Why don’t I listen….

I had just finished the River-N-Rapids 10K trail run held in the Hillsborough River State Park in April. It was a grueling and great experience. I’ve live in the Tampa Bay area of Florida and never knew that we had even mild rapids. Of course, that’s part of why I was doing this particular run was to see something new. 

I was a bit proud since I finished first in my age group. And knowing that my next commitment was a long way off, I decided to take a breather for a bit to allow full recovery.

At the end of the second week, as I woke up for a morning run, I had numbness and pain from the middle of my back through my shoulder blades radiating down my right arm. It took a few hours, but eventually things improved. I had something like this happen once or twice and never had them repeat. However, by the fifth or sixth day, the pain would last for four or five hours, excruciating, exhausting and demoralizing. Working out was not happening. I finally got into a Chiropractor and was diagnosed with ‘military neck‘. Basically, my neck was straight rather than the normal mild arch.

After a few weeks, of therapy (I won’t bore you with details) I felt improved and decided, I would be running in spite of my Chiropractor’s warnings of how jarring it can be to the spine. The morning came for me to run again and I was floored with a virus. Congestion, headaches, body aches, the whole nine yards. Suffice it to say, I slept little because I couldn’t breathe. When I did sleep, it was sitting up. This lasted for more than two weeks. I knew I should have powered through and at least done some common core or strength training routines, but I was sapped and further demoralized.

By the time I finally recovered from the virus, it was eight weeks after the 10K. FAR longer than I should have been away from running. And at my age, the body reverts back to zero a lot faster than when I was younger.

So, where did I go wrong? Well, one voice said, “take it easy, go slow, go short”, another voice said “as long as you take it easy, go as long as you want”.  You can probably guess which voice I listened to. I ended up jogging about 2.9 miles, but it felt wonderful. It was along a canal before the Florida sun got above the trees. I could see some fish action in the water as I went by and enjoyed saying hello to all the dog walkers and morning people. The park looked pristine with the sprinkle of early morning dew all over everything.

Today, after being sedentary at work, my ITBs are tight like piano wire and my glutes are sore.

What could I have done differently? Done a pre-run workout to loosen my ITBS and strengthen my butt and core. Cut my distance in half.

I do regret it, but it was worth it.

Why I am not buying a GPS Fitness Watch…… yet

I have been extremely torn to leap at the latest and greatest gps smart watch for my runs. I have a Fitbit Charge HR2 and normally run with my cell phone. The dream of losing the added weight of my phone was a nice idea.

As I think about my normal runs, at least training runs,  sometimes I want access to the normal pace, distance and elapsed time for run information. I don’t want to look away from the course and stare at a display either on my phone or a watch, so I do like audio prompts.

In fact that led to a nasty fall for someone I was pacing in a 10K trail run recently. They looked at their watch display and the many roots on the trail knocked them down. Not only did they fall but buttons got mashed and their display changed so they couldn’t check their pace or distance. Any more button mashing while running could have caused them to lose their gps track and more time to sort it out.

I also appreciate having some music or podcast available to kick off when I need motivation or distraction during the run, especially the long runs. The only way to control that without pulling out my cell phone is via bluetooth headset controls. But you can’t switch between apps like that.

One feature that I greatly appreciate about the Fitbit fitness tacking is its use of audio cues on a regular basis. This is a function available on many phone apps, but no gps smart watch that I am aware of in a price range I want. A serious strike against fitness trackers and smart watches.

In the instance of the fallen runner I was able to call out our pace and distance as I received audio cues.

To alleviate the carrying of the phone either in my hand or strapped to my arm, I have an inexpensive running vest to tuck it into for my long runs. Then I try to refrain from touching it at all, opting to use headset controls. But then that means I’m stuck with audio from whichever app is cued to play at the time I set out on my run. If Stitcher is cued with podcasts, I won’t get driving motivational rock when the need arises to get that extra spark.

The last point I have is in the interest of safety. I will likely continue to carry my cell phone for emergency or the “come pick me up” calls I may need to make on a long training runs.

So a gps smart watch? Not  yet for me.

One other option would be for weather resistant sport Android smart headphones. A set that could understand audio commands just like a Google Home. If I find something promising, I’ll share my thoughts.

1000 Days Alcohol Free

As of April 2nd 2019, it’s official.

1000 (1K) days free of alcohol.

How do I feel? Fantastic. Not in a “throw a party” way. But in a thoughtful, reflective, appreciative way. I’ve rambled about the positive sides of not including alcohol in my life. But now I’ve seen it and lived it for a good while. And the more I look at, the more I realize how trans-formative it’s been.

As I look back, I realize how much more of my life I’ve reclaimed to be productive.

In my pre-1K history, I would go through several ‘sick’ episodes a year, about every month an ‘illness’ or ‘gut’ problem would last two or three days. The kind of thing that would put me out of sorts, ruin a weekend and hold me back from feeling or performing my best. During my 1K days, I can only think of two brief episodes in the past year where I’ve had any episode. And by ‘brief’ I mean two days or less.

The further domino affect to this new found health, is that my overall normal wellness and vitality became much better. Probably because my body was able to self correct. I picked up running again. In spring of 2018, I finished one year of one 5k race a month. Now the new project is a one year progression from a 5k (already completed), a 10K, a half marathon (both already committed) with a target of a marathon in spring of 2020.

Even better is my mood. I am much more calm with others. I am also a lot less likely to bottle things up. In the past I had used bottles of alcohol to bottle up feelings of frustration and anger. Now I am much more capable of having a meaningful conversation with others without it devolving into a match of anger, insults or victimization.

Instead of planning around the evening pour, I’m going bowling or installing a kitchen back splash or working on some other ‘project du jeur’ that interests me and fills my life and relationships with meaning.

Instead of planning around the morning recovery, I now plan the morning run route or the supporting exercises. How far will I go? What’s my target pace? Will I see fish jump in the channel as I run by? Which muscle groups do I need to strengthen?

I’m also better able to be there with friends and family instead of struggling to get out the door and socialize. Which is so much easier when you are not fighting through the fog of hangover’s, dehydration, headaches and frequent maladies when drinking.

Do I occasionally consider a beer? Sure, for less than a minute. I enjoy the memory of drinking, but turn aside when I realize the downside before really completing the thought. That might happen once every couple months or so.

I’m happier without and grateful for the past 1000 days. IWNDWYT.

Evie Launcher changes

If you’re an Android user, you might be aware of the ability to use different ‘launchers’. A launcher is the user interface that manages your screens look and icons you use and a ton of other features allowing you to organize the way you view and start your apps.

In a previous post, I shared my logic behind switching to Evie launcher.

However, recent changes had me a bit concerned. They added a news feed very similar to Google Now (which I came to dislike, a lot).

My first reaction was here we go again. Then I long pressed on the home screen, opened the settings and found that it can be disabled. I switched it off and ‘voila’, no more news feed.

I also found the setting that hides the search bar. Interesting idea if you’re concerned with screen real estate. I used the search function often enough that unhiding would be a pain.

Kudos to the Evie developers for designing things better than Google. Bravo!

‘In the Scheme of Things’

Applying ‘in the scheme of things’ can help improve many facets of your life.

“In the scheme of things”. I mentally re-use this phrase repeatedly. Whether it’s determining what widget to buy, what option to choose with financial investments or what recommendations I provide to my employer, or whether taking a drink is worth it.

‘In the scheme of things’ (ITSOT) speaks to ensuring that we view things with a larger perspective in mind than what’s immediately in front of us.

I see lots of conundrums that I relate to the exercise of thinking through ‘In the scheme of things’.

For instance, when shopping, if you see eggs that are ten cents cheaper at a grocery store you don’t normally go too, that’s 30 minutes out of your way, does it make sense to spend the time, money and gas for the bragging rights of saving that ten cents? That’s a very narrow question with a lot more variables involved. Some people insist on achieving those bragging rights, even though the ultimate cost savings would be nullified.

By the very nature of the phrase, we step back to view a larger picture, making some value statements that are relevant to us, and base a decision on those values.

That doesn’t mean emotions don’t come into the equation, but value statements should check knee jerk emotional reactions.

Recently I was in the midst of selling my current house and written communication passed from the buyer side suggested that we knew about a problem that we intentionally didn’t disclose. At least, that’s the way it was expressed. My initial reaction was of course, emotional.

Then I had to ask myself ‘In the scheme of things’. Did I care their opinion? Did I care what they thought or felt? Did I want to run the risk of poisoning the sale and risk thousands of dollars and lots of anxiety? In the Scheme of things, no. I didn’t want to create the worst case scenario because of wounded pride because I read something as an implication, correctly or not. I checked myself, used ITSOT,  replied with facts, ignored emotion and moved on.

I also had to remind myself that ITSOT there were lots of middlemen in these communications (our agent, the inspector, the buyers agent, and then the buyers) and every hand off could have caused some distortion in the message. By using ITSOT, I was able to remember what was more important to us at the time.

But, let’s put this in context with alcohol. My wife and I have had this conversation multiple times over my 721 days and her exceeding two full years  alcohol free.

‘In the scheme of things’:

  1. We no longer spend hours recovering from a night before and all that entails.
  2. We no longer wake up wondering what stupid thing we may have said or done.
  3. We no longer spend thousands a year on alcohol.
  4. We think without the fog of alcohol either depressing or stunting us.
  5. We’ve both dealt with emotional stuff from our individual pasts.
  6. We’re more up front emotionally with each other, our family and friends.
  7. We, as a couple, communicate more often and more clearly with each other.
  8. We have a more purpose filled life in a mutual direction related to our life goals.
  9. Both of us have had significant career improvements as a result.
  10. Our collective health is significantly improved.

All that being said, ‘in the scheme of things’ I’m very thankful that we, as a couple made this change and that we have been there for each other on this continuous improvement journey.

The Heart is Willing … or maybe not?

It’s been a while since my last post. Suffice it to say non-blog related things have been stealing my attention. The latest being the most impacting.

I was in a Kiwanis meeting May 4th, when I began to feel ‘not right’. I became light headed and felt like I couldn’t catch my breath.

I politely excused myself, took some deep breaths, thought I had it under control and rejoined the meeting.

It was no more than five minutes and I excused myself again, this time I took my things with me.

The light headed feeling persisted. I kept trying to clear my head with deep breathing, but kept getting weaker. I checked my Fitbit and my heart rate was around 100, which didn’t make sense considering my level of inactivity. We have good conversations, but not that exciting.

I was lucky enough that the meeting was in conference room at a Mansfield Methodist Hospital and I walked myself down to the Emergency Room. By the time I got to the service counter, I was struggling for breath, I was near fainting, and my legs were about to go. I was able to give them my name and they were catching me with a wheel chair.

In minutes, they wheeled me to a room, got me on a bed, attached a number of leads all over (chest, abdomen and legs) and put an oxygen feed under my nose. While I was half fainting, I became strangely emotional, like I was about to cry and I said so. Just the weirdest thing. I normally handle stressful situations calmly.

I was struggling to tell them medical history while it felt like the right side of my head was becoming extra tingly, like I was losing circulation on that side of my head. I was scared. I thought it was my end.

They hooked up an IV, ran saline and monitored my heart. My BP was 180 over 110 and my heart rate was easily 100 or more. I was having a hard time, but they let me keep my cell phone and I called my wife. She insisted on coming to the ER.

I texted members of Kiwanis to let them know. A small cadre of them were allowed to hang out with me while I went through whatever this was.

And I texted my kids that I love them, but I didn’t let them know more than that. If this was the end, it was important. But I didn’t want them doing anything rash, like jumping on planes when there was nothing they could do.

My biggest fear was that they would rush me into surgery and crack my chest open.

The rest was a blur of emotions and trying to make light of a situation with humor. That’s my coping mechanism. My wife arrived and I know she could see the uncertainty in my eyes. We shared hopes for the future and I professed my feelings again.

Then there were several hours of imaging, evaluation, ekg’s that eventually led to a conversation with a very good ER doctor. You know the kind you hope for that will take the time to converse rather than do a brain dump and leave you confused.

He explained that the lower left chamber of my heart had been beating uncontrollably and after consulting with a specialist, they put me on a script to keep my heart from running out of control.

When they were sure my heart was under control, they released me and I drove myself home.

Thinking about this, in the back of my mind, I’m reminded of the ‘holiday heart’ and wondered, did my drinking cause me permanent and irreversible damage?

I’m not sure I’ll ever know for sure, but… it makes one think.

 

 

 

I Planned, Fate Laughed

Somewhere around 593 days of alcohol free (late February 2018) and in my 51st week of training for 5k’s I developed a soreness in my knee.

Naturally, I had been pushing myself to try and get a decent time for the last 5k to complete the ‘5K a Month’ for a Year challenge. I had also taken it for granted it was in the bag and had already begun thinking of goals immediately beyond that, like a 10K and a half marathon and dreams of a marathon in the next year.

Unfortunately, I believe I over trained. So for the final run of the year, I intentionally cut Continue reading “I Planned, Fate Laughed”