Thursday, September 1, 2016

The blogging has returned! My Health is My Wealth. And other random shit I was thinking about today

February 2002 my first day on the job at Cigna, at that point just happy to have a job. I had spent weeks working as a temp for various places ever since I was laid off of my previous employer as a customer service manager at EZ2Get.com (yes you can laugh at the name) who closed their doors after being directly affected by 9/11.  It was an entry level job working in a call center.  Taking information over the phone from customers to set up claims Short Term, Long Term Disability benefits, Worker’s Compensation and FMLA.

     My trainer was Michael, I sat with him and watched him take calls and navigate through the claim software.  Call after call.  Basic questions were asked on this claim taking process like, “Who is your doctor?”, what date did you see him, what where you diagnosed with?  When will you be released to return to work? About day three of job shadowing with Michael, I noticed a few things.  The first was that a lot of these claimants were calling from the same corporations.  I’m thinking, Gosh, is anyone working at these places? How is the business still open?  I also noticed that many people suffer from back pain.  The last thing I noticed from one question “Do you have any other notable medical conditions?” at least three-fourths of the callers responded with diabetes, hypertension, or depression.

     Then 34 years old, I had lived a relatively healthy life to that point.  My biggest issue was that my eyesight was worsening.  I was in denial of this until three years upon attempting to renew my driver’s license and was forced to go get evaluated for corrective lenses.  I wasn’t thinking about exercising.  It wasn’t until I turned 40 or 41 that I figured I had better do something because I wasn’t getting any younger.  Around that time, Cigna had moved into a state of the art building and inside it was a gym.  I started using it, using the treadmill things caught on with running and you know the rest.

    After a couple years I was a very tenured employee, had worn many hats, trained and coached many others and started a new role.  Claim Manager.  So now, I would actually get to know these people who call in with all of these ailments and be all up in their business and follow them from the time they stopped working, until the time they were recovered and ready to return to work.  What it did, was open my eyes to why some people are always sick and why the healthcare industry is big business.  After my initial training, I was assigned two major accounts which I would manage.  I’m not sure if I can legally name the accounts on here but one was a Major financial institution and the other was a major company who makes aluminum foil, paper cups and containers so I won’t. The financial company had employees who were mostly sedentary office and the container company was mostly of factory workers who stood all day, ran machines, and did heavy physical work.  Both sets of employees were on totally opposite sides of the spectrum.

     The employees of the financial institution mainly missed work for pregnancy, back issues and mental disorders such as depression and anxiety.  One thing I learned is the higher the salary or higher up the corporate ladder one is, the more likely I would get a mental claim from these folks.  Not sure why that is, but this can be a separate blog or research project labeled Mo’ money, mo’ problems’ to quote the late great Notorious B.I.G.  For the production account, it was mostly musculoskeletal stuff.  Back, shoulders, knees.  The issues were almost always due to the person having poor nutrition routine, overweight and no kind of exercise routine.   

     What point am I getting at?  I have no idea, just putting out random thoughts.  But yeah I can tie what I do at my job together with what I do when I’m not doing my job.  I know when I talk to my claimants at work, I’m very thankful that I don’t have the medical issues that they have.  And I pray for each and every one of them to find the right path to a healthy lifestyle, both physically and mentally.  I’ll be 48 years old next month, but I feel the same as I did when I was 22.  The only difference is that I can no longer stay up all night, party and work the next day like I used to.  Sleep is too freaking good.  But I think I can hang everywhere else with you young’uns.  Ok maybe not everywhere.  But I can still whoop yo’ ass.

   I know some folks have ailments that can’t be cured, some can’t be treated.  But things can be beated.  Yeah I just made ‘beated’ a word.  I read a post earlier today from one of my runner friends who beat cancer and has went on to run two 100 mile races and working on another now. Damn that inspired me.  The human body is special.  It will adapt to almost everything you throw at it.  One of the things that stuck with me in my running certification coaching class was the instructor saying that if you continue to do the things that are uncomfortable, the will eventually become comfortable. I have been using that concept in running and everywhere else in life, and you know what, it’s true.  He probably has no idea what that little statement has done to me.

     OK enough rambling.  My point is try to get to the best physical health that you can get to.  I’m still trying to figure out the mental.  Find something active that you like rather its running, tennis, walking a mile a day, Frisbee… just do something and get active.  Find a friend that wants this lifestyle too and go into it together, it really helps.  They say it takes about 3 weeks to turn a routine into a habit and that is about right because I just witnessed my wife get into an intense workout routine of the past few months.  Honestly never thought it would happen with  her, so yeah I gotta step my game up. I’m also blessed to have hundreds of friends at the Dallas Running Club for my support.  There is nothing like being in good health, it’s the best feeling in the world.  If God willing, I can keep myself at optimum until he calls me home.

- TNT-

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Statistically speaking...


It’s been a while since I have blogged, I can’t say I haven’t had much to blog about. Much has happened since the last time I have made an entry here. Busy busy busy. Work, coaching, family, life. I decided to get more serious with my training this year as I’m not getting any younger. I looked at my marathon P.R. still puzzled why it has not fallen yet. It’s not like I haven’t been training hard. I figured it’s not that but maybe I’m just not training smart enough. So today I decided to compile a spreadsheet of the long distance races I have completed and analyze the training three months prior to the race. Part of what I found surprised me, part didn’t. I have finally figured the whole cramping up thing, which is probably 75% of the problem. The new issue now is to find a way to not hit the infamous ‘wall’ after mile 20. I think I have that figured out. Looking at the data I compiled, it’s plain and simple. I need to run more miles. I knew that already, but didn’t really think about what ‘more miles’ meant. When I first started compiling the data, it was looking like I wasn’t getting enough run workouts in. That isn’t it at all.

RACE


RACE
YEAR FINISH AVG  TARGET PACE PACE FALL OFF 
COWTOWN 50K 2016 6:16:06 12:03:00 10:00:00 mile 20
TULSA ROUTE 66 2015 4:40:55 10:34 9:30 mile 18
EL SCORCHO 50K 2014 6:47:53 13:07 - -
COWTOWN 50K 2014 5:21:44 10:21:00 - -
TULSA ROUTE 66 2013 4:14 9:35 8:45 mile 17
DALLAS 2012 5:41:00 12:49 9:00 Mile 20*
BIG D 2012 4:13:06 9:39 9:00 Mile 22
*Clayed Out
 
  TRAINING (3 MO PRIOR)


RACE
total # RUNS 18+ runs 20+ runs Avg miles/week
COWTOWN 50K 53 5 2 31
TULSA ROUTE 66 54 1 0 32
EL SCORCHO 50K 48 3 3 34
COWTOWN 50K 51 7 8 36
TULSA ROUTE 66 70 3 2 48
DALLAS  75 7 5 46
BIG D 74 7 5 43


My first ever 26.2 is still my P.R.  Part of that is that I was a newbie still and ignorant.  I didn’t fall off my pace until mile 22 which is the longest I have ever held a strong steady pace.  I had 7 runs of 18 miles or more during training.  That is a P.R. for my training.  I had the same for my first Cowtown Ultra in 2014, which I did not have a target pace, I just ran for fun but felt the best I had ever felt before during a race.  I remember running an 8-9 minute mile when I was at mile 26.  I didn’t hit any type of wall until around mile 28.  In contrast, my worst marathon statistically was in Tulsa this past year where I didn’t have any runs of 20 miles or more during training, which is to be expected.  I did do a lot of strength training that season and it did make a difference on hills.  Hills were no problem.  However I’m finding there is no substitute, at least for me in getting in enough long long runs. I just realized I did not include Big D Marathon 2013 which I paced even splits all the way through for a 4:15 marathon and didn't even bat an eye.  I'm thinking that is because I was already marathon trained fresh off of running the Cowtown Ultra a couple months before. I think there were 2-3 18-20 mile runs between those two races.  I'm actually pretty sure of it.
I was just chatting with a running buddy yesterday that I have great training runs, but my races suck. Today I found out that it is probably that I just don't have ENOUGH great traning runs.  I need more of them.  I’m thinking this, along with the other things I have learned along the way will eventually help me get a P.R.  At some point, it will happen.  So it looks like my Saturday mornings will be just a little bit more occupied now J

-TNT-

Monday, November 23, 2015

One step closer: Williams Route 66 Marathon race report

As most of you know, I have battled horrible leg cramps ever since I have been running and really ever since childhood.  I have tried just about everything, sought out all kinds of advice to keep them away but with little luck.  It is my running kryptonite.  I was recently shared this 1998 blog
http://www.hillrunner.com/jim2/id66.html from one of my good runner friends (thank you Stacey) of a then 16 time marathoner “Jim” who had previous problems with calf cramps on his first 3 marathons.  I decided to follow his advice for the Williams Route 66 Marathon which I ran yesterday.  Here are the factors he believed causes these terrible cramps and how following this advice influenced my performance.

1. Pace /weather
Jim stated that pace is the primary factor of leg cramps so I really focused on that yesterday.  Don’t go out too fast, avoid positive splits. We have all heard it before 1,000 times. The weather was absolutely perfect yesterday so I was able to strategize for my actual target of 4:10.  I ran with the 4:15 pace group for the first 8-9 miles around  a 9:40 min/mi then I slightly increased my pace to the 4:10 target pace after that for the 2nd third of the race (between 9:15-9:30) and was able to hold it until mile 21.75.  That course was plenty hilly.  The hills were manageable but they were accumulative.  This marathon for my DRC training folks was the equivalent to running a marathon via running on Shoreview Drive in the Lake Highlands area from end to end continuously.  There were two really long hills at miles 14 and 21 which were at least a half mile long each. Those two hills were similar to the mile 8 Main St Bridge at the Cowtown Marathon for those who have run that race.  I was really surprised that I conquered both hills without having calf cramps as running up a hill is usually what initiates a calf cramp for me.  These cramps usually progress to the opposite calf and cramping gradually takes over both legs from the waist down.  I made it about ¾ of the way up the 21 mile hill before my right quad just tired out.  From there I walk-ran the rest of the race just because the quad had pretty much had it.  However on my 3:1 min run/walk ratio I was easily running an 8 min mile on the run parts with no hint of cramps.  My calves were very strong. In fact everything on the left and on the right from the knee down was fine.  The right quad was twitching a little bit but never seized up.

2. Preloading. 
The Gatorlode product Jim mentioned in the blog in which he carbo-loaded with no longer exists, so I just made sure I ate quality food just like I had been doing all training season leading up to the race; lots of fruit, leafy veggies and avoided junk.  Jim pre-loaded with electrolytes and a potassium supplement 5-6 days before his races.  A couple of years ago I discovered the greatness of Hammer Endurolytes which have helped me be cramp free during training runs and probably did not exist in 1998 when Jim wrote his blog. They have Potassium and other salts in them needed to prevent leg cramps.  I preloaded using these a week out from the marathon by basically taking one with every meal up to race day and hydrated accordingly.  Then I took 1 every 20-30 min during the race.  I used the sports drink provided at the water stations, but I didn’t have to drink that much.  I probably took in about 50-60 oz total of Gatorade during the race and fueled with GU every hour.

3. Training/tapering. 

From Jim's blog:

“Some people say that overtraining tires leg muscles and sets them up for cramps. I do not believe that. However, under-training and/or under-tapering can. I don't believe it is possible to overtrain for a marathon, as long as you avoid injury and burnout.....and taper properly. The taper is miraculous in marathon preparation. Done properly......neither too much nor too little work while tapering.....your body and mind will recover from any level of stress (barring injury) you placed on them during training and they will be at an optimum point of freshness and energy for the race. I do believe that being undertrained can be a factor in cramps, especially in endurance/stamina base. That's why total mileage and a sufficient number of long runs of 18-22 miles are so important in a training program. Going into a marathon, I would be much more worried about being undertrained or under-tapered than overtrained or over-tapered for cramp avoidance.”

This is the one thing that I strongly believe help me hit the “wall” at mile 21.  My training had been spot on up until the end of September.  Things on my personal agenda prevented me from getting in the number of required long runs between 18-22 miles.  I had only one this season and missed a few Thursday runs toward the end of the training season, thinking I could just make up for it by doing extra lower body strength work in the gym.  For me, I don’t think anything substitutes for lots of LSD miles.  My plan was to use the 50k at Ragnar for my peak run, but it did not go as planned and I only ended up with a cumulative 16 miles on 3 separate relay runs that day due to cramping up from not doing #2 above.  Still yesterday I didn’t cramp even being undertrained. 

I followed the tapering phase on the DRC training plan to a “T” per the training schedule and as suggested above. I can honestly say I really never took tapering seriously until I read his blog and I’m not sure or not if I have tapered as I should have in previous races.  I will make sure to do so from now on.

Other things I did that may or may not have been a factor

1.      Lots of foam rolling/stretching leading up to the day of the race.
2.      Laying off of the beer (that was very difficult).
3.      Getting adequate sleep and rest.
4.      Keeping positive thoughts and keeping stress far away from me.

So as I am finding, it’s not one thing that causes my cramps but several things.  Usually these races are very frustrating to me because they don’t end favorably for me, and I am seeing my other runner friends break P.R’s every other week, however my P.R. is still the same as my first marathon (4:13:12) and seems as if it will never fall (but I know it will eventually).  Yes I’m envious but at the same time proud of and in awe of my runner friends.  I know I can be one bad mofo of a runner.  Yesterday gave me hope that I’m one step closer to getting there.  Next up: The Cowtown Marathon 02/28/2016.  But preceding it will be more LSD miles, at least 3-4 runs of 20 miles, and a bit more speedwork.  Eventually all of the planets should line up.

Keepin it movin’

-TNT -

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

STOP CRAMPING MY STYLE! - My continuous battle with the Charlie Horse

I’m on a run, well into the run, I’m on a great pace, and everything is feeling absolutely terrific.  I’m fueling perfectly, hydrating the way I'm supposed to and then I get a twitch in my left calf.  Here we go again.  I know that in just a few miles, my calf or maybe my quad will completely seize up, causing excruciating pain.  If it’s a training run, I probably will cut the run short.  If it’s a race, especially a marathon, I can go ahead and hang up getting a P.R. if that is what I’m after, even after the first twitch I feel in my leg.  No amount of hydration, salt pills or consumption of anything- pickle juice, mustard, whatever will salvage this run. It’s going to be a done deal, when (not if) something cramps up unless I’m pretty close to the end of the run.  And after my muscle completely clutches up, it’s going to be sore for a few days and difficult to run on.  I have avoided registering for several different races which I really wanted to participate in and have cheated myself by cutting training runs short out of fear because the experience is so unpleasant when it happens. 
Cramp at around mile 12.5 during 2012
Dallas Rock N Roll Marathon (It's OK to laugh)
I am pretty sure now that I am part of a unique set of individuals.  Lots of times when on a group run, I hear someone complain that they have a cramp,I look over and they are still running.  This isn’t a real cramp, they don’t know cramps.  Or really, it’s not a Clay cramp.  When I cramp, it completely shuts me down, there is no running on whatever it is that is cramping.  It’s not at all possible. Maybe a fast limp, that is about it.  I know of only two other individuals who have it is bad as me-  my sister Lisa and my online running buddy friend in Florida, Michelle, who runs in just about as much humidity as we North Central Texas folks. Humidity and a few other things I have found, plays a part in initiating these cramps.  And all three of us sweat rivers when we are active.  So it has to be hereditary.  I’ve researched quite a bit and most articles and books, say that the reason for leg cramps is unclear.  It’s pretty clear to me now.  The cause is simply fatigue.
Charlie Horse knot caught in the act on my thigh
These leg cramps have happened for as long as I can remember.  My most memorable child experience with them was when I was maybe in 5th grade and me and a couple friends decided to ride our bicycles from our neighborhood Hamilton Park, which is just southeast of the High Five interchange to Town East Mall which may be about a 20-25 mile round trip I’m guessing.  For what reason we rode our bikes that far I can’t even remember.  But before then, I had never ridden a bike further than 5 miles at the most in one day.  For an 11 year old, that was a lot of stress on the legs all at once.  On the way back maybe just a couple miles away from home, my calf seized up.  I had no idea what it was, but I know it hurt like hell.  I ended up walking, crying the rest of the way home.  And that cramp came back and woke me up in the middle of the night.  I told my sister about it and she informed me that I had a ‘Charlie horse’ and that she has them often as well.  I remember thinking “Well if horses get these, that’s obviously why they hurt.”
 
Other times in my childhood remember the onset of these being caused by excessive swimming.  I cramped up pretty easily in the pool.  Once I became an adult I slowly became inactive over time, so there weren’t really any physical activities I would involve myself in which would cause any cramping until I started running years later.  However, whenever I would write or type for a long period of time, my hand would cramp up, and I do remember once when I was moving and had to transport a refrigerator, washer, dryer, deep freezer, two couches and a bunch of items unassisted within a four hour period produced back spasms and hand cramps by the end of the day.

So here is my hypothesis.  Dehydration, electrolyte imbalance, lack of stretching, etc does not cause cramping. But they can cause excessive fatigue, which does cause cramping.  One of my running sisters, Jacqui introduced me to Endurolytes which replenish your salts quite nicely, as I sweat excessively and they have helped me some.  But they will only work for so long for me.  After my muscles become so fatigued, they cramp.  High humidity causes you to work harder, which causes fatigue.  After my muscles become overly fatigued, they cramp.  Lack of hydration or lack of salts cause you to fatigue. Excessive hills cause fatigue.  When I fatigue, I cramp.  Most of you know about my “Claying out” incidents.  In those situations, my electrolytes were so imbalanced that every muscle in my body was beyond fatigued, so they cramped in dramatic fashion from my neck down to my toes and sent me to the E.R.

How do you fix it?  Just don’t get tired.  Sounds a lot easier said than done right?  Well this is the solution.  I have already proven it to myself, most recently when I raced El Scorcho 50K and Cowtown 50K in 2014.  Both races, I trained running a ridiculous amount of miles per week.  I built up my endurance and it worked. Simply get stronger. I had muscle twitching toward the end of both races, a lot of twitching.  Both races I was good for just about 31 miles, no more.  Any more and I would have folded into one big Charlie Horse and looked like a pretzel.  Also, do more runs which simulate what your race will be.  This year I’m running the Route 66 Tulsa Marathon again, which has quite a bit of rolling hills.  I caught a Charlie Horse 100 feet from the finish line when I ran it in 2013 and missed my marathon P.R. by exactly one minute.  That it was between 20-25 degrees out the whole race may have played a factor as well.  Speaking of this P.R. which is 4:13 something and is my first marathon and hasn’t fallen after running 10 of these, I remember doing a lot of fast tempo runs during training.  At the time my vehicle was not running and I commuted from work to home 5 days per week 7.5 miles via fast training run for probably 3 weeks or so.  I hit the infamous ‘wall’ around mile 23 during that marathon and ran/walked the rest of the way. I’m thinking I lacked some strength training.  I may have had at least a 4:05 with a little more push.  Last years Ragnar Relay 50K, I half trained for it not knowing how difficult the course would be.  There were a lot of rocky ups and downs and for the last leg I ran it was about 85 degrees and during mid afternoon and about 12 miles. About 8 miles in I started catching cramps everywhere from the waist down.  I was well hydrated and well 'electrolit'.  Didn't matter.  The fatigue from running all night long the night before got me.  I fought through the cramps for about 2 miles but they ended up winning.
But here's what running more miles and gaining extra endurance does for me.  When I first started running, in my first three half marathons I always caught a Charlie Horse in my calf at around mile 12 or 12.5.  When I started training for a full marathon and running more miles, and I participated in a half marathon, these leg cramps did not occur, however I would get them during full marathons between miles 17-22.  When I trained for my first 50k at Cowtown, I ran the first 28 miles without even a hint of a cramp.  I finished the last 3 with lots of twitching, but my muscles never fully Charlie Horsed up.  This shows that the more weekly miles I have during training, the more endurance and for me, the later the cramps will occur.

So this training season, there have been more tempo runs, more strides, more runs at marathon pace. More miles, more strength training, more hills, more time on feet. More, more, more.  Just get the body used to being battered, get stronger, and gain endurance.  I know now that my issue is unique and hereditary.  Where most folks can follow the training plan to a “T” and get results, my body requires just a bit extra.  But that’s O.K.  I’m no stranger to hard work.

-TNT-

Sunday, May 24, 2015

State of the Train Address

What up??
Hello my bloggees, this post is long overdue.  All is well.  It seems that my nagging injuries are pretty much behind me.  About time. I have concluded that I had a severe case of shin splints.  Never saw a doctor for it but managed to run through the pain while fulfilling my pacing duties for the Dallas Running Club’s Spring 2015 season.  Thank goodness I had a strong group and a stronger co-pacer to carry the group when I couldn't.  Thanks Omar.  More than likely running thru pain only resulted in prolonging the healing.  In the meantime, running only twice per week and sometimes once per week and less than 20 miles per week decreased my fitness level, made me fat and slow.  I seem to be snapping back to normal
quicker than I expected.  I don’t know what I would do without my running famly for encouragement, in particular my running sister Jamie who lots of times pushed me to do things in which I had become too lazy to do, but knew that I should.  My diet, fallen off.  Started eating lots of junk, gained some 10-12 lbs which I am struggling to lose now despite all of the running I have done in the past few weeks.  Even though I was not running on a regular schedule, I made sure to sign up and run a few races, even though I knew I would struggle through them and run in pain.  Afraid I would lose interest in running, I just wanted to stay in the mix and in the middle of things.   I usually have a race report after every race.  I know I've been slacking lately.  Here is a summary:

1/1/15 Day One Trail Run: The brief moment I wasn't injured, ran my 2nd fastest 5k.  Hilly very rainy, race was ran on the paved road because the dirt trail was closed.

1/10/15 Frigid 10K. Signed up, but skipped it to work instead.  I know. Bad Clay..

3/1/15 Cowtown 50K.  Cancelled race due to ice, bumped everyone to the 13.1 for safety reasons.  I was never so happy.  There was NO WAY I could have even run beyond 13.1 in the condition I was in.  And that was about all I had in the tank that day

3/21/15 Grasslands 13.1.  Sucked. So much mud.  Hurt the whole time, took forever to finish. It generated a good Facebook/Dailymile profile picture though.

4/12/15 Big D Marathon.  I sucked.  I was assigned to pace that day.  Didn't finish.  Thank God for co-pacers.  I love you Lisbeth.

5/16/15 Whispering Pines 20 mi.  Became afraid of 'Claying out' pulled out after 10 miles.  May have been a good decision, I don't know.  I felt good and was well hydrated and electrolit up.  But conditions out there were rather crazy as I watched others Clay out.

Running at one point this past spring had become not fun and had become a chore.  I figured though, that the injuries and lack of a consistent schedule had a lot to do with it.  And I was right.   Now healthy, last week I put together a pretty good string of workouts.  I have been having that ‘tingly’ feeling after runs that make me want to run more.  It’s on like popcorn now.

Currently…
I’m not training for anything specific right now, just trying to get myself into shape.  I was recently approached by Vishal, the DRC’s training director and presented with a coaching opportunity for the fall training season.  In February, I took the RRCA coaching certification course and am now a certified running coach.  Funny, I would have never thought in a million years that would happen.  But I guess that is why I am here.  I’m not the fastest or most competitive runner, but I feel that I can help others become that.  Consequently, I am trying to get my ass in shape before the fall season starts (in July) where I can run with the 3:50 marathon training group, the fastest group in which I will be responsible for on a regular basis.

Fall 2015
I am signed up for two races in the fall.  Both redemption races for me.  The Ragnar Relay 50k in which I was short 4 miles of finishing and the Williams Route 66 Marathon in which I was exactly one minute shy of beating my personal record 4:13.  This P.R. believe it or not has stood since my first marathon.  It will take some consistency and persistency to get there.  I can’t be half-assing it anymore.  There will probably be other races along the way which I will use as training runs or pace.  Probably those which Jamie has twisted my arm into running :)

Work!
Work has had an influence on my running in two different ways.  First is that after receiving a promotion and change in job duties AND also having to learn to work on a brand new claim system, it had required me to dedicate lots of hours to my desk.  This as you would expect took away from hours usually set aside to train or just had me too tired at the end of the day to crank out run mileage.  Many days I turned down running to work instead.  The minor injuries I had made it that much easier too.  I have made some adjustments recently and forced time in for run workouts.   The other way it has influenced my running recently is rather positive.  Some of you may wonder what I do at work.  I basically review claims that employees for different companies submit for time off work where they have become ill or had an injury and determine if they meet the definition of disability based on what they do at their job.  AKA, Short Term Disability.  All of the claims I am assigned are musculoskeletal claims.  Shoulders, knees, back issues, etc.  Talking to these folks and managing their claims reminds me to keep my ass active.  The common ailments I see are deteriorated discs, ruptured rotator cuffs, worn out knees.  Most end up with joint replacements, disc replacements and some end up headed toward permanent disability.  When I started this job, I was really surprised on how many people have back issues.  Probably 3 out of every 5 claims I receive today are for employees with disc issues.  Back issues scare me to death and from what I see, once you get them, they almost never go away.  The other thing I see is many of my claimants are overweight, don’t exercise and have poor diet which from the physician notes I read, is what causes their joint issues.  I have one account which I manage, a health club which a lot of you are familiar with, but I won’t name on here.  As you can imagine, their employees are in great shape physically.  Every claim I have received from them they return to work before expected.  These claims are usually from an injury like falling or twisting an ankle.  Minor stuff. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to see why they heal quicker.  So this has motivated me to get even stronger, stay active and encourage my family members to do the same.   Hips, shoulders, knees and toes, use them or lose them.  So keep it movin’.  I surely am.

TNT

Friday, December 26, 2014

2014 Recap

2014 Started off looking as if it would be my best ever statistically, then ended with some setbacks and disappointments.  But it was perhaps my most fun overall.

January 1 - Day one Trail Run.  This was a great way to start out the year.  I'm signed up for this one again 1/1/15 and talked a few friends into running with me.  

February 1 - CIGNA Mayors Race - Believe it or not, after 4 years of running, I ran my first ever 5k.  Clocked a 22.55 and was 8th place overall.  I may never see that again.
February 2 - First Ultra Marathon -  Cowtown Sunday.  My first ultra marathon.  I ran it easy, felt exceptionally strong between miles 19-27 and had better time at the end than I expected 5:21:44 and I walk/ran the last couple miles.

March 23 - Rock N Roll Dallas Half - PR which I had held for two years finally fell.  I finished in 1:45:10.  Best feeling ever those last 5 miles which were all downhill.

May 27 - OKC Marathon One of the craziest weekends ever.  A scheduled road trip to Oklahoma City with the DRC was thrown off schedule.  Our chartered bus showed up 4 hours late causing us to miss the marathon expo and packet pickup. Luckly we had friends in OKC who picked up the couple dozen plus packets.  Not only was our arrival delayed but so was the race, due to severe thunderstorms.  The 6:30 am race did finally get underway at about 8:30 am, but caused the tail end of running to happen during the heat of the morning.  As you expect, it made it rough for some.  I ran the whole thing easy, because I was just using the race to qualify to be a Marathon Maniac.  The road trip was still fun, made new friends.  

July 13 - El Scorcho 50k - I knew I was nuts for signing up for this.  And it was just as difficult as I expected.  I almost gave up after the the 6th 5k loop as I was cramping up badly.  So I just sat for 30 minutes, rehydrated, got salts in me then started back up and grinded out the last 4 loops fighting back cramps the whole way.  I knew I had a 7 hour deadline and I finished in 6:47.  I said I would never do that again.  But I'm already thinking of trying it again in July.

August 28 - Clay out incident #4.  OK so the first time, I didn't even know what happened to me, I survived it after running alone and a neighbor spotted me on the side of the road in agony and took me home.  The 2nd time it happened (Dallas Marathon 2012), I knew what happened but didn't know exactly what caused it and didn't know how to prevent it.  The third time I had friends witness it and found out what causes it after spending 2 hours in the ER and getting the talk from coach Steve.  This fourth time was just stupidity.  Don't run and forget to take in electrolytes, then start taking them after an hour into the run when the temps and humidity are approaching 90.  There will not be a #5.  Yeah, yeah, I know I said that after #3.

October 17-18 - Ragnar Relays - The most fun I have ever had.  A weekend of camping, which I had never done before, running, food, and friends.  It doesn't get any better than that.  The race itself was tougher than I thought it would be, probably because I half-ass trained for it.  I will be ready next time

November 11 - The fall.  During a non scheduled run which I should not have been doing, I was running one night, tripped over a bump in the street and landed directly on my left knee.  It seemed to be a minor injury, I even finished out the 4 miler with not much issue.  Over weeks it seemed to re-aggravate over and over.  I thought I was good to go a couple times only to re-aggravate it again.  After taking an extended amount of time off running, it seems to be nearly healed up.  Hopefully I won't be talking about this knee when the new year starts.

I'm heading into 2015 going the right direction.  I've already written out a fitness plan plan for myself and have implemented it a couple weeks ago.  Not a running plan, but a fitness plan.  So far so good.  My goal is to be in the best fitness that I can possibly be in.  That means incorporating a variety of different workouts, not just running.  I also at some point plan on buying a bike and mix in some riding.  I figure if I train as if i am an athlete, then my running will be elevated.

Favorite photos of 2014
I'm fortunate to have so many folks who are constantly taking pictures on runs.  



Day One Trail Run 2014

Breakfast Club.  Lots of times my highlight of the weekend after a satisfying long run

Me and Jackie C around mile 8 at Cowtown on the infamous Main St Bridge Hill

Me and Jamie finishing up the Cowtown Ultra.  Hurtin'

On the way to a new PR for a Half Marathon

Me and Coach Griff on pacing duty.  Big D Marathon 2014.

Bus trip back to Dallas from the OKC Marathon

Me and Jessica finishing the El Scorho Ocho 50k.
Looking better than what we were feeling.

Dallas TREX Ultra team, Ragnar Relay

4 Hour Power! 4:00 Marathon training group 

Jamie and I again, this time feeling good after pacing the DRC Half 2:05 group

Monday, October 20, 2014

Ragnar Trail Relays 2014


     So for so many of my friends who were not able to make it down this time around, here is how it all worked.  Ragnar Hill Country has 3 trails; the Green Loop (3 mi), Yellow Loop (5 mi), and the Red Loop (7.7 mi).  There are teams of either 4 runners (ultra) or 8.  Each member of the 8 man team is required to run each of these loops- about 16 miles total and each of the 4 man ultra team is required to run each loop twice equaling just over 31 miles.  Do the math and you come up with 125.6 miles per team.  


Elevation profile of Green, Yellow, and Red trail loops.

How you decided to run those depended on the team.  There were two ultra teams there representing the DRC, I was part of one of them.  My team decided to run two loops at a time.  The required order by Ragnar was to run the course in the order Green, Yellow, Red, Green, Yellow, Red, Green, Yellow etc...  So going in order was fellow DRCers Kristen, Kristin, Vishal, and me the last man.  Our group started at 2pm so my first run was not until after 8pm and the order would fall in place for me to start off running the Green, then the Yellow.  I had plenty of time to fuel up all day long, chill for a while, meet up with a few folks.  That was a decision made by the team before I arrived at the campsite, in an attempt to keep me out of the heat as everyone knows the issues I have with higher temperatures.  When I signed up for this, I was expecting cooler temperatures since it was in October.  By the time 8pm came around I was really ready to get it going, but sort of nervous because I had never run the trails at night before, outside of one time I got caught out at little L.B. Houston Preserve just before the sun went down.  The temperature had dropped from what felt like to me the low 80's to 73°.  I only know the latter temp now because I just looked at my Garmin data.  There was absolutely no phone reception or internet signal for anyone in the village to check the temps, weather or anything else for that matter.  The only use for a phone was to take pictures, which was a good thing.  This was a time to disconnect from the world and have a good time.  The scene there was very cool and laid back just like most all trail races are.   There was a live band, a bonfire, and just a general good feeling flowing throughout the village.  Dinner was then served which was pasta and salad.  I chowed down and had about an hour before Vishal's ETA of 8pm.

1st Leg.  Green and Yellow loops. 

     Vishal arrived a bit earlier than I expected, we made the exchange and off I went into the darkness on the Green Loop.  The first mile was upgrade then flat, upgrade then flat, upgrade then flat, upgrade.  There were many markers on the courses.  If you got lost it was because you were somewhere in LaLa Land and just wasn't paying attention.  Running the wrong way down a dead end or wrong trail got you little markers with "X" on them letting you know to turn around because you are running the wrong way.  I was worried that my headlamp would not be bright enough after  seeing on the race website that they recommended a headlamp that has an output of at least 70 lumens.  The one I brought only put out 16 lumens, but it was plenty bright enough.  I could see everything 10 feet in front of me, which was all I needed to see.  I thought that this night trail experience would be scary.  It was everything but.  It was so peaceful out there.  Even though I knew I probably had another dozen runners on the trail with me, I felt like it was just me and nature.  I made it back around and then started on the Yellow Loop.  Rocks galore.  Loose rocks, big rocks, small rocks, rocks on top of rocks. 
One of hundreds of course markers making it near
impossible to get off track on the course.
I had listened all day to other runners who had been on this course describing the surface as if they had to walk on hot coals.  This was good as I had painted a very bad picture.  It wasn't all that bad to me, but I could see how it would make your feet tender after a while.  I did stump my toe a couple times on that route.  First leg, no problemo.  Handed it off to Kristen with an 'e' to start the rotation all over again.  I went back to the camp, chilled for about an hour and calculated that Vishal would be on his way with the team bib around 3am.  I had just enough time to lay my head down and get a power nap.  I lay there until I fell asleep and looked up through the tent as I could see every single star in the sky as it seemed.  Really awesome stuff.


2nd Leg.  Red and Green loops. 
Vishal arrived at the exchange station at approximately 3:45 am.  This leg was my favorite part of the whole weekend.  What you read above about running in the darkness and it being just me an nature, multiply that times 10.  The most awesomest feeling.  At one point I just stopped on the Red Loop and looked out to the horizon to the best of my ability.  It was dark out there, but still beautiful.  I could hear all kinds of critters along with cows mooing in the distance.  Yes cows, we were on a ranch.  The Red Loop was my favorite one.  The race website described it as a rollercoaster ride.  I didn't notice that so much as much as it had more 'straightaway' than the other two trails.  And less rocks.  I may have taken too much time on it because when I completed the first loop, Kristen was already at the exchange area waiting on me.  No baby, one more loop to go.  Back on the Green loop again.  There was one funny moment on the Green Loop on the second go around.  While I was taking a short walk break, I could hear some rustling to my left.  So I turned to see what it was and there were three cows standing faced directly toward me.  My headlamp just happened to shine right directly into one of their faces and it jumped
I didn't have as much beef with
the course as others did
back about 5 feet.  I jumped back as well then had to laugh at myself.  Somewhere within the loop I caught a cramp in my right thigh.  I panicked.  I'm pretty sure that most everyone reading this right  now is aware of my past history with cramping and why I cramp.  I was taking my endurolytes and hydrating all day long leading up to the event, so I knew that I wasn't about to "Clay out", but in the back of my mind I sorta thought I was.  I stopped, let it cramp all the way up and release and I was fine.  The only issue was that another runner passed me, asked if I was OK during this little cramping epsode.  I told her 'no' and to report it when she got back to the village.  False alarm.  After I stretched it out, I was able to run just fine.  I finally got back to meet Kristen again at the exchange area.  I took this time to get in some coffee, breakfast and a small catnap.


3rd leg.  Yellow and Red loops. 
I have to admit, I had lots of anxiety leading up to this one.  No matter how the legs were arranged, there was not a way to avoid running in the heat.  Again, it felt like the temps were well into the eighties.  I knew as long as I stayed hydrated and "electrolit up" as I call it, there shouldn't be any Claying out.  I tried to stay off my feet as much as possible to be as fresh as I could be.  I even went and had my legs massaged with a special leg squeeze machine.  It seemed like every minute, the temps kept rising higher.  There was the occasional cloud cover which temporarily cooled the village off for a few minutes, but then the sun would come back beaming even harder.  So the only thing I knew I could do is just grin and bear it.  I knew it was going to hurt down towards the end, but I had been there before.  El Scorcho hurt, but it was bearable.  I went ahead and made my way down to the exchange area and waited for Vishal to come through for the last exchange.  I was expecting him at 1pm, and he showed up at 12:45pm.  That was fine and all, however found out that was just the first loop!  His assignment was to run the Red then the Green.  So he had the Green left to go.  I could tell that the Red Loop got the best of him along with the heat as he doused himself with water before going back out.  Oh shit.  That gave me another 30 min or so to prepare.  I had no idea what was going to happen when I got out there.  My legs felt okay, I was well hydrated, well fueled, had plenty water and fuel with me.  I said I would take it easy, and that was the last thing Vishal said to me as I took the bib from him for the last time "Take it easy out there man."  I walked the first quarter mile which was all uphill, then got into a light jog.  When I got to the top of the peak of the Yellow loop I pulled out my phone since it was the only place I could get reception in the whole place and left my wife details on voicemail of how everything should go down the rest of the day.  Just so she would know I was good.  I finished the yellow loop with no problem.  I left the course, went to the water station to refill my hydration pack before I continued on to the Red Loop and knock out the last 7.7 miles. 
Team Dallas Trex
I was feeling pretty good, but starting to feel some fatigue, but I was going to do this no matter what.  I got about a mile into the Red Loop and here come the cramps.  Screw that, I'm going to run through this shit.  My left thigh cramped, then the right.  I went ahead and let all of that contract to the fullest, which hurt like hell then stretched it out, then my calves did the same thing.  That whole sequence took about 5-10 minutes and I was able to keep running even though my legs felt like someone put them through a meat grinder.  But I wasn't "Claying", I knew this was nothing but fatigue, but I would not be denied, and I was not about to let my team down and have a team DNF. 

     Overall this was the most fun I had ever had at any race event.  It was so well put together, almost flawless.  I am so in there when we do this again, I'm assuming next year.