday cake.  This was going to be a super Rainbow Cake . . . a family tradition in Connie's family . . . and now ours!  Normally each layer of the cake is a bright color and the cake is iced with a creamy, super sweet pastel green, yellow or blue icing!!

But this cake was totally unique.  Connie had baked 65 little colored  rectangular cakes, which she, Laurie, Cheryl and Emily put together with green, blue and yellow  icing to make a HUGE cake! It took 2  hours to finish the  masterpiece after many hours of baking the days before.

Cheryl. Emily and Connie hard at work!

Laurie, Emily and Cheryl putting the beast together!!

Chief Engineer Connie and assistant Laurie

Cheryl, Michael and James trying to set fire to our house!!

Of course "Bubba Teeth" had to play a key role!
Every slice was different and had multiple colors!  So cool!

Cheryl and Emily. . . could they be more awesome?

Michael and Emily . . . these two are just about inseparable!!

Have a "slice" of Rainbow Cake!

So beautiful . . . and it tastes damn good!!
So . . . now I've had 65 birthdays.  Some better than others. But without a doubt . . . this one was the best ever!  Nothing like having your family (except Aly) all together with you for some awesome family time!  It was PERFECT!  Thanks to everyone but especially Connie for making it all happen!

65 and counting!

Monday, November 3, 2014

Here is the first view . . .

Okay I got my unveiling today and honestly the toe/s look better than I expected.  I'll just show the x-ray today as the toes need to be cleaned up and I can't do that until tomorrow.  They took my stitches out today (about 20-25) and the doctor said to wait a day before I clean everything up.  But he was pleased with what he saw and said everything seems to be healing nicely.  I still have to keep all weight on my heel for another month.  Not a problem for me to do since it hurts like hell when I happen to put a little pressure on it!

So here is what the x-ray looks like.  The operation was on my 5th toe (little toe).  You can see my new screw and you can see where he cut off the head of my metatarsal.  You can sort of see how he joined my 4th and 5th toes together but I'll post a picture tomorrow.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

I simply can't wait!

I feel like a kid waiting for Christmas to see what Santa brought him / her!

But I'm not getting any presents.  No . . . this coming Monday I get to see my new toe / toes! 

I'm having trouble imagining what this new digit is going to look like.  All I know is that the surgeon said he webbed my 5th toe to my 4th toe for support.  When we were talking about what he was going to do in the surgery, this was enough for me to know.  But now I'm getting curious as to what the final product will look like . . . not that it really matters.  All that really matters is does the foot work okay.  That is important.  Looks???  No so much!

But now that the unveiling is getting close I am getting excited.

Will the webbing make it look like a single really wide toe?  Will there be two toenails?  Will the webbing be at the bottom and the joined toes won't be obvious at all?

Heck . . . I have no idea!!!  But you can bet that Monday night I will put a picture of the "new" toe/s in a new blog post!

So stay tuned!

Saturday, October 25, 2014

That was a good nap

(After my foot surgery last Tuesday, this conversation was overheard . . .)

"Wow!  That was a sound sleep . . . but I'm feeling a little woozy!  Just can't clear my head . . .  Really weird!"

"Would you keep it down, my head is splitting and and I'm really hurting all over!  And by the way . . . who the hell are you, and what are you doing in my house?"
"Who the hell are you and what are you doing in MY house?  I live here alone, so you must be an intruder!  Leave now or I'll shoot!!"

"Who the hell am I???  They call me '#5' . . .some call me "Pinky""  Who the hell are you?  You sound like my neighbor, #4?  Are YOU #4??"

"Damn right I'm #4 and I live here.  So get the hell out of my house!  By the way, how on earth did you get here  #5?  You live next door!  How did you get inside my house?"

"Me inside YOUR house?  No dude . . . you're in MY house!  But I'm not freakin' out about it!  Actually I'm hoping you might give me some support.  I mean . . . we've always gotten along.  And we were in those last two operations together.  This master of ours is a piece of work . . . cutting us all up!  Twice now!  And it feels like I may have gone through a 3rd time!!"

"Yea . . . we have been having a tough time of it.  Maybe we would be better if we teamed up and helped each other out, Pinky!"

"That's what I'm thinking, #4!"

"I really do believe you are in my home #5 . . . or maybe our two homes have somehow just been joined into one"

"I don't know man!  This is all just so strange.  My head is 'woosy'!  I want to see what this place looks like now!"

"You can't right now #4.  It's dark in here.  Usually we get some light . . . but  now it's just always dark."

"Yea . . . it is.  I really wanted to see what we look like together, Pinky."

"Me too!  We were both pretty handsome before all this.  If we join up we're BOUND to be twice as good looking!"

"If we're going to be living this close together we better figure out some "house rules."  Like when one of us goes to bed, we both do!  You know . . . stuff like that!"

"Yea . . . we need to work on those #4.  But right now . . . I'm just dying here . . . my head feels like they put a screw all the way through my head and down to almost my metatarsal.  And I can't even feel the head of my metatarsal  It's like it used to be there but now it gone.   But it still hurts like hell . . . even worse than before.  I need to heal up before we do too much planning.  But for right now #4 . . . do you think you could shut up and let me heal???  We can admire ourselves later . . . once the lights come on!"

Monday, October 6, 2014

Recent Events

"Hurry Slowly . . . but Hurry" posts have been lacking lately.  Primarily due to the fact that I simply have nothing of interest or importance to pass along.  So when you have nothing to say . . . say nothing!

Running has been almost non-existent.  I may work in a run each week or so . . . maybe 2 miles.  But just not running.  Yea . . . my foot does still hurt some but that isn't the reason for my slacking.  Honestly, I just don't feel like running.  So I'm not!  Its that simple.  Hopefully this "funk" I've been in will pass and I'll soon feel like picking running back up some.  But right now I'm happy doing what I'm doing . . . pretty much nothing!

And honestly . . . this not running seems to agree with me!  I've lost a significant amount of weight . . . down to 194-197 or so.  And I'm physically feeling good, though I sure can tell I'm not in good shape.  I don't want this reduction in conditioning to drop too far.

My foot is still messed up . . . after two surgeries.  I changed doctors to a foot specialist in Raleigh who examined me and suggested surgery again, though he wasn't really encouraging about the possible outcomes.  He sees the alignment between my 5th metatarsal and phalanges is out and the spacing between the bones look too close indicating arthritis.  He thought there would be a 50% chance of significant improvement, a 40% chance there would be no noticeable improvement and a smaller chance that my foot would hurt worse after the surgery.  So I don't see enough up-side potential to try surgery again.  And it's not like my foot is really all that bad.  I'll just put up with it.

Additionally, I started volunteering at a local elementary school as a math tutor for 3rd graders.  It's been a blast.  Not sure how much I've really help any "get it" with some of the things they are doing . . . but they seem to like the sessions almost as much as I like doing them.  I'm thinking about adding another 1/2 day and help with reading.

Bottom line, I'm trying to add more meaningful things to my days and I'll hopefully find some things that can really help some folks . . . and make me feel better too!!

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Texas Meltdown

This last weekend (July 26) was my son, Michael's wedding in San Antonio, Texas.

Connie and I flew over on the Wednesday before.  To save some money we flew in to Austin, Texas and then drove down to San Antonio.  Not a bad hour and a half drive, but not a pretty drive by any means.  Drove to Michael's house and met up with him, his soon-to-be-bride, my daughter, Laurie and her boyfriend of several years Robbie . . . whom I had never met.

We all went to dinner that night.  I told Michael to pick a place that had variety, and was fun.  So I learned my first lesson . . . Texans eat outside!  Often!  In the HEAT!  Michael took us to a place where three food trucks park and there is a permanent drink vendor.  So I guess different trucks come different days.  But you have to eat outside in a covered patio.  Temperatures were in the 90s and I was sweating like a stuck pig!  But all the Texans seems to take it all in stride!

Robbie seemed like a really nice, fun loving guy that I imagine everyone likes.  Hard not to!!

But at dinner I executed step one of a plan Connie and I developed.  I asked Robbie if he was going to ask Laurie to marry him . . . and what would he do now if she got pregnant!!  God it was funny watching him squirm!!  But he managed to avoid answering all the questions like a pro!!

The next day friends and family started gathering and that night about 25 of us went to a concert just north of San Antonio called Gruene Hall.  The concert featured Roger Creager and two of his friends . . . Paul Overstreet and some other song writer whose name I never heard.  But these three guys played only songs the had written!  5 Grammys between them all!!  Songs like "Forever and Ever, Amen", "When you say nothing at all" and many many more!  Unfortunately . . . I missed all but 30 minutes of the concert!  I got to play chauffeur for someone who made a mistake and told their babysitter they would be home by 10 PM!!!  Damn!  This was my big regret of the whole weekend!!

The rehearsal dinner, dance after the dinner with Max Stalling, the wedding and the reception all were fantastic!  Here are some pictures . . .

My son and his soon-to-be bride, Aly, at the rehearsal dinner.

My wife, Connie, and I . . . two proud and lucky parents.

Me, Connie and Michael just before the wedding.

Michael and Aly Lilley!

My beautiful daughter, Laurie, with me at the reception!

Such a great time seeing everyone and getting a new daughter to boot!!

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Okay, okay already!

After hundreds and hundreds of requests for a status update . . . here it is!  Okay . . . so there really weren't any requests!  I knew you wanted to ask for one but were just too shy to ask!!  So here it is . . .

My shoulder is doing fantastic!

There . . . that pretty much sums it up!  But for those of you needing a little bit more information my pain is largely gone.  There are a few positions that I move my arm into that hurt but we're working through all those at PT and I'm certain I'll have 100% mobility shortly . . . probably at about 80% right now!

The doctor still doesn't want me to lift any weight with my bicep as he whats that tendon reattachment to have plenty of time to heal.  But I should start some weight-bearing next week.

My doctor said I could start careful running this weekend!  But I decided to wait until Monday morning.  Why you ask?  Well . . . just because I had other things going on and decided to wait!!  The doctor just wants me to be super careful and protect myself for any possible fall so I'll be sticking to the roads for quite a while.

Obviously my fitness level sucks!  5 operations in 12 months is not a good recipe for fitness!  So my comeback will be slow and steady.  Right now I'm just not certain where my running will go in the future.

Right now a huge part of me wants to cut WAY back on running and simple run for fitness . . . maybe 5k, 10k and an occasional 1/2 marathon perhaps.  No need for me to decide right now.  My most important objective should be a slow, steady fitness build-up where I don't risk any injury.

Quite frankly I've had about all the injury I can stand!

And ultra running just became disproportionately important in my life.  There is so much more to do . . . and things I can to do make a meaningful difference out there!  My running had become something that defined me . . . at least in my mind.  And I don't believe that is a good place to be.  Isolation played a role in this but I believe I sort of lost my life guide-markers.  For me, running should NOT be the focus.  It should play a supporting role in who I am and what is important to me.  Slowly over time I had sort of lost my way in life.

To give you an idea of how bad it was I had a bedroom FULL of race shirts!  The vast majority and never been worn and still had their tags!!  I went through them and
  • gave to the Salvation Army 29 shirts plus lots of other running stuff!
  • Set aside 68 shirts to possibly make a few quilts with.  If I don't do that I will give these to the Salvation Army too!
  • I kept 40 shirts split between summer and winter, cotton and tech!  I mean . . . how many shirts does a person really need????

So . . . at least for awhile I'm sure I will back away from the ultra running and just run to stay healthy.  And maybe an occasional shorter race.  I may come out for a 24 hour race or two but my goals would have nothing to do with distance.

As a result of this, don't be surprised if "Hurry Slowly . . . But Hurry" doesn't start to take on some new topics and varying directions!

Nothing is forever . . . and change is good!

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Post surgery has begun!

Actually surgery was last Friday and I was home by 5 PM so recovery has been going on a while now! And I believe everything is going really well!

The doctors quote was "I can't believe you were able to do anything! It looks like a bomb had gone off in there!" The good news was the rotator cuff tear was not very significant at all and all he did there was trim up a little of the torn part.  The labrum tear was really large and shredded up.  And the bicep tendon was torn pretty badly too! So he reattached the labrum and severed the bicep tendon, reattaching it lower on my shoulder. Additionally the bone spurs needed a lot of work.

With the nifty nerve block they use I had no pain at all until about 3 AM on Saturday.  But Saturday night and Sunday morning was full meds!!  Maximum doses of Oxicontin and hydrocodone as soon as they were due!!!  Sunday afternoon I stopped the Oxicontin.  And now I'm only taking one hydrocodone at night to sleep plus acetaminophen every four hours.

Folks shoulder surgery is no joke!  Far and away the most painful surgery I've had with the exception of the open knee surgery where I spent five days in the hospital.

Probably the funniest thing that has happened so far was when the battery went dead on my TENS unit . . . A device that sends stimulating shocks into your muscle to supposedly reduce pain and a healing.  (actually I couldn't tell if it worked or not!).  But anyway the 9 V battery went dead and I got the new one to replace it.  Just as soon as the battery touched the contacts a "super shock" went into my shoulder and I couldn't get that freaking battery out fast enough! Later I read the unit instructions that warned me to turn the unit down to the lowest possible setting before replacing the battery!  Yes maybe I should've read the instructions first!  Connie and I both just couldn't quit laughing!!  At least I didn't pee myself!

Monday I had my first physical therapy session.  As you can imagine it hurt quite a bit during the session but the pain reduced during the day! Everyone says that physical therapy is the key to reduced pain and a quick recovery so I plan to be as aggressive as they will let me be! But since he had to release the bicep tendon and reattach it I cannot use the bicep muscle at all! I think this limitation will be for 4 to 6 weeks but I'm not absolutely certain yet!

Update - I just had physical therapy #2.  The session was great and I'm now moving at 100% of my four week maximum.  Oddly they do not want me to remove my arm from my sling by myself nor do they want me doing any exercises except under their supervision.  They said the doctor's restrictions are very limiting and they would be afraid for me to go and try stuff on my own.  It was amazing how much better I felt after physical therapy!!

No matter what . . .  I plan to follow the advice of my surgeon and my physical therapy.  I promise I will not be pushing the envelope!

Friday, May 30, 2014

Preparing for post-surgery

Well . . . I'm REALLY glad the nurse suggested I wear my post-surgery sling around the house to help me see things I will need to change for after the surgery.  It has been a real eye-opening experience!

What I don't know is how much I'll be able to use my fingers and hand of my left hand.  I know any lower are movement causes you shoulder to move slightly and slight shoulder movement will HURT!  Also I don't know when they will let me start dangling my arm down and move it in small circles.  I hope soon!  This will be the key to putting on a shirt and putting on deodorant under my right armpit!  I still haven't figured out how I might be able to wash under my left (non-surgical) arm!!!

Typing and texting are going to be a challenge too I'm thinking . . . but maybe if I can use my right hand more that I'm fearing that won't really be so bad.

And let's not even talking about wiping my ass!!

In the kitchen it looks like there will be many challenges . . . especially if I can't use the fingers and hand of my right arm!  Washing dishes . . . especially a glass is going to be interesting!  I may just buy a bunch of paper cups and paper plates to use for awhile.  Cooking will be limited for sure.

I'm wondering where I'll end up sitting and sleeping.  I have a great recliner but I'm afraid the arms just may be a little too high!  So that means my sofa . . . not the most comfortable sofa in the world but it just may have to do!!

I'm also REALLY concerned about getting along for the first 4-7 days.  I understand shoulder surgery is a quite painful surgery and just barely moving your arm hurts like hell the first few days.  If I lived in a city, there would be a bunch of people that might be able to help me out a little.

But where I live I only have one full-time neighbor.  And I just hate to ask people for favors.  Especially when that favor maybe something like "Hey Bud!!  Would you mind coming over and washing my armpit and then putting on my deodorant for me!!"  All I'll hear is the click of a disconnect!!!

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Oh Boy . . . Here we go again!

Will the fun just never end?

Got the results from an MRI that I had done on my shoulder.  Been having lots of pain that has just been getting progressively worse and worse.  I knew something was wrong but just needed facts.

My guess was a torn labrum.  Turns out that was correct . . . but there was more.

Torn rotator cuff. a torn bicep tendon and some bone impingement.  And my doctor, Dr. Mark Wood with Wake Orthopaedics, says there is virtually zero chance of this heal on its own.  So surgery is necessary.  Dr. Wood operated on my son, Michael's shoulder and he really like him . . . and I did too!  Tons of experience and a proven track record . . . plus easy to talk with.

The type of labrum tear I have is called a SLAP tear which is quite common but a real pain!!  My labrum is torn in several places but what makes it a SLAP tear is that it is torn where the bicep attaches . . . so both the bicep tendon will have to be severed and the re-attached to the bone and the labrum will also have to be repaired and re-attached.  The bone impingement will just be some bone sanding to remove the spots where unnatural bone build-up has occurred.

Surgery is next Friday morning, June 6th.

I have complete confidence in my doctor and the outcome of the surgery . . . but I am honestly scared to death about the first week or so of recovery.  Living by myself will prove to be quite the challenge as I understand it.  Luckily my wife, Connie, will help me as needed . . . especially the day of surgery.  I also now have some neighbors that will be around and hopefully I can get them to give me a hand when needed.  I do worry about all the challenges that are simple when you have two arms but with only one arm and a ton of pain in the other . . . life will get quite challenging I understand!

The doctor's nurse suggested I start wearing my post-surgery sling around the house now so I can find out all the "issues" before surgery.  Sounds like a good idea and I've already found several changes I need to make!

Like I've done with past surgeries I'll try and do updates.  But I guess typing will be one-handed so don't expect any capitalizations!!  My writing will look like Laz's!!

Thursday, May 15, 2014

OMG!!! What is happening?

The impossible is now possible!  The truth is really lies.  And lies are really the truth!  Nothing is the same anymore!  The world is cattywampus!!!  The real is now unreal!

Today . . . I ran barefoot!  Well . . . not literally barefoot but in my Luna Sandals!  Left the Hokas at home!!  I know . . . I know . . . I have upset the balance of nature and have done what I promised I would NEVER, EVER do!  But I did.

I have not been a fan of the "barefoot fad" and have kidded quite a few of you true believers!  My buddy Chad Wollenberg was an early convert and sang the praises of Luna sandals for several years now.  I just didn't listen to a word he said!!

Now don't get too upset!!  This change may well prove to be only a temporary misalignment and I may well return to my old Hokas and set the world right again.  But I needed to experiment . . . and the world order be damned!!

Actually Karen Jackson is to really blame . . . I am only a pawn in the overall scheme she and the Luna folks have to take over the running world!  If you don't know Karen, she is THE ultra running queen of the impossible.  She does stuff that simply can't (or shouldn't) be done . . . Like the Tarheel Ultra and more 100 milers than I care to mention!  And she always runs in Lunas.

I crewed for Karen at the Tarheel Ultra and was totally amazed she did it all in her sandals . .  and her feet had relatively few issues when you consider the distance of this adventure was 367 miles!!  So I'm thinking if these sandals are good enough for her . . . they are probably okay for me too.  But trust me . . . they look way better on her!!

Hope the picture of this sexy leg and foot isn't too "racy" for the women . . .
Before I had my last foot surgery I ordered a pair.  My thought was I knew my foot would be swollen for months and my last foot surgery I had HUGE trouble finding shoes I could wear . . . even my flip-flops weren't wide enough.  So the design and adjustability of the Lunas just seemed to be worth trying.  And they worked like a freakin' charm!  They are now my daily wear!  I just love them.

My foot is honestly doing really well (assuming you've been reading my past blogs!!) but things aren't perfect.  After 15-20 miles my foot really starts hurting and the furthest I've been able to push it was only 42 miles.

So I started thinking that maybe my foot needed two things . . . increased flexibility of movement and strengthing.  So . . . me being my own combo trainer/PT/Doctor . . . I decided that just maybe the Lunas might help.  So today I did my first run in 'em!

Me being the light-footed petite runner that I am . . . I was concerned about moving away from the awesome cushioning the Hokas provide.  That cushy ride is so, so nice!  And the Hokas really don't weigh much at all!  These Lunas are not all that cushiony at all!!  I got the most "cushy" Luna they made and they are still FAR from what I would call a soft ride!!  So I was worried (and still am to a degree!).

So I started my run.  Just taking it easy and seeing how everything felt.  Right off the bat I notice something unusual . . . my gait changed.  I didn't make the change knowingly . . . my bidy just did it!!  No thinking required . . . which is a good thing!!  My stride saw shorter and I was landing mid-foot just like normal.  While the ride wasn't a soft, it didn't seem to matter!  Odd!  Second thing I noticed was the weight reduction.  That is NICE!!  By the end of 3.3 miles I knew there was a big weight difference that should translate into even FASTER runs for me!!  hahaha!  I may earn that nickname TripleF eventually!!  (Freakin' Fast Frank)

I was scheduled for a hard run today, so for this one I averaged 79% of Max HR . . . pretty hard for me but this was a short run.  Averaged a blistering (no pun intended!) 11:37 pace!!!

So . . . so far so good!  My foot seems no worse for the wear and so far my knees and hip are doing okay too.  My feet do feel a little more tired (strengthing) and I DEFINITELY felt the required increase in flexibility!! The sandal attaches between my big and second toe and I worried that I had not "toughened" up my feet enough.  Believe I do have more toughening to do but I experienced no problems over only 3.3 miles . . . 6-8 miles would have probably been too much though.

I have no idea if this experiment will become a permanent change . . . but it seems like a good way to add both flexibility and strength at the same time.

And who knows . . . maybe the world can adjust to this new state!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Gettin' real!!

The Last Annual Volunteer State Run is getting close . . . July 10th is the start!!  Oh shit!!

Okay . . . everyone at every race sets up all the reasons they might not do well!  Not enough training miles, injury, sickness and all sorts of other bullshit!  I do that too!  It gives me great excuses for not doing well.  And honestly . . . I'm not lying!  There are good reasons I won't do well!

But Vol State is a totally different animal . . . one I have never faced before.  And I'm scared.

Okay . . . I've failed at plenty of ultras so one more failure really wouldn't be that bad . . . right?   Honestly . . . I'm really not very much of an ultra runner.  Oh . . . I've finished a bunch and I guess that does qualify me . . . but realistically . . . I suck!  I suck overall!  I suck in my age group!  I just plan SUCK!!  But I do try.

I could blame my poor performance  on misfortunes . .  injuries, etc.  But honestly it's deeper than that.  I just am not a very good ultra runner.  Period.  I sort of try.  And sometimes I convince myself I am giving it all I have.  But usually . . . I don't.  I try harder than some maybe . . . but I RARELY push myself to my limits.  Physically I probably have more talent than I have mentally.  Hahaha!!  That's a sad reality!

Oh . . . I try.  Believe me I try.  But honestly I just don't have that "If the bone isn't sticking out of the skin . . . you can go on" attitude.  I'm weak.  And Vol State isn't for the weak!!  Vol State eats the weak for breakfast!

Don't know about Vol State?  Well . . . here is the skinny!

314 miles . . . starts in MO . . . Ferry to KY for 10 miles.  Then enter Tennessee . . . cut diagonally across TN . . . run a short while in AL and then finish in GA!!  314 miles.  You have 10 days. Only a 50k a day!!!  Sounds easy!  Heck . . . you can walk that!!

And you can.  Many do!  But if you think walking 50k each day for 10 days is easy . . . well . .  you are just plain STUPID!!  Come try it!!!

This is a freaking beast!  Maybe the first few days is doable . . . but you have to be tough as steel to finish this sucker . . . physically  . . .  yes . . . but mentally is WAY more important!  Your body follows where your mind can take you!!  And when you mind quits . . . you are out of options!!

So no bullshit . . . I"m trying to decide if I should give this a go!  I had planned in trying last year . . . but foot surgery in June killed that idea.  So I decided to try for this year.  But then another foot surgery in December.  Then . . . two eye surgeries in April!  WTF!!  But everything seems to be okay now and I'm trying to build back up!!  So far so good!

But in late April I had my first big test . . . the Virginia 24 Hour.  Honestly I did okay for the first 20 miles or so . . . but then my foot began hurting.  Bad.  I pushed on until I finished 42 miles . . . but the pain was bad.  And I quit.  Period.  And no post-race doubts . . . I had honestly given it all I had.  My foot was done.  No damage but it simply couldn't go any further.

So . . . Vol State is quite a ways longer than 42 miles . . .and even with additional healing time . . . I'm doubtful it would hold up the whole way.  And this trip is a long, long trip to have to bail out early.  A day's drive to get to the finish.  Then a day's bus ride to the start.  And if I quit it could take 4-5 day or MORE to get back to the finish depending on when I quit!!

So do I just give this a go?  Or do I defer again for another year?  It's not cheap!!  But . . . I'm not getting any younger!  But 314 miles seems unrealistic since I had to quit at 42 miles just a few weeks ago!  Honestly . . . I don't need Pollyanna blowing smoke up my ass!  Honestly . . . I'm trying to decide if I should just give this a go . . . or defer another year.  Either is a good option.

I'm leaning towards deferring but my wife, Connie,  thinks I should go try it.  Of course . . . she is the beneficiary of my life insurance policy . . . Hmmmm . . .

Monday, April 28, 2014


Well . . . the Virginia 24 Hour Ultra is history!  And it was an amazing time for me.

I did okay but fell short of my goal . . . but that really isn't the story of this blog.  No . . . this race was about watching people striving to get to their own personal daily limit!  Some achieved the goals they had set for themselves.  Some didn't.  But everyone learned something.

It's scary to approach your own "limit" and it HURTS . . . BAD . . . both physically and mentally!!!  The funny thing is that once you get there you realize there is still more that you could do . . . and what you THOUGHT was your limit really is simply some arbitrary point you had set and not a limit at all.

Going into a race, everyone decides their "goals" for the day!  All of us usually have as one goal . . . "To just have FUN!" or something like that!!  I'm sure its true for each us.  We do want to have fun and sometimes that's really all we want to do at a race.  But usually, in the back of our mind, we have some other goals.  Some of these we share and some we simply keep to ourselves.

If it's a distance race then the goal is almost always a time.  I guess for most people, a distance race is all they know and all they have ever tried.  So they keep shooting to get faster and faster.  But from personal experience I know the body wants to get slower and slower!!  So us older folks usually have ways of setting goals that we can achieve . . . like a "PR since an even"t like a surgery or maybe an annual goal.  Still the focus is on speed over the distance.  And there is certainly nothing wrong with that.  Heck . . . we all do it!!  It's very rewarding.

BUT . . . if the race a timed race the goals take on a very different nature that is both obvious and insidious.  Goals become distance goals or a "time of effort" goals.  And honestly . . . in my mind these are COMPLETELY different . . . a unique sort of challenge that that challenges mental resolve and perseverance more than speed.

In a distance race if my day isn't going well and I see there is no way to achieve my time goal . . . I just back off and cruise for the rest of that race.  Oh . . . I still will run and try.  But a timed race is different.  There are usually ways you can adjust to still try and do what you wanted to do!  Fix the blister and keep going, realizing its going to hurt but you can still move forward and not damage yourself really.  Or you can simply slow down.  Walk if you have to.  But you can keep going.  Guess this is also true for some of the longer distance races too . . .  but at a distance race if you miss a time cut-off your day is done and you have an excuse to stop!!

But in a timed race . . . there is no excuse.  There are no time cutoffs!  You still can move forward.  You just have to force yourself to suck it up and keep going until you simply can't go any longer.  Meet the "monster of quitting."  For almost all of is in a timed race we go until we feel like we have to quit!  Most never complete the full 24 hours.  So we all have to go through the mental agony of deciding "we're DONE" for the day.  And believe me, every time that hurts to have to admit you can do no more . . . for that day.

And there is another unique facet to a timed race . . . the curse of the minimum goal!!!  I'm not sure everyone does this but I always have a "low bar" minimum goal.  Something that I'm fairly sure I can do . . . a minim level of respectability given my situation going in to the race.  Like for the VA24 . . . my minimum goal was 50 miles.  Was pretty sure I could at least do that!!  (Really sucks when you fail to achieve that minimum goal!!  Hahaha!)

So timed races are really a mental challenge.  VERY few participants are still moving forward at the end of a 24 hour race!!  So everyone else has had to face the mental challenge and reached their own person point of their "limit" that day.  How much suffering they could take?  How mentally tough they were?  How much they were willing to push themselves?  To what lengths they were willing to go to avoid the inevitable "monster?"

LtoR Stephanie Jones, your truly, Amie Murphy, Brian Wilcox, Farrel Murphy, Henry Lupton, Agat McCallister, Scott Wingfield, Ruthie Kinker, Alicia Washburn, Sidney Burk  Missing: Pam Jackson and Chad Wollenburg
At this year's VA24, I was on a team of 12 runners (Team Off-some)  . . . each trying to reach their own personal goals plus support the team by doing all they could do individually to help.  Everyone on the team team met "the monster" in that none of us kept going the full 24 hours.  And some didn't achieve that distance goal they had hoped for.  And when you stop and think about it, the folks still running at the end really haven't reached their limit yet!!  They were still going!  Hahaha!!  They NEVER had the chance to meet the "monster of quitting!!"

But to a person, this team ROCKED!  Talk about gutsy efforts . . . Team Awesome kicked ass this weekend!  Every single person gave it their all!  And they were smart about it!  Individual distances ranged from maybe 7.5 miles to over 78 miles and there is a story about each and every one!  Each was honestly amazing and inspiring!  Yes . . . even the 7.5 mile effort!  And two teammates that had to drop out before the race, came to support the team anyway!  One young lady had a broken foot and is in a protective boot . . . but still came to the race anyway and crewed the whole team!  The whole time!!  Plus, even walked three loops of the 3.75 mile course!!!!!  She really inspires me!  I want to be like her when I grow up!

Each of these folks pushed and pushed their own daily limits.  There is one of our teammates I'm praying didn't push too hard and cause serious injury (guess we'll know for sure in a few days).  But each and everyone push and pushed . . . and met that monster!!  I am so proud of each and every one and feel luck to have been their teammate!  You simply have no idea how tough these folks are!!

Friday, April 18, 2014

Team Off-some!

Starting Saturday morning, April 26th, Team Off-some will ride again!!  This team of twelve "challenged runners" will be competing for greatness at the Virginia 24 hour Run/Walk for Cancer.  (Of course the race should be called the Virginia 24 hour Run/Walk to BEAT Cancer . . . I mean who would run to try and GET cancer!)

Team Off-some is the perfect name for this group of  runners!  Yes, every single one is challenged in multiple ways!  First and foremost, each and every member is quite frankly just plain strange!  I mean . . . who really runs just for fun?  And if maybe you find someone who does just run for fun . . . three miles is plenty!  Anything further is . . . well . . . off-some!

There are some team members that have dreams of covering more than 100 miles with the 24 hour time limit.  Obviously these people REALLY are off-some . . . they're just not right!  Why on earth would ANYONE want to do that?  I mean REALLY . . .  Bless their hearts . . .

Other team members have other, less off-some goals . . . some plan to strive for 75 miles!  Why?  I have no freakin' idea!  Others hope to complete 50 miles . . . the minimum distance to get an award!  Okay . . . I can kind of understand that.  At least they will hobble away with something more than a t-shirt!!  Probably will give them some bragging right around the house or something.

A few members refuse to stake out a distance goal . . . instead the insist they have a time goal.  They want to "keep going" the full 24 hours . . . no matter how far that takes them.  Honestly this my be the most off-some goal I've heard!  I mean, at least the folks that want to "only" run 100 miles will stop at 100!  But if your goal is 24 hours . . . you just keep going, and going, and going . . .  Why?  Again . .  . I have no freakin' idea why.  But this DEFINITELY qualifies them as a Team Off-some member!!!

Other team members have way less lofty goals!  Goals like "I don't want to embarrass myself!"  Or my favorite . . . the total sandbagger . . . "Maybe I can finish 15 miles . . . I promise I'll try!"  Hahahaha!  You could crawl 15 miles in 24 hours!!!!

And we have one team member who has a freakin' broken foot and can't do the run.  So . . . what does this little idiot decide to do?  Why she wants to come to the race anyway traveling a zillion miles just help out everyone else!  Talk about "challenged!!" She just may be the most off-some member on the team!

While each team member has a running goal . . . some have decided to embrace the race's goal of raising money for the American Cancer Society.  Right now as it stands, Team Off-some has raised $ 2,698 that I know of!  And there is probably more raised that I haven't heard about yet.  Heck . . . I'll add $2 more just to get it to $2,700!!

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Got to love a "Stick in the Eye"

March has been quite the exciting month for me!  Some of you have noticed there have been periods where I said I couldn't read and couldn't respond to Facebook or e-mails.  Here is the skinny.

From a background point of view I have one "good" eye and one "bad" eye.  The bad eye had an undetected retina detachment that "healed" on its own and developed some significant complications.  One day I developed a significant number of "floaters" for no apparent reason.  I went to my optometrist who assured me the floaters were "no big deal" and happen naturally as you age.

But he was wrong.  I had a torn retina.  He missed it.  And it developed into a detached retina.  No good.

As a result I had some fairly significant eye surgery several years later to attempt to save my vision.  Surgery went well.  I later developed a cataract due to the surgery I had that surgically fixed the cataract . . . easy surgery.  But bottom-line my right eye isn't all that great!!  LOL!

So when all of a sudden on Friday night, February 28th I developed a sharp increase in floaters in my left (good) eye combined with light flashes I knew immediately what was happening.  I called my opthamologist (note . . . not an optometrist!) and he told me to meet him at his office early the next morning.

After a quick but thorough exam, the Dr told me I had a tear in my retina and we needed to immediately secure it.  They call it eye surgery but it wasn't nearly as intrusive as my right eye surgery.  This was done with a laser and the eye was not opened in any way.

Essentially, the doctor used the laser to "spot-weld" a number of rings around the tear so that the edges were secured and no fluid would leak through the tear . . . thus causing a detachment.  After about 120 laser welds, the job was done and I drove home.  But the eye was quite painful the rest of the day..  Post-surgery instructions were to be a chair slug . . . no reading, limit walking, nothing that would jar me in any way.  All I could do was watch TV.

My doctor wanted a retina specialist to check me the next Tuesday.  So the next Tuesday I went to UNC Eye Center for a check.  The retina specialists said my doctor had done a good job and that everything looked good.  And surprisingly they said I could start reading again!  And they wanted to see me in two weeks. I had planned to take pictures at the Graveyard 100 the coming weekend and they thought that would be fine!!

One aside . . . a retina exam is no fun at all.  The first three phases aren't too bad, but the last phase I call "Stick in the Eye" where they honestly use a stick in the eye to add pressure so they can see the far side.  They do this around the full 360° in about 30° steps.  Believe me . . . this suck every bit as much as ir sounds!!  VERY PAINFUL!

Saturday morning as I was starting to take pictures . . . a HUGE number of floaters appeared!  I immediately call my doctor . . . for some reason I didn't have the phone number of the UNC retina specialist.  My doctor was concerned but since I wasn't having flashes he thought I was okay.  The number of floaters was huge . . . like a ZILLION little floaters!  I described it as though I was looking through a really, really dirty windshield!  Still . . . my doctor didn't suggest I come in.

So I just dealt with all the floaters.  And there were a ton of them!  But no flashes at all.

So I waited until my follow-up appointment at UNC on March 18th.  After what I thought would be a simple "check-up"  I was told I had three more tears, one of which was very significant and needed immediate surgery . . . which we did.  250 spot-welds.  This involved two separate "Stick in the Eye"rounds . . . yea . . . that sucked!  Plus, the laser hurts!!

The drive home (1 hour and 30 minutes) was honestly hell!!  Pain was intense.  Finally made it home and downed some serious pain meds!  And by bedtime the pain was manageable!  Tough time.

Next morning was fine but at about noon I had a new influx of floaters!!  I immediately call my doctors.  Due to some unusual circumstances I didn't actually talk with them until 5 pm and they asked me to immediately come to the UNC ER.

Long story short . . . I finally left the ER at about 3 am after two additional "Stick in the Eye" reviews.  After two separate exams by two different retina specialists they decided I had a minor detachment without a tear.  And I was told no reading, no NOTHING for at least a week!  UGH!

So after a week . . . another re-examination indicates healing from both surgeries are healing well and I am reading again!  They say I can walk but have to wait another week to resume running.  Doctors say they have never seen 4 retina tears in the same eye within a 3 week period . . . so I guess I'm special.  But they have no promises for me.  More tears could happen.  Or I may never have another tear.  They just don't know.

Lessons for Everyone
  • Most folks never have to deal with a retina tear or detachment.
  • The cause is simply getting older.  Not running, not diet . . . nothing except aging!
  • If you see an increase in floaters OR light flashes in the periphery of you eye . . . you need to IMMEDIATELY contact you eye doctor.  Don't delay.  At all!  Call immediately!  Your future vision may well depend on it!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

I really witnessed an ass-kickin' today . . .

Honestly . . . something like this is nothing you want to see.  Ever!  There is nothing pretty or exciting about an old fashioned ass-kickin!  I was embarrassed to have seen it.

Things started innocently enough!  This was to be my first day back running after my torn retina so I was excited to be going for a run again . . . 11 days off was frustrating to go through, so to return today (with my doctor's blessing!) was something I had been excitedly anticipating.

Now to be totally honest with all you young runners . . . things change as you get older.  Recovery times just plain take longer.  That's true from both a hard run and from injuries.  And building back endurance takes longer too!

So I was anxious to get back running!  I have races to do!!

Today's weather was simply awesome!  I started at about 9am so the temperatures were in the low 60s, no wind, and I was running again!!  Sure there were the little aches and pains I've come to expect . . . hip tightens, foot starts hurting some, plus I was coming back so nothing should feel great yet!

But spirits were high and my mood was "over the top"!  I had no idea what I was about to witness . . .

My first hint that something strange was in the air came at about 3/4 of a mile into the run.  I had finished two fairly big hills and was going to my first turn-around when I just had a strange feeling that I was going to experience something troubling . . . just couldn't put my finger on the feeling . . . but I sort of knew something bad was about to happen.

I kept running . . . constantly checking my vision just to be sure the ol' retina was behaving . . . and it was!  My vision isn't very good right now.  It's like I have literally 10,000 little bitty "floaters . . . it's like looking through a really dirty windshield . . . or maybe looking through a screen!  My doctor says this is nothing to worry about and my vision will improve.  So I kept running . . .

At about 1.7 miles I started looking around . . . feeling impending doom.  Just an odd feeling and I was looking around for trouble.  The neighborhood is a nice neighborhood and trouble honestly seemed far-fetched . . . but the feeling was strong.

But no one was out!  Nobody was walking, nobody was working in their yard, nobody was running . . . just me and the road.  And then . . . I knew what was about to happen.

At 1.75 miles into my run I had to walk.  Maybe it was mental . . . or maybe it was physical.  But either way . . . the ass-kickin' had begun.  Come on . . . walking at 1.75 miles.  Oh my . . .

I tried to "out run" the worst of the beating . . . but that tactic proved pretty stupid!  After walking 30 yards or so, I started running again.  Made it 1/2 mile . . . then another walk . . . and more ass-kickin' blows to the gut.  Running again . . . but not as far this time.  More walking.

By the end I was running 3 minutes and walking 1 . . . all on a 4.6 mile run.

And mentally I knew what an ass-kickin' it had really been.  Honestly . . . it was just plain embarrassing!

But tomorrow is another day . . .and my resolve is strong.  You NEVER have two bad runs in a row.  Ever!

But I've got to admit I'm starting to question just how realistic participating in Vol State is!  I mean really . . . can I build up enough strength to complete 314 miles in 10 days?  Is this even possible?  Really?

Thursday, March 6, 2014

I'm thinking this blog needs a new name.

Honestly . . . looking back over the recent past all I see are medical issues.  Primarily my injured foot (which is feeling WAY better now!)

Maybe The blog needs to bee called something like "A Whiner's Guide to Medical Set-backs" or maybe "Easy Ways to Avoid Running" or something similar!  Seriously!  This is getting just plain embarrassing!  I can't seem to get any training in at all due to injuries.

Most recently . . . a torn retina in my "good" eye!

Last Friday about 6 pm after showering from a 6.5 mile treadmill run, I started seeing a bunch of "floaters" in my left eye plus bright flashes of light in the periphery of my vision.  I've been through this with my right eye maybe 10 years ago so I was pretty sure I knew what was going on so I called my eye doctor and met him at his office the next morning.

Sure enough, he quickly determined I had a torn retina and we went back to their laser where he "tacked" around the tear in order to try and stop any retina detachment . . . a MUCH more serious injury!

While a tad painful, the laser surgery went quickly and I drove home.  My instructions were to do "nothing" and be a slug!  No exercising at all and no reading.  WHAT?  No reading?  No computer?  No e-mails?  No Facebook?

I had no idea just how addicted I was!!  But my doctor was adamant that I read NOTHING until they could verify the laser tacking had been successful and my eye started healing.  All I could do was watch TV!

But I survived!  My doctor made me an appointment at the UNC Eye Center for Tuesday.  After their exam, they told me there were two more tears but those were in a "good" area and they didn't feel like an additional laser surgery was needed. 

Plus, they told me the surgery my doctor did was good and they could see healing so I could resume reading!!!!  Hot Damn!!!  But no running and anything what would jar my eye until next Tuesday.   But I can do that!

I asked what had likely caused the tear . . .  thinking that maybe my run had caused it but the doctor assured me that the run was NOT the cause . . . getting OLD was the cause!! 

So . . . I resume running Tuesday!!  7 weeks is PLENTY of time to be ready for the VA 24 . . . right??  Maybe there is even time to work in one more injury!!

Saturday, February 15, 2014

A valuable lesson I don't understand . . .

My foot is hurting again and I can't run right now.   Got to admit this is FRUSTRATING!!

Now don't misunderstand . . . I am NOT frustrated because my foot hurts . . . I am frustrated because I MADE it hurt and I didn't realize it at the time!  Let me explain.

My last post was about Wednesday's awesome run . . . my first run since surgery!  I was trying very hard to listen to my body (that is to say my foot!) to see how it was reacting.  I had promised my doctor (and more importantly myself!) that is I felt ANY pain whatsoever, I would stop running immediately.  And with 100% honestly I can say I never felt any pain.  None.  Zilch!

But I have to admit that during the run I did often question myself about how far I was actually running.  I wondered if maybe I should only start out at a mile or two.  But the doctor said the key was PAIN!  If it hurt I should stop.  So I didn't stop!  I ran 4.3 miles!  Never any pain.

The next day (Thursday) I did feel pain . . . but it was muscle pain!  My foot still didn't hurt.  I decided to take Thursday as a rest day so I didn't run at all.

Then Friday I went for a run.  My foot was slightly sore as were my muscles . . . but this really isn't unusual.   I started very slowly.  My foot burned.  It never eased off any.  So I quit at about 1/4 mile, turned around and walked home.  The rest of the day my foot hurt / burned and today the foot pain continues.

I don't believe I have done anything that has caused any serious damage.  But I do believe I did too much running and that inflamed my foot  So I'm taking a few days off again until the pain goes away and then I'll start back training.  But with much less mileage initially.  And I'll build up my miles fairly slowly.

But if pain can't be my guide to exercise intensity and duration . . . what can?  This is VERY frustrating!!  How can I know if I'm doing too much?  And just as importantly . . . how can I know when I'm NOT doing all I really can do?

Finding that "right" balance is critical and I'm honestly LOST if I can't use pain as my guide.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

"I love it when a plan comes together . . ."

I'm so lucky!!  Okay . . . in an unlucky sort of way!  But lucky none the less!  Yesterday I went for my first run since surgery!  And it went perfectly!

The day before I had gone to my doctor for another post-surgery checkup.  My doctor was pleased and told me I could start walking some!!  Hahaha!!  I reminded him that the week before I had called and ask for their okay to walk and they had said it was okay as long as it didn't hurt.  He said, "Okay . . . well . . . just keep doing the same thing then.  And maybe you can start increasing your distance a tad."  I ask him what he meant and he suggested I maybe try to walk a half mile or so. 

I just started laughing!!!!  I then told him I was already walking 4 miles and was having no pain . . . just some swelling afterwards that was gone by the next day.  He just shook his head.  I reminded him THEY had said I could start walking as long as it didn't hurt and I was simply following what they said!!  Hahaha!!!

I told him my running gait wasn't like what he might think of as a "running gait."  Explained I had more of a shuffling sort of gait where I honestly didn't get "on my toes" at all.  I ask him why I couldn't try running some and see what happens.  He finally said "okay" but I had to promise to stop immediately if it started hurting at all and I agreed.

The lesson here for everyone is you sort of have to "push" your doctors!  Their normal instructions are always quite conservative . . . and that is okay.  But don't EVER just accept their first suggestions!  Negotiate!!  If they hold firm then do what they say . . . but push them!!

Okay . . . so yesterday I ran!  I was so excited because a snowstorm was suppose to hit about noon so my first run could be in the snow!!  Honestly . . . running in a snowstorm is my very favorite time to run . . . bar none!  So I waited until the roads were covered and then headed out!

I really was going to "be good!"  As I started running I was just focusing on how my toes were feeling.  Was there any pain at all?  No . . . none!  So I kept running . . . 1/4 mile . . . still no pain!  1/2 mile no pain!!!  So then I started thinking about how far I should go!

Before this last foot surgery I had really focused on going into surgery in really good physical condition.  I had worked quite hard the last few weeks to get my endurance up as far as I could.  Then, after surgery I stared exercising again within a few days!!  Even with my cast I found a way to plank!!  And once my cast came off I re-joined the YMCA and started using the stationary bike.  And as soon as I could I moved up to the ellipse machine and finally the AMT machine!

And last week when to doctor had told me I could start trying to walk normally (before this he wanted me to keep all my weight on my heel!) I added walking outside along with the ellipse workout.  And started off walking over 3 miles! 

So I had really maintained my aerobic capacity to a degree.

So yesterday I just kept running . . . maintaining an awareness of how my toes were feeling but more thinking about my pace and how far I could keep running.  And the answer was about 1 1/2 miles before I first had to walk!  Then it was a walk/run interval until I stopped . . . at 4.3 miles in about 58 minutes . . . not bad at all really!  And my toes never hurt!

It was an awesome run!  The roads were white . . . no cars . . . and only my tracks in the snow along with a few bird and squirrel tracks!  I love the silence . . . . sort of a loud silence plus some wind to blow the snow around some!! 

There is just nothing like running in a snowstorm!!

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Foot update #167

Well . . . I wish I could say I'm 100% well and running strong!  But I don't want to lie!

Actually the doctor hasn't told me I can even "walk normally" yet!  So it's way early.  But I'm anxious and want to see how everything is!

Honestly . . . a normal person would have delayed the surgery I had . . . maybe for months . . . maybe even longer.  But I was limited to 6-8 miles running and that just plain wasn't enough.  Plus . . . things were getting worse and worse . . . not better and better.  So I opted to go ahead ASAP and have the surgery.  It seemed worth the risk to me.

So I am hoping for some really great results!  I hope to have more 100 mile runs in my future!

So I'm trying to be patient.  Biding my time to give myself adequate time to heal up from the surgery.

And right now it feels like I still have healing to do!

I know I am supposed to be keeping all my weight on my heel but I've got to admit I haven't been perfect!  Forgive me . . . I have sinned!!!  And when I sin, it becomes clear to me I need more healing time.  I'm just not ready to use my toes to even walk yet . . . let alone run.

My first goal is to be ready to at least WALK the Virginia24 in April.  I really don't want to have to sit on the sidelines two years in a row!  And I'm thinking I just need to be patient.  I want to walk . . . and I want to run! 

But a few weeks really won't matter in the long term scheme of things!

Saturday, January 25, 2014

A non-running post . . . Protecting your home!

Protecting your home and family . . .

Today a friend of mine called me and wanted to talk about what I thought he should do to protect his home and family.  He had just seen a news report on TV where a man called 911 to report a robbery in progress and it took the police 33 minutes to arrive!!

(DON"T get me wrong here . . . I'm not knocking our police!  With reduced budgets comes reduced police coverage . . . and even in the best of times response time cannot be quick!  When seconds count . .  help is minutes away!  Any policeman will tell you this same thing!)

So as a result, my friend said he was thinking about purchasing a weapon for home defense though he has never shot a gun in his life.  He asked me what weapon I thought he should get and told me he was thinking about a shotgun. 

He had heard a shotgun would be perfect . . . just point the shotgun in the general direction of the "bad guy" and pull the trigger . . . the pellets would just spread out and almost cover the wall!!!  No need to be a good shot or even have to practice!!  I mean . . . my good buddy Joe Bidden even suggested it to every American!!!  (Hahahaha . . I hope you all know me well enough to read my sarcasm into that last sentence!!!)

Well . . . let me start of by saying two things I said to him.  1) I am not an expert.  I know a little about guns and have grown up shooting them but I am not a well-qualified expert in home defense . . .  but I do have opinions, and 2) ANY weapon is better than no weapon when someone is invading your home and may harm you and your family.  But here is no one "perfect" solution.  I live alone in a very small house in a rural area so what might be best for me might not be best for you.

Then I told him a shotgun IS a great option but should be considered beside other choices.  There are many excellent options for protecting your home and loved ones.  Rifles like the AR-15 or the AK-47 are two of the best rifle options.  Pistols are another excellent choice.

But each choice has strengths and weaknesses. And none is perfect!

So after we talked, I went to my range and shot this from about 8 yards (24 feet) . . . about as far a you might usually be inside your house I figured.  I used a 12 gauge shotgun with an improved cylinder choke.

As  you can see . . . the pellets spread out a maximum of 4 1/4 inches!  This is NOT a really wide spread!  You would have to aim if you were shooting at someone!!  Now honestly, if you did hit someone it would totally ruin their day!  The effect would be devastating!  Huge stopping power if the bad guy was coming at you.  And even if you missed it would scare him or her almost to death!!

So a shotgun is an excellent weapon for home defense but anyone that might be shooting it needs training AND practice.  Everyone that MAY be protecting others needs to have taken a course in gun safety as a MINIMUM!.  And they need to have shot their weapon enough times that they are comfortable with it, it's workings and how to be safe.   They need to understand what THEIR gun can do and what it cannot do.  And if there are children in the house, guns must be protected!!  Period.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Time to start thinking of a new career.

Had a 4 week post-op check-up yesterday and things are looking good according to my doctor!  That's nice to hear but I was a little distracted looking at my toes!  I'm guessing his definition of "looking good" is a little different than mine!

All my dreams of becoming a world famous "foot model" are now gone . . . for good!  Unless I want to try had have cosmetic foot surgery!  Steven Jacobson pointed out the obvious "fit" in me filming a Franzia commercial . . . in a vat . . . stomping grapes with my feet!!  I'm sure they would have paid me big bucks!  I'm mean having a "well-know" Franzia drinker with sexy toes stomping grapes to make more wine!!  A match made in heaven.

But alas . . . looking at my right foot now it's clear that my life will need to take a different direction.  A direction that won't invole making a living with women lusting after my feet!!

But as far as the surgery went . . . things ARE looking good!!

My doctor is telling me that the bone is healing nicely but I have to give it another 2-3 weeks minimum (x-ray showed the bone on #4 still has healing to go).  So I have to continue to keep my weight on my heal but can slowly start transitioning a little more weight to my forefoot after another week or two . . . depending on how it feels when I try it.  If it hurts . . . don't don't do it!

But bandaging is gone, I can get my foot wet now, and my cane and surgical shoe are now HISTORY!!  See 'ya!!

I'm sporting some super cushioned flip-flops to allow for swelling and some odd kind of foot splint that keeps my toes pointing down!!  lol  Whatever!

Here are two pictures . . . one the day before my second surgery and one taken this morning!  (Don't get all freaked out about how red my foot is now . . . it just finish getting a really hard scrubbing!!!  I'm betting tomorrow it won't be nearly as red!!)  A little swollen but not bad at all!
Day before 2nd Surgery

4 weeks after 2nd surgery

Sunday, January 12, 2014

What a scary dream . . .

Night before last I had a REALLY scary dream!  I know I dream a lot but I rarely remember any of my dreams.  But this dream I had two nights ago really got me!!

I was in my doctors office and my doctor's nurse, Heather, was taking the bandages off my foot.  In my dream I remembered that 2 weeks ago when they took my cast off, removed my stitches and re-bandaged everything I got to see my foot and I was really pleased how straight my toes now were.  So, in this dream I didn't watch as Heather took my bandaging off.  But then . . . she said something like "Oh no!" . . . so I looked down at my foot!

All I can say is that it was hideous!!

My little toe was sticking out to the side at 90° . . . and the 4th toe was all twisted and pointing to the right!!!  It was all discolored and swollen.  I freaked out!

I asked Heather what the hell happened and she said she had no idea!!  "It looked fine before.  I have no idea what happened, Frank!  But I'm pretty sure Dr. Purvis is going to want to take these toes off now!!" 

And I was just going crazy thinking about ANOTHER foot surgery!

I woke myself up and knew it was only a dream . . . but every time I went back to sleep this same dream played again!!  Like a freakin' movie!!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

At least one more week

I had really hoped that my doctor would cut me a break!

Okay . . . I really don't want to try and do too much too fast.  That is a recipe for long-term disaster.  But part of what my doctor has me doing just plain doesn't make good sense to me.

See . . .After two weeks he took my stitches out and I got to see everything.  But then he re-wrapped my foot in bandages and put me in a surgical shoe, telling me to be absolutely 100% certain I kept 100% of my weight on my heel and to not bends my toes AT ALL!  Plus, I can't get my foot and bandages wet!  Sounds simple until you actually try and do this.  I can only take 1/2 steps with this foot and keeping all my weight on my heel has caused a weird thing to happen with every step . . . there is some tendon at my heel that sort of "clicks" to the side with every freakin' step!  Doesn't really HURT . . . but it just feels GROSS!!!  Real GROSS!

I bought a gel heel pad to put in the surgical shoe, and it does help some.  But the key word here is "some!"

So I asked my doctor if I could take off the bandages and start wearing flop-flops if I promised to still keep my weight on my heel.  I have a pair of super cushioned flip-flops and some awesome tabi fleece socks to keep my feet toasty!! 

I just can't imagine why the bandaging is still important . . . the freakin' stitches are all gone!  The skin has to be healed so why the bandages?  And why can't I shower normally???  And honestly . . . the surgical shoe seems to do NOTHING!  I have to concentrate to keep all my weight on my heel.  Why can't I do that in flip-flops too?

Well . . . doctor says "No!"  So I'll do what he says.  I'm a VERY good patient!!  Hahahaha!  Next appointment is this coming Monday . . . so maybe . . . just maybe . . . I can ditch the shoe and bandages!!  We'll see!!

Saturday, January 4, 2014

It's been awhile!

Today is like international race day or something!  I have so many friends running races today . . . the Pistol 100 (I had been registered for this one!), Frosty 50k, Neusiok 50k, Harbison 50k and a bunch more! 

Temperature here is about 17° without any wind . . . chilly but not terrible!  The sky is a bluebird sky and its suppose warm up into the mid to upper 40s!!  All in all . . . awesome conditions!

I'm sitting here in "my chair."  This chair and I have become quite close friends this last year!!  From mid April until August I pretty much just sat around in this "baby" all the time!  From mid June until mid July I even slept every night here!!  Same with December . . .  my chair was my bed!!  He are I have become way too close!

Anyway . . . today I'm filled with mixed emotions!!

First . . . I know the excitement my friends are feeling and I am excited for them!  Got a few friend running their first ultra and this is always special . . . coming over to the dark side of running!  Of course those of us that are here know how different and how special this dark world is . . . and how awesome the dark side people really are!!  Hard to explain to someone who hasn't experienced it . . . but ultra races are so much more satisfying than "normal" races!  Don't get me wrong . . . all races are fun and can be fulfilling!!  5ks, 10ks, Half-marathons and marathons . . . all are fun and can be a blast!!  But the ultra people are just . . .  well . . . different!

So I'm missing being out there with them!!

But honestly . . . it the race isn't a loop course I'm not with them at all except for the start of the race!!!  I may struggle to hand with some folks for a mile or two . . . but then usually I'll lag back and be by myself the rest of the way.  That's one of the main reasons why I like 24 hour races so much . . . I get to be with folks all day long!  Just way more social for me these days!!

But there is another part of me that is sort of sad that I can't be out there with everyone!

But I'm so lucky!!!  First, I have been able to address the issues caused by my ladder accident!  With the help of my health insurance, I have been able to financially deal with two surgeries and numerous doctor visits, PT sessions, etc.  Many people are not so lucky! 

And I'm lucky that all this has come at a time when I have been retired!  It would have been almost impossible for me to work all that much for so many of the weeks of 2013!  Being retired . . . all have have to deal with is the boredom of being alone . . . and I have Luke and Mama Dog to help me with that!!

And I'm lucky that it is looking good for a virtual 100% recovery!!  Fingers crossed on this one!!

Being alone so much is both a positive and a negative!  I've learned how to deal with so much all by myself!  Things like washing clothes with the washer and drier in the basement at the bottom of stairs constructed by an idiot!  If you are less than 5 feet tall . . . you can walk down them fine.  But I'm 6' 2" and you wouldn't believe how much I have to bend over to go up or down them!  And they are steep with narrow treads!  So getting up and down them on crutches . . . . with laundry . . . is totally comical!!!

Getting groceries, running errands . . . all just are way more complicated!  But I can do them all!!  And only one more week!!!!!!  I'm so excited though I wish this phase was over already!!  LOL!

But being alone so much does tend to draw me more and more into introversion . . . a somewhat natural state for me!  The more I'm alone, the more in withdrawal into myself.  It's not a "dark" sort of withdrawal . . . it just becomes harder for me to be around people again.

Another emotion I'm having is excitement . . . a slow burning excitement!  It's like a building excitement to start another comeback!!  Seems like for the last few years I've dealt with a number of injuries (three knee operations, one hip operation and now two foot operations!).  I getting good at coming back.  And honestly it's like these down times simply recharge my batteries!!  I'm really ready to start training hard and get back into real ultra shape . . . it's been awhile!

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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.