Weekend in Review: Now That’s Living!

What a weekend

Friday night we watched the opening of the London 2012 Olympics. I don’t care what the critics say, it was smashing, bloody awesome and truly brilliant!

We were entertained, moved and laughed out loud so many times. It was such an engaging production on so many levels. The music was so evocative, the scenes drew my imagination into the eras of British history they depicted and the humor was sophisticated, smart and British.

And The Queen! God save The Queen! I know this is her country but I never expected her to actually participate. Here in the US many of us think of her as this remote old lady who barely smiles and may have a sense of humor.

She was brilliant! She was the straight man to James Bond. I’ve loved James Bond since I was a kid. Unfortunately the current James Bond looks more like a Russian spy or Vladimir Putin, but that’s for another blog.  Just loved it when the shoots opened and the Union Jack was on full display in all of its glory.

I really loved the opening video where they followed the Thames from its source down to London. I’ve watched that bit twice now and it’s still on my DVR. I had to retrieve the opening night from an inadvertent deletion. I watched most of the Men’s cycling on Saturday.  I’m not a cycling fan but the competition was compelling and the scenery was out of this world! It was a 6 hour commercial for England. How could anyone watch that race, see those pastoral back drops and not have a burning desire to go to the UK?

On Saturday I pulled myself away from the Olympics and went to the Museum of Fine Arts (MFA) in Boston. We bought an annual family pass in February, but here it is late July and we just went for the first time Saturday. We’ve been to the MFA before, but always for events. When they have an event they usually limit access to one wing or section. With a regular ticket you can wander to your heart’s delight. Saturday, we saw maybe 20% of the exhibits. To me that’s fine. I have an annual pass. If I saw everything in one day I’d be disappointed.

The MFA has an extensive Egyptian display. I did not realize that the MFA and Harvard University have been doing expeditions together to Egypt for years. Going to back to the era of Indiana Jones. I know some people love this stuff, to me it was just okay. As our first time going through we did spend a few hours looking, reading and appreciating what we saw there.

We then went to the Art of the Americas Wing. Lot’s of furniture, Paul Revere handy work etc. Then we got to the galleries and saw the great American painters. I was absolutely mesmerized by John Singleton Copley’s work. Some of his work is so perfect you would think it was a color photo. The technique is brilliant. His use of light is genius. Just unbelievable.

Being able to get so close to paintings that I have seen in books and on TV was almost a religious experience. I was as close as the painter was when he did his work. I could see each brush stroke. Then I could step back and experience the entire work and let my imagination and emotions go. I had a tear in my eye more than once. Just an awesome, moving experience.

My love is the Impressionists. We did see some work of the American Impressionists, and it was fantastic. But I am a Monet guy. I love everything I have seen by him. After we had some lunch we headed for the European wing and looked for Gallery 255, where The Impressionists are. We were not disappointed: Monet, Manet, Degas, Renoir etc.

I just drank it in. When you stand as close to the work as the artist did, sometimes it is difficult to know what you are looking at. Seeing each brush stroke from twelve inches away is awesome. Then to step back and see the work in its entirety. I think I could have sat there and looked at some of these paintings for an hour. The more you look, the more there is to see.

We had an awesome experience at the MFA and we plan on going back again soon.

Sunday I went for the Sunday Long Run with my running club. The distance on the agenda was 10.7 miles. Thursday morning I went in for my second physical therapy session and asked about running longer distances. My PT was not thrilled about me running any more than 8 miles at a time. She finally relented and said 10 would be okay, depending on how I felt at 8 miles.  I averaged a 9:34 pace and hit 10.77 miles. I felt okay after the run, had some coffee with my friends and went home. I took a hot shower, did my prescribed stretching and feel fine today.

This week I plan on running twenty miles and staying at that level for the next two weeks. I may up my speed a little bit but I’m not going to move to 25 or 30 miles for another couple of weeks.

Overall, a complete package for the weekend: culture, sports and entertainment and quality time with my wife and daughter. Now that’s living!

©2012 anagelin

Recovery and PT

Happy Friday everyone! In many areas of the US the heat wave continues. Here in New England the heat has broken and the weekend should be comfortable and great for running.

Recovery and PT begins

I had my first appointment with the physical therapist on Monday. She gave me a series of stretches to do but no definitive diagnosis, so I’m not sure which muscle or tendon is causing my pain. She told me that it was okay for me to run short distances, so I was happy about that.

Things are feeling better and I do not have any unusual pain while running. I still have pain while driving my car. I think it is the piriformis muscle and not the hamstring that is the cause of my pain. While the piriformis and hamstring can both cause pain in the same area, I’ve never had pain like this before.

Since I am feeling better,I think the exercises are working. I plan to incorporate them into my normal stretching routine to help prevent future injuries.

Recovery run

VERT,SasquatchI ran the VERT Sasquatch 2.3 mile trail race last Sunday. It was my first ever trail race and it was fun. Trail running is a little different from street running and I would like to do more trail running in the future. All three beer vendors had great stuff and I’d drink them all again. They were NOTCH, Slumbrew and Pretty Things.

Tuesday night I ran 4.5 miles with the running club. We did a little walking and it was hot but I felt okay. I also ran a 5K at work. For a guy who is preparing for a Fall marathon, 10.1 miles in a week is pretty poor. But it’s better than nothing.

This Sunday I’ll join the club for their Sunday morning long run, but I’ll do the short course and see how it goes.

Have a great weekend, enjoy the summer weather and get in some good miles.

©2012 anagelin

Recovery and Pontifications

My journey as an injured runner continues

Except for the BAA 10K last Sunday I have not run at all this week. Every time I drive somewhere and see runners, the urge to jump out of the car and run with them is overwhelming. I feel like my entire routine is out of whack and off-balance.

roller, recoveryI’ve been using my new Thera-Roll foam roller every night and sometimes in the morning. Now my other hamstring is a little sore from the rolling! The muscles are not used to getting this type of pressure so it is uncomfortable while rolling and is then uncomfortable afterwards. I think it is working, but this is going to be a long-term recovery.

I went to the running club on Tuesday night but did not run. It was the final night for our Walk to Run program and I wanted to be there as everyone finished their first 3 mile run. It was fun to see them finish. Just about everyone I spoke with intends to keep running with the club. Afterwards Marathon Sports had some food and gift bags for all of the Walk to Run participants.

While I was there I talked to some of our veteran runners about my injury. Everyone agreed that it can take a long time to recover and you can’t rush it. I was also cautioned not to hit it hard when I come back as I can risk a re-injury. Rest, ice, ibuprofen and the roller were all recommended and getting some PT was suggested.  It was also apparent that almost every runner gets an injury at some point in their career. It just comes with the territory.

Being patient is the most difficult part of recovery. I had plans to run a lot of 5K and 10K races this summer as part of my training for my fall marathon. I’m glad I didn’t sign up and pay for those races now. Registration fees are normally nor-refundable. With each passing week the marathon gets closer and just thinking of the date makes me nervous. I’m going to start doing some short easy runs in the next week. If I feel any pain I’ll stop and take some more time off. If everything feels okay I’ll continue with short easy runs, just to be doing something.

This week’s pontification:

There is an adage that goes something like this:

“You’re never more likely to make a mistake than when you are absolutely sure that you are right.“

The logic is that when you are 100% confident in your choice, conclusion or way of thinking you stop looking for alternatives and disregard any facts or ideas that contradict your choice, conclusion, or idea.

In spite of better information you hold firmly to your beliefs even if the alternative is indisputably the better choice and disaster is imminent.

My running equivalent is this:

“You’re never more likely to injure yourself than when you are feeling strong, healthy and confident.”

When you have all of this going for you it is easy to feel that you can tackle any run at any pace. It makes it easy to disregard fatigue and disregard the fact that you are pushing yourself beyond your normal limits.

You can injure yourself in an instant and sometimes not even realize it.You may not feel an injury until the next day or your next run. While as humans and runners we need to push ourselves in order to make progress, we should not disregard common sense and safety. When we are at our peak or maximum we also need to realize that we cannot push much harder without risk of injury.

We all have limits. Go out and find those limits, but be careful about pushing too far beyond those limits.

Recovery can take a long time and is frustrating. Some injuries never go away completely, so it is best to try and avoid injury when you can.

Run well my friends.

©2012 anagelin

Half full glass

Monday, monday

Monday I wrote about my disaster in the locker room where a bottle of spray-on sun screen discharged completely into my gym bag and ruined my brand new, never worn tie. I’m still determined to salvage the tie and I’m having some luck.

I ran 10K Monday morning before work and thought I was doing great. I’ve never run before work and I was able to knock a good piece of my weekly mileage off. Over the course of the day my right hamstring got tight and started to hurt. Every time I got up from my desk my leg was killing me. On the drive home my leg hurt so bad that my foot was getting numb! It was unbelievable. So while I thought it was a great thing getting in a Monday morning run I had actually just caused myself problems.

roller, running injury recoveryAfter supper Monday night I ran over to Marathon Sports and bought a Thera-Roll. People have been raving about these rollers and what they can do for sore muscles. After my killer ride home from work I was desperate and willing to pay “whatever the cost may be” to get some relief.

As I mentioned Tuesday, the guy at Marathon Sports answered all of my questions and let me try out all of the rollers until I found the one that was just right.

I’ve used the roller every night this week and it seems to be working. But I can’t tell if the improvement is from not running or from rolling. Probably a little of both. I’m going to keep using the roller and see what happens. People have an almost religious zeal for these things.  I’m also making an appointment with a physical therapist.

If you want to see what the roller is all about click on the photo.

I had my summer race season planned out in the spring. Part of it was running the BAA Distance Medley. This was the 5K the day before the Boston Marathon and now a 10K this weekend. So now I’m trying to figure out if my hamstring will allow me to run this race and if running this race is going to take me out of action for the rest of the summer. I know I can’t go for a PR and that just finishing is going to be an accomplishment. I’m taking it day by day right now.

Oh, and the third race in the BAA Distance Medley is the BAA Half Marathon the Sunday before the ING Hartford Marathon which is on a Saturday. So my hamstring is a mess, I have a 10K before I have enough time to recover and then I have a half marathon with barely enough time for a healthy runner to recover before a full marathon!

I know that injuries are just part of being a runner. Earlier this year I hurt my foot because I bought the wrong shoes. This time I was just being dumb, over ambitious and thought I was invincible. And at my age I’m supposed to know better! Ha!

Here is my pontification

I’m always hearing people talk about the glass being half-full or half empty. In my mind this congers up an image of people sitting around contemplating the “glass of life” and merely ruminating or stewing on it. Well isn’t that special.

I say pick the freaking thing up and drink down the glass of life! Half-full or half-empty, chug that bad boy down until it is dripping down your chin and you are gasping for air. I assure you, that you will find it quite refreshing!

Cheers!

Chug down the half full glass and enjoy life!

Pain and Recovery

Yesterday was a bad day for me. I got in a 10K run before work but ended up exacerbating the problems with my right hamstring. All day I had to get up and walk around to stretch it and felt like an old man each time. On the drive home my leg and hip were killing me and I couldn’t wait to get out of the car.

Pain and recovery

pain and recoveryLast night I went and did something I’ve been thinking about for a long time: I bought a foam roller. People have been telling me how wonderful they are. I have finally gotten to the point where I have to try something different. The Coleman freezer pack under my leg while watching TV at night just isn’t getting it done.

I went over to Marathon Sports in Melrose and looked at the rollers they have. They are not cheap! I kept thinking these are extruded in some third-world country and cost a dollar to make. The guy at the store had me try a few out and answered my questions, all the reasons we go to running stores!  The one I ended up buying cost $64.95!

After trying a few different rollers and asking lots of questions, I decided to go with the firmest one with the ridges, the Thera-Roll. I need to dig deep into that hamstring!

To save a few bucks, well a lot of bucks, I went with the 18 inch 6lb Thera-Roll. As I walked out of the store and then drove home, my hamstring seemed to feel better all ready. “Is that possible” I thought? I only rolled for a few minutes and have no idea how I’m supposed to do this.

I used it some more when I got home. As a multi-tasker I was psyched that I could roll and watch Charlie Rose at the same time! Fantastic! Those ridges dug in good and deep and I could feel something going on.I only rolled for about 5 minutes and I have no idea if that was too long or to brief. I need to do some research today.

I’ll let you know what I find from my research and if this thing actually works.

  • Have you used one of rollers before?
  • Did it work for you?
  • How long did it take to feel results?

Run well my friends!

©2012 anagelin

Running Safety and Etiquette

Running Safety and Etiquette

Anyone who has been a runner for a while has probably run in the road at one time or another. Often runners encounter other runners, cyclist, dog walkers and cars and trucks. Even if you run on a trail or the side-walk you may have encountered all of these fellow travelers. On several occasions I have been running on a trail and had to negotiate a park ranger’s pickup truck or golf cart type vehicle.

“Right of way”

Runners often feel like they have the right of way as pedestrians. This may be true in some places but we do need to be both responsible and careful. When we encounter vehicles while out running, runners often loose in the collision. Is it worth being “right” or being a little aggressive with someone we feel is in the wrong?

I see runners running too far into the street or running three abreast and blocking traffic. With my own running club I occasionally see an oblivious mob taking up most or all of a street with no awareness of what they are doing. Sometimes patient drivers will give them the room and time they need to eventually get out-of-the-way.

Too often I have had cars pass way too close, even when they have plenty of room. I’ve had cars slow down and follow me as they try to give me room but only piss me off or freak me out. How about the cyclists who refuse to move at all? They know the challenges of the road but sometimes they act just like cars.

Most people are respectful and careful. Drivers pass at a safe distance, cyclists move over a bit, dog walkers have their pets sit or pull them a little closer. Many people out walking are aware of their surroundings and will move right even without a prompt.

Here are a few things that all of us should keep in mind as runners, cyclists, walkers or drivers.

Share the road and be courteous. Stay on the sidewalk or side of the road out of traffic. I always run inside of the white line on the side of the road. Most drivers do not cross over the white line and by staying inside the line I give them plenty of room. The side-walk is the best bet for safety.

When running in a group, run single file on busy or narrow roads. Don’t run three abreast so you can chat. That just pisses people off. And don’t run in the middle of the road blocking both lanes. That is completely inconsiderate.

When someone gives you the “go-ahead” at an intersection, wave politely and smile. Let them know that you appreciate their courtesy. They are more likely to be courteous next time.But keep an eye on them, they may still pull out in front of you.

At a cross walk, Don’t dart out in front of cars just because you are at a cross walk. The car can still hit you.

If there is a walk light button use it sparingly. If there aren’t any cars or they are far enough away that you can cross safely without stopping traffic, don’t press the button! A few times I have been stopped at a red light at a cross walk and watched a runner who crossed the street before the light changed and before I was even close to the cross walk. Even as a runner this pisses me off. Imagine how other stressed out and hurried drivers must feel. It doesn’t help our case any if we are carelessly stopping drivers when we don’t need to. Use your best judgment and be careful!

Always assume the driver doesn’t see you.

When a cyclist is approaching you, move over and look them in the eye. On a road a cyclist can only move over so much, so you need to give them room. By looking them in the eye you know if they see you and can usually get a pretty good idea of what they are going to do. I often get an appreciative nod or smile when I do this. They don’t want to hit you and they don’t want to get hurt either.

Run against traffic so you can see if a car or cyclist is going to pass too close. Be prepared to jump out-of-the-way. I want to see the white of their eyes before they hit me!

It’s a good idea to run with proper ID just in case. If you do get hit and become unconscious the people who are trying to help will need to contact your family. Some people suggest carrying your cell phone so you can call for help.  When traveling carry your business card and the hotel room key.

Visibility

Runner’s World suggests that in the dark, drivers can see you up to half a mile away if you are wearing a head lamp and up to a quarter-mile away if you have a flash light. At 150 yards bright clothing can get drivers attention. You should avoid dark colors at night and wear as much reflective material as possible. I’ve been running behind people in the dark many times. When a car comes up behind us and their lights hit the people in front of me, they often light up like a Christmas tree.

When I run after dark in the Fall or Winter I often wear a reflective vest and an LED head lamp. While I feel like a DPW worker, sometimes it is not enough and cars still get too close. You have to ALWAYS be aware.

Awareness

You should always be aware of your surroundings. Know the area you are running in and if it is safe or unsafe at certain times. I see people, especially women, walking with ear buds and being totally oblivious. To me this is just asking for trouble. I often call out “To the right”, but these people cannot hear me and I’ve had some close calls. If they can’t’ hear me and I’m trying to get their attention, imagine how easy it would be for someone to hurt them.

It is easy to get lost in your thoughts or just space out while running. A few times I’ve almost been run over by a cyclist or run into someone else because I was not paying attention. You may think you are alone out there but you’re usually not.

For Drivers

If you are approaching an intersection or cross walk and see a runner waiting, flash your lights if you are going to slow down and let them cross. They may just reach for that cross walk light button and make you stop.

Runners need some room when you are passing them but you don’t need to go into the other lane. Also, don’t drive next to a runner for long. I get nervous when a car slows down and drives beside or behind me. I guess they are waiting for a good time to pass, but I’m just waiting for them to hit me.

For Walkers

I often run on the sidewalk or paths in a park. I’m always encountering walkers who are deep in thought, conversation or just deep space. Two or three people walking side by side having a great chat; Fantastic. But how do they expect me to get around them?

I’ve yelled out “To the right” many times. Often people look around in complete bewilderment. Totally confused as to what to do; what side is my right anyway? As a walker please try to stay to the right side of the path and please try to pay some attention to your surroundings. And take off the ear buds.

I used to yell out “On your left”, but I think people were more confused by that. I think that people have an easier time responding to the command to get to the right. When you tell them you are on their left they’re not sure what to do about that. It is really amazing how many people seem to forget what side is their right side.

Run well my friends!

©2012 anagelin